Malaysia, Borneo, Sarawak, Sadong River, Iban people
Wood, coconut shell, hide, fiber
L. 39 1/2 in. (100.5 cm)
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889 (89.4.2365)
The Iban people of northern Borneo formerly made the enserunai, a distinctive one- or two-stringed instrument that was played with a small bow and had a body made from a coconut shell or gourd. When playing, the performer sat on the ground and held the neck in the left hand with the resonator either resting against the calf of the leg or with the lower tip, or spike, of the neck grasped in the toes. To get the proper sound, the strings were moistened with saliva and the musician played it with the bow while pressing down on the strings at various points along the neck to vary the pitch as with a Western violin. Little is known about the contexts in which the instrument was used or its musical repertoire, although its sound was quite soft. Enserunai were reportedly used to play the tunes of dirges sung for deaths or burials, although whether the instrument was employed only when rehearsing or at the actual ceremonies is uncertain.