Leading the VIPs to the Longhouse
Arriving at Smaram, Nanga Tada
A boat picked us up at Smaram and the half an hour journey to Rumah Richard Nujong gave me some time to enjoy the river view. I asked Danny to be the 'Jaga Luan' or the 'watchout' in front of the boat. The work involves watching out for floating wood that may cause the outboat motors propeller to stall. Not only does he drive well (he swears well too) on the road, he makes a good 'jaga luan.'
View of the Jaga Luan watching out for the wood on the water. It is a highly disciplined function as you should be distracted by the pretty ladies taking their bath at the river banks
Danny was fascinated by the umbrella in this longboat
We arrived at the longhouse well before the VIP guests arrived. I had actually informed Danny that he was going to visit a modern Iban longhouse where the ways of the past are not practiced anymore. And there will be no sacrificial act of pig killing I informed him. So if any of the readers there are not comfortable with animal killing rituals, this video clip video is not for you. Don't say I did not warn you as I warned Danny - its just an act? Or is it - I got Danny convinced.
You can hear that Danny voice in the video - anxiously waiting for the sacrificial ceremony. Well I have to say we did try our best to convince our visiting Singaporean guest that it was a rubber chicken.
The Mangkung Tiang Ceremony signifies the completion of our new longhouse Rumah Richard Nujong after the previous longhouse was dismantled due to the threat of river bank erosion. The act of 'hitting' the 'main supporting beam' in every bilik of the longhouse was done in a ceremonial fashion according to Iban Custom.
Hanging the miring offering after a chicken was sacrificed
After that the 'offering' is to be hanged at the supporting beam - with the 'chicken's blood at the tip of the feathers'
At the same time, the longhouse also launched its website. Preparing the website launch has caused me sleepless nights as I was responsible and I had not known what was available at the longhouse. I had never actually seen how a website was launched in an isolated place but one needs to be creative in doing that. While preparing the materials in Kuching I was making all sorts of backup to make sure that the launch would be smooth. I was really surprised that the organising committee was well prepared for the launch. Everything was there for me to proceed with the event and it went smoothly.
In his remarks the Tuai Rumah or Headman mentioned that as part of its effort to promote modern longhouse living, the completion of the website is also in line with the State Government's request to utilize the Information Technology as a way to promote the longhouse especially to tourists - both local and foreign. The longhouse has been recieving visitors since the late 1970s. It will also bring to light the modern longhouse living in this part of the region. Well we had a Singaporean guest for the mangkung tiang. The website can be viewed at Beguang.Com.
So overall it was a fun outing though it has been a 36 hour stint - as Danny and I had to drive back to Kuching again. Danny had been introduced to other activities that we in an Iban Longhouse enjoy that night. I hope he would be able to learn the meaning of Ngirup Sampai Pagi and Joget Sampai Pagi. He showed me that he is also capable of Tinduk (Sleep) Sampai Pagi.
Danny and his Kingfisher (Strong)
Joget Sampai Pagi
News on the Mangkung Tiang Ceremony ET 30 October 2006
For more photos of the event visit the longhouse website as I will be loading the photos there.