Uyut “Bedilang Besi” – The origin of gawai diri, adat berumah panjai and timang jalong

When Uyut “Bedilang Besi” (“Iron Hearth”) and Awang were chiefs of the lower and upper Paku respectively, they made a common set of rules for building longhouses:

1. All longhouses must be built on the bank of the main river, so that their inhabitants shall be able to bathe and draw drinking water easily from it;
2. No land owner shall stop the members of the community from building a longhouse on his land;
3. No member of the longhouse may plant fruit trees further than five fathoms from either side of the longhouse;
4. In case the longhouse is abolished due to old age, all fruit trees which have been planted in the compound will be owned by the planter and his descendants.

Uyut “Bedilang Besi” was one of the most powerful war leaders of the Saribas of his time. This was because his sons, nephews and sons-in-law were all brave warriors. Due to his victories in war, Uyut held a grand festival of gawai diri at Lubok Jalu above the mouth of the Lingit stream in the Anyut watershed. At this feast he made a Rhinoceros hornbill statue which was later burnt together with the Senunok longhouse, in 1944.

It was because of his importance that Bedilang changed the old tradition of drinking the holy wine for the Gawai Antu festival. He and his sons and sons-in-law refused to drink this wine, unless it was handed to them with timang jalong songs to praise their bravery in war. Thus it was from Bedilang’s request that the songs of timang jalong originated at this time, and have been sung at all Gawai Antu festivals to the present day.

From the days of Bedilang up to those of his great grandson who was named after him (Uyut), the Paku Iban were continually at war with the Sebuyau and the Balau Dayaks of the lower Batang Lupar river, as well as with the Seru of the Krian and Beliun of the Rejang.


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