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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Legend of the Kayan Borneo:Tale of Belawan Bureing.

"BELAWAN "Performance during Borneo Hornbill Festival 2011 at MATIC KL
For Keling (Male) Warrior Pageant Category.

Tale of  Belawan Bureing (Dayak Kayan mystical warrior) .This legendary half-man & half-deity  , a noble ruler with 11 wives, is dubbed the Hercules of Keliman River. He was the son of Belarik Ubong Do(the God of Thunder and Lightning)   

Inside a Kayan Long House, Borneo c1935
The tales of Belawan Bureing have entertained the Kayans of the Balui River in upper Rejang River in central Sarawak and enlivened their evenings for centuries.
The Balui River (LINK my last post)
Despite the blood and violence, the polygamy and back stabbing, the tales of Belawan Bureing ultimately centre around one universal theme - the triumph of good over evil.

Belawan Bureing was the theme of a play performed at the annual World Harvest Festival 2007.
The battle between Belawan Bureing and a young fighter Lidem Avang Kayo from longhouse Ida Avang, located along one of the tributaries of the Keliman River.

 Lidem Avang Kayo , jealous of Belawan Bureing’s fame, devised a plan to abduct the latter’s wives living in different villages with the pretence of bringing them out for a picnic.

His motive, of course, was to get Belawan Bureing out to search for his wives so that he would have the chance to challenge Belawan Bureing to a fight to show the latter how equally strong he was.

To protect himself,  Lidem Avang Kayo  wore magic armour of metal, which no knife could penetrate.


When Lidem Avang Kayo and his entourage arrived at Belawan Bureing’s longhouse to invite his 11th wife to join his other wives for the picnic, Belawan Bureing pretended to invite all of them to a lunch and entertain them with payu(wrestling) matches.
Payu(traditional kayan  wrestling)

While they were having a great time, Lidem and his men were suddenly attacked by Belawan Bureing’s women with knives which they had hidden in tapey kanen (rice wrapped in leaves) as instructed. Before long,   Lidem Avang Kayo found out that his men were all dead.
Kayan Dish:Tapey kanen (rice wrapped in leaves) 

Then alone, and not ready to surrender,   Lidem Avang Kayo  jumped up and challenged Belawan Bureing.

Realising that  Lidem Avang Kayo was protected by the magic armour, Belawan Bureing asked his father Belarik Ubong Do for help. Belarik poured down metal from the sky in a giant rice winnow but these were broken against Lidem’s suit.
Orang Ulu warrior costume(with suit of war)
When that failed,  Belarik Ubong Do sent a kabong – a cloth container in which suits of war are placed.

Belarik Ubong Do created fire in the container and Lidem Avang Kayo’s suit melted after he was captured in it.

When told the devastating news that Lidem Avang Kayo and his men were dead, Bua Benyi, a noble lady who was once married to Belawan Bureing and bore him two sons, offered to help as she knew of Belawan Bureing’s power to resurrect the dead.

Bua Benyi promised to return the magical tuvong anit kejurong (a beduk drum), a drinking glass which offers limitless tuak (home-brewed rice wine) and a container which has a bottomless supply of rice, to her former husband if he brought Lidem and his men back to life.

Tuak (home-brewed rice wine)

She took the three precious items from Belawan Bureing when he divorced her.

Very pleased to have his grandfather’s possessions brought back to him, Belawan Bureing pointed his metal knife to heaven, and asked his father for power to put life into the dead bodies.

In a flash of lighting and a loud clap of thunder, power from heaven went through the knife, which Belawan Bureing then placed on Lidem Avang Kayo and all the dead men. Slowly, they all came back to life.

Belawan Bureing’s wives, together with Lidem Avang Kayo ’s and Belawan Bureing’s men, then made peace with the mela (a prayer ceremony). Everybody rejoiced and celebrated as the play came to an end.

from Left:Berawan,Kelabit ,Lun Bawang.
(Orang Ulu category for Dayak Male
Warrior Pageant)in Sarawak during
Harvest Festival.
Source:The Star

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