Thanks to Borneo Hornbill Festival the younger generation of Iban knows the existence of almost extinct ngepan Iban (Iban costume).
Now even the older generation begins to value of culture by sharing such information to the younger generation. In this post I would like to highlight the “comeback” of the old Iban ngepan. I guess old is the “in” thing at the moment as what people say that “Old is Gold”….
1) Ngepan Rawai tinggi
- I realized the existence of this ngepan through my reading of books written by English writer, namely Rev. Edwin H. Gomes. This book enlightened me on the ngepan Iban worn by the women of Saribas tribe.
- The ngepan would consist of the rawai tinggi (high corset), kain kebat as the skirt (ikat technique pua kumbu which is made into a skirt) and other accessories like tumpa (bangles), lampit pirak (silver belts), sugu tinggi (the headgear made of silver) gerunchong kaki (anklets) etc.
2) Ngepan Marik / Ngepan Dujung Marik)
- The uniqueness of this ngepan is that from the material that makes the costume i.e. colourful glass beads for the “baju ujan” and also the head gear which is called dujung marik. In the olden days, ngepan Marik or some people would call ngepan dujung marik are meant for brides. The skirt is called kain buri/kain burik i.e. velvet sewn with cowrie shells into intricate and beautiful designs. This ngepan was significant in Kapit area.
- This ngepan is worn in the Batang Ai, Engkelili, Lubuk Antu area. It is called ngepan lampit tusu as the two silver belts or lampit pirak is worn cris-crossing the breasts. This ngepan is famous as it shows the beauty of silver accessories on an Iban women those days.
4) Ngepan Ringgit
- Ngepan ringgit is worn in the Skrang area. The word “ringgit” means coins hence this ngepan is full of coins linked to each other to form a dress or part of a dress.
There you go the old ngepan making their comeback and I bet they will be here to stay if the younger generation relives the tradition and embrace them like water and air.