How the Sea Dayaks are called Iban

After some warriors had been killed and wounded, Entinggi called Tindin by the Bukitan word isan1.  Tindin was surprise and said, “Why do you address me as isan.  Have you got any son?”

Entinggi answered, “Yes.  I have a son named Demong.  Now let us sit down and try to resolve our misunderstanding peacefully.”

Tindin was glad to hear these gracious words from the headman of his enemy and he agreed to stop fighting and try to reason out their quarrel.

Tindin declared that it would be both wise and proper if Entinggi agreed to a marriage between his son and Tindin’s own daughter in order to restore peace as soon as possible between the Bukitans and the Dayaks.  However, Tindin insist that the marriage can be approved if Entinggi agrees to pay him compensation known as drian palit mata or a dowry.  The dowry is for the purpose of abolishing racial enmity between the two tribes.  Entinggi promptly agreed and said that he had no malice in his heart neither had he any territorial ambition other than to defend the life of his people against the invading Ibans.  It was here that the Bukitans first called the Sea Dayaks Iban due to the fact that they were pushing other races out and taking all into their possession.

Entinggi was pleased and agreed to Tindin’s suggestion.  He assured him that before long he would pay the drian palit mata as claimed so that his son, Demong would marry Rinda, Tindin’s daughter.

Tindin also felt it would be proper to demand of Entinggi a padi bin full of new heads plus a large brass gong in recognition of his rank as a chief extraordinary authority, who had the right to claim for dowry according to the tradition founded by Serapoh.

Entinggi agreed to all this.  At the conclusion of the negotiation he invited Tindin to accompany him to the Paku to see for himself the beauty and fertility of that district.  The eager Tindin at once consented and took some of his leading warriors with him.  In Paku, Entinggi took Tindin to meet various Bukitan chieftains including Entigu.  Tindin found that Entigu and his people were nomads who wandered in the forest while Entinggi and his people were settled down and planted crops for food.

After Tindin had seen the length and width and fertility of the land, he told Entinggi that he was attracted and would like to migrate there with his followers if Entinggi would permit them.  The Bukitan chief had no objections so long as the proposed marriage took place.

Entinggi said, “Through this marriage, the future of this country will become the everlasting inheritance of our descendants.”

When all the things including the dowry had been discussed, Tindin asked for further presents as a token of the first marriage between a Dayak and a Bukitan.  These includes;

  1. One brass cannon
  2. One blowpipe
  3. One tanggui serawong of the kind worn by high ranking Iban brides especially on the first day they live with their husbands.

Entinggi agreed with all this that a month later the marriage feast was celebrated in Skrang.  Rinda was taken by Entinggi to Paku to live with Demong.  Not long after this, Tindin migrated to Paku and settled at the Upper Pengar stream near Spaoh.  He then moved again to Tanjong Melanyut where he died of old age, greatly mourned by both the Dayaks and the Bukitans.  He was buried opposite Nanga Beduru.

A year after her marriage to Demong, Rinda gave birth to a male child.  She later had four more children, three boys and one girl named Jawai.  Unfortunately Jawai died when she was about fifteen years old.  But because of her noble birth, her body was not buried in the ordinary Sea Dayak way.  Instead the corpse was placed in a coffin and put on a platform about six feet from the ground to await the decomposition of the flesh.  This method of burial was known as lumbong and the site of Jawai’s lumbong is still known although today the practice has disappeared along with the Bukitan people who originated it.

Rinda died shortly after the birth of her youngest child, Bakak.  She was killed by a falling rafter during a hurricane and was buried with her father at Nanga Beduru.

After the death of Rinda, Demong remarried.  This time he married a Bukitan named Lemia, by whom he had many children.  These children afterwards married other Bukitans before they moved into Julau, a left tributary of the Kanowit River of the present Third Division.


  1. Isan is an Iban term of address used between parent of children who are married together. []

5 thoughts on “How the Sea Dayaks are called Iban”

  1. some says that iban word came from kayan language ivan which mean the people who walk as most of iban history are moved from one area to one area..but there is also an older stories that iban term came from of the big 5 dayak tribe in kalimantan,then the word hiban change and change into iban…

    1. This is interesting. Is there any way to verify this, especially the Kayan word “ivan”. Any physical prove to support the existence of the Iban tribes in Kayan territory before the migration in 1930’s into the Baram and Upper Rejang.

      As for the term Hiban, I’ve googled it and found this article interesting too. Ref.

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