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. They worshipped a pantheon of powerful departmental gods, including a supreme god.

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Traditional Culture(1885-1910)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993B), pp. 23, 26
Nature god(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993B), 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 (1993B), pp. 1-11
Deified ancestor(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Rousseau (1998), pp. 93, 109
Hose & McDougall (1993B), pp. 10-11, 138
God(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993B), pp. 4-5
Rousseau (1998), pp. 103-104

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993B), 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 (1993B), 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 (1993B), pp. 32, 33
Myth of humanity’s creation Present, and evolutionary (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993B), pp. 137-138
Rousseau (1998), pp. 95
Primordial pair Present, and genealogically linked to humans now living (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993B), 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 (1993A), pp. 1-11, 136-152

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993B), pp. 1
Rousseau (1998), pp. 93

Classes of Tapu

Kinship tapu Present (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993B), pp. 196-198
Resource management tapu Absent (Source)
Rousseau (1998)
Social hierarchy tapu Present (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993B), pp. 158
Rousseau (1998), pp. 62

Mana

Mana as a personal quality Absent (Source)
Blevins (2008), pp. 263
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Mana related to social influence or technical skill Absent (Source)
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
Size of largest ritual social group Larger than the largest political community in the culture (Source)
Rousseau (1998), pp. 89
Political and religious differentiation Some overlap (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993A), pp. 65
Rousseau (1998), pp. 127

Rites

Piercing Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993A), pp. 44-45
Hose & McDougall (1993B), pp. 159-160
Genital cutting Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993B), pp. 168, 170
Scarification Absent from culture (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993A), pp. 246
Tattooing Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993A), pp. 247, 251, 252
Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993B), pp. 153-176
Hose & McDougall (1993A), pp. 224-272
Social Environment +
Population of largest political community 1,000-9,999 (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993A), 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 (1993A), pp. 73
Marital residence Ambilocal - with either wife's or husband's kin (Source)
Strouthes (1993C), pp. 134

Conflict

Conflict within communities Low (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993A), pp. 158-159
Conflict between communities of the culture Occasional, at least every generation (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993A), pp. 158-159
Conflict with other cultures Common, at least every five years (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993A), pp. 158-159
Lebar (1975), pp. 169
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kayan) (2014)
Cultural Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993A), pp. 151-157
Lebar (1972), pp. 169, 170
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 0.0 (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Dayak) (2014)
Distance to African or Asian mainland (km) 1132.9 (Source)
Ethnologue (Map of Brunei and Sarawak) (2014)
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 (1993B), 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 (1993A), pp. 143-144
Land-based gathering Medium (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993A), 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 (1993A), pp. 143-144
Agriculture / Horticulture Principal (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993A), 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 (1993A), pp. 131, 134-142
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Major (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 169
Hose & McDougall (1993A), pp. 131, 134-142
Water-based gathering Medium (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 169
Hose & McDougall (1993A), pp. 131-142, 138-139

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Absent (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 170, 173
Hose & McDougall (1993A), pp. 97-157
Metalworking Present (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993A), pp. 193-194
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture One (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kayan) (2014)

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Latitude 1.7 (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 169
Eghenter (1999), pp. 6
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 115.0 (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 169
Eghenter (1999), pp. 6
Google Maps (2014)
Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Continental island (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Sunda Shelf) (2014)
Island Size (km²) 755000.0 (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Borneo) (2014)
Maximum elevation (meters) 4101.0 (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Borneo) (2014)
Post Contact History(1910-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +

Conversion

Use of force in conversion Low (Source)
Rousseau (1998), pp. 25-30
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Rousseau (1998), pp. 25-30
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kayan) (2014)
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 +

Demographic and Social Changes

Foreign government systems Present, and of high importance (Source)
Okushima (2006), pp. 94
Immigration Absent (Source)
Okushima (2006)
Language shift Medium (Source)
Ethnologue (Kayan) (2014)

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence Low (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kayan) (2014)
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present but minor (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993B), pp. 270-271
Eghenter (1999), pp. 12-13

Modern Infrastructure

Vehicles and roads Absent (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kayan) (2014)
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

Nature of loss of autonomy Largely involuntary (Source)
Hose & McDougall (1993B), pp. 260-261
Loss of political autonoomy High (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 169
Rousseau (1998), pp. 19-20
Okushima (2006), pp. 94
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Dominant world religion Christianity (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kayan) (2014)
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

Encyclopaedia Britannica (Borneo). (2014). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/74286/Borneo

Encyclopaedia Britannica (Dayak). (2014). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/153116/Dayak

Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kayan). (2014). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/313709/Kayan

Encyclopaedia Britannica (Sunda Shelf). (2014). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/573755/Sunda-Shelf

Ethnologue (2014). Kayan, Rejang: A language of Malaysia. Ethnologue. Retrieved from http://www.ethnologue.com/language/ree

Ethnologue (2014). Map of Brunei and Malaysia - Sarawak. Ethnologue. Retrieved from http://www.ethnologue.com/map/MY_sr

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

Hose, C., & McDougall, W. (1993). The Pagan Tribes of Borneo: Volume Two. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Originally published 1912).

Hose, C., & McDougall, W. (1993A). The Pagan Tribes of Borneo: Volume One. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Originally published 1912).

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.

Lebar, F. (Ed.). (1975). Ethnic Groups of Insular Southeast Asia. Volume 2: Philippines and Formosa. 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.

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.