Somewhat run-down Dayak village at the edge of the lake, supporting a fine longhouse and lots of hampatongs
Tanjung Isuy is, according to our guide book, the most popular and most often visited Dayak village in the Mahakam area. Hmmm. The village is somewhat run down, and looks depressive, with many of the houses boarded up, if not falling apart. Located at the edge of the Lake Jempang, one arrives at a jetty, but soon sets foot on firm ground. A dirt track leads into the village, and to the longhouse – lamin in local language -, which serves as tourist accommodation.
A longhouse is the traditional centre of a Dayak community, shared by many families who occupy a room, or just a part of the longhouse partitioned off with a curtain or something. But the tradition is fading, people can afford their own house these days, and many of the longhouses are falling in disrepair. But with government support some, like the one in Tanjung Isuy, have been restored, and given a new life as tourist centre, complete with dance performances and, in this case, accommodation. But it is low season, and there are no tourists, and thus no dance performances.
The longhouse, as well as many of the other houses in the village, is decorated with patongs – wooden sculptures, of a rather coarse nature. Patongs, or Hampatongs, are the collective name of Dayak sculptures of ancestors and super-natural guardians, the protectors against evil spirits and illness. They are usually placed along the paths towards villages, and in front of houses.