Modern Iban longhouse and dress.

Modern Iban longhouse and dress.

From 1908 to 1924, there were a number of Iban from the Saribas and Kalaka and a few from Banting on the Lingga River working as temporary collectors under Ulok anak Sadai of Ulu Krian at the Selangor Museum in Kuala Lumpur. At this time whenever the Director and his senior staff were on expedition, they took these Iban to many Indonesian Islands including New Guinea. On these trips the Iban were able to see much of the development taking place in the Dutch Empire.

Influenced by the design of houses they had seen in foreign countries, particularly in Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, the Iban of Sengiam, Paku, first modernized the construction of their longhouse in 1914. Penghulu Dalam Munan who had been living near Sibu since 1898 had already built nine shopnouses in the town some years earlier. The longhouse at Sengam was built similar in design to the Chinese shop houses of those years. Furthermore as time went on, many Iban of the lower rivers especially in the Saribas and Kalaka regions modernized the fashion of their houses and enriched them with modem furniture. Besides modernizing the fashion of their longhouse buildings, the lower river Iban also started to wear European dress around 1900. Before this, only very few Iban who had settled near the Malays wore trousers, shirts and hats. They adopted the new dress from the Javanese and Malayans with whom they came into contact when they visited these countries after 1888. The upriver Iban retained their traditional costume till after the Second World War.


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