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The Salako Custom of Paddy Planting

Updated on August 13, 2009

Salako Custom of Paddy Planting

By: Sunawar Owat Version (
Translated By: Naremang Salako (
This story is a translation from Sunawar Owat version about the Salako custom in paddy planting. I am aware that this story might differ from other version which is usually told orally. So far I still can’t find any written story about Salako folklore, and to me this is the best version I can find. I have heard this story before when I was still a child, but I can’t remember much of it. I tried my best to explain and write the story as the written version in Bahasa Indonesia by Sunawar Owat. Beside translating this story, I’m also trying to explain in terms of the Salako custom according to universal view of interpreting this story. Before I continue with this work, I would like to say special thanks to Sunawar Owat for posting and publishing this story, and to all the administrators of Komunitas Dayak Blogger web page, especially to Oktavianus Arthadiputra.
Part One:
This story happens as believe by the Salako people that there is a greater world of Gods and Goddess called Sepangko in Kayangan (a place far greater than heaven). This Place is a place where all the custom or law in their life is learned.
It has been told for centuries about a story of Nek Panitah (Give Orders) and his wife Nek Duniang (Worldly). Although they are husband and wife, but they never sleep together. After many years, it is said that one day Nek Panitah prayed and asked to have a child. He said, “Oh Jubata (God), I asked You to make a child for me”. Then, suddenly after Nek Panitah finished his word, appear a male child in front of him. Nek Panitah gave the child a name, and because the child doesn’t went through any circumcision, Nek Panitah name him Baruakng Kulub (uncircumcised Bear)
Baruakng has grown up to be a young playful boy. He went down to earth to play with his two human friend by the name of Umang-Umang and Bulit-Bulit. The three of them like to play gasing (top spinning), and Baruakng always win. Baruakng knows well that his two friends still eat “Kulat Karakng” (a type of mushrooms) and that why his two friends never wins against him.
One day Baruakng goes down to earth again. As he went, he forgot that a few grain of rice still stick at his calf. As they were playing, the few grain of rice is seen by Umang-Umang. He took it and ate it. Suddenly Umang-Umang feels very energetic. He continues playing and he defeated Baruakng.
When he loses, Baruakng asked Umang-Umang, ”How can you defeat me?”A little bit surprise, Umang-Umang said, “I ate something that stuck at your calf, and may I know what it is?” “O my friends, that is rice.” Baruakng answered. “What is rice?” asked Bulit-Bulit
“Well, before it cooked to be eaten, we have to get grain called rice from a paddy grain. Actually I don’t realize the grain of rice stuck at my calf after I had my meal,” answered Baruakng.
“Can you please bring it for us to see,” beg Umang-Umang
With a sad voice Baruakng said, “It’s difficult. My mum and dad will get angry if I brought it down. They say it is prohibited for human being in the world. Human being “piroro” (doesn’t care or do not prudent enough),”

Because Baruakng feel so sad, he rushes back to his world called Sepangko (A place where God and Goddess stay). When he reaches his world, he rushes to their paddy hut, where they kept their entire harvested paddy. At the paddy hut, Baruakng met his mother and asked permission from his mother about his intention. Then his mother said to him, “Let’s go home. Don’t you ever bring the paddy down to earth because if your father knows, he will be angry with you.” And so both of them went home.

The next day, Baruakng followed his mother to their paddy hut. While his mother is working at the paddy field alone, Baruakng took one paddy grain and hide it in his leather trouser. Unfortunately his father knows it and he was scolded badly by his father.

Baruakng misses his earthling friends a lot, and so he went down to earth to meet them.
When he meets Umang-Umang and Bulit-Bulit, he asked them to play gasing with him.
Then Umang-Umang asked him, “Do you bring the paddy?”
With a sad voice Baruakng told his that he didn’t bring the paddy grain because his father has found out about his intention.
“Why don’t you hide the paddy grain inside your foreskin of your penis” suggested Umang-Umang.

On hearing Umang-Umang suggestion, Baruakng rushes back to his place. He took one paddy grain and hid it inside his foreskin penis as suggested by Umang-Umang. Then he rushes back down.
When he met his friend again, Baruakng reminded them, “Don’t you ever plant this paddy grain outside your house. Please plant it at your dapur (place for cooking made of soil using fire wood) so that my father won’t see it.”

As the story goes, Umang-Umang planted the paddy grain that Baruakng gives him at the month of June, July and August. The paddy grows into seedling, first comes out the shoots, then the flowers. From flowers it matured into paddy grains, then it turn golden and ready to be harvested.
Then one day, NeK Panitah look down to earth and he was so surprise to see the golden color of the ripen paddy grain on earth. He got so angry. “ Look what have Baruakng done. He has given the scared paddy to the human. It is your fault. You never look after him properly when he went down to play,” said Nek Panitah scolding Nek Duniang, his wife.
“Well, what can I do because I have told him not to,” explain Nek Duniang.
“Unworthy wife, it is your entire fault. I will kill that child,” said Nek Panitah angrily.

Upon hearing what the husband had said, Nek Duniang cried loudly. She knows that what the husband had said means he will do it. So she secretly went down and meets Baruakng. She advise him,“ Go and hide as far away as you can, because you have done something very wrong that made your father very angry with you. You should not give the paddy grain to the human.”

Nek Panitah is getting ready to punish his son Baruakng. He made pate’ (a trap made from a piece of wood which is sharpen to kill). Mean while, Nek Duniang stops crying and her skin turn scaly. She looks down and he saw Baruakng in sadness because he is longing to return home to be with his parents. Out of pity, Nek Duniang send an adoh (old female pig) down to her husband pate’, and the adoh is killed by the pate’. She then told him about it. “Look that is our son dead body that turn into an adoh. He was killed by your pate.” She then went and meet her son, and said,” Be good my son. Follow a straight road. If you turn right, you will reach Subayatn (heaven), and if you turn left you will reach earth where human lives.”

After listening to his mother advice, Baruakng then start walking, and he forgot that he had turn to the right path, and reach Subayatn. In Subayatn, Baruakng meet a beautiful lady by the name Si Putih (the white). They fell in love with each other. They then get married. After a few years of marriage, Baruakng is longing to see his mother again. And so he went back to meet his mother.

Upon meeting his mother, his mother asked him, “Which way do you choose to go, my son?” “I followed the straight path and turn right. Then I meet one beautiful lady, Si Putih and married her.” Baruakng answered her mother. “My son,” his mother said, “I want you to return back to your wife. When you are with her, I want you to look for gutu (lice) at your wife head. At the top part of her head, I want you to pluck one of the hairs. By doing this, she will hate you,” said his mother.

While Baruakng was away, his wife Si Putih was dreaming to get pregnant. “I have been married to Baruakng for a long time, but until now I still can conceive,” she told herself. Then she got pregnant. After nine month ten days of pregnancy, she gave birth to all kind of birds.

When Baruakng return back to his wife, he was surprise to see that his wife has given birth to all kind of birds. He was so sad to see what had happen to wife, until he forgot his mother advice. “Tomorrow I must return to my mother, “said Baruakng to himself. And so he went up again to meet his mother. When he meets his mother, he asked her, “Mother, why did my wife give birth to all kind of birds? What food shall I give them? Who shall I name them?”
Then the mother said to Baruakng,” O my son, it’s not difficult to give name to your children. All you need is to plant an aur (a thin, small type of bamboo with small long spiking leaves) at the end of your pante’ (a place to dry paddy grains or other things). Then you release one by one of your children there. You start by releasing the oldest first, and you name them by saying Keto, then Kohor, Caruit, Buria’,(birds species name in Salako). You start again, also by releasing the oldest first, and you name them by saying Biang, then Jantek, Ro’oh, Jeje, Ansit, Dugal, Tongo’,Adatn, and Kijakng. This is the step and processes of how you start bauma batahutn (process of paddy farming).

“O my son returns back to your wife. You must divorce her. Just pluck a piece of her hair, she will hate you,” advise Nek Duniang again to Baruakng. Then came Nek Panitah, Baruakng father , and said, “You must divorce her. Then you should go down to earth and teach them about the custom of bauma batahutn. It is you who has given human the paddy. You should find another wife of human origin.”

And so Baruakng follows what his mother and father had asked him to do. Then he went down to earth, and he married to Jamani, a human being. After some time as husband and wife, Jamani got pregnant. Jamani delivered a baby boy, and the child is given a name Kulikng Langit. Kulikng Langit grows into a playful teenager. Close to their house, there is a fruiting Langsat tree (a type of small round tropical fruits when the fruit ripen turn into golden yellow colors. It flash is whitish and taste sweet). The desire to eat the ripen Langsat fruit is so great that made Kulikng Langit climb the Langsat tree.
While Baruakng is getting ready to go up to Sepangko to meet his parent, not knowing that Kulikng Langit has climb the Langsat tree, he advice his wife,”O my wife, I’m going to meet my parent. Tell him while I’m away not to ignore what his brothers and sisters says (Keto, Jantek etc.). If our son want to climb up or went down a tree, please asked him not to ignore the words of Kohor, Jantek, Keto, Buria’, Biang, Ro’oh, Jeje. If our son ignores what his brothers and sisters say, something bad will happen to him.”

When Kulikng Langit knows that his father was away, he climbed the Langsat tree to get it fruits. While he was climbing, Keto fly by in front of him. He knows because his mother had told him what his father said he should not do. Keto fly by him for three times, yet still Kulikng Langit ignored his sister and continue climbing. Before he could reach the top, he slips and fell down. His body fell directly at the top of a boulder, and he died.

Upon realizing what had happen, Keto said,”O my brothers and sisters, we should tell our father what had happen to our human brother. And so Keto with the brothers and sisters brought Kulikng Langit dead body to Sepangko.
Upon receiving his grandson dead body, Nek Panitah said, “I am the One who gives life to you, rise and breathe again.” Kulikng Langit was alive again, but he was prohibited to return to earth. Then he turn to Baruakng, and said,”O Baruakng, return back to the world of human. Teach them the Palangkahan (a technique of avoiding dangers while doing their chores) from all birds sound.” And so , until today the human being (Salako) still believe that birds sounds brings a sign when they want to start their chores, especially about their bauma batahutn custom.

I'm still working about the interpretation of this story. Hope to finish it.
Thank you for reading and I would like comments please.


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