Rivers in the Sky

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Rivers in the Sky
« on: May 22, 2017, 12:08:38 PM »
If you ever wanted to put their FE beliefs in the Information Repository, you are welcome to.

The Kayan are a former headhunting people living in Central Borneo. I choose them among many Dayak tribes, because I know them best and they have quite elaborate conceptions of the world we live in. The following pages are based mainly on the information I obtained by various consultants in the course of the last 15 years.

The Kayan were the dominant nation in Central Borneo until not long ago and were among the last peoples who came under the control of the colonial regime.

Generally they gave but little thought to the geographical features of the world as a whole. But the basic conception was, that the world consists of a piece of dry land surrounded by an ocean. Since the "world" is the island of Borneo, that was actually somehow correct.

It was either always there or it once fell from the sky in the distant past. It was nothing but a big stone then, without vegetation, even without mountains and valleys. What follows resembles a pre-modern scientific theory rather than an origin myth (it has been recorded quite a number of times, two versions I could obtain by myself). The rain fell and produced mud, the mud produced worms, who digged into the ground and, as time went by, produced mountains and river beds and fertile soul. But no living thing (other than said worms) was there yet.

This world, though, is not the only one. There is another world in the sky, there are rivers, people are living there, called tekna', which may be translated as "spirits" or "gods". It is more than a theoretical concept. During the rituals, when a pig or a chicken is slaughtered, its spirit is sent as a present to the spirits who own the rice plants, to the highest spirits even, who dwell in the zenith of the sky. other places are occupied by malevolent beings who cause sickness in the human world or can steal a human's soul. In this case a shaman has to travel there to fight or to bargain with the spirits to bring it back. I met quite a few of them, who had visited the sky world in trance or dreams, they spoke about it as a reality and described it as you would describe a country where you have actually been.

There is a mountain in heaven, the "place of the midday sun", one of many, but one of the most supreme, located near the zenith, and a shaman who succeeds to travel there can gain much power and bliss. There lives a tekna' named Belare' Ubong Dau, with his wife Doh Bulan (the former bearing the name of the thunder and the sun, the latter means "Moon Woman"). One day Belare' Ubong Dau's carving knife fell from the sky and became a tree. All fruits and animals originate from this tree and the first humans were born in its trunk.

The main river in the sky is the Kaliman (the "river of prosperity"). It nourishes the cosmos, according to some, it is the actual source of everything. One thing should be stated about this river and about the sky world as a whole: Not everybody admitted that it is an actual river or a water at all, that it has a form or a place in the literal sense, because it is a "spirit thing", but both in myth as in the experience of the shamans, it was indeed described as such.

It flows into the ocean, where the sky meats the earth. "Long Kaliman", the mouth of the Kaliman river, is a dangerous region. There are the "Bua Ara", female spirits who rape men who venture there to death. Another one captures people (or their "souls") with a fishing net, breaks their bones and stores them until she boils and eats them.

The Kaliman river has many tributaries. I mention only the most important ones.

The first one, close to Long Kaliman, is Telang Julan, the river of the dead. The dead travel there by boat (indeed the coffin has the form of a boat). They pass various places. A huge tree grows at the river shore, its fruits are empty for the living, but contain fruit flesh if you are really dead. Once you eat from them you cannot go back into the human world. There is another tree, where the boat is tied. The soul leaves the boat (the coffin), passes a bridge (here at the first time they realize that they are dead, feel sorrow and cry) and continues its journey by feet. It is a long journey, they have to pass a couple of hills. At the end they come to a spring, the "spring of oblivion". When they drink from it, they cut all bonds to the living, they do not long for their beloved anymore. Finally they reach Apo Jelungan, the land of the dead, where their relatives and friends welcome them.

At the middle reaches of the Kaliman river is Itong Teli, the land of the rice spirits., who make the rice plants grow. The souls of the little children come from there as well, and when they die of young age, they go there again, rather than travel to Apo Jelungan.

Further upriver is the mouth of a river names Lirong Lugan (some gave a different name), here is the land of the shaman's spirits. They are important in ritual, because they are called to carry the souls of the sacrificed animals to their places of destination. The people living there are very rich and have plenty of food.

Even further upriver is the river Legong Bulan. Here is the land of the Omen spirits. It springs from a highland named Apo Liwang, and a chain of mountains starts from there, one of them being the "mountain of the midday sun", already mentioned. Another one is the Bato' Huso, where milk springs from a rock,and he who goes there in a dream and drinks from it can become a gifted poet or orator.

We are already high in the sky. The mountains surround a highland named Apo Lagan, a place of sinister majesty, indwelled by people who have teeth like wild boars the home of Doh Hipuy, the "noble woman', who in former times, ruled over much of the spirit (and human) world, until, about 70 years ago a prophet from the village Long Ampung, who thoroughly reformed the religion of the Kayan and related peoples, made an end to her rule. But this is a story on its own (and well recorded history).

Even beyond is the highland Apo Tukar, the home of the Urips, the "spirits of life". Even further upriver, where the Kaliman river itself originates from a place unknown is the home of the highest pair of spirits, a male and a female, formerly known as Lake' Tenangan and Doh Tenangan (but the names were largely abolished after the emergence of the prophet mentioned above). They are like a pair, but they are also like one being, always mentioned together (similar, perhaps,to the Christian trinity).

Today almost all Kayan have become Christians, only a few, mainly from the village of Long Amoh (all ages), still hold to (the reformed version of) their traditional faith. The described world concept has little relevance to them

This was only an extremely sketchy and abridged version of the Kayan spirit world, but it may give a clue how the world conception of a genuine flat earth society can look like.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2017, 10:35:45 PM by FalseProphet »


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Re: Rivers in the Sky
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2017, 03:39:36 PM »
That was wonderful, I hope you will post more!
I'm sorry. Am I to understand that when you have a boner you like to imagine punching the shit out of Tom Bishop? That's disgusting.

Re: Rivers in the Sky
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2017, 05:47:18 AM »
Really interesting. The study of cultural anthropology really throws up fascinating stuff which provides a real insight into our development as a species.