Long Ear Lobes of Dayak Tribe, Kalimantan

Kalimantan or Borneo is the world’s third largest island covering the area of 747,000 square kilometer and much of the island covered by one of the world’s largest stretches of tropical rain forest through which flows tremendous mighty rivers which are the island’s highway. As home to one of the biggest tropical rain forests, the island is also home for hundreds species of flora and fauna. The Dayak Peoples known as the head hunter during head hunting expedition age in the past. Recognized almost 200 hundreds different tribes spread to entire Borneo and each tribe has totally different culture, language and tradition.



The Dayaks tribes came to Kalimantan as a migration from other parts in Asia about 3000 years ago. Dayak are defined in more then 200 different tribes; the main tribes are the Bakumpai and Dayak Bukit of South Kalimantan; the Ngajus and Baritos of Central Kalimantan; the Benuas, Kayan, Kenyah, and the nomadic Punan of East Kalimantan, and the Ibans of West Kalimantan and Malaysian Borneo. Traditionally, Dayak agriculture was based on swidden hill rice cultivation called “ladang” and “hutan”. Dayaks organize their labor in terms of holding groups which determined who owned rights to land and how it was to be used. Nowadays, the Dayaks work in the mining industry, wood industry, and on the plantations of Kalimantan.


Meet the Long Eared Dayak

The elongated ear lobe that could be found in Borneo is a dying art. Ear lobes were elongated by piercing at an early age and brass weights ear rings are put on for the sole reason of elongating the ear lobes. It was suppose to signify beauty for the wearer and men and women can be found to have elongated ear lobes.  Maybe men’s grooming did not start with the modern age after all Elongated ear lobes also signify status. The longer it is the more significant that person is to the tribe. Perhaps the length is due to age as the ears can only be elongated over time.


The Dayak indigenous religion is a form of animism called “Kaharingan”, and seems to be close with Hinduism. The practice of Kaharingan religion differs from tribe to tribe. The spirit is believed to partake in the celebration, a mark of honor and respect to past ancestries and blessings for a prosperous future.

Since 1970 missionaries came in to Kalimantan and most Dayaks converted to Christianity which was introduced by European and American missionaries. The relations between all religious groups are generally good. Despite the destruction of pagan religions in Europe by Christians, most of the people who try to conserve the Dayak’s religion are missionaries.In the Coastal cities the populations are largely Muslim, influenced by the relatively high cultural Javanese Majapahit Kingdoms and the Islamic Malay Sultanates that appeared periodically throughout Southeast Asian history.


The Dayaks live in longhouses, which is a structure of hardwood posts that can be hundreds of meters long, mostly located along a river bank. At one side there is a long communal platform, the other side (back side) has the individual households apartments for each family.

Headhunting kept the practice of old headhunts alive and was an important part of Dayak culture. The Dayak wars in the past Reports captured enemy heads, there have been massive coordinated raids in the interior, and throughout coastal Kalimantan.


Mandau (machetes) is a a narrow strip of a harder iron wedged into a slot in the cutting edge for sharpness. Headhunting necessitated being able to draw the machete quickly. The mandau is short, and nowadays used for trail cutting in the forest. It is holstered with the cutting edge facing upwards and at that side there is an upward protrusion on the handle, so it can be drawn very quickly with the side of the hand without having to reach over and grasp the handle first. The hand can then grasp the handle while it is being drawn. The combination of these three factors (short, cutting edge up and protrusion) makes for an extremely fast drawing action. The ceremonial mandaus used for dances are as beautifully adorned with feathers as the dresses are.

About Borneo (Kalimantan):

For any natural lover, trip to Borneo offer something totally unique. The island gives lot of adventures activities to choice for including: Cruising the mighty Mahakam River and its tributaries on a house boat at East Kalimantan, which meanders through thousands of kilometers through one of the world’s largest tropical rainforests. Here we will meet the Dayak Tribes, the indigenous people of Borneo Island. The twenty main Dayak tribes – once feared as headhunters have their homes in this river basin. We will observe their traditional way of life, longhouses, dances and also to meet the women with long earlobes and the men with beautifully elaborate tattoos.

Sepinggan International Airport near Balikpapan is the primary airport and fields flights from Kuala Lumpur (Air Asia) and Singapore (Silk Air) as well as many Indonesian cities, but there are no direct flights from the tourist hub in Bali. Another airport is Syamsudin Noor Airport, a regional airport located in South Kalimantan, has a good connection to major cities Jakarta, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, /Bali, Makassar, Balikpapan, Pontianak.

Contact our reservation team at booking@topindonesiaholidays.com for special tour arrangement.

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