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Through Central Borneo: by Carl Lumholtz

Part 3 out of 8

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made downward toward the river.

In passing over the open space along the river bank it had found its path
obstructed by some boxes, etc., that were in front of the tent opening,
and had suddenly changed its route, not noticing me, as I stood there
immovable. It thus formed a right angle about me scarcely twenty-five
centimetres distant. At first glance its shape suggested the redoubtable
king cobra, but two very conspicuous yellow parallel bands running
obliquely against each other across the flat, unusually broad head,
indicated another species, though probably of the same family.

The formidable head on its narrow neck moved rapidly from side to side; I
felt as if surrounded, and although the reptile evidently had no hostile
intentions and appeared as much surprised as I was, still, even to a
nature lover, our proximity was too close to be entirely agreeable, so I
stepped back over the snake. In doing so my foot encountered the kettle
that contained my bathing water, and the noise probably alarmed the
serpent, which rapidly glided down the little embankment, where it soon
reached the grass next to the river and disappeared. It was a magnificent
sight to watch the reptile, about two and a half metres in length, jet
black and perfectly formed, moving swiftly among the trees. The Malays
call this snake, whose venom is deadly, ular hanjalivan, and according to
the Murungs a full-grown man dies within half an hour from its bite. This
species appears to be fairly numerous here.

At times the natives here showed no disinclination to being photographed,
but they wanted wang (money) for posing. Usually I had to pay one florin
to each, or fifty cents if the hair was not long. At other times nothing
would induce them to submit to the camera. A young woman recently married
had a row with her husband one night, and the affair became very
boisterous, when suddenly they came to terms. The trouble arose through
her desire to earn some pin-money by being photographed in the act of
climbing an areca palm, a proceeding which did not meet with his approval.

There were three female blians in the kampong whom I desired to photograph
as they performed the dances connected with their office, but the
compensation they demanded was so exorbitant (two hundred florins in cash
and nine tins of rice) that we did not reach an agreement. Later in the
day they reduced their demand to thirty florins for a pig to be used at
the dancing, which proposition I also declined, the amount named being at
least six times the value of the animal, but I was more fortunate in my
dealings with the two male blians of the place, one of them a Dusun, and
succeeded in inducing them to dance for me one forenoon.

The two men wore short sarongs around their loins, the women's dress,
though somewhat shorter; otherwise they were nude except for bands, to
which numerous small metal rattles were attached, running over either
shoulder and diagonally across chest and back. After a preliminary trial,
during which one of them danced with much elan, he said: "I felt a spirit
come down in my body. This will go well." The music was provided by two
men who sat upon long drums and beat them with fervour and abandon. The
dance was a spirited movement forward and backward with peculiar steps
accompanied by the swaying of the body. The evolutions of the two dancers
were slightly different.

In October a patrouille of seventeen native soldiers and nine native
convicts, under command of a lieutenant, passed through the kampong. In
the same month in 1907 a patrouille had been killed here by the Murungs.
It must be admitted that the Dayaks had reason to be aggrieved against the
lieutenant, who had sent two Malays from Tumbang Topu to bring to him the
kapala's attractive wife--an order which was obeyed with a tragic
sequence. The following night, which the military contingent passed at the
kampong of the outraged kapala, the lieutenant and thirteen soldiers were
killed. Of course the Dayaks had to be punished; the government, however,
took the provocation into account.

The kapala's wife and a female companion demanded two florins each for
telling folklore, whereupon I expressed a wish first to hear what they
were able to tell. The companion insisted on the money first, but the
kapala's wife, who was a very nice woman, began to sing, her friend
frequently joining in the song. This was the initial prayer, without which
there could be no story-telling. She was a blian, and her way of relating
legends was to delineate stories in song form, she informed me. As there
was nobody to interpret I was reluctantly compelled to dispense with her
demonstration, although I had found it interesting to watch the strange
expression of her eyes as she sang and the trance-like appearance she
maintained. Another noticeable fact was the intense attachment of her
dogs, which centred their eyes constantly upon her and accompanied her
movements with strange guttural sounds.

With the Murungs, six teeth in the upper front jaw and six in the under
one are filed off, and there is no pain associated with the operation. The
kapala had had his teeth cut three times, first as a boy, then when he had
one child, and again when he had four children. The teeth of one of the
blians had been filed twice, once when he was a boy and again when he had
two children.

If a man has the means he is free to take four wives, who may all be
sisters if he so desires. As to the number of wives a man is allowed to
acquire, no exception is made in regard to the kapala. A brother is
permitted to marry his sister, and my informant said that the children
resulting from this union are strong; but, on the other hand, it is
forbidden for cousins to marry, and a still worse offence is for a man to
marry the mother of his wife or the sister of one's father or mother. If
that transgression has been committed the culprit must pay from one to two
hundred rupias, or if he cannot pay he must be killed with parang or
klevang (long knife). The children of such union are believed to become

When twelve years of age girls are regarded as marriageable, and sexual
relations are absolutely free until marriage; in fact, if she chooses to
have a young man share her mat it is considered by no means improper. If a
girl should be left with child and the father cannot be found she is
married to somebody else, though no man is forced to wed her. Marriage
relations are very strict and heavy fines are imposed on people at fault,
but divorces may be had provided payment is made, and a widow may remarry
if she desires to do so.

When a person dies there is much wailing, and if the deceased is a father
or mother people of the same house do not sleep for three days. The corpse
remains in the house three days, during which time a root called javau is
eaten instead of rice, babi and bananas being also permissible. The body
is washed and wrapped in white cotton cloth, bought from Malay traders,
and placed in a coffin made of iron-wood. As the coffin must not be
carried through the door, the house wall is broken open for it to pass on
its way to a cemetery in the utan. Sometimes as soon as one year
afterward, but usually much later, the coffin is opened, the bones are
cleaned with water and soap and placed in a new box of the same material
or in a gutshi, an earthen jar bought from the Chinese. The box or jar is
then deposited in a subterranean chamber made of iron-wood, called kobur
by both Malays and Murungs, where in addition are left the personal
effects of the deceased,--clothing, beads, and other ornaments,--and, if a
man, also his sumpitan, parang, axe, etc. This disposition of the bones is
accompanied by a very elaborate feast, generally called tiwah, to the
preparation of which much time is devoted.

According to a conception which is more or less general among the Dayaks,
conditions surrounding the final home of the departed soul are on the
whole similar to those existing here, but before the tiwah feast has been
observed the soul is compelled to roam about in the jungle three or four
years, or longer, until that event takes place. This elaborate ceremony is
offered by surviving relatives as an equivalent for whatever was left
behind by the deceased, whose ghost is regarded with apprehension.

Fortunately the Murungs were then preparing for such an observance at the
Bundang kampong higher up the river where I intended to visit. They were
making ready to dispose of the remains of no less a personage than the
mother of our kapala. A water-buffalo would be killed and the festival
would last for a week. In three years there would be another festal
occasion of two weeks' duration, at which a water-buffalo would again be
sacrificed, and when a second period of three years has elapsed the final
celebration of three weeks' duration will be given, with the same
sacrificial offering. Thus the occasions are seen to be of increasing
magnitude and the expenses in this case to be on a rising scale. It was
comparatively a small affair.

About a month later, when I stopped at Buntok, on the Barito, the
controleur of the district told me that an unusually great tiwah feast had
just been concluded in the neighbourhood. He had spent ten days there, the
Dayaks having erected a house for him to stay in. More than two hundred
pigs and nineteen water-buffaloes had been killed. Over three hundred
bodies, or rather remains of bodies, had previously been exhumed and
placed in forty boxes, for the accommodation of which a special house had
been constructed. These, with contents, were burned and the remains
deposited in ten receptacles made of iron-wood, those belonging to one
family being put in the same container.

Some of the Dayaks were much preoccupied with preparations for the Bundang
ceremony, which was postponed again and again. They encouraged me to
participate in the festivities, representing it as a wonderful affair. I
presented them with money to buy a sack of rice for the coming occasion,
and some of them went at once to Puruk Tjahu to purchase it. Having
overcome the usual difficulties in regard to getting prahus and men, and
Mr. Demmini having recovered from a week's illness, I was finally, early
in November, able to move on. Several people from our kampong went the
same day, and it looked as if the feast were really about to take place.

We proceeded with uneventful rapidity up-stream on a lovely day, warm but
not oppressively so, and in the afternoon arrived at Bundang, which is a
pleasant little kampong. The Dayaks here have three small houses and the
Malays have five still smaller. A big water-buffalo, which had been
brought from far away to be sacrificed at the coming ceremonial, was
grazing in a small field near by. The surrounding scenery was attractive,
having in the background a jungle-clad mountain some distance away, which
was called by the same name as the kampong, and which, in the clear air
against the blue sky, completed a charming picture. We found a primitive,
tiny pasang-grahan, inconveniently small for more than one person, and
there was hardly space on which to erect my tent.

There appeared to be more Siangs than Murungs here, the former, who are
neighbours and evidently allied to the latter, occupying the inland to the
north of the great rivers on which the Murungs are chiefly settled, part
of the Barito and the Laong. They were shy, friendly natives, and
distinguished by well-grown mustaches, an appendage I also later noted
among the Upper Katingans. The people told me that I might photograph the
arrangements incident to the feast as much as I desired, and also promised
to furnish prahus and men when I wished to leave.

The following day Mr. Demmini seemed worse than before, being unable to
sleep and without appetite. The festival was to begin in two days, but
much to my regret there seemed nothing else to do but to return to Puruk
Tjahu. The Dayaks proposed to take the sick man there if I would remain,
but he protested against this, and I decided that we should all leave the
following day. In the evening I attended the dancing of the Dayak women
around an artificial tree made up of bamboo stalks and branches so as to
form a very thick trunk. The dancing at the tiwa feast, or connected with
it, is of a different character and meaning from the general performance
which is to attract good antohs. This one is meant to give pleasure to the
departed soul. The scene was inside one of the houses, and fourteen or
fifteen different dances were performed, one of them obscene, but
presented and accepted with the same seriousness as the other varieties.
Some small girls danced extraordinarily well, and their movements were
fairylike in unaffected grace.

Enjoying the very pleasant air after the night's rain, we travelled
rapidly down-stream on the swollen river to Tumbang Marowei, where we
spent the night. There were twenty men from the kampong eager to accompany
me on my further journey, but they were swayed to and fro according to the
dictates of the kapala, who was resolutely opposed to letting other
kampongs obtain possession of us. He wanted to reserve for himself and the
kampong the advantages accruing from our need of prahus and men. To his
chagrin, in the morning there arrived a large prahu with four Murungs from
Batu Boa, who also wanted a chance at this bonanza, whereupon the kapala
began to develop schemes to harass us and to compel me to pay more.

Without any reason whatsoever, he said that only ten of the twenty men I
had engaged would be able to go. This did not frighten me much, as the
river was swollen and the current strong, so that one man in each of our
prahus would be sufficient to allow us to drift down to the nearest Malay
kampong, where I had been promised men some time before. At first I was
quite concerned about the loading of the prahus, as the natives all
exhibited a marked disinclination to work, the kapala, as a matter of
fact, having ordered a strike. However, with the ten men allowed I was
able by degrees to bring all our goods down to the river bank, whereupon
the kapala, seeing that I was not to be intimidated, permitted the rest of
the men to proceed.

It was an unpleasant affair, which was aggravated by what followed, and
was utterly at variance with my other experiences during two years among
the Dayaks. I was greatly surprised to observe that some of the men who
had been loitering near our goods on the bank of the river had begun to
carry off a number of large empty tins which had been placed there ready
for shipment. These are difficult to procure, and being very necessary for
conveying rice, salt, and other things, I had declined to give them away.
The natives had always been welcome to the small tin cans, also greatly in
favour with them. Milk and jam tins are especially in demand, and after
they have been thrown away the Dayaks invariably ask if they may have
them. As they are very dexterous in wood-work they make nicely carved
wooden covers for the tins, in which to keep tobacco or other articles.

Returning from one of many tours I had made back to the house from where
our belongings were taken, I caught sight of three Murungs running as fast
as they could, each carrying two large tins, the kapala calmly looking on.
I told him that unless they were immediately returned I should report the
matter to the government. This had the desired effect, and at his order no
less than sixteen large tins were promptly produced.

This was surprising, but as a faithful chronicler of things Bornean I feel
obliged to tell the incident, the explanation of which to a great extent
is the fact that the natives here have been too susceptible to the
demoralising Malay influence which has overcome their natural scruples
about stealing. It must be admitted that the Dayaks wherever I have been
are fond of wang (money), and they are inclined to charge high prices for
the articles they are asked to sell. They have, if you like, a childish
greed, which, however, is curbed by the influence of their religious
belief before it has carried them to the point of stealing. Under
continued Malay influence the innate longing for the possession of things
very much desired overwhelms them and conquers their scruples.

We afterward discovered that several things were missing, of no great
importance except a round black tin case containing thermometers and small
instruments, which without doubt had been appropriated by the owner of the
house where we had been staying. Two or three weeks previously he had
begged me to let him have it, as he liked it much and needed it. I said
that was impossible, but evidently he thought otherwise. Perhaps the
Murungs are more avaricious than other tribes. I was told in Puruk Tjahu
that they were greedy, and it seems also as if their scruples about
stealing are less acute than elsewhere in Borneo. The reputation of the
Dayaks for honesty is great among all who know them. As far as my
knowledge goes the Murungs are mild-mannered and polite, but not
particularly intelligent. The higher-class people, however, are
intelligent and alert, manifesting firmness and strength of mind.

It was one o'clock before we were able to start, but circumstances
favoured us, and after dark we reached the kampong at the mouth of the
Laong River, where we made ourselves quite comfortable on the landing
float, and I rejoiced at our recent escape from an unpleasant situation.
The following day we arrived at Puruk Tjahu. After a few days' stay it was
found expedient to return to Bandjermasin before starting on the proposed
expedition through Central Borneo. A small steamer belonging to the Royal
Packet Boat Company maintains fortnightly connections between the two
places, and it takes only a little over two days to go down-stream.



Having arranged various matters connected with the expedition, in the
beginning of December we made our final start from Bandjermasin in the
_Otto_, which the resident again courteously placed at my disposal. Our
party was augmented by a military escort, under command of Onder-Lieutenant
J. Van Dijl, consisting of one Javanese sergeant and six native soldiers,
most of them Javanese. At midday the surface of the water was absolutely
without a ripple, and the broad expanse of the river, ever winding in large
curves, reflected the sky and the low jungle on either side with
bewildering faithfulness. At night the stars were reflected in the water in
the same extraordinary way.

In order to investigate a report from an otherwise reliable source about
Dayaks "as white as Europeans, with coarse brown hair, and children with
blue eyes," I made a stop at Rubea, two or three hours below Muara Tewe.
It was a small and sad-looking kampong of thirteen families in many
houses. Several children were seen, a little lighter of colour than usual,
but their eyes were brown, and there was nothing specially remarkable
about them nor the rest of the people whom the kapala called from the
ladangs. Children lighter than the parents is a usual phenomenon in black
and brown races. There was, however, one four-year-old boy conspicuous for
his light hair and general blondness, who was different from the ordinary
Dayak in frame and some of his movements; he was coarsely built, with
thick limbs, big square head, and hands and feet strikingly large. There
could be no doubt about his being a half-breed, neither face nor
expression being Dayak. One hare-lipped woman and a child born blind were
observed here. Other kampongs in the inland neighbourhood, mentioned in
the same report, were not visited.

On our arrival at Puruk Tjahu the low water at first made it doubtful
whether the _Otto_ would be able to proceed further, but during the night
it rose five metres, continued rising, and changed into a swollen river,
as in springtime, carrying sticks and logs on its dirty reddish waters.
After a foggy morning the sun came out and we had an enchanting day's
journey, the movement of the ship producing a soft breeze of balmy air
after the rainy night and morning. We passed a timber float stranded on
high ground, with Malay men, women, and children who had been living there
for weeks, waiting for the water to rise again as high as where it had
left them. They evidently enjoyed the unusual sight of the steamer, and
followed us attentively.

In the afternoon we arrived at Poru, a small, oppressively warm kampong,
deserted but for an old man and one family, the others having gone to
gather rattan in the utan. This was to be our starting-point, where our
baggage would have to be put in convenient shape for travel in boat and
overland, and where we hoped it might be possible to buy prahus and obtain
men by searching the kampongs higher up the river. In this we were
disappointed, so the lieutenant went back to Puruk Tjahu, in the
neighbourhood of which are many kampongs, nearly all Malay, there as well
as here. He took with him one soldier who had proved to have an obnoxious
disease, leaving us with five for the expedition, which we deemed

On Christmas day I bought from an old Dayak a large, ripe fruit called in
Malay nangca (_artocarpus integrifolia_) of the jack fruit family. It is
very common. Before maturing it is used as an every-day vegetable, which
is boiled before eating. I was surprised to find that when fully ripe this
fruit has an agreeable flavour of banana, but its contents being sticky it
is difficult to eat. The sergeant, with the culinary ability of the
Javanese, prepared for the holiday a kind of stew, called sambil goreng,
which is made on the same principle as the Mexican variety, but decidedly
superior. Besides the meat or fish, or whatever is used as the foundation,
it contains eight ingredients and condiments, all indigenous except red
pepper and onions.

In the ladangs is cultivated the maize plant, which just then was in
condition to provide us with the coveted green corn, and carried my
thoughts to America, whence the plant came. Maize is raised on a very
limited scale, and, strange to say, higher up the river the season was
already over. At Poru we tried in vain to secure a kind of gibbon that we
heard almost daily on the other side of the river, emitting a loud cry but
different from that of the ordinary wah-wah. Rajimin described it as being
white about the head and having a pronounced kind of topknot.

As far as we had advanced up the Barito River, Malay influence was found
to be supreme. The majority of the kampongs are peopled by Malays, Dayaks
at times living in a separate section. This relation may continue at the
lower courses of the tributaries, yielding to a Dayak population at the
upper portions. In the kampongs, from our present camp, Poru, up to the
Busang tributary, the population continues to be subject to strong Malay
influence, the native tribes gradually relinquishing their customs,
beliefs, and vernacular. But back from the river on either side the Dayak
still easily holds his own.

The old kapala of Poru had an attractive eight-year-old granddaughter, of
a singularly active and enterprising disposition, who always accompanied
him. He called my attention to the fact that she wore a solid-looking gold
bracelet around each wrist, a product of the country. In the dry season
when the river is low two or three hundred Dayaks and Malays gather here
to wash gold, coming even as far as from Muara Tewe. The gold mixed with
silver is made into bracelets, wristlets, or breastplates by these

The lieutenant had been unable to secure more than sixteen men, all
Malays, which was insufficient for the six prahus we had bought. Therefore
it became necessary to travel in relays, the lieutenant waiting in Poru
until our men and prahus should return from Telok Djulo, for which kampong
the rest of us started in late December.

After considerable rain the river was high but navigable, and two days'
travel brought us to a rather attractive kampong situated on a ridge.
Rajimin accompanied by Longko, the principal one of our Malays, went out
in the evening to hunt deer, employing the approved Bornean method. With a
lamp in the bow the prahu is paddled noiselessly along the river near the
bank. Rusa, as a large species of deer are called, come to the water, and
instead of being frightened are attracted by the light. Rajimin, who was
of an emotional and nervous temperament, missed two plandoks and one rusa,
Longko reported, and when he actually killed a rusa he became so excited
that he upset the prahu.

We started before seven o'clock on a glorious morning, January first. On
the river bank some trees, which did not appear to me to be indigenous,
were covered with lovely flowers resembling hibiscus, some scarlet, some
yellow. I had my men gather a small bunch, which for several hours proved
attractive in the prosaic Malay prahu. The equatorial regions have not the
abundance of beautiful flowers that is credited to them by popular belief.
The graceful pitcher-plants (_nepenthes_) are wonderful and so are many
other extraordinary plant creations here, but they cannot be classed as
beautiful flowers in the common acceptation of the word. There are superb
flowers in Borneo, among them the finest in existence, orchids, begonias,
etc., but on account of the character of their habitats, within a dense
jungle, it is generally difficult to see them. The vast majority of
orchids are small and inconspicuous, and in hunting for magnificent ones
the best plan is to take natives along who will climb or cut down the
trees on which they grow.

On the third day the river had become narrow and shallower, and early in
the afternoon we arrived at Telok Djulo, a kampong of Ot-Danums
interspersed with Malays. It is composed of many houses, forming one side
of an irregular street, all surrounded with a low fence for the purpose of
keeping pigs out. The storehouses recalled those of the Bulungan, with
their wide wooden rings around the tops of the supporting pillars, to
prevent mice from ascending. Outside of the fence near the jungle two
water-buffaloes were always to be seen in the forenoon lying in a
mud-pool; these we were warned against as being dangerous. These Dayaks,
who are shy but very friendly, are said to have immigrated here over thirty
years ago. They are mostly of medium size, the women stocky, with thick
ankles, though otherwise their figures are quite good. The Ot-Danum men,
like the Murungs, Siangs, and Katingans, place conspicuously on the calf
of the leg a large tatu mark representing the full moon. When preparing to
be photographed, men, women, and children decorate their chests with
crudely made gold plates shaped nearly like a half moon and hanging one
above another, generally five in number. One of the blians was a Malay.

Here we had to stay two weeks, while the remainder of our baggage was
being brought up and until a new station for storing goods had been
established in the jungle higher up the river. Rajimin had an attack of
dysentery, and although his health improved he requested permission to
return, which I readily granted notwithstanding his undeniable ability in
skinning birds. He was afraid of the kihams, not a good shot, and so
liable to lose his way in the jungle that I always had to have a Dayak
accompany him. It is the drawback with all Javanese that, being
unaccustomed to these great jungles, at first they easily get lost.
Rajimin joined a few Malays in building a small float, on which they went
down the river. Several Malays aspired to succeed him as taxidermist, but
showed no aptitude. I then taught one of our Javanese soldiers who had
expressed interest in the matter. Being painstaking and also a good shot,
the new tokang burong (master of birds), the Malay designation for a
taxidermist, gave satisfactory results in due time.

One day while I was taking anthropometric measurements, to which the
Ot-Danums grudgingly submitted, one of them exhibited unusual agitation and
actually wept. Inquiring the reason, I learned that his wife had jilted
him for a Kapuas Dayak who, a couple of nights previously, when the
injured man was out hunting wild pigs for me, had taken advantage of the
husband's absence. Moreover, the night before, the rival had usurped his
place a second time, compelling the husband to go elsewhere. The incident
showed how Dayak ideas were yielding to Malay influence. He was in despair
about it, and threatened to kill the intruder as well as himself, so I
told the sergeant to strengthen the hands of the kapala. I could not
prevent the woman's disloyalty to her husband, but the new attraction
should not be allowed to stay in the house. This had the effect of making
the intruder depart a few minutes later, though he did not go far away.
The affair was settled in a most unexpected manner. The kapala being
absent, his substitute, _bonhomme mais borne_, and probably influenced by
her relatives, decided that the injured husband must pay damages f. 40
because he had vacated his room the night he went out hunting.

We procured one more prahu, but the difficulties of getting more men were
very great, one reason being that the people had already begun to cut
paddi. Though the new year so far brought us no rain, still the river of
late had begun to run high on account of precipitation at its upper
courses. High water does not always deter, but rapid rising or falling is
fraught with risk. After several days' waiting the status of the water was
considered safe, and, leaving three boatloads to be called for later, in
the middle of January, we made a start and halted at a sand slope where
the river ran narrow among low hills, two hundred metres below the first
great kiham. Malay rattan gatherers, with four prahus, were already camped
here awaiting a favourable opportunity to negotiate the kihams, and they
too were going to make the attempt next morning. As the river might rise
unexpectedly, we brought ashore only what was needed for the night.

Next day at half-past six o'clock we started, on a misty, fresh morning,
and in a few minutes were within hearing of the roar of the rapids, an
invigorating sound and an inspiring sight. The so-called Kiham Atas is one
kilometre long. The left side of the river rises perpendicularly over the
deep, narrow waters, the lower part bare, but most of it covered with
picturesque vegetation, especially conspicuous being rows of sago palms.
The prahus had to be dragged up along the opposite side between big
stones. Only our instruments were carried overland, as we walked along a
foot-path through delightful woods, and at nine o'clock the prahus had
finished the ascent.

Not long afterward we approached the first of the four big kihams which
still had to be passed and which are more difficult. Having been relieved
of their loads the prahus were hauled, one at a time, around a big
promontory situated just opposite a beautiful cascade that falls into the
river on the mountainous side. Around the promontory the water forms
treacherous currents. Above it eight or nine Malays pulled the rattan
cable, which was three times as long as usual, and when the first prahu,
one man inside, came into view from below, passing the promontory, it
unexpectedly shot out into the middle of the river, and then, in an
equally startling manner, turned into a back current. This rapidly carried
it toward an almost invisible rock where Longko, who was an old hand on
this river, had taken his stand among the waves and kept it from
foundering. The Malays were pulling the rattan as fast as they could,
running at times, but before the prahu could be hauled up to safety it
still had to pass a hidden rock some distance out. It ran against this and
made a disagreeable turn, but regained its balance.

The next one nearly turned over, and Mr. Demmini decided to take out the
kinema camera, which was got in readiness to film the picturesque scene.
In the meantime, in order to control the prahu from the side, a second
rattan rope had been tied to the following one, thereby enabling the men
to keep it from going too far out. This should have been done at the
start, but the Malays always like to take their chances. Though the
remaining prahus did not present such exciting spectacles, nevertheless
the scene was uncommonly picturesque. After nine hours of heavy work,
during most of which the men had kept running from stone to stone dragging
rattan cables, we camped on a sand-ridge that ran out as a peninsula into
the river. At one side was an inlet of calm, dark-coloured water into
which, a hundred metres away, a tributary emptied itself into a lovely
waterfall. A full moon rose over the enchanting landscape.

At half-past six in the morning we started for the next kiham, the
so-called Kiham Mudang, where we arrived an hour later. This was the most
impressive of all the rapids so far, the river flowing between narrow
confines in a steady down-grade course, which at first sight seemed
impossible of ascent. The river had fallen half a metre since the day
before, and although most kihams are easier to pass at low water, this one
was more difficult. The men, standing in water up to their arms, brought
all the luggage ashore and carried it further up the river. Next the
prahus were successfully pulled up, being kept as near land as possible
and tossed like toys on the angry waves, and pushed in and out of small
inlets between the big stones. In three hours we effected the passage and
in the afternoon arrived at Tumbang Djuloi, a rather prettily situated
kampong on a ridge along the river.

I was installed in a small house which was vacant at one end of the little
village, the greater part of which is Malay. There were two houses
belonging to Ot-Danums which I found locked with modern padlocks. Nearly
all Malays and Dayaks were at the ladangs, where they spend most of their
time, remaining over night. Coal, which is often found on the upper part
of the Barito River, may be observed in the bank of the river in a layer
two metres thick. It is of good quality, but at present cannot be utilised
on account of the formidable obstacle to transportation presented by the
kiham below.

Our Malays soon began to talk of returning, fifteen of the twenty-four men
wanting to go home. Payment having been refused until the goods left below
had been brought up, a settlement was reached and the necessary men, with
the sergeant, departed for Telok Djulo. In the meantime we began to convey
our belongings higher up the river, above the next kiham, where they were
stored in the jungle and covered with a tent cloth.

After the arrival of the luggage which had been left behind, there was a
universal clamour for returning home, the Malays professing great
disinclination to proceeding through the difficult Busang country ahead of
us. Even those from Puruk Tjahu, who had pledged themselves to continue to
the end, backed out. Though wages were raised to f. 1.50 per day, only
eight men remained. To this number we were able to add three Malays from
the kampong. One was the Mohammedan guru (priest), another a mild-tempered
Malay who always had bad luck, losing floats of rattan in the kihams, and
therefore passed under the nickname of tokang karam (master of
misfortune). The third was a strong, tall man with some Dayak blood, who
was tatued. Djobing, as he was named, belonged to a camp of rattan workers
up on the Busang, and decided to go at the last moment, no doubt utilising
the occasion as a convenient way of returning.

I was glad to see him climb down the steep embankment, carrying in one
hand a five-gallon tin, neatly painted, which had opening and cover at the
long side, to which a handle was attached. Under the other arm he had the
usual outfit of a travelling Malay, a mat, on which he slept at night and
in which were wrapped a sheet and a few pieces of light clothing. His tin
case was full of tobacco and brought forth disparaging remarks from the
lieutenant, who was chary of the precious space in the prahus.

Having successfully passed the censor Djobing was assigned to my prahu,
where he soon showed himself to be a very good man, as alert as a Dayak
and not inclined to save himself trouble. He would jump into the water up
to his neck to push and steer the prahu, or, in the fashion of the Dayaks
and the best Malays, would place his strong back under and against it to
help it off when grounded on a rock. When circumstances require quick
action such men will dive under the prahu and put their backs to it from
the other side.

There was little chance of more paddling, the prahus being poled or
dragged by rattan, and many smaller kihams were passed. We entered the
Busang River, which is barely thirty-five metres wide at its mouth,
flowing through hilly country. The water was low at that time, but is
liable to rise quickly, through rains, and as it has little opportunity
for expansion at the sides the current flows with such violence that
travel becomes impossible. The most difficult part of our journey lay
before us, and the possibility of one or two, or even three months' delay
on account of weather conditions is then taken as a matter of course by
the natives, though I trusted to have better luck than that.



Bahandang, where we arrived early in the second afternoon, is the
headquarters of some Malay rubber and rattan gatherers of the surrounding
utan. A house had been built at the conflux with the river of a small
affluent, and here lived an old Malay who was employed in receiving the
products from the workers in the field. Only his wife was present, he
having gone to Naan on the Djuloi River, but was expected to return soon.
The place is unattractive and looked abandoned. Evidently at a previous
time effort had been made to clear the jungle and to cultivate bananas and
cassavas. Among felled trees and the exuberance of a new growth of
vegetation a few straggling bananas were observable, but all the big
cassava plants had been uprooted and turned over by the wild pigs, tending
to increase the dismal look of the place. A lieutenant in charge of a
patrouille had put up a rough pasang-grahan here, where our lieutenant and
the soldiers took refuge, while I had the ground cleared near one end of
it, and there placed my tent.

Not far off stood a magnificent tree with full, straight stem, towering in
lonely solitude fifty metres above the overgrown clearing. In a straight
line up its tall trunk wooden plugs had been driven in firmly about thirty
centimetres apart. This is the way Dayaks, and Malays who have learned it
from them, climb trees to get the honey and wax of the bees' nests
suspended from the high branches. On the Barito, from the deck of the
_Otto_, I had observed similar contrivances on still taller trees of the
same kind called tapang, which are left standing when the jungle is
cleared to make ladangs.

A few days later the rest of our party arrived and, having picked up six
rubber gatherers, brought the remainder of the luggage from their camp.
Some men were then sent to bring up the goods stored in the utan below,
and on February 3 this was accomplished. An Ot-Danum from the Djuloi
River, with wife and daughter, camped here for a few days, hunting for
gold in the river soil, which is auriferous as in many other rivers of
Borneo. They told me they were glad to make sixty cents a day, and if they
were lucky the result might be two florins.

We found ourselves in the midst of the vast jungles that cover Borneo,
serving to keep the atmosphere cool and prevent air currents from
ascending in these windless tropics. We were almost exactly on the
equator, at an elevation of about 100 metres. In January there had been
little rain and in daytime the weather had been rather muggy, but with no
excessive heat to speak of, provided one's raiment is suited to the
tropics. On the last day of the month, at seven o'clock in the morning,
after a clear and beautiful night, the temperature was 72 F. (22 C.).
During the additional three weeks passed here, showers fell occasionally
and sometimes it rained all night. As a rule the days were bright, warm,
and beautiful; the few which were cloudy seemed actually chilly and made
one desire the return of the sun.

Our first task was to make arrangements for the further journey up the
Busang River to Tamaloe, a remote kampong recently formed by the
Penyahbongs on the upper part of the river. We were about to enter the
great accumulation of kihams which make travel on the Busang peculiarly
difficult. The lieutenant's hope that we might secure more men from among
the rubber gatherers was not fulfilled. The few who were present made
excuses, and as for the others, they were far away in the utan, nobody
knew where. We still had some Malays, and, always scheming for money or
advantage to themselves, they began to invent new difficulties and demand
higher wages. Although I was willing to make allowances, it was impossible
to go beyond a certain limit, because the tribes we should meet later
would demand the same payment as their predecessors had received. The old
Malay resident, who in the meantime had returned from his absence, could
offer no advice.

Finally exorbitant wages were demanded, and all wanted to return except
four. As the lieutenant had expressed his willingness to proceed to
Tamaloe in advance of the party and try to hire the necessary men there,
it was immediately decided that he should start with our four remaining
men and one soldier, while the rest of us waited here with the sergeant
and four soldiers. On February 4 the party was off, as lightly equipped as
possible, and if all went well we expected to have the necessary men
within three weeks.

On the same afternoon Djobing and three companions, who were going up to
another rattan station, Djudjang, on a path through the jungle, proposed
to me to transport some of our luggage in one of my prahus. The offer was
gladly accepted, a liberal price paid, and similar tempting conditions
offered if they and a few men, known to be at the station above, would
unite in taking all our goods up that far. The following morning they
started off.

The Malays of these regions, who are mainly from the upper part of the
Kapuas River in the western division and began to come here ten years
previously, are physically much superior to the Malays we brought, and for
work in the kihams are as fine as Dayaks. They remain here for years,
spending two or three months at a time in the utan. Djobing had been here
four years and had a wife in his native country. There are said to be 150
Malays engaged in gathering rattan, and, no doubt, also rubber, in these
vast, otherwise uninhabited upper Dusun lands.

What with the absence of natives and the scarcity of animals and birds,
the time spent here waiting was not exactly pleasant. Notwithstanding the
combined efforts of the collector, the sergeant, and one other soldier,
few specimens were brought in. Mr. Demmini, the photographer, and Mr.
Loing were afflicted with dysentery, from which they recovered in a week.

As a climax came the startling discovery that one of the two money-boxes
belonging to the expedition, containing f. 3,000 in silver, had been
stolen one night from my tent, a few feet away from the pasang-grahan.
They were both standing at one side covered with a bag, and while it was
possible for two men to carry off such a heavy box if one of them lifted
the tent wall, still the theft implied an amount of audacity and skill
with which hitherto I had not credited the Malays. The rain clattering on
the roof of the tent, and the fact that, contrary to Dutch custom, I
always extinguished my lamp at night, was in their favour. After this
occurrence the lamp at night always hung lighted outside of the tent door.
All evidence pointed to the four men from Tumbang Djuloi who recently left
us. The sergeant had noticed their prahus departing from a point lower
down than convenience would dictate, and, as a matter of fact, nobody else
could have done it. But they were gone, we were in seclusion, and there
was nobody to send anywhere.

In the middle of February we had twenty-nine men here from Tamaloe, twenty
of them Penyahbongs and the remainder Malays. The lieutenant had been
successful, and the men had only used two days in coming down with the
current. They were in charge of a Malay called Bangsul, who formerly had
been in the service of a Dutch official, and whose fortune had brought him
to distant Tamaloe, where he had acquired a dominating position over the
Penyahbongs. I wrote a report of the robbery to the captain in Puruk
Tjahu, and sent Longko to Tumbang Djuloi to deliver it to the kapala, who
was requested to forward it. There the matter ended.

I was determined that the loss, though at the time a hard blow, should not
interfere with the carrying out of my plans. By rigid economy it could, at
least partially, be offset, and besides, I felt sure that if the necessity
arose it would be possible later to secure silver from Dutch officials on
the lower Mahakam River. Bangsul and some Penyahbongs, at my request,
searched in the surrounding jungle growth and found a hole that had been
dug of the same size and shape as the stolen box, where no doubt it had
been deposited until taken on board the prahu.

The day previous to our departure Mr. Demmini again was taken ill, and in
accordance with his own wish it was decided that he should return. I let
him have Longko in command of one of the best prahus, and in time he
arrived safely in Batavia, where he had to undergo further treatment.
Longko, the Malay with the reputation for reliability, never brought back
the men and the prahu; their loss, however, was greater than mine, as
their wages, pending good behaviour, were mostly unpaid.

Shortly after their prahu had disappeared from view, on February 20, we
departed in the opposite direction. Our new crew, of Penyahbongs mostly,
who only lately have become acquainted with prahus, were not quite so
efficient as the former, but much more amiable, laughing and cracking
jokes with each other as they ran along over the rocks, pulling the rattan
ropes of the prahus. No sooner did we ascend one kiham than we arrived at
another, but they were still small. Although the day was unusually warm,
there was a refreshing coolness in the shade under the trees that grow
among the rocks along the river.

Early in the afternoon we camped at the foot of the first of twelve great
kihams which must be passed before arriving at Djudjang, the rattan
gatherers' camp. During a heavy shower a Penyahbong went into the jungle
with his sumpitan and returned with a young rusa, quarters of which he
presented to Mr. Loing and myself. Bangsul had travelled here before, and
he thought we probably would need two weeks for the journey to Djudjang
from where, under good weather conditions, three days' poling should bring
us to Tamaloe. He had once been obliged to spend nearly three months on
this trip.

We spent one day here, while all our goods were being taken on human backs
to a place some distance above the kiham. Four Malays and one Penyahbong
wanted remedies for diseases they professed to have. The latter seemed
really ill and had to be excused from work. The rest said they suffered
from demum (malaria), a word that has become an expression for most cases
of indisposition, and I gave them quinine. The natives crave the remedies
the traveller carries, which they think will do them good whether needed
or not.

Much annoyance is experienced from Malays in out-of-the-way places
presenting their ailments, real or fancied, to the traveller's attention.
The Dayaks, not being forward, are much less annoying, though equally
desirous of the white man's medicine. An Ot-Danum once wanted a cure for a
few white spots on the finger-nails. In the previous camp a Penyahbong had
consulted me for a stomach-ache and I gave him what I had at hand, a small
quantity of cholera essence much diluted in a cup of water. All the rest
insisted on having a taste of it, smacking their lips with evident relish.

Early next morning the prahus were hauled up the rapids and then loaded,
after which the journey was continued through a smiling, slightly
mountainous country, with trees hanging over the river. We actually had a
course of smooth water, and before us, near the horizon, stretched two
long ridges with flat summits falling abruptly down at either side of the
river. At two o'clock in the afternoon we reached the foot of two big
kihams, and Bangsul considered it time to camp. It must be admitted that
the work was hard and progress necessarily slow. Nevertheless, it was so
early in the day that I suggested going a little further. Soon, however,
seeing the futility of trying to bring him to my way of thinking, I began
arrangements for making camp. Better to go slowly than not to travel at
all. Close to my tent, growing on low trees, were a great number of
beautiful yellow and white orchids.

Toward sunset, Bangsul surprised me by bringing all the men to my tent. He
said they wanted to go home because they were afraid I should expect too
much of them, as they all wanted to travel plan-plan (slowly). The
Penyahbongs before me were of a decent sort, and even the Malays were a
little more gentle and honest than usual. Bangsul was "the whole thing,"
and I felt myself equal to the situation. This was his first attempt at a
strike for higher wages and came unexpectedly soon, but was quickly
settled by my offer to raise the wages for the six most useful and
strongest men.

After our baggage had been stored above the head of the kihams, and the
prahus had been taken up to the same place, we followed overland. As we
broke camp two argus pheasants flew over the utan through the mist which
the sun was trying to disperse. We walked along the stony course of the
rapids, and when the jungle now and then allowed a peep at the roaring
waters it seemed incredible that the prahus had been hauled up along the
other side. Half an hour's walk brought us to the head of the kihams where
the men were loading the prahus that were lying peacefully in still
waters. The watchmen who had slept here pointed out a tree where about
twenty argus pheasants had roosted.

Waiting for the prahus to be loaded, I sat down on one of the big stones
of the river bank to enjoy a small landscape that presented itself on the
west side of the stream. When long accustomed to the enclosing walls of
the dark jungle a change is grateful to the eye. Against the sky rose a
bold chalk cliff over 200 metres high with wooded summit, the edge fringed
with sago palms in a very decorative manner. This is one of the two ridges
we had seen at a distance; the other is higher and was passed further up
the river. From the foot of the cliff the jungle sloped steeply down
toward the water. The blue sky, a few drifting white clouds, the beautiful
light of the fresh, glorious morning, afforded moments of delight that
made one forget all the trouble encountered in getting here. It seems as
if the places least visited by men are the most attractive.

Four hornbills were flying about. They settled on the branches of a tall
dead tree that towered high above the jungle and deported themselves in
strange ways, moving busily about on the branch; after a few minutes three
of them flew away, the other remaining quietly behind. There are several
kinds of hornbills; they are peculiar birds in that the male is said to
close with mud the entrance to the nest in the hollow stem of the tree,
thus confining the female while she is sitting on her eggs. Only a small
hole is left through which he feeds her.

The great hornbill (_rhinoflax vigil_) flies high over the jungle in a
straight line and usually is heard before it is seen, so loud is the noise
made by the beating of the wings. Its clamorous call is never to be
forgotten, more startling than the laughter of the laughing jackass of
Australia. The sound inspires the Dayak with courage and fire. When he
takes the young out of the nest, later to serve him as food, the parent
bird darts at the intruder. The hornbill is an embodiment of force that
may be either beneficent or harmful, and has been appropriated by the
Dayaks to serve various purposes. Wooden images of this bird are put up as
guardians, and few designs in textile or basket work are as common as that
of the tingang. The handsome tail feathers of the rhinoceros hornbill,
with transverse bands of alternate white and black, are highly valued; the
warriors attach them to their rattan caps, and from the solid casque with
which the beak of the giant species is provided, are carved the large red
ear ornaments. Aided by the sumpitan the Dayaks and Punans are expert in
bringing down the rather shy birds of the tall trees.

Three hours later we had managed to carry all our goods above the kiham
Duyan, which is only one hundred metres long, but with a fall of at least
four metres; consequently in its lower part it rushes like a disorderly
waterfall. It took the men one and a half hours to pull the empty prahus
up along the irregular bank, and I stood on a low rock which protruded
above the water below the falls, watching the proceedings with much
interest. The day was unusually warm and full of moisture, as, without
hat, in the burning sun I tried for over an hour to get snapshots, while
two kinds of bees, one very small, persistently clung to my hands, face,
and hair.

The journey continued laborious; it consisted mostly in unloading and
reloading the prahus and marching through rough country, now on one side
of the river, now on the other, where the jungle leeches were very active
and the ankles of the men were bleeding. At times the prahus had to be
dragged over the big stones that form the banks of the river. It was easy
to understand what difficulties and delays might be encountered here in
case of much rain. But in spite of a few heavy showers the weather
favoured us, and on the last day of the month we had successfully passed
the rapids. Next morning, after pulling down my tent, the Penyahbongs
placed stray pieces of paper on top of the remaining tent-poles as a sign
of joy that the kihams were left behind. There still remained some that
were obstinate on account of low water, but with our experience and
concerted action those were easily overcome, and early in the afternoon we
arrived at Djudjang, a rough, unattractive, and overgrown camp, where I
decided to stay until next morning. Many Malays die from beri-beri, but
there is little malaria among those who work in the utan of the Busang
River. The half dozen men who were present were certainly a strong and
healthy-looking lot. One of them, with unusually powerful muscles and
short legs, declined to be photographed.

Our next camp was at a pleasant widening of the river with a low-lying,
spacious beach of pebbles. I pitched my tent on higher ground on the edge
of the jungle. Some of the Penyahbongs, always in good humour and enjoying
themselves, went out with sumpitans to hunt pig, and about seven o'clock,
on a beautiful starlit night, a big specimen was brought in, which I went
to look at. While one man opened it by cutting lengthwise across the ribs,
another was engaged taking out the poison-carrying, triangular point. With
his knife the latter deftly cut all around the wound, taking out some
flesh, and after a little while he found part of the point, then the rest.
It looked like glass or flint and had been broken transversely in two;
usually it is made of bamboo or other hard wood.

The bladder was carefully cut out, and a man carried it off and threw it
away in order that the hunters should not be short of breath when walking.
The huge head, about fifty centimetres long, which was bearded and had a
large snout, was cut off with part of the neck and carried to one of the
camps, with a piece of the liver, which is considered the best part. I had
declined it, as the meat of the wild pig is very poor and to my taste
repulsive; this old male being also unusually tough, the soldiers
complained. The following morning I saw the head and jaws almost entirely
untouched, too tough even for the Penyahbongs.

Next day the river ran much narrower and between rocky sides. In the
forenoon the first prahu came upon an otter eating a huge fish which the
strong animal had dragged up on a rock, and of which the men immediately
took possession. It was cut up in bits and distributed among all of them,
the otter thus saving the expedition thirty-two rations of dried fish that
evening and next morning. To each side of the head was attached a powerful
long spine which stood straight out. The natives called the fish kendokat.

At one place where the water ran smoothly, one man from each prahu pulled
its rattan rope, the rest poling. I saw the Penyahbong who was dragging my
prahu suddenly catch sight of something under the big stones over which he
walked, and then he stopped to investigate. From my seat I perceived a
yellowish snake about one and a half metres long swimming under and among
the stones. A man from the prahu following ours came forward quickly and
began to chase it in a most determined manner. With his right hand he
caught hold of the tail and twisted it; then, as the body was underneath
the junction of two stones, with his left hand he tried to seize the head
which emerged on the other side. The snake was lively and bit at his hand
furiously, which he did not mind in the least. Others came to his
assistance and struck at its head with their paddles, but were unable to
accomplish their purpose as it was too well entrenched.

A splendid primitive picture of the savage in pursuit of his dinner, the
Penyahbong stood erect with his back toward me, holding the tail firmly.
After a few moments he bent down again trying in vain to get hold of its
neck, but not being able to pull the snake out he had to let the dainty
morsel go. Later we saw one swimming down the current, which the
Penyahbongs evidently also would have liked a trial at had we not already
passed the place.

The river widened out again, the rocks on the sides disappeared, and deep
pools were passed, though often the water ran very shallow, so the prahus
were dragged along with difficulty. Fish were plentiful, some
astonishingly large. In leaping for something on the surface they made
splashes as if a man had jumped into the water. On the last day, as the
morning mist began to rise, our thirty odd men, eager to get home, poling
the prahus with long sticks, made a picturesque sight. In early March,
after a successful journey, we arrived at Tamaloe, having consumed only
fourteen days from Bahandang because weather conditions had been
favourable, with no overflow of the river and little rain. It was pleasant
to know that the most laborious part of the expedition was over. I put up
my tent under a large durian tree, which was then in bloom.



The Penyahbongs until lately were nomadic people, roaming about in the
nearby Muller mountains, subsisting on wild sago and the chase and
cultivating some tobacco. They lived in bark huts on the ground or in
trees. Some eight years previous to my visit they were induced by the
government to form kampongs and adopt agricultural pursuits, and while
most of them appear to be in the western division, two kampongs were
formed east of the mountains, the Sabaoi and the Tamaloe, with less than
seventy inhabitants altogether. Tamaloe is the name of an antoh (spirit)
who lived here in the distant past.

The kampong consists of four small, poorly built communal houses, and of
the Malays who have settled here, in houses of their own making, the most
important is Bangsul, who married a daughter of Pisha, the Penyahbong
chief. Both before and since their transition to sedentary habits the
Penyahbongs have been influenced by the Saputans, their nearest
neighbours, four days' journey to the north, on the other side of the
water-shed. Their ideas about rice culture and the superstitions and
festivals attending it, come from the Saputans, of whom also a few live in
Tamaloe. They have only recently learned to swim and many do not yet know
how to paddle. It may be of some interest to note the usual occurrence of
rain at this kampong as gathered from native observation. April-July there
is no rain; August-October, little; November and December have a little
more; January much; February and March less.

Every evening as long as we remained here Pisha, the chief, used to sing,
reciting mythical events, thereby attracting good antohs (spirits) and
keeping the evil ones away, to the end that his people might be in good
health and protected against misfortune. His efforts certainly were
persevering, and he had a good voice that sounded far into the night, but
his songs were of such an extraordinarily melancholy character that it
still makes me depressed to remember them. He was an amiable man, whose
confidence I gained and who cheerfully gave any information I wanted. Of
his five daughters and three sons only the youngest daughter, who was not
yet married, was allowed to pronounce Pisha's name, according to custom.
Nor was it permissible for his sons-in-law to give me the name, still less
for him to do so himself.

After Mr. Demmini's departure all the photographing fell upon me, to which
I had no objection, but it was out of the question also to do developing,
except of the kodak films, and as the lieutenant, who had done some
before, thought he could undertake it, the matter was so arranged. The
first attempts, while not wholly successful, were not discouraging, and as
time went on the lieutenant turned out satisfactory results. We had a
couple of days' visit from the kapala of Sebaoi, a tall and
nervous-looking Penyahbong, but friendly, as were the rest of them. I was
then engaged in photographing and taking anthropometric measurements of the
gently protesting natives, to whose primitive minds these operations
appear weirdly mysterious. At first the kapala positively declined to take
any part in this work, but finally reached the conclusion that he would be
measured, but photographed he could not be, because his wife was pregnant.
For that reason he also declined a glass of gin which the lieutenant
offered him.

The valiant man who had tried to catch the yellow snake on our river
voyage called on me with his wife, who knew how to embroider well, and I
bought some shirts embellished with realistic representations of animals,
etc. The husband had that unsightly skin disease (_tinea imbricata_) that
made his body appear to be covered with half-loose fish scales. Next day,
to my amazement, he had shed the scales. The previous night he had applied
a remedy which made it possible to peel the dead skin off, and his face,
chest, and stomach were clean, as were also his legs and arms. His back
was still faulty because he had not had enough of the remedy, but he was
going to tackle the back that evening. The remedy, which had been taught
them by the Saputans, consists of two kinds of bark and the large leaves
of a jungle plant with red flowers, one of which was growing near my tent.

All the tribes visited by me suffer more or less from various kinds of
skin diseases caused by micro-parasitic animals, the Kenyahs and
Oma-Sulings in a much less degree. The most repulsive form, just described,
does not seem to interfere with general health. Three of my Kayan carriers
thus affected were more muscular and stronger than the rest. One of them
was the humorous member of the party, always cutting capers and dancing.
Women are less affected than men, and I often saw men with the disfiguring
scaly disease whose wives were evidently perfectly free from it.

A party of six fine-looking Penyahbongs were here on a rhinoceros hunting
expedition. They came from the western division, and as the rhino had been
nearly exterminated in the mountain ranges west and northwest of Tamaloe,
the hunters were going farther east. Such a party carries no provisions,
eating sago and animals that they kill. Their weapons are sumpitans and
parangs, and equipment for stamping sago forms part of their outfit. The
rhino is approached stealthily and the large spear-point on one end of the
sumpitan is thrust into its belly. Thus wounded it is quite possible, in
the dense jungle, to keep in touch with it, and, according to trustworthy
reports, one man alone is able in this way to kill a rhino. It is hunted
for the horn, which Chinamen will buy.

At my request two of the hunters gave war-dances very well, taking turns.
Their movements were graceful, and in the moonlight they appeared sinuous
as serpents. The same dance obtains in all the tribes visited, and the
movement is forward and back, or in a circle. It was performed by one man
who in a preliminary way exercised the flexible muscles of the whole body,
after which he drew his sword, seized the shield which was lying on the
ground and continued his dancing more vigorously, but with equal grace.
Pisha, the chief, came to the dance, and the meeting with the new
arrivals, though silent and undemonstrative, was decidedly affectionate,
especially with one of them who was a near relative. Half embracing each
other, they stood thus at least a minute.

The Penyahbongs have rather long legs, take long paces, putting down their
heels first. They have great endurance and can walk in one day as far as a
Malay can in three. In the mountains the cold weather prevented them from
sleeping much. It often happened that they were without food for three
days, when they would drink water and smoke tobacco. Trees are climbed in
the jumping way described before, and without any mechanical aid. Formerly
bathing was not customary. Excrements are left on the ground and not in
the water. They don't like the colour red, but prefer black. Fire was made
by flint and iron, which they procured from the Saputans.

The hair is not cut nor their teeth. The women wear around the head a ring
of cloth inside of which are various odoriferous leaves and flowers of
doubtful appreciation by civilised olfactory senses. A strong-smelling
piece of skin from the civet cat is often attached to this head ornament,
which is also favoured by natives on the Mahakam.

In regard to ear ornamentation the Penyahbongs are at least on a par with
the most extreme fashions of the Dayaks. The men make three slits in the
ear; in the upper part a wooden disk is enclosed, in the middle the tusk
of a large species of cat, and in the lobe, which is stretched very long,
hangs a brass coil. The ears of the women have only two incisions, the one
in the middle part being adorned with bead strings, while in the lobe up
to one hundred tin rings may be seen. They are tatued, and noticeable on
the men is a succession of stars across the chest, as if hanging on a
thread which is lower in the middle. The stars symbolise the fruits of
durian. The colour of the tatuing is obtained from damar.

Formerly they wore scanty garments of fibre, the man wearing only a loin
cloth, and in case of cold weather a piece of the same material covered
the shoulders and back. The woman had a short skirt folded together at the
back, and both sexes used rattan caps. Besides sago their main subsistence
was, and still is, all kinds of animals, including carnivorous, monkeys,
bears, snakes, etc. The gall and urine bladder were universally thrown
away, but at present these organs from bear and large snakes are sold to
traders who dispose of them to Chinamen. Formerly these people had no

No cooking utensils were employed. Sago was wrapped in leaves and placed
on the fire, and the meat was roasted. There is no cooking separately for
men and women, and meals are taken irregularly, but usually twice a day.
The crocodile is not eaten, because it would make one mad, nor are
domestic dogs or omen birds used for food. Honey is collected by cutting
down the tree. Their principal weapon is the sumpitan, which, as usual,
with a spear point lashed to one end, also serves as spear and is bought
from the Saputans. Parang and shield complete the man's outfit. On the
Busang only ten ipoh (upas) trees are known from which poison may be
obtained for the blow-pipe darts; to get a new supply a journey of two
days down the river is necessary, and six for the return.

Except for a few cases of malaria, among the Penyahbongs there is no
disease. In 1911 the cholera epidemic reached them, as well as the
Saputans. Of remedies they have none. At the sight of either of the two
species of venomous snakes of the king cobra family this native takes to
his heels, and if bitten the wound is not treated with ipoh. Until
recently they had no blians; there were, at this time, two in Tamaloe, one
Saputan and one Malay, and the one in the other kampong learned his art
from the Saputans. One man does not kill another, though he may kill a
member of the Bukat tribe, neighbouring nomads who live in the northeast
of the western division, in the mountains toward Sarawak. Suicide is
unknown. It was asserted to me that the Penyahbongs do not steal nor lie,
though I found the Saputans untrustworthy in these respects.

There is no marriage ceremony, but the young man must pay the parents of
the bride one gong (f. 30), and if the girl is the daughter of a chief her
price is six gongs. About half of the men select very youthful wives, from
eight years up. There are boys of ten married to girls of a similar age.
One boy of fourteen was married to a girl of twenty. Children of the chief
being much sought, one of Pisha's daughters, twenty-three years old, had
been disposed of when she was at her mother's breast, her future husband
being twenty at that time. Upon reaching womanhood she did not like him at
first, and for five years declined to share the mat with him. Recently,
however, she had begun to associate with him, and they had one child. The
children are not beaten, are left to pick up by themselves whatever
knowledge is necessary, and when the boy is ten years old he can kill his
babi with a sumpitan. The parents of young girls do not allow them to be
too intimate with young men.

A pregnant woman must not eat durian which, in falling from the tree, has
broken, or stuck in a cleft without reaching the ground, nor any kind of
fruit that does not fall straight to earth, nor sago from a palm tree
which chanced to become entangled by a branch instead of falling directly
to the ground, nor the large hornbill, nor snakes, nor pigs, nor fish that
were killed by being struck on the head, or by any other means than with
spear or parang, nor land turtle, nor the scaly ant-eater. She must not
make a house or take part in making it, and therefore if a pole has to be
put in place she must call another woman to do it.

Further, she must not eat an animal which has lost one or both eyes, nor
one the foot of which has been crushed, nor an animal of strong odour
(like civet cat, skunk, etc., not an offensive smell to these natives);
nor are she and her husband permitted to gather rubber, nor may wood be
gathered for fire-making which has roads on it made by ants. She must not
drink water from a back current, nor water which runs through a fallen
tree. A pig may be eaten, but if it has a foetus inside that must be
avoided. The husband also observes all these tabus and precautions.

The Penyahbongs rise before dawn. Fire is made, primitive man's greatest
comfort, and they seat themselves before it awaiting daylight, the woman
brings her child near it, and all smoke strong native tobacco. Without
first eating, the man goes out to hunt for animals, usually alone, but if
two or three go together they later separate. The hunter leaves his parang
at home, taking only the sumpitan. He may not return until the afternoon.
Small game he carries home himself, but when a large animal has been
killed, as wild pig, deer, bear, large monkey, he will leave it in the
utan for his wife to bring home. In case of a rhino being slain he will
remove the horn, but the woman will cut up the animal and take it home,
unless it is too late, when she postpones the task until the next morning.

The husband is fond of singing, and, accompanying himself by striking the
rattan strings attached to the back of a shield, he may occupy himself in
this way until the small hours of the morning. Women make mats in the
evening, or do work of some kind, and the young people may play and sing
for a while, or they may listen to the singing of the lord of the
household; but gradually all go to sleep except the wife.

Besides the small knife for splitting rattan, which is the special
implement of the Dayak woman, the fair sex of the Penyahbongs has a
parang, a spear, an axe, a bone implement used in working rattan mats, and
a rattan bag which is carried on the back. The women in several Dayak
tribes also possess such feminine accessories. With the Penyahbongs the
male chiefly hunts, the female doing all the work. She makes the house,
cuts the sago palm, and prepares the sago. When setting forth to bring
home the animal killed by her husband she carries her own parang with
which to cut it up, placing it inside the rattan bag on her back. With one
or two other women she may go out with the dogs to kill wild pigs with a
spear. When searching for the many kinds of fruit found in the utan her
own axe is carried with which to cut the tree down, for she never climbs
to pick the fruit. As for the durian, she waits until it falls ripe to the
ground. The woman also brings water and firewood, does all the cooking,
and then calls her husband that he may eat. Basketry is not known, but the
rattan mat and the mat of palm leaves on which these natives sleep are
nicely made by the women, who also manufacture the large mat on which the
stamping of sago, by human feet, is performed. In changing abode women
carry everything, the men conveying only the sumpitan and the darts,
probably also a child that is big enough to walk, but the small child the
woman always carries. If the men go to war the women remain behind and
defend themselves if attacked.

Although the woman thus bears an absurdly large share of the family
burden, nevertheless it cannot be said that her lot is an unhappy one,
because she is not the slave of the man, as is the case, for instance,
with the Australian savages. From time immemorial their society has known
no other conditions, and the married couples are generally happy. Both of
them treat their children with affection, and though the husband may
become angry, he only uses his tongue, never strikes her, and he has no
polygamous inclinations. Divorces, though permissible, do not occur,
because there is a natural feeling against illicit relations with the
husband or wife of another. Moreover, the rest of the community would
resent it. Bangsul, who had been there seven years, had never heard of

When a man is near death his family and others gather around him to see
him die, but without attempt to restore him to health. When dead his eyes
are closed, he is washed, and a new chavat of fibre as well as a new shirt
of the same material is given him. Tobacco is put in his mouth, four
cigarettes on his abdomen, and on his chest and stomach are placed sago
and cooked wild pig or some other meat for him to eat. Four bamboos filled
with water are set upright near by. His sumpitan with its darts, poison
for the darts, the parang, shield, and his musical instruments if he has
any--in short, one sample of everything he had is laid down by his side.
What little else may be left goes to the widow. When a woman dies she is
treated in the same way, but the nose flute is the only instrument that
accompanies her.

A tree is cut down and from the log a dugout is made in which the corpse
is placed, a board being loosely fastened as a cover. This coffin is
placed on a simple platform in the utan. There is no feast attending this
rite. I visited the burial-place (taaran) of Tamaloe on the other side of
the river about a kilometre away. It was difficult to find, for the small
space which is cleared of jungle whenever there is a funeral very soon
grows up again. Only two boxes, each containing the corpse of a child,
were in good condition, the rest having fallen down and disappeared
through the action of rains and wild pigs.

After the husband's death the widow eats only every second day for a
month; after that she is free to eat, but for a year she weeps twice a
day, morning and evening,--though sometimes she forgets. The father,
mother, and sister of the deceased also take part in the one-year period
of wailing twice a day. After that period has elapsed the widow may
remarry. For the widower there are practically the same regulations,
though he does not weep loudly, and after eight months he can look for
another wife; but first he must have taken a head.



I was planning a visit to the headwaters of the Busang River, to be made
in connection with our future journey. Few natives, if any, have entered
that region, which was described as very mountainous, though the mountains
cannot be very high. But all who were approached on the subject, whether
Penyahbong or Malay, absolutely declined to take part in an expedition to
that country, because they would be killed by an animal called nundun,
which is very numerous there. They might be able to tackle one, they said,
but as soon as you encounter one there are hundreds more coming for you,
and there is nothing else to do but to run for your life. Those regions,
although known to be rich in rubber trees, are shunned by all natives.
Unless this is an altogether fabulous animal, which is hardly likely to be
the case, because the Punans and Bukats confirmed its existence, it would
appear to be a kind of bear which perhaps in fruit seasons gathers in
great numbers, and which is ferocious.

Nundun, in Penyahbong and Bukat called bohang (bear), is said to run
faster than a dog, is killed with the sumpitan at twenty to thirty metres
distance, and is eaten. It is further declared that its habitat extends
through the hilly regions between the headwaters of the Busang River and
the Upper Barito, and that it is especially numerous near the kampong
Kelasin. If any one with the hope of possibly finding a new species of
mammal should care to follow the matter up, Kelasin on the Upper Barito
would not be an extremely difficult place to reach, with good men. Both
the lieutenant and I, having so many rifles, were much inclined to defy
the terrors of the nundun, but desirable as this expedition would have
been, it had to be given up because of the formidable difficulties in
getting men, even if we followed the route over the watershed which is
used by the natives.

Bangsul had undertaken to negotiate with us on behalf of the Penyahbongs
and the Malays, and although in some ways he was an estimable man, his
Malay characteristic of turning everything to his own advantage at times
got the better of him and delayed an agreement. At first they demanded a
sum amounting to seven florins a day for each of the twenty-nine men
needed, but as fourteen Malay rubber-gatherers arrived very opportunely,
it was agreed that we should be taken to the Kasao River for 300 florins
and my six prahus. The natives had some trouble deciding how the prahus
should be divided among them, the kapala insisting upon having the largest
and best for himself.

This question having been settled through Bangsul, on March 22 we
departed. Our prahus were poled most of the way on a stream which, though
rather shallow, ran with a swift current, and at times made my heavily
loaded craft take water. In Borneo it usually requires as many days to get
up-stream as it takes hours to come down.

We stayed for the night at a former camping place of rattan seekers, a
small, narrow clearing on the river brink, on which tents and sheds were
huddled closely together in the way military men prefer when travelling in
the utan. The paddlers had asked us to be ready at daylight, but at seven
o'clock in the chilly and very foggy morning they were still warming
themselves around the fire. An hour later, when we had finished loading
the prahus, the river began to rise incredibly fast, at the rate of ten
centimetres per minute in the first six minutes, and in two hours and a
quarter it had risen 2.30 metres, when it became steady. In the meantime
we had remade our camp, hoping that the river might permit us to travel
next day. Three of the Penyahbongs went out hunting with the only sumpitan
we had, and shortly afterward returned with a pig.

Early in the afternoon we were much surprised by the appearance of a prahu
with three Dayaks who had a dog and a sumpitan and brought a pig which
they had killed in the morning. They were the chief, with two companions,
from Data Laong on the Kasao River for which we were aiming. The rumour of
our party had reached his ears, and with thirty men he had been waiting
for us on this side of the watershed. Their scanty provisions soon ran
out, and after waiting nine days all had returned home except the present
party, whom we welcomed. The new men proved a valuable addition to our
crew. The kapala, who was attached to my prahu, was active and gave his
orders as if he knew how, a great relief from a weak Malay that hitherto
had been at "the helm." When the men with the poles were unable to move
the boat against the current, the small, but strongly built man, with a
few very powerful pushes, would bring it forward, making it vibrate by his

At Tamaloe animals and birds were not plentiful, the call of the wah-wah
usually imparting a little life to the mornings; and I once heard a crow.
I do not remember to have seen on the whole Busang River the most familiar
of all birds on the Bornean rivers, an ordinary sandpiper that flits
before you on the beach. Birds singing in the morning are always rare
except in the localities of paddi fields. The one most likely to attract
attention on a forenoon is the giant hornbill, and as we advanced up the
Busang its laugh might still be heard. Much more unusual was the call of
some lonely argus pheasant or a crow. A few of the beautiful white raja
birds were observed.

Wild pigs and deer continued plentiful, but the monkeys seemed gradually
to disappear. Fish there were in plenty, but they were now of smaller
kinds, not agreeable to eat, having an oily taste and mostly very bony. At
all our camping places ants of various kinds were numerous, also inside of
the tent, but they did not seem to be obnoxious. Just before sunset the
loud voices of the cicadas began, and after dark lovely moths were
attracted by my lamp, while during the night bats flew in and out of my
tent. The humidity of the atmosphere was great. Safety matches would not
strike fire unless kept in an airtight box. My cameras were inside of
solid steel boxes, provided with rubber bands against the covers, making
them water-tight. Nevertheless, upon opening one that had been closed for
three weeks the camera inside was found to be white with mould.

It was rough and hard travelling on account of incessant low kihams to be
passed, or banks of small stones over which the prahus had to be dragged.
The Penyahbongs had not yet learned to be good boatmen, often nearly
upsetting the prahu when getting in or out. Occasionally long quiet pools
occurred, and the scenery here was grand and thrilling. Graceful trees of
infinite variety bent over the water, bearing orchids of various colours,
while creepers hung down everywhere, all reflected in a calm surface which
seldom is disturbed by the splashing of fish. The orchids were more
numerous than I had ever seen before. A delicate yellow one, growing in
spikes, had a most unusual aromatic fragrance, as if coming from another

In the morning a curtain of fog lies over the landscape, but about nine
o'clock it begins to lift, and creeping up over the tree-tops gradually
dissolves in the sun-light, while between the trees that border the river
the deep-blue sky appears, with beautiful small cumulus clouds suspended
in the atmosphere. With the exception, perhaps, of a large blue kingfisher
sitting in solitary state on a branch extending over the water, or a
distant hornbill with its cheerful grandiose laugh, there are no evidences
of animal life, nevertheless the exquisite scenery seems to lure the
beholder on and on. To pass through this superb and silent realm was like
a pleasant dream. There are no mosquitoes and consequently no malaria.

We were progressing through a country of which little is known accurately
beyond its somewhat hilly character, and the fact that it is uninhabited
except for small transient parties of Malays searching for rattan or
rubber. The upper part of our route to the divide, a comparatively short
distance, had not, to my knowledge, been traversed by white men before.
Errors were corrected on the map of the watershed region.

One day at noon, while we were waiting for the largest prahu to overtake
us, fresh tracks of pig were discovered on the bank, and the Saputan dog,
a very wise animal, was landed. A few minutes later he began the peculiar
barking which indicated that he had caught the scent, and one man seized a
sumpitan and ran off into the utan as fast as his legs could carry him,
holding the weapon in his right hand in a horizontal position, spear end
first. It sounded as if the dog might be holding the pig in the water a
little higher up, but this was soon found to be a mistake when the barking
was heard close by. The Saputan kapala then jumped from my prahu, drew his
parang, and with wonderful elastic movements disappeared in the utan. Two
or three minutes later they returned, one man bearing in his arms a
scarcely half-grown live pig, which had been hit by the sumpitan. The
whole affair lasted barely ten minutes.

At another place, where we were again waiting for the big prahu, the
Penyahbongs amused themselves with wrestling in water up to their
shoulders. After some dancing around, the fight would invariably finish by
both disappearing and after a few seconds coming to view again. This
caused much merriment, especially to the wrestlers themselves, who laughed
immoderately when reappearing.

We entered the tributary Bulau, and a couple of hours later arrived at its
junction with Bakkaang, at the source of which we expected to cross the
watershed. The river, which was rather narrow, would be difficult to
ascend unless we had showers. Luckily rain fell during the night, and
although delayed by trees that had fallen across the stream, which was
from six to ten metres wide, we made a good day's work and camped at an
attractive old clearing of rattan gatherers.

I spent the next forenoon in an excursion to a place within the jungle,
where birds and animals sometimes congregate in great numbers to obtain
the salt water which issues from the earth or rocks. This masin (salt
water) was known to the Malay rattan seekers in our party, who had snared
birds and deer there. In the dry season hundreds of birds of various kinds
would gather. By wading up a small stream for twenty minutes we reached a
place where water exuded from a rock, especially at its top, and by
following the stream upward for another twenty minutes we arrived at the
larger one, where the ooze from the rocks overflowed the ground. Only
tracks were seen, but our guide said that after three rainless days in
succession birds and animals would be sure to come there. Myriads of
yellowish-gray flies covered the ground as well as the rocks, and after
having taken some specimens of algae, also some white gelatinous stuff
with which the Malays rub themselves when afflicted with beri-beri, I
returned to camp.

In spite of frequent light showers the stream failed to rise appreciably,
and our goods had to be carried on the back of the men to our next camping
place. The following morning we started in a heavy rain at which we
rejoiced, because it enabled us to use our prahus until we reached the
foot of the dividing ridge. At noon we arrived in camp, with our clothing
thoroughly wet. What the downpour might have left intact the Penyahbongs,
forgetting everything but the safety of the prahus, had done their best to
drench by splashing water all the time. Just as we had made camp the rain
ceased and with it, being near the source of the stream, the overflow too
passed away. In dry weather it would be a tedious trip to get up the

For two days we were busy carrying our goods to the top of the ridge.
Neither the Malays nor the Penyahbongs are very strong carriers, and they
complained of being stenga mati (half dead) from their exertions. On the
third day, when the ascent was to be finished, eight of them complained of
being sakit (sick) or played out, and they looked it. Fortunately the
Saputan chief, who a few days previously had left us to procure more men,
returned with four companions, who came in very opportunely. The ascent is
neither long nor difficult, a seldom used path leading across the ridge at
the most convenient place. The elevation above sea level, taken April 2,
by boiling point thermometer, was 425 metres (1,394.38 feet), and the
ridge seemed to run evenly to either side. The space for a camp was
somewhat cramped, and the small yellow bees that are so persistent in
clinging to one's face and hands were very numerous; they will sting if
irritated. Even the lieutenant, ordinarily impervious to that kind of
annoyance, sought the protection of his mosquito net.

The calls of argus pheasant and wah-wah next morning sounded familiar. The
north side of the Bukit, or mountain (the name applied by the natives to
the ridge), is steeper and rougher than the south side, but the descent
presents no difficulties. We followed the small river Brani, most of the
time wading it. The distance to the junction of the Brani with the Kasao
River [*] is hardly five hours' walking, but copious showers, which at
times changed the river to a torrential stream, interfered with the
transportation of our goods, which required five days.

[Footnote *: Kasao is the Malay name. The Saputans call the river Katju.]

Our friend, the Saputan chief, had materially assisted us, and he was
desired to walk down to his kampong--by boat only an hour's journey on the
swift current--and bring men and prahus to take us away. He was very
willing and exceedingly efficient, but he was also, in his childish way,
intent on making as much out of us as possible. He wanted to bring too
many prahus and men, for all the male population of the kampong were
anxious to get this job, he said. I made him a fair offer, and three times
he came to tell me that he still had to think over it. Finally, after
three hours' deliberation, he accepted my proposition--provided I would
pay for two days instead of one! In order to get action, and considering
all the days they voluntarily had waited for us at the ridge, I acceded to
this amendment and he went away happy.

The men and the prahus came promptly and we began loading; I was glad at
the prospect of getting away from the low-lying country, where we had our
camp among bamboo trees, with the chance of being flooded should the river
rise too high. As we were standing near my tent, getting ready to take it
down, a plandok (mouse-deer, _tragulus_) came along--among the Saputans,
and probably most Dayaks, reputed to be the wisest and most cunning of all
animals, and in folklore playing the part of our fox. It was conspicuously
pregnant and passed unconcernedly just back of the tent. As the flesh is a
favourite food of both Dayaks and Malays they immediately gave chase,
shouting and trying to surround it, which made the plandok turn back; then
the wonderfully agile Saputan chief darted after it and actually caught it
alive. Extraordinary agility is characteristic of most Dayaks. An army
officer in his report of the Katingans describes how a Dayak "suddenly
jumped overboard, drew his parang, and with one stroke cut a fish through
the middle. Before we knew what had happened the material for our supper
was on board."

After a pleasant drifting down the current of the Kasao River, about noon
on April 7 we arrived at Data Laong, a Saputan kampong consisting of three
small communal houses. On the river bank a small space had been cleared of
grass for my tent. The people seemed very amenable to my purposes and
there was a primitive atmosphere at the place. We had used seventeen days
from Tamaloe, much in excess of the time calculated, but under
unfavourable circumstances we might easily have used double. There was
reason to be satisfied at arriving here safely without having incurred any
losses. We could look forward with confidence to the remainder of the
journey, mainly down the great Mahakam River, toward distant Samarinda,
because the Dayaks along the route were very numerous and had plenty of



The Penyahbongs, men of the jungle, who left us to return home, had not
proved such good workers as the Saputans, who, though in a pronounced
degree smaller, mostly below medium size, are very strongly built. The
first named, nevertheless, are their superiors both physically and
morally. The more homely-looking Saputans, though friendly and willing to
assist you, try to gain an advantage in bargaining. They set high prices
on all things purchased from them and cheat if permitted to do so.
Although no case of actual stealing came to my notice, they are dishonest,
untruthful, and less intelligent than the tribes hitherto met. The chiefs
from two neighbouring kampongs paid us visits, and they and their men made
a somewhat better impression, besides having less skin disease.

The Saputans are a crude and somewhat coarse people who formerly lived in
caves in the mountains further east, between the Mahakam and the Murung
(Barito) Rivers, and migrated here less than a hundred years ago. Lidju, a
Long-Glat raja from Batokelau, who at one time was my interpreter and
assistant, told me that the Saputans had made a contract with his
grandfather to take them to the Kasao. This report was confirmed by the
kapala of Batokelau. The Saputans probably do not number over 500 all

The custom of cutting the teeth, eight in upper front and six in the lower
jaw, is observed to some extent, but is not regularly practised. Both
sexes have shrill, sharp voices. The men admire women who have long hair,
light yellow skin, and long extension of the ear-lobes. The women like men
to be strong and brave on headhunting expeditions. Suicide is very rare.
They may use ipoh or tuba for the purpose. All animals are eaten without
restriction. The men are good hunters and know how to kill the tiger-cat
with sumpitan or spear. They also make good, large mats from split rattan,
which are spread on the floor, partly covering it. The women make mats
from palm leaves, and when the Saputans are preparing for the night's rest
the latter kind is unrolled over the rattan variety. Formerly sumpitans
were made in sufficient number, but the art of the blacksmith has almost
died out, only one remaining at the present time, and most of the
sumpitans are bought from the Bukats on the Mahakam River.

There appear to be more men than women in the tribe. Children are wanted,
and though the usual number in a family is four, sometimes there is only
one. There are no restrictions in diet for a pregnant woman beyond the
prohibition of eating of other people's food.

Only when the chief has a wedding is there any festival, which consists in
eating. There is no marriage ceremony, but having secured the girl's
consent and paid her father and mother the young man simply goes to her
mat. They then remain two days in the house, because they are afraid of
the omen birds. On the third day both go to fetch water from the river and
she begins to husk rice. Monogamy is practised, only the chief being
allowed to have five or more wives. The very enterprising kapala of Data
Laong, to the displeasure of his first wife, recently had acquired a
second, the daughter of a Penihing chief. While the payment of a parang
may be sufficient to secure a wife from among the kampong people, a chiefs
daughter is worth ten gongs, and in order to raise the money necessary to
obtain the gongs he set all the men of the kampong to work, gathering
rattan, for one month. Though each of them received something for his
labour, it was less than one-fourth of the amount accruing from the sale
of the product, leaving him sufficient to pay the price demanded for the
new bride. In Long Iram a gong may be bought for f. 30-80, and for
purposes of comparison the fact is mentioned that a Malay usually is
required to pay f. 60 to the girl's father to insure his consent to the

April was rainy, with frequent showers day and night, and thunder was
heard every evening. Life there was the same as in most Dayak kampongs,
nearly all the people being absent during the day at the ladangs, and in
the evening they bring home the roots of the calladium, or other edible
roots and plants, which are cooked for food. The paddi had been harvested,
but the crop was poor, and therefore they had made no feast. There is no
dancing here except war dances. For a generation they have been gathering
rubber, taking it far down the Mahakam to be sold. Of late years rubber
has nearly disappeared in these parts, so they have turned their attention
to rattan.

One day a man was seen running with a sumpitan after a dog that had
hydrophobia, and which repeatedly passed my tent. The apparent attempt to
kill the animal was not genuine. He was vainly trying to catch it that he
might tie its legs and throw it into the river, because the people believe
that the shedding of a dog's blood would surely result in misfortune to
their health or crops. After three days the dog disappeared.

In Data Laong few were those men, women, and children who had not some
form of the skin diseases usual among the Dayaks, which were rendered
still more repugnant by their habit of scratching until the skin bleeds. A
man and wife whose skin looked dry and dead, the whole body exhibiting a
whitish colour, one day came to my tent. Standing, or crouching, before
the tent opening they formed a most offensive picture, vigorously
scratching themselves, while particles of dead skin dropped in such
quantity that after some minutes the ground actually showed an
accumulation resembling snow. They were accompanied by a twelve-year-old
daughter who, strange to say, had a perfectly clean skin.

The belief about disease and its cure is identical with that of other
tribes I have met. The evil antohs are believed to be very numerous in the
mountainous region at the headwaters of the Kasao River, from whence they
visit the kampongs, though only the blians are able to see them. The dead
person is given new garments and the body is placed in a wooden box made
of boards tied together, which is carried to a cave in the mountains,
three days' travel from Data Laong. There are many caves on the steep
mountain-side and each kampong has its own.

The Saputans were shy about being photographed, but their objections could
be overcome by payments of coin. The kapala, always alive to the value of
money, set the example by consenting to pose with his family for a
consideration of one florin to each. But the risks incurred, of the usual
kinds hitherto described, were believed to be so great that even the sum
of ten florins was asked as reward in the case of a single man. A
prominent man from another kampong was preparing to make holes through the
ears of the kapala, and for a compensation I was permitted to photograph
the operation, which is an important one. It is the privilege of chiefs
and men who have taken heads to wear a tiger-cat's corner tooth inserted
in a hole in the upper part of each ear. The operation must not be
performed when the man in question has a small child.

Surrounded by four men, the kapala seated himself on the stump of a tree.
The hair was first cut away above the ears, a long board was placed
upright behind and against his right ear, and the operator adjusted his
tool--an empty rifle cartridge of small calibre, which was encased in the
end of a small piece of wood. After having carefully ascertained that all
was in order he struck the tool, using a loose axe-head with sure hand,
two or three times. The supporting board was removed and a bamboo cylinder
of exactly the same size as the empty cartridge, which was held in
readiness, was immediately put into the hole. The round piece of cartilage
which had been cut out was taken care of, lest it be eaten by a dog and
cause illness. Blood streamed profusely from the ear, and, strange to
tell, the robust man looked as if he were going to faint. The four
assistants closed round him, stroking his arms, and he attempted to rise,
but had to resume his seat.

Usually nothing untoward happens at such operations, but in this case an
evil antoh had taken possession of the kapala and was eating blood from
the wound. The principal blian was hastily sent for, and arriving
promptly, proceeded to relieve the suffering kapala. He clapped his hands
over the ear, and, withdrawing, opened them twice in quick succession,
then, after a similar third effort, a fair-sized stone (less than a
centimetre in diameter) was produced and thrown into the river. Slight
rain began to fall, and the scene was brought to a dramatic conclusion by
the exhausted chief being ignominiously carried away on the back of a
strong young man. At the house another stone was produced by the same
sleight-of-hand, but more strenuous measures had to be adopted in order to
remedy the uncanny incident.

A pig was brought up into the room, where blood from its throat was
collected. Part of it was smeared on the kapala, and part was mixed with
uncooked rice as a sacrifice to some good antoh, who is called upon to
drive the evil one away. Outside on the river bank four stalks of bamboo,
which had branches and leaves at the top, were placed in a slanting
position. From the stems of these were hung two diminutive bamboo
receptacles made in the form of square, stiff mats, on which was placed
the mixture of rice and blood for the antoh to eat. Also suspended were
two short pieces of bamboo cut open lengthwise so as to form two small
troughs, into which a little blood was poured for the same supernatural
power to drink.

When all this had been made ready the old blian, accompanied by two young
pupils, took position before the sacrifice. For about ten minutes he
spoke, with his face to the south, requesting a good antoh to come and the
evil one to depart, after which he, the young men, and the kapala, who
stood near, all repeatedly threw up rice in a southerly direction. This
was done in expectation that the good antoh, having eaten of the
sacrifice, would feel disposed to drive the bad one away.

In the middle of April I was seized with an attack of filariasis, a
disorder caused by the sting of a certain kind of mosquito. During the day
I had felt pain in the glands of the loins, which were swollen, without
giving the matter any particular attention. As I am not in the habit of
being ill, in fact, so far had prided myself on growing younger each year,
this experience of suddenly becoming very weak and miserable was most
unexpected. Vomiting set in, so I went immediately to bed, and slept
soundly during the night and also most of the next day, when I found
myself with an extremely high fever, much more severe than that which
accompanies malaria, a pernicious form of which I once passed through on
the west coast of Mexico. Until many months afterward I did not know the
nature of my disorder, but resorted to the simple remedy always
available--to stop eating, as Japanese soldiers are reported to do when
wounded. On the fourth day the fever abated, after which improvement was
rapid. Two days later my general condition was fair, although the lower
part of the right leg, especially about the ankle, was red and swollen. I
soon felt completely restored in spite of the fact that a painless swelling
of the ankle remained.

Two months later I had another attack, as sudden and unexpected as the
first. This was ushered in by a chill exactly like that preceding malaria,
but the fever that followed was less severe than on the former occasion,
and in a few days I was well again.

More than a year afterward hypodermic injections of sodium cacodylate were
attempted with apparent success, though the swellings continued. Many
months later an improvement in the condition of the leg was gradually
brought about, to which perhaps a liberal consumption of oranges separate
from meals, largely contributed. This affection is not common in Borneo. A
native authority in Kasungan, on the Katingan River in South Borneo,
himself a Kahayan, told me of a remedy by which he and eight other natives
had been completely cured. It is a diffusion from three kinds of plants,
applied externally, samples of which I took.

On the last day of April we were able to continue our journey down the
Kasao River, in seven prahus with twenty-eight men, twenty-four of whom
were Penihings, who, with their raja, as the chiefs are called on the
Mahakam, had arrived from below by appointment. Owing to my recent
distressing experience I was not sorry to say farewell to Data Laong,
where the women and children were afraid of me to the last, on account of
my desire to have them photographed. The Saputans are kind, but their
intellect is of a low order, and the unusual prevalence of skin disease
renders them unattractive though always interesting subjects.

A glorious morning! The river, running high and of a dirty yellowish-green
colour, carried us swiftly with the current in the cool atmosphere of the
morning mist which the sun gradually cleared away. Repeatedly, though for
a few moments only, an enchanting fragrance was wafted to me from large,
funnel-shaped, fleshy white flowers with violet longitudinal stripes that
covered one of the numerous varieties of trees on our way. Many blossoms
had fallen into the water and floated on the current with us. It was a
pleasure to have again real Dayak paddlers, which I had not had since my
travels in the Bultmgan.

We dashed through the tall waves of many smaller rapids and suddenly,
while I was having breakfast, which to save time is always taken in the
prahus, I found myself near what appeared to be a rapidly declining kiham.
A fathomless abyss seemed yawning before us, although the approach thereto
was enticing, as the rushing waters turned into white foam and played in
the strong sunlight. We passed a timid prahu which was waiting at one side
of the course, but had I desired to do so there was no time to stop my
prahu. That might have meant calamity, for we were already within a few
seconds of the rushing, turbulent waters. So down we went, with a
delightful sensation of dancing, falling water, strong sunlight, and the
indescribable freshness and swiftness of it all. The Penihing at the bow
looked back at me and nodded with a satisfied expression on his
countenance, as if to say: "That was well done."

There were kihams after kihams to be passed; at one place where the rapids
were long, from twelve to eighteen men helped to direct each prahu with
rattan ropes, preventing it from going where the water was deep and the
waves ran high. But my men, who appeared to be skilful, evidently decided
not to depend on the rattan but steered deliberately out into the deep
water; the prahu began to move swiftly, and, tossed by the big waves, the
large tins and boxes were shaken about and threatened to fall overboard.
The bundle of one of the Dayaks actually dropped into the water. There
were only four men in the prahu, and the one at the bow, on whom so much
depends for safety, seeing that it was his bundle, immediately jumped
after it, leaving the boat to its fate. Luckily there was no reason for
the others to do likewise, and I escaped with drenched legs and a wet

New kihams soon compelled us to take out half the load and make double
trips, which proved slow and tedious work. I sat on the rocks waiting, and
ate luncheon, which consisted of one small tin of macquerel in oil, put up
in France, very convenient for travelling. In front of me on the other
side of the river a lonely Malay was working eagerly, trying to float a
big bundle of rattan which had lodged in the midst of a waterfall against
a large stone, and which finally he succeeded in loosening. Suddenly it
floated, and as suddenly he leaped upon it, riding astride it down the
foaming waters.

The prospect for some smooth sailing now appeared favourable, but scarcely
had I made myself comfortable, lying down in my prahu, before I was
drenched by furious waves into which we had plunged. We soon got out of
them, however, and continued our swift travel downward. In the distance
most of our prahus could be seen in a calm inlet on the other side, where
Mr. Loing was awaiting our arrival; but my men continued on their course.
In a few seconds we entered the boiling waves of the rapids, down which we
went at thrilling speed. We literally jumped a small waterfall, then,
sharply turning to the left, passed another. More than a third of the boat
was in the air as we leaped over it. The Dayaks stand in the prahu and
every nerve is at full tension. The man at the bow shouts and warns. They
are daring, but manage to avoid the hidden rocks with which the course of
the river is studded, now steering slightly to the left, now more to the
right. Thirty or fifty centimetres one way or the other may make all the
difference between safety and disaster. Three men in a small prahu which
follows immediately behind, seeing that they cannot avoid dashing against
a rock, jump overboard, pull the boat out of its course, and save it.

Ahead was another turn in the river where the third kiham in succession
awaited us, and after some moments of comparative quiet we again dashed
down into turbulent waves, and making a swift turn to the right on a
downward grade glided into smoother waters. The excitement was over and
the experience had been as delightful as it was unexpected. It reminded
one of tobogganing in Norway and was great fun, although the enjoyment was
always mingled with feelings of anxiety concerning the cameras and

The luggage was unloaded from the prahus which were waiting at the head of
the last rapids, and was carried on the backs of natives who afterward
took the empty boats down. Although the men had worked incessantly for
nine hours, on the advice of the chief it was decided to proceed to
Samariting, the first Penihing kampong. Half the goods was stored near the
beach, to be called for the following day, and the now comfortably loaded
prahus made ready for the descent of the next rapids, which he said were
risky. He therefore was going to walk himself and advised us to do
likewise. Rain began to fall. On the high river bank I waited to see them
off. The first prahu had to return and take another course; the men all
seemed to be hesitating. Finally it made a fresh dash forward. Near the
end of the long rapids it almost disappeared from view, appeared again,
steering first to right then rapidly to left again. There was the
dangerous place, and having in this manner seen most of them pass
successfully, I walked on and shortly afterward boarded my prahu, which
carried us swiftly down to Samariting.

The river bank on which the kampong is built is lower than usual, and the
place is clean and attractive. All the people look strikingly more healthy
than the Saputans, and I saw a few very nice-looking young girls. The men
swarmed round me like bees, all wanting in a most amiable way to help put
up my tent. During the day I had lost the cover of my red kettle--annoying
enough when it cannot by any means be replaced--but even a more serious
loss would have been compensated by the delightful experience of the day,
which was without other mishaps.

Our goods having been safely brought in, the next day about noon we
started in fully loaded prahus. All went well with the exception of one of
the smaller boats which, timidly working down along the bank, suddenly
turned over and subsided on a rock. The men did their best to save the
contents, the rapid current making it impossible for us to stop until we
were a hundred metres further down, where the Dayaks made ready to gether
up boxes and other articles that came floating on the current. Nothing was
lost, but everything got wet.



A few minutes later we came in sight of the Mahakam River. At this point
it is only forty to fifty metres wide, and the placid stream presented a
fine view, with surrounding hills in the distance. In the region of the
Upper Mahakam River, above the rapids, where we had now arrived, it is
estimated there are living nearly 10,000 Dayaks of various tribes,
recognised under the general name Bahau, which they also employ
themselves, besides their tribal names.

The first European to enter the Mahakam district was the Dutch
ethnologist, Doctor A.W. Nieuwenhuis, at the end of the last century. He
came from the West, and in addition to scientific research his mission was
political, seeking by peaceful means to win the natives to Dutch
allegiance. In this he succeeded, though not without difficulty and
danger. Although he was considerate and generous, the Penihing chief
Blarey, apprehensive of coming evil, twice tried to kill him, a fact of
which the doctor probably was not aware at the time. Kwing Iran, the
extraordinary Kayan chief, knew of it and evidently prevented the plan
from being executed. Blarey did not like to have Europeans come to that
country, which belonged to the natives, as he expressed it.

The Penihing kampong, Sungei Lobang, was soon reached. It is newly made,
in accordance with the habit of the Dayaks to change the location of their
villages every fourteen or fifteen years, and lies on a high bank, or
rather a mud-ridge, which falls steeply down on all sides. It was the
residence of the chief and the Penihings who brought us here, and if
conditions proved favourable I was prepared to make a stay of several
weeks in this populous kampong, which consists of several long,
well-constructed buildings. The Dayaks assisted in putting up my tent, and
of their own accord made a low palisade of bamboo sticks all around it as
protection against the roaming pigs and dogs of the place. It proved of
excellent service, also keeping away the obnoxious fowls, and during the
remainder of my travels this measure of security, which I adopted, added
considerably to my comfort. On receiving their payment in the evening the
Dayaks went away in bad humour because they had expected that such a tuan
besar as I was would give them more than the usual wages allowed when
serving the Company, as the government is called. This tuan, they said,
had plenty of money to boang (throw) away, and he had also a good heart.

Otherwise, however, these natives were kindly disposed and more attractive
than either of the two tribes last visited. In husking rice the
Penyahbongs, Saputans, and Penihings have the same method of gathering the
grains back again under the pestle with the hands instead of with the
feet, as is the custom of the Kenyahs and Kayans. All day there were
brought for sale objects of ethnography, also beetles, animals, and birds.
Two attractive young girls sold me their primitive necklaces, consisting
of small pieces of the stalks of different plants, some of them
odoriferous, threaded on a string. One girl insisted that I put hers on
and wear it, the idea that it might serve any purpose other than to adorn
the neck never occurring to them. Two men arrived from Nohacilat, a
neighbouring kampong, to sell two pieces of aboriginal wearing apparel, a
tunic and a skirt. Such articles are very plentiful down there, they said,
and offered them at an astonishingly reasonable price.

Malay is not spoken here, and we got on as best we could--nevertheless the
want of an interpreter was seriously felt. The chief himself spoke some
and might have served fairly well, but he studiously remained away from
me, and even took most of the men from the kampong to make prahus at
another place. I was told that he was afraid of me, and certainly his
behaviour was puzzling. Three months later I was enlightened on this point
by the information that he had been arrested on account of the murder by
spear of a woman and two men, a most unusual occurrence among Dayaks, who,
as a rule, never kill any one in their own tribe. With the kampong
well-nigh deserted, it soon became evident that nothing was to be gained by
remaining and that I would better change the scene of my activities to
Long Kai, another Penihing kampong further down the river.

A small garrison had been established there, and by sending a message we
secured prahus and men, which enabled us to depart from our present
encampment. There were some rapids to pass in which our collector of
animals and birds nearly had his prahu swamped, and although it was filled
with water, owing to his pluck nothing was lost. At Long Kai the
lieutenant and Mr. Loing put up a long shed of tent material, while I
placed my tent near friendly trees, at the end of a broad piece of road on
the river bank, far enough from the kampong to avoid its noises and near
enough to the river to enjoy its pleasant murmur.

When going to their ladangs in the morning the Dayaks passed my tent,
thence following the tiny affluent, Kai, from which the kampong received
its name. Under the trees I often had interviews with the Penihings, and
also with the nomadic Bukats and Punans who had formed settlements in the
neighbouring country. Some of them came of their own accord, others were
called by Tingang, the kapala of Long Kai, who did good service as
interpreter, speaking Malay fairly well. From my tent I had a beautiful
view of the river flowing between wooded hills, and the air was often
laden with the same delicious fragrance from the bloom of a species of
trees which I had observed on the Kasao River. Here, however, the odour
lasted hours at a time, especially morning and evening. On the hills of
the locality grow many sago palms, to which the natives resort in case
rice is scarce.

It was quite agreeable to see a flag again, the symbol of the Dutch nation
being hoisted every day on the hill where the military encampment was
located, usually called benting (fortress). Even the striking of a bell
every half-hour seemed acceptable as a reminder of civilisation. The
soldiers were natives, mostly Javanese. The lieutenant, Th. F.J. Metsers,
was an amiable and courteous man who loaned me Dutch newspapers, which,
though naturally months out of date, nevertheless were much appreciated.
We were about 1 north of equator and usually had beautiful, clear nights
in the month of May. The Great Bear of the northern hemisphere was visible
above the horizon and the planet Venus looked large and impressive. There
were no mosquitoes and the air was fine, but at times the heat of the day
was considerable, especially before showers. After two days of very warm
weather without rain ominous dark clouds gathered in the west, and half an
hour later we were in the thick of a downpour and mist which looked as if
it might continue for days. But in inland Borneo one knows a rainstorm
will soon belong to the past. Two hours later the storm abated and before
sunset all was over, and the night came again clear and glorious.

One afternoon seven prahus with thirty-odd Dayaks were seen to arrive from
down the river, poling their way. They were Kayans from Long Blu, en route
for the Upper Kasao to gather rattan. Some of them called on me and
evidently already knew of the expedition. They carried only rice as
provisions and told me they intended to be away three months. On the Upper
Kasao there is no more rubber to be found, and, according to them, on the
upper part of Mahakam there is no more rattan.

The Penihings of Long Kai are good-natured and pleasant, and it was
refreshing to be among real, natural people to whom it never occurs that
nudity is cause for shame; whom the teaching of the Mohammedan Malays, of
covering the upper body, has not yet reached. This unconsciousness of evil
made even the old, hard-working women attractive. They were eager to sell
me their wares and implements, and hardly left me time to eat. Their
houses had good galleries and were more spacious than one would suppose
from a casual glance.

One morning I entered the rooms of one of the principal blians, from whom
I wanted to buy his shield, used as a musical instrument to accompany his
song. The shield looks like the ordinary variety used by all the tribes of
the Mahakam and also in Southern Borneo, but has from four to ten rattan
strings tied lengthwise on the back. In singing to call good spirits,
antohs, especially in case somebody is ill, he constantly beats with a
stick on one of the strings in a monotonous way without any change of
time. Among the Penihings this shield is specially made for the blian's
use, and unless it be new and unused he will not sell it, because the
blood of sacrificial animals has been smeared on its surface and the
patient would die. The only way I could secure one was by having it made
for me, which a blian is quite willing to do.

This man paid little attention to my suggestion of buying, but suddenly,
of his own accord, he seized the shield and played on it to show me how it
was done. While he sings he keeps his head down behind the shield, which
is held in upright position, and he strikes either with right or left
hand. He had scarcely performed a minute when a change came over him. He
stamped one foot violently upon the floor, ceased playing, and seemed to
be in a kind of trance, but recovered himself quickly. A good antoh, one
of several who possessed him, had returned to him after an absence and had
entered through the top of his head. So strong is the force of

It was a matter of considerable interest to me to meet here
representatives of two nomadic tribes of Borneo who had formed small
settlements in this remote region. I had already made the acquaintance of
the Punans in the Bulungan, but as they are very shy I welcomed the

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