Through Central Borneo:
Carl Lumholtz

Part 2 out of 8

Dayak from the South, who met us at the landing in an immaculate white
suit and new tan shoes. It was warmer here toward the end of March than at
Tandjong Selor, because there had not been much rain for a month. The soil
was therefore hard, and in the middle of the day so heated that after a
shower it remained as dry as before. A few Chinamen and Bugis who live
here advance rice and dried fish to the Malays to provision expeditions
into the utan which last two to three months, receiving in return rubber
and damar. The Malays come from lower down on the river, and a good many
of them leave their bones in the jungle, dying from beri-beri; others ill
with the same disease are barely able to return to Long Pangian, but in
three weeks those who do return usually recover sufficiently to walk about
again by adopting a diet of katsjang idju, the famous green peas of the
East Indies, which counteract the disease. The Malays mix native
vegetables with them and thus make a kind of stew.

The rice traded in Borneo is of the ordinary polished variety, almost
exclusively from Rangoon, and it is generally supposed that the polishing
of the rice is the cause of this illness. The Dutch army in the East seems
to have obtained good results by providing the so-called silver-fleeced
rice to the soldiers. However, I was told that, in some localities at
least, the order had to be rescinded, because the soldiers objected so
strongly to that kind of rice. Later, on this same river, I personally
experienced a swelling of the ankles, with an acceleration of the heart
action, which, on my return to Java, was pronounced by a medical authority
to be beri-beri. Without taking any medicine, but simply by the changed
habits of life, with a variety of good food, the symptoms soon

It is undoubtedly true that the use of polished rice is a cause of
beri-beri, because the Dayaks, with their primitive methods of husking,
never suffer from this disease, although rice is their staple food. Only on
occasions when members of these tribes take part in expeditions to New
Guinea, or are confined in prisons, and eat the rice offered of
civilization, are they afflicted with this malady. In my own case I am
inclined to think that my indisposition at the commencement of my travels
in Borneo was largely due to the use of oatmeal from which the husks had
been removed. Rolled oats is the proper food.

Modern research has established beyond doubt, that the outer layers of
grains contain mineral salts and vitamines that are indispensable to human
life. Facts prove that man, if confined to an exclusive diet of white
bread, ultimately dies from malnutrition. Cereals which have been
"refined" of their husks present a highly starchy food, and unless they
are properly balanced by base-forming substances, trouble is sure to
follow. Scurvy, beri-beri, and acidosis have been fatal to many
expeditions, though these diseases no doubt can be avoided by a judicious
selection of provisions that insure acid and base forming nutrition in the
right proportion. [*]

[Footnote *: For an illuminating example of poorly balanced food, see
_Physical Culture Magazine_, New York, for August, 1918, in which Mr.
Alfred W. McCann describes the disaster to the Madeira-Mamore Railway
Company in Brazil, when "four thousand men were literally starved to death
on a white bread diet." In the July number may be found the same food
expert's interesting manner of curing the crew of the German raider
_Kronprinz Wilhelm_, which in April, 1915, put in at Newport News, in
Virginia, with over a hundred men seriously stricken with acidosis. The
crew had enjoyed an abundance of food from the ships they had raided and
destroyed, but a mysterious disease, pronounced to be beri-beri, was
crippling the crew. As the patients failed to respond to the usual
treatment, the ship's chief surgeon consented to try the alkaline treatment
which Mr. McCann suggested to him. The patients rapidly recovered on a diet
consisting of fresh vegetable soup, potato-skin liquor, wheat bran,
whole-wheat bread, egg yolks, whole milk, orange juice, and apples. No
drugs were administered.

It may be added that Dr. Alfred Berg (in the same magazine, September,
1919) recounts the cure of an absolutely hopeless case of stomach trouble
by the vegetable juice prepared according to McCann's formula. He has
found the results gained by the use of this soup in diet "so remarkable as
to be almost unbelievable."

The formula in question, as taken from McCann's article, is: "Boil
cabbage, carrots, parsnips, spinich, onions, turnips together for two
hours. Drain off liquor. Discard residue. Feed liquor as soup in generous
quantities with unbuttered whole-wheat bread."]

As a precautionary measure during my further travels in Borneo I adopted
the green peas of the Orient in my daily diet, and when properly cooked
they suit my taste very well. Every day my native cook made a pot of
katjang idju, to which I added as a flavour Liebig's extract, and when
procurable different kinds of fresh vegetables such as the natives use.
Almost any kind of preserved vegetables or meat, especially sausages, is
compatible with this stew, which is capable of infinite variations. For a
year and a half I used it every day, usually twice a day, without becoming
tired of it, and this regimen undoubtedly was the reason why the symptoms
of acidosis never reappeared.

I may add that besides this dish my main food was milk and biscuits,
especially those made of whole wheat. In the tropics no milk will keep
beyond a certain time limit unless it is sweetened, which renders it less
wholesome. I found Nestle & Company's evaporated milk serviceable, but
their sterilised natural milk is really excellent, though it is expensive
on an expedition which at times has to depend on carriers, and in
mountainous regions like New Guinea it would be impracticable to carry it.
Under these conditions one is content to have the evaporated or the
sweetened brand. Sterilised milk, although perhaps a luxury, is a
permissible one when travelling by boat, but the fact that it remains
sound only a limited time should be borne in mind. However, it helped me
to resist the adverse conditions of travel in the equatorial regions, and
to return to civilisation in prime physical condition. When I had
opportunity I ate the rice of the Dayaks, which is not so well sifted of
its husks, and is by far more palatable than the ordinary polished rice. I
found the best biscuits to be Huntley and Palmer's College Brown,

As regards one's native companions, the Dayaks or Malays are quite
satisfied as long as they get their full rations of rice and dried fish.
This is the food they have always been accustomed to and their demands do
not go further, although cocoanut-oil for frying the fish adds to their
contentment. Katjang idju was usually given them if there was sugar enough
to serve with it; they do not care for it unsweetened. I have dwelt at
some length on the food question, because information on this subject may
prove useful in case others are tempted to undertake journeys of
exploration and research in the East Indies. To have the right kind of
provisions is as important in the equatorial regions as in the arctic, and
civilised humanity would be better off if there were a more general
recognition of the fact that suitable food is the best medicine.

Our Dayaks from Apo Kayan, who had proved very satisfactory, left us at
Long Pangian. They had to wait several days before their friends caught up
with them, so they could continue their long journey. This party of
Dayaks, after spending one month at home in gathering rubber, had
travelled in five prahus, covered some distance on land by walking over
the watershed, and then made five new prahus in which they had navigated
the long distance to Tandjong Selor. Ten men had been able to make one
prahu in four days, and these were solid good boats, not made of bark.
Already these people had been three months on the road, and from here to
their homes they estimated that at least one month would intervene,
probably more.

The rubber which they had brought was sold for f. 2,500 to Hong Seng. They
had also sold three rhinoceros horns, as well as stones from the
gall-bladder and intestines of monkeys and the big porcupine, all valuable
in the Chinese pharmacopoea. Each kilogram of rhino horn may fetch f. 140.
These articles are dispensed for medical effect by scraping off a little,
which is taken internally with water. On their return trip the Dayaks
bring salt from the government's monopoly, gaudy cloths for the women,
beads, ivory rings for bracelets and armlets, and also rice for the
journey. Should the supply of rice become exhausted they eat native herbs.

At Long Pangian we were able to develop plates effectively by hauling
clear and comparatively cool water from a spring fifteen or twenty minutes
away. By allowing six cans (five-gallon oil tins) of water to stand over
night, and developing from 4.30 next morning, we got very good results,
though the water would show nearly 76 F. My kinematograph was out of
order, and desiring to use it on my journey higher up the river, I decided
to go again to Tandjong Selor in an endeavour to have it repaired. The
delay was somewhat irritating, but as the trip down-stream consumed only
two days, I started off in a small, swift boat kindly loaned to me by the
posthouder. Fortunately Mr. J.A. Uljee, a Dutch engineer who was in town,
possessed considerable mechanical talent: in a few days he succeeded in
mending the apparatus temporarily.

As I was preparing to return, another party arrived from Apo Kayan. They
were all Kenyahs, Oma Bakkah, who came in seven prahus, and proved so
interesting that I postponed my journey one day. The government has put up
a kind of lodging-house for visiting Dayaks, and the many fine implements
and utensils which these men had brought with them made the interior look
like a museum. Their beautiful carrying-baskets and other articles were
standing in a continuous row around the walls. These Kenyahs did not seem
to have been here before and were agreeable people with whom to deal. I
have not, before nor since, seen such a tempting collection of the short
sword of the Dayak which has grown to be almost a part of himself. In the
northeast these famous swords are called mandau, but the designation
parang is more extensively used, and I shall employ that name. One
exceedingly fine one, belonging to the chief, I purchased for three sets
of ivory rings, each set at fifteen florins, and one sarong. In the
blacksmith's art the Dayaks have reached a higher level than the otherwise
more advanced Malays and Javanese. There were three women in the party.
One of the men was dressed as a woman and his hands were tatued. Though
his voice was quite manly, there was something feminine about him and in
appearance he was less robust than the others. According to my Chinese
interpreter, who has travelled much, there are many such men in Apo Kayan.

I stopped over night at one of the Bugis settlements which have large
pineapple plantations. Such delicious pineapples as those in northern
Borneo, with an unusual abundance of juice and very slightly acid, I had
never before tasted. A gigantic white rat, about the size of a rabbit,
which had been caught working havoc with the pineapples, was offered me
for sale alive. I afterward regretted that, owing to the great difficulty
of transportation, I declined, as no doubt it was a rare, if not a new,

In the evening, on my return to Long Pangian, I went to bed in the old
pasang-grahan which I occupied there. It consisted of a single large room
and had an air of security, so for once I omitted to tuck the mosquito-net
underneath me. But this was a mistake, for some animal bit me, and I was
awakened by an intense pain on the left side of my head which became
almost unbearable, then gradually subsided, and in two hours I slept
again. I applied nothing to the affected area because of the impossibility
of locating the bite. On the left side of my neck at the back soon
developed two balls of moderate size which had not quite disappeared four
years afterward. Next day I found a large dark-coloured spider which no
doubt was the culprit. When chased it made long high jumps on the floor,
but was finally captured. After that occurrence I paid strict attention to
the mosquito-net, and when properly settled in my bed for the night I felt
as safe against snakes or harmful smaller animals as if I were in a hotel
in Europe.



A report came to me that the people of kampong Long Isau (Long = sound;
Isau = a kind of fruit) were making preparations to catch fish by
poisoning the river, and that they were going immediately to build traps
in which the stupefied fish are caught. I decided to go at once, and a few
hours later we were on our way up the Isau River, a tributary to the
Kayan, at the junction with which lies Long Pangian. We made our camp just
opposite the kampong, which has a charming location along a quiet pool
formed by the river at this point. The natives here and on the Kayan river
above Long Pangian are Kenyahs. Our presence did not seem to disturb them
in the least, nor did the arrival of some Malays from Long Pangian, who
had closed their little shops in order to take part in the fishing.

The chief was a tall, fine-looking man, the personification of physical
strength combined with a dignified bearing. He readily granted permission
to photograph the women coming down to the river to fetch water. The
Kenyah women wear scantier attire than those of any other tribes of
Borneo--simply a diminutive piece of cloth. It was picturesque to see
these children of nature descend the steps of the rough ladder that leads
down to the river, gracefully carrying on their backs a load of five or
six bamboos, then wade into the calm water, where they bathed for a few
moments before filling their receptacles. The Kenyah drinks water by
taking it up in his hands while looking at it. In the house he drinks from
the bamboo utensils which are always conveniently placed. The Malay throws
water quickly into his mouth with his right hand.

There seemed to be an epidemic of cholerine among the children, three
having already died and one succumbed while we were at the kampong. The
sounding of a gong drew attention to this fact and people assembled at the
house of mourning where they wailed for an hour. The fishing was postponed
one day on account of the burial, and the work of making the coffin could
be heard over on our side of the river. During the night there was much

Next day at noon the funeral took place. First, with quick steps, came two
men and two women, parents of children who had died before, followed by
the father of the dead child and another man of the family who carried the
coffin. The procession embarked in three prahus. The relatives were all
attired in simple but becoming mourning garments, made from wood-fibre,
consisting of tunics, and wrappers around the loins, which as regards the
women covered practically the whole body, and on their heads they wore
pointed hats of the same material. In the first prahu the little coffin
was placed, and immediately behind it the mother lay with face down. Over
her breast was a broad band of fibre which passed around to the back where
it was tied in a large bow. The mourning garb worn in this and other Dayak
tribes by relatives of a deceased person is an attempt to elude the evil
spirit (antoh) who is regarded as the cause of death and whose wrath the
remaining relatives are anxious to evade by disguising themselves in this
way. The men poled fast, and ten minutes later the cortege ascended the
bank without following a path, and deposited the coffin in a small,
old-looking house. Once daily for three days food is deposited near a dead
child, while in the case of adults it is given for a long time.

The following day we all started up the river for the great catch. About
300 Dayaks had gathered, with 80 prahus. There were people from as far
east as Kaburau, but those of the kampongs west of Long Pangian did not
appear as expected. Some of the men carried spears specially devised for
fishing, and some had brought their shields. We passed seven traps, in
Kenyah called "bring," some in course of making, and others already
finished. These rapidly made structures were found at different points on
the river. Each consisted of a fence of slightly leaning poles, sometimes
fortified with mats, running across the river and interrupted in the
middle by a well-constructed trough, the bottom of which was made from
poles put closely together, which allowed the water to escape but left the
fish dry.

The poison which stupefies or even kills the fish, without making it unfit
for food, is secured from the root of a plant called tuba and described to
me as being a vine. The root, which is very long, had been cut up into
short pieces and made into about 1,800 small bundles, each kampong
contributing its share. The packages had been formed into a beautifully
arranged pile, in accordance with the artistic propensities of both Kenyah
and Kayan, whose wood-stacks inside the rooms are models of neatness. The
heap in this case was two and a half metres long and a metre high, a
surprisingly small amount for the poisoning of a whole river.

Before daylight they began to beat these light-brown tuba pieces until the
bark became detached. The bark is the only part used, and this was beaten
on two previously prepared blocks, each consisting of two logs lashed
together, with flattened upper sides. On either side of these crude tables
stood as many men as could find room, beating earnestly with sticks upon
the bark, singing head-hunting songs the while with much fervour.
Occasionally they interrupted the procedure to run about animatedly,
returning shortly to resume their labour.

Later an augury was to be taken, and all gathered closely on a wide pebbly
beach. First a long piece of root, which is called the "mother of tuba,"
was beaten vigorously by a number of men. Then one of the principal actors
stepped forward and began to make fire in the old-fashioned way, _i.e._,
by pulling with both hands a piece of rattan around a bamboo stick held to
the ground. According to several possibilities the divinations are
expounded: Should the rattan break before smoke ensues, the undertaking is
postponed for an hour or two; if the rattan breaks into two equal parts,
fish will not be caught; but if the right-hand piece is longer than the
left, all is well and much fish will be the result.

The assemblage was chewing betel, smoking tobacco, and with hopeful
patience anticipating a successful outcome, while one chief after another
vainly attempted the augury. Only men who have taken heads are permitted
to make divinations of fire at the tuba-fishing, and if all the elders
have tried and failed the fishing is delayed one day.

The same augury is used when dogs have run away. If the left-hand piece is
the longer, the dog is dead; if of the same size, the dog will be found at
a distant future time; but if the right is the longer, the animal will be
recovered very soon. The reading of pig's liver in regard to the present
or the future is used more by the Kayan than by the Kenyah.

It was after nine o'clock in the morning when success was attained, and
the fishers all suddenly dispersed. Some of them carried beaten bark into
four empty prahus, threw water over it with their hands, then beat it
again, until finally it was crushed to shreds. The prahus were then turned
over and the stuff emptied into the water, where it soon disappeared. The
bark on the blocks, which by this time had the appearance of a
reddish-brown fibre, was now thrown into the river with much shouting and
running about, whereupon the men ran out of sight, probably to take to
their prahus.

The majority of the stupefied fish are caught in the so-called "bring,"
the traps running across the river, but frantic endeavours were made by
those engaged in the sport to take the fish before the fences were
reached, and for this purpose hand nets or spears were used. This part of
the proceeding was most entertaining.

The fleet of prahus thoroughly searched the water, descending the river
slowly in seven hours. At a few places where the stream makes large pools
a few hundred metres long the boats loitered for a considerable time, as
the prey would not often rise to the surface. Now and then there was much
excitement over a fish that had risen and dived again, and the nearest
prahus would all try to get it. Soon a man would be seen to jump after it
with fixed spear, pass out of view, and after a while reappear on the
surface, invariably with a large fish on the spear point. It was a
magnificent exhibition of agility combined with skill.

The Malays also captured many victims with their casting-nets. It is
customary for each to consider as his personal property all the fish he
obtains. These gatherings afford much delight to the children, of whom a
great number accompanied their elders in the prahus. Women and children
were in holiday attire, and, in spite of the grotesque ornaments of big
rings in the split, distended ear-lobes, the latter were unusually
charming. They had bracelets of brass and silver around their wrists and
ankles; some of them wore necklaces of antique beads in dull colors,
yellow, dark brown, or deep blue. Such a necklace may cost over a thousand
florins. The spirit of the whole occasion was like that of a great picnic.

All was over at five o'clock in the afternoon, when the people dispersed
to their respective kampongs. At each of the seven "bring," each belonging
to one of the principal men, were caught from 100 to 200 fish, most of
them fairly large. I noted seven species. More than a thousand have been
caught, and for the next two nights and days the people were engaged in
opening and drying fish over fire and smoke. Thus preserved they are of a
dark-brown tint, very light in weight, and will keep for three months.
Before the dried product is eaten it is pounded, then boiled, and with
each mouthful a pinch of salt is taken.

During the night much fish was obtained even as far down the river as our
kampong, and many men searched for it here, using as lamps petroleum in
bamboo with a piece of cloth for a wick. Next day all the able-bodied
people left the kampong for a week's stay at the ladangs (fields), one
day's journey up the Kayan River, only the weak and old people remaining
behind. On this occasion I observed five or six individuals, men and
women, of a markedly light, yellowish colour. One woman's body was as
light as that of a white woman, but her face was of the usual colour,
perhaps somewhat lighter.



At Long Pangian several days were spent in vain efforts to secure men and
prahus to continue the journey up the Kayan River. The few Malays about,
as usual, did not believe in work, but the posthouder finally succeeded in
calling Kenyahs from the river above, and on the 1st of May we started
with five prahus and twenty-four men. It was quite refreshing to hear
again the joyous shouts of the paddlers, who worked eagerly and quickly
against the strong current. A little over an hour brought us to some
well-known rapids, or "kihams," as they usually are called in Borneo.
Formerly this Kiham Raja had a bad reputation, Dayaks being killed here
occasionally every year, but of late the government has blasted out rocks
and made it more passable. However, even now it is no trifle to negotiate
these rapids. Below them we halted and threw explosive Favier into the
water in the hope of getting fish, and as soon as the upheaval of the
water began the Kenyahs, as if by a given signal, hurried all the prahus
out to the scene. With other natives than Dayaks this would have given me
some anxiety, as the boats were heavily laden and contained valuable
cameras and instruments. We secured quite a number of fish and the Kenyahs
had a good time.

The traveller soon assumes a feeling of confidence in these experienced
men as, according to circumstances, they paddle, pole, or drag the prahu
by a long piece of rattan tied to the inside of the bow. In passing these
rapids most of them got out and dragged us by the rattan, but as the shore
consisted of big stones that sometimes were inaccessible, they would often
throw themselves with the rope into the foaming water and manage to get
foothold a little further up. Sometimes it looked as if they would not
succeed, the prahu receding precariously, but they were so quick in their
movements and the prahus followed each other so closely that it was
possible to give mutual help.

Amban Klesau, the only son of the chief of Long Mahan, directed my prahu.
He had taken part in an expedition to New Guinea and was an efficient and
pleasant man who had seen something of the world, but his attire was
fantastic, consisting of a long white nightshirt with a thin red girdle
around the waist, to which was attached his parang adorned with many
ornaments. He liked that shirt, for he did not take it off all day,
notwithstanding the extreme heat. The dry season had set in, and though in
our travels I took good care to place mats over the iron boxes in which
cameras and plates were kept, still they became warm. When I photographed,
perspiration fell like rain-drops. At Long Mahan (mahan = difficulties, or
time spent) we found the pasang-grahan occupied by travelling Malays, two
of whom were ill from a disease resembling cholera, so we moved on to a
ladang a little higher up, where we found a camping-site.

Next day we stopped to photograph a beautiful funeral house on the bank of
the river, in which rest the remains of a dead chief and his wife. This
operation finished, the Dayaks prepared their midday meal consisting of
rice alone, which they had brought in wicker bottles. A number of bamboo
sticks were procured, which were filled with rice and water and placed in
a row against a horizontal pole and a fire was kindled underneath. As soon
as this cooking was finished the bamboos were handed to the chief, Amban
Klesau, who in the usual way split one open with his parang to get at the
contents. Having eaten, he distributed the rest of the bamboos. I was
given one, and upon breaking it open a delicious smell met my olfactory
sense. The rice, having been cooked with little water, clung together in a
gelatinous mass which had a fine sweet taste, entirely lacking when cooked
in the white man's way.

During my travels in Borneo I often procured such rice from the Dayaks. It
is a very clean and convenient way of carrying one's lunch, inside of a
bamboo, the open end closed with a bunch of leaves. Fish and meat are
prepared in the same manner. With fish no water is used, nevertheless,
when cooked it yields much juice, with no suggestion of the usual
mud-flavoured varieties of Borneo. It will remain wholesome three days, and
whenever necessary the bamboo is heated at the bottom. One who has tasted
meat or cereals cooked between hot stones in earth mounds knows that, as
regards palatable cooking, there is something to learn from the savages.
It is a fact that Indians and Mexicans prepare green corn in a way
superior to that employed by the best hotels in New York. There is no
necessity of returning to the bamboo and hot stones as cooking utensils,
but why not accept to a greater extent the underlying principle of these

In the evening we arrived at Long Pelaban, a large Kenyah kampong, where
for some time I made my headquarters. On the opposite bank of the river we
cut the tall grass and jungle and made camp. Soon we were visited by many
small boys who afterward came every day to look for tin cans. With few
exceptions they were not prepossessing in appearance; nearly all were
thin, and one was deaf and dumb, but they were inoffensive and
well-behaved. During my travels among Dayaks I never saw boys or girls
quarrel among themselves--in fact their customary behaviour is better than
that of most white children. Both parents treat the child affectionately,
the mother often kissing it.

The sumpitan (blow-pipe) is found in his room, but the Kenyah usually
prefers to carry a spear when he goes hunting. In his almost daily trips
to the ladang he also takes it along, because instinctively mindful of
enemy attacks. The Kenyahs are physically superior to the Kayans and the
other natives I met, and more free from skin disease. They are less
reserved than the Kayans, who are a little heavy and slow. In none of
these tribes is any distrust shown, and I never saw any one who appeared
to be either angry or resentful. Though the so-called Dayaks have many
traits in common, of them all the Kenyahs are the most attractive. They
are intelligent and brave and do not break a contract; in fact, you can
trust their word more completely than that of the majority of common white
people. Neither men nor women are bashful or backward, but they are always
busy, always on the move--to the ladang, into the jungle, building a
house, etc. Murder by one of the same tribe is unknown and a lonely
stranger is quite safe in the kampong, where they do not like to kill

Among the Kenyahs and Kayans and many other tribes are found distinct
social strata, upper, middle, and low. The first class ranks as a sort of
nobility and until recent times had slaves, who were kindly treated. The
members of the second class have less property, but they are active in
blacksmithing, making prahus, determining the seasons by astronomical
observations, etc. These well-bred Dayaks are truthful and do not steal.
In their conception a thief will have to carry around the stolen goods on
his head or back in the next life, forever exposed to scorn and ridicule.
Third-class people are descendants of slaves and, according to the
posthouder at Long Pangian, himself a Dayak, they are the more numerous on
the Kayan River. These may tell lies, and ten per cent of them are apt to
appropriate small articles, but they never steal money.

The Kenyah woman is most independent, and may travel unaccompanied by
another woman with a party of men for days, sleeping aside, separate from
the men. She and her husband both bring wood to the house and she does the
cooking. No man has ever been known to beat or kill his wife. If
dissatisfied, either may leave the other. The daughter of the chief at
Long Mahan had had three husbands. Abortive plants are used, but the men
do not know what they are.

Every day I went to the kampong, and it was a pleasure to visit these
still primitive natives. Women, as usual, were timid about being
photographed, for it is a universal belief that such an operation prevents
women from bearing children. However, by giving money, cloth, sugar, or
the like, which would enable them to offer some little sacrifice to
protecting spirits, I usually succeeded. But if a woman is pregnant or has
care of a small child, no inducements are of any avail, as an exposure to
the camera would give the child bad luck or a disease that might kill it.

The women here had the teeth of the upper jaw in front filed off, but not
the men, who make plugs from yellow metal wire, procured in Tandjong
Selor, with which they adorn their front teeth, drilling holes in them for
the purpose. The plug is made with a round flat head, which is the
ornamental part of it, and without apparent rule appears in one, two, or
three incisors, usually in the upper jaw, sometimes in both. One of my men
took his out to show to me.

The women are cleanly, combing their hair frequently and bathing three
times daily. The men bathe even oftener; still all of them have more or
less parasites in their hair and frequently apply lime juice in order to
kill them. A young woman, whom I remembered as one of two who had danced
for the kinematograph, had considerable charm of manner and personal
attraction; it was a trifle disconcerting to find my belle a little later
hunting the fauna of her lover's head. Her nimble fingers were deftly
expert in the work and her beloved was visibly elated over the
demonstration of her affection.

These natives do not tolerate hair on the body and pull it out or shave it
off. The men even remove the hair at the edge of the scalp all around the
head, letting the remainder attain a growth of about sixty centimetres,
and this is tucked up in a coil under the cap. The hair of eyebrows and
eyelids is removed with great care. The women perform this operation, and
tweezers made for the purpose are usually seen among the ornaments that
hang from the tops of their hats. I was told that people careful about
their appearance have their eyes treated in this manner every ten or even
every five days. It is a service which a young man's "best girl" is glad
to perform and a couple thus engaged may often be seen. Truly the wiles of
Cupid are many.

The Dayaks are fond of ornaments and the Kenyahs are no exception. The
extraordinary number of large tin or brass rings worn in the vastly
distended ear-lobe is well known and is the striking feature in the
appearance of most tribes. I was told that among the Kenyahs the ear-lobes
of children are pierced when the infant is seven days old. Especially the
women of this and many other tribes carry this fashion to extremes, the
lobe being so elongated that it may be twisted twice around the ear. The
heavy weight of rings sometimes breaks the thin band to which the lobe has
been stretched. The men may also wear rings, though they remove them when
going into the utan or to the ladang, and, although in this regard the
males make less display than the females, in the wearing of valuable
necklaces they excel them.

Necklaces of beads are worn by men, women, and children. When money is
obtained by selling rubber to the Chinese, or by taking part in an
expedition to New Guinea, there is much display of such ornaments, many of
which are manufactured in Europe. But the Dayaks are extremely particular
about the kind they buy; therefore it is useless to take beads out to
Borneo without knowing the prevalent fashion. On the Kayan River a
favoured style of bead is tubular in form, light yellow in hue, and
procured from Bugis traders who are said to obtain their stock in New
Guinea. Others of similar shape, but brown in colour, come from Sumatra.

When children are small they are carried on the backs of their mothers in
a kind of cradle, the outside of which is often elaborately adorned with
beads. The chief in Long Pelaban had one, the value of which I computed to
be two thousand florins. The choicest beads are very old and have been
kept for centuries in Borneo. Some are thought to be of Venetian origin,
while others resemble a Roman variety. It is very difficult to induce the
Dayaks to sell any of these, which they guard as precious heirlooms and
the value of which they fully realize. According to Hose and McDougall,
the wife of a rich chief in Sarawak may possess old beads to the value of
thousands of pounds.



Hydrophobia was raging at Long Pelaban, and during my stay one man and
seven children were bitten. For religious reasons the Dayaks do not like
to kill dogs, so in cases like this the canines that are ill are caught,
their legs are tied together, and they are thrown into the water to die
without being killed. Over forty were disposed of in this way. I saw one
of the hydrophobia victims standing in the water as if alive, a little of
the back showing above the surface.

The sounding of a gong one day signified the death of a woman. A party
immediately went out to procure a suitable tree from which to make the
coffin. Throughout the night we could hear without intermission the sounds
produced by those who hollowed out the log and smoothed the exterior. Next
day I was present at the obsequies of the dead woman. On the large gallery
men were sitting in two long rows facing each other, smoking their
green-hued native tobacco in huge cigarettes, the wrappers of which are
supplied by large leaves from two species of trees. A jar of native brandy
stood between them, of which but little was consumed. More alcohol is made
here from sugar-cane than from rice. The latter is the better and sweeter,
the former being sour.

At the end of the gallery stood the large, newly made casket, which was
open, the corpse covered with cloth resting inside. It was an oblong,
heavy box supposed to represent a rhinoceros, though nothing positively
indicated this except the large head of this animal at one end, which,
though rudely made, was cut with considerable artistic skill. The family
sat around the casket, one man smoking tobacco, the women wailing and
occasionally lifting the cover to look at the face of the corpse. One babi
(pig) that had belonged to the deceased had been killed and was served
with rice. In the afternoon, having partaken of food, a number of men
carried the heavy burden on their shoulders down to the river, preceded by
two women belonging to the family. It was placed on two prahus, which were
lashed together, and then taken down the river to be buried. After the
death of a relative women mourners cut off about two centimetres from the
end of the hair; the men cut an equal portion from the front.

Later in the afternoon the gong announced another death, that of a child.
On this account some sixty Malays who were camped here, bound for the utan
higher up the river, in search of rubber and damar, delayed their
departure as did some Kenyahs who were on their way to Apo Kayan, and the
people of the kampong did not go to their ladangs. The following day the
sound of the gong was again heard, but this time it was occasioned by the
fact that an adept had taken augurs from the flight of the red hawk, and
to him it was given that illness would cease.

It was difficult to hold the busy Dayaks in the kampong. At this time, the
beginning of May, their attention was absorbed in harvesting the paddi.
Every day they started up the river to their ladangs a few miles distant,
returning in the evening with their crops. I decided to visit these
fields, taking my cameras with me. In years gone by the kampong people
have gradually cleared the jungle from a large tract of country, but part
of this clearing was still covered by logs that had not been burned. Over
these hundreds and hundreds of fallen trees, down steep little galleys and
up again, a path led to the present fields higher up in the hills, very
easy walking for bare feet, but difficult when they are encased in leather
shoes. For over an hour and a half we balanced along the prostrate trunks,
into some of which steps had been cut, but, arduous as was the ascent, we
naturally found the descent in the evening a more hazardous undertaking;
yet all emerged from the ordeal with sound limbs.

We arrived a little before noon and found some of the natives busy
preparing their midday meal in and around a cool shed on top of a hill
from where an extensive view was obtained of the past and present fields
of the country. Near by was a watch-tower raised on top of upright logs.
At one side of it four bamboos of different sizes were hanging
horizontally over each other, which produced different notes when struck,
and probably had been placed there for the purpose of frightening birds

The Kenyahs "take turns" helping each other to harvest, and on this
occasion they were assisting their chief. It was a scene of much
animation, as if it were a festival, which in reality the harvesting is to
them. The long row of men and women in their best garments, with
picturesque sun-shades, cut the spikes one by one, as the custom is, with
small knives held in the hollow of their hands. Assuredly the food which
they received was tempting to hungry souls. The rice, after being cooked,
was wrapped in banana leaves, one parcel for each, forty-four in all, and
as many more containing dried fish which also had been boiled. The people
kindly acceded to my request to have them photographed. They then packed
the harvested paddi in big baskets, which they carried on their backs to
the storehouse in the kampong the same afternoon. From planting time till
the end of the harvest--four or five months--a man is deputed to remain in
the kampong to whom fish is forbidden, but who may eat all the rice he
wants, with some salt, and as recompense for his services receives a new
prahu or clothing.

A few days later, the chief having early in the morning taken omens from a
small bird, the inhabitants with few exceptions departed on a tuba-fishing
expedition to the Pipa, a small tributary to the Kayan River farther
north. The two kampongs, Long Pelaban and Long Mahan, combined forces, and
as so many were going I experienced difficulty in arranging to join the
excursion, but finally succeeded in securing prahus and men from the
latter place.

We passed a small settlement of Punans, former nomads, who had adopted the
Dayak mode of living, having learned to cultivate rice and to make prahus.
We found the people of Long Pelaban camped on a stony beach in two long
rows of rough shelters, each row containing many families under one common
roof of bark. The Long Mahan people had gone farther and camped on a
similar beach, and between the two I discovered a pleasant location in the
jungle by ascending the high bank of the river. Hardly had we finished
putting up our tents when a violent thunder-storm arose, which continued
unabated for half an hour, and thereafter with diminished force throughout
the night. Many of the Dayaks moved up to our position, and next day the
river ran high, so we did not make a start.

In the morning, after a fine bath, as I was about to take breakfast, a
large party of visitors from Long Mahan approached. They were unacquainted
with the Malay tongue and showed obvious signs of embarrassment, but by
distributing a little candy to the children and biscuits to the adults
harmony was soon established. Two unusually attractive small girls wearing
valuable bead necklaces, who at first had appeared takut (frightened),
unconcernedly seated themselves on their heels in front of me. The others
perched in a long row on two poles which they laid on the wet ground, all
of them preparing to watch me eat breakfast. Among other things the menu
included half a dozen small boiled potatoes brought from Tandjong Selor
and obtained from Central Java; they usually keep for four or five weeks
and are a valuable aid in maintaining good health in the tropics.

The Kenyahs had never seen potatoes before, and one man handed some of the
peelings to his wife for inspection, whereupon I gave her a potato, which
she peeled carefully, divided, and gave a piece to each of the two
children, with whom, however, it did not find favour. I opened a can of
milk and another of cream, for I was fresh from Europe and had plenty of
provisions. After helping myself from the cans I gave them to the
children, who greatly relished what was left in them, but they did not eat
greedily, behaving like white children who have not learned from adults to
eat hastily. The Kenyahs are very courteous. When a man passed my tent
opening he generally called aloud, as if announcing his presence.

In visiting the camps I found the Kenyahs, even on an occasion like the
present, busily engaged at some occupation, and seldom or never was
anybody seen sitting idle. The men were splitting rattan into fine
strings, later to be used for many purposes: for plaiting the sheath of
the parang; for making bottle-shaped receptacles for rice; for securing
the axe to the handle, etc. Women were doing the same work with bamboo,
first drying the stalks by standing them upright before a fire. These fine
bamboo strings are later used in making winnowing trays and for various
kinds of beautifully plaited work. When employed in this way, or on other
occasions, the women smoke big cigarettes as nonchalantly as the men.

Continuing the journey next day, we found it a laborious undertaking over
many small rapids. The water had already subsided, so we had to wade most
of the day, dragging the prahus, a task which we found rather fatiguing,
as the stones are difficult to step on in the water and very hot out of
it. The river was narrow, but here and there widened out into pools. Many
"bring" were erected over the stream, and I noticed that they were smaller
than those I had seen before, but the arrangements for beating the tuba
were far more elaborate.

On the river bank, as we approached the main camping-place, piles of the
light-brown root were often seen, resembling stacks of wood. The gathering
of these roots, I learned, was accomplished in one day. Our men had helped
in the work and they also put up a couple of "bring" near our camp for our
own use. Early in the afternoon two rather solid structures, built like
bridges across the small river, were erected; on these the beating of the
tuba was to take place next morning. In the middle, lengthwise, was placed
a long, narrow excavated log, longer than the bridge itself, for the use
of the beaters.

In the evening a large tree crashed to earth not far from my camp, and at
a later hour another, still nearer, thunderously broke with its fall the
silence of night. At two o'clock in the morning the beating of tuba began,
to the accompaniment of shouts and outcries, and though the noise was
considerable and unusual I did not find it intolerable, but fell asleep
again. I arose early, and after partaking of some excellent Dayak rice I
walked down to view the proceedings, and found the scene engrossing. Men
and women stood close together on each side of the long trough, crushing
the tuba with sticks in a similar manner to that adopted when pounding
rice. The trough had at one end a small compartment, open like the rest,
but the sides had been smoothed with an axe and when beaten served the
purpose of a gong. The bark was pounded into small pieces and then thrown
to one side upon large palm leaves which covered the bridge.

Boarding a prahu, I next visited Amban Klesau's bridge, a little lower
down, which was larger and more pretentious, with tall poles erected on
it, and from the top hung ornamental wood shavings. The end of the trough
here had actually been carved into a semblance of the head of "an animal
which lives in the ground," probably representing a supernatural being
usually called nagah. The owner himself was beating it with a stick on
both sides of the head, and this made more noise than the pounding of the
fifty men and women who stood working at the trough. At times they walked
in single file around it.

The pounding was finished in the forenoon, and all went a little farther
down the river to take the fire omen at a place where the river widened
out into a pool. A man with many tail-feathers from the rhinoceros
hornbill (_buceros rhinoceros_) stuck into his rattan cap seated himself
on a crude platform which had been built on upright poles over the water.
Some long pieces of tuba-root were lying there, and he squatted on his
heels facing the principal men who were sitting on the bank south of him.

A few minutes later the chief of Long Mahan made his way out to the
platform over some logs which loosely bridged the space to the bank of the
river, and attempted the fire-making, but after two unsuccessful attempts
he retired. Several other prominent men came and tried, followed by the
man with the tail-feathers in his cap, but he also failed; whereupon they
all stepped ashore, taking the fire-making implements and some of the
roots with them, in order to see whether they would have better luck on
land. The brother of the chief now came forward and made two attempts,
with no more success than the others. Urged to try again, he finally
succeeded; the assemblage silently remained seated for a few minutes, when
some men went forth and beat tuba with short sticks, then threw water upon
it, and as a final procedure cast the bark into the river and again beat
it. From the group of the most important people an old man then waded into
the water and cast adrift burning wood shavings which floated down-stream.

In the meantime the Long Mahan people had gone to throw the bark into the
river from their elaborate bridge, and those of Long Pelaban went to their
establishments. The finely pounded bark soon began to float down the river
from the bridges as it might were there a tannery in the neighbourhood.
Presently white foam began to form in large sheets, in places twenty-five
centimetres thick and looking much like snow, a peculiar sight between the
dark walls of tropical jungle. Above the first little rapid, where the
water was congested, a portion of the foam remained like snow-drift, while
most of it continued to advance and spread itself over the first long
pool. Here both men and women were busily engaged catching fish with
hand-nets, some wading up to their necks, others constantly diving
underneath and coming up covered with light foam.

The insignificant number of fish caught--nearly all of the same kind--was
surprising and disappointing. Even small fish were eagerly sought. There
was little animation, especially at the beginning of the sport, and no
spears were used. Several tons of bark must have been utilized, at least
eight or ten times as much as at the Isau River, and I regretted that they
should have so little reward for their trouble. Five days were spent in
travel, two days in making "bring" and gathering tuba, and they had
pounded tuba for eight hours, since two o'clock in the morning. After all
these exertions many prahus must have returned without fish. Possibly the
fish had been practically exterminated by the tuba poisoning of former
years. One man told me that many fish remain dead at the bottom, which
partly accounts for the scanty result.

I was desirous of having Chonggat remain here for a week of collecting,
but no Kenyah was willing to stay with him, all being deterred through
fear of Punan head-hunters, who, on this river, not so long ago, had
killed some rubber-gatherers from Sarawak. Besides, they also anticipated
revenge on the part of Kayans, eleven of whom had been killed by the
Kenyahs in Apo Kayan one and a half years previously. According to their
own reports and that of the Chinese interpreter, the heads of six men and
five women had been taken after a successful attack on the two prahus in
which the Kayans (Oma-Lakan) travelled. The Kenyahs (Oma-Kulit) who had
committed the outrage had been apprehended by the Company, as the
government is called by the natives. The brother of the chief of Long
Pelaban, who was with us fishing, three months previously had returned
from Samarinda, where he had spent one year in prison for having been
implicated in a minor way in this crime, while the main offenders were
serving labor terms of six years in Sorabaia, Java.

This report was confirmed by a Dutch officer whom I met a month later and
who came from Apo Kayan. The attacking Kenyahs were eighty in number, of
whom ten were punished. The affair took place in 1912 at a distance of six
hours, going down-stream, from Long Nawang. Though head-hunters are known
to travel wide and far, and distant Apo Kayan is not too remote for them,
nevertheless to me, as well as to Chonggat, the risks seemed unfounded;
however, there remained no alternative but for all of us to return to Long



During April and the first half of May the weather was warm with very
little rain, though at times thunder was heard at a distance. But during
the second half of May thunder and lightning in the evening was the usual
occurrence, with an occasional thunder-clap at close quarters. At night it
rained continually though not heavily, but this was accompanied by a dense
fog which did not clear away until nine o'clock in the morning. When the
dark clouds gathered about sunset, it was not with exactly cheerful
feelings that I anticipated the coming night. My tent stood at a little
distance from the rest of the camp, for the reason that solitude at times
has its charms. When the lamp outside the tent door was extinguished, and
all was enveloped in darkness and fog to an overwhelming degree, a feeling
of loneliness and desolation stole over me, though it soon left me when I
thought of the glories of the coming day, when all the rain would be

Shortly after sunset one evening scores of thousands of ants descended
upon me while supper was in progress. In the dim light afforded by the
lamp I had not perceived their approach until I felt them around my feet.
Upon looking about, I discovered to my astonishment that the floor, which
had a covering of closely set bamboo stalks, was black with ants and that
regiments of them were busily climbing up my bed. Coming in such immense
numbers and unannounced, their appearance was startling. Outside the soil
seemed to move. Twice before I had received visits from these ants but had
prevented their entering the tent by pouring hot water over them. The pain
caused by their bite is severe, although of short duration, and they are
therefore feared by the Dayaks and Malays.

By liberal application of hot water and burning paper on the ground we
finally succeeded in driving the unwelcome visitors out of the tent; but
new hordes were constantly arriving, and we battled for two hours before I
could retire, carrying many bites as souvenirs. None were then in the tent
and next day not a trace of them remained. The Chinese photographer had
been there twenty minutes before the raid began and had not noticed even
one ant. The attack began as suddenly as it ceased.

My stay on the Kayan River had been interesting as well as profitable.
Twice during that period requests had come from the government for Dayaks
willing to join a Dutch enterprise operating in northern New Guinea, and
the chances of my securing sufficient men on this river for my expedition
were evidently gone. However, with the assistance of the government I felt
sure there would be no difficulty in securing them from other rivers of
Dutch Borneo, but I deemed it wise to begin my return trip.

The river was now so swollen that it was difficult to effect a departure,
and current report indicated that if the rain continued it might be
necessary to wait a month before the rapids below could be passed. I had
all my belongings packed in order to be ready to start whenever it was
found advisable to do so. While waiting I went over to the kampong to
kinematograph two dancing girls who the day before, owing to their
bashfulness, had detained us so long that the light became inadequate. At
last the river fell about a metre during the night, and the chief and his
brother called on me early in the morning to suggest that our best plan
would be to start in the middle of the day.

Only a couple of hours are consumed in going to Long Pangian from here, on
account of the downward course of the river, which forms rapids and
currents at frequent intervals. As the men appeared disinclined to go, the
posthouder of Long Pangian, who then was with me, crossed the river and
gave the necessary impetus to action. Soon a big prahu was hauled by many
men down the bank to the river; this was followed by others, taken from
their storage place under the house, and shortly afterward we had
facilities for departure. Most of the boats were medium-sized; mine was
the largest, about seven and a half metres long, but so unsteady that the
luggage was loaded with difficulty. As usual my prahu carried the most
valuable articles, the photographic outfit, scientific instruments, etc.,
all of which was finally secured by tying rattan over it from side to
side. Naturally, fewer men are needed going down a river than coming up,
and I had only four.

At two o'clock in the afternoon a start was made and we proceeded rapidly
down-stream. The man standing at the bow is the commander, not the one
that steers with his paddle at the stern, and it appeared to be their
custom always to take the boat where the current was strongest and the
water most turbulent. It seemed reckless, but my prahu, heavily laden,
acted admirably, shooting through the waves without much exertion. After
nearly an hour of refreshing passage we approached the main rapid, Kiham
Raja. I kept behind the rest of the fleet, in order, if possible, to get a
snap-shot. In the beautiful light of the afternoon the prahus afforded a
splendid sight as, at short intervals, they passed along one after
another, the first ones already considerably lower than mine. My Kenyahs,
all standing, seemed to know exactly where to go and what to do, and we
moved along rapidly. Without a moment's hesitation we shot down the kiham.
This time they did not choose the place where the waves ran highest, and
we quickly slipped down the rapid, turbulent current, while the big waves
on our right threatened to engulf our craft.

As usual, it was difficult to get away from Long Pangian, but the
posthouder exerted himself to the utmost, and after a few days we were
ready to leave for Tandjong Selor. To a large prahu that we had obtained
we had to lash a log on either side to keep it steady. I found that the
Kenyah prahus in these parts usually are unstable. One Dayak that had been
loading mine in stepping ashore tipped it to such a degree that two large
green waterproof bags containing clothing, blankets, etc., fell overboard.
They floated well and were recovered.

Having finally put mats on upright saplings over the boats, as shade
against the sun and protection against rain, we were off, but it was not
altogether a pleasant two days' journey. My heavily laden prahu, having
been out of use for some time, leaked badly, so one of the five men had
all he could do to throw out the water which poured in through the holes
of the rattan fastenings. The man who was bailing sat opposite me in the
middle section, and for want of space I had to hold my feet up, with one
leg resting on either side of the prahu. I wore a pair of London Alpine
boots with thick soles and nails, weighing eight pounds, which I had found
too heavy for walking, but which were excellent for wear in wet boats.
When, in order to change my uncomfortable position, I placed both legs on
one side, the edge of the prahu nearly touched the water and the Dayaks
would cry out in warning. I have not on other rivers in Borneo met with
prahus quite as cranky as these. At the Bugis settlement I bought fifty
delicious pineapples at a very moderate price and distributed them among



In Tandjong Selor I was exceedingly busy for three days getting boxes and
packing the collections, and early in June I departed for Bandjermasin, on
S.S. _De Weert_. It has been my fortune to travel much on the steamships
of the Royal Packet Boat Company, which controls the whole Malay
Archipelago from Singapore to New Guinea and the Moluccas. It is always a
pleasure to board one of these steamers, as the officers are invariably
courteous, and the food is as excellent on the smaller steamers as on the
large ones. The same kind of genuine, good claret, at a reasonable price,
is also found on all of them, and it may readily be understood how much I
enjoyed a glass of cool Margaux-Medoc with dinner, after over five months
in the utan. The sailors on these steamers are Javanese. Those from
Madura, rather small men, made an especially good impression. A captain
told me they never give any trouble except when on leave ashore in
Sourabaia, where they occasionally remain overtime, but after a few days
they come to the office and want to be taken on again. They are punished
by having their wages deducted for the days they are absent, but the loss
of coin does not trouble them much. If they have cigarettes and their
meals they are happy, and they never accumulate money. They are engaged
for one year and some of them renew their contracts.

As we sailed southward from the Kayan River we were told of a French count
who with his wife lived on an island three or four kilometres long, near
the coast. At first he had fisheries and sold dried fish, which, with
rice, forms the staple food of the natives of Borneo and other countries
of the East. He was enabled to change his business into cocoanut
plantations, which to-day cover the island. According to report they
dressed for dinner every day, to the end that they might not relinquish
their hold upon the habits of civilised society. Later I learned that when
the war broke out the count immediately went to France to offer his

Lieutenant C.J. La Riviere came aboard in Samarinda, en route to Holland
for a rest, after being in charge of the garrison at distant Long Nawang
in Apo Kayan. There are 40 soldiers, 2 officers, and 1 doctor at that
place, which is 600 metres above sea, in a mountainous country with much
rain, and therefore quite cool. In a single month they had had one and a
half metres of rain. Officers have been known to spend three months in
going from Long Iram to Apo Kayan, travelling by prahu almost the whole
distance. Usually the trip may be made in a couple of months or less. The
river at last becomes only four metres broad, with very steep sides, and
in one night, when it rains copiously, the water may rise five to six
metres. Mail usually arrives three times a year, but when the lieutenant
boarded the steamer he had not seen a newspaper for five months.

He expressed his opinion that the government would find it extremely
difficult to stamp out head-hunting in Apo Kayan, with its 15,000 Dayaks,
because the custom is founded in their religious conception. "Our
ancestors have always taken heads," they say; "we also do it, and the
spirits will then be satisfied. We have learned it from our ancestors, who
want us to do it." "They often ask us," the lieutenant said: "When are you
going to leave Long Nawang? When you are gone then we will again take up
the head-hunting." These same Kenyahs are entrusted to go to Long Iram to
bring provisions to the garrison. About eighty of them are sent,
accompanied by only two soldiers, and after three months' absence the
goods arrive safely at Long Nawang.

On board the steamer were also two Punan head-hunters from the interior
who were being taken to Bandjermasin under the guard of two soldiers. They
had been caught through the assistance of other Punans, and in prison the
elder one had contracted the dry form of beri-beri. He was a pitiful
sight, in the last stage of a disease not usually found among his
compatriots, no longer able to walk, looking pale and emaciated and having
lost the sight of his right eye. They had rather wild but not unpleasant
faces, and were both tatued like the Kenyahs. Their hair had been cut
short in the prison. I later took the anthropometric measurements of the
young man, who was a fine specimen of the savage, with a splendid figure,
beautifully formed hands and feet--his movements were elastic and easy.

As it had been found impossible to secure Dayaks in the Bulungan for my
expedition to New Guinea, the resident courteously offered to get eighty
men from the Mahakam River. This would take at least two months and gave
me opportunity to visit a lake called Sembulo, a considerable distance
west of Bandjermasin. It was necessary first to go to Sampit, a small
town, two days distant, on a river of the same name, where there is a
controleur to whom the resident gave me an introduction, and who would be
able to assist in furthering my plans. I could not afford to wait for the
monthly steamer which touches at Sampit on its way to Singapore, so I
arranged to make the trip on board an old wooden craft which was under
repairs in Bandjermasin, and in the afternoon of June 5 we started.

The steamer was small, slow, and heavily laden, so it was not a very
pleasant trip. As we sailed down the great Barito River on a dark and
cloudy evening, from the deck, which was scarcely a metre above the muddy
water, one might observe now and then floating clumps of the plants that
thrive so well there. On approaching the mouth of the river the water,
with the outgoing tide, became more shallow. The Malay sailor who
ascertained the depth of the water by throwing his line and sang out the
measures in a melodious air, announced a low figure, which made the
captain stop immediately. The anchor was thrown and simultaneously a great
noise of escaping steam was heard. Before the engine-room the sailors were
seen trying to stop the steam which issued, holding sacks in front of them
as a protection against being scalded. Coupled with my observation that
there were no life preservers in my little cabin, nor anywhere else, the
situation appeared disquieting, but the captain, a small-sized Malay and a
good sailor, as all of that race are, reassured me by saying that it was
only the glass for controlling the steam-power that was broken. After a
while the escape of steam was checked and a new glass was put in.

The old craft kept up its reputation for rolling excessively, and I was
glad when finally we entered the smooth waters of the Sampit River. We
stopped for a couple of hours at a small kampong, where I made the
acquaintance of a Polish engineer in the government's service, who was
doing some work here. He told me that thirty years ago, in the inland
country west of Kotawaringin, he had seen a young Dayak whose chest, arms,
and legs, and most of the face, were covered with hair very similar in
colour to that of the orang-utan, though not so thick. The hair on his
face was black, as usual. There were no Malays at that head, but many
Dayaks. I have heard reports of natives in the Schwaner mountains, who are
said to have more hair on the body than Europeans, of a brownish colour,
while that on the head is black. Controleur Michielsen, [*] in the report
of his journey to the upper Sampit and Katingan in 1880, describes a
certain Demang Mangan who had long, thin hair on the head, while on the
chest and back it was of the same brown-red colour as that of the
orang-utan. His arms were long, his mouth large and forward-stretching,
with long upper lip, and his eye glances were shy. Among the Dayaks he was
known as mangan (red).

[Footnote *: Controleur W.J. Michielsen, _Verslag einer Reis door de boven
distrikten der Sampit en Katingan rivieren in Maart en April_, 1880.]

About noon we arrived at Sampit, a clean, attractive village situated on
slightly higher ground than is generally available on Bornean rivers. The
stream is broad here, having almost the appearance of a lake. As is the
custom, a small park surrounds the controleur's residence, and in the
outskirts of the town is a small, well-kept rubber plantation belonging to
a German. Sampit is a Katingan word, the name of an edible root, and
according to tradition the Katingans occupied the place in times long gone

The weather was remarkably dry, so that the tanks at the corners of the
controleur's house, on which he depended for water, were becoming
depleted. When the fruits of the utan are ripe, the orang-utan may at
times be heard crying out in the neighbourhood, but on account of the dry
weather they had retired deeper into the jungle. Chonggat shot only one,
which was but half-grown and easily killed by a charge of shot. It is
often difficult to discover an orang-utan because he has a knack of hiding
himself where the foliage is densest, and if alarmed will proceed along
the branches of tall trees and thus disappear from sight.

This intelligent, man-like ape is probably not so common in Dutch Borneo
as he is supposed to be. Mr. Harry C. Raven, who collected animals in the
northeastern part, told me that in a year he had shot only one. The
orang-utans are generally found in Southern Borneo and do not go very far
inland; in Central Borneo they are extremely rare, almost unknown. It is
to be hoped that these interesting animals will not soon be exterminated.
A Malay, the only hunter in Sampit, told me that some are so old that they
can no longer climb trees. When wounded an orang-utan cries like a child
in quite an uncanny manner, as a Dutch friend informed me. According to
the Dayaks, it will wrest the spear from its attacker and use it on him.
They also maintain, as stated elsewhere, that orang-utans, contrary to the
generally accepted belief, are able to swim. Mr. B. Brouers, of
Bandjermasin, has seen monkeys swim; the red, the gray, and the black are
all capable of this, he said.

From a reliable source I have the following story. Eight Malays who had
made camp on a small promontory on the river, one morning were sitting
about sunning themselves when they were surprised to see an orang-utan
approaching. He entered their camp and one of the Malays nearest to him
instinctively drew his parang. Doubtless regarding this as an unfriendly
action, he seized one of the poles which formed the main framework of
their shelter and pulled it up, breaking the rattan fastenings as if they
were paper. The Malays now all attacked with their parangs, but the
orang-utan, taking hold of the end of the pole, swept it from side to side
with terrifying effect, and as the locality made it impossible to surround
him, they all soon had to take to the water to save themselves.

My informant, who had spent several years travelling in Southern Borneo
buying rubber from the natives, told me that one day his prahu passed a
big orang-utan sitting on the branch of a tree. The Malay paddlers shouted
to it derisively, and the animal began to break off branches and hurled
sticks at the prahu with astonishing force, making the Malays paddle off
as fast as they could. The several points of similarity between man and
highly developed monkeys are the cause of the amusing saying of the
natives of Java: the monkeys can talk, but they don't want to, because
they don't like to work.

The controleur obligingly put the government's steam launch _Selatan_ at
my disposal, which would take me to the kampong Sembulo on the lake of the
same name, whence it was my intention to return eastward, marching partly
overland. One evening in the middle of June we started. On entering the
sea the small vessel rolled more and more; when the water came over the
deck I put on my overcoat and lay down on top of the entrance to the
cabin, which was below. The wind was blowing harder than it usually does
on the coasts of Borneo, and in the early morning shallow waters, which
assume a dirty red-brown colour long before reaching the mouths of the
mud-laden rivers, rose into waves that became higher as we approached the
wide entrance to the Pembuang River.

The sea washed over the port side as if we were on a sailing-boat, but the
water flowed out again through a number of small, oblong doors at the
sides which opened and closed mechanically. The launch, which was built in
Singapore, behaved well, but we had a good deal of cargo on deck as well
as down in the cabin. Besides, the approach to Pembuang River is not
without risks. The sand-bars can be passed only at one place, which is
twelve or thirteen metres wide and, at low water, less than a metre deep.
The route is at present marked out, but in bygone years many ships were
wrecked here.

As the sea became more shallow the yellow-crested waves of dirty water
mixed with sand assumed an aspect of fury, and lying on my back I seemed
to be tossed from one wave to another, while I listened with some
apprehension to the melodious report of the man who took the depth of the
water: "Fourteen kaki" (feet)! Our boat drew only six feet of water;
"Seven kaki," he sang out, and immediately afterward, "Six kaki!" Now we
are "in for it," I thought. But a few seconds more and we successfully
passed the dangerous bar, the waves actually lifting us over it. My two
assistants had spent the time on top of the baggage and had been very
seasick. We were all glad to arrive in the smooth waters of the river. The
captain, with whom later I became well acquainted, was an excellent
sailor, both he and the crew being Malays. It was the worst weather he had
experienced in the two years he had been at Sampit. According to him,
conditions in this part of Borneo may be even more stormy from August to

In the Malay kampong, Pembuang, I procured a large pomelo, in Borneo
called limao, a delicious juicy fruit of the citrus order, but light-pink
inside and with little or no acidity. After the exertions of the night
this, together with canned bacon, fried and boiled potatoes, furnished an
ideal midday meal. Necessary repairs having been made to the engine, next
day, on a charming, peaceful afternoon, we continued our trip up the
river. An unusually large number of monkeys were seen on both sides, and
the men sat on the railing, with their feet hanging outside, to look at
them. The red, long-nosed variety did not retreat, but looked at us calmly
from the branch where it sat; other species hurried off, making incredibly
long leaps from branch to branch. Shortly after sunset we threw anchor.

Lake Sembulo is about sixteen kilometres long by about one in width. The
lake is entered suddenly, amid clumps of a big species of water plant
which in season has long white odoriferous flowers. Very striking is the
white bottom and the beaches consisting of gravel or sand. How far the
sandy region extends I am unable to say, but Mr. Labohm, the chief
forester, told me that in the Sampit River region northeast of here, and
about twenty metres above the sea, he walked for two days on whitish sand,
among rosaceae and azale, the forest being very thin. The comparatively
clear water is slightly tinged with reddish brown on account of its
connection with the Pembuang River, which has the usual colour of Bornean
rivers. Low receding hills rise all around as we steam along, and the
utan, which more or less covers the country, looks attractive, though at
first the forests surrounding the ladangs of the Malays are partly defaced
by dead trees, purposely killed by fire in order to gain more fields.

After a couple of hours we arrived at kampong Sembulo, which has an
alluring look when viewed from the lake, lying on a peninsula with
handsome trees which mercifully hide most of the houses. The kapala of
this Malay settlement, who came on board in a carefully laundered white
cotton suit, had courteous manners. He kindly arranged for three prahus to
take us and our belongings ashore.

There was a diminutive pasang-grahan here, neatly made from nipah palm
leaves, where I repaired, while Chonggat and Ah Sewey put up tents near
by. The presence of two easy chairs which had been brought from
Bandjermasin seemed incongruous to the surroundings, and had an irritating
rather than restful effect on me. Both Malays and Dayaks are very desirous
of securing European furniture for the house of the kapala, and will carry
a chair or table for hundreds of miles. On the occasion of my visit to the
Kenyah chief of Long Pelaban, in the Bulungan, he immediately went to a
heap of baskets and other articles occupying one side of the big room, dug
out a heavy table with marble top, which was lying overturned there, and
proudly placed it upright before me to be admired. That this piece of
furniture had been brought so great a distance over the kihams was almost

I had a talk with the kapala and a large number of people who soon
gathered in front of the pasang-grahan. The Dayaks who originally lived
here have disappeared or amalgamated with the Malay intruders, who in this
case are largely composed of less desirable elements. It soon became
evident that no information could be gained from these people in regard to
the traditions of the place. One man said that if I would wait four or
five days (in which to be exploited by the wily Malay) he would undertake
to bring me three old men of the place, whereupon the kapala, who was more
obliging than the rest, went to fetch one of these, who pretended to have
no knowledge in such matters.

In order to get relief from the increasing throng of men and boys, I went
for a walk, in which I was joined by the kapala and the mantri, a small
native police authority whom the controleur had sent with me to be of
assistance in making arrangements with the Malays. An old-looking wooden
mosque, twenty years old according to reports, stands at the turn of the
road. Near by is a cemetery covered with a large growth of ferns and
grass, which hides the ugly small monuments of the graves. The houses lie
along a single street in the shade of cocoanut-palms and other trees. On
account of the white sand that forms the ground everything looks clean,
and the green foliage of handsome trees was superb. Everywhere silence
reigned, for the women, being Mohammedans, remain as much as possible
inside the houses, and no voice of playing or crying child was heard.

On returning from our walk, near sunset, I asked the kapala how much I had
to pay for the bringing ashore of my baggage. "Fifteen rupia" (florins)
was the answer. As things go in Borneo this was an incredibly excessive
charge, and as my intention was to go by boat to the Dayak kampong on the
lake, and from there march overland to the small river, Kuala Sampit, I
demanded to know how much then I would have to pay for twenty men that I
needed for the journey. "Five rupia a day for each," he said. Dayaks, who
are far more efficient and reliable, are satisfied with one rupia a day.
Those near by protested that it was not too much, because in gathering
rubber they made even more a day. At that rate it would have cost me a
hundred florins a day, besides their food, with the prospects of having
strikes for higher pay all the way, according to the Malay custom.

Luckily the _Selatan_ had delayed its departure until next morning, so I
was not yet at the mercy of the greedy natives. The kapala seemed to have
as little influence with the people as the mantri, who plainly was afraid
of them. I got a prahu and went out to the captain, who arranged to take
us back next day, away from these inhospitable shores. At dusk he
accompanied me ashore, and in a refreshingly courageous manner read them
the text, telling them that I, who came recommended from the
Governor-General, was entitled to consideration; that it was a disgrace to
the Malay name to behave as they had done, etc. While I was eating my
evening meal two long rows of men were sitting outside on the ground,
watching the performance with close attention.

Next morning the _Selatan's_ boat came to assist in bringing us on board
again. After the captain's severe arraignment last night the mantri seemed
to have spurred up his courage. He said that two rupia would be sufficient
to pay for our luggage. I gave one ringit (f. 2.50), which the captain
said was ample. The kapala, who had exerted himself to get our things on
board again, thanked me for the visit and we steamed away, arriving safely
in Sampit a couple of days later.



In the beginning of July I returned to Bandjermasin, where I packed my
collections and despatched them to Europe. I decided to send what goods I
had, with my two assistants, to Macassar on Celebes, where the Dayaks who
were to take part in the New Guinea undertaking would also be transported.
It might be possible for Chonggat to do some collecting in the
neighbourhood of the town. At all events, it would be more convenient to
have them wait for me there than to take them to Java. Having secured
passes from the resident for the two men, and given them recommendations
to the Norwegian consul in Macassar, I departed for Batavia to take the
last steps in fitting out my expedition to New Guinea.

At this stage of my proceedings the war broke out. On August 6 I had an
audience of the Governor-General, who informed me that he was then unable
to let me have either soldiers or ship for my explorations. The day before
he had recalled his own great expedition on the Mamberamo in Northern New
Guinea, and advised me to wait for a more favourable opportunity,
promising that he would later give me all assistance. The commanding
general was equally agreeable. As I had never been in British India I
decided to go there while awaiting developments regarding the war, so the
following Saturday found me on my way to Singapore. Here I first arranged
for the safe return of my two assistants, who had been left in Macassar,
where cholera had broken out. Usually natives, who range under the
category of labourers, go as deck-passengers on steamers in the East.
Therefore, after I had bought second-class tickets for them, and the Dutch
Packet Boat Company had courteously offered to have a man meet them on
arrival, I felt satisfied that they would have no trouble in landing. I
then continued my journey over Penang to Madras.

In spite of the continuation of the war and the great fascination of
India, in April, the following year, 1915, I decided to return to the
Dutch Indies and undertake an expedition to Central Borneo, parts of which
are unexplored and unknown to the outside world. Briefly, my plans were to
start from Bandjermasin in the south, ascend the Barito River, and,
branching hence into its northern tributary, the Busang, to cross the
watershed to the Mahakam or Kutei River. Following the latter to its mouth
I should reach the east coast near Samarinda. This journey, I found, would
take me through a country where were some tribes never before studied.

At Colombo I took the Dutch steamer _Grotius_, which gave me a very
pleasant week. The Dutch are a kindly nation. There were fifteen children
on first-class playing on deck, and I never heard them cry nor saw them
fighting. After more than nine months' absence I again found myself in
Batavia, and from there I went to Buitenzorg to ask an audience of the
Governor-General. He offered to give me all assistance in furthering my
project, and I had the pleasure of being invited to dine at the palace. A
large open carriage, with quaint, old-fashioned lanterns, called for me.
The coachman and footman were liveried Javanese. It was a beautiful, cool,
starlit evening in the middle of June when we drove up the imposing avenue
of banyan-trees which leads to the main entrance. The interior of the
palace is cool and dignified in appearance, and the Javanese waiters in
long, gold-embroidered liveries, whose nude feet passed silently over the
marble floor, were in complete accord with the setting.

Several weeks had to be spent in preparation for the trip. It was decided
that in Borneo I should be furnished with a small escort. Further, Mr. J.
Demmini, photographer in the well-known Topografische Dienst in Batavia,
was attached to the expedition, as well as Mr. H.P. Loing, a native
surveyor of the same institution. After much searching I finally found a
man, Rajimin, a native of Batavia, who seemed competent to collect birds
and animals. My kinematograph was out of order, but fortunately I
succeeded in replacing it with a secondhand Pathe. The first week in
August we departed from Tandjong Priok by steamer, bound for Bandjermasin,

On our arrival in Sourabaia we learned that cholera was prevalent in
Bandjermasin, and our steamer carried serum for the doctors of the
garrison there. Early in the morning we steamed up the river, viewing the
usual scene of Malays bathing and children running out of the houses to
see the steamer pass. The most urgent matter demanding attention was to
have Rajimin, the taxidermist, vaccinated, as well as the two native boys
I had brought from Batavia. There were nine deaths a day, but while it is
unpleasant to be at a place where such an epidemic is raging, there is
reassurance in the knowledge that the bacillus must enter through the
mouth, and that therefore, with proper precautions, it is unnecessary for
anybody to have cholera.

A Dutch doctor in Sourabaia told me that he had been practising two years
on the Barito River in Borneo, and had gone through a severe epidemic of
cholera, but neither he nor his wife had been affected, although their
native boy, while waiting at table, fell to the floor and in two hours
expired. His wife disinfected plates, forks, spoons, and even the fruit,
in a weak solution of permanganate of potassium. Of course there must be
no alcoholic excesses. In the tropics it is also essential, for several
reasons, always to boil the drinking water.

The Dutch use an effective cholera essence, and if the remedy is applied
immediately the chances for recovery from the attack are favourable. The
lieutenant who accompanied me through Central Borneo told me that he saved
the life of his wife by immediately initiating treatment internally as
well as by bathing, without waiting for the doctor's arrival, for the
attack occurred in the middle of the night. After three or four hours she
was out of danger. One evening at the Bandjermasin hotel I was startled by
seeing our three Javanese men taking a sudden and determined departure,
carrying all their belongings. One of the hotel boys who occupied the room
next to them had shown the well-known symptoms of cholera, whereupon they
immediately decamped. I at once informed the manager, who gave the boy a
dose of cholera essence, and an hour later he was better. The next morning
he was still improving, and on the following day I saw him waiting at

The resident, Mr. L.F.J. Rijckmans, was kind enough to order the
government's good river steamer _Otto_ to take us up the Barito River to
Puruk Tjahu, a distant township, where boats and men might be secured and
where the garrison would supply me with a small escort. Toward the end of
August we departed. On account of the shallow water the _Otto_ has a flat
bottom and is propelled by a large wheel at the stern. We had 5,000
kilograms of provisions on board, chiefly rice and dried fish, all stored
in tin cans carefully closed with solder. There were also numerous
packages containing various necessary articles, the assorting of which
would be more conveniently done in Puruk Tjahu. We also brought furniture
for a new pasang-grahan in Muara Tewe, but the steamer could have taken
much more.

The evening of our departure was delightful, and a full moon shed its
light over the utan and the river. I occupied a large round room on the
upper deck, and felt both comfortable and happy at being "on the move"
again. Anchoring at night, there are about five days' travel on the
majestic river, passing now and then peaceful-looking kampongs where
people live in touch with nature. A feeling of peace and contentment
possessed me. "I do not think I shall miss even the newspapers," I find
written in my diary.

On approaching Muara Tewe we saw low mountains for the first time, and
here the river becomes narrower and deeper, though even at the last-named
place it is 350 metres wide. The water assumed a deeper reddish colour and
was speckled with foam, indicating a certain amount of flood caused by
rains higher up the river. We passed a family of wild pigs grubbing up the
muddy beach in search of roots. There was a large dark one and a huge
yellowish-white one, besides four young pigs dark in colour. At Muara
Tewe, where we had to make a stay of two days, the doctor of the garrison
said that in the case of the common species of wild pigs the full-grown
ones are always light in hue. Doctor Tjon Akieh, who came here from
Surinam, had some amusing monkeys, a native bear, tamer than most cats,
and a very quiet deer. In a steam-launch he had gone four days up the Ajo
River, a tributary to the Barito from the east, which passes between
limestone cliffs. In that locality the Dayaks are rarely visited by Malays
and therefore have retained their excellent tribal characteristics. The
men are inclined to obesity.

After leaving Muara Tewe we passed many small kampongs which were less
attractive than those at the lower part of the river. The farther one
proceeds the more inhabited are the banks. In this vicinity, eleven years
previously, a violent Malay revolution which had lasted two years was
finally suppressed. As usual, the revolt was headed by a pretender to the
sultanate. The steamer in which we travelled was a reminder of those days,
for it had two gun-mountings on its deck and my cabin, round in shape, was
lightly armoured.

Puruk Tjahu (puruk = small hill; tjahu = running out into the water) lies
at a bend of the river in a somewhat hilly and quite attractive country,
which is blessed with an agreeable climate and an apparent absence of
mosquitoes. The captain in charge of the garrison told me that he,
accompanied by the native kapala of the district, was going on a two
months' journey northward, and at his invitation I decided to follow him
as far as Sungei Paroi. I hoped that on my return a supply of films and
plates, ordered from London and already overdue, might have arrived. It
was, however, a very difficult proposition to have everything ready in
three days, because it was necessary first to take out of my baggage what
was needed for the journey. It meant the opening of 171 boxes and
packages. Convicts were assigned to assist in opening and closing these,
which afterward were taken to a storehouse, but as I had no mandur I alone
had to do the fatiguing work of going through the contents. The doctor of
the garrison kindly furnished me with knives and pincers for the
taxidermist, as the collector's outfit was missing from the boxes that had
been returned from Macassar.

The _Otto_ needed only one and a half hours to run down stream to the Muara
Laong, a Malay kampong at the mouth of the river Laong, which we intended
to ascend by boats to the kampong Batu Boa, where the overland journey was
to begin. As soon as we arrived in the afternoon the kapala was sent for to
help in procuring a sufficient number of prahus for the next day. I brought
twenty-nine coolies from Puruk Tjahu to serve as paddlers. The kapala was
unable to find enough prahus, but it had grown dark, so we waited, hoping
for better luck next day.

In the morning search was continued, but no great results were obtained.
The Malays evidently disliked to rent their boats, which were coming in
but slowly. In the meantime our luggage was being unloaded to the
landing-float. Mr. Demmini was able to secure some large prahus, among them
a specially good one belonging to a Chinaman, and the goods were placed in
them. At 11 A.M. all the baggage had been unloaded from the steamer, and
having worked like a dog for the last few days I felt that I had earned
twenty minutes for my usual bath, applying tepid water from a tin can,
with rough mittens. According to the opinion of those best able to judge,
bathing-water in the tropics should be of the same temperature as the
body, or slightly lower. There are three important items in my personal
outfit: A kettle in which drinking water is boiled, another (of a
different colour) in which water for bathing is heated, and a five-gallon
tin can which serves as a bathtub.

Much refreshed from my bath, I felt ready for further action. In the
morning I had requested the captain not to wait for me, and he had already
left. At 12 o'clock the _Otto_ departed, and a few minutes later our
flotilla was under way. We stayed over night at Biha, a small but clean
Dayak kampong. The Murungs, as seen here for the first time, are rather
shy, dark-complexioned, somewhat short and strongly set people. They are
not ugly, though their mouths always seem ungainly. The next day we
arrived at a Malay kampong, Muara Topu, which is less attractive on
account of its lack of cleanliness and its pretense of being civilised.

I soon realised that it would not be possible to overtake the captain,
still less to proceed overland, as our men from Puruk Tjahu were rather a
poor lot. They were Malays with the exception of three Dayaks, and one of
these, an Ot-Danum, had accepted Islam and therefore had imbibed many
Malay ideas. The majority of them were personally amiable, but physically,
with few exceptions, they were even below the Malay average, having weak,
ill-balanced bodies. I saw one man, when pushing his prahu, fall into the
water twice, and the men in my prahu often nearly upset it. In view of
these conditions I decided to stop over at the large kampong Tumbang
Marowei. Something might be gained by a stay among the Murungs, and
meantime the overdue photographic supplies, much needed for our inland
expedition, would possibly arrive.

The kampong created a pleasant impression, the space in front toward the
river, which the Dayaks are compelled to clear and keep clean, being
unusually extensive--almost approaching a boulevard on the river bank.
Along this are four communal houses arranged lengthwise, in two pairs, and
elevated on upright posts. Between the groups and farther back is a
smaller house. There are areca-palms and other trees planted in front, and
at the back the vast jungle begins immediately. Most of the people were
absent, burning trees and bushes that had been cut down to make new fields
for rice-planting, the so-called ladangs, but about sunset they returned,
and all were quite friendly in their manners.

We asked the kapala if he could have the people dance in order that we
might photograph them, but he said that would not be possible unless a
feast were made, a necessary part of which would be the sacrifice of a
babi (pig), whereupon an agreement was easily reached that I should pay
for the babi six florins, and that the Murungs should perform. The feast
was held one day later and was more interesting than I had expected. It
took place in front of the house where the kapala resided, and here a
sacred pillar stood, by the Katingans and others called kapatong, erected
on the occasion of a death.

A striking feature in Dayak kampongs, especially in remote regions, is the
presence of such upright pillars, carved more or less completely into
human form and standing before the houses. These are invariably for the
benefit of a dead person whom they guard, and if the deceased was well
provided with earthly goods two or three are furnished. They are made of
ironwood and often higher than a man, but usually only the upper part is
actually worked into shape, though many instances are observed of smaller
statues the entire surface of which is crudely carved. When a death occurs
many duties are incumbent on the surviving relatives, one of the first
being to make the kapatong, the soul of which waits on and guards the soul
of the departed one.

A good-sized domestic pig had been brought in dependent from a long pole
about which its feet had been tied, and it was deposited at the base of
the kapatong. One man held an upright stick between the legs of the
animal, while another opened the artery of the neck with one thrust of his
knife. The pig was next lifted up by the carrying-pole so that the blood
might run into a vessel, which was handed to a man who climbed the
kapatong and smeared blood on the image of a human being at the top. This
indicated that the feast was for the benefit of the soul of that ironwood
statue, because it is an invariable custom for the blood of a sacrificed
animal to be smeared on the principals of any feast or ceremony, and this
is also done when attempting to cure or ward off illness. The same custom
obtains in the case of those about to be married; or, if children are to
be named, if a move is made to a new home, blood is first daubed on the

The pig was then carried a little farther away, where the space was more
favourable for dancing, which soon began to our edification. It was the
same type of dance that is universal among the Dayaks wherever I have
been, although other varieties are seen in Borneo. This principal one
consists of moving in a circle around the sacrificial offering, which is
lying at the foot of an upright rod to the top of which a piece of cloth
is tied, or at the base of a sacred jar (blanga). The participants join
hands, and the movement is slow because an essential feature consists in
bending the knees--heels together--down and up again, slowly and in time;
then, moving one step to the left and bringing right heel to left, the
kneeling is repeated, and so on. The men danced for a long time, at first
by themselves, then the women by themselves, but most of the time the
circle was made up of alternate men and women. The latter, most of them
stocky and somewhat coarse-looking, danced with surprising excellence.
Though children of nature may be without good looks, there is decided
attraction in their grace and easy movements.

It did not look difficult, so I joined in the dancing, as I have done many
times among other races. Greatly to the amusement of the natives I
demonstrated that I had caught the right steps, and then seated myself in
a chair which was the pride of the kapala and which had been brought out
for my benefit. While watching the performance I was surprised to see two
of the women, about the only ones who possessed any charm of appearance,
coming toward me, singing as they advanced. Each took me by a hand and,
still singing, led me forward to the dancing circle, where a man who had
been offering rice brandy to the people from a huge horn of the
water-buffalo adorned with wood shavings, stepped forward and offered it to
me. Lifting it I applied my face to the wide opening as if drinking. Twice
I pretended to drink, and after participating a while longer in the
activities I retired to my place of observation.

No doubt the Dayaks had gladly acceded to my wishes in making the feast,
because dancing and sacrifice are believed to attract good spirits which
may be of assistance to them. In the evening there was a banquet with the
pig as the piece de resistance; and a young fowl was sent to me as a



A day or two later the kapala, evidently solicitous about our comfort,
asked permission to perform for three consecutive nights certain rites for
the purpose of curing several sick persons. The reason for his request was
that they might be noisy and prove disturbing to our rest. The ceremonies
consisted in singing and beating drums for three hours, in order to
attract good spirits and drive away the evil ones that had caused the
illness. One of the patients, who had malaria, told me later that he had
been cured by the nightly service, which had cost him forty florins to the

Among the aborigines of Borneo whom I visited, with the possible exception
of the Punan nomads, the belief in evil spirits and in good ones that
counteract them, both called antoh, is universal, and to some extent has
been adopted by the Malays. Though various tribes have their own
designations (in the Duhoi (Ot-Danum) untu; Katingan, talum; Kapuas,
telun; Kahayan, kambae), still the name antoh is recognised throughout
Dutch Borneo. Apprehension of evil being predominant in human minds, the
word is enough to cause a shudder even to some Malays. There are many
kinds of both evil and good antohs; some are male, some female, and they
are invisible, like the wind, but have power to manifest themselves when
they desire to do so. Though sometimes appearing as an animal or bird, an
antoh usually assumes the shape of a man, though much larger than an
ordinary human being. Caves in the mountains are favourite haunts of evil
antohs. In the great rivers, like the Barito and the Katingan, are many of
huge size, larger than those in the mountains. Trees, animals, and even
all lifeless objects, are possessed by antohs good or bad. According to
the Katingans the sun is a benevolent masculine antoh which sleeps at
night. The moon is a feminine antoh, also beneficent. Stars are the
children of the sun and moon--some good, some bad.

To drive away malevolent antohs and attract benignant ones is the problem
in the life philosophy of the Dayaks. The evil ones not only make him ill
and cause his death, but they are at the bottom of all troubles in life.
In order to attract the good ones sacrifices are made of a fowl, a pig, a
water-buffalo, or, formerly, a slave. Hens' eggs may also be proffered,
but usually as adjuncts to the sacrifice of an animal. If a child is ill
the Katingan makes a vow that he will give Antoh from three to seven eggs
or more if the child becomes well. If it fails to recover the offering is
not made.

The blood is the more precious part, which the Bahau of the Mahakam, and
other tribes, offer plain as well as mixed with uncooked rice. The people
eat the meat themselves, but some of it is offered to the well-disposed
antoh and to the other one as well, for the Dayaks are determined to leave
no stone unturned in their purpose of defeating the latter. The Duhoi
(Ot-Danums) told me: "When fowl or babi are sacrificed we never forget to
throw the blood and rice mixture toward the sun, moon, and 'three of the
planets.'" With the Katingans the blian (priest-doctor) always drinks a
little of the blood when an animal is sacrificed.

Singing to the accompaniment of drums, gongs, or the blian's shield, and
dancing to the sound of drums or gongs, are further inducements brought to
bear on the friendly antohs, which are attracted thereby. According to the
belief which prevails in their primitive minds, the music and dancing also
have a deterrent effect upon the malicious ones. Both evil and good antohs
are believed to congregate on such occasions, but the dancing and music
have a terrifying effect on the former, while on the latter they act as an
incentive to come nearer and take possession of the performers or of the
beneficiary of the function by entering through the top of the head. A
primitive jews'-harp, universally found among the tribes, is played to
frighten away antohs, and so is the flute.

A kindly antoh may enter a man and become his guardian spirit, to whom he
occasionally offers food, but it never remains long because that would
make the man insane. One must not step over a person, because a benevolent
antoh that may be in possession is liable to be frightened away, say the
Katingans and other Dayaks. In dancing with masks, which is much practised
on the Mahakam, the idea is that the antoh of the animal represented by
the mask enters the dancer through the top of his head.

The Penihings and Long-Glats of the Mahakam have an interesting belief in
the existence of a friendly antoh which reminded me of the superstition of
the "Nokken" in the rivers of Norway. It lives in rivers, is very rarely
beheld by mortals, and the one who sees it becomes rich beyond dreams of
avarice. The Long-Glats call it sangiang, a survival of Hindu influence.
An old man in Long Tujo is reported to have seen this antoh, and according
to him it had the appearance of a woman sitting underneath the water. No
doubt other tribes have the same belief.

The most famous of antohs is the nagah, which may be good or evil,
according to the treatment received from mortals, and being very powerful
its help and protection are sought in a manner later to be described in
connection with my travels on the Mahakam. The nagah guards underneath as
well as above the surface of water and earth, but the air is protected by
three birds which are messengers, or mail carriers, so to speak. They are
able to call the good antoh and carry food to him; they are also
attendants of man and watch over him and his food. Fowls and pigs are
sacrificed to them as payment. They are--the tingang (hornbill), the
sankuvai (formerly on earth but now only in heaven), and the antang (red
hawk). As these birds are called by the same names in the tribes of the
Katingans, Ot-Danums, Kahayans, and others, it may be presumed that their
worship is widely prevalent in Borneo.

Among most if not all native races certain persons occupy themselves with
religious services and at the same time cure disease. In Borneo, as far as
my experience goes, these priest-doctors, whether male or female, are
generally recognised by the name blian, or balian. Although some tribes
have their own and different designations, for the sake of convenience I
shall call them all blians.

While there are both male and female blians, the service of women is
regarded as more valuable, therefore commands higher remuneration than
that received by men. A Dayak explained to me: As there are two sexes
among the antohs, so there are also male and female blians. He or she on
occasion pretends to be possessed of helpful antohs, in some parts of
Borneo called sangiangs. Besides assisting the blians in their work they
enable them to give advice in regard to the future, illness, or the
affairs of daily life. A blian may be possessed by as many as fifty good
antohs, which do not remain long at a time. Although in the remote past
men sometimes saw good or evil spirits, at present nobody is able to do so
except blians, who also sing in a language that only they and the antohs

The blian does not know how to take omens from birds and read the liver of
the pig. There may be one expert along this line in the kampong and there
may be none. The blians of the tribes visited by me can neither make rain
nor afflict people with illness. Among the Long-Glats I saw them directing
the great triennial feast tasa, at which they were the chief performers.
The constant occupation of the blians, however, is to cure disease which
is caused by a malicious antoh longing to eat human blood and desiring to
drive away the human soul. When hungry an antoh makes somebody ill. The
blian's rites, songs, dances, and sacrifices aim to induce a good antoh to
chase away or kill the evil one which has taken possession of the patient,
and thus make an opportunity for the frightened soul to return, which
restores the man to health. This, without undue generalisation, is a short
summary of the religious ideas which I found on the Mahakam and in
Southern Borneo, more especially those of the Penihing, Katingan, and
Murung. Further details will be found among descriptions of the different

Shortly afterward we all made an excursion up the river as far as Batu
Boa, which, as is often the case, contains a Dayak as well as a Malay
kampong. At the first one, a forlorn and desolate looking place, the
kapala, who had an unusually large goitre, told me that eighteen men had
been engaged by the captain for his journey northward from there, which
definitely precluded any prospect of ours for an overland expedition, even
if under other conditions it would have been possible. As for the Malays,
I found them rather distant, and was glad to return to Tumbang Marowei.

Here a singular sight met us in a sculptured representation of a
rhinoceros with a man on his back, entirely composed of red rubber,
standing on a float and surrounded by a number of blocks made of the same
material. White and red pieces of cloth tied to upright saplings on the
float added a certain gaiety to the scene. Some of the kampong people had
just returned from a rubber expedition, and part of the output had been
cleverly turned into plastics in this way.

The rhino was about seventy-five centimetres high, strong and burly
looking, and the posture of the young man on his back conveyed a vivid
suggestion of action. They were now on their way to sell this to some
Chinaman. The image was said to be worth from two to three hundred
florins, and as there was considerable additional rubber, perhaps all of
it approached a value of a thousand florins. Bringing this rubber from up
country had occupied eighteen days, and it was the result of ten men's
work for two or three months. Twice before during the last two years
rubber had been brought here in the same manner.

First they considered it essential to make a feast for the badak (the
Malay name for rhinoceros). When going out on their expedition they had
promised to make a badak effigy if they found much rubber. As the man on
its back represented the owner, there was the risk that one of the souls
of the latter might enter his image, resulting in illness for the owner,
to avoid which a pig would have to be killed and various ceremonies

The festival was scheduled to take place in three days, but it had to be
postponed one day on account of difficulties in procuring the pig. I
presented them with three tins of rice and another half full of sugar,
which they wanted to mix with water to serve as drink because there was no
rice brandy. It required some exertion to bring the heavy image from the
float up to the open space in front of the house where the rubber
gatherers lived, but this had been done a day or two before the feast, the
statue in the meantime having been covered with white cotton cloth.
Several metres of the same material had also been raised on poles to form
a half enclosure around the main object. The feast had many features in
common with the one we had seen, as, for instance, dancing, and a good
deal of Malay influence was evident in the clothing of the participants,
also in the setting. Nevertheless, the ceremonies, which lasted only about
two hours, were not devoid of interest.

The men, manifesting great spontaneity and enthusiasm, gathered quickly
about and on the badak, and one of them took the rubber man by the hand.
This was followed by pantomimic killing of the badak with a ceremonial
spear as well as with parangs, which were struck against its neck. The man
who was deputed to kill the pig with the spear missed the artery several
times, and as blood was his first objective, he took no care to finish the
unfortunate animal, which was still gasping fifteen minutes later.

An old woman then appeared on the scene who waved a bunch of five hens, to
be sacrificed, whirling them over and among the performers who were then
sitting or standing. The hens were killed in the usual way by cutting the
artery of the neck, holding them until blood had been collected, and then
leaving them to flap about on the ground until dead. Blood was now smeared
on the foreheads of the principal participants, and a young woman danced a
graceful solo.

Having ascertained, by sending to the kampong below, that I could obtain
twenty men with prahus whenever I intended to move, I discharged with
cheerful willingness most of the Puruk Tjahu Malays. Their departure was a
relief also to the Murungs, who feared to be exploited by the Malays. As
soon as the latter had departed in the morning, many Dayaks whom I had not
seen before ventured to come up to the kitchen and my tent to ask for
empty tin cans. The Malays had slept in the Dayak houses, and the last
night one of them carried off the mat which had been hospitably offered

One day there were two weddings here, one in the morning and the other in
the evening. A cloth was spread over two big gongs, which were standing
close together on the floor and formed seats for the bride and bridegroom.
She seemed to be about sixteen years old, and laughed heartily and
frequently during the ceremony, which occupied but a few minutes. A man
waved a young live hen over and around them, then went away and killed it
in the usual manner, returning with the blood, which, with the help of a
stick, he smeared on the forehead, chest, neck, hands, and feet of the
bridal pair, following which the two mutually daubed each other's
foreheads. The principal business connected with marriage had previously
been arranged--that of settling how much the prospective bridegroom was to
pay to the bride's parents. With most tribes visited I found the
adjustment of the financial matter conclusive in itself without further

The officiating blian took hold of a hand of each, pulled them from their
seats, and whisked them off as if to say: "Now you can go--you are
married!" Outside the full moon bathed the country in the effulgence of
its light, but being quite in zenith it looked rather small as it hung in
the tropical sky.

The moist heat in the latter part of September and first half of October
was more oppressive here than I experienced anywhere else in Borneo. When
for a few days there was no rain the temperature was uncomfortable, though
hardly rising above 90 F. As there was no wind Rajimin's skins would not
dry and many spoiled. Flies, gnats, and other pests were troublesome and
made it difficult even to take a bath. Itching was produced on the lower
part of the legs, which if scratched would become sores that usually took
weeks to heal, and though the application of iodine was of some avail, the
wounds would often suppurate, and I have myself at times had fever as a
result. The best remedy for these and like injuries on the legs is a
compress, or wet bandage, covered with oiled silk, which is a real
blessing in the tropics and the material for which any traveller is well
advised in adding to his outfit.

Rain with the resultant cooling of the atmosphere seldom waited long,
however, and when the river rose to within a metre of my tent, which I had
pitched on the edge of the river bank, I had to abandon it temporarily for
the house in which Mr. Demmini and Mr. Loing resided, a little back of the
rest of the houses. Besides a kitchen, it contained a large room and a
small one, which I appropriated. This house, which was five generations
old and belonged to the brother of the kapala, had in its centre an
upright pillar carved at the top which passed through the floor without
reaching the roof. The house, as is the universal custom in Borneo, stands
on piles, and in erecting it a slave who, according to ancient custom, was
sacrificed, in that way to insure good luck, had been buried alive
underneath the central post, which was more substantial than the others.

During rain it is conducive to a sense of comfort and security to be
safely roofed and sheltered in a house, but usually I preferred my tent,
and occupied it unless the river was too threatening. From the trees in
its close proximity a species of small frog gave concerts every evening,
and also occasionally favoured me with a visit. One morning they had left
in my quarters a cluster of eggs as large as a fist, of a grey frothy
matter, which the ants soon attacked and which later was eaten by the

The fowls, coarse, powerful specimens of the poultry tribe, were a source
of great annoyance on account of their number and audacity. As usual among
the Malays, from whom the Dayaks originally acquired these domestic birds,
interest centres in the males on account of the prevalent cock-fights, and
the hens are in a very decided minority. For the night the feathered tribe
settles on top of the houses or in the surrounding trees. Hens with small
chickens are gathered together in the evening by the clever hands of the
Dayak women, hen and brood being put into an incredibly small wicker bag,
which is hung up on the gallery for the night. Otherwise carnivorous
animals, prowling about, would make short work of them.

At dawn, having duly saluted the coming day, the numerous cocks descend
from their high roosts and immediately begin their favourite sport of
chasing the few females about. The crowing of these poorly bred but very
powerful males creates pandemonium for a couple of hours, and it is like
living in a poultry yard with nearly fifty brutal cocks crowing around
one. During the remainder of the day sudden raids upon kitchen or tent by
one or more of these cocks are of frequent occurrence, usually overturning
or otherwise damaging something. Although repeatedly and easily frightened
away, they return as soon as they see that the coast is clear again. This
is the one nuisance to be encountered in all the kampongs, though rarely
to the same extent as here.



A Murung one day brought and exhibited to us that extraordinary animal,
the scaly ant-eater (_manis_), which is provided with a long pipe-like
snout, and is devoid of teeth because its only food, the ant, is gathered
by means of its long tongue. The big scales that cover the whole body form
its sole defence, and when it rolls itself up the dogs can do it no harm.
Unable to run, it cannot even walk fast, and the long tail is held
straight out without touching the ground. Its appearance directs one's
thoughts back to the monsters of prehistoric times, and the fat meat is
highly esteemed by the Dayaks. The animal, which is possessed of
incredible strength in proportion to its size, was put in a box from which
it escaped in the night through the carelessness of Rajimin.

A large live porcupine was also brought for sale by a Dayak woman who had
raised it. The creature was confined in a kind of bag, and by means of its
strength it managed to escape from between the hands of the owner.
Although she and several Dayaks immediately started in pursuit, it
succeeded in eluding them. However, the woman believed implicitly that it
would return, and a couple of days later it did reappear, passing my tent
at dusk. Every evening afterward about eight o'clock it was a regular
visitor, taking food out of my hand and then continuing its trip to the
kitchen, which was less than a hundred metres farther up the river bank.
Finally it became a nuisance, turning over saucepans to look for food and
otherwise annoying us, so I bought it for one ringit in order to have it
skinned. The difficulty was to catch it, because its quills are long and
sharp; but next evening the Murungs brought it to me enmeshed in a strong
net, and how to kill it was the next question.

The Dayaks at once proposed to shoot it with the sumpitan--a very good
scheme, though I fancied that darkness might interfere. However, in the
light of my hurricane lamp one man squatted on the ground and held the
animal, placing it in a half upright position before him. The executioner
stepped back about six metres, a distance that I thought unnecessary,
considering that if the poisoned dart hit the hand of the man it would be
a most serious affair. He put the blow-pipe to his mouth and after a few
moments the deadly dart entered the porcupine at one side of the neck. The
animal, which almost at once began to quiver, was freed from the
entangling net, then suddenly started to run round in a small circle, fell
on his back, and was dead in less than a minute after being hit.

It was a wonderful exhibition of the efficiency of the sumpitan and of the
accuracy of aim of the man who used the long heavy tube. The pipe, two
metres long, is held by the native with his hands close to the mouth,
quite contrary to the method we should naturally adopt. The man who coolly
held the porcupine might not have been killed if wounded, because the
quantity of poison used is less in the case of small game than large. The
poison is prepared from the sap of the upas tree, _antiaris toxicaria_,
which is heated until it becomes a dark paste. It is a fortunate fact that
these extremely efficient weapons, which noiselessly bring down birds and
monkeys from great heights, are not widely distributed over the globe. If
one is hit by the dart which is used when destined for man or big game,
and which has a triangular point, it is said that no remedy will avail.

Rajimin, the taxidermist, had frequent attacks of malaria with high fever,
but fortunately he usually recovered rapidly. One day I found him skinning
birds with his pulse registering one hundred and twenty-five beats a
minute. I engaged a Murung to assist in making my zoological collections,
and he learned to skin well and carefully, though slowly. Judging from the
number of long-nosed monkeys brought in, they must be numerous here. These
animals are at times met in droves of a hundred or more passing from
branch to branch through the woods. When old they cannot climb. One
morning this Dayak returned with three wah-wahs, and related that after
the mother had been shot and had fallen from the tree, the father seized
the young one and tried to escape, but they were both killed by the same

On account of adverse weather conditions most of the skins here spoiled,
in some degree at least, in spite of all efforts, especially the fleshy
noses of the long-nosed monkeys. A special brand of taxidermist's soap
from London, which contained several substitutes for arsenic and claimed
to be equally efficient, may have been at fault in part, though not
entirely, the main cause being the moist heat and the almost entire lack
of motility in the air. So little accustomed to wind do the natives here
appear to be that a small boy one day jubilantly drew attention to some
ripples in the middle of the river caused by an air current.

My Malay cook was taken ill, so I had to do most of the cooking myself,
which is not particularly pleasant when one's time is valuable; and when
he got well his lack of experience rendered it necessary for me to oversee
his culinary operations. One day after returning to my tent from such
supervision I had a curious adventure with a snake. It was a warm day
about half past one. All was quiet and not a blade stirred. I paused near
the tent opening, with my face toward the opposite side of the river,
which could be seen through an opening among the trees. Standing
motionless on the bank, which from there sloped gradually down toward the
river, more than a minute had elapsed when my attention was distracted by
a slight noise behind me. Looking to the right and backward my surprise
was great to perceive the tail-end of a black snake rapidly proceeding
toward the left. Hastily turning my eyes in that direction I beheld the
well-shaped, powerful, though somewhat slender, forward part of the
serpent, which, holding its head high, almost to the height of my knee,


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