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Ode to palms (2): harvesting "taduʔ"

Updated: Feb 1



by Lye Tuck-Po

10/1/24


Batek taduʔ is the mountain nibung palm, Oncosperma horridum or, in Malay, bayas. There are a lot growing by the river in my field site. I was grumbling that I was hungry (məŋkoŋ) for taduʔ, so they felled the palm. It has a delicious pith, which can be eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable. I prefer it raw (yum...), but on this day (in 2020) we made a vegetable dish from it. Malays sometimes contract the Batek to collect taduʔ; for them, it's a delicacy, good for feasts (Malay kenduri).

The first task: cut the palm.


He's doing what the Batek call ʔubaŋ - increasing the size of the cut.


He's moved to the other side of the palm, to balɛs (cut at the side).


The palm is felled and falls across the stream. All the photos I took of the falling trunk were blurry.


Now he's doing what the Batek call cukel (spelling awaiting confirmation). That's to cut deep and twist the knife around.


He's cutting off the layer of bark...


...in order to pi-wɔ̃ʔ the pith (bring the pith out; the word means "to raise up"). In order to do this, there's a process called soyak (to cut finely around the sides to remove the bark).


Finally, the pith is out and is carried on the shoulder (klɛm), home to camp.


A final image, showing the stream. It's a delicious stream, clear as anything. From start to finish, the process of harvesting the palm lasted just twenty minutes.
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