Honey Tree Song, 8


8. "Disaster, Sickness, and Healing"

pp. 282-283 magical cures for sicknesses

p. 282

" "... like the flying fox flying over the rambutan fruit, ... let ... the sickness fly away to the sky." Thus ends the Bidayuh "Prayer to Divine (the Cause of) Sickness by Water and Rice.""


"Midwives often perform a variety of shamanic activity. They might combine the trance experience with spells, charms, prayers, utterances".

p. 283

"The Penan, when their children fall ill, offer a white chicken to the spirits but do not kill it. They also invoke the Rhinoceros hornbill, as the loud beating of its wings is thought capable of ejecting the illness."


"The Dayak believe that the human being has several souls. ... If any souls leave the body, sickness results. ... the individual will fall ill, as the souls will run away like an unloved child or animal. ... Shamans try to gather the scattered souls, sometimes attracting them with small bells."

p. 284 similes of husband’s body

his __

like unto __


pasah bamboo


barah bamboo


temurus padi plant

pp. 285-286 shamanism among Dayak in general

p. 285

"Authentication of the shaman" : "Supernatural powers must appear to the would-be shaman in a dream, demanding that he or she take on the calling. Once summoned, he typically suffers madness, especially if he resists. ... Therefore, he or she calls on an interior spirit guide for help in the perilous journey between worlds. By way of trance, the shaman penetrates the dreadful realm of the disease and discovers its cause. Upon the return of the shaman to the mundane world, released from sacred trance, his sanity is restored. And now, possessing esoteric knowledge given only at the discretion of

p. 286

the Underworld creatures, he treats the patient, who experiences the cure.

Shamans claim unconsciousness of what occurs during trance."

shamans & shamanesses in specific tribes

p. 40

"The Melanau shaman must be a woman. ... she swings on a swing, chanting and entering trance, and becomes possessed by one or another volatile spirit guide".

p. 286

how a male Bidayuh became a shaman : "In a dream, the spirit of the gagek bird from Bukit Gunong Lidang, the mountain sacred to Sarawak shamans, directed him to become a shaman. This spirit tried to drive him mad, as did another spirit called Bujang Palasi. Later, those same spirits taught him theprayers, guided him in his underworld journeys, and directed him to the spiritual stone and the oil which can cure madness, blessing these talismans for him. ... When [he] was considered sufficiently steeped in shamanic practices, he was ordained to full activity. Long-time spirit mediums came from afar to bless the new shaman among them."


"The healing spirit ("the song within the body," say the Penan) arrives via the human medium".

p. 287

"In the "Trance Song of Spirit Medium," ... a female Kenyah shaman, refers frequently to poweful figures taking over her personality : "I come, I, Lawai, spirit of the crocodile".

p. 288

Kenyah shamaness : "She said ... that since childhood the spirits, often in the form of animals, have spoken through her."

p. 287 "the shaman in a class-structured Dayak society usually came from the prostitute class. ... a shaman ... would ... have to live with the prostitute class. ... the shaman ... is good at maintaining ... overtones of sexual abandon."

trance as marriage to a spirit



p. 286 "The trance experience is believed to be a form of divine intercourse, a cosmical merging with the spirit husband or wife. In the Bidayuh Red Hat Ceremony, the women undergo rituals to induce trance so that they may meet and join their own spirit husband.

The same identification of a shamaness’s trance with the praesence of his spirit-husband is to be found in the "Songs of the South" : "Originating from the state of Chu in around the 4th century B.C.E., ... Chu as a ... culture under the religious aegis of shamans, ... founders of the Han dynasty were from Chu, and at the time of the "Songs of the South," Chu controlled much of the territory south of the Yangzi River.

The existence of a spirit wife is also recognized. The only males ... to experience trance in the Red Hat Ceremony are shamans".

The most striking and memorable of the "Songs of the South" is a long narrative poem the title of which, "Li sao," is usually translated as "Encountering Sorrow." ... Qu Yuan, the author of "Li Sao," ... rode a "phoenix-figured cart" yoked to "jade dragons," and traveled to many realms where spirits and gods dwell. He spoke of wooing various spirit maidens", of whom the female "mountain ghost" was (as depicted by Xu Beihong) "riding a black tiger".

"The Shangqing texts described the encounters of Yang Xi, who received the texts, with the "Perfected," or "True Ones," who declared themselves to be higher deities than those who had visited the Celestial Masters. One section described the betrothal and spirit marriage between Yang Xi and one of the Perfected females." http://www.patheos.com/Explore/Library/Daoism/Beliefs/Sacred-narratives.html

The journey by C^>u-yuen is detailed in ESRI, pp. 86-90.

ESRI = Joseph Edkins : The Early Spread of Religious Ideas. 1893. http://www.archive.org/stream/spreadofideas00edkiuoft/spreadofideas00edkiuoft_djvu.txt

(Besides the set of "9 songs" in the C^u "Songs of the South", there is also a Norse set of "9 songs", those of Sigrdrifa.)

p. 289 8.1 Tivai Mebet Sakit (Prayer to Praevent Sickness)

[Silat Penan -- Upper Baram, 4th Division]

"Bale Marau, spirit of the rainbow,

cow spirit living in the earth who makes the rainbow.

Make a wall of resin ... .

We are afraid of being touched by sickness ... .

Bale Mama, spirit of ill health;

Bale Dam, spirit of fever,

Bale Penyakit, spirit of all sicknesses."

p. 290 8.3 Tivai Minga Langit (Prayer of Shouting to the Sky to Praevent Calamity)

[Silat Penan -- Upper Baram, 4th Division]

"Bale Gau, spirit of thunder, ...

Bale Utong, guardian spirit, and

Bale Munai, spirit of human seed -- ...

We fear being struck by falling trees, being struck by falling branches. ...

Bale Tanah, spirit of the earth,

Bale Pu>un, spirit of the origin arisen;

Bale Munai, spirit of human seed;

Bale Suwai, spirit making grow the human being within the body. ...

We stand, all of us together, shouting to the sky –

we are afraid of landslides, we are afraid

the land will break apart leaving nothing beneath us,

we are afraid of land crumbling under our feet."

p. 291 8.4 Bacha Pontianak ("Spell to Avert Attack by the Female Spirit Pontianak on the Testicles of Men")

[Bidayuh – Serian, 1st Division]

"to cook your flesh, the liver of Pontianak."

p. 282 This spell "protects against her curse on men, which she screamed while dying in childbirth."

p. 291 8.5 Bacha Ujan Jala ("Spell on the Net of the Sun Shower")

[Bidayuh – Serian, 1st Division]

"The hairy betel leaf and the hairy betelnut are placed at the foot of the kayu ara tree. The tall wild-man demon has hair".

"When the rain and sun come at the same time, a "sun shower," it is thought to be a net thrown to ... catch human beings. To avert damage, [betel] leaves must be put behind both ears {in order to guise one’s appearance as that of a tree-spirit?} ... . Otherwise the tall wild-man demon from the jungle might not recognize that we are beings similar to him. He might think we are ... deer, and kill and eat us. {cf. curse from "shower of rain falling through sunlight." (p. 313)}

pp. 292-294 8.7 Gawai Tiho Laban (Caerimony to Call away the Evil Caused by Incest)

[Bukar Sadong Bidayuh – Serian, 1st Division]

p. 292

"leaves of the terap fruit ... are shaken to winnow away the bad spirit of incest, which is a black cloud causing a terrible rain for punishment."

p. 293

"We ask Dara Dumun to bless the couple ... . ...

Raja Lembu, king of the bulls who carries the earth {cf. Muslim cosmic ox carrying the world}, ...

Dara Dumun, spirit of the rain".

p. 294

"let them have long life, to live ...

until they walk with bent backs leaning on a low tongs-staff,

leaning lower on half a coconut shell, and then

grasping a bamboo pipe for blowing fire, creeping close to the ground."

p. 292 "According to legend, Antung and Awang were sister and brother who married. The village people ... hung them between the earth and the sky. Raja Lembu, king of the bulls who carries the earth, came along and ... told them that they must ... hold a festival to break the incest taboo, teaching them the ceremony".

pp. 294-295 8.8 Tivai Bat Lieng ("Prayer to Throw off Evil Caused by Incest")

[Silat Penan -- Upper Baram, 4th Division]

p. 294

"You lisung leaf ... beat the air from out of ... this giant evil ... --


Bale Kedut, spirit of lazily turning back;

Bale Bayut, spirit of heaviness that overcomes;

p. 295

Bale Lieng, spirit of incest;

Bale Kajent, spirit of weakness. ...

Bale Buan, spirit of filled containers;

Bale Aran, spirit of getting what one wants ...;

Bale Leka>, spirit of swift departure".

p. 295 8.9 Tivai Anak Sakit ("Prayer to Heal a Sick Child")

[Silat Penan -- Upper Baram, 4th Division]

"Bale Oke, spirit of sores,

Bale Pali, spirit of sudden bad changes."

"you rhinoceros hornbill –

beat the air from out of ... the sickness".

pp. 296-298 8.10 Ngasa Omon Dengan Beras ("Prayer to Divine Sickness by Water and Rice")

[Bukar Sadong & Biatah Bidayuh -- Serian, 1st Division]

p. 296

"guiding spirits of the soul" :

"spirit of the grandmother of" :











"spirit of the mother of



"Buran Muda, spirit of the mother of



"Dayang Jinai, Spirit of the mother of



"grandmother guiding spirits" :

"Bumbum Bunga, mother of



"Lalai Kunyit, mother of


p. 297

"Umpang Parai, mother of


"Ichuk, mother of



"Bagut, mother of



"Alig, mother of



"Bukit Bawang, spirit mountain"


"Dara Dumun, sole grower of the rain"


"those who live at the edge of the sky" :

Bujang Nyangko Singa Bue


Umpang Pinang


Mayang Ure


Ure Mayang


Bujang Lanyo


Sibaok Bibula Dada"


"sickness of the head caused by" :





working in the padi field


mpidang fruit


top of the head


spinach seed


"sickness of the eye caused by" :

yellow blurring


dark blurring of distance


white secretions


"sickness of the ear caused by" :

very loud noise


many loud crickets


being struck on the ear


"sickness of the throat caused by" :

hollow of a small tree


hollow of a big tree


sirungos fish


"sickness of the shoulder caused by the kisapih leaf"


"sickness of the elbow caused by the tatuh plant"

p. 298

"sickness of the back that always nags, sickness of the back caused by" :

tinyang babi leaf


pingkalah burus leaf


"sickness of the knees caused by" :

tall black mushrooms


pegs on a drum


sickness of the shanks caused by "stepping over" :

"medicine called pajung giranang"


"bamboo tube of pulut rice"


"sickness of the ankle, swelling caused by the nintiring leaf"


"sickness of the sole of the feet ... caused by the bangkang timah leaf"

pp. 299-300 8.11 Kataroi Pia Bale ("Song to Return the Soul to the Sick Person")

[Akah Penan -- Upper Baram, 4th Division]

p. 299

"The belief is that when a person is sick, his soul has been captured by evil spirits. ... The cure is for Bale Kataroi, the spirit of spirit mediums and also the spirit of the song within the body, to ask the evil spirit to return the soul."

p. 300

"We are spirits equal in strength to you, evil spirits.

We spirits have certain secret names; ... and we know your secret ways ... . ...

We spirits have knowledge equal to those who know the days of luring away the soul."

pp. 301-302 8.12 Barih Inya Mayan ("Prayer Calling the Soul of the Sick back from the Underworld")

[Bukar Sadong Bidayuh – Serian, 1st Division]

p. 301

"shooting with a blowpipe

the gibbon who is calling to the moon",

the black monkey during the rainy season,

the long-tailed money whose fur is colored.


"I walk and pass the river that has no downstream,

the river that makes the soul forget that its body is dying."


"Going down the notched steps,

calling for a dog ... at the foot of the honey-orange tree."


"the omen bird I observed before coming here, the burong kuchu, ...

so that I was able to go directly to your Underworld house."

p. 302

eschew the track of

the mousedeer,

the barking deer


"Follow only the right-hand track back to our world."

pp. 302-313 8.13 Tingun Barih Nginong ... ("a group of separate prayers ... . They include :

Searching for the missing souls,

searching for the bad dream

searching on the way back from looking for souls, and

seeking and casting away the curse of bad omens.")

[Biatah & Bukar Sadong Bidayuh – Serian, 1st Division]

p. 302

"The "bowl that makes one feel ashamed" [p. 305] refers to ... semayang yasin".


"To dream that "one is in mourning, as shown by the hair" [p. 308] (bitukas) refers to the practice by women of cutting off their hair and by men of letting their hair grow long and ragged during the mourning period."


"The chapui spirits [p. 313] are the dogs of the evil spirits. These dogs look like frogs and call "pui-pui.""

p. 303

"The bamboo flute blown by the wind [p. 311] is a long bamboo tube with holes cut into it. It is attached to the top of a tree in the padi field and the wind blows through it. The result is gentle occasional music which is pleasant ... to the spirits of the padi."

pp. 303-308 8.13.1 "Searching for the Missing Soul"

p. 303

"searching with the sigaruh orange. ...

The amping leaves are shaking.

To collect the giyang string. ...


The body is smoked by the kayu ara tree spirits under the sky.

Gathering together at the foot of the timu tree. ...

p. 304

Two of the singkana leaves have fallen. ...

To sleep ... on the cold tipuh leaves. ...

The souls within one nest ..., their nest wrapped in a betelnut flower.

... they must be tied together tightly with barun leaves. ...

p. 305

The terang bird is calling from the kayu ara tree;

the pigeon is calling from the inyam tree. ...


Eating the mangosteen in order to recover."


"The __ is falling."

rag that I forgot


pieces of cloth


comb for combing the hair


golden needle


small pin for taking out splinters


"small knife for the soul"


white and shining bowl


"bowl that makes one feel ashamed"


big plate for collecting water


big expensive jar


big red valuable jar


"jabir jar"


"old basi jar"


"bingkatan jar owned by my mother"


"pilawan jar of my grandfather"


"big crocodile jar"


"The small chisel for cutting the arid tree.


... the antin sempug cloth, cloth which is like the white stork of the mountain. ...

p. 306

The nest of the soul has fallen, struck by the kandang bird. ...


Hoping for the help of Tampa ... to be hidden in the coil of your hair.


... the buan fruit, the sour fruit in the swamp. ...

The lamuh fruit appears ...;

the ramban tree bears its fruit ... . ...


The swing was made by a young man named Bujang Tasi.

Being adorned by the grandfather of the young child Tulesi. ...

p. 307

For me to visit the rai bamboo. It looks ... red ... .

... the ijok palm belonging to the grandfather of the parrot."


"The sound of the __."

"kiher insect that shakes the day."


insect boring the old dried wood


beetle during the dry summer day


"saku bird that stays near the edge of the old longhouse site"


people paddling near the riverbank


bird in the old jungle


"eagle chasing its prey"


"parrot walking among the tree branches"


"bitiang fruits dropping"


"single rhinoceros hornbill"


"falling rain falling on top of a cliff"


"betelnut dropping"

p. 308

"Which tree is to be cut down?

The para tree near the edge of the secondary jungle.


The danan rottan is for tying the deer skin,

for attaching it around the drum. ...

When the drum is hit, it sounds like the roaring tiger. ...

The mother’s drum, which looks like a belian post,

is beaten at midday : The belian-post drum of our village."

pp. 312-313 8.13.4 "Seeking and Casting Away the Curse of Bad Omens"


"To seek and cast away the curse of the __."


"spirits that startle and frighten children at night."


"spirits that make children walk in their sleep."


"dumb spirits."


"swaying spirits."


"fiddle made of bone."


"Dara Sinon."


"the bad ntabid beetles, which go crawling within the earth."


"jeering rat."


"nkula bird."


"dead come in a dream."




"bad beetles."


"child’s guardian spirits who can cause morning."


"chapui spirits calling before sunset."


"as if barking at the house, the bird’s curse that can enter the bodies of young people".


"bad omens of the" :

"makun pigeon."


"saku bird."


"raup birds."


"pimping birds."


"bees resting in their hives."


"bad omens of the tite birds."


"big ground worms that lie along the track."


"rat going inside the hole."


"bad omens of small birds."


"snake which has just come out of its old scaly skin."


"shower of rain falling through sunlight."


"blood caused by the" :

small porcupine


ordinary porcupine




palm civet cat


sambur deer


wild boar


human being

pp. 314-321 8.14 Kera Buah Barih Tuntong Panyut ("Prayer for Lighting a Torch to Search for Missing Souls by Night")

[Biatah & Bukar Sadong Bidayuh – Serian, 1st Division] (spoken by priestess)

p. 314

"To light the torch so that it becomes starlight.

To light the damar torch so that it becomes moonlight. ...

She says ... it is ... just after the full moon, as the moon begins to slide, falling in creases like the durian skin.


The minyasu trees are in full bloom. ...

It started inside of me and continued to rise ... and to make my head feel dizzy ... by smelling flowers. ...

It is the flower of the highest god Tampa,

the growing flower that makes me into a priestess. ...

The regang flowers at the slope of the mountain,

the ilau flowers growing at the edge of the boulder.

The chichuk flower and

the murai flower,

the susur from Brunei.

That is the name of the flower of ... the grandmother of the new priestess.


The grandmother of




p. 315



Sahui ...


who looks after the dam made of thread at the upper reach of Kirek river, at the uppermost reach Sikayam river ...


The seven clustered stars are lonely ...


Umung Amas, the mother of Mugi;

Antah Kacha, the mother of Amas. ...

the woman at the upper reach of Pengirusen river ...


the grandfather of Jaman;

the grandfather of Sumpoi, the father of Suli ...

the grandfather of Sisok Gayang went outside into the cloudy mist and dew ...

Rimuyan Banuh, the father of Nyrung, ...

The grandfather of the sun is very daring ... .

Dari Ala, the father of seven brothers;

the grandfather of Ijok is the raining of the honey tree in the morning ...


Didih Bulang, the father of Raja ...

Sisok Basi, the father of Rajai ...

p. 316

Liga Amas, who lives at bawang tua mountain;

Sumping Tali who has seven flowering plants;

Gumali Amas, the father of Kacha;

Gelang Bunguh, the father of Ngaya, who always hunts;

Basung Gumagi, the father of Basa ...


The husband of Jaman is really beautiful.

p. 317

... the husband draws out the single knife ... that is always ... kept stuck in between slats of gading bamboo. Pulling it out makes a loud sound, like the sound of the rhinoceros beetle in the old jungle. Waving it makes lightning such as appears during the summer. ... The sheath is as while as the moonfish inside the pool.


... the tiges bird ... is caught on top of a dedap tree ... . ...

The sitar bird is caught at the point of the river bend.

The ichah bird is caught at dawn.

The runying bird is ... caught while it is atop the kukot padi grass. ...

p. 318

The intup snake under the dead log,

the scorpion in the dried leaves,

the centerpied among ... the wild betel leaves ... . ...


The skull of the siseng, the charm that makes one unbreakable;

the small chunk of pinyang stone;

the tusk charm of the wild boar to make one unbreakable;

the bear’s tooth charm. ...


The children can be made sick by the ghost living in a big hole,

p. 319

being ill because of the talking mynah bird ...,

made sick by the demons of the long range of boulders.


To mark the forehead with a mark like two kamang spirits,

to make a mark like the buau bird,

to make a strong arch like a rainbow ... .



carries a __ basket

the color whereon is like unto that of __



"inyam leaves"



"dungan fish that wanders near the waterfall."


The edge of her sarong is colored red and black, like the cobra that lives in the pool.

p. 320

The other colors or her sarong are in red and white triangles. ...


The mother of Jawat has a ... hat ... . The top part of the hat is ... mousedeer’s fur. ... The sound of the hat is that of ringing, for many small bells are tied to the sides. Her ankle bracelets also make a loud sound. Her hair is decorated with gold ornaments which shine like the earrings of Tampa, the highest god. ...


The grandmother of Ayuh Samih, the mother of Sidu.

The golden ring, the mother of Sahin.

Sapu Ure, the mother of Kacha.

Dayang Bijak, the mother of Ngaya, who always acts like a man, like a porcupine coming out of a cave. ...

p. 321

The movements of the hand are like the kamang, like the spirits of the mountain."

p. 314 "The bati mayung hat ... was a designed conical hat, worn only by a man, with large coils of tabak bark attached to the top. The coils faced in all directions except before the face. As the priest moved and danced, he shook all the coils, something like the Chinese Dragon dance ... – they unrolled and waved". [this hat was worn by father of Jawat (p. 316)]

pp. 323-328 8.17 Dayong ("Trance Song of Spirit Medium")

[Kenyah -- Upper Baram, 4th Division]

p. 323

"I am young Lagong, the light swift isit bird ...

the Spiderhunter, this swift isit bird.


The spirit of the plaki bird has come, the hawk

which takes flight thru clouds that turn into rain ... .

I am Laeng, the plaki bird come circling ... . ...

p. 324

Here come I, Batong Asang, spirit of the cloud ... .


I am the young dragon, Bali Sungei, the spirit of the river –

it is within my power to drain the riverbed dry. {"The Palestinian folk-lore, therefore, retains the belief that there is a dragon in the Jordan." (O&PS, p. xxxv) According to the Nus.airi^, the water in the riverbed of the >urdan (Yarden / Jordan) retreated at the approach of >ano^s^ <utra.} ...


Now I come, Ingan Jalong, spirit of the light of day -- ...

I am the spirit of spirit mediums -- ...

I, Jalong, leaping past the moon. ...

p. 325

I am Lian, dumb spirit, unable to utter ... . ...


I am Lawai, spirit of the crocodile, wearing my tough garment. ...


I am Sagon Lawai, king of the frogs. ...

This is Tama Sagon, father of the frogs ... .


I am Irang Taja, spirit of taboo ... . ...


Here comes Lenjau Laeng, ...

p. 326

who comes from the mouth of the river. ...

I want to visit my mother, the Shining Moon. ...

You living at the mouth of the river of the moon. ...

I am Padan Jalong, whose house at the mouth of the river

is covered with foam, that mouth ushering forth life forever. ...


I am Lusat Jalong, ... I stay in the deepest pool of the river. ...

p. 327

Kabon Tiri Tiri, ... -- all of you young men --


Kabon Kujan Kujan, ... – all the young girls are likely to be caught ... . ...


Bali Lingai, spirit of the shadow, ...

p. 328

I, Liang, spirit of the burial ground".

O&PS = J. Rendel Harris : The Odes and Psalms of Solomon. 2nd edn, Cambridge U Pr, 1911.


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