Once headhunters under the rule of White Rajahs and briefly colonised before independence within Malaysia, the Iban Dayaks of Borneo are one of the world's most extraordinary indigenous tribes, possessing ancient traditions and a unique way of life. As a young man Erik Jensen settled in Sarawak where he lived with the Iban for seven years, learning their language and the varied rites and practices of their lives. He was also witness to the great and often shattering changes they faced then and continue to face today. The plentiful harvests, abundant game and rivers teeming with fish of their remembered past have long since disappeared - destroyed by restrictions on settlement and, ironically, by forest conservation. The Iban's animist beliefs are slowly being replaced by the imported religions of Christianity and Islam and their traditional ways by modern schooling and medicine. In this compelling and beautifully-wrought memoir, Erik Jensen reveals the challenges facing the Iban as they adapt to another century, whilst fighting to preserve their identity and singular place in the world.
Haunting, yet hopeful, Where Hornbills Fly opens a window onto a vanishing world and paints a remarkable portrait of this fragile tribe, which continues to survive deep in the heart of Borneo.
'An engrossing study of 6 years spent among the Iban of Sarawak half a century ago, Where Hornbills Fly is a remarkable testament of a young man's devotion to a remote people, the Iban of Sarawak, and a wonderful fund of first-hand knowledge about a dying culture.' - Colin Thubron 'Fascinating and insightful, light-hearted and humorous, every page of this brilliantly-written book evokes the colours, sounds and even the smells of Sarawak in the 1950s. Every page glistens with the reality of a world gone by but needing to be remembered. It was a voyage of discovery for the author 50 years ago but anyone reading it today can only admire the diaries and memories which has enabled him to recreate so vivid a picture of a world no longer with us.' - Sir Richard Jolly
1.Peace-Making 2 From the Old World - East 3 Sarawak and Up-river 4 Longhouse Living 5 To the Hornbill Festival 6 Revolt in the Lemanak 7 Ancient versus Modern 8 Out of Jungle a Centre 9 Poisoning, Omens and Hope Progress then Bad News World Events Intervene Fit to Survive