Tribal textile Pua kumbu is a traditional patterned multicolored ceremonial cotton cloth used by the Iban. It is made and used in Sarawak, Malaysia. It is a ritual blanket for ceremony purpose and hand woven including the sungkit.

There are many legends about the origin of Tribal textile Pua kumbu, all revolving around the characters of Menggin and Dara Tinchin. The story starts with Menggin, an Iban hunter who shot a beautiful bird with his blowpipe. As he ran to retrieve his game, what he found was a woven skirt instead of a bird.

He kept the woven skirt as he had never seen one before. However, he did not know that it belonged to Dara Tinchin Temaga, eldest daughter of a petara known as Singalang Burong.

She was looking for her kain everywhere. When she met Menggin, he returned the skirt. In return, Dara married Menggin, although she was already married. She brought him to her home, the other world, the land of the Gods. They also had a son, Sera Gunting. After a year, Dara’s first husband returned home. She asked Menggin and Sera to return to the Iban world.

During their journey to wear a jacket known as baju burong and her kain that she had woven. From that day onwards, the jacket and kain have been passed down to many Iban women so they can weave the same designs and remain close to the Gods. And that is how the weaving of tribal textile Pua kumbu began.

Dyeing and weaving process

The process starts with preparing the yarn for the weaving, tribal textile Pua kumbu which consists of the following:

Nabu – winding the thread into balls

Muai – to sort out

Ngirit – the process of stretching and pulling a skin of thread horizontally, one thead at a time, to form the base or warp

Ngarap – the selection of alternate warp

Ngebat – tying

Mampul – to cover

Muka’ tanchang – untying

Ngerembai – unfolding

Anak and Ara – adding side designs

In order to prepare for the weaving of tribal textile Pua kumbu process, the yarns are unfolded and carefully arranged on a wooden frame. Before the actual weaving begins, the side sections of the unfolded yarn known as anak or ara are carefully arranged. Nenun or Weaving is done using a backstrap loom placed in a convenient spot within the longhouse. The final stage involves finishing of the top and bottom edges with a crowfeet pattern.
Dyeing – all of the raw materials for the natural dyes are harvested from the rainforest. The Iban have traditionally made use of a large number of plants to produce a range of rich beautiful dyes. The rengat plant produces an ‘indigo’ colour in many different tones. The akar penawar landak is used to obtain yellow color dye.
For the Engkudu dye, if kapok or quicklime is added the colour will turn brown. The yarn is dipped into the combination, turned until it is well saturated and left to soak before it is dried under the sun. Then, the dye process yarns are further prepared by tying sections to build up the design Tribal textile Pua kumbu
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