The early Ulu Ai, Skrang and Lemanak Iban

The early Ulu Ai, Skrang and Lemanak Iban.

A few decades after the Undup stream had been settled by Iban under Gelungan, Jelian and Langkup, the two leaders Meringgai and Manggai moved down the Undup and went up the Skrang to settle at the mouth of the Tisak stream and at the middle of Skrang river respectively. At this time the mouth of the Skrang was already settled by Lau Moa and his followers who had come from the Sadong and lower Batang Lupar. He was probably one of the followers of Sera Bungkok who had moved from Cape Datu to settle at the mouth of the Rajang River with his brother Senaun, the father of Tugau, the Melanau ancestor. After Manggi and Meringai had migrated to the Skrang, many more migration leaders came from the Batang Ai and Undup, such as Guang who settled at Nanga Enteban, Entigar at Nanga Belaai, Chaong at Tanjong Lipat and Sudok and his brother Malang at Lubok Numpu and later Manggai (see below) and Tindin the son of Chaong who migrated to the Saribas to join his daughter Rinda, who married Demong the son of the Bukitan chief Entinggi of the Paku.

In the Batang Ai, a certain chief at Seremat named Bau married Selangka (f) by whom he begot Chandu (f), Sentu (f), Buja, Mawan, Pagan, Gemong and Lanyi (f). After Chandu had married Gallau, the son of Mawar Biak of Entanak, Saribas, her brothers and sisters left Seremat to migrate up and down the Batang Lupar. Niok, her husband and children moved to Nanga Lubang Baya in the upper Ai. It was from here that their descendants, Naga and Sumping migrated to the Kanyau in Kalimantan and from here later migrated to the Katibas to become the first Iban to settle in that river. After their death they were succeeded as chiefs of the Rejang Iban by their descendants Unggat, Matahari, Gerinang and Keling, ancestors of the recent Penghulus Jinggut, Kumbong and Jimbun of the Baleh.

Mawan and his children migrated to the Ulu Lingga and settled with the Dau and Balau Dayaks, while Buja and his family moved to the upper Ai to settle at Nanga Buie. Their brother Sentu moved down the Batang Ai to live at Nanga Kumpang, while another brother named Gemong moved up the river to live in the Delok tributary. Pagan lived at the Mepi stream. He was the ancestor of Rabai, the wife of the famous Batang Ai war leader, the late Penghulu Ngumbang of Mepi.

Geographically Lemanak country is located between the areas settled by the Batang Ai and Batang Skrang Iban. Due to its location, the people of Lemanak suffered incessant hardship because of conflicts between the people of Skrang and the Batang Ai, who fought in the Lemanak country. For this reason the Lemanak was never fully populated by the Iban. Many times, when the Batang Ai warriors failed in attacking the Skrangs, or vice versa, war parties simply satisfied them¬selves by killing the defenseless Lemanak Iban. In the early days of Brooke rule, when the Batang Ai chief Ngumbang quarrelled with Genam of the Skrang, the people who suffered most from the quarrel were the Lemanaks. Similarly when Saang the nephew of Linggir “Mali Lebu” of Paku murdered the Seriang Iban, the Iban of Lemanak also suffered considerably, since the Seriang and the Saribas Iban fought each other in their country in the 1870s.

Due to these endless hardships, the Lemanak Iban migrated to other rivers without the knowledge of their own leaders, and settled apart from each other in the Kanowit, Julau and Nyelong rivers. The majority of them settled in the lower Julau. On their way to these rivers, they often stopped one or two years in the upper Saribas to farm the Layar peoples’ lands. But because the Saribas country was fully inhabited since the days of Patinggi Ngadan, there was no more room for these unsettled Lemanak Iban to live permanently; so they left for the Rejang area.

Early in this century when Ngumbang and Bantin attacked the Lemanak Iban at Sebiau, they killed or captured seventy-two of them. Because of this defeat, Apai Jelema and his followers migrated to the Sabelak where they settled with their friends who had worked as fortmen at Kubong in the 1880s. The latter had settled at Roban, in the Sabelak, a right tributary of the Krian River.



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