Ketupong (pictured above), whose earthly manefestation is Rufous Piculet – Sasia Abnormis, is the son of Bujang Sabenang Mali Lebu. He is the most senior son-in-law of Sengalang Burong. He is married to Endu Dara Tinchin Temaga, Endu Cherebok Mangkok China, the eldest daughter of Sengalang Burong. He is also a natural leader of the other omen birds. Also nicknamed Bekubu Entis Bulu Burong Ketupong, who speaks but once and irrevocably. A man of few words, he must be heeded when he makes his appearance. Ketupong has two manifestations; when he calls with a slow tik-tik-tik sound, the message is important. His fast repeated alarm cry is known as Jaloh which indicate that the message is treated with utmost urgency.
Ketupong’s country is at Buloh Laing Ridge, which sounds like a long tune from a flute, reaching the cool resam grass, sounds of a damsel playing her Jew’s harp at night, that is the country of Bujang Sabenang Mali Lebu, whose nickname is Anggu Sengkayau Baju (Di tinting buloh laing, Munyi kesuling panjai seput, Dideman madang resam, Munyi dara ganggam bekachu malam taja beka dengut, Menoa Bujang Sabenang Mali Lebu, Kadua bali nama iya Anggu Sengkayau Baju)
Praise name (Ensumbar or Julok):
Hairy spear that strikes at the centre of the breast (Ketupong bejulok Sangkoh Agong Ngentong di beradong arong dada).
A man of few words, he must be heeded when he makes his appearance.
The Sound of Ketupong Bird:
Interpretation of Ketupong as Omen Bird:
1. If you go hunting animals in the forests or go fishing in the river, you should not hear the voice of the Ketupong bird from the left side of the road, as it is a “lazy bird”, which foretells your failure in obtaining game or fish you look for during the day.
2. If you hear the voice of Ketupong from the right side of the road while on your way to fish or hunt, it indicates that you will catch only a small amount of fish, or that you will kill only a small animal.
3. If you hear the Ketupong bird repeatedly chirp in or near your farm in the evening, it indicates that your padi and other plants will be devoured by animals and insects from that time until harvest.
4. If you frequently hear the voice of Ketupong during the clearing and felling of trees at your farm early in the year, and if the farm land that you are working has always yielded good harvests in past years, it is a bad omen which tells that you will never again have a good harvest from that particular area of land.
5. If you bring a cock which has lost a previous fight and, while you are on your way to the cockfighting pit, you hear the voice of Ketupong either from the right or left hand side of the road, is a good omen which indicates that your cock will win the fight that day.
6. If a manang (shaman) or dukun (medicine man) on his first trip to doctor a sick person in a certain area of the country in which he has never practiced his art before, hears the voice of the Ketupong bird either from the right or left side of the road when he walks towards the sick person’s house, it is a good omen which indicates that from that time onwards, his curing will be strongly felt by the people in that region.
7. If while you gather the bamboo for making an enclosure for your chickens, you hear the voice of Ketupong, it is a bad omen which indicates that, all the chicks you put in the enclosure will die.
8. If, when you go to your farm, you hear the voice of Ketupong and later hear the voice of Beragai and the voice of Kelabu Papau Nyanabong, they give to you an excellent omen, which indicates that your harvest at the end of the year will be excellent. This triple omen is called Burong Empalang.
9. If on your way to your farm, you hear the voice of Ketupong and later you hear the voice of Beragai and the voice of Pangkas (Kutok), these give you a good omen which indicates an abundant harvest at the end of the year. This triple omen is known as Burong Betampi, “winnowing bird”.
10. Ketupong can shriek two kinds of shrieks: (a) a slow tik! tik! tik! and (b) a quick tik-tik-tik-tik-tik, made repeatedly. If a very well-to-do man hears the slow shrieks made by Ketupong his luck in obtaining wealth will gradually diminish. If he hears the quick shrieks, it is known as laboh jaloh and indicates that his luck in gaining wealth is completely ended. These two kinds of omens are favorable only for poor people who in due course will become extremely wealthy after hearing them. In other words, they indicate a change in the personal fortunes of the hearer, whether he is rich or poor.
11. If an experienced hunter or fisherman leads his followers to hunt the forests or to fish along the river, and at the same time as he finds the foot prints of an animal, he hears the slow voice of Ketupong, it indicates that the animal will be killed by a younger hunter and not by himself as the leader of the party. The same may happen to an experienced man when he leads his followers to trade overseas. If after he (the leader) has found a trader to trade with, any of his followers hears the voice of Ketupong while working in the forests, it indicates that the leader will get less profit than his followers. If any one of them hears the quick repeated voice of the Ketupong bird (jaloh) it warns of possible harm to the life of the trading leader on the trip.
12. If you hear the voice of Ketupong while engaged in initial clearing (manggol), it is a bad omen which foretells that your labor that year will be unsuccessful, i.e. you will not get sufficient padi at the end of the year. If however, the land on which you farm has yielded only poor harvests in the past, the result will be reversed.
13. If as you gather the materials for building a new house or hut, you hear the voice of Ketupong it is not a good omen. It indicates that while you occupy that house or hut, you will always be sick. And also as long as you are living in that house you cannot get sufficient rice and other necessities.
14. If you ask to use other people’s land to farm and, if that land is good and you hear the voice of Ketupong there, it is a very good omen which indicates that you will get a lot of padi while you farm the land. Besides, the grass will not hinder the growth of your padi.
15. If on your way to fish or hunt, you hear the voice of Ketupong or the voice of Kelabu Papau Nyenabong while you are still near your house, it is a bad omen which indicates that your catch that day will not be more than a hollowful of the munti bamboo.
16. If as you go to fish or hunt, you hear the voice of Ketupong far away from your home, it is a good omen which indicates that you shall make a large catch that day. If you hear it near your house it indicates you will return empty handed.
17. If you climb a tree while waiting for the coming of an animal and you hear the voice of Ketupong, it is a good omen, which indicates that the animal will soon approach. But if it does not come within half an hour, you had better go home, as the animal will not come along that way.
18. If the Ketupong bird flies into the longhouse, enters the loft (sadau) near the ceiling of the building, then returns by the way it came, it is a bad omen if the head of the family who owns the sadau is an elderly man. The bird is thought to be seeking out the family head and foretells a shortening of his life. To neutralize this omen, the family must leave the house for three nights and on the day they return, a manang or orang tau makai burong should be asked to place his ubat penabar burong charms in a cup of water and to smear the family apartment with the water into which the charms have been placed. If the family head is a young man, this omen is highly auspicious. It indicates that he will become a famous warrior a chief outranking all other chiefs in the district.
19. When the dwellers have all come to live in a new longhouse, and they hear the repeated shrieks of jaloh, it is an excellent omen, known as burong tutup batu, which indicates that they are living safely, as if inside a house made of stone where no sickness may disturb them.
20. If a Ketupong bird flies into the longhouse and, as it reaches the gallery of the third family, it turns back and leaves the house by the way it entered, it is an excellent omen which brings good luck to you, known as burong nganjong tuah.
21. If a Ketupong bird flies into the longhouse building from the open air platform (tanju), it is called burong tawai, which indicates that you in the longhouse will celebrate a grand Bird Festival, or Gawai Burong, for your victory over enemies. It also foretells that guests will return from the tanju at the end of the festival day.
22. If you visit a sick person and hear the repeated shrieks of jaloh, it is a good omen which foretells that the sick man will soon recover from his illness.
23. If you want to poison fish with tubai (derris) poison, but the one of you in the fishing party who first dug up the derris roots hears the shrieks of Ketupong, it is a bad omen, which indicates that the river where you will do the fishing will be flooded by heavy rain or that the river will prove to be without fish.
24. If you hear the shrieks of Ketupong when you go to call for the manang (shaman) to cure a sick person whose age is above fourteen years, it is a good omen, which indicates that the sick person will soon recover from his or her illness. But if you hear it when you call the manang to treat a sick child, it is not a good omen and indicates that the child cannot be cured by the shaman you summon.
25. If you hear the voice of Ketupong on the day you finish felling the trees in your farm, it is an extremely bad omen which foretells that it will be the last time you will farm in your life, i.e. you will die before the next farming season begins.
26. When after traveling by boat, you land at your destination where you want to tap wild rubber or jelutong and you hear the voice of Ketupong, it is a very good omen which foretells that people will be surprised on seeing the heaps of rubber you have tapped there, when you sell it to the trader. But if you have been working at that place previously, the omen is not good, as it foretells that you will get nothing more from the trees, or if you collect a lot of rubber at that place you may fall sick as a result of this omen.
27. If you hear the voice of Ketupong or Ketupong/Jaloh or the voice of the barking deer (kijang) on your way to collect rottan for the tying of your baskets for collecting the honey combs from a bee tree (tapang), or for you to make tali tekang, i.e. rope for climbing the tree, it is a bad omen which foretells that one of the climbers will instantly die by falling from the tree. For this reason, you should cancel your work completely as the Ketupong has warned you of the misfortune and the Jaloh also informed you that it will be the last time you will climb a tree. The voice of Kijang also foretells a fatal accident.
28. If you and two other hunters go along the same way and, when you are about to scatter from one another into the jungle, you hear the voice of Ketupong, it indicates that one of you who has never killed any animal before will kill one during this expedition. If all of you have killed animals before, this time the youngest hunter will kill the game.
29. During your hunting trip and while you are still looking for a tree branch to sit on while waiting for the coming of the game, you hear the shrieks of a Ketupong bird or, at the moment you start to climb the tree, you hear the repeated call of the Kuchay bird, which is known as Jeritan Kuchay, it is an omen which tells you that the animal will come your way very soon. You must therefore, climb and settle on the tree branch as quick as you can.
30. If you find a female Ketupong bird laying her eggs in a hole in a tree when you are working on your farm, it is a good omen if you can visit that place frequently within five days from that day. If you find it laying eggs during the dibbling season (maia nugal) it is also a good omen, if you respect it with a small feast known as mudas, and smear the hole where the eggs are found ceremonially with the blood of a hen of kepayang coloration. Besides this, you must also make not less than five offerings to it. If you find the Ketupong bird laying eggs inside a hole as high as your head, it is not a good omen; it indicates that you will reap insufficient padi at the end of the year. In addition you must not eat this rice before you ask the manang to neutralize it with water in which his batu penabar burong charms have been placed.
31 If at anytime after you have finished your seven days of initial clearing, you hear the voice of Ketupong, which causes you to stay away from work one day, it is a bad omen. It indicates that you will not get much padi from the land at the end of the year. But if you farm other people’s land and hear the same omen, it indicates that the owner of the land will be surprised on seeing the good harvest you have obtained from his farmland.
32. If you hear the voice of Ketupong when you are still doing your seven days of initial clearing, rather than the voice of Beragai or Pangkas which you expect to hear in addition to your tambak burong, it is not a good omen. It foretells that the growth of padi on the land you are working will be worse than in previous years. But if this land is not good farmland, and you hear the same omen, it indicates that you will reap a good harvest at the end of the year.
33. If, as a young man collects the wooden materials for building a house or a hut, he hears the voice of Ketupong as he collects any beam which he will use to make part of the house above his head, it is a good omen. It indicates that in the future he will become the leader of his people. But if the hearer is already a longhouse headman, it foretells that he will be replaced by another man as headman, particularly if he hears the voice of Ketupong when he leaves the forest in which he was collecting materials.
34. If a poor man collects a beam for his penyambut sadau, the shelf on which his valuable jars are placed, and hears the voice of Ketupong, is a good omen which foretells that these beams will be weighed down by the weight of property, padi or jars. But if he has heard the voice of Ketupong then he hears the voice of jaloh, it indicates that he will become a very rich man in a short time, but will become poor again later on.
35. If you go to fish or hunt and hear the voice of Ketupong at the compound of your house it is a good omen. It indicates that you will have an excellent catch that day. If you hear its voice on the right side of your path outside your house compound it is also a good omen, which foretells that you are likely to have a good catch that day. But if you hear its voice when you are far away from your house, it indicates that your catch will only fill the hollow of a internode of bamboo.
36. If you pay a visit to a sick person and when you are still walking near your own house, you hear the voice of Ketupong is not a good omen. Its indication is that the sick person you visit may not be cured. But if you hear the voice when you are already half way from your house, it is a good omen, if when you arrive at the house of the sick person, you give to him any kind of food that you have brought with you; as a result of eating it he may be quickly cured. But if you visit a sick person who is younger than you and hear this omen, it is not a good omen. Your food will not cure his illness.
37. No old and experienced farmer should hear the voice of jaloh at the start of his annual farm work, for if he hears it, it indicates that his luck will be down and that his family will suffer economic difficulties. Only the young farmer should hear the voice of jaloh, as it indicates an improvement in his for tunes.
38. When an ordinary farmer hears or is approached by jaloh or sees the jaloh fly from his right to left (mimpin), or vice versa (ngeraup), and if he has an old person in his family, it is a very bad omen, which indicates that the latter will die sometime soon within the year. This is known as madam ka sulok mata i.e., an omen which closes the eye lids of an old person in death.
39. If a man goes by boat to a large well known pool (lubok besai) to fish, and on his way paddling there, he hears the voice of jaloh from the right, it is a good omen. It indicates that he will catch many big fish that day.
40. If you call for a manang or a dukun to cure a sick young man or a young woman, and the man you call for is coming with you when you hear the voice of jaloh, is a good omen which indicates that the sick person will soon be cured. If you hear this omen when you call for the medicine man to cure a child, it is inauspicious, as the omen is too strong for a child.
41. If you carry property from your parent’s house to your own house after you have divided it with your brothers and sisters, and you hear the voice of jaloh, it is a bad omen which indicates that your own heir, who would have eventually inherited the property, will die young.
42. If you hear the voice of jaloh, while you are on your way to visit sick grown up person, it is a very good omen which indicates that the sick person will not die.
By Gregory Nyanggau Mawar
Uchu Sengalang Burong