Friday, November 16, 2012

The indigenous people of Sarawak

Other than being famed for its jungle, Sarawak is also known for its indigenous communities and for good reason; there are more than 45 recognised ethnic groups.

Between them they make up more than half of the overall population and it is this diverse range of cultures that makes Sarawak one of the most fascinating places to visit in Malaysia.

The catergorisation of these indigenous communities is a little confusing. Where some people use the collective term ‘dayak’ to describe all the indigenous communities; others eschew this term as it is too broad for such a diverse range of people.

So to clear up any confusion, here we will only use the term dayak for two indigenous groups, the Iban and the Bidayuh.

The Iban, or Sea Dayaks, are the largest indigenous group in Sarawak and it is likely that you’ll have heard of them as they are infamous for three things; tattoos, raucous celebrations and headhunting.

In reality, their culture is much more complex than this and life isn’t just one massive party.

The Bidayuh, also known as the Land Dayaks, are not actually one tribe; Bidayuh is a collective term for a group of indigenous communities who often have no common language. 

In fact, it’s pretty common for Bidayuh of differing communities to communicate in either English or Malay as their languages are so different.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: The indigenous people of Sarawak