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Rice: pounding and winnowing

by Lye Tuck-Po
2/12/23

The Western Penan are considered to be hunter-gatherers but the communities I worked with have been sedentary quite a long time. One of their economic activities is growing rice in small swiddens, most of which is consumed domestically. Other activities included weaving (here and here) and blacksmithing. I took these photos in Long Singu, Sarawak, in January 2010. For audio accompaniment, see here.
Two women pounding rice (to separate the husks) inside an apartment, Lg Singu, 2010
Two women pounding rice (to separate the husks) inside an apartment, Lg Singu, 2010
It was really dark in there - had to use the flash to see what I was doing. But most times, they worked outside the apartments, on the longhouse verandah. The Penan being egalitarian, this job is not a strictly woman's job, either:
Two guys pounding rice, Lg Singu, 2010
Two guys pounding rice, Lg Singu, 2010
Baby examine the hole in the mortar, Lg Singu, 2010
Baby examines the hole in the mortar, Lg Singu, 2010

Then the rice is gathered together and winnowed by hand:
Woman winnowing rice, Lg Singu, 2010
Woman winnowing rice, Lg Singu, 2010

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Guest
Dec 04, 2023

Amazing rice mortars. Never say any like those.

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tplye2
Dec 04, 2023
Replying to

Yeah, while I was preparing this, I took a look at google images and noticed that they're all just the bowl. I suppose the Penan one saves a bit on pounding muscles

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