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The Bidayuh Jagoi legend of Gunung Kapor where people turned to stone

When A.J.N Richards was serving as an administrative officer and magistrate in Sarawak from 1938 to 1964, there was no formal training.

He learned on the job from seniors and local officers as well as leaders.

While doing his job, Richards learned a lot about local cultures and histories.

Here is a petrification legend that he picked up from the Bidayuh Jagoi which was published in the Sarawak Gazette on June 7, 1949:

After the great flood, when there were only a few people living on the land, there was a prosperous village on the bank of the Sarawak river.

In this village lived a man and his wife who had two children, a boy and a girl, and their mother was a healer acquainted with the spirits.

Although life was easy and food plentiful in those days, the time came when the man and his wife grew old and died.

The bodies were burned as the custom is and the pyre was large and dry enough to leave nothing for the pigs, which was not always the case in those days.

A funeral feast was made and because the woman who had died was a great priestess the feasting was prolonged and uproarious.

The people forgot the death of their companions and even laughed and jested at the boy and girl who were left.

The retaliation of the daughter

The girl had learned much from her mother and would not be mocked. She took bamboos and split them at the end; she splayed the split ends and bound them to make a pair of cone-shaped baskets such as are used for nesting chickens.

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She gave one to her brother and they wore them as hats. Then she took a cat and went with her brother to the place of the feast.

The daughter throws a cat in the middle of the celebration and they continue to laugh. Credits: Pixaby.

She cast the cat into the midst of the crowd and uttered a fearful curse against them all. They laughed again.

And the laughter was drowned in the noise of a great storm. The wind blew the rain in sweeping curtains across the land and as the storm passed and died away, there was dead silence in that place.

All the village and the people had become stone, except the boy and the girl who escaped through wearing the bamboo hats.

The village may still be seen. It is called Gunung Kapur by the Dayaks and Boring San by the Chinese, but some of the stone figures have been spoiled by weather and some inquisitive visitors.

Read more about other legends where people turned to stone:

Legends and nature of Fairy Cave Bau

The legend of Batu Puyang in Batang Ai Your Probably Never Heard

Five Sarawak legends about people turning into stones

More legends from Semabang about people turning into stone

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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