Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2009!

I am leaving for Christmas and New Year holiday started from tomorrow until 1st January 2009. Can't wait to see my family for the family gathering.

So, i want to wish everyone Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2009! May all of you be bless richfully for this coming of Christ birth celebration.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Umai - Melanau Delicacies

I like to write about foods because it makes me feel home and i can imagine how delicious it is. By the way, i want to talk about umai here. If you visit Melanau area such as Dalat, Mukah, Igan, Matu-Daro, Balingian or any other Melanau people places you will be served with this food. I am not sure if there is other ethnic groups in Sarawak that served umai as their food. It is a sliced of raw fish that marinated with "assam paya" or sometimes we use lime juice. For more information about how to prepare and how to eat this Melanau cuisine, go to this page.
Isn't it's sounds so yummy? I can make umai but maybe not really nice but i still like to eat it. Have to select the fresh fish and for sure it will taste soooo yummy.

When i study in Sabah, i have learned that Kadazan-Dusun people also have some sort of umai but they called it "Hinava". The way they prepared it a little bit different and it is so yummy too. What is the difference? I think because they put some extra ingredients in it. They mix the dried and grated "bambangan" seed into it. I am not sure what is the name of bambangan in Malay but we Melanau called it "pangin". Ok, visit this site to read more about how Kadazan people prepared their "sushi = hinava".
It was so interesting to find out that there is other groups of people actually share the same food that we have but the way we prepared it a little bit different. I really love to explore more about others culture but i still far to know about my own culture and traditions. No way! I will get whatever information that i have when i get back to my village end of this year. I will ask my mum and dad (pity my grandparents was died years ago). Sounds funny but it's my call. :)

*Pawah tan bak keman umai nak mak. Mun mak menak mesti dao angai nyam. Mana-mana ji wak nisik mak semuah dao min nyam. Hehehehe..Pulik bulan 12 ih mesti kamei berabih keman inut, umai, sabel petah...nyum nyumm....Debei saber tan agei bak pulik kapong.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Melanau - The People

When i went study outside Sarawak, my friends from other states (Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah) will says that mostly Melanau people looks like Chinese. I will say not all looks like Chinese. It maybe because they refer it to me. If they refer it to me, i am not purely Melanau. So, i am not a good example of how purely Melanau looks like. How to describe us? Hmm.. Again, i am not good in describing but maybe you guys can have a look at this blog posts that i found. The blogger is from Mukah and this posts is about Melanau traditional wedding at Mukah. Quite interesting to read and she got a beauitiful collections of photos.

Click to this link: Twinkle and Me

A lots of mix-marriage is happen now so i am not sure what will the next generations of Melanau will looks like. As for myself, part of my blood is Chinese and my sisters and brothers already married to other races as well. My nephew is more into Chinese blood because my brother married to Chinese lady. So...what left for Melanau blood in my family. I am not sure too..That's why i am gathering informations about Melanau here and i am sure i will find a lot more after this.

Mun sabei, ako debei rapa bak peduli angai gak adat a liko atau mana-mana pasal a liko. Tapi ajau ih ko pilak idak angai ji wak ngak neliluk. Apatah agei bila a lakei-lakei wak memigang adat gak kapong ngak matai min. Lian ih, gak kapong ko mun lian a kawin kurang angai ji agei wak menak surong berian. Adet debei rapa nebak ji agei. Luin suka aluk kawin cara aliko putik. Kawin gak restorenlah wak paling senang. Ienlah tan wak menak ko luk pinyi idak aluk pasal ji gaya udip a liko wak saji atang. Ako keman umit angai debei nelajer lo mak ko pasal adet a liko.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What Is The Meaning of "Janik"?

There is not much vote on the questions that i ask about the meaning of "janik". In Melanau language, "janik" means siblings but if in Iban language "janik" (but a little bit different in the pronunciation) means bearded pig.

So, based on the vote, the question has been answer correctly. "Janik" means siblings.

So learn more Melanau language after this. :)

Sago Worms (Si'et)

As i browse through the internet i found quite a few bloggers that write about sago worms. As in Sarawak, the sago worms is the famous delicacies for Melanau ethnic and we called it si'et.

My family have our own sago plantations and we used to eat sago worms. I ate it since i was a kid but i am not really like the taste now. I still can eat it but not like when i was a kid. When i was a kid i eat it like a snack especially the deep fried one. Love to eat it with sago (bulu).

I don't have photos to show here but when i get back to my village, my mother will surely asks me to look for the sago worms. She really like to eat it. Since we have our own sago plantations so it will not that difficult to get the sago worms as long as my sisters keep the left-over of the sago tree after she harvest it for sell. Not all the sago worms taste delicious. If the sago tree is harvested when it is still young, the taste of the worms is not good but if the matured sago tree, the worms is tasty. The appearance of the worms can differentiate whether it is from young tree or matured tree. If the worms looks darker and not yellowish and shining, it is for sure from the young trees. If it is looks very fat with the yellowish shining skin, then it is from the matured trees. It taste yummy...

Here is two links that shows more about sago worms:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

5 Things Meme

One of the bloggers I follow, Christie Lynn , tagged me, so now I suppose I have to do this survey... Sounds kinda fun!

5 Things I Was Doing 10 Years Ago:
*Have fun with my 12 Stars Friends
*Struggling for my high school examination certificate (SPM)
*First crush on a cute guy in my school
*Sneak out from my school hostel
*Stealing papaya from school garden

5 Things On My To-Do List Today:
*Bring my friends for breakfast
*Finish my Chapter Two editing
*Have enough sleep
*Check my email
*Update my blog

5 Snacks I Love:
*Choki choki

5 Things I’d do if I was a Millionaire:
*Build a nice village house for my parents
*Open a non-profit organization to fight against the illegal logging activities
*Open a center for Children With Disabilities in my village
*Travel around the world
*Take a good care of my parents

5 Places I’ve Lived:
*Sibu, Sarawak
*Miri, Sarawak
*Labuan, WP Labuan
*Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
*Bintulu, Sarawak

5 Jobs I’ve Had:
*Insurance Agent
*Temporary MIS Clerk
*Temporary Secondary Teacher
*Temporary Research Assistant
*Conservation Project Officer

That is interesting and fun... Thanks, Christie Lynn! Now I guess i have to tag other people, so I'll tag the three people that follow this blog: Andrea, rainfield61 and Joe. Enjoy and have fun!

Religion & Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs
In 1980 53,689 Melanau were Sunni Muslim, 8,486 were Christian, 1,749 were tribal, 5,328 were listed as having no religion (but were probably all tribal), and 326 were listed as miscellaneous. For Muslims, Christians, and tribals alike, the world consists of this, the middle world, the upper world (the sky), and the world below. Traditionally the world was egg-shaped, seven layers or worlds above and seven below the middle world, the whole being balanced on the head of a buffalo standing on a snake, all surrounded by water. The breathing of the buffalo caused the ebb and flow of the tides. For some people the land of the dead was an underworld; others thought it elsewhere, but did not know where. Its topography was exact, but differed for Muslims, whose view was shared by Christians.

For Muslims, Christians, and tribals alike, the world, the sun, the moon, and the stars were created by Alla-taala, but how is not known. He is remote and little interested in human affairs. All "layers" of the world are inhabited by spirits (tou), who, together with humans, animals, and plants, share this middle world. Every being has its own proper place in the world, which is ordered by adat. Overstepping boundaries causes trouble, and most human illness is caused by trespassing on some spirit's living space. Spirits are of many kinds: earth, air, water, forest, etc. Sometimes they are referred to as ipu', who are less malevolent than tou, and may indeed be invited to reside in and protect dwellings. Supernaturals live on the moon and punish disorderly and disrespectful behavior by men, especially mockery of animals. A female guards the entrance to the land of the dead. People are reluctant to call such supernaturals "tou" or "ipu'," but no other term exists for such demigods. Muslims and some pagans call them melaikat.

Religious Practitioners
No pagan priests exist. Expert carvers of spirit images, or belum, diagnose what spirit (sometimes also called "belum" and not "tou") is likely to have caused an illness and, in a short ceremony, forces the spirit into its carved image so that it may be taken to its proper place and forbidden to harm the patient for at least three days. Spirit mediums, with the help of familiar spirits, also cure illness and practice divination. Every village, Muslim and tribal alike, holds an annual cleansing ceremony, kaul, to call uninvited spirits that have taken up residence in the village to a feast before they are sent home to their proper places.

Apart from the annual kaul, private ceremonies of increasing complexity and expense are held for the curing of illness by spirit mediums. Ceremonies for the safety of a child two months before its delivery initiate a series of taboos, culminating in the birth. There are also ceremonies at the wake of a dead person; they may continue for several months, until a secondary burial.

Among most Melanau groups, tattooing was never widely practiced. Strongly built longhouses, fortresses thirty feet above ground, were traditionally decorated with elaborate wood carving. Belum carved in sago pith were widely used and are a sophisticated form of sculpture. Ceremonies were accompanied by gong orchestras with distinctive chants and music; bards recited and sang epics, legends, and myths of considerable poetic merit at ceremonies or simply for entertainment.

Most illness was attributed to an attack by a spirit, but certain ailments, mostly minor, were attributed to a failure to keep a proper balance between hot and cold conditions in the body. Herbal medicines existed to restore the balance, most of which have been taken over by practitioners of Malay medicine.

Death and Afterlife
An individual's funeral is one of the most important events in the life cycle. At death the soul begins a boat journey, accompanied by attendant spirits—usually called "tou"—to the land of the dead. Chants, ceremonies, and games during the wake ensure the soul a safe journey. Once admitted, the soul is sent to one of seven pagan villages, appropriate to the manner of death, and lives a life similar to that of this middle world. Eventually a second death occurs, and many believe that the soul then becomes dew. Muslims and many Christians also believe that the soul sets out for the land of the dead by boat or, according to some, along a road that comes to a place where the path becomes a sword across a pot of blazing fire. An individual who has led a good life can walk along the flat edge of the sword; the sharp edge of the sword ensures that one who has led a bad life falls into the pot. Beyond the sword is the land of Mohammed, Jesus Christ, and the pagans.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Sociopolitical Organization

Sarawak is a state in the Federated States of Malaysia; it consists of divisions, each of which in turn is divided into districts under the supervision of district officers.

Social Organization
Formerly a village was an independent unit governed by a group of self-appointed aristocrats known as a-nyat, or elders. The rajah of Sarawak appointed one of them as headman, answerable to the district officer. Today the influence of the elders varies with local circumstances; their power is now primarily ceremonial, concerned with validating social mobility at weddings. The suppression of endemic tribal warfare by the rajah of Sarawak allowed people other than aristocrats to acquire wealth by planting sago gardens; the gradual introduction of a cash economy permitted commoners and even slaves to acquire wealth and make claim to higher rank and even enter the group of governing elders.

Political Organization
Village headmen today are minor magistrates and try certain civil suits in addition to collecting taxes. Criminal offenses are a matter for the district officer, native officers under him, and the police. Districts vary in size and, in coastal areas, are comprised of Iban and Malay people as well as Melanau. In addition to administrative services, the state government today provides schools, dispensaries, hospitals, land surveys, and various advisory services. It also maintains highways, canals, and bridges, and subsidizes mosques and churches.

Social Control
In villages social control is largely a matter of adat, or custom, supervised and administered by the headmen and elders. The Coastal Melanau Adat, an attempted codification of many village adats, is followed by headmen and elders in cases of family and personal dispute, short of homicide or criminal theft, but each village claims its own version of the adat and often does not adhere to the official codification. Social control, however, is maintained primarily by a value system that places a high premium on respect for seniority, rank, and the proper order of things as embodied in the adat, any violation of which entails civil penalties imposed by the elders and automatic supernatural penalties that can be averted only by correct reparation.

Conflict is usually seen as a disregard of proper respect, and children are brought up to avoid conflict at almost any cost.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Marriage & Family (Pesawa Jegum Tagan)

Although polygamous marriage, with the consent of the first wife, is permitted, it is very rare and usually leads to divorce. The population of a village is divided into aristocrats (a-menteri), commoners (a-bumi), and slaves (a-dipen). Ideally marriage should be with a second cousin (patrior matrilateral) within the same rank; but in small, politically independent communities the need for talent has always favored cross-rank marriages. The father of a bride is covertly permitted to choose the bride-wealth and rank he desires for his daughter through any line of descent. A wedding is the most important public occasion on which upward or downward mobility is recognized and validated. Theoretically, all first marriages are arranged by parents, but the wishes of the proposed partners are usually taken into consideration. Parents do not arrange second marriages. For a period after the wedding, uxorilocal residence is ideal, but economic advantage often overrides the ideal. One child, usually the youngest, is expected to remain with the parents. Divorce is by mutual consent, and property acquired since the marriage is divided equally.

There is no more marriage follow the rank has been practice in my village. However, there is still some arrangement marriage by parents.

Domestic Unit
People who cook and cater together are considered to be a family (tagan) ; but a household may consist of several separate catering and cooking units. Six or seven people constitute an average household.

After married sometimes the couple stay at the wife's family house before they leaving for their own life. Sometimes, they just stay with the family until the next generations get married. It is depends on the economy of the family.

Property is divided equally among surviving children and the offspring of any dead children. The former longhouse apartment or the contemporary house, in addition to a share of other property, is usually allotted to the child who remains with the parents. Gardens and orchards are divided as whole units and are not subdivided.

The equally divide is suppose to happen but it is a bad things when the parents dead before they divide their properties. So, this will lead to the quarreling amongst the children and i really hate the situation.

Infants and children are reared by both parents, by siblings, and by other household members. Physical punishment is very rare; it is regarded as a debased practice of the Chinese. Individual independence is highly valued, but not at the expense of custom and respect for elderly people.

When there is visitors visit the house, the children are not allowed to join the conversation. Only adults can join but now, we seems to ignore that and we just entertain any of visitors to our house. But still remain the politeness.

*Mun lian a nyat cerita saji debei kenah alu anik umit mengacau. Lian ko agei umit ko suka munguk dagen apah mak ko, petaah luni cerita jegum keman sepak. Tapi ko debei suka nyunyak ko debei, ako mesti nyabik wak ngak nyinyak mak. Lian a kawin pun mun lian a nyat surong berian suka kawak ko mipak. Bak peta'ah sau rudeng lien. Saie kawak ji adat bak miau singen dibei newarih gak lo anik wak agei muda.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Kinship (Pejanik)

Kin Groups and Descent 
Theoretically, descent is patrilineal in the allocation of rank, but is not used in the formation of groups. Three types of groups in which kinship is an important factor are found: (1) households made up of separately catering individual families, with occasional stem families (tegen); (2) sections of the modern ribbonlike villages largely consisting of relatives, and known as a-sega—a term also used for close relatives up to second cousin; and (3) ad hoc groups of kin assembled from both paternal and maternal lines of descent for specific tasks (e.g., weddings, funerals, trading expeditions).

Nowadays, the kinship is still strong in the village. However when the younger generations migarate to the town area because of works then it is difficullt to track back their family roots, unless thier parents or granparents still alive. Especially when it comes to the fifth generations.  

Kinship Terminology
Kin terms are bilateral, with one term, male and female alike, for each of five generations; but the individual family is lineally set apart from other kin. In some districts seniority and gender in the parental generation and in Ego's siblings are terminologically distinguished. Kin terms are given to all relatives up to the second cousins; relatives up to fifth cousin are recognized, but connections beyond are strangers. No term is used for the kindred.

There are several villages along Btg Igan and Btg Oya, most of the people in this area are connected with each family maybe because we have the same ancestors. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Making Of Sago (Menak Bulu)

I am not sure how to explain this in English but this is where the combination of sago starch, coconut milk, paddy dust that has been mixed up to be roasted. Oh my! I am not sure what is the ingredients that we use to make the sago (this is the other traditional food that we use to eat to replace rice).

As you can see, after the mix ingredients turn into small and round they move it on the oven (not sure what is this called in English, we called it "belanga"). It will roasted because of the hot temperature from the underneath.

This is the equipment that they use to make the mix ingredients into small and round size of sago.

Usually the family members (female) will help to makes sago. I was so unlucky because by the time i was born, my mom already stop making sago. She only bought it from Dalat and never makes any of it again. Maybe this is because there were no place to make it anymore. The small house that they use to make sago is not properly maintained and it was ruin by the bad weather. However, my elder brothers and sisters has an experienced with my mom and aunties making this sago. I only know how to eat and i really love to eat it with durians.'s delicious. :)

*Ako saji dibei penah alu pilak a menak bulu. Lian ako agei umit aluk kira debei ngak mereti angai beilah mak mengan ko mapun kedau a tuak kamei gak Kg. Tanam menak bulu. Saie atang kawak ko debei penah bak tao an tan gaya a menak bulu. Ko saji suka angai keman bulu buyak keman umit angai ngak natih lo mak keman bulu. Mula-mula ko tabui sekul jauk keman kubo sabei, mak selalu memiti bulu bak pingah ko. Tapi bila dibei sakai bak keman jegum ko, alulah ko pasad debei luk pepingah agei. Mun keman ramai-ramai, alu dao angai nyam...:)


Subsistence and Commercial Activities
Hunting and gathering, combined with the cultivation of sago gardens (normally about 4 acres in area) and the export of sago biscuit and forest products (gums, resins, rattan, timber) in exchange for metal goods, weapons, ceramics, and cloth traditionally formed the basis of the Melanau economy. The cultivation of sago gardens was supplemented by growing swamp rice (padai paya) and orchards on the levees of the rivers. Floods at the end of the northeast monsoon frequently ruined the rice crop, which could not be relied on for subsistence. Villages on the coast, where the water of the estuaries was too saline for extraction of flour from the sago palm, depended primarily on fishing and on the import and export trade.

This three main activities is still the main source of Melanau people in my village to survive in this new era, sago plantations, paddy field and orchards.

During the northeast monsoon, when access to the rivers was limited and fishing was dangerous, expeditions upriver from the coastal villages with dried fish, salt, nipa palm sugar, and craft products—palm-leaf thatch, mats, baskets, and hats—were undertaken to exchange these items for sago biscuit, fruit, canoes, and timber. A similar intrariverine trade for forest products and rice was also maintained with Iban settlements in the hills beyond the swamps. Traditionally sago biscuit was exported under the auspices of aristocratic leaders from both inland and coastal villages and of Malay traders from Brunei and elsewhere. With the foundation of Singapore in 1819 and the demand from the European and American cotton industry for cheap industrial starch, the nature of the sago-export trade altered. After the conquest of the coastal district by the rajah of Sarawak in 1861, Melanau and Malay carriers and traders were replaced by Chinese immigrants, who also entered into the production of flour to the extent that they were allowed. The government, however, did not permit the sale of land to immigrants; the primary production of flour remained in the hands of Melanau villagers until after World War II, when all production was mechanized and only the gardens remained in Melanau ownership. Even though the primary production of flour remained in the hands of the Melanau until then, by 1900 the economy had become dependent on the single cash crop, and extensive changes had occurred in the social system.

Sort of barter system was practice during the old days. I still remember where people from Igan will going upper river up to my village selling sago biscuits, fishes and sometimes we exchange it with our rice. We called it "tukar makan" means exchanging foods. Money is so difficult to get so we exchange foods item.

Division of Labor
Male tasks include clearing the forest and planting and maintaining sago gardens, felling the ripe palm and bringing the trunk to the villages, and stripping the bark off the segments into which the stem has been cut, before rasping the pith inside into a rough sawdust. The sawdust is given to the women to wash on a platform over the river. This rasped pith is placed on a fine-woven mat on the platform, mixed with water, and trampled by the women; the water with the flour in suspension is forced through the mat and a thin straining cloth onto draining boards leading to a trough below the platform, where the crude flour settles and surplus water is drawn away. The sale of this crude flour to a Chinese dealer is also the work of women. The proceeds of the sale are divided in various ways between the owner of the palm, the male feller, and the female trampler of the pith. This cottage industry, in which men and women controlled their own labor and profits, came to an end in the 1950s when Chinese dealers mechanized all aspects of the industry, except the growing and felling of palms. The Chinese dealer did not usually pay cash, but entered the transaction in his books and allowed goods to be bought on credit from his retail shop, thus ensuring that his clients could be kept at regular work and that he could supply his creditors with a regular and predictable supply of flour for export.

Until today we still sell our sago trees to the Chinese dealer which have their own mill. Only one family in Dalat have their own mill which is the only Melanau mill (i think so).

Because only Melanau are allowed to own sago land, only those with sago gardens now have any part in the production of sago. Many of the crops are mortgaged before they become mature. A large part of the male population is forced to leave the villages as migrant laborers in the lumber industry; others migrate permanently. Women are no longer economically independent.

Industrial Arts
In the cottage industry most of the necessary equipment was made locally or acquired through the intrariverine trade. Ironwork and weaving ceased with the advent of a cash economy at the end of the nineteenth century.

River is the main transportation in our area and until today we still use boats as our transport.

Land Tenure
Every village collectively owns a delimited territory that it was formerly ready to defend against all outsiders. Within that territory sago gardens and orchards, carefully delimited, are individually owned. Joint tenancy is possible, especially if a single garden is inherited by two women, for gardens are almost never subdivided. Such an arrangement is not thought satisfactory; other solutions are preferred.

Most of the land that people in my village have now is planted with sago and orchards. We doesn't practice shifting cultivation because we permanently plant sago and paddy in the same land area.

*Pabila ko pepikir balik, masa ako agei umit sabei saji ngadei tan kesusah bak mipih duit. Ako selalu jegum lo mak tubang balau, puma padai, puma balau, pekari, bejaja buak, sayor, pekebun...Saji macam-macem alu ji gaya bak pinyi duit, walaupun cuma kenaan duah telo rigit singen. Tapi rasa syukor angai kawak tan bila kenah mipih duit jumit. Sadik dao kawak gaya hidup lian ih ngak berubah aluk. Bei senang aluk tan agei walaupun aruh debei ngak labik kapong kamei.

Writing In English

My previous plan was to write in my mother tongue but then the knowledge can not be spread out and shared. So, i have decided to keep writing in Melanau language but only a few but will write more in English especially when it comes to information about my ethnic group, the MELANAU. I am happy if i can share more information about this small group of people. Even in Sarawak, the traditional Melanau is become smaller in numbers because of mix-marriage and the traditions is not pass down to the younger generations. I admit that me myself not knowing so much about my own culture and traditions.

So, i hope by doing some research online (articles and journals about Melanau) and looking back at my own people at my village then i can share more infromations about Melanau. Thanks for those who interested to know more about my ethnic group.