Honey Tree Song, 2-4


2. "Chants of Initiation"

p. 110

"the Red hat Ceremony (Gawai Labong Singut) for young Bidayuh women" : "With red hats ... and small jars for their souls, the young Bidayuh women appear ... . In her trance the initiate meets with her spirit husband, a love object whom she can ever after invoke and visit, similar to the personal spirit guide who aids the shaman. Only with difficulty is she restored to the mundane world, flutes having been blown at her ears."


Bidayuh similes for body-parts of prospective bride :-





bitten by leaf-wasp



ruined hammer with edges curled over



bamboo spear



bail for bailing water from boat



giradi fruit



"wobble unevenly like a jelly mushroom"

p. 110-1


hole of the timaguh bird

p. 111


sago log



Sibangan hill



keladi yam growing in swamp

pp. 116-117 2.3 Ngilanyur Pigumon Inya Bangun (Prayer while Bathing the Initiates of the Red Hat Caerimony in Coconut Juice)

[Biatah Bidayuh – Serian, 1st Division]

p. 116

"spirits of the grandmothers of the souls,


"grandmother of Gura,


grandmother of Santam,


grandmother of Rindang,


grandmother of Sahui,


grandmother of Mantun, mother of Nyawit,


Buran Mudah, mother of Marai,


Dayang Janai, mother of Nya,


Bumbum Bunga, mother of Untuh,


Lalai Kunyit, mother of Panti,


Mumpang Parai, mother of Muli,


grandmother of Ichuk, mother of Juwun,


grandmother of Ampul, mother of Luwui,


grandmother of Bagut, mother of Runai,


grandmother of Alig, mother of Rantai,


grandmother of Ilam, mother of Minyak,


Dandar Buran, mother of Raja.


(Continuing with twenty-four additional grandmother spirits.)"

pp. 122-128 2.5 Tingiring Nyamun Anak Ihang ("Prayer to Nurse the Son of the Soul – the Spirit Husband Searching for his Wife on Earth")

[Biatah Bidayuh – Serian, 1st Division]


activity or object

simile for it



"tajug lizard splashing itself"


scraper for turmeric root

"thorny regu grass"


his earrings

"red chilli"


tusks (on his sintagi necklace)

"curving like the new moon"



"green as the tree lizard"


"anklets made of baruh fibers"

"rambui leaves, which turn yellow when boiled."


"dawn sun

big as the drum"


"little bells

shaped like the raui fruit."


"the mouth organ made from ijok palm fronds,

sounding closeby like a growling bear."


"the mouth organ made of padi stalks,

souding like cooing pigeons.


Turning it the other way around,

it sounds like a parrot."


"the violin

sounds like poisonous toads.


He plays it the other way around

to make a funny sound like the deep gulping of frogs."



"the only girl in a family"

"the only seed in the guava fruit."


"her everyday earrings"

"blossoms of the siroi plant"


"Her rottan belt"

"blood of the dying sambhur deer"


"Girdling her hips are all of her silver belts,

looking like the sucking rows of ntagur fish in a pool"


"her eyes"

"young betelnuts."

p. 122 "lathering ... with the langir fruit skin"

p. 126 "The steps are made from the regang nyindai tree,

the handrails are made from the regang kikas tree."

"The lightweight gumalai {cf. /GaMeLan/} wood that grows at the bend of the river, ... one string made of pirandis rottan, the second and third strings of strong mountain rottan – the violin"

p. 127 "Wishing to go to an oversexy girl, but saying, "No, ... she roves too freely. ... too much roving is hated by the soul of the spirit husband. ...""

p. 128 "The biluluk nuts are in the excretion of the palm civet cat;

the nunuk fruit is in the excretion of the laughing mynah bird."

pp. 129-132 2.6 Ngayau

[Kenyah -- Upper Baram, 4th Division]

p. 129 "Calling the Hawk"

p. 130 "Blessing with the Sang leaves (Laki Sang)"

p. 131 "Calling the Spirit of the Chicken (Bali Yap)"


"Bali Nyelong, creating spirit of the world, ...

as we follow along into the future."


p. 129 "Bali Plaki, hawk spirit"


"Bali Yap, spirit of the chicken. ... send us your wisdom"


"spirit of the siap who guards the household,


"Laeng Lingai, spirit of shadow"

Jalong Jok, spirit of spirit mediums,


"Jok Irang, spirit of the croton plant"

Jok Irang, spirit of the croton plant, ...

"Spirit of the croton plant"


"spirit of the siap,

"spirit of the apoi batu tuloi, ceremonial stone shaped round as the moon"

spirit of the apoi batu tuloi, ceremonial stone shaped round as the moon"

spirit of the apoi batu tuloi"

"Spirit of the siap, guard him from his enemies"



3. "Courtship, Marriage"

p. 134 secret nocturnal courtship visits

"unmarried young men and women ... are expected to get to know each other privately, during secret night visits. This they do by following the courtship custom of ngayap. ...

Among the Kayan, Kenyah, and kelabit, the young men send messages to the young women, who then visit the men where they sleep apart from the others in the family room.

Among the Iban and Bidayuh, the men do the visiting. ...

An unmarried Iban woman generally sleeps in her family’s loft. If her bed is in the family room, as among the Bidayuh, it is placed near the door, ... tempting. ...

Ngayap is ... licensing perpetual orgy. ... Having had many lovers prior to marriage is considered praiseworthy."

p. 135 "strict class distinctions are maintained... . Formerly, any transgression against caste caused the deaths of both".

p. 139 3.2 Duwa Buran ("Spell to Attract the Lover You Want")

[Bidayuh – Serian, 1st Division]

"This spell is best cast during the time of the full moon. One should ... go beneath the overhang of the roof. There one should stand upon a mortar, while standing on one leg only (the raised foot crossing the standing knee), and say the following spell."

"The side of the moon and the full face of the moon, seven kelaseh leaves ... ."

pp. 139-141 3.3 Bibajo

[Bidayuh – Serian, 1st Division]

p. 140

"was cared for ... from the beginning of her mother’s pregnancy

when she was as big as the seed of the payang fruit, and then

when she was big as the pumpkin when it flowers,

until she was born and laid on an ubang leaf ... . ...


She is the central star and also

she is like the small tiges parrot whose neck is long."

p. 141

her __



sides of her body

"sliced band of timaran bark."


ring on her finger

"the red eye of a prawn"



"blue dye."

pp. 143-146 3.6 Ayun Sampah ("Song of Mixed Type like Slices")

[Bidayuh – Serian, 1st Division]


__ tree

groweth in __



padi field






"beside the bridge."



"beside the bridge."


My __




"grinder for grinding ginger roots."



"bamboo container for cooking deer liver."


"spoon for scooping the cooked jackfruit out of the pot."

pp. 161-162 3.21 Balian Kenai Ubong Kilah Lenjau ("Here Comes Ubong, Daughter of Kilah Lenjau") [Kenyah – Upper Baram, 4th Division]

p. 161

"Here comes Ubong, gliding on her hat from the hillrise --- ...

Baling goes flying high thru the air. ...

p. 162

Simply she crosses her legs across Baling Kasing. ...

Baling ... carefully lifts up one corner of the split skirt of Ubong Kilah Lenjau. ... the loveliness of the body of Ubong Kilah Lenjau."

p. 161 "In Kenyah song and legend the girl is often described as traveling thru the air on her flying hat and the boy as riding on his flying shield." {Flying shields are likewise ridden upon in Hopi legends.}

p. 163 3.22 Gawai Sawan Banan ("Blessing of the Wedding")

[Biatah Bidayuh – Kuching, 1st Division]


is spirit of the __


highest god


guardian of human beings



Gamut & Dandan

protecting the couple’s ancestors


roof of the house

Kasu Parang

beams of the house


4. "Hunting and Gathering"

p. 174

[Melanau] "Swinging-Game Song" : "The swing is the vehicle used by shamans to travel in time and space, entering th trance state, and used by bards to enter the world of song."

p. 175

[Bidayuh] "Honey Tree Song" : "Climbing a tree so high that he enters the upside-down world, Sebauk climbs down to where the roots face upwards. He visits the Grandfather of the Moon and the Grandfather of the Seven Stars, who teach him the farming rites, which he brings back to earth. The act of climbing the tree and returning also parallels the otherworld journey by which the shaman enters sacred space in the earth or sky and returns with esoteric knowledge."

pp. 182-186 4.7 Barih Simpon Raseh ("Honey Tree Song of Raseh")

[Bidayuh – Serian, 1st Division]

p. 182

sounds made by insects :-

the __

maketh __

rhinoceros beetle

"heavy gurgling sound"


"high insisting sound"

p. 183

animal planters of honey-tree :-

tiny short-quilled porcupine and his wife

big long-quilled porcupine and his wife




Carol Rubenstein : The Honey Tree Song : Poems and Chants of Sarawak Dayaks. Ohio U Pr, Athens, 1985.