East-Kalimantan 48 Tribes

East Kalimantan – 48 Tribes

East-Kalimantan 48 Tribes

East Kalimantan is one of province in Indonesia. It’s serves as a gateway to other destinations on Kalimantan Island. Most destinations, such as the Dayak settlements in the hinterland along the big rivers, can be reached from here, moreover, a visit toKalimantan does not seem complete without a visit to East Kalimantan.The province of East Kalimantan occupies an area of 211,440 square kilometres. It is the biggest province of Indonesiasince Irian Jaya has been officially divided into three. It has a population of more than two million, distributed over 1,080 villages, in 73 districts, or seven people per square kilometer.The province consists of four regencies : Kutai, with the capital Tenggarong: Pasir ( capital Tanah Grogot ) ; Berau ( capital Tanjung Redeb),and Bulungan (capital Tanjung Selor).
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The average annual rainfalls is 1,642 mm in the coastal regions, and 3,963 mm in the hinterland up to the northern parts of the province, bordering on Sarawak and Sabah in Malaysian Borneo.

About 80 percent of East Kalimantan consists of tropical rain forests, which cover on area of about 15.9 million hectares, consisting of nature and wildlife reserves and recreational forests (1.9 million hectares);protected forests(3.6 million hectares); limited production forests (4.8 million hectares ); production forests (5.5 million hectares); and research and educational forests (18,000 hectares). The acreage covered by convertible production forests is 5.1 million hectares.
The forests of East Kalimantan contain a wealth of rare flora and fauna. The black Orchid (Clogena pandurata), Nephents Amularia and Rattan vines growing up to 200 meters long, grow in these forests. So do various species of valuable tropical hardwoods.
Among the animal species typical of Kalimantan, living in the forests are chimpanzees (Pongee pygmaeus), bekantan (Nasalis Larvatus), Mahakam fresh – water dolphins or pesut (Orcela fluminalis) and many bird varieties.

The cultural and artistic traditions of the island’s indigenous Dayak population are still preserved in this region, especially in the hinterland of East Kalimantan. Sailing up the streams near the Malaysian border, one can still meet Traditional Dayak settlements than seem to have been little touched by the advent of modernity.
Decades ago, a stone bearing inscriptions in the ancient Palawa script of India was found revealing advanced civilization in this area in as early as the Fourth century A.D. The inscriptions mention the name Mulawarman as that of a great and noble king, reigning in the area.Apart from that ancient monument , however , very little has been left of the Hindu and Buddhist period in Kalimantan. Subsequent evidence found attests to the rise of Islam at around the 16th century, in Kalimantan.
The Dutch came to Kalimantan to trade, but although a flotilla visited Kutai in 1635, real attempts to establish a permanent relationship were not made until the middle of the 19th century. An agreement between the Dutch and the Bulungan Kingdom was closed in 1850. The cooperation did not last long , however, because the BulunganKingdom did not gain anything from the relationship . Some tribal chieftains even revolted against the king of Bulungan, who they considered to have become a Dutch puppet.
In 1933, a Dutch company began mining oil in Tarakan and BunyuIsland. During World War II , When the Japanese invaded what was then the Netherlands East Indies, the first target for their attaches was Tarakan, which they occupied for the main purpose of taking over its oil field.


Kwangkai is the death ceremony of the Tunjung and Benuaq, Dayaks of East Kalimantan . It usually lasts for ten days and ten nights and is designed to fulfill the dual purpose of leading the soul of the dead to the hereafter, and welcoming the new spirits which are arriving through the newborn.The first part of the ceremony is called Setanggih, which reflects the Dayak cult of ancestor worship.

The follows the Ngerangkai, in which a dance is performed by group of women.Next come the Pekanan Saru, in which offering are made to the spirits. This involves the performance of ritual dances by the Belian Bawo (shaman). Also the Gantar Adat Dance is performed. The most important part of the ceremony involves the killing of buffaloes and other animals.

The Kwangkai ceremony is held either by individual families or collectively. It is usually held shortly after the harvest season. Before the ceremony takes place , the corpse is placed in the Lungun, a round wooden coffin, where , it is kept for many months so that the bones become dry.

.In Families which cannot afford to keep the remains in the house for so long, (it must be given food every day), they are preserved for a few days only. Then the corpse is buried in the usual way, to be dug up and moved as soon as the means needed to hold a Kwangkai are available.

Ngungu Tahun is an annual post-harvest offering ceremony. It is held as a kind of thanksgiving ritual after a prosperous year.The ceremony starts with the worship of the ancestors, followed by a series of rituals.

(thanks to http://musfarayani.multiply.com/photos/album/5/  Upacara_Adat_Kematian_Dayak_di_Kubar for the nice pictures)

Erau Paray

Erau Paray is a ceremonial feast of the Kenyah and Punan Dayaks. It starts with the worship of the ancestors and the offering of thanks.
Bob Jenggeu is ceremony of the Medang tribe in the Muara Ancalong and Muara Wahau district, Kutai regency , which is accompanied by other rituals such as Uding, Dang Tung, Ne Legur , Ne Lei, Ne Blok and Nam Bleu. It is also accompanied by traditional sport events, as well as dances such as the Jong Nyelong, Ngeway and Ding Suk.

Erau Hudeg or Hudeg Feast is ceremony of the Bahau, in Long Iram and Long Bangun, Kutai regency This feast is held after the harvest season as an expression of gratitude. It lasts for several days and is accompanied by traditional dances and sporting contest.

Dangai is ceremony held by the Bussang and Penihing Umak Suling Dayaks in the hinterland along the Mahakam river, in the Long Pahangai and Long Apari districts, and in the hinterland of the Kutai regency. It is also held by the Kayan Dayaks in the hinterland regions of Bulungan regency. Dangai is held after the harvest season, and usually lasts for ten days and ten nights. It starts with the worship of the ancestors, with food offerings for the gods and the spirits of the ancestors. Dancing girls circle the offerings, dancing and singing in worship of the ancestors. The Tepung Mawar ceremony is held at the same time for girls entering adulthood , so that they will get good, honest and responsible husbands. Newly born babies are givens names. The highlight of the Dangai ceremony is a fight a kind of wrestling contest – between men, which takes place on rotten rice spread on banana’s leaves . While the match goes on , women dance and sing in a circle around the arena, stamping their feet all the while.

(Thanks to www.dedepurnama.com for the nice pictures)
Palas Tahun is a thanksgiving ceremony of the Malayu Kutai Tribe , in Muara Bengkal , Kutai Regency. It lasts for three days and three nights, and is accompanied by traditional dances and sporting events.
Pangkon is ceremony originating from the Kutai Sultanate. It is held apart from the tribal Erau feast to honor the quest. There are various other rituals and ceremonies, designed to mark important events too numerous to mention one by one.

Ampanang 33.000 Animism
central, southeast of Tunjung, Jambu, Lamper area
The Ampanang people group lives just east of Central Kalimantan, southeast of the city of Tunjung, not far from the cities of Jambu and Lamper. Kalimantan, meaning “River of Diamonds,” is the name for the Indonesian two-thirds of the island of Borneo; Malaysia and Brunei occupy the other one-third. The Ampanang are one of the people groups in the Barito cluster, which is part of the larger Dayak ethno-linguistic complex. Dayak peoples tend to live alongside the interior rivers of Kalimantan. They are sometimes sub-divided as either Land or Sea Dayaks, although this is primarily a European designation to distinguish the various groups. They are usually further characterized by: (1) bilinear inheritance and bilateral kinship reckoning; (2) uxorilocal residence or living with or near the kin of the wife; (3) political unity rarely above the level of the village; (4) absence of social stratification (although slavery is or was practiced by some groups); (5) multifamily dwellings (often including longhouses); and (6) in most cases, secondary burials. The Dayak tribes apparently came from West Asia as a migration of the Mongols who entered the archipelago through the southern Kalimantan coastal city, which is now called Martapura.
The primary means of livelihood for the Ampanang include hunting, gathering forest products, fishing, farming, and trade. Although most Ampanang live beside rivers, there are also those who live in areas far from any river. The Ampanang culture is intertwined with their belief in unseen spirits. In the same way, the arts and various other activities are incorporated into their belief system. The Ampanang also uphold various traditional ceremonies. These ceremonies include matchmaking and engagement, marriage, pregnancy, birth, healing of a sickness, and burial. Ritual ceremonies are also often observed during the time of celebrating their important holidays.
Generally the Ampanang people are followers of the traditional Dayak beliefs, called Kaharingan. In addition, some are also followers of the Nyuli belief. The focus of the Nyuli teaching is that there is a resurrection after death (Suli). According to Nyuli teaching, Bukit Lumut releases the departed spirit. Such a spirit then returns to their village, bringing something from eternity that can be used to improve the condition of the world. The Ampanang people also give praise to the spirits of their ancestors (duwata). Each Ampanang family has a place of worship for their own duwata in their house. This place of worship is usually called kunau. They also use a pangantuhu, a piece of human bone, as a tool to call departed ancestors. 


Aoheng 2.630 Animism
north central near Sarawak border, upper reaches of Kapuas, Barito, and Mahakam rivers. Alternate names: Penihing. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 69% with Kereho [xke], 67% with Hovongan [hov].
Bahau 4.800  Animism 

Bahau , kalimantan, tribe, dayak, suku

Northeast, north, and southeast of Busang. Long Apari, Long Pahangai, Long Bagun, and Long Hubung subdistricts, Kutai Barat Regency.
Bakumpai 108.000 Islam 

kalimantan, tribe, dayak, Bakumpai , suku

Kapuas and Barito rivers, northeast of Kuala Kapuas. Alternate names: Bakambai, Bara-Jida. Dialects: Bakumpai, Mengkatip (Mangkatip, Oloh Mengkatip). Lexical similarity: 75% with Ngaju [nij], 45% with Banjar [bjn].
The majority of the Bakumpai live near the Barito River, which flows through the province of Central Kalimantan. In southern Kalimantan, the Bakumpai live in Bakumpai District of Barito Kuala Regency while those in Central Kalimantan live in South Barito Regency. Their neighbors in the south are the Banjar people and in the north the Ngaju and Maanyan peoples. Some experts speculate that the Bakumpai are one of the sub-groups of the Ngaju people group, although the Bakumpai consider themselves a separate people group. The Bakumpai are one of the people groups in the Barito cluster which is part of the larger Dayak ethno-linguistic cluster. Dayak peoples (sometimes subdivided as either Land or Sea Dayaks) tend to live alongside the interior rivers of Kalimantan. The Dayak tribes probably originated from West Asia as migratory Mongols who entered the archipelago from the west through the coastal city which is now called Martapura (in South Kalimantan).
The area where the Bakumpai live is crisscrossed with many rivers. The Bakumpai have therefore developed technology for water transportation. They usually farm wet rice fields due to the rise and fall of the tide. Other work is cultivation of un-irrigated fields, fishing in the rivers, trade, and production of household tools. Although the Bakumpai are considered part of the larger group of Dayak tribes, their social life and culture is influenced more by the culture of the Banjar people. In the past, when the area of the Banjarmasin was still controlled by a Hindu kingdom, the social system was influenced by the caste system according to the Hindu religion. The system of kinship of the Bakumpai is also similar to the bilateral system of the Banjar. Along with the husband, the wife also exercises an important role in the nuclear family. According to the traditions of the Bakumpai, the newly married couple is free to choose their place to live. They may choose to live with the husband’s relatives, with the wife’s relatives, or separately in their own home. The system of dividing inheritance tends to be implemented according to the rules of the religion of Islam.
Generally, the Bakumpai are followers of Islam.
Banjar  3.916.000 Islam 

kalimantan, tribe, dayak, , banjar, suku

Around Banjarmasin south and east; East Kalimantan, coastal regions of Pulau Laut, Kutai and Pasir; Central Kalimantan as far as Sampit. Also in Malaysia (Sabah). Alternate names: Bandjarese, Banjar Malay, Banjarese, Labuhan. Dialects: Kuala, Hulu. Lexical similarity: 73% with Indonesian [ind], 66% with Tamuan (Malayic Dayak), 45% with Bakumpai [bkr], 35% with Ngaju [nij]. 

The southern and eastern coast of Kalimantan is home to the Banjar people, who live up and down the rivers from the interior rainforest to the coastal cities. Banjar culture dominates the province of South Kalimantan, and there are also significant Banjar populations in East Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, and Malaysia. Although they are devout Muslims, the Banjar proudly trace their origins to a legendary Hindu kingdom, the Negara Dipa. Contemporary ethnic identity developed from a combination of Jawa (Java), Melayu (Malay), and Dayak cultures. Through the Jawa people, Buddhism, Hinduism and finally Islam were introduced into South Kalimantan. In 1526, Banjar Prince Samudera accepted Islam and took the name of Sultan Suriansyah as a condition of receiving help from a Jawa army in overthrowing his uncle.
Banjarmasin, the capital city of South Kalimantan, is located 22 kilometers from the Jawa Sea, and since portions of the city are below sea level, the city rises and falls with the tides. Lanting (houses on stilts) line the multiple waterways, which crisscross the city. Taking a small klotok (motorized boat) around the rivers and canals shows a wide variety of activity: people bathing, washing laundry, gossiping, and buying fruit and vegetables and fish from women vendors in tiny canoes. The Banjar people seldom move to other areas of Indonesia. They tend to marry and settle near their parents or other relatives in Kalimantan. Most seek their livelihood through farming and plantation work near the rivers. Trade, transport, and mining are also prominent occupational fields. Many Banjar work in traditional manual sawmills but are reluctant to work in the plywood factories and commercial sawmills because of the unhealthy conditions.
The all-pervasiveness of Islam in Banjar society has a great influence on every aspect of individual and family life.
Basap 26.000 Animism
scattered in Bulungan, Sangkulirang, and Kutai regencies. Dialects: Jembayan, Bulungan, Berau, Dumaring, Binatang, Karangan.
Berau Malay 12.000 Islam
central coastal area, Tanjungreder and Muaramalinau north to Sepinang south. Alternate names: Berau, Merau Malay.
The Berau live in Berau Regency, East Kalimantan Province and especially in the districts of Tanjungredeb, Gunung Tabur, Sembaliung, and Babanir. The Berau speak their own language. This language differentiates them from other people groups in East Kalimantan. According to a linguist, there are not more than 45,000 people speaking the Berau language.
The Berau mainly make their living as either farmers or fishermen. The farmers grow sweet potatoes, cassava, lentils, fruits, and vegetables. Like other Kalimantan people groups in general, the Berau practice migratory agriculture (shifting from one field to another) mainly because they cannot maintain the soil’s fertility. New farmland is opened by cutting down trees and burning the underbrush. The initial clearing of a field is accomplished with the help of a large group of neighbors. This farming method is often accused of being the main cause of forest fires in Kalimantan. Even though their actions do cause some damage, it is not comparable to the destruction done by businessmen who hold “Forest Enterprise Rights” from the government. Some Berau living in cities work for government or private businesses. Others work as craftsmen or day laborers.The Berau people also produce a handicraft of specially woven fabric, which they often sell to outsiders. A new form of income that has developed recently is the presenting of their traditional ancestral ceremonies as a tourist attraction.Most of the Berau follow the patrilineal kinship system (tracing descent from the father). Male primacy is very important and is dominant in every aspect of life. The men determine issues concerning marriages and inheritance. In the past, the Berau apparently had class distinctions but these have since faded in modern times. Today, wealth and formal education are factors determining one’s social status. The richer a person is or the higher a person’s formal education, the higher their position and social standing in the eyes of the Berau community.
Today most Berau identify themselves as Muslims.
Bolongan  18.000 Christian
Tanjungselor area, lower Kayan River. Alternate names: Bulungan. Dialects: May be a dialect of Tidong [tid] or Segai [sge]. Classification uncertain.
Bukit Malay  76.000 Animism
Bukitan 570
Iwan River, Sarawak border. Also in Malaysia (Sarawak). Alternate names: Bakatan, Bakitan, Beketan, Mangkettan, Manketa, Pakatan. Dialects: Punan Ukit, Punan Busang.
Burusu  9.100 Animism
Bulungan Regency, Sesayap subdistrict, Sekatakbunyi area, north of Sajau Basap [sjb] language. Alternate names: Berusuh, Bulusu.
Busang Kayan 4.500  Animism
upper Mahakam, Oga, Belayan rivers. Alternate names: Busang, Kajan, Kajang. Dialects: Mahakam Busang, Belayan, Long Bleh.
Dusun Malang 4.600  Animism
Central Kalimantan Province, North Barito Regency, west of Muarainu, northeast of Muarateweh. Dialects: Bayan, Dusun Malang. Most similar to Ma’anyan [mhy], Paku [pku], Dusun Witu [duw], Malagasy [plt]. Lexical similarity: 90% between the 2 dialects.
Dusun Deyah 30.000 Animism
South Kalimantan Province, Tabalong River northeast of Bongkang. Alternate names: Deah, Dejah. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 53% with Lawangan [lbx], 52% with Tawoyan [twy].
Dusun Witu 5.300  Animism
Central Kalimantan Province, South Barito Regency, Pendang and Buntokecil regions; south of Muarateweh. Dialects: Dusun Pepas, Dusun Witu. Most similar to Ma’anyan [mhy], Paku, Dusun Malang [duq], Malagasy [plt]. Lexical similarity: 75% with Ma’anyan, 73% with Paku [pku].
Hovongan  1.200 Animism
West Kalimantan Province near Sarawak and East Kalimantan Province borders; Kapuas Hulu Regency, far northeast corner. Alternate names: Punan Bungan. Dialects: Hovongan, Penyavung, Semukung Uheng. Lexical similarity: 69% with Kereho [xke], 67% with Aoheng [pni].
Kayan Mahakan 1.800 Animism
West Kutai and Malinau regencies, 2 areas.
Kayan River Kayan 3.000 Animism 

kalimantan, tribe, dayak, kayan, , suku

Kayan River, 2 areas. Alternate names: Kajang, Kayan River Kajan. Dialects: Uma Leken, Kayaniyut Kayan, Uma Laran.
Kelabit  5.200 Christian 

Kelabit, kalimantan, dayak, tribe, suku

remote mountains, on Sarawak border, northwest of Longkemuat. Mainly in Sarawak. Alternate names: Kalabit, Kerabit, Apo Duat. Dialects: Lon Bangag, Tring, Bareo (Bario), Pa’ Mada, Long Napir. 

Kelabit, kalimantan, dayak, tribe, suku

The Kelabit are an ethnic group in Malaysia with a small number living in Indonesia. The main Kelabit settlement is in northeast Sarawak, Malaysia. The Kelabit heartland, Bario lies 1,000 metres above sea level in the remote Kelabit Highlands. Bario is accessible only by air transport. Sixteen Kelabit villages are located within this highland plateau, while four other villages are located in the lowlands along the tributaries of the Baram River. 

The Kelabit’s ancestors were traditionally farmers and headhunters. The Kelabit of today live a more progressive life. Many have migrated to urban areas for work or further education.

The Kelabit are a close-knit community, noted for their cheerful, industrious and refined nature and generous hospitality. Family life and friendships are highly valued in their society.
Most Kelabit villages are longhouse settlements. The rural Kelabit plant wet-paddy, producing high quality rice commonly known as ‘Bario Rice’. They also cultivate fruits and raise buffaloes, sheep and cattle. The people hunt and fish when the rice-planting season is over. The level of education among the Kelabit is considerably high. Many work in the civil service and the private sector in major urban areas.

They used to strictly observe a social hierarchy which consists of three classes, namely the paran ‘aristocrats’, the pupa ‘middle class’ and the anak lun ian ada ‘commoners’. However with the advent of Christianity and education, such classifications are slowly diminishing.

A Kelabit couple may mark their new status as parents and grandparents by changing their names at a special festive ceremony called Irau Naru Ngadan. The Kelabit are good dancers. Well-known dances include the Arang Papate (The Dance of War) and the graceful Arang Menengang (The Dance of the Hornbill).

Singing, story-telling and joke-sharing sessions are popular traditional pastimes. Games such as football and volleyball are also popular among them. Antique beads are highly valued by the Kelabit. These centuries-old valuable beads are not only used as body adornments but also serve as family heirlooms.
The Kelabit’s forefathers were fervent animists. They appeased spirits and depended on the sighting of certain animals to warn them of impending disaster. Certain taboos and bad omens required the abandonment of ripening rice crops, the dissolution of marriages and even the killing of newborn infants.

The arrival of Christianity in the 1940s saw the Kelabit discarding most of their old beliefs. Most Kelabit today are evangelical Christians. Christmas and Easter are two important festivals celebrated as a community.

Kereho  500
West Kalimantan Province, far east Kapuas Hulu Regency, near Sarawak border, Kereho River. Alternate names: Keriau Punan. Dialects: Busang (Kereho-Busang), Seputan, Uheng (Kereho-Uheng). Lexical similarity: 69% with Hovongan [hov], 69% with Aoheng [pni].
Kota Bangun Kutai Malay 80.000 Islam
central Mahakam River basin. Dialects: Not intelligible with Tenggarong Kutai Malay [vkt], but may be intelligible with one of its dialects (Northern Kutai).
Lawangan 100.000

Karau River area. Alternate names: Luwangan, Northeast Barito. Dialects: Ajuh, Bakoi (Lampung), Bantian (Bentian), Banuwang, Bawu (Bawo), Kali, Karau (Beloh), Lawa, Lolang, Mantararen, Njumit, Purai, Purung, Tuwang, Pasir, Benua, Taboyan. At least 17 dialects. Tawoyan [twy] may be inherently intelligible. Lexical similarity: 77% with Tawoyan, 53% with Dusun Deyah [dun].

Lun Bawang 34.000  Animism, Christian 20 %
The Murut comprise several people groups that are scattered in parts of Borneo Island including Brunei, Kalimantan (Indonesia), and the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak. Their largest numbers are in Sabah but some also inhabit the rural Temburong District in Brunei. They were among the last tribal groups on Borneo to renounce headhunting. The largest Murut people groups are Tagal, Tidung, Timugon, Sembakung, Paluan, Bookan, Kalabakan, and Serundung Murut. The Sabah Murut population is around 135,000 while around 1,200 are found in Brunei.


The literal meaning for Murut is ‘hill people’. The Murut were formerly shifting cultivators moving their settlements every few years. Each people group has their own dialect, but most are also conversant in Malay which is the national language in Brunei and Malaysia. Interior from Brunei Bay to Padas River headwaters, to Baram headwaters, and into East Kalimantan, Indonesian mountains where Sesayap River tributaries arise. Also in Brunei, Malaysia (Sarawak). Alternate names: Southern Murut, Lundayeh, Lun Daye, Lun Dayah, Lun Daya, Lun Dayoh, Lundaya Putuk. Dialects: Lun Daye, Papadi, Lun Bawang (Long Bawan, Sarawak Murut). Not Murutic, although sometimes called Southern Murut.

The Murut used to live in communal longhouses, usually near rivers. Today, they have abandoned this style of living for individual family houses. These modern-style Murut villages are still located in the areas of their former longhouse communities. They are a very hospitable people.

Traditionally, they used the rivers as their highways. They planted hill rice and tapioca, and hunted and fished for a living. The men were skilled hunters, using blowpipes, spears and hunting dogs. Today, cultivating hill rice is their main occupation. Saw milling, timber processing and military careers are other means of livelihood.

Generally speaking, the Murut in Brunei have participated in the economic prosperity and modernization of Brunei Darussalam over the past few decades. The Murut in Sabah have also had increased opportunities resulting from modernization, although those who live in remote locations have not benefited as much from these changes.
Many of the Murut peoples in both Sabah and Brunei characterize their entire people group as being Christian. However, this is often done to distinguish their culture from their earlier culture and from the predominant Muslim culture than to characterize individual beliefs.

Many of those that call themselves Christian are nominal believers. Among church members, there is a mix of Roman Catholic and Protestant affiliations. Brunei statistics reveal that the Murut community is 58% Muslim, 30% “tribal religionists” (animists) and the rest Christian. Malaysian census data count the Murut in Sabah as about 82% Christian, 13% Muslim, and 5% other religions. These numbers can be misleading since they count all those in a household as having the same belief as the head of the household.

Ma’anyan 150.000


Central Kalimantan, Barito Selatan Regency, South Tamianglayang area, Dusun Hilir, Karau Kuala, Dusun Selatan, Dusun Utara, Gunung Bintang Awai, Dusun Tengah, Awang, and Patangkep Tutui subdistricts. Patai River drainage area. Alternate names: Ma’anjan, Maanyak Dayak. Dialects: Samihim (Buluh Kuning), Sihong (Siong), Dusun Balangan. Related to Malagasy languages in Madagascar. Lexical similarity: 77% with Paku [pku], 75% with Dusun Witu [duv].
Mainstream Kenyah 12.000
East Kalimantan Province, Malinau Regency, Pimping, Long Setulang, Batu Kajang, Long Uli, Long Belua villages, Kayan, Mahakam, Upper Baram, Bahau, Upper Balui, Malinau, Belayan, and Telen river areas. Also in Malaysia (Sarawak). Alternate names: Usun Apau Kenyah, Highland Kenyah. Dialects: Lepo’ Tau, Lepo’ Bem, Uma’ Jalan, Uma’ Tukung, Lepo’ Ke, Lepo’ Kuda, Lepo’ Maut, Lepo’ Ndang, Badeng, Bakung, Lepo’ Tepu’.
Modang 23.000  Animism
East Kalimantan Province, Segah, Kelinjau, and Belayan rivers. 5 areas. Dialects: Kelingan (Long Wai, Long We), Long Glat, Long Bento’, Benehes, Nahes, Liah Bing.
Ngaju , Dayak Ngaju, Biadju 958.000 Christian 

Ngaju , kalimantan, dayak, tribe, suku

Kapuas, Kahayan, Katingan, and Mentaya rivers, south. Alternate names: Biadju, Dayak Ngaju, Ngadju, Ngaja, Ngaju Dayak, Southwest Barito. Dialects: Ba’amang (Bara-Bare, Sampit), Katingan Ngaju, Katingan Ngawa, Kahayan, Kahayan Kapuas, Mantangai (Oloh Mangtangai), Pulopetak. Related to Bakumpai [bkr]. Lexical similarity: 75% with Bakumpai, 62% with Kohin [kkx], 50% with Ot Danum [otd], 35% with Banjar [bjn].
Okolod, Murut Okolod 3.390 Animism, Christian40%
East Kalimantan Province along Sabah border, east of Lumbis, north of Lundayeh; also in Sarawak. Also in Malaysia (Sarawak). Alternate names: Kolod, Kolour, Kolur, Okolod Murut. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 82% with Okolod of Sabah, 70% with Pensiangan Murut dialect of Tagal Murut [mvv], 34% with Lun Bawang [lnd].
Ot Dahun 78.800 

Ot Dahun , kalimantan, dayak, tribe, suku

Upper reaches of south Borneo River, large area south of Schwaner Range. Ulu Ai’ on Mandai River with 7 villages. Alternate names: Dohoi, Malahoi, Uud Danum, Uut Danum. Dialects: Ot Balawan, Ot Banu’u, Ot Murung 1 (Murung 1, Punan Ratah), Ot Olang, Ot Tuhup, Sarawai (Melawi), Dohoi, Ulu Ai’ (Da’an), Sebaung, Kadorih, Kuhin. Lexical similarity: 70% with Siang [sya], 65% with Kohin [kkx], 60% with Katingan dialect of Ngaju [nij], 50% with Ngaju (main dialect) [nij].
Paku 3.700 Animism
Central Kalimantan Province, East Barito Regency, south of Ampah. Alternate names: Bakau. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 77% with Ma’anyan [mhy], 73% with Dusun Witu [duv].
Punan Aput 600  Animism 

kalimantan, tribe, dayak, punan, suku

East Kalimantan Province, west and north of Mt. Menyapa. Alternate names: Aput. Dialects: Allegedly unintelligible to other Penan languages.
Punan Merah 200  Animism
East Kalimantan Province, Mahakam River, east of Ujohhilang.
Punan Merap 200  Animism
East Kalimantan Province, east of Longkemuat.
Punan Tubu 3.100   Animism
East Kalimantan Province, Malinau, Mentarang, and Sembakung rivers, coastal. 8 locations. Dialects: Not a Kenyah language (Soriente 2003).
Sa’ban 900 Christian
East Kalimantan Province, Nunukan Regency, Sarawak border, south of Lundayeh. Alternate names: Saban, Merau.
The Sa’ban are a small people group living in the Punang Kelapang region in the remote Kelabit Highlands of northeast Sarawak. Long Banga is the main Sa’ban village in the highlands. Many Sa’ban have also moved to urban areas such as Miri for work purposes. 

The Sa’ban originally lived in the upper reaches of the Bahau River in east Kalimantan. Migration to Sarawak began around 1900 and continued until the late 1960s.

Despite sharing many cultural similarities with the neighboring Kelabit, the Sa’ban are a distinct people who even today seldom intermarry with outsiders. Historically their warriors were renowned for their bravery and steadfastness in battle. The Sa’ban are an industrious people. A strong desire exists among them to improve their standard of living.
A typical Sa’ban village consists of houses built in an alignment similar to that of a longhouse. Nowadays, individual houses are also built in the villages. Farming is a major economic activity. They practice shifting paddy cultivation. Coffee and sugarcane are planted as cash crops.

Many Sa’ban have taken up jobs in urban areas. They also work in the logging and plantation industries. The level of education among the Sa’ban is high. Schoolchildren normally have to finish their higher secondary school education in faraway towns. A few individuals are university and college graduates. The Sa’ban live in extended families. The adoption of children among close relatives is common. Sa’ban society consists of aristocrats and commoners. Formerly there was also a slave class. Village heads are usually elected from the aristocratic class. A Sa’ban couple changes their names upon the births of their first child and first grandchild. Parents also address their children using special terms. Certain traditional practices of elongating earlobes and tattooing among both men and women have almost died out. The practice of keeping antique jars and beads as heirlooms continues even today.
The Sa’ban previously practiced animism. Deep in spirit-worship, they kept the skulls of their enemies in their longhouses.

In the early 1950s, the first Protestant Christian missionaries went to the Sa’ban people. The Sa’ban responded positively and the people today are predominantly Christians. Christmas and Easter celebrations are looked forward to as a time of festivities and family reunions.

Sajau  Basap 9.100 Animism
East Kalimantan Province, Berau and Bulungan regencies, northeast of Muaramalinau. Alternate names: Sajau, Sujau. Dialects: Punan Sajau, Punan Basap, Punan Batu 2. Related to Basap [bdb].
Segai 3.000  Animism
East Kalimantan Province, Berau regency, Kelai River and around Longlaai. Alternate names: Called Segayi by the Berau, Ga’ay by the Kenyah and Kayan. Dialects: Kelai, Segah.
Selungai Murut 700  Animism
East Kalimantan Province, Nunukan Regency east of Lumbis on upper reaches of Sembakung River. Also in Malaysia (Sabah). Alternate names: Murut.
Sembakung Murut  3.500   Animism
East Kalimantan Province, Nunukan Regency, Sembakung River mouth into Sabah. Also in Malaysia (Sabah). Alternate names: Sembakoeng, Sembakong, Simbakong, Tingalun, Tinggalan, Tinggalum
Siang 86.000  Animism
Central Kalimantan Province, Murung Raya Regency, east of Dohoi. Alternate names: Ot Siang. Dialects: Siang, Murung 2. Related to Dohoi.
The Siang people live in the province of Central Kalimantan. They are often called the Siang-Murung people because of the close relationship between the Siang and Murung peoples. The Siang primarily live in the Tanah Siang, Permata Intan, Laung Tuhup, Sumber Barito, and Murung districts of the North Barito Regency.The Siang are one of the people groups in the Barito cluster, which is part of the larger Dayak ethno-linguistic cluster. Dayak peoples (sometimes identified as either Land or Sea Dayaks) tend to live alongside the interior rivers of Kalimantan.Their language is called Siang, which is part of the Ot Danum language cluster. The Siang language is considered a “more polite” language than the Murung language. The Siang are particularly proud of their songs honoring respected guests or praising those who have done extraordinary feats.
The main means of livelihood of the Siang people is farming. Other than that, they tap rubber trees, gather forest products such as rattan, hunt pigs, and pan for gold and diamonds. They still use simple tools such as spears, blowpipes, and trident harpoons. The Siang people’s mobility is low. In spite of this, the Siang people group is not a closed group. They are known as a friendly and open people, but of course any newcomer would have to adapt himself to their customs and traditions.The custom of helping one another is dominant in their communities. For example, during planting and harvest time, neighbors come to help, bringing their own tools, while the owner of the field provides the food and drink. This type of helping one another is called haweh. Nango is helping spontaneously without an invitation, and ndohop is giving aid to one who is unable to proceed with the requirements for a marriage ceremony.The ancestral line is characterized as ambilineal. Extended families are formed by the groom living with the bride’s family. Social interaction is clearly defined. Their customs and manners are carefully defined, in matters concerning parents-in-law relations to their children-in-law. Another example is that a brother-in-law is not allowed to enter the house of his sister-in-law if her husband is not home.
The Siang people follow an ancestral belief system called Kaharingan. They believe invisible creatures and spirits of the deceased inhabit the natural world around them. These spirits at times actually enter the visible world which is called Lewu Liau. When someone dies, they are temporarily buried, then later a special observance called numbeng is held to send the spirit to the spirit world to face the highest god/spirit called Ranying Mahatalla Langit.
Tagal Murut  2.700  Animism
East Kalimantan Province, Nunukan Regency, Pegalan Valley, Alumbis River. Alternate names: Semambu, Semembu, Sumambu, Sumambu-Tagal, Sumambuq. Dialects: Rundum (Arundum), Tagal (Tagol, North Borneo Murut, Sabah Murut), Sumambu (Semembu, Sumambuq), Tolokoson (Telekoson), Sapulot Murut (Sapulut Murut), Pensiangan Murut (Pentjangan, Tagul, Taggal, Lagunan Murut), Alumbis (Lumbis, Loembis), Tawan, Tomani (Tumaniq), Maligan (Mauligan, Meligan, Bol Murut, Bole Murut).
Tawoyan ,Dayak Tawoyan  30.000  Animism
East Central around Palori. Alternate names: Tabojan, Tabojan Tongka, Taboyan, Tabuyan, Tawoyan Dayak, Tewoyan. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 77% with Lawangan [lbx], 52% with Dusun Deyah.
The Tawoyan people (also called Tabojan, Tabuyan, or Taboyan) are almost all involved in tapping rubber trees. They also grow rice and harvest rattan vines. Farmers will cultivate fields until the land is depleted and then move to new fields. Also swallow nests are gathered and sold for birds nest soup. To add to family income, the women and children above 10 years of age typically weave different products for sale.
Common transport for traveling to district capitals is a small motorboat. The area government is developing roads, but during the rainy season, public transportation is only available once a week on market day. Trade and business is almost completely dominated by newcomers from the Banjar and Bakumpai people groups. The Tawoyan from Gunung Pure have not even developed a market system yet. Therefore, it is no surprise that there is not a single market in the area. 

The Tawoyan people do not practice polygamy. The husband is the head of the household, but the opinions of the wife are not to be neglected. There is freedom for women to express their opinion. Both husband and wife have the right to work outside of the home.
Most Tawoyan people follow Kaharingan beliefs. They are obligated to offer food to the spirits of departed ancestors in a ceremony called warah. A cave in the Angah Mountain was designated as a place of ascetic meditation by the Sultan Mangkusari. According to their beliefs, some things which possess special magical powers are Air Silo, a special sacred water and Pupur Silo, a face powder made of finely ground rock sold as a cosmetic that has the power to attract men to women.

Tenggarong Kutai Malay 210.000 Islam 

guitarman-thehague, Online Album, photo, picture, image

100,000 in Tenggarong, 60,000 in Ancalong, 50,000 in Northern Kutai. East Kalimantan Province, Mahakam River basin, east central coastal area, from Sepinang and Tg; Mangkalihat north to Muarabadak and Samarinda south. Alternate names: Kutai, Tenggarong. Dialects: Tenggarong Kutai, Ancalong Kutai, Northern Kutai. Many dialects. Tenggarong and Kota Bangun (Malay, Kota Bangun Kutai [mqg]) are not inherently intelligible. Shares phonological innovations with Berau Malay [bve], Banjar [bjn], and Brunei [xkd]. 

ikat-weaving-pasarmalam, Online Album, photo, picture, image

dance-kutai-woman, Online Album, photo, picture, image

Online Album, photo, picture, image

Sultan Kutai’s Palace

ceremony of Sultan Kutai Kertanegara ing Martadipura XX at     the palace

Tidong 49.000 Islam
East Kalimantan Province, Bulungan Regency, Sembakung and Sibuka rivers, coast and islands around Tarakan and interior, Malinau River. Also in Malaysia (Sabah). Alternate names: Camucones, Tedong, Tidoeng, Tidung, Tiran, Tirones, Tiroon, Zedong. Dialects: Nonukan (Nunukan), Penchangan, Sedalir (Salalir, Sadalir, Saralir, Selalir), Tidung, Tarakan (Terakan), Sesayap (Sesajap), Sibuku.
The Tidong live on the eastern coast of Bulungan Regency in the province of East Kalimantan and to the northeast of Putoh in the coastal area facing the island of Sulawesi. Perhaps, their location in the coastal regions make them more open to outsiders than many other groups. This openness and exposure to the modern world has lead them to be influenced by the outsiders’ cultures. This has been heightened by the fact that most of their dwelling areas have become transmigration areas. The Tidong speak their own language, Bahasa Tidong (Tidong language). 

The Tidong make their living mainly as farmers. They grow sweet potatoes, cassava, lentils, fruits and vegetables. The Tidong practice migratory agriculture (shifting from one field to another), mainly because they cannot maintain the soil’s fertility. The Tidong farmers typically clear new farm land by cutting down trees and burning the underbrush. This farming method is often accused of being the main cause of forest fires in Kalimantan. Even though this process does cause some damage, it is not comparable to the destruction done by businessmen who hold “Forest Enterprise Rights” from the government.Some of the Tidong are ocean fishermen. The Tidong harvest rice, coconuts, and wood from their land. Petroleum is also produced on Bunyu and Tarakan islands. Some of the Tidong young people choose their own marriage partner. However, others marry partners chosen for them by their parents. The birth of a child is gladly welcomed and celebrated by a kenduri (ritual feast), which is a party led by a religious leader. Neighbors are invited to come to the feast in which the child is given a name (tasmiah). Usually, the celebration is held after the child is one or two weeks old. At the party, there is a naik ayun (swing riding) ritual. In this ritual, the child’s parents put the child in a swing and cut the child’s hair and cover him/her with flour.
Generally, the Tidong are Muslims.

Tunjung , Tunjung  Dayak  76.000 Animism 

Tunjung , kalimantan, dayak, tribe, suku

East Kalimantan Province, Kutai Regency, between Adas, Dempar, Melak, and east around the lake; south Muntaiwan area. Alternate names: Tunjung Dayak. Dialects: Tunjung (Tunjung Tengah), Tunjung Londong, Tunjung Linggang, Pahu.
Uma’Lasan 1.500
East Kalimantan Province, Malinau regency, primarily Long Pujungan and Long Jelet Mesahan villages, also Long Pejalin (Uma’ Alim). Alternate names: Western Kenyah. Dialects: Uma’ Alim, Uma’ Lasan, Uma’ Baka.
Uma’Lung 3.000
East Kalimantan Province, Malinau regency mostly, Pimping, Long Setulang, Batu Kajang, Long Uli, Long Belua villages. Alternate names: Oma Longh. Dialects: Marginally intelligible with Uma Lasan [xky].
Wahau Kenyah  1.500 Christian
East Kalimantan Province, upper Mahakam River, Batu Majang, Buluk Sen, Uma’ Dian, Muara Pedohon, Kampung Baru, Uma’ Bekuai, Tabang Lama villages. Alternate names: Wahau Kenya, Lebu’ Kulit. Dialects: Uma Timai, Lebu’ Kulit, Uma’ Ujok.


Punan Tribe of Kalimantan


An elderly Punan man performing Bungan rites. Photo taken at Punan Sama
Total population 5,000 (Sarawak only)
Office website Punan.Net
Region Sarawak
Language Punan
Religion ChristianityAnimist
Related Ethnic Groups Sekapan, Kejaman, Lahanan’

Bah’ or Punan is an ethnic group found in SarawakMalaysia. They are distinct, unrelated to the Penan and also the other so called Punan found in the Indonesian part of Borneo. Their name stems from two rivers along the banks of which they have been living time immemorial. They do have other names – ‘Mikuang Bungulan’ or ‘Mikuang’ and ‘Aveang Buan’. But these terms are only used ritually these days.
The Punan (or Punan Bah) have never been nomad. In the old days they base their living on a mixed economy. Swidden agriculture with hill paddy as the main crop, supplemented by a range of tropical plants which include maniok, taro, sugar cane, tobacco, etc. Hunting especially wild boar, fishing, and gathering of forest resources are the other important factors in their economy.
However, in the late 1980s many Punan, notably the younger, more educated, gradually migrating to urban areas such as BintuluSibuKuching and Kuala Lumpur in search of better living. However that doesn’t they abandon their longhouses altogether. Many would still return home – especially during major festivities such as Harvest Festival / or Bungan festival as it is known among Punan.
Punan is a stratified society of ‘laja’ (aristocrats), ‘panyen’ (commoners), and ‘lipen’ (slaves). This is a fact determine their historical traditions that have been preserved. Just like most of the history of European Middle Ages is linked to and mainly concerned the various ruling monarchs, so are the historical and mythical traditions of Punan closely connected to their rulings aristocrats.
‘Are all Punan related tribes/ethnic?’ There is this popular misunderstanding that all the so called Punan on the island of Borneo are related and referring to the same tribe. In Sarawak there is the confusion between Punan and Penan. On the whole island of Borneo the term Punan have been indiscrimately use referring then an unknown tribes as such as Punan Busang, Penihing, Sajau Hovongan, Uheng Kareho, Merah, Aput, Tubu, Bukat, Ukit, Habongkot, Penyawung asPunan. Sadly this colonial naming system name stick until today. Hence, there are now more than 20 different tribes / ethnics found on the island of Borneo being called Punan. They are;



Punan Busang

Punan Penihing

Punan Batu

Punan Sajau

Punan Hovongan di Kapuas Hulu, Kalbar

Punan Uheng Kereho di Kapuas Hulu, Kalbar

Punan Murung di Murung Raya, Kalteng

Punan Aoheng (Suku Dayak Pnihing) di Kalimantan Timur

Punan Merah (Siau)

Punan Aput

Punan Merap

Punan Tubu

Punan Ukit/Bukitan

Dayak Bukat

Punan Habongkot

Punan Panyawung
These so called Punans are not related to the
Punan or Punan Bah as being described in this page.


Officially, as under the Sarawak Interpretation Ordinance and Article 161A, Clause 6 of the Malaysia
Constitution”, Punan is group under Kajang together with Sekapan, Kejaman, Lahanan and Sihan.
Unoffically, they are also included in the politically coined term
Orang Ulu – popularized by a political association known as Orang Ulu National Association or (OUNA). The association is a Kayan and Kenyah dominated association which they established in 1969.


‘Where are the Punan to found?’ Punan are mostly found around
Bintulu, Sarawak. Punan peoples can only be found at Pandan, Jelalong and Kakus in Bintulu Division; along the Rajang River, their longhouses dotted areas spanning fromMerit District to lower Belaga town.
The Punan are believed to be one of the earliest peoples to have settled in the central part of Borneo, the Rajang River and
Balui areas together with the Sekapan, Kejaman and Lahanan. However the mass migrations of Kayans, subsequently followed by the warfaring Ibans into Rejang and Balui areas approximately some 200 years ago, forcing the Punan communities living in these areas retreating to Kakus and subsequently to Kemena basin.
As in year 2006, there were more than 10 Punan settlements (longhouses) found along the Rejang, Kakus, Kemena and Jelalong river. These settlements (longhouses) are:

Punan Lovuk Sama,

Punan Lovuk Ba,

Punan Lovuk Biau,

Punan Lovuk Meluyou,

Punan Lovuk Lirung Belang (name by Rumah Bilong before and now as known as Rumah Ado)

Punan Lovuk Mina,

Punan Lovuk Pedan (also Rumah Nyipa Tingang), and

Punan Lo’o Buong (Jelalong also known as Rumah Adi).
Total Punan population is estimated to be around 3000 – 5000 people.


Punan speak a language categorized as
Punan Bah-Biau, a sub Rajang-Sajau language. Although often confused for the Penan, Punan language is actually closer to the language spoken by the Sekapans and Kejamans but not the Penan.
Here some word spoken in Punan:

1. Nu denge? – How are you?

2. Nu ngaro no? – What is your name?

3. Piro umun no? – How old are you?

4. Tupu koman si – Do you have your lunch/diner/breakfast?


Punan traditional regilion was a form
animist known as “Besavik”. The Brooke era saw the arrival of Christianmissionaries, bringing education and modern medicine into Sarawak. But the Punan communities remain with their traditional religion of Besavik and subsequently adopting a cult religion – Bungan brought by Jok Apui, a Kenyah from Kalimantan.
However in the late 1990 show an increase in the number of Punan converting to Christianity. This is partly due to more and more Punan have became educated and modernization. As in 2006 almost half of Punan are now Christian, leaving only the elderly, less educated still remain observing “Bungan” religion.

The Punan have a unique burial custom. In the early days they did not bury their aristocrats or “lajar”. Instead they built a pole known as kelirieng of 50 meter high to lay down their beloved leaders. In Sarawak it is estimated to be less than 30 kelirieng left standing. The Punan still practice secondary burial ceremony – whereby the dead body is kept at their longhouse for at least 3 – 7 days. This is partly to give more time for far away relatives to give their last respect to the deceased.


Nicolaisen, IDA.1976. ”Form and Function of Punan Bah Ethno-historical Tradition” in Sarawak Museum Journal Vol XXIV No.45 (New Series). Kuching.

‘Punan National Association’.

‘Leigh, MICHEAL’. 2002. ”Mapping the People of Sarawak”. UNIMAS. Samarahan.

The Official Punan Community site

The Official Punan Community Blog

Punan Community Forum

Calvin Jemarang


‘Note:’ There is still lack of literatures on Punan peoples. Available information about these peoples were often sourced from either passing notes written by Brooke and Colonial administrators not in-depth scholarly research. The earliest? literature on Punan is probably one written by Eduardo Beccari, an Italian botanist and traveller in 1876?. In the late 1950s, Rodney Needham, Tom Harrisson, de Martinoir wrote a brief notes on Punan people they either personally met or heard from their guides along the Rajang river. Because of the lack of information many have confused them for Penan and also the Punan of Kalimantan. In Sarawak for example the Punan was wrongly classified as Penan by the National Registeration Department in the late 1990. They are also often confused for a politically coined term such as “Kajang” and “Orang Ulu”. As such the Punan through their association ‘Punan National Association’ is willing to collaborate with both foreign and local scholars who interested in doing social, economic research among the communities.