Enggau pengaga ati serta basa besai, aku GNMawar ngelalu ka bala kitai Iban ka deka nguji mantai ka jako sempama tau ka rambai jako ti tau di kunsi ka kitai enggau pangan diri.

“Kelala buah ari langgu, Kelala bansa ari jaku, Kelala basa ari penyiru”….. Bechuan ka jako sempama tu, aku arap ka bala pemacha maioh sama-sama ngulur ka penemu diri enggau manah awak ka tau dikena anembiak kitai Iban dudi hari ila. Terima Kasih.

Definition of some ritual terms used in Adat Iban 1993:
Note: A.J.N. Richards’ 1981 Iban-English Dictionary has been used as a guide in the definitions of these ritual terms.


“Abi Besi” means the first token of cutting a virgin jungle to establish the right of ownership on the land for the first time (panggul berumpang kampung) and secondly it means the first token of cutting of the under-growth on the first day of the beginning of the farming season (panggul bumai temuda). It also means the mutually agreed boundary between two farms. The offence of “Abi Besi” is also committed when an attempt is made to usurp someone’s land when his ‘panggul’ has been established, or to interfere with the mutually agreed boundary.

“Adat Basu Kaki” literally means cleansing of the feet. When a Ketua Masyarakat or Tuai rumah or any elder is invited by a family to sub-divide a padi farm or distribute family heir-looms including padi grains, sacred properties such as charms, engkenyang it is in accord with customs to provide such a person with genselan in the form of a fowl, a knife for kering samengat and a jar for kurung samengat. It is also customary to provide karung kerubung or sangkar of one panding or alas or money equivalent to RM2 or RM4. In this Adat Iban “Mungkul” is used.

“Anembiak” means a person or group of persons who are subjected to the ‘rule’ of a Tuai Rumah or Ketua Masyarakat and who generally respect the authority of these community leaders.

“Asi Pana” means balls of black rice placed on a parang and eaten by the chief mourner or any person appointed to perform the task. The period of taking “Asi Pana” depends on the duration of “Tungkun Api” (mourning fire) which lasts for 3 or 5 or 7 nights according to the social standing of the deceased.


“Baiya” means the various personal effects, any articles or materials provided, for the deceased.

“Balu” means widow or widower or widowed.

“Bayar Pengerusak Tubuh” means a compensation paid by a person responsible for causing bodily injury to another, whether the injury is caused by an accident or negligence.

“Bebanchak Babi” literally means spearing a pig. It is a form-of peace-making ceremony. It also performed to honor a very important guest to a festival.

“Bebiau (melaki-bini)” literally means “waving” but in this context it is understood to mean an act of waving of fowl to declare a man and a woman as husband and wife with a prayer or invocation to shower blessing upon them for a life long happiness and a prosperous union. This simple ritual can be done before a Tuai Rumah and few relatives without the pomp, the gaiety and merriment that befit the “Melah Pinang”.

“Bebuting ka Menua” means cleansing of an area. It is a ritual ceremony to cleanse a territorial area to eradicate evil forces, which were thought to have caused failure to crops, or brought epidemic and other forms of calamities to the community.

“Bedara” means performing ritual offering to ward off or appease the spirit.

“Beduruk” means practicing a system of reciprocal labor.

“Bekalih” literally means turning over. It is a ritual ceremony to permit the prohibited degree of marriage taking place between the third and fourth cousins.

“Belega” means temporary divorce within a reasonable period of time for a newly-wed couple on the ground of a bad dream or omen.

“Benda” means articles of value, articles of fines or valuable jars.

“Besapat” literally means having a partition. It is a ritual ceremony to permit the prohibited degree of marriage taking place between the second and third cousins.

“Bilik-family” means a family consisting of the parents, their children and grandparents who live in the family section of a longhouse.

“Burung” means not only omen birds but also animals, reptiles, insects and tree whose noises, behaviour or actions can be regarded as an augury. In an abstract term, it refers to augury or omenology.


“Geliga” means a special announcement made by the host or his agent during a festival or a gathering to the effect that peace and harmony must be observed during the functions. Certain Tunggu are fixed if there is a breach of what has been laid down. The offender shall also be subject to an appropriate provision of the Adat Than depending on the gravity of the offence committed.

“Genselan” means a kind of ritual propitiation provided by the offender for breach or infringement of a custom or taboo. In other words, it is a ritual offering to appease gods for any disturbances caused and to restore harmonious relation among members of the community.


“Iban” means Dayak (Sea) as defined in the Interpretation Ordinance, Cap. 1, Vol. I of the Laws of Sarawak, 1958.

“Indu Padi” is a plant called engkenyang normally of the genus of herbs of a species of crinum of the amaryllideoe and is considered sacred by each farming family. It is planted out each year on the first day before dibbling starts. It is supposed to contain the life force of the padi and the farm.

“Iya” – the pronoun “he” and its derivatives are used for any person or animal, whether male or female.


“Kampar” means an outsider or stranger who lodges temporarily as a member in a family room.

“Kepit Bangkai” means a room bounded by rooms immediately to it on both sides in which death has occurred.

“Karesan” or “Tungkal” these two terms have the same meaning. Firstly, it means a form of Tunggu against any person who is in breach of certain customary law and if during the continuation of the breach someone in a longhouse suddenly falls ill or dies any member of the sick or the deceased may demand Karesan from that person. Secondly, it is an additional Tunggu against that person and if between the impositions of a fine and its payment, someone in the longhouse falls ill or dies, the offender shall be liable to provide Karesan or Tungkal.

“Ketua Masyarakat” means “Iban community chief” such as the Penghulu, Pemanca and Temenggong who holds the appointment with the approval of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri under the terms and conditions of service for the Ketua Masyarakat (Government Circular Ref: 36/CMO/1532/1) as amended from time to time.


“Lanting” means item or items of valuable property which may be chosen by the father and mother for their security before all the bilik property is divided to its members. It may be an old jar or gong or rubber garden or a piece of land, or any other valuable property of their choice. It is inherited by whoever cares for him or her at the end of life.

“Longhouse” means a permanent building structure of a dwelling house consisting of Iban bilik-families.


“Malam” or “night-time” means the interval between six o’clock at night and six o’clock in the morning.

“Melah Pinang” literally means splitting a ‘pinang’ or areca nut an act upon which the marriage ceremony derives its name. The areca nut is split into five or seven pieces accompanied by other chewing ingredients such as, five or seven pieces of sireh leaves, gambler or lime placed on a brass tray or any other container. All the friends, relatives and elders of the community gather round the tray discussing over the binding nature of the marriage contract and other relevant adat. This ceremony is celebrated in the bride’s house amidst the pomp and gaiety of merriment.

If both parties agree to the compact, the following morning the bride is taken away to the bridegroom’s house. Like most Iban ceremonies it is not complete without the ritual of waving a fowl over their heads (known as bebiau). The bride is conducted to the bridegroom’s room and made to sit beside him. An elderly man who is considered to carry luck with him is asked to wave a life fowl over their heads, pronouncing a benediction, in front of relatives and other guests. The final rite is an act of declaration that they are husband and wife.

“Pelasi Menua” means providing propitiatory offering to cleanse the territory of evil forces, epidemic and calamities that may befall the community as a result of the commission of certain offences such as incest or any other serious crimes in a particular area.

“Mungkul” means a small jar used in olden days for settling disputes. Sometimes it is known as ‘Mukul’ or ‘Menukul’ according to what is customary to a particular area. However, mungkul has been popularised and widely used. All Tunggu in this Adat Iban are stated in “Mungkul”. One Mungkul shall be equivalent to RM1 (one Malaysian ringgit).


“Ngambi Tebalu” means performing a ritual ceremony for the release of a widow or widower from the restriction or prohibition of widowhood or widower-hood. During the gathering the deceased’s relatives shall declare in public, the appropriate ritual fees for the purpose in accordance with the social standing of the deceased. The fee is not less than 4 Mungkul but not more than 60 Mungkul.

“Ngayap” means a custom of courtship in a form of night visit by an unmarried man to an unmarried woman in the latter’s room.

“Ngeragai” means to leave the house unroofed.

“Nujah Menua” or “Ngudi Menua” means to spoil the area by committing crime, like incest or gross indecency which will bring-calamity or disaster to the area.

“Nyadap” means extracting a bamboo shoot from its clump, or one or more pieces of banana from the bunch while the palm still stands.

“Nyakap” means to throw a challenge at someone by word or action to arouse ill-feeling.

“Nyelai” means lopping a bunch of banana while the palm still stands.


“Padi Patah” or “Padi Paut” means sacred padi plants comprising three separate clumps tied together and bundled with red cotton thread below the ears to form a tri-pod shape. From this bundle few ears, 7 or 9, shall be plucked tied together and brought home after the ritual offering has been performed.

“Padi Pun” means a specially selected variety of rice seeds which has been planted for generations by the family. In the padi field it forms its nucleus or centre.

“Pandang Bangkai” means two or more rooms bounded by rooms on both sides of these middle rooms in which deaths have occurred.

“Pati Nyawa” means compensation paid by a person responsible for the death of another to the parents, wife or husband, children or relatives of the deceased, whether the death is caused by negligence or carelessness, or accident or otherwise such as by gunshot, knife, spear, explosives, poisonous substances or any other dangerous weapons.

“Payung Rumah” means the precinct or compound surrounding the Iban longhouse at least 20 fathoms wide measured from the outside post of the main building.

“Pelasi Menua” means a kind of ritual offerings and articles which when provided were supposed to avert the evil forces that would have been brought upon a country through the commission of some offences, such as incest and other major crimes.

“Pemai Anak” means a movable or immovable inherited property or a sum of money payable by the offender to each of his children who is not under his custody.

“Pemalu” means a form of settlement for hurting someone’s feeling or causing embarrassment by speech or action.

“Pemali” means prohibition or taboo.

“Peti” means a specially built structure in the form of a spring trap equipped, first with the main post. Firmly strapped to the top of the main post is a spring post with the bottom end stretched to two short posts planted close to each other on the other side of the animal track by means of a string with a toggle at the end which is attached to a grommet. From this grommet, a trip cord is stretched across the track and tied to the main post. The grommet, the toggle and the trip cord constitute the trigger mechanism.

When an animal is passing through its track and springs at the trip cord, the toggle slips from the grommet, thus releasing the spring post which is armed with a sharp bamboo blade free to strike the game at the vital part with a ferocious force. In order to strike at the vital part of the animal, an implement called “tuntun” is used to set the trip cord at the proper height. Tuntun is a stick on which the height measurements are prescribed and marked for the various types of animals.

“Punas” means childless. A person of single status or a couple, who dies without an issue or without adopting a child. A bilik family may also be regarded as “Punas” if the parties to the marriage who owned that bilik are childless and have not adopted a child before they die.


“Selabat” means cursing or swearing against someone during the course of a quarrel and if the one cursed suddenly falls ill or dies within 7 days, that person who cursed or swore may be liable for an offence of “selabat”.

“Sungkup” means a miniature hut for the soul of the dead placed over its grave.


“Tangga Pulai” means a restitution provided by a party who asked for a return of a spouse to normalise their marriage after a separation or divorce.

“Tebalu” means ritual fees or articles of fine for the release of a widow or widower from the various prohibitions or restrictions of widowhood or widowerhood.

“Tebalu Mansau” means mature release from widowhood or widowerhood. It can be declared at the end of the mutually agreed period of widowhood or widowerhood or during the festival of the dead.

“Tebalu Mata” means premature release from widowhood or widowerhood. It can be declared at any time depending on the conduct or behaviour of the widow or widowerhood during the period of widowhood or widowerhood.

“Tegeran ai” or “Garis” means a stretch of water reserved for a certain longhouse.

“Tembawai” means a site where the past longhouse was built.

“Tembawai Dampa” means a site where the past temporary longhouse was built.

“Tembawai Langkau” means a site where the past hut was built.

“Temuda” means past farming land.

“Tinggang Bangkai” means the house where a visitor or lodger (kampar) dies.

“Tua” means tutelary spirit or guardian spirit.

“Tuai Rumah” means “Chief” or “Headman” of the Iban community.

“Tunggu” means a form of restitution. Restitution covers two important ingredients of the term “tunggu”: first, it covers the idea of providing a settlement between individuals; second it covers the idea of appeasement, atonement or restoration of the physical and spiritual wellbeing of the community. There is no element of punishment.

In terms of settlement, the offender shall provide “tunggu” in the form of “mungkul”, and in terms of appeasement, atonement or restoration, the offender shall provide “genselan”, “pelasi menus”, “pati nyawa”, or whatever the case may be.


To defecate in a person’s farm is a breach against taboo, (see section 100 of the Adat Iban). The offender shall provide restitution or tunggu of 4 Mungkul and a genselan of one chicken and kering samengat.

It means that 4 Mungkul is a form of settlement to pacify the feeling of the farm-owner.

A genselan of a chicken and a kering samengat (soul strengthener) are for the appeasement or atonement of the padi spirit and the farm. They are for the restoration of the state of the souls of both the offender and the farm-owner to their normal selves for the sake of their physical and spiritual wellbeing.

“Tunggu Luya” means a restitution payable to the wife in the case of a couple where their children were all dead.

“Tunggu Tinggal” means a restitution payable to the injured party in a divorce case.

“Tungkus Asi” literally means a pack lunch. It is a token gift in consideration for the transfer of the family land ownership to his relatives. It was the practice in the old days, when an Iban migrating from one place to another the transferee had to pay the “Tungkus Asi” to the transferor as compensation for the original clearing.


“Ukum” means secular fine, a term used for offences against the rules of social behaviours.

“Ulit” means (1) a period of mourning when restrictions and prohibitions related thereto are observed. (2) Small possession of the dead and articles of tunggu are packed usually into a brass container properly fastened and kept in a safe place and are to be opened by a person specially selected to declare the end of the mourning period at an appointed time.

“Utai Redak” means small articles of tunggu such as cups and plates or small jars.


“Yang” or Iyang means tutelary spirit or guardian spirit of the Shaman (manang).

GNMawar – USB


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