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The legend of the safflower and the celestial princess of Lingga mountain

If you are not familiar with the legend of a swan maiden, it is a mythical creature who shape-shifts from human to swan form.

The basic story line of this legend is that the male character spies on the maiden while bathing (which is considered sexual harassment by today’s standards). Then the man snatches away the feather garment or some other article of clothing, thus preventing her from fleeing, (which is another criminal act of theft) and finally the man forces her to become his wife (which is actually a case of kidnapping).

Putting aside the multiple criminal offences in this folktale, similar legends are found across the world.

The Ranee of Sarawak Margaret Brooke recorded several interesting legends in her book My Life in Sarawak(1849) and one of them is almost similar to the swan legend. Only, this folktale starts with the safflower plant and has a tragic ending.

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Margaret recorded several legends in her book about Sarawak including how paddy came to Sarawak, the story of ikan pasit and how the coconut tree came from fairyland. Credits: Creative Commons.

The story of Safflower and a man named Laja

Margaret relates how rich the Batang Lupar district is in legends, and tells a story told to her by a fortman’s wife in Simanggang.

“Every one living in Simanggang knows the great mass of sandstone and forest, called Lingga mountain, and all those who have travelled at all (so said the fortman’s wife) have seen this Lingga mountain and know how high and difficult it is to climb, and how a great stretch of country can be seen from its flat and narrow top with the wide expanse of sea stretching from the shores of the Batang Lupar across the great bay of Sarawak to the mountains beyond the town of Kuching,” Margaret wrote.

According to the legend, there was a young Iban man named Laja who lived in the village at the foot of Lingga Mountain. One night, a beautiful lady appeared to Laja in a dream.

She told Laja to “rise early the next morning, before the trees on the banks of the river had emerged from the mist of night, and climb Lingga Mountain, where he would find the safflower at the top.”

The spirit went on to explain that this plant would cure most illnesses, especially sprains and internal inflammation.

Laja and his journey to Mount Lingga

The next morning, Laja woke up and followed everything the lady told him to (because when a mysterious figure in your dream tells you to do it, you should do it).

Halfway up the mountain, Laja saw a rainbow just above the fog. Looking at the bright rainbow, he knew that the spirit of the mountain – a celestial princess – was about to descend by way of the rainbow to bathe in the mountain stream.

Instead of waiting and wondering how she looked like, Laja went on his way to the top of the mountain.

After spending some time looking, he found the safflower plant and brought it home to his village.

Laja pounded the plant and gave it to his people who were sick, but the plant was unreliable.

While some were cured, others did not benefit from it and died from their sickness.

A safflower plant. Credits: Creative Commons

Simpurei and the celestial princess of Lingga mountain

Despite the unpredictability of the safflower plant, its benefits still outnumbered its failures. Eventually, they ran out of the safflower to cure the sick.

One day, a man named Simpurei decided to look for the safflower without telling anyone of his intentions.

Halfway up the mountain, Simpurei saw a rainbow with both ends resting on the sides of the hill opposite the mountain just like Laja did.

He then heard the sound of water and rustling close by. Simpurei peered through the greenery and that was when he saw the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She was a celestial princess, who was also the spirit of the mountain.

The woman was naked with hair falling down to her feet. She used a bucket of gold to pour water over her head.

Just like the swan maiden legend, Simpurei stood in awe of the woman’s beauty. Suddenly, he accidentally broke a twig that he was holding.

Surprised at the sound, the woman looked up and saw Simpurei. She fled to a bed of safflowers near where her clothes were lying.

As the woman ran away, a strand of her hair was caught in the bushes.

Instead of a feather garment, Simpurei decided to take the hair as it shone and glistened in the sun.

He took off immediately, feeling happy that he had a strand of a celestial maiden’s hair for his keeping. The man even forgot what he came to the mountain for; which was the safflower.

Simpurei’s tragic end

Unfortunately for Simpurei, he barely reached his home when he was caught with a sudden sickness.

Upon hearing about his illness, his villagers slowly crowded his home to visit Simpurei.

Many tried to help cure him, summoning all the shamans and medicine men that they knew, but none of them could heal Simpurei from his mysterious illness.

In his sickness, Simpurei managed to tell the people of his adventure up in the mountains. From how he watched the celestial princess taking a bath in the mountain stream, to keeping a strand of her hair.

Eventually, he passed away due to his sickness. The elders of the village believed that Simpurei was punished for staring at the celestial princess bathing naked at the mountain stream.

A Selako legend of the Golden Monkey and the Sultan of Sambas

The Selako people are an indigenous group found mostly in West Kalimantan, Indonesia and the western part of Sarawak, Malaysia.

Although they are grouped under Bidayuh by the Malaysian government, they have their own unique culture and language which bear little resemblance to other Bidayuh groups.

Here is a Selako legend about a golden monkey that the current generation might not have heard of:

Sarawak museum curator Tom Harrisson recorded the story from a Selako man named Pengarah Otoh from Biawak in December 1948.

Long time ago, there was a Selako husband and wife clearing a part of the jungle for their rice paddy.

At that time, the area was ruled by the Sultan of Sambas.

One day while doing their work in the clearing, a monkey came and ruined the couple’s paddy which they had planted previously.

The husband then told his wife to follow the monkey. Carrying a piece of wood from the fire, the wife started to follow the monkey.

The moment she got up close to the monkey, the wife hit it with the wood, killing the monkey almost immediately.

The Golden Monkey

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When she saw that the monkey had died, she returned to the hut and told her husband to fetch the dead monkey.

Thus, the husband went out to where the wife had killed the animal. But to his surprise, he was unable to lift the monkey. That was when the man found out that the dead monkey was made of gold.

He went home and told his wife about the golden monkey. Night soon came and the couple went to sleep.

That night, the man had a dream. A ghost appeared to him, telling him, “If you want to fetch that monkey, you must prepare it by wrapping it in yellow cloth, and then you will be able to carry the monkey back.”

The man woke up the next morning pondering about the dream. As much as he wanted to follow the dream, this was the day when common people like him only had bark cloth to wear.

There were Malays who had fabrics, but they did not have any yellow cloth. Only Malay Sultans were permitted to wear yellow cloth back then.

Meeting with Sultan of Sambas

Having thought about it over and over again, the man decided to see the Sultan of Sambas.

After travelling for three days, he arrived at the Sultan’s palace. There, he was granted an audience with him.

When the Sultan found out that he was asking for yellow cloth, the king was angry, as commoners were not allowed to wear yellow clothing.

But the man explained himself; of how his wife killed the animal and how it turned out to be a golden monkey.

On hearing the story from the man, the sultan proposed an arrangement. He could not give the man a yellow cloth but he would go to fetch the monkey with the man.

The man agreed and they both went to take the body of the golden monkey.

When they arrived there, the golden monkey was still where the wife had killed it. Using the yellow cloth that the sultan brought, they both were able to carry the monkey to the man’s home.

Then the Sultan said to the man, “The right ear from this golden monkey I am leaving with you but the rest I must have for myself.”

What was more, the Sultan promised the Selako man, “From this day forward I will not take any tax from you, on to your children and grandchildren, and on to all those descended from you.”

Being a loyal subject to the sultan, the man agreed with the arrangement. He gave the golden monkey to the Sultan of Sambas with only the right ear left for himself.

Legend of the origin of the Sebuyau people you might never heard of

Sebuyau is a small Sarawakian town located between Sri Aman and Simunjan.

The legend of Nensang Kanau and the Giant spirit

According to a legend, all Sebuyau people are descended from a woman called Nensang Kanau who lived near Bukit Semabang in Ulu Simunjan Kiri.

One day, she went to the forest to gather jungle produce for food.

After several days, Nensang Kanau did not return leaving her three brothers worried about her. So the brothers Bubu Batang, Kerongan Sarang and Pingai Makun set out to look for her, leaving their other sister Kumbang Bunga to look after the house.

They searched and searched for a few days but did not find her until they saw her sitting on a rock in the forest.

The brothers asked her to come home with them but Nensang Kanau refused, saying, “I cannot. I am stuck to this rock and cannot get off.”

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Nensang Kanau was stuck to a rock, and she could not be removed from it no matter how hard she and others tried. Credits: Pixabay.

Each brother took turns trying to lift her from the rock, but she did not even move a budge.

Buku Batang asked how she ended up in her predicament. Nensang Kanau answered, “I do not know. A few days ago I met the spirit, Gergasi (giant) and married him. Perhaps that is the reason. Set a trap in the forest and catch him.”

Thus, the brother set up a trap of a simple rattan noose usually used to catch deer. After some time waiting, the giant was caught in the noose.

The brothers wanted to kill him but the Gergasi pleaded for his life, “Do not kill me. I have married your sister and now I am your brother in-law.”

Upon hearing this, Bubu Batang said, “In that case you had better come home with us.”

After this, Nensang Kanau was released from the stone and the five of them went home together.

The Sebuyau people, the descendants of the giant and Nensang Kanau

Time passed and Nensang Kanau became pregnant with the giant’s child. The spirit then gathered his brothers-in-law telling them, “Now that my wife is pregnant I must go back to the forest because I am a spirit and cannot live for long in the company of human beings. If my child is born you must call him Tewa Tui and if he has son you must call him Tong Gigi. If Tong Gigi has a son you must call him ‘Sabut Wi’.

Then, the giant left them and returned to the jungle where he may still be living for all we know.

When Nensang Kanau’s son was born, they named him just as the father would have wanted, as did his son and his grandson.

This story was sent by a man named D.C. Walker from Serian to the Sarawak Gazette on Apr 7, 1949.

The legend of Batu Puyang in Batang Ai you probably never heard

The story of petrification is common around the world, the oldest in Western literature probably being the tale of Medusa. Even here in Sarawak, many have heard stories and folktales of how people or buildings have turned into stone.

Here is one story of that is actually very similar to the legend of petrification in Fairy Caves, Bau, but this legend comes from the Batang Ai area:
Batang Ai
Batang Ai Dam lake.

In the olden days, there were certain things which one was forbidden to laugh at, for fear of incurring ‘kudi’, a state of flood and disaster brought on by the wrath of the spirits.

Anybody to have committed these taboos were believed to have suffered from dreadful punishment.

According to Iban traditional belief, the virgin forests in those days were inhabited by all kinds of spirits such as Antu Babas and Antu Keranggas.

These spirits did not like to hear words being said in arrogance or see men doing taboo things.

Legend has it that in Batang Ai, not far from a place called Rantau Panjai, there was a limestone hill called Batu Puyang.

Long time ago, this hill was the site of a longhouse under the tuai rumah (headman) named Puyang.

How the name Batu Puyang came about

About four centuries ago, the headman held a Gawai Burong (Bird Festival) at his longhouse.

He invited many people to join in the celebration. During the festival, a young boy went out to examine the catch in his grandmother’s fish trap.

After checking and finding that the trap was empty, a funny thought occurred to him and he thought it would be funny to play a trick on his grandmother.

He took a poo, and wrapped it up carefully in a leaf. He then brought it home and handed it to his grandmother. Expecting to see the day’s fresh catch, the grandmother was angry to find his fresh, steaming poop instead.

She vowed revenge. Later that evening, she put a cat in a dress belonging to a girl and released it in the middle of the Gawai Burong celebration.

As the cat walked among the celebrants, they laughed to see it.

Apparently, this was a big no-no to the greater spirits. Suddenly, the sky became dark and the wind blew so hard that everybody became alarmed.

Rain began to fall in torrents and the sound of thunder became deafening. As the rain fell onto the longhouse, the building and its people (including her grandson) were transformed into stone, which are now known as Batu Puyang.

Similar legend to Fairy Caves Bau
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Fairy Caves.

The legend of Batu Puyang has a lot of similarities with Fairy Caves, Bau. For the one in Bau, the story started from a poor boy and his mother who lived at a big Bidayuh Kampung known as Kampung Kapur near Fairy Cave,

Similarly, a Gawai celebration was held at one of the kampung houses.

The boy came and peeped in on their celebration, making the homeowner unhappy. To cast the boy away, the homeowner gave the boy some sugarcane waster wrapped in a leaf, telling him there was pork inside.

The boy happily went home to give the wrapped ‘pork’ to share with his mother. After finding out it was just waste inside, the mother sought out revenge against the people of the kampung.

Similar to the legend of Batu Puyang, she took a cat and dressed it in a beautiful outfit. She threw the cat in the middle of the Gawai celebration. As they began to laugh at the sight of a cat in a dress, the sky also roared with thunder and lightning.

When the storm eventually stopped, all the villagers had turned into stone, making up the stalagmites and stalactites inside Fairy Cave.

How the two legends from two different races and parts of Sarawak had so much similarities, we may never find out.

Legend of a two-tailed monster and how poison came about in Borneo

Poison always plays a role in a legend or fairy tale. The most famous example is in Snow White where the evil queen gave the princess a poisoned apple.

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Here in Borneo, we have our own version of how poison came about and it came from the mountainous part of this island.

According to Gallih Balang from Pa Longan who wrote to the Sarawak Gazette on July 31, 1965, the legend starts with a hunter named Parang.

One day, while he was out on a hunt, he walked and crossed many streams and mountains. On his way to the top of a hill, he saw a cleared field.

Parang was interested to examine the field and wanted to know what kind of creature could be there. He then decided to sit and watch.

The appearance of a monster

After some time, there came a strange monster. At first, Parang thought it was a crocodile. Unlike a crocodile, however, the creature had two tails.

The appearance of the crocodile amazed Parang as he never seen such a creature.

When Parang returned home, he told his fellow villagers what he had seen. They all gathered together and decided to kill the monster.

Gathering all kinds of weapon such as blowpipes, knives, spears and shields, they all went ahead to find the monster.

When they reached the field, the two-tailed monster was not there. So they decided to wait until the creature came back.

The moment the monster appeared, the villagers killed it. They then discovered that the name of the monster was Ale, the eater, and were relieved with its death.

About three months after they killed Ale, the villagers returned to the site where they killed it.

They found the body had rotted away but only its tails were still fresh as if still alive.

They took the tails home and used it to poison animals and people(!). That was how poison was discovered in Borneo. At the time of Gallih’s account in the 1960s, it was believed that the Bisayas in the interior and along the coast still used the poison.

According to Gallih, the people named the place where the monster was killed Budok Ale, and it is actually not far from Long Bawan, Kalimantan.

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A view of Long Bawan in 2019.

The legend of Kuala Sibuti’s buried treasure you probably never heard of

Buried treasure always comes with a story or legend. Sometimes, it even comes with a curse.

Here is a legend of buried treasure in Kuala Sibuti, Sarawak that was recorded by Sarawak Gazette writer R. Nyandoh:

Long time ago, a vessel was wrecked at Tanjung Payung somewhere near Kuala Suai, south of Niah river.

The vessel carried many passengers as well as their valuables.

After the wreck, the survivors managed to float off on a small box. This boat eventually made its way to Kuala Sibuti.

There the people dug a large hole and hid their belongings. To mark the site, they plant a tree called Kaya Ra which was not found in any part of Sarawak.

Many years later, the Kedayans came and settled down in Kuala Sibuti. They found the belongings that were previously buried there. What were left were broken pots and jars which the Kedayan called “Gusi”.

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The curse of Kuala Sibuti’s buried treasure

One day, a woman named Hanipah was collecting shrimp at Kuala Sibuti. She accidentally caught a golden cup in her net.

Happy with her potential for riches, she decided to sell the golden cup.

With her newfound wealth, Hanipah went on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Many years later, despite having many children, only a few them survived.

She blamed the deaths of her family members on herself for taking and selling the golden cup.

After Hanipah, there was another person who accidentally found one of the buried “gusi”.

Allegedly, a Chinese man named Eng Soon found a jar while planting coconut trees. He tried to find more treasure by digging around in more places, but he was not successful with his attempt.

What happened to Eng Soon and the jar that he found remained a mystery to this day.

In the following years, many have tried looking for the buried treasure in Kuala Sibuti.

It is said, however, that whenever they started digging, wind, rain and storm will start to pour in. This has left them too frightened to carry on digging. Eventually, people stopped trying to look for the buried treasure of Kuala Sibuti.

The story of Apai Saloi and how he lost his sago flour

Here is a story of Iban comedic folklore hero Apai Saloi, recorded by historian Benedict Sandin which was published in The Sarawak Gazette (Dec 31, 1965):

Long time ago, in Gelong country where Apai Saloi lived, there was a great famine.

So Apai Saloi took his sons, Saloi and Ensali, to cut down a sago tree somewhere downriver from their house.

After they extracted the sago and made it into flour, the father and sons put them in bags and went home in their boat.

While cruising past their paddy fields, Apai Saloi saw something golden yellow glittering in the sun.

Immediately, he thought they were ripe paddy grains. His sons, however, did not believe that they were paddy grains but the flowers of a type of grass called ensawa.

Apai Saloi argued with his sons for awhile over the ‘paddy grains’. After some time, his sons gave up arguing with him.

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Apai Saloi thought he ensewa grass was paddy grains. Credits: Pixabay

Apai Saloi threw away his sago flour

Instead of bringing home the sago flour, he threw it into the river. He said that it was useless to bring it home since within the next few days they would reap their new harvest.

Before he went on with his journey home, Apai Saloi made a mark at the side of the boat with his knife in order to remember the exact place where the sago flour had been thrown into the river.

Then, he asked his sons to paddle hard so that he could reach home quickly.

When they reached home, his wife Indai Saloi asked where the sago flour was.

Apai Saloi told her with all honesty that he had thrown it into the river. Indai Saloi was furious with him, calling Apai Saloi a fool for letting his family starve.

But Apai Saloi confidently told her not to worry as their paddy had already ripened.

His wife was smart enough to know that it was impossible for that to happen at this time of the year.

Meanwhile, her sons Saloi and Ensali came forward to tell their mother about what happened and how they argued with their father.

Again, Indai Saloi scolded her husband for his foolishness.

Looking for the sago flour

Tired of his wife’s scolding, Apai Saloi took his sons to look for the bags of sago flour. He told his wife that it was easy to find it since he had marked the place where he had thrown it away.

Immediately after they left their wharf, Apai Saloi asked his sons to dive into the water.

Obediently, they followed their father’s instruction. But no matter how many times they dove into the river, they could not find the bags of sago flour.

Apai Saloi insisted that that was the location of the sago flour since he already made the mark at the side of his boat.

His sons continued to dive until they both could no longer continue.

Seeing her husband returning without the sago flour, Indai Saloi became furious again. Apai Saloi could not do anything else but retire to his mosquito net.

The legend of Iban warrior Unggang and goddesses of Mount Santubong

The legend of Iban warrior Unggang and goddesses of Mount Santubong

If it weren’t for Benedict Sandin (1918-1982), many Iban legends and folktales would have been forgotten by now. Originally from Paku, Benedict was an ethnologist, historian and Sarawak Museum curator (December 1966- March 1974).

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Mount Santubong

Here is one of his stories that was published on the Sarawak Gazette. This time he told the story of Iban warrior Unggang.

Long time ago at a small stream called Entanak, lived a very powerful Iban war leader named Unggang “Lebor Menoa”.

During his time, there was no chief in the Saribas river area more well known than him.

When he was still a young warrior, Unggang dreamt that he was travelling in a boat from the mouth of the Saribas river to Mount Santubong.

He then attempted to climb to the top of that mountain. Halfway up, he met two beautiful maidens who just finished bathing.

They said that they did not have much time to talk, and one of them handed him a stone that she had used to scrub her skin. The stone was called Batu Perunsut.

She told him that the stone was a charm that he could use whenever he led his people to war.

The woman also told Unggang that none of the people who lived in the countries between Santubong and the mouth of Saribas river could possibly beat him in war.

Luckily for him, she warned him if he led his war parties southeast beyond Santubong, the stone would have no effect.

Later, the women revealed to him that they were Kumang and Lulong, the goddesses who lived on the summit of Santubong.

Unggang’s path to becoming a great warrior

Shortly after he had the dream, Unggang built a large war boat with which he used to lead his warriors to guard the mouth of the Saribas river from being penetrated by enemies. At the time they were the Bajau and Illanun pirates.

They also killed strangers that came into the river from the South China Sea.

Besides guarding his territory, Unggang sailed farther along the coast of Sarawak to look for trading ships.

During one of his sails, he came across with a band of Chinese traders who negotiated with him.

The Chinese traders sought his permission to trade in the Saribas country.

Unggang agreed with condition that these Chinese traders agreed to fly white flags on their vessels.

Due to this agreement, many Chinese traders came to Saribas to trade their cooking pots, brassware, earthen bows, pants and cloths. In return, the Chinese brought back shell armlets, beads, cowry shells and so on.

Meanwhile, Unggang and his men killed anybody who entered the Saribas river without flying a white flag on their boats.

Although Unggang seemed to be a ferocious warrior, he was also a savvy tactician, and allied himself with the Malays who lived in the coastal areas. Hence, he never attacked his Malay neighbours.

Unggang’s son Luta

Dayaks in their war dress
Illustration of Dayak men.

After Unggang died, his son Luta succeeded him as the chief. During Luta’s reign as chief, a fight started between the Dayaks of Saribas and Skrang against their neighbours of the lower Batang Lupar (the Dayaks from Undop, Balau and Sibuyau).

During one of these tribal wars, Luta’s youngest brother Ngadan was killed by Temenggong Juti and his men from Sebuyau.

Also killed during the war in Undop was Angkum, one of the brothers to Orang Kaya Pemancha Dana Bayang, a leader from Padeh who led the Saribas Iban.

Due to these incidents, Luta took his revenge by invading Sebuyau and killed many of them there.

Meanwhile, Dana Bayang avenged his brother’s death by invading Undop with the largest force from the Saribas and Skrang.

After invading Sebuyau, Luta took his brothers Mulok and Ketit to sail to the Belitung island near Sumatra.

He wanted to go there because he heard a rumour that someone in Belitung was selling a tuchong (shell armlet) which could be fitted over one’s head. Apparently, Luta was anxious to buy this for his inheritance.

However, the three brothers never returned to the Saribas. The rumour back then they were shipwrecked. A piece of their broken boat found at the beach near Sungai Ubah not far from Tanjung Datu.

The location of Luta’s alleged shipwreck was located beyond Santubong mountain from Saribas. Perhaps the charm that worked to protect Unggang before did not work to protect his sons once they went beyond southeastward of Santubong.

After the brothers’ untimely death, none of their descendants were able to lead their warriors to fight.

Hence, the leadership in the Saribas area fell onto the shoulders of Orang Kaya Pemancha Dana Bayang. He later became one of the most of famous Iban warriors and leaders.

How the cobra got its venom according to a Kedup legend

Local folktales and legends commonly have an answer for everything. Although they are not scientifically correct, it is still entertaining to know how some things came about from a mythical point of view.

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How did this snake get its venom? Credits: Pixabay
Here is a legend of how the cobra got its venom according to a legend recorded from Ulu Kedup, Sarawak:

Long time ago, there was a black fish called the ikan dudok. This fish was the most poisonous of creatures, so much so that if a man’s shadow even fell on a pool in which the ikan dudok was lurking, the man would immediately die.

The cobra, although a wise and cunning beast, in those days had no weapons of defence, but wore in the centre of his head a bright jewel.

One day, the cobra sidled up to the pool where the ikan dudok lay and hissed. “Oh black fish! Are you not ashamed of the deaths you caused? You are a stupid fish, unfit to have this virulent poison which you use so indiscriminately.”

The cobra then asked the fish to give its poison in exchange for the bright jewel on his head.

Then the cobra reared up his head in the sun and the fish saw the sparkling jewel.

He agreed to the exchange, vomiting out the poison on a handy leaf. In the meantime, the cobra gave up its jewel (which of course, was not a real diamond).

“Good!” said the cobra, “Now I promise you that I will not spread death with this poison as you have; I will only strike men in their eyes or on their big toe.”

Thus to this day, the cobra rears up proudly to search for his victims’ eyes. Meanwhile, the legend also explains why you can find a white stone in the head of every ikan dudok.

As for the leaf that the fish chose to vomit on, its poison is called daun api. One can get a painful rash with just a brush from this leaf.

That one time a dragon caused a flood in Belaga in 1942

Different cultures around the world have attributed mythical creatures as the cause of meteorologic phenomenons or natural disasters like flood and earthquake.

For example, in Japanese mythology, the Namazu is a giant catfish that causes earthquakes with his tail.

Meanwhile, the thunderbird in Native American culture is believed to have the ability to produce thunderstorms and rain.

Here in Sarawak, there was one heavy flood which the locals believed had been caused by an angry dragon.

The Sarawak Gazette reported on a flood in Belaga which startes on Feb 21, 1942 and lasted for five days.

Apparently, the Kayans blamed the Kenyah Badeng whom they said tried to tie a dragon to a farm hut with rattan.

They said the dragon was about the size of an areca palm tree with a body resembling a snake with scales, horns and legs.

Somehow, the dragon managed to escape from its ties and wreaked vengeance on the people of Belaga by sending them the biggest flood they had ever experienced.

Belaga town in 2017.
Worst flood ever recorded in Belaga?

According to the gazette, to anyone who happened to be in Belaga at that time, the feeling was that the downpour of rain before and during the flood was enough to drive away people and dragons.

“The flood was actually caused by the heavy downpour of rain up to the Sungai Belaga and Balui at the same time and the Giam (rapids) obstructing the flow of an abnormally large volume of water.”

The report continued, “Thoughthe flood was 15 feet high from the Kubu (fort) ground floor, many buildings on a lower ground level were submerged. Those who built of lighter materials were floated away as soon the flood reached the roof top. It was strangely amusing to see the newly erected Government Dispensary moved away like a tortoise.”

Some of the village houses were anchored to the nearby trees using rattan while a few Kayan longhouses washed away by flood like steamships with cats and dogs still inside.

The shophouses in Belaga bazaar were reported to still be more or less intact but did not escape some damage.

Before this, other floods that had been officially recorded in Belaga took place in Jan 28, 1934 (estimated at 8 feet high) and Mar 24, 1887 (estimated at 4 feet).

However, it is unsure if these floods were also caused by an angry dragon.