Tuesday Tales #4: Apai Saloi Goes Bird Trapping


(This is Tuesday Tales, where we highlight folklores and personal stories from indigenous peoples from all across Borneo. These are stories shared with us. We strive to edit it to the best of our capabilities for your enjoyment. We welcome your feedback at hello@thetuyang.com)

Origin of folklore: Iban Community (Tubau)
English translation by:
Adrian Jo Milang
Edited by:
Juvita Tatan Wan
Sketch by:
Loretta Livan Milang


One day, Apai Saloi went to trap birds.

Not long after he set his trap, it caught many kinds of fowls, such as rhinoceros hornbills, helmeted hornbills and other kinds of big birds.

When he went to untangle it, he got caught in the trap, and the birds took flight with him in it.

They flew far and high. Then, the trap snapped. Apai Saloi fell into the house of Dayang Menteri, an arrogant, wealthy, and well groomed maiden who seeks only to marry descendants from the sky.

Having witnessed Apai Saloi’s sudden fall from above, Dayang Menteri and her people were thrilled.

They took him in and graced him with their hospitality, believing him to be a descendant from the skies. They bathed him, cleaned and dressed him handsomely in elaborate clothings, as he had arrived dirty from his journey and was only wearing a shabby old loincloth. 

To Apai Saloi’s delight, Dayang Menteri took his hand in marriage, as she believed that he is the person that Dayang Menteri had been longing for as a husband.

Meanwhile, Apai Saloi’s wife, Indai Saloi began to worry as her husband had not returned and disappeared without a trace. She went out to seek for her husband, near and far. With no success, Indai Saloi finally tried to look for him at the residence of Dayang Menteri and cried out to her people,

“Have any of you seen Apai Saloi? He has been gone for some time now. Before he disappeared he told me he went to trap birds.”

Dayang Menteri and her people looked at her newly wedded husband and asked him, “After all this while then, are you Apai Saloi?”

With a straight face Apai Saloi replied, “Yes, I am.” 

Dayang Menteri’s people were taken aback, but showed him to Indai Saloi anyway.

Dayang Menteri felt disgusted and humiliated, having been married to a common man who she thought was a descendant of the skies. She then went to cleanse her bedroom, wardrobe, tables, chairs and everything in her house.

Seeing that show of revulsion for him, Apai Saloi bitterly said,

“You had cleansed everything in your house, except your actions with me as your husband.”

Hearing his words, Dayang Menteri felt so ashamed of herself.

She climbed atop the roof of her house and called out to the gods to cast her into a bird.

Her prayers were heard. With all her jewellery and elaborate clothings, she turned into a Burung Tiong (a grackle).

That is why until this day, the Burung Tiong speaks like a human being, and boasts a beautiful neckline akin to a shimmering necklace.

Dayang Menteri and Burung Tiong

Moral of the story: One should not be arrogant.

Edited to suit a younger audience, without changing the context of the original version. 

For non-commercial replication, kindly credit the website, storyteller and translator. For commercialisation opportunities or feedback – please reach out to hello@thetuyang.com.

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