Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Pagan Tribes of Borneo by Charles Hose and William McDougall

Part 7 out of 11

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

with some assiduity.

The Kayans dislike and discourage all magical practices, with the
exception of those which are publicly practised for beneficent purposes
and have the sanction of custom.

In the old days they used to kill those suspected of working any evil
by magic. There are no recognised magicians among them other than
the DAYONGS, and these, as we have seen, perform the functions of the
priest and the physician rather than those OF the wizard or sorcerer.

Some of the DAYONGS make use at certain ceremonies of a rough mask
carved out OF wood, or made from the shell of a gourd. The mask is
merely an oval shell with slits for eyes and mouth, generally blackened
with age and use. It may be worn during the soul-catching ceremony,
but not during attendance on the recently deceased. This use of a
mask is not known to us among any other of the peoples (Pl. 151).

The medicine man of the Ibans is known as MANANG; the MANANGS are
more numerous than the DAYONGS of the Kayans; they are more strictly
professional in the sense that they do but little other work, depending
chiefly on what they can earn by their treatment of disease and by
other ways of practising upon the superstitions of their fellows. They
generally work in groups of three or four, or more in cases of serious
illness, and, with the imitativeness and disregard for tradition
characteristic of the IBAN, they have developed a great variety of
procedures,[151] into most of which the element of deliberate fraud
enters to a much greater extent than into the practice of the Kayan
DAYONGS. The Sea Dayak MANANG is usually covered with skin disease
(tinea) and shirks all hard work with the other members of the village.

A peculiar and infrequent variety of Sea Dayak MANANG are the MANANG
BALI. They are men who adopt and continuously wear woman's dress
and behave in all ways like women, except that they avoid as far as
possible taking any part in the domestic labour. They claim to have
been told in dreams to adopt this mode of life; they are employed
for the same purpose as the more ordinary MANANGS, and they practise
similar methods.

Among the IBANS certain persons get a bad reputation for working harm
by magic. They are said to be cunning in sorcery (TAU TEPANG), and
these persons may properly be said to be sorcerers or witches. They are
believed to work harm in many ill-defined ways, especially to health;
but their procedures are not generally known; they probably include
poisoning, but, like the practices of our European witches in recent
times, they probably have but little existence outside the timorous
imaginations of the people. Such persons are disliked and shunned,
though not killed as they would be among Kayans or Kenyahs. They are
not professional sorcerers, I.E. their help is not called in by other
persons who wish to work evil on their enemies, for others do not dare
to do this. At the present time in Sarawak, if a man accuses another
of practising TEPANG, he is liable to be sued for libel and fined.[152]

Black Magic

The most important of the magical practices is one known and
occasionally resorted to among all the peoples for the purpose of
bringing about the death of a personal enemy. We describe the procedure
as carried out by the Sebops (Klemantans), but in all essentials the
account holds good for all or nearly all the peoples. It is not usual
to invoke the aid of any recognised magician. The man whose heart is
filled with hatred against another will retire secretly to a spot at
the edge of a PADI field, or of some other clearing, where he can see
a large expanse of sky and yet feel sure of being unobserved. Here
he sets up the BATANG PRA, a pole supported horizontally some six or
eight feet above the ground, its ends resting on two vertical poles. A
little figure of a man or woman (according to the sex of the person
aimed at), which has been carved for the purpose out of soft wood,
is fixed upright in the ground beneath the BATANG PRA. This is called
TEGULUN KALINGAI USA, which, literally translated, is "the reflected
image of the body." The operator makes a fire beside the TEGULUN,
digs a small hole in the ground, and fills it with water coloured with
ferruginous earth. This pool is called BAWANG DAAR,[153] the lake of
blood. Sitting before the TEGULUN he scans the space of sky framed by
the BATANG PRA, searching for some hawk upon the wing. As soon as he
sees a hawk within this area, he addresses it, waving in one hand a
small frayed stick, and saying, "Put fat in the mouth of So-and-So,"
and he puts a bit of pork fat into the mouth of the TEGULUN. Then
saying, "Send him to BAWANG DAAR," he immerses the TEGULUN in his pool
of reddened water; and taking it out again he thrusts into it a little
wooden spear. After this he buries the TEGULUN in a hole in the ground,
covering it with earth. (Only people who die by violence or of some
much-feared disease are normally buried in this fashion.) This done
he keeps shouting to the hawk to go to the left, at the same time
waving his stick in that direction. If the hawk passes out of the
area of operations towards the right, he knows that his attempt will
not succeed, and he desists for the time being; if it flies out to
the left he knows that his arts will prevail, and he addresses the
hawk as follows: --

USOK." (Translation runs -- "O Bali Flaki, go your way, let this man
Tama Odoh die; go and put him in the lake of blood, O Bali Flaki;
stab him in the chest, Bali Flaki, put fat of pig in his mouth that
he may die to-morrow (this is equivalent to -- let his head be taken;
for fat is always put in the mouth of the head taken in battle); let
him be killed by a falling tree, to-morrow; let him die from a wound;
let him die by the hand of his enemy, tomorrow; let him be drowned,
to-morrow; let him die of a deadly disease; let him be caught by
a crocodile; let him die of pain in the head; let him die of pain
in the chest.") It will be observed that the formula calls upon the
hawks to give effect to the malevolent wishes, so that the operation
is not one of direct magical or sympathetic action, but rather is
one by which the aid of a higher power is invoked. This feature of
the process renders it one which the strongest minded cannot pooh-pooh.

With this comprehensive curse the rite is concluded and the vengeful
man returns home and secretly observes his enemy. The latter may
become aware that magic is being worked against him through dreaming
that fat is put into his mouth; and as he is probably more or less
aware of the hatred of his enemy, it is not unlikely that such a dream
will come to him.[154] There can be no doubt that, if in this or any
other way a man learns that he has been made the object of a magical
attempt of this sort, he, in many cases, suffers in health; and it is
probable that in some cases such knowledge has proved fatal. If it is
discovered that any man has attempted to injure another in this way,
he falls into general reprobation, and, if the case can be proved
against him, heavy damages in the form of pigs, gongs, etc., may be
awarded by the house-chief.

A curse is sometimes imposed without formality, and in the heat of
the moment, in the face of their enemy. Under these circumstances
the curse is usually muttered indistinctly, and seems then to work
upon the victim all the more powerfully. The words used are similar
to those of the curse written out above.

A characteristic bit of Iban magic is the following: -- A man, angered
by finding that some one has deposited dirt in or about his property
or premises, takes a few burning sticks and, thrusting them into the
dirt, says, "Now let them suffer the pains of dysentery."

Therapeutic Magical Procedures

It was said in Chapter XIV. that the Kayans treat disease by three
distinct methods, namely, by soul-catching, by drugs and regimen,
and by extraction of the supposed cause of the trouble. This last
operation seems to fall under the head of magic and may be described
here. It is usually performed by the DAYONGS, and is applied more
particularly in cases in which localised pain is a prominent feature
of the disorder. The DAYONG comes provided with a short tube, prepared
by pushing out the core of a section of the stem of a certain plant
of the ginger family. After inquiring of the patient the locality of
his pains, he holds up the polished blade of a sword, and, gazing at
it as one seeing visions, he sings a long incantation beginning: --


The crowd of people, men and women, sitting round the central figure,
join in the BALI DAYONG, which recurs as the refrain at the end of
each verse, intoning in loud deep voices. It seems clear from the use
of the words BALI DAYONG that the whole is addressed to some superior
power; for no human DAYONG, and indeed no human being, is addressed or
spoken of with the title BALI. And it would perhaps be more correct,
therefore, to describe the address as a supplication rather than
an incantation, and the whole operation as a religious rite rather
than a magical procedure. But we are here on the disputed borderland
between magic and religion, and other features incline us to regard
the process as magical rather than religious.

During the singing of a number of verses in this way, the DAYONG seems
to become more and more distraught and unconscious of his surroundings;
and when the singing ceases he behaves in a strange manner, which
strikes the attendant crowd with awe, starting suddenly and making
strange clucking noises. Then he produces the tube mentioned above,
and pressing one end upon the skin of the part indicated by the
patient as the seat of the pain, he sucks strongly, and, presently
withdrawing it, he blows out of it on to his palm a small black
pellet, which moves mysteriously upon his hand as he exhibits it
to the patient and his friends as the cause of the pain; and if the
patient has complained of more than one seat of pain, the operation
is repeated. It only remains for the DAYONG to return gradually with
some violent gestures and contortions to his normal state, and to
receive his fee, which properly consists of the sword used by him
in the ceremony, and a live fowl. The whole procedure is very well
adapted to secure therapeutic effects by suggestion. The singing and
the atmosphere of awe engendered by the DAYONG'S reputation and his
uncanny behaviour prepare the patient, the suction applied through the
tube gives him the impression that something is being drawn through
his skin, and the skilful production of the mysterious black pellet
completes the suggestive process, under the influence of which, no
doubt, many an ache or pain has suddenly disappeared. On one occasion,
one of us being a little indisposed in a Klemantan house, we made an
opportunity to examine the methods of the DAYONG a little more closely
than is usually possible, by inviting one to undertake the extraction
of his pains. We were then able to realise more vividly the suggestive
force of the procedure, and to see that the black pellets were bits of
dark beeswax which were carried upon the finger-nails of the DAYONG,
and surreptitiously introduced by him into his mouth as they were
required for exhibition after being blown through the tube; we could
see also that the mysterious movements of the pellets upon his palm
were produced by the help of short fine hairs protruding from it. It
seems impossible to deny the presence of a certain element of fraud in
this procedure, but we think that it would be hasty and uncharitable
to assert that the DAYONG'S attitude is wholly one of fraud; we
must remember that our most orthodox medical practitioners accord a
legitimate place in their armamentarium to MISTURA RUBRA (solution of
burnt sugar) and to similar aids whose operation is purely suggestive.

Most of the coastwise tribes seek to drive away epidemic disease by
the following procedure: -- One or more rough human images are carved
from the pith of the sago palm and placed on a small raft or boat,
or full-rigged Malay ship, together with rice and other food carefully
prepared. The boat is decorated with ribbons of the leaves and with the
blossoms of the areca palm, and allowed to float out to sea with the
ebb-tide in the belief or hope that it will carry the sickness with it.

Among the Ibans, if a man has deceived people in a serious matter by
means of a malicious lie, and if the untruth is discovered, one of
the deceived party takes a stick and throws it down at some spot by
which people are constantly passing, saying in the presence of others,
"Let any one who does not add to this liar's heap (TUGONG BULA) suffer
from pains in the head." Then others do likewise, and the nature of
the growing heap becoming known, every passer-by throws a stick upon
it lest he should suffer pains. In this way the heap grows until it
attains a large size, in some cases that of a small haystack, and,
being known by the name of the liar, is a cause of great shame to him.

When any man has his hair cut or shaved, he sees that the hair cut
off is burnt or otherwise carefully disposed of. This is common to all
the Borneans. It would seem that this is not prompted by fear of any
definite harm, nor is there, so far as we know, any recognised way
of using the hair cut off to work injury to its former owner. The
custom seems rather to be due to the fact that shields and swords
are decorated with the hair of enemies by Kenyahs and others;
therefore it is felt that to use a man's hair for this purpose is
almost equivalent to taking his head; and it is well to guard against
this possibility. No doubt also it is vaguely felt that if the hair
of one's head should come into the possession of any other person,
that person would acquire some indefinable power over one.

Magical practices for the injury of enemies and rivals are more various
and frequent among the coastwise Klemantans, especially the Bisayas,
Kadayans, and Malanaus. It is probable that they have learnt much
of this from the Malays. One variety is to hang up at the edge of
a PADI field a yam or other root covered with projecting spikes of
bamboo cane. This is done openly to spoil the crop.

Another trick is to tie under a bench in the boat of one's enemy a
pebble, generally of quartz. This is supposed to make the boat so
heavy that it can only travel very slowly.


These practices involve the application of charms. Charms are
extensively used by all the peoples, least so by Kayans. In every
house is at least one bundle of charms, known as SIAP AIOH by the
Kenyahs, by whom more importance is attached to it than by any of
the other tribes. This bundle, which is the property of the whole
household or village, generally contains hair taken from the heads
that hang in the gallery; a crocodile's tooth; the blades of a few
knives that have been used in special ceremonies; a few crystals or
pebbles of strange shapes; pig's teeth of unusual shape (of both wild
and domestic pig); feathers of a fowl (these seem to be substitutes
for Bali Flaki's feathers, which they would hardly dare to touch);
stone axe-heads called the teeth of Balingo;[156] and ISANG, I.E. palm
leaves that have been put to ceremonial use (Fig. 80).

The whole bundle, blackened with the smoke and dust of years, hangs
in the gallery over the principal hearth beside the heads, usually
in a widemeshed basket. It constitutes the most precious possession
of the household, being of even greater value than the heads. No one
willingly touches or handles the SIAP, not even the chief. And when
it becomes necessary to touch the bundle, as in transferring it to
a new house, some old man is specially told off for the duty; he who
touches it brings upon himself the risk of death, for it is very PARIT
to touch it, I.E. strongly against custom and therefore dangerous.[157]
Its function seems to be to bring luck or prosperity of all kinds to
the house; without it nothing would prosper, especially in warfare.

Many individuals keep a small private bunch of SIAP, made up of various
small objects, of unusual forms, generally without any human hair
(Fig. 81). These are generally obtained through dreams. A man dreams
that something of value is to be given him, and then, if on waking
his eye falls upon a crystal of quartz, or any other slightly peculiar
object, he takes it and hangs it above his sleeping-place; when going
to bed he addresses it, saying that he wants a dream favourable to
any business he may have in hand. If such a dream comes to him, the
thing becomes SIAP; but if his dreams are inauspicious, the object
is rejected. Since no one can come in contact with another man's SIAP
without risk of injury, the inconvenience occasioned by multiplication
of SIAP bundles puts a limit to their number. Nevertheless a man who
possesses private SIAP will carry it with him attached to the sheath
of his sword, and special hooks are provided in most houses for the
hanging up of such swords (Fig. 82).

There are many instances of SIAP of specialised function. A man
specially devoted to hunting with the blowpipe will have a special
blow-pipe SIAP tied to his quiver (this is especially common among
Punans). He will dip this SIAP in the blood of every animal he kills,
so that it becomes thickly encrusted. This is thought to increase or
preserve its virtue.

Another special kind of SIAP is that which ensures a man against hurt
from firearms, through causing any gun aimed at him to miss fire.

The Ibans use personal charms which they call PENGAROH; but in
accordance with their more individualistic disposition, they have
no important charm common to the whole household corresponding to
the household SIAP of the other peoples. The objects composing the
PENGAROH are an assortment even more varied and fantastic than the
SIAP of other peoples. In many cases they are carried with small china
pots of oil, which are used to rub on the body as a universal remedy.

A curious object to be occasionally seen in some Sea Dayak houses
is the empugau. It is a blackened bundle hung in a basket among the
heads above the hearth. It is covered with the smoke and soot of ages,
and though it is generally claimed as the property of some one man who
has inherited it from his forefathers, even he knows nothing of its
history and composition, and is unwilling to examine it closely. It
is regarded by the Ibans as the head of some half-human monster. On
careful examination of several specimens we have found the EMPUGAU
to consist of a large cocoanut in its husk, tricked out with a rude
face mask having part of the fibrous husk combed out to look like
hair. The Ibans regard it with some awe, and it seems probable that
it has formerly played some part in magical procedures.

Love Charms

Love charms are used by most of the peoples, though the Kayans and
Kenyahs are exceptions, since they prefer to rely chiefly upon the
power of music and personal attractions. These charms are in almost all
cases strongly odorous substances. The Iban youth strings together
a necklace of strongly scented seed known as BUAH BALONG. This
he generally carries about with him, and, when his inclination is
directed towards some fair one, he places it under her pillow, or
endeavours to persuade her to wear it about her neck. If she accepts
it, he reckons her half won.

Klemantans, among whom love charms go by the generic name SANGKIL,
make use of a variety of charms, of which one of the most used is a
scented oil that they contrive to smuggle on to the garments or other
personal property of the woman.

Those that have had much contact with Malays make use of pieces of
paper on which they scrawl certain conventional patterns.

Charms are used by Ibans to ensure success in trapping. The trapper
carries a stick one end of which is carved to represent the human
form (Fig. 83). He uses this to measure the appropriate height of
the traps set for animals of different species.

All the peoples observe a large number of restrictions in regard to
contact with objects, especially articles of food. Some of these are
mentioned in other chapters. Here we notice a few typical instances. In
Chapter XV. we related that each of the peoples avoid certain animals;
in some cases they avoid not only killing or touching these animals,
but also even very remote relations with them: as, for example,
taking food from a vessel in which their flesh has been cooked on some
previous occasion; coming within the range of the odour of the object;
coming into a house in which there is any part of such an animal.

The evil resulting from breach of any such prohibitions generally takes
the form of wasting sickness with pains in the head, chronic cough,
dysentery, or spitting of blood. When a Kenyah has knowingly for
any reason, or unintentionally, come in contact with any one of the
forbidden objects, or if he finds himself suffering from any of these
things, and therefore suspects that he has unwittingly come under their
influence, he subjects himself to a process of purification. At break
of day he descends, with other members of his family, to the brink of
the river provided with a chicken, a sword-blade, two frayed sticks,
and a length of spiky vine known as ATAT. This latter is bent into
the form of a ring, within which he takes his stand and awaits the
appearance of Isit (the spider hunter -- one of the omen-birds). He
calls it by name, Bali Isit; and as soon as Isit calls in reply,
he pours out a long-winded address, charging him to convey to Bali
Penyalong his prayer for recovery or protection. Then he snips off
the head of the chicken, and wipes some of its blood on the frayed
sticks and on the ring. The ring, with the chicken and the frayed
sticks, are then lifted above his head by his attendants, and water is
poured upon them from a bamboo, so that it drips from them on to his
head. Eight times the ring is lifted up, and each time the pouring out
of the water is repeated. Then, standing on the blade of the sword,
he again addresses the omen-bird as before. This completes the rite,
which is known as LEMAWA.

A similar rite of purification is practised by most of the other
peoples. In some cases the principal feature of the rite of
purification is being spat upon by the chief.

It may be broadly said that all these peoples are constantly on the
alert to provide against unknown dangers; that, having no definite
theories of causation, they are apt to accept every hint of danger
or hurtful influence suggested by the attributes and relations of
things, and to seek to avoid these influences or to ward them off
or counteract them by every means that in any way suggests itself to
their minds as possibly efficacious.

Although the Kayans regard a madman as possessed by an evil spirit,
they seem to have no traditional methods of casting out the spirit;
but some of the Klemantans practise a rite of exorcism; this varies
in detail from tribe to tribe, and attains the greatest elaboration
among the Malanaus. The rite is known as BAYOH, and bears a general
resemblance to the corresponding Malay rite known as BERHANTU. The
Malanaus are Klemantans of the coast regions of Sarawak, most of
whom have recently become converted to Islam, while all of them have
been much influenced by contact with Malays. The following account is
reproduced from a paper published by one of us (C. H.) in the REVIEW
OF THE FAR EAST (Feb. 1907), to the editor of which we are indebted
for permission to make use of the paper: --

The ceremony of casting out evil spirits is of frequent occurrence
among Malanaus, and the noise of gongs and drums throughout the night,
lasting every night for sometimes a whole week, cannot fail to impress
even a casual observer.

The natives of Niah, who are Malanaus, believe in a multitude of
spirits, good and bad, great and small, important and of little
account. At the head of these is Ula Gemilang, the sea divinity,
a power who works for the good of man.[158] Adum Girang is another
spirit of the sea, as also is Raja Duan, who has power over the sun,
a spirit who is distinguished, when he appears in human form, by his
white head-cloth. Majau is said to be pre-eminently rich. Aiar Urai
Arang is said to be a small child whose mother is Aiar. Besides these
there are other powerful spirits of the sea, the land, the up-river
country, and so forth, and each is attended by innumerable slaves
and attendants of ghostly kind; they have influence of many kinds
over the dwellers in this world, some for good, others very much for
evil. Madness is caused by various evil spirits throwing themselves
into mortals, ghosts with red eyes which flash like lightning. The
"amok" devil which comes from the swamp, differs from those which
drive people to commit suicide -- these again being quite distinct
from those which cause merely harmless lunacy.

It not infrequently happens that when a woman (or more rarely a man)
is insane or is very ill, she is urged to admit that a devil has
possessed her, and to become a medicine woman. By this means she
becomes well of her complaint, and at the same time acquires the
power of helping others to cast out devils. But she is not able of
her own accord to determine whether she shall become a medicine woman
or not. For three nights she is taken through the ceremony of BAYOH,
afterwards to be described, without a rattan swing, and then for three
nights with the swing. If the indications are favourable, some three
weeks are allowed to elapse before she undergoes the final test of
five nights with the swing. The first BAYOH is to satisfy the people,
the second to appease the demon; and if her malady is cured by the
eleven nights of artificial hysteria, she is considered to have been
accepted both by men and spirits in her new role of exorciser.

As one woman expressed it, she is now "in with the demons." Even
then, however, it does not follow that she is able to see when an
evil spirit has ceased to possess a person. One old female, who had
worked at BAYOH for fifteen years, admitted that if a devil went into
herself she could turn it out, but only a more powerful woman than
herself could turn devils out of others.

Two forms of BAYOH are known to the people of Niah, but it is only
with the BAYOH SADONG that there is any need to deal here. The other
form is used by the Punans, or mixed Punans and Malanaus. If it is
supposed that some illness is due to possession by an evil spirit, it
is decided to call the medicine women and get the unwelcome visitant
to depart, though it is not considered possible in all cases to turn
a demon out of his mortal abode. Offerings of eggs and fowls to the
good spirits having proved fruitless, a day is fixed for the BAYOH,
preferably shortly after a good harvest, and the household begins its
preparations for the occasion. As powerful spirits are to be invited
to the house, the room where they are to appear is decked with a
profusion of ornaments suited to such exalted guests. Great tassels
of white shavings are hung upon the walls, a white cloth adorned with
the blossoms of the areca palm hides the rafters, and these graceful
inflorescences are spread out fanwise over the doors and among the
shavings. In one corner a hollow cone of areca blossoms and shavings
spread over a framework of rattan is suspended from a rafter; and
a model of a ship or raft is placed just outside an open window. As
the function takes place at night, candles of beeswax are set about
to give light. At the appointed time brass dishes are put on the
floor with rice of many colours -- yellow, red, and blue -- spread in
patterns of crocodiles; popcorns of rice and maize, water, and washing
utensils, boxes of betel ready for chewing, tobacco, and cigarettes,
to appease the varied appetites of the spirits invoked. just after
sundown the neighbours troop in and settle themselves round the room,
the ill-mannered pushing themselves in front. Certain of the villagers
agree to form the band. Soon the house is full of people, boys and old
men contentedly chewing and smoking, women retiring to darker parts
of the room to gossip. A person of importance will be received with
some show of civility, but without any definite ceremony. Arabian
incense, KAMANYAN, which is used nowadays because the native GARU
has too high a value for export to be consumed at home, disperses
a not unpleasant smell through the gathering. Then the fun begins,
gongs and drums are struck, and the strains of music sound through
the village. With intervals of a quarter of an hour every two hours,
the monotonous melody proceeds until seven the next morning, to be
resumed, in all probability, the next night for another twelve hours,
and perhaps maintained night after night for a whole week.

The medicine women -- one, two, or three, rarely four in number --
have collected in the middle of the room. Generally experienced by
years of performing, they are often too old to be attractive, despite
the gorgeous raiment with which they conceal their aged frames and
the hawkbells which jingle as they move. At first they collect round
the earthenware censers to warm their hands. They then begin to step
with the music and wave their arms, hissing loudly through their
teeth the while, and occasionally breaking into a whistle. After a
time they sit down and nod this way and that to the music, as though
engaged in training the muscles of the neck. But the drums and gongs go
faster, till the long hair of the woman flies round with her head. The
whistling is varied by a chant, SADONG, in an ancient language now
barely understood.

"Why do you speak? Why do you SADONG? Why are you such a long
time? As long as it takes a pinang (areca) to become old? The fruit
of the cocoanut has had time to reach maturity and drop. Come to this
country below the heavens. What do you wish? What is your desire? I
have come to heal the sick one who lies on the floor, feeble and
unable to rise, thin and shrivelled like a floating log. Have pity
from your heart and prevent my soul from parting from my skin and my
bones from failing away. This sickness is very severe and I am unable
to contend against it."

One of the women goes to the patient, who, clad in black, sits alone
on a mat, and brings her a pinang blossom to hold, covering her head
with a cloth. The unfortunate being is then brought to the hollow cone
of shavings and seated within it; it is then whirled round till the
white shreds rise like a ballet dancer's skirt. Gradually the sick
person is worked up to a frenzy, and, keeping time with the music,
the medicine women sway about and wag their heads. So the proceedings
go on, with weird fantastic dancing, nodding, howling, whistling,
chanting, for all the hours of the tropical night. Then the medicine
women are whirled round in the cone, and one by one they fall into a
faint, to be recovered by fanning with the pinang blossom. They dance
about and brush against the onlookers as though unable to control their
movements, and are only kept at a distance by finding handfuls of rice
flung in their faces. The point of giddiness and hysteria eventually
reached can only be compared with certain stages of drunkenness.

The outsider will find it difficult to detect much method in the
madness, but on more sober occasions the performers can offer
intelligible explanations of their behaviour. The account given
by an old medicine woman at Niah, and confirmed by the man who
conducts the ceremonies at the same village, shows that the part
taken by the spirits is quite as definite as the performance of the
exorcisers. Attracted by the music, the followers of the chief evil
spirits gather round the house when the BAYOH has begun, and hunt
about. These little demons ask the chief medicine woman, "Why have
you called us?" She replies, "Tell your master that I have called you
because there is a person here sick." They then go back and fetch the
more powerful spirit whom they serve. This demon comes up from the
sea to the JONG, a small ship or raft that stands behind the house
(Fig. 84), and finds his way up the rope ladder. He asks the BAYOH
woman, "Why have you called me, mother?" She answers, "I have called
you because there is a sick person here. You can help him! See whether
you can help him or not." If the demon finds the sickness beyond
his power to cure, he says, "I cannot help you; get some one else";
and the next night another one is invoked, until the evil spirit is
cast out of the patient. If for seven nights the attempt is made in
vain, the BAYOH is stopped and medicines are tried again, but with
little hope that they will do much good. One of the BAYOHS I saw at
Niah was on behalf of a slightly mad woman, who became very violent
during the performance. She was said to be mad because she had become a
Mohammedan, and it was explained that the Malanau demons had no power
over the evil spirits of Islam. The poor woman was consequently put
into stocks in her own room, and not long afterwards recovered.

When a big spirit comes into one of the medicine women, as they say,
like a flash she feels its presence, but does not see its form. If
it agrees to help, the woman goes on with the regular BAYOH, and soon
feels confident that she is able to make the patient well. She asks for
rice and other food, and spirit made from fruit, which she eats and
drinks to gratify the demon within her. She calls upon the people to
see that the viands are good, but not from any selfish motive, for it
is said that she is not aware that she is eating at all. The coloured
rice, which has been prepared, is the spirit's share, and eggs are
also given. The demon invoked to help calls out to the evil spirit
in possession of the sick person, "You stay in this craft whilst I
sit here." "If you don't wish to stay here you can go to the woods,
or your former abode." The evil spirit then goes from the patient
into the basket prepared for his reception, and is then induced or
ordered to depart by the demon in the medicine woman. What remains of
the food set apart for the spirit is scattered along the river. The
BAYOH is stopped, and thanksgiving offerings are floated out to sea
that the exertions of the supernatural powers may not have been in
vain, or these gifts may be taken into the jungle, where the hollow
cone and raft are also placed or hung from a tree.

The medicine women work for a fee, and it is likely enough that
the length of the BAYOH is influenced to some extent by their
pay. Sometimes the ceremony is most gorgeous. A rattan swing,
covered with a beautiful cloth, is provided for the women and the
patient to swing in, with a platform near at hand to receive the evil,
spirit. Sometimes Ula Gemilang himself is invoked. On these occasions
the expenditure is profuse. A box is placed in the middle of the room
with a handsome covering. The walk up the floor is covered with cloth
of gold thread. There are seven candles in seven brass sticks, seven
betel stands, and seven men carrying spears. When the god arrives,
seven people carry the umbrella over his head. If every thing is not
perfectly satisfactory in his judgment, he demands through the medicine
woman whose body he has occupied some expensive gift, and if this is
refused she may fall in a dead faint. Rice is thrown on her and she is
fanned with the pinang blossoms, but the women who attend to her only
share her fate and also become senseless. Eventually they recover, but
there is now but little hope for the patient, for Gemilang is angry. In
a despairing mood the BAYOH women then seek help from lesser powers.

Needless to say, the women bear out their part of the pantomime with
great skill, becoming "possessed" at the proper time, snatching at
the sick person's head as though to catch the evil spirit, and so
forth. It is probable that in some cases the ceremony works a cure by
suggestion. In any case the villagers have not too many occasions for
social gatherings and feasts, and since those who hold BAYOHS must
offer a good deal of hospitality to their neighbours, such meetings
in a village are exceedingly popular with all except those who wish
to go to sleep.


Myths, Legends, and Stories

Among all the peoples of Borneo a number of myths are handed on from
generation to generation by word of mouth. These are related again
and again by those who make themselves reputations as story-tellers,
especially the old men and women; and the people are never tired of
hearing them repeated, as they sit in groups about their hearths
between supper and bed-time, and especially when camping in the
jungle. The myths vary considerably in the mouths of different
story-tellers, especially of those that live in widely separated
districts; for the myths commonly have a certain amount of local
colouring. Few or none of the myths are common to all the peoples;
but those of any one people are generally known in more or less
authentic form to their neighbours.

Although many of the myths deal with such subjects as the creation of
the world, of man, of animals and plants, the discovery of fire and
agriculture, subjects of which the mythology has been incorporated
in the religious teachings of the classical and Christian worlds, the
mythology of these peoples has little relation to their religion. The
gods figure but little in the myths, and the myths are related with
little or no religious feeling, no sense of awe, and very little
sense of obligation to hand them on unchanged. They are related
in much the same spirit and on the same occasions as the animal
stories, of which also the people are fond, and they may be said to
be sustained by the purely aesthetic or literary motive, rather than
the religious or scientific motives. In fact it is not possible to
draw any sharp line between myths and fables. If it is asked, Do the
people believe the myths? no clear answer can be given; for few of
the myths have any direct bearing upon practical life, and therefore
belief in them is not brought to the test of action, the only test
that can reveal the reality of belief, or indeed differentiate belief
from merely unreflective acceptance of a story. Where such practical
bearing is not altogether wanting, we commonly see conduct regulated
in conformity with the myth or story, as in the case of the story
of the bat carrying to the creatures in the river the news of the
intention of the people to poison the water.

A certain number of the Bornean myths and legends have been published
in Mr. Ling Roth's book and elsewhere, especially those of the
Ibans. We have chosen for reproduction some representative specimens
that have not hitherto appeared in well-known publications. A few
stories that properly belong to this chapter are scattered in other
parts of this book.

We give first in a condensed form the substance of a long rambling
creation-myth current among all branches of the Kayan people. This
myth is sung in rhymed blank verse, a fact which is partly responsible
for the wealth of names occurring in it.

In the beginning there was a barren rock. On this the rains fell and
gave rise to moss, and the worms, aided by the dung-beetles, made soil
by their castings. Then a sword handle (HAUP MALAT) came down from
the sun[159] and became a large tree. From the moon came a creeper,
which hanging from the tree became mated with it through the action of
the wind.[160] From this union were born KALUBAN GAI and KALUBI ANGAI,
the first human beings, male and female. These were incomplete, lacking
the legs and lower half of their trunks, so that their entrails hung
loose and exposed. Leaves falling from the tree became the various
species of birds and winged insects, and from the fallen fruits sprang
the fourfooted beasts. Resin, oozing from the trunk of the tree, gave
rise to the domestic pig and fowl, two species which are distinguished
by their understanding of matters that remain hidden from all others,
even from human beings. The first incomplete human beings produced
PENGOK NGAI and KATIRA MUREI; the latter bore a son, BATANG UTA TATAI,
PLIBAN, and TOKONG, who became the progenitors of the various existing
peoples. ODING LAKANG is claimed as their ancestor by the Kayans,
and also by the Kenyahs and some of the Klemantan tribes.

TOKONG is claimed as ancestor by the Sebops (a tribe of Klemantans)
and by the Punans. The former attribute to him the introduction of
head hunting. The story goes that once upon a time, when TOKONG and
his people were preparing to attack a village, he was addressed by
the frog, who called out, "WONG KA KOK, TETAK BATOK." This fairly
represents the cry of this species of frog (BUFO); and TETAK BATOK
in the Sebop language means "cut through the neck." At first the
people, who hitherto had taken only the hair of their enemies to
adorn their shields, scoffed at this advice; but the frog assured them
that the taking of heads would bring them prosperity of every kind,
and demonstrated the procedure he advised by decapitating a small
frog. TOKONG therefore determined to follow the frog's advice and
carried away the heads of his enemies; this was followed immediately
by increased prosperity. As the party returned home and passed through
their fields the PADI grew very rapidly. As they entered the fields the
PADI was only up to their knees, but before they had passed through
it was full-grown with full ears. As they approached the house their
relatives came to meet them, rejoicing over various pieces of good
fortune that had befallen them. The words of the frog thus came true,
and Tokong and his people continued to follow the new practice,
and from them it was learned by others.

Although the help of the stars is not needed by the Borneans in
directing their course when travelling, since all but very short
journeys are made on the rivers, most of them are familiar with
the principal constellations, and name them in accordance with the
resemblances they discover to men, animals, and other objects. Some of
the tribes determine the arrival of the season for sowing PADI by the
observation of the stars. Thus the LONG KIPUTS (Klemantans) name the
great square of Pegasus PALAI, the PADI storehouse (these houses are
generally square); the Pleiades they call a well; and the constellation
of which Aldebaran is a member they call a pig's jaw. They measure
the altitude of a star by filling a tall bamboo vessel with water,
inclining it until it points directly to the star, and then setting
it upright again, and measuring the height at which the surface of
the water remaining in the vessel stands above its floor. Orion is
interpreted as the figure of a man, LAFAANG, in much the same way as
by Europeans; but his left arm is thought to be wanting. They tell
the following story about LAFAANG, who of course is regarded as of
their own tribe.

The Story of LAFAANG

The daughter of PALAI (the constellation Pegasus) fell in love with
a Long Kiput youth, LAFAANG by name, and invited him to ascend to
the heavens, warning him at the same time that the customs in her
celestial home were very different from those of earth. The girl
was very beautiful, and LAFAANG was not slow to find his way to her
father's house. PALAI, surprised to see this mortal visitor, enquired
of his daughter, "Who is this man, and why does he come here?" "It
is the man I wish to wed," replied the girl. The kind-hearted father
told her to give her lover food, and consented to the realisation of
her hopes. So LAFAANG took up his abode in the house of PALAI and
was wedded to his daughter. But in spite of repeated instructions,
LAFAANG found it very difficult to conform to the customs of his
adopted country. He put his food into his mouth with his fingers
instead of using a needle for the purpose, and by doing so distressed
his wife, who chid him for his disobedience to her instructions. On
the morrow of his arrival he was invited to clear a patch of jungle
for a PADI field; and his wife told him that, in order to fell a tree,
he was merely to lay the axe she gave him at the foot of the tree,
which would forthwith fall to the ground. But habit was too strong to
be controlled, and, when LAFAANG set his hand to the task, he fell
to chopping at the tree. But though he chopped with might and main
he made no impression, and his gentle spouse was horrified to see
the crudeness of his methods. On the next day he was told to watch
PALAI at work felling the trees. Squatting in the jungle he saw how
the great trees fell when PALAI merely laid the blade of the axe at
the foot of each one. This spectacle filled LAFAANG with terror and he
would have ran away, but that his wife reproached him for cowardice. On
the following day he set to work again; and once more forgetting his
lesson, he began to chop at the stems of the trees. This gross breach
of custom was punished by the fall of a tree from the patch of jungle
hard by that on which PALAI was at work; for the tree in falling cut
off LAFAANG'S left arm. Disgusted by these disagreeable incidents and
by the awkward appearance of his wife, who was now far advanced in
pregnancy, LAFAANG made up his mind to return to his own people. His
wife reproached him for his intention; but, when she could not alter
his determination, she gave him sugar-cane tops and banana roots,
previously unknown to men, and let him down to earth by means of a
long creeper. Before he reached the ground he heard the cry of his
new-born child, and begged to be allowed to go back to see him. But
his entreaties were unavailing, and weeping bitterly, he alighted on
the earth at TIKAN ORUM (a spot in the upper Baram district). Still
his disobedience was not overcome; for, although he had been told to
plant the sugar-cane and banana by merely throwing them on the ground,
he planted them carefully in the soil; and to this day a tall coarse
grass (BRU) grows on the spot. Nevertheless some sugar-cane and banana
plants grew up; but they were of an inferior quality, and such they
have remained wherever they have spread in this world. LAFAANG died
among his own people on earth, but the bright constellation that
bears his name and shape still moves across the heavens, reminding
men of his journey to the world above the sky and of the misfortunes
he suffered there.[161]

The Story of USAI

The following myth, current under several forms among the Klemantans,
accounts for a number of the geographical features of the Baram
district, in which it was told us. The story was evoked from an
old man of the Long Kiputs by a question as to his views about the
nature of the stars. He explained that the stars are holes in the
sky made by the roots of trees in the world above the sky projecting
through the floor of that world. At one time, he explained, the sky
was close to the earth, but one day USAI, a giant, when working sago
with a wooden mallet accidentally struck his mallet against the sky;
since which time the sky has been far up out of the reach of man. Our
informant, warming up with the excitement of the recital, went on to
give us the following history of USAI: --

USAI was the brother of the guardian of the shades of men. His
wife desired to have a large prawn that lived in the Baram river;
so USAI built a dam across the river at LUBOK SUAN (a spot where the
river is about 250 yards in width) and baled out the water below it,
seizing the crocodiles with his fingers and whisking them out on to
the bank. While this operation was in progress, the dam gave way;
and USAI'S wife was drowned in the sudden rush of water. In vain
he sought for his wife, weeping bitterly. Disconsolately he waded
down the river. At the mouth of the PELUTAN he wept anew, throwing
aside the crocodiles as he explored the bed of the river. At LONG
SALAI he found his wife's coat and wept again. At LONG LAMA he found
his wife's waist-cloth and gave up hope, and at TAMALA he clucked
like a hen, so great was his grief. Still he went on wading down
the river. The water, which at LONG PLUSAN was only just above his
ankles, reached his middle at the mouth of the TUTAU, and covered
all his body at the place where the Tinjar (the largest tributary)
flows into the Baram. At the mouth of the ADOI he wailed aloud,
"ADOI, ADOI!" (a sorrowful cry in common use, nearly the equivalent
of our Alas!). He began to shiver with cold, but at the mouth of the
BAKONG he wept again. When he reached LUBOK KAJAMAN he was out of his
depth (this is a part known to be very deep) and colder than ever;
but he kept on, and presently the water reached only to his belly,
and when he reached the sea it came only to his knees. (There is a
shallow bar at the river mouth.) On seeing the boundless ocean, USAI
gave up the search and strode down the coast to Miri, where he lived
on charcoal and ginger. (The belief is widely held that the people of
Miri, formerly ate charcoal in large quantities.) The people of Miri
seemed to him like maggots; and they, taking him to be a great tree,
climbed up on him. When he brushed them off, he killed ten men with
each sweep of his hand. The Miri people set to work to hew down this
great tree, and blood poured from USAI'S foot as they worked. Then
USAI spoke to them, asking them what sort of creatures they might be,
and said, "Listen to my words. I am about to die. My brains are sago,
my liver is tobacco. Where my head falls there the people will have
much knowledge, where my feet lie will be the ignorant ones." Then,
his legs being cut through, he fell with a mighty crash, his head
falling towards the sea, his feet pointing up river. ("This accounts
for the fact that white men and Chinese know so many things, while
the people of Borneo are ignorant" said our informant; but this was
probably his own comment.) The Miris, of whom a thousand were killed
by the fall of USAI, have beautiful hair, because his head fell in
their district; but the other people have only such hair as grew on
USAI'S limbs. The mosquitoes that existed in the time of USAI were
as big as fowls, and their bites were terribly painful. The people
hewed them into small pieces, so that now they are the smallest of
the animals; but their bite is still painful.

The Iban Story of Simpang Impang

The following story, which is an old favourite among the Ibans (Sea
Dayaks) of the Batang Lupar, will serve to illustrate, with its many
heterogeneous features, the myth-making faculty of this imitative
and fun-loving people. It will be noticed that the story combines the
characters of a creation-myth, an animal fable, and a fairy tale: --

Once upon a time some people were looking for edible vegetables in
the jungle, when they came upon a huge python, which they took to
be a log. Sitting upon it to cut up their vegetables, they by chance
wounded it, and caused the python's blood to flow out. Recognising then
the nature of their resting-place, the people cut up the python and
began to cook its flesh. Then heavy rain began to fall, and it rained
like anything for days and days, so that all the land was covered with
water, and only the top of TIANG LAJU (the highest peak of the Batang
Lupar district) stood out above the flood. All the people and animals
were drowned except one woman, a dog, a rat, and a few other small
animals, which climbed to the top of this mountain. The woman, seeking
shelter from the rain, noticed that the dog seemed to have found a
warm place beneath a creeper. The creeper was swaying in the wind
and rubbing against a tree, and thus was warmed by the friction. The
woman, taking the hint, rubbed the creeper hard on a piece of wood,
and so for the first time produced fire. Having no husband the woman
took the creeper for her mate, and soon afterwards gave birth to a
son, who was but one-half of a human being, having one arm, one leg,
one eye, and so on. This child, SIMPANG IMPANG, whose only companions
were the animals, often complained bitterly to his mother of his
incompleteness. One day SIMPANG IMPANG discovered some PADI grain
which the rat had hidden in a hole. He spread it out to dry on a leaf,
which he put on top of a stump. On this the rat demanded the PADI back;
and when SIMPANG IMPANG refused it, he grew very angry, and swore that
he and all his race would always retaliate by taking the PADI of men
whenever they could get at it. While they were disputing, SELULAT
ANTU RIBUT, the wind-spirit, came by and scattered the PADI grains
far and wide in the jungle. SIMPANG IMBANG looked round in anger and
astonishment, and could perceive nothing but the noise of the wind. So
he set out with some of his companions to get back his corn from the
wind-spirit, or know the reason why. After wandering for some days he
came to a tree on which were many birds; they picked off its buds as
fast as the tree could push them out. SIMPANG IMPANG asked the tree to
tell him the way to the house of the wind-spirit; and the tree said,
"Oh, yes, he came this way just now, and his house is far away over
there. When you come to it, please tell him I am tired of putting out
my leaves to have them bitten off by these rascal birds, and that I
want him to come and end my miserable life by blowing me down."

SIMPANG IMPANG went on and came to a lake, which said, "Whither are
you going, friend?" And when he answered that he was going to find
the wind-spirit, the lake complained that its outlet to the river was
blocked with a lump of gold, and told him to get the wind-spirit to
blow away the obstruction. SIMPANG IMPANG promised to put in a word
for the lake, and, passing on, came to a cluster of sugar-canes and
bananas. "Whither are you going, friend?" said they. "I'm going to the
wind-spirit" he answered. "Oh! then, will you please ask him how it is
we have no branches like other trees; we should like to have branches
like them."[162] "Yes, I'll remember it," said SIMPANG IMPANG, and,
passing on, he soon came to the home of the wind-spirit. There he
heard a great noise of wind blowing, and the wind-spirit said, "What
do you want here, SIMPANG IMPANG." He answered angrily that he had
come to demand the PADI that the wind-spirit had carried away. "We'll
settle the dispute by diving" said the wind-spirit,[163] and he dived
into the water; but being only a bubble, he very soon popped up to
the surface. Then SIMPANG IMPANG called on his companion the fish
to dive for him; and when the windspirit saw that he had no chance
of coming out the winner in this ordeal, he said, "No, this is not
fair, we'll settle the matter by jumping," and he leapt right over the
house. SIMPANG IMPANG called on the swift as his substitute, and the
swift, rising from the ground, jumped right out of sight. Still the
wind-spirit would not give in. "We'll have another test; let's see who
can go through this blow-pipe"; and he went whistling through. Then
SIMPANG IMPANG did not know what to do, for none of his companions
seemed able to help him. But he had forgotten the ant, until a little
squeaky voice called out, "I can do it"; and forthwith the ant crawled
through the blow-pipe. Still the wind-spirit would not give in, and
SIMPANG IMPANG was very angry, and seizing his father, the fire-drill,
he set the windspirit's house on fire. Then at last the wind-spirit
called out that he would make compensation for the PADI he had taken
away. "But," said he, "I haven't any gongs or other things to pay
you, so I'll make you a whole man with two arms and two legs and two
eyes." SIMPANG IMPANG accepted the bargain, and was overjoyed to find
himself a whole man. Then he remembered the messages he had brought
from the tree and the lake, and the wind-spirit promised to do as
he was asked. And then SIMPANG IMPANG put to him the question of the
bamboo and of the banana plant; and the wind-spirit said, "They have
no branches because human beings are always offending against custom;
they often utter the names of their father-in-law and mother-in-law,
and sometimes they walk before them in going through the jungle;
that is why the bamboo and the banana have no branches."

Kenyah Fable of the Mouse-deer and the Tortoise

Animal fables are current among all the peoples of Borneo, and
are frequently repeated and listened to with much enjoyment; some
individuals who acquire the reputation of being good story-tellers are
frequently called upon to practise their art. Closely allied with this
enjoyment of fables is the practice of describing incidents of social
or tribal intercourse in fables, parables, or allegories, which are
made to suit the occasions and to point the appropriate moral.

Once upon a time PLANDOK (the tiny mouse-deer) and KELAP (the
water-tortoise) went out together to find fruit. They found a tree
laden with ripe fruit close by a house. "I can't climb up that tree,"
said PLANDOK, "but I'll give you a leg up, and then you can get on to
that branch." So he pushed up KELAP on to the lowermost branch. KELAP
threw down all the fruit, but then didn't know how to get down,
and called to PLANDOK for help. "Oh! get down anyway you like,"
said PLANDOK. "But I can't get down forwards and I can't get down
backwards." "Then throw yourself down," said PLANDOK, and KELAP threw
himself down and came to the ground with a great thud. The people in
the house heard the sound and said," There's a durian falling." Then
PLANDOK began to divide the fruit into heaps. "This is for me and
that's for you," he kept calling out; and every time he put some
more fruit to KELAP'S heap, he shouted louder than before. "Hello,"
said the people in the house, "there's somebody dividing something,"
and they ran out to see what was going on. PLANDOK skipped away with
his share of the fruit, and left KELAP to hide himself as best he
could under the broad leaves of a Caladium plant. The people saw
the tree stripped of its fruit, and KELAP'S tracks on the ground
soon led to the discovery of his hidingplace. "Here's the thief,"
said the people, "let's put him in the fire." "Oh yes," said KELAP,
"please put me in the fire; last time they put me in the fire they
only half did the thing, and left one side quite untouched by the
fire."[164] "0h! that won't do," said the people, "let's squeeze him
in the sugar-cane press." "Oh yes, please squeeze me in the press,"
said KELAP, "last time they put me in the press they only squeezed one
side of me."[165] "Then that won't do either," they cried, "let's throw
him into the river." "Oh! don't throw me into the river," said KELAP,
and began to weep. So they threw him into the river. KELAP swam out to
the middle of the river and, putting up his head above the surface,
called out, "That's alright, this is my home." At this the people
saw that he had got the better of them, and determined to turn the
tables by poisoning the water with TUBA.[166] The bat overheard
what they were saying, and at once flew off to KELAP, and advised
him to get out of the river. "No, I shall stay here," said KELAP,
"this is the safest place for me," and he went and stood quite still
among the big stones in the shallow water.

Presently the people began to beat out the TUBA root on the stones, and
one man, taking KELAP'S back for a stone, began to beat his TUBA upon
it. Then KELAP made his back sink lower little by little, so that the
water began to cover it. "Hello!" said the man, "the water's rising,
it's no good trying to poison the river when the water's rising." So
they went home.

The Kenyah Story of the BELIRA Fish

The BELIRA is a fish that has an extraordinary number of bones. The
following story accounts for this exceptional number of bones and,
in conjunction with the foregoing story, explains why Kenyahs, when
proposing to poison the river with TUBA in order to take the fish,
speak of their intentions only in parables.

The fish began to complain that they were so often caught by men
who poisoned the river. So they decided they must have a DAYONG who
could make rain for them[167] so as to prevent the poisoning of the
water. They asked one fish after another to become a DAYONG; but all
refused until they came to the BELIRA, who said he would do his best
to become a DAYONG and to make rain for them, if each of the other
fishes would give him a bone. They accepted the bargain and each gave
him a bone, and that is why the BELIRA has so many bones.

The Story of the Stupid Boy

The following Klemantan story illustrates the taste of the people
for the comic: --

One day SALEH and his father set out in their boat for their
farm. "Look out for logs" (I.E. floating timber), said SALEH'S
father. They had not gone very far when SALEH sings out, "I see some
timber." ,Where?" says his father. "Why, there on the bank," says
SALEH, pointing to the jungle. "Oh! you silly," says his father, "go
on." So they went on and landed, and the father, leaving SALEH to cook
some rice in the large pot, began to cut down some trees. Presently
he came back and found SALEH with the pot upside down over the fire,
and nothing cooked. "What are you at?" cries the father. "Well,"
says SALEH, "I put the pot over the fire as you told me to do, but
when I poured the water on it, it all ran into the fire and put it
out." "You stupid boy, you should have put the pot on the other way
up." But you didn't tell me so," says SALEH.

The father had chipped his axe, so he sends SALEH home to fetch
another. SALEH sets out gaily singing, the blade of the axe lying
in the bow of the boat. Soon the boat strikes a snag and overboard
goes the axe-blade. "Oh, bother!" says SALEH, "but never mind, I'll
mark the place," and he whips out his knife and cuts a notch in the
gunwale of the boat at the spot where the axe fell in. Arriving at
the landing stage before his father's house, he begins to dive into
the water to find the lost axe-head, and continues vainly seeking it
till his mother comes out to ask what he is doing. "I'm looking for
the axe that fell into the water just at this notch, as I was coming
down river," says SALEH. "Oh! you are a stupid," says his mother, and
fetches him a new axe. SALEH goes back to his father, who has found a
fruit tree. He tells SALEH to gather the fruit in his basket while he
goes on felling trees. Presently the father comes back and finds SALEH
fastened with his back to the tree by the shoulder-basket, which he has
put right round its stem, and his legs going up and down. "Hello! what
ARE you up to now?" says the father. "Why, I'm carrying away the whole
tree to save trouble," says SALEH, "and I'm watching the clouds up
there to see how fast I'm walking with this tree on my back."

A Story with a Moral

We conclude this chapter with an example of a fable which points a
moral. It is told by the Barawans of their neighbours, the Sebops
(both are Klemantan tribes), who, they say, put off every task till
the morrow.

One wet night KRA, the monkey, and RAONG, the toad, sat under a log
complaining of the cold. "KR-R-R-H" went KRA, and "Hoot-toot-toot"
went the toad. They agreed that next day they would cut down a KUMUT
tree and make themselves a coat. of its bark. In the morning the sun
shone bright and warm, and KRA gambolled in the tree-tops, while RAONG
climbed on the log and basked in the sunlight. Presently down comes KRA
and sings out, "Hello, mate! How are you getting on?" "Oh! nicely,"
says RAONG. "Well, how about that coat we were going to make?" says
KRA. "Oh! bother the coat," says RAONG, "we'll make it to-morrow;
I'm jolly warm now." So they enjoyed the sunshine all day long. But,
when night fell, it began to rain again, and again they sat under the
log complaining of the cold. "KR-R-R-H," went KRA, and "Hoot-toot-toot"
went RAONG. And again they agreed that they must cut down the KUMUT
tree and make themselves a coat of its bark. But in the morning the
sun was shining again warm and bright; and again KRA gambolled in the
tree-tops and RAONG sat basking in the sunshine; and again RAONG,
said, "Oh! bother the coat, we'll make it tomorrow." And every day
it was the same, and so to this day KRA and RAONG sit out in the rain
complaining of the cold, and crying "KR-R-R-H" and "Hoot-toot-toot."


Childhood and Youth of a Kayan

From the time that the parents of a Kayan become aware of his existence
they faithfully observe, without intermission until his appearance in
the world, certain tabus. Or, in their own language, they are MALAN
and certain things and acts are LALI for them. The belief that the
child will resemble in some degree the things which arrest the glance
of his mother while she carries him (LEMALI) is unquestioningly held
and acted upon; hence the expectant woman seeks to avoid seeing all
disagreeable and uncanny objects, more especially the Maias and the
long-nosed monkey; she observes also the tabus imposed upon sick
women in general, and besides these a number of other tabus peculiar
to her condition, most of which apply to acts or situations which
may symbolise any difficulty in delivery of the child; for example,
she must not tie knots, she must not thrust her hand into any narrow
hole to pull anything out. The tabus of the latter class are observed
by the husband even more strictly, if possible, than by the wife. The
woman must also avoid certain kinds of flesh and fish. It frequently
happens that the woman begins to crave to eat a peculiar soapy earth
(BATU KRAP), and this is generally supplied to her.

The woman will also take positive measures to ensure the prosperous
course of her pregnancy and delivery. At the quickening she sacrifices
a young pig and charges it to convey her prayer to Doh Tenangan;
and on the occurrence of any untoward incident, such as a fall, the
prayer and sacrifice are repeated. The carcases of the victims are
stuck upon poles before the house near her door, and the inevitable
feathered sticks, smeared with blood, are thrust behind a roof beam
in the gallery opposite her door.

In every Kayan house are certain elderly women (not the DAYONGS)
who have a reputation for special knowledge and skill in all matters
connected with pregnancy and childbirth. One of these is called in
at an early stage; she makes from time to time a careful examination
of the patient's abdomen and professes to secure the best position
of the child.

She has also a number of charms, which she hangs in the woman's room,
and various unguents, which she applies externally. But all these
procedures are surrounded by a veil of secrecy which we have failed
to penetrate. And, in fact, all information in regard to the processes
of childbirth is difficult to obtain, for all Kayans are very reticent
on the matter, even among themselves.

In all other respects the pregnant woman follows her ordinary mode
of life until the pains of labour begin. Then she is attended by the
wise woman and several elderly relatives or friends. She sits in
her room which is LALI to all but her attendants and her husband;
and she is hidden from the latter by a screen of mats. During the
pains she grasps and pulls on a cloth fixed to a rafter above and
before her. The pains seem to be severe, since the woman generally
groans and cries out; but the duration of labour is commonly brief,
perhaps two or three hours only. The attendants' great anxiety is lest
the child should go upward, and to prevent this they tie a cloth very
tightly round the patient about the upper part of her abdomen. During
the pains two of them press down with great force upon the uterus,
one from each side. The wise woman professes to accomplish version
by external manipulation, if she judges that the feet are about to
present. But we do not know whether her claim to so much skill is well
founded. If the after-birth does not follow immediately upon the child,
the attendants become very anxious; two of them lift up the patient,
and, if it does not soon appear, an axe-head is tied to the cord in
order to prevent its return within the body, and possibly that the
weight may hasten its extrusion. We have no reason to suppose that
any internal manipulation is attempted at this or any other stage of
labour or of pregnancy. Immediately after delivery the cord is tied
and cut across with a bamboo knife. If the child does not cry at once,
its nostrils are tickled with a feather.

The after-birth is usually buried or merely thrown away. But if
the child is born enclosed in the membranes (with a caul), they are
dried and preserved by the mother. It is said that, when dried, it
is pounded to a powder and mixed with medicines administered to the
child in later years.

If labour is unusually difficult or prolonged, or if accidents happen,
the news spreads quickly through the house; and, if the attendants
begin to fear a fatal issue, the whole household is thrown into
consternation, for death in childbirth is regarded with peculiar
horror. All the men of the house, including the chief and boys, will
flee from the house, or, if it is night, they will clamber up among
the beams of the roof and there hide in terror; and, if the worst
happens, they remain there until the woman's corpse has been taken
out of the house for burial. In such a case the burial is effected
with the utmost despatch. Old men and women, who are indifferent to
death, will undertake the work, and they expect a large fee.

The body, wrapped in a mat, is buried in a grave dug in the earth
among the tombs, instead of being put in a coffin raised on a tall
post; for the soul of the woman who dies in childbirth goes, with the
souls of those who fall in battle, or die by violence of any kind,
to Bawang Daha (the lake of blood).

If twins are born, one is chosen, generally the boy, if they are
of different sexes. The other is got rid off by exposure in the
jungle. The avowed motive for this practice (which, of course, is
rapidly passing away under the influence of the European governments)
is the desire to preserve the life of the survivor; for they hold
that his chances of life are diminished not only by the necessity of
dividing the mother's care and milk between the twins, if both survive,
but also by the sympathetic bond which they believe to exist between
twins, and which renders each of them liable to all the ills and
misfortunes that befall the other; and to Kayans the loss of a child
of some years of age is a calamity of the first magnitude, whereas
the sacrifice of one of a pair of new-born twins is hardly felt.

At the moment the child is completely born, a TAWAK or a drum
(according as it is male or female) is beaten in the gallery with
a peculiar rhythm. All members of the household (I.E. all whose
rooms are under the roof of the one long house, and who, therefore,
are under the same omens and tabus) who are within the house at this
moment have the right to a handful of salt from the parents of the
child; and all members who are not under the roof at the moment are
expected to make a present of some piece of iron to the child. This
is an ancient custom, which is no longer strictly observed, and which
seems to be undergoing a natural decay.

During the confinement of a woman, Kayans (more especially those
of the upper Rejang) sometimes perform a dance which is supposed to
facilitate delivery. It is commonly performed by a woman, a friend
or relative of the labouring woman, who takes in her arms a bundle
of cloth, which she handles like a baby while she dances, afterwards
putting it into the cradle (HAVAT) in which a child is carried on the
back. An old story relates the origin of this dance as follows. A
widow died in childbirth, and the child was given to a woman who
happened to be dancing at the time of its birth, and who afterwards
became a very influential and prosperous person.

When the delivery has been normally accomplished and all goes well,
the mother at once nurses the child; and a woman of the lower class
may resume her lighter household duties within twenty-four hours. A
woman of the upper class may remain recumbent for the most part of
several days or even weeks. For seventeen days the mother wears
threads tied round the thumbs and big toes, and during this time
she is expected to avoid heavy labour, such as farm-work and the
pounding of hadi. There seems to be no trace of any such custom as
the COUVADE, though the father observes, like the mother, certain
tabus during the early months and years of the child's life, with
diminishing strictness as the child grows older. The child also is
hedged about with tabus. The general aim of all these tabus seems to
be to establish and maintain about the child a certain atmosphere
(or, as they say, a certain odour)[168] in which alone it can
thrive. Neither father nor mother will eat or touch anything whose
properties are thought to be harmful or undesirable for the child,
E.G. such things as the skin of the timid deer (see vol. ii. p. 72),
or that of the tiger-cat; and the child himself is still more strictly
preserved from such contacts. Further, nothing used by or about the
child -- toys, garments, cradle, or beads -- must be lost, lent, sold,
or otherwise allowed to pass out of the possession of the parents;
though, if one child has thriven, its properties are preferred to all
others for the use of a younger brother or sister. It is important
also that no stranger shall handle or gaze too closely upon the child;
and when it is put down to sleep in the parents' room, the mat or
rude wooden cradle on which it lies is generally surrounded by a
rough screen. The more influential the stranger, the more is his
contact to be feared; for any such contact or notice may attract
to the infant the unwelcome and probably injurious attentions of
the TOH. For the same reason it is forbidden, or PARIT, to a child
to lie down on the spot where a chief has been sitting or where he
usually reposes. And it is a grave offence for a child to, jump over
the legs of a reclining chief; but in this case the disrespect shown
is probably the more important ground of the disapprobation incurred.

If any such contact has unwittingly occurred, or if, for example,
a Kayan mother has consented to submit an ailing child to inspection
by a European medical man, the danger incurred may be warded off
by the gift from the stranger to the child of some small article
of value. In a similar way the breach of other tabus, such as the
entering of a room which is LALI, may be rendered innocuous.

The infant is carried by the mother almost continuously during the
waking hours of its first year of life; it is generally suspended in
a sling made of wood or of basket-work, resembling in shape the baby's
swing familiar in our nurseries; the child sits on a semicircular piece
of board, its legs dependent, its knees and belly against the mother's
back, and its own back supported by the two vertical pieces of the
cradle (see Pl. 166). The mother nurses the infant in her arms during
most of her leisure moments, and she hushes it to sleep by crooning
old lullabies as she rocks it in her arms or in a cradle suspended
from a pliable stick.[169] The father hardly handles it during its
first year, but many fathers nurse and dandle the older infants for
hours together in the most affectionate manner; and, if the child's
grandfather is living, he generally becomes its devoted attendant.

About the end of its first year the infant begins to crawl and toddle
about the room and gallery, to sprawl into the hearth and eat charcoal,
and to get into all sorts of mischief in the usual way. During the
first year he lives chiefly on his mother's milk, but takes also
thick rice-water from an early age.

Towards the end of the first year the lobes of the ears are perforated,
and a ring (or, in the case of a girl, several small rings) is inserted
in each. Of childish affections of health, the commonest at this age
is yaws (FRAMBOESIA) about the mouth. Kayan mothers believe that every
child must go through this, and that one attack protects against its
recurrence; and the rareness of the disease in adults seems to bear
out this belief. Most of the children are weaned about the end of
their second year.

During the next years, until the boy is five or six years of age,
he remains always under the care of his mother. He spends the day
running about within and around the house and among the boats at
the landing-place, playing with his fellows, chasing the pigs and
fowls, and bathing in the river. The children are in the main what is
commonly called good, they cry but little, and quarrels and outbreaks
of temper are few. During the boy's third year a hole is punched
in the shell of each ear. A single blow with a bamboo punch takes
out a circular piece; into this a circular plug of wax or wood is
inserted. The girl, on the other hand, has more rings added to the
lobes of her cars, which gradually yield to the weight, and begin to
assume the desired character of slender loops. During these years the
boy normally takes the first step of his initiation as a warrior by
striking a blow at a freshly taken head, or, if need be, at an old one
(see vol. ii. p. 169).

It is at some time in the course of these years, usually not earlier
than the beginning of the child's third year, that he first receives
a name. The occasion of the rite is a general naming of all the
children of the house of suitable age; and the time is determined by
the conclusion of a successful harvest; for a general feast is made
for which much rice and BURAK are required, and these cannot be spared
in a year of poor harvest. For each child who is to be named a small
human image in soft wood is prepared. This is an effigy of Laki Pesong,
the god whose special function it is to care for the welfare of the
children. A small mat is woven and a few strips of rattan provided
for each child. Each child sits with his (or her) mother in the
gallery beside the door of their room, and the parents announce the
name they propose for the child. Then the father, or some other man,
after killing a chick or young pig, lays the image on the mat before
the child, passes one of the rattan strips beneath it, and, holding
the image firmly with a big toe on each end of it, pulls the strip
rapidly to and fro, until it is made hot by its friction against the
image, and smoke begins to rise. While this goes on, the same man,
or another, pours out a stream of words addressed to Laki Pesong,
the sense of which is a supplication for an answer to the question,
"Is this a suitable name? Will he be prosperous under it? Will he
enjoy a long life?" etc. He continues the sawing movement until the
strip breaks in two. The two pieces are then compared; if they are of
unequal length, this result is regarded as expressing the approval of
the proposed name by Laki Pesong; if they are of approximately equal
length, the god is held to have expressed his disapproval, and another
name is proposed and submitted to the same test. If disapproval is
thus expressed several times, the naming of the child is postponed
to another occasion (Pls. 53, 168).

If a name has been approved, the image, together with the knife used
in killing the pig or chicken, is wrapped up in the small mat; the
bundle, which, as well as the ceremony, is called PUSA, is thrust
behind the rafters of the gallery opposite the door of the child's
room, to remain there as a memento of the naming.

When the naming is accomplished a general feast begins, the parents
of the newly named children contributing the chief part of the good
things; and a number of specially invited guests may participate.

The name so given at this ceremony is borne until the child becomes a
parent; when he resigns it in favour of the name given to his child
with the title Taman (= father) prefixed (or Tinan in the case of
a woman).

Among the Kayans of the upper Rejang the naming ceremonies differ
widely from those described above, and are even more elaborate. The
following description was given us by Laki Bo, a Kayan PENGHULU.[170]
A child is named sometime between its third month and the end of
its second year, the date depending partly on the father's capacity
to afford the expenses incidental to the ceremony. The father and
his friends obtain specimens of all the edible animals and fish,
and after drying them over the fire, set them up in his room in
attitudes as lifelike as possible. He procures also the leaves of a
species of banana tree which bears very large horn-like fruit, known
as PUTI ORAN; and having procured the services of a female DAYONG,
who has a reputation for skill in naming, he calls all the friends and
relatives of the family to the feast. The DAYONG enters the room where
the child is, bearing a fowl's egg, while gongs and drums are beaten
and guns discharged. She strokes the child from forehead to navel
with the egg, calling out some name at each stroke, until she feels
that she has found a suitable name. The whole company then pretends
to fall asleep; and presently some go out into the gallery. The
DAYONG then calls upon sixteen of the women to enter the room; they
enter led by a woman who, pretending to be a fowl, clucks and crows,
and says, "Why are you all asleep here? It has been daylight for a
long time. Don't you hear me crowing? Wake up, wake up." The child,
which has been kept in its parents' cubicle during this first part
of the ceremony, is then brought into the large room, and a fowl and
small pig are slaughtered and their entrails examined. If these yield
favourable omens, the DAYONG begins to chant, invoking the protection
of good spirits for the child. Then sixteen men and sixteen women,
whose parents are still living, are sent to fetch water for the use
of the child and its mother. The feasting then begins, some person
eating on behalf of the child, if it is too young to partake of the
feast. Eight days later the DAYONG again invokes the protection of
the beneficent spirits, and the child is taken out into the gallery
and shown to all the household. Some near relative makes a cross upon
its right foot with a piece of charcoal, and the child is taken to the
door of each room to receive some small present from each roomhold. The
child must then return to its parents' room and remain there eight
days. After the next harvest a similar feast of pigs' flesh and dried
animals is made, and the name is confirmed. But if in the meantime
the child has been ill, or any other untoward event has happened,
a new name is given to it. In this case it would be usual to choose
the well-tried name of some prosperous uncle or aunt. Again the child
must be confined to its parents' room for eight days following the
feast; and after that time it is free to go where it will, or rather
wherever children are allowed to go.

From five or six years onwards the boy more and more accompanies
the men in their excursions on the river and in the jungle, and is
taught to make himself useful on these occasions, and also on the PADI
farm, where he helps in scaring pests and in other odd jobs. But he
still has much leisure, which is chiefly devoted to playing with his
fellows. Among the principal boys' games the following deserve mention:
-- Spinning of peg-tops of hard wood, usually thrown overhand, but
sometimes underhand, in a manner very similar to that of English boys,
each boy in turn striving to strike the tops of the others with his
own; this game is played about the time of PADI harvest. Simple kites
are flown. A roughly made bow with unfeathered arrow is a somewhat
rare toy. Most of the out-door games are of the nature of practice
for the chase and war, and of trials of strength and of endurance of
pain. Wrestling is perhaps the most popular sport with the older boys
and with men. Each grips his antagonist's waist-cloth at its lower edge
behind, and strives to lay him on his back (Pl. 169). Throwing mock
spears at the domestic pigs or goats, and thrusting a spear through a
bounding hoop, afford practice for sport and war. Running games like
prisoner's base, and diving and swimming games, are also played. All
these boys' games are but little organised, and the competitive
motive is not very strongly operative; there are few set rules,
and but little scope for, training in leadership and subordination
is afforded by them.

In the house less active games are played. In one of the most popular
of these a number of children squat in a ring upon the floor; one
takes a glowing ember from a hearth, and passes it on to his neighbour,
who in turn passes it on as quickly as possible. In this way it goes
round and round the ring until the last spark of fire goes out. He or
she who holds it at that moment is then dubbed ABAN LALU or BALU DOH
(=widower Lalu or widow Doh).

Pets, in the form of birds and the smaller mammals, especially
hornbills, parrokeets, squirrels, porcupines, are kept in wicker cages.

About the age of ten years the Kayan boy begins to wear a waist-cloth
-- his first garment -- his sister having assumed the apron some two or
three years earlier; we are not aware of any ceremony connected with
this. From this time onward the boy begins to accompany his father on
the longer excursions of the men, especially on the long expeditions
in search of jungle produce; and on these occasions he is expected
to take an active part in the labours of the party. Participation
in such expeditions affords, perhaps, the most important part of his
education. There is little or no attempt made to impart instruction to
the children, whether moral or other, but they fall naturally under the
spell of custom and public opinion; and they absorb the lore, legends,
myths, and traditions of their tribe, while listening to their elders
as they discuss the affairs of the household and of their neighbours
in the long evening talks. They learn also the prohibitions and
tabus by being constantly checked; a sharp word generally suffices to
secure obedience. Punishments are almost unknown, especially physical
punishments; though in extreme cases of disobedience the child's ear
may be tweaked, while it is asked if it is deaf. A sound scolding also
is not infrequent, and an incorrigible offender, especially if his
conduct has been offensive to persons outside his family, may be haled
before the chief, who rates him soundly, and who may, in a more serious
case, award compensation to be paid by the delinquent's father. But in
the main the Spencerian method of training is followed. A parent warns
his child of the ill effects that may be expected from the line of
behaviour he is taking, and when those effects are realised, he says,
"Well, what did I tell you?" and adds a grunt of withering contempt.

The growth of the children in wisdom and morality is aided also by the
hearing from the lips of their elders wise saws and ancient maxims that
embody the experience of their forefathers, many of which are possibly
of Malay origin. A few of these seem worthy of citation here: --

"Never mind a drop or two so long as you don't spill the whole."

"Better white bones than white eyes" (which means -- that death is
preferable to shame).

"If you haven't a rattan do the best you can with a creeper."

It is difficult to say exactly at what age puberty begins with the
youths. The girls mostly begin their courses in the fourteenth or
fifteenth year. By this time the girl of the better class has the lobes
of her ears distended to form loops, which allow her heavy ear-rings
to reach to her collar-bone or even lower, and she is far advanced
towards completion of her tatu on thighs, feet, hands, and forearms
(see Chap. XII.). The process is begun at about the tenth year, and is
continued from time to time, only a small area being covered at each
bout, owing to the pain of the operation and the ensuing inflammation
and discomfort.

The boys begin at about fifteen years, or rather earlier, to assert
their independence, by clubbing together with those of their own
age, and taking up their sleeping quarters with the bachelors in the
gallery. At an earlier age the children have picked up a number of
songs and spontaneously sing them in groups, but now they begin to
develop their powers of musical. expression by practising with the
KELURI, Jew's harp, drum and TAWAK.

Of these instruments the first is the most used, especially by the
youths. It is a rude form of the bagpipes. The KELURI consists of
a dried gourd which has the shape of an oval flask with a long neck
(Fig. 85). The closed ends of a bundle of six narrow bamboo pipes are
inserted in the body of the gourd through a hole cut in its wall,
and are fixed hermetically with wax. Their free ends are open, and
each pipe has a small lateral hole or stop at a carefully determined
distance from the open end. The artist blows through the neck of
the gourd, and the air enters the base of each pipe by an oblong
aperture which is filled by a vibrating tongue or reed; this is
formed by shaving away the wall of the bamboo till it is very thin,
and then cutting through it round three sides of the oblong; it is
weighted with a piece of wax. The holes are stopped by the fingers,
3ach pipe emitting its note only when its hole is stopped. The physical
principles involved are obscure to us. Varieties of this instrument
are made by all the tribes of Borneo as well as by many other peoples
of the far East (Pl. 70).

The bamboo harp is similar to that made and used by the Punans (see
Fig. 86); the SAPEH is a two-stringed instrument of the banjo order;
the strings are thin strips of rattan; the whole stem and body are
carved out of a single block of hard wood (see Pl. 170 and Fig. 20).

Some of the girls learn to execute a solo dance, which consists largely
in slow graceful movements of the arms and hands (Pl. 170). The bigger
boys are taught to take part in the dance in which the return from
the warpath is dramatically represented. This is a musical march
rather than a dance. A party of young men in full war-dress form up
in single line; the leader, and perhaps two or three others, play the
battle march on the KELURI. The line advances slowly up the gallery,
each man turning half about at every third step, the even numbers
turning to the one hand, the odd to the other hand, alternately,
and all stamping together as they complete the turn at each third
step. The turning to right and left symbolises the alert guarding of
the heads which are supposed to be carried by the victorious warriors.

A more violent display of warlike feeling is given in the war-dance
which is executed by one or two warriors only. The youth, in full
panoply of war, and brandishing a PARANG and shield, goes through
the movements of a single combat with some fanciful exaggeration
(Pl. 171). He crouches beneath his shield, and springs violently hither
and thither, emitting piercing yells of defiance and rage, cutting and
striking at his imaginary foe or his partner in the dance. But it is
characteristic of the Kayans that neither in this dance nor in actual
practice in fencing do they attempt to strike one another. The boy,
besides watching these martial displays, is instructed in the arts
of striking, parrying, and shielding by the older men, who strike
at him with a stick but arrest the blow before it goes home. And we
have found it impossible to introduce among them a more realistic
mode of playful fencing. The ground of this reluctance actually to
strike one another in fencing is probably their strong feeling for
symbolism and the prevailing tendency to believe that the symbolical
art brings about that which it symbolises. In part also it is due
to the fact that to draw the blood of any member of the household is
LALI and involves the penalty of a fine.[171]

The youth goes through no elaborate rite of initiation to manhood;
and, to the best of our knowledge, there exists no body of secret
knowledge or of tradition or rites shared in only by the adult men,
to participation in which he might be admitted in the course of such
a rite. The only rite that is required to qualify him for taking
his place as a full-fledged member of the community is the second
occasion on which he strikes at the heads taken in battle. We have
seen that he performs this ceremonial act for the first time when
still of tender age. The age at which he repeats it depends in part
upon the occurrence of an opportunity; it commonly falls between his
eighth and fifteenth year. If in a house there is a number of big
lads who have not performed this rite, owing to no heads having been
taken for some years, a head may be borrowed for the purpose from
a friendly household; and in this case the borrowed head is brought
into the house with all the pomp and ceremony of successful war.

As the returning war-party approaches the village, the boys who are to
take part in the rite are marshalled before the house by a master of
the ceremonies. He kills a fowl and thrusts a sharpened stake right
through it, so that the point projects from its beak, and slashes
the carcase into three pieces, one for the adults of the house, one
for the boys, and one for the infants. He then takes a short bamboo
knife, and a bunch of ISANG leaves, and, after making a short address
to the boys, ties a band of ISANG round the wrist of each of them,
and, diluting the blood of the fowl with water, smears some of the
mixture on each boy's wrist-band. He puts a handful of rice on a
burning log and gives a grain of it to each of the boys to eat.

Some old man of the house goes down to the river to meet the returning
war-party and brings up the head (or one of the heads) and holds
it out, while the master of ceremonies, holding the portion of the
fowl's carcase assigned to the boys, leads up each boy in turn to
strike at the head with a sword. The boys then go down to the river;
and, while they bathe, a bunch of ISANG with which the head has been
decorated is waved over them. During the feasting which follows the
boys may eat only twice a day. No youth may join a war-party until he
has taken part in this rite. The boys are with few or no exceptions
keen to go out to war and therefore they like to go through this
ceremony at the earliest permissible opportunity.

When the youth begins to feel strongly the attraction of the other
sex, he finds opportunities of paying visits, with a few companions,
in friendly houses. It is then said in his own house that he has gone
"to seek tobacco," a phrase which is well understood to mean that he
has gone to seek female companionship.[172]

We must not pass over without mention a peculiar mutilation which
is practised by most of the Kayan youths as they approach manhood,
namely, the transverse perforation of the GLANS PENIS and the insertion
of a short rod of polished bone or hard wood.

A youth of average presentability will usually succeed in becoming the
accepted lover of some girl in his own or another house (cp. Chap. V.);
and though he may engage himself in this way with two or three girls
in turn before deciding to "settle down," he is usually not much over
twenty years of age when he becomes accepted as the future husband
of a girl some years his junior. A Kayan youth who has rendered
pregnant a girl with whom he has kept company can be relied upon
to acknowledge his responsibility and to marry her before her time
comes. In general it may be said that the rite of marriage does not
mark so complete a change in the recognised relations of the young
couple as with ourselves, except perhaps in those parts of this country
where "handfasting" is recognised as customary and regular. A time is
appointed for the wedding, generally shortly after the completion of
the padi-harvest; but this date is liable to be repeatedly postponed
to the following year by the occurrence of various events which are
regarded as of evil omen and as foretelling the early death of one of
the couple if they should persist in going through the ceremony. Such
omens are hardly ever disregarded; not even if the girl is far advanced
in pregnancy.[173] In the latter case the girl does not incur the odium
that attaches to the production of bastard offspring (see Chap. XX.);
she is treated as a married woman would be, and her child is regarded
as legitimate.

We describe in the following paragraphs the wedding of the son of an
influential Kayan chief to the daughter of the chief of another house
of the same village, such as we have had occasion to assist at. The
weddings of couples of less exalted station are correspondingly less
elaborate in all particulars.

When the appointed time draws near, the bridegroom sends a trusted
friend (his "best man") to open negotiations with the bride's
parents. The emissary carries with him a number of presents whose value
accords with the status and wealth of the bridegroom's parents. For
some time the fiction is maintained that the object of his visit is
not even suspected by the family, who make enquiries into the nature
of his business. After some fencing he comes to the point and asks
on behalf of his friend for a definite date at which he may marry the
daughter. The parents raise objections and difficulties of all sorts,
and perhaps nothing is settled until a second or third visit. If the
parents accept the proposal, the best man hands to them five sets
each of sixteen beads, the beads of each set being of uniform shape
and colour, namely (1) small yellow beads (UTEH); (2) black beads
(MEDAK); (3) a set known as HABARANI which may not be worn by the bride
before the naming of her first child; (4) light blue beads (KRUTANG);
(5) dark blue beads (TOBI). Each of these sets of beads is held to
ensure to the bride the enjoyment of some moral good. The girl also
sends a string of beads to her lover by the hand of his best man,
and at last the date is fixed, due regard being paid to the phases
of the moon; new moon is considered the most favourable time of the
month. The importance ascribed to the phase of the moon seems to arise
from the fact that the shape of the half-moon suggests the state of
pregnancy. Tally is kept by both parties of the date agreed upon. On
two long strips of rattan an equal number of knots is tied. Each party
keeps one of these tallies (often it is carried tied below the knee)
and cuts off one knot each morning; when the last knot alone remains,
the appointed day is at hand.

The parties on both sides invite the attendance of their friends
and relatives, who crowd the gallery of the bride's house. Early in
the morning the bridegroom arrives with his best man and a party of
young friends in full war-dress; they land from a boat even though
they have come but a few yards by water. They march up to the house,
some of them carrying large brass gongs; ascending the ladder, they
lay the gongs down the gallery from the head of the ladder towards
the door of the bride's room at such intervals that the bride can
step from one to another. It is understood that these gongs become the
property of the bride and her parents. Others of the bridegroom's band
carry other articles of value, and when the party reaches the door
of the bride's room, they parley with her parents and friends who
are gathered in the room, displaying and offering these objects to
the defenders of the room as inducements to admit them. They strive
also to push open the door. Presently the men of the defending party
make a sortie from the room fully armed, and repel the attackers
with much show of violence, but without bloodshed. After this sham
fight has been repeated, perhaps several times, the bridegroom and
his supporters are at last admitted to the room, and they rush in,
only to find, perhaps, that the coy maiden has slipped away through
the small door which generally gives access to a neighbouring room. The
impatient bridegroom cannot obtain information as to her whereabouts,
and so he and his men sit down in the room and accept the proffered
cigarettes. Presently the bride relents and returns to her parents'
room accompanied by a bevy of her girl friends. But the bridegroom
takes no notice of her entry. The inevitable pig meanwhile has been
laid in the gallery, together with a few gifts for the DAYONG who is
to read its liver. Here the final steps of the bargaining are conducted
by the friends of the bridegroom. (It is impossible to say in each case
how far this bargaining is genuine and how far the terms of the bargain
have been arranged beforehand.) More gongs are added to the row upon
the floor, chiefly by the friends invited by the bridegroom, who thus
make their wedding gifts, perhaps until the row extends to the door of
the bride's room. The pig is then killed and its liver examined; and,
if necessary, this is repeated with another and another pig, until one
whose liver permits of favourable interpretation is found. (A series
of bad livers would lead to postponement.) The DAYONG then sprinkles
pig's blood and water from a gong upon all the assembly, invoking the
blessing of the gods upon the young couple, asking for them long life
and many children. Then the bride and bridegroom walk up and down
the row of gongs eight times, stepping only upon the metal. In some
cases the bridegroom descends to his boat at the landing-stage on
each of these eight excursions, thus showing that he is free to come
and go as he pleases and has no entanglements. In this degenerate
age the ceremony terminates with this act, but for the feasting and
speech-making which fill up the evening hours. But in the old days,
as we are credibly informed by those who have been eye-witnesses,
the bride descended with the groom and his party to his boat and was
then carried off at full speed, pursued by several boat-loads of her
friends. The fleeing party would then check the pursuit by throwing
out on to the bank every article of value still remaining among them;
each article in turn would be snapped up by the pursuers, who then,
having thus resisted to the last and extorted the highest possible
price from the bridegroom, would allow the happy pair to console each
other in peace for the many trials they had had to endure.

It may seem difficult to reconcile the form of the marriage ceremony
(involving as it does a blending of symbolical capture with actual
purchase) with the fact that, in accordance with the custom almost
universally followed among Kayans, the bridegroom becomes a member
of the room of his father-in-law and remains there for some years
before carrying off his wife to his own house. But we think this latter
practice, which in some quarters has been regarded as a survival from a
matriarchal organisation of society, is a recently introduced custom,
which has come rapidly into favour as a means by which the bridegroom
and his friends avoid a part of the expense involved in the older form
of marriage. For the residence for a period of years of the young
couple in the house and room of the wife's parents is made a part
of the marriage contract. If the bride is the only child of a chief,
her husband may remain permanently in her home and succeed her father
as chief. But in most cases the couple migrates to the husband's house
after a few years, generally on the occasion of the building of a new
house or on the death of his father, both of which events afford him
the opportunity of becoming head of a room and thus taking rank as,
and assuming the full responsibilities of, a PATER FAMILIAS.

The marriage ceremonies of the Kenyahs and Klemantans are similar
but less elaborate. But the Sea Dayak ceremony is different. A feast
is made in the house of the girl's parents. The bridegroom makes no
considerable gifts to the parents of the bride, though he is generally
expected to become a member of their household for the first few years
of his married life. The principal feature of the ceremony is the
splitting open of a PINANG (the seed of the areca palm) during the
feast, in the presence of the young couple and their relatives. The
two halves are examined for signs of decay or imperfection; and if
there are none, the marriage is regarded as approved. A live fowl is
waved over the couple by the chief of the house as he says, "Make
them prosperous, make them happy, give them long life, make them
wealthy, etc. etc." The phrases conform to a conventional pattern,
but each orator modifies and adapts them freely. The words seemed to
be addressed to the fowl, and it seems impossible to discover in the
Iban mind any conception of a higher power behind or beyond the fowl,
though we may suspect that in a vague way the live fowl symbolises
or represents Life in general or the power behind Nature (Pl. 173).

Few or no Kayans can state their age without going through some
preliminary calculations, and even then their statements are apt to
be vague and uncertain. A Kayan mother can generally work out the
age of each of her children on request. She puts down in a row bits
of leaf or stick, one for each year, working back from the present,
and recalling each year by the name of the place where the PADI crop
of that year was raised. When she reaches back to, the year of the
birth of any one of her children, she says that the child was born
about or before or soon after this particular harvest, and by counting
the pieces of stuff laid down she then arrives at the child's age.

An elderly man can generally make no more accurate statement regarding
his age than that at the time of the great eclipse he had just
begun to wear a waist-cloth, or that when the great guns were heard
(I.E. the sound of the eruption of Krakatoa) he was just beginning
"to look for tobacco."

We mention here a statement commonly made by Kayans, which, if true,
is of some interest as reporting a curious exception to a world-wide
custom commonly regarded as directly determined by the difference of
nature between the sexes, the report, namely, that among the Kalabits
the initiative in all love-making is taken by the women. We have
no detailed information in regard to their courtship and marriage


The Nomad Hunters

In almost all parts of Borneo there are to be found hidden in
the remotest recesses of the jungles small bands of homeless nomad
hunters. All these closely resemble one another in physical characters
and in mode of life; but differences of language mark them as belonging
to several groups, of which the Punans, the Ukits, the Sians, the
Bukitans, the Lugats, and the Lisums are the best known. Hitherto we
have designated all these groups by the name Punan, which properly
belongs to the largest group only. These groups inhabit different
areas, though there is considerable overlapping; and it seems probable
that they are merely local varieties of one stock, and that their
differences are mainly the results of geographical separation and
of intercourse with, and probably some mingling of blood with, the
settled tribes of the regions inhabited by the several groups. For
their languages seem to be closely allied; but in each region the
nomads seem to have adopted many words from their settled neighbours,
with whom they trade; and instances are known to us in which the
men of the settled tribes have married women of the nomads and have
adopted their mode of life, and others in which children of nomad
women, married into Kenyah, Kayan, or other villages, have gone back
to their mothers' people.

The Punans proper are found in the central highlands wandering through
the upper parts of the basins of all the large rivers; here and there
they range into the lowlands, and in rare instances they even reach
the coast. The Ukits, on the other hand, confine themselves to the
interior, and are found chiefly in the upper parts of the basins of the
Kotei, the Rejang, the Kapuas, and Banjermasin rivers. The Bukitans
inhabit chiefly the upper basins of the rivers of Sarawak. Although
these nomads wander perpetually in the forests, moving their camp every
few weeks or months, any one group attaches itself to a particular
area, partly because they become familiar with its natural resources,
partly because they establish friendly relations with the villagers
of the region, with whom they barter jungle-produce to the advantage
of both parties. The settled tribesmen of any region find this trade
so profitable that they regard the harmless nomads with friendly
feelings, learn their language, and avoid and reprobate any harsh
treatment of them that might drive them to leave their district. In
fact they look upon them with a certain sense of proprietorship and
are jealous of their intercourse with other tribes; the nomads, in
fact, rank high among the many natural products of the jungle that
render any particular region attractive to the tribesmen.

Of all these nomad groups the Punans are the most numerous and we have
seen more of them than of any others. We therefore describe their
peculiar mode of life; but it may be understood that what we say of
them holds good in the main of the other groups of nomads with but
little modification.

From the point of view of physical development the Punans are among
the finest of the peoples of Borneo. They resemble the Kenyahs more
closely than any other tribe; that is to say, they are of very pale
yellow colour, of short stature with long body and short legs, but
otherwise well proportioned and very sturdily built with well-rounded
limbs and large muscular development. Their heads are subbrachycephalic
and inclining to be square; their features are more regular than those
of most other tribes; their most distinctive physical characters are
a relatively well-developed nasal bridge, nostrils directed so much
forward that one seems to look right into their heads through them,
and the slight greenish tinge and fine silky texture of their pale
yellow skins. The greenish tinge may be noticed in all nomad Punans,
and it is possible that the ruddier darker tint of the agricultural
peoples is largely or wholly due to their greater exposure to the sun;
for the Punan fears the broad daylight and rarely or never leaves
the deep shade of the jungle.

In fineness of texture of the skin they surpass all the other tribes,
and they seldom or never suffer from the disfiguring scaly affections
of the skin so common among the others.

The Punans are more uniform as regards their physical characters than
the other peoples; there are no distinctions of upper and lower social
strata as among the other tribes, and thus the mixture of blood,
which in the Kayan and Kenyah communities results from the adoption
of war captives into the lower class, does not occur with them;
and they present none of the wide diversities of type such as are
common in the other tribes, especially between the upper and lower
social classes. They correspond, in fact, to the relatively pure bred
upper classes of the other tribes, and present the same high standard
of physical development and vigour. It is not improbable that the
severer conditions of their mode of life contribute to maintain this
high standard.

The facial expression and the bodily attitudes of the Punans are also
characteristic. When gathered in friendly talk with strangers, even
those whom they have every reason to trust, they prefer to remain
squatting on their heels, rather than to sit down on a mat; and the
tension of their muscles, combined with the still alert watchfulness
of their faces, conveys the impression that they are ready to leap
up and flee away or to struggle for their lives at any moment. It
is doubtless this alertness of facial expression and bodily attitude
that gives the Punan something of the air of an untameable wild animal.

In spite of his distrustful expression the Punan is a likeable person,
rich in good qualities and innocent of vices. He never slays or attacks
men of other tribes wantonly; he never seeks or takes a head, for his
customs do not demand it; and he never goes upon the warpath, except
when occasionally he joins a war-party of some other tribe in order to
facilitate the avenging of blood. But he will defend himself and his
family pluckily, if he is attacked and has no choice of flight; and,
if any one has killed one of his relatives, he will seek an opportunity
of planting a poisoned dart in his body. In a case of this kind all
the Punans of a large area will aid one another in obtaining certain
information as to the identity of the offender; and any one of them
will avenge the injury to his people, if the opportunity presents
itself. They do not avenge themselves indiscriminately on all or any
member of the offender's village or family, but they will postpone
their vengeance for years, if the actual offender cannot be reached
more promptly. It seems worth while to recount a particular instance
of Punan vengeance. The Punans of the Tinjar basin were claimed by
a Sebop chief; that is to say, the chief, Jangan by name, regarded
them as under his protection and as therefore under an obligation
to trade with him and his people only. But the Pokun people in the
basin of a neighbouring river, the Balaga, a tributary of the Rejang,
also claimed similar rights over the Punans of the district. One of
these Pokuns, a man of the upper class, being angered by the adhesion
of the Punans to the chief Jangan and by their refusal to trade with
him, cut down one of them during an altercation in the jungle, leaving
him dead on the spot. The companions of the murdered man retired, and
all the Punans deserted the neighbourhood of the Pokuns. Some four
years later the Pokun community migrated to the Tinjar; and shortly
afterwards the murderer, thinking the whole matter was forgotten, set
out through the jungle with a small party to seek to trade with another
group of Punans. While on the march he was struck in the cheek (the
favourite spot for the aim of the Punan marksman) by a poisoned dart
from an unseen assailant and died within ten minutes. His companions,
remembering the incident of four years before, suspected the Punans,
but saw no trace of any.

The Punans confessed the act of vengeance to Jangan, and he
communicated the facts to the Resident of the Baram district (C. H.),
who happened to be in the neighbourhood at the time. The Pokuns
wished to take vengeance on the Punans, and they would undoubtedly
have turned out in force to hunt down and kill all the Punan men
they could find, but that the Resident forbade them to take action,
and enforced his command by threatening to burn down their houses in
their absence. It is only fair to add that the Pokun chief recognised
the justice of this prohibition and showed no resentment.

That the Punans will not allow the slaying of any one of their number
to go unavenged on the person of the slayer is well known to all
the people of the country, and this knowledge does much to give them
immunity from attack.

The Punans cultivate no crops and have no domestic animals. They live
entirely upon the wild produce of the jungle, vegetable and animal. Of
the former, sago and a form of vegetable tallow found in the seed
of a tree (SHOREA) are the most important. Animals of all kinds are
eaten, and are secured principally by the aid of the blow-pipe and
poisoned darts, in the use of which the Punans are very expert. The
Punan dwelling is merely a rude low shelter of palm leaves, supported
on sticks to form a sloping roof which keeps off the rain but very
imperfectly, and leaves the interior open on every side.[174]

A Punan community consists generally of some twenty to thirty adult men
and women, and, about the same number of children. One of the older men
is recognised as the leader or chief. He has little formally defined
authority, but rather the authority only that is naturally accorded to
age and experience and to the fuller knowledge of the tribal history
and traditions that comes with age. His sway is a very mild one; he
dispenses no substantial punishments; public opinion and tradition
seem to be the sole and sufficient sanctions of conduct among these
Arcadian bands of gentle wary wanderers. Decisions as to the movements
of the band are arrived at by open discussion, in which the leader will
exercise an influence proportioned to his reputation for knowledge
and judgment. He is mainly responsible for the reading of the omens,
and has charge of the few and simple household gods -- if that lofty
title may be given to the wooden image of a crocodile and the bundle
of charms attached to it which are always to be seen in a Punan camp.

If, in case of disagreement, one or more of the members of a band
refuses to accept the judgment of the leader and of the majority,
he, or they, will withdraw from the community together with wife and
children, to form a band which, though in the main independent of
the parent group, will usually remain in its near neighbourhood and
maintain some intercourse. Fighting between Punans, whether of the
same or of different communities, is very rare; the only instances
known to us are a few in which Punans have been incited by men of
other tribes to join in an attack on their fellows.

The members of the band are for the most part the near relatives
of the leader, brothers and sons and nephews with their wives and
children. Each man has usually one wife. We know of no instances of
polygyny amongst them; though we know of cases in which a Punan woman
has become the second wife of a man of some other tribe. On the other
hand, polyandry occurs, generally in cases in which a woman married
to an elderly man has no children by him. They desire many children,
and large families are the rule; a family with as many as eight or
nine children is no rarity.

Marriage is for life, though separation by the advice and direction
of the chief, or by desertion of the man to another community,
occurs. Sexual restraint is probably maintained at about the same
level as among the other peoples, the women being more strictly chaste
after than before marriage. The ceremony of marriage is less elaborate
than among the settled tribes. A young man will become the lover of a
girl generally of some other group than his own, and when she becomes
pregnant the marriage is celebrated. There is little or no formal
arrangement of marriages by the elders on behalf of the young people.

The ceremony of marriage consists merely in a feast in which all,
or most of, the members of the two communities take part. Speeches
are made, and the leaders exhort the young couple to industry and
to obedience to themselves, making specific mention of the principal
duties of either sex, such as collecting camphor and procuring animal
food for the man, the preparing of sago, cooking, and tending the
children for the woman.

After the ceremony, the husband joins the wife's community and
generally remains a member of it; unlike the Kayans, among whom a
husband, though he may live for some years with his wife's people,
eventually brings her to his father's village. No definite payment
is made to the parents of the bride, but some small gift, perhaps
two or three pounds of tobacco, is usually presented to them by
the bridegroom.

Adverse omens may cause the postponement of a marriage; but beyond this
there seems to be no regular method of obtaining or seeking divine
sanction for the marriage; an offering of cooked food may be made
to Bali-Penyalong, by placing it on a stake beneath the image of the
crocodile (which seems to serve as an altar) with some dedicatory words
-- for like the other peoples the Punans are voluble in speech, both
in human intercourse and in appealing to the supernatural powers. On
such occasions the words uttered usually take in part the form of a
prayer for protection from danger.

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest