History of the Ethnic Groups~


Another reason that Sarawak becomes a famous tourist spot is because of its ethnic groups. The Dayaks are divided into 450 groups around the South-East Asia countries. There are more than 25 groups of Dayak tribes in Malaysia. Even so, most of them gather around the Borneo area, that is Sarawak. Due to the rapid development of technology and Science, some of them are forced to abandon their cultures and traditional lifestyles. However, most of them still preserve their cultures, so that they will not be dead. Sarawak has various kind of ethnic groups with different languages, cultures, lifestyles, costumes, food and traditional ceremony.

These are the Dayak Iban and Dayak Bidayuh in Sarawak:

“Dayak Iban”

“Dayak Bidayuh”

History of the Iban:

The origin of Iban can be traced back to Yunnan China. The name “Iban” was given to them by the Kayans, an adaptation of the word “ivan”, which means immigrant or wanderer. They are believed to have migrated to Sarawak from Indonesian Borneo, choosing to settle along the banks of the main rivers and their tributaries which serve not only as their source for water, but also as a means of communication. The first Iban settlements were at Lubok Antu, but by the early 1900s they spread out as far across the state as the Limbang, Tatau and Kemena Rivers. The Ibans are traditionally farmers, largely depending on rice cultivation for their livelihood.  On the contrary, they were largely known for their fierce reputation as warriors, particularly because of their headhunting tradition. more

The History of Bidayuh:

The history of  the Bidayuh can be both meaningful and eventful. It was believed that the Bidayuhs migrated from Kalimantan Barat Indonesia to Sarawak long time ago. However, there are some who claimed that their ancestors were the original inhabitants of Sarawak. The Bidayuhs are known as the “Land Dayak”, because of their peace-loving and timid nature. They are also known as land people due to their ethnic group name. “Bi” means ‘people’ and “dayuh” literally means ‘land’. The Bidayuhs live in the rural areas and undertake agricultural pursuits. Besides that, during the rule of Sultan Brunei, the Bidayuhs were forced to work hard. The worst thing was the Bidayuhs were always targeted and attacked by other tribes, which lead to the reduction of their group size. Only when James Brooke took over Sarawak, there was peace among the ethnic groups. Much like other ethnic groups, the Bidayuhs also carry on with animalism as their belief before the arrival of Christianity. more

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