Iban war dance

Dance is an important means of expressing emotion and aesthetics in Eats Malaysia societies. Many different forms of dance abound among all the different ethnic groups in the East Malaysia states of Sarawak and Sabah.

In Sarawak the dance called ngajat or war dance, also referred to as the ngajat lasan among some groups, usually in danced by a solo male dancer among the Iban people or by male or female dancers among the Kenyah, Kayan and Kajang communities.
Ngajat dancers – performed in full warrior gear including the parang ilang (machete and terabai) (shield) – recall the days of yore when headhunting was glorified and warriors returned with decapitated heads.

Iban music and dance tells many stories of their past as virile combatants. In the ngajat lesong dance, the protagonist warrior displays his might by picking up a 20 kg block of wood with his mouth, then dance round with it posted on his chin.

The ngajat pahlawan is a dance to welcome the victorious warrior home after s successful week of headhunting. Indigenous percussion instruments and gongs provide the music for ngajat performances on the ruai (frontage) of the longhouse.
Iban war dance
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