Monday, 28 July 2008

IBANS, Sarawak

I am back and missed everyone :D

Now Kuching was a real adventure trip! I visited the BAKO NATIONAL PARK on the first day and felt as if I have finished a Karate tournament. We completed one of the most difficult trails, hiking up to the mountains to see the wildlife, hopping on and off boats and more climbings later to this plateau (see header). It was extremely tough for this very 'fit' blogger, but it was worth it. A faraway encounter with the Proboscis monkey, a rare and protected species available only in Borneo, a close encounter with the pit viper snake, crossing the South China seas during a storm in an open boat, and survived!! Kuching was a handicraft heaven, food was very cheap and people super friendly. I got to learn about the different natives' culture and lifestyle, some interesting and some scary too. Too many things to blog about, but let's start with my favourite part, the HEADHUNTERS of Sarawak!

This image was taken from a T-Shirt, available everywhere. This gives us an idea that headhunting practise was very real in the past, but has been banned since the British arrival.

I have posted this picture before but still find it the most suitable picture to describe the Ibans here, courtesy of The Iban. It is original and reflected the real Ibans lifestyle in the longhouses at their villages.

The Ibans make up of one third of the total natives. Originated from Kalimantan, Indonesia, they were known to be the fiercest warriors in their time. The British called them the 'Sea Dayak' due to their close association with the rivers and living along the seas. During tribal wars, headhunters would hunt for their enemies and preserve their skulls, symbolising bravery and honor for his village. Each skull brings strength, good luck and prosperity to their longhouse. It was the most prized possession and common for fathers to ask for heads as dowries during marriage of their daughters. The Ibans are also well known for their heavily tattoed bodies and each skull tattoed in their finger indicated a head collected. The Ibans were traditionally animist but mostly have converted to Christianity and very friendly, they still hold on to their strong cultural identity and heritage. I was told by my guide that they originated from the Batak people in Kalimantan. Bataks were well known for both headhunting and eating their enemies as in the past, but not anymore.

The following photos were taken from The Iban House from the Sarawak Cultural Village or SCV. SCV is the closest one can get to experience the different cultures and tradition in Kuching. It is known as a 'live' museum as it gives visitors a peek into the real life of the natives.
Ibans posing as warriors.

Entrance into the Iban house.

Pretty Iban girl in traditional dress (below left). Pua Kumbu, the most well known cloth weaving throughout Borneo with ethnic designs, available only here as I can't find a single pua kumbu sold in West Malaysia.

Weaving the pua kumbu, don't you just love the colours! So vibrant! An traditional pua kumbu's dyes are made from vegetables and cannot be washed and cost 7 - 8 times higher than those made with chemical dyes.

A collection of animal and human skulls, usually hung up on the ceiling outside the house. I am sure this was just a milder version of it.

Iban dancers.

The Iban warrior dance, Ngajat.

The warrior's shield.

Their colourful head gear.

I came home to some unhappy news, my rabbits (now left to roam in the garden) ate every single flower and bush within their reach. However, my lotus was in full bloom!! All the overdosing of fertilizer certainly worked :D

I am going to be very busy the next few days and out of office often too, but I will hop over soon. The entire Kuching blog is going to be a very interesting one, and I am not finished with my headhunting post yet.

Have a pleasant week ahead :