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Ref ID: 22586
Ref Type: Book Section
Authors: Janowski, Monica
Title: Being 'big', being 'good': feeding, kinship, potency and status among the Kelabit of Sarawak
Date: 2007
Source: Kinship and food in South East Asia
Place of Publication: Copenhagen, Denmark
Publisher: NIAS
Notes: Introduction: During my fieldwork among the Kelabit, a group of about 2000 people whose home is in the headwaters of the river Baram in Sarawak on the island of Borneo, my attention was very soon focused on the term and concept of <i>lun merar</i>, literally 'big people', who are also described as <i>lun doo</i> ('good people'). I soon understood that this concept is fundamental to understanding the dynamics of Kelabit society. The term <i>lun merar</i> was used to refer to any married couple with children (who might also be described as <i>diweng ruma'</i>, literally 'they two of the house')
but it is also the basis of status differentiation, which is based on what the married couple achieves through their role as parents and grandparents. This achievement was, I found, measured and described in terms of how 'stong' (<i>kali</i>) a couple's 'human life force' (<i>ulun</i> is, expressed in such comments as <i>kail ulun diweh</i> - literally 'their <i>ulun</i> is strong' (the pronoun <i>diweh</i> which is also contained within the term <i>diweng ruma</i>', refers to two people). In this chapter I want to explore the central linke between the married couple, or 'big people' and notions of potency, life force and fertility, and to suggest that this is central to understanding Kelabit notions of kinship.
Date Created: 4/9/2015
Editors: Janowski, Monica
Kerlogue, Fiona
Volume: 38
Page Start: 93
Page End: 120
Series Title: NIAS Studies in Asian Topics