Saturday, October 17, 2009

I am a Iban

Finally...after many attempts..i made it..make what? you must have ask this, don't u? Well, i finally post something in this blog after a long time... i won't story-tell about Iban culture or heritage but i will talk about my feeling as an Iban surrounding by non-Ibans. Let me begin my story...

After form 5 (or high school), i continued my study in Labuan, but Labuan is not so strange and different as i still mixed around with Ibans. Then, I continued my study in Kelantan. Now, i feel quite as a stranger as i was one of two newly intake Ibans (dont ask about the seniors because as far as i still can remember, i only have 1 iban senior that time). I learned living like I was a very strange girl. People couldn't tell what race I am as I look like Chinese or Malays or they just couldn't guess. When i talked with my Sabahan friends, we were mistaken as Siamese or Phillipines. Hahhh.. And when I mentioned I'm a Iban from Sarawak..people again mistaken me from Sabah even if I have mentioned I'm from Sarawak hundred times. Why?!!
Now, I study in KL and i stay with my Malay Semenanjung friends. Funny when i keep hearing them don't want to be job posting in Sarawak and Sabah. As if they will be doomed! What is so scary about us Sarawakians? True we Iban hunt people's head but that was a very long time ago. I travelled and lived for so long in West Malaysia why they don't have the courage to do so? I've been asked what do Ibans eat. I just answered we eat just the same as they eat just the way we cook the meal is different (but deep in my heart i wanna tell them, we eat pork as our most enjoyable meal but don't want to say that as my friends are malays..i respect them).
I also keep thinking why Ibans sound so strange while in the History subject, every Malaysians have been introduce the races in Malaysia. Pelik kan?
Nahhh...whatever... I always proud to be an Iban no matter what...

Friday, May 15, 2009


Gawai Dayak celebration is coming soon but i will able to go back to kampung (village) due to no holidays. So, seems i will celebrate Gawai alone with friends that don't even know what is Gawai.. huhuuhu..
Not celebrating Gawai means no tuak drinking this year. Tuak is a kind of wine rice that must be served during Gawai (and other occasions too such as wedding and any occasions that Ibans need to entertain visitors). It is usually served on Gawai Day to symbolize long living. Tuak is known as ai pengayu (water that can lenghten life).Just made tuak (after 2 weeks)

Making of Tuak:
For every 5 Kg of glutinous rice you will need 5 kg of round 'ragi'(yeast) and 5 pieces of thin slice ragi. (round ragi for bitterness, slice ragi for sweetness). Glutinous rice is cooked and left to cool in a 'tapan' or any flat utensils. The yeast are pounded into powder and mixed with the rice after it has cool. This mixture is then left to ferment in any clean container (jar) for a week or so.
Cool, boiled water plus sugar(syrup) is added to this mixture. (10 kg sugar for 20 liters of water)

p/s: miss the taste of tuak and its palau (drunk) effect

Monday, March 23, 2009

Gawai Celebration

Iban have many festivals called 'Gawai'. There are the 'Gawai Kenyalang' (hornbill festival), 'Gawai Antu' (festival for the dead) and 'Gawai Dayak' (harvesting festival).
Gawai Dayak
Gawai Dayak is celebration for the natives races in Sarawak; the Iban, Bidayuh, Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit, Murut and a few more. Preparation starts very early. Tuak (rice wine) are brewed and traditional delicacies like penganan (cakes from rice flour, sugar and coconut milk) prepared. As the big day approaches, everyone will be busy with the general cleaning and preparing the food or cakes. On Gawai eve, glutinous rice are roasted in bamboo (ngelulun pulut). In the longhouse, new mats will be laid out on the ruai (an open gallery which runs through the entire length of the longhouse). The walls of most bilik (rooms) and the ruai are decorated with pua kumbu (traditional blanket).
The celebration starts on the evening of 31st May. In most Iban's longhouse, it starts with a ceremony called Muai Antu Rua (to cast away the spirit of greediness), signifying the non interference of the spirit of bad luck in the celebration. Two children or men each dragging a chapan or winnowing basket will pass each family room. Every family will throw some unwanted article into the basket. The unwanted articles will be tossed to the ground from the end of the longhouse for the spirit of bad luck.
Around 6 pm, miring (offering ceremony) will take place. Before the ceremony, gendang rayah (ritual music) is performed. The feast chief thanks the gods for the good harvest, ask for guidance, blessings and long life as he sacrifices a cockerel. Dinner will then be served at the ruai. While waiting for midnight, the folks gather and mingle at the ruai and berandau (talk/converse). Meanwhile, drinks, traditional cakes and delicacies are served.
At midnight, the gong is sounded. The tuai rumah will lead everyone to drink the Ai Pengayu (normally tuak for long life) and at the same time wishing each other "gayu-guru, gerai-nyamai" (long life, health and prosperity). A procession up and down the ruai called Ngalu Petara (Welcoming the Spirits) will follow. The celebration by now will get more merrier. Some will dance to the traditional music played. Others will sing the pantun (poems). In the town, the Dayak will gather at the community centres or restaurants for a enliven the evening.
Other activities that may follow the next day include cock-fighting, demonstration of blowpipe skills and ngajat competitions. On this day, 1st June, the homes of the Dayaks will be opened to visitors. In the longhouses, there is a practises called masu pengabang where guests will be served with tuak by the host before they can enter the longhouse. Dayaks will attend a church mass to thanks God for the good harvest. Gawai Dayak celebration may last for several days. Visitors are most welcome to the homes of the Dayaks during the festival.
p/s: Gawai Antu and Gawai Burong will be elaborated in the next blog..
till then..

Monday, March 9, 2009

Wonder where or what is Lubok Antu?

Lubok Antu folk to enjoy phone, Internet service soon
By Jacob Achoi

LUBOK ANTU: The people of Lubok Antu will soon enjoy the benefits of Internet and telephone service with the construction of a telecommunication tower and community broadband centre in the area.

Deputy Minister of Energy, Water and Communications Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum said the tower would enable the locals to enjoy the services of mobile and fixed telephone lines, while the centre would be equipped with computers and Internet access.

Salang said on Saturday night that the tower to be built at a cost of about RM1.2 million and the centre between RM1.2 and RM1.5 million would come “very soon”.

He also said that the locals would start receiving rebates for their outboard engines by March 18.

At the meet-the-people session at Ruman Jangan that evening, Salang who is Julau MP, was quick to stress that the announcement was not a political gimmick, but a coincidence.

“What the government is giving to the people is not an election gimmick,” Salang said at the gathering, which was held during the launch of Universal Service Provision (USP) for the people here.

He said both projects were decided and approved last November, adding that the government had spent about RM20.2 million for the USP projects in Batang Ai.

According to him, another RM20 million would be spent until the end of next year.

“The government is making continuous effort to reduce the digital divide between urban and rural areas.”

On the outboard engine rebate, he explained that it had to be sorted out, adding that the amount had to be based on the horsepower of the engines.

Salang went on to say that the construction of the telecommunication tower would include putting up portable generator to benefit the longhouses that had yet to enjoy electricity supply.

“With the construction of the tower, 60 public telephones will be installed at various longhouses here and in Batang Ai,” Salang said.

On the setting up of a community broadband centre, Salang explained that Malaysian Commission of Communications and Multimedia would employ two local graduates in Computer Science to teach the locals to use computers and surf the Internet.

Salang, who is information chief of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) also urged locals to support whoever the party might field in the coming by-election, saying the Barisan Nasional was always there to help the people.

“We acknowledge the difficulties faced by the people, but development only comes slowly but surely,” Salang said at the function, which was also attended by Lubok Antu MP William Nyalau, Balai Ringin assemblyman Snowdan Lawan, Lubok Antu District Officer Nelson Mujah Girie and MCCM senior director Datuk Jailaini Johari.

Salang later gave a personal donation of RM1,000 to the longhouse (Rh Jangan).

Source: Borneo Post Online March, 10th 2009

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Let's Karaoke

Boring...boring...boring... So what do i do to kill my boringness? hehehe... i karaoke Iban songs!!! My love for Iban songs such i can't measure. Simply because of one reason--i can relate myself to the lyrics. Not like english songs which most of the time, have nothing to do with my way of life.. Iban song lyrics are simple. Usually the theme almost similar but i don't know...i just enjoy it..

Try this if you want to hear to some of the best....
1. Nadai Penanggul (literally means no problem)
2. Kena sempulut
3. Udah telanjur tua bepangan
4. Engka (if)
5. Flora
6. Sayau pemadu sayau
7. Selamat beserara
8. 1001
9. Seidup sejalai

Friday, March 6, 2009

My Long----------------------house

Now: 1.42pm Sat, 7th of March. I'm alone in my room because my roommate went back to Sarawak already. Oh i miss Kuching so much but what can I do, just sitting here in front of my lappy and trying to be in Sarawak mentally.. *huhhh how pity* So, here i am.. storytelling you about my house, my longhouse, the Iban longhouse.

Looooooooonggghouse? is this long enough? hehehe.. Anyway, while searching in the internet about longhouse, it is such a surprise for me that the Westerners are very interested in longhouse because they just can't imagine how hundreds of people living harmoniously under one roof. But then again, maybe because they live life individually, that's why they are impressed by our life style.

Facts about Iban long house:
1. Long house is not only can be found in Iban community but also in other Dayak community such as Bidayuh, Orang Ulu etc
2. It usually faces the river.
3. Chief of long house is called as tuai rumah. Any wrong doings or matters in the long house can be refer to tuai rumah.

4. Every rumah panjai usually has a few main parts, namely the bilik, ruai, tanju, sadau and dapur. Bilik is a family living room which is separated with other bilik by wall. Ruai is in front of bilik but no wall. So it is a big open space in long house. Usually it is used by the longhouse members to held activities during gawai festival or any other gathering. Sadau is the small space above the bilik and functions to store family possesions like mats, cane baskets etc. In the olden days, tibang (huge bins) that contains padi is stored here too. Tanju is adjacent to ruai except that tanju has no roof. It is unprotected from the sun because it is the place where padi that has been harvested is winnowed and sunned before being stored in tibang. Dapur is the kitchen.
5. As many of the longhouses are situated deep in the Sarawak forest, the only accesible transportation is by boat ride. The boat used is called perahu which is a long and thin boat.

Notice how thin the boats are?

Nowadays, many long house is modernised. The design might be the same as the old design but now you can easily find long house which is made of brick. These longhouses are equiped with modern electrical devices and usually easily accesible by cars.

As you can see, this what tanju look likes.. (Huhu...Astro?)

Members of the rumah panjai are chatting with each other at ruai..

p/s: Next time if you visit Sarawak, don't forget to visit the longhouse. We, Ibans love visitors... trust me..
See this picture, how Westerners enjoy our hospitality...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pantang a.k.a Tattoo

You heard the word tattoo before... and you know what is pantang in BM.. But here, pantang and tattoo are the same thing.. It is simply the tattoo, the body art. Pantang is what we Ibans called tattoo. Nowadays, among educated people, tattoo is always associated with something bad. But among we Ibans, tattoo is something we are proud of. At least for people who appreciate this body art. A few facts regarding Borneo tattoo:

  1. Among the tribes in Bornoe, tattoing is mainly associated with headhunting (a visible sign of success) for men and the coming of age of women.
  2. Nature is the main focus when designing a Borneo Traditional Tattooing such as leaves, animals, fruits, trees and branches.
  3. This original traditional method of tattooing is a real pain. How it was done?

    One stick is held onto the skin with the needle or sharp stick going into the skin and the other is used as a type of hammer, tapping ink into the skin. The thickness, durability and type of stick are varied to which the tattooist prefers.

    Stretching of the skin is very important to the process. Like with the sticks each artist has their own preferred way of having the skin stretched. Stretching is different on each part of the body and the correct stretching reduces the time taken to do that tattoo, considerably. A good assistant doing the stretching can reduce the time a tattoo takes by half.

  4. Tribal tattoo is what the West called tattoo from borneo.
  5. Tattoos are like a diary. The young man would go out on his own to find knowledge. As he travels he is marked by the tattoos that not only tell of where he came from but also where he has been. For each place the tattoos will have different styles and so the regional differences would tell of his journeys in life.
  6. Many of the designs no longer exist. In the 1950s and 1960s many people in Borneo converted toChristinity and a lot of the traditional tattooing stopped. The tattooing and designs almost died away. About 10 years ago there was a resurgence when a lot of journalists and researchers came and asked questions about the old ways. This caused a lot of the younger people to look back and now many of them are getting these traditional tattoos done again.
Now, at Sarawak, Kuching particularly, there are many tattoo studios. The price of a tattoo depends on how big or hard your tattoo is. Might reach hundreds for one tattoo. One that i know is, for a ring tattoo, you can get it for Rm80 (if i'm not mistaken).
My dad has his tattoo done at his thigh and my brother has his at his arm. My uncle has one tattoo of his girlfriend's name on his arm (not his wife now though...uhhuhh). Me? I don't have any. I used to want to make one at my back, but after a lot of thinking - i stopped my intention. But now, quite interested to make one at my ankle...but maybe will never do...due some reason..hehe..

Something about bungai terung design...
The Bunga Terung (eggplant flower), marks the start of a journey called bejalai, the mark of a passage from boyhood into manhood. The Bunga Terung has a spiral at the center of the eggplant flower the Tali Nyawa, which means "the rope of life" and is identical to the underside of a tadpole which symbolizes the beginning of a new life. The bunga terung is supposed to guard the wearer from evil spirits. The bunga terung should always be done in pairs. They can be on the back, buttocks, shoulders and/or chest. NEVER, should they be done singularly. They are supposed to protect both sides of the body from evil.

This is an example of bungai terung...

About other tattoos... Some represent big life events, such as fathering children. For example, there is a tattoo a man can have done on his hand called the Entegulun. You can only have this if you have taken heads! Some tattoos can be for protection, for example the tattoos on the throat (Ukir Rekong) are meant to give strength to the skin on the throat, to stop enemies from being able to take your head.

Tattoo on hands usually for women...