Honey Tree Song, 9-10


9. "Festivals, Greetings, ... and Farewells"

pp. 337-342 9.2 Parap Jon Ton ("Welcoming Song")

[Balui Kayan – Belaga, 7th Division]

p. 337

"Belulok Nunyang was a great mythical Kayan hero, celebrated in tekena songs, the long stories in song form of the ancient heroes; and Ipong Pela Lere, ... the longhouse, was the home of the heroes of some of the songs."

p. 338

"the legendary drum was alive, had a soul, spoke, sang, and flew ... . ...

Other objects that fly in legend ... are the dancing cloak (sunong), ... made of animal skins and adorned with shells and feathers ..., and

the shield (kelebit), also airborn. The shield figures in the Kenyah song "Here Comes Ubong, Daughter of Kilah Lenjau," the boy flying on his shield, the girl on her hat."

p. 341

"Wings outspread, how the drum goes flying!

From Linge Bulan, this place of clear moonlight, the sound rises,

calling back souls from where they stray".

pp. 346-347 9.4 Kanirok ("Entertainment Song")

[Kenyah -- Upper Baram, 4th Division]

p. 347

"I will tell the story of what is called the Kanirok song ... . I was first made by a powerful man of ancient times, a young man named Uyau Abing Lian, the young man also called Uyau Lian Sigau."

pp. 350-351 9.7 Chok Karochok Uton Ilon ("Joke Song of Uton Ilon")

[Kenyan -- Upper Baram, 4th Division] ("Uton Ilon is the lady in question.")


__ of the house of Uton Ilon

are __

of the __










nails for the beams




nails for the planks


clouded leopard


pegs for hats




10. "The Ending and Thereafter"

pp. 358-359 death & souls of the dead

p. 358

"For honored persons, a funeral hut (rarong) on stilts is built ... and the coffin is hung within. If a descendant is so directed in a dream, the bones may be transferred to a jar".


"The Melanau help the spirit of the dead to depart properly by way of funeral games and songs ... . A fishtrap is stolen, dressed in men’s clothes, given a coconut shell head – and the construction is rocked until it "dances," ... to evince the spirit, joining the group for one last shared celebration."


"The Bidayuh "Song of Death" transforms ... details. ...The shirt hung on the lansat tree becomes the terasak bird in the cemetery. The boat made of cucumber skin repeats".

p. 359

"Kenyah "Story of the Death of People," ... Led by Sigau, the big blue fly, the group plots treachery as it travels the Underworld stream. ... Who[m]ever the fly messengers meet, they betray".


"The Kayan "Prayer for People Who Are Dead" asks the gods to guide the dead spirits".

p. 363 10.3 Sido ("Dirge")


"Anan Udun, woman with the beautiful face, ...

Bring Lipang of Pa> Karayan;

bring A>ang Aleng of Pa> Pidang;

bring Dayang Ibun, wife of Balang Lipang,

who lives at Liang Ra>an Liwan;

bring Udan, son of Palad Mayung,

who lives at Liang Ra>an Liwan."

pp. 370-375 10.8 Ngipet Kelunan Matai ("Story of the Death of People")

[Kenyah -- Upper Baram, 4th Division]


voyage by death-gods through the world of the dead


"Sigau Langau Kalusan, the big blue-colored fly. ...

He ... buzzes ... : "... I know how to awaken the dead,

by smoothing my medicine all over the body." ...

He goes to the house where all his friends live.

"... Let us go visiting, flying through the world of the sky ... ."


Laeng goes, he whose final death push is to finish people.


Lusat goes, he who is to wait, sitting and leaning against the verandah railing.


Ibau Along goes, he who is to stand guard at the mouth of the door of the victim.


All his friends group together at the underworld Malau stream,

which roars like a waterfall.

They pull the boat to the stream, that boat of theirs ...

the rope of which looks like a snake.

Upstream along the Malau they go, taking their big longboat. ...


There along the river they meet ... Lawai, the crocodile,

in the river in front of a roaring waterfall.

"Please let us pass thru this waterfall," they ask. ...

Then Lawai lets them pass thru. ...


Farther up the river they meet Asong Lidong,

dragon spirit of the whirlpool, a female spirit ... . ...

Asong Lidong lets them pass thru. ...


Slowly they arrive at the landing place of a village. ...


Those people ... walk straight to the end of the longhouse. ...

At the bottom of the notched steps stands Uyat,

the carved wooden figure who waits for people

at they approach the foot of the steps. {cf. carven wooden statues of deities in Xibalba, the Kic^e` world of the dead, according to the Popol Vuh} ...

Those people say : "... You are just like a women, bringing bad luck,

because the clothing of women brushes past you every day."

Then Uyat lets them pass thru.


They climb up the notched steps, and there at the top of the steps they meet Lian. ...

He lets them walk thru. ...


They select guards among themselves –

signaling Laeng to lean lounging against the wall,

signaling Lawai to lean lounging against the verandah railing,

signaling Ivong to go within the room and use the tool that cuts off the breath.


He approaches the room. At the mouth of the room he meets Asong Long. ["Asong Long, the woman ... at the mouth of the door of the sick man’s room." (p. 375)] ...

Then Asong Long lets him go in.


At once Ivong goes and sits upon the sick man’s forehead, and

at once the breathing of the sick man stops.

"Do not stay too long inside the room – come out now," calls Ibau Along. ...

Then they bring the dead man outside. ...


They bring him onto the flat land and leave him there, alone. ...


As he goes on his way, he meets a woman called Mhang. ...


He continues walking and he meets Suling. ...


Slowly he passes by, continuing until the place along the way where he meets Lalang. ...


Farther on he meets Uson, a woman pounding rice along the way. ...


The man again meets Asong Long ... . Asong Long shows him the path to follow. He follows as shown, but then ... tries to find Asong Long again, but cannot find her. ...

Then he meets a group of people who are dead and who ask them to follow them. ... They convince him to come along with them, telling him they have a good place to stay, a good longhouse and good food. Therefore he follows them to their home, joining the community in the land of the dead."

Carol Rubenstein : The Honey Tree Song : Poems and Chants of Sarawak Dayaks. Ohio U Pr, Athens, 1985. [in Sarawak, the authoress "moved and sat with the women" (p. 14)]

p. 379 "Much of this work written by Carol Rubenstein was first documented in Poems of Indigenous Peoples of Sarawak : Some of the Songs and Chants, Parts 1 & 2, Sarawak Museum Journal, Vol. 21, No. 42, Special Monograph No. 2 (listed for sequence as July 1973, published June 1975)."