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October's Borneo Legends & Myths

by Stanislaus Kassun

 Text & Images Courtesy of SarawakAlive!


It is believed that the buffalo once had teeth in the upper and lower jaws just as we have them.  Here is a story of how the buffalo lost all the teeth on the upper jaw.


One day one of them went grazing over an area on which grass grew.  It did not know that there were other animals there.  Through the grass came a little bird with a long and beautiful tail.  This bird was no taller than the grass.   Its size was an advantage to the bird for it could hide itself whenever an enemy came near, but if large footed animals came they might not see it and there would be a chance that it might be trampled to death.

The bird shouted with pain

and struggled very hard

This buffalo was busy grazing and the little bird was resting in the grass for it was tired after a long search for food.  As time passed by, the buffalo came to the spot where the little bird was resting, and suddenly the tail of the little bird was accidentally stepped on. The bird shouted with pain and struggled very hard.  It struggled and struggled.  Then it happened that the buffalo's mouth was very near and so, during the hard struggle, the teeth of the buffalo's upper jaw were knocked out completely by the bird's legs and wings.  Not a tooth was left.


The bird finally escaped, but sad to say, it had lost its tail.  How angry the little bird was, and at the same time, how miserable and annoyed the buffalo at losing all its upper teeth.  They quarrelled and quarrelled, they cast evil over each other.  Finally the buffalo said that the little bird's tail and the tails of all its offspring would never exist again from that day.  The little bird did not just keep quiet, but told the buffalo that he had all his generations would only have one row of teeth.  Then they separated.  So, when we look at the mouth of a buffalo, we will see that it has no teeth in the upper jaw.  If we happen to see this little bird, we will see that its tail end is round, and without feathers.  These birds are known as pimpikau in Kadazan.

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