How the gendang was introduced to the village

Kampong Stenggang

How gendang was introduced to the village

village gendang

The gendang is a Malay dance where women play the drum (rebana) and sing verses (pantun). The men danced often among men. The women sing the pantuns to reflect their interests (if any) of the men dancing The story of how the Malay gendang was related to me by my father Aken Pa Jiri and my neighbour, Dongai Pa Jites.

Gendang came to be introduced by Malay fish sellers selling sea fish called 'pingorih'. Those Malays were well known to the villagers. Their names were Asin, Jol, Pa Jol, Pasang, Pawi and Yahya. Some of them lived near Grogo. When they visited the village they stayed with Pa Lankiew. During the Gawai celebration, these Malay traders would visit our village, some bringing with them their daughters who were gendang players or 'sieh'. They brought with them their rebana (drum) and curtain. During the night they would play the gendang. The female villagers who sat by their Malay gendang expert quickly learn their pantuns and the techniques and rhythms of beating the rebana.

During the Gawai festival, the villagers would ask Pa Jol to look for the gendang players to come to the village. Pa Jol sought these players from his contacts in Kuching. The fees for the gendang players were one condensed milk tin of rice per entrant per night. This was one way the gendang players could earn their income especially during the Japanese occupation when rice and food stuff were very scarce.

Gradually a number of Bidayuh females were expert gendang performers and there was no need to rely on Malay gendang performers. It is customary for people to visit their relatives especially during the period when villages were holding their Gawai festival. When our village were holding its Gawai festival, very often there would be Bidayuh female gendang players among the visitors. People would request that they play the gendang for one or two nights. There was no fees paid, however during the gendang performance they were also given coffee to drink. A number of them before returning to their own village would ask for contribution in the form of rattans for making baskets.

Among the early gendang players in the villagers were: Sino Nyodei, Sino Kimui, Sino Sinin (from Suba), Muhet, Sipik, Sino Lehai, Sino Nohes, Sino Doring. The houses where the gendang were held were at: Pa Nogiem, Pa Ajen, Pa Midui and Pa Nyobib.


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