Melanau Tall Longhouse 馬來諾族的高腳長屋。
（官方網頁介紹，Infomation of SCV）
The Melanau, mainly living along the coast, between the Rajang and the Baram Rivers, make up 5.8% of Sarawak’s population. They can be broadly sub-divided into a pagan, a Muslim and a Christian group. The Melanau are fearless fishermen and competent boat-builders. Their staple food is sago, the starch of a tall palm that can be grown in the brackish water of river estuaries. Melanau villages look very much like the traditional Malay kampung found all over Sarawak. In the past, some Melanau built tall longhouses as a precaution against enemy attacks.
These little figures are sickness images in a literal sense. Each represents an illness. The Melanau healer diagnoses what his patient is suffering from. Then he skillfully carves an image, charges it with the patient’s complaint, and ceremonially discards it. The healer is also an expert on herbal cures and magic charms, but in a serious case he resorts to belum. An appropriate spell is cast over the image, betel, sireh and lime are spat over it, then it is sent on a one-way voyage downriver in a gaily decorated boat called rabung.
In case of major illness, the patient’s family has recourse to the ayun(swing) ceremony. This involves heavy expense, and is not undertaken lightly. The house has to be specially decorated for this event. The patient is seated on the swing, rocking back and forth to the spirit medium’s drum. The healer calls on the various spirits to declare their presence, entices them away from the patient and challenges them to a duel. Completely entranced, the medium lunges at unseen enemy with a sword or dances on venerable caladon plates. Often, the patient staggers to his feet and dances too, although competent(western) medical opinion world consider him to weak to even walk! The ayun ceremony lasts for five to nine nights. During this time the patient’s family have to feast not only the healer and his assistants, but the whole village. On the last night, the healer drives the sickness spirits into a small model boat, which is launched on a downriver journey of no return by the jubilant villagers.
The Melanau’s daily food is sago, the starch found in the pith of the sago palm. The tall palm is felled at the right stage of maturity. The trunks floated to the village, stripped and split. The wedges of sago pith are rasped into a coarse, wet mash. The sago mash is pilled on strong mats over shallow troughs. Now it must be trodden to force the starch into the containers below, work usually done by women in riverside huts specially built for the purpose. The starch is left to settle in the bottom of the troughs. Then the water is poured off, the thick starchy paste further drained, kneaded, and dried into the rough ‘sago flour’ of commerce. The product is further refined before it is processed into starch, glue, foodstuffs or condiments. Traditional Melanau sago products include dry pellets, grits, and several kinds of biscuits baked on clay hearths.
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