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The origin of this indigenous dance is

been in existence along with the Iba
dance is believed to have been perform
This dance is now performed to cel
called Gawai, to welcome important g

The male dancers wear large feathers

and long shield in their hand with chai
The female dancers have an elaborate
reaches to below their knees with intr
only performed by male dancers but no

The dance is arranged straight lines

leaps and jumps performed by the male

Gongs and other ethnic percussion

bendai, canang and dumbak or ke
may be either male or female.

Ngajat Iban Dance

The Ngajat Dance of The Iban

The ngajat dance originated from the Iban community and has
been passed down from generation to generation. The origin of
this indigenous Iban dance is not clearly known but it is believed
to have been in existence along with the Iban tribe since the
16th Century. The Ngajat dance is believed to have been
performed by warriors on their return from battles. This dance is
now performed to celebrate the most important harvest festival, Gawai Dayak, to welcome important guests to the longhouses and so on.

When performing the dance, the male dancers wear a headgear made from the tail feathers of the hornbill (though nowadays most
likely artificial feather may be used, to save the birds). He holds a long sword in one hand and an ornately decorated shield in the
other. Around his chest are necklaces made of beads and cowrie shells, and he wore a ceremonial cawat, or loincloth.
The dancer make slow movements, as though stalking the enemy. This is interspersed with dramatic prances as though he is leaping
forward to attack. The dance is performed accompanied by the music from tribal musical instruments, usually percussions, including
the enkeromong, bendai, canang and dumbak or ketebong. The musicians may be either male or female.

The female dancers have an elaborate

headdress, chains, beads and a dress that
reaches to below their knees with intricate
weaving. Traditionally this dance was
only performed by male dancers but
not anymore.The dance is arranged
straight lines and in a circle and does
involve dramatic leaps and jumps
performed by the male dancers.
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 womens
form of ngajat consists of soft, graceful
movements with very precise body turns. Each ngajat is accompanied by the taboh or the body.
There are in fact several types of Ngajat dances, among them:

Ngajat Induk

Ngajat bebunoh

Ngajat Lesong

Ngajat Semain

Ngajat Berayah

Ngajat Ngemai antu pala

Ngajat lesong is performed with a heavy mortar which the warrior dancer holds in his teeth. This dance can be seen performed at the
Sarawak Cultural Village. The lesong can weigh as much as 20 kg.

IBAN Iban community is a majority in Sarawak. There are various ethnic groups in Iban community such as Balau, Sebuyau, Lemanak and others. Iban
community still holds a strong identity tradition in addition to practice various types of unique customs. In term of geographical, most people Iban inhabit some
remote areas focused in the middle of Sarawak and some small group live in small urban areas. Marriage in the Iban community quite unique because there are
some rules before a couple is eligible to become husband and wife. In the Iban community, groom need to exceed age twenty-two years. This is because in that
age, the men are prepared to get married. For the girl, there is no specific age set. A perfect marriage for Iban community is in compliance with the requirements
of customary marriages. Parties in violation of any customary marriage are required to pay a fine to avoid a married couple calamity. Finding pairs depending on
the situation at home, if the family is large, their children will be slower getting married. Instead, when a family member at home is small, their children will as
soon as possible getting married with the hope of family in-law can help family to do certain work. There are several specific stages in the Iban marriage, which
are merisik, propose, engaged, wedding and after wedding. Merisik: In the Iban community, marriage is usually determined by the groom. If a single man has

consented to a girl, her parents or representatives will visit girls home for merisik. Meetings of both parties also known asberbunga-bunga or berjarum-jarum. At
that time the conditions of marriage will be determined including gift and many others. The men-side family will send entourage to propose girls if the meeting
result was encouraging. Propose and engaged: The male entourage is usually not less than five and most twenty people consisting of old people. At that time the
conditions will be determined including gift or dowry and others. After reaching consensus, the father of the man removes lapit or silver belt or silver sword as a
sign of engagement. Then both parties will discuss the date and day of marriage. Thence, the girl can no longer receive single-man visits except her fianc.Two
or three days later, the male representatives will inform the engagement news to relatives and neighbors. Wedding Ceremony: Various wedding preparations will
be made for the weddings that will arrive.The men-side family will provide expenditure and goods that must be given to family woman. Family women also
make various preparations, including hunting animals for slaughtered on the day of marriage. To invite guests, both parties to appoint their representatives to
manage wedding invitations. The representatives take a few strands of rope with knot that shows
how many days left the marriage will be held. If the rope has a five knot, which means the
marriage will be held within five days. Special representative will leave the rope with knot to the
host or head of the house that is responsible for opening the knot rope every day. On the day of
marriage, men entourage usually marched to the bride house by riding boat decorated clothpua
kumbu if the bride through the river. If not, the groom will walk by road. Along the way, the
entourage dressed in attractive will hit the gong. Once reach in the front of the bride house, cannon
fire will be released. Then they are taking bath together in the river before wearing traditional
clothing. Arriving at the long-house ladder, head of groom entourage asked to slaughter a pig in
honor and at that time also will be heard guns firing in response-reward. On head of the stair, there
are frame shaped like the city. Head of groom entourage had to open the first three cities, which are
on the head of stairs, in the middle of the house and at the end of the house. After that, the men
entourage among the group of women will enter the bride's room. By tradition only female guests
can enter the brides room by using rhythmic language to open door room crossed with a spear and
closed by pua kumbu. Guests will be treated further with a wine that is tuakand various types of
water such as air haus, air dahaga and air untung. As such they will be exposed to joke and together they are singing and beatinggendang. They also will go
around three times at the house. After that drinking water will be sent to each guest and it is called air penyuci. If the marriage took place during the day, after
lunch, then both sides will discuss about their family tree. If the marriage held at night, the discussion is done after midnight. They will discuss, and the oldest
will explain the relationship between the bride and the groom which has family relationships. Before the discussion held, the host once again serves liquor called
air perangsang to the guests. Once they know the family relationship, a fine will be imposed on them. After that brides parents ask the gift. There are gift values
that have been prescribed among the Iban community. The women family also requested payment of the breaking ladder which is sebilah beliung, opening doors
payment which is a spear, opening net payment which is a sword and other small gift. The men were asked cleaner legs, a jar, a pair of place to hang gongs,
kajang boat that a piece of cloth pua kumbuand some small gift. After explaining all gift, they set out the conditions relating to gift in the event of divorce.
Demand will be lost after the occurrence of divorce is not clear.If the divorce is caused by man, the husband must pay back gift received first and the additional
RM50 as fine. In case of attempt to denigrate any of the parties, the parties who are responsible will be charged another fine. After that the cutting Pinang ritual
will be carried out. A woman will bring out betel slap and then cut the Pinang. Pinang fraction will determine the time the bride must stay at husbands
house.Then a le mambang orbomoh will hold a ceremony to make child sleep and the surprise that child with a some verses pantun. Then Pinang will be
distributed to guests and given breakfast. The ceremony is considered ended to carry out the custom if there is no custom error done by both parties. If the
ceremony is already considered ended, the bride and the groom will bath in the river to clean themselves. It is also customary for them to hold a piece of seven

yards cloth so that the offense during the marriage will be lost on each individual. After bathing, they slaughtered a pig as a sacrifice and also as a redeemer of
sin. Once they clean themselves, bridal couple will wear their own cloth to go to the grooms house. Along the way, the groups need to look happy because all
mistakes have been eliminated. Next lively celebration was held at grooms house. At night, the bridal couple will accompany by the clamp respectively and will
sit together above gong or a seat with woven fabric. This tradition can also be equated with sit in state of bride and groom at marriage ceremony among the
Malay community. Partners will be witnessed by the audience at long house. Next person who called tukang ganyang will start ceremony. Chicken with the
bounded legs is released and mentera read. Chicken was slaughtered, and the blood is taken for the bridal couple. This custom will ends with a banquet food and
drink. After the ceremony held at the grooms house, again the ceremony held at the bride's house.Although they have been valid as a married couple, they
cannot sleep together. Husband is still sleeping in the guest room. Any sounds that are heard throughout there will have its own purpose, whether good or
otherwise. There are couples who had separated temporarily because they got bad mark. prepartion for wedding warrior dance during wedding ceremony the
lovely bridal couple




Marik Empang and Kain Kebat

The Iban traditional costume for women is marik

empang and kain kebat. Marik empang is a
combination of beads and hand-stitched cotton
decorative outer garment. It is usually red in colour.
Iban women require to wear marik empang at any
occasion or festival. The ngajat or the traditional Iban dance performed by an Iban women must wear the marik empang as part of
the outer garment adorning her shoulder. Kain kebat, which is a cloth patterned by the ikat (tie) technique. Normally, the kain kebat is
decorated with colorful stripes pattern design. It is made of cotton as well. This kain kebat is narrow and its length is only about until
knee. The Iban women wear the dress consisting of kain kebat, marik empang which is a chest adornment, the sugu tinggi headdress
and other silver ornaments such as coin belt and bangles.

Kelambi and Sirat

The traditional garment of Iban men is called kelambi and sirat.

There are two types of kelambi which is sleeved and sleeveless.
Kelambi worn by men Iban during certain ceremonies. Cutting of
kelambi is very simple which consists of a rectangular piece of cloth folded double.

The loincloth is a garment of great antiquity, is now distinctively ignored among modern Ibans. Barkcloth is the original material for
loincloths. The way to tying a "sirat" is take a strip of material about 10 inches wide and 10 to 12 feet long, the end of the cloth is
decorated with beautiful embroidery or weaving. Men's traditional Iban costumes wear sirat with a very long loincloth around the
waist and between the two stocks, one end through the legs hanging in front which is dress like a apron and the other end around the
waist. There should be a little tail (iko sirat in Iban) in the back. The loincloth worn in this way is quite secure and will not fall off.
Furthermore, they also wear accessories such as a belt, armlet and anklet made from silver and a headgear decorated with hornbill

Traditional Iban food

The Iban 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. Its 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 its
impossible to have using other methods such as using
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.

Forest ferns have a special place in the diet of the

people, with the two most popular ferns used as
vegetables being midin and the fiddlehead fern (pucuk
paku). Midin 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 ferns 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 flavour food.

One of the best known Iban dishes is pansoh manok (ayam pansuh), which features chicken and lemongrass cooked in a bamboo log
over an open fire. This natural way of cooking seals in the flavours 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 states 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.

Religion, Culture and Festivals & Dance

The Ibans were traditionally animist, although the
majority are now Christian, some of them are Muslim
and many continue to observe both Christian and
traditional ceremonies, particularly during marriages or

Significant festivals include the rice harvesting festival Gawai Dayak, the main festival for the Ibans. Other festivals include the bird
festival Gawai Burong 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 tabohand 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, gingerand corn.
The Gawai Burong (the bird festival) is held in honour of the War God, Singalang Burong. The name Singalang Burong literally
means 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.
For the majority of Ibans who are Christians, some Chrisitian festivals such as Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, and other Christian
festivals are also celebrated. Most Ibans are devout Christians and follow the Christian faith strictly.
Despite the difference in faiths, Ibans of different faiths do help each other during Gawais and Christmas. Differences in faith is never
a problem in the Iban community. The Ibans believe in helping and having fun together.


Iban music is percussionoriented. The Iban have a

musical heritage consisting of
various types of angung
ensembles composed of large
hanging, suspended or held,
bossed/ knob bed Gong 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
Xylophone tawak (the so-called bass), a bendai which acts as a Snare drum and also a set of ketebunga single sided
The Iban as well as the Kayan also play an instrument resembling the flute called Sapek. The Sapek is the official musical
instrument for the Malaysian state of Sarawak. It is played similarly to the way rock guitarists play Guitar solor, albeit a little slower,
but not as slow as <a Blues. One example of Iban tradisional music is thetaboh.
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 womens form of ngajat consists of
soft, graceful movements with very precise body turns. Each ngajat is accompanied by the taboh or the body.

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