The Long Houses of the Dayak
The Dayak, some of the original inhabitants of Borneo, build long houses on stilts, using ironwood for the structure and tree bark for the walls; the floor are simple planks of wood placed side by side. The length of these houses was for the last century of 110 meters (over 360 feet) and today they generally range from 10 to 70 meters (33 to 230 feet).
On Borneo the long house forms a center for both social life and for rituals. Here people meet to talk after work, and its here the central ceremonies and rituals of the group are performed.
In each long house is a central stilt or main post which is the first to be placed in position when the house is built. This post is associated with the ancestor who founded the house has a sacred signifiance; it stands in the center of the house and its looked on as the link between the underworld and the upper world. The long houses were often decorated with representations of water snakes and rhinoceros birds. They were connected with the group’s central creation myth, for water snake is associated with the underworld and the rhinoceros bird with the upper world of the good spirits.
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