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Longhouse Culture of the Iban people in Borneo

Listed under Traditional Cultures in Malaysia.

  • Photo of Longhouse Culture of the Iban people in Borneo
  • Photo of Longhouse Culture of the Iban people in Borneo
  • Photo of Longhouse Culture of the Iban people in Borneo
Photo of Longhouse Culture of the Iban people in Borneo
Photo by daveclucas
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Loagan Tasan is an Iban longhouse near to Marudi on the Baram River in Sarawak. In June the Ulu (upriver) tribes or Dayaks all over Sarawak celebrate Gawai, equivalent to a harvest festival.

During this time family members gather at the longhouse and party.

Celebrations include a communal meal on the verhanda which stretches the length of the longhouse, often followed by games and singing.

The Iban people are traditionally great drinkers and in the evening the games turn to traditional dance or ngajat induk. These dances simulate hunting with the women performing the part of the hornbill (the national bird of Sarawak) and the men hunting them by simulating the mating dance of the cock.

Each dancer, on completion of their performance, is expected to down a glass of rice wine or tuak. Failure to finish the drink or spillage results in the glass being refilled for another try.

Visitors to Sarawak longhouses are often treated to a performance like this but are usually expected to join in. Be warned!

Written by  Dave Clucas.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

well, christine... i'm an iban n i don't remember being offended by any colours that other people wear. just come down to sarawak n b adventurous. we r warm, friendly people. there's lots of info bout us in the Net. all d best!

What should I know about the culture?

I am coming to Borneo for missionary, I am not aware of What I should and should not do? I also would like to know what colors I should wear and so forth.I just want to be on the safe side so that I don't offend anyone. Thank You

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