Collection Description

Culture Name

Iban

Culture Description

The Iban live on the island of Borneo in Sarawak, a state of Malaysia. They have lived predominantly in the midrange hills of the island. For more than a century, the population has been moving onto the delta plains and more recently into the state's urban centers. In the hills and delta regions, the Iban are rice farmers. Today they are also wage workers in the city and in Malaysia's rubber, cacao, and lumber industries.

Note

Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.

Region

Asia --Southeast Asia

Countries

Malaysia

OWC Code

OC06

Number of Documents

36

Note: Select the Collection Documents tab above to browse documents.

Number of Pages

5140

Collection Overview

The Iban collection consists of 35 English language documents, covering a wide range of ethnographic topics. Predominant themes in the collection are agriculture (primarily rice cultivation), culture history, migrations, religion, and warfare (including much information on head-hunting). The works of Freeman, one of the outstanding modern authorities on the Iban, used in conjunction with the earlier descriptive accounts of Low, Howell, and Gomes, and supplemented by the more recent ethnographies of Pringle, Sutlive, Wagner, Benedict Sandin, and Padoch, provide a good overall view of Iban culture and society. In the table below are listed some of the major ethnographic topics in this collection, followed by the specific documents in which these data may be found.

This culture summary is based on the article written by Vinson H. Sutlive, Jr., for the Encyclopedia of World Cultures. The information in the document evaluation was prepared by John Beierle in October 1993.

Overview by

John Beierle

alliances (brotherhoods) -- Category 628

ANTU -- spirits of the dead -- Category 775

BEBANGUN -- initiation ceremonies for shaman -- Category 756

BEBURONG -- augury -- Category 787

BEJALAI -- journeys or expeditions undertaken by Iban men -- Category 484

BILEK -- the Iban family; a family room in the longhouse -- Categories 592, 596 and\or 342

council Negri -- an assembly of native leaders and European officers from throughout Sarawak who meet every three years -- Category 635

divisions, political -- a territorial unit comparable to provinces -- Category 635

DUKUN -- a herbalist -- Category 759

emigration of Iban to Brunei and Sabah -- Category 167

ENSERA -- folktales -- Category 538

GAWAI -- religious festivals -- Category 796

GAWAI ANTU -- feast of the dead -- Categories 765, 769

incorporation of Sarawak into Federation of Malaysia -- Categories 631, 648, 642

JALOH, JERITAN, LABA -- various forms of omens -- Category 787

KABAN -- kindred -- Category 612

KAYU BURONG -- omen sticks -- Category 787

LANG SINGALANG BURONG -- the god of head-hunting -- Category 776

LEMAMBANG -- liturgical bards or cantors -- Categories 794, 533

LUPONG -- the shaman's medicine box -- Category 756

MANANG -- shaman or healer -- Category 756

NAMPOK -- the practice of retiring to a remote place in order to obtain a vision -- Category 787

NGARONG (TUAH or TUA) -- guardian spirits -- Category 776

NGAYAU -- head-hunting -- Categories 721, 727

ORANG TAU MAKAI BURONG -- a collective term for herbalists and shamans -- Categories 759, 756

PANTUN (RENONG) -- songs -- Category 533

PAPAN TURAI -- inscribed or incised cue boards used as an aid in memorizing PENGAP (long incantations) -- Categories 211, 212, plus 533 and 538

PENGAI -- the area in which a PENGHULU has jurisdiction -- Category 631

PELIAN -- prayers for the sick -- Categories 782, 755

PENGAP -- long incantations used at festivals -- Categories 538, 533

PENGAROH -- charms or amulets -- Category 789

PENGHULU -- a political office established by the Brooke rajah; a government appointed district leader -- Categories 631, 554

PETARA (BATARA) -- an honorific title for important spirits -- Category 776

PUN NGAYAU -- a war leader -- Categories 701, 554

PUN RUMAH -- the individual who holds magical charms (PENCHELAP RUMAH), and is responsible for the ritual welfare of a longhouse community -- Categories 791, 622

RAJA BRANI -- "rich and brave"; a man who achieves distinction within the prestige system -- Category 554

residents -- colonial administrators -- Category 647 (sometimes also 657)

SAMENGAT (SEMANGAT) -- spirit or soul -- Category 774

SAMENGAT PADI -- the soul-spirit of rice -- Category 774

SAMPI -- invocationary prayers -- Category 782

Sarawak Dayak Association -- Category 665

Sarawak Dayak National Union -- Category 575

SUNGKUP -- tomb huts -- Categories 349, 764

supreme councils -- Category 646

TEMENGGONG -- paramount chief -- Category 643

TONGKAT system -- Categories 211, 202

TUAH (TUA) -- see NGARONG

TUAI -- mediators -- Categories 627, 628

TUAI BILEK -- a senior family member who assumes the practical leadership of household affairs and responsibility for farm management -- Categories 592, 554

TUAI BURONG -- the augur (or diviner) who makes auguries on behalf of the community -- Category 791

TUAI RUMAH -- a government appointed longhouse headman -- Category 622

TUAI SERANG -- war leader -- Categories 701, 554

TUSUT -- ancestral tables or genealogies -- Category 173

white rajahs of Sarawak -- Categories 648, 657

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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