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Monday, 31 July 2017

Ngepan Batang Rajang, in its Raw Beauty

This would be my second post on Ngepan Batang Rajang this month after my blogpost on the wedding of the late Tun Jugah's granddaughter.

On 29 July 2017, the raw beauty of Ngepan Batang Rajang made its comeback on the final round of The Face of M.O Sarawak for Kumang Edition held in Bintulu. 

Ms Jessy Gantle, hailing from Kapit who wore the ngepan Batang Rajang wowed the panel of judges and audience by displaying the ngepan in its most original state. Not only kept the audience mesmerised but she also won the title as the Face of M.O. Sarawak. The ngepan belongs to Mr. Sandine Bennidect of Bintulu. 

The Face of M.O Sarawak 2017 Kumang Edition,
Ms Jessy Gantle

With Mr. Sandine Bennidect, the owner of the Ngepan Batang Rajang

It was a difficult journey for Mr Sandine while trying to promote the ngepan and I managed to witness my first ngepan Batang Rajang being displayed at the Borneo Hornbill Festival 2012.  

Mr. Sandine's Ngepan Batang Rajang at BHF 2012

Dujung Marik headgear is super heavy!
Many were in awe when they first see this ngepan as it is very outstanding as compared to the standard ngepan Iban due to the head gear. 

Does it exist?

Yes of course!

Below are some historical record for you to see, thanks to the internet and easy sharing of information these information are made available at  your fingertips. 

As unique as it looks, now what makes a Ngepan Batang Rajang?

Front view

Back view

First of all, the headgear is called Dujung Marik, it is basically made out of many materials such as beads, rattan headcap, colorful threads, hornbill feathers among the main ones. It can also be decorated with coins and shells depending of the creativity of the maker. 

The rattan base

The beads and colorful thread

All the materials

Finished product

"Dujung" would simply means headgear as what was said by Mr. Sandine. One interesting point to note is that when people say "berdujung bungai rangkai" it means adorning the chignon (sanggul) with flowers made out of paper.

Berdujung Bungai Rangkai

Jessy wearing the Dujung

Myself wearing Sugu Tinggi Pirak
Next, is the marik empang, the beaded collar. Moving on to the beaded dress is called Baju Marik. Baju Marik is basically a beaded dress made out of old glass beads, blue barrel beads, straw beads, fire agate or buah pelaga, brass bells and cowrie shells strung together to form a dress which will be worn over the body. 

Sandine Collection

Tun Jugah collection
Close up view
Rawai pandak pirak or short silver corset is worn together with the black camisole and Kain Buri (cowrie shell skirt). Rawai or corset is made out of tiny silver rings strung around circular rattan body and each circle is assembled and attached on top of each other until it forms to the desired height. Normally rawai pandak would be about 6 to 8 inches in height.  

Rawai Pandak Pirak

Then the wearer's wrists are adorned with Rangki or bangles made out of bones. Other than rangki, sometimes the wrists can also be adorned with Tumpa Bulu, which are bangles made out of tree sap. Tumpa bulu is normally brown in color while rangki is white. While the normal ngepan Iban the wrists would be adorned with tumpa pirak.

Tumpa bulu
Tumpa pirak & tumpa rangkup

Instead of holding a set of buah pauh pirak, a complete ngepan Batang Rajang costume wearer would be holding the orb shaped bells called Gerunong Siong on either side of the hands and a handkerchief on the other. 

Gerunong Siong

Buah pauh pirak
Black has always been controversial when it comes to Kumang Iban pageants. As for the Iban of Batang Rajang, their celebratory costume is black based and a clear example of it is the Kain Buri or a black skirt sewn with white cowrie shells in contrast with bright coloured kain karap or kain kebat

Kain Buri

Kain Kebat
Kain karap
Next significant accessory is Tali Ujan, it is a beaded "tail" hung at the back of the ngepan which would normally have cow bells that will hit the wearer's ankles to alarm the people that a kumang is coming. 

Last but not the least is Gelang Giring as compared to the normal Geruncong Kaki / gelang kaki. Gelang giring is a pair of huge anklets made of brass and have ball bearings instead of bells inside of the cavity of the anklet. 

Tali Ujan
Gelang Giring

There you go, some bits on the authentic Ngepan Batang Rajang from Kapit. It goes to show that there are many types of ngepan or costumes being worn by the Iban tribes in Sarawak. Each ngepan would depend on the area which the tribe resided and perhaps also being influenced by economy surrounding the area at that point of time.

Many thanks to Mr. Sandine Bennidect, Ms.Jessy Gantle, Mr. Mizta, Hedges Photography and the rest of my Facebook friends who contributed in giving some insight about this special and unique ngepan.

Let's share the love for Ngepan Batang Rajang of Kapit shall we?

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