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How a liar caused the war between Luju, a Kayan warrior, and the Taman

Here is a story of how a war in ancient Kalimantan broke out due to mistaken identity:

Kapuas river.

There was a Palin man named Baring Ma’ Bojang. He married an Embaloh woman and moved to the village of Belimbis in the upper Embaloh river of Kapuas Hulu.

Both Palin and Embaloh are Dayak groups in Indonesian Kalimantan.

Baring was the brother of Rombonang, a Palin raja or leader.

One day, Baring decided to go on a journey to the Mahakam river in East Kalimantan in search of valuable beads.

He went with a large number of followers and he set up good connection with Luju, a member of the Kayan royalty and a warrior in the Mahakam.

There in the Mahakam, he stayed for a long time with Luju, eventually managing to obtain the valuable ‘lawang lukut’ beads.

Baring also asked Luju for seven of his Kayan villagers to show him the way back to the Kapuas from the Mahakam.

In return, Baring promised that he would send these men back with some valuables such as jars and lamps.

Luju agreed and Baring made his trip back with Luju’s seven men.

Luju and Baring’s broken promise

Throughout Baring’s stay in the Mahakam, Luju was under the impression that Baring was a Dayak Taman not a Dayak Palin.

Meanwhile, Baring was a renowned liar, and could not be bothered to correct Luju.

Baring also never had the intention to give Luju what he had promised.

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On their way to Embaloh, Baring declared that the seven Kayan men were now his slaves.

Although they were enraged, the Kayan men could not do anything as they were outnumbered by Baring’s men.

To make things worse for the Kayan men, Baring planned to sacrifice the men along their route from Mahakam to Embaloh to ensure a safe journey.

By the time they had reach Embaloh, there were no Kayan men left among his party.

Luju declared war on the wrong people

Eventually, the news of Baring’s treachery had reached Luju at Mahakam. Furious, Luju spent the next three years recruiting men from the Mahakam, Tabang and Oga’ rivers .

Together with the Kayan of Mendalam river near Putussibau, Luju and his warriors attacked the Dayak Taman longhouses at night.

They sacked their homes and burned them to the ground.

As Luju attacked all the Taman longhouses, he never got as far as Embaloh where Baring was hiding.

The Kayans, satisfied with their attack and felt that the Dayak Taman had punished enough.

The Dayak Taman take revenge

The following year, Luju’s brother Kule returned to the Kapuas river with a peacemaking force.

He explained that Luju was tired of war and wished to restore peace between Taman and Kayan.

After Luju had returned to Mahakam, the Taman people had sent some raiding parties to attack the Kayans, but they were not as strong as the Kayans.

The Taman made peace with the Kayan but were still determined that they would avenge themselves against Baring who was the cause of this problem.

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Baring, who seemed unaware of the vendetta against him, had ventured into the Taman area, and was subsequently ambushed by the Taman warriors who then took his head.

This caused a war between the Taman and Embaloh as Baring’s son, Bojang sought revenge.

The tribal war between the Taman and Embaloh reportedly continued until the Dutch came into the area.

This story is recorded by Victor T. King in his paper Main Outlines of Taman Oral Traditions.

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at Kajomag.com or Twitter at @patriciahului.

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