Printer Friendly

Boundaries, territorial domains, and Kelabit customary practices: discovering the hidden landscape *.

Introduction

The landscape of a place is a historical record of the activities of past generations, "woven like a tapestry from the lives of its inhabitants" (Ingold 2000:15). Historical landmarks are often permanently carved into the physical landscape, evidenced by planted fruit trees, shelters that were built and rebuilt, established burial places, or by the erection of permanent monuments and artifacts. Long after footprints have ceased to be visible to the human eye, hidden histories and landscapes are indelibly etched in the memories of those who held ceremonies, participated in tribal expeditions and those who lived and toiled on the land. That knowledge is handed down to the descendants through stories and oral traditions, providing them not only with a link to the past but also a consciousness of their identity in relation to the land.

In this paper I look at the physical landscape of the area called the Kelabit Highlands and the influences that have shaped it. (2) Landscape is used as "evidence for origins" and evidence of "material culture" (Rowntree 1996) and as a backdrop to show the process of settlement and occupation of the highlands by the Kelabits. The description of patterns of Kelabit habitation, their agricultural, social and cultural practices, and the recording of their narratives and personal stories will provide not only a link to the places, but also an interpretation of the landscape. The marks of their occupation are etched in the physical landscape as they are in their oral traditions and customary practices, but as their traditional knowledge system collides with statutory legislation, there appears to be very little formal understanding or recognition of native concepts of place and boundaries with regard to land.

I propose to look at territorial boundaries through the customary practices of the Kelabits to reveal evidence of their exclusive occupation of their ancestral territory. The concept of the territorial domain of the bawang (village), and its significance in agricultural practices, hunting and fishing, and in the management of common resources within the Kelabit community will be discussed along with two closely related concepts, the apu' (meeting place) and the tung (dividing line) which play an important role in the conduct of inter-village as well as inter-tribal transactions. In relation to neighboring tribes, cultural evidence of Kelabit occupation of the land was characterized in the past by a unique stone megalithic culture that set the highlands apart as unmistakably inhabited by the Kelabits.

In the late 1990s, a number of agreements were signed between Kelabit leaders and their neighboring tribes. An integral part of those agreements are boundary maps drawn by the parties and later endorsed by state administrative officers. This introduces another dimension to the native claims to NCR in remote Sarawak. Living in an era when the struggle for control and access to customary resources has become increasingly difficult, the Kelabits have been compelled to translate their knowledge of the landscape through the medium of maps that can be understood by others, in an effort to make their right of place visible to the outside world, and as a means of self protection, negotiation, and empowerment. It raises the issue of the place of maps and mapmaking in a culture that not long ago knew only of mental maps. Almost, as it were, on the day of awakening to possible empowerment, they also discover that the law introduces an impediment in their path.

This paper thus examines the concept and power of maps. The question is: should "written" records be considered as an all-important "be all and end all" evidence and proof of occupation? As this paper will show, even maps have their limitations. It will be apparent that maps are neither exact nor entirely objective, for they are controlled by those who make them. Factors of history, oral traditions, cultural practices, permanent and semi-permanent marks on the physical landscape, all of which constitute records, must be taken into account in considering the question of the Kelabits' connection to and occupation of land--in this case, the Kelabit Highlands.

The Context: The Kelabits and the Kelabit Highlands

For generations the Kelabits have lived at the headwaters of the Baram River in their "secluded homelands" in the Kelabit Highlands (Southwell 1999). The plateau lies at the northeast corner of Sarawak and the northwest corner of Kalimantan in Central Borneo. This upland plain, well over 1,500 feet above sea level, forms a great bowl encircled by mountains rising to almost 8,000 feet, comprising Gunung Murud, (7,950 ft.), the highest mountain in Sarawak, Batu Lawi (6,703 ft.), Batu Iran, Bukit Merigong, Gunung Murud Kecil, and Gunung Melepe (6,556 ft.) (Murang 1998:1) (See Map 1). (3) It is bordered on the west by the Tamabu mountain range and on the east by the Apad Uwat" range. Valley areas of the highlands are approximately 1,000 meters above sea level with the mountain range crests around 2,000 meters. The plateau is the source of the upper tributaries of the great rivers like the Baram, Limbang, and Kerayan. Gorges and falls make the rivers impassable and access by road is very difficult (Southwell 1999:194).

The Kelabits have traversed the mountain ranges for centuries using established trails and footpaths between villages and it took many days to reach the nearest Kayan or Kenyah settlement at Lio Mato. (5) In the last few years, logging tracks have provided access to some areas. It was only in the early 1960s that regular access to the highlands by air was established. Today, Malaysia Airlines Rural Air Services run daily flights by Twin Otters into Bario. There are other airstrips at Long Peluan, Long Lellang, and Long Seridan serving the different regions in the highlands.

The main center of life in the Kelabit Highlands is Bario, a settlement which consists of eight villages. Bario Asal, or Lem Baa' (meaning, in the 'wet plain') was the original village in the Baa' valley. (6) Other villages were built in the early 1960s during the Indonesian Confrontation with Malaysia, when people were relocated by government authorities to the central region for security reasons. These are Arur Dalan, Arur Layun, Ulung Palang Dita' (Upper Ulung Palang, recently renamed Bued Mein "A"), Ulung Palang Benah, (Lower Ulung Palang or Bued Mein Baru "B"), Pa' Ramapoh Dita (Upper Pa' Ramapoh), Pa' Ramapoh Benah (Lower Pa' Ramapoh). Two new villages built in the last few years are Kampung Baru and Padang Pasir. Other Kelabit villages on the periphery of Bario include, on the northeast, the villages of Pa' Lungan, Pa' Umur, and Pa' Ukat and towards the south, Pa' Derung, Pa' Berang (for a time in the 1970s and 1980s settled by Penans), Pa' Mein and to the west of Bario the villages of Kubaan and Pa' Tik (with a Penan settlement). (See Map 2 for location of these Bario villages). In the south are Pa' Bengar (now not inhabited), Long Dano (also known as Pa' Mada), Pa' Dalih, Batu Patong, Ramudu, Long Peluan, Long Puak, and Long Banga. To the southwest on the upper Akah River is Long Lellang, and close to Mt. Mulu National Park are the villages of Long Seridan and Long Napir.

Bario has a primary and secondary school, a number of government offices including a medical center, immigration department, agriculture department, public works (water) department, police station, civil aviation office, and a Malaysian military base. As the commercial hub, Bario also supports a number of coffee shops and lodging houses, an assortment of retail shops, and since 2002, a tele-centre was set up under the E-Bario project. (7)

When the Indonesian Confrontation with Malaysia erupted in the 1960s, it resulted in the resettlement of the Kelabit population in the central part of the highlands in what is now Bario. The resettlement coupled with a growing monetary economy presented the threat of land scarcity, with the result that land boundaries now tend to be more carefully defined than in the past, and ancestral claims more vividly remembered and guarded. There is an increasing urgency to ascertain rights to customary land by proof of occupation and connection with the land. Amug (secondary jungle, formerly cultivated land) and other cultivated lands, planted trees and pulau or ulung (communal forest reserves), traditional burial grounds and former longhouse sites serve as tangible reminders of the past, historicizing each longhouse domain.

Like many Borneo societies, the Kelabits hold their lands under customary tenure based on native customary laws. This has often been referred to as a usufructuary right by numerous writers (Appell 1997, Cramb 1986, Ngidang 2000). A dictionary definition describes "usufruct" as "the right of temporary possession, use, or enjoyment of the advantages of property belonging to another, so far as may be had without causing danger or prejudice." (8) A usufructuary is one who enjoys the usufruct of a property, a mere right to use that land and its "fruit" or resources. The use of this nomenclature and approach disregards the possibility of possession acquired under common law which is a proprietary title akin to ownership. A usufructuary has often been called a mere licensee without any proprietary right to the property and this concept has been entrenched through formal land laws of the state. As the creation of native customary rights to land, or its acronym NCR, is defined and redefined in the Sarawak Land Code 1957, there is a clear clash between the Kelabit, and, for that matter, the general native notion of ownership, and ownership as it is envisaged in state legislation. This paper, however, does not purport to deal with the nature of NCR under the law nor with the question of whether that interest is a proprietary interest or not. These issues are best dealt with separately (see also Dimbab Ngidang's paper that follows in this volume of the BRB). On the other hand, part of my concern here is with Kelabit notions of communal and proprietary interests in land.

What is certain is that for generations the Kelabit occupation of the land has been to the exclusion of other parties, under a land tenure system whose rules are ascertained according to a customary legal system. Their interests in land are not fully documented and the boundaries are not surveyed nor precisely demarcated. Nonetheless, there is a keen sense of territorial space and boundaries woven into their customary practices and oral histories by which inter- and intra-community relations have been structured for centuries.

The Kelabit Bawang

The basic unit of the Kelabit community is the lubang ruma' (household). In this paper I take lubang ruma' to mean "household" rather than "family" to indicate the social and economic unit of the community for the simple reason that the Kelabit family can refer to an extended family system, whereas the household is the nuclear unit which typically consists of a husband, his wife, their children, and very often either or both of their parents and occasionally, younger unmarried siblings of either spouse. An aggregation of lubang ruma' makes up the bawang (village) which encompasses the physical structures of the ruma' kadang or ruma' rawir' (9) (longhouse) and the residents, or uwang bawang (lit., 'contents of the bawang'). It also encompasses the ruma' maun (old longhouse sites) and the agricultural domain of its occupants (Talla 1979:91).

The traditional ruma' kadang is divided into segments called tetak ruma', (10) each consisting of the tawa' (common corridor), tilung (bedrooms), and dalam (kitchen). Each tetak ruma' ordinarily has one tetal, i.e., hearth or fireplace, which is the place the family's food is prepared and cooked. Sometimes, however, a single tetak ruma' may have two tetals, signifying the presence of two lubang ruma' in one tetak ruma'. (11)

Each bawang is territorially discrete from other bawangs, and has its own demarcated territory separate from that of neighboring bawangs. Each has its own tana' bawang or village land, a concept which is similar to the Iban notion of menoa rumah (demarcated longhouse territory) and its pemakai menoa (lit., 'land to eat from'). (12)

The ruma' ma'un (old longhouse sites) as tana' bawang

In the past, longhouses were built and rebuilt several times in each generation, usually on a new site, close to the previous location. Rebuilding was often necessary because the wood used in construction could not withstand the tropical weather. The main posts of the longhouses were made of whole tree trunks which were embedded in the ground and were quickly affected by the tropical weather. In the olden days, the floor was made of tasag bulu' betong or split bamboo (Gigantochloa levis; Merr; poac). With better implements in the form of the uwai and bikung (metal adze) in the 1900s, bamboo floors were replaced by wooden planks made of kayu tumuh. The houses were by no means flimsy, otherwise a ceremony with the accompanying stomping and dancing such as the one described by R. S. Douglas on the occasion of the peace agreement between the Kelabits and the Kerayan people would not have been possible. At least 1,800 people were reported to have been on the verandah of Penghulu Balang Maran's house at Pa'Mein in 1911 (Douglas 1912).

Sina Bulan, this writer's mother, talks of how early longhouses in Pa' Umur were dismantled about every five years or so. The planks were either carried or made into rafts for transport down or upriver to the new site. Sometimes they relocated to new farming sites but at other times, as a precaution and protection against frequent tribal raids by the Kayans from the lowlands, or the Kerayans from over the Tamabo mountain range, they relocated to safer locations. At times, plagues, epidemics or sicknesses, usually of smallpox or cholera, forced them to move.

Before they turned to Christianity in the early 1940s, bad omens, fear of spirits and curses pronounced on the longhouse, or quarrels between residents caused whole villages to move or to split. It was common for them to return to earlier spots or river valleys when the threat had ceased. According to the oral histories that I have recorded from some areas, bawangs split and merged on occasion, and marriages occurred within strict hierarchical limits, which meant that families in the highlands were relationally interconnected according to rank across village lines.

In an attempt to trace their history, stories and movement around these old longhouse sites, I compare two main settlements, Lem Baa' and Pa' Umur. The former practiced a more sedentary form of farming, while the latter engaged in shifting cultivation. Lem Baa', which literally means 'in the wet' (i.e., plains) and presently called Bario Asal ('original Bario'), has practiced wet rice agriculture since 1900,13 while the residents of Pa' Umur were swidden farmers, who only started to cultivate wet rice in the mid 1960s. What were the motivations for migrations and movement within the highlands? Were they tied to land use or to general life circumstances? I will refer to the people of Lem Baa' as the Lun Lem Baa' and the Pa' Umur people as the Lun Pa' Umur--in Kelabit the word Lun literally means 'people of.'

Lem Baa' (Bario Asal)

The Kelabits in Lem Baa' (Bario Asal) were among the first to cultivate wet padi in the highlands. As early as 1889 it was reported that the wet plains and extensive peat swamps were cultivated using an advanced irrigation system, as the inhabitants moved successively through the valleys and the plain in Lem Baa'. (14) There are at least half a dozen valleys not inhabited within Kelabit memory that show clear evidence of previous extensive irrigation.15 A Kelabit writer, Lian-Saging, also reports that the Lun Lem Ba'a had for various reasons left their cultivated lands to farm afresh in new valleys, often later returning to those old sites to renew the cultivation of their farms. Since the implements for farming were a small beluing (a basic hoe) and wooden sticks, the farms were fairly small and were not as big as the present farms where irrigation methods have been improved and farming implements are far better.

Lian-Saging documented that his ancestors had lived in the Pa' Marariu valley for at least five generations, (16) basing his evidence on the fact that his father's (now in his 80s) father's father was a young man when R. S. Douglas (1912) came for the peace conference between the Kerayans (Kalimantan Muruts) and the Kelabits in 1911. He recorded the existence of 18 longhouse sites (17) which alternated between the valleys of Pa' Marariu and its tributaries, namely Pa' Ramapuh, Arur Laab and Arur Dalan, before they settled at the present longhouse site of Bario Asal in 1962. Built on an old airstrip that was constructed in 1953 (now in disuse), this longhouse still stands and remains inhabited as the oldest longhouse in the Kelabit Highlands.

One of the earliest longhouse sites in living memory was on the hill at Ulung Palang. This is remembered as the site of the first Kayan raid on Lem Baa'. This was followed by other longhouse sites at Ruma' Ma'un Nabang, Luun Puun, Ulung Palang (two longhouses were rebuilt on the same location), Ribpa' Taka, Tana' Rengung, Ruma' Pun Mengiung, Batu Mik, Turud Rawir Arur Telal, Arur Tegkang, Pa' Ramapuh Lem Ikup, Ngi Taka, Lem Budud, Long Arur Lutut, Abang Nukat, Pa' Derung, Long Arur Dalan, Long Arur Dalan (second longhouse) and Ruma' Kadang Bario (18) (see next page for Lian-Saging's sketch map).

The group of people who constituted a bawang changed at various times, occasionally splitting, then sometimes reuniting, at other times merging with another bawang. The Kayan raid at Ulung Palang forced some villagers to move to Pa' Brunut (in the Adang Valley and the Medihit River), but they returned to build another longhouse at Ribpa' Taka. Lian-Saging recorded a split and the consequent migration by some villagers from the longhouse at Arur Dalan to Pa' Mada, in the south, after a quarrel broke out between the villagers at Arur Dalan and Pa' Ramapuh. The splinter group later returned and they built a longhouse called Ruma' Pun Mengiung in Lem Baa'. The next house at Batu Mik was named after the batu, a big stone under which the longhouse arnik (goats) found shade. After a series of further relocations, an epidemic forced them to move from Pa' Ramapuh Lem Ikup to Ngi Taka. Part of their group went off to join relatives living in Pa' Mein, a village less than a day's walk away. Their descendants returned to Bario in the course of resettlement, encouraged and supported by the Malaysian government in 1963.

The story is often told that while at the longhouse site at Lem Budud, in a drunken brawl, a young man named Lawai (19) ran amok and killed a Murut man from Pa' Bawan (Kerayan) called Sigar Barah. Not only was this a penal offence under colonial law, the murder was a violation of an oath made by a Kelabit leader that his people would never again attack their enemies, the Lun Kerayan of Kalimantan. By the oath of bulung uku' taken 'by the tooth of a dog' concluded during a visit of R. S. Douglas in 1911, they had become blood brothers. (20) This was regarded as the most serious form of treaty-making among the inland tribal groups. After agreeing to the peace-making overture by Douglas, both parties had promised never to take each other's lives again, or the violators of that treaty would be cursed by plagues and terrible diseases. The murder was a breach of that treaty.

Fearing a backlash and revenge from the Lun Kerayan at Pa' Bawan, all except for six households under Balang Lipang's leadership (the brother of Lawai) fled to join relatives either at Kubaan or Pa' Umur, and others fled to Pa' Mein. The curse was said to have taken effect on the Lun Lem Baa'. One by one, the senior Kelabits of Lem Baa' died. Those who fled returned three years later to build another longhouse at Long Arur Pintumuh. Another wave of sickness resulted in at least two other relocations and they settled at Pa' Derung, and then at Long Arur Dalan. This was the location of the longhouse when Major Tom Harrisson parachuted into Bario in 1945 (Harrisson 1954). He led the "Z" Special Unit Allied Force formed to create an inland resistance against the Japanese Occupation. (21) By then the threat of tribal enemy raids had long ceased. They found freedom from fear of bad omens and spirits with conversion to Christianity about that time. One final relocation, in 1962, took them to the present site of Bario Asal.

Pa' Umur

Pa' Umur was a major settlement that practiced swidden farming. This settlement had at some point merged with the bawangs from Pa' Terap, and included the people that are at the present village at Pa'Ukat. Some of the people from Pa' Terap formed the village at Pa' Lungan.

Until the 1960s, Lun Pa' Umur had traditionally practiced swidden farming. They farmed the plains of Pa' Debpur (also called the Libbun River by Tom Harrisson (1954) and its tributaries, Pa' Umur, Pa' Ukat, Pa' Ramein, and Arur Pa' Tenga'ang. (22) Within the expanse of its bawang, the residents practiced a pioneer system of land use (cf. Cramb 1986:15-17) where virgin jungle was felled and cultivated, followed by a rotational fallow system. The pioneering household or its descendants had first right of claim over the amug, or secondary jungle, for later farm sites.

Each year the members of the longhouse agreed on which valley they would farm, moving successively into new areas, thereby creating a large area of cultivated land or amug (secondary forests). This meant that they had lived at a number of different longhouses and had occupied the river valleys where the longhouses were sited. Informants from Pa' Umur remember at least 19 previous longhouse sites, each named after the river system (pa' or arur) or the river confluence (lung), going back five or six generations. (23) In chronological order, longhouses were built at Lung Kerubat, Ruma' Pa' Ramein, Ruma' Maun Lem Pipit, Arur Teng Nudun, Ruma' Ma'un Lung Arur Rupan, Ruma' Maun Lem Patar, Ruma' Ngi Arur Geriperah, Pa' Semarang, Arur Mapung, Pa' Rarupan (Long Arur Bengkuir), Arur Batang Putul, Lung Nipat, Lung Teribah, Lung Arur Perambango, Lubung Lung Persengit, Pa' Ramein (the longhouse was rebuilt twice here), Lung Ramein, and then the present site at Pa' Umur.

It is said that one of the last Kayan raids against the Kelabits occurred at Lung Kerubat at a longhouse built on a hill overlooking Pa' Debpur. The village bridge was built at Buduk Butal. Anticipating the Kayan raid, the Kelabits cut the rattan ropes that tied the apir (bridge).When the Kayan warriors tried to cross the bridge, they all fell into the water with their spears and the Kelabits ambushed them. (24) The binatuh (burial ground) of the village was located at nearby Buduk Butal. (25) From this site, they moved to Pa' Ramein at Arur Talun, near the salt spring at Mein Keramut. Evidence of their hearth stones may still be seen today. At the next house at Ruma' Ma'un Lem Pipit, they began to make solid wood planks of tumuh in place of tesag (split bamboo). Nonetheless, the pillars which were made of tree trunks 8-9 inches in circumference suffered the usual decay and had to be replaced. New longhouses were built at four other consecutive sites, namely, Arur Teng Nudun, Long Arur Rupan, Lem Patar and Arur Geriperah.

At Arur Geriperah, a splinter group left to go to Pa' Ukat while the remnant went to Pa' Semerang where they built two longhouses. Up until that time, the bawang was comprised of Lun Pa' Terap and Lun Pa' Umur. Together they moved to Arur Mapung. There was an outbreak of a cholera epidemic, so the people from Pa' Terap decided to leave to form a new bawang at Pa' Lungan. (26) A very small group went back to Pa' Terap, but soon rejoined those at Pa' Lungan. The remnant in Pa' Umur moved to build another house at Lung Arur Petebpung where they farmed the land along the Lung Pa' Tebpung and the valley of Ra'an Berua'. They then moved to Long Arur Rupan and on to Arur Batang. At the latter, four people were struck and killed by lightning forcing the others to move to Long Nipat to escape "the bad luck."

At Long Nipat, the splinter group that had gone to Pa' Ukat rejoined them. Together they lived and farmed along the tributaries of Pa' Umur, namely the Lung Pa' Teribah and Lung Arur Perambango. (27) During the Japanese occupation, they were at Lubung Lung Persengit before returning to Lung Ramein, at the old longhouse site. Reestablishment of residence at Lung Ramein meant they had gone one full circle. That was in the late 1940s and early 1950s. They rebuilt their longhouse twice at this site. There were reportedly at least 40 lubang ruma' here. As a result of a misunderstanding, once again a splinter group comprising a third of the village decided to move to Pa' Ukat to join new settlers who for security reasons had just moved from Long Rebpun to a village close to the Malaysian-Indonesian border. That was in 1962, shortly before the formation of Malaysia and the outbreak of Indonesian Confrontation with Malaysia.

Manifestation of the Territorial Domain of the Bawang

Although the villages moved successively through the valleys in their tana' bawang, they did not haphazardly move into territories which were traditionally occupied and farmed by other bawangs. No bawang encroached upon another's territory without informing the leaders of that bawang. This was clearly the practice in farming and to a certain extent in fishing rights. Boundaries between the bawangs were observed, marked by rivers, ridge tops, or valleys.

Farming Practices

Sina Napong Aran tells of a particular year when people in Pa' Umur had built their longhouse at Lung Arur Perambango in the Pa' Umur Valley. A bad drought (da 'at laaken) in Pa'Umur forced them to move to Pa' Duan, a river system within the Pa' Mein bawang. This was an area at Ra'an Berangad, (28) the place traditionally acknowledged as the erang bawang (boundary) between Pa' Umur and Pa' Mein. The Pa' Umur headman Belaan Iyu paid one belanai ma 'un (the most expensive ancient jar) to Tekapan Raja, the Pa' Mein headman, for the "use" of the land for one year. It was said that there had been some deaths in the territory (Pa' Du'an Valley) as a result of an enemy raid. The belanai was required as a dawi or pegka, a traditional payment of restitution or propitiation for blood "spilt" on the land, marking it as Pa' Mein territory. (29) Lun Pa' Umur made the payment, farmed the land, and after the harvest they carried the produce back to their own bawang territory.

Another example of the observance of the territorial bawang is related by Bala Pelaba of Pa'Umur. (30) When one Balang Peratu, also known as Pun Mengiung, and his people passed through Pa' Umur enroute to Lem Baa', he asked for permission from Pun Ram of Pa' Umur for his people to stop and farm land in Pa' Umur. (31) Pun Mengiung built a lubung (temporary longhouse) and planted many fruit trees at Rebaruh Belaban, along Pa' Debpur (across the river from the present site of the Pa' Umur longhouse). When Pun Mengiung proceeded on to Lem Baa', Pun Ratu gave him a gumut in exchange for the rights to the trees and the fruits. A gumut is the second-most expensive ancient jar after the belanai ma 'un used by the Kelabits in trading exchanges.

Hunting and Fishing

Hunting: The Kelabits were among the most energetic and skillful jungle hunters in Borneo because they "cannot easily get abundant protein from adjacent waters, and must look to the land" (Harrisson 1950:274). In the past, their implements were only blowpipes and spears, but today hunters use shotguns. Hunting techniques, as described by Talla (1979), included ngarunut (to shake a tree which was the home of an animal, e.g., a rodent, until the animal fell to the ground from exhaustion); and ngabang (to hold vigil and ambush) which was usually done at a rupan (salt lick), or a ranuwang (a trail frequented by the animal), or a taran (a place where there were fruits which animals ate). In each case, the hunters waited for the animals to appear, being careful to be downwind, lest the wind carry the hunter's scent. Hunters also muit uku' (hunted with the assistance of dogs) (Talla 1979:392).

Subject to precautionary measures that hunters should warn or make their presence known to other hunters, hunting appears to have transcended village boundaries and was not restricted to the tana' bawang. (32)

Fishing: Fishing, particularly tuba fishing, was done respecting the territorial rights of the bawang. Under the Tuba Fishing Order, the Brookes allowed tuba fishing by the natives. It is a practice allowed to continue today, subject to a permit from the Resident. Tuba root fishing required the involvement of the whole bawang. It was often made into a celebration of sorts and was a matter of prestige and other bawang were always invited to join in the fish harvest. (33) The person who initiated the tuba fishing was the host. He and his family provided the tuba roots and the food, rice, borak (rice wine), and perhaps slaughtered an animal as food for the whole village and their guests.

One of the last major tuba fishing events carried out in the Pa' Depbur was initiated by Bala Pelaba in 1957. Other villages were invited to participate in the tuba fishing. As was customarily required of the host, Bala Pelaba and his family provided the tuba roots and the rice required to feed the people. Shelters were built along the river where tuba roots were beaten and the sap was allowed to flow into the river. Patun batuh (stone walls) were built in the river to trap any fish that swam upriver to escape the effect of the lethal sap. As the tuba began to take effect, it was customary for the men to dive around the patun batuh to catch the fish. They would present the biggest fish to the host first, before proceeding to catch fish for themselves. The host would later feed the whole community with the catch.

Tuba fishing was primarily done in villages located along the major rivers like the Pa' Debpur, Pa' Kelapang, Pa' Mein, and Pa' Umur. Any tuba fishing in the smaller rivers such as the Pa' Marariu and others was done at the level of the local village. Penghulu Henry Jalla related how in a major tuba expedition at Pa' Kelapang in the 1940s by the villages of Pa' Dalih and Batu Patung, the fish swam upriver to Pa' Madi'it and the village of Pa' Bengar. The headman of Pa' Bengar consulted Tama Laai, the headman of Batu Patung, as to whether they could capitalize on the nubah and catch the fish that came up to their territory for themselves. Tama Laai replied that the fish that swam upriver to Pa' Dalih belonged to that village and those that swam further up to Pa' Bengar were rightfully theirs.

Tree Tenure and Forest Produce

Trees: The Kelabits practiced a form of tree tenure, similar to that practiced by the Ibans as described by Cramb (1986:17) and Sather (1990:31). Rights to planted trees belong exclusively to the planter's household. In the wild, the first person to find a fruit tree or tree for timber may claim it by cleaning the undergrowth around its base and placing an etu ('mark') on the tree which establishes exclusive rights over the tree on behalf of the finder's household. He may pass this right to his descendants by public declaration. The traditional, and still used, etu (mark) is in the form of an a 'ud, a main stem with a branch put perpendicular to it. Another mark could be in the form of an epang, where two sticks are inserted in the form of a cross at the foot of the tree. Both these marks signify a claim by a person. A mark with four sticks intertwined together to form a square means that the tree is reserved for communal use. Today it is common to have villagers point out certain tumuh (timber trees) which have been marked with an epang and so "kept" for the use of a particular household. In Pa' Lungan for instance, a certain area where many tumuh trees are growing has been fenced by the village as a reserve for the community's use.

The use of the etu or epang to signify a claim was, and still is, taken very seriously. Lian-Saging (1977:98), for example, related an incident where Balang Rira, the father of Tepun Bawang (34) and an ancestor of Lian, laid claim to a cluster of kenangan, or wild sago palms, on a hill at Pa' Marariu where his longhouse stood. The leaves of the kenangan were used for roof thatch, the pith of the young palm shoots could be eaten as a vegetable, and should the rice harvest fail, the pith of a mature palm could provide sago starch or flour. (35) When it happened that an anak katu (ordinary member of the longhouse) named Oyau Tapu'an took some of the palm shoots for a vegetable without asking permission, Tepun Bawang speared Oyau's thigh to show his displeasure and to assert his claim.

Forest Produce: Gathering forest products like rattan, resin, and wood for house or boat construction as well as for firewood was done within the territorial domain of the bawang. In contrast to the Saribas Iban practice reported by Sather (1990) in which an individual may claim ownership of a tapang tree (koompassia excelsia) and the original finder's descendant may inherit the right to use it, (36) the taking of honey by the Kelabits from tapang trees is a communal venture. Among the Kelabits no individual may claim an exclusive right to a tapang tree in which is found buah tikan umung, or a collection of beehives, in one area or on one tree. A bawang has prior rights over honey found in its vicinity or within the tana' bawang, and the honey is to be collected by the whole village. This involves the men of the village climbing and torching the trees on a moonless night, driving the bees out of the nest using smoke torches, and then collecting the honey and larvae. Another village has access only if the village with prior rights invites or gives consent for them to participate. In contrast, a buah tikan runut (a lone or single beehive) may be taken by whomever finds it.

The rule appears to be founded on the necessity of cooperative labor for the task of honey collection. It is also for the preservation and protection of the bees, as much as a means of fair distribution of a common resource. In the division of the honey and edible u 'at (larvae), a widow's household will be given the same share as the rest of the households, even if no member of her household participated in the collection of the honey.

Similar to Land Dayak (Bidayuh) families who may claim rights to own wild engkabang trees, a Kelabit household may have an individual claim over damar putih (agathis) trees, for the natang (resin or damar). A family who first discovered and marked the tree with the recognized etu or epang could own heritable rights to the trees. The damar was useful in the past not only as fuel and a sealant for wood, but also as a trading commodity.

Salt Production: The Kelabits produce their own iodine-rich salt through a process of evaporation of salt water from salt springs in the highlands. (37) This requires the boiling of brine in cauldrons for days using a continuous wood fire. When the water has evaporated, leaving a sediment of salt-crystals in the cauldron, the semi-liquid is poured into bamboo containers (of various sizes), which are open at the top and bored at the bottom to drain away excess water. The bamboo containing the salt is then baked in the fire and when it is completely dry, the dry stick of salt is taken out, its size corresponding to that of the bamboo, and wrapped in leaves for storage. (38) These yield fine grains of white or sometimes ash colored organic salt. This salt was one of the Kelabits' main items of trade with the lowland Kayans and Kenyahs. (39)

Mein (salt springs) that are frequently used are located at Pa' Mein, Pa' Umur, Pa' Bengar, Pa' Dalih, and in Long Peluan (Long Senibong). Each of these sources consists of multiple small springs. While these salt springs are available to any Kelabit to produce salt, a salt spring remains the common property of the community, subject to the control of the village in the vicinity within whose tana' bawang it is located. A person who intends to use the mein (salt spring) should let the headman of the host bawang know of his intention and ask for permission to take firewood from the jungle within the bawang.

In the past, the construction of a wooden "well" for the salt spring was done by influential families--as a matter of prestige. (40) Large hollow trunks of wood were used to reach the stone base to create the well. Today, the wells at both Mein Keramut in Pa' Umur and Mein Rayeh in Pa' Mein have been constructed with cement and the cauldrons are of stainless steel, courtesy of Sarawak Shell Bhd.

Inter-Bawang Boundaries: Function of the Tung and Apu'

Two notions associated with the boundaries between different Kelabit bawangs are tung and apu'. Talla (1979:91) suggests that the tung delimits the political and economic boundaries of a bawang, equating tung with the erang tana', or boundary lines, between villages. All economic pursuits are carried out by bawang members within the tung. Tung boundaries are often marked by or coincide with mountain ranges, ridge tops, rivers, or other natural features, such as an ulung, or 'island,' of virgin jungle left untouched to serve as a reserve and boundary. Closely linked to the concept of tung is that of apu'.

The apu' (meeting point) was where exchanges or trading transactions took place. When, for instance, there was an irau (a child-naming feast ceremony) or as in pre-Christian days, a burak are (a ceremony to commemorate the final burial rites for a deceased person), animals or other items given as contributions towards the feast were sent by a visiting bawang to the host. The villagers met at an established meeting point which was midway between the two bawang, with the recipients of the girls meeting the donors halfway. Similarly, in an exchange of goods in trade, the carriers of the goods met to exchange the goods at the apu, ensuring that both parties would bear the task of carrying the load equally.

The importance attached to the apu is illustrated by an incident when some Lun Lem Baa' were to have met a group from Pa' Dalih for a transaction at the agreed apu'. When the latter arrived late at the apu', a leading member of the waiting party from Lem Baa' was incensed. They would not go beyond the agreed apu' and the excessive delay on the part of the other village was seen as a breach of the understanding to meet at the halfway point. To show his displeasure, the leader of the waiting party threatened to tie up the limbs of the other party's leader with ropes and would have done so had he not been forcefully restrained. (41)

In times when a village was afflicted with disease, an arch called a berarau made of vines and leaves was erected at the apu as a signal to warn people of the next village not to cross into the territory of the next bawang lest they be infected with the disease. The story is told about the village of Paririman (near Pa' Mein) where the whole village was wiped out by an epidemic sometime around 1912. To contain the disease, a number of berarau were erected at the apu between Paririmen and nearby villages to warn people against visiting and contracting the disease. (42)

All informants are unanimous on the concept of the apu' being the halfway point between the two bawang. In many instances it coincided with the tung, blurring the distinction between tung and apu'. Some informants who argue that tung is different from apu' opine that since there were many different sites of longhouses within the tana' bawang, the apu' may have shifted accordingly. (43) Disagreements over the actual location on the tung arise because over time, longhouse sites were sometimes moved. For instance, between Bario Asal (Lem Baa') and Pa' Umur, lun Bario Asal claim that the tung between the two bawang is at Ra'an Berua', a valley about an hour and a half walk beyond both the present and previous longhouse sites at Pa' Umur. Lun Pa' Umur, however, claim that the tung is at Ra'an Tung Bera which today is about an hour's walk from the site of the Bario Asal longhouse and about an hour's walk from Pa' Umur.

The discrepancy stems from the basis on which the claim is made--based on the traditional halfway meeting point where exchanges were made, as in Ra'an Tung Bera, the other purportedly based on boundaries demarcated by the British colonial administrators. (44) Lun Bario Asal claim a colonial officer had declared Ra'an Berua' to be the village boundary, a claim refuted by Lun Pa' Umur on grounds that their late headman Balla Ngimat had never acknowledged, known of, or been notified of such an administrative decision concerning the boundary. Lun Pa' Umur also maintain that their ancestors, and they themselves, many of whom are now in their 70s, farmed Ra'an Berua' when their longhouse was at Pa' Tebpung. They argue that the area had traditionally been occupied by their ancestors, and it could therefore have been neither an apu 'nor a tung.

Lun Pa' Umur maintain that the midway point between the two villages had traditionally been at Ra'an Tung Bera. They point to a transaction that is said to have taken place between Lun Pa' Umur and Lun Lem Baa' (as it was known then) in which Lun Pa' Umur delivered bera (husked rice) in exchange for a belanai jar from Lun Lem Baa'. The exchange was carried out at Ra'an Tung Bera, which is aptly named after that transaction. Sina Napong Aran (also known as Baken Ayu) says that the jar, which was given by the late Penghulu Lawai in that exchange, is still in her possession. (45) Another instance, quoted both by Sina Napong Aran and Maran Ayu' (46) is that when Tama Bulan (47) and his family moved back to Lem Baa' in 1960, the villagers from Pa' Umur carried some of their chattels and household goods up to Ra'an Tung Bera where they were met by Lun Lem Baa'. (48)

The tung and apu' are concepts indigenous to the Kelabits and as was generally the practice in Sarawak, demarcations by the colonial administrators would have followed the local practice, based on communal or tribal boundaries. With few exceptions, (49) informants are basically in agreement that the tung is equivalent to the erang bawang. Traditionally, up to the 1950s the tung bawang were as listed below: (50)
 Name of bawang Erang bawang

Between: Bario Asal and Kubaan Ra'an Kinidan (Long
 Semirang)
 Bario Asal and Pa' Lungan Ra'an Sinapur
 Bario Asal and Pa' Mein Ra'an Ngaba / Ra'an Buduk
 Batuh (51)
 Bario Asal and Pa'Umur Batu Libuh (near Ra an Tung
 Bera) / Ra'an Berua' (52)
 Bario Asal and Pa'Ukat Pa'Puak
 Kubaan and Long Lellang Long Labid
 Kubaan and Pa'Tik Ra'an Barat Utap
 Kubaan and Seridan Leop Kayuh Bukung & Lepo
 Kayan
 Kubaan and Lio Buyo Gitaan Tatib
 Pa' Lungan and Pa' Kabak Ra'an Abang Bulu'
 Pa' Lungan and Pa' Umur Ruma' Maun Teluh (53) /
 Long Tengaang (54)
 Pa' Mada and Pa' Bengar Long Serepan
 Pa' Mada and Pa' Dalih Long Ritan / Batu Lem Ale
 Pa' Tik and Long Lellang Long Labid / Raan Bui
 Pa' Umur and Pa' Mein Ra'an Berangad
 Pa' Dalih and Pa Bengar Ra'an Pebemnen
 Pa' Mein and Long Dano (Pa'Mada) Long Bada (55)
 Pa' Mein and Pa' Bengar Ra'an Tuduk Uku'
 Pa' Mada and Ramudu Ra'an Terap (56) / Buduk
 Idtung
 Pa' Dalih and Batu Patung Ra'an Paad
 Ramudu and Batu Patung Buduk Isung
 Ramudu and Long Peluan Lepo Ukan / Kawang Tuan
 Batu Pamng and Long Peluan Kawang Tuan (Apad Riku')


These boundaries appear to follow frequently trodden routes and are mainly in ra 'an (valleys on ridge tops). Since the population resettlement in Bario during the Malaysian Indonesian Confrontation when villages were located in a central location, changes occurred in modes of transactions and social interactions such that the tung and apu' have not featured much in Kelabit everyday transactions. It is interesting though to note that in 1963 at the outbreak of the Confrontation, when new villages were moved to Bario and new areas had to be created for them, the boundaries between villages were based on the traditional boundaries. The tung appeared to have been used by Haddock Wilson in determining village boundaries. For instance, when land in Pa' Ukat was given to Tama Long and his people who had been moved from Long Rebpun (close to the Malaysian-Indonesian border), Wilson sought the opinion of Tapan Ulun, the headman of Pa' Umor, in acknowledgement that the area was land which was within the territorial boundaries of his bawang and which had traditionally been farmed by people from Pa' Umur. Tapan Ulun agreed to let the new settlers live there. (57) It may also be noted that many of those who moved to Pa' Ukat were originally from Pa' Umur.

Inter-Tribal Boundaries

The early writings of colonial administrators recognized clear areas inhabited by indigenous ethnic groups. For instance, a map drawn by R. S. Douglas (1907:57) showed the territories settled by the Kayans, Kelabits, Kenyahs, and Penans. These territories generally followed natural features such as rivers, mountain ranges, ridge tops, or gorges. The Merigong Gorge, for instance, was said to form a natural boundary between the Kayans and Kelabits in the Akah, the latter "believed to have lived on the upriver side of the gorge for centuries" (Southwell 1999:298). Harrisson also referred to the headwaters of the Akah as "on the border of the Kelabit country" (Harrisson 1959:113).

Apart from the natural physical features that were used as boundary points, government administrative forts later became boundary markers for the various tribes. The Brooke administration established control by building forts at the trading centers located at the mouths of rivers to collect duties on riverine trade as well as to collect taxes from the local populace. (58) One such fort was Lio Mato which not only symbolized British sovereignty and protection over the Kelabit and Badang areas, but was the place where all the Kelabit, Badang, and Saban chiefs paid their taxes. Present-day Kelabits talk about this fort as one that was built by Kelabits which they say indicates the extent of Kelabit territory. (59) Bala (2002:24) suggests that Pa Labid, now uninhabited, was a meeting point between Kelabits, Kayans, and Kenyahs where salt, resin, rattan, ceramic bowls, and beads were traded. Since this was the most remote outpost in Kayan/Kenyah country, this was seen as an outermost boundary point between the Kelabits and other groups.

Cultural Landscape: Kelabit Megalithic Stone Culture

The making of Kelabit cultural landmarks on the landscape clothe it with distinctive characteristics of Kelabit habitation and set these landscapes apart from those of other native groups. One of the most distinctive marks of Kelabit settlement and occupation of the land were their unique megalithic stone constructions associated with burial rites. Edward Banks, curator of the Sarawak Museum, noted that the numerous megalithic remains that he found in the Kelabit Highlands were definitely of Kelabit origin. (60) When Tom Harrisson mounted an expedition to Mt. Batu Lawi (6,600 ft) in 1946, he noted that the only signs of previous human life and habitation were the megaliths by the Tabun River, which he took to be an indication that the Kelabits had once inhabited the area. Earlier travelers like Moulton also wrote of the presence of burial urns similar to those used by the Kelabits in the rest of the highlands (J. C. Moulton 1912:1-7).

The Kelabit megalithic stone culture which was associated with burial rites appears to be unique to them and to closely related groups in Sabah and East Kalimantan. There are, of course, archaeological and ethnographic examples of stone monuments from Assam to Luzon and out into eastern Indonesia, and there are some uncertain parallels with the stone culture in Java and West Sumatra. It appears, however, that Kelabit stone working, though linked to other cultures, was an isolated tradition with its own peculiarities. (61) Ketabit megaliths do not appear to have any incised patterns, while stone works found in other areas take the form of pole-like monuments, (62) or sculpture of human figures of an origin unknown to today's population. (63)

Harrisson (1962: 376-83) compared what was known of the megaliths in the Kelabit Uplands with those found in Malacca and Negri Sembilan and concluded that "they could quite well have been erected...as a similar integral part of a similar general culture." However, on the island of Borneo, no other known megalithic culture in the ancient or recent past is identical to that of the Kelabit, apart from that of the Lun Kerayans and Berians in Kalimantan who are of the same stock. The Lun Bawangs in Sarawak, however, do not appear to have practiced the same megalithic culture.

As a mark of respect for their parents or other elderly persons, notable or upper class families gave huge feasts in honor of their parents. This might be done while the parents were still alive, but primarily it was done after their deaths. On such occasions an individual or families erected or carved rocks, monoliths, stone "tables," "seats," dolmens, and bridges in memory of the dead. They also constructed slab graves, "forts," and deep stone burial urns into which the bones of the dead were put (Harrisson 1954). In burial customs that were different from the neighboring lowland tribes, the Kelabits practiced a form of primary and secondary burial (Lian-Saging 1977:145-147, Chong 1954:187). Another group that practiced secondary burial of the dead, but without a megalithic component, were the Berawans, a group related to the Kelabits (see Metcalf 1981).

During the primary burial, an earthen jar would be used as a coffin. The jar was broken off at about three-quarters of its height below the neck, and the corpse was placed in the jar in a foetal-like sitting position with hands clasped on the chest. The jar was then covered with the broken-off top quarter and secured with rattan strips. A hole was pierced in the bottom of the jar and connected to a giant bamboo which was put into the ground to drain the liquids from the decomposing body. Some aristocratic families also used a lungun, an elaborately made wooden coffin, sometimes carved with designs, which was mounted on poles. In the olden days this was kept in the family apartment within the longhouse, but in the late 1930s and early 1940s, after ten days, it was removed some distance away to a separate hut or extension but within the borders of the longhouse. Perhaps this practice of keeping the body for so great a length of time was to buy time to accumulate a sufficient amount of rice for nuba (cooked rice) and burak (rice wine) to feed the whole community, as much as a show of remorse and grief.

After a year or so, a secondary burial was held and the bones were laid in the communal binatuh, the permanent burial place. Traditionally, a person's bones would always be brough t back to his place of origin or birth. This would be done at an elaborate borak ate (lit., death wine-feast) given by the family of the deceased. The level of grandiosity and importance attached to these feasts and the ostentatious sacrifices of labor and wealth expended caused Edward Banks to remark: "I believe that the Kelabits greatest joy is mourning and burying his own and other people's relations" (1937:429).

Lasting for about four or five days with as many as 500 invited guests, the only manifest and organized activity was the removal of the bones from the jar-coffin into a dolmen, vat, or large jar (the latter often of a dragon design) for the permanent burial. This removal might be accompanied by the erection of a stone monument, ostensibly in loving memory and tribute to the dead, but no less to demonstrate the family's social status.

Harrisson referred to this as "semi permanent recording by funerary memorial." He noted that there were three common forms of this practice. The first was the erection of a monument in stone called the batu sinuped. This could be a single stone slab or menhir, or a bridge. It could be a perupun where a number of stone slabs were placed on top of each other as a table, or a conical shaped mound. Heirlooms might or might not have been buried together with the body in the perupun. (64) Capstones might have been mounted on stone legs called batu pelukong, or dolmens. (65) The stones were perhaps quarried from elsewhere, then carried and erected at the chosen spot.

Second, memorialization might have taken the form of cutting a clearing through virgin forest on a mountain ridge, often on the most difficult, isolated and distinctive peaks that could be seen from miles around. This was called a kawang.

Third, it might have involved construction of a canal in the ground or even a ditch across a ridge tract called a nabang, either to divert the course of a river, to reclaim a large meander as arable land, or to redirect the flow of water. (66) This often resulted in the formation of a lake which was named after the man who sponsored the feast. One such lake is Taka Kara'e', named after Pun Kara'e', and another called Taka Pun Ratu named after Pun Ratu who created a nabang there.

Outside the main highlands, for example, in Long Lellang, the local practice was the creation of a lega, a large wooden platform built specifically for the slaughter of animals killed to feed the guests at a death feast ceremony. All transactions had to be performed on that lega. Although it did not leave a permanent landmark, the lega served the same purpose as the other monuments. There is evidence of nabang, kawang, and batu sinuped found in the area which were erected by people who came from the northern and central highlands to marry in Long Lellang. (67)

Many of the stone monuments that exist today have a known history, and their creators are known. Others, whose creator is unknown, are said to have been erected by the legendary Seluyah or Tokid Rini (see Labang 1958).

Harrisson (1958) suggested a connection between these three forms, for instance, instead of elevating an upright menhir, one could have placed a bridge across a ditch, or any of those combinations. Clear evidence of this is found at a site in Pa' Berang which the writer visited in November 2002. As Harrisson noted, there was flexibility in the forms these monuments took. Clearly made to commemorate the dead, on rare occasions they commemorated the lives of parents who were still living. Harrisson attempted to explain the intent of these expressions as a reassurance to the spirit that everyone back in the highlands was right behind her or him, or that a "path" or "ditch" be interpreted as a path of spirit egress. Although always accompanied by some form of ceremony, this writer's view is that the Kelabits themselves did not seem to have attached much spiritual significance to these stone monuments apart from their being a mark of respect, in memory or in honor of a loved one, otherwise it would have been imperative for every family to do it. Only persons of means could afford to, and only those who commanded the respect of the community (so as to gamer cooperative labor) could embark on such a major undertaking. The higher the status of the person to be commemorated, or the more influential the family, the bigger the feast or the more difficult the task, requiring the whole community to provide the necessary labor. There appears to be no connection with notions of life after death or increasing human fertility, as suggested by Heine-Geldern and Fleming (1963) for other megalithic complexes.

Interestingly, the erection of monuments among the Kelabits was not restricted to honoring the relationship of a parent and child. It could be for a husband or close relative who had died, or it could even be in honor of a parent who was still alive. Sina Bala Ngimet, (68) now 80 years old, related how in her lifetime she had undertaken these ceremonies seven times. Her first was accompanied by the making of a nabang in memory of her deceased first husband, Akun. This was followed by the creation of another nabang in memory of her first husband's mother. When she remarried, together with her husband Bala Ngimet (also known as Tapan Ulun), they held a number of other feasts accompanied by the erection of monuments.

A nabang was made in honor of Sina Bala Ngimet's mother, Pun Uwad, who at that time was still alive. That was a feast to nunang (honor a parent who was still alive) her mother, an occasion which was not any less significant than a death feast. Another feast was given in honor of the husband's deceased mother Pun Bura', and another feast in memory of Laba Ayu, her husband's deceased father, and on both occasions, a nabang ditch was created. The last feast she gave was in honor of Belaan Iyu, Sina Balang Imat's deceased father, upon which occasion they erected a single batu sinuped menhir about seven feet high. That menhir was an upright stone they had found in the plains at Long Nipat, and could have been formerly erected by an unknown person of old. It was uprooted and re-erected at the present site at Ruma' Maun Long Mein. In another instance, Sina Bala Ngimet and her husband Bala Ngimet also erected a single menhir in honor of her husband's father's brother. The latter had no child of his own and no heir to hold such a ceremony for him. In the process, Bala Ngimet inherited the valuable ancient jar that belonged to his uncle. Today that jar has been inherited by Bala Ngimet's eldest daughter. The commemoration of the life or death of someone without an heir by a close relative was a common way of inheriting their property and keeping the property within the family.

Another example of this practice was in the case of Semera Langit's (SM) daughters. SM had four daughters. His brother Tadem Ribuh had no surviving children. SM gave a feast and created a kawang in Lem Baa' (Bario) in honor of Tadem Ribuh, and thus was entitled to take over the belanai ma "un (ancient jar) that Tadem had inherited as elder son of their father. Since SM's eldest daughter already owned SM's family belanai (jar), Tadem Ribuh's jar became the inheritance of SM's second daughter, Sina Kapong Raja. (69)

Expensive burial rights remained a feature of Kelabit life until they turned to Christianity in the mid 1940s when expensive and unhygienic death rites were abandoned in favor of simple funerals. They then transformed the practice of creating nabangs into creating a bakut, which was essentially the digging of drains to create wide laterite roads for use by the public. A bakut was no less prestigious than any other form of commemoration. Instead of creating further landmarks on the land, Kelabit leaders like Aren Tuan of Pa' Lungan suggested that all efforts ought to be directed at diverting and straightening the meandering rivers to make the rivers more navigable, so that the creation of landmarks on the land would be of public benefit.

Whatever form they took, these monuments embodied a permanent "registering of death upon the landscape" which was a major part of Kelabit life. Remnants of kawang may be seen, although not as distinct as in the past, along the ridges in Bario today. People are still able to tell the exact ridges where they or their ancestors created a perupun, kawang, batu sinuped, or nabang, many of which may have been done by them or their parents. A descendant would say "my father lies there" or "my ancestor is on that ridge." One notable site is a group of eight menhirs that can be seen on a knoll at Pa' Berang. Four monoliths are between six to over seven feet high, another four small ones are about two to three feet high and yet another four cut stones of about six feet serve as bridges over man-made ditches or nabangs. It is said that when the Kelabits migrated from Patar Lem Liu', they lived at Pa' Berang for a time. They moved into the higher plains of Pa' Debpur because downriver the frequent flooding of the Pa' Debpur brought fish that ate the stems of their padi plants and this affected their harvests.

Edward Banks, curator of the Sarawak Museum, wrote in 1936 how he had seen nabang, scores of these stones, monuments, jars, both old and recent, and stone "urns" used in burial ceremonies. He also reported seeing a number of crude human carvings cut on stones, often in relief, which his informants said had been created by their ancestors. He opined that "the stone objects in the Kelabit country are of recent and present Kelabit origin, and not Chinese." He noted that some identical carvings and numerous stone urns for reception of bones were found in the Naga Country of Assam, similar possibly because the people lived in similar climatic conditions, but concluded, however, that "in Sarawak, at any rate, they are to be found mainly among the Kelabit, occasionally among the Muruts, but among no other people" (Banks 1936). Although we know now that there are similar burial practices in other areas, to the extent that the same practices were confined to people of the same stock, Banks was right.

There have been megalithic activities discovered in other locations in Borneo, for example, by the Kadazans in coastal Sabah (Harrisson 1973:123), in Pulau Usukan and other offshores islets in northwestern Sabah (Harrisson 1962a:386-89, T. and B. Harrisson 1971, Chapter 5), and Kuala Bekuku, Tomani, in southwestern Sabah, but Harrisson argued that Kelabit Highland stone work has unique features of its own (Harrisson and O'Connors 1971:71-77). For instance, the rock carvings discovered in Ulu Tomani, Sabah, in April 1971, had features that closely matched the stone carvings found in the Kelabit country at Pa' Dalih and also at Long Lellang in the Akah. Since there is no tradition or record of any megalithic activity among the present Tomani inhabitants, the Tagals, nor are any carved or cut rocks known even in the megalithic area of the Kadazandusun peoples further north (T. and B. Harrisson 1971), he posited that "it seems likely that this is one of the many lost signs that the upland Kelabit people...once spread continuously much further north and south until they were decimated by the introduced epidemics after the arrival of western civilisation on the coast." Such a thesis perhaps supports R. S. Douglas's statement that Kelabits are practically the same race of people as are those known as Muruts in the Trusan and Padas Districts of Sabah (Douglas 1907:53). (70)

These cultural landmarks are revisited as indications and proof of the occupation of the highlands by the Kelabits. Despite the absence of a surveyed and well-delineated boundary, quite clearly they lived and exclusively occupied the highlands as their ancestral homeland for generations from time immemorial. As the next part of this paper will show, there is currently a quest to outline the traditional boundaries between them and other tribes.

Formalizing Historical and Traditional Boundaries

Within the larger concept of territorial domains, native spatial concepts, whether intercommunity or intra-community, were underpinned by native customs concerning ownership and use of land. These were based on rotational swidden agriculture and other customary uses of land already in existence when Rajah James Brooke first came to Sarawak in 1839. Native customary rights to land consisted of a right to cultivate land, a right to wild fruits or produce of the jungle, hunting and fishing rights, burial rights and rights of inheritance transfer and temporary assignment. The clearing and cultivation of virgin land conferred permanent rights on the original clearer which he could pass on to his descendants.

The Land Regulations of 1863 which sought to give the Brooke regime rights over all unoccupied land did not interfere with Dayak and Malay customary land rights. In the 1920 Order No. VIII which came into effect in 1923, Part 5 of the Order said "Natives may occupy land free of all charges in accordance with customary laws provided that, where possible, claims shall be registered." Supplementary Order No. IX provided for Native Reserves of 5 acres per family. Such occupation of land under customary law appears to have been generally regarded as "lawful occupation" and "lawful ownership" (Richards 1961:8). Later orders, namely Order L-2 (Land) of 1931 and Order L-7 (Land Settlement) 1933, which applied the Torrens system, required all titles and dealings to be registered "on pain of nullity" (Richards 1961:8). This culminated in the Secretariat Circular No. 12 of 1939 which, among other things, ordered the setting-up of village committees to assist in defining community boundaries.

Thus began efforts in the 1930s and 1940s to complete a basic triangulation survey to determine boundaries between longhouses and kampung (generally, Malay villages) and get them marked down. These surveys were done by the District Officers with the help of the village committees. This was interrupted by the Japanese Occupation, during which time records were lost (71) or were not kept up to date, and thus it was impossible to follow them up with surveys, necessitating a fresh start. Notwithstanding the clear provisions of the Secretariat Circular 12/39, a lack of administrative capacity, lack of funds and staff, and, ironically, a fear that there would be no land left to alienate if the demarcations were completed, meant that little was done to survey the land (Richards 1961:9). When efforts were renewed in 1945 to discuss policy and procedure, the old orders were consolidated under the Land Code of 1958 "with the addition only of minor improvements and without reference to the real needs of the people [natives] most concerned" (Richards 1961:9). Thus, it resulted in a code that "did not give effect to any customs whatsoever except codified law of delicts" (Richards, quoting Peter Mooney, as Sarawak Crown Council). Be that as it may, there was no express displacement of customs nor the extinguishment of customary rights to land. The natives continued to practice a system of occupation and inheritance of land based on their customary practices. The incidents of their occupation and ownership of land began to undergo certain transformations due to external pressures on the land and hitherto alien market forces affecting uses of the land.

The Changing Value of Land

Timber logging activities in the 1970s and the growth of a monetary economy brought a change in the value of their lands, resulting in a contest for resources between the neighboring tribes. Quiet tensions between the Kayans, Kenyahs, Penans, Kelabits, and Lun Bawang began to surface. Tensions also mounted between them and other related groups across the Indonesian-Kalimantan border. Differing approaches by different tribes to external encroachments have in some cases given rise to conflict, highlighting the need for clearer demarcation. For example, in the Long Lellang region, the Penan approach to logging has for a long time been to set up blockades in many places, whereas the Kelabits, Kayans, and Kenyahs have taken a pragmatic approach (after many initial clashes) of allowing logging companies to come in, subject to compensation for use of their native customary (NCR) land and to certain benefits being given to the village communities.

Conflicting claims have erupted or are imminent, for instance, in areas where Penans and Kelabits have co-existed, where the Kelabits practiced a swidden cultivation along with their wet padi sawah, and the Penans carried on a hunter-gathering tradition. For over a decade the Kelabits encouraged the Penans to settle down near existing schools where their children could be educated. Many Penan families have now settled down to a more sedentary lifestyle. They farm lands which were traditionally claimed by Kelabits as their amug (formerly cultivated land that is now secondary jungle) and certain virgin jungle which Kelabits claim to be within their tana' bawang (village communal land). Interestingly, Penans have begun to push for delineation of tribal boundaries for the underlying purpose of claiming specific compensation for their group from logging concessionaires. Penans have in many instances demanded that the government declare communal reserves for them within logging concession areas. Unfortunately, in many instances, these areas were traditionally occupied and claimed by other tribal groups.

Similar disputes have been reported between the Kayans and Ukits in the Belaga area. (Chan 1991). In most cases, the timber logging companies have left the tribal groups to settle their boundaries among themselves. In the meantime, logging operations have proceeded, without any compensation being paid to either party. Added to that are recent alienation of large tracts of land in the interior to various companies for oil palm and forest plantations. These factors have made the issue of boundaries more urgent.

Boundary Books

The use of Boundary Books that started in the 1930s and 1940s has seen a resurgence, particularly in areas where logging has encroached on what natives perceive to be their NCR land. The absence of any clear delineation of territories has forced a situation where tribal leaders are now trying to address the issue through negotiations between the tribal groups. A number of different agreements have been signed between neighboring tribes. Boundaries are agreed upon and entered into the Boundary Books by simply stipulating the physical landmarks, accompanied by a sketch map of the area. At times such entries in the Boundary Book may be accompanied by specific conditions.

One such agreement was signed on 13 March 1989 between the Penans, Kelabits, and Kayans of Long Seniai. An entry in the Baram Boundary Book (72) simply states the existence of the "Boundary between Penan, Kelabit of Long Lellang Region and Kayan of Long Seniai (Sg. Pengaran on the right side going upriver Akah and Sg. Penan on the left side going up the Akah River). See sketch map opposite page." Another agreement between the Long Lellang Penans and Kelabits, the Akah and Penan/Kayans of the Patah River signed on 10 March 1989 agreed that the boundary adalah mengikut Sg. Pengaran melalui Simpang Sg. Pengaran (follows Sg. Pengaran through the tributary of the Sg. Pengaran). In yet another agreement, the boundary between the Kelabit Long Lellang and Kayans of Sg. Patah, mengikut gunung besar Patah (follows the mountain ridge).

In the negotiations leading up to this agreement both parties emphasized that the practices of their ancestors should be followed. The Kayans argued for Long Telah, whereas the Kelabits argued that the gorge at Meriggong was the main traditional meeting place between Kelabits and Kayans and it should be the boundary. In the stalemate, a consensus was reached that the Chairman of the land committee from both parties meet together with the District Officer to make a final decision. At the time of writing, the formal outcome of that meeting is yet to be known.

In some instances, preconditions were inserted for the agreements to be "effective." For example, in the boundary agreement between the Penans and Long Tunga Kongsi and Lio Mato, it is stated that no virgin jungle is to be felled nor the planting of rubber or fruit trees is to be allowed upriver from Long Tunga and Long Semiang. A condition is inserted that "if there is any dispute or treated (sic) Penan badly the government have to use other means." This smacks of a silent threat of withdrawal of recognition should the Penans be treated badly.

Apart from agreements, boundary statements also take the form of a declaration made by a District Officer that a certain tribal group has lived on their land according to their adat and that their rights should be respected. For example, in the boundary between the Kayans, Kenyahs, Berawans, and Indonesia, a letter from the District Office with a declaration by two headman of Kebaan Arur Dalan and Pa 'Tik Arur Dalan simply declares that the boundary runs Dari Kuala Sg. Layun turun ke Merigong (rapid Sg. Akah) ikut banjaran Lepuk ke Ulu Lelang, masuk ke Ulu Tutoh ke Banjaran Temaboh dan Sg. Tudan ke Ulu masok Sempadan dengan Indonesia. Dari Gunung Mulu (Long Tao) ke Kuala Sedong, Limbang melalui Banjaran Pagun Periok ke Ulu Sg. Adang ke Banjaran Murut melalui Ra 'an Buluk ke Indonesia (From the estuary of Sg. Layun down to Merigong (Sg. Akah rapids) follow Lepuk Range to Ulu Lelang, into Ulu Tutoh to Temaboh Range and Tudan River and its upper reaches into the Indonesia boundary. From Mt. Mulu (Long Tao) to the estuary of Sedong, Limbang through Pagun Periok Range to Sg. Adang to the Murut Range through Ra'an Buluk to Indonesia).

Apart from formal agreements, informants have given the traditional inter-tribal boundaries as stated below. These were counterchecked with the Kelabit community leaders at a leaders' meeting in Bario in December 2003. Note that the inter-tribal boundaries refer to specific bawang which are on the periphery of the Kelabit inhabited areas.
Tribes Boundary Point

Between:
Kelabit Long Lellang and Kayan Long Pengaran (after
 negotiation and concession,
 otherwise it was traditionally
 Fort Merigong) (73)
Kelabit Long Lellang and Kenyah Long Sa'it (74)/Ra'an
 Lellang (75)
Kelabit Long Seridan and Kayan Ra'an Sedam
Kelabit Long Seridan and Berawan Ikup Long Ta'o (76)
Kelabit Long Peluan and Kenyah/Kayan Long Metapeh (77)
Kelabit Long Seridan and Lun Bawang Long Sidung (78)
Kelabit Long Seridan and Tabun Long Sidung
Kelabit Pa' Lungan and Lun Bawang Ra'an Buluh'
Kelabit Pa' Umur and Berian Ra'an Mekang
Kelabit Pa' Bengar and Kerayan Ra'an Liwan
Kelabit Pa' Dalih and Saban (Pa' Nar) Apad Bawang Runan
Kelabit Pa' Mein and Berian / Kerayan Apad Uwat


Since many of these boundary points use natural landscape features such as gorges, ridges, hills, watersheds, and confluences of rivers, variations may arise as to the exact location of the boundaries. As evidenced by recent negotiations, parties may still renegotiate their territorial boundaries. The question is, to what extent are these evidences and entries in the Boundary Books binding on the Native Courts?

In one case, Sungei Kelawit v Sungei Anau (Tatau District), it was said that the entries in the Boundary Books were not recognized. (79) However, the view of the Native Court Registrar Empeni Lang is that entries in the Boundary book are valid evidence. (80) Lang's view is supported by at least two cases: In TR Riggie anak Beluluk & 2 Ors v Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA) &2 Ors (High Court Suit No.22-50-1996 (Miri) a District Officer confirmed the existence of and the validity of a Boundary Book, and testified that it had been used in the past to settle disputes between longhouses (Bian, 2000:18). In TR Gembar v TR Janting (Land Cases 1969-1987 at 728) in a dispute between two individuals over their rights to plant padi on certain land, the issue pertained to the extent of the boundary between the two longhouses. The description of the territory in the Boundary Book was upheld. According to the facts, it appeared that a decision had been made in 1950 by the Penghulu's Court on the communal rights of the longhouses. This was upheld in the Resident's Court. On appeal before the Native Court of Appeal (the highest court in the Native Courts hierarchy), the court said:
 We feel that the boundary as set out by the Resident's Native Court
 to be the proper one in all the circumstances and we therefore,
 under the provisions of the paragraph (e) of the Subsection (1) of
 section 9 of the Native Court Ordinance bearing in mind the
 provision thereto confirm that boundary which is: The Land of TR
 Gembar shall be divided from the land of TR Janting by a line drawn
 from Bukit Baram direct to Pulau Batu Mayau which line shall then
 run at right angles down the Sungei Menjawa to its junction with
 Sungei Seman, it shall then run at right angles along the left bank
 of the Sungei Seman to its source of Bukit Taba, and it shall then
 run along the top of the ridge from Bukit Taba to Bukit Buloh Lachau
 where it will stop short of the source of Sungei Spaoh. (Emphasis
 added.)


This case refers to an Iban area but by analogy may be applied to Kelabits and other groups. Clearly, the court accepted a local descriptions of the land--one that followed the relief of the area. The above description is common to sketch maps in the Boundary Books.

Today, Kelabits, like other native groups, live in an era where struggle about control over, and/or access to their customary resources has become a reality. Pressure has increased on the land through logging and other development projects such that there is a clamor for compensation for timber in areas that are taken to "belong" to the different groups under native customary rights. The different groups in general have become acutely aware of their need to record their resources in some permanent form as a means of self protection, negotiation, and empowerment. In response to what is perceived as encroachment into their territory, the awareness that their interests need to be made "visible" to outsiders, be it as a boundary delineation, landmark, or details of traditional resources, now fuels the need to record these interests and the alien practice of mapmaking has emerged as one of the means to make their claims visible. Families have begun to draw and "make" maps of the land and resources that they claim.

Making Visible Hidden Landscapes: From Mental Maps to Written Records

To lend order to their world, Kelabits use mental maps, which they carry with them at all times (see Rundstorm 1990:155). In the past, spatial knowledge and information on territorial boundary marks with regard to their neighbors was kept in the minds of the elderly people and passed down to the next generation by word of mouth through stories of exploits on the land. This constituted mapping of their territory. Mapping has always been part of the way they organized their lives, although they knew nothing of mapmaking. To teach the younger generations about their physical world and its terrain, older men take younger ones into the jungle, and by walking and talking, they show, teach and explain the significance of each landmark, ridge, hill, or stream. Older women take groups of younger women on day trips for niap (hand-held net) fishing, to collect jungle produce of vegetables and herbs for food, and leaves for wrapping and basketry. My informants Gerawat and Mawan, now in their forties, tell of how their fathers or uncles, through hunting expeditions, or through gathering of produce in the jungle, not only taught them survival skills, but showed them the jungle terrain, the streams and mountain ridges and their significance. (81)

Their intimate knowledge of the landscape is often manifested in their description of a particular landmark or the river's characteristic that gave the river its name. The use of the terms pa' (river) or arur (stream) and the names given by the locals "imprint" their occupation on the landscape. For example, tana' luyu' means 'soft slimy soil,' giving the name to the stream Arur Tana' Luyu' and batuh, which means 'stone,' refers to the stream with stones and boulders, thus Arur Tadem Batuh (stream of sharp stones). These are among the many tributaries of the Pa' Umur. As Harley says, "naming the land is one of the most emotive and symbolic acts that cartography constructs" (Harley 1991:9) and by so naming, the landscape becomes "a reservoir for detailed ecological knowledge and a repository for the memory of past events" (Brosius 1986: 173-184).

The Kelabit experience is not unique to them. It appears to be a characteristic of most indigenous cultures the world over. Writing of the tribes in Brazil, Katherine Milton (Milton 1992:39) reveals a parallel situation when she writes:
 The most important possession the Indians carry with them is
 knowledge ... to make a living in the rainforest--each individual
 must become a walking bank of information on the forest landscape,
 its plants and animals and uses. This information must be taught
 anew to members of each generation, without the benefit of books,
 manuals or educational television.


I visited the plains along Pa' Umur River and some of its tributaries on foot, a return ourney that took over seven hours. I also took boat journeys up and down the Pa' Depbur, as well as the Long Lellang River. Visiting the previously inhabited plains, and other sites of meaning along the banks, produced rich stories. Along the routes, stories multiply and the significance of old sites emerge, be it of an old longhouse ruin or hearth stone, a mound, an ulung bua' (an area earmarked or maintained for fruit trees by a village) a valley, a man-made ditch or a stone burial cave. The culture and knowledge of a people is imbedded in the landscape, where sometimes no physical evidence remains. In the face of a "Western" culture that extols written records however, the value of oral transmission of knowledge of the land is often not treated on the same footing as written records or, in this context, a written map.

Maps and Mapmaking

The question is, what is considered a map? Webster's Dictionary defines a map as "a drawing or other representation of the surface of the earth, or of any part of it, drawn on paper or other material, exhibiting the lines of latitude and longitude, and the positions of countries, cities, mountains, rivers etc ..." Any map-like delineation or representation may also be defined as a map.

To make a map is to draw and to inscribe into it "realities of the time, either to record the past, or to make visible the unseen ..." (Wood and Fels 1992:5). A map links the territory with what comes with it (ibid:10). To sketch a river is to bring into being the land that it drains; it makes visible to the outside through the medium of paper or canvas information that essentially exists in the mind of someone who knows or sees the terrain, "making experience of the environment shareable" (ibid:79). Every map, from the most apparently objective to subjective ones, necessarily embodies and promotes the interests of the maker and since the map usually tries to pass itself as a picture of the way things are, the mapmaker decides which features are actually to be shown. As Dennis Wood (1992:1) tells us:
 Every map shows this ... but not that, and every map shows what it
 shows this way ... but not the other.


It is interesting to note that since their rudimentary beginnings, maps are said to have relied more on conjecture than on fact. The medieval maps, for example, were made to reinforce belief rather than to record fact. It has been said that "landscapes express a vision of the land; maps conceptualise, codify, and regulate that vision" (Huggan 1994:xv). Maps are used to make legible the presences (or absences) in a landscape, revealing landscapes with particular characteristics. To map the presence of certain resources is to acknowledge their existence in the same way that to map a particular state is to assert its territorial expression, and to leave it out is to deny its existence. As Gill, Paterson and Kennedy (2001:) write:
 The control of landscape, both in the sense of being able to define
 it materially and symbolically is central to the exercise of power.
 Landscapes do not exist of their own accord, they must be
 continually reproduced and defended and reshaped as challenges
 arise. To be able to define the nature of the landscape, to be able
 to compose the world in the likeness of one's subjectivity and then
 be able to naturalise and privilege that composition and invest it
 with moral worth as frontier mythology does, is to be able to define
 what and who does and does not belong and to create absences and
 presences according to that scheme.


To this end, as Kelabits begin to adopt modern methods of negotiation to determine their territorial boundaries, mapmaking becomes part of the process. This is not the place to expound on the principles of mapmaking, nor on the accuracy or correctness of the map as an approximation of the territory it purports to represent. The purpose here is merely to indicate that maps constitute a form of communication between the mapmaker and the intended map reader and they can be used not only as a means of claim, but also of political leverage.

Mapmaking indeed has potential as a form of knowledge and as a formidable political weapon. This applies both to the map's use by the ruling authorities and by those they govern. In perhaps a reaction to what is perceived as "silences" and non-representation of their interests on the state's maps, and in the absence of government surveys, some forms of community mapping are being carried out by the local communities in Sarawak.

In the remotest of bawangs, there is talk of maps and mapmaking as a way of making legible the presence (or absences) of features in a landscape, revealing landscapes with particular characteristics.

Other neighboring tribes have also begun to draw sketch maps delineating their territorial boundaries in relation to neighboring groups, primarily as evidence and basis of claims against logging concessionaires. Some groups have maps drawn with the help of international non-government organizations, using the most modern technology for recording details of natural resources known to the local people. (82) Perhaps the words of a Penan headman best reveal their somewhat simple, if not naive view, of maps when he said, beaming to me, "whatever is on the map is ours." (83) Another Penan leader said, "We draw maps to delineate the boundary of our land to protect ourselves from encroachments by the timber logging companies and other outside encroachment on our land." (84) He was quick to add that the delineation of their boundaries is "not to keep other natives out" as any "other groups are welcome to live and share with us." These Penans had traditionally lived with the Kelabits.

Ordinarily, the maps that are drawn are sketched maps based on traditional boundaries according to the customary practices of the tribal groups. After negotiation and agreements between the groups, and endorsement by the District Officer, they are entered in the Boundary Books and are accepted as evidence by the Native Courts. The paradox is that maps can instill a false sense of tenure or representation of interest among local people who put their trust in the power of the map.

Maps as Evidence of Claim

In Nor anak Nyawai & others v Borneo Pulp Plantation Sdn Bhd and Anor and Superintendent of Lands & Surveys, Bintulu [2001] 6 MLJ 241, a form of community mapping was accepted as evidence by the High Court in an Iban claim against a pulp plantation company. A crucial issue in that case was whether the pemakai menoa, the territorial domain of the longhouse community, "where they exercised customary rights to land" was within the disputed area where the defendant company had planted trees to feed its paper pulp mills.

Narratives and oral evidence of the longhouse history, the sites of the various tembawai (old longhouse sites) which had existed for decades, descriptions of cultivation of land, farming, planting of trees and fruit trees, fishing, hunting and gathering from the jungles in and along the rivers and their tributaries were adduced and not disputed. The Iban plaintiffs and folks of the longhouse organized themselves into two parties. Each took turns to accompany an unqualified surveyor on foot and traversed the whole area which they claimed to be the pemakai menoa for the purpose of producing a map of it. The boundary was laid with reference to various mountains and hills, ridges, and trees.

Given the equipment available to the surveyor, the court felt that the map that the surveyor produced was as accurate as it could possibly be. The landmarks identified by the ground survey properly fixed the situation of the disputed areas. The map showed that fruit trees planted by the plaintiffs and their ancestors bordered the edge of the area of trees planted by defendants. Furthermore, the proximity of the rivers and of the surrounding jungles to Rumah Nor (longhouse) and the tembawai rendered it probable that the plaintiffs and their ancestors had indeed cleared the land for cultivation, accessed these rivers for fishing, hunting and to gather forest produce.

Juxtaposed against the said map was an aerial photograph of the area taken in 1951 to show that there was no clearing or secondary forest in the disputed area. Another aerial photograph taken in 1963, however, showed one 2-acre site where the land was cleared and the rest of the area was in primary jungle. However, there was no evidence to disprove that the land could have been felled years ago and grown to become the jungle as shown in the 1951 photograph. The evidence to prove or disprove the age of the trees had been destroyed by logging in 1989. Apart from the cultivated areas, the court accepted the plaintiffs' evidence that the jungle in the disputed area had been accessed by the previous and present folks of the longhouse and their ancestors.

Soon after the High Court's decision in Nor anak Nyawai & others v Borneo Pulp Plantation Sdn Bhd and Anor [2001] 6 MLJ 241 there was an unprecedented interest in maps. However, in October 2001 the Majlis Mesyuarat Negeri (Sarawak Supreme Council) passed the Land Surveyors Ordinance 2001 to make comprehensive provisions to regulate and license persons undertaking cadastral land surveys in Sarawak. Under section 17-18 of that Ordinance, only a land surveyor who is licensed by the surveyors' board is entitled to practice his profession in Sarawak. A licensed surveyor is authorized to undertake a cadastral survey and to sign a survey plan for submission to the government. Before undertaking any survey, a land surveyor must obtain instructions from the Director of Lands and Surveys, and all cadastral land survey plans have to be approved by the Director or a person authorized by him before being accepted for the purpose of applying the Land Code or any other written law. Section 23 of that ordinance further provides:
 that any person who, not being licensed as a surveyor who certifies
 as to the accuracy of any cadastral land survey, signs or initials
 or carries out or undertakes to carry out any cadastral land survey,
 is guilty of an offence and on conviction may be fined not more
 than RM 50,000 or imprisonment not more than 3 years or both and a
 penalty of RM 1000 per day for each day.


A cadastral map or survey is a cadastre (85) or a record of an area, boundaries, location, value and ownership of land achieved by cadastral survey. A cadastral survey therefore shows the extent, value or ownership of land, especially for taxation. The result of the forgoing sections is to make it illegal for any person to survey or make maps, apart from a person approved by the board. Judging from the timing of the bill's introduction it would not be churlish to suggest that the law was a swift response to Nor Nyawai, making community mapping illegal. In the absence of formal surveys made by the government, and what may be seen to be tardiness on the part of the latter, some may argue that the passing of legislation that limits the right of a local community to "show" and "make visible" their rights to land is tantamount to limiting the community's access to justice.

Maps and the State

The combination of the reorientation of market and non market economy, claims against timber concessions, and land acquisition for plantations has changed the concept of land and its value from one where land was a means of continuing social cohesion to new notions of property (land) as commodity. Given the current state of affairs, there are undeniable quiet tensions just beneath the surface in contemporary native society in Sarawak. With the growing consciousness of rights coupled with technological advancement, there is a real danger that differing versions of cadastral maps may surface, to aid in the staking of land claims. It has become easy for people to get hold of computer software packages that enable them to map fairly accurately their own interests. This has been done, for instance, in community mapping elsewhere. (86) The question is whether persons involved in mapmaking have the knowledge to correctly read and interpret those maps. In such a situation, Mark Monmonier (1991:123) cautions, saying:
 Moreover, because of powerful personal computers and 'use friendly'
 mapping software, map authority is perhaps too easy, and
 unintentional cartographic self deception is inevitable. How many
 software users know that using shade symbols with a magnitude data
 produces misleading maps? How many of these instant map makers are
 aware that size differences among areal units such as counties and
 census tracts can radically distort map comparisons?


It underscores the point that a single variable might yield many different maps giving rise to the question of which is the correct map. It may even give rise to conflict of interests as each produces maps from his point of view.

Stability and longevity are the primary task of each and every state and "cartography was primarily a form of political discourse concerned with the acquisition and maintenance of power" (Harley 1987:1). If the act of designing and producing maps is an inventory-taking, identification and allocation of resources, and a means to exploit strategic resources, then such production of maps may be seen as "an act of subjugation and appropriation of nature" (Rundstorm 1990:155), which no state would easily relinquish. It is not surprising, therefore, that the state would want to control the making of maps. By limiting the making of cadastral maps only to such persons as are authorized by the board, arguably this allows the board to pass only maps or "plans" that are deemed "useful" and acceptable to the state.

The question of how accurate maps can be as a representation of a party's interest, of course, remains. Whatever the degree of scientific accuracy, maps are said to be neither exact nor entirely objective; and controlled as they are by human interests, they are influenced by the mapmaker's motives and perceptions (Huggan 1994:3). As Huggan (1994: 9) puts it,
 The map's efficacy as a claim, like its impact as a political
 weapon, rests on the combined effect of its diverse strategies; the
 delineation and demarcation of territory; the location and
 nomination of place; the inclusion and exclusion of detail within
 the preset framework; and the choice of scale, format and design.
 Many of these strategies are obvious, but some are subliminal,
 reflecting the subtlety with which maps operate as forms of social
 knowledge or as agents of political expediency.


Bearing in mind that the extent to which some kinds of map features are shown is determined partly by the cost of compiling the information, the maps that actually get made are those that the mapmaker is willing to pay for, and that depends on whether it serves his interests (Thompson 1979:27). Since the sources of most map information are aerial photographs, features that cannot be identified on photographs must be mapped by field methods, an expensive procedure which the ordinary person cannot afford. It has often been said that official maps are often drawn on "empty" charts with little or no consideration of the existing interests concerning the land, particularly, the interests of the local communities that have lived on the land for generations (Peluso 1995). Both shifting and settled cultivation may appear on official maps, but boundaries of native customary lands do not. Forested lands are often charted as wild and uninhabited, officially unsettled and thus open for exploitation. "Empty" forests may be given to logging companies to log or, in some cases, for tree plantations, and the native occupants find they have to prove their use and occupation to claim compensation from timber concessionaires.

Quite clearly, maps are not neutral. And when it is not really a matter of accuracy, and only one single authority has the monopoly to produce maps, there is the lurking fear that certain interests may be excluded. To borrow Peluso's term, if native peoples do not make their own "counter-maps," they might find themselves excluded from maps authored by government agencies, and others will produce maps from the "other's" standpoint and thus subsume the local knowledge of places, plants, rituals, customs and artifacts. That is a factor that has given rise to community mapping as an alternative to authoritative mapping by government agencies in many countries. In Sarawak however, as the law stands, it might not be a ready option.

Does it matter then that they may not have written records in the form of maps? While it does, it is heartening to note that in the case of Sagong Tasi v the Government of Selangor [2002] MLJ 591 that oral evidence based on the traditional stories of Orang Asli were admissible evidence to prove occupation of customary land, subject to the Evidence Act 1950. (87) For Kelabits and other natives who may claim native customary rights to land, the inter-tribal agreements and the process of making accompanying maps (though in most cases sketch maps are used) have shown that proper mapping of their interests is a formidable task not only because they do not have the resources to do so but in some cases, the boundaries are "fuzzy" in the sense that it is not a matter of an exact spot. Perhaps in the clamor about maps, it is well to note Eghenter's sobering observation (Eghenter 2000:21) that "maps depend on the visual, precise marking of boundaries--these boundaries cannot by definition reveal fuzziness or uncertainty. And where rivers and mountains have been used to mark traditional territories, these natural cues are not always fixed. Maps might highlight the conflict in interests, but they do not solve them." Perhaps what is of fundamental importance now is to know the substance of their rights and interests so that they have a clear foundation for negotiation and claim.

Concluding Remarks

I have tried in this paper to show that the marks of Kelabit occupation are etched in the physical landscape as in their traditions, stories and customary practices. Apart from physical evidence of presence and occupation of the land through their ruma' ma'un (longhouse sites) and their amug (previously cultivated lands), there are clear evidences of permanent and semi-permanent marks on the landscape in the form of megalithic and memorial stones (the latter not necessarily related to internment). That the people could have carried the stone slabs from so far away in these large scale operations shows they had a good communal network (88) with no hindrance from any neighboring tribes. They had and still have exclusive occupation. Surrounding every ruma' maun area are amug, or formerly cultivated land, in various stages of growth which had been left to fallow, along with lands that were clearly regarded as tana' bawang, used in common by the community. Today, the descendants' knowledge of these customs and land usages, insight into the significance of monuments as well as stories of exploits on their land, provide a sense of continuity and substance to their attachment to the land.

The existing law under section 5 of the Land Code 1958 restricts recognition of native customary right to land based primarily on a continuous occupation of cultivated land, where virgin jungle was felled before the cut-off period of January 1958, or land for burial and shrines and right of way. The statute presumes a static community with limited or no mobility where no new lands would be required for cultivation, or that if new lands were opened, subject to the grant of a permit from the Minister, no customary rights to land would be created. As the preceding account shows, society does not remain static. People move either voluntarily or involuntarily by force of circumstances. With mobility comes the need to clear new land for subsistence farming, as well as change in land use. As to the recognition of land for burial and shrines which is provided for under section 5, there is clear evidence and marks of these on the landscape. This paper cannot deal with these issues in relation to the question of ownership of land. (89) Suffice it to say that regardless of how the early inhabitants themselves perceived their connection with the land, there is a physical and economic relationship with the land. They were physically present on the lands that they were using for their own purposes, for farming, herding, hunting, fishing, gathering, and a combination of these. This is evidence of occupation, and occupation is a matter which does not depend on the existence of the law. Despite the "absence" of certain boundary delineations, and the non "legible presence" of their resources on official maps, there is no doubt that their lives are interwoven with the landscape. Kelabit permanent and semi-permanent marks on the landscape through cultivation or other uses, historical accounts, oral tradition, stories of exploits, ceremonies and cultural artifacts on the land are important evidence of an enduring occupation of their ancestral land.

* The issues addressed in this article are the subject of a Ph.D. thesis being undertaken by the writer under the supervision of Professor Barry Hooker at the Faculty of Law, The Australian National University. The thesis is due for completion in 2005. A draft of this paper was presented at the Global Alliance for Justice Education Regional Conference (GAJE) held at the University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia on 8-11 November 2002. This paper is a much extended version. I gratefully acknowledge Professor Barry Hooker for his guidance and constant encouragement, Professor Cliff Sather and Louise Klemperer Sather for reading and providing valuable suggestions on the present and earlier drafts, the Earl of Cranbrook and Gerawat Gala for reading through the paper and offering their comments, and Lucy Labang who provided invaluable help in checking the data. The views expressed here are nevertheless my own, as is responsibility for any errors or omissions. The materials included here were obtained from fieldwork conducted in Bario, mainly in 2002 and early 2003, made possible partly by funding from Vote F, University of Malaya. The Australian National University Faculty of Law covered part of the airfares between Canberra and Kuala Lumpur and I am grateful to both institutions. What I had been able to do in the field in the short time was only possible because Lucy and David Labang not only set up meetings for me, but also participated in many of my discussions with community leaders. Kelabit leaders and individuals I talked to opened their hearts to me. David took me by boat to visit some of the sites, my uncles Bala Pelaba and Tama Raman trekked with me into the jungle. To each of these who shared stories of their land and landscapes that I have tried to put on paper, I am grateful.

(2) I am mindful of the multiple meanings given to landscapes in different disciplines. Indeed, even within one discipline alone there are myriad ways in which landscape is conceptualized.

(3) This map uses imaginary straight lines to cover an area that the Kelabits talk of as their ancestral territory. In a culture that still relies mainly on mental maps, the elders speak of their ancestral land encompassing an area described as: From Gunung Murud (eastward) to Ra'an Bulu' to Apad Gerawat to Buduk Udan to Ra'an Mekang to Ra'an Abang Bulu' to Apad Uwat to Ra'an Liwan to Punang Dalih to Punang Di'it to Apad Bawang Runan to Apad Riku' to Batu Kalung to Punang Belah (Punang Balung), Long Metepeh to Meriggong to Pengaran, and going westward from Gunung Murud, to Sipan Pa' Adan and Kerabangan to Perubpu' to Sipan Buduk Buyo to Ra'an Terap to Long Mutang to Ra'an Sedan. This information was gathered during separate interviews followed by a general meeting with the Kelabit community leaders in Bario, December 2003.

(4) The Kelabits have always referred to this mountain range as Apad Uwat, Apad means 'mountain range,' and uwat, is a root, describing the "root like" top of the mountain range. Most writers have mistakenly called this range Apo Duat, and the name has become entrenched by frequent use.

(5) Poline Bala (2002) in her book enumerates the various routes that could be taken in and out of the highlands.

(6) The term Bareo was first used by Tom Harrisson to refer to this village in the "Bah" (baa' meaning 'wet') valley. It is speculated that the people could have called the valley Lem Baa '-ariu, alluding to the gusts of wind that rush through the plains, or referring to the stream Pa' Marariu that flows through the plains of Baa'.

(7) Sponsored by the Canadian government in conjunction with the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS).

(8) Oxford English Dictionary 1989 (2nd Edition).

(9) Rawir and kadang are synonymous and both mean 'long.' The bawang is an aggregate of lubang ruma', and traditionally took the physical form of a ruma' kadang (longhouse). Now it more commonly refers to one or more longhouses plus adjacent individual houses.

(10) Tetak in Kelabit refers to 'a piece' or 'segment of (something),' say, of a fish or of a long piece of meat. It is usually used in reference to something long that is divided into segments.

(11) My mother's sister's husband, who had joined the Police Force, was stationed in Marudi, the nearest town to Bario, for many years. After Confrontation, he was posted to Bario for a number of years and during that time his family lived with ours in the same tetak ruma', but maintained a separate tetal (fireplace, hearth) and worked their own farm. In other words, they were another lubang ruma' in one tetak ruma '. In normal discourse, to say that two people maintain separate tetal is to make a clear distinction between their separate households, usually between those of two sisters or sisters-in-law, primarily because the food production of the household is considered the role of the woman.

(12) See Gerunsin Lembat, "Native Customary Land and The Adat," A Paper presented at the Seminar on NCR Land Development, Kuching, Sarawak, 29 September-3 October 1994, and also R. A. Cramb, "The Evolution of Iban Land Tenure," Working Paper No.39. Department of Economics, Clayton: Monash University, 1986, p. 15.

(13) See J. C. Moulton, "An Expedition to Mount Batu Lawi," JSBRAS No. 63, 1912, quoting a report by M. O. F. Ricketts and Dr. G. D. Haviland, Sarawak Gazette 1889, p. 78, and R. S. Douglas, 1912, "An Expedition to the Bah Country," SMJ, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1912.

(14) See for instance M. O. F. Ricketts and G. D. Haviland, Sarawak Gazette (1889):78; R. S. Douglas (1912:18-29); E. Mjoberg, Geograpical Review (1925:418); E. Banks, Sarawak Museum Journal (1937:411-437); W. F. Schneeberger, Geographical Journal (1945:423); Lian 1977; Talla 1979; Jarnovski 1988.

(15) Harrisson 1954, Southwell, 2000:194.

(16) See R. Lian-Saging, An Ethno-History of the Kelabit Tribe of Sarawak: A Brief Look at the Kelabit Tribe Before World War II and After, 1977, Unpublished Undergraduate Thesis for Bachelor of Arts, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. Lian-Saging writes of Penghulu Tingang of Pa' Dalih, who claimed to have traced his ancestors for at least 13 generations. He surmised that there must have been other people living in the plains of Lem Baa' as far back as that, which may be about 350-400 years.

(17) See Lian-Saging's sketch map in Lian-Saging (1977:105).

(18) Ruma' means 'house,' puun means 'mountain,' turud is a knoll or a mountain ridge, arur is a stream, pa' refers to a river, and long or elung is the confluence of two rivers or streams.

(19) Incidentally, it was Lawai Besara who was the headman at the time of Tom Harrisson's arrival in Bario in 1945. Having been interned at Marudi (see Sarawak Gazette, Vol. XCII, No. 1310, April, 1967, p. 80), he escaped and walked through the jungle back to Bario, to find his brother had died, and with no one else left to lead the village, he became the headman. He was later appointed the first Penghulu under British colonial rule and was later to play a major role in the development of the Kelabit people in their transition into the modem era.

(20) See R. S. Douglas 1912. Bulung uku--'oath by the dog' was the most serious oath taken by the people. There is an interesting paper by Roger Peranio on the use of dogs' teeth for oath-taking among the Bisaya' of Limbang and southwestern Sabah. Today, one often hears people, in mock swearing, assert the truth of their report by saying "uku' sia' dih!" '(by) the red dog!'

(21) Harrisson wrote about his life among the Kelabits in World Within." A Borneo Story, (1990) Oxford University Press.

(22) Poline Bala writes about her family's farms along some of these tributaries in her book Changing Borders and Identities in the Kelabit Highlands." Anthropological Reflections on Growing Up Near an International Border (2002).

(23) Tama Pasang, now headman of Pa'Umur. Personal communication, Bario, October 2002.

(24) See also Lian-Saging (1977).

(25) Interview with Kareb Ayu, 80 yrs old, November 2002, Miri. The remnants of two belanai buda' and belani madting (ancient jars), used for burying two siblings, Dayang and Agan, (siblings of Tapan Ulun, the husband of Kareb Ayu) both of whom died of the smallpox epidemic, were said to have been removed from the site at Buduk Butal by the late Tom Harrisson and taken to the Sarawak Museum.

(26) This was in the 1920s.

(27) When they were at Long Arur Perambango, they crossed to farm the land at Pa' Duan in the territory of bawang Pa' Mein and had to pay a belanai jar as dawi to Tekapan Raja, the Pa' Mein headman. Dawi was a type of payment for "spilt blood" or an accident that had occurred on the land. In this case an enemy raid on the village had caused loss of life and on the territory which created a "mark" on the land as belonging to that village.

(28) Berangad means 'monkey.' It was said this was a trail that monkeys used to cross this ridge and that people put wood across the valley to help them cross.

(29) This story was corroborated by Sina Balang Imat (also known as Kareb Ayu') and Galih Balang. Interview in Miri and Bario in October 2002.

(30) Interview in Bario October 2002.

(31) Lian-Saging wrote of a longhouse named Ruma' Pun Mengiung after this ancestor. He also noted that Pun Mengiung was originally a Kelabit from the south who married a girl from Lem Baa', but was recognized as a leader and headman by the Lem Baa' people (Lian-Saging 1977:100).

(32) In recent years a number of accidents have occurred during hunting and one reason offered is that people are crossing into another bawang.

(33) Other forms of fishing, such as using the keluit (hook and line), bubu (bamboo traps), mering (weirs), iyap (hand nets), and pedala' (cast nets), do not involve the whole community.

(34) Tepun Bawang was the grandfather of the present Tepun Bawang (now in his 80s), the headman of Bario Asal, who is the adopted father of Lian-Saging.

(35) This sago starch is the staple food of the Penan people who roam the jungle as hunter gatherers.

(36) C. Sather, "Trees and Tree Tenure in Paku Iban Society: The Management of Secondary Forest Resources in a Long Established Iban Community," Borneo Review, 1(1), 1990, pp. 17-40. See also Spenser St. John, Life in the Far East, Volume 1, p. 159, and "Schwaner's Ethnographical Notes," in R. H. Ling Roth's Natives of Sarawak and North Borneo.

(37) Douglas (1912) described the water as "brackish" and its taste as being like "epsom salt." Incidents of goiter, which are, or were in the past, frequent among lowland tribes, are rare in the highlands. This has been attributed to the high iodine content of this salt.

(38) This process has been described by Chong Ah Onn and other writers. See Chong, "Some Kelabit Practices," The Sarawak Gazette, September 30,1954, p. 187; R. S. Douglas, "An Expedition to the Bah Country," Sarawak Museum Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1912, p. 25; E. Banks, Sarawak Gazette, July 1, 1936, p. 158; and Talla 1979.

(39) The Lun Bawangs, the Kerayans and the Berians also make salt using the same method. The salt obtained from the Kerayans, however, is formed of reddish brown crystals resembling coarse sugar.

(40) The tubung (well) of the Mein Keramut salt well in Pa'Umur was first dug by the grandparents of Sina Napong Aran and was later reconstructed by her and her husband, Napong Aran, using a hollow tree trunk in honor of Sina Napong Aran's parents in the salt from the salt well gave Napong Aran and his wife a token edtam ("rent" payment) in the form of sticks of salt, though this has ceased to be done. Each of the salt wells in various locations was constructed and maintained by leading families in the village that lay claim to the wells.

(41) Personal communication with Sina Napong Aran, Bario, August 2002, confirmed by Galih Ballang, personal communication in Bario September 2002.

(42) Personal communication with Bala Pelaba of Pa' Umur, April 2003, and with Pun Tenganen, Kuching, June 2003.

(43) The local people say they believe there were maps to indicate these boundaries but they were damaged in a fire that engulfed the District Office in Marudi in the 1970s. Copies of the same maps which were retained by Penghulu Ngimet Ayu' were also destroyed in a fire that burnt the whole longhouse in 1996.

(44) There could have been an effort to demarcate the boundaries in the period of the Secretariat Circular No. 12/1939 when there was a policy to survey lands after the Land Order in 1931 (Order No. L-2). This Order was followed by Order No. L-7 (Land Settlement) 1933 which marked the introduction of the Torrens system. It provided for settlement of legal and customary rights to land and required all dealings to be registered in a Land Registry on pain of nullity. Fundamental to the implementation of such a system of land registration was accurate cadastral survey. It required time and adequate staff. In truth, there was no machinery or staff for executing the work. What was undertaken was an interim measure for village committees to be established to assist the government in defining the boundaries. Many of these boundaries were based on traditional communal or tribal boundaries which had existed before the coming of the Brookes. I searched through the record of administrative officers in public service during that period at the Sarawak Museum Archives for the name of an officer "Wan Sulun" who was claimed to have demarcated the boundary but was not able to find a listing of him. Could it have been that he was a junior officer?

(45) Personal communication, Bario, August 2002.

(46) Interview in Bario, August 2002.

(47) The writer's father Tama Bulan's father was originally from Lem Baa'. He was taken to Pa' Umur by his mother after his father's death and married a woman from Pa' Umur. He moved back to Bario in 1960 to enable his children to be near the school in Bario at the invitation of his brother-in-law, Penghulu Lawai Besara of Bario.

(48) In another instance, Lun Lem Baa' came all the way to Pa' Umur to mabah (carry on their backs) Tama Bulan's household chattels including the kepang (wooden roof tiles) to the longhouse at Bario. The custom in an inter-village migration was that when a family was given the permission and blessings by the headman to leave a bawang, the receiving bawang would welcome the new family by the whole uwang bawang (members of the bawang) of the receiving village helping in the logistics of the migration. Note also that if the family moved without the blessing of the headman of the village of origin, the migrating family as well as the receiving bawang would be asked to pay a fine to the fomer.

(49) Ribuh Ballang (Ulung Palang) and Balang Maten (Long Lellang) are of the opinion the two concepts are different.

(50) I counter-checked results of earlier interviews with leaders of the community at a meeting called by Pemanca Ngimet Ayu' at his residence at Bued Mein Baru "A", Bario, in December 2003. Present at the meeting were: Pemanca Ngimet Ayu' (Pa'Mein/Bued Mein Baruh) Penghulu Hew Jalla (Long Lellang/Bued mein Baruh), TK Tama Pasang (Pa' Umur), TK Mada' Karuh, (Kubaan/Arur Dalan), WKK Maran Tunen (Pa'Bengar/Arur Layun), Balang Radu (Bario Asal), Puun Ulun (Pa' Dalih) Bawang Nungen (Bario Asal), Udan (Pa' Ramapuh), David Labang (Pa' Bengar/Padnag Pasir) and Lucy Labang (Bario Asal/Padang Pasir).

(51) There is disagreement on the tung.

(52) There is disagreement between some members of Bario Asal and Pa' Mein (Bued Mein Baru) as to the exact tung.

(53) Tama Pasang, personal communication, Bario, September 2002, and the general consensus at the leaders' meeting.

(54) Galih Balang, personal communication, Pa' Lungan, September 2002.

(55) Ribuh Balang, personal communication, Bario, August 2002.

(56) Ibid.

(57) Bala Pelaba, personal communication, Bario August 2002. Prior to the moving of many villages to Bario during the Malaysian-Indonesian Confrontation, a security committee was set up to consider the security and logistics of moving whole villages. Members of that committee were: Haddock Wilson (District Officer), Ngerawe Ulun (Government Up River Agent), Penghulu Lawai (Chief), Bala Pelaba (then Chief Inspector, Border Scouts in Bario), Tama Saging (Tua Kampong, Bario Longhouse as Bario Asal was then called), Tapan Ulun @ Bala Ngimet (Tua Kampong of Pa' Umur), Balang Tuna (Tua Kampong of Pa'Lungan). Note that prior to 1963 these were the only main villages in inner Bario. Many meetings and different committees were later set up to look into the details of settlement, the most longterm of which was the Land Committee headed by Balang Radu and Ngerawe Ulun.

(58) R. S. Douglas (1907:156) reported that Kelabit and Saban chiefs requested the setting up of the fort.

(59) Penghulu Henry Jalla (Nepuun Baru), Gerau Ribuh, and Balang Buren, personal communication, Bario, August 2002.

(60) E. Banks, "The Kelabit Country," Sarawak Gazette, July 1, 1936, p. 159; Also "Some Megalithic Remains from the Kelabit Country in Sarawak with some Notes on the Kelabits Themselves," Sarawak Museum Journal Vol. IV (15) pp. 411-437. Keith complements the comments made by Banks in "Megalithic Remains in North Borneo," JMBRAS Vol XX/1, 1947, pp. 153-155.

(61) See R. Heine-Geldern, "Prehistoric Research in the Netherlands Indies," South East Asian Institute, New York, 1945, quoted in Harrisson 1954.

(62) George Jamuh, "Jerunei," Sarawak Museum Journal, Vol. V, 1950-1951, pp. 62-68.

(63) See Walter Unjah, "The Stone of Demong," Sarawak Museum Journal, Vol. VI (12), 1954-5, pp. 61-64, for a legend about the only megalith so far attributed to the Iban.

(64) Bala Pelaba and Galih Balang talk of the legend of a young lady who died in Patar Lem Liu', called Liyu'. Since she died without an heir, her property was buried with her in a huge mound of stones which may be seen today.

(65) Sina Bulan and her brother Tama Pasan erected a batu pelukong at Long Nipat in memory of their father Tapan Tepun.

(66) For a description of the creation of ditches, see Guy Arnold, Longhouse and Jungle, Singapore, 1959. See also Malarn Maran, Sarawak Gazette, Vol. XCI, June 1969, pp. 150-151. Southwell (1999) noted the presence of these ngabang (sic) on a visit to Pa' Bengar and Pa' Dalih in 1947.

(67) A nabang may still be seen at Long Dati, and a perupun at Long Sebuloh.

(68) Also known as Kareb Ayu' from Pa' Umur.

(69) Kareb Ayu of Pa' Umur, personal communication, Miri, October 2002. This was also mentioned by Sina Robert @ Adteh Kediah Aran, personal communication, Kuching, November 2002.

(70) It is not farfetched to say that the people who call themselves Lun Dayeh in the Ulu Padas are of the same stock as the Kelabits. Alison Hoare writes of a burial custom of burying the remains of the dead in jars and the presence of batu narit in the Ulu Padas. See A. Hoare, Cooking The Wild: The Role of The Lundayeh of the Ulu Padas (Sabah, Malaysia) in Managing Forest Foods and Shaping the Landscape, Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Kent at Canterbury, June 2002, p. 157.

(71) Temenggung Oyong Lawail Jau, in the Council Negeri sitting in 1957, said that the loss of the Baram Boundary Books had caused many land disputes in the Baram.

(72) The Baram Boundary Book, page 96.

(73) Personal communication, Ribuh Balang and Balang Buren in Bario, and Petrus Raja in Marudi, October 2002.

(74) Personal communication, Balang Buren, Balang Maten, Bario, November 2002.

(75) Leaders gathering, above.

(76) Personal communication, Ribuh Balang, Bario, and Penghulu Tulu Ayu', Marudi, August 2002.

(77) Personal communication, David Labang, Bario, October 2002.

(78) Ibid.

(79) Peter Langan, Sarawak Administrative Officer, was a judge in this case. Personal communication with Langan, Marudi, 6 August 2002.

(80) Empeni Lang, Native Court Registrar, personal communication, Kuching, October 2003.

(81) Personal communication with Gerawat Gala (also known as Tadun Aren) and Joseph Mawan Imat (also known as Paran Lem Ba'a), November 2003. Gerawat is a lawyer with Messrs. Zaid Ibrahim & Co. He was formerly General Manager (Legal and Corporate Affairs) with Sarawak Shell Berhad and Sabah Shell Petroleum Company Ltd. and General Counsel for Shell Malaysia. J. Mawan is Technical Supervisor with Shell in Miri, Sarawak.

(82) See, for example, the work of the Borneo Project at www.earthisland.org/ borneo/subtopic/work_map.html at 11 November 2004.

(83) Personal communication, Penan headman, October 2002.

(84) Personal communication, Penan leader, October 2002.

(85) Originated from cadastre 'register of property.'

(86) Indonesia encourages community mapping of tanah adat.

(87) "Customs and usages having the force of law" are included under the definition of law under article 160 of the Federal Constitution.

(88) At the sites of these stones, there are seldom any rock outcrops nearby. The nearest source of rocks was from the rivers which were often far from the scene.

(89) The question of ownership and proprietary rights is dealt with elsewhere.

References

Appell, G. N.

1997 The History of Research on Traditional Land Tenure and Tree Ownership in Borneo. Borneo Research Bulletin 28:82-97.

Arnold, Guy

1959 Longhouse and Jungle: An Expedition to Sarawak, Singapore: Donald Moore Press Ltd.

Bala, Poline

2002 Changing Borders and Identities in the Kelabit Highlands: Anthropological Reflections on Growing Up Near an International Border, Dayak Studies, Contemporary Society Series, No. 1. Kota Samarahan: Penerbit Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.

Banks, Edward

1936a The Kelabit Country, Sarawak Gazette, July 1, 1936, 158-159.

1936b Some Megalithic Remains from the Kelabit Country in Sarawak with some notes on the Kelabits Themselves. Sarawak Museum Journal IV(15):411-437.

Bian, Baru

2000 Native Customary Land Rights in Sarawak: The Impact of Adong's Case, Paper presented at the International Workshop on Customary Land Rights, Recent Developments, Faculty of Law, University of Malaya. 18-19 February 2000.

Brosius, J. Peter

1986 River, Forest and Mountain: The Penan Gang Landscape. The Sarawak Museum Journal 36 (57) (New Series): 173-184.

Chan, Henry

1991 Historical Development and the Land Tenure of Belaga Kayan. M.A. Thesis, University of Malaya.

Chong Ah Onn

1954 Some Kelabit Customs and Practices. The Sarawak Gazette, September 30, 1954.

Cramb, Robert A.

1986 The Evolution of Iban Land Tenure. Working Paper No. 39. Department of Economics. Clayton: Monash University.

Douglas, R. S.

1907 A Journey into the Interior of Borneo to Visit the Kelabit Tribes. Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 49: 53.

1912 An Expedition to the Bah Country. Sarawak Museum Journal 1(1): 17-29.

Eghenter, C.

2000 Mapping Peoples' Forest: The Role of Mapping in Planning Community-Based Management of Conservation areas in Indonesia, Peoples Forests and Reefs (PeFor) Program Discussion Paper Series, Biodiversity Support Program, Washington, D.C.

Fleming, Mary E.

1963 Observations on the Megalithic Problem in Eastern Asia. Bulletin of the Institute of Ethnology Academis Sinica (Taipei), 15:153-162.

Gill, Nicholson, A. Paterson and M. Japanagka Kennedy

2001 Murphy, do you want to delete this? Hidden Histories and Hidden Landscapes in the Murchison and Davenport Ranges, Northern Territory, Australia. Paper presented at the Conference on the Resonance of Knowledge, AITSIS, 18-20 September 2001, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.

Harley, J. Brian

1987 Silences and Secrecy: The Hidden Agenda of Cartography in Early Modern Europe. Paper read at the XIIth International Conference on the History of Cartography, Paris, September, 1987.

1988 Maps, Knowledge and Power, IN: Dennis Cosgrove and Stephen Daniels, eds., The Iconography of Landscape: Essays on the Symbolic Representation, Design and Use of Past Environments. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Quoted in Woods (2000:78).

1991 What Happens When We've Made a Map? Unpublished lecture given at Pennsylvania State University, p. 9. Quoted in Wood (1992:150).

Harrisson, Tom

1950 Fishing in the Far Uplands of Borneo. Sarawak Museum Journal 5(2):274-287.

1954 Outside influences on the Upland Culture of Kelabits in North Central Borneo. Sarawak Museum Journal 6(4):104-125.

1958 A living Megalithic in Upland Borneo. Sarawak Museum Journal 8(12):694-701.

1959 Worm Within: A Borneo Story. Singapore: Oxford University Press.

1962a A Dying Megalithic of North Borneo, Sarawak Museum Journal 10(19-20): 386-389.

1962b Megaliths of Central Borneo and Western Malaya Compared. Sarawak Museum Journal 10(19-20):376-383.

1973 Megalithic Evidences in East Malaysia: An Introductory Summary. Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society Vol. 46(1):123.

1974 The Megalithic in East Malaysia. II: Stone Urns from the Kelabit Highlands. Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 47(1):105-109.

Harrisson, Tom and Barbara Harrisson

1971 The Pre-history of Sabah. Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Society.

Harrisson, Tom and S. O'Connors

1971 Gold-foil Burial Amulets on Bali, the Philippines and Borneo. Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 44:71-77.

Hoare, Alison

2002 Cooking the Wild: The Role of the Lundayeh of the Ulu Padas (Sabah, Malaysia) in Managing Forest Foods and Shaping the Landscape, Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Kent at Canterbury.

Huggan, Graham

1994 Territorial Disputes, Maps and Mapping Strategies in Contemporary Canadian and Australian Fiction. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Ingold, Tim

2000 The Perception of the Environment. Essays in Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. London and New York: Routledge.

Jamuh, George

1950-1 Jerunei. Sarawak Museum Journal 5: 62-8.

Janovski, M.

1987 The Motivating Forces behind Recent Changes in the Wet Rice Agriculture System in the Kelabit Highlands. Sarawak Gazette CXIII, 1504, pp. 9-20.

Keith, H. G.

1947 Megalithic Remains in North Borneo. Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 20(1): 153-5.

Labang, Lian

1958 An Upland Stone Story. Sarawak Museum Journal 8(11):402-404.

Lembat, Gerunsin

1994 Native Customary Land and Adat. A Paper presented at the Seminar on NCR Land Development, Kuching, Sarawak, 29 September-3 October 1994.

Lian-Saging, R.

1977 An Ethno-History of the Kelabit Tribe of Sarawak: A Brief Look at the Kelabit Tribe before World War II and after, 1976/77. Unpublished Undergraduate Thesis for Bachelor of Arts, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur.

Loofs, H. H. E.

1967 Elements of the Megalithic Complex in South East Asia: An Annotated Bibliography. Canberra: Centre of Oriental Studies with Australian National University Press.

Metcalf, Peter

1981 A Borneo Journey into Death." Berawan Eschatology from Its Rituals. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Milton, Katherine

1992 Civilizations and Its Discontents, Natural History (March):39

Mjoberg, E.

1925 An Expedition to Kelabit country and Mt. Murud, Sarawak. Geograpical Review, 15:418.

Monmonier, M.

1991 How To Lie With Maps. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Moulton, J. C.

1912 An Expedition to Mount Batu Lawi. Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 63:1-19.

Murang, Ose'

1998 Migration in Sarawak--The Kelabit Experience. Sarawak Development Journal 3(1):1-11.

2000 Development Potentials of the Kelabit Highlands. Unpublished paper. Ngidang, D.

2000 A Clash between Culture and Market Forces: Problems and Prospect for Native Customary Rights Development in Sarawak. IN: Michael Leigh, ed., Environment, Conservation and Land. Kuching: Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, pp. 237-250.

Peluso, Nancy

1995 Whose Woods Are These? Counter-mapping Forest Territories in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Antipode 27(4):382-406.

Richards, A. J. N.

1961 Sarawak Land Law and Adat. Kuching: Sarawak Government Printer. Rowntree, L.B.

1996 The Cultural Landscape Concept in American Human Geography, IN: C. Earle, K. Mathewson, and M. Kenzer, eds., Concepts in Human Geography. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, pp. 127-159.

Rundstorm, Robert

1990 A Cultural Interpretation of Inuit Map Accuracy. Geographical Review 80(2).

Sather, Clifford

1990 Trees and Tree Tenure in Paku Iban Society: The Management of Secondary Forest Resources in a Long Established Iban Community. Borneo Review 1(1): 17-40.

Schneeberger, W.F.

1945 The Kerayan-Kelabit Highlands of Central Northeast Borneo. Geographical Journal 25:423.

Scott, James C.

1998 Seeing Like a State. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Southwell, Hudson

1999 Uncharted Waters. Calgary: Astana Publishers.

Talla, Yayha

1979 The Kelabit of the Kelabit Highlands, Clifford Sather, ed. Provisional Report, Social Anthropology Section, School of Comparative Social Sciences, Pulau Pinang: Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Thompson, Morris M.

1979 Maps for Americans: Cartographic Products of the US Geological Survey and Others, Dept of the Interior, Washington DC., 1979, p. 27. Quoted in Woods.

Unjah, Walter

1954-55 The Stone of Demong, Sarawak Museum Journal Vol. VI(12):61-64.

Wood, Dennis, with J. Fels

1992 The Power of Maps. London: Routledge.

Ramy Bulan, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Malaya, and currently Ph.D. student, The Australian National University.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Borneo Research Council, Inc
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Research Notes
Author:Bulan, Ramy
Publication:Borneo Research Bulletin
Geographic Code:90SOU
Date:Jan 1, 2003
Words:21975
Previous Article:Orang Kaya Pemancha Kalong Anak Jemat: 1910-2003.
Next Article:Transformation of the Iban land use system in post independence Sarawak.
Topics:


Related Articles
Interethnic ties along the Kalimantan-Sarawak border: the Kelabit and Lun Berian in the Kelabit-Kerayan Highlands. (Research Notes).
Sarawak news.
Changing Borders and Identities in the Kelabit Highlands: Anthropological Reflections on Growing up in a Kelabit Village near the International...
Notes from the editor.
Transformation of the Iban land use system in post independence Sarawak.
Health in the Borneo Highlands: the Bario Kelabit.
Monica Janowski. The Forest, Source of Life: The Kelabit of Sarawak.
Land use is top global environmental concern.
The diary of a district officer: Alastair Morrison's 1953 trip to the Kelabit Highlands.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters