Ngayau as a Performing Art/Entertainment Dance

The Kayo Dance has its own processes, steps, and "adat basa" (customary language).

During the inauguration ceremony of the Patih Jaga Pati Laman Sembilan Domong Sepuluh Pavilion in Ketapang, May 4, 2024, one of the captivating attractions showcased was the Kayo (Ngayau/ headhunter) Dance.

Despite its entertaining purpose, the Kayo Dance has its own processes, steps, and "adat basa" (customary language).

Ngayau Dance: Not Just Any Dance

In the tradition of "Kayo dance," it is not performed casually.

This dance was once used to welcome human heads (the result of headhunting enemies). But now, this dance can be interpreted as a dance of victory.

The movements of this dance are agile and quite brutal. Set to a fierce rhythm, it not only stirs up spirit and courage but also carries a magical aura.

The dancers wear only loincloths or underwear, without shirts. Their heads are wrapped in red cloth and pierced with red sabang leaves (crodyline fruticosa). The movements consist of foot stomps, head shakes, and hysterical shouts.

Equipment Used

A machete or mandau is tucked into the dancer's waist. Prior to performing, the dancer is given tuak (traditional alcoholic beverage) and other paraphernalia. Because of the dancer's intense concentration, sometimes they may enter a trance.

Therefore, dancers need companions or assistants. If a dancer becomes possessed, it is the assistant's role to awaken or bring them back to consciousness.

Red Sabang Leaf : A type of red leaf that grows in the yards of the Dayak people.

Arrangement of Dancers

Dancers of the ngayau or victory dance must not be chosen arbitrarily. Instead, they must follow a pattern or pattern that has been passed down from generation to generation by elders.

In Dayak traditions wherever they may be, especially among the Iban people, the ngayau dance must not be performed casually. Welcoming the returning warriors from a successful ngayau is a great joy. The victorious warriors are hailed as "brave youths."

The younger generation receives a lesson 

This dance, besides being sacred, also aims to evoke spirit and courage, as well as heroic narratives among the youth. Encouraging them to emulate or embody chivalry.

When witnessing how the entire village welcomes and celebrates the victorious warriors, the younger generation receives a lesson in bravery right then and there. In their hearts, the desire and courage of a knight are instilled.

Furthermore, witnessing the honor bestowed upon the returning warriors from ngayau. They are greeted with dances by beautiful maidens and served with tuak.

"Tuak" is a traditional Dayak beverage made from fermented rice or glutinous rice.

-- Masri Sareb Putra

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