But, although the Kayans have a strong sense of the ridiculous, their laughter is not so violent and uncontrollable as that of Europeans is apt to be, and it is not so apt to recur from time to time at the mere recollection of an amusing incident.
We refer to some of the stories reproduced in Chapter XVII. as examples of the less crude forms of humour appreciated by the people. These stories are repeated again and again, without failing to amuse those who are perfectly familiar with them. AEsop's fables transposed into a Bornean key were, we found, much appreciated. In a large proportion of the entertaining stories of the Kayans, as well as of the other tribes, the point of the story depends on some reference to sexual relations or actions But such references are not, as a rule, coarsely put, but rather hinted at merely, often in a somewhat obscure way; E.G. such a story may terminate before the critical point is reached with some such phrase as "Well, well, what of it?" and a shrug of the shoulders.
The tendency of the Kayans to laconic speech is well illustrated by their way of referring to well-known stories or fables with one or two words, in order to sum up or characterise a situation — much as we say "sour grapes!"
Like all other varieties of mankind (some few savage tribes perhaps excepted), the Kayans and other tribes are apt to distort the truth in their own favour, in describing from memory incidents that seriously affect their interests. When a party has allowed itself to commit some reprehensible action, such as over-hasty and excessive reprisals, a whole village, or even several villages, may conspire together more or less deliberately to "rig up "some plausible version of the affair which may serve to excuse or justify the act in the eyes of the government. A good PENGHULU will set about the investigation of such an affair with much tact and patience. He will send for those immediately concerned and patiently hear out their version of the incident. If it departs widely from the truth, he will find reason to suspect the fact. But, instead of charging the men with untruthfulness, or attempting to extort the truth by threats, or bullying, or torture (as is so often done in more highly civilised courts), he keeps silence, shrugs his shoulders, and tells them to go away and think it over, and to come back another day with a better story. In the meantime he hears the version of some other group, who view the affair from a different angle, and thus puts himself in a position to suggest modifications of the new version of the former group. When he has in this way gathered in a variety of accounts of the incident, he find himself in a position to construct, by a process of moral triangulation, an approximately correct picture; this he now lays before the party immediately concerned, who, seeing that the game is up, fill in the details and supply minor corrections. Throughout this process the tactful PENGHULU never shuts the door upon his informants or tries to pin them down to their words, or make them take them back; rather he keeps the whole story fluid and shifting, so that, when the true account has been constructed, the witnesses are not made to feel that they have lost their self-respect.
It seems worth while to describe here one of a large class of incidents which illustrate at the same time the workings of the native mind and the way in which an understanding of such workings may be applied by the administrator. The Resident of the Baram having heard of the presence in the central no-man's land of a considerable population of Kenyahs under a strong chief, TAMA KULING, sent friendly messages to the latter. He responded by sending a lump of white clay, which meant that he and his people recognised that they were of the same country as the people of the Baram and that their feelings were friendly; and with it came an elaborately decorated brass hook (Pl. 184), which was to serve as a complimentary and symbolical acknowledgment of the white man's power of binding the tribes together in friendship. He sent also a verbal message acknowledging his kinship with the Kenyahs of the Baram; but he added that he and his people were in the dark and needed a torch (I.E. they wanted more explicit information about the conditions obtaining in the Baram). In reply to these representations, the Resident despatched trusty messengers to TAMA KULING bearing the following articles: a large hurricane lamp for TAMA KULING, and smaller ones for the other principal chiefs of the district: smaller lamps again were sent for the heads of houses, and with them a large stock of boxes of lucifer matches, which were to be dealt out to the heads of the rooms of each house. In this way the desired torch was provided for every member of their communities. With these symbols went a large horn of the African rhinoceros, out of which TAMA KULING might fashion a hilt for his sword.
We were afterwards informed that, on the arrival of these symbolic gifts, TAMA KULING called together the chiefs of all the surrounding villages to receive their share, and to discuss the advisability of accepting the implied invitation to migrate into the Baram. The proposition was favourably received, and a large proportion of the population of that region have since acted upon the resolution then taken.
To the disjointed collection of remarks which make up this chapter we venture to add the following observations. It has often been attempted to exhibit the mental life of savage peoples as profoundly different from our own; to assert that they act from motives, and reach conclusions by means of mental processes, so utterly different from our own motives and processes that we cannot hope to interpret or understand their behaviour unless we can first, by some impossible or at least by some hitherto undiscovered method, learn the nature of these mysterious motives and processes. These attempts have recently been renewed in influential quarters. If these views were applied to the savage peoples of the interior of Borneo, we should characterise them as fanciful delusions natural to the anthropologist who has spent all the days of his life in a stiff collar and a black coat upon the well-paved ways of civilised society.
We have no hesitation in saying that, the more intimately one becomes acquainted with these pagan tribes, the more fully one realises the close similarity of their mental processes to one's own. Their primary impulses and emotions seem to be in all respects like our own. It is true that they are very unlike the typical civilised man of some of the older philosophers, whose every action proceeded from a nice and logical calculation of the algebraic sum of pleasures and pains to be derived from alternative lines of conduct; but we ourselves are equally unlike that purely mythical personage. The Kayan or the Iban often acts impulsively in ways which by no means conduce to further his best interests or deeper purposes; but so do we also. He often reaches conclusions by processes that cannot be logically justified; but so do we also. He often holds, and upon successive occasions acts upon, beliefs that are logically inconsistent with one another; but so do we also.
Ethnology of Borneo
In the foregoing chapters it has been shown that the six groups which we have distinguished by the names Kayans, Kenyahs, Klemantans, Muruts, Nomads or Punans, and Ibans or Sea Dayaks, differ considerably from one another in respect of material and moral culture as well as of mental and physical characters. We have used these names as though the groups denoted by them were well defined and easily to be distinguished from one another. But this is by no means the case. Our foregoing descriptions are intended to depict the typical communities of each group, those which present the largest number of group-marks. Besides these more typical communities, which constitute the main bulk of the population, there are many communities or sub-tribes which combine in some measure the characteristics of two or more of the principal groups. It is this fact that renders so extremely difficult the attempt to classify the tribes and sub-tribes in any consistent and significant fashion, and to which is largely due the confusion that reigns in most of the accounts hitherto given of the inhabitants of Borneo. We believe, however, that the divisions marked by the six names we have used, namely, Kayan, Kenyah, Klemantan, Murut, Punan, and Iban, are true or natural divisions; and that the intermediate forms are due, on the one hand, to crossing through intermarriage, which takes place continually in some degree, and, on the other hand, to the adoption of the customs and beliefs and traditions and to the imitation of the arts and crafts of one natural group by communities properly belonging to a different group. The main groups seem to us to be separated from one another by differences of two kinds: some by racial or ethnic differences, which involve differences of physical and mental constitution, as well as by cultural differences; others by differences of culture only, the racial characters being hardly or not at all differentiated.
We propose in this chapter to attempt to justify these main distinctions, and to define more nearly their essential nature and grounds. This attempt must involve the statement of our opinion as to the ethnic affinities of all the principal tribes. We are fully aware that this statement can be only of a provisional nature, and must be liable to modification and refinement in the light of further observation and discussion. But we think that such a statement may serve a useful purpose; namely, that it may serve as a basis upon which such corrections and refinements may later be made.
The most speculative part of this statement must necessarily be that which deals with the affinities of the tribes of Borneo with the populations of other areas; but even here we think it better to set down our opinion for what it may be worth, not concealing from the reader its slight basis. We state in the following paragraph the main features of the history of the tribes of Borneo as we conceive it.
The wide distribution of remnants of the Negrito race in the islands round about Borneo and in the adjacent parts of the mainland of Asia renders it highly probable that at a remote period Negritos lived in Borneo; but at the present time there exist no Negrito community and no distinct traces of the race, whether in the form of fossil remains or of physical characters of the present population, unless the curly hair and coarse features of a few individuals to be met with in almost all the tribes may be regarded as such traces. These negroid features of a small number of the present inhabitants are perhaps sufficiently accounted for by the fact that slaves have been imported into Borneo from time to time throughout many centuries by Arabs and Malays and by the Illanum pirates; and some of these slaves were no doubt Negritos, and some, possibly, Africans or Papuans.
We leave open the question of an ancient Negrito population, and go on to the statement that the present population is derived from four principal sources. From a very early period the island has been inhabited in all parts by a people of a common origin whose surviving descendants are the tribes we have classed as Klemantans, Kenyahs, and Punans. This people probably inhabited Borneo at a time when it was still connected with the mainland. Their cultural status was probably very similar to that of the existing Punans. It seems not improbable that at this early period, perhaps one preceding the separation of Borneo, Sumatra, and Java from the mainland, this people was scattered over a large part of this area. For in several of the wilder parts, where the great forest areas remain untouched, bands of nomads closely resembling the Punans of Borneo are still to be found, notably the Orang Kubu of Sumatra, and perhaps the Bantiks of northern Celebes. The principal characteristics of this primitive culture are the absence of houses or any fixed abode; the ignorance of agriculture, of metal-working, and of boat-making; and the nomadic hunting life, of which the blow-pipe is the principal instrument. The chief and only important improvement effected in the condition of the Punans since that early period would seem to be the introduction of the superior form of blow-pipe of hard wood. This cannot be made without the use of a metal rod for boring, and, since none of the Bornean tribes which still lead the nomad life know how to work metals, it may be inferred that they have learnt the craft of making the SUMPITAN from more cultured neighbours, procuring from them by barter the iron tools required — as they still do.
It is impossible to make any confident assertion as to the affinities of this widely diffused people from which we believe the Punans, Kenyahs, and Klemantans to be descended. But the physical characters of these tribes, in respect of which they differ but slightly from one another, lead us to suppose that it was formed by a blending of Caucasic and Mongoloid elements, the features of the former predominating in the race thus formed. The fairness of the skin, the wavy and even, in some individuals, the curly character of the hair; the regular and comparatively refined features of many individuals; the frequent occurrence of straight and aquiline noses; the comparatively large, horizontal, or only slightly oblique, palpebral aperture; the not infrequent absence of all trace of the Mongolian fold of the eyelid and its slightness when present — all these characters point to the predominance of the Caucasic element in the ethnic blend.
On the other hand, the smooth yellowish skin, the long dark thick hair of the scalp, and the scantiness of the hair on the cheeks, chin, and lips; the rather broad cheek-bones, the prevailing slight obliquity of the eyes, the rather narrow palpebral aperture, and the presence of a slight Mongolian fold — these characters (all of which are found in a considerable proportion of these peoples) are features that point to Mongol ancestry.
It was said above that the skin of these tribes is of very pale yellow colour. In this respect there is little to choose between them, but on the whole the Punans are of rather lighter colour than the others, and, as was said before, of a faintly green tinge. This difference is, we think, sufficiently accounted for by the fact that the Punan seldom or never exposes himself to full sunlight, whereas the others are habitually sun-browned in some degree. But the lighter colour of this whole group of tribes (as compared especially with the Kayans and Ibans) cannot be explained in this way; for the habits and conditions of life of Kenyahs and Klemantans are very closely similar to those of the Kayans; and it must, we think, be regarded as a racial character.
The name Indonesian is perhaps most properly applied to this people which we suppose to have resulted from the contact and blending of the Caucasic and Mongoloid stocks in this corner of Asia. The systematic ethnographers use this term in a vague and uncertain manner. Deniker defines the Indonesians by saying that they comprise "the little intermixed inland populations of the large islands (Dyaks of Borneo, Battas of Sumatra, various "Alfurus" of Celebes, and certain Moluccas)." He seems doubtful whether the name Indonesian should be applied to the eight groups of aborigines of Indo-China which he distinguishes. He recognises that the Indonesians and the Malayans are of very similar physical characters, but distinguishes them as two of four races which have given rise to the population of the Malay Archipelago — namely, Malayans, Indonesians, Negritos, and Papuans. He regards the Indonesians (used in a wide sense to include Malays) as most closely akin to the Polynesians; but he expresses no opinion as to their relations to the Mongol and Caucasic stocks.
Keane describes the Indonesians as a Proto-Caucasic race which must have occupied Malaysia and the Philippines in the New Stone Age. He separates them widely from the Malays and Proto-Malays, whom he describes as belonging to the Oceanic branch of the Mongol stock; and the "Dyaks" of Borneo are classed by him with strict impartiality sometimes with the Proto-Malays, sometimes with the Proto-Caucasians.
If these oldest inhabitants of Borneo may be regarded as typical Indonesians (and we think that they have a strong claim to be so regarded), then we think that the usage of the term by both Keane and Deniker errs in accentuating unduly the affinity of the Indonesians with the Polynesians, and that Keane's errs also in ignoring the Mongol affinities of the Indonesians.
The most plausible view of the relations of these stocks seems to us to be the following. Polynesians and Indonesians are the product of an ancient blend of southern Mongols with a fair Caucasic stock. In both the Caucasic element predominates, but more so in the Polynesian than in the Indonesian. We imagine this blending to have been effected at a remote period in the south-eastern corner of Asia, probably before the date at which Borneo became separated from the mainland. If, as seems probable, this blending was effected by the infusion of successive doses of Mongol blood from the north into a Caucasic population that had previously diffused itself over this corner of Asia from the west, the smaller proportion of the Mongol element in the Polynesians may be due to their having passed into the islands, while the Indonesians remained on the continent receiving further infusions of Mongol blood.
The separation of Borneo from the mainland then isolated part of the Indonesian stock within it, at a period when their culture was still in a very primitive condition, presumably similar to that of the Punans. The Proto-Malays, on the other hand, represent a blending of the Mongol stock (or of a part of the Indonesian race) with darker stock allied to the Dravidians of India, which is perhaps properly called Proto-Dravidian, and of which the Sakai of the Malay peninsula (and, perhaps, the Toala of central Celebes) seem to be the surviving representatives in Malaysia. In this blend, which presumably was effected in an area south of that in which the Indonesian blend was formed, the Mongol element seems to predominate.
After the separation of Borneo from the mainland, there came a long period throughout which it remained an isolated area, the population of which received no important accessions from other areas. It is probable that during this period the Indonesian population of the mainland continued to receive further infusions of Mongol blood; for there is abundant evidence that for a long time past there has been a drifting of Mongol peoples, such as the Shans, southwards from China into the Indo-Chinese area.
We may suppose that during this period the knowledge and practice of working iron, of building long houses and boats, and of cultivating PADI, became diffused through the greater part of the population of this corner of the Asiatic continent. This advance of culture would have rendered possible the passage of these peoples to the islands in boats. But it seems probable that no considerable incursion of people from this area was effected until a comparatively recent date.
In Chapter II. we have mentioned the evidences of Hindu-Javan influence on Borneo, to which must be ascribed the existence of the Buddhist court at Bruni before the coming of the Malays, as well as traces of Hindu culture in south Borneo, including the practice of cremation by the Land Dayaks, the burning of the bones by other tribes, stone carvings, and articles of gold and fragments of pottery of Hindu character. There must have been a certain infusion of Javanese and perhaps Hindu blood at this time; but both in physical type and in culture the surviving traces seem to be insignificant.
We have mentioned also in Chapter II. the early intercourse between China and the Buddhist rulers of Bruni and other parts of north and northwest Borneo, and the legend of an early settlement of Chinese in the extreme north.
But these civilised or semi-civilised visitors and settlers were separated from the indigenous Borneans by a great culture gap, and they probably had but little friendly intercourse with them and affected their culture but little, if at all; and though it is possible that they bartered salt, metal, tools, and weapons, for camphor and other jungle produce, their influence, like that of the Malays, probably extended but a little way from the coasts in most parts of the island. The higher culture of the indigenous tribes of the interior has been introduced, we believe, by invasions of peoples less widely separated from them in cultural level, who have penetrated far into the interior and have mingled intimately with them. Three such invasions may be distinguished as of principal importance: that of the Kayans in the south and perhaps in the south-east, of the Muruts in the north, and of the Ibans in the south-west. Each of these three invading populations has spread up the course of the rivers to the interior and has established its communities over large areas, until in the course of the nineteenth century they have encountered one another for the first time. Besides these three most numerous and important invasions, there have been many smaller settlements from the surrounding islands, especially from Java, Celebes, and the Philippines, whose blood and culture have still further diversified the population and culture of the tribes of Borneo and complicated the ethnographical problems of the island.
Of the three principal invasions, that of the Kayans has been of most effect in spreading a higher culture among the indigenous population.
There is good reason to believe that the Kayans have spread across Borneo from the south and south-eastern parts, following up the course of the large rivers until they reached USUN APO, the central highlands, in which (see vol. i. p. 2) all the large rivers have their sources. The tradition of such north-westward migration is preserved among the Kayans of the Baram, who, according to their own account, crossed the watershed into the basins of the western rivers only a few generations ago. This tradition is in accordance with the fact that, within the memory of men still living, they have spread their villages farther westward along the banks of the Baram and the Rejang rivers, driving back the Muruts northwards from the Baram. It is borne out by the accounts of the Bruni Malays to the effect that the Brunis first became acquainted with the Kayans some few generations ago, and had known the Muruts long before the advent of the Kayans; and further, by the fact that the Kayans have left their name attached to many rivers both in the south and east, where the name Batang Kayan (or Kayan River) is the common appellation of several rivers on which Kayan villages are now very few.
The Kayans seem to have entered Borneo by way of the rivers opening on the south coast, and gradually to have penetrated to the central highlands by following up these rivers, pushing out communities every few years to build new villages higher up the river in the course of their unceasing search for new areas adapted to their wasteful farming operations.
There can, we think, be little doubt that the Kayans are the descendants of emigrants from the mainland, and that they brought with them thence all or most of the characteristic culture that we have described. But from what part exactly of the mainland, and by what route, they have come, and how long a time was occupied by the migration, are questions in answer to which we cannot do more than throw out some vague suggestions.
We believe that the Kayans migrated to Borneo from the basin of the Irrawadi by way of Tenasserim, the Malay Peninsula, and Sumatra; and that they represent a part of the Indonesian stock which had remained in the basin of the Irrawadi and adjacent rivers from the time of the separation of Borneo, there, through contact with the southward drift of peoples from China, receiving fresh infusions of Mongol blood; a part, therefore, of the Indonesians which is more Mongoloid in character than that part which at a remote period was shut up in Borneo by its separation from the mainland. During this long period the Kayans acquired or developed the type of culture characterised by the cultivation of PADI on land newly cleared of jungle by burning, the building of long houses on the banks of rivers, the use of boats, and the working of iron.
The way in which in Borneo the Kayans hang together and keep touch with one another, even though scattered through districts in which numerous communities of other tribes are settled, preserving their characteristic culture with extreme faithfulness, lends colour to the supposition that the whole tribe may thus have been displaced step by step, passing on from one region and from one island to another without leaving behind any part of the tribe. The passage of the straits between the Peninsula and Sumatra, and between Sumatra and Borneo, are the parts of this tribal migration that are the most difficult to imagine. But we know that Kayans do not fear to put out to sea in their long war-boats. We have known Kayan boats to descend the Baram River and to follow the coast up to Bruni; and we have trustworthy accounts of such expeditions having been made in former days by large war parties in order to fight in the service of the Sultan of Bruni. The distance from the Baram mouth to Bruni (about 100 miles) is nearly equal to the width of the broadest stretch of water they must have crossed in order to have reached Borneo from the mainland by way of Sumatra. This hypothetical history of the immigration of the Kayans receives some support from the fact that a vague tradition of having crossed the sea still persists among them. We attach some importance to this Kayan tradition of their having come over the sea, as evidence that they are comparatively recent immigrants to Borneo; but the principal grounds on which we venture to suggest this history of the Kayans and of their invasion of Borneo are three: first, the affinities of the Kayans in respect of physical character and culture to certain tribes still existing in the area from which we believe them to have come; secondly, historical facts which go far to explain such a migration; thirdly, their relations to other tribes of Borneo. We add a few words under each of these heads.
I. As long ago as the year 1850, J. R. Logan, writing of highland tribes of the basins of the Koladan and Irrawadi and the south-eastern part of the Brahmaputra, asserted that "the habits of these tribes have a wonderful resemblance to those of the inland lank-haired races of Indonesia... . There is hardly a minute trait in the legends, superstitions, customs, habits, and arts of these tribes, and the adjacent highlanders of the remainder of the Brahmaputra basin, that is not also characteristic of some of the ruder lank-haired tribes of Sumatra, Borneo, the Philippines, Celebes, Ceram, and the trans-Javan islands."
This assertion, though, no doubt, rather too sweeping, seems to have a large basis in fact, so far as it concerns the tribes of Borneo.
We have not been able to find that any one tribe of this part of the mainland agrees closely with the Kayans in respect of physical characters and all important cultural features. Nevertheless, very many of the features of the Kayan culture are described as occurring amongst one or another tribe, though commonly with some considerable differences in detail. In attempting to identify the nearest relatives of the Kayans among the mainland tribes, it has to be remembered that all these have been subjected to much disturbance, in some cases, no doubt, involving changes of habitat, since the date at which, as we suppose, the Kayans left the continent. And since the Kayans, from the time of their arrival in Borneo, have played the part of a dominating and conquering people among tribes of lower culture, and have imposed their customs upon these other tribes, without blending with them or accepting from them any important cultural elements, it follows that we must regard the Kayans as having preserved, more faithfully than their relatives of the mainland, the culture which presumably they had in common with them a thousand years or more ago.
Of all the peoples of the south-eastern corner of the continent, the one which seems to us most closely akin to the Kayans is that which comprises the several tribes of the Karens. These have been regarded by many authors (3) as the indigenous people of Burma. Their own traditions tell of their coming from the north across a great river of sand and of having been driven out of the basin of the Irrawadi at a later date (1). At present the Karens are found chiefly in the Karen hills of Lower Burma between the Irrawadi and the Salween and in the basin of the Sittang River, which runs southwards midway between those two greater rivers to open into the head of the Gulf of Martaban. But they have been much oppressed by their more civilised neighbours, the Burmese and the Shans, and their communities are widely scattered in the remoter parts of the country and are said to extend into Tenasserim far down the Malay Peninsula. By the Burmese they are called also KAYENS or KYENS, the Y and R sounds being interchangeable in Burmese (1 and 3).
Peoples generally recognised as closely akin to the KARENS are the CHINS (who are also known as Khyens) (14) of the basin of the Chindwin, the large western tributary of the Irrawadi; and the KAKHYENS (also called KACHINGS and SINGPHO), who occupy the hills east of Bhamo and the basin of the river Tapang in the borderlands of Burma and Yunnan (7). The Nagas of Manipur and of the Naga Hills of Assam also seem to belong to the same group of peoples, though less closely akin to the Karens than the Chins and the Kakhyens.
It seems highly probable that all these, together with the Kayans, are surviving branches of a people which occupied a large area of south-eastern Asia, more especially the basin of the Irrawadi, for a considerable period before the first of the successive invasions which have given rise to the existing Burmese and Shan nations. The physical characters of all of them are consistent with the view taken above, namely, that they represent the original Indonesian population of which the Klemantans of Borneo are the pure type, modified by later infusions of Mongol blood. In all these occur individuals who are described as being of almost purely Caucasic type and very light in colour.
Three principal tribes of Karens are distinguished, the Sgan, Pwo, and Bwe. Of these the Bwe are also known as the Hill-Karens and seem to have preserved their own culture more completely than the others, though the Sgan are said to be the purest in blood, the lightest in colour, and more distinctive in type than any other of the tribes of south-eastern Asia (4). Of the Hill-Karens, Mason said, "Some would be pronounced European. Indeed, if not exposed to the sun, some of them would be as fair, I think, as many of the inhabitants of northern Europe." Yet the commoner type of Karen is said to show distinctly Mongoloid facial characters. Of those Karens who have been least affected by their more cultured neighbours, we are told that they live in small communities, each of which is governed by a patriarch who is at once high priest and judge, and who punishes chiefly by the infliction of fines. He raises no regular tax, but receives contributions in kind towards the expenses of entertainment (3). Several communities join together, sometimes under a leading chief, in order to meet a common foe (3). They build long houses in which a whole community of as many as 400 persons dwell together (4). These houses are described as of Himalayic type. "It (the house) is made by sinking posts of large size firmly in the ground and inserting beams or joists through the posts eight feet from the ground, and on these laying the floor with slats of bamboo." The walls and partitions are mats of woven bamboo, and the roof is thatched with palm leaves (4). This very incomplete description leaves it open to suppose that the Karen house is very similar to that built by the Kayans when for any reason the latter build in hasty and temporary fashion. But the still more scanty description of another writer (3) implies that the arrangement of the interior of the house is unlike that characteristic of the Kayans. They frequently migrate to new sites.
The Karens cultivate PADI and prepare the jungle land for cultivation by burning down the forest. They prepare from rice a spirit to which they are much addicted. The hill tribes are truculent warriors and head-hunters. Captives are made slaves. They use and make spears and axes, and a cross-bow with poisoned arrows. They rear pigs and poultry, and train dogs to the chase. The men eradicate their beards. They wear many small rings on the forearms and legs. The lobes of the ear are perforated and often enormously distended (3).
They address prayers and supplications for protection and prosperity to a Supreme Being whom they address as "Lord of the heavens and earth" (5). They believe also in a multitude of nature spirits, most of whom are harmful. The fear of them occasions many ceremonial acts. The taking of heads is said to be a means of propitiating these spirits (3). They believe that during sickness the soul departs from the body; and the medicine-man attempts to arrest it and to bring it back to the body of the patient. In this and other rites the blood of fowls (which they are said to venerate) (2) is smeared on the participants. Divination by means of the bones of fowls and the viscera, especially the liver of the pig, is in common use (5). The souls of the dead go to a place in which they live much as in this world. It is called ABU LAGAN (3). In this abode of shades everything is upside down and all directions are inverted (5). There are no rewards and punishments after death (3). Parents take the names of father and mother of So-and-so — the name of their first child. The knife with which the navel cord is cut at birth is carefully preserved (5). Finally, the Karens are said to be distinguished by a lack of humour, a trait which is well marked also in the Kayans.
In respect of all the characters and culture elements mentioned above, the Karens resemble the Kayans very closely. Against these we have to set off a few customs mentioned by our authorities in which they differ from the Kayans.
The Karens eat everything except members of the cat tribe. They bury the bodies of the dead after they have lain in state some three or four days; and they hold an annual feast for the dead at the August new moon. They ascribe two souls to man, one of a kind which is possessed also by animals, tools, weapons, the rice, and one which is the responsible soul peculiar to man.
The bride is taken to the house of the bridegroom's father. Only one tribe, namely, the Red Karens, practises tatu, and among them a figure which seems to represent the rising sun is tatued on the back of the men only (5). They weave a coarse cloth.
These differences are not very great, and their significance is diminished by the following considerations. The Kayans may have acquired their aversion to killing the dog through contact with Malays. They bury the dead in the ground in the case of poor persons or those dead of epidemic disease. And they have a tradition that they formerly practised the weaving of cloth. They may also have acquired the art of making and using the solid wooden blow-pipe from Malays; and this would account for their having given up the use of the bow and arrow as a serious weapon. On the other hand, the inferior houses of the Karens, the lack of restrictions among them upon animal foods, their earth burial — all these may well be due to decay of custom among an oppressed people; and the fact that they seem to make but little use of boats may well be due to their having been driven away from the main rivers and pushed into the hills. We have little doubt that many more points of resemblance would be discoverable, if we had any full account of the Karens as they were before their culture was largely affected by contact with Burmese and Shans and by the influence of the missionaries who have taught so successfully among them for more than sixty years.
Among the elements of Kayan culture which are lacking or but feebly represented among the Karens, some are reported among the tribes most nearly allied to the Karens, and others among other peoples of the same area.
Thus the peculiar Kayan custom of tatuing the thighs of women has a close parallel in the tatuing of the thighs of men among all Burmese and Shans; and the Kayans may well have adopted the practice from them. Among the Shans there obtains the custom of placing the coffin on upright timbers at some height above the ground (9). Among the Nagas, and especially the Kuki Nagas, who are said to be most nearly allied to the Karens, beside a number of the culture elements which we have noticed above as common to Karens and Kayans, other noteworthy points of resemblance to the Kayans are the following: A system of tabu or GENNA which may affect individuals or whole villages, and is very similar to the MALAN of the Kayans; the practice of ornamenting houses with heads of enemies, the motive of taking the head being to provide a slave in Hades for a deceased chief; the use of human and other hair in decorating weapons.
Their method of attacking a village is like that of the Kayans, namely, to surround it in the night and to rush it at dawn; they obstruct the approach of an enemy to their village by planting in the ground short pieces of bamboo sharpened and fire-hardened at both ends; they use an oblong wooden shield or a rounded shield of plaited cane; their blacksmiths use a bellows very like that of the Kayan smiths; they husk their PADI in a solid wooden mortar with a big pestle A LA Kayan; they floor their houses with similar massive planks; they catch fish in nets and traps, and by poisoning the water; men pierce the shell of the ear in various ways; omens are read from the viscera of pigs, and the cries of some birds are unlucky; they worship a Supreme Deity and a number of minor gods, E.G. gods of rain and of harvest; they often sacrifice pigs and fowls to the gods, and omens are always read from the slaughtered animals; those who die in battle and in childbirth are assigned to special regions of the other world; the women are tatued (on chest) to facilitate recognition in Hades; in felling the jungle preparatory to burning it to make a PADI farm, they always leave at least one tree standing for the accommodation of the spirits of the place.
Other of the instruments, arts, and customs of the Kayans are found widely spread in south-eastern Asia. Such are the small axe or adze with lashed head; the musical instrument of gourd and bamboo pipes with reeds; the bamboo guitar; the use of old beads and of hornbill feathers for personal adornment; the making of fire by friction of a strip of rattan across a block of wood.
II. Whether this people, of whom the Kayans, Karens, Chins, Kakhyens, and Nagas, seem to be the principal surviving branches, came into the Irrawadi basin and adjacent areas by migration from Central Asia by way of the Brahmaputra valley, as Cross and McMahon (accepting the tradition of the Karens) believe, or came, as Logan suggested, eastward from Bengal, it seems certain that it has been divided into fragments, driven away from the main rivers, and in the main pushed southwards by successive swarms of migration from the north. This pressure from the north seems to have driven some of the Karens down into the Malay Peninsula, where they are still found; and it may well be that, before the rise of the Malays as an aggressive people under Arab leadership, the ancestors of the Kayans occupied parts of the peninsula farther south than the Karens now extend, and possibly also parts of Sumatra. If this was the case, it was inevitable that, with the rise to dominance of the Mohammedan Malays in this region, the Kayans must have been either driven out, exterminated, or converted to Islam and absorbed. It seems probable that different communities of them suffered these three different fates.
The supposition that the Kayans represent a part of such a population, which was driven on by the pressure of Malays to seek a new country in which to practise its extravagant system of PADI culture, is in harmony with the probability as to the date of their immigration to the southern rivers of Borneo; for the rise and expansion of the Menangkabau Malays began in the middle of the twelfth century A.D.; and the Kayans may well have entered Borneo some 700 years ago.
III. We have now to summarise the evidence in favour of the view that the Kayans have imparted to the Kenyahs and many of the Klemantan tribes the principal elements of the peculiar culture which they now have in common.
We have shown that the culture of the Kenyah and Klemantan tribes is in the main very similar to that of the Kayans, and that it differs chiefly in lacking some of its more advanced features, in having less sharply defined outlines, in its greater variability from one community to another, and in the less strict observance of custom. Thus the Kayans in general live in larger communities, each of their villages generally consisting of several long houses; whereas a single long house generally constitutes the whole of a Kenyah or Klemantan village. The Kayans excel in iron-working, in PADI culture, in boat-making, and in house-building. Their customs and beliefs are more elaborated, more definite, more uniform, and more strictly observed. Their social grades are more clearly marked. They hang together more strongly, with a stronger tribal sentiment, and, while the distinction between them and other tribes is everywhere clearly marked and recognised both by themselves and others, the Klemantans and Kenyahs everywhere shade off into one another and into Punans.
The process of conversion of Punans into settled communities that assimilate more or less fully the Kayan culture is still going on. We are acquainted with settled communities which still admit their Punan origin; and these exhibit very various grades of assimilation of the Kayan culture. Some, which in the lives of the older men were still nomadic, still build very poor houses and boats, cultivate PADI very imperfectly, and generally exhibit the Kayan culture in a very imperfect state.
On the other hand, the Kenyahs have assimilated the Kayan culture more perfectly than any other of the aborigines, and in some respects, such as the building of houses, they perhaps equal the Kayans; but even they have not learnt to cultivate PADI in so thorough a manner as to keep themselves supplied with rice all through the year, as the Kayans do; and, like the various Klemantan tribes, they suffer almost every year periods of scarcity during which they rely chiefly on cultivated and wild sago and on tapioca. The Kayans, on the other hand, grow sufficient PADI to last through the year, except in very bad seasons, and they never collect or cultivate sago. The view that this relative imperfection of the agriculture of the Kenyahs and Klemantans is due to the recency of their adoption of the practice, is confirmed by the fact that many of them still preserve the tradition of the time when they cultivated no PADI. It seems that most of the present Kenyahs first began to plant PADI not more than two, or at most three, centuries ago. Some of the Kenyahs also preserve the tradition of a time when they constructed their houses mainly of bamboo; this was probably their practice for some few generations after they began to acquire the Kayan culture. At the present day those Punans who have only recently taken to the settled mode of life generally make large use of the bamboo in building their small and relatively fragile houses.
The view that the Kayans have played this large civilising role is supported by the fact that Kayan is the language most widely understood in the interior, and that it is largely used for intercommunication, even between members of widely separated Kenyah communities whose dialects have diverged so widely that their own language no longer forms a medium of communication between them; whereas the Kayans themselves do not trouble to acquire familiarity with the Kenyah or Klemantan languages.
If both Kenyahs and Klemantans represent sections of the aboriginal population of nomadic hunters who have absorbed Kayan culture, it remains to account for the existence of those peculiarities of the Kenyahs that have led us to separate them from the tribes which we have classed together as Klemantans. The peculiarities that distinguish Kenyahs from Klemantans are chiefly personal characteristics, notably the bodily build (relatively short limbs and massive trunks), the more lively and energetic temperament, the more generous and expansive and pugnacious disposition. These peculiarities may, we think, be accounted for by the supposition that the aborigines from whom the Kenyahs descend had long occupied the central highlands where most of the Kenyah communities still dwell and which they all regard as the homeland and headquarters of their race.
Of the Klemantan tribes some, E.G. the Aki, the Long Patas, and the Long Akars, resemble more nearly the Kayans; others, E.G. the Muriks, the Sebops, the Lirongs, the Uma Longs, the Pengs or Pinihings, show more affinity with the Kenyahs. It seems probable that these diversities have resulted from the assimilation of culture directly from the Kayans by the one group and from the Kenyahs by the other. A third group of Klemantan tribes such as the Long Kiputs, the Batu Blah, and the Trings, scattered through the northern part of the island, resemble more nearly the Muruts; and among these are found communities whose culture marks them as descendants of nomads who have assimilated the Murut culture in various degrees.
The Muruts differ somewhat as regards physical features from all the other tribes, especially in having coarser but less Mongoloid features, a longer skull, and a more lanky build of body and limbs. Their intonation is nasal, and the colour of the skin slightly darker and ruddier than that of the Klemantans.
Their culture differs so much as to lead us to suppose that it had a somewhat different origin from that of the Kayans. They build long houses; but these are comparatively flimsy structures, and they are often situated at a distance from any navigable stream. Even those Muruts who live on the river-banks make much less use of boats than the other tribes, and all of them are great walkers. They have very little skill in boat-making. Their most distinctive peculiarity is their system of agriculture (see vol. i. p. 97), which involves irrigation, the use of buffalo, the raising of two crops a year, and the repeated use in successive years of the same land. Other distinctive features are their peculiar long sword and short spear; the absence of any axe and blow-pipe; the custom according to which the women propose marriage to the men (Kalabits).
In the Philippine Islands a system of agriculture similar to that of the Muruts is widely practised; and some of the tribes, though their culture has been largely influenced by Spanish civilisation, seem to be of the same stock as the Muruts; thus the Tagals of Borneo are not improbably a section of the people known as Tagalas in the Philippines, and the Bisayas of Borneo probably bear the same relation to the Visayas of the Philippines.
It seems probable, therefore, that this type of culture has been carried into the north of Borneo by immigrants from the Philippines, whither it was introduced at a remote period, possibly from Annam, the nearest part of the mainland; or possibly it came to Borneo directly from Annam. It is probable that many of the tribes which we have classed with the Muruts, on account of their possession of the Murut culture, are, like the Klemantans and Kenyahs, descendants of the ancient Indonesian population who have adopted the culture of more advanced immigrants. The descendants of the immigrants who introduced this type of culture are, we think, the Muruts proper, who claim that name and dwell chiefly in the Trusan, the Padas, the Sembakong, the Kerayan rivers, and in the head of the Kinabatangan; also the Kalabits in the northern part of the upper basin of the Baram. It is these which display most decidedly the physical peculiarities noted above.
As examples of Klemantan tribes that have partially adopted the Murut culture we would mention the LONG KIPUTS, the BATU BLAHS, the TRINGS, and the ADANGS in the head of the Limbang River; to the same group belong the KADAYANS in the neighbourhood of Bruni, who, from contact with their Malay neighbours, have become in large part Mohammedans of Malay culture.
The Ibans (Sea Dayaks)
The Ibans stand distinctly apart from all the other tribes, both by reason of their physical and mental peculiarities and of the many differences of their culture; we have little doubt that they are the descendants of immigrants who came into the south-western corner of Borneo at no distant date. We regard them as Proto-Malays, that is to say, as of the stock from which the true Malays of Sumatra and the Peninsula were differentiated by the influence of Arab culture. A large number of the ancestors of the present Ibans were probably brought to Borneo from Sumatra less than two hundred years ago. Some two centuries ago, a number of Malay nobles were authorised by the Sultan of Bruni to govern the five rivers of Sarawak proper, namely, the Samarahan, the Sadong, the Batang Lupar, the Saribas, and the Klaka rivers. These Malays were pirate leaders, and they were glad to enrol large numbers of pagan fighting men among their followers; for the latter were glad to do most of the hard work, claiming the heads of the pirates' victims as their principal remuneration, while the Malays retained that part of the booty which had a marketable value. These Malay leaders found, no doubt, that their pagan relatives of Sumatra lent themselves more readily to this service than the less warlike Klemantans of Borneo, and therefore, as we suppose, they brought over considerable numbers of them and settled them about the mouths of these rivers. The co-operation between the piratical Malay Tuankus and the descendants of their imported PROTEGES continued up to the time of the suppression of piracy by the British and Dutch half a century ago. It was from this association with the sea and with coast-pirates that the Ibans became known as the Sea Dayaks by Sir James Brooke; and to this encouragement of their head-hunting proclivity by the Malays is no doubt due their peculiarly ruthless and bloodthirsty devotion to it as to a pastime, rather than (as with the Kayans and other tribes) as to a ceremonial duty occasionally imposed upon them by the death of a chief.
It seems to us probable that the greater part of the ancestors of the Ibans entered Borneo in this way. But there is reason to think that some of them had settled at an earlier date in this part of Borneo and rather farther southward on the Kapuas River. The BUGAUS, KANTUS, and DAUS, who dwell along the southern border of Sarawak, and some other Iban tribes in the northern basin of the Kapuas River, are probably descendants of these earlier immigrants of Proto-Malay stock. In most respects they closely resemble the other Iban tribes, but they are distinguished by some peculiarities of language and accent; their manners are gentler, their bearing less swaggering; they are less given to wandering, and they have little skill in the making and handling of boats. These are recognised by themselves and by other Ibans as belonging to the same people; but they are a little looked down upon by Ibans of the other tribes as any home-staying rural population is looked down upon by travelled cosmopolitans.
This conjectural history of the immigration of the Ibans explains the peculiar fact that, although all the Ibans of all parts are easily distinguishable from all the other peoples, and although they all recognise one another as belonging to the same people, they have no common name for the whole group. They commonly speak of KAMI MENOA (I.E. "we of this country") when they refer to their people as a whole; and the Kayan designation of them as IVAN (immigrant or wanderer) has been adopted by large numbers of them in recent years and modified into Iban, so that the expression KAMI IBAN is now frequently used by them.
The identification of the Iban with a Proto-Malay stock is justified by their language and physical characteristics. The former seems to be the language from which Malay has been formed under Arab influence and culture. It employs many words which are no longer current in Malay, but which, as is shown by Marsden's MALAY DICTIONARY, were in use among Sumatran Malays in the eighteenth century.
Since the Mohammedan populations which now are called Malay are of mixed origin, they present no very well-defined or uniform physical type. But of all Malays those of Sumatra and of the Peninsula are generally recognised as presenting the type in its greatest purity; and it is this type which the Ibans most closely reproduce. The near resemblance of facial type between the Malays and the Ibans is apt to be obscured for the casual visitor by the fact that the Iban puts little or no restraint upon his expressions and is constantly chattering, laughing, and smiling; whereas the Malay is taught from childhood to restrain his expressions and to preserve a severe and grave demeanour in the presence of strangers. But in private the Malay relaxes, and then the resemblance appears more clearly.
The principal features of the Iban's culture which distinguish it from that of the other tribes may be enumerated here. The Iban closely resembles the Kayan in his method of cultivating PADI, but he is even more careful and skilful, and generally secures a surplus. His house differs characteristically from those of the Kayan type, and resembles the long houses still inhabited by some Sumatran Malays, in being comparatively small, and in having a framework of many light poles rather than of heavy hardwood timbers, and a floor of split bamboo in place of huge planks. In methods of weaving and dyeing cloth and in the character of the cloths produced; in the wearing of ornamental head-cloths; in the weaving of mats and baskets with the PANDANUS leaf and a large rush known as BUMBAN rather than with strips of split rattan; in their methods of trapping and netting fish; in the character of the sword and axe and shield as formerly used; in the use of the fire-piston; in musical instruments and methods; in the custom of earth burial; in the visiting and making of offerings at the graves of noted men in the hope of supernatural aid, — in all these respects the Iban culture differs from that of the Kayans, and closely resembles that of the Malays.
The Iban culture presents also certain features not common to other peoples of Borneo and not found among the Malays; and all or most are such as must have been exterminated among the Malays on their conversion to Islam, if they had formed part of their culture in their pre-Islamic period. Such are the religious beliefs and customs of the Ibans with the cult of the PETARA; the NGARONG; the rite with the clay crocodile for getting rid of farm pests (vol. ii. p. 88); the use in weaving of a number of designs of animal origin; the adornment of the edge of the ear with many brass rings; the lack of any strict avoidance of killing dogs.
Thirdly, of the features of Iban culture which are common to them and to the other tribes of Borneo, many seem to have been borrowed by them from their neighbours, and often in an incomplete or imperfect manner; such are the system of omenreading, the ritual slaughter of fowls and pigs, much of their dancing and tatuing, the PARANG ILANG and wooden shield, the feathered war-coat of skin, the KELURI or small bag-pipe, and the fashion of wearing their hair, — all these seem to have been borrowed from the Kayans; the woman's corset of brassbound hoops, from the Malohs; the mat worn posteriorly for sitting upon, from the Kenyahs.
Besides the three great invasions of foreign blood and foreign culture, those borne by the Kayans, the Muruts, and the Ibans respectively, there have been numerous minor invasions on all sides. In the following paragraphs we make mention of those that seem to have been of most importance in modifying the population and the culture of Borneo.
In the south there are traces of Javanese culture with its Hindu elements among many of the tribes, but especially among the Land Dayaks who occupy the southern extremity of Sarawak. These cremate their dead; they set apart a separate round house for the trophies of human heads, and in this the bachelors are expected to pass the nights. The Malawis of South-East Borneo seem to be similar in many respects to the Land Dayaks of Sarawak. The Land Dayaks have a reputation in Upper Sarawak for quicker intelligence and more adaptability than the other tribes, and hence are in much request for services of the most various kinds. It is an interesting question whether this may be due to a dash of Hindu blood; the facial type and the more abundant growth of hair on the face would support an affirmative answer.
The Malohs are a well-marked tribe found on the Kalis and Mandai rivers, tributaries of the Kapuas River. Physically they are marked by exceptionally long narrow heads (index about 76). They speak a language very different from those of the central and northern parts of the island, but speak also the Iban language with a peculiar accent. The Malohs alone of all the peoples of Borneo eat the flesh of the crocodile. The most distinctive feature of their culture is their skill and industry in brass working. Malohs supply a large proportion of all the brass-ware to be found in the interior. This addiction to brass-working suggests that they represent an immigration from Java, which has long enjoyed a great reputation for its brass-ware and an extensive market throughout the islands.
On the east coast are many communities of Bugis, who are mostly Mohammedans and seem to have come from Celebes, where they are a numerous people.
In the north and extreme north-west the Dusuns seem to be of Murut stock with an infusion of Chinese blood and culture. They use a plough drawn by buffalo in the PADI fields, which they irrigate systematically.
Round about the northern coasts are to be found many small bands of Lanuns and Bajaus, living largely in boats. They are mostly Mohammedans, and descend from the notorious piratical communities whose headquarters were in the Sulu Islands and other islands off the north-east coast.
In the foregoing pages we have said very little about the languages spoken by the tribes of Borneo. Although one of us has a practical command of the Kayan, Kenyah, Sea Dayak, and Malay languages, and a tolerably intimate acquaintance with a number of the Klemantan dialects, we do not venture upon the task of discussing their systematic positions and relations to languages of other areas. For this would be a task of extreme difficulty and complexity which only an accomplished linguistic scholar could profitably undertake. Nevertheless, we think it worth while to add a few words regarding the bearing of the languages on the foregoing ethnological discussion. It seems clear that in the main the differences and affinities between the many languages and dialects spoken by the pagan tribes bear out, so far as they are known to us, the principal conclusions of our argument. The Sea Dayak or Iban tongue stands distinctly apart from all the rest, and is indisputably very closely allied to the Malay. The Kenyahs, Klemantans, and Punans speak a great variety of tongues, which are, however, so closely similar, and the extreme members of which are connected by so many intermediate forms, that it would seem they may properly be regarded as but dialects of one language. The Kayan language, on the other hand, stands apart from both the Iban and the Klemantan languages, but is much nearer to the latter than the former. The Kenyah dialects especially contain many words or roots that appear also in the Kayan, and seem to be more closely allied to it than is any of the Klemantan tongues. This may well be due to the more intimate contact with the Kayans enjoyed by the Kenyahs, who, as we have seen, have assimilated the Kayan culture more completely than any other of the indigenous tribes, and who may well have taken up many Kayan words together with other culture elements.
The Murut languages again seem to stand apart from the Iban, Kayan, and Kenyah-Klemantan, as a distinct group whose vocabulary has little in common with those others.
In conclusion, we venture to make a suggestion which we admit to be widely speculative and by which we wish only to draw attention to a remote possibility which, if further evidence in its favour should be discovered, would be one of great interest. We have throughout maintained the view, now adopted by many others, of which Professor Keane has been the principal exponent, namely, the view that the Indonesian stock was largely, probably predominantly, of Caucasic origin. In our chapter on animistic beliefs concerning animals and plants, and in the chapter on religion, we have shown that the Kayans believe in a multiplicity of anthropomorphic deities which, with Lake Tenangan at the head of a galaxy of subordinate gods and goddesses presiding over special departments of nature, strangely resembles the group of divine beings who, in the imagination of the fathers of European culture, dwelt in Olympus. And we have shown that the system of divination practised by the Kayans (the taking of omens from the flight and cries of birds, and the system of augury by the entrails of sacrificial victims) strangely resembles, even in many details, the corresponding system practised by the early Romans. Our suggestion is, then, that these two systems may have had a common root; that, while the Aryans carried the system westward into Europe, the Indonesians, or some Caucasic people which has been merged in the Indonesian stock, carried it eastward; and that the Kayans, with their strongly conservative tendencies, their serious religious temperament, and strong tribal organisation, have, of all the Indonesians, preserved most faithfully this ancient religious system and have imparted it in a more or less partial manner to the tribes to whom they have given so much else of culture, custom, and belief.
It is perhaps not without significance in this connection that the Karens, whom we regard as the nearest relatives of the Kayans, were found to worship a Supreme Being, and have proved peculiarly apt pupils of the Christian missionaries who have long laboured among them.
By way of crowning the indiscretion of the foregoing paragraphs, we point out that there are certain faint indications of linguistic support for this speculative suggestion. BALI, which, as we have explained, is used by Kayans and Kenyahs to denote whatever is sacred or is connected with religious practices, is undoubtedly a word of Sanskrit derivation. FLAKI, the name of the bird of most importance in augury, bears a suggestive resemblance to the German FALKE and the Latin FALCO. The Kayan word for omen is AMAN, the resemblance of which to the Latin word is striking. Are these resemblances merely accidental? If more of the words connected with the religious beliefs and practices could be shown to exhibit equally close resemblances, we should be justified in saying — No.
In an earlier chapter we have sketched the history of government in Borneo from the earliest times of which any record remains, up to the time at which the whole island was brought under European control. In this chapter we propose to describe the way in which the European governments have extended their spheres of influence and have secured the co-operation of the natives in the maintenance of peace and order and freedom.
For some years after Mr. James Brooke became Rajah of Sarawak (1841), his rule was confined to the territory then known as Sarawak. This area, still known as Sarawak proper, is some 7000 square miles in extent and comprises the basins of the following rivers: the Sarawak, the Samarahan, the Sadong, and the Lundu. The Batang Lupar and Saribas rivers, which enter the sea to the north of this area, were infested by pirate bands under the leadership of Malay Serifs who, though they professed allegiance to the Sultan of Bruni, were but little controlled by him. The depredations of these unruly neighbours led Sir James Brooke to undertake several expeditions against them. In the year 1849, Captain Sir Harry Keppel of H.M.S. DIDO lent his aid (not for the first time), and the combined forces finally swept out those hornets' nests and put an end to piracy in those regions. With the approval of the Sultan of Bruni, Rajah Brooke established stations in the lower waters of the Saribas and Skarang rivers, and a little later at Kanowit on the Rejang River. This was the first of a series of similar steps by which the area of the Raj has been successively extended, until now it comprises about 60,000 square miles, more than eight times its original extent. In each of these out-stations one or two English officers were appointed to represent the Rajah's government. In each station a small wooden fort was built, and in some cases the fort was surrounded with a stockade. This served as residence for the officer, or officers, and their small band of native police, generally some ten or twelve Malays armed with rifles and a small cannon. The prime duty of these officers, entitled Governors (or later, Residents), was to protect the local population from the oppression and depredations of the Serifs, and generally to discourage and punish bloodshed and disorder. The general policy followed in all these new districts was to elicit the co-operation of the local chiefs and headmen, and, when the people had begun to appreciate the benefits of peace, including the opening of the rivers to Malay and Chinese traders, to impose a small poll-tax to defray the expenses of administration. The area of control was then gradually extended farther into the interior by securing the voluntary adhesion of communities and tribes settled in the tributaries and higher waters of each river. This policy, steadily pursued in one district after another, has invariably succeeded, although the time required for complete pacification has, of course, varied considerably; and it was only during the early years of this century that the process seemed to reach its final stage among the Sea Dayaks in the interiors of the Batang Lupar and Rejang districts.
The stability of the Rajah's government was seriously threatened in 1857 by the insurrection of Chinese gold-workers at Bau in Sarawak proper. But this rebellion, in the course of which Sir James Brooke narrowly escaped death at the hands of the rebels, was soon suppressed, largely by the energy of the Tuan Muda (the present Rajah), who came to the aid of Sir James with a strong force of Sea Dayaks and Malays.
The process of establishing order and good government in the new territory was complicated by the intrigues of the Bruni nobles or PANGIRANS and of the independent Malay chiefs, who, seeing their power to oppress and misrule the coast districts seriously curtailed, and indeed threatened with extinction, by the growing influence of the Europeans in Borneo, conspired with others of similar status in Dutch Borneo to rid the island of these unwelcome innovators. In the year 1859 two English officers of the Sarawak government at Kanowit on the lower Rejang (Messrs. Fox and Steele) were murdered by a gang of Malanaus. There was good reason to believe that this incident, together with several murders of Europeans in Dutch Borneo, was the result of a loosely concerted action of the Malay chiefs, and that the Kanowit murders were directly instigated by Serif Masahor and Pangiran Dipa; the latter a Bruni noble who misruled Muka and the surrounding area. Rajah Brooke visited the Sultan of Bruni and secured his authorisation for the punishment of these and others concerned in the murders; and in 1860 an expedition, led by his two nephews, captured Muka and would have expelled the Serif and the Pangiran but for the untimely interference of the British Consul at Bruni, who seems to have been misinformed of the nature of the situation. In the following year the Rajah, visiting the Sultan at Bruni, found him willing to cede Muka and the basins of the adjoining rivers, the Oya, Tatau, and Bintulu, in return for a perpetual annual payment of 16,000 dollars, an arrangement which was accepted and which still holds good. Thus the intrigues of the Malay nobles, which for a time had seriously threatened the stability of the Rajah's government, resulted in the addition of an area of some 7000 square miles to the Sarawak territory.
The basin of the Rejang, the largest river of Sarawak, was the next region to be added to the Raj. Here Sir James Brooke's government first came into contact with the Kayans (in the year 1863). The reputation of the Kayans as a dominant tribe of warriors, whose raids were feared even as far as Bruni, had rendered them proud and self. confident- and unready to appreciate the benefits of the Rajah's government. Their continued hostility rendered advisable a demonstration of force. Accordingly in the year 1863 the Tuan Muda (the present Rajah, H. H. Sir Charles Brooke) led an expedition of some 10,000 or more native levies, consisting chiefly of Sea Dayaks and Malays, up the Rejang as far as the mouth of the Baloi Peh, a spot some 250 miles from the mouth of the Rejang and in the edge of the Kayan country. The Kayans could not withstand so large a force and retreated farther up river after but little show of resistance. Several of their long houses were destroyed, and a message demanding their submission to the Rajah's government was sent by a captive to Oyong Hang, the most influential of the Kayan chiefs. The messenger carried a cannon-ball and the Sarawak flag, and was instructed to ask Oyang Hang which he would choose; to which question the chief is said to have returned the answer that he wanted neither. Although the expedition failed to secure the submission of any large number of the Kayans and Kenyahs, it established the Rajah's authority as far as it had penetrated; for a number of Klemantan villages settled in the middle reaches of the Rejang accepted the offer of peace, and a number of their chiefs brought the Sarawak flag down river and celebrated the traditional peace-making rites with the Rajah's representative. The Kayans have never since attempted to raid the lower reaches of the river; but it was not until the early eighties, during the Residency of the late Mr. H. B. Low, that the bulk of the Kayans of the Rejang acknowledged the Rajah's authority and began to co-operate in his administration, a result achieved without any repetition of the large expedition of 1863. From that time (about 1885) the Baloi or Upper Rejang may be regarded as having formed part of Sarawak.
In the year 1882 the northern boundary of Sarawak was again pushed forward by the cession to the Rajah by the Sultan of Bruni of the basin of the Baram, an area of some 10,000 square miles, on condition of a perpetual annual payment of 6000 dollars. This was an area in which, except along the coast, the Sultan's authority had never been exercised, and which had been kept closed to trade and the depredations of the Malays, by the fear of the Kayans. For the Kayans, who dominated all the middle waters of the Baram, had in the past threatened even Bruni. The Sultan was no doubt glad to see the Rajah undertake the task of controlling his formidable neighbours, who, dwelling within striking distance of his capital, were a perpetual menace to his power and even to his personal safety. The Baram district has been brought completely under the Rajah's rule without the introduction of any armed force from outside; and as the process of establishing peace and order has there followed a normal and undisturbed course, and is familiarly known to us, we propose to describe it in some detail on a later page. Since the date of the inclusion of the Baram, the Raj of Sarawak has been again extended towards the north on three. occasions. The first of these additions was the basin of the Trusan River. In this case the Sultan offered to sell the territory for a lump sum, and his offer was accepted by the Rajah, whose officers occupied it in the year 1885. In 1890, the people living on the Limbang River, whose basin adjoins that of the Baram on its northern border, were in a state of rebellion against the Sultan, and the region had for several years been in a very disturbed state. The present Rajah therefore proposed to annex the country in return for an annual payment. The British Government was asked to approve this step and to fix the amount of the sum to be paid to the Sultan. A favourable reply having been given by the Foreign Office, and the annual sum of 6000 dollars having been awarded as a fair return for the cession, the administration of the country was peacefully entered upon by the Rajah's officers, who where warmly welcomed by the greater part of the inhabitants.
The latest and presumably the final extension of the boundaries of Sarawak was effected in 1905, when the basin of the small river Lawas was bought from the British North Borneo Company.
In the opening year of this century a small part of Borneo still remained under purely native control, namely, the town of Bruni and an area about it of 1700 square miles, comprising the basins of the small rivers Balait and Tutong. By agreement with the Sultan this area was placed under the administration of a Resident representing the British Government in the year 1906. Thus the European occupation of Borneo was completed.
The history of the establishment of Dutch rule throughout the larger part of Borneo has been similar to that of the acquisition of Sarawak by its two English Rajahs. Dutch trading stations were established in the south-west corner of Borneo as early as 1604. In the seventeenth century stations were established in southern Borneo by both British and Dutch traders; but the Dutch traders extended their influence more rapidly than their rivals, and by the middle of the eighteenth century had secured a practically exclusive influence in those parts. The British held possession of all the Dutch East Indies during the brief period (1811 — 1816) which was terminated by the Congress of Vienna. On the retirement of the British, the Dutch Government took over all the rights acquired by the Dutch traders; and since that time it has continued to consolidate its control and to extend the area of its administration farther into the interior along the courses of the great rivers. There were in the area that is now Dutch Borneo several independent Malay Sultans, of which the principal had their capitals at Pontianak, Banjermasin, and Kotei. In 1823 the Sultan of Banjermasin ceded a large part of his territory to the Dutch government; in 1844 the Sultan of Kotei accepted its protection; and by similar steps by far the larger part of the island has been marked out as the Dutch sphere of influence. The water parting from which the principal rivers flow east and west has been agreed upon by the Dutch and the Sarawak governments as the boundary between their territories; and though the upper waters of the great rivers which flow west and south through Dutch Borneo have up to the present time hardly been explored, the authority of the Dutch Government is well established over all the tribes of the coastal regions and, especially in the south, extends far into the interior, but is still little more than nominal in the head waters of the rivers. The system of administration now practised by the Dutch closely resembles in most essential respects that obtaining in Sarawak, and it has brought to the natives of the greater part of Dutch Borneo the same great benefits, peace, freedom, justice, and trade.
The northern extremity of Borneo, an area comprising some 31,000 square miles and 200,000 inhabitants, is now administered by the British North Borneo Company (chartered by the British Government in 1892), which acquired it by purchase in successive instalments from the Sultans of Bruni and Sulu. The Company has followed in the main an administrative policy similar to that of Sarawak, and has appointed as governors officers of large East Indian experience placed at their disposal by the British Government. The Company has attempted to achieve in a brief period a degree of commercial development which in Sarawak and Dutch Borneo has been reached only gradually in the course of several generations; and to this circumstance must be attributed many of the difficulties which for a time caused it "to get into the newspapers." But these difficulties have now been overcome, and the whole territory placed in a condition of prosperity and orderly progress.
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It has been widely recognised that Sarawak provides a most notable example of beneficent administration of the affairs of a population in a lowly state of culture by representatives of our Western civilisation. Among all such administrative systems that of Sarawak has been distinguished not only by the rapid establishment of peace, order, and a modest prosperity, with a minimum output of armed force, but especially by reason of the careful way in which the interests of the native population have constantly been made the prime object of the government's solicitude. The story of the success of the two white Rajahs of Sarawak has several times been told in whole or in part. But we think it is worth while to try to give some intimate glimpses of the working of the system as it affects the daily lives of the pagan tribes, taking our illustrations in the main from incidents in which one of us has been personally concerned.
From the very inception of his rule, Sir James Brooke laid down and strictly adhered to the principle of associating the natives with himself and his European assistants in the government of the country, and of respecting and maintaining whatever was not positively objectionable in the laws and customs of the people. And this policy has been as faithfully followed by the present Rajah. The Raj of which Sir James Brooke became the absolute ruler in the way described in Chapter II. was a country in which the supreme authority had been exercised for many generations by Malay rulers, and in which the only generally recognised system of law was the Mohammedan law administered by them. The two white Rajahs, instead of imposing any system of European-made laws upon the people, as in their Position of benevolent despot they might have been tempted to do, have accepted the Mohammedan law and custom in all matters affecting the population of the Mohammedan religion; and they have gradually introduced improvements when and where the defects and injustices of the system revealed themselves. In the work both of administration and legislation the Rajahs have always sought and enjoyed the advice and co-operation of Malays. They have maintained the principal ministries of State, and have continued the tenure of those offices by the Malay nobles who occupied them at the time of Sir James Brooke's accession to power; and, as these have died or retired in the natural course, they have chosen leading Malays of the aristocratic class to fill the vacancies. Three of these Malay officers, namely, the Datu Bandar, Datu Imaum, and the Datu Hakim, have been members of the Supreme Council since its institution in 1855. The first of these offices may be best defined by likening it to that of a Lord Mayor; or better, perhaps, to that of the salaried Burgomaster of a German city; its occupant is understood to be the leading citizen of the Malay community of Kuching, the capital town of Sarawak. The Datu Imaum is the religious head of the Mohammedan community, and the Datu Hakim the principal of the Malay judges.
The Supreme Council consists of the three Malay officers named above together with three or four of the principal European officers, and the Rajah, who presides over its deliberations. It meets at least once a month to consider all matters referred to it by lower tribunals. It embodies the absolute authority of the Rajah; from its decrees there is no appeal. It decides questions of justice, administration, and legislation; and it continually enriches and improves the law by creating precedents, which serve to guide the local courts, by deliberately revising and repealing laws, and by adding new laws to the Statute Book. It is the sole legislative authority. The presence of the Malay members at the meetings of the Council is by no means a mere formality; they take an active part in its deliberations and decisions.
Beside the Supreme Council there exists a larger body whose functions are purely advisory. It is called the Council NEGRI or State Council, and consists of the Rajah and the members of the Supreme Council, the Residents in charge of the more important districts, and the principal "Native Officers" and PENGHULUS, some seventy members in all. This Council meets at Kuching once in every three years under the presidency of the Rajah, who provides the members with suitable lodgings and entertains them at dinner. At the meeting of this council topics of general interest are discussed, and the Rajah makes some general review of the state of public affairs and the progress achieved since the previous meeting. But the principal purpose of the institution is the bringing together, under conditions favourable for friendly intercourse, of the leading men of the whole country. Each new member is formally sworn in, taking an oath of loyalty to the Rajah and his government. The native chiefs return from these meetings with an enhanced sense of the importance and dignity of their office and with clearer notions of the whole system of government and of their places in it.
Though Mohammedan law remains as the basis of the law administered among the Malays, notable improvements have been introduced, E.G. the death penalty for incest and corporal punishment for conjugal infidelity have been abolished; slaveholding, though not made illegal, has been discouraged throughout the country by rendering it easy for slaves to secure their freedom; and the power of the master over his slave has been greatly restricted. A man is not allowed to marry a second or third wife, unless he can prove himself able to provide for each of the women and her offspring; wilful murder is always punished by death or long imprisonment, not merely by imposition of a fine as in former times.
The development of commerce and industries has, of course, given rise to legal questions for which the Mohammedan law provides no answers; and to meet these necessities, laws modelled on the Indian code and on English law have been enacted.
The presence of a large Chinese community (now comprising some 50,000 persons) has always been a source of legal and administrative difficulties. These difficulties have been met in the past by securing the presence of leading Chinese merchants on the judicial bench, as assessors familiar with the language, customs, and circumstances of their countrymen, whenever the latter have been involved in legal proceedings. In the present year a special court for the trial of Chinese civil cases has been instituted, consisting of seven of the leading Chinese merchants, of whom all, save the president, who is nominated by the Rajah, are elected by the Chinese community.
The government of the pagan population, comprising as it does so many tribes of diverse customs, languages, and circumstances, has presented a more varied and in many respects a more difficult problem. But the same principles have been everywhere applied in their case also. The backbone of the administrative and judicial system has been constituted by the small staff of English officers carefully chosen by the Rajah, and increased from time to time as the extension of the boundaries of Sarawak opened new fields for their activities. During recent years this administrative staff has counted some fifty to sixty English members. Of these about a dozen are quartered in Kuching, namely, the Resident of the first division, his assistant, a second-class Resident, and the heads of the principal departments, the post office, police and prisons, the treasury, the department of lands and surveys, public works, education, and the rangers.
The Sarawak rangers are a body of some 400 men trained to the use of fire-arms and under military discipline. The majority are Sea Dayaks, the remainder Malays and Sikhs. Two white officers, the commandant and the gunnery instructor, are supported by native non-commissioned officers. The force is recruited by voluntary enlistment, the men joining in the first place for five years' service. This force supplies the garrisons of the small forts, one or more of which are maintained in each district; and from it a small body of riflemen has commonly been drawn to form the nucleus of any expeditionary force required for punitive operations.
The whole territory of Sarawak is divided into four divisions, each of which is again divided into two or more districts. The first division coincides with Sarawak proper; the second includes the Batang Lupar, Saribas, and Kelaka districts; the third comprises the Rejang, Oya, Muka, Bintulu, and Matu districts; the fourth consists of the Baram, Limbang, Trusan, and Lawas. The first, third, and fourth divisions are administered by divisional Residents, which three officers rank next to the Rajah in the official hierarchy. Each district is under the immediate charge of an officer. These district officers are of two ranks, namely Residents of the second class, and Assistant Residents. In each district, with the exception of the smallest, the Resident is assisted in his multifarious duties by a second white officer of the rank of cadet or extra-officer, and has under his direction a squad of ten to twenty-five rangers under the charge of a sergeant; a sergeant of police in charge of about twelve policemen, who are generally drawn from the locality; several Malay or Chinese clerks; and generally some two or three "native officers." The last are Malays of the aristocratic class resident in the district; they are appointed by the Rajah on the recommendation of the Resident and receive a regular salary. Their duties are to assist the Resident in his police-court work, to hold special courts for the settlement of purely Malay cases of a domestic nature, and to take charge of the station in the absence of the Resident and his assistant.
The prime duty of the Resident is to preserve order in his district and to punish crimes of violence. But he is responsible also for every detail of administration, including the collection of taxes and customs duties, the settlement of disputes, and the hearing of complaints of all kinds, the furnishing of reports to the central government on all matters of moment, the development of trade and the protection of traders, especially the inoffensive Chinese; and above all, in the newer districts, it is his duty to gain the confidence of the chiefs of the wilder tribes, and to lead them to accept the Sarawak flag and the benefits of the Rajah's government, in return for the small poll-tax required of them. It is well recognised by the Rajah and his officers that the success of a Resident depends primarily upon his acquiring intimate knowledge of the people and establishing and maintaining good relations with them; and with this end in view every Resident is expected to be familiar not only with the Malay language, which is the official language of the country, as well as in some measure a common medium of communication between the chiefs of the various tribes, but also with one or more of the other languages spoken in his district. The headquarters of the Resident are usually the fort, or a small residency built not far from it in the lower reaches of the chief river of his district. Here a Chinese bazaar, I.E. a compact village of Chinese traders and shopkeepers, and a Malay Kampong, generally spring up under the shelter of the fort; and thus the station becomes the headquarters of trade as well as of administration. To this centre the workers of jungle produce bring their stuff, floating down river on rafts of rattans or in their canoes; from it the Malay and Chinese traders or pedlars set out in their boats for long journeys among the up-river people; and to it come occasional parties of the up-river tribesmen, to consult with the Resident, to seek redress for wrongs, to report the movements of tribes in the adjacent territories, or to obtain permission to go on the war-path in order to punish offences committed against them.
Since the river is the one great high road, and since the Resident and his assistants are seated generally near the point where it leaves the district, the coming and going of all visitors can hardly escape their observation. And, since the station sees every few days the arrival of visitors or the return of parties of its own people from up river, the Resident can keep himself pretty well informed of the state of the country, and all news of importance will reach him after no long delay, if only he is always accessible and willing to turn a sympathetic ear to all comers.
But the successful administration of one of the larger and wilder districts, such as the Rejang or the Baram, requires that the Resident shall not be content with the zealous discharge of his many duties at his headquarters. He can only establish intimate relations of reciprocal knowledge and confidence with the chiefs of the many scattered communities of his district by making long journeys up river several times a year. And situations not infrequently arise which urgently demand his presence in some outlying part of his district and which serve as the occasions of such journeys.
Before describing such a journey, something must be said of the place in the scheme of government occupied by the chiefs and headmen of the various communities. Each of the Malay Kampongs and other similar villages of the Malanaus and other coastwise peoples is under the immediate charge of one of its more influential elders, who bears the title of TUAH KAMPONG. He is appointed by the Rajah on the recommendation of the Resident and receives a small salary. His duties are to settle the minor disputes of his village, to collect the tax, to keep order, and to report all breaches of the peace to the Resident. He has authority to call in the police and to order the arrest of any villager; in cases of dispute between villages he represents his village in the Resident's court, and, where his own people are concerned, he may sit on the bench with the Resident to hear and advise upon the case. The Sarawak flag is the badge of his office, and his position and duties are defined in a document bearing the Rajah's signature.
From among the more influential chiefs of the up-river communities the Rajah appoints, on the recommendation of the Resident, a certain number in each district to the office of PENGHULU. In a district of Mixed population such as the Baram, one PENGHULU (sometimes two) is usually appointed for each of the principal tribes of the district, E.G. in the Baram are, or recently were, two Kayans, one Kenyah, one Sebop, and one Barawan holding the office. The principal PENGHULUS are made members of the Council of State, and they are expected to attend its triennial meetings. The status of the PENGHULUS is similar to that of the TUAH KAMPONG, and he also is given the Sarawak flag, which he will display on his boat on official journeys, and a document signed by the Rajah recording his appointment and the duties of his office; but many of them derive a considerably greater importance than their fellows from the numerical strength and the warlike character of their followings. The PENGHULU has authority not only over his own house or village, but also over the chiefs or headmen of other communities of the same tribe and region. He is expected to keep the Resident informed of any local incident requiring his attention, and to be present in the Resident's court when any of his people are tried for any serious offence; he has authority to try minor cases, both civil and criminal, among his own people. Perhaps his most important service is the following. When an up-river man has been charged with a serious offence, the summons of the Resident's court is forwarded to the PENGHULU of his tribe and district with the instruction that he shall send the man down river to headquarters. It is generally possible for the PENGHULU to call the man to him, and, by explaining to him the situation and the order of the Resident, to secure his peaceful surrender. But in case of refusal to come, or of active resistance, the PENGHULU is expected to apply such force as may be necessary for effecting the arrest and the conveyance to headquarters. In this way in a well-governed district the arrest of evildoers is effected with remarkable sureness and with far less risk of violence, bloodshed, and the arousal of angry passions, than if the Resident should send his police or rangers to do the work. The PENGHULU is in a much better position than the Resident for obtaining accurate information upon, and a full understanding of, the circumstances of any such up-river incidents; and his help is thus often of the greatest value to the Resident. If he judges that the accused man is innocent, and especially if the charge against him has been made by a Chinaman, a Malay, or a member of any other than his own tribe, he will usually accompany the prisoner to headquarters, in, order to see that no injustice is done him. Another important function of the PENGHULU is the preliminary investigation of breaches of the peace among his people (see vol. ii. p. 219).
The PENGHULU is responsible also for the collection of the door-tax from the chief of each house or village of his people and for its delivery to the Resident. He is allowed to exercise a certain discretion in the matter of remission of taxes to elderly or infirm householders. He is responsible also for the transmission to the Resident of all sums in payment of fines of more than five dollars, imposed by himself or by his subordinate chiefs. On the happily infrequent occasions on which it becomes necessary to organise a punitive expedition, the PENGHULUS are expected to help in the raising of the required force, and to accompany the expedition as commanders of their own group of warriors, acting under the orders of the Resident.
A PENGHULU is punished for neglect of his duties by suspension from his office for a definite period, or in more serious cases by dismissal and the appointment of another chief Since the dignity and prestige of the office are high, this punishment is deeply felt.
Among the Kayans and Kenyahs and most of the Klemantans, the PENGHULUS exercise a very effective authority, and, since with few exceptions the chiefs chosen to fill the office have been loyal, zealous, and capable, they have rendered great services to the government. Among the Sea Dayaks the lack of authority of the chiefs, which is a characteristic feature of their social system, has rendered it impossible to secure for their PENGHULUS the same high standing and large influence; the result of which has been the creation of an unduly large number of these officers and the consequent further depreciation of the dignity of the office.