Tuesday Tales #25 : The Legend of Nkadis Niruk

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Origin : Tubau Kayan
Transcribed by : Professor Dr. William Robert Geddes
Translated by: Haslina Bujang, The Patriots (Bahasa Melayu), Adrian Jo Milang (English)
Edited by: Juvita Tatan Wan
Sketch by: Loretta Livan Milang

(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)

There were once seven brothers from the Bidayuh community of Serian. All of them intended to go for a headhunting expedition at a distant village, so they asked their mother to pack some food supplies for their journey.

As per her sons request,  she packed some food and other essentials for them. But, there was a twist in their request, they asked their mother to pound some paddy seeds which were meant to be used to during the end of the harvest celebration.

Their mother was taken aback, as it is tabooed to do such thing, but they were insistent. Albeit taboo, she did as asked of her. She pounded they paddy seeds into a dry rice cake.

After their preparation was done, they began their journey. After a week of venturing through the forest and river streams they arrived at their destination.

Their presence were not noticed by the villagers that they were about to raid or headhunt. After finding a spot not too far from the village they set up camp and observed the village’s activities. As there were only seven of them they can’t risk a frontal attack but ambush. 

Their patience began to wear thin as they were exhausted from their long journey. 

Little did they know that their impatient yet surprised attack on the village would be their undoing. They slew and beheaded a teenager on the verandah but it was noticed by the rest of the villagers.

When the women came about and saw the attack they began to panic therefore alerting the rest of the villagers. They gathered to strike back at the seven siblings. They tried to escape but their effort was futile as they fell into the villagers’ trap. 

For their insolent act, they were beheaded. 

But, back then a beheading was not done without ceremony and respect be it a morbid occasion, as to avoid disaster to befall upon the people who would carry out the act. 

An example was set by this seven brothers, as they possessed a guardian spirit called Kamang. As his masters were slaughtered in the disarray and without ceremony, Kamang wrecked verbal chaos. Screaming, shrieking all day and night. 

The villagers couldn’t stand the shrieking and screaming any longer so they called upon a shaman to their aid. Soon enough, the shaman came. He incarnated Kamang into a blue grasshopper, Nkadis Niruk.

Therefore that was how the angered guardian spirit was turnt into Nkadis Niruk, in which it will forever more make noise, but not as eerie as it was still a Kamang 

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