BBLRtransparent 2

Click here for menu




Highly Endangered

The boat lute of the Iban is called the belikan. It was never a dominant instrument as percussion instruments such as gongs were more commonly used for ceremonies and entertainment. In modern times this instrument is not well known amongst the Iban community.

Found in various regions in Sarawak, there are two distinct versions of the belikan. The small bodied belikan found in Saribas, Saratok and Kanowit is hollowed from the front and has a soundplate and no frets. It closely resembles the Kecapi lute of Kalimantan. In Kapit and further up the Rajang river belikans can appear more similar to a sape with hollowed back, long body and thin neck. The similarities of these two types of belikan to the sape and kecapi might offer clues as to how the instruments came to Iban communities through barter trade, migration and ‘berjalai’.


All information on the Borneo Boat Lute Revival website is based on research findings conducted by the team and/or sharings of knowledge by its community contributors. It is subject to changes and updates at any time. To discuss any information or use of material from this site, please reach us at

Get In Touch

A great deal of thought and deliberation went into every piece of information in the archive before it was finally accepted for inclusion. We’d love to hear from you if you’d want to keep the conversation going! Inquiries, comments and recommendations are always welcome.

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Subscribe to our mailing list to stay up-to-date on our revivalist movement, artists, and other upcoming activities!