The Ibans perform a unique dance called the ngajat. It serves many purposes depending on the occasion. During Gawais, it is used to entertain the people who in the olden days enjoy graceful ngajats as a form of entertainment. 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.. 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. If the real tradition, the music if we dance ngajat we use the life music which have someone o group who play the music such as gong, 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 oThe pride in knowing how to perform the ‘ngajat,’ the Iban traditional dance must be kept burning among the Iban youngsters. The young Ibans should look back to the days of their parents or forefathers when there was so much pride in knowing how to perform the ‘ngajat’. Ngajat is a warrior dance of the Iban tribe in Sarawak. It is said that ngajat is performed by the warriors upon their successful return, to celebrate their victory in battle. Today, the dance is performed as part of the Gawai Dayak celebrations.
When performing the dance, the male dancers wear a headgear made from the tail feathers of the hornbill (though nowadays most likely artificial feather may be used, to save the birds). He holds a long sword in one hand and an ornately decorated shield in the other. Around his chest are necklaces made of beads and cowrie shells, and he wore a ceremonial cawat, or loincloth. The dancer make slow movements, as though stalking the enemy. This is interspersed with dramatic prances as though he is leaping forward to attack.
The dance is performed accompanied by the music from tribal musical instruments, usually percussions, including the enkeromong, bendai, canang and dumbak or ketebong. There are several Ngajat dance such as Ngajat Induk, Ngajat bebunoh, Ngajat Lesong, Ngajat Semain, Ngajat Berayah and Ngajat ““Ngemai antu pala” Moreover, it symbolize the happy ending of another cycle of padi planting season, welcoming the God of Farming to the feast and giving thanks for the bountiful and successful harvest.
In the past, a “Ngajat Semain” was performed by young Iban boys and girls who have just complete their Ngajat lessons taught to them after the heavy work of clearing the forest and burning season is over. The tempo of this Ngajat performed by the girls is slow and graceful displaying the beautiful design pattern of the newly completed “Pua Kumbu” woven by the girls during the farming cycle. As for the young boys, the tempo is also slow displaying their martial artistic and balancing skills in preparation to enter their adulthood life.
This means that they will take more adult responsibility in the next farming season. This is also an opportunity for them to display their beautiful costumes, headgears, amulets such as Engkerimok, Simpai, Tumpa Bala and of course their new fully decorated swords and its design. At the present day, the Ngajat music and dance are perform to preserve the Iban Culture and for the younger generation to value the unique of it the dancer dance follow the music that have a group who play the music. These is the traditional dane,which the most popular in Sarawak.