The Kayan live along a number of river valleys in northern Borneo, including the Kayan, from which they take their name. Historically, the Kayan were skilled ironworkers, and exported knives and swords to other indigenous peoples of Borneo.

Show Map of Location

Traditional Culture(1899)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912b), pp. 23, 26
Nature god(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912b), pp. 1
Rousseau (1998), pp. 93, 105
Ancestral spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Rousseau (1998), pp. 109
Hose & McDougall (1912b), pp. 1-11
Deified ancestor(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Rousseau (1998), pp. 93, 109
Hose & McDougall (1912b), pp. 10-11, 138
God(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912b), pp. 4-5
Rousseau (1998), pp. 103-104

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912b), pp. 23

Afterlife and Creation

One's actions while living can affect the nature of one's afterlife Actions while living are one factor in determining the nature of one’s afterlife (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912b), pp. 40-41
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife Actions of others after one has died are one factor in determining the nature of one’s afterlife (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912b), pp. 32, 33
Myth of humanity’s creation Present, and evolutionary (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912b), pp. 137-138
Rousseau (1998), pp. 95
Primordial pair Present, and genealogically linked to humans now living (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912b), pp. 137-138
Rousseau (1998), pp. 95
Culture hero(es) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Rousseau (1998), pp. 93
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 1-11, 136-152

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912b), pp. 1
Rousseau (1998), pp. 93

Classes of Tapu

Social hierarchy tapu Present (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912b), pp. 158
Rousseau (1998), pp. 62
Resource management tapu Absent (Source)
Rousseau (1998)
Kinship tapu Present (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912b), pp. 196-198

Mana

Mana related to social influence or technical skill Absent (Source)
Mana as a personal quality Absent (Source)
Blevins (2008), pp. 263
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Mana as a spiritual or religious concept Absent (Source)
Blevins (2008), pp. 263
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Present (Source)
Rousseau (1998), pp. 84-89
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Rousseau (1998), pp. 51
Political and religious differentiation Some overlap (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 65
Rousseau (1998), pp. 127

Rites

Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912b), pp. 153-176
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 224-272
Scarification Absent from culture (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 246
Piercing Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 44-45
Hose & McDougall (1912b), pp. 159-160
Tattooing Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 247, 251, 252
Genital cutting Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912b), pp. 168, 170
Social Environment +
Population 10,000 (Source)
Rousseau (1974), pp. 33-34, 93-94
Population of largest political community 1,000-9,999 (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 39-40
Lebar (1972), pp. 171
Importance of Patrilateral descent Medium (Source)
Rousseau (1998), pp. 15, 17
Importance of Matrilateral descent Medium (Source)
Rousseau (1998), pp. 15, 17
Polygamy Monogamy preferred, but exceptional cases of polygyny (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 73
Marital residence Ambilocal - with either wife's or husband's kin (Source)
Strouthes (1993C), pp. 134

Conflict

(No) external warfare Occasional, at least every generation (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 158-159
Rousseau (1974), pp. 81-83
Conflict within community Low (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 158-159
(No) internal warfare Rare or never (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 158-159
Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 151-157
Lebar (1972), pp. 169, 170
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 0.0 (Source)
Rousseau (1974), pp. 13
Distance to nearest continent 991.0 (Source)
Rousseau (1974), pp. 13
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Pre-Austronesian population Present: Clear evidence of human occupation prior to Austronesian settlement (Source)
Bellwood (1995), pp. 109
Hindu / Buddhist influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. Map 2.21
Rousseau (1998)
Islamic influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. Map 2.23
Hose & McDougall (1912b), pp. 13
Christian influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Rousseau (1998), pp. 18
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Minor (Source)
Rousseau (1998), pp. 14
Lebar (1972), pp. 170
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Minor (Source)
Rousseau (1998), pp. 14
Lebar (1972), pp. 169
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 143-144
Land-based gathering Medium (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 149-157
Lebar (1972), pp. 169
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Medium (Source)
Rousseau (1998), pp. 14
Lebar (1972), pp. 169
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 143-144
Agriculture / Horticulture Principal (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 97
Lebar (1972), pp. 169

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Major (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 169
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 131, 134-142
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Major (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 169
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 131, 134-142
Water-based gathering Medium (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 169
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 131-142, 138-139

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Absent (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 170, 173
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 97-157
Metalworking Present (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912a), pp. 193-194
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture One (Source)
'Kayan' (2019)

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Continental island (Source)
Quek (2009), pp. 112
Island Size (km²) 740000.0 (Source)
Quek (2009), pp. 111
Maximum elevation (meters) 4095.0 (Source)
Quek (2009), pp. 112

Location

Latitude 2.1 (Source)
Rousseau (1974), pp. 13
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 115.1 (Source)
Rousseau (1974), pp. 13
Google Maps (2014)
Post Contact History(1899-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +

Conversion

Use of force in conversion Low (Source)
Rousseau (1998), pp. 25-30
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
'Kayan' (2019)
Rousseau (1998), pp. 25-30
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Rousseau (1998), pp. 25-30

Syncretic Movements

Syncretic religious movements Present, and survived to the present day (Source)
Winzeler (2008), pp. 51-52
Rousseau (1998), pp. 22-25
Secular History +

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence Low (Source)
'Kayan' (2019)
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present but minor (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912b), pp. 270-271
Eghenter (1999), pp. 12-13

Modern Infrastructure

Vehicles and roads Absent (Source)
'Kayan' (2019)
Eghenter (1999), pp. 12
Air travel Present, local only (Source)
Eghenter (1999), pp. 12
Sea port Absent (Source)
Eghenter (1999), pp. 12

Loss of Autonomy

Loss of political autonoomy High (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 169
Rousseau (1998), pp. 19-20
Okushima (2006), pp. 94
Nature of loss of autonomy Largely involuntary (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1912b), pp. 260-261

Demographic and Social Changes

Immigration Absent (Source)
Okushima (2006)
Foreign government systems Present, and of high importance (Source)
Okushima (2006), pp. 94
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Dominant world religion Christianity (Source)
'Kayan' (2019)
External Links
References
Bellwood, P. (1995). Austronesian Prehistory in Southeast Asia: Homeland, Expansion and Transformation. P. Bellwood, J.J. Fox, & D. Tryon (Eds.), The Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives (pp 113-114). Canberra, Australia: ANU Press.

Blevins, J. (2008). Some Comparative Notes on Proto-Oceanic *Mana: Inside and Outside the Austronesian Family. Oceanic Linguistics, 47 (2), 253-274. Retrieved from http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/ol/summary/v047/47.2.blevins.html

Blust, R. (2007). Proto-Oceanic *Mana Revisited. Oceanic Linguistics, 46(2), 404-423. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20172322

Cribb, R. (2000). Historical atlas of Indonesia. Surrey, UK: Curzon Press.

Daft Logic Distance Calculator. (2014). http://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-distance-calculator.htm.

Eghenter, C. (1999). Migrants' practical reasonings: The social, political, and environmental determinants of long-distance migrations among the Kayan and Kenyah of the interior of Borneo. Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, 14(1), 1-33

Google Maps (2014). Retrieved from maps.google.com

Hose, C., & McDougall, W. (1912). The Pagan Tribes of Borneo: Volume One. London, U.K.: Macmillan & Co. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/pagantribesofbor01hose/mode/2up

Hose, C., & McDougall, W. (1993). The Pagan Tribes of Borneo: Volume Two. London, U.K.: Macmillan & Co. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/pagantribesofbor02hose/mode/2up

Kayan (2019). Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Kayan

Keesing, R. M. (1984). Rethinking "mana". Journal of Anthropological Research, 40(1), 137-156, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3629696.

Lebar, F. (Ed.). (1972). Eastern Sumbanese in Ethnic Groups of Insular Southeast Asia. Volume 1: Indonesia, Andaman Islands, and Madagascar. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files Press.

Okushima, M. (2006). Ethnohistory of the Kayanic peoples in Northeast Borneo. Borneo Res. Bull, 37, 86-126.

Quek, S. (2009). Borneo. In R. G. Gillespie & D. A. Clague (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Islands (pp 111-116). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Rousseau, J. (1974). Social organization of the Baluy Kayan (Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation). University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Rousseau, J. (1978). The Kayan. In V. T. King (Ed.), Essays on Borneo Societies (pp. 78-91). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rousseau, J. (1998). Kayan religion: Ritual life and religious reform in central Borneo. Leiden: KITLV Press

Strouthes, D. (1993C). "Kenyah-Kayan-Kajang". In P. Hockings (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of World Cultures (Volume V - East and Southeast Asia) (pp 133-134). New York: G.K. Hall & Co.

Winzeler, R. L. (2008). Religious conversion on the ethnic margins of Southeast Asia. In Conference on Mainland Southeast Asia at its Margins: Minority Groups and Borders Tentative Agenda. Wat Damnak, Siem Reap: Center for Khmer Studies (CKS) International Conference.