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Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Kumang Iban revisited...Borneo Hornbill Festival (BHF) 2011

Exactly a month ago, 23 July 2011, I received the title for Kumang Iban Borneo Hornbill Festival 2011...

A blogger friend who was one of the advisers posted a write-up about my winning...

To all my new found friends of Borneo Hornbill Festival 2011, it was such a blessing to have met all of you, now I have extra 50 plus friends because of you!

This videoclip is for you...I'm a sucker for old songs..but I believe it is evergreen...old is gold..

To my supporters, you are my inspiration to write this blog, loving the culture more and more, day by day...literally addicted.

I hope with this blog as well as other similar blogs will inspire all of you to learn about your culture even though we are living in this modern world. I will do my best to share whatever knowledge with all of you...

Thank you so much!

Lots of Love,


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Ngepan Kumang Iban

“Fashion is always in time in which you live. It is not something standing alone.”- Coco Chanel

It means fashion evolves through time. Indeed Coco Chanel was a genius to say this and I believe it is true. ..

Throughout my quest of finding Indu Dara Insin Temaga, I came across with many opinions on how ngepan Indu Iban should be. There have also been discussions and stands on how a true ngepan should look like. To the traditionalists, they have strong views that the ngepan should look as how it was in the olden days and on the other hand, there were also views that ngepan Iban is fine with some modern touch here and there.  

As I mentioned in my previous post since I am from the Saribas tribe so my focus was wearing a rawai tinggi, kain kebat complete with other silver regalia but in a minimalist way. 

Ngepan Indu Iban Saribas 

Throughout my search finding the right ngepan for me, I encounter many variations of ngepan through the different illustrations in the books be it old or new photos as well as through interpreting the literature composed by missionaries, for example from “The Sea-Dyaks of Borneo by The Reverend Edwin H. Gomes” –page 16: 

“For the wedding and for subsequent visit which the bride pays to her husband’s relatives, she decks herself out in all the finery she possesses and can borrow from her friends. Her wedding dress consists of a short petticoat which reaches her knees (kain kebat); along the bottom edge of this there sewn several row of tinsel and of silver coins (tating kain), below which probably hang some hawk bells. Round her waist are several coils of brass chain (rawai) and, in addition, two or three belts made of dollars and other silver coins linked together(lampit). From her waist upwards as far as her armpits she wears a corset formed by threading upon a cone a great number of brass rings, arranged so closely together as to completely hide the cane (rawai tinggi). To this corset may be fixed two or three bands of silver coins. Her armlets of brass or silver extend as far up as her elbow (tumpa pirak). As many rings she possesses are on her fingers, and she wears necklaces of small beads, worked in very beautiful patterns and finished off with a tassel of beads, or else a large number of big silver buttons strung together round her neck (marek ubu). Her ears are furnished with studs of silver gilt, with a setting of scarlet cloth behind the filigree work to show them off. Her head is decorated with a towering comb of silver filigree work, to which attached a number of silver spangles (sugu tinggi), which glitter with every movement of her head. She wears her hair in a knot, into which are stuck a number of skewers decorated with beads and little tags of red, yellow and white cloth (cucuk sanggul). She does not wear her jacket, though she possesses one; it is slung over her right shoulder.”    

The Sea Dayak Bride
During the competition too I can see there were many variations of ngepan Indu Iban where one division would differ to another. Therefore, from the observations thus far it wouldn't be wrong to say that the Iban community is a creative lot.

I love my ngepan Saribas, at first glance you might think that I would faint wearing the four kilogrammes (weighed it last night), chest high, rattan-brass corset (rawai tinggi) but no, as long as it fits well it will be fine. 

To me, ngepan Indu Iban Saribas shows how simplicity can exude beauty of an Iban woman of that tribe and I’m glad to be part of it. I wish to know more on especially why Iban women in the olden days particularly the Saribas tribe wore rawai tinggi, is it because to support their backs while weaving the pua kumbu? Or is it for health reasons? Could it be as a symbol of status? Until now it is still a question mark in my head. 

Today, we see ngepan Indu Iban with colourful beaded color (marek empang/tango) with dangling bright colored pom-poms, a modern version of petticoat/skirt (kain karap), pua kumbu shawl (selampai), head gear (sugu tinggi),  a shorter version of rawai with rows of coins (sementing ringgit), another set of belt with dangling coins (sementing buchai), silver belt or two (lampit) and other accessories including a traditional spherical silver purse (buah pauh), anklets (gerunchung kaki) and a small white or red scarf (perca) or small pua kumbu (in Betong area). Please refer to the photos below:

My Mum
Description of the accessories

There are also some rare accessories such as tali ai (a long beaded accessory with frog bells at the end which hangs from the back to the ankle, tali buri (a beaded accessory with frog bells which is worn around the waist. There is also an accessory called Kepuas or Bekuas (a black velvet collar that covers the chest), as for Kapit Iban, they are known for their kain Burek instead of pua kumbu skirt. Kain burek is a black skirt sewn beautifully with tiny white cowry shells

Kain Burek/Burik

the beaded string is tali ai

Another version of tali ai, some call it selampai because it does look like a shawl

The black collar is Kepuas/Bekuas
The beaded belt with frog bells is burai lumit
 Different versions of burai lumit.....

 I believe that ngepan Indu Iban:
  1. evolves through time; 
  2. evolves according to practicality: e.g. selampai and marek empang/tango are used to cover the breasts or can you imagine dancing ngajat wearing a high corset?; and
  3. style is influenced geographically (differs from one division to another ).
 To me there is no right or wrong style of ngepan Indu Iban, because of the reasons namely, evolution according to time, practicality, geographically perhaps creativity too plays a role in creating different styles of ngepan. Through my observation, the only wrong way wearing a ngepan would be wrong colour coordination of the ngepan as well as using too much accessories that is way overboard just like an overloaded Christmas tree
Before I end this post I would like to thank Ms. Jacqueline Selaka Mawar for allowing me to use some of her photos in her blog which describes the different accessories of ngepan Indu Iban.  Below are the many styles that I have come across for your reference:

This is how my Saratok family would wear selampai if we don't have many accessories to make a complete ngepan

My niece

notice the pua kumbu perca? She's from Betong
The same girl with different style at different event

People say this one is the Bintulu version
Wedding dress of a Kapit bride
With selampai (shawl) but without marek empang/tango
Selampai both crossing the front and the back
Another Bintulu style (notice the corset is different?)
Ms. Elizabeth Lenna with 2 lampit crossing the chest
Kumang Miri 2011
This is the same kumang as the above photo 3rd from left
the significant Bintulu corset
With Bekuas/kepuas
Another reason for practicality is you can at least dance with this style

There you have it, I would update more photos if I have more. I let you to analyze yourself whether you would agree with me that wrong colour coordination as well as putting on everything that you have can possibly make the ngepan look like an overloaded Christmas tree..don't be a fashion victim!


Friday, 12 August 2011

Stevie the talented Photographer..

“If I can’t sing, then I shall hum, If I can’t speak, then I shall write, If I can’t draw, then I shall capture it with my camera.” 
~ Veeky-Leonora

The best way to capture God’s beauty is by a camera..drawing could be fun but it’ll take too long. So your best bet is Mr. Camera. This post is dedicated to En Arif a.k.a my new found friend Stevie...

The FRIEND, Manager, Make-up artist also side photographer
Being a sentimental person as I am it is so difficult to return some of the accessories that I borrowed from my friend’s gallery, Mr Leonard Yiu (click here for his gallery: So before returning the accessories I might as well capture my moments wearing it as soon as possible. All this materialised when my friend cum Manager, Susan Leo invited freelance photographers who are interested to do a photoshoot session for free with the ngepan of Indu Dara Insin Temaga and also two more Keling models (Robson Jelian and Paren Nyawi).

Stevie replied us and agreed to do the photoshoot for free.  On 30 July 2011, off we go to Taman Tasik Permaisuri, Bandar Tun Razak, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. The weather was just beautiful as well as the location itself where there is the hanging bridge just nice to portray our costumes. The experience wearing the ngepan in public was a bit daunting at first as people were looking at us as though we were a freak show. But because we love our culture so much, we went ahead and ignore the negative comments given.

Paren and his Brother

My Tukang cucuk sanggul, here is Kholyn

Tukang cucuk sanggul 2, here is Dymphna

Malvin,Robson, Aunty Patricia and me

The girls

Personally, I was very comfortable working with him, very friendly unlike some photographers who would just “shoot and go”; he takes times to know and “break the ice” with the models so that they too will be comfortable while posing. He was also creative in making the three of us posing in many different ways and mood.  Three hours did not seem long enough, it was tiring but fun and I got so many mosquito bites to come along with. 

Photos were edited so fast and the result almost made me cry as all of them were so beautiful and captured with such passion for culture. I must say that Stevie is the right person to shoot anything on culture. Our costumes never looked so alive (ofcourse the models played their role too J) and also not forgetting helping hands by my friends Susan, Kholyn and Dymphna.
With Stevie

With this post I would like to thank Susan Leo for organising the photoshoot, Stevie for taking up a pro bono offer to ‘shoot’ us and becoming a Borneo photographer with a ‘magical touch’, his friend Andy Romeo for driving him to the location, the models, Robson Jelian and Paren Nyawi, aunty Patricia for giving us support that evening. Now let the photographs speak....


Playing our role as "lovebirds"..real kan?

There you go,wouldn't you agree with me that his work is magical? 

To view his work:

Okay till then, have a nice weekend!

Kumang haus..ka ngirup "Kula" dulu...