Sunday, February 15, 2009

Naga Bari, The Legendary Iban Princess

This beautiful Iban lady has been married for 10 years and her biggest wish now is to bear a child. A recent dream instructed her to make prayers and offerings to Naga Bari, the legendary Iban princess who once dwelled at Bukit Aup near Sibu.

I was lucky this morning to meet a large group of Iban men and women and also children at Jubilee Park , Bukit Aup ( Aup Hill). Judging from all the things they carried up the hill, including a live pig and some live chicken, I immediately knew that they were going to conduct a Miring (offering) on top of the hill. As I found out later, the Miring was organized solely for the above lady to seek the godly assistance from Naga Bari to let her conceieve her first child. I think her wish will be granted and her prayer answered...the princess will surely sympathize with someone as beautiful as herself!.

Legend has it that Naga Bari once dwelled at Bukit Aup and after she died, was burried together with 5 other warriors on top of the hill and their spirits have been protecting the Iban communities living near the area. At mid hill, there was a stream flowing to a sacred pool which still exists today. The Naga Bari Pool has clear and cool water and has never dried up over the decades. The Ibans throughout Borneo believe that both Naga Bari and Naga Bari Pool have the magical power to help couples to conceive if they are childless.

The offerings were made at the Miring Hut situated on top of Bukit Aup.These offerings included Tuak (Iban rice wine), boiled eggs,rice cakes, pop corn,fruits, chicken and pork.

Prayers were chanted by an elderly man holding a live chicken over the offerings.

The chicken was later killed and its blood and severed head were also thrown in as offerings to Naga Bari.

If in the dream, a pig was also requested, it must be slaughtered at the spot to offer it to Naga Bari.

After the rituals, all people proceeded to the barbecue pits on the otherside of the hill where the party and feast would begin.

The slaughtered pig and more chicken would be killed for an outdoor feast with the relatives who had came to participate and witness the Miring.

This man was an expert in preparing the pork. He first cut it into smaller pieces and then put them over the fire. Using a piece of sharpened wood, he was seen here removing the hair from the skin.

Before and after

Looking like a book...the thick pork was cut into half for easier cooking.

The group finished off 26 kilograms of pork and perhaps another 10 kilograms of chicken.

Ready to be consumed. The barbecued pork was so tasty even just eaten plain.

Pig liver was eaten half cooked

This rosy-faced woman jokingly said she had just put on some extra cosmetics when I asked her if she was already drunk. Her group of friends (below) were nosily drinking and eating away under the shady trees. I guess they are all happily married with many children and are fortunate for not being traumatized by unable to conceive.

After mingling with the group for almost 2 hours , I made many friends. I was offered Tuak several times which I could not decline. The barbecued pork was nice although the sights of seeing the poor animal being slaughtered alive with a parang was very unpleasant.As I write this post and seeing the bloody pictures, the screaming of the pig still echo in my mind. I hope in the middle of the night I would not be dreaming of the poor animals who sacrificed their lives for a woman desperate to achieve motherhood, but instead will dream of the beautiful princess, Naga Bari.


Anonymous said...

Thank you. What a very nice report. Is this done very often there?

I wished you can make a short documentary out of it. Perhaps in the near future.

I think seeking medical treatment is the best solution. The culture can and shall also be preserved.

abana said...

Asean culture enriched.

-eiling- said...

Can't believe that such ritual still exist. Wow, beer and roast pork! Yummy...

nelson said...


Philip said...

anonymous:It is done quite often, especially on weekends as the Naga Bari is famous through out Borneo. There are many successful cases.It will be very nice to make a video documentary, but unfortunately I have sold off my Video camera many years ago.

abana:This is our Borneo,the one and only.

nelson: I love Sarawak too, and the peoples and their different cultures as well.

eiling:Many traditional rituals, such as those paying respects to their gods and ancestors and for healing and seeking peace and fortune ,are still practised among the tribal peoples of Borneo. The roasted kampong pork together with a cold beer is really very nice.

sarawakiana said...

Philip after this article I am sure a stall offering Miring services may be set up and more and more pilgrims will come to visit this place.

New off shoot employment opportunities!!

suituapui said...

This is so interesting. I hear Tony Eusoff (the Malaysian actor) is looking for local stories and legends... This should interest him.

Bengbeng said...

amazing Philip. amazing.

Philip said...

Sarawakiana:Good suggestion.

Stp:Do you know Tony personally? Perhaps you can contact him and we can go hunting for interesting stories and legends for him.

Bengbeng:Thank you

浪子 said...

Philip, very interesting, I like it.故事太動人了.

Philip said...

Steve: Thanks.Hope the gang of 3 can go hunting for good pictures and interesting stories regularly.

Chris AngelicDemon said...

Naga Bari???
We call her as "Endu Kumang Tebari"
When we ask for her assistance we will chant starting with this verse
"Endu Kumang Tebari,
Naga Tasek Chini"

Philip said...

Chris: Thanks for your info. So what did you ask from her? Were your prayers answered?

Chris AngelicDemon said...

Were the prayers answered?
Yes, i think, judging from what some members of my family experienced.
My aunt who wanted a daughter finally got her wish after making 'niat' (wish/promise) there.
It is important to 'repay' for every 'niat' granted. For example, if one promise to sacrifice a pig if their 'niat' is granted, then they MUST sacrifice a pig. If no promise was made as to what type of animal will be sacrificed, then a chicken will suffice.
One of my earliest memory was when we climbed Bukit Aup from Igan river bank way back in the 80's. I was maybe 3 years old at that time. Back then, it was still a jungle i guess.

Philip said...

Chris: Great...I think when we have faith in something, we will be rewarded.And we must be sincere both in dealing with fellow human and with god.Wishing you and your family a very happy and a blessed Gawai.If your longhouse has anything special during Gawai, don't forget to inform me ya.Thanks.