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THROUGH CENTRAL BORNEO
AN ACCOUNT OF TWO YEARS’ TRAVEL IN THE LAND OF THE HEAD-HUNTERS BETWEEN THE YEARS 1913 AND 1917
MEMBER OF THE SOCIETY OF SCIENCES OF CHRISTIANIA, NORWAY GOLD MEDALLIST OF THE NORWEGIAN GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY ASSOCIE ETRANGER DE LA SOCIETE DE L’ANTHROPOLOGIE DE PARIS, ETC.
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS FROM PHOTOGRAPHS BY THE AUTHOR AND WITH MAP
We may safely affirm that the better specimens of savages are much superior to the lower examples of civilized peoples.
_Alfred Russel Wallace._
Ever since my camping life with the aborigines of Queensland, many years ago, it has been my desire to explore New Guinea, the promised land of all who are fond of nature and ambitious to discover fresh secrets. In furtherance of this purpose their Majesties, the King and Queen of Norway, the Norwegian Geographical Society, the Royal Geographical Society of London, and Koninklijk Nederlandsch Aardrijkskundig Genootschap, generously assisted me with grants, thus facilitating my efforts to raise the necessary funds. Subscriptions were received in Norway, also from American and English friends, and after purchasing the principal part of my outfit in London, I departed for New York in the autumn of 1913, en route for the Dutch Indies. In 1914, having first paid a visit to the Bulungan, in northeast Borneo, in order to engage the necessary Dayaks, I was preparing to start for Dutch New Guinea when the war broke out.
Under these changed conditions his Excellency, the Governor-General, A.W.F. Idenburg, regretted his inability to give me a military escort and other assistance needed for carrying out my plan, and advised me to await a more favorable opportunity. During this interval, having meanwhile visited India, I decided to make an expedition through Central Borneo, large tracts of which are unexplored and unknown to the outside world. My project was later extended to include other regions of Dutch Borneo, and the greater part of two years was spent in making researches among its very interesting natives. In these undertakings I received the valuable assistance of their Excellencies, the governor-general and the commanding general, as well as the higher officials of the Dutch Government, to all of whom I wish to express my heartfelt thanks.
Through the courtesy of the well-known Topografische Inrichting, in Batavia, a competent surveyor, whose work will later be published, was attached to my expeditions. He did not accompany me on my first visit to the Bulungan, nor on the second occasion, when I went to the lake of Sembulo, where the country is well known. In the map included in this book I have indicated the locations of the different tribes in Dutch Borneo, based on information gathered from official and private sources and on my own observations.
I usually had a taxidermist, first a trained Sarawak Dayak, later a Javanese, to collect mammals and birds. Fishes and reptiles were also preserved in alcohol.
Specimens of ethnological interest were collected from the different tribes visited; the collection from the Penihings I believe is complete. Measurements of 227 individuals were taken and as soon as practicable will be worked out by Doctor K.S. Schreiner, professor at the University of Christiania. Vocabularies were collected from most of the tribes. In spite of adverse conditions, due to climate and the limitations under which I travelled, a satisfactory collection of photographic plates and films was brought back. With few exceptions, these photographs were taken by myself. For the pictures facing page 26 I am indebted to Doctor J.C. Koningsberger, President of the Volksraad, Buitenzorg, Java. Those facing pages 16 and 17 were taken by Mr. J.F. Labohm. The lower picture facing page 286 was taken by Mr. A.M. Erskine.
My observations on the tribes are recorded in conformity with my itinerary, and include the Kayans, Kenyahs, Murungs, Penyahbongs, Saputans, the nomadic Punans and Bukits, Penihings, Oma-Sulings, Long-Glats, Katingans, Duhoi (Ot-Danums), and the Tamoans. On one or two occasions when gathering intelligence from natives I was very fortunate in my informants–an advantage which will be appreciated by any one who has undertaken a similar errand and has enjoyed the keen satisfaction experienced when drawing the veil from primitive thought which lies so near and yet so far away.
Circumstances naturally prevented me from making a thorough study of any tribe, but I indulge the hope that the material here presented may prove in some degree acceptable to the specialist as well as to the general reader. Matter that was thought to be of purely anthropological interest is presented in a special supplement. Above all, I have abstained from generalities, to which one might be tempted on account of the many similarities encountered in the tribes that were visited. Without the light of experience it is impossible to imagine how much of interest and delight there is in store for the student of man’s primitive condition. However, as the captain of Long Iram said to me in Long Pahangei, “One must have plenty of time to travel in Borneo.” I have pleasure in recording here the judicious manner in which the Dutch authorities deal with the natives.
On a future occasion I shall hope to be able to publish a detailed report on several of the novel features of my Bornean collections, especially as regards decorative art, the protective wooden carvings called kapatongs, the flying boat, etc.
The first collections sent to Norway ran the risks incident to war. Most of them were rescued from the storehouses at Antwerp after the German occupation, through the exertions of the Norwegian Foreign Office, though a smaller part, chiefly zoological, appears to have been lost in Genoa. Count Nils Gyldenstolpe, of the Natural History Museum, Vetenskapsakademien in Stockholm, who is determining the mammals collected, informs me that so far a new species of flying maki and two new subspecies of flying squirrels have been described.
To further my enterprise, liberal gifts of supplies were received from various firms in Christiania: preserved milk from Nestle & Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Co., tobacco from Tiedemann’s Fabrik, alcohol for preserving specimens from Loitens Braenderi, cacao from Freia Chokolade Fabrik. A medical outfit was presented by Mr. E. Sissener, Apotheket “Kronen,” Christiania, and Messrs. Burrows, Wellcome & Co., of London, placed at my disposal three of their excellent medicinal travelling-cases.
I want to express my appreciation of many services rendered by the Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij and its branches, especially the Factorij in Batavia. I am under similar obligations to the Koninklijke Paketvaart-Maatschappij, and my thanks are also due to De Scheepsagentuur for courtesies received. Miss Ethel Newcomb, of New York, has kindly transcribed the two songs rendered.
Finally I desire to make grateful acknowledgment of valuable assistance rendered by Doctor J.C. Koningsberger, and by Doctor W. van Bemmelen, director of Koninklijk Magnetisch en Meteorologisch Observatorium, Weltevreden, Batavia.
Although force of circumstances altered the scope and to some extent the character of this expedition, nevertheless my Bornean experiences afforded great satisfaction. Moreover, my sojourn in the equatorial regions of the East has imbued me with an even stronger desire to carry out my original purpose, which I hope to accomplish in the near future.
NEW YORK, April, 1920.
DEPARTURE FROM NEW YORK–A RACE WITH THE IMPERIAL LIMITED–IMPRESSIONS OF JAPAN–SINGAPORE–ARRIVAL AT BATAVIA, JAVA–BUITENZORG–BORO BUDUR, THE WONDROUS BUDDHIST MONUMENT
BORNEO–CLIMATIC AND BIOLOGICAL CONDITIONS–NATURAL RESOURCES–POPULATION– HISTORY–GOVERNMENT OF THE NATIVES–RACIAL PROBLEMS.
BANDJERMASIN, THE PRINCIPAL TOWN IN DUTCH BORNEO–NORTHWARD ALONG THE EAST COAST–BALIK PAPAN, AN OIL PRODUCING CENTRE–SAMARINDA–TANDJONG SELOR–THE SULTAN–UP THE KAYAN RIVER.
AN EXPEDITION INTO THE JUNGLE–FIRST IMPRESSIONS–RAPID CHANGE IN THE DENSENESS OF VEGETATION–ANIMAL LIFE–A STUBBORN FIGHT
MEETING PUNANS, THE SHY JUNGLE PEOPLE–DOWN THE RIVER AGAIN–MY ENTHUSIASTIC BOATMEN–MALAYS VERSUS DAYAKS
RESUMPTION OF MY JOURNEY UP THE KAYAN RIVER–LONG PANGIAN–BERI-BERI– HINTS ON PROPER PROVISIONS–KENYAHS FROM CENTRAL BORNEO–EFFECT OF A SPIDER’S BITE
ON THE ISAU RIVER–A KENYAH CHILD’S FUNERAL–A GREAT FISHING EXPEDITION– CATCHING FISH BY POISONING THE RIVER–TAKING OMENS–ENTERTAINING SCENES
THE JOURNEY CONTINUED UP THE KAYAN RIVER–FIRST EXPERIENCE OF KIHAMS, OR RAPIDS–WITH KENYAH BOATMEN–ADVANTAGE OF NATIVE COOKING–LONG PELABAN–THE ATTRACTIVE KENYAHS–SOCIAL STRATA–CUSTOMS AND HABITS–VALUABLE BEADS
HYDROPHOBIA–FUNERAL CEREMONIES–AT A PADDI HARVEST–ANOTHER TUBA-FISHING EXPEDITION–THE CHARM OF PRIMITIVE MAN–INTERESTING CEREMONIES–ON HEADHUNTING GROUND
IN FOG AND DARKNESS–A RAID BY ANTS–DEPARTURE FROM LONG PELABAN–AN EXCITING PASSAGE–RETURN TO TAND-JONG SELOR
DEPARTURE FOR BANDJERMASIN–A PLEASANT STEAMSHIP LINE–TWO HEAD-HUNTERS– AN EXPEDITION TO LAKE SEMBULO–SAMPIT–THE ORANG-UTAN–STORMY WEATHER–A DISAGREEABLE RECEPTION
THE WAR CHANGES MY PLANS–CHOLERA–UP THE GREAT BARITO RIVER–PURUK TJAHU–DECIDE TO STAY AMONG THE MURUNGS–A DANCING FEAST
DAYAK CURE OF DISEASE-EVIL SPIRITS AND GOOD–ANIMISM–BLIANS, THE PRIEST-DOCTORS–THE FEAST OF RUBBER-GATHERERS–WEDDINGS–IN PRIMITIVE SURROUNDINGS
THE SCALY ANT-EATER–THE PORCUPINE–THE BLOW-PIPE–AN UNUSUAL ADVENTURE WITH A SNAKE–HABITS AND CUSTOMS OF THE MURUNGS–AN UNPLEASANT AFFAIR
FINAL START FOR CENTRAL BORNEO–CHRISTMAS TIME–EXTENT OF MALAY INFLUENCE–THE FLOWERS OF EQUATORIAL REGIONS–AT AN OT-DANUM KAMPONG–THE PICTURESQUE KIHAMS, OR RAPIDS–FORMIDABLE OBSTACLES TO TRAVEL–MALAYS ON STRIKE
ARRIVAL AT BAHANDANG–ON THE EQUATOR–A STARTLING ROBBERY–OUR MOST LABORIOUS JOURNEY–HORNBILLS–THE SNAKE AND THE INTREPID PENYAHBONG–ARRIVAL AT TAMALOE
THE PENYAHBONGS, MEN OF THE WOODS–RHINOCEROS HUNTERS–CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PENYAHBONGS–EASY HOUSEKEEPING–DAILY LIFE–WOMAN’S LOT
A STRANGE MAMMAL–ANIMAL LIFE IN CENTRAL BORNEO–A SUPERB AND SILENT REALM–VISIT TO A SALT WATER EXUDATION–PASSING THE DIVIDING RIDGE–A MOUSE-DEER CHASE–ON THE KASAO RIVER
THE SAPUTANS–HOW THE EARS OF THE CHIEF WERE PIERCED–AN UNEXPECTED ATTACK OF FILARIASIS–DEPARTURE FROM THE SAPUTANS–DOWN THE KASAO RIVER–“TOBOGGANING” THE KIHAMS
ARRIVAL ON THE MAHAKAM RIVER–AMONG THE PENIHINGS–LONG KAI, A PLEASANT PLACE–A BLIAN’S SHIELD–PUNANS AND BUKATS, SIMPLE-MINDED NOMADS–EXTREME PENALTY FOR UNFAITHFULNESS–LONG TJEHAN
AN EXCURSION DOWN THE RIVER–LONG PAHANGEI–THE OMASULINGS–THE GREAT TRIENNIAL FESTIVAL–HOSPITABLE NATIVES–INCIDENTS IN PHOTOGRAPHY
DAYAK DOGS–A FUNERAL ON THE MAHAKAM–OUR RETURN JOURNEY–AGAIN AT LONG TJEHAN–IN SEARCH OF A UNIQUE ORCHID–A BURIAL CAVE
A PROFITABLE STAY–MAGNIFICENT FRUITS OF BORNEO–OMEN BIRDS–THE PENIHINGS IN DAILY LIFE–TOP PLAYING–RELIGIOUS IDEAS–CURING DISEASE
HEAD-HUNTING, ITS PRACTICE AND PURPOSE
DEPARTURE FROM THE PENIHINGS–FRUIT-EATING FISH–ANOTHER CALL AT LONG PAHANGEI–A TRIP UP THE MERASI RIVER–GENIAL NATIVES–AN INOPPORTUNE VISIT–THE DURIAN, QUEEN OF ALL FRUITS
AMONG THE LONG-GLATS–IS FEAR OF EXPOSURE TO THE SUN JUSTIFIED?– CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LONG-GLATS–GOODBYE TO THE MAHAKAM
CONTINUING THE JOURNEY DOWN THE RIVER–GREAT KIHAMS–BATOKELAU–AT LONG IRAM–LAST STAGES OF OUR JOURNEY–ARRIVAL AT SAMARINDA–HINDU ANTIQUITIES–NATIVE’S SUPERIORITY TO CIVILISED MAN
AN EARTHQUAKE–ERADICATING THE PLAGUE–THROUGH THE COUNTRY NORTHEAST OF BANDJERMASIN–MARTAPURA AND ITS DIAMOND-FIELDS–PENGARON–THE GIANT PIG–THE BUKITS–WELL-PRESERVED DECORATIVE DESIGNS–AN ATTRACTIVE FAMILY
THE BALEI OR TEMPLE–A LITTLE KNOWN PART OF THE COUNTRY–A COURTEOUS MALAY–POWER OVER ANIMALS–NEGARA.
AN EXPEDITION TO THE KATINGAN RIVER–TATUING OF THE ENTIRE BODY–THE GATHERING OF HONEY–A PLEASANT INTERMEZZO–AN UNUSUALLY ARTISTIC PRODUCTION–UP THE SAMBA RIVER–WITH INCOMPETENT BOATMEN
AMONG THE DUHOI (OT-DANUMS)–RICH COLLECTIONS–THE KAPATONGS–THE BATHING OF DAYAK INFANTS–CHRISTMAS EVE–THE FLYING BOAT–MARRIAGE CEREMONIES
AGRICULTURAL PURSUITS–FACTS ABOUT ULU-OTS, THE WILD MEN OF BORNEO–TAKING LEAVE OF THE INTERESTING DUHOI–A VISIT TO THE UPPER KATINGANS–DANCING–FRIENDLY NATIVES–DOWN THE KATINGAN RIVER
KASUNGAN–THE WEALTH OF THE DAYAKS–ANIMISM–GUARDIANS OF THE DEAD–HUGE SERPENTS–CROCODILES–GOVERNMENT OF DAYS GONE BY–KATINGAN CUSTOMS AND BELIEFS
FUNERAL CUSTOMS OF THE KATINGANS–DEPARTURE FROM KASUNGAN–AN ATTEMPTED VISIT TO SEMBULO–INDIFFERENT MALAYS–A STRANGE DISEASE–THE BELIEF IN TAILED PEOPLE–THE LEGEND OF THE ANCESTOR OF TAILED MEN
A VISIT TO KUALA KAPUAS–A BREED OF STUMP-TAILED DOGS–THE SHORT-TAILED CATS OF BORNEO–A SECOND EXPEDITION TO LAKE SEMBULO–NATIVES UNDISMAYED BY BERI-BERI–THE TAMOANS–THE PRACTICE OF INCISION
FOLKLORE OF SOME OF THE TRIBES IN DUTCH BORNEO VISITED BY THE AUTHOR
SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES TO THE TRIBES IN DUTCH BORNEO VISITED BY THE AUTHOR
A SHORT GLOSSARY
Carl Lumholtz in the Bulungan, Dutch Borneo, May, 1914
In the jungle of Southern Borneo, near the Sampit River
The Giant Taro (_Alocasia Macrorhiza_)
The Orang-Utan. A more than half-grown specimen
The Long-Nosed Monkey (_Nasalis Larvatus_), peculiar to Borneo
The Sultan of Bulungan
Chonggat, the author’s Dayak collector of animals and birds
Approaching Kaburau, on the Kayan River
Banglan, a Kayan, and his family. Kaburau
Ladders, below Long Pangian, on the Kayan River
Young Kayan, from Kaburau
Kayan, from Kaburau. Shows a Chinese manner of hair-dressing
Kayan from Kaburau. Showing the distended ear lobes
Kayan child, Kaburau
Kayan mother and infant. Near Long Pangian
Punans, the shy nomads of the jungle
Punans near my camp
Punan using the sumpitan or blowpipe
Kayan climbing a tree
Kayan at the author’s camp, blowing a native wind instrument
The King Cobra (_Naia Bungarus_)
Kayan, from Kaburau. Front, side, and back views
Kayan, in mourning dress, Kaburau
Kenyah, from Long Pelaban. Front, side, and back views
Tuba fishing on the Isau River
Tuba fishing. Taking the augury by fire-making. Isau River
Tuba fishing. Effects of the poison. Pipa River
Kenyahs starting in the morning for distant Apo Kayan. Long Pangian, Kayan River
A funeral house. Near Long Pelaban, Kayan River
Long Pelaban, a Kenyah kampong, on the Kayan River
The gallery of a communal house, Long Pelaban, Kayan River
Kenyah father and child. Long Pelaban, Kayan River
Kenyah woman, with large basket used for carrying rice. Long Pelaban, Kayan River
A Kenyah’s sweetheart removing his eyebrows and eyelashes. Long Pelaban, Kayan River
Wrestling. Long Pelaban, Kayan River
Kenyah girl, in a woman’s usual attire. Long Pelaban, Kayan River
Kenyah mother and child, on their daily trips to the Long Pelaban, Kayan River
Tuba fishing, at the Pipa River
Kenyah ready for a trip to the ladang (fields). Long Pelaban, Kayan River
Kenyah in full war attire. Long Pelaban, Kayan River
Sacrificing the pig at the festival. Tumbang Marowei
Murung women squatting in order to observe the author. Tumbang Marowei
Murung man and wife. Tumbang Marowei
The beating of gongs furnishes the music at festivals. Tumbang Marowei
The Feast of the Rubber Gatherers. Tumbang Marowei
Blians, or priest-doctors, at Tumbang Marowei
Murung women smoking cigarettes and preparing them from native tobacco and leaves of trees. Tumbang Marowei
The Scaly Ant-Eater (_Manis_). Tumbang Marowei
Telok Djulo, an Ot-Danum kampong, on the Barito River
Ot-Danum, wearing gold breastplates. Telok Djulo
Passing the Kiham Mudang, on the Upper Barito River
Rough travel by boat on the Upper Barito River
Passing the boats up the rapids of the Upper Barito River
Part of my provisions, at Bahandang, Busang River
Djobing, our efficient Malay
Part of the expedition ascending the Busang River
Tamaloe, a lately formed Penyahbong kampong
Pisha, the good Penyahbong chief. Tamaloe
Penyahbong rhino hunters. Tamaloe
Penyahbong women. Tamaloe
Back view of the Penyahbong women, showing their head-dress
Penyahbong, front, side, and back view. Tamaloe
The Penyahbong war dance. Tamaloe
Saputan, on his way to the ladang (fields) and for the hunt of Babi. Data Laong
Saputans, front and side views. Data Laong
Saputan, the kapala of Data Laong
Saputans showing their war prowess
Saputans poling. Data Laong
Piercing the ears of the Saputan chief in order to insert a tiger cat’s corner teeth. Data Laong
Mahakam River, westward view, from the author’s tent, at Long Kai
Penihings, the kapala of Long Kai and his children
Bukat, at Long Kai, front, side, and back views
Bukatwomen, at Long Kai, front and side views
The Melah ceremony for imparting health and strength. Long Pahangei
Oma-Sulings. Long Pahangei
The Dangei hut, a temporary place of worship
The Raja Besar, or great chief, and his wife. Long Pahangei
Large wooden drum. Long Pahangei
Lidju, a Long-Glat noble, and his wife, the sister of the Raja Besar. Long Pahangei
Cooking rice in bamboo receptacles. Long Pahangei
Lung Karang, a limestone hill, near Long Tjehan, on the Mahakam River
Penihing burial cave, near the Tjehan River
Penihing women carrying water. Long Kai
Penihings, from Long Kai
Two young Penihings, caught unawares by my camera. Sungei Lobang
The durian tree, with fruit. Lulo Pakko, on the Merasi River
One of our Javanese soldiers, in undress, carrying two durians. Lulo Pakko, Merasi River
A ripe durian opened
Three Long-Glat women of the nobility. Long Tujo
Back view of the Long-Glat women
Long-Glat women. Long Tujo. Front view
Long-Glat women. Side and back views
Long-Glats, with a native dog. Long Tujo
A narrow-snouted crocodile shot by our sergeant below the great rapids of the Mahakam
Entrance to the cave of Kong Beng
Malays searching for diamonds at Martapura
Malay house, near Martapura
Malay house at Mandin
Bukit women. Mandin
Bukit at Lok Besar, front and back views
Bukit woman and her two sons. Lok Besar
Bukit women with their children. Lok Besar
The “Order” of Beraui, and his wife, both Duhoi. Beraui, on the Samba River
A Duhoi and his family. Beraui, Samba River
A bearded Dayak, front and side views
Upper Katingans passing the rapids of Buntut Mangkikit
Upper Katingan women dancing. Buntut Mangkikit
Upper Katingan family, at Buntut Mangkikit
An upper Katingan, of Buntut Mangkikit. Front, side, and back views
Upper Katingan women at Buntut Mangkikit, front and side views
Samples of Dayak tatuing
Women beating small drums and singing. Buntut Mangkikit
Protecting against evil spirits. Kasungan
Staffs, called pantars, erected in memoriam of the dead, at a kampong below Kuala Samba
A wealthy Katingan, at Kasungan
A loving pair guarding the dead. Kasungan
Sacrifice of eggs to the good spirits. Long Pahangei, Mahakam River
Panyanggaran, at Bali, Katingan River
Panyanggaran, at Kasungan, Katingan River
Tamoans, from Bangkal, Lake Sembulo, front and side views
Katingan taking an astronomical observation. Kasungan
Kenyah women husking rice. Long Pelaban, Kayan River
A tailless dog, sister of the mother of the stump-tailed ones. Bandjermasin
The short-tailed domestic cat of Borneo
A breed of stump-tailed dogs. Bandjermasin
DEPARTURE FROM NEW YORK–A RACE WITH THE IMPERIAL LIMITED–IMPRESSIONS OF JAPAN–SINGAPORE–ARRIVAL AT BATAVIA, JAVA–BUITENZORG–BORO BUDUR, THE WONDROUS BUDDHIST MONUMENT
Having concluded important business matters during a brief stay in New York, I decided to go to Canada to take the express train for Vancouver. It was the last train which made connection with the Canadian Pacific steamer for Hong-Kong, and if I could make it I should save three weeks. With the assurance that I should have a couple of hours latitude, I started in the morning for Montreal. There was no doubt that I should make it unless something unusual delayed the north-bound train, and that is exactly what occurred. The steam power of the brake got out of order, necessitating a stop for repairs, and considerable time was lost. Darkness came on and I began to feel anxious about the prospect of gaining my object.
The conductor and his assistant, in the knowledge that I had a through ticket to Hong-Kong, did everything in their power to aid me. Wire messages were sent to have the Imperial Limited Express wait for “a man travelling first-class”; to the custom-house, and also for a cab and four “red caps” to meet me on arrival. The assistant conductor told everybody of the plight of the passenger with the long journey before him, the engineer was prevailed upon to increase his speed; and the passengers began to exhibit interest. A tall Canadian came to me and expressed his belief that I would catch that train, and even if it should be gone there was another a little later by which it might be overtaken. “I shall assist you,” he added.
As we approached Montreal there were still twelve minutes left. The lights of the city were visible near by, and one of my fellow passengers was in the act of assuring me that my chances were good, when our train suddenly stopped–on account of the bridge being open to permit a ship to pass. Ten minutes lost! I had decided, if necessary, to sacrifice two boxes of honey which I had bought at the last moment, honey and water being my usual drink when on expeditions. The total weight was ninety kilograms, but they were neatly packed in paper and had been allowed to stand at one side of the entrance to the Pullman car. They were an important adjunct of my outfit, but perhaps after all it would be necessary for us to part.
Immediately upon the opening of the doors the four porters presented themselves with the encouraging information that they understood the Imperial Limited was waiting. My luggage, including the honey, was hurried on to a large truck, my Canadian friend throwing his on too, and speeding the boys to a trot, we ran as fast as we could to the baggage-room of the custom-house, where the official in charge caused us only a short delay. As the packages were being loaded into three cabs a man stepped forward and accosted me: “We have got you now! I am a reporter for _The Star_, and would like to know who the man is that keeps the Imperial Limited waiting!” The moment did not seem favourable for an interview, but I invited him to enter my cab and the two or three minutes required to drive to the station afforded opportunity for an explanation:
I was on my way to New Guinea. This was a Norwegian undertaking which had the support of three geographical societies. It was hoped that a geologist and a botanist from Norway would meet me next year in Batavia to take part in this expedition to one of the least-known regions on the globe. “What do you expect to find?” he asked just as we halted.
The porters outside said the train was gone, having waited fifteen minutes. The newspaper man immediately joined forces with my Canadian friend, and they were equally determined that by some means I should overtake that train. First we went to look for the station-master, hoping through him to obtain permission to have the train stopped en route. When found after a few minutes’ search, he tried in vain to get one of the officials of the Canadian Pacific Company on the telephone. My two friends stood near to keep his interest active, but he did not seem to succeed. The station was quiet and looked abandoned. It was after ten o’clock and at that time of the evening the hope of reaching an official at his residence seemed forlorn.
Meantime I had my luggage ready to throw aboard the 10.30 express, which was my one chance in case the Imperial Limited could be halted. The three men were persistent but finally, two or three minutes before the departure of the express, they came to me hurriedly and said: “You had better go by this train to North Bay, where you will arrive at 9.30 to-morrow morning. There you will catch the train, or if not you can return here.” There appeared to me small prospect that the three men would succeed in obtaining the desired permission, but I had no time for reflection. The train was ready to start and my luggage was hastily thrown to the platform of the car. I bade the gentlemen a hurried good-bye, thanking them for all the trouble they had taken. “You are going to catch that train!” the reporter exclaimed in a firm and encouraging tone. “But what do you expect to find in New Guinea?” he suddenly inquired as I jumped on to the slowly moving train.
Reflecting that in the worst case I would be back in Montreal in one and a half days, I fell asleep. At 6.30 in the morning I was awakened by the voice of the porter saying, “the train is waiting for you, sir,” as he rolled up the curtain. It really was the Imperial Express! The big red cars stood there quietly in the sunshine of the early morning. In a few minutes I was dressed, and never with greater satisfaction have I paid a porter his fee.
The station was Chalk River, and the train had waited forty minutes. What a comfortable feeling to know that all my belongings were safely on board! I had not only saved time and money but an interesting trip across the continent lay before me. Having washed and put on clean garments, I had my breakfast while passing through an enchanting hilly country, amid smiling white birches, and the maples in the autumn glory of their foliage, with more intensely red colouring than can be seen outside North America. The oatmeal porridge seemed unusually well prepared: the waiter intimated that the cook was a Parisian. However that might have been, he was probably of French descent.
Four days later we arrived at Vancouver, where I wrote to the three gentlemen of Montreal, my appreciation of services rendered, addressing them care of _The Star_. Their names I did not know, but it was not the first time that I had been reminded of Darwin’s assurance, in the account of his travels round the world, as to “how many truly kind-hearted people there are, with whom he (the traveller) never before had, nor ever again will have any further communication, who yet are ready to offer him the most disinterested assistance.”
Early in the morning on October 19 we saw the first Japanese fishing-boats. The sea was green and in the atmosphere a kind of haze, which almost seems peculiar to Japan, imparted an artistic tone to everything. In splendid weather, almost calm, we sailed along the coast of Nippon. As we entered the bay of Yokohama the sun was setting over a landscape that realised one’s preconceived ideas of the beauty of the country. On one side, low ridges with rows of picturesque pine-trees just as you know them from Japanese prints, while in the background to the west, above the clouds rose the top of Fuji, nearly 4,000 metres above sea-level. We steamed up in absolute calm, while the long twilight was still further prolonged by a brilliant afterglow.
Taking advantage of the permit to leave the steamer and rejoin it in Kobe, and having received useful advice from Cook’s representative who came on board, I immediately went ashore. On calling a rickshaw I was much surprised to find that the man spoke English quite well. He trotted continuously twenty minutes, to the railway station, where in good time I caught the train for the West, and at daybreak I was ready to observe the beautiful country through which we passed. I had made no provision for breakfast, but one of my fellow travellers, who came from Tokio, had the courtesy to offer me two snipe with bacon, which tasted uncommonly well.
In the morning I arrived at Kioto, the city of many temples, and found the Kioto hotel satisfactory. I shall not attempt to describe in detail the fascination of the two days I spent here, where one still may see something of old Japan. In Kobe, Nagasaki, and other cities exposed to the stream of travellers, Western influence is evident everywhere, and the inhabitants are less attractive on that account. After all one has heard and read about the charm of the country, one is inclined to think that the reports are exaggerated, but as far as my brief experience in Nippon goes, it is the most beautiful and interesting country that I have visited, and I hope in the future to know it better.
The deepest impression made upon me by the Japanese was that they are all so active, healthy, and strong; always good-tempered, their manners are exquisite, even the plain people bowing to each other, and many young people saluted me on the street. The infinite variety in their shops is noticeable. To see the coaling of the steamers in Japanese harbours, which is done by baskets handed from one to another, makes an impression on the traveller. Hundreds of women and men take part in the occupation, and they come neatly dressed to this dirty work, women with clean white kerchiefs on their heads. The low ditches in their rice-fields are like engineering work, and their bundles of wood are nicely tied.
Of the many temples I visited in Kioto the first was Chion-in, which lies impressively on an elevation at the foot of a charming wooded hill. The tiny lake at the back of the quaint structure, the peaceful atmosphere, the sunshine, and singing birds–the _tout ensemble_ was inexpressibly beautiful. On my way back to the hotel I passed a Christian church and felt ashamed of the wretched architecture, in the usual conventional style, made of stone with white-plastered walls, hard and unattractive. Never have I been among a people so close to nature, strikingly intelligent, friendly, and the most aesthetic of all nations on the globe.
In continuing the journey opportunity is afforded to see Shanghai, Hong-Kong, and at last Singapore, the important port of the Malay Peninsula. Singapore, with its green lawns and trees, has a pleasant, though humid climate, cooler than that of Batavia, and quite comfortable although so near the equator. It is satisfying to know one place where the native races have a good time in competition with the whites, not only the Chinese, who have reached power and influence here, but also the Malays, natives of India, Arabs, etc. The Chinese rickshaw men here are of superb physique, and the excellence of the service renders this the most agreeable method of getting about. Moreover, it is a pleasure to watch their athletic movements and long easy stride, as if they were half flying. Some of them pass the carriages. They are jolly, like big children, and are natural teetotalers, but they sometimes fight about money among themselves.
After securing a Chinese photographer and a trained native collector of zoological specimens, I embarked in the excellent Dutch steamer _Rumphius_ for Batavia where I arrived on the 10th of November. The first thing to be done was to ask an audience of the Governor-General of Netherlands India, who usually stays at Buitenzorg, the site of the world-famous botanical gardens. It is an hour’s trip by express from Batavia, and although only 265 metres higher, has a much pleasanter climate. The palace, which is within the botanical gardens, has an unusually attractive situation, and the interior is light, cool, and stately. His excellency, A.W.F. Idenburg, most courteously gave the necessary orders for the furtherance of my proposed expedition to New Guinea, and as it was necessary for me to go first to Dutch Borneo, to secure a Dayak crew, he provided me with an introduction to the Resident of the South and Eastern Division.
During the few days I stayed in Buitenzorg, the botanical gardens were a source of ever new delight. It was in the latter half of November and thus well into the rainy season. Usually showers came every afternoon, but the mornings, even up to eleven o’clock, always appeared like spring-time, only in a more magnificent edition than that of temperate zones. In the effulgence of light and the fresh coolness of the first hours of the day, plant and animal life seemed jubilant. After the calm and heat of midday, violent thunder-storms of short duration may occur, but the evenings are generally beautiful, although the prevailing inclination is to retire early. In the tropics one realises more readily than elsewhere how a single day contains all the verities and realities of one’s whole life: spring, summer, and autumn every day, as in a year or in a lifetime. Australians and Americans who visit Java every year make a great mistake in selecting the dry season, April to July, for their travels. To be sure, one is not then troubled by rain, but on the other hand the heat is greater, the country becomes dry, and including the botanical gardens, loses much of its attraction.
I decided to go by rail to Soerabaia, the point of steamboat connection with Borneo; this would give me opportunity to see Java besides saving some time. After twelve hours’ travel by express the train stops for the night at Djokjakarta where there is a good hotel. We now find ourselves in a region which formerly was the main seat of Buddhism in Java. The world-famous monument, Boro Budur, is in the neighbourhood to the north in the district of Kedu, and by motor-car a visit may easily be made in one day, but for those who can spend more time on this interesting excursion there is satisfactory accommodation in a small hotel near by. The government has of late years successfully restored this magnificent ancient structure which at its base forms a square, with the length of the side 150 metres, and rises to a height of more than 30 metres. At first sight it does not seem as large as expected, but on entering the first gallery one is struck by the monumental magnitude and unique beauty of the edifice.
Built upon a small hill from blocks of trachyte, it consists of twelve terraces rising one above another, and connected by staircases. The uppermost terrace, fifteen metres in diameter, has a dome. Each gallery is surrounded by a wall adorned with niches in handsome settings, each containing a life-sized Buddha, with legs crossed, soles turned downward. There are 432 such niches, and from this great number of statues of the famous religious founder the place probably derived its name, Boro Budur equals Bara Buddha (Buddhas without number).
There are no less than 1,600 has reliefs, handsome carvings in hard stone mostly representing scenes from the life of Buddha and “which must,” says Wallace, “occupy an extent of nearly three miles in length. The amount of human labour and skill expended on the Great Pyramids of Egypt sink into insignificance when compared with that required to complete this sculptured hill-temple in the interior of Java.” It dates from the eighth or ninth century after Christ, and in reality is not a temple, but a so-called dagoba, dedicated to the keeping of some Buddhist sacred relic which was deposited in the dome, its principal part. In the beautiful light of afternoon the walk through the galleries was especially impressive. From that vantage point there is presented a fine, extensive view of a peaceful landscape, and at the time of my visit an actively smoking volcano in the far distance added a picturesque feature. In the vicinity is another noble Hindu structure, the so-called temple of Mendut, inside of which is found a large and singular Buddha sitting on a chair, legs hanging down. The figure is nude and the expression on its features is very mild.
The journey from Djokjakarta to Soerabaia consumes about half a day and the trip is pleasanter than that of the previous day, when the rolling of the fast express on a narrow-gauge track was rather trying, while at dinner-time the soup and water were thrown about in an annoying manner. I have no doubt that this defect will soon be remedied, for Java is still what a very distinguished English visitor said sixty years ago: “the very garden of the East and perhaps upon the whole the richest, best cultivated, and best governed tropical island in the world.” Soerabaia is the great shipping port for sugar, tobacco, etc., and a more important commercial centre than Batavia. The day after my arrival I started for Borneo where I intended to proceed to the Kayan or Bulungan River in the Northeast. It was my purpose to take advantage of the occasion to acquaint myself with that district and its natives which would extend my travels by a few months.
BORNEO–CLIMATIC AND BIOLOGICAL CONDITIONS–NATURAL RESOURCES–POPULATION– HISTORY–GOVERNMENT OF THE NATIVES–RACIAL PROBLEMS
Leaving Greenland out of consideration, Borneo is the second largest island on the globe, the greater part of it, southern and eastern, belonging to Holland. In a recent geological period this island as well as Java and Sumatra formed part of Asia. A glance at the map shows that Borneo is drained by rivers which originate in the central region near each other, the greater by far being in Dutch territory, some of them navigable to large steam launches for 500 or 600 kilometres. The principal chain of mountains runs, roughly speaking, from northeast to southwest, the average height being perhaps 1,000-1,500 metres, with higher peaks now and then. There are also ranges from east and west. The remainder is irregular hilly country, with low swampy coasts. The highest mountain is Kinabalu, in the north, about 4,500 metres above the sea and composed of “porphyritic granite and igneous rocks.” There are no active volcanoes. The whole island is covered with forest vegetation from the coasts to the tops of the hills and ranges.
The climate is humid and warm and remarkably even, the thermometer in the inland rarely reaching above 85 F. in the shade. Rain is copious most of the year; at night it sometimes rains continuously; but a day of uninterrupted downpour did not occur during my two years of travel. It comes in showers, usually lasting an hour or two, when it clears as suddenly as it began, and within half an hour all is dry again. In the interior, on account of the vast jungles, except in case of thunderstorms, which are rare, there is no wind, but on the coasts one may encounter storms in the time of both the northeast and the southwest monsoons. Though Borneo and the central mountains of New Guinea have the greatest rainfall in the Malay Archipelago, there is a distinct dry season, which is mostly felt during April, May, and June, but is less noticeable in the central parts. As regards the distribution of rain and dry weather, some difference was experienced as between the two years, and a planter of several years’ experience in the south told me that one year is not like another. In spite of the general supposition to the contrary the climate of Borneo is quite pleasant, and probably less unhealthful than most equatorial regions, particularly in the central part where malaria is rare and prickly heat does not occur.
Borneo has very many useful trees, notably hard woods. Rubber is still a source of income to the Malays and Dayaks, and the rattan and bamboo, on which the very existence of the natives depends, grow everywhere. The sago-palm and a great number of valuable wild fruits are found, such as the famous durian, mangosteen, lansat, rambutan, and others. The climate seems to be specially suited to fruit, the pineapple and pomelo reaching their highest perfection here. The coconut-palm thrives on the island. Borneo is famous for its orchids and most of the species of pitcher-plants (_nepenthes_) are found here, the largest of which will hold two “quarts” of water.
The elephant, rhinoceros, tapir, wild cattle, and many other kinds of smaller animals of Asia are found in Borneo. No Indian tigers are in the country, though many varieties of the cat family are there, among them the beautiful large _felis nebulosa_. Wild pigs of many species roam the jungle in abundance. Several kinds of mammals are peculiar to the island, among which may be mentioned the long-nosed monkey (_nasalis larvatus_). There are over 550 species of birds, but the individuals of the species are not numerous; the pheasant family is especially gorgeous in form and colour. The rivers and the surrounding sea swarm with fish of many kinds, furnishing an abundance of food, although generally not very palatable. The djelavat, in flavour not unlike salmon, and the salap, both of which I met in the upper courses of the rivers Samba, Barito, and Mahakam, are notable exceptions.
The mineral resources of Borneo are very considerable; coal, gold, iron, diamonds, tin, and antimony are among the most valuable. Anthracite coal is not found in the country, that which is in evidence being from the tertiary period. Gold is everywhere, but thus far is not found in sufficient quantity to pay. Formerly the natives of the upper Kotawaringin district had to pay the Sultan gold as a tax. A mining engineer told me that in Martapura, the principal diamond-field, one may find gold, platinum, and diamonds while washing one pan.
The total population of the island is probably 3,000,000. As regards the South and Eastern Division of Dutch Borneo–roughly half of the island–to which my travels were confined, the census returns of 1914 give in round figures a total of 906,000 people, of whom 800 are Europeans (470 men and 330 women), 86,000 Chinese, 817,000 Dayaks and Malays, and 2,650 Arabs and other aliens. Of these peoples no less than 600,000 live in a comparatively small area of the southeast, the districts of Oeloe Soengei and Bandjermasin. These are nearly all Malays, only 4,000 or 5,000 being Dayaks, who probably do not form the majority of the 217,000 that make up the remainder of the native population of the Division.
On account of the small white population and insufficient means of communication, which is nearly all by river, the natural resources of Dutch Borneo are still in the infancy of development. The petroleum industry has reached important proportions, but development of the mineral wealth has hardly begun. In 1917 a government commission, having the location of iron and gold especially in view, was sent to explore the mineral possibilities of the Schwaner Mountains. In the alluvial country along the rivers are vast future possibilities for rational agriculture, by clearing the jungle where at present the Malays and Dayaks pursue their primitive operations of planting rice in holes made with a pointed stick.
The early history of Borneo is obscure. Nothing in that regard can be learned from its present barbarous natives who have no written records, and few of whom have any conception of the island as a geographical unit. Although the Chinese had early knowledge of, and dealings with, Borneo, there seems little doubt that the country was first colonised by Hindu Javanese from Modjopahit, the most important of the several kingdoms which Hindus began to found in the early centuries after Christ. Modjopahit enclosed the region round the present Soerabaia in East Java, and it was easy to reach Borneo from there, to-day distant only twenty-seven hours by steamer. These first settlers in Borneo professed Hinduism and to some extent Buddhism. They founded several small kingdoms, among them Bandjermasin, Pasir, and Kutei, also Brunei on the north coast. But another race came, the Malays, who with their roving disposition extended their influence in the coast countries and began to form states. Then Islamism appeared in the Orient and changed conditions. Arabs, sword in hand, converted Java, and as far as they could, destroyed temples, monuments, and statues. The Malays, too, became Mohammedans and the sway of Islam spread more or less over the whole Malay Archipelago. With the fall of Modjopahit in 1478 the last vestige of Hindu Javanese influence in Borneo disappeared.
The Malays established sultanates with the same kind of government that is habitual with Mohammedans, based on oppression of the natives by the levying of tribute with the complement of strife, intrigue, and non-progress. In the course of time the Malays have not only absorbed the Hindu Javanese, but also largely the Bugis, who had founded a state on the west coast, and in our time they are gradually pushing back the Dayaks and slowly but surely absorbing them. The Chinese have also played a prominent part in the colonisation of Borneo, having early developed gold and diamond mines and established trade, and though at times they have been unruly, they are today an element much appreciated by the Dutch in the development of the country.
As regards the time when European influence appeared in Borneo, the small sultanate of Brunei in the north was the first to come in contact with Europeans. Pigafetta, with the survivors of Magellan’s expedition, arrived here from the Moluccas in 1521, and was the first to give an account of it to the Western world. He calls it “Bornei,” which later, with a slight change, became the name of the whole island. The ever-present Portuguese early established trade relations with the sultanate. Since the Napoleonic wars, when the East Indian colonies were returned to Holland, the Dutch have gradually extended their rule in Borneo to include two-thirds of the island. In the remainder the British have consolidated their interests, and in 1906, the European occupation of Borneo was completed. The distribution of territory has roughly been placed thus: Dutch Borneo, seventy per cent; Sarawak and Brunei, twenty per cent; British North Borneo, ten per cent.
To the world at large Borneo is probably best known through the romance surrounding the name of James Brooke, who became Raja of Sarawak, in 1841. His story has often been told, but a brief account may not be out of place. He had been to the Far East and its fascination, together with an impulse to benefit the natives, drew him back again. After resigning his commission in the army of the British East India Company, he built his own yacht of 140 tons, practised his crew in the Mediterranean and then set sail for the Malay Archipelago. In his _Proposed Exploring Expedition to the Asiatic Archipelago_, 1838, are found these stirring words which strike a responsive chord in the heart of every true explorer:
“Imagination whispers to ambition that there are yet lands unknown which might be discovered. Tell me, would not a man’s life be well spent–tell me, would it not be well sacrificed in an endeavour to explore these regions? When I think of dangers and death I think of them only because they would remove me from such a field for ambition, for energy, and for knowledge.” [*]
[Footnote *: _The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. “Dido” for the Suppression of Piracy_, by Captain H. Keppel, p. 374. Harper’s, New York, 1846.]
Mr. Brooke arrived at Sarawak where he remained some time, surveying the coast and studying the people. In those days Malay pirates rendered the country dangerous to approach and several ships had been lost and their crews murdered. One of the chronic rebellions against the Sultan of Brunei was raging at the time, and Mr. Brooke was asked to suppress it, was made Raja, and defeated the rebels, cleared the river of pirates and established order.
Though Mohammedan laws were maintained in Sarawak, the worst abuses were purged out, as for instance, the death penalty for conjugal infidelity, and the sufficiency of a fine in extenuation of a murder. As for the Dayaks who formerly were cheated by Malay traders and robbed by Malay chiefs, they were permitted to enjoy absolute safety. Both Raja Brooke and his nephew, who succeeded him in the same spirit, followed the policy of making use of the natives themselves in governing, and Sarawak to-day enjoys the distinction of being a country where the interests of the natives are guarded with greater care than those of “the minority of superior race.” Resting on the good-will of the natives and their uplift, the government of the two white Rajas has been remarkably successful.
The Dutch, with their much larger possessions, in a similar way have invoked the co-operation of the native chiefs. Their government is also largely paternal, which is the form best suited to the circumstances. The Malay Sultans maintain power under Dutch control and receive their income from the government, which has abolished many abuses. As for the pagan tribes, they are treated with admirable justice.
Well administered by Europeans as Borneo undoubtedly is, the question may well arise as to whether the natives are not becoming sufficiently civilised to render purposeless expeditions to study them. To this may be answered that in a country so vast, where white men are comparatively few in number, the aborigines in the more remote part are still very little affected by outside influence. The geographical features are an important factor here. In the immense extent of forest vegetation which covers the land from the sea to the tops of the mountains, the rivers are the only highways, and in their upper courses, on account of rapids and waterfalls, travel is difficult and often dangerous. Although in the last quarter of a century much has been accomplished by ethnology, still for years to come Borneo, especially the Dutch part of it, will remain a prolific field for research. The tribes are difficult to classify, and in Dutch Borneo undoubtedly additional groups are to be found. The Muruts in the north, who use irrigation in their rice culture and show physical differences from the others, are still little known. Many tribes in Dutch Borneo have never been studied. So recently as 1913 Mr. Harry C. Raven, an American zoological collector, in crossing the peninsula that springs forth on the east coast about 1 N.L., came across natives, of the Basap tribe, who had not before been in contact with whites. The problem of the Indonesians is far from solved, nor is it known who the original inhabitants of Borneo were, Negritos or others, and what role, if any, the ancestors of the Polynesians played remains to be discovered.
The generally accepted idea has been that the Malays inhabit the coasts and the Dayaks the interior. This is not strictly correct because the racial problems of the island are much more complicated. Doctor A.C. Haddon recognises five principal groups of people in Sarawak, Punan, Kenyah-Kayan, Iban or Sea Dayak, Malay, and the remaining tribes he comprehends under the noncommittal name Klemantan. He distinguishes two main races, a dolichocephalic and a brachycephalic, terming the former Indonesian, the latter Proto-Malay.
Doctor A.W. Nieuwenhuis, who about the end of the last century made important researches in the upper parts of the Kapuas and Mahakam Rivers and at Apo Kayan, found the Ot-Danum, Bahau-Kenyah, and Punan to be three distinct groups of that region. Doctor Kohlbrugge and Doctor Haddon consider the Ot-Danums as Indonesians, to whom the former also consigns the Kayans and the Punans. [*] Doctors Hose and McDougall, who in their _Pagan Tribes of Borneo_ have contributed much to the ethnology of the island, have convincingly shown that the Ibans (Sea Dayaks) are recent immigrants, probably of only two hundred years ago, from Sumatra, and are Proto-Malays. They hold the view that the Kayans have imparted to the Kenyahs and other tribes the “principal elements of the peculiar culture which they now have in common.”
[Footnote *: Quoted from _Pagan Tribes in Borneo,_ II, p. 316]
The Malays undoubtedly were the first to employ the word Dayak as a designation for the native tribes except the nomadic, and in this they have been followed by both the Dutch and the British. The word, which makes its appearance in the latter part of the eighteenth century, is derived from a Sarawak word, dayah, man, and is therefore, as Ling Roth says, a generic term for man. The tribes do not call themselves Dayaks, and to use the designation as an anthropological descriptive is an inadmissible generalisation. Nevertheless, in the general conception the word has come to mean all the natives of Borneo except the Malays and the nomadic peoples, in the same way as American Indian stands for the multitude of tribes distributed over a continent. In this sense, for the sake of convenience, I shall myself use the word, but to apply it indiscriminately to anthropological matters is as unsatisfactory as if one should describe a certain tribe in the new world merely as American Indian.
BANDJERMASIN, THE PRINCIPAL TOWN IN DUTCH BORNEO–NORTHWARD ALONG THE EAST COAST–BALIK PAPAN, AN OIL PRODUCING CENTRE–SAMARINDA–TANDJONG SELOR–THE SULTAN-UP THE KAYAN RIVER
Fifty miles from land the sea assumes a different aspect through the fresh water of the great Barito flowing on the surface. Its red hue is produced by particles of soil brought from the inland of Borneo. In the beginning of December I arrived at Bandjermasin, the principal town in Dutch Borneo, inhabited for the most part by Malays and Chinese. It is the seat of the Resident of the vast South and Eastern Division and has a garrison. The sea loudly announces its presence here, the tide overflowing much of the low ground, hence the Malay name, _bandjir_ = overflow, _masin_ = salt water. Large clumps of a peculiar water-plant float on the river in Bandjermasin in great numbers, passing downward with the current, upward with the tide, producing a singular, but pleasing sight. It is originally a native of America and has attractive light-blue flowers, but multiplies to such an extent that the growth finally may interfere with traffic. In India I saw a lagoon completely choked with it.
There is one hotel where the table is fair and the beds are clean, but blankets are considered unnecessary, and only sheets are provided. The climate was not as hot as I expected, nights and mornings being surprisingly cool. Early in July of the following year the morning temperature was about 73 F. (23 C). Malaria is rare here, but there are frequent indications of beri-beri.
Friends invited me to go on an excursion to a small island, Kambang, where there are a number of monkeys to whom Malays who desire children sacrifice food. On our arrival the animals came to meet us in a way that was almost uncanny, running like big rats in the tall grass on the muddy beach. Many remnants of sacrificial offerings were strewn about.
Two years later I was again in Bandjermasin, when an elderly American and his wife appeared upon the scene-tourists, by the way, being very unusual here. At the breakfast table they asked a young Dutchman the whereabouts of the church and museum, and he replied that he did not think there was either in the town. As a matter of fact there is a small wooden Dutch church hidden away in a back street. Moreover, in 1914 the Resident, who at that time was Mr. L.F.J. Rijckmans, had a house built, in Malay style of architecture, for the safekeeping of Bornean industrial and ethnological objects which had been on view at the exhibition at Samarang in Java, thus forming the nucleus of a museum which at some future time may be successfully developed. The Kahayan Dayaks, not far away to the north, make exquisite cigar-cases from rattan, while the Bugis weave attractive cotton goods, resembling silk, with an original and pleasing colour combination.
The Europeans have a lawn-tennis court where they usually play every afternoon. In Bandjermasin is the headquarters of a German missionary society whose activities are confined mainly to the Kahayan River. They are Protestants and worked for a great number of years without making any noteworthy impression on the natives, but of late years they have been more successful. Catholics, who came later, have a station on the Mahakam River. The government wisely has separated Protestant and Catholic missionary activities, restricting the former to the southern part of the country, the latter to the northern.
There is no difficulty about getting up along the east coast northward as far as the Bulungan, which was my immediate aim. The Royal Dutch Packet Boat Company adheres to a schedule of regular fortnightly steamship connection. On the way a stop is made at Balik Papan, the great oil-producing centre, with its numerous and well-appointed tanks and modern equipment, reminding one of a thriving town in America. One of the doctors in this prosperous place told me that his two children of four and six years enjoyed excellent health. Dysentery was prevalent among the coolies, and occasionally cases of malaria occurred, but malaria is found even in Holland, he added.
As we sailed up the Kutei River in the early morning, approaching Samarinda, an attractive scene presented itself. Absolute calm and peace reigned, a slight morning mist rising here and there before us and giving a touch of charm to the vista of modest white houses that stretched along the beach in their tropical surroundings. Samarinda lies almost on the equator, but nights and mornings are always cool, even to a greater degree than in Bandjermasin. Northeast Borneo and North Celebes have a comparatively cool climate, but from Samarinda southward it is warmer. I called on the assistant Resident, in whose office a beautiful blue water-rail, with a red head, walked unconcernedly about. He advised me that this was the worst time for travelling, when the northwest monsoons, which are accompanied by much rain, are blowing.
The peace and contentment among the natives here, mostly Malays, impresses one favourably. They are all very fond of their children and take good care of them. The crying of children is a sound that is rarely heard. It was my fortune to travel over two years in the Dutch Indies; it is gratifying to state that during that time I never saw a native drunk, cit her in Java or Borneo. My visits did not extend to the Muruts in the north of Borneo, who are known to indulge excessively in native rice brandy. Nor was I present at any harvest feast, but according to reliable report, “strong drink is seldom or never abused” by the tribes of Borneo. The Muruts and the Ibans are the exceptions.
Two days later, among mighty forests of nipa-palms, we sailed up the Kayan or Bulungan River and arrived at Tandjong Selor, a small town populated by Malays and Chinese, the number of Europeans being usually limited to two, the controleur and the custom-house manager. It lies in a flat swampy country and on the opposite side of the river, which here is 600 metres wide, lives the Sultan of Bulungan. I secured a large room in a house which had just been rented by two Japanese who were representatives of a lumber company, and had come to arrange for the export of hardwood from this part of Borneo.
Accompanied by the controleur, Mr. R. Schreuder, I went to call on the Sultan. He was a man of about thirty-five years, rather prepossessing in appearance, and proud of his ancestry, although time has so effaced his Dayak characteristics that he looks like a Malay. Dato Mansur, his executive, met us at the landing and escorted us into the presence of the Sultan and his wife, where we were offered soda-water and whiskey, and we remained an hour. They are both likeable, but the Sultan appears rather nervous and frail, and it is rumoured that his health has suffered as a result of overindulgence in spiritualistic seances. He gave an entertaining account of natives living in the trees on the Malinau River. As it had been impossible for me to obtain cartridges for my Winchester rifle, the Sultan was kind enough to lend me one of his before we parted, as well as two hundred cartridges. He also obligingly sent Dato Mansur up the river to Kaburau, the principal Kayan kampong (village) to secure men and boats for an intended expedition inland from there.
The main business of Tandjong Selor, as everywhere in Borneo, is buying rattan, rubber, and damar (a kind of resin) from the Malays and the Dayaks, and shipping it by steamer to Singapore. As usual, trade is almost entirely in the hands of the Chinese. The great event of the place is the arrival of the steamer twice a month. When the whistle is heard from down the river a great yell arises from all over the town. The steamer is coming! People by the hundreds run down to the wharf amid great excitement and joy. Many Malays do not work except on these occasions, when they are engaged in loading and unloading. The principal Chinese merchant there, Hong Seng, began his career as a coolie on the wharf. He has a fairly well-stocked store with some European and American preserved articles, and was reliable in his dealings, as the Chinese always are. He was rich enough to have of late taken to himself a young wife, besides keeping his first one. His two young sons who assisted him had been at school in Singapore, and were proud to air their knowledge of English.
The house where I lived was on the main street, on the river bank, and in the evening the little shops on either side started playing nasty, cheap European phonographs the noise of which was most disagreeable. Most of the records were of Chinese music, the harsh quality of which was magnified tenfold by the imperfections of the instruments. When the nerve-wracking concert became intolerable, they were always good enough to stop it at my request.
However, there was one feature about this remote place which was repugnant–the prevalent flogging of children with rattan, mostly among the Mohammedan Malays. Not a day passed without wails and violent cries arising in some part of the town, especially during the forenoon, although I did not perceive that the children here were more incorrigible than elsewhere. The Dayaks never beat their children, and later I did not observe similar cruelty among Malays. Wise though King Solomon was, his precept not to spare the rod should be regarded in the light of his large family, “700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines.” Even in the training of animals, better results are obtained by omitting the lash.
In the beginning of January, 1914, I was able to start for Kaburau. The controleur courteously provided for my use the government’s steamship _Sophia_, which in six hours approached within easy distance of the kampong. My party consisted of Ah Sewey, a young Chinese photographer from Singapore whom I had engaged for developing plates and films, also Chonggat, a Sarawak Dayak who had had his training at the museum of Kuala Lampur in the Malay Peninsula. Finally, Go Hong Cheng, a Chinese trader, acted as interpreter and mandur (overseer). He spoke several Dayak dialects, but not Dutch, still less English, for Malay is the lingua franca of the Dutch Indies as well as of the Malay Peninsula. As we anchored for the night I heard for the first time, from the hills that rose near by, the loud defiant cry of the argus pheasant. How wildly weird it sounds on a quiet evening!
The next morning the Kayans met us with boats to take us up to their kampong, Kaburau. Some women were pounding paddi (rice) under the large communal house which, in accordance with the custom of the country, was raised from the ground on posts. Dogs were much in evidence, both on the ground below and on the gallery of the house above. The canine species kept by the Dayaks have erect ears, are rather small and their colour is usually dull yellow. Here they were variously coloured, some entirely black, and fights among them were of frequent occurrence. Ascending the ladder I found a large tame bird of the stork family chained to the gallery, for the Dayaks often keep birds and animals in their houses.
The chief very hospitably had prepared one room for all four of us to lodge in, which did not exactly suit me, as I like to have a place where at times I may be _chez moi_, for the night at least. There was no suitable place outside for my tent, so I decided to paddle a few hundred kilometres up the river to a dilapidated camping-house for travellers, put up by the Dayaks under government order. Such a house is called pasang-grahan and may be found in many out-of-the-way places in Borneo.
Though generally crude and unpretentious huts where travelling soldiers or Malays put up, these shelters are very useful, especially for the night. There is another kind of pasang-grahan, comfortable structures provided with beds, similar to the rest-houses in India. In the more civilised parts these are built for the use of officials and other travellers. The one referred to had roof and walls of palm leaves, and as a matter of course, stood on piles. Though said to be only three years old it was already very shaky; still after clearing away the grass and some of the jungle next to it, we established quite a comfortable camp.
Chonggat brought in a number of birds and animals here, among them the lovely raja bird, snow-white except for the deep blue head, and with a very long graceful tail. It is also called paradise flycatcher (_terpsiphone_), and is found from Sumatra up into middle China. In Borneo it is quite common, being observed also on the Mahakam in the central part of the island. According to the legend, it formerly cost a man his life to kill it. This man soon showed himself to be an excellent worker who took his business very seriously and did not allow himself to be distracted when I amused visiting Kayans with simple moving pictures and by playing a music-box. The jungle, dripping with dew in the early morning, did not deter him, and at night it was his custom to shoot owls and hunt for deer or other animals. After arranging his tent with little or no help from the Dayaks, he would next put up a frame-work on which to dry his skins, under a roof of palm leaves; here a fire was always kept, without which the skins would have spoiled in that damp climate. Chonggat had a fine physique, was always pleasant and willing and was possessed of more than ordinary intelligence withal. Also keenly humourous, he enjoyed my initial mistakes in Malay, though maintaining a proper respect for the leader of the expedition.
In the evening, having retired for the day, he, as well as the Chinese photographer could be heard in their respective tents studying English from small guidebooks which they had brought along. He told me that his earnings were invested in a small rubber plantation which he and his brothers worked together. Chonggat was a good example of what a native of Borneo can accomplish under proper civilizing influences.
One morning he brought in a king cobra (_naia bungarus_) which he had shot, and as life was not yet extinct I got a good photograph of it. This serpent was about three metres long, but these very poisonous snakes, called ular tadong by the Malays, attain a length of seven metres. They are beautifully formed for quick movement, and will attack human beings, the female being particularly vicious when it has eggs. “When I see ular tadong coming toward me,” said Chonggat, who was no coward, “then I run.” There are several species of very poisonous snakes in Borneo, but according to my experience they are not very numerous. Two small ones, about thirty-five centimetres long, are the most common varieties encountered in the jungle. They are sluggish and somewhat similar in appearance, dark brown and red being the principal colours. One of them has its under side decorated with transverse sections of beautiful scarlet alternating with black.
Ah Sewey, the photographer, was also an efficient man, but at first we had immense difficulty with the developing. One cannot count on water cooler than 75 F., and at that temperature the films come out well, but in the beginning many plates were spoiled. For the photographer in the tropics the use of formalin is an absolute necessity. He must also face other difficulties, avoiding among other things the possibility of having his films, when drying, eaten by small species of grasshoppers.
AN EXPEDITION INTO THE JUNGLE–FIRST IMPRESSIONS–RAPID CHANGE IN THE DENSENESS OF VEGETATION–ANIMAL LIFE–A STUBBORN FIGHT
About the middle of January, I began an expedition into the utan, as the Malays call the great jungles of Borneo, first going up the river half a day and from there striking inland toward the north. If circumstances proved favourable, I intended to travel as far as Bengara, about twelve days’ trip for a Dayak with a light burden to carry. In case of unfavourable weather and too much delay in getting fresh provisions, I felt that I should be satisfied in penetrating well into a region not before visited by whites, where I might succeed in coming into contact with the shy nomads, called Punans, known to roam there in limited numbers. To this end I had taken along one of the Sultan’s petty officials, a so-called raja, who exercised more or less control over the Punans. This man, evidently half Malay and half Dayak, and as nude as the rest, demanded to be waited upon by the other natives, who even had to put up his hair. He was lazy; he would not be a raja if he were not. If he were on the move one day, he would sleep most of the next.
Among my twenty-two Kayans was an efficient and reliable man called Banglan, the sub-chief of Kaburau, who was alert and intelligent. He had only one hand, the result of a valorous fight with a crocodile, by which his prahu (native boat) had been attacked one day at dawn in a small tributary of the river. The animal actually upset the prahu and killed his two companions, in trying to save whom with no weapon but his bare hands, he lost one in the struggle. In their contact with the crocodiles the Dayaks show a fortitude almost beyond belief. A Dutch doctor once treated a man who had been dragged under water, but had the presence of mind to press a thumb into each eye of the reptile. He was badly mangled, but recovered.
As long as we remained at a low altitude camping out was not an unalloyed pleasure, because the tormenting gnats were exasperating, and at night the humidity was great, making the bed and everything else damp. The atmosphere was heavy and filled with the odor of decaying vegetable matter never before disturbed. In the morning at five o’clock, my hour for rising, there was considerable chill in the air. It was difficult to see a star here and there through the tall trees and dense undergrowth that surrounded us as closely as the walls of a cave.
The stagnant atmosphere and dark environment, which the sun’s rays vainly attempted to penetrate, began to have a depressing effect on my spirits. After a couple of nights spent thus, a longing for sunshine came over me and I decided to stay one day, make a clearing, dry our belongings, and put up a shelter in which to leave some of our baggage; all of which could not be carried up the hills.
I told the raja and Banglan that I wanted the sun to shine into the camp, and the men immediately set to work with cheerful alacrity. The Dayaks have no rivals in their ability to make a tree fall in the desired direction. First, by carefully sighting the trunk, they ascertain the most feasible way for the tree to fall, then they chop at the base with native axes, sometimes four men working, two and two in unison. In a remarkably brief time it begins to weaken, the top making slight forward movements which are followed by a final sharp report announcing the end of their labour.
Quickly noting that they were masters in their craft, I permitted them to fell forest giants in close proximity to our tents, some of which landed but half a metre distant. Immense specimens in their fall brought down thickets of creepers and smaller growths which produced big openings, so we succeeded in making quite a sunny camp in the dark jungle.
Since that experience I have made it an invariable rule in my travels to cut a small clearing before putting up my tent in the jungle. Sometimes the felling of one or two trees will ameliorate the situation immeasurably, admitting fresh air and sunlight, and there is little difficulty about it when one is accompanied by such able and willing men as the Dayaks. For their own use when travelling they make simple shelters as night approaches, because they dislike to get wet. The material is always close at hand. Slender straight poles are quickly cut and brought in to make frame-work for a shed, the floor of which is about half a metre above ground. The roof is made of big leaves, and in less than an hour they are comfortably at home in one or more sheds, grouped around fires on the flimsy floor.
It is a curious fact that one can always manage to make a fire in these damp woods; a petroleum burner is not essential. The natives always know where to go to find something dry that will burn; as for the white man’s cook, he usually improves upon the situation by soaking the wood in petroleum, which is one of the valuable articles of equipment. Often in the jungle, when slightly preparing the ground for erecting the tent, phosphorescent lights from decayed vegetable matter shone in innumerable spots, as if a powerful lamp were throwing its light through a grating.
In ascending the hills it was surprising how soon the aspect of the vegetation changed. The camp we were just leaving was only about a metre above the Kayan River, so we probably were not more than twenty-odd metres above sea-level. Twenty metres more, and the jungle vegetation was thinner even at that short distance. Trees, some of them magnificent specimens of hard wood, began to assert themselves. Above 100 metres elevation it was not at all difficult to make one’s way through the jungle, even if we had not had a slight Punan path to follow. It is easier than to ascend the coast range of northeast Queensland under 18 S.L., where the lawyer palms are very troublesome. Making a light clearing one evening we opened the view to a couple of tall trees called in Malay, palapak, raising their crowns high above the rest; this is one of the trees from which the natives make their boats. The trunk is very tall and much thicker near the ground.
Reaching a height of 500 metres, the ground began to be slippery with yellow mud, but the jungle impeded one less than the thickets around Lenox, Massachusetts, in the United States. Toward the south of our camp here, the hill had an incline of 45 degrees or less, and one hardwood tree that we felled travelled downward for a distance of 150 metres. A pleasant soft breeze blew for about ten minutes, for the first time on our journey, and the afternoon was wonderfully cool.
A Kayan messenger here arrived from the kampong, bringing a package which contained my mail, obligingly sent me by the controleur. The package made a profound impression on the Dayaks as well as on the Chinese interpreter, all of whom crowded around my tent to observe what would follow. I went elsewhere for a little while, but it was of no avail. They were waiting to see the contents, so I took my chair outside, opened and read my mail, closely watched all the time by a wondering crowd.
None of our attendant natives had been in this part of the country before except a Punan, now adopted into the Kayan tribe, who knew it long ago and his memory at times seemed dimmed. Fresh tracks of rhinoceros and bear were seen and tapirs are known to exist among these beautiful wooded hills. Chonggat succeeded in shooting an exceedingly rare squirrel with a large bushy tail. We finally made camp on top of a hill 674 metres in height which we called kampong Gunong.
The Dayaks helped me to construct a small shed with a fireplace inside where I could dry my wet clothing, towels, etc. Of their own initiative they also put up around the tent some peculiar Dayak ornamentations in the shape of long spirals of wood shavings hung on to the end of poles or trees which they planted in the ground. The same kind of decorations are used at the great festivals, and when a gentle wind set them in motion they had quite a cheerful, almost festive appearance.
Every morning, almost punctually at five o’clock, the gibbons or long-armed, man-like apes, began their loud chatter in the tree-tops, more suggestive of the calls of birds than of animals. They are shy, but become very tame in confinement and show much affection. A wah-wah, as the animal is called in this part of the world, will throw his arms around the neck of his master, and is even more human in his behaviour than the orang-utan, from which he differs in temperament, being more vivacious and inclined to mischief. In a kampong I once saw a young gibbon repeatedly descend into a narrow inclosure to tease a large pig confined there. The latter, although three or four times as large, seemed entirely at his mercy and was submissive and frightened, even when his ears were pulled by the wah-wah. During my travels in the jungle of Borneo, few were the days in which I was not summoned to rise by the call of the wah-wah, well-nigh as reliable as an alarm clock.
My stay here was protracted much longer than I expected on account of rain and fog, which rendered photographing difficult; one or the other prevailed almost continuously. Frequently sunlight seemed approaching, but before I could procure and arrange my camera it had vanished, and light splashes of rain sounded on my tent. This was trying, but one cannot expect every advantage in the tropics, which are so beautiful most of the year that I, for one, gladly put up with the discomforts of a wet season.
Rain-storms came from the north and northeast; from our high point of view, one could see them approaching and hear the noise of the rain on the top of the jungle many minutes before they arrived. A few times, especially at night, we had storms that lasted for hours, reaching sometimes a velocity of eighty kilometres an hour. The trees of the jungle are naturally not exposed to the force of the wind, standing all together, so those surrounding our clearing seemed helpless, deprived of their usual support. Some smaller ones, apparently of soft wood, which had been left on the clearing, were broken, and the green leaves went flying about. On one occasion at dusk Banglan stood a long time watching for any suspicious-looking tree that might threaten to fall over the camp. Torrents of rain fell during the night and we could barely keep dry within our tents. The rain was more persistent here in the vicinity of the lower Kayan than in any other part of Borneo during my two years of travel through that country.
White-tailed, wattled pheasants (_lobiophasis_), rare in the museums, were very numerous here. This beautiful bird has a snow-white tail and its head is adorned with four cobalt-blue appendages, two above and two underneath the head. The Dayaks caught this and other birds alive in snares, which they are expert in constructing. I kept one alive for many days, and it soon became tame. It was a handsome, brave bird, and I was sorry one day to find it dead from want of proper nourishment, the Dayaks having been unable to find sufficient rain-worms for it.
The beautiful small deer, kidyang, was secured several times. Its meat is the best of all game in Borneo, although the Kayans look upon it with disfavour. When making new fields for rice-planting, if such an animal should appear, the ground is immediately abandoned.
Scarcely fifty metres below the top of the hill was our water supply, consisting of a scanty amount of running water, which stopped now and then to form tiny pools, and to my astonishment the Dayaks one day brought from these some very small fish which I preserved in alcohol. Naturally the water swells much in time of rain, but still it seems odd that such small fish could reach so high a point.
Many insects were about at night. Longicornes scratched underneath my bed, and moths hovered about my American hurricane lamp hanging outside the tent-door. Leeches also entered the tent and seemed to have a predilection for the tin cans in which my provisions and other things were stored. In the dim lamplight I could sometimes see the uncanny shadows of their bodies on the canvas, raised and stretched to an incredible height, moving their upper parts quickly to all sides before proceeding on their “forward march.” To some people, myself included, their bite is poisonous, and on the lower part of the legs produces wounds that may take weeks to cure.
One day native honey was brought in, which had been found in a hollow tree. It was sweet, but thin, and had no pronounced flavour. A few minutes after the honey had been left on a plate in my tent there arrived a number of large yellow hornets, quite harmless apparently, but persevering in their eagerness to feast upon the honey. During the foggy afternoon they gathered in increased numbers and were driven off with difficulty. The temporary removal of the plate failed to diminish their persistence until finally, at dusk, they disappeared, only to return again in the morning, bringing others much larger in size and more vicious in aspect, and the remaining sweet was consumed with incredible rapidity; in less than two hours a considerable quantity of the honey in the comb as well as liquid was finished by no great number of hornets.
Later several species of ants found their way into my provision boxes. A large one, dark-gray, almost black, in colour, more than a centimetre long, was very fond of sweet things. According to the Malays, if irritated it is able to sting painfully, but in spite of its formidable appearance it is timid and easily turned away, so for a long time I put up with its activities, though gradually these ants got to be a nuisance by walking into my cup, which they sometimes filled, or into my drinking-water. Another species, much smaller, which also was fond of sugar, pretended to be dead when discovered. One day at ten o’clock in the morning, I observed two of the big ants, which I had come to look upon as peaceful, in violent combat outside my tent. A large number of very tiny ones were busily attaching themselves to legs and antennae of both fighters, who did not, however, greatly mind the small fellows, which were repeatedly shaken off as the pair moved along in deadly grip.
One of the combatants clasped his nippers firmly around one leg of the other, which for several hours struggled in vain to get free. A small ant was hanging on to one of the victor’s antennae, but disappeared after a couple of hours. Under a magnifying-glass I could see that each fighter had lost a leg. I placed the end of a stick against the legs of the one that was kept in this merciless vice, and he immediately attached himself to it. As I lifted the stick up he held on by one leg, supporting in this way both his own weight and that of his antagonist. Finally, they ceased to move about, but did not separate in spite of two heavy showers in the afternoon, and at four o’clock they were still maintaining their relative positions; but next morning they and the other ants had disappeared.
MEETING PUNANS, THE SHY JUNGLE PEOPLE–DOWN THE RIVER AGAIN–MY ENTHUSIASTIC BOATMEN-MALAYS VERSUS DAYAKS
At my request the raja, with a few companions, went out in search of some of the shy jungle people called Punans. Seven days afterward he actually returned with twelve men, who were followed by seven more the next day. All the women had been left one day’s journey from here. These Punans had been encountered at some distance from kampong Bruen, higher up the river, and, according to reports, made up the entire nomadic population of the lower Kayan River. Most of them were rather tall, well-made men, but, as a result of spending all their lives in the darkness of the jungle, [*] their skin colour, a pale yellowish brown, was strikingly lighter, especially the face, than that of the Kayans.
[Footnote *: In von Luschan’s table, Punan 15, Kayan 22.]
They actually seemed to hate the sun, and next day when it broke through the mist for a little while they all sought shelter in the shade of trees. As a result of their avoidance of direct rays from the sun they have a washed-out, almost sickly pale appearance, contrasting strangely with the warm tone of light brown which at times may be observed among the Dayaks. This is probably the reason why they are not very strong, though apparently muscular, and are not able to carry heavy burdens. They began at once to put up a shed similar to those of the Dayaks, but usually their shelters for the night are of the rudest fashion, and as they have only the scantiest of clothing they then cover themselves with mats made from the leaves of the fan-palm.
On the Upper Mahakam I later made acquaintance with some of the Punans who roam the mountainous regions surrounding the headwaters of that river. Those are known under the name Punan Kohi, from a river of that name in the mountains toward Sarawak. The members of the same tribe further east in the mountains of the Bulungan district are called Punan Lun, from the River Lun, to whom the present individuals probably belonged. According to the raja, there are two kinds of Punans here, and his statement seems to be borne out by the variations in their physical appearance.
These nineteen nomads had black hair, straight in some cases, wavy in others. Most of them had a semblance of mustache and some hair on the chin. Their bodies looked perfectly smooth, as they remove what little hair there may be. Some of them had high-arched noses. The thigh was large, but the calf of the leg usually was not well-developed, though a few had very fine ones; and they walked with feet turned outward, as all the Dayaks and Malays I have met invariably do. The only garment worn was a girdle of plaited rattan strings, to which at front and back was attached a piece of fibre cloth. Although dirty in appearance, only one man was afflicted with scaly skin disease. Visits to the hill-tops are avoided by them on account of the cold, which they felt much in our camp. Their dark-brown eyes had a kindly expression; in fact they are harmless and timid-looking beings, though in some parts of Borneo they engage in head-hunting, a practice probably learned from the Dayaks. Those I talked with said the custom was entirely discontinued, although formerly heads of other Punans, Malays, or Dayaks had been taken.
These natives, following no doubt an observance prevalent among the Dayaks, had some of their teeth filed off in the upper jaw, the four incisors, two cuspids, and two bicuspids. Our Kayans from Kaburau had no less than ten teeth filed off, the four incisors and three more on either side. The operation is performed when a boy or girl becomes full-grown. For the boys it is not a painful experience, but the girls have theirs filed much shorter, which causes pain and loss of blood.
The Punans make fire by iron and flint which are carried in a small bamboo box. They are expert regarding the manufacture of the sumpitan (blow-pipe), and are renowned for their skill in using this weapon and can make the poisonous darts as well as the bamboo caskets in which these are carried. Subsisting chiefly upon meat, their favourite food is wild pig.
At the birth of a child all the men leave the premises, including the husband. The dead are buried in the ground a metre deep, head toward the rising sun. The Punans climb trees in the same manner as the Kayans and other Dayaks I have seen, _i.e._, by tying their feet together and moving up one side of the tree in jumps. The Kayans in climbing do not always tie the feet.
These shy nomads remained in camp two days and allowed themselves to be photographed. One morning seven of them went out to look for game, armed with their long sumpitans and carrying on the right side, attached to the girdle, the bamboo casket that contained the darts. They formed a thrilling sight in the misty morning as in single file they swung with long, elastic steps up the hill. Though the Punans are famous as hunters and trappers, they returned in a few hours without any result. Next morning when I ventured to begin taking their measurements they became uneasy and one after another slipped away, even leaving behind part of their promised rewards, rice and clothing for the women, and taking with them only tobacco and a large tin of salt, which I rather regretted, as they had well earned it all.
We made a trip of a few days’ duration to the next elevation, Gunong Rega, in a northerly direction, most of the time following a long, winding ridge on a well-defined Punan trail. The hill-top is nearly 800 metres above sea-level (2,622 feet), by boiling thermometer, and the many tree-ferns and small palm-trees add greatly to its charm and beauty.
Toward the end of February I made my way back to the river. From our last camp, one day’s march downward, three of my strongest Kayans had carried 45 kilograms each. My Javanese cook, Wong Su, on arriving in camp, felt ill and I found him lying prostrate. He had not been perspiring on the march down the hills and complained of chilly sensations. He also presented the symptoms of a cold attack of malaria, but it was simply the effects produced by the bites of leeches, to which he was particularly susceptible. He had seven bites on one ankle and two on the other, and the resulting wounds were swollen and suppurating, but by the application of iodine followed by hot compress bandages, he was able to resume his work in three days. Nevertheless, suppuration formed even at a distance from the wounds, and five months later they were not entirely healed. It is bad policy to remove leeches forcibly in spite of the temptation to do so. The application of salt or tobacco juice makes them drop off, and the wounds are less severe, but few persons have the patience to wait after discovering a leech. The animal is not easily killed. The Dayaks always remove it with the sword edge and immediately cut it in two.
On our return to our old lodging-house near Kaburau I spent a week making ethnological collections from the Kayan, who brought me a surprising number, keeping me busy from early until late. Before continuing my journey up the river I decided to go down to Tandjong Selor in order to buy necessary provisions and safely dispose of my collections. The Kayans were glad to provide prahus, the keelless boats which are used by both Dayak and Malay. The prahu, even the largest size, is formed from a dugout, and to the edge on either side are lashed two boards, one above and overlapping the other. This is accomplished by threading rattan through numerous small holes. As these are not completely filled by the rattan, they are plugged with fibre and calked with damar to prevent leakage.
In order to travel more comfortably we lashed a prahu at either side of mine, while many of the natives who took advantage of the occasion to visit the shops in town, tied theirs at the rear of ours. It was a gay flotilla that proceeded down the river, the Dayaks singing most of the time, especially the women who accompanied their husbands, a number of them sitting in my large but crowded prahu. The women never seemed to grow tired of the Mae Lu Long, a jolly song which I had several times heard them singing when returning from the fields in the evening. Its words are of a language called Bungkok. The Kenyahs have the same song, and when I sang it to the Penihings on the Upper Mahakam they also understood it. These Kayans (Segai) are able to sing in the following six dialects or languages: Bungkok, Tekena, Siudalong, Siupanvei, Lepoi, and Lui Lui.
KAYAN WOMEN’S SONG
(On returning from the fields)
Mae lun long son dong min ma–i min kam lam (_Repeat_)]
At times as they paddled along, the men would sing without words, but more impressively, a song which until recently was used when the Kayan returned to a kampong from a successful head-hunting expedition. Though the Dutch authorities evidently have stamped out headhunting on the Kayan River, and have even destroyed the heads that were hanging in the houses, smashing them throwing them into the river, the Kayan still speaks of the custom in the present tense. Even one or two of my companions were credited with having taken part in such expeditions.
To-day the young men sing the song of the returning head-hunters more for the fun of it, but the enthusiasm of all waxed high when the paddlers took it up. Those who did not paddle would reach out for the large trumpets which, as part of my collections, were lying in my prahu, and blow them with full force as an accompaniment, just as these instruments formerly were used on real occasions. A deep, strong bass sound is produced which resembles the distant whistle of a big ocean steamer. The men at the rear would join in with wild shouts like those made by American cowboys, most of them rising in their prahus to be able to give more impetus to the paddles. The powerful strokes of our enthusiastic crew made my prahu jump with jerky movements, and we progressed rapidly, arriving early in the afternoon at Tandjong Selor. This time I was made comfortable in a government’s pasang-grahan that had just been completed, and which was far enough from the main street to avoid disturbing noise.
KAYAN HEAD-HUNTERS’ SONG
(On returning from a successful raid) Vae vae-ae vo vae vo ae vo ae-ae-ae-ae vo vae (_Repeat_)]
I had found the Kayans very agreeable to deal with, and later had the same experience with many other tribes of Borneo. They ask high prices for their goods, but are not bold in manner. Though I made no special effort to ingratiate myself with them they always crowded round me, and sometimes I was compelled to deny myself to all callers regardless of their wishes. When I was reading or writing it was necessary to tell them to be quiet, also to stop their singing at night when my sleep was too much disturbed, but they were never offended. Presents of fruit, fish, mouse-traps, and other articles which they thought I might like, were constantly offered me. The women, free and easy in their manners, were ladylike to a surprising degree. In spite of having had ten teeth of the upper jaw filed down and the remainder coloured black by the constant chewing of betel, they are literally to the manner born.
The controleur told me that his large district, the northernmost part of Dutch Borneo, called Bulungan, comprised “about 1,100 square miles.” He estimated the number of inhabitants to be about 60,000, roughly speaking, 50 to each mile, but the population here as elsewhere follows the rivers. The Dayaks are greatly in majority, the Malays inhabiting the Sultan’s kampong and a couple of small settlements in the vicinity. He had travelled a good deal himself and taken census where it was possible. His statistics showed that among the Dayaks the men outnumber the women somewhat, and that children are few. In one small kampong there were no children. The same fact has been noted in other parts of Borneo. The hard labour of the women has been advanced as a reason. Doctor A.W. Nieuwenhuis believes that inborn syphilis is the cause of the infertility of the Bahu on the Upper Mahakam. Whatever the reason, as a matter of fact the Dayak women are not fertile. The chief of the Kayan kampong, Kaburau, at the time of my visit had a fourth wife on probation for two years, having previously dismissed three because they bore him no children.
With the Malays the condition is just the reverse. Their total number in the Bulungan district is perhaps only one-tenth that of Dayaks, but with them women preponderate and there are many children. Such is the case in the rest of Dutch Borneo, and is one reason why the Malays ultimately must dominate.
The Sultan had for weeks been preparing to celebrate the marriage of his younger brother, which event occurred before I left, and the festivities were to continue for ten days. As a feature of the occasion, two young Malay girls presented a dance which they evidently had not practised sufficiently. Among the company was an old Malay who, according to the testimony of all present, was one hundred and thirty years old. He had lived to see seven sultans and was the ancestor of five generations. His movements were somewhat stiff, but otherwise he was a young-looking old man who, still erect, carried a long stick which he put down with some force at each step. I photographed the Sultan, who donned his official European suit, in which he evidently felt exceedingly uncomfortable. The operation finished, he lifted up the skirts of the long black robe as if to cool himself, and walked hurriedly away toward the house.
RESUMPTION OF MY JOURNEY UP THE KAYAN RIVER–LONG PANGIAN–BERI-BERI– HINTS ON PROPER PROVISIONS–KENYAHS FROM CENTRAL BORNEO–EFFECT OF A SPIDER’S BITE
Shortly after my arrival in Tandjong Selor, fifty Dayaks, mostly Kenyahs, Oma Bakkah, and some Kayans, arrived from distant Apo Kayan on a trading expedition, and I considered this rather fortunate, as it would largely solve the difficult question of prahus and men for my journey up the river. The controleur and the Sultan also co-operated in assisting me to make a start, but when at last all seemed in readiness, the Malays allowed one of our prahus to drift away down toward the sea; after other similar delays I finally began my expedition up the Kayan River.
At the old pasang-grahan near Kaburau, I found that during our two weeks’ absence surprising changes had taken place in the vegetation of the immediate surroundings. The narrow path leading from the river up the embankment was now closed by large plants in flower, one species looking like a kind of iris. The grass which we had left completely cut down had grown over twenty centimeters. (Three weeks later it was in bloom.) It was the month of March and several big trees in the surrounding jungle were covered with masses of white blossoms.
It is about 112 kilometres from Tandiong Selor to Long Pangian, our first halting-place, and, as the current of the river is not strong until the last day, the distance may be covered in four days. When low the Kayan River is light greenish-brown, but when high the colour changes to a muddy red-brown with a tinge of yellow. We used the dilapidated pasang-grahans as shelters, but one night we were obliged to camp on the river bank, so I had the tall, coarse grass cut down on the embankment, which was a few metres higher than the beach. Underneath the tall growth was another kind of grass, growing low and tangled like a mat, which could be disposed of by placing poles under it, lifting it and rolling it back, while at the same time the few roots attaching it to the ground were cut with swords. In less than fifteen minutes I had a safe place for my tent.
The Dayaks, however, who have little to concern them except their prahus, in which is left whatever baggage they may have, as usual slept in the prahus or on the stony beach. During the night the river rose a metre, and some of the men awoke in water. The Chinese mandur, notwithstanding my warnings, had tied his prahu carelessly, and in the middle of the night it drifted off, with lighted lamp and two Dayaks sleeping in it. Luckily some of the others soon discovered the accident and a rescuing party brought it back early in the morning. The “kitchen” had been moved up to my place, and in spite of rain and swollen river we all managed to get breakfast. I had a call from the chief of the near-by kampong, who spoke excellent Malay, and had visited New Guinea twice on Dutch expeditions, once with Doctor Lorenz. One characteristic of the climate which had impressed him much was the snow, which had been very cold for the feet. He was kind enough to send me a present of a young fowl, which was very acceptable.
Long Pangian is a small settlement where ten native soldiers are kept, under the command of a so-called posthouder, in this case a civilized