The Seen and the Unseen, 1:4-5


1:4. Je’ro^me Rousseau : "Professionalization of Religious Specialists among the Kayan". [Baluy Kayan]

pp. 131-132 specialists; reform

p. 131

"shamans are religious practitioners whose efficacy derives directly from possession by spirit helpers."

p. 132

"in the late 1940’s, the Baluy Kayan replaced their traditional religion (adat Dipuy) with an indigenous reform, adat Bungan."

pp. 145-146 dayon

p. 145, n. 1:4:3

"priests can be called "dayong duan" ("dayong who speak") ... ; ... during the dayong

p. 146, n. 1:4:3

ritual, priests utter long prayers ... . Shamans are called ... "dayong ngujut" ("dayong who pick with their fingers") ... : they extract an illness by pulling it out with their fingers ... . ... Yet another name for "shaman" is dayong Kajang. The Kajang are an ethnic category".

"in Kenyah, dayong also refers both to the religious specialist and the spirit helper".

p. 146, n. 1:4:4

people who __

are designated "__"

have dayong spirit helpers

hnda> dayong ("dayong counterparts"), or putam dayong ("entered by dayong spirits")

have dayong spirits but are not priests or shamans

dayong tua (/tua/ ‘only’)

are religious specialists

dayong lan (‘real priests’)

pp. 133-134 spirit-helpers; practitioners

p. 133

"The relationship between human and spirit is established through a dream ...; ... the patient hires a priest, who ... by means of divination {divination is also the Bodish method for discovering one’s is.t.a-devata}, ... identifies the spirit (or spirits), and reveals that these spirits with to become the familiars of the person whom they have afflicted. During the ritual, the dayong spirits come to dwell within the patient, thus curing him or her and establishing a permanent bond. {If, in effect, the "priests" are required in order to qualify the "shamans"; then these "priests" are functioning, in the organizational hierarchy, similarly to Christian bishops (episkopoi)} The attitude toward spirit helpers is somewhat similar to the traditional Catholic belief in guardian angels." {But inasmuch as Christian guardian-angels do not possess persons, therefore the Austronesian helping-spirits are actually more like Christian devils (which do possess persons).}


"The requirement to become a priest or a shaman follows from possession by specific sub-categories of dayong spirits; some of them are priestly spirits {this would appear to contradict p. 132 : "Unlike shamans, their [priests’] religious efficacy is not justified primarily by the presence of spirit helpers"}, others shamanistic spirits, and their identity establishes the nature of the religious calling : each category of spirit has a set of distinctive skills which are transferred to the human counterpart. Most religious specialists have several spirit helpers : there are so many rituals, ... that a single dayong spirit would be inadequate to the task. ... Spirit helpers of priests are all male, while those of priestesses are both male and female."

p. 134

"Kayan religious practitioners thus do not play the sexual role of Barito priestesses, who were also prostitutes".

pp. 134-135, 146-147 vocation of priests; priestly pole/staff; restorative ritual for pole


priests & priestesses


[biography of a priest] "the senior priest (dayong aya>) ... as a youth ... had recurring dreams in which he travelled with spirits; he became interested in priesthood and approached the senior priest of the time, who became his teacher ...; his mentor had learnt from an aristocrat who had spent much of his adult life travelling through central Borneo to broaden his knowledge of religious practices and beliefs."


[biography of a priestess] A woman’s "ailment was diagnosed as a consequence of a dayong spirit’s wish that she become a priest[ess]. She accepted the calling and was cured, but she performed her trade as rarely as possible, just enough to satisfy her familiar, because she was shy about being the center of attention."


"While priesthood is the result of a supernatural calling, candidates to the priesthood must first spend several years learning the rituals ... . Postulants are recognized as priests only after a ritual {cf. consecration of Christian bishops} which may be performed only by a senior priest {cf. Christian archbishop} during the harvest festival. In the same way that each individual has a "pole of life" (tuken urip) in the other world, whose fate affects health and survival, priests also have a "priestly pole" (tuken dayong), which is erected at the occasion of this ceremony."

146, n. 1:4:6

"The ritual is called negreng kayo> (or tuken, or jok) dayong ("to erect the staff [or pole, or altar] of priesthood"). In the old religion [adat Dipuy], the new priest received a pillow (hlen lali), which was used during the sowing ritual; an armband (leku dayong) was placed on the pillow of the oldest priest

147, n. 1:4:6

... . ... upon ascending to the priesthood, the dayongs received a staff (tawei) which they kept for their whole life. {This "staff" is the aequivalent of a Christian bishop’s crozier.} The foremost priests had two staffs."

pp. 135-136 priestly dayon caerimony; fees

p. 135

"The priest puts on a bead wristband (leku dayong); household members touch the offerings to indicate their participation ... . Household members narrate their dreams, the significance or which is tested through divination.

The second phase takes place on the gallery, where an altar (jok) is set up ... . The priest talks to the animal for about an hour, giving it messages to convey to the other world; after that, the animal is killed ... . ... the priest calls his/her dayong spirits and , with their help, travels to the other world to carry the offerings to Bungan and other spirits."

p. 136

"fees (tibah)" : "For a dayong ritual, a priest must receive at least a wrist-band of beads (leku dayong) and two scoops of husked rice."

pp. 135-136, 147 rituals performed only by dayon aya>


dayon aya>


"Accomplished priests are called dayong aya> (aya> = "big"). Some rituals are performed only by them : thus, only a dayong aya> would dare to treat a patient affected by madness (buling)."


"Every few years, during the harvest festival, every priest should undergo an almost identical ceremony, in order to "repair the pole of the dayong" (neme tuken dayong)."

147, n. 1:4:7

"This is almost identical ro the curing ritual which restores the pole of life (neme tuken urip). It may be performed only by a senior priest (dayong aya>) ... . Another name for this restorative ritual is meju kayo> dayong ("to lift the pole of the priest")."

147, n. 1:4:8

"In the old religion, only the dayong aya> practiced divination with bamboos (neng’ap bulu), because bamboo is used to curse (pesupa), and is thus very dangerous; ordinary priests used banana leaves for divination. A priest who is not a dayong aya> is called a dayong ok, a "small dayong.""

pp. 137-139 vocation of shamans




"shamanistic spirits ... possess some women, especially older women, who dance around the altar (jok) in a trance."


"As for priesthood, shamanhood is the result of a spiritual calling but, for shamans, it manifests itself through trances rather than dreams. At first, the trances are uncontrolled; the person "dies" (mate), and is revived with the noise of gongs. ... While the efficacy of a shaman derives entirely from spirit helpers, ... would-be shamans learn their trade by imitating established colleagues, who also help them control their spirits."


[initiation of woman to become shamaness :] "a ritual in which the dayong spirits were made to possess the would-be shaman. [p. 147, n. 1:4:9 : "This was called masok dayong, "to insert the dayong spirits." Trances (dayong nesun) are an intrinsic part".] The woman was held by two persons ... who made her dance. Her eyes were closed ... . Her helpers made it possible for her to ... be receptive to spirit. Little by


little, she danced more independently, and eventually her attendants moved away. She asked for a hornbill-feathers headdress (lavong tingang) and a sword, and danced for along period. She sang, and the men made responses (nyabe). ... Afterwards, she treated patients, thus performing her first shamanistic cure."


"A Kajang man ... said that he actually saw spirits, ... and he conversed with spirits in mysterious languages."


"Se’ances take place at night ... . The shaman[ess] first gets into a trance, so that spirits will come to dwell inside her. The first evidence of their presence is the shaman[ess]’s stumbling and inner-directed look. Spirits speak with the shaman[ess]’s mouth, their identity being made evident by their voice or self-introduction. Within the course of an evening, the shaman[ess] is likely to be possessed by a number of spirits, and her voice and demeanor will change several times; at one moment, she may speak in a high falsetto, then in


a gravelly voice. Through the shaman[ess]’s mouth, spirits sometimes engage in a dialogue with each other, and members of the audience also converse with them. ... Spirits act out their desires : they ask for rice beer ..., which the shaman consumes. Some spirits have sex on their mind, which the shaman manifests with obscene gestures, as when a female shaman mimicked a man copulating, to uproarious laughter. Spirits are encouraged to dance to the accompaniment of a repetitive tune played on a three-stringed instrument (sape> dayong). Shamans ... each have their idiosyncrasies, dictated by their specific spirit helpers."

pp. 140-141 naming; journey to otherworld; musical organ

p. 140

"Through the dayong ritual, most people acquire a ritual name (aran dayong) ... : the ritual designation is used only in religious contexts. By contrast, priests are often known by their ritual name, rather than the name given at birth. Such names as Avun ("white cloud") {Maori /Ao-tea/}, Lirong ("bay"), and Tening ("limpid") are reserved for priests".


"In dayong rituals, only men are allowed to sing responses (nyabe) to the priest’s chant. Nonetheless, both men and women may become priests and shamans. Some tasks, such as the journey to Ujet Bato> -- the area of the other world where the souls of powerful people sometimes escape – are performed only by male priests. It would be dangerous (parit) for a priestess to attempt this journey."

p. 141

The "reed organ (keledi), a musical instrument which has fallen into disuse," was formerly played by priests.

pp. 141-144 gendre in shamans and in patients for shamanic cures; social status of religious specialists; religious reform

p. 141

"Most shamans are women, especially post-menopausal women."

p. 142

"shamans ... routinely perform cures for members of their own household {as is also commonplace in Siberia}, an informal approach which is not copied by priests. ... Women are much more likely than men or boys to seek the help of a shaman; young boys are shy while being

p. 143

treated by a shaman, unlike girls".

"I never encountered or heard of a shaman who was a high aristocrat, nor a priest who was a slave (dipen)."

"in adat Dipuy, ... humans were burdened by

p. 144

hundreds of taboos and thwarted in their endeavors by capricious omens. ... Even among priests there is a division of labor : there are so many rituals that each priest does not master them all."


1:5. Sian E. Jay : "Two Types of Spirit Mediumship in Central Kalimantan". [Kahayan & Rungan river-valleys]

pp. 151, 154 religious functionaries; upriver; original religion

p. 151

[Naju Dayak] "Scha:rer ... described the religious functionaries, basir and balain, ... as "priests" and "priestesses" respectively." [in the Kahayan and Rungan river-valleys, however, the balain are designated as "basir bawi, "female priests"" (p. 166, n. 1:5:1)] Although Scha:rer used these terms, he appeared to be describing inspired shamans who lend their bodies to the spirits, and who send their own souls on a journey to the supernatural world. ... The balain ... are women called tukang sangiang (lit. "... adept [at summoning] the spirits"), who lend their bodies to supernatural beings when then use their powers".


"The term ngaju, meaning "upriver," is a general appellation applied to those Dayak in Central Kalimantan living in the middle and lower reaches of the Mentaya, Katingan, Kahayan, Kapuas and Barito rivers".

p. 154

"Traditionally the Ngaju adhered to a religion they referred to as agama helu, "original religion," but which more recently has acquired the official title of Hindu-Kaharingan."

pp. 154-156 Naju cosmology & mythology




"The waters of the Underworld are presided over by a feminine deity named Jata Balawang Bulau ("Jata with the golden door"), who is sometimes represented as a watersnake (tambun). {cf. serpent-god A-nanta below the lowest Naraka}

The Upperworld is presided over by a masculine deity named Raying Hatala {with this /hATALA/ cf. [Skt.] /ATALA/, name of the highest of the 7 Tala-s} Langit, apparently not his original title which was Raja


Tuntung Matanandau ("Prince of the Sun"). He resides in the Uppermost heaven on Gold Mountain, and is sometimes represented as a hornbill (tingang)."


"The creation myth of the Ngaju, called the Panaturan, describes ... the various supernatural beings that the mediums deal with in different ritual contexts. ... The blood {and embryos?} from the first four miscarriages was thrown into the river and drifted downstream where the World Snake (Naga hai) ... blew upon it changing it into the ... various illnesses that afflict mankind, and the evil spirits who taunt or harm mankind in other ways. These are, generally, the spirits that the tukang sangiang are called upon to deal with. ...

The b[l]ood {and embryos?} from the subsequent miscarriages fell on the ground and Ranying Hatalla’s voice (represented by thunder), turned it into the useful plants and domestic animals ... .

The last miscarriage was changed into the ancestor of the patahu, supernatural beings who guard particular villages. A small shrine (pasah patahu) containing an unusual stone that represents the patahu is found in every village, and offerings are made to it.

Following these miscarriages, Ranying Hatala sent seven heavenly shamanesses, the Kasampangan Bawin Balian ("female auxiliaries [who perform] the recitations") ... . They were accompanied by the Raja Uju Hakanduang ("seven kings who are brothers"), and their wives the Bawi Sintung Uju ("the women who number seven"), who live at the mouth of the river in the seventh heaven leading to Ranying Hatala’s abode. They act as


intermediaries between humanity and Ranying Hatala.

... the ancestors of the sangiang, the mythical "cousins" of the Ngaju ... live in the third and fifth heavens".

pp. 156-160 vocation of tukan sanian


tukan sanian


"The tukang sangiang are called to their vocation by divine, or supernatural, means. ... This ... insanity is described ... : ...


gila hantuen kuyang ("crazy because of vampires"). ... The Ngaju claim that ... only a mother may pass insanity down. ... Insanity ... may also occur ... by an evil spirit ... . For example, one woman saw people as monkeys, another noticed a rotten smell all the time." "Ngaju vampires or hantuen, also kuyang (Banjarese) are described as ... the offspring of a union between human and animal".


"If an individual ... is diagnosed by a proficient tukang sangiang as being disturbed by an evil spirit ["The diagnosis is made at a simple ceremony at which a proficient tukang sangiang calls her helper spirit to enter and examine the confused woman. The possessing spirit will confirm or deny the presence of an evil being. It will also assess whether it (i.e. the tukang sangiang’s spirit) can expell the evil spirit, or whether the services of a tukang sangiang with a more powerful possessing spirit must be sought." (p. 166, n. 1:5:3)], she must undergo a major ceremony called Balian Mampendang Lunuk ("recitation to raise the lunuk tree") to cure her. The lunuk (Ficus religiosa) grows by the river’s edge, often with its roots in the water { inasmuch as in the this tree is stated to have its "roots above", therefore the river in which such roots are growing could be the caelestial Ganga}, and it is said to be a pathway for good spirits to enter the earth. Ill-disposed, red-haired tricksters called nyaring {= Mara-s?}, derived from the shed blood of the first woman {cf. blood-quaffing Mari-goddesses, mentioned in the Puran.a-s}, are said to live at the foot of such trees.

When an individual is disturbed by an evil spirit it is said to cause a surfeit of red blood (in contrast to white blood {lymph}) ... . At the curing ceremony the officiating tukang sangiang draws the disturbed red blood of the patient


to the top of the head and appears to remove it in the form of congealed and hardened ... stone, and is called a batu sambalik ("fever stone"). ["Once the fever stone has been removed, the cured sufferer must wear some kind of head covering until the "hole" has closed up, so that the disturbing spirit cannot re-enter." (p. 166, n. 1:5:4)] ... The patient is then referred to as bawin lawang, "female of the door," for there is now an invisible aperture, a door or path left by the stone, through which a good spirit may now descend to possess her. Only by allowing her body to be used by the benign spirit, thereby becoming a tukang sangiang, can an insane ... woman be cured. She will usually first become possessed by the main possessing spirit of her tukang sangiang. This spirit is referred to as her batang sangiang ("spirit guide"), the first who "travelled the spirit path" (manajun jalan sangiang), the spirit path being the lunuk tree. {"Kayan lunuk ... is probably cognate" with the "shadow tree" (A&L4, p. 197), common Austronesian /nunuk/ ‘strangler-fig, Ficus benjamina’ (A&L4, p. 194), Sundanese ‘ghost in form of hunchbacked beldam’ (A&L4, p. 195).} ... Her batang sangiang might never possess her again, having served to open the way for other spirits. This curing ceremony appears to be the only time that the new tukang sangiang are possessed through the head; thereafter the spirits use the right leg."


[experience of onset of spirit-possession :] "Some are aware of what is going on but cannot control what they do. Many say they feel cold {this is psukhe ‘chill, coldness’}, their vision may blur momentarily, the voices of people around them fade ... . Their possessing spirits enter via the right foot, and up the right leg. (Evil spirits possess people via the left leg.) When the spirit enters the pit of the stomach, where it is said to lodge during possession, many tukang sangiang say they feel nauseated ... . These feelings disappear once the spirit has taken over the body."


"The struggle for control of the human host by two spirits may be so violent that another person must dab perfumed water with a leaf brush (tampung tawar) on the shoulders of the tukang sangiang to remind the spirits that they ... must depart peacefully."

"The process of calling these spirits and being possessed by them is termed manyangiang or nyiangiang, ... "to have a sangiang as a helper," or "to be possessed by a spirit. ... The good spirits called upon by the tukang sangiang may dwell on earth, or in the first heaven and, more rarely in the third heaven. This class of spirits is sometimes referred to as the sangiang Bandar after one of their number who lives in the third heaven."


"The attacking spirits always originate from the forest, the river, downstream or the Underworld, having used their victims[’] transgressions to cross the boundaries and encroach on the human world. The spirit possessing the tukang sangiang has the task of politely


persuading the evil spirits to return to their own domain by making an offering."

"The tukang sangiang is compelled to invite her spirits to possess her whenever asked to do so, and the spirits will always come when summoned. A tukang sangiang may become ... insane again if she refuses to summon her spirits. ... While entranced, the tukang sangiang may refer to herself as bandung lasang which in the sacred language means "canoe" ..., suggesting that the tukang sangiang is a canoe in which the spirit sits."

A&L4 = Roger Blench & Matthew Spriggs : Archaeology and Language, IV. Routledge, London, 1999.

pp. 160-163 vocation of basir




"The basir (now almost exclusively men [there are "female basir ... on the Upper Katingan river" (p. 166, n. 1:5:6)]) are religious practitioners who function ... during Kaharingan ceremonies".


"The basir’s apprentice "must give his teacher gold and silver ... . ... At ceremonies the basir chew betel as a stimulant to help them remember the chants and drum rhythms. The novice similarly chews betel during training and to aid memory. Betel is also the food of the sangiang.

The basir will not only teach all the chants and drum rhythms, but also will pass on the secret names of the sangiang, the Seven Rajas, and of Ranying Hatala. These are secret (basilim) names that differ from those used by the layman, and they can never be divulged to anyone else, or spoken out aloud in anyone’s presence. The knowledge of these names, and whom they really denote, is what give the basir his efficacy during the ritual."


"Depending on the importance of the ceremony, either three, five, or seven and occasionally nine basir will officiate. ... the higher the level of the heaven to be mediated with, the more basir are required. ...


They begin with the strewing (manawur) of uncooked rice by the upu. The soul of the rice is said to change into seven beings who will make the journey to the Upperworld to fetch the sangiang who are required to take part in the ceremonies. The basir begin to drum and chant in order to "make a path for the spirits of the rice," their words describing the journey of the rice spirits, the celestial rivers along which they travel from earth, upwards to the third heaven to their destination, the village of the sangiang. The drum beats and the words are said to possess their own spirit or gana which carries the rice on its journey. Because the basir know the route to the Upperworld, their words can guide the rice spirits to their destination. At the sangiang village the rice spirits again become rice, and the spirit of the voice of the upu informs the sangiang when they have been summoned. The sangiang then prepare their celestial ships ..., and then descend to the earth ... . The sangiang enter into the house where the basir are performing, and take their place in little baskets ... that are suspended above the head of each basir. These are called balai kambungan ("meeting hall of plaited work") {cf. Druidical "colossal images made of wickerwork, the limbs of which they fill with living men" ("D--Ch" 16)}, and represent a resting house (balai) {cf. [<ar.] lunar mansions as places of repose} for the sangiang .


The sangiang are then invited to enter the basir. ... The sangiang enter the basir via the head, not the feet, as with the tukang sangiang. Once the sangiang have entered the basir, their hosts don headscarves to signify that a spirit is within them ... . ...


The basir ... describe themselves lasang sangiang ("spirit canoes"), their bodies being compared with boats. The sangiang disembark from their celestial ship and enter another boat (i.e., the basir) ... . ... The body is only a bridge between the celestial ship and the ganan lasang sangiang ("the spirit [ganan] of the sangiang canoe") {/ganan/ would be aequivalent to [Skt.] / ‘subtle’} which is located within the body. When the basir begin chanting and drumming they wake up {from the yoga-nidra} the spirit of the ceremony, the ganan balian, which is called ganan tandak lasang sangiang, "the spirit of the singing, the sangiang canoe," and it is this which is located within the basir, and in which the sangiang take their place. The ability to "wake up" this spirit is acquired during the basir’s apprenticeship. ... After the sangiang have entered the basir, the ceremony may entail a return journey to the higher heavens by the sangiang. The basir often say that they make this journey with the sangiang, though ... it is the spirit of the singing conjured from within them that makes this journey. {The process of evoking a divinity to emerge whence "the Kingdom of Heaven is within you", is a ritual procedure conducted by Taoist priests. The ganan tandak is similar to the maize-god who (according to the Popol Vuh) is transported in a heavenly canoe} ... According to both J. Mallinkrodt ... and Scha:rer ..., it is the basir’s soul ... that ascends to the Upperworld."


"The basir also claim to experience a change of feeling when the sangiang descend to their bodies. They frequently say that they feel cold, and that after a while they feel light-headed."

"D--Ch" =

{Statements of the sort as "the basir do not regard themselves as possessed or entered (ngumpang)"; "basir remain in control"; and "their personalities are not displaced" (p. 163) are likely to be concessions to the government, which (upholding a reactionary sort of "fundamentalist" >islam) would contemn any professed possession of humans by devils.}

pp. 160, 164 prostitution & exorcism




"In Ngaju mythology, men are referred to as dohong (daggers) and women as kumpang (sheaths), a reference to the fact that by joining together in the sexual act they are like sword and sheath. {cf. Latin /vagina/, literally ‘scabbard (for knife or sword)’} ... But bandung also means "someone with whom one commits or has committed fornication"".


The balain "were said to have originated from the slave class, beautiful slave women being chosen ... . They were also said to serve as prostitutes, being hired out as such by their masters, and to have had sexual intercourse with men in the audience during ceremonies." The Naju "regarded the practice in terms of prostitution, with the [balain] representing the divine. ... in religious affairs these women had considerable influence, with scarcely a day going by without some form of exorcism being conducted by them."

p. 164 "The idea that [balain] would act as prostitutes both horrifies and disgusts the present day basir, many categorically denying that such acts took place." {What actually horrifies and disgusts the present day basir" is the reality that if they were to approve of such behavior, their religion would undergo persecution by the government, which is upholding a variety of Sunni law forbidding prostitution.}


BORNEO RESEARCH COUNCIL MONOGRAPH SERIES, Vol. 2 = Robert L. Winzeler (ed.) : The Seen and the Unseen : Shamanism, Mediumship and Possession in Borneo. College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, 1993.