Hornbills and Dayaknese Culture

Helmeted Hornbill
Doug Janson, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The hornbills (Bucerotidae) are a family of bird spreaded in tropical and subtropical Africa, Asia and Melanesia which consists of 57 species. Among them, there are 14 species found in Indonesia and attached to a life philosophy of the Dayak tribe.

The relationship between hornbil and dayaknese is so inherent. We can see art and cultural events in every place in Borneo where hornbills are often used as attributes on several ceremony. 

This bird is recognized has a deep meaning for the Dayak tribe who are still thick with their customs.

The hornbill itself is a sign of the connection of the dayaknese people to their natural surroundings. All parts of the hornbill's body are used as a symbol of the tribe's greatness and glory, also peace and unity. Its thick wings symbolizing a leader who always protects his people. While the long tail is considered a sign of the prosperity of the Dayak tribe.

In addition, hornbills are also used as an example of family life in the community, so that they can always love their life partner and care for their children to become independent and mature.

There is different stories and myths related to the hornbill for each region. As one story says, hornbills are the incarnation of the Bird Commander. The Bird Commander is a figure who lives in the interior mountains of Kalimantan and is in occult form and will only be present during the war. In general, these birds are considered sacred and are not allowed to be hunted or eaten.

Helmeted Hornbill is one of the largest hornbill species. This Helmeted Hornbill is known in Indonesia and has a high philosophy for the Dayak tribe.

The increasing number is the reason for the government to maintain this type of fauna to be protected by law. When it's easy, this bird has a white beak and crown, the white color of the beak and the crown will turn orange and red over time. This happens because the hornbill rubs the beak into the gland so that it produces discoloration. Hornbills like fig leaves which are their favorite food, but not infrequently insects, rats, lizards and small birds become their food.

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