Tuesday Tales #7: Rasang & To’ Anit

Reading Time: 2 minutes
(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)

Rasang (Shamanic Worship Altar)
As told by: Chris Adam
Origin: Bidayuh (Jagoi)
Edited by: Adrian Jo Milang & Juvita Tatan Wan
Sketch by: Loretta Livan Milang

Rasang is a shamanic altar used by the Bidayuh during harvest. At a certain part of the ritual the Dayung Borih (female shamans) would circle around it as they chant to call the spirits to inhabit the Rasang and to get their blessings for future harvest.

Back in the village of Jagoi, Bau, where my family’s home is, we have a storage facility for the Rasang and other shamanic items somewhere around the house too.

One day, my Dad incidentally whistled during the night. He was going about his night and minding his own business, not knowing there were impending consequences.

When he woke up the next morning, his cheek had a bruise, as if he had gotten into an altercation and was slapped. He was petrified and went to ask my grandmother how he got a bruise, as he went to sleep without any prior accident or injury.

She told him “You must have upset the spirits that linger in the Rasang. Remember not to do so again.”

Although as a community who have been converted to Christianity, we still believe that there are other unseen forces that live among us, and sometimes we must abide by their rules.

To’ Anit (Skinless Man)
As told by: Hureng Emang
Origin: Kayan (Tubau)
Translated and edited by: Adrian Jo Milang
Sketch by: Loretta Livan Milang

As night encroaches the realm, covering the longhouse in a blanket of darkness, crickets, gibbons and birds grow tired of singing, talking and chirping, a gust of cold ghastly wind blows.

Echoing the sound of the breeze, a soft wail levels along. The stronger the wild lonely wind blows, the louder his aching wail follows, imitating the eerie howls of sleepless dogs baying at the moon.

A torturing cry of despair, grasping every hearing senses, a misfortune for those who are still out and about, for his cries pierce even to the hearts of the bravest.

When his songs are composed, lock your doors, close your ears, and beg your eyes to fall asleep – for he is the To’ Anit, muting the night with his agonising cries, as the wind that blows through his skinless being, cuts his exposed limbs like the sharpest knives.

Therefore, when the wind blows with eerie silence, when it’s not the season of festivities or we are not singing tales, we retire early.

We would not want to find out what he is capable of doing.

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