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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

KELING -The Iban(Sea Dayak) Legendary of God.

Sea Dayak (Iban) -Traditional Costume
Following their arrival in Borneo, they settled with the descendant of Bejie which includes the Orang Panggau-Gellong who were the original Iban community of Borneo. 

They settled along the upper reaches of the Kapuas River in what is now Kalimantan Barat. Their original settlement in the Kapuas is said to have been in a place called Semitau Tuai. From there they made a series of migration until a place called Tampun Juak. Here they overcome a series of supernatural calamities such as the appearance of excrement from nowhere causing epidemic and death to the people. There were stories of attack by turtle and fish (ikan kenyulong) that came out of water, their natural element, and attack the settlers along the riverbanks.

To escape these disasters, Keling and Tutong, leaders of the Panggau-Gelong heroes, led a migration to Nanga Skapat, on the Skapat River, a true left tributary of the Kapuas River. It was here, according to mythic tradition, that a quarrel occurred between two of the heroes, Laja and Sempurai, that brought about the final separation of these heroes, Si Gundi of the orang Panggau and orang Gellong from the ancestors of the present day Iban people, who were also his younger brothers, Retak Daai, Lalak Pala, Bernai Sugi, Kurong Mayang, Bui Nasi and Belangkat. Before their departure, Keling taught our ancestors how to play the percussion gendang rayah on gongs so that, even after their separation, humankind might continue to summon these heroes to the world in order to celebrate the great cycles of Gawai festivals. In the course of these rituals, the Orang Panggau act as the ritual hosts and attendants, sending out invitations and receiving the gods and ancestral spirits on behalf of their human hosts.

Sempurai is known for his enormous strength, violent, quick temper (mangahand jegak-jegak) and for his periodic fits of rage. It was because of this that he quarreled with his cousin, Laja, both of them were principal companion of Keling. As a consequence of their continuous fighting,Keling  decided to depart from this human world and also separated from Tutong and his Gellong followers.

He brought along the Panggau River and put in its place a present day Batang Ketungau. Tutong for his part similarly replaced the Gellong River with the Kapuas, but in the process, he inadvertently left behind Bukit Gellong, a steep hill in the upper Ketungau River.

Today, this hill remains, a physical monument to the heroes’ former presence in the visible world. Also like other prominent hills, it remains a place of possible encounter to which living iban journey in hope of meeting the Orang Panggau and for gaining their personal guardianship.

Following their departure from the visible world, the followers of Keling founded a new settlement at a site called Panggau Libau, menoa Luchak Lunyau Kena Biau Jila Isang or the land muddied by those forever waving the palm leaves of victory. It was told that a visitor, entering from either end of the longhouse, must pass 170 apartment doors before he reaches that of Keling’s bilik at its centre. Those under Tutong, settled at Nanga Gellong, at a longhouse called Gellong Batu Benang or Gellong of the spindle whorls, situated at the confluence of the Panggau and Gellong Rivers.

Gellong is the natal home of the great heroine weavers, including Keling’s wife, Kumang. From these settlements, the Orang Panggau continued to involve themselves in the affairs of the Iban people. Keling and Laja are the best known of the Panggau-Gellong heroes. Laja is the principal companion of Keling. His chief task is to smoke the trophy heads (nyampu antu pala), which they bring back from the battlefield.

The other principal warriors under Keling’s command are Sempurai and Pungga. Sempurai is said to be of demon ancestry, a descendant of Telichu, hence his violent temper and unpredictable nature. By some account, Simpurai is a son of the arch demon Beduru or Nising (arch enemy of the God of War, Sengalang Burong). He was captured by Keling’s father as a child and raised as an adopted member of the heroes’ family. Saribas Iban also knows Sempurai as Bungai Nuing. Tutong, the Gellong leader, is the principal blacksmith of the heroes, the forager of iron spears and swords.

Keling is portrayed in the epic sagas as handsome and brave, yet wayward. Upon reaching manhood, he develops a tendency of a wandering life. Again and again, he disappears for months, even years at a time. He possesses miraculous powers of metamorphosis and in his wandering, assumes many different forms. He is married to Kumang, the most beautiful and accomplished of the Gellong heroines. The two are much given to amorous adventures, becomes the husband or lover of many other women, although he usually returns to Kumang in the end. Kumang, for her part, takes similar liberties.

After the separation of Orang Panggau from mankind, the ancestors of the Iban multiply, establishing themselves in new longhouses under a number of successive leaders. In the generations that follow, both mythic narratives and genealogies tell of frequent meetings between the ancestors and the spirits. The Remun Dayak story tells of their ancestor meeting with the spirit tiger. In this story, a tiger carries off a young girl. Her father journeys to the longhouse of the spirit tiger in the invisible realm of the souls and spirits and there he took revenge on the killer tiger that have violated proper relations between spirit and mankind, leaving themselves open to human retaliation.

Another similar myth is a story of a man named Jimbun and the spirit crocodile. In this myth, Jimbun’s daughter was captured and killed by a crocodile. Jimbun went to the underwater realm of the crocodile and took revenge for the death of his daughter. There is also a myth of spirits Puntang Raga who enter human world and taught Sarapoh the rules of funerals and observing the mourning periods. The spirit Puntang Raga also appear five generations later and taught Betie Berauh Ngumbang to modify Sengalang Burong’s punishment for incestuous relationship.In other myth, the spirits enters the human world in order to marry mortals by whom they bear ancestral offspring, for example, Jelenggai and Bunsu Bintang Banyak who taught the Iban to follow the movement of Pleiades constellation for guidance for farming on earth, Numpi and Bunsu Patin produce a descendant of Skrang and Saribas people, Salamuda and Bunsu Babi or Dayang Manis Muka who taught the Iban how to predict individual destiny by observing patterns on pig liver, Remi the originator of sabak and a demon named Damu or Rukok who taught the Iban how to conduct raids on enemy territory and establish the first marriage law, Gupi and demon named Gerasi Belang Pinggang made first modification to the marriage laws.


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