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Monday, 22 May 2017

The Costume of Dayung Bisingai

After many years of witnessing ethnic pageants I would say ethnic costumes of different ethnicity would have different versions and styles based on its locality. However, particularly with the modernisation of fashion itself and trend, the "originality" of such ethnic costumes might be stripped off due to over accessorising of the costumes. As years go by, with the many "add ons" being added to the costumes, the younger generation are now confused on even with the basic knowledge of wearing their ethnic costumes

As for me, Ngepan Iban consists of many accessories depending on the area of the ngepan. However, no matter how different it may be from each other, the costumes should at least display basic accessories and extra accessories should be adorned with caution so much so that it would not make the ngepan look like a Christmas tree or even offend others (especially the elders) because of incorrect usage of accessories due to taboo.  

Ms. Mia Saches is one of my Facebook friend who I always noticed that she really always emphasise on the correct way to way the Bidayuh costume. I came across one of the posts recently with her wearing the Dayung Bisingai or Woman of Singai costume to an event in Sarawak. 

I proposed to her that I would like to feature her view in the Dayung Bisingai costume and the basic way to wear it since posts on Facebook might simply 'disappear' in the archive and only to be reminded of it once the anniversary comes. I am glad that she agreed to share her knowledge with me and I hope I explained well in this blog of mine. 

Furthermore, it is the aspiration of Ms. Mia that she wants to see younger Bidayuh generation to know and understand not just their costume but their culture too. 

She wants them to accept their costume just the way it is  with no mix and matching. When all of these have been achieved, only then the Bidayuh costume can reach and "established"status like ngepan Iban.

Anyway, before we move on with our post for today, let me introduce to you Ms. Mia Saches:

Name: Angelina Hermia Charles Saches
Race: Bidayuh (Biperoh: Dad + Bisingai: Mother)
Lives in Kuching
She has been the jury for Dayung Sikora & Bujang Pogan REDEEMS Siingai 2015 and Dayung Gawea Tematu 2016.

Ms. Mia Saches in her simple Dayung Bisingai costume

Like where is Singai? The book "Singai Unveiled" would be a good source for you to know more about Singai area. 

Finally, we come to the part where we learn a thing or two about the costume of Dayung Bisingai. 

 (Patrick Rigep Nuek)
Ms. Mia showed me one of her reference is this book written by Mr. Patrick Rigep Nuek entitled "A DAYAK BIDAYUH COMMUNITY RITUALS, CEREMONIES & FESTIVALS" where it briefly explained the usage of accessories in the Bidayuh costume.

"Around her waist she would wear 'porik' (strings of silver tiny chains about 7.5cm in width), rawai (formed of tiny rolls of silver) and 'bokos kupuong (a silver belt). She would also wear bangles on both wrists, usually of solid silver, called 'gorang suat boid'. - page 59

"Around their waist were worn a number of ornamental belts and other decorations. Different kinds of silver belt included the 'bokos kupuong' and the 'porik'. A 'rawai' was created from small coils of silver arranged in such a way that they formed a belt about 10cm in width. Joining the front opening of their 'bojuh' tops was a linked series of silver brooches called 'krusang'. 'Krabu' (earrings) and 'sinuod' (a comb made of animal bone) were also worn, along with other jewellery. - page 226 & 228

The Headgear is called "Bojuh"
It is said that the "Bojuh" is adorned as a headgear in order to protect the 'soul' of the Dayung Boris. Particularly, it is to protect the soul from escaping or "tidak hilang" or "kalah semangat" when they are in the state of trance while performing the ritual. In contrast with bojuh, a sipiah would be worn as the normal Bidayuh headgear.

Sipiah (front view)
Sipiah (back view)

Earrings called "Krabu"
The earrings are made out of old coins and the normally do not wear beaded earrings.

The early attires of the Bidayuh were made from materials obtained from the jungle. This evidence can be seen by their bangles made out of rattan called "Jaka", "Stotoh" made out of rattan and the 'bone' of a fern called stotoh.

Jaka made from rattan

The brown colored material is the 'bone' of the fern, the white piece is rattan
Besides bangles made from jungle sourced materials, they too have the bangle made out of steel which is called "Gorang Suat Boid".

Gorang Suat Boid
Next, we move on to the bodice part of the costume. 

The necklaces adorned is called "Pangieh" which is beaded necklace designed with common Bidayuh patterns and colours. Normally, one one pangieh is sufficient. The longer necklace worn across the left shoulder to right is called "Sombon". Sombon is made out of round glass beads in dark green and dark blue called "rikis browan" with  some stringing of wildboar's fangs and old bells.

Pangieh and Sombon

Old "Krusang"
"Krusang" is basically a metal brooch stringed in three tier and it is one of the rarest items that can be found nowadays. 
"Sirapai" or the red sash is worn together at the bodice and normally a sirapai for the female would be fancier in its design as compared to the male sirapai

The belts
If you are to refer the photo above, the Bisingai costume would have an array of different metal belts adorned on their waists. Based on the photo from top to bottom, the belts are "Bokos Kupuong", then "Rawai"(formed of tiny rolls of silver) and finally "Porik(strings of silver tiny chains about 7.5cm in width). 
Jomuh Proras
The significant black skirt designed with silver, gold lace and red fabric is called "Proras Jomuh". Sometimes it can also be further adorned with bells and coins depending on the creativity of the designer.

Gorang Po on

Bidayuh ladies of Bisingai do not wear silver anklet like the Iban ladies, instead they wear anklet made out of stringed brass bell called "Gorang Po on" (note: the pronunciation and name of this accessory might differ from one place to another, after comments in the FB we take it as gorang po on)

So, there you go, the costume of Dayung Bisingai of Bau, Sarawak. Yes, it is definitely way different from the ngepan Iban. I believe that even if a costume might be simple it should not be adorned with unnecessary accessories in order to make it more beautiful. 

This is my first feature on costumes of different ethnicity and I would love to feature your ethnic costume if you are willing to share with me the input just like how Ms. Mia shared with me. In our opinion, this is the time to educate and enlighten the younger generation, if not now, then when?  

Finally, I would like to thank again Ms. Mia Saches and the rest of my Facebook friends who contributed their ideas for this post. Photo credit to Ms. Mia.