The Story of Penghulu Chulo “Tarang”


The Story of Penghulu Chulo “Tarang”.

Penghulu Chulo “Tarang”, who was also known as Begarak, was one of the great warriors of the Paku, during the times of Chief Linggir “Mali Lebu”. On his maternal side he was descended from chief Saang and was a great grandson of Malang of Serudit, who was called Pengarah. The reason why Pengarah and his descendants lived at Serudit is related in a book called The Sea Dayaks of Borneo before White Rajah Rule (1967a: 39).

When he was a young bachelor, on the way to visit a girl friend at night, Chulo met a huge demon (antu gerasi) standing in the road in front of him. His teeth were as big as maram palm fruit. Chulo caught the demon suddenly and wrestled with him. As they wrestled, the demon suddenly vanished. So Chulo continued his journey to the girl’s house. That night while Chulo slept with his friends in the girl’s long-house, he dreamed of a very handsome young man who came and talked with him. The young man said, “How was it you dared to wrestle with me? In the past, no one has ever dared to wrestle against me. As you defeated me, from now on you will kill enemies in wars. You will also become rich because of your success in planting padi. You will be able to buy many old jars, which the people of your race value highly.” The demon assured Chulo that although he would become a very brave and strong warrior, he would never become a warleader. Instead he would serve as a leading warrior under someone else’s command.

The demon told Chulo that he lived on the summit of Bukit Buloh in the Paku River watershed and looked after the fate of the Paku people. After the young man had spoken these words, Chulo woke up and found it was all a dream. After this dream Chulo became a very brave warrior and fought under chief Linggir “Mali Lebu” of Paku. To start his fighting career Chulo “Tarang”, together with Ramping of Samu and Entemang of the Rimbas decided to attack the Beliun who then lived along the Sarikei River and who had been attacked previously by Ugat of Paku, as mentioned in an earlier chapter. As they began their attack on a Beliun house, before they could kill more than two enemies, Ramping was badly wounded on the thigh. Seeing this, Chulo and his friends stopped fighting in order to carry Ramping to safety. On their homeward journey, they finished their provisions just as they came to the foot of Tabujang hill. Due to this they grew weak with hunger. So they hid Ramping inside a cave at Tabujang hill, in order that the hostile Seru would not find and slay him while they returned home for more provisions.

They returned in haste to the Rimbas with the Beliun heads in order to inform their friends of their successful raid. They told the people the news of Ramping’s wound. When the Rimbas people heard this they sympathised with Ramping. After he had collected enough people to help him, Chulo “Tarang” led them to Tabujang hill to fetch Ramping. When they reached the cave, they found that Ramping was safe, though his large wound had been eaten by worms. They later brought him to a safer place to be looked after by his friends.

After Ramping’s recovery, Chulo “Tarang” and Entemang with other warriors went again to raid the Beliun village on the Sarikei River. When they came to the River bank opposite the village, Chulo “Tarang” and Entemang swam across the stream to spy out the position of the enemy. While they were swimming Entemang was caught by a crocodile and disappeared. Seeing this, Chulo “Tarang” returned to inform his friends of Entemang’s death.

After relating what had occurred, Chulo “Tarang” urged his companions to search Entemang’s body. In spite of their sadness over Entemang’s death, none of them dared do so, as the spot where their friend had disappeared was just opposite the pangkalan, or landing place, of the enemy. So Chulo “Tarang” and the others returned to fetch Ramping and bring him back to the Rimbas.

Two weeks after they had returned from the warpath, some of Entemang’s relatives came to Paku to accuse Chulo “Tarang” of slaying Entemang. They said that Chulo “Tarang”’s story about Entemang’s death was false. Chulo “Tarang” strongly denied this. The Paku warriors who had joined the war party strongly sided with Chulo “Tarang”. But the Rimbas people said that they had heard rumours from Sarikei that the body of Entemang had been found. On the corpse, according to these rumours, was a wound as if he had been killed by a spear. The people of Rimbas said that Entemang must have been killed by Chulo “Tarang”’s spear as no one else was with him at the time of the accident. Chulo “Tarang” strongly denied the Rimbas people’s accusation which was only based on rumour. “If you have not seen the wound on Entemang’s body yourselves, you must not believe a baseless story,” said Chulo “Tarang”.

The Rimbas people returned. But later they sent a messenger to inform Chulo “Tarang” that they wanted him to prove his innocence in a diving contest against them. “If Tarang refuses to settle this dispute by diving against us”, said the messenger, “it is certain that he is the slayer of Entemang.” Knowing that he was not guilty, Chulo “Tarang” promptly accepted the challenge.32 He told the messenger that the diving contest should be held in a month’s time, as both sides must be given sufficient time to look for divers to champion their cause. As he was looking for a diver to dive for him, Chulo “Tarang” found that Apai Enchalu was ready to do it for him, while his opponents engaged a man named Usut. Both men were reported to be excellent divers.

Before the contest started, the people of Rimbas invited Chulo “Tarang” to bet one tajau menaga (dragon jar), which the loser of the contest would surrender to the winner. Chulo “Tarang” said that he wanted to bet eight tajau menaga jars, not merely one, as proposed by his opponents. The Rimbas people refused Chulo “Tarang” request. They said that Chulo “Tarang” was trying to frighten them so that the diving contest would be cancelled. Chulo “Tarang” told the Rimbas people, that as he was innocent of Entemang’s death, he dared to bet them eight jars, which he knew that he would not lose*.

Many people came from the Krian in addition to those from the Rimbas and Paku, to witness the contest. Before the divers went under water, Chulo “Tarang” spoke to all the people present. He said that he was the leader who had invited Entemang and other warriors from the Rimbas to attack the Beliun village in the Sarikei River. He swore that as he was a leader of this expedition, he did not kill Entemang as his relatives believed. “Due to my innocence of the death of my most trusted warrior, Entemang, without doubt I will win this diving contest.” After Chulo “Tarang” had assured the people of his innocence, Kendawang, one of Linggir’s leading warriors from Paku asked whether the people of Rimbas wished to withdraw their accusation against Chulo “Tarang” before the diving contest took place. If they would withdraw they could do it, but if they lost the contest they would also lose their wager.

The Rimbas people said that they would not withdraw their accusation. They wanted to bet Chulo “Tarang” six menaga jars and not eight as he had suggested. Chulo “Tarang” agreed. After the betting was agreed to by both sides, those who sided with Chulo “Tarang” of Paku, or with his opponents of the Rimbas, began to place bets with setawak and bendai gongs. One whose name is still remembered was Encharang apai Bibay of Nanga Bangkit, Paku. Encharang bet that the Rimbas people would win the contest. Shortly before the diving contest was to start, each side asked one of their men to recite prayers to call for the Gods and universal spirits, who reside in the heavens and the water to come and see that justice was done. They prayed for them to cause the innocent to win without difficulty. The diving then started. After a short while under the water, Usut who dived for the people of Rimbas drowned, while Chulo “Tarang”’s champion, Apai Enchalu was still under the water. Due to Usut’s condition, the chiefs ordered that he be taken out of the water, which proved that the Rimbas people had lost their case.

Immediately after the case of Chulo “Tarang” had been proved by the victory of Apai Enchalu, Encharang apai Bibay snatched back the gong which he had wagered against his opponent who had sided with Chulo “Tarang” .When his opponent saw this, he and his friends followed Encharang and forced him to surrender the gong, or lose his life. Knowing that he was wrong, Encharang handed back the gong to his opponent.

When Linggir “Mali Lebu” of Paku raided Ilas and other Melanau villages in the Rajang delta, Chulo “Tarang” was one of his leading warriors. Likewise when Linggir invaded the Bukitan longhouse at Sugai in the Julau, with his great strength and bravery, Chulo captured eight captives.

At one time when Orang Kaya Rabong of the Skrang attacked the Balau Dayaks and Lingga Malays with two large warboats at Banting, Chulo and a man named Isut of Anyut joined the Skrang warriors. During the fighting, Chulo killed three enemies. Only one of the slain was beheaded by him. This was because he was more attracted by two valuable old jars he looted in one of the enemy’s rooms. Due to this success he was given the nickname of “Tarang”. When he returned to the Skrang, Chulo left the skull with Rabong, as he was satisfied to bring back to the Paku the two jars he had looted. Isut who accompanied him was a slave of Apai Jabang of Getah, Anyut. Because of his dream, Chulo “Tarang” never became a great warleader except when leading his small band of warriors in raids or “little wars” (kayau anak).

In Paku, Chulo “Tarang” married a woman named Siah who bore him a son named Tandok. The latter and his family migrated to the Sabelak and settled at Kedoh. After the death of Siah, Chulo “Tarang” married Dinggu, a daughter of Ramping “Gumbang” of Tawai in the Rimbas by whom he had three sons and four daughters whose names were: Ngadan, Unggit, Dungkong (f), Lanjing (f), Gulang (f), Insin (f) and Tujoh.

From Nanga Tawai, due to a squabble with his cousins, the Orang Kaya Linggang and his brothers, Ramping “Gumbang” and his son-in-law Chulo “Tarang” and his family moved up the Rimbas River and settled at Nanga Ulai on the lower part of the Bay or tributary. From Nanga Ulai, due to the lack of land for planting padi, Gumbang and Chulo “Tarang” migrated to the Krian and settled at Kumpai. This migration took place slightly later than that of Enchana “Letan” and his followers who, as described in an earlier section, migrated from the Paku to the Awik.

After the death of his father-in-law, Chulo “Tarang” was appointed the first penghulu to rule the upper Krian watershed by the Second Rajah of Sarawak. Two of Chulo “Tarang” sons, Ngadan and Unggit, were brave warriors together with two of his sons-in-law, Kandau and Ngindang of Paku.

When Penghulu Minggat and Chulo “Tarang” were appointed Penghulus of the lower and upper Krian, none of the people who were settled at the foot of the Embuas rapids and further up the Krian had yet submitted themselves to the Brooke Raj. Due to the general unrest in the Krian, the Rajah led a punitive expedition against them. He warned all those who wished to submit to his rule to live either with Penghulu Minggat at Awik or with Chulo “Tarang” at Kumpai. After this declaration was made, the people at the mouth of the Kabo tributary and the people in the Budu stream fled to the upper Senulau in order to resist the Rajah’s troops at Bukit Batu. But before they fled, they had sent their women and children of the Julau, to Ulu Awik.

Not many warriors from the Layar, Paku, Rimbas and the lower Krian joined the Rajah’s force. Those who did only did so to please the government. Before the expedition actually took place many people of the lower Krian and the Saribas secretly warned their friends to run away to safety. Therefore during the expedition only the Skrang warriors really fulfilled their pledge. Even then, their approaches to the rebels were always blocked by the Saribas warriors who wanted to protect their friends from attack.

But the Balau warriors who went up the main Krian River by boat attacked the hostile people of Nanga Kabo. In this raid that small longhouse was defeated; its site became a cemetery and is still used as such by the Iban of the area to this day. During the attack, most of the inhabitants were away downriver attending a funeral at a village called Kerangan and therefore escaped. As a result of the raid, the people above Nanga Kabo in the main Krian scattered. Some fled to join the enemy under Janting and Ranggau of the Julau, while others offered their submission to the government. Seeing that some of these people were still hostile, the Rajah ordered Penghulu Minggat of Awik to raid all those who had fled to the upper Kanowit and Mujok and who had allied themselves with the hostile Katibas Iban gathered at the upper Kamalih and Stulak hill near the headwaters of the Kanowit.

At this time the infamous Libau “Rentap” was living at Stulak having left Lanja Mountain where he had fled after his defeat at Sadok in 1861. Due to this Krian-Katibas unrest, the aged Libau “Rentap” moved away to the range of hills lying between the headwaters of Kabo, Awik, Julau, Sarikei and Binatang Rivers, where he died of old age and was honourably enshrined in a belian tomb (lumbong) on the summit of Bukit Sibau.

Shortly after Libau “Rentap” death, Ranggau succeeded to the leadership of the rebels and built a stronghold at Bukit Dugan on the headwaters of the Ensiring. Before the stronghold was completed the Rajah ordered Penghulu Minggat to attack it. Hearing rumours of Penghulu Minggat’s campaign preparations the enemy became divided. Those who continued to rebel followed Ranggau to Bukit Dugan, while those who were sick of such a hard wartime life returned to live safely at the Entabai.

From the main Kanowit River Penghulu Minggat led his force overland towards the head¬waters of the Ensiring tributary. From this point he raided enemy longhouses as he moved down the river. When he arrived at the mouth of Ensiring, he waited for some of his leading warriors who had gone off on their own to attack the enemy living away from the main route. After all the warriors had finally gathered at the place where Penghulu Minggat and the main force were waiting, he counted the head trophies and the captives that his warriors had taken. The victims totalled 81 heads and 4 captives.

Shortly after Penghulu Minggat had attacked the Ensiring, Janting and Ranggau of the Julau again began to build a stronghold at Bukit Dugan which was situated at the head¬waters of the Mujok, Ensiring and Katibas Rivers. When he learned of this the Rajah ordered Penghulu Minggat of Awik, Chief Linggir “Mali Lebu” of Paku and Entering apai Nawai of Julau to attack it with forces from the Paku, Rimbas, Krian, Awik, Sebetan and Sabelak. Chief Linggir “Mali Lebu” then led his warriors from the Paku and Rimbas to join Penghulu Minggat and his followers and proceed to the Julau to summon Entering and his fighting men.

From the upper Julau the force went downriver by boat and then up the Kanowit, staying one night at Nanga Mujok. At this point the first council of war was held to decide upon the most suitable route towards Bukit Dugan. During the discussion, the opinions of the warleaders and their leading warriors were divided. Some proposed to go up the Mujok and others to go up the Ensuing which had recently been attacked by Penghulu Minggat. Finally, following the advice of the Julau guides the route through the Mujok was agreed upon. Early next day, the force went up the Mujok to the mouth of the Sugai stream. When they arrived at the Sugai, the guides led the party on by foot further upstream to see the dangerous and winding rapids which they would encounter next day. Once there, they discovered many fresh tracks made by the enemy, undoubtedly spying on their advance.

That night, the warleaders asked the guides whether the rapids were passable by big boats. They advised that only the smaller boats could negotiate the rapids as they were extremely dangerous. Hearing this, the warleaders asked the distance from the rapids to the last point upriver where boats could still be used. The guides said that the last station was Nanga Tiga still far away; they would be two nights on the trail. At this advice from the guides, Penghulu Minggat ordered the force to stay one more day at the mouth of the Sugai in order to learn from the guides the exact location of Bukit Dugan. The guides said that Bukit Dugan was a lofty, steep hill situated between the headwaters of the Mujok and Ensiring of the Kanowit, and the sources of the Katibas, Poi and Machan Rivers on the northeast. The guides thought that the entire enemy’s wives, children and valuable property must have been sent away by now to a safe place in the upper Katibas. Besides this information, the guides told the warleaders that the enemies who defended their stronghold were from the upper Julau and the upper Layar, some were warriors of the famous hostile chief Kedu “Lang Ngindang” of the Nanga Bunu, and many others came from Merurun and the upper Katibas under Enjop.

Linggir then asked Penghulu Minggat about the other places which the Rajah has asked them to attack in addition to the enemy’s stronghold on the Dugan Hill. Penghulu Minggat told Linggir that the Rajah had only ordered them to raid the hostile people along the Ensiring tributary and the two longhouses in the Mujok stream together with those who had gone up to Bukit Dugan. “If we kill other people,” said Penghulu Minggat, “we will be responsible for the consequences”.

Considering the difficulty of the rapids, Entering suggested that the party should leave their boats at Nanga Sugai. He thought it would be less strenuous, to walk from that point slowly to Nanga Tiga than to proceed by boat. This suggestion was unanimously accepted by the other warleaders. Having agreed to go overland to Nanga Tiga, Penghulu Minggat suggested that twelve trusted warriors act as scouts (pengeratnbing) going ahead of the main force, six on eadii side of the river bank. Linggir promptly approved Penghulu Minggat’s arrangement. But he advised him to warn the scouts not to attack the enemy if they saw them. “Instead of attacking them, they must stop and wait for the arrival of the main force”.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Entering appointed his warrior Tandang and two others to proceed as scouts on behalf of the Julaus. On behalf of the Awik and Krian, Penghulu Minggat directed his son Munan and Luna “Panggau” of Sabelak to choose some more warriors to accompany them. On behalf of the Pakus and Rimbas, Linggir directed his son-in-law Penghulu Garran “Lembang Batu”, Juing and Ajan “Sanggol Langit” to act as scouts, and finally on behalf of the Krians Chulo “Tarang” took the lead with Adu apai Jingan and Telajan of Dassay.

After a morning meal, the three warleaders assisted by Chulo “Tarang”, asked each other about their dreams of the night before. It was found that all was well with them. Then Penghulu Minggat and Chulo “Tarang” ordered that all boats should be put on the river bank before they started to march towards Nanga Tiga. When this was done, the twelve scouts marched ahead of the main force. During the march, some new marks made by the enemy were found by the scouts, but none of these showed any sign of an enemy ambush. When they reached a place called Letong Tibak, halfway between the mouth of Sugai and Nanga Tiga, the force stopped for the night. From this place the scouts travelled further up to guard the force from a possible surprise attack.

While the scouts were away, the warriors erected temporary huts for a one-night stay. Late in the evening the scouts returned to the troop and the warleaders asked them the news of their day’s work. The scouts told them that they had used four routes (three scouts going together along each route) but they had not encountered any enemy. Due to this, they thought that the enemy would not dare to attack them while they were advancing to attack the stockade in two day’s time. That evening after eating, a council of war was held on a huge gravel bed at Nanga Maong. Penghulu Minggat asked Linggir what would be the right time for them to start marching next morning. Linggir said that it would be good to proceed to Nanga Tiga immediately after they had taken their morning meal. Hearing this, Entering suggested that if the troop’s provisions were enough for several more days delay before the attack on the stockade at Bukit Dugan, they should detour to look for the wandering enemy in the vicinity of the sources of the Ensuing and Mujok Rivers. Penghulu Minggat could not agree with Entering’s suggestion so he commanded that the force proceed to Nanga Tiga immediately after an early breakfast next morning.

During the meeting neither Chulo “Tarang” of Krian nor Entering of Julau was very happy, because a considerable number of their followers had joined the enemy at Bukit Dugan. After the time had been fixed for them to break camp next day, Penghulu Minggat selected twenty-one of the bravest warriors from the Paku, Rimbas, Krian, Awik, Sabelak and Julau Rivers to take the lead in attacking the enemy’s stockade.

Next morning the force left Nanga Maong. The leading warriors marched ahead of the main force, having been told that they were not to attack the enemy should the latter try to ambush them on the way. Instead of attacking them, these warriors were instructed to retreat to the main force for the sake of safety; but they were permitted to kill unarmed farmers if, by chance, they met them in their rice fields. This was in order to prevent them from informing the enemy at Bukit Dugan. While the force was marching, they passed several huge felled trees (pengerebah) which had been felled to obstruct boat passage on the Mujok River in order to hinder any advance upriver, should they have proceeded by boat. It was told later that these obstructions had been made by an enemy named Andum. That is why the gravel bed where Andum and his friends made the obstructions is called Kerangan Andum to this day.

From Kerangan Andum the party marched on to Nanga Tiga, which was also called Nanga Japiyan, where they stayed one night. As soon as they had arrived at this place a camp was erected, and the other warriors went out into the surrounding jungle to guard against a surprise attack. Those who were building the camp were strictly forbidden to cook lest the smoke be seen by the enemy from their stockade on the nearby hill.

Early that night a council-of-war was held. This time Penghulu Minggat arranged that the force be divided into three columns. Each column was to march along the middle, right and left paths which led to the enemy’s stockade. Besides these about two dozen warriors were needed to act as scouts marching on the left and right sides of the three columns of warriors. Next morning, the attack on the stockade was to commence. All the warriors were to proceed in accordance with the programme agreed on in the night’s conference. Linggir, Penghulu Minggat and Entering marched behind the leading warriors up the central path with a stronger force bringing up the rear. On their way to the stockade they discovered a lot of fresh marks made by the enemy that very morning. But when they reached the building, they found only a completely empty stronghold. Eventually after they had inspected every part of the stockade and its compound, they found that it was too late to return back to camp the same day. So they stayed the night on the mountain top with the majority of them sitting without shelter. In the evening, while the warriors were cooking their food both inside and outside the stockade, a storm and heavy rain came, making it very difficult to do the cooking. The heavy rain poured down till morning.
After the rain had ceased, Penghulu Minggat called for a meeting in which he informed the warriors with regret that the expedition had now ended fruitlessly. So the force returned following the same route along which they had advanced.

In his later years, due to his diligence in planting padi, Penghulu Chulo “Tarang” grew very wealthy. A great number of Iban came to purchase padi from him year after year. They bought padi with jarlets (kebok), brass trays (tabak), ivory armlets (simpai rangki), oval beads (pelaga), corsets (rawai), large and small bells (gerunong and geri), gongs of various sizes such as the setawak, bendai, and engkerumong. At this time very few people had money. Due to his wealth Chulo “Tarang” was able to bequeath a great deal of valuable property to his children. To three of his daughters, Dungkong, Insin and Gulang, he gave one sergiu and one menaga jar and one bedil cannon each. To Tujoh the youngest child he gave only one menaga jar.

Late in the 1870s Penghulu Chulo “Tarang” was the first Iban chief in the Krian region to be convened to Christianity. It was due to his early contact with European Anglican missionaries that he became the first man in Second Division to build a large house with huge belian posts. These posts are to this day still used by his family at Kumpai. It was due to this building, according to Iban belief, that Penghulu Chulo “Tarang” died in 1887, before the house was completed.

After OKP Dana “Bayang” died in 1854, Aji in 1858 and Linggir “Mali Lebu” in 1875, OKP Nanang, Penghulu Minggat and Penghulu Chulo “Tarang” became the senior Iban chiefs whose fighting skills were called upon to quell the rebellions in the upper Rajang and the upper Batang Ai Rivers.

During the Rajah’s expedition against Bukit Batu at Ulu Mujong in the Baleh, the Second Rajah invited only Chulo “Tarang” and his warriors, together with Penghulu Minggat and his warriors, to become leaders on the warpath. Before the fighting began the Rajah asked Chulo “Tarang” and Penghulu Minggat to persuade chief Janting of Kanowit to surrender. Thus Chulo “Tarang” and Penghulu Minggat, with their warrior sons, brothers and sons-in-law, went to meet Janting. When they reached the foot of the Bukit Batu, they found that the enemy had already laid an ambush for the Rajah’s fighting men. Of these, Janting was one of the leading enemy warriors. Shortly after they came to the foot of the mountain they were attacked by the enemy. During the alarm (begau), Kandau and Ngindang “Mumpang Pali”, sons-in-law of Chulo “Tarang” were wounded by enemy’s spears. The former received a wound in his stomach while the latter on his arm. Only Unggit killed an enemy during the lightning fight. Some of Penghulu Minggat’s warriors were wounded but none were killed. In order to stop the enemy from advancing the fortmen shot at them with guns and killed some of them.



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