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Kalimantan - Page 6

From Batang Lupar river in Sarawak to Batang Lupar district in Kalimantan

In Sarawak, Batang Lupar is famously known for its tidal bore phenomenon where waves of water goes against the direction of the current.

It is also one of the federal constituencies in Malaysia. Meanwhile on the other side of the international border, there is a district in Kapuas Hulu regency of West Kalimantan province in Indonesia which is also called Batang Lupar.

So, how did a district and a river, miles apart from each other divided by a border, share the same name?

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Pak Lom, the head of village Dusun Kedungkang.
From Lanjak Entimau to Lanjak, Batang Lupar

“Our ancestors are originally from upper Batang Lupar and Batang Ai. They were at war with the Rajah many years ago and they came here to flee from their enemy,” Pak Lom, the head village of Dusun Kedungkang said.

He explained that Lanjak which is the nearest town to his longhouse was named after Lanjak Entimau. It is an area located between Batang Rajang in the north and Batang Lupar in the south of Sarawak.

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Dusun Kedungkang during the evening.

This was because the Dayak Iban who live in Lanjak now were originally from Lanjak Entimau.

Lom said, “Of course back then, the border was not clearly defined. The border town of Badau which now falls in Indonesia territory was considered part of Sarawak kingdom back then.”

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There are roughly 36 families living in Dusun Kedungkang.
Same culture but different countries

Despite the political border, the Iban culture in Kalimantan is not much different from Sarawakian Iban.

“We still practice our traditional arts. Here in Kedungkang, we still have our hand-tapping tattoo and pua kumbu weaving.” Lom added that he himself knew how to hand-tap traditional body ink.

Even when it came to their harvest or Gawai celebration, he explained their way of merry-making was no different from the Sarawakian Ibans.

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Pak Lom’s wife, Ibu Pawa showing her hand-woven pua kumbu, Iban’s traditonal woven fabric.

Before settling back here as a farmer and carrying his duty as a village head, Lom was working for a timber company in different parts of Sarawak such as Tubau and Marudi for over 10 years. Thus making him familiar with his neighbouring country.

However, there is one celebration he pointed out that the Ibans in Batang Lupar district did not celebrate.

“We do not celebrate Gawai Antu (festival of the dead) here, I think you can only find that in Sarawak.”

Holding on to their traditional customs, the Iban community in Kedungkang also practices their ‘hukum adat’ (customary law).

If caught burning the forest in their areas, you could be fined 25,000 rupiah for each tree. Additionally if it was a durian tree, the fine could cost even more – up to millions of rupiah.

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A traditional Iban longhouse in Kalimantan.
Living next to Danau Sentarum

Having this customary law to protect their environment surrounding their two-block longhouse was important, considering they are living right next to Danau Sentarum.

It is one of the world’s most biodiverse lake system located in the heart of Borneo island.

And just a few minutes’ walk from Kedungkang longhouse is Bukit Babi (Pig Hill in Malay).

According to Lom, it is one of the reasons why their longhouse is a tourist attraction. On average, there are at least two tourists visiting their longhouse daily.

He said, “Apart from coming to see our culture, tourists love to stop by to hike up the hill. They can see have a view of Danau Sentarum from up there.

Another main attraction of Kedungkang village is its 700m long plank walk from the longhouse to the lake.

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The entrance to the 700m plank walk.

Just like Batang Lupar in Sarawak where its tidal bore attracts thousands of visitors during Pesta Benak (Tidal Bore Festival), one of the main tourists attractions in Batang Lupar district of West Kalimantan is the Danau Sentarum Festival.

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This plank walk would turned into viewing point for tourist to watch boat parade and races when the water level is high at Danau Sentarum.

During this annual festival, the Kedungkang plank walk is turn into viewing point to watch the traditional boat parade, dragon boat and bidar races.

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The ruai of an Iban longhouse in Kalimantan.

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The entry point from Lubok Antu, Malaysia into Badau, Indonesia.

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An inn in Lanjak, Batang Lupar. Both the names Lanjak town and Batang Lupar district in Kalimantan were named after places in Sarawak.

5 things everybody should know about Songket Sambas

The Sambas Regency in West Kalimantan Province of Indonesia is known for its beautiful and intricate weaving of Songket Sambas.

Songket is a type of fabric that is hand woven in silk or cotton and often embroidered with intricate motifs in gold or silver thread.

A proud legacy of the Malay community in Sambas, here are 5 things to learn about Songket Sambas.

  1. Songket Sambas is believed to be over 400 years old.

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A tradition as old as time

Estimated to be over 400 years old, Songket Sambas is said to have existed before the Sambas Islamic Sultanate that was established with the birth of its first Muslim sultan Muhammad Shafi ud-din I.

Born Radin Sulaiman to Sultan Tengah (Sarawak’s first and only Sultan) from Brunei and Ratu Sepudak, a descendant of the Majapahit governors of Sambas, he ruled it for 10 years from 1675 to 1685.

  1. It was a sign of luxury

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Songket Sambas is luxury item in the old days

As a traditional luxury item, Songket Sambas was worn by ladies from the upper class in the olden days.

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Songket details on the collar

Today, it is often worn to formal and grand functions or events in Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

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Songket details on a songkok (cap)

As of now, besides womenswear, the songket weaving is also used as decorative trimming on men’s clothing along the collar or on songkok (the traditional Malay cap).

  1. Gold thread is used in Songket Sambas

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Songket Sambas is a hand woven fabric with gold or silver thread

Songket Sambas is a hand-woven fabric in silk or cotton with gold or silver thread.

The incorporation of gold thread is such an important part of the textile that the locals refer to the weaving as ‘bannang ammas’ (gold thread).

This is because the threads are light, durable and the colours do not fade even after hundreds of years.

  1. It was given as a wedding gift from the groom to the bride

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It plays an integral part in the Sambas marriage custom, often given as wedding gift from the groom to the bride

Thanks to the use of the gold thread, Songket Sambas was a valuable gift and played an important part in local wedding customs.

In accordance to the Sambas Malay custom, it was often given by the bridegroom to the bride as a gift.

  1. The bamboo shoot pattern signifies modesty and humility

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The bamboo shoot (long, tapered and triangular in shaped) motif signify modesty and humility

Another unique feature of Songket Sambas is the bamboo shoot motif that can be found on the textile.

Known as ‘suji bilang’ among the locals, the bamboo shoot pattern is triangular in shape, long and tapered.

Inspired by the bamboo shoot for its ability to bend when it grows tall, it signifies modesty and humility.

The motif reminds the wearer to aspire to great heights but  not to be arrogant or proud once they’ve reached a higher level in life.


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