a member of any of several indigenous, Austronesian-speaking tribal peoples of Sarawak and Indonesian Borneo.Also, Dyak.[1830-40]
* * *Any member of a non-Muslim indigenous people of the southern and western interior of the island of Borneo.Dayak is a generic term that has no precise ethnic or tribal significance but distinguishes the indigenous people from the largely Malay population of the coastal areas. Most Dayaks are riverine people who live in small longhouse communities. Children live with their parents until marriage, and boys, who usually seek brides outside their own village, go to live in their wife's community. Their subsistence economies rest on the shifting cultivation of hill rice, supplemented by fishing and hunting. They number more than two million.
* * *▪ peoplealso spelled Dyak, Dutch Dajak,the non-Muslim indigenous peoples of southern and western Borneo (modern Kalimantan). Most of them live along the banks of the larger rivers. Dayak is a generic term that has no precise ethnic or tribal significance and that is applied to any of the (non-Muslim) indigenous peoples of the interior of Borneo (as opposed to the largely Malay population of the coastal areas).Various subgroups of the Dayak have been distinguished, although lines of demarcation are difficult to establish. Among the most important of the major groupings are the Bahau tribes (including the Kayan and Kenyah) of central and eastern Borneo, the Ngaju tribes of southern Borneo, the Land Dayak of southwestern Borneo and Sarawak, and the Iban, or Sea Dayak, of Sarawak. In the late 20th century the Dayak population of Borneo was estimated at 2,000,000 to 2,200,000.These riverine peoples live in longhouse communities, seldom with more than a few hundred members, and trace their descent through both the male and female lines. The family is the basic unit, and children remain with their parents until married. A boy usually seeks his bride outside his own village and goes to live in her community. There is, however, little tribal unity between communities closely related in language, custom, and marriage. Among the Iban and Land Dayak, class distinction is absent. The Kayan and Kenyah recognize three strata of society; the upper consists of the family and near relatives of the village chiefs, the middle consists of common villagers, and the lower is made up of captives of war and other persons looked down upon for various reasons.In general, their subsistence economies rest on the shifting cultivation of hill rice, with fishing and hunting as subsidiary activities. Their tools are of iron, and their principal weapons are the sword, the spear, and the blowpipe. Their languages all belong to the Indonesian branch of the Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) family. Their religious beliefs are animistic and polytheistic, highly developed and complex. Formerly, intertribal warfare was rife, with headhunting a major feature.The name Sea Dayak, though still in official use, is a misnomer, for the Iban, to whom it refers, are primarily a riverine and hill people whose economy is based on rice cultivation.
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