After her marriage, a woman traditionally sought to gain skill as a weaver1. In order to become an expert, she studied the techniques of her mother, grandmother or other leading weavers in the longhouse. Her am­bition was to become indu tau muntang tau nengkebang, one who is able to weave blankets and clothes without seeing a pattern. When she reached that stage of her artistic skill, she next sought to become expert in exposing the thread in the dew at night in order that she might be known as indu takar indu gaar, an artist envied by Iban woman weavers of all times.

Name of design motifs and pattern in the traditional Iban Ikat Weaving:

Lebur Api:

This design motifs stress the bright red fiery flames.

Bali Begajai:

Design portrays the pictures of elephants

Bali Berandau:

Design portrays the pictures of creepers

Bali Mensuga:

Design portrays the images of metal ornaments used for decorations

Bali Belumpong:

Design with pictures of logs of equal length

Bali Berinjan:

Design with pictures of creeper plant in zig-zag pattern.

Bali Belulai:

Design with opposite number of objects

Bali Menyeti:

Design with a variety of curious creatures

Bali Kelikut:

Design with pictures of lions, tigers and demons in addition to pictures of other objects

Bali Sempepat:

Design with pictures of glittering firefly

Bali Tengkebang:                       

Design of a combination of old and modern pictures of various objects

Kumbu Muau:

Design with stripes across the heavens

Bandau Nulang:

Design with pictures of monitor lizards

Kayu Betimbau:

Design with pictures of trees opposite one another

Kumbu Rayong:

Picture of various designs

Remang Berarat:

Design that portrays the picture of drifting clouds


Design with pictures of demon huntsman

Tangga Beji:

Design which depict Beji’s ladder reaches the heavens (langit)

Miga Bekurong:

Design with shapes of various objects in the clouds

Lemba Bumbun:

Design with pictures of sacred lemba bumbun poles used during the Bird festival

Tangkai Ranyai:

Pictures of the stalk of the mythical ranyai palm in the other world

Tiang Sandong:

Pictures of the sacred sandong pole of the Bird festival

Tiang Sandau Liau:

Pictures of the sandau liau pole used at the Bird festival

Kara Jangkit:

Pictures of projecting roots of the banyan tree (parasitic tree)


Pictures of various interlocked objects.

The varieties of pua kumbu blankets mentioned above were used in an­cient times by wives to receive ceremoniously the heads of slain enemy from the hands of their husbands on the latter’s return from the warpath. In modern times, they are used for decorating the house on festive occasions, for making a roof of boats used for taking the bride to her groom’s house on her wedding day or for making a sapat partition within which is placed the body of the dead during the three days and three nights of vigil before it is buried in the cemetery. These blankets are an important form of property and it is shameful for an Iban family not to own at least one pua kumbu.

As the wife is busy with her weaving, the husband is also busy with other work such as collecting rattan vines for mats and baskets. In addition to doing this, he is also responsible for clearing trees for farming and gardening sites, and for collecting firewood for his family. The more physical work done outside the house is performed mostly by men. All lighter work is done by Women, such as sowing padi, fetching drinking water from the river or pond, cooking food and looking for vegetables in the jungle or tending the vegetable garden. The milling and pounding of rice are also done by women. At the present time, rubber tapping is a work done by both men and women.



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