Mujah “Buah Raya” of the Entabai.
Mujah “Buah Raya” was a famous warleader of the Entabai Iban from the 1840s to the 1860s. Because of his bravery and leadership in war he was given the title of Penglima by Sharif Masahor of Mukah.
Penglima Mujah came from the Skrang. In about 1840 he migrated to the Saribas and lived temporarily at the foot of Sadok Mountain, farming the lands in the upper Spak tributary. When living in the Spak, “Buah Raya” frequently visited the Saribas warleaders, such as Igoh apai Lamban of the upper Layar, Unal “Bulan” of the lower Spak and the Orang Kaya Pemancha Dana “Bayang” of the Padeh, where he studied general interpretations of omens and the tactics of war. After he had obtained considerable knowledge of warfare, Mujah “Buah Raya” thought it was no longer worthwhile for him to remain in the Saribas country where a number of warleaders were already living. With this thought in mind he paid a visit to an Iban named Encharang who lived in the upper Anyut tributary of the Paku River. On his arrival very few people in the house recognised him.
That evening the usual gathering to honour a visitor was held for him on Encharang’s communal galley. He stayed in Encharang’s house for several days. During a conversation with Majang (or Balai), the son of Encharang, Mujah told him that the purpose of his visit was to ask for the hand of Andak. Andak was the daughter of Encharang and his wife Belayau, and, of course, the sister of Majang. Encharang said that he would agree to his daughter’s marriage, if Mujah “Buah Raya” and his family moved from the Spak to live with his wife in the same longhouse at a place now called Tembawai Tingkah.
Some time later in his conversation with the people of the Anyut, Mujah “Buah Raya” related to them that the main reason of his migration from the Skrang to the Spak was to extend the territory possessed by the Iban. But instead of being interested in his plan, he said, the chiefs Unal “Bulan” and Igoh apai Lamban were only interested in warfare. They did not care about obtaining more lands for the Iban community to live in. He admitted that he was also interested in warfare, as it was one of an Iban man’s aims to become a warleader or a renowned warrior, but as far as he was concerned at that time he would very much like to become a migration leader to new land outside the areas which the Iban occupied in the Batang Lupar and Saribas rivers.
Therefore he suggested to them that they should follow him to look for new lands in the upper Entabai, a tributary of the Kanowit, which adjoins the upper Layar lands. He said that due to the emptiness of the lands in the upper Entabai and Kanowit rivers, any permanent settlements there would be very safe. With regard to the small numbers of Paku and Krian Bukitan who had settled in the Julau, Mujah “Buah Raya” felt sure that with Iban migration to the country they would no longer wander as nomads as they now did, but would re¬group for safety in one locality in the lower Julau River.
Furthermore, Mujah “Buah Raya” suggested that after they had settled permanently in the new country, the Iban should be friendly with the Bukitan, in order to use them, as they had been used by the Paku chiefs in past centuries, to defend themselves from the hostile Punan, Ukit, Beliun and people of other races along the Rejang and its tributaries.
The people of Anyut could not be persuaded to leave their lands to migrate to the Entabai, nor would any member of Mujah “Buah Raya” wife’s family agree to do so. Not only did his wife Andak refuse to migrate with him but she divorced him. As this separation was not because of a quarrel, but by mutual consent, both Mujah “Buah Raya” and Andak, as custom required, exchanged rings (tinchin kuntu) to prove the sincerity of their sarak sempekat divorce.
After his divorce from Andak, the daughter of Encharang of the Anyut, Mujah “Buah Raya” looked for another Paku girl who was prepared to follow him and be his wife in the upper Makop, a tributary of the Entabai. In spite of Mujah’s bravery, courage and handsome stature, no Paku girl of the lower river and Anyut tributary had the courage to leave her country and travel to the new lands where Mujah wished to settle. At that time all countries west and north of the Saribas were considered far places by the Iban community. So, Mujah “Buah Raya” went to Penom to ask a girl named Mapong to be his wife. But neither she nor her parents would agree, due to the distance of the country to which Mujah “Buah Raya” wished to take her.
During his stay of several years at Ulu Anyut, Mujah “Buah Raya’”s family had success¬fully gathered a great amount of rice which they sold or lent to the needy. A certain poor woman named Jerinah could not pay her debt to Mujah “Buah Raya’”s family before the eve of their departure for Entabai. Under the circumstances, she might have become the slave of her creditor. However to keep her from becoming Mujah “Buah Raya’”s slave, a man named Tamin paid her debt, so that she automatically become a low class member of the latter’s family.
Eventually, after Mujah “Buah Raya” had finished with his preparations to migrate, he led those who would follow him along the Keladan range and on to the range of hills between the source of Ngiau and Jaloh and between Jaloh and Penom. From the later hill they travelled to the hills which separate the sources of the Layar and Entabai rivers. While “Buah Raya” and his followers lived in this locality, they were joined by people from the upper Layar. At this time the Ulu Layar warleaders Igoh apai Lamban and his fighters attacked the Bukitan. Igoh appointed Mujah “Buah Raya” to become joint leader of the expedition, and as a result of this attack the Bukitan who lived in the upper Entabai, Julau, Entaih and Kanowit rivers began to group together in a single locality in the lower Kanowit river.
After the war with the Bukitan was over, Mujah “Buah Raya” decided to move further downriver with his followers. They settled at the mouth of the Engkaup. While they were building their longhouse here, some of the warriors returned to their house in the upper Entabai to look after their women and children. Mujah “Buah Raya” directed that if the enemy attacked the longhouse, these warriors were to take the women and children back to safety in the upper Layar.
After “Buah Raya” and his people had lived at Engkaup for several years, they decided to move further downriver. But before doing this, due to the hospitality of the Bukitan, they first spied out a place called Nanga Namangu where they intended to build their house. The pematau (spies) went down the Entabai in two long canoes. On their arrival at the mouth of Namangu tributary, the spies slept in their boats for fear of a Bukitan ambush.
After they had built the house, they returned upriver to fetch their wives and children. But when they arrived, they found that a lot of newcomers had gathered there, who wished to migrate with them and settle in the new country.
That evening Mujah “Buah Raya” held a meeting in which he criticised the tactics of the Saribas warleaders who had attacked a lot of places southeast of Sarawak towards Pontianak, but had not taken them over for settlement. He warned his people not to copy Saribas tactics while following him. Mujah “Buah Raya” also told his people to build two large warboats in which to fight the enemy in the new country. As he said he had dreamed that if Kumang the goddess did not fail him this new country, the Kanowit district, would be his. Soon after the warboats were completed, Mujah “Buah Raya” and his leading warriors went to the Layar and Paku asking for steel to be made into the sangkoh, berayang, perambut, bujak and berayang betuok spears for war. He explained that with these weapons they could defeat their enemies and get their land. He also said that after the land had been taken over by them, it should be populated by the Layar, Paku, Skrang and Lemanak Iban. Finally, he assured his friends that he was certain to get all the Kanowit lands if during the conquest he did not attack any tribe who lived outside the Kanowit River.
Shortly after he had returned from visiting the Saribas, Uyu apai Ikum of the upper Julau visited him. Uyu was one of Mujah “Buah Raya’”s warrior. He came to ask whether the Iban of this new settlement had any enemies to fight. Mujah “Buah Raya” said that the Bukitan had gone to live together in the upper Sugai tributary and were no longer dangerous to the Iban migrants. Mujah “Buah Raya” told Uyu that only the Bukitan who lived along the main Julau River, in the Binatang, Nyelong and Sarikei rivers could be attacked. On hearing this, Uyu and other warriors repaired their warboats. Early next morning before the force left for war, the woman and maidens rubbed the boats with guru oil and tepus, and long rolls of the sweet scented balong fruits were tied by coloured strings to the top of the boats to encourage the fighting men.
After two nights on the way, they reached the mouth of the Julau River where they raided an unprepared enemy village and killed and captured many of the enemy. But as the raid was completed early in the afternoon, the warriors urged Mujah “Buah Raya” to attack the Segalang and Rajang villages inside the Kanowit River. So they attacked these as well and killed and captured many of the enemy. During these attacks none of Mujah “Buah Raya’”s warriors were killed or even wounded. After their successful raids against these villages, Mujah “Buah Raya” and his fighters returned home to celebrate an enchaboh arong festival in honour of the head trophies they had taken.
After this conquest was over, Mujah “Buah Raya” often led his followers to attack the Lugat, Bukitan, Rajang, Seru and Melanau at, and northwest of, the mouth of the Rejang. It was due to Mujah “Buah Raya’”s successful attacks on these tribes that today the Layar, Lemanak, and Skrang inhabit the Kanowit, Sarikei, Sibu and Binatang districts. Besides this, Mujah “Buah Raya” helped Unggat and Gerinang subdue their enemies in the Rejang and Baleh rivers in order to secure these lands for the Iban migrants who came from the Batang Ai and Batang Kanyau rivers.
Extract from articles originally written by Benedict Sandin & Professor Clifford Sather.
Re-compile for weblog publication by Gregory Nyanggau Mawar.
Published in the Sarawak Musuem Journal, Volume XLVI, titled “Source of Iban Traditional History”, Part 1, 2 & 3.