Discussion on buah pua kumbu

on August 15, 2009 at 7:39 pm | Reply GNMawar

Do not break the egg. Just gently tap it on the forehead or ubun (soft spot on top of the head).

The chicken coloration used to welcome the Budin “Gerasi” bloodline is Burik Menaul Beragum Bejugu – the coloration of a striped eagle with beard and crest on its head – very rare coloration to look for. If that coloration is not used to welcome our bloodline to a festival, then somebody among the host will faint (a.k.a Pansa Arong) indicating our guardian spirit is not pleased with the protocol accorded to us.

on August 15, 2009 at 12:47 pm | Reply Vernon Kedit-Jolly


Thanks for the full explanation. Now I fully understand the significance of the practice of breaking the egg on the forehead. I remember Mama (daddy’s mother) telling me about the egg. Do we just tap it or do we break it completely on the forehead untl the person wakes up?

Mama also mentioned something about a white chicken with spots. What did she mean?

on August 15, 2009 at 12:18 pm | Reply GNMawar

It show our spiritual superiority over other bloodlines … meaning, the bloodline is closer to God’s attention and other people need to recognise that. As a cultured people, we take great care about our spiritual well being – to avoid the wrath of God hence careful compliance to the ritual processes in every aspect of our life. In leadership role, half-hearted people are afraid to follow us because of our bravery, but then people like to be led by us because we have been very successful in leading the people for generations, while other Iban leaders have no major success in uniting us and in bringing properity to our people. Our enemies feared us for generations. That makes us the proven bloodline. That all comes down to strong spiritual values we possess in our blood. People are also afraid to offend us – cos that usually mean offending our ancestors spirit and thus spiritual repercussion could happen.

If such thing happens in your visit, ask for a piece of raw chicken egg, and tap or rub it on the forehead of the fainted person and say a simple prayer “If indeed you fainted because of my ancestor spirit, no harm will fall on you”. The person will be normal again.

on August 14, 2009 at 5:12 pm | Reply Vernon Kedit-Jolly


I have seen with my own eyes people fainting during a Gawai celebratiuon when ucu gerasi are present.

It even happened to me once when I visited a longhouse during campaign for my previous boss in the Dalat area. My ex-boss is Muslim, so he didn’t spear the pig that was prepared for him. He asked me to do it on his behalf. After the tuai rumah did the miring, I speared the pig, and then a few moments later one of the longouse occupants fainted. Then the tuai rumah asked me who I my forefathers were. So I recited my tusut from Dana Bayang down to me, and then from Sa’ang also.

Why did this happened, that people faint when ucu gerasi are present at their longhouse events?

on August 14, 2009 at 9:30 am | Reply GNMawar

There is nothing wrong in making Takang Gerasi Papa as long as the strict ritual procedure is complied to. Also there shouldn’t be any fear of being a custodian or in possession of the said pattern. It’s just being kept in case we need it for the Gawai Gerasi Papa (if ever we organise one) – therefore that makes it a very rare and priceless master piece indeed.

During Gawai Gerasi Papa, a sacred pole (Tiang Chandi) is constructed with the figure of Gerasi Papa sitting on top of it. It’s base is covered with Pua kumbu of the same motif or design where all the offerings are placed. It is believed that after the gawai ritual is over, the sacred pole comes alive spiritually. This hungry demon spirit will feed on human soul causing deaths to the longhouse occupant. That was why, prior to this particular festival, the house must also be prepared to be abandoned as soon as possible, before the palm leaves used in the celebration withered (layu).

I do not know why our Aki Sengalang Burong asked us to revive the spirit of this demon, which he had slain earlier, in this last stage of Gawai Burong. It was because of his victory over this arch enemy that he started a cycle of Gawai Burong celebration – Imagine ourselves in Aki SB shoes and analyse the logic of it all. In christainity, similarly I still wonder why God created demon (or jin) from fire. There must be a balance or reason to everything that keep me digging for the answers. Maybe it’s just to keep life in circle from generations to generations and if that cycle is broken, maybe it spell the end of humanity. I’ve got to search my soul.

Mama was right to remind your daddy (my 2nd Cousin) not to display that particular pua unnecessarily because she knows that the demon figure in the pua is spiritually active or alive due to the rituals she performed during its construction process – which only senior weaver should undertake. But it will not harm you if you keep it in a good place (as you’d do to yourself) and not completely hidden in the attic or store room. If you want to display it for photo shoot, then you should perform a simple offering ceremony with Sireh, pinang, kapu, tobacco, nipah palm leaves, hard boil egg which you place on a table nearby to appease the spirit. Then you bite a piece of metal (small knife) just to strengthen your own spirit. Also add a little “Tuak” to the offering – as rice wine will keep the demon physically weak and under control (mabok). The same could be done to your other notable collections, especially those that is being used for other Gawai Burong and those that is used to receive head trophies. This simple ritual is not necessary for other non-notable ones or ordinary one.

Maybe oneday we should organise a grand statewide Gawai Burong event in Kuching with Dr. Peter Kedit as main sponser (due to his seniority) and erect a sacred tiang Chandi in the compound of Rumah Dayak or Kuching City Centre. Get all the Iban YBs involved in this project – then maybe we can unite them using this cultural heritage and values as an unifying factor. Tough task.

on August 13, 2009 at 11:05 am | Reply Vernon Kedit-Jolly


You wrote:

“One main issue on Gawai Burong is that Pua Kumbu with Gerasi Papa design is totally prohibited in Gawai Burong because these demon group is the arch enemy of Sengalang Burong and Sengalang Burong entourage will not come down to grace the festival if that design grace its sacred pole. It is used only in the last stage of Gawai Burong called Gawai Gerasi Papa, immediately after which the longhouse must be abandoned.”

Mengan wove the Takang Gerasi Papa. The tiang has a Gerasi Papa motif at the top. However, Mengan said that this pua can never be displayed in the longhouse. It can only be displayed IF the Gawai Gerasi Papa was celebrated BUT then the longhouse must be immediately abandoned. Can you shed some light on this discrepancy, Uncle?

Mengan’s pua is now di-ibun by my dad, Rumpang, and was given to him by Mama Tuai when he came back from Singapore to live in Kuching. Mama Tuai also said never to display it unless the Gawai Gerasi Papa is celebrated and he (Rumpang) must ngerumpang the house. Any thoughts on what she really meant?

on August 13, 2009 at 10:24 am | Reply Vernon Kedit-Jolly

Niang Aki Ringkai (Apai Ming) or Mister Ringkye as he was fondly known, regrettably has left us. I hope to interview Aunty Yak or Uncle Ming soon. Hopefully, they have anecdotes from Stambak.

on August 13, 2009 at 9:22 am | Reply Vernon Kedit-Jolly


Kelibut, I strongly suspect, is typo error in the magazine. The correct term is Kelikut. The ‘k’ was mistaken and taken for a ‘b’. If we can check who the source of the magazine is, we can trace it back to the original.

My informant from Stambak was the late Indai Gulang (Ini Yak) whose mother was Jelawai, a well known weaver too. Much of what I know about Stambak weaving tradition was from her.

on August 13, 2009 at 10:14 am | Reply GNMawar

Kelibut – typo error – I believe so. The magazine was published by Borneo Literature Bureau, edited by our late Mr. Henry Gana Ngadi (also from Samu).

Indai Gulang – She was the finest tikai mat weaver of various design. Won many prizes in tikai weaving contest in Betong. And ofcourse, Indai Yak Jelawai, their memory is still fresh in my mind. But I thought Uncle Ringkai (Apai Ming) should have gathered as much info about weaving from Mama before.

on August 13, 2009 at 8:24 am | Reply GNMawar

Indeed both writers did not go deeply on the subject which needs to be further researched. The list was to preserve the names and design motifs that was available in the Saribas area. Sandin’s informer was Selaka Ak. Budin of Stambak (who was not a notable weaver but was a very notable informants on Stambak oral history. Other informants were from Samu (Datin Empiang & Gerijih’s main source) and Tanjong. Matop & Pelandok claim consultancy from our expert in Stambak. Therfore, there were two bloodlines of expert in Saribas – Samu and Stambak, which doesn’t seem to compromise each other (I do not understand why).

One main issue on Gawai Burong is that Pua Kumbu with Gerasi Papa design is totally prohibited in Gawai Burong because these demon group is the arch enemy of Sengalang Burong and Sengalang Burong entourage will not come down to grace the festival if that design grace its sacred pole. It is used only in the last stage of Gawai Burong called Gawai Gerasi Papa, immediately after which the longhouse must be abandoned.

I agree with you that the Sandin – Gerijih list is not the ultimate reference as their historical focus was mainly on man dominated history. It was just part of their short note.

Bali Kelibut – it was spelt as that in the Nendak magazine – also puzzle me too. Maybe Datin Empiang can explain its Samu origin. You and Datin should jointly reconcile the different thoughts from these two school of weaving as you are both from the same bloodlines – Stambak & Samu. I’m looking forward to your project success in this area.

on August 13, 2009 at 2:13 am | Reply Vernon Kedit-Jolly


I have written a critique on the Gerijih-Sandin Lists. I would appreciate your comments and thoughts.



on July 28, 2009 at 7:17 pm | Reply Vernon Kedit-Jolly


I have joined an international discussion forum here to further share our pua kumbu legacy with the world.


on July 29, 2009 at 8:58 am | Reply GNMawar

Congratulation. This is a great recognition for you. May our great-great grandmother’s prestige be sang out loud. They were the best and deserve those recognition. My comment on their opinion of the Ibans:
1. “The Iban do not have a ‘notion of cultural unity and uniformity, but identify themselves by river, or even just by their particular longhouse community.”… Ms Gavin.

The Iban are culturally identified by their language, practice the tradition of Sengalang Burong with all its customary laws and religious rituals. Therefore there is no doubt about cultural unity and uniformity.

2. “I wonder how and when your family came to migrate to Singapore and the suits and ties and batik sarongs and kabayas of your family photo.”… MAC

They taught that we are still backward people … still living on trees, adorn lions clothes, way of life restricted by taboos etc. They never know that Saribas is the cradle of Iban Culture and pioneer of Iban modernisation for the last 100 years (4 generations).

on July 26, 2009 at 5:26 am | Reply Vernon Kedit-Jolly


Please could you have a look and comment accordingly.


on July 27, 2009 at 12:45 pm | Reply gnmawar

Excellent work on your research. I could use your research materials to beef up more informations on the subject in my blog. Indeed Ragam was the first Iban lady to teach the Iban how to dye cotton tread using “enselup”. Then came the people of Gelong (Kumang) who taught the iban the finest art of weaving clothes for various use (domestic and ceremonial attire or clothes, etc). This was followed by Dara Tinchin Temaga (Daughter of Sengalang Burong) who taught the Iban women how to make various types of Pua Kumbu for religious rituals like various stages of Gawai Burong, Gawai Umai, Gawai Sakit, Gawai Kenyalang, Gawai Batu, Gawai Tajau, Gawai Pangkong Tiang, etc. Thus from beginner to master weavers, there must be various learning stages. Only the master weaver can do their own invention or design of which few can achieve this status. This is on top of their capability to weave those Pua Kumbu used in major iban Gawai thus attain their spiritual fulfillment by weaving patterns or design motifs achieved through their dreams. It takes alot of patience and determination to be the best.



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