Central Kalimantan Province


The Ngaju

The Ngaju, the most known Barito Bayak, managed the creation of the province of Central Kalimantan. They speak different dialects of which the Kahayan has become the local dialect. Most Ngaju practice Kaharingan, or are converted to protestantism; only the Bakumpai Ngaju converted to islam over a century ago.

The branding longhouses of the Dayak are hard to find among the Ngaju. Their place is taken by communal rooms, in which meeting and rytes are held. The Ngaju belong to the best artists of Borneo. This reputation is shown in the ceremonial objects for the dead, like the wooden coffins, tombes, and sailboats and big statues.

The Ma'anyan

The Ma'anyan speak a language which is almost the same with that on Madagascar. There is a lot of speculation that their ancestors crossed the sea to Madagascar in the 3rd or 4th century. This would mean that the Ma'anyan lived more close to the beach than they do today.

The different Ma'anyan communities hold contact with each other and with the cities along the Barito by periodical markets. Their most important product for trade - nice canoos made out of one piece - are loved among the Banjarese.

During wars the Ma'anyan lived in family houses in pillars, which could be as high as seven meters. Many Ma'anyan practiced the Kaharingan religion. They know complicated rytes in combination with agriculture and funerals, bring sacrifices for spirits and ask a sjaman when someone has fallen ill. On their graveyard, you can see that the Ma'anyan used to be very layered: the bone-houses of the nobility are placed more upstream, followed to the ones of the warriors, the normal population and the slaves, most downstream.

Before a traditional marriage, the comming husband needs to work and live with the family for five years. This period can be shortened by payments to the coming mother-in-law. This is an extra on the bridal treasure, which consists of bronze drums, beads and money.

The Ot Danum

The Ot Danum (the name means upstream area) live in the area around the rivers north of the Ngaju and south of the Schwaner- and Müller Range, as well as the Melawi-beaken of West Kalimantan, which is located north of the Schwaner Range. Their area is three hundred km wide stretch of land just south of the equator. The Ngaju see the Ot Danum as their cultural ancestors, but there are remarkable differences between the two groups. The Ot Danum live in longhouses in pillars, two to five meters above the ground. This habit is probably taken from the Kenyah or Kayan.

The same with the headhunting, the mild form of social hierarchy and the images on shields and mandau lemmets. However the religion of the Ot Danum looks like that of the Ngaju (most of them still practice kaharingan), their ritual re-burials are more simple and their woodcarvings are less detailed.


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