Category Archives: MAIN ASAL

Sports, Favourite Past Times & Culture

The Early Iban Way of Life – Sports, Favourite Past Times & Culture
SPORTS, FAVOURITE PAST TIMES AND CULTURE:
Since his childhood, every male Iban indulge in some kind of sporting and cultural activities. After passing the stage where small boys used to play marbles (guli) and stone (selingkut) among themselves, they begin to take an interest in top-spinning with the adults. They make their tops from the wood extracted from tough and strong trees like kayu malam, bait, engkerutak, mengeris, kempas and tapang. The period for top-spinning is between the felling and drying seasons. The top-spinning is done especially during the felling season – to signify and hoping that trees will be easier to cut down.

Besides this, cock-fighting is another type of culture or recreation which is commonly shared by the Ibans. Their interest for this culture originated from the game introduced by Raja Machan who held a cock-fighting bout with Ambong Mungan. The later lost the contest to Raja Machan and decided to go to visit the supernatural being in the sky to look for a fighting cock. In the domain of the God in the Sky, he met with a Supreme God called Raja Petara who gave him a fighting cock with the coloration of “Tuntong Lang Ngindang Terbai, Biring Belangking Pipit Kechuai”. Raja Petara told him that the fighting cock will never be defeated in the contest. With this prized possession given by the Supreme God, Ambong Mugan staged another cock-fighting session against Raja Machan and with devine help, won the contest.

There is another story of an Iban man who went to the underworld in search for a good fighting cock with the coloration of “Biring Gerunggang”. In the underworld, he met with Ensing Jara who is a diety who looks after the soul of the dead fighting cock. He is also known as God of Cockfighting. These tales goes to show that cock-fighting is a serious affair to the past Iban man who went through great length in search for a good fighting cock. Furthermore, they also imitated the game where their fable hero Keling, his friends and Gods Sengalang Burong and his party held a cock-fighting contest against their arch enemies, Apai Sabit Bekait and demon Nising in the sky.

The Iban believed that all the fighting cock the supernatural used in the cock-fighting contest, turned into human warriors. That is why cock-fighting is closely tied to intangible qualities of human nature, spiritual fulfillment and religious refinement. It signifies a man’s chivalry while fighting enemies during war expeditions. As human beings became the fighting cocks of the supernatural, they bore many different types of coloration which men learned to use to assess the personality profile of individual warrior. The Iban believes that every warrior is born with their own “god given” luck (nasib diberi Petara) and destiny (tuah) only seen on the scales of the fighting-cock’s leg and in their color representation (bulu manok). That is why an Iban warrior is called “manok sabong” with similar spiritual properties and characteristic. Thus, through these supernatural being, the Ibans learn and know how to recognise the type of coloration a fighting cock have. They also learn from these supernatural being how to read and interpret the scales on the legs of each fighting cock to determine its destiny or fate as its scale is unique to individual rooster. With this traditional knowledge, the Iban learn how to recognise the quality and personality profile each warrior have and the natural element that influence them.

The Iban warriors adorn beautiful headgear decorated with Angus pheasant (burong ruai) feathers to resemble the beauty and the grace of the fighting cock. The art of cock fighting teaches them to recognise the vulnerability of individual warriors. This helps the warleader to select individual warriors to perform specific task in a war expedition which, at times, would include death duel with enemy warriors. That is why cock-fighting is not only a favorite pastime, but it is also a school of thought that teaches chivalrous behavior (courteous and considerate behavior) associated with the spirit of Iban warriors. It also teaches the Iban about the natural behavior, character and instinct of different fighting cock as it’s coloration represented the type of fish, birds, animals and insect living in its natural environment; location of the sun for their active and inactive time, feeding time, playing time, rest time; river tide situation; etc. Cock-fighting thus represented the Iban’s religious and personal ideal. It is certainly their unique way of life.

The period when the Ibans normally hold cock-fighting bouts is between the felling season and the time when the burning is approaching. In the past, this was known as the annual cock-fighting Season.

Cock-fighting is an old culture introduced by the supernatural being. In the past, on the eve of a cock-fighting contest, leaders of the cock-fighting teams would ask two bards to sing renong (folk songs), one after another. The renong that they sang were the ones which were formerly prescribed for war expeditions. They mentioned Keling, Bunga Nuing and party who went on war expeditions against their arch enemy, Apai Sabit Bekait. War expeditions are similar to cock-fighting contests. Therefore, whenever the Iban leaders wanted to go on war expeditions, they would ask the bards to sing the renong specifically prescribed for cock-fighting contests, following what Ensing Jara did when he held a cock-fighting bout against Ngerai and Niram in the land of the dead (sebayan). Whenever they sing the renong, mainly for cock-fighting bouts or war expeditions, they must prepare offerings because the supernatural being that used to go on war expeditions or held cock-fighting contests are all mentioned in their songs.

However, to the Ibans who adhere to the old customs, cock-fighting does not bring them any harm. It is the time they exchange views and contemplate various meaningful undertakings with each other. Through their conversation at the cock-fighting arena, a majority of them receive ideas on how to improve their methods of farming, gardening, trading, sending their children to schools and carrying out projects to raise their standard of living.

The cunning ones do not indulge themselves too much in gambling and betting during cock-fighting bouts because they remember the advice of their elders on being thrifty. They are aware of the dangers of doing things irresponsibly which will not only reduce their families to destitution but create problems for their children after their deaths.

Nowadays, cock-fighting are being organized occasionally following a major festival, annual gawai Dayak festival and final death rites to mark the end of mourning period. In the headhunting past, death rites was completed with the acquisition of fresh heads. Such practices of blood letting have been replaced with cock-fighting session. This tradition should be kept alive in a contemporary Iban society through a better organized session, set of rules and better arena.

In addition to top-spinning and cock-fighting, there are various other games which they play. Provided there is no mourning period in that longhouse, they beat the gongs every day so that those who are experts in sword dances (bapencha), Dayak free hand martial art (kuntau), wrestling by seizing the opponent’s throat (becekak), dancing with castanets, dancing with saucers (ajat pinggai), war dances and perisai dances, can display their skills. The war dance is divided into two classifications – the casual war dance and displaying the art of the fighting maneuver (ajat bebunoh). In addition to its daily display, the war dance is also used to mark the end of a festival and during the time when the Ibans hold social gatherings (ngerandang jalai & ngelalau).

Even since the Ibans imitated the various kinds of recreation enjoyed by Keling’s people at Panggau Libau and Tutong’s longhouse at Gelong, their longhouses can never be happy places to live in if they are not enlivened by music and the beating of gongs with which the people can show the above-mentioned dances. The Iban youth must also learn to play other types of music because the people at the longhouse must accept the old customs whenever they want to hold various kinds of festivals where there is a great demand for music for ceremonial dances, and welcoming the supernatural being during the festival for a dead person. They must also know how to play a long drum to celebrate the Gawai Burong (bird festival), Enchaboh Arong (festival for the one who has successfully obtained an enemy head during a war expedition), and to welcome Menjaya Raja Manang during the rites for the sick (gawai sakit), and consecration of a manang (bebangun). All these traditional activities and art of music are valuable heirlooms of the longhouse dwellers, in which they practice and preserve.

For those people who do not treasure these values, their communal customs will simply die off, and this will subsequently lead them into embarrassing situations in future, because of the sheer folly of the generation who had discarded the traditions.

Other sports which the Ibans normally participate in are kicking each other with their shins (bepatis), kicking each other with a knee (pangka attak), individual tug-of-war (batak lampong), tug-of-war (tarit tali), arm wrestling (bibat lengan), foot wrestling (bibat kaki) wrestling (bibat), twisting the opponents’ wrist with fingers interlocked (bepancha’?), hopping games (main kingkAk), long jump (perejok jauh), sipak raga, high jump (perejok tinggi) and running up the hill (belanda niki bukit). All these games which they play at their own longhouses are also staged during a festival, especially to mark the end of the occasion. In addition, the elders usually ask the younger ones to either send or bring back something from a cemetery at night. This is done to test a man’s courage.

What is main karichap?

Source: http://www.dayanglaing.net/2009/04/early-iban-way-of-life-sports-favourite.html

Cock fighting and headhunting

The Origin and Traditional values of Iban Cock-fighting (English version):

Cock-fighting is another type of culture or recreation which is commonly shared by the Ibans. Their interest for this culture originated from the game introduced by Raja Machan who held a cock-fighting bout with Ambong Mungan. The later lost the contest to Raja Machan and decided to go to visit the supernatural being in the sky to look for a fighting cock. In the domain of the God in the Sky, he met with a Supreme God called Raja Petara who gave him a fighting cock with the coloration of “Tuntong Lang Ngindang Terbai, Biring Belangking Pipit Kechuai”. Raja Petara told him that the fighting cock would never be defeated in the contest. With this prized possession given by the Supreme God, Ambong Mungan staged another cock-fighting session against Raja Machan. With such divine help, he won the contest.

There is another story of an Iban man named Kendawa, who went to the underworld in search for a good fighting cock with the coloration of “Biring Gerunggang”. In the underworld, he met with Ensing Jara who is a deity who looks after the soul of the dead fighting cock. He is also known as God of Cockfighting. These tales goes to show that cock fighting is a serious affair to the past Iban man who went through great length in search for a good fighting cock. Furthermore, they also imitated the game where their fable hero Keling, his friends and Gods of war, Sengalang Burong and his party held a cock-fighting contest against their arch enemies, Apai Sabit Bekait and demon Nising or Beduru in the sky.

The Iban believed that all the fighting cock that the supernatural being (Petara and Bunsu Antu) used in the cock-fighting contest, turned into human warriors. That is why cock fighting is closely tied to intangible qualities of human nature, their spiritual fulfillment and their religious refinement. It signifies a man’s chivalry while fighting enemies during war expeditions. As human beings became the fighting cocks of the supernatural being, they bore many different types of coloration (bulu manok), which is believed to reflect the personality profile of each warrior. The Iban believes that every warrior is born with his or her own “god given” fate (tuah diberi Petara) and destiny (nasib). These fate and destiny can only be seen and read from the scales of the fighting-cock’s leg and in its coloration. The scale is unique to individual rooster reflecting the unique fate given by god to individual warrior. That is why an Iban warrior is called “manok sabong” (fighting cock), spiritually sharing and possessing similar properties and characteristic. Thus, through these supernatural being, the Iban learn how to recognize the different type of coloration of the fighting cock and choose their preferred colorations that fit their personality when they became true warrior. With this traditional knowledge, the Iban learn how to recognize the quality and profile of each warrior and the natural element that influence them.

An Iban man is only a true warrior after he has slain an enemy in a battle. A true warrior will declare to God his praise name (ensumbar) and his choice of fighting cock coloration with the blood of his first slain enemy on their hand, which they tapped on their knees, elbows, on top of their head (bubun) and at the tip of their tongue. The declaration is also followed by swearing to God to abide by the rules of engagement handed down for generations. Once the fighting cock coloration has been declared with an enemy blood, the same coloration fighting cock must be used to honour the said warrior when he is invited to grace any major festival of the Iban people. If he needs to change his praise name later in life, he needs to repeat the same process using a fresh blood of his slain enemy.

The Iban warriors adorn beautiful headgear during major festivals or war expedition. These headgears are decorated with beautiful Angus pheasant feathers to resemble the beauty and grace of a fighting cock. The art of cock fighting teaches them to recognize the vulnerability of individual warriors. This helps the warleader to select individual warriors to perform specific task in a war expedition, which, at times, would include death duel with enemy warriors. That is why cock-fighting is not only a favorite pastime, but it is also a school of thought that teaches chivalrous behavior (courteous and considerate behavior) associated with the spirit of Iban warriors. It also teaches the Iban about the natural behavior, character and instinct of different fighting cock as it’s coloration represented the type of fish, birds, animals and insect living in its natural environment; location of the sun for their active and inactive time, feeding time, playing time, rest time; river tide situation; etc. Cock fighting thus represented the Iban’s religious and personal ideal. It is certainly their unique way of life.

The period when the Ibans normally hold cock-fighting bouts is between the felling season and the time when the burning is approaching. In the past, this was known as the annual cock-fighting Season.

In the past, on the eve of a cock-fighting contest, leaders of the cock-fighting teams would ask two bards to sing renong (folk songs), one after another. The renong that they sang were the ones that were formerly prescribed for war expeditions. They mentioned Keling, Bunga Nuing and party who went on war expeditions against their archenemy, Apai Sabit Bekait. War expeditions are similar to cock-fighting contests. Therefore, whenever the Iban leaders wanted to go on war expeditions, they would ask the bards to sing the renong specifically prescribed for cock-fighting contests, following what Ensing Jara did when he held a cock-fighting bout against Ngerai and Niram from the land of the dead (sebayan). Whenever they sing the renong, mainly for cock-fighting bouts or war expeditions, they must prepare offerings because the supernatural being that used to go on war expeditions or held cock-fighting contests are all mentioned in their songs.

However, to the Ibans who adhere to the old customs, cock fighting does not bring them any harm. It is a traditional sports and if organized professionally, it will be good for the tourism industry which benefits the Dayak people. In the past, the cock-fighting session is the time they exchange views and contemplate various meaningful undertakings with each other. Through their conversation at the cock-fighting arena, a majority of them receive ideas on how to improve their methods of farming, gardening, trading and carrying out activities to raise their community standard of living.

The cunning ones do not indulge themselves too much in gambling and betting during cock-fighting bouts because they remember the advice of their elders on being thrifty. They are aware of the dangers of doing things irresponsibly which will not only reduce their families to destitution but create problems for their children after their deaths.

Nowadays, cocks fighting are being organized occasionally following a major festival, annual gawai Dayak festival and final death rites (ngetas ulit) to mark the end of mourning period. In the headhunting past, death rites was completed with the acquisition of fresh heads. Such practices of blood letting have been replaced with cock-fighting session. This beautiful tradition should be preserved and kept alive in a contemporary Iban society through a better-organized session, proper set of rules and better arena.

Source: http://gnmawar.wordpress.com/main-asal-iban/nyabong/#comment-47044

Adat nyabong Iban

RUKUN SABONG

1. Mimpi rurus – Manah

2. Burong rurus – Manah

3. Bulu manok maioh bunoh – Ngeraup – Siti Bulu

4. Manok manah bintih – Kering sereta Silat

5. Tisik ngemudi ka bulu manok ti manah – Tuah

6. Ngangkat ka manok ngena hari – enggau atur

7. Saa manok enggau chukup – manah intu

8. Taji ka bulih – tajam

Besabong ka manok tu baka pengawa kitai mensia ka bentaruh ka nyawa bebuti enggau pangan diri. Sapa alah, nya mati. Nya kabuah kitai enda tau enda betati ka tiap-tiap rukun sabong, enggai ka alah uti enggau pangan diri. Kelia, enti alah uti enggau pangan diri, ngagai ringka ga pemulai sida. Nya alai rukun sabong enda tau enda dipelajar awak ka enda lebu bebuti enggau pangan diri.

NGELALA BULU MANOK

Bansa kitai iban endang udah lama bisi panemu ngelala bulu manok. Ngelala bulu manok tu siti panemu sabong ti nyelai bendar enti dibanding enggau panemu bansa bukai ke sama bekunsi ka uti sabong bakatu. Bulu manok endang dikelala bansa iban nyemaka semua bansa utai ti idup (jelu, burong, ikan, indu utai enggau bansa utai tumboh) baik ka di dalam ai tauka di darat. Lalu pengangkat bulu manok mega ditemu kitai bansa nitih ka ulah, bunyi, gaya, pendiau enggau pemakai utai idup ti sabaka bulu enggau manok nya. Bakanya mega tuah manok ti dipeda kitai ba tuboh enggau ba tisik kaki manok sabong kitai. Tisik enggau tuah manok endang nitih ka pemai enggau gamal utai idup ti sabaka nama enggau bulu sida. Semua ulah enggau pendiau utai idup ti nyemaka enggau bulu manok endang dipelajar ka kitai Iban ngambi ka nemu maia hari sida kering, maia sida makai, maia sida diau, bansa utai di empa sida enggau maia ulah bukai. Semua utai tu endang bisi sangkut-paut enggau maia kitai nyabong manok sereta enggau sapa bulu manok ti disabong kitai nya ninggang pangan diri. Ari tuah enggau bulu manok, orang ke nemu nyabong endang nemu ni bagi manok ke bebintih nya tau dulu datai kaki ba lawan diri.

Bedudok ari pelajar sabong tu anak pungka lelaki Iban kelia endang udah diajar ngelala bulu manok kenyau ari sida iya agi biak. Sida mega diajar ngintu manok sabong ti aroh ati diri empu. Enti sida nyau udah nyadi ka manok sabong orang, sida nemu ngambu bulu manok sabong nyadi ka tanda pemerani sida tauka pengering bulu diri. Pengawa ngambu bulu manok sabong tu dikerja chara besumpah ngena darah munsoh ka udah didengah sida. Bulu manok sabong tu beguna bendar dikena miau enggau niki ka bala Raja Berani enggau Bujang Berani enti sida diambi ngerja pengawa gawai besai kitai bansa. Enti salah bulu manok dikena, pengawa sida tau sabau ngapa laban salah ripih pengawa lalu enda chukup intu. Utai baka tu tau ngemedis ka orang ka bempu pengawa. Nya kabuah ngadu enggau ngintu pengawa ba pengarap bansa kitai Iban pedis bendar enti nadai penemu ti chukup kena ngerja pengawa. Nya alai anak Iban enda tau enda nemu ngelala bulu manok, ukai semina dikena bebuti nyabong aja, tang mega ka penemu kena ngerja pengawa pengarap kitai bansa.

BULU MANOK MANAH:

Maioh raup tauka nadai maioh bulu bukai munoh iya enti betul maia nyabong, tuah manah, burong manah enggau mimpi manah. Ngena sabong kemaiatu, manok sabong enda tau enda chukup intu ari segi pemakai, pengerai enggau latih.

1) Tuntong Belaja – Nadai utai munoh semina maia tengah hari nampun, iya deka alah laban Engkechong Kampong.

2) Bangkas Tasik – Semina alah laban Engkechong, Tasau Biring & Enterekup. Bulu manok bukai nadai munoh iya.

3) Kelabu Antu – nadai munoh.

4) Burik Kuang Kapong – nadai munoh.

5) Tuntong Punggok – nadai munoh.

6) Labang Duku Adong – nadai munoh.

7) Ijau Keliu Batu tauka Kelabu Keliu Batu – nadai munoh.

8) Biring Engkeranau Ai disabong ba jam 11.00 pagi, 12.00 tengah hari enggau 1.00 ngalih hari nadai utai nganu.

TUAH MANOK IBAN:

Nyadi ba pasal tuah manok tu, ukai penulis tu lebih-lebih dulu pansut jako ari Petara. Samoa utai idup bisi Petara nyaga sida lalu enda tau sapeneka ati kitai ngayah tauka merinsa ka utai idup. Nya kabuah kitai iban menya bejimat bendar ba ulah enggau jako diri empu enggai ka salah pengawa dikerja tauka salah jako dipansut. Enti Petara meda ulah kitai enda manah tauka ninga jako kitai nya jelar-jelar, kitai tau nadai berkat diberi iya. Tang enti kitai ngerja pengawa enggau penyiru ati, enggau pengelikun diri, ngena akal, ngena penemu, kitai tau bulih berkat, bulih mudah, bulih gerah, tau bidik lansik ari orang bukai.

Bakanya mega dalam pengawa nyabong manok. Ba pengarap lama kitai Iban, endang bisi Petara Anda Penyabong ke nguasa nengkira pengawa besabong ka manok ke benama Ensing Jara. Nya kabuah kitai Iban tekun bendar begiga, milih serta ngintu manok ka deka di sabong kitai. Ko sema jako kitai kelia, kitai Iban ngintu manok lebih agi ari kitai ka ngintu anak diri empu. Manok sabong kitai endang chukup di intu, di beri makai, di kayam enggau di beri mandi. Endor manok sabong kitai diau tauka tindok pan ba tempuan rumah, sigi semak pendiau enggau kitai sahari-hari.

Nyadi penemu ditulis ditu endang ulih ari randau enggau cherita orang ke tuai ti suah dudok begempuru bakenang ka pasal sabong. Samoa utai ti di tulis ditu mega semina tau ka lalau aja, ukai iya penemu ti nyemetak dikena kitai ngerja pengawa besabong ka manok. Samoa penemu endang neladan enggi orang ke dulu agi ari kitai. Taja pia pemacha anang saru, meda bisi lalau endor bapegai, anang tak lalu mutus arap ka lalau nya. Kadang-kadang lalau ka endor kitai bapegai nya kayu lama, udah burok lalu tau naban ka kitai laboh.

Pemacha mesti deka ingat mega, pengawa besabong ka manok tu bentaroh ka nyawa manok nya empu laban enti manok sabong kitai alah, manok kitai nya mati. Baka bala bujang berani ka nyadi manok sabong leboh orang ka agi mindah bekayau ka munsoh kelia. Nasib siko-siko manok sabong nya bepangai ba Petara magang. Nya kabuah mesti deka siru ngintu ngadu ka diri. Amat ga manok kitai nya terus bulu, manah tisik, enti Petara meri kitai mimpi jai tauka meri burong enda manah, kitai anang majak ka niat kitai. Enti mimpi tauka burong kitai kering, nya baru kitai tau berani ngangkat ka manok sabong kitai tauka nangkup manok sabong orang. Nya alai bala penyabong enda tau enda chukup bejimat enti deka mujur dalam sabong.

a) Manok Burik:

Ba tunjok kaki – beranyam tisik ba pun tunjok ti ari luar. Ujong tunjok luar nya bisi nyelit ba tisik ti kedua. Ujong tunjok rata magang.

Ba pala patong – Tisik mutus tinggi ba pala patong bisi tiga berintai nya ka tanda landik mintih. Manok bukai pan tau mai tisik tu. Enti putus siti, siko ga dengah, enti putus dua, dua ga dengah, enti putus tiga, nyampau nya ga dengah iya. Enti putus maioh ari nya nyau nyabong bulu – pemidik diri.

Enti bisi tisik beranyam samoa ba pun tunjok luar, nambah ka tisik nyelit ba ujong tunjok luar, serta bisi ga tisik mutus tinggi tiga berintai ba pala patong, nya ka tanda iya tau disabong pasang naka iya pemesai – reti nya, betunggang lupong.

Patok iya beturis chelum, Kaki iya beturus mirah, kukut iya chelum. Samoa manok bulu burik, nama kaki iya burak nadai champor, samina beturus mirah, sigi manah. Tang Burik Ensulit nya bulu ka bempu tuah tu. Burik bukai nya lumur dua iya.

Beragum chelum, bejugu chelum lalu nyeriat, tugang burak tauka mirah tauka chelum. Burik mirah betugang burak, burik burak betugang mirah tauka chelum – tuah lumur satu sama apek tiga.

Samoa bulu manok ti bisi mai tisik ngilum (tinchin) muak ari kaki taji, nya enda berapa manah – laun nikam kenu ko orang tuai. Iya ti tinchinba timbal kaki taji nya ga manah, kaki jampat sangkai.

Manok Burik ka betisik beranyam ba tunjok belakang – dikumbai “Tisik Peletai”, Enda alah naka sakali nyabong.

Manok Burik mali ngena tauka mai tisik tunsang ari belakang kaki. Manok bukai pan enda mega manah ngundan tisik tunsang. Tang manok Burik tu bangat pun pemali. Itong berapa iti tisik nya tunsang, nyampau nya ga manok kitai alah, enti nyabong baru udah alah manok Burik tu. Tang enti manok Burik tu menang, kitai pan tau terangkat menang sabong udah nya. Tisik bakatu dikumbai “Chelaka Tisik”. Nya kabuah orang ti nadai nasib nyabong, ngintai mimpi enggau burong ke manah enti sida deka nyabong manok Burik betisik tunsang, ngicha ka ngangkat ka nasib diri.

Pia mega, enti manok Burik bisi nipak tisik ba ujong tunjok anak ari luar, ari pun kukut ngagai tiga iti tisik ti tau diguna ari atas nya, manok Burik tu tau disabong dikena muai sial kitai ti udah suah alah nyabong. (Peda cherita ba cherita – Chelaka Tisik).

Manok Burik, enti ditanggong kitai, kaki iya lalu ngengam – nya tau menang.

b) Tasau:

Pala manok tasau tu luchu – dikumbai pala pakai lembang. Bunyi nyawa iya bengih. Tisik iya nipak ari dalam ba tunjok tengah senentang leku ti kedua ari ujong tunjok. Tisik bukai tau ga masok tambah ka tuah iya.

c) Manok Ketupong (nadai Iko):

Tuboh enggau pala iya bediri chekok-chekok. Tisik iya nyelit tiga berintai ba sanentang tada. Tisik bisi nipak tiga iti ari dalam ba tunjok tengah.

d) Biring Sengayan:

Tisik nipak ari luar ba tunjok anak kedua-dua piak nya manah. Enti semina nipak ba kaki sepiak aja, nya pulai ka chelaka. Manok bukai pan, enti bisi tisik bakanya kedua-dua piak sama manah. Enti bisi tisik nyimpan ari baroh patong, iko iya ketupong tunda, kaki iya kuning – nya manah.

Enti bisi tisik beranyam ba pun tunjok enggau ba ujong tunjok, nya manah – lengkas nikam, lengkas maut. Enti ba tengah tunjok, iya deka bepupoh.

Samoa bulu manok ti ngembuan iko rapit, ngepit, belembang nya manah. Semina bulu manok kelabu enggai ka iko lebat, iko rembun.

e) Kelabu Kuchey:

Tada iya meutak-utak, dua puchong minyak, iko nangkup, iko burok tauka enda lebat.

Tuah bulu manok bangkas pan sama sabaka enggau kelabu.

f) Engkechong:

Kaki iya sama tinchin ba kedua piak, iko iya nangkup, ungga iya rapit. Samoa kukut iya burak samina kukut tengah iya chelum. Beragum burak, nya ti manah bendar – dikumbai “Raja Sengkubong”.

Bulu manok Engkechong, enti bisi ngundan tisik renggang baroh tada, baka ti marit, sakali nyabong tentu menang. Udah nya beri ngagai pangan tauka besilih orang bempu tauka disabong orang bukai, nya baru iya tau menang kedua kali. Tang enti disabong orang ke asal bempu manok nya, iya deka alah ti kedua kali iya nyabong manok nya. Orang ka kedua bempu manok nya, enti iya udah menang nyabong manok nya, iya mega enda tau enda meri manok nya ngagai orang bukai awak ka disabong baru, nya baru iya tau menang baru.

g) Engkarong:

Samoa tisik kaki iya nyilup. Kaki iya kuning tauka chelum. Ungga iya rapit. Enti kaki iya burak serta ngundan tisik besai, nya enda berapa. Enti bisi iko nangkup, tau dichabut apin disabong.

h) Bejalak:

Dada iya bekilong, belakang bungkok, Tunjok kaki iya kuku, iko degi-degi. Tisik iya ngilum, bisi tisik kelumpi senentang tada. Manah agi iya beragum ari iya ti bejugu.

Manok Bejalak beragum chelum, bejugu nyeriat, langgai iya bekengkang baka ti burik, nya Raja Manok. Enti manok bukai ditanchang semak iya, sida iya tau alah diri, ngeri enggai ngelaban iya, kapuas ti bepandang enggau iya.

i) Banda Imbok:

Bulu burit iya tumboh ka tali burit ari burit bedinjir ngagai belah antara iko langgai dua iya. Tada chelum, kaki kuning.

j) Adong Ikan:

Iko iya degi-degi, bejugu serta beragum. Enti bejugu – kurang pemanah ari iya samina beragum. Bisi iko nambah tumboh ba entara langgai. Iko numpang baka nya manah ari iya ti nangkup.

k) Enseriban:

Tisik belah ba sanentang tada. Deka mega ninchin. Besapak tada, tada ngelentik ka atas tauka ngelakait. Bejugu enggau beragum sama manah.

l) Engkerasak:

Dua tisik nyilup sanentang tada, bebubu tali burit. Kaki iya semada balu. Manah beragum tang enda manah bejugu (alah disabong).

m) Tuntong:

Tisik nyembayau sanentang tada ari kaki kanan. Iko iya silai ka kanan (anang sakali silai ngagai sapiak kaki taji). Tisik iya nipak ka lima ari ujong tunjok tengah – dikumbai 5 stail.

n) Ijau Kunchit:

Bebiah tisik betis. Nyilup turun tiga ari tada ka baruh. Ayan kuman, nampak mirah.

o) Enterekup:

Pala iya luchu. Tada iya bauh ari kanan. Tada ari kaki taji pandak agi tauka “balu” tada. Gamal iya lingar tak gilik-gilik. Manah beragum.

p) Jelayan Papit:

Tada ngelakait ka atas. Jelayan Enseriban sama baka Jelayan Papit. Sayap ti bisi bernais mirah nya ti manah.

q) Labang:

Tisik nyilup tusun tiga ba sanentang tada. Patok iya besurik chelum. Iko langgai iya chelum salambar aja – tuah lumur satu sama apek tiga. Enti dua chelum – kurang pemanah. Batu lapak (tisik besai) sanentang tada. Bulu mit tumboh dalam ujong sayap ti ngebong tauka enti bisi bulu sayap besai ari atas lebih panjai ari iya ti patut – dikumbai Raja Sapati. Kapu (ba gambir baroh pending) iya lanjut. Beragun sereta bejugu, tang iya ti beragum manah agi ari iya ti bejugu. Kaki kuning, patok kuning. Maioh tinchin manah.

Manok labang, ketupong tauka bisi iko, enti bisi salambar-dua tauka samoa tulang bulu sayap iya chelum nya manah – Terabai Besi nama tuah nya. Manok tu deka suah menang nitih ka penyampau tulang bulu iya ka chelum, enda iboh meda tuah bukai tau ka ngintai mimpi.

r) Labang Belansi:

Beragum chelum lalu bejugu, lalu bisi salambar bulu chelum ba jugu iya. Iya ti salambar nya selalu beguyat. Iko iya mega bisi bulu chelum salambar – tuah lumur satu sama apek tiga.

s) Bejalak:

Beragum bejugu chelum, lalu ba iko iya nyau ka baka bulu burik – tuah lumur satu sama apek tiga.

t) Biring:

Beragum chelum, kaki kuning tauka chelum, iko langgai iya burak – tuah lumur dua aja sama mata sapuloh.

Beragum serta bejugu, dunggul baserak, iko iya betugang labang ngapus ka langgai – tu Raja Biring serta Raja manok ti beragum bejugu.

Samoa bulu manok Biring deka ngembuan tisik beranyam ba pun tunjok anak.

u) Labang Lebus:

Beragum sereta bejugu, dunggul beserak – tuah lumur satu sama apek tiga.

v) Kelabu:

Runggut iko, burok pun bulu – tuah lumur satu sama apek tiga. Enda milih iya beragum, bedunggul, luchu tauka bejugu – manah magang. Tau disebut “Kelabu Kechendai burok kain basah bujang juara.”

TUAH BUKAI MANOK

a) Enti bisi iko manok besrerekang ujong, bejila mulai ka moa, dua iti nyelepak tengah pulai ka belakang – nama nya “Lamjellah” – manah, tau menang.

b) Tisik manok nyelit ba sanentang tada, enda milih bulu, nya manah tau menang.

c) Enti bisi tisik nyembayau ka dalam ba sanentang tada, nya manah, deka menang. Tang enti iya nyembayau ka luar, nya enda manah – dikumbai “Tisik Lilih” ngasoh alah.

d) Enti bisi tisik nyelit keluar tauka ka dalam ba tisik ka enam di tiap ari pun kuntut ba tunjok anak ari timbal kaki taji, nya enda manah – deka alah disabong. Tang ti iya ba kaki taji, nya manah, pulai ka kaki bisa iya, tau menang disabong.

e) Enti manok baru disabong kitai, lalu bakal ba dunggol, lalu iya pan menang, nya manah – ngayu ka tuah iya nambah. Enti disabong baru ila tau menang.

f) Enti manok bisi iko magar rapit, tutup langgai iya buntat, nya pan chukup manah. Nya ka tambah tuah tisik kaki, tuah dunggol iya lalu deka menang disabong.

g) Manok nyerungkong tindok nya manah. Deka menang disabong.

h) Enti bisi tatemu ka jugu manok ti mit, enda milih bulu, nya manah. Tang Burik ti bempu tuah nya ka bendar.

i) Enti bisi manok, tisik ba tunjok anak iya besai terus ngagai tada iya, nya tanda manok nya tau dipasang besai lalu deka suah menang. Nya nyau bepanggai ba nasib orang ka bempu manok nya.

j) Enti lapis bulu sayap manok ari atas tak bisi panjai ari iya ti patut, nya dikumbai “Raja Sapati” – kebal asal manok. Nadai milih bulu, tang manok Labang ti bempu tuah nya. Enti naka sakali kena laban taji, tentu enda parai di midan. Nama enda patah pah, patah sayap, manok tu tau menang.

k) Enti bulu manok ikan, iko iya bisi nangkup, nya enda berapa manah, alah laban iko iya ti numpang.

l) Samoa manok, kaki iya burak tauka kuning, tada iya chelum tauka belah rutan, lalu kaki iya chelum, tada iya burak, nya sama manah, tau menang. Enda iboh meda tuah bukai enti manok nya bungas.

Source: http://gnmawar.wordpress.com/main-asal-iban/nyabong/#comment-46863

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

Timang (pengap), pelian, and sabak: Iban leka main singing styles.

Timang (pengap), pelian, and sabak: Iban leka main singing styles.

Link to this page
Strong lines of communication between the seen and the unseen worlds are established through the singing of specific ritual poetic texts in the Iban society of Sarawak. The lemambang (bard) singing the poetry called timang or pengap, the manang (shaman) chanting the ritual poetry called pelian, and the tukang sabak (soul guide) singing the sabak poetry for a funeral are all part of a matrix of specialized singers who perform extraordinary texts for extraordinary purposes in Iban culture. These genres of sung ritual poetry, in particular, are often referred to as leka main, a repertory of sung ritual poetry to accomplish specific purposes. (2) Timang or pengap chants, performed for high ritual festivals (Masing, 1997), invoke the spirit world to join those in the community engaged in a celebratory event such as the gawai. The manang sings pelian poetical texts (Sather, 2001) in order to heal an afflicted person or group of people, while the soul guide sings a sabak dirge (Sutlive, forthcoming) to ensure that the soul of the deceased finds its appropriate place in the hereafter.

The power inherent in the words expressed by each of these specialist performers is unquestionable, and the means (or vehicle) with which the words are expressed by each specialist helps to make those texts highly efficacious. The vehicle for the actual aural expression of the words is the human singing voice, which is of the utmost importance in the performances by these specialist practitioners. The performance of each type of leka main projects a unique singing style (patah nyawa) that is particular and differs from one type to another. This study begins to describe and document the musical style in the singing of these three types of ritual poetry. Through aural investigation, musical transcription and determination of the musical characteristics of each type, a comparative view of these singing styles reveals distinct musical vocabularies for each of these specialists and, in the end, a distinct musical definition of each. in addition, determining the ideal sound characteristics that are appropriate in Iban culture for the singing of the timang (pengap), or the sabak dirge, or the pelian healing chant will give some insight into the way the connection is made from the seen world to the unseen pantheon of spirits and places, which has a profound effect on the performer and on those for whom the ritual chants are performed.

The Singer Specialists

Lemambang. The master practitioner/singer of leka timang (or leka pengap) is the lemambang or bard (bards around the world sing poetic verse and are usually itinerant). In Iban culture, most bards are male. They learn their art in an oral tradition within an apprenticeship system. Today this singer of leka timang (or pengap) conducts the rituals of the gawai (religious ceremonies with feasting and festivity, Sutlive, V. and J. 1994:79), and he also leads public invocations. The ritual poetic narratives that are sung or chanted by the lemambang are called timang in the Upper Rejang and Batang Ai areas (Masing, 1997), and in Saribas, Krian and Skrang they are called pengap (Sandin, 1977). In the Saribas, the term ‘timang’ denotes special invocations and praise songs to honor sacred objects or special people (Sandin, 1977: 6).

The master practitioners of timang usually perform in a troupe (called bala), and each bala has a principal bard known as the tuai lemambang. He performs with a second bard, the saut lemambang or penyaut. (3) In the Baleh River region this assistant is referred to as the orang nimbal or ‘answering bard,’ who is usually a full-fledged lemambang (Masing, 1977) and who sings an answer (or response) to the principal lemambang. As the lemambang sings the ritual poetry, he accompanies his singing with a percussive pattern that he plays with a stamping wood or bamboo pole (Photo 1).

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The troupe also includes a small chorus of male singers, who are junior or apprentice lemambang, called pengelembung in Saribas (Sandin 1977). In the Baleh River region this chorus is the orang nyagu (persons who support) and comprises 2 singers who are apprentice lemambang (Masing 1997), while in the Saribas area the chorus may consist of 3, 5 or 6 singers, and in other areas the number varies (Sather 1977 and 2001). In his work on the Timang Gawai Amat in the Baleh River region, Masing (1997) notes that in the mid-1990s only 3 performers usually sang the timang ritual poetry, that is, a lemambang and a 2-man chorus, indicative of the general decline in the number of lemambang in the late 20th century onward.

Tukang Sabak. The master practitioner/singer of sabak poetic verse is the tukang sabak or lemambang sabak, who is the spirit guide for the soul of a deceased person. The tukang sabak is most always a woman who sings ritual poetic verse throughout the night before the burial. She sits near the body of the deceased person who is placed in an enclosed area on the ruai (public gallery) of the longhouse. This enclosed area is made of temporarily erected walls of pua’ kumbu’ cloth, and the tukang sabak sits inside this enclosed area next to the body. Usually she holds a small piece of cloth in her hand (to sometimes cover part of her face), and she braces her foot against a piece of metal such as an adze, knife, or other object (this serves as a soul-strengthener, or kering semengat). (4)

The tukang sabak sings alone, without any accompaniment (Photo 2). She sings a long poem of lamentation–the sabak (from nyabak, ‘to weep, cry, lament’), (5) through which her soul journeys out among the already departed spirits to guide the soul of the deceased person to its proper place in the unseen world. The poem relates details about all the departed spirits (antu sebayan) who arrive from the other world to accompany the soul of the deceased to its resting place. In addition, the deceased person’s apartment (bilik) in the longhouse is described, as are the landmarks and experiences during his/her lifetime in the seen world. The poem proceeds in the form of paired stanzas (or sometimes couplets) of text, in which the details about his/her home environment, events, objects and daily activities are recounted in considerable detail, so much so, that the content is usually extremely emotional and often heart-wrenching for the immediate family and friends to hear. The sabak ritual poetry is sung all night long, ending just before dawn when the body is taken to the cemetery for burial.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Manang. The master practitioner/singer of leka pelian is a manang or shaman, who sings ritual poetry for healing purposes. He conducts his ceremonies using a poetic narrative referred to as leka pelian. Most manang are men, but women may also be manang or shamans.

The leka pelian is a poetic text that is always sung. The words tell about the journey of the shaman’s soul to various parts of the unseen world to retrieve a lost or captive soul, usually that of the sick person for whom the ritual is carried out. By relating the events and communicating with various elements in the unseen world, the manang is able to reveal the causes of an illness or possible psychological problems that trouble a patient.

The pelian sung poetic narrative has a specific structure that takes shape in a series of sections or stanzas of variable length (genteran or enteran), and the stanzas themselves are structured by a strict pattern of accented end-rhymes that are carefully followed by the manang (see further, Sather, Seeds of Play, Words of Power, 2001:162ff). Musically, each sung stanza concludes with a pattern of specific melodic figures as well as a distinct pause of several seconds duration signifying the end of each stanza throughout the chant. To begin a new stanza, the manang repeats all or part of the final line of text from the preceding stanza using a standard opening melodic motive, and then proceeds with new text and melody, in effect connecting one stanza to the next in a continuous chain of thoughts, ideas and melodies as his soul travels to the far edge of the world to find the lost or errant soul of his patient. Poetic and verbal skills are very important in the performance of leka pelian because these qualities increase the effectiveness of the ritual, and they project the manang as a good ritual healer in his community (Sather, 2001:3).

In contrast to the performance of the timang, the manang himself performs the leka pelian. Only in very few instances do more than one manang sing as a group, for example, during the rite of installation and for the Gawai Betawai as noted by Sather (2001). Although the shaman uses physical objects to carry out his ritual, he does not use a musical instrument to accompany his singing and chanting. He either sits on the floor or on a barkcloth swing as he begins to sing, and when he reaches the main part of his narrative, he often walks while singing (Photo 3).

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The genres of leka main discussed in this study exist in a folk tradition in which oral transmission and learning is the norm. Within the lengthy process of learning by rote or imitation, careful attention is paid to detail in passing down knowledge from master practitioner to student about all aspects of the ritual event or ceremony, including the appropriate material items and bodily movements necessary to carry out the ceremony, the composition of poetic texts and the rules that govern their structure, and the composition of melodies needed to convey the poetic texts during the ceremony. The texts, within the same genre of ritual narrative poetry, are different in various degrees from one performance to another, depending upon the circumstances for the ritual. The composition of melodic motives and phrases within the same type of leka main are also varied and different in each performance. While variation is typically characteristic of the music from one given genre to another, the vocal style and the overall musical soundscape of the given type of ritual narrative is constant, with little change occurring over very long periods of time. All three singers of narrative poetry noted here are master practitioners in their respective communities, and each one may be thought of as a poet-singer-composer, for the composition of the poetic text and the melody, as well as the performance of it, happen at one and the same moment in time when the given ritual narrative is being performed. The following discussion focuses on the musical style that distinguishes each of these leka main genres.

The Musical Style

In the existing literature on Iban ritual poetry, the vocalizations of the singers/master practitioners have been called “song” or “chant,” with “chant” being the most frequently used term, whether it be pelian, sabak or timang. The term “chant,” in its very basic meaning, is “to sing” or “to utter with a melodious voice.” (6) In the context of this paper, the term “chant” is understood as a vocal musical piece with lines of text structured in couplets or stanzas and with other structural parameters, sung in free or indeterminant musical rhythm with reciting tones on which an indefinite number of syllables or words may occur. Additionally, melodic motives (or formulas) of various kinds are incorporated in the textual lines/melodic phrases, and a specific melodic motive comprising a closing cadence for each stanza in the chant. In effect, the melodic phrases (the longer melodic units) are generated by the use of the reciting tones along with short melodic motives or formulas.

In an oral tradition, the singer of narratives chooses from a repertory of motives or formulas to create full melodic phrases with which to sing the poetic text (Lord, 1973:12ff). The singer chooses certain melodic motives from the repertory of motives that he knows, and combines them in various ways. Some melodic motives are appropriate for the beginning of a textual line, while others are appropriate for the middle or the end of a line, a verse or a complete chant. In addition to the main melodic motives, other motives serve to connect musical ideas and lines of text, and yet other motives serve to ornament or decorate the musical lines. Hence, in addition to the use of reciting tones, the main musical building blocks for a given chant, as discussed in this paper, are the “main” melodic motives that surround the reciting tone, and the special “ornamenting” motives (often in the form of melismas–a single syllable of text sung on several pitches) that enhance the overall melodic line.

Other musical elements to consider in examining the musical style of the chant are the tonal vocabulary and the scale patterns used to generate the melodic motives, and the interval structure (or distance from one pitch to another) within the motives resulting in various types of melodic motion that reveal the characteristic flow of the musical lines in a given stanza or entire chant. Also important are the contour (or shape) of the melodic phrases, the rhythm in the motives and phrases, and the kind of vocal production and the technical singing style (whether syllabic, melismatic, responsorial, and so on). These elements will be used in this analysis to define the vocal as well as the overall musical style, and, wherever possible, to point out relationships between certain aspects of melody and the meaning of the text found in the genres of Iban sung ritual poetry discussed in this brief study.

The Timang (Pengap) (7)

The Timang Nempalai Kasai is one of the last episodes from the timang gawai amat, which is a chant for a ritual of high significance, one of the four main categories of Baleh Iban timang–the others being timang beintu intu (for man’s welfare and life), timang tuah (for fortune), and timang benih (for padi seed) (Masing, Vol. 2, 1997). James Masing tells us, further, that the timang is both an invocation and a description of “a journey to the world of the gods, and the gods’ subsequent adventures while coming to the ritual feast in the world of humans” (Masing, Vol. 2, 1997:55). The content of the timang noted in this paper takes form as an allegory with a basis in hill padi farming, and the final episode is the planting of cotton, or nempalai kasai.

As noted earlier, a lemambang (bard) performs the timang. In past times there was a head lemambang (the tuai lemambang), an assistant (the saut lemambang) and a small chorus of apprentice lemambang. Today, however, because of the decline in the number of bards in the Baleh region, Masing (1997) notes that in the mid-1990s only 3 performers chanted the timang, that is, a lemambang and a 2-man chorus. In the recording noted in this paper, from which a lengthy portion of the timang Nempalai Kasai was transcribed, only one lemambang sang each stanza (this may have been a special situation in order to make the recording, or perhaps it was simply that another lemambang was not available at the time).

When performing the timang or pengap, the lemambang holds a tungkat penimang, (a wooden or bamboo stamping pole, and James Masing (1997) notes that sometimes aluminum pipes have also been used). The pole is about 2-3 cm in diameter (about 1 inch) and slightly over 1.5 m (5 feet) long. It is often engraved with geometric designs, and the feathers of a cock or other bird decorate the top along with a few small bells. The tungkat is held vertically by the lemambang and struck on the floor in a regular rhythm to accompany his chanting of the timang. In addition to the percussive sound of the pole, the bells also jingle when the base end of the pole is struck on the floor (see Photo 1 above).

In past times, the performances by these singers in the Baleh region featured a head (or lead) lemambang who would sing the first stanza (the genteran) and then a 2-man chorus would respond to him by singing the last few words of the first stanza followed by a refrain passage (Masing 1997). Immediately following, the assistant lemambang would sing a second stanza (timbal or ‘answer’ to the head lemambang), and this would then be followed by the refrain sung by the chorus. Alternating solo with a responding chorus is the format for responsorial (or call-and-response) style, and it continues to the end of the timang.

In the Saribas a slightly different performance format is found, in which the head lemambang sings the genteran (first stanza) and is then answered by the assistant lemambang (the second stanza as an answer or response to the first). Then these two stanzas by the two solo singers are followed by a refrain passage by the chorus (Sandin 1977). This format is also responsorial style, but the arrangement of the respondents is slightly different than described above in the Baleh region. In any case, the main task of the singers is to call or invoke the gods to attend the ritual. Part of a transcribed performance of the Timang Nempalai Kasai is shown in Example l, recorded in 1995 in the Upper Rejang River region, and found in the collection of the Tun Jugah Foundation.

The basic vocal production in the performance of this timang is consistently loud and firm, and there are very few special or unusual vocal techniques used by the lemambang. The singing style is highly syllabic with predominantly one note sung on each syllable of text, as is evident in Example 1. The tonal vocabulary of the timang in the musical transcription consists of five tones (or pitches) forming a pentatonic scale. This 5-tone scale serves as the tonal basis for the creation of all the melodic motives throughout the chant, and the first scale tone functions as the pitch center as well as the main reciting tone and the final tone of each stanza in the chant.

In this timang, the repeated reciting tone is predominant and is contrasted only by an occasional leap upward, occasionally at the interval of a 3rd (that is, two tones that are 3 notes apart), or more frequently by an upward leap at the interval of a 5th (two tones that are 5 notes apart, see the oval marked notes in Ex. 1, lines 1-5). The widest melodic range in this chant is the interval of a 5th, which is usually sung at the outset of a stanza, or occasionally in the middle to change the reciting tone (see Ex. 1, line 4). The melodic motion in the textual phrases tends to be mainly undulating or flat with the repetition of the same pitch in long passages of chanting. A contrasting disjunct motion by leaps happens often within a given stanza (as in Ex.1, line 2), while the leap upward of a 5th occurs mainly at the beginning of the stanza as noted earlier. Because of the many vocal leaps, there is not a feeling of smooth, lyrical flow in the melodic line, but rather, we hear long, undulating (or flat) passages of reciting tones followed by leaps to other reciting tones.

The use of melodic motives is minimal in many of the stanzas of this rendition of Timang Nempalai Kasai, although sometimes connecting or linking motives serve to change from one reciting tone to another within the same stanza. An example of a connecting motive is seen in the use of a descending vocal glide from one pitch to another (Ex. 1, line 3). Other “ornamenting” motives that enhance a given melodic line are usually quite short in duration and consist mainly of short melismas (more than one note sung to a syllable or word of text, see Ex. 1, lines 2 and 4). No special musical cadences or ending motives are heard in this rendition of the chant.

The overall melodic contour is “descending,” in which a given stanza begins with a leap to the highest note of the scale and gradually descends through several notes to the lowest note (Ex. 1, line 3). The descent tends to be “terraced,” focusing on successive passages of reciting tones that start high and end low (seen also in Ex. 1, line 3).

In the timang (or pengap) the stamping pole (tungkat) is used to accompany the chanting by the lemambang throughout the entire sung ritual event (shown in Ex. 1, lines 1-5). In this chant, the lemambang stamps the base end of the tungkat on the floor on each main downbeat of the sung part. The stamping is very strict and steady, and since the tungkat is stamped with equal stress on each beat, a specific musical meter is difficult to determine (although other rhythmic parts might suggest duple or quadruple meter–repeated rhythmic units of 2- or 4-beats in length). A more important feature of the rhythm is heard within the sung lines of text–where the singer frequently uses a note of short duration followed immediately by a note of long duration. This rhythm is, at least in part, derived from the language used, and is manifest as a 2-syllable unit with a “short-long” time pattern (Ex. 1, line 1 and other subsequent lines). This rhythm may be described as a “2-beat stress unit” with a pattern of weak stress (or short duration) followed by strong stress (or long duration), that is, a “weak-strong” stress pattern. The strong stress, in effect, becomes the main downbeat in the music, and the tungkat is stamped on each of these main downbeats (this stress pattern is transcribed in the music notation as a “dotted” rhythm–a note of short time-value followed immediately by a dotted note of long time-value). Overall, the lemambang uses a highly syllabic, little-ornamented singing style. The musical phrases tend to be rather straight-forwardly dramatic as the lemambang communicates with the spirit world.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The Sabak (8)

A solo singer, with no instrumental accompaniment, performs the sabak or funeral chant. The singer, called the tukang sabak, sits next to the body of the deceased, sometimes on a stool and sometimes with a small cloth in one hand (see Photo 2 above). As noted earlier, both the deceased and the tukang sabak are enclosed by “walls” created from suspended panels of fine cloth that encompass the deceased and the singer. The tukang sabak sings about the journey her soul makes to accompany the soul of the deceased to its place in the unseen world.

In contrast to the singing style of the lemambang, the tukang sabak sings in a rather soft voice. The situation of her chanting is very intimate as she sits next to the deceased body in an enclosed area. In general, her vocal production is soft and steady and is broken by passages of extended vocal glides that can be likened to wailing. Furthermore, a unique trait of the tukang sabak transcribed here is the use of vocalized sobs, oftentimes performed at the end of a stanza, which not only expresses intense grief but also gives the singer time to pause momentarily before beginning the next stanza. In effect, the long series of sobs separates one stanza from another (Ex. 2, lines 2 and 4). To render moments of extreme emotion in the chant, the singer enhances the melodic line with vocal glides sung through several pitches (descending from high to low) followed by a number of sobs (Ex. 2, end of line I through mid-point of line 2). In this passage, immediately prior to the long vocal glide, the singer mentions the deceased using the prestigious title, “Tan Sri,” by which he was known in his lifetime, and she strongly laments the fact that he left her (“his daughter Sani, to go live in the city” (Sutlive, forthcoming), using the long vocal glide as if she were wailing (see Ex. 2, lines 1-2: “… rari ari … anak (glottal stop) iya (short-long stress) Sani (long descending vocal glide) … di-au di negeri … (many sobs). With these concluding remarks in the couplet/ stanza, the tukang sabak ends on the main reciting tone of the chant, which is then followed by a deep intake of breath and several poignant sobs. As the singer proceeds to recount the life and work of the deceased in this and subsequent stanzas, her skill and artistry is evident and striking throughout this very long lament.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The singing of the sabak is mainly syllabic (one note to one syllable of text). However, short melismatic motives (several notes sung to one syllable of text) serve to ornament the melodic lines (Ex. 2, end of line 3), and when the melismas are interspersed with passages of glides, the result is an intense wailing effect. Occasionally, the tukang sabak interjects a kind of heightened speech in which only approximate tones can be determined in order to proceed quickly through lines of text (Ex. 2, lines 6-7).

The chanting of the sabak in the present example is performed in a scale structure of seven distinct tones from which two similar pentatonic scales are derived. The opening melody of the transcribed section of the chant (“An Evil Wind Arrives,” Sutlive, forthcoming) is based on a specific 5-tone scale, and at the ninth stanza of this section of the chant the singer lowers all original scale tones by about one semitone (half-step) to form a new 5-tone scale at a slightly lower pitch level (the semitone). It is always the first scale tone (of either of these two scales) that functions as the pitch center of the chant, as well as the main reciting tone and the final tone of each stanza.

The repetition of the reciting tone is often bounded (in the melodic line before and after it) by other notes that proceed in stepwise succession (using the small intervals of whole and half steps) that give the individual melodic lines fluidity and a lyrical quality. The smooth flow of the melody is also a result of the liberal use of vocal glides through two or more notes, so that even within the rather narrow vocal range of this chant (the interval of a fifth) the lyrical effect is maintained. Although some couplets are sung using many vocal glides and sobs along with some melismas, which render a highly emotional effect upon those close friends and relatives hearing the chant, in other couplets the singer relies on a more straightforward, highly syllabic singing style, which not only contrasts with the “ornamented” melodies, but also allows the singer to convey, more quickly and directly, additional details about the life and circumstances of the deceased. In these syllabic, non-ornamented melodic couplets (Ex. 2, lines 5-6) we hear flat or undulating melodic contours, sometimes spoken text (as noted above), and a mixture of evenly stressed rhythmic passages alternating with a short-long rhythmic stress pattern in the sung lines of text, the same kind of short-long stress unit that was seen in the singing of the timang.

The typical melodic motive to begin a couplet or stanza of text is a vocal glide up to the starting note (Ex. 2, end of lines 2, 4), and then a repetition of that high starting note in various rhythmic configurations. (9) Overall, a moderate number of melodic motives are used within a line and these include the occasional triplet figure (Ex. 2, line 3) and a few short melismas of one or two beats in duration (Ex. 2, line 3). The typical ending of the stanzas is characterized by the repetition of the first and lowest scale tone (the pitch center of the chant) in various rhythms, however, the most frequently used ending rhythm is a short-long stress pattern as seen in Example 2, end of line 3 on the syllables ‘ring-gang’. The final note of the couplet is invariably followed by the intake of breath and several sobs (Example 2, lines 3-4). The melodic contours in the lines of the sabak are generally undulating or descending (Ex. 2, line 5) in smooth, fluid passages of melody and text, as the tukang sabak spins out the details of the life of the deceased, and her journey to accompany his or her soul to the final resting place in the unseen world.

The Pelian (10)

The pelian transcribed and discussed here is the section known as Anchau Bidai (spread a working mat), and is one of the first, if not the first, pelian the manang performs when he begins a healing session, which can easily last all night (Sather, 2001). This is an opening rite and an opening chant that sets the stage, so to speak, for the coming ceremony and its accompanying sung poetry. This pelian was recorded by Clifford Sather in 1991 in the Saribas region.

The manang (shaman) is a solo vocalist with no instrumental accompaniment. He sits on the floor or on a swing in the early part of the chant, and also walks about during the subsequent part of his chant. He sings a complex poetic text that tells of a journey his soul makes to search for an errant or lost soul at the far edge of the world in order to heal the sick person (or persons) at hand. The poetic text is cast in stanzas of variable length, with the repetition of the final phrase of text at the end of each stanza used to begin the next stanza.

The vocal production by the manang features a moderate to soft voice, always with a firm and steady quality. The especially unique features of his vocal style (patah nyawa) are the use of glides from one note to another, as well as the extensive use of a shaking technique with the vocal chords to produce slight gradations of pitch on certain sustained tones within a given melodic line (the term “tremolo” is used for this technique in the musical transcription seen in Example 3). This tremolo may occur on any scale tone in the melodic line and generally creates a sense of great tension, when required in the text. Overall, the singing is a combination of syllabic (one tone on a single syllable of text) and melismatic styles (several tones sung on a single syllable of text), with a substantial degree of melismatic singing especially in the early part of the chant.

The melodic motives and phrases result in a tonal vocabulary of ten distinct tones, from which a core of four tones comprise a tetratonic (4-tone) scale. The first and second scale tones are the principal reciting tones in this chant. The 4-tone scale changes later in the chant to a 5-tone scale with the addition of one note a whole step above the highest note of the original scale. Several stanzas into the chant, the entire pitch level rises by a semitone to form a new 4-tone scale, and later on the pitch level reverts back to the original scale structure. The primary reciting tones in the various sections of this chant ascend and descend by semitone and whole tone, and even though the vocal range is very narrow, the manang creates tension at the various points in the chant by the rising tonal framework.

Like the sabak singing style discussed above, the conjunct (or stepwise) melodic motion in each line of text creates a smooth and flowing melodic line. The total melodic range is limited to the interval of a 6th (6 notes apart from the lowest to the highest note), which is rather narrow, but by comparison with the other types of chant discussed here, this is the widest melodic range used by a ritual singer.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The motives used to generate the melodic lines are numerous and varied in this very long pelian chant. They include special opening motives, a variety of short motivic figures used within a melodic line, and ornamenting motives that feature melismas and special vocal techniques. To begin a stanza, the typical opening motive consists of a short 2- or 3-note figure that ascends by whole step from the first scale tone to the note above it, which is repeated a number of times (Ex. 3, beginning of lines 1 and 5). This short opening motive is found at the beginning of most stanzas, and even though there is some variation in the rhythm or duration of the repeated notes, this opening melody might be thought of as a “standard” melodic opener for the manang. The text at the beginning of a new stanza is usually the final line of text from the preceding stanza, however, the melodic line from the preceding stanza is not necessarily carried over to the newly begun stanza. Nevertheless, the repetition of text itself provides the continuity from one stanza to the next. As the manang continues singing about the numerous aspects of his journey, the main melodic motives used within the lines of text and melody (as seen in Example 3) may incorporate short melismas (line 6), short trills (line 3, alternation of two tones) or triplet figures (lines 1 and 5-7). The melisma (several notes sung to a single syllable or word of text), and also the vocal technique notated as a “tremolo,” may occur at any point within a melodic line depending upon the text that is sung and the intent of creating poignancy or stress. As noted above, the tremolo on a sustained tone is a slight wavering of the pitch that intensifies the musical sound, and may be used by the manang to make the meaning of a particular passage ring with special significance, as at the beginning of Example 3, lines 2-3 (“… guntur (short melisma) nuan mabu (tremolo)…. mabak gerugu (tremolo) … o-o (trill) … o-o (downward release of final pitch). In this instance, the richly ornamented melodic line underpins the opening text “… rumble, rumble … the crash of nearby thunder” … “the boulders tearing loose” (Sather 2001: 201,691). Although not shown in Example 3, the vocal glide is sometimes incorporated into the melodic line, usually in a descending contour to a final reciting tone in the music, and grace notes (Ex. 3, lines 4-5) sometimes occur before pitches of long duration to keep the melodic line in motion.

In any given stanza of the pelian, the melodic contour may be slightly ascending, descending, a combination of these, or undulating (as in Ex. 3, line 5). Finally, the end of a stanza is typically signified by the repeated main reciting tone (the lowest scale tone) and with a deliberate downward, slightly explosive release of the final pitch as seen in Ex. 3, lines 4, 5 and 6.

Rhythmically, the pelian does not have a particular musical meter. The meter is basically free, however, the internal rhythm at the word and syllable level is much like that of the timang. The predominance of a short syllable followed by a long syllable (the short-long stress) corresponds musically to a weak stress followed by a strong stress in a 2-beat pattern that is repeated in various ways throughout the chant. In contrast, the sabak is distinguished by many passages of evenly stressed syllables, with only a few passages of the uneven short-long stress pattern.

Conclusion

A summary and comparison of the musical features of the three leka main genres discussed above is given in Table l: Comparison of the Musical Stylistic Features in the Performance of Leka Main Genres. Assuming that each of the examples of leka main discussed here are typical, then the major musical characteristics of the vocal style and, indeed, the overall musical style of each chant is evident. Some commonalities may be noted among the three genres. The stability of the scale tones is consistent throughout all of the recorded chants discussed in this paper. None of the performers has a musical instrument to give a pitch or tone reference. It is only his or her voice and ear that brings each performer to a given tonal level and that particular level is maintained, with great consistency, throughout each of the respective chants noted and transcribed. The texture is monophonic, in which a single melodic line is sung by a solo singer or, in the case of the timang chorus part, the same melodic line is sung by two or more singers in unison. In any case, only a single melodic line is heard at any given time in the singing of these genres of ritual poetry. The formal structure of the music itself is generated by the way the melodic motives (or formulae) are combined to produce a given melodic line, which, in turn, is determined by the text. At the time the singer/ritual specialist is composing and simultaneously performing the lines of text and melodic lines, some repetition of motives occurs. However, the configuration of the motives is different in each line of melody and text as well as in each stanza (with the exception of the repetition of certain lines of text as noted above in the pelian). Hence, the musical form may be described as progressive (or throughout composed) in all three kinds of chant studied here. The voice is the primary sound vehicle in all three genres of leka main. The vocal dynamic (or volume) in the timang is moderate to loud and mainly unchanging throughout the chant, while the tukang sabak vocal dynamic is also unchanging, but is always soft, perhaps because she performs in a very intimate setting with the body of the deceased present. In contrast, the pelian chanting sees a variable dynamic that is changing throughout the chant, sometimes moderate and at other times soft.

Other musical features, noted in the foregoing discussion of the three genres of chant, are different from one genre to another, and these features give a distinct sound quality and character to each respective type of leka main. The characteristics of the vocal style (the patah nyawa) are unique in each of the three kinds of chant discussed here. The lemambang tends to sing in a very straightforward way with a very firm voice and little melodic ornamentation throughout. His singing style is highly syllabic (a single syllable or word of text is sung on a single note), and there is little divergence from this style of singing. The timang chant is unique in its use of responsorial (or call and response) singing when there are two lemambang or when a chorus performs along with the head and assistant lemambang.

The tukang sabak, on the other hand, sings entirely alone and with a rather soft but tense solo voice. Some tukang sabak (including the example studied in this paper) sing melodic lines that are punctuated by a sequence of sobs, occurring especially near or at the end of a stanza or couplet. While some melismatic passages are heard (many notes sung to a single syllable or word of text), the sabak singing style is still mainly syllabic. A unique feature heard in this singer’s vocal production, and that of others as well, is an extreme use of the vocal glide from one pitch to another, which is very effective in creating a wailing (and sometimes a moaning) sound. This wailing may occur within the textual/melodic line or at the end of a line, and the wail, along with the sobs and the meaning projected in the sung words, generates high emotion, grief and anxiety for the singer and the listener alike.

In contrast to the predominantly syllabic singing of the lemambang and tukang sabak, the manang’s singing style is characterized by a mixture of syllabic and melismatic singing. In some sections of the pelian chant there is a great deal of melismatic singing, but even more important are the special vocal techniques employed by the singer. The many melismas and other ornamenting motives heard in the chant contrast sharply with a substantial use of the glottal stop in the sung text. The glottal stop is inherent in the language and is manifested musically by very short stops (or rests), and then continuation of the vocal sound. A rather special vocal technique peculiar to the manang is a shaking (or tremolo) of the voice on sustained tones. This shaking sometimes changes the pitch slightly, but most often does not and can be likened to a trembling that creates much tension in the music. Finally, the manang distinguishes his vocal style by frequently using a downward, almost explosive, release of a pitch, especially at the end of a given line or stanza. In the case of the manang transcribed in this study, this technique is consistently used to end a stanza and the melodic line.

In all the genres discussed here, the scales used are 3-, 4-, or 5-tone scales and the vocal range is generally quite narrow. The melodic motion in the timang tends to proceed in small leaps or jumps (disjunct motion) from one reciting tone to another in descending contours and in rather “terrace-shaped” phrases. In contrast, the tukang sabak’s melodic lines are smoother because of the predominance of stepwise (or conjunct) movement from note to note, along with the use of the descending vocal glide technique noted earlier. The manang sings extremely smooth and fluid melodies with movement mainly by half steps and whole steps (conjunct motion). The melodic range is only a 6th, but it is the widest melodic range of the three types of chant discussed here. In the pelian, the melodic contours are ascending, descending and a combination of these two types.

The rhythm in the melodic lines of the three kinds of chant is dependent upon the rhythm inherent in the language of the poetry. An overall musical meter is not discernible in any of the genres noted in this study. Typically heard, however, is a 2-beat stress pattern of a weak stress (or a note of short duration) followed by a strong stress (a note of long duration), which overall contributes to an end-accented, 2-beat rhythmic pattern in the musical lines. In his work on the timang, Masing (1997) notes that lemambang search for 2-syllable words for use in their chants. The weak-strong stress pattern is used most prolifically in the timang, while the sabak chant features long passages of evenly stressed rhythmic patterns. The pelian chanted by the manang uses a mixture of weak-strong stress patterns and evenly-stressed patterns, depending upon the text that is sung at any given time and the degree of stress and poignancy the manang wishes to place on his sung text.

The lemambang uses the fewest of actual motives, and his chanting is characterized mainly by leaping upward to a given reciting tone, and in some instances, gliding downward from one reciting tone to another. The tukang sabak uses more motives than the lemambang, and these are usually the vocal glide and short melismas. The melodic lines in the sabak have a great tendency to begin on a high tone and proceed to a low tone, usually spanning the interval of a fifth. The manang’s chant is filled with melodic motives, including a standard opening melodic motive, various ornamenting motives, and a closing pattern or formula that is characterized by the downward, explosive release of the last pitch at the end of the given textual/melodic line, and especially at the end of a stanza. The melodic lines are thick with ornamenting motives in the form of long and short melismas (many notes per syllable or word) or embellishment by use of trills and the tremolo on sustained notes.

Summary. These details of the singing style and melodic passages begin to distinguish the three kinds of chant involving ritual poetry. We see that the lemambang is very direct, communicating with the spirit world by using predominantly a moveable reciting tone in a descending and terraced contour or pattern, very few melodic motives, a simple vocal technique and the predominance of a weak-strong stress pattern in the melodic line, along with the regular stamping of the tungkat on each main beat in the musical line. Furthermore, when a small chorus is present, there is responsorial performance between the lemambang and the chorus.

In contrast, the tukang sabak projects a highly emotional and grief-stricken state not only by the textual content relating the events and circumstances to accompany the soul of the deceased to its place in the unseen world, but also by the use of the wail-like vocal glides from note to note in cascading lines of melody. The chant is made even more sorrowful by the use of sobs that are interjected frequently within a melodic line and also at the end of a line, especially at the end of a stanza or couplet where many sobs often occur.

Finally, using a rather ornate and complex vocal style, the manang’s sung texts take his soul deep into the unseen world. The use of the tremolo, trills and melismas, and the highly fluid and intense melodies serve as a vehicle to tell us about the manang’s journey to the far edge of the world to search for and retrieve a wandering, lost soul in order to cure the patient at hand. Both the tukang sabak and the manang, in particular, present an intense and emotion-charged journey into the unseen world to communicate with invisible beings in order to accomplish their respective missions.

Ethnographers in the 20th-21st centuries have documented the cultural context of these vocal narratives in very rich description and analysis. The poetic texts of many healing, burial and celebratory rites have been transcribed, translated, described and analyzed, including the performance settings, verse structures, internal rhyme schemes, and the meaning of the texts. Focusing predominantly on the performative aspects of these genres, and especially the vocal style (thepatah nyawa), this discussion contributes yet another dimension to the body of writings on the leka main repertory.

References

Lord, Alfred 1973 The Singer of Tales. New York: Atheneum.

Masing, James Jemut 1997 The Coming of the Gods, An Iban Invocatory Chant (Timang Gawai Amat) of the Baleh River Region Sarawak. Canberra: The Australian National University, 2 volumes.

Matusky, Patricia 2004 The Iban Pantun–Poetry and Song Wacana Seni- Journal of Arts Discourse (Universiti Sains Malaysia), Jil./Vol. 3:61-85.

Robert Menua Saleh, ed. 1997 Pantun Iban. Kuching: The Tun Jugah Foundation.

1998 Pantun Iban II. Kuching, The Tun Jugah Foundation.

Sandin, Benedict 1974 The Iban Music. In: Mohd. Taib Osman, ed., Traditional Drama and Music of Southeast Asia. Kuala Lumpur, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.

1977 Gawai Burong: The Chants and Celebrations of the Iban Bird Festival. Penang: Penerbit Universiti Sains Malaysia.

1980 Iban Adat and Augury. Penang: Penerbit Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Sather, Clifford 1977 Introduction. In: Benedict Sandin, Gawai Burong, pp. vii-xvi.

2001 Seeds of Play, Words of Power, An Ethnographic Study of Iban Shamanic Chants. Kuching: The Tun Jugah Foundation and the Borneo Research Council.

Sutlive, Vinson Forthcoming The Iban Sabak.

Sutlive, Vinson and Joanne, eds. 1994 Handy Reference Dictionary of Iban and English. Kuching: The Tun Jugah Foundation.

(1) A somewhat condensed version of this paper was delivered at the Borneo Research Council Conference, July, 2006, in Kuching, Sarawak.

(2) The sung oral literature of the Iban also includes entertainment songs, courtship songs (pelandai), secular stories (renong and sugi), repartee called jawang, pantun poetry (Matusky, 2004:61-85), ensera legends and taku songs sung by women to encourage warriors.

(3) From saut, ‘to answer.’

(4) Sather, Seeds of Play Words of Power, An Ethnographic Study of Iban Shamanic Chants. Kuching, The Tun Jugah Foundation, 2001.

(5) Sutlive, Vinson and Joanne, eds., Handy Reference Dictionary of Iban and English. Kuching, The Tun Jugah Foundation, 1994.

(6) The term “chant” is derived from the Latin cantare, meaning “to sing’ or ‘to utter with a melodious voice’ (Webster’s Universities Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged, 1940). Furthermore, the term “chant” is described as song, or it is noted as a short musical piece generally with a reciting tone. In contrast, the term “song” is more general, and may be noted as a short piece for solo voice in a simple style in which the melody enhances a poetic text. In a folk tradition a song usually develops anonymously in a given community and exists in an oral tradition (Harvard Dictionary of Music, 2nd edition revised, 1969).

(7) The comments and analysis of the music in the timang noted here are based on observations taken from my transcription of the Timang Nempalai Kasai. This timang, in recorded and transliterated form, is in the collection of the Tun Jugah Foundation, recorded in March 1995, and is from the Upper Rejang River area. Additional sources of information about the timang in general are works by James Masing (1997), Benedict Sandin (1977, 1980) and Clifford Sather (2001).

(8) The sabak transcribed here was recorded on July 8, 1981 and sung by Minda anak Janting (the soul guide or tukang sabak). This recording is in the Tun Jugah Foundation collection.

(9) The technique of the glide sung through several tones that produces a wailing effect is considered to be a melodic motive in this discussion.

(10) The pelian transcribed and analyzed here is from the collection of Clifford Sather. It is known as Anchau Bidai (spread a working mat) and is one of the first pelian the manang performs when he begins a healing session, which may last all night. It was recorded in 1991 in the Saribas region (Ulu Paku).

Table 1. Comparison of the Musical Stylistic Features
in the performance of leka main genres

Stylistic Feature Timang Sabak

Texture Monophonic texture Monophonic texture
(group of performers) (solo singer)

Dynamics Moderate/Unchanging Soft/Unchanging

Form Progressive Progressive

Performance * Group of performers * Single performer
Format (lemambang, assistant (tukang sabak).
lemambang, chorus) * Sits next to
* Walks up and down deceased in a
the ruai and stamps temporary, enclosed
pole while singing area
* Responsorial style * Solo

Singing Style * Syllabic (mainly a * Mainly syllabic
single note to each * Some melismatic
syllable of text) singing

Vocal production * Firm, moderate voice, * Soft voice, tense,
& special relaxed sob, vocal glide
techniques (wailing), many
sobs after final
word at end of a
stanza or couplet,
spoken passages

Scale Pentatonic (5-tone) Pentatonic

Melodic intervals/ * Predominant interval: * Predominant
Range the unison (repetition interval: the unison
of same pitch), Whole (repetition of same
tones, Thirds pitch), Whole tones

* Narrow range -5th * Narrow range -5th

Melodic motion Disjunct motion by Conjunct motion by
small leaps whole tones

Melodic contour * Flat, undulating, * Mainly descending
descending

Melodic ornaments * Vocal glide * Vocal glide, sobs,
short melisma

Melodic motives Opening motive: leap Opening motive:
to high note Glide up to starting
note
Ornamenting motives: Ornamenting
short melismas motives: short
melisma, triplet
figure
Closing motive: Closing motive:
repetition of final note repetition of final
note, followed by
sobs

Rhythm * Musical meter * Musical meter:
indeterminant; free
* Weak-strong (or * Equal-stress
short-long) stress patterns
pattern throughout the * Occasional short
chant long (weak-strong)
stress pattern,
Triplet figures

Stylistic Feature Pelian

Texture Monophonic texture
(solo singer)

Dynamics Moderate/Some
change

Form Progressive

Performance * Single performer
Format (manang).
* Sits on the floor or
on a swing, in some
parts walks while
singing
* Solo

Singing Style * Mixture of syllabic
and melismatic
singing
* Substantial use of
melismatic style.

Vocal production * Firm, moderate
& special voice, tense.
techniques tremolo (shaking of
pitch), vocal glide,
downward release of
pitch, glottal stop

Scale Pentatonic,
Tetratonic, Tritonic

Melodic intervals/ * Predominant
Range interval: the unison
(repetition of same
pitch), Whole tones,
half tones,
* Narrow range -6th

Melodic motion Conjunct motion by
whole and half tones

Melodic contour * Ascending and
descending
* Combination
ascending-
descending.

Melodic ornaments * Vocal glide, trill,
tremulo or shaking
of pitch, downward
release of pitch,
melisma

Melodic motives Opening motive:
ascending 3-note
motive
Ornamenting
motives: melisma,
tremulo, trill, vocal
glide
Closing motive:
repeated note w/
downward release
of pitch

Rhythm * Musical meter:
free.
* Short-long stress
pattern

COPYRIGHT 2012 Borneo Research Council, Inc
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.
Source: http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Timang+%28pengap%29%2c+pelian%2c+and+sabak%3a+Iban+leka+main+singing+styles.-a0336176488

Traditional Dayak Tattoo in Borneo

In the Realm of Spirits: Traditional Dayak Tattoo in Borneo

Article by Lars Krutak

BORNEO – for many outsiders the name has been synonymous with a forbidding and isolated wilderness, a steamy rain-soaked place, dangerous and forlorn. While it was among the first lands in Asia to be visited by Europeans, it remained among the last to be mapped.

Borneo is the third largest island in the world. Six major, and numerous minor, navigable rivers traverse the interior and function as trade and communication routes for the indigenous peoples who live here, namely the Dayak. Dayak, meaning “interior” or “inland” person, is the term used to describe the variety of indigenous native tribes of Borneo, each of which has its own language and separate culture. Approximately three million Dayak – Ibans, Kayans, Kenyahs and others – live in Borneo. Most groups are settled cultivating rice in shifting or rain-fed fields supplementing their incomes with the sale of cash crops: ginger, pepper, cocoa, palm oil. However several hundred Penan, nomadic hunter-gatherers, continue to follow a traditional lifestyle in the jungle, one that is rapidly vanishing.

Aside from a few scattered reports of missionaries, traders, and a handful of explorers in the mid-19th century, almost nothing was known about the Dayak and their customs. To these outsiders only one thing was for certain: that the island was inhabited by “primitive” peoples who worshipped pagan gods and spirits and whose knowledge and skills made this land their home.

By 1900, however, anthropological interest in Borneo peaked and became the focus of several museum expeditions by the Dutch and British. With the many ethnological accounts that followed, some of the most interesting material that was generated focused upon the traditional tattooing practices of the Dayak. Tattooing was believed to be a sacred activity that was connected to many aspects of traditional Dayak culture, especially spirit worship and headhunting.

Spirits, Gods, Ancestors, and the Circle of Life

Among the Dayak, all life – whether animal, vegetable, or human – is endowed with a spiritual aspect. Spirits living in the jungle must always be propitiated and never offended. Recently, Vince Hemingson, who was traveling with the Iban, said that even when an individual wishes to urinate, he or she must ask the spirits for permission in order to give them an opportunity to move: “No one would ever want to pee on a invisible spirit that is sitting directly in front of them and certainly no one would ever piss on a tree, you never know whose house that tree might be [and] I certainly didn’t want to pee on anyone’s house.” Spirits (Iban: antu), both good and bad, exercise many powers; they provide the techniques of rice cultivation, the techniques of textile weaving, and the techniques of tattooing. Spirits usually come to individuals through dreams and even tattoo artists are under the protection of a particular spirit. Dreams are believed to be revelations sent by the gods, sometimes by deified ancestors, and all Dayak are guided by them in their daily affairs.

Dayak heaven is a universe filled with the spiritual energies that charge with life-power most existing beings and things. This divine realm, removed from secular time and the laws of this world, is the abode of gods and ancestors who grant privileges to those who maintain the proper balance of life throughout all of its stages. At birth, all Dayak are endowed with the perfect gifts of nature: mind, body, and several souls. Each of these components are essential for remaining “complete” throughout life experience, since completion is necessary for one to enter the sanctity of the afterlife. According to the beliefs of the Iban, one of the souls of a person resides in their head and by taking someone else’s you capture their soul as well as their status, strength, skill and power. Thus, it is not surprising that human heads, once taken and preserved, were respected in ritual; their spirits became adopted members of the group that took them and were persuaded to aid their captors in many ways.

Most Dayak, living their lives in strict accordance to the divine norms and commandments by which the gods and ancestors had lived their lives, relied upon human sacrifice to propitiate the good will of their masters. Headhunting, the ritual component, served to maintain the prosperity of the group by ensuring agricultural and community fertility. In the eyes of the gods and ancestors, the taking of fresh heads was not only pleasing – it was duly rewarded with many gifts. For example, the divine indicated locations in the forest where fields should be cleared and planted; they protected the rice fields against crop failure; they lent their diagnosis in illness; and they accompanied men in war or on the headhunt to insure success. Headhunting was therefore an institution believed to maintain balance and harmony in the Dayak cosmos and oftentimes a man’s status was not established until he had proven success in headhunting itself.

The most important symbol marking participation in the headhunt was tattoo (Iban: pantang). Among the Kayan, anthropomorphic figures were tattooed onto the fingers and were known as tegulun. Although they denoted having taken a head, tegulun possibly represented a sacrifice to a helper spirit that in former times was propitiated by killing a slave upon the construction of a new longhouse. Other fig.1 Click for a closer look at this Dayak elder's tattoos tattoos covered the entire body. For example, this elder Dayak man photographed in 1896 (fig. 1 – click for larger image) possesses a style no longer seen in this era of modernity. The central tattoo motif on his chest represents the trunk of the Garing tree; adjoining it above are the two outstretched wings of the hornbill – a messenger of the Iban war god, Lang Singalang Burong. Garing trees are believed to be immortal and invulnerable while the hornbill, marking rank and prestige, is believed to provide protection against the intrusion of evil spirits living in the jungle. Interestingly, images of the hornbill (Iban: tenyalang) were oftentimes carved and propitiated with sacrifices of pigs and human heads prior to them being mounted on display poles, since the spirit of the tenyalang was believed to leave its wooden body, fly to the longhouse of an enemy, and weaken the spirit of the headhunters living there. The tattooing that appears down the arms and over the shoulders represents the leaves of the areca palm, considered as another effective weapon against malevolent spirits. In a sense, then, Dayak men of this time were covered with a visual canopy of the creatures and plants that lived within their jungle domain. However, and when combined together, tattoos performed as an indelible form of camouflage acting upon the malevolent forces encountered in the jungle – headhunters and evil spirits. In the past, it seems that tattoo was one of the primary devices for completion – holding the body and its constituent parts together in a dangerous world – and maybe this is why the Ngaju Dayak say, “the tattooed man is the perfect and sacred man, and only such may receive the perfect tattooing.”

fig.2 Click for a larger picture of these Dayak women tattooingJust as a great warrior was tattooed to mark his achievements in the human hunt, women were tattooed as proof of their accomplishments in weaving, dancing or singing – as well as for protective purposes. Following ritual precautions, weavers communicated with their spirit helpers before initiating a design. It was thought that this action would prevent irritating other spirits represented in a new weaving. Textile work, a hazardous undertaking recognized by the Iban as “women’s war” (kayau indu’), was both socially and ritually marked by tattoo. Among the Kayan, tattoo (tedek) was handtapped onto the fingers of women in various patterns (fig. 2), although black spikes running from the knuckles to mid-digits was a fairly common design fig.3 Click for a larger image of this Dayak woman's hand tattoos (fig. 3). This motif, called song irang (shoots of bamboo), expresses a connection between plant life and fertility while the anthropomorphic designs above her wrists represent protective ancestor spirits. Floral imagery, symbolizing spiritual powers and relationships, permeates every facet of Dayak life. Plants are regarded as a major kind of living thing, sharing the same fundamental properties of life and death as humans. That is why the Iban are so meticulous with the care of their rice (padi) fields; Rice plants are believed to be the souls of ancestors and when ingested they generate physical energy which make the Iban “tough.”

Shamans, Sickness and the Land of the Dead

Shamans (Iban: manang) were revered individuals in the Dayak community. They possessed the gifts of prophecy and healing and were sometimes feared by the populace because of their affiliation with supernatural spirits. Shamans were not only doctors who diagnosed illnesses and prescribed remedies for the sick, but were interpreters of vast, unknown spiritual forces that controlled the weather and food supplies. Serving as liason between the supernatural and the people, the manang witnessed and communicated with several of the spiritual and mythological beings of Dayak belief. Many of these spirits, which included those of plants and famed ancestors no longer living, were captured and utilized as assistants (Iban: antu nulong).

In Iban belief, some physical ills are manifestations of evil spirits (antu) that are occasionally attracted to individuals who directly reflect moral inadequacies. If the shaman fails to affect a cure, either by propitiating the antu with sacrifices, enticing it into a wooden figurine, or by barking, growling and in some cases even attempting to kill it, a name changing ceremony is then performed and the afflicted may be given a new tattoo near the wrist. The new name serves to conceal the fig.4 Click for a larger picture of thigh and calf tattoos of a Dayak woman. individual from disease-bearing spirits and the tattoo symbolically recasts the patient’s body in order to correct its imperfections. This ideology is taken from Selempandai, the Iban blacksmith god who forges human beings. Thus, it is not surprising that most Iban and other Dayak tattoos are patterned after beings or plants that are associated with curative or protective powers. This Kayan woman (fig. 4), photographed in 1927, was tattooed with snake-like motifs called aso’. The design at the bottom of these vertical bands, the coil that looks similar to an abstract letter fig.5 Click for a closer look at these Dayak woman's thigh tattoos “A”, is a tuba root pattern. Both the aso’ and tuba motifs are ones which evil spirits dread and it is interesting to note that the tuba plant, when crushed, produces a poisonous juice used to stupefy fish. In mythology, the tuba was given to the Dayak by the snake deities of Panggau and this is why it is not surprising that the motif is used as a protective symbol in tattoo. Silong lejau (tiger’s faces) were other important and powerful tattoo symbols used against the spirits (fig. 5). They are related to a famous Dayak story in which a shaman, clothed in a ceremonial garment with designs of crocodiles and tigers, blocked the entrance to his longhouse to scare away the evil spirits plaguing his community.

Although the apotropaic aspect of Dayak tattoo has been discussed, specifically as a remedy against supernatural possession resulting in disease, tattooing was also an initiation rite involving the entire community longhouse. Tattoo operations were not carried out in the longhouse itself, rather they took place in a specially built hut among some groups. During the entire ritual, the male members of the family dressed in bark-cloth. Bark-cloth was normally placed on the corpses of village leaders at their funerals or worn by widowers. At other times, headhunters used bark-cloth during ceremonial occasions. Therefore, it seems that the association between tattoo and bark-cloth indicates that tattooed individuals pass through a communally recognized symbolic death in order to pass into a new stage of life. Not surprisingly, each Dayak community is comprised of individuals both living and dead, since those members who left this world forever now dwell in the community of the ancestors – the village of the dead. It is here, the perfect world were houses are magnificently built, the trees bear perpetual fruit, and the pathways are paved with gold and jewels, that each Dayak individual yearns to be in the afterlife.

Notwithstanding these concepts, tattoos and death were inextricably bound in other respects. When the Kayan soul left its human host, it journeyed through the murky depths of the afterlife in search of the village of the dead. Kayan souls encountered many obstacles on their supernatural flight: The River of Death the most formidable. According to tradition, only the souls of tattooed women who provided generously for their families and headhunters who possessed hand tattoos – a token of their success – were able to cross the log bridge that spanned these dangerous waters. Maligang, the malevolent guardian of the bridge, oftentimes refused such passage forcing souls to descend into the river’s depths to be eaten by Patan, a giant catfish. However, if the lingering soul was properly tattooed, it was free to pass into the darkness that awaited it on the other side. Although this dim world was silent and discomforting, the soul’s tattoos began to burn brightly, in turn, guiding the incorporeal spirit to its final resting place among the ancestors.

A Spiritual Artform

Dayak tattoo is a spiritual artform that merges images of humans, animals, and plants into one unit, expressing the proliferation of life and the integration of living and spiritual beings in the cosmos. Death and fertility were the primary axes around which tattoo creativity spiraled. Tattooing offered visual testimony to the refusal of Dayak individuals to accept the finality of death and assert the indestructibility of their being. By emulating the life of the gods in everyday ritual, the Dayak procured their own form of divine power that ensured the perpetuation of human life in a continuum of eternity. Therefore, tattoos were articulating symbols inscribing implicit Dayak ideologies of existence upon the living canvas of human flesh.

Literature

– Graham, P. 1987. Iban Shamanism: An Analysis of the Ethnographic Literature. Canberra: Research School in Pacific Studies, Australian National University.
– Hemingson, V. 2000. Personal communication via http://www.vanishingtattoo.com.
– Hose, C. & McDougall, W. 1912. The Pagan Tribes of Borneo. London: MacMillan and Co., Ltd.
– Lumholtz, C. 1921. Through Central Borneo, vol. II. London: T. Fisher Unwin, Ltd.
– Nieuwenhuis, A.W. 1904. Quer durch Borneo. Leiden: E.J. Brill.
– Richards, A. 1988. An Iban-English Dictionary. Petaling Jaya: Penerbit Fajar Bakti SDN. BHD.
– Scharer, H. 1963. Ngaju Religion: The Conception of God Among a South Borneo People. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.
– Tillema, H.F. 1938. Apo-Kajan, een filmreis naar en door Centraal-Borneo. Amsterdam: Van Munster.
– Zainie, C. 1969. Handcraft in Sarawak. Kuching: Borneo.

SOURCE: http://www.vanishingtattoo.com/borneo_tattoos_1.htm