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The Pagan Tribes of Borneo by Charles Hose and William McDougall

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The Pagan Tribes of Borneo

A Description of Their Physical Moral and Intellectual Condition
With Some Discussion of their Ethnic Relations

by Charles Hose and William McDougall

With an Appendix on the Physical Characters of the Races of Borneo

by A. C. Haddon

In Two Volumes


In writing this book we have aimed at presenting a clear picture of the
pagan tribes of Borneo as they existed at the close of the nineteenth
century. We have not attempted to embody in it the observations
recorded by other writers, although we have profited by them and have
been guided and aided by them in making our own observations. We have
rather been content to put on record as much information as we have
been able to obtain at first hand, both by direct observation of the
people and of their possessions, customs, and manners, and by means
of innumerable conversations with men and women of many tribes.

The reader has a right to be informed as to the nature of the
opportunities we have enjoyed for collecting our material, and we
therefore make the following personal statement. One of us (C. H.) has
spent twenty-four years as a Civil Officer in the service of the Rajah
of Sarawak; and of this time twenty-one years were spent actually in
Sarawak, while periods of some months were spent from time to time
in visiting neighbouring lands -- Celebes, Sulu Islands, Ternate,
Malay Peninsula, British North Borneo, and Dutch Borneo. Of the
twenty-one years spent in Sarawak, about eighteen were passed in the
Baram district, and the remainder mostly in the Rejang district. In
both these districts, but especially in the Baram, settlements and
representatives of nearly all the principal peoples are to be found;
and the nature of his duties as Resident Magistrate necessitated a
constant and intimate intercourse with all the tribes of the districts,
and many long and leisurely journeys into the far interior, often
into regions which had not previously been explored. Such journeys,
during which the tribesmen are the magistrate's only companions
for many weeks or months, and during which his nights and many of
his days are spent in the houses of the people, afford unequalled
opportunities for obtaining intimate knowledge of them and their
ways. These opportunities have not been neglected; notes have been
written, special questions followed up, photographs taken, and sketches
made, throughout all this period.

In the years 1898 -- 9 the second collaborator (W. McD.) spent the
greater part of a year in the Baram district as a member of the
Cambridge Anthropological Expedition, which, under the leadership
of Dr. A. C. Haddon, went out to the Torres Straits in the year
1897. During this visit we co-operated in collecting material for a
joint paper on the animal cults of Sarawak;[1] and this co-operation,
having proved itself profitable, suggested to us an extension of
our joint program to the form of a book embodying all the information
already to hand and whatever additional information might be obtainable
during the years that one of us was still to spend in Borneo. The
book therefore may be said to have been begun in the year 1898 and
to have been in progress since that time; but it has been put into
shape only during the last few years, when we have been able to come
together for the actual writing of it.

During the year 1899 Dr. A. C. Haddon spent some months in the Baram
district, together with other members of the Cambridge Expedition
(Drs. C. G. Seligmann, C. S. Myers, and Mr. S. Ray); and we wish to
express our obligation to him for the friendly encouragement in, and
stimulating example of, anthropological field work which he afforded
us during that time, as well as for later encouragement and help
which he has given us, especially in reading the proofs of the book
and in making many helpful suggestions. We are indebted to him also
for the Appendix to this book, in which he has stated and discussed
the results of the extensive series of physical measurements of the
natives that he made, with our assistance, during his visit to Sarawak.

We have pleasure in expressing here our thanks to several other
gentlemen to whom we are indebted for help of various kinds -- for
permission to reproduce several photographs, to Dr. A. W. Nieuwenhuis,
the intrepid explorer of the interior of Dutch Borneo, who in his
two fine volumes (QUER DURCH BORNEO) has embodied the observations
recorded during two long journeys in the interior; to Mr. H. Ling Roth
for the gift of the blocks used in the preparation of his well-known
we have made use of; to Dr. W. H. Furness, author of THE HOME LIFE
OF BORNEO HEAD-HUNTERS (1902), for several photographic plates made
by him during his visits to the Baram in the years 1897 and 1898;
to Drs. C. G. Seligmann and C. S. Myers for permission to reproduce
several photographs; to Mr. R. Shelford, formerly Curator of the
Sarawak Museum, for his permission to incorporate a large part of
a paper published jointly with one of us (C. H.) on tatu in Borneo,
and for measurements of Land Dayaks made by him; to Mr. R. S. Douglas,
formerly Assistant Officer in the Baram district and now Resident of
the Fourth Division of Sarawak, for practical help genially afforded
on many occasions.

Finally, it is our agreeable duty to acknowledge our obligation to
H.H. the Rajah of Sarawak, who welcomed to his country the members of
the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition, and without whose enlightened
encouragement of scientific work on the part of his officers this
book would never have been written.

C. H.

W. McD.

JULY 1912.

Supplementary Preface by one of the Authors

I feel that it is necessary to supplement our joint-preface with some
few words of apology for, and explanation of, the appearance of my
name on the title-page of this book. For the book is essentially an
attempt to set forth in condensed form the mass of knowledge of the
tribes of Borneo acquired by Dr. Hose in the course of a quarter of
a century's intimate study of, and sympathetic companionship with,
the people of the interior. My own part in its production has been
merely that of a midwife, though I may perhaps claim to have helped
in the washing and dressing of the infant as well as in its delivery,
and even to have offered some useful advice during the long years of
pregnancy. And, since it is more difficult to present a brief and
popular account of any complex subject the more intimate is one's
knowledge of it, I may fairly hope that my superficial acquaintance
with the pagan tribes of Borneo has been a useful ally to Dr. Hose's
profound and extensive knowledge of them; I have therefore gladly
accepted my friend's generous invitation to place my name beside his
as joint-author of this work.

W. McD.


Chapter I
Geography of Borneo

Chapter II
History of Borneo

Chapter III
General Sketch of the Peoples of Borneo

Chapter IV
Material Conditions of the Pagan Tribes of Borneo

Chapter V
The Social System

Chapter VI

Chapter VII
The Daily Life of a Kayan Long House

Chapter VIII
Life on the Rivers

Chapter IX
Life in the Jungle

Chapter X

Chapter XI

Chapter XII
Decorative Art

Chapter XIII
Ideas of Spiritual Existences and the Practices Arising from Them

Chapter XIV
Ideas of the Soul Illustrated by Burial Customs, Soul-Catching,
and Exorcism

Chapter XV
Animistic Beliefs Connected with Animals and Plants

Chapter XVI
Magic, Spells, and Charms

Chapter XVII
Myths, Legends, and Stories

Chapter XVIII
Childhood and Youth of a Kayan

Chapter XIX
The Nomad Hunters

Chapter XX
Moral and Intellectual Peculiarities

Chapter XXI
Ethnology of Borneo

Chapter XXII

The Physical Characters of the Races of Borneo. By A. C. Haddon



List of Plates

1. Young Kayan Chief with middle-class Companion (in Colour).
2. Bruni, the pile-built Capital of the Sultans of Bruni 2
3. A Jungle Path near Marudi, Baram District 4
4. A Limestone Hill at Panga in Upper Sarawak 6
5. Mount Dulit from the Tinjar River 8
6. (A) Keltie Falls, Mount Dulit, Sarawak. (B) Kenyahs stopping
to camp for the Night on the Baram River 10
7. The Rejang River emerging from the central mountain Region
8. Gorge in the Rejang River above the entrance of Baloi
Peh 14
9. The Rejang River winding through the Hill Country 16
10. The Rejang River about 300 Miles above its Mouth 16
11. Jungle enveloped in thick Moss on Summit of Mount Dulit 18
12. Head of the Rejang River 20
13. In the Headwaters of the Baram River 22
14. Lioh Matu (the Place of a Hundred Islands), at the Head of
the Baram River 24
15. Fanny Rapid in the Pata River, Baram District 26
16. A Sea Dayak or Iban 28
17. Profile of Sea Dayak of Plate 16 28
18. A Sea Dayak Woman 30
19. Kayan Family of the Upper Rejang 32
20. An Uma Pliau (Kayan) Girl of the Baram District 32
21. Buling, the Son of a Kenyah Chief of the Baram District 34
22. (A) A curly-haired Kayan of the Baram. (B) Aban Tingan,
a famous Kenyah Warrior, younger Brother of Tama Bulan 36
23. Klemantans of the Tinjar District, and one old Kayan Chief
of Baloi, Laki Bo, wearing black Head-dress (back row, second figure,
left) 38
24. Long Pokuns (Klemantans) of Tinjar River 38
25. Kalabit (Murut) Chief (in centre) with Followers, from the
Source of the Baram River 40
26. Punans of Tinjar River 40

27. Tama Bulan Wang, the Kenyah Penghulu of the Baram District
28. Kayan Girl from the Upper Kotei District 44
29. Youthful Sea Dayaks in gala Dress 44
30. Sea Dayak Woman wearing Coat and Petticoat ornamented with
Shells 46
31. Sulau, the Wife of a Kayan Chief, displaying her Collection
of valuable old Beads 46
32. A Barawan Woman (Klemantan) of the Tinjar 48
33. Malanau Infant wearing Apparatus for moulding of the
Head 48
34. A Long House in the Baram District 50
35. Murik Village of Long Tamala, Baram District 50
36. Gallery of a Kayan House at Long Lama, Baram District 52
37. Interior of a Kayan Dwelling-room 52
38. Heads hanging in the Gallery of a Kayan House 54
39. Beneath a Kayan House. To the left the Altar-posts for
Offerings can be seen 54
40. Large Barn in which PADI is stored 56
41. Iban House 56
42. Gallery of Iban House 56
43. Iban Seat-mats. Iban Seed-baskets 58
44. (B) Tobacco-boxes; (C) Wooden Plate for rolling Cigarettes;
(G) Gourd for Pith-heads of Darts; (P) Tobacco-pipes; (FP) Fire-piston;
(F) Nose-flute 58
45. Kenyah Woman's Hat. Kayan Tawak and Gongs 60
46. Ningka, a valuable old Sea Dayak Jar 60
47. Old earthenware Vessels much prized by all the Tribes 62
48. Ibans bargaining over old Jars 62
49. Tama Usong, leading Kayan Chief of the Baram District 64
50. Aban Deng, the Chief of the Long Wats (Klemantan) of the
Baram District 66
51. Sebop (Klemantan) Chief haranguing his Followers 70
52. Kenyahs of the Pata River. The Men wearing Caps and the one
squatting on the left are of the upper Class the others are of the
middle Class 74
53. A Kayan making Fire by Friction with a PUSA 78
54. A Corpse in a Barawan (Klemantan) House. Party in the
unfinished House of Jangan, Chief of the Sebops, on the occasion of
the naming of his Child 82
55. Ibans felling a Tree 98
56. A Lirong Farm in the Tinjar River 100
57. Kayans of Baloi in the PADI-field. The Tatu on the Thighs is
perceptible 102

58. Kenyah Women resting from Weeding in the PADI-field 104
59. Kenyah Women at their Farm 106
60. Kenyahs measuring the Length of the Shadow of the ASO DO at
Noon to determine the Time for sowing PADI 108
61. Klemantan Women dressed as Men at the harvest Festival 114
62. The Garden of a Kayan House, I.E. the Area between the House
and the River, with Fruit-trees and PADI Barns 116
63. Elderly Kayan Woman ascending the House-ladder with Basketful
of Water-vessels 118
64. The Gallery of a Klemantan (Sebop) House, Tinjar District
65. Jungle Fruits 122
66. A Klemantan Village, showing the Balawing Pole 124
67. Kayans splitting Rattans for Mat-making 126
68. A Kayan Party sitting in the Gallery of a Long House 126
69. Entertaining Guests in the Gallery of a Klemantan (Barawan)
House 128
70. Lepu Pohuns (Klemantans) of the Tinjar River 130
71. (A) Ibans preparing a Boat for a long Journey. (B) Kayan
War-boat on the Lower Baram 132
72. A Halt at Batu Pita on the Baram 132
73. Cooking the mid-day Meal on a gravel Bed, Baram River 134
74. Boat proceeding up the Rejang River below the Palagus
Falls 134
75. Poling up the Palagus Falls, Rejang River 136
76. (A) Kenyahs hauling a Boat over Rapids. (B) Hut built on
River-bank for a night's Shelter 136
77. A Boat about to descend the Falls at Long Bukau, Rejang
River 138
78. Boat roofed with Leaf-mats on the Dapoi River, Baram
District 138
79. Kayans fishing with Cast-net in the Upper Baram River 140
80. Fishing with Rod and Line at the Tipang Falls of the Baram
81. Typical Scene in the uppermost Reaches of a River 142
82. Kenyah Hunters at Work with the Blow-pipe 144
83. Kenyah Hunter returning Home with young Pig 146
84. Kayan Hunting-party camping for the Night 146
85. Ibans setting Traps for Pheasants and small Mammals. Punans
at Home 148
86. Kayans working Gutta-percha 150
87. (A) Gathering the IPOH Dart-poison. (B) Usong, a Kayan Youth
of upper Class, Son of Tama Usong (Plate 49) 152

88. Kenyah collecting IPOH Poison 152
89. Klemantans making Fire in the Jungle by sawing one Piece of
Bamboo across another 154
90. Instructing Kayan Youths in the jungle 156
91. Kenyah and Kayan Swords and Sheaths 158
92. Spears and Paddles (Kayan and Klemantan) 160
93. Kayan and Kenyah War-caps 162
94. Coat and Cap, Sword, Knife, and Shield of Kenyah Warrior
(in Colour) 164
95. A Murik (Klemantan) Youth in War-dress 166
96. Klemantan War-boat ascending a Reach of the Baram near
Marudi 168
97. Pole set up in River by Kayans to mark the Spot where a
favourable Omen was observed 170
98. Scouts watching a Boat in Trouble at the Mouth of the Akar
River, Baram District 172
99. Iban War-party in the Jungle 174
100. Kayan House fenced in for Protection against Enemies 176
101. Kenyah Mode of Attack 178
102. Kayan Woman dancing, and carrying in right Hand a Head dressed
in Leaves 180
103. Iban War-boats on the Rejang River 182
104. Iban Scouts on the alert 184
105. Punan Heads taken by Ibans 186
106. Iban Women dancing with human Heads 188
107. Kalabit Smiths using stone Hammers. The Bellows are simpler
than those described in text 194
108. Iban making Fire-pistons 196
109. Iban House in course of Construction 198
110. Kanowit (Klemantan) Baskets and Beadwork 200
111. Kayan Knife and Axes 202
112. Kenyah hewing out Shaft of Blow-pipe before boring it 204
113. Kenyahs drilling a Blow-pipe 206
114. Kenyah lashing Spear-blade to Blow-pipe 208
115. Kenyah making Dart for Blow-pipe 210
116. Kenyah making Dart-poison 212
117. Kenyahs making Bark-cloth 214
118. Iban Woman extracting Cotton-seeds 216
119. Iban Woman with Spinning-wheel 218
120. Iban Woman preparing the Web for dyeing 220
121. Iban Woman weaving 222
122. Carved Door to the Room of Aban Jau, a Chief of the Sebops
(Klemantans), Tinjar River 226
123. Door of Room in Sebop (Klemantan) House. The two Figures near
the Top probably represent Gibbons 228
124. Carvings on the Wall of the Gallery in a Long Ulai (Klemantan)
House, Baram District 230

125. Prow of Klemantan War-boat (the Man is an Iban) 232
126. A Kenyah Pattern carved on a bamboo Tobacco-box 234
127. Annular Design worked on bamboo Tobacco-box (Kenyah) 236
128. Charcoal Drawings. The first depicts Women at Work on PADI
Mortars; the second the feeding of Pigs and Fowls; the third the
laying of a Corpse in the Tomb 238
129. Kenyah Sword-handle carved from a Deer's Horn 242
130. Old Beads worn by Kayans (in Colour) 244
131. Blanket (Pua) woven by Iban Woman 246
132. Blanket (Pua) woven by Iban Woman 248
133. Tatu Patterns on Thighs of Kayan Women 250
134. Tatu Patterns on a Kalabit Woman 252
135. Kalabit Tatu (Woman) 254
136. Tatu designs 258
137. ,, 260
138. ,, 262
139. ,, 264
140. ,, 266
141. ,, 268
142. ,, 270
143. ,, 274
Kenyah Women husking PADI (in Colour) FRONTISPIECE
144. Kenyah Altar showing large round Stones known as BATU
TULOI. Eggs offered to the Omen-birds in the Jungle 2
145. A Klemantan (Barawan) making Offerings of Eggs to the
Gods 4
146. Balawing Pole on the left; Altar-post of Bali Penyalong on the
right and in the middle a Post to which Pieces of the Flesh of slain
Enemies have been skewered as Thank-offerings after successful War,
set up before House of Long Pokuns (Klemantan) 8
147. Wooden Images set up before a Kenyah House at the Approach
of an Epidemic of Cholera 12
148. Wooden Image of Bali Atap, a Kenyah God 16
149. Altar-posts set up before Klemantan House on return from
War 20
150. (A) Temporary Shelter for Heads. (B) Gallery of a Kayan Long
House 24
151. Kenyah Dayongs wearing Masks 30
152. Tomb of the Wife of a Chief of the Long Patas (Klemantan). The
white Discs were formerly made of Shell, but nowadays European Crockery
is used, and a German Firm supplies Dinner-plates provided with two
Perforations which facilitate the attachment of the Plates 34
153. Tomb of a Sekapan (Klemantan) Chief 36
154. The Grave of Kuling, Daughter of Boi Jalong, the principal
Kenyah Chief of the Batang Kayan River 40
155. Malanau Graves near Rejang Village 44
156. Peng Coffins deposited on Ledges of overhanging Cliff on the
Mahakam. River 46
157. (A) Tama Bulan sacrificing a Pig to Bali Penyalong. (B)
Balari, a Kenyah, sacrificing a Fowl to Bali Penyalong 58
158. A Kayan charging a Pig with a Message to the Gods 68
159. Kayans discussing the Liver of a Pig 80

160. Image of a Hornbill made by Ibans for use at Ceremonies 94
161. Group of Kenyahs. On the Top of the Pole can be seen an Image
of the Hawk, Bali Flaki 106
162. An Enemy's Head decorated by Kayans with various Charms 120
163. Image of Crocodile, and House provided for the Spirit whose
Aid is invoked by Malanaus at the Bayoh Ceremony 126
164. A wooden Figure of Crocodile, and Decorations used at the
Bayoh Ceremony by Malanaus 132
165. Mixed Group of Kenyah and Klemantan Boys 154
166. A Sekapan (Klemantan) Woman carrying Child in a Cradle 156
167. Iban Boys bathing. The Fence is for Protection against
Crocodiles 158
168. (1) Fire-piston. (2) PUSA, used to make Fire at the naming
of a Kayan Child. The Figure represents Laki Pesong 160
169. Kayans wrestling 164
170. A Dance which nearly resembles some recent European
Developments of the Art 166
171. A Kayan dancing 168
172. A Lesson in Wood-carving (Kenyahs) 172
173. An Iban Wedding 174
174. Punans of the Baram 178
175. Elderly Punan Headman 180
176. A Punan Headman of the Tinjar 180
177. Punans of Bok (Baram) 182
178. Tatued Ukit of Rejang District 184
179. A Punan Camp in the Dapoi River 186
180. Punans working wild Sago 188
181. Punans working Camphor 190
182. Punan Mother and Child 192
183. Creeper hung across Mouth of tributary Stream to prohibit
All-comers from ascending the Stream. 206
184. Brass Hooks and Sword-handles sent by Tama Kuling to the
Resident of the Baram as Symbols of Peace 220
185. A Kayan of the Mahakam River
186. A Kayan Woman of the Mahakam River, East Borneo 226
187. An Orang Bukit (Klemantan) Woman, Baram District 228
188. Profile of Woman in Plate 187 230
189. Long Pokuns (Klemantans) of Dapoi River, Baram District 234
190. Lirong (Klemantan) Youths of Tinjar River 238
191. A Lirong Woman (Klemantan) of the Tinjar River 240
192. A Kajaman (Klemantan) Woman of the Upper Class 244

193. Land Dayak Men (Klemantans) from Upper Sarawak 250
194. (A) Land Dayak Girls of the Sadong District. (B) Land Dayaks
of Upper Sarawak 252
195. Iban Women, Rejang District 254
196. A small Fort at Kanowit, Rejang District 260
197. The Fort at Claudetown (Marudi), with Squad of Rangers who
form the Garrison 264
198. Entrance of the new Fort at Marudi, Baram District 268
199. Court-room in Baram Fort 272
200. The Silat River descending from Usun Apo to join the Baram,
the High Road between East and West Borneo. 276
201. Kenyah masked Men going to meet former Enemies with Overtures
of Peace 280
202. Klemantan Mask 284
203. Tama Kuling (ALIAS Boi Jalong), principal Kenyah Chief of
the Batang Kayan District 288
204. Tama Kuling's (Kenyah) Village at Tana Puti, Batang Kayan
District 292
205. Madangs (Kenyahs) at the Peace-making at Marudi (1899) 296
206. The great Peace-making at Marudi (1899), Baram District,
between the Kayan, Kenyah, and Klemantan Tribes of East and West
Borneo 298
207. Racing of War-boats at Marudi during the Peace-meeting
(1899) 300
208. Party of Kenyah Chiefs from the Batang Kayan on the Way to
visit the Rajah of Sarawak at Kuching, before the Peace-making in
the Baram in 1901 302
209. Final Instructions from the Resident of the Third Division
of Sarawak to a Kayan Party about to attack Stronghold of Iban
Rebels 304
210. Peace-making with Kana and the Iban Rebels at Kanowit 306
211. Madangs of Pliran with two Children newly restored to their
Parents by the Government from Captivity with Ibans 308

N.B. -- The following names are those of the gentlemen to whom we
are indebted for permission to reproduce their photographs. After
each name stands a list of the plates thus reproduced.

Dr. W. H. Furness. (Nos. 11, 32, 33, 40, 42, 44, 45, 48, 51, 52, 55,
62, 63, 82, 85, 87 (B), 93, 96, 99, 104, 147, 149, 152, 162, 165,
175, 179, 180, 181, 182.)

Dr. A. W. Nieuwenhuis. (Nos. 28, 37, 61, 67, 81, 151, 154, 165, 172,
183, 185, 186, 201, 204.)

Dr. A. C. Haddon. (Nos. 6, 22 (A), 43, 54, 76, 144, 150.)

Dr. C. S. Myers. (No. 157.)

Dr. C. G. Seligmann. (Nos. 87 (A), 207.)

Dr. Harrison W. Smith. (No. 194 (A).)

Mr. A. Moor. (No. 208.)

Mr. R. Shelford. (Nos. 193, 194 (B).)

The rest of the plates are from photographs taken by C. H.


The Eastern Archipelago.
Sketch Map of the Baram District, Sarawak.
Sketch Map of Sarawak.


Geography of Borneo

Borneo is one of the largest islands of the world. Its area is
roughly 290,000 square miles, or about five times that of England
and Wales. Its greatest length from north-east to south-west is 830
miles, and its greatest breadth is about 600 miles. It is crossed
by the equator a little below its centre, so that about two-thirds
of its area lie in the northern and one-third lies in the southern
hemisphere. Although surrounded on all sides by islands of volcanic
origin, Borneo differs from them in presenting but small traces of
volcanic activity, and in consisting of ancient masses of igneous
rock and of sedimentary strata.

The highest mountain is Kinabalu, an isolated mass of granite in the
extreme north, nearly 14,000 feet in height. With this exception the
principal mountains are grouped in several massive chains, which
rise here and there to peaks about 10,000 feet above the sea. The
principal of these chains, the Tibang-Iran range, runs south-westward
through the midst of the northern half of the island and is prolonged
south of the equator by the Schwaner chain. This median south-westerly
trending range forms the backbone of the island. A second much-broken
chain runs across the island from east to west about 1[degree]
north of the equator. Besides these two principal mountain chains
which determine the main features of the river-system, there are
several isolated peaks of considerable height, and a minor ridge of
hills runs from the centre towards the south-cast corner. With the
exception of the northern extremity, which geographically as well
as politically stands apart from the rest of the island, the whole
of Borneo may be described as divided by the two principal mountain
chains into four large watersheds. Of these, the north-western basin,
the territory of Sarawak, is drained by the Rejang and Baram, as well
as by numerous smaller rivers. Of the other three, which constitute
Dutch Borneo, the north-eastern is drained by the Batang Kayan or
Balungan river; the south-eastern by the Kotei and Banjermasin rivers;
and the south-western by the Kapuas, the largest of all the rivers,
whose course from the centre of the island to its south-west corner
is estimated at 700 miles. Although the point of intersection of the
two principal mountain chains lies almost exactly midway between the
northern and southern and the eastern and western extremities of the
island, the greater width of the southern half of the island gives a
longer course to the rivers of that part, in spite of the fact that
all the six principal rivers mentioned above have their sources not
far from this central point. The principal rivers thus radiate from
a common centre, the Batang Kayan flowing east-north-east, the Kotei
south-east by east, the Banjermasin south, the Kapuas a little south
of west, the Rejang west, and the Baram north-west. This radiation of
the rivers from a common centre is a fact of great importance for the
understanding of the ethnography of the island, since the rivers are
the great highways which movements of the population chiefly follow.

In almost all parts of the island, the land adjoining the coast is
a low-lying swampy belt consisting of the alluvium brought down by
the many rivers from the central highlands. This belt of alluvium
extends inland in many parts for fifty miles or more, and is especially
extensive in the south and south-east of the island.

Between the swampy coast belt and the mountains intervenes a zone of
very irregular hill country, of which the average height above the
sea-level is about one thousand feet, with occasional peaks rising
to five or six thousand feet or more.

There seems good reason to believe that at a comparatively recent
date Borneo was continuous with the mainland of Asia, forming its
south-eastern extremity. Together with Sumatra and Java it stands
upon a submarine bank, which is nowhere more than one hundred fathoms
below the surface, but which plunges down to a much greater depth
along a line a little east of Borneo (Wallace's line). The abundance
of volcanic activity in the archipelago marks it as a part of the
earth's crust liable to changes of elevation, and the accumulation of
volcanic matter would tend to make it an area of subsidence; while
the north-east monsoon, which blows with considerable violence down
the China Sea for about four months of each year, may have hastened
the separation of Borneo from the mainland. That this separation was
effected in a very recent geological period is shown by the presence in
Borneo of many species of Asiatic mammals both large and small, notably
the rhinoceros (R. BORNIENSIS, closely allied to R. SUMATRANUS);
the elephant (E. INDICUS, which, however, may have been imported by
man); the wild cattle (BOS SONDIACUS, which occurs also in Sumatra);
several species of deer and pig (some of which are found in Sumatra
and the mainland); several species of the cat tribe, of which the
tiger-cat (FELIS NEBULOSA) is the largest; the civet-cat (VIVERRA)
and its congeners HEMIGALE, PARADOXURUS, and ARCTOGALE; the small
black bear (URSUS MALAYANUS); the clawless otter (LUTRA CINEREA); the
bear-cat (ARCTICTIS BINTURONG); the scaly ant-eater (MANIS JAVANICUS);
numerous bats, squirrels, rats and mice; the big shrew (GYMNURA);
several species of monkeys, and two of the anthropoid apes. The last
are of peculiar significance, since they are incapable of crossing
even narrow channels of water, and must be regarded as products of
a very late stage of biological evolution. Of these two anthropoid
species, the gibbon (HYLOBATES MULLERI) is closely allied to species
found in the mainland and in Sumatra, while the MAIAS or orang-utan
(SIMIA SALYRUS) is found also in Sumatra and, though not now surviving
on the continent, must be regarded as related to anthropoids whose
fossil remains have been discovered there.[2]

The zoological evidence thus indicates a recent separation of Borneo
and Sumatra from the continent, and a still more recent separation
between the two islands.

The climate of the whole island is warm and moist and very equable. The
rainfall is copious at all times of the year, but is rather heavier
during the prevalence of the north-east monsoon in the months from
October to February, and least during the months of April and May. At
Kuching, during the last thirty years, the average yearly rainfall
has been 160 inches, the maximum 225, and the minimum 102 inches;
the maximum monthly fall recorded was 69 inches, and the minimum
.66, and the greatest rainfall recorded
in one day was 15 inches. The temperature hardly, if ever, reaches
100[degree] F.; it ranges normally between 70[degree] and 90[degree]
F.; the highest reading of one year (1906) at Kuching was 94[degree],
the lowest 69[degree]. Snow and frost are unknown, except occasionally
on the summits of the highest mountains. Thunder-storms are frequent
and severe, but wind-storms are not commonly of any great violence.

The abundant rainfall maintains a copious flow of water down the many
rivers at all times of the year; but the rivers are liable to rise
rapidly many feet above their normal level during days of exceptionally
heavy rain. In their lower reaches, where they traverse the alluvial
plains and swamps, the rivers wind slowly to the sea with many great
bends, and all the larger ones are navigable by small steamers for
many miles above their mouths: thus a large steam launch can ascend the
Rejang for 160 miles, the Baram for 120, and some of the rivers on the
Dutch side for still greater distances. The limit of such navigation
is set by beds of rock over which the rivers run shallow, and which
mark the beginnings of the middle reaches. In these middle reaches,
where the rivers wind between the feet of the hills, long stretches of
deep smooth water alternate with others in which the water runs with
greater violence between confining walls of rock, or spreads out in
wide rapids over stony bottoms. The upper reaches of the rivers, where
they descend rapidly from the slopes of the mountains, are composed
of long series of shallow rapids and low waterfalls, alternating at
short intervals with still pools and calm shallows, bounded by rock
walls and great beds of waterworn stones, which during the frequent
freshets are submerged by a boiling flood. The whole river in these
upper reaches is for the most part roofed in by the overarching forest.

Practically the whole of Borneo, from the seacoast to the summits of
the highest mountains, is covered with a dense forest. On the summits
this consists of comparatively stunted trees, of which every part is
thickly coated with moss. In all other parts the forest consists of
great trees rising to a height of 150 feet, and even 200 feet, and of a
dense undergrowth of younger and smaller trees, and of a great variety
of creepers, palms, and ferns. Trees of many species (nearly 500)
yield excellent timber, ranging from the hardest ironwood or BILIAN,
and other hard woods (many of them so close-grained that they will not
float in water), to soft, easily worked kinds. A considerable number
bear edible fruits, notably the mango (from which the island derives
its Malay name, PULU KLEMANTAN), the durian, mangosteen, rambutan,
jack fruit, trap, lansat, banana of many varieties, both wild and
cultivated, and numerous sour less nutritious kinds. Wild sago is
abundant in some localities. Various palms supply in their unfolding
leaves a cabbage-like edible. Among edible roots the caladium
is the chief. Rubber is obtained as the sap of a wild creeper;
gutta-percha from trees of several varieties; camphor from pockets
in the stem of the camphor tree (DRYOBALANOPS AROMATICA). But of all
the jungle plants those which play the most important parts in the
life of the people are the many species of the rattan and the bamboo;
without them more than half the crafts and most of the more important
material possessions of the natives would be impossible, and their
lives would perhaps nearly conform to the conventional notion of
savage existence as something 'nasty, dull, and brutish.' The jungle
of Borneo is, of course, famous for its wealth of orchids, and can
claim the distinction of producing the largest flower of the world
(RAFFLESIA), and many beautiful varieties of the pitcher plant.

The forests of Borneo harbour more than 450 species of birds, many
of them being of gorgeous colouring or strange and beautiful forms;
especially noteworthy are many hawks, owls, and eagles, fly-catchers,
spider-hunters, sun-birds, broad-bills, nightjars, orioles, miners,
pigeons, kingfishers, hornbills, trojans, magpies, jays, crows,
partridges, pheasants, herons, bitterns, snipes, plovers, Curlews,
and sandpipers. Amongst these are many species peculiar to Borneo;
while on the mountains above the 4000-feet level are found several
species which outside Borneo are known only in the Himalayas.

Besides the mammals mentioned above, Borneo claims several species
of mammal peculiar to itself, notably the long-nosed monkey (NASALIS
many shrews and squirrels, including several flying species; a
civet-cat (HEMIGALE HOSEI); a deer (CERVUS BROOKII); the bearded pig
(SUS HARBATUS); the curious feather-tailed shrew (PTYLOCERCUS LOWII).

Reptiles are well represented by the crocodile, which abounds in all
the rivers, a long-snouted gavial, numerous tortoises and lizards
with several flying species, and more than seventy species of snakes,
of which some are poisonous, while the biggest, the python, attains
a length of thirty feet. The rivers abound in edible fish of many
species; insects are of course numerous and varied, and, aided by the
multitude of frogs, they fill the island each evening at sunset with
one vast chorus of sound.


History of Borneo

The Pagan tribes of Borneo have no written records of their history
and only very vague traditions concerning events in the lives of their
ancestors of more than five or six generations ago. But the written
records of more cultured peoples of the Far East contain references to
Borneo which throw some small rays of light upon the past history and
present condition of its population. It has seemed to us worth while
to bring together in these pages these few historical notes. The later
history of Borneo, which is in the main the story of its occupation
by and division between the Dutch and English, and especially the
romantic history of the acquisition of the raj of Sarawak by its
first English rajah, Sir James Brooke, has often been told,[3] and
for this reason may be dismissed by us in a very few words.

The coasts of Borneo have long been occupied by a Mohammedan population
of Malay culture; this population is partly descended from Malay
and Arab immigrants, and partly from indigenous individuals and
communities that have adopted the Malay faith and culture in recent
centuries. When Europeans first visited the island, this population,
dwelling for the most part, as it still does, in villages and small
towns upon the coast and in or near the mouths of the rivers, owed
allegiance to several Malay sultans and a number of subordinate rulers,
the local rajahs and pangirans. The principal sultans had as their
capitals, from which they took their titles, Bruni on the north-west,
Sambas in the west, Pontianak at the mouth of the Kapuas river,
Banjermasin in the south at the mouth of the river of the same name,
Pasir at the south-east corner, Kotei and Balungan on the east at the
mouths of the rivers of those names; while the Sultan of Jolo, the
capital of the Sulu islands, which lie off the north coast, claimed
sovereignty over the northern end of Borneo. But these Malay sultans
were not the first representatives in the island of culture and of
civilised or semi-civilised rule; for history preserves some faint
records of still earlier times, of which some slight confirmation is
afforded by surviving traces of the culture then introduced.

In spite of all the work done on the history of the East Indies,
most of what occurred before and much that followed the arrival of
Europeans remains obscure. There are several Asiatic nations whose
records might be expected to contain valuable information, but all
are disappointing. The Klings, still the principal Hindu traders
in the Far East, visited the Malay Archipelago in the first or at
any rate the second century after Christ,[4] and introduced their
writing[5] and chronology. But their early histories are meagre
and unsatisfactory in the extreme. The Arab culture of the Malays,
which took root in Sumatra in the twelfth century, is of course of
no assistance in regard to events of earlier date, and does not give
trustworthy and detailed accounts until the fifteenth century. The
Chinese, on the other hand, always a literary people, carefully
preserved in their archives all that could be gathered with regard
to the "southern seas." But China was far away, and many local events
would possess no interest for her subjects. Under the circumstances,
the official historians deserve our gratitude for their geographical
descriptions and for the particulars of tribute-bearing missions to
the Son of Heaven, though they have little else to tell.

The first account we have been able to find referring to Borneo is
a description of the kingdom of Poli from the Chinese annals of the
sixth century. Poli was said to be on an island in the sea south-east
of Camboja, and two months south-east of Canton. The journey thither
was made by way of the Malay Peninsula, a devious route still followed
by Chinese junks. Envoys were sent to the Imperial court in A.D. 518,
523, and 616. "The people of this country," our authority says,
"are skilled in throwing a discus-knife, and the edge is like a saw;
when they throw it at a man, they never fail to hit him. Their other
arms are about the same as in China. Their customs resemble those
of Camboja, and the productions of the country are the same as of
Siam. When one commits a murder or theft they cut off his hands,[6]
and when adultery has been committed, the culprit has his legs chained
for the period of a year. For their sacrifice they choose the time when
there is no moon; they fill a bowl with wine and eatables and let it
float away on the surface of the water; in the eleventh month they have
a great sacrifice. They get corals from the sea, and they have a bird
called s'ari, which can talk." A later reference to the same place
says: "They carry the teeth of wild beasts in their ears, and wrap
a piece of cotton round their loins; cotton is a plant of which they
collect the flowers to make cloth of them; the coarser kind is called
KUPA, and the finer cloth T'IEH. They hold their markets at night,
and cover their faces.... At the east of this country is situated
the land of the Rakshas, which has the same customs as Poli."[7]

This is an interesting account in many ways, and tallies very
closely with what other evidence would lead one to suspect. For
there is reason to think that Bruni, before it became Mohammedan,
was a Bisaya kingdom under Buddhist sovereigns and Hindu influence;
and nearly all the particulars given with regard to the people of
Borneo are true of one or other of the races allied to Bisayas and
living near Bruni to-day. The discus-knife, a wooden weapon, is
not now in use, but is known to have been used formerly. The wild
Kadayans sacrifice after every new moon, and are forbidden to eat
a number of things until they have done so. The Malanaus set laden
rafts afloat on the rivers to propitiate the spirits of the sea. The
very names of the two kinds of cotton, then evidently a novelty to
the Chinese, are found in Borneo: KAPOK is a well-known Malay word;
but TAYA is the common name for cotton among the Sea Dayaks, though it
is doubtful whether it is found in Sumatra at all, and is not given
in Marsden's great Dictionary. The use of teeth as ear-ornaments
may refer to Kenyahs. If these identities are sufficient to show
that Poli was old Bruni, we have an almost unique illustration here
of the antiquity of savage customs. That an experience of fourteen
hundred years should have failed to convince people of the futility
of feeding salt waves is a striking demonstration of the widespread
fallacy, that what is old must needs be good.

Poli had already attained a certain measure of civilisation, and
even of luxury. The kingly dignity was hereditary, and the Buddhist
monarch was served with much ceremony. He was clad in flowered silk
or cotton, adorned with pearls, and sat on a golden throne attended
by servants with white dusters and fans of peacock feathers. When
he went out of his palace, his chariot, canopied with feathers and
embroidered curtains, was drawn by elephants, whilst gongs, drums,
and conches made inspiriting music. As Hindu ornaments have been found
at Santubong together with Chinese coins of great antiquity, as the
names of many offices of state in Bruni are derived from Sanskrit,
and the people of Sarawak have only lately ceased to speak of "the
days of the Hindus,"[8] there is nothing startling in the statement
that the kings of Poli were Buddhist.

Whatever Poli may or may not have been, there is little question
that Puni, 45 days from Java, 40 from Palembang, 30 from Champa,
in each case taking the wind to be fair, was Bruni. The Chinese, who
have neither B nor double consonants in their impoverished language,
still call the Bornean capital Puni. Groeneveldt says that the Chinese
consider Puni to have been on the west coast of Borneo. This state
is mentioned several times in the annals of the Sung dynasty, which,
though only ruling over Southern China, had a complete monopoly[9]
of the ocean trade for three centuries (960 to 1279 A.D.). Puni
was at that time a town of some 10,000 inhabitants, protected by
a stockade of timber. The king's palace, like the houses of modern
Bruni, was thatched with palm leaves, the cottages of the people with
grass. Warriors carried spears and protected themselves with copper
armour. When any native died, his corpse was exposed in the jungle,
and once a year for seven years sacrifices were made to the departed
spirit. Bamboos and palm leaves, thrown away after every meal, sufficed
for crockery. The products of the country, or at least such as were
sent as tribute, were camphor, tortoiseshell, and ivory.[10]

In the year 977, we are told, Hianzta, king of Puni, sent envoys
to China, who presented tribute with the following words: "May the
emperor live thousands and tens of thousands of years, and may he not
disapprove of the poor civilities of my little country." The envoys
presented a letter from the king. This was written on' what looked like
the very thin bark of a tree; it was glossy, slightly green, several
feet long, and somewhat broader than one inch; the characters in which
it was written were small, and had to be read horizontally. In all
these particulars the letter resembled the books of magic which are
still written by the Battas of inland Sumatra.[11] The message ran:
"The king of Puni, called Hianzta, prostrates himself before the most
august emperor, and hopes that the emperor may live ten thousands of
years. I have now sent envoys to carry tribute; I knew before that
there was an emperor, but I had no means of communication. Recently
there was a merchant called Pu Lu, whose ship arrived at the mouth
of my river; I sent a man to invite him to my place, and he told me
that he came from China. The people of my country were much delighted
at this, and preparing a ship, asked this stranger to guide them to
the court. The envoys I have sent only wish to see Your Majesty in
peace, and I intend to send people with tribute every year. But when
I do so I fear that my ships may occasionally be blown to Champa,
and I therefore hope Your Majesty will send an edict to that country
with orders that, if a ship of Hianzta arrives there, it must not
be detained. My country has no other articles,[12] and I pray Your
Majesty not to be angry with me." The envoys were entertained and
sent home with presents. In 1082 A.D., a hundred years later, Sri
Maja, king of Puni, sent tribute again, but the promise of yearly
homage was not kept. Gradually the Sung dynasty declined in power,
and East Indian potentates became less humble.

In the thirteenth and the early part of the fourteenth centuries
Bruni owed allegiance alternately to two powers much younger than
herself, Majapahit in Java, and Malacca on the west coast of the
Malay Peninsula. Both these states were founded in the thirteenth
century.[13] Majapahit, originally only one of several Javan kingdoms,
rapidly acquired strength and subjugated her neighbours and the nearest
portions of the islands around. Malacca, formed when the Malay colony
of Singapore was overwhelmed by Javanese, became the great commercial
depot of the Straits and the chief centre of Mohammedanism in the
Archipelago. The two powers therefore stood for two faiths and two
cultures: Majapahit for Brahminism and Hindu influence, Malacca for
Islam and the more practical civilisation of Arabia.

In the earliest years of the fourteenth century Bruni was a dependency
of Majapahit, but seems to have recovered its independence during the
minority of the Javan king. It is to this time that the tradition of
the Kapuas Malays ascribes the arrival of the Kayans in Borneo.[14]
Then Angka Wijaya extended the power of Majapahit over Palembang
in Sumatra, Timor, Ternate, Luzon, and the coasts of Borneo. Over
Banjermasin he set his natural son. In 1368 Javanese soldiers drove
from Bruni the Sulu marauders who had sacked the town. A few years
later the ungrateful king transferred his allegiance to China, and
not long afterwards, with calculating humility, paid tribute[15]
to Mansur Shah, who had succeeded to the throne of Malacca in 1374 A.D.

An extraordinary incident occurred at the beginning of the fifteenth
century, which again -- and for the last time -- draws our attention
to the Chinese court. The great Mongol conquerors, Genghis and Kublai
Khan, had little to do with the Malay Archipelago, though the latter
sent an unsuccessful expedition against Java in 1292. But the Ming
emperors, who were of Chinese blood, came to power in 1368 and soon
developed the maritime influence of the empire. For a few years there
was a continual stream of East Indian embassies. During the last
twenty years of the century, however, these became more rare, and in
1405 the Chinese emperor found it necessary to send a trusted eunuch,
by name Cheng Ho, to visit the vassal states in the south. This man
made several journeys, travelling as far as the shores of Africa,
and his mission bore immediate fruit. Among others, Maraja Kali,
king of Puni, although Cheng Ho does not appear to have called on
him in person, sent tribute in 1405; and so pleased was he with
the embroidered silk presented to him and his wife in return, that
he visited the Son of Heaven three years later. Landing in Fukien,
he was escorted by a eunuch to the Chinese capital amid scenes of
great rejoicing. The emperor received him in audience, allowing
him the honours of a noble of the first rank, and loaded him with
gifts. The same year, having accomplished his one great ambition of
"seeing the face of the Son of Heaven," this humbled monarch died in
the imperial city, leaving his son Hiawang to succeed to the throne of
Puni. Having induced the emperor to stop the yearly tribute of forty
katties of camphor paid by Puni to Java, and having agreed to send
tribute to China every three years, Hiawang returned home to take up
the reins of government. Between 1410 and 1425 he paid tribute six
times, besides revisiting the Chinese Court; but afterwards little
Puni seems to have again ignored her powerful suzerain.

It is probable that the Chinese colony in North Borneo which gave
its name to the lofty mountain Kina Balu (Chinese widow) and to
the Kina Batangan, the chief river which flows from it, was founded
about this time. Several old writers seem to refer to this event,
and local traditions of the settlement still survive. The Brunis and
Idaans (a people in the north not unlike the Bisayas) have legends
differing in detail to the effect that the Chinese came to seize the
great jewel of the Kina Balu dragon, but afterwards quarrelled about
the booty and separated, some remaining behind. The Idaans consider
themselves the descendants of these settlers, but that can only
be true in a very limited sense. Both country and people, however,
show traces of Chinese influence.

There is good evidence that the Chinese influence and immigration
were not confined to Bruni and the northern end of the island. In
south-west Borneo there are traces of very extensive washings of
alluvial gravels for gold and diamonds. These operations were being
conducted by Chinese when Europeans first came to the country; and
the extent of the old workings implies that they had been continued
through many centuries. Hindu-Javan influence also was not confined
to the court of Bruni, for in many parts of the southern half of
Borneo traces of it survive in the custom of burning the dead, in low
relief carvings of bulls on stone, and in various gold ornaments of
Hindu character.

The faith of Islam and the arrival of Europeans have profoundly
affected the manners and politics of the East Indies, and now it is
difficult to picture the state of affairs when King Hiawang revisited
China to pay homage to the Emperor. In 1521, within a hundred years
of that event, Pigafetta, the chronicler of Magellan's great exploit,
was calling on the "Moorish" king of Bruni, in the course of the
first voyage round the world. The change had come. Of the two new
influences, so potent for good and evil, Mohammedanism made its
appearance first. The struggle for religious supremacy ended in the
complete victory of the Prophet's followers in 1478, when Majapahit
was utterly destroyed, thirty years before the capture of Malacca by
the Portuguese.

How early the Arab doctrines were taught in Bruni is impossible
to state with any precision. Local tradition ascribes their
introduction to the renowned Alak ber Tata, afterwards known as Sultan
Mohammed. Like most of his subjects this warrior was a Bisaya, and in
early life he was not a Mohammedan, not indeed a civilised potentate
at all, to judge by conventional standards; for the chief mark of
his royal dignity was an immense chawat, or loin-cloth, carried as
he walked by eighty men, forty in front and forty behind. He is the
earliest monarch of whom the present Brunis have any knowledge, a fact
to be accounted for partly by the brilliance of his exploits, partly
by the introduction about that time of Arabic writing. After much
fighting he subdued the people of Igan,[16] Kalaka, Seribas, Sadong,
Semarahan, and Sarawak,[17] and compelled them to pay tribute. He
stopped the annual payment to Majapahit of one jar of pinang juice,
a useless commodity though troublesome to collect. During his reign
the Muruts were brought under Bruni rule by peaceful measures,[18]
and the Chinese colony was kept in good humour by the marriage of
the Bruni king's brother and successor to the daughter of one of the
principal Chinamen.

Alak ber Tata is said to have gone to Johore,[19] where he was
converted[20] to Islam, given[21] the daughter of Sultan Bakhei and
the title of Sultan, and was confirmed in his claim to rule over
Sarawak and his other conquests.[22]

Sultan Mohammed was succeeded by his brother Akhmad, son-in-law of
the Chinese chief, and he was in turn succeeded by an Arab from Taif
who had married his daughter. Thus the present royal house of Bruni is
derived from three sources -- Arab, Bisaya, and Chinese. The coronation
ceremony as still maintained affords an interesting confirmation of
this account. On that occasion the principal minister wears a turban
and Haji outfit, the two next in rank are dressed in Chinese and Hindu
fashion, while the fourth wears a chawat over his trousers to represent
the Bisayas; and each of these ministers declares the Sultan to be
divinely appointed. Then after the demonstration of loyalty the two
gongs -- one from Menangkabau, the other from Johore -- are beaten,
and the Moslem high priest proclaims the Sultan and preaches a sermon,
declaring him to be a descendant of Sri Turi Buana, the Palembang
chief who founded the early kingdom of Singapore in 1160 A.D., who
reigned in that island for forty-eight years, and whose descendants
became the royal family of Malacca.

The Arab Sultan who succeeded Akhmed assumed the name Berkat and ruled
the country with vigour. He built a mosque and converted many of his
subjects, so that from his reign Bruni may be considered a Mohammedan
town. To defend the capital he sank forty junks filled with stone
in the river, and thus formed the breakwater which still bars the
entrance to large ships. This work rose above the water level, and
in former times bristled with cannon. Sultan Berkat was succeeded by
his son Suleiman, whose reign was of little consequence.

Neglecting Suleiman, we come now to the most heroic figure in Bruni
history, Sultan Bulkiah, better known by his earlier name, Nakoda
Ragam. The prowess of this prince has been celebrated in prose and
verse. He journeyed to distant lands, and conquered the Sulu islands
and eastern Borneo. Over the throne of Sambas he set a weak-minded
brother of his own. He even sent an expedition to Manila, and on the
second attempt seized that place. Tribute poured into his coffers from
all sides. His wife was a Javanese princess, who brought many people
to Bruni. These intermarried with the Bisayas, and from them it is
said are sprung the Kadayans, a quiet agricultural folk, skilled
in various arts, but rendered timid by continual oppression. Some
have settled recently in the British colony of Labuan, and others in
Sarawak round the river Sibuti, where they have become loyal subjects
of the Rajah of Sarawak.

Nakoda Ragam's capital at Buang Tawa was on dry land, but when he died,
killed accidentally by his wife's bodkin, the nobles quarrelled among
themselves, and some of them founded the present pile-built town of
Bruni. It was to this Malay capital and court that Pigafetta paid
his visit in 1521 with the surviving companions of Magellan. His is
the first good account from European sources of the place which he
called Bornei, and whose latitude he estimated with an error of less
than ten miles.[23]

It is easy to see from Pigafetta's narrative[24] that at the
date of his visit the effects of Nakoda Ragam's exploits had not
evaporated. The splendour of the Court and the large population the
city is said to have contained were presumably the result of the
conquests he had made in neighbouring islands. The king, like the
princes of Malacca before the conquest, had his elephants, and he and
his courtiers were clothed in Chinese satins and Indian brocades. He
was in possession of artillery, and the appearance and ceremonial of
his court was imposing.

From this time onwards the power of Bruni has continuously
declined. Recurrent civil wars invited the occasional interventions
of the Portuguese and of the Spanish governors of the Philippines,
which, although they did not result in the subjugation of the Malay
power, nevertheless sapped its strength.

The interest of the later history of Borneo lies in the successive
attempts,[25] many of them fruitless, made by Dutch and English to
gain a footing on the island. The Dutch arrived off Bruni in the year
1600, and ten days afterwards were glad to leave with what pepper
they had obtained in the interval, the commander judging the place
nothing better than a nest of rogues. The Dutch did not press the
acquaintance, but started factories at Sambas, where they monopolised
the trade. In 1685 an English captain named Cowley arrived in Bruni;
but the English showed as little inclination as the Dutch to take up
the commerce which the Portuguese had abandoned.

At Banjermasin, on the southern coast, more progress was made. The
Dutch arrived there before their English rivals, but were soon
compelled by intrigues to withdraw. In 1704[26] the English factors
on the Chinese island of Chusan, expelled by the imperial authorities
and subsequently driven from Pulo Condar off the Cochin China coast
by a mutiny, arrived at Banjermasin. They had every reason to be
gratified with the prospects at that port; for they could sell the
native pepper to the Chinese at three times the cost price. But their
bitter experiences in the China seas had not taught them wisdom; they
soon fell out with the Javanese Sultan, whose hospitality they were
enjoying, and after some bloody struggles were obliged to withdraw
from this part of the island.

In 1747 the Dutch East India Company, which in 1705 had obtained a firm
footing in Java, and in 1745 had established its authority over all
the north-eastern coast of that island, extorted a monopoly of trade
at Banjermasin and set up a factory. Nearly forty years later[27]
(1785), the reigning prince having rendered himself odious to his
subjects, the country was invaded by 3000 natives of Celebes. These
were expelled by the Dutch, who dethroned the Sultan, placing his
younger brother on the throne; and he, in reward for their services,
ceded to them his entire dominions, consenting to hold them as a
vassal. This is the treaty under which the Dutch claim the sovereignty
of Banjermasin and whatever was once dependent on it. In this way
the Dutch got a hold on the country which they have never relaxed;
and, after the interval during which their possessions in the East
Indies were administered by England,[28] they strengthened that hold
gradually, year by year, till now two-thirds or more of the island
is under their flag and feels the benefits of their rule. If there
are still any districts of this large area where Dutch influence has
even now barely made itself felt, they will not long remain in their
isolation; for the Controleurs are extending their influence even
into the most remote corners of the territory.

To turn again to the north-western coast and the doings of Englishmen,
in 1763 the Sultan of Sulu ceded to the East India Company the
territory in Borneo which had been given him when he killed the usurper
Abdul Mubin in Bruni. In 1773 a small settlement was formed on the
island of Balambangan, north of Bruni; and in the following year
the Sultan of Bruni agreed to give this settlement a monopoly of the
pepper trade in return for protection from piracy. In the next year,
however, Balambangan was surprised and captured by the Sulus. It was
reoccupied for a few months in 1803, and then finally forsaken.

Towards the end of the eighteenth century the Malays of Bruni,
Sulu, and Mindanao, with native followers and allies, inspired
we may suppose by the example of their European visitors, took to
piracy -- not that they had not engaged in such business before, but
that they now prosecuted an old trade with renewed vigour. English
traders still tried to pay occasional visits, but after the loss
of the MAY in 1788, the SUSANNA in 1803, and the COMMERCE in 1806,
with the murder of the crews, the Admiralty warned merchants that it
was CERTAIN DESTRUCTION to go up river to Bruni. For forty years this
intimation was left on British charts, and British seamen followed the
humiliating counsel. Not until the early forties was peace restored,
after an event of the most romantic and improbable kind, the accession
of an English gentleman to the throne of Sarawak.

Of this incident, so fateful for the future of the western side
of Borneo, it must suffice to say here that James Brooke, a young
Englishman, having resigned his commission in the army of the British
East India Company, invested his fortune in a yacht of 140 tons,
with which he set sail in 1838 for the eastern Archipelago. His
bold but vague design was to establish peace, prosperity, and just
government in some part of that troubled area, whose beauties he had
admired and whose misfortunes he had deplored on the occasion of an
earlier voyage to the China seas. When at Singapore, he heard that
the Malays of Sarawak, a district forming the southern extremity
of the Sultanate of Bruni, had rebelled against the Bruni nobles,
and had in vain appealed to the Dutch Governor-general at Batavia for
deliverance from their oppressors. Under the nominal authority of the
Sultan, these Bruni nobles, many of whom were of Arab descent, had
brought all the north-western part of Borneo to a state of chronic
rebellion. They had taught the Sea Dayaks of the Batang Lupar and
neighbouring rivers to join them in their piratical excursions, and,
being to some extent dependent upon their aid, were compelled to
treat them with some consideration; but all other communities were
treated by them with a rapacity and cruelty which was causing a rapid
depopulation and the return to jungle of much cultivated land.

Brooke sailed for Sarawak in August 1839, and found the country torn
by internal conflicts. The Sultan had recently sent Muda Hasim, his
uncle and heir-presumptive to the throne of Bruni, to restore order;
but this weak though amiable noble had found himself quite incapable
of coping with the situation. Brooke spent some time surveying the
coast and studying the people and country, and gained the confidence of
Muda Hasim. After an excursion to Celebes, Brooke sailed for a second
visit to Sarawak just a year after the first, and found the state of
the country going from bad to worse. Muda Hasim besought him to take
command of his forces and to suppress the rebellion. Brooke consented,
and soon secured the submission of the rebel leaders on the condition
that he (Brooke), and not any Bruni noble, should be the governor and
Rajah of Sarawak. Muda Hasim had offered to secure his appointment
to this office as an inducement to him to undertake the operations
against the rebels; Brooke therefore felt himself justified in granting
these terms. And when later Muda Hasim, no longer threatened with
disgrace and failure, showed himself disinclined to carry out this
arrangement, Brooke, feeling himself bound by his agreement with
the rebel leaders, whose lives he had with difficulty preserved from
the vengeance of the Bruni nobles, insisted upon it with some show
of force; and on September 24, 1841, he was proclaimed Rajah and
governor of Sarawak amid the rejoicings of the populace. Muda Hasim,
as representative of the Sultan, signed the document which conferred
this title and authority; but since he was not in any proper sense
Rajah of Sarawak, which in fact was not a raj, but a district hitherto
ruled or misruled by Bruni governors not bearing the title of Rajah,
this transaction cannot properly be described as an abdication by
Muda Hasim in favour of Brooke. Brooke accordingly felt that it was
desirable to secure from the Sultan himself a formal recognition of
his authority and title. To this end he visited the Sultan in the year
1842, and obtained from him the desired confirmation of the action of
his agent Muda Hasim. The way in which the raj of Sarawak has since
been extended, until it now comprises a territory of nearly 60,000
square miles (approximately equal to the area of England and Wales),
will be briefly described in a later chapter (XXII.).

The northern end of Borneo had long been a hunting-ground for slaves
for the nobles of Bruni and Sulu, whose Sultans claimed but did
not exercise the right to rule over it. In 1877 Mr. Alfred Dent,
a Shanghai merchant, induced the two Sultans to resign to him their
sovereign rights over this territory in return for a money payment. The
British North Borneo Company, which was formed for the commercial
development of it, necessarily undertook the task of pacification
and administration. In 1881 the company was granted a royal charter
by the British Government; and it now administers with success and a
fair prospect of continued commercial profit a territory which, with
the exception of a small area about the town of Bruni, includes all
of the island that had not been brought under the Dutch or Sarawak
flag. In 1888 Sarawak and British North Borneo were formally brought
under the protection of the British Government; but the territories
remained under the rule of the Rajah and of the company respectively,
except in regard to their foreign relations. In the year 1906 the
Sultan of Bruni placed himself and his capital, together with the
small territory over which he still retained undivided authority,
under the protection of the British Government; and thus was completed
the passing of the island of Borneo under European control.


General Sketch of the Peoples of Borneo

It is not improbable that at one time Borneo was inhabited by people
of the negrito race, small remnants of which race are still to be
found in islands adjacent to all the coasts of Borneo as well as in
the Malay Peninsula. No communities of this race exist in the island
at the present time; but among the people of the northern districts
individuals may be occasionally met with whose hair and facial
characters strongly suggest an infusion of negrito or negroid blood.

It is probable that the mixed race of Hindu-Javanese invaders, who
occupied the southern coasts of Borneo some centuries ago, became
blended with the indigenous population, and that a considerable
proportion of their blood still runs in the veins of some of the
tribes of the southern districts (E.G. the Land Dayaks and Malohs).

There can be no doubt that of the Chinese traders who have been
attracted to Borneo by its camphor, edible birds' nests, and spices,
some have settled in the island and have become blended with and
absorbed by the tribes of the north-west (E.G. the Dusuns); and
it seems probable that some of the elements of their culture have
spread widely and been adopted throughout a large part of Borneo. For
several centuries also Chinese settlers have been attracted to the
south-western district by the gold which they found in the river
gravel and alluvium. These also have intermarried with the people of
the country; but they have retained their national characteristics,
and have been continually recruited by considerable numbers of their
fellow countrymen. Since the establishment of peace and order and
security for life and property by the European administrations, and
with the consequent development of trade during the last half-century,
the influx of Chinese has been very rapid; until at the present time
they form large communities in and about all the chief centres of
trade. A certain number of Chinese traders continue to penetrate far
into the interior, and some of these take wives of the people of the
country; in many cases their children become members of their mothers'
tribes and so are blended with the native stocks.

Among the Mohammedans, who are found in all the coast regions of
Borneo, there is a considerable number of persons who claim Arab
forefathers; and there can be no doubt that the introduction of the
Mohammedan religion was largely due to Arab traders, and that many
Arabs and their half-bred descendants have held official positions
under the Sultans of Bruni.

During the last half-century, natives of India, most of whom are Klings
from Madras, have established themselves in the small trades of the
towns; and of others who came as coolies, some have settled in the
towns with their wives and families. These people do not penetrate
into the interior or intermarry with the natives.

With the exception of the above-mentioned immigrants and their
descendants, the population of Borneo may be described as falling
naturally into two great classes; namely, on the one hand those
who have accepted, nominally at least, the Mohammedan religion and
civilisation, and on the other hand the pagan peoples. In Bruni and in
all the coast regions the majority of the people are Mohammedan, have
no tribal organisation, and call themselves Malays (Orang Malayu). This
name has usually been accorded them by European authors; but when
so used the name denotes a social, political, and religious status
rather than membership in an ethnic group. With the exception of these
partially civilised "Malays" of the coast regions and the imported
elements mentioned above, all the natives of Borneo live under tribal
organisation, their cultures ranging from the extreme simplicity of the
nomadic Punans to a moderately developed barbarism. All these pagan
tribes have often been classed together indiscriminately under the
name Dyaks or Dayaks, though many groups may be clearly distinguished
from one another by differences of culture, belief, and custom,
and peculiarities of their physical and mental constitutions.

The Mohammedan population, being of very heterogeneous ethnic
composition, and having adopted a culture of foreign origin, which
may be better studied in other regions of the earth where the Malay
type and culture is more truly indigenous, seems to us to be of
secondary interest to the anthropologist as compared with the less
cultured pagan tribes. We shall therefore confine our attention to
the less known pagan tribes of the interior; and when we speak of
the people of Borneo in general terms it is to the latter only that
we refer (except where the "Malays" are specifically mentioned). Of
these we distinguish six principal groups: (1) Sea Dayaks or Ibans,
(2) the Kayans, (3) Kenyahs, (4) Klemantans, (5) Muruts, (6) Punans.

A census of the population has been made in most of the principal
districts of Sarawak and of Dutch Borneo; but as no census of the
whole country has hitherto been made, it is impossible to state
with any pretence to accuracy the number of the inhabitants of the
island. Basing our estimate on such partial and local enumerations
as have been made, we believe the total population to be about
3,000,000. Of these the Chinese immigrants and their descendants, who
are rapidly increasing in number, probably exceed 100,000. The Malays
and the native converts to Islam, who constitute with the Chinese the
population of the towns and settled villages of the coast districts,
probably number between three and four hundred thousand; the Indian
immigrants are probably not more than 10,000; the Europeans number
perhaps 3000; the rest of the population is made up of the six groups
of barbarians named in the foregoing paragraph.

Any estimate of the numbers of the people of each of these six
divisions is necessarily a very rough one, but it is perhaps worth
while to state our opinion on this question as follows: Klemantans,
rather more than 1,000,000; Kenyahs, about 300,000; Muruts, 250,000;
Sea Dayaks, 200,000; Kayans, 150,000; Punans and other peoples of
similar nomadic habits, 100,000 -- I.E. a total of 2,000,000.

(1) Of all these six peoples the Sea Dayaks have become best known
to Europeans, largely owing to their restless truculent disposition,
and to the fact that they are more numerous in Sarawak than any of
the others. They have spread northwards over Sarawak during the latter
half of the last century, chiefly from the region of the Batang Lupar,
where they are still numerous. They are still spreading northward,
encroaching upon the more peaceful Klemantan tribes. They are
most densely distributed in the lower reaches of the main rivers
of Sarawak, especially the Batang Lupar and Saribas rivers, which
are now exclusively occupied by them; but they are found also in
scattered communities throughout almost all parts of Sarawak, and
even in British North Borneo, and they extend from their centre in
Sarawak into the adjacent regions of Dutch Borneo, which are drained
by the northern tributaries of the Great Kapuas River.

The Sea Dayak is of a well-marked and fairly uniform physical
type. His skin is distinctly darker than that of the other peoples
of the interior, though not quite so dark as that of most of the
true Malays. The hair of his head is more abundant and longer than
that of other peoples. His figure is well proportioned, neat, and
generally somewhat boyish. His expression is bright and mobile, his
lips and teeth are generally distorted and discoloured by the constant
chewing of betel nut. They are a vain, dressy, boastful, excitable,
not to say frivolous people -- cheerful, talkative, sociable, fond
of fun and jokes and lively stories; though given to exaggeration,
their statements can generally be accepted as founded on fact; they
are industrious and energetic, and are great wanderers; to the last
peculiarity they owe the name of Iban, which has been given them by
the Kayans, and which has now been generally adopted even by the Sea
Dayaks themselves.

The good qualities enumerated above render the Iban an agreeable
companion and a useful servant. But there is another side to the
picture: they have little respect for their chiefs, a peculiarity which
renders their social organisation very defective and chaotic; they
are quarrelsome, treacherous, and litigious, and the most inveterate
head-hunters of the country; unlike most of the other peoples, they
will take heads for the sake of the glory the act brings them and for
the enjoyment of the killing; in the pursuit of human victims they
become possessed by a furious excitement that drives them on to acts
of the most heartless treachery and the most brutal ferocity.

All the Sea Dayaks speak one language, with but slight local
diversities of dialect. It is extremely simple, being almost devoid
of inflections, and of very simple grammatical structure, relying
largely on intonation. It is closely allied to Malay.

(2) The Kayans are widely distributed throughout central Borneo, and
are to be found in large villages situated on the middle reaches of
all the principal rivers with the exception of those that run to the
north coast. They occupy in the main a zone dividing the districts
of the lower reaches of the rivers from the central highlands from
which all the rivers flow.

They are a warlike people, but less truculent than the Sea Dayaks,
more staid and conservative and religious, and less sociable. They
do not wantonly enter into quarrels; they respect and obey their
chiefs. They are equally industrious with the Sea Dayaks, and though
somewhat slow and heavy in both mind and body, they are more skilled
in the handicrafts than any of the other peoples. They also speak
one language, which presents even less local diversity than the Sea
Dayak language.

(3) The Kenyahs predominate greatly in the highlands a little north of
the centre of Borneo where all the large rivers have their sources;
but they are found also in widely scattered villages throughout the
Kayan areas. In all respects they show closer affinities with the
Kayans than with the Sea Dayaks; as regards custom and mode of life
they closely resemble the Kayans, with whom they are generally on
friendly terms; but they are easily distinguished from the Kayans by
well-marked differences of bodily and mental characters, as well as
by language. Physically they are without question the finest people
of the country. Their skin-colour is decidedly fairer than that of
Sea Dayaks or Kayans. They are of medium stature, with long backs
and short, muscular, well-rounded limbs; a little stumpy in build,
but of graceful and vigorous bearing. They are perhaps the most
courageous and intelligent of the peoples; pugnacious, but less
quarrelsome than the Sea Dayak; more energetic and excitable than the
Kayan; hospitable and somewhat improvident, sociable and of pleasant
manners; less reserved and of more buoyant temperament than the Kayan;
very loyal and obedient to their chiefs; more truthful and more to be
depended upon under all circumstances than any of the other peoples,
except possibly the Kayans.

The Kenyahs speak a number of dialects of the same language, and
these differ so widely that Kenyahs of widely separated districts
cannot converse freely with one another; but, as with all the peoples,
except the Sea Dayaks, nearly every man has the command of several
dialects as well as of the Kayan language.

(4) The Klemantans. Under this name we group together a number
of tribes which, though in our opinion closely allied, are widely
scattered in all parts of Borneo, and present considerable diversities
of language and custom. In physical and mental characters they show
affinities to the Kenyahs on the one hand and to the Muruts on the
other. They are less bellicose than the peoples mentioned above,
and have suffered much at their hands. They are careful, intelligent,
and sociable, though somewhat timid, people; skilful in handicrafts,
but less energetic than the Kayans and Kenyahs, and inferior to them
in metal work and the making of swords and spears and boats. The
blow-pipe is their characteristic weapon, and they are more devoted
to hunting than any others, except the Punans.

Klemantans are to be found in every part of the island, but most of
their villages are situated on the lower reaches of the rivers. They
are most abundant in the south, constituting the greater part of the
population of Dutch Borneo; in the north they are few, their place
being filled by their near relatives, the Muruts. The latter constitute
the principal part of the population of the northern end of the island,
predominating over all the other peoples in British North Borneo,
and in the northern extremities of Sarawak and of Dutch Borneo.

(5) The Muruts are confined to the northern part of Borneo. They
resemble the Klemantans more closely than the other peoples. They
are comparatively tall and slender, have less regular and pleasing
features than the Klemantans, and their skin is generally darker
and more ruddy in colour. Their agriculture is superior to that
of the other peoples, but they are addicted to much drinking of
rice-spirit. Their social organisation is very loose, their chiefs
having but little authority. Besides those who call themselves Muruts,
we class under the same general name several tribes which we regard as
closely allied to them; namely, the Adangs in the head of the Limbang;
the Kalabits about the head of the Baram; the Sabans and Kerayans at
the head of the Kerayan river; the Libuns; the Lepu Asings at the
head of the Bahau; Tagals and Dusuns in the most northerly part;
the Trings of the Barau and Balungan rivers on the east.

(6) The Punans, among whom we include, beside the Punans proper, the
Ukits and a few other closely allied but widely scattered small groups,
are the only people who do not dwell in villages established on the
banks of the rivers. They live in small groups of twenty or thirty
persons, which wander in the jungle. Each such group is generally
made up of a chief and his descendants. The group will spend a few
weeks or months at a time in one spot (to which generally they are
attracted by the presence of wild sago), dwelling in rude shelters of
sticks and leaves, and then moving on, but generally remaining within
some one area, such as the basin of one of the upper tributaries
of a large river. They are found throughout the interior of Borneo,
but are difficult to meet with, as they remain hidden in the depths
of the forests. Unlike all the other peoples, they cultivate no PADI
(rice), and they do not make boats or travel on the rivers. They
support themselves by hunting with the blow-pipe, by gathering
the wild jungle fruits, and by collecting the jungle products and
bartering them with the more settled peoples. In physical characters
they closely resemble the Kenyahs, being well-built and vigorous;
their skin is of very light yellow colour, and their features are
regular and well shaped. Mentally they are characterised by extreme
shyness and timidity and reserve. They are quite inoffensive and never
engage in open warfare; though they will avenge injuries by stealthy
attacks on individuals with the blow-pipe and poisoned darts. Their
only handicrafts are the making of baskets, mats, blow-pipes, and the
implements used for working the wild sago; but in these and in the use
of the blow-pipe they are very expert. All other manufactured articles
used by them -- cloths, swords, spears -- are obtained by barter from
the other peoples. Unlike all the other peoples, they have no form of
sepulture, but simply leave the corpse of a comrade in the rude shelter
in which he died. They sing and declaim rude melancholy songs or dirges
with peculiar skill and striking effect. Their language is distinctive,
but is apparently allied to the Kenyah and Klemantan tongues.

We propose to deal with the topics of each of our descriptive chapters
by giving as full as possible an account of the Kayans, and adding to
this some observations as to the principal diversities of custom and
culture presented by the other peoples. For, if we should attempt
to describe in detail each of these peoples with all their local
diversities, this book would attain an inordinate length. The Kayans
are in most respects the most homogeneous of these peoples, the
most conservative and distinctive, and present perhaps the richest
and most interesting body of belief and custom and art; while many
of their customs and arts have been adopted by their neighbours,
or are indigenous with them.

We may conclude this chapter by describing briefly in general terms
the physical characters, and the habits and customs that are common
to all or most of these pagan tribes.

These peoples present no very great differences of physical
character. All are of medium height; their skin-colour ranges from
a rich medium brown to a very pale CAFE-AU-LAIT, hardly deeper than
the colour of cream. Their hair is nearly black or very dark brown,
and generally quite lank, but in some cases wavy or even almost
curly. Their faces show in nearly all cases, though in very diverse
degrees, some of the well-known mongoloid characters, the wide
cheek-bones, the small oblique eyes, the peculiar fold of the upper
eyelid at its nasal end, and the scanty beard. In some individuals
these traces are very slight and in fact not certainly perceptible. The
nose varies greatly in shape, but is usually rather wide at the
nostrils, and in very many cases the plane of the nostrils is tilted
a little upwards and forwards. On the other hand some individuals,
especially among the Kenyahs, have distinctly aquiline and well-formed
noses. Amongst all these peoples, especially the Kenyahs, Punans,
and Klemantans, there are to be seen a few individuals of very regular
well-shaped features of European type.

Although as regards physical characters all these peoples have much in
common, yet each of them presents peculiarities which are obvious to
the eye of an experienced observer, and enable him without hesitation
to assign to their proper groups the majority of individuals; and
such recognition on mere inspection is of course rendered easier by
the relatively slight peculiarities of dress and ornament proper to
each group.

The pure-bred Kenyah presents, perhaps, the most clearly marked as
well as the finest physical type. His skin, is the colour of rich
cream with a very small dash of coffee. The hair of his head varies
from slightly wavy to curly, and is never very abundant or long in the
men. The rest of his body is almost free from hair, and what little
grows upon the face is carefully plucked out (not, leaving even the
eyebrows and eyelashes). This practice is common to all the peoples of
the interior except the Sea Dayaks. His stature is about 1600 mm.; his
weight about 136 pounds. His limbs are distinctly short in proportion
to his body; his trunk is well developed and square, and both limbs
and trunk are well covered with rounded muscles. His movements are
quick and vigorous, and he is hardy and capable of sustaining prolonged
toil and hardship. His head is moderately round (Index 79), his face
broad but well shaped. The expression of his face is bold and open.

The Kayan has a rather darker skin of a redder tone. His legs are not
so disproportionately short, but in all other respects his body is less
well proportioned, graceful, and active than the Kenyah's. His features
are less regular and rather coarser and heavier; his expression is
serious, reserved, and cautious.

The Murut is nearly as fair skinned as the Kenyah, perhaps a little
ruddier in tone. His most characteristic feature is the length of his
leg and lack of calf, in both of which respects he contrasts strongly
with the Kenyah. The length of his leg raises his stature above the
average. His intonation is characteristic, namely, somewhat whining;
whereas the Kenyah's speech is crisp and staccato.

The Klemantans present a greater variety of physical types, being
a less homogeneous group. Roughly they may be said to present all
transitions from the Kenyah to the Murut type. In the main they are
less muscular and active than the Kenyah. It is amongst them that
the upward and forward direction of the plane of the nostrils is
most marked.

The Punan presents, again, a well-marked type. His skin is even fairer
than the Kenyah's, and is distinguished by a distinctly greenish
tinge. He is well proportioned, graceful, and muscular, and his
features are in many cases very regular and pleasing. His expression
is habitually melancholy and strikingly wary and timid. In spite of
his homeless nomadic life he generally appears well nourished and
clean, and he seems less subject to sores and to the skin diseases
which so often disfigure the other peoples, especially the Muruts,
Kayans, and Sea Dayaks.[29]

All these peoples, with the exception of the Punans and similar nomads,
live in village communities situated with few exceptions on the banks
of the rivers. The populations of these villages vary from 20 or 30
persons only in the smallest, to 1500 or even more in a few of the
largest; while the average village comprises about 30 families which,
with a few slaves and dependants, make a community of some 200 to 300
persons. Each such community is presided over by a chief. A number of
villages of one people are commonly grouped within easy reach of one
another on the banks of a river. But no people exclusively occupies
or claims exclusive possession of any one territory or waterway. With
the exception of the Sea Dayaks, all these different peoples may here
and there be found in closely adjoining villages; and in some rivers
the villages of the different peoples are freely intermingled over
considerable areas. The segregation of the Sea Dayak villages seems
to be due to the truculent treacherous nature of the Sea Dayak,
which renders him obnoxious as a neighbour to the other peoples,
and leads him to feel the need of the support of his own people in
large numbers. All find their principal support and occupation in the
cultivation of PADI (rice), and all supplement this with the breeding
of a few pigs and fowls and, in the north of the island, buffalo,
with hunting and fishing, and with the collection of jungle produce
-- gutta-percha, rubber, rattan canes, camphor, sago. These jungle
products they barter or sell for cash to the Malay and Chinese traders.

They have no written records, and but vague traditions of their
past history and migrations. There is no political organisation
beyond a loose coherence and alliance for defence and offence of the
village communities of any one people in neighbouring parts of the
country -- a coherence which at times is greatly strengthened by the
personal ascendency of the chief of some one village over neighbouring
chiefs. One of the most notable examples of such personal ascendency
exercised in recent times was that of Tama Bulan (Pl. 27), a Kenyah
chief whose village was situated on one of the tributaries of the
Baram river, and who by his loyal co-operation with the government
of the Rajah of Sarawak greatly facilitated the rapid establishment
of law and order in this district.

Except for these informal alliances obtaining between neighbouring
villages of the people of any one stock, each village forms an
independent community, ruled by its chief, making war and peace
and alliances, and selecting patches of land for cultivation at its
own pleasure. No village community remains on the same spot for any
long period; but after fifteen, ten, or even fewer years, a new site
is sought, often at a considerable distance, and a new village is
built. The principal reasons for this habit of frequent migration,
which has produced the intimate mingling throughout large areas of the
peoples of different stocks, are two: first, the necessity of finding
virgin soil for cultivation; secondly, the occurrence of epidemics
or other calamities; these lead them to believe that the place of
their abode supplies in insufficient degree the favouring spiritual
influences which they regard as essential to their welfare. For among
all these peoples animistic beliefs abound; they hold themselves to be
surrounded on every hand by spiritual forces both good and bad, some
of which are embodied in the wild creatures, especially the birds,
while some are manifested in such natural processes as the growth of
the corn, the rising of the river in flood, the rolling of thunder,
the incidence of disease. And they are constantly concerned to keep
at a distance, by the observance of many rigidly prescribed customs,
the evil influences, and, to a less degree, to secure by propitiatory
acts the protection and the friendly warnings of the beneficent powers.

One of the most peculiar features of the people of Borneo is the great
diversity of language obtaining among them. The migratory habits of
the people and the consequent mingling of communities of different
stocks within the same areas, far from having resulted in the genesis
by fusion of a common language, have resulted in the formation of
a great number of very distinct dialects; so that in following the
course of a river, one may sometimes find in a day's journey of a
score of miles half a dozen or more villages, the people of each of
which speak a dialect almost, or in some cases quite, unintelligible
to their neighbours. A necessary consequence of this state of affairs
is that, with the exception of the Sea Dayaks, almost all adults
speak or at least understand two or more dialects or languages,
while most of the chiefs and leading men speak several dialects
fluently and partially understand a larger number. The language most
widely understood by those to whom it is not native is the Kayan;
but since the recent spread of trade through large areas under the
protection of the European governments, a simplified form of the Malay
language has been rapidly establishing itself as the LINGUA FRANCA of
the whole country. In Sarawak, where, during the last fifty years,
the Sea Dayaks have spread from the Batang Lupar district and have
established villages on all the principal rivers, their language,
which seems to be a bastard and very simple branch of the Malay tongue,
is very widely understood and is largely used as a common medium.

Note on the use of the term KLEMANTAN. The Malay name for Borneo is
Pulu Klemantan, and we have adopted this name to denote the large
group of allied tribes which in our opinion have the best claim to
be regarded as representing the indigenous population of the island.


Material Conditions of the Pagan Tribes of Borneo

With few exceptions, the main features of the dress, adornment,
and weapons of all the peoples are similar, showing only minor
differences from tribe to tribe and from place to place. The essential
and universal article of male attire is the waist-cloth, a strip of
cloth about one yard wide and four to eight yards in length (see
Frontispiece). Formerly this was made of bark-cloth; but now the
cotton-cloth obtained from the Chinese and Malay traders has largely
superseded the native bark-cloth, except in the remoter regions; and
here and there a well-to-do man may be seen wearing a cloth of more
expensive stuff, sometimes even of silk. One end of such a cloth is
passed between the legs from behind forwards, about eighteen inches
being left dependent; the rest of it is then passed several times round
the waist, over the end brought up on to the belly, and the other end
is tucked in at the back. The man wears in addition when out of doors
a coat of bark-cloth or white cotton stuff,[30] and a wide sun-hat
of palm leaves, in shape like a mushroom-top or an inverted and very
shallow basin, which shelters him from both sun and rain; many wear
also a small oblong mat plaited of rattan-strips hanging behind from
a cord passed round the waist, and serving as a seat when the wearer
sits down. At home the man wears nothing more than the waist-cloth,
save some narrow plaited bands of palm fibre below the knee, and, in
most cases, some adornment in the ears or about the neck and on the
arms.[31] The man's hair is allowed to grow long on the crown of the
scalp, and to hang freely over the back of the neck, in some cases
reaching as far as the middle of the back. This long hair is never
plaited, but is sometimes screwed up in a knot on the top of the head
and fastened with a skewer. The latter mode of wearing the hair is
the rule among the Muruts, who use elaborately carved and decorated
hairpins of bone (the shin bone of the deer, Fig. 1). That part of
the hair of the crown which naturally falls forwards is cut to form
a straight fringe across the forehead. All the rest of the head is
kept shaven, except at times of mourning for the death of relatives.

When in the house the man commonly wears on his head a band of plaited
rattan, which varies from a mere band around the brows to a completed
skull-cap. The free ends of the rattan strips are generally allowed to
project, forming a dependent tassel or fringe (Pl. 21). A well-to-do
Kayan man usually wears a necklace consisting of a single string of
beads, which in many cases are old and of considerable value (Pls. 19
and 28). Every Kayan has the shell of the ear perforated, and when
fully dressed wears, thrust forward through the hole in each shell,
the big upper canine tooth of the tiger-cat; but he is not entitled
to wear these until he has been on the warpath. Those who have taken
a head or otherwise distinguished themselves in war may wear, instead
of the teeth, pieces of similar shape carved from the solid beak of
the helmeted hornbill. The youths who have not qualified themselves
for these adornments, and warriors during mourning, usually wear a
disc of wood or wax in their places (Pls. 19 and 21).

The lobe of the ear is perforated and distended to a loop some two
inches in length, in which a brass ring is worn. Just above this loop
a small hole through the shell is usually made, and from this a small
skein of beads depends. Similar ear ornaments are worn by Kenyahs and
some of the Klemantans, but not by Muruts, and by few individuals
only among Punans and Sea Dayaks. Many of the latter wear a row of
small brass rings inserted round the margin of the shell of each ear
(Fig. 2).

Many of the men wear also bracelets of shell or hard wood.

Although the dress of the men is so uniform in essentials throughout
the country, it gives considerable scope for the display of personal
tastes, and the Sea Dayak especially delights in winding many yards
of brilliantly coloured cloth about his waist, in brilliant coats
and gorgeous turbans[32] and feathers, and other ornaments; by means
of these he manages to make himself appear as a very dressy person
in comparison with the sober Kayan and with most of the people of
the remoter inland regions, who have little but scanty strips of
bark-cloth about the loins.

The universal weapons of the country are sword and spear, and
no man travels far from home without these and his oblong wooden
shield. Some of the peoples are expert in the use of the blowpipe
and poisoned dart. The blow-pipe and the recently introduced firearms
are the only missile weapons; the bow is unknown save as a plaything
for children,[33] and possibly in a few localities in the extreme

The dress of the women is less uniform than that of the men. The Sea
Dayak woman (Pls. 29 and 30) wears a short skirt of cotton thread
woven in curious patterns of several colours, reaching from the waist
almost to the knee; a long-sleeved jacket of the same material, and a
corset consisting of many rings of rattan built up one above another
to enclose the body from breast to thigh. Each rattan ring is sheathed
in small rings of beaten brass. The corset is made to open partially
or completely down the front, but is often worn continuously for long
periods. She wears her hair tied in a knot at the back of her head.

The principal garment of the women of all the other peoples is a
skirt of bark or cotton cloth, which is tied by a string a little
below the level of the crest of the hip bone; it reaches almost to
the ankle, but is open at the left side along its whole depth. It is
thus a large apron rather than a skirt. When the woman is at work in
the house or elsewhere, she tucks up the apron by drawing the front
flap backwards between her legs, and tucking it tightly into the band
behind, thus reducing it to the proportions and appearance of a small
pair of bathing-drawers. Each woman possesses also a long-sleeved,
long-bodied jacket of white cotton similar to that worn by the men;
this coat is generally worn by both sexes when working in the fields
or travelling in boats, chiefly as a protection against the rays of
the sun. The women wear also a large mushroom-shaped hat similar to
that worn by the men. With few exceptions all the women allow the hair
to grow uncut and to fall naturally from the ridge of the cranium,
confined only by a circular band of rattan or beadwork passing over
the occiput and just above the eyebrows.

The principal ornaments of the women are necklaces and girdles of
beads, earrings, and bracelets. A well-to-do Kayan woman may wear a
large number of valuable beads (see Pls. 28 and 31). The bracelets
are of ivory, and both forearms are sometimes completely sheathed
in series of such bracelets. The ear-rings are the most distinctive
feature of the Kayan woman's adornment. The perforated lobes of the
ears are gradually drawn down during childhood and youth, until
each lobe forms a slender loop which reaches to the collar-bone,
or lower. Each loop bears several massive rings of copper (Pl. 20),
whose combined weight is in some cases as much as two pounds.[35] Most
of the Kenyah women also wear similar earrings, but these are usually
lighter and more numerous, and the lobe is not so much distended. The
women of many of the Klemantan tribes wear a large wooden disc in the
distended lobe of each ear, and those of other Klemantan tribes wear
a smaller wooden plug with a boss (Pl. 32). The children run naked
up to the age of six or seven years, when they are dressed in the
fashion of their parents.

On festive occasions both men and women put on as many of their
ornaments as can be conveniently worn.

Deformation of the Head

Some of the Malanaus, a partially Mohammedan tribe of Klemantans,
seated about the mouths of the Muka, Oya, and Bintulu rivers of
Sarawak, have the curious custom of flattening the heads of the
infants, chiefly the females. The flattening is effected at an
early age, the process beginning generally within the first month
after birth. It consists in applying pressure to the head by means
of a simple apparatus for some fifteen minutes, more or less, on
successive days, or at rather longer intervals. The application of
the pressure for this brief space of time, on some ten to twenty
occasions, seems to suffice to bring about the desired effect. The
pressure is applied while the child sleeps, and is at once relaxed if
the child wakes or cries. The apparatus, known as TADAL (see Fig. 3),
consists of a stout flat bar of wood, some nine inches in length
and three wide in its middle part. This wider middle part bears on
one surface a soft pad for application to the infant's forehead. A
[inverted T] strap of soft cloth is attached by its upper
extremity to the middle of the upper edge of the wooden bar; and each
end of its horizontal strip is continued by a pair of strings which
pass through holes in the ends of the bar. The strings are brought
together on the front of the bar at its middle and passed through the
centre of a copper coin[36] or other hard disc. The bar is applied
transversely to the forehead of the infant; the vertical strap runs
back over the sagittal suture; the transverse strap is drawn tightly
across the occiput, and the required degree of pressure is gradually
applied by twisting the coin round and round on the front of the bar,
and so pulling upon the strings which connect the ends of the bar on
the forehead with the ends of the strap across the occiput (Pl. 33).

The effect produced is of course a flattening of brow and occiput and
a broadening of the whole head. The motive seems to be the desire to
enhance the beauty of the child by ensuring to it a moon-like face,
which is the most admired form. The Malanaus seem to be by nature
peculiarly round-headed; the question whether this is due to the
effects of head-flattening practised for many generations, must be
left to the investigations of the Neo-Lamarckians. They are also a
peculiarly handsome people, and it seems more likely that, taking a
pride in their good looks, they have, like so many other peoples,
sought to enhance the beauty of their children by accentuating a
racial peculiarity.


All the tribes except the Punans build houses of one type; but the size
and proportions, the strength of the materials used, and the skill and
care displayed in the work of construction, show wide differences. The
houses of the Kayans are perhaps better and more solidly built than any
others and may be taken as the type. Each house is built to accommodate
many families; an average house may contain some forty to fifty,
making up with children and slaves some two or three hundred persons;
while some of the larger houses are built for as many as a hundred
and twenty families, or some five to six hundred persons. The house
is always close to a river, and it usually stands on the bank at a
distance of 20 to 50 yards from the water, its length lying parallel
to the course of the river. The plan of the house is a rectangle,
of which the length generally much exceeds the width (Pl. 34).

Its roof is always a simple ridge extending the whole length of the
house, and is made of shingles of BILIAN (ironwood) or other hard
and durable kind of wood. The framework of the roof is supported at
a height of some 25 to 30 feet from the ground on massive piles of
ironwood, and the floor is supported by the same piles at a level some
7 or 8 feet below the cross-beams of the roof. The floor consists
of cross-beams morticed to the piles, and of very large planks of
hard wood laid upon them parallel to the length of the house. The
projecting eaves of the roof come down to a level midway between
that of the roof-beams and that of the floor, and the interval of
some 4 to 5 feet between the eaves and the floor remains open along
the whole length of the front of the house (I.E. the side facing the
river), save for a low parapet which bounds the floor along its outer
edge. This space serves to admit both light and air, and affords an
easy view over the river to those sitting in the house. The length
of the house is in some cases as much as 400 yards, but the average
length is probably about 200 yards. The width of the floor varies
from about 30 to 60 feet; the whole space between roof and floor is
divided into two parts by a longitudinal wall of vertical planks,
which runs the whole length of the house. This wall lies not quite
in the middle line, but a little to the river side of it. Of the two
longitudinal divisions of the house, that which adjoins the river
is thus somewhat narrower than the other; it remains undivided in
its whole length. The other and wider part is divided by transverse
walls at intervals of some 25 or 30 feet, so as to form a single row
of spacious chambers of approximately equal size. Each such chamber is
the private apartment of one family; in it father, mother, daughters,
young sons and female slaves, sleep and eat (Pl. 37). Within each
chamber are usually several sleeping-places or alcoves more or less
completely screened or walled off from the central space. The chamber
contains a fireplace, generally merely a slab of clay in a wooden
framework placed near the centre. The outside wall of this side of
the house is carried up to meet the roof. The entrance of light and
air and the egress of smoke are provided for by the elevation on a
prop of one corner of a square section of the roof, marked out by a
right-angled cut, of which one limb runs parallel to the outer wall,
the other upwards from one extremity of the former. This aperture
can be easily closed, E.G. during heavy rain, by removing the prop
and allowing the flap to fall into its original position.

The front part of the house, which remains undivided, forms a single
long gallery serving as a common antechamber to all the private rooms,
each of which opens to it by a wooden door (Pls. 36, 38). It is in
a sense, though roofed and raised some 20 feet above the ground, the
village street, as well as a common living and reception room. Along
the outer border of the floor runs a low platform on which the inmates
sit on mats. One part of this, usually that opposite the chief's
apartment in the middle of the house, is formed of several large
slabs of hardwood (TAPANG or Koompassia), and is specially reserved
for the reception of guests and for formal meetings. The platform
is interrupted here and there by smaller platforms raised some 3 or
4 feet from the floor, which are the sleeping quarters assigned to
the bachelors and male visitors. At intervals of some 30 or 40 feet
throughout the gallery are fireplaces similar to those in the private
chambers; on some of these fire constantly smoulders.

Over one of these fireplaces, generally one near the middle of

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