Iban voyage to Banjermasin.

Iban voyage to Banjermasin.

In about 1875, Penghulu Kedit, a son of Embit of the Paku, with Penghulu Mula, the son of Renggi, led a group of Iban rubber tappers on a voyage from the Saribas to many places in southeast Borneo, as far as Banjermasin. They went in two sailing boats which belonged to Penghulu Kedit and Penghulu Mula. When they called at Singkawang and Mentrado, the Chinese of these towns were scared of them due to the fact that these regions had been harassed several decades earlier by the Saribas chief, Orang Kaya Pemancha Dana “Bayang”. From Mentrado they sailed to Pontianak, then to Sukadana and then to the town of Kayung. From Kayung they proceeded to Sampit and then sailed to Kota Warringin. From Kota Warringin they sailed for Banjermasin. On their arrival at this Sultanate, Penghulu Kedit and Penghulu Mula met Sultan Tengku Abdullah Yaksa and asked his permission to tap wild rubber in his country. The Sultan said that he could not permit them to stay long in his country. He ordered them to leave the following day in order that they would not frighten his subjects. At this time many people in Borneo were afraid of the Sarawak Iban because of their constant raids in the past.

As a result of this order by the Sultan, Kedit and Mula with their followers returned homeward. When they came to Sukadana town they asked for approval to work the wild rubber in that region from the local Rajah. The latter said he would approve their application provided they would agree to pay one tenth of the proceeds of the sale of their rubber to his government. Kedit and Mula to pay this tax and ordered their men to disembark. They stayed in a big hut (bansal) on the bank near their boats. A few days later when they had hired canoes from the local people they transported their luggage and working equipment to the forests upriver. They worked there for five months. After they had obtained a lot of rubber, they sold it to a towkay, who paid them forty dollars per pikul for it. This time they did not spend their money on jars, as they wished to take silver dollars back to their families at home.

After the “Lang Ngindang” trouble had been settled, a warrior named Linggi and his two sons Anji and Radin from Seruai, Saribas, went to Brunei. Linggi was the father-in-law of Aji who was killed during the fighting at Sungai Langit in 1858. Before they left Sarawak Linggi had openly declared that due to the death of Aji, he felt it was impossible for him to live in any part of the Brooke Raj, though he had, since the surrender at Sadok in 1861, been converted to Christianity by the European priests of the Anglican Mission. Some years after Linggi and his sons had settled in Brunei, Anji was commissioned by the Sultan to quell rebels in the upper Belait and Tutong rivers. This he did gladly, and due to his easy victory over the enemy he was given the rank of Penglima by the Sultan.

Some years later, Linggi and his family left Brunei for Sabah. After they had settled there Radin was commissioned by the Chartered Company Government to fight against rebels who lived around Kota Kinabalu (Jesselton) and along the Kinabatangan River. He fought these rebels with the help of Sarawak Iban who continually came to Sabah to look for old jars, which they acquired by working wild rubber and rattan. With, the support of his warlike Iban friends, Radin fought successfully against the rebels, so that the government of Sabah gave him the rank of Penglima. While Linggi and his family were in Sabah they abandoned Christianity and became Muslims. After they had been converted, Senabong and Timban, the sons of Aji, joined them. While there, Senabong and Timban told the Iban that they had come to Sabah in order to look for war charms which would make them invulnerable. After they had obtained them, they said that they would start a new rebellion in the Layar to revenge the death of their much lamented father, who had died while fighting against Brooke rule in 1858. As tradition has it, both these young men did indeed find charms and became invulnerable. But, unfortunately, one of them was caught and killed by a crocodile while swimming across the Sugut River at Lubok Sapi, chasing after a mouse deer; while the other died from “stomach ache”. It was said that it was due to Senabong and Timban’s deaths that the people of the upper Layar River failed in the late 1880s to renew their war against the Brooke Raj. On the other hand, Timban’s uncle, OKP Nanang apai Insol, was not rebellious. He succeeded his brother Aji as chief of the Padeh and middle Layar and was publicly praised by Sir Charles Brooke in the presence of the chiefs of the Second Division at Fort Alice, Simanggang, and promoted to the rank of Orang Kaya Pemancha in 1884. Ringkai, the successor of his cousin Bakir of Betong fort, was raised at the same time to the rank of Pengarah.

While Penglima Radin and the Iban in Sabah were busy fighting against native rebels for the Chartered Company’s government, the Rajah of Sarawak with the help of Orang Kaya Pemancha Nanang of Saribas, Penghulu Minggat of Awik and Jabu apai Umping of Bangat, Skrang, attacked Penghulu Ngumbang and his Ulu Ai followers in the Kedang range. After their defeat a considerable number of Ulu Ai Iban fled to the Emperan in Indonesian Borneo. Shortly after the Kedang war, in 1887, Penghulu Chulo “Tarang” of Ulu Krian died after a short illness.

In about 1888 Kalanang of the Paku built a sailing boat and took his followers to Sabah to buy jars. With him went Kalom, Rekan, Ibi, Chuwi, Gadin, Tangai, Mancha and Mandau. In Sabah all of them bought jars according to their means. But Kelanang and Mandau each bought a sergiu jar. When they landed at Brunei on their way home, they bought several pieces of brassware including a number of cannons. Later when they had reached Spaoh in the Paku, they fired these guns time after time, till they landed at their own house at Matop. The sound of these guns surprised everyone, who immediately came to Matop to see the jars and brassware they had bought in Sabah and Brunei. On the night of his arrival home with his sergiu jar, Mandau went to visit his girlfriend Sudau, daughter of a well-known warrior named Ambing “Merinsa” of Bangkit. When he told Sudau and her father that he had proved himself a man of some standing by buying a valuable jar, Sudau eloped with him inspite of his inferior status in Iban society.

Before Nakoda Kalanang and his followers had successfully returned from Sabah and Brunei, a well-known man named Lumpoh of Penom, with Entering and some others, decided to trade in Sabah. At this time Lumpoh had recently divorced his wife Chenggit, a daughter of Penghulu Minggat of Awik. In the course of the quarrel about the divorce, Minggat sent Lumpoh a lungga baut knife and a roll of raru creeper which meant that, if Lumpoh were really brave and adventurous, he should kill an enemy in battle or buy a valuable jar during a long voyage. Irritated by this insult, Lumpoh decide to leave, and accompanied by his friends, sailed to Sabah. When they came to Pulau Gaya near Jesselton, Lumpoh bought a sergiu jar, while his comrade, Entering bought two other valuable jars. After ail their friends had bought jars according to their respective means, Lumpoh decided to go home. On their way back to the Saribas, they discussed the celebration of a feast (gawai tajau) in honour of their jars. Lumpoh was very keen to ask a female bard named Indai Engkai of Igan to sing the chants at his feast so that the story of it would be heard by his former father-in-law, Penghulu Minggat. He did not want to invite any of the bards in Saribas and Kalaka to sing at this feast.

When they arrived home Lumpoh held a feast to honour these jars at Penghulu Mula’s house, at Nanga Nyalong, in the upper Paku. Shortly after Lumpoh’s Gawai Tajau festival was over, Penghulu Saang “Rumpang” of the lower Paku and Kadam of Teru, Rimbas, with their followers also sailed to Sabah for the same purpose of acquiring jars. On their arrival In Sabah, Rumpang helped all his followers first to purchase jars. After his crewmen had bought jars, there were no more for sale in that place. So they returned to Lawas near Brunei, as it was rumoured that here there were jars available for sale. When they came to Lawas, two jars were found, one of the menaga type and the other a rusa. Rumpang bought the former, but had not enough money to purchase the second. He was very disappointed and decided to auction his baku sireh (brass betel box), kuran (small brass container) and kachit (betel nut scissors) in order to buy the rusa jar. After he had bought both jars, he and his companions returned to the Saribas highly pleased.

After Rumpang and his crew had returned from Sabah, Insol, a son of Orang Kaya Pemancha Nanang of Padeh, with a number of young men from the Padeh and middle Layar, also went to Sabah. While there, they bought eighteen jars of various types. In the Layar no one other than Budin “Grasi” and Penghulu Insol took their people to buy jars in Sabah. The reason for this was that all the sons of chiefs in and around Betong at that time were fully employed as fortmen, which gave them the opportunity to buy a lot of jars from the Malay traders with the money they were paid.

After Insol had returned successfully from Sabah, Jungan of Matop in the Paku, again went to Sabah to buy jars. On this voyage he was accompanied by Ketit, Blaki, Ibi, Makop, Entri and Jugah. Jugah died in Sabah on this voyage. Because of this, Jungan and his companions returned to Sarawak and bought a number of betanda jars from the local Malay trader.



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