Gupi married Gerasi Belang Pinggang

Gupi’s marriage to Belang Pinggang:


After the death of Sera Gunting, he was succeeded as chief by his son Sera Kempat, who, according to Iban genealogies, begot Ridoh, who married Bada and begot Gupi.

When Gupi reached the age of fourteen her parents ceremonially secluded her in a special place in the loft, a practice called the ngumbong anak.

After Gupi had been secluded in the loft for many months, her mother noticed that the girl was pregnant.

As time went on, Gupi’s pregnancy grew bigger and her parents observed the custom called bepenti to safeguard her life during delivery. She was forbidden to see any dying animal, or to eat tortoise, nor was she allowed to tie anything.

Early in the morning after Gupi had delivered her child, a man was seen sitting at Bada’s gallery. He was a very handsome young man and Bada asked where he came from. The young man said that he had come from a far country to be with Gupi when she gave birth to her child. Besides telling Bada this, he said that it was he who had sent them the ginger, fish and logs for Gupi’s use during her confinement. Bada in turn told him that he and his wife had gotten a bad reputation because of their daughter’s pregnancy and their ignorance of the man responsible.


“You need not worry about that”, said the stranger, “for the child is mine, and accordingly Gupi is my wife, for she has made use of the things I sent her”.


“This is very good news to us,” said Bada, “for if you are really the child’s father, we are indeed very much relieved and happy”.


Bada straightaway asked the young man if the marriage feast (melah pinang) could be held as soon as possible. The young man agreed to marry Gupi in the proper way provided that they present him the following articles:


1. Bunga pinang, literally the “areca flower”.


2. A brass cannon, which represents a bridge to cross the many rivers from his far country to that of his wife.


3. A blowpipe which represents the rail of the bridge.


He explained to Bada and his wife why he requested these articles:


1. The marriage feast will be known as melah pinang which means to split the areca-nut. If the areca-tree has no flowers, the marriage will not be successful.


2. A bridge is needed, because a young man coming from a far country must cross many rivers. Without a bridge he cannot cross them and his guiding spirit will not be with him.


3. The bridge must be railed because without it, his guiding spirit will be afraid to cross.


After his explanation, Bada and Ridoh agreed to give the young man the things he requested. Next day Bada gathered the people together in order to celebrate the marriage of his daughter Gupi with the young stranger.


After the marriage, Gupi’s husband became a popular man among his father-in-law’s people. He liked to work, play and joke with his friends. The only thing which puzzled them was that he carefully avoided being seen by anyone when he bathed.

At the bathing place, it was his custom to bathe alone behind a huge boulder just below the others in the river. This boulder was called the “Batu Belang Pinggang” and is situated in the Skrang River, a branch of Batang Lupar.

But after this Gupi became curious. One afternoon at bathing time, she hid herself fairly close to the place where he usually took his bath. Eventually when he bathed, Gupi saw that the skin round his waist was quite white. She kept still and when he had finished bathing he returned to the house.


They spoke long that night. He thanked them for the kindness they had shown him all the years he had lived among them. At last be told them that his name was Gerasi Belang Pinggang and that he belonged to a demon family whose dwelling place is far away at the edge of the sky.


Just before he returned home, Gerasi Belang Pinggang bestowed on his son Geraman the affectionate nickname of “Ensoh”, because Geraman breathed hard whenever he spoke, an action called ngesoh in Iban. He also urged his wife and her parents to look after the boy properly. He wanted him to be well-versed in the rules given by Puntang Raga to Serapoh, by Sengalang Burong to Sera Gunting, as well as by himself to all of those who had heard him. He wished his son to follow his advice. Thus, from this time onward, an Iban wishing to marry a woman from another river should demand from his bride’s parents the articles representing the spiritual rail and bridge.

Later, after his father had gone, Geraman succeeded his grandfather as chief of the Iban community. He memorized all the customs and family trees of his people, so that the observances connected with them could be properly followed.



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