The Malanau people 5.8% of Sarawaka's population now mostly living in the central coastal region, were once more widely scattered. They traditionally lived near the sea within reach of the pirates. The Melanau built massive houses forty feet above the ground.
The Melanau eat sago in preference to rice. Sago palms originally grew wild in the coastal swamps, and they are cultivated. The ten-metre high palm trunk accumulates starch. It swells just before flowering and that is the right time to harvest it by felling.
The pith is grated to a fine mash. This is soaked in a long wooden trough , then trodden through a mat to leach out the sago starch. The off-white sediment settles in the bottom of the trough. It is spread on mates to dry into lumps. These are broken up ad finally ground into flour.
On the top floor was the wedding bed and dowry. Elder Boyter is trying to figure out how he can get one of these cannons home. He found some in an antique shop that were not quite as fancy and larger but was told that we could not buy them. We were told that we would have to apply for a special permit that takes a long time to process. We shall see.