Music of Borneo — Iban folk

Traditional Iban music from Sarawak, Borneo. The music is taken from a CD titled ‘The Olden Sound’ that I bought in Kuching.  The photos are taken by myself at live performance in an Iban longhouse where we spent the night.

I should point out that the Iban are headhunters–even still. A man I drank homemade rice wine with during this performance was sent by the government of Malaysia to hunt Filipino pirates and he proudly told me that he took four heads on that expedition: this was in the 1990s. There were tattoos on his knuckles for each head he taken in his life–he had about a dozen, though he was reluctant to discuss the others.

Iban music is like a stripped down version of gamlen; low, repetitive, hypnotic, wicked. You can see the instruments in the photos.




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