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Title: Seventeen Years Among the Sea Dyaks of Borneo - A Record of Intimate Association with the Natives of the Bornean Jungles
Author: Gomes, Edwin Herbert
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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      *      *      *      *      *      *


Cliff Castles and Cave Dwellings of Europe.

    By S. BARING-GOULD, M.A., Author of “Family Names and their
    Story,” “The Tragedy of the Cæsars,” “Curious Myths of the
    Middle Ages,” &c. With 54 Illustrations and Diagrams. Demy
    8vo., 12s. 6d. net.

Seventeen Years Among the Sea Dyaks of Borneo.

    A Record of Intimate Association with the Natives of the
    Bornean Jungles. By EDWIN H. GOMES, M.A., Author of “The Sea
    Dyaks of Borneo,” &c. With an Introduction by the Rev. JOHN
    PERHAM, formerly Archdeacon of Singapore. With 40 Illustrations
    and a Map. Demy 8vo., 16s.

Among the Rajahs and Ryots of Northern India.

    A Civil Servant’s Recollections and Impressions of Thirty-seven
    Years of Work and Sport in the Central Provinces and
    Bengal. By Sir ANDREW H. L. FRASER, K.C.S.I., M.A., LL.D.,
    Ex-Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal. With 34 Illustrations and a
    Map. Demy 8vo., 18s.

    _Second Edition._

Fighting the Slave-Hunters in Central Africa.

    A Record of Twenty-six Years of Travel and Adventure round the
    Great Lakes, and of the Overthrow of Tip-pu-tib, Rumaliza,
    and other Great Slave-traders. By ALFRED J. SWANN. With 45
    Illustrations and a Map. Demy 8vo., 16s. net.

    “This is an extraordinarily fascinating book.”—_Athenæum._

Family Names and their Story.

    By S. BARING-GOULD, M.A. Demy 8vo., 7s. 6d. net.

    “This most entertaining of volumes.”—_Evening Standard._

    _Third Edition._

Among the Wild Tribes of the Afghan Frontier.

    A Record of Sixteen Years’ Close Intercourse with the Natives
    of the Indian Marches. By T. L. PENNELL, M.D., B.Sc.,
    F.R.G.S. With an Introduction by LORD ROBERTS, V.C. With 37
    Illustrations and two Maps. Demy 8vo., 16s. net.

    “This interesting and valuable book.”—_Manchester Guardian._

The Childhood of Man.

    A Popular Account of the Lives, Customs, and Thoughts of the
    Primitive Races. By Dr. LEO FROBENIUS. Translated by Prof. A.
    H. KEANE, LL.D., F.R.G.S. With 415 Illustrations. Demy 8vo.,
    16s. net.

    “The general reader will find much that is entertaining in ‘The
    Childhood of Man,’ while the student cannot afford to overlook
    it.”—Dr. A. C. HADDON in _The Nation_.


      *      *      *      *      *      *


She has in her hair a comb decorated with silver filigree work. Round her
neck is a necklace of beads. The rings round her body are made of hoops
of cane, round which little brass rings are arranged close together so
that none of the cane is visible. These hoops are worn next to the body
above the waist, and over the petticoat below. The silver coins fastened
to this brass corset, and worn as belts round it, are the silver coins of
the country. The petticoat is a broad strip of cloth, sewn together at
the ends and having an opening at the top and bottom. It is fastened at
the waist with a piece of string.]


A Record of Intimate Association with
the Natives of the Bornean Jungles



And an Introduction by the Reverend John Perham
Formerly Archdeacon of Singapore

With 40 Illustrations & a Map

Seeley & Co. Limited
38 Great Russell Street



With the establishment of Rajah Brooke’s government in Sarawak, the
different races of its native population gradually became known to
English people, and at length the Dyakland of Borneo has found a definite
place and shape in the English mind, much as the Zululand of Africa
has done. The Sea Dyak soon appeared in print; travellers mentioned
him, sometimes only as a simple savage; men who have spent some time
in the country, like the late Sir Hugh Low and the late Sir Spenser
St. John, described something of his life; missionary reports had him
in their pages; European residents and civil administrators and others
wrote of him in various papers and periodicals. But most, if not all,
of these accounts were unavoidably brief, partial, and sketchy, for it
did not come within the scope of their purpose to set forth a full and
systematic statement of all things Dyak. Mr. Ling Roth collected all the
notes about Dyaks he could find, from various sources, and published
his harvest of accumulations in two large volumes. It is a monument of
industrious collecting; but his work is that of the scissors rather than
of the pen, a compilation rather than a writing; and in the extracts,
being the productions of various writers at different periods, we see
much overlapping and repetition, and some confusion; and, necessarily,
such a book was too bulky to obtain a general circulation. More recently
Miss Eda Green has given to English readers a little book about Borneo,
wonderful in its general accuracy, and vivid in its descriptions; but
it is meant especially for missionary circles and missionary reading—in
fact, it was written expressly for the Borneo Mission Association, whose
objects it has done much to promote. But it is a book about the Mission
rather than about the Dyaks, and it does not profess to give a complete
account of the entire field of Sea Dyak life.

This is Mr. Gomes’s object, and he attains it. His book is not a mere
personal narrative of life in Sarawak. We have in it a very full,
systematic, and comprehensive description of Sea Dyak life—its works,
thoughts, sentiments, superstitions, customs, religion, beliefs, and
ideals. Our attention is not directed to the magnificent beauties of
Bornean tropical scenery and luxuriant flora, nor to the wonders of the
insect life with which the land simply abounds. Mr. Gomes sees Dyaks,
and Dyaks only, in his mind. The “brown humanity” of the country, not
its natural history, occupies his attention. He knows that humanity
intimately, and writes from the storehouse which he has accumulated
in long years of experience and observation. And he puts all within
manageable compass and volume. His book is, I believe, the first which
contains a complete picture of Sea Dyak life in all its phases, yet in
moderate dimensions. And from my own experience of some twenty years in
Sarawak, I can testify to the truthfulness of every page.

Possibly it is sometimes thought that the missionary is not the best
man to write about the people to whom he appeals; that he may be easily
biassed in one direction or another, and may think too ill or too well
of them, and may allow his judgment to be overcoloured by his religious
purpose. A _little_ experience among the people of any race, especially
where the language is not well known, may easily result in limited
views and imperfect conceptions. But when his residence has extended
over many years, and he knows the language as well as his own; when he
has had constant opportunities of observing their tone and conduct in
every relation of life, and of hearing how they talk and think on every
imaginable subject, and of seeing how they behave at home as well as
abroad—how they bear themselves, not only to an occasional white man whom
they meet, but also to each other in social dealings—when he thus lives
in close touch with them at every point, he cannot but obtain a thorough
understanding of the realities of their lives.

And the Sea Dyaks are generally a very communicative people. They will
willingly give information about every belief and custom, and will
quietly discuss every practice and every event, good or bad; and it needs
only a little patience and sympathy to enable one to get an insight into
the working of their minds, and to realize the true character of their
actions in the struggles, the comedies, or the tragedies of their lives.

Mr. Gomes is thus able to make the Sea Dyak live before us in genuine
colours. We can see this dusky son of the jungle in his beliefs and
fears, which are many, in his work and in his play, in his ugly faults
and amiable virtues, in his weaknesses and in his abilities. And I think
that everyone who reads his pages will feel that henceforth he knows the
Sea Dyak of Sarawak better than he ever knew him before, and will come to
the conclusion that, in spite of his faults, he is a very likeable man.

The Sea Dyaks, then, are worth knowing. They constitute a very valuable
element in the population of Sarawak, not only from their numbers, but
also from their force of character. They are active, hardworking,
industrious, ready to earn an honest penny when they have the chance; and
in their domestic relations are amiable and hospitable towards strangers,
and when treated with civility and sympathy, all their good points come
to the surface. They work hard at rice-planting, which, it is true, is
of a very primitive sort, but it is the best they know, and as good
as that practised by their Mohammedan neighbours, the Malays. If some
simple system of irrigation could be introduced among them, especially
in lowland cultivation, this, their main industry, would be far more
productive than it is, and it would be a real boon to the country at
large. They have adventured upon the cultivation of other products when
the way has been made clear to them, which is an evidence of their
capacity for progress. They penetrate and traverse far-off jungles in
search of indiarubber and gutta-percha to add to their earnings. An
increasing number of them are keen upon book-learning, as Mr. Gomes
points out. They form the Rajah’s soldiers and guards, and are capable
of useful service in subordinate positions as officers. And thus these
people, who were once only known as fighters, pirates, and head-takers,
are now a real influence in the evolution of a better civilization and a
more fruitful era to come in those lands. The civilizing, Christianizing
force no doubt works slowly; but there it is, and, comparing present with
past, we can see it. A large influx of white people of the usual colonist
class would doubtless be too strong for them, and would push them out of
the way; but with a favourable chance, which they now have, of working
out a salvation for themselves, I think the Sea Dyaks have a better
future before them than Mr. Gomes appears to anticipate.

It is interesting to watch the process of a gradual enlightening going
on among such a race when brought into contact with higher civilization
and better religion. Mr. Gomes mentions some instances of its expression.
Perhaps I may add an illustrative instance which occurred in my own
experiences, many years ago. One night I was at anchor with a Dyak crew
on the Saribas River, waiting for the turn of the tide. About 3 a.m. I
was awakened by a frightened cry from one of the crew: “Antu! antu!”
(A spirit, a spirit!). Thinking myself lucky at last in a chance of
actually seeing one of those invisible beings whom Dyaks dread so much,
I pushed my head from under the mosquito-curtain, and looked out, and
beheld a comet brightly shining not far above the horizon. Presently I
heard a school-lad say: “That’s not a spirit; it’s only a star with a
tail. I have learnt about it.” There was the old superstition and the
new knowledge struggling together, a symbol of what is going on in other
departments of Dyak thought and belief—the working of that which, it is
to be hoped, will issue in a higher and an improved life for the race.
Our Author’s book will evoke a lively interest in such an improvement
in Dyakland, and will inspire a deeper sympathy with every progressive
effort towards it.

In going over Mr. Gomes’s pages my thoughts have often gone back to days,
now long past, when he and I were workers together among the people of
whom he writes so sympathetically, and many a long-forgotten incident has
come back to mind; and it is a pleasure to write a simple word of welcome
to this product of his pen, and to express a conviction that his book is
just what was wanted to give the public a clear and adequate conception
of one of the leading races which have been ruled over by the “Two White
Rajahs” of Sarawak.

                                                             JOHN PERHAM.

CHARD, _December, 1910_.


I wish to express my thanks to Sir Clement Kinloch-Cooke, M.P., for
the preface which he has kindly contributed to this volume, and for
allowing me to reproduce my translations of Sea Dyak legends which
appeared in the _Empire Review_; to Bishop Hose, under whom I worked for
seventeen years among the Sea Dyaks of Sarawak, for allowing me to use
his excellent article on “The Contents of a Dyak Medicine-chest”; to the
Rev. John Perham, formerly Archdeacon of Singapore, with whom I worked
in Sarawak for some years, for his introduction, and also for allowing
me to make use of the scholarly papers which he wrote for the _Journal
of the Straits Branch of the Asiatic Society_, on Sea Dyak Religion and
Folklore; and to the Rev. David Steele-Morris for going through the
manuscript and making many useful suggestions.

I am indebted to His Highness the Rajah of Sarawak for permission to
insert his portrait; to Dr. Charles Hose for his great kindness in
allowing me to use his excellent photographs, and also to the Society
for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts for lending me one
of their blocks; to Messrs. Bassano, of Bond Street, and Messrs. G. R.
Lambert and Co., of Singapore, whose photographs I am kindly permitted
to reproduce; to Mr. Hewitt, formerly curator of the Sarawak Museum; and
Mr. Ha Buey Hon, of Kuching, who have also been so good as to lend me

To all these, as well as to many unmentioned friends who have helped me
to write this book, I offer my sincere thanks.

                                                          EDWIN H. GOMES.

UPPER NORWOOD, _December, 1910_.



                                CHAPTER I

                        SARAWAK—SIR JAMES BROOKE

    Bornean jungles—A picture from the past—Unsettled life—Sudden
    attacks—Head-hunting—Pirates—Malay pirates—Dyak pirates—Sir
    James Brooke—the _Royalist_—Rajah Muda Hassim—Rajah of
    Sarawak—Suppression of piracy and head-hunting—Captain
    Keppel—Visit to England, 1847—Introduction of Christian
    mission—Sir Charles Brooke                                       21-32

                               CHAPTER II

                                THE DYAKS

    The word “Dyak”—Other native races in Sarawak—_Milanaus_—
    _Seru_—Sea Dyaks—Land Dyaks—The appearance of the Sea
    Dyak—Men’s dress—Tattooing—Women’s dress—_Rawai_, or
    corset—The teeth—Depilation—Language                             33-41

                               CHAPTER III

                             MANNER OF LIFE

    Dyak village house—_Tanju_—_Ruai_—_Bilik_—_Sadau_—Human
    heads—Valuable jars—Paddy-planting—Men’s work—Women’s
    tools—_Bliong_—_Duku_—Weaving—Plaiting mats and
    _Tuba_-fishing—Crocodile-catching                                42-60

                               CHAPTER IV

                           THE DYAK CHARACTER

    General remarks—Kind to children—Industrious—Frugal—Honest—Two
    cases of theft—Curses—Honesty of children—Truthful—Curious
    custom—_Tugong Bula_—Hospitable—Morals—Desire for
    children—Divorce—Adultery—Dyak law concerning adultery—Dyak
    view of marriage—Unselfishness—Domestic affection—Example        61-71

                                CHAPTER V


    Head-hunting—Women an incentive—Gruesome story—Marriage of
    Dyak Chiefs—Legend—Some customs necessitating a human head—A
    successful head-hunter not necessarily a hero—A dastardly
    crime—War expeditions—The spear token—My experience at a
    village in Krian—Dyak war costume—Weapons—The _Sumpit_—Poison
    for darts—Consulting omen birds—War-boats—Camping—War
    Council—Defences—War alarm—Ambushes—Decapitation and treatment
    of head—Return from a successful expedition—Women dancing—Two
    Christian Dyak Chiefs—Their views on the matter of head-taking   72-85

                               CHAPTER VI

                               SOCIAL LIFE

    Social position of the women—Dyak food—Meals—Cooking food in
    bamboo—Laws with regard to leaving a Dyak house—Rule of the
    headman—A Dyak trial—Power of the headman in old days—Dyak
    wealth—Valuable jars—_Gusi_—_Naga_—_Rusa_—A convenient
    dream—Trading incident at Sebetan—Land tenure—Laws about
    fruit-trees—Slavery—Captives in war—Slaves for debt              86-95

                               CHAPTER VII

                        CHILD-BIRTH AND CHILDREN

    The couvade among the Dyaks—Harm to the child—Ways of
    evading these restrictions—A Christian woman’s ideas on the
    subject—Witch-doctors and their methods—The waving of a
    fowl—Treatment of the mother and child—Infanticide—Bathing
    the child—Ceremony for insuring happiness to the child—Naming
    the child—Change of name—Children—Toys—Smallness of
    families—Reason                                                 96-104

                              CHAPTER VIII

                         MY SCHOOL IN THE JUNGLE

    Up-country mission schools—Education—The Saribas Dyaks eager to
    learn—School programme—What the boys were taught—Some schoolboy
    reminiscences—A youthful Dyak _manang_—The story of Buda—The
    opening of the Krian Mission and the Saribas Mission           105-119

                               CHAPTER IX


    Courtship—Discussion where the married couple are to live—The
    fetching of the bride—The wedding ceremony—_Mlah Pinang_—Visit
    of the bride to her mother-in-law—Bride’s dress—Bridegroom—Old
    bachelors among the Dyaks—Age of marriage—Monogamy—Prohibitive
    degrees—Dyak view of marriage—Conjugal affection—Mischief-making
    mothers-in-law—Separation and reconciliation—Divorce—Adultery  120-132

                                CHAPTER X

                              BURIAL RITES

    Life beyond the grave—Wailings—Rice strewn on the dead man’s
    chest—The professional wailer—Feeding the dead—Carrying
    the dead—The grave—Articles buried with the dead—_Baiya_—Fire
    lit at sunset—The _ulit_, or mourning—_Pana_, or offering to
    the dead—The wailer’s song—_Sumping_—Periodical _Sabak_—Feast
    in honour of the dead—_Gawai Antu_—The dead not
    forgotten—Other methods of disposing of the dead besides
    burial—Dyak ideas of a future life                             133-144

                               CHAPTER XI

                          TRAVELLING IN SARAWAK

    Travelling by boat—Paddles _v._ oars—Dangers—Tidal
    bores—Sand-banks-_Langan_—Up-river travelling—Poling—Camping
    out at night—Travelling on foot—Jungle paths—Scenery—Wild
    animals—The _Orang-utan_—Vegetation                            145-151

                               CHAPTER XII

                            OMENS AND DREAMS

    Seven omen birds—Other omen animals—Omens sought before
    beginning rice-farming—House-building omens—Substitutions for
    omens—Good and bad omens in farming—A dead animal—Means of
    avoiding bad effects—Omens obeyed at all times—Bird flying
    through a house—A drop of blood—Killing an omen bird or
    insect—Origin of the system of omens—Augury—Dreams             152-162

                              CHAPTER XIII

                      THE “MANANG,” OR WITCH-DOCTOR

    _Manangs_ supposed to possess mysterious powers over evil
    spirits—Dyak theory of disease—Treatment of disease—_Lupong_,
    or box of charms—_Batu Ilau_—_Manang_ performances—_Pagar
    Api_—Catching the soul—Sixteen different _manang_
    ceremonies—Killing the demon _Buyu_—_Saut_—Salampandai—Deceit
    of _manangs_—Story of a schoolboy—Smallpox and cholera—Three
    ceremonies of initiation—Different ranks of _manangs_          163-181

                               CHAPTER XIV


    Native remedies—Cupping—Charms—A Dyak medicine chest—Smallpox
    and cholera—My experience at Temudok                           182-193

                               CHAPTER XV

                              DYAK RELIGION

    Certain religious observances—_Petara_, or gods—Singalang
    Burong, the god of war—Pulang Gana, the god of
    the soil—Salampandai, the maker of men—_Mali_, or
    taboo—Spirits—Girgasi, the chief of evil spirits—The dogs
    of the spirits—Stories—Customs connected with the belief in
    spirits—Sacrifices—_Piring_ and _ginselan_—The victim of the
    sacrifice generally eaten, but not always—Material benefits
    expected by the Dyaks by their religious ceremonies—_Nampok_,
    a means of communicating with spirits—_Batu kudi_, “stones of
    wrath”—Belief in a future life—Conclusion                      194-208

                               CHAPTER XVI

                               DYAK FEASTS

    Four classes of feasts—Preparations—Feasts connected
    with: 1, Head-taking; 2, Farming; 3, The dead; 4, Dreams,
    etc.—House-warming—Social feasts                               209-219

                              CHAPTER XVII

                          SPORTS AND AMUSEMENTS

    Dyak games—Football—War Dance—Sword Dance—Dyak music—
    Cock-fighting—Tops-“Riding the tidal bore”—Swimming—Trials
    of strength                                                    220-224

                              CHAPTER XVIII

                             SONG AND MUSIC

    Love of music—Love songs—Boat songs—War songs—Incantations
    at Dyak feasts—The song of mourning—Musical instruments        225-232

                               CHAPTER XIX

                             THE DYAK ABROAD

    Love of travel—“The innocents abroad”—Gutta-hunting—Collecting
    canes—Hunting for edible birds’-nests—Camphor-working          233-239

                               CHAPTER XX

                        SOME PERSONAL EXPERIENCES

    The itinerant missionary—Visit to a Dyak
    house—Reception—Cooking—Servants—The meal—Teaching the
    Dyaks—Christians—Services—Prayer-houses—Offertory—Reception of
    the missionary—Dangers of sea travelling during the north-east
    monsoon—My boat swamped—In the jungle—Losing my way—A Dyak’s
    experience                                                     240-251

                               CHAPTER XXI

                              DYAK FOLKLORE

    Sea Dyak stories—_Ensera_—_Kana_—The mouse-deer and the
    tortoise—Klieng—Kumang—Apai Saloi—The cunning of the
    mouse-deer—The mouse-deer and other animals who went out
    fishing—The mouse-deer, the deer and the pig—Sea Dyak
    proverbs                                                       252-263

                              CHAPTER XXII

                           THREE DYAK LEGENDS

    Dyak fairy tales and legends—I. DANJAI AND THE WERE-TIGER’S
    SISTER—II. THE STORY OF SIU, who first taught the Dyaks to
    observe the omens of birds—III. PULANG GANA, and how he came
    to be worshipped as the god of the earth                       264-315

                              CHAPTER XXIII

                          SOME CURIOUS CUSTOMS

    Trial by ordeal—Diving contests—A diving contest
    at Krian—A Dyak superstition—Names—Fruit found
    by the pathway—Circumcision—Fishing and hunting
    superstition—Madness—Leprosy—Time—Form of greeting             316-323

                              CHAPTER XXIV


    The Sea Dyak—Work—Bad times—Cheerfulness—The view
    from within—The Sea Dyak’s future—Mission work among
    them—Government—Development in the immediate future            324-331

    GLOSSARY                                                       332-337

    INDEX                                                          338-343




    A SEA DYAK WITH SHIELD                                              22


    THREE TYPICAL DYAKS                                                 36


    DYAK MAKING A BLOWPIPE                                              44

    DYAK GIRLS POUNDING RICE                                            46

    A HUSKING MILL                                                      46

    DRYING PADDY                                                        46

    SEA DYAKS MAKING A CANOE                                            50

    GIRLS WEAVING                                                       52

    DYAKS RETURNING FROM TUBA-FISHING                                   56

    A DYAK WOMAN MAKING A MAT WITH SPLIT CANE                           62


    A DYAK IN WAR DRESS                                                 78

    HUMAN HEADS                                                         78

    DYAK WARFARE                                                        82

    DYAK HOUSES                                                         88

    DYAK CHILDREN                                                      102

    A DYAK YOUTH                                                       114

    A DYAK LAD                                                         114

    A DYAK WEDDING                                                     124

    DYAK GIRL SPINNING                                                 128

    A DYAK BRIDE                                                       130

    A DYAK GIRL                                                        130

    A DYAK CEMETERY BY THE RIVER-SIDE                                  136

    A DYAK DANCING THE WAR DANCE                                       136

    BOAT-TRAVELLING                                                    146

    A DYAK YOUTH HOLDING A SPEAR                                       160

    A RIVER SCENE                                                      206

    COCK-FIGHTING                                                      210


    COCK-FIGHTING                                                      222

    A LONG DYAK VILLAGE HOUSE                                          242

    A DYAK WOMAN IN EVERYDAY COSTUME                                   268

    A DYAK USING A WOODEN BLOWPIPE                                     280

    A DYAK GIRL                                                        290

    SCRAPING PALM-LEAVES FOR FIBRE                                     290

    DYAKS MAKING A DAM FOR TUBA-FISHING                                296

    A DYAK IN GALA COSTUME                                             326




    Bornean jungles—A picture from the past—Unsettled life—Sudden
    attacks—Head-hunting—Pirates—Malay pirates—Dyak pirates—Sir
    James Brooke—The _Royalist_—Rajah Muda Hassim—Rajah of
    Sarawak—Suppression of piracy and head-hunting—Captain
    Keppel—Visit to England, 1847—Introduction of Christian
    mission—Sir Charles Brooke.

The Bornean jungles are immense tracts of country covered by gigantic
trees, in the midst of which are mountains clothed in evergreen foliage,
their barren cliffs buried beneath a network of creepers and ferns. The
striking features are the size of the enormous forest trees and the
closeness of their growth, rather than their loveliness or brilliancy
of colour. In the tropical forests few bright-coloured flowers relieve
the monotony of dark green leaves and dark brown trunks and branches
of trees. The prevailing hue of tropical plants is a sombre green. The
greater and lesser trees are often loaded with trailers and ferns,
among which huge masses of the elk-horn fern are often conspicuous.
But there is little colour to relieve the monotony of all these sombre
hues. Here and there may be seen some creeper with red berries, and many
bright-coloured orchids hang high overhead. But it is impossible for the
observer to gain a favourable position for beholding the richest blooms,
which often climb far above him, turning their faces towards the sunlight
above the roof of foliage.

These regions are still inhabited by half-clad men and women, living
quaint lives in their strange houses, observing weird ceremonies, and
cherishing strange superstitions and curious customs, delighting in games
and feasts, and repeating ancient legends of their gods and heroes. But
in a few years all these things will be forgotten; for in Borneo, as
elsewhere, civilization is coming—coming quickly—and all the distinctive
Dyak customs will soon be things of the past. Already the Dyak is mixing
with other races in the towns, and is changing his picturesque dress for
Western costume. He is fast forgetting his old practices and his old
modes of thought.

The tropical forests of Sarawak were much the same years ago as they are
to-day. But the life of the Dyak is already greatly changed, and his lot
improved by the introduction of just rule, law and order, and respect for
human life. For a moment let us go back to the past, and try to picture
the life of the Sea Dyak as it was some sixty years ago.

In those days there was constant warfare between the different tribes,
and the Dyaks lived together in large numbers in their long houses,
which had stockades around them, so that they had some defence against
any sudden attack. Very often the young braves would make an expedition
against some neighbouring tribe, simply because they wanted to bring
home, each man of them, the ghastly trophy of a human head, and thus gain
favour in the eyes of the Dyak girls. In these expeditions many were
killed and many taken captive, to be the slaves of the conquerors.


He is dressed in the usual waist-cloth the Dyaks wear. On his head is a
headkerchief decorated with a fringe. He wears a necklace of large silver
buttons. On his arms are sea-shell bracelets, and on his calves a large
number of palm fibre rings. His right hand is holding the handle of his
sword, the sheath of which is fastened to his belt, and his left hand is
on his shield. The shield is made out of one piece of wood and coloured
with a fanciful design. It is decorated with human hair from the head of
dead enemies.]

Often in those days a party of Dyaks would suddenly attack some
neighbouring house. Such of the men as were at home would repel the
attack as best they could, for defeat meant certain death, if not worse.
The women and children—such of them as had not managed to escape and
hide in the jungle—would be crowded together in the veranda of the Dyak
house, and the men, armed with sword and spear and shield, would form a
circle round them. The large brass gongs (_tawak_) would be struck in a
peculiar manner, to let the neighbours know of the attack, and to implore
their help. The fight would continue till one party was defeated. If any
came to the rescue, the attacking party would retreat, pursued by such of
the inmates of the house as dared to follow them; but if no help came,
the house would be rushed, the men and women cut down, and the children
killed or taken captive. The heads of the dead would be cut off amid wild
whoops of joy, and carried off in triumph.

I have spoken to Dyaks who have been present at such scenes, and asked
them to describe to me what happens on such occasions. What they had to
say was horrible enough to listen to, but what must the reality have been!

Sometimes the victims would be attacked when at work on their farms, or
some solitary farm-hut would be surrounded at night. In each case the
enemy would meet with little resistance. Thus the Dyaks used to live in a
constant state of fear.

In those days many of the Sea Dyaks joined the Malays in their piratical
attacks upon trading boats. It was the practice of the Malay pirates and
their Dyak allies to wreck and destroy every vessel that came near their
shores, to murder most of the crew who offered any resistance, and to
make slaves of the rest. The Malay fleet consisted of a large number of
long war-boats, or _prahus_, each about ninety or more feet long, and
carrying a brass gun in the bows, the pirates being armed with swords
and spears and muskets. Each boat was paddled by from sixty to eighty
men. These terrible craft skulked about in the sheltered coves waiting
for their prey, and attacked merchant-vessels making the passage between
China and Singapore. These piratical raids were often made with the
secret sanction of the native rulers, who obtained a share of the spoil
as the price of their connivance.

The Dyaks of Saribas and Skrang and the Balaus gladly joined the Malays
in these expeditions, not only for the sake of obtaining booty, but
because they could thus indulge in their favourite pursuit, and gain
glory for themselves by bringing home human heads to decorate their
houses with. The Dyak _bangkongs_ were long boats capable of holding as
many as eighty men. They often had a flat roof, from which the warriors
fought, while their comrades paddled below.

Both the piracy and the terrible custom of head-hunting were put down by
Sir James Brooke. The romantic story of how he came to be the first Rajah
of Sarawak may here be briefly recalled.

James Brooke was born on April 29, 1803. His father was a member of the
Civil Service of the East India Company, and spent a great many years
in India. Following in his father’s footsteps, he entered the Company’s
service, and was sent out to India in 1825. Not long after his arrival
he was put in command of a regiment of soldiers, and ordered to Burmah,
where he took part in the Burmese War; and, being dangerously wounded in
an engagement, was compelled to return home on furlough. For over four
years his health prevented him from rejoining his regiment, and when at
last he started, the voyage out was so protracted, through a shipwreck
and other misfortunes, that his furlough had expired before he was able
to reach his destination. His appointment consequently lapsed, and he
quitted the service in 1830.

In that same year he made a voyage to China, and was struck by the
natural beauty and fertility of the islands of the Indian Archipelago,
and horrified with the savagery of the tribes inhabiting them, who were
continually at war with one another, and engaged in a monstrous system of
piracy. He conceived the grand idea of rescuing them from barbarism, and
of extirpating piracy in the Eastern Archipelago.

On the death of his father he inherited the sum of £30,000, and found
himself in a position to carry out his schemes. He bought and equipped a
yacht, the _Royalist_, and for three years he cruised about, chiefly in
the Mediterranean, training his crew of twenty men for the arduous work
that lay before them.

On October 27, 1838, he sailed from the Thames on his great adventure,
travelled slowly on the long journey round the Cape of Good Hope, and
arrived in Singapore in 1839. Here he met a shipwrecked crew, who had
lately come from Borneo. They said they had been kindly treated by Muda
Hassim—a native Rajah in Borneo—and they asked Mr. James Brooke to take
presents and letters of thanks to him, if he should be going thither
in his yacht. Mr. Brooke had not decided which of the many islands
of the Eastern Archipelago he would visit, and he was as ready to go
to Borneo as to any other; so, setting sail, he made his way up the
Sarawak River, and anchored off Kuching on August 15, 1839. The country
was nominally under the rule of the Sultan of Brunei, but his uncle,
Rajah Muda Hassim, was then the greatest power in the island. As he
was favourable to English strangers, Mr. Brooke paid him the customary
homage, and was favourably received, and given full licence to visit the
Dyaks of Lundu. The Rajah was at this time engaged in war with several
fierce Dyak tribes in the province of Sarawak, who had revolted against
the Sultan; but his efforts to quell this rebellion were ineffectual.
The absolute worthlessness of the native troops under his command, and
his own weakness of character, induced him to cling to Mr. Brooke, in
whom he recognized a born leader of men, and he appealed for his help in
putting down the insurgents, and implored him not to leave him a prey to
his enemies. The Rajah even offered to transfer the government of the
province to Brooke if he would remain and take command. This offer he
felt bound at the time to decline, but it led to his obtaining a position
of authority at Sarawak, useful for the purposes of trade.

With James Brooke’s help the rebellion, which the Malay forces were too
feeble to subdue, was effectually stayed. The insurgents were defeated
in a battle in which Brooke, with the crew of his yacht and some Malay
followers, took part. For his services on this occasion Muda Hassim
conferred on him the title of Rajah of Sarawak, and this was the first
step towards that larger sovereignty which he afterwards acquired. Some
time elapsed, however, before the Sultan of Brunei could be induced to
confirm the title. Mr. Brooke at once took vigorous action, making many
reforms and introducing a system of administration far superior to any
that the native authorities had ever dreamed of; and in September, 1841,
the government of Sarawak and its dependencies was formally made over to
him. In the following year the Sultan of Brunei confirmed what Rajah Muda
Hassim had done, on the condition that the religion of the Mohammedans of
the country should be respected.

And now Rajah Brooke found himself in a position of authority which
enabled him to bring all his administrative powers into operation. He
saw clearly that the development of commerce would be the most effective
means of civilizing the natives, and to make this possible it was
necessary to suppress the hideous piracy which was not only a curse to
the savage tribes, appealing as it did to their worst instincts, but a
standing danger to both European and native traders in those seas.

In the suppression of piracy James Brooke found a vigorous ally in
Captain (afterwards Admiral) Keppel, who, in command of H.M.S. _Dido_,
was summoned from the China station in 1843 for this service. Various
expeditions were organized and sent out against the marauders, the story
of which has been told by himself. The pirates were attacked in their
strongholds by Captain Keppel and other commanders of British ships. They
fought desperately, and the slaughter was immense. The pirate crews found
the entrances to the rivers blocked up by English gunboats, and their
retreat cut off. These strenuous measures soon cleared the seas.

The practice of head-hunting was also dealt with by Sir James Brooke.
He declared it to be a crime punishable with death, and by his rigorous
treatment of head-hunting parties he gave the deathblow to this horrible
national custom.

After his strenuous life in Sarawak, Sir James Brooke had a great desire
to visit England. Besides other reasons, the wish to see his relatives
and friends, he felt he could effect more for the inhabitants of Borneo
by a personal interview with Government Ministers in England than by
correspondence. He left Sarawak, and reached England early in October,
1847. There honours awaited him. He was presented with the freedom of
the City of London; Oxford University conferred upon him the degree of
LL.D.; he was graciously received at Windsor by the Queen and the Prince
Consort. The British Government recognized the work he had done, and
appointed him Governor of Labuan and Commissioner and Consul-General in
Borneo, and made him a K.C.B. The warrant of investiture was issued by
Her Majesty on May 22, 1848.

The extirpation of piracy was the first step towards introducing into the
country the blessings of a settled government, with all its civilizing
influences. But he was not satisfied with this, and soon began to take
measures for the establishment of a Christian Mission in Sarawak. When
Sir James Brooke visited England in 1847, he appealed to the Church,
and especially to the two Universities, to come to his aid. Neither of
the two great missionary societies was able at the time to undertake
this new enterprise through lack of funds, and a new organization, the
“Borneo Church Mission,” was founded, which laboured in the island for a
few years. Then, in 1854, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel
in Foreign Parts was able to take up the work, and has ever since been
responsible for it. The original organization had, however, done well in
the choice of the missionaries it sent out, the first of whom was the
Rev. F. T. McDougall, who was consecrated Bishop of Labuan and Sarawak
in 1855.

My father, the Rev. W. H. Gomes, B.D., worked under Bishop McDougall as
a missionary among the Dyaks of Lundu from 1852 to 1867, and I myself
have worked, under Bishop Hose, as a missionary in Sarawak, for seventeen
years, and have thus gained an intimate knowledge of the people and of
their lives, now so rapidly changing under Western influence.

Sir James Brooke was a man of the highest personal character. That a
young English officer, with a fortune of his own, should have been
willing to devote his whole life to improving the condition of the Dyaks
was a grand thing. That he should have been able, by perfectly legitimate
means, to do this in the teeth of much official and other opposition;
that he should have been able to put down piracy and head-hunting, with
their unspeakable accompaniments of misery and cruelty, and to do it all
with the hearty good-will of the people under his rule,—this was indeed
an achievement which might have seemed hardly possible.

The present Rajah of Sarawak, Sir Charles Brooke, is a nephew of the
first Rajah. He joined his uncle in 1852, when he held the rank of
lieutenant in the British navy. For ten years he played an important
part in the arduous work of punishing rebels and establishing a sound
government. In 1857, when the Chinese insurrection broke out, it
was his action that led to the punishment of the insurgents and the
restoration of peace. In 1863, on the retirement of the first Rajah, he
assumed control of the country, and five years later, on the death of
his predecessor, he became Rajah of Sarawak. Ever since he became the
responsible ruler of the country, Sarawak has advanced steadily, and
made great moral and material progress. To the general public the first
Rajah will always appear the romantic, heroic figure; but, while yielding
full measure of praise and admiration to the work of a great man, those
who know the country will, I think, agree with me that the heavier
burden of working steadily and unwearyingly, when the romance of novelty
had worn off, has been borne by his successor. With talents not less
than those of his illustrious uncle he has carried out, in the face of
disappointments and the most serious obstacles, a policy of regeneration
for which the striking exploits of Sir James Brooke merely paved the way.

[Illustration: _Photo. Bassano_


His work is well summarized by himself in an address to the _Kunsil
Negri_ (the Council of the Country) in 1891. He said he might divide
his term of service of thirty-nine years into three periods of thirteen
years each. The first period had been almost wholly spent in the work
of suppressing head-hunting among the Dyaks. It involved frequent
expeditions against rebellious Dyaks, much hard travelling by river and
by land, and a constant watch against subtle enemies. The second period
had been divided between occasional expeditions of the same nature and
the establishment of trade and peaceful pursuits, and the giving and
amending of laws as need arose. The last period had almost entirely been
taken up with attending to the political and social affairs of a settled
and peaceful community. Those present, who had been young with himself in
the early days of his service, had been of great assistance to him, and
had carried through the work set them, rough and perilous in the extreme,
in mountainous region of jungle, and on treacherous, rapid-flowing
rivers, subject to every kind of exposure; but now these hardships were
no more required, and that was well, for both they and himself were
growing old. The character of his task and theirs was changed: he and
his old comrades, who had faced so many dangers together on river and
in jungle, could now sit down comfortably and attend to the political
business and the commercial progress of the country.

To these three periods the Rajah has since added a fourth, and that
the longest of all, during which, as occasion served, a great deal has
been done to extinguish the lingering sparks of intertribal hostility.
There are occasional outbreaks among the Dyaks of the interior, and
head-hunting still survives where natives think there is a chance of
escaping detection and consequent punishment. But, happily, these are
getting more and more rare, and do not affect the prosperity or trade of
the country.

The method employed by the present Rajah to suppress head-hunting is best
described in his own words:

“As soon as ever one of these parties started, or even listened to birds
of omen preparatory to moving, a party was immediately despatched by
Government to endeavour to cut them off, and to fine them heavily on
their return; or, in the event of their bringing heads, to demand the
delivery up of them, and the payment of a fine into the bargain. This was
the steady and unflinching work of years, but before many months were
over my stock of heads became numerous, and the fines considerable. Some
refused to pay or follow the directions of the Government. These were
declared enemies, and had their houses burnt down forthwith, and the
people who followed me to do the work would be the Dyaks of some other
branch-tribe on the same river.”

The natives of Sarawak owe much to the Brookes. The work, nobly begun by
Sir James Brooke, has been ably carried on by the present Rajah. To use
his own words: “He as founder, and myself as builder, of the State have
been one in our policy throughout, from the beginning up to the present
time; and now shortly I have to hand it to my son, and I hope that his
policy may not be far removed from that of his predecessors.”



    The word “Dyak”—Other native races in Sarawak—_Milanaus_—
    _Seru_—Sea Dyaks—Land Dyaks—The appearance of the Sea
    Dyak—Men’s dress—Tattooing—Women’s dress-_Rawai_, or
    corset—The teeth—Depilation—Language.

The derivation of the word “Dyak” is uncertain. Some think it is
derived from _daya_, which in the Brunei Malay dialect means “inland,”
“interior.” Others derive it from the Land Dyak word _daya_, which means
“a man.” Whatever may be the derivation, it is quite incorrect to apply
it to all the inland races of Borneo. There are many tribes, such as the
_Kayans_, _Muruts_, _Ukits_, and _Punans_, who are not Dyaks at all,
their language, customs, and traditions being quite different.

Before describing the Dyaks, some mention must be made of the other
native races to be found in Sarawak. They are the _Milanaus_, _Kayans_,
_Kinyehs_, _Muruts_, _Ukits_, _Bukitans_, _Punans_, and _Seru_.

The _Milanaus_ are a quiet people who keep very much to themselves. They
are not Mohammedans, although they dress like the Malays. They are an
important tribe, and are to be found in large numbers at Matu, Oya, Muka,
and Bintulu. They plant paddy and cultivate sago on a large scale. They
are skilled in working iron, and are excellent boat-builders. Their
speech is somewhat similar to that of the Kayans, and many of their
customs are alike.

The _Kayans_ and _Kinyehs_, who may be classed together, are a numerous
race inhabiting the upper waters of the Baram and Rejang Rivers. In many
ways they seem to be a more advanced race than the Sea Dyaks. They build
better houses, and are more expert in the manufacture of weapons, being
able to extract their iron from the native ore. Their moral character,
however, is vindictive and cruel, and they are lacking in that spirit of
hospitality which is such a great feature of the Sea Dyak character. A
few years ago a party of Dyak gutta-percha collectors were attacked by
the Punans, and many of them killed. Four young Dyaks managed to escape,
and after wandering for many days in the jungle, arrived destitute and
starving at a Kayan house, and asked for food and shelter. The treatment
they received was horrible in the extreme. The Kayans bound the young
men, and after breaking their arms and legs, handed them over to the
women, who slowly despatched them by hacking them to pieces with little

The _Muruts_ inhabit the Limbang and Trusan Rivers. Their language and
customs differ entirely from those of the Sea Dyaks.

The _Ukits_, _Bukitans_ (name probably derived from Malay _bukit_, “a
hill”), and _Punans_ are races which inhabit the far interior, and lead a
wandering life in the Kayan country. They do not build houses, but only
make temporary shelters for themselves between the buttresses of large
forest trees. They live by hunting, and are expert in the use of the
_sumpit_, or blow-pipe.

The _Seru_ are a small and fast dying out race. There used to be a
little village of the Seru near my house in Kalaka, where some forty of
them lived in a long house, similar to that built by the Dyaks. The men
wore the Dyak dress, but the women were dressed like the Malays, and wore
a long petticoat reaching to the ankles (_sarong_), and a long jacket
(_kabayah_). They planted paddy, but did not depend entirely on this for
their livelihood. The men were great hunters, and would salt and sell
the wild pig they killed. They were a very secluded people, and kept
very much to themselves. They were not Mohammedans, and did not seem to
have any of the religious rites peculiar to the Dyaks. They told me they
believed in a good Spirit and a bad one, but their religious ideas were
very vague.

Besides the tribes already mentioned, there are two distinct races of
Dyaks in Borneo—the Sea Dyaks and the Land Dyaks. The former live by the
sea and on the banks of the rivers, though many of them may be found far
inland. The Land Dyaks inhabit the interior of the country, and are not
so numerous or energetic as the Sea Dyaks. The language and traditions of
these two divisions of the Dyak race are quite distinct.

The Dyaks spoken of in this work are the Sea Dyaks. Their home is in
Sarawak—the country governed by Rajah Brooke—though they often travel far
afield, and they are to be found in large numbers on the banks of the
rivers of Sarawak—the Batang, Lupar, Saribas, Krian, and Rejang.

The Dyak is of rather greater stature than that of the Malay, though
he is considerably shorter than the average European. The men are
well-proportioned, but slightly built. Their form suggests activity,
speed, and endurance rather than great strength, and these are the
qualities most required by dwellers in the jungle. Their movements are
easy and graceful, and their carriage erect. The women are generally
smaller than the men. They have neat figures, and are bright, cheerful,
and good-looking in their youth, but they age very soon.

The colour of their skin varies considerably, not so much between one
tribe and another as in different parts of the country. Generally
speaking, those who reside in the interior of the country, on the banks
of the upper reaches of the rivers, are fairer than those who live nearer
the sea. This may be due to the deeper shade afforded by old jungle, and
the bathing in and drinking of the water of the clear, gravel-bedded
streams. Their colour varies from a dark bronze to a light brown, with a
tinge of yellow. Their eyes are black or dark brown, clear and bright,
with quick intelligence and good temper. Their mouths are generally
ill-shapen and disfigured by excessive chewing of _sireh_ and betel-nut,
a habit much indulged in by both men and women.

In dress great alterations have resulted from foreign influence, and the
Dyaks who live near the towns wear the trousers and coat of civilized
races, but the original style still prevails in the up-country villages.


The man on the right is using a seat mat made of the skin of an animal.
Sometimes these mats are made of split cane. The Dyak, in his wanderings
in the jungle, has often to sit on prickly grass or sharp stones, and a
seat mat is a useful part of his attire.]

Love of finery is inherent in the young Dyak. The old men are often
very shabbily dressed, but the young are more particular. The ordinary
male attire consists of a _sirat_, or waist-cloth, a _labong_, or
headkerchief, and a _tikai buret_, or seat-mat. The waist-cloth is made
of the soft inner bark of a tree, or more frequently of some red or blue
cotton cloth. This is one yard wide, and from eight to eighteen feet
long, and is twisted round and round their waists, and pulled up tight
between the thighs, one end hanging down in front and the other behind.
Sometimes this waist-cloth is woven by the Dyak women, and then the end
that hangs down in front has an elaborate pattern woven into it. Their
head-dress is either a bright-coloured headkerchief, or else a small cap
of woven cane, in which feathers and other ornaments are often stuck. The
_tikai buret_, or seat-mat, is made either of the skin of some animal or
of cane matting. Its edges are decorated with red and white cloth, and
with beads or buttons.

Besides these articles of apparel the men sometimes wear a sleeveless
jacket, or _klambi_. These are often woven by the Dyak women, either
from yarn spun from cotton of their own growing or from imported yarn of
a finer texture. More often in the present day they are made of cloth
of European manufacture. The patterns of the Dyak-woven _klambi_ are
various, but those of a particular type can only be worn by men who have
succeeded in securing a human head when on the warpath. The lower edge of
this jacket is ornamented with beads, shells, and buttons, and bordered
by a fringe.

In addition to the attire already mentioned, the men have sometimes a
_dandong_, or shawl, which is thrown over the shoulders. The ornaments
worn on the arms and legs are brass rings, which vary among the Dyaks of
different districts. Armlets made from sea-shells are very much in favour
among some inland tribes. The young men generally wear their hair long,
cut in a fringe in front, and either hanging down loose behind, or tucked
into their caps.

Tattooing is practised by most of the Dyaks in a greater or less degree.
It is confined to the male sex, who often have little patterns tattooed
on the forehead, throat-apple, shoulders, or chest.

The dress of the women consists of a petticoat (_kain_), drawn tightly
round the waist and reaching to the knee, and in addition a _klambi_,
or jacket, worn when out of doors. For ornaments the women wear
finger-rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, and often a girdle
formed of silver coins, or of silver or brass chain. Round the stomach
are wound long strips of coloured cane. Among some tribes a peculiar
corset, called the rawai, is worn by the women. This is made of small
brass rings strung closely together on hoops of rattan, which are
connected with one another inside by a network of cane. A few of these
hoops are made larger so as to hang loose over the hips. The series that
encase the waist, stomach, and chest fit very close. This corset must
be very uncomfortable, as the wearer can hardly bend the body at all,
especially when it is worn right up to and covering the breasts, as it is
done by some young women who can afford such extravagance.

The hair is worn long, and tied in a knot at the back of the head. Some
of the women have beautiful raven black hair of great length. Wavy or
curly hair is seldom seen.

The teeth are often blackened, as black teeth are considered a sign of
beauty. The blackening is done by taking a piece of old cocoanut-shell or
of certain woods, and holding it over a hot fire until a black resinous
juice exudes. This juice is collected, and while still warm the teeth are
coated with it. The front teeth are also frequently filed to a point,
and this gives their face a curious dog-like appearance. Sometimes the
teeth are filed concavely in front, or else the front teeth are filed
down till almost level with the gums. Another curious way of treating the
front teeth is to drill a hole in the middle of each tooth, and fix in
it a brass stud. I was once present when this operation was in progress.
The man lay down with a piece of soft wood between his teeth, and the
“dentist” bored a hole in one of his front teeth. The agony the patient
endured must have been very great, judging by the look on his face and
his occasional bodily contortions. The next thing was to insert the
end of a pointed brass wire, which was then filed off, leaving a short
piece in the tooth; a small hammer was used to fix this in tightly, and,
lastly, a little more filing was done to smooth the surface of the brass
stud. I am told the process is so painful that it is not often a man can
bear to have more than one or two teeth operated on at a time.

The Dyaks do not like beards, and much prefer a smooth face. In the whole
course of my Dyak experience I have only met with one bearded man. The
universal absence of hair upon the face, on the chest, and under the
arm-pits might lead one to suppose that it was a natural deficiency.
But this is not the case at all, as old men and chronic invalids, who
by reason of age or infirmity have ceased to care about their personal
appearance, have often chins covered with a bristly growth. The absence
of hair on the face and elsewhere is due to systematic depilation. The
looking-glass and tweezers are often seen in the hands of the young men,
and they devote every spare moment to the plucking out of stray hairs.
_Kapu_, or quicklime, which is one of the constituents of betel-nut
mixture chewed by the Dyaks, is often rubbed into the skin to destroy the
vitality of the hair-follicles.

Among some tribes it is the fashion for both men and women to shave
the eyebrows and pull out the eyelashes, and this gives their faces a
staring, vacant expression. I have often tried to convince them of the
foolishness of trying to improve upon nature in this way, and pointed out
that both eyebrows and eyelashes are a protection to the eyes from dust
and glare. But my remarks have made little impression on them. Among the
Dyaks, as elsewhere, fashions die hard.

The Sea Dyak language is practically a dialect of Malay which is spoken
more or less over all Polynesia. It is not nearly so copious as other
Malayan languages, but the Dyaks do not scruple to use Malay words in
their conversation when necessary. The Dyak language is particularly
weak in expressing abstract ideas. What the mind cannot grasp the tongue
is not likely to express. I believe there is only one word—_rindu_—to
express all the different varieties of love. On the other hand, the
language is rich in words expressing the common actions of daily life.
There are many words to express the different ways of carrying anything;
one word for carrying in the hand, another for carrying on the back, and
another for carrying on the shoulder.

There are several words in Dyak which resemble Malay words of the same
meaning, the difference being that the Malay suffix _an_ is changed into
_ai_. Thus, the Malay word _makan_ (to eat) becomes _makai_ in Dyak, and
_jalan_ (to walk) becomes _jalai_. There are some words exactly the same
in both languages, and these are for the most part simple substantives,
such as _rumah_ (house), _laki_ (husband), _bini_ (wife). Verbs, however,
commonly differ, though expressing simple necessary actions. Thus, the
Malay word for “to drink” is _minum_, the Dyak word is _ngirup_; the
Malay for “to eat” is _makan_, and the Dyak _empa_ as well as _makai_.

It is not surprising that there should be many words in Dyak not known to
the Malays. Though derived from the same parent tongue, the Dyak language
has developed independently by contact with other races.

There are many tribes that talk the Sea Dyak language. The Sabuyaus
living on the coast and at Lundu, the Balaus of the Batang Lupar and
elsewhere, the dwellers on the Skrang and Saribas Rivers, as well as the
Kanowit and Katibas branches of the Rejang River, all speak it, with
slight modifications. There can be no doubt that all these tribes are
descended from the same parent stock.

The difference of dialect between the different tribes is often a source
of great amusement, and I remember well taking some Saribas boys, who
had been some time in my school at Banting, on a visit to their people.
We sat in the long veranda of the Dyak house, and I noticed that as they
spoke to their relatives and friends there were shrieks of laughter and
great merriment. The reason of this was that the boys had unconsciously
picked up the Balau dialect during their stay at Banting, and their
manner of speaking amused their Saribas friends exceedingly.



    Dyak village house—_Tanju_—_Ruai_—_Bilik_—_Sadau_—Human
    heads—Valuable jars—Paddy-planting—Men’s work—Women’s
    tools—_Bliong_—_Duku_—Weaving—Plaiting mats and

Among the Dyaks a whole village, consisting of some twenty or thirty
families, or even more, live together under one roof. This village house
is built on piles made of hard wood, which raise the floor from six to
twelve feet above the ground. The ascent is made by a notched trunk or
log, which serves as a ladder; one is fixed at each end of the house.
The length of this house varies according to the number of families
inhabiting it; but as the rooms occupied by the different families are
built on the same plan and by a combination of labour, the whole presents
a uniform and regular appearance.

The roof and outside walls are thatched with the leaves of the _nipa_
palm, which are first made into _attap_. These are made by doubling the
leaves over a stick about six feet long, each leaf overlapping the other,
and sewn down with split cane or reeds. These _attap_ are arranged in
rows, each _attap_ overlapping the one beneath it, and thus forming a
roof which keeps off the rain and sun, and lasts for three or four years.

The long Dyak village house is built in a straight line, and consists of
a long uncovered veranda, which is called the _tanju_. The paddy is put
on the _tanju_ to be dried by the sun before it is pounded to get rid of
its husk and convert it into rice. Here also the clothes and a variety
of other things are hung out to dry. The family whetstone and dye vat
are kept under the eaves of the roof, and the men sharpen their tools
and the women do their dyeing on the _tanju_. The flooring of this part
of the house is generally made of _bilian_, or iron-wood, so as to stand
exposure to the weather.

Next to the _tanju_ comes the covered veranda, or _ruai_. This also
stretches the whole length of the house, and the floor is made of bamboo,
or _nibong_ (a kind of palm), split into laths and tied down with rattan
or cane.

This _ruai_, or public hall, is generally about twenty feet wide, and
as it stretches the whole length of the house without any partition, it
is a cool and pleasant place, and is much frequented by men and women
for conversation and indoor pursuits. Here the women often do their
work—the weaving of cloth or the plaiting of mats. Here, too, the men
chop up the firewood, or even make boats, if not of too great a size.
This long _ruai_ is a public place open to all comers, and used as a
road by travellers, who climb up the ladder at one end, walk through the
whole length of the house, and go down the ladder at the other end. The
floor is carpeted with thick and heavy mats, made of cane interlaced with
narrow strips of beaten bark. Over these are spread other mats of finer
texture for visitors to sit upon.

The length of this covered veranda depends upon the number of families
living in the house, and these range from three or four to forty or fifty.

Each family has its own portion of this _ruai_, and in each there is a
small fireplace, which consists of a slab of stone, at which the men warm
themselves, when they get up, as they usually do, in the chill of the
early morning before the sun has risen.

Over this fireplace hangs the most valuable ornament in the eyes of the
Dyak, the bunch of human heads. These are the heads obtained when on the
warpath by various members of the family—dead and living—and are handed
down from father to son as the most precious heirlooms—more precious,
indeed, than the ancient jars which the Dyaks prize so highly.

The posts in this public covered veranda are often adorned with the horns
of deer and the tusks of wild boars—trophies of the chase. The empty
sheaths of swords are suspended on these horns or from wooden hooks,
while the naked blades are placed in racks overhead.

On one side of this long public hall is a row of doors. Each of these
leads into a separate room, or _bilik_, which is occupied by a family.
The doors open outwards, and each is closed by means of a heavy weight
secured to a thong fastened to the inside. If the room be unusually
large, it may have two doors for the sake of convenience.


He is seen here shaping the outside of the blow-pipe. The hole is bored
while the wood is about six inches in diameter, and it is then pared down
to about two inches.]


This picture shows the arrangement of pillars and rafters of a Dyak
house. The floor nearest the earth is divided into the long open veranda
and the rooms in which the different families live. Above this is the
loft, where the paddy is stored away. Part of the roof in the picture has
been covered with palm-leaf thatch.]

This room serves several purposes. It serves as a kitchen, and in one
corner there is a fireplace where the food is cooked. This fireplace is
set against the wall of the veranda, and resembles an open cupboard. The
lowest shelf rests on the floor, and is boarded all round and filled with
clay. This forms the fireplace, and is furnished with a few stones upon
which the pots are set for cooking. The shelf immediately above the
fireplace is set apart for smoking fish. The shelves above are filled
with firewood, which is thoroughly dried by the smoke and ready for use.
As the smoke from the wood fire is not conducted through the roof by any
kind of chimney, it spreads itself through the loft, and blackens the
beams and rafters of the roof.

This room also serves as a dining-room. When the food is cooked, mats are
spread here, and the inmates squat on the floor to eat their meal. There
is no furniture, the floor serving the double purpose of table and chairs.

This _bilik_ also serves as a bedroom. At night the mats for sleeping on
are spread out here, and the mosquito-curtains hung up.

There is no window to let in the air and light, but a portion of the roof
is so constructed that it can be raised a foot or two, and kept open by
means of a stick.

Round the three sides of this room are ranged the treasured valuables
of the Dyaks—old jars, some of which are of great value, and brass
gongs, and guns. Their cups and plates are hung up in rows flat against
the walls. The flooring is the same as that of the veranda, and is
made of split palm or bamboo tied down with cane. The floor is swept
after a fashion, the refuse falling through the flooring to the ground
underneath. But the room is stuffy, and not such a pleasant place as the
open veranda. The pigs and poultry occupy the waste space under the house.

From the _bilik_ there is a ladder which leads to an upper room, or loft
(_sadau_), where they keep their tools and store their paddy. If the
family be a large one, the young unmarried girls sleep in this loft, the
boys and young men sleeping outside in the veranda.

Both men and women are industrious and hard-working. With regard to the
paddy-planting on the hills, the work is divided between the men and
women in the following manner. The men cut down the jungle where the
paddy is to be planted. When the timber and shrubs have been burnt, the
men and women plant the grain. The roots of the trees are left in the
ground. The men walk in front, with a long heavy staff in the right hand
of each, and make holes in the ground about a foot apart. The women walk
behind them and throw a few grains of seed in each hole.

When the paddy has grown a little, the ground has to be carefully weeded;
this work is done by the women. When the crop is ripe, both men and women
do the reaping. They walk between the rows of standing grain, and with
a sharp, oddly-shaped little knife they cut off the heads one by one,
and place them in their baskets, which are tied in front of them. The
carrying home of the paddy thus reaped is mostly done by the men, who can
carry very heavy loads on their backs, though the women help in this to
some extent. The next thing is to separate the grain from the little tiny
stems to which it is still attached. This is done by the men. The grain
is put on a large square sieve of rattan fixed between four posts in the
veranda of the Dyak house, and the men tread on it and press it through
the sieve. The paddy that falls through is taken and stored in the loft
in large round bins made of bark.


After the paddy has been passed through the husking mill it is pounded
out in wooden mortars. Here are two girls at work. Each has her right
foot in the upper part of the mortar to kick back any grains of paddy
that may be likely to fall out.]

[Illustration: A HUSKING MILL (_Kisar_)

After the paddy is dried and before it is pounded, it is generally passed
through a husking mill made in two parts—the lower half having a stem in
the middle which fits into the upper part, which is hollow. The paddy
is put into a cavity in the upper half, and a man or woman seizes the
handles and works the upper half to the right and left alternately. The
paddy drips through on to the mat on which this husking mill is placed.]

[Illustration: DRYING PADDY

Before it is possible to rid the paddy of its husk and convert it into
rice, it has to be dried in the sun. Here a woman is seen spreading out
the paddy on a mat with her hands. She is on the outside veranda of the
Dyak house (_tanju_). The long pole over her head is used by her to drive
away the fowls and birds who may come to eat the paddy put out to dry.]

When rice is wanted for food, the paddy is dried, and then pounded by the
women in wooden mortars, with pestles five feet long. As a rule two or
three women each use their pestles at one mortar, which is cut out of the
trunk of a tree. I have seen as many as six girls using their pestles in
quick succession at one mortar. In this way the grain is freed from husk,
and is made ready for food.

Each family farms its own piece of land. Much of such work as cutting
down the jungle and planting is done by a combination of labour, several
families agreeing to work for each other in turn. By this means all the
planting on the land belonging to a particular family is done in one day,
and all the grain ripens at the same time.

When the Dyaks wish to abandon an old habitation in favour of a new one,
a general meeting of the inhabitants is held to consider the matter, and
the desirability of building a new house is fully discussed. Sometimes it
happens that some families do not agree with the wishes of the majority,
and these families split off and join another house. If a move be decided
on, a few experienced men are deputed to choose a site, and to report on
its adaptability. There are several matters to be taken into account. The
site must be for preference on rising ground, and be near a good supply
of water. There must also be some jungle near, where the inmates can get
their firewood, and there must be large tracts of land not far away where
they can plant their paddy.

When the new house has to be built on the low-lying, marshy ground in
the lower reaches of the river, the choice is not difficult. All that is
necessary is to choose a part of the river where the current is not very
strong. But in the hill country it is not easy to find a site where the
ground is fairly level, and can accommodate a large house of thirty or
forty families.

Before building on the chosen site the omen birds are consulted. If the
omens be favourable, all the men and lads turn out immediately with axes
and choppers to cut down the trees of the jungle, which are then left to
dry. Another meeting is then held to decide who is to be the _tuai_, or
headman, of the new house, and to settle the size and the sequence of the
rooms. The next move is to appoint a time for all the people to meet at
the site of the new village. The ground is then cleared. All the timber
is carried off, as it is considered unfortunate to burn it. The ground is
measured out for the different rooms belonging to the different families,
and pegs are put in where the posts have to stand. A piece of bamboo is
then stuck in the ground, filled with water and covered with leaves. A
spear and a shield are placed beside it, and the whole is surrounded by
a wooden rail. The rail is to prevent the bamboo from being upset by
wild animals, and the weapons are to warn strangers not to touch it. A
few people remain to keep watch, and to make a great deal of noise with
brass gongs and drums to frighten away the evil spirits. If in the early
morning they find there is much evaporation, the place is considered
unhealthy, and is abandoned. If all be well, the building of the house
is begun. Each family must kill a fowl or a pig before the holes for the
posts can be dug, and the blood must be smeared on the sharpened ends
and sprinkled on the posts to propitiate Pulang Gana, the tutelary deity
of the earth. They begin by making the holes for the headman’s quarters,
and then work simultaneously to left and right of it. The posts, of which
there are a great number, are about twelve inches or less in diameter,
and are of bilian or other hard wood so as not to rot in the earth. A
hole four feet deep is made to receive each post. They must be planted
carefully and firmly, for if one were to give way subsequently it would
be regarded as foreboding evil, and the house would have to be abandoned
and a new house built.

All the men combine to labour collectively until the skeleton of the
house is complete, and then every family turns its attention to its own
apartments. During the building of the house, there is a great deal of
striking of gongs and other noisy instruments to prevent any birds of
ill omen being heard. I have sometimes argued with the Dyaks that if the
warnings of the birds are to be trusted, then why make so much noise to
prevent hearing them? The Dyak’s reply to this was that as long as they
did not hear the warning, the spirits would not be displeased at their
not regarding it; so to spare themselves the trouble of choosing another
site and building another house, they make so much noise as to drown the
cries of any birds.

When the building is sufficiently advanced to receive the inmates, they
pack up their possessions and convey them to the house, halting on the
way till they have heard some favourable omen, after which they proceed
joyfully. Their belongings must not be moved into the house before
themselves, but must be taken with them when they move into the new house.

House-building is considered the work of the men, and another important
work the men have to do is the making of boats. These are of all sizes,
from the dug-out canoe twelve feet long to the long war-boat eighty to
ninety feet in length.

The ordinary boats of the Dyaks are cut out of a single log. Some of my
schoolboys, under the guidance of the native schoolmaster, once made a
small canoe for their own use, so I saw the whole process. A tree having
a round straight stem was felled, and the desired length of trunk cut
off. The outside was then shaped with the adze to take the desired form
of a canoe. Then the inside was hollowed out. The next thing to do was to
widen the inside of this canoe. This was done by filling the boat with
water and making a fire under it, and by fastening weights to each side.
When the shell had been sufficiently opened out, thwarts were placed
inside, about two feet from each other, to prevent the wood shrinking
when the wood dried. The stem and stern of the canoe are alike, both
being pointed and curved, and rising out of the water. The only tool used
for the making of a boat of this kind is the Dyak axe or adze (_bliong_).

This is the usual type of Dyak boat, and the method of making a smaller
or larger canoe is exactly the same. Even a war-boat, ninety feet
long, is made from the trunk of one tree. In the longer boats planks
or gunwales are stitched on the sides, and the seams are caulked so as
to render the boat watertight. These boats are covered with awnings
called _kadjangs_, which make a very good covering, as they are at
once watertight, very light, easily adjusted, and so flexible that if
necessary each section can be rolled up and stored in the bottom of
the boat. These _kadjangs_ are made of the young leaves of the _nipa_
palm. The leaves are sewn together with split cane, each alternate leaf
overlapping its neighbour on either side, until a piece about six and
a half feet square is made. This section is made to bend in the middle
crosswise, so that it can be doubled and rolled up, or partly opened, and
made to serve as a roof. Sometimes _kadjangs_ are made from the leaves of
the Pandanus palm.


Sea Dyaks at work on a small dug-out. The tree has been felled, and the
trunk is being cut into shape and hollowed out. The Dyaks are using the
native axe or _bliong_, and the picture shows their method of handling

To propel these boats the Dyaks use paddles about three feet or more in
length. The paddle used by the steersman is larger than those used by
the others, and the women use much smaller paddles than the men. These
dug-out boats draw very little water, and are easily handled, and may be
propelled at a good pace.

In shallow streams and in the rapids up-river, the Dyaks use small
canoes, which they propel with poles, standing up in the boat to do so.

The principal tools the Dyaks have for their work are the _duku_ and
_bliong_. The _duku_ is a short, thick sword, or, rather, chopping-knife,
about two feet in length. The blade is either curved like a Turkish
scimitar, or else quite straight. The handle is beautifully carved, and
is made of hard wood or of horn. The _duku_ is used in war as well as for
more peaceful purposes. In the jungle it is indispensable, as without it
the Dyak would not be able to go through the thick undergrowth which he
is often obliged to penetrate. It is, moreover, used for all purposes
where a knife or chisel is used, and is a warrior’s blade as well as a
woodman’s hatchet.

The _bliong_ is the axe the Dyaks use, and is a most excellent tool.
They forge it of European steel, which they procure in bars. In shape it
is like a small spade, about two and a half inches wide, with a square
shank. This is set in a thin handle of hard wood, at the end of which
there is a woven pocket of cane to receive it. The lower end of this
handle has a piece of light wood fixed to it to form a firm grip for
the hand. The _bliong_ can be fixed in the handle at any angle, and is
therefore used as an axe or adze. With it the natives make their boats,
and cut planks and do much of their carpentering work. The Dyak can cut
down a great forest tree with a _bliong_ in a very short time.

While the work of the men is to build houses and to make boats, the work
of the women is to weave cloth and make mats.

The cloth which the women weave is of two kinds, striped and figured. The
former is made by employing successively threads of different colours in
stretching the web. This is simple enough. The other pattern is produced
by a more elaborate process. Undyed white thread is used, and the web
stretched. The woman sketches on this the pattern which she wishes to
appear on the cloth, and carefully notes the different colours for the
different parts. If, for example, she wishes the pattern to be of three
colours—blue, red, and white—she takes up the threads of the web in
little rolls of about twenty threads, and carefully wraps a quantity of
vegetable fibre tightly round those parts which are intended to be red
or white, leaving exposed those parts which are intended to be blue.
After she has in this manner treated the whole web, she immerses it in
a blue dye made from indigo, which the Dyaks plant themselves. The dye
takes hold of the exposed portions of the threads, but is prevented by
the vegetable fibre from colouring the other parts. Thus the blue portion
of the pattern is dyed. After it has been dried, the vegetable fibre is
cut off, and the blue parts tied up, and only the portion to be dyed red
exposed, and the web put into a red dye. In this way the red part of
the pattern is obtained. By a similar method all the colours needed are
produced. The weft is of one colour, generally light brown.

Dyak weaving is a very slow process. The woman sits on the floor, and the
threads of the weft are put through one by one. The cloth they make is
particularly strong and serviceable. The women seem to blend the colours
they use in a pleasing manner, though there is a great sameness in the

[Illustration: GIRLS WEAVING

They are seated on mats on the floor. The threads are fastened to a
frame, which is kept in position by a large band that is secured to the
girl’s waist, and she can tighten or loosen the threads by leaning back
or bending forward. The threads of the weft are put through one by one
from right to left and left to right.]

Mats are made either with split cane or from the outer bark of reeds.
The women are very clever at plaiting, and some of their mats have
beautiful designs.

They also make baskets of different sizes and shapes, some of which have
coloured designs worked into them.

Hunting is with the Dyaks an occasional pursuit. They live upon a
vegetable rather than upon an animal diet. But in a Dyak house there are
generally to be found one or two men who go out hunting for wild pig
or deer on any days when they are free from their usual farm work. The
Dyak dogs are small and tawny in colour, and sagacious and clever in the

Native hunting with good dogs is easy work. The master loiters about, and
the dogs beat the jungle for themselves. When they have found a scent,
they give tongue, and soon run the animal to bay. The master knows from
the peculiar bark of the dogs if they are keeping some animal at bay, and
follows them and spears the game. The boars are fierce and dangerous when
wounded, and turn furiously on the hunter, who often has to climb a tree
to escape from their tusks. The dogs are very useful, and by attacking
the hind legs of the animal keep making it turn round.

Deer are more easily run down than pigs, because they have not the
strength to go any great distance, especially in the hot weather.

A favourite way of catching deer is to send a man to follow the spoor of
a deer, and to find out where it lies to rest during the heat of the day.
Then large nets made of fine cane are hung around, and the deer is driven
into these by a large number of men, women, and boys making a noise. When
the deer is caught in the net, he is soon killed.

A variety of traps are made by the Dyaks to catch birds and wild
animals. One of these traps (_peti_) set for killing wild pig is a
dangerous contrivance by which many Dyaks have lost their lives. It
consists of a spring formed by a stick being tied to the end of a post
and pulled apart from it. The end of this stick is armed with a sharp
bamboo spear. I have known of several men being killed by this trap, and
in Sarawak this particular trap is forbidden by the Government to be set.

The Sea Dyaks are very expert with the rod and line, and with them
fishing is a favourite occupation. They begin fishing at an early age.
For bait they use worms or certain berries. Their hooks are made of brass

Another method of fishing is by wooden floats (_pelampong_), generally
cut in the form of a duck. Each has a baited hook fastened to it, and is
set swimming down the stream. The owner of these floats drifts slowly in
his canoe after them, watching, till the peculiar motions of any of these
ducks shows that a fish has been hooked.

The _achar_ is a spoon-bait. A piece of mother-of-pearl shell or some
white metal is cut in the form of a triangle. At the apex the line is
attached, and at the base are fastened two or three hooks by a couple
of inches of line. This appliance is generally used with a rod from the
bows, and another man in the stern paddles the boat along.

The Dyaks also have many varieties of fish-traps, which they set in the
streams and rivers. Most of these are made of split bamboo.

They also have nets of various kinds; the most popular is the _jala_,
or circular casting-net, loaded with leaden or iron weights in the
circumference, and with a spread sometimes of twenty feet. Great skill
is shown by the Dyak in throwing this net over a shoal of fish which he
has sighted. He casts the net in such a manner that all the outer edge
touches the water almost simultaneously. The weights cause it to sink and
close together, encompassing the fish, and the net is drawn up by a rope
attached to its centre, the other end of which is tied to the fisherman’s
left wrist. The thrower of this net often stands on the bow of a small
canoe, and shows great skill in balancing himself. The _jala_ is used
both in fresh and salt water, and can be thrown either from the bank of a
river or by a man wading into the sea.

But the most favourite mode of fishing among the Dyaks is with the _tuba_
root (_Cocculus indicus_). Sometimes this is done on a small scale in
some little stream. Sometimes, however, the people of several Dyak houses
arrange to have a _tuba_-fishing. The men, women, and children of these
houses, accompanied by their friends, go to some river which has been
previously decided upon. A fence made by planting stakes closely together
is erected from bank to bank. In the middle of this there is an opening
leading into a square enclosure made in the same fashion, into which
the fish enter when trying to escape from the _tuba_ into fresh water.
The canoes then proceed several hours’ journey up the river, until they
get to some place decided on beforehand. Here they stop for the night
in small booths erected on the banks of the river. The small boats are
cleared of everything in them so as to be ready for use the next day.

All the people bring with them fishing-spears and hand-nets. The spears
are of various kinds—some have only one barbed point, while others have
two or three. The shaft of the spear is made of a straight piece of
bamboo about six feet long. The spear is so made that, when a fish is
speared the head of the weapon comes out of the socket in the bamboo; but
as it is tied on to the shaft, it is impossible for the fish to escape.
Even when the fisherman throws his spear at the fish, there is little
chance of the fish escaping, because the bamboo bears it to the surface,
and it is easy for the men to pick up the bamboo shaft and thus secure
the fish.

Most of the people bring with them some _tuba_ root, made up into small
close bundles, the thickness of a man’s wrist, and about six inches long.
Early the next morning some of the canoes are filled with water, and the
root is beaten and dipped into it. For an hour or so fifty or more clubs
beat a lively tattoo on the root bundles, as they are held to the sides
of the boats. The _tuba_ is dipped into the water in the boat, and wrung
out from time to time. This gives the water a white, frothy appearance
like soap-suds. The Dyaks, armed with fish-spears and hand-nets, wait in
readiness in their canoes. At a given signal the poisoned liquid is baled
out into the stream, and the canoes, after a short pause, begin to drift
slowly down the current. The fish are stupefied by the _tuba_, and as
they rise struggling to the surface, are speared by the Dyaks. The large
fish are thus secured amid much excitement, several canoes sometimes
making for the same spot where a large fish is seen. The women and
children join in the sport, and scoop up the smaller fish with hand-nets.
The _tuba_ does not affect the flesh of the fish, which can be cooked and

This form of fishing, when carried out on a large scale, is always a
great event among the Dyaks, because besides the large amount of fish
secured on these occasions, there is always a great deal of fun and
excitement, and it is looked upon as a pleasant sort of picnic.


In _tuba_ fishing the juice of the _tuba_ root is put in the water to
poison it, and cause the fish to rise stupefied to the surface, when they
are secured either with spears or by hand-nets. In the picture the men
are seen taking up to the Dyak house their fish spears and the fish they
have succeeded in taking. The boats, which are dug-outs, each made out of
the trunk of a tree, are being made fast to the bank. The large hats the
men are wearing as a protection from the sun are made of palm leaves. On
the right of the picture is seen a three-pronged fish-spear.]

For superstitious reasons the Dyaks do not interfere with the crocodile
until he has shown some sign of his man-eating propensity. If the
crocodile will live at peace with him, the Dyak has no wish to start a
quarrel. If, however, the crocodile breaks the truce and kills someone,
then the Dyaks set to work to find the culprit, and keep on catching and
killing crocodiles until they find him. The Dyaks generally wear brass
ornaments, and by cutting open a dead crocodile they can easily find
out if he is the creature they wish to punish. Sometimes as many as ten
crocodiles are killed before they manage to destroy the animal they want.

There are some men whose business it is to catch crocodiles, and who
earn their living by that means; and whenever a human being has fallen
a victim to one of these brutes, a professional crocodile catcher is
asked to help to destroy the murderer. The majority of natives will not
interfere with the reptiles, or take any part in their capture, probably
fearing that if they did anything of the kind, they themselves may some
time or other suffer for it by being attacked by a crocodile.

The ordinary way of catching a crocodile is as follows. A piece of hard
wood about an inch in diameter and about ten inches long, is sharpened
to a point at each end. A length of plaited bark of the _baru_ tree,
about eight feet long, is tied to a shallow notch in the middle of this
piece of wood, and a single cane or rattan, forty or fifty feet long,
is tied to the end of the bark rope, and forms a long line. The most
irresistible bait is the carcase of a monkey, though often the body of a
dog or a snake is used. The more overpowering the stench, the greater is
the probability of its being taken, as the crocodile will only swallow
putrifying flesh. When a crocodile has fresh meat, he carries it away and
hides it in some safe place until it decomposes. This bait is securely
lashed to the wooden bar, and one of the pointed ends is tied back with
a few turns of cotton to the bark rope, bringing the bar and rope into
the same straight line.

The next thing is to suspend the bait from the bough of a tree
overhanging the part of the river known to be the haunt of the animals.
The bait is hung a few feet above the high-water level, and the rattan
line is left lying on the ground, and the end of the rattan is planted in
the soil.

Several similar lines are set in different parts of the river, and there
left for days, until one of the baits is taken by a crocodile. Attracted
either by the smell or sight of the bait, some animal raises itself from
the water and snaps at the hanging bundle, the slack line offering no
resistance until the bait has been swallowed and the brute begins to
make off. Then the planted end of the line holds sufficiently to snap
the slight thread binding the pointed stick to the bark rope. The stick
thus returns to its original position, at right angles to the line, and
becomes jammed across the crocodile’s stomach, the two sharpened points
fixing themselves into the flesh.

Next morning the trappers search for the missing traps, and seldom fail
to find the coils of floating _rotan_, or cane, on the surface of some
deep pool at no great distance from the place where they were set. A firm
but gentle pull soon brings the crocodile to the surface, and if he be a
big one, he is brought ashore, though smaller specimens are put directly
into the boat, and made fast there.

Sometimes the cotton holding the bar to the line fails to snap. In that
case the crocodile, becoming suspicious of the long line attached to what
he has swallowed, manages to disgorge the bait and unopened hook in the
jungle, where it is sometimes found. But should the cotton snap and the
bar fix itself in the animal’s inside, nothing can save the brute.

The formidable teeth of the crocodile are not able to bite through the
rope attached to the bait, because the _baru_ fibres of which the rope is
made get between his pointed teeth, and this bark rope holds no matter
how much the fibres get separated.

Professional crocodile catchers are supposed to possess some wonderful
power over the animals which enables them to land them and handle them
without trouble. I have seen a man land a large crocodile on the bank by
simply pulling gently at the line. But this is not surprising, as from
the crocodile’s point of view there is nothing else to do but follow,
when every pull, however gentle, causes considerable pain.

The rest of the proceeding is more remarkable. The animal is addressed
in eulogistic language and beguiled, so the natives say, into offering
no resistance. He is called a “rajah amongst animals,” and he is told
that he has come on a friendly visit, and must behave accordingly. First
the trapper ties up its jaws—not a very difficult thing to do. The next
thing he does appears to me not very safe. Still speaking as before in
high-flown language, he tells the crocodile that he has brought rings for
his fingers, and he binds the hind-legs fast behind the beast’s back, so
taking away from him his grip on the ground, and consequently his ability
to use his tail. When one remembers what a sudden swing of the muscular
tail means, one cannot help admiring the man who coolly approaches a
large crocodile for the purpose of tying his hind-legs. Finally the
fore-legs are tied in the same way over the animal’s back. A stout pole
is passed under the bound legs, and the animal is carried away. He is
taken to the nearest Government station, the reward is claimed, and he
is afterwards cut open, and the contents of his stomach examined.

Though the animal is spoken to in such flattering terms before he is
secured, the moment his arms and legs are bound across his back and he is
powerless for evil, they howl at him and deride him for his stupidity.

The professional crocodile catchers are generally Malays, who are sent
for whenever their services are required. But there are Dyaks who have
given up their old superstitious dread of the animal, and are expert
crocodile catchers.



    General remarks—Kind to children—Industrious—Frugal—Honest—Two
    cases of theft—Curses—Honesty of children—Truthful—Curious
    custom—_Tugong Bula_—Hospitable—Morals—Desire for
    children—Divorce—Adultery—Dyak law concerning adultery—Dyak
    view of marriage—Unselfishness—Domestic affection—Example.

The Dyaks are seen at their best in their own jungle homes, in the midst
of their natural surroundings. The man who has only met the hangers-on
of the towns has little idea of their true character. To one who knows
them well, who has lived among them, and seen them at their work and at
their play, there is something very attractive about the Dyaks. They are
very human, and in many points are very like children, with the child’s
openness in telling his thoughts and showing his feelings, with the
child’s want of restraint in gratifying his wishes, the child’s alternate
moods of selfishness and affection, obedience and obstinacy, restlessness
and repose. Like children, they live in the present, and take little
thought for the future. Like children, they love passionately those who
are kind to them, and trust absolutely those whom they recognize as their

They are cheerful, merry, and pleasure-loving. Fine dress is a passion,
and the love, in both men and women, for bright colours is very marked,
and yet somehow the brilliant colours that are seen at a Dyak feast are
not at all displeasing. They are fond of song; the boatman sings as he
paddles along. They are fond of games, and a Dyak feast is the occasion
for playing many games, and for friendly trials of strength. They are
fond of dancing, and the two Dyak dances—the Sword Dance and the War
Dance—are always watched with interest by those present.

They are, like most Orientals, apathetic, and have no desire to rise
above their present condition. But they are truthful and honest, and are
faithful to those who have been kind to them; and these qualities cover a
multitude of deficiencies, and are rather unusual in Eastern races.

They are kind and affectionate to children, and in all the many years I
lived in Borneo I did not meet a single instance of cruelty to children.
They are considerate to the aged, and parents who are past work are
generally kindly treated by their children and grandchildren. They are
most hospitable to strangers, and offer them food and shelter. And yet
these are the people who some sixty years ago were dreaded pirates and
terrible head-hunters! Their improvement under a kind and just Government
has been wonderful.


She is seated on the outside open veranda of the Dyak house. The flooring
in the picture is made of the round trunks of small trees, and these
are tied down with cane. Sometimes the flooring is made of split palm
or split bamboos, but more often of laths of _bilian_ or ironwood, so
as to stand exposure to the weather. The outside uncovered veranda is a
favourite place to sit in in the cool of the evening.]

The Dyaks are industrious and hard-working, and in the busy times of
paddy-planting they work from early in the morning till dusk, only
stopping for a meal at midday. The division of labour between the men and
the women is a very reasonable one, and the women have no more than their
fair share of work. The men do the timber-felling, wood-cutting, clearing
the land, house and boat building, carrying burdens, and the heavier work
generally. The women help in the lighter part of the farm work, husk
and pound the rice they eat, cook, weave, make mats and baskets, fetch
the water for their daily use from the well or river, and attend to the

The Dyak is frugal. He does not as a rule seek to accumulate wealth,
but he is careful of whatever he may earn. He plants each year what he
supposes will produce sufficient rice to supply his own needs—a portion
of this is for family consumption, a portion for barter for such simple
luxuries as tobacco, salt fish, cloth, etc., and a third portion for
hospitality. If he happen to have an exceptionally good harvest, he may
sell some paddy, and the money thus obtained is not lavishly squandered,
but saved with the object of investing in gongs or other brassware, old
jars, etc., which do not decrease in value with age. On such occasions
as feasts nearly all the food and drink used are home products or begged
from friends. A Dyak drinks water as a rule, but if he takes alcohol
in any form, it is a home-brewed rice spirit (_tuak_). To spend money
upon anything which he can make for himself, or for which he can make a
substitute, is, in his opinion, needless waste.

The Dyak in his jungle home is remarkably honest. Families are often
away from their homes for weeks at a time, living in little huts on
their farms, and though no one is left in charge of their rooms, things
are seldom stolen. Sometimes Dyaks become demoralized by associating
with other races in the towns, but a case of theft among the Dyaks in
their native wilds is indeed rare. I have not been able to discover any
enactment of traditional law which fixes the punishment for theft. It
has not been necessary to deal with the subject at all. In my missionary
travels in Borneo I have often left by mistake in a Dyak house some small
thing like a soap-box, or a handkerchief, or a knife—things I know the
Dyaks love—but it has always been returned to me.

With an experience of nearly twenty years in Borneo, during which I came
into contact with thousands of the people, I have known of only two
instances of theft among the Dyaks. One was a theft of rice. The woman
who lost the rice most solemnly and publicly cursed the thief, whoever
it might be. The next night the rice was secretly left at her door. The
other was a theft of money. In this case, too, the thief was cursed.
The greater part of the money was afterwards found returned to the box
from which it had been abstracted. Both these incidents show the great
dread the Dyak has of a curse. Even an undeserved curse is considered
a terrible thing, and according to Dyak law, to curse a person for no
reason at all is a fineable offence.

A Dyak curse is a terrible thing to listen to. I have only once heard a
Dyak curse, and I am sure I do not want to do so again. I was travelling
in the Saribas district, and at that time many of the Dyaks there had
gone in for coffee-planting; indeed, several of them had started coffee
plantations on a small scale. A woman told me that someone had over and
over again stolen the ripe coffee-berries from her plantation. Not only
were the ripe berries stolen, but the thief had carelessly picked many of
the young berries and thrown them on the ground, and many of the branches
of the plants had been broken off. In the evening, when I was seated in
the public part of the house with many Dyak men and women round me, we
happened to talk about coffee-planting. The woman was present, and told
us of her experiences, and how her coffee had been stolen by some thief,
who, she thought, must be one of the inmates of the house. Then she
solemnly cursed the thief. She began in a calm voice, but worked herself
up into a frenzy. We all listened horror-struck, and no one interrupted
her. She began by saying what had happened, and how these thefts had gone
on for some time. She had said nothing before, hoping that the thief
would mend his ways; but the matter had gone on long enough, and she
was going to curse the thief, as nothing, she felt sure, would make him
give up his evil ways. She called on all the spirits of the waters and
the hills and the air to listen to her words and to aid her. She began
quietly, but became more excited as she went on. She said something of
this kind:—

“If the thief be a man, may he be unfortunate in all he undertakes!
May he suffer from a disease that does not kill him, but makes him
helpless—always in pain—and a burden to others. May his wife be
unfaithful to him, and his children become as lazy and dishonest as he
is himself. If he go out on the war-path, may he be killed, and his head
smoked over the enemy’s fire. If he be boating, may his boat be swamped
and may he be drowned. If he be out fishing, may an alligator kill him
suddenly, and may his relatives never find his body. If he be cutting
down a tree in the jungle, may the tree fall on him and crush him to
death. May the gods curse his farm so that he may have no crops, and have
nothing to eat, and when he begs for food, may he be refused, and die of

“If the thief be a woman, may she be childless, or if she happen to be
with child let her be disappointed, and let her child be still-born,
or, better still, let her die in childbirth. May her husband be untrue
to her, and despise her and ill-treat her. May her children all desert
her if she live to grow old. May she suffer from such diseases as are
peculiar to women, and may her eyesight grow dim as the years go on, and
may there be no one to help her or lead her about when she is blind.”

I have only given the substance of what she said; but I shall never
forget the silence and the awed faces of those who heard her. I left the
house early next morning, so I do not know what was the result of her
curse—whether the thief confessed or not.

The children are just as honest as their elders. A missionary used to
visit certain stations once a quarter. At one of the stations he had a
small native hut built for his accommodation. On one occasion some small
Dyak boys came to him with three cents (less than one penny in value),
which they said they wished to return to him. They had picked them up
under the floor of his hut. They thought they had fallen through the
open floor, and belonged to the missionary, and, as a matter of course,
they wished to return the money to the owner. I have never had occasion
to punish any of the schoolboys living in my house for theft. They had
access to everything there was, but, though they had no scruples about
asking for things, they never stole anything.

The Dyaks are also very truthful. So disgraceful indeed do the Dyaks
consider the deceiving of others by an untruth that such conduct is
handed down to posterity by a curious custom. They heap up a pile of the
branches of trees in memory of the man who has uttered a great lie, so
that future generations may know of his wickedness and take warning from
it. The persons deceived start the _tugong bula_—“the liar’s mound”—by
heaping up a large number of branches in some conspicuous spot by the
side of the path from one village to another. Every passer-by contributes
to it, and at the same time curses the man in memory of whom it is. The
Dyaks consider the adding to any _tugong bula_ they may pass a sacred
duty, the omission of which will meet with supernatural punishment, and
so, however pressed for time a Dyak may be, he stops to throw on the pile
some branches or twigs.

A few branches, a few dry twigs and leaves—that is what the _tugong
bula_ is at first. But day by day it increases in size. Every passer-by
adds something to it, and in a few years’ time it becomes an imposing
memorial of one who was a liar. Once started, there seems to be no means
of destroying a _tugong bula_. There used to be one by the side of the
path between Seratok and Sebetan. As the branches and twigs that composed
it often came over the path, on a hot day in the dry weather I have more
than once applied a match to it and burnt it down. In a very short time a
new heap of branches and twigs was piled on the ashes of the old _tugong

It has often been remarked by Dyaks that any other punishment would, if
a man had his choice, be much preferred to having a _tugong bula_ put up
in his memory. Other punishments are soon forgotten, but this remains
as a testimony to a man’s untruthfulness for succeeding generations
to witness, and is a standing disgrace to his children’s children.
Believing, as the Dyaks do, in the efficacy of curses, it is easy to
understand how a Dyak would dread the accumulation of curses which would
necessarily accompany the formation of a _tugong bula_.

The Dyaks are very hospitable. They are always ready to receive and
entertain strangers. A man travelling on foot through the Dyak country
need never trouble about food. He would be fed at the Dyak houses he
passed on his journey, as part of their crops is reserved to feed
visitors. When the family meal is ready, visitors are invited to partake
of it. If many visitors come to a house at the same time, some have their
meal with one family and some with another.

The morals of the Dyak from an Eastern point of view are good. There is
no law to punish immorality between unmarried people. The parents do not
seem to be strict, and it is considered no disgrace for a girl to be on
terms of intimacy with the youths of her fancy until she has made her
final choice. It is supposed that every young Dyak woman will eventually
marry, so her duty is plainly to choose a husband in her youth from
among the many men she knows. And yet, for all this, I should say that
promiscuous immorality is unknown. It is true that very often a girl is
with child before her marriage, but from the Dyak point of view this is
no disgrace if the father acknowledges the child and marries the woman.
The greatest desire of the Dyak is to become a parent, to be known as
father or mother of So-and-so. They drop their own names after the birth
of a child. A young couple in love have no opportunities of private
meetings excepting at night, and the only place is the loft where the
young lady sleeps. The suitor pays his visit, therefore, when the rest of
the family are asleep, and she gets up from her bed and receives him. Two
or three hours may be spent in her company before he leaves her, or if he
should be one whom she is not willing to accept as a husband, she soon
gives him his dismissal. If acceptable, the young man may be admitted to
such close intimacy as though they were already married. The reason is
to ascertain the certainty of progeny. On his departure he leaves with
the young lady some ornament or article of his attire, as a pledge of his
sincerity and good faith. On the first signs of pregnancy the marriage
ceremony takes place, and they are man and wife.

Divorce is very uncommon after the birth of a child, but where there are
no children, for such reasons as incompatibility of temper or idleness,
divorce is obtainable by either husband or wife by paying a small fine.
The women as a rule are faithful to their husbands, especially when they
have children, and adultery is very uncommon when there is a family.

The Dyak law respecting adultery is peculiar and worthy of notice. If a
woman commit adultery with a married man, his wife may make a complaint
to the headman of the house, and receive a fine from the guilty woman;
or, if she prefer it, she may waylay the guilty woman and thrash her; but
if she do so, she must forgo one-half of the fine otherwise due to her.
In the eyes of the Dyak the woman is alone to blame in a case like this.
“She knew,” they say, “the man has a wife of his own; she had no business
to entice him away from her.” If a married man commits adultery with an
unmarried woman the procedure is similar. The wife of the man may punish
the girl, but no one punishes the man. The whole blame, according to Dyak
ideas, falls on the woman for tempting the man.

If a married man commits adultery with a married woman, the husband of
the woman is allowed to strike him with a club or otherwise maltreat him,
while the wife of the adulterer has the right to treat the adulteress in
the same way. The innocent husband supposes the one most to be blamed
is not his wife, but her tempter, and _vice versâ_. This striking must
not, however, take place in a house; it must be done in the open. The
club used must not be of hard wood. Very often this striking is merely a
means of publishing the fact that adultery has been committed, and no one
is much hurt, but I have known cases where the man has been very badly
wounded. No striking can take place after the matter has been talked
about or confessed, and if one knew for certain of a case of adultery,
one could easily stop this maltreatment of each other by talking about
it publicly. The case is then settled by fining the guilty parties.
Where both parties are married, and no divorce follows, the fining is no
punishment, because each party pays to the other.

The Dyak view of the marriage state, especially where there are children,
is by no means a low one. Though an Oriental people living in a tropical
climate, their own traditional law allows a man to have only one wife.
If, as sometimes is the case, a couple continue to live together after
one of them has committed adultery, it is due to the fact that there are
little children whom they do not want to part with, and not because they
think lightly of the crime of adultery.

The Dyaks are very unselfish, and show a great deal of consideration
for each other. They live together under one roof in large communities.
Though each family has a separate room, all the rooms are usually
connected one with another by little windows in the partition walls.
This communal life accounts for the good-nature and amiability of the
Dyaks. The happiness and comfort, to say nothing of the safety, of the
community in times past, depend largely on their getting on well one with
another. Therefore, as a natural result, there has grown up a great deal
of unselfish regard for each other among the inmates of the Dyak village

Domestic affection between the different members of one family is very
great. Especially is this the case between parents and children. An old
father or mother need never work unless they like. Their children will
provide for them.

Parents will risk their lives for their children. At Semulong, near
Banting, a man and his son, a youth about twenty years old, were
returning from their farm, and had just arrived at the landing-place. The
father stepped out of the canoe, washed his feet on the river-bank, and
then turned to speak to his son in the boat. But the son had disappeared.
The father at once guessed that a crocodile had taken him, though he had
heard no noise. He shouted for help from the village house, and at once
jumped into the water. He dived, and felt his hand strike the crocodile.
Drawing his short sword (_duku_), he attacked the animal. He managed to
drive the point of his sword into the animal, when the beast let go his
son. The father brought him at once to the nearest mission-station, where
he was treated, but after ten days died of tetanus. The inner part of the
thigh and knee of one leg was torn away, so as to expose the ragged ends
of sinews under the knee.



    Head-hunting—Women an incentive—Gruesome story—Marriage of
    Dyak Chiefs—Legend—Some customs necessitating a human head—A
    successful head-hunter not necessarily a hero—A dastardly
    crime—War expeditions—The spear token—My experience at a
    village in Krian—Dyak war-costume—Weapons—The _Sumpit_—Poison
    for darts—Consulting omen birds—War-boats—Camping—War
    Council—Defences—War alarm—Ambushes—Decapitation and treatment
    of head—Return from a successful expedition—Women dancing—Two
    Christian Dyak Chiefs—Their views on the matter of head-taking.

Warfare is an important element among all savage races, and the Dyaks
are no exception to the rule. But it would be wrong to suppose that they
are naturally abnormally bloodthirsty because head-hunting was such a
regular practice with them. Mere love of fighting is not the only reason
for the terrible custom of head-hunting which at one time prevailed to
such a great extent among the Dyaks, but which at present, under the
rule of Rajah Brooke, is fast dying out. There are many other causes.
Theft committed by one tribe against another, revenge for the murder of
some of their friends, and a thousand other minor pretexts, are often
the origin of an expedition of one tribe against another. The Dyaks are
faithful, hospitable, just, and honest to their friends, and, being so,
it naturally follows that they avenge any act of injustice or cruelty
to them, and they are consequently bloodthirsty and revengeful against
their enemies, and willing to undergo fatigue, hunger, want of sleep, and
other privations when on the war-path. I have often been told by Dyaks
that the reason why the young men are so anxious to bring home a human
head is because the women have so decided a preference for a man who has
been able to give proof of his bravery by killing one of the enemy.

The desire to appear brave in the eyes of his lady-love sometimes leads
a young man to mean and cowardly crimes. The following gruesome incident
actually took place many years ago. A young man in the Batang Lupar
started by himself to seek for a head from a neighbouring tribe. In a few
days he came back with the desired prize. His relatives asked him how it
was he was able to get to the enemy’s country and back in such a short
time. He replied gravely that the spirits of the woods had assisted him.
About a month afterwards a headless trunk was discovered near one of
their farms. It was found to be the body of his victim, an old woman of
his own tribe, not very distantly related to himself!

In the old days no Dyak Chief of any standing could be married unless
he had been successful in procuring the head of an enemy. (See also
Chapter XXII.) For this reason it was usual to make an expedition into
the enemy’s country before the marriage-feast of any great Chief could
be held. The head brought home need not be that of a man; the head of a
woman or a child would serve the purpose quite as well.

There is a legend related among the Dyaks as a reason for this custom.
Once upon a time a young man loved a maiden, but she refused to marry him
until he had brought to her some proof of what he was able to do. He
went out hunting and killed a deer, and brought it to her, but still she
would have nothing to say to him. He went again into the jungle, and, to
show his courage, fought and killed a _mias_ (orang-utan), and brought it
home as a proof of his courage; but still she turned away from him. Then,
in anger and disappointment, he rushed out and killed the first man he
saw, and, throwing the victim’s head at the maiden’s feet, he blamed her
for the crime she had led him to commit. To his surprise, she smiled on
him, and said to him that at last he had brought her a worthy gift, and
she was ready to marry him.

It is sometimes stated that, according to ancient custom, no Dyak could
marry without having first procured a human head as a token of his
valour. This is not true. It was only in cases of the great men—their
Chiefs—that such a thing was necessary. A little consideration will show
how impossible it was for every man who married to be the owner of the
head of some human victim.

There were certain ancient customs which necessitated the possession of a
human head. When any person died the relatives went into mourning. They
put away their ornaments and finery, which were tied together in bundles.
At the feast in honour of the dead—_Begawai Antu_—these were all undone,
and the women and men put on their finery again. Some man cut the string
with which they were tied up. Before he could do such a thing, it used
to be necessary that a human head be brought into the house, and it was
usual for the man who had obtained that head to take a leading part in
the ceremonies and cut open the bundles.


The spears are made of steel and have shafts of hard heavy wood. The
shields are each cut out of one piece of wood, and are often coloured
with some fantastic design. Sometimes, as in the case of the man’s
shield on the left, cross pieces of cane or wood are fixed in the shield
to prevent it splitting. The second man on the left is wearing a large
sleeveless jacket, or collar, of skin to protect his shoulders from

Again, it was customary in some tribes to bring home a head as an
offering to the spirits when a new village was to be built.

Both these customs are no longer observed. At the feast in honour of the
dead—_Begawai Antu_—the headman of the house generally cuts open the
bundles of finery that have been put away, and at the building of a new
house the killing of a pig is supposed to be sufficient to satisfy the
demands of the spirits.

It is presumed that a man who has secured a human head must necessarily
be brave. But this need not be the case at all, for, as has been said,
the head of a woman or child will serve the purpose. And these heads need
not be obtained in open warfare. Very often the head of an enemy is taken
while he is asleep. Nor is it necessary that a man should kill his victim
with his own hand. Frequently many of his friends assist him in killing
some unfortunate man whom they have waylaid, and then he comes home with
the head, and poses as a hero!

It was customary in the old days to announce an expedition that one tribe
intended to take against another at one of their feasts, when the village
was thronged with guests from far and near. Some great Chief would
advance his reason for the intended attack. Either some of his people had
been slain, and revenge was called for, or else they wished to put off
their mourning, and for that required a human head taken in war. Perhaps
the reason was that they intended to build a new village house, and so
required some human heads to use as offerings to the spirit of the land;
or possibly he himself wished to marry, and wanted a head as a proof of
his valour in the eyes of his lady-love. Among the crowd who listened
to him there were sure to be many who were willing to follow him on the
war-path. The women would help him by urging their husbands, or lovers,
or brothers, to go. Out of the crowd of eager followers the Chief would
choose a certain number to form a Council of War. These would discuss the
whole matter, and it would be decided when the party was to start for the
enemy’s country. Details would also be discussed—how much food each man
was to take with him, by what route they were to go. The time of the year
generally chosen would be just after the planting season, because that
would give the men a clear three months before the harvest. The weeding
of the paddy-fields between the planting season and the harvest is work
that is usually done by the women.

The next thing to do would be to send the War Spear round to the
neighbouring villages, to let all know when the expedition was to take
place, and where it was to start from. A man would bring this spear to a
long Dyak house, deliver his message, and return, leaving the spear to be
carried on by one of the men in that house to the next village, and so
on. At once the men in the house would get their war-boats ready. They
would begin making figure-heads for the bows of their boats, and paint
the side planks in various patterns. They would furbish up their arms,
and sharpen their weapons, and decorate their helmets and war-jackets.
The Dyaks generally wear their best when going out to fight. I asked a
Dyak once why this was done, because, as I pointed out to him, most of
the finery they put on interfered with the free action of their limbs.
His answer was that if they were well dressed, in case of their death,
the enemy who saw the bodies would know that they were not slaves, but
free men of some standing.

In the present day, under the rule of Rajah Brooke, no Sea Dyaks may go
out on a fighting expedition unless called out for that purpose by the
Government. I remember not long ago that there were some rebels in the
upper reaches of the Batang Lupar River, who had been guilty of many
murders, and would not submit to the Government. After trying milder
measures without any effect, it was decided to take a force into their
country, and the Government sent round the War Spear to let the people
of the different villages know they were to be ready to go on expedition
at a certain date. I happened to be in a Dyak village in the Krian. It
was evening, and I was seated on a mat in the open veranda of the house,
and round me were seated a crowd of men and women, whom I was trying
to teach. A man arrived at the house with a spear decorated with red
cloth. At first no one noticed him. He spoke to a man near the top of the
ladder of the house. The man came up to the middle of the house, where I
was seated, and said something which I did not quite catch. At once the
whole crowd got up and left me. They listened eagerly to what the man who
brought the spear had to say. I was not left long in doubt of what it all
meant. The message the man brought was short and to the point: “You are
to be ready with your war-boats, and be at Simanggang at the next full
moon. There is to be an expedition up the river.”

It is difficult for me to describe the change that came over the crowd.
The headman of the house at once asked a youth to carry on the spear
to the next house with the same message. The men at once discussed the
question of war-boats, and it was decided there and then that they
should begin making a new war-boat the next day. The women were just as
excited about the expedition as the men, and there was a general turning
out of war-caps and war-jackets which had long been put away.

The costume a Dyak wears when going on the war-path consists of a
basket-work cap decorated with feathers and sometimes with human hair,
a sleeveless skin jacket, or in place of it a sleeveless quilted cotton
jacket, and the usual Dyak costume of the waist-cloth (_sirat_). For
weapons they have a sword, or _duku_. This may be of foreign or of
their own make. It is a dangerous weapon at close quarters, and is
what they use to cut off the head of a fallen enemy. They also have a
spear, consisting of a long wooden shaft of some hard wood with a steel
spear-head, which is tied on to the shaft with rattan. Sometimes the
shaft of the spear is the _sumpit_, or blow-pipe. For defensive purposes
the Dyak has a large wooden shield about three feet long, which, with its
handle, is hollowed out of a single block of wood. It is held in the left
hand well advanced before the body, and meant not so much to receive the
spear-point as to divert it by a twist of the hand. It is often painted
in bright colours, with some elaborate design or fantastic pattern, and
often decorated with human hair.

The _sumpit_, or blowpipe, is a long wooden tube about eight feet long.
The smoothness and straightness of the bore is remarkable. The hole is
drilled with an iron rod, one end of which is chisel-pointed, through a
log of hard wood, which is afterwards pared down, and rounded till it is
about an inch in diameter.

[Illustration: A DYAK IN WAR DRESS

Holding up his shield in readiness to receive the attack of the enemy.
He is holding his sword in his right hand. The shield is decorated with
human hair.]

[Illustration: HUMAN HEADS

The heads of slain enemies are smoked and preserved and looked upon as
valuable possessions. The above is a bunch of old heads as they appear
hanging from the rafters of a Dyak house.]

The dart used with the _sumpit_ is usually made of a thin splinter of
the wood of the _nibong_ palm, stuck into a round piece of very light
wood, so as to afford a surface for the breath to act upon. These darts
are sharpened to a fine point, and are carried in neatly carved bamboo

The poison that is used for these darts is obtained from the _epoh_ tree
(upas). Incisions are made in the tree, and the gutta which exudes is
collected and cooked over a slow fire on a leaf until it assumes the
consistency of soft wax. It is a potent and deadly poison. Some Dyaks
say that the most deadly poison is made of a mixture of the gum from the
_epoh_ tree and that from some creeper.

A dart is put in at one end, and the _sumpit_ is lifted to the mouth,
and with the breath the dart is driven out. Up to twenty-five yards
they shoot with accuracy, but though the darts can be sent fifty yards
or more, at any distance greater than twenty-five yards their aim is

Before starting on a war expedition, the Dyaks consult the omen birds.
The headman of the village, with the help of a few chosen friends, builds
a little hut at a convenient distance from the Dyak house, and stays
there, listening to the voices of the birds. If the first omens he hears
are unfavourable, he continues living there until he hears some bird of
good omen. When this happens, the men get ready their war-boats and start
for the appointed meeting-place.

The war-boat is generally made in the same way as the Dyak dug-outs in
ordinary use, out of the trunk of one large tree, only it is very much
larger and longer, and able to hold sixty men or more. They paint this
boat with a pattern of red and white—the red is an ochre and the white is
lime. It is propelled with paddles, and the steering is done with one or
two greatly developed fixed paddles, which the steersman works with his
foot if he happens to be standing up.

Sometimes the war-boat is built of planks in the following manner. First
they make a long _lunas_, or keel plank, of hard wood the whole length
of the boat. This has two ledges on each side on its upper surface,
each about an inch from the edge of the keel. Then several planks are
made, all of which are also the entire length of the boat. Each plank
has an inside ledge on its upper edge, its lower edge being quite plain.
When the Dyaks have made as many planks as are necessary, they put them
together in the following manner. The keel plank is put in position,
then the first side-planks are brought and placed with their lower or
plain edges upon the two ledges of the keel planks. The ledge of the
first side-plank receives in turn the next plank, and so on, till they
have enough planks, generally four or five, on each side. The ledges and
the planks next to them are bored, and firm rattan lashings are passed
from one to the other. The seams are caulked up so as to render the
boat watertight. In the construction of a boat of this kind no nails
or bolts are employed—nothing but planks ingeniously fastened together
with cane or rattan. These lashings are not very durable, as the rattans
soon get rotten. But this is of little consequence, as the boat is only
used for war expeditions, and on her return the lashings are cut, and
the separated planks are stored in the Dyak house. When she is again
required, the planks are got out and the boat reconstructed as before.

This kind of war-boat is not often seen nowadays. It is clumsy, and does
not travel very fast. In the whole of my experience I have only seen one
boat of this kind in course of construction.

Dyak war-boats hold from thirty to a hundred men. When filled with dusky
warriors with naked arms and legs just visible beneath the palm-leaf
awning, paddling with a regular, vigorous stroke, with their Chief
standing in the stem working the rudder with hand or foot, they form a
grand sight.

When all the boats have arrived, a start is made for the enemy’s country.
The line of advance is most irregular. There are wide gaps between the
boats, some lagging behind to cook or fish, and others, deterred by bad
dreams or unpropitious omens, waiting a day or two before moving on.

When the landing-place of the enemy is reached, a camp is formed, and
temporary huts are built lining the river bank. The warriors lie down to
rest side by side. Their spears are stuck in the ground near them, and
their shields and swords are by their side, so that they can spring to
their feet in a moment, ready for battle. The boats are hauled ashore and
hidden in the brushwood, to be used again on the return journey.

A War Council is held and the route decided upon, and the best way to
attack the enemy discussed. On a given day the march commences, each
shouldering his pack containing a cooking-pot, rice, etc. The pace is
more or less rapid as long as they are far from the enemy, but slackens
when they come nearer. The leaders proceed warily, as the enemy may be in
ambush by the way.

The Dyaks who are expecting an attack defend their houses with a strong
palisading of hard wood, strengthened by bamboo stakes fixed between
the perpendicular posts, with the sharpened points projecting in all
directions, presenting an impassable barrier of spikes to the invader.
The whole is tied firmly together with rattan or creepers. This fence is
about six feet high, and surrounds the whole village. Two gates are made
in it, but when these are closed, they present the same appearance as the
rest of the palisading.

The landing-places and approach to the village are all protected with
sharpened spikes of bamboo or hard wood. Their valuables—their jars and
brass gongs, etc.—they conceal in the jungle.

If they feel confident that they are able to repel the attack of the
enemy they keep the women and children at home. If there is any doubt
about the matter, they too are hidden away in the forest, and when
resistance becomes hopeless, they are rejoined by their relatives at some
fixed rendezvous.

The moment the enemy appears, the gongs are struck in a peculiar manner,
three strokes following each other very rapidly, a short pause, and then
three strokes again, and so on. When the neighbours hear this, they
recognize the signal, and know that their friends have been attacked, and
they hurry to their help.

[Illustration: DYAK WARFARE

The figures in this picture are posed to give some idea of Dyak warfare.
In the foreground is a dead man. The Dyak over him is grasping his hair
and about to cut off his head. The two figures on the left and the man
behind are waiting with their spears to attack the man who has taken
refuge in the hole in the stump of a tree.]

A favourite stratagem of defence in the lower reaches of the river is
to entice the leading boats of the enemy into an ambush on shore. There
are sure to be some boats of the attacking party far in advance of the
others, as they are anxious to be foremost in the fight. The defenders
choose a convenient spot, and a strong party is placed in ambush among
the trees. One or two men stroll upon the shingly bank to lure the enemy.
As the warriors from the attacking boats leap ashore, the men in ambush
spring from their hiding-place. They throw large stones at them, and
break their wooden shields. They engage with swords and spears in a short
and desperate conflict. As the main body comes round the bend of the
river, whooping and yelling, they plunge into the jungle with the heads
that they have obtained, and are soon safely far away.

The Dyaks do not attack a village or group of villagers, if their
approach has been discovered and the people are on the defensive. Under
these circumstances they content themselves with cutting off stragglers,
or hide near the waterside for people who are going to bathe or on their
way to examine their fish-traps. These they attack unawares, cut down,
take their heads, and flee into the jungle before the alarm can be given.

In fighting the Dyak warriors gather round their Chiefs, and defend them
bravely. Relatives often congregate together and help to defend each
other. When one of them is killed, rather than allow the enemy to take
his head, they decapitate him themselves, and bring his head back. When
possible, they carry their dead and wounded away with them, but more
often they only take their heads, and bury the bodies.

The Sea Dyaks, after having severed the head at the neck, scoop out
the brains with a bit of bamboo either through the nostrils or by the
occipital hole, cover the eyes with leaves, and hang the head up to dry
in the smoke of a wood fire. They cut off the hair to ornament their
sword-hilts and sheaths, as well as their shields.

Though cannibalism is not practised by the Dyaks, yet I have heard that
sometimes a man who has taken a head eats a small piece from the cheek,
in the hope of acquiring the bravery and virtues of the man killed. A
Dyak in the Saribas district told me he attempted to eat a little of the
brain of an enemy he had killed, but was unable to do so. Deep in the
mind of the primitive man of every country lies the idea that he can
acquire the attributes of another by eating his flesh or drinking his
blood. The Dacota Indian, I am told, eats the heart of his slain enemy,
and the New Zealander his eyes. It would appear that the Dyaks have the
same idea.

On the return from a war expedition, if the people of any particular
boat have been fortunate enough to secure a human head, word is sent up
to the Dyak village house of this fact, as soon as the boat reaches the
landing-stage. The men remain in the boat, and wait there till all the
women-folk from the house come to it, dressed in their best. Generally
only the men dance, and the arrival of a boat bearing the ghastly trophy
of a human head is the only occasion when the women dance. The excitement
is great, and there are continual shouts of triumph as the women, singing
a monotonous chant, surround the hero who has killed the enemy and lead
him to the house. He is seated in a place of honour, and the head is put
on a brass tray before him, and all crowd round him to hear his account
of the battle, and how he succeeded in killing one of their foes and
bringing home his head.

From all that has been said, it will be seen how the Dyaks value the
heads taken in war. They hang them over the fireplaces in the long open
veranda of their houses, they make offerings to them, and they believe
that the souls of those whom they have slain will be their slaves in
the other world. I look upon it as a remarkable fact worthy of record
that two great Dyak Chiefs who became Christians—one the Orang Kaya of
Padih, Saribas, and the other, Tarang of Krian—should have taken such
a decided step as to refuse to treasure their enemies’ heads any more.
They were both men of position, with a great reputation for bravery. The
Orang Kaya buried all the heads he possessed, and gave out that none
of his followers in a war expedition should bring back heads. Two of
his grandchildren were at my school in Temudok for some years. A son of
Tarang, Tujoh by name, worked as my catechist in Krian for some years.
I asked him what his father did with the old heads he possessed when he
refused to keep them himself. He told me that he did not think his father
acted wisely in that matter. His relatives begged for the heads, and he
gave them to them, and they did just what his father did not wish—made a
feast in honour of these heads, and treasured them!

While so many Dyak Christians are most unwilling to give up their old
heathen customs, these two Christian Dyak Chiefs happily took up the
right attitude in such an important matter in the eyes of the Dyaks as



    Social position of the women—Dyak food—Meals—Cooking food in
    bamboo—Law with regard to leaving a Dyak house—Rule of the
    headman—A Dyak trial—Power of the headman in old days—Dyak
    wealth—Valuable jars—_Gusi_—_Naga_—_Rusa_—A convenient
    dream—Trading incident at Sebetan—Land tenure—Laws about
    fruit-trees—Slavery—Captives in war—Slaves for debt.

The Dyak woman does not hold, as in most Eastern countries, an inferior
and humiliating position. As has already been stated, the women do no
more than a fair share of the work: they cook, make garments and mats,
help in the lighter part of farm work, and husk and pound the grain. The
men do the timber-felling, wood-cutting, clearing of the land, house and
boat building, and all the heavier work.

When the Dyaks meet together to discuss any matter such as the
advisability of migrating to a new house, the women are allowed to take
part in the discussion. Generally the men sit round in a circle, and
behind them are the women and children. And it is no unusual thing to
hear a woman express an opinion, and her remarks are listened to with
deference by the men.

The Dyak women have no reason to complain of their lot. Their wants are
few and easily satisfied. They may have sometimes a little more than
their fair share of work, but this is always the case where the men
spend much time on the war-path, and as the women keep the men up to the
mark in this respect, and often will not marry a man who has not been
successful in war, they are scarcely to be pitied if extra work fall to
their lot during the time the men are away fighting.

The women are earlier risers than the men, and retire to bed earlier.
They generally go to the river as soon as they wake, carrying their
water-gourds with them. They have a bath, fill their gourds with water,
and return to the house to cook the morning meal.

The principal article of food is rice, which is cooked in brass or iron
pots. When the rice is ready, it is put out on plates. They eat with
their rice either vegetables or fish. Sometimes they have the flesh
of wild pig or venison, but that is not usual. A favourite method of
cooking is to put the proper quantity of fish or vegetables or meat with
sufficient water and a little salt into a newly-cut bamboo. The mouth
is then stopped up with leaves, and the bamboo is placed over the fire,
resting on a stone at an angle of 45 degrees or more. By the time the
bamboo is thoroughly charred the contents are sufficiently cooked, and it
is taken from the fire and emptied out into a plate. Sometimes rice is
cooked in bamboos, and when it is ready to be eaten, the bamboo is split
and torn off in strips, when the rice is found well cooked inside—a stiff
mass moulded in the form of the bamboo.

When the food is ready and put out in plates, the men are asked to come
into the room and eat. Sometimes the women eat with the men; but if there
are too many to eat comfortably at one sitting, the men have their meal
first, and the women eat with the children after the men have done.

The Dyaks all sit on the floor, which also serves as their table. They
have their rice on plates, or sometimes upon clean leaves. They eat with
their fingers, dipping the hand when necessary into the common stock of
salt, or common dish of meat or vegetables. They eat with their right
hand, compressing the rice into portions of convenient size.

Nearly every animal is eaten by the Dyaks; fish, venison, and pork are
eaten by all, but many tribes eat monkeys, snakes, and even crocodiles.

When breakfast is over, they clean the crockery and put it away. The mats
are swept and taken up, and the refuse thrown through the open floor for
the pigs and poultry under the house to eat.

Each long Dyak village house has its headman, who generally occupies a
room in the middle of the house. He is called the _tuai rumah_—“the old
man or chief of the house”—and he settles all disputes among the inmates,
and decides the amount of the fine the guilty party has to pay. Great
deference is paid to him, and as a general rule his people abide by his
decisions. But his power is only one of persuasion, and depends upon his
personal ability and sense of justice. He cannot in any way coerce his
people into obedience. Upon the prestige and conduct of this _tuai rumah_
depends the number of families a Dyak house contains. If he be a man of
strong personal character, clear-headed, and upright in his dealings,
many will settle under him. If he be otherwise, he will quickly lose the
families living in his house. They will migrate to other houses where the
headman is one they admire and respect.

[Illustration: DYAK HOUSES

Showing the outside open platform where paddy, etc., is put out to dry.
Where the eaves are very low, parts of it are often raised to admit more
light into the house. The palm trees in the picture are cocoanut palms.]

There are certain laws among the Dyaks with regard to a family leaving a
house. If a new house is to be built, any families of the former inmates
may refuse to make their home in the new house, and may join some other
village or decide to build a house for themselves. If a family wish to
leave a house at any other time, they must not only leave the posts,
roof, and flooring of their part of the house, but they must undertake to
keep these in repair until such a time as the house is pulled down and a
new one built.

The Sea Dyak administration of law among themselves by the headman of the
house has its advantages. Disputes are settled at once and on the spot.
Unfortunately sometimes prejudice and the ties of relationship impede the
carrying out of justice, but more often the Chiefs are peculiarly alive
to the advantage of a just administration, which never fails to secure
the aid and support of the majority of the people.

I have often been present when some small dispute was settled by the
headman of a Dyak house. Both parties and their friends sat on mats in a
circle before the Chief. Each party had their say; the headman asked a
few questions. Then he pronounced judgment somewhat after this fashion.
He began by saying that as the disputants were living in the same
house—“brothers and sisters” so to speak—it was not necessary to inflict
a heavy punishment; all that was needed was to impose a small fine to
show which was in the wrong, and one party must pay the other a fine of
so many cups or so many plates as the case required.

Whenever I have been present, the fine was cheerfully paid. The
punishment, in fact, was very slight. Though the Government recognize
this method of settling disputes among themselves, still, if Dyaks are
discontented with the decision of their headmen, they can always bring
their case for trial before the Government officer of the district. But
this is seldom done. The fine imposed by the headman is so small compared
to that which would have to be paid if the case were tried elsewhere
that the guilty party generally prefers to pay it cheerfully rather than
appeal to the Government.

If the dispute be between the inmates of one house and those of another,
then the headmen of both houses have to be present at the trial. When
matters are at all complicated, headmen from other houses are also asked
to be present and help in the administration of justice.

I learn from conversations with the older Dyaks that in bygone days the
power of the headman was much greater than it is now. Then he used to
impose much heavier fines and take part of them himself for his trouble,
and no Dyak dared to murmur against the decision of his Chief. In those
days there was no court of appeal. The only means of protesting was to
leave the house and build on to another, and in the old days such a thing
was not so easily done as at present. The Dyak houses were much longer
and built much farther apart, and to join another house meant moving to a
district very far away and cutting off all connection with relatives and

Wealth among the Dyaks is not so much the accumulation of money as the
possession of brass gongs, guns, and valuable jars. Money is not used
except by the inhabitants of the towns. The up-country Dyaks procure what
they need by a system of barter, and in most of the shopping done in the
Chinese bazaars near the Dyak villages no money passes hands at all.
Silver coins are used by the Dyaks for making belts and bangles, and are
often attached to the edge of the petticoats worn by the women at feasts
and on other special occasions, and are esteemed only as ornaments.
Brass ware of all kinds is much valued, especially old brass guns and

The valuable jars (_tajau_) which the Dyaks prize so highly are in
appearance much like the earthen water-pots that are manufactured in
large numbers by the Chinese, and which cost from five to ten shillings.
But closer examination shows certain differences. The Dyaks are prepared
to pay exorbitant prices for a really old jar, and they venerate it
and make offerings to it. The best known of these sacred jars are the
_Gusi_, the _Naga_, and the _Rusa_. The first is the most valuable of
the three. It is of a greenish colour, about eighteen inches high, and
is much sought after. A good one would cost £80 or more. The _Naga_ is
about two feet high, and is called by that name because it is ornamented
with Chinese figures of dragons, or _naga_. It is worth from eight to ten
pounds. The _Rusa_ is covered with the representation of some kind of
deer (_rusa_), and is worth about four pounds. These prices, except the
first, may not seem very great to our ideas, but when one remembers how
poor the Dyaks are, they are very large amounts for them to pay for such
fragile things as earthenware jars.

The _Gusi_ is always kept wrapped in cloth and treated with the greatest
respect. People crawl in its presence, and touch it with the greatest
care. At certain feasts a jar of this kind is brought out, and offerings
are made to it. Besides being the abode of a spirit, it is supposed to
possess marvellous qualities—one of them being that if anything be placed
in it overnight, the quantity will increase before morning; another, that
food kept in a jar of this kind has peculiar medicinal virtues.

When any of these sacred jars are bought, before bringing it into the
room where it is to be kept an offering is always made to it. A chicken
is killed and the blood smeared on the jar.

It is not known for certain where these jars originally came from. One
theory is that many years ago a colony of Chinese settled in Borneo for a
short period, and made these jars and then left the country.

These old jars have been imitated by the Chinese, and many modern jars
are very like the originals. A very profitable business is done by Malay
traders, who, for one genuine old jar in their possession, have six or
more modern jars. The Dyaks are very cautious about paying a large price
for a doubtful article, but for all that they are often taken in.

I was at a Dyak house in Saribas, and was shown a jar which a Malay
trader had brought for sale. A Dyak had decided to buy it, the price had
been agreed upon, and the trader was to come on the following day to
receive it in brass guns, gongs, and money. The Dyaks, on examining the
jar more closely, came to the conclusion that it was a modern imitation.
When the trader came, he was told that the Dyak had had a bad dream about
the jar, and so was not prepared to buy it. In talking to an old Dyak
about it, I was told that to say one had a bad dream was the usual way of
refusing to buy a jar which seemed of doubtful value.

An amusing incident happened at Sebetan in Krian when I was there. A
Malay trader, whom we will call “A,” came to a Dyak house with a jar to
sell. “A” was well known, as he lived in his coffee plantation on the
bank of the Krian River. The Dyaks examined the jar and saw many defects
in it, and said so. The next day another Malay trader, whom we will call
“B,” arrived with a jar to sell, but no one in the house seemed inclined
to buy it. “A” and “B” seemed to be quite strangers to one another. “A”
examined the jar “B” had brought, and then said: “My jar is not a good
one; I admit that. But this is a genuine old jar, and worth the eighty
dollars he asks for it. I have not got much money with me; but if anyone
here will lend me the money, I am quite prepared to pay eighty dollars
for it.” As “A” was well known, the headman of the house lent him the sum
of money he required to enable him to buy the jar. The money was paid to
“B,” who went off. Then “A” began to boast about his bargain; he dwelt
on all the good points of the jar, and told the Dyaks that they were
very foolish to have let such a chance slip. He praised the jar so much
that the headman of the house said he would buy it from him for the same
price as he paid for it. “A” said he did not want to part with it, as it
was a genuine old jar, and honestly worth much more than he gave for it.
After some discussion “A” agreed to sell it to the Dyak for one hundred
dollars, and so he made a profit of twenty dollars in a very short time.

It was found out afterwards that “B” was living with “A” during his stay
in Krian! The jar was considered by experts to be a modern imitation and
comparatively worthless. When “A” was spoken to about the matter, he
persisted in saying that in his opinion the jar was a genuine old one,
but that he might be mistaken.

With regard to land, it has been the immemorial custom of the Dyaks that
when a person fells the virgin forest he acquires by that act a perpetual
title to the land. He may sell it, lend it, let it, or leave it to his
successor. The rent he is supposed to demand for a piece of land large
enough to be farmed by one man is one dollar. If, however, he is not
paid in money, he may claim a game-cock, or two plates. As a gamecock
or two plates cost about a quarter of a dollar, it is dearer to pay for
the use of land with money. Land disputes are very common among Dyaks. As
they often leave a particular district, and then return again after many
years, it is not surprising that complications arise.

Fruit-trees are owned by the people who plant them. The different
families in a Dyak house plant fruit-trees near their part of the house.
When they leave the spot and build a new habitation elsewhere, they
each still claim ownership of the trees they planted. The rule with
regard to fruit-trees is that anyone may take the ripe fruit that has
fallen, but only the owner or someone deputed by him may climb the tree.
Banting Hill, where I lived for some years, was covered with fruit-trees
(_durian_), and at night during the fruit season crowds of men and boys
would watch for the falling of the ripe fruit. They would each have a
torch made of the bark of some tree, and they would sit and wait with
the torch smouldering by their side. As soon as a ripe _durian_ fruit
was heard to fall, they would wave their torches in the air to make them
flare up into a flame, and they would rush to the spot, and the person
who found the fruit would take possession of it.

Slavery exists among the Dyaks, but not to any great extent. There are
two classes of slaves—captives in war, and slaves for debt.

The Sea Dyaks when on the warpath spare neither man, women, nor children,
but it occasionally happens that when they are able to do so, they carry
little children back with them as captives. There are not many slaves
to be met with among the Sea Dyaks, and these do not seem to be hardly
treated. The slaves are not distinguishable from their masters and
mistresses, and they live all together and fare precisely the same, very
often eating the same food at the same time from the same dish. In many
cases children who have been taken captive become so endeared to their
masters that they are adopted, and intermarry with the sons and daughters
of the other inhabitants of the village.

The ceremony of adoption is usually performed at a great feast, so that
the matter may be made as public as possible. The owner of the slave
announces to the assembled guests that he has freed him and adopted him
as his brother. He then presents to him a spear, with which he is told to
slay the man who dares in future to call him a slave.

The old Dyak law concerning debts was that if a man borrowed paddy or
rice from another, he must pay double that amount at the next harvest.
If therefore a debtor had a succession of bad harvests, his debt would
become so great that he could not ever hope to pay it off. If he paid
part of his debt, then the following year he would be expected to pay
double the amount still due. In process of time his debt would become so
great that he and his family would have to become slaves in payment of it.

According to old Dyak laws people who were careless enough to set a house
on fire rendered themselves liable to become the slaves of those who were
burnt out. The damage done by their carelessness would be too great for
them to compensate, so they would become slaves for debt.

Sir James Brooke made a law that after a certain number of years all
slaves for debt were to be set free, so at present there are not any,
except those who have grown old in the service of their masters, and do
not wish for their freedom.



    The Couvade among the Dyaks—Harm to the child—Ways of
    evading these restrictions—Punishment for violating these
    restrictions—A Christian woman’s ideas on the subject—Witch
    doctors and their methods—The waving of a fowl—Treatment of
    the mother and child—Infanticide—Bathing the child—Ceremony
    for insuring happiness to the child—Naming the child—Change of
    name—Children—Toys—Smallness of families—Reason.

As the Sea Dyaks look upon child-birth as a very ordinary event, there
are not many ceremonies connected with it, though there are many rules
and restrictions which have to be observed by the parents before the
child is born.

The Couvade is in existence among the Sea Dyaks, and there are many
superstitions which impede and harass those who are about to become

When it is known that a woman is _enceinte_, the following restrictions,
binding on both husband and wife, come into force, and have to be
observed until the child has cut its first teeth. The parents may not
cut creepers that hang over the water or over the path, lest the mother
should suffer from hæmorrhage after delivery. They may not cut anything
in the shape of cloth, cotton, etc., nor lay hold of the handle of a
knife or chopper, nor bind up anything into a parcel; nor may they dam a
stream to set up a fish-trap, or plait the rattan for fixing the adze.
They must under no circumstances tie up anything with a string, or drive
a nail into a board. Neither parent may eat anything while in the act of
walking. If the neighbour in the next room should hand anything through
the small window in the partition wall, the hand that receives it must
not be passed through the window, so as to be on the other side in the
next room, but must be kept on its own side of the wall. The man may
not nail up a wall or fasten together the planks of a boat. Nor must
he plant a post in the earth, nor dig a trench. Plaiting a basket or
mat-work must not be done by the woman. It is unfortunate if the cord of
the water-gourd, used by the women, break when carrying water, but in
case of such an accident, evil consequences may be averted if the woman
step astride over the gourd or other vessel three times backwards and
forwards. To do any of these forbidden things would hinder the wife’s

There are many prohibitions which, if disregarded by the parents, would
result in some harm to the child. They must not pour out oil, lest the
child should suffer from inflammation of the ears; or fix the sword
(_duku_) in its hilt, lest the child be deaf; or break an egg, lest the
child be blind; or plant a banana-tree, lest the head of the child should
be abnormally large; or kill any animal, lest the child be deformed or
its nose bleed; or scrape the shell of a cocoanut, lest the child’s hair
should not grow. It is also forbidden to eat anything in a mosquito
curtain, lest the child should be still-born; to carry stones, lest the
child should be paralyzed; to bend into a circle any piece of wood, lest
the child should not prosper.

There are a great many other matters of a similar sort forbidden, but
in the case of nearly all their restrictions, there are ways by which
they can be circumvented, and no evil effects follow. For instance, the
mother may do basket-work and make mats, provided some other woman begin
the work for her, and the man may dig trenches or erect a hut provided
the hands of others are first laid to it. A man may not kill an animal
yet, if he does kill anything, and runs away and then returns a few
minutes afterwards, and makes some remark like this aloud, “I wonder who
killed this animal?” he has nothing to fear.

These curious restrictions are more or less similar among the different
tribes. It is probable that they are founded on some theory of sympathy.
Man, woman, and unborn or newborn babe are all linked together by some
unseen bond, and, accordingly, the wrong action of one may result in harm
to the others.

The whole period of a woman’s pregnancy is passed in fear lest the
spirits (_antu_) should do harm to her or her unborn babe. If the mother
has a bad dream or hears a bird of ill omen, at once a fowl is sacrificed
to propitiate the spirits.

Should the husband wilfully violate any of the restrictions, the wife’s
relations immediately bring him to justice, and, according to Dyak law,
he has to pay a fine.

Some years ago Bishop Hose, accompanied by a missionary, visited
Ginsurai, one of the villages in the Saribas. The Christians there had
built for themselves a small chapel, where services were held. In the
evening, when the Dyaks were sitting together in the _ruai_ of the Dyak
house talking to the Bishop and his companion, the question arose as to
whether the attending of public worship should be included among the many
restrictions imposed upon a pregnant woman. The wife of the headman in
the house was a great invalid, and she gave her opinion on the matter.
“I think,” she said, “a woman in that state should be allowed to come to
public worship. It is just the time she needs it most. You men have so
much to engage your attention, and go out to your work. I am an invalid,
and am left at home ill. I often go by myself into our little chapel and
say the Lord’s Prayer, and I find it is a great consolation to me. A
pregnant woman, who is perhaps feeling ill and low-spirited, ought to be
allowed to join in public prayers.” Not so very long after she spoke in
this way this woman, Manja’s wife, died. Let us hope that there are many
others in Borneo who, like herself, have learnt to rely on a Higher Power
in time of need.

When the time of delivery is near, and the woman is in travail, two or
three older women come in and attend to her.

Should any difficulty occur in the delivery of the child the _manangs_,
or witch-doctors, are called in. One takes charge of the proceedings
in the lying-in room, while the others remain outside in the _ruai_,
or common veranda. The _manang_ inside the room winds a loop of cloth
around the woman above the womb. One of the _manangs_ outside wraps his
body around in the same manner, but first places within the folds of a
cloth a large stone. A long incantation is then sung by the _manangs_
outside, while the one within the room strives to force the child
downward, and so hasten delivery. If he succeed in doing this, he draws
down upon it the loop of cloth, and twists it tightly around the mother’s
body, so as to prevent the upward return of the child. A shout from him
proclaims his success to his companions outside, and the _manang_ who is
personating the mother moves the loop of cloth which contains the stone
and encircles his body a stage downwards, in imitation of what has been
done to the mother in the room. So the matter proceeds until the child is
born, or until all concerned become assured of the fruitlessness of their

Fortunately for Dyak mothers, difficulties of this sort seldom occur.
Delivery is generally very easy. The mother may often be seen sitting up
with her back to the fire half an hour after her child is born, looking
none the worse for what she has gone through, and before a week she will
probably be back at her work as usual.

As soon as the child is born, a signal is given either by beating a
bamboo with a stick or by striking a brass gong to announce the event.
Then a fowl is waved over the heads of all present, including the infant
and his mother. The fowl is killed and the blood smeared on the foreheads
of those present. It is afterwards cooked and eaten by the parents of the
child and any friends that may be present.

The mother has a poultice of ground ginger placed on her abdomen, and is
bandaged and made to sit up with her back to the fire, and she is given
an unlimited amount of ginger-tea to drink. Her poultice is changed once
a day. The infant is washed, and a compound of betel-nut and pepper leaf,
which has been chewed in the mouth, is placed on its stomach, and a
binder tied round it. It is then made to lie on the spathe of a betel-nut
palm, a cloth is put round it, and a Dyak sheet hung over it.

Until a civilized Government interfered to prevent such atrocious
murders, there used to be a custom among the Dyaks that, if the mother
died in giving birth to her child, the babe should pay the penalty and
be buried with the mother. The reasons given by them for this cruel act
being, that it was the cause of the mother’s death, and that there was
no one to nurse and care for it. No woman would dare to suckle such an
orphan, lest it should bring misfortune upon her own children. Therefore
the poor child was very often placed alive in the coffin with the dead
mother, and both were buried together. This was the old Dyak custom, but
it is a long time since it has been carried out. I have myself known many
cases among the Dyaks when, the mother having died in child-birth, the
orphan has been adopted and brought up by some friend or relative.

During the first three days the child receives its bath in a wooden
vessel in the house, but on the fourth day it is taken to the river.
Some ceremonies attend its first bath in the river. An old man of some
standing, who has been successful in all he has undertaken, is asked to
bathe the child. He wades into the river holding the child in his arms.
A fowl is killed on the bank, a wing is cut off, and if the child be a
boy, this wing is stuck upon a spear, and if a girl, it is fixed to the
shuttle used to pass between the threads in weaving, and this is erected
on the bank, and the blood allowed to drop into the stream as an offering
to propitiate the spirits supposed to inhabit the waters, and to insure
that, at any rate, no accident by water shall happen to the child. The
remainder of the fowl is taken back to the house, cooked and eaten.

At some period after the child’s birth—it may be within a few weeks, or
it may be deferred for years—a ceremony is gone through in which the
gods are invoked to grant the child health and wealth, and success in
all his undertakings. The ceremony is generally postponed for some years
if the parents are poor, in order to enable them to save a little to pay
for the entertainment of their friends and relations on the occasion.
Where the parents are better off, the ceremony is held a few weeks after
the birth of the child. Several witch-doctors are asked to take part in
this performance. A portion of the long open veranda of the Dyak house
is screened off by large, hand-woven Dyak sheets (_puah_), and within
these the mother sits with her child in her arms. The medicine men walk
round and round, singing some incantation. Generally there is a leader,
who sings by himself for a few minutes; then he pauses, and turns round
to his followers, and they all sing in chorus. Then the leader sings by
himself again, and so on. They all walk round, first turning their feet
to the right and stamping on the floor, then pausing a moment and turning
their feet to the left, still stamping. This ceremony begins in the
evening, and goes on for several hours. When it is over, food is brought
out to the assembled guests, and all partake of the provided feast.

The proceedings differ very much according to the wealth and standing
of the parents. Among the poor it is a very quiet affair—two or three
witch-doctors attend, and only the near relatives of the child are
present. On the other hand, among those who are rich, this ceremony is
made the occasion of holding a great feast, and inviting people from all
parts to attend. Pigs and fowls are killed for food. Jars of _tuak_ (a
spirit obtained from rice) are brought forth for the guests to drink, and
all are invited to rejoice with the parents.

The naming of the child is not made the occasion for any ceremonies, and
it is not unusual to meet children of seven or eight years old who have
not yet received a name. They are known by some pet name, or are called
_endun_ (little girl), or _igat_, or _anggat_ (little boy).

[Illustration: DYAK CHILDREN

The figure on the right is a boy, the other five are girls. The children
are fond of games, and are generally expert swimmers, but they have to
make themselves useful, and help their parents very early in life. Dyak
parents are very kind to their children, who, as a rule, return the
affection, and do as they are told from a desire to please them.]

Even when a name is given to a child, it is often changed for some reason
or other. The Dyaks have a great objection to uttering the name of a dead
person, so if the namesake of a child dies, at once a new name is chosen.
Again, if a child is liable to frequent attacks of illness, it is no
uncommon thing for parents to change the name two or three times in the
course of a year. The reason for this is that all sickness and death is
supposed to be caused by evil spirits, who are put off the scent by this
means. When they come to take the child’s soul away, they do not hear his
old name uttered any more, and so they conclude he no longer exists, and
return without him!

The Dyaks are very fond of children, and treat them very kindly. They
rarely, if ever, punish them. The children have a great deal of liberty,
but are not often unruly, disobedient, or disrespectful. They are, as a
rule, very fond of their parents, and when they grow older, do as they
are told from a desire to please them.

The girls like to help their mothers in the work of the house, and become
useful at an early age. The boys also begin to work early, and are often
seen accompanying their fathers when they work on their farms. A boy is
very proud when he has succeeded in making his first dug-out canoe, which
he sometimes does at fifteen. He can at this age join a party working in
the jungle and collecting gutta-percha, canes, and other jungle produce,
and he receives an equal share with the adult members of the party. The
boys generally bring back what money they earn in this way, and give it
to their parents.

Dyak children have not many toys. Little girls are sometimes seen with
rudely carved wooden dolls, and little boys play with models of boats.
The boys are fond of spinning-tops, which they make for themselves.

Though the Dyaks marry young, they do not have large families. It is not
often that one meets a family of over three or four children, and I have
only known of one case where a woman had seven children. The conditions
are favourable, one would think, to a rapid increase of population. They
have plenty of good plain food, and the climate is healthy. There are
none of the principal checks to population mentioned by Malthus among
savage nations—starvation, disease, war, infanticide, or immorality.
What, then, is the cause of the small number of births? Climate and race
may have something to do with it, but I think the main cause of it is the
infertility of the women. This is no doubt brought about by the hard work
they do, and the heavy loads they often carry. A Dyak woman sometimes
spends the whole day in the field, and carries home at night a heavy
load, often walking for several miles over hilly paths. In addition to
this, she has to pound the rice, a work which strains every muscle of the
body. I have often been told by Dyak women that the hardest work they
have to do is this rice-pounding. This kind of hard labour begins at an
early age, and never ceases until the woman is too old or too weak to
work. Need we wonder, then, at the limited number of her children?



    Up-country mission schools—Education—The Saribas Dyaks eager to
    learn—School programme—What the boys were taught—Some schoolboy
    reminiscences—A youthful Dyak _manang_—The story of Buda—The
    opening of the Krian Mission and the Saribas Mission.

In this chapter I want to say something about the little school of Dyak
boys I had in the up-country mission station in my charge. My school
was a very small one. The largest number of boarders I ever had was
sixteen. It would seem hardly necessary to devote a whole chapter to it,
but the up-country school is an important factor for good, and deserves
encouragement. I should like to see more of these schools in different
parts of the country. I feel sure that it does a Dyak boy a great deal
of good to be a few years in one of these small schools under the
personal supervision of the missionary in charge. Here he would do much
manual work, just as he would do in his own home, and he would at the
same time be taught moral truths as well as general knowledge. When he
returns to his Dyak home, he is sure to influence his people for good.
The object of education is to build up character. The way to improve the
Dyaks is not to educate a certain number of them to earn their living
elsewhere, but to take some young people from the Dyak village, improve
them by implanting in their minds right ideas, and then send them back
to live with their own people the ordinary work-a-day life of the Dyak.
I agree with those who say that to place Dyak boys in one of the larger
schools in Kuching for any length of time will make a return to their old
surroundings distasteful to them, and unfit them for the ordinary life
and occupations of their people. And therefore I think that only those
who show a special aptitude to become teachers should be sent on to the
school at the capital to be taught to read and write English. A certain
number of clerks are needed, but that number is very limited, and to
produce a large number of Dyak clerks for whom there is not sufficient
work is surely a mistake. There are some who advocate technical education
for the Dyak. No doubt he would with training make an excellent carpenter
or smith, but again he would find difficulty in getting work. He would
never be able to compete with the Chinese artisan into whose hands all
the skilled labour has fallen.

The main object of my school in the jungle was to teach Dyak boys for a
few years, and then send them back to their own people. Unfortunately, I
had not the means to carry this out to any great extent.

A few of my schoolboys, after being with me for some time, were sent on
to the larger school at Kuching to be taught English. These were the boys
who one hoped would in after years become teachers and catechists. There
is so little Dyak literature that it is necessary that a person learn
English so as to be able to educate himself by reading English books. But
the majority of my boys stayed with me for two, three, or four years,
and then returned to their Dyak homes. In my school there was manual
work as well as lessons to do. They lived plainly, cooking their own
food and doing most of their own work. They were cut away from all the
superstitious customs of their people, and received a certain amount of
moral and religious training. After three or four years of such school
life they were ready to return to their old surroundings, taking with
them the lessons they had learnt.

For the present, at any rate, there is no need for the Dyak to take up
new industries. What he wants is to be taught to do the work he has to
do more thoroughly, and to be released from the bondage of superstition
and the constant fear of evil spirits in which he lives. The problem of
his future will work itself out by a natural process. When the present
sources of supply fail him, necessity will force him to take up new

My schoolboys came from different Dyak villages, but the majority of
them were boys from Saribas. The Dyaks of that district are more anxious
to improve themselves than other Dyak races. The following incident
will show how keen they are to learn to read. A party of Saribas Dyaks
going on a gutta-hunting expedition asked for a copy of the first Dyak
reading-book, because one of them could read, and thought he would teach
the others in the evenings when they were not at work. And this is indeed
what did happen, and when the party returned most of them were able to
read. The Saribas women are just as keen as the men, and many of them
have been taught to read by some Dyak friend. I have myself noticed, when
holding services for the Christians in some villages in Saribas, how many
of those present were able to use the Dyak Prayer-Book and follow the
service and read the responses.

A Dyak schoolmaster, who had taught in Banting for many years, afterwards
worked as the Government clerk at Betong in Saribas. He told me that
he was struck by the number of Dyak men and women in Saribas who could
write, and how they often wrote letters to their friends who were away,
and received letters from them.

The school programme for the day was as follows:

5.45 _a.m._—The two boys whose turn it was to cook, and the two boys
whose turn it was to sweep out the school-room and the lower room of the
Mission House, would get up and begin their duties.

6.30 _a.m._—A gong would be struck telling the boys to come to breakfast.
They would all go to the kitchen and have their meal, consisting of rice
with a little salt fish or vegetables.

7 _a.m._—The boys would be told what manual work they had to do: either
they would weed the paths, or cut the grass, or work at their different
vegetable gardens. Sometimes they would go out into the jungle to get
firewood. At Temudok, where the soil was good, the schoolboys had
excellent vegetable gardens.

8.30 _a.m._—A gong would be struck to let them know they were to stop
working and have a bath, after which, at 8.45 _a.m._, there would be a
short service.

9-11 _a.m._—Morning school.

12 _noon_.—Midday meal.

2-4 _p.m._—Afternoon school.

5 _p.m._—Evensong, to which some of the Dyaks from the village would come.

6 _p.m._—Evening meal.

7-8 _p.m._—Preparation for next day’s lessons.

9 _p.m._—Two or three short prayers and one verse of a children’s evening
hymn, after which the boys would go to bed.

On Saturdays there was no school. The boys did their washing on that day,
and often went into the jungle for firewood, but they had most of the day
for play.

The children were taught to read and write Dyak, and a little arithmetic.
They were also taught the elements of the Christian religion. They were
always encouraged to ask the schoolmaster or myself any questions they
liked. I have learned from conversations I had with my boys what were the
special points in Christianity that needed explanation to Dyaks. Living
with me as they did, I got to know my boys very well, and through them I
learnt to know their parents and friends. They did not have many lessons
to learn; there was plenty of time for play and work. It was not so
much what they learnt from books that did the boys good, as their being
separated for a time from the customs and superstitions of the Dyaks.
We have had many instances of families becoming Christian through some
children of theirs coming to school.

Most of the boys in the school were Christians, but all, whether
Christians or not, attended the services and were taught about God. Some
of the bigger heathen boys, after being in the school some time, have
asked to be baptized.

The following schoolboy reminiscences may be of interest to my readers:—

When I was visiting the different villages in the Saribas River and
teaching the people in the evening in the public hall of the Dyak house,
very often some boys would say they would like to join my school. Then I
would speak to their parents, and if they agreed to it these boys would
go back with me on my return to the Mission House and attend my school.

I must relate an incident which occurred when I was stationed at Temudok
on the Krian River. I paid my usual quarterly visit to Saribas, and when
I was at Stambak a boy named Usat, about twelve years old, said he would
like to attend my school. In the evening, when we were seated on mats in
the public part of the house, the headman, who was a great warrior, and
had a very gruff manner, said to me:—

“I hear you are thinking of taking Usat to your school. His brother is
here, but he is a fool and cannot speak, so I will speak for him. I
should not advise you to take Usat. He is a bad boy, and never obeys his
elders. Why, one day he took a knife and wanted to attack me! Of course,
if you wish to take a boy of that kind with you, you can, but I have
warned you.”

Usat was himself present and heard all this, but said nothing. I said
to him: “If you come with me to school you must do what you are told; I
don’t want disobedient boys.” He made no reply.

Later on in the evening, when I was returning to my boat, I heard a
pattering of feet behind me on the log which formed the path. Turning
round, I saw it was Usat, who had followed me, and wanted to say
something to me.

“If you take me with you,” he said, “I will do as I am told.”

I liked his looks, as he seemed bright and intelligent, so I told him I
would call for him in about ten days’ time, when I had visited the other
Saribas villages, and was on my way back to Temudok, and if his parents
consented to his going to school, he could accompany me.

He was waiting for me on my return from up-river, and I took him in my
boat to Temudok, where he soon made friends with the other boys. He was
full of fun and mischief, but very frank and open, and we all liked him
very much.

After he had been with me about three weeks, four Dyaks came overland
from Stambak. They said they had been sent by Usat’s parents and friends,
who felt certain that the boy must have given a great deal of trouble,
and that I was anxious to get rid of him, and so they had come to fetch
him home. I told them the boy was happy enough, and that I did not want
to send him back, so they returned without him. I do not know what they
said about the boy, but, anyhow, he was allowed to stay at my school for
over two years, when his parents wished him to return to help them in
their work.

A little boy from Seblak, a branch of the Krian River, came to me
at Temudok, and asked to be admitted into my school. There were no
Christians in the village where he lived, but his brother, who was in the
Government employ at Kabong as a fortman, had heard of my school. Belawan
was not a particularly sharp boy, but he was very strong for his age and
a very good wrestler. Nothing gave him greater pleasure than to wrestle
and beat a boy older than himself. He stayed at my school a little over
two years. I have never done any missionary work on the Seblak River,
but I am glad Belawan came to my school, because I learnt from him what
absurd ideas the people at Seblak had of the missionary and the Mission
House. One thing he said was that there was a general idea among some of
the people that I had a roomful of _antu_ (evil spirits) in the Mission
House, and he said that was one reason why for a long time he hesitated
about joining the school at Temudok! Seblak is rather out of the usual
beat, and the Dyaks there do not come into contact with missionaries, and
I was not at all surprised that the people of that district should have
absurd ideas. I hope later on, when missionary work is begun in Seblak,
the fact that Belawan stayed for two years in my house will have helped
to pave the way for a kind reception of the missionary.

I was once returning to Temudok from a visit to the Saribas River, and
as usual had in my boat a few Dyak schoolboys who had been on a visit to
their friends at Saribas. We had had a tiring day, and my boat got to
Kabong—the mouth of the Krian River—at about 7 p.m. The boatmen had not
had their evening meal, and everybody was tired and hungry. I was going
to spend the night at the Fort, so the men and boys carried from the boat
such things as I might require. When everything I needed had been brought
to the Fort, one of the schoolboys, Saran, said to me:—

“There is a Malay boy on the beach who says he would like to fight me. If
you give me leave, I should be glad to fight him.”

“What do you want to fight for at this hour?” I said. “You are all tired
and hungry. The best thing for you to do is to have your dinner.”

“The Malay boy was very cheeky,” Saran went on to say; “he shook his
fist at me, and said I was afraid of him. I should like to give him a

“Very well,” I said; “go and fight him if you like, but don’t come back
whining to me and say you are hurt.”

About half an hour afterwards Saran returned very pleased with himself.
It seems that when the Malay boy saw Saran meant business, he took to
his heels, and my schoolboy had the pleasure of chasing him to the Malay
village. Though he did not have his fight, he had the pleasure of feeling
he had defeated the enemy. I mention this little incident to show how
very much like other boys the Dyaks are, and how my schoolboy was ready
for a fight even though he was tired and hungry.

When stationed at Temudok, I used to visit the Christians on the Budu
River—a branch of the Krian River—and I had there a little native-built
hut, where I used to live for a week or so. The boys and girls there were
very anxious to learn, so I got some slates for them. In the evenings
there used to be about a dozen boys and girls in my room learning to read
and write. It was amusing to see what they did when they wanted a slate
pencil. They would go to the shingly bed of the river a few yards away,
and pick up a long thin bit of slate, and rub it against some other stone
till it was the right shape to be used as a pencil.

One day I went with my Catechist, Tujoh, and two schoolboys, who had
accompanied me from my Mission School at Temudok, overland to a long
Dyak house higher up the Budu River. A boy about fourteen years old
was pointed out to me there, and I was told that he was a _manang_, or
witch-doctor. I had never seen anybody as young as that acting as a
_manang_, and knowing what a great deal of deceit is practised by the
Dyak witch-doctor, there was to me something very sad in the thought of
this young boy doing such work. I was also curious to know what led him
to become a _manang_, so I spoke to him, and told him that if he cared to
pay a visit to Temudok, or to come to school there, he would be welcome.
After some little discussion, his parents allowed him to come with me
on a visit, and later on the boy, whose name was Ambu, was allowed to
attend my school. I found out from him that he understood very little of
the doings of the witch-doctors. There were very few _manangs_ near his
village, and there was a difficulty in getting more than two or three to
take part in their ceremonies over the sick, so Ambu was persuaded to
join them and walk round when incantations were made. While the other
Dyak doctors were well paid, Ambu received some trifle for his part in
the proceedings. Ambu stayed with me nearly a year, and then returned to
his people. I had a long talk with him before he went back about the work
of the _manangs_. I said that my advice to him was not to have anything
to do with their ceremonies for the next few years. If, when he was old
enough to judge for himself, he still wished to be a _manang_, he could
do so, but in the meantime he had better follow the advice of one who was
older than himself, and knew something of the deceit of the _manangs_. I
lost sight of Ambu soon after his return to his people, because the house
was broken up, and the inmates moved to some distant part.

I conclude this rambling chapter with the romantic but true story of how
one of the most influential native Catechists became a Christian through
seeing the missionary teaching some boys in an up-country Mission School.

[Illustration: A DYAK YOUTH

He has on an elaborate headkerchief decorated with tassels and small
pieces of silver or brass. These headkerchiefs are sometimes woven by the
Dyaks themselves, or else they make the border of bright-coloured threads
and sew it round a piece of red or blue imported cloth.]

[Illustration: A DYAK LAD

On his head he has a headkerchief which consists of a square piece of
cloth tied in such a manner as to form a cap.]

Buda was the youngest of the warrior sons of the old Orang Kaya Pemancha,
the famous pirate and war-leader of the Saribas Dyaks in the old
lawless days. One of his brothers, Haji, was killed fighting against
the Government forces sent to punish the rebels and restore order in
the Saribas. Loiyo and Nanang, two other brothers, were at one time
followers of Rentap, who held out so long against the Sarawak Government,
and made Sadok Mountain, between the Saribas and the Skrang Rivers, his
headquarters. The Dyaks often relate with keen interest the story of
those ancient days when Rentap’s stronghold, high up on Sadok Mountain,
with precipitous approaches on every side, was considered impregnable.
Many an expedition did the Government lead against Rentap, but to no
purpose. Rentap, who was called by his followers the “Inland Rajah,” and
was the leader of the opposition to the rule of the Rajah of Sarawak, was
supported by a large force of disaffected Saribas and Skrang Dyaks, and
was not to be easily beaten.

In 1861, however, Rentap was losing his popularity, and a great many of
his followers had deserted him. They could not endure the violence and
wilfulness of their leader, and they saw that the Dyaks who had submitted
to Rajah Brooke’s Government were happy and flourishing. Moreover, Rentap
had offended their Dyak prejudices. He had discarded his old wife, and
married one of the girls he had taken captive, and called her “the Ranee
of Sadok.” This was contrary to all Dyak custom, and was greatly resented
by his followers. In that year Loiyo and Nanang, two of Rentap’s leading
warriors, and their adherents, made their submission to Rajah Brooke.
They had to give security to the amount of forty valuable jars (worth
about £500), which were to be retained for three years, and then returned
to their owners should they remain loyal.

The next expedition led by the Government succeeded in defeating Rentap.
When he found that his stronghold was no longer tenable, he fled with
such of his followers as were able, down the opposite side of the
mountain. Deserted by most of his followers, he retired to the Entabai
branch of the Kanowit River, and died there some years after.

Buda and his brother Unting, the two other sons of the Orang Kaya
Pemancha, did their share of fighting during these troubled times, and
took part in many a bold deed, to the annoyance of the Government. Unting
married and settled at Saribas, and I knew him well. Buda married into a
family at Sebetan, and made his home there.

I have told the history of Buda and his brothers in order to give some
idea of the kind of reputation his family had among the Dyaks. At the
time of Buda’s visit to Banting, the Rev. W. R. Mesney (afterwards
Archdeacon of Sarawak) was living at Banting with the Rev. Walter
Chambers, who became afterwards Bishop of Labuan and Sarawak. Let me give
the account of what happened in Mr. Mesney’s own words:—

“Buda had started from his home to visit different places—_belelang_, as
the Dyaks call it. He had with him a couple of favourite fighting-cocks,
and these he matched against the cocks of the houses he came to in his
wanderings. In this way he came down the Batang Lupar, and reached
Banting, where he knew that a distant connection of his family lived,
and for that house he shaped his course. He made himself known to these
friends, who welcomed him, and were proud of a visit from the son of the
Orang Kaya Pemancha. He put his fighting-cocks into one of the _kurongs_
(baskets) under the _lantai_ (flooring) of the house, and made his pets
safe, and then, as it was just the time for the women to begin their
rice-pounding, he dressed himself up, and marched off, and found his way
up the hill to the Mission House.

“I was just then there alone. Mr. Chambers was gone to visit some of the
out-stations on the Batang Lupar. I was teaching half a dozen small fry
at the table, which stood in what corresponded to the veranda in the old
Mission House at Banting. I was not paying any attention to the door,
nor troubling about who came in, as at that time of the day many young
fellows, who were on the hill for any purpose, were in the habit of
coming in and watching the boys learning. I was busy with a couple of the
youngsters, when I noticed the others all press up close together, and
begin whispering and signalling as Dyaks can, and showing unmistakable
signs of uneasiness. When I saw this, I looked up to see the cause of it,
and there, standing by one of the posts of the house, was a strange man,
very unlike a Balau in dress and appearance, with his hand on the handle
of his _ilang_ (sword); in fact, behaving in quite a different way to the
ordinary Dyak visitor. The boys did not like his manner at all, I could
see, and I heard them whisper “_munsoh_” (enemy) to each other.

“I asked the man to sit down, but this he declined to do, for he
continued standing there with his eyes fixed on us and his hand on the
handle of his sword, from the sheath of which a large bunch of charms
was suspended. I kept my eye on the man, and at the same time went on
teaching. He continued to watch us for some minutes, and the boys got
more and more uncomfortable. When at last the man actually came up to
the table and picked up a piece of paper, I thought the boys would have
all bolted. However, after looking at the paper for a few minutes, he
made some remark, and I again asked him to sit down. This time he did
what I asked him to do, and sat down on the floor just where he had
been standing. I asked him the usual questions, “_Ari ni nuan?_” (“From
where have you come?”) and so on. He soon made some remark about the
paper he had picked up, and we talked to each other. In the midst of our
conversation, he suddenly got up and went to the door, where he proceeded
to take off his sword and the great bunch of charms that he was wearing
at his waist, and placed them very carefully down on the floor just
outside the door, as he could not find anything to hang them up to. He
came back, and this time took his seat on the form at the table. I went
on for a short time longer teaching the boys, and then began talking to
my visitor. He was very much interested, and said that he should like to
hear more; might he come again when the boys were being taught? After he
had gone, I heard who he was, and what he had come to Banting for.

“The next day he made his appearance again, and sat and listened while
the boys had their lesson. The reading was the attraction to him, and he
said that he would like to be able to read; might he stay at Banting,
and come up to the Mission House for lessons? And so it came about that
when Mr. Chambers returned, he walked into the Mission House, and found
me with the redoubtable Buda, seated and quietly learning his A B C! Mr.
Chambers, of course, knew the man well by reputation, and he took me
aside, and asked me if I knew his character, and what he had done in the
past. I could only say that I had gathered from the behaviour of other
people that he was well-known, but that I had had no cause to complain of
his behaviour during the few days he had been at Banting and coming to
the Mission House. When Mr. Chambers found the man was amenable, he was
glad to have him at Banting, and Buda devoted himself to learning, and
was quite a pattern scholar.”

From this account it will be seen that Buda was first induced to take
lessons by seeing Dyak boys being taught at an up-country Mission School.
After a short stay in Banting he went back to his home, but returned
to Banting again for more instruction. He was baptized, and afterwards
worked as Catechist. He accompanied Mr. Chambers to his home in Sebetan,
where he had already taught many of the Dyaks, and thus the Krian and
Sebetan Mission was started. For many years Buda worked as Catechist at
Sebetan under Mr. Perham, afterwards Archdeacon of Singapore.

When returning from one of his visits to Sebetan, Mr. Chambers persuaded
Buda to come back to Banting and bring his wife and child with him, so
that she might get more instruction. While at Banting on that occasion,
Buda proposed to Mr. Mesney that he should go with him to the Saribas,
and see whether they could not influence some of his relatives there in
the Gospel message. Mr. Chambers hesitated for some time, because the
Balaus of Banting distrusted the Saribas Dyaks, who used to be their
enemies. But at last he said that, if Mr. Mesney was bold enough to visit
the Saribas Dyaks, and could get men to accompany him, he might do so.
There was some difficulty in getting the men, but this was overcome, and
Mr. Mesney, accompanied by Buda and some Banting Dyaks, paid a visit to
Saribas. That was the beginning of the Saribas Mission, which at the
present time is the most successful and encouraging of all the missions
in Sarawak.



    Courtship—Discussion where the married couple are to live—The
    fetching of the bride—The wedding ceremony—_Mlah Pinang_—Visit
    of bride to her mother-in-law—Bride’s dress—Bridegroom—Old
    bachelors among the Dyaks—Age of marriage—Monogamy—Prohibitive
    degrees—Dyak view of marriage—Conjugal affection—Mischief-making
    mothers-in-law—Separation and reconciliation—Divorce—Adultery.

The mode of courtship among the Dyaks is peculiar. No courting goes on by
day, but at night, when all is quiet, a young lover creeps to the side of
the curtain of his lady-love, and awakes her. The girls sleep apart from
their parents—sometimes in the same room, but more often in the loft.
He presents her with a roll of _sireh_ leaf, in which is wrapped the
betel-nut ingredients the Dyaks love to chew.

If, when awakened, the girl accepts the betel-nut roll which the young
man presents her, and puts it in her mouth, it is a sign that his visit
is acceptable, and that he may stay and speak to her. If, on the other
hand, she says, “Please blow up the fire,” or “Be good enough to light
the lamp” (which is usually a bamboo filled with resin), it shows that
she will have nothing to say to him, and he recognizes the usual form of
dismissal and goes away.

If the lover’s visit be acceptable to her, they chew _sireh_ and
betel-nut, a plentiful supply of which the man brings with him, and make
arrangements about the future.

This nocturnal visiting goes on for some weeks. If the parents of the
girl think the match a suitable one, the young people are permitted to
see each other very often. On the other hand, if the young man does not
find favour with them, they soon let him know that his visits are not
desired. They do not allow their daughter to see him alone, and the
matter goes no farther.

This nightly courtship is, in fact, the only way a man and woman can
become acquainted with each other, for such a thing as privacy during the
day is quite unknown in a Dyak house. If the girl be pleased with her
lover, he remains with her until close upon daybreak, when he leaves with
her some article as a pledge of his honour, such as a bead necklace, or
ring, or a headkerchief, or anything else which he may have about him.
This act of leaving some gift with the girl is considered as a betrothal
between the two parties, and the man who refuses to marry the girl after
doing so is considered guilty of breach of promise of marriage, and
liable, according to Dyak law, to a fine.

I have often spoken to older Dyaks about the matter, and have been told
by them that these nocturnal visits very seldom result in immorality.
The girl who is not careful how she behaves very soon gets a bad name
among the young men, and all her chances of securing a husband are lost.
And it is a fact that, considering the population, there are not many
illegitimate children among the Dyaks.

When the young couple have decided the question of the future to their
mutual satisfaction, the next step in the proceedings is for the man to
make known his wishes to his own parents, and then a visit is paid by the
man’s relatives and friends to the girl’s parents to request formally
the hand of their daughter in marriage. This consent is seldom refused,
because as a rule the parents of the girl approve of her choice, or they
would not have allowed her to receive visits from the man.

There is a great deal of discussion, sometimes lasting for days, as to
where the married couple are to live after the wedding ceremony. The wife
does not always leave her home to go and live with her husband. As often
as not the man takes up his abode in the house of his wife’s relations.
Many matters are taken into consideration in deciding where they are
to live. If the daughter be an only child, her parents generally make
it a condition of marriage, that the son-in-law should come and live
with them, and work for them, but where the girl has many brothers and
sisters, and the man has not, she is allowed to go and live in his house.
Then, again, the question of social standing comes in, and if a girl
marries beneath her she refuses to go to the house of her husband, and
expects him to come to her.

When everything has been satisfactorily arranged, and the consent of
the girl’s parents has been obtained, a day is fixed for the marriage

The day before the wedding is spent by the bridegroom in obtaining a
plentiful supply of betel-nut, _sireh_ leaf (a species of pepper), lime,
gambier, etc.—all necessary concomitants for the guests to chew during
the proceedings connected with the marriage ceremony.

The wedding may take place either at the house of the bride, or else at
that of the bridegroom. Generally it is held in the house in which the
newly married couple do not intend to reside; that is, if it be decided
that the newly married wife should settle in her husband’s house, then
the wedding will take place at her home. If, on the other hand, the
relatives decide that the husband is to live in the home of his wife,
then the wedding takes place at the house of his parents.

The principal part of the ceremony among the Sea Dyaks is the fetching
of the bride from her father’s to the bridegroom’s house. The women-folk
of his village set out in a boat, gaily decorated with an awning of
parti-coloured sheets, and with streamers and flags flying, to an
accompaniment of gongs and drums, and musical instruments, to fetch the
bride to her future husband’s house.

When the other party arrive at the landing-stage of the house at which
the wedding is to take place, they walk up to the house—a gaily-dressed
crowd—and sit down in the open veranda, to talk over the future prospects
of the young couple, chewing betel-nut and _sireh_ all the time. A
portion of these chewing ingredients are carefully set aside to be used
later on. The Dyak, with his great love for divination, cannot allow such
an occasion to pass without making some attempt to penetrate into the
secrets of the future.

The company sit down in the long common room of the Dyak house, and then
are brought forward the betel-nut, _sireh_, etc., specially set aside for
the ceremony. A betel-nut is split into seven pieces by a man supposed
to be lucky in matrimonial matters, and these, together with the other
ingredients of the betel-nut mixture, are all put in a little basket,
which is bound together with red cloth and laid for a short time upon the
open platform adjoining the house.

The master of the ceremonies, who splits the betel-nut, generally
an older man of some standing, then makes to the assembled guests
the declaration that if either party should desert the other without
sufficient reason, the offending party shall be fined to such an amount
as has been already agreed upon.

The basket containing the split pieces of betel-nut is then brought
in and uncovered, and the contents examined to ascertain the will of
the gods. Should the pieces of betel-nut by some mystic power increase
in number, the marriage will be an unusually happy one; but should
they decrease it is a bad omen, and the marriage must be postponed, or
relinquished altogether. But as a matter of fact, they neither increase
nor decrease, and this is interpreted to mean that the wedding is one
upon which the spirits have pronounced neither a good nor a bad verdict.

This action gives the name to the marriage ceremony. The Dyaks call
marriage _Mlah Pinang_—“splitting the betel-nut.”

The contents of the little basket used to discover the will of the higher
powers are chewed just as other _pinang_ and _sireh_, and the marriage
ceremony is over; the young couple are lawfully man and wife.

The married couple stay for three days in the house which is to be their
future home. On the fourth day a visit is paid, lasting for three days,
to the family with whom the alliance has been made. Then the young couple
return to settle down in their new home.

[Illustration: A DYAK WEDDING

The bride is seated in the middle with a large filigree silver comb in
her hair. The bridegroom is seated on her right, and her mother on her
left. The old man on the right is the “Master of Ceremonies.” Before him,
covered with a native cloth, is the basket containing the pieces of split
betel-nut, which are examined to see if the marriage will be a happy

On the occasion of the first visit of the bride to the house of her
husband, she must not enter her mother-in-law’s room, but must be led in
either by that much dreaded relative herself, or by some woman deputed
by her to perform that office. The bride, therefore, goes into the room
of some female friend living in the house, and there awaits the coming of
her mother-in-law; the husband meanwhile sits down on a mat in the open
veranda outside his mother’s room.

The lady, having ascertained the whereabouts of her daughter-in-law, goes
and fetches her, and brings her into the room. She bids her sit down on a
mat spread for the purpose. Then she goes out to her son in the veranda,
and leads him in, and tells him to sit by his wife’s side. When they
are seated side by side, the mother waves a live fowl over her son and
daughter-in-law with a hastily muttered invocation for future health and

The respect that Dyaks are required to pay to the father-in-law and
mother-in-law is far greater than they have to pay to their own parents.

It is considered a terrible crime for a man to mention the names of his
wife’s parents, and he dare not disobey their commands. A young man
marrying an only child and living with her parents has generally a hard
time of it, because he has to give way in everything to the wishes of his
wife’s parents. In the same way a girl who marries an only son, and lives
with his parents, has often an unhappy time, being continually ordered
about and scolded by her mother-in-law. I have known cases where husband
and wife have separated simply because the mother-in-law has made the
life of the wife unbearable.

For the wedding, and for the subsequent visit which the bride pays to her
husband’s home, she decks herself out in all the finery she possesses
or can borrow from her friends. Her wedding-dress consists of a short
petticoat of Dyak woven cloth which reaches to her knees. Along the
bottom edge of this there are sewed several rows of tinsel and of silver
coins, below which probably hang some rows of hawk-bells, which make a
tinkling sound as she moves. Round her waist are several coils of brass
or silver chain, and two or three belts made of dollars or other silver
coins linked together.

From her hips upwards, as far as her armpits, she wears a corset formed
by threading upon split cane a great number of small brass rings,
arranged so closely together as completely to hide the cane. To this
corset may be fixed two or three bands of silver coins. Her armlets of
brass or silver extend as far up as her elbow. As many rings as she
possesses are on her fingers, and she wears necklaces of small beads,
worked in very beautiful patterns, and finished off with a tassel of
beads, or else a large number of big silver or brass buttons strung
together round her neck. Her ears are decorated with filigreed studs of
silver gilt, with a setting of scarlet cloth behind the filigree work to
show them off.

In her hair is a towering comb of silver filigree work, to which are
attached a number of silver spangles, which glitter with every movement
of her head. She wears her hair in a knot into which are stuck a number
of large brass hair-pins decorated with beads and little tags of red
and yellow and white cloth. She possesses a bright-coloured jacket of
Dyak woven cloth; but she does not wear it; it is slung over her right

After this detailed description of the bride’s dress, it is disappointing
to learn that the bridegroom takes no special pains to ornament his
person. The men wear a great deal of finery when they attend a feast, or
when they go out on the warpath, but on the occasion of his wedding the
bridegroom takes no extra trouble about his apparel.

I have been present at a Dyak wedding more than once, and what struck
me most was the perfunctory manner in which everything was done. No one
seemed to listen much to what the Master of Ceremonies had to say; all
sat round talking and laughing as the mood suited them. The examining of
the basket containing the pieces of split betel-nut was not awaited with
any anxiety. Everything seemed to be done because it was the custom, and
for no other reason.

Nearly every Sea Dyak is married, and it is very unusual to meet a
bachelor above the age of twenty-five. The exception to this is among the
Skrang Dyaks, among whom one often sees an unmarried man over forty years
of age. The expression _Bujang Skrang_—“a Skrang bachelor”—means an old

A man rarely marries a woman who has an illegitimate child. But children
are very much desired, and the Dyaks have a great horror of being
childless. Intercourse often takes place between those who have been
betrothed, but not formally married, simply to ascertain if the marriage
will be fruitful. At the first signs of the desired result the marriage
ceremony takes place.

Both sexes marry at an early age. The young men marry when about eighteen
to twenty years of age, and the girls at sixteen or seventeen, though
sometimes marriage is postponed till later. They frequently separate by
mutual consent, and nothing is thought of it if the couple be childless;
but it is very seldom that anything of the kind occurs if there are

Among the Dyaks no man has more than one wife. Polygamy is considered
very displeasing to the gods, and if a man does take to himself two
wives, the other people of the village compel him to give one up, and
sacrifices are offered to the gods and spirits to avert any evil effects
upon the community for the crime.

The Dyaks are very particular as to their prohibitive degrees, and are
opposed to the marriage of relatives. The prohibitive degrees are much
the same as among Christians.

The Dyak men view marriage as an arrangement for the mutual convenience
of both parties in order to obtain children. Though there is often a
great deal of love between husband and wife, still, when the marriage is
childless, the Dyak idea is that the proper thing to do is to separate.
I have known many childless couples who have continued to live together,
and have perhaps adopted a child; but they have done so in spite of all
that has been said to them and in opposition to the wishes of their
friends. I have often heard Dyaks say: “When you plant a fruit-tree you
expect it to bear fruit, and when you marry you expect your wife to bear

The Dyak women generally regard marriage as a means of obtaining a man
to work for them. A woman will often separate from her husband simply
because he is lazy, and will not do his fair share of the work. There is
a certain division of labour among Dyaks, and there are some kinds of
work which it is usual for the man to do, and other work which falls to
the share of the woman. It is no unusual thing to hear a woman who wishes
to be divorced from a lazy husband say: “I married because I wanted a man
to work for me; but if I have to do the man’s work as well as my own, as
I have to with a husband like mine, I might just as well be unmarried.”


She is seated on a mat, in a characteristic attitude, and is making yarn
out of the cotton, using a primitive spinning-wheel.]

It must not be supposed from what has been said that conjugal affection
is rare among the Dyaks. On the contrary, a great deal of it exists,
and the men very often love their wives and think a great deal of their
opinion. They will not decide upon any important course of action without
consulting them. Where there are children, the husbands very often help
their wives in doing more than their share of the man’s work, and I have
often seen the men nursing and fondling their naked babies when the
mothers were busy.

Dyaks who have come in contact with civilization, and who have been to
school themselves, see the advantages of being educated, and I know of
a Dyak in Saribas who married a young wife and sent her to the Society
for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts Girls’ School in the
capital of Sarawak (Kuching) for two years to be taught before she came
to live with him in his Dyak home.

As has been mentioned before, the parents of a woman often tyrannize over
a son-in-law who takes up his abode with them. If the woman herself side
with her parents, it is often very unpleasant for the husband. I remember
talking over this matter with some Dyaks at Sebetan, and telling them
that I thought, as a general rule, it was better for husband and wife
to settle between themselves any differences they might have, without
interference from others, and I mentioned certain cases of divorce which,
I said, I felt sure would not have come about except for the interference
of the mothers-in-law, who behaved foolishly and caused mischief. Then I
turned round to one of the men present, and said:—

“You have lived for many years with your wife’s relatives, and you seem
to be happy enough. You are one of the few who have had no differences
with the relatives of their wives, and live happily in spite of your
mother-in-law’s presence in your house. Is it not so?”

“Yes,” he said, “we do get on very well now, but it was not always so.
When I was first married, her parents were always taking her side against
me, and the result was that I was ordered about so much, and found fault
with so often, that I was beginning to get sick of it. However, matters
soon came to a climax. One day my wife was pounding paddy, and, turning
to me, she said: ‘This _lesong_ (wooden mortar) is not a nice one; will
you make me another?’ I said I would, and I went to the jungle, cut down
a tree, and made a new wooden mortar, and carried it home. She did not
like it. It was, in her opinion, no better than the other.”

(I may mention here that the Dyak women like a mortar that makes a great
deal of noise when paddy is pounded in it to rid it of the husk. Probably
the only fault to be found with the mortar was that it did not make
enough noise when in use to satisfy his wife.)

“I was told,” the man continued, “to make another _lesong_ for my wife.
This I obediently did, but I did not succeed in pleasing her with my
second attempt any better than I did with my first. I was told to go into
the jungle and make her a third mortar. This I refused to do. I said that
evidently I could not make a wooden mortar to her satisfaction, and the
best thing to do was for us to get someone else to make one, and pay him
for it. She was very angry at my refusal, and said that when she married
she did not expect to have to buy things which other husbands made for
their wives.

[Illustration: A DYAK BRIDE

She wears a silver filigree comb in her hair and a necklace of brass or
silver buttons. Round her body is the brass corset worn by the women and
three belts of silver coins. She has bangles on her wrists and earrings
in her ears. Her jacket is slung over her right shoulder.]

[Illustration: A DYAK GIRL

Round her body is the brass corset the women wear, and she has a necklace
made of large buttons of brass or silver.]

“In all this,” he said, “my wife was backed up by her mother, who, in
many ways, had been making mischief, and was often criticizing my work.
I said little, but when she called me the ‘dead body of a man’ (_bangkai
orang_) it was more than I could stand, and when she went on to say that
I might just as well return to my people if I was not going to work, I
packed up my clothes and returned to my parents.

“After a few days my mother-in-law came to the house of my parents to
ask me to return with her. I refused to do so, because, I said, I was
not sure what sort of reception I should get from my wife. She said
that she had been sent by my wife, and that I need not fear that there
would be any unpleasantness. Still I refused to return, and I told my
mother-in-law that I would not return unless my wife came herself to ask

(I may remark that it is a very unusual thing for a man to speak in this
way to his mother-in-law. She is treated with so much respect that it is
very seldom a Dyak dares to oppose her wishes.)

“My mother-in-law returned to her house, and a few days after she and my
wife came to fetch me. I went back with them, and ever since I have had
no serious trouble either with my wife or mother-in-law.”

I have already said that until children are born a Dyak husband and wife
often separate from each other for very trivial reasons. After the birth
of children there is seldom a divorce except for adultery, and even then
very often the friends and relatives try hard—sometimes successfully—to
persuade the husband and wife to live together again for the sake of the
children. This lax view that Dyaks have of the marriage tie causes them
very often to marry without any serious consideration. Where divorce is
easy it naturally follows that marriage ceases to be a serious matter,
which ought not to be “taken in hand unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly,”
as the marriage service has it.

I remember one day holding a service at a little chapel in a village in
Saribas, and giving an address on marriage, and trying to explain to
my small congregation of Dyaks the Christian view of it. I said that
marriage ought to be a life-long tie, that the Dyak custom of husband and
wife separating for any trivial cause was a bad one, and that Christians,
when married, should live together “for better for worse” till death
parted them. An old Dyak present interrupted me by asking: “What if one
of them commits adultery?”

I went on to say that adultery was the only reason which Christ said
justified a divorce.

I mention this little incident because I think it shows in an indirect
way that deep down in the Dyak heart there is a feeling that adultery is
a terrible crime, far worse than any other, and that where there has been
adultery it is impossible for husband and wife to live happily together.



    Life beyond the grave—Wailings—Rice strewn on the dead man’s
    chest—The professional wailer—Feeding the dead—Carrying the
    dead—The grave—Articles buried with the dead—_Baiya_—Fire lit
    at sunset—The _ulit_, or mourning—_Pana_, or offering to the
    dead—The wailer’s song—_Sumping_—Periodical _Sabak_—Feast in
    honour of the dead—_Gawai Antu_—The dead not forgotten—Other
    methods of disposing of the dead besides burial—Dyak ideas of a
    future life.

Death for the Dyak does not mean the end of all. He has a belief in a
life beyond the grave—a life different indeed from his existence in
the flesh, with all its cares and anxieties, a life with little of the
spiritual about it, but still, for all that, life, and not annihilation.
The soul survives burial, and in Hades (_Sabayan_) lives anew much the
same life as he does on earth, building houses and sowing and planting as
do his friends and relatives in this world. He is able to watch those on
earth, and can help them when required, and so his aid is often asked for
in time of need. And in the Sea Dyak burial rites there are seen glimpses
of a belief in the communion between those on earth and those who have
crossed the River of Death, such as we would expect to find only among
people of a higher civilization and a higher education.

From that distant unknown land of Death the spirits of the dead
relatives and friends of the dying man come in a long boat, so the Dyaks
say, to take his soul away. For a long time there is a struggle between
those on earth trying to keep him back and the unseen spirits urging him
to join them. Over and over again when the man loses consciousness there
are distracted cries from those around of “_Pulai! Pulai!_”—“Come back!
Come back!”

The witch-doctors, who are often called in, try by their incantations to
frighten away the spirits.

Immediately the breath has left the body, the female relatives begin
loud and melancholy wailings. They wash the corpse and get it ready for
burial. All the able-bodied men of the village turn out to help the
bereaved family, as in a hot climate the burial has to take place within
twenty-four hours.

Rice is strewn on the dead man’s chest. This is a propitiation to the
gods for any wrong he may have done while alive. According to Dyak
ideas, death is the punishment for some sin, and for that sin some
sacrifice must be made, or the living may also suffer for it. By sin
is meant either the doing of any of the thousand and one things which
a Dyak considers forbidden by the gods, or the disregarding of the
warnings of birds or dreams. While this sin-offering is being made,
others collect his belongings—his clothes, his implements of work, his
shield, his spear—all of which are to be buried with him, and which he
is supposed to make use of in the other world. The corpse is dressed in
its best garments, and is borne into the great open veranda or common
hall (_ruai_), and covered with a Dyak sheet. Here he is surrounded by
the friends and relatives, to be mourned over. Sometimes a professional
wailer sits on a swing near the head of the corpse and sings her song of
mourning. She calls upon the different parts of the house, beginning at
the roof-ridge and proceeding downwards, and blames them for not keeping
back the soul of the dead man. Then in highly figurative language she
speaks of the journey to Hades, and asks the spirits to guide his soul in
the right direction, so that he may not lose his way.

While the body is laid out in the public part of the house none may step
over the corpse. There is no special reason against this except the
general belief that if such a thing were done the dead man would not live
happily in Hades, but would continually visit his former home and trouble
the living.

At sunset a fire is lit by the side of the corpse. All through the long
hours of the night the sad watchers sit around, and the loud sustained
cry of the professional wailer mingles with the sobs and spasmodic
utterances of those who feel most the loss of the dead man.

Early on the following morning food is given him to strengthen him for
that long journey to Hades, and a little cotton-wool is placed as a
pillow for his head. The food is given to the dead in a curious manner.
Rice is dashed into his mouth, and the earthen cooking-pot is then broken
in pieces—it may not be used for the living, having once been used for
the dead. The pillow of cotton-wool is about the size of a pigeon’s egg,
and, as far as can be gathered from the Dyaks, it in some way insures the
comfort of the dead man in the other world.

Then the body, wrapped in mats and covered over with a light framework of
wood, is carried on the shoulders of four men. As they descend the ladder
ashes from the fire burnt near the corpse are thrown after them by the
people who are left in the house. This is done in order that the dead
man may not know his way back to the house, and may thus be unable to
trouble his friends afterwards. The women are not permitted to accompany
the body to its burial, so they raise a dismal wail as the body is
carried away from the house.

The body is either taken by boat or carried on foot to the jungle, where
a tree is to be cut down for the coffin. When the spot is reached a halt
is made. A fowl is killed, and the blood is collected in a cup and mixed
with a little water. Each person present is touched with the blood, to
propitiate the gods of the infernal world and to secure immunity from any
evil consequences to the persons engaged in the funeral rites. They now
set to work to make the coffin. A tree is felled, and the required length
cut off. This is split in two, and each half is hollowed out. The corpse
is then placed in this rude coffin, the two parts of which are now firmly
lashed together with cane.

The crowd then proceed either on foot or by boat to the place of burial.
The burial-ground, or _pendam_, is generally on the side of a hill. The
trees are not cut down, and there is nothing to distinguish the _pendam_
from ordinary jungle. The Dyaks regard a cemetery with superstitious
terror as the abode of spirits, and never go to it except to bury their
dead, and when they do this they do not stay longer than they can help,
but hurry away lest they should meet some spirit from the other world.
The consequence is that the place is wild and uncared for. The graves,
being shallow and not fenced round, are often dug up by wild pigs or
bears, and bones and skulls strew the ground.


This shows the carved wooden erections put over some of the graves.
The trees are generally left standing in a Dyak cemetery, and a little
distance from the river bank it is covered with jungle growth.]


He is imitating the action of a man creeping through the jungle, sword in
hand, to attack the enemy. The man on the right is playing a Dyak musical
instrument called the _Engkrurai_.]

When they reach the spot where the grave is to be, some rice is scattered
on the ground. This rice is the price paid to _Pulang Gana_, the spirit
who owns the land, for the grave. Then a fowl is killed, and the blood
sprinkled on the ground. These offerings are made to prevent the spirits
from hurting any of those who take part in digging the grave.

The graves are rarely more than three feet deep. The Dyaks dare not step
into the grave to deepen it, because, according to their superstitious
ideas, anyone who does such a thing will die a violent death. They use no
spade or hoe to turn up the earth, but cut the soil with their choppers,
and throw up the mould with their hands. They dig into it as far as their
arms will reach and no farther.

The corpse is lowered into the grave hurriedly, and all present shout.
They cry to the dead man, but why they do so or what advantage is gained
by doing so is not clear. The reason why the body is hurriedly buried is
the fear lest the cry of some sacred bird may be heard, and the burial
of the man become unpropitious; the less time they take in putting the
corpse into the grave the less chance there is of this.

With the corpse are put for use in the next world various articles of
clothing, personal ornaments, weapons of warfare, implements for farm
work, and even instruments of music, according to the sex and natural
proclivities of the dead. Some of these things belonged to the departed;
others are given by friends as tokens of affection. Rice, tobacco, and
betel-nut are also cast into the grave, as these things may be needed
in the other world. It used to be the custom to place money, gold and
silver ornaments, and brass utensils in the grave, but these articles
were so often stolen that, nowadays, it is the practice to break in
pieces all the utensils placed in the grave. Jars and brass gongs are
not buried with the corpse, but placed on the grave. When all this has
been done, the grave is fenced round, and food and drink are placed in
the enclosure, and at either end something is put to indicate the sex and
favourite occupation of the deceased. If the grave be that of a warrior,
it is roofed and decorated with streamers, and such of his weapons as are
not buried with him are hung about, and the ground around is palisaded
and spiked. The grave of the hunter is distinguished by his blow-pipe and
quiver, together with the trophies of the chase—stags’ antlers and boars’
tusks. Some article of feminine attire or work—spindles or petticoats, or
waist-rings or water-gourds—indicate the graves of women. The graves of
the rich have valuable jars or gongs, which are secured in their places
by having a stake driven through them and thus rendered worthless.

A lighted torch is always carried to a funeral, and when the body is
buried it is extinguished at the grave.

The articles which are buried with the dead person or put upon the grave
are called _baiya_. They are for the use of the spirit in the other
world. The Dyaks argue that though the articles placed on the grave
remain there, still the spirit of these articles are of use to the soul
in Hades, and so their gifts are not wasted.

Those of the mourners who leave the grave last plant sharpened stakes in
the ground, so that the spirit of the dead man may not follow them back
to the Dyak house, the stakes planted in the ground being supposed to
prevent his return.

At sunset on the day of death, a fire is lit at the landing-place on
the bank of the river near the house of the dead man. This fire is kept
burning all night. For three or four evenings after death they light
a fire either at the landing-place or somewhere outside the house.
This is for the use of the departed, for in Hades fire is not to be
procured without paying for it, and if the dead find any difficulty about
obtaining fire, they can come and fetch it from the fire lit by their
earthly friends. This idea does not seem consistent with the many things
done to prevent the soul of the dead man finding his way back to his
earthly home.

When there is a death among the Dyaks, none of the inmates of the house
do any farm work on the day of the funeral. In the case of the death of a
Chief, they refrain from work for three days or even more.

When anyone dies, the _ulit_, or mourning, has to be observed by the
immediate relatives of the deceased, and continues until the feast in
honour of the dead (_Gawai Antu_) is held. All the finery and bright
articles of apparel belonging to the relatives are tied up in a bundle
and put away. At the _Gawai Antu_ the string which binds this bundle
together is cut by the headman of the house, and they may use their
bright garments again. The mourning (_ulit_) includes many other
restrictions beside the prohibition of ornaments and bright-coloured
clothing. There must be no striking of gongs or drums or dancing or
merrymaking in the house. In the old days the mourning could not end
until one of the relatives managed to secure a human head.

On the third day an observance called _Pana_ is made. A plate containing
rice and other eatables, as well as a Dyak chopper, an axe, and a cup,
are taken by several of the neighbours to the room of the dead person.
They go to tell the mourners to weep no more, and to give the dead man
food. They enter the room, and one of them—generally an old man of
some standing—pushes open the window with the chopper, and the offering
of food is thrown out for the benefit of the dead man and his spirit
companions. Up to this time the near relatives of the dead man live in
strict seclusion in their room, but after it they may come out to the
public part of the house and return to their usual occupations. But the
_ulit_, or mourning, is still observed, and does not come to an end till
the feast in honour of the dead (_Gawai Antu_) is held.

Among tribes where professional wailers exist it is not enough to throw
the offering of food out of the window at the back of the house. The
wailer must help to send that food to Hades. She sings her incantation
and calls upon the adjutant bird to convey the articles of food and the
tears and sobs of the relatives to the other world. The bird, so sings
the wailer, speeds on its way, and arrives at the Country of the Dead.
There the spirits are supposed to see the visitant, and inquire where
it comes from and what is the object of its journey. “Do you come to
look at the widows? We have thirty-and-one; but only one is handsome.
Do you come to seek after maidens? We have thirty-and-three; but only
one is beautiful.” “No,” says the bird, “we have many widows and maidens
in the land of the living; and they are all beautiful and admired of
men.” They ask as they see what it carries: “What is that you have
brought with you so securely covered up?” “Bring a vessel, and I will
pour the contents of my burden into it.” A large vessel is brought, the
crowd stand expectant around, and the bird pours out the offering of
food, and lo! the eatables, as well as the tears and sobs of the living
which accompany them, have become gold and silver and precious stones
wondrously beautiful. But the inhabitants of Hades cannot understand what
it all means, and quarrel among themselves. Then an old learned woman,
who has lived in Hades very many years, speaks. She bids them be silent
and listen to her, and she explains that the bird has come from the land
of the living with presents for them from their earthly friends.

Until this _Pana_ is made, the Dyaks say the soul of the dead man is
unsettled. It has not quite left this world, and Hades will not receive
it or give it food and drink. But after this observance it is received
and welcomed as a regular denizen of the spirit world.

There is another observance called _Sumping_, which is sometimes carried
out at a varying period after death. The Dyaks bring the symbols and
trophies of a head-hunting raid and place them in the middle of the
public hall of the house. The wailer sings her incantation, and procures
the services of the Spirit of the Winds to convey them to the dead, whose
abode, until now full of discomfort and darkness, becomes at sight of
these trophies filled with light. The spirits rejoice at the thought that
their relatives have revenged upon others their own death.

This observance, according to ancient custom, could not be held until the
head of an enemy had been obtained. It brings out the darker and fiercer
side of the Dyak nature. They would fight with Death if they could, and
rescue their dead friends from his clutches. But as they cannot do this,
they rejoice in taking vengeance upon the living and killing someone,
so that their relatives in Hades may have the satisfaction of saying:
“My death has been avenged. A life has been paid for my life.” In these
days, when the Dyaks live under a strong and just Government, it is
very seldom that this observance can be carried out according to ancient
custom; now they have either to dispense with the newly-procured human
head or omit the observance altogether.

The dead man is not forgotten. Periodical mournings (_sabak_) at
intervals of two or three months are held in his memory, and the
professional wailer calls on the dead man and weeps over him. The
relatives work themselves up into a frenzy of sorrow on these occasions,
and many of them are often seen weeping sadly. The Dyaks believe that the
dead hear their cries, and that a bond of sympathy unites them with those
on earth.

A year or two after the death the _Gawai Antu_ is held. This feast is
held in honour of all those that have died since the last _Gawai Antu_
was held. Small, curiously-shaped baskets, supposed to represent the
different implements a man or woman uses in work when alive, are made and
placed on the different graves. Thus they furnish the dead with the means
of livelihood in Hades. This feast ends all mourning for the dead, and
after it has been held there are no more periodical mournings.

But even after all mourning has ceased the Dyak still believes that his
dead friends and relatives live and visit the earth. Before going forth
on an expedition against the enemy, the dead are invoked, and are begged
to help their friends on earth, so that they may be successful against
their foes. In times of peril and of need the dead are called upon; and
on the hilltops or in the solitudes of the jungle a man often goes by
himself and spends the night in the hope that the spirit of some dead
relative may visit him, and in a dream tell him of some charm by means of
which he may overcome difficulties and become rich and great.

Burial is the usual, but not the only, mode of disposing of the dead.
_Manangs_, or witch-doctors, are never buried, but their coffins are hung
up in the cemetery. Among some tribes a young child dying before he has
any teeth is put in a jar instead of a coffin, and this is tied to the
branch of some tree in the burial-ground.

The Dyak believes in a future life, but it is simply a prolongation of
the present state of things in a new sphere. Even the journey from this
world to the land of spirits is much like the journey from one part
of the country to another. The traveller must be provided with food
and money for his journey, which may take a longer or a shorter time,
dependent to a great extent on the liberality of his friends here on
earth and to the kindness of those whose houses he passes in his journey
to the spirit world.

If the dead man has been able while in this terrestrial sphere to provide
for himself assistance in the world of spirits, then his life in the
other world will be an easy one. The spirits of the enemies whose heads
he has taken become his slaves in the other world, and the man who has
succeeded in killing many enemies lives in Hades a life of ease.

I have given the general belief among the Sea Dyaks about the future
existence. But occasionally other conceptions are met with. The idea of
metempsychosis is not unknown, and I have met a Dyak who treated a snake
with the greatest kindness, because he said it had been revealed to him
in a dream that the spirit of his grandfather dwelt in that snake.

Some Dyaks speak of a series of spirit worlds through which their souls
must pass before they become finally extinct. Some Dyaks say they have to
die three times; others say seven times; but all seem to agree in the
idea that after these successive dyings they practically cease to exist,
and are absorbed into air and fog. They do not believe in an endless
life, because perhaps they lack the mental capacity to conceive of such a



    Travelling by boat—Paddles v. oars—Dangers—Tidal
    bores—Sandbanks—_Langan_—Up-river travelling—Poling—Camping
    out at night—Travelling on foot—Jungle paths—Scenery—Wild
    animals—The _Orang-utan_—Vegetation.

Most of the Sea Dyaks live on the banks of the rivers, so that travelling
is usually done by boat. The lower reaches of the river have very
swift tides, against which it is impossible to row or paddle; so, when
travelling up-river, the flood-tide is taken advantage of, and the boat
either anchors or is tied to the bank during the ebb, and _vice versâ_.
Some of the boats used by the Dyaks are roomy and well built. The Balaus
are very good boat-builders, and their boats are very well made and swift.

The question is sometimes raised as to whether oars or paddles propel a
boat best. If the number of boatmen be taken into consideration, then
oars certainly drive a boat along much faster than paddles. Four oars
would be sufficient for a boat thirty or forty feet long, but for a boat
of that length at least twenty paddles would be needed to make it travel
at any pace.

The Dyaks sit in their boats on a rough matting made of split bamboo
tied together with cane. For shelter against the sun and rain they have
an awning made of palm-leaves (_kadjang_). This is tied on to a rough
framework of wood fixed on the boat, and is an excellent protection
against the weather.

There are many dangers to be guarded against when travelling by boat in
Borneo. Many rivers have a large tidal bore during the spring-tides,
and if the boat be in some narrow part of the river when it meets the
tidal bore it is likely to be swamped. The safest course is to wait for
the tidal bore in some broad part of the river, where it is not at all

There are also many sand-banks, and though Dyak boats draw little water,
still these have to be guarded against when the tide is very swift. I
have known cases where a boat has struck against a sand-bank and been
rolled over and over by the swift tide, and lives lost.

[Illustration: BOAT-TRAVELLING

A boat being dragged through the rapids. The boatmen are wading in the
water and dragging it along.]

In certain parts of the lower reaches of the large Bornean rivers,
where large sand-banks are to be found, the swift incoming spring-tide
makes, soon after it has covered the sand-bank, a peculiar dangerous
motion of the water, called by the natives _langan_. We all know the
bubbling appearance of boiling water in an open pot, and if we picture
to ourselves that kind of thing on a very large scale, it will give a
good idea of what the _langan_ is like. It does not last long in any
particular part of the river, because, as soon as the water has risen and
is deeper, the _langan_ disappears. It is most dangerous. The peculiar
motion of the water is so irregular and uncertain that small boats are
easily swamped, and many lives have been lost owing to this _langan_.
The part of the Batang Lupar near the village of Rawan is particularly
dangerous from this cause. I have known of many cases of a Dyak boat
being swamped by the _langan_ there, and not a single person being saved.
Though the Dyaks are good swimmers, the boat is rolled over by the swift
current, and they have no chance of saving themselves. When I have had
to travel past Rawan during the spring-tides when there is most danger,
if the tide has only just made, I have thought it wisest not to run any
risks, and have told my boatmen to fasten the boat to the bank, and wait
for ten minutes, and not to proceed till there was no danger of being
swamped by the terrible _langan_.

In the rapids up the rivers travelling is done in a “dug-out,” because
that draws little water. The boat has a long cane or creeper tied to the
bows, and when it has to be pulled over the rapids some of the men drag
at this, while the others remain in the boat and work with their poles
or small paddles. The skill with which the Dyaks pole the boat along, as
they stand up in it, is beautiful to see. With a skilful turn of the pole
they will guide the boat past some huge boulder which it seems impossible
to avoid. The sensation to one sitting in a boat going over the rapids,
either up or down stream, is not particularly pleasant. The boat is
bumped and jerked about, and the water often splashes in. At times the
boat will be propelled by poles; then, when the water is too shallow, the
men jump out and walk by the side, pulling the boat along. When they get
to deeper water, they jump in again.

The Dyaks are most excellent companions when travelling has to be done.
They are hard-working and good-tempered, and most resourceful. When one
is travelling in small “dug-outs” in the upper reaches of the river, it
often happens that he has to spend some nights on the journey. If any
Dyak house be near, the travellers make for it, knowing well that the
hospitable inmates will gladly give them shelter. But sometimes they
have to camp out on the river-bank. It is quite remarkable how well the
Dyaks manage under such circumstances. I have always admired the way in
which in a very short time wood and creepers are got from the jungle,
and a little hut put up for me on a cleared spot on the river-bank. The
creepers are used for tying the wood together; the _kadjang_ from the
boat is fastened up for the roof of the little hut; a flooring, two or
three feet off the ground, is made of laths of wood tied together with
creepers; my small cork boat mattress and curtain are fixed up; and
in about an hour’s time I am safely lodged for the night. The Dyaks
themselves are very hardy. They will wrap themselves up in their _puah_,
or sheet, and sleep in the open air, sometimes on mats; but if there are
no mats, they will make for themselves a bed of leaves on the ground, and
think it no great hardship to sleep on this.

When travelling has to be done on foot, one has to walk on a Dyak jungle
path, which consists of the trunks of the giants of the forest placed in
a line. No attempt is made to hew the round trunks into an even upper
surface, so one must walk carefully lest he slip off; for in some parts
the bark on these tree-trunks is rotten, and in others there is a growth
of wet slippery moss. Over the jungle streams there are Dyak bridges
made, like the path, of the trunk of a tree, sometimes with a light
hand-rail tied to it, sometimes not.

I have often travelled on foot through the jungle, accompanied by Dyaks
carrying my baggage. We have walked in single file on these trunks of
trees, and have listened to the weird jungle sounds—the creaking of
giant trees, the strange cries of insects, or birds, or monkeys. And
sometimes in the gathering darkness, when the storm-clouds have hurried
overhead and the winds shrieked through the tree-tops in fierce discord,
ruthlessly twanging the harp-strings of Nature, I have understood why
it is that the Dyaks believe that the lone forests are inhabited by the
spirits of the wind and the rivers, of the mountains and the trees.

No one can adequately realize the Equatorial Bornean jungle until he sees
it in all its wonder—the heated steamy stillness broken by weird sounds,
the colossal trees, the birds with brilliant plumage, and the infinite
variety of monkeys among the branches, sitting, hanging by hands or
tails, leaping, grimacing, jabbering, as they see the strange sight of
human beings invading their domains.

What are the wild animals that the traveller is likely to meet as he
walks through the jungle? The animal life of Borneo is akin to that
of Sumatra or Java, but with certain differences. Borneo is free from
tigers, and this is fortunate, for travelling through the forests would
be dangerous indeed if tigers were likely to be encountered. The only
wild animals to be met with are the small and comparatively harmless
tree-tiger, and the small brown honey-bear, but neither of them is much
feared. There are, of course, ferocious crocodiles in the rivers, and
many varieties of snakes, varying in size from the python downwards. But
the cobra, so much dreaded in India, is not met with in Borneo, and death
from a snake-bite is very rare. The elephant and the rhinoceros seem to
be confined to the north end of the island. There is the great man-like
ape—the _orang-utan_, or _maias_, as it is called by the Dyaks. It is
only found in a limited area, in the territory between the Batang Lupar
and the Rejang Rivers. As a rule, this animal does not exceed the height
of four feet two inches, though there are stories told of its attaining
a far greater size. The height, however, gives a poor idea of the
animal’s bulk and strength. The body is as large as that of an average
man, but the legs are extremely short. Its arms are of great length, and
measure over seven feet in spread. The whole body is covered with long
red hair. It rarely attacks man, but when provoked is very ferocious, and
as its strength is very great, it is a foe not to be despised. There are
numerous wild boars in the jungle, but they never attack the traveller,
and are not a source of danger.

The vegetation of Borneo is rich and varied. By the seashore and at the
mouths of the rivers there grows the _nipa_ palm, “the tree of a thousand
uses.” The young leaves are used for making _kadjangs_, the awnings
with which Dyak boats are covered. The old leaves are made into _attap_
for the roofs and walls of their houses. From the blossom a sweet drink
is obtained, and this is converted into sugar. From the ashes of the
burnt stump of this palm salt is obtained. As one travels up a Bornean
river the _nipa_ palms become less and less plentiful, and one finds the
banks covered with mangroves. These trees thrive on the muddy banks.
A network of roots grows out of the stem several feet above the soil,
and keeps them firm. At night these mangroves are lit up by myriads of
fireflies. The missionary stationed at Banting many years ago had all the
mangrove-trees, except one on each side of his landing-place, cut down,
and on the darkest night there was no difficulty in knowing where his
boat was to stop. These two trees, covered with fireflies, were not to be
mistaken in the surrounding darkness.

In Borneo there are many varieties of palms. There is the _nibong_ palm,
the trunk of which is often used for the posts of native houses. When
split up, it is used for the flooring. There is the _sago_ palm, from
the pith of the trunk of which sago is obtained. There are the cocoanut
and betel-nut palms, and lastly a useful climbing palm—the cane, or
_rotan_—which is exported in great quantities and used for the seats of

There are many kinds of useful woods to be found in the Bornean jungles.
There is the _bilian_, or iron-wood, which is so valuable for building
purposes, as it is practically indestructible. It will not rot in earth
or water, and it is the only wood that the white ants cannot destroy.
There are also many other hard woods used for the building of houses and
the making of keels for boats.

The ebony-tree is to be found in Borneo. The ebony is the heart of the
tree, the rest of the wood being of a light colour.

The camphor-tree is also found, as well as various trees which produce
gutta and rubber of different sorts.

There are many fruit-trees, but the fruit most loved by the Dyaks is the
_durian_. This grows on a large tree, and is about the size of a man’s
head. When ripe, it is easily split open, and in it are pods in which are
rows of seeds covered with a sweet pulp.



    Seven omen birds—Other omen animals—Omens sought before
    beginning rice-farming—House-building omens—Substitutions for
    omens—Good and bad omens in farming—A dead animal—Means of
    avoiding bad effects—Omens obeyed at all times—Bird flying
    through a house—A drop of blood—Killing an omen bird or
    insect—Origin of the system of omens—Augury—Dreams.

The Dyak is conscious of his ignorance of the natural laws which govern
the world in which he lives. He longs for some guidance in his precarious
farming, in his work in the lonely depths of the jungle, in his boating
over the dangerous rapids or treacherous tides of the swift rivers. He
is aware that injury or death may suddenly confront him from many an
unexpected source. He knows that Nature has voices, many and varied, and
he is convinced that if he could only understand those voices aright,
he would know when to advance and when to recede. He feels the need of
guidance, and he has devised for himself a system of omens.

Like the ancient Romans, who took auguries from the flight or notes
of certain birds—the raven, the owl, the magpie, the eagle, and the
vulture—the Dyak has his sacred birds, whose flight or calls are supposed
to intimate to him the will of unseen powers. They are seven in number,
and their native names are: _Katupong_, _Beragai_, _Kutok_, _Embuas_,
_Nendak_, _Papau_, and _Bejampong_. They are beautiful in plumage, but,
like most tropical birds, they have little song, and their calls are
shrill and piercing. They are supposed to be manifestations of the seven
spirit sons of the great god Singalang Burong (see the “Story of Siu,” p.

The system, as carried out by the Dyaks, is most elaborate and
complicated, and the younger men have constantly to ask the older ones
how to act in unexpected combinations of apparently contradictory omens.
The law and observance of omens occupy a greater share of the thoughts of
the Dyak than any other part of his religion.

It is not only to the cry of birds that the Dyaks pay heed. There are
certain animals—the deer, the armadillo, the lizard, the bat, the
python, the cobra, even the rat, as well as certain insects—which all
may give omens under special circumstances. But these other creatures
are subordinate to the birds, from which alone augury is sought at the
beginning of any important undertaking.

Some idea of the method in which the Dyaks carry out their system of
omens may be gathered from what is done at the commencement of the yearly
rice-farming. Some man who has the reputation of being fortunate, and
has had large paddy crops, will be the augur, and undertake to obtain
omens for a large area of land on which he and others intend to plant.
The Dyaks begin clearing the ground of jungle and high grass when the
Pleiades appear at a certain height above the horizon at sunset. Some
little time before this the augur sets about his work. He will have to
hear the cry of the _nendak_, the _katupong_, and the _beragai_, all
on his left. If these cries come from birds on his right, they are not
propitious. The cries of the other sacred birds must sound on his right.
He goes forth in the early morning, and wanders about the jungle till the
cry of the _nendak_ is heard on his left. He will then break off a twig
of anything growing near, and take it home and put it in a safe place.
But it may happen that some other omen bird or animal is first to be
seen or heard. In that case he must give the matter up, return, and try
his chance another day. Thus, sometimes several days pass before he has
obtained his first omen. When he has heard the _nendak_, he will then
listen for the _katupong_ and the other birds in the necessary order.
There is always the liability of delays caused by the wrong birds being
heard, and it may possibly be a month or more before he obtains all those
augural predictions, which will give him confidence that his farming for
the year will be successful. When the augur has collected a twig for
each bird he has heard, he takes these to the land selected for farming,
buries them in the ground, and with a short form of address to the birds
and to Pulang Gana—the god of the Earth—clears a small portion of the
ground of grass or jungle, and then returns home. The magic virtues of
the birds have been conveyed to the land, and the work of clearing it for
planting may be begun at any time.

The sacred birds can be bad omens as well as good. If heard on the wrong
side, or in the wrong order, the matter in hand must be postponed or
altogether abandoned, unless a subsequent conjunction of good omens
occurs, which in the judgment of old experts more than counterbalances
the bad omens.

I have mentioned the omens necessary before planting the seed. In a
similar manner, before beginning to build a house, or starting on a war
expedition, or undertaking any new line of action, certain omens are
required if good fortune is to attend them and the Fates be propitious.

For house-building, the cries of the same birds are required, and in the
same order as before planting the seed. But for a war expedition, birds
heard on the right hand are best, except in the case of the _nendak_,
which may be heard either on the right or on the left hand side.

There are, I believe, certain substitutions for this tedious process of
seeking the omens of birds. It is said that for farming, if a piece of
gold be hidden in the ground, the hearing of the proper omen birds may be
dispensed with. If a fowl be sacrificed, and the blood made to drop in a
hole in the earth in which the fowl is afterwards buried, it is said the
gods will be satisfied, and a good harvest ensue. And on the occasion of
a war expedition, if an offering is made with beating of gongs and drums
on starting from the house, it is said that no cries of birds need be
obeyed afterwards. But none of these methods are ever used, the Dyaks
preferring to submit to the tedious procedure of listening to the cries
of the birds.

It is in regard to farming that the practice is most conspicuous. And if
any of these omen birds are heard or seen by the Dyak on his way to his
work on his paddy land, it foretells either good or evil to himself or
to his farm—if good, then all is well, and he goes on his way rejoicing;
if evil, he will at once turn back and wait for the following day before
going to his work again. The _nendak_ foretells good, whether heard on
the right hand or the left; so does the _katupong_; but the _papau_ is
of evil omen, and, if heard, the man must at once beat a retreat. A
_beragai_ heard occasionally does not matter, but if heard frequently,
no work must be done for one day. The _embuas_ heard on the right hand
is very bad, and in order to insure a good harvest, the unlucky man must
not work on his farm for five days. The cry of the _beragai_ acts as an
antidote, and destroys the bad effects of the cries of birds of bad omen.
For instance, the _kutok_ and _katupong_ are both birds of bad omen, but
if after hearing them the cry of a _beragai_ is heard, no evil effects
need be dreaded. If the cry of a deer, a gazelle, or a mouse-deer be
heard, or if a rat crosses the path of a man on his way to his farm, a
day’s rest is necessary, or he will either cut himself, or become ill, or
suffer by failure of his crop.

When a remarkably good omen is heard—one which foretells a plentiful
harvest—the man must go to his farm at once, and do some trifling work
there, and then return, and in this way clench the foreshadowed luck and
at the same time reverence the spirit who promises it. Should a deer, a
gazelle, or a mouse-deer come out of the jungle to the farm when a man is
at work there, it is an exceptionally good omen. It means that customers
will come to buy the paddy, and that therefore the crop will be very
good in order that there may be paddy to sell. They honour this omen by
resting from work for three days.

But the worst of all omens is to find anywhere on the farm the dead body
of any animal, especially if it be that of any animal included in the
omen list. It infuses a deadly poison into the whole crop, and one or
other of the owner’s family will certainly die within the year. When
such a terrible thing happens, the omen is tested by killing a pig, and
divining from the appearance of its liver directly after death. If the
liver be pronounced to be of good omen, then all is well, but if not,
then all the rice grown on that ground must be sold or given away. Other
people may eat it, for the omen affects only those who own the crops.

A way of escaping from the bad effects of omens is sometimes resorted
to. Certain men, who by some peculiar magic influence are credited with
possessing in themselves some occult power which can overcome bad omens,
are able by eating some little thing of the produce of the farm to turn
away the evil prognostication and render it ineffectual. Something grown
on the farm—a little Indian corn or a few cucumber-shoots—is taken to
the man. For a small consideration he eats it raw. By this means he
appropriates to himself the evil omen, which can do him no harm, and thus
delivers the owner of the farm from any possible evil in the future.

The Dyak pays heed to these ominous creatures not only in his farming,
but in all his journeyings and in any kind of work he may be engaged in.
If he be going to visit a friend, the cry of a bird of ill omen will send
him back. If he be engaged in carrying beams from the jungle for his
house, and hear a _kutok_, or _bejampong_, or an _embuas_, he will at
once throw down the piece of timber, and it will be left there for a day
or two, or perhaps abandoned altogether. If at night the inhabitants of
a long Dyak house hear an owl make a peculiar noise called _sabut_, they
will all hastily leave the house in the early morning, and remain away,
living in temporary sheds, for some weeks, and return to the house only
when they hear a _nendak_ or _beragai_ cry on their left. There are many
omens which make a place unfit for habitation—for example, a _beragai_
flying over the house or an armadillo crawling up into it.

So great is the Dyak belief in omens that a man will sometimes abandon a
nearly finished boat simply because a bird of ill omen flies across its
bows. The labour of weeks will thus be wasted. I have myself seen wooden
beams and posts left half finished in the jungle, and have learned on
inquiry that some bird of ill omen was heard while the man was at work on
them, and so they had to be abandoned.

If a _katupong_ flies in at one end of the house and flies out at the
other, it is a bad omen, and the house is often abandoned. On one of my
visits to Sebetan there was great excitement at the Dyak house near mine
because on the previous night a _katupong_ had flown through the house.
Opinions were divided. Some thought the house ought to be abandoned;
others said that if sacrifices were offered, there was no need to desert
the house. My opinion was asked. At that time of the year the Dyak house
was very empty, as most of the families, if not all, would be living on
their farms, and I said: “You have fruit-trees growing thickly all round
your houses, and as you leave your houses empty, I am not surprised at
any bird flying through the house.” My matter-of-fact ideas were not much
approved. As usual in doubtful cases, they sacrificed a pig and examined
its liver. Luckily, the omen was good, so they continued to live in the
house; otherwise, they would have had to leave that house and build

To see a drop of blood on a mat or on the floor of a Dyak house is
considered a bad omen, which sometimes necessitates the abandoning of
the house altogether. I remember hearing a woman of this same house in
Sebetan relate that, after she and the children had had their evening
meal, she was putting away the plates on the rack in the wall, when she
saw a drop of fresh blood on the mat. The Dyaks considered it a most
terrible thing to happen. I was asked what I thought about it. I said
that probably one of the children had a cut finger, and the blood was
from that. The mother was positive the blood was not that of any of her
children. I said that perhaps there was a wounded rat in the roof, and
the blood was from it. I could see that the Dyaks considered me very
ignorant. They told me that they were sure the blood must be that of some
spirit who chose that method of showing his displeasure. It was useless
for me to argue that if the spirit was invisible, his blood must be
invisible, too.

To kill one of these omen creatures, be it bird or insect, is a crime
which will certainly be punished by sickness or death. But this
sacredness of life, it may be noticed, does not apply to the deer, the
gazelle, the mouse-deer, the armadillo, and the iguana, all of which they
freely kill for food. Rats also are killed, as they are great pests. It
would seem that physical requirements are stronger than religious theory.

This is the merest outline of the practice of interpreting omens among
the Dyaks, but it will give some idea of the tediousness of the process.
And the intricacies of the subject are great. The different combinations
of these voices of Nature are endless, and it is difficult to know in
each special case whether the spirits intend to foretell good or bad
fortune. It is not an unusual thing to see old men, industrious and
sensible in ordinary matters of life, sitting down for hours discussing
the probable effect on their destiny of some special combination of omens.

The full Dyak explanation of the origin of this system of listening to
the cries of certain birds is contained in the “Story of Siu” (see p.

Another story tells how some Dyaks in the Batang Lupar made a great
feast, and invited many guests. When everything was ready, and the
arrival of the guests expected, the sound of a great company of people
was heard near the village. The hosts, thinking they were the invited
friends, went to meet them, but to their surprise found they were all
utter strangers. However, they received them with due honour, and
entertained them in a manner suitable to the occasion. When the time of
departure came, they asked the strange visitors who they were, and from
whence they came. Their Chief replied: “I am _Singalang Burong_, and
these are my sons-in-law and their friends. When you hear the voices of
the following birds [giving their names] you must pay heed to them. They
are our deputies in this lower world.” And then the Dyaks understood that
they had been entertaining guests from the Spirit World, who rewarded
their hospitality by giving them the guidance of the omen system.

A favourite way of auguring good or evil among the Dyaks is the old
classical method of examining the entrails of some animal offered in
sacrifice. A pig is killed, and the heart and liver taken out and placed
upon leaves. These organs are handed round to the old men present, who
closely examine them, and pronounce them to augur either good or evil.
This method of augury is often resorted to when the interpretation of the
cries of birds is doubtful.


He is wearing the usual waistcloth and has also a sleeveless war-jacket
made of skin covered with hair.]

A study of the subject of omens and augury shows the need the Dyak feels,
in common with all mankind, of some guidance from higher and unseen
powers. What is the principle which underlies this system of omens? There
is no doubt a morbid anxiety to know the secrets of the future. But that
is not all. Surely in addition to this there is the hidden conviction
that the gods have some way of revealing their wishes to mankind, and
that obedience to the will of the higher powers is the only way to insure
success and happiness.

The Dyaks place implicit confidence in dreams. Their theory is that
during sleep the soul can hear, see, and understand, and so what is
dreamt is really what the soul sees. When anyone dreams of a distant
land, they believe that his soul has paid a flying visit to that land.
They interpret their dreams literally. The appearance of deceased
relatives in dreams is to the Dyaks a proof that the souls live in
_Sabayan_, and as in the dreams they seem to wear the same dress and to
be engaged in the same occupations as when they lived in this world, it
is difficult to persuade the Dyaks that the life in the other world can
be different from that in this.

In dreams, also, the gods and spirits are supposed to bring charms to
human beings. The story is often told of how a man falls asleep, and
dreams that a spirit came to him and gave certain charms, and lo! when he
awakes, he finds them in his hands. Or else he is told in his dream to go
to a certain spot at a certain time, and take some stone which will have
some mysterious influence for good over his fortunes. Very often these
magic charms, or _pengaroh_, as they are called by the Dyaks, are nothing
more than ordinary black pebbles, but the possession of them is supposed
to endow the owner with exceptional powers.

No doubt Dyaks often concoct dreams out of their waking thoughts to suit
their own interests, and many a man falsely declares he has received the
gift of a charm from some spirit in order to appear of importance before

To conclude, dreams are looked upon by the Dyaks as the means the gods
and spirits use to convey their commands or to warn men of coming danger.
Houses are often deserted, and farming land on which much labour has
been spent abandoned, on account of dreams. Newly-married couples often
separate from the same cause. It is no unusual thing for a man or a woman
to dream that the spirits are hungry and need food. In that case the
inmates of the Dyak house organize a feast, and offerings are made to the
hungry spirits.

Sometimes dreams are made an excuse for evil deeds. A woman who had been
guilty of adultery said she was only carrying out the command of the gods
conveyed to her in a dream, and that if she disobeyed she would probably
become mad!



    _Manangs_ supposed to possess mysterious powers over evil
    spirits—Dyak theory of disease—Treatment of disease—_Lupong_,
    or box of charms—_Batu Ilau_—_Manang_ performances—_Pagar
    Api_—Catching the soul—Sixteen different _manang_
    ceremonies—Killing the demon _Buyu_—_Saut_—Salampandai—Deceit
    of _manangs_—Story of a schoolboy—Smallpox and cholera—Three
    ceremonies of initiation—Different ranks of _manangs_.

Among the lower races of mankind there is always to be found the
witch-doctor, who claims to have mysterious powers, and to be able to
hold communication with the spirit-world. Where there is ignorance as
to the cause of disease, and the effects that different medicines have
on the human body, magical ceremonies and pretensions to supernatural
powers are allowed full sway. Fear and anxiety in cases of illness make
men eager to believe in any suggested remedy, however absurd it may be.
The Dyaks are no exception to the rule. They have their _manangs_, or

The peculiar attribute of the _manang_ is the possession of mysterious
powers over the spirits, rather than any special knowledge of medicines.
There is often some small idea of the use of certain simple herbal
remedies, but it is not on this knowledge that his importance depends.
The great function of the _manang_ is to defeat and drive away the
malignant spirits which cause sickness and death. All maladies are
supposed to be inflicted by the passing or the touch of demons, who are
enemies to mankind. The Dyak description of most diseases is _pansa
utai_, literally “something passed him.” A spirit passed him and struck
him. In accordance with this idea of disease, the only person who can
cure the sick man is the one who can cope with the unseen evil spirit.
The _manang_ claims to be able to do this. He can charm or persuade
or kill the evil spirit and rescue the departing soul from his cruel
clutches. When called in to attend a patient, he, in company with other
medicine-men, goes through a performance called _Pelian_. There are
different varieties of this ceremony, according to the disease and the
amount of the fees paid.

_Manangs_ are generally called to their profession by a revelation made
to them in dreams by some spirit. Each _manang_, therefore, claims to
have a familiar spirit, whom he can call to his aid when necessary. When
a person receives a call from the spirit, he bids adieu for a while to
his relatives, abandons his former occupations, and attaches himself to
some other experienced _manang_, who, for a consideration, will take him
in hand and instruct him in the incantations, a knowledge of which is
necessary for his calling.

The _manang_ looks upon a sick person as in the power of an evil spirit.
As long as that spirit remains in possession, the patient cannot recover.
He bids it depart. If it be obstinate and will not go, he summons his
own familiar spirit to his aid. If the evil spirit still refuse to go,
then the _manang_ admits his inability to deal with the case alone, and
several other _manangs_ are called to his aid.

Whether the patient live or die, the _manang_ is rewarded for his
trouble. He makes sure of this before he undertakes a case, as he is put
to considerable inconvenience by being fetched away from his own home and
his own work. He takes up his abode with the patient, and has his meals
with the family, and in other ways makes himself at home. If a cure be
effected, he receives a present in addition to his regular fee. Herbal
remedies are often administered internally or applied outwardly by him,
but, in addition to these, spells are muttered and incantations made to
exorcize the evil spirit that is tormenting the man.

Every _manang_ consults his familiar spirit as to what is best to be done
for the case. When a person complains of pain in his body, the familiar
is said to suggest that some mischievous spirit has put something into
him to cause the pain. The _manang_ will then manipulate the part, and
pretend to draw something out—a small piece of wood or a stone, or
whatever it may chance to be—and exhibit it as the cause of the pain in
the body. This he has by his magical power been able to remove from the
body without even leaving a mark on the skin!

The _manang_ always possesses a _lupong_, or medicine-box (see p. 184),
generally made of the bark of a tree, and this is filled with charms
consisting of scraps of wood or bark, curiously twisted roots, pebbles,
and fragments of quartz. These medicinal charms are either inherited,
or have been revealed by the spirits in dreams to their owners. One
important and necessary charm is the _Batu Ilau_ (“stone of light”)—a bit
of quartz crystal which every _manang_ possesses.

The _manang_ never carries his own box of charms; the people who fetch
him must carry it for him. He arrives at the house of the sick man
generally at sunset, for he never performs in daylight, unless the case
is very serious and he is paid extra for doing so. It is difficult and
dangerous work, he says, to have any dealings with the spirits in the
daytime. Sitting down by the patient, after some inquiries, he produces
out of his medicine-box a boar’s tusk or pebble, or some other charm, and
gently strokes the body with it. If there be several medicine-men called
in, the leader undertakes the preliminary examination, the rest giving
their assent.

The _manang_ now produces his _Batu Ilau_ (“stone of light”), and gravely
looks into it to diagnose the character of the disease, and to see where
the soul is, and to discover what is the proper ceremony necessary for
the case in question. Where there is serious illness the witch-doctor
affirms that the spirit of the afflicted person has already left the body
and is on its way to the next world, but that he may be able to overtake
it and bring it back, and restore it to the person to whom it belongs.
He pretends to converse with the spirit that troubles the sick man,
repeating aloud the answers that the spirit is supposed to make.

There are many different ceremonies resorted to in cases of illness, but
the following is what is common to all _manang_ performances.

In the public hall of the Dyak house a long-handled spear is fixed blade
upwards, with a few leaves tied round it, and at its foot are placed the
medicine-boxes of all the witch-doctors who take part in the ceremony.
This is called the _Pagar Api_ (“fence of fire”). Why it is called by
this curious name is not clear. The _manangs_ all squat on the floor,
and the leader begins a long monotonous drawl, the rest either singing
in concert or joining in the choruses or singing antiphonally with him.
After a tiresome period of this dull drawling, they stand up and march
with slow and solemn step in single file round the _Pagar Api_. The
monotonous chant sometimes slackens, sometimes quickens, as they march
round and round the whole night through, with only one interval for
food in the middle of the night. The patient simply lies on his mat and

Most of what is chanted is unintelligible, and consists of meaningless
sounds, it being supposed that what is not understood by man is
intelligible to the spirits. But some parts of it, though expressed
in very prolix and ornate language, can be understood by the careful

The witch-doctors call upon the sickness to be off to the ends of the
earth, and return to the unseen regions from whence it came. They invoke
the aid of spirits and of ancient worthies and unworthies down to their
own immediate ancestors, and spin the invocation out to a sufficient
length to last till early morning. Then comes the climax to which all
this has been leading—the truant soul has to be caught and brought back
again to the body of the sick man.

If the patient be in a dangerous state they pretend his soul has escaped
far away. Perhaps they give out that it has escaped to the river, and
they will wave about a garment or a piece of woven cloth to imitate the
action of throwing a casting net to enclose it as a fish is caught. Or
else they say that it has escaped into the jungle, and they will rush
out of the house to secure it there. Or perhaps they say that it has
been carried over the sea to unknown lands, and they all sit down and
imitate the action of paddling a boat to follow it. But this is only
done in special cases, and I have often been told by Dyaks who have been
present at a particular _manang_ performance: “The man was very ill
indeed. His _samengat_ (soul) had gone so far away that the _manangs_ had
great difficulty in finding it. They paddled over the sea, they threw
a net into the water, and did many other things before they ultimately
succeeded in catching it.”

Generally the next thing they do is to move faster and faster, till they
rush round the _Pagar Api_ as hard as they can, still singing their
incantation. One of their number suddenly falls to the floor and remains
motionless. The others sit down round him. The motionless _manang_ is
covered over with a blanket, and all wait while his spirit is supposed
to hurry away to the other world to find the wandering soul and bring
it back. Presently he revives, and looks vacantly round like a man just
waking out of sleep. Then he raises his right hand, clenched as if
holding something. That hand contains the soul, and he proceeds to the
patient and solemnly returns it to the body of the sick man through the
crown of his head, muttering at the same time more words of incantation.
This “catching of the soul” (_nangkap samengat_) is the great end to
which all that has preceded leads up. One function remains to complete
the cure. A live fowl must be waved over the patient, and as he does
so, the leader sings a special invocation of great length. The animal
is afterwards killed as an offering to the spirits, and eaten by the

I have given a general account of all _Pelian_ or _manang_ performances.
There are different kinds of ceremonies, according to the advice of the
_manang_ or the fee the patient is prepared to pay. In the following list
are the names of the principal _Pelian_. If a patient fail to recover
after one kind of ceremony, the _manangs_ often recommend another and
more expensive one.

1. _Betepas_ (“sweeping”): At the time of the birth of each individual, a
plant is supposed to grow up in the other world. If this plant continues
to grow well, then the man enjoys good and robust health; if it droops,
the man’s health suffers. When a man, therefore, has bad dreams or feels
slightly unwell for a few days, his plant in Hades is said to be in a bad
condition, and the _manang_ is called to weed and sweep around it, and by
doing so improve the condition of the plant, and consequently the health
of the man. This is the first and cheapest function of the _manang_. In
this he does not “catch the soul,” as is done in the other ceremonies.
All he does is to mutter some incantation and wave a fowl over the person.

2. _Berenchah_ (“making an assault”): The door between the private room
and the public veranda is thrown open, and the _manangs_ march backwards
and forwards between room and veranda. Each _manang_ carries two swords,
one in each hand, and he beats these against each other, and they rush at
the patient as if to attack him. This is supposed to be making an assault
against the evil spirits and scattering them on all sides.

3. _Berua_ (“swinging”): A swing is hung up outside the door of the sick
person’s room. The _manang_ sits in this swing, with the double object of
catching the man’s soul, if it leave his body, and also of frightening
any evil spirit that may come near to hurt the man.

4. _Betanam pentik_ (“planting a _pentik_”): A _pentik_ is a roughly
carved wooden representation of a man. The _manang_ rushes through
the house three times with this figure, and then plants it in the
ground at the foot of the ladder of the house, and near it is put a
winnowing-basket, a cooking-pot, and the piece of wood used in weaving to
press the threads together. The figure is planted in the ground in the
evening. If it remain till the morning in an upright position, recovery
is certain; but if it be inclined either to the right or left, it is an
omen of death.

5. _Bepancha_ (“making a _pancha_”): A _pancha_ is a swing erected on the
tanju, or open-air platform, of the house. In this swing the _manang_
sits, and by the movement of his feet “kicks away” the disease. While
seated in this swing he “catches the soul” of the patient.

6. _Ngelembayan_ (“taking a long sight”): A number of planks are laid
about in the public veranda, and the _manangs_ walk upon them, chanting
their incantations. Then one of their number pretends to swoon, and is
supposed to sail over rivers and seas to find the soul and bring it back.

7. _Bebayak_ (“making a _bayak_, or iguana”): Some cooked rice is moulded
into the shape of an iguana, and is covered over with cloths. This figure
is supposed to eat up the evil spirits which cause the disease.

8. _Nemuai Ka Sabayan_ (“making a journey to Hades”): The _manangs_,
with hats on their heads, march up and down the house singing their
incantations. While their bodies are doing this, their souls are supposed
to speed away to Hades and bring back all manner of medicinal charms and
talismans, as well as the wandering soul of the sick man.

9. _Betiang garong_ (“making a post for departed souls”): A piece of
bamboo is hung up to the roof-ridge, and an offering is put on the
ridge. A swing is erected up there for the _manang_, and he makes his
incantations and “catches the soul.”

10. _Begiling lantai_ (“rolled up in the flooring”): In this ceremony,
when the _manang_ feigns to swoon, his body is rolled up in part of the
flooring, and certain miniature articles are put by his side, just as a
dead man’s possessions are put by his body, and the _manang_ is taken out
of the house as if to be buried.

11. _Beburong raia_ (“making or acting the adjutant bird”): The _manangs_
walk up and down the house seven times, imitating the actions of the
adjutant bird. They are covered with native sheets, put over their bodies
like cloaks, and they pretend to personate the bird.

12. _Bebaju besi_ (“wearing an iron coat”): Each _manang_ fastens two
choppers on his back and two in front, and carries one in each hand. Thus
equipped, they walk round and “catch the soul.”

13. _Bebandong Api_ (“displaying fire”): The patient is laid out in the
public part of the house, and several small fires are made round him. The
_manangs_ pretend to dissect his body, and fan the flames towards him to
drive away the sickness.

14. _Betiti tendai_ (“walking on the _tendai_”): The _tendai_ is the
bar on which cotton is placed when being spun. This bar is oiled and
placed in the middle of the public veranda, and the _manang_, armed with
a chopper in each hand, walks on it in order to “catch the soul” of the

15. _Beremaung_ (“acting the tiger”): In the middle of each family’s
portion of the public veranda is placed a wooden mortar, and the _manang_
prowls round them to “catch the soul” of the patient.

16. _Betukup rarong_ (“to split open the coffin”): A _manang_ is put in a
coffin, and by his side are put miniature articles, supposed to represent
the utensils used in daily life. The other _manangs_ walk round, and
attempt to “catch the soul” of the sick man. When they have succeeded in
doing this, the coffin is split open and the _manang_ gets out.

These are the different kinds of _manang_ ceremonies known, but only the
first four are in common use. The others are rarely resorted to nowadays.

In addition to these must be mentioned the _Munoh Antu_, or _Bepantap
Buyu_ (“killing the demon,” or “wounding Buyu”). Buyu is the name of the
evil spirit who brings many diseases and causes miscarriage in women.
When there is some unusual or obstinate disease, or when a woman has had
miscarriage, the _manangs_ declare that Buyu is the cause of the trouble,
and must be killed. A large number of witch-doctors are called together,
and the feat is performed in this way: The patient is taken out of the
room, and laid on the common veranda, and covered with a net. In the room
is placed an offering of food, and the _manangs_ walk in procession up
and down the whole length of the house, chanting their incantations, and
inviting the evil spirit to come to his victim, and also to partake of
the sumptuous repast that is prepared for him. This occupies some time,
for the spirit may be far away, on a journey, or fishing, or hunting.
All lights are extinguished, and in the darkness the _manangs_ walk up
and down the public hall of the Dyak house. At intervals one of them
peeps in at the door to see if the spirit has arrived. In due time the
demon comes, and then the _manangs_ themselves enter the darkened room.
Presently sounds of scuffling, of clashing of weapons, and of shouting
are heard by the Dyaks outside. Soon after the door is thrown open, and
the demon said to be dead. He was cheated into coming to torment his
prey, and instead of a weak and helpless victim he met the crafty and
mighty _manangs_, who have done what ordinary mortals cannot do—attacked
and killed him. As a proof of the reality of the deed lights are
brought in, and the _manangs_ point to spots of blood on the floor, and
occasionally to the corpse itself in the shape of a dead monkey or snake,
which they say was the form the spirit took for the occasion. The trick
is a very simple one. Some time in the day the _manangs_ procure blood
from a fowl or some other animal, or it may be from their own bodies,
mix it with water in a bamboo to prevent congealing, smuggle it into the
room, and scatter it on the floor in the dark. This can safely be done,
as no one but the _manangs_ themselves are in the room. Neither lights
nor outsiders are admitted, on the plea that under such circumstances the
demon could not be enticed to enter. The trick has often been detected
and the performers openly accused of imposture; consequently, it is not
now practised so often as in former times. When this victory over the
spirit is won, the _Pelian_ goes on in the usual way till the morning

In addition to these _Pelian_, there is another _manang_ ceremony which
is often performed, and known by the name of _Saut_. A feast is always
given in the house where this ceremony takes place, so it is the occasion
of the gathering of friends from many different Dyak houses. The reasons
for having this ceremony are various. If they have had a series of bad
harvests, or if one or more people in the house are ill, or if they wish
the future of one child or many to be bright and prosperous, then the
_manangs_ are called in to perform the _Saut_.

The principal god or deity invoked in this ceremony is Selampandai, the
god who fashions mankind out of clay by hammering them out on an anvil.
As in other performances of the _manangs_, there is a _Pagar Api_ put up
in the open veranda. The ceremony begins at dusk, when three offerings of
food are made. The first is to the gods of the women, and this is thrown
out of the window of the room to the ground; the second offering is made
to the gods of the men, and is thrown out to the ground from the unroofed
veranda in front of the house; the third offering is to Selampandai, and
this is put in the loft over the _Pagar Api_.

Areca-nut blossoms are placed ready for use on a little shelf, and three
plates of rice are put near them as offerings to the spirits. A large
valuable jar (_tajau_) filled with native spirit (_tuak_) is placed in
the public veranda of the house. If there be a sick man to be cured, he
sits on a brass gong (_chanang_) by the _Pagar Api_. The _manangs_ march
up and down singing their incantations. After doing this for some time,
each of them takes a bunch of areca-blossom in his hands, and they strike
each other with these until the blossoms are broken and strew the ground.
Then the _manangs_ walk slowly round the jar, bowing to it at each step.
After this they join hands, and rush round the jar as fast as they can
go, until they are quite exhausted.

During this the guests who have been invited to the feast are seated
about eating and drinking, or chatting to each other. Later on in the
evening, when the _manangs_ have completed their ceremony, the _tuak_ in
the jar is handed round in cups for the guests to drink. As usual at
feasts, when a cup of spirit is given to a man, he drinks the contents
and keeps the cup, and it is no unusual thing to see a man returning from
a feast with twenty or thirty cups in his possession.

There is a good deal of deceit and humbug and a little clumsy
sleight-of-hand on the part of the _manang_, and an unlimited amount of
faith on the part of the patient. The _manang_ must be conscious of his
own deceit, but he believes that his incantations do good, and I have
often known cases of _manangs_ having these ceremonies for members of
their own family who are ill. But as a rule a _manang_ is not a truthful
man at all. He is not above telling any number of lies to increase his
importance. He always pretends to have had previous knowledge of what is
going to happen, and often says, when he is called in to a case, that he
knew some time previously that his patient would be ill and come to him
for help.

There can be no doubt that the average Dyak knows that there is a great
deal of deceit connected with the _manang’s_ profession, but he also
knows he must submit to that deceit if he wishes to have his help, and he
believes that in some way the incantations and remarkable actions of the
_manangs_ help to scare away the evil spirit which is the cause of the

I remember that one of my schoolboys was on a visit to his relatives in
Saribas. His sister was ill, and his parents sent for the _manangs_ to
cure her. The boy protested. He said they were Christians, and ought not
to make incantations to the spirits. But no notice was taken of what he
said. The _manang_ went through the usual farce of “catching the soul”
and restoring it to the girl. The boy looked on, and when it was over
said to him:

“You are a fraud. You know you cannot ‘catch the soul,’ and you only
pretend to do so, and get paid for it.”

The _manang_ was no doubt disgusted at being thus reproved by a little
boy, and replied:

“I am able to catch the soul and restore it. I will catch your soul if
you like.”

“Do so,” said the boy. “I would like you very much to do it.”

The foolish _manang_ pretended to faint; then he woke up in the orthodox
manner with one hand clenched, and when he opened it, lo and behold!
there was something there which he declared was the boy’s soul.

The boy sat and looked on while all this went on.

“Here is your soul,” the _manang_ said, “which I have succeeded in
catching after much troubled. Let me restore it to you, so that you may
be in good health.”

“Call that my soul?” said the boy. “I make a present of it to you. I do
not want it. You can keep it. I have a soul which you cannot touch.”

The _manang_ was puzzled. He had never known such a thing as anyone
daring to refuse to have his own soul. He spoke to the parents, and said
that something terrible would happen to the boy if he persisted in not
having his soul returned to his body. The parents wished the boy to do
what the _manang_ desired, but he was determined, and did what all Dyak
boys do when they are disobedient—ran off into the jungle, where he knew
he would not easily be found.

When this boy came back to my school, he told me all about it, and later
on, when he and I went to his people, they spoke about it. As the boy was
in very good health, they all had a laugh at the _manang’s_ expense. If,
however, anything had happened to the boy, no doubt the _manang_ would
have made much capital out of it.

I have sometimes argued with a _manang_ that if the soul has already left
the body of the patient when he is called in, then the man ought to be
dead. The answer to this is that a man has more than one soul. It is only
when _all_ his souls leave the body that the man dies. Some Dyaks assert
that a man has three souls, and others seven. Their ideas on this matter
do not agree.

Though the _manang_ is supposed to be able to defeat the evil spirits
which cause disease, there are some diseases which are too terrible for
even his mystical powers. The epidemic scourges of cholera and smallpox
are said to be caused by the direct influence of evil spirits. Smallpox
is said to be caused by the King of Evil Spirits, because it is such a
terrible disease. The name by which it is known among the Dyaks is _Sakit
Rajah_ (the sickness of, or caused by, the King of Evil Spirits). But the
_manangs_ will not go near a case of either. Probably a consciousness
of their own powerlessness, combined with a fear of infection, has made
them assert that those diseases do not come within reach of their powers.
Other means, such as propitiatory sacrifices and offerings, must be
resorted to.

To qualify a man to take part in this mixed system of symbolism
and deceit, a form of initiative ceremony is gone through by other
witch-doctors, in the course of which he is supposed to learn the secrets
of his mystic calling. The aspirant to the office of _manang_ must first
commit to memory a certain amount of Dyak traditional lore, to enable him
to take part in the incantations in company with other witch-doctors. But
in addition to this, before he can accomplish the more important parts,
such as pretending to catch the soul of a sick man, he must be publicly
initiated by one or more of the following ceremonies:

1. The first is called _Besudi_, which means “feeling,” or “touching.”
The aspirant sits in the veranda of the Dyak house, and a number of
witch-doctors walk round him singing incantations the whole night. The
ceremony performed over him is the same as that done for a sick man
(_Pelian_). This is supposed to endow him with the power to touch and
feel the maladies of the body, and apply the requisite cure. It admits
to the lowest grade, called _manang mata_ (unripe _manang_), and is
obtainable for the lowest fees.

2. If a _manang_ wishes to attain a higher grade, he goes through a
second ceremony, which is called _Bekliti_, or “opening.” A whole
night’s incantation is again gone through by the other _manangs_, and
in the early morning the great function of initiation is carried out.
The witch-doctors lead the aspirant into an apartment curtained off from
public gaze by large sheets of native woven cloth. There they assert
they cut his head open, and take out his brains and wash and restore
them. This is to give him a clear mind to penetrate into the mysteries of
disease and to circumvent the wiles of the unseen spirits. They insert
gold-dust into his eyes to give him keenness and strength of sight, so
that he may be able to see the soul wherever it may have wandered. They
plant barbed hooks in the tips of his fingers to enable him to seize the
struggling soul and hold it fast, and, lastly, they pierce his heart
with an arrow to make him tender-hearted and full of sympathy with the
sick and suffering. Needless to say, none of these things are done. A
few symbolic actions representing them are all that are gone through. A
cocoanut is placed on the head of the man and split open instead of the
head, and so on. After this second ceremony the man is a fully-qualified
_manang_—a _manang mansau_ (a ripe _manang_)—competent to practise all
parts of his deceitful craft.

3. There is, however, a third and highest grade, which is attainable
only by ambitious candidates who are rich enough to make the necessary
outlay. They may become _manang bangun_, _manang enjun_ (_manangs_ waved
upon, _manangs_ trampled upon). As in other cases, this involves a whole
night’s ceremony, in which many of the older witch-doctors take part.
They begin by walking round and round the aspirant to this high honour,
and wave over him bunches of betel-nut blossom. This is the _bangun_
(the waving upon). Then in the middle of the veranda a large jar is
placed having a short ladder fastened on each side and connected at the
top. At various intervals during the night the _manangs_, leading the
new candidate, march him up one ladder and down the other, but what
this is supposed to symbolize is not clear. As a finish to this play at
mysteries, the man lays himself flat on the floor and the others walk
over him and trample upon him. In some mysterious way this action is
supposed to impart to him the supernatural power they themselves possess.
This is the _enjun_, the “trampling upon.” The fees necessary to obtain
this highest grade among witch-doctors are high, and therefore few are
able to afford it. One who has been through this ceremony will often be
heard to boast that he is no ordinary spirit-controller or soul-catcher,
but something far superior—a _manang bangun, manang enjun_.

There is a yet higher grade which some _manangs_ attain to—that is, when
he becomes a _manang bali_. _Bali_ means “changed,” and a _manang bali_
is one who is supposed to have changed his sex, and become a woman.

Sometimes a male _manang_ assumes female attire. He does this, it is
said, because he has had a supernatural command conveyed to him in dreams
on three separate occasions. To disregard such a command would mean
death. He prepares a feast, and sacrifices a pig or two to avert evil
consequences to the tribe, and then assumes female costume. Thenceforth
he is treated like a woman, and occupies himself in female pursuits. His
chief aim in life is to copy female manners and habits as accurately as

A _manang bali_ is paid much higher fees than an ordinary _manang_, and
is often called in when others have been unable to effect a cure. I do
not think there is ever a case of a young man becoming a _manang bali_.
Generally it is an old and childless man who uses this means of earning a

The only occasion on which I have met a _manang bali_ was in the upper
part of the Krian River. He seemed a poor sort of creature, and appeared
to me to be looked down upon by the Dyaks, though they were glad
enough to ask his help in cases of illness. He had a “husband,” a lazy
good-for-nothing, who lived on the earnings of the _manang bali_.

Women as well as men may become _manangs_, though it is not usual to meet
many such nowadays. I have only come across one woman _manang_, and that
was at Temudok, though I have heard of several others in different parts
of the country.

The fact that the _manang_ claims to be able to hold communion with the
spirit-world would lead one to suppose that he is the priest of the
Dyak system of worship. But in practice the _manang_ is more a doctor
than a priest. His aid is always called in case of illness, but not
necessarily at the great religious functions of the Dyaks—the sacrifice
of propitiation to Pulang Gana, the god of the earth, or the sacrificial
feast to Singalang Burong, the god of war. Generally, other Dyaks
are the officiating ministers on these occasions, the only requisite
qualification being the ability to chant the invocation and incantations
which accompany the offering and ceremonies. Also at marriages or at
burials the _manang_ is not the officiant, but some old man of standing,
who has a reputation for being fortunate in his undertakings. A _manang_
may be the officiant, not by virtue of his office, but for other reasons.



    Native remedies—Cupping—Charms—A Dyak medicine-chest—Smallpox
    and cholera—My experience at Temudok.

As has already been shown in the preceding chapter, the Dyak looks to
the _manang_, or witch-doctor, to help him in all cases of illness.
All sickness is caused by some evil spirit, and the _manang_ alone has
power over these unseen enemies, and he uses incantations to appease or
frighten these demons away.

But though in all cases of serious illness the _manang_ is called in,
yet the treatment of every disease is not left in his hands. Dyaks use
some things as outward applications, and certain herbal remedies are
given internally in the case of illness. I have seen Dyaks boil some
bitter bark in water and drink this liquid when they have fever. Certain
oils are also used as liniments. The betel-nut and pepper-leaf (_sireh_)
mixture is used as an outward application for many complaints. Some
man—generally one who is successful in what he undertakes—is asked to
chew some of this hot mixture in his mouth. Having done this, he leans
over and squirts the red saliva over the affected part, and rubs it in
with his fingers. Dyaks with a headache will be seen with their foreheads
smeared over with it. Newly-born babes have their stomachs and chests
covered with daily applications of the same thing by their mothers.

Ground ginger is also used as a poultice, especially in the case of women
who have given birth to a child; and the water in which pieces of ginger
have been boiled is drunk by people suffering from ague, as well as by
lying-in women.

The Dyaks are very fond of blood-letting whenever there is pain in any
part of the body or limb, and they have a method of “cupping” which
is rather ingenious. The part from which the blood is to be drawn has
incisions made in it with a small knife. The “cupping-glass” is a young
wet bamboo which has a knot at one end, but is open at the other. This
is heated at the fire, and then placed firmly over the incisions made
in the flesh. Cold water is then poured on the bamboo, and it draws
out the blood. The heat fills the bamboo with steam from its dampness.
The cold water condenses this steam, and makes the bamboo an excellent

As the Dyak believes that all sickness is caused by the spirits, it is
not surprising that his faith in medicines is small, and that he knows
of few remedies, and depends for his cures either on the mysterious
ceremonies of the witch-doctors or on charms which have been made known
by the spirits to the fortunate owners by means of dreams. These charms
are generally pebbles, roots, leaves, feathers, or bits of wood. The
pebbles and roots are rubbed on the body, or else put in water and the
water applied. The leaves, bits of wood, feathers, etc., are burnt, and
the ashes rubbed on the affected part.

Though the _manang_ depends upon his power over spirits to cure
diseases, still he calls to his aid his numerous charms, which he claims
to have received from the spirits. These valued treasures are carried in
his _lupong_, or medicine-chest.

The following excellent description of “The Contents of a Dyak
Medicine-chest,” by Bishop Hose, under whom I worked for many years as a
missionary to the Dyaks, is reproduced here by his kind permission. The
place and the people mentioned in it are all well known to me, as the
village of Kundong is in the Saribas District, which was in my charge for
many years:—

“A few days ago I was in the upper part of the Saribas River, the home of
the race once celebrated throughout Malaya for daring deeds of piracy. My
companion was the Rev. William Howell, the joint author with Mr. D. J.
S. Bailey of “A Dictionary of the Sea Dyak Language,” and an authority
on all subjects connected with the religious and other customs of that
people. We had ascended the Padih, an affluent of the main river, to the
village of Kundong, where we were going to spend the night in the Dyak
house of which Brok is the _tuai_, or headman. The house is of moderate
length—about twenty doors—and as usual the apartments of the _tuai_ are
near the middle of the building. There we were hospitably installed on
the _ruai_, or undivided hall (sometimes described as a veranda), which
extends throughout the whole length of a Sea Dyak house and occupies
about half of its area. The good mats were brought down from the _sadau_,
or loft, and spread for us—the rare luxury of a chair was provided for
me—and there we talked, and taught, and answered questions, and dispensed
medicines, while the inhabitants of the other rooms gathered round us, as
well as the occupants of our host’s private quarters. There also we ate,
and there we slept when the kindly people would at last consent to our
going to bed.

“The majority of the ‘rooms’—_i.e._, separate tenements—in this house
are inhabited by Christians of long standing, but there are a few who
have not yet come in. Amongst them is a _manang_, or doctor of magic,
named Dasu, who has a large practice in the neighbourhood. I was anxious
to interview him in order to get some information that I wanted for the
purpose of comparing the original spiritual beliefs of the Borneans with
those that underlie the Mohammedanism of the Malays of the Peninsula.
I was also desirous of ascertaining how far the methods of the Dyak
_manang_, when undertaking to cure diseases, resembled those of the
_pawang_ and _bomor_, his Malay confrères.

“At our invitation Dr. Dasu came out of his room readily enough, and
sat down with us to chat and smoke a cigarette. He talked freely and
intelligently about such matters of general interest as happened to be
broached, especially the late expedition against the turbulent people of
the Ulu Ai, and the terrible epidemic of cholera which was just passing
away. But as soon as we began to give the conversation a professional
turn, and speak of the practice of medicine by the native doctors of
the Saribas, he put on a look of impenetrable reserve, and could hardly
be persuaded to speak at all. There is reason to believe that this was
chiefly owing to the presence of Mr. Howell. He has succeeded in winning
the confidence and affectionate regard of Dyaks to an unusual degree,
but he is unpopular among the _manangs_. His teaching has led people to
think for themselves, and wherever he goes the business and the gains of
the village doctor show a tendency to decrease. Moreover, several of
the fraternity have submitted to his influence, abandoned their tricks,
and taken to honest farming. It is known, too, that some of these have
surrendered their whole stock of charms to my friend, and have also made
dangerous revelations, whereby the profession has been much discredited.

“So Dr. Dasu was only with great difficulty induced to impart to us his
knowledge. He told me, after more confidential relations had grown up
between us, that he suspected me of an intention, by some means or other,
to get possession of his precious _materia medica_, and so deprive him
of his means of living. However, his fears were removed by repeated
assurances that it was information only that I wanted, and that I was
consulting him just because I preferred to get it direct from a professor
of repute rather than trust to reports received from white men. At length
we persuaded him to be gently catechized. I got some precise answers to
my questions respecting certain articles of Dyak belief which had been
variously defined by different investigators, and about which my ideas
had been a good deal confused. But those matters are not the subject
of this note. It is the concluding incident of the rather prolonged
interview that I propose to describe.

“We had talked to one another so pleasantly and frankly that I thought
I might ask Dasu as a great favour to show me his _lupong_, or
medicine-chest, and the charms of power which it contained. It was quite
evident that this aroused his suspicions again, and he retired within
himself as before. But the principal people of the house, who were
sitting by us, urged him to consent, and, as old acquaintances of mine,
assured him of my good faith. So he was at last persuaded, and went to
his own room to fetch the treasure.

“As I have said, the good mats of the household, as is usual when it
is intended to show respect to a visitor, had been taken down for our
accommodation from the place where they are stored. But we now saw that
the most valued of them all had been held in reserve. This, which was
made of fine and very flexible _rotan_, the latest triumph of the skill
and industry of our courteous hostess, Ipah, Brok’s wife, was now handed
down and spread in front of us for the reception of the great man and the
mysterious implements of his profession. After some considerable delay,
probably intended to excite our curiosity the more, he appeared, and
sat down on the mat prepared for him, a subdued murmur of applause and
satisfaction greeting him as he took his seat.

“A _manang’s lupong_, or case for holding his charms, may be almost
anything. Sometimes it is a box, sometimes a basket, sometimes a bag.
In this instance it was an open-mouthed basket made of thin shavings of
bamboo hung round the neck of the owner by a strip of bark.

“Before beginning the exhibition, Dasu made a little formal speech,
in which, with much show of humility, he spoke in depreciation of his
own powers and knowledge and of his collection of remedial charms, as
compared with those of other members of the profession elsewhere. These
remarks were of course received with complimentary expressions of dissent
from the audience; and then at last the contents of the basket were
displayed before us. They were tied up together in a cloth bag, the most
highly-prized being further enclosed in special receptacles of their own,
such as a second cloth covering, a little bamboo box with a lid, or a
match-box. They were ceremoniously brought out, and placed side by side
on the mat of honour. I was then invited to handle and examine them, and
the name and use of each were told me without any fresh indication of
unwillingness. This is a list of them:

“1. _Batu bintang_, or star-stone. A small, transparent stone rounded by
the action of water till it was almost spherical, with a rather rough
surface. The _manang_ looked upon it as his badge of authority, and told
the following story of the way he became possessed of it. Many years ago,
in the interval between harvest and the next seed-time, he was working as
a cooly in Upper Sarawak. There he had a dream in which he was visited
by the being whom he looked upon as his guardian spirit. As in all cases
when this spirit has had any communication to make to him, it appeared in
the form of a tortoise. It told him that he must forthwith put himself
under instruction in order to be qualified for the office of a _manang_;
and that if he neglected this command all the spirits would be angry, and
death or madness would be the penalty. When he awoke he found the _batu
bintang_ by his side, and had no doubt it was the gift of the spirit.
Accordingly, he did as he was bidden without loss of time. He acquired
the professional knowledge and the stock-in-trade which were necessary,
and was at last duly initiated with all the proper rites and ceremonies.

“2. _Batu krat ikan sembilan_, or the petrified section of the Sembilan
fish. This was a curious object which I could not quite make out. It was
oblong in shape, about two inches long, one inch broad, and half an inch
thick in the middle, but getting suddenly thinner towards the two edges
till it became not more than one-sixteenth of an inch. The thick part
was hollow, having a large, oval-shaped perforation going through it. It
resembled a section from the middle of a large winged seed, but heavy
for its size, and feeling like a stone. I could not of course test this
by cutting or scraping. When used it is soaked for a time in water; the
water is then given to the sick man to drink, or is rubbed gently upon
the part of his body which is affected.

“3. _Batu lintar_, or thunderbolt. A small, dark-coloured stone, about an
inch and a half long and a quarter of an inch thick at the base, tapering
to a sixteenth of an inch at the point, curved, and rather like a very
small rhinoceros horn, and highly polished. It was probably the same
kind of stone as that of which the stone implements found in the Malay
Peninsula are made, which is also called _batu lintar_. It is pressed
firmly against the body wherever pain is felt.

“4. _Batu nitar_, another name for thunderbolt. A minute, four-sided
crystal, half an inch long and about two lines thick. A charm to be used
only in extreme cases. It is dipped in water and then shaken over the
patient. If he starts when the drops of water fall upon his body he will
recover, otherwise he will die.

“5. _Batu krang jiranau_, or petrified root-stock of _jiranau_ (a
zingiberad?). They told us this is the Dyak name of a kind of wild
ginger. The word is curiously near to _jerangau_, or _jeringu_,
which Ridley says is _Acorus calamus_, ‘a plant much used by native
medicine-men’ (Wilkinson, ‘Malay-English Dictionary’). The thing so
called was possibly part of the backbone of some animal, bent double and
the two ends tied together, each vertebra brown and shining after long
use. A charm for dysentery and indigestion, and also for consumption.
It is dipped in oil and rubbed on the patient’s body in a downward

“6. _Batu ilau_, or sparkling stone, also called _batu kras_, or the
hard stone. A six-sided crystal, two inches long and three-quarters of
an inch thick. One end appeared to have been formerly stuck into some
sort of handle, as it was covered with _malau_, or lac. This is the
indispensable sight-stone to be looked into for a view of that which is
future, or distant, or otherwise invisible to the ordinary eyes. It is
specially used by _manangs_ for discovering where the soul of the sick
man, wandering away from the body, is concealing itself, or for detecting
the particular demon who is causing the illness.

“There were also, jumbled up together at the bottom of the bag, a number
of tusks of wild boar, pebbles, and other rubbish, but these were
pronounced to be _utai ngapa_—things of no importance. One article that
we hoped to find was absent. Dasu said he should be glad indeed to have
it, but it had never come in his way. It is the _batu burung endan_, or
pelican stone. He explained to us that this is a stone which has the
magical power of securing the presence and co-operation of a spirit who
dwells in the form of the _endan_ (_Pelicanus malaccensis_). When the
_manang_ is seeking to enter _Sabayan_, the spirit-world, in search of
the errant soul of a sick man, this demon can insure to him a swift and
unimpeded passage thither and back again.

“While Dasu was telling us the story of his vision of the tortoise spirit
who gave him the _batu bintang_, I watched his face carefully for any
sign that he believed or did not believe his account. I could not be
sure, but I am inclined to think he did not. He seemed relieved when we
had finished our examination of his possessions, and he could pack them
all up and carry them off to the security of his own dwelling.

“Several similar collections of charms have at different times been given
to me, obtained from _manangs_ who have become Christians, but it was
particularly interesting to me to have a set actually in use exhibited
and explained by their owner.”

The Dyak medicine-man, either by means of medicines, or by the use of
charms, or by his incantations, is supposed to be able to cure all
diseases. But, as I have said, the two terrible epidemics of cholera and
smallpox are beyond his powers. No witch-doctor will approach any case of
these, however well he may be paid.

So great is the fear of the Dyaks for either of these diseases that, when
a man falls ill of cholera, all his friends desert the house in which he
is, and he is left to manage for himself. In the case of smallpox those
who have already had the disease may stop and nurse their friends, but
the others all leave the house and build for themselves shelters in the
jungle. Very often people die of smallpox or cholera simply because they
are too ill to cook food, and have no one to attend to their wants.

When there is smallpox or cholera in the country, the Dyaks plant by the
path leading to the house a post with a cross-bar attached to it. This is
to show others that they may not come up to the house. To disregard such
a signpost is punishable according to Dyak law.

When I was stationed at Temudok, very early one morning, I heard someone
calling out from the landing-stage by the river-bank. I got out of bed,
and went to the veranda and shouted out to the man that he was to come
to the house if he had anything to say to me. He came half-way up the
hill, and then said that he was afraid to come any nearer. There were
two men dead of smallpox in his boat, and many others ill. Some of the
Dyaks in the boat were Christians whom I knew, some were not. We had a
conversation as to what it was best to do under the circumstances. The
first thing was to bury the two dead bodies. I had many planks, as the
carpenters were still at work at the Mission House, and two coffins were
soon made, the dead bodies placed in them and buried.

But what was to be done with those in the boat who were ill? I could not
have them at the Mission House, because the schoolboys lived there, and
also one room was used for services which the Christian Dyaks in Temudok
attended. I remembered there was a small Dyak house a little way up-river
which had been deserted not long before, and I told the Dyaks to take the
sick to that house, and I promised to supply them with food and anything
else they might require. Three of the crew were well, but there were
eight who had smallpox.

I sent a message up-river to the friends and relatives of these men,
and asked them to come themselves or send others to nurse them. I was
very much disappointed to find that only two women came in reply to
my request. The Dyaks are so afraid of smallpox that even those who
had already had smallpox, and need not have feared infection, were not
allowed by those who lived with them to nurse a suffering relative.

I shall never forget the first time I went to see these smallpox
patients. They lay in a row in the open veranda of the Dyak house—a
miserable sight. Plates of rice had been placed by them which they were
not able to eat. I had the place swept and cleaned, and the food taken
away. I took them some condensed milk and sugar, as well as other food.

Two of their number died; the others recovered. Before they returned
to their homes they came to me. I had them disinfected, burnt up their
clothes and mats, etc., and gave them each a piece of cloth for clothing.
I am glad to say they did not take the infection to their houses.



    Certain religious observances—_Petara_, or gods—Singalang
    Burong, the god of war—Pulang Gana, the god of
    the soil—Salampandai, the maker of men—_Mali_, or
    taboo—Spirits—Girgasi, the chief of evil spirits—The dogs
    of the spirits—Stories—Customs connected with the belief in
    spirits—Sacrifices—_Piring_ and _ginselan_—The victim of the
    sacrifice generally eaten, but not always—Material benefits
    expected by the Dyaks by their religious ceremonies—_Nampok_,
    a means of communicating with spirits—_Batu kudi_, “stones of
    wrath”—Belief in a future life—Conclusion.

The Dyaks have no special forms of worship, nor do they build temples in
honour of their gods, and yet they certainly have a religion of their
own. They believe in certain gods and spirits, who are supposed to rule
over different departments of life, and they have certain religious
observances which may be classed as follows:

1. The killing and eating of fowls and pigs offered in sacrifice, of
which a portion is set aside for the gods.

2. The propitiation of gods and spirits by offerings of food.

3. The use of omens and augury.

4. The singing of long incantations to the gods and spirits on certain

The Dyaks have only one word, _Petara_, to denote the deity, and there
is no literature to appeal to in order to explain this word. We have to
depend upon what the Dyaks can tell us themselves, and also upon what
we can gather from the different _pengap_—long incantations made on such
semi-sacred occasions as the offering of sacrifices at feasts. These
_pengap_ are handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth.
Some Dyaks have good memories, and are able to learn and repeat them.

The general idea is that there are many _Petara_, but the whole subject
is one upon which Dyaks have very hazy ideas. They cannot give a
connected and lucid account of their belief. They all admit, however,
that the _Petara_ are supernatural beings, who are invisible and have
superior powers.

But their conception of gods is a very low one, and this is not to be
wondered at, because, as is well known, the grosser the nature of a
people, the grosser will be their conception of a deity or of deities. We
can hardly expect a high and spiritual conception of gods from Dyaks in
their present intellectual condition. Their _Petara_ are most human-like
beings. They are represented as delighting in a “feast of rice, and pork,
and venison, cakes and drink,” just as the Dyaks themselves do; and yet
they are the beings who can bestow the highest blessings the Dyaks can

Although the conception of _Petara_ is not an exalted one, yet he is a
good being, and no evil is attributed to him. He is always on the side of
justice and right. The ordeal of diving is an appeal to _Petara_ to help
the innocent and overthrow the guilty. He is supposed to be angry at acts
of wickedness, and I have often heard a Dyak say that he dare not commit
some particular crime, because he fears the displeasure and punishment of
_Petara_. He may be able to hide his wickedness from the eyes of man, but
not from the _Petara_.

There are a large number of gods mentioned by name in the Dyak
incantations, but the following are the most important deities:

Singalang Burong takes the highest position in honour and dignity, and
is the ruler of the spirit-world. He stands at the head of the Dyak
pedigree, and they trace their descent from him, for he is believed
to have once lived on earth as a man. It is doubtful what the word
_Singalang_ means, but _Burong_ means “bird,” and probably _Singalang
Burong_ means “bird chief.” The Dyaks are great observers of omens, as
is noticed in Chapter XII., and among their omens the cries and flight
of certain birds are most important. All these birds are supposed to be
manifestations of the spirit sons-in-law of Singalang Burong, who is
himself manifested in the white and brown hawk which is known by his name.

Singalang Burong is also the god of war, and the guardian spirit of brave
men. He delights in fighting, and head-taking is his glory. When Dyaks
have obtained a human head, they make a great feast in his honour and
invoke his presence. He is the only god ever represented by the Dyaks
in a material form. It is a carved, highly-coloured bird of grotesque
shape. This figure is erected on the top of a pole thirty feet or more in
height, with its beak pointing in the direction of the enemy’s country,
so that he may “peck at the eyes of the enemy.”

Next in importance to Singalang Burong is Pulang Gana. He is the tutelary
deity of the soil, and presides over the rice-farming. He is an important
power in Dyak belief, and to him offerings are made and incantations are
sung at the _Gawai Batu_, the “Stone Feast,” which takes place before the
farming operations begin, and also at the _Gawai Benih_, the “Festival
of the Seed,” just before the planting of the paddy. Upon his good-will,
according to Dyak belief, is supposed to depend their supply of the staff
of life. His history is given in a myth handed down from ancient times
(see p. 300).

Salampandai is the maker of men. He hammers them into shape out of
clay, and forms the bodies of children to be born into the world. There
is an insect which makes at night the curious noise—_kink-a-clink,
kink-a-clink_. When the Dyaks hear this, they say it is Salampandai at
his work. The story goes that he was commanded by the gods to make a man,
and he made one of stone; but it could not speak, and so was rejected. He
set to work again and made one of iron; but neither could that speak, so
the gods refused it. The third time he made one of clay,[1] and this had
the power of speech. The gods, _Petara_, were pleased, and said: “The man
you have made will do well. Let him be the ancestor of the human race,
and you must make others like him.” And so Salampandai began forming
human beings, and is forming them now at his anvil, using his tools in
unseen regions. There he hammers them out, and when each child is formed
it is brought to the _Petara_, who asks: “What would you like to handle
and use?” If it answer, “A sword,” the gods pronounce it a male; but if
it answer, “Cotton and the spinning-wheel,” it is pronounced a female.
Thus they are born as boys or girls, according to their own wishes.

There is a word which is often used by the Dyaks—_mali_. It is difficult
to find an exact English equivalent to the word. We may say it means
“sacred,” or “forbidden,” or “taboo,” but none of these seems to me
to convey the full force of the word _mali_. To the Dyak mind, to do
anything _mali_ is to incur the displeasure of the gods and spirits, and
that means not only misfortune in this world, but for all time. Even the
children seem to dread the word, and the little boy, who is wilful and
disobedient, will at once drop what he has in his hand if he is told it
is _mali_ for him to touch it. There are many things which the Dyaks say
it is _mali_ to do. Often they can give no reason for it except that it
has always been so from ages past.

Most races of mankind believe in the existence of a class of beings
intermediate between deity and humanity. The Dyak is no exception, and he
believes that innumerable spirits, or _antu_, inhabit the forests, the
rivers, the earth, and the heavens; but whereas among other races the
spirits seem to act as mediators between the gods and mankind, this is
not the case among the Dyaks, because they believe that their gods are
actually present in answer to invocations and sacrifices, and that they
visit these human regions and partake of the food given them. With the
Dyaks the distinction between spirits—_antu_—and gods—_Petara_—is very
vague. There are both good and evil spirits. The former assist man, the
latter do him injury. Of the gods no evil is predicated, and so it comes
to pass that the good spirits are closely identified with their gods.

Any unusual noise or motion in the jungle, anything which suggests to the
mind some invisible operation, is at once attributed by the Dyak to the
presence of some spirit, unseen by human eyes, but full of mighty power.
Though generally invisible, these spirits sometimes vouchsafe to mankind
a revelation of themselves. The form they assume in these manifestations
is not anything very supernatural, but either a commonplace human form,
or else some animal—a bird, or a monkey—such as is often seen in the
forests. There is, however, the chief of evil spirits, Girgasi by name,
who, when seen, takes the form of a giant about three times the size of a
man, is covered with rough shaggy hair, and has eyes as big as saucers,
and huge glittering teeth.

There are innumerable stories told by the Dyaks of their meeting with
spirits in the jungle, and sometimes speaking to them. Such stories
generally relate how the man who sees the spirit rushes to catch him by
the leg—he cannot reach higher—in order to get some charms from him, but
he is generally foiled in his attempt, as the spirit suddenly vanishes.
But some men, it is believed, do obtain these much coveted gifts. If a
Dyak gets a good harvest of paddy, it is attributed to some magic charm
he has received from some kindly spirit. Also, if he be successful on
the warpath, he is credited by his fellows with the succour of some
mysterious being from the spirit-world.

The spirits rove about the jungle and hunt for wild beasts, as the Dyaks
do themselves. Girgasi, already mentioned, is specially addicted to the
chase, and is often to be met with hunting in the forest, and when seen
assumes a formidable appearance. There are certain animals which roam
about in packs in the jungle, and are called by the Dyaks _pasan_. These
are supposed to be the dogs that accompany the spirits when they are out
hunting, and they attack those whom the spirits wish to kill. I have
never seen one of these animals, but to judge from the description of
them, they seem to be a kind of small jackal. They will follow and bark
at men, and from their supposed connection with the spirits are greatly
feared by the Dyaks, who generally run away from them as fast as they can.

A Dyak in Banting solemnly told me that one day when out hunting he met a
spirit in human form sitting upon a fallen tree. Nothing daunted, he went
up and sat upon the same tree, and entered into conversation with him,
and asked him for some charm. The spirit gave him some magic medicine,
which would give his dogs pluck to attack any wild pig or deer so long as
he retained possession of it. Having given him this, the spirit advised
the man to return quickly, for his dogs, he said, would be back soon, and
might do him harm. This advice he willingly followed, and hurried away as
fast as he could.

There are some wonderful stories related about meeting the demon Girgasi.
It is said that a man once saw this terrible spirit returning from the
hunt, carrying on his back a captured Dyak whom he recognized. Strange
to relate, the man died the same day on which he was seen carried by the

The spirits are said to build their invisible habitations in trees,
and many trees are considered sacred as being the abode of one or more
spirits, and to cut down one of these trees would provoke the spirits’
vengeance. The wild fig-tree (_kara_) is often supposed to be inhabited
by spirits. It is said that one way of testing whether the _kara_ tree is
the abode of spirits or not is to strike an axe into it at sunset, and
leave it fixed in the trunk of the tree during the night. If the axe be
found next morning in the same position, no spirit is there; if it has
fallen to the ground, he is there and has displaced the axe!

The tops of the hills are favourite haunts for spirits. When Dyaks fell
the jungle of the larger hills, they always leave a clump of trees at the
summit as a refuge for the spirits. To leave them quite homeless would be
to court certain disaster from them. According to Dyak belief the evil
spirits far outnumber the good ones.

There are many strange customs connected with the Dyak belief in spirits.
As all illnesses are caused by the spirits, it is necessary that these be
propitiated. When there is any great epidemic in the country—when cholera
or smallpox is killing its hundreds on all sides—one often notices little
offerings of food hung on the walls and from the ceiling, animals killed
in sacrifice, and blood splashed on the posts of the houses. When one
asks why all this is done, they say they do it in the hope that when the
evil spirit, who is thirsting for human lives, comes along and sees the
offerings they have made and the animals killed in sacrifice, he will be
satisfied with these things, and not take the lives of any of the people
living in the Dyak village house.

As a matter of fact, this offering of sacrifices to the evil spirits is
a frequently recurring feature in Dyak life. The gods are good, and will
not injure them, and so the Dyaks worship them at their own convenience,
when they wish to obtain any special favour from them. But the evil
spirits are always ready to do them harm, and to take the lives of
victims, and therefore sacrifices must constantly be made to the spirits,
who will accept sacrificial food as a substitute for the lives of human

From what has been said it will be seen that the spirits are to the Dyaks
not mere apparitions which come and go without any special object, but
have definite power, and can either bestow favours or cause sickness
and death. Therefore they rule the conduct of the Dyak, and receive
religious homage. They are, indeed, a constituent and important part of
Dyak religion.

The sacrifices offered by the Dyaks are of two kinds—_piring_ and

The _piring_ is an offering composed of rice cooked in bamboos, cakes,
eggs, sweet potatoes, plantains, or other fruit, and sometimes small live
chickens. If the offering be made in the house these things are put on
a brass dish (_tabak_). If the occasion of the sacrifice requires that
it be offered elsewhere, a little platform is constructed, consisting of
pieces of wood tied together with cane, and fixed on four sticks stuck in
the ground. This is the _para piring_ (the altar of sacrifice), and the
offering is laid on it. It is covered with a rough roof of palm-leaf, and
looks like a miniature native house, and is decorated with white flags.
It is the most flimsy thing imaginable, and soon tumbles to pieces. The
god or spirit is supposed to come and eat the good things provided, and
go away contented. It is no use arguing with the Dyak that he can see for
himself that his offering is eaten up by fowls, or pigs, or boys, who are
full of mischief, and have no fear of spirits. The Dyak says the spirits
eat the soul or spirit of the food; what is left on the altar is only its
outer husk, not its true essence.

I remember when I was staying at Temudok the Dyaks put up a little shed,
with offerings of food, at the landing-place on the bank of the river.
There was an epidemic of cholera at the time, and the spirits of disease
were supposed to eat these offerings and go away contented. Among the
offerings was a little live chicken, that was tied to the _para piring_,
but which managed to get loose. Some of the schoolboys staying with me
asked if they might catch the chicken, which was running about in the
grass, and rear it. I did not like to allow them to do this, because I
thought the Dyaks would resent the boys interfering with their sacrifice.
But my Dyak catechist told me that the Dyaks had done their duty in
making the offerings, and what happened afterwards to the things offered
did not matter. So the boys caught the chicken and reared it. I spoke to
the Dyaks about it afterwards, and they did not seem to mind their “altar
of sacrifice” being robbed of its offering!

In the _ginselan_ there is always some animal slain, and the blood of
the victim is used. The person on whose behalf the offering is made
is sprinkled or touched with the blood to atone for any wrong he may
have done, and the house or farm upon which the blessing of the gods is
desired is also sprinkled with the blood.

This kind of sacrifice is very often offered on behalf of farms, and no
Dyak thinks his paddy will come to maturity without some application of
blood. The fowl is waved in the air over the farm, then it is killed, and
the blood sprinkled over the growing paddy.

When there is an epidemic, the _ginselan_ is often offered to the spirits
of disease, and blood is sprinkled on the posts of the house and on the
ladder leading up to it.

On most occasions the victim of the sacrifice, be it pig or fowl,
is afterwards eaten. But if the sacrifice be to Pulang Gana at the
commencement of the farming, the pig and other offerings are conveyed
with the beating of gongs to the land prepared for receiving the seed.
The pig is killed, its liver and gall examined for divination, the body
and other offerings put in the ground, and some _tuak_ (native spirit)
poured upon them; a long invocation is then made to Pulang Gana, the god
of the land. If a fowl be sacrificed for adultery, its body is thrown
away in the jungle.

For all ordinary sacrifices a fowl suffices, but on great occasions a
pig, being the largest animal the Dyak domesticates, is killed.

Anyone may offer these sacrifices. There does not seem to be among the
Dyaks any priestly order whose duty it is to officiate at religious
ceremonies. Any man who has been fortunate in life, or knows the form of
address to be used to the deities on these occasions, may perform the
sacrificial function.

All that the Dyak hopes to get by his religious ceremonies is material
benefits—good crops of paddy, the heads of his enemies, skill in craft,
health, and prosperity. Even when there is some idea of the propitiation
for sin, as in the slaying of a victim after an act of adultery, the idea
of the Dyak is not so much the cleansing of the offender as the appeasing
of the anger of the gods, because in their anger the gods may destroy
their crops or otherwise give them trouble. There is no idea of seeking
for pardon for the offenders. It is merely a compensation for wrong done,
and a bargain with the gods to protect their material interests.

The longing to communicate with the supernatural is common to all races
of mankind. The Dyak has a special means of bringing this about; he has
a custom which is called _nampok_. To _nampok_ is to sleep on the top of
some mountain, or other lonely place, in the hope of meeting some good
spirit from the unseen world. A cemetery is a favourite place to _nampok_
in, because the Dyaks think there is great probability of meeting spirits
in such places. The undertaking requires considerable pluck. The man must
be quite alone, and he must let no one know of his whereabouts. The
spirit he meets may take any form; he may come in human form and treat
him kindly, or he may assume a hideous form and attack him.

A man _nampoks_ for one of two reasons. Either he is fired with great
ambition to shine in deeds of strength and bravery, and to attain the
position of a Chief, and hopes to receive some charm (_pengaroh_) from
the spirits, or he is suffering from some obstinate disease, and hopes to
be told by some kindly spirit what he must do in order to be cured. It
can easily be understood how the desire would in many cases bring about
its own fulfilment. The unusual surroundings, the expected arrival of
some supernatural being, the earnest wish acting upon a credulous and
superstitious imagination in the solemn solitude of the jungle—all would
help to make the man dream of some spirit or mythical hero.

The Dyak has no temple erected in honour of some god to which, like the
ancients of the Western World, he can make a pilgrimage. He has no altar
before which he can spend the night in order to receive revelations in
dreams, but he goes instead to the lonely mountain-top, or the cemetery
where so many heroes of the past have been buried, and makes his offering
and lies to rest beside it. The circumstances are different, but the
spirit and the object in both cases are the same. The story often told of
a miraculous cure is also similar in each case.

There are certain rocks in different parts of Borneo which are called by
the Dyaks _batu kudi_ (stones caused by the wrath of the gods). A story
is related in connection with each. The following are some of these
mythical stories:—

1. In the bed of the Sesang River there is a rock which is only visible
at the lowest of the ebb-tide. It is called _Batu Kudi Sabar_. The story
goes that in olden days the inmates of a Dyak house tied to a dog’s tail
a piece of wood, which they set alight. They all laughed at the sight as
the dog ran off in fright, dragging after him the burning torch. Suddenly
there was darkness, and a great storm came on. There were thunder and
lightning, and torrents of rain, and the house and its inmates were
turned into this large rock. A family consisting of three persons managed
to escape. They did not join in the laughter at the dog, but ran out of
the house and hid in a clump of bamboo. They saw all that happened, and
told the tale.

2. On the bank of the Krian River just above Temudok is a large rock
called _Batu Kudi Siap_. It is said that the people in a long Dyak house
held a feast to which many invited guests came. An old woman who was
living alone in a farm-hut, and had not been asked to the feast, dressed
up a cat in finery, “like a young damsel going to a feast,” tied a piece
of wood to her tail, and, placing her before the people, said: “Here is
a girl come to you to ask for a light.” The people laughed at the cat.
Instantly there were darkness and a terrible storm, and the house and all
the inmates were turned to stone. A similar tale is told of the _Batu
Kudi_ at Selanjan.

[Illustration: A RIVER SCENE

The illustration shows some native huts by a river which flows through a
cocoanut plantation.]

3. There are _Batu Kudi_ in the Grenjang River, as well as in the Undup
and Batang Ai Rivers, of which the following tale is told: Two girls were
standing in the water catching fish with a fishing-basket (_pemansai_).
A small _emplasi_ fish jumped out of the basket, and hit the breast of
one of the girls. She laughed, and said: “Even my lover would not dare to
touch my breast as you do.” Her companion also laughed at the fish. There
was a storm, accompanied by lightning and thunder, and both girls were
turned into rocks.

4. In the Saribas River there is a _Batu Kudi_, of which the following
tale is told: Some men and boys were watching a monkey crossing the river
on a creeper which hung low down over the water. The tail of the animal
touched the water, and one of them laughed, and said: “The end of his
waist-cloth (_sirat_) is wet; why was he so foolish as not to tie it
round his waist?” At this remark all laughed, and a terrible storm came
on, and they were turned to stone.

There is a similarity about all these stories. In each some animal is
made fun of and laughed at by human beings. This incurs the displeasure
of the gods, whose anger is shown in the same way—a terrible storm,
thunder and lightning, and the turning of the offenders into stone.

There are, however, other _Batu Kudi_ of which different stories are
told, but these are not so common. For instance, in the Skrang River
there are two large black boulders which are said to be a brother and
sister who were guilty of the crime of incest; and in the Sebuyau River
there is a collection of rocks said to be the inhabitants of a whole
village, who were guilty of a serious breach of the law of hospitality,
and refused to give food and shelter to some travellers.

The moral of these mythical tales is good. All sin is displeasing to the
gods, and will meet with deserved punishment, but specially are they
angry when they see human beings ill-treat and ridicule dumb animals.

These _Batu Kudi_ are not worshipped. Offerings of food are sometimes
seen hanging near them, but these are not made to the “stones of wrath,”
but to the gods of whose displeasure they are the testimony.

The Sea Dyak belief in a future life has already been mentioned in the
chapter on Burial Rites. But it is no gloomy Tartarus, nor is it a happy
Elysium, that lies before him. It is simply a prolongation of the present
state of things in a new sphere. The dead are supposed to build houses,
make paddy farms, and go through all the drudgery of a labouring life in
that other world. This future life does not, in the mind of the Dyak,
mean immortality. Death is still the final and inevitable destiny of man.
He may live many lives in different spheres—he may die as often as seven
times—but in the end he becomes annihilated, and absorbed into air, or
earth, or certain jungle plants.

To sum up, the Sea Dyak worships his gods. There are good spirits ready
to help him, and evil spirits eager to harm him. He has omens and
divination and dreams to encourage or warn him. The traditions of his
ancestors, handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation,
are his authority for his beliefs. He makes sacrifices to the gods and
spirits, and invokes their help in long incantations. He believes he
has a soul which after death will live in another world a future life
differing little from his existence in the flesh.



    Four classes of feasts—Preparations—Feasts connected
    with: 1, Head-taking; 2, Farming; 3, The dead; 4, Dreams,
    etc.—House-warming—Social feasts.

The Dyak religious feasts may be divided into the four following classes:

Those connected with—

    1. Head-taking.
    2. Farming.
    3. The dead.
    4. Dreams, etc.

Though the Dyak feasts differ in their aims, there is a great deal
which seems to be common to them all. The social character of all these
feasts seems to be of more importance than the religious aspect, and
the feasting of the guests has more consideration than the making of
offerings to the spirits or gods. In none of these feasts does there
seem to be any real, reverential, religious worship. It is true food is
offered to the spirits, but this is done as the mere observance of an
ancient custom, without any approach to religious reverence. There are
also long incantations made to the higher powers by men selected for that
purpose, who have good memories and can recite in a monotonous chant the
special hymns of great length connected with each feast. But the guests
do not share in it as an act of religious worship. They are generally
sitting round, talking and laughing and eating. While these incantations
are sung, topics of common interest are discussed and plans formed, and
in all these feasts sociability, friendship, and the partaking of food
and drink seem to take a more prominent place than any religious worship.

The preparations for all these feasts are much alike. They extend over
a length of time, and consist for the most part in the procuring of
food for the guests. The young men go to their friends, far and near,
and obtain from them presents of pigs or fowls for the feast, and as
cock-fighting is loved by the Dyaks, they at the same time procure as
many fighting-cocks as possible. The women busy themselves with pounding
out an extra amount of rice, both for the consumption of the guests and
also for the making of _tuak_, or native spirit.

A little before the date fixed for the feast a great _tuba_ fishing takes
place, by which means a great amount of fish is generally obtained,
salted, and kept for consumption at the feast. The men go out into the
jungle to hunt for pig and deer.

The special characteristics and religious aspect of the different feasts
must now be noticed.

1. FEASTS CONNECTED WITH HEAD-TAKING.—All these are given in honour of
Singalang Burong. He is supposed to be the ruler of the spirit-world
and the god of war. These feasts are not held so frequently as those
connected with farming, but when any of them take place a great deal is
made of the event.

[Illustration: COCK FIGHTING

A rehearsal. Two Dyak youths matching their cocks in friendly contest.]

1. _Gawai Burong_ (the “Bird Feast”), or _Gawai Tenyalang_ (the “Hornbill
Feast”), or _Gawai Pala_ (the “Head Feast”). This feast, which is known
by different names, is the most important of Dyak feasts, and lasts three
days, whereas other feasts last only one day. In this feast food is given
to the human heads taken in war. In the old days, it was only held on the
return from a successful war expedition, when the heads of the enemy were
brought home in triumph. But in the present day, this feast is organized
when the people of the Dyak house get a good harvest and wish to have it.

Among the preparations for this feast is the making of the _tenyalang_,
a carved wooden figure of the rhinoceros hornbill. Some men carrying
offerings, and others beating drums and playing musical instruments, go
to the jungle and select a suitable tree. At the foot of it the offerings
are placed, and some fowls are killed and the blood sprinkled on the
ground to propitiate the spirits. The tree is felled, and a portion
of it, which is to be carved, is taken to the Dyak house, where it is
received with much rejoicing.

This wood is given to the men who are to carve it into the desired shape,
and each man has the necessary tools given him. When he has finished
his work, he keeps these tools, and, in addition, receives some other
payment. The number of carved birds differs according to the number of
the people in the house who are of importance, and have taken heads in

The _tenyalang_ are not an exact copy of the hornbill, but are
elaborately and fantastically carved and gorgeously painted in many
bright colours.

Some men go into the jungle and cut down _belian_ trees to make poles on
which the figures of the rhinoceros hornbill are to be set up. These are
of different lengths, according to the rank of the person who intends to
use it, the man of greatest importance having the longest pole.

The first day of the feast is spent in completing the carving and the
colouring of these _tenyalang_ and making other final preparations. The
guests are entertained with food and drink. As Dyak hosts are considered
niggardly if there is no drunkenness at a feast, the young men are
encouraged to drink as much as possible. The Dyak girls, who do not drink
themselves, serve out the _tuak_, or native spirit. They hand a cup of
liquor to a man and shout, “_Weh! Weh!_” as he drinks it. When he has
finished it, he puts the cup down by his side to take home with him when
the feast is over. Another full cup is handed to him in the same manner,
and he goes on drinking until he is unable to do so any longer. A group
of young men seated in the public hall of the Dyak house surrounded by
gaily-dressed girls serving them with drink is not a pleasant sight. The
noise and confusion are great, as many are drunk. Plates containing cakes
and other delicacies, as well as rice cooked in bamboos, are handed round
to the men, women, and children at short intervals.

A rather pretty ceremony takes place on the first day of the feast.
A number of women dressed in their best garments and wearing all the
jewellery and ornaments they possess, walk in single file, holding in
their hands plates of yellow rice and paddy. They are led by a Dyak
dancer in full war-dress, armed with sword and shield, and dancing to the
accompaniment of musical instruments. The women sprinkle the paddy and
yellow rice on the assembled guests as they walk slowly the length of the
whole house.


The girls on the right and left wear collars worked with beads and
coloured threads. They are all wearing ear pendants and belts made of
silver coins.]

On the second day of the feast the painted figures of the rhinoceros
hornbill are first of all _timanged_, or sung to in a monotonous manner.
This is looked upon as a kind of consecration of them. They are now
ready to be fixed on the top of the poles which are planted in a row.
Sacrifices are made to Singalang Burong, whom these figures are supposed
to represent. Balls of rice are thrown up to these carved _tenyalang_,
and the blood of pigs and fowls is shed in honour of the great Singalang
Burong, the god of war and the inspirer of bravery. When seen, this god
takes, as I have said, the form of the white and brown hawk so common in
Borneo. Why the figure made to represent him is that of the rhinoceros
hornbill, and not that of the hawk, is an inconsistency for which the
Dyaks have no explanation.

Some human heads are placed in large brass dishes in the public hall of
the Dyak house, and to these offerings of food and drink are made. Some
of this food is stuffed into the mouths of these heads, and the rest is
placed before them.

There are also certain erections called _pandong_ put up at regular
intervals in the long public veranda, and to these are hung war charms
and swords and spears, etc. The men who are to make the incantations
walk up and down, going round the _pandong_ and the heads in the brass
dishes, singing the particular _pengap_, or incantation, which is used
at this feast. There are generally two principal singers, each of whom
is followed by five or six others. The leaders sing in turn a few lines,
and the rest join in the chorus at the end of each verse. The leaders are
dressed gaily, and have, in addition to their Dyak dress, a long coat
reaching to the ground. They all hold long walking-sticks in their hands
and stamp their feet as they walk along.

This song of the head feast takes the form of a story setting forth
how the mythical hero Klieng held a head feast on his return from the
warpath, and invited the god of war, Singalang Burong, to attend it. It
describes at great length all that happened on that occasion. The singing
of this song takes up the whole night. It begins before 8 p.m., and lasts
till next morning. Except for a short interval for rest in the middle of
the night, the performers are marching and singing all the time.

On the third day the people go out on the _tanju_, or open-air platform,
in front of the Dyak house. They take with them offerings of food and
drink and a live pig. The mats are spread out, and the guests sit down,
and food is handed round to them. The men of rank and those who have
distinguished themselves in battle sit together, and the oldest of these
is asked to make the offering to Singalang Burong. The drums are struck
in a particular manner called _pepat_; the pig is killed as a sacrifice,
and the liver examined to find out whether good or bad fortune is in
store for them. The people shout together (_manjong_) at short intervals
until a hawk is seen flying in the heavens. That hawk is Singalang
Burong, who has taken that form to manifest himself to them. He has
accepted their offerings and has heard their cry. The ceremony is over,
and the crowd return into the house. The guests go back to their homes
after feasting and drinking liberally for three days and nights.

(2) _Gawai Ijok_ (the “_Ijok_ Feast”): The _ijok_ is the gamuti palm
from which the native drink _tuak_ is obtained. When a man has held
the hornbill feast several times, and has been successful against the
enemy, this feast sometimes takes place. The special characteristic of
this feast is that a long pole is set up, and at the top of it a jar of
native spirit (_tuak_) is placed. Incantations and offerings are made to
Singalang Burong as in the former feast.

(3) _Gawai Gajah_ (the “Elephant Feast”): This feast can only be held by
a war leader who has been particularly successful against the enemy, and
has succeeded in obtaining a large number of heads. It is of so great
importance that the Dyaks say that, after this feast has been held, no
other need be held in honour of any new heads that may be brought into
the house. It is very rarely observed in modern times. The last was
held some fifteen years ago by Kinching, a Skrang Dyak living in the
Undup. Offerings and incantations are made to Singalang Burong as in the
_Tenyalang_ feast. The wooden figure of an elephant is placed on the top
of a long pole planted in the ground, and to this figure offerings are

2. The three principal FEASTS CONNECTED WITH FARMING are the _Gawai
Batu_, the _Gawai Benih_, and the _Gawai Nyimpan Padi_.

(1) _Gawai Batu_ (the “Stone Feast”): This feast takes place before the
farming operations begin, and is in honour of Pulang Gana, the god of
the land, who lives in the bowels of the earth, and has power to make
the land fruitful or unfruitful. In this feast invocations are made to
this god, and he is asked to give them a good harvest. The whetstones
and farming implements are placed in a heap in the veranda of the Dyak
house, and offerings are made to the whetstones with a request that they
may sharpen their tools and thus lighten their labours. After the feast
is over the whetstones are taken to the different farms, and the work of
cutting down the jungle for planting begins.

(2) _Gawai Benih_ (the “Seed Feast”): This feast is held just before
sowing. The seed is placed in baskets in the public part of the Dyak
house, and Pulang Gana is asked to bless it and make it fruitful.

(3) _Gawai Nyimpan Padi_ (the “Feast of Storing the Paddy”): This is held
after the reaping and winnowing are over and the paddy is ready to be
stored in the paddy-bins in the loft of the Dyak house. It is only held
when the harvest is a particularly good one. A blessing is asked upon
the paddy, that it may last a long time, and may not decrease in any
mysterious way. Friends who are invited to the feast help to carry and
store away the paddy.

3. The great FEAST CONNECTED WITH THE DEAD is the _Gawai Antu_ (the
“Spirit Feast”): No definite period is fixed for the celebration of it,
and it may be held one or more years after the death of the person. All
those that have died since the last time the feast was held, and have not
yet been honoured by this festival for the dead, are remembered at the
same time, so that the number of departed spirits commemorated by this
feast is great, especially if it is many years since the last time the
feast was held.

The preparation is carried on for many weeks. Food and drink and other
things are procured. Distant friends are visited and asked to help
the feast with gifts of food or money. When all is ready, the whole
neighbourhood for miles around is invited to it. It is an opportunity for
a friendly social gathering, and it is a formal laying aside of mourning,
but in addition, it is a religious ceremony, and means the doing of
certain things necessary for the final wellbeing of the dead in the other

The dead are invoked and invited to be present at this feast. But how
are they to come from Hades? Send a boat for them, says the Dyak, and so
he sends what he calls a _lumpang_. A piece of bamboo in which rice has
been cooked is make into a tiny boat and sent to Hades. Actually it is
thrown away beneath the house, but spiritually, through the incantation
of the wailer, it is carried to the unseen realm to fetch their dead
relatives and friends. Great is the joy of the spirits when they see this
boat, which by the time of its arrival has grown into a large war-boat.
They are ready to start as soon as the final summons comes.

The preparations for the feast go on. The hard wood memorial monuments
for the graves are got ready by the men. The day before the feast, the
women weave, with finely-split bamboo, small imitations of various
articles of personal and domestic use, and these are hung over the
graves—that is to say, given to the dead for their use in the other
world. If it be a man for whom the feast is made, a bamboo gun, a shield,
a war-cap, and such things are woven; if a woman, a loom, a fish-basket,
a winnowing fan, etc.; if a child, toys of various kinds.

An offering of food is put outside the house for the dead visitors who
may be too hungry to wait for the food in the house.

The living guests arrive during the day, but the feasting does not begin
till the evening. Before the feasting comes the formal putting off of
mourning. The nearest male relative of the dead person in whose honour
the feast is held comes dressed in an old waist-cloth or trousers. These
are slit through by some Chief, and the man assumes a better garment.
In the case of female relatives the _rotan_ rings round the waist are
cut through and set aside, and they resume the use of their personal
ornaments and jewellery. The bundles containing the finery, that were put
away at the death of their relative, are brought forth, and the string
tying them cut through. As the feast is in honour of several who have
died since the feast was last held, this kind of thing goes on in several
of the rooms at the same time.

The professional wailer sings her song of mourning (see p. 228),
beginning in the evening. The journey from Hades is so long that the dead
do not arrive till early dawn. And then occurs an action in which the
dead and living are supposed to join. A portion of _tuak_ (rice spirit)
has been reserved in a bamboo as the peculiar portion of the dead. It
is now drunk by some old man renowned for bravery, who is not afraid of
so near a contact with the spirits of the dead. This “drinking of the
bamboo,” as it is called, is an important part of the festival, and is
greeted with shouts of joy.

The morning after the feast, the last duty to the dead is performed. The
ironwood monuments, the bamboo imitation articles, and food of all kinds
are arranged upon the different graves. Having received these gifts,
the dead relinquish all claim upon the living, and depend on their own
resources. But before the _Gawai Antu_ they are supposed to come to the
house and take their share of the food and drink.

According to ancient custom, this feast could not be held until a new
human head had been procured, but this ghastly ornament to the festival
has now generally to be dispensed with.

4. A superstitious people like the Dyaks, living in constant dread of
unseen powers, naturally hold a feast whenever anything unusual takes
place. As the gods and spirits are supposed to communicate their wishes
to human beings by means of dreams, it naturally follows that if a man
dreams that some spirit is hungry and asks for food, at once a feast
is held, and offerings made to that spirit. As the omens of birds are
observed and obeyed by the Dyaks, and the special omen birds are looked
upon as sons-in-law and messengers of the great god Singalang Burong,
when a bird of ill omen comes into a Dyak house, the Dyaks hold a feast
and make offerings to the gods and spirits. When a man has recovered from
a long and dangerous illness, very often a feast is held to thank the
spirit of disease for leaving them, and to beg him to stay away a long
time. Also when a valuable jar (_tajau_) is brought into a house a feast
is often made in its honour.

In addition to all these feasts, there is the _Gawai Mandi Rumah_. This
is a kind of house-warming, and is held when the Dyaks go into a new
house. Offerings are made to the gods and spirits, and a blessing is
asked upon the new house, so that those who live in it may have good
crops, good health, and live happily together.

The Dyaks also sometimes hold feasts which are social gatherings for
eating and drinking, and have no connection with any religious idea.
These are called _Makai di ruai_ (“eating in the hall”), or _Makai rami_
(“eating joyfully in large numbers”).



    Dyak games—Football—War Dance—Sword Dance—Dyak
    music—Cock-fighting—Tops—“Riding the tidal
    bore”—Swimming—Trials of strength.

At certain times of the year the Dyaks are very busy at their farms, and
go to work early in the morning, and do not return till late at night.
But they have their slack times, when there is not so much work to be
done, and then they have plenty of opportunity to indulge in games.

They do not seem to have a large variety of pastimes. The following are
those most popular among them.

Football is played by the Dyaks in a curious manner. The players stand
in a circle about four yards from each other, the size of this circle
varying according to the number of the players. The ball is kicked in
the air by the player to whom it falls nearest. This kicking is done
in a curious manner with the sole of the foot. A party of good players
will keep a ball in the air for several minutes, each player kicking it
upwards just as it is about to fall, or as it bounds upwards from the
ground. The ball itself is a light hollow one of rattan open-work, and is
about the size of a croquet-ball.

The Dyaks are fond of dancing, and at their feasts and on other
occasions when many are met together, they will keep it up for hours to
the thumping of drums and the beating of brass gongs. They have a musical
instrument of bamboo, like the pan-pipe (_engkrurai_), to which they
sometimes dance; but the usual music on such occasions is a row of small
brass gongs (_engkrumong_), placed on the ground, and beaten with two
sticks, also large brass gongs, and a variety of drums.

The two popular dances are the Sword Dance and the War Dance, both of
which are danced by the men. It is very rarely that the women dance. I
am told that they only do so when a fighting-party have been successful,
and return with a human head which has been taken in war. Then the
women, dressed up in all their finery, go to the landing-stage where the
war-boat is, and as the head is taken to the house the women dance around
it singing a monotonous chant.

The _Mencha_, or Sword Dance, is danced in the following manner: Two
swords, or in their place two sticks, are placed on the mat, and the two
dancers commence from the opposite ends, turning the body, clapping the
hands, and extending the arms, lifting their feet and planting them down
in grotesque but not ungraceful attitudes. For a few minutes they posture
and move in leisurely manner round and round about; then they seize the
swords, and pass and repass each other, now cutting, now crossing swords,
retiring and advancing. Sometimes one kneels as though to defend himself
from the attacks of his adversary. The main idea of this Sword Dance
seems to be the posturing in different attitudes, and not so much the
skill displayed in fencing. Those are considered the best dancers who,
according to Dyak ideas, are the most graceful in their movements. I have
often watched a Dyak Sword Dance where neither has touched the other
with his sword, the movements having been so leisurely that there has
been plenty of time to ward off each attack.

The dance seems quite in keeping with the Dyak surroundings, and the
whole effect of it is very striking. The long veranda of the Dyak house
dimly lighted up by _damar_ torches; the pretty silver tones of the small
row of brass _enkrumong_ struck by two sticks in fast measure; the deep
tones of the large brass gongs; the numerous noisy drums; the crowd of
spectators standing, sitting, or kneeling; the screams of encouragement
to the dancers; the evolutions of the two performers—all help to form a
weird and striking scene.

The _Ajat_, or War Dance, is danced by one man. He is generally fully
armed with sword, and spear, and shield. He acts in pantomime what is
done when on the warpath. The dancer begins by imitating the creeping
through the jungle in cautious manner, looking to the right and to the
left, before and behind, for the foe. The lurking enemy is suddenly
discovered, and after some rapid attack and defence a sudden plunge is
made upon him, and he lies dead on the ground. The taking of the head of
this invisible enemy in pantomime now follows. A great deal of liberty
is allowed the dancer, and the dances are very varied. Sometimes the
dance ends with the defeat and death of the dancer. The last agonies of
the dying man are too closely and painfully depicted to be altogether
pleasant to watch.

[Illustration: COCK FIGHTING

Sometimes at feasts cock fighting takes place in the veranda of the Dyak
house. At other times it takes place on the ground outside. Here two
Dyaks are matching their cocks against each other, while a crowd of men
and boys stand around.]

The musical instruments which accompany the War Dance are much the same
as those used for the Sword Dance. There are the _engkrumong_, or row of
little brass gongs, the large gongs, and a variety of drums. But the
music is in different time, the music for the War Dance being quicker
than that for the Sword Dance.

Cock-fighting is a very favourite amusement of the Dyaks, and is
indulged in to a great extent at all their feasts. In fact, one of the
preparations for a feast is for the inmates of the house to go round to
their friends and beg for as many fighting-cocks as they can. The cocks
have artificial steel spurs, which are very sharp.

Spinning tops is a favourite amusement, not only of the children, but
also of grown-up men. They generally divide themselves into two sides.
One side spin their tops, and the other party, standing at a given
distance, aim at the spinning tops with their tops. Great skill is shown
in the manner in which a man often hits a top, driving it far away, and
leaves his top spinning in its place.

The Dyaks are very much at home on the water, and a favourite amusement
of the Dyaks at Banting was to “ride the tidal bore.” During the
spring-tides, when there was a tidal bore, they would paddle down the
river some distance, and wait for the turn of the tide. When the bore
came, they would get just in front of it, and the great wave would send
the boats up-river at a good pace without any paddling on their part. Of
course, a great many boats were often swamped, but that only added to the
fun. When I was stationed at Banting, the schoolboys often asked to be
allowed to “ride the bore.”

The Sea Dyaks seem to acquire naturally the art of swimming. They are
taken to the water regularly from infancy, and dipped and floated on the
water, and at an early age they are able to swim. They swim hand over
hand. They never take “a header” in diving, but jump in feet foremost.

The Dyaks are fond of wrestling, and many of them are good wrestlers. At
a Dyak feast very often the young men have friendly wrestling matches.
They have also other trials of strength. Two young men sit on the ground
opposite each other, feet placed against feet, and a stout stick is
grasped by both their hands. Each then tries to throw himself back, so as
to raise his adversary from the ground either by main strength or sudden
effort. Another trial of strength is to put two fingers of one opponent
against two fingers of another, the elbows being placed upon a table or
log; then each party tries to force the other’s fingers backward. Or
else two stand up face to face, and each grasps the two first fingers of
his opponent, holding his arm up, so that their hands are the same level
as their faces, and they each try by main force to lower the arm of the

The Dyaks are very fond of jumping, and at Banting, in the cool of the
evening, the young men, returning with me from Evening Prayer in church,
would often try the long-jump or high-jump near the Mission House.

They also play a game called _galangang_, not unlike prisoners’ base. The
players divide themselves into parties, and one party is set to watch
certain lines which the other party cross. If anyone is touched as he
crosses a line, his side loses, and has to do the watching.

The evening amusements are listening to some story, either set to verse
and sung, or simply told in prose, and the asking each other riddles.
These riddles are generally rhyming verses.



    Love of music—Love songs—Boat songs—War songs—Incantations at
    Dyak feasts—The song of mourning—Musical instruments.

The Dyaks are very fond of singing, and it is no unusual thing to
hear some solitary boatman singing as he paddles along. Weird beyond
words, and yet possessing a quaint rhythm, are most of the songs of the
Dyak. They give vent to their feelings in their own way, which is very
different from ours, but their plaintive songs are not unpleasant, and
show a certain amount of poetical feeling.

The _pelandai_, or love song, seems to be very popular among the young
men. In it the native singer pours forth his feelings, his sorrows and
disappointments, his hopes and his fears. The music is to our ideas
monotonous, and it is not always easy to understand the meaning of what
is sung, as many archaic expressions are used, and the singer sometimes
calls his love by one name, sometimes by another; at one time she is
spoken of as a bird, and then, in the next line perhaps, the name of some
animal is applied to her. A similar song sung by the women is called

They have their boat songs, with which the crew of a long Dyak boat
often enliven the time. The leader sings a verse, and the others join
in the chorus, keeping time with the strokes of the paddle or oar. The
leader often improvises his subject as he sings, and introduces any
little incident that has taken place, or little experience they have gone
through, much to the amusement of his companions.

In their war songs the singer chants in a low monotonous voice the deeds
of heroes in the olden days, and how they won and brought home human
heads to lay at the feet of their brides. These war songs are often
accompanied by the excited whoops and yells of the listeners.

There is the _bernong_, usually sung by two singers, who take it in turns
to sing a verse, and then the chorus is sung by both. This, as well as
the _pelandai_, or love song, may often be heard in the evening in the
long Dyak house.

Then there is the _kana_, in which some legend or fairy-tale is sung by
someone versed in ancient lore, as he sits on a swing in the dimly-lit
veranda of the Dyak house.

Singing also forms part of all their sacred rites. At all their
ceremonial feasts connected with warfare, farming, or the dead, the
incantations, or _pengap_, as they are called, are in the form of Dyak
verse, and sung. These songs differ considerably from the ordinary
language of the Dyak, and a person, who can understand and speak
Dyak, may yet find the _pengap_ most unintelligible. Native metaphor
and most excessive verbosity, together with the use of many archaic
expressions, the meanings of which have long been forgotten, as well as
the introduction of many coined words, which mean nothing, and are simply
dragged in because they rhyme with the words preceding—all these things
are quite certain to mystify an uninstructed hearer. Another reason why
it is so difficult to understand the _pengap_ is that the language used
is that of many generations back. The _pengap_, being learnt by heart,
and handed down with verbal accuracy from one generation to another, is
in the language of the past, whereas the ordinary spoken language of the
Dyak is continually changing and developing new forms. There are a great
deal of alliteration in the _pengap_, a certain peculiar rhythm and a
string of rhyming words.

The presence of invisible beings is very strongly believed by the Dyak,
and he is persuaded that spirits both good and bad are always round him.
As a form of invocation to these spirits, and in all the ceremonial
feasts of the Dyaks, as well as on other important occasions, the
_pengap_ are sung, sometimes by one man seated on a swing, sometimes
by a number of men, who walk up and down the long veranda, dressed in
flowing robes, with a long staff in the right hand of each. From what
has been said it will be easily understood that there are a great number
of different _pengap_ suited to different occasions. In each incantation
some special spirit or deity is more specially invoked.

At the Dyak Head Feast, Singalang Burong—the Mars of Dyak mythology—is
specially invoked to be present in the _pengap_ which is sung. In the
feasts connected with farming, Pulang Gana, the god of the soil, is
invoked, and asked to drive from their farms all rats and birds and
insects that may hurt the paddy. And at the feasts given in honour of
the dead all the spirits of dead relatives and friends, as well as those
of mythical heroes, are invited to partake of the good things provided.
Then, again, when the _manangs_, or Dyak witch-doctors, are called in to
cure a sick man, they often walk round and round the sick man, and chant
a _pengap_, invoking Salampandai, the Great Spirit-Doctor, to come to
their aid, and make their charms efficacious in bringing about the cure
of the sick man.

Some of the Dyak _pengap_ are of great length, and the singing of them
occupies the whole night. The singer or singers begin soon after 8 p.m.,
and go on till early dawn, only resting for about half an hour, two or
three times during the whole night.

The song of mourning is among some tribes sung by a professional wailer,
generally a woman, who is paid to lament the lost, and by her presence
and incantation to assist and guide the soul in its journey to Hades
(_Sabayan_). Her song is begun on the evening of the death, and lasts
the whole night. The sum of it is this:—She blames the different parts
of the house for allowing the soul to depart, and she calls upon bird,
beast, and fish to go to Hades with a message, but in vain, for they
are unable to undertake the journey. Then in despair she calls upon
the Spirit of the Winds to go. At first the spirit is reluctant, but
at the earnest request of the wailer, who calls his wife to her aid,
he at length consents to do her bidding. His journey through forests
and plains, hills and valleys, across rivers and the sea, is minutely
described till night comes on, and, tired and hungry, he stops to rest
for the night. He climbs a high tree to see which is the proper road—on
all sides there are roads: the ways of the dead are very numerous—but all
is dim, misty, and uncertain. In his perplexity, he changes his human
form, and metamorphoses himself into a rushing wind. He soon makes his
presence in Hades known by a furious tempest, which sweeps all before it,
and rouses the sleeping inhabitants. Startled, they ask each other what
is the meaning of this great commotion. The Spirit of the Wind answers
that their presence is wanted in the land of the living. They must go and
fetch a certain man and his belongings who wishes to come to Hades, but
does not know the way, and needs someone to guide him. The dead rejoice
at the summons. In a moment they collect together, get into a long boat,
and paddle hurriedly through Limban, the Dyak Styx. When they arrive at
the landing-place, the dead make an eager rush for the house, and enter
the room of the dead man. The departed soul cries out in anguish at being
thus suddenly and violently carried off, but long before the ghostly
party have reached their abode in Hades, he becomes reconciled to his
fate. Such in brief outline is the song of the wailer. By her song she
has helped to convey the soul to its new home. Without her aid the soul
would be lost, and remain suspended in mid-air and find no rest.

The songs and incantations of the Dyaks are not set to any particular
melody. They are sung to a kind of chant, and long sentences are often
repeated on one note. But they have several distinct settings for the
different songs and incantations, and these seem to suit the subject. The
song of mourning, for instance, sounds very sad and pathetic even to one
who does not understand the language.

The musical instruments of the Dyaks are of a more or less primitive
type, but when played together, the result is not unpleasing. Those
employed as an accompaniment to the Sword Dance or the War Dance are
brass gongs of different sizes and a variety of drums. First there is the
deep-sounding brass _tawak_, the sound of which travels a great distance,
and which, when struck in a peculiar manner, is the danger signal in
times of war. Next in order of importance comes the smaller brass gong
which is called the _chanang_, and lastly the _engkrumong_ of eight small
brass gongs of different sizes arranged in order in a long open box. The
player of the _engkrumong_ has a stick in each hand, and strikes these
different gongs in quick succession.

They have numerous drums of different shapes and sizes. They are made of
different kinds of wood, with deer-skin or monkey-skin tightly stretched
over one or both ends.

The effect of all these instruments of percussion played together is
inspiring, and not at all displeasing. There is no harsh discordant
clanging, as is so often the case in the music of primitive races. There
are different ways of striking the drums and other instruments, and each
of these ways has a distinctive name. The rhythm of the music of the
Sword Dance differs entirely from that of the War Dance, and for each of
these dances there are various different arrangements for the musical

Among their wind instruments is the _engkrurai_, which is constructed
of a number of bamboo tubes fixed in an empty gourd, the long stem of
which forms the mouth-piece. All the notes can be sounded together, and
combinations of notes or single notes can be produced from it by shutting
or opening finger-holes placed laterally at the lower end of the bamboo
tubes. There are generally seven bamboo tubes, six of them arranged in
a circle round a larger and longer central one. All seven are furnished
with a reed at the base, where they are inserted into the gourd. Holes
are cut in the six outer pipes for fingering. The central pipe is an open
or drone-pipe, the tone of which is intensified by fixing a loose cap of
bamboo on the upper end. It is played by blowing air into the neck of
the gourd, or by drawing in the breath, according to the effect desired.
The volume of sound is not great, and the music produced is not unlike
that of the Scotch bagpipes played very softly and very badly.

They have a flute, or rather flageolet (_ensuling_), made of bamboo, with
a plug at the mouth-hole. It is blown at the end, and there are three or
four finger-holes, so that different notes can be produced.

Another musical instrument is the _serunai_, or one-stringed fiddle.
The body is half a gourd-shell, the mouth of which is covered up with a
circular piece of soft wood, which is thin and close-fitting, the seams
being cemented with wax. To this is fixed the stock, an arm about two
feet long made of hard wood. The bow is a bent cane, and the string
of the bow a split rattan about a foot in length. The string of this
instrument is of the same material, and there is a peg at the end of
the stock by which the string can be tightened. There is a movable
bridge on the belly of the instrument for the string to rest upon. The
body is sometimes made of half a cocoanut-shell instead of a gourd. The
string has to be wetted before it will sound, and then it gives forth a
monotonous, mournful, dismal sound when the bow is rubbed against it.

The Dyaks also have a four-stringed zither. The strings are made of split
cane, and are stretched over a wooden box of soft wood. This instrument
varies in shape and size, and is called the _engkratong_.

The _blikan_ is a rude guitar made of soft wood, with two strings of
rattan and two pegs for tightening them. The strings are pressed with the
tips of the fingers of the left hand to modify the tone, and the fingers
of the right hand brush the strings. This instrument is about three feet
long from end to end.

From all that has been said, it will be seen that their musical
instruments, though various, are very primitive, and that, though the
Dyak is fond of music, his ideas on the subject are very crude.



    Love of travel—“The innocents abroad”—Gutta-hunting—Collecting
    canes—Hunting for edible birds’-nests—Camphor-working.

The Dyak is fond of travel, and, like other people, loves to visit
foreign countries and to return and relate his adventures to his
stay-at-home friends. He is always at home in the jungle, and in whatever
country he may be collecting jungle produce, he is in his element. But
this is by no means the case when he is in any foreign town. I have
sometimes seen Dyaks in Singapore walking aimlessly about, quite out of
touch with their surroundings. I think they are looked upon as fair game
by the Chinese shopkeepers in Singapore, who have no scruples in taking
advantage of their innocence, as the following incident will show.

Some years ago I took some Dyaks from Banting on a visit to Singapore.
I told them not to wander too far away from the house by themselves,
as they might lose their way, and advised them to let me send someone
with them when they wanted to buy anything, because they had no idea
of the price of things, and would probably be swindled by the Chinese
shopkeepers. For the first few days they were very careful to do as
I told them, but afterwards, they considered themselves experienced
travellers who could well manage to buy things for themselves. One day
they came to me and said they had met such a nice Chinese shopkeeper,
from whom one of them had bought a silk jacket. He was such a pleasant
man, and his things were so cheap, that they had quite made up their
minds to visit his shop again. I asked to see the silk jacket they had
bought. It was brought to me carefully wrapped up in Chinese brown paper,
and the parcel, being opened, was found to contain a cotton jacket! When
the purchase was made, the “very pleasant shopkeeper” kindly bundled it
up for them, and this was the result. I told them that they had been
taken in, and that there was no help for it, and that they must always be
on their guard against the Chinese shopkeeper. But my words were wasted.
They were quite positive that there was some mistake. It was quite absurd
to imagine that such a nice Chinaman would think of swindling them. All
that had to be done was to go back to the shop and explain matters, and
everything would be put right. They did go back to the shop, and returned
with long faces. The nice Chinaman said he did not remember selling them
a silk jacket; they must have mistaken the shop. Was there anything he
could sell them? Needless to say, they bought nothing more from that
shop, and returned “sadder and wiser men.”

Gutta-hunting is a favourite method of the Dyaks for earning money.
A party of them go to the Malay Peninsula, or Sumatra, or Java, and
stay away for months or even years, and do not return until they have
accumulated some hundreds of dollars. Before starting for such a journey
they have to consult the omen birds, and if these are favourable, they
start off with a little money for their expenses, taking with them the
few tools necessary for their work. They go to some town, and from it
they make journeys into the surrounding jungle, returning after intervals
of a month or more to sell the gutta they have succeeded in obtaining,
and to buy provisions.

The way in which the Dyak works gutta is this:—He wanders in the jungle
till he finds a gutta-tree. He cuts it down, and rings it neatly all
along the trunk and branches at intervals of a foot or two with a kind
of hollow chisel that he brings with him for the purpose. Under each
ring he puts a leaf made into a cup to catch the milk-white sap which
slowly exudes. Into each of these he puts a little scraped bark of the
tree. Then he collects all the sap, and boils it until the gutta is
precipitated at the bottom of the pot like a mass of dough. This is taken
out while it is still soft, placed upon a board, and kneaded vigorously
with the hands, and afterwards trodden with the bare feet. When it is
almost too stiff to work, it is flattened out carefully, and then rolled
into a wedge-shaped mass. A hole is punched through the thin end, through
which a string is put to carry it, and it is ready for sale. This crude
gutta has a mottled or marbled light brown appearance, which is given
to it by the scraped bark which is mixed with it. The juice of the wild
fig-tree (_Ficus_) or of the different species of bread-fruit trees
(_Artocarpus_) is sometimes used to adulterate it.

Sometimes, instead of working gutta, the Dyaks earn money by collecting
canes, or _rotan_. A journey is made by a party of them to some jungle
region where canes abound, and they collect the various marketable
species of the genus _Calamus_. These canes are creeping plants the
stems of which are covered with a hard flinty bark. The leaves are very
thorny, and cling to the trees and branches around. The older part of
the cane has no leaves. It is very tough and strong, and in size about
one-quarter of an inch in diameter. It is easily split, and used for the
seats of chairs, etc.

Sometimes the Dyaks join others in the collection of edible birds’-nests
for the Chinese market. This is a great industry in those parts of Borneo
where there are large limestone caves, in which these nests are found.
The caves are farmed out by Government, and whatever is obtained over the
amount paid to Government is the profit of the workers. In Upper Sarawak
certain tribes possess caves in which edible birds’-nests are found, and
they divide the nests with the Government.

Sometimes Dyaks who wish to earn a little extra money go and help these
tribes in collecting birds’-nests, and get a share of the profits, or
more often they go to small caves which belong to no one in particular
and collect birds’-nests for themselves, and then give a share of what
they find to the Government.

Some of the caves in which edible birds’-nests are found are very large.
At the entrance the visitor is met by thousands of bats and swallows.
The latter resemble the common swallow in appearance, but are only half
as large. These small swallows make the edible nests. Inside, the cave
is often like an immense amphitheatre roofed like a dome, the middle of
which is over a thousand feet high. Thousands of nests are seen clinging
to the pillar-like rocky sides and roof. The most flimsy-looking stages
of bamboos tied together with cane are the simple means employed by
the natives to collect the nests from the seemingly most inaccessible

Though there are rifts in the sides through which come rays of light,
still in parts the cave is so dark that lamps and torches have to be used.

The Dyaks climb up the bamboo scaffolding, carrying with them long cane
ladders. These are fixed against the sides. Two men work on each ladder,
which often hangs high up in the air. One carries a light four-pronged
spear about fifteen feet long, and near the prongs a lighted candle is
fixed. Holding on to the ladder with one hand, he manages the spear with
the other, and transfixes the nest. A slight push detaches it from the
rock, and the spear is then held within reach of the second man, who
detaches the nest and puts it into a basket tied to his waist.

The natives say that there are two species of swallows that inhabit these
caves. Those that take up their abode near the entrance of the cave build
nests which are of no value. These birds often attack the other and
smaller species which make the edible nests. The natives often destroy
the nests of the larger swallows, so as to lessen their number.

The best quality nests are very translucent, and of a pale yellow colour,
and mixed with very few feathers. These are nests that have been freshly
made. If the nests are not removed, the birds make use of them again,
so that by age and accession of dirt they become quite useless. The old
nests are of no value, and the natives destroy them, so that the birds
may build new ones in their place.

The nests are collected four times a year. The natives say that the birds
will lay four times a year if their nests are collected often, but if
there are only two collections, then the birds only lay twice in the
year. The best time for collecting nests is when the eggs are just laid.
One would imagine that there would be a danger of over-collecting, and
that the number of birds would diminish; but the natives say there is
no danger of this, as the birds carry on their breeding in nooks and
crannies inaccessible to the collectors.

Another jungle industry is the hunting for camphor. The kind the Dyaks
obtain is known as “hard camphor,” and is found in crystals in the hollow
trunk of a tree. It is much more valuable than ordinary camphor.

Before going out to collect camphor, the Dyaks live in little huts in the
jungle, and listen to the omens of birds, just as they would do before
going out gutta-hunting. If the omens be favourable, then they start
off, being careful not to use in conversation certain words which are
considered “taboo,” or _mali_. It is forbidden to use the word “camphor,”
or to mention the names of the implements used in working it, or of any
races, such as the Chinese, Malays, or Europeans, because these will have
something to do with the selling of the camphor later on. If the spirits
who own the camphor know what the men are after, or that their property
is likely to be taken away and sold to distant lands, they will carefully
hide it, and the camphor workers will never be able to find it; so the
Dyaks have to use other expressions to express the articles whose names
must not be mentioned. “Camphor” becomes “the thing that smells,” and so

The Dyaks, as well as the Malays, believe that to be careless and to
make use of any forbidden word is sure to result in failure to find
camphor. Even if a tree containing camphor is felled, they say that the
crystallized camphor will become liquid, and therefore useless.

When a camphor-tree is found in the jungle it is chipped with an axe
between two buttresses, and the wood smelt. If the wood smells very
strongly of camphor, then it is likely that the trunk is hollow, and
there is crystallized camphor-gum inside it. They tap the trunk to find
out how far up this hollow extends. The tree is cut down at this place,
and the stump remains standing. The wood is then split down on each
side. There is a good deal of uncertainty in the finding of camphor. If
lucky, the workers may find the whole of the hollow trunk from four to
seven feet deep full of crystallized camphor. On the other hand, the hole
in the wood may be quite empty, except for a little liquid gum at the
bottom, which is useless. This crystallized camphor fetches a good price
in the Chinese market. The Chinese value it very highly for medicinal
purposes, and as much as fifty dollars or more is given for a _katty_—a
pound and a quarter—of it.



    The itinerant missionary—Visit to a Dyak
    house—Reception—Cooking—Servants—The meal—Teaching the
    Dyaks—Christians—Services—Prayer-houses—Offertory—Reception of
    the missionary—Dangers of sea travelling during the north-east
    monsoon—My boat swamped—In the jungle—Losing my way—A Dyak’s

As the long Dyak village houses are often built at great distances from
each other, the missionary who wishes to do effective work among the
Dyaks must travel from house to house. Only by visiting distant villages,
and living with the Dyaks as their guest, can the missionary learn to
understand the people, and know their real inner life.

Let me try and describe a visit to some Dyak house, which no missionary
has visited before, and where there is hope of breaking new ground. After
travelling by boat or on foot I come to the house, and at the foot of the
ladder leading up to it, one of my Dyak companions shouts out, “_Jadi
rumah?_” (“Is the house tabooed?”—that is to say: “May we walk up?”) The
usual answer is “_Jadi_,” which implies that there is no reason against
our entering the house. We climb up the ladder leading to the common
hall and walk to the middle of the house, where the headman and the more
important inhabitants have their rooms. Some inmate spreads out mats for
us, and we are asked to sit down.

If I arrive at the house early in the day, most of the men will probably
be out, and only women and children at home. These crowd round, standing
at a respectful distance, and the wife or daughter of the headman asks
us what we have come for, and invites us to stay in the house. She also
clears away their own cooking from the fireplace, and my servant is asked
to do whatever cooking is needed for the _Tuan_ in their room.

The cooking is generally a simple matter. The dinner generally consists
of one course. My servant buys from the Dyaks a fowl—it would be libel to
call it a “chicken”!—and cooks it, or else he falls back on tinned food,
of which I always had a supply.

During all the years I worked in Borneo I always had a Dyak servant, and
I was fortunate in having for many years an excellent native named Ah
Choy. He was born at Banting, and attended the Mission School there, and
then went on to the school at Kuching. I joined the Mission Staff soon
after he left school, and he worked for me as my general factotum—cook,
housekeeper, boatman, personal attendant, etc.—for ten years or more. He
was, what is unusual among the Dyaks, a good cook, and, in addition to
this, was an excellent servant in many ways. He understood about boats,
and I found his advice in all matters connected with travelling very
trustworthy. He had a good idea of carpentering, and was able himself to
fit up many little conveniences in my boat. Besides all this he was able
to help me in my missionary work, as he was a Christian and a communicant
himself. I think that if a Missionary visits native houses to teach
the Dyaks, and has as his attendant a “heathen Chinee” or a “scoffing
Mohammedan,” it must be a hindrance to his work. Ah Choy left me to work
for his mother, who was a widow, but even after he had left my service he
often accompanied me on my missionary travels as one of the boatmen, and
I was always very glad to have him with me. He died, while quite a young
man, during an epidemic of cholera.

When my dinner is ready my servant tells me, and I go into the room to
eat it. A mat is spread for me, and I sit cross-legged upon it. A few of
the women of the house sometimes stay in the room while I have my meal,
but never a crowd, and one is able to have one’s food in comfort.

After the evening meal I come out into the common hall, where the mats
are spread and the people gathered together. The evening is the usual
time for any discussion, as the men are all back from their outdoor
work then. I sit down on a mat, and both men and women are seated in a
semicircle before me, and I try to teach them. Very simple things at
first—telling them how God created the world, and made all things good,
and how man of his own wickedness brought sin into the world—very simple
things of this kind, and these said over and over again, because it takes
them time to take in new ideas. After two or three evenings spent in this
way I leave the house, but visit it again after an interval of some weeks
or months.


When a house is very long, as in this case, in addition to the ladders at
each end, there are often extra ladders in the middle of the house. One
of these ladders is seen on the right of the picture. The logs of wood on
the ground are for walking upon.]

In the nature of the Dyak there has grown up a crop of rank superstitions
which he cannot overcome easily. He has his gods, but his conception
of a God is quite different to that of the Christian. Innumerable
hostile spirits he believes are around him, and these have to be
dealt with, propitiated or outwitted. Though he has many ceremonies
the Dyak has little religious spirit. The ceremonial rites which he
practises—sacrifices, incantations, observance of omens—are magic charms
to procure material benefits. Hence he has a difficulty in conceiving a
spiritual religion. In the conversations one has in the Dyak house it is
very usual to be asked such a question as this: “What material advantage
shall I get if I become a Christian? Shall I get better paddy-crops and
become rich? Shall I have better health?” Another question which is often
asked the Missionary is: “Must we give up our old customs?” “Yes,” says
the Missionary, “such of them as are founded upon falsehood or derogatory
to the true God.” Dreams are often discussed, and numerous examples
are brought forward of dreams which have come true. The Missionary
acknowledges that God has spoken in ancient days to men in dreams, but
maintains that the necessity for doing so no longer exists.

Endless questions lead to endless explanations, and often the Missionary
feels at the end of it all that little has been gained. But unpromising
as the soil apparently is, the good seed does germinate. On the next
visit the Missionary makes to that same house, he will probably find that
some of his hearers have thought over what he has said, and are willing
to learn more. And after a few visits some of the Dyaks are willing to
put themselves under instruction, and these are taught by the native
Catechist in charge of the district, and also by the Missionary when he
pays his visits. When they are sufficiently taught and wish to become
Christians, they are baptized, and if they live good consistent Christian
lives, and have been further instructed, later on they are brought to the
Bishop to be confirmed.

Happily the Gospel message, though profound in truth, is very simple in
form. A plain narration of the life of Jesus Christ always produces a
deep impression upon the Dyak. It is quite a new revelation to him, the
Incarnation of the Son of God, bringing him totally new thoughts and
ideas of God.

A great help to the work of the Missionary is the example of some man who
has bravely emancipated himself from the burdensome traditions of his
forefathers, and puts his whole trust in God. There are many such living
in the Saribas district, and they were a great help to the Mission work
there. That a Dyak can succeed in his labours, or even exist for any
length of time without the observance of bird omens, or paying heed to
dreams, or continually making sacrifices to gods and spirits, is to Dyaks
in general such a remarkable thing that it rouses their minds to consider
what Christianity means. To give up heathen practices, and to pay no heed
to the omens of birds, is but a small part of the Christian religion,
but it sets men thinking. It is a mark of freedom from the slavery of
tyrannous superstition, and clears the ground for the foundation of a
real Christian belief and trust in God.

But it may be asked: “How are services provided for these Dyak Christians
who live so far away from the Church and the Mission House?” Well, we do
the best we can for them. By the side of each Dyak house where there are
Christians we build a small prayer-house. It is a very plain and simple
building, and is the same in material and style as their own houses. The
Christian Dyaks build it themselves. They go out into the jungle and get
whatever is necessary for it. It is an oblong structure, raised a few
feet off the ground on posts of wood. The walls and the roof are of
palm-leaf thatch, work which the natives can do themselves; the flooring
is of laths of wood fastened down with cane or creepers. And there are
no seats in the building—no forms or chairs—everyone sits on the floor,
on which mats are spread. At one end we have a little table, which the
natives make themselves, and that we use as an altar when we have a
celebration of the Holy Communion. Altogether it is as primitive a house
of worship as it is possible to imagine, but it is enough for necessary
purposes, and is the best that can be done under the circumstances. The
building does not last long, but is easily rebuilt where there is a will
to do so. To build permanent churches would in most cases be useless
waste, for the Dyaks are constantly moving their village houses to new

The services held in these little prayer-houses are very reverent. The
offertory at the celebration of Holy Communion is worthy of remark. At
our up-country churches and prayer-houses, we receive in kind as well as
in money. Dyaks very seldom have money, but they have rice, and that is
the “kind” in which the offertory is made. The rice is brought in little
baskets or cups, and emptied into a large basket. Sometimes eggs or fruit
are given. The Missionary gives an equivalent in money for the rice,
etc., collected, and that money is given to the man who has charge of
the offertory. This “church-warden” is some Christian living in the Dyak
house near.

The Missionary has a very large district in his charge, and travelling
is so difficult that he cannot very often visit the different houses
where there are Christians; and the native teacher has also a large
ground to cover, and cannot very often hold services at the different
prayer-houses. So if we can find some man in the house who is a
good Christian, and has been to school and can read, we ask him, in
the absence of the Missionary and of the native teacher, to conduct
services. On the Sunday morning in many Dyak houses, when neither the
Missionary nor the native teacher is there, one of themselves—some young
man—will collect the Christians together, and they will go to the little
prayer-house, and he will read the prayers, and they will offer up
their petitions and thanksgivings to God. In many Dyak houses, however,
though there are Christians, there is no one whom we can ask to read
the prayers. They have to go without their services, sometimes for long
intervals, until such time as the native teacher or the Missionary can
visit them.

Visiting the houses where there are Christians, and holding services in
the little prayer-houses built by themselves, is pleasant and interesting
work. The Dyaks are told beforehand when the Missionary is coming, and
they look forward to his visit, and as many as are able leave their
farm-huts where they may be staying so as to be at the house to welcome
him. The Dyaks are civil, natural in manner, kindly disposed, and
cheerful. They are also very intelligent, and I have had many interesting
conversations on my Missionary visits. Questions are often asked by the
Dyaks showing that they have thought over something that has been said
on a former visit; and in the Saribas district, where so many Dyaks had
learnt to read, it was no unusual thing to be asked to explain some
particular passage in the Gospels, the Dyak translation of which many of
them had.

Travelling by river is safe enough except where there are sandbanks,
and there a little extra care is necessary. But during the north-east
monsoon—October to March—the sea is generally very rough, and travelling
by sea in the kind of boat the Missionary uses is sometimes dangerous. He
has to use a boat that draws very little water, because of the sand banks
in the rivers, and such a boat is not suitable for the sea. I am thankful
to say that during all the years I was in Borneo my boat was only swamped
once. We have had many narrow escapes—the boat full of water over and
over again, and two men baling out the water as fast as possible while
the others were rowing. The boat I used in my travels was made of light
wood, and the only part of it that was made of harder wood was the keel.
Even if it were full of water, it would still float, and we could often
row through the waves without anything worse than a thorough wetting.

On the occasion when my boat was swamped I was returning from the
capital, Kuching, where I had been Acting-Chaplain for some months, to
my up-country station at Temudok on the Krian River. It was during the
north-east monsoon, and the sea was very rough. After leaving the Kuching
River we put in at Sampun, a little stream near. There we stayed seven
days. Early every morning we put out to sea, but it was impossible to row
through the waves, and we had to put back. Then we ran short of food; we
had no rice for the men. At the next flood-tide I told my boatmen to row
up the Sampun stream, as I felt certain I should be able to buy rice from
some people living there. After two hours’ rowing we came to the hut of a
Chinaman. He said he had only three _gantangs_ of rice. (A _gantang_ is a
dry measure, and equal to about three-quarters of a peck.) I asked him
to sell me all the rice he had. He was quite willing to do so, and said
that if I would wait a day, he would have some paddy pounded, and be able
to supply me with more rice. I said what he had would be sufficient, and
I told my boatmen that whatever the weather was next day, we must put out
to sea.

Very early next morning we started. The sea was very rough, and to
escape the breakers we went farther and farther away from land. I had my
excellent servant, Ah Choy, with me, and he was steering, and I had a
very good crew of Dyak boatmen. After some time Ah Choy said to me:

“We are very far out, and can hardly see the land. Had we not better get
nearer shore?”

The men were rowing as well as they could, but they were getting very
tired, and we were making very little progress.

I told Ah Choy to bring the boat nearer shore, but as soon as we got into
shallower water the waves were so great that it was evident the boat
could not live through them.

I asked Ah Choy to steer the boat straight for the shore, and I told the
men to row as hard as they could, and as soon as they felt their oars
touch bottom to jump out and pull the boat up the shore as fast as they
could. They did exactly as I wished. The boat was dragged ashore, but
several large waves beat into it, and everything was soaked. It had one
or two hard bumps on the sand, and was split from end to end.

We were not far from Kabong, a village at the mouth of the Krian River,
and I, accompanied by one of my boatmen, walked along the beach to
the Government Fort there. The clerk in charge, Ah Fook Cheyne, kindly
supplied me with food and with sleeping things for the night. I sent some
Malays to look after my boat, which they managed to bring to Kabong the
next day.

Whenever I have had to travel on foot I have always had with me Dyaks who
knew the country, so there has been no danger of my losing my way. But it
is remarkable how easily one can get lost in the jungle. I have sometimes
gone off the path for no great distance, and have had some difficulty in
finding my way back. At Banting one afternoon I was accompanied by two
schoolboys, and we went into the lowland jungle near the Mission Hill
after some wood-pigeon. We followed the birds from one wild fig-tree to
another, and managed to shoot a few, and then we tried to find our way
back. After wandering about for some twenty minutes we came to a spot
where a tree had been cut down, and a length of the trunk used evidently
for a Dyak coffin. As someone had been buried a few days ago in the
cemetery round the church, we guessed we could not be far from Banting
Hill, on which the Mission House and Church stood. We tried to follow
what we thought was the track made by the people who had cut the tree
down, but after wandering about for over half an hour, we found ourselves
in the same spot again.

We could see the sun through the trees, and one of the boys with me said:

“When we sit on the seat on the brow of the hill facing the river we see
the sun setting in front of us, so if we walk in the direction of the sun
we are sure to come to some part of Banting Hill.”

It seemed a sensible suggestion. We had been walking in the opposite
direction. We turned round and walked back, and sure enough we got to the
fruit-trees on Banting Hill, and had no difficulty in finding our way to
the Mission House.

One day when I was at Sebetan I left the path which ran along the side of
the river. I had with me three Dyak schoolboys, and we wandered about and
could not find our way out of the jungle. One of the boys said, when we
came to a small jungle-stream:

“If we follow this stream it will lead us to the river.”

We did so, and soon found the path by the river.

It will be noticed that on both these occasions I was with Dyak boys who
helped me to find my way. I have noticed that older Dyaks seem to have a
good idea of locality, and generally know in what direction the path they
have left lies.

It is, however, not an unknown thing for Dyaks to be lost in the jungle.
A Dyak friend of mine in Sebetan told me that on one occasion he had been
in the jungle all day collecting canes, and in the evening when he wanted
to return he could not find his way out. He climbed up a tree in the
hope of seeing the smoke of some Dyak house or farm hut, but saw no such
thing. As it was growing dark, and there was no likelihood of his finding
his way till next morning, he prepared to spend the night where he was.
He climbed up a tree, and made himself as comfortable as possible among
the branches, took off his waist-cloth, and tied himself to the tree,
that he might not slip off when asleep, and spent an uncomfortable night
up there. Next morning he had no difficulty in finding his way back to
his house.

The wonder to me is that Dyaks so seldom get lost in the jungle. When
they are hunting wild pig they must often wander far from the path, and
yet somehow they manage to find their way out of the jungle without any



    Sea Dyak stories—_Ensera_—_Kana_—The mouse-deer and the
    tortoise—Klieng—Kumang—Apai Saloi—The cunning of the
    mouse-deer—The mouse-deer and other animals who went out
    fishing—The mouse-deer, the deer, and the pig—Sea Dyak proverbs.

The Sea Dyaks possess many stories, legends, and fables handed down by
tradition from ancient times. All these have been transmitted by word
of mouth from generation to generation, as the Dyaks have no written
language of their own. These tales may be roughly divided in two
classes—those that are plainly told, and called _ensera_; and those that
are set in a peculiar rhythmical measure, and sung to a monotonous chant,
and called _kana_.

Among the former are a large number of stories corresponding to the
adventures of Brer Rabbit, or our own tales illustrating the cunning
of the fox. In the Dyak stories the mouse-deer and the tortoise—two of
the smallest animals they know—are generally represented either acting
in concert or individually, and their cunning is always more than a
match against the strength of all other animals. The Dyaks also have
many legends which give an account of the origin and reason for some of
their religious beliefs and customs. These are no doubt purely Dyak, but
the many tales related nowadays about Rajahs and their adventures are
probably derived from Malay sources in more recent times.

The exploits of the mythical heroes of the Dyaks are also related. The
greatest hero is Klieng, who is not a god, but supposed to belong to
this world of ours. He is not now visible to human eyes, but his help is
often invoked in times of war, and offerings of food are often made to
him. Tradition says that he had no father or mother, but was found in the
knot of a tree by Ngelai, who brought him up as his brother. As he grew
up, he developed a restless spirit, and would not apply himself to the
regular Dyak pursuits. He was wayward and capricious, and would disappear
for long periods, often being given up for dead by his sorrowing friends.
Then he would suddenly reappear in his own home, to the surprise and
joy of his friends. He is represented as handsome and brave, and always
successful in expeditions against his enemies. He had a wonderful power
of metamorphosis, and, when necessary, could transform himself into an
animal or anything else. On one occasion he is said to have changed
himself into the fragment of a broken water-gourd, and was carried by
Ngelai in his basket to the battle. The enemy were too powerful for them,
and Ngelai and his friends were being defeated, when the basket was
placed on the ground, and Klieng revealed himself in his true character
of a great warrior, and in a very short time routed the enemy.

Klieng married Kumang, the Dyak Venus. Many stories concerning them are
set to native song. These _kana_ are sometimes sung by some Dyak singer,
who lies on a mat or sits on a swing in the dim light of the covered
veranda of the long Dyak house. His audience sit or lie around and listen
to him, very often till the small hours of the morning. The incidents
in a story thus sung are not many, but the Dyaks delight in verbosity
and amplification, and use a dozen similes where one would do, and love
to repeat over and over again the description of the various characters
in different words, with the double object of showing their command of
language and to lengthen the story.

They have many amusing tales told of Apai Saloi (the father of Saloi)—the
Simple Simon of the Dyaks. He is represented as doing the most foolish
things, and always outwitted by his enemy, Apai Samumang (the father of
Samumang), who does not hesitate to take advantage of his stupidity.
The following will give an idea of the kind of story related of Apai
Saloi:—One day he was paddling in his boat in the river, and his axe-head
fell into the water. He made a notch in the side of the boat to mark
the spot where the axe-head dropped into the water, and paddled home.
“There will be plenty of time,” he said, “for me to look for it to-morrow
morning.” He reached the landing-stage of his house, and pulled his boat
up the bank. The next day he went to the boat and looked for his lost
axe-head underneath the part of the boat where he saw the notch he had
made the day before. He was very much surprised at not finding his lost

But what seems to give the Dyaks most pleasure are tales about animals,
especially those in which the cunning of the mouse-deer (_akal plandok_)
is displayed. The following are well known among them, and I have myself
often heard these related, with variations, by the Dyaks themselves. Very
often, in travelling by boat in Borneo, one has to wait for the turn of
the tide, and the Dyak boatmen on these occasions often relate some of
their old stories to each other to while away the time.


Once upon a time the Mouse-Deer, accompanied by many other animals, went
on a fishing expedition. All day long they fished, and in the evening
returned to the little hut that they had put up by the river-side, salted
the fish that they had caught, and stored it up in their jars. They
noticed that somehow or other their fish disappeared day by day, and
the animals held a council to decide what it was best to do. After some
discussion the Deer said he would stay behind while the others went out
to fish, so that he might catch the thief.

“I shall be able to master him, whoever he is,” said the Deer. “If he
refuses to do what I wish, I shall soon punish him with my sharp horns.”

So the others went out fishing, leaving the Deer at home. Soon he heard
the tramp of someone coming to the foot of the steps leading up into the
hut, calling out:

“Is anyone at home?”

“I am here,” said the Deer. Looking out, he saw a great Giant, and his
heart failed him. He wished he had asked one of his companions to stay at
home with him.

“I smell some fish,” said the Giant. “I want some, and I must have it. I
am hungry. Let me have what I want.”

“It does not belong to me,” said the Deer in great fear. “It belongs to
the Pig, the Bear, the Tiger, and the Mouse-Deer. They would punish me
severely if I gave any of it to you.”

“Don’t talk to me in that way. If you do not let me have what I want, I
will eat you up,” said the Giant.

The Deer was too much awed by his visitor to attack the Giant, so he let
him eat the fish and take some away with him.

When his companions returned, the Deer gave them his account of the
Giant’s visit. They blamed him for his cowardice, and the Wild Boar said
he would keep watch the next day.

“If the Giant comes,” said he, “I will gore him with my tusks and trample
him underfoot.”

But he fared no better than the Deer, for when he saw the Giant, who
threatened to kill him if he refused to give him some fish, he was
afraid, and let him take as much as he wanted.

Great was the disgust of the others to find on their return that their
fish had again been stolen.

“Let me watch,” said the Bear. “No Giant shall frighten me. I will hug
him in my arms and scratch him with my sharp claws.”

So Bruin was left in charge the next day, while the others went out to

Soon he heard the Giant, who came to the foot of the steps and shouted:
“Hullo! who’s there?”

“I am,” said the Bear. “Who are you, and what do you want?”

“I can smell some nice fish, and I am hungry, and want some.”

“I cannot let you have any,” said the Bear. “It does not belong to me.”

“Let me have some at once,” said the Giant in a voice of thunder, “before
I kill and eat you.”

The Bear was too much frightened to interfere while the Giant ransacked
the jars. When he had had enough, he bade the Bear “Good-bye” and went

On the return of the other animals, the Tiger said he would put a stop to
this state of things. He would stay at home the next day and keep watch.
It would have to be a very strong Giant indeed that would dare to fight

The Giant paid his visit as before, and when he found the Tiger at home,
he said that he was hungry, and asked for some fish. At first the Tiger
refused to give any to him, but when he saw his formidable enemy he was
afraid, and let him have as much as he wanted.

On their return again the animals found their fish had been stolen.

Then the Mouse-Deer spoke. “I see,” he said, “that it is no use depending
on you others. You boast, but when the time comes for action, you have no
courage. I will stay at home and secure this Giant that you speak of.”

When his companions had gone away the next morning, the Mouse-Deer put a
bandage round his forehead and lay down.

Soon came the Giant, and shouted: “Who’s there?”

“Only me,” said the Mouse-Deer, groaning with pain. “Come up, whoever you
may be.”

The Giant climbed up the rickety steps, and saw the Mouse-Deer lying with
his head bandaged.

“What is the matter with you?” asked the Giant.

“I have a headache,” was the answer.

“Whatever has given you the headache?” asked the Giant.

“Can’t you guess?” said the Mouse-Deer. “It is the smell of this fish in
these jars. It is so strong it is enough to make anyone ill. Don’t you
feel ill yourself?”

“I think I do,” said the Giant. “Cannot you give me some medicine?”

“I have no medicine with me,” said the Mouse-Deer, “but I can bandage
you, as I have done myself, and it is sure to do you good.”

“Thank you,” said the Giant. “It is good of you to take the trouble to
cure me.”

So the Giant lay down as he was bid, while the Mouse-Deer bandaged his
head, and fastened the ends of the bandage to pegs which he drove in the
ground under the open flooring of the hut.

“Don’t you feel a little pain in your ankles?” anxiously suggested the

“I think I do,” said the foolish Giant. “Suppose you bandage them, too.”

So the Mouse-Deer, chuckling to himself, bandaged his ankles, and made
them fast to the floor of the hut.

“Do you not feel the pain in your legs?” asked the Mouse-Deer.

“I think I do,” was the foolish Giant’s reply.

So the Mouse-Deer bandaged his legs and made them secure, so that the
Giant was quite unable to move.

By this time the Giant began to feel uneasy, and trying to get up, and
finding himself securely bound, he struggled and roared in pain and anger.

The little Mouse-Deer sat before him and laughed, and said:

“You were a match for the Deer, the Pig, the Bear, and the Tiger, but
you are defeated by me. Don’t make so much noise, or I shall drive a peg
through your temples and kill you.”

Just then the others returned from their fishing. Great was their joy to
find their enemy securely bound. With cries of triumph they fell upon the
Giant and killed him, and praised the Mouse-Deer for his cleverness in
securing him.


A Mouse-Deer wandering in the jungle fell into a pit. He could not get
out, so he waited patiently for some passer-by. Presently a Pig passed by
the mouth of the pit. The Mouse-Deer called out to him, and he looked in
and asked the Mouse-Deer what he was doing there.

“Don’t you know what is going to happen? The sky is going to fall down,
and everybody will be crushed to dust unless he takes shelter in a pit.
If you want to save your life you had better jump in.”

The Pig jumped into the pit, and the Mouse-Deer got on his back, but he
found he was not high enough to enable him to leap out.

Next a Deer came along, and, seeing the two animals in the pit, asked
them what they were doing there.

The Mouse-Deer replied: “The sky is going to fall, and everyone will be
crushed unless he hides in some hole. Jump in if you want to save your

The Deer sprang in, and the Mouse-Deer made him stand on the back of the
Pig; then he himself got on the back of the Deer and jumped out of the
pit, leaving the other two to their fate.

The Deer and the Pig were very angry at being tricked in this way by
such a small animal as the Mouse-Deer. They scratched the side of the
pit until it sloped, and enabled them to get out; then they followed the
trail of the Mouse-Deer, and soon overtook him.

The Mouse-Deer saw them coming, and climbed up a tree, from the boughs of
which a large beehive was hanging.

“Come down,” said the Pig and Deer angrily. “You have deceived us, and we
mean to kill you.”

“Deceived you?” said the Mouse-Deer. “When did I deceive you, or do
anything to deserve death?”

“Didn’t you tell us that the sky was going to fall, and that if we did
not hide ourselves in a pit we should be killed?”

“Oh yes,” was the reply. “What I said was perfectly true, only I
persuaded the King to postpone the disaster.”

“You need not try to put us off with any more lies. You must come down,
for we mean to have your blood.”

“I cannot,” said the Mouse-Deer, “because the King has asked me to watch
his gong,” pointing to the bee’s-nest.

“Is that the King’s gong?” said the Deer. “I should like to strike it to
hear what it sounds like.”

“So you may,” said the Mouse-Deer, “only let me get down and go to some
distance before you do so, as the noise would deafen me.”

So the Mouse-Deer sprang down and ran away. The Deer took a long stick
and struck the bee’s-nest, and the bees flew out angrily and stung him to

The Pig, seeing what had happened, pursued the Mouse-Deer, determined to
avenge the death of his friend. He found his enemy taking refuge on a
tree round the trunk of which was a large python curled.

“Come down,” said the Pig, “and I will kill you.”

“I cannot come down to-day. I am set here to watch the King’s girdle.
Look at it,” he said, pointing to the Python. “Is it not pretty? I have
never seen such a handsome waist-belt before.”

“It is beautiful,” said the Pig. “How I should like to wear it for one

“So you may,” said the Mouse-Deer, “but be careful, and do not spoil it.”

So the foolish Pig entangled himself in the folds of the Python, who
soon crushed him to death and ate him for his dinner, and the clever
Mouse-Deer escaped, having outwitted his enemies.


King Solomon, we are told, “spake three thousand proverbs,” and many of
these, as well as proverbs of an older date, have been handed down to us
in a more or less authentic form. A translation of them into English is
to be found in a well-known book. King Solomon was perhaps the first to
make a collection of proverbs, but long before his time proverbs were
in common use. It would seem that in every age and in every clime the
existence of language is accompanied by the existence of proverbs.

The Sea Dyaks have their proverbs, and these remind us of the lines:—

    “Turn, turn thy wheel! The human race,
       Of every tongue, of every place,
     Caucasian, Coptic, or Malay,
       All that inhabit this great earth,
     Whatever be their rank or worth,
       Are kindred and allied by birth,
     And made of the same clay.”

It is impossible to imagine two nationalities so far removed from each
other in every respect as the English and the Dyak, and yet, when we
come to consider their proverbs, we find that they join hands and stand
on common ground. Allowing for difference in environment, and consequent
difference of similes, the ideas expressed in many Dyak proverbs is
precisely similar to that of some well known among the English.

The three following examples, taken from among many others, which are
often used by the Dyaks of the present day, will illustrate what I mean:—

_Remaung di rumah, rawong di tanah_ (“A tiger in the house, [but] a frog
in the field”). A lion in council, but a lamb in action.

_Kasih ka imbok, enda kasih ka manok_ (“To show kindness to the wild
pigeon, [but] not to show kindness to the domestic fowl”). Charity begins
at home.

_Lari ka ribut nemu ujan, lari ka sungkup nemu pendam_ (“Running from the
hurricane, he encounters the rain; running from a tombstone, he finds
himself in a graveyard”). Out of the frying-pan into the fire.

Necessarily, a great deal in human life changes as the years roll on.
Science grows, knowledge increases, society makes its way to new forms of
organization, and the outward fashions of life pass away, and new ones
take their place. All this is obvious and inevitable. And so there must
of necessity be many points of difference between primitive races and
races high up in the scale of civilization. Yet in human life there are
certain things which are always the same. Underneath what is variable in
man there is that which never changes. Now and again we catch glimpses
of this as we read some ancient author, and find that across the gap of
ages lived one who, thousands of years ago, in some respects, at least,
thought as we think and felt as we feel. The radical fundamental thoughts
and passions of mankind all over the world, in every age, are much
the same; and so, after consideration, it ought not to be a matter of
surprise to find that some of the Sea Dyak proverbs convey precisely the
same ideas as the proverbs of the English.



    Dyak fairy-tales and legends—I. DANJAI AND THE WERE-TIGER’S
    SISTER—II. THE STORY OF SIU, who first taught the Dyaks to
    observe the omens of birds—III. PULANG GANA, and how he came to
    be worshipped as the god of the earth.

There are many fairy-tales and legends known to the Sea Dyaks of the
present day. As they have no written language, these have been handed
down by word of mouth from generation to generation from ancient times.
These tales and legends may be divided into two classes:—

1. Those purely fabulous, and related as such, which are simply meant
to interest and amuse, and in these respects resemble the fairy-tales
familiar to us all.

2. And those believed to be perfectly true, and to record events which
have actually taken place, which are the traditions respecting their
gods and preternatural beings. These form, in fact, the mythology of the
Dyaks. To this latter class belong the many and varied adventures of
_Klieng_, the great warrior hero of ancient times, and his wife _Kumang_,
the Dyak Venus, as well as the traditions relating to the gods believed
in by the Dyaks of the present day. To these must be added certain
stories which give a reason for some of the curious customs observed by
the Dyaks. The three myths which follow belong to this latter class. The
Dyak legends are fast being forgotten, and I had the greatest difficulty
in obtaining the few here preserved.


Once upon a time there lived a great Chief named Danjai. He was the head
of one of the longest Dyak houses that were ever built. It was situated
on a hill in the midst of a large plantation of fruit trees. Danjai was
said to be very rich indeed. He possessed much farming land, many fruit
trees, many _tapang_ trees, where the wild bees made their abode, and
from which the sweet honey is obtained, and in his room there were many
valuable jars of various kinds, and also a large number of brass vessels;
for the Dyaks convert their wealth into jars and brassware to hand down
to posterity. Every year he obtained a plentiful harvest of paddy,[2]
much more than he and his family could consume, and he had always much
paddy for sale, so much so that the news of his wealth travelled to
distant lands, and many from afar off would come and buy paddy from him.
Danjai also possessed many slaves, who were ready to help him in his work.

All the people in his house had a very high opinion of his judgment,
and were ready to obey his decisions, whenever he settled any of their
disputes. So great indeed was his reputation for wisdom that men from
distant villages would often consult him and ask his advice when in
any difficulty. He had also great fame as a brave warrior, and during
expeditions against the enemy, he was the leader of the men of his own
village and of many villages around, for all liked to follow such a brave
man as Danjai, who was sure to lead them to victory. Over the fireplace
in his veranda he had, hanging together in a bunch, the dried heads of
the enemies whom he himself had killed.

Now this man Danjai had a very pretty wife whom he had recently married,
but the marriage feast had not been held, because he had not yet obtained
a human head from the enemy as a token of his love for her: for this girl
was of good birth and a Chief’s daughter, and wanted the whole world to
know, when they attended her marriage feast, what a brave man her husband
was. One day Danjai said to his young wife: “I will hold a meeting of the
Chiefs around, and tell them that we must all get our war-boats ready, as
I intend leading an expedition against the enemy. I should like to bring
you a human head as a token of my love, so that you may not be ashamed of
your husband. And as soon as I return, we will have the wedding feast.”
Though his wife was sorry that her husband intended leaving her, still
she did not oppose his wishes, for she wished him to come back covered
with glory. So a council of war was held, and Danjai told the assembled
Chiefs what he intended to do, and it was decided that all should begin
at once making war-boats, which were to be ready in two months’ time.

Assisted by his slaves and followers, Danjai had been at work at his boat
for several weeks, and it was nearly finished. It was a beautiful boat
made out of the trunk of one large tree, and Danjai was proud of his
work. He was so anxious to finish his boat that one day he started very
early in the morning, before his breakfast was ready, and he asked his
wife to bring his food to him later on to the part of the jungle where he
was working at his boat.

Accordingly, Mrs. Danjai cooked the food and ate her own breakfast. Then
she made up a small bundle of rice and also put together some fish and
salt, and placed all in a little basket to take to her husband. She had
never been out in the jungle by herself before, but she was not afraid,
for her husband had told her the way, and she could hear the sound of his
adze as he worked at his boat not very far off. She hung her basket over
her left shoulder, and, holding her small knife in her right hand, went
cheerfully on. Presently she came to the stump of a tree on which was
placed a bunch of ripe _sibau_ fruit. They looked so tempting that she
could not help eating some of them, and as they were very nice, she put
what remained in her basket, saying to herself: “Perhaps Danjai forgot to
take these with him and left them here. I will take them to him myself;
he will no doubt be glad to eat these ripe fruits after his hard work.”

Now there was in this land a Were-Tiger, that was much feared by all
who lived around. He had the appearance of a man, but at times would
transform himself into a tiger, and then he would attack human beings
and carry off their heads as trophies to his own house. But he never
attacked any unless they had first done wrong by taking something which
belonged to him. So this Were-Tiger would leave tempting fruit by the
side of jungle paths, and on the stumps of trees, in the hope that some
tired traveller would take and eat them. And if anyone ate such fruit,
then he or she was doomed to be killed by him that same day. But all knew
about him, and though he placed many tempting baits in all parts of the
jungle, no one touched his fruit, for all feared the fate which awaited
them if they did any such things. But Danjai’s wife knew nothing about
the Were-Tiger. No one had told her of him, and she had never been out
before in the jungle by herself, and she had never been warned not to
touch any fruit she might find lying about.

“Oh, Danjai,” she said, as soon as she met her husband, “I am afraid I am
rather late. You must be very tired and hungry, working the whole morning
at your boat without having had anything to eat. Never mind! Here is your
breakfast at last.” And she handed the basket which contained his food to
her husband.

Now Danjai was really very hungry, so he was glad to see his food had
arrived. He thanked his wife, and at once began to empty the basket.

The first thing he saw was the ripe _sibau_ fruit at the top, and he
asked his wife where she got them from. She told him she had found them
on the stump of a tree by the wayside, and she said she thought they had
been left there by him. She added with a smile that they were very good,
as she had eaten some herself.

Then Danjai, brave man though he was, turned pale with fear and anxiety.

“We must not linger here a moment,” he said to his wife. “Hungry though
I am, I will not eat my food here. We must both hurry home at once. You
have taken and eaten fruit belonging to the Were-Tiger, so much feared by
all. It is said that whoever touches his fruit will surely die a terrible
death: and you are the first person I know who has done so.”


She is wearing a necklace of small silver current coins, fastened
together with silver links. The bangles are hollow, and of silver or
brass, made separately, but worn several together on each wrist. The two
favourite colours for petticoats are blue and red. The red petticoat, as
in the picture, has often a design in white worked or woven into it.]

Danjai hurriedly gathered together all his tools and told those that were
with him of his trouble, and they all started and walked silently back.
Danjai was wondering how he was to avert the fate which awaited his young
wife. She was silent, because she saw her husband was troubled, and she
was sorry that she had caused him grief.

As soon as they arrived at the house, Danjai sent for all the men round
about and told them what had happened, how his wife had taken and eaten
the fruit of the Were-Tiger. He begged them all to help to shield her,
for the Were-Tiger was sure to have his revenge, and come and take the
head of his wife.

So they all prepared themselves for the tiger’s visit by sharpening
their knives and spears. Some men placed themselves on the roof of the
house, others in the veranda. The ladder leading up to the house was also
guarded, and so were all parts of the house by which he was likely to
force an entrance. As for Danjai’s wife, they hid her beneath some mats
and sheets in the room, and twelve brave men stood round her with their
swords drawn, ready to save her life even at the cost of their own.

Just before dark they heard the roar of the tiger in the distance. Though
still a long way off, the sound was very terrible to hear, and the men
all grasped their swords and spears firmly, for they knew the tiger would
soon be upon them.

Once more the tiger’s roar sounded, nearer and clearer, and then they
heard him crash through the leaf-thatch roof and fall into the room.
There was a great commotion among the men, but though all tried to kill
the animal, none could see him. Soon after they heard a roar of triumph
from the tiger outside the house. They lifted up the mats and sheets
which covered Danjai’s wife, and there they saw her headless body! The
Were-Tiger had succeeded in his attack, and had carried off the head of
his victim!

Loud was the weeping and great the lamentation over her dead body. She
was so young to die! And what death could be more terrible than hers
whose head had been carried away by her murderer! All in the house
mourned her loss for seven days, and during that time the house was very
quiet, as all lived in their separate rooms, and did not come out into
the common veranda to do work or to talk to each other.

The death of his wife grieved Danjai very much. But though his grief was
great, his desire for revenge was greater still.

Very early on the morning of the next day Danjai started after the tiger.
The drops of blood which had fallen could plainly be seen on the ground,
and he had no difficulty in finding out in what direction the tiger had
gone. On and on he tracked the blood till he came to a cave at the foot
of a high mountain. The sides of the cave were splashed with blood, so
Danjai walked boldly in, determined to revenge the death of his wife. It
was not very dark in the cave. In the distance he could see an opening,
and he hurried towards it.

He came out on the other side of the mountain, and saw a large plantation
of sugar-cane and plantain-trees. Beyond this he saw a long Dyak house.

“This,” he said to himself, “is surely the abode of the Were-Tiger, and
soon I shall have an opportunity of revenging the death of my wife.”

He planted two sticks one across the other in the ground to mark the
opening in the mountain, so that he might not miss his way on his return,
and then he boldly walked towards the house.

He followed a path through the sugar-cane plantation—still tracking the
drops of blood upon the ground—until he came to the ladder leading up to
the house. He was so anxious to attack his wife’s murderer that he did
not pause to ask—as is the usual Dyak custom—whether he might walk up
or not, but went straight on into the house. Men sitting in the veranda
asked him, as he passed them, where he was going and what he wanted, but
he did not answer them. His heart was heavy within him, thinking of his
dead wife, and wondering if he would be able to accomplish his task,
and whether he would succeed in leaving the house as easily as he came
in. But he was determined to avenge his wife’s murder, and he would not
shrink from any difficulties in the way.

He stopped at the room of the headman of the house, and a girl asked him
to sit down, and spread a mat for him. He did so, and the girl went into
the room to fetch the brass vessel containing the betel-nut ingredients
which the Dyaks love to chew. As he sat down, he saw drops of blood on
the fireplace, and, looking up, he noticed a fresh head, still dripping
with blood, among the other skulls hanging there. He recognized it at a
glance—it was the head of his loved wife!

The girl came out with the brass vessel of betel-nut, and said: “Help
yourself, Danjai. We did not expect you to visit us so soon. Please
excuse me for a while; I have to attend to the cooking. But you will
not be alone, for my brother will soon be back. He has only gone to the
plantation to fetch some sugar-cane.”

So Danjai sat on the mat by himself, thinking what he was to do next,
and what he was to say to his wife’s murderer when he came in. Soon the
Were-Tiger arrived, carrying on his shoulder a bundle of sugar-cane.

“I am very pleased to see you, Danjai,” he said. “Would you like some
sugar-cane? If so, help yourself.”

Danjai was so sad thinking of his wife that he did not notice how curious
it was that they should know his name when they had never seen him
before. He did not feel at all inclined to eat sugar-cane, but lest his
host should think he had come to kill, and to put him off his guard, he
pretended to eat a little. He heard the Were-Tiger say to his sister in
the room that she was to be sure to have enough food cooked, as Danjai
would eat with them that evening. Then he left them and went to the river
to bathe.

The sister came out of the room, and spoke to Danjai, who was still
sitting in the veranda, and asked him to come into the room, as she had
something to say to him.

“Yes, Danjai,” she said to him in a kind tone of voice, “I know of your
trouble and I am sorry for you. However, if you follow my advice, all
will be well. You must be careful, for my brother is easily put out, and
has no scruples about killing any who displease him. Our own people here
hate him, for he is so merciless; but no one dares attack him, for all
fear him greatly. Now listen attentively to what I have to say. When I
put out the plates of rice in the room presently, do not take the one
he tells you to have: take any of the others, for the one he wishes you
to have is sure to contain some poison. Later on, when you retire to
rest, do not spend the night on the mat spread out for you, but sleep
somewhere else, and put the wooden mortar for pounding paddy on the mat
in your stead; and so again on the second night, place the wooden mill
for husking the paddy on your mat; and on the third night a roll of the
coarse matting used for treading paddy. If his three attempts to kill
you are unsuccessful, then he will be in your power, and will do what
you command. But even then there is still danger, and you must not do
anything rash, but ask my advice again later on. But go outside now into
the veranda, for I think I hear my brother returning from his bath. I
must make haste and put out the food for you all to eat.”

Soon the Were-Tiger came in, and, sitting on the mat by Danjai, asked him
the news and how matters were in his country. Danjai answered little,
for he was very sad; besides, his host always laughed at him whenever he
spoke. The fact was that he was amused at the idea of the man whose wife
he had killed sitting in his veranda and talking to him in a friendly way.

The sister came out of the room and asked them in to have their meal. All
happened as she said it would. Danjai remembered her advice, and did not
take the plate of rice his host offered him. But he was too sad to eat

In the evening Danjai and the Were-Tiger sat by a fire in the veranda.
Over this fire hung several human heads. The tears came into Danjai’s
eyes as he sat there and saw the head of his dear wife being scorched by
the fire. He felt inclined there and then to grasp his sword and attack
her murderer; but he restrained himself, remembering the advice of the
Tiger’s sister.

The Were-Tiger said to him with a nasty laugh: “What is troubling you
that you should weep?”

“I am not troubled about anything,” said Danjai; “but the smoke of the
fire is too much for my eyes, and it makes them water and feel sore.”

“If so,” said his host, “let us put out the fire and retire to rest, as
it is very late.”

Two mats were spread out for them, one on each side of the fireplace, and
they lay down to sleep. But Danjai kept awake, and when his companion was
asleep, he rose and placed the wooden mortar for pounding paddy on his
mat, and covered it over with a sheet; and he himself retired to a safe
place, as he was advised to do by the Tiger’s sister. He watched to see
what would happen, and he was not disappointed. Not long after, he saw
the Were-Tiger wake up and fetch a sword, and walk up to the place where
he was supposed to be asleep. With the sword he made two or three vicious
cuts at the wooden mortar, and said:

“Now, Danjai, this will settle you. You will not think of revenging
yourself on me any more.”

Then Danjai cried out from where he was: “What is the matter? What are
you doing?”

“Oh, Danjai! Is that you?” said his host. “I did not mean to hurt you. I
had a bad dream, and I sometimes walk in my sleep. How lucky it is you
were not lying on the mat! I should have certainly killed you, and I
should never have forgiven myself for doing so. Please understand I meant
no harm to you, and let us lie down to rest again.”

On the two following nights the Were-Tiger attempted to kill Danjai, but
failed each time, because, following the advice given him, Danjai placed
first the wooden mill for husking the paddy on his mat, and next a roll
of coarse matting used for treading paddy. His host made the same excuse
for his strange behaviour each time.

On the morning of the fourth day, after the Were-Tiger had left the house
to see whether any fish had been caught in his fish-trap, his sister
asked Danjai to come into the room, as she had something to say to him
before he left to return home.

“Now, Danjai,” she said, “as I told you before, since my brother has
not been able to kill you these three days, he is in your power. After
breakfast ask him to accompany you and show you the way back to your
country. When you have both come to the farther end of the sugar-cane
plantation, beg him to sit down for a little while, and say you would
like to eat some sugar-cane before you leave him and go on your journey
alone. When he gives you the sugar-cane, ask him to lend you his sword,
giving as an excuse that yours is not sharp enough for peeling the
sugar-cane, or that it is stuck fast in its sheath and cannot be drawn.
When he hands you his sword, you must attack him with it and kill him.
My brother is invulnerable to any other sword but his own. When you have
killed him, cut off his head and bring it to me, and I will give you your
wife’s head in exchange for it.”

A few minutes after this conversation the Were-Tiger returned with a
basket full of fish. Some of these were soon cooked, and they sat down to

Soon after they had eaten, Danjai told his host that he must be returning
to his own country, and asked him to accompany him and show him his
way back. So they started together and walked through the sugar-cane

Just as they came near the end of it, Danjai begged his companion to
stop. He said he would like to have some sugar-cane before going on.

“I am sorry I did not offer you any,” said the Were-Tiger; “it was very
forgetful of me. Never mind, I will at once cut down some sugar-cane for

When he had brought the sugar-cane and had finished peeling the piece he
wanted for himself, Danjai said to him:

“Please lend me your sword, for mine is stuck fast in its sheath, and I
cannot draw it out.”

The Were-Tiger, suspecting nothing, handed the sword to him, and Danjai
began peeling his sugar-cane.

Just then the Were-Tiger turned round to look at his house, and Danjai,
seizing his opportunity, gave him a blow with the sword and killed him.
Then he cut off the head and carried it back with him to the house he had
just left.

When he came near, he saw the sister watching for his return, and
standing at the top of the ladder leading up to the house. He followed
her into the house, and gave her the head of her brother.

“You ought to be quite satisfied now, Danjai,” she said, “for you have
taken your revenge for the death of your wife. I want you to promise me
certain things before you go. First of all, you must not let anybody know
that you have killed my brother. Next, on your return, you must go on the
warpath and bring back to me the head of a woman, to enable me to put
away the mourning of myself and my relatives for the death of my brother.
And then I hope you will take me with you as your wife. And I give you
now some locks of my hair, to be used as a charm to make you invisible
to the enemy, when you are on the warpath. Lastly, I advise you and your
people never to eat or to take away any fruit you may find lying about
in the jungle, on the stump of a tree, or on a rock, without knowing for
certain who put it there and to whom it belongs, or making sure that it
has fallen from some tree near. This must be remembered from generation
to generation. Whoever disobeys this advice will be punished by death.
You may now have the head of your wife to take back to your country.”

As she finished speaking, she handed him his wife’s head, and Danjai
started off at once, for he was anxious to get back.

He reached his house late that same evening. All his friends were glad to
see him come back safe and sound. They had given up all hope of seeing
him again. They were also pleased to see he had been successful in
bringing back the head of his dead wife.

Soon after Danjai’s return from the Were-Tiger’s country, he gathered
all his followers together and told them that he intended going on the
warpath. As soon as they were able to get everything ready, they started
for the enemy’s country. They were very successful, and succeeded in
taking many heads; but Danjai, protected as he was by the charm which he
had received from the Were-Tiger’s sister, was more successful than the
others. They resumed with much rejoicing, and a great feast was held in
honour of their victory. The human heads were placed on a costly dish,
and the women carried them into the house with dancing and singing.

A few days after, Danjai started to fulfil his promise to the
Were-Tiger’s sister. He brought her back with him as his wife, and they
lived very happily together for many years.

This story explains why the Dyaks, even at the present day, dare not eat
any fruit they may find lying on the stump of a tree, or on a rock in the
jungle. They fear that evil will happen to them as it did to Danjai’s


    Many thousands of years ago, before the paddy-plant was known,
    the Dyaks lived on tapioca, yams, potatoes, and such fruit as
    they could procure. It was not till Siu taught them how to
    plant paddy that such a thing as rice was known. The story of
    how he came to learn of the existence of this important article
    of food, and how he and his son Seragunting introduced it among
    their people, is set forth in the following pages.

Siu was the son of a great Dyak Chief. His father died when he was quite
a child, and at the time this story begins he lived with his mother,
and was the head of a long Dyak house in which lived some three hundred
families. He was strong and active, and handsome in appearance, and
there was no one in the country round equal to him either in strength or
comeliness. When ready to go on the warpath, he was the admiration of
all the Dyak damsels. On these occasions he appeared in a many-coloured
waist-cloth, twelve fathoms in length, wound round and round his body.
On his head he wore a plaited rattan band, in which were stuck some
long feathers of the hornbill. His coat was woven of threads of bright
colours. On each well-shaped arm was an armlet of ivory. To his belt were
fastened his sword and the many charms and amulets that he possessed.
With his spear in his right hand and his shield on his left arm, he
presented a splendid type of a Dyak warrior. But it is not of Siu’s
bravery nor of his deeds of valour against the enemy that this tale
relates. It tells only of an adventure which ended in his discovery of

He proposed to the young men of his house that they should take their
blowpipes with them and go into the jungle to shoot birds. So one morning
they all started early. Each man had with him his bundle of food for the
day, and each went a different way, as they wished to see, on returning
in the evening, who would be the most successful of them all.

Siu went towards a mountain not far from his house, and wandered about
the whole morning in the jungle, but, strange to say, he did not see any
bird, nor did he meet with any animal. Everything was very quiet and
still. Worn out with fatigue, he sat down to rest under a large tree,
and, feeling hungry, he ate some of the food he had brought with him.
It was now long past midday, and he had not been able to kill a single
bird! Surely none of the others could be so unfortunate as he! Determined
not to be beaten by the others, after a short rest he started again,
and wandered on in quest of birds. The sun had gone half-way down in
the western heaven, and Siu was beginning to lose heart, when suddenly
he heard not far off the sound of birds. Hurrying in that direction, he
came to a wild fig-tree covered with ripe fruit, which a large number of
birds were busy eating. Never before had he seen such a sight! On this
one tree the whole feathered population of the forest seemed to have
assembled together! Looking more carefully, he was surprised to see that
the different kinds of birds were not all intermingled together as is
usually the case, but each species was apart from the others. He saw a
large flock of wild pigeons on one branch, and next to them were the
parrots, all feeding together, but keeping distinct from them. Upon the
same tree there were hornbills, woodpeckers, wild pigeons, and all the
different kinds of birds he had ever seen.

Siu hid himself under the thick leaves of a shrub growing near, very
much pleased at his luck, and, taking a poisoned dart, he placed it in
his blow-pipe, and shot it out. He had aimed at one bird in a particular
flock, and hit it. But that bird was not the only one that fell dead at
his feet. To his astonishment, he saw that many of the other birds near
it were killed also. Again he shot out a dart, and again the same thing
happened. In a very short time Siu had killed as many birds as he could
carry. As the little basket in which he had brought his food was too
small to hold them all, he set to work and made a coarse basket with the
bark of a _pendok_ tree growing near. Then he put his load on his back
and started to return home, glad that he had been so successful.

He tried to return the same way by which he had come, but as he had not
taken the precaution to cut marks in the trees he passed, he very soon
found himself in difficulties. He wandered about, sometimes passing by
some large tree which he seemed to remember seeing in the morning. He
climbed up a steep hill and went several miles through a large forest,
but did not find the jungle path which he had followed early in the day.
It was beginning to grow dusk and the sun had nearly set.


He is seated on the ground with his blow-pipe held in position to his
mouth. He is just in the act of blowing out one of his poisoned darts,
some of which are lying on the ground in front of him. To his waist is
fastened the bamboo receptacle in which the darts are kept.]

“I must hurry on,” said Siu to himself, “in the hope of finding some
house where I can get food and shelter. Once it is dark I shall be forced
to spend the night in the jungle.”

Coming to a part of the jungle which had lately been a garden, he thought
there must be a path from it leading to some house, so he began to walk
round it. Soon he found an old disused path, which he followed. By this
time it was quite dark, and Siu made haste to reach the Dyak house which
he felt sure was not very far off. He came to a well, and near at hand he
saw the lights and heard the usual sounds of a Dyak house. He was glad to
think that he would not have to spend the night in the jungle, but would
be able to get food and shelter at the house. He stopped to have a bath,
and hid the birds he was carrying and his blow-pipe and quiver in the
brushwood near the well, hoping to take them with him when he started to
return the next morning.

As he approached the house, he could hear the voices of the people there.
When he came to the bottom of the ladder leading up to the house, he
shouted: “Oh, you people in the house, will you allow a stranger to walk
up?” At once there was dead silence in the house. No one answered. Again
Siu asked the same question, and after a pause a voice answered, “Yes;
come up!”

He walked up into the house. To his surprise he saw no one in the open
veranda in front of the different rooms. That part of a Dyak house,
usually so crowded, was quite empty. Nor did he hear the voices of people
talking in any of the rooms. All was silent. Even the person who answered
him was not there to receive him.

He saw a dim light in the veranda further on, in the middle of the house,
and walked towards it, wondering the while what could have happened to
all the people in the house, for not long before he had heard many voices.

“This seems to be a strange house,” he said to himself. “When I was
bathing, and when I walked up to the house, it seemed to be well
inhabited, but now that I come in, I see no one and hear no voice.”

When Siu reached the light he sat down on a mat. Presently he heard a
woman’s voice in the room say: “Sit down, Siu; I will bring out the
_pinang_[3] and _sireh_[4] to you.”

Siu was very pleased to hear a human voice. Soon a young and remarkably
beautiful girl came out of the room with the chewing ingredients, which
she placed before him.

“Here you are at last, Siu,” she said; “I expected you would come
earlier. How is it you are so late?”

Siu explained that he had stopped at the well to have a bath, as he was
hot and tired.

“You must be very hungry,” said the girl; “wait a moment while I prepare
some food. After you have eaten, we can have our talk together.”

When Siu was left to himself, he wondered what it all meant. Here was a
long Dyak house, built for more than a hundred families to live in, and
yet it seemed quite deserted. The only person in it appeared to be the
beautiful girl who was cooking his food for him. Again, he was surprised
that she knew his name and expected him that day.

“Come in, Siu,” said the voice from the room; “your food is ready.”

Siu was very hungry, and went in at once, and sat down to eat his dinner.

When they had done eating, she cleared away the plates and put things
back into their places and tidied the room. Then she spread out a new
mat for him, and brought out the _pinang_ and _sireh_, and bade him be
seated, as she wished to have a chat with him.

Siu had many questions to ask, and as soon as they were both seated, he

“Why are you all alone in this house? This is a long house, and many
families must live in it. Where are the others? Why is everything so
silent now? I am sure I heard voices before I entered the house; but now
I hear no sound.”

“Do not let us talk about this house or the people in it for the present.
I would much rather talk of other matters. Tell me of your own people,
and what news you bring from your country.”

“There is no news to give you,” Siu replied. “We have been rather badly
off for food, as our potatoes and yams did not turn out so well this year
as we hoped.”

“Tell me what made you come in this direction, and how it was you found
out this house.”

“While I was hunting in the jungle to-day I lost my way. After wandering
about a long time, I found a path which I followed and came to this
house. It was kind of you to take me in and give me food. If I had not
found this house, I would have been lost in the jungle. To-morrow morning
you must show me the way to my country, and also I must beg of you some
food for my journey back. My mother is sure to be anxious about me. She
is left all alone now that I am away. My father died a long time ago,
and I am her only son.”

“Do not go away as soon as to-morrow morning. Stay here a few days at any

At first Siu would not consent, but she spoke so nicely to him that she
succeeded in persuading him to stay there at least a week. Then he went
out to the veranda, and she brought out a mat for him to sleep on and a
sheet to cover himself with. As Siu was very tired, he soon fell sound
asleep, and did not wake up till late on the following morning.

He saw some little children playing about the next day, but he did not
see any grown-up people. He went into the room to have his morning meal,
but saw no one there, except the girl he had seen the evening before. He
felt very much inclined to ask her again where the people of the house
were, but he did not do so, as she did not seem inclined to speak about

Now though Siu knew it not, this was the house of the great Singalang
Burong, the Ruler of the Spirit-World. He was able to metamorphose
himself and his followers into any form. When going forth on an
expedition against the enemy, he would transform himself and his
followers into birds, so that they might travel more quickly. Over the
high trees of the jungle, over the broad rivers, sometimes even across
the sea, Singalang Burong and his flock would fly. There was no trouble
about food, for in the forests there were always some wild trees in
fruit, and, while assuming the form of birds, they lived on the food
of birds. In his own house and among his own people, Singalang Burong
appeared as a man. He had eight daughters, and the girl who was cooking
food for Siu was the youngest of them.

The reason why the people of the house were so quiet, and did not make
their appearance, was because they were all in mourning for many of their
relatives who had been killed some time back. Only the women and children
were at home, because that same morning all the men had gone forth to
make a raid upon some neighbouring tribe, so that they might bring home
some human heads to enable them to end their mourning. For it was the
custom that the people of a house continued to be in mourning for dead
relatives until one or more human heads were brought to the house. Then a
feast was held, and all mourning was at an end.

After Siu had been in the house seven days, he thought he ought to think
of returning to his own people. By this time he was very much in love
with the girl who had been so kind to him, and he wished above all things
to marry her, and take her back with him to his own country.

“I have been here a whole week,” he said to her, “and though you have not
told me your name, still I seem to know you very well. I have a request
to make, and I hope you will not be angry at what I say.”

“Speak on; I promise I will not be angry whatever you may say.”

“I have learnt to love you very much,” said Siu, “and I would like to
marry you if you will consent, so that I shall not leave you, but take
you with me, when I return to my own land. Also I wish you to tell me
your name, and why this house is so silent, and where all the people
belonging to it are.”

“I will consent to marry you, for I also love you. But you must first
promise me certain things. In the first place, you must not tell your
people of this house, and what you have seen here. Then also you must
promise faithfully never to hurt a bird or even to hold one in your
hands. If ever you break this promise, then we cease to be man and wife.
And, of course, you must never kill a bird, because, if you do so, I
shall not only leave you, but revenge myself on you. Do you promise these

“Yes,” said Siu; “I promise not to speak of what I have seen here until
you give me leave to do so. And as you do not wish it, I will never touch
or handle a bird, and certainly never kill one.”

“Now that you have promised what I wish, I will tell you about
myself and the people of this house,” said the maiden. “My name is
_Endu-Sudan-Galinggam-Tinchin-Mas_ (the girl Sudan painted like a gold
ring), but my people call me by my pet names, _Bunsu Burong_ (the
youngest of the bird family), and _Bunsu Katupong_ (the youngest of the
_Katupong_ family). This house, as you noticed, seems very empty. The
reason is that a month ago many of our people were killed by some of the
people of your house, and we are all still in mourning for them. As you
know, when our relatives have lately died, we stay silent in our rooms,
and do not come out to receive visitors or to entertain them. Why are
your people so cruel to us? They often kill our men when they go out
fishing or hunting. On the morning of the day on which you arrived, all
the men of this house went on the warpath, so as to obtain the heads of
some of the enemy to enable us to put away our mourning. With us as with
you, it is necessary that one or more human heads be brought into the
house before the inmates can give up sorrowing for their dead relatives
and friends. You see us now in the form of human beings, but all the
people in this house are able to transform themselves into birds. My
father, Singalang Burong, is the head of this house. I am the youngest of
eight sisters; we have no brother alive. Our only brother died not long
ago, and we are still in mourning for him, and that is the reason why my
sisters did not come out to greet you.”

Siu heard with surprise all she had to say. He said to himself that it
was lucky he did not bring up to the house the basket of birds which he
had killed in the jungle, and that he had hidden them with his blow-pipe
and quiver containing poisoned darts in the brushwood near the well.
He determined to say nothing about the matter, as probably some of her
friends or relations were among the birds that were killed by him.

So Siu married Bunsu Burong, and continued to live in the house for
several weeks.

One day he said to his wife: “I have been here a long time. My people
must surely be wondering where I am, and whether I am still alive. My
mother, too, must be very anxious about me. I should like to return to my
people, and I want you to accompany me. My mother and my friends are sure
to welcome you as my wife.”

“Oh yes, I will gladly accompany you back to your home. But you must
remember and say nothing of the things you have seen in this house. When
shall we start?”

“We can start early to-morrow morning, soon after breakfast,” answered

They started early the next day, taking with them food enough for four
days, as they expected the journey would last as long as that. Siu’s wife
seemed to know the way, and after journeying for three days, they came to
the stream near the house, and they stopped to have a bath. Some of the
children of the house saw them there, and ran up to the house, and said:
“Siu has come back, and with him is a beautiful woman, who seems to be
his wife.”

Some of the older people checked the children, saying: “It cannot be Siu;
he has been dead for a long time. Don’t mention his name, for if his
mother hears you talk of him, it will make her very unhappy.”

But the children persisted in saying that it was indeed Siu that they had
seen. Just then Siu and his wife appeared and walked up to the house.

Siu said to his wife: “The door before which I hang up my sword is the
door of my room. Walk straight in. You will find my mother there, and she
will be sure to gladly welcome you as her daughter-in-law.”

When they came into the house, all the inmates rushed out to meet
them, and to congratulate Siu on his safe return. They asked him many
questions: where had he been living all this time? how he came to be
married? and what was the name of his wife’s country? But Siu answered
little, as he remembered the promise he had made to his wife, that he
would not speak of what he had seen in her house.

When they reached the door of his room, Siu hung up his sword, and his
wife went into the room. But she did not see his mother, as she was ill,
and was lying in her mosquito-curtain. Then Siu followed his wife into
the room, and called out: “Mother, where are you? Here is your son Siu
come back!”

But his mother made no answer, so he opened her curtain, and saw her
lying down, covered up with a blanket. She had been so troubled at the
thought that her son was dead, that she had refused to eat, and had
become quite ill.

She would not believe that her son had really returned alive, and she
said: “Do not try to deceive me; my son Siu is dead.”

“I am indeed your son Siu, and I have come back alive and well!”

“No,” she replied, “my son Siu is dead. Leave me alone; I have not long
to live. Let me die in peace, and follow my son to the grave.”

Siu then went to the box in which his clothes were kept and put on the
things that his mother had often seen him wear. Then he went to her
again, and said: “Even if you do not believe that I am your son, at any
rate you might turn round and look at me, to make sure that I am not your

Then she looked at him, and saw that it was indeed her son. She was so
pleased at his return that she soon recovered from her illness, which was
really caused by her sorrow and refusal to eat. Siu told his mother of
his marriage, and she welcomed his wife with joy.

The women all crowded round Siu’s wife, and asked her what her name
was. She answered: “_Endu-Sudan-Galinggam-Tinchin-Mas_” (The girl Sudan
painted like a gold ring). They looked at her in surprise; they had never
heard of such a name before.

“Where do you come from?” they asked. “What is the name of your country?”

“_Nanga Niga Bekurong Bebali nyadi Tekuyong Mabong_” (The mouth of the
hidden Niga stream changed into an empty shell),[5] was the reply.

They were astonished at her answer. They had never heard of such a
country. They asked her of her people, but she would not say anything
more of herself or speak about her people.

Everybody admired the great beauty of Siu’s wife. No more questions were
asked of her, as she seemed unwilling to answer. Her parentage remained a

In process of time Siu’s wife bore him a son whom they named Seragunting.
He was a fine child, and as befitted the grandson of Singalang Burong, he
grew big and strong in a miraculously short time, and when he was three
years old, he was taller and stronger than others four times his age.

One day, as Seragunting was playing with the other boys, a man brought up
some birds which he had caught in a trap. As he walked through the house
he passed Siu, who was sitting in the open veranda. Siu, forgetting the
promise he had made to his wife, asked him to show him the birds, and he
took one in his hands and stroked it. His wife was sitting not far off,
and saw him hold the bird, and was very much vexed that he had broken his
promise to her.

She got up and returned to her room. Siu came in and noticed that she was
troubled, and asked her what was wrong. She said that she was only tired.

She said to herself: “My husband has broken his word to me. He has done
the thing he promised me he would never do. I told him he was never to
hold a bird in his hands, and that if he did such a thing, I would leave
him. I cannot stay here in this house any longer. I must return to the
house of my father, Singalang Burong.”

She took the water-vessels in her hands, and went out as if to fetch
water. But when she came to the well, she placed the water-vessels on the
ground and disappeared in the jungle.

[Illustration: A DYAK GIRL

Seated on a mat and folding up a petticoat before putting it away. The
girls are very careful of their clothing and are often very vain, but
when they are married they frequently become very untidy. A woman’s
wardrobe is not extensive. It consists of two petticoats and one jacket
as a general rule.]


With this the women tie up the threads they weave, so that when they are
dipped in any particular dye the parts which are tied may not be affected
by the dye. It is by this means that the different patterns in Dyak cloth
are obtained.]

In the meantime Seragunting, tired with his play, came back in search of
his mother. She was very fond indeed of him, and he expected her to come
to him as soon as he called out to her. But he was disappointed. No one
answered his call, and when he looked in the room she was not there. He
asked his father where his mother was, and he told him that she had just
gone to the well to fetch water, and would soon be back.

But hour after hour passed, and she did not return to the house. So
Seragunting began to be anxious, and asked his father to accompany him to
the well to look for her. At first his father refused to do so, but when
he saw his son crying for his mother, he went with him to the well. They
found the water-vessels there, but saw no signs of her.

“Your mother is not here, Seragunting,” said Siu. “Perhaps she has gone
to the garden to get some vegetables for our dinner. Let us go back to
the house. If your mother is not back early to-morrow morning, we will go
and look for her.” So they both returned to the house, taking back with
them the water-gourds which Siu’s wife had left at the well.

Early the next morning Seragunting and his father went in search of her.
They took with them only a little food, as they expected to find her not
very far off. But they wandered the whole day, and saw no signs of her.
They spent the night under a large tree in the jungle. Early the next
morning they were surprised to find a small bundle of food, wrapped up in
leaves, near Seragunting. This food was evidently meant for him alone,
as it was not enough for two, but he gave some of it to his father, who
ate sparingly of it, so that his son might not be hungry. They wandered
on for several days, and every night the same strange thing occurred—a
bundle of food was left near Seragunting. Siu suggested to his son that
they should return; but Seragunting, who during the journey had grown up
into a strong lad, with a will of his own, would not consent to do so, as
he was determined to find his mother.

They wandered on for several days, deeper and deeper into the jungle, but
could find no signs of her whom they sought. At last they came to the
sea-shore. Here they rested for some days, in the hope that some boat
might pass. Still, as before, each morning a bundle of food was found by
Seragunting. If it were not for this food, they would have long ago died
of starvation. On this they managed to live, waiting hopefully to see
some boat appear to take them on their journey.

One day as Seragunting was watching, he heard the sound of paddles, and
saw in the distance several long boats approaching. He hailed the first,
and asked the men in it to take him and his father with them. The boat
made for the shore, but the man in the bows recognized the two wanderers,
and shouted out: “It is Siu and his son Seragunting; do not let them come
into the boat.” The boat went on and left them to their fate. The same
thing happened in the case of each of the other boats. As soon as Siu and
his son were recognized, no one would help them.

Now these were the boats of the sons-in-law of Singalang Burong:
Katupong, Beragai, Bejampong, Papau, Nendak, Kutok, and Embuas. They were
not pleased at their sister-in-law marrying a mere mortal like Siu, and
so refused to help him and his son.

The next day Seragunting saw what seemed to be a dark cloud come towards
him over the sea. As it came nearer, it took the form of a gigantic
spider, carrying some food and clothes.

“Do not be afraid,” said the Spider; “I have come to help you and your
father. I have brought you food and clothing. When you have eaten and
changed your clothes I will take you across the water to the land on the
other side. My name is Emplawa Jawa (the Spider of Java). I know your
history, and I will lead you to your mother whom you seek.”

After they had eaten and put on the new clothes brought them, the spider
told them to go with him across the sea. They were not to be afraid,
but to follow his track, not turning to the right hand nor to the left.
They obeyed his words. Strange to say, the water became as hard as a
sandbank under their feet. For a long time they were out of sight of
land, but towards evening they approached the opposite shore, and saw a
landing-place where there were a large number of boats. Not far off were
several houses, and one longer and more imposing than any of the others.
To this house the Spider directed Seragunting, telling him that he would
find his mother there. The Spider then left them. As it was late, they
did not go up to the house that evening, but spent the night in one of
the boats at the landing-place. Among the boats were those belonging to
the sons-in-law of Singalang Burong, which had passed Siu and his son as
they waited on the sea-shore for some boat to take them across the sea.

When Seragunting and his father woke up next morning, they saw that the
road leading up to the house had sharpened pieces of bamboo planted close
together to prevent their walking up to it. As they were wondering what
they were to do next, a fly came to Seragunting, and said:

“Do not be afraid to walk up. Tread on the spikes that I alight on; they
will not hurt you. When you come to the house you will find swords with
blades turned upwards fastened to the ladder. Tread on the blades that I
alight on, and walk boldly up into the house.”

They did as the fly advised them, and were not hurt. The bamboo spikes
crumbled under their feet, and the sword-blades they trod on were blunt
and harmless.

The people of the house took no notice of them, and they sat down in the
veranda of the house. Then the fly came to Seragunting, and whispered to
him: “You must now follow me into the room. Your mother is there, lying
in her mosquito curtain. I will point out to you which it is, and you
must wake her up and tell her who you are. She will be very pleased to
see you. Then when you come out into the veranda and see the sons-in-law
of Singalang Burong, you must greet them as your uncles. They will disown
you, and pretend that you are no relation of theirs. But do not be
afraid. You will be victorious in the end.”

Seragunting followed the fly into the room, and went to the curtain on
which it alighted. He called out to his mother, and she awoke and saw
with joy her son. She embraced him, and he said to her:

“How is it you went away and left us? We missed you so much, and were so
sorry to lose you, that my father and I have been travelling for many
days and nights in search of you. Now our troubles are over, for I have
found you.”

“My dear son,” she said as she caressed him, “though I left you I did not
forget you. It was I who placed the food by you every night. I left your
father because he broke the promise he made to me. But you are my own
son, and I have been wishing to see you ever since I left your house.
It was I who sent the Spider to help you and show you your way here. My
love for you is as great as it ever was. We will go out now into the
veranda, and I will introduce you to your uncles and aunts, and to your
grandfather. They may not welcome you, because they were opposed to my
marriage to your father. But do not fear them. We will be more than a
match for them all.”

Then she spoke to her husband Siu, whom she was glad to meet again. All
three then went out into the veranda, which was now full of people.
Seragunting called the sons-in-law of Singalang Burong his uncles, but
they refused to acknowledge him as their nephew.

They proposed several ordeals to prove the truth of his words, that he
was indeed the grandson of Singalang Burong. In all of these Seragunting
came off victorious.

As the men and boys were spinning their tops, they asked Seragunting to
join them. He had no top of his own, so he asked his mother for one. She
took an egg and uttered some mysterious words over it, and immediately it
became a top. This she gave to her son, who went and joined the others
in the game. Whenever Seragunting aimed at a top, he always hit it and
smashed it. None of the others were a match for him. In a short time all
the tops, except that of Seragunting, were broken in pieces.

Then they suggested a wrestling match. Seragunting was quite ready to try
a fall with any of them, old or young. Some of their best wrestlers came
forward. The first two were overthrown by him so easily, that the others
saw it was no use their attempting to wrestle with Seragunting.

As a last trial they proposed that all should go out hunting. Here they
hoped to be more fortunate. All the sons-in-law of Singalang Burong took
their good hunting dogs with them, confident of success. Seragunting was
told that he could have any of the other dogs left in the house. There
he saw a few old dogs, weak and useless for hunting. With these he was
expected to compete against the others, and if he were not successful,
both he and his father were to be killed! Seragunting consented even to
such an unfair ordeal as that. He called to him an old sickly-looking
dog and gently stroked it. At once it became young and strong! While the
others went forth into the jungle with a pack of hounds, Seragunting was
only accompanied by one dog. In the evening Katupong, Beragai, Bejampong,
and the others all returned unsuccessful. Soon after Seragunting’s dog
appeared, chasing a huge boar, which made a stand at the foot of the
ladder of the house. Seragunting asked the others to kill the beast if
they dared. The spears cast at it glided off and left the beast unharmed.
Some of those who were rash enough to go near the animal had a close
escape from being torn in pieces by its tusks.

Seragunting, armed with nothing better than a little knife belonging to
his mother, walked up to the infuriated animal and stabbed it in a vital
part, and it fell down dead at his feet.

After these marvellous feats, all were compelled to admit that
Seragunting was a true grandson of the great Singalang Burong. They all
acknowledged him as such, and he was taken to his grandfather, who was
pleased to see the lad, and promised to help him throughout his life.


The poison from the _tuba_ root is put in the water some distance up
river, and the Dyaks follow it as it drifts, and spear and net the
poisoned fish. The _tuba_ does not seem to affect the flesh of the fish,
which can be cooked and eaten. Many fish swim down river to escape the
poison. These come to this dam, in which there is an opening leading to
an enclosure; in this the fish congregate and are afterwards captured.]

But Siu was unhappy in his new home. He could not help thinking of his
mother, whom he had left alone, and he was anxious to return to his own
people. He begged his wife to accompany him back to his old home, but she
refused to do so. It was decided that Siu and his son should stay in the
house of Singalang Burong till they had obtained such knowledge as would
be useful to them in the future, and that then they were to return to the
lower world, bringing with them the secrets they had learnt from those
wiser and more powerful than themselves.

All the people of the house were now most kind to Siu and his son, and
were most anxious to teach them all they could. They were taken on a war
expedition against the enemy, so that they might learn the science and
art of Dyak warfare. They were taught how to set traps to catch deer and
wild pig. They were shown the different methods of catching fish, and
learnt to make the different kinds of fish-trap used by the Dyaks of the
present day. They remained in Singalang Burong’s house that whole year so
that they might have a complete and practical knowledge of the different
stages of paddy-growing.

When the year was ended, Seragunting’s mother took him and Siu to see her
father, Singalang Burong, so that they might receive from him his advice,
as well as such charms as he might wish to give them before they left to
return to the lower world of mortals.

Singalang Burong was sitting in his chair of state, and received them
most kindly. He bade them be seated on the mat at his feet, as he had
many things to say to them. Then he explained to Siu and his son who
he was, and the worship due to him, and they learnt also about the
observance of omens, both good and bad.

“I am the Ruler of the Spirit-World,” said Singalang Burong, “and have
the power to make men successful in all they undertake. At all times if
you wish for my help, you must call upon me and make offerings to me.
Especially must this be done before you go to fight against the enemy,
for I am the God of War, and help those who pay me due respect.

“You have learnt here how to plant paddy. I will give you some paddy
to take away with you, and when you get back to your own country, you
can teach men how to cultivate it. You will find rice a much more
strengthening article of food than the yams and potatoes you used to live
upon, and you will become a strong and hardy race.

“And to help you in your daily work, my sons-in-law will always tell
you whether that you do is right or wrong. In every work that you
undertake you must pay heed to the voices of the sacred birds—_Katupong_,
_Beragai_, _Bejampong_, _Papau_, _Nendak_, _Kutok_, and _Embuas_. These
birds, named after my sons-in-law, represent them, and are the means by
which I make known my wishes to mankind. When you hear them, remember
it is myself speaking through my sons-in-law for encouragement or for
warning. Whatever work you may be engaged in,—farm-work, house-building,
fishing, or hunting—wherever you may be you must always do as these birds
direct. Whenever you have a feast, you must make an offering to me, and
you must call upon my sons-in-law to come and partake of the feast. If
you do not do these things, some evil is sure to happen to you. I am
willing to help you and to give you prosperity, but I expect due respect
to be paid to me, and will not allow my commands to be disobeyed.”

Then Singalang Burong presented them with many charms to take away with
them. They were of various kinds. Some had the power to make the owner
brave and fortunate in war. Others were to preserve him in good health,
or to make him successful in his paddy-planting, and cause him to have
good harvests.

Siu and Seragunting then bade their friends farewell and started to
return. As soon as they had descended the ladder of the house of
Singalang Burong, they were swiftly transported through the air by
some mysterious power, and in a moment they found themselves at the
bathing-place of their own house.

Their friends crowded round them, glad to see them back safe and well.
They were taken with much rejoicing to the house. Friends and neighbours
were told of their return, and a great meeting was held that evening.
All gathered round the two adventurers, who told them of their strange
experiences in the far country of the Spirit Birds. The charms received
from Singalang Burong were handed round for general admiration. The new
seed, paddy, was produced, and the good qualities of rice as an article
of food explained. The people congregated there had never seen paddy
before, but all determined to be guided by Siu and Seragunting, and to
plant it in future. The different names of the sacred birds were told to
the assembled people, and all were warned to pay due respect to their

And so, according to the ancient legend, ended the old primitive life of
the Dyak, when he lived upon such poor food as the fruits of the jungle,
and any yams and potatoes he happened to plant near his house; the old
blind existence, in which there was nothing to guide him; and then began
his new life, in which he advanced forward a step, and learnt to have
regularly, year by year, his seed-time and harvest, and to know that
there were unseen powers ruling the universe, whose will might be learnt
by mankind, and obedience to whom would bring success and happiness.


Long, long ago, though the Dyaks knew of paddy, and planted it every
year, yet they had very poor crops, because they did not know what god
owned the land, and as they did not offer him sacrifices he did nothing
to help them. In those days there lived together seven brothers and
their only sister. The brothers’ names were Bui-Nasi, Belang-Pinggang,
Bejit-Manai, Bunga-Jawa, Litan-Dai, Kenyawang, and Pulang-Gana, and the
sister’s Puchong-Kempat. They lived on a hill by the side of a broad
river. On all sides were wide plains, and beyond them high hills rose in
the distance. Most of these plains were covered with thick jungle, and
only a few clearings where paddy had been planted could be seen.

Not far from the house the brothers had a garden in which they planted
potatoes, yams, sugar-cane, and tapioca; but a porcupine would often
come at night and do much damage to the garden. They bade their youngest
brother, Pulang-Gana, keep watch, directing him to drive away the
animal or kill it if he could. But all his efforts were vain. When he
was awake the animal did not come, but as soon as he fell asleep the
porcupine would creep in quietly and eat up the potatoes and yams. The
elder brothers were not kind to Pulang-Gana. They would not keep watch
themselves, but whenever they saw fresh damage done they not only scolded
their younger brother, but beat him with sticks.

“He is only lazy,” they said, “and deserves a thrashing. He does nothing
but sleep, and is too lazy to wake up at night and drive the porcupine

Poor Pulang-Gana! His was a hard lot indeed!

He determined to keep careful watch one night, and, whatever it cost him,
to kill the porcupine, so that his brothers might have no more cause for
blaming him. That night he did not sleep at all. The porcupine came just
before dawn, when all was still. Pulang-Gana was awake, and went after
it, determined to kill it. The animal ran away, and Pulang-Gana followed.
The moon was shining brightly, and he had no difficulty in seeing in what
direction the animal went. Every now and then the porcupine stopped, but
as soon as Pulang-Gana came up it started off again, and he was not able
to kill it; so the animal went on, and Pulang-Gana followed, determined
not to give up the chase until he had effected his purpose.

The sun was beginning to rise in the east, and still Pulang-Gana pursued
the porcupine.

“Sooner or later,” he said to himself, “I must catch it up. The animal is
already tired. I will not return home till I have killed it.”

The porcupine now came to the foot of a rocky mountain. Pulang-Gana,
thinking the chase would soon be over, hurried on, but before he could
reach the animal it had escaped through an opening in the solid rock. The
cave into which it had disappeared was large enough for a man to stand
upright in, and Pulang-Gana said to himself:—

“Now I have you. Wait till I have a light to show me where you are, and
then I will come in and kill you.”

He collected some dry branches, and tied them together for a torch. He
found a piece of dry soft wood, and also a short stick of some hard wood,
the point of which he sharpened. With the palms of his hands he worked
the small stick and drilled a hole in the soft wood. Soon it began to
smoke, and with the aid of some dry twigs he blew the fire into a blaze;
then he lighted his torch, and hurried into the cave after the porcupine.

He saw the animal a little distance ahead of him, and followed it
leisurely. There was no need for haste, as he would be able to kill it
easily enough when he drove it to the end of the cave, and it had no
means of escape. The cave seemed to extend a great way into the mountain.
After a few hours’ walking Pulang-Gana was surprised to come to an
opening in the rock, through which the porcupine had evidently escaped.
Outside the sun was shining brightly. Pulang-Gana went through this
opening, but, though he looked in all directions, he could see no signs
of the porcupine.

He was uncertain what he ought to do next. The porcupine had escaped,
and there was no chance of his being able to kill it. He did not feel
inclined to return to his brothers, because they were all unkind to him.
On the other hand, he did not know if this new country in which he found
himself was inhabited; and, if inhabited, whether the people would treat
him kindly. Looking around, he saw smoke arising some distance off, and
guessed that it was a Dyak house. As he was hungry, he decided to make
for it, hoping the inmates would be kind to him and give him food.

As Pulang-Gana came nearer, he saw the house was a very long one,
inhabited by about one hundred families. He stopped at the bottom of the
ladder leading up to the house, and, following the Dyak custom, asked in
a loud voice if he might walk up.

“Yes; come up, Pulang-Gana,” said a voice in reply. “We have been
expecting you for some time, and will be glad to see you.”

He was surprised that his name should be known in this strange country in
which he had never been before. He walked up, and in the long open hall
stretching the whole length of the house he saw an old man and a young
and beautiful girl.

“Spread out a mat, my daughter,” the old man said, “that Pulang-Gana may
sit and rest after his long journey, and you can prepare some food for
him. No doubt he is hungry as well as tired.”

She spread out a mat for Pulang-Gana, and then went into the room to get
ready a meal for their visitor. Soon after she opened the door of the
room and asked him to come in and eat.

The old man, who seemed kind and hospitable, said to him:—

“Go in and have some food. You must be hungry after your long journey.
When you have eaten and rested we can have a talk together. I have long
wished to meet you and to ask you about yourself and your brothers, and
how affairs are in your country.”

Pulang-Gana went into the room, and found a nice meal awaiting him. Being
very hungry, he did full justice to it.

That evening, as they sat by the fire, the old man asked him about his
people, and if they had good crops of paddy in his country. Pulang-Gana
answered that, though his brothers possessed the largest paddy-fields in
the country, he never remembered their having a really good harvest. The
paddy they obtained was not sufficient to last them the whole year, and
they had to fall back on potatoes and sago for food. The old man seemed
interested in what his guest said of himself, so Pulang-Gana went on and
told him of all his circumstances,—how he lived with his six brothers
and only sister, and how unkind his brothers were to him. He also told
the old man about the porcupine which did such damage to their garden,
and how often he had been scolded and beaten by his brothers for not
being able to drive away or kill the animal. He gave an account of his
adventures that morning, and how, determined to kill the porcupine, he
had followed it through the underground passage under the mountain, and
had found himself in this strange country.

“I have heard your story,” said the old man, “and think you are much
to be pitied. Your brothers seem to have been very unkind and to have
treated you very badly. I would like you to stay with me here, and not
return to them. I have no son, and would like you to marry my daughter
and live with us. I am getting old, and am not so strong as I used to be,
and will be glad of your help.”

“I should like to stay with you very much, for you seem so kind, and are
so different to my brothers, and I should like to marry your daughter
and spend the rest of my life here. But there is no one to look after
our garden, and the porcupine will do much damage to it. My brothers are
sure to be angry with me for leaving them, and when they see their garden
destroyed through my neglect they are sure to hunt for me, and when they
find me they will probably kill me. No; much as I would like to stay, I
am afraid I cannot. I must start to return to-morrow. It would have been
different if I had succeeded in killing the porcupine; then it would not
matter so much if I stayed away some time.”

“You need not trouble yourself about the animal that attacks the
vegetables planted in your garden. I can prevent its coming again.
That porcupine is not really an animal. One of our slaves here, named
Indai-Antok-Genok, is commanded by me to transform herself into a
porcupine, and pay visits to that garden. I shall tell her to do so no
more, and your brothers’ garden will be safe enough without you to watch
it. You must remain here with us. There is nothing for you to fear.
If you do not return, your brothers will think that some accident has
happened to you, and that you are dead. As they are all so unkind to you,
you may be sure they will not trouble to look for you.”

“Well, if that be the case, I will gladly live with you. I was not happy
with my brothers, and I am sure I shall be happy here.”

So it was decided that Pulang-Gana should remain in the house of the
old man. Some months afterwards he married the daughter, and they lived
happily as husband and wife. His wife’s father and mother were kind to
him, and so were the other people in the house, and Pulang-Gana was very
glad he decided to cast in his lot with them.

Now, this old man who treated Pulang-Gana so kindly was no ordinary
mortal. His name was Rajah Shua, and he ruled the spirits who lived in
the underground caves of the earth. His wife was quite as powerful as
he. She was a goddess, and had power over the animals of the forest,
all of which obeyed her. She was known as Seregendah. The daughter that
married Pulang-Gana was called Trentom-Tanah-Tumboh, and sometimes

In process of time Pulang-Gana’s wife gave birth to a girl, who was very
much admired by all, and greatly loved by her parents.

When the child was a few years old, she came one day to her father and
mother and asked what property they intended to leave her. The mother
showed her the valuable jars and brassware that she possessed, all of
which were to belong to her child. Then the little girl asked her father
what he had to give her. Pulang-Gana had no property to leave to his
daughter. Years ago he had come by chance to this house of Rajah Shua,
bringing nothing with him, and unless his brothers gave him a share of
their father’s property, he would have nothing to leave his daughter. So
he told her to be content with what her mother gave her. She would be
very rich without anything from him. But she was not satisfied with this
reply, and cried because her father said he had nothing to give her.

When Pulang-Gana saw how sad his child was he said to his father-in-law
that he would like to pay a visit to his brothers, and ask them for his
share of the property, that he might have something to give his daughter.
Rajah Shua told him he might go to them, but warned him that probably he
would not have a kind reception, and advised him not to be away long, but
to return as soon as possible.

Pulang-Gana started on his journey to his old home, wondering how his
brothers would receive him after his long absence. He had no difficulty
in finding his way, as his father-in-law gave him very definite
instructions about his journey. He found that his brothers had built a
new house not far from the site of the old one in which he had lived
with them years ago. The house seemed very quiet, and he learnt that
nearly all the people were away on a _tuba_-fishing expedition. Only his
sister-in-law, the wife of his brother Belang-Pinggang, was at home.

She was very much surprised to see him, and said they had given him
up for dead long ago. She told him that the others were away fishing,
and that his brother Bui-Nasi, herself, and a little boy were the only
members of the family left at home. He would find his brother and the
little boy working at the forge making some implements for their work.

Pulang-Gana said he would go to his brother, and he left the house and
walked in the direction where he guessed the forge was from the sound of
hammering he heard.

“Oh! is that you, Pulang-Gana?” said Bui-Nasi, as soon as he saw him.
“Where have you been all these years? We thought that you had met with
some accident, and had died long ago.”

Pulang-Gana said little about himself to his brother. He told him how he
had lost his way in the jungle years ago, and when he arrived at last at
a house the people there persuaded him to stay with them, and he said
that he was now married and had a daughter.

“Have you come with your wife to stay with us?” asked Bui-Nasi.

“No,” was the answer; “I have only come on a short visit by myself to ask
for my share of the property left us by our father.”

“You have nothing whatever to expect. You left us years ago of your own
will, and have been away all this time, and now you have the impudence to
come and ask for your share of the property. I advise you to say nothing
of this to the others. They will be very vexed with you if you do.”

“I do not ask for much,” said Pulang-Gana. “I will be satisfied with
little. But my daughter asked me what I had to give her, so I came here
to beg for something, and I should be sorry to return empty-handed.”

“You shall not return empty-handed,” said Bui-Nasi in scorn. “Here is
something for you to take back with you. It is all that you will get from
us, I can tell you.” With these words he threw Pulang-Gana a clod of
earth which he saw lying near. “Now go away, and do not let us see your
face again.”

Pulang-Gana put the lump of earth in his bag, and with a heavy heart
started to return to his house. So this was the way his brothers treated
him! There was nothing to expect from them!

When he arrived at his house, all the family gathered round him. They had
heard that he had gone to ask his brothers for his share of the property,
and they were anxious to see what he brought back. His little daughter
rushed up eagerly to him and said:—

“Father, what have you brought back for me from my uncles? Let me see the
nice things they gave you.”

Then Pulang-Gana said sadly: “I received no share of the property from
your uncles. They would have nothing to do with me, and drove me away.”

“But did you get nothing at all from them?” asked his father-in-law.

“Yes,” said Pulang-Gana; “my brother Bui-Nasi did give me something, but
I am ashamed to tell you what it is. Here it is.” And he took out from
his bag the lump of earth his brother had given him, and handed it to his

When Rajah Shua saw what Pulang-Gana had received from his brothers, he
said joyfully:—

“They have given you the most valuable gift it is possible to imagine.
You are now a person of great importance. The earth is yours. Whoever
wishes to plant on it must first make offerings and sacrifices to you,
and pray to you to give him a good harvest. It is in your power to make
the earth fruitful or barren, and to give mankind a good or a bad harvest
as you will.”

A few months after, the brothers of Pulang-Gana, at the advice of
Bui-Nasi, decided on the site where they were to plant paddy that year.
It was a large forest some distance away from their house. First they cut
down the smaller trees, and then they felled the large trees, and when
all this work was done they rested for some weeks, waiting for the sun to
dry up the timber, so that it might be set on fire and the land be ready
for planting on.

One day Pulang-Gana’s father-in-law said to him: “I hear that your
brothers have been busy cutting down the trees where they intend to plant
paddy this year. As they gave you the earth some time ago to be your
share of the property, it is only right that they should ask leave from
you before planting on it. Since they have not done so, you must stop
them from planting paddy there.”

“How can I prevent them planting paddy where they like?” said
Pulang-Gana in dismay. “Is it likely that they will take any notice of
anything I say?”

“Yes,” said his father-in-law, Rajah Shua; “they will have to listen to
what you say, for I will be on your side, and will help you. I am the god
that rules the spirits that live in the underground caves of the earth,
and my wife Seregendah has power over the animals and the spirits which
inhabit the forests. As your brothers have treated you so unkindly, and
have given you no share of the property, and have simply given you a clod
of earth to take back with you, my wife and I will punish them and reward
you by giving you power over everything that grows on the earth. Before
the land is planted, offerings must be made to you, and invocations must
be sung to yourself, and myself, and my wife Seregendah. Unless these
things be done, the ground will not be fruitful.

“As your brothers have not done anything of the kind, you must teach them
a lesson, and prevent them from going on with their work. This evening at
dusk you must go to the newly cleared forest and cry aloud: ‘Come here,
all you who are the servants of Seregendah and Rajah Shua,’ and name all
the wild beasts of the forest. They will come to you in large numbers.
Then you must ask them, as well as the invisible spirits, who will be
present too, to help you to put up all the trees that have been cut down.”

Pulang-Gana did as his father-in-law advised him. He went at dusk to the
part of the jungle where his brothers had been cutting down the trees,
and called to the animals in the name of Rajah Shua and of Seregendah,
and they came in large numbers and helped him to put up all the trees
that had been felled, and the forest appeared just as it had been before
any of the trees had been cut down.

The next day Bui-Nasi went early in the morning to see if the fish-traps
he had set in the stream had caught any fish, and as he was near the
part of the forest where the trees had been cut down by his brothers and
himself not long before, he went on to see how things were getting on,
and if the felled jungle was dry enough to be burnt.

To his great surprise he found all the trees standing, and no signs of
the clearing that had been made. He hurried home and told his brothers
what he had seen, and they all returned, accompanied by their friends and
followers, and found that what Bui-Nasi had told them was perfectly true.
They were all very much surprised, as they had never known such a thing
happen before.

“I wonder if this is really the part of the forest which we cleared a few
weeks ago,” said one of the brothers. “Perhaps we have mistaken the spot.”

“No,” said Bui-Nasi in reply; “there is no mistake. Here are the
whetstones on which we sharpened our axes and hatchets; and here, too, is
where we did our cooking for our midday meal.”

They held a consultation as to what was to be done.

“This is very strange,” said Bui-Nasi. “Some enemy, who is helped by
powerful spirits, is determined not to let us plant paddy here. Let us
try and find out who has made the trees that we have cut down stand
upright as before. My advice is that we cut down the jungle anew, and
that some of us remain and keep watch here all night. Perhaps we may be
able to catch the culprit.”

So the brothers and all their friends and followers set to work, and
before the day was ended they had cleared afresh a large stretch of

Twelve men, with Bui-Nasi at their head, were set to watch, and the
others returned home, discussing among themselves what had taken place.

Those that were left by the clearing had not long to wait. Soon after
dusk they saw a man come, and, standing on the trunk of a large felled
tree, call aloud to the animals of the forest and the invisible spirits
around in the name of Rajah Shua and Seregendah to come to his help. The
twelve men crept up cautiously behind him and seized him.

“We have you now,” they said as they held him fast. “It is you who have
caused us all the trouble of having to cut down this jungle for the
second time. Now we intend to kill you, and you will not be able to play
your tricks on us any more.”

It was too dark to see who it was, and Bui-Nasi said: “Let us have a
light and see what he is like. I am sure he must be as ugly as he is

One of them fetched a light, and to their great surprise they saw their
prisoner was Pulang-Gana!

“So it is you, Pulang-Gana!” said his brother in anger. “You are up to
your old tricks again. You were too lazy to work before, and would not
keep watch over our garden, and you left us without telling us where you
were going. And now, after several years’ absence, you come back and
disturb us in our work, and by some means or other set up the trees we
have had the trouble of cutting down. Though I am your brother, I have
no pity for you. As long as you are alive you will give us trouble, so we
intend to kill you and be well rid of you.”

He expected Pulang-Gana to be afraid of him, and to plead for his life.
But things were very much changed from the old days, when Pulang-Gana was
the despised youngest brother, beaten and scolded by the others. Now he
was the son-in-law of the gods, and had Rajah Shua and Seregendah to help
him, and he was not at all afraid of his brothers, because he knew well
they could do him no harm.

He shook off those that held him, and told them to listen to what he had
to say. His manner and bearing were very different from that of one who
feared them. They stood around him in awe, for they instinctively felt
that Pulang-Gana was not to be trifled with, and from what had already
taken place they knew that he was aided by powerful spirits.

Then Pulang-Gana spoke:—

“I have good reason for doing what I did. You have no right to cut down
this jungle or to plant on this land. You have not asked my leave to
do so, and have not paid me the price of the land. Not long ago, you,
Bui-Nasi, gave me a clod of earth as my share of the property of our
father, and so I have now the right of preventing any from planting on
the earth. It is no use you attempting to kill me. Though you are many in
numbers, it is impossible for you to kill me, because I am now the god of
the earth, and am assisted by Rajah Shua and Seregendah, whose power you

There was silence for a short time, and then Bui-Nasi said:—

“No doubt what you say is true, for no one without supernatural aid
could have made the trees that were cut down stand upright and grow. What
do you wish us to do, and how are we to obtain your leave to plant on the

Pulang-Gana told them to gather all the people together the next day, and
he would tell them what they must do in order to insure their getting
good crops of paddy.

That same night messengers were sent in all directions to tell the people
in the neighbouring villages to come together the next day, in order that
they might learn from Pulang-Gana what they were to do before cutting
down the jungle and planting paddy.

The next morning a very large crowd gathered together, and Pulang-Gana
said to them:

“You must always remember that I am the god of the earth, and before
cutting down the jungle for planting you must make invocations to me, as
well as to Rajah Shua and Seregendah, and you must ask me for permission
to plant on the piece of land you have chosen. You must also kill some
animal—a pig or a fowl—and offer it as a sacrifice to me, and in addition
to this some offering of food—rice, or eggs, or potatoes, or fruit—must
be made. Then, lastly, you must remember to bury some small offering in
the ground. That is the rent you pay me for the use of the land, for all
the land belongs to me, and I expect rent to be paid by all who use it.

“And if anything goes wrong in your paddy-fields, and the crops are poor,
or, being good, are attacked by insects or wild animals, then you must
call upon Rajah Shua and Seregendah and myself to come to your aid, and
we will help you.”

Then for the first time did the new ceremonies come into force, and,
aided by the higher powers, men were able to obtain much better crops
than they had done before. And this is why no Dyak dares to plant paddy
without first burying some small gift in the earth, and also making
invocations and offerings to Pulang-Gana, Rajah Shua, and Seregendah.



    Trial by ordeal—Diving contests—A diving contest
    in Krian—A Dyak superstition—Names—Fruit found
    by the pathway—Circumcision—Fishing and hunting
    superstition—Madness—Leprosy—Time—Form of greeting.

The practice of referring disputed questions to supernatural decision
is not unknown to the Dyaks. They have the trial by ordeal, and believe
that the gods are sure to help the innocent and punish the guilty. I
have heard of several different methods, which are seldom resorted to
nowadays. The only ordeal that I have frequently seen among the Dyaks
is the Ordeal by Diving. When there is a dispute between two parties in
which it is impossible to get any reliable evidence, or where one of the
parties is not satisfied with the decision of the headman of the Dyak
house, the Diving Ordeal is often resorted to.

Several preliminary meetings are held by the representatives of both
parties to determine the time and place of the match. It is also decided
what property each party should stake. This has to be paid by the loser
to the victor. The various articles staked are brought out of the room,
and placed in the public hall of the house in which each litigant lives,
and there they are covered up and secured.

The Dyaks look upon a Diving Ordeal as a sacred rite, and for several
days and nights before the contest they gather their friends together,
and make offerings and sing incantations to the spirits, and beg of them
to vindicate the just and cause their representative to win. Each party
chooses a champion. There are many professional divers who for a trifling
sum are willing to undergo the painful contest.

On the evening of the day previous to that on which the diving match is
to take place each champion is fed with seven compressed balls of cooked
rice. Then each is made to lie down on a fine mat, and is covered with
the best Dyak woven sheet they have; an incantation is made over him, and
the spirit inhabitants of the waters are invoked to come to the aid of
the man whose cause is just.

Early the next morning the champions are roused from their sleep, and
dressed each in a fine new waist-cloth. The articles staked are brought
down from the houses and placed upon the bank. A large crowd of men,
women, and children join the procession of the two champions and their
friends and supporters to the scene of the contest at the riverside. As
soon as the place is reached, fires are lit and mats are spread for the
divers to sit on and warm themselves. While they sit by their respective
fires, the necessary arrangements are made.

Each party provides a roughly-constructed wooden grating to be placed in
the bed of the river for his champion to stand on in the water. These are
placed within a few yards of each other, where the water is deep enough
to reach the waist, and near each a pole is thrust firmly in the mud for
the man to hold on to when he is diving.

The two men are led out into the river, and each stands on his own
grating grasping his pole. At a given signal they plunge their heads
simultaneously into the water. Immediately the spectators shout aloud
at the top of their voices, over and over again, “_Lobon—lobon_,” and
continue doing so during the whole contest. What these mysterious words
mean, I have never been able to discover. When at length one of the
champions shows signs of yielding, by his movements in the water and the
shaking of the pole he is holding to, the excitement becomes very great.
“_Lobon—lobon_,” is shouted louder and more rapidly than before. The
shouts become deafening. The struggles of the poor victim who is fast
becoming asphyxiated are painful to witness. The champions are generally
plucky, and seldom come out of the water of their own will. They stay
under water until the loser drops senseless, and is dragged ashore
apparently lifeless by his companions. The friends of his opponent,
raising a loud shout of triumph, hurry to the bank, and seize and carry
off the stakes. The vanquished one, quite unconscious, is carried by his
friends to the fire. In a few minutes he recovers, opens his eyes and
gazes wildly around, and in a short time is able to walk slowly home.
Next day he is probably in high fever from the effects of his dive. When
both champions succumb at the same time, the one who first regains his
senses is held to be the winner.

I have timed several diving contests, and where the divers are good they
keep under water between three and four minutes.

Among some tribes of Dyaks, the champion is paid his fee whether he wins
or loses. They say it is not the fault of the diver, but because his side
is in the wrong, that he is beaten. Among other tribes, however, no fee
is given to the losing champion, so he comes off very poorly indeed.

There are certain cases where diving seems to be the only means of a
satisfactory decision. Take the case of the ownership of a _durian_
tree. The tree probably does not bear fruit till fifteen years after it
has been planted. Up to that time no one pays any attention to it. When
the tree begins to bear fruit two or three lay claim to it. The man who
originally planted it is probably dead, and no one knows for certain whom
the tree belongs to. In a case like this, no amount of discussion can
lead to a satisfactory decision, whereas a diving contest settles the
matter to the satisfaction of all parties.

The Dyaks have great faith in the Diving Ordeal, and believe that the
gods will always maintain right by making the man who is in the wrong be
the loser. In fact, if a Dyak refuses the challenge of a Diving Ordeal,
it is equivalent to his admitting that he is in the wrong.

Among the Dyaks of the Batang Lupar diving contests are frequent.
Champions are poorly paid for diving, and the losing diver receives
nothing at all. Little or nothing is staked, and there is not much
attached to the winning or losing of a case except the property in
dispute. If the diving contest be about a fruit-tree, the winner becomes
the owner of the tree, and the loser is not allowed to make any further
claim. In the villages on the Krian River, however, the ordeal by diving
is rarely resorted to, and when a diving contest does take place, the
stakes are very high indeed.

A remarkable dispute was decided in Krian many years ago. I was told of
it by the son of the man who won the case. A girl put out in the sun a
petticoat she had woven. It was stolen. Some months after she saw a girl
wearing it, and recognized it as her petticoat. She accused the girl of
stealing it. The girl declared it was her own, and denied the theft. Both
girls belonged to good families. It was decided to resort to the ordeal
by diving. The stakes were very high. It was agreed that the losing party
should give to the other eight valuable jars.

Each party chose a good champion, and the fee paid him was very high. On
the day of the contest a very large crowd from far and near came together
to witness it.

The losing party paid to the victors the eight valuable jars as promised,
and were reduced to poverty by doing so.

The Dyaks have a curious superstition that if food is offered to a man,
and he refuses it, and goes away without at least touching it, some
misfortune is sure to befall him. It is said that he is sure to be either
attacked by a crocodile, or bitten by a snake, or suffer from the attack
of some animal.

When Dyaks have been asked to stay and have a meal, if they do not feel
inclined to do so, I have often noticed them touch the food before going
away. They say it would be _puni_ not to do so. I have never been able to
discover the reason for this curious superstition, but innumerable tales
are told of those who have disregarded it, and have paid the penalty by
being attacked by some animal.

A curious custom prevails among the Dyaks with regard to names. Parents
are no longer known by their names, but as the father or mother of
So-and-so. For instance, if the child is born, and named Janting, the
father would no longer be known by his own name, but would be called
_Apai Janting_ (the father of Janting) and the mother _Indai Janting_
(the mother of Janting).

The names of children are often changed because the Dyaks have a great
dislike of mentioning the name of anyone who is dead. So when a man dies,
it is usual for his namesakes in his village to have new names given them.

It is considered a terrible crime to mention the name of the
father-in-law or mother-in-law. Though a Dyak does not speak of his
father and mother by name, still if he were asked their names, he would
give them. But if a man were asked the name of his father-in-law or
mother-in-law, he would not tell it, but ask some other person present to
do so.

The Dyaks will eat fruit that has fallen from any tree, but if they find
fruit by the path, they will never touch it. The reason for this is given
in the Dyak legend, “Danjai and the Were-Tiger’s Sister” (p. 265).

I remember once walking with some Dyaks, and a man carrying a load of
fruit passed us. Farther on we saw some fruit which had evidently dropped
from his load, but none of the Dyaks would eat it.

Circumcision is practised among certain Dyak tribes. It is not a
religious ceremony, and is not accompanied with the offering of
sacrifices or the singing of incantations. All I have been able to learn
from such tribes as practise it, is that it has been the custom from
ancient days, and so they do it. The cutting of the foreskin is not done
with a knife, but with a piece of sharpened bamboo. The custom is by no
means universal among the Sea Dyaks.

When going out fishing or hunting it is considered most unfortunate to
mention the name of any fish or bird, or to talk of any animal which it
is hoped to secure. One evening I was out shooting wild pig, and was
sitting in a dug-out, which was paddled up a stream by three Dyaks. I
said in fun: “There will be plenty of room to put a pig here behind me
if we manage to shoot one.” The Dyaks all looked horrified, and I was
told that saying such a thing as that meant with them the certainty of
failure. As it happened, we succeeded in killing a wild pig, and brought
it back that evening in the boat. There was much discussion among the
people in the Dyak house, and they were surprised at our success after
what I had said.

Madness is looked upon by the Dyaks as possession by some evil spirit.
All they can do for it is to call the witch-doctors in to sing their
incantations, and exorcise the evil spirit. If no good result follows,
and the man is still a violent lunatic, a large wooden cage (_bubong_)
is made, and the man is kept in it. This is only done in the case of
dangerous and violent madmen. Harmless lunatics and idiots are allowed
their freedom.

Leprosy is not unknown among the Dyaks, and occasionally cases of it
are met with. There used to be a village in the Krian where there were
several suffering from leprosy. When the disease is so far advanced as
to make it unsafe to let them live with others in the long Dyak house, a
separate little hut is put up for them at some distance away. I remember
seeing a poor woman who lived by herself in this way. The people from
the house would often go and see her, and take her food and water, but
sometimes she would be left for days. She told me that once her fire went
out, and as no one came to see her for two days, she was unable to cook
any food, and had to live as best she could during that time. It must
have been a lonely, unhappy life she led, and one can imagine such an one
longing for death to end her troubles.

The Dyaks mark the time by the position of the sun. A man will tell you
at what hour you may expect him by saying something of this kind, “I
shall come to-morrow when the sun is there,” pointing to the part of the
sky where the sun will be.

The usual form of greeting when Dyaks meet is, “_Kini ka nuan?_” (“Where
are you going?”), or, “_Ari ni nuan?_” (“Where have you come from?”).



    The Sea Dyak—Work—Bad times—Cheerfulness—The view
    from within—The Sea Dyak’s future—Mission work among
    them—Government—Development in the immediate future.

There are occasions when one who has lived among a people like the Dyaks,
and has learnt to know and to love them, looks forward into the coming
years and tries to picture what is in store for them. Those who have
read the preceding pages will be able to form some idea of the Dyaks
as they are, and know their manner of life, and to a certain extent, I
hope, their modes of thought. In this chapter I shall say something of
the probable future of the Sea Dyak in Sarawak. Let me first recall some
features of the home life of the average Dyak at the present day.

He marries at an early age, and lives in a long Dyak village house with
his wife and children. His wife since her marriage has grown into a
tired-looking, untidy woman, very different from the bright merry girl
of ten years ago. How can she help it? She has four children to look
after, and the youngest is still an infant, who needs a great deal of her
attention. She has to fetch the water required, and do the cooking for
the family. She has to attend to the drying and pounding of the paddy,
and convert it into the rice for their daily food. In addition to all
this, there is the worry and commotion connected with having to move the
household for some months each year to the little hut put up in their
paddy-farm some little distance away.

The Sea Dyak has year after year to grow as much paddy as possible. He
rises on work-days early in the morning, partakes of his frugal meal of
rice and salt, or rice and salt fish, varied, if he be very lucky, by a
piece of wild pig’s flesh or venison, which he has received as a gift or
bought from some hunting friend. His wife bundles up for him his midday
meal in the spathe of the Penang palm, and he goes off to his work,
returning home late in the evening.

There are days when he does not go to work on his paddy-farm, but spends
his time in getting firewood or mending things in his room, or in sitting
about in the common veranda chatting with his friends.

When the paddy has grown a little, and the time for weeding draws near,
the family remove to the little hut put up in the paddy-field. In the
weeding the Sea Dyak is helped by his wife, the younger children being
left in charge of the elder for the greater part of the day, while their
parents are at work. When the weeding has been done, the family return to
the long Dyak house for a month or so; then they go back to their hut to
watch the ripening paddy and guard it against attacks of birds and beasts.

Paddy-planting is the chief occupation of every Sea Dyak, but he has
plenty of time for other things, and his life is not quite so monotonous
as may be supposed. The actual work of paddy-planting, and things
connected with it, such as the building of farm-huts and the getting
ready of farming implements, takes up seven or perhaps eight months of
the year. The Sea Dyak has, therefore, a certain amount of time during
which he can visit his friends, make boats, or hunt for jungle produce.

On certain occasions the Sea Dyaks muster in great force. At a feast a
large number of them appear dressed in such finery as they possess, and
they eat more than is good for them, and drink enough bad Dyak _tuak_
(spirit) to make them very sick and to give them a bad headache for the
next few days. At a large _tuba_-fishing crowds of them congregate with
their hand-nets and fish-spears, and a pleasant sort of picnic is spent,
attended, if they are fortunate, with the procuring of much fish.

The Sea Dyak has his bad times. When he has had a bad crop, he has to
think of some means of raising money—not for luxuries in dress and food,
but for the plain necessaries of rice and salt upon which many Dyaks have
to live for several months in the year. On these occasions he will work
for some Chinaman at the nearest bazaar for a low wage, or sell firewood
to them for whatever they will give. If he possess such things, he sells
some old brass gun or gong to buy food for his family. If he be reduced
to borrowing paddy from his neighbours, he will have to pay back the
following year double the amount he has received.


He has a fringed headkerchief, in which are fixed feathers of the
rhinoceros hornbill, and other birds. His ears are decorated with lead
pendants. Round his neck are necklaces of beads, and brass or silver
buttons. He has shell bracelets and brass and cane rings on his arms,
and a large number of palm fibre rings on his wrists. Round his waist
is a belt of silver coins, and his sword is fastened to his side. He is
wearing the Dyak waistcloth and has a _sarong_ on his right shoulder.
This is the usual dress worn by a Dyak at a feast.]

Below the class of industrious workers whom I have tried to depict, there
is a lower stratum consisting of the failures. These are the lazy Dyaks,
the poor workers, who have never by any possible chance enough paddy at
the harvest to last them through the year; who live perpetually in an
atmosphere of debt; who eke out their livelihood by selling wild-ferns
and bamboo-shoots for the trifling payment in paddy that people will
give for such things; who live a hugger-mugger life, depending a good
deal on the charity of their neighbours. Of this class I say nothing.
It is not numerous, and does not come within the scope of this chapter.
Another class which I pass over consists of the few rich men, whose
wealth is continually increasing, who sell paddy year after year, and,
when there is more work than they can conveniently do, can always afford
to get extra labour by paying for it. The class I am dealing with is
neither rich nor poor, and is to be met with in large numbers in any Dyak

The Dyak is cheerful and contented with his life. If his lot is a hard
and uneventful one, he is ignorant of any other, and is quite satisfied
with it. He knows little of the outside world. He reads no books or
newspapers. The scope of his conversation is limited to matters of
farming or of boat-building, varied perhaps by some local Dyak scandal,
or some experience he may have gone through when, in his younger days,
before he settled down as a sober married man, he went out gutta-hunting
in distant lands. He has no wish to improve himself. His father and
grandfather lived in long Dyak houses, and what was good enough for them
is good enough for him. Why should he worry himself about building better
houses, or farming in some new and improved way? He will not meddle with
matters that are too high for him; and yet, notwithstanding this calm and
even existence that he leads from childhood to the grave, those who are
most interested in the Sea Dyak must feel that his life is not what it
ought to be, that it shows few signs of progress, and is too stagnant to
be healthy.

They do not suppose him to be a “fortuitous aggregation of atoms that
will shortly be dispersed throughout space.” They believe that there is
something Divine in him holding those fleeting atoms together, and making
them one, and that he is journeying through a world of tragic meaning to
the significance of which he seems to be for ever blind. They long to see
him brought under the elevating and purifying influence of Christianity.

It may be asked: What are the Missions, Church of England and Roman
Catholic, doing to elevate the Sea Dyak? I believe they are doing the
best they can, but there are many things to contend against. First, there
is the natural inability of the Dyak to keep his attention fixed upon
one subject for any length of time, and so it is difficult to prevent
the conversation from drifting into some commonplace topic when one is
talking about serious matters. Then, again, when are they to be taught?
They usually come home from their work late in the evening, and then
they are tired, and take no interest in anything, being greatly in need
of rest. It is at all times difficult to have a quiet conversation in a
Dyak house. The common veranda is suitable for many things, but it is far
too noisy to be convenient for teaching. They are often away from their
homes for months, and the Missionary, who generally has a large field to
cover, finds he cannot visit many villages in his parish more than once
in three months. How much of such teaching is likely to be remembered? Of
course, things are better where the Church and Mission House are. There
regular services are held, and these the Sea Dyak has the opportunity of
attending. He can also come up to the Mission House and talk over matters
with the Missionary in charge, or the Schoolmaster, or the Catechist. But
the number of Mission Houses with resident Missionaries among the large
and scattered population of Sea Dyaks in Sarawak is but small.

The up-country Mission Schools, which the Government liberally support,
admit boys at an early age, when they are most susceptible to the
reception of new ideas. Here they are away from Dyak surroundings, and
live with the Missionary and Schoolmaster. One naturally hopes that
each of these boys returning to his family will be an example to them,
leading them into the right way, and no doubt the old schoolboys have an
influence for good, in more ways than one, on the homes to which they
return. There are, indeed, among the Christian Sea Dyaks of Sarawak
some striking examples of an intelligent reception of the truth, and
of a faith which is a living personal force governing their lives.
But, unhappily, these cases are few as compared with the bulk of the
population, and the people live such an unsettled life that missionary
effort, as it exists in Sarawak at the present time, can but touch a
small proportion of them, and, unless greatly reinforced, cannot affect,
to any very considerable extent, the future of the Sea Dyak.

The Government, by maintaining discipline in the different districts,
by punishing crime and regulating trade, is no doubt instilling into
the mind of the people important principles of law and order, and it
has suppressed the atrocious crimes of piracy and head-hunting. The
importation of Hakka Chinese to show the Dyaks how paddy ought to be
planted is an important move in the right direction, and will conduce to
their prosperity if only they can be persuaded to submit to instruction.
But the future of the Sea Dyak even as regards material well-being is
somewhat doubtful. There are those who say that he is slowly, but none
the less surely, improving, and that he will at no very distant time
reach the stage of progress to which most of the Malays in the country
have attained; that his means of earning a livelihood then will not be
confined to paddy-planting and occasionally working jungle produce, but
that he will work sago, and also engage in fishing and boat-building on
a large scale. Others, however, mutter dark things concerning the Sea
Dyak’s primitive methods of farming and his unwillingness to give them
up, and they paint a dismal picture of villages crowded in the distant
future by half-starved men and women, living on worn-out land which will
not bear abundant crops, as in the old days, a weakly and sickly race,
debilitated by insufficiency of food.

Whatever may be the ultimate fate of the Sea Dyak, that events will move
on certain lines in the immediate future seems to be fairly probable. The
Sea Dyak will go on living in the same kind of house as his ancestors
had—much the same kind of life year after year. He will go on farming in
his present primitive way till the soil around is worn out; then he will
ask leave of the Government, as has been done in many cases lately, to
remove to some new and uncultivated country, and to be allowed to cut
down the jungle on the hills there. Enormous tracts of lowland jungle
exist in the lower reaches of the rivers on whose banks the Sea Dyaks
live; but though they are industrious enough to plant their paddy on
swampy soil which was cleared of jungle generations ago, they do not seem
to care to cut down lowland jungle and prepare such land for planting.
No doubt the reason is that it is harder work, and that after the trees
are felled, it is six or seven years before the roots have rotted, and
the soil has settled, and the land is fit for planting paddy on. What
the Sea Dyaks like is to be allowed to remove to some country with plenty
of wooded hills. They prefer planting paddy on the hills to clearing the
lowland jungle, and waiting till the swampy land is fit for planting. The
old sequence of events will repeat itself. The new land, rich virgin soil
at first, will, under his devastating hand, soon become exhausted and
worn out. It does not take long to impoverish land if no attempt is made
to enrich it.

That these melancholy forebodings may never be fulfilled must be the
earnest wish of all who have in some way or other come into contact with
the Sea Dyak—a warm-hearted, hospitable, cheery figure, satisfied with
little, living in the present, with no thought of the future, quite
content if he have food to eat and tobacco to smoke, and yet, for this
very reason, because he is so satisfied with his lot, most unwilling to
admit new ideas, seemingly for ever unconscious of the significance of
his life, and ignorant of the infinite possibilities for good or evil
which exist in him.


[1] “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground” (Gen. ii. 7).
In this respect Dyak tradition corresponds with the Biblical account.

[2] Rice in the husk.

[3] _Pinang_, betel-nut.

[4] _Sireh_, a kind of pepper-leaf which the Dyaks are fond of eating
with betel-nut.

[5] The Dyaks are fond of rhyming names, which often have no special




=Achar=, a spoon-bait.

=Akal plandok=, the cunning of the _plandok_ or mouse-deer.

=Anggat=, a term of endearment used in addressing a boy.

=Antu=, a spirit; the dead.

=Ari ni nuan?= “From whence are you (come)?” A form of greeting.

=Attap=, a leaf roof made from the leaves of the _nipa_ palm.


=Baiya=, goods put aside upon the owner’s death and placed upon or within
his grave.

=Banghong=, a Dyak boat.

=Baru=, a tree with fibrous bark.

=Batu=, a stone.

=Batu bintang=, “star stone.”

=Batu ilau=, “stone of light.”

=Batu krang jiranau=, the petrified section of _jiranau_ (Zingeberad?).

=Batu krat ikan sembilan=, the petrified section of the _sembilan_ fish.

=Batu kudi=, “stones of wrath.”

=Batu lintar=, thunderbolt.

=Batu nitar=, thunderbolt.

=Bebaju besi=, “wearing an iron coat.” Name of a _manang_ ceremony.

=Bebandong api=, “displaying fire.” Name of a _manang_ ceremony.

=Bebayak=, making a _bayak_ or iguana. Name of a _manang_ ceremony.

=Beburong raia=, “making or acting the adjutant bird.” Name of a _manang_

=Begiling lantai=, “rolled up in the flooring.” Name of a _manang_

=Bekliti=, opening. One of the ceremonies of initiation of a _manang_, or

=Belelang=, to wander about; to visit a far country.

=Benih=, seed.

=Bepancha=, “making a _pancha_, or swing.” Name of a _manang_ ceremony.

=Beremaung=, “acting the tiger.” Name of a _manang_ ceremony.

=Berencha=, “making an assault.” Name of a _manang_ ceremony.

=Berua=, “swinging.” Name of a _manang_ ceremony.

=Besi=, iron.

=Besudi=, “feeling or touching.” One of the ceremonies of initiation of
_manang_, or witch-doctor.

=Betanam pentik=, “planting a _pentik_, or wooden representation of a
man.” Name of a _manang_ ceremony.

=Betepas=, “sweeping.” Name of a _manang_ ceremony.

=Betiang garong=, “making a post for souls.” Name of a _manang_ ceremony.

=Betiti tendai=, “walking on the _tendai_, or bar on which cotton is
placed in weaving.” Name of a _manang_ ceremony.

=Betukup rarong=, “to split open the coffin.” Name of a _manang_ ceremony.

=Bilian=, iron-wood; the only wood which the white ants do not attack.

=Bilik=, a room.

=Bliong=, a Dyak tool, which can be used both as an adze and an axe.

=Bubong=, a cage.


=Chanang=, a brass gong, smaller than the _tawak_.


=Dandong=, a shawl; a _sarong_, or long skirt.

=Duku=, a chopper; a sword.

=Durian=, a fruit very much liked by the Dyaks.


=Embuas=, name of an omen bird.

=Endun=, a term of endearment applied to girls.

=Engkratong=, a musical instrument resembling a guitar.

=Engkrumong=, a set of eight small brass gongs, each sounding a different
note, arranged in a frame.

=Engkrurai=, a musical instrument made of bamboo tubes fixed in a gourd.

=Ensera=, a fairy tale.

=Ensuling=, a flageolet.


=Galanggang=, a game, not unlike prisoner’s base, played by the Dyaks.

=Gawai Antu=, the “Spirit Feast”; feast in honour of the dead.

=Gawai Batu=, the “Stone Feast,” held before farming operations begin.

=Gawai Benih=, the “Seed Feast,” held just before sowing the seed.

=Gawai Burong=, the “Bird Feast,” held in honour of human heads taken in

=Gawai Gajah=, the “Elephant Feast”; the greatest of all feasts connected
with head-hunting.

=Gawai Ijok=, the “_Ijok_ Feast.” The _ijok_ is the gamuti palm from
which a native drink (_tuak_) is obtained. This feast is connected with

=Gawai Mandi Rumah=, a feast given when a new house is built; the

=Gawai Nyimpan Padi=, the “Feast of Storing the Paddy,” held after the
reaping and winnowing are over, when the paddy is ready to be stored.

=Gawai Pala=, “the Head Feast.” Another name for _Gawai Burong_.

=Gawai Tenyalang=, “the Horn-bill Feast.” Another name for _Gawai Burong_.

=Ginselan=, a sacrifice in which some animal is slain and the blood used.

=Gusi=, the name of an old jar of great value, and looked upon as sacred.


=Igat=, a term of endearment applied to boys.

=Ilang=, a curiously carved sword.

=Ipoh=, a tree (_Antiaris toxicaria_) the sap of which is poisonous, and
used to poison the darts of the blow-pipe.


=Jadi rumah?= “Is the house free from taboo?”—_i.e._, May we walk up into
the house? The usual question asked before entering a Dyak house.

=Jala=, a casting-net.


=Kabayah=, a long jacket worn by Malay women.

=Kadjang=, a covering made of the young leaves of the _nipa_ palm, etc.,
sewn together with split cane. This is used as awnings for boats, or for
the roof of temporary huts.

=Kain=, a woman’s petticoat.

=Kana=, a fairy tale set to verse and sung.

=Kapu=, lime.

=Kasih ka imbok enda kasih ka manok=, “To show kindness to the wild
pigeon, but not to the domestic fowl” (Dyak proverb).

=Kati=, 1¼ pounds.

=Katupong=, an omen bird.

=Kini ka nuan?= “Where are you going?” A form of greeting.

=Klambi=, a sleeveless jacket; a coat.

=Kutok=, an omen bird.


=Labong=, a headkerchief.

=Langan=, waves in tidal rivers which are caused at flood-tide by the
strong current rushing over the shallows.

=Lantai=, bamboo, or palms, etc., split into laths, and tied together for
the flooring of a house, or to sit upon in boats.

=Lari ka ribut nemu ujan, lari ka sungkup nemu pendam=, “Running from the
hurricane, he encounters the rain; running from a tombstone, he finds
himself in a graveyard” (Dyak proverb).

=Lesong=, a wooden mortar used for pounding rice, etc.

=Limban=, the Dyak Styx; the river in Hades.

=Lobon-lobon=, the words shouted by those watching a diving ordeal. The
meaning is uncertain.

=Lumpang=, a piece of bamboo in which rice has been cooked; used at the
feast for the dead as a boat to fetch the spirits from Hades.

=Lunas=, the keel of a boat.

=Lupong=, a Dyak medicine-chest.


=Maias=, the orang-utan (_Simia satyrus_).

=Makai di ruai=, literally “eating in the public hall of a Dyak house.”
Name of a social feast.

=Makai rami=, literally “eating joyfully in large numbers.” Name of a
social feast.

=Mali=, forbidden; tabooed.

=Manang=, a witch-doctor.

=Manang bali=, a witch-doctor who has changed his sex and become a woman.

=Manang bangun=, a witch-doctor who has been “waved upon”—_i.e._, who has
been through the “waving upon” ceremony.

=Manang enjun=, a witch-doctor who has been “trodden upon”—_i.e._, who
has been through the “trodden upon” ceremony.

=Manang mansau=, literally “a ripe _manang_”—_i.e._, one who is a fully
qualified _manang_.

=Manang matak=, literally “an unripe _manang_”—_i.e._, one who has not
been fully initiated into the mysteries of the _manang’s_ profession.

=Manjong=, to shout all together.

=Mencha=, the Sword Dance.

=Mlah pinang=, literally “to split the betel-nut.” To perform the
marriage ceremony by splitting the betel-nut.


=Naga=, a dragon. A valuable old jar with the figure of a dragon on it.

=Nampok=, to spend the night at a solitary place in order to obtain some
charms from the spirits.

=Nemuai ka Sabayan=, “making a journey to Hades.” Name of a _manang_

=Nendak=, an omen bird.

=Ngelembayan=, “taking a long sight.” Name of a _manang_ ceremony.

=Nibong=, a thorny palm (_Oncosperma tigillaria_).

=Nipa=, a palm which grows by the sea and at the mouths of rivers (_Nipa


=Orang-utan=, the _maias_ (_Simia satyrus_).


=Padi=, rice in the husk.

=Pagar api=, literally “a fence of fire.” A spear fixed blade upwards,
with leaves tied to it, round which the _manangs_ walk when taking part
in their ceremonies.

=Pana=, an offering of food given to the dead by the friends of those who
are in mourning.

=Pandong=, a kind of altar erected in different parts of the veranda of
the Dyak house during the Bird Feast.

=Papau=, an omen bird.

=Para piring=, the altar of sacrifice.

=Pelampong=, a wooden float, generally cut in the form of a duck, to
which baited hooks are fastened.

=Pelandai=, a love-song.

=Pelian=, a _manang_ ceremony to restore the health of a sick person.

=Pendam=, a burial-ground.

=Pendok=, a tree with fibrous bark.

=Pengap=, an incantation.

=Pengaroh=, a charm.

=Petara=, gods.

=Peti=, a spring trap set to kill wild pig.

=Pinang=, the betel-nut; the areca-nut.

=Piring=, an offering of food.

=Plandok=, the mouse-deer.

=Puni=, a peculiar Dyak superstition that, if food is offered to a man
and he goes away without at least touching it, some misfortune is sure to
befall him. It is said that he is sure to be attacked by a crocodile, or
bitten by a snake, or suffer from the attack of some other animal.


=Rawai=, a Dyak woman’s corset, made of tiny brass rings strung close
together on hoops of cane.

=Rarong=, a coffin.

=Remaung di rumah rawong di tanah=, “A tiger in the house, but a frog in
the field” (Dyak proverb).

=Rotan=, cane; rattan.

=Ruai=, the public veranda of a Dyak house.

=Rusa=, a deer. A valuable old jar with the figure of a deer on it.


=Sabayan=, Hades.

=Sadau=, the loft of a Dyak house.

=Sakit Rajah=, “the disease caused by the King (of evil

=Sarong=, a long petticoat worn by Malay men and women.

=Saut=, the name of a _manang_ ceremony.

=Serumai=, a one-stringed fiddle.

=Sirat=, a waist-cloth; the usual male attire of the Dyak.

=Sireh=, a vine of the pepper tribe; its leaves are chewed with lime,
gambier, and betel-nut.

=Sumping=, a Dyak observance held after the death of relatives.

=Sumpit=, a blow-pipe.


=Tabak=, a brass dish.

=Tajau=, a valuable jar.

=Tanju=, the uncovered veranda of a Dyak house, where paddy and other
things are put out to dry in the sun.

=Tawak=, a large brass gong.

=Tendai=, the bar on which cotton is placed in weaving.

=Tenyalang=, the rhinoceros hornbill (_Buceros rhinoceros_).

=Tikai buret=, a seat-mat.

=Timang=, to sing to in a monotonous manner.

=Tuai rumah=, the headman or chief of a Dyak house.

=Tuak=, native spirit.

=Tuan=, gentleman; master; sir. The term of respect usually applied to

=Tuba=, the name applied to a poison from the root of a shrub (_Derris
alleptica_), or of a creeper. The poisonous bark of a tree. There are
several kinds of _tuba_ used for _tuba_-fishing.

=Tugong bula=, “the liar’s mound.” A pile of branches and twigs heaped up
in memory of a man who has told a great lie.


=Ulit=, mourning.



    Abroad, the Dyak, 333

    _Achar_, 54

    Adultery, 69, 132

    Affection, domestic, 70

    Ah Choy, 241, 248

    Ah Fook Cheyne, 249

    _Ajat_, 222

    Amusements, sports and, 220

    _Apai Saloi_, 254

    Armadillo, 153

    Articles buried with the dead, 138

    _Attap_, 42, 150

    Augury, 161

    Axe, Dyak, 50, 51


    Bad times, 326

    Bailey, D. J. S., 184

    _Baiya_, 138

    Basket-making, 53

    Bat, 153

    _Batu bintang_, 188
      _ilau_, 165, 166, 190
      _krang jiranau_, 189
      _krat ikan sembilan_, 188
      _kudi_, 205
      _lintar_, 189
      _nitar_, 189

    Beards, 39

    _Bebaju besi_, 171

    _Bebandong api_, 171

    _Bebayak_, 170

    _Beburong raia_, 171

    _Bedungai_, 225

    _Begiling lantai_, 171

    _Bejampong_, 153

    _Bejit-Manai_, 300

    _Bekliti_, 178

    _Belang-Pinggang_, 300

    _Bepancha_, 170

    _Bepantap Buyu_, 172

    _Beragai_, 152

    _Beremaung_, 171

    _Berenchah_, 169

    _Bermong_, 226

    _Besudi_, 178

    _Betanam pentik_, 169

    Betel-nut, 151

    _Betepas_, 169

    _Betiang garong_, 170

    _Betiti tendai_, 171

    _Bilian_ trees, 151, 211

    _Blikan_, 231

    _Bliong_, 50, 51

    Blood, a drop of, 159

    Blood-letting, 183

    Blow-pipe, 34, 78, 279

    Boat-building, 49

    Boat songs, 225
      swamped, 247
      travelling, 145
      war, 79

    Bore, tidal, 146

    Bornean jungles, 21

    Boys, Dyak, 103, 105, 107

    Brooke, Sir James, 21, 24
      Rajah, 26

    Brooke, Sir Charles, 29
      Rajah, 29

    _Bui Nasi_, 300

    _Bukitans_, 34

    _Bunga Jawa_, 300

    _Bunsu Burong_, 286
      _Katupong_, 286

    Burial-ground, 136

    Burial rites, 133

    _Buyu_, 172


    Camphor-tree, 151, 238

    Camphor-working, 238

    Cane ladders, 237

    Captain Keppel, 27

    Captives, 94

    Caves, edible birds’-nest, 236

    Ceremonies, 243
      _manang_, 166, 169

    Chambers, Bishop, 116, 118

    _Chanang_, 230

    Change of name, 103

    Character, the Dyak, 61, 327

    Childbirth and children, 96

    Child-naming, 102

    Children, kindness to, 62

    Christian Dyak chiefs, 84
      Mission, introduction of, 28

    Circumcision, 322

    Cock-fighting, 210, 223

    Cocoanut palm, 151

    Coffin, 136

    Collecting edible birds’-nests, 236

    Contents of a Dyak medicine-chest, 184

    Cooking, 87, 241

    Courtship, 120

    Couvade, 96

    Crocodile, 149
      — catching, 56

    Customs, some curious, 316


    Dance, sword, 221, 229
      war, 222, 229

    Dancing women, 84

    _Danjai_ and the Were-Tiger’s sister, 265

    Darts, poisoned, 79

    _Dasu_, Dr., 185

    Debt, slaves for, 95

    Debts, 95

    Decapitation, 83

    Deer, 153

    Depilation, 39

    “Dictionary of the Sea Dyak Language,” 184

    _Dido_, H.M.S., 27

    Dispute in Krian, 319

    Diving ordeal, 316

    Divorce, 69

    Domestic affection, 70

    Dreams, 161
      omens and, 152

    Dress, men’s, 36, 78
      war, 78
      women’s, 37

    Drinking, 212

    Drums, 229

    _Durian_, 151, 319

    “Dyak,” the word, 33
      charms and native remedies, 182
      chiefs, Christian, 84
        marriage of, 73
      feasts, 209
      folklore, 252
      headman or chief, rule of, 88
      medicine-chest, contents of, 184
      religion, 194
      trial, 89
      village house, 42, 184
      wealth, 90

    Dyaks, the, 33


    Ebony-tree, 151

    Education, 105

    _Embuas_, 153

    _Emplawa Jawa_, 293

    _Engkratong_, 231

    _Engkrumong_, 230

    _Engkrurai_, 230

    _Ensera_, 252

    _Ensuling_, 231

    Expedition, head-hunting, 75

    Experiences, some personal, 240


    Fables, 252

    Failures, 326

    Families, smallness of, 104

    Farming, rice, 325

    Father-in-law, 125

    Feast, the bird, 210
      in honour of the dead, 142, 216

    Feasts connected with farming, 215
        head-taking, 210
      Dyak, 209
      social, 219

    Feeding the dead, 135

    Fines, 89

    Fireplace, 44

    Fishing, 54
      _tuba_, 55

    Fish-traps, 297

    Folklore, Dyak, 252

    Food, 87

    Football, 221

    Forests, tropical, 21

    Form of greeting, 323

    Frugality, 63

    Fruit-trees, 94

    Future existence, belief in, 133, 143,
      of the Sea Dyak in Sarawak, the, 324


    _Galanggang_, 224

    Games, 220

    _Gawai Antu_, 142
      _Batu_, 215
      _Benih_, 215
      _Gajah_, 215
      _Ijok_, 214
      _Mandi Rumah_, 219
      _Nyimpan Padi_, 216
      _Pala_, 210
      _Tenyalang_, 210

    _Ginselan_, 203

    _Girgasi_, 199

    Girls, Dyak, 103

    God of the earth: _Pulang Gana_, and how he came to be worshipped as
      the, 300

    Gods, 195

    Gomes, B.D., the Rev. W. H., 29

    Gongs, 229

    Grades of _manangs_, 178

    Graves, 136, 138

    Greeting, form of, 323

    _Gusi_, 91

    Gutta-trees, 151

    Gutta-working, 235


    Habitations of spirits, 210

    Head-hunting, 23, 72
      expedition, 75
      legend of, 73

    Head-taking, feasts connected with, 210

    Headman, 265
      power of, 90
      rule of, 88

    Heroes, mythical, 253

    Honesty, 63

    Honey-bear, 149

    Hornbill, 211

    Hose, D.D., Bishop, 98

    Hospitality, 67

    House-building, 47

    House, Dyak village, 42

    Howell, Rev. W., 184

    Human heads, 213
      necessary for wedding feast, 266

    Hunting, 53, 296


    Incantations, 195, 213, 226, 229

    Infanticide, 100

    Initiation of _manangs_, 178

    Introduction of Christian missions, 28

    Invisible spirits, 227

    Invocations, 195, 213, 226, 228


    _Jala_, 54

    Jars, old, 45, 90

    Jumping, 224

    Jungle, Bornean, 149
      lost in the, 249

    Jungle-path, 148


    _Kabayah_, 35

    Kabong, 249

    _Kadjangs_, 50, 146, 148, 150

    _Kana_, 226, 252, 253

    _Katupong_, 152

    _Kayans_, 34

    Keppel, Captain, afterwards Admiral, 27

    _Kinyehs_, 34

    _Klieng_, 253

    Krian, dispute in, 319
      Mission, 119

    _Kumang_, 253

    _Kunsil Negri_, 30

    _Kutok_, 153


    _Langan_, 146

    Legend of head-hunting, 73

    Legends, 252
      three Dyak, 264

    Leprosy, 322

    Life beyond the grave, 133, 143
      of the Dyak, 324

    _Limban_, 229

    Lizard, 153

    _Lobon-lobon_, 318

    Love-song, 225

    _Lumpang_, 216

    _Lupong_, 165, 187


    Madness, 322

    _Maias_, 74, 149

    _Mali_, 197

    _Manang_, or witch-doctor, the, 163
      ceremonies, 166, 169

    _Manangs_, 99, 182, 227
      not buried, 143

    Marriage, 120
      Dyak view of, 128

    Mat-making, 52

    Meals, Dyak, 87

    Medicine-chest, Dyak, 165
      the contents of a Dyak, 184

    _Mencha_, 221

    Mesney, the Rev. W. R., 116

    Metamorphosis, 287

    _Milanaus_, 33

    Missionary, the itinerant, 240

    Missions among the Dyaks, 328
      introduction of Christian, 28

    Mission schools, 329

    _Mlah pinang_, 124

    Morals, Dyak, 68, 121

    Mother-in-law, 125, 131

    Mouse-deer and other animals who went out fishing, the story of
      the, 255

    Mouse-deer, the deer, and the pig, the story of the, 259

    Mourning, 139, 285
      putting off, 217
      song of, 228

    _Muruts_, 34

    Music, song and, 225

    Musical instruments, 222, 229

    Mythical heroes, 253

    Mythology, Dyak, 264


    _Naga_, 91

    Name, change of, 103

    Naming the child, 102

    Native remedies and Dyak charms, 182

    _Nemuai Ka Sabayan_, 170

    _Nendak_, 153

    Nets, 54

    _Ngelai_, 253

    _Ngelembayan_, 170

    _Nibong_ palm, 150

    _Nipa_ palm, 150

    North-east monsoon, 247


    Oars, 145

    Offertory, 245

    Omen birds, 47, 152, 234, 238, 298
      animals, 153

    Omens and dreams, 152
      of birds, the story of Siu, who first taught the Dyaks to plant
        paddy and to observe the, 278

    _Orang-Utan_, 74, 149

    Ordeal, diving, 316
      trial by, 316


    Paddles, 50, 79, 145

    Paddy, 278
      planting, 297, 325

    _Pagar Api_, 166, 168, 174

    Palms, 150

    _Pana_, 139, 141

    _Pandong_, 213

    _Papau_, 153

    Past, a picture from the, 22

    _Pelandai_, 225

    _Pelian_, 164, 168, 169

    _Pendam_, 136

    _Pengap_, 195, 213, 228, 326

    Perham, the Rev. J., 119

    Personal experiences, some, 240

    _Petara_, 194, 197

    _Pinang_, 282
      _Mlah_, 124

    Pirates, 23

    _Piring_, 202

    Planting paddy, 297, 325

    Prayer-houses, 244

    Preparations for diving ordeals, 317
      for feasts, 210

    Proverbs, Dyak, 261

    _Pulang Gana_, 137
      how he came to be worshipped as the god of the earth, 300

    _Punans_, 34

    _Puni_, 320

    Python, 149, 153


    Questions, 243


    Rajah Brooke, 26, 29
      _Muda Hassim_, 25
      _Shua_, 305

    Rapids, 147

    Rat, 153

    Religion, Dyak, 194

    _Rotan_, 151, 235

    _Royalist_, the yacht, 25

    Rule of the Dyak headman or chief, 88

    _Rusa_, 91


    _Sabak_, 142

    _Sabayan_, 228

    Sacrifices, 202

    Sago palm, 151

    _Salampandai_, 174, 197, 228

    Sampun, 247

    Sand-banks, 146

    Saribas Mission, 119

    _Sarong_, 35

    _Saut_, 173

    Schoolboy reminiscences, 119, 175, 249

    School in the jungle, my, 105
      programme, 108

    Sea Dyak in Sarawak, the future of the, 324

    _Seragunting_, 278, 290

    _Seregendah_, 306

    _Seru_, 34

    _Serunai_, 231

    Services, 244, 245

    _Shua_, Rajah, 305

    _Singalang Burong_, 160, 196, 227, 284

    Singapore, 233

    Singing, 225

    _Sireh_, 282

    _Siu_, the story of, 278

    Slavery, 94

    Slaves, adoption of, 95
      for debt, 95

    Smallness of families, 104

    Smallpox, 191

    Social life, 86
      position of the women, 86

    Some curious customs, 316
      personal experiences, 240

    Song and music, 225
      of mourning, 140, 228
      of the head feast, 213
      the wailers’, 140, 228

    Songs, 229

    Soul, the, 177

    Spears, fishing, 55

    Spinning-tops, 223

    Spirit of the Winds, 228

    Spirits, 183, 189, 227, 242

    Sports and amusements, 220

    Stones of wrath, 205

    Stories, Sea Dyak, 252

    Story of _Buda_, 114

    Story of the mouse-deer and other animals who went out fishing,
      the, 255

    Story of the mouse-deer, the deer, and the pig, the, 259

    Story of _Siu_, who first taught the Dyaks to plant paddy and to
      observe the omens of birds, the, 278

    _Sumping_, 141

    _Sumpit_, or blow-pipe, 34, 78, 279

    Superstitions of the Dyaks, 242

    Swallows, 236

    Swimming, 223


    _Tajau_, 91

    Tattooing, 37

    _Tawak_, 229

    Teaching the Dyaks, 242

    Teeth, 38

    Temudok, 247

    _Tenyalang_, 211

    Tidal bore, 146

    Time, 322

    Tops, spinning, 103, 295

    Toys, 103

    Traps, 53

    Travel, love of, 233

    Travelling, 145, 247
      in Sarawak, 145

    Trial, a Dyak, 89
      by ordeal, 316

    Tropical forests, 21

    Truthfulness, 66

    _Tuba_, 56
      fishing, 56, 210

    _Tugong bula_, 67

    _Tujoh_, catechist, 113


    _Ukits_, 34

    _Ulit_, 139

    Unselfishness, 70


    Village house, Dyak, 42

    Visit to a Dyak house, 240, 246


    Wailers, professional, 140, 218, 228

    Wailers’ song, 140

    War boat, 79, 266

    War costume, 78
      council, 76, 81
      songs, 225
      spear, 76

    Warfare, Dyak, 72, 297

    Wealth, Dyak, 90

    Weaving, 52

    Wedding, Dyak, 122

    Were-Tiger, 267

    Were-Tiger’s sister, Danjai and the, 265

    Winds, Spirit of the, 228, 229

    Women, social position of, 86

    Women’s work, 46, 51, 62

    Work, men’s, 46, 325
      women’s, 46, 62, 324

    Wrestling, 224, 295



A Catalogue of Books for Young People, Published by Seeley & Co. Ltd., 38
Great Russell St., London

_Some of the Contents_

    The Library of Romance               13
    The Library of Adventure             13
    The Heroes of the World Library       8
    The Olive Library                    10
    The Pink Library                     11
    The Prince’s Library                 12
    The Scarlet Library                  14
    The Wonder Library                   16
    Sunday Echoes                         2
    Stories by Professor Church           3
    Stories by Mrs. Marshall              9
    Stories by Miss Beatrice Marshall     9
    Books by Miss Giberne                 7

_The Publishers will be pleased to send post free their complete
Catalogue or their Illustrated Miniature Catalogue on receipt of a


_Arranged alphabetically under the names of Authors and Series_


The Days of Bruce. With Illustrations. Extra crown 8vo, 2s. (SCARLET


Fairy Tales. With Illustrations. 2s. and 3s. 6d. (SCARLET AND PRINCE’S


Little Women and Good Wives. With Illustrations. 2s. (SCARLET LIBRARY.)
Also Little Women, Extra crown 8vo, 1s. 6d.; and Good Wives, Extra Crown,
1s. 6d.

Amadis of Gaul. _See_ KNIGHT-ERRANT.

Arabian Nights’ Entertainments. With Illustrations. 2s. (SCARLET LIBRARY.)


The Dog Crusoe and His Master. With Illustrations by H. M. BROCK, R.I.
Extra crown 8vo, 2s.


The Wild Man of the Woods. With Illustrations. 1s. 6d.


The Siege of Norwich Castle. With Illustrations, 5s.


The Wild Lass of Estmere, and other Stories. Cr. 8vo, 3s. 6d.


The Bird’s Nest, and other Songs for Children, 1s.

Dame Wynton’s Home. A Story Illustrative of the Lord’s Prayer. With Eight
Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 1s. 6d.

Home Memories. Crown 8vo, 5s.

My Father’s Hand, and other Stories. Crown 8vo, 2s.

Sunday Echoes in Weekday Hours. A Series of Illustrative Tales, Seven
Vols. Crown 8vo, 3s. 6d. each.

      I. The Collects.
     II. The Church Catechism.
    III. Journeyings of the Israelites.
     IV. Scripture Characters.
      V. The Epistles and Gospels.
     VI. The Parables.
    VII. The Miracles.

Working and Waiting. Crown 8vo, 5s.


The Kidnapping of Ettie, and other Tales. With Sixteen Illustrations.
Crown 8vo, 5s.


The Pilgrim’s Progress. With Illustrations. Extra crown 8vo, 2s. (SCARLET

CARTER, Miss J. R. M.

Diana Polwarth, Royalist. A Story of the Life of a Girl in Commonwealth
Days. With Eight Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 3s. 6d.


England’s Yeomen. Crown 8vo, 2s. 6d.

Oliver of the Mill. With Eight Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 2s. 6d.

Ministering Children.

  1. With Sixteen Illustrations. Crown 8vo, cloth gilt, gilt edges, 3s. 6d.
  2. Olive Library. Cloth gilt, 2s. 6d.
  3. Scarlet Library. Cloth, 2s.
  4. With Four Illustrations. Cloth, 1s. 6d.

Ministering Children: A Sequel. With Illustrations. Cloth, 1s. 6d. Also
with Eight Illustrations. Cloth 2s. and 2s. 6d.

The Old Looking-Glass. Crown 8vo, 1s.

The Broken Looking-Glass. Crown 8vo, 1s.

The Old Looking-Glass and the Broken Looking-Glass; or, Mrs. Dorothy
Cope’s Recollections of Service. In one volume. With Eight Illustrations.
Crown 8vo, 1s. 6d.

Sunday Afternoons in the Nursery. With Illustrations. 2s. 6d.


The Romance of the Ship. With Thirty-three Illustrations. Extra crown
8vo, 5s.

CHURCH, Rev. ALFRED J., formerly Professor of Latin in University
College, London.

“Professor Church’s skill, his overflowing knowledge, and above all, that
cultured simplicity of style, in respect of which he has absolutely no
rival among contemporary writers for boys, enable him to overcome all

Extra crown 8vo, 5/-each.

    The Children’s Æneid. Told for Little Children. With Twelve
    Illustrations in Colour. Extra crown 8vo, 5s.

    The Children’s Iliad. Told for Little Children. With Twelve
    Illustrations in Colour. Extra crown 8vo, 5s.

    The Children’s Odyssey. Told for Little Children. With Twelve
    Illustrations in Colour. Extra crown 8vo, 5s.

    The Crown of Pine. A Story of Corinth and the Isthmian Games.
    With Illustration in Colour by GEORGE MORROW. Ex. cr. 8vo, 5s.

    The Count of the Saxon Shore. A Tale of the Departure of the
    Romans from Britain. With Sixteen Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 5s.

    The Faery Queen and her Knights. Stories from Spencer. With
    Eight Illustrations in Colour. Extra crown 8vo, 5s.

    Stories of Charlemagne and the Twelve Peers of France. With
    Eight Illustrations in Colour. Crown 8vo, 5s.

    The Crusaders. A Story of the War for the Holy Sepulchre. With
    Eight Illustrations in Colour. Extra crown 8vo, 5s.

    Stories from the Greek Tragedians. With Illustrations. Crown
    8vo, 5s.

    Greek Story. With Sixteen Illustrations in Colour. Crown 8vo,

    Stories from the Greek Comedians. With Illustrations. Crown
    8vo, 5s.

    The Hammer. A Story of Maccabean Times. With Illustrations.
    Crown 8vo, 5s.

    The Story of the Persian War, from Herodotus. With Coloured
    Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 5s.

    Heroes of Chivalry and Romance. With Illustrations. Crown 8vo,

    Stories of the East, from Herodotus. Coloured Illustrations.
    Crown 8vo, 5s.

    Helmet and Spear. Stories from the Wars of the Greeks and
    Romans. With Eight Illustrations by G. MORROW. Crown 8vo, 5s.

    The Story of the Iliad. With Coloured Illustrations. Crown 8vo,
    5s. Also Thin Paper Edition, cloth, 2s. nett; leather, 3s.
    nett. CHEAP EDITION, 6d. nett; also cloth, 1s.

    Roman Life in the Days of Cicero. With Illustrations. Crown
    8vo, 5s.

    Stories from Homer. With Coloured Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 5s.

    Stories from Livy. With Coloured Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 5s.

    Story of the Odyssey. With Coloured Illustrations. 5s. Also
    Thin Paper Edition, cloth, 2s. nett; leather, 3s. nett. Cheap
    Edition, 6d. nett. Also cloth, 1s.

    Stories from Virgil. With Coloured Illustrations. Crown 8vo,
    5s. Cheap edition, sewed, 6d. nett.

    With the King at Oxford. A Story of the Great Rebellion. With
    Coloured Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 5s.

Crown 8vo, 3/6 each.

    The Fall of Athens. With Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 3s. 6d.

    The Burning of Rome. A Story of Nero’s Days. With Sixteen
    Illustrations. Cheaper Edition. Crown 8vo, 3s. 6d.

    The Last Days of Jerusalem, from Josephus. Crown 8vo, 3s. 6d.
    Also a Cheap Edition, Sewed, 6d.

    Stories from English History. With many Illustrations. Cheaper
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Extra crown 8vo, 2/6 each.

    To the Lions. A Tale of the Early Christians. With Coloured
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    Heroes of Eastern Romance. With Coloured Frontispiece and Eight
    other Illustrations. Extra crown 8vo, 2s. 6d.

    A Young Macedonian in the Army of Alexander the Great. With
    Illustrations. Extra crown 8vo, 2s. 6d.

    The Chantry Priest. With Illustrations.

    Three Greek Children. Extra crown 8vo, 2s. 6d.

Crown 8vo, 1/6 each.

    A Greek Gulliver. Illustrated. Crown 8vo, 1s. 6d.

    Heroes and Kings. Stories from the Greek. Illustrated. Small
    4to, 1s. 6d.

    The Stories of the Iliad and the Æneid. With Illustrations.
    16mo, sewed, 1s.; cloth, 1s. 6d. Also without Illustrations,
    cloth, 1s.

    To the Lions. A Tale of the Early Christians. With
    Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 1s. 6d.

CODY, Rev. H. A.

On Trail and Rapid. By Dog-sled and Canoe. A Story of Bishop Bompas’s
Life among the Red Indians and Esquimo. Told for Boys and Girls. With
Twenty-six Illustrations. Extra crown 8vo, 2s. 6d.


What Katy did at Home and at School. With Four Illustrations in Colour by
H. M. BROCK, R.I. Crown 8vo, 2s.; also in leather, 3s. 6d. nett.

COUPIN, H., D.Sc., and J. LEA, M.A.

The Romance of Animal Arts and Crafts. With Twenty-five Illustrations.
Extra crown 8vo, 5s.


Caedwalla: or, The Saxons in the Isle of Wight. With Illustrations. Extra
crown 8vo, 3s. 6d. (PRINCE’S LIBRARY.)

The Island of the English. A Story of Napoleon’s Days. With Illustrations
by GEORGE MORROW. Crown 8vo, 2s. 6d.

The Captain of the Wight. With Illustrations. Extra crown 8vo, 3s. 6d.


John Halifax. Illustrated. Extra cr. 8vo, 2s. (SCARLET LIBY.)


A Knight-Errant and his Doughty Deeds. The Story of Amadis of Gaul. With
Eight Coloured Illustrations by H. M. BROCK, R.I. Square Extra Crown 8vo,

DAWSON, Rev. Canon E. C.

Heroines of Missionary Adventure. With Twenty-four Illustrations. Extra
crown 8vo, 5s.

Lion-Hearted. Bishop Hannington’s Life Retold for Boys and Girls.
Illustrated. Crown 8vo, 2s. 6d. (OLIVE LIBRARY), and 1s. 6d. (PINK

In the Days of the Dragons. Crown 8vo, 1s. 6d.


Robinson Crusoe. With Illustrations. Extra crown 8vo, 2s. and 3s. 6d.


Copsley Annals Preserved in Proverbs. With Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 3s.

Mrs. Blackett. Her Story. Fcap. 8vo, 1s.

ELLIOT, Prof. G. F. SCOTT, M.A., B.Sc., F.R.G.S., F.L.S.

The Romance of Plant Life. Describing the curious and interesting in the
Plant World. With 34 Illustrations. Ex. crown 8vo, 5s.

    “Popularly written by a man of great scientific
    accomplishments.”—THE OUTLOOK.

The Romance of Savage Life. With Forty-five Illustrations. Extra crown
8vo, 5s.

The Romance of Early British Life: From the Earliest Times to the Coming
of the Danes. With 30 Illustrations. Ex. crown 8vo, 5s.


A Pair of Originals. With Coloured Frontispiece and Eight other
Illustrations. Extra crown 8vo, 2s. 6d.


Heroes of Missionary Enterprise. With many Illustrations. Extra crown
8vo, 5s.


Sylvia in Flowerland. With 16 Illustrations Cr. 8vo, 3s. 6d.


Coming; or, The Golden Year. A Tale. Third Edition. With Eight
Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 5s.

The Great World’s Farm. Some Account of Nature’s Crops and How they are
Grown. With a Preface by Professor BOULGER, and Sixteen Illustrations.
Second Edition. Crown 8vo, 5s.


The Romance of the Mighty Deep. With Illustrations. 5s.

    “Most fascinating.”—DAILY NEWS.

Among the Stars; or, Wonderful Things in the Sky. With Coloured
Illustrations. Eighth Thousand. Crown 8vo, 5s.

Duties and Duties. Crown 8vo, 5s.

The Curate’s Home. Crown 8vo, 2s. 6d.

The Ocean of Air. Meteorology for Beginners. Illustrated. Crown 8vo, 5s.

The Starry Skies. First Lessons on Astronomy. With Illustrations. Crown
8vo, 1s. 6d.

Sun, Moon, and Stars. Astronomy for Beginners. With a Preface by
Professor PRITCHARD. With Coloured Illustrations. Twenty-sixth Thousand.
Revised and Enlarged. Crown 8vo, 5s.

The World’s Foundations. Geology for Beginners. With Illustrations. Crown
8vo, 5s.


The Romance of Modern Electricity. Describing in non-technical language
what is known about electricity and many of its interesting applications.
With Forty-one Illustrations. Ex. crown 8vo, 5s.

    “Admirable … clear, concise.”—THE GRAPHIC.

The Romance of Modern Photography. The Discovery and its Application.
With many Illustrations. Extra crown 8vo, 5s.

The Romance of Modern Manufacture. A Popular Account of the Marvels of
Machinery. With Twenty-four Illustrations and Sixteen Diagrams. Extra
crown 8vo, 5s.

How Telegraphs and Telephones Work. Explained in non-technical language.
With many Diagrams. Crown 8vo, 1s. 6d.

GILLIAT, EDWARD, M.A. Formerly Master at Harrow School.

Forest Outlaws. With Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 5s.

Heroes of Modern Crusades. With Twenty-four Illustrations. Extra crown
8vo, 5s.

In Lincoln Green. Illustrated. Crown 8vo, 5s.

The King’s Reeve. Illustrated by SYDNEY HALL. 3s. 6d.

Wolf’s Head. With Eight Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 3s. 6d.

The Romance of Modern Sieges. With Sixteen Illustrations. Extra crown
8vo, 3s.

Heroes of the Elizabethan Age. With Sixteen Full-page Illustrations.
Extra crown 8vo, 5s.


GREW, EDWIN S., M.A. (Oxon.).

The Romance of Modern Geology. A popular account in non-technical
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GRIMM’S FAIRY TALES. With Illustrations. Extra crown 8vo, 2s. and 3s. 6d.


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The Romance of Modern Invention. By A. WILLIAMS.

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The Romance of Modern Engineering. By A. WILLIAMS.

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The Romance of Modern Locomotion. By A. WILLIAMS.

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The Romance of the Mighty Deep. By AGNES GIBERNE.

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The Wide, Wide World. By SUSAN WARNER.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin. By H. BEECHER STOWE.

Ben Hur. By General LEW WALLACE.


John Halifax. By Mrs. CRAIK.

Robinson Crusoe. By DANIEL DEFOE.

Little Women and Good Wives. By L. M. ALCOTT.

The History of Henry Esmond. By W. M. THACKERAY.

The Swiss Family Robinson.

Grimm’s Fairy Tales. A New Translation.

Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination.

Don Quixote. By CERVANTES.

Gulliver’s Travels. By JONATHAN SWIFT.

The Days of Bruce. By GRACE AGUILAR.

Tom Brown’s Schooldays. By THOMAS HUGHES.

Tales from Shakespeare. By CHARLES LAMB.

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Ministering Children. By Miss CHARLESWORTH.

Ministering Children. A Sequel.

The Dog Crusoe. By R. M. BALLANTYNE.

Masterman Ready. By Captain MARRYAT.

What Katy did at Home and at School. By SUSAN COOLIDGE.


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Fresh from the Fens. With Illustrations. Cr. 8vo, 3s. 6d.


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City Violet. Crown 8vo, 5s.

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Under the Shield. Crown 8vo, 5s.

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The Romance of Modern Mining. With 24 Illustrations.

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The Last of the White Coats. A Story of Cavaliers and Roundheads.
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With Eight Illustrations. Extra crown 8vo. Price 2s.

The Wonders of Animal Ingenuity. By H. COUPIN, D.Sc., and JOHN LEA, M.A,
Author of “The Romance of Bird Life,” &c. &c.

The Wonders of Mechanical Ingenuity. By ARCHIBALD WILLIAMS, B.A.,
F.R.G.S., Author of “The Romance of Engineering.”

The Wonders of Asiatic Exploration. By ARCHIBALD WILLIAMS, B.A.,
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The Wonders of the Plant World. By G. F. SCOTT ELLIOT, M.A., B.Sc., &c.,
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The Wonders of Modern Railways. By ARCHIBALD WILLIAMS, B.A., F.R.G.S.,
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The Wonders of the Insect World. By E. SELOUS, Author of “The Romance of
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