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Decoration
Tattoos, earrings and penispins

However dozens of western visitors were impressed by the natural beauty of the Dayak, they didn't stop there, but they reached a hand to nature. Men and women decorated their bodies extensively with tatoos, pierces their ears and stretched their earlobes to wear as much earrings as possible. Men used the famous penis pin or palang for enlarging the possibilities of the penis.
The stretching of earlobes with the used of heavy metal rings is no longer seen as beautification. In the past the earlobes of women were pierced and loaded when they were very young. During growth, more rings were added and adult women sometimes wore over ahundred earrings. The discomfort - half a kilogram per ear - was of no importance against the impression it made on men. An ethnograph which visited Borneo in the early 20th century, reported that the rupture of an earlobe was seen as a big disgrace. A damaged ear was hidden under the hair of a fabric sheet.
Men also wore a diversity of eardecorations, as well as in stretched earlobes as in holes tghat were made in the upper part of the earshell. A big diversity of objects was put in their ears: from decorated products from rhinocerosbird-ivory and - only for the successfull headhunters - nails and teeth of leopards and bears. Facial hair was seen as improper, even unmale. Dayak men still have the habit to depilate their facial hair.
Tattooing of the body was especially popular among aristocratic men and women. Some tattoes were meant to protect the person from illness, others were signs of proven courage. Among some populations, men who headhunted successfilly, were allowed to wear a tattoo on their throat. The tattoo was painfull, but is raised their status more than the pain could do bad. The motives were printed with a needle on a wooden handle; the most difficult prints needed about 600 hours of work. As color, damar and soot.
The chains and beads raised the status as well. Especially old beads were seen as very precious. A report written around 1930 reports a chain of Venetian beads, property of the Suldan of Kutai, which is said to be worth 'an entire Dayak-principalty'. The most precious beads, called lukit segala by some Dayak, were round and black, with a white and orange painting.

Penispins Raises Pleasure

The male decoration number one was - and still is in a certain way - the palang. The most simple description of the phenomenon makes clear what it is all about: 'The Kenyah, a number of Kayan and the Katingan mutilate the male organ by piercing the entire organ and put a piece of copper wire in it.
In the lively 'Into the Heart of Borneo', informs Redmond O'Hanlon in his guide about the how and why of the penis pin: 'When you are twentyfive, too old and not good enough anymore, and your wife has had enough of you, you go to the river early in the morning, and you stay in the water your javelin is really small. Then, the tatto-guy comes and puts a nail in your javelin. Then he puts a pin into it. Sometimes you get big spots, very painfull, an inflammation. Then you will die.'
Already around 1830, John Dalton, tradetraveller in Kaltim, reported the penis pin. Depending on your wealth, a golden, silver, copper or bamboo pin was used. The object was especially popular among the Kenyah in Dutch Borneo, but also got fashionable elsewhere on the island. In Sarawak, the penispin was a fairly modern appearance in 1944, Tom Harrisson reported.


Harrisson was the first palang-expert. He managed to get an uncensored manucript from Pigafetta, the writer from Magellan, from 1521. He expresses his disbelief and contempt of it: 'I have asked many, young and old, if I could see their penis, because I could not believe it... They say their wifes want it this way and if, they didn't do it, they didn't want to have intercourse. When men have intercourse with their wife, they never do it the normal way, but very slowly... When it is inside, they take their normal position and it stays inside until it's soft again, otherwhise they can't get it out. The people use this because they have a wear character.'
Harrisson, which slowly admitted he had done the operation himself, continued: 'The operation on it's own is nothing more than making a hole in the end of the penis. The hole is filled with bone, bamboo oe other material, so it won't close again. When the aparatus is taken into use, the owner places the pin. To do that, there is a wide range of objects, pig hair, pieces is metal, seads, beads or broken glass. The purpose is to enlagde the size of the penis in the vagina.'
However these words, the whole palang operation is dangerous, which is done volunteerly with the meaning to raise the sexual pleasure of the woman. This is in sharp contrast with the forces clitorectomy and the closing-up of the vagina, operations which are somewhere else practiced on women.


    
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 KALIMANTAN ISLAND PICTURES


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