Current Punan Sama longhouse was initially part of the many Punan longhouses at the confluence of Bah river. It remained there until the prolonged war with the invading Kayans, Ibans came to an end some 200 years ago.
Feeling that they no longer need to defend themselves against Kayans attack, they gradually moved away from the Bah river area. Punan Sama was known with several names – (1) Lovuk Tepeleang (2) Lovuk Lanying (3) Lovuk Telawan.
But, until this day – the name Punan Sama or Punan lovuk Tepeleang (crosswise) is interchangably use.
It is known as lovuk Tepeleang or crosswise because contrary to Punan tradition, the longhouse was built at the right angle of the other longhouses, due to space constraint. Hence it was name Tepeleang (or crosswise longhouse).
The Punan lovuk Tepeleang came into existence through the fission of the longhouse of legendary Kavuk Kuk longhouse. Kavuk Oka’s elder son, Salui, continued to rule the stem-house, while a younger son, Bejeang split off with a section of the longhouse to form a separate community. Under the leadership of Bejeang’s daughter and son-in-law, they the longhouse just across the Rejang river, to Ungei Susou (or Susou river). The longhouse remained there for several years and then moved on to ungei Mi’a.
The Punan Tepeleang remained at Mi’a area for a long time, probably for several decades as suggested by the fact that they had two keliriengs erected there. A kelirieng or burial pole is erected to honour the dead aristocrats. In fact it is still a common notion that the land of the Mi’a still belong to the Punan Tepeleang communities should they ever return to claim it again.
Under Ji Ui’s ruled the Punan Tepeleang was prosperous, thus enable them expanding their territories way further up the Rejang river. They eventually moved away from Mia and erected new settlements at numerous places such as ungei Keruang, Pi’i, Bua and Bo’on.
The Punan Tepeleang remained at Bo’on living peacefully for several decades before being interrupted by the arrival of yet new invasion – by the Ibans. This probably occurred some 100 year ago. The invading Ibans were rather ruthless. Many Punan peoples loss their loved ones fighting the invading Ibans.
Unable to defend themselves – the Punan of Bo’on eventually retreating to Belaga following the other Punan communities. They remained in Belaga area living together with the Sekapan, Kejaman and Kayan communities peacefully for a few decades and erected a kelirieng in the area.
One of the kelirieng later removed by Sarawak Museum authority to Kuching and re-erected in front of the new museum wing. After the war with Iban ended, the Punan Tepeleang and also the other Punan communities, gradually moved back down river and built a new longhouse at Telawan, while the Punan Bah and Biau went down and rebuilt their damaged longhouses.
While in Telawan, a terrible outbreak of disease (probably cholera) killing almost half of Punan Tepeleang peoples, thus, forced them to abandon the longhouse at Telawan almost immediately. Those survived the mysterious diseases moved a little further down and settled down at Sama river. They remained at Sama until this day.
In the early 1970s – 1990s Punan Sama was ruled by Kulleh Emang a Lahanan who married the Chief adopted daughter (Akek Saging Oro). Akek Saging Oro was of Kayan origin. Today Punan Sama has a new democratically elected Chief – Ladang Keluka.
HOW TO GET THERE?
Punan Sama longhouse is about an hour journey from Belaga and 3 hours from Kapit onboard an express boat. If you are adventurous enough you can hire private car – locally known as “four-wheel drive” to take you to Punan Sama via Bintulu.
‘Punan Sama longhouse’, ‘Current Punan Sama longhouse was initially part of the many Punan longhouses at the confluence of Bah river. It remained there until the prolonged war with the invading Kayans came to an end some 200 years ago.