Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Dayaks (Dyaks), the aboriginal and uncivilised inhabitants of Borneo, as distinguished from the civilised Mohammedan Malays settled on the coastlands. The name, probably connected with a root daha, "man," "people," has, as used by the Malays, the general meaning of "wild" or "savage," but is unknown to the natives themselves, who have no collective ethnical designation, each tribe or family group taking the name of the district or river valley occupied by it, or else of some noted chief living or dead. They are quite distinct both in appearance and speech from the Malays, the features and articulations being more delicate, the expression more pleasant, the nose larger and more regular, the forehead higher, the complexion lighter, the physiognomy almost European, so that they must be grouped with the Battas of Sumatra, the Mentawey Islanders, the Bisayas of the Philippines, and many others in the Indonesian division of the Malayan populations. This applies, however, only to the pure Dayaks of the anterior, who have hitherto preserved the racial type and customs intact, whereas the coast tribes have already been greatly modified by long contact with the intending Malays. Baron von Kassel, who resided several years in Borneo (1846-49), distinguishes five main groups: - 1. The Pari of the east and north-east, who wear enormous copper ear-plugs distending the lobe down to the shoulders; 2. The Biyafu of the south and south-east, who tattoo the whole body; 3. The south-western tribes named from the districts occupied by them (Sambas, Landak, Sadong, Sarayak, and Sekayam); 4. The Malayu-Bayaks of the north-west, long associated with and partly assimilated to the Malays of Sarawak and Brunei; 5. The nomads of the interior, three groups, the Ott or Vutt, Puna, and Kanketta, all speaking the same language, all tattooed over the whole body except the face, all noted head-hunters, and apparently cannibals. Till recently head-hunting was practised even by the coast tribes, and gave rise to a chronic state of warfare between all the Dayak populations; but since the spread of British influence it has fallen into abeyance throughout the northern districts, where the natives have become more settled, occupying themselves with agriculture, mining, and several industries, such as weaving, forging, and pottery. (See O. von Kassel, Ueber die Volksstamme Borneo's in Zeitschrift fur allgemeine Erdkunde, 1857; A. R. Wallace, The Malay Archipelago; Reports of the British North Borneo Company, 1887-92.)