Through Central Borneo:
Part 6 out of 8
improbable that ironwood has any connection with this disorder, but Mr.
Berger, manager of the nearby rubber plantation, told me the following
facts, which may be worth recording: Six of his coolies slept in a room
with ironwood floor, and after a while their legs became swollen in the
manner which indicates beri-beri. He moved them to another room, gave them
katjang idju, the popular vegetable food, and they soon recovered. He then
replaced the ironwood floor with other material, and after that nobody who
slept in the room was affected in a similar way.
I met in Sampit three Dayaks from the upper country of the Katingan on
whom the operation of incision had been performed. According to reliable
reports this custom extends over a wide area of the inland, from the upper
regions of the Kapuas, Kahayan, and Barito Rivers in the east, stretching
westward as far as and including the tribes of the Kotawaringin. Also, in
the Western Division on the Upper Kapuas and Melawi Rivers, the same usage
obtains. In Bandjermasin prominent Mohammedans, one of them a Malay Hadji,
told me that the Malays also practise incision instead of circumcision.
The Malays, moreover, perform an operation on small girls, which the
Dayaks do not.
The controleur invited me to take part in a banquet which he gave to
celebrate the completion of a road. There were present Malay officials,
also Chinamen, and one Japanese. The latter, who arrived at Sampit one and
a half years before with forty florins, had since increased his capital to
a thousand through the sale of medicines to natives whom he reached by
going up the rivers. We were seated at three tables, twenty-eight guests.
The natives were given viands in addition to the menu provided, because
they must have rice. Their women had helped to cook--no small undertaking
for so many in an out-of-the-way place like Sampit. It was an excellent
dinner; such tender, well-prepared beef I had not enjoyed for a long time.
Claret, apollinaris, and beer were offered, the latter appearing to be the
favourite. Women were served in another room after the men had dined.
FOLKLORE OF SOME OF THE TRIBES IN DUTCH BORNEO VISITED BY THE AUTHOR
1. THE MOTHERLESS BOY
(From the Penyahbongs, kampong Tamaloe)
Ulung Tiung was left at home by his father who went out hunting. Borro,
the cocoanut-monkey, came and asked for food, but when Ulung gave him a
little he refused to eat it and demanded more. The boy, who was afraid of
him, then gave more, and Borro ate until very little remained in the
house. The monkey then said, "I am afraid of your father, and want to go
home." "Go," replied the boy, "but return again." When the father came
home in the evening he was angry that the food had been taken.
The following day when the father went out hunting, Borro again came
asking for food. The boy, at first unwilling, finally yielded; the monkey
ate with much gusto and as before wanted to go home. "Do not go," said the
boy, "my father is far away." "I smell that he is near," said Borro, and
When the father returned in the evening and saw that the food again had
been eaten he was very angry with the boy, who replied: "Borro ate it--I
did not take any." Whereupon the father said: "We will be cunning; next
time he comes tell him I have gone far away. Make a swing for him near
your mat, and when he is in it tie rattan around him and swing him."
The father went away and the monkey came again and asked for food, and got
it. When he had eaten the boy said: "You had better get into the swing
near my mat." Borro liked to do that and seated himself in it, while the
boy tied rattan around him and swung him. After a little while the monkey,
fearing that the father might come back, said he wanted to get out, but
the boy replied, "Father is not coming before the evening," at the same
time tying more rattan around him, and strongly, too.
The father came home and fiercely said: "You have been eating my food for
two days." Thereupon he cut off Borro's head, and ordered his son to take
him to the river, clean him, and prepare the flesh to be cooked. The boy
took Borro's body to the river, opened it and began to clean it, but all
the small fish came and said: "Go away! What you put into the water will
kill us." The boy then took the monkey some distance off and the big fish
came and said: "Come nearer, we want to help you eat him."
The sisters of Borro now arrived, and his brothers, father, children, and
all his other relatives, and they said to Ulung Tiung: "This is probably
Borro." "No," he said, "this is a different animal." Then the monkeys,
believing what he said, went away to look for Borro, except one of the
monkey children, who remained behind, and asked: "What are you doing
here?" "What a question!" the boy answered; "I am cutting up this animal,
The child then called all the monkeys to return, and they captured Ulung
Tiung and carried him to their house and wanted to kill him. "Don't kill
me," he said, "I can find fruit in the utan." The monkeys permitted him to
do that, and told him to return in the evening, but the boy said that
first he would have to dream.
In the morning the monkeys asked him what he had dreamed. "There is plenty
of fruit in the mountain far away," he answered, pointing afar, and all
the monkeys went out to the mountain leaving their wives and children
behind. When they were all gone Ulung Tiung killed the women and children
with a stick, and went home to his father. "I killed the women and
children," he declared, "but the men had not come back." "We will watch
for them with sumpitan," said his father, and when the monkeys returned
and found that all who had remained at home were dead, they began to look
for Ulung Tiung, but he and his father killed half of them with sumpitan
and the rest ran away.
NOTE.--Ulung Tiung is the name for a boy whose mother is dead, but whose
father is alive. For the sake of convenience I have maintained the Malay
name "borro" for the cocoanut-monkey.
2. THE FATHERLESS BOY
(From the Penyahbongs; kampong Tamaloe)
Ulung Ela made a fish-trap and when he returned next morning he found it
full of fish. He put them in his rattan bag, which he slung on his back
and started for home. As he walked, he heard an antoh, Aaton Kohang,
singing, and he saw many men and women, to whom he called out: "It is much
better you come to my place and sing there." Aaton Kohang said: "Very
well, we will go there." The boy continued his march, and when he came
home he gave one fish to his mother to roast, which she wrapped in leaves
and put on the live coals. He also prepared fish for himself, ate quickly,
and begged his mother to do the same. The mother asked: "Why do you hurry
so?" The boy, who did not want to tell her that he had called an antoh,
then said that it was not necessary to hurry.
After they had finished eating, in the evening Aaton Kohang arrived with
many men and many women. They tickled the mother and her boy under the
arms until they could not talk any more and were half dead, took what
remained of the fish, and went away. The two fell asleep, but ants bit
them in the feet and they woke up and saw that all the fish were gone.
"Ha!" they said: "Aaton Kohang did this," and they ran away.
NOTE.--Ulung Ela is the name for a boy whose father is dead, but whose
mother is alive.
3. THE TWO ORPHANS
(From the Penyahbongs; kampong Tamaloe)
Two small sisters, whose father and mother had died, went with the women
to look for sago. The tree was cut and the sago, after having been beaten,
was put into the large rattan bag. The younger child, who was sitting
close to the bag, dropped asleep and fell into it. The other girl came to
look for her sister but could not find her. She had disappeared, and when
the women saw that the bag was already full they all went home. On
returning next day they found plenty of sago inside of the tree, and had
no difficulty in filling their bags.
NOTE.--Ulung Ania is the name for the elder of the two girl orphans. Ulung
Kabongon is the name for the younger. When her elder sister died the
latter became obon, and her name became Obon Kabongon.
4. THE TREE OF WHICH ANTOH IS AFRAID
(From the Penyahbongs; kampong Tamaloe)
Tabedjeh wanted to go to the place where a girl, Inyah, was living. On the
way he met an antoh in the shape of a man with whom he began talking.
Antoh said: "I am going to catch Inyah and eat her." Tabedjeh then drew
his parang and cut off his head. But a new head grew, and many more, so
that Tabedjeh became afraid and fled, with antoh running after him. He
lost his parang, then, after a while, he stopped and took sticks to strike
antoh with, but every time he struck the stick was wrested from him, and
he had to take flight again.
He ran up on a mountain and antoh, in close pursuit, caught up with him
sitting on a fallen tree. Tabedjeh was tired and short of breath, but when
antoh saw what kind of a tree he was sitting on he said: "You may remain
there. I cannot eat you now because I am afraid of that tree." Tabedjeh
took a piece of the wood of the tree, which is called klamonang, and he
went to the house of Inyah to show her the tree of which antoh is afraid,
and they had their wedding at once.
5. LEAVES THAT BAFFLED ANTOH
(From the Penyahbongs; kampong Tamaloe)
Two brothers were walking in the utan, with sumpitans, when they met a pig
which one of them speared. The quarry became furious and attacked the
other one, but they helped each other and killed the pig, ate what they
wanted, and continued their hunting.
Next they met a rhino which they killed. As they began to take off the
hide, cutting into his chest, the rhino became alive again, and the hide
turned out to be the bark of a tree. The two ran home, but the rhino came
after them, so they again had to flee, pursued by him, until they came
across a small tree called mora, of which antoh is afraid. They gathered
some of the leaves, and as soon as the rhino saw that he ran away.
6. PENGANUN, THE HUGE SERPENT
(From the Penyahbongs; kampong Tamaloe)
The mother of Daring's wife ordered him to go out and hunt for animals to
eat, but said they would have to be without bones. He searched for a
month, and all that he got had bones. Finally he brought back a leech,
which she ate. Then she said: "Go and look for penganun," the huge serpent
with the golden horn. He met the monster and used all his poisoned darts
before it succumbed. He left it there and went home. "Have you got the big
serpent?" she asked him. "Yes!" he answered. She then went out to bring it
in, but she cut off only a little of the flesh, which she brought back. It
was cooked in bamboo, and the people in the house ate it, but before they
had finished the meal they became crazy--fifteen of them. The affected
ones, as well as the bamboo in which the cooking had been done, turned
into stone, but the meat disappeared. Daring and his wife, who had not
partaken of the meal, escaped.
NOTE.--There exists in Borneo a huge python, in Malay called sahua, which
is the basis for a superstitious belief in a monster serpent, called
penganun, the forehead of which is provided with a straight horn of pure
gold. The tale is possibly influenced by Malay ideas. The Penyahbongs have
a name for gold, bo-an, but do not know how to utilise the metal.
7. HOW THE PENGANUN WAS CAUGHT ALIVE
(From the Penyahbongs; kampong Tamaloe)
Two young girls, not yet married, went to fish, each carrying the small
oblong basket which the Penyahbong woman is wont to use when fishing,
holding it in one hand and passing it through the water. A very young
serpent, of the huge kind called penganun, entered a basket and the child
caught it and placed it on the bark tray to take it home.
Penganun ate all the fish on the tray, and the girls kept it in the house,
catching fish for it, and it remained thus a long time. When it grew to be
large it tried to eat the two girls, and they ran away to their mother,
who was working on sago, while their father was sleeping near by. Penganun
was pursuing them, and he caught the smaller one around the ankle, but the
father killed the monster with his sumpitan and its spear point. With his
parang he cut it in many pieces and his wife cooked the meat in bamboo,
and they all ate it.
NOTE.--Penganun, see preceding tale. The sumpitan (blow-pipe) has a spear
point lashed to one end, and thus also may serve as a spear.
8. THE FATHERLESS BOY
(From the Saputans; kampong Data Laong)
A woman was going to the ladang in the morning, and she said to her young
son, Amon Amang, whose father was dead: "When the sun comes over the tree
there you must begin to husk paddi." She then went away to the ladang
while the boy remained at home. He carried the paddi, as well as the
oblong wooden mortar, up into a tree. There he began to work, and the
mortar and the paddi and the boy all tumbled down because the branch
broke. A man helped the half-dead boy to come to his senses again,
throwing water on him, and when the mother returned she was very angry to
see the mortar broken and the paddi strewed all about. "I told you to husk
paddi in the house when the sun came over the tree," she said. "Better
that you now go and hunt birds."
The boy then decided to hunt. He climbed a tree and put up snares to catch
birds. He caught a great many big hornbills, which he fastened alive to
his loin cloth, and they began to fly, carrying the boy with them to a big
tree, where they loosened themselves from him, left him in a cleft, and
all flew away. The tree was very tall, but he climbed down a fig tree
which grew beside it, descended to the ground, and went home.
His mother was not pleased that he did not bring any birds, and he told
her what had happened. "Why all this?" she said. "You fell from the tree!
You should have killed the birds," she declared reproachfully.
NOTE.--Amon Amang means the husband's child. (Amon = father; Amang =
During my stay of two weeks at Data Lahong fortunate circumstances enabled
me to gather a considerable number of Saputan tales. Several prominent men
from neighbouring kampongs visited me and were willing to tell them, while
of equal importance was the fact that a Mohammedan Murung Dayak in my
party spoke the language well and made a very satisfactory interpreter.
On the other hand, I remained among the Penihings for many weeks, but the
difficulty of finding either men who knew folklore or who could interpret
well, prevented me from securing tales in that tribe. However, there is
strong probability that much of the folklore told me by the Saputans
originated with the Penihings, which is unquestionably the case with No.
16, "Laki Mae." The reason is not far to seek since the Saputans appear to
have been governed formerly by the Penihings, though they also are said to
have had many fights with them. According to information given me at Long
Tjehan, Paron, the Raja Besar in the kampong, until recent years was also
raja of the Saputans.
9. THE ANTOH WHO MARRIED A SAPUTAN
(From the Saputans; kampong Data Laong)
Dirang and his wife, Inyah, went out hunting with dogs, and got one pig.
She then cut rattan to bind the pig for carrying it home, and the man in
tying, broke the rattan. He became very angry and told his wife to look
for another piece of rattan. She went away and met an antoh in the shape
of a woman who asked her: "Where are you going?" "To look for rattan," was
the answer, and "What is your name?" Inyah asked. "I am Inyah Otuntaga,"
the antoh answered. Inyah then said: "Take this rattan and give it to my
Inyah Otuntaga brought the rattan to the man, who tied the babi all
around, and she took it up and carried it home. The man, meanwhile,
followed her, thinking it was his wife. She went to this side and that
side in the jungle, frequently straying. "What is the matter," he said,
"don't you know the way?" "Never mind," she retorted, "I forgot." Arriving
at the house she went up the wrong ladder, and the man was angry and said:
"Don't you know the right ladder?" She answered: "I cannot get up the
ladder." "Come up and walk in," he exclaimed, and began to think she was
She entered the room and slept there, lived with him ever after, and had
two children. His former wife, much incensed, went to the house of her
father, and after a while she had a child. Her little boy chanced to come
to the house of his father, who asked his name. "I am the son of Inyah,"
he said. Then the father learned where his former wife was, and he went to
fetch her, and afterward both wives and their children lived together.
10. LAKI SORA AND LAKI IYU
(From the Saputans; kampong, Data Laong)
Two men, Sora and Iyu, went into the utan to hunt with sumpitans. While
Iyu made a hut for the two, Sora went to look for animals and came across
a pig, which he killed. He brought the liver and the heart to the hut and
gave them to Iyu to cook. When the cooking was finished Iyu advised him of
it, and the two sat down to eat. It was already late in the afternoon and
Iyu, whose duty it was to fetch the pig, waited until next day, when he
went away to bring it in, but instead he ate it all by himself, and then
returned to the hut and told Sora what he had done. It was now late in the
evening and they both went to sleep. The following morning Sora went out
again with his sumpitan, but chased all day without meeting an animal, so
he took one root of a water-plant called keladi, as well as one fruit
called pangin, and went home. The keladi was roasted, but the fruit it was
not necessary to prepare. They then sat down to eat, but could not satisfy
their hunger, and Iyu was angry and asked why he brought so little. "I did
not bring more," Sora answered, "because it is probable the owner would
have been angry if I had." Iyu said: "Tomorrow I shall bring plenty."
Next morning Iyu came to the place where Sora had found the root and the
fruit, and he ate all that remained there, but this belonged to an antoh,
called Amenaran, and one of his children saw Iyu eat the root which he did
not cook, and also saw him climb the tree and eat the fruit. He went and
told his father, the antoh, who became angry, spoke to Iyu about it, and
wanted to know who had given him permission.
Iyu, who was up in the tree still gorging himself with fruit, said he was
not afraid and he would fight it out that evening. Amenaran stood below
and lightning poured forth from his mouth and thunder was heard. Iyu said:
"I have no spear, nor parang, but I will kill that antoh." And the big pig
he had eaten and all the roots and all the fruits that he had been feeding
on, an immense quantity of faeces, he dropped on Amenaran's head, and it
killed him. Iyu returned home and told Sora that he had put Amenaran to
death. They then went out and killed many animals with the sumpitan and
returned to the kampong. "Now that antoh is dead we can no more eat raw
meat nor much fruit," said Iyu. Long ago it was the custom to eat the meat
raw and much of it, as well as much fruit, and one man alone would eat one
pig and a whole garden. Now people eat little. With the death of antoh the
strong medicine of the food is gone, and the Saputans do not eat much.
NOTE.--Laki is the Malay word for man or male, adopted by many of the
tribes. The native word for woman, however, is always maintained. Keladi
is a _caladium_, which furnishes the principal edible root in Borneo.
11. THE WONDERFUL TREE
(From the Saputans; kampong Data Laong)
Tanipoi bore a female infant, and when the child had been washed with
water on the same day, the father gave her the name Aneitjing (cat). Years
passed, and the girl had learned to bring water in the bamboo and to crush
paddi. And the mother again became pregnant, and in due time had another
little girl which was called Inu (a kind of fruit).
Now, among the Saputans the custom long ago was that the woman who had a
child should do no work during forty days. She must not bring water, nor
husk paddi, nor cook. She remained in the house and took her bath in the
river daily. She slept much and ate pork cooked in bamboo, and rice, if
there was any, and she was free to eat anything else that she liked. Her
husband, Tanuuloi, who during this time had to do all the work, became
tired of it, and he said to his wife: "I cannot endure this any longer, I
would rather die."
After he had cooked the meal and they had eaten he said: "Take the two
children and go with me to the river." All four of them went into a prahu
which he paddled down stream until they came to a large rock in the middle
of the river, where he stopped it. They all climbed on the rock, and the
prahu he allowed to drift away. He then said to his wife: "You and I will
drown ourselves." "I cannot," she said, "because I have a small child to
suckle." He then tore the child from the mother's breast and placed it on
the rock. The two children and the mother wept, and he caught hold of one
of her hands, dragged her with him into the water, and they were both
The two children remained on the rock all day. After sunset Deer (rusa)
arrived. The older child called out; "Take me from here." And Deer came to
the stone and placed Aneitjing on his back, and behind her Inu, and
carried them ashore. Deer then made a clearing in the utan and built a hut
for them. He then went to the ladang to look for food, but before starting
he said to the children: "I am going to the ladang. Maybe I shall be
killed by the dogs. In that case you must take my right arm and my right
eye and bring them here."
Deer went away and was attacked by dogs. The two children heard the
barking, and when they arrived the dogs were gone and Deer was found dead.
The children took the right arm and the right eye and went home, made a
clearing and dug a hole, where the arm and the eye were placed, and they
covered the hole with earth. They often went to look at that place. After
twenty days they saw a sprout coming up, and in twenty years this had
grown into a big tree which bore all sorts of fruit and other good things.
From the tree fell durian, nangka, and many other kinds of delicious
fruit, as well as clothing, spears, sumpitans, gongs, and wang (money).
Rumour of this spread to the kampong, and two men arrived, Tuliparon, who
was chief, and his brother Semoring. They had heard of the two young
women, and they made a hut for themselves near by, but did not speak to
the girls. They went to sleep and slept day after day, a whole year, and
grass grew over them. Inu, the younger, who was the brighter of the two,
said to Aneitjing: "Go and wake these men. They have been sleeping a long
time. If they have wives and children in the kampong this will make much
trouble for all of them." Aneitjing then asked Tipang Tingai for heavy
rain. It came in the evening and flooded the land, waking the two men who
found themselves lying in the water. They placed their belongings under
the house of the women and went to the river to bathe. They then returned
and changed their chavats under the house. The women wanted to call to
them, but they were bashful, so they threw a little water down on them.
The men looked up and saw that there were women above and they ascended
the ladder with their effects.
The girls gave them food, and Tuliparon said to Inu: "I am not going to
make a long tale of it. If you agree I will make you my wife, and if you
do not agree, I will still make you my wife." Inu answered: "Perhaps you
have a wife and children in the kampong. If you have, I will not, but if
you have not, then I will." "I am free," he said, "and have neither wife
nor child." Reassured on this point she consented. His brother and
Aneitjing agreed in the same way. The women said that they wanted always
to live where they had the tree with so many good things. The men felt the
same way, and they went to the kampong and induced all the people to come
out there, and thus a new kampong was founded.
NOTE.--Tipang Tingai means the highest God, the same as the Malay Tuan
Allah. It is also used by the Penyahbongs.
12. MOHAKTAHAKAM WHO SLEW AN ANTOH
(From the Saputans; kampong Data Laong)
Once upon a time three brothers, Mohaktahakam, Batoni, and Bluhangoni,
started in the morning from the kampong and walked to another kampong
where Pahit, an antoh, had a fish-trap. They were intent on stealing the
fish, and as they went along they considered among themselves how they
could take it. Pahit was very strong, but Mohaktahakam said: "Never mind,
I am going to fight it out with him." Arriving there they let the water
out of the trap, and with parang and spear they killed lots of fish of
many kinds, filling their rattan bags with them. Taking another route they
hurried homeward. Their burdens were heavy, so they could not reach the
kampong, but made a rough shelter in the usual way on piles, the floor
being two or three feet above the ground. They cut saplings and quickly
made a framework, called tehi, on which the fish were placed. Underneath
they made a big fire which smoked and cured them. In the morning they had
boiled rice and fish to eat, and then went out to hunt for animals with
sumpitan. The fish meanwhile remained on the tehi, the fire being kept
Pahit found his trap dry and no fish there. "Why have people been bold
enough to take the fish?" he said to himself. "They don't know I am strong
and brave"; and, very angry, he followed their tracks. He had gone
scarcely half-way when he smelled the fish, which was very fat. When he
arrived at the camp he found the fish over the fire, but nobody there. He
gathered some leaves together behind the camp and sat down upon them to
wait the arrival of the men.
In the afternoon Batoni and Bluhangoni returned to camp carrying much pig
and deer. He immediately caught hold of both of them, lifted them up and
brought them down with force upon the rough floor of the hut, and both
died. Pahit saw that places had been made for three men to sleep, and
knowing that there must be another man coming he decided to wait. The two
bodies he placed under the hut, on the ground. After a while Mohaktahakam
came, carrying pig, deer, rhino, wild ox, and bear, and threw it all down
near the drying fish, to cook it later. He was tired, having walked all
day, and went up into the hut to smoke tobacco. Pahit saw this and went
after him. He caught hold of the man to throw him down, but could not lift
him. Mohaktahakam, very angry, caught Pahit by the arms, lifted him up,
threw him against the floor and killed him. "Pahit spoke of being strong
and brave, but I am stronger," he said.
Mohaktahakam then made his brothers come to life again, and they cleaned
all the animals they had caught and placed the meat on a tehi to dry and
smoke. Then they cooked meat in bamboo and ate, afterward going to sleep.
During the night one of them at times mended the fire, which was kept
burning. In the morning, after eating, they went home to the kampong,
carrying bags full of meat and fish.
NOTE.--Tehi, a framework for drying fish or meat, is called in Malay,
13. THE MAGIC BABI BONE
(From the Saputans; kampong Data Laong)
Dirang left the kampong to hunt for heads, with three prahus and many men,
armed with parangs, shields, sumpitans, and spears, and they also carried
some rice for provisions. After a while the people who remained behind
became very hungry, and one day Inyah, the wife of Dirang, went out to
look for bamboo shoots to eat. She met a small babi (pig), caught it, and
brought it home. In the kampong she asked the men to help her make a shed
The babi, which was male, grew bigger and bigger. It was very strong, and
when dogs, cats, or hens came near the shed it would kill and eat them. It
was fierce and angry because it had not enough to eat, and finally it
turned the shed over and killed and ate all the people. No one escaped but
Inyah, who fled to another kampong, where she asked for help and the
people permitted her to remain there.
Shortly afterward the babi arrived. All the people heard the noise it made
as it came through the utan, breaking the jungle down. They said to Inyah:
"You would better run away from here. We are afraid he may eat us." Inyah
went away, trying to reach another kampong. She got there and asked for
help against the man-eating babi. Hardly had she received permission to
remain before a great noise was heard from the babi coming along. The
people, frightened, asked her to pass on, and she ran to another kampong.
There was a woman kapala in that kampong who lived in a house that hung in
the air. Inyah climbed the ladder, which was drawn up after her. The babi
came and saw Inyah above, but could not reach her, and waited there many
Dirang, who was on his way back from the headhunting expedition, came down
the river, and he said to one of his companions: "It is well to stop here
and make food." This chanced to be close to the place where Inyah was.
They went ashore to make camp. Some of them went out to search for wood
and met the babi, who attacked them, and they fled to their prahus. When
Dirang, who was an antoh, saw his men on the run, he became very angry,
went after the babi, and cut off its head. His men cut up the body and
cooked the meat in bamboo, near the river, sitting on a long, flat rock.
They ate much, and Dirang said that he now wanted to paddle down to the
kampong, so they all started. Inyah had seen Dirang, and she said to the
woman kapala: "Look! There is my husband. No other man would have been
brave enough to kill the babi." The woman kapala said: "I should like to
have such a husband if I wanted one, but I am afraid of a husband." Inyah
said: "I want to go down." And she walked over to the place where the men
had been sitting on the rock, went upon it, and accidentally stepped on a
bone left from the meal, which hit her on the inside of the right ankle.
The bone was from the right hind leg of the babi, and was sharp, so it
drew a little blood from the ankle.
She felt pain and went back to the house. Some time later the leg began to
swell, and as time passed it grew bigger and bigger. The woman kapala
said: "There must be a child inside." "If that is the case," said Inyah,
"then better to throw it away." "No, don't do that. Wait until the child
is born and I will take care of it," said the kapala. When her time had
come the child arrived through the wound made by the babi bone, and the
kapala washed the child and took care of it. When two months old the child
was given the name Obongbadjang. When he was fifteen years old he was as
strong as Dirang.
Dirang had brought many heads to the kampong, but finding all the people
dead and houses fallen down, he became angry and killed the slaves he had
brought back. He then went out on another hunt for heads. When the prahus
passed the kampong where Inyah was, all the people in the house saw them,
and Obongbadjang, her young son, who had heard much of Dirang, went down
to see him. "Where are you going?" asked Dirang. "I want to go with you,"
answered the boy. Dirang liked him, and let him into the prahu.
They travelled far and wide, and finally came to the kampong which they
wanted to attack. Dirang went in from one end of the house and
Obongbadjang from the other, and they cut the heads from all the people,
men, women, and children, and met in the middle of the house. Dirang was
wondering who this young man was who was strong like himself and not
afraid. "My name is Obongbadjang," he said, "the son of Dirang and Inyah."
He then ran away, although Dirang tried to keep him back, and he ran until
he arrived where his mother was.
On seeing his son run away Dirang felt "sick in his throat," then
collected all the heads, comprising the population of the whole kampong,
put them in the prahus, and returned to look for his son and wife. He
stopped at the same place where he had killed the big babi and made a hut.
He then went to look for Obongbadjang and Inyah. When he was walking under
the house, which was high up in the air, Inyah threw a little water down
on him. He turned his head up and saw there was a house, but there was no
ladder and he could not get up. They put out the ladder and he went up and
met Inyah again, who, until then, he did not know was alive. He also met
his son, and after remaining a little while he took them away to rebuild
NOTE.--"Sick in his throat," Saputan mode of speech for deep emotional
depression, is similar to our "feeling a choking in the throat." The
Malays say: "Sick in his liver."
For the sake of convenience the Malay name babi for a pig, perfectly known
to the Dayaks, has been maintained in this tale.
14. WHEN HUSBAND AND WIFE ARE ANTOHS
(From the Saputans; kampong Data Laong)
There were many young men who wanted to marry Inu Songbakim, a young girl,
but she liked only one man, Monjang Dahonghavon, and, having obtained the
consent of her father and mother, he shared her mat. One day he went out
to work, making planks with his axe, while she remained at home cooking.
When she had prepared the food she took it to him, and when she arrived at
the place where he was working he looked at her as he was cutting with the
axe and hurt himself. He died, and his father came and took the corpse to
the house. Being an antoh he restored the life of his son, who became very
angry with his wife for being the cause of his death. He wanted to kill
her, but as she was very strong he could not do it, and instead, with his
parang, killed her father and mother. His wife, in turn, became filled
with wrath, and with a parang killed his father and mother.
The young man then left her to look for another wife, but could not find
any that was to his liking, strong and good-looking, so after a while he
decided to return to the wife he already had. "I like you much," she said,
"but if you want to have me again you must make my father and mother alive
again." "I will do that," he answered, "if you first will restore to life
my father and mother." They were both antohs, so there was a general
return to life, and the people from the two kampongs to which the families
belonged came together and made the kampongs into one.
15. THE WOMAN, THE BIRD, AND THE OTTER
(From the Saputans; kampong Data Laong)
Many young men courted Ohing Blibiching, but she was difficult to please.
Finally, she favoured Anyang Mokathimman because he was strong, skilful in
catching animals, brave in head-hunting. She said: "Probably you have a
wife." "No, I am alone," he said, and her father and mother having given
consent, they then lived together.
After a while he said: "I want to go away and hunt for heads." She said:
"Go, but take many men with you. If you should be sick, difficulties would
be great." She then made rice ready in a basket, calculating that on a
long journey they would depend more on the sago found in the utan. They
would also kill animals for food, therefore, in addition to their parangs,
the men took sumpitans along.
"If we have any mishaps," he said, "I shall be away two months. If not, I
shall be back in a month." She remained in the kampong guarded by her
father, mother, and other people, and after a while many young men began
to pay her attention, telling her: "He has been away a long time. Maybe he
will not return." One day at noon when she was filling her bamboo
receptacles in the river as usual, taking a bath at the same time, she saw
a fish sleeping, and caught it. She then lifted on her back the big-meshed
rattan bag which held the bamboo receptacles, all full of water, and went
home, carrying the fish in her hand. Before cooking it she went to husk
The bird Teong, who had heard she was beautiful, saw her and he liked her
much. He flew to a tree from which he could get a good look at her where
she was husking the paddi. In admiration he jumped from branch to branch
until a dead one broke which fell down and wounded young Otter in the
river under the tree. The mother of Otter became angry with Bird Teong for
the injury. "I have been in this tree quite a while," Bird answered,
"because I like to look at that woman. I did not know Otter was
underneath. If you want damages, ask that woman there." "Why should I pay
Otter?" the woman said. "I did not call Bird Teong. I have just finished
pounding and am going to cook fish. This case we will settle tomorrow. I
am hungry now." She went away and so did Bird and Otter. She cooked rice
in one bamboo and the fish in another. Then she ate, after which she went
to the river as the sun was setting, to take her bath. She soon went to
Early the next morning she made her usual tour to the river to bring water
and take her bath, and when she had eaten, Bird and Otter arrived. Otter
wanted damages from Bird, and Bird insisted that the woman should pay. She
repeated that she knew nothing of Bird and had not asked him to come. As
they were arguing, to her great relief her husband arrived. He brought
many prisoners and many heads. "It is well you have come," she said. "Bird
and Otter have made a case against me. I was husking paddi, and Bird liked
to look at me. I did not know he was there in the tree for a long time. A
branch fell down and wounded Otter's child, making her very angry, and she
asks damages from me." "This case is difficult," the husband answered. "I
must think it over." After a while he said: "The best thing to do is to
give food to both." Bird was given fruit to eat and Otter fish, and they
went home satisfied. All the people of the kampong gathered and rejoiced
at the successful head-hunting. They killed pigs and hens, and for seven
nights they ate and danced.
NOTE.--When an attack on men is decided upon the sumpitan is hidden and
left behind after the spear-head has been detached from it and tied to a
long stick. This improvised spear is the principal weapon on head-hunting
raids, as well as on the chase after big game. The bird, called by the
Saputans teong, is common, of medium size, black with yellow beak, and
yellow around the eyes, also a little red on the head. It learns easily to
talk, and is also common in Java.
16. LAKI MAE
(From the Saputans; kampong Data Laong)
The wife of Laki Mae was pregnant and wanted to eat meat, so she asked her
husband to go out hunting. He brought in a porcupine, wild hens, kidyang,
pig, and deer, and he placed all the meat on the tehi, to smoke it over
fire, that it should keep. But the right hind leg of the porcupine was
hung up by itself unsmoked, to be eaten next day. They had their evening
meal and then went to sleep. In the night she bore an infant son, and,
therefore, next morning another woman came to do the cooking. She took the
hind leg and before proceeding to cook it, washed it. It slipped through a
hole in the floor to the ground underneath. Looking through the hole she
saw a small male child instead of the leg, and she told Mae of this.
"Go and take this child up and bring it here. It is good luck," he said.
"It is my child too." It was brought up to the room and washed and laid to
the wife's breast, but the child would not suckle. Mae said: "It is best
to give him a name now. Perhaps he will suckle then." He then asked the
child if it wanted to be called Nonjang Dahonghavon, and the child did
not. Neither did it want Anyang Mokathimman, nor Samoling, nor Samolang.
It struck him that perhaps he might like to be called Sapit (leg) Tehotong
which means "Porcupine Leg," and the child began to suckle at once. The
child of the woman was given a name two months later, Lakin Kudyang.
For two years the mother suckled the two, and then they were old enough to
play behind the houses of the kampong. They saw many birds about, and they
asked their father to give each of them a sumpitan. When they went out
hunting the human boy got one bird, but the other boy got two. Next time
the woman's son killed a plandok (mouse-deer), but the other one secured a
pig. Their father was angry over this and said to "Porcupine Leg": "Go and
kill the two old bears and bring the young ones here." He had recently
seen two bears, with one cub each, under the roots of a tree in the
neighbourhood. The boy went, and the bears attacked him and tried to bite
him, but with his parang he killed both of them, and brought the cubs
along to the kampong, bringing besides the two dead bears. The father
again sent him out, this time to a cave where he knew there were a pair of
tiger-cats and one cub. "Go and kill the pair and bring the cub here," he
said. Again the boy was successful. Laki Mae did not like this and was
In the evening "Porcupine Leg" said to his brother: "I have a long time
understood that father is angry with me. Tomorrow morning I am going away.
I am not eating, and I will look for a place to die." His brother began to
weep, and said he would go with him. Next morning they told their father
they were going to hunt for animals and birds. But when they did not
return in the evening, nor later, the mother said: "I think they will not
come back." Half a month later many men attacked the kampong. Laki Mae
fought much and was tired. "If the boys had remained this would not have
happened," the people said angrily to him. In the meantime the human son
began to long to return, and he persuaded "Porcupine Leg" to accompany
him. They both came back and helped to fight the enemy, who lost many dead
NOTE.--This story is also found with the Penihings, from whom undoubtedly
it is derived. _Laki_, see No. 10. _Tehi_, see No. 12.
17. SEMANG, THE BAD BOY
(From the Long-Glats; kampong Long Tujo)
A woman called Daietan had one child, Semang, who was a bad boy. He was
lazy, slept day and night, and did not want to make ladang nor plant any
banana nor papaya trees. His mother angrily said to him: "Why don't you
exert yourself to get food?" Semang said: "Well, I will go tomorrow to
search for something to eat."
At sunrise next morning he went away in a prahu, paddling up-stream. He
reached a kampong, and the name of the raja here was Anjangmaran. He could
find no food, so he went on to the next kampong, and to another, but had
no success, so he continued his journey, and then arrived at the fourth
kampong. There were no people here. It was a large kampong with many
houses, and grass was growing everywhere.
He went up into a room and there he found all sorts of goods; salt, gongs,
many tempaians (large Chinese urns) in which paddi was stored, and
tobacco. Semang said to himself, "I am rich. Here is all that I need." And
he lay down to sleep. In the night Deer (rusa) arrived and called out: "Is
there any one here?" He ascended the ladder and lay down near the cooking
place. Semang heard him, but was afraid to move, and slept no more. In the
night he heard Deer talk in his sleep: "Tomorrow morning I am going to
look for a small bottle with telang kliman. It is underneath the pole in
front of the house."
Semang said: "Who is talking there?" Deer waked up and became frightened,
ran down the ladder, and got into Semang's prahu, where he went to sleep.
Before dawn Semang arose and walked down toward the prahu. On his way he
saw an ironwood pole in front of the room, went up to it, and began to dig
under it. He found a small bottle which he opened, and he put his first
finger into it. He was astonished to see that his finger had become white,
and he said: "This must be good to put on the body." He poured some into
his hollowed hand and applied it all over his body and hair. His body
became white and his clothes silken.
Pleased with this, Semang ascended the ladder, gathered together all the
goods that he had found in the room, and began taking them to the prahu.
There he found Deer asleep, and killed him with his spear. After bringing
all the goods from the house to the prahu, Semang started down-stream.
Owing to the magic liquid his prahu had become very large, and carried
much, much goods, as well as the dead deer.
He travelled straight for the kampong, where he caught sight of his
mother. "O, mother!" he cried, and went up the ladder carrying the bottle.
He washed his mother with the liquid. She became young and beautiful, and
it also gave her many beautiful garments. By the same aid Semang made the
room handsome. Everything became changed instantly. The ceiling was of
ironwood, and the planks of the floor were of a wood called lampong, which
resembles cedar. Large numbers of brass vessels were there, and many gongs
were brought from the prahu, besides a great quantity of various goods.
The mother said: "This is well, Semang." She felt that she no longer had
cause to be troubled; that whatever she and Semang might need would come
without effort on their part.
NOTE.--According to Long-Glat belief, the deer, called in Malay rusa,
possesses a magic liquid which enables it to restore the dead to life. The
name of the liquid is telang kliman (telang = liquid; kliman = to make
18. ADVENTURES IN PURSUIT OF MAGIC
(From the Long-Glats, kampong Long Tujo)
Once there lived a woman, Boamaring, who was Raja Besar in a large kampong
where people did not know how to work. They could not make ladangs nor
prahus. Everything they needed came to them of its own accord, and the
rajas of the neighbouring kampongs were afraid of her. This is the way it
She heard a rumour of a musical instrument which could play by itself, and
which had the power of bringing all necessary food. She said to her
husband, whose name was Batangnorang, "Go to the limit of the sky and
bring the instrument that plays by itself." Putting on tiger skin, and
carrying his parang and sumpitan, Batangnorang went into a small prahu
which was able to fly, and it flew one month, to the end of the sky. He
landed in a durian tree, near a small house covered with the tail feathers
of the hornbill. Its walls were of tiger skins, the ridgepole, as well as
the poles of the framework, were made of brass, and a carving of the naga
stood out from each gable.
He heard music from inside the house, and saw a woman dancing alone to the
tune of the instrument that played by itself. She was the antoh of the end
of the sky, and he knew that she ate people, so he was afraid to come
down, for many men since long ago had arrived there and had been eaten.
Many corpses of men could be seen lying on the ground. From his bamboo
cask he took a small arrow, placed it in his sumpitan, and then blew it
out toward the dancing woman. The arrow hit the woman in the small of the
back, and she fell mortally wounded. Then he flew down to the house,
finished killing her with his spear, and cut her head off with his parang.
He then went up to her room and took the musical instrument, her beautiful
clothing, and beads, and placed all, together with the head, in his prahu.
He also took many fine rattan mats, burned the house, and flew away in the
sky. After a month he arrived in his kampong and returned to his wife.
"Here is the musical instrument you wanted," he said. "Good!" she
answered, "what else did you hunt for?"
He placed it on the floor and asked it to play by striking it one time.
Sugar, boiled rice, durian, cocoanuts began to fall down, also tobacco,
salt, clothing--all the good things that they could wish for. The Raja
Besar was greatly pleased and was all smiles, and the people of her
kampong no longer found it necessary to work. Everything that they needed
came when they wished for it, and all enjoyed this state of things.
When a month had passed she learned of a woman's hair ornament which was
to be found in the river far away. It was of pure gold, and when one hung
it up and struck it all sorts of food would drop from it. "Go and get
that," she told her husband. "It is in a cave underneath the waters of the
Batangnorang made himself ready. He put on tiger skin, placed on his head
a rattan cap with many tail feathers of the hornbill fastened to it, took
his parang, his shield adorned with human hair, and his sumpitan. But he
did not carry mats for bedding, nor food. He had only to wish for these
things and they came. He then said farewell to his wife in a way that the
Long-Glats use when departing on a long journey. She sat on the floor, and
bending down he touched the tip of his nose to the tip of hers, each at
the same time inhaling the breath as if smelling.
Batangnorang departed, stopping on the river bank, where he stood for a
time looking toward the East, and calling upon the antoh Allatala. Then he
went into the water, dived, and searched for ten days until he found the
cave, inside of which there was a house. This was the home of the
crocodile antoh, and was surrounded by men, some of them alive, some half
dead, and many dead.
Crocodile was asleep in his room, and all was silent. Batangnorang went up
on the gallery and sat down. After waiting a long time Crocodile awoke. He
smelt man, went to the door which he opened a little, enough to ascertain
what this was, and he saw Batangnorang. Then he passed through it and said
to the stranger: "How did you come here? What is your name?" "I come from
the earth above. I am Batangnorang." He was afraid antoh would eat him,
and Crocodile's sister being his mother he added timidly: "I have a
mother. I do not know of a father," he continued. "My mother, your sister,
told me to go and meet my father down in the water." "What necessity was
there for my child to come here?" asked Crocodile. "I am looking for a
woman's hair ornament of gold," he answered. Crocodile said: "If you are
my child then I will cook rice for you."
They both went into the room, which was fine, made of stone; the roof was
of gold, and there were many gongs and much goods there. Crocodile cooked
rice, but as he wanted to try the stranger he took one man from those
outside, cut him into many pieces, and made a stew. He then told him to
eat, and being afraid to do otherwise, Batangnorang ate it. Crocodile then
said: "Truly you are my child. Another man would not have eaten this
After the meal Crocodile put the remainder of the food away, with a tiny
key opened a small steel trunk, took out the gold ornament, and gave it to
Batangnorang. "Give this to your mother, Crocodile. When she wants to use
it, hang it up and place a beautiful mat underneath. Then strike it one
time with the first finger. Whatever you ask for must come."
Batangnorang took the hair ornament and placed it in the pocket of his
shirt, put on his parang, and took his spear and shield. He then said
farewell, and as he walked away he suddenly turned and thrust his spear
into Crocodile's breast and killed him. Batangnorang carried away all that
he desired, diamonds as large as hens' eggs, and much gold. He then went
home, ascended to the room where his wife sat, and laid his weapons away.
He seated himself near his wife and produced the ornament. "I got this,"
and handed it to her. "How do you use it?" she asked. He hung it up by a
string and placed a fine rattan mat underneath. All the people in the
kampong gathered to see this, women, men, and children. He then struck it
with his first finger, when lo! and behold! there fell all around pork,
boiled rice, vegetable stew, sugar-cane, papaya, durian, bananas,
pineapples, and white onions. All present ate as long as they were able,
and food continued to fall. After that people slept at night and arose in
the morning to eat and do no work, because all that they wished for was
NOTE.-The flying prahu, mentioned in this legend, plays an important part
in the religious exercises of the Ot-Danum, Katingan, and Kahayan. See
Chapter XXXI. The head ornament of women is different in this tribe from
those observed elsewhere in Borneo. It may be seen in the back view of the
three Long-Giat women in Chapter XXVI. The tale shows Malay influence by
such expressions as gold, diamonds, brass, shirt pocket, bottle. Allatala,
the rendering of the Mahommedan Tuan Allah, is accepted as an antoh also
by certain Dayak tribes in Southern Borneo. Steel trunks, as sold by
Chinese or Malays, are much in favour with the Dayaks, and were observed
wherever I travelled. It is one of the first articles that those who have
taken part in an expedition to New Guinea will buy to take home. White
onions are usually to be procured on travels among the Dayaks, and of
course are not originally indigenous, no more than are sugarcane and
pineapples (both scarce, especially the latter), cassava and red peppers.
The non-Dayak expressions do not necessarily imply that the legend is
Malay. The one circumstance that might lend colour to this belief is that
in this legend, as well as in the preceding (Semang), both of which were
told me by the same man, the beauty of idle life is glorified. This seems
to be more a Malay than a Dayak quality. I was not long enough among the
Long-Glats to be able to decide on this point. Circumstances favour a
non-Malay origin. My informant, the kapala of Long Tujo, who showed Malay
influence (see Chapter XXVI), may have embellished his narrative by his
acquired knowledge of things foreign. He was in reality a thorough Dayak,
and he had scruples about telling me these stories. He hesitated,
especially in regard to the one related, because it might injure him much
to let me know that one. The Long-Glat leave-taking, described, is called
_ngebaw_ (to smell) _laung_ (nose).
19. THE ORANG-UTAN AND THE DAYAK
(From the Ot-Danums; kampong Gunong Porok, Upper Kahayan River)
There was a man who, in grief and sorrow over the death of his wife, his
children, and others, left his house and went far into the utan. Feeling
tired he lay down to rest under a great lanan tree. While he slept a
female orang-utan, which had its nest in the same tree and had been away
hunting for food, came home, lifted the man in her arms, and carried him
to her nest high up in the branches. When he awoke it seemed impossible
for him to climb down, so he remained there. Each day she brought him
fruit of various kinds, also occasionally boiled rice, stolen from the
houses of the ladangs. After a few days she began to take liberties with
him. At first the man declined her advances and she became angry, showing
her teeth and nails. Finally she bit him in the shoulder, and then he
surrendered. The man remained in the tree over a year. Although anxious to
escape he feared the revenge of the orang-utan too much to make the
attempt. In due time a male child was born who was human, but covered with
One day when she was absent seeking food he saw a sailing ship approach
the coast and put out a boat for hauling water from the river near by.
Hastily stringing his garments together he began the descent, but the rope
was not long enough; however, by letting himself drop part of the distance
he succeeded in getting down, and went away in the boat. Not finding him
at home the orang-utan tried to swim to the ship, but the distance was too
great. She then ascended the tree, and, in full view of the ship as it
sailed away, she lifted the child and tore it in twain.
NOTE.--The Dayaks insist that this animal can swim, and my informant, a
trustworthy Kahayan, said he had seen it. The orang-utan spends most of
his time in the trees, seldom descending to the ground. That the one in
this case is assumed to follow the daily habit of the Dayak is in
accordance with the spirit of folk-lore.
20. BRANAK, THE ANTOH
(From the Ot-Danums, of the Upper Kahayan River)
A man called Mai Boang (father of Boang) had a very good-looking son who
owned a fine big male dog, and when the child grew to be old enough he
used the animal for hunting. One day when the dog was following the tracks
of a deer he came into a long, long cave and Boang followed. To pass
through the cave consumed thrice the time required to cook rice. Emerging
on the other side the dog and the boy arrived at a house where there was a
handsome woman. As darkness was falling he asked if he might stay over
night, and she gave permission, the dog remaining under the house. Each
was attracted by the other, so they passed the night together. Boang
remained there, and in time she bore him a son. She possessed a female
dog, and the two dogs had two male and two female pups.
Two or three years later Boang wanted to see his father and mother. She
said: "I will go with you for a short time." With wife and child he went
away, but he soon had to return because she did not like his country, of
which the language and everything else was different. They came back,
lived long, and had many children. Her name was Kamkamiak and she had
long, long nails. When he was disinclined to comply with her wishes she
forced him by using her nails on a tender spot. She shows herself to-day
as alang, the black hawk.
The descendants of this pair are also Kamkamiak, evil antohs of women at
childbirth. The offspring of the dogs is another kind of antoh, called
Penyakit (sickness). One of these appears in the form of a large goat
which is seen only occasionally. It bites in the neck and the throat, the
wounds are invisible, and the victim must die on the second or third day.
When the descendants of Mai Boang are ill they become better when relating
the story of Boang.
NOTE.--The handsome woman who figures in this story is an evil antoh which
afflicts women at childbirth and by the Ot-Danums and others is called
Kamkamiak, the one with the long nails. She is also commonly known by the
name Branak. She causes the woman to lose much blood and to have pain in
the uterus, the nails of the antoh playing an important part in these
conditions. Men who work in the utan gathering rubber, rattan, etc., are
liable to get a disorder under the scrotum that looks like scratches, and
which ulcerate and may be troublesome for several months or a year. These
are ascribed to the long nails of the antoh, Branak, and sacrifices of
sugar and eggs are offered.
Pontianak, the well-known town in the Western Division of Dutch Borneo, is
the name of another good-looking female antoh, who causes injury to women
Some evil antohs, by Kahayans and others called kuyang, also select
maternity victims. They are believed to fly through the air at night,
appearing like fireflies, and enter the woman through head, neck, or
stomach, doing much harm. They are supposed to suck blood, and when a
woman dies at childbirth from bleeding, the belief is that it was caused
by these evil spirits that in the daytime appear as ordinary human beings.
They are also able to suck blood from men and kill them. The goat is at
times an antoh, as is also the case with the water-buffalo, which may
appear in dreams and cause illness.
The period of time required for "cooking rice" mentioned in the tale is
called one pemasak, equal to about half an hour.
21. THE PATIN FISH
(From the Katingans; kampong Talinka)
A Dayak went fishing and caught a patin which he took home in his prahu.
He left the fish there and advised his wife, who went to fetch it. Upon
approach she heard the crying of an infant, the fish having changed into a
child, and she took it up, brought it home, gave it to eat and drink, and
clothed it. The little one proved to be a girl who grew to womanhood,
married, and had children. She said to her husband: "As long as we are
married you must never eat patin."
After a time the husband saw another man catch a patin, and feeling an
irresistible desire to eat the fat, delicious-looking fish, he was
presented with a portion which he took to his house and cooked. Seeing
this, his wife for the second time said: "Why do you eat patin? You do not
like me." "I must have this," he said, and he ate, and also gave it to his
children to eat. "I am not human," she said, "I am patin, and now I will
return to the water. But mind this: If you or your descendants ever eat
patin you will be ill." And she went down to the river and became fish
again. Since that time her descendants do not eat patin, even when they
accept Islam. Some have dared to break the rule, and they have become ill
with fever and diarrhoea, accompanied by eruptions, abscesses, and open
sores on the arms and legs. The remedy is to burn the bones of the fish
and waft the smoke over the patient. For internal use the bones pulverised
and mixed with water are taken.
NOTE.--This fish, by the Dutch called meerval, is said to be about a metre
long, and though eaten with impunity by some, its flesh is evidently
poisonous, and, according to reports, if taken will cause the flesh to
fall from the bones. In accordance with a custom apparently universal
among Dayaks, of leaving quarry for the women to bring home, the patin
when caught is usually left at the landing float to be disposed of by the
wife of the fisherman.
The Kiai Laman, a Kahayan, and a Mohammedan, who related the story, does
not eat this fish, nor water turtle. Mr. B. Brouers, of Bandjermasin,
whose mother was a Dayak noble from the Lower Kahayan, was instructed by
her never to eat turtle. He, being a Dutchman, disregards this and nothing
has ever happened, as he said, but he added that an acquaintance who did
likewise lost the skin of his finger-tips.
22. THE STORY OF THE BIRD PUNAI
(From the Kahayans of Kuala Kapuas)
Long, long ago a man was catching punai with sticks to which glue had been
applied. One was caught under the wing and fell to the ground. As he went
to take it up it flew away a short distance. This happened several times,
but at last he seized it, when suddenly it changed to a woman. He brought
her to his house and said he wanted to make her his wife. "You may," she
replied, "but you must never eat punai." This story happened in ancient
times when many antohs were able to change into human beings.
The woman bore him many children. One day, when in a friend's house,
people were eating punai, and he also ate some of it. His wife learned
this and said to him: "I hear that you have eaten punai. You don't like
me. I shall become a bird again." Since then her descendants have never
eaten this bird, because they know that their great, great, great
grandmother was a punai.
NOTE.--The punai is a light-green pigeon. Mata Punai (the eye of punai) is
one of the most common decorative designs of many Dayak tribes.
In the beginning there were mountain-tops and sea between them. Gradually
the sea subsided and the land appeared. A man and a woman living on such a
mountain-top had a son. One day a typhoon lifted him in the air and
carried him off to Java, where he arrived in the house of a rich Javanese.
This was long before the Hindu kingdom of Modjopahit. In this house he
remained many years, and showed much intelligence and industry in his
work, which was to cut wood, fish, look after the poultry, and clean the
rooms. It was not necessary to give him orders, for he understood
everything at a glance. By and by he became a trader, assisting his
patron. Finally he married the rich man's only daughter, and after living
happily a long time he remembered his parents, whom he had left in Borneo,
desired to visit them, and asked his wife to accompany him.
They went in two ships, and, after sailing a month or more, came to a
mountain, for there was no river then. When the ships arrived, prahus came
out to ask their errand. "I am looking for my father and mother whom I
left long ago," said the owner. They told him that his father was dead,
but that his mother still lived, though very old.
The people went and told her that her son had come to see her. She was
very poor, for children there were none, and her husband was dead. Wearing
old garments, and in a dilapidated prahu, she went out to the ships, where
she made known that she wanted to see her anak (child). The sailors
informed the captain that his mother was there, and he went to meet her,
and behold! an old woman with white hair and soiled, torn clothing. "No!"
he said, "she cannot be my mother, who was beautiful and strong." "I am
truly your mother," she replied, but he refused to recognise her, and he
took a pole (by which the prahus are poled) and drove her off.
She wept and said: "As I am your mother, and have borne you, I wish that
your wife, your ships, and all your men may change into stone." The sky
became dark, and thunder, lightning, and storm prevailed. The ships, the
men, and the implements, everything, changed into stone, which today may
be seen in these caves.
NOTE.--In the neighbourhood of Kandangan, a small town northward from
Bandjermasin, are two mountains, one called gunong batu laki: the mountain
of the stone man, the other gunong batu bini: the mountain of the stone
wife. They contain large caves with stalactite formations which resemble
human beings, ships, chairs, etc. The natives here visualise a drama
enacted in the long gone-by, as related.
The Ex-Sultan of Pasir, a Malay then interned by the government in
Bandjermasin, who was present when this story was told to me by a
Mohammedan Kahayan, maintained that it is Dayak and said that it is also
known in Pasir (on the east coast). Although the fact that the scene is
laid in a region at present strongly Malay does not necessarily give a
clew to the origin of the tale, still its contents are not such as to
favour a Dayak source.
In closing this account of my investigations in Borneo it seems
appropriate to comment briefly regarding the capabilities and future
prospects of the tribes in Dutch Borneo comprised under the popular term
Dayaks. We have seen that these natives are still inclined to the
revolting habit of taking heads. In their dastardly attacks to accomplish
this purpose, though moved by religious fanaticism, they show little
courage. On the other hand they exhibit traits of character of which a
civilised community might well be proud.
They are honest, trustworthy, and hospitable. In their kampongs a lonely
stranger is safe from molestation and a white man travelling with them is
far safer than with the Malays. They are able woodcraftsmen, and
strikingly artistic, even their firewood being arranged in orderly
fashion, pleasing to the eye. Should criticism arise regarding the
unrestricted relations permitted in these tribes before marriage, owing to
the fact that primitive conditions survive which are disapproved in
civilised society, to their credit it must be admitted that conjugal
relations are all that could be desired. A Dayak does not strike his wife,
as Malays may do, and in business matters he takes her advice. During my
travels I never heard of but one instance of infidelity. If such cases
occur they are punished in some tribes with extreme severity.
In certain ways the Dayaks show more aptitude than either Malays or
Javanese. To illustrate--the young men of the latter races whom I employed
as "boys" on various occasions, and the Javanese soldiers who accompanied
me, were satisfactory on the whole, but when several work together, each
one is afraid he will do more than his share. Neither of them can tie
knots that are at once firm and readily undone, nor are they able to drive
a nail properly, put in screws, or rope a box, although no doubt in time
they could learn; but the Dayaks are uniformly handy at such work. A
well-known characteristic of the "inlander," which he possesses in common
with some classes in other races, is that if he receives his due, no more
and no less, he accepts the payment without question, but if a gratuity is
added he will invariably ask for more. The Dayaks are much easier to deal
with in that regard and more businesslike.
Needless to state neither Javanese nor Malays are stupid. They learn
quickly to do efficient routine work in office or shop, but when something
new demands attention they are at a loss and appear awkward. Their
intelligence, especially as regards the Javanese, is sometimes beyond the
ordinary. Dr. J.C. Koningsberger, who at the time was director of the
Botanic Garden at Buitenzorg, Java, told me that an "inlander" once
applied to him for a position. He was able to read a little, but the
doctor said: "I cannot employ you because you cannot write." A week later
he returned and demonstrated that he had mastered the obstacle, having
been taught by a friend in the evenings by lamplight. When clever, the
Javanese are very clever.
The different tribes of Dayaks known to me are also quick of perception,
intelligent, and, though varying in mental ability, some of them, as the
Kahayans and the Duhoi, undoubtedly are capable of considerable attainment
if given the opportunity. The Dutch missionary in Kasungan told me of a
sixteen-year-old youth, a Duhoi, who was very ambitious to learn to read.
Although he did not know the letters to start with, the missionary assured
me that in two hours he was able to read short sentences.
It was always a pleasure to meet the unsophisticated Dayaks, and on
leaving them I invariably felt a desire to return some day. What the
future has in store for them is not difficult to predict, as the type is
less persistent than the other with which it has to compete in this great
island domain. Ultimately these natives, who on the whole are attractive,
will be absorbed by the Malays; the latter, being naturally of roving
disposition, travel much among the Dayaks, marry their women, and acquire
their lands. The Malay trader takes his prahus incredibly far up the
rivers. No place is so remote that beads, mirrors, cotton cloth, bright
bandannas, sarongs for women, "made in Germany," etc., do not reach the
aborigines, often giving them a Malay exterior, however primitive they may
be in reality. The trader often remains away a year, marries a woman whom
he brings back, and the children become Malays. In its assumed superiority
the encroaching race is not unlike the common run of Mexicans who
insidiously use the confiding Indians to advance their own interests. As
Mohammedans, the aggressors feel contempt for the pork-eating natives,
many of whom gradually give up this habit to attain what they consider a
higher social status, at the same time adopting a new way of living, and
In this manner a change is slowly but surely being wrought in the Dayaks,
who regard the Malays as superior and are influenced accordingly; but the
influence is not beneficial. Malays have been known to incite them to
head-hunting, using them as tools for their own ends, and when entering
upon one of their frequent revolutions always manage to enlist the support
of Dayaks whom they have deceived by promises. The late comers have
already occupied most of the main courses of the great rivers, and are
constantly pressing the rightful owners back into the interior.
The Dutch officials, be it said to their credit, are helping the latter
against the intruders, and at times the government has limited the
activities of the Malays on some rivers. But it is difficult, and
apparently impossible, to stop a process of absorption that began
centuries ago. The ultimate extinction of the Dayak is inevitable because
the Malay is not only stronger, but has the additional advantage of being
SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES TO THE TRIBES IN DUTCH BORNEO VISITED BY THE AUTHOR
The Kayans of Dutch Borneo are not numerous. Outside of Long Blu on the
Mahakam they are found chiefly on the Kayan River in the large district of
the northeast called Bulungan. They occupy the lower course, reaching not
quite to Long Pangian, though having settlements there. Three subtribes
are known to exist here, Oma-Gaai, Oma-Laran, and Oma-Hiban. The first
named, also called Segai, live in Kaburau, Bruen, and Long Pangian. They
appear somewhat different from the rest in language, and they abstain from
rusa (deer) as food, while the others eat it. They file off ten teeth in
the upper front jaw. At the headwaters of the Kayan River in Apo Kayan
lives a subtribe, Oma-Lakan, said to number about 400; these do not file
the front teeth. In Chapter IX is described a recent head-hunting raid by
the Kenyahs on these Kayans.
The Kenyahs are found only within the Bulungan district on the Kayan
River. They are settled principally at the headwaters in Apo Kayan and at
the sources of a northern tributary, the Bahau, in Podjungan. In these two
regions it is estimated that they number altogether about 25,000. Down the
river they have a few kampongs below Long Pangian, in the same vicinity;
west of it are a few more, as mentioned in the description of my journey.
On attempting to ascend the river further one would soon reach a vast
extent of country entirely uninhabited except around the headwaters. The
Bahau, too, is inhabited only at its source, and both rivers pass through
wild, picturesque regions.
On that portion of the Kayan called Brem-Brem the river presents a
formidable array of kihams which defeated the government's attempt to
establish communication between Apo Kayan and the debouchure of the river.
This was desirable for the sake of provisioning the garrison. An officer
of the Dutch army in Borneo told me that from military reports and the
testimony of Kenyahs he estimated that the Brem-Brem is a continuous
stretch of kihams for thirty kilometres. The Kenyahs had told him that
they walked two days and he thought that for four kilometres the river ran
underground. These difficult conditions compel the Kenyahs to take another
route in their travels to Tandjong Selor, marching over the watershed to
the Bahau River, where they make new prahus and then continue the journey.
I give a list of subtribes with reserve:
Oma-Bakkah, Oma-Lisan, Oma-Kulit, Oma-Lim, Oma-Puah, Oma-Yalan,
Oma-Tokkung, Oma-Bakkung, Oma-Bam, Oma-Lung, Oma-Badang, Lepo-Tepo,
Lepo-Tao, Lepo-Maot, Lepo-Ke Anda Pah, Lepo-Ke Ang Lung, Lepo-Ke
Oma-Lasang. Most of the Lepo are on the Bahau. My informant, who had
travelled in the interior, said there was little difference in the
languages of these subtribes.
The Kenyahs, a few Kayans, and the Katingans mutilate the membrum virile
by transpiercing the glans and the urethra, and a piece of brass wire is
inserted. A Kenyah tribe (Oma-Badang) in Podjungan, makes two perforations
so directed that the wires are crossed.
The kapala of the Penihing kampong Long Kai, on the Mahakam, told me that
Kayan and Kenyah are the same people. He probably knew the Kayans only by
personal experience, but his opinion is curious in view of the fact that
the two tribes have been bracketed by Dr. A.C. Haddon and Dr. J.H.F.
(Notes from kampong Tumbang Marowei, on the Laong, a tributary to the
Barito River, in Central Borneo)
At the time of childbirth two to four women and one blian attend the
prospective mother, who assumes a recumbent position with the upper
portion of the body slightly raised. The blian blows upon a cupful of
water which the woman drinks in order to make delivery easy. The umbilical
cord is cut with a knife or a sharp piece of ironwood, and the afterbirth
is buried. Death in labor is not unknown, and twins are born occasionally.
The mother is confined for a week, and she is forbidden to eat pork, eggs,
new rice, cocoanut oil, or any acid substance. She may partake of ordinary
rice, lombok (red pepper), as well as sugar, and all kinds of fruit except
bananas. She bathes three times a day, as is her usual custom. In one
week, as soon as the navel is healed, two or three fowls are killed, or a
pig, and a small feast is held at which rice brandy is served. The child
is suckled for one year.
No name is given the infant until it can eat rice, which is about five
months after birth. At the age of six years, or when it begins to take
part in the work of the paddi fields, fishing, etc., the name is changed.
In both cases the father gives the name. The kapala, my informant, changed
his name a third time about ten years previously, when he entered the
service of the government. Names are altered for the purpose of misleading
Children were few here, one reason being that abortion is a common
practice, as is instanced in the case of the kapala's wife who prided
herself on her success in this regard on ten occasions. Massage as well as
abortifacient herbs are employed for the purpose. The root of a plant in
general use is soaked in water before administering. I was also shown a
vine which was about two centimetres in diameter and was told that if a
portion of this was cut off and the end inserted into a pint bottle the
vine would yield sufficient juice to fill it in a night. In case children
are not wanted both husband and wife drink of this liquid after the
morning meal, and both abstain from water for the remainder of the day. It
is believed that afterward it would be possible for the man to have
offspring only by marrying a new wife. There are also several specifics to
prevent conception, but none for producing fertility. The kapala gave as
reasons for this practice scarcity of food and woman's fear of dying. Both
seem incongruous to fact and primitive ideas, and perhaps his view would
better be accepted only as an indication of his ignorance in the matter.
The young people are taught to dance by the blian before they are married,
and take lessons for a year or two.
The Murung blian possesses three small wooden statues of human beings
which he employs in recovering brua (souls) and bringing them back to
persons who are ill, thus making them well. These images are called
jurong, two being males, the other female, and carrying a child on its
back. While performing his rites over either sex the blian holds the
female jurong in his right hand, the other two being inserted under his
girdle, one in front, the other at the back, to protect him against his
enemies. In the case of a child being ill its brua is brought back by
means of the infant carved on the back of the effigy. Undoubtedly the
images are similar in character to the kapatongs I have described as
occupying an important place in the lives of the Duhoi (Ot-Danum), the
Katingan, and other tribes of Southwestern Borneo.
(Notes from the Upper Busang River, Central Borneo)
The Dutch officials give this tribe the name of Punan-Penyahbongs; the
Malays call them Punans, seldom Penyahbongs. The Saputans, a neighbouring
tribe, told me that the Penyahbongs and the Punans make themselves
mutually understood. Whether they really are Punans or have been called so
because of their recent nomadic habits is difficult to determine. However,
since they declare themselves to be Punans, in view of all related
circumstances it is safe to conclude that they are allied to that great
According to the Penihing chief in Long Kai the name Penyahbong was
applied formerly not only to the people, but also to the mountain range in
which they were living, the Muller mountains, around the headwaters of the
Kapuas River in the Western Division. The western sides of the Muller
mountains seem to have been their headquarters, and most of them still
live west of the mountains. To one of the tributaries of this river the
tribe owes the name by which they are known among Punans, Saputans, and
Bukats, who call the Penyahbongs simply Kreho.
They are not numerous and so far as my information goes they are limited
to a few hundred. Gompul, the most reliable of my Malays in that region,
and one of the first to arrive in those parts, told me that his mother had
been captured by the Penyahbongs and kept by them for thirty-five years,
until her death. According to his estimate there were over two hundred of
them in the Muller mountains, and they had killed many Malays, taking
their heads. Three chiefs were famous for being very tall.
Fishing with tuba is known to them, also to the nomadic Punans and Bukats,
Saputans, and Penihings. The Penyahbongs believe they were placed in this
world by an antoh. Omens are taken from nine birds and from dreams. When a
house is finished there are two or three hours' dancing in the night by
men and women, one man playing the sapi (native guitar).
The child is born outside of the house. One or two women stand by to take
it, wrapped in cloth, into the dwelling, where for three days it remains
unbathed. Although death at childbirth is known to occur, usually within
fifteen minutes the mother rises and repairs to the house. The umbilical
cord is cut with a sharp bamboo and the afterbirth is not taken care of,
dogs generally being permitted to eat it. When the child can walk the
father and mother give it a name. No abortion is practised, there are no
puberty ceremonies, and sexual intercourse is not practised during
(Notes from the Kasao River, a tributary to the Upper Mahakam)
The name Saputan is derived from the word sahput, sumpitan (the
blow-pipe), and probably means, "those who have sumpitan." In the upper
part of the Kasao River is a big back current called Saputan and the people
who originally lived at the headwaters have the same name as the current.
At first they were roaming in the mountains, though not conflicting with
the Penyahbongs, and later settled in four kampongs which, beginning with
the uppermost, at the time of my visit were: 1. Pomosing (mouse) at a
tributary of the same name. 2. Data Laong (land of durian). 3. Ong Sangi
(ong = river). 4. Nomorunge (a common, small, black and white bird) on a
tributary of the same name; with hardly a hundred full-grown persons, this
is the largest. Formerly the office of the chief, tjupi, was hereditary.
When he became old he was succeeded by his son.
The woman bears her child in the house, surrounded by women, her husband,
and another man. She assumes a lying position and is helped by being
frequently lifted up, and by stroking. The abdomen is rubbed with a
certain medicinal herb, first having been heated over the fire, to
facilitate the expulsion of the afterbirth, which later is hung in a tree.
Having tied a vine round the umbilical cord near the abdomen they cut the
cord with a sharp piece of bamboo. The assisting women wash the baby as
well as the mother.
For two days after childbirth she does no work, and for some time she must
not eat the fat of pig or fish. In case of twins being born, they are
welcome if the sex is the same, but if one is male and the other female,
one is given away, the father exercising his preference. Two months after
birth a name is given by the father. Should the mother die, no other woman
willingly suckles the child unless the father has a daughter who can do
it. However, by paying from one to three gongs a woman may be induced to
undertake the duty.
(On the Mahakam River)
Bahau is the name of a river in Apo Kayan, where the tribes of the Mahakam
River lived before they migrated to their present habitations, a hundred
and fifty to two hundred years ago. The Penihings, Kayans, Oma-Sulings,
and Long-Glats speak of themselves as Orang Bahau, as also do the
Saputans, though probably they did not originally come from Apo Kayan.
According to these Dayaks the designation as used by the Malays signifies
people who wear only chavat (loin cloth), and the Punans and Ibans are
said to be included under the same term.
PUNANS AND BUKATS
(Notes from kampong Long Kai on the Mahakam River)
The formidable king cobra (_naia bungarus_) is feared by the Punans, who
have no remedy for the bite of this or any other venomous snake. The
Bukats are said to know a cure which they share with the Penihings; the
bark is scraped from a certain tree and the juice is applied to the wound.
Death from lightning is unknown to any of these three tribes.
The Punans apparently do not attribute disease to the adverse influence of
an antoh, although their remedy is the same, consisting of singing in the
night and removing small stones from the abdomen or other parts that may
The Bukats whom I met were beautifully tatued. The kapala whom I saw at
Long Kai had the mark of a ripe durian on each shoulder in front and an
immature one above each nipple. On the lower part of the upper arm was a
tatu of an edible root, in Penihing called rayong. Over the back of his
right hand, toward the knuckles, he had a zigzag mark representing the
excrescences of the durian fruit. In regard to the presence of spirits,
number of souls, blians, disease, and its cure, restrictions for pregnant
women, the child's cradle--the ideas of the Bukats are identical with
those of the Penihings, and possibly are derived from them.
(Notes from the Mahakam River)
The Penihings get their supply of ipoh, the poison for the sumpitan darts,
from Punans who live at the sources of the rivers of the Western Division.
According to native report the trees which furnish the juice do not grow
along the Mahakam and the nearest country where they are found is to the
south of Tamaloe. As is the case with the Punans and Bukats, cutting the
teeth is optional.
Restrictions imposed during pregnancy do not differ from those of other
tribes described. At childbirth no man is permitted to be present. For
three days the mother eats boiled rice, red pepper, and barks of certain
trees, and she may work on the third day. Twins are known to occur. As
soon as the navel is healed a name is given to the child. Both Penihing
and Saputan, if asked, are allowed to give their own names. Marriages are
contracted while the woman is still a child. There are no marriage
ceremonies and divorces are easily obtained. If a married woman is at
fault with another man the two must pay the injured husband one gong, as
well as one gong for each child. In case the husband is at fault, the same
payment is exacted by the injured wife.
The Penihings have a game called ot-tjin which I also observed in other
Bornean tribes, and which to some extent is practised by the Malays. This
game, generally known among scientific men by the name mancala, is of the
widest distribution. Every country that the Arabs have touched has it, and
it is found practically in every African tribe. It is very common in the
coffee houses of Jerusalem and Damascus. A comprehensive account of the
game mancala is given by Mr. Stewart Culin, the eminent authority on
games, in the Report of the U.S. National Museum for 1894, pages 595-607.
With the Penihings the complete name is aw-li on-nam ot-tjin, meaning:
playon-nam fish. An essential of the game is an oblong block of heavy wood
which on its upper surface is provided with two rows of shallow holes, ten
in each row, also a larger one at each end. The implement is called
tu-tung ot-tjin, as is also both of the large single holes at the ends.
There are two players who sit opposite each other, each controlling ten
holes. The stake may be ten or twenty wristlets, or perhaps a fowl, or the
black rings that are tied about the upper part of the calf of the leg, but
not money, because usually there is none about. The game is played in the
Two, three, four, or five stones of a small fruit may be put in each hole;
I noticed they generally had three; pebbles may be used instead. Let us
suppose two have been placed in each hole; the first player takes up two
from any hole on his side. He then deposits one in the hole next
following. Thus we have three in each of these two holes. He takes all
three from the last hole and deposits one in each of the next three holes;
from the last hole he again takes all three, depositing one in each of the
next three holes. His endeavour is to get two stones in a hole and thus
make a "fish." He proceeds until he reaches an empty hole, when a
situation has arisen which is called gok--that is to say, he must stop,
leaving his stone there.
His adversary now begins on his side wherever he likes, proceeding in the
same way, from right to left, until he reaches an empty hole, which makes
him gok, and he has to stop.
[Illustration: THE GAME MANCALA AS USED BY THE PENIHINGS.]
To bring together two stones in one hole makes a "fish," but if three
stones were originally placed in each hole, then three make a "fish"; if
four were originally placed, then four make a "fish," etc., up to five.
The player deposits the "fish" he gains to the right in the single hole at
The two men proceed alternately in this manner, trying to make "fish" (ara
ot-tjin). The player is stopped in his quest by an empty hole; there he
deposits his last stone and his adversary begins. During the process of
taking up and laying down the stones no hole is omitted; in some of them
the stones will accumulate. On the occasion of the game described I saw
two with eight in them.
When one of the players has no stones left in his holes he has lost. If
stones are left on either side, but not enough to proceed, then there is
an impasse, and the game must be played over again.
(On the Mahakam River)
To marry the daughter of a noble the man must pay her father twenty to
thirty gongs (each costing twenty to forty florins). The price of the
daughter of a pangawa is from one to three gongs, and to obtain a wife
from the family of a pangin costs a parang, a knife, or some beads. Women
assist at childbirth, which takes place within the room, near the door,
but generally no blian is present.
When a girl has her first menstruation a hen or a pig is killed, and in
the evening the blood thus obtained is applied to the inside of a folded
leaf which the blian wafts down her arms--"throwing away illness," the
meat of the sacrifice being eaten as usual. The same treatment is bestowed
upon any one who desires good health.
As many infants die, it is the custom to wait eight or ten days after
birth before naming a child, when a similar sacrifice is made, and a leaf
prepared in like manner is passed down the arms of the infant by the
blian. In selecting a name he resorts to an omen, cutting two pieces of a
banana leaf into the shape of smaller leaves. According to the way these
fall to the ground the matter is decided. If after two trials the same
result is obtained the proposed name is considered appropriate. Also on
the occasion of marriage, a similar sacrifice and the same curative
practice are used.
When couples tire of each other they do not quarrel. The husband seeks
another wife and she another husband, the children remaining with the
mother. The sacred numbers of the Oma-Sulings are four, eight, and
sixteen. Contact with a woman's garment is believed to make a man weak,
therefore is avoided.
The interpretation of designs in basketwork, etc., is identical with the
Oma-Sulings and the Penihings, though the women of the last-named tribe
are better informed on the subject.
The antoh usually recognised by the name nagah, is called aso (dog) lidjau
by the Oma-Sulings and Long-Glats, while among the Penihings and Punans it
is known as tjingiru, but nagah is the name used also in Southern Borneo,
where I frequently noticed it in designs. On the Mahakam few are the
Oma-Suling and Long-Glat houses which are not decorated with an artistic
representation of this antoh. Among the Penihings in Long Tjehan I never
saw a sword hilt carved with any other motif. On the knife-handle it is
also very popular.
There are three modes of disposing of the dead: by burying in the ground a
metre deep; by depositing the coffin in a cave, or by making a house,
called bila, inside of which the coffin is placed. A raja is disposed of
according to either the second or third method, but the ordinary people of
the kampong are placed in the ground.
(Notes from Long Tujo, Mahakam River)
Before they emigrated from Apo Kayan the name of the Long-Glats was
Hu-van-ke-raw. Attached to Long Tujo is a small kampong occupied by the
Oma-Tapi, who speak a different language, and almost opposite, scarcely a
kilometre down the river, is another inhabited by the Oma-Lokvi, who speak
a dialect other than Long-Glat. Not far west of here is a kampong,
Nahamerang, where the Bato-Pola live, said to be Kayan. The Long-Glats
appear to be powerful, but their measurements are very irregular. They
seem darker in colour than the other Bahau people, most of them showing
twenty-six on the von Luschan colour scale.
Pregnant women and their husbands are subject to restrictions similar to
those already described in regard to other tribes. In addition may be
mentioned that they must not eat two bananas that have grown together, nor
sugar-cane which the wind has blown to the ground, nor rice if it has
boiled over the kettle, nor fish which in being caught has fallen to the
ground or in the boat. The afterbirth drops through the floor and is eaten
by dogs or pigs. The still-born child is wrapped in a mat and placed in a
hollow tree. The mother may work in five days. Two to four weeks elapse
before the child is named by the blian and this ceremony is accompanied by
the sacrifice of a pig. In cases of divorce the children may follow either
parent according to agreement.
The coffin is a log hollowed out, and provided with a cover. At one end is
carved the head of Panli, an antoh, and at the other his tail. Many
vestments are put on the corpse, and for a man a parang is placed by his
side within the coffin. The house is then made and the coffin placed
(Notes from the Samba River, Southwestern Borneo)
The new-born child is washed with water of that which is brought to the
mother, and the afterbirth is thrown into the river. Most of the women,
after bearing a child in the morning, walk about in the afternoon, though
some have to wait a few days. Their food for some time is rice and fish,
abstaining from salt, lombok (red pepper), fat, acid, and bitter food,
Seven days after birth the child is taken to the river to be bathed. On
its return blood from a fowl or, if people are well to do, from a pig that
has been sacrificed, is smeared on its forehead and chest, and a name is
given. The presence of the blian not being required, the parents give the
name, which is taken from a plant, tree, flower, animal, or fish. A
wristlet is placed around each wrist and the name is not changed later in
life. There are no puberty nor menstruation ceremonies. No sexual
intercourse is permissible while a woman is pregnant, nor during
menstruation, nor during the first three months after childbirth. Cousins
Evidence of polyandry is found among the Duhoi. Eight years previous to my
visit on the river Braui lived for six years a woman blian about thirty
years old, who had three young husbands. She practised her profession and
the husbands gathered rattan and rubber. She was known to have had
thirty-three husbands, keeping a man a couple of weeks, or as many months,
then taking others. She had no children.
A design representing the flying prahu, described in Chapter XXXI, is also
occasionally seen in Kahayan mats, the idea being that it may be of
assistance to some beneficent antoh. In this connection it is of interest
to note how the Kahayans use the flying prahu as a feature of the great
tiwah festival. Drawings of the craft are made in colours on boards which
are placed in the house of ceremonies, and are intended to serve as a
conveyance for the liao. Such drawings are also presented to the good
antoh, Sangiang, as a reward for his assistance in making the feast
successful, thus enabling him to fly home.
UPPER AND LOWER KATINGANS
Of the Dayaks living about the headwaters of the Katingan River Controleur
Michielsen, in his report quoted before, says: "I cannot omit here to
mention that the Dayaks of these regions in language and habits show the
closest agreement with the Alfurs in Central Celebes, whom I visited in
1869, and that most of the words of the Alfur language (which I at once
understood because it resembles the low Java language) also here in the
Dayak language were observed by me. This circumstance affords convincing
testimony in favour of the early existence of a Polynesian language stock
and for a common origin of the oldest inhabitants of the archipelago."
There appears to be much similarity in regulations regarding marriage,
birth, death, and other adats as observed by the Katingans, Duhoi, and
Mehalats. The latter, who live on the Senamang, a tributary to the
Katingan River near its headwater, may be a Duhoi subtribe, but very
little is known about them; the custom of drinking tuak from human skulls
is credited to them, and they are looked upon with contempt by the
Katingans for eating dogs.
With the Katingans it is the custom for the blian to deposit in a cup
containing uncooked rice the objects withdrawn from a patient. Having
danced and spoken to the cereal he throws it away and with it the
articles, the rice advising the antoh that the small stones, or whatever
was eliminated, which he placed in the patient, are now returned to him.
These Katingans begin their year in June and July, when they cut the
jungle in order to make ladangs, months being designated by numbers. At
the beginning of the year all the families sacrifice fowls, eat the meat,
and give the blood to antoh in accordance with their custom. After the
harvest there is a similar function at which the same kind of dancing is
performed as at the tiwah feast. On both occasions a game is engaged in
which also is found among the Bahau and other tribes, wherein a woman
jumps dexterously between heavy pestles that, held horizontally, are
lifted up and brought down in rapid succession. Three months later--at the
end of the year--another festival occurs.
The Katingan calendar may be rendered thus:
1. Cutting the jungle, June and July....... during 2 months
2. Drying the trees and burning them....... during 1 month
3. Planting paddi.......................... during 2 months
4. New paddi............................... in 3 months
5. Harvesting.............................. during 1 or 2 months
6. Waiting................................. during 3 months
In order to ascertain the auspicious date for planting paddi these Dayaks
employ an astronomical device founded on the obvious fact that in their
country there comes a period when a rod placed in an upright position
casts no shadow. That is the time for planting. In addition to this method
of determination they consult a constellation of three stars which "rise"
in the east and "set" in the west during half a year, and are invisible
during the following six months. When the three stars appear
perpendicularly above the rod in the early morning, before sunrise, then
the time to plant is at hand; when they are in the zenith in the late
afternoon before sunset, the season for making ladang has come.
For these observations, however, a single rod is not used, but an
arrangement of rods called togallan, seven in number, which are planted in
the ground, the middle one upright, the rest diverging on either side like
a fan. Beginning on the left side, six months are indicated, but the
togallan does not remain standing more than three; in fact as soon as the
planting is finished it is removed. Although the most propitious time is
when the sun is at zenith, it is also considered favourable for half the
distance from the middle rod toward 3 and toward 5. If paddi is planted in
the second month the crop will be injured; if in the fifth month, the
plant will be damaged.
[Illustration: INDICATION BY THE TOGALLAN OF THE FAVORABLE TIME FOR
Formerly heavy spears made of ironwood were employed not only as weapons,
but for agricultural purposes as well, both when making the holes into
which the seed grains are dropped and as material in erecting the
astronomical device. Each of the seven rods is called ton-dang, as is the
pointed stick with which at present the ground is prepared for planting
With the Kenyahs and many other tribes it is the custom to give boiled
rice that has stood overnight to the dogs, pigs, and hens; it is not
considered fit for human food.
Regarding the number of souls: The Murung says that each person has seven
souls, called brua, six being distributed as follows: one at the top of
the head, one in each eye and knee, and one in the navel. The Duhoi
(Ot-Danum) has also seven brua, one at the top of the head and one in each
eye, knee, and wrist.
Other tribes speak of three souls. The Kenyahs, according to Dr. J.M.
Elshout, have only one brua, located at times in the head, at times in the
heart; and the tiger-cat and the orang-utan have stronger brua than man.
The Katingans likewise recognise but one, called liao in life, and after
death. They also give the same name to the soul of an animal, but the more
common usage in the tribes is to call the ghost liao, by the Malays named
In regard to the practice of incision, which is used in Southwest Borneo,
Chapter XXXV, I am able to furnish some details gathered in Sampit from
three Dayaks who had been operated upon. A cut is made in the praeputium
lengthwise with a knife (further east a sharpened bamboo is used), a piece
of iron wood being used as a support, and the operation which in Katingan
is called habalak is performed by the father of the father's brother when
the boy is coming of age. Before the event he must go into the river up to
his navel seven days in succession, morning, midday, and evening, and
stand in the water for an hour. All boys must undergo the operation, which
is not sanguinary, the leaves of a tree called mentawa being applied to
the wound. They could give no reason why they follow this practice any
more than the ordinary Dayak can explain the purpose of tatuing.
With the Kayans, and, indeed, all the tribes I met in Dutch Borneo, it is
the custom to urinate in a sitting position.
To the observer it is strikingly evident that the mammae of both Dayak and
Malay women retain firmness and shape much longer than is the case with
A SHORT GLOSSARY
_adat_, precept, regulation, religious observance.
_antoh_, spirit, good or evil.
_atap_, a shelter, consisting of a mat resting on upright saplings,
often erected in the boats on long journeys.
_balei_, a general name for a house of worship.
_barang_, goods, things, belongings.
_blanga_, large, valuable jar, usually of Chinese manufacture.
_company_ (the), the government.
_gutshi_, large jar.
_ipoh_, poison for the dart of the blowpipe, also the tree from
which it is secured (the upas tree).
_kampong_, native village.
_kapala_, chief (= pumbakal).
_kidyang_, a small kind of deer.
_kuala_, mouth of a river.
_ladang_, paddi field.
_laki_, man, male.
_lombok_, red pepper.
_mandau_, Dayak short sword (= parang).
_nagah_, fabulous animal, the apparition of a spirit.
_onder_, native subdistrict chief.
_parang_, Dayak short sword (= mandau).
_pasang-grahan_, public lodging-house.
_pisau_, small knife.
_plandok_, mouse-deer (_tragulus_).
_prahu_, native boat.
_pumbakal_, chief (= kapala).
_raja_, a native chief, or noble.
_raja besar_, big raja.
_ringit_, the Dutch coin of f. 2.50.
_rupia_, florin, guilder.
_sambir_, mat made from palm leaves.
_sarong_, a cloth wound around the loins.
_sayur_, vegetable stew.
_ticcar_, mat made from rattan.
_tin_, five-gallon tin can.
_tingang_, great hornbill.
_tingeling_, scaly ant-eater.
_tuak_, native rice brandy.
_tuan_, master, lord.
_tuan besar_, great master or lord.
_tuba_, root used for poisoning the water for fishing purposes.
_utan_, jungle, woods.
_wah-wah_, gibbon, a long-armed monkey.
_wang_, coin, money.
Aaton Kohang (antoh), tale of
Acidosis, cure of
Ado, harvest festival at
Adventures in Pursuit of Magic, folk-tale
Agility, of natives
Agriculture, vast possibilities for
Ah Sewey, photographer
Airplane, foreshadowed in folk-tale
Ajo River, the
Akieh, Doctor Tjon
Alcohol, from rice and from sugar-cane
Alfurs of Central Celebes, resemblance of Katingans to
Amban Klesau, boatman
Amenaran, folk-tale about
Amon Amang, the fatherless boy
Aneitjing, legend of
Animals, of Borneo;
of the jungle;
of Central Borneo;
laughing at, feared by Long-Glats;
Mrs. Meyer's collection of;
Dayak belief concerning souls of.
_See also_ Blood of sacrificed animals
Annandale, Doctor N.
Ant-eater, the scaly;
supposed to bring good luck
_Antoh Who Married a Saputan, The_, folktale
Antohs (good and evil spirits), various designations for;
shape usually assumed by;
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