Sarawak Culture Sarawak Penan Culture People of the Forest : The Penan


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Ethnobotanical Knowledge

The Penan in the various settlements have varying degrees of familiarity and knowledge of ethnobotany. It is sad to state that for those communities that had direct contact with the outside world through logging and palm oil plantation activities, the younger generation might not be familiar and might lose their ancestral knowledge of the usage of plants for medicinal and cultural purposes. All is not lost however, if the older generation educate their children on the cultural significance of retaining their traditional ethnobotanical knowledge. The Penan elders at Long Latei’, Long Kevok, Long Lewe’ and Ba Data Bila still retain the knowledge on the usage of traditional medicinal plants but if the knowledge is not passed on, then it will slowly fade away forever. Below is a list of plants which are part of the ethnobotany of the Penan encountered in the various settlements:

Plant name
Akar Tuban Cure for boils.
Kayew Toothache remedy.
Kelang burak Used as a traditional form of soap.
Laka Daha’a For the treatment of ulcers.
Laka Kemelut Used as a traditional form of soap.
Laka Sevului Pu’an Diarrhoea medicine.
Lake’Sakit Jipen Toothache remedy
Ngetimang A type of tree bark that can be used to cure headaches. The tree bark is secured to the forehead.
Pitah Ujung Selegah Used to keep children entertained during their nomadic days. The leaves when crumbled produces a red pigment.
Savitk Levu Used to increase appetite.
Shakului Plant used to cure abdominal pain.

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