| Total population
|| 158,700 (Sarawak only)
| Regions with significant populations
|| Sarawak & West Kalimantan
|| Bukar-Sadong, Singai-Jagoi, Biatah(Siburan, Padawan & Bia'), Bra'ang-Pinyawa, Sepug-Emperoh & Gumbang
|| Christianity & Animist
| Related Ethnic Groups
|| Bekati', Binyadu, Jongkang, Ribun, Salako, Lara, Sanggau, Sara', Tringgus, Semandang & Ahé.
Bidayuh is the collective name for several indigenous groups found in southern Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, that are broadly similar in language and culture (see also Issues below). The name "Bidayuh" means 'inhabitants of land'. Originally from the western part of Borneo, the collective name Land Dayaks was first used during the period of Rajah James Brooke, the White Rajah of Sarawak. They constitute one of the main indigenous groups in Sarawak and live in towns and villages around Kuching and Samarahan in the Malaysian state of Sarawak. Related groups are also found in west Kalimantan. In Sarawak, most of Bidayuh population are found within 40 km of the geographical area known as Greater Kuching, within the Kuching and Samarahan division. They are the second largest Dayak ethnic group in Sarawak after the Iban.
Predominantly Bidayuh areas are: Lundu
, Penrissen, Padawan
, and Serian
. Most of the Bidayuh villages can be found in the rural areas of Lundu, Bau, Padawan, Penrissen and Serian district. The area in which they live is mainly in the basin of the Sarawak River
and hilly to mountainous forest, traditionally worked by rotational agriculture and hunting based around farms populated from parent villages situated on the hills for protection. Today, almost all the traditional longhouse
-villages have been replaced by individual houses, by roads and there is some plantation agriculture and a reduced emphasis on the growing of hill-padi. Fruit trees, especially durian
, remain important property markers. The distinctive architectural and cultural feature of the Bidayuh is the headhouse, now adopted as a symbol.
In Sarawak there are generally said to be three main linguistic groupings (Biatah
) but these can be broken down even beyond the list referenced below as most people can be distinguished by locals down to village level through smaller differences in vocabulary and intonation. Each area speak its own dialect:
- Lundu speak Jagoi, Salako & Lara
- Bratak, Singai, Krokong and Jagoi speak Singai-Jagoi
- Penrissen and the Siburan vicinity speak Biatah
- Bidayuhs who live around Serian such as Tebekang, Mongkos, Tebedu to Tanjung Amo near the border of Kalimantan Indonesia speak Bukar-Sadong.
- Bidayuhs in Padawan speak several but related dialects like Bi-anah, Pinyawa, Braang, Bia', Sepug & Emperoh.
The dialects are not mutually intelligible and English or Malay are often used as common languages.
The Serian Bidayuhs have a distinct dialect known as the Bukar-Sadong
Bidayuh, which is not intelligible to Bidayuhs from other Districts. Here are some examples of the differences in the various dialects spoken in Serian, with their English and Malay equivalents:
| Father|| Bapa|| Amang|| Sama|| Sama|| Sama'|| Apak, Bapak|| Amang, Ama |
| Mother|| Ibu|| Andĕ|| Sino|| Sinĕ|| Sin(d)o|| Inuk, Indok, Umak|| Inang, Ina |
| Food || makanan|| pima-an|| pinguman|| pimaan|| Pinguman|| Pamakanan|| Pagkain |
| Rice|| nasi|| songkoi/sungkoi || tubi|| tubi|| Tubi|| nasik|| kanin |
| I|| aku/saya|| aku|| oku|| ku|| Ěku|| aku|| ako |
| You|| engkau/awak|| amu/akam|| mu-u/ingan|| ku-u/kaam|| (K)u'u/ ka'am|| kau|| ikaw |
Religion & beliefs
Bidayuhs are traditionally animist, and vestiges of these beliefs still remain. The British colonial times (known as the Brooke family era) saw the arrival of Christian missionaries, bringing education and modern medicine. The great majority of Bidayuh are now Christians, majority of them being Roman Catholic. However, since the establishment of Malaysia and the increasing political influence of the Malays, a small number of Bidayuh have converted to Islam.
Most Bidayuh villages have either a Roman Catholic or Anglican church or a mosque -- rarely more than one or the village would tend to split. The Biatah people, who live in the Kuching area, are Anglican, while the people of the Bau area are Catholic. Muslims can be found in areas like Padawan (Kampung Bisira and Kampung Darul Islam Belimbing) and Bau (Kampung Segubang (50%)) but Muslim Bidayuh villages are extremely rare.
The Bidayuh of Bau have a unique tradition of hanging the bodies of the dead on trees and left to rot away. The skeletons are left on trees as a reminder of the dead. The tradition is rarely done nowadays.
Salako & Lara people issues
Although classified as "Bidayuh" by the Malaysian government, the Salako and Lara culture have little resemblance to other Bidayuh groups and their oral tradition claim different descent and migration histories. Linguistically, the Salako belong to another language family tree which is of the Malayic-Dayak
family (the same family as the Iban
). The Lara, although said to be more related to the Bidayuh (Jagoi-Singai), speak a language almost not mutually intelligible at all with the Bidayuh but belonged to the same language family tree which is the Land Dayak
. Even their customary rituals and rites differ from the other Bidayuhs (all Bidayuhs share almost the same ritual and customary rites).
The Bidayuh have a musical heritage consisting of various types of agung ensembles
- ensembles composed of large hanging, suspended or held, bossed/knobbed gongs
which act as drone without any accompanying melodic instrument.