The Iban built their longhouses to last fifteen to twenty years, or until the farm land in the surrounding area was exhausted. Then they packed up their goods and chattels and moved inland, upriver along the coast wherever fresh farm lands looked promising. About 30% of all Sarawakias are Iban. While some of them live in towns or individual houses, a large number still prefer longhouses. They will often work in town and come home to the longhouses for holidays.
A traditional longhouse is built of axe-hewn timber tied with creeper fibre, roofed with leaf thatch. It is nearly always built by the bank of a navigable river. Several doorways lead from the outer to the inner verandah under the roof. This is the village street of the longhouse, the individual family rooms or "doors" front the common walkway.
In the main room there is a fire that is alway smoldering. The smoke drifts up to where the enemies skulls hang. This represents the spirit of their enemy, as I understand, and protects the home.
The warrior took a fancy to us. Brent loved his sword. It was from his grandfather. The swords hanging on the wall are very old. The hilts are made from carved human arm bones.