Monday, 30 June 2008


GAWAI (ritual or festival) DAYAK (collective name of native races, Iban, Bidayuh, Kenyan, Kelabit etc) is celebrated on the 1st of June every year. It's the mark of the end of a harvest season. It's both a religious and social occasion, where everyone visit their friends and relatives on this day. To the Dayaks, it's a recognition of the Dayak race and their source of national pride. A symbol of their unity, hope and aspiration. This marks a thanksgiving day for a good harvest and time to plan for the next season.

I love their colourful costume and dances. Hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I do:

An Iban warrior dance. Ibans are the most numerous of Sarawak's ethnic groups, forming 30% of the state's population, sometimes named as "Sea Dayaks" because of their skills with boats.
Photos courtesy of Sarawak Tourism Board (STB)

I like this headgear!

Pretty Iban girl.

An Orang Ulu's 'ngajat' or warrior dance. Orang Ulu literally means "upriver people". They are probably Borneo's most artistic people.
Picture courtesy of Sarawak’s rich culture

Pictures courtesy of Rich colours of Sarawak.
An Orang Ulu dance.

An Iban dance performed on stage.

The following sets of photos are courtesy of Stgreenfrog Photostream, used with owner's permission. Owner said that beside the open house where everyone visit their friends and relatives, street parade is one of the main occasion and highlight of Gawai Dayak. Go to his link to see the full set of pictures.

A Kenyah male warrior dancing (left) and Ibans (right) in full gear.

Kenyah ladies.

A Bidayuh warrior and a Ngajat dancer.

If you are wondering why many are dressed as warriors, well, it was the land of the headhunters..a long time ago. Headhunting practise was brought to an end after the arrival of the white Rajahs in 1839. Up till today, Borneo still sounds mystical and promises exotic adventures. Sarawak is still covered with thick, dense jungle and natives are still living here as centuries ago. I certainly find it mysterious, it's part of Malaysia and yet, I don't know much about it's multi-ethnic natives, multi-diversity and culture. Do click on all the links to learn more.

Happy week to all and till we blog again :D