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Dragons in the Waters of Borneo: Power, Protection and Threat

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Beliefs about snake-like water spirits or dragons are ubiquitous in SE Asia, and Borneo is no exception. These beliefs derive from east and west, from the Chinese lung and the Indian naga, as well as from an earlier stratum of beliefs deriving from both an Austronesian and a pre-Austronesian heritage. In 2017 I began research on these beliefs in Sarawak and I will discuss some of these here. These spirits are closely associated with water and its power both to fertilize and to destroy, and this is reflected in complex beliefs around their relationship with humans.


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