From ancient times the Iban have valued old jars, such as kuna, irun, belanay, jabir, panding, alas, rangkang, mandoh, jumat and gemiang, But the most valuable are jars of the following type:

Type of jars = Value in $
Salang-alang = 150.00
Rusa Salang-alang = 200.00
Begeri = 200.00
Rusa Begeri = 200.00
Rusa Randok = 250.00
Betanda Begeri = 200.00
Betanda Bendar = 280.00
Menaga = 300.00 – 350.00
Ningka Menaga = 320.00 – 370.00
Ningka Bendar = 400.00
Ningka Betanda = 320.00
Sergiu = 600.00 – 900.00
Guchi = 700.00 – 1,000.00

The reason these jars were valued by the Iban was that in ancient times, if anyone was guilty of murder, adultery, theft, or owed a debt, he would become a slave of the person he had wronged, or was indebted to, if he could not repay his debt or the fine imposed on him. Before money was widely used, fines were paid in jars (cf. Sandin 1980a: 3-4). Later, after the abolition of slavery by Rajah Charles Brooke in the 1880s, when money was still very difficult to earn, all fines Imposed by the government could be settled by the surrender of a jar to the court to avoid imprisonment of which the Iban were much afraid.

In addition to this, no chief was recognized as influential or powerful who did not possess valuable jars. In the eyes of the Iban one enemy killed in war was equivalent in value to two captives or two rusa type jars. If a chief or a warrior of good family was able to obtain a head, one or more captives and one or more jars, he would be recognized as raja berani, meaning “rich and brave”. It was because of this that thousands of Iban lost their lives in foreign lands from 1868 to 1908, seeking to acquire jars. From 1909 to the 1920s the Iban stopped hunting for jars in foreign lands, but they continue to buy them, if any were brought by traders to their longhouses.


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