Iban carving

As regards their material culture, they are well known for their textile weaving, woodcarving and weaving of intricate mats and baskets. Their valued creativity and artistic skills in both men and women. A well rounded Iban man would not only be eloquent in argument, strong and courageous in male pursuits like hunting & war, but would also be skilful in the use of adze & knife. With these two implements he is able to fashion wood into all kind of objects and particularly into those which gladden the eye and help to mediate between mortal man & extra-terrestial spirits which bring both harm & good to Iban. Any Iban man possessing all these qualities could be expected to play a major role in longhouse affairs. As a young unmarried man, he would be regarded by both parents and young girls as a very desirable & eligible bachelor.

1. Boys observe older men to learn carving skills.

2. Boys initially carve toys using blunt knives.

2. Talented ones carve boat heads with abstract motifs, paddle handles and armlets.

4. Bachelors make jew harps (ruding) for ngayap courtship.

5. Bachelors etch bamboo containers with flora motifs to store textile weaving equipment.

6. Maidens reciprocate with a small woven blankets to show her weaving skill at the loom.

7. Newly married couples make a set of weaving equipment carved with protective figures such as the spinning wheel and the warp beam, and the important tools namely beater belia, shuttle jengkuan and bobkin for use in sungkit.

8. Couples build own family bilek which need skills at using timber and working woods eg carving walls or beams.

9. Young husbands go on bejalai journey or sojourn or expedition to gain money, ceramic jars and brassware, and before that may need to build longboats or bangkong (sailing boats).

10. Carving powerful figures on the door into a bilik. Ends of the beams on the main house post can be carved with a flora motif and the house posts especially on the middle of the house gallery may be carved (diukir).

11. Carving of dibbling stick tugal and harvesting knife ketap.

12. Carving two kinds of figure called agom on sticks on the road to the rice farm and the longhouse loft to guard the stored padi.

13. Concerned fathers carve one or two wooden masks. Known as indai guru (literally, mother teacher), the masks are used to frighten naughty children.

14. Truly gifted artist carve tuntun which essentially are utilitarian and prosaic objects crafted to set the trip wire of a pig trap at the correct height. Perhaps it is also time to make a blowpipe for hunting.

15. Iban carve sword hilts out of the antlers of rusa (sambur deer) for both his straights shafted parang ilang and curved nyabur swords. Also to make terabai shields. Even sarong duku (knife cover) and normal knife handles may be carved and decorated. Can iron smithing (ngamboh) or silver working (nempa) be considered carvings as well?

16. Lemambang often carves a memory board which acts as mnemonic to help him remember the sequence of verses in the journey of the gods to visit the Iban and to etch bamboo tungkat and carve figures on their top-end stick tungkat.

17. Manang requires a lupong (medicine box or rather a bag pack) carved with a pair of squatting figures and sometimes carves small figures (pentik anak yang) to assist him in his search for the errant soul of the sick person he is treating.

18. Any Iban might carve a pentik statue to help stave off some disaster afflicting a longhouse for use in the ngampun rite and langkau ampun (submission hut).

19. In his early forties, an experienced and gifted carver will be commissioned to carve a kenyalang statue, an icon carved to represent the rhinoceros hornbill and used in a festival to commemorate the successful headhunter.

20. Finally, on death, after burial and a period of mourning, a man of note of the kind we have been describing would expect some kind of monument to be erected over his grave. The monuments take two forms i.e. a carved board with nabau or naga, or a sungkup during Gawai Antu.

Source: http://www.reocities.com/Heartland/3409/IBAN.HTM

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