Among the most interesting part of Gawai Antu (Krian and Saribas version) is the ‘Lemambang Nuntungka Jalung’. For the benefit of readers a Gawai Antu is the grandest of Iban festivals – it is held to build proper ‘home’ for the deceased in the form of ‘sungkup’ (belian structure to represent a ‘resting place’ of the deceased – after the conclusion of Gawai Antu at the longhouse this ‘sungkup,’ usually out of belian wood, will be placed at the burial site of the deceased commemorated during the Gawai Antu.
‘Nuntungka Jalung’ is the final part of the (lemambang) bard’s recital of the ‘jalung chant’ (timang jalung) – ‘jalung’ refers to the bowl carried by the every bard during the chant recital from evening till dawn. It is a taboo to put the bowl on the floor. All the ‘jalung’ carried by the bards contain a small amount of ‘tuak’ rice wine and is to be served to war heroes hired to perform the ‘ngirup jalung’ ritual.
The act of ‘nuntungka jalung’ (serving the jalung drink) to the war heroes or men of valour is the concluding performance for the ‘jalung’ bards, though it is not the end of Gawai Antu. Over half a century, I have seen more than ten ‘nuntungka jalung’ acts in ten Gawai Antu since 1964 in Saribas and Krian basins.
The ones that I attended in the Rajang basin, namely in Bawang Assan, Sibu (1972), Bintangor (1981) and Julau (1989) did not have ‘nuntungka jalung’ as theirs were just simplified versions of their two counterparts.’ For the Saribas-Krian version, ‘nuntungka jalung’ act is where the lead bard uses the opportunity to ask the revered warriors or men of valour about their ‘gelar mantap ular, gela mantap sawa’ or in short their ‘ensumbar’ (nickname of bravery or valour).
For example, at a 1970 Gawai Antu held in Sungai Klampai longhouse in Saratok (the longhouse of former Saratok MP and Deputy Federal Minister Dato Sri Edmund Langgu Saga), one of the ‘timang jalung’ teams was led by my late uncle – he and my late dad Salok Jembu were first cousins – Dundang Enchana a.k.a Apai Aling.
During the ‘nuntungka jalung’ act Apai Aling recited the ‘jalung’ chant to ask for the ‘ensumbar’ for a number of warriors/men of valour hired to ‘ngirup’ (drink) the tuak in the ‘jalung.’ Firsrly he ‘nuntungka jalung’ to a warrior Tindin @ Apai Gawing who originated from Mendas, Melupa, Saratok.
In my record his chant goes like this: “Lama kitai ke besaruk duduk bebanding. Ku lama udah ninga gela nuan unggal dedarah sawa indu tedung, ba arung jalai pemuntang. Oh sapa perinyai ambai sulu sangkung lebuh jawang agi gegayang gamal gegandung, alai tangan tunjuk ujung nuan tau dinjau orang nyuluk ka upung nyiur nyintung tak lepung-lepung mesai tempulung lang tansang, oh ku aku tansang lang.”
(In short he was asking Tindin about his war/battle conquest and the nature of him earning head trophies). Tindin responded by saying his nickname as ‘Pipit Manchal Menua Ili, Gelumbang Mechah Ari Jai’ (Naughty downriver sparrow, angry waves during thunderstorm).
Subsequently Dundang ‘nuntungka jalung’ to another war hero Tabuh anak Tilang (from Batu 4, Old Saratok-Roban Road) and recited the chant asking him about his war conquest/acts of bravery.
Tabuh said his ‘ensumbar’ was ‘Pemalu Batang Buan, Pengirit Menua Batu Enam’. (Killed enemy using ‘hard
stick, dragged body at Mile Six). Next on Dundang’s list was a notorious character, Anthony Lawai, who was a primary school teacher – I came to Lawai many years later – then a very energetic, handsome young man.
In his poetic chant recital Dundang started with the following in asking for Lawai’s bravery/conquest: “Nya alai tu aku meda unggal aku Lawai jadi master, bisi ditu begulu duduk besemuka.
Aku nanya ensumbar iya, kebuah randa tau nembuka pengawa ngadu kereja, nanyaka gelar ensumbar nama dadinga raja ti sabara ngeluie orang.” The young teacher responded by saying his two nicknames were ‘Unsut Insai Baruh Batu’ (Captured, tortured among boulders) and ‘Lalang Layu Ulu Sarikei’ (Faded ‘lalang’ weed of Ulu Sarikei).
Both signified his episodes of conquests over enemies. Next on his list for that Gawai Antu episode was a hero from my Kedap longhouse Nyawin anak Merdan @ Apai Enduh. Nyawin was a former policeman serving in Bau and Kuching. He energetically hit the wooden floor as if something was falling with a loud thud and told the bard his nickname was ‘Lambur Mandang Punggang Menua, Api Nyadi Pasar Buso’ (Bright flame at the edge of Buso Town).
Lastly he served my granduncle Jerampang anak Saat from Assam, Melupa. Jerampang was nicknamed ‘Pintu Batu Nanga Igan, Indu Balu Ditemu Jauh Malam’ (Nanga Igan concrete door, woman widowed at midnight). In our area, few men of valour or known for their headhunting conquests, bravery and gallant acts are immortalised by their nicknames.
My great-great grandpa Anya ‘Lebur Menua’ leads the list. His ‘Lebur Menua’ (Land clearance king) was attributed to his leadership in leading a migratory pack from the Rimbas basin of Saribas to Kedap and Burui area of Melupa, a tributary of Krian River. He pioneered the clearing and cultivating of Kedap and Burui region thereby earning the ‘Lebur Menua’ nickname.
Our family is the original family of Penghulu Bungin, Anya’s eldest son. My maternal grandma Kejuang was the daughter of Laie anak Bungin and husband Meling.
Many of those known for their nicknames and bravery are Anya’s descendants. For example his grandson Naing anak Jatan (of Kedap) was nicknamed ‘Berinau Pengeregau Panggau Dara, Naing Pengerambing Kaki Kuta’ (Berinau the Casanova king, Naing the fortress conqueror).
Naing’s brother Tawie anak Bungin (of Kedap) was nicknamed Lanang Kasih Sayang Bedindang Madang Rutan, Tawie Berani Ati Pemudi Kayan (Jolly bachelor who sings amongst the rutan plant, Tawie the brave who terrifies enemies).
His head trophies were totally burned when my maternal grandfather Narang Jeluka longhouse at Tembawai Tinting in Kedap was totally destroyed in a fire. I was named Tawie at birth after this brave warrior great-grandpa. My late uncle (mom’s brother) Ngauh Narang (of Kedap) was nicknamed ‘Lelayang Mandi Tengah Malam’ (Swallow bathing at midnight).
Another grandson of Anya, Subung anak Bran (of Kedap) was nicknamed ‘Kala Nyepit Enda Anchi Pemisa-misa, Bunga Parapenit Ka Dujung Indu Dara (Poisonous scorpion, perfumed flower that adorns the head of a maiden).
Jali anak Radin (of Assam, Melupa), my second cousin, was also nicknamed
‘Lelayang Mandi Pukul Lapan’ (Swallow bathing at eigth o’clock). Another of Anya’s descendant, my granduncle Mulok anak Baring (Sg. Belung, Melupa) also had many head trophies which he conquered in the Delok Expedition against Bantin in 1902. He was nicknamed ‘Bandau Nulang Nanga Mepi’ (Slaughter king of Nanga Mepi).
Others in Melupa/Assam area with nicknames included Agam apai Leman (Tungkat Langit – Sky Support); Sandah apai Embas (Kuta Raja – King’s fortress); Ilai anak Abuk (Lang Ngindang Tengah Hari – Eagle flying at midday); Ujih anak Untan (dad’s first cousin) was nicknamed ‘Kelambu Kumang Begitang Nengan Hari, Baya Mangah Betegah Panggau Kemudi’ (Kumang’s parasol hanging at midday, fierce alligator attacks at boat rear) whereas Narung of Pelaie Ulu in Assam was nicknamed ‘Labang Lebus Tengah Hari’ (Clean white Claret cockerel strikes at midday). There are many more men of valour with interesting ‘ensumbar’ but they will be featured later.