Origins of Place Names in Brunei (Part 3)

Today we look at some more place names in Brunei to look at the origin of the names of those places. The following are derived from the Brunei Museum Journal 1996/1997.

Two rivers in Temburong named Sungai Nagalang and Sungai Peliunan are two place names which come under descriptive names in a Brunei toponym (toponomy is the study of place names). Both come from Murut words. Nagalang comes from the word 'galang' (standard Malay - gelang) which means circular bracelet. Peliunan comes from the word 'liun' which means circling around, most Bruneians use the word 'beliun' which can mean circling around or to make a u-turn. These two are considereded as descriptive because these two rivers as do most natural rivers meander in a loop or loops.

Another place name in Temburong is Batu Apoi. Batu Apoi takes its name from Sungai Batu Apoi. Where does the word Batu Apoi come from? Quite sometime ago, a Murut longhouse once stood beside that river. According to their legend, Batu Apoi takes its name from a fiery rock which was once upstream. This rock made the whole area unhospitable and uninhabitable by any human. Then one day a Murut culture-hero came along, took a look at the fiery rock and threw that rock far out into the sea. By doing so, he made the area inhabitable and safe for the Muruts to come and live there. So why Batu Apoi? Apoi is the Murut word for Api, hence fiery rock is Batu Api or Batu Apoi in Murut which became widely used until today.

Other Brunei puak jati or native words made up some other place names. Because the majority of Brunei Malays speak Brunei Malay, there is a tendency to forget these other languages that a large number of Brunei place names come from these languages. Although there are several versions on the origin of the names of Sengkurong and Bengkurong - according to Dusun speakers, Sengkurong means 'Kurong People' and Bengkurong means 'Kurong River'. The area around Sengkurong/Bengkurong was in the old days known presumably known as Kurong. This we can speculate to mean that the area was enclosed probably considered so far inland in those days (remember - no roads). Similarly for Tutong - again for Dusun speakers, Tutong is a name of a turtle. Whether that's the explanation for naming Tutong as Tutong, I have to do further research on this.

Sometimes Brunei Malays forget that there are other puak jatis in Brunei who are also Bruneians. Even though they belong to their own native races and speak their own languages but nevertheless they have added to the cultural diversity of names to our country Brunei Darussalam.


Anonymous said…
Perkataan Sengkurong berasal dari perkataan "kurong" bererti terkepung. Kononnya Sungai Sengkurong pada masa itu mengalir mengikut haluan yang berliku-liku dan berbelok-belok. Kawasan kediaman utama penduduk-penduduk terletak di satu tempat di mana sungai itu hampir mengelilingi atau menguronggi penempatan tersebut.

Sungai itu hampir bercantum semula di satu kawasan dimana pada ketika satu kejadian bah besar tercantumlah sungai itu. Oleh sebab air mengalir terlalu deras maka bahagian sungai yang mengelilingi kampong itu pun terputus dan tidak lagi menjadi arah aliran utama sungai. Lama kelamaan bahagian sungai yang lama itu pun tertimbus oleh tanah dan hilang kesannya di masa ini.

- Taken from Salasilah Keluarga Keturunan aji Tamit bin Asmat, Kampong Sengkurong.

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