Ngajat iban


The origin of this indigenous dance is not clearly known but it is believed to have been in existence along with the Iban tribe since the 16th Century. The Ngajat dance is believed to have been performed by warriors on their return from battles. This dance is now performed to celebrate the most important harvest festival called ‘Gawai’, to welcome important guests to the longhouses and so on.

The male dancers wear large feathers as part of their headgear, hold an ornate and long shield in their hand with chains, beads and a loincloth called the ‘cawat’. The female dancers have an elaborate headdress, chains, beads and a ‘dress’ that reaches to below their knees with intricate weaving. Traditionally this dance was only performed by male dancers but not anymore.

The dance is arranged straight lines and in a circle and does involve dramatic leaps and jumps performed by the male dancers.

Gongs and other ethnic percussion instruments such as the ‘enkeromong’, ‘bendai’, ‘canang’ and ‘dumbak or ketebong’ provide the music. The musicians may be either male or female.