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West Kalimantan

The vast province of West-Kalimantan is mainly shaped by the catchment area of the Kapuas, the longest river of Indonesia. West Kalimantan (Kalimantan Barat) has a surface of 146.807 and counts only a few million inhabitants. Traveling in this area is demanding, adaption to local problems and delays is required. Tourism in this province, almost unknown to the main public, is not encouraged as well.

The Dayak
Feared head-hunters no more

In the 19th century, the name of 'Land-Dayak' was introduced from Sarawak, to distinguish the Dayak living in the hinterlands from the Dayak which are called 'Sea-Dayak', or Iban, which mainly live in Sarawak. Populations which are counted in as 'Land-Dayak' are those which live along the middle-stream Kapuas: the Selako, Singgi, Jagoi, Sadung and populations which live along the upper-stream Sanggau and Sekayan. Just like the Iban, of which 7,000 of them live in West Kalimantan, these populations speak languages which are related with Malay.
Remains of the Hindu culture from the first millennium prove that the Dayak from the Kapuas are influenced from outside for centuries. Later the Javanese kingdom of Majapahit had influence on the coastal area. It is believed that the arrival of the first Javanese started the migration of the Iban and Land-Dayak, which first lived in Southwest Borneo.

Not long after the fall and Islamisation of the Hindu kingdom of Majapahit in the 15th century, the Land-Dayak had to deal with Islamisation by the sultans along the coast. They ruled over trade and often the Dayak were exploited. With the gradual colonization of the hinterlands, the Dutch stopped the Islamisation and stimulated the christian mission among the Land-Dayak. The Land-Dayak lived in longhouses, but their villages also has special mens-houses as well: circular buildings with a high, cone-shaped roof in which ceremonies and meetings were held. Some of these partially disappeared buildings were built on 10 meter high pawls with a hatch as entrance.

The Dayak used to bring sacrifices, consisting of dog meat with human blood, to their god of war. Successful warriors ate a mix of human brains and rice-wine. When the chief died, his image was cut out of a thick pillar, where a beheaded head was sacrificed.

Last revised on December 02, 2009
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