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Belian Ceremony of the Dayak Benuaq, Kalimantan Timur

Location : Kampung Sekolaq Joleq, Kecamatan Sekolaq Darat, Kabupaten Kutai Barat, Kalimantan Timur, Indonesia.

Luck was with us just as we were about to leave Melak town we were informed that that very evening there would be a ‘belian’ ceremony which was a thanks giving ceremony and in this particular case for a successful healing of an elderly man. After his son had accumulated a good sum of money to buy a totem pole, a sacrificial buffalo and lots of food for a whole village can this ceremony be held.

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat,

Totem pole (Tonggak Keramat) for the ceremony

Rianto the son of the healed man in his 80s had to accumulate RP48,000,000 for this very grand event. Rianto explained to me before the sacrifice began that in the olden day a man of the enemy tribe was used in place of the modern buffalo until one incident when the captured enemy managed to escaped and killed each and every one of the villagers who were all drunk from the celebration. Since then no humans were ever used again for the sacrifice. The function started off with Rianto giving a speech standing on top of the wooden cage where the buffalo was kept.

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, tonggak keramat,

The audience

Rianto waiting for instruction to kick start the ceremony.

Rianto waiting for instruction to kick start the ceremony.

After which the buffalo was tied with a long rattan to the totem pole. As the chanting and music began men with bamboo spears started chasing after the poor animal spearing it. Not the best sight to behold for animal lovers.

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, tonggak keramat,

The drummer controlling the tempo of the ceremony

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, tonggak keramat,

Letting the buffalo out

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, tonggak keramat, East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, tonggak keramat,

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, tonggak keramat,

Man with spear chasing after the buffalo

The episode was made more humane with the buffalo wrestled to the ground before a machete was used to slice through the throat of the animal. East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, tonggak keramat,East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, tonggak keramat, East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, tonggak keramat,The music increased in tempo with dancers, chanters and well wishers taking blood with their hands and smeared it on the totem pole.

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, tonggak keramat,

Taking fresh blood

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, tonggak keramat,

And smeared it on totem pole

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, tonggak keramat,

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, tonggak keramat,

Totem pole with smeared blood

More chanting continued.

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, tonggak keramat,

Chanting

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, tonggak keramat,

Hand with blood

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, tonggak keramat, East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, tonggak keramat,

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, tonggak keramat,

Traditional headgear

Finally the buffalo was lifted up to a truck and transported back to the host’s house to be cooked.

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, tonggak keramat,

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, tonggak keramat,

New friends

Lots of other stuff was going on like a fun fair with the best being the performance of a live band.

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, Belian ceremony.

Live band

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, Belian ceremony.

Fun fair

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, Belian ceremony.

Food stalls

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, Belian ceremony.The lead guitarist happened to be a sape player by the name of Warjani. He was electrifying!

East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dayak Tunjung, Borneo, outdoors, authentic, ethnic, traditional, indigenous, native, Melak, Kutai Barat, West Kutai, Culture, Tonyooi tribe, Benuaq, Sekolaq Darat, totem pole, Belian ceremony.

With the hottest sape player ever, Warjani the lead guitarist

The dangdut singers in traditional attire were awesome too.

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