Thursday, November 13, 2014

Dayak Tribe Of Borneo: Violence and Headhunters


That’s right, Tribe! It’s the long-awaited headhunting post! I hope you will enjoy reading my little report as much as I enjoyed the reading and researching of it.

What exactly is headhunting? Well, Wikipedia defines it as “taking and preserving a person’s head after killing a person”.

Now here’s a thought – just imagine beautiful islands, crystal-clear turquoise water, light and fluffy sand sparkling on the beaches, and the lush, green, dense jungle behind you. Now, anywhere in that did you picture an angry, half-naked native chasing you with a specialize machete?

Me neither, but it was a way of life for many sub tribes of the Dayaks and several others around the world.

Headhunting isn’t as common as one might believe these days, at least for our Dayak friends in Borneo. It use to be a very routine occurrence, and was mostly reserved for acts of war or retaliation after being insulted.

One thing that I’m seeing in just about every article I stumble upon: headhunting was very important to all Dayak culture in one form or another. Many, if not most, Dayak sub tribes actively headhunted over a hundred years ago.

Though after all of my reading, I would agree that it was mostly during wartimes and periods of fighting between sub tribes, whether for resources like food or simply moving onto another’s territory. This practice seemed to be kept alive between sub tribes when it wasn’t actively happening – when one group was done killing the other, they would hold onto that anger for some time before starting the fight all over again with retaliation for “crimes of the past”, as I like to put it.

 Because of the collective belief in Animism (That anything living; mammal, insect, plant alike have a souls), taking a head from their enemy was a big deal. They believed that part of your soul resides in your head, so in taking your enemies head, you basically had control of his or her soul. It was also believed by the Dayaks that you would seize their powers (strength, for example) and skills if you were in possession of a head.

To a few sub tribes, it was almost considered a sport. The Iban, also known as “Sea Dayaks” by the British, have been notorious for their aggressive and violent efforts, usually during travel and settlement.

Some would argue that the Iban tribe only started this practice at the end of the 19th century, replicating another sub tribe, the Kayan Dayak. But most believe that the Iban have been using the practice of headhunting on their own for at least a hundred or so years before that, and that the Iban headhunted because they were in a period of rapid growth around that time, trying to expand outwards and take new territory for themselves.

Today, most of the Iban live in areas of Malaysia, and have become increasingly “modern”, adapting to suburban and city life, and Christianity.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Dayak Tribe Of Borneo: Violence and Headhunters
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