The Craftworks of Iban 


Iban Pua series

Pua scarf is one of Ibans famous artworks. It is a scarf produced by Iban women. There is many types of pua scarf that were made by them, namely Pua Kumbu and Pua Sungkit.

Pua Kumbu

Pua Kumbu, a scarf with a hand-woven on a back-strap loom, represented the soul of the Iban culture. It is a woven mythological tale about the weaver and her affiliation with the spirit world.The weaving is considered sacred and it is believed to be able to mediate between man and the spirit world when spiritual power is woven into it with its designs conceived. Although dreams according to their weaving status and are thus limited in expressions till she is spiritually matured. A woman who weaved a spiritually superb Pua Kumbu would achieves a social status equivalent to that of a great warrior in Iban culture.




Pua Sungkit

Compared to the other Pua scarf series, Pua Sungkit is totally unavailable in the market in the present time. It must probably because no one is willing to go through the tedious process of its weaving journey that take some time to complete its process. In fact, the function of this scarf is exactly the same as Pua Kumbu, but the only differences between these two is the weaving technique and process during the making, where Pua Kumbu is much more easier to make than Pua Sungkit. However, due to its difficult making process, most of the Pua Sungkit are small in size and most of it were made into higher value items like costume where it was featured as skirt and only be worn by dancers of higher caliber during special ceremony.

Mariak Empang

This ornate piece of art is intricately stringed and is an one of Iban traditional costume most iconic component. Bead of different colors are skillfully assembled to create patterns and designs that reflects how unique Iban heritage are. Marik Empang is actually an elaborate beaded collar worn by Iban maidens in most dances and ceremonies. It is believed to have been developed as a substitute to wearing layers of chunky beads which were heavy and uncomfortable. This evolution took place in the early 20th century when barter traders to the village of Santubong brought about an influx of smaller and colorful beads. The beaded collar adds a richer and more vibrant texture to the overall Iban costume.

Burung Kenyalang (the Ceremonial Hornbill carving)

The carving of Burung Kenyalang, regarded by the Iban tribe as the God of War, is the most sacred carving used to honor and commemorate the warriors and leaders in the Iban community. Burung Kenyalang or Hornbill bird is also Sarawak’s official animal, as you can clearly see in the state badges. Statues of the hornbills are displayed as centre piece during the Gawai Kenyalang ceremonies along side with other rituals, bard or chanting as well as offerings. The carvings are also used in some ceremonial dances depicting victory and attainment. Traditionally, only a proven warriors is allowed to fell the tree to be used for the carving the hornbill statue while the wood for the hornbill crest can only be cu by a warriors who has killed numerous enemies in a single expedition. The statue becomes sacred after it has been consecrated in the Gawai Kenyalang ceremony, after which it will be respectfully displayed and receive offering in other ceremonies.


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