Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Kedau Diam (Settlements)

Modern villages vary in size from 300 to 1,000 inhabitants. Houses, averaging 7 by 10 meters, are built on durable wooden frames in a ribbon pattern along both banks of a river and stand some 3 meters above ground. Walls are of plank or sago bark, and roofing is of palm thatch or wooden shingles.

When i was a a kids we used to have this kind of house but not 3 m above the ground. We use sago bark as walls and nipah leaves or wooden as roofing. It was so unique when i think back how they use to made a house using all the source that we can get from the surroundings. Plants and wildlife is the main source for living.

In some areas, notably on the River Tillian at Mukah, villages were closely adjacent, and today the banks of the river are a continuous line of housing with several thousand inhabitants. Administratively the villages are still separate. Traditionally a village was made up of two, sometimes three longhouses, each with a population of about 300 people. A longhouse, consisting of separate apartments with a common veranda in front, facing the river, was essentially a fortress on ironwood piles, some 10 meters above the ground. They were often sited on the bank of the main river opposite the mouth of a tributary stream, which allowed them to see enemies approaching on the water.

I wonder when Melanau people started to change from longhouses to a single house like what we have now. Since i was born, i only see single houses and never see any longhouses in my village.

At the mouths of the main rivers, where representatives of the sultan of Brunei nominally held suzerainty over the river to its source, villagers had by 1830 already begun to build small separate houses, but still retained longhouses for defense. By the beginning of the twentieth century the rajah of Sarawak had successfully put an end to intertribal warfare and most longhouses were abandoned. Sago gardens were cultivated as near the village as possible, and a communal rice field was organized annually by village elders, with a strip allocated to each household.

It is still the main activities of Melanau people in our area to plant sago and paddy for their living.

*Idak anagai ngak a liko gak kapong ko keluar keman kapong pesawa jegum a luar lalu debei menak kubo gak kapong agei. Dagen kawasan kamei dagen setaun ien payah angai agei bak pilak a nyerakin kubo. Ienlah kapong ko dibei petamah rakyat alu ji agei. Hmmm..ako pun kalik debei balik kapongkawak agei na'ah.


  1. Enjoyed reading your posts. Keep posting. Wonderful education for those of us who have never traveled there.

  2. Hi Andrea...thanks for drop by my blog. It was a little bit ashamed for me because as for myself i am not good in my own ethnic background so it does give information to myself too. So thanks for support my blog post. Have a good day and i will visit your site soon..God bless.