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168Book Reviews King Siliman and Other Bidayuh Folk Tales. Compiled by Robert Sulis Ridu, Ritikos Jitab, and Jonas Noeb. Dayak Studies Monographs, Oral Literature Series, no. 1, 2001. xvi, 138 pp. Suket: Penan Folk Stories. Compiled byJayl Langub. Dayak Studies Monographs, Oral Literature Series, no. 2, 2001 . xii, 198 pp. ApaiAlui Becomes a Shaman and Other Iban Comic Tales. Compiled by Clifford Sather, Dayak Studies Monographs, Oral Literature Series, no. 3, 2001. xiii, 181 pp. All published by Kota Samarahan, Sarawak: Institute ofEast Asian Studies, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. For maximum impact, the first three monogiaphs ofthe Dayak Studies Program within the Institute ofEastAsian Studies at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) were published at the same time, all ofthem with the same attractive cover design and with a focus on indigenous folktales . The structure and format are also the same in each volume: there is a briefbiography ofthe story-telleis, an explanatory introduction by the compilers to provide a cultural context for the tales and the circumstances of recording, and then the collection of stories; in each monograph an English translation is provided along with the original version in Bidayuh, Penan, and Iban respectively. The stories are illustrated with nicely produced and amusing black-and-white linedrawings . One of the objectives of the Dayak Studies Program, launched in January 2001 and led by Professor Clifford Sather, who holds die Chair ofDayak Studies at UNIMAS, is to gathei, store, study, and disseminate matetial on the oial literature ofthe native populations ofBorneo, both to preserve what is in danger ofbeing lost and to document changes in the expressive arts. In this endeavour the Program, funded by the Dayak Cultural Foundation, has joined forces with the Tun Jugah Foundation, which concentrates on research on the Iban community, and the government-funded Majlis Adat Istiadat, which has a substantial storehouse of Dayak oral literature, in order to ensuie that local oral forms are recorded for posterity. In this regard it has carried on the excellent work previously undertaken by the Borneo Literature Bureau. Following its incorporation into the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, the Book Reviews1 69 Bureau became a state publishing arm ofthe national publishing house and took on several other duties so that the original focus on the publication of vernacular materials gradually changed. Some of the original pieces published by the Bureau have since been translated into Bahasa Malaysia. As Datuk Tra Zehnder says, in her Preface to the series, prior to the introduction ofmodern media into rural communities, folk-tales were not only one ofthe main sources ofentertainment (usually told as bedtime stories to children, though also on occasion to large mixed audiences of adults and children), but they also held certain moral implications for the wider society. Moral advice or guidance, and cultural expectations about proper or appropriate behaviour and action were often conveyed in an amusing, light-hearted, and indirect way, using widely known devices such as the folk-hero, the foolish, proud, or envious individual, and the trickster figure. The stories captured too the natural and cultural landscapes within which Dayak societies were nurtured and developed; they offered explanations for particular human practices and institutions, for natural phenomena, for relations between humans and their environment, and for the specific behaviour and habitats ofanimals and birds. As Jayl Langub says ofPenan tales, they "are used to mirror the realities ofeveryday Penan life" and they serve as "a repository ofPenan knowledge, beliefs and values". Professor Sather reminds us, in his Foreword to the series, of the importance of this project because "in the face of rapid change, many of these narrative forms are in danger ofbeing lost", whilst others "are being radically reshaped or are assuming new cultural roles and meanings". An important element in this work is also the making of sound recordings ofmost ofthe texts so that the richness, texture, and vitality ofthe spoken or sung word can be heard in the original. The Bidayuh volume comprises ten tales {dondan) held in the Majlis Adat Istiadat, and gathered from five story-tellers, particularly Arthur Atos Langgi, an accomplished narrator. The ten Penan stories {suket), also from the Majlis collections, were gathered from eight story-tellers; seven ofthem are animal stories...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1793-2858
Print ISSN
0217-9520
Pages
pp. 168-170
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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