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Before, in the Iban community, efforts to allure a boy to a virgin was done at night through a courting practice called Ngayap (English: "wing")[1][2][3][4]

This ngayap practice was undertaken to allow the boy and the girl to meet and express their hearts to their partners. Although the practice of ngayap was allowed, it should be done with adapted manners based on the customs and way of life of the Iban society itself to avoid any thought and slander that might contaminate the Iban culture.

By custom, the male can meet the girl not more than three nights in a row. If traffic continues, the parents of the girl have the right to determine and ask the boy if he is serious in his efforts to court or not. If it is found that the boy is not honest and just wants a spree then his visit should be stopped immediately. However, if the boy's intentions are serious and he intends to marry the girl, the boy would inform his parents of his intention to come to woo the girl. If the boy will continue nocturnal visits without deciding, then the girl's parents have the right to detain the boy and arrange the marriage in question and then refer the matter to Tuai Rumah (Sarawak longhouse chief) and the longhouse residents concerned.

Nowadays the tradition and practice of ngayap is no longer practiced in the modern mainstream of development and ways of life. Thus, meeting between boy and girl are run during gatherings, like festivals, and in schools, in institutions of higher learning, or in the workplace of their spouses. Ngayap is only a small part of the Iban cultural heritage. To prevent this culture of abuse by the new generation, this practice should be limited to the Iban. Only if there is a violation adapt or interference of others in this practice, the law can be taken as cited in Section 132 of Adat Iban of 1993.[5][6][7]


  1. ^ Where Hornbills Fly: A Journey with the Headhunters of Borneo. Erik Jensen. I.B. Tauris, 30 Jul 2013: 304 pp. - pages 89, 90, 94, 196, 291; at
  2. ^ Iban Studies: Their Contributions to Social Theory and the Ethnography of Other Borneo Societies. G.N. Appell. Reprinted From: The Encyclopaedia of Iban Studies, Volume III, Joanne and Vinson H. Sutlive, General Editors. Kuching: Tun Jugah Foundation in cooperation with the Borneo Research Council, Inc. Pp. 741-85, 2001. at
  3. ^ Adat ngayap and nguai. Ibanology - The most trusted blog for Iban Studies. at
  4. ^ Wooden Weapons: Constrained Violence and the Evolution of Adat in a Nineteenth Century Iban Society. Sather, Clifford. Dec. 1994. ASSESS Vol. 1: 5–23.
  5. ^ Benedict Sandin. Iban Adat and Augury. Penerbit Universiti Sains Malaysia for School of Comparative Social Sciences; 1980: 151 pages. - page 69.
  6. ^ Iban adat and augury at
  7. ^ Iban Adat and Augury. Benedict Sandin. Penerbit Universiti Sains Malaysia for School of Comparative Social Sciences, 1980: 151 pages. at