Get to know Rumah Betang: Protector of the Champion’s Family

The Betang House in Buntoi Village, Kahayan Hilir District, Pulang Pisau Regency is a traditional house managed by the Central Kalimantan Culture and Tourism Office which is one of the tours in the village. The origin of Rumah Betang was used as cultural tourism because in 1982 there was a transition of management of the house from heirs to the government, namely the Central Kalimantan Culture and Tourism Office so that Rumah Betang became a cultural site belonging to Central Kalimantan.

Turning to the brief history of the betang house, John Feri as chairman of the Buntoi Village Ecotourism Social Forestry Business Group (KUPS) revealed that the Betang House was built by Singa Jala who was a village champion who often migrated to war in various places. The purpose of building the Betang House is as a place to live as well as to protect his family when left to wander outside the area.

In the 1800s, Singa Jala was a person who often carried out the Kayau tradition while traveling to various places. Kayau is a person who used to behead as a form of courage and strength to dominate an area. In the past, if Singa Jala migrated to another area, it was considered to be challenging the regional leader to fight for territory. The more heads that are beheaded by the Jala Lion, the more people will recognize the strength of the Jala Lion and indicate that a champion has mastered the area. In addition, decapitated heads are usually taken around other areas or used as offerings or requirements for certain rituals.

Before the betang house can stand firmly, the construction of the betang house requires a special ritual that requires sacrifice in the form of offering sacrifices according to the number of poles used when building the house. Betang was founded in 1867-1870 by jipen or slaves who worked for Singa Jala. Building materials were imported from the Taringen Manuhing area from Manen Paduran Kahayan. All building materials are made of ironwood (Eusideroxylon zwageri), while the main pillars of the house are made of manang/win wood. Manang wood has a strong structure to be used as a pole. According to John Fery, manang wood is a tree that grows large and is overgrown by parasites or parasites. However, the parasite always dies or cannot grow on manang wood. Therefore, the wood is called manang. Manang wood does not sink or always float on the surface of the water. Manang wood is often used as a building material because it is believed to bring good luck to the homeowner and protect the occupants of the house or to repel bad luck.

Betang house has upstream facing east and downstream facing west. The shape of the Betang House is in the form of an elongated stilt house with a length of 30-150 meters and a width of 10-30 meters which is supported by pillars in the middle and every corner of the house with a height of about 5 meters. Due to the high shape of the Betang House, a ladder is needed as access to the entrance.

According to the belief of the Dayak people, the number of stairs must be odd because it can facilitate fortune or not experience life difficulties for the occupants of the house. In the past, there was only one access ladder in the Betang House. This is so that the family inside is safe so that the ladder in the Betang House can be removed or used with a pulley. The stairs will be removed at night so that there is no access to the entrance because there are many enemies of Singa Jala or robbers who come at night. The reason why Rumah Betang are in the form of stilts and have tall poles is because the location of Rumah Betang, which are generally located on the riverbank, is meant to protect the family living in the Betang House from dangers such as wild animals and enemies, as well as protect the family from the risk of flooding during high tide from the river.

In general, in a Betang house, there are parts like an ordinary house, namely the kitchen for cooking (dampuhan), living room, bedroom, and bathroom. Near the kitchen, there are several baskets, which are items shaped like jars with various kinds, such as pots, moss jars (small stumps), as well as a large cupboard for plates and party tools. Apart from that, there is also a sangku which is a container for placing rice which is used during traditional weddings. In the living room there are sounding instruments such as gongs, kankanung, and drums. There are also weapons for war in the form of ovals or spears and copper cannons (which are considered rare). At present, there is one bedroom which is said to be always dark which is only occupied by the Jala Lion and this room is called the dark room. On the front of the house to the north there is a stumbling which is believed to contain the sword belonging to Singa Jala.

Apart from the Betang House in Buntoi Village, there are around 7 Betang Houses in Central Kalimantan, including in Tumbang Malahoi Village and Tumbang Anoi Village which are located in Gunung Mas Regency. The Betang house in Buntoi Village is one of the largest in size. However, in 1992, 2009 and 2021 several renovations were carried out so that the Betang House was not as large as before. In the past there were many statues such as statues that were placed in front of the Betang House. The statues are made of ironwood and are shaped like people holding weapons and various other shapes.

Currently Betang House is often used as a place for community meetings in Buntoi Village. Reporting from the KEMDIKBUD website (, that the management of the Betang Buntoi House is under the government, the Betang House is also used as a tourist spot that is well known nationally and international and visited by local and foreign tourists, such as from Romania, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Australia and Switzerland. Until now, 3 embassies have visited Rumah Betang, namely the German ambassador and his entourage on 16 November 1973, the Swiss ambassador and his entourage in 1974, and the Australian ambassador and his entourage on 25 July 1977. Of course, the purpose of their visit was to know the history of Rumah Betang.


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