The Orang Ulu tribes of Sarawak

July 21, 2013 by  
Filed under Sarawak

The orang ulu, which also means the “up-river-dwellers”, is a tribe living in Central Borneo. They are made up of a few tribes. They are the Kenyah, Kayan, Berawan, Kelabit, the Lun Bawang, Penan and a few other minor tribes. Each of the tribes skill set are also unique on their own as each of them has their own talent in different categories.

Like the hornbill in the skies, MASWings will fly you to Sarawak to admire the work and the speciality of each one of the tribes.

items used by the Orang Ulu in Sarawak

items used by the Orang Ulu in Sarawak

One of the tribes, the Kayans is warlike, conservative and religious people. They live in the main territories in central Borneo.  The Kayans tribe is considered to be the most skillful in handicraft compared to the other tribes in Borneo. They are also believed to be the original tribe in Sarawak who loves to decorate their bodies with tattoos.

The Kenyah, are said to be the finest people in Sarawak. With a fairer skin than that of Sea Dayaks or Kayans, they also have a nice body structure and also the most courageous and intelligent tribe compared to the others. Besides that, they are also hospitable and improvident, sociable and of pleasant manners. The specialties of the Kenyah tribe are their handicraft, such as, baskets, mats and weapons and also tools such as the blow-pipes.

House made by the Orang Ulu tribe in Sarawak

House made by the Orang Ulu tribe in Sarawak

The houses made by the orang ulu of Sarawak are mostly similar except for the Penans. However, eventhough with the similar architectural build, each of the houses will still be different as their skills differ from one another. The Ibans, for example, built houses could accommodate tens of other families. They are usually built around 30 feet above the ground supported by stilts made from Berlian wood or Ironwood. Their houses are built like that of a terrace house, each connected to each other and each room comprise of one family. To separate the chiefs’ room from the normal rooms, the chiefs’ room is built to be longer than that of an average room. Upper-class families, such as the chiefs’ relatives, are located at the side of the chief room and may also be bigger than that of an average room.

The Kayan men also decorate themselves based on what they have achieved. They pierce their ear and the object worn by them shows their standing as a warrior. The younger Kayan man who have not been in war are only allowed to wear discs of wood or wax whereas those who have fought in a war would decorate themselves with the canine tooth of a tiger-cat and those who brought home a head or is considered a hero in a war will wear a similar shape of adornment but craft with the beak of a hornbill.

One of the orang ulu tribes in Sarawak

One of the orang ulu tribes in Sarawak

The tribes in Sarawak like to decorate themselves with tattoos. However, the most elaborate tattoos are considered to be from the Kayan tribe. The Kayans are popular with their dog design figures, displaying it in most of their arts. Their design of the dog figure is also copied by a large number of other tribes. A tattoo artist will used tools consisting of two or three prickes, and an iron striker which are kept in a wooden case.

In war, the weapons used by the orang ulu, especially the Kayan and Kenyah, are the wooden shield, the sword and a spear and weapons which are to be a gifts to another will be decorated with human hair. They are creative people as their designs and decoration from tattoos to weapons and musical instruments are made beautifully.

The orang ulu of Sarawak are tribes worth learning about. Enjoy the beauty of their houses, tattoos and also weapons. Learn more about the rest of the orang Ulu and enjoy Sarawak. Book your flights now at www.Maswings.com.my

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