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The Pagan Tribes of Borneo by Charles Hose and William McDougall

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to the best of their ability. After thus publicly expressing his
appreciation of his host's hospitality, he rinses out his mouth,
squirting out the water towards the nearest gap between the floor
boards, rubs his teeth with his forefinger, again rinses his mouth,
and washes his hand. Then relighting his cigarette, which he has kept
behind his ear or thrust through the hole in its shell, he rejoins
his host, who awaits him on the dais.

On such an occasion, and in fact on any other occasion suggestive
of festivity, the evening is enlivened with oratory, song, and
drink. After supper the men gather together about the chiefs, sitting
in close-set ranks on and before the dais. At a hint from the chief
a jar of BURAK (rice-spirit) is brought into the circle. This may be
the property of the chief or of any one of the principal men, who, by
voluntarily contributing in this way towards the entertainment of the
guests, maintains the honour of the house and of its chief. A little
is poured into a cup and handed to the house-chief, who first makes
a libation to the omen-birds and to all the other friendly spiritual
powers, by pouring a little on to the ground through some crevice of
the floor, or by throwing a few drops out under the eaves, saying,
as he does so, "Ho, all you friendly spirits." Then he drinks a little
and hands back the cup to the young man who has taken charge of the jar
of spirit. The latter, remaining crouched upon his heels, ladles out
another cupful of spirit and offers it in both hands to the principal
guest, who drinks it off, and expresses by a grunt and a smack of the
lips, and perhaps a shiver, his appreciation of its quality. The cup
is handed in similar formal fashion to each of the principal guests
in turn; and then more cups are brought into use, and the circulation
of the drink becomes more rapid and informal. As soon as each man
has had a drink, the house-chief rises to his feet and, addressing
himself to his guest, expatiates upon his admirable qualities, and
expresses eloquently the pleasure felt by himself and his people
at this visit. Then speaking in parables and in indirect fashion,
claiming perhaps indulgence on the ground that he is merely talking
in his sleep, he touches upon local politics at first delicately;
then warming up he speaks more directly and plainly. He may become
much excited and gesticulate freely, even leaping into the air and
twirling round on one foot with outstretched right arm in a fashion
that directs his remarks to each and all of the listening circle;
but, even though he may find occasion to admonish or reproach, or even
hint at a threat, his speech never transgresses the strictest bounds
of courtesy. Having thus unburdened himself of whatever thoughts
and emotions are evoked by the occasion, he takes from the attendant
Ganymede a bumper cup of spirit and breaks into song. Standing before
his guest and swinging the cup repeatedly almost to his (the guest's)
lips, he exhorts him in complimentary and rhyming phrases to accept his
remarks in a friendly spirit, and reminds him of the age and strength
of their family and tribal relations, referring to their ancestral
glories and the proud position in the world of their common race. At
the end of each sentence all the men of both parties break out into
a loud chorus, repeating the last word or two in deep long-drawn-out
musical cadence. Then, with the last words of his extemporised song,
the chief yields up the cup to the expectant guest, who, having sat
rigidly and with fixed gaze throughout the address, takes it in one
long draught, while the chorus swells to a deep, musical roar. At this
moment the circle of auditors, if much excited, will spring to their
feet and swell the noise by stamping and jumping on the resounding
planks. The house-chief smilingly strokes his guest from the shoulder
downwards and resumes his seat. The chorus and commotion die away,
and are followed by a moment of silence, during which the guest
prepares to make his reply in similar fashion. He rises and begins
by naming and lightly touching or pointing to his host and other of
the principal men present. Then he makes acknowledgment of the kind
and flattering reception accorded him, and his pleasure at finding
this opportunity of improving the understanding between himself and
his hosts. "The views so eloquently expressed by my friend (naming
him and using some complimentary title, E.G. brother or father)
are no doubt correct. Indeed, how could it be otherwise? But I have
been told so and so, and perhaps it may be, ..." and so he goes on
to state his own views, taking care to shift the responsibility for
any remaining dissension on to the shoulders of some distant third
party. He congratulates all parties on this free discussion of matters
of common interest, and with free gesticulation exhorts them to turn
a deaf ear to vague rumours and to maintain friendly relations. Then,
dropping down beside his host, he says "Take no notice of what I have
said, I am drunk." Ganymede again approaches him with a bumper cup, and
then rising to his feet and calling on his men, he addresses his host
in complimentary song and chorus, using the gestures and expressions
peculiar to his own people. The song culminates as before in a general
chorus, long drawn out, while the house-chief drains the cup.

The cups then circulate freely, and the smoking of cigarettes is
general; other shorter speeches may be made, perhaps by the sons or
brothers of the chiefs. As the evening wears away, both guests and
hosts become increasingly boisterous and affectionate; but few or none
on an occasion of this sort become intoxicated or quarrelsome. If a man
becomes a little too boisterous, he is led away to one of the sleeping
platforms in the gallery, and kept there until he falls asleep.

During an evening of this sort the women congregate in the adjacent
rooms, where they can overhear the proceedings; and if they find these
exceptionally interesting, they will congregate about the doors, but
will strictly abstain from interfering with, them in any way. The flow
of speech and song and conversation goes on uninterruptedly, except
when the occasional intrusion into the circle of some irrepressible
dog necessitates its violent expulsion; until, as midnight approaches,
the men drop away from the circle by twos and threes, the circle
being finally broken up when the visiting chief expresses a desire
to sleep. Each guest spreads his own mat on the platform assigned to
the party, and the men of the house retire to their rooms.

We will not conclude this chapter without stating that among the
Kayans, Kenyahs, and most of the Klemantans, alcoholic intoxication is
by no means common. At great feasts, such as are made at the close of
the harvest or on the return of a successful war-party, much BORAK
is drunk, the women joining in, and a few of the men will usually
become quite drunk; but most of them will hardly go further than a
state of boisterous jollity.

Although in a year of good PADI harvest each family constantly renews
its supply of BORAK, yet the spirit is never drunk in private, but
only on festive occasions of the kind described above, or when a man
entertains a small party of friends in his own chamber.

The account given above of the reception and entertainment of guests
would apply with but little modification to the houses of the Kenyahs
and Klemantans. In the Sea Dayak house the reception and entertainment
of guests is less ceremonious, and is carried out by the unorganised
efforts of individuals, rather than by the household as a whole
with the chief at its head. On the arrival of a party of visitors,
the people of each room clamorously invite the guests to sit down
before their chamber. The guests thus become scattered through the
house. First they are offered betel nut and sirih leaf smeared with
lime to chew, for among the Sea Dayaks this chewing takes the place of
the smoking of cigarettes which is common to all the others; and they
are then fed and entertained individually, or by twos and threes, in
various rooms. No pig is killed or rice-spirit offered, though possibly
a toasted bat or bit of salted wild pig will be served as a relish.

At great feasts the Sea Dayaks drink more freely than the other
peoples, except the Muruts. Men and women alike drink deeply, and
many become intoxicated. The men take pride in drinking the largest
possible quantity; and when the stomach is filled, will vomit up
large quantities, and then at once drink more, the women pressing it
upon them. The Dayaks and Muruts alone thus sink in the matter of
drink to the level of those highly cultured Europeans among whom a
similar habit obtains: while among all the other tribes strong drink
is seldom or never abused, but rather is put only to its proper use,
the promotion of good fellowship and social gaiety.


Life on the Rivers

With the exception of the Punans and some of the Muruts who inhabit the
few regions devoid of navigable streams, all the peoples of Borneo make
great use of the rivers. The main rivers and their principal branches
are their great highways, and even the smallest tributary streams are
used for gaining access to their PADI fields. It is only when hunting
or gathering jungle produce that they leave the rivers. Occasionally
PADI is cultivated at a distance of a mile or more from the nearest
navigable stream, and a rough pathway is then made between the field
and the nearest point of the river. Here and there also jungle paths
are made connecting points where neighbouring rivers or their navigable
tributaries approach closely to one another. In the flat country near
the coast, where waterways are less abundant than in the interior,
jungle tracks are more used for communication between villages. Where
a route crosses a jungle swamp, large trees are felled in such a way
that their stems lie as nearly as possible end to end. Their ends
are connected if necessary by laying smaller logs from one to the
other. In this way is formed a rude slippery viaduct on which it is
possible for an agile and bare-footed man to walk in safety across
swamps many miles in extent.

But the jungle paths are only used when it is impossible to reach the
desired point by boat, or if the waterway is very circuitous. On the
lower and deeper reaches of the rivers the paddle is the universal
instrument of propulsion. It is used without any kind of rowlock --
the one hand, grasping the handle a little above the blade, draws
the blade backwards through the water; the other hand, grasping the
T-shaped upper end, thrusts it forward. The lower hand thus serves
as a fulcrum for the other.

A small boat may be propelled by a single rower, who, sitting at the
stern, uses the paddle on one side only, and keeps the boat straight
by turning the paddle as he finishes his stroke. In a boat of medium
size one man seated at the stern devotes himself to steering with his
paddle, although here and there among the coast-people a fixed rudder
is used. In a war boat of the largest size, the two men occupying
the bow-bench and the four men on the two stern-most benches are
responsible for the steering; the former pull the bow over, or lever
it in the opposite direction.

During a day's journey the crew of a boat will from time-to-time
lighten their labour with song, one man singing, the others joining
in the chorus; and if several boats are travelling in company the
crews will from time to time spurt and strive to pass one another in
good-humoured rivalry. At such times each crew may break out into a
deep-pitched and musical roar, the triumphal chorus of a victorious
war party.

In the upper reaches of the rivers there are numerous rapids, and
here and there actual falls. The boat is usually propelled up a rapid
by poling. Each member of the crew has beside him a stout pole some
eight or nine feet long; and when the boat approaches a rapid, the
crew at a shout from the captain, usually the steersman, spring to
their feet, dropping their paddles and seizing their poles. Thrusting
these against the stony bottom in perfect unison, the crew swings the
boat up through the rushing water with a very pleasant motion. If the
current proves too strong and the boat makes no progress, or if the
water is too shallow, three or four men, or, if necessary, the whole
crew, spring into the water and, seizing the boat by the gunwale, drag
it upstream till quieter water is reached. It is necessary for a man
or boy to bale out the water that constantly enters over the gunwale
while the boat makes the passage of a rapid. All through these exciting
operations the captain directs and admonishes his men unremittingly,
hurling at them expressions of a strength that would astonish a crew
on the waters of the Cam or Isis: "Matei tadjin selin" (may you die
the most awful death) is one of the favourite phrases. These provoke
no resentment, but merely stimulate the crew to greater exertions.

Sometimes, when much water is coming down after heavy rains, the
current is so swift in deep places that neither paddling, poling,
nor wading is possible. Then three or four men are landed on the bank,
or on the boughs of the trees, and haul on the boat with long rattans,
scrambling over rocks and through the jungle as best they can.

The passage down stream in the upper reaches of a river is even more
exciting and pleasurable. The crew paddles sufficiently to keep good
steerage way on the boat, as it glides swiftly between the rocks and
shallows; as it shoots over the rapids, the steersman stands up to
choose his path, the water splashes and gurgles and leaps over the
gunwale, and the men break out into song. The smaller waterfalls do
not check its onward rush; as the boat approaches a fall, several
men near the bow stand up to see if there is sufficient water; then,
as they resume their seats, all paddle with might and main until
the boat takes the leap. Occasionally a boat is upset during such
an attempt, and rarely one or two of the crew are lost through being
hurled against rocks and drowned while stunned.

In making a long journey the nights are passed if possible in friendly
villages. When no such village can be reached, the night is passed
either in the boats moored to the bank or on the river-bank. In
the former case the leaf mats, of which each man carries at least
one in his basket, are used to roof the boat; in the latter case a
rude hut is quickly built, a framework of saplings lashed together,
roofed with the mats, and floored at a level of some feet above the
ground with bamboos or slender saplings. On camping in the evening
and before starting in the morning, rice is cooked and eaten; and
about mid-day the journey is interrupted for about an hour while
the party lands on the bank, or, if possible, on a bed of pebbles,
to rest and to cook and eat the midday meal.


Fish are caught in the rivers in several ways, and form an important
part of the diet of most of the peoples. Perhaps the cast net is
most commonly used. This is a net which, when fully extended in
the water, covers a circular patch about six yards in diameter,
while its central part rises in a steep cone, to the peak of which a
strong cord is tied. The main strands run radially from this central
point, increasing in number towards the periphery. They are crossed
by concentric strands. The periphery is weighted with bits of metal
or stone. This net is used both in deep and in shallow water. In the
former case one man steers and paddles a boat, while the other stands
at the prow with the cord of the net wound about the right hand. The
bulk of the net is gathered up on his right arm, the free end is
held in the left hand. Choosing a still pool some two fathoms in
depth, he throws a stone into the water a little ahead of the boat,
in the expectation that the fish will congregate about the spot as
they do when fruit falls from the trees on the banks. Then, as the
boat approaches the spot he deftly flings the net so that it falls
spread out upon the surface; its weighted edge then sinks rapidly
to the bottom, enclosing any fish that may be beneath the net. If
only small fish are enclosed, the net is twisted as it is drawn up,
the fish becoming entangled in its meshes, and in pockets formed about
its lower border. If a large fish is enclosed, the steersman will dive
overboard and seize the lower part of the net so as to secure the fish.

Or the boat is paddled to the foot of a small rapid; the fisherman
springs out and runs to the head of the rapid, and casts his net in
the still water immediately above it where fish frequently congregate.

Or a party takes the same net to the mouth of a small tributary, and,
while some hold the net so as to block the mouth almost completely,
others run through the jungle to a point some hundred yards up the
stream, and then drive down the fish by wading down stream splashing
and shouting. As soon as a number of fish come down against the net
its upper border is thrown down so as to enclose them.

Another net, made quite flat and some fifteen yards long by four feet
wide, is suspended by wooden floats across a small river so that the
fish may become entangled in its meshes.

Another net is used only by the women. In shape it is like a deep
basin; its wide mouth is attached to a stout circle of rattan, and
a wooden bar is tied across the mouth to serve as handle. With this
the women catch the sucker fish in the shallow rapids, one turning
up stones, the other catching in the net the fish that dart from
beneath them.

Yet another mode of netting fish is to suspend a square of net
attached by its corners to the ends of two crossed and downward bending
sticks. The net is suspended by cords from its corners to the end of
a long bamboo, which rests upon a post about its middle. The fisherman
lowers the net into the water by raising the landward end of the bamboo
lever, and when he sees fish swimming above it, attracted by a bait,
he suddenly depresses his end of the bamboo, so as to bring the net
quickly above the surface. On the coast drag nets are used.

The SELAMBO is used in small streams where fish are abundant. A
fence of upright bamboos is built out from either bank, starting at
opposite points and converging down stream to two points near the
middle of the stream and about seven feet apart; where each terminates
a stout pole is driven firmly into the bed of the river. These two
poles are connected by a stout cross-piece lashed to them a little
above the level of the water. The cross-piece forms a fulcrum for a
pair of long poles joined together with cross-pieces, in such a way
that their downstream ends almost meet, while up stream they diverge
widely. They rest upon the fulcrum at a point about one-third of their
length from their downstream ends. Between the widely divergent parts
up stream from the fulcrum a net is loosely stretched. The net lies
submerged until fish coming down stream are directed on to the net by
the convergent fences. The fisherman stands on a rude platform grasping
the handle-end, and, feeling the contacts of the fishes with the net,
throws his weight upon the handle, so bringing the net quickly above
the surface. Beside him he has a large cage of bamboo standing in the
water, into which the fish are allowed to slide from the elevated net.

A rod and line and baited hook are also in common use. The Kayans
make a hook of stout brass wire, cutting a single barb. The Kenyahs
use a hook made of rattan thorns. A strip is cut from the surface of
a rattan bearing two thorns about an inch apart; this is bent at its
middle so that the cut surfaces of the two halves are brought into
opposition, and the thorns, facing outward opposite one another,
form the barbs. The line is tied to the bend, and the bait is placed
over the tip projecting beyond the thorns. When the fish takes the
hook into his mouth and swallows the bait, the barbs being released
spring outward and secure the fish.

A rough kind of spoon bait is also used with rod and line.

Fish are taken also in traps. The most generally used is the BUBU. This
varies in length from eighteen inches to eight feet or even more. The
body of the trap is a conical cage of bamboo. From the wide mouth of
the cone a second smaller flatter cone passes upwards within the outer
one; the slender bamboo strips of which it is made come almost together
in the centre, their inner ends being free and pliable. This is fixed
beside the bank, its mouth turned down stream, and a few stakes are
driven into the bed of the river to guide the fish into the mouth;
or it may be laid in shallow water, two barriers of stones converging
to its mouth. The fish working up stream pass in at the mouth, and,
when they have passed the inner lips, cannot easily pass out again.

A still simpler trap consists merely of a long slender cone of bamboo
strips. The fish entering the mouth and passing up to the confined
space of the other end become wedged fast in it.

A Sea Dayak trap found in the south-west of Borneo is a cylindrical
cage of bamboo attached to a pole driven vertically into the bed of the
river. (Fig. 21). At one side of the cage is a circular aperture. Into
this fits a section of bamboo, the end of which within the cage is cut
into longitudinal strips that are made to converge, forming a cone,
through the apex of which the fish can push his way into the cage,
but which prevents his return. It is an application of the same valve
principle as that used in the trap first described above.

A larger trap is the KILONG, which is used in the lower reaches of the
rivers and also on the coast. It consists of a fence of stakes running
out from the bank or shore into water some two fathoms in depth. The
free end of the fence is wound in a spiral of about two turns. One
or two gates are made between the outer and the inner chambers of
the spiral on the side nearest to the bank or shore, and are left
open when the trap is set. The fish, finding themselves confined by
the fence, make for deeper water, and, entering the central chamber,
do not readily return. The fisherman then closes the gate and takes
out the fish with a landing net.

A prawn trap consists of a cylinder of heavy bark. One end is closed
with a conical valve of bamboo strips like that of the two traps
described above; the other flattened end is hinged to open for the
extraction of the catch. The trap is baited with decaying cocoanut and
thrown into the river with a long rattan attached to it and tied to
a pole; the trap sinks to the bottom and is examined from time to time.

Tuba Fishing

Fish are caught on the largest scale by poisoning the water with
the juice of the root of the tuba plant. This is usually practised
in the smaller rivers at times of slack water, all the people of a
village co-operating. The TUBA plant is cultivated in patches on the
PADI fields. Pieces of the roots are cut off without destroying the
plants. When a large quantity has been gathered, a fence is built
across the river at the spot chosen, and big BUBU traps are let into
it facing up stream. Then all the available small boats are manned
and brought into the reaches of the river extending about a mile above
the fence. Each boat carries a supply of tuba root, which the people
bruise by pounding it with wooden clubs against stumps and rocks
on the bank or against the side of the boat. Water is thrown into
the bottom of the boat and the pounded root is rinsed in the water,
pounded again, and again rinsed, until all its poisonous juice is
extracted. The water in all the boats, become milky with the juice,
is poured at a given signal into the river, either by baling or by
overturning the boats. After some twenty minutes the fish begin to
rise to the surface and rush wildly to and fro. In the meantime the
boats have been put to rights, and now begin to pursue the fish,
the men armed with fish-spears, the women with landing-nets. The
sport goes on for several hours. Some men armed with clubs stand
upon a platform which slopes up at a low angle out of the water and
rests upon the fence. Big fish come leaping upon this platform and
are clubbed by the men, who have to exert their agility to avoid
the spikes with which some of the fish are armed. Large quantities
of fish are sometimes taken in this way; what cannot be eaten fresh
are dried and smoked over the fires in the house.

While the TUBA fishing is being arranged and the preparations are
going forward, great care is taken to avoid mentioning the word TUBA,
and all references to the fish are made in oblique phrases, such as
"The leaves (I.E. the fishes) can't float over this fence." This
precaution is observed because it is believed that the birds and the
bats can understand human speech, and may, if they overhear remarks
about the preparations, give warning to their friends the fish, whose
magician[51] (a bony fish called BELIRA), will then make rain, and, by
thus swelling the river, prevent the successful poisoning of the water.

Tickling is also practised with success, the men standing in the
edge of a lake among the grass and sedges, where the fish seek cooler
water in the heat of the day.

All the methods of taking fish described above are practised by most
of the peoples, except of course the use of the drag-net in the sea.

The crocodiles, which are numerous in the lower reaches of the rivers,
are not hunted or attacked, save on provocation, by any of the peoples
of Borneo except the Malays.[52] Occasionally a bather is seized
by one of them while in the water or standing on a log floating in
deep water; and more rarely a person is dragged out of a small boat,
while drifting quietly on deep water at evening. If men and boats
are at hand they turn out promptly to attack the crocodile, if it
rises to the surface; but there is small chance of rescue. If the
victim has sufficient presence of mind and strength to thrust his
thumbs against the eyes of the reptile it may release him, escape
in this way is not unknown. In the case of a fatal issue, the men of
the village turn out to avenge the outrage, and, in the case of the
seizure of an important person, those of neighbouring villages will
join them. All available boats are manned by men armed with spears,
some of which are lashed to the ends of long poles. Congregating in
their boats near the scene of the disaster, the men prod the bed of the
river with their spears, working systematically up and down river and
up the small side streams. In this way they succeed in stabbing some
of the reptiles; and in this case, though they usually do not rise to
the surface, their bodies are found after some days in the creeks,
death having ensued from the inflammation set up in the wounds. The
wound caused by a spear-thrust would seldom be fatal to the crocodile,
but that the wound is liable to the perpetual assaults of smaller
creatures -- fish while he is in the water, flies when he lies on
the bank. These irritate and extend the wound. The stomachs of those
crocodiles that are captured are opened in search of traces of the
person taken, traces which usually remain there for some time in the
shape of hair or ornaments. If no trace is found the people's vengeance
is not satisfied, and they set baited hooks, or pay Malays to do so,
partly because the Malays are experts and claim to have potent charms
to bring the offender to the hook, partly because a Kayan does not
care to take upon himself the individual responsibility of catching
a crocodile, though he does not shrink
from the collective pursuit. The decaying body of a fowl, monkey, or
other animal (Malays sometimes use a living dog) is bound to a strong
bar of hard-wood, sharpened at both ends and some fifteen inches in
length. A number of small rattans are tied to the bar about its middle,
their other ends being made fast to a log. This arrangement is allowed
to float down river; if it does not float freely, the crocodile will
not take the bait. When a crocodile rises to the bait and swallows
it, the bar gets fixed cross-wise in his gullet as he pulls on the
rattans. The hunters, having kept the log in sight, then attach the
ends of the rattans to the boat, tow the reptile to the bank, and
haul him up on dry land. They secure his tail and feet with nooses,
which they lash to a pole laid along his back, and lash his jaws
together. Throughout these operations the crocodile is addressed
deferentially as LAKI (grandfather). He is then left exposed to
the sun, when he soon dies; in this way the people avoid the risks
attaching to slaying the crocodile with their own hands.


Life in the Jungle

All the peoples of Borneo support themselves in part by hunting and
trapping the wild creatures of the jungle, but for the Punans alone
is the chase the principal source of food-supply; the various natural
products of the jungle are, with the exception of cultivated sago in
some few regions, their only marketable commodities.


The wild pig (SUS BARBATUS[53]) is the principal object of the chase,
but deer of several species are also hunted and trapped. The largest
of these (CERVUS EQUINUS) is rather bigger than the English fallow
deer; the smallest is plandok, or mouse deer (TRAGULUS NAPU and
T. JAVANICUS), standing only about eight inches at the shoulder;
intermediate in size is the muntjac (CERVULUS MUNTJAC). There are
also small herds of wild cattle (BOS SONDAICUS), a small rhinoceros
(R. SUMATRANUS), large lizards (VARANUS), various apes and monkeys,
and a large porcupine (HESTRIX CRASSISPINUS), and several small
mammals, such as otters (LUTRA), bear-cats (ARCTICTIS), and civet
cats (PARADOAURUS) of various species, all of which are hunted for
their flesh, as well as several birds. The tiger-cat (FELIS NEBULOSA)
and the bear (URSUS MALAYANUS) are hunted for their skins and teeth,
and the dried gall-bladder of the bear is sold for medicine.

The pig and deer are most commonly hunted on foot by a party of
several men with a pack of four or five dogs. The dogs, having found
the trail, chase the pig until he turns on them. The dogs then surround
the pig, barking and yelping, and keep it at bay till the men run up
and despatch it with their spears. Both men and dogs sometimes get
severely bitten and torn by the tusks. During the fruit season the pigs
migrate in large herds and cross the rivers at certain places well
known to the hunters. The people lie in wait for them in little huts
built on the banks, and kill them from their boats as they swim across.

Kenyahs and Klemantans sometimes catch deer by driving them into a
JARING. This consists of a strong rope of plaited rattans stretched in
a straight line across the jungle, from tree to tree, some five feet
above the ground. It is generally laid so as to complete the enclosure
of an area that is almost surrounded by the river. Dependent from the
whole length of the rattan rope is a series of running nooses also
of rattan, each of which, overlapping its neighbours on both sides,
forms a loop about two feet in diameter. Men armed with spears are
stationed along the JARING, at short intervals, and the rest of the
party with the dogs beat the jungle driving any deer in the enclosed
space headlong towards the JARING. Some of the deer may escape, but
some will usually run their heads into the nooses and fall victims to
the spears of the watchers. Both pig and deer are sometimes brought
down with the blow-pipe, especially by the Punans, whose favourite
weapon it is.

The wild cattle are very wary and dangerous to attack. They sometimes
take to the water and are then easily secured. Punans, who hunt
without dogs (which in fact they do not possess) will lie in wait
for the rhinoceros beside the track by which he comes to his daily
mud-bath, and drive a spear into his flank or shoulder; then, after
hastily retiring, they track him through the jungle, until they come
upon him again, and find an opportunity of driving in another spear
or a poisoned dart through some weak spot of his armour.

Birds and monkeys are chiefly killed with the blow-pipe.


Traps of many varieties are made. For pig and deer a trap is laid at a
gap in the fence about the PADI field. It consists of a bamboo spear
of which the end is sharpened and hardened in the fire. This is laid
horizontally about two feet from the ground, resting on guides. Its
butt end is lashed to one end of a springy green pole at right angles
to its length; the pole is laid horizontally, one end of it being
firmly fixed to a tree, and the other (that carrying the spear) bent
forcibly backwards and held back by a loop of rattan. This spring is
set by means of an ingenious trigger, in such a way that an animal
passing through the gap must push against a string attached to the
trigger, and so release the spring, which then drives the bamboo
spear across the gap with great force. (The drawing (Fig. 22) Will
make clear the nature of the trigger.)

In one variety of this trap the spring is set vertically. The trap is
varied in other ways. A curious practice of the Ibans on setting such
a trap is to measure the appropriate height of the spear by means of
a rod surmounted with a carving of a human figure (Fig. 23).

Of many ingenious traps for small animals the JERAT is the most widely
used (see Fig. 24 and Pl. 85). A rude fence some hundreds of yards,
in some cases as much as a mile, in length, is made by filling up with
sticks and brushwood the spaces between the trees and undergrowth of
the jungle. At intervals of ten or twenty yards narrow gaps are left,
and in each of these a JERAT is set to catch the small creatures that,
in wandering through the jungle and finding their course obstructed
by the fence, seek to pass through the gaps. The gap is floored with
a small platform of light sticks, six to eight inches long, laid
across it parallel to one another in the line of the fence. The ends
of these are supported at one side of the gap, about two inches above
the ground, by a cross-stick lying at right angles to them. This stick
in turn is supported about one inch above the ground in the following
way: the two ends of a green stick are thrust firmly into the ground
forming an arch over the end of the platform, and the extremities
of the cross-stick are in contact with the pillars of the arch, and
kept a little above the ground by being pulled against them by the
spring trigger. This consists of a short stick attached by a cord
to a strong springy pole thrust vertically into the ground. To set
the trigger it is pulled down, bending the pole, and passed under the
arch from the platform side outwards; the upper end of the trigger is
then kept by the pull of the cord against the curve of the arch, and
its lower end is pulled against the middle of the cross-stick. The
pressure being maintained by the tension of the cord, this end of
the platform is supported by the friction between the trigger and the
cross-stick. The cord is prolonged beyond the trigger in a slip noose
which lies open on the platform completely across the gap, so that
any small animal entering the gap, and stepping upon the platform,
necessarily places its feet within the goose. A few leaves are laid
on the platform and cord to disguise them. When, then, a pheasant or
other creature of appropriate size and weight steps on the platform,
its weight causes the cross-stick to slip down from the hold of the
trigger, and this, being released, is violently jerked with the noose
into the air by the elastic reaction of the bent pole; in a large
proportion of cases the noose catches the victim's feet and jerks
him into the air, where he dangles by the feet till the arrival of
the trapper, who visits his traps twice a day.

Another very curious and strikingly simple plan is employed by the Sea
Dayaks for catching the Argus pheasant, whose beautiful wing feathers
are highly valued. The cock-birds congregate at certain spots in the
jungle, where they display their feathers and fight together. These
spots they clear of all obstacles, pulling and pushing away sticks and
leaves with their heads and necks, as well as scratching with their
feet. The Dayaks, taking advantage of this habit, thrust vertically
into the ground slips of bamboo, the edges of which are hardened in
the fire and rendered very sharp. In the course of their efforts
to remove these obstructions, the birds not infrequently inflict
serious wounds about their necks, and weakened by loss of blood,
are found by the Dayaks at no great distance from the fighting ground.

Traps of many other kinds are made for animals both large and small,
especially by the. Sea Dayaks, who use traps more frequently than
the other peoples. Our few descriptions will serve to illustrate
the ingenuity displayed, the complexity of the mechanical
principles involved in some of them, and the extreme simplicity of
others. Previous writers have described many of these in detail,
and we content ourselves with referring the curious reader to their

The Klemantans and some of the Kenyahs catch a small ground pigeon
(CHALCOPHAPS INDICA) in large numbers by the aid of a pipe or whistle,
by blowing softly on which the cooing notes of the bird are closely
imitated. The instrument consists of a piece of large bamboo closed at
one end and having a small hole about its middle (Fig. 25). The hunter,
concealed behind a screen of leafy branches, blows across this hole
through a long slender tube of bamboo; and when a bird approaches the
whistle, he slips over its head a fine noose attached to the end of
a light bamboo and, drawing it behind the screen, puts it alive into
a cage.

Small parrots are sometimes caught with bird-lime, made with the
juice of a rubber-tree.

The Gathering of Jungle Produce

The principal natural products gathered by the people in addition
to the edible fruits are, gutta-percha, rubber, camphor, various
rattans, beeswax and honey, vegetable tallow, wild sago, damar-resin
from various trees, and the edible birds' nests.

Small parties of men and boys go out into the jungle in search of
these things, sometimes travelling many days up river before striking
into the jungle; for it is only in the drier upland forests that such
expeditions can be undertaken with advantage. The party may remain
several weeks or months from home. They carry with them a supply of
rice, salt, and tobacco, cooking-pots and matches, a change of raiment,
spears, swords, shields, blowpipes, and perhaps two or three dogs. On
striking into the jungle, they drag their boat on to the bank and
leave it hidden in thick undergrowth. While in the jungle they camp
in rude shelters roofed with their leaf mats and with palm leaves,
moving camp from time to time. They vary their labours and supplement
their food-supply by hunting and trapping. Such an expedition is
generally regarded as highly enjoyable as well as profitable. As
in camping-parties in other parts of the world, the cooking is
generally regarded as a nuisance to be shirked if possible. The Sea
Dayaks indulge in these expeditions more frequently than others,
and such parties of them may often be found at great distances
from their homes. In the course of such long excursions they not
infrequently penetrate into the regions inhabited by other tribes,
and many troubles have had their origin in the truculent behaviour of
such parties. Such parties of Sea Dayaks have been known to accept
the hospitality of unsuspecting and inoffensive Klemantans, and to
outrage every law of decency by taking the heads of old men, women,
and children during the absence of their natural defenders.

Valuable varieties of gutta-percha are obtained from trees of more
than a score of species. The best is known as Kayan gutta, because it
is gathered and sent to the bazaars by the Kayans in a pure form. The
trees are felled and the stem and branches are ringed at intervals
of about eighteen inches, a narrow strip of bark being removed at
each ring. The milky viscid sap drips out into leaf-cups, which are
then emptied into a cylindrical vessel of bark. Water is then boiled
in a large pan beside the tree, a little common salt is added to the
water, and the gutta is poured into the boiling water, when it rapidly
congeals. Then, while still in a semiviscid state, it is kneaded with
the feet and pressed into a shallow wooden frame, which in turn is
compressed between two planks. In this way it is moulded into a slab
about one and a half inches thick, about a foot long, and about six
inches across at one end, two inches across at the other. While it is
still warm a hole is pierced through the narrower end; and the slab
is then thrown into cold water, where it sets hard. In this form it
reaches the market at Singapore, where it is valued at about five
hundred dollars ([pound sterling]50) the hundredweight.

Gutta of an inferior quality is obtained in large quantities by
tapping a large tree (JELUTONG) which grows abundantly in the
low-lying jungles.

The best rubber, known as PULUT by the Kayans, is obtained by them from
a creeper, the stem of which grows to a length of fifty to a hundred
feet and a diameter of six inches or more. It bears a brilliant red
luscious fruit which is eaten by the people; its seeds being swallowed
become distributed in this way. The Punans carefully sow the seed
they have swallowed, and transplant the young seedlings to the most
suitable positions. The milky juice of the creeper is gathered and
treated in much the same way as the gutta. It is rolled up while
hot into spherical lumps, each of which is pierced with a hole for
convenient transportation.

Camphor is formed in the crevices of the sterns of old trees of the
species DRYOBALANOPS AROMATICA, when the heart is decayed leaving
a central hollow. The tree is cut down, the stem split up, and the
crystalline scales of pure camphor are shaken out on to mats. It
is then made up in little bundles wrapped in palm leaves. The
large-flaked camphor fetches as much as [pound sterling]6 a pound
in the Chinese bazaar. Special precautions are observed by men in
search of camphor. A party of Kayans, setting out to seek camphor,
commonly gets the help of Punans, who are acknowledged experts in this
business. Omens are taken before setting out, and the party will not
start until favourable omens have been observed. The party is LALI
from the time of beginning these operations. They will speak to no one
outside the party, and will speak no word of Malay to one another;
and it is considered that they are more likely to be successful if
they confine themselves to the use of a peculiar language which seems
to be a conventional perversion of the Punan speech.

On entering a small river the party stretches a rattan across its
mouth; and, where they leave the river, they erect on the bank a
pole or frayed stick.[55] Other persons seeing such sticks set up
will understand and respect the party's desire for privacy. They then
march through the jungle to the place where they expect to find a group
of camphor trees, marking their path by bending the ends of twigs at
certain intervals in the direction in which the party is moving. Having
found a likely tree they cut into the stem with a small long-bladed
axe, making a deep small hole. An expert, generally a Punan, then
smells the hole and gives an opinion as to the chances of finding
camphor within it. If he gives a favourable opinion, the tree is cut
down and broken in pieces as described above. On cutting down the tree,
an oil which smells strongly of camphor sometimes pours out and is
collected. The party remains LALI until the collection of the camphor
is completed; no stranger may enter their hut or speak with them. The
practice of collecting camphor in this way is probably a very ancient
one,[56] whereas the collection of gutta and rubber has been undertaken
only in recent years in response to the demands of the European market.

Many varieties of the rattan palm grow luxuriantly in the forests of
Borneo, some attaining a length of 150 to 200 feet. It is a creeper
which makes its way towards the light, suspending itself to branches
and twigs by means of the curved spines which prolong the midribs of
the leaves. The cane is collected by cutting through the stem near its
root, and hauling on it, several men combining their t'efforts. The
piece cut down is dragged through the jungle to the river-bank. There
it is cut into lengths of fifteen feet, I.E. two and a half spans, and
dried in the sun. If the sap is thoroughly dried out, the cane assumes
a permanent yellow colour; but if any is left, the cane darkens when
soaked in water. When a large number of bundles has been collected,
they are bound together to form a raft. On this a hut is erected,
and two or three men will navigate the raft down river to the Chinese
bazaar, which is to be found in the lower part of every large river.

The small yellow fruit of the rattan is gathered in large quantities
and subjected to prolonged boiling. The fluid becomes of a bright
crimson colour; this, boiled down till it has the consistency of
beeswax, is known as dragon's blood, and is used by the people as a
colouring matter and also exported for the same purpose.

Honey and beeswax are found in nests which are suspended by the
wild bee from high branches of the MINGRIS (COOMPASSIA) and TAPANG
(ARBOURIA) trees, sometimes many nests on one tree. To reach the nest
the men climb the tree by the aid of a ladder somewhat in the fashion
of a steeple-jack. A large number of sharpened pegs of ironwood are
driven into the softer outer layers of the stem in a vertical row
about two feet apart, and bamboos are lashed in a single vertical row
to the pegs and to one another and to the lower branches. The ladder
is built up until at some sixty or eighty feet from the ground it
reaches a branch bearing a nest. The taking of the nests is usually
accomplished after nightfall. A man ascends the ladder carrying in
one hand a burning torch of bark, which gives off a pungent smoke,
and on his back a large hollow cone of bark. Straddling out along
the bough, he hangs his cone of bark beneath the nest, smokes out
the bees, and cuts away the nest from the bough with his sword,
so that it falls into the cone of bark. Then, choosing a piece of
comb containing grubs, he munches it with gusto, describing from his
position of advantage to his envious friends the delicious quality of
the grubs. After thus gathering two or three nests he lets down the
cone with a cord to his eagerly expectant comrades, who then feast
upon the remaining grubs and squeeze out the honey into jars. The
tree having been cleared of nests in this way, the wax is melted in
an iron pot and moulded in balls. The honey is eaten in the houses;
the wax is sold to the Chinese traders at about a shilling a pound.

Vegetable tallow is procured from the seeds of the ENGKABONG tree
(SHOREA). The seeds are crushed and the tallow melted out and gathered
in bamboos. It is used as a food, generally smeared on hot rice. It
is sometimes a principal feature of the Punan's diet for considerable

Wild sago is abundant and is much used by Punans, and occasionally
by most of the other peoples when their supply of PADI is short. The
sago tree is cut down and its stem is split into several pieces with
wedges. The pith is knocked out with a bamboo mallet. The sago is
prepared from the pith by the women, who stamp it on coarse mats,
pouring water upon it. The fine grains of sago are carried through on
to a trough below. It is then washed and boiled in water, when it forms
a viscid mass; this is eaten with a spoon or with a strip of bamboo
bent double, the two ends of which are turned round in the sago and
withdrawn with a sticky mass adherent; this is plunged in the gravy OF
pork and carried to the mouth. It is generally considered a delicacy.

Many varieties of the forest trees exude resins, which are collected
and used for torches and for repairing boats, as well as brought to
the bazaars, where the best kinds fetch very good prices. Sometimes
the resin is found in large masses on the ground where it has dripped
from the trees.

A curious and valuable natural product is the bezoar stone. These
stones are found in the gall-bladder and intestines of the
long-tailed monkey SEMNOPITHECUS (most frequently of S. HOSEI and
S. RUBICUNDUS). They are formed of concentric layers of a hard,
brittle, olive-green substance, very bitter to the taste. A soft brown
variety is found in the porcupine. Both kinds are highly valued by
the Chinese as medicine. The monkeys and porcupines are hunted for
the sake of these stones. A similar substance, also highly valued as
a medicine by the Chinese, is sometimes found as an accretion formed
about the end of a dart which has been broken off in the flesh of
S. HOSEI and has remained there for some long period.

The most important of the natural products gathered by the people
are the edible nests of three species of swift: COLLOCALIA FUCIPHAGA,
whose nest is white; C. LOWII, whose nest is blackish; and C. LINCHII,
whose nest contains straw and moss as well as gelatine. All three
kinds are collected, but those of the first kind are much more valuable
than the others. The nest, which is shaped like that of our swallow,
consists wholly of a tough, gelatinous, translucent substance, which
exudes from the bill of the bird as it builds. We do not understand
the physiology of this process. The people generally believe that
the substance of the nest is dried seafoam which the birds bring from
the sea on returning from their annual migration.

The nests are built always on the roofs and walls of large caves:
the white nests in low-roofed caves, generally in sandstone rock; the
black in the immense lofty caves formed in the limestone rocks. The
latter are reached by means of tall scaffoldings of strong poles
of bamboo, often more than a hundred feet in height. The nests are
swept from the rock with a pole terminating in a small iron spatula,
and carrying near the extremity a wax candle; falling to the ground,
which is floored with guano several feet thick, they are gathered
up in baskets. The white nests are gathered three times in the year
at intervals of about a month, the black nests usually only twice;
as many as three tons of black nests are sometimes taken from one
big cave in the course of the annual gathering. Each cave, or, in
the case of large caves, each natural subdivision of it, is claimed
as the property of some individual, who holds it during his lifetime
and transmits it to his heirs. During the gathering of the nests of
a large cave, the people live in roofless huts built inside it. The
nests are sold to Chinese traders -- the black nests for about a
hundred dollars a hundredweight, and the white nests for as much as
thirty or forty shillings per pound.



The Kayans are perhaps less aggressive than any other of the interior
peoples with the exception of the Punans. Nevertheless prowess in
war has made them respected or feared by all the peoples; and during
the last century they established themselves in the middle parts of
the basins of all the great rivers, driving out many of the Klemantan
communities, partly by actual warfare, partly by the equally effective
method of appropriating to their own use the tracts of jungle most
suitable for the cultivation of PADI.

The fighting quality of the individual Kayan, the loyalty and obedience
of each household to its chief, the custom of congregating several long
houses to form a populous village upon some spot carefully chosen for
its tactical advantages (generally a peninsula formed by a deep bend
of the river), and the strong cohesion between the Kayans of different
and even widely separated villages, -- all these factors combine to
render the Kayans comparatively secure and their villages immune from
attack. But though a Kayan village is seldom attacked, and though
the Kayans do not wantonly engage in bloodshed, yet they will always
stoutly assert their rights, and will not allow any injury done to any
member of the tribe to go unavenged. The avenging of injuries and the
necessity of possessing heads for use in the funeral rites are for them
the principal grounds of warfare; and these are generally combined,
the avenging of injuries being generally postponed, sometimes for
many years, until the need for new heads arises. Though an old dried
head will serve all the purposes of the rites performed to terminate a
period of mourning, yet it is felt that a fresh head (or heads) is more
desirable, especially in the case of mourning for an important chief.

When an old head is used in these rites, it is customary to borrow
it from another house or village, and it is brought to the house by
a party of warriors in the full panoply of war, who behave both on
setting out and returning as though actually on the war-path.

It may be said generally that Kayans seldom or never wage war on
Kayans, and seldom attack others merely to secure heads or in sheer
vainglory, as the Ibans not infrequently do. Nor do they attack others
merely in order to sustain their prestige, as is sometimes done by
the Kenyahs, who in this respect carry to an extreme the principle
that attack is the most effective mode of defence.

War is generally undertaken by the Kayans very deliberately, after much
preparation and in large well-organised parties, ranging in numbers
from fifty to a thousand or more warriors, made up in many cases from
several neighbouring villages, and under the supreme command of one
chief of acknowledged eminence.

The weapons and war-dress are similar among all the peoples. The
principal weapon is the sword known as PARANG ILANG, or MALAT, a heavy
blade (Pl. 91) of steel mounted in a handle of horn or hardwood. The
blade, about twenty-two inches in length, has the cutting edge slightly
bowed and the blunt back edge slightly hollowed. The edges diverge
slightly from the handle up to a point about five inches from the tip,
where the blade attains its maximum width of nearly two inches. At this
point the back edge bends sharply forward to meet the cutting edge at
the tip. A very peculiar feature of the blade is that it is slightly
hollowed on the inner surface (I.E. the thumb side or left side in the
case of the PARANG, of a right-handed man, the right side in case of
one made for a left-handed man), and is convex in transverse section
to a corresponding degree on the other surface. This peculiar shape
of the blade is said to render the PARANG, more efficient in sinking
into or through either limbs or wood, and is more easily withdrawn
after a successful blow. This weapon is carried in a wooden sheath
suspended by a plaited waist-strap, and is the constant companion
of every man; for it is used not only in warfare, but also for a
variety of purposes, such as the hewing down of jungle undergrowth,
cutting rattans and bamboos, the rough shaping of wooden implements.

The weapon second in importance is the spear (Pl. 92). It consists of
a flat steel blade, about one foot in length, of which the widest part
(between one and two inches) is about four inches from the tip. The
tip and lateral edges of the blade are sharp, and its haft is lashed
with strips of rattan to the end of a wooden shaft. The extremity
of the haft is bent outwards from the shaft, to prevent its being
dragged off from the latter. The shaft is of tough wood and about
seven feet in length; its butt end is usually shod with iron. The
spear is used not only for thrusting, but also as a javelin and as a
parrying stick for warding off the spears hurled by the foe. It is
always carried in the boat when travelling on the river, or in the
hand during excursions in the jungle.

The blow-pipe, which projects a poisoned dart, is used by many of
the Kayans in hunting, but is hardly regarded as a weapon for serious
use in warfare.

Beside the principal spear, two or three short spears or javelins,
sometimes merely pointed bars of hardwood, are usually carried in
the left hand when an attack is being made.

Beside the sword and the spears the only weapons commonly used are
heavy bars of ironwood, sharpened at both ends and flung so as to
twirl rapidly in the air. They are chiefly used in defending houses
from attack, a store of them being kept in the house. For the defence
of a house against an expected attack, short sharp stakes of split
bamboo are thrust slantingly into the ground, so as to present the
fire-hardened tip towards the feet of the oncoming foe.

The interior peoples have long possessed a certain number of
European-made muskets (mostly flint-locks) and small Bruni-made brass
cannon, obtained from the Malay and Chinese traders. The latter were
chiefly valued for the defence of the house, but were sometimes mounted
in the bows of the war-boats. The difficulty of obtaining supplies of
gunpowder has always restricted greatly the use of firearms, and in
recent years the European governments have strictly limited the sale
of gunpowder and firearms; and even at the present day any war-party
commissioned by one of the governments to execute any police measure,
such as apprehending, or burning the house of, people who have wantonly
killed others, has to rely in the main on its native weapons.

The equipment of the fighting-man consists, in addition to his weapons,
of a war-cap and war-coat and shield (Pl. 93 and Fig. 26). The former
is a round closely-fitting cap woven of stout rattans split in halves
longitudinally. It affords good protection to the skull against the
stroke of the sword. It is adorned with two of the long black-and-white
barred feathers of the hornbill's tail in the case of, any man who
has earned this distinction by taking part in successful expeditions.

The war-coat is made of the skin of the goat, the bear, or (in case
of distinguished chiefs) of the tiger-cat. The whole of the skin in
one piece is used, except that the skin of the belly and of the lower
parts of the forelimbs are cut away. A hole for the warrior's head is
made in the mid-dorsal line a little behind the skin of the head, which
is flattened out and hangs over the chest, descending to the level of
the navel; while the skin of the back, flanks, and hind limbs in one
large flap, covers the back and hind parts of the warrior as far as
the bend of the knees. A large pearly shell usually adorns the lower
end of the anterior flap. The warrior's arms are thus left free, but
unprotected. In the finest coats there is a patch of brightly coloured
beadwork at the nape of the neck, and the back-flap is adorned with
rows of loosely dangling hornbills' feathers; but these again are
considered appropriate only to the coats of warriors of proved valour.

The Kayan shield is an oblong plate cut from a single piece of soft
wood. Its ends are pointed more or less acutely; the length between
the points is about four feet. The inner surface forms a flat hollow;
the outer is formed by two flat surfaces meeting in a flat obtuse
angle or ridge extending from point to point. The grain of the wood
runs longitudinally, and a downward falling PARANG is liable to split
the wood and become wedged fast in it. In order to prevent the shield
becoming divided in this way, and to hold fast the blade of the sword,
it is bound across with several stout strips of rattan which are laced
closely to the wood with finer strips. The handle, carved out of the
same solid block of wood as the body of the shield, is in the middle of
the concave surface; it is a simple vertical bar for the grasp of the
left hand. The Kayan shield is commonly stained red with iron oxide,
and touched up with black pigment, but not otherwise decorated.

Wooden shields of this kind are used by almost all the tribes, but
some of them decorate their shields elaborately. The two surfaces
of almost all Kenyah shields (Fig. 27) are covered with elaborate
designs picked out in colours, chiefly red and black. The designs
are sketched out on the wood with the point of a knife, and the
pigment is applied with the finger and a chisel-edged stick. The
principal feature of the designs on the outer surface is in all
cases a large conventionalised outline of a face with large eyes,
indicated by concentric circles in red and black, and a double row
of teeth with two pairs of canines projecting like huge tusks. This
face seems to be human, for, although in some shields there is nothing
to indicate this interpretation, in others the large face surmounts
the highly conventionalised outline of a diminutive human body, the
limbs of which are distorted and woven into a more or less intricate
design. Each extremity of the outer surface is covered by a similarly
conventionalised face-pattern on a smaller scale. On the inner side
each longitudinal half is covered with an elaborate scroll-pattern,
generally symmetrical in the two halves; the centre of this pattern
is generally a human figure more or less easily recognisable; the
two halves sometimes bear male and female figures respectively.

The shields most prized by the Kenyahs are further decorated with
tufts of human hair taken from the heads of slain enemies. It is put
on in many rows which roughly frame the large face with locks three
or four inches in length on scalp, cheeks, chin, and upper lip; and
the smaller faces at the ends are similarly surrounded with shorter
hair. The hair is attached by forcing the ends of the tufts into
narrow slits in the soft wood and securing it with fresh resin.

The Klemantan shields are, in the main, variations on the Kenyah
patterns. The Murut shields closely resemble those of the Kayans,
though the Dusuns, who have the domesticated buffalo, use a shield of
buffalo-hide attached to the forearm by a strap -- a feature unknown
in all the other types, which are borne by the handle only. The Sea
Dayaks nowadays make a greater variety of shields, copying those of
the other tribes with variations of their own. The shield originally
used by them before coming into contact with many other tribes,
but now discarded, was made of strips of bamboo plaited together and
stiffened with a longitudinal strip of wood (Fig. 28). It was of two
shapes, both oblong, one with rounded, the other with pointed ends.

The Land Dayaks still use a shield of tough bark (Fig. 29), and it is
not improbable that these were used by other tribes at no distant date.

Every Kayan household possesses, beside the many smaller boats, one or
more boats especially designed for use in war. A typical war-boat is
about 100 feet in length, from six to seven feet wide in its middle
part, and tapers to a width of about three and a half feet at bow
and stern. In some cases the length of the war-boat, which is always
made from a single log, is as much as 145 feet in length (Pl. 96),
but so large a boat is unwieldy in use, and its construction costs an
excessive amount of labour. The ordinary war-boat carries from sixty
to seventy men seated two abreast on the cross-benches. It is steered
by the paddles of the two bow-men and the four next the stern. One
of these war-boats, manned by sixty or seventy paddlers, can maintain
a pace about equal to that of our University racing eights.[57]

War is only undertaken after formal consultation and many discussions
between the chief or chiefs and all the leading men. If the village
primarily concerned does not feel itself strong enough to achieve its
ends, it will seek the help of some neighbouring village, usually,
but not always one of its own tribe. The discussion may be renewed
day after day for some little time, before the decision to fight is
taken and the time for the expedition is fixed.

The next step is to seek favourable omens, and two men are told off for
this work. They repair to some spot in the jungle, or more commonly
on the bank of the river, where they build a small hut; they adorn
it by fraying the poles of its framework, and so secure themselves
against interruptions by passing acquaintances. The sight or sound
of certain birds and beasts is favourable, of others unfavourable;
but the favourable creatures must be observed in a certain order,
if the omens are to be entirely satisfactory. If very bad omens are
observed, the men return home to report the fact, and will make another
attempt after a few days. If the omens are of mixed character, they
will persist for some time, hoping to get a sufficient number of good
omens to counteract or nullify the bad. When seeking for their place
of observation, their choice is determined by seeing a spider-hunter
(ARACHNOTHERA) flying across the river, chirping as it flies. When this
is seen they stop the boat, calling out to the bird, "O friend ISIT,
protect us and give us success." One of the men lands on the bank,
hews out a pole about eight feet long, cuts upon it bunches of shavings
without detaching (Pl. 97) them from the pole, and thrusts one end of
it into the ground so that it remains sloping towards the abode of the
foe. While this is being done on the bank, fire of some sort (if only
a cigarette) is lighted in the boat, and the position is explained
more fully to the bird, but without any mention of the name of the
enemy. The observers then erect a hut near the omen-pole for their
shelter, and pass the night there before looking out for the omen-bird
next desired. This is the trogan (HARPACTES DUVAUCELII), which has
a peculiar soft trilling note and a brilliant red chest. When this
bird appears, it is addressed in the same way as the spider-hunter;
and this second step of the process is also marked by a feathered stick
thrust into the ground before the hut. Then they spend another night in
the hut hoping for significant dreams. To dream of abundance of fruit
(which symbolises heads) is favourable; any dream of a disagreeable
or fearful situation is unfavourable. After a favourable dream comes
the most important stage of the business, the observation of the
hawks. They look for LAKI NEHO from the door of their hut about nine
o'clock in the morning. As soon as a hawk is seen, they light a fire
and call on him to go to the left, waving a feathered stick in that
direction, and, shouting at the top of his voice, one of them pours
out a torrent of words addressed to the hawk. If he goes out of sight
towards the right, they console themselves by remarking that he is one
of low degree, and they sit down to wait for another. If two hawks are
seen to fight in the air, that foretells much bloodshed. They are not
satisfied until they see a hawk sail far away out of sight towards
the left. Then a break is made; after which they observe the hawks
again, until they see one sail out of sight towards the right. If
all this is accomplished without the intervention of unfavourable
omens, they return home to report progress; but immediately return
to the hut and remain there. Then for one, two, or even three days,
all the men of the house stay at home quietly, busying themselves in
preparing boats and weapons. The chief, or some deputy, then performs
the rites before the altar-post of the war-god that stands before
the house in the way described in Chap. XV. The omens given by the
hawks on this occasion are guarantees for the safety of the house
and those left in it, and against accidents and sickness incidental
to the journey; they have no reference to the actual fighting.[58]
All the men of the war-party then proceed in their war-boats to the
spot where the war-omens have been observed, and camp round about
it in roughly built huts. Here they will remain at least two days,
establishing their connection with the favourable omen-birds. From
this encampment they may not return to the house, and, if they are
expecting a party of allies, they may await them here. By this time
the war-fever is raging among them, and rumours of the preparations
of the enemy are circulating. Spies or scouts may be sent out to
seek information about the enemy; but usually such information is
sought from the liver of a pig with the customary ceremony. A sharp
ridge on the liver dividing their own region from that of the enemy
is unfavourable, a low soft ridge is favourable.

From the moment of leaving the village the men of the war-party must
observe many tabus until their return home. They may not eat the head
of a fish; they must use only their home-made earthen pots; fire must
be made only by friction (see Pl. 89); they must not smoke; boys may
not lie down, but must sleep sitting. The people who remain at home
are not expected to observe these tabus; they may go to the farms, but
must keep quiet, and undertake nothing outside the ordinary routine.

If the object of the attack is a village in their own river, the
expedition paddles steadily day after day until it reaches the mouth
of some small stream at a distance of some miles from the enemy's
village. Forcing their boats some two or three miles up this stream
they make a camp. Here two solid platforms are built about twenty feet
apart, and a large beam is laid from one to the other. The chiefs
and principal men take their seats on the platforms, and then every
man of the party in turn approaches this beam, the fighting leader,
who is usually not one of the chiefs, coming first. If he is willing
to go through with the business, I.E. to take part in the attack, he
slashes a chip from the beam with his PARANG and passes under it. On
the far side of the beam stands a chief holding a large frond of fern,
and, as each man passes under, he gives him a bit of the leaf, while
an assistant cuts a notch on a tally-stick for each volunteer. If
for any reason any man is reluctant to go farther, he states his
excuse, perhaps a bad dream or illness, or sore feet, and returns
to the boats, amid the jeers of those who have passed the ordeal,
to form one of a party to be left in charge of the camp and boats.

Next, all the left-handed men are sorted out to form a party whose
special duty is to ambush the enemy, if possible, at some favourable
spot. These are known as the hornets (SINGAT). If any swampy ground
or other obstruction intervenes between their camp and the enemy's
village, a path is made through or over it to facilitate retreat
to the boats. A password is agreed upon, which serves as a means
of making members of the party known to one another upon any chance
meeting in the dark.

Scouts are sent out at dusk and, if their reports are favourable, the
attack is made just before dawn. About half the warriors are provided
with large bundles of dry shavings, and some will carry torches. When
the attacking party has quietly surrounded the house or houses, the
bundles of shavings are ignited, and their bearers run in and throw
them under the house among the timbers on which it is supported. Then
ensues a scene of wild confusion. The calm stillness of the tropical
dawn is broken by the deep war-chorus of the attacking party, by the
shouts and screams of the people of the house suddenly roused from
sleep, by the cries and squeals of the frightened animals beneath the
house, and the beating of the alarm signal on the TAWAK. If the house
is ignited, the encircling assailants strive to intercept the fleeing
inhabitants. These, if the flames do not drive them out before they
have time to take any concerted measures, will hurl their javelins
and discharge their firearms (if they have any) at their assailants;
then they will descend, bringing the women and children with them, and
make a desperate attempt to cut their way through and escape to the
jungle or, sometimes, to their boats. Kayans conducting a successful
attack of this kind will make as many prisoners as possible, and will
as a rule kill only those men who make desperate resistance, though
occasionally others, even women and children, may be wantonly killed
in the excitement of the moment. It is not unusual in the case of an
able-bodied man who has surrendered, but shown signs of attempting to
escape or of renewing his resistance, to deal him a heavy blow on the
knee-cap, and so render him lame for some time. It usually happens
that the greater part of the fugitives escape into the jungle; and
they are not pursued far, if the victors have secured a few heads and
a few prisoners. The head is hacked off at once from the body of any
one of the foe who falls in the fight; the trunk is left lying where
it fell. If any of the assailants are killed in the course of the fray,
their heads are not taken by their friends, and their corpses are left
upon the field covered with boughs, or at most, in the case of chiefs,
are dragged into the jungle and covered up with boughs and twigs, in
order to prevent their heads being taken by the enemy. If any of the
enemy remain so badly wounded that they are not likely to recover,
their heads are taken; and if no other heads have been secured,
the head of one of the more seriously wounded captives is taken,
or of one who is deformed or incapacitated in any way. If a captive
dies of his wounds his head is taken; but it is a rare exception for
Kayans to kill any of their captives after the short excitement of
the battle is over. The attacking party, even though it has gained a
decisive victory, usually returns with all speed, but in good order,
to its boats, carrying with it through the jungle all the loot that
is not too cumbersome for rapid portage, especially old beads, gongs,
and brass-ware; for they are always in danger of being cut off by
a party of their enemies, rallied and reinforced by parties from
neighbouring friendly villages. Still more are they liable to be
pursued and cut off, if the attack on the village has failed through
the defenders having been warned; for an attack upon a strong house or
village has little chance of success if the defenders are prepared for
and expecting it. The pursuit of the retreating party may be kept up
throughout one or two days, and, if the pursuers come up with them,
a brisk and bloody battle is the natural outcome; and it is under
these circumstances that the most severe fighting takes place. But
here again it is seldom that any large proportion of either party is
slain; for the dense jungle everywhere offers abundant opportunities
of concealment to those who condescend to seek its shelter, and there
are few, even among the Kayans and Kenyahs, who will fight to the
bitter end, if the alternative of flight is open to them.

A successful war-party returning home makes no secret of its
success. The boats are decorated with palm leaves (DAUN ISANG),
and a triumphal chorus is raised from time to time, especially on
passing villages. As the villagers come out to gaze on them, those who
have taken heads stand up in the boats. The heads, slightly roasted,
are wrapped up in palm leaves and placed in baskets in the stern of
the boat. If the return home involves a journey of several days,
the victors will, if possible, pass the nights in the houses of
friendly villages, where they are made much of, especially those
who have taken heads; and on these occasions the glamour of victory
is apt to turn the heads of some of the women and to break down the
reserve that modesty normally imposes upon them.

On approaching their own village, whither the rumour of their
success usually precedes them, the war-party is received with loud
acclamations, the people coming down to the riverside to receive
them. Before they ascend to the house, the heads have to be safely
lodged in a small hut specially built for their reception; and the
young boys are brought down to go through their first initiation in
the arts of war. Each child is made to hold a sword and, with the
assistance of some aged warrior, to strike a blow at one of the newly
captured heads. The older boys, some nine or ten years of age, who
are ripe for their second participation in mock warfare, also strike
at a head in a similar way, but engage also in mimic battles with one
another, using wooden swords and spears, and, curiously enough, small
roughly made bows and arrows.[59] It is customary for the victorious
warriors to spend the first night after their return encamped before
the house. A strip of green DAUN ISANG is tied about the left wrist
of each man who has taken part in the expedition, and also of each of
the young boys. Those who have taken heads adorn also their war-caps
with the same leaf and with feathered sticks. On the following day
a tall post of bamboo (BALAWING) is erected near the figure of the
war-god. It is covered with frayed palm leaves (DAUN ISANG), and from
its tip a single head, also wrapped in leaves, is suspended by a long
cord (Pl. 66). Before the altar-post of the war-god several shorter
thicker posts are erected, and to each of these two or three small
pieces of human flesh, brought home from the corpses of the slain
enemies for this purpose, are fastened with skewers. These pieces of
flesh seem to be thank-offerings to the hawks to whom the success is
largely attributed. These bits of flesh are dried over a fire at the
first opportunity on the return journey, in order to preserve them.[60]

As soon as the news of the taking of heads reaches the house, the
people go out of mourning, I.E. they shave the parts of the scalp
surrounding the crown and pull out eyebrows and eyelashes (which have
been allowed to grow during mourning); they put off their bark-cloth
garments and resume their cotton-cloths and ornaments.

If, as is usually the case on the return of a war-party, mourning for
a chief is to be terminated, one of the heads is carried down river
to his tomb, followed by most of the men, while the women wail in
the house. The head is first brought before the house, but not into
it. An old man shoots a dart into the air in the direction of the
enemy, and then, pattering out a long formula in the usual way, he
slaughters a fowl and puts a part of the carcase upon a short stick
thrust into the earth. The men of the party then march past, each
touching the carcase with his knee, and saying as he does so, "Cast
out sickness, make me strong and healthy, exalt me above my enemies,
etc. etc." Beside the tomb a tall pole is set up, and the head dressed
in leaves is suspended by a cord from its upper end. A number of pigs
will already have been slain in preparation for the feast, and their
lower jaws are hung about the tomb on poles. The deep war-chorus is
shouted by the party as it travels to and from the tomb. In returning
the whole party bathes in the river, and while they are in the water
an old man waves over them some of the ISANG leaves with which the
head has been decorated, wishing them health and long life.

A few days (not less than four) after the return of the war-party,
the heads are brought into the house with much rejoicing and
ceremony. Every family kills a pig and roasts its flesh,[61] brings
out stores of rice-spirit, and prepares cakes of rice-flour. The pigs'
livers are examined, and their blood is smeared upon the altar-post
of the war-god with a sort of brush (PLA) made by fraying the end of
a stick in a more than usually elaborate manner. Each head, adorned
with a large bunch of DAUN ISANG, is carried by an elderly man or
woman into the house, followed by all the people of the house -- men,
women, and children -- in long procession. The procession marches
up and down the whole length of the gallery many times, the people
shouting, singing, stamping, and pounding on the floor with PADI
pestles, or playing the KELURI. This is followed by a general feast
and drinking bout, each family preparing its feast in its own chamber,
and entertaining friends and neighbours who come to take part in the
general rejoicing. In the course of the feasting the women usually
take temporary possession of the heads, and perform with them a wild,
uncouth dance, waving the heads to and fro, and chanting in imitation
of the men's war-song (Pl. 102). The procession may be resumed at
intervals until the heads are finally suspended beside the old ones
over the principal hearth of the gallery. The heads have usually
been prepared by removal of the brain through the great foramen,
by drying over a fire, and by lashing on the lower jaw with strips of
rattan. The suspension of the head is effected by piercing a round hole
in the crown, and passing through it from below, by way of the great
foramen, a rattan knotted at the end. The free end of the rattan is
passed through and tied in a hole in the lower edge of a long beam
suspended parallel to the length of the gallery from the beams of
the roof (Pl. 68). The Kenyahs suspend the heads in the same way as
the Kayans, but most of the Klemantans and Ibans use in place of the
long beam a strong basket-work in the shape of a cone, the apex being
attached to the roof beams, and the heads tied in two or three tiers
in the wall of the cone. In either case the heads hang some five or
six feet above the floor, where they are out of reach of the dogs.


Since every Bornean long-house is, or until recently was, liable
at almost any time to a night attack of the kind described above,
the situation of the house is chosen with an eye to defence. The site
chosen is in nearly all cases on the bank of a river or stream large
enough for the navigation of small boats; a high and steep river-bank
is commonly preferred; and spits of land between two converging streams
or peninsulas formed by sharp bends of the rivers are favoured spots.

Beside the natural situation, the prime defence of the house is its
elevation some 10 to 30 feet above the level of the ground, joined
with the difficulty of access to the house by means of narrow ladders
easily drawn up or thrown down. This elevation of the house serves
also to secure its contents against sudden risings of the river,
and also against the invasion of evil odours from the refuse which
accumulates below it; but its primary purpose is undoubtedly defence
against human enemies. The interval between the low outer wall of the
gallery and the lower edge of the roof is the only aperture through
which missiles can be hurled into the house, and this is so narrow
as to render the entry of any missiles well-nigh impossible.

When a household gets wind of an intended attack, they generally put
the house into a state of defence by erecting a fence of vertical
stakes around it, some three yards outside the posts on which it is
supported and some six to eight feet in height. This fence is rendered
unclimbable by a frieze consisting of a multitude of slips of bamboo;
each of these is sharpened at both ends, bent upon itself, and thrust
between the poles of the palisade so that its sharp points (Pl. 100)
are directed outwards. This dense jungle of loosely attached spikes
constitutes an obstacle not easily overcome by the enemy; for the
loosely fitting bamboo slips can neither be hacked away nor removed
individually without considerable expenditure of time, during which
the attackers are exposed to a shower of missiles from the house. A
double ladder in the form of a stile is placed across the fence
to permit the passage of the people of the house. If there is any
definite pathway leading to the house, a log is sometimes suspended
above it by a rattan passing over a branch of a tree and carried to
the house. This can be allowed to fall upon the approaching enemy by
severing the rattan where it is tied within the house (Klemantan).

A further precaution is to stick into the ground round about the house
a large number of slips of bamboo. Each slip is some six inches in
length, and its sharp, fire-hardened point projects upwards and a
little outwards.

If the attacking party is likely to approach by the river, a trap
may be arranged at some point where, by reason of rapids or rocks,
the boats are likely to be delayed. Here a large tree overhanging
the river is chosen for the trap. Stout rattans are made fast to its
branches, brought over the branches of a neighbouring tree, and made
fast in some spot within reach of a hidden watcher. The stem of the
overhanging tree is then cut almost through, so that a few blows of
a sword, severing the supporting rattans, may cause the tree to fall
upon the passing boat.

When a hostile war-party enters a section of a river in which there
is a number of villages of one tribe or of friendly tribes, its
approach may be signalled throughout the district by the beating
of the TAWAK. The same peculiar rhythm is used for this purpose by
all the tribes, though it probably has been copied from the Kayans
by all the others. It consists in a rapid series of strokes of
increasing rate upon the boss, followed by one long deep note, and
two shorter ones struck upon the body and once repeated. Whenever
this war-alarm is heard in a village, it is repeated, and so passed
on from village to village. The people working in the farms or in the
jungle, or travelling on the river, return at once to their villages on
hearing the alarm, and the houses are prepared for defence. When the
news of the approach of a hostile party has been spread in this way
throughout the river, it has little chance of successfully attacking
a house or village, and it will, unless very numerous, content itself
with attempting to cut off some of the people returning home from
the farms. If the invading party is very strong, it may surround a
house whose defenders have been warned of their coming, and attempt
to starve them into submission. In the old days it was not uncommon
for a strong party of Kayans to descend upon a settlement of the more
peaceable coastwise people, and to extort from them a large payment of
brass-ware as the price of their safety. If the unfortunate household
submitted to this extortion, the Kayans would keep faith with them,
and would ratify a treaty of peace by making the headman of the
village blood-brother of their chief.

Some features of the tactics adopted by the Kayans are worthy of
more detailed description. If a strong party determines to attack a
house in face of an alert defence, they may attempt to storm it in
broad daylight by forming several compact bodies of about twenty-five
men. Each body protects itself with a roof of shields held closely
together, and the several parties move quickly in upon the house
simultaneously from different points, and attempt to carry it by
assault. The defenders of the house would attempt to repel such an
attack by hurling heavy bars of iron-wood, sharpened at both ends, in
such a way that the bar twirls in the air as it hurtles through it;
and this is one of the few occasions on which the blow-pipe is used
as a weapon of defence.

A village that has been warned of the approach of the foe may send out
a party to attempt to ambush the attackers at some difficult passage of
the river or the jungle. Scouts are sent out to locate the enemy. Some
climb to the tops of tall trees to look for the smoke of the enemy's
fires. Having located the enemy, the scouts approach so closely as to
be able to count their numbers and observe all their movements; and,
keeping in touch with the party, they send messages to their chief. If
the defenders succeed in ambushing the attackers and in killing
several of them, the latter usually withdraw discouraged, and may for
the time give up the attempt. If the defending party should come upon
the enemy struggling against a rapid, and especially if the enemy is
in difficulties through the upsetting of some of their boats, or in
any other way, they may fall upon them in the open bed of the river,
and then ensues the comparatively rare event, a stand-up fight in the
open. This resolves itself in the main into hand-to-hand duels between
pairs of combatants, as in the heroic age. The warriors select their
opponents and approach warily; they call upon one another by name,
hurling taunts and swaggering boastfully in the heroic style. Each
abuses the other's parents, and threatens to use his opponent's
skin as a war-coat, or his scrotum as a tobacco-pouch, to take
his head and to use his hair as an ornament for a PARANG-handle;
or doubt as to the opponent's sex may be insinuated. While this
exchange of compliments goes on, the warriors are manoeuvring for
favourable positions; each crouches, thrusting forward his left leg,
covering himself as completely as possible with his long shield,
and dodging to and fro continually. The short javelins and spears
are first hurled, and skilfully parried with spear and shield. When
a man has expended his stock of javelins and has hurled his spear,
he closes in with his PARANG. His enemy seeks to receive the blow of
the PARANG on his shield in such a way that the point, entering the
wood, may be held fast by it. Feinting and dodging are practised;
one man thrusts out his left leg to tempt the other to strike at it
and to expose his head in doing so. If one succeeds in catching his
enemy's PARANG in his shield, he throws down the shield and dashes
upon his now weaponless foe, who takes to his heels, throwing away
his shield and relying merely on his swiftness of foot. When one of
a pair of combatants is struck down, the other springs upon him and,
seizing the long hair of the scalp and yelling in triumph, severs the
neck with one or two blows of the PARANG. The warrior who has drawn
first blood of the slain foe claims the credit of having taken his
head. Such a free fight seldom lasts more than a few minutes. Unless
one party quite overwhelms the other in the first few minutes, both
draw off, and the fight is seldom renewed.

Since the establishment of the European governments in Borneo,
punitive expeditions have been necessary from time to time in order
to put a stop to wanton raiding and killing. In this respect the
Ibans and some of the Klemantans have been the chief offenders;
while the Kayans and Kenyahs have seldom given trouble, after once
placing themselves under the established governments. In the Baram
river, in which the Kayans form probably a larger proportion of the
population than in any other, no such expedition against them has
been necessary since they accepted the government of H.H. the Rajah
of Sarawak nearly twenty-five years ago.

In organising such an expedition, the European governments, especially
that of Sarawak, have usually relied in the main on the services
of loyal chiefs and their followers, acting under the control of a
European magistrate, and supported usually by a small body of native
police or soldiers armed with rifles. There is usually no difficulty
in securing the co-operation of any desired number of native allies or
volunteers; for in this way alone can the people now find a legitimate
outlet for their innate and traditional pugnacity. Sometimes the
people to be punished desert their village, hiding themselves in
the jungle; and in such cases the burning of their houses is usually
deemed sufficient punishment. In cases of more serious crime, such as
repeated wanton bloodshed and refusal to yield to the demands of the
government, it becomes necessary to apprehend the persons primarily
responsible, and, for this purpose, to pursue the fugitives. These
sometimes establish themselves on a hill-top surrounded by precipices
which can be scaled only by the aid of ladders, and there defy the
government forces until the hill is carried by assault, or by siege,
or the defenders are enticed to descend. One such hill in the basin
of the Rejang (Sarawak), Bukit Batu by name, consists of a mass of
porphyry some 1500 feet in height, and several miles in diameter,
with very precipitous sides. This has been used again and again as a
place of refuge by recalcitrant offenders, being so strong a natural
fortress that it has never been possible to carry it by assault. On
the last occasion on which Bukit Batu was used in this way, two Iban
chiefs established themselves on the hill and defied the government
of Sarawak for a period of four years, during which the hill became a
place of refuge for all evil-doers and outlaws among the Ibans of the
Rejang and neighbouring districts, who built their houses on ledges
of the mountain some four hundred feet above the level of the river.

The punitive expedition that we briefly describe in Chapter XXII. was
but a small affair compared with some, in which as many as 10,000
or 12,000 men have mustered under the government flag. So large a
number is seldom necessary or desired by the government; but when
contingents from all the loyal communities of a large district eagerly
offer their services, it is difficult to deny any of them permission
to take part. Kenyahs and Kayans will co-operate harmoniously, and
also Klemantans; but the former distrust the Sea Dayaks and will not
join forces with any large number of them.

The modes of warfare of the other tribes are similar in most respects
to that of the Kayans described above; but some peculiarities are
worthy of note.

Kenyah warfare is very similar to Kayan, save in so far as their
more impetuous temper renders their tactics more dashing. While the
Kayans endeavour to make as many captives as possible, the Kenyahs
attach little value to them. While Kayans never attack communities of
their own tribe, such "civil war" is not unknown among the Kenyahs,
whose tribal cohesion is less intimate in many respects. From these
two differences it results that the Kenyah war-parties are generally
smaller than those of the Kayans, more quick-moving, and more prone to
attack groups of the enemy encountered on farms or on the river. Like
the Ibans, the Kenyahs make peace more readily than the Kayans, who
nurse their grievances and seek redress after long intervals of time.

The Ibans conduct their warfare less systematically, and with far
less discipline than the Kayans and Kenyahs. An attack upon a house
or village by Bans is usually made in very large force; the party
is more of the nature of a rabble than of an army; each man acts
independently. They seek above all things to take heads, to which they
attach an extravagant value, unlike the Kayans and Kenyahs who seek
heads primarily for the service of their funeral rites; and they not
infrequently attack a house and kill a large number of its inmates in
a perfectly wanton manner, and for no other motive that the desire to
obtain heads. This passion for heads leads them sometimes into acts
of gross treachery and brutality. The Ibans being great wanderers,
small parties of them, engaged perhaps in working jungle produce, will
settle for some weeks in a household of Klemantans, and, after being
received hospitably, and sometimes even after contracting marriages
with members of the household, will seize an opportunity, when most
of the men of the house are from home, to take the heads of all the
men, women, and children who remain, and to flee with them to their
own distant homes.

So strong is this morbid desire of the Ibans to obtain human heads,
that a war-party will sometimes rob the tombs of the villages of
other tribes and, after smoking the stolen heads of the corpses,
will bring them home in triumph with glowing accounts of the stout
resistance offered by the victims. Their attitude in this matter is
well expressed by a saying current among them, namely, "Why should
we eat the hard caked rice from the edge of the pot when there's
plenty of soft rice in the centre?" The Iban women urge on the men
to the taking of heads; they make much of those who bring them home,
and sometimes a girl will taunt her suitor by saying that he has not
been brave enough to take a head; and in some cases of murder by Sea
Dayaks, the murderer has no doubt been egged on in this way.

Nevertheless, we repeat that there is no ground for the oft-reprinted
assertion that the taking of a head is a necessary prelude to
marriage.[62] Like other tribesmen Ibans do not bring home the heads
of their companions who have fallen in battle; but while men of other
tribes are content to drag the corpses of their fallen friends into
some obscure spot and to cover them with branches, Ibans frequently
cut off the heads and bury them at a distance from the scene of battle,
in order to prevent their being taken by the enemy.

The Ibans use a rather greater variety of weapons than the Kayans,
in that they have spears whose blades bear barbs which prevent the
withdrawal of the blade from the body of the enemy without great

The Klemantan tribes are on the whole far less warlike than Kayans,
Kenyahs, and Ibans. Their offensive warfare is usually on a small
scale, and is undertaken primarily for revenge. Their warlike ambition
is easily satisfied by the taking of a single head, or even by a
mere hostile demonstration against the enemy's house. Nevertheless,
like all the other tribes, except the Punans, the Klemantans need a
human head to terminate a period of mourning.

We venture to append to this chapter a few speculations on the
origin and history of head-hunting. From what we have said above it
is clear that the Ibans are the only tribe to which one can apply the
epithet head-hunters with the usual connotation of the word, namely,
that head-hunting is pursued as a form of sport. But although the Ibans
are the most inveterate head-hunters, it is probable that they adopted
the practice some few generations ago only (perhaps a century and a
half or even less) in imitation of Kayans or other tribes among whom
it had been established for a longer period. The rapid growth of the
practice among the Ibans was no doubt largely due to the influence
of the Malays, who had been taught by Arabs and others the arts of
piracy, and with whom the Ibans were associated in the piratical
enterprises that gave the waters around Borneo a sinister notoriety
during the eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth centuries. Until
the middle of the nineteenth century, the settlements of Ibans were
practically confined to the rivers of the southern part of Sarawak;
and there the Malays of Bruni and of other coast settlements enlisted
them as crews for their pirate ships. In these piratical expeditions
the Malays assigned the heads of their victims as the booty of their
Iban allies, while they kept for themselves the forms of property of
greater cash value. The Malays were thus interested in encouraging in
the Ibans the passion for head-hunting which, since the suppression of
piracy, has found vent in the irregular warfare and treacherous acts
described above. It was through their association with the Malays in
these piratical expeditions that the Ibans became known to Europeans
as the Sea Dayaks.

It seems not impossible that the practice of taking the heads of
fallen enemies arose by extension of the custom of taking the hair
for the ornamentation of the shield and sword-hilt. It seems possible
that human hair was first applied to shields in order to complete the
representation of a terrible human face, which, as we have seen, is
commonly painted on the shield, and which is said to be valued as an
aid to confusing and terrifying the foe. It is perhaps a difficulty
in the way of this view that the use of human hair to ornament
the shield is peculiar to the Kenyahs and some of the Klemantans
(the latter probably having imitated the former in this), and does
not occur among the Kayans. The Kenyahs themselves preserve the
tradition of the origin of the taking of heads; and the suggestion
is further borne out by the legend of TOKONG, which is widely known,
but is probably of Kenyah origin (see Chapter XVII.), according to
which the frog admonished a great Kenyah chief that he should cease to
take only the hair of the fallen foe, but should take their heads also.

A second plausible view of the origin of head-taking is that it arose
out of the custom of slaying slaves on the death of a chief, in order
that they might accompany and serve him on his journey to the other
world. We have pointed out several reasons for believing that this
practice was formerly general, and that it has fallen into desuetude,
but is hardly yet quite extinct. It is obvious that since the soul
of the dead man is regarded as hovering in the neighbourhood of the
body for some little time after its death, it would be felt that the
despatch of a companion soul was not a matter of immediate urgency;
and considerations of economy might well lead the mourners to prefer
capturing and killing members of some hostile community to slaying one
or more of their slaves, highly valued and sometimes affectionately
regarded as they are. It would then be felt that the relatives of
the deceased should continue to display signs of mourning until they
should have discharged this last duty to their departed friend. The
next step would be to supplant the practice of capturing a member of a
hostile community, and bringing him home to be slain, by the simpler,
less troublesome, and more merciful one of slaying the enemy on the
field of combat and bringing home only his head. In this way we may,
with some plausibility, seek to account for the origin of the practice
of taking heads, and of the tradition that the taking of a head is
necessary for the termination of a period of mourning. This second
suggestion is strongly supported by the fact that Kayans, Kenyahs,
and Klemantans occasionally, on returning home from a successful raid,
will carry one of the newly taken heads to the tomb of the chief for
whom they are mourning, and will hang it upon, or deposit it within,
the tomb beside the coffin. The head used for this purpose is thickly
covered with leaves (DAUN ISANG) tied tightly about it. It is possible
that this thick covering was first applied in order to disguise the
fact that the head is that of an enemy, and that the sacrifice of the
life of a domestic slave, originally demanded by custom and piety,
has been avoided by this process of substitution.

We have suggested above two different origins of the custom of
taking the heads of enemies. These two possibilities are by no means
mutually exclusive, and we are inclined to think that both substitutive
processes may have co-operated in bringing about this custom.

It seems probable that the taking of heads was introduced to Borneo
by Kayans when they entered the island, probably some few centuries
ago, and that the Klemantans and other tribes, like the Ibans, have
adopted the custom from their example.

We will conclude this chapter by questioning yet another of the
stories, the frequent repetition of which has given the tribes of the
interior the reputation of being savages of the worst type, namely,
the story that it is the practice of Kayans to torture the captives
taken in battle. This evil repute is, we have no doubt, largely
due to the fact that very few Europeans have acquired any intimate
first-hand acquaintance with the Kayans or Kenyahs; and that too
often the stories told by Sea Dayaks have been uncritically accepted;
for the Sea Dayaks have been bitterly hostile to the Kayans ever since
the tribes have been in contact; and the Iban is a great romancer. It
will be found that many of the alleged instances of torture by Kayans
have been described by Sea Dayaks; and we think there is good reason
for hesitating to accept any of these. But we would point out that,
if some of these accounts have been founded on fact, the Sea Dayak
victims, or their companions, have in all probability provoked the
Kayans to severe, reprisals by their atrocious behaviour, and may be
fairly said to have deserved their fate.

It is true that Kayans have been guilty of leaving a slave or captive
bound upon a tomb until he has died from exposure to the sun. We know
also of one instance in which a Murut slave, having treacherously
murdered the only son of a great Kayan chief in the Baram, at the
instigation of Bruni Malays, was killed by a multitude of small stabs
by the infuriated Kayan women, on being brought captive to the house.

But such occurrences as these by no means justify the statement that it
is the practice of Kayans to torture their captives; and we have heard
of no well-attested instances that give any colour to it. As we have
said above, Kayans commonly treat their captives so kindly that they
soon become content to remain in the households of their captors. The
Kayan feeling about torture is well illustrated by the fact that the
Kayan village responsible for the exposure of the slave mentioned
above was looked at askance by other Kayans. The spot was regarded
with horror by them, and they regard as a consequence of this act the
failure of the line of the chief of that village to perpetuate itself.

We have to admit that some of the Klemantans cannot be so
whole-heartedly defended against the charge of torturing their
captives. But we believe that it is not regularly practised by any
Klemantan tribe, but rather only on occasions which in some way evoke
an exceptional degree of emotional excitement. Thus, in one instance
known to us, the Orang Bukit of the Bruni territory, having lost the
most highly respected of their chiefs, purchased a slave in Bruni to
serve as the funereal victim, and, having shut him in a wicker cage,
killed him with a multitude of stabs, some eight hundred persons
taking part in the act. But even this act was, it must be observed,
of the nature of a pious and religious rite rather than an act of
wanton cruelty.

We cannot leave this subject without this last word. If we are quite
frank, we shall have to admit that, even though the worst accounts of
Kayan cruelty were substantially true, such behaviour would not in the
least justify the belief that the Kayans are innately more cruel than
ourselves. If we are tempted to take this view, let us remember that,
after our own race had professed Christianity for many generations,
the authority of Church and State publicly decreed and systematically
inflicted in cold blood tortures far more hideous and atrocious than
any the Kayan imagination has ever conceived.



In any account of the arts and crafts of the Kayans, the working of
iron claims the first place by reason of its high importance to them
and of the skill and knowledge displayed by them in the difficult
operations by which they produce their fine swords. The origin of
their knowledge of iron and of the processes of smelting and forging
remains hidden in mystery; but there can be little doubt that the
Kayans were familiar with these processes before they entered Borneo,
and it is probable that the Kayans were the first ironworkers in
Borneo, and that from them the other tribes have learnt the craft
with various measures of success.[63] However this may be, the Kayans
remain the most skilful ironworkers of the country, rivalled only in
the production of serviceable sword-blades by the Kenyahs.

At the present day the Kayans, like all the other peoples, obtain
their iron in the form of bars of iron and steel imported from Europe
and distributed by the Chinese and Malay traders. But thirty years ago
nearly all the iron worked by the tribes of the interior was from ore
found in the river-beds, and possibly from masses of meteoric iron;
and even at the present day the native ore is still smelted in the
far interior, and swords made from it by the Kenyahs are still valued
above all others.

Smelting and forging demand a specialised skill which is attained
by relatively few. But in each Kayan village are to be found two or
three or more skilled smiths, who work up for a small fee the metal
brought them by their friends, the finishing touches being generally
given by the owner of the implement according to his own fancy.

The smelting is performed by mixing the ore with charcoal in
a clay crucible, which is embedded in a pile of charcoal. The
charcoal being ignited is blown to a white heat by the aid of four
piston-bellows. Each of the bellows consists of a wooden cylinder
(generally made from the stem of a wild sago palm) about four feet in
length and six inches in diameter, fixed vertically in a framework
carrying a platform, on which two men sit to work the pistons (see
Pl. 107). The lower end of each cylinder is embedded in clay, and
into it near its lower end is inserted a tube of bamboo, which, lying
horizontally on the ground, converges upon and joins with a similar
tube of a second cylinder. The common tube formed by this junction in
turn converges with the tube common to the other pair of cylinders,
and with it opens by a clay junction into a final common tube of clay,
which leads to the base of the fire. The piston consists of a stout
stick bearing at its lower end a bunch of feathers large enough to
fill the bore of the cylinder. When the piston is thrust downwards,
it drives the air before it to the furnace; as it is drawn upwards,
the feathers collapsing allow the entrance of air from above. The
upper extremity of each of the piston-rods is attached by a cord to
one end of a stout pliable stick, which is firmly fixed at its other
end in a horizontal position, the cord being of such a length that the
piston-head is supported by it near the upper end of the cylinder. Two
men squat upon the platform and each works one pair of the cylinders,
grasping a piston-rod in each hand, thrusting them down alternately,
and allowing the elastic reaction of the supporting rods above to
draw them up again. The crucible, having been brought to white heat
in the furnace, is allowed to cool, when a mass of metallic iron or
steel is found within it.

The forging of implements from the metal obtained is effected by the
aid of a charcoal furnace to which a blast is supplied by the bellows
described above, or sometimes by one consisting of two cylinders
only. Stone anvils and hammers were formerly used, and may still
be seen in use in the far interior (Fig. 31); but the Kayans make
iron hammers and an anvil consisting of a short thick bar of iron,
the lower end of which is fixed vertically in a large block of wood.

The peculiarly shaped and finely tempered sword-blade, MALAT, is
the highest product of the Kayan blacksmith. The smith begins his
operations on a bar of steel some eight inches in length. One end is
either grasped with pincers, or thrust firmly into a block of wood
that serves for a handle. The other end is heated in the furnace and
gradually beaten out until the peculiar shape of the blade is achieved,
with the characteristic hollow on the one side and convexity on the
other. If the blade is to be a simple and unadorned weapon, there
follow only the tempering, grinding, and polishing. But many blades
are ornamented with curled ridges projecting from the back edge. These
are cut and turned up with an iron chisel while the metal is hot and
before tempering.

Two methods of tempering are in use. One is to heat the blade in
the fire and to plunge it at a dull heat into water. The other is
to lay the cold blade upon a flat bar of red-hot iron. This has the
advantage that the degree of the effect upon the blade can be judged
from the change of its colour as it absorbs the heat. The Kayan smiths
are expert in judging by the colours of the surface the degree and
kind of temper produced. They aim at producing a very tough steel,
for the MALAT has to serve not only in battle, but also for hacking
a path through the jungle, and for many other purposes.

Many sword-blades are elaborately decorated with scroll designs along
the posterior border and inlaid with brass. The inlaid brass commonly
takes the form of a number of small discs let into the metal near the
thick edge; small holes are punched through the hot metal, and brass
wire is passed through each hole, cut off flush with the surface and
hammered flat. The designs are chased on the cold metal with a chisel
and hammer supplemented by a file. The polishing and sharpening are
done in several stages: the first stage usually by rubbing the blade
upon a block of sandstone; the second stage by the use of a hone of
finer grain; and the highest polish is attained by rubbing with a leaf
whose surface is hard and probably contains silicious particles. At
the present time imported files are much used.

Other implements fashioned by the smiths are the small knives,
spear-heads, hoes, small adzes, rods for boring the sumpitan, the
anvil, and the various hammers, and chisels, and rough files used by
the smiths.


Although brass-ware is so highly valued by all the peoples of the
interior, the only brazen articles made by them (with one exception
presently to be noticed) are the heavy ear-rings of the women. The
common form is a simple ring of solid metal interrupted at one point
by a gap about an eighth of an inch wide, through which is pulled the
thin band of skin formed by stretching the lobule of the ear. Other
rings form about one and a half turns of a corkscrew spiral. These
rings are cast in moulds of clay, or in some cases in moulds hollowed
in two blocks of stone which are nicely opposed.

The Malohs, a Klemantan sub-tribe in the upper basin of the Kapuas
river, are well known as brass-workers; their wares are bartered
throughout the country, and a few Maloh brass-workers may be found
temporarily settled in many of the larger villages of all tribes. They
make the brass corsets of the Iban women, tweezers for pulling out the
hair of the face, brass ear-rings, and a variety of small articles,
and they make use of the larger brass-ware of Malay and Chinese origin
as the source of their material.

Fire Piston

This very ingenious instrument for the making of fire is cast in
metal by the Ibans. (See Fig. 36 and Pl. 108.) It consists of a
hollow brass or leaden cylinder about five inches in length and one
inch in diameter, the bore being about one-quarter of an inch in
diameter and closed at one end. A wooden piston, which closely fits
the bore, bears a rounded knob; it is driven down the cylinder by a
sharp blow of the palm upon the knob and is quickly withdrawn. The
heat generated by the compression of the air ignites a bit of tinder
(made by scraping the fibrous surface of the leaf stem of the Arenga
palm) at the bottom of the cylinder. The cylinder is cast by pouring
the molten metal into a section of bamboo, while a polished iron rod
is held vertically in the centre to form the bore. When the cylinder
is cold the iron rod is extracted, and the outer surface is trimmed
and shaped with knife or file.


The Kayans make much use of boats, as described in Chapter VIII., and
are skilful boat-makers. The forest offers them an abundant variety
of timbers suitable for the different types of boat used by them.

The most ambitious efforts of this kind are devoted to the construction
of the great war-boats, fine specimens of which are as much as
100 feet in length, or even, in exceptional instances, nearly 150
feet. The foundation of every boat is a single piece of timber shaped
and hollowed by fire and adze. Several kinds of timber are used,
the best being the kinds known as AROH (SHOREA) and NGELAI (AFZELIA
PALAMBANICA). Sometimes a suitable stem is found floating down river
and brought to the bank before the house. But such good fortune is
exceptional, and commonly a tree is selected in the forest as near as
possible to the river bank. The tree is felled in the way described in
Chapter VI. (Pl. 55), its branches are hewed away, and the stem is cut
to the required length and roughly hewn into shape. About one-fourth
of the circumference of the stem is cut away along the whole length,
and from this side the stem is hollowed. When, by chopping out the
centre, the thickness of this shell has been reduced to a thickness of
some five inches, it is brought down to the river. This is effected
by laying through the jungle a track consisting of smooth poles laid
across the direction of progress; the hollowed stem is pulled endwise
over this track with the aid of rattans, perhaps a hundred or more men
combining their strength. If the stem proves too heavy to be moved
at any part of the journey by their direct pull and push, a rough
windlass is constructed by fixing the stem of a small tree across
two standing trees and winding the rattans upon this, the trimmed
branches of the tree serving as the arms of the windlass. The Kayans
are skilled in this kind of transport of heavy timber; for the building
of their houses and of the larger tombs involves similar difficulties,
though the timbers required for these purposes are not so huge as those
used for the war-boats. Arrived at the river bank, the hollowed stem
is launched upon the water and towed down stream to the village at a
time when the water is high. It is made fast to the bank before the
village at as high a point as the water will allow, so that when the
river subsides it is left high and dry. A leaf shelter is then built
over it to protect it and the workers from the sun. The shell is then
further hollowed, partly by firing it with shavings inside and out,
and by scraping away the charred surfaces. The inside is fired first;
then the hollow is filled with water, and the outside is fired.

When in this way the shell has been reduced to a thickness of a few
inches, it is opened out, while hot from firing and still filled
with water, by wedging stout sticks some six to seven feet in length
between the lateral walls, so that the hollow stem (which hitherto
has had the form of a hollow cylinder some three to four feet in
diameter, lacking along its whole length a strip about the fourth
of its circumference) becomes a shallow trough some six to seven
feet wide in the middle of its length. During the hollowing, small
buttresses are left along each side at intervals of about two feet to
form supports for benches. After the opening, the shell is left lying
covered with branches for some days, while the wood sets in its new
form. The outer surface is then shaved approximately to the required
degree, all irregularities are removed, and holes about half-an-inch
in diameter are bored through all parts of the shell at intervals of
some twenty inches. Wooden pegs are then hammered into these holes,
each peg bearing two marks or grooves at an interval equal to the
thickness of the shell desired at each part; the peg is driven in from
the outside until the outer groove is flush with the outer surface of
the shell, and the projecting part is cut away; the inner surface is
then further chipped and scraped in each area until it becomes level
with the inner groove on the peg. In this way the workers are enabled
to give to each part its appropriate thickness. The outer surface is
then finally smoothed to form about one-third of a cylinder, and the
foundation is complete. It only remains to lash the cross-benches to
their supports, to raise the sides by lashing on a gunwale, and to
fit in wedge-shaped blocks at bow and stern. The gunwale consists of
a tough plank some ten inches wide overlapping the outer edge of the
shell, and lashed firmly to it by rattan strips piercing both shell
and planks at intervals of about six inches. In some cases the gunwale
is further raised in its middle part by lashing on a second smaller
plank to the upper edge of the first. The block fitted in at the
prow presents to the water a flat surface inclined at a low angle;
and a similar block completes the shell at the stern. The prow is
often ornamented with the head of a crocodile or the conventional
dog's head carved in hard wood and painted in red and black.

The whole operation, like every other important undertaking, is
preceded by the finding of omens, and it is liable to be postponed
by the observation of ill omens, by bad dreams, or by any misfortune
such as a death in the house. In each house are certain men who are
specially skilled in boat-making, and by them the work is directed and
all the finer part of the work executed. In the case of a war-boat
which is to be the property of the household, these special workers
are paid a fee out of the store of valuables accumulated under the
care of the chief by way of fines and confiscations.

The smaller boats, ranging from a small canoe suitable for one
or two paddlers only, to one capable of carrying a score or more,
are generally private property. These, like the war-boats, are made
from a single stem. The larger ones are made in just the same way
as the war-boats. In the smaller ones the bow is shaped from the
solid block and is not opened out, as is the rest of the boat. The
craftsman who makes a boat for another is helped by his customer,
and is paid by him a fee in brass-ware or dollars, the usual fee
being a TAWAK varying in size according to the size of the boat.

If Kayans find themselves for any reason in immediate need of a
boat when none is at hand, they sometimes fashion one very rapidly
by stripping the bark from a big tree. The two ends of the sheet of

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