Deadly dances in the Bornean rainforest: Hunting knowledge of the Penan Benalui

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For two years Rajindra Puri lived and hunted with the Penan Benalui people in the rainforest of eastern Borneo in Indonesia. Here he reports on Penan hunting techniques, the knowledge required to be a successful hunter, and the significance of hunting for Penan communities. A hunt offers the opportunity for younger Penan to learn crucial survival skills, knowledge of the environment, local geography, genealogy, history, and beliefs and values. Songs and stories recount hunting adventures and legends, while ceremonial dances demonstrate the coordination and agility required of the expert hunter. The author makes a case for using active participant-observation, in conjunction with standard ethnobiological research methods, for documenting non-verbal knowledge. Included here are 21 months of hunting records and comprehensive appendices on game species and ethnobiological data. This work will be useful to anthropologists, conservation biologists, and those interested in Indonesian ethnobiology. Rajindra Puri is a lecturer in environmental anthropology and ethnobiology at the University of Kent at Canterbury, England.

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