The Pagan Tribes of Borneo
by Charles Hose and William McDougall
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At break of day, before I was up, Tama Bulan was washed by the women at the river's brink with water and the blood of pigs to purify him for his journey, and later in the morning the people set to work to seek omens and a guarantee of their safety on the journey from the hawks that are so numerous here. A small shelter of sticks and leaves was made on the river-bank before the house, and the women having been sent to their rooms, three men of the upper class[129] sat under this leaf-shelter beside a small fire, and searched the sky for hawks. After sitting there silently for about an hour the three men suddenly became animated; one of them took in his right hand a small chick and a stick frayed by many deep cuts with a knife, and waved them repeatedly from left to right, at the same time pouring out a rapid flood of words. They had caught sight of a hawk high up and far away from them, and they were trying to persuade it to fly towards the right. Presently the hawk, a tiny speck in the sky, sailed slowly out of sight behind a hill on the right, and the men settled themselves to watch for a second hawk which must fly towards the left, and a third which must circle round and round. In the course of about half-an-hour two hawks had obligingly put in an appearance, and behaved just as it was hoped and desired that they should behave; and so this part of the business was finished, and about a score of men bustled about preparing for the next act. They brought many fowls and several young pigs, and a bundle of long poles pointed at either end. Before the house stand upright two great boles of timber; the upper end of each of them is carved into a rude face and crowned with a brass gong (Pl. 157). These are two images of the one Supreme Being, Bali Penyalong, and they seem to be at the same time the altars of the god. A tall young tree, stripped of all but its topmost twigs, stands beside one of them, and is supposed to reach to heaven or, at least, by its greater proximity to the regions above, to facilitate intercourse. As to the meaning of this and many other features of these rites it is impossible to form any exact idea, for the opinions of these people in such matters are hardly less vague and diversified than those of more civilized worshippers. Tama Bulan, in his character of high priest,[130] took his stand before one of these images, while a nephew, one of the three men who had watched the hawks, officiated before the other and went through exactly the same ceremonies as his uncle, at the same time with him. Tama Bulan held a small bamboo water-vessel in his left hand, and with a frayed stick in his right hand sprinkled some of the water on the image, all the time looking up into its face and rapidly repeating a set form of words. Presently he took a fowl, snipped off its head and sprinkled its blood upon the image, and so again with another and another fowl. Then he held a young pig while a follower gashed its throat, and as the blood leapt out he scattered it on the image, while the score of men standing round about put their hands, some on him, some on one another; maintaining in this way physical contact with one another and with their leader, they joined in the prayer or incantation which he kept pouring forth in the same rapid mechanical fashion in which many a curate at home reads the Church service. In the house, meanwhile, four boys were pounding at two big drums to keep away from the worshippers all sounds but the words of their own prayers.[131] Then another fowl and another pig were sacrificed in similar fashion at each altar, and the second part of the rite was finished by the men sticking the carcases of the slaughtered beasts each one on the point of a pole, and fixing the poles upright in the earth before the images.

Tama Bulan now came up into the house to perform the third and last act. A pig was brought and laid bound upon the floor, and Tama Bulan, stooping, with a sword in his right hand, kept punching the pig gently behind the shoulder as though to keep its attention, and addressed it with a rapid flow of words, each phrase beginning "O Bali Bouin." The pig's throat was then cut by an attendant, and Tama Bulan, standing up, diluted its blood with water and scattered it abroad over all of us as we stood round about him, while he still kept up the rapid patter of words. Then he pulled off the head of a fowl and concluded the rites by once more sprinkling us all with blood and water. Everyone seemed relieved and well satisfied to have got through this important business, and to have secured protectors for all the party during the forthcoming journey. For the three hawks will watch over them, and are held to have given them explicit guarantees of safety. The frayed stick that had figured so largely in the rites was stuck under the rafters of the roof among a row of others previously used, and there it will remain, a sign and a pledge of the piety of the people, as long as the house shall stand. And then as Tama Bulan, pretty well covered with blood, went away to wash himself, I felt as though I had just lived through a book of the AENEID, and was about to follow Father Aeneas to the shores of Latium.

This elaborate rite, so well fitted to set agoing the speculative fancy of any one acquainted with the writings of Robertson Smith and Messrs. Jevons and Frazer, was one of the first that we witnessed together. After giving all our facts we shall return to discuss some of the interesting questions raised by it, but it will be seen that we are far from having discovered satisfactory explanations of all its features. Obscure features to which we would direct attention are the use of the fire and the frayed stick, for these figure in almost all rites in which the omen-birds are consulted or prayers and sacrifices made. The Kenyahs seem to feel that the purpose of fire is to carry up the prayers to heaven by means of the ascending flame and smoke, in somewhat the same way as the tall pole planted by the side of the image of Bali Penyalong facilitates communion with the spirit; for they conceive him as dwelling somewhere above the earth.

Before going out to attack an enemy, omens are always sought in the way we have described, and if the expedition is successful the warriors bring home not only the heads of the slain enemy, but also pieces of their flesh, which they fix upon poles before the house, one for each family, as a thank-offering to Bali Flaki for his guidance and protection. It seldom occurs that a hawk actually takes or eats these pieces of flesh, and that does not seem to be expected. Without favourable omens from the hawks Kenyahs will not set out on any expedition, and even when they have secured them, they still anxiously look out for further guidance, and may be stopped or turned back at any time by unfavourable omens. Thus, should a hawk fly over their boat going in the same direction as themselves, this is a good omen; but if one should fly towards them as they travel, and especially if it should scream as it does so, this is a terribly bad omen, and only in case they can obtain other very favourable omens to counteract the impression made by it will they continue their journey. If one of a party dies on the journey, they will stop for one whole day for fear of offending Bali Flaki. If a hawk should scream just as they are about to deliver an attack, that means that some of the elder men will be killed in the battle.

Bali Flaki is also consulted before sowing and harvesting the rice crop, but besides being appealed to publicly on behalf of the whole community, his aid may be sought privately by any man who wishes to injure another. For this purpose a man makes a rough wooden image in human form, and retires to some quiet spot on the river bank where he sets up a TEGULUN, a horizontal pole supported about a yard above the ground by a pair of vertical poles. He lights a small fire beside the TEGULUN, and, taking a fowl in one hand, he sits on the ground behind it so as to see through it a square patch of sky,[132] and so waits until a hawk becomes visible upon this patch. As soon as a hawk appears he kills the fowl, and with a frayed stick smears its blood on the wooden image, saying, "Put fat in his mouth" (which means "Let his head be taken and fed with fat in the usual way"), and he puts a bit of fat in the mouth of the image. Then he strikes at the breast of the image with a small wooden spear, and throws it into a pool of water reddened with red earth, and then takes it out and buries it in the ground. While the hawk is visible, he waves it towards the left; for he knows that if it flies to the left he will prevail over his enemy, but that if it goes to the right his enemy is too strong for him.

When a new house is built, a wooden image of Bali Flaki with wings extended is put up before it, and an offering of mixed food is put on a little shelf before the image, and at times, especially after getting good omens from the hawks, it is offered bits of flesh and is smeared with pig's blood. If the people have good luck in their new house, they renew the image; but if not, they usually allow it to fall into decay. If, when a man is sitting down to a meal, he espies a hawk in the heavens, he will throw a morsel of food towards it, exclaiming, "Bali Flaki!"

We have seen that during the formal consultation of the hawks the women are sent to their rooms. Nevertheless many women keep in the cupboards in which they sleep a wooden image of the hawk with a few feathers stuck upon it. If the woman falls sick she will take one of these feathers and, waving it to and fro, will say, "Tell the bad spirit that is making me sick that I have a feather of Bali Flaki." When she recovers her health Bali Flaki has the credit of it.

Although Kenyahs will not kill a hawk, they would-not prevent us from shooting one if it stole their chickens; for they say that a hawk who will do that is a low-class fellow, a cad, in fact, for there are social grades among the hawks just as there are among themselves.

Although the Kenyahs thus look to Bali Flaki to guide them and help them in many ways, and express gratitude towards him, we do not think that they conceive of him as a single great spirit, as some of the other tribes tend to do; they rather look upon the hawks as messengers and intermediators between themselves and Bali Penyalong,[133] to which a certain undefined amount of power is delegated. No doubt it is a vulgar error with them, as in the case of professors of other forms of belief, to forget in some degree the Supreme Being, and to direct their prayers and thanks almost exclusively to the subordinate power, which, having

concrete forms, they can more easily keep before their minds. They regard favourable omens as given for their encouragement, and bad omens as friendly warnings.[134] We were told by one very intelligent Kenyah that he supposed that the hawks, having been so frequently sent by Bali Penyalong to give them warnings, had learnt how to do this of their own will, and that sometimes they probably do give them warning or encouragement independently without being sent by him.

All Kenyahs hold Bali Flaki in the same peculiar regard, and no individuals or sections of them claim to be especially favoured by him or claim to be related to him by blood or descent.

Other Omen-birds

Kenyahs obtain omens of less importance from several other birds. When favourable omens have been given by the hawks, some prominent man is always sent out to sit on the river-bank beside a small fire and watch and listen for these other birds. Their movements and cries are the signs which he interprets as omens, confirming or weakening the import of those given by the hawks. Of these other omens the most regarded are those given by the three species of the spider-hunter (ARACHNOTHERA CHRYSOGENYS, A. MODESTA, and A. LONGIROSTRIS). All three species are known as "Sit" or "Isit." When travelling on the river, the Kenyahs hope to see "Isit" fly across from left to right as they sit facing the bow of the canoe. When this happens they call out loudly, saying, "O, Isit on the left hand! Give us long life, help us in our undertaking, help us to find what we are seeking, make our enemies feeble." They usually stop their canoes, land on the bank, and, after making a small fire, say to it, "Tell Isit to help us." Each man of the party will light a cigarette in order that he may have his own small fire, and will murmur some part at least of the usual formulas. After seeing "Isit" on their left, they like to see him again on their right side.

Next in importance to the spider-hunters are the three varieties of the trogan (HARPACTES DIARDI, H. DUVAUCELII, and H. KASUMBA). They like to hear the trogan calling quietly while he sits on a tree to their left; but if he is on their right, the omen is only a little less favourable.[135] On hearing the trogan's cry, they own it, as they say, by shouting to it and by stopping to light a fire just as in the case of "Isit."

KIENG, the woodpecker (LEPOCESTES PORPHYROMELAS), has two notes, one of which is of good, the other of had omen. If they have secured good omens from the birds already mentioned, they will then try to avoid hearing KIENG, lest he should utter the note of evil omen; so they sing and talk and rattle their paddles on the sides of the boat.

Other omen-birds of less importance are ASI (CARCINEUTES MELANOPS), whose note warns them of difficulties in their path, and UKANG (SASIA ABNORMIS), whose note means good luck for them. TELAJAN, the crested rain-bird (PLATYLOPHUS CORONATUS), announces good luck by its call and warns of serious difficulties also.

KONG, the hornbill (ANORRHINUS COMATUS), gives omens of minor importance by his strange deep cry. The handsome feathers of another species of hornbill (BUCEROS RHINOCEROS), with bold bars of black and white, are worn on war-coats and stuck in the war-caps by men who are tried warriors, but may not be worn by mere youths. The substance of the beak of the helmeted hornbill (RHINOFLAX VIGIL) is sometimes carved into the form of the canine tooth of the tiger-cat, and a pair of these is the most valued kind of ear-ornament for men. Only elderly men, or men who have taken heads with their own hands, may wear them. One of the popular dances consists in a comical imitation of the movements of the hornbill, but no special significance attaches to the dance; it seems to be done purely in a spirit of fun. Young hornbills are occasionally kept in the house as pets.

We know of no other bird that plays any part in the religious life of the Kenyahs or affects them in any peculiar manner.

The Pig

All Kenyahs keep numerous domestic pigs, which roam beneath and about the house, picking up what garbage they can find to eke out the scanty meals of rice-dust and chaff given them by the women. It seems that they seldom or never take to the jungle and become feral, although they are not confined in any way.

The domestic pig is not treated with any show of reverence, but rather with the greatest contumely, and yet it plays a part in almost all religious ceremonies, and before it is slaughtered explanations are always offered to it, and it is assured that it is not to be eaten. We have seen that, in the rites preparatory to an important and dangerous expedition, the chief was washed with pig's blood and water, and that young pigs were slain before the altar-post of Bali Penyalong, and their blood sprinkled on the post and afterwards upon all or most of the men of the household. It is probably true that Bali Penyalong is never addressed without the slaughter of one or more pigs, and also that no domestic pig is ever slaughtered without being charged beforehand with some message or prayer to Bali Penyalong, which its spirit may carry up to him. But the most important function of the pig is the giving of information as to the future course of events by means of the markings on its liver.[136]

Whenever it becomes specially interesting or important to ascertain the future course of events, when, for example, a household proposes to make war, or when two parties are about to go through a peace-making ceremony, a pig is caught by the young men from among those beneath the house, and is brought and laid, with its feet lashed together, before the chief in the great gallery of the house. And it would seem that the more important the ceremony the larger and the more numerous should be the pigs selected as victims. An attendant hands a burning brand to the chief, and he, stooping over the pig, singes a few of its hairs, and then, addressing the pig as "Bali Bouin," and gently punching it behind the shoulder, as we have already depicted him, he pours out a rapid flood of words. The substance of his address is a prayer to Bali Penyalong for guidance and knowledge as to the future course of the business in hand, and an injunction to the soul of the pig to carry the prayer to Bali Penyalong.

Sometimes more than one chief will address one pig in this way; and then, as soon as these prayers are concluded, some follower plunges a spear into the heart or throat of the pig, and rapidly opens its belly in the middle line, drags out the liver and lays it on a leaf or platter with the underside uppermost, and so carries it to the chief or chiefs. Then all the elderly men crowd round and consult as to the significance of the appearances presented by the underside of the liver. The various lobes and lobules are taken to represent the various districts concerned in the question on which light is desired, and according to the strength and intimacy of the connections between these lobes, the people of the districts represented are held to be bound in more or less lasting friendship. While spots and nodules in any part betoken future evils for the people of that part, a clean healthy liver means good fortune and happiness for all concerned.

The underside of the liver, which alone is significant, varies considerably from one specimen to another, and this must prevent any very definite and consistent identification of the parts with the different districts of the country. The rule generally observed is to identify the under surface of the right lobe (ARTI TOH) with the territory of the party that kills the pig and makes the enquiry; the adjacent part of the left lobe (SUNAN) with the territory of any party involved in the question which adjoins that of the first party; and the under surface of the caudal extremity (ARTI ARKAT) with that of any remoter third party (see Fig. 79). If the ridge that runs up between the right and left lobes is sharp, it indicates that there will still be some bad feeling (or, as they say, the swords are still sharp). A gall-bladder which is long and overlapping indicates more trouble between the parties to the right and left; but one which is sunk almost out of sight in the substance of the liver is a sign that no further trouble is to be expected. The grooves on the under surface of the right lobe stand for the waterways and, if they are strongly marked, imply freedom of intercourse. Notches at the free edges stand for past injuries suffered (the scars of wounds received, as it were); and if these are equally marked in the several parts they indicate peace, because it is implied that no balance of old scores remains to any one of the parties concerned. A sore or abscess in any part foretells the speedy death of one of the chiefs of the people of that part.


It is obvious that this system of interpretation, which is common to nearly all the peoples, gives much scope for the operation of prejudice, suggestion, and ingenuity. But the group of interpreting chiefs and elder men generally achieves unanimity in giving its verdict.

The omens thus obtained are held to be the answer vouchsafed by Bali Penyalong to the prayers which have been carried to him by the spirit of the pig.

If the answer obtained in this way from one pig is unsatisfactory, they will often kill a second, and on important occasions even a third or fourth, in order to obtain a favourable answer. Unless they can thus obtain a satisfactory forecast, they will not set out upon any undertaking of importance.

After any ceremony of this kind the body of the pig is usually divided among the people, and by them cooked and eaten without further ceremony. But we have seen that, after the ceremony in preparation for an expedition, the bodies of the young pigs whose blood was scattered on the altarpost of Bali Penyalong were fixed upon tall poles beside this altar-post and there left; and this seems to be the rule in ceremonies of this sort, though it is not clear whether the carcases are left there as offerings to the hawks or to Bali Penyalong, or because they are in some sense too holy to be used as food after being used in such rites.

Probably Kenyahs never give to the spirits in this way the whole body of a large pig, but only of quite small pigs, and in this they are probably influenced by considerations of economy.

It may be said generally that Kenyahs do not kill domestic pigs simply and solely for the sake of food. The killing of a pig is always the occasion for, or occasioned by, some religious rite. It is true that on the arrival of honoured guests a pig is usually killed and given to them for food; but its spirit is then always charged with some message to Bali Penyalong. It is said that, when the pig's spirit comes to Bali Penyalong, he is offended if it brings no message from those who killed the pig, and he sends it back to carry off their souls.

On many other occasions also pigs are killed; thus, on returning from a successful attack on enemies, a pig is usually killed for each family of the household, and a piece of its flesh is put up on a pole before the house; and during the severe illness of any person of high social standing, pigs are usually killed, and friendly chiefs may come from distant parts, bringing with them pigs and fowls that they may sacrifice them, and so aid in restoring the sick man to health. On the death of a chief, too, a great feast is made, and many pigs are slaughtered, and their jaw-bones are hung up on the tomb. A pig is sometimes used in the ceremony by which a newly-made peace is sealed between tribes hitherto at blood-feuds, but a fowl is more commonly used.

The wild pig which abounds in the forest is hunted by the Kenyahs, and when brought to bay by the dogs is killed with spears, and it is eaten without ceremony or compunction by all classes. The wild pig is never used as messenger to the gods, and its liver is not consulted. The lower jaws of all wild pigs that are killed are cleaned and hung up together in the house, and it is believed that if these should be lost or in any way destroyed the dogs would cease to hunt.

The domestic fowls are seldom killed for food, and their eggs too can hardly be reckoned as a regular article of diet, though the people have no prejudice against eating them. And it would seem that the fowls are kept in the main for ceremonial Purposes, and that their table use is of very secondary importance.

Fowls are killed on many of the occasions on which pigs are sacrificed, and, as we have seen in the description of the ceremony at Tama Bulan's house, their blood may be poured upon the altarposts of Bali Penyalong. It would seem that fowls and pigs are to some extent interchangeable equivalents for sacrificial purposes. Perhaps the most important occasion on which the fowl plays a part is the performance of the rite by which a blood-feud is finally wiped away. The following extract from the journal previously quoted describes an incident of this kind: —

In the evening there was serious business on hand. Two chiefs, who some years ago were burned out of their homes in the Rejang district by the government, have settled themselves with their people in the Baram district. They had made a provisional peace with the Kayans some years ago, but the final ceremony was to be performed this evening. The two chiefs of the immigrants, who had remained hitherto in a remote part of the house, seated themselves at one side, and the Kayan chiefs at the other, and Tama Bulan and ourselves between the two parties. First, presents of iron were exchanged. In the old days costly presents of metal-work used to be given; but, as this led sometimes to renewed disputes, the government has forbidden the giving, in such ceremony, of presents of a greater value than two dollars. So now old sword-blades are given, and the other essential part of the present has been proportionately reduced from a full-grown fowl to a tiny chick. After much preliminary talking, two chicks were brought and a bundle of old sword-blades, which Tama Bulan, in his character of peace-maker, carries with him whenever he travels abroad. A chief of either party took a chick and a sword and presented them to the other. Then one led his men a little apart and began to rattle off an invocation beginning, "O sacred (Bali) chick," snipped off its head with the sword, and with the bloody blade smeared the right arm of his followers as they crowded round him. The old fellow kept up the stream of words until every man was smeared; and then they all stamped together on the floor raising a great shout. Then the other party went through a similar performance; and the peace being thus formally ratified, we sat down to cement it still further by a friendly drinking bout.

Another ceremony in which the fowl plays a prominent part is that by which the wandering soul of a sick person is found and led back to his body by the medicine-man. This is described in Chapter XIV.

It seems clear that the fowl, like the pig, is used on these occasions as a messenger sent by man to the Supreme Spirit. In most cases when a fowl is slaughtered in the course of a ceremony, it is first waved over the heads of the people taking part in it, and its blood is afterwards sprinkled upon them.

In the blood-brotherhood ceremony, when each of the two men drinks or smokes in a cigarette a drop of the other's blood drawn with a bambooknife, a fowl is in many cases waved over them and then killed, and occasionally a pig also is killed. In such a case the man who has killed the fowl will carry its carcase to the door of the house, and there he will wave towards the heavens a frayed stick moistened with its blood, while he announces the facts of the ceremony to Bali Penyalong. So that here again the fowl seems to play the part of a messenger. The carcase and the bloody stick are afterwards put up together on a tall pole before the house. After going through this ceremony a man is safe from all the members of the household to which his blood-brother belongs; and in the case of two chiefs all the members of either household are bound to those of the other by a sacred tie.

Fowls' eggs are sometimes put on the cleft poles as sacrifices. In one instance, when we were engaged in fishing a lake with a large party in boats, we came upon a row of eight poles stuck upright at the edge of the lake, each holding a fowl's egg in its cleft upper end. These had just been put there by the crew of one of the canoes as an offering to the crocodiles, which were regarded as the most influential of the powers of the lake and able to ensure us good sport.

In such cases the eggs are probably economical substitutes for fowls, as seems to be indicated by the following facts: When Kenyah boys enter a strange branch of the river for the first time, they go, each one taking a fowl's egg in his hand, into the jungle with some old man, who takes the eggs, puts them into the cleft ends of poles fixed upright in the earth, and thus addresses all the omen-birds collectively, "Don't let any harm happen to these children who are coming for the first time to this river; they give you these eggs." Sometimes instead of eggs the feathers of a fowl are used; and both the eggs and feathers would seem to be substituted for fowls, as being good enough in the case of mere children performing a minor rite.

When the belly of a fowl is opened there are prominent two curved portions of the gut. The state of these is examined in some cases before the planting of PADI, and sometimes before attempting to catch the soul of a sick man. If the parts are much curved, it is a good omen; if straight or but slightly curved, it is a bad omen.

The Crocodile

Like all other races of Sarawak, the Kenyahs regard the crocodiles that infest their rivers as more or less friendly creatures. They fear the crocodile and do not like to mention it by name, especially if one be in sight, and refer to it as "old grandfather." But the fear is rather a superstitious fear than the fear of being seized by the beast. They regard those of their own neighbourhood as more especially friendly, in spite of the fact that members of their households are occasionally taken by crocodiles, either while standing incautiously on the bank of the river or while floating quietly at evening time in a small canoe. When this happens, it is believed either that the person taken has in some way offended or injured one or all of the crocodiles, or that he has been taken by a stranger crocodile that has come from a distant part of the river, and therefore did not share in the friendly understanding usually subsisting between the people and the local crocodiles. But in any case it is considered that the crocodiles have committed an unjustifiable aggression and have set up a blood-feud which can only be abolished by the slaying of one or more of the aggressors. Now it is the habit of the crocodile to hold the body of his victim for several days before devouring it, and to drag it for this purpose into some muddy creek opening into the main river. A party is therefore organised to search all the neighbouring creeks, and the first measure taken is to prevent the guilty crocodile escaping to some other part of the river. To achieve this they take long poles, frayed with many cuts, and set them up on the river-bank at some distance above and below the scene of the crime and at the mouths of all the neighbouring creeks and streamlets; and they kill fowls and pray that the guilty crocodile may be prevented from passing the spots thus marked. They then search the creeks, and if they find the criminal with the body of his victim they kill him, and the feud is at an end. But, if they fail to find him thus, they go out on the part of the river included between their charmed poles, and, with their spears tied to long poles, prod all the bed of this part of the river, and thus generally succeed in killing one or more crocodiles. They then usually search its entrails for the bones and hair of the victim so as to make sure that they have caught the offending beast. But, even if they do not obtain conclusive evidence of this kind, they seem to feel that justice is satisfied, and that the beast killed is probably the guilty one.

Except in the meting out of a just vengeance in this way, no Kenyah will kill a crocodile, and they will not eat its flesh under any circumstances. But there is no evidence to show that they regard themselves as related by blood or descent to the crocodiles or that their ancestors ever did so.

When Kenyahs go on a journey into strange rivers or to the lower part of the main river, they fear the crocodiles of these strange waters, because they are unknown to them, and any one of them might easily be mistaken by the crocodiles for some one who has done them an injury. Some Kenyahs tie the red leaves of the DRACAENA below the prow of their boat whenever they go far from home, believing that this protects them from all danger of attack by crocodiles.

The Dog

In all Kenyah houses are large numbers of dogs, which vary a good deal in size and colour, but roughly resemble large, mongrel-bred, smooth-haired terriers. Each family owns several, and they are fed with rice usually in the evening; but they seem to be always hungry. The best of them are used for hunting; but besides these there is always a number of quite useless, ill-fed, ill-tempered curs; for no Kenyah dare kill a dog, however much he may wish to be rid of it. Still less, of course, will he eat the flesh of a dog. The dogs prowl about, in and around the house, much as they please, but are not treated with any particular respect. When a dog intrudes where he is not wanted it is usual to click with the tongue at him, and this is usually enough to make him pass on; but blows with a stick follow quickly if the animal does not obey. They display little affection for their dogs, and they do not like children to touch or play with the dogs, but of course cannot altogether prevent them.

One young Kenyah chief, on being questioned, said that the reason they will not kill dogs is that they are like children, and eat and sleep together with men in the same house; and he added that, if a man should kill a dog, he would go mad.

If a dog dies in the house, the men push the carcase out of the house and into the river with long poles, and will on no account touch it with their hands. The spot on the floor on which the dog died is fenced round with mats for some few days in order to prevent the children walking over it.

It is usual for the Kenyah men to have one or more designs tatued on their forearms and shoulders. Among the commonest of these designs are those known as the prawn and the dog (see Chap. XII). They seem to be conventionalised derivatives from these animal forms. It is said that the dog's head design was formerly much more in fashion than it is at the present time.

Deer and Cattle

Very few Kenyahs of the upper class will kill or eat deer and wild cattle. They believe that if they should eat their flesh they would vomit violently and spit out blood. They have no domestic cattle, and the buffalo does not occur in their districts. Lower-class Kenyahs and slaves, taken as war-captives from other tribes, may eat deer and horned cattle, but they must take the flesh some little distance from the house when they cook it. A woman who is pregnant, or for any other reason is in the hands of a physician, has to observe the restrictions with regard to deer and cattle more strictly than other people, and she will not touch or allow to be brought near her any article of leather or horn.

The war-coats of the men are often made of the skin of goats or deer, and any man may wear such a war-coat. But when a man has a young son, he is particularly careful to avoid contact with any part of a deer, lest through such contact he should transmit to his son in any degree the timidity of the deer. On one occasion when we had killed a deer, a Kenyah chief resolutely refused to allow its skin to be carried in his boat, alleging the above reason.

The cry or bark of the deer (CERVULUS MUNTJAC) is a warning of danger, and the seeing or hearing of the mouse-deer or PLANDOK (TRAGULAS NAPU) has a like significance.

The Tiger-cat

The only large species of the FELIDAAE that occurs in Borneo is the tiger-cat (FELIS NEBULOSA). Kenyahs will not eat it, as men of some tribes do, but will kill it; and they fashion its handsome spotted skin into war-coats. Such coats are worn only by men who have been on the war-path. The canine teeth of the tiger-cat are much prized as ornaments; they are worn thrust through holes in the upper part of the shell of the ear, but only by full-grown men. KULEH, the name of this beast, is sometimes given to a boy.

The true tiger does not now occur in Borneo, and it is doubtful whether it ever was a native of the island. Nevertheless the Kenyahs know it by name (LINJAU) and by reputation, and a few skins are in the possession of chiefs. No ordinary man, but only a distinguished and elderly chief, will venture to wear such a skin as a war-coat, or even to touch it. These skins have been brought from other lands by Malay traders, and it is probable that whatever knowledge of the tiger the Kenyahs possess has come from the same source.

A chief will sometimes name his son LINJAU, that is, the Tiger.

Other Animals

A carnivore (ARCTOGALE LEUCOTIS) allied to the civet-cat warns of danger when seen or heard.

There is a certain large lizard (VARANUS) that is eaten freely by other tribes, but Kenyahs may not eat it, though they will kill it.

They regard the seeing of any snake as an unfavourable omen, and will not kill any snake gratuitously.

Kenyahs, like all, or almost all the other natives of Borneo, are more or less afraid of the Maias (the orang-utan) and of the long-nosed monkey, and they will not look one in the face or laugh at one.

In one Kenyah house a fantastic figure of the gibbon is carved on the ends of all the main crossbeams of the house, and the chief said that this has been their custom for many generations. He told us that it is the custom, when these beams are being put up, to kill a pig and divide its flesh among the men who are working, and no woman is allowed to come into the house until this has been done. None of his people will kill a gibbon, though other Kenyahs will kill and probably eat it. They claim that he helps them as a friend, and the carvings on the beams seem to symbolize his supporting of the house.

In other parts of the same house are carvings of the bangat, SEMNOPITHECUS HOSEI, but the old chief regards these as much less important and as recent innovations.

We do not know of any other animals to which especial respect or attention is paid by the Kenyahs.

Animal Cults of the Kayans

The white-headed hawk (Bali Flaki) of the Kenyahs has its equivalent among the Kayans in the large dark-brown hawk, which they call Laki Neho. But as it is not possible to distinguish these two kinds of hawks when seen flying at some distance, they address and accept all large hawks seen in the distance as Laki Neho.

The function and powers of Laki Neho seem to be almost identical with those of Bali Flaki. He is a giver of omens and a bringer of messages from Laki Tenangan. The following notes of a conversation with an intelligent Kayan chief will give some idea of his attitude towards Laki Neho. It must be remembered that these people have no priesthood and no dogmatic theologians to define and formulate beliefs, so that their ideas as to the nature of their gods and their abodes and powers are, though perhaps more concrete, at least as various in the minds of different individuals as are the corresponding ideas among the average adherents of more highly developed forms of religion; and perhaps no two men will agree exactly on these matters, and any one man will freely contradict his own statements.

Laki Tenangan is an old man with long white hair who speaks Kayan and has a wife, Doh Tenangan. They sometimes see him in dreams, and if fortunate they may then see his face,[137] but if unlucky they see his back only. In olden times powerful men sometimes spoke with him, but now this never occurs. He dwells in a house far away. Laki Neho also has a house that is covered with palm leaves and frayed sticks. It is in a tree-top, yet it is beside a river, and has a landing-place before it like every Kayan house. This house is sometimes seen in dreams. It is not so far away as the house of Laki Tenangan. At first our informant said that help is asked directly of Laki Neho; but, when pressed, he said that Laki Neho may carry the message to Laki Tenangan. Some things Laki Neho does of his own will and power; for example, if a branch were likely to fall on a Kayan boat he would prevent it, for Laki Tenangan long ago taught him how to do such things. When a man is sick, Kayans appeal to Laki Neho; but if he does not make the patient well they then appeal to Laki Tenangan directly, killing a pig, whose spirit goes first to the house of Laki Neho, and then on to the more distant house of Laki Tenangan. For they believe that in such a case the patient has somehow offended Laki Neho by disregarding or misreading his omens. A man suffering from chronic disease may himself pray to Laki Tenangan. He lights a fire and kills a fowl, and perhaps a pig also, and calls upon Laki Neho to be his witness and messenger. He holds an egg in one hand and says, "This is for you to eat, carry my message direct to Laki Tenangan that I may get well and live and bring up my children, who shall be taught my occupations and the true customs." The fire is lighted to make Laki Neho warm and energetic.

It will be seen from the above account that the Kayans have formed a concept of the power of the hawks in general, and have given it a semi-anthropomorphic character, and we shall see below that the Sea Dayaks have carried this process still further.


The Kayan's attitude towards the crocodile is practically the same as the Kenyah's. We append the following notes of a conversation with a young Kayan chief, Usong, and his cousin Wan:There are but very few Kayans who will kill a crocodile except in revenge. But if one of their people has been taken by a crocodile they go out together to kill the criminal, and they begin by saying, "Don't run away, you've got to be killed, why don't you come to the surface? You won't come out on the land because you have done wrong and are afraid." After this he will perhaps come on land; and if he does not, he will at least float to the surface of the water, and is then killed with spears. In olden days Kayans used to make a crocodile of clay and ask it to drive away evil spirits; but now this is not done. A crocodile may become a man just like themselves. Sometimes a man dreams that a crocodile calls him to become his blood-brother, and after they have gone through the regular ceremony and exchanged names (in the dream), the man is quite safe from crocodiles. Usong's uncle has in this way become blood-brother to a crocodile, and is now called "Baya" (the generic name for the crocodile), while some crocodile unknown is called Jok, and Usong considers himself the nephew of the crocodile Jok. Usong's father has also become blood-brother to a crocodile, and Usong calls himself a son of this particular unknown crocodile. Sometimes he asks these two, his uncle- and his father-crocodiles, to give him a pig when he is out hunting, and once they did give him one. After relating this, Usong added, "But who knows if this be true?"

Wan's great-great-grandfather became blood-brother to a crocodile, and was called "Klieng Baya." Wan has several times met this crocodile in dreams. In one dream he fell into the river when there were many crocodiles about. He climbed on to the head of one, which said to him, "Don't be afraid," and carried him to the bank. Wan's father had charms given him by a crocodile and would not on any account kill one, and Wan clearly regards himself as being intimately related to crocodiles in general.

The Kayans regard the pig and the fowl in much the same way as the Kenyahs do, and put them to the same uses. The beliefs and customs with regard to deer, horned cattle, dogs, and the tiger-cat, are similar to those of the Kenyahs save that they will not kill the last of these. They are perhaps more strict in the avoidance of deer and cattle. One old chief, who had been ailing for a long time, hesitated to enter the Resident's house because he saw a pair of horns hanging up there. When he entered he asked for a piece of iron, and on returning home he killed a fowl and a pig, and submitted to the process of having his soul caught by a DAYONG, lest it should have incurred some undefined injury in the neighbourhood of the horns.

The Kayans avoid the skin of the tiger even more strictly than the Kenyahs or any other tribe; even a great chief will not touch a tiger-skin, and we have known one refuse to enter a house because he knew that it contained a tiger-skin war-coat.

Like the Kenyahs, the Kayans entertain a superstitious dread of the Maias and the long-nosed monkey, but the DOK (MACACUS NEMESTRINUS), the coco-nut monkey of the Malay States, has special relations to them. It is very common in their district, but they will kill it only when it is stealing their rice-crop; and they will never eat it as other peoples do. There is a somewhat uncertain belief that it is a blood-relative, and the following myth is told to account for this. A Kayan woman of high class was reaping PADI with her daughter. Now it is against custom to eat any of the rice during reaping; and when the mother went away for a short time leaving the girl at work, she told her on no account to eat any of the rice. But no sooner was the mother gone than the girl began to husk some PADI and nibble at it. Then at once her body began to itch, and hair began to grow on her arms like the hair of a DOK. Soon the mother returned and the girl said, "Why am I itching so?" The mother answered, "You have done some wicked thing, you have eaten some rice." Then hair grew all over the girl's body except her head and face, and the mother said, "Ah, this is what I feared, now you must go into the jungle and eat only what has been planted by human hands." So the girl went into the jungle and her head became like a DOK'S, and she ceased to be able to speak.

The DOK does not help them in any way, but only spoils their crops. A very popular dance is the DOK dance, in which a man imitates very cleverly the behaviour of the DOK. It is a very ludicrous performance, and excites boisterous mirth. They say it is done merely in fun.

In one Kayan house the ends of all the main crossbeams that support the roof are ornamented with fretwork designs, which are clearly animal derivatives and apparently all of the same animal. The form suggests a crocodile, and some of the men agreed that that was its meaning, while others asserted that it was a dog. No doubt it was originally one or other of these, but has now become a conventional design merely, and its true origin has been forgotten.

A pattern which seems to be derived from the outline of a dog, and which goes by the name KALANG ASU ( = dog-pattern), occurs in a great variety of forms in the decorative art of the Kayans, and also, though to a less extent, in that of the Kenyahs. It is tatued on arm and thigh, is reproduced in beadwork, and carved in low relief on decorative panels.[138]

Neither Kayans nor Kenyahs make much use of snakes of any kind, but there is one snake with red head and tail (BATANG LIMA) which, when they see it in the course of a journey, they must kill, else harm will befall them. Again, if they see a certain snake just as they are about to enter a strange river or a strange village, they will stop and light a fire on the bank in order to communicate with Laki Neho. Kayans will not eat any species of turtle or tortoise.


The following notes of a conversation with the Orang Kaya Tumonggong, the influential chief of the Long Pata people (one of the many groups of Klemantans), show that these people regard the hawk in much the same way as the Kenyahs do: The hawk, BALI FLAKI, is the messenger of "Bali Utong," the Supreme Being. When a party is about to set out on any expedition they explain their intentions to BALI FLAKI, and then observe the movements of the hawks. If a hawk circles round over their heads, some of the party will fall sick on the journey and probably will die. If the hawk flies to the right when near at hand, it is a good omen; but if it flies to the right when at a distance, or to the left, whether near or far, that is a bad omen. The people then light a fire and entreat the hawk to give a more favourable sign, and if it persists in going to the left they give up the expedition. If, while the omens are being read, the hawk flaps his wings, or screams, or swoops down and settles on a tree, the omen is bad. But if it swoops down and up again, that is good. If two or three hawks are visible at the same time, and especially if they all fly to the right, that is very good; but if many are visible, and especially if they fly off in different directions, that is very bad, for it means that the enemy will scatter the attacking force. If the hawk should capture a small bird while it is under observation, that means that they will be made captives if they persist in their undertaking. The hawk is not claimed as a relative by Klemantans. They take omens from various other birds in matters of minor importance.

Klemantans use the domestic pig and fowl as sacrificial animals just as the Kenyahs and Kayans do, and they have the same superstitious dread of killing a dog. One group of them, Malanaus, use a dog in taking a very solemn oath, and sometimes the dog is killed in the course of this ceremony. Or instead of the dog being killed, its tail may be cut off, and the man taking the oath licks the blood from the stump; this is considered a most binding and solemn form of oath. The ceremony is spoken of as KOMAN ASU, I.E. "the eating of the dog."

Most Klemantans will kill and eat both deer and cattle freely. But there are exceptions to this rule. Thus Damong, the chief of a Malanau household, together with all his people, will not kill or eat the deer CERVULUS MUNTJAC, alleging that an ancestor had become a deer of this kind, and that, since they cannot distinguish this incarnation of his ancestor from other deer, they must abstain from killing all deer of this species. We know of one instance in which one of these people refused to use again his cooking-pot, because a Malay who had borrowed it had used it for cooking the flesh of deer of this species. This superstition is still rigidly adhered to, although these people have been converted to Islam of recent years.

On one occasion another chief resolutely refused to proceed on a journey through the jungle when a mouse-deer, PLANDOK, crossed his path; he will not eat this deer at any time.[139]

The people of Miri, who also are Mohammedan Malanaus, claim to be related to the large deer, CERVUS EQUINUS, and some of them to the muntjac deer also. Now, these people live in a country in which deer of all kinds abound, and they always make a clearing in the jungle around a tomb. On such a clearing grass grows up rapidly, and so the spot becomes attractive to deer as a grazing ground; and it seems not improbable that it is through frequently seeing deer about the tombs that the people have come to entertain the belief that their dead relatives become deer, or that they are in some other way closely related to the deer.

The Bakongs, another group of Malanaus, hold a similar belief with regard to the bear-cat (ARTICTIS) and the various species of PARADOXURUS; in this case the origin of the belief is admitted by them to be the fact that, on going to their graveyards, they often see one of these beasts coming out of a tomb. These tombs are roughly constructed wooden coffins raised a few feet only from the ground, and it is probable that these carnivores make their way into them, in the first place, to devour the corpse, and that they make use of them as lairs.

The relations of the Klemantans to the crocodiles seem to be more intimate than those of other tribes. One group, the Long Patas, claim the crocodile as a relative. The story goes that a certain man named Silau became a crocodile. First he became covered with itch, and he scratched himself till he bled and became rough all over. Then his feet began to look like a crocodile's tail; as the change crept up from his feet to his body, he called out to his relatives that he was becoming a crocodile, and made them swear that they would never kill any crocodile. Many of the people in olden days knew that Silau became a crocodile; they saw him at times and spoke to him, and his teeth and tongue were always like those of a man. Many stories are told of his meeting with people by the river-side. On one occasion a man sat roasting a pig on the river-bank, and, when he left it for a moment, Silau took it and divided it among the other crocodiles, who greatly enjoyed it. Silau then arranged with them that he would give a sign to his human relatives by which the crocodiles might always be able to recognise them when travelling on the river. He told his human friends that they must tie leaves of the DRACAENA below the bows of their boats; this they always do when they go far from home, so that the crocodiles may recognise them and so abstain from attacking them.

If a man of the Long Patas is taken by a crocodile, they attribute this to the fact that they have intermarried to some extent with Kayans. When they come upon a crocodile lying on the river-bank, they say, "Be easy, grandfather, don't mind us, your are one of us." Some of the Klemantans will not even eat anything that has been cooked in a vessel previously used for cooking crocodile's flesh, and it is said that if a man should do so unwittingly his body would become covered with sores.

If a crocodile is seen on their left hand by Long Patas on a war expedition, that is a bad omen; but if on their right hand, that is the best possible omen.

The Orang Kaya Tumonggong tells us that in the olden times the crocodiles used to speak to his people, warning them of danger, but that now they never speak, and he supposes that their silence is due to the fact that his people have intermarried with other tribes. The Long Patas frequently carve a crocodile's head as the figurehead for a war-canoe.

The Batu Blah people (Klemantans) on returning from the war-path make a huge effigy of a crocodile with cooked rice, and they put fowl's eggs in its head for eyes and bananas for teeth, and cover it with scales made from the stem of the banana plant. When all is ready it is transfixed with a wooden spear, and the chief cuts off its head with a wooden sword. Then pigs and fowls are slaughtered and cooked, and eaten with the rice from the rice-crocodile, the chiefs eating the head and the common people the body. The chief of these people could give us no explanation of the meaning of this ceremony; he merely says they do it because it is custom.

One community of Klemantans, the Lelak people, lived recently on the banks of a lake much infested with crocodiles. Their chief had the reputation of being able to induce them to leave the lake. To achieve this he would stand in his boat waving a bundle of charms, which included among other things teeth of the real tiger and boars' tusks, and then address the crocodiles politely in their own language. He would then allow his boat to float out of the lake into the river, and the crocodiles would follow him and pass on down the river.

Many, probably all, Klemantans put up wooden images of the crocodile before their houses, and many of them carve the prow of their war-canoes into the form of a crocodile's head with gaping jaw.

Some of the Muruts make an effigy of the crocodile from clay for use on the celebration of a successful expedition.

The Punans

The Punans make use of all the omen-birds that are used by the Kenyahs, and they regard them as in some degree sacred, and not to be killed or eaten. They seem to read the omens in much the same way as the Kenyahs do; but they are not so constant in their cult of the omen-birds, and Punans of different districts differ a good deal from one another in this respect. In fact, it is doubtful whether those that have mixed least with the other peoples pay any attention to the omen-birds; and it seems not unlikely that the cult of the omen-birds is in process of being adopted by them.

With the exception of these birds there is probably no wild animal of the jungle that the Punans do not kill and eat. They refuse to eat the domestic pig, but this, they say, is because they know nothing of it, it is strange to them. Having no domestic pigs and fowls, they of course do not sacrifice them to their gods, nor do they seem to practise the rite of sacrifice in any form.

They give the names of various animals to their children, and they use these names in the ordinary way.

The crocodile seems to be regarded as a god by the Punans — they speak of it as Bali Penyalong. (This, as we have already said, is the name of the Supreme Spirit of the Kenyahs.) They sometimes make a wooden image of it, and hang it before the leaf shelter or hut in which they may be living at any time; and if one of their party should fall ill, they hang the blossom of the betel-nut tree on the figure, and the medicine-man addresses it when he seeks to call back the wandering soul of his patient.

Punans certainly ascribe significance to the behaviour of a few animals other than those observed by the other peoples. Thus, if they see a lizard of any kind upon a branch before the shelter in which they are encamped, and especially if it utters its note, they regard this as a sign that enemies are near.

The Sea Dayaks or Ibans

The Ibans do not seem to have any conception that corresponds closely to the Supreme Spirit of the races with which we have already dealt. Archdeacon Perham[140] has given an account of the Petara of these people, showing how it is a conception of one god having very many manifestations and functions, each special function being conceived vaguely as an anthropomorphic deity. He has described also the mythical warrior-hero and demi-god Klieng, and the god of war, Singalang Burong. As Archdeacon Perham has said, this last deity has a material animal form, namely, the white-headed hawk, which is the Bali Flaki of the Kenyahs, and plays a somewhat similar part in their lives. But Singalong Burong is decidedly more anthropomorphic than Bali Flaki; he is probably generally conceived as a single being of human form living in a house such as the Ibans themselves inhabit; whereas Bali Flaki, even if sometimes conceived in the singular as the great Bali Flaki, is very bird-like. We have seen that the Kayans describe their hawk-god, Laki Neho, as dwelling in a house, which, though in the top of a tree, has a landing-stage before it on the river-bank.

In the case of the Kayans, the conception is only half-way on the road to a full anthropomorph; whereas with the Ibans the change has been completed and the hawk-god is completely anthropomorphic. Corresponding with this increased importance and definition of the anthropomorphic hawk-god, we find that for the Mans the virtue has departed out of the individual hawks, and that they are no longer consulted for omens; for the Ibans say that Singalang Burong never leaves his house, and that for this reason they do not take omens from the hawks when going on the war-path. Nevertheless, he is the chief or ruler over all the other omen birds, who are merely his messengers. He thus seems to have come to occupy almost the supreme position accorded to Bali Penyalong by the Kenyahs. The following notes are the statements made upon this subject by a very intelligent Iban of the Undup district: Once a year they make a big feast for Singalang Burong and sing for about twelve hours, calling him and Klieng and all the Petara to the feast. (This is the ceremony known as BURONG GAWAI. It is a most tedious and monotonous performance after the first few hours.) In olden days Singalang Burong used to come to these feasts in person as a man just like an Iban in appearance and behaviour. At the end of the feast he would go out, take off his coat, and fly away in the form of a white-headed hawk. Now they are not sure that he comes to their feast, because they never see him, Singalang Burong is greater than Klieng, although, it is Klieng that gives them heads in war. Singalang Burong married an Iban woman, Kachindai Lanai Pantak Girak, and he gave all his daughters in marriage to the omen-birds. Dara Inchin Tembaga Monghok Chelabok married Katupong (SASIA ABNORMIS); Dara Selaka Utih Nujut married Mambuas (CARCURENTIS); Pingai Tuai Nadai Mertas Indu Moa Puchang Penabas married Bragai (HARPACTES); Indu Langgu Katungsong Ngumbai Dayang Katupang Bunga Nketai married Papau (HARPACTES DIARDI); and, lastly, Indu Bantok Tinchin Mas Ndu Pungai Lelatan Pulas married Kotok (LEPOCESTES). He had also one son, Agi Melieng etc., who married the daughter of Pulang Gana, the god of agriculture, her name being Indu Kachanggut Rumput Melieng Kapian.

It was amusing and instructive to hear this Iban rattle off these enormous names without any hesitation, while another Iban sitting beside him guaranteed their accuracy.

In the olden days, it is said, there were only thirty-three individuals of each kind of omen-bird (including Singalang Burong). But although these thirty-three of each kind still exist, there are many others which cannot be certainly distinguished from them, and these do not give true omens. It would be quite impossible to kill any one of these thirty-three true representatives of each kind, however much a man might try.

Nevertheless, if an Iban kills an omen-bird by mistake, he wraps it in a piece of cloth and buries it carefully in the earth, and with it he buries rice and flesh and money, entreating it not to be vexed and to forgive him, because it was all an accident. He then goes home and will speak to no one on the way, and stays in the house for the rest of that day at least.

The Ibans read omens not only from the birds mentioned above as the son-in-law of Singalang Burong, but also from some other animals. And it is interesting to note that they have made a verb from the substantive BURONG (a bird), namely, BEBURONG (to bird), I.E. to take omens of any kind, whether from bird or beast. An excellent account of the part played by omens in the life of the Ibans has been given by Archdeacon Perham in the paper referred to above, and we have nothing further to add to that account.

The hornbill must be included among the sacred birds of the Iban, although it does not give omens. On the occasion of making peace between hostile tribes, the Ibans sometimes make a large wooden image of the hornbill and hang great numbers of cigarettes upon it; and these are taken from it during the ceremony and smoked by all the men taking part in it. On the occasion of the great peace-making at Baram in March 1899, at which thousands of Kenyahs, Kayans, Klemantans, and Ibans were present,[141] the Ibans made an elaborate image of the hornbill some nine feet in height, and hung upon it many thousands of cigarettes, and these were smoked by the men of the different tribes, all apparently with full understanding of the value of the act.

A special deity or spirit, Pulang Gana, presides over the rice-culture of the Ibans, but the crocodile also is intimately concerned with it. The following account was given us by an intelligent Iban from the Batang Lupar: —

Klieng first advised the Ibans to make friends with Pulang Gana, who is a PETARA and the grandfather ("AKI") of PADI. Pulang Gana first taught them to plant PADI and instructed them in the following rites: —

On going to a new district Ibans always make a life-size image of a crocodile in clay on the land chosen for the PADI-farm. The image is made chiefly by some elderly man of good repute and noted for skilful farming. Then for seven days .the house is MALI, I.E. under special restrictions — no one may enter the house or do anything in it except eat and sleep. At the end of the seven days they go to see the clay crocodile and give it cloth and food and rice-spirit, and kill a fowl and a pig before it. The ground round about the image is kept carefully cleared and is held sacred for the next three years, and if this is not done there will be poor crops on the other farms. When the rites have been duly performed this clay crocodile destroys all the pests which eat the rice. If, in a district where Ibans have been long settled, the farm-pests become very noxious, the people pass three days MALI and then make a tiny boat of bark, which they call UTAP. They then catch one specimen of each kind of pest — one sparrow, one grasshopper, etc. — and put them into the small boat, together with all they need for food, and set the boat free to float away down the river. If this does not drive away the pests, they resort to the more thorough and certainly effectual process of making the clay crocodile.

Many Ibans claim the live crocodile as a relative, and, like almost all the other peoples, will not eat the flesh of crocodiles, and will not kill them, save in revenge when a crocodile has taken one of their household. They say that the spirit of the crocodile sometimes becomes a man just like an Iban, but better and more powerful in every way, and sometimes he is met and spoken with in this form.

Another reason given for their fear of killing crocodiles is that Ribai, the river-god, sometimes becomes a crocodile; and he may become also a tiger or a bear. Klieng, too, may become any one of five beasts, namely, the python, the maias, the crocodile, the bear, or the tiger, and it is for this reason that Ibans seldom kill these animals. For if a man should kill one which was really either Ribai or Klieng, he would go mad.

The Ibans are by nature a less serious-minded and less religious people than the Kenyahs and Kayans, and they have a greater variety of myths and extravagant superstitions; nevertheless, they use the fowl and the pig as sacrificial animals in much the same way as the other tribes. They eat the fowl and both the wild and domestic pig freely, except in so far as they are restrained by somewhat rigid notions of economy in such matters. The fowl plays a larger part than the pig in their religious practices, and its entrails are sometimes consulted for omens.

Ibans will kill and eat all kinds of deer, but there are exceptions to this rule. The deer are of some slight value to them as omen-givers. Horned cattle they will kill and eat, but they are not accustomed to their flesh, and few of them relish it.

Ibans have numerous animal fables that remind one strongly of AEsop's fables and the Brer Rabbit stories of the Africans. In these KORA, the land-tortoise, and PLANDOK, the tiny mouse-deer, figure largely as cunning and unprincipled thieves and vagabonds that turn the laugh always against the bigger animals and man.[142]

The NGARONG or Secret Helper

An important institution among some of the Ibans, which occurs but in rare instances among the other peoples, is the NGARONG[143] or secret helper. The NGARONG IS one of the very few topics in regard to which the Ibans display any reluctance to speak freely. So great is their reserve in this connection that one of us lived for fourteen years on friendly terms with Ibans of various districts without ascertaining the meaning of the word NGARONG, or suspecting the great importance of the part played by the notion in the lives of some of these people. The NGARONG seems to be usually the spirit of some ancestor or dead relative, but not always so, and it is not clear that it is always conceived as the spirit of a deceased human being. This spirit becomes the special protector of some individual Iban, to whom in a dream he manifests himself, in the first place in human form, and announces that he will be his secret helper; and he may or may not inform the dreamer in what form he will appear in future. On the day after such a dream the Iban wanders through the jungle looking for signs by which he may recognise his secret helper; and if an animal behaves in a manner at all unusual, if a startled deer stops a moment to gaze at him before bounding away, if a gibbon gambols about persistently in the trees near him, if he comes upon a bright quartzcrystal or a strangely. contorted root or creeper,[144] that animal or object is for him full of a mysterious significance and is the abode of his NGARONG. Sometimes the NGARONG, then assumes the form of an Iban and speaks with him, promising all kinds of help and good fortune. If this occurs the seer usually faints away, and when he comes to himself again the NGARONG will have disappeared. Or, again, a man may be told in his dream that if he will go into the jungle he will meet his NGARONG in the form of a wild boar. He will then, of course, go to seek it, and if by chance other men of his house should kill a wild boar that day, he will go to them and beg for its head or buy it at a good price if need be, carry it home to his bed-place, offer it cooked rice and kill a fowl before it, smearing the blood on the head and on himself, and humbly begging for pardon. Or he may leave the corpse in the jungle and sacrifice a fowl before it there. On the following night he hopes to dream of the NGARONG again, and perhaps he is told in his dream to take the tusks from the dead boar and that they will bring him good luck. Unless he dreams something of this sort, he feels that he has been mistaken, and that the boar was not really his secret helper.

Perhaps only one in a hundred men is fortunate enough to have a secret helper, though it is ardently desired by many of them. Many a young man goes to sleep on the grave of some distinguished person, or in some wild and lonely spot, and lives for some days on a very restricted diet, hoping that a secret helper will come to him in his dreams.

When, as is most commonly the case, the secret helper takes on the form of some animal, all individuals of that species become objects of especial regard to the fortunate Iban; he will not kill or eat any such animal, and he will as far as possible restrain others from doing so. A NGARONG may after a time manifest itself in some new form, but even then the Iban will continue to respect the animal-form in which it first appeared.

In some cases the cult of a secret helper will spread through a whole family or household. The children and grandchildren will usually respect the species of animal to which a man's secret helper belongs, and will perhaps sacrifice fowls or pigs to it occasionally, although they expect no help from it; but it is asserted that if the great-grandchildren of a man behave well to his secret helper, it will often befriend them just as much as its original protege.

The above general account of the secret helper is founded on the descriptions of many different Ibans, and we will now supplement it by describing several particular instances.

Anggus (an Ulu Ai Iban of the Batang Lupar) says that every Iban who has no NGARONG hopes to get some bird or beast as his helper at the BEGAWAI, the feast given to the PETARA. He himself has none, but he will not kill the gibbon because the NGARONG of his grandfather, who died twenty years ago, was a gibbon. Once a man came to his grandfather in a dream and said to him, "Don't you kill the gibbon," and then turned into a grey gibbon. This gibbon helped him to become rich and to take heads, and in all possible ways. On one occasion, when he was about to go on the war-path, his NGARONG came to him in a dream and said, "Go on, I will help you," and the next day he saw in the jungle a grey gibbon which was undoubtedly his NGARONG. When he died he said to his sons, "Don't you kill the gibbon," and his sons and grandsons have obeyed him in this ever since. Anggus adds that when a man dreams of a NGARONG. for the first time he does not accept it, and will still kill animals of that kind; nor is a second dream enough; but when he dreams the same dream a third time, then his scepticism is overcome and he can no longer doubt his good fortune.

Anggus himself once shot a gibbon when told to do so by one of us. He first said to it, "I don't want to kill you, but the TUAN who is giving me wages expects me to, and the blame is his. But if you are really the NGARONG of my grandfather, make the shot miss you." He then shot and missed three times, and on shooting a fourth time he killed a gibbon, but not the one he had spoken to. Anggus does not think the gibbon helps either his father or himself.

Payang, an old Katibas Iban, tells us that he has been helped by a python ever since he was a youth, when a man came to him in a dream and said, "Sometimes I become a python and sometimes a cobra, and I will always help you." It has certainly helped him very much, but he does not know whether it has helped his children; nevertheless he has forbidden them to kill it. He does not like to speak of it, but he does so at our request. Payang concluded by saying that he had no doubt that we white men have secret helpers, very much more powerful than the Iban's, and that to them we owe our ability to do so many wonderful things.

Imban, an Iban who had recently moved to the Baram river from the Rejang, had once when sick seen in a dream the LABI-LABI, the large river-turtle (TRIONYX SUBPLANUS), and had made a promise that if he should recover he would never kill it. So when he settled on the Baram river as head of a household, he attempted to impose a fine on his people for killing the LABI-LABI, insisting that it was MALI to kill it or bring its carcase into his river. They appealed to one of us as the resident magistrate, and it was decided that if Imban wished to insist on this observance he must remove to a small tributary stream. This he has done, and a few of his people have followed him; and on them he enforces a strict observance of his cult of the river-turtle.

A still more interesting case is the following one: — A community of Ibans were building a new house on the Dabai river some years ago, and one day, while they were at work, a porcupine ran out of a hole in the ground near by. During the following night one of the party was told by the porcupine in a dream to join their new house with his (the porcupine's). So they completed their house; and ever since that time they have made yearly feasts in honour of the porcupines that live beneath the house, and no one in the house dare injure one of them, though they will still kill and eat other porcupines in the jungle. They have had no death in the house during the seven years that it has been built, and this they attribute to the protecting power of the porcupines; and when any one is sick, they offer food to them, and regard their good offices as far more important than the ministrations of the MANANG (the medicine-man). Last year some relatives of these Ibans moved to this village, and for three months the knowledge of the part played by the porcupines was hidden from them as a mysterious secret. At the end of that time this precious mystery was disclosed to the new-comers, and the porcupines were feasted with every variety of cooked rice, some of it being made into a rude image of a porcupine, and with rice-spirit and cakes of sugar and rice-flour, salt and dried fish, oil, betel-nut, and tobacco. Several fowls were slain, and their blood was daubed on the chin of each person in the house, a ceremony known as ENSELAN. The liver of one fowl was carefully taken out and put with the food offered to the porcupines, that they might read the omens from it; and they were then informed of the arrival of the new-comers. The fowls were waved over the heads of the people by the old men, while they prayed the porcupines to give them long life and health, and a token of their goodwill in the form of a smooth rounded pebble. On an occasion of this sort it is highly probable that the required token will be found; for the secret helper would no doubt be surreptitiously helped by some member of the household who, being deficient in faith, prefers to make a certainty of so important a matter rather than leave it entirely to the NGARONG.

Inquiries made since the publication of the facts reported in the foregoing paragraphs have shown us that the cult of the NGARONG or secret helper is probably not common to all branches of the Sea Dayaks people. We have heard of its occurrence amongst the Ulu Ai Dayaks both of the Batang Lupar and Rejang districts, but we have no positive knowledge of its occurrence among other branches unless the custom known as NAMPOK has some connection with it.


We have now to discuss some problems suggested by a review of the facts set forth above, and to bring forward a few additional facts that seem to throw light on these questions.

The question that we will first discuss is this: Are all or any of the instances of peculiar regard paid to animals, or of animals sacrificed to gods or spirits, or of the ceremonial use of their blood, to be regarded as institutions surviving from a fully developed system of totemism now fallen into decay? It will have been noticed that many of the features of totemism, as it occurs in its best developed forms, occur among the people of one or other of the tribes of Sarawak. We have, in the first place, numerous cases in which a whole community refuses to kill or eat an animal which is believed to protect and aid them by omens and warnings and in other ways, and in which the animal is worshipped with prayer and sacrifice (E.G. the hawk among various tribes); we have at least one instance of a community claiming to be related to a friendly species (Long Patas and the crocodile), and having as usual an extravagant myth to account for the belief; we have the domestic animal that is sacrificially slain, its blood being sprinkled on the worshippers and its flesh eaten by them, and that is never slain without religious rites (pig of the Kenyahs and Kayans); we have the animal that must not be killed tatued on the skin of the men (the dog), or its skin worn by fully grown men only (the tiger-cat), or images of it made of clay or carved in wood and set up before the house (the hawk and crocodile); we have also the animal that is claimed as a relative imitated in popular dances (the Dok-monkey of the Kayans); the belief that the souls of men assume the form of some animal that must not be killed or eaten (deer and the ARCTOGALE among Klemantans); the observance by invalids of a very strict avoidance of contact with any part of an animal that must not be killed or eaten in any case (horned cattle among many Kenyahs and Kayans).

Not only do we see these various customs, which in several parts of the world have been observed as living elements of totem-cults, and which in other parts have been accepted as evidence of totem-worship in the past, but in the agricultural habits of the people we may see an efficient cause of the decay of totemism, if at some time in the past it has flourished among them. For it has been pointed out, especially by Mr. Jevons in his INTRODUCTION TO THE HISTORY OF RELIGION, that totemism seems to flourish most naturally among tribes of hunters, and that the introduction of agriculture must tend towards its decay. Now there is some reason to suppose that the introduction to Borneo of rice and of the art of cultivating it is of comparatively recent date. Crawford reckoned that the cultivation of PADI was introduced to the southern parts of Borneo from Java some 300 years ago, and into the northern parts from the Philippine Islands about 150 years ago. But whatever the date of the occurrence may have been, it seems to be certain that, by the introduction of PADI cultivation from some other country, most of the tribes of Sarawak were converted, probably very rapidly, from hunting to agriculture. This conversion must have caused great changes in their social conditions and in their customs and superstitions; and, if totemism flourished among them while they were still simple hunters, its decay may well have been one of the chief of these changes.

A second factor that would have tended to bring about this change is the prevalence of a belief in a god or beneficent spirit more powerful than all others, and more directly concerned with the welfare of his worshippers, however this belief may have come into being. And a third factor that may have tended in the same direction is the custom of head-hunting, and the important part played by the heads in the religious life of the people. For there is some reason to think that head-hunting is a comparatively young institution among the tribes of Sarawak.

But in spite of all this, and although we do not think it is possible completely to disprove the truth of the hypothesis that some or all of these animal cults are vestiges of a once fully developed totemic system, we are inclined to reject it. We are led to do so by four considerations. In the first place, if by totemism we mean a social organisation consisting in the division of a people into groups or clans, each of which worships or holds in superstitious regard one or more kinds of animal or plant, or other natural objects to which the members of the group claim to be related by blood or by descent, then it seems to us sufficiently wonderful that this system should have existed among peoples so remote from one another in all things, save certain of the external conditions of life, as the Indians of North America and the natives of Australia. And it seems to us that to invoke the aid of the hypothesis of totemism in the past to explain the existence of a set of animal or plant superstitions in any particular case is but to increase the mystery that shrouds their origin; for unless it can be shown that the adoption or development of totemism by any people brings with it immense advantages for them in the struggle for existence, every fresh case in which the evidence compels us to admit its occurrence, whether in the past or as a still flourishing institution, can but increase the wonder with which we have to regard its wide distribution.

Secondly, we have in the total absence of totemism among the Punans very strong ground for rejecting the suggestion of its previous existence among the Kenyahs. For in physical characters, in language, and, as far as the difference in the mode of life permits, in customs and beliefs, the Punans resemble the Kenyahs so closely that we must assume them to be closely allied by blood; and it seems probable that the Punans have merely persisted in the cultural condition from which the Kenyahs and other tribes have been raised by the adoption of agriculture and the practice of building substantial houses. Yet, as we have said, the Punans, although in that condition of nomadic hunters which is probably the most favourable to the development and persistence of totemism, observe hardly any restrictions in their hunting, and in fact seem to kill and eat with equal freedom almost every bird and beast of the jungle, shooting them with the blow-pipe and poisoned darts with consummate skill. The only exceptions to this rule are, so far as we know, the omen-birds, a carnivore, and a lizard, and, as we have said, it seems doubtful whether even these are excepted in the case of Punans who have not had much intercourse with other peoples.

Thirdly, although it may be said that even at the present time many of the features of the religious side of totemism are present, we have not been able to discover any traces of a social organisation based upon totemism. There is no trace of any general division of the people of any tribe into groups which claim specially intimate relations with different animals, except in the case of the Klemantans; and in their case such special relations seem to be the result merely of the different conditions under which the various scattered groups now live. There are no restrictions in the choice of a wife that might indicate a rule of endogamy or exogamy. There are no ceremonies to initiate youths into tribal mysteries; certain ceremonies in which the youths take a leading part are directed exclusively to training them for war and the taking of heads in battle. We know of no instance of any group of people being named after an animal or plant which is claimed as a relative; and in the case of the more homogeneous tribes, such as the Kenyahs and Kayans, all prohibitions with regard to animals and all benefits conferred by them are shared equally by all the members of any one community, and, with but very few exceptions, are the same for all the communities of the tribe.

Lastly, we think it unnecessary to regard the various animal superstitions of these tribes as survivals of totemism, because it seems possible to find a more direct and natural explanation of almost every case. The numerous cases seem to fall into two groups: the superstitious practices concerned with the sacrificial animals, the pig and fowl on the one hand, and all those concerned with the various other animals on the other hand. These latter may, we think, be regarded as the expression of the direct and logical reaction of the mind of the savage to the impression made upon it by the behaviour of the animals.

It has been admirably shown by Professor Lloyd Morgan[145] how we ourselves, and even professed psychologists among us, tend to overestimate the complexity of the mental processes of animals; and there can be no doubt that savages generally are subject to this error in a very much greater degree, that, in fact, they make, without questioning and in most cases without explicit statement even to themselves, the practical assumption that the mental processes of animals — their passions, desires, motives, and powers of reasoning — are of the same order as, and in fact extremely similar to, their own. That the Kenyahs entertain this belief in a very practical manner is shown by their conduct when preparing for a hunting or fishing excursion. If, for example, they are preparing to poison the fish of a section of the river with the "tuba" root, they always speak of the matter as little as possible, and use the most indirect and fanciful modes of expression. Thus they will say, "There are many leaves floating here," meaning, "There are plenty of fish in this part of the river." And these elaborate precautions are taken lest the birds should overhear their remarks and inform the fish of their intentions — when, of course, the fish would not stay to be caught, but would swim away to some other part of the river.

Since this belief seems to be common to all or almost all savages and primitive peoples, it would be a strange thing if prohibitions against killing and eating certain animals and various superstitious practices in regard to animals were not practically universal among them. Bearing in mind the reality of this belief in the minds of these peoples, it is easy to understand why they should shrink from killing any creature so malignant-looking and powerful for harm as a snake, and why they should feel uneasy in the presence of, and to some extent dread, the MAIAS and the longnosed monkey, creatures whose resemblance to man seems even to us somewhat uncanny. Their objection to killing their troublesome and superfluous dogs seems to be due to a somewhat similar feeling — a recognition of intelligence and emotions not unlike their own, but mysteriously hidden from them by the dumbness of the animals. In the same way it is clear that it is but a very simple and logical inference that the crocodiles are a friendly race, and but the clearest dictate of prudence to avoid offending creatures so powerful and agile; for if the crocodiles were possessed of the mental powers attributed to them by the imagination of the people, they might easily make it impossible for men to travel upon the rivers or dwell on their banks. A similar process would lead to the prohibition against the eating of the tiger-cat, the only large and dangerous carnivore.

The origin of the prohibitions against killing and eating deer and horned cattle is perhaps not so clear. But it must be remembered that until very recently the only horned cattle known to the tribes of the interior were the wild cattle (the Seladang of the Malay peninsula), very fierce and powerful creatures. These wild cattle hide themselves in the remotest recesses of the forests, and, as they are but very rarely seen, they may well be regarded as somewhat mysterious and awful. Deer, on the other hand, abound in the forests, and, like most deer, are very timid; and it is perhaps their timidity that has led in some cases to the prohibition against their flesh, for we have seen how a Kenyah chief feared lest his little son, safe at home, should be infected with the deer's timidity if he himself a hundred miles away should come in contact with the skin of one. In another case we have seen that by the people of one community deer are regarded as relatives, or as containing the souls of their ancestors, and that this belief probably had its origin in the fact that deer are in "the habit of frequenting the grassy clearings made about the tombs by the people. And we saw that a similar belief in respect of certain carnivores probably had a similar origin.

We think that even the elaborate cult of the hawk and of the other omen-birds is to be explained on these lines. If we think of the hawk's erratic behaviour, how he will come suddenly rushing down out of the remotest blue of the sky to hover overhead, and then perhaps to circle hither and thither in an apparently aimless manner, or will keep flying on before a boat on the river, or come swiftly to meet it, screaming as he comes, — if we think of this, it is easy to understand how a people whose whole world consists of dense forests and dangerous rivers, a people extremely ignorant of natural causation, yet intelligent and speculative, and always looking out for signs that shall guide them among the mystery and dangers that surround them, may have come to see in the hawk a messenger sent to them by the beneficent Supreme Being. For this Being is vaguely conceived by them as dwelling in the skies whence the hawk comes, and whither he so often returns. And then we may suppose that the messenger himself has come to be an object of worship in various degrees with the different tribes, as seems to be the rule in all religious systems in which servants of a deity mediate between him and man.

The origin of the various rites in which the fowl and pig are sacrificed, and their blood smeared or sprinkled on men or on the altar-posts of gods, or on the image of the hawk, and their souls charged with messages to the Supreme Being — the origin of this group of customs must be sought in a different direction. To any one acquainted with Robertson Smith's RELIGION OF THE SEMITES, and with Mr. Jevon's INTRODUCTION TO THE HISTORY OF RELIGION, the idea naturally suggests itself that these animals are or were true totems, of which the cult has passed into a late stage of decay. It might be supposed that, being originally totem animals, they thereby became domesticated by their worshippers; that they were occasionally slain as a rite for the renewal of the bond between them and their worshippers, their blood being smeared or sprinkled on the latter, and their flesh ceremonially eaten by them; and that the eating of them has become more and more frequent, until now every religious rite, of however small importance, is made the occasion for the killing and eating of them. It might also be supposed that, with the development or the adoption of the conception of a Supreme Being, the original purpose and character of the rites had become obscure, so that the slaughtered animals are now regarded in some cases as sacrifices offered to the deity.

But we do not think that this tempting hypothesis as to the origin of the rites can be upheld in this case. In the first place, the wild pig of the jungle is hunted in sport and killed and eaten freely by all the various tribes, and is, in fact, treated on the whole with less respect and ceremony than perhaps any other animal. Secondly, the domestic pig differs so much from the wild pig that Mr. Oldfield Thomas has pronounced it to be of a different species, and it seems possible that it has been introduced to Borneo by the Chinese at a comparatively recent date. Further, there is reason to suppose that the custom of sacrificing pigs and fowls arose through the substitution of them for human beings in certain rites. For there is a number of rites of which it is admitted by the people that the slaughter of human beings was formerly a central feature; of these, the most important and the most widely spread are the funeral rites of a great chief, the rites at the building of a new house, and those on returning from a successful war expedition. In all these fowls or pigs are now substituted as a rule, but we know of instances in which in recent years human beings were the victims. Thus some years ago, on the death of the chief of a community of Klemantans (the Orang Bukit), a slave was bought by his son, and a feast was made, and the slave was killed through each man of the community giving him a slight wound. This was said to be the revival of an old and almost obsolete custom. In another recent case, when a mixed party of Kayans and Kenyahs returned from a successful war expedition, only the Kenyahs had secured heads. The Kayans therefore took an old woman, one of the captives, and killed her by driving a long pole against her abdomen, as many of them as possible taking part by holding and helping to thrust the pole. The head was then divided among the parties of Kayans, and pieces of the flesh were hung on poles beside the river, just as is done with the flesh of slain enemies and with the flesh of the pigs that are always slaughtered on such occasions. It was said that this killing of a human being was equivalent to killing a pig, only much finer.

Kayans tell us that they used to kill slaves at the death of a chief, usually three, but at least one, and that they nailed them to the tomb, in order that they might accompany the chief on his long journey to the other world and paddle the canoe in which he must travel. This is no longer done, but a wooden figure of a man is put up at the head and another of a woman at the foot of the coffin of a chief as it lies in state before the funeral. And a small wooden figure of a man is usually fixed on the top of the tomb, and it is said that this is to row the canoe for the chief. A live fowl is usually tied to this figure, and although it is said to be put there merely to eat the maggots, we think there can be no doubt that we see here going on the process of substitution of fowl for slave.

In building a new house it is customary among almost all these tribes to put a fowl into the hole dug to receive the first of the piles that are to support the house, and to allow the end of the pile to fall upon the fowl so as to kill it. The Kenyahs admit that formerly a girl was usually killed in this way, and there is reason to believe that in all cases a human victim was formerly the rule, and that the fowl is a substitute merely.[146]

In the following cases, too, we see the idea of substitution of fowls or pigs for men.

It is customary with the Malanaus of Niah to kill buffalo, and also to kill fowls, and put them together with eggs on poles in the caves in which the swifts build the edible nests, in order to secure a good crop of nests. One year, when the nests were scanty they bought a slave in Brunei, and killed him in the cave, in the hope of increasing the number of nests.

It was formerly the custom to exact a fine of one or more slaves as punishment for certain offences, E.G. the accidental setting fire to a house. At the present time, when slaves are scarcer than of yore, they are rarely given in such cases, but usually brass gongs; and the gongs are always accompanied by a pig.

Now, when slaves were killed and nailed to the tomb of a chief, the purpose was perfectly clear and simple. It Was done in just the same spirit in which the weapons and shield and clothing are still always hung on the tomb of a deceased warrior, in order, namely, that his shade may not be without them on the journey to the other world. On the introduction of the domestic pig it may well have become customary for the poorer classes, who could not afford to kill a slave, or for families which owned no slaves, to kill a pig as in some degree a compensation for the want of human victims. If such a custom were once introduced, it may well have spread rapidly from motives of both economy and humanity; for a slave is as a rule very kindly treated by his master, and in many cases comes to be regarded as a member of the family.

We may suppose, too, that it was formerly the custom to kill a slave when prayers of public importance were made to the Supreme Being, in order that the soul of the slave might carry the prayer to him. If this was the case, the substitution of pig for slave, on the introduction of the domestic pig, may be the more readily conceived to have become customary, when we remember that these people regard the souls of animals as essentially similar to their own.[147] If such a custom of substitution once gained a footing, it would naturally become usual to take the opportunity of communicating with the higher powers whenever a pig was to be slaughtered.

This view, that in all sacrifices of the pig and fowl these are but substitutes for human victims, finds very strong support in the following facts: — The Kalabits, a tribe inhabiting the north-western corner of the Baram district, breed the water-buffalo and use it in cultivating their land. It has probably been introduced to this area from North Borneo at a recent date. The religious rites of this people closely resemble those of the tribes with which we have been dealing above; but in all cases in which pigs are sacrificed by the latter, buffaloes are used by the Kalabits.

The rite of sprinkling the blood of pigs and fowls on men and on the altar-posts and images may, we think, be an extension or adaptation of the blood-brotherhood ceremony. We have seen that with the Kayans and Kenyahs the essential feature of this ceremony is the drawing of a little blood from the arm of the two men, each of whom then drinks or consumes in a cigarette the blood of the other one. Such a rite calls for no remote explanation; it seems to have suggested itself naturally to the minds of primitive people all the world over as a process for the cementing of friendship. When two hostile communities wished to make a permanent peace with one another, it would be natural that they should wish to perform a ceremony similar to the rite of blood-brotherhood. But the interchange of drops of blood between large numbers of persons would obviously be inconvenient; and if the idea of substituting fowls and pigs for human victims had once taken root in their minds, it would have been but a small step to substitute their blood for human blood in the peacemaking ceremonies. We have seen above that in such a ceremony fowls are exchanged by the two parties, so that the men of either party are smeared with the blood of the fowl originally belonging to the other party. It may be that here, too, the blood of slaves was formerly used, but of this we have no evidence. The custom of smearing the blood of fowls and pigs on the two parties to a friendly compact having been arrived at in this way, the rite might readily be extended to the cases in which the hawk, represented by his wooden image, or the Supreme Being, also represented by an image, is invoked as one of the parties to the compact. We are inclined to think that in some such way as we have here suggested, namely, by the substitution of pigs and fowls for human victims, and of their blood for human blood, the origin of the customs of sacrificing fowls and pigs, and of ceremonially sprinkling their blood, may be explained.

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