Friday, October 5, 2007


Assalamualaikum wbt,

Dear all,

I just want to take all the group members down the memory lane of what I can recall how meaningful the paddy planting was to the Kadayan community. As most of us know, that the Kadayans are extremely good in planting "hill paddy" or padi bukit or padi huma. Personally, I consider the Kadayan community is the most spiritual, dedicated and meticulous about paddy planting. The following work process, as we call it in modern times is the testimony of the above statement.

NATAKI (sounds very Japanese but it's Kadayan) - Nataki is a ritual perform to to keep away OANG HALUS (Jin, iblis and shaitan) from the area intended to be used as padi cultivation. NATAKI is conducted by a very special person (usually elderly person), highly knowledgeable and spiritually competent. Adherence to the code is of paramount importance to the Kadayans then, otherwise things wouldn't go smooth as required.

NYUUKI (again sounds very Japanese) - Nyuuki is very much equivalent to what we call in modern days as "Initial Survey". Nyuuki used to be conducted by a group of people to determine the boundary and area to be utilised for planting paddy.

MAIMBA - Maimba is a process to clear the jungle. Cutting down trees and clearing bushes. In the old days MAIMBA was done without the aid of machinery. The only tools used are "maang and kapak".

NUNU TABASAN - Upon the completion of MAIMBA, the area is left for weeks to ensure the tree leaves, branches and trunks are dried and only after that NUNU TABASAN is performed. A clearance of about 2 - 3 feet (KAKAI) from the neighbouring area is required to avoid "api malaat" to the surrounding areas. The clearance acts as "fire barrier/breaks". Nunu Tabasan is performed by a spiritually competent person supported by family and friends of the tabasan owner.

One interesting point to observe during the nunu tabasan is that, it is more often than not that the fire barrier/breaks (INDA PAYAH DIKAKAI) are NOT required. The spiritually competent person who initiates the ritual of nunu tabasan would be able to control the fire to burn within the confined area ONLY. That's something ha... This is the truth and can be verified from Kadayan elders in Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei.

Not only the ability to control the blazing fire, but more amazing things during nunu tabasan will be happening!! Guess what? The Kadayans also has the ability to SHAPE the clouds resulting from thick smoke from the blazing fire. The shaping of such clouds is called "PUNGGUAN". In the olden days nunu tabasan is sometimes regarded as a fiesta where a competition is held amongst the tabasan owners to choose the "best shaped PUNGGUAN".

To shape the cloud of smoke to the required shape and eventually winning the competition is indeed NOT an easy task. BUT the Kedayans can. Just incredible!! Ripley's Believe it or not.

NUGAL - The burnt tabasan is left for a few days to cool off before NUGAL is performed. Nugal is a process of creating small holes on the tabasan/earth to facilitate the planting of paddy grains. It is normally done by women and in some cases the men do the earth pounding jobs and the women will put the paddy grains in the hole created by the pounding process. Earth pounding is done using a small tree trunk with sharpen end called "PANUGAL". The panugal is about an adult Kadayan man's height approximately 5 - 5.5 feet.

The distance between one hole to another is done by approximation (enough space for the paddy plant to grow to maximum size - both upwards and sideways.) and the number of paddy seeds poured into the hole is about 4 - 7 grains.

Another interesting Kadayan culture/tradition is the team spirit to perform labourious tasks like nugal for example. In many instances nugal is performed through a team effort called "MUCHANG". When a MUCHANG is annouced by the tabasan owner, all the village folks will assemble at the tabasan early in the morining with their own panugal and small baskets to keep the paddy seeds. Muchang is usually perform very early in the morning to avoid the blazing heat from the sun.

MAUMPUT - As the paddy grows so are the grasses. Maumput is simply the act of clearing grasses and weeds that will hamper the growth of the paddy plants.

NGATAM - Watching the paddy plants grow from seedlings to "padi batian, padi manguning and eventually ngatam and maladun" is indeed a wonderful sight! I really missed the smell of fresh air at the paddy field, particularly the aromatic smell blown by the early morning breeze. Ngatam is a process of cutting the paddy stalks (tangkai padi) with a sharp object like pisau lipat for example. In order for ngatam to be completed in time, muchang is usually held amongst the Kadayan community,

Ngatam is usually performs by both men and women at early part of the day and late afternoon to avoid the blazing sun.

The most common gears used during ngatam are as follows: -

1.Pisau lipat or other sharp objects
Pisau lipat or other sharp objects.
BASUNG - A special basket made from BAMBAN and AUTAN to keep the paddy during ngatam. If my memory serves me right a string made from KULIT TIMBAAN is used to tie the basket and worn at the left or right side of the waist. Freshly cut rice grains are keep inside the basung.
TAKIDING - There are two types of TAKIDING commonly used by the Kadayans viz TAKIDING BASAA and TAKIDING DAMIT. In most cases takiding basaa is used to bring the paddy grains from the field to their house or sometimes they will store the grains in a temporary DUONG built at the tabasan.
SIAWUUNG - A head gear usually worn by women to protect themselves from the blazing sunlight.
MALADUN - Maladun is a verb from the word LADUN. Ladun is simply the rice grains which are still green during ngatam. So this category of grains are left to be ripen to be collected later. In Kadayan tradition PADI LADUN has its own specialty. Padi Ladun or baas ladun is not consumed like the normal rice. Baas ladun is used to make AMPING or the verb for that is MANGAMPING.

MANGAMPING is another team activity that reflects how closely-knitted the Kadayan community is.

PANAUHAN PADI - DUONG : The uniqueness of Kadayan tradition is that it places padi as something esteem in their society. Very few cultures and traditions worldwide have something what the Kadayans has called DUONG as a storage house for their rice grains. Adequate protection is given to the DUONG such as the protection against pests like TIKUS dian BASING and of course water leakages. It is very important to keep the inside part of the DUONG dry as to avoid dampnes that may spoil the rice grains.

DUONG has only four pillars, each pillar is protected by metal sheet to avoid tikus and basing from climbing. In many instances DUONG is built away from tall trees and jutting branches to avoid similar pests from jumping to the DUONG.

NUTUK PADI - In the olden days rice mills were not availabe to separate the husks from the grains. The Kadayans are very creative. They use LASUNG and HALU to pound the rice grains. NUTUK PADI is again an activity based on teamwork. One LASUNG can accomodate 3-4 people using HALU to pound the padi. Only experience persons would be able to pound padi in a group of three or four people, the tempo and the timing must be right otherwise the HALU will collide amongst each other.

In kampung Kadayan, nutuk padi is considered as a fiesta. In most cases, the villagers organise the nutuk padi at the same time so that they can perform yet another art called BATINGKUNG. Batingkung is simply pounding the HALU at both ends of the LASUNG at the right tempo to produce musical sound. If the LASUNG is made from the quality wood, the sound would be better.



If any of the facts and terminologies used in the above write-up are inaccurate, kindly let me know and please accept my sincere apology for that.



Amde Sidik said...


I always thought all this while, I was the only(with very few exceptions) the loner, interested in the dying subject. I have been ridiculed,rebuked and antagonised-as always-deep inside me I said,I don't care.
Now I feel proud to have a accompany, the person whom I know. I now find it more interesting both on the subject matters as well as on inspirational side of me-Read Richard Feynman-The Pleasure of Finding Things Out-in my book, I Beg To Differ. And on Kadayan, Please comment and provide me with critique, my latest book -The Mystic of Borneo-Kadayan -to be launched by PM in his next visit to KK according Sabah Society.By the way the glamour side doesn't interest me- amde

Hj Ramlee said...


Rice granaries were not unique to Kadayans. All peoples in the Malay Archipelago up to IndoChina and Southern and South Western China have some forms or rice granaries. I just wonder if anyone has written books on this topic.

The style and architecture of rice granaries differ from region to region. In Laos, the style is similar to those of the Kadayans, i.e. four pillars with round wooden discs around each pillar to prevent rodents from entering and demolishing the grain. The walls were generally made of bark or flattened bamboo and roofs made of attap. In Jin Hong, Yunnan, where the Dais (similar to Thais), the granary design is more refined and similar to those found in Thailand.

In the lowlands, care was generally taken to ensure the height of the floor of the granary was higher than the highest flood known.

There were two basic reasons why grains were kept in a separate building, (1) it was easier to protect against rodents because of the discs around the pillars (2) in case of fire to the home, the store would be spared.

The most notable rice granary design (which many people do not know its original purpose) is the Balinese LUMBUNG with the very unique thatched roof. This design became synonymous with Bali and known the world over due mainly to Frank Morgan's Taman Mertasari which utilised these garanaries as accomodations for visitors.

The Bataks and Minangkabaus of Sumatra, the Torajas of Sulawesi and hundreds of other Malay groups have their own unique rice granary designs.

I have been to Wan Feng Lin (One Thousand Mountain Peaks)in Szechuan, China, where the farmers live in clusters of brick houses, the rice granary was built at ground level (as are the houses) but it appeared that someone was put to charge of the granary by making him live with the grains. I went inside one granary where an old man actually used the rice stems as bedding.

Hj Ramlee said...


One of my uncles related to me a story about my late grandmother (on my mother's side)who, on her third marriage (which collapsed iretrievably), decided with her latest and last husband, to split the rice in the granary right in the middle by using parangs to cut up the boundaries (your side, my side kind of thing). I supposed they truly parted ways after the rice were gone.

One of the worst events relating to rice granaries as far as I was concerned was that one day we lost two cats. They simply disappeared jointly and severally.

I think it was my sister who remembered that the two animals followed us into the granary when we went to get some rice to thresh before sending to the mill.

My father went to the granary in the dark of the night, and true enough, the two cats were inside, hungry and thirsty. I think there were locked up with lots of food they could not eat for 5 days.

A.S. Kasah said...

I'm totally amazed, your intellectual comments make me feel so good. Your knowledge about the Kadayan people are so valuable and may be both of you and others outside there start thinking how to properly and systematically document the Kadayan's cultures and traditions. Encik Amde had started something by writing books of similar nature, may be such initiatives can be taken to the next level focussing on the Kadayan culture and traditions. Much obliged.