Saban Peoples of Sarawak

Tabi basa and greetings everyone! In this posting today, I would like to write about Saban peoples.

Sa’ban people (or Saban people) is one of Dayak minority that resides in Sarawak. According to Sarawak government classification, they are categorised under Orang Ulu. Saban people resides in few districts in Sarawak, but mostly resides in Long Banga, Baram. Their ancestors came from East Kalimantan, Indonesia where they dwells at Bahau River Valley at 17th Century. They live at hill to avoid the attack from headhunters during headhunting-warring period at Sarawak. Three generations of Saban people fought these headhunters, where “Leprot Langet” was their last warrior to fight against those headhunters around 1842. Heahunting practice was put to a stop during James Brooke’s time.

Saban’s people has small population due to:
1. Headhunter wars, forcing them to move around for safety
2. Away from other peoples and late exposure to modern life
3. Diseases, such as malaria that causes mass death.

At Indonesia, Saban peoples are known as “Berau” by other tribes that live at East and North Kalimantan. They split into few villages at the interior Borneo such as Apauping, Pujungan, Bulungan, South Malinau, North Malinau and West Malinau. Their exodus to Sarawak starts at the early of 20th Century in stages until 1960s. At Sarawak they are the minority, with total population less than 2000. To look after their well-being and to safeguard their peoples, Saban Peoples Association (Persatuan Masyarakat Saban) was founded in 4th July 2002.

In Sarawak, Saban people resides in Long Banga, Baram, Long Puak and Long Peluan, where these are their main residence in Sarawak. Other than that, in line with modernisation and career opportunities, they also moved to Miri, Marudi and Kuching, while some make a living at Peninsular Malaysia. At Long Banga, Saban people live with Kenyah Lepo’ Ke, Kelabit, and Penan peoples. Despite their similarities with Kelabit and Lun Bawang, Saban peoples also has their own differences in terms of tradition, culture especially language. Nevertheless, they live in harmony with one another.

Mixed-marriages is not a common practice by Saban peoples even though most of Sarawakian peoples have no issue with mixed-marriages. This is because of their population as well as to uphold their values and purity in their community. That is the reason why Saban peoples are able to ensure the strength of their culture despite their small population. Just like other ethnics and tribes at Sarawak, they also benefits from the modernisation and managed to achieve good education level, good religious life and no longer practice their old way of life.

Orang Saban, Sarawak

Suku Dayak Sa’ban adalah satu suku Dayak yang minoriti di Sarawak. Menurut klasifikasi kerajaan Sarawak, mereka adalah tergolong di dalam kumpulan Orang Ulu. Orang Sa’ban menetap di beberapa daerah di Sarawak, dan kebanyakanya tinggal di Long Banga, Baram. Leluhur orang Sa’ban pula berasal dari Kalimantan Timur Indonesia, yang mana mereka menetap di Lembah Sungai Bahau pada kurun ke-17. Mereka tinggal di bukit untuk mengelak dari serangan kaum-kaum Dayak lain yang mengamalkan budaya mengayau (headhunting). Orang Sa‘ban menghadapi tiga generasi melawan budaya Headhunter. “Leprot Langet” adalah seorang pahlawan lelaki Sa‘ban yang terakhir dalam budaya perang ngayau pada sekitar tahun 1842. Perang ngayau diberhentikan oleh semua suku semasa pemerintahan James Brooke.

Orang Sa’ban ini tidak banyak disebabkan oleh beberapa punca antaranya:

  1. Perang ngayau, menyebabkan mereka selalu berpindah randah.
  2. Jauh dari lingkungan bangsa lain dan lambat terdedah terhadap kehidupan moden
  3. Wabak penyakit (malaria), menyebabkan ramai yang kehilangan nyawa.

Di Indonesia, orang Sa’ban dikenali dengan nama “Berau“ oleh suku-suku lain yang menetap di Kalimantan Timur dan Kalimantan Utara. Mereka berpecah-pecah di pelbagai kampung di pendalaman seperti di Apauping, Pujungan, Bulungan, Malinau Selatan, Malinau Utara dan Malinau Barat, Krayan. Penghijrahan orang Sa’ban ke Sarawak bermula pada sekitar awal abad ke-20 secara berperingkat sehingga ke tahun 1960-an. Di Sarawak, mereka adalah minoriti, dimana populasi mereka adalah kurang daripada 2000 orang. Bagi menjaga kebajikan dan hal ehwal orang Sa’ban di Sarawak, Persatuan Masyarakat Saban telah ditubuhkan pada 4 Julai 2002.

Orang Sa’ban di Sarawak menetap di Long Banga, Baram, Long Puak dan Long Peluan, yang mana ini adalah kediaman utama mereka di Sarawak. Selain itu, selari dengan arus perkembangan moden, sebahagian besar daripada orang Sa’ban telah berpindah ke Miri, Marudi, Kuching, Long Lama dan Tawau. Tidak kurang juga ada yang berpindah ke Semenanjug Malaysia untuk bekerja. Di Long Banga, orang Sa’ban hidup bersama-sama dengan orang Kenyah Lepo’ Ke, orang Kelabit dan orang Penan. Disebalik persamaan, orang Sa’ban juga mempunyai perbezaan dari aspek tradisi, budaya dan terutama sekali bahasa dengan orang Kelabit dan Lun Bawang. Namun begitu, mereka hidup rukun antara satu sama lain.

Perkahwinan campur kurang diamalkan oleh orang Saban walaupun kebanyakan orang di Sarawak tiada masalah dengan perkahwinan campur. Ini adalah kerana populasi mereka yang sedikit disamping untuk menjaga nilai-nilai murni dan keaslian di dalam masyarakat mereka. Oleh sebab itu, orang Sa’ban masih dapat menjaga keluhuran budaya mereka walaupun populasi mereka masih sedikit. Sepertimana masyarakat Sarawak yang lain di dunia moden ini, orang Sa’ban juga dapat mencapai tahap pendidikan yang baik, kehidupan yang beragama dan tidak lagi mengamalkan budaya lama mereka.

Sumber: Eva Angel, Long Banga (2020)

“Immortalising Memories!”   

Tukang Rantek,
Claudius

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“Tukang Rantek” Claudius is a Portrait, Wedding & Event Photographer based in Miri, with a passion for writing. 
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