Sunday, November 04, 2007

:: Penan

sedang berehat di pondok... sayang... tiada buluh sumpitannya bersama

The Penans are shy forest nomads who live in deep in virgin jungle in Central Borneo, mostly in the Miri and Kapit divisions of Sarawak. The Penan's forest habitat happens to be in Sarawak's most valuable timber forest, which explains the main clashes they have suffered with loggers.

While some Penan have taken to longhouse living, the majority continue to live as nomads. Among the most primitive tribes in Sarawak, the Penan live in temporary shelters of palm leaf and tree bark close to their food sources, usually a good stand of wild sago trees. These shelters are abandoned when the Penan food supply is spent, or there is a death in the family.

The Penan men are skilled in the making and use of blowpipes. These require much skill and patience. A wood beam is fixed to a drilling platform, and bored by manual labour. The pipe is then trimmed and polished. The Penan blowpipe poison, made from upas trees, is carefully dosed according to prey.

The womenfolk make lovely baskets and mats. These handicraft is a source of income, used in barter trades for the few items they need from the outside world, including salt, cloth and tobacco. Their staple diet consists of wild sago, and they are contented to live on game, fish and forest plants. It is the policy of the Sarawak government to persuade the nomadic Penans to settle down. Schools and long houses have been built to induce them to discontinue the nomadic lifestyle.