According to eBario (2010),
A traditional musical instrument is the sape’, a plucked lute instrument. It is carved from tree trunk in an elongated rectangular shape with a homogenous neck extending from one end of the body. Formerly, its three or four strings were made from finely split rattan, but today they are made of wire strings.
The Kelabit also play the pagang (tube zither), which is made from a length of bamboo tube closed at both ends by its natural bamboo nodes. The strings are finely cut strips from the surface of the bamboo tube itself, which are still attached to the tube at either end.
On special occasion such as Iraus or during visits by VIPs (Very Important Persons), the school children will form a bamboo band where all the musical instruments that are played are made from bamboo.
Performance by Kelabit tribe -Alena Murang – Sape Musical Instrument
Performance of songs and dance by the Kelabit ladies.
Kelabit long dance
farshad parsa. (2013, March 8). Performance by Kelabit Tribe of Borneo – Alena Murang – Sape Musical Instrument [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-5tZCC4KOk
calmaritima. (2013, January 6). Kelabit Highlands – Bario, Borneo, Malaysia. GoPro Full HD  [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FpYJAm0e7w
Jane Ngo. (2008, May 13). Ramudu & Long Seridan maidens – Long Dance [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J40XSYfP4R4
AfriPics. A Kelabit woman plays a traditional stringed bamboo instrument in the Bario Asal longhouse in Bario in Sarawak in Borneo [Image]. Retrieved from http://www.alamy.com/THUMBS/6/%7B0EDBBF9A-0108-4CFA-AAF3-25166B0FE503%7D/BGFA5Y.JPG
“I saw behind me those who had gone, and before me those who are to come. I looked back and saw my father, and his father, and all our fathers, and in front to see my son, and his son, and the sons upon sons beyond.
And their eyes were my eyes.
Information taken from Marudi’s Fort Hose (Baram District’s Museum)
The Kelabit inhabit the interior of mountain valleys on the upper reaches of the Baram river known as the Bario Highlands.
The population of the Kelabit was estimated to be 5,059 with 18 longhouses in 1987. Today, most of the young and educated Kelabit have moved out of the highlands to work in the larger towns in Sarawak. The Kelabit live in an open-system longhouses where the community live with mutual help and harmony.
The Highland Kelabit are mainly wet padi planters, who produce the famous “Bario Rice”.
They also rear buffaloes and cattle for sale. In the traditional Kelabit social organisations, the nobles are known as Paran while the middle group are called Pupu or Upaupa. The third strata of social hierarchy are the auak lun ian oda ‘commoners’.
The Kelabit of the highlands also process salt from the natural licks which they used as a barter item in the past.
Salt making is only carried out during the non-farming season. Today, salt making for commerce has lost its importance.
The Kelabit are skilled in carvings on bamboo, wood and stone and ivory.
They also make their own parangs and work utensils.
Kelabit ladies are adept at bead work.
With the advent of Christianity, most of the ritualistic dances are no longer practised. However, traditional songs are still commonly sing by both men and women. Sekunuhor story telling is still a common oral tradition today.
The most unique aspect of Kelabit Culture are related to those of megalithic practices, greetings and the naming ceremony.
Video above: Megalithic and dragon jar cemetary visit, Long Peluan, Kelabit Highlands.
Video above: Name-changing irau or irau mekaa ngadan in Kelabit.
For more information, do read Land of FriendlyKelabits by Harlina Samson, TheStar Online.
MASwings. (2007). Bario [Image]. Retrieved from http://www.maswings.com.my/sarawak.html
Kalang, A. (2008). Paddy field [Image]. Anderson’s Picturific. Retrieved from http://i257.photobucket.com/albums/hh223/wag6174/Bario-100.jpg
Borneo Native Store. Kelabit Highlands Bario Salt 200G [Image]. Retrieved from http://www.borneonativestore.com/image/cache/data/Bario%20Salt_2-600×600.jpg
Hadi, A. H. (2009). Kelabit stone carving [Image]. acrossplanet. Retrieved from http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_qVfRW4_wNBc/SycQhabJjJI/AAAAAAAAAN4/Z1NCVv1nrdY/s400/Megalith+Part+I.jpg
Ethnographic Arms & Armour Forum. (2006). Kelabit Parang [Image]. Retrieved from http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/attachment.php?attachmentid=15979&stc=1
Sarawak Tourism Board. (2012). Kelabit lady string beads [Image]. Retrieved from http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-RjMpPjYOrLE/UHYiRbBP6VI/AAAAAAAAAs0/SPCZ5Cr5rWc/s1600/orang+ulu+craft.jpg
Kelabit. Retrieved from http://asiaharvest.org/pages/profiles/nonChina/Malaysia/Kelabit.pdf
Monica Janowski. (2011, January 4). Name-changing irau 22 Dec 09, Kelabit Highlands [Video File]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdbYuJ4ZVTI
Monica Janowski. (2011, January 4). Megalithic and dragon jar cemetery visit, Long Peluan, Kelabit HIghlands [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHmOfttfr-A
The long dance or datun julud.
According to Timothy Tye (2011),
Datun Julud or Hornbill Dance is a traditional dance from Sarawak. The dance is from theKenyah tribe from Kabupaten, Balungan, Kutai Berau and Pasir. The dance was traditionally performed to greet returning warriors, as well as to mark the end of the rice harvest season. It is believed to have been conceived by a Kenyah prince named Nyik Selung to celebrate happiness and gratitude.
The dance is performed by female dancers. The dancers wearhead dress of hornbill feathers. The woman hold feather fans of hornbill feathers, which she moves up and down gracefully, to depict the hornbill in flight. Some times the dance is performed one dancer at a time. When the first dancer finishes her dance, another woman takes her place. Occassionally, up to four women perform the dance together. Nowadays, in performances to tourists, there is no limit to the number of dancers. Some times a male dancer dressed as a warrior is added to depict the returning warrior. The dance is accompanied by the music from the sape.
A single woman Kenyah hornbill dance.
A group Kenyah women hornbill dance
Sagah Ngayau – One Man Warrior Dance
These dances are usually accompanied by one, two or more sape players.
Tye, T. (2004). About Datun Julud. Retrieved from http://www.asiaexplorers.com/malaysia/datun-julud.htm
ibanmusic Vina Anakindai. (2009, April 17). Sape vol 14 Datun Julut – Kenyah Tradisional Dance 2009 [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3L96Wi3l5fk
rkalang. (2011, November 14). Kenyah Dance by ROSE PIDANG WAN of Long Semiyang [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJ85wPX-6tI
dokasel. (2009, July 17). Leto Kenyah Lemeting Sagak [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcGod4uEvWM
dokasel. (2010, March 23). Anak Kenyah Sagak.wmv [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VqCCxQeP7I