Period: 15 June 2004 - 2 January 2005. Country: Indonesia
(1) Ethnobotany of the Penan Benalui of East Kalimantan, Indonesia
KOIZUMI Miyako  (Division of Southeast Asian Area Studies)
Key Words: Ethnobotany, Penan Benalui, Folk Classification, Plant Use, Borneo

A Penan informant and Licuala sp.
(2) The Penan Benalui were nomadic hunter-gatherers living in the forests of the interior of Borneo, who began to settle down and conduct swidden agriculture in the 1960s.
          The purpose of the dissertation is to investigate the recognition and utilization of plants by the Penan Benalui. The dissertation will consist of two parts. First, folk classifications, naming, and use of plants by the Penan Benalui will be described, and then they will be compared with those of other hunter-gatherers. Second, the dynamic nature of Penan Benalui ethnobotanical knowledge will be considered. This dynamic nature is related to theacquisition of ethnobotanical knowledge by individuals and differences in ethnobotanical knowledge among individuals. The effects of sedentary living on ethnobotanical knowledge will also be discussed.

(3)  Ethnobotanical knowledge and plant specimens were collected to complement an inventory of Penan Benalui ethnobotanical knowledge studied during the previous fieldwork. The inventory includes information on Penan Benalui names and usage of plants. The Penan Benalui proved to have abundant and in-depth plant names. They reported as many useful plants as agricultural groups in Borneo. However, they use fewer plants for medicinal and ritual purposes than the agricultural groups.
          The learning process for ethnobotanical knowledge differs among individuals, but they usually begin learning from their parents when they become old enough to remember what they are taught (late teenager or older). Personal experiences also play an important role in the learning process. Differences of habitat, ecology, and qualities among closely related plants are mostly leaned through personal observations.
          There were some young men who had deep knowledge of forest plants, but there were no young women who did. Men still frequently go into the forests for hunting and gathering, while women spend most of their time in the village.

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