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Betang House, Dayak Traditional House

1 January 2011 1,837 views No Comment

In the past, the Dayak tribes who resided in Borneo always live in groups. Where the live every aspects of their life together and it was manifested in a work called the Huma Betang(Betang House).

Betang has unique characteristics that can be observed from the elongated shape and have only a staircase and entrance into it. Stairs as a means of connecting to the betang called hejot.

Betang built high from the ground surface is intended to avoid things that are unsettling the occupants of betang, such as enemy that can come suddenly, the beast, or the flooding that sometimes hit betang. Almost all betang can be found on the outskirts of big rivers in Kalimantan.

Betang was usually built large, can reach 30-150 feet in length and about 10-30 feet in width, it has a pole that is about 3-5 meters. Betang is built using high quality wood materials, namely ironwood (Eusideroxylon zwageri T et B), in addition to having strength that can stand up to hundreds of years as well as anti-termite.

Betang is usually inhabited by 100-150 people,you can certainly guess the atmosphere in it. Betang can be considered as the tribe home, because it has one big family in it that is led ‘Pambakas Lewu'(tribe head). Betang is divided into several rooms occupied by each family.

On the front of Betang usually there is a hall as a place to receive guests as well as traditional meeting place. There is also a statue called Sapundu. Sapundu is a statue, or totems, which generally in human form that has a distinctive carvings. Sapundu has a function as a place to tie the animals to be sacrificed for the ceremonial procession. Sometimes there are also patahu or house of worship.

On the back of betang can be found a small hall called tukau used as warehouses for storing agricultural equipmenta, such as lisung or Halu. There is also a place that serve as weapons storage area, the place was called bawong. On the front or the back usually there is a place called ‘sandung’. Sandung is a place so sotre bones of the deceased family member that have gone through the ‘tiwah’ ceremony.

One of the Dayak tribe habit is raising animals such as dogs, birds, cats, pigs, or cows. In the past, the Dayak tribe never ever want to eat dog meat, because the Dayak tribe has considered the dog as a faithful companion who always accompany especially when in the forest. Because of that too, the dog was also given a name like a human.

Very unfortunate as the modernization of the buildings today, betang house is now almost at extinction, despite the fact that Betang is the manifestation and form of spirit and togetherness of Dayak tribe. It may really extincts one day, but it is still our responsibility to keep the spirit of Huma betang.

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