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How a magic mushroom caused people to speak in different languages

How everyone began speaking in different languages according to a Taman legend.

Have you heard of Psilocybin mushroom? Widely known as ‘magic mushroom’, this type of fungi is usually consumed for its hallucinogenic effects.

Once consumed, the person may experience euphoria and change in consciousness, mood and even perception.

They may even experience visual and auditory hallucinations.

As fascinating as this magic mushroom may sound, it is not as interesting as a type of mushroom found in a Taman legend.

The Taman people belong to the Dayak group of Kalimantan.

Though they are few in number (estimated at about 30,000 people), their culture and mythology are colourful.

How a magic mushroom caused people to speak in different languages

An illustration by pixabay.com

Long time ago, the descendants of the first man and woman were numerous and they all spoke the same language.

Then one day, one of them came across some magic mushrooms. Everyone ate them and instantly fell into a drunken stupor.

When they woke up, they started to ask each other what had happened.

Oddly, nobody really understood each other.

They began to seek those who spoke the same language and started to form groups with them.

The dispersal

Not long after this happened, a great flood inundated the land.

The whole island of Borneo was covered by water except Mount Cemaru. It is a mountain located at Long Apari district of Mahakam Ulu at East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Standing at 1681m high, the mountain is the source of Mahakam river.

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Many Dayak people took refuge there during the flood.

However, most people built rafts, sampans and other larger boats which took them to the four corners of the earth.

With these people migrating to the different parts of the world, that was how these languages became dispersed.

University of Hull researcher Victor T. King collected this legend during his trip to West Kalimantan from July 1972 to Sept 1973 and recorded it in his paper “Main Outlines of Taman Oral Tradition”.

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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