Kampung Singai culture and history



We decided to go to Kampung Singai on 26 February 2010. Before we go there, we collect data about their Kampung culture and history. First at all, we get permission from the head of the village. Later, the head of the village approve us to go there do survey. After that, we make some question to ask the head of the village when we go to the kampung. The methods that we use are interview, observation, surveying secondary analysis and collecting data. We made preparation before heading to Kampung Singai.

We go there at twelve o'clock in the afternoon. We went there by car and one of the villagers, named Selonn Anak Meboh is giving us direction to go there. We arrived the destination around one hour. The first place we visited is the head of the village's house. We make some informal interview with the head of the village about the Kampung Singai. The head of the village is very busy so he cannot take us go survey the village and the long houses. So, the villager took us to visit the places we wanted to go. The villager took over the responsibility of the head of the village. The first place that we visited is the long house or it can be called as culture village. At there, we make interview with the secretary, named Frank Ritchie of the culture village. He gave us much relevant information about the culture village. We also took some photo from there. The secretary also took us to visit the culture village. He explained briefly about the long house.

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After visiting the culture village, we went to the villagers' farm to take some photo and observe the farm. We also interview the person who take us go there and the villagers. We got much relevant information at there. After that, we headed to the village that villagers stay. At there, we took out the questions that we had prepared and made informal interview with the villagers there.

After we had collected enough data about the village, we went back to UNIMAS at around seven o'clock at night.

We do this research because we want to persue interest and learn something new about the village. Besides that, we can improve the problem solving skills and understand more deep about the village culture. We also can challenge ourself and understand the new culture.

Background and location Kampung Singai:

Kampung Singai is situated in the Bau district of Kuching Division, Sarawak, known as First Division during the period under discussion. It approximately 562 metres above sea level. Kampung Singai consisted of twelve separate villages that are Apar, Giang, Daun, Tuban, Tubon, Saga, Sajuong, Moti, Somu, Puot and so on. The settlement lay about halfway up Mt. Singai. The villages consisted largely of longhouses built on patches of flat land or gentle slopes. As the group of twelve villages were referred to as Singai, the people called themselves Bisingai in general.

The village's ethnic in Kampung Singai most of them is Bidayuh. The term "Bidayuh" was not in common use at this time, and when referring to themselves as a larger group, the term "Daya" was preferred. The last raja is Nyorah Anak Kapas (Babai Jorai). He was the overall leader of the twelve villages Singai on the mountain. Like his not too remote predecessors, he was officially known as Raja as well. His immediate successor, Durian Anak Nyangu was officially as well as locally known as Orang Kaya Pemance. With changing Government, Durin's immediate and all subsequent successors, namely Philip Juin, Michael Ruda and Sabestian Desson were leaders down the mountain settlement, after the abandonment of the old villages.

The Unique of the Long House or Culture Village:

All the houses were supported on round taas (ironwood or belian) poles. Many of the taas poles were more than 7 metres long, and about 10 centimetres in diameter. The taas poles made a strong foundation for the long houses, as they were plentiful in number and never in the history of the long houses did one collapse even when crowded with people during Gawai festivals. The roofing of the houses was almost all of thatched sago leaves. Sago palms were abundant at all the paya (rice-growing areas) in the foothills and beyond. The entrance to the long houses was inevitably through its door on the higher side of the slope. The long house was a stretch of open common corridor or awah, off which was the entrance to each family unit or romin. The floor of the awah was always made of toring (split giant bamboo). One piece of bamboo could be split into four pieces. After dried for a week, it could last for more than ten years. The awah was used during Gawai festivals. The awah was also used to store excess firewood and rice paddy was pounded there. Outside the wall of the awah was the tanju, an open area used for the year end major Gawai festivals. Tanju needed to be constructed only when the long houses was going to celebrate the Gawai festivals.

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The size of the long houses room or romin was about twelve and half metres by six metres and was divided into various sections. On one side of the pinutuob or entrance corridor was a kitchen storage area known as pawad. On the other side was the situok (lavatory) and the abuh or fireplace for cooking, with a supply of firewood on a rack above it. The romin were all connected and there was a strong sense of long houses community spirit, at the same time the family unit was self-contained and there was privacy and individuality.

An intermediate romin had only one window opening in the roof above the akat. This types of window called a koman, and was opened by pushing it outwards and propping it in place with a piece of bamboo. The koman was very rarely opened at night as a matter of tradition, as the people feared that evil spirits might enter through it. The corner romin at each end of the long house had the advantage of having two other koman on the walls as well as a koman akat. Each kampung was required to have a baruk, a round structure with a conical roof. The diameters of the baruk would be around twelve and half metres, and the height, including the supporting stilts, about nine metres. There was always a fireplace in the centre.

Ecomony in Kampung Singai:

The part time job of the Bidayuh is farming. The crop they grow usually use by their own food and not for sale. There are three terms for rice are padi when it is growing in the field and before it has been husked, boras after it has been husked, and tubi after it has been cooked. The Bidayuh treated (and still treat) rice with respect, for fear that the next harvest would be a poor one. They respected rice as if it had a life and a soul. For example, any leftover of rice from a plate after a meal could not simply be tossed away. The Bidayuh normally stored their boras or husked rice in earthenware jars. These jars were never allowed to become completely empty of rice for fear of back luck, the bad luck manifesting itself in a poor harvest.