When did the Dayak start farming?

Dayak people - Dayak people

Indigenous ethnic group of Borneo
A sub-ethnic group of the Dayak, or Iban Sea Dayak, Boys and girls in traditional clothes.
Total population
6.3 million +
Regions with significant population groups
Borneo :
Indonesia 3,219,626
      West Kalimantan 1,531,989
     Central Kalimantan 1.029.182
      East Kalimantan 351,437
      South Kalimantan 80.708
      Jakarta 45,385
      West Java 45,233
      South Sulawesi 29,254
      Banten 20.028
      East Java 14.741
      South Sumatra 11.329
Malaysia 3,138,788
      Sarawak 1,835,900
      Sabah 1,302,888
Brunei 30.000
Malayo-Polynesian languages
Dayak languages
Ngaju • Iban • Klemantan • Kayan • Ot Danum • Barito • Bakumpai • Ma'anyan
Indonesian and Malay languages
Berau Malay • Kutai Malay • Mempawah • Sarawak Malay • Brunei Malay • Sabah Malay
Christianity (Protestantism, Catholic) (62.7%)
Islam (Sunni) (31.6%)
Kaharingan (4.8%)
and others (i.e. animism) (1%)
Related ethnic groups
Austronesian peoples
Banjarese • Malaysian • Rejang • Sundanese • Malagasy

The Dayak ( Indonesian pronunciation: [ˈDaɪ.ək] (listen) ; older spelling: Dayak ) or Dyak or Dayuh are one of the native groups of Borneo. It is a loose name for over 200 ethnic subgroups of rivers and hills, mainly located in the central and southern interior of Borneo, each with their own dialect, customs, laws, territory and culture, although common distinguishing features are easily recognizable. Dayak languages ​​are classified as part of the Austronesian languages. The Dayak were animistic in belief; Since the 19th century, however, there has been a mass conversion to Islam and Christianity due to the spread of foreign religions.


The sociolinguistic map of Dayak, as described by Tjilik Riwut in 1954, dividing the Dayak groups into Ngaju, Apu Kayan, Iban, Klemantan, Murut, Punan and Ot Danum.

The Dayak in Borneo have an indigenous account of their history, mainly in oral literature, partly in writing in Papan Turai (wood records), partly in common cultural practices. Prominent accounts of the Dayak people's origins include the mythical oral epic "Tetek Tahtum" by Ngaju Dayak from central Kalimantan; The Dayak ancestors are reported to have descended from the sky before moving from inland to the downstream shores of Borneo.

The independent state of Nansarunai, founded by the Ma'anyan Dayaks before the 12th century, flourished in southern Kalimantan. The kingdom suffered two major attacks by the Majapahit forces that caused the decline and fall of the kingdom by 1389. The attacks are in the oral reports of the Ma'anyan people as Nansarunai Usak Jawa (which means "destruction of the Nansarunai by the Javanese"). These attacks contributed to the migration of Ma'anyans to the Central and South Borneo region.

In the colonial reports and reports on the Dayak activities in Borneo, the carefully cultivated economic and political relations with other communities as well as extensive research and study work on the history of the Dayak migrations are detailed. In particular, the exploits of Iban or Sea Dayak in the South China Sea are documented in the 18th and 19th centuries due to their ferocity and aggressive culture of war against marine groups and emerging western trade interests.

In 1838 the adventurer James Brooke came to the area to find the Sultan of Brunei in a desperate attempt to quell an uprising against his rule. Brooke helped the sultan put down the rebellion, for which he was appointed governor of Sarawak in 1841, and received the title of Rajah. Brooke undertook operations to quell the Dayak piracy and set a secondary target to put an end to their headhunting practice as well. During his tenure as governor, Brooke's most famous Dayak opponent was the military commander Rentap. Brooke led three expeditions against him and eventually defeated him in the Battle of Sadok Hill. During the expeditions, Brooke employed numerous Dayak troops and quipped that "only Dayaks can kill Dayaks". Brooke became controversial in 1851 when allegations against him of excessive use of force against the Dayaks under the guise of anti-piracy operations ultimately led to the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry in Singapore in 1854. Following an investigation by the commission, the charges were dismissed. Brooke used his Dayak troops in other military expeditions, for example against the Sino-Malaysian insurgent Liu Shan Bang and the Sarawak warrior Sharif Masahor.

During World War II, Japanese forces occupied Borneo and all of the indigenous peoples were badly treated - massacres of the Malay and Dayak peoples were commonplace, especially among the Dayaks of the Kapit Division. In response, the Dayaks formed a special unit to support the Allied forces. Eleven US airmen and a few dozen Australian special agents trained a thousand Dayaks in the Kapit Division in guerrilla warfare. This tribal army killed or captured approximately 1,500 Japanese soldiers and provided the Allies with vital information about Japanese-held oil fields.

During the Malay Emergency, the British military deployed Dayak troops against the Malay National Liberation Army. News of this reached the British Parliament in 1952 after The Daily Worker Had posted photos of Royal Marines posing with Dayak Boy Scouts holding the severed heads of suspicious MNLA members. Initially, the British government refused to allow Dayak troops to headhunt the MNLA until Colonial Secretary Oliver Lyttleton confirmed to Parliament that the Dayaks had indeed been granted such a right. All Dayak troops were disbanded at the end of the conflict.

Coastal people in Borneo are largely Muslim by faith, but these groups (Tleid, Banjarese, Bulungan, Paser, Kutainese, Bakumpai) are generally considered Malayised and Islami native of Borneo and heavily amalgamated by the Malays, culture and sultanate systems. These groups identified because of the closer cultural identity of the Malay people compared to the Dayak Roof classification as Melayu or Malay subgroup, as the latter is traditionally associated with their pagan beliefs and tribal lifestyle.

The classification of the Dayak is largely limited to the ethnic groups traditionally concentrated in the south and interior of Sarawak and Kalimantan. Other indigenous groups that lived in northern Sarawak, in parts of Brunei and Sabah, mainly Bisayah, Orang Ulu, Kadazandusun, Melanau, Rungus and dozens of smaller groups, were classified separately from the Dayaks due to their different culture and history.

Other groups in the coastal areas of Sabah and northeast of Kalimantan; The Illanun, Tausug, Sama and Bajau, who have inhabited the northern tip of Borneo for centuries and ruled (in the case of the Tausug Group), have their cultural origins in the southern Philippines. Although these groups are native to the northeast of the Borneo coast, they are not Dayak, but are grouped under the separate generic term Moro, especially in the Philippines.


Various indigenous Malay and Dayak homeland in Borneo, Indonesia. In contrast to the coast of Borneo, which is predominantly inhabited by ethnic Malay and Banjars, the Dayak groups were further inland from Kalimantan. Apart from Kalimantan, the Dayak groups can be found in the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Brunei.

The term "dayak", a local Malay word ("daya", "daya" or "dayuh") corresponding to "savage" began as a derogatory term used by Malaysian coastal residents adopted by European colonial administrations as general term that refers to all non-Muslim tribes inland. There are seven main ethnic divisions of Dayaks according to their respective mother tongues, customs and cultures:

  1. Ngaju
  2. Apo Kayan including Orang Ulu
  3. Iban (Sea Dayak) or Hivan
  4. Bidayuh (Land Dayak) or Klemantan
  5. Kadazan, Dusun, Murut
  6. Punan
  7. Ot Danum

Among the main classifications, dozens of ethnic groups and hundreds of sub-ethnic groups live on the island of Borneo. There are over 30 ethnic Dayak groups speaking different languages. This cultural and linguistic diversity corresponds to the high biodiversity and the associated traditional knowledge of Borneo.

The above list of Tjilik Riwut's Dayak clusters was revised by the First International Dayak Congress and the First International Dayak Exhibition in 2017 and reads: Ngaju-Ot Danum, Apo Kayan-Kenyan, Iban, Klemantan, Kadazan-Dusun and Punan.


Dayaks don't just speak one language. Their indigenous languages ​​belong in the general classification of Malayo-Polynesian languages ​​and belong to different groups such as Land Dayak, Malayic, Sabahan and Barito languages. Nowadays, most of the Dayaks are bilingual and speak Indonesian well in addition to their mother tongue.

Many of Borneo's languages ​​are endemic (meaning they are not spoken anywhere else). It is estimated that around 170 languages ​​and dialects are spoken on the island and some are spoken by just a few hundred people, posing a serious risk to the future of these languages ​​and their associated heritage.

Headhunting and peacemaking

The gallery inside a Kayan Dayak house with skulls and guns on the wall shows off their headhunter culture

In the past, the Dayaks were feared for their ancient tradition of headhunting practices (the ritual is also known by the Dayaks as Ngayau called ). Among the Iban Dayaks, it was believed that the origin of headhunting was one of the rules of mourning given by a spirit which reads as follows:

  • The sacred vessel may only be opened by a warrior who has managed to obtain a head, or by a man who can present a human head obtained in battle. or from a man who has returned from a stay in a hostile country.

Often a war leader had at least three lieutenants (called Manuk Sabong) who in turn had some followers. The rules of war (ngayau) among the Iban Dayaks are listed below:

  • When a war leader leads a group on an expedition, he must not allow his warriors to fight an innocent tribe who do not have a quarrel with them.
  • If the enemy surrenders, he must not take his own life so that his army will not be unsuccessful in future wars and run the risk of carrying out war attacks (balang kayau) with empty hands.
  • The first time a warrior takes a head or captures a prisoner, he must present the head or prisoner to the war leader in recognition of his leadership.
  • If a warrior takes two or more heads or prisoners, the war leader must be given one at a time. The rest belongs to the murderer or kidnapper.
  • The war leader must be honest with his followers so that he is not defeated in future wars (alah bunoh).
A Dayak with earrings and a lance (taken around 1920, Dutch Borneo). The Dayaks used to be called headhunters by Europeans. In the first half of the 19th century, the Dutch colonial government in East and South Borneo successfully restricted the traditional headhunting culture of the Dayaks. In reality, not all Dayaks were hunters and gatherers, most Dayaks in the 19th century are actually farmers who mainly deal with alternating cultivation. They also collected forest goods and animal hunting.

There were several reasons for headhunting as listed below:

  • For soil fertility, Dayaks hunted fresh heads before harvest time, after which a head festival was held in honor of the new heads.
  • To add supernatural power that Dayaks believed to be centered in the soul and head of man. Fresh minds can impart magical powers for community protection, the plentiful harvest of rice fields, and the healing of diseases.
  • To seek vengeance for murders based on the "blood credit" principle unless "adat pati nyawa" (standard indemnity coupon) is paid.
  • To pay the dowry for marriages, e.g. B. "Derian Palit Mata" (eye blocking dowry) for Ibans once blood has been splashed before marriage is approved and of course new fresh minds show skill, valor, ability and ability to protect his family, community and land
  • So that the foundation of new buildings is stronger and more meaningful than the usual practice of not using human heads.
  • To protect against enemy attacks on the principle of "attack first before attack".
  • As a symbol of power and social status, the more heads someone has, the more respect and fame they deserve. The war leader is called Tuai Serang (War Leader) or Raja Berani (King of the Brave) while Kayau Anak (Leader of a Small Raid) is just called Tuai Kayau (Raid Leader), with Adat Tebalu (Widower Rule) being paid after their death according to their rank status in the community.
  • For territorial expansion where some brave Dayaks deliberately migrated to new areas like Mujah "Buah Raya" or from Skrang to Paku to Kanowit while fighting among the Ibans in Batang Ai, the Ulu Ai Ibans migrated to the Batang Kanyau River in Kapuas , Kalimantan and then on to Katibas and later to Ulu Rajang in Sarawak. The earlier migrations from Kapuas to Batang Ai, Batang Lupar, Batang Saribas and Batang Krian were also made possible by fighting local tribes like Bukitan.

Reasons for giving up headhunting are:

  • Suppression of headhunting and piracy through punitive expeditions and the enactment of relevant laws by colonial governments such as Brooke in Sarawak and Dutch in Kalimantan.
  • Peace agreements in Tumbang Anoi, Kalimantan, 1874 and Kapit, Sarawak, 1924.
  • Christianity comes with an education that teaches Dayaks that headhunting is murder and goes against the teachings of the Christian Bible.
  • Dayak's own realization that headhunting was more to lose than to win
The Dayak longhouses along the Kahayan River in Tumbang Anoi village (ca.1894), the village witnessed the Tumbang-Anoi Agreement 20 years earlier in 1874 that ended the Dayak headhunting practice in Borneo (Kalimantan) in the Netherlands.

This is one of the most important heirs during the colonial rule in the Dutch Borneo (today Kalimantan) Tumbang-Anoi Agreement of 1874 in Damang Batu, Central Kalimantan (seat of the Kahayan Dayaks). It is a formal meeting where all Dayak tribes in Kalimantan came together for a peace settlement. In the meeting, which allegedly lasted several months, the Dayak across Kalimantan agreed to end the headhunting tradition, believing that the tradition caused conflict and tension between various Dayak groups. The meeting ended with a peace resolution by the Dayak people.

After European administrations passed mass conversions to Christianity and anti-headhunting laws, the practice was banned and appeared to have disappeared. However, the Brooke-led government of Sarawak, while banning unauthorized headhunting, banned "ngayau" headhunting practices by Brooke-supporting natives during military expeditions against insurrections across the state, thus creating the spirit of headhunting, particularly among the Iban natives. never really been wiped out. The state-sanctioned troops were allowed to take heads, properties like glasses and brassware, burn down houses and farms, be exempt from paying door taxes, and in some cases grant new areas for migration. The practice of this Brooke was in marked contrast to the practice of the Dutch in neighboring West Kalimantan, who forbade all indigenous participation in their punitive expeditions. Originally, James Brooke (the first Rajah of Sarawak) hired his small marine in the Battle of Beting Maru against the Iban and Malay of the Saribas region and the Iban of Skrang on Rentap's indictment, but this led to a public inquiry by the colonial government in Singapore. After that, the Brooke government assembled a local force who were their allies.

As a result, headhunting resurfaced in the mid-1940s when the Allied powers promoted the practice against the Japanese occupation of Borneo. It also rose slightly in the late 1960s when the Indonesian government of Dayak encouraged to remove from inside Kalimantan the Chinese who were suspected of supporting communism in mainland China, and also in the late 1990s when the Dayak began attacking Madurese emigrants in an explosion of ethnic violence.

The headhunt reappeared among Dayak soldiers in 1963 during the confrontation campaign by President Sukarno of Indonesia against the newly created formation of Malaysia between the pre-existing federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak on September 16, 1963, when the Malay emergency against the communist insurrection wanted Behead enemies killed during their military operations but denied by their superiors.

Headhunting or human sacrifice was also practiced by other tribes such as the following:

  • The Toraja community in Sulawesi used adat ma 'barata (human sacrifice) in the rambu solo' ritual, which is held until the arrival of the Hindi-Dutch. This is a custom to honor someone with a symbol of a great warrior and valor in a war.
  • Megalithic artifacts existed in Gomo, Sumatra, one of which is "Batu Pancung" (decapitation stone) to which captured or convicted criminals can be tied for decapitation.
  • One distinction was their ritual headhunting practice, which was once prevalent among tribal warriors in Nagaland and among the Naga tribes in Myanmar. They took the heads of the enemies to take their power.

Agriculture, Land Ownership, and Economy

A troupe of Bahau Dayak cast members during the Hudoq festivals (Harvest festival) in Samarinda, the residence of South and East Kalimantan, Dutch East Indies (today's East Kalimantan, Indonesia). (Recorded around 1898–1900)

Traditionally, Dayak agriculture was based on a truly integrated indigenous farming system. Iban Dayaks tend to plant rice on slopes while Maloh Dayaks prefer lowlands, as discussed by King. Arable land in this sense was mainly used and defined in terms of mountain rice cultivation, Ladang (garden) and Hutan (forest). According to Prof. Derek Freeman in his report on Iban Agriculture, Iban Dayaks practiced 27 levels of rice growing on hills once a year, and their alternating cultivation practices allow the forest to regenerate itself rather than harm the forest and so the environment to protect continuity and sustainability of forest use and / or the survival of the Iban community itself. The Iban Dayaks love primeval forests because of their dependence on forests, but that is for migration, territorial expansion and / or escape from enemies.

Dayaks organized their work in the form of traditionally resident land tenure groups that determined who owned land rights and how it should be used. The Iban Dayaks practice a rotating and reciprocal exchange of work called Bedurok to see the work of all families in each longhouse on their own farms complete . The "green revolution" in the 1950s spurred the cultivation of new varieties of wet rice among the Dayak tribes.

To make money, Dayaks collect jungle products for sale in markets. With the arrival of cash crops, dayaks, gum, pepper, cocoa, etc. begin to plant. Today, some Dayaks plant oil palms on their land while others seek work or trade.

One belief is that when people die, hornbills come into their souls.

The main dependence of the Dayak on subsistence and medium-sized agriculture has made this group active in this industry. Today's rise in large-scale monocrope plantations such as palm oil and bananas proposed for much of Dayak land, held under the usual rights, titles and claims in Indonesia, threatens the local political landscape in various regions of Borneo.

Further problems continue to arise, in part, due to the design of the modern Malaysian and Indonesian nation-states with regard to post-colonial political systems and laws on land-use duration. The conflict between the state and the Dayak natives over land laws and indigenous customary rights will continue as long as the colonial model of land ownership is applied against local customary law. The main tenet of land use in local common law is that arable land be owned and held by local owners, and the concept of land ownership stems from this central belief. This understanding of adat is based on the idea that land is used and kept under indigenous conditions. When colonial rule was first felt in the Kalimantan kingdoms, there were several conflicts between the Dayaks and the respective authorities over the submission of the territory.

Religion and festivals

Dayak chief with a spear and a Klebit-Bok shield.
A native of Borneo (June 1853, X, p. 60)


The Dayak indigenous religion has been named Kaharingan and can be described as a form of animism. The name was coined in 1944 by Tjilik Riwut during his tenure as a Dutch colonial resident in Sampit, Dutch East Indies. In 1945, during the Japanese occupation, the Japanese referred to Kaharingan as the religion of the Dayak people. During the new order in the Suharto regime in 1980, Kaharingan was registered as a form of Hinduism in Indonesia, as the Indonesian state only recognizes 6 forms of religion, namely Islam, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. The integration of Kaharingan into Hinduism is based not on the similarities in the theological system, but on the fact that Kaharingan is the oldest belief in Kalimantan. In contrast to the development in the Indonesian Kalimantan, the Kaharingan is not recognized as a religion in either the Malaysian Borneo or Brunei. Hence, the traditional Dayak belief system is known as a form of folk animism or paganism on the other side of the Indonesian border.

The best and still unsurpassed study of the traditional Dayak religion in Kalimantan is that of Hans Scharer, Ngaju Religion: The idea of ​​God among a people in South Borneo ; translated by Rodney Needham (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1963). The practice of Kaharingan differs from group to group, but shamans, specialists in ecstatic escapes to other realms, are central to the Dayak religion and serve the different realms of heaven (upper world) and earth and even the underworld bring together. For example, healing the sick by bringing back their souls who are en route to the land of the dead in the upper world, accompanying and protecting the soul of a dead man on the way to their right place in the upper world, and presiding over the renewal every year - and agricultural regeneration festivals, etc. Death rituals are most elaborate when a nobleman ( Kamang ) dies. On certain religious occasions the spirit is believed to descend to attend a celebration, a token of honor and respect for past ancestors and a blessing for a prosperous future.

A Sanding that houses the remains of a Pesaguan Dayak in Ketapang, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. As the rise of Christianity within the Dayak community since the 19th century, traditional burial based on the Kaharingan belief is on the verge of extinction.

Iban religion

Among Iban Dayaks, their beliefs and way of life can simply be referred to as the Iban religion ( pengarap asal ) as described in Jenson's book of the same name, extensively written by Benedict Sandin and others. It is characterized by a supreme being in the name of Bunsu (Kree) Petara who has no parents and creates everything in this and other worlds. Under Bunsu Petara are the seven gods, whose names are: Sengalang Burong as god of war and healing, Biku Bunsu Petara as high priest and deputy, Menjaya as first shaman (Manang) and god of medicine, Selampandai as god of creation, Sempulang Gana as god of agriculture and land together with Semarugah, Ini Inda / Inee / Andan as naturally born doctor and god of justice and Anda Mara as god of wealth.

The life acts and decision-making processes of Iban Dayaks depend on divination, augury and omens. You have several different methods of obtaining omens which can be obtained through targeted searches or chance encounters. The first method is through dreams, spells, amulets ( Pengaroh, Empelien, Engkerabun or medicine ( Obat ) and a curse ( Sumpah ) from gods, people from Panggau Libau and Gelong as well as from ghosts or spirits. The second method is via Animal Signs (Burong Laba), which have long lasting effects, such as: B. deer barking, which is by nature quite random. The third method is through bird signs (Burong Bisa) which have short term effects that are usually limited to a specific farming year or a specific activity at hand. The fourth method is divination of the pig liver after the celebration of the festival. At the end of critical festivals, pig liver divination is interpreted to predict the outcome of the future or the happiness of the person who is holding the festival. The fifth, but not the slightest, method is over Nampok or Betapa (self-imposed isolation) to receive amulet, curse, medicine or healing.

There are seven Omenbirds under the direction of their chief Sengalang Burong in their longhouse called Tansang Kenyalang (Hornbill Abode), namely Ketupong (Jaloh or Kikeh or Entis) (Rufous Piculet) as first in command, Beragai (Scarlet Trogon)), Pangkas (Maroon Woodpecker) ) on the right of Sengalang Burong's family room, while Bejampong (Crested Jay) as deputy Embuas (Banded Kingfisher), Kelabu Papau (Senabong) (Diards Trogon) and Nendak (White-Rumped Shama)) on the left. The omen's calls and flights, as well as the circumstances and social status of the listeners, are taken into account in the omen interpretations.

Prayer and atonement to certain gods to receive good omens who show God's favor and blessings are held in a series of three-tiered minor ceremonies ( bedara ), Intermediate rites ( gawa or nimang ) and big festivals ( Gawai ) ascending order and complexity. Each Iban Dayak will go through some forms of simple rituals and several elaborate festivals that are required in their life from a baby to adolescence to adulthood to death. The longhouse where the Iban Dayaks reside is uniquely built to function for living or housing purposes as well as ritual or religious practices. Near the longhouse is usually a small and simple hut called Langkau Ampun / Sukor (Forgiveness / Thanksgiving Hut), which was built to offer sacrifices to gods. Sometimes when potentially bad omens arise, a small hut is quickly built and a fire is made before prayers are said for good results.

All these reconciliations have in common that prayers to gods and / or other spirits are made through offerings ("piring"), certain poetic leka main and animal sacrifices ("genselan"), either chickens or pigs. The number (Leka or Turun) of each piring item is based on ascending odd numbers that have the following meanings and purposes:

  • piring 1 for piring jari (feed)
  • Piring 3 for Piring Ampun (Mercy) or Seluwak (Wastefulness)
  • piring 5 for piring minta (request) or bejalai (travel)
  • Piring 7 for Piring Gawai (festival) or Bujang Berani (brave warrior)
  • Piring 9 for Sangkong (including others) or Turu (leftovers included)

Piring includes an offer of various traditional foods and drinks while Genselan produced by sacrificing chickens for bird omen or pigs for animal omen.

Bedara usually held for general purposes before any ritual or festival where a simple one is held Miring Ceremony is performed to Piring Prepare offerings and divide them into parts, followed by one sampi ngau bebiau (Prayer and purification) poetic speeches. These simple ceremonies have categories like Bedara Matak in the longhouse family Bilek- Room, Bedara Mansau in the family ruai gallery, Berunsur (Cleaning) on Tanju and river, Minta Ujan Tauka Panas (Request for rain or sun).

The moderately difficult and medium-sized atonement rites are as Gawa (working ritually) acquainted with her Main highlight called Nimang (poetic incantation), that of Lemambang Bards being recited alongside miring ceremonies. This category is smaller than, or is sometimes relegated to, the full-fledged and therefore expensive festivals in order to achieve cost savings but still maintain effectiveness to achieve the same purpose. This category includes "Sandau Ari" (lunch ritual) on the Tanju veranda, Gawai Matak ( immature Firmly), Gawa Nimang Tuah ( Lucky festival ), Enchaboh Arong (Main festival) and Gawa Timang Beintu-Intu (Live caring feasts.

The main festivals include at least seventh categories that relate to important aspects of the traditional Iban way of life, such as: B. Agriculture, headhunting, wealth, health, death, reproduction and weaving.

Since paddy is the main livelihood among the Dayaks, the first main category includes the agricultural festivals dedicated to paddy farming to honor Sempulang Gana who is the deity of agriculture. It is a series of festivals which include Gawai Batu (Whetstone Festival), Gawai Ngalihka Tanah (Soil Plow Festival), Gawai Benih (Seed Festival), Gawai Ngemali Umai (Farm Healing Festival), Gawai Matah (Harvesting Festival), and Gawai Basimpan (Paddy Storing Festival) ). According to Derek Freeman, there are 27 levels of Hill Paddy Farming. A common ritual activity is called "mudas" (reparation) of any omens found during an agricultural phase, especially the early phase of the bush cleaning.

The second category includes the headhunting-related festivals in honor of the most powerful deity of war, Sengalang Burong, consisting of Gawai Burong (Bird Festival) and Gawai Amat / Asal (Real / Original Festival) with their successive ascending stages, the most famous of which is Gawai Kenyalang (Hornbill Festival). This is perhaps the most elaborate and complex festival that can last seven consecutive days of ritual incantation by Lemambang bards. It is kept normal after being instructed by ghosts in dreams. It is performed by Tuai Kayau (raid leader) named Bujang Berani (leading warrior) and war leader (Tuai Serang) known as the "Raja Berani" (brave king). In the past, this festival has been vital in seeking divine intervention to defeat enemies such as Baketan, Ukit and Kayan while migrating to new areas.

The Islamized Bakumpai Dayak who mainly focused on the Barito River system in South Kalimantan. (Photo taken around 1920s)

With the suppression of headhunting, the next important and third category relates to the rituals related to death, among which the Festival of Souls (Gawai Antu) is the largest celebration to honor the souls of the dead, especially the famous and courageous, the The living for the Sebayan (Haedes) are invited to visit, to celebrate and to give all possible helpful charms to the living relatives. The Raja Berani (Brave King) can be honored by his descendants up to three times over Gawai Antu. Other Death ceremonies are Beserara Bungai ( Flower separation ) held three days after the funeral, Ngetas ulit (Termination of mourning), Berantu ( Gawai Antu ) or Gawai Ngelumbong (Funeral festival).

The fourth category in terms of complexity and importance is the fortune festivals, which consist of Gawai Pangkong Tiang (Post Banging Festival) after being moved to a new longhouse, Gawai Tuah (Fortune Festival), with three ascending levels to bring happiness seek and welcome. and Gawai Tajau (Jar Festival) to welcome newly acquired glasses.

The fifth category consists of the health-related festivals where Menjaya or Ini Andan ask for a cure for the disease, such as Gawai Sakit (Disease Festival), which takes place after other smaller attempts have failed to cure the sick, such as B. Begama (Contact). , belian (various Manang rituals), Besugi Sakit (to ask Keling for healing through magical power) and Berenong Sakit (in order to heal through Sengalang Burong to ask) in ascending order. Manang is called through an official ceremony Gawai Babangun (Manang Consecration Festival). The shaman ( Manang ) the Iban Dayaks has different types of Pelian (ritual healing ceremony) that must be held according to the types of illnesses determined by him through his glassy stone in order to determine the whereabouts of the soul of the sick person. In addition, Gawai Burung can also be used to cure certain difficult-to-cure illnesses through Sengalang Burong's magical power, especially now that headhunting has stopped. Other self-sufficient ritual ceremonies that focus on wellness and longevity Respectively , are Nimang Bulu ( Hair addition ceremony ), Nimang Sukat (Ceremony of fate) and Nimang Buloh Ayu (Bamboo Life Ceremony).

The sixth category of festivals concerns procreation. Gawai Lelabi (River Turtle Festival) is held to pray to the deity of creation named Selampadani, to announce the willingness of the daughters to marry and to find a suitable applicant. Here the men with trophy skulls become leading competitors. The wedding ceremony is called Melah Pinang (Areca Nut Splitting). The creation god Selampandai is invoked here so that the daughters can bear many children. There are a number of ritual rites in children from birth to puberty.

The last and seventh category is Gawai Ngar (Cotton-Dyeing Festival), which is hosted by women who Pua Kumbu weave for conventional purposes and ritual purposes. Ritual textiles woven by Iban women are used at the bird festival and have been used in the past to obtain trophy heads. The ritual textiles have specific ones Narrow ceramic Motifs (anthropomorphic motifs), the Igi Balang (Trophy head), Tiang Ranyai (Shrine pole), cultural heroes of Panggau and Gelong, deities and Antu Gerasi (Demon figure) represent.

Over the past two centuries, some Dayaks converted to Christianity and abandoned certain ancestral cultural rites and practices. All Dayak gods and deities were called mythology and converted Dayak Christians are not allowed to worship this Dayak god and deity, which indirectly leads to Dayak people forgetting their original religion and ritual. Christianity was introduced to Borneo by European missionaries. Religious differences between Muslim and Christian natives in Borneo have created communal tensions at different times. However, relationships between all religious groups are generally good.

Many Christian Dayak have changed their name to European names, but some minorities still keep the traditional names of their ancestors. Since Iban converted to Christianity, some of them have given up the beliefs of their ancestors such as "Miring" or "Gawai Antu", but many only celebrate Christianized traditional festivals. However, some believe that it is not necessary to give up their tribal beliefs in order to be replaced by new religions, which can lead to the loss of their identity and culture. They only require the appropriate modernization of their way of life in order to be in sync with the development and advancement of the present day.

Despite the destruction of pagan religions in Europe by Christians, most of the people trying to preserve the Dayak religion are locals and certain missionaries. For example, the Reverend William Howell wrote numerous articles between 1909 and 1910 on the language, traditions and culture of Iban im Sarawak Gazette published . The articles were later titled in a book in 1963 The Sea Dayaks and Other Races of Sarawak .

Bidayuh or Klemantan celebrate Gawai Padi (Paddy Festival) or Gawai Adat Naik Dingo (Paddy Storing Festival).

Society and Customs