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ETHNIC INFORMATION:
The ethnic Iban actually forms the majority of Sarawak's tribal composition, an important fact that is considered alien even among most Malaysians. Once known as the Dayak Laut tribe (while the Bidayuh are known as Dayak Darat), ethnic Iban mostly thrive along the coastal areas with some have made settlement inland and further up-rivers. At present day, there are quite a number of the ethnic tribe members are living in urban areas such as Kuching, Miri and Bintulu.

The Iban also live in longhouses, a communal living concept that still exists even in present days. The longhouse is often considered as a village by itself, with a leader called Tuai Rumah, often elected by the majority of the tribe members. That fact itself is small paradox to the common practice of certain countries or kingdoms which the leadership thrones are passed from one of similar descendant to another. In an Iban longhouse, the leader is elected based on merits, hence the progenies of the previous chief will not necessarily be taking up the vacant position. In short, despite often being labeled as heartless headhunters and savage pirates in the days of yore, the Iban is a democratic lot.

THE HOUSE:
On close inspection, the Iban House bears close resemblance to the Bidayuh House. The longhouse is built of local timbers tied together with naturally-harvested fibre woods. Since the real Iban longhouses are often erected near the major rivers of Sarawak, the design emulates a raised floor concept to ensure the occasional surge of river flow will not enter the longhouse.

Among the traditional activities showcased in the Iban House are kuih jala making (yes, if the Melanau are known for tebaloi, the Iban are famous for their sweet kuih jala), kain pua kumbu weaving (an exquisite decorative cloth that Sarawak is famous for) and tuak processing (alcoholic beverage made from rice wine). The house also showcases a variety of tools and equipment for hunting (yes, head-hunting and for animals too), musical instrument such as drums and gongs, et cetera.

In the front yard of the longhouse is an open-air communal area where you can meet Iban ladies in colourful traditional dresses, as well as the much revered elders of the longhouse.

MY VERDICT:
Just nice.

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