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As Night Falls: A Dusun Harvest Ritual in Brunei1

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The Dusuns of Brunei constitute the largest non-Muslim indigenous minority of the state, numbering a little under 10,000 and remain the only indigenous group maintaining an ancient Bornean religion in vital form. But "pressures of modernization" and, most recently, government-sponsored Islamization have made inroads into these beliefs and practices. Just as the crocodile has been driven to the edge of extinction in Brunei rivers by hunters from other ethnic groups, so also is the survival of Dusun religion now questionable in the face of cultural inroads originating not only from economic development but from the limitless pretensions of the state. This essay presents in some detail a ritual which has remained immune to the impact of Islam among its performers to date. As the myths continue to fall into oblivion, the temarok buayo remains a context where the traditionally intimate relationship between the crocodile and Dusuns is still celebrated.

Affiliations: 1: Centre for South-East Asian Studies University of Hull


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