Monday, April 25, 2011

Kaul Festival, Pulek Likou and Miteang

3:00 PM

God, who has given the world to men in common, has also given them reason to make use of it to the best advantage of life, and convenience. The earth, and all that is therein, is given to men for the support and comfort of their being. And all the fruits it naturally produces, and beasts it feeds, are for mankind in common, as they are produced by the spontaneous hand of nature. The Nature on the other hand is guarded and protected by the Spirits. Without the Spirits the nature will be chaotic and human will face difficult time like famine, drought or floods. Hence it is out of respect and gratitude for the Spirits and God, the melanau must celebrate Kaul.

kaul mukah

Photo: Decorative boat carrying the offering basket (Seraheang) by Si Mata Kecik

Kaul Festival is just around the corner. Despite their different beliefs and religions, the Melanaus from aboard return to Mukah to celebrate Kaul. For the melanaus today, the kaul is a cultural festival and serves as a reminder that every melanau should return once in a while to their homeland ( pulek likou, Malay: Balik Kampung) and reconnect with their culture and kin. Kaul unites the melanaus regardless of their belief and a celebration of great tolerance that the melanaus are very proud of.

ipok balau dance

Photo: Ipok Balau (Sago Spirit) dance by LurhaS

To those who can't make it, their relatives will usually send traditional foods like sago pearls, tebalui ( sago cake) or dried fish. This custom is called Miteang ( English: to ask someone to deliver something) and very popular among the melanaus. In fact this custom contributes greatly to the spread of melanau culture throughout the world.

Learn Melanau would like to wish happy Kaul Festival. May this year be the best year of your life!

Kaul Festival- A Celebration of Nature, Friendship and Gratitude

A seat with a view

Photo: Playing with the Spirits on The Tibow, the death defying 20-foot high swing

Bulan Pengejin or the month of the spirits, is the month where Melanaus honour the spirit and be close with them before they harvest the gifts of these guardians for them from the sea, the land and the air. Kaul is celebrated on the first month of Bulan Pengejin to thank the Spirits for a bountiful year past and a prayer for a good year ahead.


The animistic Melanaus believe that the world is protected and guarded by the good Spirits called Ipok, the bad Spirits called Tou and the head of the Spirits is a supreme Being called Ala Taala. This makes the animistic Melanau belief almost monotheistic.

Photo: The Tibow, the death defying 20-foot high swing by Sharmabelle

Everything has its Spirit and must be respected in order to keep the balance and Order of the Universe. This can only be done by observing the Adet. Adet is a set of law that governs the daily life of both the melanaus and the spirits. The Adet demands that Kaul must be performed every year.

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Learn Melanau by provides insider information about melanau unique cultures and language


  1. It me again, for melanau seduan, we called our tibau as itut and it quite different from mukah. The one that we build is much more bigger and the steps much more higher. If you still remember previously held at Borneo Cultural Festival for 1st till 3rd edition, there was a big melanau swing built in the middle of Town Square. I was proud i able to contribute helping to build those 3 big swings and played with it before i transfers to KL. Nowadays, some of the our villagers youth does not keen to revive this games and do not knows how to erect one. Only some of us was lucky to see how it was built from scratch. I hope that younger generation of melanau seduan does not forget their root. There a lot of other traditional melanau games such as jang inah, pesak and others.

  2. thanks for your interesting infos. Nowadays we take granted for our culture but once all these are gone, the melanaus will only be known by their names in history books :(

    If you have pictures of itut or would like to write about other melanaus games, you can be my guest writer here at learn melanau. I can do the editing for you :). You can email me the article here:

    You contribution will be a great help in my effort to safe and cherish melanau culture :)

  3. why in alu alu dance, a man will rotate himself on the top of the bamboo pole? what is the meaning ?



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