Saturday, December 14

Bird-catching with a tepee – Kedayan’s blast from the past


BEKENU: The Kedayan traditional art of catching birds in the forest is diminishing with the dying breed but efforts are being made to expose the younger generation to this practice of their rich heritage in indigenous knowledge, culture and traditions.

The ‘Bumbun’ bird snare of the Kedayan community, shaped like a tepee of the American red Indians.

Yusof bin Lamat, 61, is one of the remaining of his generation of skilled bird catchers using the technique of luring feathery prey into a structure made of nipah palm leaves and rotan which looks like an (American) Red Indian ‘tepee’ or wigwam (a conical tent) from afar.

Called ‘Bumbun’, the catcher will play a “dukuk” made of bamboo to catch the attention and lure the birds into the tent.

“It takes about four to five hours to put up such a structure,” Yusof said.

The Kedayan community in Kelulit, is bringing this traditional structure back to the public sphere, to expose the younger generation to the dying art.

To propagate the art, a Bumbun was built at Kampung Pejuang in Kelulit, the home village of Rosey Yunus, Bekenu state assemblywoman and Assistant Minister of Family Development and Early Childhood Learning.

In her childhood days, Kedayan traditions included ‘Angkatan’ mobile huts which farmers built to rest while keeping their children safe when they are out to work the paddy fields.

“We just lift the huts and move it lock, stock and barrel to the next location,” said villagers to The Borneo Post as they reminisced over their good old days.

They were referring to the relatively light, cool hut made from bamboo and nipah leaves on four wooden posts.

This strong attachment to their identity and roots is evident among the community where their striking traditional costumes, dances and customs which is preserved and handed down to the younger generation.