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  • 1920
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custom. I did not notice that they brought dried fish, which is the usual complement to a meal. In this section of the country there is much admixture of blood between Dayaks and Malays, which accounts for the fact that the latter are more genial and agreeable than their lower classes usually are. At Pinang the small population turned out in full force, standing picturesquely near the mosque on an open space between the cocoanut-trees that grew on the high river-bank. It was evident that visitors are not often seen there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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