Iban migration

This article describe our ancestors who did not migrate into Sarawak from the Kapuas Valley.  There were at least two such groups who migrated into Sarawak via Cape Datu – the offspring of Sabatin and his son, Drom another group who came to the coast of Sarawak near Bukit Merudu, not far from Brunei.

Long before the migration of the Dayaks to the Batang Ai and its tributaries and beyond the fifteenth generation mark, Sabatin and his son Drom have landed at Cape Datu.  Cape Datu is situated at the southwestern boundary between Sarawak and Indonesian Borneo.  According to Iban genealogies, members of the seven different races in Sarawak have traced their descent back to these ancestors.

Read the full article here.

Ngajat Semain


This traditional dance is performed to entertain invited guests and guest of honors during big function invited by the Chief Community of the Dayak people call the Iban.

It symbolize the happy ending of another cycle of padi planting season, welcoming the God of Farming to the feast and giving thanks for the bountiful and successful harvest.

In the past, a “Ngajat Semain” was performed by young Iban boys and girls who have just complete their Ngajat lessons taught to them after the heavy work of clearing the forest and burning season is over. The tempo of this Ngajat performed by the girls is slow and graceful displaying the beautiful design pattern of the newly completed “Pua Kumbu” woven by the girls during the farming cycle.

As for the young boys, the tempo is also slow displaying their martial artistic and balancing skills in preparation to enter their adulthood life. This means that they will take more adult responsibility in the next farming season. This is also an opportunity for them to display their beautiful costumes, headgears, amulets such as Engkerimok, Simpai, Tumpa Bala and of course their new fully decorated swords and its design.

At the present day, the Ngajat music and dance are perform to preserve the Iban Culture and for the younger generation to value the unique of it.

Gendang Rayah


Caption: The bendai is seen hanging on the left of the photo.

This is the most important traditional music performed by the Iban community in Sarawak. Due to its importance, the Gendang Rayah is only allowed to be played during religious festivals with the following instruments:

  1. The music from a first bendai gong is called pampat;
  2. The music from a second bendai gong is called kaul;
  3. The music from a third bendai gong is called kura; and
  4. As the three bendai gongs sound together, then a first tawak gong is beaten and is added to by the beating of another tawak gong to make the music.

The origin of Gendang Rayah

The Gendang Rayah music was first taught by a famous Iban mythical hero named Keling of Panggau Libau. Before migrating to their spiritual world in the sky, Keling taught his cousins how to play the Gendang Rayah music. He told the Ibans to use the music whenever they wish to call the people of Panggau Libau to come down from their spiritual world in the sky to attend the festivals of the humankind on earth. That is why Gendang Rayah is called the music of the Gods and should be played only for religious festivals and rituals.

Before the Gendang Rayah is to be perform or presented there should be a ritual or offering to be done first that is called the Miring due the music (Gendang Rayah) which is the calling of sprits or gods to avoid any bad omen.