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Penan Hut

  • "Do not blow from your mouth. Blow from your chest and your stomach." So says the Penan warrior on the art of shooting with the blowpipe at the Penan Huts. Watch blowpipe making or try blowpipe shooting with the Penans, the last of the hunters and gatherers - the forest nomads.

    Penan specialty is the manufacturing and accurate use of blowpipes. A wood beam of adequate length is fixed in a drilling platform, and then bored through patient manual labour. The pipe is trimmed by axe and knife, and finally polished. The bore is smoothed and ground by pulling lengths of rattan through it.

    Blowpipe ammunition is a softwood plug tipped with a hardwood dart. Blowpipe poison, carefully dosed to suit the prey, is made from the sap of the Upas tree (Antiaris toxicaria).

    The shy nomadic people of the jungle, the Penans, live in the dense virgin jungles of Central Borneo, among some of the State's most valuable timber resources. Some are 'coming out' and learning to farm the land, others still prefer their roaming life-style.

    Penan shelters are quickly constructed to last for a few weeks or months. They are sited near a good stand of wild sago trees, the Penan's staple food; after this has been used up, the family moves on.