Sunday, 6 May 2012


Not to be confused with the Penan, the Punan Bah or Punan is a distinct ethnic group found in Sarawak, Malaysia. They are mostly found around the Bintulu area and also in Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo.

Source of some of the photos : Anak Borneo

They live on a mixed economy, engaging in swidden style of agriculture, with hill paddy as the main crop & supplemented by a range of other tropical plants. Hunting, fishing, and gathering of forest resources are the other important contributors to their economy.

In recent times, many of the educated younger generation gradually migrated to urban areas such as Bintulu, Sibu, Kuching and Kuala Lumpur in search of better living & returning home occasionally, especially during major festivities such as Harvest Festival / or Bungan festival.

At the moment, the term Punan is often indiscrimately & collectively used to refer to the then unknown or yet to be classified tribes as such as Punan Busang, Penihing, Sajau Hovongan, Uheng Kareho, Merah, Aput, Tubu, Bukat, Ukit, Habongkot and Penyawung.

There has been no effort to comprehensively study or research on this ensemble of tribes; these communities lack the privilege and are deprived of their rights to be recognized as individual & unique races (with their own tradition, language & cultural heritage) within the nation's list of ethnic classification, resulting to more than 20 different tribes / ethnics (unrelated to one another) found on the island of Borneo being lumped together into one ethnic group, which includes;

Punan Busang
Punan Penihing
Punan Batu
Punan Sajau
Punan Hovongan of Kapuas Hulu, West Kalimantan
Punan Uheng Kereho of Kapuas Hulu, West Kalimantan
Punan Murung of Murung Raya, Central Kalimantan
Punan Aoheng (Suku Dayak Pnihing) of East Kalimantan
Punan Merah (Siau)
Punan Aput
Punan Merap
Punan Tubu
Punan Ukit/Bukitan
Dayak Bukat
Punan Habongkot
Punan Panyawung

Punan/Penan nose flute called "Suling"

Relevant entry :


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