Iban trading ventures to Malaya, Sumatra and Java.

Iban trading ventures to Malaya, Sumatra and Java.

While the Sarawak Government discussed the Iban massacre at Trusan with the Brunei Government in 1890, Penghulu Minggat of the Awik led many people to Singapore on the way to trade in Sumatra. At this time Minggat was already very old. He had been an extremely prosperous farmer in the Awik to which he had migrated, and he had become very rich in valuable jars and brassware, the type of property which was accumulated by rich Iban families in the 19th century. Besides being rich, Minggat was at this time one of the most senior Iban chiefs and war leaders in the Second Division.

When he met the Rajah in Kuching, the latter tried to persuade Minggat not to go so far a field because of his advanced age. But the old chief insisted that he must go in order to obtain a most valuable guchi jarlet as big as an egg plant, something no Iban had ever possessed. The Rajah asked him to change his mind, and said that if Minggat did not go, the Rajah would give him a diamond or a jar of the sort that he and his race valued so much. But Minggat told the Rajah again that he must lead his followers overseas. And as he had planned Minggat and his followers left Sarawak for Singapore by the S.S. Normanby in 1890. From Singapore the party sailed to Sumatra and landed at Panai. On his arrival Minggat paid a courtesy call on the ruler of the country, to whom he handed an official letter of introduction from the Rajah of Sarawak. For this meeting Minggat specially wore the official uniform given to him by the Rajah before he left.

At Panai Minggat and his followers bought jars of various types, including a considerable number of Bangka jars. While they were still trading Minggat fell ill and subsequently died of stomach ache. His name is remembered in song to this day:

Minggat apai Runai parai di Panai,
Seberai tiban Nanga Saan.

“Minggat the father of Runai died at Panai,
Opposite the mouth of the Saan” (River).



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