Iban augury

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[...]the rapid cry of the bejampong (Crested Jay) is said to resemble the crackling of burning tinder and so is sought at the beginning of the cultivation cycle as presaging the successful firing of a family's swiddens.24 By some, the alarm cry of Diard's Trogon (senabong) is said to have a sound comparable to the rattle of blood as it issues from the throat of a newly slain animal, and this has led to the senabong being described as a burong darah (lit. bird of blood) and being much sought after by hunters. Deliberate avoidance of possibly bad auguries is also common practice. [...]whenever a group of Iban are engaged in an undertaking of consequence (for example, moving to a new long-house, fetching a bride, or performing a padi ritual) they take care to see that certain of their number usually two or three girls are equipped with bronze gongs which are beaten without cease until the business in hand is concluded. [...]the ritual the shrine is dismantled and its contents shared out by the tuai burong; to a representative of each bilek he hands an augural stick from the shrine, uttering a prayer (samp) as he does so:4 2 May these hallowed augural sticks, which I now hand out, protect and guard our long-house, so that free from all harm, from all sickness and disorder, we may dweil in coolness and shade, in happiness and health, for ever." (O aku tu bedua kayu paong burong ngibun kamt se rumah, ngambi kami enda tabin, enda bebirin, chelap lindap, grai nyami, se lama lama.) On the completion of these inaugural rites a tuai burong becomes specifically responsible for the maintenance of the ritual state of the community. [...]he is entitled, under Iban adat, to fine (ukum) individuals and families who have committed any act ritually offensive to the community; again, any family leaving the long-house must present to its tuai burong a quittance payment (pemali rumah) as a safeguard against possibly undesirable consequences.43 It is usual for these fines and payments to include a fowl (or pig), which is sacrificed by the tuai burong (should he consider this warranted) on behalf of the community."

Freedman J. D.



Secondary Title

Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde


Koninklijke Brill NV









Linguistics, Religion, Encyclopedias, Birds, Society, Anthropology, Hands, Disorders, Families, Sarawak Malaysia, Borneo, Singapore, Wales

Form: Journal Article
Geographical Area: Malaysia, Singapore

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