Pemanah Ngepan Kelia vs. Ngepan Jai Diatu



Vernon Kedit – Jolly would like you to express your opinion and vote at the poll at his blog,


Pemanah Ngepan Kelia vs. Ngepan Jai Diatu.

To all my female Iban readers,

Honestly, when I see young Iban maidens dressed up for occasions these days, especially for gawai, I feel quite embarrassed.


The costumes they wear are loud, garish and quite frankly, tasteless. The mothers and aunts who dress them go by the motto, the heavier, the better; the more silver, the more richer people think we are; the more colours, the more creative. They literally pile it on, every conceivable piece of ornamental silverware in the cupboards. Poor girls! No colour co-ordination, no style, no elegance, no grace, and ultimately, no class.

We have all seen this matching: yellow selampai with green borders, purple marik empang with pink pom-poms and blue kain with orange patterns! And then fake silver all over! Apuuu! Akih endar!

I mean, seriously? Is this the best fashion that we Iban can come up with?

The female ngepan that has been accepted as THE TRADITIONAL COSTUME by all Iban the length and breath of Sarawak is actually a mix-match thrown together for the sake of uniformity and political correctness. There is nothing traditional about it. It was put together only thirty years ago and has been seared into our collective psyche as THE LOOK.

If my ini’ ini’ were still alive today to see this mortifying display of sheer lack of style, they would probably either laugh at how silly these girls look or cry at how the ancient adat ngepan bestowed by Kumang has been so disregarded and dismissed.

You want to know what TRADITIONAL really is?

Kumang, the great beauty of all Iban goddesses, was the epitome of style and class. She only wore the kain kebat, rawai tinggi betating pirak and an elegant silver lampit belt, the sugu, a pair of stud ear-rings, silver necklaces and a complete set of tumpak pirak for the lower and upper arms. Maybe some feet bangles with tiny bells too. In her right hand a white lace handkerchief, in her left the silver buah pauh – her purse. And tucked discreetly in between her sanggul siput, a flower – the seri mua.

Only a hundred years ago, our Iban maidens and ladies still dressed as Kumang would have approved, for the major gawai and festivals. Like so:

As you can see, no selampai over the breasts, no heavy duty silverware weighing the ladies down like anchor and certainly no marik empang with atrocious pom-poms hiding their fair bosoms.

I issue a challenge to all Iban women in Sarawak: return to Ngepan Kumang, Indu Dara Insin Temaga.

Return to the purity of our ancient ceremonial dress. Be proud of the rawai tinggi. Less is more. Let’s make ngepan indu Iban fashionable again!

Dikelala bungai ari kayu, dikelala buah ari langgu, dikelala bansa ari jaku, dikelala adat ari penyiru, dikelala kaban ari ngepan.


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