Thursday, July 24, 2008

Long House: Bed and Breakfast

A night in the long house is a moment worthy of an everlasting memory. The place is not cozy nor graded with stars. The stay is more worthwhile if you sleep at the ruai.

The host will provide you with a pillow, blanket,mat and a mattress. The best experience is obtained if you sleep on the's cooling. Mosquito coils are lighted and set at the upper and lower ruai, next to where you sleep. These are to kill any mosquitoes that might be attracted by your presence. To wade out any evil spirits that might roam the night, a kerosene lamp is placed at the opposite side where you sleep.

The dawn will be cool and refreshing as the wind from the hills or river sweeps across the ruai. As such, no matter how late you sleep, definitely you'll wake up early.

Breakfast is early and is not what you think it would be. It is more like lunch time, just that the time was early morning; usually at about 7.00 am.

The rice and dishes were prepared by biliks and served at the headman (Tuai Rumah) ruai. If the long house is 20 doors long, then you'll have 20 dishes to choose from. Everybody that are present in the long house will sit together with you and enjoy the breakfast.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Watery Grave

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fish offals

Exotic fish such as semah, tengadak or even empurau are very expensive and hard to come by. They are some sort of seasonal fish, only available when the river water is clear so as to say that the days are sunny and no rains. It was during this time that you could catch these fishes. How ever the catches were dwindling every season.

Not only the flesh of these fishes were consumed. The offals were also considered a delicacy and much sought after. Before the offals could be consumed, the gills and guts contains have to be removed.

Offals are washed and cleaned. Some salt is added and chopped chili peppers thrown in. The whole thing is put inside a cooking pot and cooked using fire wood.

Then it is served and eaten as an appetizer meaning that a spoon full is put on your plate and eaten with a mouth full of rice. The taste is a bit bitter and strong but taste full.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Long House: Head hunting

The ibans have been always been notorious for head hunting, a custom which is now been eradicated. It was essentially a religious practice, the ibans seeking a consecration for every important event's of his life by the acquistion of one or more skulls.

The young man is not admitted to full tribal rights, nor can he woo a bride with any hope of success, until he has a skull or more to adorn his hut: a chief's authority would not be acknowledged without such trophies of his prowess.

The strictest rules govern head hunting; a period of fasting,of isolation in a taboo hut, precedes the expedition, for which the iban clothes himself in the skins of wild beast. The ibans prefers the head of a fellow tribesman and the hunt is usually one of ambush rather than of open combat. Skulls those of enemies are held in great veneration.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Long House : Sadau

This is what you'll observe in a "bilik" or "door" of an Iban long house. In the Iban community,
a "bilik" or "door" is equivalent to a single unit or house as you and me would normally see it.

In this view, you are standing in the bedroom or rather living space and facing the kitchen area.
The staircase leads to the "sadau".

This is what you'll see as you're standing in the kitchen area. You could clearly see that the room has two levels.

The top level is called "sadau" which literally translates as upstairs, and is accessible by means of a ladder.

As in the olden days, the "sadau" is mostly used to store up things that are seldom or rarely used. It serves just like the attic that you and me are familiar with. In modern long house, "sadau" also seconds as the living quarters.

Lower floor serves as both the living room and bedroom by the family. The transformation from bedroom to living room usually takes place as early as dawn and vice versa after dinner. You could easily notice the mattress ,dressing table and cupboard for clothes on the right hand corner of the pic.

Here you could see the "sadau". The lighting for the "sadau" is provided by sun rays. Most long houses have their own sky light roof so that the "sadau" is always lighted.

This view was taken as we are approaching the kitchen area. Eventually the whole space will be walled up and a room will be created.

Long House: Tanjuk

Tanjuk is the space between the wall of the long house and the immediate compound. It is also the space that is being utilized for the drying of clothes, firewood, etc.

This is a view from a semi-traditional long house. Here you can see a lot of things kept and stacked under the veranda.

The sight of dogs and other domesticated animals roaming around the long house is getting rarer these days.

This is a semi-modern long house and the compound is well kept. Those sacks contains sand and pebbles that were collected from the river. These were the basic building materials for the manufacturing of cement-bricks.

Those blocks partly hidden under the orange plastic sheet were cement-bricks. Cement-bricks were widely used as the cost of transporting bricks from the factories were too expensive.

The partly completed wall of this long house is made from cement-brick, which were made by long house folks themselves. The process was simple and they only need to buy cement. Sand and pebbles could be obtained free from the river. A bag of 50kg cement could produce 150-160 pieces of cement-brick, the size of regular brick. It was said to be more durable than regular bricks.

What ever the status of the long house, satellite dish is a very common sight nowadays. These could be obtained cheaply and easy to install. Besides the coverage is very excellence and with little or no maintenance cost. Most important of all, the cost is one-off and no worries of late payment and termination of services.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Long House : One that didn't get away

Quills of Thecurus crassispinis

Dried skin of Manis javanica

Lower jaw of Sus scrofa

Display of various horns.
First and third from right belongs to the Cervus timorensis.
Second from right, which is much smaller that those two belongs to Muntiacus atherodes

This is the exco-skeleton of Callagur borneoensis

Long House : Jars and Gongs

Jars or Tajaus are very priced items the the longhouse people owned. Tajaus are named according to their sizes ,designs or of what type of material that they are made of.

Tajaus are used for storage of various things. Rice being the most common one, though some might store or make tuak in tajau.

These are the iban gongs and they are made from metal. Gongs are mainly used for creating music.

A display of Tajaus and Gongs.

This is a very rare tajau.

Long House : Ruai

Ruai is the common space between the "biliks" or rooms with the front portion of the longhouse.
This is also where most of the activities of the longhouse is being carried out. The one shown in this pic is very common nowadays.

This is how the typical ruai of the longhouse looks like. Rattan mats are used for sitting. During the day time, longhouse folks will flocks together to do their chores, chat or share stories. Here the temperature is cooler.

Sometimes the ruai is being used for temporary storage of goods, especially paddy. During the day time when the sun shine, the women will dry the paddy on mats placed on the longhouse compound. Until the the paddy is dried enough for milling, the ruai serves as the temporary store.

If you notice, every door of the ruai has a light and an electric fan. This appliances will only be used during the night time or there are VIP's. Normally, the biliks will used only their own generators. Those in the ruai used generator which is meant for common usage. Oh yes, electricity supply to rural areas are by means of diesel generators operated by individual long house.

Long House: Outboard Engine

When your mode of transport is by river, outboard engine rules. The make and power is of uttermost important. Some model is the signature of your economic status and the number that you owned shows that you're a cut above others.

Outboard engines are just like cars. They are kept and secured in garage of their own. The owners do keep their engines in tip top condition by means of regular servicing and proper handling.

Propellers is very important , the type of which will ensure that your journey is smooth and safe. This is very very true if most of your journey is through low water, rocks and rapids. For this type of route, propellers type 1 and 2 from left is used. These propellers are the geared type which will ensure uninterrupted journey through rocks and low water level.

The 3rd propeller is the type that used cotter pin. This is only suitable for rivers that are deep and free from rocks or rapids. Pins of brass type will break easily and have to be changed whenever the propeller hits something solid. Steel type pin will not break easily, but a bit tricky to change whenever the propeller hit something solid, coz the pin will just bend.

Long House: Public Notice

Fire has been the major causes of long houses being burnt down. Most of the time this occurs when the long house was left unattended, as most of the occupants were out to tend their farms.
As precautionary measures, a sort of time table which has been agreed by all the inhabitants and each "bilek" or door take turns to look after the long house and scout for the bilik that did not put off their kitchen fire.

This notice translates :" Today is my turn to look after our long house. Whoever causes fire to the long house will be fined RM 30/-. This has been agreed by us in this long house."

A long house is a community. It is every body duty to keep the compound and surrounding clean and tidy at all time. The bigger the long house, harder it becomes to look after. It is the responsibility of of all to ensure that cleanliness is maintain at all times and thus a regular cleaning up time table is set up. It is a compulsory commitment and nobody is excused from participating.

This notice tranlates as :"New Regulations:-Whoever did not turn up during the general cleaning will be fined RM 30/-."


Discomfort Zone The Buwau98 Chronicles