The Pagan Tribes of Borneo
by Charles Hose and William McDougall
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Women alone will gather the first ears of the crop. If they encounter on their way to the fields any one of the following creatures, they must at once return home, and stay there a day and a night, on pain of illness or early death: certain snakes, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, and birds of two species, JERUIT and BUBUT (a cuckoo). Or again, if the shoulder straps of their large baskets should break on the way, if a stump should fall against them, or the note of the spider-hunter be heard, or if a woman strikes her foot by accident against any object, the party must return as before.

It will be clear from the foregoing account that the women play the principal part in the rites and actual operations of the PADI culture; the men only being called in to clear the ground and to assist in some of the later stages. The women select and keep the seed grain, and they are the repositories of most of the lore connected with it. It seems to be felt that they have a natural affinity to the fruitful grain, which they speak of as becoming pregnant. Women sometimes sleep out in the PADI fields while the crop is growing, probably for the purpose of increasing their own fertility or that of the PADI; but they are very reticent on this matter.

The Harvest Festival

When the crop is all gathered in, the house is MALAN to all outsiders for some ten days, during which the grain is transported from the fields to the village and stored in the PADI barns. When this process is completed or well advanced, the festival begins with the preparation of the seed grain for the following season. Some of the best of the new grain is carefully selected by the women of each room, enough for the sowing of the next season. This is mixed with a small quantity of the seed grain of the foregoing seasons which has been carefully preserved for this purpose in a special basket. The basket contains grains of PADI from good harvests of many previous years. This is supposed to have been done from the earliest time of PADI planting, so that the basket contains some of the original stock of seed, or at least the virtue of it leavening the whole. This basket is never emptied, but a pinch of the old PADI is mixed in with the new, and then a handful of the mixture added to the old stock. The idea here seems to be that the old grain, preserving continuity generation after generation with the original seed PADI of mythical origin,[47] ensures the presence in the grain of the soul or spirit or vital principle of PADI. While mixing the old with the new seed grain, the woman calls on the soul of the PADI to cause the seed to be fruitful and to grow vigorously, and to favour her own fertility. For the whole festival is a celebration or cult of the principle of fertility and vitality — that of the women no less than that of the PADI.[48]

The women who have been delivered of children during the past year will make a number of toys, consisting of plaited work, in the shapes of various animals filled with boiled rice (Fig. 16). These they throw to the children of the house, who scramble for them in the gallery. This seems to be of the nature of a thank-offering.

At this time also another curious custom is observed. Four water beetles, of the kind that skates on the surface of the still water, are caught on the river and placed on water in a large gong. Some old man specially wise in this matter watches the beetles, calling to them to direct their movements. The people crowd round deeply interested, while the old man interprets the movements of the beetles as forecasting good or ill luck with the crops of the following season, and invokes the good-will of Laki Ivong. Laki Ivong is asked to bring the soul of the PADI to their homes. Juice from a sugarcane is poured upon the water, and the women drink the water, while the beetles are carefully returned to the river. The beetles carry the messages to Laki Ivong.

When these observances have been duly honoured, there begins a scene of boisterous fun. The women make pads of the boiled sticky new rice, and cover it with soot from their cooking vessels. With these they approach the men and dab the pads upon their faces and bodies, leaving sooty marks that are not easily removed. The men thus challenged give chase, and attempt to get possession of the rice pads and to return the polite attention. For a short space of time a certain license prevails among the young people; and irregularities, even on the part of married people, which would be gravely reprobated at all other times, are looked upon very much less seriously. It is, in fact, the annual carnival. Each roomhold has prepared a stock of BURAK from the new rice, and this now circulates freely among both men and women, and large meals of rice and pork are usually eaten. All join in dancing, some of the women dressed like men, some carrying PADI-pestles; at one moment all form a long line marching up and down the gallery in step to the strains of the KELURI; some young men dance in realistic imitation of monkeys (DOK), or hornbills, or other animals, singly or in couples. Others mimic the peculiarities of their acquaintances. The women also dance together in a long line, each resting her hands on the shoulders of the one going before her, and all keeping time to the music of the KELURIES as they dance up and down the long gallery. All this is kept up with good humour the whole day long. In the evening more BURAK is drunk and songs are sung, the women mingling with the men, instead of remaining in their rooms as on other festive occasions. Before midnight a good many of the men are more or less intoxicated, some deeply so; but most are able to find their way to bed about midnight, and few or none become offensive or quarrelsome, even though the men indulge in wrestling and rough horseplay with one another. After an exceptionally good harvest the boisterous merry-making is renewed on a second or even a third day.

The harvest festival is the time at which dancing is most practised. The dances fall into two chief classes, namely, solo dances and those in which many persons take part. Most of the solo dances take the form of comic imitations of the movements of animals, especially the big macaque monkey (DOK), the hornbill, and big fish. These dances .seem to have no connection with magic or religion, but to be purely aesthetic entertainments. The animals that are regarded with most awe are never mimicked in this way. There are at least four distinct group dances popular among the Kayans. Both men and women take part, the women often dressing themselves as men for the occasion (Pl. 61). The movements and evolutions are very simple. The LUPA resembles the dance on return from war described in Chap. X. In the KAYO, a similar dance, the dancers are led by a woman holding one of the dried heads which is taken down for the purpose; the women, dressed in war-coats, pretending to take the head from an enemy. The LAKEKUT Is a musical drill in which the dancers stamp on the planks of the floor in time to the music. The LUPAK is a kind of slow polka. In none of these do the dancers fall into couples. A fifth dance, the dance of the departure of the spirit, is a dramatic representation by three persons of the death of one of them, and of his restoration to life by means of the water of life (this is supposed to be brought from the country which is traversed on the journey to the land of shades). This dance is sometimes given with so much dramatic effect as to move the onlookers to tears.


The Daily Life of a Kayan Long House

A little before dawn the cocks roosting beneath the house awaken the household by their crowing and the flapping of their wings. The pigs begin to grunt and squeal, and the dogs begin to trot to and fro in the gallery. Before the first streaks of daylight appear, the women light the fires in the private rooms or blow up the smouldering embers; then most of them descend from the house, each carrying in a basket slung on her back several bamboo water-vessels to be filled from the river. Many of them bathe at this time in the shallow water beside the bank, while the toilet of others consists in dashing water over their faces, washing their mouths with water, and rubbing their teeth with the forefinger. Returning to the house with their loads of water (Pl. 63), they boil rice for the household breakfasts and for the dinner of those who are to spend the day in the PADI field or the jungle. The boiled rice intended for the latter use is made up in packets wrapped in green leaves, each containing sufficient for a meal for one person. About half-past six, when the daylight is fully come, the pigs expectant of their meal are clamouring loudly for it. The women descend to them by ladders leading from the private rooms, and each gives to the pigs of her household the leavings of the meals of the previous day. About the same time the men begin to bestir themselves sluggishly; some descend to bathe, while others smoke the fag ends of the cigarettes that were unfinished when they fell asleep. Then the men breakfast in their rooms, and not until they are satisfied do the women and children sit down to their meal. During all this time the chronically hungry dogs, attracted by the odours of food, make persistent efforts to get into their owner's rooms. Success in this manoeuvre is almostly always followed by their sudden and noisy reappearance in the gallery, caused by a smart blow with a stick. In the busy farming season parties of men, women, and children will set off in boats for the PADI fields taking their breakfasts with them.

After breakfast the men disperse to their various tasks. During some three or four months of the year all able-bodied persons repair daily to the PADI fields, but during the rest of the year their employments are more varied. The old women and invalids remain all day long in the rooms; the old men lounge all day in the gallery, smoking many home-made cigarettes, and perhaps doing a bit of carving or other light work and keeping an eye on the children. The young children play in and out and about the house, chasing the animals, and dabbling among the boats moored at the bank.

A few of the able-bodied men employ themselves in or about the house, making boats, forging swords, spear-heads, iron hoes, and axes, repairing weapons or implements. Others go in small parties to the jungle to hunt deer and pig, or to gather jungle produce — fruits, rubber, rattans, or bamboos — or spend the day in fishing in the river. During the months of December and January the jungle fruits — the durian, rambutan, mangosteen, lansat, mango, and numerous small sour fruits (Pl. 65) — are much more abundant than at other times; and during these months all other work is neglected, while the people devote themselves to gathering the fruit which forms for a time almost their only food.

Except during the busy PADI season the work of the women is wholly within the house. The heaviest part of their household labour is the preparation of the rice. After breakfast they proceed to spread out PADI on mats on the open platforms adjoining the gallery. While the PADI is being dried by the exposure to sun and wind on these platforms, it must be protected from the domestic fowls by a guardian who, sitting in the gallery, drives them away by means of a long bamboo slung by a cord above the platform. Others fill the time between breakfast and the noonday dinner by bathing themselves and the children in the river, making and repairing clothing, mats, and baskets, fetching more water, cleaning the rooms and preparing dinner. This meal consists of boiled rice with perhaps a piece of fish, pork, or fowl, and, like breakfast and supper, is eaten in the private rooms.

As soon as dinner is over the pounding of the PADI begins (Frontispiece, Vol. II.). Each mortar usually consists of a massive log of timber roughly shaped, and having sunk in its upper surface, which is a little hollowed, a pit about five inches in diameter and nine inches in depth. Into this pit about a quarter of a bushel of PADI is put. Two women stand on the mortar facing one another on either side of the pit, each holding by the middle a large wooden pestle. This is a solid bar of hardwood about seven feet long, about two inches in diameter in the middle third, and some three or four inches in diameter in the rest of its length. The two ends are rounded and polished by use. Each woman raises her pestle to the full height of her reach, and brings it smartly down upon the grain in the pit, the two women striking alternately with a regular rhythm. As each one lifts her pestle, she deftly sweeps back into the pit with her foot the grain scattered by her stroke.

After pounding the PADI for some minutes without interruption, one woman takes a winnowing pan, a mat made in the shape of an English housemaid's dustpan, but rather larger than this article, and receives in it the pounded grain which the other throws out of the pit with her foot.

Both women then kneel upon a large mat laid beside the mortar; the one holding the winnowing pan keeps throwing the grain into the air with a movement which causes the heavier grain to fall to the back of the pan, while the chaff and dust is thrown forward on to the mat. Her companion separates the rice dust from the chaff by sifting it through a sieve. A considerable quantity of the dust or finely broken rice is formed by the pounding in the mortar, and this is the principal food given to the pigs. The winnowed grain is usually returned to the mortar to be put through the whole process a second time. The clean rice thus prepared is ready for the cooking-pot.

The winnowing and sifting is often done by old women, while the younger women continue the severer task of plying the pestle. In the Kayan houses the mortars are in many cases double, that is to say, there are two pits in the one block of timber, and two pairs of women work simultaneously. In the middle of the afternoon the whole house resounds with the vigorous blows of the pestles, for throughout the length of the gallery two or more women are at work beside each room, husking the day's supply of rice for each family.

For the women of all the peoples, except the Punans, the husking of the PADI is a principal feature of the day's work, and is performed in much the same fashion by all. The Kenyahs alone do their work out of doors beside the PADI barns, sometimes under rude lean-to shelters.

When this task is completed the women are covered with dust; they descend again to the river, and bathe themselves and the children once more. They may gather some of the scanty vegetables grown in small enclosures near most of the houses, and then proceed to prepare supper with their rice and whatever food the men may have brought home from the jungle. For now, about an hour before sundown, the men return from expeditions in the jungle, often bringing a wild pig, a monkey, a porcupine, or some jungle fruit, or young shoots of bamboo, as their contribution to the supper table; others return from fishing or from the PADI fields, and during the sunset hour at a large village a constant stream of boats arrives at the landing-place before the house. Most of the home-comers bathe in the river before ascending to the house. This evening bath is taken in more leisurely fashion than the morning dip. A man will strip off his waist-cloth and rush into the water, falling flat on his chest with a great splash. Then standing with the water up to his waist he will souse his head and face, then perhaps swim a few double overhand strokes, his head going under at each stroke. After rubbing himself down with a smooth pebble, he returns to the bank, and having resumed his waist-cloth, he squeezes the water from his hair, picks up his paddle, spear, hat, and other belongings, and ascends to the gallery. There he hangs up his spear by jabbing its point into a roof-beam beside the door of his chamber, and sits down to smoke a cigarette and to relate the events of his day while supper is preparing. As darkness falls, he goes to his room to sup. By the time the women also have supped, the tropical night has fallen, and the house is lit by the fires and by resin torches, and nowadays by a few kerosene lamps. The men gather round the fireplaces in the gallery and discuss politics, the events of the day, the state of the crops and weather, the news obtained by meetings with the people of neighbouring houses, and relate myths and legends, folk-tales and animal stories. The women, having put the children to bed, visit one another's rooms for friendly gossip; and young men drop in to join their parties, accept the proffered cigarette, and discourse the sweet music of the KELURI,[49] the noseflute, and the Jew's harp (Figs. 17, 18, 19). Or Romeo first strikes up his plaintive tune outside the room in which Juliet sits with the women folk. Juliet may respond with a few notes of her guitar[50] (Fig. 20), thus encouraging Romeo to enter and to take his place in the group beside her, where he joins in the conversation or renews his musical efforts. About nine o'clock all retire to bed, save a few old men who sit smoking over the fires far into the night. The dogs, after some final skirmishes and yelpings, subside among the warm ashes of the fireplaces; the pigs emit a final squeal and grunt; and within the house quietness reigns. Now the rushing of the river makes itself heard in the house, mingled with the chirping of innumerable insects and the croaking of a myriad frogs borne in from the surrounding forest. The villagers sleep soundly till cock-crow; but the European guest, lying in the place of honour almost beneath the row of human heads which adorns the gallery, is, if unused to sleeping in a Bornean long house, apt to be wakened from time to time throughout the night by an outburst of dreadful yelpings from the dogs squabbling for the best places among the ashes, by the prolonged fit of coughing of an old man, by an old crone making up the fire, by the goats squealing and scampering over the boats beneath the house, or by some weird cry from the depths of the jungle.

In the old days the peace of the night was occasionally broken an hour before the dawn by the yells of an attacking force, and by the flames roaring up from bundles of shavings thrown beneath the house. But happily attacks of this kind are no longer made, save in some few remoter parts of the interior where the European governments have not yet fully established their authority.

The even tenor of the life of a village is interrupted from time to time by certain festivals or other incidents — the harvest festival; the marriage or the naming of a chiefs son or daughter; the arrival of important guests (one or more chiefs with bands of followers coming to make peace, or nowadays the resident magistrate of the district); the funeral of a chief; the preparations for war or for a long journey to the distant bazaar of Chinese traders in the lower part of the river; the necessity of removing to a new site; an epidemic of disease; the rites of formally consulting the omens, or otherwise communicating with and propitiating the gods; the operations of the soul-catcher. The more important of these incidents will be described in later chapters. Here we need only give a brief account of the way in which some of them affect the daily round of life in the long house.

A visiting chief will remain seated in his boat, while a follower announces his arrival and ascertains that there is no MALAN (TABU) upon the house which would make the presence of visitors unwelcome. Such MALAN affecting the whole house or village obtains during the storing of the PADI for ten consecutive days, during epidemics of sickness in neighbouring villages, and at the time when the preparation of the farm land begins. If a favourable answer is returned, the visitor remains seated in his boat some few minutes longer, and then makes his way into the gallery, followed by most of his men, who leave their spears and shields in the boats. If the visitor is an intimate friend, the chief of the house will send a son or brother to welcome him, or will even go himself. Arrived in the gallery, the visitor advances to the central platform where the chief of the house awaits him, unstrings his sword from his waist, hangs it upon any convenient hook, and sits down beside his host; while his men, following his example, seat themselves with the men of the house in a semicircle facing the two chiefs. The followers may greet, and even embrace, or grasp by the forearm, their personal friends; but the demeanour of the chief's is more formal. Neither one utters a word or glances at the other for some few minutes; the host remains seated, fidgeting with a cigarette and gazing upon the floor; the visitor sitting beside him looks stolidly over the heads of his followers, and perhaps clears his throat or coughs. Presently a woman thrusts into the semicircle a tray of freshly made cigarettes. One of the men of the house pushes it forward towards the principal visitor, who makes a sign of acceptance by lightly touching the tray; the other, crouching on his heels, lights a cigarette with an ember from the fire, blowing it into a glow as he waddles up to present it to the visiting chief. The latter takes it, but usually allows it to go out. By this time the chief of the house is ready to open the conversation, and, after clearing his throat, suddenly throws out a question, usually, "Where did you start from to-day?" The embarrassing silence thus broken, question and answer are freely exchanged, the cigarette of the visitor is again lighted at the fire by a member of the household, and conversation becomes general. Not infrequently the host, becoming more and more friendly, throws an arm across his guest's shoulders or strokes him endearingly with the palm of his hand.

In the meantime the women are busy preparing a meal, a pig having been killed and hastily cut up. When it is ready, the visitors, if old friends, are invited to partake of it in the chief's room. But if they are not familiar acquaintances, the meal is spread for them in the gallery on platters placed in a long row, one for each guest; each platter containing many cubes of hot boiled pork and two packets of hot boiled rice wrapped in leaves. The space is surrounded with a slight bamboo fence to keep away the dogs. In either case the visitors eat alone, their hosts retiring until the meal is finished. As the chief's wife retires, she says, "Eat slowly, my children, our food is poor stuff. There is no pork, no fish, nothing that is good." Before withdrawing, one of the people of the house pours a little water from a bamboo vessel on the right hand of the visiting chief, who then passes on the vessel to his followers. With the hand thus cleansed each guest conveys the food to his mouth, dipping his pieces of pork in coarse salt placed in a leaf beside his platter; and when he has finished eating, he drinks water from a bamboo vessel. The chief, and perhaps also one or more of his upper-class companions, leaves a little of the pork and a little rice on the platter to show that he is not greedy or ravenous; and his good breeding prompts him to prove his satisfaction with the meal by belching up a quantity of wind with a loud and prolonged noise, which is echoed by his followers to the best of their ability. After thus publicly expressing his appreciation of his host's hospitality, he rinses out his mouth, squirting out the water towards the nearest gap between the floor boards, rubs his teeth with his forefinger, again rinses his mouth, and washes his hand. Then relighting his cigarette, which he has kept behind his ear or thrust through the hole in its shell, he rejoins his host, who awaits him on the dais.

On such an occasion, and in fact on any other occasion suggestive of festivity, the evening is enlivened with oratory, song, and drink. After supper the men gather together about the chiefs, sitting in close-set ranks on and before the dais. At a hint from the chief a jar of BURAK (rice-spirit) is brought into the circle. This may be the property of the chief or of any one of the principal men, who, by voluntarily contributing in this way towards the entertainment of the guests, maintains the honour of the house and of its chief. A little is poured into a cup and handed to the house-chief, who first makes a libation to the omen-birds and to all the other friendly spiritual powers, by pouring a little on to the ground through some crevice of the floor, or by throwing a few drops out under the eaves, saying, as he does so, "Ho, all you friendly spirits." Then he drinks a little and hands back the cup to the young man who has taken charge of the jar of spirit. The latter, remaining crouched upon his heels, ladles out another cupful of spirit and offers it in both hands to the principal guest, who drinks it off, and expresses by a grunt and a smack of the lips, and perhaps a shiver, his appreciation of its quality. The cup is handed in similar formal fashion to each of the principal guests in turn; and then more cups are brought into use, and the circulation of the drink becomes more rapid and informal. As soon as each man has had a drink, the house-chief rises to his feet and, addressing himself to his guest, expatiates upon his admirable qualities, and expresses eloquently the pleasure felt by himself and his people at this visit. Then speaking in parables and in indirect fashion, claiming perhaps indulgence on the ground that he is merely talking in his sleep, he touches upon local politics at first delicately; then warming up he speaks more directly and plainly. He may become much excited and gesticulate freely, even leaping into the air and twirling round on one foot with outstretched right arm in a fashion that directs his remarks to each and all of the listening circle; but, even though he may find occasion to admonish or reproach, or even hint at a threat, his speech never transgresses the strictest bounds of courtesy. Having thus unburdened himself of whatever thoughts and emotions are evoked by the occasion, he takes from the attendant Ganymede a bumper cup of spirit and breaks into song. Standing before his guest and swinging the cup repeatedly almost to his (the guest's) lips, he exhorts him in complimentary and rhyming phrases to accept his remarks in a friendly spirit, and reminds him of the age and strength of their family and tribal relations, referring to their ancestral glories and the proud position in the world of their common race. At the end of each sentence all the men of both parties break out into a loud chorus, repeating the last word or two in deep long-drawn-out musical cadence. Then, with the last words of his extemporised song, the chief yields up the cup to the expectant guest, who, having sat rigidly and with fixed gaze throughout the address, takes it in one long draught, while the chorus swells to a deep, musical roar. At this moment the circle of auditors, if much excited, will spring to their feet and swell the noise by stamping and jumping on the resounding planks. The house-chief smilingly strokes his guest from the shoulder downwards and resumes his seat. The chorus and commotion die away, and are followed by a moment of silence, during which the guest prepares to make his reply in similar fashion. He rises and begins by naming and lightly touching or pointing to his host and other of the principal men present. Then he makes acknowledgment of the kind and flattering reception accorded him, and his pleasure at finding this opportunity of improving the understanding between himself and his hosts. "The views so eloquently expressed by my friend (naming him and using some complimentary title, E.G. brother or father) are no doubt correct. Indeed, how could it be otherwise? But I have been told so and so, and perhaps it may be, ..." and so he goes on to state his own views, taking care to shift the responsibility for any remaining dissension on to the shoulders of some distant third party. He congratulates all parties on this free discussion of matters of common interest, and with free gesticulation exhorts them to turn a deaf ear to vague rumours and to maintain friendly relations. Then, dropping down beside his host, he says "Take no notice of what I have said, I am drunk." Ganymede again approaches him with a bumper cup, and then rising to his feet and calling on his men, he addresses his host in complimentary song and chorus, using the gestures and expressions peculiar to his own people. The song culminates as before in a general chorus, long drawn out, while the house-chief drains the cup.

The cups then circulate freely, and the smoking of cigarettes is general; other shorter speeches may be made, perhaps by the sons or brothers of the chiefs. As the evening wears away, both guests and hosts become increasingly boisterous and affectionate; but few or none on an occasion of this sort become intoxicated or quarrelsome. If a man becomes a little too boisterous, he is led away to one of the sleeping platforms in the gallery, and kept there until he falls asleep.

During an evening of this sort the women congregate in the adjacent rooms, where they can overhear the proceedings; and if they find these exceptionally interesting, they will congregate about the doors, but will strictly abstain from interfering with, them in any way. The flow of speech and song and conversation goes on uninterruptedly, except when the occasional intrusion into the circle of some irrepressible dog necessitates its violent expulsion; until, as midnight approaches, the men drop away from the circle by twos and threes, the circle being finally broken up when the visiting chief expresses a desire to sleep. Each guest spreads his own mat on the platform assigned to the party, and the men of the house retire to their rooms.

We will not conclude this chapter without stating that among the Kayans, Kenyahs, and most of the Klemantans, alcoholic intoxication is by no means common. At great feasts, such as are made at the close of the harvest or on the return of a successful war-party, much BORAK is drunk, the women joining in, and a few of the men will usually become quite drunk; but most of them will hardly go further than a state of boisterous jollity.

Although in a year of good PADI harvest each family constantly renews its supply of BORAK, yet the spirit is never drunk in private, but only on festive occasions of the kind described above, or when a man entertains a small party of friends in his own chamber.

The account given above of the reception and entertainment of guests would apply with but little modification to the houses of the Kenyahs and Klemantans. In the Sea Dayak house the reception and entertainment of guests is less ceremonious, and is carried out by the unorganised efforts of individuals, rather than by the household as a whole with the chief at its head. On the arrival of a party of visitors, the people of each room clamorously invite the guests to sit down before their chamber. The guests thus become scattered through the house. First they are offered betel nut and sirih leaf smeared with lime to chew, for among the Sea Dayaks this chewing takes the place of the smoking of cigarettes which is common to all the others; and they are then fed and entertained individually, or by twos and threes, in various rooms. No pig is killed or rice-spirit offered, though possibly a toasted bat or bit of salted wild pig will be served as a relish.

At great feasts the Sea Dayaks drink more freely than the other peoples, except the Muruts. Men and women alike drink deeply, and many become intoxicated. The men take pride in drinking the largest possible quantity; and when the stomach is filled, will vomit up large quantities, and then at once drink more, the women pressing it upon them. The Dayaks and Muruts alone thus sink in the matter of drink to the level of those highly cultured Europeans among whom a similar habit obtains: while among all the other tribes strong drink is seldom or never abused, but rather is put only to its proper use, the promotion of good fellowship and social gaiety.


Life on the Rivers

With the exception of the Punans and some of the Muruts who inhabit the few regions devoid of navigable streams, all the peoples of Borneo make great use of the rivers. The main rivers and their principal branches are their great highways, and even the smallest tributary streams are used for gaining access to their PADI fields. It is only when hunting or gathering jungle produce that they leave the rivers. Occasionally PADI is cultivated at a distance of a mile or more from the nearest navigable stream, and a rough pathway is then made between the field and the nearest point of the river. Here and there also jungle paths are made connecting points where neighbouring rivers or their navigable tributaries approach closely to one another. In the flat country near the coast, where waterways are less abundant than in the interior, jungle tracks are more used for communication between villages. Where a route crosses a jungle swamp, large trees are felled in such a way that their stems lie as nearly as possible end to end. Their ends are connected if necessary by laying smaller logs from one to the other. In this way is formed a rude slippery viaduct on which it is possible for an agile and bare-footed man to walk in safety across swamps many miles in extent.

But the jungle paths are only used when it is impossible to reach the desired point by boat, or if the waterway is very circuitous. On the lower and deeper reaches of the rivers the paddle is the universal instrument of propulsion. It is used without any kind of rowlock — the one hand, grasping the handle a little above the blade, draws the blade backwards through the water; the other hand, grasping the T-shaped upper end, thrusts it forward. The lower hand thus serves as a fulcrum for the other.

A small boat may be propelled by a single rower, who, sitting at the stern, uses the paddle on one side only, and keeps the boat straight by turning the paddle as he finishes his stroke. In a boat of medium size one man seated at the stern devotes himself to steering with his paddle, although here and there among the coast-people a fixed rudder is used. In a war boat of the largest size, the two men occupying the bow-bench and the four men on the two stern-most benches are responsible for the steering; the former pull the bow over, or lever it in the opposite direction.

During a day's journey the crew of a boat will from time-to-time lighten their labour with song, one man singing, the others joining in the chorus; and if several boats are travelling in company the crews will from time to time spurt and strive to pass one another in good-humoured rivalry. At such times each crew may break out into a deep-pitched and musical roar, the triumphal chorus of a victorious war party.

In the upper reaches of the rivers there are numerous rapids, and here and there actual falls. The boat is usually propelled up a rapid by poling. Each member of the crew has beside him a stout pole some eight or nine feet long; and when the boat approaches a rapid, the crew at a shout from the captain, usually the steersman, spring to their feet, dropping their paddles and seizing their poles. Thrusting these against the stony bottom in perfect unison, the crew swings the boat up through the rushing water with a very pleasant motion. If the current proves too strong and the boat makes no progress, or if the water is too shallow, three or four men, or, if necessary, the whole crew, spring into the water and, seizing the boat by the gunwale, drag it upstream till quieter water is reached. It is necessary for a man or boy to bale out the water that constantly enters over the gunwale while the boat makes the passage of a rapid. All through these exciting operations the captain directs and admonishes his men unremittingly, hurling at them expressions of a strength that would astonish a crew on the waters of the Cam or Isis: "Matei tadjin selin" (may you die the most awful death) is one of the favourite phrases. These provoke no resentment, but merely stimulate the crew to greater exertions.

Sometimes, when much water is coming down after heavy rains, the current is so swift in deep places that neither paddling, poling, nor wading is possible. Then three or four men are landed on the bank, or on the boughs of the trees, and haul on the boat with long rattans, scrambling over rocks and through the jungle as best they can.

The passage down stream in the upper reaches of a river is even more exciting and pleasurable. The crew paddles sufficiently to keep good steerage way on the boat, as it glides swiftly between the rocks and shallows; as it shoots over the rapids, the steersman stands up to choose his path, the water splashes and gurgles and leaps over the gunwale, and the men break out into song. The smaller waterfalls do not check its onward rush; as the boat approaches a fall, several men near the bow stand up to see if there is sufficient water; then, as they resume their seats, all paddle with might and main until the boat takes the leap. Occasionally a boat is upset during such an attempt, and rarely one or two of the crew are lost through being hurled against rocks and drowned while stunned.

In making a long journey the nights are passed if possible in friendly villages. When no such village can be reached, the night is passed either in the boats moored to the bank or on the river-bank. In the former case the leaf mats, of which each man carries at least one in his basket, are used to roof the boat; in the latter case a rude hut is quickly built, a framework of saplings lashed together, roofed with the mats, and floored at a level of some feet above the ground with bamboos or slender saplings. On camping in the evening and before starting in the morning, rice is cooked and eaten; and about mid-day the journey is interrupted for about an hour while the party lands on the bank, or, if possible, on a bed of pebbles, to rest and to cook and eat the midday meal.


Fish are caught in the rivers in several ways, and form an important part of the diet of most of the peoples. Perhaps the cast net is most commonly used. This is a net which, when fully extended in the water, covers a circular patch about six yards in diameter, while its central part rises in a steep cone, to the peak of which a strong cord is tied. The main strands run radially from this central point, increasing in number towards the periphery. They are crossed by concentric strands. The periphery is weighted with bits of metal or stone. This net is used both in deep and in shallow water. In the former case one man steers and paddles a boat, while the other stands at the prow with the cord of the net wound about the right hand. The bulk of the net is gathered up on his right arm, the free end is held in the left hand. Choosing a still pool some two fathoms in depth, he throws a stone into the water a little ahead of the boat, in the expectation that the fish will congregate about the spot as they do when fruit falls from the trees on the banks. Then, as the boat approaches the spot he deftly flings the net so that it falls spread out upon the surface; its weighted edge then sinks rapidly to the bottom, enclosing any fish that may be beneath the net. If only small fish are enclosed, the net is twisted as it is drawn up, the fish becoming entangled in its meshes, and in pockets formed about its lower border. If a large fish is enclosed, the steersman will dive overboard and seize the lower part of the net so as to secure the fish.

Or the boat is paddled to the foot of a small rapid; the fisherman springs out and runs to the head of the rapid, and casts his net in the still water immediately above it where fish frequently congregate.

Or a party takes the same net to the mouth of a small tributary, and, while some hold the net so as to block the mouth almost completely, others run through the jungle to a point some hundred yards up the stream, and then drive down the fish by wading down stream splashing and shouting. As soon as a number of fish come down against the net its upper border is thrown down so as to enclose them.

Another net, made quite flat and some fifteen yards long by four feet wide, is suspended by wooden floats across a small river so that the fish may become entangled in its meshes.

Another net is used only by the women. In shape it is like a deep basin; its wide mouth is attached to a stout circle of rattan, and a wooden bar is tied across the mouth to serve as handle. With this the women catch the sucker fish in the shallow rapids, one turning up stones, the other catching in the net the fish that dart from beneath them.

Yet another mode of netting fish is to suspend a square of net attached by its corners to the ends of two crossed and downward bending sticks. The net is suspended by cords from its corners to the end of a long bamboo, which rests upon a post about its middle. The fisherman lowers the net into the water by raising the landward end of the bamboo lever, and when he sees fish swimming above it, attracted by a bait, he suddenly depresses his end of the bamboo, so as to bring the net quickly above the surface. On the coast drag nets are used.

The SELAMBO is used in small streams where fish are abundant. A fence of upright bamboos is built out from either bank, starting at opposite points and converging down stream to two points near the middle of the stream and about seven feet apart; where each terminates a stout pole is driven firmly into the bed of the river. These two poles are connected by a stout cross-piece lashed to them a little above the level of the water. The cross-piece forms a fulcrum for a pair of long poles joined together with cross-pieces, in such a way that their downstream ends almost meet, while up stream they diverge widely. They rest upon the fulcrum at a point about one-third of their length from their downstream ends. Between the widely divergent parts up stream from the fulcrum a net is loosely stretched. The net lies submerged until fish coming down stream are directed on to the net by the convergent fences. The fisherman stands on a rude platform grasping the handle-end, and, feeling the contacts of the fishes with the net, throws his weight upon the handle, so bringing the net quickly above the surface. Beside him he has a large cage of bamboo standing in the water, into which the fish are allowed to slide from the elevated net.

A rod and line and baited hook are also in common use. The Kayans make a hook of stout brass wire, cutting a single barb. The Kenyahs use a hook made of rattan thorns. A strip is cut from the surface of a rattan bearing two thorns about an inch apart; this is bent at its middle so that the cut surfaces of the two halves are brought into opposition, and the thorns, facing outward opposite one another, form the barbs. The line is tied to the bend, and the bait is placed over the tip projecting beyond the thorns. When the fish takes the hook into his mouth and swallows the bait, the barbs being released spring outward and secure the fish.

A rough kind of spoon bait is also used with rod and line.

Fish are taken also in traps. The most generally used is the BUBU. This varies in length from eighteen inches to eight feet or even more. The body of the trap is a conical cage of bamboo. From the wide mouth of the cone a second smaller flatter cone passes upwards within the outer one; the slender bamboo strips of which it is made come almost together in the centre, their inner ends being free and pliable. This is fixed beside the bank, its mouth turned down stream, and a few stakes are driven into the bed of the river to guide the fish into the mouth; or it may be laid in shallow water, two barriers of stones converging to its mouth. The fish working up stream pass in at the mouth, and, when they have passed the inner lips, cannot easily pass out again.

A still simpler trap consists merely of a long slender cone of bamboo strips. The fish entering the mouth and passing up to the confined space of the other end become wedged fast in it.

A Sea Dayak trap found in the south-west of Borneo is a cylindrical cage of bamboo attached to a pole driven vertically into the bed of the river. (Fig. 21). At one side of the cage is a circular aperture. Into this fits a section of bamboo, the end of which within the cage is cut into longitudinal strips that are made to converge, forming a cone, through the apex of which the fish can push his way into the cage, but which prevents his return. It is an application of the same valve principle as that used in the trap first described above.

A larger trap is the KILONG, which is used in the lower reaches of the rivers and also on the coast. It consists of a fence of stakes running out from the bank or shore into water some two fathoms in depth. The free end of the fence is wound in a spiral of about two turns. One or two gates are made between the outer and the inner chambers of the spiral on the side nearest to the bank or shore, and are left open when the trap is set. The fish, finding themselves confined by the fence, make for deeper water, and, entering the central chamber, do not readily return. The fisherman then closes the gate and takes out the fish with a landing net.

A prawn trap consists of a cylinder of heavy bark. One end is closed with a conical valve of bamboo strips like that of the two traps described above; the other flattened end is hinged to open for the extraction of the catch. The trap is baited with decaying cocoanut and thrown into the river with a long rattan attached to it and tied to a pole; the trap sinks to the bottom and is examined from time to time.

Tuba Fishing

Fish are caught on the largest scale by poisoning the water with the juice of the root of the tuba plant. This is usually practised in the smaller rivers at times of slack water, all the people of a village co-operating. The TUBA plant is cultivated in patches on the PADI fields. Pieces of the roots are cut off without destroying the plants. When a large quantity has been gathered, a fence is built across the river at the spot chosen, and big BUBU traps are let into it facing up stream. Then all the available small boats are manned and brought into the reaches of the river extending about a mile above the fence. Each boat carries a supply of tuba root, which the people bruise by pounding it with wooden clubs against stumps and rocks on the bank or against the side of the boat. Water is thrown into the bottom of the boat and the pounded root is rinsed in the water, pounded again, and again rinsed, until all its poisonous juice is extracted. The water in all the boats, become milky with the juice, is poured at a given signal into the river, either by baling or by overturning the boats. After some twenty minutes the fish begin to rise to the surface and rush wildly to and fro. In the meantime the boats have been put to rights, and now begin to pursue the fish, the men armed with fish-spears, the women with landing-nets. The sport goes on for several hours. Some men armed with clubs stand upon a platform which slopes up at a low angle out of the water and rests upon the fence. Big fish come leaping upon this platform and are clubbed by the men, who have to exert their agility to avoid the spikes with which some of the fish are armed. Large quantities of fish are sometimes taken in this way; what cannot be eaten fresh are dried and smoked over the fires in the house.

While the TUBA fishing is being arranged and the preparations are going forward, great care is taken to avoid mentioning the word TUBA, and all references to the fish are made in oblique phrases, such as "The leaves (I.E. the fishes) can't float over this fence." This precaution is observed because it is believed that the birds and the bats can understand human speech, and may, if they overhear remarks about the preparations, give warning to their friends the fish, whose magician[51] (a bony fish called BELIRA), will then make rain, and, by thus swelling the river, prevent the successful poisoning of the water.

Tickling is also practised with success, the men standing in the edge of a lake among the grass and sedges, where the fish seek cooler water in the heat of the day.

All the methods of taking fish described above are practised by most of the peoples, except of course the use of the drag-net in the sea.

The crocodiles, which are numerous in the lower reaches of the rivers, are not hunted or attacked, save on provocation, by any of the peoples of Borneo except the Malays.[52] Occasionally a bather is seized by one of them while in the water or standing on a log floating in deep water; and more rarely a person is dragged out of a small boat, while drifting quietly on deep water at evening. If men and boats are at hand they turn out promptly to attack the crocodile, if it rises to the surface; but there is small chance of rescue. If the victim has sufficient presence of mind and strength to thrust his thumbs against the eyes of the reptile it may release him, escape in this way is not unknown. In the case of a fatal issue, the men of the village turn out to avenge the outrage, and, in the case of the seizure of an important person, those of neighbouring villages will join them. All available boats are manned by men armed with spears, some of which are lashed to the ends of long poles. Congregating in their boats near the scene of the disaster, the men prod the bed of the river with their spears, working systematically up and down river and up the small side streams. In this way they succeed in stabbing some of the reptiles; and in this case, though they usually do not rise to the surface, their bodies are found after some days in the creeks, death having ensued from the inflammation set up in the wounds. The wound caused by a spear-thrust would seldom be fatal to the crocodile, but that the wound is liable to the perpetual assaults of smaller creatures — fish while he is in the water, flies when he lies on the bank. These irritate and extend the wound. The stomachs of those crocodiles that are captured are opened in search of traces of the person taken, traces which usually remain there for some time in the shape of hair or ornaments. If no trace is found the people's vengeance is not satisfied, and they set baited hooks, or pay Malays to do so, partly because the Malays are experts and claim to have potent charms to bring the offender to the hook, partly because a Kayan does not care to take upon himself the individual responsibility of catching a crocodile, though he does not shrink from the collective pursuit. The decaying body of a fowl, monkey, or other animal (Malays sometimes use a living dog) is bound to a strong bar of hard-wood, sharpened at both ends and some fifteen inches in length. A number of small rattans are tied to the bar about its middle, their other ends being made fast to a log. This arrangement is allowed to float down river; if it does not float freely, the crocodile will not take the bait. When a crocodile rises to the bait and swallows it, the bar gets fixed cross-wise in his gullet as he pulls on the rattans. The hunters, having kept the log in sight, then attach the ends of the rattans to the boat, tow the reptile to the bank, and haul him up on dry land. They secure his tail and feet with nooses, which they lash to a pole laid along his back, and lash his jaws together. Throughout these operations the crocodile is addressed deferentially as LAKI (grandfather). He is then left exposed to the sun, when he soon dies; in this way the people avoid the risks attaching to slaying the crocodile with their own hands.


Life in the Jungle

All the peoples of Borneo support themselves in part by hunting and trapping the wild creatures of the jungle, but for the Punans alone is the chase the principal source of food-supply; the various natural products of the jungle are, with the exception of cultivated sago in some few regions, their only marketable commodities.


The wild pig (SUS BARBATUS[53]) is the principal object of the chase, but deer of several species are also hunted and trapped. The largest of these (CERVUS EQUINUS) is rather bigger than the English fallow deer; the smallest is plandok, or mouse deer (TRAGULUS NAPU and T. JAVANICUS), standing only about eight inches at the shoulder; intermediate in size is the muntjac (CERVULUS MUNTJAC). There are also small herds of wild cattle (BOS SONDAICUS), a small rhinoceros (R. SUMATRANUS), large lizards (VARANUS), various apes and monkeys, and a large porcupine (HESTRIX CRASSISPINUS), and several small mammals, such as otters (LUTRA), bear-cats (ARCTICTIS), and civet cats (PARADOAURUS) of various species, all of which are hunted for their flesh, as well as several birds. The tiger-cat (FELIS NEBULOSA) and the bear (URSUS MALAYANUS) are hunted for their skins and teeth, and the dried gall-bladder of the bear is sold for medicine.

The pig and deer are most commonly hunted on foot by a party of several men with a pack of four or five dogs. The dogs, having found the trail, chase the pig until he turns on them. The dogs then surround the pig, barking and yelping, and keep it at bay till the men run up and despatch it with their spears. Both men and dogs sometimes get severely bitten and torn by the tusks. During the fruit season the pigs migrate in large herds and cross the rivers at certain places well known to the hunters. The people lie in wait for them in little huts built on the banks, and kill them from their boats as they swim across.

Kenyahs and Klemantans sometimes catch deer by driving them into a JARING. This consists of a strong rope of plaited rattans stretched in a straight line across the jungle, from tree to tree, some five feet above the ground. It is generally laid so as to complete the enclosure of an area that is almost surrounded by the river. Dependent from the whole length of the rattan rope is a series of running nooses also of rattan, each of which, overlapping its neighbours on both sides, forms a loop about two feet in diameter. Men armed with spears are stationed along the JARING, at short intervals, and the rest of the party with the dogs beat the jungle driving any deer in the enclosed space headlong towards the JARING. Some of the deer may escape, but some will usually run their heads into the nooses and fall victims to the spears of the watchers. Both pig and deer are sometimes brought down with the blow-pipe, especially by the Punans, whose favourite weapon it is.

The wild cattle are very wary and dangerous to attack. They sometimes take to the water and are then easily secured. Punans, who hunt without dogs (which in fact they do not possess) will lie in wait for the rhinoceros beside the track by which he comes to his daily mud-bath, and drive a spear into his flank or shoulder; then, after hastily retiring, they track him through the jungle, until they come upon him again, and find an opportunity of driving in another spear or a poisoned dart through some weak spot of his armour.

Birds and monkeys are chiefly killed with the blow-pipe.


Traps of many varieties are made. For pig and deer a trap is laid at a gap in the fence about the PADI field. It consists of a bamboo spear of which the end is sharpened and hardened in the fire. This is laid horizontally about two feet from the ground, resting on guides. Its butt end is lashed to one end of a springy green pole at right angles to its length; the pole is laid horizontally, one end of it being firmly fixed to a tree, and the other (that carrying the spear) bent forcibly backwards and held back by a loop of rattan. This spring is set by means of an ingenious trigger, in such a way that an animal passing through the gap must push against a string attached to the trigger, and so release the spring, which then drives the bamboo spear across the gap with great force. (The drawing (Fig. 22) Will make clear the nature of the trigger.)

In one variety of this trap the spring is set vertically. The trap is varied in other ways. A curious practice of the Ibans on setting such a trap is to measure the appropriate height of the spear by means of a rod surmounted with a carving of a human figure (Fig. 23).

Of many ingenious traps for small animals the JERAT is the most widely used (see Fig. 24 and Pl. 85). A rude fence some hundreds of yards, in some cases as much as a mile, in length, is made by filling up with sticks and brushwood the spaces between the trees and undergrowth of the jungle. At intervals of ten or twenty yards narrow gaps are left, and in each of these a JERAT is set to catch the small creatures that, in wandering through the jungle and finding their course obstructed by the fence, seek to pass through the gaps. The gap is floored with a small platform of light sticks, six to eight inches long, laid across it parallel to one another in the line of the fence. The ends of these are supported at one side of the gap, about two inches above the ground, by a cross-stick lying at right angles to them. This stick in turn is supported about one inch above the ground in the following way: the two ends of a green stick are thrust firmly into the ground forming an arch over the end of the platform, and the extremities of the cross-stick are in contact with the pillars of the arch, and kept a little above the ground by being pulled against them by the spring trigger. This consists of a short stick attached by a cord to a strong springy pole thrust vertically into the ground. To set the trigger it is pulled down, bending the pole, and passed under the arch from the platform side outwards; the upper end of the trigger is then kept by the pull of the cord against the curve of the arch, and its lower end is pulled against the middle of the cross-stick. The pressure being maintained by the tension of the cord, this end of the platform is supported by the friction between the trigger and the cross-stick. The cord is prolonged beyond the trigger in a slip noose which lies open on the platform completely across the gap, so that any small animal entering the gap, and stepping upon the platform, necessarily places its feet within the goose. A few leaves are laid on the platform and cord to disguise them. When, then, a pheasant or other creature of appropriate size and weight steps on the platform, its weight causes the cross-stick to slip down from the hold of the trigger, and this, being released, is violently jerked with the noose into the air by the elastic reaction of the bent pole; in a large proportion of cases the noose catches the victim's feet and jerks him into the air, where he dangles by the feet till the arrival of the trapper, who visits his traps twice a day.

Another very curious and strikingly simple plan is employed by the Sea Dayaks for catching the Argus pheasant, whose beautiful wing feathers are highly valued. The cock-birds congregate at certain spots in the jungle, where they display their feathers and fight together. These spots they clear of all obstacles, pulling and pushing away sticks and leaves with their heads and necks, as well as scratching with their feet. The Dayaks, taking advantage of this habit, thrust vertically into the ground slips of bamboo, the edges of which are hardened in the fire and rendered very sharp. In the course of their efforts to remove these obstructions, the birds not infrequently inflict serious wounds about their necks, and weakened by loss of blood, are found by the Dayaks at no great distance from the fighting ground.

Traps of many other kinds are made for animals both large and small, especially by the. Sea Dayaks, who use traps more frequently than the other peoples. Our few descriptions will serve to illustrate the ingenuity displayed, the complexity of the mechanical principles involved in some of them, and the extreme simplicity of others. Previous writers have described many of these in detail, and we content ourselves with referring the curious reader to their accounts.[54]

The Klemantans and some of the Kenyahs catch a small ground pigeon (CHALCOPHAPS INDICA) in large numbers by the aid of a pipe or whistle, by blowing softly on which the cooing notes of the bird are closely imitated. The instrument consists of a piece of large bamboo closed at one end and having a small hole about its middle (Fig. 25). The hunter, concealed behind a screen of leafy branches, blows across this hole through a long slender tube of bamboo; and when a bird approaches the whistle, he slips over its head a fine noose attached to the end of a light bamboo and, drawing it behind the screen, puts it alive into a cage.

Small parrots are sometimes caught with bird-lime, made with the juice of a rubber-tree.

The Gathering of Jungle Produce

The principal natural products gathered by the people in addition to the edible fruits are, gutta-percha, rubber, camphor, various rattans, beeswax and honey, vegetable tallow, wild sago, damar-resin from various trees, and the edible birds' nests.

Small parties of men and boys go out into the jungle in search of these things, sometimes travelling many days up river before striking into the jungle; for it is only in the drier upland forests that such expeditions can be undertaken with advantage. The party may remain several weeks or months from home. They carry with them a supply of rice, salt, and tobacco, cooking-pots and matches, a change of raiment, spears, swords, shields, blowpipes, and perhaps two or three dogs. On striking into the jungle, they drag their boat on to the bank and leave it hidden in thick undergrowth. While in the jungle they camp in rude shelters roofed with their leaf mats and with palm leaves, moving camp from time to time. They vary their labours and supplement their food-supply by hunting and trapping. Such an expedition is generally regarded as highly enjoyable as well as profitable. As in camping-parties in other parts of the world, the cooking is generally regarded as a nuisance to be shirked if possible. The Sea Dayaks indulge in these expeditions more frequently than others, and such parties of them may often be found at great distances from their homes. In the course of such long excursions they not infrequently penetrate into the regions inhabited by other tribes, and many troubles have had their origin in the truculent behaviour of such parties. Such parties of Sea Dayaks have been known to accept the hospitality of unsuspecting and inoffensive Klemantans, and to outrage every law of decency by taking the heads of old men, women, and children during the absence of their natural defenders.

Valuable varieties of gutta-percha are obtained from trees of more than a score of species. The best is known as Kayan gutta, because it is gathered and sent to the bazaars by the Kayans in a pure form. The trees are felled and the stem and branches are ringed at intervals of about eighteen inches, a narrow strip of bark being removed at each ring. The milky viscid sap drips out into leaf-cups, which are then emptied into a cylindrical vessel of bark. Water is then boiled in a large pan beside the tree, a little common salt is added to the water, and the gutta is poured into the boiling water, when it rapidly congeals. Then, while still in a semiviscid state, it is kneaded with the feet and pressed into a shallow wooden frame, which in turn is compressed between two planks. In this way it is moulded into a slab about one and a half inches thick, about a foot long, and about six inches across at one end, two inches across at the other. While it is still warm a hole is pierced through the narrower end; and the slab is then thrown into cold water, where it sets hard. In this form it reaches the market at Singapore, where it is valued at about five hundred dollars ([pound sterling]50) the hundredweight.

Gutta of an inferior quality is obtained in large quantities by tapping a large tree (JELUTONG) which grows abundantly in the low-lying jungles.

The best rubber, known as PULUT by the Kayans, is obtained by them from a creeper, the stem of which grows to a length of fifty to a hundred feet and a diameter of six inches or more. It bears a brilliant red luscious fruit which is eaten by the people; its seeds being swallowed become distributed in this way. The Punans carefully sow the seed they have swallowed, and transplant the young seedlings to the most suitable positions. The milky juice of the creeper is gathered and treated in much the same way as the gutta. It is rolled up while hot into spherical lumps, each of which is pierced with a hole for convenient transportation.

Camphor is formed in the crevices of the sterns of old trees of the species DRYOBALANOPS AROMATICA, when the heart is decayed leaving a central hollow. The tree is cut down, the stem split up, and the crystalline scales of pure camphor are shaken out on to mats. It is then made up in little bundles wrapped in palm leaves. The large-flaked camphor fetches as much as [pound sterling]6 a pound in the Chinese bazaar. Special precautions are observed by men in search of camphor. A party of Kayans, setting out to seek camphor, commonly gets the help of Punans, who are acknowledged experts in this business. Omens are taken before setting out, and the party will not start until favourable omens have been observed. The party is LALI from the time of beginning these operations. They will speak to no one outside the party, and will speak no word of Malay to one another; and it is considered that they are more likely to be successful if they confine themselves to the use of a peculiar language which seems to be a conventional perversion of the Punan speech.

On entering a small river the party stretches a rattan across its mouth; and, where they leave the river, they erect on the bank a pole or frayed stick.[55] Other persons seeing such sticks set up will understand and respect the party's desire for privacy. They then march through the jungle to the place where they expect to find a group of camphor trees, marking their path by bending the ends of twigs at certain intervals in the direction in which the party is moving. Having found a likely tree they cut into the stem with a small long-bladed axe, making a deep small hole. An expert, generally a Punan, then smells the hole and gives an opinion as to the chances of finding camphor within it. If he gives a favourable opinion, the tree is cut down and broken in pieces as described above. On cutting down the tree, an oil which smells strongly of camphor sometimes pours out and is collected. The party remains LALI until the collection of the camphor is completed; no stranger may enter their hut or speak with them. The practice of collecting camphor in this way is probably a very ancient one,[56] whereas the collection of gutta and rubber has been undertaken only in recent years in response to the demands of the European market.

Many varieties of the rattan palm grow luxuriantly in the forests of Borneo, some attaining a length of 150 to 200 feet. It is a creeper which makes its way towards the light, suspending itself to branches and twigs by means of the curved spines which prolong the midribs of the leaves. The cane is collected by cutting through the stem near its root, and hauling on it, several men combining their t'efforts. The piece cut down is dragged through the jungle to the river-bank. There it is cut into lengths of fifteen feet, I.E. two and a half spans, and dried in the sun. If the sap is thoroughly dried out, the cane assumes a permanent yellow colour; but if any is left, the cane darkens when soaked in water. When a large number of bundles has been collected, they are bound together to form a raft. On this a hut is erected, and two or three men will navigate the raft down river to the Chinese bazaar, which is to be found in the lower part of every large river.

The small yellow fruit of the rattan is gathered in large quantities and subjected to prolonged boiling. The fluid becomes of a bright crimson colour; this, boiled down till it has the consistency of beeswax, is known as dragon's blood, and is used by the people as a colouring matter and also exported for the same purpose.

Honey and beeswax are found in nests which are suspended by the wild bee from high branches of the MINGRIS (COOMPASSIA) and TAPANG (ARBOURIA) trees, sometimes many nests on one tree. To reach the nest the men climb the tree by the aid of a ladder somewhat in the fashion of a steeple-jack. A large number of sharpened pegs of ironwood are driven into the softer outer layers of the stem in a vertical row about two feet apart, and bamboos are lashed in a single vertical row to the pegs and to one another and to the lower branches. The ladder is built up until at some sixty or eighty feet from the ground it reaches a branch bearing a nest. The taking of the nests is usually accomplished after nightfall. A man ascends the ladder carrying in one hand a burning torch of bark, which gives off a pungent smoke, and on his back a large hollow cone of bark. Straddling out along the bough, he hangs his cone of bark beneath the nest, smokes out the bees, and cuts away the nest from the bough with his sword, so that it falls into the cone of bark. Then, choosing a piece of comb containing grubs, he munches it with gusto, describing from his position of advantage to his envious friends the delicious quality of the grubs. After thus gathering two or three nests he lets down the cone with a cord to his eagerly expectant comrades, who then feast upon the remaining grubs and squeeze out the honey into jars. The tree having been cleared of nests in this way, the wax is melted in an iron pot and moulded in balls. The honey is eaten in the houses; the wax is sold to the Chinese traders at about a shilling a pound.

Vegetable tallow is procured from the seeds of the ENGKABONG tree (SHOREA). The seeds are crushed and the tallow melted out and gathered in bamboos. It is used as a food, generally smeared on hot rice. It is sometimes a principal feature of the Punan's diet for considerable periods.

Wild sago is abundant and is much used by Punans, and occasionally by most of the other peoples when their supply of PADI is short. The sago tree is cut down and its stem is split into several pieces with wedges. The pith is knocked out with a bamboo mallet. The sago is prepared from the pith by the women, who stamp it on coarse mats, pouring water upon it. The fine grains of sago are carried through on to a trough below. It is then washed and boiled in water, when it forms a viscid mass; this is eaten with a spoon or with a strip of bamboo bent double, the two ends of which are turned round in the sago and withdrawn with a sticky mass adherent; this is plunged in the gravy OF pork and carried to the mouth. It is generally considered a delicacy.

Many varieties of the forest trees exude resins, which are collected and used for torches and for repairing boats, as well as brought to the bazaars, where the best kinds fetch very good prices. Sometimes the resin is found in large masses on the ground where it has dripped from the trees.

A curious and valuable natural product is the bezoar stone. These stones are found in the gall-bladder and intestines of the long-tailed monkey SEMNOPITHECUS (most frequently of S. HOSEI and S. RUBICUNDUS). They are formed of concentric layers of a hard, brittle, olive-green substance, very bitter to the taste. A soft brown variety is found in the porcupine. Both kinds are highly valued by the Chinese as medicine. The monkeys and porcupines are hunted for the sake of these stones. A similar substance, also highly valued as a medicine by the Chinese, is sometimes found as an accretion formed about the end of a dart which has been broken off in the flesh of S. HOSEI and has remained there for some long period.

The most important of the natural products gathered by the people are the edible nests of three species of swift: COLLOCALIA FUCIPHAGA, whose nest is white; C. LOWII, whose nest is blackish; and C. LINCHII, whose nest contains straw and moss as well as gelatine. All three kinds are collected, but those of the first kind are much more valuable than the others. The nest, which is shaped like that of our swallow, consists wholly of a tough, gelatinous, translucent substance, which exudes from the bill of the bird as it builds. We do not understand the physiology of this process. The people generally believe that the substance of the nest is dried seafoam which the birds bring from the sea on returning from their annual migration.

The nests are built always on the roofs and walls of large caves: the white nests in low-roofed caves, generally in sandstone rock; the black in the immense lofty caves formed in the limestone rocks. The latter are reached by means of tall scaffoldings of strong poles of bamboo, often more than a hundred feet in height. The nests are swept from the rock with a pole terminating in a small iron spatula, and carrying near the extremity a wax candle; falling to the ground, which is floored with guano several feet thick, they are gathered up in baskets. The white nests are gathered three times in the year at intervals of about a month, the black nests usually only twice; as many as three tons of black nests are sometimes taken from one big cave in the course of the annual gathering. Each cave, or, in the case of large caves, each natural subdivision of it, is claimed as the property of some individual, who holds it during his lifetime and transmits it to his heirs. During the gathering of the nests of a large cave, the people live in roofless huts built inside it. The nests are sold to Chinese traders — the black nests for about a hundred dollars a hundredweight, and the white nests for as much as thirty or forty shillings per pound.



The Kayans are perhaps less aggressive than any other of the interior peoples with the exception of the Punans. Nevertheless prowess in war has made them respected or feared by all the peoples; and during the last century they established themselves in the middle parts of the basins of all the great rivers, driving out many of the Klemantan communities, partly by actual warfare, partly by the equally effective method of appropriating to their own use the tracts of jungle most suitable for the cultivation of PADI.

The fighting quality of the individual Kayan, the loyalty and obedience of each household to its chief, the custom of congregating several long houses to form a populous village upon some spot carefully chosen for its tactical advantages (generally a peninsula formed by a deep bend of the river), and the strong cohesion between the Kayans of different and even widely separated villages, — all these factors combine to render the Kayans comparatively secure and their villages immune from attack. But though a Kayan village is seldom attacked, and though the Kayans do not wantonly engage in bloodshed, yet they will always stoutly assert their rights, and will not allow any injury done to any member of the tribe to go unavenged. The avenging of injuries and the necessity of possessing heads for use in the funeral rites are for them the principal grounds of warfare; and these are generally combined, the avenging of injuries being generally postponed, sometimes for many years, until the need for new heads arises. Though an old dried head will serve all the purposes of the rites performed to terminate a period of mourning, yet it is felt that a fresh head (or heads) is more desirable, especially in the case of mourning for an important chief.

When an old head is used in these rites, it is customary to borrow it from another house or village, and it is brought to the house by a party of warriors in the full panoply of war, who behave both on setting out and returning as though actually on the war-path.

It may be said generally that Kayans seldom or never wage war on Kayans, and seldom attack others merely to secure heads or in sheer vainglory, as the Ibans not infrequently do. Nor do they attack others merely in order to sustain their prestige, as is sometimes done by the Kenyahs, who in this respect carry to an extreme the principle that attack is the most effective mode of defence.

War is generally undertaken by the Kayans very deliberately, after much preparation and in large well-organised parties, ranging in numbers from fifty to a thousand or more warriors, made up in many cases from several neighbouring villages, and under the supreme command of one chief of acknowledged eminence.

The weapons and war-dress are similar among all the peoples. The principal weapon is the sword known as PARANG ILANG, or MALAT, a heavy blade (Pl. 91) of steel mounted in a handle of horn or hardwood. The blade, about twenty-two inches in length, has the cutting edge slightly bowed and the blunt back edge slightly hollowed. The edges diverge slightly from the handle up to a point about five inches from the tip, where the blade attains its maximum width of nearly two inches. At this point the back edge bends sharply forward to meet the cutting edge at the tip. A very peculiar feature of the blade is that it is slightly hollowed on the inner surface (I.E. the thumb side or left side in the case of the PARANG, of a right-handed man, the right side in case of one made for a left-handed man), and is convex in transverse section to a corresponding degree on the other surface. This peculiar shape of the blade is said to render the PARANG, more efficient in sinking into or through either limbs or wood, and is more easily withdrawn after a successful blow. This weapon is carried in a wooden sheath suspended by a plaited waist-strap, and is the constant companion of every man; for it is used not only in warfare, but also for a variety of purposes, such as the hewing down of jungle undergrowth, cutting rattans and bamboos, the rough shaping of wooden implements.

The weapon second in importance is the spear (Pl. 92). It consists of a flat steel blade, about one foot in length, of which the widest part (between one and two inches) is about four inches from the tip. The tip and lateral edges of the blade are sharp, and its haft is lashed with strips of rattan to the end of a wooden shaft. The extremity of the haft is bent outwards from the shaft, to prevent its being dragged off from the latter. The shaft is of tough wood and about seven feet in length; its butt end is usually shod with iron. The spear is used not only for thrusting, but also as a javelin and as a parrying stick for warding off the spears hurled by the foe. It is always carried in the boat when travelling on the river, or in the hand during excursions in the jungle.

The blow-pipe, which projects a poisoned dart, is used by many of the Kayans in hunting, but is hardly regarded as a weapon for serious use in warfare.

Beside the principal spear, two or three short spears or javelins, sometimes merely pointed bars of hardwood, are usually carried in the left hand when an attack is being made.

Beside the sword and the spears the only weapons commonly used are heavy bars of ironwood, sharpened at both ends and flung so as to twirl rapidly in the air. They are chiefly used in defending houses from attack, a store of them being kept in the house. For the defence of a house against an expected attack, short sharp stakes of split bamboo are thrust slantingly into the ground, so as to present the fire-hardened tip towards the feet of the oncoming foe.

The interior peoples have long possessed a certain number of European-made muskets (mostly flint-locks) and small Bruni-made brass cannon, obtained from the Malay and Chinese traders. The latter were chiefly valued for the defence of the house, but were sometimes mounted in the bows of the war-boats. The difficulty of obtaining supplies of gunpowder has always restricted greatly the use of firearms, and in recent years the European governments have strictly limited the sale of gunpowder and firearms; and even at the present day any war-party commissioned by one of the governments to execute any police measure, such as apprehending, or burning the house of, people who have wantonly killed others, has to rely in the main on its native weapons.

The equipment of the fighting-man consists, in addition to his weapons, of a war-cap and war-coat and shield (Pl. 93 and Fig. 26). The former is a round closely-fitting cap woven of stout rattans split in halves longitudinally. It affords good protection to the skull against the stroke of the sword. It is adorned with two of the long black-and-white barred feathers of the hornbill's tail in the case of, any man who has earned this distinction by taking part in successful expeditions.

The war-coat is made of the skin of the goat, the bear, or (in case of distinguished chiefs) of the tiger-cat. The whole of the skin in one piece is used, except that the skin of the belly and of the lower parts of the forelimbs are cut away. A hole for the warrior's head is made in the mid-dorsal line a little behind the skin of the head, which is flattened out and hangs over the chest, descending to the level of the navel; while the skin of the back, flanks, and hind limbs in one large flap, covers the back and hind parts of the warrior as far as the bend of the knees. A large pearly shell usually adorns the lower end of the anterior flap. The warrior's arms are thus left free, but unprotected. In the finest coats there is a patch of brightly coloured beadwork at the nape of the neck, and the back-flap is adorned with rows of loosely dangling hornbills' feathers; but these again are considered appropriate only to the coats of warriors of proved valour.

The Kayan shield is an oblong plate cut from a single piece of soft wood. Its ends are pointed more or less acutely; the length between the points is about four feet. The inner surface forms a flat hollow; the outer is formed by two flat surfaces meeting in a flat obtuse angle or ridge extending from point to point. The grain of the wood runs longitudinally, and a downward falling PARANG is liable to split the wood and become wedged fast in it. In order to prevent the shield becoming divided in this way, and to hold fast the blade of the sword, it is bound across with several stout strips of rattan which are laced closely to the wood with finer strips. The handle, carved out of the same solid block of wood as the body of the shield, is in the middle of the concave surface; it is a simple vertical bar for the grasp of the left hand. The Kayan shield is commonly stained red with iron oxide, and touched up with black pigment, but not otherwise decorated.

Wooden shields of this kind are used by almost all the tribes, but some of them decorate their shields elaborately. The two surfaces of almost all Kenyah shields (Fig. 27) are covered with elaborate designs picked out in colours, chiefly red and black. The designs are sketched out on the wood with the point of a knife, and the pigment is applied with the finger and a chisel-edged stick. The principal feature of the designs on the outer surface is in all cases a large conventionalised outline of a face with large eyes, indicated by concentric circles in red and black, and a double row of teeth with two pairs of canines projecting like huge tusks. This face seems to be human, for, although in some shields there is nothing to indicate this interpretation, in others the large face surmounts the highly conventionalised outline of a diminutive human body, the limbs of which are distorted and woven into a more or less intricate design. Each extremity of the outer surface is covered by a similarly conventionalised face-pattern on a smaller scale. On the inner side each longitudinal half is covered with an elaborate scroll-pattern, generally symmetrical in the two halves; the centre of this pattern is generally a human figure more or less easily recognisable; the two halves sometimes bear male and female figures respectively.

The shields most prized by the Kenyahs are further decorated with tufts of human hair taken from the heads of slain enemies. It is put on in many rows which roughly frame the large face with locks three or four inches in length on scalp, cheeks, chin, and upper lip; and the smaller faces at the ends are similarly surrounded with shorter hair. The hair is attached by forcing the ends of the tufts into narrow slits in the soft wood and securing it with fresh resin.

The Klemantan shields are, in the main, variations on the Kenyah patterns. The Murut shields closely resemble those of the Kayans, though the Dusuns, who have the domesticated buffalo, use a shield of buffalo-hide attached to the forearm by a strap — a feature unknown in all the other types, which are borne by the handle only. The Sea Dayaks nowadays make a greater variety of shields, copying those of the other tribes with variations of their own. The shield originally used by them before coming into contact with many other tribes, but now discarded, was made of strips of bamboo plaited together and stiffened with a longitudinal strip of wood (Fig. 28). It was of two shapes, both oblong, one with rounded, the other with pointed ends.

The Land Dayaks still use a shield of tough bark (Fig. 29), and it is not improbable that these were used by other tribes at no distant date.

Every Kayan household possesses, beside the many smaller boats, one or more boats especially designed for use in war. A typical war-boat is about 100 feet in length, from six to seven feet wide in its middle part, and tapers to a width of about three and a half feet at bow and stern. In some cases the length of the war-boat, which is always made from a single log, is as much as 145 feet in length (Pl. 96), but so large a boat is unwieldy in use, and its construction costs an excessive amount of labour. The ordinary war-boat carries from sixty to seventy men seated two abreast on the cross-benches. It is steered by the paddles of the two bow-men and the four next the stern. One of these war-boats, manned by sixty or seventy paddlers, can maintain a pace about equal to that of our University racing eights.[57]

War is only undertaken after formal consultation and many discussions between the chief or chiefs and all the leading men. If the village primarily concerned does not feel itself strong enough to achieve its ends, it will seek the help of some neighbouring village, usually, but not always one of its own tribe. The discussion may be renewed day after day for some little time, before the decision to fight is taken and the time for the expedition is fixed.

The next step is to seek favourable omens, and two men are told off for this work. They repair to some spot in the jungle, or more commonly on the bank of the river, where they build a small hut; they adorn it by fraying the poles of its framework, and so secure themselves against interruptions by passing acquaintances. The sight or sound of certain birds and beasts is favourable, of others unfavourable; but the favourable creatures must be observed in a certain order, if the omens are to be entirely satisfactory. If very bad omens are observed, the men return home to report the fact, and will make another attempt after a few days. If the omens are of mixed character, they will persist for some time, hoping to get a sufficient number of good omens to counteract or nullify the bad. When seeking for their place of observation, their choice is determined by seeing a spider-hunter (ARACHNOTHERA) flying across the river, chirping as it flies. When this is seen they stop the boat, calling out to the bird, "O friend ISIT, protect us and give us success." One of the men lands on the bank, hews out a pole about eight feet long, cuts upon it bunches of shavings without detaching (Pl. 97) them from the pole, and thrusts one end of it into the ground so that it remains sloping towards the abode of the foe. While this is being done on the bank, fire of some sort (if only a cigarette) is lighted in the boat, and the position is explained more fully to the bird, but without any mention of the name of the enemy. The observers then erect a hut near the omen-pole for their shelter, and pass the night there before looking out for the omen-bird next desired. This is the trogan (HARPACTES DUVAUCELII), which has a peculiar soft trilling note and a brilliant red chest. When this bird appears, it is addressed in the same way as the spider-hunter; and this second step of the process is also marked by a feathered stick thrust into the ground before the hut. Then they spend another night in the hut hoping for significant dreams. To dream of abundance of fruit (which symbolises heads) is favourable; any dream of a disagreeable or fearful situation is unfavourable. After a favourable dream comes the most important stage of the business, the observation of the hawks. They look for LAKI NEHO from the door of their hut about nine o'clock in the morning. As soon as a hawk is seen, they light a fire and call on him to go to the left, waving a feathered stick in that direction, and, shouting at the top of his voice, one of them pours out a torrent of words addressed to the hawk. If he goes out of sight towards the right, they console themselves by remarking that he is one of low degree, and they sit down to wait for another. If two hawks are seen to fight in the air, that foretells much bloodshed. They are not satisfied until they see a hawk sail far away out of sight towards the left. Then a break is made; after which they observe the hawks again, until they see one sail out of sight towards the right. If all this is accomplished without the intervention of unfavourable omens, they return home to report progress; but immediately return to the hut and remain there. Then for one, two, or even three days, all the men of the house stay at home quietly, busying themselves in preparing boats and weapons. The chief, or some deputy, then performs the rites before the altar-post of the war-god that stands before the house in the way described in Chap. XV. The omens given by the hawks on this occasion are guarantees for the safety of the house and those left in it, and against accidents and sickness incidental to the journey; they have no reference to the actual fighting.[58] All the men of the war-party then proceed in their war-boats to the spot where the war-omens have been observed, and camp round about it in roughly built huts. Here they will remain at least two days, establishing their connection with the favourable omen-birds. From this encampment they may not return to the house, and, if they are expecting a party of allies, they may await them here. By this time the war-fever is raging among them, and rumours of the preparations of the enemy are circulating. Spies or scouts may be sent out to seek information about the enemy; but usually such information is sought from the liver of a pig with the customary ceremony. A sharp ridge on the liver dividing their own region from that of the enemy is unfavourable, a low soft ridge is favourable.

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