The Dayaks of Kalimantan

A businessman boards a flight and is lucky enough to be seated next to an absolutely gorgeous woman. They exchange brief hellos and he notices she is reading a manual about sexual statistics. He asks her about it and she replies, "This is a very interesting book about sexual statistics. It identifies that American Indians have the longest average penis and Polish men have the biggest average diameter. By the way, my name is Jill. What's yours?"

He coolly replies, "Tonto Kawalski, nice to meet you."

Most travelers to this part of the world know Bill Dalton for his legendary Indonesia Handbook, an absurdly thick and comprehensive guide to traveling in Indonesia, even to the remotest islands.

But he’s also written another book on Indonesia: The Splendid Isolation of Borneo's Dayak Tribe.

But I guess he must have written this book a long while back. Cos are the Dayaks still isolated? No way. Maybe 20 years ago, sure, when a trip to Kalimantan was a journey into Conrad’s deep and mysterious jungles. But not any more. The jungles are being ripped to shreds and the logging firms are the Dayak’s new neighbors.

And the Dayaks ain’t happy at all:

For the Dayak, the natural world is important to our culture, our belief and our way of life. For thousands of years, we made peace with nature. Our every basic need is still supplied by the rain forest -- food, meat, essential material and medicine. Even our ancient beliefs: We are born of the forest, live by the forest, die and are buried in the forest. Our highest God lives on the mountain of Sabayan, which rises out of the trees. As to our belief, we are obliged to take care of nature and guard our God's home from destruction.

Meanwhile, the source of life for the Dayak and many rare species of wildlife is intensively cut and timbered. The earth is intensively mined for gold and diamonds, leaving the island bald, dry and exhausted. The Dayak people realize that their Gods are now homeless and poor. They voice their objections, but no one bothers to pay attention.

In another 15-20 years, the jungles will be completely gone. And then the Dayaks will really be in trouble. Their traditional way of life gone forever.

But while the Dayak’s environment is being destroyed, more and more young people in the West are copying the traditions of these tribes in getting ethnic tribal tattoos and body piercings.

Even if some people do take it a little too far:

But if you really wanna be different and stand out from the crowd you might want to consider getting a Palang done. This puts the French tickler to shame, and is said to be a real hit among the ladies!

It involves piercing the Glans horizontally, and the insertion of a barbell. The term "Palang" translates as "Crossbar" in Iban and can be related to the timber roof supports of the longhouses of the tribes of the area, and symbolises the protective power of the male over the family.



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