Migration to the Batang Ai

About the same time when Jelian migrated to Undup, a chief named Pateh Ambau from Katingau led Surong Gunting’s people into Sarawak territory.  At first they settled at the Upper Maruh near the present town of Engkilili.  From there, Ambau married again and built his new longhouse at Pengkalan Tabau, in Batang Ai, just above the present town of Lubok Antu.

It is noted that most of the pengap of various gawai celebration did mention Ambau.

Ambau has already come here
From Pengkalan Tabau, passing by the Tawang traders

These traders were Tawang Malay traders from the area surrounding Lake Kuan and the Tawang River who used to dropped by at Ambau’s house at Pengkalan Tabau.  While he was living there, one of his men named Belayau Lelang died.  He was buried at a new cemetery called Pendam Keladi.

During the period of Ambau, other leaders were also migrating to Batang Ai.  There was Lanong who came from the Kapuas to live in the Upper Kumpang River and later moved down the Kumpang River to live at Rantau Langkong in the Batang Ai.  He is not mentioned in any tusut but he is well known as one of the early settlers.  Then, there was Ratih who came from Bukit Kenyandang in the Katungan.  He was the first Iban to explore the Kumpang River and settled at Rantau Langkong.  While Ratih explored the Kumpang River, his father called Jenua continues to live at Bukit Kenyandang.

Another chief named Gunggu came with his people to settle at Meriyu near Singkarong below the present town of Engkilili.  And soon after Gunggu migration, another famous chief named Kanyong whose nickname was Gendang Manyi led his people to settle at the bend of the Melarang River.  Melarang River is located midway between Lubok Antu and Engkilili.  Kanyong is famous for his part in originating the Sea Dayak custom of pati nyawa1.

The custom originated when Kanyong was living at Melarang on the Batang Ai.  Another chief named Semalanjat came from Kapuas to live at Bungkap just above the Bungkap River mouth where it meets the Batang Ai.  All the newly arrived migrant leaders in the area agreed to help one another if any of them were to be attacked by the common enemy2.


  1. Pati Nyawa is whereby a man who killed another man whether by accident or intentionally must compensate the relatives of the victim. []
  2. The common enemy at that time were the Punans, Bukitan and the Kantu of Merakai. []

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