Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Dayak Red Bowl Ritual (Mangkok Merah)

A red bowl is a media of association of Dayak tribe. When a red bowl is in circulation means the Dayak people feel that their sovereignty is in danger; in short, "war time". The "Chief" or often referred to as “Pangkalima” Dayak often produces a signal of war to commence of red bowl distributed from village to village quickly.


The red bowl is never distributed arbitrarily. Before the red bowl is released, the commander must make an invocation ritual to check when the right time to start a war. In the ritual, the ancestor spirits are invited to possess the body of the “pangkalima”. When “pangkalima” is performing a "tariu" (call to ask the ancestors for help and declaring war); the Dayak people who hear it will also have the power as the commander. Usually people with unstable soul can fall sick or become crazy on hearing “tariu”.


Those who are possessed by the spirit of the ancestors will be inhuman. Up to a standard that the blood and liver of their victims killed would be eaten raw. Otherwise in peaceful situation, the Dayak never eat human. The heads of enemies are cut off, skinned and stored for the needs of custom ceremony. By drinking blood and eating the enemies’ heart, the magical power of Dayak warriors will increase. It is believed that if the power of a warrior increases with the kills.


Red bowl is usually made of bamboo core (some say made of clay). To participate in this red bowl ritual, other materials such as sweet red rotan (acorus calamus) to symbolize the courage (some say may be substituted with yellow rice), red feathers to fly, light the torch of bamboo for torches (some say may be substituted with a lighter), leaves of sago (metroxylon sagus) for shelter and rope knot of skin kepuak as symbol of unity must also be prepared and put into the bowl then wrapped in red cloth. 

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