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Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Iban's "Pua"

Pua Kumbu
Hand-woven on a back-strap loom, Pua Kumbu represent the soul of Iban culture. It is a woven mythological tale about the weaver and her affiliation with the spirit world. The weaving is considered sacred and is believed to be able to mediate between man and the spirit world when spiritual power is woven into it with its designs conceived. Although dreams according to their weaving status and are thus limited in expressions till she is spiritually matured. In Iban culture, a woman who weaved a spiritually superb Pua Kumbu would achieves a social status equivalent to that of a great warrior.

Pua Sungkit
Among the three Iban Pua series identified, Pua Kumbu and Pua Karap are still available in the market with Pua Kumbu being most common. Pua Sungkit is totally unavailable in the market probably because no one is willing to go through the tedious process of its weaving journey. In fact, the function of Pua Sungkit in Iban Culture is exactly the same as Pua Kumbu, the only difference between Pua Sungkit and Pua Kumbu is the weaving technique and process during the making. However, due to its difficult making process, most Pua Sungkit are smaller in size and most of it were made into higher value items like costume where it was featured as skirt and only be worn by dancers of higher caliber during special occasion.

Pua Karap
Pua Karap, another piece of art that is equally important within the Iban Community. If we look at the traditional Iban costume, besides the silver headgear and accessories on the head and Marik Empang (the beaded collar) down the shoulder, Kain Karap made up the rest of the costume component (the Skirt and Selampai ) . Although sometimes we do find the skirt to be in the form of Pua Kumbu and Pua Sungkit, but Kain Karap is the preferred choice as its refined weaving technique adds texture to Nangjat performances, a must in most celebrations.

Iban's Traditional Foods...

The Ibans tribe are from Sarawak, Borneo. Their traditional foods are called Pansuh food, which simply means the cooking of food or dish in a bamboo stem. It's naturally clean, easy and simple. The food (meat, chicken, fish, vegetables and even rice together with the spices) will all be put together into the bamboo stem, then directly placed over an open fire to be cooked. The uniqueness of using the bamboo stem to cook is that the bamboo will give a special aroma and texture to the food where it's impossible to have using other methods such as using woks.

Since they settled in the Malaysian state of Sarawak over 400 years ago, the Iban have made the surrounding rainforest their supermarket and hardware store, tapping the tremendous variety of plants, animals and raw materials for their food, medicines, dwellings and rituals.

Sarawak’s forests and rivers largely influence the lives of the indigenous people, who have a history of being very reliant upon the forest for food and medicines, as well as much of their building materials. Their forebears lived in or at the forest fringe, usually along rivers, fishing, hunting and foraging for food.

Forest ferns have a special place in the diet of the people, with the two most popular ferns used as vegetables being "kemiding" and the fiddlehead fern (pucuk paku). Kemiding grows wild in the secondary forests and is peculiar to the state. It has curly fronds and is very crunchy even after it has been cooked. Rural dwellers have always considered the fern a tasty, nutritious vegetable and the jungle fern’s rise from rural staple to urban gourmet green occurred in the 1980s with the increased urban migration of the Iban. Aromatic leaves from trees, such as the Bungkang, are also used in cooking to flavor food.

The Iban still live by the river and forest fringe, and cook over open fires using implements fashioned from Nature. Commonly found in the forests, the hardy bamboo is an essential cooking utensil. Rice, meat, fish and vegetables are stuffed into bamboo logs and stand in wood fires to cook, the bamboo infusing the food with a fresh aroma.

One of the best known Iban dishes is "manuk pansuh" (ayam pansuh), which features chicken and lemongrass cooked in a bamboo log over an open fire. This natural way of cooking seals in the flavors and produces astonishingly tender chicken with a gravy perfumed with lemongrass and bamboo.

A visit to the longhouse will usually see guests welcomed with a glass of "tuak", a home-brewed rice wine. The brew has a sweet fragrance and is highly alcoholic – a small glass is enough to send the unaccustomed to euphoric heights.

The numerous riverine areas of Sarawak provide the state’s inhabitants with abundant fresh water fish, with the Tilapia being the most widely cultivated. There are sago grubs, bamboo clams and temilok (marine worms) to try. The bright yellow, round eggplants and turmeric flowers are also found in Iban foods.

Iban's Traditional Tattoo....

The sketches of traditional Borneo patterns should generally be seen as nothing but vague guidelines, since different tribes use similar or the same motives,the meanings evolving from one village to the next. One meaning of "Pantang" in the Iban language is "Tattoo". But the Ibans were not simply out to document what they saw as Iban "fading tattoo values". They also had their own bodies tattooed in older designs and tattooed Iban men in exchange. This was their self-described "bejalai adventure through Sarawak," and they traveled to the Skrang and Bangkit rivers in search of men who still knew the old methods. In addition, the buah terung design and also known as the "bungai terung" finds a place in both sets, which suggests the old/new division is rather arbitrary. The meanings ascribed to the designs are sometimes consistent with what we have heard or read, and sometimes at variance, but that is no real surprise, the Ibans are not so homogeneous as we might be tempted to believe.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Iban Costume..

This is when I'm wearing Ngepan

I love when I wear the Iban costume.. I know, when I wear it, it was symbolize my culture.. How sweet the Iban girl wearing that costume. Eventhough it was quite heavy, but i love to wear it.. It is unique.... Colorful.. And full with symbolic..... Besides, I am proud to wear it because most of my accessories was made by my mum such as kain kebat, marik empang, and selampai.The picture shows the full costume for the girl...

Some accessories called NGEPAN INDU IBAN:

Full accessories of NGEPAN INDU IBAN

1. Sugu Tinggi

2. Tangu / Marik empang

This marik empang was made by mum...

3. Selampai, (Selendang-in Malay)

This selampai also was made by my mum..

4. Rawai
This picture is quite blur. Sorry...

5. Sementing ringgit

6. Tumpa (Gelang tangan)

7. Lampit

8. Sengkiling (Sementing Buchai)

9. Buah Pauh

10. Gerunchung kaki

11. Kain kebat

This kain kebat is the older one that my family have..

This is the modern kain kebat.... 

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Religion, Culture & Festivals...

The Ibans were traditionally animist, although the majority are now Christian, some of them Muslim and many continue to observe both Christian and traditional ceremonies, particularly during marriages or festivals.
Significant festivals include the rice harvesting festival Gawai Dayak, the main festival for the Ibans.Other festivals include the bird festival 'Gawai Burung' and the spirit festival 'Gawai Antu'. The Gawai Dayak festival is celebrated every year on the 1st of June, at the end of the harvest season, to worship the Lord Sempulang Gana. On this day, the Ibans get together to celebrate, often visiting each other. The Iban traditional dance, the ngajat, is performed accompanied by the taboh and gendang, the Ibans' traditional music. Pua Kumbu, the Iban traditional cloth, is used to decorate houses. Tuak, which is originally made of rice, is a wine used to serve guests. Nowadays, there are various kinds of tuak, made with rice alternatives such as sugar cane, ginger and corn.
The Gawai Burong (the bird festival) is held in honour of the war god, Singalang Burong. (Singalang the Bird). This festival is initiated by a notable individual from time to time and hosted by individual longhouses. The Gawai Burong originally honoured warriors, but during more peaceful times evolved into a healing ceremony. The recitation of pantun (traditional chants by poets) is a particularly important aspect of the festival.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Musical & Dancing Heritage....

Iban music is percussion-oriented. The Iban have a musical heritage consisting of various types of agung ensembles - percussion ensembles composed of large hanging, suspended or held, bossed/knobbed gongs which act as drones without any accompanying melodic instrument. The typical Iban agung ensemble will include a set of engkerumungs (small agungs arranged together side by side and played like a xylophone), a tawak (the so-called 'bass'), bebendai (which acts as a snare) and also a set of ketebung (a single sided drum/percussion).
The Iban as well as the Kayan also play an instrument resembling the flute called 'Sape'. The Sape is the official musical instrument for the Malaysian state of Sarawak. It is played similarly to the way rock guitarists play guitar solos, albeit a little slower, but not as slow as blues. One example of Iban traditional music is the Taboh.
The Ibans perform a unique dance called the Ngajat. It serves many purposes depending on the occasion. During Gawais, it is used to entertain the people who in the olden days enjoy graceful ngajats as a form of entertainment. Iban men and women have different styles of ngajat. The ngajat involves a lot of precise body-turning movements. The ngajat for men is more aggressive and depicts a man going to war, or a bird flying (as a respect to the Iban god of war, Singalang Burong). The women's form of ngajat consists of soft, graceful movements with very precise body turns. Each ngajat is accompanied by the taboh or the body.