Academic journal article Borneo Research Bulletin

New Publication from the Borneo Research Council

Academic journal article Borneo Research Bulletin

New Publication from the Borneo Research Council

Article excerpt

BRC Borneo Classic Text Series of Oral Literature No. 8

A Borneo Healing Romance: Ritual Storytelling and the Sugi Sakit, A Saribas Iban Rite of Healing.

Clifford Sather, 2017, 559 pp, Price $55.

ISBN 1-929900-21-X.

A Borneo Healing Romance had its beginnings in 1977 when the author, while doing fieldwork in the Saribas, witnessed a performance of the Sugi Sakit. The event left a lasting impression and in 2003, he, his wife, Louise, and their Iban co-worker, Jantan Umbat, recorded a performance of the ritual, sung and interpreted by the late Lemambang Renang anak Jabing at his longhouse, RumahTarum, in the Debak sub-district. At the time, Renang was the last living priest bard still able to perform the Sugi Sakit.

The present book records in full the Iban text and translation of the entire ritual performance, plus Renang's extensive commentary. A distinctive feature of the Sugi Sakit is that it incorporated a narrative epic--a story of adventure and romance featuring Bujang Sugi--the Iban culture hero Keling in disguise. An annotated text and translation of this epic comprises roughly two-thirds of the book. This is introduced by an account of Renang's performance, his life-history as a bard, followed by chapters describing Iban notions of illness and well-being, traditional healing practices, and the role of priest bards as healers; the bard's use of poetic language, and a description of the Sugi Sakit itself, its social and symbolic setting, and how it was structured as a rite of healing. …

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