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Through Central Borneo: by Carl Lumholtz

Part 5 out of 8

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custom. I did not notice that they brought dried fish, which is the usual
complement to a meal. In this section of the country there is much
admixture of blood between Dayaks and Malays, which accounts for the fact
that the latter are more genial and agreeable than their lower classes
usually are. At Pinang the small population turned out in full force,
standing picturesquely near the mosque on an open space between the
cocoanut-trees that grew on the high river-bank. It was evident that
visitors are not often seen there.

At Belimbing the usually steep, high river-bank had been made accessible
by short sticks so placed as to form steps that led up almost
perpendicularly. Great was my surprise to find myself facing an attractive
little pasang-grahan, lying on grassy, level ground at almost the same
height as the tops of the cocoanut and pinang palms on the other side of
the river. It was a lovely place and charmingly fresh and green. The
house, neatly built of palm-leaves, contained two rooms and a small
kitchen, with floors of bamboo. In the outer room was a table covered with
a red cloth and a lamp hung above it, for the Malays love the accessories
of civilisation. The kapala and the vaccinateur were there to receive us,
and we were treated as if we were officials, two men sleeping in the house
as guard. I was told there are no diseases here except mild cases of demum
(malaria) and an itching disorder of the skin between the fingers.

On the fourth day from Martapura we arrived at the first Dayak habitation,
Angkipi, where Bukits have a few small bamboo shanties consisting of one
room each, which were the only indications of a kampong. The most
prominent feature of the place was a house of worship, the so-called
balei, a square bamboo structure, the roomy interior of which had in the
centre a rectangular dancing-floor of bamboo sticks. A floor similarly
constructed, but raised some twenty-five centimetres higher, covered about
all the remaining space, and serves as temporary habitations for the
people, many small stalls having been erected for the purpose. Our friend
the vaccinateur was already busy inside the building, vaccinating some
fifty Dayaks from the neighbouring hills and mountains who had responded
to his call. When I entered, they showed timidity, but their fears were
soon allayed, and I made myself at home on the raised floor, where I had a
good camping-place.

Although these Bukits, among whom I travelled thereafter, are able to
speak Malay, or Bandjer, the dialect of Bandjermasin, they have preserved
more of their primitive characteristics than I expected. As I learned
later, at Angkipi especially, and during a couple more days of travel,
they were less affected by Malay influence than the Dayaks elsewhere on my
route. The kampong exists only in name, not in fact, the people living in
the hills in scattered groups of two or three houses. Rice is planted but
once a year, and quite recently the cultivation of peanuts, which I had
not before observed in Borneo, had been introduced through the Malays.
Bukits never remain longer than two years at the same house, usually only
half that time, making ladang near by, and the next year they move to a
new house and have a new ladang. For their religious feasts they gather in
the balei, just as the ancient Mexicans made temporary habitations in and
near their temples, and as the Huichols and other Indians of Mexico do

The natives of Angkipi are stocky, crude people. Several had eyes set
obliquely, _a la_ Mongol, in a very pronounced manner, with the nose
depressed at the base and the point slightly turned upward. Among the
individuals measured, two young women were splendid specimens, but there
were difficulties in regard to having them photographed, as they were all
timid and anxious to go home to their mountains.

Next day, marching through a somewhat hilly country, we arrived at the
kampong Mandin on the River Lahanin. Here was the residence of Ismail, to
whose influence probably was due the recent conversion to Islam of several
families. The pasang-grahan, though small, was clean and there was room
for all. Thanks to the efforts of the vaccinateur, the Dayaks, who were
very friendly, submitted to the novel experience of the camera and kept me
busy the day that we remained there. A great number of women whom I
photographed in a group, as soon as I gave the signal that it was all
over, rushed with one impulse to the river to cleanse themselves from the
evil effects of the operation.

As the Bukits are not very strong in carrying burdens, we needed fifty
carriers, and Ismail having assisted in solving the problem, the march was
continued through a country very much cut up into gulches and small hills.
Time and again we crossed the Riham Kiwa, and went down and up gullies
continually. At a small kampong, where I took my midday meal sitting under
a banana-tree, the kapala came and in a friendly way presented me with a
basket of bananas, for these Dayaks are very hospitable, offering,
according to custom, rice and fruit to the stranger. He told me that
nearly all the children were ill, also two adults, but nobody had died
from a disease which was raging, evidently measles.

At Ado a harvest-festival was in progress in the balei, which, there, was
of rectangular shape. Within I found quite elaborate preparations, among
which was prominently displayed a wooden image of the great hornbill.
There was also a tall, ornamental stand resembling a candelabrum, made of
wood and decorated with a profusion of long, slightly twisted strips of
leaves from the sugar-palm, which hung down to the floor. From here nine
men returned to our last camping-place, where they had left a similar
feast in order to serve me. The harvest-festival is called bluput, which
means that the people fulfil their promise to antoh. It lasts from five to
seven days, and consists mostly of dancing at night. Neighbouring kampongs
are invited and the guests are given boiled rice, and sometimes babi, also
young bamboo shoots, which are in great favour and are eaten as a sayur.
When the harvest is poor, no feast is made.

The balei was very stuffy, and little light or air could enter, so I
continued my journey, arriving later in the afternoon at Beringan, where a
tiny, but clean, pasang-grahan awaited us. It consisted mainly of four
small bamboo stalls, in which there was room for all of us to sleep, but
the confined air produced a disagreeable congestion in my head the next
day. We now had to send for men to Lok Besar, which was our ultimate goal,
and the following day we arrived there, passing through a country somewhat
more hilly than hitherto. I put up my tent under some bananas, and felt
comfortable to be by myself again, instead of sleeping in crowded
pasang-grahans. There was not even such accommodation here, but the kapala
put most of his little house at our disposal, reserving only a small room
and the kitchen for himself and family. The boiling-point thermometer
showed an elevation of 270 metres.

I had a meeting with the blians, who knew nothing worth mentioning. Almost
everything had been forgotten, even the language, still it is remarkable
how primitive these people remain, and there is scarcely any mixture of
Malay apparent in the type. For two or three days the kind-hearted, simple
people gathered in numbers at the middle kampong of the three which bear
the same name, Lok Besar, upper, middle, and lower. The Dayaks call the
upper one Darat, which means headwaters.

One man had a skin formation which at a superficial glance might be taken
for a tail. It was about the size of a man's thumb, felt a little hard
inside, and could be moved either way. On the outside of each thigh, over
the head of the femur, was a similar but smaller formation. Another man
had an excrescence on each thigh, similarly located, but very regular in
shape, forming half a globe; I saw a Dayak on the Mahakam with the same
phenomenon. One woman had such globular growths, though much smaller, in
great numbers on the feet.

Among the Bukits I observed two harelipped men, one hunchback, and an
unusual number of persons with goitre. These natives drink water by the
aid of a leaf folded into an improvised cup. Eight of the upper front
teeth are cut. Suicide is not known. Their only weapon at present is the
spear, which they buy very cheaply from the Malays, but formerly the
sumpitan was also in use. To hunt pig they have to go some distance into
the mountains; therefore, they seldom undertake it. Honey is gathered by
climbing the tree in which the bees' nest is discovered. Bamboo pegs are
inserted in the trunk at intervals and a rope made from a certain root is
tied between them, thus forming a ladder upon which the natives ascend the
tree at night. The women make rattan mats, and also habongs or receptacles
in which to carry the mats when travelling.

Fire is extinguished for the night. These natives sleep on a single mat,
made from either bamboo or rattan, and usually nothing is placed under the
head, but sometimes small wooden blocks are used. In the morning when they
arise they roll the mats, and the chamber-work is done. A young girl whom
I measured had her hair fastened up with the quill of a porcupine; when
asked to undo her hair, she put the quill under the top of her skirt. The
Bukits possess one musical instrument, sarunai, a kind of clarinet, which
does not sound badly. There are many blians, nearly all men. Several
prominent members of the tribe asserted that head-hunting was never
practised--at least there is no tradition concerning it.

A man may have one, two, or three wives. When a young man is poor, he pays
two ringits or two sarongs to his bride's father, but half that amount is
sufficient for a woman no longer youthful. The usual payment appears to be
twelve ringits or twelve sarongs, which the blian at the wedding places on
top of his head, while with his right hand he shakes two metal rings
provided with rattles. On the Barito I noted the same kind of rattles used
on a similar occasion. He asks Dewa not to make them ill, and a hen as
well as boiled rice is sacrificed to this antobu. The dead are buried in
the ground as deep as the height of a man. Formerly the corpse was placed
in a small bamboo house which rested on six upright poles, and on the
floor a mat was spread.

I was pleasantly surprised one day when a Dayak arrived at our kampong
bringing a number of attractive new bamboo baskets which he had bought on
the Tappin River, near by to the west. He was going to finish them off by
doing additional work on the rims and then carry them to Kandangan, where
they would fetch about one guilder each. All were of the same shape, but
had different designs, and he knew the meaning of these--there was no
doubt about it--so I bought his entire stock, thirteen in number. I
learned that most of the people were able to interpret the basket designs,
but the art of basket-making is limited, most of them being made by one or
two women on the Tappin. A very good one, large and with a cover, came
from the neighbouring lower kampong. An old blian sold it to me, and his
wife softly reproved him for so doing, but when I gave her ten cents as a
present she seemed very well satisfied.

For the interpretation of these designs I found an excellent teacher in a
gentlewoman from the lower kampong. She had extensive knowledge concerning
this matter, an impression later confirmed by submission of the baskets to
another woman expert from the Tappin, of repute as a maker and for
knowledge of the designs. I hope that in due time my informant will
receive the photograph of herself and her boys which I shall send to her
in grateful recognition of her valuable assistance. Her name was Dongiyak,
while her good husband was called Nginging. She had two attractive and
extremely well-behaved sons of twelve and fourteen years, who trusted
implicitly in her and showed absolute obedience, while she was kindness
itself coupled with intelligence. In fact their relations were ideal, and
it seemed a pity that these fine boys should grow to manhood and die in
dense ignorance.

I doubt whether any traveller, including the honest missionary, disagrees
with the terse sentence of the great Wallace in _The Malay Archipelago_:
"We may safely affirm that the better specimens of savages are much
superior to the lower examples of civilised peoples." Revolting customs
are found, to be sure, among native races, but there are also redeeming
virtues. Is there a so-called Christian community of which it may be truly
said that its members do not steal, as is the case with the majority of
Dayak tribes? There are savage races who are truthful, and the North
American Indians never broke a treaty.

In the morning, when beginning my return journey, I had to send more than
once to the kampong below to ask the men to come, because of their
reluctance to carry burdens. We had to proceed slowly, and early in the
afternoon reached the summit of the watershed, which naturally is not at
its highest here, the elevation ascertained by boiling-point thermometer
being 815 metres. At a temperature of 85 F., among shady trees, a short
rest was very acceptable, and to get down the range proved quick work as
the woods were not dense. Afterward we followed a path through tall grass
over fallen trunks, crossing numerous gullies and rivulets. As darkness
approached, clouds gathered threateningly and rain began to fall. It was
really a pleasure to have the kapala of Tumingki meet us a couple of
kilometres before arriving there. A man whom I had sent ahead to the river
Tappin for the purpose of securing more baskets and to bring a woman to
interpret the designs, had evidently told him about us.



The kapala cleared the way with his parang, and just before dusk we
arrived at the balei, a large structure which the people had taken as a
permanent abode, having no houses and possessing ladangs near by. Many
fires were burning inside, round which the families had gathered cooking
rice, and my entire party also easily found room. The kapala at once sent
out five men to gather the necessary coolies for the continuance of our
journey the following day.

The carriers were slow in coming, and while waiting in the morning I
catalogued four baskets which my messenger had brought from Tappin and a
few more which I was able to buy here. The woman from Tappin, who
accompanied my man, was even better informed than Dongiyak. She knew
designs with remarkable certainty, and it was gratifying to be able to
confirm information gathered before, also in two instances to correct
errors. Many of the designs seemed familiar to the men standing around,
for they, too, without being asked, would sometimes indicate the meaning

This done, I again inspected the balei, accompanied by the kapala who
himself was a blian; he and the others were perfectly willing to give any
information about customs and beliefs, although equally unable to do so.
The dancing space in the middle was rectangular, about eight metres long,
lying nearly east and west. It was about thirty centimetres lower than the
remainder of the floor, on which I counted nineteen small rooms, or rather
stalls. In the middle of the dancing place was a large ornamental stand
made of wood, twice as high as a man, from which were hanging great
quantities of stripped palm leaves. From the western part of the stand
protruded upward a long narrow plank, painted with simple curved designs
representing nagah, the great antoh, shaped like a serpent and provided
with four short curved fangs stretched forward. The people could not be
induced to sell the effigy because it was not yet one year old.

The country was uneven and heavy for travelling, or, as the carriers
expressed it, the land was sakit (Malay for "ill"). There were more
mountain ranges than I expected, rather low, though one we got a fine view
of two quite impressive mountains. Here and there on the distant hillsides
ladangs were seen and solitary houses could be discerned. On our arrival
in the first kampong we were hospitably offered six young cocoanuts,
considered a great delicacy even among white people. Although I do not
much appreciate the sweetish, almost flavourless water of this fruit, they
proved very acceptable to my men, as the day was intensely hot for Borneo.

At the kampong Belimbing, by taking out on of the walls which were
constructed like stiff mats, I obtained a good room in the pasang grahan,
but the difficulty about getting men increased. The kapala, or pumbakal,
as this official is called in these parts, was obliging and friendly, but
he had slight authority and little energy. He personally brought the men
by twos and threes, finally one by one, and he worked hard. When finally
we were able to start, still a couple of men short, he asked to be excused
from accompanying me further, to which I readily assented. There were too
many pumbakals who graced the expedition with their presence. I believe we
had four that day who successively led the procession, generally with good
intentions to be of assistance, but, in accordance with their dignity,
carrying little or nothing, and receiving the same payment as the rest.
However, it must be conceded that their presence helped to make an
impression on the next kampong which was expected to furnish another gang
of carriers.

We managed to travel along, and finally reached the last Dayak kampong,
Bayumbong, consisting of the balei and a small house. The balei was of
limited proportions, dark, and uninviting, so I put up my tent, which was
easily done as the pumbakal and men were friendly and helpful. All the
carriers were, of course, anxious to return, but as they were engaged to
go to Kandangan I told them they would have to continue, promising,
however, to pay for two days instead of one and to give them all rice in
the evening. These people are like children, and in dealing with them a
determined but accommodating ruling is necessary.

The journey was less rough than before, though we still passed gulches
over which bamboo poles afforded passage for a single file, and soon the
road began to be level. It was not more than four or five hours' walk to
Kandangan, but rain began to fall and the men each took a leaf from the
numerous banana trees growing along the road with which to protect
themselves. On approaching the village we found two sheds some distance
apart which had been built conveniently over the road for the comfort of
travelling "inlanders." As the downpour was steady I deemed it wise to
stop under these shelters, on account of the natives, if for no other
reason, as they are unwilling carriers in rain.

The house of a Malay official was near by, and after a few minutes he came
forth in the rain, a servant bringing a chair which he offered to me.
Feeling hungry, I inquired if bananas were purchasable, but without
immediate result. He was naturally curious to know where I came from, and
having been satisfied in that respect he went back to his house, soon
returning with bananas and a cup of tea. Hearing that I had been three
weeks without mail and was anxious to have news of the war, he also
brought me two illustrated Malay periodicals published in Amsterdam. Alas!
they were half a year old, but nevertheless, among the illustrations were
some I had not seen before. This was a worthy Malay and not unduly
forward--he was too well-mannered for that.

The rain having abated somewhat we soon found ourselves in Kandangan,
where the curiosity of Malays and Chinese was aroused by our procession.
Neither the assistant-resident nor the controleur were at home, but the
former was expected next morning. Many Malays, big and little, gathered in
front of the pasang grahan, where the man in charge could not be found,
but a small boy started in search of him. After half-an-hour the rest of
our party began to come in, and forty-five wet coolies with their damp
burdens filled the ante-room of the pasang grahan, to the despair of the
Malay custodian who belatedly appeared on the scene. Notwithstanding the
unpleasantness of the crowded room I did not think it right to leave the
poor carriers out in the rain, therefore had allowed them to remain. The
burdens having been freed from the rattan and natural fibrous bands by
which they had been carried, these wrappings--a load for two men--were
disposed of by being thrown into the river. Gradually the place assumed an
orderly aspect and Mr. Loing and I established ourselves in two quite
comfortable rooms.

Through fortunate circumstances the assistant-resident, Mr. A.F. Meyer,
was able to arrange to have our old acquaintance, the river-steamer
_Otto,_ to wait for us at Negara and take us to Bandjermasin. His wife had
an interesting collection of live animals and birds from the surrounding
country. She loved animals and possessed much power over them. A kitten of
a wild cat of the jungle, obtained five days previously, was as tame as a
domesticated specimen of the same age. She stroked the back of a hawk
which was absolutely quiet without being tied or having its wings cut. He
sat with his back toward us and as she stroked him merely turned his head,
immediately resuming his former position. All the birds were in perfect
plumage at that time, the month of November, and in fine condition.

We came to a number of beautiful rails, males and females, from the large
marshes of the neighbourhood; the birds were busily running about, but at
sight of her they stopped and emitted clacking notes. From the same
marshes had been obtained many small brownish ducks with exquisitely
shaded coats. The snake bird, with its long, straight, sharp beak and
long, thin neck, she said was dangerous, and she teased him to thrust his
head through the rails. Finally she took from a cage two musangs which
were resting and pressed them against her chest. They were as tame as
cats. It was curious to note that when walking they held their tails so
that a loop was formed in the middle.

In Negara are many high-gabled houses, which I was told are Bandjermasin
style; at all events, they form the original Malay architectural pattern
in Borneo. The town is strongly Malay and famous for its boat-building.
The gondola-like boats of ironwood that attract the attention of the
stranger on his first visit to Bandjermasin, come from this place.
Mosquitoes were troublesome in the surrounding marshes; nevertheless, I
understand there is no malaria.

In this and similar sections in the vicinity of Bandjermasin it is
noticeable that Malay women and girls whiten their faces on special
occasions, doubtless in imitation of Chinese custom. The paint, called
popor, is made from pulverised egg-shells mixed with water, and, for the
finest quality, pigeons' egg-shells are utilised. Where there is much
foreign influence Dayak women have adopted this fashion for festal
occasions. At harvest time, when both Dayak and Malay women wear their
best garments, the faces of the women and the little girls are painted.

My expedition of three weeks had proved successful mainly on account of
the unexpectedly well-preserved knowledge of decorative designs which I
encountered among the Bukits. Otherwise they are slowly but surely
yielding to the Malay influence to which they have been exposed for
hundreds of years. Only the comparative inaccessibility of the country has
prevented their complete absorption.



Arrangements were at once begun for another expedition, this time to the
west of Bandjermasin. I planned to ascend the Mendawei, or Katingan River,
as it is also called, and, if circumstances permitted, cross over to the
headwaters of the Sampit, returning by that stream. Through the kind
efforts of the resident, Mr. H.J. Grijson, arrangements were made that
would enable me to use the government's steam-launch _Selatan_ as far up
the river as it is navigable, to Kuala Samba, and in case necessity arose,
to have it wait for my return. This arrangement would save much time.

Accompanied by Mr. Loing, the surveyor, on the last day of November I left
Bandjermasin on the steamship _Janssens_, which, en route for Singapore,
was to call at Sampit. There is always a large contingent of Malays who
with their families go on this steamer to and fro between Borneo and the
Malay Peninsula, where they work on rubber and cocoanut plantations; out
of their earnings they buy the desires of their hearts--bicycles and
yellow shoes. Thus equipped they go back to Bandjermasin to enjoy
themselves a few weeks, after which the bicycles are sold and the
erstwhile owners return to the scene of their labours to start afresh.

The controleur, Mr. H.P. Schouten, had just returned on the _Selatan_ from
a trip up the Katingan, and turned it over to my use. When the coaling had
been done and our goods taken on board, the strong little boat lay deep,
but the captain said it was all right. He was the same able djuragan of
two years before. Having received from the controleur letters to the five
native officials located on the Katingan, we departed, and the following
morning arrived at the mouth of the river. At first the country was very
thinly inhabited, because the banks are too low to encourage settlement.
As hitherto noted the country bordering on the lower portions of the great
rivers is populated by Malays exclusively, and here their territory
stretches almost to Kasungan. The remainder of the riparian lands is
occupied by Katingans. There is some slight difference in the language
spoken by those who live on the middle part, from Kasungan to Bali (south
of Kuala Samba), and those who from Bali northward occupy the rest of the
watercourse. They are termed by the Malays Lower and Upper Katingans.
Those of the first category appeared to be of medium size and inclined to
stoutness; on the upper stretches of the river they are taller. These and
other differences may be due in a measure to tribal changes brought about
by head-hunting raids. It is known that there was an influx of Ot-Danums
from the Samba on account of such raids. While all Katingans eat snakes
and large lizards, the upper ones do not eat rusa but the lower ones do.
Their total number is estimated to be about 6,000. In 1911-1912 this river
was visited by cholera and smallpox, which reduced the population by 600
and caused the abandonment of some kampongs.

Under favourable circumstances one may travel by prahu to Kuala Samba, our
first goal, in sixteen days, the return journey occupying half that time.
On reaching Kasungan the river was not quite two metres deep, dimming our
chances of proceeding further with the steam-launch. The djuragan put up
his measuring rod on the beach, for unless the water rose he would have to
go one day down stream. The prospect was not pleasing. The under kapala of
the district, a native official whose title for the sake of convenience is
always abbreviated to the "onder," at once exerted himself in search of a
large boat belonging to a Malay trader, supposed to be somewhere in the
neighbourhood, and a young Dutchman who recently had established himself
here as a missionary was willing to rent me his motor-boat to tow it.

After several days of preparation, the river showing no sign of rising, we
started in an unusually large prahu which was provided with a kind of deck
made of palm-leaf mats and bamboo, slightly sloping to each side. It would
have been quite comfortable but for the petroleum smoke from the
motor-boat, which was sickening and made everything dirty.

In 1880, when Controleur W.J. Michielsen visited the Katingan and Samba
Rivers, the kampongs consisted of "six to ten houses each, which are lying
in a row along the river bank and shaded by many fruit trees, especially
cocoanut palms and durians." A similar description would serve to-day. The
large communal house as known in most parts of Borneo does not seem to
obtain here. Communal houses of small size were in use ten years
previously and are still found on the Upper Samba. Their gradual
disappearance may be explained by the fact that the government, as I was
informed, does not encourage the building of communal houses.

Whatever the reason, at the present time the dwelling is a more or less
flimsy structure, built with no thought of giving access to fresh air, and
sometimes no provision is made for the escape of smoke from the fireplace.
But the people are very hospitable; they gladly received us in their
houses, and allowed me, for purposes of ventilation, to demolish
temporarily part of the unsubstantial wall, which consisted of bark or
stiff mats. The high ladder is generally provided with a railing leaning
outward at either side.

The Katingans are shy, kind-hearted natives, the great majority of them
being unusually free from skin disease. No illness was apparent. With some
of the Lower Katingans the calf of the leg was below normal size. This was
the case with three women in Pendahara, and also with a blian who
otherwise was a stout man. All the men have a large representation of the
full moon tatued on the calf of the leg, following the custom of the
Ot-Danums, Murungs, and Siangs. As far as I ascended the river the Upper
Katingans rarely have more tatuing than this, but the Lower Katingans are
elaborately ornamented, chest and arms being covered with illustrations of
familiar objects. Several old men, now dead, had their bodies, even their
backs, legs, and faces, covered with tatu marks, and one thus decorated
was said still to be living.

Near the kampong Pendahara, where we camped the first night, were many of
the majestic tapang trees which I first noticed on the Barito. In the calm
evening after a light shower, with the moon almost full, their tall stems
and beautiful crowns were reflected in the placid water. The Katingans
guard and protect these trees because they are the abode of bees, and when
the Malays cut them down the Dayaks are indignant. Both honey and wax are
gathered, the latter to be sold. The nest is reached in the customary
manner by a ladder of sharpened bamboo pegs driven into the rather soft
wood as the man ascends. The gathering is done at night, an assistant
bearing a torch made of bark and filled with damar or wax. The native
first smears himself with honey in order that the bees shall not sting
him; when he reaches the deposit a large bark bucket is hoisted up and
filled. In lowering it the honey sometimes disappears, my informant said,
because antoh is very fond of it.

About noon, as we were passing a ladang near Bali, we heard the beating of
a gong, also weird singing by a woman. It was evident that a ceremony of
some kind was in progress, probably connected with funeral observances, so
I ordered a halt. As we lay by many people gathered on the top of the
steep bank. We learned that an old woman had died and that the ceremonies
were being performed in her honour. I climbed the ladder and found in
front of me a house on poles, simply constructed, as they always are at
the ladangs. Several of the men wore chavats; an elderly female blian sang
continuously, and a fire was burning outside.

Ascending the ladder of the house I entered a dingy room into which the
light came sparingly. In a corner many women were sitting silently. Near
them stood one of the beautiful red baskets for which the Katingans higher
up the river are famous. As I proceeded a little further an extremely fine
carved casket met my astonished eyes. Judging from its narrowness the
deceased, who had been ill for a long time, must have been very thin when
she passed away, but the coffin, to which the cover had been fastened with
damar, was of excellent proportions and symmetrical in shape. The material
was a lovely white wood of Borneo, on which were drawn large round flowers
on graceful vines, done in a subdued light red colour procured from a
pigment found in the earth. The effect was magnificent, reminding me of
French tapestries. Two diminutive and unfinished mats were lying on the
cover, symbolising clothing for the deceased, and tufts of long, beautiful
grass had been tied to the top at either end. The coffin was to be placed
on a platform in the utan. Its name in Katungan is bakan runi; (bakan =
form, exterior; runi = dead person)

To see such an artistic production was worth a great deal of trouble.
Usually this and similar work is made by several working in unison, who
co-operate to obtain the best result in the shortest time. I was gratified
when they agreed to make an exact copy for me, to be ready on my return
from up country. When one of the men consented to pose before the camera
his wife fled with ludicrous precipitation. A dwarf was photographed,
forty years old and unmarried, whose height was 1.13 metres.

I was about to leave when the people began to behave in a boisterous
manner. Men caught firebrands and beat with them about the feet of the
others. Some cut mats in pieces, ignited them, and struck with those. A
woman came running out of the house with a piece of burning mat and beat
me about my feet and ankles (my trousers and shoes were supposed to be
white) and then went after others, all in good humour and laughingly. She
next exchanged firebrands with a man, and both struck at each other
repeatedly. This same custom is used at funerals with the Ot-Danums on the
Samba, and the explanation given in both tribes is that the mourners want
to forget their grief.

After distributing pieces of chewing-tobacco to all present, which seemed
to please them much, I left the entertaining scene. In the afternoon we
arrived at a small kampong, Tevang Karangan, (tevang = inlet; karangan = a
bank of coarse sand or pebbles) where Upper Katingans appeared for the
first time. No Malays live here, but there is much intermixture with
Ot-Danums. The people were without rice, and edible roots from the jungle
were lying in the sun to dry. The cemetery was close at hand in the
outskirts of the jungle, where little houses could be seen consisting
simply of platforms on four poles with roofs of palm-leaf mats, each
containing one, two, or three coffins. It is impossible to buy skulls from
the Dayaks on account of their fear that the insult may be avenged by the
ghost of the original owner, through the infliction of misfortunes of
various kinds--illness, loss of crops, etc. According to their belief,
punishment would not descend upon the stranger who abstracted a human bone
from a coffin, but upon the natives who permitted the theft. Moreover,
they believe they have a right to kill the intruder; the bone must be
returned and a pig killed as a sacrifice to the wandering liao of the
corpse. But the case is somewhat different with slaves, who up to some
thirty years ago were commonly kept in these districts, and whose bodies
after death were disposed of separately from those of free people.

Kuala Samba is quite a large kampong situated at the junction of the Samba
with the Katingan River, and inhabited chiefly by the Bakompai, a branch
of the Malays. Our large boat had to remain here until we returned from
our expedition up the Samba, the main tributary of the river and inhabited
by Ot-Danums who are called Duhoi, their proper name in these parts. I
desired to start immediately and the "onder" of the place, as well as the
pumbakal, at once set to work chasing for prahus, but things moved slowly
and people seemed to take their own time about obeying the authorities.

Not until nine o'clock next day could we leave, and I was glad it was no
later. The prahus in these regions are large and comfortable, with a
bamboo covering in the bottom. They probably originated with the Bakompai,
but the Duhoi also make them. At five o'clock it was thought best to camp
at the lonely house of a Kahayan, recently immigrated here, whose wife was
a Duhoi woman. As usual I had to remove part of the wall to get air, the
family sleeping in the next room. In the small hours of the morning, by
moonlight, two curious heads appeared in the doorway, like silhouettes, to
observe me, and as the surveillance became annoyingly persistent I
shortened the exercises I usually take.

At the first kampong prahus and paddlers were changed, and on a rainy day
we arrived at a small kampong, Kuluk Habuus, where I acquired some
unusually interesting carved wooden objects called kapatongs, connected
with the religious life of the Duhoi and concerning which more will be
told presently. As a curious fact may be mentioned that a Kahayan living
here had a full, very strong growth of beard. A few more of the Kahayans,
one in Kuala Kapuas for instance, are known to be similarly endowed by
nature although not in the same degree as this one. The families
hospitably vacated their rooms in our favour, and a clean new rattan mat
was spread on the floor. At Tumbang Mantike, on this river, there is said
to be much iron ore of good quality, from which formerly even distant
tribes derived their supplies.

I had been told that a trip of a few hours would bring us to the next
kampong, but the day proved to be a very long one. There were about five
kihams to pass, all of considerable length though not high. It soon became
evident that our men, good paddlers as they were, did not know how to
overcome these, hesitating and making up for their inefficiency by
shouting at the top of their voices. However insignificant the stream,
they yelled as if passing a risky place. Sunset came and still the kampong
was--djau (far). Mr. Loing had gone in our small prahu with four of our
best men to finish the map-making, if possible, before darkness set in.

The light of day faded, though not so quickly as the books represent, but
soon it was as dark as possible before the appearance of the waning moon
which would not be visible for several hours. I had let Mr. Loing have my
lamp, so I lit a candle. It was not a pleasant experience, with clumsy
stupid men who, however, did their best, all finally taking to the water,
wading and pushing the boat, constantly emitting loud, hoarse cries to
encourage themselves; and thus we progressed little by little. What with
the faint light of the candle, the constant rush of water, and the noise
of the rapids, though not dangerous in the day time, the situation
demanded calmness. Moreover, there was the possibility of an overflow of
the river, which often happens, caused by rains above. I thought of the
Kenyahs of the Bulungan--if I only had them now. After an hour and a half
of this exasperating sort of progress we came to smooth water, but even
here the men lost time by running into snags which they ought to have
seen, because I had gotten my hurricane lamp from Mr. Loing whom we had
overtaken. One of the men was holding it high up in the bow, like the
Statue of Liberty in New York harbour.

There were only three or four houses at the kampong where we arrived at
nine o'clock, but people kindly permitted us to occupy the largest. The
men were allowed an extra ration of rice on account of their exertions
since eight o'clock in the morning, as well as some maize that I had
bought, and all came into the room to cook at the fireplace. Besides Mr.
Loing and myself all our baggage was there, and the house, built on high
poles, was very shaky. The bamboo floor gave way in a disagreeable manner,
and it did not seem a remote possibility for it to fall, though the genial
lady of the manor, who went away herself, assured us that the house was
strong. I did not feel thoroughly comfortable until the "onder" and the
thirteen men had finished their cooking and gone elsewhere to camp. When
all was quiet and we could go to sleep it was twelve o'clock.

Early in the morning Mr. Loing went back in the small prahu to take up the
map where he had been compelled to quit on account of the darkness. In the
meantime I had opportunity to receive a man who had been reported to me
the previous night as wanting assistance because of a wound on his head.
Knowing that the Dayaks are always ready to seize an opportunity to obtain
medicine, even when they are well, I postponed examining into his case. He
had merely a scratch on his forehead--not even a swelling.



As we approached the kampong Kuala Braui, our next objective, the men in
our prahus began yelling in time, in a manner surprisingly like a college
yell. We were received at the landing float by the "onder" of the place, a
nervous and shy but intelligent looking Duhoi. Pajamas graced his tall
form as an outward sign that he was more than an ordinary Dayak, and he
wore the same suit every day for a week without washing it. He spoke very
few Malay words, which made intercourse with him difficult. Very gentle
and retiring, by those unacquainted with the Dayaks he would be regarded
as unlikely to possess head-hunting proclivities; nevertheless, twenty
years previous to my visit, this same man avenged members of his family
who had been deprived of their heads by Penyahbongs, killing two of the
band and preserving their heads. Ten years before he had presented them to
Controleur Baren on the Kayan River, thus depriving me of the chance I had
hoped for on my arrival.

The small kampong on the river bank, which here is over twenty metres high
and very steep, is new, and a primitive pasang grahan was in course of
erection. Six men were much entertained by the novel work of putting up my
tent and received tobacco as remuneration. The place lies near an affluent
from the north, called Braui, which is more difficult of ascent than the
Samba on account of its many kiams. The kapala of the kampong, with two
prahus, had ascended it in twenty days. The Dayaks told me that if they
wanted gold they were able to wash much in these rivers when the water is

I heard here of large congregations of wild pigs, up to 500 or 1,000. When
the herds, called dundun, have eaten all the fruit at one place they move
to another, feeding and marching, following one leader. They can be heard
at a great distance, and there is time to seek safety by climbing a tree
or running. When hunting pigs in the customary way, with dogs and spears,
men have been killed by these animals, though the victims are never eaten.
A fine rusa with large horns was killed one day when crossing the river,
and I preserved the head. It seemed to me to have shorter hair on the back
and sides than this deer usually has, and was larger. The flesh tasted
extremely well, in fact much better than that of the ordinary variety.
During our stay here, in December, a strong wind blew almost every day,
late in the afternoon, not always bringing rain, and quite chilly after

When Schwaner made his memorable exploration in 1847 he did not come up
the Samba, but ascended the Katingan River, returning to Western Borneo
over the mountains that bear his name. Controleur Michielsen, in 1880, was
the first European to visit the Samba River, and since then it has been
ignored by explorers. It is part of a large region occupied by the
Ot-Danums, a name which signifies people living at the sources (ot) of the
rivers (danum = water, river). They are found chiefly around the headwaters
of the Kapuas and the Kahayan, and on the Samba and Braui. Some also live
on the upper tributaries to the Katingan, for instance on the Hiran. On all
these rivers they may number as many as 5,000, about 1,200 of which should
be located on the Samba and the Braui. The last figures are fairly correct,
but the first ones are based only on information derived from native

On the Samba, where I met the Ot-Danums, they are known as Duhoi, a name
applied by themselves and other tribes. They are still in a primitive
condition, though in outward appearance beginning to show the effect of
foreign influence. While a few wear chavats and sometimes becoming rattan
caps, nearly all cut their hair, and they no longer have sumpitans. Higher
up the river is a Malay kampong consisting of settlers from the Western
Division. Occasional traders also bring about inevitable changes, though
as yet few of these Dayaks speak Malay.

The Kahayans who live to the east of them always liked to come to the
Samba, often marrying Duhoi wives, and they also exert an influence. In
intellect they are superior to the Duhoi as well as in knowledge of
worldly affairs, in that respect resembling the Malays, though they have
none of their objectionable qualities. One or two of them are generally
present in a kampong, and I always found them useful because they speak
Malay well besides being truthful and reliable. Some of these are converts
to Christianity through the efforts of the Protestant mission on the
Kahayan River, which has begun to extend its activity to the Samba by
means of such Kahayans.

I prevailed on the "onder" to call the people from three kampongs above,
promising presents of rice. He wrote the order himself in Arabic letters
and sent it on, and late the following day twenty-five Duhoi arrived,
among them four women and several children. Many showed indications of
having had smallpox, not in a scarred face, but by the loss of an eye; one
man was totally blind from the same cause. In order to induce them to
dance I bought a domestic pig, which was brought from the ladang and in
the customary way was left on the ground in the middle of the dancing
place. Four men attended to the gongs which had unusually fine tones.

The women were persuaded to come forward with difficulty. As I expected,
they were like bundles of cloth, exhibiting Malay innovations, and the
dance was uninteresting, each woman keeping her position in a stationary
circle. There was not much life in the dancing of the men either, each
performing at his place in a similar circle, with some movements
resembling the most common form of dancing hitherto described. Finally,
one whose long hair and attire, an ancient short shirt, betrayed him as
belonging to the old school, suddenly stepped forward, drew his parang,
and began to perform a war dance, swinging himself gracefully in a circle.
Another man was almost his equal, and these two danced well around the
babi which was lying at the foot of two thin upright bamboo poles; to the
top of one of these a striped cloth had been tied.

This meeting was followed by friendly dealings with the Dayaks of the
kampongs above, who began to visit me. Silent and unobtrusive, they often
seated themselves before my tent, closely observing my movements,
especially at meal time, eager to get the tin that soon would be empty. A
disagreeable feature, however, was that the natives often brought
mosquitoes with them, and when they began to slap themselves on arms and
legs their absence would have been more acceptable than their company. But
each day they offered for sale objects of great interest and variety.
Several beautifully engraved wah-wah (long armed monkey) bones, serving as
handles for women's knives, are worthy of mention, one of which might be
termed exquisite in delicate execution of design. Admirable mats were made
by the tribe, but the designs proved perplexing to interpret, as knowledge
on the subject seems to be lost. The difficulty about an interpreter was
solved when the "onder's" clerk returned from a brief absence; he was an
intelligent and trustworthy Kayan who spoke Malay well, had been a
Christian for six years, but adopted Islam when he married a Bakompai
wife. Compared with the retiring "onder," who, though a very good man,
seemed to feel the limitations of his position, this Kahayan appeared more
like a man of the world.

I made a large collection of kapatongs (in Kahayan, hapatong), which here,
and in less degree on the Katingan, I found more abundant than in any
region of Borneo visited. These interesting objects are carved
representations of a good antoh, or of man, bird, or animal which good
antohs have entered, and which, therefore, are believed to protect their
owners. When the carving has been finished the blian invokes a beneficent
antoh to take it in possession, by dancing and singing one or two nights
and by smearing blood on it from the sacrifice of a fowl, pig, or a
water-buffalo--formerly often taken from a slave. As with a person, so with
a kapatong; nobody is permitted to step over it lest the good antoh which
resides in it should become frightened and flee.

Kapatongs are made from ironwood; they are of various kinds and serve many
purposes. The larger ones, which appear as crude statues in many kampongs
of Southern Borneo, more rarely on the Mahakam, are supposed to be
attendants on the souls of the dead and were briefly described in Chapter

The smaller kapatongs are used for the protection of the living and all
their earthly belongings or pursuits. These images and their pedestals are
usually carved from one block, though the very small ones may be made to
stand inside of an upright piece of bamboo. Some kapatongs are placed in
the ladang to protect the crops, others in the storehouse or inside the
baskets where rice or food is kept. The monkey, itself very predatory on
the rice fields, is converted into an efficient watchman in the form of
its image, which is considered an excellent guardian of boiled rice that
may be kept over from one meal to the next.

For protection at night the family may have a number of images, preferably
seven, placed upright and tied together, standing near the head of the
bed; a representation of the tiger-cat is placed on top of it all, for he
impersonates a strong, good antoh who guards man night and day. From the
viewpoint of the Katingans the tiger-cat is even more powerful than the
nagah. When cholera or smallpox is apprehended, some kapatongs of fair
size are left standing outside the room or at the landing places of the
prahus. Images representing omen birds guard the house, but may also be
carried on a journey in a basket which is placed near the head when a man
is sleeping in a prahu or on land. A kapatong of one particular omen bird
is thus capable of allaying any fear if real omen birds or snakes should
pass in front of the boat.

On head-hunting expeditions kapatongs were of prime importance. Smeared
with blood, they were taken along for protection and guidance, and
afterward were returned to the room. Some of them are very curious; a
favourite one represents a pregnant woman, the idea being that a woman
with a child is a good watcher, as the infant cries and keeps her awake.
That the child is not yet born is of no consequence. In my possession is a
kapatong of the head-hunters which represents a woman in the act of
bearing a child. Among the Dayaks the woman is regarded as the more alert
and watchful; at night it is she who perceives danger and thrusts her hand
against her husband's side to arouse him.

When feasts occur kapatongs, etc., are taken outside the house to partake
of blood from the animal or (formerly) the slave sacrificed. They are
supposed to drink it and are smeared with it. When important they are
never sold, but are transmitted as heirlooms from father to son. They
passed in a circuit among brothers, remaining three to five years with
each, and were the cause of much strife, brother having been known to kill
brother if deprived of his kapatong.

Many of those which came into my possession showed distinct traces of the
application of blood. Some had necklaces around the necks as a sign that
they had received human blood. A few of these were later estimated by an
intelligent Dayak to be two hundred years old. At the time of purchase I
was struck with the fact that the Ot-Danums were parting with objects of
great importance in their religious life. One reason is that the young
generation no longer practises head-hunting, which necessitated the use of
a great number of kapatongs. The people are gradually losing faith in

These Duhoi were curiously varying in their physical aspects; some were
tall, like the "onder," others of medium size; some had hooked noses,
others turned up noses. The wife of the "onder" had unusually light skin,
but there was no indication of a mixture of white blood. Their temperament
is peaceful and gentle, and, according to the Kahayan clerk, who had been
here ten years, they are truthful. Most of those that were measured came
from the kampongs above, one of which is only two or three hours away.
Several men had their foreheads shaved in a manner similar to the Chinese,
a straight line from ear to ear forming the hair limit. I observed the
same fashion with the Upper Katingans, and in rare cases also with the
Kayans and Kenyahs. They make fire by drilling one upright stick into
another lying on the ground. Seven is their sacred number. Formerly the
kampongs elected a kapala for an indefinite period. If he was satisfactory
he might remain a long time. At present the native kapala of the district
makes the appointment.

Among my friends here were the kapala of the kampong and his wife. She was
an interesting woman, very intelligent, with a slender but splendid
figure, and her face was curiously Mongolian. She had lost an eye by
smallpox, but there was so much light and vivacity in the brown one she
had left that the missing organ was forgotten. At first sternly refusing
to face the camera, after receiving chocolate like the rest both she and
her husband wanted to be photographed.

More than once I have seen the Dayak father here and elsewhere take the
youngest baby to the river to bathe. As soon as the navel is healed, about
eight days after birth, the infant is immersed, usually twice a day,
before seven o'clock in the morning and at sunset. The temperature of the
river water here in the morning was 72 F. It is astonishing how the
helpless little nude being, who can neither walk nor talk, remains
absolutely quiet while being dipped under the cold water again and again.
The father holds it in a horizontal position for immersion, which lasts
only a few moments, but which undoubtedly would evoke lusty cries from a
white child. Between the plunges, which are repeated at least three times,
with his hand he strokes water from the little body which after a few
seconds is dipped again. It seems almost cruel, but not a dissenting voice
is heard. The bath over he takes the child into his arms, ascends the
ladder of the river bank and carries it home as silent as when it went
forth. Sometimes one may hear children cry from being cross, but as a rule
they are charming.

Monkeys, including the orang-utan, are eaten, but not the crocodile nor
the tiger-cat. In accordance with the prevailing Dayak custom men and
women eat at the same time. If they choose, women may accompany fishing or
hunting expeditions if not far away, but when the game is wild ox or
rhinoceros they are not allowed to take part. When there is an overflow of
the river one cannot go hunting, nor if one should fall at the start, nor
if the rattan bag should drop when the man slings it on his back, or if
anybody sneezes when about to leave the house. If when going out on an
errand one stubs his toe against the threshold, he must wait an hour.
Having started on a fishing or hunting expedition nobody is permitted to
go back home; should this be done the enterprise would be a failure for
the others; nor should the dogs, on a pig hunt, be called in while on a
ladang lest monkeys and deer eat the paddi. When about to undertake a
journey of more than four or five days' duration one must abstain from
eating snake or turtle, and if a pregnant woman eats these reptiles the
child will look like them. Should she eat fruit that has fallen to the
ground, the child will be still-born. The same prohibition applies to

Up to twenty years ago the Duhoi and the Katingans made head-hunting raids
on each other. It was the custom to take a little flesh from the arm or
leg of the victim, which was roasted and eaten. Before starting on such an
expedition the man must sleep separate from his wife seven days; when
going pig-hunting the separation is limited to one day. On the Upper Samba
the custom still prevails of drinking tuak from human skulls. This was
related to me by the "onder" of Kasungan, a trustworthy man who had
himself seen it done.

A wide-awake kapala from one of the kampongs above was of excellent
service in explaining the purposes of the ethnological objects I
purchased. About articles used by women he was less certain, but he gave
me much valuable information, though it was impossible to keep him as long
as I desired because he felt anxious about the havoc rusa and monkeys
might make with his paddi fields. At five o'clock of an afternoon I had
finished, and in spite of a heavy shower the kapala left to look after his
paddi, with a night journey of six hours before him. These people are
satisfied with little, and he was happy to receive, besides rice and
money, a quantity of cocoanut oil and some empty tin cans thrown in.

During this busy day the thought occurred to me that the night was
Christmas eve, the great festival in Scandinavian countries, and I had
made no preparation for a better meal, having neither time nor means. In
fact, it so happened that I had rather less than usual. Nevertheless, the
day had passed happily, as I accomplished much and acquired interesting
information, for instance, about the flying prahu which I had secured. It
was about half a metre long, and this and similar models seem to be quite
an institution in the southern parts of Borneo. The Duhoi and the
Katingans use the contrivance for curing disease, though not in the way we
should expect, by carrying away the disorder, but by making a present of
the prahu to a good antoh to facilitate his journey.

The name of the flying prahu is menama, in. Katingan, melambong. The more
or less wavy carvings of the edge represent the beach. On board are
several wooden images: The great hornbill which carries the prahu along
and steers it; the tiger-cat, which guards it; the gong and two blanga
(valuable urns), to which are added a modernism in the shape of a
rifle--all are there ready to drive away the bad antoh which caused the
illness. To a pole--or rather a combination of two poles--are tied two
rudely made wooden figures, one above the other, representing, the one
below, the djuragan or skipper (tihang); the one above, the master of the
"sails" (unda).

When a Duhoi is very ill and able to pay the blian five florins, he
promises a good antoh to give him a menama if he will make him well. The
contrivance is then made and the necessary ceremonies performed to the end
that its purpose shall be fulfilled. In the presence of many persons, the
afflicted man lying on his mat, the blian dances in the room holding the
prahu on his hands, the left at the bow, and swerving it to left and to
right; he sings at the same time but there is no other music. On three
consecutive nights this performance is continued for about an hour, near
the door, with an eye to the ship's departure, and although it does not
disappear it is believed to have accomplished its mission.

The Duhoi are polygamous, as are the Kahayans. According to a rough
estimate, one-third of the people have one wife, one-third two, and
one-third three. If a girl declines the suitor on whose behalf the father
acts, she is not forced and the matter is closed. Should she agree, then
the price must first be determined, and is paid in goods, gongs, cattle,
domestic pigs, water-buffaloes, etc. Really poor people are not found
here, and the least amount a man pays for his wife is two gongs, which are
procured from the Malay trader.

About sunset people gather for the marriage ceremony. The couple sit on
one gong. A water-buffalo, pig, or fowl having been sacrificed, the blian
sings and smears blood on navel, chest, and forehead of the pair. On
rising to go to their room the bridegroom beats seven times upon the gong
on which they were sitting, and before he enters the door he strikes the
upper lintel three times, shouting loudly with each blow. Food is brought
there, and while the door is left open the newly wedded eat meat and a
stew of nangka seasoned with red pepper and salt, the guests eating at the
same time. After the meal the bridegroom gives everybody tuak, and people
go home the same evening unless they become drunk, which often happens.
The young married couple remain one year with the bride's parents.



When about to make a new ladang one fowl is sacrificed in the morning and
the blood, with the usual addition of rice, is thrown up in the air by the
husband or wife as a present to antoh, the meat being reserved for home
consumption. On arrival at the selected place they carry the sharpening
stone some distance into the utan where a portion of the same mixture is
applied to it. A few weeks are devoted to cutting down the jungle, and
then about a month must pass before the felled trees, bushes, and vines
are dry enough to burn.

On the day chosen for burning the wood a winnowing tray, on which the
outline of a human form has been crudely drawn with charcoal, is hung in
the house. The picture represents a good antoh named Putjong and he is
solicited to make the wind blow. When starting the fire every one yells
"hoi," thereby calling the winds. One day, or even a shorter time, may
suffice to burn the accumulations on the cleared space, and when the work
is finished all the participants must bathe.

A simple house is then erected for occupancy while doing the necessary
work incident to the raising of crops. The work of clearing the ground is
immediately begun and completed in three or four weeks. Then comes
planting of the paddi preceded by a sacrifice of pig or fowl. The blood,
with the usual addition, is presented to antoh and also smeared on the
seed, which may amount to ten baskets full. All the blood having been
disposed of in this manner, the meat is put over the fire to cook, and at
the noon-day meal is eaten with boiled rice.

In their agricultural pursuits people help each other, taking different
fields in turn, and at planting time thirty men may be engaged making
holes in the ground with long sticks, some of which may have rattles on
one end, a relic of former times, but every one uses the kind he prefers.
After them follow an equal number of women, each carrying a small basket
of paddi which she drops with her fingers into the holes, where it remains
uncovered. They do not plant when rain is falling. After planting is
finished, usually in one day, they repair to the kampong, have their
evening meal, and drink tuak until midnight.

In five months the paddi is ready for cutting--a very busy time for the
people. There are perhaps fifty ladangs and all must be harvested.
Husband, wife, and children all work, and the family may have to labour by
themselves many weeks before helpers come. In the afternoon of the day
previous to commencing harvest work the following ceremony is performed,
to provide for which the owner and his wife have brought new rice from the
ladang as well as the kapatongs, which in the number of two to five have
been guarding the crop.

Inside the room a couple of winnowing trays are laid on the floor and on
these are placed the kapatongs in recumbent position, axes, parangs, the
small knives used for cutting paddi and other knives, spears for killing
pigs as well as those for fish, fish-hooks and lines, the sharpening stone
and the hammer used in making parangs and other iron utensils. The
guardians of the ladang and the implements are to be regaled with new

Blood of pig and fowls mixed with new rice having been duly offered to
antoh, the mixture is smeared on the kapatongs and implements and a small
quantity is also placed on a plate near the trays. Here also stands a dish
of boiled rice and meat, the same kind of food which is eaten later by the
family. The owner with wife and children having concluded their meal, all
others present and as many as care to come are welcome to partake of new
rice and meat and to drink tuak.

On the following day they go to the ladang to cut paddi, but barely half
the number that took part in the feast assist in the work. The first rice
spear that is cut is preserved to be taken home and tied underneath the
roof outside the door. This is done in order to prevent birds, monkeys,
rusa, or babi from eating the paddi. At the ladang rice is boiled, and on
this occasion the family and their guests eat at the same time. When the
first baskets of new paddi arrive at the storehouse and the grain is
poured out on the floor, a little blood from a fowl sacrificed is smeared
on it after the necessary offering to antoh has been thrown up into the

Upon the death of a man who was well-to-do, the body is kept for a period
of seven days in the coffin, within the family dwelling-house, but for a
poor man one day and night is long enough. Many people gather for the
funeral. There is little activity in the day time, but at night the work,
as the natives call it, is performed, some weeping, others dancing. When
the room is large the feast is held in the house, otherwise, outside. Fire
is kept burning constantly during the night, but not in the daytime. Many
antohs are supposed to arrive to feast on the dead man. People are afraid
of these supernatural associations but not of the departed soul. Formerly,
when erecting a funeral house for an important man, an attendant in the
next life was provided for him by placing a slave, alive, in the hole dug
for one of the upright posts, the end of the post being set directly over

On the Samba I found myself in close proximity to regions widely spoken of
elsewhere in Borneo as being inhabited by particularly wild people, called
Ulu-Ots: (ulu = men; ot = at the headwaters). Their habitats are the
mountainous regions in which originate the greatest rivers of Borneo, the
Barito, the Kapuas (western), and the Mahakam, and the mountains farther
west, from whence flow the Katingan, the Sampit, and the Pembuang, are
also persistently assigned to these ferocious natives. They are usually
believed to have short tails and to sleep in trees. Old Malays may still
be found who tell of fights they had forty or more years ago with these
wild men. The Kahayans say that the Ulu-Ots are cannibals, and have been
known to force old men and women to climb trees and hang by their hands to
the branches until sufficiently exhausted to be shaken down and killed.
The flesh is roasted before being eaten. They know nothing of agriculture
and to them salt and lombok are non-existent. Few of them survive. On the
authority of missionaries there are some three hundred such savages at the
headwaters of the Kahayan, who are described as very Mongolian in
appearance, with oblique eyes and prominent cheekbones, and who sleep in

They are considered inveterate head-hunters, and the skulls of people
killed by them are used as drinking-vessels. Controleur Michielsen, who in
his report devotes two pages of hearsay to them, concludes thus: "In the
Upper Katingan for a long time to come it will be necessary to exercise a
certain vigilance at night against attacks of the Ulu-Ot head-hunters." A
civilised Kahayan who, twelve years previous to my visit, came upon one
unawares at the headwaters of the Samba, told me that the man carried in
his right hand a sampit, in his left a shield, and his parang was very
large. He wore a chavat made of fibre, and in his ear-lobes were inserted
large wooden disks; his skin was rather light and showed no tatuing; the
feet were unusually broad, the big toe turned inward, and he ran on his
toes, the heels not touching the ground.

Without precluding the possibility, although remote, of some small, still
unknown tribe, it seems safe to assume that Ulu-Ot is simply a collective
name for several mountain tribes of Central Borneo with whom we already
have made acquaintance--the Penyahbongs, Saputans, Bukits, and Punans. Of
these the last two are nomads, the first named have recently been induced
to become agriculturists, and the Saputans some fifty years ago were still
in an unsettled state. The "onder" at Braui confirmed this opinion when
telling me of the fight he and thirty other Duhoi once had with
Penyahbongs from whom he captured two heads--for they are Ulu-Ots, he

Before all my things were cleared away from my camping-place and taken to
the prahus, the kapala and three women, one of them his wife, came and
seated themselves in a row close together in a squatting position. With
the few words of Malay he knew he explained that the women wanted to say
good-bye. No doubt it was their way, otherwise they have no greetings. At
the landing float the "onder" and his Kahayan assistant were present to
see us off. When leaving I was on the point of wishing I might return some
day to the unsophisticated Duhoi.

On our arrival at Kuala Samba we found ourselves in a different
atmosphere. The Bakompai, although affable, are inquisitive and
aggressive, and do not inspire one with confidence. The cheerful old
Kahayan who lived on board our big prahu to guard it had just one measure
of rice left, and was promptly given more rations. On account of the low
water and the difficulties attending my use of the _Selatan_ it had long
been evident that I should have to give up my tour to the head of the
Katingan River, but before returning I desired to make the ascent as far
as to the first renowned kiham in order to see more of the Upper

My prahu leaked so badly that we had to bail it out constantly, and the
men were the worst in my experience, lazy and very inefficient, only one
of them being strong and agile. Not until eight o'clock in the evening did
we reach our destination, the kampong Buntut Mangkikit. In beautiful
moonlight I put up my tent on the clearing along the river bank in front
of the houses, perhaps for the last time in a long period. The roar of the
rapids nearly two kilometres distant was plainly audible and soothing to
the nerves, reminding me of the subdued sound of remote waterfalls,
familiar to those who have travelled in Norway. However, the kiham at this
time was not formidable and comparatively few have perished there, but
many in the one below, which, though lower in its fall and very long, is
full of rocks. The nights here were surprisingly cool, almost cold, and
the mornings very chilly.

A Kahayan was the only person about the place who could speak Malay. The
kapala presented the unusual spectacle of a man leaning on a long stick
when walking, disabled from wasting muscles of the legs. I have seen a
Lower Katingan who for two years had suffered in this way, his legs having
little flesh left, though he was able to move. The kapala was a truthful
and intelligent man who commanded respect. His wife was the greatest of
the four blians here, all women; male blians, as usual, being less in
demand. Her eyes were sunk in their sockets and she looked as if she had
spent too many nights awake singing, also as if she had been drinking too
much tuak. She had a staring though not unpleasant expression, was devoted
to her religious exercises, and possessed an interesting personality.

A majority of the women was disinclined to face the camera, one of them
explaining that she was not ashamed but was afraid. However, an example in
acquiescence was set by the blian and her family. She wore for the
occasion an ancient Katingan bodice fitting snugly around the body, with
tight sleeves, the material showing foreign influence but not the style of
making. Another woman was dressed in the same way, and a big gold plate
hung over the upper part of the chest, as is the prevailing mode among
women and children. Gold is said to be found in the ground and the
Katingans themselves make it into ornaments. Many of the men wore chavats.

Of the men that were measured, one was sombre brown, darker than the rest,
and three harelips were observed. A man may have from one to three wives,
who sometimes fight, but all ends well. In each family there are at least
two children, and often as many as seven, while one woman had borne
eleven, of whom only four survived. The feminine fashion in hair-dressing
is the same as that followed by the Duhoi, which looks well, the hair
folded over on each side with some locks tied over the middle. I saw here
two implements called duhong, knives shaped like broad spear points,
relics of ancient times, with which the owners would not part. The
Katingans are probably the friendliest and best tempered Dayaks I met. The
children are tender hearted: when the kapala's nude little son, about two
and a half years old, approached my film box his father spoke harshly to
him; the child immediately began to cry bitterly and his mother, the great
blian, soothed and affectionately kissed him until he became calm.

The obliging kapala, in order to do his bit to induce the people to dance,
offered to present one pig if I would give rice and salt. The dancing,
which was performed around a blanga on a mat spread on the ground, was
similar in character to what may be seen elsewhere in Borneo. Four men and
four women performed one dance. In another only women took part, and they
moved one behind another in a circle with unusually quick, short steps,
signifying that good antohs had taken possession of them. The principal
blian later sat down on a mat and sang; three women sitting near
accompanied her by beating small oblong drums. They all became
enthusiastic, for music attracts good antohs. In the Katingan language the
word lauk means creature; an additional word, earth, water, or air, as the
case may be, signifying whether an animal, a bird, or a fish is meant.

Having accomplished in a short time as much as could be expected, we
returned to Kuala Samba, and from there, in the first week of January,
started southward in our big prahu. The river was very low, and after half
an hour we were compelled to take on board two Bakompai men as pilots
among the sand banks. At Ball the coffin was found to be ready and was
taken on board. It had been well-made, but the colours were mostly, if not
all, obtained from the trader and came off easily, which was somewhat
disappointing. It seemed smaller than the original, though the makers
insisted that it was quite similar and challenged me to go and see the one
they had copied, which was in the vicinity, behind the kampong.

Here I saw a new and somewhat striking arrangement for the disposition of
the dead. A small white house contained several coffins guarded by seven
kapatongs of medium size, which stood in a row outside, with the lower
part of their legs and bodies wrapped in mats. The skull of a
water-buffalo and many pigs' jaws hung near by. Two tall memorial staffs,
called pantars, had been erected, but instead of the wooden image of the
great hornbill which usually adorns the top, the Dutch flag presented
itself to view. Appearing beautiful to the Dayaks it had been substituted
for the bird. The all-important second funeral having been celebrated, the
dead occupied their final resting place.

We spent the night at a large kampong where there was a fine,
straightforward kapala who appeared at a disadvantage only when, with
intent to please me, he wore clothes, but from whom I gained valuable
information. He also had a sense of humour, and next day when our coffin
was carried ashore, in order that I might be enlightened in regard to the
significance of its decorations, he laughed heartily and exclaimed in
astonishment at the sight. With the exception of the upper part of the
back, few parts of his body were left uncovered with tatu marks. Over and
below each knee he had extra designs to protect him from disease, he said,
each of which represented a fish of ancient times.

At our next and last stopping-place the small pasang grahan, on very tall
poles, was in poor condition and the roof was full of holes, but the
kapala, an uncommonly satisfactory man--there was no Malay about him--saw
to it that rough palm-leaf mats were placed above the ceiling to protect
against possible rain, and two large rattan mats were spread on the shaky
floor, so we had a good camping-place. There was an unusually pretty view
of the majestic river from up there, including a wide bend just below.
Experience modifies one's requirements, and I felt content as I took my
bath at the outer corner of the shed, high above the still water on which
the moon shone placidly.



Next day we arrived at Kasungan, where we were offered quarters in a large
room in the "onder's" house. There was no news of our steamer, the
_Selatan_, and I remained about a week. The "onder," a Kahayan who had been
here twenty-five years, had the intelligence and reliability that seems
characteristic of the Dayaks of the Kahayan and Kapuas Rivers, and, as a
matter of course, possessed extensive knowledge of the Katingan. He had
lately been converted to Christianity. The kampong was quite large, and
although it has been subject to the influence of Malay traders a long time
and quite recently to that of a missionary, still the natives offered
considerable of interest. It is only eight years since the communal house
obtained. Before some of the houses stand grotesque kapatongs, and the
majority of the population lives in the atmosphere of the long ago. I was
still able to buy ethnological articles and implements which are becoming
increasingly difficult to secure.

On entering a house the salutation is, _Akko domo_ (I (akko) arrive). To
this is answered, _Munduk_ (Sit down). On leaving the visitor says, _Akko
buhao_ (I am going). To which is responded, Come again. On my way to visit
a prominent Katingan I passed beneath a few cocoanut trees growing in
front of the house, as is the custom, while a gentle breeze played with
the stately leaves. "Better get away from there," my native guide suddenly
said; "a cocoanut may fall," and we had scarcely arrived inside the house
before one fell to the ground with a resounding thump half a metre from
where I had been standing. Eighteen years previously a Katingan had been
killed in this way as he descended the ladder. Eleven years later another
was carrying his child on his back when a cocoanut of small size hit and
killed the little one.

The man whose house I visited was rich, according to Dayak standard, not
in money, but in certain wares that to him are of equal or greater value.
Besides thirty gongs, rows of fine old valuable jars stood along the walls
of his room. There are several varieties of these blangas, some of which
are many hundred years old and come from China or Siam. This man possessed
five of the expensive kind, estimated by the "onder" at a value of six
thousand florins each. He consented to have one of the ordinary kind,
called gutshi, taken outside to be photographed; to remove the real
blanga, he said, would necessitate the sacrifice of a fowl. To the casual
observer no great difference between them is apparent, their worth being
enhanced by age. In 1880 Controleur Michielsen saw thirty blangas in one
house on the Upper Katingan, among them several that in his estimation
were priceless. Over them hung forty gongs, of which the biggest,
unquestionably, had a diameter of one metre. Without exaggeration it
represented, he says, a value of f. 15,000, and he was informed that the
most valuable blangas were buried in the wilds at places known only to the
owner. No European had been there since Schwaner, over thirty years
previously, passed the river.

In front of another house was a group of very old-looking stones which are
considered to be alive, though such is not the belief with reference to
all stones, information in that regard being derived from dreams. Those on
view here are regarded as slaves (or soldiers) of a raja, who is
represented by a small kapatong which presides in a diminutive,
half-tumbled-down house, and who is possessed by a good antoh that may
appear in human shape at night. When the people of the kampong need rice or
have any other wish, a fowl or pig is killed; the blood is smeared on the
raja and on the slaves, and some of the meat is deposited in a jar standing
next to him. When advised of what is wanted the raja gives the slaves
orders to see that the people are supplied.

At each side of the base of a ladder, a little further on, stood a post
with a carving of a tiger-cat grasping a human head and guarding the
entrance. They are a protection to the owner of the house against evil
antohs; it is as if they were saying: "Keep away, antoh! You see I slew a
man, so you know what will happen to you!"

The bones of dead persons were kept at the back of at least one dwelling,
inside the appropriate small house provided for the purpose, and some
curious kapatongs of large size were to be seen, some of which had guarded
the dead for more than a hundred years. One has the head of a good antoh,
showing big corner teeth and out-hanging tongue, as he watches that no bad
antohs come to injure the dead man's soul.

A woman carrying a betel box is believed to watch well because when
chewing betel one does not sleep; but in her case there must always be a
male kapatong near by, for a woman alone is not sufficient protection.
Betel makes the mouth and lips beautiful in the estimation of the natives,
therefore many kapatongs are seen with betel box in hand.

A very extraordinary guardian of the dead is a loving pair, the man's arm
placed affectionately over the shoulder of his companion. Lovers do not
sleep, hence they are good at watching, reasons the Dayak.

In these regions I gathered some information about the huge serpent of
which one hears occasionally in Borneo, called sahua by the Malays, and
which, according to accounts, may attain a length of seven or eight
metres. It is able to remain long under water, moves slowly on land, and
can climb trees. Deer and pigs are its usual food, but at times it attacks
and eats natives. A few years previously this python devoured a Katingan,
and as it remains at the same place for some time after a meal, two days
later it was found and killed. These Dayaks kill it with knives, spears
being ineffectual, and the meat is eaten. A very large lizard is also said
to be a man-eater.

Crocodiles are numerous here, and at low water have been responsible for
the disappearance of many Katingans. They are considered good antohs, but
if one of the monsters devours a man arrangements are made to kill it,
though otherwise the natives prefer not to do so and do not eat it. For
the purpose of capture they use a piece of strong wood, about three
centimetres thick, pointed at each end. A line of fibre a metre long is
tied to the middle, and about half a metre above the surface of the water
an ill-smelling monkey or dog is suspended from it as bait. When swallowed
by the crocodile the stick usually becomes wedged in the mouth between the
upper and lower jaws and he is hauled ashore.

A few years before my visit the brother of the kapala was eaten by a
crocodile as he and two other Katingans were fishing with a casting-net.
While sitting in the prahu he was attacked by the animal and dragged below
the surface of the water. The entire kampong was incensed and believed
that a bad antoh had ordered the crocodile to commit the evil deed. A babi
was immediately killed and the blood sacrificed to induce a good antoh to
come and help them; they also danced for the same purpose, while some of
them prepared the material with which to catch the reptile. They have been
fishing for crocodiles ever since, for their religion prohibits quitting
until the bait is taken either by the large fish, tapa, or by the python,
called sahua. When either of these huge animals swallows the bait, that
event is regarded as a sign from a good antoh to the effect that their
task is finished. Many years may elapse before the message comes and the
kapala, who had caught fifty, must still continue, for twenty years if
necessary, until the sign appears.

When preparing to kill crocodiles the magic use of rice is as essential as
when the lives of men are to be taken, proceedings in both cases being
identical. If a Katingan wants to get a head he must pay the blian to
conjure with rice--a cupful is enough--and to dance. To have this done
costs one or two florins. During incantations and dancing the blian throws
the rice in the direction of the country where the man wants to operate.
By the act of throwing the rice an antoh is called to assist and he causes
the intended victim to become stupid and forgetful, therefore easily
killed. From two to seven days later a start is made on the expedition,
and when the head is cut the rice is sure to be found inside.

In earlier days the kampongs were ruled by hereditary rajas called bakas,
who held their people in firm subjection, and they are reported to have
fought much among themselves. According to the "onder" of the kampong, it
was not an unusual occurrence to murder a rich man and take his goods as
well as his head, and as murder could not be compensated with money, his
relatives having to avenge the deed, a vendetta ensued which might last
five or six years. A custom which required a debtor to become the slave of
his creditor, even in the case of brothers, has been abolished.

Formerly when an enemy approached a curious message was sent from kampong
to kampong. To the top of a spear was tied a tail feather of the
rhinoceros hornbill, symbolising rapid movement, and also a woman's skirt
of fibre with a bunch of odoriferous leaves attached. Women used to fasten
these to the skirt in addition to those placed in the hair. This meant an
urgent order for people to gather quickly for the fight, and in the event
of failure to obey the call promptly the leaves and skirt signified
unworthiness to wear masculine attire.

Two methods of fire-making were in use here, by drilling or by friction
with a rope made of fibre or rattan across a block of wood. The Katingan
does not know the art of doing inlaid work on the blade of the parang, in
which Kenyahs and Kayans excel, and he makes no earthen ware. Hair that
has been cut from the head must be placed in a tree. Their sacred number
is seven, as is that of the Ot-Danum, Kapuas, and Kahayan. As usual with
Dayaks, all members of the family eat at the same time as the men. Sons
and daughters inherit equally, while brothers and sisters receive nothing
unless the deceased was childless.

The father of a young man must arrange the payment for the bride, and
probably receives remuneration himself for the service rendered. The
son-in-law remains in the house of his father-in-law a year or more and
assists him. A raja was privileged to have five or six wives.

During the period of pregnancy both wife and husband are subject to the
following restrictions:

1. They must not split firewood, otherwise harelip will result, or a child
with double thumbs.

2. The arms or legs must not be cut off from any animal caught, else the
child will have stumps of arms or legs.

3. When fish has been caught the couple must not open the head themselves;
if they do the child will be born without ears.

4. The husband must not make fish hooks, or the child will be born doubled
up in a wrong position, perhaps causing the mother's death.

5. Neither of them may stretch up either arm to take food from the hanging
trays of bamboo, called toyang. Should they do so the child will come into
the world arm first, or probably not be born.

6. They must not nail up boxes or anything else (nails were formerly of
wood), nor tie up anything,--for instance, a rattan for drying
clothes,--nor lock a trunk, else the child will not be born and the mother
will die.

7. In case of feeling hot, if he or she should take off their upper
garments they must not be tied round the neck, or the child will be born
dead, with the navel cord around its neck.

8. The work of tying split bamboo sticks into loose mats, for instance
such as are used in the bottom of the prahu, must not be done, or the
child will be born with two and two or all four fingers grown together.

9. They must not put the cork in a bottle or place the cover on a bamboo
basket containing rice in order to close it for a considerable time, as in
that case the child will be born blind in one or both eyes, or with one
ear, one nostril, or the rectum closed, but the cover may be put back on a
basket from which rice is taken for daily use.

10. For five months the work of putting a handle on a parang and fastening
it with damar must not be done else both mother and child would die.

The name given the child when the umbilical cord is cut remains unchanged.
Among names in vogue here for men are Bugis (black), Spear, Axe, Duhong
(ancient knife), etc., Tingang and other names of birds, or names taken
from animals, fish, trees, and fruit; many are called Peti, the Malay name
for a steel trunk sold by traders. A person must not give his own name nor
call by the name of his father, mother, father-in-law, mother-in-law,
grandfather or grandmother, whether they are alive or dead. If one of
these names is given there will be no luck, for instance, in fishing or

There are many sorts of pali (sins) but all may be paid for in kind or by
sacrifice. One of the most serious is that of a widow who marries before
the second funeral of her husband has been solemnised. Although the rule
does not apply to husband and wife, a man is forbidden to touch a woman's
dress and vice versa, and transgression must be made good by sacrifice of
a fowl or even a pig. In case a chavat or other article of clothing
belonging to a man has been hung to dry after washing, and a woman other
than his wife wishes to take the garment from the rattan line, she must
use a stick for the purpose.

Every big tree is believed to have an antoh in possession of it, some
being well disposed, others of evil disposition. When a man is killed by
falling from a tree, members of his family come and proceed to hit it with
darts blown from the sumpitan, cut it with parangs, spear it, and as final
punishment it is felled. Many people gather, angry with the tree antoh,
and a feast is made for the purpose of calling a good spirit to drive away
or kill the bad one.

When a large tree falls no work is done for seven days. House building
must cease and sacrificial offerings of pork and tuak are made to a good
antoh to induce him to deal with the evil one that caused the mishap.

Travellers who encounter omen birds, or hear the cry of a rusa at noon, or
similar omens, camp for three days and then proceed to the nearest kampong
to buy fowl, a pig, and eggs, in order to sacrifice not only to the bird
or animal that gave the omen, but also to the good antoh which sent it.
Seven days afterward the journey is continued.

When a plandok (mouse-deer) appears underneath a house the owner is sure
to die unless proper remedies are employed. If people succeed in catching
the animal it is not killed, but smeared all over with cocoanut oil. Then
they kill a dog, take its blood, which is mixed with rice and thrown to
the plandok; also the blood of a fowl, with the same addition, is offered.
The plandok's liao is given this to eat in order that he may not cause the
occupant of the house to die; the animal is then carried into the utan,
about an hour's walk, and set free. Three days afterward they sacrifice a
pig, the blood of which, with the usual admixture, is given to the bad
antoh who sent the plandok, with entreaties not to kill the man. For seven
days the head of the house stays in the kampong, being free to bathe in
the river and walk about, but he must not go outside the settlement.

The red monkey is an attendant of a bad antoh, and if he enters a house or
comes on the roof or underneath the house it is considered very
unfortunate. There is no remedy and the owner must move elsewhere; the
house is demolished, the wooden material carried away and erected in
another kampong. Should he remain at the same place there would be much
strife between him and his neighbours. If a wah-wah climbs on a roof the
house will burn down. There is no remedy for this either; the incumbent
leaves and makes a new home.

On the other hand, should a scaly ant-eater enter a room it is a joyful
event, indicating that the owner will become rich. The animal is caught,
blood from a fowl is smeared over him, and he is carried back to the utan.

If it should so happen that a red-backed lizard, a timid animal rather
common about kampongs, enters a house it also brings good luck. A good
antoh gave it the order to come, and it means much paddi, a gutshi, and
other good things. Three fowls must be sacrificed and the people also



When a liao departs through the top of the head and death occurs, gongs
are beaten for twenty-four hours. Five or six men set to work to make a
beautiful coffin similar to the one already described; this is often
finished in a day and the corpse, having been washed, is immediately
placed within it. For a man a new chavat of wood fibre is adjusted around
the loins, without other vestments. Another day is consumed in the work of
decorating the coffin, which is done by men, while women weave diminutive
mats, which are left less than half finished and are laid on top of the
casket. For three days and as many nights the remains are kept in the
house, and, if a man, his duhong (ancient knife), parang, knife, spear,
sumpitan, betel box, tobacco container, and much food are placed nearby.

After these matters have received attention, food is eaten by those
present. Fires are kept burning within the house and also outside, and
after each meal the people strike one another's legs with firebrands in
order to forget their grief. Members of the family, who begin to wail
immediately after his death, continue to do so constantly for seven days,
and they wear no red garments until after the tiwah feast which
constitutes his second funeral. The coffin is buried in the ground or
placed on a crude platform, and, when this work is finished, thorough
ablution in water containing leaves which possess qualities especially
adapted to this purpose is the rule for everybody concerned. This is done
to the end that no odour of the dead shall linger, thus exposing the
living to danger from the bad antoh that is responsible for the
unfortunate event which necessitated their recent activities. Later, all
partake of tuak, including the children.

After this preliminary disposal of the body the family begins to plan for
the second and final funeral, which is considered a compensation to the
departed soul for the property he left behind. Caution demands that they
be very punctilious about this, for the ghost, though believed to be far
above this plane, is thought to be resentful, with power to cause
misfortunes of various kinds and therefore is feared. Until recently, when
a man of means died, a slave had to be killed and his head placed on top
of the coffin. When time for the second funeral, the tiwah, came round
another slave was killed and his head hung near by. They are his
attendants in the next life, but many more and elaborate arrangements are
necessary to satisfy the demands of the liao, and they must be fully
complied with on the celebration of the tiwah, the most elaborate of all
feasts in Borneo.

When the deceased is well-to-do this observance may follow immediately,
but usually years go by and many liaoes are served at the same time. On
the great occasion the coffin is put on a big fire for a couple of hours
until the flesh has been burned from the bones, which are then collected
in a small box and placed in a house of limited proportions especially
constructed for this purpose and called sandung. It is made of ironwood,
and in these regions the people have a preference for placing it high
above the ground, but it may also be put underground in a subterranean
chamber also made of ironwood, which may take five or six months to
construct and which is large enough to accommodate a family. The feast
lasts one week, during which food and tuak are provided. Every night the
women dance inside the house, around a tree composed of many bamboo stalks
placed together so as to form a large trunk. As elsewhere mentioned,
(Chapter XIV), the dancing, which is similar to that which follows the
harvest, is for the benefit of the ghost and is distinct from the usual

As soon as the tiwah feast has been decided upon the people start
simultaneously to perfect the various arrangements, some looking for a
water-buffalo or two, others beginning to make the several contrivances
which the occasion demands. Many men are thus occupied for several months.
There are experts in the required handiwork, though a skilful man may be
capable of performing all the various tasks. In earlier days the different
memorials and the box containing the bones were placed in front of the
house of the deceased, but of late years government officials have made
some changes in this arrangement. When preparing for a tiwah feast it was
the custom to close the river for perhaps three months by suspending a
rattan rope on which were hung many spears of wood, tail feathers of the
great hornbill, and leaves of certain trees. After a head had been secured
the impediment was removed, but the government has forbidden the temporary

A most important matter is the construction of the device to which the
water-buffalo, formerly the slave, is tied when sacrificed. In its make-up
it expresses symbolically the rules of behaviour for the widow until after
the feast has been celebrated. Its name is panyanggaran, an obscure word
which probably may be derived from sangar, which means to kill; the place
of killing.

The foundation is a large post, usually of ironwood, firmly planted in the
ground; its top is pointed and a little below, on either side, is attached
horizontally a piece of dressed wood like two arms. Further below a number
of sticks are affixed to each side, pointing obliquely upward, and all on
a plane with the arms above. These sticks, usually three on each side but
sometimes more, are considered as spears, and the top of each is finished
with a rosette representing four spear-points, called kalapiting. The post
itself is also regarded as a spear and is called _balu_ (widow), while the
sticks are named _pampang-balu_ (widow rules). It seems possible that the
post also represents the woman, head, arms, and body being recognisable.
However that may be, the attached sticks are regarded as so many rules and
reminders for the widow. In Kasungan I saw in one case eight sticks, in
another only four. The rules may thus vary or be applicable to different
cases, though some are fundamental.

Assuming that the requirements are six in number, according to my
informant, the following should be observed by the widow: (1) To make the
tiwah feast; (2) to refrain from remarriage until the feast has been
celebrated; (3) to abstain from sexual intercourse; (4) to remain in the
same place until after the feast; (5) to ask permission from the family of
the deceased if she wants to leave the kampong temporarily; (6) to wear no
red garments until the feast has been completed. Should any of these
injunctions be disregarded a gutshi, the value of which may be twenty
florins, must be paid to his relatives. If the widow desires to marry
earlier than the tiwah feast she is required to pay the entire cost of the
celebration, and sometimes an additional amount.

A simpler device than the panyanggaran is also used, serving a similar
purpose and called sapundo. It consists of an upright post carved to
represent the face of a good antoh, with tongue hanging out. To this
pillar is tied a water-buffalo (as substitute for the slave formerly
employed), a cow, or pig. As the sapundo is much easier to make it is used
by the orang kampong or poor people. For a rich man who has gone hence
both contrivances may be erected.

Another matter demanding attention is the erection of a tall, rather
slender pole of ironwood, called pantar. A gong or gutshi strung near the
top signifies that the deceased was a person of wealth and prominence,
while a wooden image of the rhinoceros hornbill occupies a lofty position
on the pinnacle. On account of its ability to discern objects at a great
distance, this bird is regarded as a good watchman to guard the sacrifice,
whether it be a water-buffalo or other animal. The pantar itself simply
means "in memoriam," as if enjoining: "Don't forget this man!" These
primitive monuments sometimes last over a hundred years, and more than one
may be raised for the same man. Should it prove impossible to secure a
water-buffalo, an ordinary cow may serve as sacrifice. The family thereby
presents the animal's liao (soul) to the liao of the deceased, and the
blian by dancing and sacrifice calls the latter to come and eat. Not only
this, but the liao of every animal, bird, and fish which the family eats
from the time of his death until the tiwah feast is given to him. Account
is kept by incised cross-cuts on certain posts, notifying him of the
number. I was told that when a raja died similar marks of account were
made on a slave. The jaws of pigs or other animals, hanging by scores in
the houses, together with heads of fish and legs of birds, are similar
accounts for the same purpose, and all close with the tiwah feast.

A kapatong must be made, or, if the deceased were rich, perhaps two or
three, which are inaugurated by the blian in the usual way, to be the
ghost's attendants and guardians. The remaining duties to be performed are
the making of a box or coffin for the bones to rest in, and the house in
which it is to be deposited, either above or under the ground as may be
decided. These tasks accomplished, no further responsibility devolves upon
the widow or other members of the family.

On my return journey I stopped a few hours at a kampong in the vicinity to
see some stones that, according to Katingan belief, are alive and
multiplying. As my visit was expected, a fowl had just been sacrificed to
these guardians of the kampong, and a fire made from bark was burning near
by to keep the stones comfortable, so they would not be angry at being
photographed. There were two roundish specimens, almost honeycombed with
small cavities, one of them, scarcely twenty-five centimetres high, being
regarded as masculine and the other, smaller and covered with green moss,
was supposed to be of feminine gender. Originally, as the story goes, only
these two were there, but later six "children" appeared, as evidenced by
six smaller stones lying close to the "parents." The domain held sacred to
this interesting family was bounded by four pieces of wood, each about a
metre in length. Over all was extended a small square piece of red cloth
supported on four upright sticks, which had been placed there two weeks
before on behalf of a sick man whose recovery was attributed to this act
of veneration. In front of the small enclosure lay four stones of
inconsiderable size, lying in two pairs and supposed to be attendants; in
the rear was a small house, reputed to be over three hundred years old,
its purpose being to protect the stones, where offerings of food, with
skulls of deer and pigs, were deposited.

Next day we met the _Selatan_ on its way up the river, brought our luggage
on board, and continued our journey. We had a disagreeable night before
arriving at Bandjermasin; in fact, it is risky to travel south of Borneo
in a steam-launch in January. As the wind was strong and the waves were
too high for us to proceed, anchor was thrown and we were tossed about,
the lamps went out, and, according to the captain, the boat nearly turned
over. Mr. Loing, prostrate with seasickness, saved himself from being
thrown overboard by grasping the rail.

After packing my collections I again set out for Sampit with the intention
of revisiting Sembulo by another route, proceeding by prahu up the Kuala
Sampit as far as possible, and then marching overland to the lake. The
controleur was absent, but his native clerk and the kapala together got me
the prahus and the men, such as the place afforded. As usual, the Malay
coolies were late in arriving and began making many difficulties about
various things. To cheer them I gave each f. 1.50 in advance, which made
them all happy, and in buoyant, talkative spirits they immediately went
off to buy rice, dried fish, tobacco, cigarettes, and other things. All
was well, and at ten o'clock in the morning we finally started, with a
native policeman in attendance.

An hour later the coolies wanted to cook rice. It did not take long to
discover that they were not very useful, though the clerk had done his
best. Two brothers were intolerably lazy, continually resting the paddles,
lighting cigarettes, washing their faces, etc., the elder, after the full
meal they had eaten, actually falling asleep at times. The interest of the
men centred in eating and early camping, and we made slow progress,
detained besides by a thunder-storm, as it was impossible to make headway
against the strong wind. The man at the helm of the small prahu was
intelligent, and from him I finally obtained information about a place to
stop for the night.

At six o'clock we arrived at the mouth of the Kuala Sampit, where we found
it difficult to effect a landing on account of the dilapidated condition
of the landing-float. Some distance from the water stood a lonely house,
in genuine Malay style, with high-gabled roof. The stairs afforded
precarious access, a condition which may have been regarded as a
protection, but more likely it was due to laziness and want of care.
However that may have been, the interior was surprisingly substantial,
with an excellent floor like that in a ballroom. I slept in a detached
ramshackle room used as a kitchen, comfortable because of being open to
the air.

In the morning the Malays were again too late. I was ready for a start at
six o'clock, but about that time they began to cook. The small river,
perhaps twenty metres wide, is deep enough to have allowed a steam-launch
of the _Selatan's_ dimensions to go as far as the kampong Rongkang, our
first destination, and there is little current. At five o'clock we had to
stop to give the men opportunity to prepare their rice, and in the evening
we arrived at Rongkang. The gongs were being beaten lustily in the
darkness; we thought it must be on account of a death, which proved to be
the case, a woman having died some days before. The house which was placed
at my disposal was more nearly airtight than usual.

The kapala said it was difficult to get men, but he would do his best. A
strange epidemic had lately appeared, and some deaths had occurred in the
kampongs of this region. In the room I occupied a woman had recently
recovered from an attack of a week's duration. The disease, which probably
is a variety of cholera, was described to me as being a severe diarrhoea
accompanied by vomiting, paralysis, and fever, the crisis occurring in
three to five days. The disorder appears to rise from the feet, and if it
settles between the liver and heart may prove fatal in half a day. As I
learned later, this illness, which the Malays call men-tjo-tjok, is
usually present in the inland region of the Sampit River, and is also
found on the upper parts of the Kahayan and Pembuang Rivers.

People in this neighbourhood were lappar (hungry), having no rice, and the
men were absent in the utan looking for rattan, white damar, and rubber,
which they exchange for rice from Chinese traders. Under such
circumstances, chiefly women and children are left in the kampongs. Of
nearly thirty men needed for my overland trip, only three could be
mustered here. One Dayak who was perfectly well in the evening came next
morning to consult me about the prevalent illness which he had contracted
during the night. The only available course was to return to Sampit.

The name of the Dayaks here and on Lake Sembulo is Tamoan (or Samoan),
with intermixture of Katingans, who are said to understand each other's
language. Most of these friendly natives had fair-sized beards, some only
mustaches. The elder men complainingly said that the younger ones no
longer want to tatu nor cut the front teeth. No haste was apparent about
making the coffin for the woman who had been dead four days; although not
yet commenced they said it would be completed that day.

The left bank of the river is much higher than the right, which is
flooded, therefore the utan on that side presents a very different
appearance, with large, fine-looking trees and no dense underbrush. All
was fresh and calm after the rain which prevails at this season
(February). There were showers during the afternoon, at times heavy, and
the Malays were much opposed to getting wet, wanting to stop paddling,
notwithstanding the fact that the entire prahu was covered with an atap.
As we approached the mouth of the river, where I intended to camp for the
night, I noticed a prahu halting at the rough landing place of a ladang,
and as we passed it the rain poured down. When the single person who was
paddling arose to adjust the scanty wet clothing I perceived that it was a
woman, and looking back I discovered her husband snugly at ease under a
palm-leaf mat raised as a cover. He was then just rising to walk home.
That is the way the men of Islam treat their women. Even one of the Malay
paddlers saw the humour of the situation and laughed.

At Rongkang I was told the legend of the dog that in ancient times had
come from the inland of Borneo to Sembulo, where it became progenitor of
the tailed people. In various parts of Borneo I heard about natives with
short tails, and there are to-day otherwise reliable Dayaks, Malays, and
even Chinese, who insist that they have seen them. Especially in regard to
their presence at the lake of Sembulo, at the kampong of the same name,
the consensus of opinion is strong. That place is the classical ground for
the rumour of tailed men, and I thought it worth while, before leaving
Borneo, to make another attempt later to reach Sembulo and investigate the
reasons for the prevalent belief in tailed humans in that locality. The
most complete legend on this subject I obtained from a prominent
ex-district kapala, Kiai Laman, a Kahayan Dayak converted to Islam. He has
travelled much in certain sections of Borneo, is interested in folklore
matters, and told his stories without apparent errors or contradictions.
The tale here rendered is from the Ot-Danums on the Upper Kahayan River.

A male dog called Belang started out to hunt for game--pig, deer, plandok.
The kampong heard him bark in the manner common to dogs when on the trail
of an animal, and then the baying ceased. The owner watched for the animal
to return, but for half a year there was no news of him. In the meantime
the dog had gone to Sembulo, making the trip in fifteen days. He appeared
there in the shape of a man, took part in the work of the kampong, and
married. His wife bore a child who had a tail, not long, about ten
centimetres. "I do not like to tell a lie," said my raconteur. "What the
sex was I do not know, but people say it was a male infant. She had
another child, a female, also with a tail."

In the ladang the woman thought the crying of her children sounded very
strange. "It is not like that of other infants," she said. "Other people
have no tails and you have; you look like the children of a dog." Their
father replied: "In truth I am a dog," and immediately he resumed his
natural form, ran away, and after an interval arrived in the Upper
Kahayan, where his owner welcomed him, and the dog lived to old age and

In due time the two children married and had large families, all of whom
had tails, but since the Malays came and married Sembulo women the tails
have become shorter and shorter. At present most of the people have none,
and those that remain are not often seen because clothes are now worn;
however, many travellers to Sembulo have beheld them.

The rendering from Rongkal is similar, with this difference: The man from
Upper Kahayan followed his dog--which at sight of his master resumed
canine form--and killed it. According to a Malay version, a raja of
Bandjermasin was much disliked and the people made him leave the country.
He took a female dog with him in the prahu and went to Sembulo, where he
had children all of whom had tails.



The second trip to Sembulo had to be postponed until the return of the
controleur of Sampit from an extended tour, when the steam-launch
_Selatan_ would again be placed at my service. During the weeks of waiting
I made a trip to Kuala Kapuas, northwest of Bandjermasin. The Kapuas River
is broad here, I should say at least 600 metres; if there is any wind one
cannot cross because the prahus are all made of iron-wood and sink easily,
owing to the fact that they are heavy and do not accommodate themselves to
the waves. A German missionary and family had been here ten years. The
children looked a little pale but strong, and had never had malaria nor
children's diseases.

I soon became convinced that there was little here for me to learn. The
Dayaks have been too long exposed to Malay and European influences, though
still able to make splendid mats, for which this place is well known.
Malay ascendancy is strong on the lower courses of the two great rivers
that meet here, on the Kapuas as far as Djangkang, on the Kahayan as far
as Pahandut. I carried away mud for future zoological examination from the
bottom of a pool, ten minutes walk from the shore. There are always small
fish in it, and three or four times a year it is flooded. In dry seasons,
although not every year, the water of the sea reaches as far as Mandumei.

In Bandjermasin my attention was drawn to an interesting breed of
stump-tailed dogs which belonged to Mr. B. Brouers. The mother is a white
terrier which has but half a tail, as if cut off. When she had pups, two
had stump tails, two had long ones, and one had none; her sister has no
tail. Though the fathers are the ordinary yellowish Dayak dogs with long
tails, the breed apparently has taken nothing or next to nothing from
them. They are all white, sometimes with hardly noticeable spots of

Nobody who has travelled in Borneo can have failed to notice the great
number of short-tailed cats. In Bandjermasin those with long tails are
very rare, and among Malays and Dayaks I do not remember ever having seen
them. They are either stub-tailed or they have a ball at the end of a tail
that is usually twisted and exceptionally short. These cats are small and
extremely tame, and can hardly be pushed away with a kick, because they
have always been used to having their own way in the house. They are more
resourceful and enterprising than the ordinary domestic cat, using their
claws to an almost incredible extent in climbing down perpendicular wooden
walls, or in running under the roof on rafters chasing mice. I have twice
photographed such cats, a liberty which they resented by striking
viciously at the man who held them and growling all the time. Their
accustomed food is rice and dried fish.

The steamship _Janssens_ had recently reduced its already infrequent
sailings for Singapore, which caused some delay, but finally, toward the
end of March, I embarked for Sampit. I was glad to see the controleur, who
came down to the pier, for the rare occasions when steamers call here are
almost festive events, and arrangements were at once made for my journey
to Sembulo. At Pembuang we took on board the native kapala of the
district, who was to accompany me; he also brought an attendant, a cook,
and a policeman, all natives. Twelve hours later, when we arrived at the
kampong Sembulo, the kapala who came on board the _Selatan_ informed us
that no Dayaks were there. As the lake was low and the water continued to
fall it was impossible to proceed to Bangkal, the other kampong, or to
remain here more than a few days. Therefore, at my request the native
authorities agreed to have the Bangkal Dayaks congregate here, the kapala
himself undertaking to bring them.

The population of the kampong Sembulo, formerly called Pulau Tombak, at
the present time is Malay, comprising more than two hundred full-grown
men, nearly all recent arrivals from Bandjermasin, Sampit, Pembuang, and
other places. Very little rice is planted because the soil is sandy and
unsuited to cultivation, therefore the inhabitants confine their
activities mainly to rubber gathering. At that time about a hundred men
were busy in the jungle on the opposite side, gathering white rubber,
which is plentiful in the surrounding country. They cross the lake in
their small prahus, pole them up the streams, and remain perhaps three
months in the utan working under adverse conditions. When engaged in their
pursuit they must always stand in water, which covers the ground and is
usually shallow but at times reaches to the armpit.

Four weeks previously an epidemic of beri-beri had started with a
mortality of one or two every day. When attacked by the disease they
return to the kampong but only few recover, most of them dying from one or
the other of the two forms of beri-beri. Nevertheless, the remainder
continue the work undismayed--"business going on as usual." In the tropics
life and death meet on friendly terms. "That is a sad phase of this
country," said a Briton to me in India; "you shake hands with a man to-day
and attend his funeral to-morrow."

At its deepest part the lake measures about seven metres. From May to
August, when the Pembuang River is small and the lake is low, the depth is
reduced to a metre. People then must walk far out to get water. Every
afternoon we had gales accompanied by heavy rain from the northeast,
although once it came from the southwest, and the _Selatan_ had to put out
another anchor. I was told that similar storms are usual every afternoon
at that season (April), during which prahus do not venture out; apparently
they also occur around Sampit and arc followed by calm nights.

Eighteen Dayaks were brought here from Bangkal. Of these, nine were
Tamoan, the tribe of the region, eight Katingan, and one Teroian (or
Balok) from Upper Pembuang. They were measured, photographed, and
interviewed. One man looked astonishingly like a Japanese. The name of the
tribe, Tamoan, also pronounced Samoan, means to wash. The tatu marks are
the same as those of the Katingans. At present these natives have only six
kampongs, three of them above Sampit. Cultivating rice was very difficult,
they complained, on account of the poor soil and wet weather. The lake has
few fish and they cannot be caught except when the water is low. There are
no large serpents here, and neither snakes, dogs, nor crocodiles are
eaten; but the rusa is accepted as food. Fruits, as the durian and
langsat, are rather scarce.

Fire is made by twirling, and these natives use the sumpitan. They know
how to make tuak, crushing the rice, boiling it, and then pouring it into
a gutshi until the vessel is half full, the remaining space being filled
with water. In three days the product may be drunk, but sometimes it is
allowed to stand a month, which makes it much stronger. If there is no
tuak there can be no dancing, they said. Many remarked upon the expense of
obtaining a wife, the cost sometimes amounting to several hundred florins,
all of which must be earned by gathering rubber. The tiwah feast is
observed, but as to legends there are none, and their language and customs
are disappearing.

These Tamoans are disintegrating chiefly on account of the ravages of
cholera. About forty years previously an epidemic nearly extinguished
Bangkal, and there was another in 1914. The result is that the population
has changed, people from other kampongs, at times from other tribes,
taking the places of the dead. At the kampong Sembulo there appear to be
no Tamoans remaining, the Malays having easily superseded them.

Although my journey to the lake yielded no evidence to substantiate the
legend connected with it, because I found no Dayaks left "to tell the
tale," still, satisfaction is derived even from a negative result. Having
accomplished what was possible I returned to Sampit, arriving almost at
the same time a sailing ship came in from Madura, the island close to
northeastern Java. It was of the usual solid type, painted white, red, and
green, and loaded with obi, a root resembling sweet potatoes, which on the
fourth day had all been sold at retail. A cargo of terasi, the well-known
spicy relish made from crawfish and a great favourite with Malays and
Javanese, was then taken on board.

In the small prison of Sampit, which is built of iron-wood, the mortality
from beri-beri among the inmates was appalling. Nine men, implicated in
the murder of two Chinese traders, in the course of eight months while the
case was being tried, all died except a Chinaman who was taken to
Bandjermasin. I understood a new prison was about to be erected. It seems

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