Ceremony of ‘Kikir Gigi’ from Dayak Tribe : Ritual of Maturity in Borneo Culture

Ceremony of Kikir Gigi is a culture of Borneo that signifies the maturity of a woman from the Dayak tribe

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If Bali has a tradition of leveling teeth called metatah, in Borneo there is bepapar custom. While traveling late last year, I witnessed the process of Kikir gigi ceremony in Silit village of West Borneo. According to local custom chiefs, the ceremony of Kikir gigi has been around since ancestral times. Borneo cultural actors are women of the Dayak ethnic groups who grow adults. They begin the ritual with prayers, offerings and traditional festivals.

How to Go to Silit Village?

Silit village is located in District Sepauk, precisely in the interior of West Borneo. To reach the location I rented a car from Sintang District. According to Driver, the trip to Silit village is only 3 hours if the road is in good condition. The road to the village of Silit is quite difficult to pass. Trajectory from Sintang to T-junction Simpang Kayu is coated with asphalt. While the road after Simpang Kayu to Silit village is still a yellow land and rocks. Luckily this car type 4 x 4 so it can cross different types of roads; including the muddy ones.

Silit Village was once a village headed by remang (tribal chief). After the head of the tribe died – in 1982 – the village turned into the village of Nanga Pari. Then the village is divided into three villages – one of them Silit village. Nature of the village Silit is dominated by forests and hills. Large trees thrive in the area. The rivers are clear, clean and flow well throughout the village. Not only that, forest ecosystem in Silit village also become habitat for endemic animal.

Such natural conditions seem to bring good luck to the Dayak tribe in the village of Silit. They are easy to get animals and farming places. Even so, farming activities began to decrease because there is a ban from the government. Farming is considered an activity that can damage nature. Silit Village is also famous for various wicker crafts that began to grow. Started only for everyday purposes, woven crafts eventually become souvenirs typical Borneo who have different ornaments.

Kikir Gigi, More Than Just a Symbol of Beauty

On the way I had time to ask the driver about the purpose of custom Kikir Gigi. He said that in the present time many people who do dentition to beautify themselves. Whereas for the Dayak tribe, that’s not the real meaning. Women who have passed the ritual means to be considered an adult. She has the right to decide the direction of her life.

In addition to the meaning of ceremonial Kikir Gigi, the driver also explained about the process of Kikir Gigi. From the story I came to know; there is a special stone that is used to flatten the teeth. They use two areca nuts or handkerchiefs to keep the molars and lips during the ritual.

A Meaningful Ceremony

Exactly three hours past twenty minutes, I arrived at Silit village. Incidentally when it arrived there customary heads and residents have gathered to prepare for the ceremony Kikir gigi. Soon the ritual begins with the request of the woman’s parents begins.

  1. First, the customary chief gathered all the citizens into a circle of women to think his teeth. Then the adat chief gave a speech, followed by the representative of the organizing family.
  2. Furthermore, the adat head leads the prayer according to the belief in the village. Prayer is recited in the local language.
  3. After praying, the customary head opened the prepared offer. The offerings consist of chicken thighs, lemang food (sticky rice), and stones wrapped in cloth. Besides, it is served also tuak (tuak suling) in big jar.
  4. The girl who performs the ceremony of Kikir gigi eating chicken and lemang thighs. After it’s all gone, the girl lies in the middle of the surrounding people with an offer wrapped in an offering.
  5. The adat head began to think of the girl’s teeth by using the stones provided in the offerings.
  6. After the Kikir gigi ceremony, the girl drinks tuak using a small cup. Drinking process is done up to three times accompanied by prayers or mantras from customary head. At that time, the customary chief also wags the burnt rice pulp as he surrounds the jars.
  7. The next event was to drink tuak distilled by customary chiefs – followed by residents. Tuak is drunk in a pairwise way; 1 male and 1 female. Slightly different from guest welcoming ceremony, tuak presented in the ceremony of Kikir gigi is tuak flute. Tuak is prepared in a jar, then drunk with a straw. Uniquely, every time will drink wine, always add a glass of water into the jars. It must immediately run out; because if there is any left, the water must be added again.
  8. The series of ceremonial Kikir gigi ended with a warm-hearted. Residents in attendance, customary heads, and family parties shake hands. Then they went home.

That is the series of Kikir gigi ceremonies that I witnessed during the holidays to the village of Silit. The unique culture of Borneo is one of the main attractions for tourists. Are you curious about the tradition? Come, visit Borneo!

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