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Where Hornbills Fly: A Journey with the Headhunters of Borneo

Where Hornbills Fly: A Journey with the Headhunters of Borneo
Erik Jensen

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Once headhunters under the rule of White Rajahs and briefly colonised before independence within Malaysia, the Iban Dayaks of Borneo are one of the world's most extraordinary indigenous tribes, possessing ancient traditions and a unique way of life. As a young man Erik Jensen settled in Sarawak where he lived with the Iban for seven years, learning their language and the varied rites and practices of their lives. He was also witness to the great and often shattering changes they faced then and continue to face today. The plentiful harvests, abundant game and rivers teeming with fish of their remembered past have long since disappeared - destroyed by restrictions on settlement and, ironically, by forest conservation. The Iban's animist beliefs are slowly being replaced by the imported religions of Christianity and Islam and their traditional ways by modern schooling and medicine. In this compelling and beautifully-wrought memoir, Erik Jensen reveals the challenges facing the Iban as they adapt to another century, whilst fighting to preserve their identity and singular place in the world.

Haunting, yet hopeful, Where Hornbills Fly opens a window onto a vanishing world and paints a remarkable portrait of this fragile tribe, which continues to survive deep in the heart of Borneo.

Author Info

Erik Jensen's impressive diplomatic career after Sarawak, which involved postings and missions around the world from New York and London to Bahrain, Pakistan and Bangladesh, East Timor, Nigeria, Chad and Western Sahara, culminated in his appointment as an Under Secretary-General of the United Nations. He holds degrees from Oxford and Harvard and honorary doctorates from Connecticut and Seoul and has been Senior Associate Member of St Antony's, Oxford, Visiting Fellow at the LSE and Warburg Professor in International Relations at Simmons College, Boston. He has contributed articles to The Times, The Guardian and The Sunday Telegraph and written several books, including 'The Iban and their Religion' and 'Western Sahara, Anatomy of a Stalemate'. Erik Jensen was an original Fellow of the Borneo Research Council and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a Member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs.


'Anyone who has travelled in Borneo will love Where Hornbills Fly...those who plan to go to Borneo will understand so much more of what is left if they read this before going.'
Robin Hanbury-Tenison, Country Life

'Few records of past society and time, of the quirks and nuances of longhouse culture, have been so lovingly and clearly portrayed.’
Eileen Chanin, Asian Studies Review

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.

ISBN: 9781780767741
Publication Date: 29 Aug 2013
Number of Pages: 304
Height: 216
Width: 138
Illustrations: 26 bw in 8pp plates, 2 maps

ISBN: 9781848855007
Publication Date: 02 Dec 2010
Number of Pages: 288
Height: 216
Width: 138
Illustrations: 8 colour in 8pp plates, 2 maps

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