12 December 2009

Clans


It's strange how a simple conversation can trigger a thought. Last night, as I was enjoying BBQ with my dear friends for the last time before my family moves back to KK tomorrow (and breaking the rule of no heavy food for dinner *sigh*), the topic of family gathering came up. One of the friends is going home for the christmas holiday and is looking forward to her family reunion. As she describes the activities of their family reunion which have started this month, I was impressed to know that her extended family can actually form teams for sport matches etc. I said to her that in the olden day, her family would have formed a Dusun clan which was entitled to have a 'village'. Awesome.

In the olden days, clans are formed most of all from family members. They would have lived in some sort of long house that continued to grow longer as more members of the family got married. One immediate family occupied one hall of the house, with its own kitchen. During a ritual which always involved eating though, the family that conducted the ritual was obliged to cook for the whole long house members. If they had any members who lived in another longhouse because of a marriage, these people must also be sent some of the food. I'd imagined that it must really have been time-consuming to count all the family members within a walking distance (even if that would mean a half hour walk or so) to be sent food to.

Each clan normally identified themselves by naming the place their house is located in. And those places would be named based on the geographical features, direction or based on a natural landmark like a river, a tree etc. For example, a place located uphill of the village would be called 'sokid' (upper part), and a place on the foot of a hill would be 'siba'.

And so my friend's family would have been one of these clans in the olden days.

2 comments:

azamain said...

By the time you see this comment you'll be having a hell of a time shaking off your jet lag...:). And I thought the clans were identified via the 'boss' of the house....welcome back....

vpa73 said...

It would have been great to be part of that, isn't it? The 'boss' of the house played a role but not as much as the location, I think :-)