Also known as: Sea Dayaks

The Iban are believed to have originated in the Upper Kapuas region of Borneo. During the nineteenth century they expanded north and east through migration and conquest. Iban worshipped ancestral figures called betara, as well as a number of gods. The principal Iban god was Sengalang Bulong, who manifested himself in the form of a Brahminy Kite.

Show Map of Location

Traditional Culture(1895-1920)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 106-108, 112, 125-128, 135-136
Nature god(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 77-78, 181, 187, 205
Ancestral spirits Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Wadley (1999), pp. 598-599
Deified ancestor(s) Present, and the principal focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Wadley (1999), pp. 598-599
Jensen (1974), pp. 84-89
God(s) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 83-92, 195-196

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 Actions while living do not affect the nature of one’s afterlife (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 107-108
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife Actions of others after one has died are the principal determinant of the nature of one’s afterlife (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 108
Myth of humanity’s creation Present, and creationist (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 73-76
Primordial pair Absent (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 73-76
Culture hero(es) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 76-83, 180, 195

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 188

Classes of Tapu

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

Mana

Mana as a personal quality Present (Source)
Blevins (2008), pp. 263
Mana related to social influence or technical skill Present (Source)
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 spiritual or religious concept Present (Source)
Blevins (2008), pp. 263
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Present (Source)
Davison & Sutlive (1991), pp. 165, 171
Wagner (1972), pp. 131-132
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 79, 167-168, 178
Wadley (1999), pp. 599
Size of largest ritual social group Larger than a household, no larger than the local community (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 23-31, 39-40, 59-64, 157-208
Political and religious differentiation Considerable overlap between religious and political leaders (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 25-26, 60, 61

Rites

Piercing Absent from culture (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 182
Genital cutting Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Sandin (1995), pp. 12-13
Scarification Absent from culture (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 182
Tattooing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 182
Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 182
Social Environment +
Population 150000 (Source)
Austin (1977), pp. 15
Lebar (1972), pp. 181
Population of largest political community 1,000-9,999 (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 24, 30, 31
Lebar (1972), pp. 183
Importance of Patrilateral descent Medium (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97
Importance of Matrilateral descent Medium (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97
Polygamy Monogamy preferred, but exceptional cases of polygyny (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97
Marital residence Ambilocal - with either wife's or husband's kin (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97

Conflict

Conflict within communities Low (Source)
Freeman (1981), pp. 32
Conflict between communities of the culture Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 183
Conflict with other cultures Common, at least every five years (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 20
Sutlive (1995), pp. 7
Cultural Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Sutlive (1995), pp. 1
Jensen (1974), pp. 20
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 0.0 (Source)
Ethnologue (Map of Brunei and Sarawak) (2014)
Distance to African or Asian mainland (km) 716.9 (Source)
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Ethnologue (Map of Kalimantan) (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
Cribb (2000), pp. Map 2.21
Islamic influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 110
Cribb (2000), pp. Map 2.23
Christian influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Wagner (1972), pp. 42-43
Jensen (1974), pp. 76
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Medium (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97
Lebar (1972), pp. 182
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Minor (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 182
Land-based gathering Major (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Medium (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 182
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97
Agriculture / Horticulture Principal (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 181
Sutlive (1993), pp. 96

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Major (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97
Lebar (1972), pp. 182
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Major (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97
Lebar (1972), pp. 182
Water-based gathering Major (Source)
Sutlive (1973), pp. 23

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Absent (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 96-97
Lebar (1972), pp. 181-182
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)
Wadley (1999), pp. 597

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Latitude 2.1 (Source)
Google Maps (2014)
Jensen (1974), pp. 21
Longitude 112.0 (Source)
Google Maps (2014)
Jensen (1974), pp. 21
Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Continental island (Source)
Jensen (1974), pp. 21
Island Size (km²) 755000.0 (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Borneo) (2014)
Maximum elevation (meters) 4101.0 (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Borneo) (2014)
Post Contact History(1920-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +

Conversion

Use of force in conversion Low (Source)
Postill (2000), pp. 128, 191
Varney (2010)
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Wagner (1972), pp. 42-43
Kheung (2006), pp. 15-16
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
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)
Wagner (1972), pp. 33, 53-54, 50-76
Postill (2000), pp. 55
Immigration Medium (Source)
Kheung (2006), pp. 20
Language shift Medium (Source)
Postill (2000), pp. 26, 56
Ethnologue (2014)
Foreign education systems High (Source)
Postill (2000), pp. 26

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence Medium (Source)
Kheung (2006), pp. 14-15
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present but minor (Source)
Sutlive (1993), pp. 97

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

Loss of Autonomy

Nature of loss of autonomy Partly voluntary (Source)
Wagner (1972), pp. 50-76
Loss of political autonoomy High (Source)
Wagner (1972), pp. 33, 53-54, 50-76
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Institutional religious syncretism Medium (Source)
Postill (2000), pp. 266-277
Dominant world religion Christianity (Source)
Kheung (2006), pp. 16
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.

Baring-Gould, S. (1909). A history of the Sarawak uner its two white rajahs. London: Sutheran.

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

Cribb, R. (2000). Historical atlas of Indonesia. Surrey, UK: Curzon Press.

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

Davison, J. & Sutlive, V.H. (1991). The Children of NISING: Images of Headhunting and Male Sexuality in Iban Ritual and Oral Literature. In Sutlive, V.H. (Ed.), Female and Male in Borneo : Contributions and Challenges to Gender Studies. 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=oc06-035&tocOffsetId=tocPubInfoP

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

Encyclopaedia Britannica (Borneo). (2014). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/74286/Borneo

Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kayan). (2014). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/313709/Kayan

Ethnologue (2014). Berawan, Central: A language of Malaysia. Ethnologue. Retrieved from https://www.ethnologue.com/language/zbc

Ethnologue (2014). Map of Brunei and Malaysia - Sarawak. Ethnologue. Retrieved from http://www.ethnologue.com/map/MY_sr

Ethnologue (Map of Kalimantan). (2014). Map of Indonesia, Kalimantan. Ethnologue. Retrieved from http://www.ethnologue.com/map/ID_k__

Freeman, D. (1955). Report on the Iban of Sarawak: Vol. 1: Iban social organization. Kuching, Sarawak: Government Printing Office.

Freeman, D. (1981). Some Reflections on the Nature of Iban Society. 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=oc06-019&tocOffsetId=tocPubInfoP

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

Hose, C., & McDougall, W. (1993). The Pagan Tribes of Borneo: Volume Two. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Originally published 1912).

Jensen, E. (1974). The Iban and their Religion. Oxford Monographs on Social Anthropology, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, Deel 133, 2de/3de Afl. KITLV, Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27863144.

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

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.

Sandin, B. (1995). Iban Way of Life. (Pandiau, T., Trans.). 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=oc06-032&tocOffsetId=tocPubInfoP (Originally published 1976).

St. John, S. (1974). Life in the Forests of the Far East. Volume 2. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press. (First published in 1862 in two volumes by Smith, Elder and Co., London).

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.

Sutlive, Vinson H. Jr., Culture Summary: Iban, New Haven, Conn.: HRAF, 1995. (Auckland Lib., Online access, eHRAF)

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