Central Kalimantan, is the biggest province on the island. It occupies a surface of 153.800 square kilometers, most of it is jungle (82 percent), swamps, rivers, lakes (approximately two percent) and agriculture land (about three percent).
Central Kalimantan is referred to as Tambun Bungai earth. What does it mean?
Tambun Bungai is the name of two very famous heroes in the history of the Dayak tribe of Kalimantan, namely, the Tambun and Bungai. The history in the Dayak land called Tetek Tatum (true crying) always tells the story of the heroism of Tambun and Bungai.
Palangkaraya is the capital of this province. it is located in the regency of Pandehut, in the upper reaches of the Kahayan river.
Other regencies are Kotawaringin Barat (capital Pangkalanbun), Kotawaringin Timur (Sampit), Kapuas (Kualakapuas), Barito Selatan (Buntok) and Barito Utara (Muarateweh).
Topographically, Central Kalimantan consists of three areas :
The northern area is mountainous and far into the hinterland, it is difficult to reach. Transportation facilities are limited and much of the terrain is rough. Many rapids are found here.
The central area is dense and fertile tropical forest. Almost four-fifths of Central Kalimantan is tropical forest, producing valuable commodities such as rattan, resin, and the best woods.
The southern area is swampy and has many rivers. Although this region is hinterland, it is affected by the tides. Central Kalimantan has a humid and hot climate. The average temperature is 30° Centigrade and the annual rainfall ranges from 2276 to 3393 mms.
People and culture
Central Kalimantan is inhabited by two million people or only eight per square kilometer.
The indigenous people are the Dayaks, comprising the sub-tribe Ngaju. Ot Danum, Ma’anyan Ot Siang, Lawangan, Katingan, and others.
Ot Olong-olong and Penyawung people live in the upstream arms of the Barito and Mahakam rivers. Their livelihood is hunting, moving from one region to another. They have no fixed settlement. The Ot Danum Live in Longhouses with sometimes as many as 50 rooms.
Outside from the Dayaks, settlers from other areas of Indonesia are also found in the province.
Three big Dayak sub-tribes live in the hinterland of Central Kalimantan. They are the Ngaju, Ot Danum, and Ma’anyan.
The Ngaju initially inhabited the upstream areas of the rivers, then migrated downstream. There, their culture mixed with those of others.
Like some other Dayaks in Kalimantan, especially the Ot Danum and the Ma’anyan, the Ngaju till drylands and move from one region to another. They adhere to the old Kaharingan religion, which is a form of ancestor worship, mixed with elements of animism and dynamism.
The Ngaju people speak a language that belongs to the Barito family of languages. This language is also spoken by the Ot Danum and Ma’anyan, even by all Dayaks in Kalimantan. There are, however, minor languages, such as those of the northwest Barito area, spoken by the Ot Danum, and the southeast, which is spoken by the Ma’anyan.
The Ngaju have seen progress. Many of them live in the towns, have enjoyed an education and are intelligent. Many of them work as a government of officials in South Kalimantan.
The Ot Danum inhabit the upstream regions of the Kahayan, Barito, Kapuas or Rungan rivers. Some of them also live along riversides in West Kalimantan. Their original settlements are found in the northern part of Tumbang Miri, in the upstream reaches of the Kahayan river.
The Ot Danum live in longhouses with sometimes as many as 50 rooms. They are called Betang. Such houses are found near the headwaters of rivers in the Kapuas and East Kotawaringin regencies. The Ot Danum number approximately 6,000 people, which makes them the largest among the three sub-tribes of Central Kalimantan.
The Ot Danum, like other Dayaks, are known for their skill in plaiting rattan, palm leaves, and bamboo. Such products are made by the women and sold in the markets in towns and cities such as Kualakapuas, Banjarmasin, and Sampit.
The men are good hunters, using simple tools. They hunt pigs, deer and wild animals in the forests.
The Ma’anyan inhabit the areas east of the Barito river and its tributaries such as the Telang, Karau, Dayu, and Patai. The Ma’anyan maintain contact with Banjar (Malay) people living in the upstream regions of rivers in South Kalimantan. Along the Karau and Kayu rivers, however, the Ma’anyan associate exclusively with other Dayaks, mainly the Lawangan. The Lawangan people have been living in this region long before the Ma’anyan arrived.
Flora and Fauna
Tenggaring fruit (Nenggelium Ramboutanake) or Kapulasan is the flora that became the identity of the province of Central Kalimantan. The fruit is similar and still one clump of rambutan fruit (Nephelium lappaceum). Trees from dried fruit are grown naturally in the forests.
In addition to the Bornean orangutan, another fauna in Central Kalimantan is the Kuan Melayu Bird or the Dwarf Peacock (Polyplectron malacense). This bird is similar to the Peacock, has a brown fur with green metallic spots that resemble the eye.