Why the 1894 Tumbang Anoi Meeting of Dayaks across Borneo was Organized by the Dutch East Indies Company?

The book answers why the 1894 Tumbang Anoi Meeting of Dayaks across Borneo was organized by the Dutch East Indies Company.

It delves into the historical context and intricacies of this pivotal event, shedding light on the motivations and outcomes of the gathering. 

From the abolition of slavery to the formulation of Dayak Customary Law

Through meticulous research and analysis, it explores the socio-political landscape of Borneo during that time, revealing the complex dynamics between the Dayak communities and the colonial powers.

From the abolition of slavery to the formulation of Dayak Customary Law, the book unravels the multifaceted objectives behind the Tumbang Anoi Meeting, providing a comprehensive understanding of its significance in shaping the trajectory of Dayak history under Dutch colonial rule.

The Tumbang Anoi Meeting formulated Dayak Customary Law, which was almost uniform in 96 articles, eliminating hostility between sub-tribes in Borneo based on Mutual Killing, Mutual Raiding, and Mutual Attack.

The meeting also abolished the tradition of slavery, which had been recorded since the 13th century. According to Michielsen's report from 1880, the price of a slave in one of the Dayak regions was below 100 Gulden, while the cheapest price for a buffalo was 250 Gulden.

The book 'War and Slavery in Dayak Land' is based on primary data and narrative fragments from the writings of Schwaner, Perelaer, Willem Adrian Rees, HG Maks, C. Bangert, JP. Barth, Pijnapple, Michielsen, Ullmann, Pires, Raas, and others, as well as various Agreements between the Sultan (Banjar) and the VOC continued with Colonial Rulers from 1635 to 1860.

The author has been engaged with texts and books related to Kayau, Slavery, War, and Tumbang Anoi since 2000, at the Dayakology Institute Pontianak library. However, involvement in lengthy discussions about Kayau, Asang, Slavery, War, and the 1894 Tumbang Anoi Agreement has been ongoing since 2014. These discussions began with the author's participation in the 120 Tumbang Anoi Agreement commemoration in 2014 and writing the book "Mutiara Isen Mulang." Discussions with parties who have researched the Tumbang Anoi Agreement texts, especially Prof. KMA Usop and Timoteus Tenggel Suan, have been crucial.

The culmination of these repeated discussions always yields material for writing. Prof. Usop provided the book "Pakat Dayak," while Suan (known as TT Suan) provided three copies of Tumbang Anoi documents, the first being minutes of the Tumbang Anoi meeting (handwritten in Dutch), followed by a report from Controlir Melawi, JP Barth, to the Governor of Batavia, both in Dutch and in Malay translation.

In the context of the Tumbang Anoi, Gunung Mas, Central Borneo meeting itself, from discussions since 2014, the author has concluded several things among Dayak scholars, including: (1) The Civilization of Borneo Begins, (2) The Existence of Unity Among Dayak Tribes, (3) The Betrayal of Several Dayak Figures Pro-Netherlands to Weaken the Spirit of Banjar War Led by Matseman.

There are many stories about Kayau, Asang, Jipen, and issues of people in Dayak Land gathered from oral sources. However, these stories are only as guides; the author does not include narratives based on contemporary oral sources. Oral sources interacted with the author from 2014 to 2020, while what is written happened more than 120 years ago.

A lengthy process

Writing the book 'War and Slavery in Dayak Land' haunted us with two feelings: 

First, of course, excitement because this book provides a new menu in historical literacy in Borneo. 

Second, we were somewhat fearful because we were uncovering the past of the Dayak people (not necessarily everyone would appreciate) which is not entirely beautiful. However, the process led us to a rich and profound intellectual journey.

This book, which took longer to complete than initially estimated, allowed us to delve into historical archives and sift through primary data concerning the geography, social, and economic aspects in the Dayak region over a certain period. From touching documents to being serious, we estimated it took 10 years.

Main difficulties

The main difficulty we faced was the availability and accuracy of data scattered across various sources, which required extensive cross-verification of information.

In the narrative of this book, readers will be confronted with surprising facts about the dynamics of war and slavery practices in Dayak Land, including the economic value given to humans and goods at that time. 

For example, in 1880, in the era leading up to the Tumbang Anoi Agreement, the selling price of a Jipen—Dayak term for a slave—was much lower compared to the price of a buffalo or a jar, indicating the scale of priorities and the economic structure of Dayak society at that time.

Furthermore, this book also reveals unique economic practices, such as in Dayu (Barito Basin) in 1857, where humans could be used as a form of payment, replacing the function of money. Discoveries like these provide new insights into the complexity of economic and social interactions in Dayak society before the broader colonial influence.

Slavery occurred due to caste distinctions in Dayak society, such as the noble caste (utus gantung), the free caste, and the slave caste.

The research process for the book "War and Slavery in Dayak Land" began in 2014, leading us to meetings with various important informants, from travelers to colonial officials, who shared valuable documents. Seeing the historical value contained in these documents, we felt a responsibility to not let them be forgotten in the annals of history.

Is history interesting?

Whether this history book will be engaging for readers is no longer our main focus. More than that, we believe that every fragment of history successfully narrated not only contributes to our collective knowledge of the past but also helps build a better understanding of our identity and cultural heritage.

With the same spirit that has guided us through the process of writing War and Slavery in Dayak Land, we plan to continue our exploration of this untapped historical wealth.

Although still in the planning stages, we hope that this next project will similarly open the world's eyes to the uniqueness and beauty of the history and culture in Dayak Land, inspiring even more research and writing in the future.

-- Rangkaya Bada/Damianus Siyok

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