July 4, 2013

Drying Rice in an Iban Long House Today

The architectural style of the Sarawak Iban longhouse has changed int he last 30 years. The old style of Tanju (front open porch) has gone. The photo below shows a Bidayuh longhouse with bamboo tanju or landing place. All longhouses used to be raised on strong stilts. Today, many longhouses are concrete and built on the ground, making the tanju obsolete. Instead, they have a five foot way like the urban shop houses.

Photo: Tanju at Bidayuh longhouse

However, the tanju which also served as a drying area for rice and pepper continues to morph into another form.

 Today longhouse folks construct their own individual Pantar in the backyard or in the front where they have some extra land or space.

Pantar - is the wooden or bamboo platform in the longhouse which is a substitute for the tanju.

 Here I am wearing a Tanggoi,using a wooden pemaut padi (wooden rake) to spread the rice grains to dry evenly. It is scorching hot at about 10 in the morning. No wonder my sister in law Pantan gets all sun burnt throughout the year. If you wish to get a good sun tan, just do this job. Two in one ...You can contribute to the economy of the longhouse. Drying the rice is a tough job and you have to pay attention. The moment the rain clouds hoover overhead you have to put all the grains into baskets and carry them to the store house.

The tanju of the olden days continue to amaze visitors because it is a very practical feature for every one who understands the longhouse concept of lifestyle.

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