Also known as: Sea Dayaks

The Iban are an ethnolinguistic group that now live primarily in Sarawak, but are believed to have migrated from the Upper Kapuas region of Kalimantan within the past few hundred years. In the nineteenth century they were notorious for headhunting and resistance to colonial control. The principal Iban god was Sengalang Bulong, who manifested himself in the form of a Brahminy Kite.

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Traditional Culture(1839)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Perham (1881)
Jensen (1974), pp. 106-109, 115-140, 157-194
Nature god(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Perham (1881)
Jensen (1974), pp. 157-205
Ancestral spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 100-140
Wadley (1999)
Deified ancestor(s) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 71-140, 203-204
God(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 100-140
Perham (1881)
Wadley (1999)

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 72, 117

Afterlife and Creation

One's actions while living can affect the nature of one's afterlife Absent (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 108
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife Principal determinant of one's afterlife (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 95, 108
Myth of humanity’s creation Present, and creationist (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 73-75
Primordial pair Absent (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 73-76
Culture hero(es) Absent (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 71-99

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Perham (1881)

Classes of Tapu

Social hierarchy tapu Present (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 93-94
Resource management tapu Absent (Source)
Jensen (1974)
Kinship tapu Present (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 39-40, 81-82

Mana

Mana as a spiritual or religious concept Present (Source)
Blevins (2008), pp. 263
Mana and social status Mana is associated with social status, but high social status is not necessary in order to be mana or have mana. (Source)
Blevins (2008), pp. 263
Mana as a personal quality Present (Source)
Blevins (2008), pp. 263
Mana related to social influence or technical skill Present (Source)
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Present (Source)
Gomes (1911), pp. 72-85
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Gomes (1911), pp. 202-204
Largest religious community Larger than a household, no larger than the local community (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 59-64, 157-199
Political and religious differentiation Considerable overlap between religious and political leaders (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 23-40, 59-60

Rites

Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Gomes (1911), pp. 35-40
Scarification Absent from culture (Source)
Gomes (1911), pp. 35-40
Piercing Absent from culture (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 35-40
Tattooing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Gomes (1911), pp. 37
Genital cutting Present in culture, but not a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Gomes (1911), pp. 321
Social Environment +
Population 100,000 (Source)
Pringle (1968), pp. 15, 18
Population of largest political community 100-999 (Source)
Pringle (1968), pp. 2-3,34-39
Importance of Patrilateral descent Medium (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97
Pringle (1968), pp. 33
Importance of Matrilateral descent Medium (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97
Pringle (1968), pp. 33
Polygamy Monogamy preferred, but exceptional cases of polygyny (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97
Pringle (1968), pp. 87
Marital residence Ambilocal - with either wife's or husband's kin (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97

Conflict

(No) external warfare Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Pringle (1968), pp. 1-45
Conflict within community Low (Source)
Freeman (1981), pp. 32
Pringle (1968), pp. 35
(No) internal warfare Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Pringle (1968), pp. 1-95
Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Pringle (1968), pp. 60-95
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 0.0 (Source)
Pringle (1968), pp. 15
Distance to nearest continent 739.0 (Source)
Pringle (1968), pp. 4, 15, 17-18
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Pre-Austronesian population Present: Clear evidence of human occupation prior to Austronesian settlement (Source)
Bellwood (1995), pp. 109
Hindu / Buddhist influence on supernatural belief Evidence of influence (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 83, 100
Islamic influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Pringle (1968), pp. 63
Jensen (1974)
Christian influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence and not in region of known contact (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 60-95
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Medium (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Minor (Source)
Gomes (1911), pp. 53-54, 87
Land-based gathering Major (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97
Gomes (1911), pp. 87
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Minor (Source)
Gomes (1911), pp. 53-54
Agriculture / Horticulture Principal (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 96-97
Gomes (1911), pp. 87

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Major (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97
Gomes (1911), pp. 54-56
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Major (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97
Gomes (1911), pp. 54-56, 87
Water-based gathering Major (Source)
Sutlive (1973), pp. 23

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Medium (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 96-97
Pringle (1968), pp. 92
Metalworking Present (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97
Lebar (1972), pp. 182
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture One (Source)
Pringle (1968), pp. 17

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Continental island (Source)
Quek (2009), pp. 112
Island Size (km²) 740000.0 (Source)
Quek (2009), pp. 111
Maximum elevation (meters) 4095.0 (Source)
Quek (2009), pp. 112

Location

Latitude 1.2 (Source)
Pringle (1968), pp. 11,17
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 111.6 (Source)
Pringle (1968), pp. 11,17
Post Contact History(1839-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +

Conversion

Use of force in conversion Low (Source)
Postill (2000), pp. 128, 191
Varney (2010)
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
Hasegawa (2018)
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Wagner (1972), pp. 42-43
Kheung (2006), pp. 15-16

Syncretic Movements

Syncretic religious movements Absent (Source)
Postill (2000)
Varney (2010)
Wagner (1972), pp. 42-43
Secular History +

Demographic and Social Changes

Foreign government systems Present, and of high importance (Source)
Pringle (1968), pp. 111-112
Immigration Medium (Source)
Kheung (2006), pp. 20
Language shift Medium (Source)
Postill (2000), pp. 26
Eberhard (2020)
Foreign education systems High (Source)
Postill (2000), pp. 26

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence Medium (Source)
Kheung (2006), pp. 14-15

Modern Infrastructure

Vehicles and roads Present and widely used (Source)
Postill (2000), pp. 26
Air travel Present and long-distance (Source)
Dent & Richter (2011)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97
Sea port Present (Source)
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (2009), pp. 162
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97

Loss of Autonomy

Nature of loss of autonomy Largely involuntary (Source)
Pringle (1968), pp. 111-112
Loss of political autonoomy High (Source)
Pringle (1968), pp. 111-112
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Dominant world religion Christianity (Source)
Hasegawa (2018)
External Links
References
Austin, R. F. (1977). Iban Migration: Patterns of Mobility and Employment in the 20th Century (PhD dissertation). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan.

Bellwood, P. (1995). Austronesian Prehistory in Southeast Asia: Homeland, Expansion and Transformation. P. Bellwood, J.J. Fox, & D. Tryon (Eds.), The Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives (pp 113-114). Canberra, Australia: ANU Press.

Blevins, J. (2008). Some Comparative Notes on Proto-Oceanic *Mana: Inside and Outside the Austronesian Family. Oceanic Linguistics, 47 (2), 253-274. Retrieved from http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/ol/summary/v047/47.2.blevins.html

Blust, R. (2007). Proto-Oceanic *Mana Revisited. Oceanic Linguistics, 46(2), 404-423. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20172322

Brunton, R. (1989). The Abandoned Narcotic: Kava and Cultural Instability in Melanesia. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Daft Logic Distance Calculator. (2014). http://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-distance-calculator.htm.

Dent, C. M. & Richter, P. (2011). Sub-Regional Cooperation and Developmental Regionalism: The Case of BIMP-EAGA. Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs, 33 (1), 29-55. DOI: 10.1355/cs33-1b

Eberhard, D. M., Simons, G. F., & Fennig, C. D. (eds.). (2020). Ethnologue: Languages of the World (23rd ed.). Dallas, TX: SIL International. Retrieved from http://www.ethnologue.com

Freeman, D. (1981). Some Reflections on the Nature of Iban Society. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files. Retrieved from http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/ehrafe/citation.do?method=citation&forward=browseCulturesFullContext&col=collection%28%27/eHRAF/ethnography/Asia/OC06%27%29&docId=oc06-019&tocOffsetId=tocPubInfoP

Gomes, E. H. (2011). Seventeen years among the Sea Dyaks of Borneo: A record of intimate association with the natives of the Bornean jungles. London, U.K.: Seeley & Co., Ltd. Retrieved from https://ehrafworldcultures-yale-edu/ehrafe/citation.do?method=citation&forward=browseCulturesFullContext&col=collection(%27/eHRAF/ethnography/Asia/OC06%27)&docId=oc06-007&tocOffsetId=tocPubInfoP

Google Maps (2014). Retrieved from maps.google.com

Hasegawa, G. (2018). Iban gawai rituals in their twilight in Kapit, Malaysia. Indonesia and the Malay World, 46(135), 198-217.

Jensen, E. (1974). The Iban and their Religion. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from https://ehrafworldcultures-yale-edu/ehrafe/citation.do?method=citation&forward=browseCulturesFullContext&col=collection(%27/eHRAF/ethnography/Asia/OC06%27)&docId=oc06-021&tocOffsetId=tocPubInfoP

Keesing, R. M. (1984). Rethinking "mana". Journal of Anthropological Research, 40(1), 137-156, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3629696.

Kheung, L. C. (2006). The Iban Population of Sarawak, 1947-2000. Institute of East Asian Studies: Working Paper Series No. 13. Kota Samarahan, Malaysia: University of Malaysia Sarawak.

Lebar, F. (Ed.). (1972). Eastern Sumbanese in Ethnic Groups of Insular Southeast Asia. Volume 1: Indonesia, Andaman Islands, and Madagascar. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files Press.

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (2009). World Port Index Nineteenth Edition. Bethesda, MD: National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

Perham, J. (1881). Petara, or Sea Dayak gods. Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 8, 133-152. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/41497511

Postill, J. R. (2000). Borneo Again: Media, Social Life and Nation-Building among the Iban of Malaysian Borneo (Unpublished PhD dissertation). London: University College London.

Pringle, R. M. (1968). The Ibans of Sarawak under Brooke rule, 1841-1941. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms.

Quek, S. (2009). Borneo. In R. G. Gillespie & D. A. Clague (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Islands (pp 111-116). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

St. John, S. 1862. Life in the forests of the Far East. Kuala Lumpur. NY: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/lifeinforestsoff01stjo/mode/2up

Sutlive, V. H. (1973). From Longhouse to PASAR: urbanization in Sarawak, East Malaysia. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms.

Sutlive, V. H. (1993). Iban. In Hockings, P. (Ed.) Encyclopedia of World Cultures Volume 5: East and Southeast Asia (96-99). NY: G.K. Hall and Company.

Varney, P. Iban Leaders in the Anglican Church in Sarawak, 1848-2010. Sarawak Museum Journal XVII. Retrieved from: http://www.academia.edu/680937/Iban_Leaders_in_the_Anglican_Church_1848-1968

Wadley, R. L. (1999). Disrespecting the Dead and the Living: Iban Ancestor Worship and the Violation of Mourning Taboos. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 5(4), 595-610. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2661150

Wagner, U. (1972). Colonialism and Iban Warfare. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files. Retrieved from http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/ehrafe/citation.do?method=citation&forward=browseCulturesFullContext&col=collection%28%27/eHRAF/ethnography/Asia/OC06%27%29&docId=oc06-024&tocOffsetId=tocPubInfoP