Sunday, 20 July 2008

Early Iban Migration 1

All articles below are from Gregory N mawar blog site,a big credit to him to compile the history and story related to Early Iban Migration to sarawak.

The articles produced here is divided into 4 parts series which narrate the Origin and migrational pattern of the Iban people of Borneo. From the mythic days of Chief Bejie, the arrival of the Gods Sengalang Burong and his family; the Orang Panggau and the Orang Gelong; the holy spirits (Demons or Antu Gerasi) from their spirit world; the arrival of Pateh Ambau (a nobleman from Minangkabau); they all had brought about the development of the unique (often brutal) religious and cultural heritage of the Iban people. Pateh Ambau have brought the development of vocabulary, literary and oratory skill of the Minangkabau people to the Iban people, as there are alot of similarity of vocabulary used by these two races. The Iban also adopted the council of elders system of the Minangkabau for major decision making body in the Iban society in addition to adoption of titles like “Pateh” and “Temenggong”.
All content here have been extracted or directly copied from earlier published research by Professor Clifford Sather and Late Benedict Sandin. The main purpose is to preserve data as much as possibe for academic references used by the students of Iban studies at various institution of higher learning. The scarcity of the publication source for these articles have prompted me print them into my weblog.
Yours Sincerely,

Gregory N. MawarUchu Sengalang Burong

Early Iban Migration History - Part 1

Myth and History - Early Migrations and the Origins of Iban Culture
In ancient times, when the island of Borneo was still only sparsely inhabited, those who dwelled there lived in fear of many kinds of demons, dwarfs and spirits. These beings might either look after men or else punish them with death if they broke taboos.
As spirits (antu) were everywhere, men had to be very careful in what they said and did. They could not speak arrogantly when they fished the river or hunted the forests. If they did so, boasting that they could easily obtained fish or game, their efforts would come to nothing. Similarly, an individual was strictly forbidden to mock other living things; if he did so, the spirit would destroy him with kudi, a violent supernatural storm in which a culprit and all his belongings were turned to stone (batu kudi). Houses and human beings believed to have been petrified in the past can still be seen in many places in Sarawak.
Migration from Kapuas River mouth upriver: Where the Ibans meet the Arab Traders.
In these very early times, because of the presence of spirits all around them, settlers in Borneo frequently discussed the nature and dwelling place of the gods and spirits, to find the best way to worship and pay respect to them. The Muslim missionaries had already started to arrive to trade and spread their Islamic teachings to this part of the country. They had already established their foothold in the islands of Sumatra and Java and gradually weakened the Hindu Majapahit Empire. It was at about this time, at a place called Ketapang in Northwest Kalimantan, there lived a very famous Iban ancestor named Bejie. The Muslim missionaries had frequently spoken of the almighty god named Allah whose abode is high in the sky. The people began to believe that this god is living above all other deities of this world.

On hearing this, Bejie thought of an idea to visit the almighty Allah in the sky to ask god personally about the best way for his people to worship and pay respect to god. He called for a large meeting of his people to discuss the construction of a stairway, on the tallest enchepong tree in the country, to reach heaven. They all agreed to his proposal hoping that they could reach god’s house in heaven.
The ladder was constructed from ironwood (belian) trunk. The base of the ladder was planted at the base of the enchepong tree branches to reach the next branch. Eventually, after some years, the top of the ladder stood above the cloud. As Bejie and his men, all dressed up to visit almighty Allah in the sky, made a final climb to heaven. As they proceed up the ladder, the enchepong tree unfortunately gave way due to the sheer weight of the ironwood ladder. Its root had been rotten and eaten away by termites throughout the construction period. As the ladder collapsed, Bejie and his followers fell headlong to the earth. The ladders landed on various rivers throughout the west-central Borneo. Any ironwood trunk which may be found inside many rivers, are known as “Tangga Bejie”, and it is a taboo to use it to construct any part of the longhouse as it would bring bad omen to the house owner.
Before the construction of the ladder, Bejie had assigned his brother named Bada to lead his people. Bejie had also begot a son named Nisi whose praised name was “Bunga besi enda semaia makai tulang”. Nisi begot a son named Antu Berembayan Bulu Niti Berang who was the father of Telichu, Telichai and Ragam. Ragam was the mother of Manang Jarai (or Manang Tuai – the first Iban shaman).

After the death of Bejie, their people moved to Kayung. There were other Iban along the coast at the time, especially at Trusan Tanjong Bakong and in general around the mouth of Kapuas River. After Bejie’s descendant had settled there for quite sometime, Arab traders arrived in large sailing ship from Jeddah. They do barter trade with the Ibans exchanging clothes and spices for rice and jungle products. This was the first time the Iban had ever seen woven clothes. Before then, they had only lion clothes and skirts made from barks of trees.

As more Arab traders and Muslim missionary came to trade with the Ibans, many Ibans were converted to this new faith. Soon, divisions began to appear among the Iban leaders between those who adopted the Muslim faith and those who still followed traditional beliefs. Those who chose to follow traditional ways of life began to separate themselves and moved up river in large number. Those who were prepared to accept Islamic teachings, stayed at Kayung. They began to call themselves the Malay of Pontianak, Sampit, Kayung, Sukadana and Sambas. In time, they began to marry new Malays who had come to trade in Kalimantan, especially the traders from Minangkabau in Sumatra.

Due to the tolerances of the Iban people, no reported incidents were recorded in their songs with regards to this manner of separation or with Muslims in particular. This tolerance has been the major factor that contributes to the prosperity and harmony of the Iban people living together with other people of different races and religions to this present day. Infact, the Ibans thrive well under this circumstance because they are hardworking people, a tribute found in the pioneering spirits of their ancestors. Only those who were crazy for power and wealth brought major conflict to this country, not the tolerant and resilient Ibans.

The Ibans then moved further up the Kayung until they reached a place called Ulu Landak. After settling there for sometimes, some of them migrated up the Melawi River. After settling along the banks of Melawi River for three generations, their leaders, Raja Ningkan, Sagan-Agan, Bedali and Jugah called for a large meeting to discuss further migrations. They agreed to migrate and separate from their relatives, and they built many large boats with the help of those who wished to remain behind. It is also to be noted that all the material wealth or properties that the Iban people value today is the same as that which was valued by the people of Malawi in the past, especially the old Chinese jars and brasswares.

From Melawi, they separated and moved to the Sintang River where the passed a large areas of farmland. They looked for the owner of the farmland and were told that the farmland owner had moved to Pontianak and that they could farm there that year only as the informer could not guarantee that the owner would not return to reclaim the land. They started to plant padi that year and had a bountiful harvest. After the harvest, they left the area to live at the mouth of Sintang River for one year.

From Nanga Sintang, the Iban went up the Kapuas where they meet other people. They found that not many people had settled along the right bank of the Kapuas River, as majority of them preferred to live along the more fertile land of the left bank. From the main Kapuas River, they went up the Sakayam tributary. From the mouth of this river, all lands on both banks are owned by the Mualang Dayaks. It took them two full days to reach the first Mualang Dayak Longhouse from its mouth. They stayed only a few nights in the Mualang Dayak Longhouse.
In their conversation with the Mualangs, Jugah and Bedali told the Mualangs the story of their movements since they left the Kayung settlement. They told the Mualangs that they had separated from their relatives who had been converted to Muslims by the Arab missionaries . They told them that they had lived in the Melawi and had migrated down the Sintang River to look for new lands in which to settle. They asked the Mualangs whether they might give them land to live on. The Mualangs told them that although there was still a lot of virgin forest on both banks of the Sakayam, as the Iban had seen, all the land belongs along both banks had been claimed by them from its mouth up to the settlement they had reached.

The Mualang further told the Iban that all the lands above their settlement belonged to the Chengkang Dayaks, and then further up to Balai Kerangan, the land belonged to the Sebaru Dayaks. All land beyond that belonged to the Remun Dayaks.
The Iban told the Mualang that they did not want to migrate further and wished to settle alongside the Mualang there. The Mualang agree only if the Iban agreed to live in the same longhouse with them. The Iban finally agreed to live in the same longhouse with the Mualang. They lived many years with them, and a great number of them intermarried, becoming Mualang.

After the Iban had greatly multiplied; they separated from the Mualang and moved to the Sanggau River. Here they lived much closed to the Bugau Dayaks. After some years of staying there, the moved to Semitau under their chiefs, Raja Ningkan, Jenua, Jugah, Rawing, Jimbun, Sagan-Agan and Jengkuan. All these chiefs were brave men. Due to their bravery and aggressiveness, all other Dayaks were afraid of them.

The Story of Chief Jimbun and the Spirit Crocodile:

One day while the Iban were settled at Semitau under the leadership of various chiefs, a chief named Jimbun visited the abode of the crocodile spirits which prey on human, just as the man from Sungkong had visited the abode of the spirit tigers related later in this article. Chief Jimbun was making knife in a hut near the bank of the Kapuas River. While he was doing this, his daughter went to the river to bathe where she was suddenly caught by a crocodile. Hearing a loud splash in the river, Jimbun stood up and look out toward the river where he saw his daughter’s leg appeared on the surface while her body was beneath the surface of the water. Sensing the danger his daughter was in, he immediately jumped into the river and followed the crocodile as far as a place called Tubai Raong pool. There the crocodile had carried the girl into a huge river pocket under an over-hanging bank. This river pocket was a well known abode of crocodiles. Being a very brave man, Jimbun dived deep into the river pocket. There he found to his surprise that he had arrived at a large longhouse. As he walked along its inner passageway, he saw an old man reclining near a hearth to warm himself. This old man was herd grumbling, “It is you who are guilty. You have caught a daughter of a man. Due to your sin, if a man chooses to take revenge on you, you will be justly killed by him”. As Jimbun came nearer, he asked the old man what he had been grumbling about.

“Don’t you hear the noise in that room?” the old man asked. “It is the noise of the people who are eating the daughter of a man whom one of them had caught while she was bathing in the river.”
Jimbun told the old man that it was his daughter who had been caught by a crocodile. He asked whether he could kill a guilty person, who had killed his innocent daughter.

“Don’t do that now as there are too many people in the room. You may kill only those who are guilty, but not the others.” He advised Jimbun to poison the slayer of his daughter with the poisonous bark of a tree which Jimbun must collect at Bukit Bulan, opposite the crocodile longhouse. He directed Jimbun to place several pieces of this bark on the door of the house that night in order to poison the slayer of his daughter as well as those who had taken part in consuming the girl’s flesh.
Jimbun then went out to the Bulan Hill to collect the bark as instructed by the old man. After bringing it back, he hid himself in the bushes outside the longhouse.

Late in the evening, after the people in the longhouse had gone to sleep, Jimbun took the poisonous bark and placed it at the door of the slayer’s apartment. He also placed the bark elsewhere in the house, so that it would be touched by other people who were actually crocodiles. As soon as he had done this, he hid himself again. From his hiding place he heard the growls and cries of many people dying by poison. In the morning, there was a deathly silence in the longhouse. Jimbun went in and saw many bodies lying dead all over the longhouse. After he was satisfied with the result of his revenge, he met the old man, who was still alive. The old man sent him to the road junction which would lead Jimbun back to his own house at Semitau Tuai.
Shortly after he had left the old man, all of a sudden Jimbun found himself miraculously standing on the bank above the bathing place of his longhouse people. His fellow men saw him there and they were very happy for his safe return.

Soon after Jimbun’s return, the chiefs named Sera Gindik and Empangai called for a grand conference to plan for a new migration from Semitau to the Batang Ai region in Sarawak border. All those who attended the conference agreed to the migration plan. The Iban living at Semitau then made preparations to move to the Ketungau region, a true right tributary of the Kapuas. It will be from Ketungau region that they will send scouts to the Batang Ai to survey the suitable land for farming. The scouts returned to inform them that there are plenty of land for farming as well as the abundance of fish in the rivers and plenty of game in the forest.

On hearing these reports, the Iban were very pleased. The wasted no more time at the Ketungau region and migrate quickly to this new country. Before their separations, they agreed not to become disunited to avoid being beaten by other tribes like the Bukitans, Seru, Ukit, Kantu and other tribes they encounter in their migration journey.
From the Kapuas, the Iban ascended the Ketungau River to a place called Bila Dua. Here they intended to settle for a time at Tapang Peraja. As they were about to land their boat at Bila Dua, they heard the call of an omen bird, Bejampong (crested jay), from the right hand bank of the river. On hearing this, a council of chiefs was held and it was declared that they should stay there in temporary huts for seven days to honour the call of the omen bird, Bejampong. Afterwards, a second meeting was held to discuss the implications the Bejampong augury. In this meeting, Chief Sagan-Agan assured them that they should not leave that place until they have stayed there for three farming years.

The Story of Telichu:

Telichu and his younger brother Telichai loves to hunt animals for food. They owned a number of dogs they trained for hunting down animals. They were soon became expert hunters and spent many days in the jungle away from the comfort of their longhouse. They do not need to plant rice as they could barter trade their smoked or fresh meat for rice grains with their fellow people.
As the brothers grew into adulthood, Telichu physical appearance became noticeably very strange from that of his brother Telichai. His body had grown to be very hairy and as big as the trunk of a Tapang tree when they hunt in the jungle alone. His eyes were as big as saucers with ears as big as a winnowing basket. His height was as tall as the sibau raras tree. He also began to consume raw meat from the game he caught. Telichai became very frightened as the result of his brother’s strange transformation. It was only when they arrived home from their hunt that Telichu’s appearance began to transformed back to normal again. As time went by, Telichai began to feel the fear of going out hunting with his brother. All these fear were not told to his immediate family and their people. During the night of the full moon or thunderstorm, Telichu became restless and would go out hunting alone.
One full moon night, Telichai decided to follow Telichu on a hunting trip. Before they left, Telichu instructed Telichai to tie a yellow band around his wrist. Telichai asked him the purpose, to which Telichu replied, “With the yellow arm band, I can recognize you from other animals.” Telichai dared not asked any further.
When they left their house and entered the forest, Telichu’s appearance began to change into a hairy demon. They both separated to hunt after agreeing to meet at their base camp after they have caught their game. Telichai caught a wild boar and brought it back to their camp. There, he heard his brother Telichu was already there with his game, sitting in the shadow of full moonlight. Telichai then light up the camp fire to process his kill. It was then that he saw his brother sitting quietly, eating a freshly killed game he had caught. He had fully transformed into a demon huntsman, most feared by the Dayak.
Telichai nervously asked his brother the cause of his strange appearance. He answered that he had turned into an Antu Gerasi, a type of demon that hunts the unfortunate souls of human beings who disobeyed the warnings revealed to them in dreams and omens. He also told them that he could no longer live with them. He also taught Telichai how to protect themselves from these demon huntsmen by burning the bark of a lukai tree during the night of full moon and during thunderstorm. It is during these nights that the demon would come out to roam the earth and feed on souls of the unfortunate human.
Before they went their separate ways, they divide their hunting dogs equally. Those that followed Telichu into the demons’ world turned into a type of lizard called Pasun. The Ibans believed that, if they hear this Pasun lizard nearby, a demon huntsman is not far away and they should quickly abandon their work activity and return home to burn lukai bark. It was because of this incident that the Iban people believe that the present day Antu Gerasi is the descendants of Telichu.
After losing his brother, Telichai married to Endu Dara Sia Bunsu Kamba, the inheritor of a Tajau Rusa Jar. She came from a marshy country full of maram palms. They begot Si Gundi, Berenai Sugi, Lalak Pala, Kurong Mayang and Retak Dai. Si Gundi also known as Gila Gundi, migrated to his wife’s family at Panggau Libau and begot a son named Keling who became the greatest hero of the Panggau Libau and the most legendary hero to the Iban people. Retak Dai married to Kelitak Darah Menyadi, a sister of Lemambang Sampang Gading, and begot a son named Serapoh, under whom the Iban cultural heritage developed further.

Serapoh learn the correct rules of mourning:

It was while they settled at Bila Dua that a chief named Serapoh started a war with the Kantu tribe. Serapoh, as mentioned earlier was the son of Retak Dai and Kelitak Darah Menyadi. Retak Dai was a direct descendant of Bejie through Telichai, whose story was mentioned earlier. Serapoh was also a first cousin of Keling, whose father, Si Gundi or Gila Gundi married, settled and eventually became leader of the Panggau People.
The war with Kantu tribe came in the following manner. At the death of his parents, Serapoh buried them in their burial ground. Misfortune soon followed, for shortly after the burial many more deaths took place in the longhouse. During this period, a stranger from an unknown country arrived at their longhouse and asked them why they looked so sad and discontented. They told the stranger that it was because of so many deaths, which caused them much despair. The stranger then asked them how they paid respect to the bodies of their dead when they buried them. They told him the things that they had done and the rules they had followed.
“It is not surprising that many of you have died, as you have no proper rules to observe mourning and burying the dead.” the stranger told them.
He said that he was a spirit named Apai Puntang Raga, and he advised them of the proper way to pay respect to the dead and the rules which they should follow in future in connection with burial and mourning. These rules, attributed to Apai Puntang Raga, are as follows:
1. Immediately after death, the corpse must be properly washed and dressed in its best dress. After this its forehead is marked with three yellow spot of turmeric, and finally the corpse is moved to the gallery (ruai), where it is placed inside an enclosure of woven blanket called “sapat”.
2. On the next day, before the funeral takes place, food must be offered to the coffin before it is placed inside a coffin. At the cemetery, the coffin must be buried deep underneath the earth.
3. When people return from the burial ground, the windows in the deceased’s room must be kept close particularly at night; for it is said that while it is dark in this world, it is light in the after world and vice versa. At the same time, a sacred mourning jar is tied up by a senior lady of the longhouse, selected for this purpose.
4. That same evening, a ritual fire must be lit in a special hut where food is placed for each of three evenings. The reason for this is fear that the dead person might stray up to the longhouse and disturb the souls of the living.
5. For the same three days, an old woman will be appointed to eat black rice (asi chelum), for black rice in this world is white in the other world (sebayan).
6. The sacred mourning jar is not to be opened except by a warrior who has managed to obtain a head; or by any man who can present a human head which he obtained in a duel; or by a man who has returned from a sojourn in enemy country.
7. After the mourning period expires, a special feast known as the Gawai Rugan or Gawai Antu must be held as the last ritual for the dead.
8. During the whole period of mourning right up to the Gawai Antu festival, no widow or widower may remarry or anoint themselves with perfumes and colored powder, or dressed themselves with colored garments. If such things happen, the offender will be brought before their respective chief and fined of being disrespectful to the relatives of the deceased.
Having thus advised them, Apai Puntang Raga vanished, and Serapoh began to observe the burial procedures and mourning rules as instructed by the spirit Apai Puntang Raga. He also began to worry about obtaining a human head so that they can perform the ritual to end the mourning period. With that in mind, Serapoh decided to go to other Dayak country in the region. He took with him a menaga jar in order to stake a wager with any man who might wish to engage him in a death combat for it. The search for challenger was fruitless as there was no one who would accept his menaga jar and the challenge. In those days, there were no enmity between the Iban people and the other Dayak tribes he visited.
Finally, Serapoh reached a certain country belonging to the Kantu tribe, where he met a man and his son. He enquired from the father whether he would be willing to exchange his son for the jar. To this suggestion the man blindly agreed, and Serapoh happily returned to his country with the young boy on his back.
On his arrival, while still some distance from his longhouse, Serapoh killed the boy. After burying the body in the forest, Serapoh went up the ladder of the longhouse and shouted victoriously, while holding the boy’s head on one hand and pointing his sword skyward with the other hand. The longhouse resident woke up to rejoice the opening of mourning jar and to mark the end of mourning period. There was no more despair due to death caused sickness or supernatural calamity or disaster. Very soon, unknown to Serapoh, he was to suffer from the fate of losing his three sons in a war he already waged with the Kantu tribe.

Dayak War with Kantu Tribe:

When the Kantu people heard of what Serapoh did to a Kantu boy he had adopted in exchange for a valuable menaga jar, they got very agitated by the act and at once gathered themselves to form a troop to invade the Iban country and take their revenge on Serapoh. At this time, the Iban were in the middle of their farming season and Serapoh farm had been badly damaged by wild boar. He ordered his three sons, Chundau, Sampaok and Bada to go out to the farm to assess the damage. At first all his sons refused to go out to the farm and told their father that they had bad dreams the previous night. Their father was adamant to their excuses and ordered them to their farm at once. His three sons did as their father had instructed and proceed to the family farm. While they were inspecting the padi field along the edge of the farm, the Kantu warriors who had laid an ambush fell upon them and none escape.
When the brothers did not return for midday lunch, his father sent her daughter named Remi to take food to her brothers. As she came to the edge of the farm, she called for them, but no one answered. She went to the top of the hill and found the corpse of one lying headless. She ran on down the hill and midway, she found another corpse lying headless. From there she ran down to the bottom of the valley and found the last one lying headless. She then went home in terror to tell her father of the tragedy. The longhouse resident then sounded an alarm by beating brass gongs to warn the other longhouse member who were working in their respective farm of the intruders. When they have all returned home, Serapoh organized a search party to bring his three dead sons back and to track where the intruders had came from. Once they knew that the intruders had come from a Kantu territory, they returned home to organize a funeral for the three slain brothers.
During the funeral that evening, Remi took a nyabor sword and climbed to the roof of their longhouse. In her sorrow, she sat there and wailed out calling for her brothers as follows:
“Oh! Indeed it is sad that my elder brother Chundau was killed and is lost; he will no doubt turn into a great nabau snake, whose back is piebald!”
“Oh! Indeed it is sad that my elder brother Sempaok was killed, whose legs had sunk in the mud; he will no doubt take the form of a gibbon (empliau arang)!”
“Oh! Indeed it is sad that my brother Bada was killed, he will soon become a crocodile which opens its wide mouth!”
That night when everyone was quiet and asleep, a man came quietly to Remi’s bed and woke her. In surprise, Remi asked who the stranger was. She felt that his hair was as sharp as the quill of a porcupine; his nails were as sharp as knives, and his legs were as strong as a weaver’s beam. The stranger told her that his name is Damu (“hairy in the nostril”), and that his nickname was Rukok (“cobweb in the hollow of a bamboo”), a spirit that inhibits the sugar cane plant, whose smell is that of sinang. “I am Bujang, a great leader on the war path. I am also called Bujang Bula who carries his belongings in a basong basket; also known as mischievous bachelor who often goes first at the head of warriors. I came here because I heard you crying inconsolably late in the night.” (Damu ke bebulu idong nensang ka lubang, Rukok ke bejulok apok papong tengkiong, nempuah bau sinang, Bujang pasak jalu, pematak bala nyerang)
In her soft, gentle voice, Remi replied, “I am bound to weep sorrowfully, since I am now left helpless after the death of my three brothers who were killed in a raid by the Kantu people.”
“Oh! You need not worry about it,” said Rukok. “I am here in order to marry you, if you will consent.”
“How can I marry you when I am in sorrow,” replied Remi.
After a long conversation, Remi told the man that if he wished to marry her, he must seek permission from her father. Rukok then went outside to the gallery (ruai) where he waited for the aged Serapoh to come out from his room. In the early dawn, Serapoh came out and lit a fire at his fireplace on the gallery to warm himself. Rukok moved over and sat close to the old man, who immediately asked him who he was and the purpose of his visit. Rukok told him that he had came to ask permission to marry his daughter Remi. This request surprised Serapoh very much.
He immediately related to Rukok his sorrow after the death of his three sons. “If you are willing to pay me an honorable bride-wealth, then I will consent to your marriage with my daughter,” Serapoh said.
Rukok then asked Serapoh what should be an honorable bride-wealth for the marriage. Serapoh then said that he would give his consent to the marriage after he had collected as many Kantu head as possible. Hearing this, Rukok told Serapoh not to worry, as he is obliged to fulfill his wishes.
A few days later, Rukok set out with his brother-in-law named Sampar, the only surviving brother of Remi, and a few selected warriors to attack the Kantu people. Under Rukok leadership, the Iban successfully defeated the Kantu tribe and looted their country. The enemy heads were presented to Serapoh and with it the ritual to end the mourning period for his sons were performed and thereafter, Rukok and Remi’s marriage were solemnized.
After a very successful first raid, Rukok led three more major raids to other Kantu longhouses. Besides these wars, he also led numerous kayau anak, or smaller scale raids, against other tribe who allied themselves to the Kantu people. The Kantu, as well as their neighboring allies, were subjugate by Serapoh’s men and surrendered.
After the submission of the Kantu tribe, Rukok then started to teach Sampar on the proper conduct of war by a war leader as follows:
1. If a war leader leads a party on an expedition, he must not allow his warrior to fight a guiltless tribe which has no quarrel with them.
2. If the enemy surrenders he may not take their lives, lest his army be unsuccessful in future warfare, fighting empty handed war raids (balang kayau).
3. The first time that a warrior takes a head or captures a prisoner, he must present the head or captive to the war leader in acknowledgement of the latter’s leadership.
4. If a warrior takes two heads or two captives, or more, one of each must be given to the war leader; the remainder belongs to the killer or captor.
5. The war leader must be honest with his followers in order that in future wars he may not be defeated (alah bunoh)
When Rukok had finished giving those instructions to Sampar, he presented him with various charms for war expeditions.
Some days afterward, Remi gave birth to a son whom they named Menggin or Meng. Immediately after the birth of their son, Rukok told his family that he wished to return to his own homeland, because all of their enemies had surrendered. He told them that Sampar was old enough to become their leader in his place. Before he left them, he taught the Iban to observe strictly the following rules:
1. No one is allowed to commit adultery
2. If a man commits adultery with the wife of a war leader, he is to be fined fourteen jabir, which is equivalent to $14.00 and the woman is to be fined the same.
3. If a man commits adultery with a well known warrior’s wife (bini manok sabong) he and the woman are to be fined 12 jabir, which is equivalent to $12.00 each.
4. After a person’s death, the wife or husband of the deceased is to be known as balu, widow or widower.
5. If a person has sexual intercourse with a widow or widower it is a great sin called butang antu. The offenders are to be fined in accordance with customary law.
6. No widow ar widower may remarry until after his or her deceased spouse has been honoured by the payment of a small fine made to the relatives of the deceased, later given back, in a ritual called ngambi tebalu mata’ within about six months; or ngambi tebalu mansau after the feast of Gawai Rugan or Gawai Antu.
7. If a widow has sexual intercourse with a widower, it is a great sin, berangkat antu. The offenders are to be fined in accordance with customary law.
8. Any person marrying a widow or a widower is also committing a great sin, also called berangkat antu. They are to be fined heavily too.
9. If a widower marries a widow within the tungkun api period, that is within a week after the death of their partner, this union is called berangkat tulang, which is the greatest of all matrimonial sins. The offenders are to be fined heavily.
10. When a man marries a woman, her family must always demand a marriage fee from him, called the bunga pinang.
Before he finally left for his own homeland in the spiritual world, he then begged them to look after his son as he was growing up. Menggin grew up, half-human half-demon, during the peaceful era after the Kantu-Iban war. He was an adventurous person and known to be able to travel between human world and the domain of Iban God of War, Sengalang Burong, at Tansang Kenyalang, a daughter whom he met and married and begot a son named Sera Gunting. Their adventures will be told in another chapter of this article.

Story of Menggin or Meng:

When Menggin, son of Remi and the spirit Rukok, was growing up, he never went on any war expeditions, since the enemy had all surrendered to his father and his uncle Sampar. He was very fond of playing and developed great skill in shooting with his blow pipe. This particular skill would soon changed his life forever; first, an adventure with his blowpipe led to his marriage to a daughter of Sengalang Burong; secondly, he enjoyed a long life span that lasted for seven generations after he won a blow pipe shooting contest with the spirit that owned a stone charm with a power to make a person an immortal being.
One fine day, as he sat on the open verandah (tanju) of the house, he saw a very beautiful bird flying nearby. It was not like any other birds he had seen in his life before. Its feather was glittered in golden color and its bill shone like a pelaga bead. Its eyes were bright as glass, shining against the leaves of the tree. Instinctively, Menggin would not miss such a rare opportunity to own such a bird. He immediately took up his favorite blowpipe and went in pursuit of the bird. As he was within shooting range of the bird sitting on top of sibau tree, he shot at the bird but missed it. The bird flew away and perched on the top of a durian tree. He followed it again and took a shot at it, but this time it just grazes its leg. The bird flew again and this time it perched on top of a rembai tree which grew near the path leading to the landing place of their longhouse. This time his shot hit the bird and he saw the bird fell to the ground.
Menggin hurriedly ran to the spot to pick up the bird. As he arrived, he was surprised to discover a piece of kain kerabaya, a fine quality clothes used as a woman’s sarong. The bird was nowhere to be seen. He picked it up, folded it and kept it in his bamboo dart case (temilah) for safe keeping. He did not tell anyone about what had happened.
Three day afterwards, people saw a very lovely lady taking her bath at the landing place. Hey had never seen such a beautiful girl before. After she had bath, she walked to the longhouse and her beauty glittered the path she passed by. On her way along the gallery, she was invited to enter the apartment she passed by, but she refused until she reached Menggin’s apartment which is in the middle of the longhouse. Menggin’s mother Remi invited her in. She too was astonished by her beauty as she could not recall anyone’s daughter who was as beautiful as her guest. Her only suspicion, judging from her beauty and good manner, the lady guest could only be coming from an aristocrat family.
As she sat in conversation with Menggin’s mother, she enquired where Menggin was. Remi replied that Menggin was sitting at his accustomed place on his gallery outside. She went to their door and called Menggin to come in as the lady visitor wished to meet him. As Menggin entered the apartment, she straightaway asked him where her sarong was. Astonished by the lady’s asking, Menggin replied that he did not know anything about the sarong she had asked for.
“Certainly you know about it,” the lady insisted.
Then Menggin remembered a piece of finely woven cloth he had found three days earlier and which he had kept inside his temilah. He took out his temilah and drew out a piece of cloth and handed it to the lady. After she received the cloth, she went to their dressing compartment and put on the cloth. After she had dressed herself, she sat on a beautiful mat which Menggin’s mother had spread out for her and started a conversation with Menggin’s mother.
Later that evening after dinner, everyone in the longhouse came over to Menggin’s room to entertain the beautiful lady visitor as is customary practice of the longhouse resident. When the people asked her about her visit, she told them that she came from a far away country to look for her cloth, which had been taken away by Menggin a few days earlier. She further said that she would like to marry Menggin if he agreed. “If not,” she said, “I will go back to my father’s longhouse tomorrow”.
On hearing this, Menggin’s mother was very happy and pleased to give her consent if Menggin wanted to marry the lady. She immediately called Menggin to come in and asked him what he thought about the lady’s request. Menggin said he would be delighted to marry the lady if his mother and his uncle approved.
His uncle, Sampar, gave his approval, saying” It is in this same manner Menggin’s father came to us from a unknown country to marry Remi. Their marriage has given us peace and prosperity, for all our enemies had surrendered to us under his leadership. Such a marriage must be lucky and a fate by god.”
They were solemnized that very same night in a simple marriage ceremony (melah pinang). She also told Menggin’s family that her name was Endu Dara Tinchin Temaga, Endu Cherebok Mangkok China, and that she was the eldest daughter of Sengalang Burong. They lived together happily and in due course, their baby boy was born whom they called Sera Gunting or Surong Gunting. This man, born of human, demon and god parentage grew up to be the most famous of all Iban pioneer leaders in history, for instituting the Incest Law of Sengalang Burong, The Iban System of Augury and the procedure of celebrating the Iban Bird Festival.
Six months after his birth, while the child was sleeping during the day, his mother laid him in a cradle and wrapped him in a beautiful woven blanket called a pua labor api. As the child slept soundly, Dara Tinchin Temaga told her husband that she wished to come down to the river to bathe. But when she had gone for quite sometime, the child began to cry. He cried inconsolably, which worried his father very much.
When Menggin tried to amuse him, the child cried the more, and at the same time pointed his tiny finger towards the river. Menggin then took up the child and carried him in the direction in which he pointed. When they reached the bathing place by the river, his mother was nowhere to be seen. The child continued to cry and pointed his finger towards the path, which Menggin followed. At night fall, they stopped traveling and Menggin built a temporary hut for their shelter. The next day they set on their journey again following the direction his son is pointing.
Early on the third day, they came upon a shore of a very huge lake. The thought of crossing it troubled Menggin even more. He did not know how they could cross the lake without using a boat. But his son kept pointing across the lake. While thinking of what to do, he stepped down to the lake to test its depth, and to his surprise, he found that it was only knee deep. He quickly picked his son in his arm and walked through the lake until they reached the opposite bank.
At the other side of the lake, the child is still pointing his finger down the path until they finally came to a very fine wide road along which they walked. After some time, they reached a landing place where they saw many people taking their bathes. Among the bathers, Menggin saw his wife, Dara Tinchin Temaga, and he happily handed her their weeping child. She immediately gave bath to Sera Gunting in the river. After bathing, she breast fed him and and at the same time she advised Menggin what they should do while living in her father longhouse. She told Menggin the following thing:
1. He and their child should not sit down until they reached the part of the gallery where there were many smoked heads (antu pala) hanging from the beam.
2. They should not sit close to the old man with grey hair, because he often grew annoyed with people whom he did not know. She explained that the old man is accustomed to sit on a hanging seat made of tree bark, and that he was her father, Sengalang Burong himself.
3. At dinner time, when they come into the room, they must follow a fly, which would direct them to their food and plates.
4. They should know that all the people who would eat with them were all Sengalang Burong’s slaves.
5. At bedtime, they should follow a firefly into the room which would direct them into their mosquito nets.
After she had given him these instructions, Dara Tinchin Temaga went first to the house. Her husband and child came after and took their seat as she had directed them to. Sengalang Burong watched them sitting there and looked fiercely at Menggin. He thought Menggin resembled a man searching for padi grain, as he looked so thin. Sengalang Burong then ordered one of his slaves to bring out betel nut and sireh leaves for the visitor to chew.
Through the evening, Menggin talked with Sengalang Burong’s slave on the gallery. When the time for dinner came, he and his son went into the room and followed a fly which showed the way to their food and plates. Likewise at bed time, they followed a firefly which showed them to their mosquito net. They did this routine throughout their stay at Tansang Kenyalang. From the day of their arrival until the day he returned to his own country, Sengalang Burong never spoke one word to him. Menggin helped his wife and her family on the farm while he lived with them.
During the farming season, Menggin observed that whenever Sengalang Burong slave met with an animal such as slow Loris (bengkang) or tarsier (ingkat) on the farm, they said that the animal was a slave of Raja Simpulang Gana, who had come to help them. When this happens, they stopped work for one day in honour of Raja Simpulang Gana, the deity of the earth and agriculture.
By this time, Sera Gunting was beginning to walk and talk. One day he climbed to his grandfather’s seat. Surprised, Sengalang Burong asked how he dared to come to his place. The boy replied that it was because he was his grandson and asked why he would not speak a word to him or to his father. Sengalang Burong took him in his arms, but would not admit hat the boy was his grandson. Sera Gunting told him that he really was his grandson, the son of his eldest daughter and Menggin.

The Trials of Sera Gunting by Sengalang Burong:

After Sera Gunting told Sengalang Burong that he was indeed his grandson, he could not believed his ears, even though he had grown to be very fond of the child. This bond had grown into special affection for the child as the child had kept him accompanied and happy through out their stay. But still he refused to believe Sea Gunting. He said to Sera Gunting, “If you are really my grandson, you will have no trouble with the various trials which I will ask you to perform.”
For the first trial, Sengalang Burong poured a potful of millet grain from his seat through the spaces in the floor to the ground below and asked Sera Gunting to pick them up. Sera Gunting went beneath the house and picked every single grain and took them back to his grandfather.
Still not satisfied with that, Sengalang Burong poured onto the ground a bottle full of kepayang oil and asked Sera Gunting to gather every drop of it again, filling the bottle to the brim. Sera Gunting went down as ordered by his grandfather and recovered all of the oil. He gave the bottle full of kepayang oil back to Sengalang Burong. Even with this, the old man would still not accept the boy as his grandson. So he sharpened a nyabor sword and place it on the ground with its sharp edges facing upward.
He ordered Sera Gunting to step and walked on the sharp edges of the sword. The boy jumped on it and walked unharmed to the amazement of the old man. But still the old man was not convinced by his feat, so he set up a final trial for the boy. This time he ordered Sera Gunting to climb a very tall tapang tree at midday to collect honeycomb from one of its branches. The boy climbed the tree and took the honeycomb as ordered. Even when he received the honeycomb brought back by Sera Gunting, Sengalang Burong still would not bring himself to believe that the boy was his grandson. Sera Gunting then decided punish the old man for his stubbornness. He summoned the bees down from the tapang tree and commanded them to attack and sting his grandfather.
The bees flew into the house and stung the old man. He ran to hide in his loft, but still the bees followed him there. After he had be stung thoroughly by the bees, and no where else to escape, Sengalang Burong decided give in to Sera Gunting and formally admitted that the boy was truly his grandson. At this submission, Sera Gunting happily commanded the bees to return to their hives on the branches of the tapang tree.
From that day onward, Sera Gunting dared to approach Sengalang Burong and talked to him as grandson and grandfather. There are definitely a lot of things the old man had wanted his grandson to learn, but he was still much too young for understand the ways of life. Unfortunately, some days later, a cannon fire was heard from a distance, marking the return of Ketupong from a trading expedition overseas. When they heard this, Dara Tinchin Temaga talked to Menggin and begged him and their son to return to their human world, as her true husband had returned home. She also told Menggin that they will never be able to meet again in his life time. She also told him that their son will be the only person from the human world to know the path to his grandfather longhouse.
Early next morning, before the arrival of Ketupong at their landing place, Menggin and Sera Gunting left Tansang Kenyalang. When they arrived home, they found that Remi and Sampar had been very worried about them because they had been missing for a very long time. They told them that they had been living in Sengalang Burong’s longhouse, the father of Dara Tinchin Temaga. When they heard of this strange country and people, Remi and Sampar were extremely happy for their son and grandson to be blessed with such a rare opportunity to live very close to God.
That night the whole household began to celebrate the return of Menggin and Sera Gunting, because they had thought that they were lost and had died. Almost every evening afterwards they gathered to hear the stories of their experience in the house of Sengalang Burong. They began to live their normal life in the world of human.

Sera Gunting Second Visit to Sengalang Burong Longhouse:

Soon Sera Gunting reached young manhood and learned to do various kind of man’s work. He also carries the burden of shouldering a title which was naturally being accorded to him as the grandson of God Sengalang Burong. Of course, he cannot perform the same feat in the human world as what he had easily done in the spiritual world. As time goes by, he found that in many ways he was unsuccessful in a lot of ventures that he pursued. Due to this, his fellow men began to criticize him and label him unworthy of being a grandson of Sengalang Burong.
As Sera Gunting pondered these criticisms, he began to believe that he had been unfortunate in all his ventures because he had not been given any charms by his grandfather, Sengalang Burong. One day he told his father, granduncle and grandmother that he wished to make another visit to Tansang Kenyalang and asked for those charms from his grandfather. Except for his father Menggin, who knew that only Sera Gunting can actually travel to Tansang Kenyalang from the human world, his grandfather Sampar and grandmother Remi, were reluctant to give their consent.
“There were a lot of strange things I observed during our first visit to your grandfather longhouse,” Menggin said in their family conversation that evening, “but I failed to ask for an explanation. This visit by Sera Gunting would be a good opportunity for him to learn directly from his grandfather all the knowledge he needed to be successful in life and to lead our people in this world. Don’t worry about us here as I can still look after your grandmother and support your granduncle.”
Hearing his father’s assurance and encouragement, Sera Gunting was very happy and made preparations to go for a long journey. His grandmother was still concerned about his safety in his journey and asked him to behave himself as he travel and lives with the people of Tansang Kenyalang.
In his travel, Sera Gunting met a spirit of a dead branch of a tree who asked him why he would not fall to the ground. Sera Gunting replied that he was on his way to visit his grandfather Sengalang Burong and would ask him for an answer to his question. He traveled on and came upon a payan bamboo spirit who complained to him that it cannot bear any shoot and would remained single forever. He told the payan bamboo spirit that he came to visit his grandfather Sengalang Burong and promised to seek for an answer to his plight. He journeyed on until he came to a huge lake. There he met the spirit of the lake who told him that it could not flow to the sea. Sera Gunting told spirit of the lake that he is on his way to his grandfather Sengalang Burong longhouse. He promised to seek an answer to his plight too.
From thence he walked again. Presently he met the spirit of a senior sister of the seven stars known as the Bunsu Bintang Banyak (Pleiades). She begged him to stay for a while. While there, she asked Sera Gunting the purpose of his travel. He said, “I am visiting my grandfather, Sengalang Burong”, he said, “to seek answers to my luckless life. When I farm, I am unable to obtain enough rice grain to feed myself, and when I go to an expedition, I never succeed in taking an enemy’s head. This has brought shame to me for I failed to live up to my name”.
Hearing his plight, the spirit of the Bunsu Bintang Banyak began to teach Sera Gunting how to observe the celestial sign and recognize the correct timing to start padi farming season. She taught Sera Gunting how to be guided by the location of the Pleiades stars as it travels in the sky. “If you see that our position is inside the centre of the sky in the early dawn, human must start sowing immediately. If you start later when we are located outside the central halo in the sky, your farm will not grow properly.” Sera Gunting was happy to have learned the star sign to guide their farming season and will bring this knowledge to humankind when he returned to earth.
Sera Gunting then came to a dwelling place of the spirit Bintang Tiga (The Orion). Sera Gunting stayed there for a while. In their conversation, Sera Gunting again told the Spirit of Bintang Tiga the purpose of his travel as he had done at Bunsu Bintang Banyak place. There the spirit of the Bintang Tiga told him that if humankind cannot follow the location of Bintang Banyak due to various reasons, they could still start their farming season when Bintang Tiga is at the central halo in the sky. This is because Bintang Tiga is always traveling fifteen days after Bintang Banyak. Sera Gunting was again very pleased with the knowledge imparted by the Bintang Tiga spirit to him.
From the place of Bintang Tiga, Sera Gunting traveled on until he reached the dwelling place of the spirit moon. During his short stay there, Sera Gunting similarly relate the purpose of his travel and what he had learned previously from other celestial spirits to the spirit of the moon. The spirit of the moon then gave Sera Gunting another piece of celestial advice that humankind must learn about the moon. He said, “The moon lived and die temporarily every month. If the moon dies during a start of your planting season, you must stop work for two days in honour of the moon’s death. But if it is full moon, you only need to stay away from work for one day only. This observance is known as pernama rerak rumpang. Should anyone not cease their work during these time, a member of their family will die, which is known as berumpang ruang bilik”. Due to this injunction, Iban to this day still observe these edicts.

After he had received these instructions from the spirit of the moon, Sera Gunting continued his journey towards Tansang Kenyalang, which is located in the dome of the sky. When he arrived at their landing place, he saw many people taking their bathe. He joined them and everyone gazed at him for they did not know where he had come from. After he had dressed himself up, he went up to the house. As he reached his grandfather’s gallery, he straight away went to embrace the old man who was sitting in his usual hanging seat. Surprised at this, Sengalang Burong furiously asked who this young stranger is, who dared to show such behavior in his house. Sera Gunting then told him that he was his grandson coming to pay him a visit. Sengalang Burong was very happy to have met Sera Gunting again as he had missed him so much after such a long period of time. Hearing this excitement from her room, his mother, Dara Tinchin Temaga, came out to meet him. She too felt happy to see him again as he had grown to be a handsome young man. She then made arrangement that Sera Gunting must stay with his grandfather and aunt Endu Chempaka Tempurong Alang, Sengalang Burong’s youngest daughter, who was then still unmarried. Sera Gunting begged his mother not to worry about him for he had come to acquire some knowledge from the old man.

Sengalang Burong grew to like Sera Gunting, and as he wished to have a very long personal conversation with him, they even ate their meal together all the time. In their private conversation, Sengalang Burong asked Sera Gunting what he intended to learn from him this time. Sera Gunting then related all his misfortunes and troubles he faced in the human world.
“Grandfather, if I joined a war expedition,” he said, “I’m unable to take an enemy head. During farming season, I failed to obtain enough rice grain to feed our family. Because of all these, I’m ridiculed by everyone. They say that I am your grandson for nothing. I am ashamed as I have not lived up to your name. It is my hope that this visit would enlighten me with all the knowledge I hope to learn so as to live a successful and respected life in human world”. He also told his grandfather about the plights of the dead branch, payan bamboo and the lake he encountered on his journey. In reply, Sengalang Burong explained to him their plights as follows:

1. The dead branch cannot fall to the ground because a huge jar is stuck beneath it. If this jar is removed, the dead branch will fall easily.

2. The payan bamboo cannot produce shoots because a large gong was placed above it. If this gong is removed, then it’s shoot can easily comes out.

3. The lake cannot flow down to the sea because its huge root is obstructing its mouth. If this root is cut away, then the water can easily flow down to the sea.

Having been told all these things, Sera Gunting then asked his grandfather for charms to ensure success in all his future undertakings. Sengalang Burong did not reply, but instead, asked Sera Gunting whether his people observed the calls of the omen birds. “If you never listen to the call of omen birds, no amount of charms will make your work prosper”, said Sengalang Burong, “and these omen birds are all my son-in-laws; Ketupong (Rufous Piculet), Bejampong (Crested Jay), Embuas (Banded Kingfisher), Pangkas (Maroon Woodpecker), Beragai (Scarlet-Rumped Trogon), Kelabu Papau (Diards Trogon), Burong Malam (literally means night bird but is actually a cricket) and Nendak (White-Rumped Shama).
Only when you draw water from the river (nyauk), you need not harkens to the omen birds – because the river will never dry up”, he said.

Then Sengalang Burong explains the system of augury to Sera Gunting. “Look!” said his grandfather, “that gallery on the right closest to mine belongs to your uncle Ketupong, the next belongs to your uncle Beragai and next is that of your uncle Pangkas. On my left side, closest to mine is the gallery of your uncle Bejampong, followed by your uncle Embuas and your uncle Kelabu Papau. Attached to Kelabu Papau’s apartment is your uncle Nendak’s dwelling place. The call of your uncle Nendak is not as effective as your other uncles. His call is only good as traveling omen and need not be observed unless this bird flies across the road”. Nendak is a poor client who lives in a room without a verandah attached to Kelabu Papau’s apartment.
“Before you start farming”, continued Sengalang Burong, “you must go out to seek a tambak burong. This is a twig or plant you plucked out with your hand the moment you hear the call of an omen bird. This plant is then brought to the land where you wish to farm that season to be used in a ritual like manggol”.

Sengalang Burong then relate the basic guidelines on how to apply omen birds in farming, as below:
1. When you start to farm, listen to the call of Ketupong, which must be followed by the call of Beragai. This omen foretells that you will obtain a plentiful harvest that farming season and great happiness will ensue.
2. If you start to farm with the call of Embuas and followed by Bejampong, it foretells that your farm that season will be undisturbed and its results plentiful.
3. If you start to farm with the call of Bejampong, it must be followed by the call of Embuas, it signifies that your farm will be properly burnt.
4. If you start to farm with a call of Ketupong and later followed by a call from Bejampong, it foretells a very bad luck for that season and it is called burong busong, as my son in laws have disrespectfully spoken across my gallery.
5. If you start to farm with a call of Beragai and later you hear a call from Bejampong, it also signifies bad luck as it brings sorrow to your family in that season.
6. If you start with a call of Embuas and later you hear a call of Pangkas, this is known as dua matahari (two suns), which means death will occur within the family.
7. If you start to farm with a call of Beragai, and later you hear a call of Kelabu Papau, it also signifies that death will soon come to your family.
8. After you have finished your work of ngundang panggol (visiting the offering made at the preliminary clearing stage of a farming season) you may hear a call of Kelabu Papau which signifies that evil spirit will not bring you bad luck; rather your farm will be safe from their attack.
9. Within the period of seven days during ngundang panggol, you must not hear the call of any omen birds, other than Nendak, which is not very harmful.
10. If during the nebas and nebang (clearing and felling) you hear or meet a mouse deer, barking deer, ingkat, bengkang or belengkiang (lizard), it means that the slaves of Simpulang Gana will assist you in your work.
11. Any animal seen approaching from the front, while a person is working his land is called a laba, which means good luck is coming. But if any animal approach from behind, it is known as burong nyubok and it brings bad omen most unexpectedly.
Sengalang Burong also told Sera Gunting that all omens observed during a farming season would also signify future success in war, marriages, obtaining wealth and reputation. He adjured Sera Gunting to remember all the auguries he had explained.

Sera Gunting Joins a War Expedition:

Sometime during his stay at Sengalang Burong’s longhouse, his uncle Ketupong held a meeting to plan a foray. After it had been agreed that an expedition would take place, Sengalang Burong told Sera Gunting to join his uncles in order to study the omens that warriors observed while on an expedition. In addition to that, Sengalang Burong lent Sera Gunting his own charms called Pengaroh Mali Balang Kayau, the most effective charms for a war expedition. Besides this, he also gave him a boar tusk charm (taring babi), a sugar cane shoot stone (batu tebu) and a deer horn (rajut tandok). Having equipped Sera Gunting with these charms, Sengalang Burong gave him his most ancient “nyabor” sword of which he said, “no one who has ever used this sword before has failed to obtain an enemy head”.
So with these charms, and his grandfather’s weapon, the young Sera Gunting joined his uncles to learn the proper conduct of a war expedition. A short time after they have left the house, he saw his uncle Beragai step off to the right side of the path, where he laughed and return. Responding to this, Ketupong commanded their warriors to halt and perform ngusok rituals (chewing betel nut). This omen is called sandik belantan chawit and signifies that enemies will be struck with a sword from the left hand side to the right hand side of the body similar to the manner fine clothes are worn over a left shoulder.
From there they walked rapidly until they reached a place where they would spend the first night of their expedition. This practiced is called langsi malam diau sahari, literally means “vigilant by night, silent by day”.
On the third day, they walked on again until they reached a place where they would spend the night and waited another two days to observe langsi dua hari. After the two days halt, Pangkas went to the right side of the path where he uttered a war cry. The warriors said that Pangkas is respecting the langsi. After he had shouted, the warriors were very happy as it signifies that their expedition would be a successful one. With this assurance, the warriors marched on rapidly to the enemy country.
Near the enemy country, Bejampong stepped to the left side of the path to give a war cry and returned to the main. Sera Gunting was told that this is a very good omen as it weakens the enemy.
They then continued their march into the enemy territory and at about noon, Embuas stepped to the left path and started to weep and returned to the main path again. Sera Gunting was again told that this is a very good omen as it signifies the weeping cry of the enemies over their dead warriors.
From there they journeyed again until Kelabu Papau jumped to the left side of the path and coughed and rejoined the warriors again. Sera Gunting was told that this omen signifies that the enemies would not be able to see them when they attacked, because Kelabu action would blind them, which is called madam ka suloh mata munsoh (literally means, switching off the visions of the enemies).
Early in the evening, they reached the enemy longhouse where they halted and observed their enemies until midnight. At midnight they moved in and surrounded the enemy longhouse. Finally, at dawn they attacked, while most of the inhabitants were still sleeping. Sera Gunting killed three enemies within a very short time. After the enemies had surrendered, the warriors looted the house and returned home victorious.
After Sera Gunting had returned from this successful expedition, Sengalang Burong told him that it was not necessary to teach him about the omens of war. “You have seen and learnt enough about these omens used in war expeditions,” he said. This war omens which Sera Gunting learned have been observed by successive generationsof Dayak war leaders.

Sera Gunting learned the Incest Law:

During this second visit by Sera Gunting to his grandfather Sengalang Burong longhouse, he stayed with his grandfather and his youngest aunt, Endu Dara Chempaka Tempurong Alang, and not with his mother. As they were of the same age, they played, ate and worked together. Living in this manner, they began to have strong affection for each other and began to fall in love. Sengalang Burong warned them that, as they were aunt and nephew, they must not live as man and wife, which they appeared to be doing in the old man’s eyes and which they strongly denied. A month later, Endu Dara Chempaka Tempurong Alang was found to be pregnant which alarmed the whole of Sengalang Burong’s household.
On hearing this, Sengalang Burong summoned a large meeting in order to enquire into the case. At the meeting, he told those present that his daughter had conceived and that the man responsible was his grandson, Sera Gunting. He told his audience that this is a serious misconduct and strictly forbidden by the rule of Iban law called Pemali Ngudi Menoa.
He asked everyone’s opinion as to what would be a just decision. All present replied that it was for him to judge, because he had settled all similar matters in the past. Sengalang Burong said that according to the law, both transgressors should be put to death.
“But in this case”, he continued, “As Sera Gunting was a complete stranger to us, their lives may be spared. But the child to be born must be killed in order to wipe away the wrath (kudi) of God and the universal spirits.”
Sengalang Burong went on to explain the reason why we would not have them killed by “pantang enggau aur”, or impalement by bamboo spikes, which is the prescribed punishment. This was because, “if they were killed, Sera Gunting would not be able to pass on to mankind how a future crime of this kind should be settled.”

He then went on to explain the rules of incest and marriage as stated below:

First cousin is permitted to marry, and so are cousins of same generation. Besides father and daughter, nephew and aunt, niece and uncle, mother and son, brother and sister, grandchildren and in-laws, an incestuous relationship, which is totally forbidden, the following persons of different generations (see table below) are NOT permitted to marry unless they undergo the besapat ka ai and other related ceremonies depending on seriousness of the offence:

1. A and P are first cousin
2. B and Q are children of A and P
3. C and R are children of B and Q
4. D and S are children of C and R
5. E and T are children of S and S
6. F and U are children of E and T

If a man and woman in categories 1 and 2 wish to marry (e.g A marry Q or P marry B), they must each produce half of the following items:

1. Eight pigs of medium size
2. Eight nyabor sword
3. A fine of sigi rusa – equivalent to eight ringgit
4. Eight beads, axes, plates, bowl.
5. One woven blanket (pua kumbu)
6. One fathom of calico for a spiritual rail
7. Eight ranki (shell armlets)
8. One kebok (jar) known as a cage for the soul of the bride and bridegroom.

If the man and woman have lived together before paying the above fines due to poverty, they are not permitted to marry. But if they continue to live together, they will incur the penalty of death by bamboo spikes. If, however, the fines are subsequently paid, they must partake in a ceremony known as besapat ka ai, in which they are dipped in the river, which has been spilt with the blood of four of the eight pigs. These four pigs are killed immediately upstream from where the couple is dipped. The blood of the remaining four pigs is for pelasi menoa, purification of the land.

When a man and woman in categories 2 and 3 wish to marry (e.g. B marry R or Q marry C), they are ordered to produce one each of the items mentioned for categories 1 and 2 above. One of the pigs is to be killed as an offering to the water spirit (antu ai), while the other is to be killed on land as offering to the spirits of the earth, hills and sky. This ceremony is known as bekalih di darat.

When a man and woman in categories 3 and 4 wish to marry (i.e. C marry S or R marry D), they must produce one fowl and two knives. During the marriage ceremony, after the fowl is killed, the bride and her groom must bite a piece of iron to strengthen their souls.
When a man and woman in categories 4 and 5 wish to marry (i.e. D marry T or S marry E), each must bite a piece of salt during the ceremony to strengthen their soul.
For categories 5 and 6, the man and woman at their marriage must each fell a fruit tree in order to wipe away the bad fortune that might otherwise disturb their future lives.
For category 6, the child of a man or woman belonging to this category at the ceremony, both must have a fighting cock waved over their heads and bite a piece of steel to strengthen their souls. This is the least and the last of the taboos of incest for inter-generational marriage.
Sengalang Burong went on to warn Sera Gunting that if the incestuous persons are not dealt with according to these rules, very heavy rain will fall, the rivers flood, and pests will destroy the farms and plantation and landslides will occur.
Before he pronounced his final judgment on Sera Gunting and his aunt, Sengalang Burong ruled that no one should mention the proper names of his or her parents-in-law. “Anyone guilty of this,” he said, “will be cursed and be unfortunate in all his deeds, all the days of his life”.
After he had finished teaching Sera Gunting the laws of incest, Sengalang Burong demanded that the child born of Endu Dara Chempaka Tempurong Alang be killed at birth and that Sera Gunting must return to the world of men in order to tell his people what they should do in cases of incest. Sengalang Burong also told Sera Gunting about the various stages of the Gawai Burong festival which war leaders should hold in order to invite him and his people to attend.
Sera Gunting returned home shortly after this. On his journey home, he passed by the lake and cut its huge root which had prevented its’ water to flow to the sea. Then he passed by a payan bamboo and took a huge gong, which had prevented its shoot to grow. After that he passed by a dead branch and removes a large jar that had prevented it from falling to the ground. All these items he took back home with him.
When Sera Gunting arrived home, all were surprised to see him carrying laden with a jar and a gong. His family was very happy to see that he has returned home safely from Sengalang Burong longhouse. That night they summoned everyone to come to their gallery to hear what he had to tell them. After they had gathered together, he told them his journey to his grandfather longhouse, what he encountered and what he had learned from the Spirit of the Bintang Banyak (Pleiades), the spirit of the Bintang Tiga (The Orion) and the spirit of the moon. He also told them the commandment of his grandfather, the system of augury and omen birds used for farming and used in war expedition, the incest law and the procedure of conducting the bird festival.
After he finished propounding all the laws and regulations he had received from Sengalang Burong, he asked everyone present whether they accepted these commandment. Everyone all consented to live harmoniously under these laws. “If you agree to obey the laws of my grandfather, I will lead you accordingly,” said Sera Gunting.
Shortly after this, Sera Gunting married to his fourth cousin, Seri Ngiang, the daughter of Laja and Endu Tali Bunga. They begot a son they named Sera Kempat.
Soon after the birth of his son, Sera Gunting celebrated the first stage of Gawai Burong, or Bird Festival, called Enchaboh Arong. Enchaboh arong is an initial festival used by Iban to celebrate the newly acquired head trophies, the spoils of wars or profits from business ventures. As the years went on, he celebrated various stages of the Bird Festival. The detail articles of the Iban Bird Festival Procedures are written separately in an article named Gawai Burong and Pengap Gawai Burong.
Sera Gunting became the most notable leader of Iban adat, religious practices, pioneering and migration activities. After celebrating the last stage of Gawai Burong, the Gerasi Papa stage, the house in which the feast was held must be abandoned after the festival is over and before the leaves decorations used in the festival had withered. The reason for this was for fear of evil spirit which might haunt the soul of the living. For this reason, this last stage of Gawai Burong must be held in an old longhouse. The statue of the Gerasi papa demon must be removed from the open air verandah to the ground immediately after the feast is over. Failure to do so, will results in a massacre of the inhabitants by the Gerasi Papa demon.
Sera Gunting began to lead his followers to migrate to the Batang Lupar territory. He left Merakai and build his commanding longhouse on the spine of Tiang Laju mountain, between the head waters of Undup and Kumpang rivers, a few miles south of present-day Engkelili town. Sera Gunting died here in the ripeness of old age and was succeeded as chief by his son Sera Kempat.

Menggin Meets the Antu Gayu:

While his son Sera Gunting was away at Sengalang Burong’s house, Menggin often went to hunt in the forest, with his favorite blow pipe. There were many things in his mind as he set out on his hunting trip. He would be more cautious about the birds he would shoot down learning from his past adventure. He was also thinking about his son’s journey to his grandfather house. He knows he well looked after there for he had seen their affection for each other when they there before. He was also thinking if he would live long enough to see his son’s return and to be able to know what’s their future would be. He also ponders if he would ever meet his lovely wife again in his life time. He never wished to remarry after his separation with Dara Tinchin Temaga. A hunting trip would give him a chance to escape daily life activity and allows him to ponder the uncertainties in his life. His only companion was his favorite blow pipe he had used when he first met his wife a very long time ago. He would always ask his blow pipe, “What would you bring me today. I wish it’s something for my worried mind.”
One day, as he was searching for game in the forest he met a man who, like himself, was armed with a blow pipe. In the course of their conversation, each man claimed to be more skilled with his blowpipe than the other. After a vehement argument, they agreed to settle their argument with a blow pipe shooting contest, in which each person would shoot seven darts each onto a nearby rock. Whoever failed to make his dart penetrate and stick onto the rock was to be killed by the winner.
Menggin was extremely worried least he should be the loser. As they were preparing to shoot, he noticed a pudu tree a few yards away, and there upon asked his opponent to wait while he eased himself nearby to urinate. He approached the foot of the pudu tree and secretly pricked its bark with the end of his dart to let the latex out. He then applied the latex from the tree to all the points of each of his seven darts. He then rejoined his opponent to start the contest. They both shot at the rock and all Menggin’s seven darts stuck to the stone while his opponent’s dart fell to the ground. Seeing that none of his opponent’s dart stuck to the stone, Menggin drew out his knife to kill the stranger as they had agreed earlier. The stranger at once protested as he had taken the agreement as a joke.
He was kneeling on the ground to beg Menggin to spare his life in exchange for valuable jars and brass gongs. Menggin then asked the stranger what his name was. He told Menggin that he is the spirit of longevity, Antu Gayu. On hearing this, Menggin said that he would only spare the stranger his life if he would give him his prized possession, a charm that possessed the power of longevity. The stranger at first protested that he does not possess such a charm, but Menggin threatened to kill the stranger first and search his belonging later. Hearing this, the stranger finally agreed to hand over his prized possession to him to save his own life. The stranger then told Menggin that the charm is called ubat buah dilah tanah, literally means a “charm of the fruit of the land tongue”.

After receiving the charm, which was as big as a hen’s egg, Menggin tasted it and found that it was very bitter, so he spat it out. He tasted it for the second time, and found it to be very sweet and spat it out again. The third time he tasted it, he found the taste to be sour. The stranger then told Menggin that as long as he never reveals to anybody the reason for his longevity, he will never die. The Antu Gayu then disappeared into the forest with his blowpipe.
Menggin continued his hunt for game in the forest to be brought home with his favorite blowpipe. He knows very well that he will still be alive to see his son’s return from the house of Sengalang Burong. His favorite blowpipe will always be with him as long as he lives.
Menggin lived to such a great age that span seven generations. Every generation consistently asked him the reason for his longevity, but he refused to satisfy their curiosity. Finally, he told them the story. As he spoke, he grew weaker and weaker, appeared to be aging quickly and his body became smaller and smaller. Before he disappeared, he decreed that when he died, no mourning period need to be observed for anybody who lived exceeding fourth generations of living descendant. The stone which the Antu Gayu gave to Menggin is still in the possession of Santap’s grand-children in Bugau territory to this day. At the time of his death, Menggin was living with Berdai family, the wife of another famous Iban Chief and War leader named Betie “Bujang Brauh Gumbang”.

The arrival of the Orang Panggau and Orang Gelong:

The orang Panggau and Gelong were believed to have been coming from the island of Java. The island of Java had seen the expansion and development of three major religious empires; the Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic Empire. It is only natural that the social, cultural and religious development of the Javanese people had been very much influenced by this religious diversity. They were more organized, civilized, cultured and their way of life was more structured than the other indigenous people in Borneo at that time. It is no wonder that they were well known for their weaving skill and the very fine materials they used in weaving clothes. They have the appreciation of materials wealth like owning brassware and jars as a symbol of social status and wealth. They were more advance in iron work compared to other Dayak group in the area. They have a proper social structure, a council of elders for decision making body, code of conduct and many more attributes which is not found in other Dayak group. They came under the leadership of their chief named Tambai Ciri Aka’ Ati Nabau Besirang. He was the father of Apai Sabit Bekait, the hereditary leader of the orang Panggau. They migrated eventually to Kalimantan Borneo, possibly to escape persecution by Muslim rulers, towards the end of Majapahit era. There they started living together with other Sea Dayak group who was under the leadership of Telichai, a descendant of Bejie. They settled first at Semitau Tuai on the banks of Kapuas river. Much later, they moved further upriver to a place called Semitau Lempa where they lived for many decades. Eventually, as their number multiplied, they migrated to a place called Tampun Juak. Many fruit trees that they planted at this site are said to be still growing there to this day.
While they lived at Tampun Juak, the Dayak people suffered many misfortunes. First, they were disturbed by the magical appearance of large quantities of dung or excrement which scattered everywhere in the country. This caused disease to spread amongst the Dayak population, from which many died. Those who survived the epidemic were largely the hero people of Panggau Libau and Gelong, who know how to look after their hygiene and health better than other Dayak group in their time.
Shortly after this disaster, other strange things happened. A great number of tortoises came out of the water and attacked the Dayak people, killing a great many of them. Some months later, many kenyulong or garfish shoot out of the water and attacked the Dayak people, again killing many people.
Shortly after these strange attacks, some of the inhabitants of Tampun Juak were killed by sharp needles (duri /thorn /jarum). No one knew where these needles came from. They could only guess that they must have been thrown by God to kill human beings. As a result of all these troubles (penusah tu), the chiefs Keling and Tutong led a further migration to Nanga Sekapat, a true left tributary of the Kapuas River.

The People of Tansang Kenyalang:

Another group that arrived in Kalimantan during the period was the Raja Durong’s group. They too were thought to have escaped persecution in the hand of Muslim rulers at the end of Majapahit era. They migrated from Sumatra, bringing along with them the Hindu tradition practiced during the Majapahit era, like religion and method of worshiping, agricultural knowledge and methodology, shamanism, the conduct of war, established social order, council of elders for major decision making body, all of which were later adopted and followed by the Iban people of Borneo. These traditions are still being practiced in the Iban Gawai Burong and some other rituals today.
Raja Durong married to Endu Cherembang Chermin Bintang and begot a son named Raja Jembu. Raja Jembu was married to Endu Endat Baku Kansat and begot seven children. Sengalang Burong was the eldest son of Raja Jembu and Endu Endat Baku Kansat.
This group settled at a place called Nanga Nuyan, which was soon became the centre and melting pot of all major Dayak Iban group, including the orang Panggau Libau, Gelong and the Bejie groups. Social, political and economic interaction occurred and their population multiplied quickly. With large population, conflicts and divisions began to appear in an egalitarian society which led to splits, power struggle, enmity, war and further migrations. One such enmity was between Sengalang Burong, the hereditary chief of Raja Durong’s group, and a legendary demon named Nising or Beduru. It ended in a war where the “demon” Nising was slain and his people defeated. This saga-epic (ensera) is always mentioned and narrated in the chants by the bards during the grand Gawai Burong festival.
After the war, Sengalang Burong then moved to Bukit Tutop where he died of old age. He left behind a legacy of a system of augury, bird festival procedure and instituting the incest law to the Iban people, through his grandson, Sera Gunting. From Tutop Hill his followers migrated to a place called Tansang Kenyalang, a heavenly place located at the dome of the sky. He was regarded as the God of War and is still worshiped by the traditional Ibans to this day.
Detail articles on Sengalang Burong have been written in two books called Raja Durong and Gawai Burong by Benedict Sandin.

Power Struggle in Panggau Libau:

Before Keling became the leader of the Panggau Libau people, his father Si Gundi, the eldest son of Telichai and Dayang Sia Bunsu Kamba, a descendent of Bejie, left his family to marry a Panggau Libau damsel named Laing. Laing was the eldest sister of Sinja (mother of Laja), Nawin (mother of Sempurai), Sinjong (mother of Tutong – chief of Gelong clan), Apai Sabit Bekait and Ribai. They were the most powerful and influential family in the Panggau Libau clan. The Panggau Libau and the Gelong clan were considered semi-god by other people as they were the only people who survived the supernatural disaster and diseases that killed many Dayak people during that time.
Si Gundi, being the eldest son of Telichu, is considered half-man and half-demon and the only person brave enough to win the heart of a Panggau Libau damsel. Being the eldest son, he has the leadership quality and trait to win the love, respect and most of all, acceptance by the Panggau Libau people to be their leader, especially his brother-in-laws, Ensing Gima (father of Laja), Si Ganti (father of Sempurai) and Beddang (father of Tutong and Kumang). Soon, Si Gundi was appointed leader of the Panggau Libau people by the council of elders. This, naturally, create jealousy and enmity between Si Gundi and his brothers-in-law, Apai Sabit Bekait, who was the original hereditary leader of Panggau Libau clan and his brother Ribai. As the leadership struggle between the two groups worsened, a war broke out within the clan. Apai Sabit Bekait and his followers attacked and destroyed Si Gundi’s longhouse at Lembang Muang. Si Gundi and Ensing Gima were both killed defending their longhouse, while Beddang was captured by Apai Sabit Bekait’s trusted warrior named Tedang during the raid. For this reason, Apai Sabit Bekait and his followers became the principal enemies of the Panggau People. Ribai and his followers, not wanting to be involved directly in the internal conflict, migrated across the sea. Keling, Laja, Sempurai and Pungga were all away traveling abroad during this time, seeking knowledge and life experience. Many saga-epic (ensera) story of Keling’s adventure were told in many Iban literature and songs. After the attack on Si Gundi’s longhouse, Apai Sabit Bekait quickly escaped to the spiritual world in the sky, between heaven and earth, where he built a strong and tight fortress to prevent any retaliation by Keling and his followers from Panggau Libau and Gelong.
On his return from overseas adventures, Keling was immediately appointed the leader of Panggau Libau people, replacing his father. He immediately organized his people to migrate to the spiritual world in order to keep track of Apai Sabit Bekait whereabouts and to exert revenge upon them. But before they left the human world, he taught his uncles and cousins of the human world how to play the percussion gendang rayah music on gongs and drums so that, even after their separation, humankind might continue to summon these spiritual heroes to this world, should they seek assistance from them or inviting them to celebrate the cycle of Gawai festivals. In the course of these rituals, the Orang Panggau act as the ritual hosts and attendants, sending out invitations and receiving the gods on behalf of their human host.

Keling and Laja were the best known of the Panggau-Gelong heroes. Laja is the principal companion of Keling as well as his second-in-command. His chief task among the heroes is to smoke the trophy heads (nyampu antu pala) which they bring back from the battlefield. The other principal warriors under Keling command were Sempurai and Pungga. By some account Sempurai was said to be of demon ancestry, a descendant of Telichu, hence his violent temper and unpredictable nature. Some tales said that he was the son of the most dreaded demon named Beduru or Nising (an arch enemy of Sengalang Burong – an Iban God of War). He was captured when he was still a baby, in an epic battle led by Sengalang Burong himself, and was adopted by Si Ganti also known as Ngingit Lemai. His adopted mother, Nawin, is a younger sister of Keling’s mother.
By some other account, another reason that the orang Panggau and Gelong should leave the human world was to avoid destructive conflict with human kind due to violent behavior of Sempurai. This violent behavior has no match in the human world as he and the Panggau Libau people have the super human magical power and capabilities. As such, they could no longer live side by side with each other.

After they had become well established in Nanga Sekapat settlement, Sempurai, whose honorific name (julok) was “Bunga Nuing”, became very violent. Sempurai was a trusted warrior, the first cousin of Keling. If he played games with children, he threw them in the air so that they landed far from the play ground. If he happens to pass by a group of damsel, he openly pinched their breasts. If he met a pregnant woman, he would kick her womb. After some time, Sempurai’s bad character was reported to Keling and Laja. They scolded him and told him to curb his aggressiveness. This makes Sempurai’s behavior even more violent. He argued and eventually quarreled openly with his cousin Laja. Laja is also Keling’s first cousin, his most trusted warrior and his second-in-command. He was the son of Ensing Gima who was killed together with Keling’s father in a war with Keling’s uncle and arch enemy, Apai Sabit Bekait. His mother, Sinja, is a younger sister of Keling’s mother.
One day, Sempurai and Laja quarreled from morning till dusk. During their argument, a precious charm belonging to Laja was split from the phial (a small glass bottle for keeping liquid medicine) in which it was kept. This caused a damsel named Kelinah or Indai Abang, to become very annoyed. She felt that it was not fitting for men of such status as Sempurai and Laja to show such a bad example to others in the village. She suggested that they must be separated and live elsewhere in order that the people of Nanga Sekapat settlement might no longer be made to fear and witness their fierceness. When Keling heard this, he at once led the migration of his Panggau Libau followers, taking the Batang Panggau Libau river with them into the spiritual world. He replaced the Panggau Libau river with a new one, known as Batang Ketungau, now situated in Northwest Kalimantan border.
Seeing that Keling and his followers had migrated, Tutong also led a migration of his Gelong people and followed Keling and the people of Panggau Libau to a spiritual world as he would not want to be left behind when the Panggau people attack Apai Sabit Bekait. Tutong also would not want to be left behind to rescue his father Beddang, who was captured by Apai Sabit Bekait’s trusted warrior, Tedang. Tutong’s sister, Kumang, had also pledge that she would marry anyone who rescue her father from captivity. Tutong similarly took along with them the Batang Gelong river. In their haste to follow Keling and his people, he forgot to bring along a very high hill called Bukit Gelong which is still located in the upper region of the Ketungau River and can clearly be seen from the Kalingkang range on the modern political boundary of Sarawak and Indonesian Kalimantan.

After the spirit heroes has separated from the humankind, the Dayak people began to re-organize ourselves under the leadership of the following men: Bui Nasi, Putong Kempat, Litan Lengan, Pulang Belawan, Bejit Manai and Retak Dai (father of Sarapoh). They moved from Nanga Sekapat to Lempa Entaya, where they built a number of longhouses. After they had lived at Lempa Entaya for a number of decades, they migrated to a placed called Sungkong. There they became more developed that their forefathers and progressed in many fields like arts, crafts, medicine, basic tools and utensils. They also increased greatly in numbers.
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