Introduction / History The Melayu Kalimantan (Kalimantan Malay) live in the province of West Kalimantan along the coast and in the islands of the Karimata Strait. The lush and mountainous island of Borneo is politically divided between the countries of Malaysia and Indonesia (and the tiny enclave of Brunei) and inhabited by two major groups of peoples, Muslim Malays and Christian and animistic Dayaks. The Melayu Kalimantan are sometimes called the Melayu Dayak (Dayak Malay), because they are a segment of the Dayak cluster of people groups that has converted to Islam. The Malay peoples of Southeast Asia live primarily in five countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore and Thailand. The language of the Melayu Kalimantan is Dayak Melayu, consisting of the Tapitn, Banana', Kayung (Kayong), Delang, Semitau, Suhaid and Mentebah-Suruk dialects.
What are their lives like? The Melayu Kalimantan are an agrarian people, subsisting primarily on the produce of their fields and gardens, as well fresh and salt water fish. Their cash crops include rice, coconut and rubber. Some also work as government employees and traders. The largest city in the Melayu Kalimantan area is Pontianak, the capitol of West Kalimantan Province. Pontianak was founded on a promontory where the Kapuas Besar (Large Kapuas), Kapuas Kecil (Small Kapuas) and Landak Rivers intersect. According to legend, this location was inhabited by the ghost of a woman who died in labor (pontianak), thus the name of the city. The city became the center of the Pontianak Malay kingdom, established under the rule of Sultan Syarif Abdurachman Alkadrie on October 23, 1771. Their kinship system is bilateral (tracing descent through both parents). Custom dictates that a new couple stays in the home of the wife until the birth of the first child, at which time the family then establishes their own home. Their residential areas are called kampung. Generally, their homes are raised on stilts two meters high to prevent the entrance of wild animals. Customary clothing for males is the traditional tunic (teluk belanga) with loose pants (slawar), worn with a woven silk cloth around the waist to below the knees, and a kopiah (Muslim hat). Women wear a long close-fitting blouse and a skirt of woven silk cloth decorated with gold embroidery.
What are their beliefs? The Melayu Kalimantan are loyal adherents to Islam. Their arts and culture have been greatly influenced by the culture of Islam. However, they also still believe in superstitions and animistic practices. The activities associated with almost every element in life (birth, marriage, burial, planting a field or building a new house) involve a syncretism of Islamic culture with animistic belief. Many dukun (shaman/healer/occultist) still remain influential in traditional medicing and often give advice concerning various matters, such as marriage planning, planting crops, or choosing a name.
What are their needs? The needs of the Melayu Kalimantan are compounded by their environment, which is difficult to reach and is therefore lagging behind other areas of Southeast Asia in education, industry and economic standards.
Widely dispersed; Kalimantan Tengah Province, southwest, Sukamara, Lamandau, Kotawaringgin Barat, Koti Timur and Katingan regencies; Kalimantan Barat Province, along Kapuas river, dispersed between small region near Sintang and larger one around Putussibau, third area around Sandai; from Ketapang city northeast towards Kotabaru; Semitau, Suhaid, and Mentebah-Suruk dialects: southeast of Kapuas river, from Sintang to Putus Sibau towns; Banana and Tapitn dialects: area bounded by Singakawang, Bengkayang, Darit, and Sungairaya towns; Kayung and Delang dialects: area bounded by Sandai, Muarakayang, Pembuanghulu, Sukamara, and Sukaraja townsTanjung Riau, east and southeast; Semitau, Suhaid, and Mentebah-Suruk dialects: southeast of Kapuas river, from Sintang to Putus Sibau towns; Banana and Tapitn dialects: area bounded by Singakawang, Bengkayang, Darit, and Sungairaya towns; Kayung and Delang dialects: area bounded by Sandai, Muarakayang, Pembuanghulu, Sukamara, and Sukaraja towns. (Source: Ethnologue 2016)