Meet The Locals
Most of the people of Sarawak are sedentary farmers who live in communal longhouses and practice swidden rice agriculture. This state has the most diverse ethnic groups with a very distinct culture, language and lifestyle. A variety of religion with 45 different languages and dialects runs this town. In spite of these differences, the locals epitomise peace, harmony and unity.
Iban, Melanau, Penan, Malay, Chinese, Orang Ulu, Bidayuh
Iban claims the largest population, thus making its language the most widely used in Sarawak. Chinese society comes in second. Although Sarawak is part of Malaysia, the Malay population only falls in third. The Orang Ulu is well known for their intricate beadwork and detailed tattoos. Bidayuh people are famous for their hospitality and warm smiles.
The Melanau are fearless sailors and skilled fishermen while the Penan, on the other hand, are shy and elusive.
The Penans are the last true nomadic people of Sarawak.
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An age-old form of body art practiced by the natives of Sarawak. Traditional art form of tattooing has been an integral part of the Iban community for decades. Hand tapping style of tattooing using two sticks could be quite painful yet rewarding. For the Ibans, tattooing symbolises an individual's experiences, and every tattoo signifies a period of time during their travels.
"Tree of Life"
According to the Kenyah/Kayan people of Sarawak, the Tree of Life in their legends and myths gives birth to the first man and women when an upper world creeper impregnates an underworld tree. The hornbill bird (Burung Kenyalang) in both traditional Iban and Kenyah belief is the celestial upper world counterpart to the underworld ‘Naga’ or dragon goddess. The hornbill is usually depicted perched at the top of the Tree of Life motif.
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Iban Language Guide
Words & phrases to get you by
aku - I; me (same in Malay)
amat - truly, true
au - correct; that's right
makai - eat (Malay makan)
aram - let's go
dini - where
hai - hi!
Selamat datai! - Welcome!
Terima kasih - Thank you!
Selamat pagi! - Good morning!
Selamat lemai! - Good evening!
Nama brita nuan? - How are you?
Sapa nama nuan? - What is your name?
Brapa rega utai tu? - How much is this?
Mar amat - too expensive/difficult
Aku ka tindok - I want to go to sleep/bed
Aku enda nemu - I don't know
Pulai dulu - I'm going back


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