Ajat, Gendang Iban Ngau Ngepan - Batu Niah


Pastoral Visit to St Michael Batu Niah

In honour of St Michael's feast day, Right Reverend Bishop Richard Ng, Monsignor Fr. Francis Kuleh and Fr. Anup Hemant celebrated Sunday morning Mass on 30th September 2018 at St Michael Church, Batu Niah parish with some 600 parishioners majority Ibans.

As mentioned by Cathecist Dominic Majit, St Michael, Batu Niah parish is 52 years old first established in 1966 and the church 38 years old was rebuilt in 1980 to cater for some 200 catholics at that time, now the number has increased three times which requires some 300 pax seated inside the church another 300 pax seated outside the church during Sunday Mass.  The masses in St Michael Church, Batu Niah are said in Iban language.

Monsignor Fr. Francis Kuleh has served 39 years in the Diocese of Miri from 19th November 1978 to 19th November 2017.  A remarkable 40 years next month 19th November 2018.

St Michael the Archangel is the leader of all angels in the army of God.  He is the patron of soldiers, doctors, mariners, grocers, paratroopers, police and sickness.

On Saturday 29th Sept 2018, Right Reverend Bishop Richard Ng,  Monsignor Fr. Francis Kuleh and Fr. Anup Hermant celebrated sunset Mass at Rumah Siang, Tinting Mawang, Sebatu Suai located 24 km from St Michael Church, Batu Niah.  Rumah Siang 35 doors Iban longhouse is 23 years old 85% Catholics.  The journey by road from Miri to Rumah Siang registered 102.6 km one way.


The Iban perform many kinds of dances accompanied by the music of gongs and drums.
These dances include the ngajat, bapencha, bakuntau, main karichap, main chekak.

The ajat dance is attributed to a spiritual being, Batu Lichin, Bujang Indang Lengain, who brought it to the Iban many generations ago.

Today there are three kinds of ajat dances performed by the Ibans.

One is called ajat bebunoh which is performed by warrior dancers;
the second is ajat semain performed by men and women; and
the third is ajat nanggong lesong performed by men.

Gendang rayah
Another important music performed by the Ibans is called gendang rayah.

It is played only for religious festivals with the following instruments:

1. The music from a first bendai gong is called pampat
2. The music from a second bendai gong is called kaul
3. The music from a third bendai gong is called kura

4.. As the three bendai gongs sound together, then a first tawak gong is beaten and is added to by the beating of another tawak gong to make the music.

Katebong drums
Last but not least, is the music played using the katebong drums by one or up to eleven drummers.

These drums are long. Its cylinder is made from strong wood, such as tapang or mengeris, and one of its ends is covered with the skins of monkeys and mousedeer or the skin of a monitor lizard.

The major types of drum music are known as follows:
1. Gendang Bebandong
2. Gendang Lanjan
3. Gendang Enjun Batang
4. Gendang Tama Pechal
5. Gendang Pampat
6. Gendang Tama Lubang
7. Gendang Tinggang Batang
8. Singkam Nggam

All these types are played by drummers on the open air verandah during the celebration of the Gawai Burong festival.

The Singkam Nggam music is accompanied by the quick beating of beliong adzes.

After each of these types has been played, the drummers beat another music called sambi sanjan, which is followed by still another called tempap tambak pechal.

To end the orchestral performance the music of gendang bebandong is again beaten.

The ordinary types of music beaten by drummers for pleasure are as follows:
1. Gendang Dumbang
2. Gendang Ngang
3. Gendang Ringka
4. Gendang Enjun Batang
5. Kechendai Inggap Diatap
6. Gendang Kanto

Other musical instruments
In addition to playing music on the above mentioned instruments, Iban men enjoy the music of the following instruments:

Engkerurai (bagpipe)
Kesuling (flute)
Ruding (Jew’s harp)
Rebab (guitar with two strings)
Balikan (guitar with 3 strings)
Belula (violin)
Engkeratong (harp)

Story By Dennis Ng
Edited and Compiled by Ben Chang

Source Reference:

Compiled by Ben Chang

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