The history of the Iban is committed to memory and recorded in a system of writing on boards (papan turai)[1] by the initiated shamans (lemambang). Elaborate genealogies go back to 15 generations or more with a surprising degree of accuracy. Some genealogies are as long as 25 generations and can still be connected with actual places and incidents. A genealogy (tusut) normally begins with the most remote ancestor and is a list of who married and begat whom. Sometimes, the ancestors are characterised in short descriptions. Other songs contain historical information as well, for example the pengap, a ritual chant sung during each major festival, that recounts deities and the deeds of the ancestors. According to oral histories, the Iban arrived in western Sarawak from Indonesia about 1675. After an initial phase of colonising and settling the river valleys, displacing or absorbing the local populations of Bukitans and Serus, a phase of internecine warfare began. Local leaders were forced to resist the tax collectors of the Malay sultans (Brunei). At the same time, Malay influence is felt, and Iban leaders begin to be known by Malay titles like Orang Kaya. Several of the Malays active on the river-estuaries claimed to be descendants of the prophet, like Indra Lela, Sharif Japar and Sharif Sahap. Sharif Ahmit was killed by the Iban. The Bajau and Illanun, coming in galleys from the Philippines plundered in Borneo and were fought by


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