Through Central Borneo:
Carl Lumholtz

Part 4 out of 8

opportunity of meeting them on more familiar terms. For more than a
generation a small number has been settled at Serrata, six hours walking
distance from Long Kai. The other nomads, called Bukats, from the
mountains around the headwaters of the Mahakam, have lately established
themselves on the river a short distance above its junction with the
Kasao; a few also live in the Penihing kampong Nuncilao. These recent
converts from nomadic life still raise little paddi, depending mostly upon
sago. Through the good offices of the Long Kai kapala people of both
tribes were sent for and promptly answered the call. The Punan visitors
had a kapala who also was a blian, and they had a female blian too, as had
the Bukats.

The Punans are simple-minded, shy, and retiring people, and the other
nomads even more so. The first-named are more attractive on account of
their superior physique, their candid manners, and somewhat higher
intellect. The natural food of both peoples is serpents, lizards, and all
kinds of animals and birds, the crocodile and omen birds excepted. With
the Bukats, rusa must not be eaten unless one has a child, but with the
Punans it is permissible in any case. The meat of pig is often eaten when
ten days old, and is preferred to that which is fresh. In this they share
the taste of the Dayak tribes I have met, with the exception of the
Long-Glats. I have known the odour from putrefying pork to be quite
overpowering in a kampong, and still this meat is eaten without any ill
effect. Salt is not used unless introduced by Malay traders. And evidently
it was formerly not known to the Dayaks.

None of these jungle people steal and they do not lie, although children
may do either. They were much afraid of being photographed and most of the
Bukats declined. A Bukat woman had tears in her eyes as she stepped
forward to be measured, but smiled happily when receiving her rewards of
salt, tobacco, and a red handkerchief. It had been worth while to submit
to the strange ways of the foreigner.

Both tribes are strictly monogamous and distinguished by the severe view
they take of adultery, which, however, seldom occurs. While it is regarded
as absolutely no detriment to a young girl to sleep with a young man,
matrimonial unfaithfulness is relentlessly punished. Payment of damages is
impossible. The injured Punan husband cuts the head from both wife and
corespondent and retires to solitude, remaining away for a long time, up
to two years. If the husband fails to punish, then the woman's brother
must perform the duty of executioner. The Bukats are even more severe. The
husband of an erring wife must kill her by cutting off her head, and it is
incumbent on her brother to take the head of the husband. At present the
Punans and Bukats are relinquishing these customs through fear of the

The Bukats told me that they originally came from the river Blatei in
Sarawak, and that Iban raids had had much to do with their movements.
According to their reports the tribe had recently, at the invitation of
the government, left the mountains and formed several kampongs in the
western division. One of them, with short stubby fingers, had a broad
Mongolian face and prominent cheek-bones, but not Mongolian eyes,
reminding me somewhat of a Laplander.

The Punans and the Bukats have not yet learned to make prahus, but they
are experts in the manufacture of sumpitans. They are also clever at
mat-making, the men bringing the rattan and the women making the mats.
Cutting of the teeth is optional. The gall of the bear is used as medicine
internally and externally. In case of fractured bones a crude bandage is
made from bamboo sticks with leaves from a certain tree. For curing
disease the Punans use strokes of the hand. Neither of these nomadic
tribes allow a man present when a woman bears a child. After child-birth
women abstain from work four days. When anybody dies the people flee,
leaving the corpse to its fate.

Having accomplished as much as circumstances permitted, in the latter part
of May we changed our encampment to Long Tjehan, the principal kampong of
the Penihings, a little further down the river. On a favourable current
the transfer was quickly accomplished. We were received by friendly
natives, who came voluntarily to assist in putting up my tent, laying
poles on the moist ground, on which the boxes were placed inside. They
also made a palisade around it as they had seen it done in Long Kai, for
the Dayaks are very adaptable people. Several men here had been to New
Guinea and they expressed no desire to return, because there had been much
work, and much beri-beri from which some of their comrades had died. One
of them had assisted in bringing Doctor Lorenz back after his unfortunate
fall down the ravine on Wilhelmina Top.



It is significant as to the relations of the tribes that not only Bukats
and Punans, but also the Saputans, are invited to take part in a great
triennial Bahau festival when given at Long Tjehan. Shortly after our
arrival we were advised that this great feast, which here is called tasa
and which lasts ten days, was to come off immediately at an Oma-Suling
kampong, Long Pahangei, further down the river.

Though a journey there might be accomplished in one day, down with the
current, three or four times as long would be required for the return.
However, as another chance to see such a festival probably would not
occur, I decided to go, leaving the sergeant, the soldier collector, and
another soldier behind, and two days later we were preparing for departure
in three prahus.

What with making light shelters against sun and rain, in Malay called
atap, usually erected for long journeys, the placing of split bamboo
sticks in the bottom of my prahu, and with the Penihings evidently
unaccustomed to such work, it was eight o'clock before the start was made.
Pani, a small tributary forming the boundary between the Penihings and the
Kayans, was soon left behind and two hours later we passed Long Blu, the
great Kayan kampong. The weather was superb and the current carried us
swiftly along. The great Mahakam River presented several fine, extensive
views, with hills on either side, thick white clouds moving slowly over
the blue sky. As soon as we entered the country of the Oma-Suling it was
pleasant to observe that the humble cottages of the ladangs had finely
carved wooden ornaments standing out from each gable.

We arrived at Long Pahangei (_h_ pronounced as Spanish jota) early in the
afternoon. Gongs were sounding, but very few people were there, and no
visitors at all, although this was the first day of the feast. This is a
large kampong lying at the mouth of a tributary of the same name, and is
the residence of a native district kapala. After I had searched everywhere
for a quiet spot he showed me a location in a clump of jungle along the
river bank which, when cleared, made a suitable place for my tent. Our
Penihings were all eager to help, some clearing the jungle, others
bringing up the goods as well as cutting poles and bamboo sticks.
Evidently they enjoyed the work, pitching into it with much gusto and
interest. The result was a nice though limited camping place on a narrow
ridge, and I gave each man one stick of tobacco as extra payment.

During our stay here much rain fell in steady downpours lasting a night or
half a day. As the same condition existed higher up the river, at times
the water rose menacingly near my tent, and for one night I had to move
away. But rain in these tropics is never merciless, it seems to me. Back
from the coast there is seldom any wind, and in the knowledge that at any
time the clouds may give place to brilliant sunshine, it is not at all
depressing. Of course it is better to avoid getting wet through, but when
this occurs little concern is felt, because one's clothing dries so

The Oma-Sulings are pleasant to deal with, being bashful and unspoiled.
The usual repulsive skin diseases are seldom seen, and the women are
attractive. There appears to have been, and still is, much intercourse
between the Oma-Sulings and their equally pleasant neighbours to the east,
the Long-Glats. Many of the latter came to the feast and there is much
intermarrying among the nobles of the two tribes. Lidju, my assistant and
friend here, was a noble of the Long-Glats with the title of raja and
married a sister of the great chief of the Oma-Sulings. She was the
principal of the numerous female blians of the kampong, slender of figure,
active both in her profession and in domestic affairs, and always very
courteous. They had no children. Although he did not speak Malay very
well, still, owing to his earnestness of purpose, Lidju was of
considerable assistance to me.

The kampong consists of several long houses of the usual Dayak style,
lying in a row and following the river course, but here they were
separated into two groups with a brook winding its way to the river
between them. Very large drums, nearly four metres long, hung on the wall
of the galleries, six in one house, with the head somewhat higher than the
other end. This instrument, slightly conical in shape, is formed from a
log of fine-grained wood, light in colour, with a cover made from wild ox
hide. An especially constructed iron tool driven by blows from a small
club is used to hollow out the log, and the drum is usually completed in a
single night, many men taking turns. In one part of the house lying
furthest west lived Dayaks called Oma-Palo, who were reported to have been
in this tribe a hundred years. They occupied "eight doors," while further
on, in quarters comprising "five doors," dwelt Oma-Tepe, more recent
arrivals; and both clans have married Oma-Suling women.

The purpose of the great feast that filled everybody's thoughts is to
obtain many children, a plentiful harvest, good health, many pigs, and
much fruit. A prominent Dayak said to me: "If we did not have this feast
there would not be many children; the paddi would not ripen well, or would
fail; wild beasts would eat the fowls, and there would be no bananas or
other fruits." The first four days are chiefly taken up with preparations,
the festival occurring on the fifth and sixth days. A place of worship
adjoining the front of the easternmost house was being constructed, with a
floor high above ground on a level with the gallery, with which it was
connected by a couple of planks for a bridge. Although flimsily built, the
structure was abundantly strong to support the combined weight of the
eight female blians who at times performed therein. The hut, which was
profusely decorated with long, hanging wood shavings, is called dangei and
is an important adjunct of the feast, to which the same name is sometimes
given. Ordinary people are not allowed to enter, though they may ascend
the ladder, giving access to the gallery, in close proximity to the

Prior to the fifth day a progressive scale is observed in regard to food
regulations, and after the sixth, when the festive high mark is reached,
there is a corresponding decrease to normal. Only a little boiled rice is
eaten the first day, but on the second, third, and fourth, rations are
gradually increased by limited additions of toasted rice. The fifth and
sixth days give occasion for indulgence in much rice and pork, the
quantity being reduced on the seventh, when the remaining pork is
finished. On the eighth and ninth days the regulations permit only boiled
and toasted rice. Not much food remains on the tenth, when the menu
reverts to boiled rice exclusively. Some kinds of fish may be eaten during
the ten-day period, while others are prohibited.

It was interesting to observe what an important part the female blians or
priest-doctors played at the festival. They were much in evidence and
managed the ceremonies. The men of the profession kept in the background
and hardly one was seen. During the feast they abstain from bathing for
eight days, do not eat the meat of wild babi, nor salt; and continence is
the rule. Every day of the festival, morning, afternoon, and evening, a
service is performed for imparting health and strength, called melah, of
which the children appear to be the chief beneficiaries. Mothers bring
babes in cradles on their backs, as well as their larger children. The
blian, who must be female, seizing the mother's right hand with her left,
repeatedly passes the blade of a big knife up her arm. The child in the
cradle also stretches out its right arm to receive treatment, while other
children and women place their right hands on the hand and arm of the
first woman, five to ten individuals thus simultaneously receiving the
passes which the blian dispenses from left to right. She accompanies the
ceremony with murmured expressions suggesting removal from the body of all
that is evil, with exhortations to improvement, etc.

This service concluded, a man standing in the background holding a shield
with the inside uppermost, advances to the side of the mother and places
it horizontally under the cradle, where it is rapidly moved forward and
backward. Some of the men also presented themselves for treatment after
the manner above described, and although the melah performance is usually
reserved for this great feast, it may be employed by the blian for nightly
service in curing disease.

This was followed by a dance of the blians present, nine or ten in number,
to the accompaniment of four gongs and one drum. They moved in single
file, most of them making two steps and a slight turn to left, two steps
and a slight turn to right, while others moved straight on. In this way
they described a drawn-out circle, approaching an ellipse, sixteen times.
After the dancing those who took part in the ceremonies ate toasted rice.
Each day of the feast in the afternoon food was given to antoh by blians
and girl pupils. Boiled rice, a small quantity of salt, some dried fish,
and boiled fowl were wrapped in pieces of banana leaves, and two such
small parcels were offered on each occasion.

Meantime the festive preparations continued. Many loads of bamboo were
brought in, because much rice and much pork was to be cooked in these
handy utensils provided by nature. Visitors were slowly but steadily
arriving. On the fourth day came the principal man, the Raja Besar (great
chief), who resides a little further up the river, accompanied by his
family. The son of a Long-Glat father and an Oma-Suling mother, Ledjuli
claimed to be raja not only of these tribes, but also of the Kayans. Next
morning Raja Besar and his stately wife, of Oma-Suling nobility,
accompanied by the kapala of the kampong and others, paid me a visit,
presenting me with a long sugarcane, a somewhat rare product in these
parts and considered a great delicacy, one large papaya, white onions, and
bananas. In return I gave one cake of chocolate, two French tins of meat,
one tin of boiled ham, and tobacco.

Domestic pigs, of which the kampong possessed over a hundred, at last
began to come in from the outlying ladangs. One by one they were carried
alive on the backs of men. The feet having first been tied together, the
animal was enclosed in a coarse network of rattan or fibre. For the
smaller specimens tiny, close-fitting bamboo boxes had been made, pointed
at one end to accommodate the snout. The live bundles were deposited on
the galleries, and on the fifth day they were lying in rows and heaps,
sixty-six in number, awaiting their ultimate destiny. The festival was now
about to begin in earnest and an air of expectancy was evident in the
faces of the natives. After the performance of the melah and the dance of
the blians, and these were a daily feature of the great occasion, a dance
hitherto in vogue at night was danced in the afternoon. In this the
people, in single file, moved very slowly with rhythmic steps, describing
a circle around three blians, including the principal one, who sat smoking
in the centre, with some bamboo baskets near by. Next morning the circular
dance was repeated, with the difference that the participants were holding
on to a rope.

About four o'clock in the afternoon the Dayaks began to kill the pigs by
cutting the artery of the neck. The animals, which were in surprisingly
good condition, made little outcry. The livers were examined, and if found
to be of bad omen were thrown away, but the pig itself is eaten in such
cases, though a full-grown fowl or a tiny chicken only a few days old must
be sacrificed in addition. The carcasses were freed from hair by fire in
the usual way and afterward cleaned with the knife. The skin is eaten with
the meat, which at night was cooked in bamboo. Outside, in front of the
houses, rice cooking had been going on all day. In one row there were
perhaps fifty bamboos, each stuffed with envelopes of banana leaves
containing rice, the parcels being some thirty centimetres long and three

During the night there was a grand banquet in all the houses. Lidju, my
assistant, did not forget, on this day of plenty, to send my party
generous gifts of fresh pork. To me he presented a fine small ham. As salt
had been left behind we had to boil the meat a la Dayak in bamboo with
very little water, which compensates for the absence of seasoning. A
couple of men brought us two bamboos containing that gelatinous delicacy
into which rice is transformed when cooked in this way. And, as if this
were not enough, early next morning a procession arrived carrying food on
two shields, the inside being turned upward. On these were parcels wrapped
in banana leaves containing boiled rice, to which were tied large pieces
of cooked pork. The first man to appear stepped up to a banana growing
near, broke off a leaf which he put on the ground in front of me, and
placed on it two bundles. The men were unable to speak Malay and
immediately went away without making even a suggestion that they expected
remuneration, as did the two who had given us rice. I had never seen them

The sixth day was one of general rejoicing. Food was exchanged between the
two groups of houses and people were in a very joyful mood, eating pork,
running about, and playing tricks on each other. Both men and women
carried charcoal mixed with the fat of pork, with which they tried to
smear the face and upper body of all whom they met. All were privileged to
engage in this sport but the women were especially active, pursuing the
men, who tried to avoid them, some taking refuge behind my tent. The women
followed one man through the enclosure surrounding the tent, at my
invitation, but they did not succeed in catching him. This practical
joking was continued on the following days except the last.

The Oma-Palo had their own festival, which lasted only one day. It began
in the afternoon of the sixth day and I went over to see it. The livers of
the pigs were not in favourable condition, which caused much delay in the
proceedings, and it was nearly five o'clock when they finally began to
make a primitive dangei hut, all the material for which had been gathered.
A few slim upright poles with human faces carved at the upper ends were
placed so as to form the outline of a quadrangle. On the ground between
them planks were laid, and on the two long sides of this space were raised
bamboo stalks with leaves on, which leaned together and formed an airy
cover. It was profusely adorned with wood shavings hung by the ends in
long spirals, the whole arrangement forming a much simpler house of
worship than the one described above. The kapala having sacrificed a tiny
chicken, a man performed a war dance on the planks in superb fashion, and
after that two female blians danced. Next morning I returned and asked
permission to photograph the dancing. The kapala replied that if a
photograph were made while they were working--that is to say,
dancing--they would have to do all their work over again, otherwise some
misfortune would come upon them, such as the falling of one of the bamboo
stalks, which might kill somebody. Later, while they were eating, for
example, there would be no objection to the accomplishment of my desire.

With the eighth day an increased degree of ceremonials became noticeable,
and in order to keep pace therewith I was driven to continuous activity.
On a muggy, warm morning I began work by photographing the Raja Besar, who
had given me permission to take himself and his family. When I arrived at
the house where he was staying he quickly made his preparations to "look
pleasant," removing the large rings he wore in the extended lobes of his
ears and substituting a set of smaller ones, eight for each ear. He was
also very particular in putting on correct apparel, whether to appear in
warrior costume or as a private gentleman of the highest caste. His sword
and the rest of his outfit, as might be expected, were of magnificent
finish, the best of which Dayak handicraft is capable. He made altogether
a splendid subject for the camera, but his family proved less
satisfactory. I had to wait an hour and a half before his womenfolk were
ready, femininity apparently being alike in this regard in all races. When
they finally emerged from the house in great array (which showed Malay
influence) they were a distinct disappointment.

The raja, who was extremely obliging, ordered the principal men of the
kampong to appear in complete war outfit, and showed us how an imaginary
attack of Iban head-hunters would be met. They came streaming one after
another down the ladder, made the evolutions of a running attack in close
formation, holding their large shields in front of them, then ran to the
water and paddled away, standing in their prahus, to meet the supposed
enemy in the utan on the other side of the river.

At noon the female blians were preparing for an important ceremony in the
dangei hut, with a dance round it on the ground later, and I therefore
went up to the gallery. The eight performers held each other by the hands
in a circle so large that it filled the hut. Constantly waving their arms
backward and forward they moved round and round. Some relics from Apo
Kayan were then brought in: a small, shining gong without a knob and a
very large bracelet which looked as if it had been made of bamboo and was
about eight centimetres in diameter. One of the blians placed the bracelet
round her folded hands and then ran round the circle as well as through
it; I believe this was repeated sixteen times. When she had finished
running they all walked in single file over into the gallery in order to
perform the inevitable melah.

Shortly afterward followed a unique performance of throwing rice, small
bundles of which, wrapped in banana leaves, were lying in readiness on the
floor. Some of the men caught them with such violence that the rice was
spilled all about, and then they flipped the banana leaves at those who
stood near. Some of the women had crawled up under the roof in
anticipation of what was coming. After a few minutes passed thus, the
eight blians seated themselves in the dangei hut and prepared food for
antoh in the way described above, but on this occasion one of them pounded
paddi with two short bamboo sticks, singing all the while.

A very amusing entertainment then began, consisting of wrestling by the
young men, who were encouraged by the blians to take it up and entered the
game with much enthusiasm, one or two pairs constantly dancing round and
round until one became the victor. The participants of their own accord
had divested themselves of their holiday chavats and put on small ones for
wrestling. With the left hand the antagonist takes hold of the descending
portion of the chavat in the back, while with the right he grasps the
encircling chavat in front. They wrestled with much earnestness but no
anger. When the game was continued the following morning the young men
presented a sorry spectacle. Rain had fallen during the night, and the
vanquished generally landed heavily on their backs in the mud-holes, the
wrestlers joining in the general laugh at their expense. To encourage them
I had promised every victor twenty cents, which added much to the

Having concluded their task of feeding the antohs the blians climbed down
the ladder and began a march in single file round the dangei hut, each
carrying one of the implements of daily life: a spear, a small parang, an
axe, an empty rattan bag in which the bamboos are enclosed when the woman
fetches water, or in which vegetables, etc., are conveyed, and another bag
of the same material suitable for transporting babi. Four of the women
carried the small knife which is woman's special instrument, though also
employed by the men. When the eight blians on this, the eighth day, had
marched sixteen times around the dangei they ascended the ladder again.
Shortly afterward a man standing on the gallery pushed over the flimsy
place of worship--a signal that the end of the feast had come. On the
previous day a few visitors had departed and others left daily.

The feast had brought together from other parts about 200 Oma-Sulings and
Long-Glats. The women of both tribes showed strikingly fine manners,
especially those belonging to the higher class, which was well
represented. Some were expensively dressed, though in genuine barbaric
fashion as indicated by the ornaments sewn upon their skirts, which
consisted of hundreds of florins and ringits. It should be conceded,
however, that with the innate artistic sense of the Dayaks, the coins, all
scrupulously clean, had been employed to best advantage in pretty designs,
and the damsels were strong enough to carry the extra burden.

The climax had been passed and little more was going on, the ninth day
being given over to the amusement of daubing each other with black paste.
On the tenth day they all went away to a small river in the neighbourhood,
where they took their meals, cooking paddi in bamboo, also fish in the
same manner. This proceeding is called nasam, and the pemali (tabu) is now
all over. During the days immediately following the people may go to the
ladang, but are obliged to sleep in the kampong, and they must not
undertake long journeys. When the feast ended the blians placed four eggs
in the clefts of four upright bamboo sticks as sacrifice to antoh. Such
eggs are gathered from hens that are sitting, and those which have become
stale in unoccupied nests are also used. If there are not enough such
eggs, fresh ones are taken.



Every night while we were camped here, and frequently in the day, as if
controlled by magic, the numerous dogs belonging to the Dayaks suddenly
began to howl in chorus. It is more ludicrous than disagreeable and is a
phenomenon common to all kampongs, though I never before had experienced
these manifestations in such regularity and perfection of concerted
action. One or two howls are heard and immediately all canines of the
kampong and neighbouring ladangs join, perhaps more than a hundred in one
chorus. At a distance the noise resembles the acclamations of a vast crowd
of people. The Penihings and Oma-Sulings treat man's faithful companion
well, the former even with affection; and the dogs, which are of the usual
type, yellowish in colour, with pointed muzzle, erect ears, and upstanding
tail, are in fine condition. A trait peculiar to the Dayak variety is that
he never barks at strangers, permitting them to walk on the galleries or
even in the rooms without interference. Groups of these intelligent
animals are always to be seen before the house and on the gallery, often
in terrific fights among themselves, but never offensive to strangers.

They certainly serve the Dayaks well by holding the pig or other animal at
bay until the men can come up and kill it with spear. Some of them are
afraid of bear, others attack them. They are very eager to board the
prahus when their owners depart to the ladangs, thinking that it means a
chase of the wild pig. Equally eager are they to get into the room at
night, or at any time when the owner has left them outside. Doors are
cleverly opened by them, but when securely locked the dogs sometimes, in
their impatience, gnaw holes in the lower part of the door which look like
the work of rodents, though none that I saw was large enough to admit a
canine of their size. One day a big live pig was brought in from the utan
over the shoulder of a strong man, its legs tied together, and as a
compliment to me the brute was tethered to a pole by one leg, while the
dogs, about fifty, barked at and harassed it. This, I was told, is the way
they formerly were trained. As in a bull-fight, so here my sympathy was
naturally with the animal, which managed to bite a dog severely in the
side and shook another vigorously by the tail. Finally some young boys
gave it a merciful death with spears.

A woman blian died after an illness of five days, and the next forenoon a
coffin was made from an old prahu. She had not been ill long, so the
preparations for the funeral were brief. Early in the afternoon wailing
was heard from the gallery, and a few minutes later the cortege emerged on
its way to the river bank, taking a short cut over the slope between the
trees, walking fast because they feared that if they lingered other people
might become ill. There were only seven or eight members of the
procession; most of whom acted as pall-bearers, and all were poor people.
They deposited their burden on the bank, kneeling around it for a few
minutes and crying mournfully. A hen had been killed at the house, but no
food was offered to antoh at the place of embarkation, as had been
expected by some of their neighbours.

Covered with a large white cloth, the coffin was hurriedly taken down from
the embankment and placed in a prahu, which they immediately proceeded to
paddle down-stream where the burial was to take place in the utan some
distance away. The reddish-brown waters of the Mahakam, nearly always at
flood, flowed swiftly between the walls of dark jungle on either side and
shone in the early afternoon sun, under a pale-blue sky, with beautiful,
small, distant white clouds. Three mourners remained behind, one man
standing, gazing after the craft. Then, as the prahu, now very small to
the eye, approached the distant bend of the river, in a few seconds to
disappear from sight, the man who had been standing in deep reflection
went down to the water followed by the two women, each of whom slipped off
her only garment in their usual dexterous way, and all proceeded to bathe,
thus washing away all odours or other effects of contact with the corpse,
which might render them liable to attack from the antoh that had killed
the woman blian.

In the first week of June we began our return journey against the current,
arriving in the afternoon at Data Lingei, an Oma-Suling kampong said to be
inhabited also by Long-Glats and three other tribes. We were very welcome
here. Although I told them I did not need a bamboo palisade round my tent
for one night, these hospitable people, after putting up my tent, placed
round it a fence of planks which chanced to be at hand. At dusk everything
was in order and I took a walk through the kampong followed by a large
crowd which had been present all the time.

Having told them to bring all the articles they wanted to sell, I quickly
bought some good masks and a number of tail feathers from the rhinoceros
hornbill, which are regarded as very valuable, being worn by the warriors
in their rattan caps. All were "in the market," prices were not at all
exorbitant, and business progressed very briskly until nine o'clock, when
I had made valuable additions, especially of masks, to my collections. The
evening passed pleasantly and profitably to all concerned. I acquired a
shield which, besides the conventionalised representation of a dog,
exhibited a wild-looking picture of an antoh, a very common feature on
Dayak shields. The first idea it suggests to civilised man is that its
purpose is to terrify the enemy, but my informant laughed at this
suggestion. It represents a good antoh who keeps the owner of the shield
in vigorous health.

The kapala's house had at once attracted attention on account of the
unusually beautiful carvings that extended from each gable, and which on a
later occasion I photographed. These were long boards carved in artistic
semblance of the powerful antoh called nagah, a benevolent spirit, but
also a vindictive one. The two carvings together portrayed the same
monster, the one showing its head and body, the other its tail. Before
being placed on the gables a sacrifice had been offered and the carvings
had been smeared with blood--in other words, to express the thought of the
Dayak, as this antoh is very fierce when aroused to ire, it had first been
given blood to eat, in order that it should not be angry with the owner of
the house, but disposed to protect him from his enemies. While malevolent
spirits do not associate with good ones, some which usually are beneficent
at times may do harm, and among these is one, the nagah, that dominates
the imagination of many Dayak tribes. It appears to be about the size of a
rusa, and in form is a combination of the body of that animal and a
serpent, the horned head having a disproportionately large dog's mouth.
Being an antoh, and the greatest of all, it is invisible under ordinary
conditions, but lives in rivers and underground caves, and it eats human

Lidju, who accompanied me as interpreter and to be generally useful, had
aroused the men early in the morning to cook their rice, so that we could
start at seven o'clock, arriving in good time at the Kayan kampong, Long
Blu. Here, on the north side of the river, was formerly a small military
establishment, inhabited at present by a few Malay families, the only ones
on the Mahakam River above the great kihams. Accompanied by Lidju I
crossed the river to see the great kampong of the Kayans.

Ascending the tall ladder which leads up to the kampong, we passed through
long, deserted-looking galleries, and from one a woman hurriedly retired
into a room. The inhabitants were at their ladangs, most of them four
hours' travel from here. Arriving finally at the house of Kwing Iran, I
was met by a handful of people gathered in its cheerless, half-dark
gallery. On our return to a newly erected section of the kampong we met
the intelligent kapala and a few men. Some large prahus were lying on land
outside the house, bound for Long Iram, where the Kayans exchange rattan
and rubber for salt and other commodities, but the start had been delayed
because the moon, which was in its second quarter, was not favourable.
These natives are reputed to have much wang, owing to the fact that
formerly they supplied rice to the garrison, receiving one ringit for each

Though next day was rainy and the river high, making paddling hard work,
we arrived in good time at Long Tjehan and found ourselves again among the
Penihings. During the month I still remained here I made valuable
ethnological collections and also acquired needed information concerning
the meaning and use of the different objects, which is equally important.
The chief difficulty was to find an interpreter, but an intelligent and
efficient Penihing offered his services. He "had been to Soerabaia," which
means that he had been at hard labour, convicted of head-hunting, and
during his term had acquired a sufficient knowledge of Malay to be able to
serve me. My Penihing collections I believe are complete. Of curious
interest are the many games for children, among them several varieties of
what might be termed toy guns and different kinds of puzzles, some of wood
while others are plaited from leaves or made of thread.

The kampong lies at the junction of the Mahakam and a small river called
Tjehan, which, like several other affluents from the south, originates in
the dividing range. The Tjehan contains two or three kihams but is easy to
ascend, and at its head-waters the range presents no difficulties in
crossing. This is not the case at the sources of the Blu, where the
watershed is high and difficult to pass. Small parties of Malays
occasionally cross over to the Mahakam at these points as well as at
Pahangei. In the country surrounding the kampong are several limestone
hills, the largest of which, Lung Karang, rises in the immediate vicinity.

Doctor Nieuwenhuis on his journey ascended some distance up the Tjehan
tributary, and in the neighbourhood of Lung Karang his native collector
found an orchid which was named _phalaenopsis gigantea_, and is known only
from the single specimen in the botanical garden at Buitenzorg, Java. On a
visit there my attention was drawn to the unusual size of its leaves and
its white flowers. I then had an interview with the Javanese who found it,
and decided that when I came to the locality I would try to secure some
specimens of this unique plant. Having now arrived in the region, I
decided to devote a few days to looking for the orchid and at the same
time investigate a great Penihing burial cave which was found by my

Accompanied by two of our soldiers and with five Dayak paddlers, I
ascended the Tjehan as far as the first kiham, in the neighbourhood of
which I presumed that the burial cave would be and where, therefore,
according; to the description given to me, the orchid should be found.
There was no doubt that we were near a locality much dreaded by the
natives; even before I gave a signal to land, one of the Penihings,
recently a head-hunter, became hysterically uneasy. He was afraid of orang
mati (dead men), he said, and if we were going to sleep near them he and
his companions would be gone. The others were less perturbed, and when
assured that I did not want anybody to help me look for the dead but for a
rare plant, the agitated man, who was the leader, also became calm.

We landed, but the soldier who usually waited upon me could not be
persuaded to accompany me. All the Javanese, Malays, and Chinamen are
afraid of the dead, he said, and declined to go. Alone I climbed the steep
mountain-side; the ascent was not much over a hundred metres, but I had to
make my way between big blocks of hard limestone, vegetation being less
dense than usual. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when, from
the top of a crest which I had reached, I suddenly discovered at no great
distance, perhaps eighty metres in front of me, a large cave at the foot
of a limestone hill. With the naked eye it was easy to distinguish a
multitude of rough boxes piled in three tiers, and on top of all a great
variety of implements and clothing which had been deposited there for the
benefit of the dead. It made a strange impression in this apparently
abandoned country where the dead are left in solitude, feared and shunned
by their former associates.

No Penihing will go to the cave of the dead except to help carry a corpse,
because many antohs are there who make people ill. The extreme silence was
interrupted only once, by the defiant cry of an argus pheasant. As the
weather was cloudy I decided to return here soon, by myself, in order to
photograph and make closer inspection of the burial-place. I then
descended to the prahu, and desiring to make camp at a sufficient distance
to keep my men in a tranquil state of mind, we went about two kilometres
down the river and found a convenient camping-place in the jungle.

On two later occasions I visited the cave and its surroundings, becoming
thoroughly acquainted with the whole mountain. The Penihings have an easy
access to this primeval tomb, a little further below, by means of a path
leading from the river through a comparatively open forest. The corpse in
its box is kept two to seven days in the house at the kampong; the body of
a chief, which is honoured with a double box, remains ten days. According
to an otherwise trustworthy Penihing informant, funeral customs vary in
the different kampongs of the tribe, and generally the box is placed on a
crude platform a metre above the ground.

As for the orchid, I, as well as the Dayaks, who were shown an
illustration of it, searched in vain for three days. There is no doubt
that I was at the place which had been described to me, but the plant must
be extremely rare and probably was discovered accidentally "near the
water," as the native collector said, perhaps when he was resting.



On my return to camp a pleasant surprise awaited me in the arrival of
mail, the first in six months. The days that followed were laborious:
buying, arranging, and cataloguing collections. From early morning
Penihings came to my tent, desiring to sell something, and did not quit
until late at night. Some were content to stand quietly looking at the
stranger for ten or fifteen minutes, and then to go away, their places
being taken by others. But after all it was a happy time, much being
accomplished every day by adding to my collections and gaining much
interesting information.

Over my tent grew a couple of rambutan trees, and close by were two trees
bearing a still more delicate fruit called lansat (_lansium domesticum_).
It is mildly acid, like the best kind of orange, but with more flavour,
and In appearance resembles a small plum without a stone, and when ripe is
almost white in colour. Every morning, at my request, the chief climbed
one of these trees, on Which the fruit hung by the bushel, and sold me a
basketful for a trifle. The lansat is so easily digested that one can eat
it freely in the evening without inconvenience; in fact it is a decided
aid to digestion. According to the natives these trees are plentiful in
the utan, but in the kampong they, as well as the famous durian and the
rambutan, have been raised from seed. Borneo certainly possesses fine wild
fruits, but as the jungle is laborious to pass through it would be most
difficult to find the trees. I have hitherto directed attention to the
superior quality attained by the fruits of the island which are grown from
imported stock, as the pineapple, pomelo, etc.

The usual nuisance of crowing cocks is not to be avoided in a Dayak
kampong, though here they were few. I saw a hen running with a small
chicken in her beak, which she had killed in order to eat it--a common
occurrence according to the Penihings. The ludicrous self-sufficiency of
the Bornean male fowls, at times very amusing, compensates to some extent
for the noise they make, but they are as reckless as the knights-errant of
old. Outside my tent at dawn one morning I noticed one of them paying
devoted attention to a hen which was hovering her chickens. He stood
several seconds with his head bent down toward hers, then walked round
her, making demonstrations of interest, and again assumed his former
position, she meanwhile clucking protectingly to her brood. Finally, he
resolutely attacked her, whereupon she emitted a discordant shriek while
seven or eight tiny yellow chicks streamed forth from underneath her; in
response to her cry of distress another cock immediately appeared upon the
scene and valiantly chased the disturber away.

No less than nine prahus started out one day, bound for Long Iram to buy
salt and other goods, taking a small quantity of rattan. The following
day, late in the afternoon, the party returned, having passed the night a
short distance away. As they had approached Long Blu an omen bird,
evidently a small woodpecker, had flown across their path in front of the
first prahu, whereupon the whole flotilla at once retraced their course--a
tedious day's trip against the current. It makes no difference whether
this bird flies from left to right, or from right to left, or whether it
crosses in front or behind the boat. If the bird is heard from the
direction on the left of the party the augury is bad, whether he is seen
or not. If heard from the right side everything is well. After waiting
three days the party proceeded on their way.

There are seven omen birds, according to the Penihings, and they are
regarded as messengers sent by a good antoh to warn of danger. For the
same purpose he make a serpent pass in front of the prahu, or a rusa cry
in the middle of the day. At night this cry is immaterial. The most
inauspicious of all omens is the appearance of a centipede. If a man in a
ladang is confronted with such an animal he at once stops work there and
takes up a new field.

The tribal name of the Penihings is A-o-haeng. Until recently each kampong
had from two to five supi, chiefs or rajas, one being superior to the
others. The office was hereditary. There are still several rajas in one
kampong, for instance, three in Long Tjehan. The Penihings have a
practical turn of mind and though they usually tell the truth at times
they may steal. They are the best workers among the tribes on the Mahakam
River (above the great rapids) and on a journey they travel in their
prahus day and night, resting only a couple of hours in the early morning.
However, the custom of travelling at night may be due to fear of meeting
omen birds.

The hair of the Penihings and the Oma-Sulings, though it looks black, in
reality is brown with a slight reddish tint plainly visible when sunlight
falls through it. I believe the same is the case with other Dayak tribes.
In Long Tjehan I observed two natives who, though passing as Penihings,
were of decidedly different type, being much darker in colour and of
powerful build, one having curly hair while that of the other was straight.
Penihing women have unpleasantly shrill voices, a characteristic less
pronounced with the men. Members of this tribe are not so fine-looking as
those of other tribes on the Mahakam, with the exception of the Saputans.

When leaving the kampong on his daily trips to the ladang, or when he
travels, the Penihing carries his shield. Even when pig-hunting, if
intending to stay out overnight, he takes this armour, leaving it however
at his camping-place. A spear is also carried, especially on trips to the
ladang. The sumpitan, called sawput, is no longer made and the tribe is
not very apt at its use; therefore, being unable to kill the great
hornbill themselves, these natives have to buy its highly valued tail
feathers from the Punans. The latter and the Bukats, who are the greater
experts in the use of the sumpitan, notwithstanding their limited
facilities, are also the better makers, which is by no means a small
accomplishment. These nomads, and to some extent the Saputans as well,
furnish this weapon to all the Bahau tribes, the Kayans excepted.

When meeting, no salutations are made. The mother uses for her babe the
same cradle in which she herself was carried on her mother's back. It is
of the usual Dayak pattern, and when it becomes worn or broken a new one
is provided, but the old one remains hanging in the house. A cradle is
never parted with, because of the belief that the child's life would
thereby be imperilled. Should the little one die, the cradle is thrown
into the river. An unmarried man must not eat rusa nor fowls, and a
married man is prohibited from doing so until his wife has had three
children. Men should not touch with their hands the loom, nor the ribbon
which is passed round the back of the woman when she weaves, nor should a
woman's skirt be touched by a man. These precautions are taken to avoid
bad luck in fishing and hunting, because the eyesight is believed to be
adversely affected by such contact. Their sacred number is four.

An unusual game played with large tops is much practised for the purpose
of taking omens in the season when the jungle is cleared in order to make
new ladangs. The top (bae-ang) is very heavy and is thrown by a thin rope.
One man sets his spinning by drawing the rope backward in the usual way;
to do this is called niong. Another wishing to try his luck, by the aid of
the heavy cord hurls his top at the one that is spinning, as we would
throw a stone. To do this is called maw-pak, and hence the game gets its
name, maw-pak bae-ang. If the second player hits the spinning top it is a
good omen for cutting down the trees. If he fails, another tries his luck,
and so on. The long-continued spinning of a top is also a favourable sign
for the man who spins it. With the Katingans a hit means that it is
advisable to cut the trees at once, while a miss necessitates a delay of
three days. Every day, weather permitting, as soon as the men return from
the ladangs in the evening, about an hour before sunset, this game is
played on the space before the houses of the kampong. Sometimes only two
men consult fate, spinning alternately. The same kind of top is found
among the Kayans, Kenyahs, and other Dayak tribes.

According to the information I obtained from the Dayaks they believe that
the soul has eternal existence, and although many tribes have the idea
that during life several souls reside in one individual, after death only
one is recognised, which is generally called liao. One or more souls may
temporarily leave the body, thereby causing illness.

Neither in this life nor the next are there virtuous or sinful souls, the
only distinction being in regard to social standing and earthly
possessions, and those who were well-to-do here are equally so there. With
the Katingans whatever is essential to life in this world is also found in
the next, as houses, men, women, children, dogs, pigs, fowls,
water-buffaloes, and birds. People are stronger there than here and cannot
die. The principal clothing of the liao is the tatu marks, which it will
always keep. The garments worn besides are new and of good quality. When my
informant, a native official of Kasungan, who sports semi-civilised dress,
expressed his disapproval of the poor wearing quality of his trousers to
an old Katingan, the latter exclaimed: "That matters not. Above, all new
ones!" In the belief of the Duhoi (Ot-Danums) the liao remains with the
body until the funeral-house falls into decay, perhaps for twenty years,
when it enters the soil and "is then poor." The idea of the Penihings
about life after death is vague, and they do not pretend to know where the
soul goes.

The Penihings acknowledge five souls, or batu, in each individual: one
above each eye, one at either side of the chest below the arm, and one at
the solar plexus. The souls above the eyes are able to leave their
abiding-place, but the others can go only short distances. If the
first-named depart the person becomes ill next day, the immediate cause
being that a malevolent antoh, desiring to eat the victim, has entered the
head through the top. On perceiving this the two souls located above the
eyes escape and the blian is called upon to bring them back, for unless
they return the afflicted one will die.

A fowl or a pig, or both, may then be killed and the blood collected. Some
of it is smeared on the patient's forehead, head, and chest, the remainder
being offered to antoh, both in plain form and mixed with uncooked rice,
as has been described in Chapter XIX. When a fowl is sacrificed the empty
skin, suspended from a bamboo stalk, is likewise reserved for antoh, the
meat having been consumed, as usual, by those concerned.

As another effective means of inducing the return of the soul the blian
sings for several hours during one night or more. In the Penihing tribe he
accompanies himself by beating an especially made stringed shield. It is
believed that the singer is able to see how the antoh caused the sickness:
whether he did it by throwing a spear, by striking with a stick, or by
using a sumpitan. In his efforts to restore the patient the blian is told
what to sing by a good antoh that enters his head. Without such help no
person can sing properly, and the object of the song is to prevail upon a
beneficent spirit to eject or kill the evil one so that the souls may

The blian usually resorts also to feats of juggling, proceeding in the
following way: Clasping his open hands forcibly together over the painful
part, at the same time turning himself round and stamping on the floor, he
wrings his hands for a few seconds and then, in sight of all, produces an
object which in the Penihing conception represents a bad antoh--in fact,
by them is called antoh. In this manner he may produce several bits of
substance which are thrown away to disappear. According to belief, when
the blian performs his trick it is in reality a good antoh that does it
for him.

While we were in camp at Long Tjehan there was considerable singing at
night for the cure of sick people, and four voices could be heard in
different parts of the house at the same time. One night I was prevented
from sleeping by a remedial performance just above my tent, which was only
a few metres from the house. The clear, strong voice of the blian had
resounded for an hour or more, when five loud thumps upon the floor were
heard, as if something heavy had fallen. The fact was that the man had
stamped hard with his right foot as by sleight-of-hand he caught various
objects from the patient, producing in quick succession a piece of wood, a
small stone, a fragment of bone, a bit of iron, and a scrap of tin. Five
antohs, according to the Penihing interpretation, had been eradicated and
had fled. Afterward he extracted some smaller ones in a similar manner but
without stamping his foot. The singing was then continued by another man
and a woman, in order to call the friendly antoh, that the exercises might
be happily concluded.

The blian also tries to placate the malevolent antoh by the gift of food.
A Penihing informant said that the evil one also eats the sacrificial
blood, including that which is smeared on the patient, and ultimately may
leave satisfied. As soon as the souls see that the antoh has gone they
return and the victim recovers. The blian's remuneration is usually one
parang and a handful of rice. If the person is very ill, a gong and a
handful of rice is the fee, but should the patient die the gong is
returned. The Duhoi (Ot-Danum) women occasionally put on men's costume,
and vice versa, to frighten the antoh that causes illness and keep it at a
distance. With the Katingans a good antoh is believed to reside in the
saliva applied by the blian for healing purposes to that part of a body
which is in pain. The saliva drives out the malevolent antoh, or, in other
words, cures the pain.



The Penihings still live in dread of the head-hunting raids of the Ibans
of Sarawak, and the probability of such attacks no doubt caused the recent
establishment of a garrison at Long Kai. The Long-Glats on the Merasi, a
northern tributary to the Mahakam, are also constantly on guard against
the Ibans. Until lately these inveterate head-hunters would cross the
mountains, make prahus, then travel down the Upper Mahakam, and commit
serious depredations among the kampongs, killing whomsoever they could,
the others fleeing to the mountains. As one Penihing chief expressed it to
me: "The river was full of their prahus from the Kasao River to Long Blu."
Their last visit was in 1912, when the Bukats reported that a number of
Ibans had arrived at the headwaters of the river, but the raid did not
materialise, and they retired without making prahus. These raids have
naturally brought about much intermingling of the tribes on the Mahakam
River, and sometimes three or more may be found living in one kampong.

About twenty years ago there was much fighting in these remote parts of
Borneo among Penihings, Saputans, Penjabongs, and Bukats, each tribe
making head-hunting raids into the dominions of another, and all being
constantly exposed to the fury of the Ibans from the north. Head-hunting
raids may include assaults on kampongs, but very often they are cowardly
attacks on small groups of unsuspecting people, men, women, and children.
The heads thus secured appear to be as highly valued as those acquired
under more heroic conditions. The fact is also noteworthy that the heads
of Malays are appreciated, but, with few exceptions, not those of white
people. Several times I heard of Malay rattan or rubber gatherers who had
been disposed of in that way. The head is severed by one stroke.

As a typical case of head-hunting I give the following description of a
raid which, twelve years previous to my visit, was made by ten Bukats upon
a small party of Saputans who were on a babi hunt. Among the Penyahbongs,
Saputans, Punans, and Penihings a woman may accompany her husband or
another man on the chase, carry a spear, and assist in killing pig or
deer. Bear she does not tackle, but, as my informant said, "even all men
do not like to do that." She also carries her own parang, with which she
may kill small pigs and cut down obstacles in her path. The hunting-party,
one man and three women, had been successful. The babi had been killed
with spears and, in accordance with custom, the head had been cut off with
a parang. The carcass had been cut up and the three women carried the meat
in the coarse-meshed rattan bags on their backs, while the man bore the
head on his shoulder, all homeward bound, when the Bukats attacked them.
Only one woman escaped.

The slayers hurried off with the three heads, being afraid of the people
of the kampong which was not far away. As usual the heads were tied by the
hair to the handle of the shield, and were thus carried to the place where
the rattan bags had been left, inside of which they were then placed.

After taking heads the men are on the run for two or three days,
travelling at night with torches, and in the evening they make a big fire
to dry the heads. The brains, because of the weight, may have been taken
out the first evening; this is done through the foramen, and a hole is
made with a spear point in the top of the skull. The hair has first been
cut off and taken care of, to be tied as ornaments to shields or plaited
round the handle of the sword. The Katingans, however, throw away the hair
with the flesh. Apprehensive of pursuit, they may dry the head but a
little while each night, grass being tied round it when carried. Sometimes
damar is used to dry the flesh and the eyes.

The last night out the head-hunters always sleep near their kampong, and
early next morning, while it is still dark, they come singing. The people
of the kampong waken, array themselves in their best finery, and go to
meet them, the women wearing their newest skirts and bringing pieces of
nice cloth to present to the conquerors. The man who cut the head carries
it suspended from his neck until it is taken from him by a woman who gives
him the cloth to wear instead, possibly as a badge of heroism. It makes no
difference whether this service is performed by his wife, an unmarried
woman, or another man's wife. The singing ceases and all proceed to the
kampong, to the house of the kapala, where the heads are hung from the
beam at the head of the ladder, and the cloths which were bestowed upon
the victors are returned to the women. The heads are left hanging, while
for the festivities connected with their arrival a hut, called mangosang,
is constructed, consisting of an airy shelter made of two rows of bamboo
stalks supported against each other, and profusely adorned with the
inevitable wood shavings.

The head-hunters, who must take their food apart from their associates and
in the presence of the heads, now bring water from the river to boil rice,
in bamboo, outside on the gallery. When the cooking is finished the heads
are brought to take part in the meal, being hung near the place where the
men are to eat and about half a metre above the floor, to be out of reach
of dogs. A pinch of rice is put into the hole at the top of the skull and
the head is addressed in the following words: "Eat this rice first. Don't
be angry. Take care of me. Make this body of mine well." During the period
of restrictions imposed on the hunters the heads remain at the same place,
sharing the meals as described.

For twelve days the hunters do no work and refrain from eating meat,
vegetables, fish, salt, and red pepper, rice being the only permissible
food. They are obliged to take their food on the gallery, and those who
have never been on such expeditions before must also sleep there during
that time. A man who has taken part three or more times may join his wife,
but he must take his meals on the gallery. When twelve days have passed no
more food is given to the heads, which are hung on the beam again, three
to five being placed together in a rattan basket, with leaves around them.
At the triennial festival, tasa, blood of pig or fowl mixed with uncooked
rice, is offered to the heads.

Usually the head-hunting raids were, and are still to a limited extent,
carried far away into distant regions and may occupy several months. The
Saputans, who were devotees to the custom, would go as far as the river
Melawi in the southwest to Sarawak in the north, as well as to the Murung
or Upper Barito River in the east. Sometimes only two to five men would
go, but usually there were about ten--an equal number remaining behind in
the kampong. Controleur W.J. Michielsen, quoted before, relates an
instance of a Dayak from Serayan, whose daughter had been killed by a
Katingan head-hunter, who pursued the marauders to their homes, and, on
the occasion of the festivities incident to the return of the members of
the raid, he cut the head from the murderer of his child while the
celebration was in progress. His action was so sudden that they were
totally unprepared, and no attempt was made to prevent his escape with the

In times gone by when a Saputan man, woman, or child died it was the
custom for a member of the family to go forth to look for a head. In the
case of an ordinary person one was deemed sufficient, but for a chief five
to ten were necessary. When taking a head a cut was made in the slain
man's chest with a parang; into the wound the raiders then put their
forefingers and sucked the blood from them.

Each head-hunter carried rice in a rattan basket, but he depended for food
mainly on sago-palms and wild animals that were killed. After such an
expedition has been determined upon, the preparations may occupy a year or
even longer, but usually about three months. When all is ready for a
start, a delay of from one to four days may be caused by unfavourable
interference of an omen bird. Should a bird chance to repeat the omen when
another start is made, the party must return to the kampong and wait a
long time. The Dayaks are very much guided in their actions by omens taken
not only from birds but also from incidents, and merely to hear a certain
bird is sufficient reason to change all plans.

When leaving their kampong to take part in an expedition to New Guinea the
Penihings heard the cry of a bird called tarratjan, and requested the
lieutenant in charge to wait four days. He replied, naturally, that the
Company (government) does not employ birds in making decisions, and while
the Dayaks offered no further objection they declared to him that one of
them would surely die. According to my informant it so happened that
before arriving at the island one man died. If at such a time a large tree
should be seen falling, he said, then they would like to give up the trip
to New Guinea entirely, but being afraid of the Company they go,
notwithstanding the warning.

If a head-hunting party sees a large tree fall, the expedition is
abandoned, and no young men who took part can ever join another venture of
the same kind. Old and experienced men, after the lapse of a year, may
resume operations. In case of meeting a centipede a head-hunting
expedition must return immediately to the kampong, and for four years no
such enterprise may be undertaken.

The purposes of head-hunting are manifold. The slain man is believed to
change into a servant and assistant in the next life. When a chief dies it
becomes an essential duty to provide him with heads, which are deposited
on his grave as sacrifices, and the souls of which serve him in the next
life. Heads taken for the benefit of kampong people are hung in the house
of the kapala to counteract misfortune and to confer all manner of
benefits. An important point is that the presence of the heads from other
tribes, or rather of the souls residing in them, compels evil antohs to
depart. A kampong thus becomes purified, free from disease. The killing of
a fowl is not sufficient to accomplish this; that of a pig helps a little,
a water-buffalo more, but to kill a man and bring the head makes the
kampong completely clean.

With the Katingans a head hanging in the house is considered a far better
guardian than the wooden figures called kapatongs, which play an important
part in the life of that tribe. Any fear of resentment on the part of the
liao (departed soul) residing in the head is precluded by their belief
that the Katingan antoh gave him the order to watch.

"If no heads are brought in there will be much illness, poor harvest,
little fruit, fish will not come up the river as far as our kampong, and
the dogs will not care to pursue pigs," I was told by a Penihing who had
taken part in a head-hunt and served his sentence in Soerabaia. "But are
not people angry at losing their heads?" I asked him. "No," he answered,
"we give the heads food on their arrival and every month afterward, and
make fire every evening to keep them warm. If they feel cold, then they
get angry." The man who has taken a head is considered a hero by the
women, and if unmarried is certain to secure a desirable wife, but it is
erroneous to assert that the taking of a head was or is a necessary
condition to marriage.

The government of the Dutch Indies, with energy and success, is
eradicating the evil head-hunting custom. Military expeditions involving
great expense from time to time are sent into remote regions to capture a
handful of culprits. By exercising tact it is not difficult finally to
locate the malefactors, and indeed the tribe may deliver them. It must be
remembered that the Dayaks themselves have no idea that there is anything
wrong in taking heads, and the government very wisely does not impose the
death penalty, but the transgressor is taken to Soerabaia, on Java, to
undergo some years of hard labour--from four to six, I understand. To "go
to Soerabaia" is extremely distasteful to the natives, and has proved a
most effective deterrent. On account of their forced stay at this remote
island city such Dayaks learn to speak Malay and several times I have
employed them. They are usually among the best men of the kampong,
resourceful, reliable, and intelligent, and may serve also as

In his report on a journey to the Katingans in 1909 Captain J.J.M. Hageman

"By nature the Dayak is a good-tempered man. The head-hunting should not
be charged against him as a dastardly deed; for him it is an adat. In the
second place, he possesses very good traits of character, as evidenced by
his hospitality and generosity. Our soldiers, some sixty in number,
obtained a meal immediately in every kampong. When a Dayak goes on a
journey in a friendly region he may be sure of receiving shelter and food
in every house.

"They are distrustful of foreigners, but if he has gained their confidence
they give assistance freely in every respect. Loving their liberty in a
high degree they prefer not to be ordered. The cowardly manner in which
they cut heads is no criterion of their courage."

It would not be in accordance with facts to suppose that head-hunting has
altogether been eliminated in Borneo. It is too closely identified with
the religious life of the natives, but in time a substitute probably will
be found, just as the sacrifice of the water-buffalo supplanted that of
slaves. The most recent case that came to my notice on the Mahakam was a
Penihing raid from Long Tjehan to the Upper Barito five years previously,
in which four Murung heads were taken.

It is extraordinary that such a revolting habit is practised in a race the
ethics of which otherwise might serve as a model for many so-called
civilised communities, these natives being free to an unusual degree from
the fault of appropriating what belongs to others and from untruthfulness.
The fact that the Dayaks are amiable in disposition and inclined to
timidity renders this phase of their character still more inexplicable.
The inevitable conclusion is that they are driven to this outrage by
religious influences and lose their self-control. As of related interest I
here note what Doctor J.M. Elshout, who had recently returned from Apo
Kayan, communicated to me. He had spent three years at the garrison of
Long Nawang among the fine Kenyahs and spoke the language. "As soon as one
enters upon the subject of taking heads one no longer knows the Kenyah. Of
his mild and pacific disposition little or nothing remains. Unbounded
ferocity and wantonness, treachery and faithlessness, play a very great
part; of courage, as we understand the meaning of the word, there is
seldom a trace. It is a victory over the brua (soul) of the man who lost
his head, and the slayer's own brua becomes stronger thereby. If
opportunity is given they will take heads even if they are on a commercial
trip. Outsiders, even if they have been staying a long time in the
kampong, run a risk of losing their heads."



It became expedient to prepare for our farther journey down the river, but
first I wanted to take some photographs and measurements of the kampong
people; this, however, proved an impossible task because of the adverse
influence of the reticent and conservative Raja Paron, who spoke not one
word of Malay. Recently he had been shocked by the sale to me of two live
specimens of the curious spectacled lemur (_tarsius borneanus_), which had
been added to my collections. The raja was incensed with the man who sold
them, because the makiki, as these animals are called, are regarded as
antohs, and in their anger at being sold were making people ill. Therefore
these new proceedings for which his sanction was asked were regarded by
him with disapproval, and as a result of his opposition the people began
to disappear in the direction of their ladangs. Fortunately, I had secured
good material in both respects from Long Kai, and I began preparations for

Prahus and a sufficient number of men were secured, and in the middle of
July we started. On the Mahakam there never was any difficulty about
getting men who were eager to gain their one rupia a day. The difficulty
was rather the other way, and this morning the prahus were found to
contain more paddlers than had been agreed upon, and seven surplus men had
to be put ashore. On the river-banks at this time were noticeable trees
bearing small fruit of a yellowish-red colour, and which were so numerous
as to impart their hue to the whole tree. Violent movements in the
branches as we passed drew our attention to monkeys, which had been
gorging themselves with fruit and scampered away on our approach. Birds,
naturally, like the fruit, and, strange to say, it is a great favourite
with fish, many kinds of which, chiefly large ones such as the djelavat
and salap, gather underneath the trees in the season. On the Mahakam and
the Katingan this is an occasion for the Dayaks to catch much fish with
casting-net, spears, or hooks. The tree, which in Malay is called crevaia,
is not cut, and there is no other known to the natives the fruit of which
the fish like to eat. Though not sweet, it is also appreciated by the

Another singular observation made on the Mahakam was the effect of dry
weather on the jungle. At one place, where it covered hills rising from
the river, the jungle, including many big trees, looked dead. From what I
later learned about the burning of the peat in Sarawak, where unusually
dry weather may start fires which burn for months, this was undoubtedly
also the case here, but it seems strange that in a country so humid as
Borneo the weather, although admittedly of little stability, may become
dry enough to destroy the woods in this manner.

I had decided to pay another short visit to Long Pahangei, where we
arrived in the afternoon, and again we were among Oma-Sulings. Some good
specimens were added to my ethnographic collections, among them wearing
apparel for both sexes said to be over a hundred years old and which I
bought from the Raja Besar, who was visiting here. He possessed a number
of old implements and weapons of considerable interest. The raja of a
near-by kampong arrived on his way to Long Iram, and the largest of his
seven prahus was of unusual dimensions, measuring, at its greatest width,
1.34 metres over all. Although the board, four centimetres thick, stands
out a little more than the extreme width of the dugout, which is the main
part of a prahu, still the tree which furnished the material must have
been of very respectable size.

The Raja Besar showed great desire to accompany me on an excursion up the
Merasi River, a northern affluent within the domain of the same tribe. My
preference was for Lidju, my constant assistant, but on the morning of our
start the great man actually forced himself into service, while the
former, who had been told to come, was not to be seen. The raja began
giving orders about the prahus and behaved as if he were at home. As I
remained passive he finally said that he wanted to know whether he could
go; if I preferred Lidju he would remain behind. Not wanting a scene, and
as he was so intent on going, I gave the desired permission. Though, like
the others, he was nude except for a loin-cloth, Raja Besar was a
gentleman at heart, but he did not know how to work, especially in a
prahu. On account of his exalted position he had never been accustomed to
manual labour, but always to command. He naturally selected a place in my
prahu and seated himself at one side, which kept the boat tilted; however,
it was out of the question for any of the men to correct him. When the
prahu moved away the first thing he did was to wash his feet, next his
hands and arms, finally to rinse his mouth, and several times during the
trip the performance was repeated. He was of little assistance except
through the authority that he exerted as a great raja.

Early in the afternoon we arrived at Lulo Pakko (lulo = river; pakko =
edible fern), situated in a beautiful hilly country. The natives very
obligingly helped to make camp in the usual way. Raja Besar, who made
himself at home in the gallery of the long communal house, told me that he
wanted his "children," as he called the men, to remain until the following
day, his plan being to obtain double wages for them. With the swift
current, however, they could easily return the same day, so I said I had
no objection to their staying, but that they would receive no extra pay
for the additional time; whereupon they left without argument.

Comfortably established on the cool, spacious gallery of the large house,
I received articles they were willing to sell, had decorative designs
interpreted for me, and interviewed the more intelligent of these pleasant
Oma-Sulings. On the floor lay an admirably finished plank, which was used
as a seat; it was about four centimetres thick and nearly two metres
broad, the bark remaining on the edges. In Long Pahangei I noticed a
similar one of slightly narrower width.

The women, who were genial in their manners, came to my tent constantly to
ask for tobacco, which evidently was a great luxury with them, and
sometimes they were even troublesome. One afternoon when all was ready for
my bath, which I always take at one side of the tent opening, three young
women came and seated themselves just outside. While the natives are
always welcome and I like them, yet I was not prepared, after a hard day's
work, to relinquish my bath in order to receive a visit from even
attractive ones of the fair sex. There was simply nothing to do but to
disregard their presence. Calmly I began to take off my clothes, as if the
ladies were not there. At first my preparations seemed to make no
impression whatever, but finally, when I was about to divest myself of the
last of my few garments, they smiled and went away.

This was the season for the durian fruit and we much enjoyed this
delicacy, of which Mr. A.R. Wallace, fifty years ago, wrote: "To eat
durians is a new sensation, worth a voyage to the East to experience."
There were some superb trees seventy metres high growing not far from my
tent, and many others farther away. The people of the Mahakam do not climb
these tall trees to get the fruit, but gather them from the ground after
it has fallen. One night I heard one fall with a considerable crash.
Roughly speaking, it is of the size of a cocoanut; a large one might kill
a man and has been known to cause serious injury. It is most dangerous for
children to walk under the trees in the fruit season.

The durian is intensely appreciated by the natives, and tatu marks
representing the fruit are strikingly prominent in Central Borneo. It also
has its European devotees, though most of them take a dislike to it on
account of its strong odour, resembling that of decayed onions. On my
arrival in Batavia one of my first trips had been to the market to buy a
durian, which I brought to the hotel with anticipation of great enjoyment.
My disappointment was great, its taste being to me as offensive as its
odour. Nobody knows what a durian is like until he eats one that has been
permitted to ripen and fall to the ground. Even in Java this would be
difficult, unless one made special arrangements with the natives who bring
them to the market-places. It is popularly supposed that the durian is an
aphrodisiac, but that is not the case. Any food or fruit that one greatly
enjoys acts favourably on the digestive organs, and therefore makes one
feel in vigorous condition.

Those that were brought to me on this occasion, and which had just fallen
from the tree, were of a fresh green colour with a streak of yellow here
and there and had a pleasant, rich odour. The most satisfactory way to eat
it is with a spoon; the pulp, though rich, is not heavy, and, moreover, is
stimulating. It serves the purpose of a dessert, with a flavour and
delicacy that is indescribable and that makes one feel happy. Among the
great enjoyments of life are the various delicious fruits when really ripe
and of the best grade, but comparatively few people have that experience.
The vast majority are perfectly satisfied to eat fruit that was picked
green and matured afterward. Many years ago I tasted a real orange from
New-South-Wales, and ever since I have disdained the more acid kind.

My firmness in refusing to pay the men for more time than was necessary
produced a salutary effect upon Raja Besar. He fixed fair prices on things
I wanted to buy, which before he had not done, and I made him tie labels
on the specimens I bought. As he was truthful, he finally served as well
as Lidju. On the last day of our stay he helped me to repress the
eagerness of the Dayaks to "turn an honest penny." The prahus, besides
being defective, were not large enough for many men, and I was determined
not to have more than three in each, a quite sufficient number when going
downstream. I have a suspicion that he objected to four for reasons of
personal safety.

Owing to the rapid current, we made the return voyage in two hours, and
when we got to the Mahakam River we found it very much swollen, with logs
floating downstream beside us. Our low-lying prahus were leaking and the
situation was not agreeable, though I should have felt more anxious had I
not been with Dayaks, who are extremely able boatmen. At Long Pahangei the
captain from Long Iram, who is also the controleur of that district, had
arrived and was waiting on account of the overflow of the river. I had an
hour's talk with this pleasant man, who thinks that the Dayaks on the
Upper Mahakam ultimately must die out because they do not have enough
children to perpetuate the tribe. He said that in 1909, when he was
stationed at Puruk Tjahu, nothing was known about the country where we
then were.

The Oma-Sulings, according to their traditions, came from Apo Kayan nearly
two hundred years ago. Oma means place of abode; Suling is the name of a
small river in Apo Kayan. They had at the time of my visit six kampongs on
the Upper Mahakam, the largest of which is Long Pahangei, with about 500
inhabitants. Material for clothing is no longer woven, but is bought in
Long Iram. This is probably also the case with the Long-Glats, but the
Penihings still do some weaving.



In the latter part of July we went to the near-by kampong, Long Tujo ("a
small animal with many legs"), situated at the mouth of another small
tributary to the Mahakam. Here live Long-Glats who are located below the
other Bahau peoples of the river and are found as far as Batokelau, between
the upper and lower rapids. Though Long Iram is rather distant--five days'
travel down-stream, and, if the river is high, perhaps two months may be
consumed in returning--still its influence was evidenced by the several
umbrellas I saw, all black, an adaptation from the high-class Malays and an
unusual sight in these parts. The kapala of this large kampong resembled a
Malay raja, in that he always carried an umbrella when he walked and looked
pale because the sun was not allowed to shine upon him. Two days later,
when I photographed the ladies performing dances, they had at least five of
these fashionable contrivances.

It may be stated that natives of the Dutch Indies are generally afraid of
the sun. Well-to-do Malays carry umbrellas as a protection against it. In
Batavia I read in the newspapers that the Sultan of Priok, when visiting
an aviation camp, was so overcome by the heat that he had to be carried
away, regaining consciousness on arriving at his quarters. However, the
attack may have been induced to some extent by general lack of exercise
and the indolent life that characterises his compatriots who occupy high

Even some of the pagan tribes protect their heads, as the Katingans, the
Duhoi, and others, who make beautiful sunshades, which also serve in case
of rain, and this was not learned from the Malays. In the Bornean tribes
that I visited, until the child is old enough to walk, the sun is not
allowed to shine upon it even for a moment. The blacks of Australia, on
the other hand, who are in a state of absolute nudeness, pay no attention
to the sun, though in common with most natives of hot countries they
usually prefer to follow the example of the animals and remain quiet in
the middle of the day.

An umbrella of the usual type, Chinese or Japanese, is very useful for
travel in Borneo. At times it proves of excellent service in the prahu in
case of sudden showers, and it is invaluable for protecting the camera
when photographing. But as a matter of comfort and convenience it is my
custom to have my head uncovered except in rainy or cold weather. The sun
is a great friend and health-giver, and notwithstanding well-meant
warnings and an inborn fear first to be overcome, during my journeys in
Borneo I carried my hat in my pocket. When travelling in a prahu, I do not
care for a prolonged exposure to the sun, but often I photographed for
three or four hours continuously--really hard work--in the blazing light
of the equatorial sun, without experiencing any disagreeable effect. In
the spring of 1910 I travelled in this way for three months, mostly on
horseback, through the Sonora Desert, and felt stronger for it. It is my
opinion that overfatigue, excess in eating, or alcohol are the causes of
sunstroke. I have met only one man who, like myself, discards cover for
the head--Doctor N. Annandale, of the Indian Museum in Calcutta. Although
in our present state of knowledge I agree with him that it is unwise to
advise others to do likewise in the tropics, I emphatically recommend less
fear of the sun in temperate regions, always on the supposition that one
leads a healthy and sane life.

The Long-Glats came from Apo Kayan, and established themselves first on
the River Glit, a tributary from the south to the River Ugga, which again
is an affluent to the River Boh, the outlet from Apo Kayan to the Mahakam.
Since that time the people have called themselves Long-Glit, which is
their correct name, but as they have already become known as Long-Glat,
through the Dutch, I shall use that designation.

In the kapala's house I saw a superb plank, four metres long, raised
lengthwise against the wall; one side of it was taken up with fine
carvings on a large scale, representing three pairs of dogs. This I
fortunately obtained. The kapala's father was an Oma-Suling, but his
grandmother, a Long-Glat, had taught him some kremi or kesa, the Malay
words for folklore (in Long-Glat, lawong), and I collected from him two
rather interesting tales, which are included with other folklore stories
at the end of this book. In one of them (No. 18) the airplane is
foreshadowed, and by one that could fly for a month, at that. Needless to
state, an airplane had never been heard of in those parts.

The people were inquisitive but more distant than the other tribes I had
visited, a quality which is often a saving grace. They were very willing
to be photographed, and among my subjects were three women of the
nobility, called rajas, who had many coins sewn on their skirts in a way
that looked quite well. One wore a head ornament such as I had not seen
before, an elaborate affair lying over the hair, which was worn loose and
hanging down the back. One man trembled noticeably when before the camera,
without spoiling the photograph, however, though it was a side-view.

Of the women who helped me with the interpretations of designs, one had a
marked Mongolian fold of the eye, though her eyes could scarcely be said
to be placed obliquely. As far as my observations go, the Mongolian fold
is very slight with the natives of Borneo, or not present at all, and the
obliquity of the eyes is seldom striking. The Long-Glats do not tatu much,
many not at all, but generally they have on the left upper arm a picture
of the nagah in its usual representation with the disproportionately large
dog's mouth. Wild cattle are not eaten here. The great hornbill, as well
as the red and white hawk, may be killed, but are not eaten.

Three times a day the women bring water and take baths, while the men
bathe when fancy dictates. Penihing and Kayan women begin to husk rice
about five o'clock in the morning, while it is still dark. That is pemali
(forbidden) among the Long-Glats, but the women cook rice at that hour,
and, after eating, most of the people depart to the ladangs, returning
about four o'clock in the afternoon. The women who remain in the kampong
place paddi on mats in the sun to dry, and at noon they husk rice. Early
in the afternoon, and again about two hours after sunset, meals are
served, consisting always of boiled rice and a simple stew of boiled
vegetables of one or more kinds (called sayur, a Malay word), and
sometimes pork.

In the evening the women may cut rattan into fine strips, or weave these
into mats, while the men employ themselves in making a sheath for a
parang, or an axe-handle, or carving a hilt for a sword, etc. They talk
till late at night and sometimes sing. None of the Bahau people are able
to make rattan mats of such exquisite finish as the Long-Glats. The
beautiful dull-red colour employed is procured from a certain grass which
is crushed and boiled, the rattan being kept in the infusion one day. The
black colour is obtained by the same method from the leaves of a tree, and
both colours are lasting.

In the belief of the Long-Glats, people should not laugh at animals, lest
some misfortune result. For instance, when dogs fight among themselves or
with cats, one should not indulge in mirth, else the thunder, which is an
antoh, becomes angry and makes somebody ill. In this kampong was a young
hornbill which was quite domesticated and frequently came to rest on the
top of my tent. It often fought the hens and even the dogs, which was an
amusing sight, but would carry disquieting significance to the Dayak who
allowed himself to laugh. The lieutenant from Long Kai possessed a very
tame wah-wah which had accompanied him on a visit here. The natives told
me that a child had become ill because she could not help laughing at the
ape when it ran after the lieutenant and climbed one of his legs.
According to the blian, the little girl was very warm and feverish, but he
sang in the night, and next day she was well.

Considerable similarity is evident in customs, manners, and beliefs of the
Long-Glats and the Oma-Sulings, though the limited time at my disposal did
not permit me fully to investigate this subject. Bear-meat is not eaten by
either, and rusa (deer) and kidyang are not killed, the latter especially
being avoided. Sumpitans are bought, and blians' shields such as the
Penihings have are not made. Both these tribes pray for many children,
which to them means larger ladangs and much food. The wish of these
peoples is to have ten children each. In view of the fact that in Long
Pahangei the number of women was disproportionately small, the desire for
large families seemed unlikely to be gratified. Many men, some of them
old, were unmarried, but no women were single. Twins sometimes occur, but
not triplets. The mother nourishes her offspring for about five years, the
two youngest suckling at the same time. A raja may marry ten women, or
more, and has a great marriage-feast of more than a week's duration.
Lidju, my Long-Glat assistant, said that his father had fifteen wives, his
grandfather thirty, but it was no longer the fashion to have so many. The
common man (orang kampong) is allowed only one wife. Divorces are easily
obtained, and neither suicide nor abortion is known.

July is supposed to be the dry season, but rarely a day passed without
showers. One evening occurred the heaviest thunder-storm I experienced in
Borneo. It came from the west and was accompanied by a great downpour,
straining my tent to the utmost. The sergeant one day brought in a large
lizard (_varanus_) which he shot from the prahu just as it was about to
enter the river. Its length was 2.30 metres; the circumference back of the
fore legs 44 centimetres.

It was with regret that I said good-bye to the Bahau peoples. Had it been
in my power, I should like to have spent years instead of months in this
Mahakam region. The Dayaks here are friendly to strangers, and as the
great rapids farther down the river form a natural barrier, they seldom
receive visitors, therefore are little changed by outside influence. The
Malays have never been able to extend their influence above the rapids,
and whatever modification may be noticeable in the natives is chiefly due
to their journeys to Long Iram in order to exchange the products of the
utan for commodities of the outside world. The government has exerted
itself to keep the Malays from coming, but no doubt in the end this will
prove as unavailing as it did on the Upper Barito. A few of them now and
then find their way across the range that forms a natural boundary toward
the south, and although thus far Malay settlement up here is negligible,
its ultimate ascendancy is probable, however long the time that may pass
before it is accomplished.



Early in August, as soon as the river had receded sufficiently to be
considered favourable for travel, we started in seven prahus with
thirty-two men. After less than two hours' swift journey we encountered the
advance-guard of the kihams, which, though of little account, obliged us
to take ashore almost all our goods, and we walked about fifteen minutes.
It seemed a very familiar proceeding. Early in the afternoon we arrived at
the kubo, a desirable shelter that had been erected at the head of the
first great kiham, but its limited accommodations were taxed to
overflowing by our arrival. Already camped here were a few Buginese
traders and a raja from the Merasi River, accompanied by two good-looking
wives, who were all going to Long Iram and had been waiting two days for
the river to fall. The raja, who presented me with some bananas, moved
with his family a little farther down the river, and I put up my tent as

Next morning the transportation of our goods on human backs was begun, and
shortly after six o'clock I started with the men to walk to the foot of
the rapids, which takes about three hours. On the way, I observed a large
accumulation of vines and branches heaped round the base of a tall trunk
which at first sight looked dead. The tree to all appearances had died,
all the branches had fallen, and with them the vines, orchids, ferns,
etc., that had lived on it, but after being rid of all this burden it came
to life again, for at the top appeared small branches with large leaves. A
singular impression was created by the big heap of vegetable matter, not
unlike a burial-mound, from the midst of which emerged the tall, straight
trunk with the fresh leaves at the top, telling the tale of a drama
enacted in the plant world through which the tree had passed triumphantly.

My camping-place was a small clearing on the high river-bank, where I
remained two days while the goods were being transported. There had been
little rain for a few days; indeed, it is possible the dry season had
begun, and the weather was intensely hot, especially in the middle of the
day. I catalogued a number of photographic plates, but the heat in my
tent, notwithstanding the fly, made perspiration flow so freely that it
was difficult to avoid damage. Moreover, I was greatly annoyed by the
small yellow bees, which were very numerous. They clung to my face and
hair in a maddening manner, refusing to be driven away. If caught with the
fingers, they sting painfully.

The river fell more than one metre during the first night, and the Merasi
raja's party passed in their prahus at seven o'clock next morning. At
twelve our seven prahus showed up, bringing some large packages that could
easiest be spared in case anything happened. The following day the
remainder of the baggage arrived, carried on the backs of the men, and I
was glad to have all here safe and dry.

In a couple of hours we arrived in the kampong Batokelau (turtle), and
below are other rapids which, though long, are less of an obstacle. A
beautiful mountain ridge, about 1,200 metres high, through which the river
takes its course, appears toward the southeast. The population includes
fifty "doors" of Busangs, forty "doors" of Malays, and twenty of
Long-Glats. Crocodiles are known to exist here, but do not pass the rapids
above. The kapala owned a herd of forty water-buffaloes, which forage for
themselves but are given salt when they come to the kampong. When driven
to Long Iram, they fetch eighty florins each. The gables of the kapala's
house were provided with the usual ornaments representing nagah, but
without the dog's mouth. He would willingly have told me tales of
folklore, but assured me he did not know any, and pronounced Malay
indistinctly, his mouth being constantly full of sirin (betel), so I found
it useless to take down a vocabulary from him.

Continuing our journey, we successfully engineered a rapid where a
Buginese trader two weeks previously had lost his life while trying to
pass in a prahu which was upset. Afterward we had a swift and beautiful
passage in a canyon through the mountain ridge between almost
perpendicular sides, where long rows of sago-palms were the main feature,
small cascades on either side adding to the picturesqueness. At the foot
of the rapids we made camp in order to enable me to visit a small
salt-water accumulation in the jungle a couple of kilometres farther down
the river. As we landed near the place, we saw over a hundred pigeons
leaving. There were two kinds of these birds at the pool, most of them of a
very common large variety, with white head and green wings, and all were
shy; according to the opinion of the Dayaks, owing to the prevalence of

Next morning we started shortly after six o'clock, and early in the
afternoon reached the kampong Omamahak, which is inhabited by Busangs,
with a sprinkling of Malays. Two hours later twenty-one prahus arrived
from Apo Kayan with one hundred and seventy-nine Kenyahs on their way to
Long Iram to carry provisions to the garrison. Soon afterward the captain
of Long Iram overtook us here, returning from his tour of inspection
above, so the place became very populous. The next night we stopped at
Hoang Tshirao, inhabited by a tribe of the same name, also called Busang,
apparently quite primitive people. The kampong was neat and clean; there
were many new wooden kapatongs, as well as small wooden cages on poles,
evidently serving for sacrificial offerings. The following day we arrived
at Long Iram.

Of comparatively recent origin, the town lies on level land, and its
inhabitants outside the garrison are Malays, Chinese, and Dayaks. The
street is long, extremely well kept, and everything looks orderly and
clean, while before the captain's house were many beautiful flowers. The
pasang-grahan, which is in a very quiet locality, is attractive and has
two rooms. One was occupied by an Austrian doctor in the Dutch military
service, who was on his way to Long Nawang, while I appropriated the
other. He was enthusiastic over the superb muscles of the Kenyahs who had
just arrived and were camping in a house built for such occasions on top
of a small hill a short distance away. Cows, brown in colour, were grazing
in a large field near by, and I enjoyed the unusual luxury of fresh
milk--five small bottles a day. After I had bathed and put on clean
garments, even though my linen-mesh underclothing was full of holes, I felt
content in the peaceful atmosphere.

The doctor of Long Iram, who had been here one year, told me that no case
of primary malaria had come to his notice. What the Malays call demum is
not the genuine malaria, but probably due to the merotu, a troublesome
little black fly. One of his predecessors had collected 1,000 mosquitoes,
out of which number only 60 were anopheles. There was framboisia here, for
which the natives use their own remedies. The temperature at the warmest
time of the day is from 90 to 95 Fahrenheit; at night, 75 to 80 . There
is much humidity, but we agreed that the climate of Borneo, especially in
the interior, is agreeable.

It was extraordinary how everything I had brought on this expedition was
just finished. The day before I had had my last tin of provisions; the
milk was gone except ten tins, which would carry me through to Samarinda,
a four days' journey; the candles were all used; the supply of jam
exhausted; tooth-brushes no longer serviceable; my clothes in rags.
Fortunately I had more stores in Bandjermasin. The rot-proof tents which I
bought in England were to some extent a disappointment because they
deteriorated even though not in actual use, or possibly because of that
fact. On account of the delay caused by the war the bulk of my
considerable tent outfit was not unpacked until two years after purchase.
It had been carefully kept, but was found to be more or less like paper,
and only a small portion could be used. One tent served me throughout
Bornean travels, but finally the quality of the fabric became impaired to
a degree which necessitated constant patching; it was made to last only by
the exercise of great care and with the aid of a fly, three of these
having been used on this expedition. If a journey to a country
climatically like Borneo is planned to last only a year, rot-proof tents
may be recommended on account of their light weight and great convenience.

The enterprising Kenyahs offered to sell me the model of a raja's
funeral-house which seven of them made while there. Most of the material
evidently had been brought with them. It was an interesting sample of their
handicraft. At the house of the first lieutenant I was shown several
similar models, some with unusual painted designs, which were eloquent
testimonials to the great artistic gifts of this tribe. I also bought a
small earthen jar. One of the natives who was able to speak some Malay
said that such ware is common in Apo Kayan and is used for cooking rice.
The poison for the dart of the blow-pipe is also boiled in earthenware
vessels. The jars, which are sometimes twenty-five centimetres in
diameter, are protected on journeys by being encased in rattan netting.
The Kenyahs are perhaps the most capable of all the natives of Borneo. Of
the one hundred and seventy-nine visiting members of the tribe, only one
was afflicted with the skin diseases so prevalent among many of the other
Dayaks, and, according to Doctor J. M. Elshout, syphilis is not found
among those of Apo Kayan.

The steamship connection with Samarinda is irregular, and as a small
transport steamer was making ready to take away its usual cargo of rattan
and rubber, I decided to avail myself of the opportunity. The commercial
products are loaded in a fair-sized boat, which is made fast to the side
of the steamer, and a similar one may be attached to the other side. Such
boats, which are called tonkang, also take passengers, mostly Malay and
Chinese, but there are no cabins, and the travellers spread their mats on
the limited deck according to mutual agreement.

A swarm of Kenyahs began at seven o'clock to convey our baggage, and the
soldiers later reported that there was not even standing-room left. I
climbed on board and found rattan piled high everywhere, covering even the
steps that led up to the "passenger-deck," where I emerged crawling on all
fours. A shelter of duck had been raised for me in one corner, the
lieutenant and Mr. Loing placed their beds in the adjoining space, while
the soldiers camped next to them. All the natives, packed closely
together, formed another row.

The most necessary of my belongings were stored inside the shelter, and
there I passed the four days quite comfortably. On account of many noises,
including that made by the engine, reading was impossible, so I employed
the time in mending two suits of my precious linen-mesh underwear which
was rapidly going to shreds, without prospect of opportunity to replace
them in the Far East. Morning and afternoon the Malays on deck held their
Mohammedan services, apparently singing in Arabic, and during the night
the sailors sang much. There were two rough bath-rooms, but I bathed only
once, as I was afraid of losing my slippers or other articles that were
liable to drop into the river through the intervals between the narrow
boards of the floor.

We travelled steadily day and night, but stopped at many kampongs to take
on more cargo, and an additional tonkang was attached, which relieved some
of the congestion on ours. One afternoon the monotony was relieved by a
fight in the kitchen of the little steamer, when a sudden thumping sound
of nude feet against the floor was heard and boiled rice flew about. But
it was very soon over, evidently only an outburst of dissatisfaction with
the cook; somebody called for the Malay captain and we heard no more about

There was a Bombay Mohammedan merchant on board who had small stores of
groceries and dry-goods on the Kutei River, as the Mahakam is called in
its lower course. He also spoke of the hundreds of thousands of Hindus who
live in South Africa. On the last day of our journey a remarkably tame
young snake bird was brought on board, which one of the sailors bought.
According to reports, there are many of these birds on the river. He tied
it to the stern railing until night, when he put it on top of the cargo,
apprehending that it might try to dive if tempted by the constant sight of
the water. When asleep it curled itself up in an extraordinary manner, the
long neck at first glance giving it a serpent-like appearance. It cried
for fish and showed absolutely no fear.

On August 22, 1916, we arrived at Samarinda. The custom-house authorities
permitted me to put our numerous packages in the "bom." The lieutenant and
Mr. Loing went to a new Chinese hotel, while I, in a prahu, paddled to the
pasang-grahan, a spacious building with several rooms. Our journey through
Central Borneo had been successfully concluded, and during nine months we
had covered by river 1,650 kilometres, 750 of these in native boats.

During my absence the great war had become more real to the Archipelago
through the occasional appearance in Bornean waters of British and
Japanese cruisers. I heard of a German who walked from Bandjermasin to
Samarinda because he was afraid of being captured if he went by steamer.
The journey took him six weeks. It was my intention, while waiting here a
few days for the steamer, to visit a locality farther down the river which
is marked on the map as having Hindu antiquities. The kapala of the
district, who had been there, was sent for, and as he said that he had
neither seen nor heard of any such relics, which probably would have to be
searched for, I relinquished the trip. Hindu remains, which locally were
known to be present in a cave north of Samarinda, had been visited in 1915
by the former assistant resident, Mr. A.W. Spaan, whose report on the
journey was placed at my disposal. The cave is in a mountain which bears
the name Kong Beng, Mountain of Images, due probably to a local Dayak
language. It lies in an uninhabited region four days' march west of
Karangan, or nearly two days' east of the River Telen, the nearest Dayaks,
who are said to be Bahau, living on the last-named river. During the time
of Sultan Suleiman six or seven statues were taken from Kong Beng to
Batavia and presented to the museum there.

The country traversed from the River Pantun, to follow Mr. Spaan's
account, at first is somewhat hilly, changes gradually into undulating
country, and finally into a plain in the middle of which, quite
singularly, rises this lonely limestone mountain, full of holes and caves,
about 1,000 metres long, 400 broad, and 100 high, with perpendicular
walls. The caves are finely formed and have dome-shaped roofs, but few
stalactite formations appear. Thousands of bats live there and the ground
is covered with a thick layer of guano. From the viewpoint of natural
beauty these caves are far inferior to the well-known cave of Kimanis in
the Birang (on the River Berau, below the Kayan) with its extraordinarily
beautiful stalactite formations. In one of the caves with a low roof were
found eleven Hindu images; only the previous day the regent of Kutei had
turned the soil over and recovered a couple more archaeological remains.
Ten of these relics are in has-relief and about a metre high. The
eleventh, which is lower, represents the sacred ox and is sculptured in
its entirety. One bas-relief from which the head had been broken struck
the observer as being finely executed; he recognized four Buddhas, one
Durga, and one Ganesha.

Another cave visited was noteworthy on account of a strong wind which
continually issues from it and for which he was unable to account. The
current is formed in the opening, and twenty-five metres back of it there
is no movement of the atmosphere. The cave is low, but after ten minutes'
walk it becomes higher and has connection with the outside air. There it
is very high, and the sun's rays falling in produced a magnificent effect,
but no wind was noticeable there. Standing in front of this cave a strange
impression was created by the sight of leaves, branches, and plants in
violent movement, while outside there was absolutely no wind.

I should much have liked to visit Kong Beng, but circumstances prevented
my doing so, though the assistant resident, Mr. G. Oostenbroek,
courteously offered his small steamer to take me up along the coast. Some
months later an American friend, Mr. A.M. Erskine, at my instigation made
the journey, and according to him it would take a month to properly
explore the locality. The man whom the Sultan of Kutei sent with him threw
rice on the statues, and the accompanying Dayaks showed fear of them. By
digging to a depth of about a metre and a half through the layer of guano,
a pavement of hewn stone was found which rested on the floor of the cave.
That the trip proved interesting is evident from the following description
submitted to me:

"The weird experience of those two nights and one day in the huge caves of
Kong Beng can never be forgotten. The caves were so high that my lanterns
failed to reveal the roof. There were hordes of bats, some of them with
wings that spread four feet. The noise of their countless wings, upon our
intrusion, was like the roar of surf. Spiders of sinister aspect that have
never seen the light of day, and formidable in size, were observed, and
centipedes eight or nine inches long. In places we waded through damp bat
guano up to our knees, the strong fumes of ammonia from which were quite

"Far back in one of the caverns were those marvellous Hindu idols,
beautifully carved in bas-relief on panels of stone, each with a
projection at the bottom for mounting on a supporting pedestal. They
represent the Hindu pantheon, and are classic in style and excellent in
execution. They are arranged in a half-circle, and high above is an
opening to the sky which allows a long, slanting shaft of light to strike
upon their faces. The perfect silence, the clear-cut shaft of light--a
beam a hundred feet long--drifting down at an angle through the intense
darkness upon this group of mysterious and half-forgotten idols, stamps a
lasting picture upon one's memory.

"It is the most majestic and strangely beautiful sight I have ever seen.
Coming upon the noble group of gods gazing at the light, after a long dark
walk through the cave, gives one a shock of conflicting emotions quite
indescribable. One hardly dares to breathe for fear of dispelling this
marvellous waking dream. Fear and awe, admiration and a sense of supreme
happiness at having a wild fancy turn to reality, all come over one at
once. A single glance at this scene was ample reward for all the long days
and nights of effort put forth to reach it. I never again expect to make a
pilgrimage of this sort, for only one such experience can be had in a

It is rather surprising that Hindu remains in Borneo should be found at
such an out-of-the-way place, but Doctor Nieuwenhuis found stone carvings
from the same period on a tributary to the Mahakam. Remains of Hindu
red-brick buildings embedded in the mud were reported to me as existing at
Margasari, southwest of Negara. Similar remains are said to be at Tapen
Bini in the Kotawaringin district.

In 1917, at the Dayak kampong Temang, in the district of that name, Mr. C.
Moerman, government geologist, saw a brass statue fifteen centimetres
high, which appeared to him to be of Hindu origin. Before being shown to
visitors it is washed with lemon (djeruk) juice. When on exhibition it is
placed on top of rice which is contained in a brass dish more than
twenty-five centimetres in diameter. After being exhibited it is again
cleaned with lemon-juice and then immersed in water which afterward is used
as an eye remedy. One must give some silver coin for the statue to "eat."
Its name is Demong (a Javanese word for chief) Akar. Originally there were
seven such Demongs in that country, but six have disappeared.

Hindu influence is evident among the Dayaks in the survival of such names
as Dewa and Sangiang for certain good spirits. In the belief of the
Katingans, the departed soul is guarded by a benevolent spirit, Dewa, and
it is reported from certain tribes that female blians are called by the
same name. A party of Malays caught a snake by the neck in a cleft of a
stick, carried it away and set it free on land instead of killing it, but
whether this and similar acts are reminiscent of Hindu teaching remains to
be proven.

At the end of August we arrived in Bandjermasin, where several days were
spent in packing my collections. For many months I had been in touch with
nature and natural people, and on my return to civilisation I could not
avoid reflective comparisons. Both men and women of the Mahakam have
superb physiques; many of them are like Greek statues and they move with
wonderful, inborn grace. When with them one becomes perfectly familiar
with nudity and there is no demoralising effect. Paradoxical as it may
sound, the assertion is nevertheless true, that nothing is as chaste as
nudity. Unconscious of evil, the women dispose their skirts in such
fashion that their splendid upper bodies are entirely uncovered. Composed
of one piece of cloth, the garment, which reaches a little below the knee
and closes in the back, passes just over the hips, is, as civilised people
would say, daringly low. It is said that the most beautiful muscles of the
human body are those of the waist, and among these natives one may observe
what beauty there is in the abdomen of a well-formed young person.

It is an undeniable fact that white men and women compare unfavourably
with native races as regards healthful appearance, dignity, and grace of
bearing. We see otherwise admirable young persons who walk with drooping
shoulders and awkward movements. Coming back to civilisation with fresh
impressions of the people of nature, not a few of the so-called superior
race appear as caricatures, in elaborate and complicated clothing, with
scant attention to poise and graceful carriage. One does not expect ladies
and gentlemen to appear in public in "the altogether," but humanity will
be better off when healthful physical development and education of the
intellect receive equal attention, thus enabling man to appear at his



I decided to travel more in Borneo, but before undertaking this it was
necessary for several reasons to go to Java. In Soerabaia I had my first
experience of an earthquake. Shortly before two o'clock, while at luncheon
in the hotel, a rather strong rocking movement was felt, and I looked at
the ceiling to see if there were cracks which would make it advisable to
leave the room. But it lasted only a few seconds, although the chandeliers
continued to swing for a long time. At other places clocks stopped, and I
read in the papers that the vibration passed from south to north, damaging
native villages. In one town the tremors lasted three minutes and were the
worst that had occurred in thirty-four years, but when the disturbance
reached Soerabaia it was far less severe than one experienced in Los
Angeles, California, in April, 1918.

As is well known, the government of the Dutch Indies expends millions in
eradicating the plague, which is prevalent in portions of eastern Java. In
addition to exterminating the rats, it is necessary to demolish the bamboo
huts of the natives and move the inhabitants to new quarters. Houses of
wood are erected, lumber for the purpose being imported from Borneo in
great quantities. That the efforts have been crowned with success is
indicated from the reports issued in 1916, showing that plague cases had
been reduced seventy per cent.

Returning to Bandjermasin toward the end of October, I began to make
arrangements for a journey to Lok Besar, in a hilly region of the
Northeast at the source of the Riam Kiwa River. This kampong had recently
been visited by the government's mining engineer, Mr. W. Krol, on one of
his exploring expeditions. At first glance it might seem unpromising to
make researches in a region so near to a stronghold of the Malays, but as
he was the first and only European who had been in the upper country of
that river, there was a fair chance that the natives might prove of
considerable interest. It was a matter of five or six days by prahu from
Bandjermasin, followed by a three days' march, and I decided to return by
a different route, cross the mountain range, and emerge by Kandangan.

Accompanied by Mr. Loing, the surveyor, and the soldier-collector, I
started from Bandjermasin on November 1. To travel by the canal to
Martapura can hardly be regarded as a pleasure-trip, as mosquitoes and
flies are troublesome. Half a year later I went by the road to the same
place under more cheerful conditions, and though the day was overcast, the
flooded country just north of the town presented a picturesque appearance.
Rows of high-gabled Malay houses, with narrow bridges leading out to them,
were reflected in the calm water, and beautiful blue morning-glories
covered the small bushes growing in the water. Along the road were forests
of _melalevca leucodendron,_ of the family of _myrtaceae,_ from which the
famous cajuput-oil is obtained. It is a very useful, highly aromatic, and
volatile product, chiefly manufactured in the Moluccas, and especially
appreciated by the Malays, who employ it internally and externally for all
ailments. They are as fond of cajuput-oil as cats are of valeriana.

Early in the afternoon the prahus landed us at Martapura, which is
renowned for its diamonds and once was the seat of a powerful sultanate.
The fields, which have been known for a long time, cover a large area, and
the diamonds found in gravel, though mostly small and yellow, include some
which are pronounced to be the finest known to the trade. There is always
water beneath the surface, and natives in bands of twenty occupy
themselves in searching for the precious stones, digging holes that serve
besides as self-filling basins in which the gravel is panned. The
government does not work the fields. In a factory owned by Arabs the
diamonds are cut by primitive but evidently very efficient methods, since
South African diamonds are sent here for treatment, because the work can
be done much cheaper than in Amsterdam.

The controleur, Mr. J.C. Vergouwen, said that there were 700 Dayaks in his
district. He was able to further my plans materially by calling a Malay
official who was about to start in the same direction for the purpose of
vaccinating the natives some distance up country. The kapala of the
district, from Pengaron, who happened to be there, was also sent for, and
both men were instructed to render me assistance. Next day the Malay
coolies carried our baggage to the unattractive beach near the
market-place, strewn with bones and refuse, loaded our goods in the prahus,
and the journey began. The men were cheap and willing but slow, and it was
near sunset when we arrived at the English rubber plantation near

The controleur had been friendly enough to send word to the manager that
he had invited me to stay overnight at the estate. However, upon arrival
there we were told that the manager had gone to Bandjermasin the day
before, but was expected back at seven o'clock. It did not seem the proper
thing to make ourselves at home in his absence, so we returned to the
kampong, five minutes below by prahu, to make camp in a spacious, rather
clean-looking, shed that formed the pasar or market-place.

At midnight I was awakened by the halting of an automobile and a Malay
calling out, "Tuan! Tuan!" and I stepped from my bed to meet a friendly
looking man in a mackintosh, who proved to be Mr. B. Massey, the manager.
We talked together for an hour in the calm of a Bornean night. What he
said about the irregularity of the climatic conditions interested me. Two
years previously it had been so dry for a while that prahus could move
only in canals made in the river-bed. His friends had thought him mad to
come to Borneo, but he liked the climate better than that of Java. His
kind invitation to breakfast I declined with regret, because when one is
travelling it is very troublesome to change clothing, shave, and appear

We arrived at Pengaron at noon. The kapala of the district, a Malay with
the title of kiai, lived in a comfortable house formerly occupied by a
controleur, one room serving the purpose of a pasang-grahan. On our
arrival he was at the mosque, but returned in an hour. The vaccinateur was
already there, and by a lucky chance Ismail made his appearance, the
kapala from Mandin, whom the controleur thought would be useful, as he had
influence with Malays and Dayaks. The kiai, a remarkably genial man, was
the most agreeable Malay I met. He behaved like an European, bathed in the
bathroom, _a la_ Dutch, dressed very neatly, and had horses and carriage.
The hours were told by a bell from four o'clock in the morning, and two
clocks could be heard striking, one an hour ahead of the other.

In the afternoon, Mr. Krol, the mining engineer, returned from a trip of a
month's duration, wearing a pedometer around his neck. He had walked
twenty miles in the jungle that day. A Dayak who had accompanied him from
Pa-au, one day's march toward the east, gave me some information about the
giant pig, known to exist in Southern Borneo from a single skull which at
present is in the Agricultural High School Museum of Berlin. During my
Bornean travels I constantly made inquiries in regard to this enormous
pig, which is supposed to be as large as a Jersey cow. From information
gathered, Pa-au appears to be the most likely place where a hunt for this
animal, very desirable from a scientific point of view, might be started
with prospect of success. An otherwise reliable old Malay once told me
about a pig of extraordinary size which had been killed by the Dayaks many
years ago, above Potosibau, in the Western Division. The Dayaks of Pa-au,
judging from the one I saw and the information he gave, are Mohammedans,
speak Malay, and have no weapons but spears.

The vaccinateur started in advance of us to prepare the people for our
arrival. Our new paddlers, who were jolly and diligent men, brought their
rice packed in palm-leaves, one parcel for the men of each prahu. They use
leaves of the banana even more frequently for such purposes, as also do
Javanese and Dayaks, and spread on the ground they form a neat and
inviting setting for the food, serving the purpose of a fresh table-cloth.
The men ate rapidly with their fingers and afterward drank water from the
kali (river), throwing it into the mouth with the hand, as is the Malay


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