Wednesday, September 23, 2009


To understand the basic nature of the Indigenous Dayak Salako ancestral thinker when they create the offering in their religare for their religious, healing and celebration ceremony, we have to understand the basic knowledge of nature symbol that symbolize their believe towards their spiritual world. To digest the meaning of this symbol, the basis are arrangement of foods and miscellaneous in the round bronze tray with stand that they put during their offering for religious, healing or celebration ceremony.

The Apar contains the offering.

The basic traditional foods are the Bontokng (rice cake wrap in special leaves and cooked inside a bamboo), Lamang (made of glutinous rice wrap in banana leaves and cooked inside a bamboo), Tumpi’[k] (a deep fried pancake made from rice flour), Karakek (a piper betel leaves), Kapur (lime stone paste), Pinang (Betel nut), Timako (Tobacco) and Rokok Apong (cigar made from nipah palm leaves). Beside these basic traditional foods, the animals offering are Manok (chicken) and parts of Enyekng (pork). To complete the offering especially for their religious or healing ceremony, there will be a small saucer fill with Baras Kuning (rice colored yellow with turmeric), and it is called “patek”.

The basic meaning of symbol for the traditional foods and miscellaneous offering are as follows:

1. Bontokng is the gist symbol for the indigenous Dayak Salako offering. This is because rice is from paddy, and it is the main gist of the indigenous Dayak Salako life. Without paddy and rice, there will be a hard life and rice is the staple food of the indigenous Dayak Salako. Bontokng symbolize life.

2. Lemang and Tumpi’[k] symbolize the male and female. Lemang which is cooked in a bamboo symbolize a male and tumpi’[k] which is made from rice flour is soft symbolize a female. It basic meaning is all life that lives in this world start from partnership of male and female.

Bontokng, Lamang and Tumpi'[k]

3. Karakek, Kapur and Pinang is a type of chewing foods for the indigenous Dayak salako women. This three symbolize the character of a female which give birth and produce children. Karakek which is green in color, symbolize nature, Kapur which white in color symbolize a semen (usually this kapur is spread over the karakek before eaten), and Pinang will create the color of red, which symbolize blood.

Karakek (piper betel leaves)

Kapur (White Limestone Paste)

 Pinang (betel nuts)

4. Timako and Rokok Apong symbolize politeness. Timako is a symbol of a pubic hair, and the Rokok Apong is a symbol of covering the pubic area of the male and female.

 Timako and Apong (Tobacco and Nipah Palm Leaves Cigar)

5. The slaughtered animals offering that is Manok and Enyekng parts is a symbol of thanks giving to the spirit, and it is also as a sign of brotherhood for the persons who helps organizing the ceremony.

6. The patek symbolize the welcoming of the unseen spirit to the ceremony. This patek are usually sprinkle around by the ceremonial priest while reading the phrases of offering.

My acknowledgment and special thanks for the picture to:

1.Tumpik, lemang, bontokng:
2.Buah pinang:
3.Rokok apong and tobacoo:
4.Lime stone paste:
5. The Apar Contains the offering:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

How to grow a Bird’s-nest fern (Asplenium nidus)

Bird’s-nest fern is a very popular houseplant. In Sarawak, Malaysia, which has a tropical climate and the humidity is high, and daily temperature of 27⁰C to 32⁰C, it is very easy to spot a bird's-nest fern everywhere. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, bird’s-nest fern is a large epiphytic spleenwort (Asplenium nidus) of tropical Asia and Polynesia that has large lance-shaped leaves and is often grown as a houseplant.

Bird's-nest fern is a kind of parasitic plants and has a lot of varieties. As explained in Wikipedia, they grow in a tight, nest-like clump, with a linguate leaf rosette and are usually epiphytic growing in trees. It has a short stout erect rhizome (stem) which bears a rosette of simple, long, pointed leaves (fronds) to form a "nest".

According to Lee-Khoo, Guan Fong,(2003) explaination, the stem is usually not visible from the top. The nest traps fallen leaves and other debris which eventually decompose to humus. Beneath the nest of fronds is a large spongy, mass of roots which are covered by the reflexed dead leaves. Rain water is soaked up and stored in the mass. In this way, the plant provides its own food and water and can continue to grow in a soilless condition as long as it is not left to dry out for too long. When the plant grows upward and outward and the root mass become deeper and spongier, it attracts other ferns, mosses or algae to grow on the root mass.

Bird’s-nest fern is a non poisonous houseplant, and it is one of the beautiful houseplant which can give a very nice greenie looks in a small compact area around our home. By my experience of growing this wonderful houseplant, especially in a tropical country like Malaysia, it is quite easy.

It is best planted in a flower pot made of clay (porcelains). As Jon Van Zile said, this plant is quite easy to grow. Bird’s Nest Fern prefers soil that is kept partially dry and can even handle dry soil for short periods of time. It can live in drier air than most ferns. It enjoys warm to average temperatures, and prefers bright indirect light. Do not place it where the sun will shine directly on it. Always protect Bird’s Nest Fern from drafts.

Here I’m writing some simple tips how to grow bird’s-nest fern.

Step 1:

First, how to find a good bird's-nest "seedling"? If you have time, especially during weekends, spend a time rooming around the farm yards that is planted with fruit trees because this plants like to grow at some fruits trees. Here, I managed to get some good bird's-nest fern "seedling" which nestle nicely at some trees around my mum orchards, just behind her kampung house.

Step 2:

This is the best bird's-nest fern I can find, especially during this dry seasons. As we know, bird's-nest fern is a kind of parasitic plants, so we have to remove it from it host carefully, but it is not difficult as we would think. Use our bare hands without any added tools needed. Here is the bird's-nest fern after I removed it from it host.

Step 3:

After removing the bird's-nest fern from it host, the first thing to do is watering it with a good amount of water, especially when you are traveling far. Here is the first rule, bird's-nest fern actually needs a lot of water to grow nicely.

Step 4:

Find some nice flower pot. Get one flower pots that is big enough because the bird's-nest fern can grows big. The best flower pot is between 30cm to 50 cm wide, and around 30cm high.

Step 5:

Get a good top soil. Mixed it with chicken dunk, around 250gm to 300gm. Put the mixed soil into the flower pot.

Step 6:

The next step is get your bird's-nest fern and plant it nicely as shown in the picture. Make sure that the top part of the bird's-nest fern is not covered with the soil.

Step 7:

After the process of planting the bird's-nest fern, make sure to water it with a good amount of water. Keep your planted bird's-nest fern in a shady place, and no direct sun light. This is my seven simple steps of how to grow Bird's-nest fern.

Make sure to water it with a good amount of water at least once in three days. Put some compound fertilizer with a mixer of N:12%, P2O5:12%, K2O:17%, and MgO+TE:2%, for a duration 3 months once. The picture below is my newly planted bird's-nest fern. Good Luck and have a successful trial.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Swallow Nesting at My House. Is it a it a reality or merely a circumstances?

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

Behold and believed, that is what every people say when they come to my house just because there is a swallow nest at the corner of my car porch. This friends and visitors alike will tell me that this swallow nest show that my house has a cool and positive element in terms of luck.

This swallows has been as what I say living with us for almost 4 years already and its has been breeding for three times. The first time this swallows build their nest they have one chicks. Then I decided to removed the nest, but amazingly they came back and build it again at the same spot. Then this time the swallows have 3 chicks.

The past two month this same swallow keep coming and breed again with two chicks. The amazing thing is every time their nest is being disturb especially by the naughty little "burung pipit" which also like to roam around, they repair their nest. The picture above is some photo of their two new hatch chicks which I manage to snap. My last word is just this, Thanks God, because I know at least I'm helping to preserve of this small wonderful little creature to live with my family.
Although its dropping sometime irritated , but I enjoy its present with us.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Asu'or Ako means dog and Sa'ak means the barking of the dog.

Salako is one of an indigenous tribes which inhabited the western part of Borneo. In Sarawak, the Salako tribes lives in Lundu District. According to written history, as Stanley Karnow (1964) said, the movements of the Austronesia people from the continent of Asia to Borneo and other South East Asia Islands are believed from the Peninsular of Malaysia. It is believed some groups of this Austronesia enter West Borneo (Kalimantan) through Sambas and Salako river.

The Austronesia groups which enter through Sambas River then made their settlement at the foot of Mount Senujuh, an area at Sambas Besar River. Within this area, between the year 1291, the Sambas Empayar (Ahmad and Zaini, 1989) was govern by a king (not as a Sultan), and most of its people still believed in animism, and some are Hindu’s.

According to Simon Takdir (2007), the Austronesia groups which come to Borneo through Salako (Saako) river made their settlement at the foot Sarinokng Mountain. It is probably from this settlement where the Salako name originates, from the words “Sa’ak Ako”. “Sa’ak“ in Salako word means the sound of dog barking and “Ako“ is the Salako words for wild dog.

It is believed long time ago at this Austronesia settlement there is a lot of wild dog called “asu’ ako.”(asu’ is a Salako word for dog). These wild dogs happened to bark during the day and night. This irritated the community, and so these wild dogs are killed and destroyed.

And so, the places where these wild dogs used to bark are call Sa’ako (Salako). The word “Salako” is then used by this Austronesia groups to name places, a river, ethnicity of the people, and the languages by the community itself. (Kristianus Atok, 2008)

Thursday, September 3, 2009


The picture as shown above is a type of Gantungan/Rawe which I snap at my mother home. My mother, although she is a Christian herself is still keeping this Gantungan/Rawe for the purpose of having pride to our ancestor culture. There are no more skulls on this Gantungan/Rawe. This Gantungan/Rawe has been in our house for almost 50 years already. It is use by my mother to hang “bontokng”, a type of rice cake wrap in a special leaves we call “daukng minyak”, and a stalk of rice, especially during the “Gawe Padi”, a festival that we celebrate during the harvesting paddy seasons in the early month of June every year.

Gantungan or Rawe is one important element in Salako religare (Adat ). Long ago, Gantungan or Rawe is a very sacred thing. Gantungan/Rawe refers to a hanger. During the era of head hunting is still prevailing in Borneo, Gantungan/ Rawe is used to hang the human skull. Salako tribes do practice head hunting activities, but nowadays it’s become a taboo to talk about this practice.

To the Salako tribes in Borneo, head hunting is not an ordinary act, as Dr. Susan Russell,( Department of Anthropology, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Northern Illinois University) said, “Their cosmology consisted of a basic three-layered world: the skyworld (the abode of spirits, culture heroes, and gods), this world (the realm of their village settlements and of true humans), and the underworld (the realm of spirits and deities responsible for, among other things, agricultural and human fertility). Gods, goddesses, culture heroes and spirits of various sorts moved between these realms.” Take note that the “skyworld” in Salako refer to “Kayangan” and the “underworld” refer to “Subayatn”.

Today, Gantungan/Rawe is seldom seen in the Salako homes because most of the Salako people practice a more Christianized life. This leads to the diminishing of our culture, and most of the young generation have lost their fore father knowledge. What I’m trying to say here is not for us to practice this old culture back into our life, but to preserved it for the pride of Salako and to add colors to our Malaysian culture. It is sad to know that nowadays the unwanted culture values are mostly forgotten.

1. Professor Susan Russell, Department of Anthropology,