Category archives: traditional

The Story of Sikokok

Tabi basa, silamat brupagi, sramat isan-isan, slamat pagi & greetings everyone! Today I’d like to write about one of the stories from my childhood, which is about a bird callled “sikokok” (in Serian) or “Sikukuok” (in Bau). In English, it is called red-legged crake (Rallina fasciata).

It is a medium-large bird with size of 24cm in length. Its head, neck and breast red-brown, paler on throat. Its upper parts are grey-brown. Underparts and underwings are barred black and white. Its bill is green and its legs are red. But its most defining character is its red eye. 🔴A fiery-red eye, that tells us a lot about its true nature. It is like a ghost in disguise for Bidayuhs.👻

Bidayuh folklore revolves around our relationship with nature, with most of the spirits are manifested in physical world in apparition of animals. In this case, sikokok represents spirits that borders between life and death. It is also related to Bidayuh’s “pontianak”, despite its innocent look of a small bird.

The sound of sikokok represents a lot of thing. It could mean an impending death at a village. In a normal day, usually sikokok is silent. But when someone is about to die, especially back in the olden days where we were still practicing folk religion, sikokok’s sound from a distance at night means someone is about to pass away. We will gather at the person’s house at his or her final hour to give comfort to the family, as well as to be ready for anything, be it spiritual, or physical threat.

When I was a still a small boy, before I started my primary school, I like to sleep with my grandparents, a habit that seems to be followed by my nephew and niece. There is something so comforting with them around me as I fell asleep, especially when it comes to supernatural security. Usually I will wake up my late grandfather or grandma to accompany me for extra protection. But there was one time, I really want to go to the toilet. Suddenly, there was a sikokok’s sound from a distance.

Sikokok’s sound means an approaching omen, or something that might disturb us. There is a weird thing about its warning sound. If sikokok’s sound is getting louder, then that “thing” is moving further away. But if sikokok’s sound is getting further, that “thing” is getting nearer.

As for my case, at first, it’s getting louder, but then it became further away. It means, something is near. Then I saw a black figure seems to be walking around our house. There is no way that could have been anyone. It’s around 3am in the morning. So, I cancelled my wish to go to the toilet and stayed motionless on my bed to avoid getting unwanted attention and ended up wetting my bed. But that’s way better than being disturbed by that “thing”.

The next morning, I told my grandparents what happened, and coincidentally there was someone passed away on that night too, around 3am. So the “thing” that I saw is someone’s spirit roaming around for one last time before “it” left.

At the jungle, if we see someone, we are not allowed to called them by name. Instead, we will shout “wooo”. If they are human, they will reply by shouting “wooo”.

For many Bidayuhs, no matter where they are, “sikokok” plays a key role in our native story-telling as it is closely related to the afterlife and supernatural. It is sad that its story is not well-documented, and many of those who knew no longer alive.

👻👻👻👻👻👻👻👻👻👻👻👻👻👻👻👻

TANEN SIKOKOK

Tabi basa ndug bala kende dangan silamat brupagi. Andu ti ku ira nulis pasal cirita de odog pidaan ndug aku wang ku lagi icek sani neh pasal manuk de odog taba ami sikokok de Kpg Pichin, Serian. Ganan ne ahi, Sikek, Sikekek, Sikukuk ato Sikukuok kuan Bi-Bau, pak kita bisi niju ndug manuk de indi ti.

Kai lagi manuk ti tantu bahas, Baak ne dangan koko’ ne nak bidaya mah kaler neh. Adeg dangan katap ne bihis-buda. Pak de kai buleh asat, bateh ne de pli kaler bidaya mung jawa apui. Kayuh kuan inya, mung mindu.

Tanen bala Bidayuh ti ahi ne pasal pimudip kita dangan tarun, ngin ahi bala kamang de dunia iti gayen ne mung bala pinatang. Dedeg sikokok ti, adeh inya manang ne nak tong kamang de nyaga pimudip dangan pingabus. Adeh lagi inya de manang ne “pontianak” Bidayuh mene pan riama ne mung manuk de icek. Ira ne maan toroi dari ato ngirantak turi kuan inya.

Angun sikokok ti ahi rati neh. Adeh inya manang ne pidaan pingabus de binua. De andu biasa, anyap angun kayuh ti. Pak wang adeh inya ira kabes, labih lagi sani neh wang ami lagi minan adat damba, angun sikokok de masu joho wang bingarum rati neh adeh inya ira kabes. Kita bigumpul bisindi duwah ramin inya de ira kabes tinan kita pirimpu asung bala nyahe, tangini pan kita ira sidiya asung kita dedeg kayuh de ira nantek kita, baik duwah kayuh de dapat dep tebek ne ato de anyap tanggah.

Wang ku lagi icek sani neh, sibayuh ku sikulah mangon, ku babar buus dangan bala tayung dangan turang babuk ku. Anak buah ku pan kelek ne buus dangan bala tayung babuk ne ngaya aku ngin pli lelek aku buus dangan bala neh. Lama neh wang ku ira kasing, garak ku tayung ato babuk ku ngancak ne nganted aku kasing. Aku mua maru tirawe sani neh. Pak adeh indi ngarum he, wang ku ira kasing, tipiya pli adeh angun sikokok. Mera tamang neh, tanan de rap ne nyap asung ku.

Angun sikokok ti rati neh adeh kayuh de nyinduk, ato adeh kayuh ira ngaco adep. De tusa neh, wang ne makin nyohon, makin joho ceh kayuh he. Pak wang ne makin retek, makin sinduk ceh kayuh he.

Balik ndug ciritu aku, angun de melen neh makin nyohon pli makin retek, rati neh kayuh he pli makin sinduk. Tebek ku adeh riama kayuh bihis de pinjan, mung kah ne panu de sapa ramin. Wang pkl 3 brupagi, anyap ceh inya pli gindong-gindong de awah. Kai ku jaji kasing. Biar ku kaset de amak masu ku napud kayuh he.

Andu dindi neh, ku pidaan dangan tayung babuk ku. Tantu lagi bala ne pidaan adeh inya kabus de binua ami ngarum he. Jaji kayuh de tebek ku he ihang inya de mbuh kabus ti, panu sibayuh ne tagan dunia iti.

De tarun, kan kita tebek bala dingan kita de plil joho, kai dep ngaba ganan neh, pak kita “wooo” ngaba neh. Kan nyahe neeh, saut ne balik minan “wooo”. Kan ne retek, aba nyiak neh. Tandah, bin ne ngajah adep maring.

Dedeg bala Bidayuh, dapih-dapih bala kita, baik de Bau, Padawan, Siburan ato Serian, sikokok/sikukuok/sekek ti ahi tanen neh ngin ne babar ngaban agah pingabus ato de kai tanggah. Pak mua lagi masi mikir ngin bala de puan cirita ti mbuh anyap.

p.s. cirita sikokok de ngade, ira madah buruh giradak wang ne pli biangun wang bingarum, nanda inya mbuh ira kabus ato adeh kayuh nyinduk.

Tukang Rantek,
Claudius

Picture Source: Wikipedia

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Sarawak Beauty: Indu Dara Iban

Tabi basa everyone! Sarawak is a land full of majestic land and beautiful peoples. Gawai is just one month away. Despite no formal celebration due to Covid, it is important for us to remember the spirit of Gawai. Therefore, today I’m pleased to present to the story about Iban peoples of Sarawak. In general, Iban is part of a bigger Dayak groups of Borneo, and is known world-wide for its beauty.

I always wonder what does Iban means. So I asked my KML room-mate, Gibson anak Entuni from Betong, he said, Iban means “people”. Just like other Borneo tribes, Iban has their own story. Thanks to Iban historian, Benedict Sandin (1918-1982), oral Iban stories are well-documented. In fact, it is so elaborate and it consists of a lot of stories, different realms (human/Iban world, raised world & God’s), most of Iban folklore centres around Keling, Head of Panggau Libau longhouse, the mythical home of the demi-gods. Just like Norse/Greek mythology, Iban has their own story too. In fact, the battle of the gods often change the landscape of the jungle. Just imagine if it is made into a movie by Hollywood – the whole Iban “ensera” / story. That would be awesome.

While Keling represents an ideal Iban man; handsome, powerful, brave, resourceful & intelligent; his wife, Kumang represents an ideal Iban woman; beautiful, graceful, and good at everything, including her expertise in weaving “pua kumbu”, one of Iban identity. Pua Kumbu is a traditional patterned multicolored ceremonial cotton cloth and are considered to be sacred objects. Pua Kumbu is used for rituals by Iban people, including birth, coming of age, and death. Disrespecting Pua Kumbu means you are disrespecting Iban peoples. Not everyone can weave Pua Kumbu because one has to be well-trained not only in technique but in spirit as it is an art taught by the God, Singalang Burong.

Kumang is also is also a title given to Iban’s beauty queen. Datin Senorita Linang is the first Iban maiden to be crowned Kumang Gawai Dayak for three consecutive years — 1966, 1967 and 1968. The younger generations would recognise Malaysia’s Miss Universe 2020, Francisca Luhong, who is of Iban-Kayan descent.

Beautiful in Iban is called “bajik”. To describe Iban’s beauty, here’s the best sentence for it: Indu Dara Iban tau ngaga Bujang Berani enda ulih enseput enggau manah, enda tekesapka mata enggau tau buntau malam ari. Meaning, Iban maiden’s beauty can make bachelors and young man think about her all the time, until they became sleepless. “Punggung chengkik baka biola ngasuh runding Bujang nyau mawa”, where it means their beauty makes bachelor lose their minds. Most of Iban girls complexion ranges from fair-skinned to medium-toned.

Their beauty even attracts the Westerners, especially from England because Sarawak was one of British colony after handed over by the last White Rajah. It is not uncommon to see non-Iban guys attracted to Iban women. Even from the young age, Iban women are taught to dress and behave well especially in front of the others because they carry the name of their family. It is normal for us to see Iban woman knows how to cook where cooking are considered to be the basic life skills and part of traditional Iban woman identity.

In general, most of the Iban women are soft-spoken and gentle, especially to guests. As described by Jenarino Jeraki’s in his song, “iya semina tuchum lelegup” (meaning, she only smiles). During Gawai, usually there will be a line of Iban girls waiting for guys in a long line before entering the long house. It’s an Iban tradition where the ladies will serve the men with drinks, especially “tuak” and “langkau” (a distilled tuak). In Iban custom, girls usually will wait for the guys to make the first move, example during joget. Guy has to be a gentlemen to invite them to joget. Behind their gentleness, Iban women are brave & resourceful, just like Kumang. Being gentle and soft-spoken doesn’t mean you can take advantage of them.

Iban women’s beauty has been a source of inspiration of love song creation, such as Flora by Jerry Kamit, Tuchum Lelegup by Jenarino Jeraki or even sadder toned, heartbreak songs such as “Kumang Seari” & “Sinu” by Masterpiece or hopeful song such as “Ngarapka Nuan Nikal Pulai”. The most famous of all, known nation-wide, Bekikis Bulu Betis by Iban music industry legend, Andrewson Ngalai, is a song about a guy who will do everything to win the maiden, including putting his life on the line.

During Iban’s engagement ceremony, “Melah Pinang”, the most important question is to ask whether you are willing to “nguai” Similar to Bidayuh, for many Ibans, this question is a big deal, especially if you are living in the same area & same village. In the olden days, it means you will move to a different longhouse and be part of a different community. You However, as observed in many Iban peoples, marrying other non-Ibans, it doesn’t carry a heavier weight anymore because it is much easier to access one place to another, though usually the married couples will take turn to celebrate Gawai at each side, just to be fair and square and avoid problems with both sides. Afterall, marriage is like bridging two families, and most of the times, bridging two village / long houses. You become an ambassador of your area to your respective spouses’ people.

During Gawai, all of the Iban ladies will be dressed in their finest signature pua kumbu traditional costumes, which includes these accessories, Sugu Tinggi (headgear), Tali Mulung, Rawai/Rawai Tinggi (plays a similar role to corset), Tumpa Bentuk, Buah Pauh (usually held in hand, with Perecha cloth in other hand), Gerunchung, Sementing Buchai, Lampit, Sementing Ringgit, Selampai & Tango/Marik Empang (circular bead accessory covering shoulder & chest).
Due to evolution of local fashion and identity, different Iban area has a different costume. Each of their own unique style.

Although there are so many ngepan variations, it can be divided into few main groups based on its similarities and areas. Types of ngepan Iban are as follows:

1. Ngepan Rajang (Signature dress made from beads called “Baju Ujan”, with headgear called “Dunjung Marik”. It is often called the most unique Ngepan)

2. Ngepan Saratok (signature Sugu Tinggi Ensuga decorated with colour paper)

3. Ngepan Saribas (wearing Rawai Tinggi)

4. Ngepan Batang Ai (without Marik Empang)

5. Ngepan Skrang (without Marik Empang)

6. Ngepan Kumang (usually seen at Kumang Gawai competition).

The common fashion trend in Iban’s beautiful ngepan is that its accessories are made with silver, which showcases the wealth & status of its bearer.

During headhunting days, Iban warriors are known for their military might, fearsome warriors, allowing them to explore more Sarawak areas & secure more territories. Their naval military is second to none in Sarawak water region, thus earning them the title “Sea Dayak”. They even stood up against British when they began to colonise Sarawak, with the most famous chief of them all – Rentap, who led fearless Iban warriors to fight against them. It took two White Rajahs to bring him down. His legacy has continued to live on in every Malaysians’ hearts. His battle cry, “Agi Hidup, Agi Ngelaban” (As long as I live, I will fight) still lives on until today as it’s the motto for the Malaysian Royal Ranger Regiment. Iban Trackers, elite soldiers played a key role in Malayan Emergency (Darurat). The late Sergeant Dato’ Awang anak Raweng was awarded a George Cross, the civilian equivalent of Britain’s highest military award, and the late Temenggong Datuk Kanang anak Langkau was awarded the nation’s two highest awards Sri Pahlawan Perkasa (SP) and the Panglima Gagah Berani (PGB), who is also the most decorated war hero of Malaysia. Sir Gerald Templer mentioned “The Ibans are the world’s best jungle trackers I have come across. They served the country admirably and I have much respect for them.”

Iban peoples are the biggest ethnic in Sarawak. Iban peoples are divided into few major groups based on their traditional distribution:

1. Sebuyau Ibans- around Lundu and Samarahan region

2. Remun Ibans – Serian division, including Balai Ringin & Simunjan.

3. Balau Ibans – Simanggang / Sri Aman

4. Saribas Ibans – Betong, Saratok & parts of Sarikei

5. Batang Ai Ibans – Lubok Antu, they are considered original Iban by anthropologist

6. Undup Ibans – Undup area

7. Rajang / Bilak Sedik Ibans – From Sarikei to Miri, Rajang River Sibu, Kapit, Belaga, Kanowit, Song, Sarikei, Bintangor & Miri.

As for their dialects, these are the main ones:

1. Saribas dialect – considered formal / “standard” dialect, taught in school, spoken around Betong and Saratok.

2. Balau, Sebuyau, Ulu Ai, and Rejang dialects, there are some variation but it is intelligible without any problem.

3. Remun dialect – Serian, Balai Ringin & Simunjan area. Iban Remun is different from the other Iban language. It is not surprising to hear them can speak Bidayuh Bukar-Sadong, considered difficult Bidayuh language, since they are living near Bidayuh area.

Note: At major cities such as Miri & Bintulu, there is a mix of Iban peoples due to people’s movement in search of a better life.

Despite their language differences, Iban people will be able to speak Iban with one another using a commonly spoken dialect, which is Iban Rajang. Iban pop-culture is not only enjoyed by Ibans, but also other peoples. Who doesn’t know Bekikis Bulu Betis? Indi duweh taruh… ooo haa.

********(Versi Iban)
Tabi basa semua! Sarawak tanah ti kaya enggau hasil bumi enggau suku bangsa ti kaya ngau pemajik sereta pemanah bangsa sida. Saritu aku diberi peluang beberitaka Bangsa Iban ti diau di Sarawak. Bangsa, salah satu bangsa Dayak ti pemadu besai ba Borneo, enggau pegari ba mata dunia enggau pemanah sereta pemajik bangsa tuk.
Aku selalu tertanya nama reti Iban. Jadi aku nanya bakih aku ianya Gibson anak Entuni, iya madah Iban tuk siti bansa ba Borneo ti bisi cherita sida kediri empu. Meri besai pengaga ati agai Benedict Sandin (1918-1982) laban udah ngaga siti dokumentari enggau manah sereta ulih nyadika rujukan agai generasi kemaya ari. Enggai bula, mayuh cherita enggau jurai ti nyengkaum semua beza (world, raised world & God’s), mayuh cerita ti udah dirungkai ari cherita penduduk Iban ba Keling, rumah panjai Ketua Panggau Libau, enggau cherita ari peturun alam ke siti da.
Kelimpah Keling nyadi siku laki Iban ti rumpas, sigat, kuat berdengah, berani, sereta pintar, lalu bini ia digelar Indu Iban Kumang ti bajik, anggun sereta manah dalam semua pemaik ia nyak nenun ” pua kumbu”, entara salah sitik ke tanda urang Iban. Pua Kumbu ari kain kapas berwarna-warni bercurak tradisional enggau disemak baka utai tuchi. Pua Kumbu dikena raban maya bisi pengerami urang Iban maya nyambut ari pengada, tuai serta pemati. Enda bebasa ke Pua Kumbu, bereti enda bebasa ke urang Iban. Enda semua urang nemu nenun Pua Kumbu tu laban utai tu dilatih enggau likun kelimpah ari teknik tang mega semangat urang seni empu peturun Dewa, Singalang Burong.
Kumang mega siti gelar ti diberi agi siku kumang ti bajik ianya Datin Senorita Linang, siku indu bangsa Iban ti keterubah digelar Kumang Gawai Dayak tiga taun bejurut — 1966, 1967 enggau 1968. Generasi kemaya ari ti ngangkat Malaysia ke mata dunya enggau Miss Universe 2020 ianya Fransisca Luhong, siku dara penatai ari bangsa Iban-Kayan ti berulih gelar Miss Universe tahun 2020.
Baka jaku kitai Iban, “bajik” tauka “lawa” madah ka reti pemajik. Baka munyi jaku urang: Indu Dara Iban tau ngaga Bujang Beranni enda ulih enseput enggau manah, enda kekesapka mata enggau tau buntau malam ari. Reti iyaaa, indu dara iban tau ngasuh urang ke biak tauka bujang meruan ingat ke enda lenyau enda ulih tinduk. “Punggung chengkik baka biola ngasuh runding Bujang nyau mawa” mai reti pemajik sida indu dara Iban ngasuh runding sida ke biak bujang nyau mawa tauka lenyau runding. Mayuh indu dara Iban berempu ke mua ti burak tauka celum mai pengerindu.
Pemajik sida mega ngari ke ati sida ari sebelah Barat lebih agi ari menua kitai Sarawak kala dipegai British sebedau Rajah megai Sarawak ngasuh Sarawak pulai agai kitai. Pemadas sereta pemajik indu Dara Iban mega tau narit ati urang bukai ke ukai bangsa Iban. Utai tu tau dipeda biasa aja agi kitai iban. Sebedau di beri nama indu Dara Iban, anak indu deka diajar bekena perengka Iban. Seda iya deka diajar bala indai tauka bala inik sida ti bisi penemu bekena ka perengka tuk. Indu Dara Iban mega belajar ngetan ke adat lebih agi bala temuai ti datai laban sida deka maik nama apai indai maya sida mantai ke diri di mua bala mayuh. Indu Dara Iban mega bisi penemu ngintu pemakai diri tauka pemakai sida sebilik. Nyadi pemandai sida ngintu pemakai diri enggau bekena ka perengka Iban endang udah nyadi ba sida Indu Dara Iban.
Indu Iban sigi pandai sereta landik enggau di temu lembut budi basa lebih agi ngagai bala apai indai tauka bala temuai. Munyi ko leka lagu Jenarino Jeraki, “Iya… Lelegup” (reti semina mantai tuchum manis).
Maya pengerami besai baka Gawai Dayak, kitai tau meda rintai bala indu Iban nganti penatai temuai sebedau sida tama ke rumah panjai. Dalam adat kitai Iban, bala indu Iban nganti penatai temuai laban deka besadung utai irup baka “tuak'” enggau “langkau”. Sida indu Iban mega nganti sida ke biak bujang mai indu tuk bertanda. Sida ke biak bujang deka nunjuk pemadas sebedau mai indu Iban bertanda. Belakang pemaik enggau lembut budi basa sida ke indu Iban, sida mega bisi nyimpan pemerani enggau akal pikir baka Kumang. Taja Indu Dara Iban tu lembut budi basa, ukai reti kitai tau ngayah sereta medis ke ati indu dara
Pemajik indu iban suah nyadi inspirasi kena ngaga lagu pengerindu baka Flora gaga Jerry Kamit, “Tuchum Lelegup” gaga Jenarino Jeraki tauka lagu-lagu ti nyinuka ati baka “Kumang Seari” & “Sinu” gaga Masterpiece enggau lagu pengarap baka “Ngarapka Nuan Nikal Pulai”. Lagu ti pemadu tampak ba keliling menua ianya “Bekikis bulu betis” digaga siku penanyi Industri Muzik Iban, Andrewson Ngalai, lagu pasal siku laki ti sanggup ngaga macham utai laban deka ngulihka indu nyak lalu naruh idup ya empu ba baris.
Maya upacara minang adat Iban ianya “Melah Pinang”, saut tanya ti paling penting ianya “nuan udah sedia deka nguai?”. Sama baka sida Bidayuh, dalam pemayuh Iban, saut tanya tu siti penanggul ti besai nambahka agi enti nuan sigi diau ba menua ti sebaka. Suba, tu meri reti nuan deka berpindah ngagai rumah panjai urang bukai lalu begulai sama enggau sida sebilik.
Pia mega, mayuh dipeda sida urang Iban enti jadi enggau urang ukai Iban laban ia udah enda berat agi deka nusui siti endur ngagai siti endur. Laban selalu ia melaki bini ti udah melah pinang besilik nyambut gawai enggau sama sebilik laban deka sekunsi ngambika nadai penanggul antara dua belah.
Kelimpah ari nyak, kebuah pengawa melah pinang tok laban deka ngerapitka kaul sama sebilik serta selalu ia deka pegulaika dua rumah panjai. Nuan nyadi pengaruh ti besai ba menua diri empu kena seduai melaki bini.
Lebuh Gawai, semua indu Iban bekena ke pekayan sida ianya Ngepan Indu Iban termasuk bekenaka perengka baka Sugu Tinggi, Tali Mulung, Rawai, Tumpa Bentuk, Buah Pauh, Gerunchung, Sementing Buchai, Lampit, Sementing Ringgit, Selampai enggau Tango.
Laban ke bisi evolusi dalam pisin ngau identiti, bepun ari nya Iban bisi mayuh bengkah curak pekayan. Aku mantai ke bengkah pekayan Iban ba baruh tu:
1. Ngepan Rajang (Tuk siti pekayan ti jarang dipeda kemaya ari tuk. Pekayan khas ari manik-manik ti disebut “Baju Ujan”, enggau penutup kepala ti disebut “Dunjung Marik”2. Ngepan Saratok (Perengka Sugu Tinggi Ensuga dirias enggau kertas warna)3. Ngepan Saribas (enda bekena ka Marik Empang, tang ngayanka bahu sida)4. Ngepan Batang Ai (enda bekena ka Marik Empang)5. Ngepan Skrang (enda bekena ka Marik Empang)6. Ngepan Kumang (suah dipeda maya pekit Kumang Gawai)
Nyadi bangsa ti besai ba Sarawak, ngau penambah dalam generasi, bangsa Iban bisi ditemu dalam bengkah dialek:
1. Dialek Saribas – formal / “standard” dialect, dipelajar ba sekul, mayuh dikena ba Betong enggau Saratok.2. Dialek Balau, Sebuyau, Ulu Ai, Rejang3. Dialek Remun – Serian, Balai Ringin & Simunjan. Iban Remun berbeza enggau jaku bangsa Iban ti bukai. Sida ya ulih bejaku Bidayuh Bukar-Sadong laban ke diau ba kawasan ti semak enggau bangsa Bidayuh
Tajapan sida ngena bangsa ti berlainan, Bangsa Iban ulih bejaku ngau pangan diri ngena bahasa Iban sida kediri empu.
Dikelala buah ari langgu,Dikelala daun ari kayu,Dikelala bangsa ari penyiru,Dikelala bansa ari leka jaku.

Tabi basa everyone! Sarawak adalah merupakan tempat yang cantik dengan orang yang cantik. Pada hari ini, saya ingin bercerita berkenaan suku Iban dari Sarawak. Secara umumnya, Iban adalah sebahagian daripada kumpulan Dayak di Borneo, dan terkenal dengan kecantikkannya.

Saya sering tertanya-tanya, apakah maksud “Iban”. Menurut rakan saya, Gibson anak Entuni, maksud Iban adalah manusia. Seperti suku kaum di Sarawak, Iban juga mempunyai cerita mereka yang tersendiri. Hasil usaha sejarawan Iban, Benedict Sandin (1918-1982), banyak cerita lisan Iban telah didokumenkan agar tidak hilang ditelan zaman. Kebanyakan cerita Iban berkisar tentang Keling, Tuai Rumah Panggau Libau, dunia orang separa-dewa.

Keling adalah idola lelaki Iban, tampan berani, gagah dan pintar. Isteri beliau, Kumang, adalah idola wanita Iban, lemah lembut, cantik dan mahir di dalam serba-serbi termasuk mahir dalam menenun “pua kumbu”. Pua Kumbu adalah kain tradisional orang Iban dan dianggap suci. Ianya digunapakai di dalam kebanyakan adat istiadat Iban dan wajar dihormati. Tidak semua orang boleh menenun pua kumbu kerana ianya melibatkan kemahiran jasmani serta penghayatan secara spiritual.

Kumang juga merupakan gelaran yang diberi kepada ratu cantik Iban. Datin Senorita Linang merupakan wanita Iban pertama yang dinobatkan Kumang Gawai Dayak sebanyak tiga kali berturut-turut, 1966, 1967 & 1968. Kepada generasi muda, mereka lebih mengenali Miss Universe 2020, Francisca Luhong, yang mana beliau adalah berketurunan Iban-Kayan.

Cantik di dalam bahasa Iban adalah “bajik”. Untuk menggambarkan kecantikan gadis Iban, “Indu Dara Iban tau ngaga Bujang Berani enda ulih enseput enggau manah, enda tekesapka mata enggau tau buntau malam ari”. Maksudnya, kecantinkannya menjadikan si teruna makan tak kenyang, mandi tak basah, tidur tak lena. Kebanyakan warna kulit gadis Iban adalah putih ke kuning langsat, dan sesetanganya berkulit hitam manis.

Kecantikan mereka juga menarik minat warga Barat, terutamanya dari England kerana Sarawak adalah menjadi tanah jajahan British selepas dipindah milik oleh Rajah Putih. Tidak hairan juga melihat banyak kahwin campur di masa kini. Dari umur yang muda, wanita Iban diajar untuk berpakaian dan berperilaku sopan terutamanya dihadapan tetamu kerana mereka membawa nama baik keluarga. Memasak adalah merupakan kemahiran asas mereka.

Secara umumnya, wanita Iban adalah bertutur dengan nada yang lembut. Seperti lagu Jenarino Jeraki, mereka tersenyum manis apabila ditanya (semina tuchum lelegup). Semasa hari Gawai, mereka akan berbaris di dalam barisan yang panjang, dan dihadapan “bilik” mereka bagi menyambut tetamu. Ianya merupakan adat Iban untuk menghidang tetamu yang datang dengan air tuak / langkau (air tuak yang disuling). Seperti suku Dayak yang lain, kaum lelaki juga harus menjadi pemimpin dan memulakan langkah pertama. Disebalik kelembutan mereka, mereka juga adalah berani bersuara dan melindungi diri mereka sekiranya perlu.

Kecantikan wanita Iban juga menjadi sumber inspirasi untuk penciptaan lagu seperti lagu Flora oleh Jerry Kamit, Tuchum Lelegup oleh Jenarino Jeraki dan sedih, seperti “Kumang Seari” & “Sinu” oleh Masterpiece dan berpengharapan seperti “Ngarapka Nuan Nikal Pulai”. Yang paling terkenal adalah, Bekikis Bulu Betis oleh Andrewson Ngalai, lagenda muzik Iban, dan ianya adalah lagu berkenaan lelaki yang sanggup melakukan apa sahaja demi mendapatkan gadis idaman.

Semasa upacara pertunangan Iban, “Melah Pinang”, soalan yang paling penting akan ditanya adalah, siapa yang akan “nguai”, yang bermaksud pergi. Sama seperti Bidayuh, untuk generasi yang terdahulu, soalan ini membawa berat tersendiri terutama yang tinggal di kawasan yang agak jauh, walaupun sedaerah. Pada zaman dahulu, ia bermaksd pihak yang ‘nguai’ akan pindah ke rumah panjang pasangan hidupnya. Oleh kerana berlakunya kahwin campur, soalan ini tidak membawa maksud yang berat seperti dulu kerana sekarang adalah lebih mudah untuk berpindah randah. Lebih senang bagi warga Iban yang kahwin orang bukan Dayak kerana mereka hanya perlu ke tempat Iban untuk menyambut Gawai. Bagi sesama Dayak pula, seperti Iban dan Bidayuh, adalah penting bagi mereka untuk menjaga hati kedua-dua belah pihak kerana perkahwinan adalah jambatan yang menghubungkan kedua-dua buah keluarga.

Pada hari Gawai, wanita-wanita Iban akan dihiasi dengan pakaian ngepa merka yang terbaik, dan dihiasi oleh Sugu Tinggi (hiasan kepala), Tali Mulung, Rawai/Rawai Tinggi (korset Iban), Tumpa Bentuk, Buah Pauh (dipegang oleh si cantik termasuk dengan Perecha), Gerunchung (loceng kaki), Sementing Buchai, Lampit, Sementing Ringgit, Selampai & Tango/Marik Empang (hiasan dada).

Evolusi fesyen menyebabkan lain tempat mempunyai lain pakaian dan keunikannya tersendiri. Antara jenis-jenis ngepan yang biasa adalah:

1. Ngepan Rajang (baju manik yang digelar “Baju Ujan”, dengan hiasan kepala bergelar “Dunjung Marik”. Ngepan ini jarang sekali dilihat)

2. Ngepan Saratok (Sugu Tinggi Ensuga dihiasi dengan kertas warna)

3. Ngepan Saribas (menggunakan Rawai Tinggi)

4. Ngepan Batang Ai (Tanpa Marik Empang)

5. Ngepan Skrang (tanpa Marik Empang)

6. Ngepan Kumang (biasanya dilihat pada pertantdingan Kumang Gawai)

Pola pemakaian ngepan melambangkan status si pemakai, kerana aksesori ngepan asli diperbuat daripada perak asli, dan ianya adalah tidak murah. Untuk bagi si gadis yang mempunyai ngepan yang diperturunkan daripada nenek moyang mereka.

Semasa zaman memburu kepala, pahlawan Iban digeruni oleh kekuatan tentera mereka, membolehkan mereka meneroka Sarawak dan melindungi lebih banyak kawasan. Kekuatan maritim mereka tiada tandingan pada masa itu, yang menyebabkan mereka digelar Dayak Laut. Mereka juga bediri melawan penjajah dari British. Tokoh Iban yang terkenal adalah Rentap yang berjuang di kawasan Saribas. Laungan beliau “agi idup, agi ngelaban” (selagi aku hidup, selagi itu aku berjuang”) meupakan slogan yang melambangkan semangat juang suku Iban, dan ianya juga diambil menjadi motto Rejimen Renjer Diraja Malaysia. Iban trackers/Penjejak Iban juga memainkan peranan penting di dalam zaman Darurat Malaya. Mendiang Sarjan Dato’ Awang anak Raweng telah dianugerahkan George Cross, pingat tertinggi untuk rakyat jelata daripada British, dan mendiang Temenggong Datuk Kanang anak Langkau telah dianugerahkan dua pingat tertinggi di Malaysia, iaitu Sri Pahlawan Perkasa (SP) dan Panglima Gagah Berani (PGB), dan merupakan wira perang Malaysia yang mempunyai anugerah terbanyak. Sir Gerald Templer menyifatkan Iban tracker adalah penjejak terbaik dunia yang pernah saya jumpa. Mereka terlah berkhidmat dengan unggul dan saya amat menghormati mereka.

Etnik Iban juga merupakan etnik terbanyak di Sarawak. Mereka boleh dibahagikan kepada kumpulan utama mereka berdasarkan pecahan-pecahan kawasan tradisional mereka:

1. Iban Sebuyau – kawasan Lundu and Samarahan

2. Iban Remun – Serian termasuk Balai Ringin & Simunjan.

3. Iban Balau – Simanggang / Sri Aman

4. Iban Saribas – Betong, Saratok & sebahagian daripada Sarikei

5. Iban Batang Ai – Lubok Antu,

6. Iban Undup – kawasan Undup

7. Iban Rajang / Bilak Sedik – Dari Sarikei ke Miri, Rajang, Sibu, Kapit, Belaga, Kanowit, Song, Sarikei, Bintangor & Miri

Untuk dialek utama mereka:

1. Saribas – dianggap formal / “standard” diajar di sekolah dan penulisan formal, digunapakai di Betong dan Saratok.

2. Balau, Sebuyau, Ulu Ai, and Rejang dialects, terdapat beberapa variasi namun tiada masalah untuk bercakap Iban sesama diri mereka

3. Remun dialect – Serian, Balai Ringin & Simunjan area. Iban Remun berbeza sedikit daripada Iban lain, dan boleh menggunakan bahasa Bidayuh Bukar-Sadong kerena tinggal berdekatan dengan kawasan Bidayuh. Contoh ayat: Tengok: Kalau bahasa Iban lain, “meda”. Iban Remun pula “Ngilau”.

Tiada: Nadai, dalam Remun, “Entai”

Tidak tahu: Enda nemu, dalam Remun, “endau badak”

Nota Penulis: Di bandar-bandar utama seperti Miri, terdapat campuran Iban kerana pergerakan demi mencari kehidupan yang lebih baik.

Walaupun terdapat perbezaan bahasa, orang Iban tiada masalah bertutur dengan orang Iban yang lain, tidak seperti orang Bidayuh yang mempunyai dialek-dialek yang jauh berbeza. Seni muzik Iban juga tidak hanya dinikmati oleh orang Iban, namun masyarakat Sarawak yang lainnya. Siapa tidak tahu lagu Bekikis Bulu Betis? Indi duweh taruh…. Ooo haaa.

Follow me: https://linktr.ee/claudiusweson/
Tukang Rantek,Claudius

Claudius is a Miri-based Boudoir & Portrait Photographer, from Kpg Piching, Serian. “Tukang Rantek” means photographer in Piching dialect.

Special Thanks to these contributors:
1. Veronica Andreana (for the proper Iban translation)
2. Veeky Leonora (veekyleonora.blogspot.com) Kumang Saribas
3. Martin Dinil & Dr Mary Chalang
4. Stevie Sebol, Elyenner M. Mau & Sandine Bennidect – Ngepan Rajang
5. Vivianna Jimbun
6. Divabiz Ambassadorz team: Priscilla Nissie, Michellyn Subang, Saira Natasha, Mariani, Angelyna Luwa
7. Miri Models: Angelia Vanessa, Meyna Sebuang, Agnes Berangan, Minda Ranggong
8. Liza Acham
9. Joana Rochelle
10. Jennifer Munai
11. Eunice & Naddy

Sarawak Beauty: Leto Kenyah (Marylyn Ruran)

Greetings everybody! Today, I’d like to write about a beautiful Kenyah lady from Miri, Marylyn Ruran Tagal. During our previous photoshoot, I took the opportunity to interview her about today’s generation. She is passionate to see today’s generation to arise beyond their capabilities. Growing up in today’s world, teenagers like herself today have adapted to a fast paced, competitive and often frightening world. She’s fully aware the social media rants claiming that the today’s generation are lazy, unmotivated, self-centered, uncaring and cynical and they are heavy influence by social media trends and expectations. Much of the criticism aimed is due to a lack of understanding of the world they live in and this false impression of their worth and identity. Despite the bad reputation and flaws, she’s also fully aware that today’s generation are both intelligent and brilliant and she personally believe that every generation has a unique quality, strength and identity that makes it amazing for its time. She believe by truly understand today’s generation, recognize and encourage them to continue building upon their strength, ability, quality and talent, is one of the beauty and best gifts that we can offer to them. A lady of strong faith, she also hope that she can make a change by spreading the good news from our Creator, one person at a time.

(Kenyah Version)

Iya atek bangen kimet sae’ dalem naat lentung tau naki ngan penco ngelentung, nai bio’ dalem iu pe uban pemuyan usun tana’ naki. De’ manai ukuk baan ya lepa pemalai osa anun ne ngan iu pe uban pemuyan je sangkit, kadu’ peketun ngan kadu’ je’ maan teke’. Balu’ iya tesen keneng tirak je’ ilu naat ke laman sosial naki kadu’ je kuma dau lentung naki leko, enta bangen kimet, pengeluk kimet tengen, nta oba’ ala’ tawai, kimet je ja’at ngan atek kaduk tabin ku’un pengoba’ media sosial ngan iu baan dau isu du. Serepi’ bio’ un tirak ja penading cin korang penisen keneng usun tana’ je eda nyeripa ngan pemuyan ji nak penaat je sala’ keneng lega ngan pengemaren de. Na’ pe meka, iya ngelan ngan tesen keneng mung lentung kuak un penisen ngan kaduk pekenaan de tengen, un pengalu ngan pengemaren je oyan keti eda nai lua’ dalem masa de. Iya ngelan uka ilu atek alak kimet apan ilu ke tesen lentung dalau ji, ngan na’ katuk me eda man de ke penco nedeng pengali, penyukat ngan keremun de, ilu juku’ ke un naat pemuyan-pemuyan je tega eda ke ti. Ja ne si’ peniga ngan perit je atek tega ilu sokat nak mida.

Tukang Rantek,
Claudius

Claudius is a Boudoir & Portrait Photographer from Miri, Sarawak. Follow him on Facebook & Instagram.

“Tukang Rantek” means photographer in Bidayuh Serian.

Sarawak Beauty: Indu Dara Iban Kapit (Veron)

Tabi basa & greeting everybody! Today I’d like to share about Veron, or Umang, her nickname among her family members. We had a photoshoot last week, and during that photoshoot, I interviewed her so that she can rekindle her life’s ambition and from her story, she can inspire other peoples that no matter where you are from, you can achieve success.

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Story of a Sape Maker – Matt Linggi

Dear friends, 

Sarawak is a beautiful land. As the son of the land, I am always proud to tell the others where I came from when I am being asked, which is from Kampung Pichin, Serian. Growing up in the south, surrounded by my fellow Bidayuh clansmen, I am not really exposed to the other peoples in terms of day-to-day interaction during the first 12 years of my life. As I grow older, I met more peoples from all around the world, which is an eye-opening experiences. Currently residing at the northern part of Sarawak, Miri, I have the best opportunity to get to know more about the people of the North, which is the Orang Ulu (literally upriver peoples).

Orang Ulu is the term used by Sarawakians to refer to the ethnically-diverse group in the north, including Kenyah, Kayan, Kelabit, Punan, Penan, Lahanan, Kiput,Kajaman – to name a few. Due to the vast history of these culturally-rich peoples, it deserves its own story in another post. Interestingly, the Kalimantan Indonesians that has the same historical and blood ties with the Sarawak’s Orang Ulu still call themselves Dayak. Dayak, in Bidayuh Biatah/Padawan dialect means “people”.  Orang Ulu is the term popularised by Orang Ulu National Association (OUNA) which was founded in 1969. In Sarawak, Dayak refers to either Land Dayak (Bidayuh) or Sea Dayak (Ibans), which was introduced during James Brooke time, making it easier for them to identify us. However, I have no knowledge of the separation of these Dayaks and Orang Ulu. Perhaps if there is any reader that has the knowledge can share it in comments below.

Anyway, there is one aspect of Orang Ulu that I want to touch today, which is their most famous musical instrument – Sape. Sape is originally three or four stringed instrument and is scaled in a way it is pentatonic, but modern variations has more strings and frets. Among the famous Sape players are the Sape Masters – Matthew Ngau Jau, the Sape master behind Lan E – Jerry Kamit and Kelabit beauty on a mission, Alena Murang.

My journey to find the more about this unique musical instrument leads me to the down-to-earth Sape maker of Miri, Matt Linggi from Iban tribe. He is actually an oil and gas professional, famously known as PLS – project liaison supervisor – at Central Luconia, but during his off-day, he dons his Sape maker outfit and grinds on.

Matt Linggi’s signature trademark
Close-up of Matt Linggi’s personal sape.
Sape and I.

Background:

He liked Sape music since his early childhood when it was played over the radio or cassette player. He have not seen any real sape instrument until he was in his 20s. His first sape was bought from a Kenyah Sape maker and also seasoned sape player, the late Usat Ulai from Tatau, Bintulu. The sape has a beautiful acoustic sound and authentic in design. He owns that sape for a couple of years before he gave it away to someone from Kuala Lumpur.

His inspiration of making sape came after I watched Jerry Kamit’s sape on his video clips album and in Youtube. He was amazed by its modern shape, handy and mobility. Since then he was trying to look for one of those kind but to no avail. He scouted around wherever he saw handicraft shops. He saw few sape but did not find them to be satisfactory to his expectation even though they are well- built Sape, well-designed and has various types of wood selection and range of prices.

His father has experience in crafting sape body for Orang Ulu tribe of Kayan from Belaga when he was young. Despite being experienced in crafting few sape, his father never learnt to install the strings and frets nor attempt to play any song whatsoever.

Entry Into Business:

His official entry into business started one day in early 21st century, sometime in 2005 when he asked his father to make one sape for him. His father did one for him, but then again, its shape and design was not up to his preferences. This sparks something – he was thinking maybe he can make one himself. With his father’s help, they managed to find the wood (Kayu Pulai/Pelaie) and he designed the shape and dimension to his preferences. His father made one and he also made one himself at the same time.

HIs first attempt of making sape was quite an experience for he have never seen and observed the real processes involved. His first Sape, visually is not so bad, acoustically was not impressive as he expected. The body construction was not ideal. Back then, he has no idea of how thick is thick or how thin is thin.

Since then, he is always thinking of making another, and better Sape but the ideas always come to a halt because he is always working abroad in oil and gas industry. When he works abroad, he is donning his coverall and focuses into HSSE aspect, but his heart and soul is always at the land of Hornbill and of course his Sape.

Reigniting the Flame:

In 2008, once again, he finally has a career based in Miri. That was where he began to materialise his dream. This time, he has better ideas after observing few sapes from different makers. His traditional ornament design was still very basic and simple. It is meant for his personal uses. He made Sape out of his hobby but then of few of friends showed strong interest in his Sape and asked him to make one for them. 

That was how he began to make more Sape whenever he is available and has free time to spare.

Way back in 2011, his friend Hezekiah Asim gave him one Sape made by William Balam, a Kelabit guy. The Sape’s shape was so unique and has a fascinating ornament design. Hezekiah asked him if he can make one sape for him with something similar in design. He said He cannot promise but will do the best in his ability. After a year or so he managed to produce one of his own version very much inspired by William Bala’s Sape design.

From then on his Sape design has been transformed from basic and simple to more complicated and fascinating ornament design.

Sape-Making Processes:

The following are the processes involved in making sape, in their sequence, from paper to the finished product.

Comparison between Sape, mini-Sape and an acoustic guitar.

Challenges:

As of now, he personally feel that we need more Sape maker to cope up with demand from the ever-rising players request. This mean not only massive in production but also in term of quality that also has to be ensured. Through the quality of the Sape, it will be the Sape makers’ signature and their ambassador though people may not have met us personally.  

Four-stringed and six-stringed sape.

Sape has evolved as time change. He said we hardly keep up with the pure traditional cultures because we are brought up in different time and place. But we ought to make an effort to preserve the traditional value of this precious instrument by reflecting the place of origin.

According to him, we could have modern version sape which reflect the traditional assents. This is where the new generation need input from the Sape masters or experienced maker/player because believe it or not, a Master’s was once a beginner too. 

Also, due to severe deforestation, searching for the right and suitable wood also pose another concern. 

Future:

Personally, he foresees that Sape will soar further than it already was. There are many young enthusiast that is eager to bring it up to the next level be it in craft design or ways of playing. Just like the performances made by the Alena, or even Nick of Sada Borneo. Beside local peoples, there is also a huge demand from international level for sape instrument. For example, the lute collectors from European regions. There will be no limit to this future because different player might want to have different Sape from different maker just like other instrument, where there is a need to be unique. Unlike others, most, if not all, Sape maker/player that he knew are very generous in sharing ideas and tips. They always compliments each other and should there is any “competition”, it will be a healthy one. In this way, the Sape players community can ensure the growth of Sape music throughout the world.

Ordering:

Should any of you are interested to get Sape of your own, you may do so and contact Matt Linggi via his Facebook . However, due to high demand, one will have to bear a long waiting list, especially if your Sape of request is beautifully decorated.

Alena and her beautiful sape, handcrafted personally by Matt Linggi. (Snapshot from Alena’s Instagram). Follow her IG account to know about her latest updates.
One for the road. Matt Linggi plays a composition before I left.
(Leica M10 & Noctilux – wide-open)

© Claudius Weson Photograpy (2019), unless stated otherwise. Matt Linggi’s personal images are used with his permission.

Claudius Weson is a freelance “tukang rantek” (photographer in Bidayuh) based in Miri, with passion in immortalising memories.