Annah Rais Longhouse which is located in Padawan Small District, is another place of interest where visitors could witness the traditional way of life of the Bidayuh.
The settlement, which has three rows of longhouses known as Kupo Sebak, Kupo Terkan and Kupo Sijo, is located nearby Sungai Annah. Kupo Terkan is especially built for the Tribal Leaders. The settlement is the oldest in Sarawak as it has existed more than 200 years ago. The traditional architectural design of the Bidayuh longhouses has continued to be preserved. This settlement is less than one and a half hours away from Kuching City.
The roofs of the longhouses are made from dried sago palm leaves which can last for six years while the floorings are bamboo, with a life span of one year. As these natural products are not long-lasting, maintenance works have to be conducted after the stipulated life span. Nowadays, zinc roofs are used for repairs at times. The main pillars which formed the basic structure of the house are made from berlian wood that grow in abundance in the island of Borneo. The Bidayuh has used theberlian wood for a long time and the latter has withstood the passage of time, remaining strong until today and can expect to last for hundreds of years more.
Interestingly, the longhouse is inhabited by approximately 120 families of diverse faiths such as Islam and Christianity, thus making it unique. In fact, some residents are atheists and believe in animism. The 1,000 inhabitants of the longhouse are believed to share similar ancestor. Just like the residents of other longhouses, the Bidayuh community celebrates Hari Gawai on 1st June of each year. Usually, those who have migrated to Sabah or Peninsular Malaysia will return home to celebrate the festive occasion together with their families.
Formerly, the longhouse used to hold numerous number of skulls belonging to their foes which was synonymous of the history of the head hunters. At that time, the bravery and valour of the Bidayuh were measured by the number of enemies that were beheaded and heads brought home. TheBaruh or Panggah which means 'rumah kepala' or 'skull house' was built as a storage for the skulls. Initially, the skulls were arranged on a special rack in the middle of the Panggah and later bequeathed from one generation to another. However, all these skulls have been buried now.
Before, the womenfolk were prohibited from entering the skull house for fear that their presence could weakened the warriors. The Panggah at Annah Rais Longhouse was built more than 170 years ago. Its main pillars which were made from berlian wood remain strong despite being 200 years old. At one time, a small cannon was presented as a token of friendship by the Brunei Sultanate during the reign of the Brooke family. This historical cannon which was carved with a logo engraved with the words Pieters eest Anno 756 in both Arabic and roman characters, is placed at thePanggah's entrance.
Ringin, one of the Tribal Leaders, used to act as the guide for the media representatives and tourism officers nationwide. According to him, the Panggah house plays a significant role in themukah ceremony or worshipping of the skull spirit. Prior to the ritual, the longhouse residents had to adhere to the taboos and prohibitions including the ban from going to the river for four days. Instead, all the families were expected to gather in the Panggah house. The ritual was held to celebrate the return of the warriors after the headhunting expedition. Nowadays, the ritualistic ceremony is no longer practised as the headhunting tradition is extinct and no one knows with accuracy the actual procedures involved.
In adherence to the taboos and prohibitions and as a sign of respect to the deities that governed the sustenance of the residents, visitors are expected to walk along the longhouse's balcony. They have to side-step the mats that are used to dry rice, paddy, pepper and sago palm leaves. Also, they are prohibited from strewing food that are left to dry at the balcony. Usually, visitors will be invited to sit at the ruai or waiting room but disallowed from entering the rooms as they are the private residences of families.
The rooms in the longhouse are quite simple, equip with kitchen, dining and sleeping areas. The attic is used as a storage for handicrafts like tambok; a basket that is strapped to the back of the carrier and used to carry produce and kelasah; a rattan mat. Upon entering the Annah Rais Longhouse, visitors will pass through the kitchen first. The latter is connected to the living room which functions as a sleeping area as well. The washroom is located at the far-end of the longhouse.
The main activity of the residents in this area is the cultivation of hill paddy and pepper as Annah Rais Longhouse is situated in a hilly area. Aside from the warm reception, visitors can enjoy the splendour of the natural surrounding and refreshing air around Annah Rais Longhouse. (Source : http://telecentre.my/KampungAssum, Last Updates: 30 April 2009 - by: Noraini Mahyan)
Annah Rais Longhouse
No.71, Kampung Annah Rais
Jalan Borneo Height