Legend of Tayung Aring: Bidayuh & Crocodile’s Covenant

Tabi basa & greetings everyone. Recently I saw a viral news article pertaining a Bidayuh man & a young girl slaughtering a crocodile & scraping its skin.

This reminds me to a legend amongst Bidayuh community, the story of  Tayung Aring and her deeds that prevents crocodiles from hunting, attacking, harming and even kill any members of Bidayuh community.

Her legend started hundreds of years ago, and it is started when she was going to the jungle (aji de tarun). Out of nowhere, appears two young men who seems to be in distress, as if something bad already happened. She then asked them what happened. Without delay, one of them told her that they need her to cure their ailing grandfather. 

Out of pity, she agrees to help them. She followed them to a river, and she was actually puzzled, where on earth was their grandfather? One of them told her to follow their footstep, and follow them she did. 

As her feet touches the river, before she could even blink, she was magically transported into a different realm. She realised that she was at the end of a longhouse’s veranda (ruai / awah).

It was a beautifully-decorated longhouse, which is obvious to her, it is a dwelling of someone dignified, and of high-status. But, she wonders, who could that be?

Immediately, they brought her to see their grandfather, which she realised is actually a large, great crocodile, writhing in pain. 

One of them told her that their grandfather was unable to eat as he was choked on some unknown materials. She paused for a moment, then asked for a roll of mat from them and one window stopper. 

Their grandfather was so great, that Tayung Aring can enter her mouth without any problem. What she found inside the great crocodile’s mouth were an assortment of jewelleries, necklaces, bangles, rings made of  gold, silver and brass. She wrapped those items with a piece of clothes.

After that items were removed, the great crocodile was able to move her mouth freely. He was finally able to breath & eat properly. Most importantly, he was no longer in pain. His grandchildren and the rest of longhouse peoples are also happy to see that their great leader was in good health.

Realising that her job there is done, she excused herself from the longhouse as she needs to resume her “aji”. Lots of work left a home. Not forgetting her own grandchilren (bala sungkuh).

Indebted to her, the great crocodile apologised because he has nothing of human realm to offer to her. Being a simple lady she was, all she ask from him is that his descendents, the crocodiles would not attack, hunt or eat Bidayuhs. Likewise, Tayung Aring’s descendent would not do the same too. 

Then & there, the covenant was struck. The great crocodile announced to his people to honour the covenant, and to not attack Bidayuh peoples. 

Bidayuhs, when they go to the river, will announce that they are the descendants of Tayung Aring (sungkuh Tayung Aring). 

The story was believed to take place at Sungai Kuhas, Serian, affecting those BiBukar-Sadong, although exact place are not known. Although its point of entry could be anywhere, depending on the version of the story, it would lead to the same magical realm. There are things we couldn’t explain with current science.

This is why Bi-Bukar/Bi-Sadong are not allowed to eat crocodile’s meat to honour the promise between Tayung Aring & crocodile.

You can eat crocodile’s meat, but at your own risk. There will be consequences.

It is believed that crocodile can smell those who eat their descendants, and crocodile are known to be a vengeful creature (makhluk pendendam). If they can’t get you today, there will always be tomorrow & the day after that.

So far, there was no news about crocodile attack at any of Bidayuh settlement despite living near a river. All thanks to Tayung Aring.

Tukang Rantek,

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