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i V, 


The number of Copies 

of this Work is limited to 700 

for sale in Europe and America 

and no cheaper or other edition 

will be issued 


Natives of Sarawak 


British North Borneo 

Based chiefly on the MSS. of the late Hugh Brooke Low 

Sarawak Government Service 




'* The Aborigines of Tasmania," ** The Peasantry of Eastern Russia," &c. 




In Two Volumes — Vol I 



65 Fifth Avenue 






My Dear Wife. 



Vol. I. 
p. 19, bottom line for infra read : supra, 
p 29, for B. N. Vigors read : B. U. Vigors, 
p. 53, line 15, for beads read : heads, 
p. 79, line 27, for ii., iii. read : ii. 11 1. 

p. 94, in first paragraph relating to the Muruts, omit : inverted commas, 
p. 24, end of second paragraph, separate : andarrows. 

p. 125, end of fourth paragraph, after word father-in-law omit : (F. W. Leggatt.) 
p. 161, for Kapolas Moeroeng read : Kapuas Murung. 

p. 169, bottom line, for Straits Asiatic Journal read : Jour. Straits Asiatic Soc. 
p. 223, foot note 49. last line, omit : inverted commas, 
p. 248, line 7, for hauk read : hawk, 
p. 273, line 19 from bottom, for belian read : pelian. 
p. 274. line II, for grank read : grand. 


Vol. II. 

18, end of fourth paragraph, for Hose read : De Crespigny. 

28, bottom line, for see p. 241 read : see i. 241. 

32 bottom line, omit : (ibid.) 

147, line 9, for D. N. Vigors read : B. U. Vigors. 

151, second line from bottom, for Negritoe read : Negrito. 

166, fifth line from bottom, for ibid read : Dalton. 

199, top line for . read : , 

199, eighth line, for ahat read : adat. 


About the origin and primitive purposes of Prefaces, the learned may 
dispute, basing their results on historical research into prefaces at large. It 
is a probable opinion that the Preface was, at first, intended to inform 
the reader as to what he might expect to find in the book before him. In 
our own day, when nobody reads, and critics read least of all, a glance at the 
Preface (only a glance) furnishes the newspaper reviewer with his two or 
three inches of ** copy.** Into the actual book he very seldom dips, and the 
anxious author receives, in criticism, what he has, in a Preface, himself set 

If our modern critics had lived and laboured in the time of Homer, they 
would have penned their reviewals thus, out of the poet's prefaces : — 

** In his rather prolix Iliad, Mr. Homer sings of the destructive anger 
of Achilles, which send down to Hades many strong souls of heroes. The 
origin of these sorrows to the Greeks Mr. Homer very piously assigns to the 
will of Zeus. How that will was executed, Mr. Homer narrates at no 
inconsiderable length, and, doubtless, in a manner pleasing to his friends and 
relatives. For our part we prefer this author in his Hymns, or when, as in 
MargiteSy he exposes the foibles of an unlucky townsman, only too easily 
recognised. There is room, however, for all tastes, and we trust that people 
interested in Mr. Homer's heroes, Achilles and Agamemnon, will be pleased 
with this new study of a somewhat worn subject." 

That is the modern manner : it is not difficult. Or again, 

** The indefatigable Mr. Homer obliges the town with a new epic. His 
hero is Odysseus, who, it appears, was acquainted with the mind and manners 
of humanity at large. The adventures of this wanderer, in attempting to 
secure his own life, and the return of his company, are narrated in hexameter 
verse, and in no less than twenty-four books. Mr. Homer has a fatal 
fluency, and a romantic fancy. We are not entirely certain that this work is 
fitted to lie on the drawing-room table, but few, we think, will be at the 
trouble to verify the justice of our surmise.'- 

The author, from these examples of criticism ** as she is wrote '* in our 
age of popular education, may estimate the value of a preface. That I 
should write a preface for Mr. Ling Roth*s admirable compilation I can only 
excuse in one way : Mr. Ling Roth asked me to do so. He knows his 
subject thoroughly : I only know what he tells me about the subject. As in 

(viii.) H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

his valuable work on the extinct Tasmanians, Mr. Roth has collected from 
every side what is es3ential to a knowledge of the habits, and history, and 
ethnology of the people of British Borneo. My own humble studies have been 
occupied with comparisons between the manners and customs of the races 
who, in various grades of culture, are generally called savages. To examine 
these, and to set them beside analogous rudiments among civilised races, is 
the business of anthropology. Mr. Ling Roth has chosen the task of 
collecting and assorting, out of vast and widely scattered sources, the 
materials of the anthropologist. 

One turns with interest to a few examples. In Chapter V., Mr. Ling 
Roth describes the ** Couvade " among the Dyaks. As we know, Dr. Murray, 
the Editor of the New English Dictionary, objects to the term "Couvade." 
I am not aware that he has suggested another name for the superstitions 
which impede and harass a savage who is about to become a father. The 
Land Dyaks, under these circumstances, must not tie anything tight. 
Obviously the idea is that of sympathetic magic. The deserted Simaetha, 
in the second idyll of Theocritus, ties knots against her faithless lover ; the 
rite is nouer Vanguille in French, and the purpose is to prevent the victim from 
continuing his infidelities. In the ballad of Willie's Lady ** nine witch 
** knots " are "tied among that lady's locks" (!) to hinder her delivery ; so the 
Dyak husband, if he ties things tight, will hinder his wife's parturition. His 
food is regulated, as hers would be, by virtue of the doctrine of sympathy 
between him and her. Of such sympathy the Psychical Society has published 
a striking example. A gentleman, boating on UUswater, was smitten on the 
mouth by the boom of the sail. At the same moment his wife, in bed, was 
similarly affected, as if by a blow on the mouth. If this kind of telepathy 
was at one time common in early human experience, the Couvade would be a 
salutary institution. But it seems, on the whole, more probable that it is the 
result of a mere imaginative theory of sympathy, the basis of all sympathetic 
magic. Sir Kenelm Digby, anointed not the wound, but the sword that 
dealt the wound, with sympathetic powder, and with favourable results. The 
Couvade rests on a similar hypothesis. Man, woman, and unborn or new 
born babe, are all in a concatenation accordingly, and must put up with the 
same treatment and taboos. 

As to marriage the Dyaks appear to have ideas very like those of rural 
Scotland, perhaps of rural people generally. The chief interest to the student 
is in the forbidden degrees. Many persons of liberal ideas will regret to hear 
that a Dyak may not marry his Deceased Wife's Sister, a compliment to the 
lady's family which a free-born Briton is also prevented from paying. The Sea 
Dyaks are said to be more fertile, because they have more prohibited degrees. 
Cousins are, as a rule, barren, and the origin of this kind of exogamy is 

Preface, (ix.) 

just what we seem unlikely to discover. The widest and earliest prohibition 
seems to be refusal of leave to marry within the Totem kindred ; the rest of 
the rules of prohibited degrees are gradual modifications of this, the origin of 
which is unknown. Mr. MacLennan, who first introduced these questions of 
science, had his own hypothesis, for which his Studies in Ancient History 
(Second Series), may be consulted. Westermarck criticises MacLennan, 
Lubbock, and others, deciding that the cause of repugnance to marriage with 
near kin is an instinct ! * But the eariiest and widest form of the prohibition 
merely taboos marriage between persons akin in the bond of Totem union. 
Thus a man might make love to his half-sister, by the father's side, and instinct 
would have nothing to say. Yet he would flee the embraces of a woman of 
his own Totem, no way related to him, and be a Joseph as Falstaff was a 
coward, "on instinct." To introduce instinct here is like appealing to innate 
ideas. Unluckily the customs of Borneo, as far as Mr. Ling Roth knows, fail 
to illustrate this topic. Even of Totemism (so widely spread either in actual 
customary law, or in various forms of survival), he scarcely discovers a trace 
in Borneo. A Bornean Sea Dyak may not marry his first cousin, and he does 
not know why ! The act is not a crime, but a sin, supernaturally punished 
by the blasting of his neighbours' fields. However, like Orestes when he 
killed his mother, the Dyak who marries his first cousin may try the off- 
chance of being purified in the blood of pigs. (p. 123). The penalty for 
marriage within forbidden degrees is occasionally secular, more frequently, 
or more notably. Heaven punishes the sins, in the usual indiscriminate way, 
Divom injuriaCy dis curae. (p. 122). But why are such marriages sins ? In 
my opinion they were originally breaches of the Totem taboo, just as killing 
a beast or bird of the Totem kind was, and they were punished by the 
offended nature of things. As Totemism died out, the sense of sin remained : 
the Church punished Incest. But it seems very plain to me that there is still 
much to be learned about Bornean prohibited degrees. The writers quoted 
by Mr Ling Roth were not, or not usually, anthropologists who knew what to 
look for. And the worst of it is, that inquirers who know what to look for, 
are only too likely to find it, whether it is there or not. This is the dilemma 
of anthropological evidence. When a totally unprejudiced observer, like my 
own kinsman, Mr. Gideon Scott Lang, found Totemism and exogamy in 
Australia, before the very words were invented, then we feel safe. But if any 
anthropologist now discovers these institutions in Borneo, he must look to be 
suspected of reading his knowledge into the actual facts. 

The disposal of the dead shows great variety, and does not, so far, favour 
the idea that stones were originally worshipped as grave stones ; memorials 
of, and inspired by, the spirits of the deceased. 

* History of Human Marriage. Second edition, p. 319. 

(x.) H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo, 

\ In Religion, we find the usual absurdities of European observers. Mr. 

Chalmers thinks the Dyaks " have none worthy of the name,*' a remark 
purely illustrative of Mr. Chalmers' notions of the connotation of the name. 
There is a creator, Tupa — a Blacksmith. He is like the Finnish Ilmarinen, 
who forged **the iron vault of mother heaven." The very name is borrowed 
from the Malay, and the God is described exactly as God must be described, 
and yet the Dyaks ** have no religion worthy of the name." The whole 
arrangement of four heavenly Rajahs is made on the usual departmental 
Hnes of Polytheism. Mr. Chalmers knew an intelligent Dyak who described 
the four Rajahs as mere aspects, or powers, or names of one God. (p. 165). 
Polytheism is becoming monotheism, perhaps, under Islamite or European 
influences. The same phenomenon is found in old Aztec speculation. 

Archdeacon Perham's papers are of more scientific character, (p. 168). 
The best sources are traditional hymns, as among the Maoris — Vedas, in fact. 
The Petara answer well enough to the Elohim ; they are divine beings, and 
any Dyak who likes can assume the position of a Jehovist, and recognise gods 
all as aspects of, or names for One God. The Hymns (Pengap) appear very 
l^eautiful to me, though the Archdeacon finds the style odd and ludicrous. 
The hymn of Ini Andau contains excellent morality : ** All alike be clean of 
heart." Ethics and the dread and love of the divine are blended ; morals are 
penetrated by emotion, and there is Religion. The ** spirits " are of the usual 
sort, good or bad, forest haunting, or household brownies. There is little of 
novelty in the medicine practice. Apparently (pp. 269 and 273), ** scrying," 
or crystal gazing, is in use. The men-women (p. 270) were common among 
the North American Indians. The manangs or pow-wows, or whatever name 
medicine-men prefer, like their counterparts elsewhere, aim at becoming 
ecstatic. We hear of no hypnotism or clairvoyance worth mentioning, yet I 
doubt not that such things exist, in fact or fancy, among the Dyaks. The 
magic of the Maoris and many other races, if it is found in Borneo, has not 
here been chronicled. I find no reference to rapping and writing house- 
spirits, mentioned by Mr. Tylor, as current in Dutch Bornean belief. 

With time, and space, any student of anthropology might comment on 
every department of Mr. Ling Roth's valuable compilation. It is a mine 
from which everybody can draw, in accordance with his needs. Every 
department of life and thought is illustrated. But each student of the book 
can supply his commentary for himself, and I have only touched on a few of 
the topics most interesting to myself. It is probable that anthropologists in 
Borneo will yet make many additions to the present state of our knowledge. 




This book has its origin in the following circumstances. Some years ago 

my friend, Prof. E. B. Tylor, F.R.S., placed in my hands a parcel of MSS., 

the writing of which was so fine and obhterated that I was obliged 

throughout to use a strong magnifying glass in order to be able to read it. 

The papers, which were largely written in pencil, were partly destroyed by 

moisture and by insects. These very incomplete MSS. were the posthumous 

papers of an eccentric young gentleman named Hugh Brooke Low, who, 

however, possessed a very intimate knowledge of the natives and who died 

shortly after his second arrival in England in 1887. " He was the son of 

Mr. (now Sir) Hugh Low, Secretary to the Governor of Labuan, a small 

colony established for the suppression of 

piracy by Her Majesty's Government in 

1848. Hugh was born at Labuan on the 

I2th May, 1849, his mother being Catherine, 

daughter of Wm. Napier, Esq., Lieutenant 

Governor of Labuan. He was baptized 

on the 13th June, 1849, by Sir James 

Brooke, K.C.B., the Governor of the Island. 

He was sent home at an early age and 

received his education partly in Germany, 

at Neuwied, and partly in England where 

he was for two years a resident pupil of 

Professor Seeley, attending at the same 

time the classes at University College. He 

failed to pass the examination for the 

Indian Civil Service in 1869, and accepted 

an appointment which was offered to him by the present Raja of Sarawak, 

Sir Charles Brooke, G.C.M.G. He died in London on the 12th July, 

1887, of pneumonia, and was buried in the Roman Catholic Cemetery 

at Mortlake, having been received into the Roman Catholic Church shortly 

before his death. His sister. Lady Pope Hennessy, who attended him with the 

utmost devotion during his illness, had long been devoted to that faith. 

During the eighteen years of his service under the Government of Sarawak, 

he was stationed principally on the Rejang river, which gave him great 

(xii.) H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

opportunities of studying the Dyak and Kayan races inhabiting the banks of 
this noble river, but he had also experience of many other parts of the 
territory of the Raja of Sarawak, and his death was much regretted by their 
Highnesses the Raja. and Ranee of Sarawak and by all the native tribes with 
whom he had so long been in close contact/' These notes were worked up 
and a fair portion of them published in the Journal of the Anthropological 
Institute, but while doing this I was much hampered by the want of a general 
work dealing with the subject. I therefore determined to prepare such a 
work, which was not intended to be a comparative study, and this is the 
book now placed before the reader. In the course of the investigations 
I found that some of Mr. Brooke Low's notes had been taken verbatim from 
other books and from some of the missionary publications — especially from 
those by the Rev. W. Crossland — and on going back to Mr. Low's MSS. I 
found I had in transcribing omitted to notice inverted commas and other 
signs indicating that these were not original. This is mentioned in fairness 
to both parties, but I was glad to find that such an authority as Mr. Low 
evidently regarded missionary knowledge as worthy of consideration. 

Originally it was intended to limit the work to Sarawak only, but coming 
across several little known papers about British North Borneo it was deemed 
advisable to include that portion of Borneo — this change of plan will account 
for some anomalies. To give English speaking readers a general idea of 
what the people are like in other parts of Borneo, various foot notes extracted 
from Dutch authors where such seemed suitable, have been inserted, and 
these have been supplemented by an appendix containing a complete transla- 
tion of Dr. Schwaner's excellent ethnological notes. It was intended also to 
publish Mr. Carl Hup6's notes, as these describe the people of another part 
of the country (Pontianak and its neighbourhood) ; unfortunately, after the 
translation was made, space did not permit of its being printed. 

The spelling of the native names has been a stumbling block, but as the 
Ven. Archd. Perham has explained this difficulty it need not be repeated here. 
As for myself, I have endeavoured to adhere to one system, but I now see 
that I have not always succeeded ; in all extracts the spelling of the respective 
authors has been strictly adhered to. All travellers' statements are given as 
much as possible in their own words : condensing has been resorted to 
only in exceptional cases. This method has, however, the slight disadvantage 
of occasional repetitions. In the general grouping of the facts it has not 
always been possible to include all that belongs to the group, but an attempt 
has been made to overcome this difficulty by means of the Index. 

The reader is especially requested to remember that in almost every river 
basin, or even on individual tributaries, the customs of the natives are 
not the same ; this fact will help to explain what might possibly otherwise 

Introduction. (xiii.) 

look like contradictions. It is also well to bear in mind that large as this 
book has grown it is by no manner of means complete, great as was my idea 
to make it such when I first contemplated the work. I wish also to point 
out that when a negative statement is made about a custom in one district it 
is not intended to refer to other than that district, and at the same time 
it does not mean the contrary elsewhere. Occasionally, too, where different 
tribes are in close neighbourship, travellers in their narratives run on without 
stating to which tribes their remarks apply, and hence confusion ; thus, for 
example, by Lundu the Sibuyau are often meant, and so on. 

While thus endeavouring to make the work complete in every way, I 
am very conscious of omissions and errors ; for instance, little is said on the 
great ethnological questions of origin, totems, and relationships. This incom- 
pleteness is due to the fact that the work has been prepared in my evening 
leisure far away from any easily accessible centre of scientific research, but 
** Residents" and settlers in Borneo will see at a glance what is wanting, 
and I hope they will continue to give us the benefit of their valuable 

It will be seen a large number of illustrations are taken from private 
collections, which are essentially collections containing objects from British 
and not from other parts of Borneo. As the book only professes to treat of 
the natives under British jurisdiction, for purposes of illustration the home 
collections were exhausted first ; but where there is reference in the text to 
articles of which it was not possible to obtain illustrations at home, by the 
courtesy of my Dutch friends at Leiden and Amsterdam such articles have 
been reproduced from the two ethnographical Museums in those cities. 
In the older collections there is always the difficulty as to the origin of 
an article ; this has been remedied where possible, but if the reader notices an 
illustration of an article which is said to have come from one district while he 
knows it must have come from elsewhere, he is kindly requested to bear this 
difficulty in mind. It may happen in the course of trade that an article gets 
carried right across the country, and is obtained by a ** Resident" or trustworthy 
collector from a tribe who did not make it, but to whose ability in manufacture 
it is naturally attributed; or it may be a native copy. Then, again, owing to the 
great mixture of peoples throughout the Malay Archipelago, the natives have 
frequently adopted foreign articles. I have been shown a knife the design of 
which may have been derived from Northern India ; there are musical instru- 
ments copied from the Javanese ; as Professor Hein has shewn, the shield orna- 
mentation is of Chinese origin ; some of the raised timber tombs look like 
Shinto shrines ; the custom on the west coast of immuring young girls comes 
from an eastern or Chinese source ; other Chinese, Hindu, Javanese, Sulu, and 
Malay influences are found dominant in various parts of the island. The 

(xiv.) H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

great variety of methods of obtaining fire is in itself a proof of great mixture. 
With such contact, and the central position held by Borneo, anything 
approaching purity of origin or custom cannot be hoped for. 

The objects illustrated are to be found in the British Museum ; the 
Museum of Science and Art, Edinburgh ; the Royal College of Science, 
Dublin; the Pitt-Rivers Museum at Oxford; the Museum of the Royal College 
of Surgeons ; Brooke Low collection at Kuching, Sarawak ; the collection of 





A U S T R A L I 

Sketch Map to show General Surroundings of Borneo. 

Mr. Charles Hose (Resident on the Baram River) at Roydon Rectory, Diss, 
Norfolk; the small collection of the Rev. W. Crossland, formerly S.P.G. 
missionary to the Undups, at Ridlington, North Walsham, Norfolk; the 
collection of the Rev. F. W. Leggatt, S.P.G. Missionary on the Skaran River, 
since presented to the British Museum ; the collection of Mr. Cuthbert E. 
Peek at Rousden, Lyme Regis, Dorset, collected by Mr. Hose ; the collections 
of the State Ethnographical Museum at Leiden, and the collection in the 

Introduction. (xv.) 

Museum of the Zoological Gardens at Amsterdam. The photographs of the 
natives are mostly from the collections of Sir Hugh Low, G.C.M.G., and 
of Mr. Crossland. The original line illustrations are from the pen of Mr. 
Charles Praetorius (of the British Museum), my sister (Mrs. Kingdon Ellis), 
and Mr. R. Raar (of Leiden). I am much indebted for assistance in obtaining 
the illustrations to Sir A. Wollaston Franks, K.C.B., to Mr. Charles H. Read, 
F.S.A., to Mr. Walter Clarke, Science and Art Museum, Edinburgh ; to Mr. 
Henry Balfour, M.A.,and to Prof. C. Stewart; to the above-mentioned owners 
of collections ; to Dr. Serrurier, Mr. J. D. E. Schmeltz and Mr. C. W. Pleyte 
Wzn. It has not always been possible to place the illustrations by the printed 
matter referring to them ; in some measure this objection has been overcome 
by indicating the page where the illustration may be found. Mr. Burbidge 
(author of ** The Gardens of the Sun ") has helped me in many ways. I am 
indebted for countenance* to His Highness the Rajah of Sarawak (Sir Charles 
Brooke, G.C.M.G.) ; to Her Highness the Ranee (Lady Brooke) for several illus- 
trations^ and to Mr. F. R. O. Maxwell, the late Chief Magistrate of th^-.^aj, 
for valuable help in the chapter on the various tribes of the country ; to Mr. 
Biddulph Martin, M.P., Chairman of, Mr. W. C. Cowie, Director of, and to 
other officials of, the British North Borneo Co., for various courtesies ; and not 
least to Mr. W. M. Crocker, Mr. Maxwell's predecessor in Sarawak, and 
late Governor of British North Borneo. Mr. John Murray, Messrs. Kegan 
Paul & Co., Sir Spencer St. John (H.M. Minister at Stockholm) have given 
me permission to reproduce — the former illustrations, and the latter his 
vocabularies. The Ven. Archdeacon Perham has been kind enough to allow 
the reproduction of his valuable papers. 

In the course of the work I have become further indebted to my old 
friend Prof. Tylor, to whom I tender my heartiest thanks. Similar thanks 
are also due to Mr. Lang, who is no new friend to me where anthropology 
comes in. Finally, as those who have helped most are generally mentioned 
last, the assistance given me by my Wife must not be forgotten. She has at 
all times been ready to make my task an easier one than it would have been 
without her. 


Borneo is a large island in the Malay Archipelago, 270,000 square miles 
in extent (about the size of Germany and Poland together) and is situated on 
the equator, between 8^ N. and 4^ S. lat. and 109° and 119° E. long. The Raj 
of Sarawak is situated on the north-west coast, and may be roughly estimated 
as comprising some 50,000 square miles ; British North Borneo is situated on 
the cap of the island, and comprises about 31,000 square miles. Both 
countries are well watered, but British North Borneo has the better natural 
harbours. The first British settlement in Borneo was not made in any of the 

(xvi.) H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo. 

present British dependencies, but at Bangermassin, in 1706, about 100 years 
after the first British visit. However, in 1756, Alex. Dalyrmple obtained 
possession of Balambang — an island, now included in the British North 
Borneo Company's territory. The State of British North Borneo was founded 
in 1877 by Baron Overbeck and Sir Alfred Dent, and if its history has not 
been such a romantic one as that of Sarawak, it has at least introduced 
orderly trade where previously robbery and murder and worse were the order 
of the day. Being a mercantile company, it is naturally not so much 
concerned as the Sarawak Government in the welfare of the natives; but the 
ethnologist looks trustfully to its fair dealing with the natives when lie 
remembers its first officiaPs care in succouring the hard pressed Buludupies 
on the Segaliud River. Indeed every praise is due to Mr. W. B. Pryer for 
the able way in which he has throughout his career managed the natives 
without spilling blood. 

Sarawak seems to have first become known through Bruni traders 
who were carrying a piece of antimony to Singapore, where the ore fell 
into the hands of some Englishmen, with the result that a trade sprang up 
between Sarawak and the British settlement. That Bruni, together with 
Sarawak, and, in fact, the whole of north-west and north Borneo, should fall 
under the control of Europeans sooner or later was inevitable. British trade 
was expanding, and in its expansion it was hampered by the pirates. These 
pirates were supported by the Sultan of Bruni. A young Englishman, 
hearing of the troubles, was led to visit the Sultan, or rather the littoral under 
his foul government. At Sarawak, Sir (then Mr.) James Brooke found the 
natives in open rebellion against their nominal but impotent ruler, Muda Has- 
sein, the only humane man in the country, who was afterwards treacherously 
murdered by his over-lord the Sultan of Bruni. Sir James Brooke patched up 
a peace between the Rajah and the natives, obtained a cession of part of the 
country, and so became a Rajah himself, and such a Rajah a? the world had 
never seen before nor will again. In the words of Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace, 
** Sir James Brooke found the Dyaks oppressed and ground down by the 
most cruel tyranny. They were cheated by Malay traders, and robbed by the 
Malay chiefs. Their wives and children were often captured and sold into 
slavery, and hostile tribes purchased permission from their cruel rulers to 
plunder, enslave and murder them. Anything like justice or redress for these 
injuries was utterly unattainable. From the time Sir James obtained 
possession of the country, all this was stopped. Equal justice was awarded 
to Malay, Chinaman and Dyak. The remorseless pirates from the rivers 
farther east were punished, aud finally shut up within their own territories, 
and the Dyak, for the first time, could sleep in peace. His wife and children 
were now safe from slavery ; his house was no longer burnt over his head ; 

Introduction. (xvii.) 

his crops and his fruits were now his own, to sell or consumfe as he pleased. 
And the unknown stranger who had done all this for them, and asked for 
nothing in return, what could he be ? How was it possible for them to 
realise his motives ? Was it not natural that they should refuse to believe he 
was a man ? for of pure benevolence combined with great power, they had 
had no experience among men. They naturally concluded that he was a 
superior being, come down upon earth to confer blessings on the afflicted. 
In many villages where he had not been seen, I was asked questions about 
him. Was he not as old as the mountains ? Could he not bring the dead to 
life ? And they firmly believe that he can give^them good harvests, and make 
their fruit trees bear an abundant crop. 

*' In forming a proper estimate of Sir James Brooke's government, it must 
ever be remembered that he held Sarawak solely by the goodwill of the native 
inhabitants. He had to deal with two races, one of whom, the Mahometan 
Malays, looked upon the other race, the Dyaks, as savages and slaves, only 
fit to be robbed and plundered. He has effectually protected the Dyaks, and 
has invariably treated them as, in his sight, equal to the Malays; and yet he 
has secured the affection and goodwill of both. Notwithstanding the religious 
prejudices of Mahometans, he has induced them to modify many of their 
worst laws and custonris, and to assimilate their criminal code to that of the 
civilized world. That his government still continues, after twenty-seven 
years — notwithstanding his frequent absences from ill-health, notwithstanding 
conspiracies of Malay chiefs, and insurrections of Chinese gold diggers, all 
of which have been overcome by the support of the native population, and 
notwithstanding financial, political, and domestic troubles — is due, I believe, 
solely to the many admirable qualities which Sir James Brooke possessed, 
and especially to his having convinced the native population, by every action 
of his life, that he ruled them, not for his own advantage, but for their good. 

** Since these lines were written, his noble spirit has passed away. But 
though, by those who knew him not, he may be sneered at as an enthusiast 
adventurer, or abused as a hard-hearted despot, the universal testimony of 
every one who came in contact with him in his adopted country, whether 
European, Malay, or Dyak, will be, that Rajah Brooke was a great, a wise, 
and a good ruler — a true and faithful friend — a man to be admired for his 
talents, respected for his honesty and courage, and loved for his genuine 
hospitality, his kindness of disposition, and his tenderness of heart.'* 
(i. 144-147-) 

The people thus succoured from every form of oppression which the 
selfishness or self-gratification of mankind could invent — were what are known 
as the Land Dyaks of Sarawak. Long ages of oppression by a kindred 
race, more cunning but not much more civilised, had burnt deeply into their 

(xviii.) H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

character, and to Europeans, in consequence of the very faults which 
oppression has fostered if not engendered, they do not offer that wide field 
for sympathy to which they are entitled, and which they fully received from 
Sir James Brooke and still receive from his successor. 

But while the pirates, Malay, Lanun, Baju, or others could be and 
were dispersed, and their incursions put a stop to, there were other tribes 
on the rivers and far inland whose expeditions, aptly described as head- 
hunting, had to be put a stop to. There were the so-called Sea Dyaks 
ani the Kayans— the former a brave set of robbers, the latter a robbing 
set of blusterers. There was no security in the neighbourhood of these 
tribes, nor was there always security a long way off them. It was the work 
of the present Rajah, His Highness Sir Charles Brooke (a maternal nephew 
of Sir James), to continue the final suppression of these disastrous raids. 
Endowed with an excellent constitution, an indomitable will, an amount of 
pluck which determined success to an extent that must often have astonished 
himself, and a practical turn of mind, he has bit by bit not conquered the 
country but brought it into a reasonable condition of security. People sitting 
at home in a cosy house can form no idea of the desperate isolation of a 
" resident " (governor of a district) white man alone with a few followers 
whose trustworthiness has in many cases yet to be tried, surrounded by an 
impulsive set of savages whose education seems to have taught them to obtain ^ 

by the easiest and safest means possible the head of every strange undefended 
human being who crosses their path. The present Rajah was one among 
many pioneers of such fearless " residents," but they were not all as successful 
as he was, as witness the sad but not unavenged fate of Messrs. Steele and 

The* government of Sarawak is an absolute monarchy, which His 
Highness governs as heir of his uncle. Sir James Brooke. He writes : " I am 
assisted by a Council of six, composed of the two chief European residents 
and four natives, nominated by myself from the leading natives of the district. 
Besides this supreme Council there is a General Council of about fifty, in 
which the leading European and native residents of the various districts have 
seats. This Council meets once every three years, or oftener if required. 
Sarawak is divided for administrative purposes into eight districts, corre- 
sponding to the number of principal river basins in the country. There are 
three chief districts presided over by European officers, who have power to 
call upon the natives for military service. In each district the European 
officers are assisted by native officials, who administer justice among the 
diverse races living in Sarawak. I am frequently asked what law they 
administer. I think the true answer is, the law of common sense, based, of 
course, on English law, with a good deal of native and Mussulman customs. 


Introdtictioii, (xix.) 

We do not worry the natives by any unnecessary changes, and there is a 
great absence of red tape and precise rules and regulations. But we keep 
steady pressure directed towards the discouragement of cruel or debasing 
practices." The extraordinary feature of the whole system is that the 
government is carried on by so little force. Nevertheless a firm government 
will always be required on account of the tendency of the natives to revert 
to the head hunting customs of their ancestors, a tendency which it may 
be expected tradition will long help to keep up. It is not so very long ago 
that a subdued chief said that he obeyed simply because he had met his 
master, but he should try the next Rajah ! 

On the general question of an alien power interfering with cherished 
although evil custom Sir Charles Brooke's remarks are worthy of a hearing. 
He says Europeans should ponder, ** when they hear of black men murdering 
whites. I wish in no way to justify such criminal acts ; but my belief is, 
that in very many cases a little more care and patience might avert them. 
Steamers and soldiers are not pleasant spectacles entering the heart of a land 
which the inhabitants have hitherto believed was specially bequeathed to 
them by their deity, and reserved for their purposes and habitation, and not 
to be delivered up to strangers more powerful than themselves. Such is the 
case — such has been, and no doubt will be, the case to the end ; the strong 
domineer over the weak, and the weak revenge themselves upon the strong 
in cringing askance, and cutting throats. The question is whether sufficient 
steps for conciliation are taken, and what hope is offered to the original 
inhabitants when they surrender their rights and privileges to more powerful 
rulers. Can they be raised to the condition of Europeans ? and are there 
any inducements offered and desires shown by the educated to stimulate the 
aborigines to attain a higher stage of civilisation ?" (ii. 75.) 

Nothing is so demoralising as a general collapse of all previously held 
notions, and such a collapse takes place whenever Europeans come in contact 
with natives for the first time. Can anything be more pathetic than the 
statement of the dying chief, who, when asked why he declined baptism, with 
a view to going to the Christian's heaven instead of to his own Hades, 
replied he would like well ** but for one thing. Three of my children died 
after they were grown up, and I want to go to them.'* Is it civilisation to 
upset such convictions ? 

The key note to the success of the Government is to be found in His 
Highness' ** Hints to Young Officers on Out Stations," where it is pointed 
out that the natives are not inferior to Europeans, but different. 

Regarding the future of the people under Sarawak rule a few words may 
be said. That the cross between '* the Chinese and Dyaks is a fair sample of 
the improvement in both races " would only be expected, but as regards the 

(xx.) H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N, Borneo. 

natives amongst themselves there has not been that progress which had been 
hoped for. The Land Dyaks had been too far oppressed when Sir James Brooke 
came to the rescue for them to recover their manliness and independence, so 
to succeed and multiply, and we may not be far wrong in holding the opinion 
that many generations of them cannot survive. The Sea Dyaks may be said 
to be just about holding their own ; like the Land Dyaks they are hard 
pushed by the Malays and the Chinese, nevertheless there is considerable 
hope for them, as in their cultivation they have shown themselves capable of 
adopting improvements. The Milanaus, having a settled industry, sago, are 
increasing. Of the Kayans it is, perhaps, a little too early to speak. They 
are a people who certainly possess abilities to cope with the difficulties of 
their more peaceful future, but they appear to be wanting in the sterling 
qualities, loyalty and truthfulness, \vhich characterise the Sea Dyaks. The 
Muruts appear to be a more difficult people to deal with, being from all 
accounts more brutalised than the other natives, even than the roving house- 
less Punans, but in the Raj of Sarawak they have an excellent painstaking 
Resident in Mr. O. F. Ricketts, who hitherto has been able, following 
the Brookes' best traditions, to keep them in order without recourse to 
bloodshed. British North Borneo has been less fortunate with the Muruts. 
The Dusuns are by many considered to have much Chinese blood : whether 
this be so or not, they are superior agriculturists and of a more settled 
disposition, and not given to head hunting in anything Hke the same degree 
as the Sea Dyaks. They are likely to survive. That the people are already 
leading a better hfe is sufficiently proved by the comparatively little trouble 
they give the Residents or Governors, and it is no small credit to the 
Governors that this should be so. 

SuLU Knife and Sheath from Borneo. 

(Brit. Mus.) 


VOL. I. 

Preface by Andrew Lang 

Introduction by the Compiler 

Contents of Vol. I. ... 

List of Illustrations 


• • 






• • • • • • 


Geographical Distribution 

• • • • • • 

The Misuse of the word "Dyak'*... 


Physique ... 



Character Notes and Sketches 

Childbirth and Children 




Marriage ... 


The Disposal of the Dead 

... 135 




CHAPTER VIII. (continued). 


... 214 

(xxii.) H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo. 

Feasts, Festivals, and Dancing 

Medicine Men and Women 

• • • • ' 


• • • • • 



Pathology ... 

• • • • • • 

... 289 



• • • • • 

Daily Life, Fire, Food, and Narcotics 

Agriculture, Land Tenure, and Domestic Animals ... 





Hunting and Fishing ... 

. . . 428 


VOL. I. 

Portrait op Mr. H. Brooke Low (xi.) 

Sketch Map of Surroundings of Borneo (xiv.) 

SuLU Knife and Sheath from Borneo .. ,, Brit. Mus. .. .. .. (xx.) 

Large Map of Borneo f(uing 464 


Sarebas Dyak Women wearing the Rawai .. .. Sir H. Low 
Seribis Dyak Marryat . . 

Sakarang Women, one wearing coronet designed 

by Mr. Maxwell 

Sakarang Dyaks. one wearing seat mat 

Skaran Girls 

Sea Dyak Woman 

Do. do. 

Sea Dyak Little Girls 

Sea Dyak in extra fine war costume 

Uld Rejang Sea Dyaks 

Sea Dyak (? Batang Lupar) 

Batang Lupar (?) Sea Dyaks 

A Malau Crossland 

SirH. Low 


Sir H. Low 
Sir H. Low 


Sir H. Low 

Sir H. Low 

Kayan in war dress 

A Kanowit (?) 

A Kanowit Girl 


Kanowits (?) 

Kanowit (?) Women in Malay dress 

Do. (?) do'. do. ... 

"Tatooed Kenowit with pendulous ear lobes " ., 

•• Tamah, native of Kenowit " 

A Saghai (S. E. Borneo) 

GrouI' of Sagai (? Kyans), East Coast of Borneo ., 

A Kayan and a Pakatan 

A DusuN Brit. North Borneo Co. 

IVlUlCUXS •• •• ■■ .» •• •• •* II If II 

Illus. Lond. News 







.. 13 

.. 14 

.. 19 


.• 23 

.. 25 

.. 27 



• » M • • • • 3^ 

Marryat . . . . . . . . 31 

Sir E. Belcher 32 

Crossland 33 

•• 35 

Group of Muruts 

Youngest Daughter of Kanowit Chief 

Lambert, of Singapore . . 404 

Illus. Lond. News . . . . ii. 67 


Kayan i46if^ Baby's Chair Brooke Low 100 

Kayan i46a^ Loa Newborn Baby's Crib .. .. 1, 100 

Sea Dyak Spinning Top ,, 104 

(xxiv.) H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 


Leiden Mus. 
Brooke Low 

Degenerated Soul Boat, S.E. Borneo 

Model of Kay an Coffin 

Do. Skapan Coffin „ 

Do. Kayan Sa/on^ 

Do. Ot Danom Kariring Leiden Mus. 

Do. Bara Narey Tomb ,, 

Do. Permanent Dead House, Olo Ngadjus • . Amsterdam Mus. 

A Cremation on the Kapuas Murung . . . . Schwaner 


Diminutive Model of Dyak Hornbill 

Do. Wooden Image of Hornbill 

Matu Milano Idols iemadu (nine) 

Trogon eUgans Dyak Omen Bird 

Bushy Crested Hornbill 

Duvaucel's Trogon 

Charms, S.E. Borneo 

Do. do. 

Panchallong or Tenyalang, wooden image of hornbill . . 

Kinyah Tungang or Dragon 

Kinyah Masks (four) 

Mask, S.E. Borneo 

DusuN Mask 

Wooden Mask from Longwai 

Clapper or Striker used at New Year's Feast 

Cylindrical Basket of Plaited Coloured Rotan 

Skaran Basket 

Dyak Slahbit Basket 

Sarbbas Dyak Pointed Seed Basket 

Kanowit Open Basket 

Skaran Woman's Betel-nut Basket 

Mat Pattern 

Design by a Kayan Chief on the Upper Rejang 

Do. do. do. do. 

Do. round portion of Bambu Betel Box . . 

Do. on Bambu Box . . 

Do. do. do. . . . . . . 

Designs on Kanowit Baskets (fourteen) ,. 
Pattern on Bambu Betel-nut Box 
Design Burnt on a Rotan Mat, Murut .. 

Undup Bambu Design 

Design on Bambu Box 

Designs on Bambu Boxes (ten) 

Clay Pot, Skaran River 

Cast Bronze Pot with Lid 

Bambu Case for Holding Betel 

Tusk Hollowed for Carrying Lime 

Tobacco Pipe 

Two Spurs and Sheaths for Fighting Cocks 

Brooke Low 


Gould's Monograph 
Leiden Mus. 



Brit. Mus. 
Brooke Low 

Leiden Mus. 

Brit. Mus. 
Leiden Mus. 

Brit. Mus. 
Leggatt .. 



















• . . . . . 107 


Brooke Low . . . . . . 364 


Leggatt 394 

Leiden Mus ii.223 

H.H. the Ranee . . . . 38 

II II • • • • 43 

Crossland . . . . . . 241 

Hose 288 

Crossland 288 

Brooke Low . . . . . . 365 

Hose . . . . . . . . 396 

Edinbro' Mus ii. 6 

Crossland ii. 28 

Amsterdam Mus. .. ..ii. 28 

Brit. Mus. 


Brit. Mus. 

Brooke Low 

..ii. 28 

.. 391 
.. 392 
•• 393 
•• 393 
•. 395 
..ii. 139 

List of' Illtistrations. 


in which the 

DAILY LIFE {continued). 

Hooks, made out of natural forms with gutta (two) . Hose 

Silver Pillow Plate, Baram River. 

Mat Bottle, W. Borneo 

Gourd, handled for carrying water 

Fish Skin File 

Knife for splitting leaves for mats. Cagayan Sulu . 

Ukit Knife , 

Sea Dyak Knife 

Skaran Knife 

Kavan Plane 

Dyaks using Axe-adze . . 

Fire Syringe 

Do. do. Half of bambu mould 
cylinder is cast 

Sarebas Fire Piston 

Piece of Apieng Wood (tinder) 

Fire Drill 

Do. do. 

Fire Saw 

Kayan Ornamented Spoon 

DusuN House Spoon 

Do. do. do. 

PuNAN Wooden Spoon . . 

PuNAN Spatula 

Bambu Spoon, Koti R 

Spoon cut out of a Gourd, Longwai 

Oviform Bowl-shaped Dish, Longwai 

Kayan Uit or Wooden Rice Bowl 

Kayan Dish 

Ornamental Projecting Head of Dish, Longwai.. 

Do. do. do. do. 


Capsicum Pestle and Mortar 

Leiden Mus 
Leggatt .. 
Leiden Mus. 
Edinbio*. Mus. 

Brit. Mus. 
Leggatt .. 
x eeK * • 

Brit. Mus. 

Marryat . . 
Brooke Low 
Brit. Mus. 


Leiden Mus. 
Brit. Mus. 

Brooke Low 

Brit. Mus. 

Leiden Mus. 

ii. i6 

ii. 256 


ii 24 

ii. 26 














Biliong Axe 

Chandong Dyak Chopper 

Parang Hang 

Kiniah Tukar Do or Sundial 

Woman's Weeding Hoe, Baram R 

Skaran Reaping Knife 

Rice Reaping Knife, Koti R Leiden Mus. 

Sba Dyak Plaited Rotan Handless Winnowing 

Shovel . . . . . . . . . . . . Leggatt . . 

Lesong Rice Mortar ,. 

Kisar, or Padi Husker Sir Jas. Brooke 

Brit. Mus. 
X eeK . . 
Dublin Mus. 
Brooke Low 
Leggatt .. 

Traps: The Jerat .. 
Do. do. Trigger 

Do. The Bubuang 









(xxvi.) H. Ling Roth.— Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo, 

Traps: The Bubmng Trigger 

Do. The Kelung 

Do do. Trigger 

Do. The Ptti 

Do. do. Trigger 

Do. do. do. 

Undup Pig Trap Charm 



do. do. 

Pig Trap Charm 

Traps : The Peti Lanchar 

Do. do. do. Trigger 

Deer Trap 

MuRUT Bird Call 

Crocodile Hook 

Edible Nests of Cave Swifts 
Dyak jing kuan or Shuttle for net weaving 
Serangkong Hand Fish Basket 
Diagram of Selamhau Fish Trap 
Platform on posts of above trap . . • . 

An y^fAiir. Spin 

Dyak Fishing Spear 

Bubu Fish Trap 

Bambu Fish Trap 


Oxford Mus. 

Brit. Mus. 


Brooke Low 
Leggatt .. 

Oxford Mus 
Leggatt .. 
















Rejang R. Dyak House 
Land Dyak Bridge 

Land Dyak Village House 

Rejang House Ladder 

Rejang R. Sea Dyak Village House 

Exterior of Sea Dyak Long House 

Slab Door of Undup House 

Diagrammatic Plan of Sea Dyak House .. 

Diagram of Section do. do. 

Inside View of Undup Shingle Roof 

Diagram do. do. do. 

Diagrams of Undup Nipa Palm Thatching (two) 

RiDGE Capping 

Nipa Leaf ready for Thatching 

Diagram of Nipa Leaf Thatch Sticks 

Interior of Sea Dyak Long House 

Town of Kenowit, Rejang River 

Diagram to show how cross beams are tied 
Do. do. panels are made 

Do. do. post holes are made 

Post Rammers 

Lambert, of Singapore facing 1 

J. A. St. John's Eastern Archi- 
pelago i. 358 

J. A. St. John's Eastern Archi- 

Brooke Low 

Lambert, of Singapore 





Leggatt .. 

lllus. Lond. News 
Leggatt .. 

















List of Illustrations. 


HABITATIONS (coHiinued). 
Diagram to show Undup method of platform building Crossland 
Sketches to show how posts are cut (three) . . . . Leggatt 
Plan of large Dusun House at Kiau .. .. Burbidge 

Do. Dusun Cottage 

Sea Dyak Abode and Bridge Sir Charles Brooke 







Dusun Loom 

Casting inggar Dyak Noisy Spinning Wheel 

Model of a Cotton Gin 

Sarebas Woman's Petticoat 

Do. do. do. border of 

Pattern on Undup Woman's Petticoat 
Pattern on Sea Dyak Girl's Petticoat 

Do. do. Woman's Petticoat.. 

Little Girl's Jacket 

Bark Cloth Jacket 

Banting Woman's Badge 

Do. do. imderside 

Diagrams to illustrate a jacket making (three) 

Skewer, acting as Button 

Dyak Woven Blanket 

Illustrations to shew variety of stitches used 
(tiiteen) •• •• •• •• •• •• 

Malanau Gold Buttons (three) 

Tajong Takup Little Girl's Shell Vine Leaf 

Little Girl's Girdle and Shell 

Ring of Rawai 

Chain Band 

Brass Hoop of Rawai 

Girdle of Glass . . 

Front of Woman's Girdle 

Sleeveless Jacket, with rubbed down shells 

Man's Jacket, with epaulettes 

Dyak Man's Jacket, pattern printed on 

Coloured Plate of Pattern along back rim of Sea 
Dyak Woman's Jacket worked on English red 
cloth ; and Border down front 

Undup Girl's Sleeveless Jacket 

Balau White Bark Sleeveless Jacket .. 

End of Piece of Cloth to show colour arrange- 

Rejang R. Dyak Cloth 

Seat Mat of Saribas Dyaks 

Silver Hairpin 

Woman's Wooden Comb 

MuRUT Bone Hairpin 

Do. do. 

Dyak Conical Cap 

Do. do. matwork of 

Palm Leaf Kayan Cap 

Ukit Girl's Bead Cap 

Brit. Mus. 
Brooke Low 
Leiden Mus. 


Brit. Mus 


Mrs. F. R 
Brooke Low 
Leiden Mus. 
Canterbury Mus 
Brooke Low 

O. Maxwell 

Leiden Mus. 
Brit. Mus. 

Leggatt .. 
Canterbury Mus 

Brit. Mus. 

Edinbro' Mus. 

Brit. Mus. 

Brit. Mus. 
Brooke Low 











(xxviii.) H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N, Borneo. 

DRESS (coniintud). 
WiCKERwoRK Foundation of Kanowit Fur Cap.. 

Plaited Hat 

Plaited Rotan Hat, Cagayan Sulu 

Sakaran Man's Cap 

Do. do. do., matwork of 

CoNoiDAL Cap, with plume in crown 

Hemispherical Cap 

Palm Leaf Hat 

Finished Hat 

Hat in Process of Manufacture 

Do. do. do. 

Sadong Dyak Man's Hat 

Do. do. do. enlarged border . . 

Conical Hat 

Kayan Head Dress 

Sba Dyak Earrings 

Dyak Brass Earring 

Ears of Natives (two) 

Ulu Aybr, brass pendants 

Sarbbas. brass pendants 

Gutta Ear Plugs 

Udang, Kyan ear ornament (two) 

Brazen Dragon Eardrop 

Sea Dyak Ear Ornament 

Ear Ornambnt 

U\j, uo. •• •• •• •• •• «• 

Kayan Ear Rim Pegs 

Ear Pendant 

Ear Lobe Plug 

Ear Peg 

Udang Beto, Kayan ear peg 

Illustrations of Krebu Ear Ornament (six) . . 

Undup Cornelian Necklace 

Sea Dyak Coloured Bead Necklacb 

Reed Necklace 

Thin Brass Rolled into a Bead 

Undup Bead Necklace, tassel ends 

Hawk's Bell on Kayan Necklace 

Armlets (two) 

Simpai, Dyak man's bracelet 

Do. do. boy's bracelet 

Kadayan Bracelet 

^7vr07^g •• •• t* •• •• •• ■• 

Shell Armlets (two) 

Porcelain Armlet 

Knee Ring 


Teeth in a Borneo Skull , 

Do. in a Skull from Banjermassing 

Do. in a Borneo Skull 



• 59 

Canterbury Mus 

. 60 

Edinbro' Mus. . 

. 60 

Leggatt .. 

. 60 

II • • • 

. 60 

Brit. Mus. 

. 60 

■1 • 

. 61 

Leiden Mus. 

. 61 

»i • 

. 61 


. 61 

»■ • 

. 61 

Brit. Mus. 

. 62 

•■ • 

. 62 

n • 

. 63 


. 64 

Edinbro' Mus. . 

. 65 

I-eggatt .. 

. 66 

Manyat . . 

. 67 


. 68 

»» • 

. 68 

Brit. Mus. 

. 68 


. 68 

Brooke Low . 

. 68 

It • 

. 68 

1 > • 

. 68 

1 1 • 

. 68 

Brit. Mus. 

. 68 

Brooke Low 

. 68 

Leiden Mus. 

. 68 

Brooke Low 

. 68 

»» • 

. 68 


. 69 


.i 213 

Leggatt .. 

• 72 

1 1 • 

• 73 


• 73 

•I • 

• 73 


• 74 

Brooke Low 

. 74 


• 74 

,t • « • 

• 74 

•1 • • • 

. 74 

•1 • • • 

• 74 

Brooke Low 

• 74 

Canterbury Mui 

• 74 

Brooke Low 

• 74 


Mus. Roy. College of Surgeons 78 

II II ii /O 

II 11 



List of Illustrations. 


Dyak Teeth, filed concavely Marryat . . 

Do. filed to a point ,, 

MiLANAU Female Infant Head Deformer . . Brooke Low 
Artificially Deformed Skull of Malanau . . Dresden Mus. 
Silver Nippers Peek 


Kayan Tatu Pricker 

Kayan's Woman's Tatu Case 

Tatu Mallet 

Do. Soot Holder 

Brass Tatu Needles (two) . . 

Tatu Powder Dish of Bambu 

Tatu Block, Kenniah (two) 

Do. do. Berawan 

Do. do. do. (three) . . 

J-^rf%71cLK •« •• •• •• 


Upper Kapuas (six) 

for Kayan women's thighs (three) 
Do. Marks on Kayan woman 
Do. do. do. do. 

Do. do. do. do. 

Do. do. Punan shoulder 

Do. do. (eight) 

Designs of Tatu Marks 

LoNGWAi Woman's Tatued Hand .. 

Brooke Low 

Leiden Mus. 











Leiden Mus. 
Brooke Low 



Leggatt .. 
Leiden Mus. 

• • k • 

Do. do. 

Do. do. 

Do. Girl's 
Tring Woman's 
Tatued Ngajus 

Do. Dyaks 





Trophy Dyak and Kayan Weapons 
War Cap, hornbill and feathers 
WicKERWORK War Cap . . 
War Hat of rotan and fish scales 
Do. showing thread 
Do. do. inside 
War Jacket of bark and fish scales . . 
RoTAN War Cap 

Do. do. plaiting 

Lutong, I^YAN War Cap, armadillo scales 

Kalupu Dyak War Cap 

War Dress of leopard skin 
Sarebas Goat Skin War Jacket 
Spear, bead 

Do. butt end 

Do. head 


Illus. Lond. News 
Leiden Mus. 

i» • • 

Leggatt .. 


















* • 

• • 

.. 99 
.. 99 
.. lOI 
.. lOI 

. . lOI 
. . lOI 

Brit. Mus. 


Brit. Mus. 
Edinbro' Mus. 

Brit. Mus. 

.. lOI 
.. lOI 

. * 102 
. . 102 
. . 103 

. • 107 

.. 107 

(xxx.) H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

WAR (continutd). 

Leiden Mus. 

Spear, head 

Do. (? fish) , . . . . . , . . , . . ,, , , 

Undup Spbar Handle Crossland 

Undup Spbar, lower pattern „ 

Do. do. upper do. 

Do. do. section . . „ 

Gourd used as powder flask Kew Mus. 

Parang and Sheath Brit. Mus. 

Lanun Sword India Office Mus. 

Parang and Sheath Brit. Mus. 

Kenniah parang Hang Hose 

Do. do. Sheath 

Dagger and Sheath Leiden Mus. 

Do. do 

Sword-sheath Belt-knot (?) Brooke Low 

Kenniah Shield (2 views) 
Kayan do. do. 

Kenniah do. do. 

Kayan do. do. 

Dyak Shield (2 views) . . 
Sarawak do. do. 
Kayan do. do. 
Dyak do. 

Edinbro' Mus 


Dublin Mus. 
Oxford Mus. 



Shield Leiden Mus. 

Kenniah Shield Hose 

Shall do. (2 views) 

Borneo Shield do. 

Do. do. do. 

Small Flat Bast Dyak Shield 

Dyak Bambu Shield 

Small Dyak Shield 

Do. do. (side view) 

Sea Dyak Shield (2 views) 

Do. do. (inside view) 
Shield from Koti River 

Do. Batang Lupar 

Brit. Mus. 
Edinbro* Mus. . 
Brit. Mus. 

Brooke Low 
Brit. Mus. 

Edinboro' Mus. 
Leggatt .. 

War Dance of the Lundu Dyaks Sir H. Keppel 


Dyak Mode of Drying Heads 

Left Moiety of Cranium of native Batta . . 

Skull of Young Male Batta 

Skull (2 views) 

Cranium of female Dyak 

Curiously prepared Skull 

Do. do. design on 
Ornamented Skull with mended jaw 
Incised Pattern on Cranium of Male Dyak 
Frontal Bone Ornamentation 
Cranium of Male Dyak 

Illus. Lond. News 

Mus. Roy. College of Surgeons 

Brit. Mus. 

Mus. Roy. College of Surgeons 






















List of Illustrations. 


HEAD HUNTING (continued). 

In'CISBD Pattern ON Cranium Mus. Roy. College of Surgeons 

Skull of Bugau Dyak Amsterdam Mus 

Dyak Skull (front view) 
Do. do. (side view) . . 
Heads strung in Rotan (three) . . 
Skull of Banjermassing Man 
Dyak Man Skull 
Land Dyak Preserved Skull 
Dried Head tied in leaves 
Dyak Skulls (two) 
Serambo Head House . . 

" Crania Ethnica " 

»i II • • • 

Oxford Mus. 
Mus. Roy. College of Surgeons 

II II ■• 11 

Marryat . . 
Leiden Mus. 

Mus. Roy. College of Surgeons 
Sir E. Belcher . . 

Pungah, Land Dyak Head House Sir Hugh Low 














SUMPiTAN. Blow Pipe 

Do. Blade 

Do. Arrows, with pith butts .. 
Wooden Bodkin for shaving the butts 
Bambu Quiver 

Do. do. 

Do. do. 
Packet, containing sumpitan poison . . 
Bambu Box do. do. 

Circular Plate for preparing sumpitan poison .. 
Flower and Leaves of Upas Tree. Antiaris 

Do. do. Strychnos 

Fruit of Strychnos 

Root of Tuba, Derris 

Tuba Plant do. 

Tools used in preparation of Ipoh poison in Malay [ 
Peninsula (nine) . . . . , . . . . . j 

Oxford Mus. 

II • • 

Brit. Mus. 
Edinbro' Mus. .. 
Brit. Mus. 
Oxford Mus. 

I^iden Mus. 

Brit. Mus. 
Brown's PI. Jav. 
Blumes " Rumph." 


Wallisch PI. Asiat. 

Kew Mus. 

.. 185 

.. 185 

.. 186 

.. 186 

.. 186 

.. 186 

.. 187 

.. 188 

.. 188 

.. i88 

.. 194 

.. 195 

.. 196 

.. 197 

I 200 

•• (201 


Iron Smelting ON the Barito.. .. .. .. Schwaner 

Stone Hammers . . . . . . . . . . . . Posewitz 

Land Dyak Implement, used in gold washing . . Brit. Mus. 

Cradle for washing gold . . . . . . . . . . Leiden Mus. 

Animals, made of raw gutta (six) .. .. .. Hose 

Kayan Tool, for getting g^tta Peek 

Cylindrical Box of raw gutta .. .. .. Brit. Mus. 

Dyak Cap, made of raw gutta . . . . . . . . Hose 

Gutta, as brought to market .. .. .. .. ,, 

Parang, for ringing gutta trees in Malay Peninsula . . 

Alligator of raw gutta 

NiBONG Palm . . . . . . . . 

NiPA Palm .. .. 

Leaf wrapped round Dammar.. 

Kew Mus. 
Hose • • 
Blume's Rumph. 
Martin's Nat. Hist. Palm 
Leiden Mus. 

Dammar Fruit Richard's Conifers 


Kayan Figure Head for war canoe 
Ornament on bow of Lanun pirate boat 

Brooke Low 
Sir E. Belcher 






(xxxii.) H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N, Borneo, 

BOATING iconiinued). 

Dyak War Prahu, on Skerang river 
Paddle of dark brown wood 

x'^ADDLE •• •• •• •• •• •• 

UO, •• •• ■•• •• •• •• 

Model of Dyak Dugout, Mat, and Section 

LuNDU Women in a Canoe 

Model op a Tukau . . 


Dyak Brass Jews Harp 

So-called Jew's Harp 

Kenniah Nose Flute 

Dyak Engkruri 

Kayan Keluri 

Tarajong Busoi and Aran 


Dyak Bow and Fiddle 

Species of Banjo 

Dyak Four-Stringed Harp .. 
Do. do. do. 

Primitive Violin 

Long-Kiput's Bambu Harp 

Malau Gong 

L'RUM •• •• •> •• •• 

Violin (Javanese pattern) 

Chinese Jar, obtained from the Dusuns by Mr. Hart 

^ZtfVdlLl •• •• «• •• ■• •• 

Do. do. do. 

Life Size Figure, near Mt. Santubong 
Stone Implement, discovered by Mr. A. H. Everett 

Iw VICWSS^ •• «• •• •• »• •• 

Do do. do (section) 

Carved Stone, artificially worked, found by Mr. 

Bead, found by Mr. A. H. Everett 

Stone Implement, said to come from Borneo, but 
of doubtful origin 

Chinese Jar, with inscription on bottom 

Do. do. inscription on 

Inscription, discovered by Dr. Kern 

Dagger, with inscription 

Inscription, discovered by Dr. Kern 

Negrito Skull, profile 

Do. do. full face 

Sir E. Belcher 
Brit. Mus. 

Leggatt .. 
Marryat . . 


Brit. Mus. 

Edinbro' Mus. 

Brooke Low 
Leiden Mus. 
Brooke Low 
Brit. Mus. 
Brooke Low 


i» • • 
Brooke Low 
Edinbro' Mus. 
Brit. Mus 





















Brit. Mus. 

..i. 96 

,, . . . . 

. . i. 427 

H.H. The Ranee 

.. 2bo 

Oxford Mus 

.. 281 

II • . . • 

.. 302 

Brit. Mus 

.. 282 

,, . • • ■ 

.. 282 

Amsterdam Mus. 

.. 283 

Dresden Mus 

.. 288 

1 » • • • • 

.. 292 

.. 289 

Leiden Mus 

.. 290 

.. 292 

•• Crania Ethnica" .. 

.. 298 

II II • • 

.. 298 


A. — Sarawak: General position — Mr. Maxwell's Arrangement — Malays and Milanaus on the 
coast. Land Dyaks and their divisions — Alleged descendants from Pegu — Connection between 
the Milikins and the Sea Dyaks — Lara in-breeding and extinction — Wanderings of the 
Sennahs — Tradition as to descent of the Sauhs — Branches of the Sarawak river— Land Dyak 
physique and language. Sba Dyaks and their settlements— Footing on the Muka and Oya 
rivers— Scattering of the Sibuyaus - Ul Ayers in the Maloh country — Migrations of Rejang 
- tribes — General characteristics of Sea Dyaks. Milanaus : Their wide range and connections. 
Kayans: Their range and tribes -Migrations of Kayans and Kenniahs. Punans: Nomadic 
peoples — Characteristics. Bakatans : Nomadic peoples - Characteristics. Tatu-ing — Attempts 
at Agriculture — The real Aborigines — Not cannibals — Physique— Kayan physique. Muruts. 
Ukits: Their connection with Bakatans and Punans. Muruts: General characteristics. 
. BiSAYANs : Characteristics. 

B.— British North Borneo: General Population — Doompas Buludupis. Eraans. Sabahans. 
DusuNs: General Position— Characteristics — Chinese affinities - Misuse of the word Dyak. 
Tagaas. Kiaus. Sipulotbs. Saghais. Lanuns from Phillipines— Pirates— Independence. 
Bajaus from Malacca —Wandering sea-people - Quarrelsomeness — Buildings — Cock-fighting — 
Fishermen — Unthriftiness— Not Sulus— Petty pilferers—" Stain their bodies with blue." 
Baligini. Oran Tadong. 

C. — Mr. Hose's list of tribes in Borneo. 


The peoples inhabiting the Raj of Sarawak are Land Dyaks, Sea Dyaks, 
Milanaus, Kayans, Muruts, Ukits, Bisayans, Malays, and Chinese. With the 
Chinese and with the Malays the present work has nothing to do. 

I am indebted to Mr. F. R. O. Maxwell, formerly Chief Resident, for 
the following general account of the natives, their divisions and settle- 
ments : — 

" The Malays occupy the fringe of coast-land from the Dutch frontier, 
Tanjong Datu, northwards into the British North Borneo Company's territory. 
The coast-line between the Rejang river and the Tutong river is the original 
habitat of the Milanaus (they are now mostly restricted between the Bruit 
and the Bintulu), but this does not imply there are no Malays there. When 
this coast was under Brunei rule it was inhabited by Malays, but mostly by 
Malays appointed by the Sultan to squeeze the Milanaus and traders to buy and 
otherwise acquire sago ; but the main and real population were Milanaus. In 
the same way there are Malay villages sixty or seventy miles up some of 
the rivers, and the Dyaks are always complaining of the Malays encroaching 
on their lands. 


2 H, Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

I. — " The Land Dyaks occupy the extreme southwest corner of the 
Raj, excepting the coast fringe as above mentioned, as far as the Millikin 
river, a branch of the Sadong river, both banks of which they inhabit from 
there upwards. They extend also into Dntch Borneo.' 



' '■ The Land Dya.ks number some forty branch tribes wilh great v 
noulil now be almost impossible to find the main or principal slock unless it can be traced back to 
(he Malay or Javanese tongues." (Brooke i. 47.) 

"The inland populatioa itiand about this division of Borneo [His Highness is referring to the 
Land Dyaks] are eastward and northward bound, frequently migrating in search of fresh farming 
lands, about which they continually quarrel, and in consequence disperse, forming a new nucleus for 
a branch tribe." {ibid. 48.) 

Geographical Distribution. 3 

" Their chief settlements are : — 
Aup - - ■ Upper Sadong river. 

Bukar ■ ■ - Foot of Mount Bukar, Upper Samarahan river.' 
Brang • - - Left hand branch, Sarawak river. 
Engrat (Min-gral) Upper Sadong river 

■ According to Mr. Denison. the Bukar tribes villages are Kumpang, LancbanK, Jinan axiA 
Mungo Babi, Al Sungei Buah he wriies : •■ Here the Pegu people settled and amalgamated with the 
Sarawak villagers, aod I am assured that in former times beards and whiskers such as are now seen 
among ihe Bukar Dyaks were not uncommon among the Malays of Samwak. The majority of the 
Pegu people went to the Samarahan and settled in the midst of the Si Muntungs, who, having been 
but slightly crossed with other nalives. the strain shows more plainly and accounts for the whiskers 
and beards of Ihe Bukars, though this peculiarity is yearly becoming less perceivable. In fact, even 
so late as the European occupation of the country, the falling off in numbers of thost Dyaks who 
could boast these hairy appendages, is clearly perceivable " {chap, viii, p. 86.) 

Mr. Charles Grant also 
writes : "It is said that a 
colony of Peguans settled many 
years ago at Santubong on the 
mouth of the Sarawak river, 

and earthenware remains have 
lately been dug up al that place ; 
possibly it nay have been the 
site of the Pegu settlement. 
Whether these colonists left 
^ain. or whether they merged 
into other races of Borneo, no 
one knows. Most probably the 
latter supposition is the true 
one : and if so, may not the 
traces of foreign customs which 
we observe among some Dyak 
tribes be the marks left by the 
Buddhists of Pegu ? I have 
been told that the Buhar Dyaks 
of Samarahan are descendants 
of the Peguans. They certainly 
have a peculiar appearance, un- 
like that of most Dyaks, many 
of the men having whiskers, 
and being comparatively tall. 
I once, however, asked some 
of these Dyaks if the above 
assertion of the neighbouring 

Makf,™. comet. 'Oh no.' 3,^^,,, p,,^ 

Ihoy ^i. ■ ,t » the »•%• of „„„ ,.„ „ u„,, p,„, „„„,. .. ,„^,., 

Samttakan who are descended 
from the P^uans.' " 

Such statements appear to be repeated by almost every writer who happens to mention the 
Bukars, bat I cannot find that anyone adduces any evidence to prove it. On writing to my friend 
Hr. E. S, Symes, Government Secretary, Burmah, on the question, he replies: "Pegu, as you no doubt 
know, is a city some fifty miles N.N. E. of Rangoon, formerly the capital of a kingdom. Its population 
is now of a very mixed character, but the ancient inhabitants — of whom many still remain in and 
about Pegu, and to whom I suppose you refer— are known to themselves as Muns, and to the 
Burmese and English as Talaings. They have, like the Burmese, long hair, but they very rarely 
have beards or any but a few straggling hairs on their faces, I know of no race except (he Talaings 
to whom the name Peguan could be applied, and I never heard of the Talaings having settled in 
Borneo." On the evidence of the hair alone it may therefore be much doubted whether the Bukars 
have any P^n blood in their veins, Pegu was destroyed in 1757 a.d. 

4 H. Ling Roth.— Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

Engkroh - - Upper Sarawak river. 

Kmp (Quop) - Kuap river, tributary of Sarawak, below Kuching. 

Kadup ■ - - Tributary of the Sadong river. 

Millikin ■ - Tributary of the Sadong river.* 

Sakarang Women. 

The one in the cenire is wearliig a silver coronel designed by Uc. P. R. O. Maiwell. The women *rs 

fond of cliarue, and once a depulalion waited upon him lo uk him (0 invent a new head gear, 

and for a time hh design was very fashionable and spread up and down the rlrer. 

(Sir Hugh Low Coll.) 

* Sir James Brooke says :~" They are a branch of the Sibuyows, originally discarded from 
the interior of Santang." (Mundy ii. 63.) 

" This fine tribe, now inhabiting Sadong, was originally connected with the Sibuyows : and 
both these tribes, as well as the Serebas and Sakarran, have a common origin, and descended to the 
coast from the interior of the Kapuas River. The Sibuyows locating themselves near the sea have 
become a maritime people : whilst the Milikin, settling in tbe interior, know nolhinf; of tbe ways of 
the great deep, and navigate nothing larger than a canoe. Tbe Serebaa and the Sakarran. like the 
Milikin. were an inland people, ignorant of seafaring, until the Malays taught them that art and 
plracv at the same time, Serebas showed tbe way ; Sakarran, which was a dependency of Kaluka, 
remained peaceful till the advent of Sheriff Sahib's father, when they were initiated in these two 
accom plishme n 1 5 . 

" In Sheriff Sahib's time they were perfect masters of tbe trade ; and now I hope they will 
gradually lose the practice of piracy, without abandoning their character as good and bold seamen, 
" II is remarkable, however, that whilst the Dyaki of Sakarran devoted themselves to piracy, 
the Dyaks of the Batang Lupar, living in the same country, never became addicted lo this vice, and 
continued a quiet agricultural race. The Kumpang and other Dyaks of this branch of the river 
may be esteemed, therefore, as representing what the Sakarrans likewise were, about forty or fifty 
years ago." (Keppel : Meander ii. pp. roi-103,) 

Geographical Distribution. 5 

Lara - - - In Lundu territory from Dutch Borneo.* 

.£, , , i-i * u D if [Have come over into Lundu where 

[Sa»te - - Dutch Borneo] ) „^k ,„„, he coast.] 

Sakarahg Dvaks. 

* " The Lundu bouses, on Ihe top of a low hill, are but few in number, neat and new. The 
(ribe, however, has fallen ; they fear there is a curse on them. A thousand families, they say. once 
cultivated this valley, but now Ihej are reduced to ten, not by the ravages of war, but by diseases 
sent by the spirits. They complain bitterly that they have no families, that Iheir women are not 
fertile ; indeed, there were but three or four children in the whole place. The men were &ne-looking. 
and the women well favoured and healthy— remarkably clean and free from disease. We could only 
account for their decreasing numbers by iheir constant intermarriages ; we advised them to seek 
husbands and wives among the neighbouring tribes, but this is difficult. Their village is a well- 
drained, airy spot." (St. John i. p. lo.) 

Mr.F. R.O. Maxwell informs me the Lundus in Sarawak Raj are now extinct. Mr Noel Deni son, 
writing twenty years ago, says: "The Lundu tribe was once large and powerful, but are now 
reduced to a mere fruition of their number; the ravages of small pox in 1844 [?] almost exterminated 
them, ftud their persistent refusal to intermarry with ether tribes is fast destroying the remnant. 
The Peninjaub Dyaks on the Serambo mountain assure me thai ibe Lundus are an offshoot from 
their trfbe, who l«ft Serambo and settled at Lundu " (ch i, p, i.} 

H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N, Borneo, 


Samaharan river, thickly populated, rises near head of 
Sadong, and runs into same outlet as the Sarawak 

Sentah - 

Sennah (Sinar) 

- Left-hand branch Sarawak river.* 

- Upper Sarawak river. 

- Lundu river. 

- On a hill of that name, about ten miles from Kuching, 
between the Sarawak and Samarahan rivers. 

- . Sennah river, falling into the Sarawak about two days' 
journey from Kuching.* 

- Upper Sarawak river. 
Sibungo (or Bungoh) Upper Sarawak river. 

Simpoke - - On the Serin branch of Samarahan river. 
Sigu - - - ^ Tributary of Sarawak river. 
Sow (Sauh) - - Upper Sarawak river.' 

^ The Bombok and Peninjauhs are included in this tribe. 
(Denison, ch. i. p. 2.) 

* " The Sennahs were originally settled at Sikong, and they 
left that country under a leader or chief called Trau. Trau fled 
from Sikong, having committed the crime of matricide, the parti- 
culars of which are too indecent to mention ; suffice it to say, that 
after cutting down his mother with a parang, he laid open her 
stomach and found it full of the seeds of every description of fruits. 
Collecting these, Trau fled towards Sambas with his followers, 
whence taking prau he arrived at the mouth of the Sarawak river 
(Sungei Buah). Hence he continued his ascent of the river, and 
settled at Batu Kara, near Mungo Angus, just above Sungei Siol. 
Here Trau planted the seeds found in his mother's belly, and the 
old groves of fruit-trees which are even now in existence on the 
spot bear witness, say the Dyaks, to the truth of this story. The 
next place where the Sennahs settled was at Batu Kawa. near Si 
Gobang ; they then ascended the southern branch of the Sarawak 
river to a place called Lubuck Tinuwan, on the left bank below 
Sempro. Trau again moved his followers up stream, and finding 
the water too shallow for his praus, abandoned them at a place 
called Batu Jung, about two reaches above the present landing- 
place^of the Brang tribe, and just above this is a stone called Batu 
Kamudi. Both these names, say the Sennah Dyaks, were 
originally given to these places by Trau, the former being the place 
where his praus proved useless, and the latter being given to the 
rudder of Trau's prau, which remained so long in existence here, 
that it finally turned into stone. Having now no prau, Trau and 
his followers walked overland to Muara Kundung, a small stream 
between Muara Sennah and Sennah, where they lived sometime, 
moving from thence to their present location." (Denison, ch. vi. 
p. 66.) 

^ Mr. Denison includes the Grogo, Tambawang, Suba, 
Krokong, Jagui, and Owp (Aups) in the Sow (Sauh) tribe. The 
Gumbang and the Tringus he treats as separate tribes, (ch. i. p. 2.) 

The Grogo Dyaks are an offshoot of the Sauh Dyaks. After 
the Saubs had once crushingly defeated the Sakaran invaders, they 
were in turn thoroughly beaten by a fresh body of Sakarans. 
" Thus it came about that the great Sauh tribe became scattered over the face of the country, 
and is now found under the distinct and separate Dyak names of Grogo, Suba, Krokong, Jagui, and 
Aup. All these settlements spring from the once flourishing and prosperous tribe of Sauh. which 
had its location at Beratak, on Gunong Undang. . . . These Dyaks tell me that the Peninjauh 

Sea Dyak Woman. 
(From C. Dammar's Coll.) 

Geographical Distribution. 

Stang - - - Upper Sarawak river. 

Tebia - - - Tebia river, left-hand branch of Sarawak river. 

" Fifteen miles above the town of Kuching the Sarawak river divides, 
and the branches are wrongly called the right and left-hand branches as 
viewed coming from the mouth and not as coming from the source ; on the 
left-hand branch, as wrongly so called, are the Sentah, Sigu, Sennah, 
Sampro, and Sibungoh, and on the right-hand branch the Sarambau, Singgi, 
Engkroh, and Sow. 

** The Land Dyaks as a race are small, slightly built, untatued ; colour 
same as Malays, hair black and straight. In some villages in the Samarahan 
I found men (the Bukars) with small goat-like beards. Language is entirely 
different from Malay or Sea Dyak, and it differs so much among the tribes 
that those in Upper Sarawak find difficulty in making themselves under- 
stood in the Upper Sadong. One peculiarity in the Land Dyak is their 
inability to pronounce the letter /, using r in its place, thus for the Malay 

word bilalang — grasshopper — they say birarang (in- 
versely to what the Chinaman does, who not being 
able to pronounce an r uses an /)^ Some of the 
Land Dyaks, but not all, burn their dead, and a few 
tribes will touch the flesh of deer. They hold feasts 
and consult birds and omens and believe in a 
Supreme Being, whom they call Dervata. They 
live mostly on the sides of mountains, but have 
probably been driven to them for protection from 
their enemies the Sea Dyaks. The Upper Sadong 
tribe is an exception to this, as their villages are 
found principally on the river banks. 

IL — '*The Sea Dyaks occupy the country 
from the boundary of the Land Dyaks eastwards to 
a line somewhat as follows : From the Tatan river, 

story is true as regards the descent of the Sauhs. It will be re- 
membered in the account given of the Serambo Dyaks, that Rupak 
had a step-son called Bunga, the child by a first husband of a 
widow whom he had married. Bunga's son was Putan, who moved 
to Sungie Pinang ; his son was Karud, and Karud's son Makurng 
moved his portion of the tribe to Beratak. Hence the Sauh tribe. 
The Grogos bear out this, and say that when they left Dinding they 
went to Sungie Pinang. thence to Rata Manas, thence to Gunong 
Kingi, and then settled at Beratak. When they came to Beratak 
they found the Gumbang and Tringus Dyaks already on their 
respective mountains." (Denison, ch. iii. pp. 24. 25.) 

8 •• Many individuals in Europe are of opinion that the Dyaks 
are descended from the Chinese, and the latter themselves entertain 
the same supposition; one fact, however, will tend greatly to 
weaken this notion. The Dyaks, even those who reside constantly 
with the Chinese settlers, can never attain the pronunciation, or even 
a correct knowledge of the idiom of the language spoken by the 
latter, a circumstance which does not arise from any deficiency of 
intellect or application in the Dyaks, since they acquire a perfect knowledge of the Malay and 
Bugis tongues with the greatest facility. The formation of the two latter, however, and many 
of the words they contain, are perfectly similar to the dialects of the Dyaks, which accounts for the 
readiness with which they are acquired." (Earl, p. 276.) 

Sea Dyak Woman. 
(From C. Dammar's Coll.) 

H.'LiNG Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

both banks of which they occupy, 
almost as far (?) as its tributary — the 
Kakus river, then along both banks of 
the Anap river, crossing the Rejang river 
above the knee, to the west of Mount 
Ulan Buha, straight on, crossing the 
Balleh river about twenty miles west of 
Fort Kapit and then on the Dutch frontier 
somewhere to the north-east of Mount 
Saribu Saratus. To the south the Sea 
Dyaks extend into Dutch territory. Their 
establishment in Oya, Muka, and Tatan 
is quite recent and since the establish- 
ment of European rule.' 

" The Sea Dyaks' chief settlements 
and tribes are : — 

Batang Lupars or Balang Ayers. The Dyaks living on the banks of the 
Batang Lupar from about fifty miles up that river till eighty miles up 
call themselves Batang Ayer, Batang meaning a trunk or main stem 
and Ayer water, meaning simply the main river to distinguish them 
from the people living on the tributaries. Towards the head of 
the river, the people call themselves Ulu Ayer. This nomenclature 
applies equally to the Rejang river, 
Ballaus. On Batang Lupar and Lingga rivers, named from a hill about 
twenty-five miles up the Batang Lupar, a few miles above the 
mouth of the Lingga river. Lingga is their real centre.'" There 
is no Ballau river (Balleh has nothing to do with Ballau). 
Skarans (Sakarangs), On tributary river of that name of the Batang Lupar. 
Undops. On tributary river of that name of the Batang Lupar." 
Lcmanaks. On tributary river of that name of the Batang Lupar. 
Sibuyaus. On Sibuyau river, between Sadong and Batang Lupar rivers. 
They call themselves Sea Dyaks, but speak that language with a 
peculiar accent (Sibnowans is the name given in error by Sir H. 

■ " At the head-waters of the Muka and Oya rivers some Sea-Dayaks have settled. On the Oya 
river are three chiefs, with a followinK of perhaps too fighting men : oa the Muka there are four 
chiefs with perhaps the same following. These Dayaks have come in from the Rejang and KaDOwit 
rivers, there being a great tendency on the part of the people of these rivers to settle in Muka and 
Oya." (Denison, Jour. Straits Asiatic Soc., No, lo. p. i8i,j 

10 "^hey are represented as very brave, and are engaged in ceaseless warfare with their neigh- 
bours, against whom they maintain themselves, though very inferior in number." (Sir Jamea 
Brooke, Mundy, i. 236.) 

1' The Undups maintain that the Ballaus were originally of their tribe, i.i., Undups. (Crosaland.) 

" " The Samarahan was a favourite attacking ground of the pirates, and owed much of its 
safely to the courage of these Dayaks, who were formeriy more united than they are now. The 
Sibuyau are, in fact, sirangeis. They were harassed out of their own country by the Seribas pirates 
and retired to Samarahan ; they are now scattered, a section here, a larger one on the Lundu river, 
another at Meradang on the Quop, besides smaller villages on the Sarawak, the Sadong, and Id 
other districts." (St. John i. 208.) 

According to Sir Hugh Low these people " came originallv from the country situated about 
the sources of the western branch of the Batang Lupar in the direction of the Lake Danau 
Malayan." (p. 166.) 

lo H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N, Borneo. 

Ulu Ayers are Batang Lupar Dyaks living in the head-waters of that river 
(Ulu means head, but it is not used in that sense when speaking 
of living things or human beings ; thus ulu parang; is the handle of 
the sword, and pengulu is headman or chief).** 

Sarebas. On Sarebas river, about ten miles from north of Batang Lupar. 

Kalukas. On Kaluka river, which runs into the sea about eight miles from 
mouth of Sarebas. 

Rejang. A large and important river thickly populated by Malays and 
Dyaks. The principal tributaries on which the Sea Dyaks live are 
the Seriki,^* the Kanowit,^ running upwards towards the head of 
the Sakarang, the Katibus, running up towards the head of the 
Batang Lupar. These two latter tributary streams of the Rejang 
have been settled from the Sakarang and the Ulu Batang Lupar 
respectively. Besides these, there is a large Dyak population living 
on the banks and up the small tributary streams of the Rejang 80 
to 150 miles from the mouth, who are classed under the head of 
Ulu Ayers or Ulu Rejang Dyaks. At one time these Ulu Ayers 
settled in large numbers in the Balleh river, but owing to the 
difficulty of keeping them in order, through their being some 
distance above the Government station of Kapit, they were ordered 
to remove down. 

** The Sea Dyaks are more stoutly built than the Land Dyaks,*** well 
proportioned, clean skinned, and as a rule, though some tribes suffer much 
from kurap or worm, of a rich brown colour ; hair black and straight. 
Language resembles that of the Malay a good deal. They believe in dreams, 
consult birds as omens before engaging on any undertaking of importance, 
and bury their dead. They believe in a future state, though they have a very 
vague notion of what it is like. They live in long houses on the river banks 
and tatu on the shoulders and arms but slightly. 

1^ In his great cross-country expedition of 1861 Sir Chas. Brooke says of the natives of the 
Upper Batang Lupar : " They told me they had left this river about forty years ago to live in the 
Maloh country, to which they had been persuaded to go for the sake of obtaining jars and other 
kinds of valuable property ; but while there they found the reality was what had been pictured to 
them, for they were frequently attacked, and lost at different times seventeen of their people, killed 
by Kayans and Bakatans. as well as most of their property. They only returned to this country a 
year and a half ago, and now live in constant alarm of the Kayans and Bakatans." (ii. 175.) 

" Sir Hugh Low seems to speak of the people here as Siboos. (p. 364.) 

^* Writing so far back as 1859, the present Rajah says of the Kanowit river : — 
" This stream is inhabited by Sea Dyaks, who had for the last fifteen or twenty years been 
migrating from the Saribus and Sakarang districts for the purpose of obtaining new farming grounds. 
These exoduses took place overland between one river and another. Such parties would do their 
four or five days' march, then build their houses, and proceed to farm for one or two years, after 
which they would recommence their march, and so on, until they arrived at their final destination." 

"• 327 ) 

It was the Kanowits who, probably at the instigation of the Malay chiefs, murdered Messrs. 

Steele and Fox in 1859. 

i« The Land Dyaks are much harsher in features than the Sea Dyaks, who are more like the 
Malays. (Bishop McDougall. T.E.S. ii., 26.) 

12 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

III. — The MiLANAUS. " The position of the Mtlanaus has already been 
given," The Milanaus are a quiet people, not Mohamedan, but dressing like 
the Malays, and cultivating sago. They are very fair, some of the girls qiiite 
as white as Europeans ; hair black and straight." 

" " There was formerly a Milaoo village below Ihe present one of Men, the posts of which 
attracted my attention as we ascended the river. This village was abandoned in times gone by, as 
the natives were so harassed and ravaged by Dayaks and Kayans. Ihat they had lo move their 
quarters, and they are now scattered over the different rivers in the neighbourhood." (Denison, 
Jour. Straits Asiatic. Soc . No. lO. p. 176.) 

" I am inclined lo agree with the theory of H H. the Rajah that the Milanos are the most 
numerous and widely ranged tribes in Borneo ; al all events from vocabularies in my possession, and 
from a careful examination of similarity in manners and customs, I am convinced th^ the 
Kinniahs and Kyans of the Barram river ; the Kanowits, Kajamangs. Baliatans, Lugats. Ukits, 
Tanjongs. and Punans of Upper Rejang ; the Talans and Balineans, the Bakatans of Upper Oya 
and Muba. and the Tamans and Malows of Upper Kapuas, are distinctly of the same stock — but we 
have at present more particularly to deal with the Milanos, who inhabit the mouths of the Rejang, 
Blawi. Palo, Bruil, Egan, Mudan, Oya, Muka, and Bintulu, and who number in all about 30,000 
souls." (W. M. Crocket. S.G., No. 120, p. 7.) 

" " As to their origin, I am inclined to (hink, from the similarity of religion, that they may 
claim descent from ihe same ancestors who were the progenitors of the inhabitants of Timor and 
the Moluccas, and, I think, also the Kyaas. who certainly entered this country from the east, may 

Geographical Distribution. 15 

IV.— The Kayans. " The Kayan country extends from that of the Sea 
Dyaks' boundary to Brunei, and to within ten or fifteen miles of the left bank 
of the LimbauR river. They extend in Dutch territory almost right across 
the island and are the chief native people of Borneo. (The Dutch name 
Kahaijan, given to a large river, is only another reading of the word Kayan.) 

"The Kayans and Kntmahs"' occupy the greater part of the country 
between the Dutch frontier range and the low coast-lands inhabited by the 

Kyan in War Dress. 

(Sir Hugh Low Coll.) 
claim clanship wiih them. I should not consider either the Kyans or Malanaus entitled to be called 
aborigines o( the country, nor the Dayaks, who seem to have come front the south and south-east, 
and to have gradually worked their way up the great rivers, pushin;; the aborigines before them." 
(de Crespigny, J A I., v 34) 

■'"The Kayans and Kcnniahs inhabiting the head waters of the Baram River and its 
iribuiaries are sub-divided into the Uma Pliaus and Uma Poh Kayans. Long Wats, Uma 
Pawas, Sibops, Leppu Laangs. Madangs. and Leppu Pohun Kenniahs. The first three of the 
above-named sub-sections are of the Kayan race. The rest are to be regarded as Kenniahs. 
Tbe Kenniahs who migrated to the Baram River some hundred years or so before the Kayans, 
were the only people able (o resist the constant raids made by the latter, who, being a blustering, 
warlike race, almost eitenTiinated the smaller tribes and made slaves of the weaker ones. Naturally 
the Kayans occupied the best tracts of land consisting of the undulating areas between the swampy 
low country and the mountains at the head waters ; they also confiscated all the caves of the 
esculent swallows, selling their nests to the traders whenever a Brunei, Malay, or Chinese dared to 
venture up river amongst them. Kayans often travelled eis far as Brunei in their long boats, and 
•oine few even adventured as far as Singapore, taking passage in Chinese jiinks to Labuan to sell the 
produce of these caves." (Hose, J.A.I., xxlii. 157.) 

i6 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

Milanaus ; in other words, the fertile lands through which the Baram and 
its confluent the Tinjar flow. They include the Kalabits^ in the country 
of some of the head-waters of the Baram river round Mount Salaan, Sibops 
on the head-waters of the Tinjar, the Madangs on the head-waters of the 
Baloi (Rejang) and Tinjar river — the latter the great tributary of the Baram. 

** The Kajamans, the Skapans or Punans^^ on the Rejang are supposed to 
be Kayan oflf-shoots, and so are also the Bakatatts^ (in Malay Bakatan means 
hill people). 

^ " The Kalabits— a numerous race of people living inland on the hills and plains, to the north 
of the Baram River, and in the far interior of that part of Borneo— bear a very close resemblance to 
low country people of the Baram river, possessing many traits and habits in common with the 
Barawaiis and Long Patas, formerly inhabiting the country now occupied by the Kayans. They 
were separated from the low country people and driven out by the Kayans who came from the 
Balungan and Koti rivers some eight generations back." (Hose, J. A I., xxiii. 157.) 

** " The Punans— nomadic tribes, found at the head waters of all the big rivers in central 
Borneo. I have no doubt in my mind that this wandering race of people are the aboriginals 
of the country. In physique they are a fine healthy race, large boned and very strong, with fair 
skins and a complete immunity from skin diseases. They build no houses, and live upon what they 
can shoot with the blowpipe and on jungle fruits, and owing to their custom of always living in the 
shade of the dense forest, are afraid of the sun. They are an honest and unselfish people and they 
alone of all theraces in Borneo do not regard the human head as a trophy of war and the taking 
thereof as a legitimate act of prowess ; and when once well known they undoubtedly prove to be 
the best mannered people of any of the savage tribes inhabiting the island. They have large 
families of from seven to ten children, which is also unusual in Borneo, and though no doubt the 
weaker members die young owing to the rough life they lead, this fact tends to preserve and improve 
the physical excellence of the race. They are great hunters, being able to move through the jungle 
without making the slightest noise, and have a name for every living thing, which name is known by 
even the small boys. They are wonderfully expert in the use of the blowpipe, shooting their 
poisoned arrows with such precision that it may be said that they seldom miss even the smallest 
object aimed at, yet this efficiency with their weapons notwithstanding, they are a very timid race, 
but can fight in self-defence. 

" The Punans never plant paddy, but sometimes collect the fruit of a tree called Pran, which 
they dry and store for a time. They work india-rubber, and are really the only people in Borneo 
who systematically work the camphor tree, exchanging the camphor with the Kayans and Kenniahs 
for tools, tobacco, &c. ; the Kayans. not wishing them to know the true value of their products, cut 
them off from all direct communication with the Chinese and Malay traders. 

"They occasionally live in caves, but not for long periods, as the caves, being mostly of Umestone 
formation, are damp and cold, and are consequently liable to breed fevers." (Hose, J.A.I., xxiii. 158.) 

** •' The heads of the Oya are inhabited by Bakatans. the most primitive branch of the Milano 
tribes. Until very recently they had no fixed residence, they built no houses, planted no paddy, but 
lived in trees and roamed the jungle in search of plants, iiuits, and whatever game they could kill 
with their sumpitan or poisoned arrows, or fish they could catch in the streams. They are skilful in 
the manufacture of the sampitan and expert in its use. 

" There are several families now settled at the head of the Oya, and as a Dyak informed me, 
they have learnt ' to eat rice and use a blanket,' they have built themselves good houses and plant 
paddy regularly. Having intermarried with the Dyaks they have gained an idea of property and 
supply their new acquirements by working jungle produce with assiduity. Some of them came to 
visit me one day with a Dyak lad, who had been the house servant of a friend of mine — this lad had 
settled near them and gained their confidence ; they came to complain of the exactions of their Dyak 
neighbours, who of course imposed upon a tribe more unsophisticated than themselves." (W. M. 
Crocker, S.G., No. 122, p. 8.) 

" The wandering tribes of Pakatan and Punan. which seldom build regular houses, but prefer 
running up temporary huts, and when they have exhausted the jungle around of wild beasts and 
other food, they move to a new spot. They are great collectors of wax. edible bird's nests, camphor, 
and rattans. They are popularly said to be fairer than the other inhabitants of Borneo, as they are 
never exposed to the sun, living in the thickest part of the old forest. Those we have seen were 
certainly darker, but they themselves assert that their women are fairer. It is probable that 

Geographical Distribution. 17 

"In stature and build the Kayans are more inclined to flesh than the 
Dyaks, and they are also lighter in colour than the latter. Their hair is black 

exposure to the air has as much effect upon them as exposure to the sun. I have often met with 
their little huts in the forest and used them as night lodgings, but I have never come across these 
wild tribes. I have seen individual men, but never communities." (St. John i. 25.) 

" The Pakatans are an interesting tribe. Although they lead a wandering life in the forests and 
do not live in houses, they are by no means the savages one would infer from that fact, although the 
Dyaks treat them with pity and a little contempt. They tatoo themselves from from head to foot in 
the most beautiful manner. They live almost entirely by the chase. Latterly they have sown padi 
here and there among the Dyak clearings, but. having sown it, go away into the jungle, and at 
harvest time are content to take what the pigs and deer have left them. Their language is quite 
different to Malay, Dyak, or Kyan, and sounds very much like Tamil. Can they be a remnant of 
people from India ? Although they are wanderers they have their possesions, consisting of gongs 
and jars, which tbey stow away in the hills, (de Crespigny, Proc. R. Geog. Soc., viii., 1873, p. 133.) 

" On the Upper Batang Lupar we passed many houses on the river's bank, and one or two 
were pointed out as belonging to Bakatans, who have become sufBciently civilised to build 
habitations, although they will be little able to appreciate them for at least a generation to come. 
They even farm, but after a poor fashion. They cut down the jungle and bum, and then scatter 
seed, after which they allow it to take its course ; the result is, the padi and tares grow together, and 
the latter are more plentiful. Between whiles the Bakatans resort to their old habits of jungle 
prowling in search of food, and depend on the sumpit arrow for such game as deer and pigs. Some 
few of the most luxurious have taken to rice food, and in time of great want have been known to sell 
their children for this article. This seems their first step towards civilisation, 

" They are dangerous enemies and doubtful friends, pouncing on a foe when and where least 
expected, or secretly using the poisonous arrow from an ambush. Their word, according to all 
reports, is no more to be trusted than the whistling of the winds ; but it is to be feared they scarcely 
have fair opportunities for displaying their true characters or bettering their condition, as, wherever 
they become at all settled they are shamefully oppressed by the Dyaks, and the consequence is, 
these wild ones prefer returning to the natural and primitive state of their forefathers, rather than 
work for the advantage of others. I look on these people as being the aboriginal stock of the 
population coastwise in this section of the Island of Borneo, and their language tends to support the 
hypothesis. . . . 

" At Biotulu I entered into conversation with an old man of a party bound for a neighbouring 
river. He told me he was a Bakatan, had lived for many years among the Dyaks, and bad been 
treated worse than a slave by them — being turned out of one place, then another, until he trusted 
now he had at length found a quiet river, as a home where they might be able to use the land and 
consider it their own property. This old fellow sat on a fallen tree close to me ; he was stone blind, 
and observed he should like to have the use of his sight a short time, just to see a white man. He 
was tattooed from head to foot, and very dark, but his features were regular and well sbapen ; he 
spoke with a considerable degree of straightforwardness and sense. The quarter of an hour I waited 
for the boat I felt had been well spent. He told me there were several dialects spoken amongst 
their branch tribes, and so different in sound as not to be understood by each other ; these are the 
[>rimitive and furthest removed from civilisation, many not living in houses, but in trees; not 
farming, but roaming about from one spot to another for game to live on. There are no means of 
holding any communication with them, as such people are as timid as jungle deer, and as subtle as 

tigers in the use of their poisonous arrows On the Balleh stream the Dyaks inform 

me there are roving Bakatans or Ukits, generally to be found about the banks, in most cases in 
search for wild animals, which report says, abound up this stream. But the Ukits are on friendly 
terms with the Kayans, and take every opportunity of suppljring them with the heads of people 
obtained from parties in search for gutta percha or other wild productions for trade. In exchange 
for these heads they get rice and sago. The Dyaks hold these wild Ukits in much awe, as they say, 
' We can never see or get near them, and we cannot resist an enemy like a bird that blows an arrow 
from a tree upon us.' .... I believe myself they bear a strong af&nity to the Jakoons of the 

interior of Malacca These Bakatans are not cannibals, but depend entirely on the 

production of the wilderness for the staples of life. There will be much difBculty in gaining any 
influence over such a people, and it is to be feared they will decrease even to extermination, rather 
than adapt themselves to civilised modes 

" On the Rajang about 50 miles north of Kanowit one afternoon we passed two Bakatans whom 
I had seen at Kejaman on our ascent, when they asked me for some sign to keep them safe from the 


i8 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

and straight. Their eyes are more Hke those of the Chinese than those of 
the Malays. Their language differs entirely from that of the Sea or Land 

V. — ** The MuRUTS occupy the ground from the left bank of the Limbang 
into British North Borneo territory. 

" The Muruts are bigger men than the Dyaks, but I know little of them 
as they have only lately come under Sarawak rule. They have nothing in 
common with the Dyaks ; their appearance, language, and customs differ 

VL — ** The Ukits (name probably derived from the Malay Bukit^ a hill) 
inhabit the hilly country inland, leading a wandering life, mostly in the Kayan 

attack of our party when foraging against the enemy. They were by far the wildest men it had 
ever been my fortune to see, clothed with Maias (orang-utan) skins over their backs and shoulders, 
using skin caps with dingy feathers attached to them ; but their dress could never have enhanced 
the wildness of nature's robes. They had well-shaped heads, and moderately good figures— bones 
without an extra ounce of f!esh, and denoting great muscular power ; aquiline noses, with sunken 
eyes, yet sparkling with the ferocity of a wild animal ; cheeks indented under high and prominent 
bones, the lower parts of which, instead of being clothed with whiskers, were tattooed ; this 
ornament passed round the chin. They looked such peculiar objects that I could not vouchsafe for 
any sign being a guard against attacks of our people when in an excited state ; so recommended 
them to keep to their boats, and as close to us as they could." (Brooke ii. 195-6; 225-6; 250-1 ; 

^ The tribes which Mr. Maxwell groups under the heading of Kayans. Sir Charles Brooke, 
writing 30 years ago, groups as Malanaus. " This is the most numerous and widely-ranged tribe, far 
different from the rest, with ramifications extending over a space of many hundreds of miles, and 
occupying localities in the interior and centre of the island, extending to the heads of the Kotei, 
Banger Massin, and Kapuas rivers in the interior, and beyond Brunei in- a northward direction. 
Their exodus has been, and still is, from the top or head section of the Kapuas. And their different 
stages of advancement in civilisation are extremely interesting to observe. The most primitive 
section of the tribe are the Bakatans and Ukits, named from (bukit) a hill, with an affix "an " — 
meaning hill tribes. It will be desirable to mention that many of their practices are like those of 
the Samangs or Jacoons of the interior of Malacca. A vocabulary of the language of the latter I 
have as yet failed to obtain. The branch divisions are severally called after the countries in which 
they reside, each possessing different customs and dialects ; but the whole coast between Rejang and 
Brunei is no doubt inhabited by these people. 

" The branches inhabiting the inland and up-rivers vary more, although very distinctly of the 
same stock. The names of some of those branches are Kanowit. Tanjong, Kajaman, Punan, Maloh, 
Skapan, Kenniah, Bakatan, Ukit, and numerous others.. Some few of these divisions possess 
traditions of having come originally from the Kotei river, which empties itself at the south-east of 
the Island. And between the Rejang and the Kotei there are tribes on tribes, all through the centre 
of the Island, all bearing a similarity to one another; yet they possess many individual charac- 
teristics, and diffier much in customs and dialects. 

" These people have never seen the sea, and depend upon no imported supplies for their 
livelihood, in spite of their affinity one with another. . . . 

" The Kayans are supposed to number ten thousand souls, and the lower intermediate branches 
of this tribe, named Kajamin, Skapan, Punan, Bakatan, and Ukit, muster many thousands more, 
but are now much broken up and scattered, many seeking quiet abodes out of the limits of these 
quarrelsome districts. Above the Kayan country is a tribe named Kenniah, who nominally have 
always been on friendly terms with us, but are really strangers, as they inhabit the very centre of the 
Island, between the Kotei and Rejang streams. All of the branch tribes are more or less tattooed : 
some at the wrist, others below the knee, some all over, and others only a little on the chest. I 
feel convinced they are all connected, and that the difference of dialects is to be accounted for by 
separation, which among such people, so soon produces changes of language, usages, and even 
appearance. The tribes of this river have a tendency to corpulency, and are clumsily built men. 
without the natural grace of most primitive peoples." (i. 72, 73 ; ii. 300, 301.) 

Geographical Distribution. 19 

"The Ukits do Ko/ build houses," and I have been told by a Dyak chief who 
once lived with them for a while that they make temporary shelters between 
buttresses of large forest trees. They live by hunting, and use the sumpitan 
or blow-pipe. I have only seen one Ukit and he was a chief, a well-built man 
about 5 feet 8 inches high, slim, and with a rather refined face, and a rather 
more prominent nose than the Dyak, Malay, or Kayan ; but this characteristic 
may have been peculiar to the man.'"* 

So far we have to thank Mr. Maxwell. Of the Muruts, Mr. F. O. 
Ricketts writes : — 

" Muruts are very low down in the scale as compared with the other tribes 
of Borneo ; the race is not by any means prepossessing, the generality are 
exceedingly ugly and uncouth, they have not the quiet manner nor the little 

" On the occasion of a Dyak while bunting Tor gutta being killed by a wild Ukit, a writer in 
the Saraaiali Gaiitii (No. 169. p. 54) says : " The Ukits are almost impossible 10 be found, ai they 
have no more fixed habitation (ban wild animals." 

*> There is every probability that the Punans, Pakatans, and Ukits are all one and the same 
people. (H L, R.) See infra in fool notes 31 and as. 

20 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

figure of the Sea Dyak ; they approach more nearly the Land Dyak of 
Sarawak, but, if anything, are worse as to general appearance. The Murut 
is loud and coarse, his house and habits are filthy, though if properly treated 
is friendly and always hospitable. 

" Those living in the interior of the Trusan differ in many respects to 
those in the lower waters ; they are more unsophisticated, their skin is of a 
lighter colour, they are cleaner, and are heavier and stronger built, skin 
disease is comparatively rare amongst them, whilst in the case of the latter it 
is the rule rather than the exception. Whether this is due to a difference of 
climate it is not easy to say, but, as they inhabit a mountainous country and 
use no boats, it may account for their having better health and physique. 

** The men as a rule are strong and wiry, though clumsy, and of medium 
height, they are capable of withstanding great fatigue. I have seen them sit 
up night after night drinking till daybreak, and then, after a snatch of sleep, 
start away on a tedious journey over steep mountain ranges carrying a heavy 
load without apparently feeling done up." (S. G., No. 347, p. 213.) 

Mr. de Crespigny considered the Muruts to be an old Malay immigration. 
(Berl. Zeits, N.F., v. 330.) 

VIL — The Bisayans. " The Bisayans come from the Philippine Islands. 
They are an interesting race. They inhabit the lower waters of the Padas and 
Kalias, where they are Islam ; they are also found on the Limbang, where 
they are Kafirs. They are very industrious, and raise herds of cattle and 
buffaloes with sago and paddy plantations ; they come over in numbers to 
Labuan during the quiet season to work coal and are much liked by their 
employers. They are a handsome well-made race much fairer in complexion 
than the people of Brunei. They are fond of gambling and think little 
of bloodshed." (S. G. No. 45.) 


In British North Borneo we have the Lanuns, Bajaus, Malays, Chinese, Sulus, 
Muruts, and Dusuns (Ida'an). 

As before we can dismiss the Malays, Chinese and also the Sulus, all of 
whom have been described elsewhere ; the Muruts we have dealt with in the 
first portion of this chapter. Commencing on the seaboard of the east 
coast, the first people met with are the Bajaus, or Sea Gypsies, on the 
littoral. The villages on the sea coast and at the rivers* mouths contain 
many Sooloos, Bugis, lllanuns, and others, but the first tribe of true Bornean 
aboriginals met with is the Booloodoopy, who have villages from Sugut to 
Paitan on the north to Tabunac on the south. Largely mixed up with them 
are the Doompas ^ on the north and the Eraans on the south. Inland from 
these people the whole bulk of the population are known as Dusuns or 
Sundyaks, divided up into many tribes and sections, including the Roongas, 
Kooroories, Umpoolooms, Saga Sagas, Tunbunwhas, Tingaras, Roomarrows 
and many others, those of the far interior little better than roving savages, 

^ A mixture of races, descendants of the interior, Sulus, Bajus, Malays and others. 

22 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit N. Borneo. 

while nearer the coast, where they have rubbed against Mahomedan 
civilisation, they are much more cultivated both in their dress and manners. 

I. — The Buludupis. . . . **The ftrst true tribe of the interior arrived 
at from the east coast is the Booloodoopy. The Booloodupies are a 
somewhat singular people, many of them having strangely Caucasian features, 
or at all events departing largely from the ordinary Mongolian type. Some 
of them have well-raised bridges to their noses, and very round eyes. . . . 
The Booloodoopies are not very bold, and as the richest of the birds' nest 
caves occur in their country, they have had to oppose cunning to the 
straightforward exactions made upon them from time to time by Sooloo and 
other rapacious adventurers.*' 

II. — The Eraans. ** The Eraans in Darvel Bay are closely connected 
with the Booloodoopies, and like them are large owners of birds* nest caves. 
At various times both these tribes have sought the society of Sooloo Datos, 
as a barrier against their fellow Datos, and a protection against the 
marauders who used to infest the country both by sea and land ; and in many 
places there is a large infusion of Sooloo blood in consequence. 

III. — The Sabahans. "In Darvel Bay there are the remnants of a tribe 
which seems to have been much more plentiful in bygone days — the Sabahans. 
Most of them are so mixed with the Eraans as to be almost indistinguishable. 
Some of them, however, still have villages apart, remain heathen in their 
religion, and would practise their old customs, human sacrifice included, if 
allowed. In some of the birds' nest caves, mouldering coffins are to be seen, 
rudely carved with grotesque figures, said to have been deposited there in 
bygone days by the old Sabahans. Many of these coffins are on ledges of 
rock at considerable elevations. 

IV. — The Dusuns. ** Next above the Booloodoopies are the Tunbunwhas, 
or the first sub-division of the main tribe or people known as the Dusuns or 
Sundyaks, who constitute the chief portion of the population of British North 
Borneo." (Pryer J. A. I. xvi. p. 23.) ** The principal inhabitants of the districts 
(Gaya Bay) consist of the Ida'an or Dusan, the aboriginal population.** They 
are essentially the same in appearance as the Dayak, the Kayan, the Murat, and 
the Bisaya; their houses, dress, and manners are very similar, modified of 
course, by circumstances. In the Kabatuan, Mengkabong, Sulaman, and 
Abai are some tribes of Ida'an, but I have not visited their villages ; I shall, 
therefore, confine myself to those I observed on the Tawaran and Tampasuk. 

** On the banks of the Tawaran, where it flows through the plain, are 
many villages of Ida'an, which are often completely hidden by groves of 
fruit-trees. These men have a civilized appearance, wearing jackets and 
trousers. As you advance into the interior, these gradually lessen, clothes 
being seen only on a few, as at Kiau, near Kina Balu ; beyond, they are said 

«7 " The Buludipis inhabit the China or Kina-batangan river. (Treacher, Jour. Straits Asiatic 
Soc., No. 20, p. 21.) 

Dr. Guillemard mentions the Buludupi on the Sigaliud River (Marchesa ii. 92-96). See infra 
Mr. Witti's Note (No. 29). 

^ Ida'an is the name given them by the Bajus, Dusun by the Borneans (Brunei people). 

24 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

to use the bark of trees. The Ginambur Ida*an are good specimens of the 
aborigines ; they are free from disease, and are clear-skinned ; they have 
good-tempered countenances. None of the women are good-looking; still 
they are not ugly. All the girls and young women wear a piece of cloth 
to conceal their bosoms : it was upheld by strips of coloured rattans : their 
petticoats were also longer than usual, and the young girls had the front of 
the head shaved, like Chinese girls." (St. John i. 374.) 

At Maludu Bay the same writer speaks of the Ida*an as '' a dark sharp 
featured race, intelligent looking, and appeared in features very much like the 
Land Dayaks of Sarawak" {ibid. 390.) 

Mr. Witti expresses himself very strongly against any supposed Chinese 
mixture in the blood of these Dusuns : — 

•' But let me now meet the favourite argument by engaging to point out 
for every Dusun with a so-called cut of features at least one other Dusun with 
an accidental Caucasian physiognomy ; and the fair, even rosy complexion of 
many of these people will certainly tend to bear out my opinion, already ex- 
pressed, viz., that no Chinese colonies ever existed in the very North of Borneo. 
Almost everything in which the Dusuns differ from the generality of the 
Malayan family is attributed to an infusion of Chinese blood ; and some 
glazed teapot found in a Dusun village is eagerly taken for a monument set 
by the Celestials themselves." (Diary, Nov. 23.) 

On his journey up the Pagalan river he speaks of some tribes thus : ** These 
people speak Dusun with many foreign words in it, probably of Dalit origin. 
They differ from the majority of Dusuns, both as regards bodily appearance 
and wearing apparel. On the whole, they are probably the result of an 
infusion of Chinese blood with the aboriginal race of North Borneo. Taller 
than the Dusun proper, these people have the zygomatic arches more 
prominent, and the eye-slit somewhat oblique, their complexion is of 
yellowish-white as compared with the light tawny colour of our Northern 
Dusuns, which has a tinge of ruddiness in it. What strikes one about these 
here, in juxtaposition to a typical Dusun, is that heavy flatness of the nose, 
reminding one of the ugliest specimen of Malay faces. Another peculiarity 
is that our friends here look so crabbed, yet they profess to drink nothing 
but water. It is to be surmised that the Kijau-Pampang Dusuns differ from 
their next neighbours in an ethnological respect, for that reason I venture 
these remarks about them now, but on insufficient evidence. Our journey 
will not take us back here again. In point of dress these Dusuns make even 
the Dusuns of our party laugh. An odd display of ornament they have. 

Fancy a man with three pairs of earrings and a sou'-wester 

Traders u#ed to comprise th^ three hamlets in this part under the name 
Kijau,** but, to the people themselves, that name is only known as applied to 
Kijau, at the head of the Kimanis valley." 

** " I here since found that the Nabian Dyaks used to speak of the Pampang hamlets as of Kijau. 
Some tribes, in fact, happen to be known under a different name than used by, or even known to, 
themselves. After having twice journeyed across the Upper Sugut district, I was yet unable to 
answer inquiries about the " Tampias" Dyaks, under which designation the Dusuns at the head of 
the Sugut are spoken of at Sandakan, on account of their pending quarrels with the Dumpas. The 
Buludupis are Tambunuas by habit and speech. At Sandakan the Sigaliud and Kinabatangan are 

26 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

" Mention is made by Mr. Dalrymple of a tribe distinct from the Dusuns, 
known as the Tagaas, who inhabit some of the mountains of the west coast, 
and who he seems to think are the descendants of some old and distinct 
race." (Pryer J.A.I, xvi. 236.) Mr. Dalrymple makes frequent mention of 
the Idaan (Dusuns) but I have not been able to trace the above statement.^ 

On the coast from Brunei Bay northwards to about Maludu Bay there is 
a settled advanced agricultural population of mixed Chinese and native descent. 
A portion of this people are known as Kiaus. 

In the centre of the Company's territory there are the Sipulotes; whether 
they are Muruts or E^usuns does not appear. 

The Saghais on the east coast are spoken of by Sir Edward Belcher as 
Dusun (or Idaan). 

V. — The Lanuns. "The Lanuns were formerly numerous, having populous 
settlements on the Tawaran and the Tampasuk, as well as on the Pandasan and 
Layer Layer farther west. They originally came from the large island of 
Magindanau, which is considered as the most southern island of the Philippine 
group. They have formed settlements on various points as convenient 
piratical stations, particularly on the east coast at Tungku and other places. 

"As I have elsewhere observed, not only did they pirate by sea, but they 
created unappeasable feud with the Ida'an, by stealing their children. No 
race in the Archipelago equals the Lanun in courage ; the Ida'an therefore 
considering it useless to make regular attacks, hung about the villages, and 
by destroying small parties, forced the Lanuns to leave Tawaran, who then 
joined their countrymen at Tampasuk. Sir Thomas Cochrane attacked both 
Pandasan and Tampasuk, which induced the most piratical portion to retire 
to the east coast. At present but few remain in Tampasuk ; they are not 
considered to have more than 150 fighting men ; they are essentially 
strangers, and unpopular. They seldom form regular governments, but 
attach themselves to certain chiefs, who are partial to high-sounding titles, 
particularly those of sultan and rajah. These chiefs are independent of each 
other, and unite only for defence, or for an extensive expedition. They, 
however, are gradually leaving these districts. Although Mahomedans, their 
women are not shut up ; on the contrary, they freely mix with the inen, and 
even join in public deliberations, and are said to be tolerably good-looking. 
The men I have seen are better featured than the Malays or Bajus." (St. John 

i. 370-) 

styled the Buludupi Rivers, and yet, in the Lukan the Tambanuas never heard the word Buludupi 
at all. There can be no doubt that we have in the territory many more Dusuns which are 
Tambanua than Bulupudi. The foreign term "Dusun" should be adhered to in distinction from 
" Dyak," i.e., every aboriginal non-Dusun and non-Murut to call the Tambunan Dusuns " Dyak 
Besar," may be complimentary to them, but it is quite gratuitous and confusing. Similar is the 
case with the Sonzogon and Paitan Dusuns mentioned on the N.E. coast as Sun-Dyak ; and with the 
Tampias-Dyak already alluded to the Nabai. Bokan Peluan. and Dalit-Dyaks. have one common 
tongue, Dalit, which is almost the same as Murut, and yet these four tribes are by the Lower Padas 
people referred to as Muruts Peluan. It may here be remarked that the term " Ida'an." for the true 
aboriginal majority of Sabah, is used by Bajau and lUanuns only; further, that no Muruts live 
within the present boundaries of Sabah." 

'^ Mr. Forrest speaks of " the people called Oran Idaan or Idahan and sometimes Maroots " 
(p. 368). He wrote after Mr. Dalrymple so it is quite possible that some of the people spoken of as 
Idaan by Mr. Dalr3rmple may possibly have been Muruts. 

28 H, Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

The second distinct immigrant people are the 

VI, — Bajaus, or Sea Gypsies, who, Sir Hugh Low informs me, are said 
to come from the Straits of Malacca. Of these people Mr. Forrest writes 

(p. 372) :■ — " The Badjoo people, called Oran Badjoo, are a kind of itinerant 
fishermen, said to come originally from Johore, at the east entrance of the 
straits of Malacca. They live chiefly in small covered boats, on the coasts of 
Borneo and Celebes, and adjacent islands. Others dwell close to the sea, on 

Geographical Distribution. 29 

those islands, their houses being raised on poles, a little distance into the 
sea, always at the mouths of rivers. They are Mahometans. ... In their 
original country, Johore, where it would seem an old method to live in boats, 
it is said, that on a certain festival, they crowded in numbers, and made fast 
their boats, astern of the vessel, in which was their prince ; it being their 
custom at certain seasons to do so : but a storm arising from the land, they 
were driven across the southern part of the China Sea, to the coast of 
Borneo; and of this they celebrate the anniversary by bathing in the sea on 
an annual day. 

"The Bajus are scattered along the coast, their principal settlements 
being at Mengkabong and Tampasuk. At Mengkabong they appear numer- 
ous, and perhaps could muster 1,000 fighting men ; at Tampasuk, they 
estimate their own number at 600 ; at Pandasan, 400 ; at Abai, Sulaman, 
and Ambong, there are a few. Their origin is involved in obscurity : they are 
evidently strangers. They self-style themselves Orang Sama, or Saraa men. 
They principally occupy themselves with fishing, manufacturing salt, and 

30 H. Ling Roth. — Nattvrs of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

with petty trade. Some breed cows, horses, and goats, while a few plant 
rice, and have small gardens. 

" They profess the Mahomedan religion, and keep the fast with some 
strictness ; though, like the Malays^ are probably but little acquainted with 
its tenets. The Bajus are not a handsome race — they have generally pinched- 
up, small faces, low foreheads, bnt bright eyes. The men are short and 
slight, but very active: the women have a similar appearance to the men, 
and are slighter than the Malay. They wear their hair tied in a knot on the 
fore part of the crown of the head, which is very unbecoming. The women 
appeared to have greater liberty than among the Malays, and came and sat 
near us and conversed. We saw many men that differed totally from the 

"Tahah, native of Kbnowit. in Kavan War Drbss." 
IDlawn by B. N. Vigors, IllKilraliU London Nrwi. loth Nov. 1819.) 

above description ; but on inquiry, we found they were a mixed breed : one, 
Baju, Lanun, Malay, and Chinese ; the next, Baju, Sulu, Lanun, and Malay. 
In fact, many intermarry, which renders it difficult to give a particular type 
for one race. The Bajus of Tampasuk nominally acknowledge a Datu as 
their chief, who receives his authority from Brunei ; but they never pay taxes 
to the supreme Government, and seldom send even a present. They are 
individually very independent, and render no obedience to their chief, unless 
it suits their own convenience. They are, therefore, disunited, and unable to 
make head against the few Lanuns, with whom they have continual quarrels. 
Every man goes armed, and seldom walks. If he cannot procure a pony, he 
rides a cow or a buffalo, the latter generally carrying double. Their arms 

A Sagkai {S.E. Borhbo.) 

(Prom pUu ta Lieut. Pnnk Uuryii'i " Bortmo."] 

, ^ Bf Smniiik In VoL 1.0 

C^t Mtu>d/i boot uKl th ■ ..!'-. ..1. - ...' 

32 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

consist of a spear, shield, and sword. Their houses are similar to those of 
the Malays, being built on posts, sometimes in the water, sometimes on the 


dry land. In Mengkabong, they are all on the water, and are very poor 
specimens of leaf-huts. The Tampasuk not affording water accommodation, 
the houses are built on shore. The only good one was the Datu's,*which 

34 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. S, Borneo. 

consisted of a planked house of two stories ; the lower, occupied by the 
married portion of the family, consisted of one large room, with broad 
enclosed verandahs, occupied by the chief, his wife, and his followers, while 
the upper was reserved for the young unmarried girls and children. Of 
furniture there is little — mats, boxes, cooking utensils, and bed places being 
the principal. In these countries there are no public buildings, no offices, 
jails, or hospitals, or even a fort or stockade ; and the houses being built of 
but temporary materials, there are' no ancient buildings of any description. 
The Bajus are very fond of cock-fighting, and in order to indulge in this sport 
with greater satisfaction, carefully rear a verj- fine breed of fowls, which are 
famous along the coast. I have seen some of the cocks as large as the Cochin 
Chinese. It is probable they are descended from those brought by the early 
immigrants from China, as they no way resemble the ordinarj' Bomean breed 
found in every Malay and Dayak village. They fatten readily, and the hens 
bring up fine broods." (St. John i. 371-3.) 

According to Mr. Pryer the ** Bajaus or sea gypsies are a curious, wan- 
dering, irresponsible sort of race, rather low down in the scale of humanity, 
and live almost entirely in boats, in families. Though undoubtedly of Malay 
origin, they are much larger in stature, and stronger and darker than 

ordinary Malays Not caring to store up property, and rarely 

troubling themselves as to where next week's meals are to come from, 
they pick up a precarious livelihood along, the shore line, by catching fish, 
finding sea slugs and turtle eggs, spearing sharks, and so forth. As an 
illustration of their unthriftiness, I may mention that I have known one 
who brought a find of rather higher value than usual to market (a tortoise 
shell, I think), and bartered it for rice, the only thing they care for, and 
then threw two or three bags of the rice overboard sooner than be at the 
bother of taking it about with him. They lead a wild, free, roving life in the 
open air, untroubled by any care or thought for the morrow.*' (J.A.I, 
xvi. 230.) 

Dr. Guillemard says they are quite distinct from the Sulus and of a much 
lower type (Malaysia p. go) and that they are well-known in most of the 
creeks and rivers of the island of Borneo {ibid, 234). " The Bajaus, who in 
Blitong (Sumatra) and some parts of Borneo, are known by the name of 
Sikas, are a wandering race of Malays, who pass their lives in boats from the 
cradle to the grave. In some places they have changed their mode of life, 
have built houses, and cultivated the ground ; but this is seldom the case and 
the majority act as cattle stealers, petty pilferers, and kidnappers, and are 
not averse from more serious crimes if the occasion should offer. They have 
given a good deal of trouble to the North Borneo Company's Government, 
some of whose officers they have murdered, while boats' crews have more 
than once been cut off by them." {ibid, 240).'* 

'^ At Banjermassin. south coast of Borneo, Beekman writes (p. 43) : ~ " The inland inhabitants 
are much taller and stronger bodied men than the Banjareens. fierce, warlike and barbarous. They 
are called Byajos, an idle sort of people, hating industry or trade, and living generally upon rapine 
and the spoil of their neighbours ; their religion is Paganism, and their language different from that 
spoken by the Banjareens. They go naked and only have a small piece of cloth that covers their 
private parts ; they stain their bodies with blue, and have a very odd custom of making holes in the 

Geographical Distribution. 35 

The Bajaus are the people who murdered Burns, the traveller. (De 
Crespigny. Berl. Zeit. N. F. v. 334.) 

The Balignini pirates met with on the coast are really Bajaus and come 
from a small island on the north 
of Sulu. They were thoroughly 
thrashed by the Spaniards in 1848. 
In 1879 they " murdered or kid- 
napped 65 people in North Borneo, 
and have since then committed 
other minor acts of piracy, but it 
is believed these outrages are now, 
practically speaking, things of the 
past." (Guillemard: Malaysia24i.) 

"On the N.E. part of Borneo is 
a savage piratical people, called 
Oran Tedong, or Tiroon, who live 
far lip certain rivers. The Sooloos 
have lately subdued them, by 
getting the Rajah (or chief) into 
their power. These Oran Tedong 
fit out vessels large and small, 
and cruise among the Philippine 
islands, as has been formerly said. 
They also cruise from their own 
country, west to Pirate's Point, and 
down the coast of Borneo, as far 
as the island Labuan. After an 
excursion I once made from 
Balambangan to Patatan, a little 
beyond the island Pulo Gaya ; on 
my return, I put into a small bay, 
east of Pirate's Point almost oppo- 
site Balambangan. There 
appeared nine Tedong pirates, in 
vessels of small size, about that of 
London wherries below bridge. 
Several Badjoo boats being in the 
bay at the same time, the people 
laid the boats close to the shore, 
landed, and clapt on their (Ranty) 
iron-ring jackets for defence. The 

pirates kept in a regular line, put a Dusun, 

about, and stretched off altogether, '^'" ^°"^ ^""" '^"^ '=*"" 

sofl parts of thdr ears when yoang, into which they thrust large plugs and by continual pulling 
down these plugs, the holes grow in time so large, that when they come to man's estate their ears 
bang down to Iheir very shoulders. The biggest end of the plug is as broad as a crown piece, and is 
tipt with a thin plate of wrought gold. The men of quality do generally pull out their fore teeth and 
put gold ones in their room. They sometimes wear, by way of ornament, rows of tygers" teeth 
strong and hang roand their necks and bodies." 

36 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

not choosing to land. 
Had I been alone in the 
bay I might have fallen 
into their hands. 

" The Oran Tedong live 
very hard on their 
cruises, their provisions 
sometimes being raw sago 
flour. They have often 
no attop or covering; nay, 
sometimes as the Sooloos 
have told me, they go, 
especially if it rains, stark 
naked. The Moors of 
Magindano, and the 
Illanas, also Moors, 
despise these people. 
When they meet, how- 
ever, in roads and 
harbours among the 
Philippines, where the 
common prey is, they do 
not molest one another. 
I have been told that the 
Oran Tedong will, in cer- 
tain cases, eat human 

flesh Their 

boats are sometimes 
small, and made of thin 
planks, sewed together. 
I have heard of some 
such, once shut up in a 
bay by a Spanish cruiser : 
they took the boats to 
pieces and carried them 

away over land 

The Oran Tedong make 

(E*ru.NoribBorneoCo,coii.) a great deal of granulated 

sago, which they sell to 

thelSooloos very cheap; perhaps at one dollar a pecui. The Sooloos, a?i has 

been said, sell this again to the China Junks." (Forrest p. 374.) 

Geographical Distribution. 


Prepared for this work by Mr. Chas. Hose. 

I. Kayans. 

Uma Bawang. Rejang R., Baram 
Uma Kulit, Balungan R. [ R. 
Uma Naving, Rejang R. 
Uma Belubu, Baram R., Balun- 
gan R. 
Uma Poh, Baram R. [ R. 

Uma Lisam, Balungan R., Bahau 
Uma Lim, Balungan R., Bahau R. 
Uma Baka, Balungan R . Kapuas 
Uma Pliau. Baram R. [ R. 

Uma Lbkkan, Balungan R. 
Long Wai. Mahakam R. 
Uma Gi, Balungan R. 
Uma Ging, Kapuas R. 

2. Kenniahs. 

Lbppu Ybngan. Baram R., Re- 
jang R. 

Tbppu An, Baram R. 

Lbppu Taus, Rejang R.. Balun- 
gan R. 

Lbppu Afong. Balungan R., 
Baram R. 

Lbppu Lutong, Balungan R., 
Baram R. 

Lbppu Tbppu, Balungan R. [ R. 

Lbppu Anans. Rejang R.. Baram 

Lbppu Lbnau, Rejang R., Balun- 
gan R. 

Lbppu Laang, Baram R., Ba- 
lungan R. 

Lbppu Pohun, Baram R., Balun- 
gan R. 

3. Madamos and Sebops. 

Lbppu Agas, Baram R., Rejang 
Lbppu Pa yah, Balungan R. [R. 
Lbppu Maut, Inland Tribe * 
Danum Madangs I u^,- „„ J, 
Madangs Usun Apo, head of 
Tinjar R. 


LiRONG, Rejang R., Baram R. 
Long Pokun. Rejang R. 
Tinjar Sbbops, Tinjar R. 
Long Wats, Baram R. 

* The Leppa Mauts live between 
the head waters of the Baram, Rejang, 
and Balungan Rivers. 

4. Uma Pawas, Uma Klap. and 
Uma Timi. 

Uma Pawas, Baram R., Rejang 

Uma Klap, Rejang R., Balungan 
Uma Timi, Rejang R. [ R. 

5. Bahau, Muriks. 

Bahau. Baram R., Balungan R., 

Apoh R. 
Muriks, Baram R. 

9. Tanjongs and Kanowits. 

6. Pkhengs or Pengs. 

Pehengs, Kapuas R. 
Pengs, Koti R., Mahakam R. 

7. Punans and Ukits, Bakatans 


Punan Bah, Rejang R., Tatau R. 
Coast Punans or Pbnans. Niah 

R., Bintulu R., Suai R., Bakong 

Punan Bok, Bok R. 
Punan Aput, Aput R. 
Punan Akah, Akah R. 
Punan Batu, Bukit Batu * 
Punan Parah, Parah R. 
Punan Dapoi, Dapoi R. 
Punan Lisum. Rejang R. 
Punan Koti, Koti R. 
Punan Kapuas, Kapuas R. 


Baloi Ukits, Rejang R. 
Koti Ukits, Koti R. 
Kapuas Ukits, Kapuas R. 


Baloi Bakatans, Rejang R. 
Bintulu Bakatans, Tatau R. 

Sihans, Rejang R.. Koti R. 

* Bukit Batu is a mountain at the 
head of the Rejang River. 

8. Malanaus. 

Muka Malanaus, Muka R., 

Bintulu Malanaus or Sbgaans. 

Niah R.. Bintulu R. 
MiRis, Bakam R., Miri R. 
Dallis, Sibuti R., Bakong R. 
Narom, Baram R. 
Matu Malanaus, Matu R. 
Rejang Malanaus, Rejang R. 
Igan Milanaus, Igan R. 
SiGALANGS, Rejang R. 
SiDUANs. Rejang R. 
Tutongs, Tutong R. 
Balaits, Balait R. 

Rejang Tanjongs. Rejang R. 
Kapuas Tanjongs, Kapuas R. 
Lugats, Rejang R.. Kapuas R. 

Rbjang Kanowits, Kanowit R. 

10. Orang Bukits and Bskiaus. 

Orang Bukits, Baram R., Koti 

R., Balungan R., Balait R. 
Bekiaus, Tutong R. 

II. Long Kiputs, Long Akahs, Long 

Pat AS, Batu Blahs, Barawans, 


Long Kiputs, Baram R. 

Long Akahs, Baram R. 

Long Patas, Tutau R., Baram 

Batu Blahs, Tutau R. [ R. 

Barawans, Tinjar R 

Trings, Tutau R., Limbang R. 

12. Kaiamans, Sikbpangs, Lanans, 
Bahmali, Taballaus. 

Kajamans, Rejang R. 
Sikbpangs. Rejang R. 
Lanans, Rejang R. 
Bahmali. Baram R. 
Taballaus, Baram R. 

13. MuRUTS and Kalabits. 

MuRUTS, Trusan R., Limbang R., 
Banjar R. 

MuRUT Main,* Inland Tribe, 
Trusan R. 

MuRUT Bah, Trusan R., Lim- 
bang R. 


Kalabits, Baram R., Limbang 

Leppu PoTONGS.t Inland Tribe, 

Baram R. 
LiBBUN Kalabits, Baram R. 

* The Murut Main people live at the 
head of the Trusan River and the hi 

t Leppu Potongs live between the 
head waters of the Baram and Limbang 

14. BiSAYAS. 

,: BisAYAS. Limbang R. 

38 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brk. N. Borneo. 

List of Tribes in Borneo. — Contituud. 

It. Dtaks.— CaiJiiu 

16. Land Dyakg. 

Grogo, Upper Sarawak R. 
SiNGGt.SinRgiMouDtaii), Upper 

Sarawak R. 
jAGOi, Upper Sarawak R. 
Quop, Quop R. 
Sbntah, Sentah R. 
Merdanc. Ltmo R. 
SiLAKAV, Lundu R. 
StBAVOR, Upper Sarawak R, 
Sdkokc, Upper Sarawak R. 

.] Maldbs, 

Kapuas R, 
OHS. Kapuas R. 


MftuoHs, Kapuas R. ' 

Taman Malohs, Kapuas R. 1 
BuNVAU Malohs. Kapuas R. 
Palin Mauohs. Kapuas R 
Mandallam Malohs. Kapuas 

Katungo M: 

Sibil ITS 





Undup Dvaks [BaUng Lupar 

I Skbkang Dvaks [ R. 

II Batanc Lupar I 
II Sarebas, Sarebas R , Rejaog 

BnGAU Dvaks 
Kantu Dvars 

Malang Dvaks 
SiKALAC Dvaks 
Enltai Dvaig 
Malabah Dvaks 
Rambai Dvaks 
SvAiT Dvaks 


Adit Dvaks 
SiKAFAT Dvaks 
Kadeupai Dvaks 


Kalaka R., 


Rejang R. 
Lamanak. Batang Lupar 

Rejang R 
Katiras Dvaks, Rejaug R. 

' Spread about all over tfaecountry. 

Design bv a Kayan Chirp on the Ufpkr Rbjang. 

He observed Her Highness the Ranee skelcbiog and said he could draw tc 

He drew this and the design on p. 43. 


Name applicable to one class only — Meaning — Ka-daya-n — Daya — Dutch misnomer— Orang daya — 
Restricting its use — Movements of Sea Dyaks — We (ban — A nickname — New names — Meyer's 
investigations — Veth's opinion — The • waddlitig * theory— Other similar words — Daya a tribal 
name — Dajaksch — First use of word Dyak — Not a collective name— The spread of the word — 
Various spellings — Similar words again — Further evidence wanted — Dyak in Chalmers' Vocabu- 
lary — Probable explanation — Sea Dyak for ' man ' — Land Dyaks and Sea Dyaks not the same 
people — Dyak Darat and Dyak Laut — Sir James Brooke's error — Name to be restricted— No 
equivalent for Sea Dyaks. 

The term Dyak appears to have been given a more widespread significance 
than it is entitled to, and people are thereby misled. The first English Rajah^ 
Sir James Brooke, says of the word, in his diary : '* Though all the wild 
people of Borneo are by Europeans called Dyaks, the name properly is only 
applicable to one particular class inhabiting parts of the north western coast 
and the mountains of the interior." (Mundy i. 234.) Sir Chas. Brooke, 
the present Rajah, states : " The generic term Dyak (or properly called 
Dya by themselves) in many dialects simply means inland, although among 
many of the branch tribes the term is not known as being referable to them- 
selves, further than in its signification as a word in their language. Some of 
the interior populations, even as far off as Brunei, are called Ka-daya-n. Then 
again, the Maiiu or Malanau name for inland is Kadaya, although the generic 
term applied to themselves is Malanau, the origin of which is unknown. 
Again, the name of the numerous tribes situated far in the interior of Rejang, 
although a distant branch of the Malanau tribe, are called Kayan, and our own 
more immediate people Daya, or as more generally known, Dyak, The land 
Dyaks' word for inland is Kadayo.'' (i. 46.) 

When Mr. Bock's book appeared, Mr. C. A. Bampfylde, writing from 
Fort Kapit, Rejang River, February, 1882, to the ** Field '' newspaper, says : 

** The Dutch error of applying the name Dyak to all the inland tribes is 
here repeated, the author styling as Dyaks all those tribes he met ; whereas, 
properly speaking, they are amalgamated with the Kayans, Kiniahs, Punans, 
and other branch -tribes who inhabit the heads of the Barram, Rejang, Balleh, 
Kapuas, Banjer, Koti or Mahkam, and Bulongan rivers. The Piengs pre- 
dominate in the upper waters of the Mahkam. The above-mentioned tribes 
are not known as Dyaks, nor do they style themselves as such ; they are 
known by their own names, such as Kayan, Pieng, Kiniah, Punan, Cajaman, 
Skapan, Tugat, Ukit, Bakatan, and other Dyaks, though sometimes calling 
themselves Aurang-Daya (aurang, or * orang ' as written in English, man, 
men), in their own language style themselves as * aurang iban ' (a name given 

40 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

them by the aborigines), but to them, and to them only, do the Malays apply 
the word daya, which means inland, interior, and from this word arise the 
names Ka-daya-an (a tribe inhabiting a branch of the Brunei) and Kayan. 
The Malays are known to the Sea Dyaks by the name of ' Laut ;' to the 
Melanau and Kayan tribes by the name of ' Klieng.' The Dyaks are purely 
distinct from the above-mentioned tribes, among whom, on the other hand, 
great similarity in language and customs may be traced, and who are, in all 
probability, aborigines of Borneo, which the Dyaks certainly are not. There 
are two distinct tribes of Dyaks, the Land- and Sea- Dyaks." 

Mr. A. Hart Everett is equally emphatic : '* May I suggest that ethnologists 
should make a more sparing use of the term * Dyak ' when treating of the 
Malay Archipelago ? It should only be applied to tribes who themselves use it 
as the distinctive appellation of their people. As more than one tribe so uses it, 
there should always be prefixed some word still further limiting its application 
in each particular case. As employed by Malays, who are followed both by 
Dutch and English travellers, the word has scarcely better standing-ground 
in a scientific terminology than has * Alfuro.' 

" The following fact with regard to the Sea-Dyaks may be of interest. 
When Europeans first entered Sarawak the Kayans, properly so called, were 
dominant in the great Rejang River, and the Sea-Dyaks were strictly confined 
to the Batang Lupar, Saribas, and Kalakah rivers. Now the Sea-Dyak 
population of the Rejang is some 30,000, and the Rejang Dyaks are rapidly 
occupying the Oyah, Mukah, and Tatau rivers further up coast. On the 
original Sea-Dyak rivers the people always use the expression "we Dyaks*' 
when they mention their own race ; but on the Rejang the (expression " we 
Iban " will invariably be heard — the explanation being that the Kayans 
habitually designate Sea-Dyaks as " Ivan " among themselves, whence the 
Dyaks have applied the name ; but, having no v-sound in their language, they 
say " Iban." The Kayan proper is rich in v-sounds. I have been informed, 
though I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the statement, that " Ivan " in 
Kayan is a term carrying with it a sense of opprobrium. However this may 
be, it is remarkable that so large a section of the Sea-Dyaks, who are so 
thoroughly dominant in Rejang, and are in constant daily communication with 
their original seat in the rivers to the westward, should in the course of some 
thirty years have come to habitually speak of themselves by the name given 
them by their foes. And it is the more surprising because the Sea-Dyaks 
generally give new names of their own to the geographical features of the 
district into which they immigrate." (Papar, North Borneo.) 

" That on the Rejang the Sea Dyaks should have adopted the name 
given them by their enemies is very curious, but it may, as we shall see later 
on, help to explain their present name of Sea Dyaks. But before going 
into that matter let us see what Dr. A. B. Meyer says, for Dr. Meyer has very 
carefully examined all that has been said about the origin of the word Dyak.* 
Writing in German he, of course, writes a j where we write a jy ; on account 
of other and lesser peculiarities I have thought it better to adhere to his 
spelling in giving the following summary of his investigations : — 

1 " Ueber die Namen Papua, Dajak und Alfuren." 

The Misuse of the Word " DyaW' 41 

Prof. Veth appears to have been the first to discuss the word.* Colonel 
Perelaer would derive it from the word dadajak = waddling and therefore 
looked upon it as a nickname.* As Hardeland in his Dajacksch-Deutches 
Dictionary* mentions this word Prof. Veth considered Perelaer's supposition 
correct but thought it strange that the Europeans should have adopted a 
nickname out of the native language. But Missionary Becker,* of Pulopetak, 
had already in 1849 made the same guess as to the origin of the word Dyak, 
and Perelaer may have copied him, as originally Perelaer did not give this 
explanation.* Dr. Meyer sought in vain for the word in neighbouring 
vocabularies. He finds in Lampit the word daja = deceit, and in Hardeland's 
Dictionary pardi-dajak = a sort of rice ; also Dajam = female name ; Dajan == 
lying together ; he also refers to two districts in South Borneo known as 
Little Dajak and Great Dajak.'' He says. Prof. Veth also refers to Crawford's 
mentioning of an unknown tribe on the north-west coast called Dyak : * The 
word is most probably derived from the name of a particular tribe, and in a 
list of the wild tribes of the north-western coast of Borneo furnished to me by 
Malay merchants of the country one tribe of this name was included.'® Dr. 
Meyer refers to the curious statement of Dr. Peter Braidwood, who, in referring 
to a poison from Borneo says, " Dajaksch is the name of a well-known native 
tribe in Borneo !'" and he mentions Bock's assertion that Dajaksch is the 
name of a tribe. According to one interpretation, says Dr. Meyer, the word 
Daya or Dayack means inland. Then Dr. Meyer continues : ** In order to 
understand more clearly the derivation of the word it would be well to see 
how early and by whom the word Dajak was first used in literature. 
Valentijn,^** 1726, does not appear to have known the expression, as he 
speaks of Borneers ; Buflfon," 1749, j"st as little, as he speaks of the 
inhabitants of Borneo, while he knows the name Papua very well ; Forrest, 
1779, likewise not ; Forster " still called the natives of Borneo Beyajos and 
not Dajaks. On the other hand Radermacher, " in the year 1780, uses the 
designation Dajak and Dajakker in such a way as to infer that it was 
commonly known in Batavia and the Netherlands-India in general. Locally, 
therefore, in those districts the term Dajaks for the natives of Borneo may 
have been in use earlier than in European literature, but its origin is 
certainly by no means so old as that of the name Papua. We may 
undoubtedly conclude that these people did not originally speak of themselves 

' Tijdschr. v. h. Aardrijkskundig Genootscbap te Amsterdam 1881, v. 182. (A. B. M.) 
3 Borneo van Zuid naar Noord 1881, i. 149. (A. B. M.) 

* Dayaksch-Deutch Worterbuch, Amsterdam 1859. (A. B. M.) 
^ Indisch Archief i. Jaarg. Deel i, 1849, 423. (A. B. M.) 

^ Etbnograpbische Beschrijving der Dajaks, 1871, 2. (A. B. M.) 

^ Eenige Reizen in de binnenlanden van Borneo. Togt van Banjer naar Becompaij en de Kleine 
Daijak : Tijdscbr. Ned. Ind. 1824. i. Jaarg. ii. 90. (A. B. M.) 
^ Crawfurd Descrip. Diet. Ind. Isl. 1856, p. 127. (A. B. M.) 

* The physiological actions of Dajaksch, an arrow poison used in Borneo. Edin. Med. Jour. 
1864, p. 12. (A.B. M.) 

"Vol. iii. 2, p. 251. (A.B.M.) 

" Hist. Nat. iii. p. 399. (A. B. M.) 

" Bern, auf s. Reise 1783. p. 313. (A. B. M.) 

» Verb. Bat. Gen. vol. ii. (3 druk 1826) p. 44. (A. B. M.) 

42 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo, 

collectively as Dajaks. . . . After referring to Dr. Gabelentz* " mistaken 
notion on this point and after discussing the word Alfuro, Dr. Meyer comes 
back to the word Dajak and considers that the name may have spread from 
that of a single tribe much the same as the name Burni (now Bruni) has 
given its name to the whole island, and thinks the Chinese, who for many 
centuries have played an important part in Borneo, may have extended its 
use. He points out that the word Dajak is written in many ways, thus 
Daya, Diak, Dayer, Dyak, Daias, Daiaer, Daijak, and points out that the 
terminal k is quite without significance." " But," he continues, " the word 
dayah means in Sarawak language man, and dayah beruri = sorcerer ; in the 
Lundu dialect dayung = woman, and in Lara and Lundu (Ukewise in the 
north-west), daya = blood (Malay dara)}^ In any case we must not lose sight 
of the above word daya in our investigations among the north and north-west 
tribes, as failing any other explanation, it might herald a natural solution of 
the question. Many people call themselves merely * men.' '* Dr. Meyer then 
gives a list of words similar to Dyak with various significations taken from a 
variety of Philippine dialects and consequently considers the "waddling" 
theory as quite untenable. He concludes : " The origin of this word therefore 
remains less clear than that of Papua or Alfuro : but historical studies on one 
side and local studies on the other side will certainly yet explain more fully 
the word Dajak." Dr. Meyer could have gone a step further. 

In the Rev. Mr. Chalmers' Sarawak vocabulary — Sarawak lies in the 
heart of the Land Dyak country — we find the following : 


visitor . 
liar . . 

= dayah 

= dayah berdagang [Malay berdagang = to trade] 

= dayah takap 

= dayah numi 

— dayah kadong 

doctor (conjuror) = dayah beruri 


So that the word dayah is quite a generic term for man. It would thus 
seem to me that Europeans, or probably before them the Malays, learned to 
call these people Dyaks because the generic term for man amongst them is 
dayah, but not because the people had that collective name for themselves, 
for as Sir James Brooke says they never so used it. (Keppel ii. 171.) 

It may be objected to this that the Sea Dyak generic term for man, 
husband, and male, being, according to Mr. Brooke Low, laki, how is it then 
that they too are called Dyaks ? The first man who divided the Dyaks into 
Land and Sea Dyaks was the first English Rajah, Sir James Brooke. At 
least, I am unable to find an author previous to him who so divided them, 
and I appear to be confirmed in my statement by Sir Hugh Low when he 
writes: "The Dyaks appear to be divided by many customs naturally into 

14 Gramm. der Dajak Sprache 1852, p. 5. (A. B. M.) 

^^ For an explanation as to the probable origin of the mistaken use of the k see Yen. Archd. 
Perham's paper on language, S. G. No. 136, and infra, 

'• According to Mr. Chalmers in Sarawak blood is deyah ; see also Yen Archd. Perham's paper 
already referred to. 

The Misuse of the Word " Dyak." 43 

two classes, which have been called by Mr. Brooke Land and Sea Dyaks" 
(p. 165). Sir James Brooke's words are; "The Dyaks are divided into Dyak 
Darrat [darat = ATy land in Malay] and Dyak Laut [laut=sea. in Malay^ 
or land and sea dyaks. The Dyak Lauts, as their name implies, frequent 
the sea; and it is needless to say much of them, as their difTerence from the 
Dyak Darrat is a difference of circumstance only." (Keppel ii. 174). But 
since then further intercourse with both peoples has shown a very wide 
difference in almost every particular. Regarding the use of the word darai, 
Dalrymple (p. 40) used it : " The inland people of Passir (E, Coast) are called 

Sir James Brooke appeared as the champion of the oppressed people 
now known as the Land Dyaks. It was through them he got to know of the 
Sea Dyaks, and no doubt the Land Dyaks spoke of those "men" as dayah, 
and hence he could only come to the conclusion they were the same people. As 
for the Sea Dyaks adopting the name of the Dyaks at all that would only be 
on a par with their adopting the name Iban on the Rejang river as mentioned 
by Mr. Everett. 

Whether the explanation I have just suggested as to the origin of the use 
of the word Dyak be the correct one or not, there remains the fact that the 
word should not be extended to any other peoples than those known as the 
Land and Sea Dyaks. It is even doubtful whether we should speak of Sea 
Dyaks, but then in their case we have the excuse that there is no other 
collective name for them. 

Design bv a Kavan Chief. 

See p. 3B. 

iLHdy Brooke Coll.l 


Great differences inter si. Land Dyaks : Well proportioned — Well fed —Grave expression— Misery — 
Early marriages — Hard work — Early decay — Fine men — Facial features — Colour — Women 
inferior to men— Carrying heavy burdens — Activity — Few accidents — Well made women- 
Wicked glances — Beautiful hair— Good points — Physique of three men. Aups : Fine physique 
and great drinkers —Healthiness —Barrenness. Simpoke: Misery — Disease — Barrenness — Hard 
work tells— Water carriage. Serin: Strong physique — Korap bad— Superior women — Boat 
builders — Good looks. Brang: Inferior physique — Close inter-marriage —Laborious existence. 
Bukar : Sturdy people — Good forms — Prettiness — Superior people — Beards — Good features — 
Women overworked. Quop : Pleasing features. Upper Sarawak : Colour and features— Curly 
hair — Flat nose — Thick lips — Robust people — Heavy loads — Hard life— Women's work. 
Sennahs: Well-built — Healthiness — Superior physique — Open address— Good looking women — 
Cheerful faces — Fulness of life — Not a fine race— Slight build— Muscular development — Light 
colour. Lundu : Well made— Good looking — Natural grace— Well proportioned — Facial features 
— Absence of facial hair — A chief —A fine specimen — General ugliness. Sea Dyaks : General 
appearance — Good carriage — Men well proportioned — Women ill favoured — Activity — 
Endurant:e — Fleshiness— Natural grace — Colour — Flowing locks — Women handsomer than men 
— Facial features — Hair — Teeth — Busts — Early decay — Young women — Facial features — Nose 
— Mouth — Brightness — Hair — Tossing their tresses— Skin — Hard work — Swelled ankles — Stiff 
gait — Strong workers — Variations in skin colour— An ugly child — An active man — A young 
mother — Poor figures — Stout strong men — Better noses — Water carriage — Women's heavy work 
— Activity in water — Graceful attitudes— Sculptors' models — Fine specimens — Paddle-stroke — 
Expedition work — Personal odour. Sarebas : Perfect symmetry — Sharp eye — A head taker — 
Hard worker — Fever. Sibuyaus : Well made — Prettiness — Delicate forms — Skin — Stoutly made 
men — Fine children. Ballaus : Women hard worked — Endurance — Activity — Appearance. 
Skarans : Good physique— Chest measurement — Skin— Hairiness — Nice looking — Elegant gait 
— Strength — Handsome women — Clean built men — Activity — Carrying the wounded— Boyhood 
exercise — Making of good soldiers — Sarebas versus Skarans. Undups: Sibus: Most beautiful 
women. Kanowits ;. Good-looking devils— Plain women — A hideous object — Women darker than 
men. Milanaus : General appearance — Women high priced as slaves— Fairness — A prodigious 
striker — Sallow women — Cleanly men — Ill-formed — Like other tribes — Some good-looking girls 
— Large feet. Kayans: Stature — Fleshiness— Features — Perfect models — Endurance— Chiefs 
— Tolerable-looking women— Countenances— Figures— Pretty attendants— Not bad looking — 
Like wild Irishmen !— Not prepossessing women. Sibops: A formidable antagonist. Ukits : 
Bahatans : Striking eyes — Handsome fellows. Poonans: Fairest natives — Women not bad 
looking — Endurance. Dusuns : Well-made— Muscular — Young women — Pretty— Early worn 
out— No Chinese affinity — Protuberance of shin-bone— Well-proportioned limbs — Superior to 
Muruts — Fair skins— Mongolian type— Baggage carriers — Women's endurance— Strength — 
Activity — Clear skins — Women not good looking — Small men — Like Sarawak Dyaks— The 
loveliest girl in Borneo — A physiognomical unpleasantness — Well-built people. Kiatts : Dirtiness 
— Trace of Chinese blood — Childlike curiosity — Better than the Melangaps — Robustness. 
Muruts : Splendid men — Women muscular creatures — Superior to Malays— Statuesque — 
Active life — Old look of children — Ill-favoured Adangs — Repulsive looks. Lanuns : A fine chief. 
Bajaus : Not handsome — Pinched features — Large family. 

Agb : Not long lived — Ages guessed — How reckoned — Ninety-five years — Longevity — Four 
generations — Age ; how computed. Stature ; Table of recorded measurements — Land Dyaks 
— Sea Dyaks— Dusuns. Colour: Land Dyaks— Sea Dyaks— Milanaus — Kayans — Muruts — 
Dusuns. Noses : Land Dyaks— Sea Dyaks— Kayans. Hair : Land Dyaks— Sea Dyaks. 
Malay and Indonesian affinities. 

Physique. 45 

From what has alreadv been said, it will have been seen that in 
appearance, physique, language, and character the various peoples differ very 
considerably, but inter se the difference is most marked amongst the Land 

Land Dyaks. 

Speaking generally Mr. Wallace says: ** Their forms are well pro- 
portioned, their feet and hands small, and they rarely or never attain the 
bulk of body so often seen in Malays and Chinese." (i. p. 138.) 

On the Samaharan river Sir Spencer St. John says : '* I have never seen 
any Land' Dayaks with an air of greater comfort ; they appear to be well 
fed, and, consequently, are more free from skin diseases than their neigh- 
bours." (i. 224.) 

'* In personal appearance, the Dyaks of the Hills very much resemble 
those of the other tribes already described ; but they have a more grave and 
quiet expression of countenance, which gives to their features a melancholy 
and thoughtful air. It is very probable, that their many miseries may have 
much increased this appearance, though it is natural to them, being 
observable, in a less degree, in all the tribes of both divisions. Their 
countenance is an index to the character of their mind, for they are of 
peculiarly quiet and mild disposition, not easily roused to anger, or the 
exhibition of any other passion or emotion, and rarely excited to noisy mirth, 
unless during their periodical festivals." (Low p. 239.) 

Speaking of the Land Dyaks generally Mr. Grant says: "The women 
marry young, from thirteen to eighteen years of age, and from their hard work 
soon get old, and good looks, when there are any, last but a short time. The 
men seem to wear better, and many of them are finely-made fellows, 
and frequently not ill-looking, (p. 56.) . . . The Land Dyaks of 
Sarawak, Sadong, Sambas, Kapuas, &c., as compared with Europeans, or even 
natives of India, are short but well-proportioned, and very active. They 
have high cheek-bones and flattish nostrils, yet their features are not 
exaggerated, Hke those of the Negroes. The skin is of a reddish-brown tint, 
i.e., when a man is near you, you would say he was of a brown colour, but 
when seen at a distance, with a back-ground of jungle, you would perceive a 
slightly reddish tint in his skin. The hair is generally worn long hke a 
woman's, and but rarely shaved clean off, as is that of the Malays, {ibid 
96.) . . . The women are generally in looks inferior to the men ; 
a result, I should say, of their having as much hard work as the stronger sex, 
which further results in premature old age. Women, particularly married 
ones, after for years carrying tremendous weights of wood, water, and grain, 
probably quite as heavy as those which their more robust husbands carry, 
can hardly be expected to have an erect carriage, and when they walk it is 
with inturned toes and a slight stoop. I may remark, however, that the 
women of the Sea Dyaks are better-looking than those of the Land Dyaks ; 
they have neater figures, and indeed many of them are pretty. The men, on 
the other hand, though they work hard enough, still can boast the strength of 
their sex, and are first-rate walkers, with a step as sure as that of a Highland 
pony, and as light as that of a bird. Notwithstanding the wretched state of 

46 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo, 

their roads, and the difficulties of walk, I have seldom heard of accidents 
happening among the natives. Once only do I recollect hearing of a woman 
who had fallen from a rock and broken her arm. Strange to say, in this 
instance, the broken arm was set by one of themselves, and the woman is 
well and active as ever.'* (ibid, p. 97.) 

Lieut. Marryat thus describes the Land Dyak women : " They were 
much shorter than European women, but well-made ; very interesting in their 
appearance, and affable and friendly in their manners. Their eyes were dark 
and piercing, and I may say there was something wicked in their furtive 
glances ; their noses were but slightly flattened ; the mouth rather large ; 
but when I beheld the magnificent teeth which required all its size to display, 
I thought this rather an advantage. Their hair was superlatively beautiful, 
and would have been envied by many a courtly dame. It was jet black, and 
of the finest texture, and hung in graceful masses down the back, nearly 
reaching to the ground. A mountain Dyak girl, if not a beauty, has many 
most beautiful points ; and, at all events, is very interesting and, I may say, 
pretty. They have good eyes, good teeth, and good hair ; — more than good : 
I may say splendid ; — and they have good manners, and know how to make 
use of their eyes." (p. 14.) 

Of three men. Sir Jas. Brooke says: ** Segama, the Bukar, measured 
five feet five inches and a half; was fair, not well-made, but intelligent. Sino, 
the Brang, measured five feet four inches and a half ; well, but slightly made, 
and had a very sensible countenance. Angass, the Sabungo, measured four 
feet ten inches, and was stout and athletic for a Dyak." (Mundy i. 201.) 

Mr. Denison has given us many descriptions of the various tribes: **Some 
of the Aup Dyaks were physically fine fellows, and many of them great 
dandies in dress. (Ch. iii. p. 34.) I may observe that the Dyak tribes visited 
by me from Tringus to Sumban were all incomparably superior to the other 
tribes on the western and southern branches of the Sarawak and the 
Samarahan rivers in carrying heavy burdens over a mountainous country', 
and at their feasts were harder drinkers. (Ch. v. p. 45.) Although the 
Sign men seemed strong and healthy, and I noticed no disease except 
korap^, I heard the same complaint of the barrenness of the women ; those 
I met with were plump and even comely, though I cannot add the word 
pretty. (Ch. vii. p. 74.) Altogether Simpoke has a miserable, poverty-smitten 
appearance, while the inhabitants are physically about the worst I had 
yet encountered, the men as a rule being a mere mass of korap, the women 
ugly and many barren, and the Dyaks inform me that many of the children 
die at their birth. Some of the girls showed signs of good looks, but 
hard work, f)oor feeding, and inter-marriage and early marriage soon told 
their tale, and rapidly convert them into ugly, dirty, diseased old hags, 
and this at an age when they are barely more than young women. The 
Simpoke Dyaks have no water on the mountain near the village; every 
drop of this necessary of life has therefore to be carried by the women and 
girls almost from the foot of Brungo. It is a sad sight to see the Dyak 
girls, some but nine or ten years of age, carrying water up the mount in 

^ This disease is described in the chapter on Pathology. 

Physique, 47 

bamboos, their bodies bent nearly double, and groaning under the weight 
of their burden. (Ch. vii. pp. 75-76.) I found the Dyaks here (at Serin) 
well built, strong-looking fellows. Korap, however, was very prevalent ; 
one victim to this disease, who was my neighbour in the head house, was 
in a fearful state, being covered from head to foot ; he, poor fellow, appeared 
to suffer great pain. The women here were much superior to the general 
of Land Dyaks, being stout, hale, and hearty. (Ch. viii. p. 76.) The Serins 
are boat-builders, and good boatmen ; they are physically well built and strong, 
but they suffer very much from korap. . . . The Serin women are well 
favored, strong, and healthy, and there is no complaint of their being barren. 
One or two of the girls werd decidedly, good-looking. (Ch. vii. pp. 77-78.) 
The Brang Dyaks are a poor, miserable tribe, wedged in between the 
Serins and Si Bungos. The men seem low-spirited and despondent, and are 
physically inferior to almost all the Land Dyaks I have met with. The 
women bear but poor children, their constitutions being enfeebled by close 
inter-marriage, and by the hardships attendant upon their wild and laborious 
existence. (Ch. vii. p. 80.) At Bukar, notwithstanding what I have said else- 
where of the state of the village, these Dyaks are well made, sturdy fellows ; 
except goitre I noticed little disease, and there seems to be no sickness. 
(Ch. viii. p. 82.) The men and women are well shaped, strong, comely, and 
healthy, some of the young women almost good-looking, several of the little 
girls decidedly pretty.'* (Ch. viii. p. 84.) 

An anonymous writer [W. L E. de M.j in The Field (20 Dec, 1884) 
remarks : ** The Bukar Dyaks are decidedly a much finer race of men than 
any other Land Dyaks I have met with. Many of them are tall, handsome 
men, and not a few wore long beards, such as no Savar Singgi Dyak can 
boast of. Their noses also are a decided improvement on the style adopted 
by the other Land Dyaks, among whom I have often seen faces with beautiful 
eyes and very well-shaped mouths, but never without flat, broad disreputable 

** The Bukar women have their limbs spoilt from carrying heavy weights, 
even from their tenderest age, over exceedingly steep ground ; their legs 
appeared bent. I saw one mother bearing on her back two children, and 
a basket containing twenty or more bamboos full of water, the latter a 
sufficient load for one person. In the harvest, they act as beasts of burden, 
and bring the bulk of the rice home. The children, in general, were very 
clean and pleasing.'' (St. John i. 221.) 

On the Quop River Sir Chas. Brooke notes: ** We passed some Dyak 
houses, and were followed by a few guides who were good specimens of the 
inhabitants. Their skins were about the colour of a new saddle, their 
features not good but pleasing, with raven black hair flowing down the back." 

(i. 31.) 

Mr. Houghton describes the Upper Sarawak Dyaks : " The complexion is 
yellowish brown, the eyes and hair black; the latter is coarse, and is 
generally worn long ; in some cases it is inclined to curl. The shape of 
the head is round, a little elongated on the top ; the face is broad ; the 
eyes large ; the nose a little pressed in on the bridge, and wide at the bottom ; 

48 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

the nostrils are large, the lips thick, and the teeth rather projecting. . . . 
They are very strong and robust people, and able to bear a long abstinence 
(some two or three days). Their life is a very hard-working one. Several 
months in the year they live entirely away from the village in houses built 
on the farms in the jungle, preparing the ground, sowing, weeding, and 
harvesting. They are able to carry very heavy loads on their backs. Men, 
women, and children work on the farms. The women are not treated with 
any distinction with regard to the farm-work." (Houghton, M. A. S. iii. pp. 
195 and 198.) 

The Sennahs: ** The men, with few exceptions, are clean and well built ; 
the women and girls appear healthy, and are in many instances good-looking." 
(Houghton's Report.) 

** In point of physique the Sennah tribe is vastly superior to any of the 
Dyaks I had visited. The men possess more stamina, are well built, healthy 
and strong, more clothed than the generality of their countrymen, while in 
manners and address they are open and independent, being devoid of the 
shyness and timidity which characterizes this people. Some of the women 
are really good-looking, with clean, healthy skins and cheerful, smiling faces." 
(Denison ch. vi. p. 65.) 

The Sennahs are altogether an interesting tribe ; in manner the men are 
more polite ; the women are fuller of Hfe ; some of the girls were pretty, 
their best age being six to sixteen, after that they begin to fall off." (St. 
John i. 142.) 

Sir Jas. Brooke writes of them : ** From the numbers I have seen I 
may safely pronounce that they are by no means a fine race. Their stature 
is short, their persons generally slight, though well formed, their muscles 
little developed, and bearing all the marks of savage life by exercise, but 
not labour; the countenance is intelligent, the eye good, but their colour 
is scarcely so light as that of the Malay, the general characteristic of the 
countenance the same." (Mundy, 205.) 

Of the Lundus Lieut. Marryat writes: "There were many women among 
the groups ; they appeared to be well made, and more than tolerably good 
looking, (p. 47.) . . Speaking of the sons of a chief, he says : " Without 
exception, these three young men were the most symmetrical in form I have 
ever seen. The unrestrained state of nature in which these Dyaks live gives 
to them a natural grace and an easiness of posture, which is their chief charac- 
teristic." (p. 75.) And of the Lundu people generally he says: **They 
are middle-si^ed, averaging 5 feet 5 inches, but very strong built, and well 
conditioned, and with limbs beautifully proportioned. In features they differ 
very much from the piratical inhabitants of these rivers. The head is finely 
formed, the hair slightly shaven in front, is all thrown to the back of the 
head ; their cheek bones are high, eyes small, black, and piercing, nose not 
exactly flat — indeed, in some cases I have seen it rather aquiline ; the mouth 
is large and lips rather thick, and there is a total absence of hair on the face 
and eyebrows." (p. 78.) He describes a Lundu as follows: ** His complexion 
was somewhat darker than that of the generality of Malays. The countenance 
intelligent, the eye quick and wandering, the forehead of a medium height. 

Physique, 49 

His stature was 5 feet 2 inches, his limbs were well formed and muscular, 
the ankles and knees small, and his chest was expanded. He walked well 
and erectly, and bore every mark of his physical powers having been 
developed by constant exercise. He was by no means shy or reserved, but 
answered readily to our questions, and often when they exceeded his power 
of comprehension made us repeat them." (Mundy i. 21.) 

Lieut. Marryat describes this same Lundu thus (p. 73) : ** The eldest son 
of the chief came to us immediately, in a canoe. He was a splendidly-formed 
young man, about twenty-five years old. He wore his hair long and flowing, 
his countenance was open and ingenuous, his eyes black and knowing. His 
dress was a light blue velvet jacket without sleeves and a many-coloured sash 
wound round his waist. His arms and legs, which were symmetrical to 
admiration, were naked, but encircled with a profusion of heavy brass rings." 
Elsewhere he says of the Lundu : ** They were copper-coloured, and extremely 
ugly ; their hair jet black, very long, and falling down the back ; eyes were 
also black, aud deeply sunk in the head, giving a vindictive appearance to the 
countenance ; nose flattened ; mouth very large ; the lips of a bright vermilion 
from the chewing of the betel-nut ; and, to add to their ugliness, their teeth 
black and filed to sharp points. Such is the personal appearance of a Loondoo 
Dyak." (Marryat, p. 5.) 

The Dyaks are as little blessed with beauty as the Malays. The bridge 
of the nose is flat, the nostrils very wide, large mouth, the lips pale and pufifed 
up, and the gums projecting. Like the Malays they file their teeth and colour 
them black. The expression of their faces is generally calm and good-natured, 
and sometimes somewhat stupid, which may partly be due to the custom of 
keeping the mouth continually open. Their skin is a light brown, eyes and 
hair black. The men wear their hair short, the women wear theirs long, 
straight, hanging down, and not plaited. The gait and bearing of the women 
is very ungraceful ; they place their feet wide apart and push their belly^ 
forwards." (Pfeiffer, 77-78.)' 

* " Several of them [women] would probably have been considered pretty even in Europe, 
and the state of confusion into which they were thrown added not a little to their interesting appear- 
ance. Their features generally bore some resemblance to the Malays, but many were even fairer 
than the Chinese ; while several were freckled by exposure to the sun, which I had never noticed 
before in any of the natives of the Archipelago. ... I had previously heard of the Dyaks only, as a 
barbarous people, more strongly addicted to human sacrifice than any other race in the world, and 
I was. therefore, totally unprepared to find them so mild and prepossessing in their appearance. 
. . . The Dyaks are of middle size, and, with the exception of those who are continually 
cramped up in their little canoes, are invariably straight-limbed and well formed. Their limbs are 
well rounded, and they appear to be muscular, but where physical strength is to be exerted in 
carrying a burthen they are far inferior to the more spare-bodied Chinese settlers. Their feet are 
short and broad, and their toes turn a little inwards, so that in walking they do not require a very 
wide path. Their foreheads are broad and flat, and their eyes, which are placed farther apart than 
those of Europeans, appear longer than they really are. from an indolent habit of keeping the eye 
half closed. The outer corners are generally higher up the forehead than those nearer to the nose, 
so that were a straight line drawn perpendicularly down the face, the eyes would be found to diverge 
a little from right angles with it. Their cheek-bones are prominent, but their faces are generally 
plump, and their features altogether bear a greater resemblance to the than of any 
other of the demi-civilized nations in Eastern India. . . . The Dyak countenance is highly 
prepossessing, more so than that of any people I have yet encountered. On only one occasion did 
I ever perceive a decidedly sulky expression, and that was in the case of a lady who had been treated 


50 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo. 

Sea Dyaks. 

" In general appearance the Sea Dyaks have the advantage of the Malays 
and land tribes, being of a higher, though still short, stature, well-made, and 
with limbs of excellent proportions ; a subdued and calm, but resolute air ; 
an imposing carriage, walking with a light and graceful step, and peculiarly 
self-possessed bearing ; these qualities impress the stranger more favourably 
than the smaller stature, less elegant figures, darker features, and more 
cunning expression of the countenance of the Malays.'' (Low, p. 177.) 

" The men are fine healthy fellows, the women were mostly rather ill- 
favoured in personal appearance and the children were, without exception, verj' 
dirty, but all were good-natured and polite. . . . The men are well-propor- 
tioned but sparely built, and not, as a rule, what would be called muscular. 
Their form denotes activity, speed, and endurance, rather than great strength ; 
precisely the qualities most required by a denizen of the jungle. While this 
is true of the men in general, it is by no means uncommon to meet thick-set 
and muscular individuals ; almost the first Dyak I saw, Dundang, was a 
fleshy native Hercules. Their movements are easy and graceful, their 
carriage always erect. The color of a typical Sea Dyak is dark-brown with a 
a strong tinge of yellow ; his hair is jet-black and falls in graceful, flowing locks 
upon his shoulders, instead of being perfectly straight and characterless like 
that of the Malays. But the Sea Dyak women in general are by no means 
bad-looking. Their faces are bright, intelligent, and interesting, and I dare say 
others would call many of them pretty. As a rule they are handsomer than 
the men. Some that I saw were so clear-skinned and light as to be really a 
dark-yellow, but sufficiently warmed with brown to make it healthy-looking, 
and far from disagreeable. Their eyes are always jet-black and sparkling, 
and their hair, which is abundant, well-kept, and drawn straight back 
without parting, is likewise glossy and black as a raven's wing. Their teeth, 
alas ! are also black from chewing betel, which likewise reddens their lips for 
the time being. Their busts, which are always exposed, are generally plump 
and well-formed until old age mars all such beauty and leaves the skin 

rather indecorously by some Malays. Those whom I saw for the first time (except in one instance 
on my return from the gold-fields), always cast their eyes on the ground, and sometimes turned 
away their faces in a manner similar to, that of a bashful child ; but by pretending to take no notice 
of them, and conversing with someone who happened to be present, they would after a time ^teal 
an occasional glance, and if they understood Malay, I generally managed to draw them into con- 
versation. Their bashful manner, however, rarely wore oflf entirely, even after frequent meetings. 
The countenances of the Dyak women, if not exactly beautiful are generally extremely interesting, 
which is, perhaps, in a great measute owing to the soft expression given by their long eyelashes, 
and by the habit of keeping the eyes half closed. In form they are unexceptionable, and the 
Dyak wife of a Chinese, whom I met with at Sin-Kawan. was, in point of personal attractions, 
superior to any Eastern beauty who has yet come under my observation, with the single exception of 
one of the same race, from the North-West Coast of Celebes. In complexion, the Dyaks are much 
fairer than the Malays, from whom they also differ greatly in disposition and general appearance, 
although not so much as to lead to the conclusion that they could not have sprung from the same 
source, giving rather the idea that the cause of dissimilarity has proceeded from the long disconnec- 
tion of the Malays from the original stock in addition to their admixture and intercourse with 
foreign nations. The Dyaks are a much superior people to the Malays, although the latter affect 
to consider them as beings little removed from the orang-outan." (Earl. pp. 211, 257, -261.) 

Physique. 51 

hanging from the shrunken sides in hundreds of wrinkles and folds. The 
girls marry at sixteen and are old women at thirty." (Hornaday, pp. 413, 

Of other Sea Dyaks we read : — " In youth and before marriage their 
figures are slight and graceful, with small waists, and not too largely 
developed to obliterate the sylph-like contour of a budding beauty. Their 
eyes are, in most cases, jet-black, clear, and bright, with quick intelHgence 
and temper beaming through the orbs. The shape of the lid when 
open is very oval, the lashes are long and thick, forming an abundant 
fringe, which shades the sun's piercing rays from the pupils. The brow 
covering is often so perfectly arched and finely chiselled, as to lead people to 
think that the outline has been shaved, as is done in many Eastern countries. 
We must step, however, the short distance of an inch and a half, from the 
sublime to the ridiculous, and describe the nose by the simple but expressive 
term, * snubby and turn-up.' Then pass on to the mouth, from here to 
yonder, naturally ill-shapen and made worse by disfigurements, from the 
excessive chewing of sirih and betel-nut. The teeth are stained black and 
filed to a point, and the red juice is besmeared over their lips and considered 
an adornment. They are not, however, thick lipped, nor does their 
appearance evince an excess of the sensual passions, as is found in many 
Asiatics. The general expression of their countenances is attractive by the 
buoyancy and brightness emitted from the eye; this charm pleases and 
softens the remainder of their irregular features. The hair may be compared 
to a Shetland pony's tail, long, bright, and coarse, which lasts as long as 
health permits. A fever quickly deprives them of this beautiful adornment, 
of which they are exceedingly proud. They seldom fail to shake their heads 
before a spectator, in order to toss their flowing tresses over their back and 
shoulders. The more favoured ones, too, when on a visit, are fond on the 
excuse of excessive heat requiring the jacket to be withdrawn, to expose a 
smooth, satiny, brown skin. In warm climates this can scarcely be con- 
sidered an indelicacy by the most sensitive. . . . Their labour soon brings 
an excess of muscle over their frame, and then their appearance becomes 
hard and healthful, but less interesting. The holding of parangs in their 
unformed and youthful hands, for the purpose of cutting young jungle, injures 
their fingers, and many are to be seen with crooked and enlarged knuckle-bones. 
The ankle swells with continual plodding up hills, or in swampy grounds. 
This, however, soon vanishes when they are restored to quiet life." (Brooke i. 
66-69.) Their gait is very stiff and ungraceful. It resembles waddling more 
than walking, and they always have the toes turned in, owing to the scantiness 
of their dress, and the habit of fixing its folds between the knees. They are 
wonderfully strong walkers, and fetch water for everyday household purposes 
firom surprising distances. The colour of their skin varies considerably, not 
so much between one tribe and another as in various localities ; and whether 
it be attributable to different kinds of water, or food, or increase of shade from 
old jungle, is a question. But there is no doubt that all who reside in the 
interior are much fairer than those who have moved towards the mouths of 
the rivers, and a very few years is able to effect the change of appearance. 

52 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

They say themselves it is owing to the muddy colour of the water in the 
lower grounds, whereas further up the river they bathe in and drink of clear 
gravelly-bedded streams. Their natural tint is an olive or bronze colour, 
which in my opinion is remarkably suited to the human race." (ibid'i. 70, 71.) 
** The chiefs wife brought out a child to show us, of which they were both very 
proud ; but a more consummate lump of ugliness I never set eyes on.'* (ibid i. 
94.) On one occasion, when the boat was empty, she was hauled over by 
long rattans, and *' one Dyak of our party held her bow. As he skipped from 
one rock to another he looked like a baboon, although he was a beautifully- 
proportioned fellow, about 5 feet 8 inches in height, thin and straight, with 
no calf to the leg, which is always a sign of activity in Dyak estimation. He 
had a grown-up family, and must have been on the wrong side of forty, but 
yet a stranger might have taken him for twenty-five. All our party were 
amused with his movements, and his tongue never stopped wagging." 
{ibid ii. 166.) At Ballei a chiefs wife informed me **she had had ten, and now 
had grand-children. She seemed quite young herself, and her hair still flowed 
in long raven tresses. Their figures are not good, and I have not as yet seen 
a passable-looking one among them. The men are stout and strong, with 
full limbs, and have not bad features ; their noses are certainly much more 
developed than in most other tribes." (ibid ii. 171.) Further up the river was 
Apai Jantai's house. ** It was a better house than we had yet seen, situated 
on the side of a steep hill about 400 feet from the water, up and down which 
the stout damsels thought nothing of carrying water three and four times a 
day, besides climbing in other directions to attend to their gardens and various 
pursuits ; but look at their calves, which the steeps had developed ! A heavy 
load of padi, and a little child sitting on the top of it, are a common burden 
for a young mother." (ibid ii. 173.) ** Men seemed like ducks in the water, 
and the most active now became conspicuous swimmers and divers, all had 
their duties. The amount of exertion of this kind which the natives will 
undergo js simply wonderful. They keep it up hour after hour in the coldest 
mountain stream, jumping in and over places where Englishmen could not 
stand, as the rocks were as slippery as glass, and many of the ridges were 
not over three inches wide, without a holdfast of any sort, making one giddy 
to look at them. . . ." (ibid ii. 260.) '' The crews assisted one another, 
creating a deafening sound. The din of bah^ bah, bah, and yells even drowned 

the sound of the cascade." (ibid ii. 261.) 

** Dyaks gazing or watching naturally place themselves in graceful 
attitudes, and arrange their cloth around their shoulders as a Highlander 
his plaid. I especially remarked these lithe, upright, and pliable figures, 
which a sculptor might have coveted, combining slim grace with great 
muscular development ; and this is really required for such work as they 
undergo in this country, which without doubt is the most difficult to travel 
over." (ibid ii. 254.) Balang's people, " numbering about two thousand 
men, are fine specimens of Dyaks, each being nearly equal to two Malays 
in muscle and weight, for they are taller by some inches, with great develop- 
ment. One of the chiefs came to me yesterday and complained, * The sea 
men (Malays) don't know how to pull ; they jerk at their paddles too much 

Physique. 53 

to move a boat against a current.' The stroke of these Dyaks is long ; their 
heads are almost bent down to their knees. Besides, they work much more 
unitedly, whilst the Malays so often stop to smoke, or chew, or chat ; but in 
many places about here all must use their strength or the boat would drift. 
A Dyak is in his element when on an expedition, and takes a pride in all he 
does, cooking regularly only twice a day, and feeding all in company, when 
the rice is divided equally to each man.'* (ibid ii. 268.) 

" A Saribas chief of a tribe near came aboard, named Lingir — a short 
man, of most. perfect symmetry, serpent-eyed, with the strong savage pictured 
in his physiognomy. While he sat on the deck I could not keep my eye off 
his countenance, for there was peculiar character lurking underneath the 
twinkle of that sharp eye — avarice, cunning, foresight, and prudence, all 
within so small a compass." (ibid i. 25,) 

** One Saribus Dyak of our party, who had been fined I don't know 
how many times for taking beads from any one he met in different directions, 
was on this^ occasion of invaluable use. He seemed never to tire, and every- 
thing was placed on his shoulders. A spare, amiable-looking fellow as could 
be met, and yet every part of his person gave assurance of strength and 
endurance. He took all the hard work of our party in hand, supplying us 
with firewood and water, and watching while the others slept ; the first 
up and the last to rest. Our other friend, the Sakarang Dyak, with the 
activity of the monkey tribe, had been unwell the whole march, and was 
walking along with a stick, with an attack on him which would have laid 
any Christian on his back. I have experienced the kind of sickness, and 
therefore am able to form an idea of the pain he was suffering ; but he kept 
up manfully, and gradually began to get better. The attack seldom lasted 
more than three days." (ibid ii. 187). 

Referring to some Dyaks who acted as his boatmen in his great Kayan 
expedition of 1863, Sir Chas. Brooke says : ** Their numbers in hard work 
produce an unpleasant effluvia if one be housed on the same level with them." 
(ii. 259-260.) 

The Sibuyaus: ** Their figures are almost universally well made, and 
showing great activity without great muscular development, but their stature 
diminutive." (Keppel i. 53.) ** One of the Sibuyau chiefs married daughters 
was quite pretty, extremely fair, with soft expressive features, and a very 
gentle voice." (St. John.) *'They (the women) were small but remarkably 
well-shaped, and with limbs of delicate formation "....** The colour of 
their skins was Hght brown, smooth, and glossy" .... **The men were 
of short stature, stoutly made, and nothing remarkable in their manner 
or appearance "....'* Numerous fine children were playing about the 
verandah, and looked upon us without fear." (Mundy ii. 115.) 

The Ballaus: "The women amongst them are ill-looking and hard 
worked." (Brooke i. 238.) 

The Ballaus ** are smaller, and possess less physical strength than 
Europeans, but they have great powers of endurance, and great bodily 
activity, climbing rocks and trees like cats or monkeys. Their countenance 
is, as I have said, of the Malay type, and it consequently takes some time 

54 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo. 

before a European becomes accustomed to their appearance; but when his 
eye has been reconciled to their cast of features, he soon discovers in them 
intelligence, openness, sprightliness, and good-humour. These qualities 
never fail to commend themselves to the favourable consideration of the 
spectator, and he soon begins to consider them handsome, according as they 
approach the ideal of the Malay type, just as he considers a European 
handsome according as he approaches the ideal of the Caucasian type.'* 
(Horsburgh, p. lo.) 

** The Skarans are physically a well formed race, though small of stature. 
The average height of men living in the coast regions is about 5ft. 2in. or 
5ft. 3in. They are fairly broad in proportion to their height, and their limbs 
supple and well developed, not being confined by a quantity of clothing. In 
the upper waters of the rivers a taller and altogether fuller development is 
found, and I have come across men ranging from 5ft. loin. to 6ft. 2in. in 
height. The women are from two to three inches shorter in stature than the 
men. Round the chest they average about 33 to 34 inches." (F. W. Leggatt.) 
" The skin is light nut-brown in colour, and of a soft velvety smoothness 
and free from hair, except on the pubes and in the arm-pits. But exposed 
parts are burnt by the sun's heat to a darker shade. The Sakarang tribe are 
allowed to be nice-looking, and are particularly noticeable for their agility, 
coupled with elegance of gait. . . . They are some shades lighter in 
colour than the Bantings." (Brooke i. 108, 107.) The strength of some 
of these people may be gauged by the following : — On one expedition an 
Englishman broke down. " He was a man over six feet in height, and 
heavy in proportion. The Dyak who carried him up hill after hill, as if he 
had been an infant, was only 5ft. 2in. without his shoes." (ibid i. 312.) 

** The Sakarang women are, I think, the handsomest among the Dayaks 
of Borneo ; they have good figures, light and elastic ; with well-formed 
busts and very interesting, even pretty faces ; with skin of so light a brown 
as almost to be yellow, yet a very healthy-looking yellow, with bright 
dark eyes, and long glistening black hair. The girls are very fond of using an 
oil made from the Katioh fruit, which, has the scent of almonds. . . . 
The Sakarang men are clean built, upright in their gait, and of a very 
independent bearing. They are well behaved and gentle in their manners : 
and, on their own ground, superior to all others in activity. 
Their strength and activity are remarkable. I have seen a Dayak carry a 
heavy Englishman down the steepest hills ; and when one of their 
companions is severely wounded they bear him home, whatever may be the 
distance. They exercise a great deal from boyhood in wrestling, swimming, 
running, and sham-fighting, and are excellent jumpers. When a little more 
civilized they would make good soldiers, being brave by nature. They are, 
however, short — a man five feet five inches high would be considered tall, the 
average is perhaps five feet three inches." (St. John i. 29.) The Sarebas are 
** just a shade lighter in complexion " and both these and the Skaran tribes 
have more of the Tartar cast of feature than the others. (Grant, p. q6.) 

** The Undnps are not so nice looking as the other tribes." (Brooke ii. 85.) 

** The women of the people the Sibus on the Rejang River^ , who are 

Physique. 55 

said to be the most beautiful of the natives of Borneo, are fairer, with more 
decided features than any others I have seen. On the whole, neither 
Williamson nor myself deemed the reputation they have obtained unmerited." 
(Low, p. 369.) 

Kanowits : ** They were as good-looking a set of men, or devils, as one 
could cast eye on. Their wiry and supple limbs might have been compared 
to the troqp of wild horses that followed Mazeppa in his perilous flight." 
(Brooke ii. 54.) *'The appearance of these people is very inferior; few of 
them have the fine healthy look of those I saw about Mr. Brereton's fort. 
The women are remarkably plain, and scarcely possess what is so common in 
Borneo, a bright pair of eyes." (St. John i. 39.) ** The chief, who was a 
very old man, with about thirty followers, then came on board. He was pro- 
fusely tattooed all over the body, and, like the rest of his savage crew, he was 
a hideous object. The lobes of his ears hung nearly to his shoulders, and in 
them immense rings were fixed. Round his waist he wore a girdle of rough 
bark, which fell below his knees, and on his ankles large rings of various 
metals. With the exception of the waist-cloth, he was perfectly naked." 
(Mundy ii. 123.) "Strangely enough, the Kanowit women are, as a rule, 
darker than the men." (de Windt, p. 73.) 

The Milanaus. 

** In personal appearance, the men of the Milanowes have much 
resemblance to the other races inhabiting the island, from whom they cannot, 
by their features, be distinguished. The women, however, enjoy the 
reputation of being far more beautiful than those of .any of the other tribes, 
and slaves from this nation are sold for a much higher price than girls from 
any other of the many divisions of the inhabitants of the island. I had only 
opportunities of seeing those of the Rejang tribe who live at Serekei, and 
cannot say that I observed their great superiority. They were dressed in the 
manner of Malayan females, and perhaps their long clothing may have better 
concealed their personal defects : their hair was kept in better order, and 
their faces were much fairer than is general amongst the other tribes." (Low, 


Sir Chas. Brooke speaks of ** A fine fellow, physically speaking, showing 

great power of limb. He stood 5ft. 7iin., with gigantic shoulders and depth 

of chest, with a cast of countenance somewhat resembling the Red Indian. 

. . . . He was considered a most prodigious striker with this weapon, 

and I have heard men declare that they have witnessed him sever at a blow, 

a hardish piece of wood as large as the leg of an ordinary-sized man. He 

was a clever and active fellow, and would dance and caper with his drawn 

sword on every imaginable occasion ; but insincerity was written on his 

features." (Brooke i. 302-3.) 

** The women were considered better looking than most others on the 

coast, having agreeable countenances, with the dark, rolling open eye of 

Italians, and nearly as fair as most of that race ; but I could never admire 

the colour, as they exhibited an almost unwholesome sallowness, and a 

want of vivacity upon their puddingj- features. The men are cleanly, and 

56 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

generally well-dressed, bjit not so nice-looking as many other tribes, {ibid ii. 


** They are not a handsome race, whatever may have been said to the 

contrary, both sexes being ill-formed, as a rule ; the women especially so, 
being short and squat, and, long before middle age, becoming very obese." 
(de Crespigny J. A. I. v. 34.) 

"In personal appearance the Milanows strongly resemble the other 
tribes inhabiting the Sarawak territory, and can only be distinguished from 
them by the squareness of their features ; the women, however, have 
unaccountably won a reputation for beauty. It is true there are some good- 
looking girls amongst them, but as a tribe they are far behind the Malays in 
figure and regularity of features ; they are very white (that is, an unhealthy 
milky white), but having to work all their lives treading or expressing the 
sago from the pith of the palm, their feet become large and their figures squat 

and stumpy The men are about the middle height ; they are not 

tattooed, nor do they use any ornaments or personal decorations." (Crocker, 
Proc. R. Geogr. Soc. 1881, 199.) 


Sir James Brooke describes the Kayans as follows, but I am not clear 
whether he refers to the great Pari tribe or to the Kanowits : ** In stature 
they are of moderate height, but stout limbed and fleshy. Their complexion 
is fairer than any of the other tribes; their faces round, fat, and good- 
tempered ; eyes small and well-formed ; and mouth expressive ; and 
altogether, with very few characteristics of the Malays, certainly much better 
looking men." (Mundy i. p. 260.) ^ 

** Tamawan was a small man, but Simatau and Singauding were hulking 
fellows ; they were all strong or wiry-looking men, capable of much fatigue. 

Their countenances on the whole were pleasant They are 

tolerable-looking women ; and I saw a few pleasant countenances 

Their countenances were open, bright dark eyes, smooth foreheads, depressed 
noses, clear skin, but indifferent mouths. They had good figures and well set 

up busts. I have as yet seen no old women and men in the tribe 

Some of the lookers-on were young girls with regular features, light skins, and 

good figures, with a pleasing, pensive expression Siobong's face 

was round, good-tempered, but rather coarse ; her voice was gentle, and she 
wore her long black hair hanging loose, but kept off her face by fillets of white 

bark I noticed two of her attendants, who were really pretty, 

being blessed with well-shaped noses and mouths, a rarity among the natives 
of Borneo." (St. John i. 100, 102, 109, 119, 120.) 

Some of these creatures are not bad-looking in their natural condition, 

* " The Diaks are the finest formed men that can be conceived, perfect models for the sculptor ; 
the warrior tribes are remarkably large men ; their activity is wonderful ; they will leap and catch 
the lower branch of a high tree, climbing to the top. hand over hand, without apparent exertion ; in 
descending they throw themselves into the midst of the branches and gain the ground immediately, 
without injury. They swim the most rapid rivers without fear of the numerous alligators, which 
they will attack and destroy in the water with their mandows ; they possess the power of remaining 
a long time under water." (Dalton, p. 50.) 

Physique. 57 

but they pervert the laws of nature to such a liberal extent as to become 
hideous. Their faces are flat and broad, and many bear a strong likeness to 
the Chinese. (Brooke ii. 224.) 

Bishop McDougall says : '* Palabun*s people are larger than the Dyaks, 
with straighter noses, and look ver>' like wild Irishmen ; the women have 
peculiar long oval eyes, and are tall and well-made, but, like the men, dirty 
and dingy-looking, and by no means so prepossessing as the sleek, shiny 
skinned, upright, agile Sakarrans." (Mrs. McDougall, p. 159.) 

The Sibops : " He was a fine, strong fellow, and with his dress of black 
bear-skin ornamented with feathers, his sword in hand, and shield adorned 
with many-coloured hair, said to be human, he looked truly formidable. His 
dancing expressed the character of the people — quick and vigorous motions, 
showing to advantage the development of his muscles." (St. John i. 109.) 


Bakatans : ** An old Bakatan sat opposite me who had the most striking 
eyes I ever beheld, darting fire from the small circular orbs which seemed to 
pierce one. The man altogether, notwithstanding this peculiarity, had an 
amiable appearance, and was tatooed from head to foot. Some of these 
Bakatans are very fine, handsome fellows, with far better features than most 
other tribes in these locaHties." (Brooke ii. 24.) 

Poonans : ** These were the fairest natives I ever saw in Borneo, being 
of a light yellow complexion, not unlike the Chinese.'' . . . . " Had it 
not been for the practice of elongating the ear-lobes and staining and filing 
the teeth these women would not have been bad-looking, (de Windt, p. 86.) 
" Punans who have not mixed amongst the Kayans use no boats, but they are 
capable of covering great distances in a day on foot, the women of the party 
carrying almost as much as the men." (Hose J. A. I. xxiii. 150.) 


" The Dusuns, or, as they are also spmetimes called by the Malays, 
Idaan, are for the most part a fine well-made and not unhandsome race ; the 
men muscular and well developed ; the women, when very youthful, positively 
pretty, except their black teeth, but those above the age of 20 are worn out 
with the hard work assigned to them, pounding padi and carrying wood and 
water. ... I could see no similarity of features between this race and the 
Chinese, except that in childhood the upper eyelid is turned in, so that the 
eyelashes appear to protrude from the eye itself. There is also a peculiar 
feature which assimilates them to the negroes of Africa, viz., the protuberance 
of the shin-bone, which in children is slightly arched outwards, a peculiarity 
which, with the first mentioned one, disappears with years, for the limbs of 
the young men are as well proportioned as a Spaniard's or an Irishman's." 
(de Crespigny, Proc. R. Geogr. Soc. ii. 1858 347-8.) 

** The Dusuns are well built, muscular, with lighter skin than the Malays, 
but with similar face form, but mouth smaller and better shaped." (de 
Crespigny, Berl. Zeits. N. F. v. 334.) 

•* The * Dusun,' or * Piasau Id'an,' the meaning of this last Hterally being 
' Cocoanut Villagers.' Generally they are a clean-skinned and handsome 

58 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo, 

race, far superior to their neighbours, the * Muruts,' who live farther south, 
and whose land culture is but indifferent." (Burbidge, p. 225.) 

** Both men and women are fairer-skinned than the coast people ; some 
of the youths are really handsome, with well-cut features, but the Mongolian 
type of feature predominates. These Dusuns are wonderful baggage-carriers: 
one of them carried a buffalo's load, and twenty-one Dusuns have carried the 
loads of thirteen buffaloes. They tie up their loads with broad bands of cloth 
or bark, leaving loops to go over the shoulders and one round the forehead ; 
the head-band is used when going up hill, when the head is bent forward, 
thus taking a good deal of the strain. The women always carry baggage in 
their paddi baskets, which are cone-shaped, made of the broad bases of 
sago leaf stems, neatly fastened with rattan to wooden hoops." (Whitehead, 
103.) ** They are marvellously strong and active considering their rather frail 
limbs, and they can carry loads all day over the most mountainous country 
that few Europeans would care to carry for many hundreds of yards." {ibid 


" These Ida'an are very good specimens of the interior people — clear- 
skinned, free from disease, with pleasant, good-humoured countenances. 
None of the women are good-looking ; still they would not be called ugly. 
. . . . They were all small slight men .... they were a dark 
featured race, intelligent looking, and appeared in features very much like the 
Land Dyaks of Sarawak." (St. John i. 248, 249, 390.) 

** The Datu possessed a daughter, the loveliest girl in Borneo. I have 
never seen a native surpass her in figure, or equal her gentle, expressive 
countenance. She appeared but sixteen years of age, and as she stood near, 
leaning against the door-post in the most graceful attitude, we had a perfect 
view of all her perfections. Her dress was slight indeed, consisting of nothing 
but a short petticoat reaching from her waist to a little above her knees. 
Her skin was of that light clear brown which is almost the perfection of 
colour in a sunny clime, and as she w^as just returning from bathing, her 
hair unbound fell in great luxuriance over her shoulders. Her eyes were 
black, not flashing, but rather contemplative, and her features were regular, 
even her nose was straight. 

So intent was she in watching our movements, and wondering at our 
novel mode of eating, with spoons, and knives and forks, that she un- 
consciously remained in her graceful attitude for some time ; but suddenly 
recollecting that she was not appearing to the best advantage in her light 
costume, she moved away slowly to her room, and presently came forth 
dressed in a silk jacket and new petticoat, with bead necklaces and gold 
ornaments. In our eyes she did not look so interesting as before." (St. 
John i. 302.) 

** Among aboriginal faces it is rare that one strikes one as a 
physiognomical unpleasantness; it does so in the case of Jeludin." (Witti 
Diary, 19th March.) 

** The Kiaus are much dirtier than any tribes I have seen in the neigh- 
bourhood ; the children and women are unwashed, and most of them are 
troubled wdth colds, rendering them in every sense unpleasant neighbours. 

Physique. 59 

In fact, to use the words of an experienced traveller, * they cannot afford to 
be clean,' their climate is chilly, and they have no suitable clothing. We 
observed that the features of many of these people were very like Chinese — 
perhaps a trace of that ancient kingdom of Celestials that tradition fixes 
to this neighbourhood." (St. John i. 263-4.) 

** The Kiaus are generally taller, broader, and healthier-looking than the 
Melangkaps; the reason for this physical change in the condition of the 
people is not far to seek. The Kiaus are great tobacco cultivators, and 
they exchange this product freely amongst the other villages ; they are thus 
able to keep themselves more abandantly supplied with the necessaries of 
life than their neighbours. . . . Being more robust they are more industrious.'' 
(Whitehead, 157.) 


** They were splendidly framed men, but very plain in person, with the 
long matted hair falling over their shoulders." (Marryat, p. in.) 

** Some of the Murut women are fine muscular creatures, and either in 
boats or a field they appear to be as strong and active as the men. The 
physique of the inland tribes, especially of the Dyaks, Kayans, and Muruts, is 
superior to that of the Malays. The Kayans and Muruts are especially lithe 
and active — bronzy, straight-limbed, and statuesque. This is the result of an 
active life spent hunting in the forest, climbing after gutta, rubber, jungle- 
fruit, or bees-wax, or in cultivating the clearings around their dwellings, or in 
fishing in the rivers." (Burbidge, p. 156.) ^* It is curious to notice the very 
old look that many of the boys and girls have, especially the latter: it 
requires a glance at the bosom to discover whether they are young or not.' 
(St. John.) ** The Adang Muruts women are remarkably ill-favoured — broad 
fiat faces and extremdy dirty." (St. John ii. 115.) "The Muruts have a 
repulsive look." (de Crespigny, Berl. Zeit. N.F., v. 330.) 


** The Rajah Muda, the Lanun chief, came on board, and was very 
civil. He is a handsome-looking, manly fellow, and extremely polite. From 
what I have heard and seen, he is a type of his countrymen — a different 
race from the Baju : a slight figure, more regular features than the Malays, 
a quiet, observant eye ; he wore a delicate moustache." (St. John i. 234.) 


** No one can accuse the Bajus of being a handsome race ; they 
have generally pinched-up, small faces, low foreheads, but bright eyes ; the 
men are short, slight, but very active, particularly in the water ; the women 
have similar features, and are slighter and perhaps taller than the Malay; 
they wear their hair tied in a knot on the fore part of the head, which 
has a very unbecoming appearance. I never saw a good-looking face among 
them, judging even by a Malay standard. The Datu had five daughters, as 
well as five sons — a large family, but a thing by no means rare in Borneo." 
(St. John i. 238.) 


H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N, Borneo, 


Speaking of the Land Dyaks, Mr. Grant says (p. 56) : — " The majority of 
these people do not seem to be long-lived.'* 

" Even now most of the Upper Sarawak Dyaks do not know their ages, but 
guess only, and sometimes quite at random. You might hear people answer 
the question, how old they are, with eighty, one hundred, or two hundred, 
who, perhaps, are not yet half that time. Another reason for dividing their 
answers, with respect to age, by two, is that they count a year only six 
months, i.e., from one rice harvest to the other. The people in general attain 
a pretty good age, the greater part up to sixty or seventy. The oldest man 
here, and, in fact of the whole Sentah tribe, is a (formerly heathen) priest or 
menang, about ninety-five to one hundred years of age, with grey hair. He 
lately become a Christian. He has a large family, all sons, some of whom 
are also Christians. His first wife, about seventy years old, is still alive. 
Both are still able to move about, talk cheerfully, and enjoy their food. The 
old man is suffering from loss of sight," (Houghton, M. A. S. iii. 195.) 

** In my opinion, an erroneous idea is generally entertained among these 
[Sea] Dyak races respecting both length of life and capability of bearing 
children. If allowances be made for their not having the advantage of 
medical skill there would, I believe, be found almost as great a longevity and 
fruitfulness as in England. It is not an uncommon occurrence to meet 
women without a grey hair on their head, who have borne their seven and 
sometimes nine children, the eldest of whom may have reached a marriage- 
able age. Four generations are often alive at the same time. Natives 
sometimes look old when they are only twenty-five years of age, but do not 
alter afterwards until they are far advanced. Whether a man be thirty or 
sixty is difficult to guess. Calculations of age are generally computed by the 
increased size of trees, or by certain events, particularly the attacks made 
upon their country." (Brooke i. 58.) 


The recorded measurements of the heights of the various people are as 
follows : — 

Land Dyaks. 
Male Adults, 4ft. loin. (short) Female Adults, 4ft. 6in. (short) 











5ft. im. 

5ft. 3in. 

5ft. 4in. 

5ft. 5iin. 

5ft. 7in. 

9 9 

The Rev. Mr. Gomez gives the following : — 
Men, 5ft. 24in. 
5ft. 4in. 

5ft. 3in- 
4ft. loiin. 

4ft. Sin. 
4ft. gin. 
4ft. lo^in. 
5ft. oin. 
5ft. 2in. (tall.) 
(St. John i. 198.) 



Men, 4ft. iiin. 
Women, 5ft. oin. 

,, 4ft. loiin. {ibid ii. 390.) 

Sir James Brooke measured as follows : — 


A Bukar Dyak, 5ft. sin. 
A Sabun^o ,, 4ft. loin. 

A Brang Dyak, 5ft. 4iin. 

(Mundy i. 201.) 
A Londu ,, 5ft. 2in. {ibid i. 21.) 

Lieut. Marrj'at says (p. 78) of the Lundus, **they are middle-sized, 
averaging 5 ft. 5 in." ** The average height of the people (Sarawak Dyaks) is 
5 ft. 2 in., 4 ft. 6 in. being considered short, and 5 ft. 6 in. tall." (Hough- 
ton, M. A. S. iii. 195.) *'The average stature of the Dyaks is rather more 
than that of the Malays, while it is considerably under that of most 
Europeans." (Wallace i. 138.) 

Ska Dyaks. 

Of the Sibuyaus Sir H. Keppel writes: ** Their stature is diminutive, 
as will be shown by the following measurements, taken at random amongst 
them, and confirmed by general observation : 

** Sejugah, the chief: Height, 5 ft. if in. Head round, i ft. 9 in. 
Anterior portion, from ear to ear, i ft. ; posterior, g in. ; across the top, 

** Kalong, the chiefs eldest son : Height, 5 ft. 2^ in. Anterior portion of 
head, i ft. ; posterior, 8f in. ; across the top, i ft. ; wanting a few lines. 

Man from the crowd 





(Keppel i. 53.) 

Sir Spencer St. John says of them : ** They are short ; a man 5 ft. 5 in. 
high would be considered tall ; the average is perhaps 5 ft. 3 in." (i. 30.) 

Sir Charles Brooke says (ii. 268) : **They are taller by some inches than 
the Malays." He also speaks of one Skaran Dyak as being 6 ft. high 
(i. 312), and one 5 ft. 2 in. without his shoes (i. 312), and elsewhere of one 
who was 5 ft. 8 in. (ii. 166.) A Rejang river native he describes as 5 ft. 7^ in. 
high. (i. 302.) 

** In physique, the Sea Dyaks, like the Hill Dyaks, are below medium 
stature, the tallest Sibuyau man that I saw being barely 5 ft. 4^ in., while 
the majority were under 5 ft. 3 in." (Hornaday, 459.) 

** Sleeping in a Dyak house is almost like sleeping in the open air, but 
what is most unpleasant are the cribs of the bachelors, which are all too short 
for me. I have to sleep quite crooked, which makes me feel stiff in the 
morning." (Crossland, Miss. Life 1870, p. 218.) 

'* Few Dusun men are as tall as 5 ft. 10 in., the average height being about 
5 ft. 4 or six inches." (Whitehead, 107.) .... ** Our Bajaus, Illanaus, and 
Dusuns, none of whom weigh over nine stone, or stand over 65 inches." 
(Witti Diary, nth March.) 




• 5 


• 5 


• 5 


• 4 


• 5 

• 5 




H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 


The following is a summary of the records of colour of the peoples : — 


Land Dyaks, 
Dyaks. * 

Sarawak Dyaks. 


Sea Dyaks. 
Sea Dyaks, 

Sea Dyaks. 

Sea Dyaks. 
Sea Dyaks. 




Mil allows. 


Kay an. 
Kay an. 

Colour of new saddle. (Brooke i. 31.) 

Land Dyaks. 

Reddish Brown. (Grant 96-97.) 

Light Brown. (Pfeififer 77-78.) 

Yellowish Brown. (Haughton 195.) 

Copper Coloured. (Marryat 5.) 

Darker than that of generality of Malays. (Sir Jas. Brooke, 

Mundv i. 21.) 
Scarcely so light as that of Malays. (Sir Jas. Brooke, 

Mundy i. 205.) 

Sea Dyaks. 

Smooth Satiny Brown Skin. (Brooke i. 67.) 

** Often one fails to recognise them after gathering their 

harvests when they are exposed from morn to night to 

sun and rain, and become very black and dingy." 

(Brooke i. 68.) 
** Natural tint is an olive or bronze colour,'* the colour 

varies considerably according to locality rather than to 

tribe. (Brooke i. 70.) 
Dark brown, with a strong tinge of yellow. (Hornaday 461.) 
Women clear and light, almost dark yellow sufficiently 

warmed with brown to look healthy. (Hornaday 413.) 
Were some shades lighter in colour. (Brooke i. 107.) 
Women so light a brown as almost to be yellow, yet a very 

healthy looking yellow. (St. John i. 29.) 
Girl extremely fair. (St. John.) 
Light Brown, smooth, glossy. (Sir Jas. Brooke, Mundy ii. 

Dark Brown like the American Indians. (Sir Jas. Brooke, 

Mundy i. 125.) 


Nearly as fair as Italians. (Brooke ii. 99.) 
Women very white, that is, an unhealthy milky white. 
(Crocker, Pr. R. Geog. S. 1881, 199.) 


Fairer than the other tribes. (Sir Jas. Brooke, Mundy i. 

Clear skin (St. John i. 103.) 
Light skin. (St. John i. 109.) 
Bronzy. (Burbidge 156.) 

^ Much fairer than Malays. (Earl 260.) 




The fairest natives I ever saw in Borneo, being of a light 
yellow complexion, not unlike the Chinese. (De Windt 


Bronzy. (Burbidge 156.) 


Fairer skinned than the coast people. (Whitehead 107.) 
That light, clear brown which is almost the perfection of 
colour in a sunny clime. (St. John i. 302.) 


Flattish nostrils. (Grant 96.) 

Noses but slightly flattened. (Marryat 14.) 

Never without flat broad disreputable noses. (The Fields 20 

Dec, 1884.) 
An improvement on above. iXhe Field, 20 Dec., 1884.) 
A little pressed in on bridge, wide at bottom, nostrils large. 

(Houghton M.A.S. iii. 195 ) 
Not exactly flat, some cases rather aquiline. (Marryat 78.) 
Nose flattened. (Marryat p. 5.) 
Snubby and turn up. (Brooke i. 66.) 
Depressed. (St. John i. 109.) 
Well-shaped. (St. John i. 120.) 


Flowing. (Brooke i. 31.) 

In some case inclined to curl. (Houghton M.A.S. iii. 195.) 

Straight. (Pfeififer 77.) 

Flowing. (Hornaday 413.) 

Malay and Indonesian Affinities. 

If we may judge from the above meagre records of their physique we must 
conclude that the people are distinctly Malay in stature, colour, and noses. 
Of their eyes we have not sufficient particulars. In their muscular develop- 
ment they would seem to approach the Indonesian type. In some cases 
their colour ** reddish brown," ** copper colour,'' **dark brown," in others 
of their hair, Bukars' beards, ** flowing," ** inclined to curl," would also 
seem to indicate Indonesian affinities. Judging from some of the portraits in 
full face, the noses might be considered good {ix,, Indonesian), but in the full 
face the double eyelid {i.e,, Malayan) is everywhere discernible. 

M units. 


Tawhran River 

Land Dyaks. 
Land Dyaks. 
Land Dyaks. 


Upper Sarawak, 

Sea Dyak. 


Upper Sarawak. 


Sea Dyaks. 


Land Dyaks: Amiability — Gratitude — Honesty — Life of oppression — Sir Jas. Brooke a god — 
Hospitality— Beggars— Honesty— Mentally and morally superior to Malays— Sports— Cat's cradle 
— High naoral character— Inter-tribal wars— Truthfulness — Honesty — Temperance — Apathy — 
First sight of white man — Straightforwardness — Cunning — Reserved manners — Closeness — Sulki- 
ness— Ambition destroyed by oppression — Aup hospitality— Character of Murong- -Curiosity and 
politeness— First sight of white man — No gross vices — Morals loose — Pleasant characteristics 
—Kindness to infirm — Generally intelligent — Very superstitious — Striving after better 
things — The Sennahs an interesting tribe— The trial of Pu Bunang — Unceremoniousness — 
Mirrors — Character easily modelled — Deluded idiots! The Sedumaks: Intelligence— Arts — 
Reading. The Sintahs: Fondness for similes — Pangeran Makota — Progress of Sarawak — Freedom 
from oppression — Laziness — Vaunting. The Singges intractable — Chief Parimban — Penguam 
— Laughter — Oratory — Mirrors — Piano — European child — Hospitality — Vermin — Stone- 
throwing — Election of an Orang Kaya — Honourable dealings — Malay oppression — Interesting 
race. Sea Dyaks: Civility. Merriment, Vigour — Arguments ineffectual — Courageous to 
doggedness — Bigoted to old customs — Intelligence superior to appearance — Three characters — 
Gratitude — Bugau captives — Practical view of a turncoat — Ban/i^^s' stupidity— Redeeming points 
— Inability to grasp idea of Christian worship — Bad harvests tame them — Gratitude— Good laws- 
Strange objections— Old Linghi— Kindly traits— Unequalled soldiers — Stubbornness — Extra care 
required — Powers of memory — Oratory — Fondness for litigation — Old suits — Murder resulting 
from an accident — Thief-finding— Debt case 25 years old— Old cases on Batang Lupar—k 
runaway daughter — A widower wants a head— Sympathy — Offence for breaking customs — 
Gowns and trousers make Christians — Strange questions— SAarait independence — Women's 
quickness— Imitation buttons wanted — Boys' rebellion — Small-pox marks — Loyish and Nanang. 
Sibuyaus: First Europeans— Good humoured women — School progress— Mr. Gomez' influence 
— Sports— Good material— Bishop Chambers. The Balaus' character — Industry — Carefulness — 
High interest on loans— Hospitality— Honesty — Truthfulness — Intellect deadens at maturity — 
Improvement— Lmi'i'a women paddlers — Noses— Female characteristics— Hearts true as steel — 
Tingling feet — Thwarting their habits — Dry humour — A Manang outwitted — A character — 
Rhymes — Kanowit wit — Sambas captives — Love of the mysterious — Sociability — Domestic 
peace — Universal happiness —Mutual help — Women's quarrels — Women's characteristics — 
Women adept politicians— Women's wit — Hospitality — Ostracising a thief — Cursing thieves— A 
practical curse— A missionary saved by cursing. Kayans : Enquiring and exact people — Love 
of peace — Inferior in character to Sea Dyaks— Kyan captives— Quiet manners— Energy — 
Conceit— Hospitality — Integrity — Traders' safety — Guests helping themselves — The Rajah at 
Balleh — The Poe disturbances — Retaliations — Tinjir raids — Batakans attacked — Attack by 
PMrtflws- Diving ordeal — Kayan demonstration — Theft— Settlement of Poe troubles — Expedi- 
tions stopped — Attack by Peng Kayans. Milanaus : Industry — Litigation — Hospitality — 
Women well dressed — Peacefulness. "Beckaras": Aptitude for learning. Bakatans : First visit to 
Europeans— Mirrors— Portraits asked to " come down " — Dyak conceit. Dusuns : Good rural 
population— Blood-thirsty tendencies checked— Not a disappearing people— Lithe and active — 
Cheerfulness— Sensible advice — Fibs - Industry, Decency and Politeness — Distant walking gives 
respect— Bad qualities —White men not white — Over-reaching — Hospitality— Not on visiting 
terms— Insensibility to sufferings of others — Influence of women — Anecdotes — Honesty of 
Dusuns— Dishonesty of /iCwiw —Vocabulary collecting — Friendliness — Interest in strangers — 
Dirt versus cleanliness — Miss Iseiom — Kadsio, the trouser-maker. Kadyans : Selfishness. 
MuRUTs : Brit. N. Borneo unfortunate with them— Brunei to blame — Better government, 
better customs— Farming— Drunkenness— Morality— Brawls — Numerous Feasts — Strange form 
of hospitality — Free takings — Harm to guest — Gratitude. 

Character Notes and Sketches. 65 

Land Dyaks. 

"The Hill Dyaks are a more amiable people than the Sea tribes, their 
morality is of a higher standard, their gratitude is undoubted, and their 
hospitality to strangers well ascertained. 

" In travelling also, I found them willing, on all occasions, to furnish me 
as many men as I might require for the transport of my luggage, which was 
usually, on a long journey, from twenty to thirty ; by these means, my traps 
followed me from village to village, all over the country, without any person 
with them, everything being left to the care and known honesty of the Dyaks; 
and though many of my things were the articles they would most have valued 
for dress or ornament, an instance of the slightest pilfering never occurred, 
though it might have been constantly committed, without the slightest danger 
of immediate detection. 

"Gratitude, which is too frequently found a rare and transitory virtue, 
eminently adorns the character of these simple people, and the smallest 
benefit conferred upon them calls forth its vigorous and continued exercise. 
Considering what a dreadful life of oppression Sir Jatnes Brooke rescued them 
from .... we can scarcely blame them, that in the excess of their 
thankfulness, they should have considered as supernatural the person who 
relieved them of their wretchedness, and by whose cherishing care and 
protecting kindness they once more enjoyed the lives and liberties with which 
the great Creator had endowed them. We accordingly find that several of 
their tribes have ascribed to Mr. Brooke the attributes and powers of a superior 
being ; and believe that he can, by his word, shed an influence over their 
persons or property which will be beneficial to them. In all their prayers, he 
is named with the gods of their superstitions, and no feast is made at which 
his name is not invoked." (Low, 243, 244, 246, 247.) 

**On the several occasions when I visited them [the Singes] they were 
uniformly hospitable, but great beggars ; they ask for every thing they see, 
but are as scrupulously honest as the other Land tribes, never thinking of 
helping themselves to any thing." (Low, 294.) 

** I am inclined to rank the Dyaks above the Malays in mental capacity, 
while in moral character they are undoubtedly superior to them. They are 
simple and honest, and become the prey of the Malay and Chinese traders, 
who cheat and plunder them continually. They are more lively, more talka- 
tive, less secretive, and less suspicious than the Malay, and are therefore 
pleasanter companions. The Malay boys have little inclination for active 
sports and games, which form quite a feature in the life of the Dyak youths, 
who, besides outdoor games of skill and strength, possess a variety of indoor 
amusements. One wet day, in a Dyak house, when a number of boys and 
young men were about me, I thought to amuse them with something new, 
and showed them how to make * cat's cradle ' with a piece of string. Greatly 
to my surprise, they knew all about it, and more than I did ; for, after I and 
Charles had gone through all the changes we could make, one of the boys 
took it off my hand, and made several new figures which quite puzzled me. 
Then they showed me a number of other tricks with pieces of string, which 
seemed a favourite amusement with them. 

66 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

** Even these apparently trifling matters may assist us to form a truer 
estimate of the Dyak's character and social condition. We learn thereby, 
that these people have passed beyond that first stage of savage life in which 
the struggle for existence absorbs the whole faculties, and in which every 
thought and idea is connected with war or hunting, or the provision for their 
immediate necessities. These amusements indicate a capability of civilization, 
an aptitude to enjoy other than mere sensual pleasures, which might be taken 
advantage of to elevate their whole intellectual and social life. 

** The moral character of the Dyaks is undoubtedly high — a statement 
which will seem strange to those who have heard of them only as head- 
hunters and pirates. The Hill Dyaks, of whom I am speaking, however, 
have never been pirates, since they never go to sea, and head-hunting is a 
custom originating in the petty wars of village with village, and tribe with 
tribe, which no more implies a bad moral character than did the custom of 
the slave-trade a hundred years ago imply want of general morality in all who 
participated in it. Against this one stain in their character (which in the 
case of the Sardwak Dyaks no longer exists) we have to set many good 
points. They are truthful and honest to a remarkable degree. From this 
cause it is very often impossible to get from them any definite information, or 
even an opinion. They say, * If I were to tell you what I don't know, I might 
tell a lie ;' and whenever they voluntarily relate any matter of fact, you may 
be sure they are speaking the truth. In a Dyak village the fruit trees have 
each their owner, and it has often happened to me, on asking an inhabitant 
to gather me some fruit, to be answered, * I can't do that, for the owner of 
the tree is not here ;' never seeming to contemplate the possibility of acting 
otherwise. Neither will they take the smallest thing belonging to an 
European. When living at Simunjon, they continually came to my house, 
and would pick up scraps of torn newspaper or crooked pins that I had 
thrown away, and ask as a great favour whether they might have them. 
Crimes of violence (other than head-hunting) are almost unknown-; for in twelve 
years, under Sir James Brooke's rule, there had been only one case of murder 
in a Dyak tribe, and that one was committed by a stranger who had been 
adopted into the tribe. In several other matters of morality they rank above 
most uncivilized, and even above many civilized nations. They are temperate 
in food and drink, and the gross sensuality of the Chinese and Malays is 
unknown among them. They have the usual fault of all people in a half- 
savage state — apathy and dilatoriness ; but, however annoying this may be 
to Europeans who come in contact with them, it cannot be considered a 
very grave offence, or be held to outweigh their many excellent qualities.'' 
(Wallace i. 138-140.) 

** Many of the women and children had never seen a white man before, 
'and were very sceptical as to my being the same colour all over as my face. 
They begged me to show them my arms and body, and they were so kind and 
good-tempered that I felt bound to give them some satisfaction, so I turned 
up my trousers and let them see the colour of my leg, which they examined 
with great interest." {ibid i. 114.) 

Mr. Noel Denison says : ** In the short experience I have had of the 



Character Notes and Sketches. 67 

Land Dyaks, I have found them with one or two exceptions truthful in the 
extreme, generally honest and straightforward in their dealings, though they 
can be cunning enough when it suits their purpose : they are reserved 
in their manners, and far from communicative to those with whom 
they are unacquainted, but having gained th^ir confidence and opened 
their hearts with a little arrack they become talkative and free in their 
conversation. I do not consider them generous; all and everything I 
received from these jjeople on my trip was paid for either in money, beads, 
tobacco, brasswire, etc. : and oh many occasions I was considerably a 
loser in my dealings. 

**The worst feature connected with the Dyak character is their temper ; 
they are sulky, obstinate and sullen when put out or corrected, and they are 
exceedingly apathetic, nor does there appear any inclination on their part to 
rise above their low and degraded condition ; all ambition or desire to elevate 
themselves or their children appears to have been trampled out of them by 
the years of tyranny and oppression which they have had to undergo at 
the hands of the Malays, and the only chance of improving this race is in 
caring for the children — the old men in my opinion are long past anything 
approaching to improvement." (Jottings, Introd. p. 4.) 

Of the Aup Dyak Orang Kaya he says : ** I was much pleased with this 
man and his tribe, who were hospitality itself." (ibid ch. iii. p. 34.) 

He gives the following account of the Gumbang Orang Kaya : 

"As Murung accompanied me to Sikong, and was my companion over 
the greater portion of my journey, I shall here take the opportunity of 
introducing a short sketch of this Dyak chief. Murung has been 22 years 
chief of his tribe. He is a short, lithe, active little fellow, and in his younger 
days must have been a dangerous enemy among his countrymen. He has 
associated a good deal with the Chinese, and acquired a very tolerable 
command of the Kay dialect of their language, in fact he speaks it so well 
that dressed as a Chinese he was able to accompany a party of Celestials to 
the town of Sambas. The Orang Kaya has been a great traveller, there is 
hardly a Land Dyak tribe in the Sarawak, Sambas, or Sangouw territories 
that he has not visited or is well acquainted with. He distinguished himself, 
as already mentioned, in the Chinese insurrection, and in the former inter- 
tribal wars of his race did good service for his tribe, and personally added 
many interesting relics to the village collection of smoked and dried skulls 
of enemies. Murung is a fussy, speculative, pushing kind of man, not without 
a good deal of cunning, and in many respects a thorough humbug. The 
former qualities have led him to join in working a parrit for gold with some 
Kay Chinese, of which fact he is never tired of bragging, the only ending 
of which can be in the transferring of any dollars or profit that may be his 
due into the hand of the Chinese, who are sure to swindle him. His cunning 
leads him to pretend to his countrymen that he can write Chinese, and the 
way in which he practises on their credulity in this respect is often ludicrous 
in the extreme. This Orang Kaya's besetting sin was love of drink. Still, 
with the single exception of the night in his own village, he never forgot 
himself, and on this occasion I fancy he was noisy and boisterous, as he 

68 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo, 

felt it imperative to show off his position before me to the assembled 
Dyaks. Murung never quarrelled with any one during his stay with me 
even when under the influence of something stronger than water, seemed 
welcome at every village, where all appeared to know him, was devoted 
in his attentions to the fair sex, and if cajoling and coaxing on the one 
hand and bullying on the other did not succeed in obtaining what was 
wanted, there was his paper and pencil ever ready to intimidate the unfortunate 
culprit. This chief was of great use to me during my trip, and with all his 
faults I like the man ;.he is intelligent, trusty, active and willing, and makes a 
good guide to any one wishing to make a tour among the Land Dyaks 
of Upper Sarawak." {ibid. ch. iv. p. 38.) 

At a Sennah village Mr. Denison had, like Mr. Wallace, some practical 
experience of the people's curiosity and politeness — 

** The people here were so civil and obliging that I could not refuse them 
when they asked me to strip to the waist, and roll up my trousers to the 
knees, to show I was a veritable white man. This little amusement I 
afforded them after eating my frugal dinner on the verandah in front of the 
house, with the whole village community collected around me, gazing with 
extraordinary curiosity and most serious attention at the way in which an 
orang puti swallowed his food, and all this without the slightest rudeness, 
noise, or unpoliteness." {ibid p. 68, App. B. to ch. vi.) 

" In common with most other orientals, they are very apathetic, but 
decidedly the worst feature of their character is their sluggish contentment 
with their present low condition, and the absence of any desire among them 
even for the elevation and improvement of their children. In this land of 
falsehood and roguery, however, their unswerving honesty is a quality which 
always commends them to one's regard and hides a multitude of other 
deficiencies." (Chalmers, O.P. p. 8.) Elsewhere this able missionary states: 
**On the whole, few (if any) gross vices are practised among them, and, if 
committed, they are single acts perpetrated by individuals, and reprobated 
by the mass of the people. It must be confessed that their morals, both 
before and after marriage, are somewhat loose, though seldom depraved. 
They are cheerful, patient, gentle, and often remarkably forbearing of injury, 
and above all, exceedingly kind (as a rule) to their aged and infirm relatives, 
and especially loving to their children, though without the pale of the 
family there is little charity shown. Many among them, both of men 
and women, are pleasant, intelligent companions ; the great body of the 
elders, however, are far from being so, while a few among them, both old and 
young, seem little removed in intelligence, desires, or enjoyments, above the 
level of the beasts that dwell in the jungles around. It need scarcely be 
added that all are most strenuously attached to their ancestral superstitions, — 
nor can it be wondered at, for with them are connected most of the davs 
of rejoicing and leisure which the course of Dyak Hfe affords ; reasoning 
against them has little or no power over their minds, for, in the few cases 
where the intellect is touched by it, the affections come into the question, 
and turn the scale ; yet I am thankful to say that there is no lack of 
individuals among them who are aiming and striving after higher truths and 

Character Notes and Sketches, 69 

nobler rules of life than their fathers knew ; enlightenment is what they 
want." (Mr. Grant's Tour, p. 129.) 

Sir Spencer St. John describes the Senahs as ** altogether an interesting 
tribe ; in manner the men are more polite ; the women are fuller of life." 
(i. 141.) In describing the trial of Pa Bunang, of this tribe, for the murder of 
his adopted father's brother, he says, Pa Bunang was ** a fine handsome man, 
certainly the most handsome Dyak I have ever seen, tall and powerfully made 
with a bold open countenance ; he was very ambitious and hence his crime. 
When he heard the sentence he threw himself on his knees and begged 
in piteous terms for mercy, but finding it was useless he declared his wife and 
child should die with him ; he first struck at the former and then tried to 
strangle the little thing between his arms, and failing in that, while struggling 
with the police, he fixed his teeth so tightly in the child's neck that they had 
to be forced open with the point of a drawn sword. His wife fled, and the 
child was saved, but he continued to struggle, and his roars could be heard 
until he was secured in his cell. I never witnessed a more painful scene. A 
marked contrast to that of the Malay who, calm and placid to the last 
moment, receives his condemnation with the observation, * It is your 
sentence,' and walks quietly to prison and to execution." {ibid i. 144.) 

Sir James Brooke tells us : ** In their demeanour the Sinar Dyaks are 
unceremonious, but respectful, and somewhat reserved, without the forward- 
ness of the Malays. The objects of wonder to be seen in the vessel, 
particularly the mirrors, attracted their attention ; but they never gave 
way to bursts of astonishment and laughter which the lower Malays indulge 
in, nor do they handle every thing that comes in their way in the same 
manner. I conceive on the whole, indeed, that they are a race easily to be 
modelled and improved, and nothing would tend so quickly to this, as the 
absence of all prejudice of religion, food, or caste." (Mundy i. 205.) 

** They ate and drank, and asked for everything, but stole nothing." 
(Kepp)el i. 147.) 

When Sheriff Massahore attempted a rising on the Sadong river, Sir 
Chas. Brooke writes of the deluded people : ** A parcel of greater idiots and 
lunatics could not be found. I pitied them from my heart, though these 
ignorant fellows are generally the most pig-headed and conceited, and nothing 
but rubbing their noses on the ground will bring them to subjection.'* (ii. 15.) 

The Sedumak Dyaks: ** I have now been living some years amongst 
Dyaks — in a Dyak village, and may be supposed to know something about 
them. I am sure the Dyaks are possessed of a strong intellect. Several of 
my people speak three or four distinct languages, some are able to read 
Chinese accounts ; there are some very creditable silversmiths amongst them ; 
they also make their own axes and knives, and very tolerable they are ; and 
my house is furnished with Dyak-made furniture, amongst which are some 
tables that would fetch a good price in England. In learning to read, &c., I 
find the Dyak boys both sharper and more patient and attentive than ever I 
found English boys. I have one old man, a grandfather, who learnt to read 
the written character in a few months with very little instruction." (Rev. 
J. Richardson, Miss. Field, 1886, p. 107.) 

70 H.. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

" One evening I was speaking to the chief of the Sintah tribe, and 
in their own phraseology, compared a government to a fruit tree, whereon 
many birds perched* to eat. He immediately caught my simile, and 
continued it thus : ' That is true, but under Pangeran Makota's * government, 
the big birds pecked the little ones, and drove them away, and would not 
allow them to have food. We were little birds, and were pecked very hard. 
I will relate to you,' he said, * a saying (pantun). " A plantain in the mouth, 
and a thorn in the back." Wljat is the pleasure of eating a plantain, if you get 
a thorn behind ? So it was with Pangeran Makota : he gave us a little, which 
was the plantain, and asked a great deal, which was the thorn. I want to 
eat no such plantains.' " (Sir Jas. Brooke, Mundy i. 211.) 

" Dyaks are as fond of repeating pantuns as they are of speaking by 
similes." (Grant, p. 84.) 

Later on Sir James Brooke continues: ** Sarawak seems to have taken 
the shoot upward which I had expected long ago : but confidence is of slower 
growth than I anticipated ; and piracy has been a great drawback. I may 
mention, too, that the effect on the Dyaks of a freedom from oppression has 
been just the reverse of what I expected. The freedom from oppression, 
the reduction of taxation, the security for life and property, has made them 
lazy. I always thought that it would have made them industrious, and 
eager to improve their condition. This error is a common one ; and probably 
most men in England would have fallen into it as well as myself. More 
of this another time ; but lazy or industrious, the right principle should (and 
shall) be persevered in ; for the right principle is based on the solid rock. 
If the first step is laziness, the second will be improvement, the third 
industry." (Keppel's Meander ii. 61.) 

Sir James Brooke mentions the curious custom of vaunting among the 
Singe Dyaks : " The Dyaks have amongst them a fashion which they call bunkit, 
or vaunting ; for instance, in the present case Steer Rajah and Parembam dared 
each other to go on excursions to procure heads, i.e., against their enemies — 
this is bunkit. One of Steer Rajah's followers went accordingly, and quickly 
procured the head of a hostile warrior far out of my territory ; and on the 
return of the party, Parembam in turn sent forty men to Simpoke, which is a 
tribe attached to Samarahan, and on our immediate border. Close to the 
Dyaks of Simpoke live a party of the Sigo Dyaks, who belong to me ; and 
this party of Parembam's, confounding friends and enemies, killed some of 
the Sigo Dyaks — how many is not certain. The Sigos, taking the alarm, 
cut off their retreat, and killed two of the Singe Dyaks ; and many besides 
were wounded by '^sudas^'^ and '' ranjows,'''^ and, all broken, fled back to their 
own country. Thus, though they obtained five heads, they lost two, and 
those belonging to their principal warriors." (Keppel i. 298.) 

Sir James also says : ** Singe is certainly the most intractable and wild 
tribe, numerous but less brave than the Sampro, to whom they have paid 
three times for peace. This arises in a great measure from the character of 

^ Makota was the minister of the upright but unfortunate Rajah Muda Hassein, and was the 
man who caused much trouble to Rajah Sir James Brooke ; Makota bore a bad character in every- 
way. ' See Warfare. 

Character Notes and Sketches. 71 

their chief Parimban; whose influence, during a life of sixty years, and a 
reign of thirty, has been most detrimental to the Dyak character/* (Mundy 
i. 330.) 

Mr. Grant on his Tour gives us some insight into the character of the 
Land Dyaks. He met with Pengaum, a fine old man. It was he who once 
came to the Rajah with a very solemn face to ask '* if it was true, as the 
Malays had told him, that the Dyaks after death were turned into firewood ! " 
(p. 10.) On one occasion he found ** C. (the Rev. Mr. Chalmers) surrounded 
by young dyaks, who were laughing immensely at the questions put to them, 
which were necessary for the compilation of his newly commenced Dyak 
vocabulary." (p. 11.) At another place he had several becharas to settle, "and, 
these done, I harangued the old Orang Kaya, the Tuahsy and a lot of the people, 
in reference to the government of the tribe, their disputes with other tribes 
about farming land, &c. ; and then the Orang Kaya, a fine, tall, but gentle- 
looking old man, spoke so beautifully, and almost poetically, that I quite fell 
in love with him. He commenced — * Since you have spoken, my heart has 
expanded to this size,' spreading out his arms on either side of him ; and then 
he went on to speak about the Rajah (Sir J. Brooke), and the Rajah Mudah 
(Captain Brooke), and said how he had always trusted to them, and how poor 
and unhappy he and his countrymen were formerly, in comparison with their 
condition now. He spoke so musically, and in such slow and earnest tones, 
illustrating all he said by such pretty similes, that it was quite charming to 
listen to him." (pp. 23-24.) ** Later in the evening I was amusing myself 
talking to some of the boys and young fellows who had collected round my 
writing-place, and taking a piece of paper, I made a sketch of one of the boys. 
After finishing it, I was not a little amused by an exhibition of most thorough 
conceit, which proves that this quality is not confined to civilised folks. A 
young man who had shortly before showed a wonderful desire to dance, and 
had requested my permission to do so, came up. He wore a red turban, and 
was got up to a nicety, with white shell armlets and other ornaments. He 
was really a very good-looking man, clean-limbed, and well proportioned, and 
his features seemed more like those of a Hindu than of a Dyak, but his every 
word and every look were those of the conceited puppy. * Yes,* he said, looking 
at my sketch, * it is very like — exactly. He (the boy) has ugly eyes, so they are 
in the picture ; his nose is bad, so it is in the picture ; his teeth are wretched, so 
they are in the picture ; his hair is short and badly cut, so it is in the picture;' 
— which complimentary speech concluded, he turned round with a supremely 
self-satisfied air, like a man, in fact, who considers that he has distinguished 
himself. The very reverse of this man was a dear old fellow, the Pungara of the 
tribe. One day, at my house at Belidah, I took him to look at himself in the 
mirror. He had never seen so large a glass before, and stood gazing at 
himself for a considerable time, apparently astonished, but not knowing what 
to say. At last I asked him what he thought of it. Still surveying his 
reflected image with an expression of extreme solemnity, he shook his head 
and said, with slow deliberation, ' Tuah-k'rus — s'rupa anak matt!' — which 
translated, mAns, * Old — thin — like a son of the dead ! * The poor old man 
had been very ill, and he was probably thinking of the effect it had had on 

72 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

him as he looked at himself in the mirror. It was the first time he had been 
to my new house, and he showed more surprise than most Dyaks do. But 
what pleased and amused him most of all was the piano, which M. played to 
him and his companions ; and when they saw the dampers of the keys 
jumping up and down, he fairly laughed aloud. I then brought our Httle B. 
to him. He took her wee white hand, and laid it against his rough old 
mahogany-coloured paw, and looked at it long and attentively. At last he 
said, " Oh ! if we had children like that, we would never let them go to the 
farms, we would never let them work, we would just hug them always." 
(pp. 25-26.) ** Their custom is, generally, to place before strangers fruits, 
betel-nut, and sundry platters of rice studded with eggs." (p. 35.) ** Once 
we stopped to luxuriate in the scene. As I was sitting writing my notes, 
and feeling awfully sentimental, I looked round, and there was a Dyak 
squatting on a rock near me, with another by his side, engs^ed in a natural 
history research on his friend's head. My poetry was at an end." (p. 51.) 
" On one occasion a man was stunned by stone throwing but was soon better ; 
then numerous were the assertions from the multitude, * I didn't throw 
the stone,' and * I didn't,' and so on. Of course nobody did it !" (p. 51.) 

The following account of his attempt to introduce a modern election of 
an Orang Kaya is worth repetition : — 

** At Semban we had to elect a new Orang Kaya, the old one being dead. 
I had hopes that the Pangara (Pa-Kaung), a pleasant, clever-looking man, 
with influence in the tribe, would be elected, but I was disappointed. It 
seemed they preferred a relative of the deceased chief, whose place had to be 
filled ; in the present case the latter left no son, but he had a son-in-law, who 
received a majority of votes. The system of election I followed was new to 
them. Taking the names of the heads of families, and then retiring to the 
Head House, I called them one by one, but never had I such difficulty in 
eliciting answers as in this election. From a sort of fear of mentioning 
names, giving offence, or expressing opinions, they would say, * Whoever you 
say, let him be Orang Kaya.' * But,' I would answer, echoed by half-a-dozen 
Malay followers, one after the other, * I want to know your opinion, the 
feelings and wishes of each family, and then only can I know who will be 
acceptable to you all.' " 

Q. * Well, who do you say ? ' 

A. * Tah / ' (* I don't know.') 

Q. * Listen then ' (bending back a finger for each), * would you like 
Pa-Kaungy or Pa-Bauh, or Pa-Sakut, or who ? ' 

A. *Tah!' 

Q. ' Will you have Pa-Sakut ? ' 

A. * Tah, whatever he says himself.' 

Q. * Oh ! if that is the case, perhaps you would wish to be Orang Kaya 
yourself ? ' 

A. * Apa katu Tuan saja.' (* Whatever you like.') 

Q. ' Now, make haste and give an answer, or I'll give you a Sambas 
Rajah, or a Chinaman for your chief — would you like that ? ' 

No answer. 

Character Notes and Sketches. 73 

Q. * Tell me, then, would you prefer sweet fruit or bitter fruit ? * 

A. * Sweet fruit/ 

Q. * Would you go up the pinang tree and get nuts, or up the nibong 
tree and get nothing ? * 

A. * The pinang tr^e.' 

Q. * Then give me the name of the sweet fruit, and tell me who you 
would like for your pinang tree ? * &c., &c., &c. 

** At length, very cautiously, the name is brought out, and I say, * Ah ! 
bdik, kcrnapa tida pada bagitu dulu, sudah-lah, bulih pulang.^ (* Ah, that is 
well, why did you not say so before ? That will do, now you can go.') 
Another man is called, and another provoking ten minutes ensue, but after 
a while the answers come more quickly ; whisperings are abroad that the Tuan 
is not going to cut their throats after all. Having got as many votes as 
necessary, I proceed to the platform, bring myself to an anchor on the mats, 
and collecting the whole tribe around me, call aloud, * Any one who does not 
wish this man for Orang Kaya, let him say so now, for afterwards he cannot.' " 
(PP- 52-53-) ** Those Dyaks who have not had much contact with Chinese or 
Malays are honourable and just in their dealings one with another, and the 
hospitality peculiar to thinly populated countries is in vogue among them. 
Crime is not frequent, and I should call them comparatively a moral people, 
and though they possess the oriental characteristic of being able to conceal 
their feelings and thoughts, and being stingy of information or evasive from 
caution, still I think they may be considered a truthful race. It must be 
remembered, however, that this is merely a sketch of the Land Dyaks, who 
dififer in many points from those called Sea Dyaks." (pp. 54, 55.) 

** The people appear innocent and inoffensive, owing to their long 
dependence on the Malays, who, by occupying the mouths of the rivers, keep 
a tight hand over them : they have an humble and submissive air. One 
virtue they possess which I have rarely witnessed among untutored nations — 
that of honesty." (Capt. Bethune, Jour. R. Geogr. Soc. xvi. 1846, p. 292.) 

** On the whole, I have seldom seen a more interesting race ; and I think 
they show great capacity for improvement." ^ (ibid,) 

Sea Dyaks. 

Among the Undups. — ** I went to all the houses to pay a visit, and 
the people were very polite ; in fact, nothing could surpass their civility as 
they pressed us to take food enough to last us a month, and begged me to 
stay among them. After sunset I again went forth to look for deer, and met 
many parties of Dyaks returning from cutting jungle for farming, but by the 
tone of merriment, and the racing about, they did not seem fatigued. 

* The Sambas Dyaks at the end of the Chinese insurrection frequently asked such questions as 
the followiDg : — " If Chinamen refuse to stop when told, may we kill them ? " On being told that in 
such a case they might simply detain them, they would ask — " But if they resist ? " I would then 
tell them how they could legally act in such a case, but my answers were evidently unsatisfactory, 
for I overheard the following "private and confidential" remarks in the background :~" If we ask 
the Tuan to let us kill Chinamen (they are all supposed to be refractory) he says 'Jattgan ' (' Don't '). 
We are afraid of them, what can we do if we are not allowed to kill them ? " (Grant, p. 78.) 

74 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

** In the evening I was surrounded by a large assembly, who considered it 
a mark of respect to keep me in conversation until a late hour. Hour after 
hour passed, while we talked of birds, dreams, omens, and I tried to explain 
to them that such usages could not really foretell or determine events. 
However, all my arguments had little effect on them. They gave me the idea 
of being a very ignorant people — courageous to doggedness — and they would 
firmly stand by one another, but they have little confidence in any other tribe, 
depending on the government of white men alone for protection. They are 
bigoted to a degree to olden customs, but kindly withal ; and on several 
occasions when the lads followed me they talked freely, and often surprised 
me by their gentle and kind inquiries, although I was a stranger among them : 
such as, * Let me carry your gun ; perhaps you will be tired in getting up the 
hill.' ' You will be loth to come and see us again, as you have had no 
success.' Their conversation far surpassed what a stranger would expect, if 
he judged solely from their appearance, which gave no impression of 
intelligence or amiability. They are more versatile then peasants in 

England, and much softer in speech and manner I sat up late 

one night with three Undup Dyaks who were well-known to me, and to eke 
out a confabulation, I plied them mildly with a few glasses of wine ; this 
inciter warmed the springs of their hearts, and soon occasioned a flow of 
conversation. The three men were all related, but no three could be more 
entirely opposite in character. One was a lively old father of a family, who 
smiled joyously as he expressed himself in his true and genial speech, 
although he did not care for saying more than he actually wished to outpour 
from a light heart. He was playful and volatile. The second was deeper and 
graver, knew more art, expressed himself with care, and felt a self-conscious 
pride or conceit, which told him to make a show. This man had mixed with 
Malays, and had been trained into their artificial ways; he corrected the 
volatile individual, and dilated on the proper method of behaviour before men 
of rank and strangers, until a poke in the ribs from the father of a family 
upset his gravity, and nature recovered herself by his bursting out into a 
laugh at his own folly, in spite of art and education. The third was a quiet, 
stolid, sickly, elderly man, who drawled out some prosy and maudlin remarks 
about a disease then on him, and asked for medicine ; he said his heart was 
true as steel to the Government, and so it was, for there was not a more 
courageous man in the river.' (Brooke ii. 88 and 119.) 

** Malays seldom think of making any return for your kindness — Chinese 
and Dyaks almost invariably do. I have known a Dyak bring out his purse 
and ask the cost. I told him it was freely given. He then apologised for not 
having brought a fowl for a present.' (Crossland, Miss. Field, i860, p. 92.) 

**As a rule I meet with gratitude felt rather than expressed, for the Dyaks 
have no word for thank you. The Malays have, but don't feel it." (ibid Miss. 
Life, 1867, p. 66.) * 

* When I was living in Sakarang, I obtained two of these captives [Bugau Dyaks from Dutch 
territory], named Bungun and Luyau. When brought to the fort they wept, and one declared he 
would poison himself if he was not permiUed to return ; but I understood that they had been 
primed with what to say. and had been led to believe that they would sufier death in my hands. 

Character Notes and Sketches. 75 

" A Banting Dyak chief had once been misconducting himself in various 
ways, and in consequence, received a cold shoulder from most of his tribe, 
and lost his household; he then, making a virtue of a necessity, became a 
Mahommedan. A few days after his conversion took place, some of the 
Malays and Dyaks were sitting with me, and one Pangeron extolled loudly the 
act of Malong, and said, * God Almighty has opened his heart to the truth, 
and received him into His safe keeping,* at which a Dyak chief exclaimed, 
* We do not mind so much Malong having entered the Islamite religion, but 
we find fault with his having no heart at all, and leaving all his old friends, 
relations, wife and family, without a regret ; but as he has now separated 
from us, we wish him well.' .... They are a strange and stubborn 
lot, and the only way to deal with them is to leave them very nearly to their 
own devices : after they have accused everyone of stupidity and want of fore- 
thought, except the right party (themselves), they find themselves much 
behindhand, and have extra hard work .... The Bantings, however, 
have their redeeming qualities ; they are braver than most of the other tribes, 
and are truehearted, but quarrelsome and troublesome in all expeditions. 
I believe it principally arises from their looking on themselves as the right 
hand men in war proceedings ; and as they have always been on friendly 
terms with the white men, they have escaped being attacked and burnt out." 
(Brooke ii. 235.) I think it is of a Banting chief that the Bishop Chambers 
says: ** One of the reasons for his continuance in the old state was that he was 
ashamed to appear in church with the many and with women. This false 
feeling of shame is common and very strong in Dyaks, and excessively 
difficult to overcome. . . . On making known the purpose of my visit in 
one of these houses, many of them began to laugh at the idea of * sambayang,' 
or worship, and evidently looked upon it as a sort of joke, a sight to be seen, 
similar to the performances of the * manangs,' or doctors. Was I going to 
teach them to * mangop,' recite rhymes, like the * manangs ?' Was it to be 
accompanied with gesticulations as in mananging ? Was it like the worship 

One little fellow, on being left, jumped from the top of the wall into the moat, which was full of 
spikes, but fortunately he received no injury, and was brought back. I had engaged to detain them 
for one month, at the end of which they should return to their Dyak masters if they chose. The 
boys soon dried their tears and took up their quarters with me ; I gave them thirty slips of paper 
to count the days by throwing one away every morning ; they behaved very well and examined all 
my belongings with considerable interest, saying they had never seen or heard of any such things 
before. The casting away of the paper lasted five consecutive mornings, when they forgot all about 
the time, and were happy, calling me i^^ai— Father. Their great amusement was looking at pictures; 
and a volume of "Punch" afforded them endless conversation. I grew to be very fond of one. 
Bungun, who was a particularly nice, thoughtful lad; the other was a pickle. After the first 
fortnight they would not hear of returning to the people who, they said, had killed so many of 
their relations. After living three months with me, happy and contented, Bungun's father came to 
fetch him. I was loth to lose the boy. who had become quite a companion: he told me when 
leaving, "we shall not forget yon, but soon come again." Ten years after, in 1863, the same two 
paid me a visit, and on their entrance into my sitting-room embraced me with every sign of affection. 
They had grown into fine men, but were otherwise very little altered, and I immediately recognised 
them, as they did all the old furniture in my room, pointing directly to the picture of the Kajah. to 
the rugs they had used as beds, and to two heads cast in plaster. They spent three days with me 
on that occasion. I felt I pQssessed an influence around any place where those two lads lived, for 
Dyak» are not ungrateful, although generally undemonstrative. (Brooke i. 119.) 

76 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

of the Mohammedans ? Could women join ? Was it forbidden to laugh ? 
They were afraid they should not be able to govern themselves, for they were 
quite ignorant of everything connected with the subject, but were willing to 
learn if they could. All these questions of the junior members of the house 
had to be replied to, and that without shadow of rebuke for what we should 
deem irreverence. When all the men returned from their farms, and they 
had heard more of the nature of religion to whom it was directed, and for 
what purpose, a more serious feeling arose within them, if I judged them 
rightly. . . . They were, several of them, very diligent in learning, but 
slow to remember, from the fact, as they said, that their thoughts were quite 
unfamiliar with the subjects. The first elements of everything have to be 
taught them, and everything is at first viewed in a material light, for naturally 
they have no conception of any good except that which is tangible. One man 
asked me if he might pray to God to give him a good harvest of * padi,' i.e. 
rice, and if sick might he pray for health ; and if he was overtaken by a storm 
on the river, and was sinking, might he pray for deliverance ; an affirmative 
answer seemed to assure him there was a definite object in the matter, which 
apparently satisfied him that it was worth considering.'* (Miss. Field, 1870, 
p. 106.) 

Writing about the Undups Mr. Crossland says ; 

** It is rather a good thing that the harvest is not good here, as it tames 
the savage and sends him into the jungle to look for canes, gutta-percha, 
beeswax, pigs, etc. As you may imagine, they are a peculiar people to deal 
with ; the longer you live among them and see them without their company 
manners, you can but wonder that so savage a people remain so quiet." 
(Miss. Life, 1874, P- 94-) ** From what I see, I think it will be years before 
I shall be able to make a single Christian. The people are like babes, they 
have no religion of their own, no gods to worship. They pay attention to the 
cries of birds of good or ill omen, observe strictly the traditions of their 
forefathers, and have a very strict code of moral laws, which they administer 
with as fair justice as any one could get in England. They have only one 
wife, and are exceedingly attached to their children ; many possess consider- 
able skill in carving wood, making native weapons of all sorts, building houses 
and boats, and farming. As a rule they are temperate. One great drawback 
in their customs, is that a man will not be taught by a woman, nor a woman 
by a man. Putting aside religion, they are a people capable of great improve- 
ment. They are sensible of kindness, and requite you after their fashion. 
Very seldom does anyone come to ask for medicine without a gift in hand, a 
little rice, or a new laid egg, or a fowl.'' {ibid 1874, 538«) 

From Li pat on the Sakarang river, Sir Chas. Brooke writes, ** there were a 
few friendly Dyak houses, one of which belonged to an old man named Linghi, 
the oldest friend of the white man there is on the river. He had already met 
and embraced us with as much polish of manner and polite bearing as you 
would see exhibited by a Frenchman or Italian. It is a common way of 
salutation among the Dyaks. Old Linghi was a little wizened, smallpox- 
marked fellow, long past middle age, an inveterate talker, and as merry as 
possible on every occasion — asking a string of questions without much 

Character Notes and Sketches. 77 

meaning attached to any one of them. He was followed by two fine looking 
sons, who were of the same cheerful appearance as himself, though much his 
superior in every way. We were to start the next nKjrning and in the evening 
amused ourselves by visiting Dyak houses. We were all particularly struck 
by their kindly bearing — loading us with presents, and very desirous of making 
themselves agreeable." (i. no.) Of his men at Fort Sakarang the Rajah 
says, "there is no doubt the Dyaks would become unequalled soldiers for 
their climes — quick of comprehension as they are, in muscle wiry to a degree, 
and capable of endurance under any difficulties. They would, when properly 
drilled and disciplined, make a most valuable military force. But there are 
difficulties, and the greatest is that they are by nature exceedingly stubborn, 
perverse, and sulky. Such qualities demand extra care and kindness, though 
the temper would be of extra value when moulded into shape, with its rough 
edges filed down." {ibid i. 367.) 

When Sir Charles Brooke was first appointed to Fort Sakarang he 
wished to send certain instructions to the chiefs, and this is how a Dyak 
named Sadom learned his instructions: ** One Dyak, who was a proved 
friend, came to me to receive instructions, and I fully expected it would have 
taken three or four days before he could learn all the particulars by heart, as 
they have no means of distinguishing marks or letters. I commenced the 
lesson, with my imperfect knowledge of the Dyak language, and was surprised 
how wonderfully acute his mind was, and how strong his memory. He 
brought a few dry leaves, which he tore into pieces ; these I exchanged for 
paper, which served better. He arranged each piece separately on a table, 
and used his fingers in counting as well, until he reached ten, when he lifted 
his foot on the table, and took each toe to accord with each bit of paper 
answering to the name of a village, name of chief, number of followers, and 
amount of fine ; after having finished with his toes he returned to his fingers 
again, and when my list was completed, I counted forty-five bits of paper 
arranged on the table ; he then asked me to repeat them once more, which I 
did, when he went over the pieces, his fingers, and toes as before. * Now,' he 
said, * this is our kind of letter ; you white men read differently to us.' Late 
in the evening he repeated them all correctly, placing his finger on each 
paper, and then said, * Now, if I recollect them to-morrow morning it will be 
all right, so leave these papers on the table ' ; after which he mixed them all 
in a heap. The first thing in the morning he and I were at the table, and he 
proceeded to arrange the papers as on the evening before, and repeated the 
particulars with complete accuracy ; and for nearly a month after, in going 
round the villages, far in the interior, he never forgot the different amounts, 
&c." (Brooke i. 139.) 

The Venerable Archdeacon Perham met with the same method, but in 
his case the Dyak lacked memory, although the man seems to have had at 
any rate perseverance : ** He is slow in remembering, but wonderfully patient 
and persevering. He tried to help his memory by what is called Klakar. A 
great quantity of small bits of wood or other material are spread upon a mat 
in rows, each row standing for a line, and each bit a word. It is not a very 
ingenious contiivance, and after a while I was fairly worn out, and obliged to 


H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak aiid Brit. N, Borneo. \ 

retire for a nap, leaving him still going on with his * Klakar ' and repetitions." 
(Gospel Miss. Sept. 1872, p. 134.) 

On a Kayan expedition : ** The first man to speak after I had finished was 
Balang of Katibus, who was an ugly little broad man, with the jowl of a 
hog. He had sparkling eyes, and was dressed in all the colours of the 
rainbow. The Kayans had burnt his house, and taken all his property. He 
spoke exceedingly well, and I wished from my heart my speech could have 
been so telling. He said — * I have no wish to return if the force is not 
successful, and am prepared to stake everything on this attack. The enemy 
has deprived me of all my property already, and man}' of my relations and 
people have been killed ; they may now cook my head, if I can't get theirs.' 
He added, ' The chiefs, as the Tuan says, should be responsible for their 
people ; and I recommend others to follow my example, and beat their 
followers if they refuse to obey orders.' " (Brooke ii. 255.) 

*^ Like other tribes in the same state of civilization, the Sea Dyaks are 
fond of oratory ; and while the elders are discoursing or delivering long 
speeches, the young lads lo6k gravely on, never indulging in a laugh, which 
would be regarded as a serious offence." (St. John i. 49.) 

** The Sakarang Dyaks have a great admiration for a man who talks 
fluently and well ; and it is common with them to comment critically on these 
points. For instance, they would say, * He can't talk — he knows nothing ! ' 
* He is clever in speech : we are fond of hearing him.' Some of their best 
orators are copious in drawing comparisons, and making compliments as 
flowery as some of the speeches in the * Arabian Nights.' Thus — * The 
heart is as large as the highest mountain, and as brave as the beasts that live 
thereon ; your eyes only to be compared to the sparkling rays of the sun ; 
your thoughts equal to the purity of the stream passing over gravelly beds; 
and your wisdom is like the fertility of the richest soil.* However, these 
preludes to speech are being rapidly curtailed ; and in court, if an old chief 
begins with the flowery oratory on which he prides himself so much, people 
(particularly myself) ask him to be kind enough to favour his audience with 
the fruit without the flowers, or the contents without the shells, or words 
from the heart in preference to those from the mouth only ; even then, it is 
sufficiently difficult to understand and follow the thread of many old cases 
whose history runs through all sorts of tortuous branches on every side for 
generations. (Brooke, i. 368.) My first Dyak case in the Sakarang country 
was brought by a band, who complained of having had the whole of their 
goods seized from their rooms while they were absent at their farms; and on 
making inquiry, I found this abstraction had taken place because a pig had 
been stolen by the complainants' father forty years before. The palaver 
among themselves took place in a Chinese house, and the arguments for and 
against lasted five days, the discussion being frequently carried on till 
day-break. The case, still not being settled, was brought to me for final 
arrangement." {ibid i. 137.) 

Another dispute is related by Sir Chas. Brooke as follows : 

** An attack, only a few miles above the Sakarang fort, took place between 
one village and another, in which one Dyak was shot. It happened thus : 

Character Notes and Sketches. 79 

the upper party had planted Sirih creepers around their house, and had 
placed sharp bamboos near them for the purpose of wounding the feet of any 
enemies or thieves. A few men living lower down, while passing, plucked 
some of the leaves, at the same time spiking themselves very severely. In 
consequence of the pain, they drew their swords, hacked the wood of the 
house, and injured the plants. The day after, the higher party came down 
and retaliated, by hacking at the lower party's boats at the landing-place. 
The morning after, Si Jannah, the chief of those down the river, collected 
his followers, armed, and made a deliberate attack on the upper party's 
house, notwithstanding that they were near relations; he shot the chief 
himself, and besides this death many of both parties were wounded, (i. 145.) 
Another party of Dyaks said they had quarrelled about farming land with 
some Sakarang Dyaks^ who wished to kill them. I informed this paity 
that whoever was guilty of killing would be fined twelve jars (about ;^I40). 
Another suitor advanced a complaint against a certain man at Lingga, whom 
he suspected of having stolen his property about four years ago, when his 
slave was killed and his house burnt. In examining this fellow, he said 
he thought it was this man, because he had been told so by a Hadji, who had 
some mysterious way of finding out thieves. This case was dismissed by my 
telling the man that thoughts were of little use without witnesses, and if he 
found the latter I should be glad to assist him. Another man's adopted 
mother died ten years ago, and he wished the property to be fairly divided, as 
the deceased's husband kept it all to himself, whereupon a squabble of words 
ensued. The case was to be settled the first opportunity by a commission of 
native chiefs, who would decide according to established custom. A case of 
debt which arose twenty-five years ago, was summarily dismissed." {ibid, 

• • • • • ^ 

u., ni.) 

When mounting the head-waters of the Batang Lupar, His Highness' 
party arrived at a Dyak house below Buhi. ** We took up our quarters 
ashore, and when dinner was over some of them began with endless old cases, 
all of which I had heard often before. I nearly despaired of bringing about 
a settlement. Most of them refer to people having been killed between one 
river and another." {ibid, ii. 166.) Again on his return from Europe the 
Rajah's Sakarang friends ** enumerated their various tales of the weal or woe 
that had occurred during my absence. One old man, with a few patriarchal 
stray hairs on his chin, complained that his daughter had run off with a 
slave, and the latter was about to be fined. After the last case, which had 
taken place in the time of an old man's grandfather, I fairly got tired, and 
sat quiet, telling them my mouth was quiet, but ears wide open. Shortly 
after sounds died away, and I slept ; but on awakening at daylight, the 
same party were sitting in the same positions, still talking." {ibid. ii. 221.) 
** My principal Orang Kaya had lost his wife, and was now in great distress ; 
lounging about, badly clothed, without head-dress or jacket, he looked the 
picture of misery. He sadly wanted a head and proposed a shamefully 
treacherous scheme Jor getting one from the up-river Dyaks, which I let 
him understand very freely would not do on any account, and told him, as a 
chief and an old man, he should set a better example. He was labouring 

8o H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N, Borneo. 

under this- monomania for weeks, but I did not give him entirely the cold 
shoulder, as I found a little gentle sympathy and coaxing was the best means 
of keeping him quiet. After two months he gave up the thought as a bad job, 
and then took unto himself a young wife of low rank, and in so doing gave 
great offence to all his old family, who would not receive the new acquisition 
in the same house. Besides this, he had married before feasting the spirits 
raised by his late wife's death ; and the other chiefs held a council for the 
purpose of fining him. He told them, * You may do what you will ; if I have 
behaved wrong, I am ready to pay a fine according to custom ; but I am now 
the same as a Malay, for I wear breeches.' By a parity of reasoning, a 
Lingga Dyak Christian once told me his wife was all prepared to become a 
convert to Christianity, because Mrs. had given her a gown." (ibid. i. 201.) 

When leaving Sakarang Sir Charles winds up : *' The magnet which 
draws one home, after all, is one's fond relations. I had often been 
questioned about them by Dyaks ; and on one occasion, when repeating 
my mother's name, an old Dyak observed, * Then do you still bear her in 
remembrance ? ' At another time when making some observation to a sister 
who visited me in my Dyak home, a Dyak inquired * Whether I understood 
her language ? ' " {ibid. ii. 209.) 

** Among the Sakarangs many were fine-looking men of independent 
bearing and intelligent features (St. John i. 25). The Sakarang girls are 
generally thought to be lively in conversation and quick in repartee." 

(ibid. i. 29.) These Sea Dayaks are a very improvable people 

A Sakarang chief noticed a path that was cut and properly ditched near 
the fort, and found that in all weathers it was dry, so he instantly made a 
similar path from the landing place on the river to his house, and I was 
surprised on entering it to see coloured representations of horses, knights 
in full armour, and ships drawn vigorously, but very inartistically, on the 
plank walls. I found, on enquiry, he had been given some copies of the 
Illustrated London News, and had endeavoured to imitate the engravings. 
He used charcoal, lime, red ochre, and yellow earth as his materials." 
(ibid. i. 29.) 

The following amusing incidents are related by the Rev. Mr. Crossland : 

** I had given all my buttons away save five couples, which I put away for 
some friends living up the country, when a Sakarang girl came and asked for 
a pair. I said, * I have no more to spare.' * Yes, you have, only you won't 
give to me ; you have given to all the women in our house except me, and 
when we have a feast I only shall not be able to say, * Tuan ' gave me my 
earrings." ' * Well,' I said, ' I have no more to give.' * Bula,' she rephed, 
which means in plain English * false,' or a * lie.' * You have, and I shall sit 
here till you give me some.' * Sit on,' was my answer, *and when you are 
hungry I'll give you some rice to eat.' * I am ashamed to go home without a 
pair,' she said. * I can't help it,' I answered ; *be a good girl, and when I get 
some more things from Europe I'll not forget you.' The needles and thread 
were soon begged. 

" One night after my lads had finished writing they sat on waiting for 
something. I asked why they did not go home. * We are not coming to 

Character Notes and Sketches. 8i 

write any more.' * Why ? ' * You give everything to the girls and nothing to 
us — we wear jackets, and should like some buttons ; but those girls get all. 
Never mind, when you want any one to paddle to Si Munggang, you may ask 
the girls. When you want the grass cutting, ask the girls ; they can paddle, 
they can make roads, they can cut babbas. The girls are clever, they can do 
everything.' I sat a long time laughing and let them go on talking, and then I 
asked quietly, * Do the girls come up here to eat ? Do the girls get kerchiefs 
for their heads? You young monkeys, if you don't stop your nonsense, Til 
get my scourge and flog you.' Off they scampered, but soon came back." 
(Miss. Life 1864, pp. 651-652.) Mr. Crossland also records the following : 
** The scene presented by two boys who had had the small-pox and not 
seen each other for a month, when they met in my house, was most amusing. 
One cf them had been in the house some time, and on seeing the other 
coming up, I saw him covering his face. The new comer was equally shy. 
At last they seemed to summon up courage, and after many side looks they 
faced round, and burst out laughing. ' Oh,' said the elder, * we are aHke 
marked.' *Yes,' replied the younger, 'it cannot be helped.'" (Gosp. Miss. 
Nov. 1871, p. 163.) 

While waiting on one of the expeditions against the chief Rentap, a fine 
handsome young Dyak (? Saribus) approached the Rajah, ** clad in his chawat 
and a long flowing garment, with ornamented head-dress, and his long sword 
dangling by his side. This I knew immediately to be Loyioh, our enemy of 
yesterday, and friend of to-day. He looked anything but hke a conquered 
man ; nevertheless his manner was respectful and upright. He carried 
himself as a warrior chief of the feudal period, standing as straight as a lath, 
and spoke as if he were receiving a friend or visitor at the threshold of his 
father's domains. We talked for some short time, and I thanked heaven I 
was able to confront him with as active and unfatigued an exterior as himself, 
although I must confess not so picturesque a one. We then shook hands in 
brotherly affection, and he glided away, promising to come and assist in 
getting the gun up. He embraced three or four Malays on the path, in 
recollection of boyish days spent together in hunting, deer-snaring, and 
farming. Loyioh is not, however, a brave man, although a showy one. His 
* cart-horse ' brother, Nanang, possesses a braver and truer disposition, 
which has been corrupted by others. But now we trust to him alone to bring 
about a friendship between us and them." (Brooke ii. 145.) 

The manners of the men (Sibuyaus) ** are somewhat reserved, but frank ; 
whilst the women appeared more cheerful, and more inclined to laugh 
and joke at our peculiarities. Although the first Europeans they had 
ever seen, we were by no means annoyed by their curiosity ; and their honesty 
is to be praised ; for, though opportunities were not wanting, they never on 
any occasion attempted to pilfer any thing." (Sir Jas. Brooke : Keppel i. 57.) 

On a hunting excursion not far from the Lingga Sir Chas. Brooke ** was 
surprised to find what little notice the inmates took of our colour and 
appearance. It was the first time they had ever seen a white man, yet they 
were not shy nor obtrusive, behaving with an easy manner of politeness, 
offering us food and the few refreshments they possessed." (i. 95.) 

82 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

Mrs. Chambers writes: ** Most of them had never seen an European 
woman, and you will readily imagine I was an object of great curiosity to 
them ; my dress, manner of wearing my hair, etc., were all commented on, yet 
without the least rudeness.'* (Gosp. Miss., ist April, 1858, p. 52.) 

Captain Mundy says : ** The young women who were diligently employed 
in pounding rice in mortars of large dimensions, appeared highly good- 
humoured, and of pleasant countenances." (ii. 115.) 

The Rev. W. Gomez was sent to endeavour to convert the Sibuyaus. 
" At first, he did not press religious instruction upon them, but opened 
a school. I mention this circumstance on account of the very remarkable 
tact he must have exercised to induce the children to attend as they did. 
His system of punishment was admirable, but difficult to be followed 
with English boys. He merely refused to hear the offending child's 
lesson, and told him to go home. A friend, who often watched the 
progress of the school, has told me that instead of going home the little 
fellows would sob and cry and remain in a quiet part of the school till they 
thought Mr. Gomez had relented. They would rarely return to their parents, 
if it could be avoided, before their lessons were said.*' (St. John i. 11.) 

** The lads, too, have a spirit more akin to English youths than I have 
yet seen among the other tribes. I well remember the delight with which 
they learnt the games we taught them — ^joining in prisoner's base with 
readiness, hauling at the rope, and shouting with laughter at French and 
English, represented by the names of two Dyak tribes. There is good 
material to work on here, and it could not be in better hands than those of 
their present missionary, Mr. Chambers. That his teaching has made any 
marked difference in their conduct I do not suppose, but he has influenced 
them, and his influence is yearly increasing. It is pleasing to record a little 
success here, at the Quop, and at Lunda, or we should have to pronounce 
the Borneo mission a complete failure." (St. John i. 21.) 

** In disposition, the [Balau] Dyaks are mild and gentle; they are quiet and 
docile when well treated, but proud and apt to take offence if they think them- 
selves slighted. They are industrious, frugal, and accumulative, and, were they 
not so poor, might even be reckoned stingy ; but as each knows that, if from 
the failure of his crop, or from any other unavoidable cause, he should fall into 
debt, it will accumulate so rapidly, from the high rate of interest, that he will 
probably never get free from it, the carefulness and frugality which they 
display cannot be regarded as otherwise" than legitimate. At the same time, 
they are hospitable to the extent of their means, and consider themselves 
bound to place before a visitor the best they can afford. They have a strong 
perception of the distinction between meum and tuum, and scarcely ever violate 
it either among themselves or towards Europeans. They never attempt such 
thefts and robberies as the South Sea islanders were in the habit of committing 
upon the early navigators ; for their great self-esteem, their high sense of 
personal and family dignity, and the intense keenness with which they feel 
anything like degradation, would alone prevent their doing anything to which 
infamy was attached. As they are thus honest, so are they to a great extent 
truthful, though to this general character there are, of course, exceptions. 

Character Notes and Sketches. 83 

When young, the Dyaks are acute and apt to learn, but as they grow older 
their intellect seems to become deadened and incapable of rising beyond 
familiar subjects.' (Horsburgh, p. 11.) "They present so many good features 
of character that their improvement might be rapidly calculated upon.** (Sir 
Jas.. Brooke, Mundy i. 238.) 

On returning to Lingga, ** we raced with a boat pulled by lusty Dyak 
females, who had been gathering oysters from the rocks at the mouth ; they 
fairly beat us in speed, and it was amusing to watch their gravity of 
countenance while using the paddle and sitting upright as statues, 

' She with her paddling oar and dancing prow, 
Shot through the surf like a reindeer through the snow.' 

After we reached the landing place, I presented them with some tobacco, then 
they broke out into laughter, quizzing my crew for allowing themselves to be 
beaten by women These wenches were better looking than most of the 
herd.*' (Brooke i. loi.) 

His Highness was once asked, ** Tuan, what makes the noses of the white 
men so large and straight ? Do your nurses pull them out every morning when 
you are young ? or is it natural ?*' Being somewhat nonplussed for a reply, I 
answered, *'Sigi Berkenia'* (naturally so, or only so); and he added, "Ours are 
always so soft and small, and do what I will to mine I can't make it improve.'* 
{ibid i. 203.) ** A party of Dyak ladies visited us some days ago, and after sitting 
a while, the young married one of the party, named Dundun, said she had 
climbed the hill purposely to ask if we were clever at touching, or bergamah, as 
her aunt was sick and had been afflicted for years ; all their doctors had failed 
to cure her. This girl was tossing and fondling an infant quite in civilised 
fashion. Another girl of darker hue and jet black eyes, with rather a wicked 
expression, informed us she was glad to make our acquaintance, as now she 
would ask for tobacco and beads whenever she felt inclined. They don't 
consider such remarks as begging." {ibid i. 206.) 

When Sir Chas. was once supposed to be in danger these Dyaks came up 
in force to aid him, and he says : " Their hearts were as true as steel." 
{ibid ii. 15.) Being once startled by a land guano {sic) jumping up at 
his feet he tells us : " The youth who followed me, though generally a 
plucky fellow, ran ofif, and said afterwards, * There was such a tingling in my 
feet, that I could not keep them from running away.' " {ibid ii. 74.) . . . 
A Dyak, or even Malay, often tells anyone who tries abruptly to thwart their 
habits, ** You do not know us ; we are different to you ; what is good for us is 
bad to others." {ibid ii. 75.) 

" I must name an amusing occurrence which took place in the Rejang 
river, and is an instance of the dry humour to be found among the Dyaks. A 
short while ago, a celebrated Menang, or soothsayer, assembled a large 
concourse of the chiefs of the tribes, at his house, for the purpose of renewing 
the names of all his children, who, he declared in the presence of these elders, 
were not properly his own, but were begotten by certain spirits. He begged 
the assembled chiefs to appeal to his wife to confirm his statement. For 
this reason he desired to call his children by the names of each of these 

84 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

Antus, according to the regular order. One of the chiefs of the assembly, who 
possessed much subdued humour, and did not quite see the fun of having 
come so many miles at this old Menang's bidding, merely to listen to a foolish 
false story about his family and the Antus, pretended, in the midst of the 
discourse, to faint away, and fell back gasping for breath, kicking his legs 
spasmodically in the air at the same time. The surrounding party were aghast 
at this untoward event, and immediately dispersed, leaving the Menang to 
convey the fainting individual to his boat, and, according to custom, he had to 
pay six fowls as a punishment for permitting the Antus to cause a man to 
faint under his roof. The chief who performed this act, for the sake of getting 
home quickly, with some fbwls into the bargain, is named Onggat, and has 
often been quizzed about it ; but he was a brave man, and he must have been 
a bold innovator to treat a solemn Dyak ceremony with contempt." {ibid ii. 

During the Kayan expedition of 1863, Sir Chas. Brooke writes of one of 
his Sea Dyaks: ** One man in our crew was a character. He could mimic, 
or talk and sing for any length of time, and must have been gifted with a 
wonderfully retentive memory, for he recounted adventure gifter adventure of 
the many expeditions, bringing in the different names of persons and places, 
and what the former said and did. He managed to introduce the names in 
rhyme in a most absurd manner. This amusement he kept up for five hours, 
keeping the boat's crew awake, and pulling hard himself all the time." 
(ibid ii. 241.) 

Mr. De Windt gives a specimen of Kanowit wit in the following : — 
*' The shouts of laughter proceeding from their corner of the house announced 
that business was over, and that chaff and fun, so dear to the heart of every 
Kanowit, was being carried on with great gusto. As we arrived and stood by 
the group, one of their number (evidently a privileged buffoon) begged to be 
allowed to speak to the Resident. * You remember that gun, Resident,' said 
he, * you gave me ?' (This was an old muzzle-loader for which Mr. H. had 
had no further use.) * Oh, yes,' was the reply, * what luck have you had with 
it ?' * Oh, wonderful,' said the Kanowit, * I killed fourteen deer with one 
bullet out of that gun ! ' * What !' rejoined Mr. H., * fourteen deer with one 
bullet ! — but that is impossible ! ' * Oh, no,' replied our friend, * for I cut 
the bullet out each time ! ' Roars of laughter greeted this sally." (p. 74.) 
His second story is in any case ben trovato: **An amusing anecdote is told 
of an old Dyak living in the house we were moored off that dismal night. 
This old man (of some 60 years) became enamoured, while on a visit to 
Kuching, of an English lady's-maid residing there ; so much so, that he 
repeatedly urged her to marry and accompany him to his jungle home. This 
offer was declined with thanks ; but on the morning of the day of the 
departure of this merry old gentleman for his country residence, the lady 
missed her chignon, which she had placed on her dressing-table the night 
before on retiring to rest. Not being possessed of so much hair as she might 
have been, this was no inconsiderable loss. Six months later, when the event 
was nearly forgotten, an officer up the Simunjan, noticing what looked like a 
scalp on our old friend's girdle, and knowing that the Dyaks never take them. 

Character Notes and Sketches. 85 

examined the object more closely ; and having heard the story of its 
abstraction from the lady's apartment by the elderly lover, took it from him 
and returned with it in triumph to Kuching! Such true love was worthy of 
a better cause, for the lady was considerably more annoyed than flattered by 
the incident, chignons not being an article kept in stock by the native coiffeurs 
of Kuching." (p. iii.) 

On the Upper Batang Lupar once when Sir Chas. was very tired he induced 
one of his followers to carry the Dyaks off to a little distance, where the 
follower, assisted by one or two others, "continued to amuse them till past 
midnight. He discoursed on steam vessels, and carriages, underground tunnels, 
big guns, electric telegraphs, and sundry other latter-day discoveries, which 
brought forth roars of laughter, as he interspersed his small amount of truth 
with the most far-fetched and imaginative episodes, to make it suitable to the 
capacities of the Dyaks, who love the mysterious charms of spirits, and would 
be grieved to think that all below the sun acted steadily and regularly 
according to fixed laws. They swallow miraculous eyents with the utmost 
avidity." (ii. 175.) 

The Dyaks are a sociable and amiable community, with strong mutual 
attachments, (ibid i. 57.) ** No greater proof of their peaceful domestic and 
social habits could be desired than the fact that from five to fiftv families, 
according to the size of the long-house, can live under one roof without coming 
to blows. . . . Among the Dyaks I never saw or heard anything like high 
words, much less a regular quarrel, between either children or adults. The 
people with whom I lived at Padang Lake and on the Sibuyau were always 
light-hearted, and generally even merry. It was truly refreshing to see people 
so universally happy and contented." (Hornaday, 466.) ** If any are sick or 
unable to work, the rest help ; and there seems to me a much stronger bond 
of union amongst them than I have ever seen among the labouring classes 
in England." (Crossland, Miss. Life, 1867, p. 162.) 

" Quarrels are very rare among the Dayaks, and this is remarkable as so 
many live under one roof. Women do sometimes disagree, and then abuse 
one another in the choicest Billingsgate. At last one will completely lose 
control of herself, and she will rush out on to her own open air platform, upon 
which the rice, &c., is dried, and catching up the loose flooring of bamboos 
or other light wood, she will throw it all down to the ground beneath (eight 
to twelve feet below). She is then satisfied, and will retire to her room 
where, after much complaint and many tears, she will at last quiet down. 
After the heat of her anger has passed away she has to go out, pick up all the 
flooring again, and put it back in its place." (F. W. Leggatt.) 

** I believe there are many good and even fascinating qualities in Dyak 
women. They are not at all wanting in sharpness of intellect, good common 
sense, firmness of purpose, and constancy when they have once settled 

" In many cases they are more adept politicians than their husbands, and 
their advice is often followed in serious business. Likewise their assistance 
and good opinion go a long way to establish a successful result in any 
negotiation. Their general conversation is not wanting in wit, and con- 

86 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

siderable acuteness of perception is evinced, but often accompanied by 
improper and indecent language, of which they are unaware when giving 
utterance to it. Their acts, however, fortunately evince more regard for 
modesty than their words."^ (Brooke, i. 70.) 

** Strangers are generally very welcome ; and it would be an annoying 
idea to enter into their heads that they were considered either mean or 
inhospitable. So the wayfarer is presented on his arrival with the best food 
in the house. Occasionally it is not very welcome to a European, as it too 
often consists of fish that emits a very high scent, or eggs of a very 
ancient date ; but there is generally some fruit, or a little clean boiled rice. 
I was once presented with some preserved durian fruit, which stank so 
fearfully as to drive my friends completely out of the house. But the 
greatest luxury that can be presented to a native is always forthcoming, 
and that is the box of areca nuts, and the other chewing condiments." 
(St. John i. 49.) 

** One night (writes Mr. Crossland) I was away from my house, and it 
was robbed of money and other things. The man who was suspected came 
the next day to the Dyak long house. All the men sat quietly near, 
pretending to be chatting. One man praised his short sword, and asked to 
look at it, and then passed it on to other men, so that the poor fellow was at 
their mercy. They sent for me to go up, and asked quietly if they should 
fine him. I whispered, * No, I have no proof against him.' If I had said 

* yes,' they would have tied him up, and I should have had work to keep their 
weapons from him. The man left this part of the country in two days, and 
went to his own tribe. The news followed him from house to house, the 
people always giving him notice to quit, as they fear bad luck will follow them 
if they harbour a thief. Two days ago he came by night to a neighbouring 
house, but ran away again, having had bad dreams. Now, poor fellow, he 
lives in a hut on his farm, with his wife, no one caring to have anything to do 
with him." (Miss. Life, 1864, 654.) 

"Two cases, I am acquainted with, where thefts had been committed. 
Curses were pronounced, and in one case with the result of bringing baCk the 
stolen property, and discovery of the thief; in the other with the result of 
discovering the thief, though the property was not demanded back. The 
Dayaks are very much in fear of curses. A Dayak curse is a solemn 
invocation of death and calamity upon the head of the offending party. 

* Matt salai mati ringkai,* * May you die and be smoked, may you die and be 
hung in the wicker basket'; i.e. May your enemy take your head and dry it 
over the smoke, and enclose it in a wicker basket as a trophy. There are a 
number of similar curses. There is a well authenticated case of a missionary 
many years ago being surprised after entering the river for his bath by a 
couple of Dayaks out on the war path. They were hidden by the bushes, 
awaiting his return to the bank, when he caught sight of them ; in self- 
protection he cursed them as above, and they were so stricken with fear that 
they turned and fled. (Rev. F. W. Leggatt.) 

Character Notes and Sketches. 87 


"The Kayans are, in some ways, an enquiring and exact people, and 
evidently prefer peace and comfort to warfare and strife. In this respect 
they differ from the Dyaks, nor are they as industrious or clever as the 
Dyaks." (S. G. No. 245, p. 90.) Comparing the Kayans with the Dyaks the 
Rajah finds the latter, however, *' without doubt are the finer looking people 
and superior in most respects, being braver, more truthful, less treacherous, 
and more warlike." (Brooke ii. 225.) Of two captive Kayan boys who joined 
him one "was a little fellow of nine years old, and the son of a chief; the 
other, a cousin, but a coarse-looking chap. We all became attached to the 
former, who was as proud as Lucifer, and on someone wishing to cut off his 
wild flowing mane, he raved all day. He methodically kept to his custom 
of unkempt hair, and the middle ribbon in the place of trousers.- When in the 
gunboat, a man questioned him about a sister, who had also been taken 
captive. After hearing her name, he wept the whole day, refusing to receive 
any consolation. It indicated much tender feeling in the lad, and one cannot 
but be struck at the little fellow's thoughtful appearance, and upright and 
X independent bearing." (ii. 305.) Sir James says of them : " Their manners 
are quiet, staid, and not in the slightest degree importunate or intrusive, and 
their character certainly more energetic than any other class of the aborigines." 
(Mundy i. 262.) Of some Kayans on the Baram river Sir Spencer St. John 
relates : " I may mention that these men have become so very conceited that 
they consider themselves superior to all except ourselves ; and, in their pride, 
they have actually commenced killing the swallow, that constitutes their 
wealth, saying it becomes a great chief to feed on the most valuable things 
he possesses, regardless of the ultimate consequences." (i. 118.) 

"The Kyans are said to be in the highest degree hospitable, and confiding 
in the honour of strangers who may have intercourse with them : they are 
like the Hill Dyaks, of the most scrupulous integrity, so that the Malayan 
trader never fears to leave his cargo in their hands, being sure that the full 
amount for which he has sold it will be forthcoming at the time stipulated. . . 

" On reaching the Kyan village from the sea, the Malay trader first makes 
known his arrival to the chief, who appoints him a house to reside in. 
During his stay he is at liberty to help himself to anything he may see which 
is outside the doors of the houses : such as fowls, fruit, &c. ; but to take 
anything from the inside would be considered a robbery. The Kyan expects, 
on going to other villages, the same privileges; so that when they visit 
Serekei, which they never do in small numbers, but only in large fleets, 
attending their Rajahs, the inhabitants are glad to see them gone again, as 
their helping themselves is troublesome. They go to the trading-boats in the 
river, and take cocoa-nuts, and other things ; but only such as they require 
for immediate use. On a recent occasion, being invited by the Patingi of 
Serekei to assist him, they had nearly come to blows about this custom with 
the traders at that time in the town, as they insisted upon being done to as 
they did to the Serekei traders who came to them, and they were too resolute 
and numerous to be refused." (Low, p. 336.) 

88 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo. 

In August, 1875, H.H. the Rajah was at Balleh, and there flocked to 
him all the Dyaks and Kayans who had grievances. The account is so 
characteristic of the life of the people that its reproduction will not be out of 
place here. 

Notes of the Daily Proceedings of H.H. The Rajah 

WHILE at Balleh. 

Kanowit. — Niuan asks permission to farm in Lasih in Kanowit with 
Andam, but he does not wish to give up his old place Peninlau. Sampurai 
recommends his going there. Niuan has permission to go there; he is tax- 
collector as far as Lasih. Usit asks permission to move up to Niuan. He 
is told that if he goes he must be responsible in having mixed up with the Ulu 
Ayers, who are unsettled. 

July 4th. — The fine paid by the Po€ Dyaks amounting to about 30 pikuls 
taken to Balleh fort. This is paid by the Po6s of their own free will. The 
Government do not engage any settlement of this case, nor has it demanded 
the fine, but hope to settle the case amicably with the Kayans. 

Balleh, July 5th. — Met Uniat, the chief of the Kayans, who lost his two 
children killed by Po6s — in all fourteen children and women — besides this, 
the offenders stole five heads of chiefs from the graves, and took many things 
belonging to them. These murders were committed after they had been 
living for some days in Uniat's house — had been fed by him and his people — 
and the murders took place when the men had gone out of their house to 
their daily occupations in the jungle. Uniat says he has no desire to receive 
a fine, and asks for retaliation, but will obey the Government in whatever he 
is ordered to do. 

6th. — A letter is sent to Abang to order Orang Kaya Janua and 
the other Tuahs of Poe, to deliver up the people who murdered the Kayans, 
that five days are given to make their appearance in the Sibu fort, failing this 
P06 will be attacked. Uniat is acquainted with this decision. Letter sent to 
Mr. Houghton to be ready to receive these people in strict confinement. Met 
Tuahs who came of their own accord ; Grinang, Jitti, Jarau, Kanniau, and 
several others ; after talking for some time, they were told that things had 
become very confused up this river, that after the first attack on Tamans 
made by Jitti, they were not justified in attacking people in the Kapuas who 
were not enemies and who had never molested them. They were told that 
they had taken the law into their own hands, and that now it was difficult to 
say where matters would end, as they had brought a hornet's nest of tens of 
thousands against them. The Rajah said he should take his course in pro- 
ceeding with them and then asked them what they had to say ; Grinang was 
the first to speak, he said he had headed a party against the Tamans who had 
over and over again followed the Ukits in attacking him and he enumerated 
13 names of his people who had been killed or taken prisoners by them. 
One, his own sister or brother (Miniaddeh), for whom he had paid five jars 
to get back ; that he had never before retaliated owing to the restriction of 
Government, that the Ukits were always the leaders of the Tamans, and the 

Character Notes and Sketches, 89 

latter had made attacks on them with impunity, so long as they were stopped 
from going on the war-path. The Tamans purchased the captives from the 
Ukits; that they do not justify the attack made on the Mamulohs by 
Ranggau, and allow he " mungkeled '* was the aggressor. They all say they 
will be glad now to make peace with the Tamans, and whoever breaks the 
peace in a future day should pay any fine imposed at the peace-making 
ceremony. The meeting ended by the assurance of them that they never 
wished to live far from traders and always should protect them as much as 
possible, but that they could not stand being killed with impunity without 
making some return. 

Kanniau spoke of the murder of six of their people in the Barram by the 
Tinjirs, and now two years and more had passed, and that they wanted to 
make an attack on Tamalong's party, whose agents had since attempted to 
take the life of another man in Sapieng, in the Sarawak territory, and that 
Tamalong was frequently in the habit of sending messages to the Kayans of 
this side to try and dissuade them paying revenue to Sarawak Government ; 
that he was independent both of Sarawak and Brunei. 

7th. — Apai Bansa and one or two others say that Kling and Ego have 
made an attack on a Bakatan house in Palin, a tributary of Kapuas below 
Suai. The house has five doors, and its inhabitants killed two of Ego's 
people when living in Katibas last year. They were killed when fishing. 
Ego's people turned out and followed their tracks to their house in Palin. 
These Bakatans used to live in Katibas, but removed to Palin many years 
ago. They are living near the Malohs, many of whom (some forty or fifty) 
are living in this river, and who say that if their people in Palin **penguang" 
assist the Bakatans they deserve to be killed or attacked. 

Apai Bansa says at the time of the balla against the Kayans, Lesom, 
with a party of Punans living at the head of the Rejang above all the 
Kapuas, killed seven of his people in Balleh river. Since then Lesom has 
been fined six pikuls for committing this onslaught, and has paid three. 
Apai Bansa asks for the remaining three, or to be allowed to make an attack 
on him. Apai Bansa is told that the remainder of the fine shall be demanded 
to be paid in full. 

Mandang says that Trong, one of his following, was killed in a row by 
Biat some years ago (ten or more); that a short time since the case was 
opened among themselves, when Biat denied having killed Trong, and both 
parties determined to dive, and the losers were to pay a tajau Remang (alias) 
and a chanang. Biat's party lost, and he now refuses to pay. Gargasih, 
Unjup, and others who were of Biat's party, allow that he lost and should 

loth. — The Kayans were strongly recommended not to make an attack 
on the Po6s, as the inhabitants in that river have either run away or removed 
to a great distance inland. Jok and Ukat were sent up with Uniat to re- 
commend the Kayan Tuahs to take this advice, but if they were determined 
to make a demonstration against Po^, it was to come off as soon as possible, 
and that the balla was to pass on and not to stop at the fort, and return as 
soon as possible. 

go H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

Dian (Kayan) says a Dyak named Galau, living near Kapit, was staying 
in his house up the river. They were in friendship according to custom, 
when Dian and his father gave him a boat, a parang ilang, &c., as price of 
a tatawak, or an interchange of presents. After this, he, Galau, came into 
his room at night and stole a gold peding valued at seven pikuls or more. 
Galau left his house, and the murders took place in Uniat's house. 

loth. — The Kayan Chief, Batu, arrived in a war -boat, and during an 
interview this morning, says he is disinclined for the force of Kayans to 
go against the Po6s, who he hears have all run away. He does not wish to 
receive the fine, which he hopes the Government will keep ; nor does he wish 
to make peace with the Po€ Dyaks or with any one who harbours them, but 
on a future day, when the Tuahs are able to meet, some other arrangement 
can be made. That he does not wish his people to kill any but those who 
are their enemies, and that he shall always support and obey the Government 
to his litmost. This is the settlement of the Dyak, Po€, and Kayan case for 
the present. 

nth. — Uniat this morning attempts to alter the decision of yesterday 
in saying he wishes to take advantage of the Kayan balla being prepared 
for making an attack on Po6. He is told that if the balla attempts to 
pass the fort it will be fired into, and on its way back. The decision of 
yesterday will hold good, and Uniat engages to accompany the Rajah to 

14th. — The Dyak Tuahs, Grinang, Jitti, Kanniau, Lang, Bubau, and 
others came and were told that whoever went on an expedition after this 
without the sanction of the Government would be considered an enemy. 
Ranggau was declared an enemy, and whoever received him would be fined 
a jar ; this to hold good throughout the country. That the murderers of 
the Kayans will also be considered enemies, and on the return of Ego, Kling, 
and Onggat*s expedition that they may despatch messages of peace to the 
Tamans and others in Kapuas waters, and that should Ongatt's, Kling's, and 
Ego's expedition have killed any others except those who killed them, that 
they will be fined and the heads delivered up. 

In consideration of Grinang's people having suffered so much from the 
enemy he attacked, the one captive shall be given back and one kept, to be 
returned to his connection in case of peace-making on a future day. 

The Tuahs ask about the Peng Kayans, who live two days from Balleh 
river, and are in the habit of trading in this river. 

Ingan states, about fifteen years ago, his father, Ribut, and fifteen pf 
his anak buah in two boats were killed at the mouth of the Pofe river ; the 
Peng Kayans were in six boats, and came down the river to make an attack 
on the lower part of the population. They met the two boats' crew and 
killed them all. Ingan and the Tuahs say they would be glad to make 
peace, but they, in consequence of these murders, make a demand on the 
Pengs. They have traded at different times since, and have always said 
they will pay a fine to make peace. 

The Peng Kayans live in a tributary of the Kapuas river. (S. G. No. 106.) 

Character Notes and Sketches. 91 


**The Malanaus are an industrious and well-to-do people. . . . They 
are litigious, and they have less regard for truth than their neighbours the 
Malays and the Dayaks. But they are good-natured and hospitable ; the 
men avoid ostentation, and very seldom array themselves in rich costume, 
but like to see their women wear gold ornaments and clothes of fine stuff 
fringed with valuable beads.'* (De Crespigny, J.A.I, v. 3^.) 

**They are mild and peaceful, being quiet and gentle in disposition; they 
care not for heads, although a few are still kept in their houses. They are 
submissive to the authority of their superiors, and crime is of rare occurrence 
amongst them ; the most serious cases with which the European residents 
are troubled are becharas, or suits connected with their sago lands. Several 
of them have shown a great aptitude for learning, and have even learnt to 
write the English character." (p. 199.) 


**This was the first time they had been to the mouths of any of the rivers ; 
the sight of the sea was entirely beyond their comprehension. They explored 
my house and belongings with keen curiosity, my large looking-glass claiming 
a fair share of attention, and causmg bursts of laughter when they discovered 
there was really no one behind the frame. My kangaroo bitch they called 
a deer, never having seen a dog so large or of that description before ; the 
horse they thought a remarkable bird. On seeing an oil-painting of a lady, 
which was painted in relief with a dark background, they would not believe 
it was not alive, but climbed a chair to pass their hand across it ; they asked 
me to desire the lady to * come down.' It was amusing to watch the air 
of superiority with which the intelligent Dyak lad introduced his friends. 
Breech-loading weapons and strange things to the Bakatans, which called 
forth expressions of wonder and delight, were treated by him with stoical 
indifference ; his manner somewhat resembled an habitu6 of town life showing 
his country cousin round on his first visit." (W. M. Crocker, S. G. No. 122, p. 8.) 


** The Dusuns in character are quiet and orderly and not particularly 
brave, but no doubt would be industrious if occasion arose ; a very good 
rural population, with somewhat yokelish notions. Any slight bloodthirsty 
tendencies that circumstances and the want of proper restraint have driven 
them to, are gladly abandoned wherever our influence has spread. They 
show every symptom of thriving and increasing, under a proper firm 
government, and there is no fear of their melting away and disappearing like 
so many races have done, when brought into contact with the white man." 
(Pryer, Jour. Anth. Inst. xvi. 236.) The same author writing from Imbok 
says: "The chief and men were a lithe, active leopard-Uke lot ; very light- 
brown colour ; wearing their hair about fifteen inches long, hanging down 
over their shoulders, in the same way as I have seen the Sarawak Dyaks do ; 
but whereas in their case it has an uncouth effect, here it seemed to add a 

92 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

grace to the people. They also bad a cheerful springy sort of way of setting 
about things that was quite taking." (Diary 4 Mar.) 

" Dusuns are a tribe open to sensible advice." (Witti, Diary 18 May.) 
" Theft is of rare occurrence among those of the interior." {ibid 29 May.) 
" Dusuns are not given to telling gratuitous fibs, but you have in every 
case to go and see for yourself to make sure." {ibid 31 May.) " Having had 
occasion to observe Tambonuas in four different rivers pretty far apart, I can 
safely assert them to be superior to the Dusuns proper in several respects. 
Industry and quick perception are common to all the aborigines in the 
northern-most Borneo ; but the Tambonua is free from drink and dirt, and 
there is about Tambonuas not only nothing ferocious known, but they are 
possessed of the only redeeming feature of the pure Malay race, namely, a 
sense of decenc}^ and politeness." {ibid 12 June.) ** Bravery in combat 
scarcely gives a man so much credit among these tribes as when he has 
walked so many miles further inland than the * old men did.' " {ibid 25 Nov.) 
" If a traveller were first to become acquainted with the Dusuns of Tambiyao, 
Mukab and Sumalang, he would scarcely take a bias to the tribe, as these are 
greedy, inhospitable and addicted to lying." {ibid 26 Nov.) At Souzogou a 
child whispered to a blind old man : ** Grandpa, the white man is not white at 
all, only his teeth and his hat." {ibid 26 Mar.) 

At Gimmbu, as at Bungol, Sir S. St. John could not purchase fowls except 
at absurd rates. ^* It is curious that these people show no hospitality — 
never offering us a single thing; but, instead, trying to overreach us in every 
transaction." (i. 248.) And later when also among the Dusuns he writes : 
*' It is an universal custom in Borneo to afford shelter to travellers, but they 
very rarely like to enter houses whose owners are absent." (i. 305.) ** In 
disposition the Dusun is hospitable and kind, a visitor from another tribe 
nearly always meeting with hospitality ; but I have known the Melangkaps 
receive a cold reception in Kiau, and they would have gone without rice if we 
had not supplied them ; these villagers, however, seldom visit each other." 
(Whitehead, p. 108.) ** There is, however, in all their dealings with one another 
a certain callousness and a desire to ridicule the sufferings of the less 
fortunate. This feeling I especially noticed on the march when mere boys 
got into difficulties with their heavy loads ; instead of being assisted by their 
stronger comrades they were more often chaffed. The women mix freely 
with the men, and some of the old hags carry great weight in the village 
discussions. They are good-tempered and easily managed with firmness and 
kindness, though of course, as amongst ourselves, there are men with whom 
it is impossible to deal." {ibid 109.) '* Their most amusing anecdotes are 
generally more or less lewd, the more so the greater the merriment ; they 
often chatter and laugh long past midnight, especially when there is a good 
supply of * tuak ' or arrack in the house, when the men get quarrelsome at 
times in their cups." {ibid 109.) ** As all porters in Borneo receive their 
wages in advance, they are expected to keep to their part of the contract, 
and I must say always do, for though I have paid dozens of natives in 
advance, I have never once been swindled ; if a man cannot go he pays over 
his wages to a substitute." {ibid 112.) **The Dusuns are very honest people; 

Character Notes and Sketches, 93 

during the whole of my lengthened intercourse with the Melangkaps I never 
had the smallest article stolen by them, though opportunities were many. 
The only thieves I met with amongst these tribes were the Kuro family at 
Kiau ; and when L informed the villagers of this fact, they were tnost anxious 
that I should not give their village a bad name.'* {ibid 114.) 

It is very curious that Sir Spencer St. John in 1858 had also to complain 
of the dishonesty of the Kiau Dusuns. Speaking of these people he says: 
** We have never found the aborigines inclined to pilfer ; on the contrary, 
they are remarkably honest ; and should these prove to be of a different 
disposition, it will be an unique instance." (i. 248.) Then he continues : 
** To-day, we had a specimen of the thieving of our Ida'an follow^ers. One 
man was caught burying a tin of sardines ; another stole a Bologna sausage, 
for which, when hungry, I remembered him, and another a fowl." (ibidi. 266.) 
. . . ** The aborigines, in general, are so honest that little notice is taken of 
this good quality ; however, to our surprise, we found that these Ida'an were 
not to be trusted. We were warned by the Bajus to take care of our things, 
but we felt no distrust. However, at Kiau they proved their thievish 
qualities, which, however, we frightened out of them, as during our second 
residence we lost nothing there. At the village of Nilu one made an attempt, 
which we checked." {ibid i. 376.) 

" At Kiau we amused ourselves in collecting vocabularies, and trying to 
make ourselves understood by the people. They showed a great readiness to 
assist us, particularly the girls, who made us repeat sentences after them, and 
then burst into loud laughter either at our pronunciation or the comical 
things they had made us utter, {ibid i. 315.) The villagers appeared to be very 
glad to get us back among them, and the girls became friendly and familiar; 
they even approached, us and sat at the end of our mats, and talked, and 
laughed, and addressed us little speeches, which were, of course, nearly 
unintelligible, though we were making progress in the language. They had 
evidently been very much interested in all our movements ; and as our 
toilettes were made in public, they could observe that every morning we 
bathed, cleaned our teeth, brushed and combed our hair, and went through 
our other ordinary occupations. To-day they had grown more bold, and were 
evidently making fun of the scrupulous care we were bestowing on our 
persons while the cook was preparing our breakfast. We thought that we 
would good-humouredly turn the laugh against them, so we selected one who 
had the dirtiest face among them — and it was difficult to select where all 
were dirty — and asked her to glance at herself in the looking-glass. She 
did so, and then passed it round to the others ; we then asked them which 
they thought looked best, cleanliness or dirt : this was received with a universal 
gJgg'C' We had brought with us several dozen cheap looking-glasses, so we 
told Iseiom, the daughter of Li Moung, our host, that if she would go and wash 
her face we would give her one. She treated the offer with scorn, tossed her 
head, and went into her father's room. But, about half an hour afterwards, 
we saw her come into the house and try to mix quietly with the crowd ; but 
it was of no use, her companions soon noticed she had a clean face, and 
pushed her into the front to be inspected. She blushingly received her 

94 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

looking-glass and ran away, amid the laughter of the crowd of girls. The 
example had a great effect, however, and before evening the following girls 
had received a looking-glass. I mention their names as specimens : — Ikara, 
Beiom Sngan, Rambeiong, Idungat, Tirandam, Idong, Sei and Sineo. 
Among the males near were Kadsio, the trouser-maker, Bintarang, Lakaman, 
and Banul who had lent us the kitchen." {ibid i. 331.) The following is the 
account of what made Kadsio remarkable : ** Among those who accompanied 
us to Marei Parei was a young lad, who was paid for his services in gray 
shirting and thin brass wire. As soon as he had received them, he cut off 
three inches of the wire, and began beating out one end and sharpening the 
other; it was to make a needle. His sister brought him some native-made 
thread ; then with his knife he cut the cloth into a proper shape, and set to 
work to make a pair of trousers ; nor did he cease his occupation till they 
were finished, and by evening he was wearing them." {ibid i. 321.) 


**By treating them with kindness and consideration I always found them 
willing to do their best to please me, though towards each other they are 
excessively selfish. On arriving at a village I have seen two men drink the 
contents of a large cocoa-nut, while a third, equally thirsty, would not be 
offered a drop, though these men had been travelling companions for months." 
(Whitehead, p. 126.) 


** While the British North Borneo Government have had considerable 
trouble with the Muruts on the Padass river, the Sarawak Government, since 
the annexation of the Limbang and Trusan rivers, have had no such troubles, 
on the contrary, during 1889, when Mr. O. F. Ricketts and Dr. Havilland 
penetrated into the far interior of the district, they were received in an hospit- 
able manner at all the different villages they visited." (S. G. No. 347 p. 198.) 

** The Muruts are not as treacherous as the Bajows or Sulu, nor as blood- 
thirsty as many other tribes in Borneo, though quite bad enough ; but the 
Government of Brunei had a good deal to do with this, as it never made the 
least attempt to stop feuds which existed between various tribes — in fact 
rather encouraged them, so that they should not combine to resist its 
authority ; thus these feuds increased instead of being suppressed, and the 
Muruts obtained the name of being the worst race along the coast." (O. F. 
Ricketts, S. G. No. 347 p. 213.) 

** It may be mentioned that the Muruts where they have come under the 
influence of the Government have altered considerably for the better, their 
blood feuds have almost died out and the custom of handing over two slaves 
as part of the compensation is a thing of the past. They have now turned 
their attention to making more extensive farms and working jungle produce 
and are amenable to law and order. Neither the influence of civilization, 
however, or anything else will, it is to be feared, ever cure them of their 
drunkenness." (Ricketts, S. G. No. 348, p. 18.) 

** The morality of these people does not appear to be worse than that of 
other tribes ; they have a respect for each other's property and quarrels 

Character Notes and Sketches, 95 

amongst them are uncommon : their greatest failing is drunkenness, but 
strange to say they are generally very good tempered when intoxicated, as, 
though during these drinking bouts large numbers of people collect in one 
house, brawls do not occur as often as one would expect, but it is often on 
these occasions that they make up their minds to go on the war-path and 
retaliate on some house, whereas in their more sober moments they would 
probably have put it off." {ibid No. 347, p. 213.) 

'*The occasions on which there are feasts given are numerous, such as 
during the planting of the paddy, the harvest, a wedding, a death, a house 
newly built and many others ; all these mean continuous drinking day and 

** Savages as these people are they possess some notions of hospitality ; 
no one going on a journey ever takes rice with him, he is always sure of food 
and drink at any friendly house ; the custom is that the guest eats a little 
with each family — after having a bite with one he sits down outside and is 
presently called by another when he has another snack and a refusal will not 
be taken. Arrack too is always brought out when there is a brew going (as 
there generally is). It is a rule that anything growing in the paddy field, such 
as cucumbers, pumpkins, maize, etc., may be taken and eaten by those 
passing through, they are expected to do so. 

** It is sometimes considered sufficient to breed ill-feeling between two 
adjacent houses if a guest at one should by any chance come to harm at the 
hands of the other." (Ricketts ibid.) 

Sir Spencer St. John tells us of a case where he had relieved a Murut 
of pain in the eyes, and the man in return brought him a jar of arrack. 
** I mention the circumstance of the poor fellow bringing the arrack, as, 
how grateful soever they may be in their hearts for a kindness, they seldom 
show it. I have not known half a dozen instances during my whole residence 
in the East." (ii. 133). 


** I have never yet known a case of a Dyak amoking." So wrote Sir 
Charles Brooke (i. 55) thirty years ago. Ten years later Mr. G. Gueritz, 
Resident at Semanggang, wrote as follows : ** I am exceedingly sorry to have 
to report a very serious case of amoking at Lingga. A Kalaka man named 
S'Apong on returning to his house the other evening, from fishing, drew his 
parang and cut down his wife, father-in-law and a child ; the woman is 
desperately wounded. Mr. Crossland, who kindly consented to go down and 
do what he could for the sufferers, writes me that he does not expect her 
to live. Four of her fingers are cut off, and she is woundeji in no less than 
eight different places. The other two are badly wounded, but not dangerously 
so I hope. The wretch afterwards escaped into the jungle, but I ordered 
out all the people and I am happy to say I have him safe in irons in the fort 
here. He told Abang Aing that he did it in a dream, he fancied he was killing 
fish in a punggari with a club." (S. G., No. 69.) 

A man who ran amok in Oct., 1894, at Seduan, a village near Sibu, was a 
Seduan Milano on his mother's side by a Chinese father. He attacked and 

g6 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

wounded thirteen people — all the occupants of the house. " On arriving at 
the house and entering the door the infuriated amok was discovered fully 
armed andrf^eady to attack anyone who should approach him. The discharge 
of a gun loaded with shot, by one of the party, at once put the murderer 
kors de combat, however, he being struck in the face and blinded and fell at 
once. The scene in the house was dreadful to behold — young children, old 
and young women, were lying about wallowing in blooH, four literally hacked 
to pieces ; of the rest, some who were past all help had to be left to die, and 
the others were at once bandaged and ultimately sent to hospital in 
Kuching." This man had only just returned from two months' surveillance 
under the principal meilical officer for supposed unsoundness of mind. 
(S. G. 1894, p. 171.) 

"Amongst Land Dyaks an amok is announced as having occurred at 
Kujang, Upper Sadong, four or five men being mutilated, one man losing, it 
is reported, his hand ; the amoker has made tracks but he is being followed 
up and will doubtless be caught very soon." (S. G. Dec. 1894, p. 202.) A 
reference apparently to this same man named Sugoy is made in the same 
paper (p. 200) where it is stated he is awaiting his trial at Kuching. 


Couvade — At birth husband restricted, confined and dieted — Attendance of Manangs —Husband's 
malign influence — Midwife — Family tabued — Husband dieted — Penti versus mali — Restrictions 
on both parents— Spilt water — Handing articles through window — Other strictures — Hunting — 
How Tabus are overcome — A blacksmith's child — Manang's assistance — Painful operations — 
Sitting by fire — Blistered — Parturition easy — Old women as midwives — Little suffering — 
Inhuman custom — A death — Children's clothing — Cradles — Babies carried astride — Rattan 
seats — Long suckling — Periods— Troubles rare — Smearing the babies — Shawls — Infanticide — 
Motherless babes buried alive—" It killed its mother "—Malay influence —Idiots and deformed 
killed — No wilful miscarriages — Ceremony at birth — First bath — Spirit propitiation — Head 
shaving — Babe's physique — Spirits invoked — Naming — First visit — Purification — Launching the 
child — Feasts — Kayan naming — Fondness for children — Childlessness — Adoption — Girls equally 
desired — Spoilt children — Tops preferred to school — Preference for girls or boys — Enslaved 
children restored— Mother's bravery — Father's courage — Tender parents — Interesting children- 
Politeness — Toys — Models of boats — A European (?) toy — Shields — Spears — Swords — Bows and 
arrows — Large families — Small families — More boys — More girls — Adult males in excess — 
Child-bearing age — Thin population — Exceptional families— Families dying out — Lundus all 
gone — Singges — Milanaus— Sea Dyak increase in Batang Lupar — Wallace's explanation — 
Conditions to increase favourable— Malthu's checks — British versus Dyak families— Cause of 
small families— Due to women's hard work — Advancing civilization makes thick populations. 

We find the Couvade in existence both among the Land Dyaks and the 
Sea Dyaks, thus : '* If a Land Dyak's wife be with child, he must strike 
nothing, never tie things tight, nor do any household work with his parang 
(chopping-knife), or some deadly harm will happen to his unborn offspring. 
At a birth the husband is confined to his house for eight days, and, obliged to 
Stay his appetite with rice and salt only. For one month, moreover, he may 
not go out at night, unless he wishes his infant to cry continually during his 
absence." (Chalmers in Grant's Tour.) 

Among the Land Dyaks " after pregnancy is declared a ceremony 
[beruri] takes place. Two priestesses attend, a fowl is killed, rice provided, 
and for two nights they howl and chant, during which time the apartment 
is * pamali,' or interdicted. The husband of the pregnant woman, until the 
time of her delivery, may not do work with any sharp instrument, except 
what may be absolutely necessary for the cultivation of his farm; he may 
not tie things together with rattans, or strike animals, or fire guns, or do 
anything of a violent character — all such things being imagined to exercise 
a malign influence on the formation and development of the unborn child. 
The delivery is attended by an old woman, called a Penyading, or midwife. 
A fowl is killed, the family tabooed for eight days, during which time the 
unfortunate husband is dieted on rice and salt, and may not go out in the 

gS H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

sun, or even bathe for four days : the rice and salt diet is to prevent the 
baby's stomach swelling to an unnatural size." (St. John i. i6o.) 

" When it is known that a Sea Dayak mother is enceinte, custom among 
the Dayaks imposes the following penti. The difference between peftti 
and mali is that whereas the latter absolutely forbids certain work under 
fear of very dire consequences, the former is not so absolute, and the 
forbidden work may be undertaken if first set going by some person not 
under the influence of the pentiy or the evil consequences may be avoided b}' 
going through some small ceremony. The penti following are imposed on 
both parents. Neither may cut anything in the way of cloth, cotton, &c., 
nor lay hold of the handle of a duku or chopper, nor bind up anything in 
the way of tying a string round a post, nor suffer the cord of a water gourd 
to break when carrying water. (In this case the water may be drunk 
without fear of evil consequences if after the accident the woman steps 
astride over the gourd or other vessel three times, backwards and forwards.) 
Neither may either parent eat anything whilst in the act of walking; if the 
neighbour in the next room should hand anything through the small window 
in the partition wall, the hand must not be passed through the window, so as 
to be on the other side of the partition wall, in the next room, to receive it, 
but must be kept on its own side of the wall. Nor must either let fall a 
stone ; e.g. when bathing, if the stone used to rub the skin with should drop 
into the water it betokens evil, but this evil may be averted if a person can 
be procured to dive for and recover the stone ; nor must any creeper 
overhanging the water be cut through ; nor must any post be planted in the 
earth ; nor any trench dug ; nor plaiting of basket or mat-work ; nor 
anything fixed up tightly, as nailing up a wall or fastening together the 
planks of a boat ; nor any dog, cat, pig, or fowl be struck at ; nor any 
animal wild or tame, be killed whether by trap, spearing, or shooting ; 
though even in this case if the father should be hunting in company with 
others, he need not allow the animal to escape should it come his way, but 
if he should succeed in killing it, some other member of the hunting party at 
once lays claim to it as his spoil, thus averting evil from the father or his still 
unborn child. There are a great many other matters of the sort forbidden, 
but in most cases they can be easily avoided, as in basket and mat work, the 
mother may do such if some other woman will begin the work for her, and 
the man may dig trenches or erect a post or undertake any work of the sort 
if the hands of others are first laid to it. These penti prevail until the 
child cuts its first teeth." (F. W. Leggatt.) 

We may here add what is perhaps the result of the custom of tabu or 
mali on the minds of some of the natives in the curious statement made to 
Sir Chas. Brooke on the Lingga river. A Panguan, a blacksmith by trade, 
said ** that he could not touch any ironwork without the body of his infant 
son turning the colour of fire ; and on his lifting the hammer while engaged 
at his forge, the child instantly commenced screeching and crying." {ibid 98.) 

" Should any difficulty occur in child delivery the manangs or medicine men 
are called in. One takes charge of the proceedings in the lying-in chamber, 
the remainder set themselves on the ruai or common verandah. The 

Childbirth and Children. 99 

manang inside the room wraps a long loop of cloth around the woman, 
above the womb. A manang outside wraps his body around in the same 
manner, but first places within its fold a large stone corresponding to the 
position of the child in the mother's womb. A long incantation is then 
sung by the manangs outside, while the one within the room strives with 
all his power to force the child downwards and so compel delivery. As soon 
as he has done so, he draws down upon it the loop of cloth and twists it 
tightly around the mother's body, so as to prevent the upward return of the 
child. A shout from him proclaims to his companions on the ruai his 
success, and the manang who is for the occasion personating the mother, 
moves the loop of cloth containing the stone which encircles his own body a 
stage downwards. And so the matter proceeds until the child is born, alive 
or dead, usually alive, or until all concerned become assured of the fruitless- 
ness of their efforts. Fortunately for Dayak mothers difficulties of the sort 
seldom occur. The mother may generally be found sitting up with her back 
to a fire within half an hour of the delivery, looking none the worse for what 
she has gone through, and within a week she is back at her work as usual. 
Her body is wrapped round with several folds of thick stiff bark cloth to give 
it support, and she is placed in a sitting position with a fire at her back to 
dry up any issues tending to flooding. Thus she continues day and night 
with very little change of position, and generally suffers more from this and 
frorfi the scorching and blistering from the fire than in the delivery itself." 
(F. W. Leggatt.) 

Parturition, from the more hardy and robust frames of the women, is not 
here attended with the danger and consequent weakness peculiar to more 
civilized and polite nations. . . . ** I have been told that women among 
the Hill Dyaks are rarely confined to the house more than two or three days, 
and frequently are seen at their ordinary employment within that time : their 
attendants, during the period of labour, are the old women of the tribe.*' 
(Low, p. 307.) 

** The Dayak women suffer very little at their confinements, and seldom 
remain quiet beyond a few days. . . . Among the Kayans I may mention 
one inhuman custom, which is, that women who appear to be dying in 
childbirth, are taken to the woods and placed in a hastily-constructed hut; 
they are looked upon as interdicted, and none but the meanest slaves may 
approach them, either to give them food or to attend to them." (St. John i. 
48, 112.) 

Lieut, de Crespigny was present at a Dusun birth when the mother died 
from hemorrhage and exhaustion. (Proc. Roy. Geogr. Soc, 1858, ii. 349.) 

** The dressing of [Land Dyak] children, as well as of grown-up people, 
is very plain. A cloth round the waist in the case of males, and a short 
petticoat in the case of the females, is all their dress. If it is very wet and 
cool weather, they use the rind of a tree as a kind of blanket in which to 
wrap children. The cradle consists of the hollowed trunk of a tree, 
suspended by strings from the ceiling. There are no circumstances 
connected with the dressing or cradling of children tending in any way to 
modify the shape of the body." (Houghton M. A. S. iii. 198.) 

Kavan Abal, Baby's Chaib, 

Carved and studded witb ground shell) 

Worn slung over the back 

lOo H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

" The babies are carried astride the left hip or on the back in a strip of 
cloth (slandiek) slung round the shoulder." (Brooke Low.) Sir S. St. John, 
visiting the wife of a Kayan Chief, found " she had made a rattan seat, covered 
with fine bead-work, for her expected baby. When the women go out, the 
child is placed in this, which is slung over the back." (i. 120,) 

" Upper Sarawak mothers suckle their 
children very long. There are cases where 
children suck till they are three to five years 
of age. The women have in general an 
abundance of milk and are very strong. The 
menstrual period lasts about four days. The 
time of uterogestation Is the same as with 
Europeans. Miscarriages and premature 
delivery are not rare occurrences." (Houghton 
M. A. S. iii. 196.) 

" The Sea Dyak child is wrapped round 

with bark doth or calico after birth, in the 

same way as the mother, but in both cases a mess of betel (areca) nut, 

pepper leaf, lime and gambier (terra japonica) is chewed up and smeared 

very freely over the abdomens of both mother and child," (Leggatt.) 

In the Brooke Low collection there are the following 
Sea Dyak children's fma menyandiek shawls used for strapping 
babies on the back or hip. Patterns gaja, Uku sawa, manang 
ilieng, orang ckaiam, grama muroiig, merkatak, frog, ighi nibojtg; 
tangkong sapepat, ighi nibong, kara jangkiei. 

"Sea Dyaks custom required (until a civilised govern- 
ment interfered to prevent such atrocious murders) that if 
the death of a mother followed in consequence of delivery, 
the child should pay the penalty (i.) as being the cause of 
the mother's death, (ii ) because no one remained to nurse 
and care for it. Therefore the child was placed alive in the 
coffin with the mother, and both buried together, not unfre- 
quently without consulting the father, who might venture to 
dare custom and be willing to spare his child. No wo 
would consent to suckle such an orphan lest it should bring 
misfortune upon her own children. One case I am acquainted 
with- where the mother, in the father's absence, gave birth to twins and 
died immediately afterwards. By the grandfather's orders (the paternal 
grandfather) both children were buried with the mother." (F. W. Leggatt.) 
The Rev. Mr, Holland writes: "A young woman died in giving birth 
to twins. One of the children died soon after its birth, but the other was 
a fine healthy child. Early the following morning they tied up the living 
child with the two dead bodies, and carried them all to the graveyard, 
and buried the living with the dead. The little one was heard crying 
as they passed down the river on the way to the jungle, but its plaintive 
cries fell on dull ears, and hard hearts, for no one offered to rescue the 
child by adopting it. This is an old Dyak custom, but it is a long time 

KKiMtAbalLM ot 

Newborn Baby s 

Cnb, carried 


Childbirth and Children. loi 

since it was carried out to the letter. I believe that on the death of a 
woman in childbirth they have intentionally allowed the little one to die of 
hunger and neglect. When asked why they take the life of an innocent babe, 
by burying it with its mother, they answer, * Why should it be allowed to 
live ? it has caused the death of its mother.' The case above mentioned the 
Government heard of and fined the husband $60." (Miss. Field, 1879, p. 365.) 

But His Highness says of the Sea Dyaks : " The practice of infanticide 
is rarely heard of ; but the contact with the Malays has much increased it in 
some tribes." (ii. 337.) 

Among the Undups when children are born idiots or deformed they are 
nipped in the throat and so killed.* (Rev. W. Crossland.) 

Among the Dyaks wilful miscarriage is never resorted to under any 
circumstances. (Low, p. 309.) 

When the child is born a fowl is sometimes killed and cooked, and 
brought to the parents and friends of the child to be eaten. For the first 
three days the child receives its bath in a wooden tray in the house, but 
afterwards it is taken to the river. On the first occasion of receiving its 
bath in the river a fowl is killed on the bank, a wing is cut off and if the 
child should be a boy, this wing is stuck upon a spear, if a girl it is stuck 
upon the slip used to pass between the threads in weaving, and this is then 
erected on the bank and the blood is allowed to drop into the stream as an 
offering to propitiate the spirit supposed to inhabit the waters, that no 
accident by water should at any time happen to the child. The remainder 
of the fowl is cooked and eaten in the house after the return of the child. — 
(F. W. Leggatt.) 

" Shortly after birth, though whether a few days or a few weeks is 
indefinite, all hair is shaven from the child's head excepting immediately over 
the fontanelles, and the head is so kept shaven until the child can run about. 
Dayak children have generally a thick crop of hair when born. A new-born 
child is vei*y small, but as a rule bright and happy and strong. 

** At some period after a child's birth, it may be within a few weeks, or it 
may be deferred for years, a ceremony ^ is gone through in which the gods are 
invoked to grant health and wealth and fortune. This invocation is not 
considered complete until it has been repeated also at some indefinite period. 

" The naming of the child is not made an occasion for any ceremony and 
I have known children attain the age of seven or eight years without having 
received a name. They are known by a pet name, e,g, endun little girl, or 
anggat little boy." (F. W. Leggatt.) 

^ Mr. W. M. Crocker informs me that on one occasion when he crossed intQ Dutch territory 
to the head of the Kapuas river, he met with a case of infanticide — two children being left to die 
suspended in baskets high up in a tree. 

* I went out to see what the performance was like, and saw on the same platform under Rajah 
Dinda's house, quite in the dark, thirteen [Modang] Dyaks, all men, singing, and walking round in 
a circle, first turning their feet to the right and stamping on the floor, then pausing a moment, and 
turning to the left, still stamping. Occasionally another recruit joined the company. What was 
all this about ? I kept asking. A woman had given birth to a child ! was the answer. And so this 
jollification was kept up half the night in honour of the little stranger. (Bock, p. 77.) 

I02 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N, Borneo, 

** When a Sea Dyak baby is taken to visit strangers for the first time, it is 
customary to make it a small present, which is called Jerukan atap. Atap 
signifies thatch, but Jerukan is a word of which I am unable to tell the 
meaning apart from its connection with atap.'' (F. W. Leggatt.) 

The Balaus **have likewise a ceremony somewhat analogous to purification 
after childbirth. A portion of the platform is fenced off, in the centre of 
which the mother, holding the child in her arms, takes her seat. A female 
attendant shades her with an umbrella, and the manangs walk round her 
chanting, beating time with their staves, and making offerings, till at a 
certain stage of the proceedings two of them lift her up, together with the 
stool on which she sits, while the rest continue their chant around her.*' 
(Horsburgh, p. 26.) 

** The Sea Dayaks naturally look upon childbirth as a very ordinary event ; 
occasionally guns are fired to celebrate it, but even that practice has almost 
fallen into disuse. However, a few months after the birth of the infant, the 
Sakarang Dayaks give a feast in its honour, which generally takes place 
before they commence preparing their land for the rice crop, and another 
after the harvest to ** launch the child '' on the world. During these feasts 
the manang, or priest, waves the odoriferous areca-blossom over the babe, 
and moves about the house chanting monotonous tunes. The festival lasts a 
day and a night. ... In some respects, the Kayans differ in their 
customs from the other aboriginal tribes of Borneo. At the birth of a chiefs 
child there are great rejoicings ; a feast is given, pigs, and fowls, and goats 
being freely sacrificed. Jars of arrack are brought forward, and all the 
neighbours are called upon to rejoice with their leader. They say that on 
this occasion a name is given if the omen be good. A feather is inserted up 
the child's nostril, to tickle it ; if it sneeze it is a good sign, but if not, the 
ceremony is put off to another day." (St. John i. 48, 112.) 

** Milanos and Dayaks have the strongest possible affection for their 
children, it being considered a disgrace for any woman to be childless ; so 
strong is this affection among the Milanos that they will readily part with a 
child in order to better its condition, and money never passes on such 
occasions. People will often thus adopt the children of others poorer than 
themselves, not with any idea of making slaves of them, but showing them 
the same affection that they would do were they their own." (Denison 
Jour. Straits Asiatic Soc. No. 10, p. 182.) 

The Dyaks are exceedingly fond of their children ; if they have none of 
their own they adopt some. (Mrs. Chambers Gosp. Miss., May, 1858, 
p. 69.) 

" The girls are equally the objects of the tender care of their parents 
[Sea Dyaks] with the boys ; and though, in their prayers, the Dyaks always 
ask for male children, the females, who are nearly equally useful to them, are 
not treated with less kindness, and are never neglected." (Low, p. 198.) 
" They are fond of their children, and the children are fond of them. Indeed, 
the latter are quite spoilt, and the more mischievous a boy is the prouder 
they are of him, and prognosticate great things from him when he gets older. 
They clothe their children earlier than the Malays do, disliking to see them 

Childbirth and Children. 103 

run about naked. They rarely if ever punish them when naughty, so that 
they grow up wayward and self-willed, and though they are extremely fond of 
their parents they do pretty much as they please, and not as they are told. 
As they grow older, however, they do as they are required, not caring to 
displease their relations." (Brooke Low.) ** Among Sea Dyaks there is but 
little authority and discipline in matters which are beyond the ordinary 
routine of daily life, and a boy will come perhaps one day and stay away a 
week, and then come again for a day or two, upon which system nothing can 
be done. A father will say in the morning, * Go, and learn, son,' and away 
the son will go, but on the way he meets some companions, who persuade 
him to play tops with them. Tops have more immediate interest for boys 
than school, and so the young urchin never presents himself at the Mission 
at a time when any teaching is going on." (Archdeacon Perham Miss. Field 
1878, p. 136.) They are very anxious to have children, but if they have a 
preference, it is for boys ; and when the only child is a daughter, they often 
make a vow to fire guns and give a feast, should the next prove a son. . . . 
The Sea Dayaks, as I have observed, generally prefer male children ; and the 
more mischievous and boisterous they are when young the greater the 
delight they afford their parents. The observation, *' He is very wicked," is 
the greatest praise. They indulge them in everything, and at home give way 
to their caprices in an extraordinary manner. If the parents are affectionate 
to their children, the latter warmly return it. Instances have even occurred 
when, oppressed by sorrow at the reproaches of a father, a child has privately 
taken poison and destroyed himself. ... All children are very desirable 
in Land Dayak eyes. Mr. Chalmers thinks that if a Dayak could have but 
one child, he would prefer a female, as she will always assist in getting wood 
and water (labours held in little esteem by those males who have arrived at 
the age of puberty) ; and, moreover, at marriage a son may have to follow 
his wife, whereas a daughter obtains for her parents the benefit of her 
husband's labour and assistance ; but my opinion is contrary, I think male 
children are generally desired. (St. John i. 48, 165.) 

Sir H. Low **had frequent proofs of the love they bear their children, and 
the longing with which they desire the return of such as have been carried 
into slavery. Mr. Brook [Sir James] has been the means of restoring many 
of those objects of their solicitude by his negociations with the Sakarran and 
Sarebas Dyaks, although this has not been accomplished without a large 
pecuniary sacrifice : the gratitude they show for the happiness he has 
conferred upon them has amply repaid him for his liberality." (p. 197.) 

** Some years ago a Banting woman saw her child seized by an alligator. 
Without a thought she sprang into the river, swam straight at the monster's 
head, and gouged out his eyes. The brute dropped the child, and swam 
away." (Bishop Chambers Miss. Field, 1868, p. 256.) 

During the Chinese insurrection '* One man saved his child's life at 
the expense of his own. Leaving himself exposed to the parangs of his 
enemies, he held the boy above his head, and swam with him until he had 
placed him safely on the bank." (Mrs. Chambers Gosp. Miss., ist May, 1859, 
p. 72.) 

I04 H. Ling Roth, — Satives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

Madame Pfeiffer, describing a Dyak cooking a bird and distributiog 
pieces amongst some by-standing children, remarks : " He did not taste of it 
himself. I had previously noticed what tender parents the Dyaks make." 
(p. 101.) Sir Spencer St. John on arriving at a Kanowit village says; " I 
have never before entered a village without noticing some interesting children, 
but I observed none here ; though active enough, they looked unhealthy and 
dirty." (i. 39.) And Mr, Hornaday likewise among the Sea Dyaks, "The 
children were, without exception, very dirty, but all were good-natured and 
polite." (p 413.) 

There are few references to children's toys. One is by Mr. Whitehead 
(p, 69) : " In our house the Kadyans have left some children's toys ; this was 
the only attempt towards making models to amuse children 
that I ever noticed in Borneo. The toys consisted of several 
well-made models of boats ; but the chief object of interest 
was a peculiar wooden animal on four wheels, which looked 
more like a rabbit than anything else, but when told it was the 
model of a buffalo, it became more grotesque still in my 
sight." This looks very much like a copy of a European toy, 
Spinnisc Toi' t""* '" fhe Brooke Low collection there are several Dyak 
iurooiieLo"Ci.iii children's toys (apart from tops) such as Dyaks and Kanowit 
boys playing shields, a Dyak boy's play spear head and play 
sword, and a Kanowit boy's play sword. We have seen above that Arch- 
deacon found the boys fonder of playing tops than going to mission school, and 
Mr, Crossland tells me the Undup boys had miniature bou-s andarrows. 

The small number of children of which a family consists has often been 
referred to by travellers. Sir S. St. John says of the Land Dyaks : " They 
appear to marry very young, and have for Asiatics rather large families — four, 
five, and six children were quite common-" (i. 142.) Dr. Houghton, writing 
about the Upper Sarawak Dyaks, says : " Puberty takes place, as far as 1 
have been able to ascertain, at the age of from twelve to fourteen years, 
though the people do not marry young. Births of more than one child are 
not common. In general there are more than two children in a family ; on 
an average there are four, very seldom only one child. There are more males 
than females among adults, but in general the proportion is about equal. 
There are families with two, three, four boys, but also others with the same 
number of girls, or mixed. Women continue to bear children to about the 
age of forty. This is, however, a matter not very easy to determine with 
certainty, as before the Europeans arrived in the country the people had no 
mode of calculating their years." (M.A.S. iii. 195.) 

Speaking in 1858 of the Dusuns, Lieut, de Crespigny remarks : " With 
regard to their numbers, if the whole district is as thinly peopled as the parts 
I visited, there cannot be more than 12,000 in the whole tribe or nation. How 
it is that, with a well watered country, a healthy climate, peaceful occupations, 
and a perfect independence — for their freedom, unlike that of the Dyaks of 
the South, is not at all affected by the proximity of the Malays — they have 
not increased and multiplied to a greater extent, I am at a loss to conceive." 
(Proc. R. Geogr. Soc. ii. 1858, p. 348.) Mr. Whitehead, some thirty years 


Childbirth and Children. 105 

later, also notes the smallness of the population. He says : "The families of 
the natives are very small : in one or two instances I have known them to 
contain eight or more by one mother, but many women have only three or 
four, most one or two children ; and it is by no means uncommon to find 
them childless." (p. 52.) It was mentioned in Chapter L that the Lundu 
had died out. Sir Ch. Brooke, writing in the year 1866, describes two 
peoples who were then dying out : " There are two sub-divisions of tribes all 
but extinct in the Sarawak territory. One of the principal reasons for their 
decay and decrease may, at all events, be attributed to marrying and breeding 
in and in. There are about six doors left of these unfortunates in one place, 
who are a branch of the Singgei Dyaks, residing up the Sarawak river, and 
on a visit to them some years ago, they despondently told us that their 
women refused to fructify, and asked in what manner such a misfortune could 
be remedied. The oth^r remnant of a branch tribe is an offshoot from the 
Malanau race, now not mustering more than thirty or forty doors, and much 
scattered in very small communities. Their men are noted for bravery, but 
are very poor, and more dirty than the other people whose numbers and 
power have much oppressed them. They are named Suru, and reside on the 
smaller streams of the Kaluka and Rejang waters. These two instances are, 
however, exceptions, for there is far from being any appearance of decay 
among the principal Dyak tribes, whose fecundity on an average produces 
four or five births to every married woman. The barren females are not over 
one in five among the Sakarang and Saribus Dyaks, whereas the proportion 
is over one in three in New Zealand, and the entire population of that country 
scarcely amounts to a twentieth part of the population of Sarawak, and only 
equals in number some of the most populous rivers in Borneo. As a proof of 
the increase of the Dyak population we have only to make inquiry into the 
localities where they live, both past and present, and the result shows that 
populations have migrated to rivers farther and farther removed from their 
original abode, which remains at the same time as thickly populated as the 
land will permit. To offer one instance of the multiplying process I will 
mention the Upper Batang Lupar River, which has now a population of 
eighteen or twenty thousand souls residing on it, and has emitted a supply, 
about fifty years ago, to a neighbouring stream (a tributary of Rejang), from 
which a population has now increased to from ten to twelve thousand souls, 
without the aid of any intermixture from other directions. Many other 
instances might be adduced of a similar nature, which have come under my 
immediate observation.'* (ii. 235.) 

Mr. A. R. Wallace endeavours to explain the smallness of the population 
as follows : — " During my residence among the Hill Dyaks, I was struck by 
the apparent absence of those causes which are generally supposed to check 
the increase of population, although there were plain indications of stationary 
or but slowly increasing numbers. The conditions most favourable to a rapid 
increase of population are, an abundance of food, a healthy climate, and early 
marriages. Here, these conditions all exist. The people produce far more 
food than they consume, and exchange the surplus for gongs and brass 
cannon, ancient jars, and gold and silver ornaments, which constitute their 

io6 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

wealth. On the whole they appear very free from disease ; marriages take 
place early (but hot too early), and old bachelors and old maids are alike 
unknown. Why, then, we must inquire, has not a greater population been 
produced ? Why are the Dyak villages so small and so widely scattered 
while nine-tenths of the country is still covered with forest ? 

** Of all the checks to population among savage nations, mentioned by 
Malthus — starvation, disease, war, infanticide, immorality, and infertility of 
the women — the last is that which he seems to think least important, and of 
doubtful efficacy ; and yet it is the only one that seems to me capable of 
accounting for the state of the population among the Sarawak Dyaks. The 
population of Great Britain increases so as to double itself in about fifty years. 
To do this it is evident that each married couple must average three children 
who live to be married at the age of about twenty-five. Add to these those 
who die in infancy, those who never marry, or those who marry late in life 
and have no offspring, the number of children born to each marriage must 
average four or five ; and we know that families of seven or eight are very 
common, and of ten and twelve by no means rare. But from inquiries at 
almost every Dyak tribe J visited, I ascertained that the women rarely had 
more than three or four children, and an old chief assured me that he had 
never known a woman have more than seven. In a village consisting of a 
hundred and fifty families only one consisted of six children living, and only 
six of five children, the majority appearing to be two, three, or four. Com- 
paring this with the known proportions in European countries, it is evident 
that the number of children to each marriage can hardly average more than 
three or four ; and, as even in civilized countries half the population die before 
the age of twenty-five, we should have only two left to replace their parents ; 
and, so long as this state of things continued, the population must remain 
stationary. Of course, this is a mere illustration, but the facts I have stated 
seem to indicate that something of the kind really takes place, and if so, there 
is no difficulty in understanding the smallness and almost stationary popula- 
tion of the Dyak tribes. 

** We have next to inquire what is the cause of the small number of births 
and of living children in a family. Climate and race may have something to 
do with this, but a more real and efficient cause seems to me to be the hard 
labour of the women, and the heavy weights they constantly carry. A Dyak 
woman generally spends the whole day in the field, and carries home every 
night a heavy load of vegetables and firewood, often for several miles, over 
tough and hilly paths, and not unfrequently has to climb up a rocky mountain 
by ladders and over slippery stepping-stones, to an elevation of a thousand 
feet. Besides this, she has an hour's work every evening to pound the rice 
with a heavy wooden stamper, which violently strains every part of the body. 
She begins this kind of labour when nine or ten years old, and it never ceases 
but with the extreme decrepitude of age. Surely we need not wonder at the 
limited number of her progeny, but rather be surprised at the successful 
efforts of nature to prevent the extermination of the race. 

** One of the surest and most beneficial effects of advancing civilization 
will be the amelioration of the condition of these women. The precept and 

Childbirth and Children. 107 

example of higher races will make the Dyak ashamed of his comparatively idle 
life, while his weaker partner labours like a beast of burden. As his wants 
become increased and his tastes refined, the women will have more household 
duties to attend to, and will then cease to labour in the field — a change which 
has already to a great extent taken place in the allied Malay, Japanese, and 
Bugies tribes. Population will then certainly increase more rapidly, improved 
system of agriculture and some division of labour will become necessary- in 
order to provide the means of existence, and a more complicated social state 
will take the place of the simple conditions of society which now obtain 
among them," (i. 144.) 

CvLiNUKicAL Basket of Plaited CoLotREu Ratan 

Slrenglhened by four uprights, tv>o being carved. Square bottom. Cowrie shells 

along top ; two boars' tusks and a Chinese ctlad'-a snulT bottle and a series of brass 

aigrtllis hang from centre. Shoulder straps are attached and also a small bambu 

box containing pointed bambu sticks (calthrops). Height 15} inches. 


Courtship and Marriage : Land Dyaks, no betrothment — Presents — Ceremony — Bride to 
husband's parents and vict versa — Brang, Bukar. and Sibungo ceremony — Sintah ceremony — 
Sinah ceremony — Sea Dyak lover's night- visits — Another version — "Please blow up the fire" 
— A third version — Jews' harps — Marriage — Gauntlet running — A sooty farewell — No money can 
win women — A pledge of honour — Ceremonial visits — Splitting the betel nut — Marriage at 
house of future home — Processions — Betel nut divinations — The oath — Arranging fines for 
desertion — The gods' will ascertained — Final visits — Bride's mother-in-law's rooms — M-i-l's 
blessings — A wedding dress — Bridal bed — A farewell — Early marriages — Balaus and Sibuyaus, 
no betrothment — Sibuyau ceremony — Another account — Kayan wedlocks — Dusun marriage — 
The brian — Rarity of the unmarried — Death preferable to shame — Men generally honour- 
able — A high-class scandal — Naming a husband — Kayan youthful intercourse — Mulcted 
lovers — Batang Lupar immorality — Suicide of women — Skarang and Sarebas immorality — Girl 
companions for visitors. Lovers* Troubles : Match-making parents — Runaway matches — 
Sibuyau pride of birth — Lover's suicide — Courtship presents — Woman's love — A Sea Dyak love 
song. Prohibited Degrees : Deceased wife's sister — Fines for oflfending — Deceased husband's 
brother — First cousins — Incest — Marrying a granddaughter — Sea Dyak degrees — Evil conse- 
quences averted. Tribal Intermarriage : Land Dyak in-marrying — Chinese inter-marriage — 
Good examples. Residence : No fixed rule — The Serambo women object — Return to parents 
— Lundu and Sibuyau rule — Rule according to conditions — Sons a curse — Daughters are 
blessings. Fathers -in- Law : Respect given them. Mothers -in- Law : Her blessing. 
Polygamy: Exists amongst Milanaus — Not elsewhere — Dusuns occasionally polygamous. 
Polyandry : Punans. Divorce : Frequency — Trivial causes for — Marriage a business partner- 
ship — Fines for adultery — Omens for the newly-married — A philosophical bridegroom — Seven 
or eight times married — Omens averted — The divorce ring — Wife entitled to half property — 
Dreams as causes — Further causes— Barrenness. Matrimonial Troubles : Dead husband's 
return — A Maloh's trouble. Conjugal Affection : Domesticated men — Loving husbands — 
A married fop — An afflicted wife — A bold husband. Adultery : Faithful spouses — The guilty 
fined — Widow's early re-marriage considered adultery — Skarangs — Punishable by death — 
Adulterers beaten — Christians no better than heathens — What constitutes adultery — Almost 
amusing — Hupe's charges — Conduct correct after marriage Standard not low — Apparent con- 
tradictions — " Not strictly faithful " — Hornaday's classification— Dangerous games- Bathing in 
public — An Englishman's offence. Jealousy : Women jealous — The husband goes head- 
hunting — Puerile spirit of jealousy. 

Courtship and Marriage. 

Among the Land Dyaks there is practically no ceremony at a betrothment, 
'* the bridegroom expectant (if a young bachelor) generally presents his 
betrothed with a set of three small boxes made of bamboo, in which are 
placed the tobacco, gambier and lime, with the sirih and betel-nut, and some- 
times also with a cheap ring or two, purchased from the Malays or in a 
Sarawak bazaar. At a Land Dyak marriage a fowl is killed, rice boiled, and 
a feast made by the relations of the bride and bridegroom. The bridegroom 
then generally betakes himself to the apartment of his wife's parents or 

Marriage. 109 

relations, and becomes one of the family. Occasionally, as for example, when 
the bride has many brothers and sisters, or when the bridegroom is the 
support of aged parents, or of younger brothers and sisters, the bride enters 
and becomes one of the family of her husband. It is a rare occurrence for a 
young couple at once to commence housekeeping on their own account ; the 
reason is, that the labours of a young man go to augment the store of the 
head of the family in which he lives, be it that of his parents or others, and 
not till their death can he claim any share of the property in rice, jars, 
I crockery, or gongs, which, by his industry, he has helped to create ; yet most 

young men now have generally a small hoard of copper coin, or even a few 
dollars, which they have acquired by trading, or by working for Europeans, 
Malays, or Chinese during the intervals of farm labour.'* (St. John i. 162.) 

"Amongst the three tribes of Bukar, Brang and Sabungo the marriage 
ceremony is performed by swinging fowls round their heads seven times and 
feasting and getting dtunk." (James Brooke, Mundy i. 199.) They marry 
but one wife. (ibid.) ** The Sintahs present clothes, rice, etc., to the 
parents of the bride, and on the occasion of the marriage give a feast to the 
tribe, which lasts for four days and nights. The marriage ceremony is as 
follows : — They smear a paste made of saffron mixed with a little gold dust 
and fowl's blood over the chest, forehead and hands. The man and woman 
each take a fowl and pass it seven tunes across the chest, then kill it, and a 
small string of beads being attached to the ri^it wrist of either party, the 
ceremony is complete. After this the new-married pair remain ia abscrfute 
seclusion for the space of seven days." {ibid i. 203.) ** It is not necessary 
amongst the Sinars to possess a head ^ before marriage, as making presents to 
the parents of the bride is sufficient. Their marriage ceremony is as follows : 
They have four cups in which are hog's blood, fowl's blood, rice, and gold 
dust, each in a separate cup. Four cups are carried by the bride, four by the 
bridegroom, in a tray on their heads, and when they retire to rest are placed 
over their couch. They do not assemble the tribe, nor do they feast, the 
immediate relatives of the parties only being present." {ibid i. p. 205.) 

The Sea Dyak girls receive " their male visitors at night ; they sleep apart 
from their parents, sometimes in the same room, but more often in the loft. 
The young men are not invited to sleep with them unless they are old friends, 
but they may sit with them and chat, and if they get to be fond of each other 
after a short acquaintance, and wish to make a match of it, they are united 
in marriage, if the parents on either side have no objections to offer. It is in 
fact the only way open to the man and woman to become acquainted with 
each other, as privacy during the day time is out of the question in a Dyak 
village." (Brooke Low.) This curious method of courtship which is found both 
among the Land and Sea-Dyaks, and appears to have been first mentioned by 
Sir S. St. John (i. 161) as follows: ** Besides the ordinary attention which a 
young man is able to pay to the girl he desires to make his wife — as helping her 
in her farm work, and in carrying home her load of vegetables or wood, as well 
as in making her little presents, as a ring, or some brass chain work with 

^ For particulars as to the necessity in pre-European times for the young man to obtain a head 
before marriage, see infra, Chapter on " Heads." 

no H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo, 

which the women adorn their waists, or even a petticoat — there is a very 
peculiar testimony of regard, which is worthy of note. About nine or ten at 
night, when the family is supposed to be fast asleep within the musquito 
curtains in the private apartment, the lover quietly slips back the bolt by 
which the door is fastened on the inside and enters the room on tip-toe. He 
goes to the curtains of his beloved, gently awakes her, and she on hearing 
who it is rises at once, and they sit conversing together, and making arrange- 
ments for the future in the dark over a plentiful supply of sirrah-leaf and 
betel-nut, which it is the gentleman's duty to provide. If when awoke the 
young lady rises and accepts the prepared betel-nut, happy is the lover, for 
his suit is in a fair way to prosper, but if on the other hand she rises and says, 
* Be good enough to blow up the fire,* or to light the lamp (a bamboo filled 
with resin), then his hopes are at an end, as that is the usual form of 
dismissal. Of course if this kind of nocturnal visit is frequently repeated, the 
parents do not fail to discover it, although it is a point of honour among them 
to take no notice of their visitor, and if they approve of him matters take 
their course, but if not, they use their influence with their daughter to ensure 
the utterance of the fatal * Please blow up the fire.' It is said on good 
authority that these nocturnal visits but seldom result in immorality." 
Another account is given by the Rev. Mr. Crossland : ** The mode of court- 
ship in this country is peculiar. No courting goes on by day; but at night, 
when all is quiet, a young lover creeps to the side of his lady-love's curtains, 
and awakes her ; if she cares for him she admits him, and after chewing sirih 
and betel-nut, they discourse through the medium of a species of Jew's harp, 
one handing it to the other, asking questions and returning answers. This 
goes on for a month or more, and then having made sure of his bird, he asks 
the important question of the parents ; should they be willing, the day is 
fixed, all in the house are invited to eat pinang sirih ; should the young man 
live in another house, the women of his house dress themselves in their best, 
and go to fetch the bride. Then comes the tug of war ; shall they run the 
gauntlet of all the young men and boys of the house, who are waiting with 
sooted hands to begrime their faces and bodies ? They generally show fight, 
though they come away like niggers, for the boys here are full of mischief. If 
a young lady is unwilling to hear the suit of a lover, she tells him to *go 
home ;' if he still persists she gets up and blows up the fire. All this goes on 
in a room where the parents are sleeping, and often married brothers and 
sisters. No one interferes, unless asked ; but should a young man misbehave, 
woe betide him ; naked weapons would soon be thrown at him. I believe you 
would not find in England, amongst an equal number of persons, a morality 
half as good. If a girl cares for a man she will let him know ; if not, no 
amount of money can win her." (Miss. Life, 1864, p. 650.) 

A different and more detailed account is given by Mr. Leggatt : ** If 
during nightly courtship the girl should be pleased with her lover he 
remains until close upon daybreak, when he leaves with her some article as a 
pledge of his honour, such as a necklace, or ring, or his turban, or anything 
else that may seem appropriate which he may have about him. He will, if he 
is very much in love with the young lady, probably at once awaken her parents 

Marriage, iii 

before leaving the house, and professing his love for their daughter request to 
be accepted as their son-in-law. Or he may at once take his departure and 
defer the trying moment of appearing before the young lady's friends to some 
future time, or until his own friends have first broken the ground for him. 

" Having decided the question of the future to his own and the young 
lady's satisfaction, he in time makes known to his own parents his wishes, and 
the next step in the proceedings is a visit on the part of the man's friends to 
request of the girl's friends the hand of their daughter in marriage for their 
son. Consent having been obtained, a day is fixed upon for the ceremony 
of mlah pinang, i.e., the splitting of the betel-nut, though not until the 
advisability of the proposed connection between the two families, the 
compatibility of the tempers of the parties most intimately concerned, their 
virtues and their faults, &c., have been discussed. 

** The day before the ceremony is to take place is spent by the bride- 
groom in obtaining a supply of betel-nut, sirih leaf (a species of pepper), lime, 
gambler, tobacco, &c., all concomitants of the betel necessary for chewing 
during the proceedings connected with the marriage. 

** The wedding may take place at either the house of the bride or bride- 
groom, but it is generally at the house which has to be left, and not that m 
which the newly-married couple intend to settle. Thus, if it has been decided 
that the newly-married wife shall settle down in the house of her husband's 
friends, the wedding will take place at her home ; if the husband is to remove 
to the home of his wife's friends, the women folk of his village house set out 
in a boat, gaily decorated with an awning of parti-coloured sheets and with 
streamers and flags flying, and to the accompaniment of gongs and drums 
fetch the bride for the ceremony to her husband's house. At whichever house 
it may be, the other party having arrived, all enter the bilik or private 
room, and sit down and talk over the future prospects of the young couple, 
chewing betel- nut and sirih the while, which has been provided by the bride- 
groom, though not without having set aside a portion with which to perform 
the divination connected with the ceremony. 

" Afterwards, all rej)air to the ruai, or common verandah, taking with 
them the pinang and sirih for chewing, and that for divination which has 
been placed apart from the rest. An elderly female relative then places upon 
a plate some gum dammar which she carries out upon the tanju^ or open 
platform adjoining the house, and there burns. 

" Next, an old man or woman, who is constituted Master of Ceremonies 
for the occasion, takes from the stock reserved for the purpose one or. two 
betel-nuts, which are then split up into eight pieces and placed upon a plate 
with some sirih, tobacco, &c., as representing the obligations of the husband, 
as will be subsequently seen. Afterwards one or two betel-nuts are in like 
manner split into seven divisions, and placed with similar accompaniments 
upon the same plate as representing the wife's responsibilities. 

" The plate containing the betel-nut, &c., is then placed at the upper- 
most part of the verandah upon a brass tray, and a sheet is gathered together 
at its centre and suspended by a string from a beam overhead, so as to cover 
and surround the tray. 

112 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

'* A bamboo is then brought and cut into two pieces, or two separate 
pieces of bamboo may be made use of. One piece is split into eight, as was 
the betel-nut, and the other into seven ; and each is again tied together with 
red thread and suspended over the hearth-stone upon the verandah, while the 
Master of Ceremonies repeats the form of obligation, which is merely a 
declaration that if either party should desert the other by reason of sickness 
or accident, or for any other insufficient reason, then the deserting party must 
be fined to the extent of — in the case of the husband deserting the wife — eight 
iruns, or menukuls, or jabirs, or pandings, or alas, according as may already 
have been agreed upon, and corresponding to the number of the pieces of 
the betel-nut, and of bamboo ; in the case of a wife deserting the husband, 
seven of the aforesaid jars. 

** The relative value of the jars above named are : — i inin — 2 plates ; i 
tnenukul = 2 iruns ; i jabir ~ 2 menukuls ; i panding — 2 jabirs ; 1 alas — 2 
pandings. The value of a plate is from 9 to 12 cents (3 or 4 pence). * 

** The plate containing the split pieces of pinang is then uncovered and 
the contents examined to ascertain the will of the gods. An increase in the 
number of the pieces is considered to signify the gratification and goodwill of 
the spirits ; a decrease, their displeasure. Neither increase nor decrease is 
expected, and perhaps now no examination ever takes place. To find the 
same number of pieces in the plate signifies a future of just ordinary' good 
fortune and happiness. 

** The contents of the plate are chewed just as other pinang and sirih is 
at the end of the proceedings, and the whole marriage ceremony is completed 
— the young couple are lawfully man and wife. 

** But etiquette requires that they shall remain in the house where the 
marriage has taken place during the space of three days. Then on the fourth 
day a visit is paid lasting over three days to the family in the other village 
with whom alliance has been made, and with whom the home is to be 

** At the conclusion of this three days' visit, a farewell visit has to be paid 
to the friends who are being forsaken by bride or bridegroom, and this visit 
extends over six days, after which the young couple return to the house which 
is to be in future their home. 

** On the occasion of the first visit after the wedding to the friends of the 
man, after entering the house the newly-made bride must not enter her 
mother-in-law's room until she has first been led over the threshold by that 
austere relative herself, or by some female relative deputed by her to perform 
the office. 

** The bride therefore goes into the room of any female friend that she 
may have, and there awaits the coming of her mother-in-law, while her 
husband sits down upon the verandah outside his mother's room. The old 
lady, having ascertained the whereabouts of her daughter-in-law, goes to 
fetch her, and having brought her into her room sits her down upon a mat 
spread for the purpose. She then goes out to her son upon the verandah, 

• See Jars, infra. 

Marriage, 113 

and leads him in and places him to sit by his wife's side. Having caught a 
fowl she next proceeds to wave it in blessing over their heads, praying 

* A sok bidikf asoh lansik, 

' * Asoh betuah, asoh berimpah; 
' Baka pisang kena tambak, 

* Baka keladi kena terenak, 
' Baka tebu kena ujak. 

' Adai ti minta asi, 

* A dai ti minta ai, 

* Adai ti minta anjong mandi, 

* May they be fortunate and lucky, may they be prosperous and happy : 
May they be fruitful like the banana which is planted out, like the caladium 
planted as a seedling, like the sugar cane stuck in the ground. May they 
have some to ask of them rice, to ask water, and to ask to be carried 
to the bath {i.e, children who will require from them food and drink and 

** For the wedding and subsequent visiting the bride will deck herself 
out in all the finery she possesses and all she can borrow in addition. 

" Her wedding dress consists of a short skirt reaching to her knees, along 
the bottom of which may be sewn several rows of tinsel and of silver coins, 
below which probably hang two or three rows of hawk-bells. Round her 
waist she may have several coils of brass or silver chain, and in addition a 
row of dollars or other silver coins linked together. From her waist upwards 
as far as her armpits she will wear a corset formed by threading upon cane a 
great number of small brass rings, her armlets are also of brass and extend 
up to her elbow. As many rings as she can borrow are upon her fingers, she 
will wear necklaces of very small beads worked in very beautiful patterns and 
finished off in a tassel of beads round her neck. Her ears will be furnished 
with studs of silver gilt, with a setting of red cloth behind the filagree work 
to show them off, and her head decorated with a towering comb of silver 
filagree work to which is attached a number of silver spangles which glitter 
and glimmer with every movement of her head. Perhaps also in addition she 
will stick into her hair a number of skewers, decorated with beads and little 
tags or red and yellow and white cloth. No jacket is worn, but a silken 
scarf is thrown over her shoulders, crossed in front and the ends tied behind 
her. In place of a bouquet she will carry in her hand a bunch of large silver 
buttons, each measuring about two inches in 4iameter. The weight of her 
jewelry and ornaments is so great that she can hardly walk along. The 
bridegroom takes no especial pains to ornament his person. 

** The bridal bed is gaily ornamented with bright coloured curtains and is 
generally carved and decorated for the occasion. 

** When returning from the last visit to settle in the home which she is 
to occupy in the future, the young folk of her village send her forth, not with 
showers of rice, but with splashings of water and scattering and smearing of 
mud and soot, for good luck, unless she cries off by declaring that in her case 
such practices are malt (forbidden.) 

114 H- Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N, Borneo. 

" I am told that marriages used not to take place at so early an age as 
they now do, for the rule was that no young man was allowed to marry before 
he had makai isi tachu, lit. eaten the contents of the coconut shell, an 
idiom to express having been on the warpath, it being the rule for the men on 
an expedition to take with them a cocoanut shell with which to ladle out the 
rice from their provision bag into the pot for cooking." (F. W. Leggatt.) 

** Among the Balaus, or Sea Dayaks of Lingga, there is also no ceremony 
at a betrothment : in fact Mr. Chambers informs me that the word is not 
known in their language. Indeed their manners preclude the necessity of 
any such formal arrangement. . . . Among the Sibuyau Dayaks of 
Lundu, no -ceremony attends a betrothment, but when the consent of the 
parents of the bride has been obtained, an early day is appointed for the 

" The men of the Sibuyaus marry but one wife, and that not until they 
have attained the age of seventeen or eighteen. Their wedding ceremony is 
curious ; and, as related, is performed by the bride and bridegroom being 
brought in procession along the large room, where a brace of fowls is placed 
over the bridegroom's neck, which he whirls seven times round his head. 
The fowls are then killed, and their blood sprinkled on the forehead of the 
pair, which done, they are cooked and eaten by the new-married couple alone, 
whilst the rest feast and drink during the whole night." (Keppel i. 56.) 
A different version is given by Sir S. St. John : ** On the wedding day, the 
bride and bridegroom are brought from opposite ends of the village to the 
spot where the ceremony is to be performed. They are made to sit on two 
bars of iron, that blessings as lasting, and health as vigorous, as the metal 
may attend the pair. A cigar and betel leaf prepared with the areca nut are 
next put into the hands of the bride and bridegroom. One of the priests 
then waves two fowls over the heads of the couple, and in a long address to 
the Supreme Being, calls down blessings upon the pair, and implores that 
peace and happiness may attend the union. After the heads of the affianced 
have been knocked against each other three or four times, the bridegroom 
puts the prepared siri leaf and the cigar into the mouth of the bride, while 
she does the same to him, whom she thus acknowledges as her husband. 
The fowls are then killed, and the blood caught in two cups, and from its 
colour the priest foretells the future happiness or misery of the newly-married. 
The ceremony is closed by a feast, with dancing and noisy music." (i. 51.) 

** Amongst the Kayans there are more ceremonies observed at the birth 
and naming of children than at marriage, the performance of which is not 
encumbered by many formalities. The man, on selecting his bride, makes 
presents to her, and if these are accepted by her parents and others con- 
nected, a day is appointed for her removal to the house of her future 
guardian ; but, independent of the presents, it is necessary on the part of 
the bridegroom to present the bride with a prescribed number of beads of 
different sorts, which are made into a necklace and worn by her as a badge 
of wedlock." (Burns, Jour. Ind. Arch. 150.) ** Marriages are celebrated with 
great pomp [by the Kayans] ; many men have ruined themselves by their 
extravagance on this occasion. Tamading, with princely munificence. 


Marriage. 115 

gave away or spent the whole of his property on his wedding-day.*' 
(St. John i. 112.) 

A Dusun marriage, at which Lieut, de Crespigny was once present, 
and at which he says there was no ceremony, ** was performed by torch- 
light ; a hog was killed and a feast held, after which a chorus was sung 
by all the women and children for several hours which was really very 
pretty ; but of its purport I am ignorant, and the happy couple were at 
length dismissed with loud acclamations.*' (Proc. R. Geogr. Soc. ii. 1858, 
p. 349.) Mr. Whitehead's account of Dusun marriage is as follows : 
" Children are betrothed when very young and of about the same age ; their 
parents seem to arrange all for them. The marriage ceremony is somewhat 
complicated to European ideas. When the young people have arrived at a 
marriageable age the parents of the bridegroom visit the bride's family 
dressed in their best, bringing with them a buffalo and a brass gong — but 
I have known only a gong given. This is the berrihan,^ or payment 
for the wife ; the parents then return to their own home. The following day 
the bride pays a visit to her future husband's house, but the young people do 
not converse; the next day she returns to her home. In a few days she 
again pays a visit, this time attended by two of her girl friends, dressed in 
their holiday clothes. In the evening there is a feast of buffalo-meat and 
* arrak.' The night and, in some tribes, the next two days and nights are 
spent in dancing ; but the Melangkap brides return home the next morning, 
where they remain for five days, after which the ceremony is over and the 
happy pair considered man and wife." (p. no.) 

** It is very rare that a [Sea Dyak] man or woman is not married. A man 
will rarely marry a woman who has a child, and intercourse before marriage 
is strictly to ascertain that the marriage will be fruitful, as the Dyaks want 
children. The women are so keenly sensitive to disgrace that they will not 
part with their virtue for fear of the consequences. They prefer death to a 
life of shame, and many girls have committed suicide rather than face the 
displeasure of their parents and the jibes of their sex. If the man be false 
to his word, and the woman commits suicide, he is held responsible for the 
value of her life, and is very heavily fined. It is unusual, however, for the 
men to prove false to their vows. It is absolutely necessary for them to 
marry as early in life as possible, and if a suitable woman is already found, 
and her fertility ascertained beyond a doubt, there is no inducement to hang 
back. The young men as a rule marry at 18 and settle down, and the girls 
at 16." (Brooke Low.) 

** A case occurred at Banting which created much scandal among the 
higher circles of the Dyak community. The eldest daughter of one of the 
chiefs of a long house was found to be in a state of pregnancy, and, according 
to the custom, this incident is not allowed to pass without considerable ado in 
bringing the father to acknowledge the paternity. The young lady claimed a 
man of rank, but the young chief disowned any share in the business, and was 
ready to stand as a witness that a slave was the father of the coming child. 

' Brian (barian) is really payment for the vir^nity of the bride, and is practically of Malay 
introduction. —H. L. R. 

ii6 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo, 

This dispute occasioned many days' litigation, and in the long run the lady 
had to prove her accusation by diving against the man of rank. If the latter 
won he would thus prove that he was innocent and the slave at fault. The 
dive came off amid hundreds of spectators, but the woman lost her claim on 
the young chief, who was generally considered to be innocent of the matter. 
The chiefs in council afterwards gave their opinions gravely : — * That the 
Almighty had decided the case with an omniscient power, and brought the 
proper father to light to answer for his sins.' The scandal and disgrace 
caused the lady to flee inland to a distance, and the old chief lost all his 
followers, who separated from him to seek another and more respectable 
leader, the sins of the child in these cases being visited upon the father. I 
saw the old man shortly after it happened, and a greater picture of misery I 
never cast eyes on. I pitied him from my heart. Deserted by all, he left the 
country for a neighbouring river." (Brooke i. 147.) 

** They marry at an early age, and separate frequently before they find a 
partner to please them, under the plea of bad dreams or birds. Strangers 
frequently look on their conduct (irrespectively of these temporary and 
probationary marriages) as being remarkably volatile and disreputable ; and 
this idea has been circulated by the teachers of the Gospel. But an impartial 
observer, after making inquiry, will find there are many more penalties 
attached to their peccadilloes than, I believe, are found under similar circum- 
stances in Europe. The greatest disgrace is attached to a woman found in a 
state of pregnancy without being able to name her husband ; and cases of 
self-poisoning, to avoid the shame, are not of unusual occurrence. If one be 
found in this state, a fine must be paid of pigs and other things. Few even 
of the chiefs will come forward without incurring considerable responsibility. 
Pig is killed, which nominally becomes the father, for want, it is supposed, 
of another and better one. Then the surrounding neighbours have to be 
furnished with a share of the fine to banish the jabu, which exists after 
such an event. If the fine be not forthcoming, the woman dare not move 
out of her room for fear of being molested, as she is supposed to have 
brought evil (Kudi) and confusion upon the inhabitants and their belongings." 
(Brooke i. 69.) 

** Among the Kyans, when two young people take a fancy to each other, 
their intercourse is unrestrained. Should the girl prove with child, a marriage 
takes place ; their great anxiety for children makes them take this precaution 

against sterility As among the Sea Dayaks, the young people 

have almost unrestrained intercourse ; but if the girl prove with child, a 
marriage immediately takes place, the bridegroom making the richest presents 
he can to her relatives." (St. John i. 88, 113.) 

" The Sibuyaus, though they do not consider the sexual intercourse of 
their young people as a positive crime, yet are careful of the honour of their 
daughters, as they attach an idea of great indecency to promiscuous connec- 
tion. They are far advanced beyond their brethren in this respect, and are of 
opinion that an unmarried girl proving with child must be offensive to the 
superior powers, who, instead of always chastising the individual, punish the 
tribe by misfortunes happening to its members. They, therefore, on the 

Marriage. 117 

discovery of the pregnancy, fine the lovers and sacrifice a pig to propitiate 
offended Heaven, and to avert that sickness or those misfortunes that might 
otherwise follow ; and they inflict heavy mulcts for every one who may have 
suffered from any severe accident, or who may have been drowned within a 
month before the religious atonement was made ; lighter fines are levied if a 
person be simply wounded. 

** As these pecuniary demandsfall upon the families of both parties, great 
care is taken of the young girls, and seldom is it found necessary to sacrifice 
the pig. After marriage the women also are generally chaste, though cases 
of adultery are occasionally brought before the Orang Kayas. 

" Among the Dayaks on the Batang Lupar, however, unchastity is more 
common, but the favours of the women are generally confined to their own 
countrymen, and usually to one lover. Should the girl prove with child, it is 
an understanding between them that they marry, and men seldom, by 
denying, refuse to fulfil their engagements. Should, however, the girl be 
unable to name the father she is exposed to the reproaches of her relatives, 
and many to escape them have taken poison. In respectable families they 
sacrifice a pig and sprinkle the doors with its blood to wash away the sin ; 
and the erring maiden's position is rendered so uncomfortable that she 
generally tries to get away from home." (St. John i. 53.) 

** Suicide is of frequent occurrence among the females, but is rarely 
resorted to by the males. The women, as we have said before, are so keenly 
sensitive of disgrace that many prefer, if anything untoward happen, to 
perish by their own act. They cannot bear to be found fault with by those 
whom they love, and if reproached by their parents or their husbands in at 
all bitter terms for any irregularity in their conduct they take poison ; but 
the doses do not always prove fatal, and if a powerful emetic is administered 
in time death does not ensue. Fowl's dung is forced into their mouth to 
produce nausea, and the body is immersed in water. (Brooke Low.) 

*' The state of morality among the Sakarran and Saribas Dyaks is 
strangely more lax than in any of the other tribes. . . . The license granted 
to the young women appears amongst these people only to extend to their 
own nation, but it is probable, and in fact certain, in some tribes, that 
their favours are liberally extended to the Malays, should any happen to reside 
in their vicinity. This laxity of manners has been carried so far, that I have 
been assured that should a chief, or distinguished warrior of another tribe, 
travelling through the country, rest for a night at a village, it is a necessary 
part of their hospitality to provide a girl for his companion ; but my 
information on this particular is derived from the Malays. I, however, 
think it correct, as a similar custom is always followed by the Kyans." 
(Low, p. 195.) 

Lovers' Troubles. 

" There is a hill in Sabaian (the next world), says tradition, covered with 
uba, and suicides there enjoy undisturbed repose beneath the shade of the 
poisonous shrub. Despairing lovers, whose union upon earth was forbidden 
by harsh and unfeeling parents, are here re-united. Women have also been 

ii8 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

known within recent times to commit suicide to avoid the shame and disgrace 
of being sold into slavery." (Brooke Low.) 

" Match-making parents sometimes invite a likely young lad of their 
acquaintance to ngaiap (as it is called) their daughter while both are yet 
young ; they do all they can to render his visits agreeable to him in the hope 
that he may learn to get fond of the girl and take her to wife when they are 
both old enough to think of such matters. . . . When a young woman 
is in love with a man who is not acceptable to her parents, there is an old 
custom called nunghup but, which permits him to carry her off to his own 
village. She will meet him by arrangement at the water-side, and step into 
his boat with a paddle in her hand, and both will pull away as fast as they 
can. If pursued he will stop every now and then to deposit some article of 
value on the bank, such as a gun, a jar, or a tavor for the acceptance of her 
family, and when he has exhausted his resources he will leave his own sword. 
When the pursuers observe this they will cease to follow, knowing he is 
cleared out. As soon as he reaches his own village he tidies up the house 
and spreads the mats, and when his pursuers arrive he gives them food to 
eat and toddy to drink, and sends them home satisfied. In the meanwhile 
he is left in possession of his wife." (Brooke Low.) 

" I may notice that among the Sibuyau Dayaks there is great pride of 
birth, and that parents will seldom consent to their daughters marrying a man 
of very inferior condition. Many lamentable occurrences have arisen from 
this." (St. John i. 52.) 

*' During one of my visits to the Sakarang I heard a story which is 
rather French in its termination. A young man proposed to a girl and was 
accepted by her, but her parents refused to give their consent, as he was of 
very inferior birth. Every means was tried to soften their hearts, but they 
were obstinate, and endeavoured to induce her to give up her lover and 
marry another. In their despair the lovers retired to the jungle, and 
swallowed the poisonous juice of the tuba plant : next morning they were 
found dead, with their cold and stiff arms entwined round each other. Cases 
are not of very rare occurrence among the Sakarang Dayaks, where 
disappointed love has sought solace in the grave." (ibid i. 54.) 

** Presents given to a girl during courtship can never be recovered 
whatever the event." (Brooke Low.) 

** With the woman of Eastern clime, love is like the sun's rays in 
warmth ; she runs from her parents, casts off brother and sister, and all other 
relations, for the man to whom she has taken a fancy ; even though he be 
ugly, deformed, poor and degraded, it matters not : she follows him after 
having been even separated by force, and threatened with excommunication 
and death if she again approaches the man of her choice. She is heedless, 
and elopes at night adorned in man's shabby habiliments, with a tattered 
head-dress and short rusty sword, steals a small broken canoe, and pulls 
night and day from one river to another, crossing their ripply entrances with 
trepidation and alarm, but dexterously dragging her crazy craft over the surf, 
until she finds him who is nearest her heart. She gains her haven exhausted 
from exposure and hunger, for she has perhaps only taken a handful of dry 



rice, and has crossed over eighty miles without help from anyone, her eager 
heart alone surmounting the many intervening difficulties and dangers. This 
episode happened while I was in Sarawak. A Seripa had fallen in love with a 
working man, whom, according to custom, she was not permitted to marry. 
Death would have been the penalty in olden times ; but this young lady of 
sweet seventeen underwent what is above narrated, and said, " If I fell in 
love with a wild beast, no one should prevent me marrying it." (Brooke ii. 

Dayak Love Song. 

1 Aku Kantok Libau nuran sium 


2 Aku repai panjai daun nuchik 

ujong jari, 

3 Aku baya nanga Lingga napat ka 

selat bunga jambu 

Aku tedong beratong ngili batang 
Kanyau napat ka selat sengkan 
moa pintu. 

Aku bujang besai mandi di jembai 
tandok labong 

6 Aku pedang panjai penyelai kan- 

dong niboDg, 

7 Aku kijang bejalai punggu parai 

pengenyan tangkai lenga nyaman, 

8 Aku kijang mengkanjoug punggu 

pumpong pengenyan tekuyong 
pulau Santan 

9 Aku kijang nyungkah punggu rebah 

pengenyan buah raba masam, 

10 Aku kijang rari punggu mati pen- 

genyan sligi bala penikam. 

1 1 Aku buang nanga S*karang munyi 

kijang rarah tandok,^ 





I am the tender shoot of the 
drooping libau with its fragrant 

I am the long-leafed repai tickling 
the finger tips, 

I am the crocodile from the mouth 
of the Lingga coming repeatedly 
for the striped flower of the rose- 

I am the cobra floating down the 
Kanyau river, coming often to 
the threshold of the door, 

I am a bachelor of full age, so agile 
that I can cut away the drooping 
corner of a man's turban while 
springing past him ; 

I am the long sword, sweeping off 
the long sheathed nibong palm 

I am the antelope, walking among 
the dead tree-stumps, carrying 
the ears of sweet millet, 

I am the antelope, springing from 
the beheaded trees, carrying the 
shells from Santan Island, 

I am the antelope, leaping over 
the fallen logs, carrying the sour 
raba fruit, 

I am the antelope, fleeing over the 
dead stumps, carr3dng the javelin 
of the spearmen. 

I am the crocodile, from the mouth 
of the Skarang, with the cry of 
the dehorned antelope, 

* Lines xx, X2. 13 — Buang, Buah, Butt. No such words really exist in the Dyak language, 
but considerable license is allowed in Dyak poetry, and for the sake of rhyme and euphony, the 
word baya (meaning a crocodile) takes the above forms, so as to rhyme with Skarang, Lemanak, and 
Angit respectively. 


H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N, Borneo. 

12 Aku buak nanga Lemanak munyi 12 

pekak anak manok, 

13 Aku buit nanga Angit pengigit pala 13 


14 Aku antu puchok kemedu madah 14 

ka bulu rendam basah ; 

15 Aku remaung puchok merkubong 15 

madah ka rekong turun darah ; 

16 Aku langkan meruan tali, rambing '16 

pergandau danau batang Kapuas 

17 Aku biliong panjai puting penglum- 

pong nibong panjai sablas. 

1 8 Aku brangai punjai lunchong ngaiau 

mubai langgai Kapuas ; 

19 Aku chapak besiring kuning tisi 

glamit benang mas, 

20 Aku ma pungga unggan rerengut 

em pa api, 



Aku repai panjai daun nuchik 

ujong jari 
Aku blia bandir tapang pemantang 

penegi rebor api 

23 Aku samak mansau batang sararai 

empa api 

24 Aku jugok manok menang di- 

sabong enda rari. 

25 Aku tapang nanga Menyang betum- 

bok takang tujoh puloh, 

26 Aku ipoh nanga Seriang ngerarah 

ka kaban jelu n3rumboh, 

27 Aku temiang lunti batang turun 

ambun belaboh. 











28 Aku glamit ubong benang pengung- 28 
kong kaki Jawai, 

am the crocodile, from the mouth 
of the Lemanak, clucking like a 
young chicken. 

am the crocodile from the mouth 
of the Angit, that bites off the 
head of the mouse-deer, 

am the spirit from the simimit of 
the Kemedu-creeper, to say that 
I am wet from diving ; 

am the tiger, from the top of the 
merkubong tree, to say that the 
blood is running down my throat j 

am the hollow boat-keel with a 
loop of rope for a bridge across 
the lake of Kapuas, 
am the long-necked axe, to cut 
the nibong palm which measures 
eleven fathoms. 

am the boat with the long- 
projecting figure-head, to war 
against the source of the River 
Kapuas ; 

am the yellow-striped plate with 
a border-like gold thread, 
am the ma wood, cut for a live 
fire log, with which to keep alive 
the fire ; 

am the long-leafed repai tree, 
tickling the finger-tips, 
am the weaver's blade from the 
buttress of the bee tree, for 
knocking up the red thread ; 

am the samak tree with the red 
trunk withered by the fire ; 
am the comb of the champion 
fighting-cock that never runs 

am the bee tree at the mouth 
of the Menyang, from which 
radiates seventy branches ; 

am the upas tree at the mouth of 
the Seriang, causing to fall the 
troops of nyumboh monkeys ; 
am the temiang bamboo, with the 
graceful stems, from which the 
dewdrops fall ; 

am the gold thread twisted for 
anklets for the feet of Jawai, 



29 Aku limau tan parang pengurong 29 

anak Mandai ; 

30 Aku baya nanga Lingga madah ka 30 

nyawa nukang perdah, 

31 Aku tedongtuchonglampong madah 31 

ka rekong turun darah ; 

32 Aku lang terebang ngelingi batang 32 

Kanyau napat ka menoa babas 

33 Aku semah berayah rantau Lumau 33 

napat ka kilat bunga janibu, 






Aku tempekok manok jagau napat 
ka ruman padi baru : 

Aku enteran ban singit ; 
Aku dinding sanggit rapit ; 
Aku blia bandir tapang penegi 
rebor api, 

Aku sabong manok menang di 

sabong mali mati ; 
Aku nabau tucbong Nyambau 

madah ka likau betatah timah, 






40 Aku ensing batu mandi di terumbu 40 

sarong tedong ; 

41 Aku ensing ban da mandi di krapa 41 

lulong jungkong ; 

42 Aku lelabi nanga Engkari madah 42 

ka kaki ngereman basah, 

43 Aku remaung tuchong Talong 43 

madah ka rekong kungkong 

44 Aku tedong ulu Lampong pala 44 

belantak timah, 

45 Aku ringin, nanga Brin, kain 45 

nengan pah. 

am the lime tree resisting a 
sword, a cage for the daughter 
of Mandai/ 

am the crocodile from the mouth 
of the Lingga, with wide open 
mouth, as the angle of an axe- 

am the cobra at the summit of 
Lampong, to say that my throat 
runs with blood ; 
am the hawk flying down the 
Kanyau river, coming after the 
fine feathered fowl ; 
am the semah fish, coquetting 
down the Lumau river, coming 
after the acrid rose-apple flower ; 
am the clucking young cock, 
calling to come after the stalks 
of new padi' 

am the spear-shaft cut sidewise ; 
am the wall tied up closely, 
am the weaver's blade from the 
buttress of the bee tree, for 
knocking up the red thread, 
am the champion fighting-cock, 
always victorious, never beaten ; 
am the python at the summit of 
Nyambau, with spotted stripes 
like lead ; 

am the kingfisher that bathes at 
the arch of the cobra's nest, 
am the red kingfisher that bathes 
in the mangrove swamp ; 
am the tortoise from the mouth 
of the Engkari, with my feet wet 
from wading, 

am the tiger from the summit of 
Talong, with the throat encircled 
with blood, 

am the cobra from the source of 
the^ Lampong, with head spotted 
like lead ; 

am the fishing fox from the mouth 
of the Brin, with my skirt about 

my hips. 

The above is really only a fragment. In different districts variations are 

found, and many people say that the whole recitation is much longer. (Brooke 


B In some parts of Dutch Borneo girls until they arrive at a marriageable age are kept in cages. 
See Schwaner.— H. L. R. 

122 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

Prohibited Degrees. 

** No Land Dyak may marry his first cousin, and no man may marry his 
deceased wife's sister; to do either would, according to them, provoke 
exceedingly the divine displeasure, and bring down a temporal infliction of it 
upon the guilty parties." (Chalmers in Grant's Tour.) 

Sir S. St. John gives us more detail about the prohibited degrees among 
the Land Dyaks (i. 198). "The prohibited degrees seem to be the same as 
adopted among ourselves ; marriage with a deceased wife's sister, it is said, is 
prohibited, as well as that between first cousins ; and second cousins are only 
permitted after the exchange of a fine of a jar, the woman paying it to the 
relation of her lover, and he to her relations. Among the Sibuyaus, however, 
I have known an uncle marry his niece." Of the Sea Dyaks he says : ** It is 
contrary to custom for a man to marry a first cousin, as they look upon them 
as sisters. No marriage is allowed with aunt or niece, and some objection is 
made in a few of the communities to a man marrying a deceased wife's sister, 
or a woman taking her husband's brother : but these customs are not always 
followed, and I have heard of uncles marrying nieces, and a marriage with a 
deceased wife's sister is also permitted, provided her parents approve of the 
man ; and it is then often encouraged by them in order to bring up the 
children as one family." (i. 73.) 

" On the subject of marrying in and in, it is to be observed that Dyak 
customs prohibit any near consanguineous nuptials, and they are more 
particular in this respect than Europeans. They consider first cousins in the 
light of brothers and sisters, and a further removal only entitles a customary 
marriage. Nieces are not allowed to marry their uncles, nor nephews their 
aunts. They are particular in these points, and the person who disregards 
them is harshly reproached and heavily mulcted." (Brooke ii. 336.) 

** Incest is held [by the Skarans] in abhorrence, and even the marriage 
of cousins is not allowed. During my visit to Betah, a village of the 
* Goon ' tribe, in 1846, the Baddat Dyaks came with presents of fowls and 
rice, their village being about ten miles distant. They had also a serious 
complaint to make against one of the chiefs of their tribe, for having 
disturbed the peace and prosperity of their village by marrying his own 
grand-daughter! — his wife and the girl's mother, his own child, being still 
alive. The chiefs who visited me, said, that since the occurrence of the 
above event, no bright day had blest their territory ; but that rain and 
darkness alone prevailed, and that unless the plague-spot were removed, the 
tribe would soon be ruined." (Low, p. 301.) 

" The Sea Dyaks are very particular as to their prohibited degrees of 
marriage, and are opposed in principle to the inter-marriage of relatives. 
This is one reason for the fertility of their women as compared with other 
tribes who are fast vanishing around them. As with us, a man may not 
marry his mother. 

Nor his step- mother, 

Nor his mother-in-law. 

Nor his mother-in-law's sister, 

Marriage. 123 

Nor his mother-in-law's cousin, 

Nor his mother-in-law's relations to within two degrees, 

Nor his daughter,' 

Nor his step-daughter, 

Nor his daughter-in-law. 

Nor his adopted daughter. 

Nor his sister. 

Nor his step-sifter, 

Nor his half-sister. 

Nor his wife's §ister, 

Nor his aunt. 

Nor his step-mother. 

Nor his father's sister. 

Nor his mother's sister, 

and for a woman the prohibited degrees are the same. He may not marry 
his first cousin, except he perform a special act called bergaput, to avert evil 
consequences to the land. The couple adjourn to the water-side and fill a 
small earthenware jar with their personal ornaments ; this they sink in the 
river, or instead of a jar they may fling a duku (chopper) and a plate into the 
river. A pig is then sacrificed on the bank and its carcase, drained of its 
blood, is flung in after the jar. The pair are then pushed into the water by 
their friends and ordered to bathe together. A joint of bamboo is then filled 
with pig's blood, and they have to perambulate the country, scattering it upon 
the ground and in the villages round about. They are then free to marry." 
(Brooke Low.) ** Once an Undup Dyak married his first cousin, and the 
people refused to visit him unless he asked ampun, i.e. forgiveness. To obtain 
this he killed a pig and threw the whole of it into the river with one plate 
and a duku (chopper). I tried once to make out of whom they asked pardon, 
and I was told, as I always am, * sight adat kami — only our custom.' They 
said it was to no evil spirit, but to the whole country, in order that their 
paddy might not be blasted." (Crossland.) 

Tribal Intermarriage. 

" Tribes do not intermarry much, probably owing to the wars." (Brooke 
Low.) At Brang, a Land Dyak village, Mr. Grant (p. 21) writes: ** There 
were some really good-looking young fellows here, and their dresses were 
quite in keeping with their looks and bearing. Some of the best-looking 
were of a party of Serambo Dyaks, young bachelors who had come across 
country, probably as much to court and to win the regards of some of the 
fair damsels of Brang as to join in the feast. I find there is more inter- 
marriage between the various tribes than formerly, and this is a change for 
the better." 

Mr. Denison writes : ** From all I can learn regarding marriage among 
the Serambo Dyaks they may intermarry where and with what tribes they 
choose, but they all seem to prefer marrying in their own village." (Jottings, 
ch. ii. p. 14.) 

124 H' Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

But intermarriage with the Chinese seems to be common : ** In August 
I acceded to the request of the Raja to open a school for the benefit of the 
children of the Chinese and for the offspring of the mixed marriages between 
Chinese and Dyaks. Truly speaking, the Chinese women up here are them- 
selves the offspring of mixed marriages, but, having been brought up in all 
the manners and customs of the Chinese, are looked upon as Chinese. .... 
The more Chinese blood there is in the boys the more diligent they are in 
their studies ; but in all hard work or play they fall short of the Chinese- 
Dyak or mixed race." ^ (Chambers Miss. Field, 1869, p. 266.) 

The settled agricultural tribes between Brunei and Marudu Bays are good 
examples of Chinese and native intermarrying. 


*' With the Upper Sarawak Dyaks the bride follows the bridegroom to 
his house or his parents' and is considered a member of his family.** 
(Haughton M. A. S. iii. 200.) ** With other Land Dyaks the reverse is the 
case." (St. John i. 162.) 

" The Serambo women object to being taken from their homes, and 
the men to following their wives, as is the D^ak custom. When a Dyak 
marries he enters the family of his wife, and lives in her parents* house till 
the couple set up for themselves, which is generally not for some time 
afterwards, though in some cases when the bride is one of a large family, 
or the husband has others dependent on him, this custom may be reversed, 
and the woman go over to the man's dwelling.** (Denison, Jottings, ch. ii. 
p. 14.) 

** It is usual for the husband to reside with the father-in-law until he 
has a family of his own and is prepared to set up a house for himself. If his 
wife is the only daughter and he is permitted to take her away to his own 
home, her parents have a right to demand of him a taju'^ or brian (barian) 
to replace her loss of service ; but if she has a sister or sister-in-law to 
attend to her parents no such demand can be made, and she is at liberty 
to follow her husband if she be so disposed. Self-interest governs the 
father in connection with his daughter's marriage. He makes certain 
requisitions as the price of his consent. He would stipulate that his 
daughter should continue to live with him or near him, so that her children 
should belong to him as head of the family group. In this case, not only 
would the children form part of the family to which the mother belonged, 
but the husband himself would become united to it, and would be required 
to labour for the benefit of his father-in-law. It frequently happens that 

• Many of the Chinese on the west coast of Borneo are married to Dyak women, and their 
exemplary conduct both as wives and mothers is very highly spoken of. No matrimonial connexion 
has, I believe, ever been formed between a Malay of Sambas and a Dyak female because of the 

jealousy of the Malay women A small Dyak tribe, under the protection of the Chinese, is 

established a few miles of Montradok. The Chinese often intermarry with them, and many Dyak 
families are established among them, it being the custom of the former when they marry Dyak 
women, to take the parents, and sometimes the whole family, under their protection. (Earl, pp. 259, 


7 Taju = a jar, often given as brian. — H. L. R. 

Marriage. 125 

when a husband refuses to live with his wife's family she will leave him and 
go back to her relatives." (Brooke Low.) 

" Among the Lundus, as a general rule, if the bride be an only daughter, 
or of higher rank, the husband joins her family — if he be of higher rank, or 
an only son, she follows him, and then she is conducted under a canopy of 
red cloth to the house of his parents. If they should be of equal condition, 
and similarly circumstanced, they divide their time among their respective 
families until they set up housekeeping on their own account .... while 
amongst the Sibuyaus, as a general rule, the husband follows the wife, that 
is, lives with and works for the parents of the latter.'' (St. John i. 50.) 

" If it should happen that the family of the bride should be lacking in 
male members to do the heavier part of the labour on the farm, &c., they will 
require that their daughter's husband shall live with them. If the husband's 
family should stand in need of a woman's help to assist the mother in the 
household duties, they will require that their, son's wife should take up her 
residence with her mother-in-law. This question has to be decided early in 
the proceedings. It sometimes happens that the girl will consent to 
accompany her husband to his home, trusting to her influence over him to 
induce him afterwards to leave his parents and reside with hers, and in case 
of his refusal, a separation often follows." (F. W. Leggatt.) 

** Lieut. De Crespigny tells me that in his district sons are a curse and 
daughters a blessing to their parents, both amongst the Malays and Milanos, 
for this curious reason : that when the sons grow up they look to the parents 
to help them with the bri-an, or wedding portion, and when married they 
leave their home to live in the house of their father-in-law." (F. W. Leggatt.) 

" A man and woman with a family of daughters would thus be gainers 
by a number of young men coming to live in their house and working for 
them on their sago plantations, and would at the same time have the 
pleasure of seeing the gongs ranged round the posts and walls which the 
young men have brought as bri-an into the family." (Denison, Jour. Straits 
Asiat. Soc, No. 10, p. 183.) 

** Among the Dusuns at Melangkap a man marries into his wife's house- 
hold, she not leaving her father's house ; thus, by this arrangement, the 
man's labour goes to enrich his wife's family. This is the old patriarchal 
system. In Melangkap some of the women were married to men who 
belonged to villages a few miles distant, in which case, when the men owned 
paddi fields in their own districts, they worked there during the busy season 
separated frorti their wives. Thus a father of several daughters always has 
sufficient labourers for his household, while sons, if they are not possessors of 
land, leave their own family and join that of their wife." (Whitehead, p. no.) 


** Among the Sibuyau it is worthy of remark that the respect paid by a 
son-in-law to the father of his wife is greater than that paid to his own father. 
He treats him with much ceremony, must never pronounce his name, nor 
must he take the liberty of eating off the same plate, or drinking out of the 
same cup, or even of lying down on the same mat." (St. John i. 51.) 

126 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

This is confirmed by Mr. Brooke Low, who says a ** son-in-law may not 
even walk in front of his father-in-law.*' Mr. Whitehead notes 'one case in 
which a father-in-law divorces his son-in-law for making himself generally 
obnoxious and declining to pay a fine for so doing, and another case in 
which a son orders his father to leave his (the son's) house, (p. iii.) 


The only reference to mothers-in-law appears to be the one above relating 
to the bride receiving the former's blessing. 


** Polygamy exists amongst the Milanows, but they rarely marry more 

than one wife ; and their domestic affairs being so arranged that the work is 

equally divided amongst all the members of the family, they are happy and 

contented." (Crocker, Proc. R. Geogr. Soc. 1881, p. 199.) ** It does not 

appear to exist amongst the Dusuns." (Burbidge, p. 255.) ** Nor is it practised 

by the Land Dyaks." (Haughton M.A.S. iii. 200.) ** Clear cases of bigamy are 

of rare occurrence and not tolerated. No Sea Dvak can have more than one 

wife at a time." (Brooke Low.) ** The Sakarans marry but one wife, though 

I have seen two or three instances where a chief had two : the Chief of 

Tabiah is one of these, and in consequence of breaking through the custom 

of the tribe, had lost all his influence with its members." (Low, p. 300.) 

** The men among the Kayans, even the greatest chief, take but one wife, and, 

it is said, consider it shameful to mix their blood, and never, therefore, have 

any intercourse with the inferior women or slaves." (St. John i. 113.) ** The 

inhabitants of the Lukan are unconverted Tambonuas. They incline towards 

Islamism, for they are polygamists ; Dusuns as a rule are not, that is to say, 

they usually take a second wife if the first be getting old." (Witti's Diary, 

12 June.) 


** Polyandry is occasionally practised amongst the Punans, but the 
instances are very rare, and then it is generally found that a difference of 
some thirty or forty years exists between the ages of the two husbands, the 
age of the younger usually corresponding with that of the wife " (Hose, 
J. A. L xxiii. 158.) ** Polyandry with Sea Dyaks is unknown." (Brooke Low.) 


** Among the Upper Sarawak Dyaks divorce is very frequent, owing to the 
great extent of adultery, and thus a criminal practise of intermarrying exists, 
which contributes very much to the debilitating of the tribes." (Haughton 
M.A.S. iii. 200.) 

** Sir Spencer St. John gives the following very full account of Divorce 
among the Land Dyaks of Sirambau : — Divorces are very common, one can 
scarcely meet with a middle-aged Dayak who has not had two, and often 
three or more wives. I have heard of a girl of seventeen or eighteen years 
who had already had three husbands. Repudiation, which is generally done 
by the man or woman running away to the house of a near relation, takes 

Marriage. 127 

place for the slightest cause — personal dislike or disappointments, a sudden 
quarrel, bad dreams, discontent with their partners' powers of labour or their 
industry, or, in fact, any excuse which will help to give force to the expression, 
* I do not want to live with him, or her, any longer.' 

** A woman has deserted her husband when laid up with a bad foot, and 
consequently unable to work, and returned to him when recovered, but this is 
perhaps to obtain her food on easier terms. A lad once forced his mother to 
divorce her husband, the lad's stepfather, because the latter tried to get too 
much work out of his stepson, and let his own children by a former marriage 
remain idle. The stepson did not understand why he should contribute to the 
support of his half-brothers, so he told his mother she must leave her 
husband, or he would leave her and live with his late father's relatives. She 
preferred her son's society to her husband's. 

** In fact, marriage among the Dayaks is a business of partnership for the 
purpose of having children, dividing labour, and by means of their offspring 
providing for their old age. It is, therefore, entered into and dissolved 
almost at pleasure. If a husband divorces his wife, except for the sake of 
adultery, he has to pay her a fine of two small jars, or about two rupees. If 
a woman puts away her husband she pays him a jar, or one rupee. If a wife 
commits adultery the husband can put her away if he please, though, if she 
be a strong, useful woman, he sometimes does not do so, and her lover pays 
him a fine of one tajau, a large jar equal to twelve small jars, valued at twelve 
rupees. If a separation takes place, the guilty wife also gives her husband 
about two rupees. If a husband commit adultery the wife can divofce him, 
and fine his paramour eight rupees, but she gets nothing from her unfaithful 
spouse. There is one cause of divorce where the blame rests on neither 
party, but on their superstitions. When a couple are newly-married, if a deer 
or a gazelle, or a mouse deer utter a cry at night near the house in which the 
pair are living, it is an omen of ill — they must separate, or the death of one 
would ensue. This might be a great trial to a European lover ; the Dayaks, 
however, take the matter very philosphically. 

** Mr. Chalmers mentions to me the case of a young Peninjau man who 
was divorced from his wife on the third day after marriage. The previous 
night a deer had uttered its warning cry, and separate they must. The 
morning of the divorce he chanced to go into the * Head House,* and there 
sat the bridegroom contentedly at work. 

** * Why are you here? ' he was asked, as the * Head House' is frequented 
by bachelors and boys only ; * What news of your new wife ? ' 

** * I have no wife, we were separated this morning because the deer cried 
last night.' 

" * Are you sorry ? ' 

** * Very sorry.' 

" * What are you doing with that brass wire ? * 

*** Making ^m*' — the brass chain-work which the women wear round 
their waists — * for a young woman whom I want to get for my new wife.* " 
(i. 165-167.) 

Of the Sea Dyaks the same author says : — ** Husbands and wives appear 

128 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N, Borneo, 

to pass their lives very agreeably together, which may partly be caused by the 
facility of divorce. Many men and women have been married seven or eight 
times before they find the partner with whom they desire to spend the rest of 
their lives. These divorces take place at varied times, from a few days after 
marriage to one or two years. However, after the birth of a child, they 
seldom seek to separate, and if they do the husband is fined but not the wife. 

" The causes of divorce are innumerable, but incompatibility of temper is, 
perhaps, the most common ; when they are tired of each other they do not 
say so, but put the fault upon an unfavourable omen or a bad dream, either of 
which is allowed to be a legitimate cause of divorce. Should they, however, 
be still fond of each other, the sacrifice of a pig will effectually prevent any 
misfortune happening to them from neglecting to separate. Partners often 
divorce from pique, or from a petty quarrel, and are then allowed to come 
together again without any fresh marriage ceremony. Among the Balau 
Dayaks it is necessary for the offended husband to send a ring to his wife 
before the marriage can be considered as finally dissolved, without which, 
should they marry again, they would be liable to be punished for infidelity. 

" I may add, that as the wife does an equal share of work with her 
husband, at a divorce she is entitled to half the wealth created by their 
mutual labours." (i. 55 and 57.) 

Mr. Brooke Low fully confirms in detail what St. John says, and adds : 
** Dyak women when they want to separate from their husbands and have 
taken a liking for another man, allege that they have dreamt that if they 
do not separate they will die in pregnancy. This is generally accepted, as 
it is customary to put faith in dreams, and there seems to be no test 
whether the alleged dream be true or not. If either wish to separate from 
the other, and there is no issue to the marriage, nothing is simpler; it is 
merely necessary to allege a bad dream or adverse omen, and both are free 
to marry again; but if the dream, or omen, be a reality, and the pair are 
not desirous of parting company, they can avert any evil consequences from 
neglecting to do so by sacrificing a pig. The women fully understand the 
value of a husband and are careful to keep him in good humour, especially 
when there are extra mouths to feed.'' 

** But bad temper, a quarrelsome disposition, an evil tongue, gossiping, 
laziness, unfaithfulness, are all deemed sufficient reasons for divorce without 
incurring the fine, as are also troublesome dreams, the appearance of birds of 
evil omen, and other apparently insignificant occurrences which are still held 
to declare the will of the gods.*' (F. W. Leggatt.) 

Speaking of an Undup Dyak woman, the Rajah says : — ** I was told 
she had been, or was about to be, separated from her husband, on a plea 
of barrenness, after two years of matrimonial life. I thought, and remarked 
that, perhaps, on a future day there might be a family forthcoming ; but 
no, they said, she would never be fruitful." (ii. 85.) 

Matrimo^^ial Troubles. 

'* A rather amusing incident happened here the other day. Two Tanjongs 
went to the Fort to complain that during their absence on a visit to some 

Marriage, 129 

friends, their respective spouses had each taken unto herself a new husband, 
and they requested to know what they were to do under the circumstances ; 
one of them darkly hinting that as life had no longer any attraction for him, 
it was possible that he might do something desperate. On further enquiry it 
came out that they belonged to a party of men who were falsely reported to 
have been attacked and murdered by a hostile tribe ; and after wearing the 
willow for two months, the two bereaved wives thought fit to marry again. 
The complainants were told that the matter should be enquired into. The 
same day, however, the case was settled amongst themselves to the satisfac- 
tion of all parties, by the women returning to their former husbands." (S.G., 
No. 125, p. 4.) 

** I was interrupted this morning by two men, and this was the substance 
of our conversation. The younger one came to ask me what he had better do 
under the following circumstances : — 

** A year ago he married a girl from the upper country, and she came here 
and lived with him. About a month ago she went to visit her parents, and 
when her husband went to fetch her, her father and mother refused to let her 
go, and since then they had threatened to fine the husband. The husband is 
a Maloh, and their trade is to work all the brass ornaments of the men and 
women. Close to my house is a Maloh-house, where the happy couple used 
to live. The girl is an Undup, one of my own tribe. The custom is for the 
husband to follow the wife, or in other words, live with his father-in-law. 

** My friend being a Maloh, could not very well do so, as his means of 

hving depend in a great measure on the sale of his wares. The wife is willing 

to come here, but the mother-in-law says it cannot be ; if the husband won't 

go there, he must be fined. By fining is meant a recompense to the wife in 

the shape of a jar or gong, value about £2.*' (Crossland, Miss. Life, 1864, 

p. 650.) 

Conjugal Affection. 

'* Some of the men seemed thoroughly domesticated, and I saw them 
affectionately nursing their naked little babies at night, or in the daytime, 
while mamma had gone to the field for food, or the forest for fuel. I 
particularly noticed the younger married men standing behind their nice 
little wives at night when we were at dinner. They folded their brown arms 
around their necks, and whispered loving gossip into their ears, evidently 
well contented with themselves and with each other; and, perhaps, their love 
is as real and as ardent and as true here as it is in high places where dress 
clothes are worn.'* (Burbidge, p. no.) 

Speaking of a Dusun named the Fop, Sir S. St. John says (i. 323) : — 
** When we were here in April, he had just married a fine girl, named Sugan, 
and used always, when the crowd surrounded us, to be seen standing behind 
her with his arms folded round her neck." 

** Of the warmth of married affection, I have never heard a more striking 
instance than the following, the story has been told before, but it is worth 
repeating : — Ijau, a Balau chief, was bathing with his wife in the Lingga 
river, a place notorious for man-eating alligators, when Indra Lela, a Malay, 
passing in a boat remarked — * I have just seen a very large animal swimming 

130 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

up the stream.' Upon hearing this, Ijau told his wife to go up the .steps and 
he would follow ; she got safely up, but he, stopping to wash his feet, was 
seized by the alligator, dragged into the middle of the stream, and disappeared 
from view. His wife hearing a cry turned round, and seeing her husband's 
fate sprang into the river, shrieking — * Take me also,' and dived down at the 
spot where she had seen the alligator sink with his prey. No persuasion 
could induce her to come out of the water : she swam about, diving in all 
the places most dreaded from being a resort of ferocious reptiles, seeking to 
die with her husband ; at last her friends came down and forcibly removed 
her to their house. About two miles below the town of Kuching, is a place 
called Tanah Putih. Here a man and his wife were working in a small 
canoe, when an alligator seized the latter by the thigh and bore her along the 
surface of the water, calling for that help, which her husband swimming after, 
in vain endeavoured to afford. The bold fellow with a kris in his mouth 
neared the reptile, but as soon as he was heard, the beast sank with his 
shrieking prey and ended a scene almost too painful for description." (ibid 

i- 55.) 


" The women, as a rule, are faithful to their husbands, and adultery is 
uncommon when we consider the density of the population. If a woman 
commit adultery with a husband his wife may fine that woman whoever she 
may be, or if she prefer it she may waylay her on the ground and thrash her ; 
but if she does this she must forego one-half the fine she would otherwise be 
entitled to demand. If her husband deserts her she may fine him or require 
him to provide for her children. If he forsake her in order to marry some 
other person, she has a right to fine her rival in his affection for enticing him 
away from her. 

'* When a wife loses her husband by death she cannot marry again (except 
by a special payment) until she has performed the last rites required by 
custom at the Gawai Antu (spirit feast). If she do she is fined by the 
relatives of the deceased, for this is a slight upon his memor}^ The amount 
of fine is just the same as if he were still alive and she had abandoned him 
for another ; and her new husband is fined at the same time for seduction. 
The fact is, a widow is regarded as belonging to her deceased husband until 
she is formally freed from him by the feast of the Sungkup. She is obliged to 
lead a virtuous life as long as she is in mourning or abide the consequences, 
which are severe in their nature, and involve her lover as well as herself." 
(Brooke Low.) 

** Among the Sakarans adultery is a crime unknown, and no Dyak ever 
recollected an instance of its occurrence." (Low, p. 300.) 

** I must not neglect to mention that the manners of the young female 
Kyans resemble those of the Sea Dyaks ; but, that adultery after marriage is 
punished by death to the man, who, under whatever circumstances the 
criminal action takes place, is always considered the guilty and responsible 
party concerned." (Low, p. 335.) 

The following case came before the Court at Simmangang : ** Gima says 
that Bit and Ilok came to his house and asked him to accompany them to 

Marriage. 131 

beat Unggam, whom Bit said was guilty of adultery with his wife. He 
accordingly accompanied Bit and Ilok and Umpul and Rangan went with 
them. On the way they met Engkong of Gemong's house and asked him 
where Unggam was. Engkong said, * He is there in the babas tebassing' his 
farm, and asked them what they were after, they told him, and replied that 
they wanted to beat Unggam (according to custom) for adultery with Bit's 
wife, and Engkong then passed them and went on his way, simply saying — 
* Alright, but don*t go into the house.' They went on and found Unggam 
tebassing by himself, and Bit' then went for him with a billet of wood which 
he had brought with him for the purpose. It was a piece of Empini — a hard 
wood. Neither witness nor any of his companions interfered — when Bit had 
given Unggam a good thrashing they left him." (Deshon, S. G. No. 250, 
p. 176.) 

** Dyak law respecting adultery being peculiar, is worthy of notice. If 
a married man commits adultery with a married woman, the husband of the 
woman is allowed to strike him on the head with a club, or otherwise maltreat 
him, while the wife of the adulterer would be allowed to treat the adulteress 
in the same way, provided they keep their design secret ; if the affair has 
been talked about or confessed, it is usually settled by fining the guilty parties. 

" Should a husband suspect a man of having committed adultery with 
his wife, he says nothing about it, but prepares a club, and in company with 
a friend or two, lurks about watching for the offender ; he may meet him 
going to or returning from bathing, and wherever he does meet him he is 
entitled to strike him, only he must not go into the man's house for the 
purpose. Lives are sometimes sacrificed in this manner. 

*' The husband of a blind woman living near our Mission station com- 
mitted adultery with a blind woman ; his wife on account of her affliction not 
being able to avenge herself, the duty or right devolved on her nearest 
female relative, a strong young married woman, who sought out the offender 
and struck her such blows on the head as to fell her to the ground. A man 
working near thought the sound of blows was made by someone cutting down 
a tree ; the blind woman was heard to exclaim against the cruelty of striking 
one who could not see her enemv. 

"The Christians, I am sorry to say, get into these troubles as often as the 
heathen, indeed in point of morality I have not been able to discover any 
difference between Christian and heathen. Dyak ideas of what constitutes 
adultery are very different from ours. If a woman handed to a man betel 
nut and sirih to eat, or if a man paid her the smallest attention, such as we 
should term only common politeness, it would be sufficient to excuse a jealous 
husband for striking a man. 

** A young man here was near getting * cracked ' — as I have sometimes 
heard it called — for the following offence : A slave belonging to a woman was 
doing some work for her, cutting something out of a piece of wood and doing 
it clumsily, the young man coming into the house at the time, said * Oh, is 
that the way you are working,' took the hatchet out of the slave's hands and 
showed her how it should be done, that was nearly sufficient according to 
Dyak ideas to deserve punishment, and the young man had a narrow escape. 

132 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

However, except in the case of a jealous husband there is usually pretty 
strong evidence of wrong doing before the people proceed to extremities. 

** Last month, early one morning, before I had left my bedroom, I heard 
a great deal of loud talking going on in the sitting-room below ; on going 
down stairs I found a young man, one of our Christians, with his head cut 
open, his neck and shoulders smeared over with blood; a jealous husband 
assisted by his brother had struck him with a club, and, as it was afterwards 
proved, without cause. The young man on receiving the blow immediately 
seized a parang (a Dyak chopper) to defend himself with. The husband, 
seeing him armed, dropped his club and ran away ; his brother was less 
fortunate, for while running away the young man struck him on the back 
with his weapon, inflicting a severe cut, which would have been worse had he 
not been partially protected by the thick folds of a cloth he wore round his 
waist, which was chopped in two. The young man gave me the particulars 
while I was dressing his wound, finishing by requesting me not to dress his 
enemy's wound, or afford him any assistance should he come to the Mission 
House to seek it. It was almost amusing ; before I had finished with him, 
his enemy was outside waiting for his turn to have his wound dressed. I had 
to send the man away by the back entrance lest he should meet his enemy, 
whom I then brought in and did all I could for. The patients lost a good 
deal of blood through not keeping quiet, exciting themselves by relating their 
misfortunes to their friends, who flocked from every quarter to see them as 
soon as the news spread." (Rev. C. S. Bubb, S.G., No. 95.) 

Sir Jas. Brooke writes : ** I had a discussion with Mr. Hupe, the German 
Missionary, regarding the state of morals among the Dyak women, which he 
described as comparatively low when judged by the usual standard of Asiatic 
countries. Indeed he appeared to imagine that there was a very imperceptible 
bar to a general freedom of intercourse between the opposite sexes, and his 
statements being so much opposed to the accounts I had previously received, 
I have since made more particular inquiries on the subject. I have now 
quite satisfied myself of the moral code amongst the Sea Dyaks, which are a 
very large population. 

** There is no strict law to bind the conduct of young unmarried people 
of either sex, and parents are more or less indifferent on these points, 
according to their individual ideas of right and wrong. It is supposed that 
every young Dyak woman will eventually suit herself with a husband, and it 
is considered no disgrace to terms of intimacy with the youth of her fancy 
till she has the opportunity of selecting a suitable helpmate ; and as the 
unmarried ladies attach much importance to bravery, they are always desirous 
of securing the affections of a renowned warrior. Lax, however, as this code 
may appear before marriage, it would seem to be sufficiently stringent after 
the matrimonial. One wife only is allowed, and infidelity is punished by fine 
on both sides — inconsistency on the part of the husband being esteemed 
equally bad as in the female. The breach of the marriage vows, however, 
appears to be infrequent, though they allow that, during the time of war more 
license is given. I also understand that the Dyak women seldom allowed the 
approaches of foreigners, or even of Malays, but that whenever the crime of 

Marriage. 133 

infidelity was proved, the offender was deprived of a portion of his property, 
and in some cases even received personal chastisement from the populace. 

Upon the whole, though the standard of morality is not very high, it 
cannot be considered low, and, in fact, is what might be expected amongst an 
agricultural and warlike people."® (Mundy ii. 2.) 

** The Sea Dyak women are modest and yet unchaste, love warmly and 
yet divorce easily, but are generally faithful to their husbands when married. 
.... The morality of the Sea Dayaks is, perhaps, superior to the Malays, 
but inferior to that of the Land Dayaks. . . . Some of the old gentlemen 
Land Dyaks observed that, though they were only allowed to marry one wife, 
yet they were not strictly faithful to her if a favourable opportunity occurred, 
which observation seemed much to amuse the assembly. . . . With 
regard to the female chastity of the Land Dyaks I imagine they are better, 
certainly not worse, than the Malays. The * Orang Kayas ' have many cases 
of adultery to settle, which do not, however, cause much excitement in the 
tribe." (St. John i. 52, 54, 142, 165.) 

Mr. Hornaday (p. 458) classes the people as follows : 

Morally. Mentally. Physically. 

ist. Hill Dyaks Sea Dyaks Sea Dyaks 

2nd. Sea Dyaks Hill Dyaks Kyans 

3rd. Ida'ans, Dusuns, Kadayans, ) j. tth i-w 1 

^ J,, . T^' r Kyans Hill Dyaks 

Muruts, Bisayas ) "^ "^ 

4th. Kyans Ida'ans, &c., &c. Ida'ans, &c., &c. 

" When laughing and joking with the girls it is no offence to catch them 
round the waist and squeeze their breasts, but it is out of the question to act 
in this manner with a married woman ; any one venturing to squeeze the 
latter, even in ignorance of her condition, renders himself liable to a fine of 
from five to eight mungkuls, and if any one venture to disturb her in her 
curtains with ever so innocent an intention, he subjects himself to a penalty." 
(Brooke Low.) 

" It has been mentioned once or twice that we found the women bathing 
at the village well. Although, generally speaking, no lack of proper modesty 
is shown, certainly rather an Adam and Eve-like idea of the same is displayed 
on such occasions by these simple people ; yet, although a deficiency of 
drapery would seem remarkable amongst civilized folks, it does not appear 
so amongst those who form the subject of this little narrative." (Grant's 
Tour [Land DyaksJ p. 97.) 

Other tribes, however, have a very strong objection to expose what the 
civilised deem should be covered. We have seen above that the women are 
very careful to keep themselves covered by their short petticoats, and Mr. 
Crocker informs me that a young Englishman gave great offence to some 

^"A German missionary [C. Hupe] has accused the Southern Kyans of certain gross usages; 
but I heard nothing of them, and do not credit his account— his mistakes arising, most probably, 
from his want of knowledge of the language." (St. John i. 113.) May not the accusation lie in the 
fact that black sheep exist among the people in Borneo as well as elsewhere ? -H. T.. R. 

134 H. Ling Roth.— Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

Sea Dyaks by his going about, after bathing, with no clothes on, considering 
he was only surrounded by "niggers." 


" As the wife works hard, she is generally very strong and capable of 
taking her own part. She is very jealous of her husband, much more so than 
he is of her. If he be found flirting with another woman, the wife may 
inflict a severe thrashing on her, but only with sticks, while if the offending 
woman have a husband, he may do the same to the man. To escape these 
domestic broils, he generally starts off into the jungle, and pretends to or 
really does go head-hunting." {St. John i. 56.} 

" I will give one instance of their intense desire for admiration, and their 
vindictive (though puerile) spirit of jealousy. A Saribus Dyak girl formed a 
violent attachment to a young fellow, and they were, to the best of my 
knowledge, an engaged couple. On paying a visit to the long house in which 
they both lived, I produced a volume of Byron's Illustrated Beauties, and 
showed them to the people. The young man so admired them, that I made 
him a present of the lot, one of which he particularly eulogised and set apart 
as being angelic. He little knew what dark and deep-set frowns his remarks 
were calling forth from his living love. Some days after I called again, and 
on seeing the pictures, found the special beauty's face scratched and 
disfigured over the eye and nose. The young man thought it had been done 
by some of the children of the house ; but as the remainder were unharmed, 
we could lay the blame to no one but his lady-love." (Brooke i. 71.) 

Silver Plate, 
n to pillow ends, Cin. x 3j 


Burning the Dead : Extent — Wealthy burned — Poor buried — Corpses thrown into jungle — Women's 
wailing — A stone hollowed by tears — Sextonship hereditar>' — Office not popular — Villages with- 
out sextons — Sexton's pay — Sexton's children decline office — The burning — Death no terror — 
Mourning colours. Burial : Manangs superintend burial — Ceremonial — Cemetery dreaded — 
Women's wailing — Description of cemetery — Relatives' bones removed when migrating — Grave- 
digging — Pulang Carta's domain — Coffins — Burial dress of importance — Method of decorating 
graves — Braves not buried near women — Warriors — Suicides — Women — Enemies — Balu Adad — 
Mawaing — The bead passport — Valuables buried — Malay theft of valuables — Articles buried of 
the highest value — Bauja — A little brother's sacrifice — Poverty due to burying valuables — First 
head obtained buried — A Kalaka chiefs funeral. Lying in State : The Kayan ceremony — The 
road to Bruni — The Dusun ceremony — On the Baram — Messages to those gone before — Cigarettes 
as * scent ' bearers — Kajaman — Orang Kaya — Gassing never buried. Soul Boats : Dead man's 
property sent adrift — Show of valuables but not sent adrift — Departed spirits' boats — Slave 
women sent adrift — Malay plunderings — Funeral of Palabun's brother — The Bishop's mistake — 
A sago boat — Women's wailing. Tombs: Honoured persons entombed — Salong — Klietieng^ kn 
unexpected coffin — Kenniah mortuary — Kajaman coffins — Coffins in trees — Coffins in caves — 
Embalming [sfV] — Beauty of Tombs — Dusun Stone Circle. Jar Burial: Method — Road to 
Kinibalu — Another account — Murut way — Milanau system — Buried ^ars — Skapan arrangement — 
Punan disposal— Murut process — Women's wailing. Tabu : House-forsakens — Porich — Apart- 
ments closed — Man buiya — Pa wfl/i— Corpse- bearers return— CxtfK'ai antu — Heads — UUt — How 
mourning is laid — Floor changed — Dead man's name — Balau ulat — Pamali matt — Undup tabu — 
The widow's conduct — A widower's offence — A river tabu-ed — Dusun tabu — Milanau feasts. 
Human Sacrifices: Kayans — Sea Dyaks — Degenerates into fining strangers — Milanaus— 
Belabun's victim — Sikilai's sacrifice — Dusun sermungup — Co-operative purchase of slaves^ B hit ing 
Marrows -Sermungup-ed^Messaiges to the dead — Pigs substituted — Slaves' assistance required — 
Murut sacrifice. Burial Customs in Dutch Borneo. 

Burning the Dead. 

The disposal of the dead by the burning of the body appears to be a 
custom confined to the Land Dyaks : ** In Western Sarawak the custom of 
burning the dead is universal ; in the districts near the Samarahan, they are 
indifferently burnt or buried, and when the Sadong is reached the custom of 
cremation ceases, the Dayaks of the last river being, in the habit of burying 
their dead. . . . Among the Silakau, the Lara, and the true Lundu 
tribes, the bodies of the elders and rich are burned, while the others are 
buried." (St. John i. 163 & 165.) 

" The Sikongs burn their dead of the better class, after two days 
mourning, and flags, banners, etc., are placed over the tinungan or place 
where corpses are burnt or buried : those lower in the social scale are buried, 
the poorer classes again are placed on a covered stage, while the lowest are 
rolled in a mat and placed on the ground in the jungle.'' (Denison, ch. v. p. 52.) 

136 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

** The Sentah Dyaks burn their dead of the higher class ; the poor are 
wrapped in a mat and cast out in the jungle, though in the same spot where 
also the corpses are burnt." {ibid, ch. viii. p. 87.) " In times of epidemic 
disease, and when the deceased is very poor, or the relatives do not feel 
inclined to be at much expense for the sexton's services, corpses are not 
unfrequently thrown into some solitary piece of jungle not far from the 
village, and there left." (St. John i. 164.) ** The Serambo Dyaks burn all 
their dead, and not only those of the better class as some seem to imagine." 
(Denison, ch. ii. p. 14.) *' Within a few hours of death the body is rolled up in 
the sleeping mat of the deceased, and carried by the Peninu, or sexton of 
the village, to the place of burial or burning (tinungan).'' . . . ** The body 
is accompanied for a little distance from the village by the women, uttering 
a loud and melancholy lament. In the Peninjau tribe the women follow the 
corpse a short way down the path below the village to the spot where it 
divides, one branch leading to the burning ground, the other to the Chinese 
town of Siniawan. Here they mount upon a broad stone, and weep and utter 
doleful cries, till the sexton and his melancholy burden have disappeared from 
view. Curiously enough, the top of this stone is hollowed ; and the Dayaks 
declare that this has been occasioned by the tears of their women, which 
during many ages have fallen so abundantly, and so often, as to wear away 
the stone by their continual dropping." (St. John i. 163.) 

'* The office of sexton is hereditary, descending from father to son, and 
when the line fails, great indeed is the difficulty of inducing another family to 
undertake its unpleasant duties, involving, as it is supposed, too familiar an 
association with the dead and the other world to be at all beneficial. Though 
the prospect of fees is good, and perhaps every family in the village offers six 
gallons of unpounded rice to start the sexton elect in his new, and certainly 
useful career, among the Quop Dayaks it is difficult to find a candidate." 
(ibid i. 164.) *' Having no sexton here among the Sentahs, or at Kuap, the 
relatives of the dead take on themselves this function, but the duty does not 
appear to be popular." (Denison, ch. viii. p. 87.) According to Mr. 
Chalmers the ** burner is called Orang Paninu and he is well paid for his 
trouble. It is a duty which few care to undertake, and at the present time 
the Bombok tribe on this hill have no one willing to do so, and they have to 
depend upon the good offices of the Peninjau Paninu.'' (Occas. Papers, p. 6.) 
**The Tringus burn their dead, but having no peninu, the members of the 
deceased Dyak's family must act as sexton when necessity calls." (Denison, 
ch. iv. p. 39.) *' The Grogo Dyaks like all the Sauh tribes burn their dead. 
There is one sexton and another at Beratak Tambawang, Suba the 
neighbouring village is without one, and borrows from Grogo when there is 
necessity." {ibid, ch. iii. p. 25.) 

*' The Singhis tribe has two sextons, the fees charged are i passu of rice 
for a child, 3 for a boy, 4 for a young man, 5 for a woman, and 8 for a full 
grown Dyak." {ibid, chap. ii. p. 18.) 

** The usual burial fee is one jar, valued at a rupee, though if great care 
be bestowed on the interment, a dollar is asked ; at other places as much as 
two dollars are occasionally demanded, and obtained when the corpse is 

The Disposal of the Dead. 137 

offensive." (St. John i. p. 163.) "The scale of prices is arranged to suit 
the means of all, the lowest is four tampayangSy and rises in proportion to the 
wealth of the deceased. Peninjauh and Bombok have no sexton {belal or 
peninu) ^nd are therefore dependent on Serambo for this official, the office is 
hereditary, but the children of the late sexton of the above named villages 
refuse to act.'* (Denison, ch. ii. p. 14.) 

But Sir Spencer St. John says : ** The burning also is not unfrequently 
very inefficiently performed, and portions of the bones and flesh of a deceased 
person have been brought back by the dogs and pigs of the village to the 
space below the very houses of the relatives. . . . The Land Dayaks have 
very little respect for the bodies of the departed, though they have an intense 
fear of their ghosts." (i. 164.) 

** With the dead offerings are made and animals burnt — pigs in the case 
of the richer people, and fowls, or a part of a fowl only, in that of the poorer." 
(Houghton M. A. S. iii. 199.) Speaking of the Sinar Dyaks Sir James Brooke 
remarks : ** Their dead are burned with a great quantity of wood and cloth, 
rice, etc., and oiie head burnt with them." (Mundy i. 205.) ** Amongst the 
Land Dyaks also some of the personal goods of the deceased are borne with 
the body to the timunjan (the burying or burning place), and hung up for the 
use of the ghost." (Grant, p. 66.) 

Mr. Chalmers writing of the Bombok Dyaks says: ** On the day of the 
death, a man, who has taken upon him the office, carries the body to a fixed 
spot, and there erects a pile and consumes it to ashes. At the burning none 
of the Dyaks are ever present." (Occas. Papers, p. 6.) Mr. Denison 
recollects ** once meeting a Dyak funeral procession on Serambo. The 
sexton or peninuch carried the corpse (wrapped in what appeared a mat) on 
his back, bearing a flaming bamboo torch in his hand, and following him 
came a number of women clothed in white, with dishevelled hair, shrieking 
and crying. How far these latter accompany the corpse I cannot say, but, I 
am led to understand, only to a certain distance from the village, and they are 
not present at the last rites, which are performed by the sexton alone. 
When a funeral takes place, the village (or tompok) is pamali, and as it is 
considered unlucky to meet the procession, the Dyaks generally confine 
themselves to their houses while it passes. The body I learn is burnt or 
buried as soon as possible after death, and over the spot of cremation or 
burial a basket is placed, containing rice and siri-pinang for the ghost of the 
deceased. The above remarks apply to the Sarawak Dyaks." (Denison, 
ch. V. p. 52.) 

" The body, being surrounded and covered with wood, is altogether 
consumed by the flames, the ascent of which, and of the smoke, are carefully 
watched by the assistant relations, who draw from its perpendicular 
direction an augury favourable and satisfactory to them. Should, however, 
the smoke ascend, from wind or other causes, in a slanting manner, they 
depart, assured that the Antu, or spirit, is not yet satisfied ; and that soon, 
one or another of them will become his prey. This, however, gives them but 
little uneasiness ; as death, to their ignorant and unenhghtened minds, 
displays no terror ; and though they shun it with that instinctive fear which 

138 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

is common both to animals and men, they have by no means the dread of the 
King of Terror common to more enlightened nations.*' (Low, p. 262.) 

With regard to Mr. Denison's statement that the Serambo women 
mourners were dressed in white, the same traveller reports of the Sennahs, 
who likewise burn their dead, that *'the women wear a black rambi and some 
that of a brown colour. Formerly a rambi of cane stained yellow was in 
fashion, but this is discontinued, while the red is not much in favour.*' 
(Denison, ch. xi. p. 65.) 


** The Sea Dyaks dispose of their dead by burial. A person having died, 
the manang or medicine man who was in attendance during the sickness is 
charged also with the superintendence of the interment, for which he is paid 
an extra fee. All the able-bodied men in the village turn out to assist the 
bereaved family, as it is expedient, where possible, to bury the same day.'* 
(Brooke Low.) ** Immediately the breath has left the body, the female rela- 
tions commence loud and melancholy laments ; they wash the corpse, and 
dress it in its finest garments, and often, if a man, fully armed, and bear it forth 
to the great common hall, where it is surrounded by its friends to be mourned 
over. In some villages a hireling leads the lament, which is continued till 
the corpse leaves the house. Before this takes place, however, the body is 
rolled up in cloths and fine mats, kept together by pieces of bamboo tied 
on with rattans, and taken to the burial ground.** (St. John i. 58.) ** The 
pendam, as the burial ground is called, is never far away from the village, and 
is always, when practicable, on the side of a hill rising abruptly from the 
river, and is covered with immense trees, which throw a sombre shadow 
across the water. The Dyaks regard it with a superstitious terror as the 
abode of spirits, and never visit it except to deposit their dead, and when 
obliged to do this they never stay longer than they can possibly help, but 
hurry away as soon as their business is dispatched, for fear of meeting with 
ghosts. The consequence is that the place is uncared for ; the graves, 
being shallow and ill-secured, are rummaged by forest animals, and bones 
and skulls strew the ground. The women are not permitted to accompany 
the coffin to the grave, so they raise a dismal wail as it is being carried by 
the men to the river bank, to be conveyed from thence by water to the 
burial ground of the tribe. The women renew the wailing as the funeral 
procession sweeps past the village, and only discontinue it when the boats 
are out of sight.** (Brooke Low.) After describing the death of an Undop, 
Mr. Crossland writes: ** There was no sleeping that night for the wailing, 
which, once heard is never forgotten. I would walk miles to avoid hearing 
it." (Gosp. Miss., 1866, p. 108.) ** When passing a burial ground they 
throw on it something they consider acceptable to the departed.** (St. John 
i. 71.) ** There are certain times when the relatives of a deceased person 
visit his grave, but without there is some special reason, such as a division 
of property among the descendants of the dead, this is but seldom done." 
(Hose, J. A. I., xxiii. 171.) 

It will be remembered Sir Spencer St. John wrote that burning of the 
dead as a custom ceased at the Sadong river. Sir Jas. Brooke thus describes 

The Disposal of the Dead. 139 

a cemetery on this river : " It was situated on the slightly elevated ridge near 
the channel, shaded by fine trees. Each grave was entirely covered by a 
bundle of sticks a foot and a half or two feet in height. These were kept 
together by a transverse cross. On the graves of the men were placed the 
scabbard of their swords, their arm-rings, and other light ornaments, whilst 
over those of the women were hung their waist-rings of rattan : a jar of water 
and food were placed at the head and foot of each, and in a hole amid the 
burying place I saw two skulls ; but they had the appearance of being the 
heads of young persons accidentally disinterred. The Dyaks had never taken 
me before to a burying ground, and I fancied they wished to hurry me from 
this, and appeared unwilling to remain themselves. On the whole, this place 
of interment bore the aspect of neglect." (Mundy i. 219.) " On the other 
hand the Lundus are very scrupulous regarding their cemeteries, paying the 
greatest respect to the graves of their ancestors. When a tribe quits one 
place to reside at another, they exhume the bones of their relations, and take 
them with them." (Marryat, p. 77.) Speaking of a catechist whom he 
buried the Rev. J. Holland writes: ** If the body had been buried in the 
Dyaks' burial ground, it would have been placed upon the ground and covered 
up with a few pieces of wood and left for wild pigs and ants to eat. The 
graves are rarely more than three feet deep, if so much ; they use no hoe or 
spade to turn up the soil with, but cut at it with their choppers, and throw up 
the mould with their hands. They dare not get into the grave to make it 
deeper, but they kneel to it, and lie on the brink, and dig into it as far as 
their arms will reach, and no farther. This they do from a superstitious 
belief that any person stepping into an open grave will die a violent death. 
But before they can commence to excavate at all, a fowl must be killed and 
its blood sprinkled on the ground as well as smeared on the feet of the corpse 
to propitiate Pulang Gana, whose domain they are invading. If they omitted 
to do this, they would incur his serious displeasure, and would die next." 
(Miss. Life, 1875, p. 285.) According to Sir Spencer St. John the Sea Dyaks 
grave is 2^ to 4^ feet deep according to the person's rank ; deeper than 5 feet 
would be unlawful. Whilst this operation is going on, others fell a large 
tree, and cutting off about six feet, split it in two, and then hollow them out 
with an adze. One part serves as the coffin, the other as the lid ; the body 
is placed within, and the two are secured together by means of strips of 
pliable canes bound round them." (St. John i. 59.) ** As soon as the coffin 
is got ready, by their united effort the body is laid in it, dressed in its finest 
apparel, and shrouded from head to foot in a winding sheet of new cloth." 
(Brooke Low.) ** They are often very particular about the dress in which 
they are to be buried. Many of the old Sakarang women have asked Mr. 
Johnson * for handsome jackets to be used after their death for this purpose, 
saying that when they arrived in the other world, they would mention his 
name with respect and gratitude on account of the kindness shown to them 
in this." (St. John i. 59.) ** With the corpse are placed, for use in the next 
world, various articles of clothing, personal ornaments, weapons of warfare and 

* Capt. Johnson, the present Rajah's elder late brother. 

140 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and BriU N, Borneo. 

instruments of music, according to its sex and natural proclivities. Some of 
these things belong to it, others are given to it by friends and relatives as 
tokens of affectionate regard. The grave is then fenced round, food and 
drink are placed in the enclosure, and at either end of it something is put 
indicative of the sex and favourite occupation of the deceased. If the grave 
be that of a warrior it is roofed and curtained and decorated with streamers, 
his weapons and his war-gear (such as are not buried with him) are hung 
about, and the ground around is palisaded and spiked. If that of a hunter his 
blow-pipe and quiver will serve to distinguish it, together with some trophies 
of the chase — stags' antlers, or boars' tusks. The graves of women are 
indicated by some article of feminine occupation or feminine attire, spindles, 
or petticoats, or waist-rings, or water-gourds. The graves of rich persons of 
either sex are distinguished by jars and gongs, secured in their places by 
stakes driven through them."^ (Brooke Low.) Among the Undups " they 
say the braves cannot lie in the same burial ground with the women and that 
is why they die in war." (Crossland, Gosp. Miss., 1871, p. 166.) 

" The Sea Dayaks who have fallen in battle are seldom interred, but a 
paling is put round them to keep away the pigs, and they are left there. 
Those who commit suicide are buried in different places from others, as it is 
supposed that they will not be allowed to mix in the seven-storied Sabayan 
with such of their fellow-countrymen as come by their death in a natural 
manner or from the influences of the spirits." (St. John i. 59.) 

** The bodies of those Sea Dyaks who die from an outpour of blood and 
of women in child-birth, are not allowed to remain in the house, but are 
taken away at once and buried in the earth without ceremony and without a 
coffin. The bones of such are not collected." (Brooke Low.) During the 
present Rajah's great expedition against the Kayans his Dyaks buried their 
dead in the most secret spots, covering their graves over with leaves and dead 
wood, but I subsequently heard the enemy found out the places, and dug the 
bodies up. It is nearly an impossibility to bury so as to prevent Dyaks 
finding out the spot." (Brooke i. 316-317.) 

According to the Milanaus, ** There is a beautiful female spirit, named * Balu 
Adad,' who conducts departed souls to their future abode, but not until the 
three or four days' feasting and cock-fighting is over and the corpse has been 
conveyed to its resting-place. The narrow road leading to Elysium is guarded 
by a ferocious double-headed dog, named * Mawiang,' to whom it is necessary 
to present a valuable bead. This bead is always carefully fastened to the 
right arm of a corpse, with whom are buried gold ornaments, weapons, gongs, 

* " On the death of a chief or rajah, they dress him out in his war habiliments, and carry him 
to the grave (after keeping him in the house a certain time according to his rank, seldom longer than 
ten days) on a large litter enveloped in white cloth ; they lay the body in a place prepared, without 
a coffin ; by his side are deposited his arm<«. particularly his shield, spear, and mandow ; a quantity 
of rice and fruit are likewise enclosed with other such articles of food as the deceased was most 
partial to ; the grave is then closed up ; a high mound raised ; and this is encircled with strong 
bamboo, upon which fresh heads are placed as the most acceptable ofTering to the deceased. No 
warrior would dare to appear before the family of the chief without at least one head as a consolatory 
present ; these are thickly studded round the grave and occasionally renewed during the first year or 
two, the old ones being considered the property of the succeeding chief." (Dalton, p. 53.) 

The Disposal of the Dead, 141 

and rich clothes for use in the other world, and at whose tomb it was formerly 
the practice to bind a slave, or sometimes as many as ten slaves, who were 
left thus miserably to die, that their spirits might wait upon their master." 
De Crespigny, J. A. I. v. 35.) 

Rice, tobacco, and betel nut are also cast in, as they believe they ** may 

prove useful in the other world, or as it is called by them Sabayan. It was 

I an old custom, but now perhaps falling somewhat into disuse, to place money, 

I gold and silver ornaments, clothes, and various china and brass utensils in 

! the grave ; but these treasures were too great temptations to those Malays 

\ who were addicted to gambling; and the rifling of the place of interment 

has often given great and deserved offence to the relations. As it is almost 

' impossible to discover the offenders, it is now the practice to break in pieces 

all the utensils placed in the grave, and to conceal as carefully as possible the 

valuable ornaments. The whole tribe of the Lundu Sibu}'aus was thrown 

into a great state of excited indignation on finding that some Malays had 

opened the place of interment of the old Orang Kaya Tumanggong of Lundu, 

and stolen the valuable property. This was the chief who was so firm a 

friend of the Europeans, and whose name is so often mentioned in former 

works on Borneo."" (St. John i. 58.) At the Siratok court (Batang Lupar) 

in Oct., 1894, six Malays were convicted of robbing Dyak graves, having been 

in search of valuable jars." (S. G. 1894, p. 201.) 

Mr. C. Hose says on the Baram : " The articles of clothing and weapons 
deposited with the dead, are of the highest value, no broken or damaged 
^ article being deemed worthy of a place in the grave, as they wish the spirit of 

the deceased to appear to advantage on his arrival in the other world, and 
from this it appears the belief is entertained that the articles are actually 
used." (J. A. I. xxiii. 166.) ** Among the Tamudok Dyaks, Bauja is the 
term by which they designate the things which they bury with the dead, such 
as personal dress, ornaments, and jars, and as Ndawi had a copy of the Dyak 
prayer book, and St. Matthew's Gospel, these were put in the coffin with the 
body. Bauja has two meanings ; first the things thus buried, or as they say 
given to the dead, are supposed to be of use to them in another world just 
as they are here ; and, in the next place, they are regarded as tokens of 
affection to the departed. I ought to have said that such articles as jars are 
not buried with the corpse but put on or near the grave. ... I have 
known a young boy strip off from his body his own scanty clothing to give it 
to his little dead brother about to be carried to the tomb." (Miss. Field, 
1874, p. 313.) On account of this ** custom of burying such valuable 
property as above described with the bodies of their deceased relations, it 
^ frequently happens that a father, unfortunate in his family, is, by the death of 

his children, reduced to poverty." (Low, p. 204.) 

Sir Jas. Brooke says that the Sentahs put with their dead ** various 
articles in the grave, such as spears, cloths, rice, ciri, betel, and the head 
which the party first gained during his lifetime." (Mundy i. 204.) It will be 
remembered the Sentahs live on the Samarahan river where burning and 
burying customs are both in vogue. 

* See also Keppel i. 258, who practically gives a similar account of this desecration. 

142 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo, 

Mr. T. S. Chapman was an eye-witness to a Sea Dyak funeral and thus 
describes it : ** A Kalaka Dyak named Naggar, a friend and follower of mine 
for years, the kindest in the sick-room and the bravest on every expedition, 
was killed in the late attack on Bangkit. His body was enclosed in an air- 
tight coffin and brought back, and it was my painful but willing duty to follow 
it to its last resting place, the ceremony which I witnessed and part of which 
I shared was as fpUows : As the deceased formerly lived in the Awit river (a 
tributary of the Krian), it was determined to inter him there in the cemetery 
set apart for the remains of brave Dyaks who fall in battle. To that place we 
proceeded by water, a procession of boats, the one containing the corpse 
coming last : scarcely a word was spoken, and the wailing from the women in 
the house we had just left rose with painful thrilling note as we passed on. 
At length we reached the cemetery, where the fine old jungle trees grow down 
to the edge of the rocky river, and leaning over their high parasite laden 
branches meet over head and make a pleasant sylvan spot. On approaching 
the place we were warned to walk carefully as the ground in the vicinity was 
stuck with bamboo spikes surrounding old graves of deceased braves. Having 
chosen a site, we dug the grave, which in the case of a warrior is only three 
feet or three feet six inches in depth, and the coffin draped with gold 
embroidered cloths and the Sarawak flag was brought up and laid along, and 
pieces of wood placed across the mouth, and then followed a very harrowing 
scene. The brother of the deceased, a fine strapping young Dyak who had 
borne up well hitherto, at last broke down. It was his duty, aided by his 
father, to take off some of the trapping or pall from the coffin before it was 
lowered, and also to break his lost brother's spears and place them with his 
silver-mounted sword and sundry other personal effects in the grave. This 
was too much for him ; trembling with excessive anguish of grief, he poured 
out lamentation upon lamentation ; and, literally bathed in tears, he called 
upon his brother to hear him, * Oh Naggar, Naggar, do you hear my voice ? 
I cannot leave you ! ' Then pausing for a while he would go on with his 
work, telling us in broken accents, interrupted with deep drawn sobs, of his 
brother's deeds in war and at home, dwelling upon his kindness and bravery, 
and so on, until another burst of grief would well up and paralyze him. The 
bereaved father, a fine old man, went stolidly and silently about his work 
without shedding a tear, his woe begone face and quivering lip told however 
of his deep sorrow ; once only he spoke, when all was ready, and I had 
covered the coffin all over with the Sarawak flag, and it was lowered into its 
shallow grave, then he cried out once, * Oh Naggar ! my son, my son ! ' That 
was all. And so we covered up the remains of my poor friend and placed at 
his feet a jar I had provided, and at his head his shield ; over him we hung 
mosquito curtains, a bundle of bamboo spikes and poisoned arrows, then 
fenced the grave with stout stakes and covered it with kajangs. A mimic 
Dyak fortification was then built with queer little bamboo cannons pointing 
over the spiked ground. I led the brother away, who seemed quite unmanned 
and faint, and did my best to comfort him, telling him the old sweet story of 
Dulce et decorum est pro patrta mort, for Naggar died like a true warrior, 
receiving his death wound full in front fighting in the van of battle. I bade 

The Disposal of the Dead. 143 

him cheer up, but his is a deep sorrow which only time can soften or erase. 
When all was concluded, those present held a funeral feast on the other side 
of the river, but feeling unfit to join them I excused myself and left." (T. S. 
Chapman, S.G. No. 30.) 

Lying in State. 

We have referred above to the presentation to his friends of the deceased 

dressed in his best apparel. This curious custom is described by Sir James 

Brooke as existing among the Kayans : " When a man dies, his friends and 

relatives meet in the house, and take their usual seats around the room. The 

deceased is then brought in attired in his best clothes, with a cigar fixed in the 

mouth, and being placed on the mat in the same manner as he would have 

arranged himself when alive, his betel-box by his side. The friends go through 

the forms of conversing with him, and offer him the best advice concerning his 

future proceedings, and then, having feasted, the body is deposited in a large 

coffin. At the end of this time, the friends and relatives again assemble, and 

the coffin is taken out, and deposited on a high pole or tree in a particular 

direction. The deceased, during the procession, is repeatedly cautioned to 

beware he does not lose his way : — * Follow the road (they say) till it branches 

in three directions ; be careful in selecting the centre path, for this will 

conduct you to your own country, whilst that to the right leads to Borneo,* 

and that to the left to the sea.* After many similar cautions, the coffin Is 

deposited, and the assembly separates." (Mundy i. 265.) 

This custom is also described by Mr. Hatton (Diary, April 12), who writing 
among the Dusuns (?) at Koligan, says : ** There was a dead man at one of 
the houses here, and I went to see him. He was placed in a sitting posture 
dressed in all the things he had ; a cigarette was being held to his mouth ; 
and a brass box containing betel, &c., was open before him. His friends were 
seated around, and were telling the dead man not to go to the right or the 
left, as they were the wrong roads, but to keep straight ahead and * that is the 
way to Kinabalu.' This ceremony lasts one day and one night and the next 
day the man is buried with all his belongings." 

** Some of the sub-tribes of the Milanaus, after the death of a chief of 
notoriety, dress the corpse in best clothes, with every decoration of gold 
about his person. The sword, and all of the available necessaries of life, are 
also attached to him. He is then placed on an elevated platform, as a living 
being, and becomes a public spectacle in the house. His immediate family 
take up their seats around him, his slaves attend to his imagined wants with 
the fan, sirih, and betel-nut. On such an occasion the house is opened to 
all visitors ; the women, both old and young, form a line on one side and the 
men on the other ; then they romp together with the noise and confusion of a 
pack of maniacs. These games are carried on for some days, and long after the 
corpse is in a state of decomposition it is properly buried or placed in order 
to obtain the bones on a future day.'* (Brooke i. 77.) 

Mr. Chas. Hose, on the Baram river, likewise reports the custom : ** I was 
once present when the corpse of a boy was being placed in the coffin, and I 
watched the proceedings from a short distance. As the lid of the coffin was 

* Bruni. 

144 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N, Borneo. 

being closed an old man came out on the verandah of the house with a large 

gong (Tetawak) and solemnly beat it for several seconds. The chief, who was 

sitting near, informed me that this was always done before 

closing the lid, that the relations of the deceased who had 

already passed out of this world might know that the spirit 

was coming to join them : and 

upon his arrival in *Apo Leggan ' 

they would probably greet him 

in such terms as these: *0 

grand-child, it was for you the 

gong was beating which we 

heard just now ; what have you 

brought ? How are they all up Degenerated Soul Boat. S.E. Borneo. J nat. size. 
, •^ rv .t . (Leiden Mus.) 

above ? Have they sent any 

messages ?* The new arrival then delivers the messages entrusted to him, 
and gives the cigarettes as proofs of the truth of what he says. These 
cigarettes retain the smell of the hands which made them, which the dead 
relations are able to recognise." (Geog. Jour., i. 198.) 

Mr. Brooke Low when ascending the Rejang river reported that he saw 
at a ** Kajaman*s death the body (that of a man) lay in state inside a 
mosquito curtain on a raised dais in the verandah. The curtain was flung 
open for all to see. The dead man was propped up so as to assume the 
position of a person sitting up in bed ;, his legs were stretched straight before 
him, and his chin was held up by a cloth band ; his coffin lay outside ready 
to receive him ; his weapons and other gear hung round the curtain. His 
wife sat by his side fanning his face and sobbing the while.'' 

The body of a beloved chief is occasionally kept a considerable time 

above ground. Bishop Chambers, one of the first to visit the Skarang Dyaks' 

houses, says; *' One of these is the house of the immediate followers of 

the late Orang Kaya Gassing, the renowned leader of the Sakarang tribe, and 

friend of the Sarawak Government. His survivors have never buried the 

corpse, but still preserve it in a little house built near their own, where it is 

continually fed according to their custom. So great is their regard for him 

that they cannot bring themselves to leave it entirely, but whenever they 

remove to other farm lands, it is removed along with them."^ (Miss. Field, 

1869, p. 107.) 

Soul Boats. 

** The Kanowits follow the Milanau custom of sending much of a dead 
man's property adrift in a frail canoe on the river: they talk of all his 
property, but this is confined to talk. 

** We heard so much of the deceased chiefs goods, which were to be 
thrown away, as it is considered they belong to the departed and not to those 
who remain, that we went to the place where they lay. We found a soft of 
four-sided bier erected, covered with various coloured cloths, and within it 
his bride-widow lay moaning and wailing, surrounded by his favourite arms, 

' Mr. Hupe mentions a case in which the body of a chief was kept fourteen months in its coffin 
in a house before it was buried. The funeral lasted ten days and cost about 600 florins. The son 
had taken offence and had declined to return, and hence the body could not be buried, (p. 546.) 

The Disposal of the Dead. I45 

his gongs, his ornaments, and all that he considered valuable. Among his 
treasures was the handle of a kris, representing the figure of Budha in the 
usual sitting posture, which they said had descended to them from their 
ancestors. As I expected, these valuables were not sent adrift, but merely a 
few old things, that even sacrilegious strangers would scarcely think worth 
plundering.*' (St. John.) *' The Malanaus build picturesque boats, decorated 
with flags and other embellishments, which are dedicated to the use of 
departed spirits, who are supposed to travel in them on their marine 
migrations. These crafts are placed near their graves. Another very absurd 
practice (now obsolete) was to drift the deceased's sword, eatables, clothes, 
jars — and often in former days a slave woman accompanied these articles, 
chained to the boat — out to sea, with a strong ebb-tide running, in order 
that the deceased might meet with these necessaries in his upward flight.'' 
The unfortunate woman falls a sacrifice to this barbarous proceeding, and 
in many cases the Malays plunder the goods and obtain a slave free of 
expense. (Brooke i. 77.) 

The funeral of Palabun's brother is thus described by Bishop McDougall : 
'' The women kept up dismal weepings during the night. In the morning I 
went to see the young chief s things laid out out preparatory to their being sent 
on their fruitless journey after him. They were all arranged under a canopy 
made of his sarongs. Two were of rich gold cloth (value about fifty dollars 
each), and the rest of his wardrobe was disposed under it, so as to represent a 
corpse on a bier, the gold ornaments alone, consisting of large buttons, a 
breast-plate, and a very rich and handsome kris handle of ancient Javanese 
or Indian manufacture, representing a figure of Budda, cannot be worth less 
than two hundred dollars ; besides this there were gongs and two brass guns. 
Two women were lying by the bier on either side the effigy, and the father 
(a very old man) sat beside it watching, the women every now and then 
raising a mournful howl. In three days these things will be launched down 
the river in a boat made for the purpose, and if any one were known to 
touch it he would be slain. If the body had been recovered, it would have 
been launched with its former property in the boat. This is the invariable 
mode of burial with the Milanows. The general fate of these funeral barks 
is to get capsized, when the things all go to the bottom ; but should a Malay 
happen to fall in with such a treasure he would not scruple to appropriate it, 
and of this Palabun was doubtless aware, as he took care not to send away 
his brother's property until we had left the river." (Mrs. McDougall, p. 163.) 

** On another occasion, seeing a boat rolling in a heavy sea, I bore down, 
thinking I saw a fellow sitting astern and apparently paddling. This was one 
of their death-boats, but there was so much sea on that I was obliged to leave 
her." (McDougall, T.E.S., ii. 32.) 

Mr. Crocker says of these people : ** When a man of property dies sago 
trees are cut down with the belief that they will be found ready-grown for the 
owner's use in the other world. An elaborately got up prahu, or small ship, 
is carved out of the sago palm and decorated with flags ; this is placed near 
the grave, and is to be reproduced in the next world in the shape of a large 
schooner, anchored off" the departed spirit's abode, ready for use, &c." He 

146 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

also confirms what Mr. De Crespigny says about the Balu Adad and Mawiang, 
&c. (Proc. Roy. Geogr. Soc. 1881, p. 200.) 

Mr. Crocker likewise furnishes us with the following graphic account of 
the wailing at a Milanau funeral : — "After death the body is kept in the house 
three days, during which time feasting and cock-fighting is kept up amongst 
the men and crj^^ing amongst the women. Paid criers are called in . . . 
The insect world in the surrounding jungle stopped their cries, all 
nature seemed hushed, quietness reigned over the village, and there was 
scarcely a breath of air to break a stillness so solemn that not a leaf rustled. 
After enjoying a smoke I feel asleep. About midnight I was startled by a* 
howl, so dismal that all the dogs joined chorus ; the noise increased, and 
from the number of lights I saw flitting about ashore I concluded (as I after- 
wards found correctly) that nearly all the people were collecting at one house 
to join in the mournful yelling which made night hideous. The cause of this 
disturbance was a death. Whether their grief be real or not I cannot say, 
but this I know, being awoke in the middle of the night in the solitudes of 
the Bornean jungles by a wail so wierd and heart-rending, my mind, being 
acted on by the peculiar situation, received impressions of the solemnity of this 
custom which it will take years to erase. Next day they sang a wild chant 
over the body. The grief of the mother continued throughout the day. I 
hear the relations on these occasions often throw themselves out of their 
houses and try to do themselves serious bodily harm, so entirely do they give 
themselves up to grief.** (S. G., No. 121.) 


** Any Sea Dyak whom it is intended especially to honour is not buried 
underground, but his coffin is placed in a miniature house built for him on 
piles some eight or ten feet high, with a railing round it. Wise men and 
women are treated in this fashion, that is to say, such wise persons as are 
reputed to be more cunning than their fellows by reason of their superior 
knowledge of the stars, the Pleiades in particular, by which the)' regulate the 
season for rice cultivation.** (Brooke Low.) ** Among the Sea Dayaks, 
should a man express a wish to share the privilege of the priest and be, like 
them, exposed on a raised platform, the relations are bound to comply with 
this request.** (St. John i. 57.) 

On the Rejang River : ** The bodies of the Dians and Batas, who 
formerly ruled in Baloi, rest in chambers of iron-wood. The salong, as it is 
called, is a Kayan institution, and foreign to the River Rejang. The klirieng, 
on the other hand, is indigenous. The former is a miniature house of 
iron-wood, built upon piles of the same material, with a single chamber large 
enough to contain the coffins of the chief, his brothers and sisters, his family 
and their families. The klirieng is either a single or double pillar, carved 
from top to bottom with niches up its side for the bodies of slaves and 
followers, and hollow at the top to receive the jar which contains the bones 
of the chief for whom it is raised. The pillar is covered with a heavy stone 
slab. One of the best salongs is built upon nine huge posts, three deep ; the 
six side posts are 23 feet above ground, the two end posts which support the 

The Disposal of the Dead. 147 

roof-tree 26 feet. The floor of the chamber is 18 feet above the ground, and 

the chamber itself is 13 x 12 feet. This salong differs from other salottgs in 

having, besides, a centre 

above the floor bat not 

it is, in fact, a klirieitg 

hollow towards the top, 

side. I shifted the yellow 

it, and saw the jar, a 

and the walling were thi 

post of 7 feet girth rising 
reaching up to the roof! 
within a salong, being 
but with aperture on one 
curtain which hung over 
valuable one; between it 
personal effects and 
funeral gifts — mats, baskets and weapons. The pillar 
outside was furnished with handles, upon which hung 
boys' nose flutes and 
lutes. There were four 
coflins in the chamber, 
and the debris of others 
littered the floor. There ' 
were paddles and 
shields up against the 
walling. The roof is 
Model formed of tiVwtt planks, 

or double pillar, carved and cannot be prised 
Xb^v^.V;'^mr °P^"- It is 27 feet long 
tiiar>- chamber in the at its greatest length. 
hollow top -The chamber is pro- 

iBrookc Low Coll.) . , . , *^ 

Vided With a door at iBrooke Low Coll.i 

one end, and is fastened from the inside. Faces of hideous demons are 
carved upon the posts, with cups for eyes. On the ridge of the roof is an 
enormous wooden dragon, and the rafters (five on each side) all end in a carved 
monster called Aso, defying description. The 
bodies of slaves and faithful followers were 
placed upon scaffolds under the floor and 
l)etween the posts side by side with the war 
boat of the chief. In front of the mausoleum 
is a pointed stake, 16 feet above ground, 
upon which human heads were stuck and 
prisoners impaled. Another salong is not so 
well preserved, but Is larger and more mas- 
sive. The chamber is 14 x 13 feet, the posts 
are 12 in number, three deep, but four in a 
row. The eight outside posts are 22 feet 
above the ground, and the two end ones 26 
feet ; the centre ones do not pierce the floor. 
It was formerly the practice to drive the 
principal post into the earth through the 
body of a living captive or slave, a custom 
in force in some parts. A Kajaman 
double klirieng, the best in all Baloi, has the 

H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

following dimensions : the pillars are 
carved from top to bottom and capped 
with a ponderous stone slab ; they are 
both of the same height and stand 32 
feet above the ground. The girth of one 
is 11 feet 7J inches, that of the other 
6 feet 11^ inches." 

Mr. Hose stumbled across a coffin in 
an unexpected way ; " We spent the night 
in the house of one Avan Avit, also a 
Barawan. Being somewhat fatigued we 
retired early ; and it was not until the 
next morning that I discovered, at the 
head of my bed, a large box which I had 
not noticed the night before, and which 
proved to be a coffin ; and on inquiry I 
was informed that it contained the mortal 
remains of the chiefs wife. As this may 
appear strange, I may as well explain that 
it was the custom of these people to keep 

MoDBL OF Bak* Narev Tomb, Sendonx tulang. 

for preserving the ashes of cremated bodies. 

(From Dutch Borneo. Leiden Mu«.) 

a corpse in the house for three 
months before burying it. They 
make a large coflin of soft wood, 
and decorate it with various 
colours, obtained from the juice of 
roots, the whole being elaborately 
carved. The lid of this coffin is 
rendered air-tight with a resinous 
substance procured from many 
of the Borneo forest trees, and 
generally known as dammar. A 
bamboo about 20 feet long and 3 
inches in diameter is then prepared 
by boring through the joints, so as 
to form it into what it is really 
intended for, a sort of drainpipe. 
One end of this pipe is driven into 
the ground, the other end is 
brought through the floor of the 

The Disposal of the Dead. 149 

house, and inserted in the bottom of the coffin. During the first week, 
after the body has been placed in the coffin, a large torch is kept burning 
day and night at the head and foot. After about three months a mauso- 
leum is prepared, which is made of hard wood called billian, and raised 
about 12 feet off the ground on two massive pillars carved with various 
artistic designs, and figures of men and women. The body is then 
removed from the house and conveyed with much ceremony to this tomb. 
Everyone present sends one or more cigarettes made of native tobacco, 
wrapped in the dried leaves of the wild banana {Pisang Uian) to their dead 
relatives in Apo Leggan (Hades). These cigarettes are placed on the top and 
around the coffin ; and, should the body be that of a man, his weapons, tools, 
and a small quantity of rice, with his priok (cooking-pot), are deposited in the 
tomb with him that he may be able to continue his daily pursuits in the other 
world. But if of a woman, her large sun-hat, her little hoe — lused for weeding 
in the paddy fields — her beads, earrings, and other finery are placed with her 
body, that she may not be found wanting on her arrival the other side of the 
grave. The earrings are especially important." (Geogr. Journ. i. 197.) 

" On the Rejang River the Kiiiahs use neither the kliriefig nor the salong, 
but a mortuary edifice of their own. The coffin with the body in it is placed 
on a hard wood platform elevated upon two iron-wood pillars, and is covered 
with a semi-cylinder of the same material. Underneath the floor the boy's 
(Awen's son) things are hanging together with other things put there by his 
friends for his use in the world of spirits — war costumes, every-day clothing, 
weapons, a hurricane lamp, and a bottle of kerosine. 

** In Kajaman territory some coffins were slung upon a tree, the leaves of 
which had been plucked and replaced by strips of coloured cloth, which gave 
it a festive appearance. The coffin is always treated in this manner after the 
bones have been removed. It is perched upon a branch and either falls to 
pieces in the process of. time or is carried away by the first big fresh." 
(Brooke Low.) 

** The Sibuyows and Balows, and some of the Land Dyaks also, do not 
bum tbeir dead ; however, they place the bodies of the departed in canoes or 
coffins, or simply wrap them in white cloth and mats, and then bury them in 
graves, or, in certain cases, hang them among the branches of particular 
trees ; various articles of apparel, arms, and valuables, frequently to a large 
amount, being deposited with them, and offerings to the guardian spirit, or 
the ghost of the departed, placed near the grave." (Grant, p. 66.) 

"In some of the birds' nest caves mouldering coffins are to be seen, 
rudely carved with grotesque figures, said to have been deposited there in 
bygone days by the old Sabahans : many of them are on ledges of rock at 
considerable elevations." (W. B. Pryer, J.A.I. , xvi. 232.) 

Embalming, if such it be, is mentioned by Mr. Dalrymple (p. 45) : ** It is 
reported [of the Dusuns] if a chief of their enemies be taken, his body is 
embalmed with camphor, and his eyes being taken out, two couries are placed 
in the sockets and his arms extended, thus forming a dismal spectacle." The 
custom is also mentioned by Mr. Pryer: "One of the customs of the 
Tunbunwhas [Dusuns, worth mentioning is that of embalming the dead : 

150 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. ^^ Borneo. 

this is done with the valuable Borneo camphor, abundant in the woods 
in their neighbourhood, more particularly on the Kina Batungan; it is 
worth some 60/- or 80/- a pound ; the coffins are hewn out of a solid piece of 
billean (ironwood), and are of considerable value.** (J.A.I, xvi. 235.) 

'* At a Kyan grave on the Rejang River at the foot of a tree I saw the 
body, according to custom, exposed on a raised platforni ; the skull had 
dropped on the ground, the bones were on the scaffolding, and the personal 
effects hung around.'* (Brooke Low.) i 

" Captain Mundy was much struck by the simplicity and beauty of the ^ 

tombs of the Dyaks.*^ They were generally erected on rising ground, in 
lovely spots, surrounded by creepers and flowering shrubs, a hundred yards 
from the buildings ; they were of an oblong form, composed of wooden 
planks, standing about twelve feet from the ground on piles, and covered with 
a sloping roof of the branches of the sago palm ; strips of broad bark were 
attached according to fancy on the gables, having various devices rudely 
painted upon them.** (ii. 21Q.) 

Mr. Burbidge came across a stone circle which represented a Dusun 
emergency burial ground. ** One place was pointed out to me where thirty 
men and their chief had been slaughtered together and their heads taken, 
only a few years ago. This was at a ford near Sineroup, and a rude circle of 
stones still marks the spot where the bodies were interred ; all the stones are 
single except that which represents the chief, which has a smaller stone on its 
apex. I find the custom of marking burial places with erect stones very ^ 

common among these people." (p. 287.) 

Lieut, de Crespigny was present at the death of a Dusun woman : " All 
the people gathered round her and commenced a howling chorus which 
emulated that of a troop of their own dogs and which was continued until the 
spirit had fled.** (Proc. Roy. Geogr. Soc. ii. 349.) 

Jars. — The Final Deposits. 

A very wide-spread custom of the natives of the island of Borneo is that 
of depositing the relics of their dead in a jar. ** The Aborigines^ generally 
bury their dead near their houses, erecting over the graves little sheds, 
adorned, in the case of chiefs, with bright coloured clothes, umbrellas, etc. 
I once went to see the lying-in-state of a deceased Datoh, who had been dead 
nine days. On entering the house I looked about for the corpse in vain, till 
my attention was drawn to an old earthen jar, tilted slightly forward, on the 
top of the old Chiefs goods — his sword, spear, gun, and clothing. In this jar 
were the Datoh*s remains, the poor old fellow having been doubled up, head 
and heels together, and forced through the mouth of the vessel, which was 
about two feet in diameter. The jar itself was about four feet high. Over 
the corpse was thickly sprinkled the native camphor, and the jar was closed 
with a piece of buffalo hide, well sealed over with gum dammar. They told 
us the Datoh was dressed in his best clothes and had his pipe with him, but 

«As this was on the Mambakut River (Kimanis Bay) it is doubtful whether the people 
are Dyaks. 

^ Mr. Treacher is speaking of the Dusuns. 

The Disposal of the Dead, 151 

nothing else. He was to be buried that day in a small grave excavated near 
the house, just large enough to contain the jai*, and a buffalo was being killed 
and intoxicating drink prepared for the numerous friends and followers who 
were flocking in for the wake. Over his grave cannon would be fired to 
arouse the spirits, who were to lead him to Kinabalu, the people shouting out, 
' Turn neither to the right nor to the left, but proceed straight to Kinabalu ' — 
the sacred mountain, where are collected the spirits of all good Dusuns, 
under, I believe, the presidency of a great spirit, known as Kinaringan." 
(Treacher, Jour. Straits Asiatic Soc, No. 21, p. 103.) 

Mr. Whitehead gives a somewhat different account: — "The Dusuns bury 
their dead at no great distance from the campong — in Melangkap, at one end 
of the village green. The graves are at first hung round with the personal 
property of the departed — the clothes, small chopper, and the bamboo basket 
every Dusun carries at his back ; the garments are left till they rot away. I 
have seen jars half-sunken in the earth over some graves, but after a time 
these are removed, and there is nothing left to show the Dusun's last 
resting-place. Small children are occasionally buried under the houses." 
(p. III.) The same author also states: — **The Murut burial customs are 
rather interesting. The corpse is for the first year potted ; the dead body is 
doubled up, the knees to the chin, and placed in a large jar, the jar being 
carefully broken to admit it, and afterwards tied together with rattans and 
cemented, the top being secured by a plate, also cemented down. As this 
human jam-pot is kept in the roof of the house until the bones alone remain, 
it is necessary to drain off the liquid parts ; this is done by inserting a long 
bamboo pipe through the bottom of the jar into the ground below. After the 
bones are dry they are placed in a smaller jar and buried.'*'* (p. 73.) 

** As I have advanced into the country I have noticed many clearings on 
the ridges of the highest hills — perhaps fifty yards in length. It is in these 
places that the bones of their chief men rest. As far as I understand their 
ways, they place the corpse in a sort of box, fashioned sometimes like the 
body of a deer, or what a Murut fancies is a resemblance, until all the flesh is 
dissolved from the bones ; these are then placed in a jar, and left on the lofty 
spots I have mentioned. I noticed many of these jars in my forced march 
from Molu, above the sites of the old Tabun villages, and to the intense 
disgust of my guide they were found broken, and the skulls extracted by the 
marauding Kayans. I lately, also, discovered one near my house with the 
bones nearly dissolved. It was most probably buried there before the 
Borneans turned Mahomedans, as no Murut s have lived on the hills near 
the capital since, at least so says tradition. It was found a couple of hundred 
yards from the site of the old East India Company's factory, which was 
abandoned about eighty or ninety years ago. The poor men are said to have 

^ Mr. Whitehead continues : " Whether this custom originated from the fear of the desecration 
of the graves by enemies I am unable to say ; but as the Muruts have even journeyed to Labuan and 
stolen the skulls from the cemetery, it is not improbable that they are afraid of the same thing 
happening to their dead." (p. 73.) But regarding this theft he is incorrect in attributing it to the 
Muruts, for Mr. Treacher very distinctly states when speaking of this desecration of the European 
graves on Labuan : " The perpetrators of these outrages have never been discovered, notwithstanding 
the most stringent enquiries." (Brit. Borneo, p. 146.) 

152 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

their bones buried, while the chiefs have theirs added to those of their 
ancestors. I hear the Milanaus follow a custom somewhat similar. When a 
chief dies, they place the body in a shed with a raised floor, and cover it over 
with sand : they leave it there, till all the dissolvable parts have run through 
the open flooring, and when the remains are perfectly dry, they collect and 
place them in a jar. All the relations and friends are then summoned, and 
they feast and rejoice for seven days." (St. John ii. 129.) 

Mr. Denison confirms the custom among the Milanos: — "In this country 
when an aged Milano is sick unto death, and no hope remains of his recovery, 
it is the custom for the nearest relative to present the dying person with a 
shroud, generally a gold-cloth. Among the northern tribes it is the custom 
at this crisis for friends of the dying person to present the nearest relation — 
husband, wife, or child — with small tokens of affection, such as a piece of 
black cloth, tobacco, &c. The corpse is invariably kept in the house until it 
is far advanced in decomposition — from ten days to a fortnight — and then, if 
it can be squeezed into a jar, this is done at once, if not, the corpse is put up 
a tree or covered with stones until it is reduced in dimensions." (Jour. 
Straits Asiatic Soc, No. 10, p. 184.) 

And Mr. Crocker, also writing of the Milanos, says : ** When a chief dies 
the body is allowed to decay, and the remains are placed in a jar, which is 
deposited in a large tree or post, hollowed out for the purpose. These 
mausoleums are usually made of bilian, or ironwood ; they are sometimes of 
immense size and elaborately carved, and, as the wood is almost imperishable, 
graves and monuments are still extant which can be traced back for genera- 
tions." (Proc. R. Geogr. Soc, 1881, p. 200.) 

** There are a couple of tombs underneath this house [at Limbawan] . It 
is the custom here to bury the dead either in that position or immediately 
outside the doors. Thus Limba-wan is the metropolis of Nabai and its 
necropolis at the same time. ... It has been so far impossible to learn 
what induces these people to utilise their shanties as sepulchral structures. 
Fears of skull hunters has nothing to do with it.** ... If the burial 
custom arose out of charity to the dead, those tombs would not be so 
neglected as they are : soon after burial the covering earth, held up by a few 
staves of soft wood, is allowed to slip off, and the jar to lie all but open. 
Many a grazing buffalo breaks through that crust of pottery, and the pigs root 
as if they were hyenas." (Witti, Diary, 18 March.) 

** A Skapan coffin I once saw was canoe-shaped, carved, and painted ; 
the bottom was filled with ashes upon which the body was laid with the hair 
hanging over the side for the mother to look at, and the lid sealed down with 
pitch to keep in the smell. The coffin was set in one corner of the room, and 
over it hung the belongings of the dead person. It was kept for a year or 
more and then carried out into the open air, when the lid was prised open and 
the bones collected for burial in a jar. 

* " Subsequently we found that all the other Pagalan tribes bury their dead at a reasonable 
distance outside the village. The lonely Dyak grave is rather a peculiarity of its jungle. In Dalit 
you see certain tombs raised on poles above the ground ; that arrangement shows that the party died 
of blow -pipe poison." {ihid.) 

The Disposal of the Dead. 153 

** On the Rejang river I met a funeral procession of a Punan on the 
water. The boats, three in number, carrying their precious burden, the bones 
of the Punan in a jar, were lashed together ; the company was composed of a 
dozen women and some eighteen men, and the centre boat carried in her 
bows a tree, the branches of which flare with streamers, red and yellow, black 
and white. The jar was deposited in the hollow at the top of the pillar, and 
a trophy of flags was planted on a mound by the waterside, a few hundred 
yards away." (Brooke Low.) 

" Death in a Murut family is an occasion for horrible wailing and 
moaning ; the women sit in the verandah of the house opposite the door of 
the deceased's room, with their heads covered with cloths, and sing a most 
mournful dirge, with intervals for sobs and cries, whilst the men call on their 
friends to drink. The nearest relatives shave their heads ; this custom adds 
much to the ugliness of the women. The mode of burial depends much on 
the status of the deceased. In the case of a slave, he or she is just buried 
as a dog would be ; if, on the contrary, the head of a house or any one of 
property dies, the body is placed in an old jar, often of the value of 100 dollars 
or more. A description of this process was sent to the Gazette some years 
ago, but it will make this paper a little more complete if described again. 
The corpse is first tied up in such a manner that the elbows and knees rest 
against the chest, and is then placed in the jar, which has been previously 
prepared by being cut at its widest circumference, the top forming a cover. 
A hole about four inches in diameter is cut out of the bottom, into which a 
bamboo pipe is fitted. The cover being put on, the mouth of the jar is 
closed with a china bowl and the whole is sealed with a gutta-like substance 
made by crushing the bark of a tree called by the Muruts ' Palabang.' The 
Kaladi is sometimes used for this purpose also. The next process is to cover 
the whole of the jar with bright red cloth, often edged with gold tinsel. 
Small pieces of wood carved in curious shapes are inserted here and there in 
the cord which binds the cloth round the jar, these being charms. Some- 
times the jar is placed just outside the door of the deceased's room, his 
parang, shield, umbrella, cooking-pots, gongs, &c., being hung about all 
round. In the former case a staging is erected a few yards from the house, 
the floor being about 5 feet from the ground and the roof about 4 feet higher. 
On this staging the jar is placed, and the bamboo pipe is fixed into the bottom 
of it, the other end terminating in a hole in the earth. The reason of this 
arrangement is to allow all the decomposing flesh to run into the earth. In 
the latter case it is simply placed about 2 feet from the floor of the house 
and tied securely against the wall, the pipe, as before, passing through the 
floor. When jars cannot be afforded wooden coffins are used, and these are 
mostly placed in little huts a short distance from the house. Generally a 
long box is used, but on one occasion I came across one in a house some 
distance up country which was so grotesque that a separate description is 
given below. After a period ranging from one to (some say) as many as ten 
years, though generally about two, the last rites are performed, the relatives 
giving a big feast, for which buffaloes and pigs are killed and quantities of 
arrack brewed. The jar containing the corpse, or rather skeleton, is taken 

154 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N, Borneo. 

down and opened, the bones cleaned, transferred to a smaller jar, and finally 
buried in the graveyard amidst firing of guns and apparently much rejoicing. 
These ceremonies nearly always take place after the harvest as the Muruts 
are then better supplied with the wherewithal for feasts. Widowers and 
widows cannot marry again until these last rites have been performed. The 
coffin above referred to was about seven feet long over all and made to 
represent a bird with a tail like a fish ; the body was painted with a curious 
design in red, black, and white, above and below were attached flat pieces of 
wood running along the length of the body and about three inches deep, the 
upper was white with a row of little figures joining hands, the lower had a 
number of tassels hanging from it ; the head was ornamented with small 
white squares with black dots in the centre of each, and the beak ended in 
a ball painted black ; the wings were partly in stripes and partly in dots in 
black and white ; the pipe leading to the earth was also painted in design. 
Above the coffin were suspended a number of charms; these consisted of 
boats with people in them, some firing guns, some sitting under a red cloth 
awning, birds of the stiflfest appearance flying, fish of novel shapes, tigers 
with heads larger than their bodies (it was necessary to ask what these were 
intended for), semi-circular pieces of wood painted white and dotted with 
black. The whole arrangement was so curious that I endeavoured to obtain 
a model of it, but was unsuccessful." (O. F. Ricketts S. G. 348, p. 17.) 

Sir Spencer St. John witnessed the following mourning ceremony among 
the Muruts : *' Twenty-four girls and boys, with a few grown women, are 
walking up and down the verandah, chanting, ' Woh, weh, woh, Isana, 
mourning for the son of the chief, who has just been wounded up country. 
They march in Indian file, their arms resting on the shoulders of the person 
in front. It appears to be a mere ceremony, there being very little grief in 
the tone. At first I thought it might be connected with the heavy rain and 
crashing thunderstorm.'* (ii. 124.) 

Burial Tabu. 

'* The Land Dyaks are spoken of as being very fickle as to their abode, 
one year here, another there, for if two or three die the house is forsaken and 
another built." (Crossland, Miss. Life, 1867, p. 68.) Similarly Mr. Grant 
relates: ** It appeared that many of the people of their village of Kuap 
had died, and Dyaks do not much like to live on at a place where they think 
themselves likely to be haunted by the ghosts of the dead." (p. 10.) The 
house in which a death occurs must be porich or shut up for seven days, or 
the ghost of the deceased will haunt it continually." (Chalmers.) 

** On the day of a Land Dyak's death, a feast {Man buiya) is given by the 
family to their relations; if the deceased be rich, a pig and a fowl are killed, 
but if poor, a fowl is considered sufficient. The apartment, and the family in 
which the death occurs, are tabooed for seven days and nights, and if thte 
interdict be not rigidly kept, the ghost of the departed will haunt the house." 
(St. John i. 165.) 

** The hill tribes have the custom of pamoli, or taboo, which on certain 
occasions they enforce with great strictness ; they close their houses to all 

The Disposal of the Dead, 155 

strangers, and no one can go inside under the penalty of death. Some 
burn, others bury their dead." (McDougall, T.E.S., ii. 32.) 

** Amongst the Sea Dyaks the relatives and bearers of the corpse must 
return direct to the house from which they started before entering another, 
as it is unlawful or unlucky to stop, whatever may be the distance to be 
traversed." (St. John i. 59.) ** And then at once an ulit commences, which 
ends with the feast called ^awai antu^ held, when required, as early as possible 
after the interment. Should, however, a human head have been obtained in 
the interval and paraded in the village, the restrictions are partially removed 
and ornaments are permitted to be worn. The ulit is confined to the imme- 
diate relatives of the deceased, and does not concern the community at large. 
During its celebration music is tabued, and so is uproarious mirth ; ornaments 
and gay clothing are laid aside, and deep mourning assumed. The dead 
man's groves and water-courses are tabued to furnish fruit and fish for the 
feast to his memory to be held after the harvest." (Brooke Low.) * 

** If a Dayak lose his wife, he gives a feast, which is really an offering to 
the departed spirit. After the death of relatives, they seek for the heads of 
enemies, and until one is brought in they consider themselves to be in 
mourning, wearing no fine clothes, striking no gongs, nor is laughing or 
merry-making in the house allowed ; but they have a steady desire to grieve 
for the one lost to them, and to seek a head of an enemy, as a means of 
consoling themselves for the death of tlie departed. At the launching of a 
new boat, preparatory to head-hunting, the spirits presiding over it are 
appeased and fed, and the women collect in and about it, and chant 
monotonous tunes ; invoking the heavenly spirits to grant their lovers and 
husbands success in finding heads, by which they may remove their mourning 
and obtain a plentiful supply of the luxuries and necessaries of life." (St. 
John i. 63.) 

*' When a Sea Dyak person dies the floor of the room in which he died is 
changed." (Brooke Low.) 

** Formerly among the Balaus the death of one of their tribe entailed an 
ulat or ban upon the whole country ; and until this ulat was removed, which 
it only could be by the capture of a head, various restrictions were placed 
upon the whole community ; for example, no widower could marry again, nor 
could the appropriate offerings at the tombs of their deceased relatives be 
made till the ulat was removed." (Horsburgh, p. 13.) 

And there is a curious tabu regarding objects used by the names borne by 
the deceased, thus : '* The camphor tree abounds in the forest of Balui Pe, 
but the Lepu Anans and others may not touch it for a couple of years, out of 
reverence for the memory of Ana Lian Avit, the powerful Kinah chief, who 
died a few months ago. Similarly Dian's name may not be uttered in Long 
Sbatu, a Kinah village, it having been the name borne by a former chief here." 
(Brooke Low.) 

'* The name of one who has died is not mentioned in the same manner 
as whilst he was living ; the Kayans put the word urip before his name, which 
signifies * the spirit of the deceased.* " (Hose, J. A. I., xxiii. 171.) 

In Sir Hugh Low's time there was a tabu among the Sea Dyaks called 

156 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

" PanuUi Matt, and it is on a house, and on everything in it for twelve days 
after the decease of any person belonging to it ; during this time no one who 
is not an inhabitant of the dwelling can enter it, nor are the persons usually 
residing in it allowed to speak to such, nor can any thing, on any pretence 
whatever, be removed from it until the twelve days of the prohibition be 
expired ; its conclusion is marked by the death of a fowl or pig, according to 
the circumstances of the family." (p. 260.) 

** When a death occurs amongst the Undups the entire village abstains 
from outdoor labour, and remains at home for seven days in the case of a 
male, for three days in that of a female, and for one in that of an infant. 
During the mourning none of them sleep in their rooms, but in the open 
verandah ; I believe this is to allow the spirit to have free access into the 
room. The immediate relatives of the deceased are confined to their own 
apartments for three days, on the first of which they have to wail for the 
dead, and on the second and third of which hired wailers, at a plate a head, 
perform this office for them. Betel and rice are denied them, and the wailing 
is repeated at certain intervals uptil the gawai antu. If the deceased be a 
married man the widow may not leave her room for seven days; so 
everything she requires is brought to her ; she wails for her dead husband 
morning and evening ; she may not marry again until after the gawai antu ; 
if she do she is fined for adultery and desertion just as if her husband were 
alive ; she is considered by custom as still belonging to him until freed from 
him by the performance of the last rites of the gawai antu; and every 
infidelity on her part, if discovered, is visited by the relatives with a pecuniary 
penalty ; and they are not slow to resent anything in her conduct which can 
be construed into a slur upon his memory.*' (Crossland, Mission Life, 1874, 
p. 543 ; Mrs. Chambers, Gosp. Miss., 1859, pp. 67-68.) 

** His Highness mentions a case on the Lingga where great offence was 
given by a chief for marrying again without first properly laying the ulit.'' 
(i. 128.) 

** On the Lingga we passed one small rivulet tabooed in consequence of 
a rich chief having lately died. There were some spears stuck into. the bank, 
and poles fixed across. No one could break through these impediments 
without incurring a severe fine; but when the time of mournmg [ulit] is 
expired, the relatives of the deceased poison the fish in the stream, and any 
of the population can be present to spear them, after which the taboo is 
opened." (Brooke i. 92.) 

Mr. Crossland also mentions a river being tabued owing to a death, and 
that the river was afterwards opened by those set apart to feast the spirit of 
the dead. (Miss. Life, 1867, p. 69.) 

Lieut. De Crespigny notices a case of tabu among the Dusuns in 
consequence of a death.*" (Proc. R. Geogr. Soc. ii. 1858, p. 348.) 

i^'The news of the death of Pangeran Per Batti Sari "arrived in- Coti the latter part of 
January, when immediate orders were given to put on the usual mourning for forty days ; during 
which period no game of any description must be played or any musical instrument. Every man 
and msile child must have his head shaved and wear a white habit, which is their mourning colour : 
the whole of the women were obliged to set up a hideous scream at certain parts of the day on a 
given signal from the Sultan's house. This order was strictly obeyed." (Dalton, p. 58.) 

The Disposal of the Dead. 157 

"A few months after the death of a Milanow the friends assemble for a 
monster cock-fighting and feasting, which lasts three or four days ; sometimes 
as many as three or four hundred cocks are killed, the sacrifice being for the 
benefit of the departed spirit." (Crocker, Proc. R. Geogr. Soc, 1881, p. 201.) 


** It appears evident that, in South Borneo at least, but I believe 
also in the North, human victims are massacred on the death of a chief, and 
on other occasions. Those slain on the death of a chief are supposed to 
become his attendants and slaves in a future state. Their bodies are, 
with those of the chief, placed in ornamented houses erected for the 
purpose of carved hard wood, on posts of some height above the ground ; 
or occasionally, as I have been informed, in hollowed trunks of trees.** (Low 
P« 335-) Mr. Burns says that, although the Kayans strenuously deny 
it, human sacrifices appear to have been prevalent on the occasion of a 
chiefs death. (Jour. Ind. Arch. iii. 145.) Mr. Hose confirms this. (J.A.I, 
xxiii. 166.) ** In olden days when a chief died, it was customary to burj' 
living slaves dong with the corpse ; and only two years before the district 
came under Sarawak rule, three slaves wer6 buried alive in the grave of one 
Balawing, a Kayan chief of the Baram.'* And Sir S. St. John says that 
these sacrifices can seldom occur, or we should have heard more of them. 
"There were rumours, however, that at the death of the Kayan chief 
Tamawan, whom I met during my expedition to the Baram, slaves were 
devoted to destruction, that they might follow him in the future world.'* 
(i. 36.) Writing in 1866 Sir Chas. Brooke tells us: ** But it is still the custom 
among the Kayans and other inland branches, who seldom put to death any 
of their own people, but execute unfortunate captives or slaves brought from 
a distance." (i. 74.) But Bishop McDougall states that they formerly killed 
slaves for the use of their dead, whom they always provide with food, weapons, 
etc., for their unknown journey. (T.E.S. ii. 32.) Of the Sea Dyaks I can 
only find the following note by Sir S. St. John : ** It is reported that many 
years ago a Sibuyau chief sacrificed some prisoners on the graves of two of 
his sons, who, in the same expedition, had been killed by his enemies." (i. 64.) 

** I find that, as among the Kanowits and other Dayaks, after the death 
of a relative they go out head-hunting, but do not kill the first person met ; 
but each one they pass must make them a trifling present, which is no doubt 
quickly given, to get rid of such unpleasant neighbours." (ibid i. no.) 

But if the Kyans had a bad name for human sacrifice on the death of a 
relation or chief, that of the Milanos is far worse: ** Part of this tribe practise 
human sacrifice on the death of any chief or man of rank, although it is now 
quite extinct on the coast, owing to inter-mixture with more civilised peoples 
and the prevention by Government." 

Mr. Crocker's informant (a Milano) told him his grandfather was buried 
in this way, and that a ** slave was chained to the post and starved to death, 
in order that he might be ready to follow and serve his master in the other 
world." (Proc. R. Geog. Soc.^ 1881, p. 200.) 

Mr. Denison also states that previous to Sir James Brooke's advent — and 
the cession of the countrj' to him — ** it was not at all an uncommon practice, 

158 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

when an Orang Kaya died, to sacrifice from ten to twelve of his slaves and 
bury them with him, the poor wretches receiving a solemn admonition to 
tend well upon their master in the new world/' (Jour. Straits Asiatic Soc, 
No. 10, p. 182.) 

** I made particular inquiries of Haji Abdulraman, and his followers, of 
Muka, whilst I was in Brunei last year. They said that the Milanaus of their 
town who remained unconverted to Islamism have within the last few years 
sacrificed slaves at the death of a respectable man, and buried them with the 
corpse, in order that they might be ready to attend their master in the other 
world. This conversation took place in the presence of the Sultan, who said 
he had often heard the report of such acts having been committed. One of 
the nobles present observed that such things were rare, but that he had 
known of a similar sacrifice taking place among the Bisayas of the River 
Kalias, opposite our colony of Labuan. He said a large hole was dug in the 
ground, in which was placed four slaves and the body of the dead chief. A 
small supply of provisions was added, when beams and boughs were thrown 
upon the grave, and earth heaped to a great height over the whole. A 
prepared bamboo was allowed to convey air to those confined, who were thus 
left to starve.'* (St. John i. 36.) 

Of the Kanowits [?] the same traveller relates (i. 43) : — ** A short time 
before the Rejang came under Sir James Brooke's sway, a relation of Belabun 
died. Having no enemy near, he looked about for a victim. Seeing a Dayak of 
the Katibas passing down the river, he and a small party followed and overtook 
him just as he reached the junction; they persuaded him to come ashore, and 
then seized and killed him, taking his head home in triumph. As this murder 
took place before Sir James Brooke's jurisdiction extended over the country, 
it was difficult to bring him to account, but on his relations coming to 
demand satisfaction. Captain Brooke insisted upon his paying the customary 
fine, which satisfied the Katibas. 

** The second chief of this village is Sikalei, who, when one of his children 
died, sallied out and killed the first man he met — they say it was one of his 
own tribe, but it was the custom to kill the first person, even if it were a 
brother: fortunately they now are brought under a Government which is 
strong enough to prevent such practices." 

** The most objectionable custom practised by the Dusuns was that of 
human sacrifice, or surmungup, as they called it ; the ostensible reason seems 
to have been to send messages to dead relatives, and to this end they used to 
get a slave, usually one bought for the purpose, tie him up and bind him 
round with cloths, and then after some preliminary dancing and singing, one 
after another they would stick a spear a little way — an inch or so — into his 
body, each one sending a message to his deceased friend as he did so. There 
was even more difficulty in getting ihem to abandon this custom than there 
was to leave off head-hunting. Down in the south-east the way of managing 
surmungups is for a lot of them to subscribe till the price of a slave is 
raised. He is then bought, tied up, and all the subscribers grasping simul- 
taneously a long spear, it is thrust through him at once. This custom still 
exists in Tidong and the neighbourhood." (W. B. Pryer, J. A. I., xvi. 234.) 

The Disposal of the Dead. 159 

Elsewhere the same gentleman writes : ** Banjer was a Sultan's man and had 
once been put on a Binting Marrow " station ; the man in charge of it thought 
the time had come to take a little duty in blood, just to let people see the Sultan 
did not keep Binting Marrow stations for nothing. So they caught a trader, 
accused him of wanting to evade the payment of duties, and tying a rope 
round his wrist, fastened him to a post with his feet off the ground, and left 
him hanging there. He cried continually all day long, * I have committed no 
fault, I have committed no fault.' They returned in the evening with their 
creeses and hewed him to bits. Once he was present when the Tunbumohas 
surmtotgup-ed 2l man.^'^ He was a bought slave, and the Tunbumohas tied him 
up with his arms outstretched (crucified in fact), and they danced round him. 
At last the head man approached, and wishing him a pleasant journey to 
Kina Balu, stuck his spear about an inch deep, and no more, in the man's 
body ; and another then said, * Bear my kind remembrances to my brother at 
Kina Balu,' and did the same, and in this way, with messages to deceased 
relatives at Kina Balu, all those present slightly wounded the man. When 
the dance was over they unbound him, but he was dead. This custom 
is known as surmungup, and is practised by the far inland tribes to this day. 
The Tunbumohas, however, having an intuitive idea that white men might 
not view such a custom with approval, have now abandoned it in so far that 
they substitute a pig for a man." (Pryer, Diary, 27 Feb.) 

This sacrificing of slaves was known in Mr. Dalrymple's time, for he 
reports (p. 45.) : — ** Others, amongst the Idaan, think the passage for men into 
paradise is over a long tree, which, unless they have killed a man, is scarce 
practicable, perhaps for want of the slaves' assistance. When prisoners are 
taken in war, it is said a general meeting is called ; when the chief gives the 
first blow, and then the victim is struck with weapons on every side." 

The Muruts would also appear to sacrifice when they thought the 
occasion warranted it : ** One of the Muruts had been murdered by a roving 
party of head-hunters, i.e. killed with blow-pipes. The tribe, determining to 
avenge his death, seized an old woman belonging to the hostile tribe, who 
had been long living in the village, and, binding her on a bamboo grating 
over the grave, proceeded to dispatch her with knives, spears and daggers. 

** The brother of the murdered man struck the first blow, then all joined 
in till life was extinct ; the blood was allowed to flow into the grave over the 
corpse ; the skull was cut into fragments, and with the corresponding 

11 A Bintang Marrow station is made by slinging a rattan across the stream, for raising which a 
heavy duty is charged, {ibid. Diary, 4 Mar.) 

Mr. Hatton (Diary, 18 Mar.) mentions such a frontier marked, and on the following day 
(Diary, 19 Mar.) he writes: — "We passed under a second rattan stretched across the river between 
Kananap, a district of Sogolitan, and Sogolitan proper. These two rattans form one key to the 
country, and if one is cut down, in defiance the Dyaks never leave the war path until the offenders' 
heads are at rest with the others in their head btore. On what se^ms to be the lower limit of 
Sogolitan we noticed a queer exhibition of animosity towards Dumpas. There a rope. i.e. rattan, 
was stretched across the river, from which dangled all sorts of friendly mementoes, such as 
sharpened bamboos, wooden choppers, snares, &c." (Witti, 3 June.) 

^* At Imbok : " Among other things brought before me was a matter in connection with an 
application from an interior tribe for a slave to Surmutigup." (ibid. Diary, 4 Mar.) 

i6o H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

portions of the scalp, the hair attached, was divided amongst the friends and 
relatives ; the nails were also extracted. 

" The Orang Kaya then proceeded to ornament a pole in the native 
fashion, with strips of plantain bark, the summit of which he surmounted 
with his portion of the skull ; on either side of the centre pole, another pole 
was erected, on each of which the five nails of a hand were exposed. The 
body of the woman was buried with that of the murdered man.'* (Denison, 
Jour. Straits Asiatic Soc, No. lo, p. 183.) 


" Among the Bahou Tring Dyaks, the cannibals f ? ] of Borneo, the following rites are 
observed on the death of a chief : The death of the Rajah is announced by the beating of a gong, on 
hearing which the people at once proceed to the house of the deceased. Whilst they are gathered 
there the chief? body is washed and afterwards rubbed in with salt, and dressed in his best apparel, 
aind placed in a sitting posture ; in his hands are placed his shield and mandau. After some time, 
the arms are taken away, the body is undressed, wrapped in a piece of cloth, and placed carefully on 
the ground. Whilst the garment? are being removed, a singer stands close by and chants a hymn, 
in which he describes the road which the departed must travel, in order to come to his tribe in the 
other world. As a reward for instructing the spirit in the details of the long and intricate journey it 
has to perform, the singer receives the clothes, mandau, and shield of the deceased. The following 
day, the members of the tribe are again gathered together, and as a sign of mourning shave off the 
hair from the head, and also tear off either their sarong or their jacket, and run about with the upper 
or lower part of the body naked ; this mourning lasts until they have had a " good harvest," by 
which is generally meant a few heads. When the people are all assembled, and have all adopted 
these signs of mourning, the body is placed in the coffin and brought to a chapel, those who are 
carrying the body, and the clothes which have to be deposited with the .dead, taking great care that 
they do not stumble or fall, as such an occurrence is considered an omen that the fallen will not live 
long. At the tomb are generally placed four wooden idols, representing tigers, whose souls— for the 
Dyaks believe that every object has a soul — are to act as servants for the good Rajah in the other 
world. As soon as the coffin is deposited in the chapel, the people return home and have a funeral 
feast, which lasts one month." (Bock, p. 224.) 

" The great tribe of Bejadjoes has two methods of paying last honours to the dead : The dead 
are either interred, which is more commonly the case, or the corpses, after being preserved for 
several years, are burned to ashes, and the little that there remains of their bones are deposited in 
small wooden cabins constructed for the purpose, and which are called Santong ioelang, literally bone 
chamber. The latter method of honouring the material shell of the dead being accompanied with 
numerous ceremonies, entails heavy expenses ; it is only customary among the rich or powerful 
families. The body is deposited in a box of planks called Kakoeroeng, or in the trunk of a dug-out 
tree, Rouen, and of which the lid is hermetically sealed by means of damar tampoereb (a sort of resin), 
with which it is coated. This operation is only completed 36 hours or more after the decease, as 
this lapse of time is necessary to build the coffin, and also because there are not in this country any 
workpeople who are employed solely at this sort of labour. Burials, on the other hand, generally 
take place twelve hours after death, and are accompanied with far less ceremonies. The corpse is 
simply washed and covered with mats, or, after having been enveloped in a white cloth, is covered 
with pisang leaves, the whole receives a final wrapping of split bambu. Sometimes the bodies are 
also deposited in a coffin. The corpse lies on its back with its arms folded over its chest. Before 
burial paddy is sprinkled on the upper portion of the body, and the legs are rubbed with curcuma, the 
head is turned to the east, so that the eyes which remain open, regard the setting [siV] sun. The 
Dusun Dyaks also enshroud their dead or they burn them and collect the ashes, which they preserve 
in tree-trunks dug out for that purpose." (S. Muller, ii. 368 ) 

Burial customs among the Sihongbo in Borneo by Missionary Tromp (Berichte d. Rheinischen 
Missions Gesell, Barmen, 1877, p. 42). 

•'One afternoon as I was sitting at my desk I heard suddenly a loud and painful wailing. 
I hurried outside and saw a whole train of people coming along the Sihong road. First a man 
with a torch, then several men, then a whole row of women with masked faces crying and weeping 
loudly, and then some more men. The whole lot were coming along almost at a double. On 
enquiring what it was I was told something about a corpse. I then hurried all the more in order to 


The Disposal of the Dead. i6i 

join the troop and to do this I had to run my beat At a somewh&t clear spot in the 

forest a halt was made. I saw here a whole group of coffins, some supported by six. some by four 
posts, and to my surprise I also saw a house. In answer to my enquiry I was told it was a burning 

place where the bones of the dead were cremated I found, however, il was no corpse I 

had been following but that the people bad brought food to a child which had died seven days ago. 
The food consisted of fowl and rice and the necessary adjuncts. The food was put down amidst 
loud lamentations, and (he women stood in groups taking up the wailing alternatively. They all went 
back in the some haste with which they came. I wondered on the quiet to myself how it was that 
Ibey had buried the child there so far from the village when I knew that the cemetery was almost in 
the village, a few hundred paces from the house of the sula. But I leamt later that the spot in the 
forest, lo which I had tieen. was the real rendezvous of all the village dead, but that the dead are not 
taken there at once. Only children up to at most six or seven years of age are buried there at once^ 
If a child dies a fowl must be sacrificed as is the case at every death. The greater part of the fowl 
is, of conrse. eaten by the sorrowing ones, and the dead only gets the IwDes, but these he takes with 

A Crbmatton oh thb Kapolas MoBROEKa Rivbr, 

Dutch South Central Borneo. 

(Aha Scbwauer.) 

him. A pig is killed the day after the death of the child and that is then sufEcient to help its soul to 
be able to enter purified into the city of the dead. A temporary coSiD is not made for a child, as is 
done with grown-up people, but the child is put at once into its proper coffin, called koni. The 
prescribed mourning of the parents lasts seven days. While this lasts they must eat no rice, but 
most eat djildi. The seeds of djeldi are small and brown, of unpleasant smell, and are said not to 
taste at all nice, so that children are not forced to partake of this mourning food. Grown-up brothers 
and sisters are t>ound to partake of this food for so long as the body remains in the house. On the 
seventh day a fowl is again killed and a part of it carried to the child. The parents' time of mourning 
(hen ceases. Tki burial cf adults : One Saturday afternoon in September last year a man who was 
very ill was brought from the rice fields into the village. The people like to do this, so that a man 
should at least die in his house. In any case, the corpse must be brought to the village to which the 
deceased belonged. The man who was brought in belonged to our next neighbour's house, barely 
five paces from the balei, and there I also had the opportunity of seeing everything very exactly. 

i62 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo. 

Death already looked out of the man's eyes and he lay there unconscious in great pain [sic'] . The 
relatives were much troubled and my heart ached on account of their wailing. Death approached 
slowly but surely. Amidst loud crying the dying man's children approached their father and grasped 
his hand in order to say adieu (iebe wohl). The wife did not move from his side, while the other 
women sat further off and held themselves ready to commence the death-wail. As the breath 
ceased a loud and heart-breaking cry filled the house, but as the chest of the dying man heaved once 
more there was a dead silence as at the word of command. But, then, when the last sigh had been 
really breathed, the wail sounded all the more awful. The copper kettledrums were now got ready 
and accompanied by their dull tones the wail was all the more horrible. Asa word of sympathy 
was out of the question, I left. That was at about seven o'clock, and only at nine o'clock did the 
wailing stop, but it was only for a bit, then, always accompanied by the dull sounds of various drums 
it rung out awfully during night and all the night through, in fact so long as the corpse remained in 
the house. The next morning I found a whole row of women sitting round the corpse, their masked 
faces facing it, but the masking only lasts as long as real weeping is going on. All the clothes of the 
deceased lay on the corpse, by its side his arms and his little dish with food. The devoted fowl had 
already been slaughtered. The male relatives had now to prepare the temporary coffin called karong. 
Properly speaking the whole village helped in this work. The coffin was made of only two pieces of 
soft wood. The lower piece was adzed out like a trough and then planed so that the cover would fit 
on closely. The cover was likewise dug out slightly and then planed. The putting of the corpse in 
the coffin was done with loud lamentations and perhaps all the louder than before as additional 
people had come from other villages. The corpse was turned on its side, forced tightly into the 
coffin. This always happens, as the coffin is only dug out so far as to allow the corpse to pass in 
sideways. One-half of the deceased's clothes were placed on the corpse and the other half left to 
his widow and children. They then put money, rice and condiments, and other necessaries into the 
coffin, whereupon it was nailed [sic] up and well pitched. The interment took place next day. As 
the coffin was taken out of the house the wail for the dead, the drum-beating, and, added to that, 
the gun-firing, was a perfect pandemonium of noise. The funeral procession was the same as I 
described above. First a man with a torch, then several men, some of them carrying wooden spades, 
then followed the coffin carried by two men, then a whole row of women mourners with covered-up 
faces, and then some more men and some youths. The procession had to pass the grave of the 
grandfather, Suto Ono, and a stop was made here as a tribute of sirih had to be given to him the 
former tribal chief. The procession then ran rapidly onwards. The wailing ceased on arrival 
at the burial place. A little sirih was placed on every grave, and only when that was done 
did they commence to dig the grave. The Raden [? chief] only had an iron hoe, the other 
men used partly wooden spades, partly their chopping knives, while others again used a still 
simpler tool — they used their hands. In this manner the grave, about four feet deep, was soon 
ready. The lowering of the body was accompanied by loud wailing. The weapons of the 
deceased, a spear with the blowpipe, the necessary arrows, a chopping knife, dagger, &c., were 
placed on the coffin, and some food was placed on the grave. Now all was over, and even the 
wailing was done with. Owing to the great crying the widow looked weary and haggard. The 
second devoted fowl was slaughtered on the 7th day after the death, and his portion was taken out 
to the deceased amidst loud wailing again. On the forty-eighth day a fowl had to be again 
slaughtered and his portion carried to the deceased. All burials are like the above. No weapons 
but only a common knife and the inevitable chopping knife are placed on the coffin of a woman or 
girl. The funeral foods have to be eaten for seven days by the relations, but where the survivor is a 
widow, a widower, or a mother of a grown-up child, or, in case of the death of the till then surviving 
parent, the eldest grown-up child, all these survivors must eat funeral food for forty-nine days. All 
obligations cease on the forty-ninth day, and it depends entirely upon the goodwill of the relations 
whether anything more is done. In the meantime they bring food to the deceased .at least once a 
year, and that is sufficient until the djama, i.e., until the spirit is taken to the real necropolis. The 
djama feast is held every two or three years, and it is not a matter for one family only but all 
^milies concerned hold the feast in common. When a djama is to be held the bones are dug up, and 
if the temporary coffin, the karong, has rotted a new one is made, and it is in this new one that the 
bones are carried to the halai, and thence to the cremation place. The preservation of dead bodies in the 
houses : This is an expensive affair, and therefore it is only the rich who can afford to keep their dead 
at home. Their behaviour at the death-scene and their obligations to the dead are the same as 
above described, but they have the special duty of offering food to the deceased at least twice a day. 
The food, consisting of rice and dried fish, is placed for a moment by the coffin and then thrown 
into the pig trough [sic] . This food must be offered daily until the djama feast, and for forty-nine 
days at least the mourning wail must be uttered. In this case they gladly do more, and hence 

Tke Disposal of the Dead. 163 

several times, both by dtty and by night, the drums are heard resounding out of such a bouse, and 
one might almost think one heard a distant bell chiming. Watch is kept at night in such a bouse, 
and to partake of this watching is considered an expression of condolence or of honour ; especially do 
young fellows lake part in the watching. At such tinies many a story is told, and when they 
are tired of telling and listening Ihey lie down on the f9o«r and sleep, then he who wakes first strikes 
the drum, and all is animation once more. The treatment of the corpse is as follows : When the 
corpse has been squeezed into coffin and the latter has been nailed [sir] and sealed, it is put on to a 
Iressle. A hole has been previously bored in ibe bottom of the Kmon^, and a pot which being 
slightly raised above the floor is hstened to the coffin ; the top of the pot is also well sealed up so 
that one does not notice any of the smelt of decomposition, but all the more disagreeable is the bad 
incense burned in quantities. On the Ibrty-ointh day, when the last fowl has been slaughtered to 
the deceased, Ibe pot is looseoed and placed on the floor. One of the eldest men must then sit down 
by it and take it between his arms and legs, and — repulsive action— it is looked into. If there be loo 
much matter a punishment is imposed, as the relatives have not done their duty. This over the 
coffin and pot are carefully rS'Sealed. and remain io the bouse until the djama. I have not yet been 
able to see a djama, and do not care to. Only the bones of adults are burned, the ashes being laid in 
the real coffin lambak. ■ The burning of the bones Is an absolutely necessary act of purification, as by 
means of the burning any unatoned sins [sW] are blotted out. Our people have a presentiment of 
the Word: " Who can note how often he fail." All unknown and unexpiated sin is wiped away by 
the burning of the bones, and then the sjririt is as clean as " though washed in gold." 

Pattbbn ov Sea Dvak Girl's Petticoat. 

With the exception of some red and yellow thread of warp along 

the edges, whicn were dyed before putting on the loom, the pattern 

is dyed brown. Depth, 11 inches : circumference. 30 inches. 

(LcggUI C0IU 



Chalmers' Land Dyak mythology — Becker's and Lobscheid's mythology — Religious observances. 
Chief Spirits: Tupa — Tenubi — lang — Jirong — The Umot — Komang — Triu — Umot Sise — Umot 
perusong and Tibong — Perubach — Sudaung — The Mino — Nino — Buau— An embodied spirit — Pujabun 
— Sekukok. Archdeacon Pbrham's Sea Dyak Gods. — I. : Petara — Pengaps (recitations) — Petara 
not equivalent to Allah Taala — Its definition — A multitude of Petaras — The Besant — Petaras, how 
conjured — Human-like gods — Low conception of the Deity — Sampi, an invocation — Grandmother 
Andan — Her blessings — Unity of origin — Nature worship — Salampandai — Her creation of man — 
Her frog form — Pulang Gana — His origin — His manifestation — His feasts of Gawai Batu and 
Gawai Benih — Singalang Burong — His character — Mythological inconsistencies — Heroes not invoked 
in sickness but Petara — The One True Unknown — Conception of Petara not an exalted one — Sins 
atoned for — Morality degraded — Petara the preserver — Petara the image of man — IL : Petara 
equivalent to Avatara — The beliefs probably introduced — Question not settled — Good and bad 
spirits — Dyak receptivity omniverous — Antus : what they are — They, appear to man — Their dogs — 
Their magic powers — Abodes — An antu tree — Their benefits to mankind — Meeting friendly antus — 
Nampok — Seeking cure of sickness — Sickness attributed to antus — Smallpox, cholera are antus — 
Antus form a system with definite function — Take animal forms — If caught give good luck — 
Alligators — Diving ordeal — Reverence towards serpents — Luck bringer — Anthropolatry^-Sacri- 
fices — Piring — Offerings — Ginselan — Sacrifice eaten — Thebuja — No priest necessary — Not a petition 
for pardon — The gods demand satisfaction — An act of fear — Omens — Omen birds and animals — 
Farming omens — Housebuilding omens — Auguries— Bad and good omens in bird sounds— Dead 
animals — Overcoming bad omens — Omen birds sacred — Omen animals not sacred — Discussing 
omens — Bird cultus exists to secure good harvests — A bird invocation — Origin of bird omens — 
Singalang Burong' s relations — Siu's son Seragunting — His home going — His adventures — His 
marvellous feats — The birds his representatives — Conclusion to be drawn — The Dyak a worship- 
ping animal — Nature to him a terrible combination of phenomena — Practical polytheism — Desire 
to know the future — Belief in powers superior to himself. — III. : No religious celebrations at 
birth — Marriage ceremonies — Burial rites — Wailing — Premature burials — Proposed self-sacrifice — 
Leading the soul home — The burying — The baiya — Fear of the dead — Above-ground burials — ^After 
ministries — The pana — The bird's message — Sumping— Gawai antu — The lumpang — The professional 
wailer — Property shared with the dead — "Drinking the bambu" — Hades objects to poor antus — 
The borderland — The bridge of fear — The hill of fire— Communion with the dead — An ungrateful 
dead mother — Kadawa's adventures — The Dyak's eschatology — After a few deaths all is 

The paper on Land Dyak religion, by the Reverend Wm. Chalmers, taken 
from that excellent and rare little book, Mr. Grant's "Tour" (pp. 126-128), 
should be compared with the paper on the Mythology of the Dyaks on 
the S.E. Coast of Borneo, by the Rev. F. F. Beeker, which appeared in 
the Journal of the Indian Archipelago. A very similar account to that of 
Mr. Beeker was published by the Rev. W. Lobscheid, at Hong Kong, in 
1866, in pamphlet form. Judging from Mr. Lobscheid's Preface there 

Chalmers' Land Dyak Gods. 165 

appears to have been some friction in the publication of these two very 
similar accounts. 

It may be well to preface Mr. Chalmers' remarks on the Spirits with his 
words printed elsewhere (O. P. p. 2). They run : " Were I asked what is the 
religion of the Land Dyaks, I should say none worthy of the name, but their 
religious observances may be classed as follows : — 

1st. — The killing and eating of fowls and pigs, of which a portion is set 
aside for the Deity. 

2nd. — The propitiation of Antus by small offerings of rice, etc. 

3rd. — The Pamali [i.e. tabu.] 

4th. — Obedience to the Borich [priestesses] and belief in their pretentions. 

5th. — Dancing. 

6th. — The use of omens from the notes of various birds, the principal of 
which are obtained from a bird called the Kusha. 

" 'HantUy* or spirits, are divided by the Dyaks into two classes — UmOt 
and * Mind,' The ' Umot ' are demons, the * MinO ' ghosts of departed * men.' 
But above these are certain chief spirits, and these I will mention first." 

A. Chief Spirits. 

" (i) Tupaf who is so called from Tiipa the Dyak form of the Malay 
word tumpa, to forge as a blacksmith — because he created mankind and 
everything that draws the breath of life, and daily preserves them by his 
power and goodness. 

" (2) Tenubi, who made the earth and all that grows upon it, and who, 
by his unceasing care, causes it to flourish, and so give seed to the sower and 
bread to the eater. 

" (3) lang, or ling, who instructed the foundress of the order of 
* Barich ' in the mysteries of the healing art, and causes their rites, to be 
effectual as medicine for both men and paddy. 

" (4) Jlrong, the Destroyer, who seems to be on an equality with the 
preceding three ; for when Tiipa created man without intending him to die, 
Jlrong it was who suggested that he should be made mortal, lest creation 
should not suffice to maintain his undying progeny, and thereupon he took 
into his own hands the superintendence of man's end, and it is he who causes 
him to leave the world by sickness, accident, battle, &c. He also looks after 
the procreation of children and their birth into the world. 

" These four seem to be the rajahs of the spiritual world. We now come 
to an inferior order of beings. I must mention, however, that I have been 
told by a very intelligent man of the tribe of Sitang, that Tiipa and Tenubi 
are but different names for the same great being — the creator and preserver 
of all things both visible and invisible. (To this belief I myself incline as 
the original and true one.) And with him, he says, Jlrong alone is associated 
as the lord of births and deaths. lang, according to him, is only a created 
spirit : in the beginning Tupa having created — ist, lang ; 2nd, the Komang ; 
3rd, the Triu : and 4th, Man.'' ^ 

^ " I have always thought that the three inferior spirits mentioned by Mr. Chalmers in the 
extract I will give, Tenabi, lang, and Jirong, are merely agents of Tapa, and occasionally their 

i66 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

B. Umot. 

** (i) Komang and (2) Triu. These spirits live on the summits of 
high hills, and they delight in war, bloodshed, and death. When Peti 
(spring traps which project bamboo spears) are set to catch beasts (pigs, 
deer, &c.) in the jungle, an invocation is addressed to them to beg their help 
and countenance. They are said, moreover, always to descend from their 
lofty dwellings to be present at head-feasts. After death, the spirits of very 
brave men are supposed to be admitted into the honourable society of 

" (3) Umdt Siscy who may be heard, if not seen, sneaking below the 
houses after a feast, and picking up and munching the fragments of food 
which have fallen through the interstices of the lath floors. 

" (4) Umot perusong and Tibong, who come and devour the paddy 
after it has been stored away in its boxes in the garret, and so cause it to 
come to a speedy end. (These Umot are, I suspect, rats.) 

" (5) Perubach, an Umdt with an enormous appetite, who causes the 
rice cooked for the family meal to be insufficient by coming (invisibly, of 
course) and devouring it when still in the pot. 

" (6) Sudaung, an Umot known seemingly to the Dyaks of Mount 
Peninjauh only, who lives amid the clefts and holes of the rocks on the hills, 
and who in wet weather may be heard continually therein shivering and 
bemoaning himself like a man with the ague.*'* 

C. Ming. 

" (i) The simple Mino are the ghosts of those mortals who have died a 
natural death. They specially haunt the Tinungan^ or .place where corpses 
are burned or buried, and render it, therefore, dangerous ground for all except 
the Peniftuch, or sexton 

subordinate position is overlooked by the Dayak narrators. It reminds one. of the three powers in 
the Hindoo religion, ' Brahma,' • Vishnu,' and ' Siva,' issuing from the Godhead Bram — and, in the 
Dayak religion, 'Tenabi.' the maker of the material world; lang, the Instructor, and Jirong, the 
Renovator and Destroyer, emanating from the Godhead Tapa. the great Creator; and Preserver." 
(Spencer St. John i. 169.) 

* Sir Hugh Low makes a considerable distinction between the Triu and the Kamang. 
According to him the Triu are the martial genii of the Dyaks. In person the Triu "are supposed 
to resemble the Dyaks themselves, whom they delight in benefiting. 

"Far different from this mild and benevolent character is that of the genii of the hideous and 
savage Kamang, whose joy is in the misery of mankind, and who delight in war and bloodshed and 
all the other afflictions of the human race. They mix personally in the battles of their votaries, 
not from any wish to assist them — though they may be. in some measure, propitiated by feasts in 
their honour — but that the carnage may be increased, for they are said to inspire desperate valour. 
In person they are as disgustingly ugly as they are barbarous and cruel in their dispositions ; their 
bodies are covered, like those of the Oran-utan, with long and shaggy red hair ; they are mis-shapen 
and contorted, and their favourite food is the blood of the human race." (Low, p. 250.) 

' " Among the Malanau there are several spirits who haunt the woods and streams; they are 
malignant, and afflict mankind with various diseases. Tow, Dalong. Doig. and Balanyan are spirits 
of the woods ; Gin, of the sea ; Naga, of the rivers. Deog Ian, the spirit who afflicts with dropsy, 
lives at the sources of rivers. Iblalangan Langit is a winged spirit, inhabits the sky. and kills with 
thunder and lightning. Siagand Abong send fever and ague upon mankind." (J.A.I, v. 35.) 

Chalmers' Land Dyak Gods. 167 

" When a Mind dies (for he, too, is mortal) he enters Rubang Sdbayan 
(Hades), and, coming out thence again, becomes a bejdwi. When a bejdwi 
dies, he becomes a begutur, and, when he dies, his spiritual essence enters the 
trunks of trees, and may be seen there blotching the wood with a reddish 
stain ; but its real personal existence is extinct for ever. 

** (2) The Buau are the ghosts of men killed in war, and who have 
lost their heads. They are very inimical to living men ; their place of abode 
is in old forest jungle, and they have the power, moreover, of assuming the 
form of beasts and headless men. One day last year a young man of this 
village came running home from the jungle, and lay down in a high fever. 
When asked what was the matter he said that, as he was walking near a 
small stream at no great distance from the village, he saw what he imagined 
to be a large squirrel sitting on the spreading roots of a tall tree. He threw 
his spear at it and, thinking he had struck it, was running to the place where 
it was, when to his horror it rose up before him in the shape of a dog, which 
walked slowly off and then sat down facing him on the trunk of a fallen tree 
in the form of a headless man, with a parti-coloured body drawn up to a 
point just above the shoulders. He rushed away, and came home in a fever. 
In came the doctor, who declared that he had seen a Buaily who had stolen 
his soul away, and that it must be recovered, or he would die. So away 
stalked the doctor into the jungle, tinkling his * charm,' and in about an hour 
he returned with the vagrant soul, which he declared he saw and caught by 
the roadside near the spot where the Buaii was seen. He pretended to poke 
it into the ghost-seer's head, and next day he was better.* 

" (3) The Pujdbun are the ghosts of those who have met with an 
accidental death ; and they spend their time in trying to injure the living, and 
in bewailing their own untimely fate.*'* 

" (4) Mind Kok Anak, or Sekukok, are the ghosts of women who die in 
child-bed. They live in the jungle, and frequently mount high trees, from 
whence they make hideous noises to frighten belated Dyaks as they are 
hastening home in the gloaming."* 

I am under deep obligation to the Venerable Archdeacon Perham for 
his permission to make what use I like of his exhaustive papers, and, I think, 

^ Some accuse the Buau of being occasionally guilty of running ofif with women. In former 
times, a wife, named Temunyan, was, in her husband's absence, carried off. On his return he 
searched for, and found the spirit, slew him by a trick and recovered his wife ; not, however, until 
she had suffered violation. She was pregnant by the Buau, and in due time she brought forth a 
son — a horrible monster, which her enraged husband chopped up into small pieces; and these 
immediately turned into leeches, with which the jungles are to this day unpleasantly infested." 
(Sp. St. John i. 174.) 

' " Their name seems to be derived from a Dayak word meaning ' To long for,' because it is 
said they pass their time in useless waitings over their hard fate." (Sp. St. John i. 174.) 

' The names of the Umdt Mind are given in the Smtah dialect. Other tribes have slightly 
different names, e.g.. Mind is by some called Munna ; Sisl, Sisia ; Pujabun, Kejahon ; &c. Again, by 
the Dyaks of the river Sadong, Tupa is called Tilmpa, and by the people of Sambas, Penita. I 
may also add that Hantoo, or Hantu (Ghost), is sometimes spelt Antu, and Dyak is often spelt 
Dayak, being derived from the word Daya (a man). For the sake of uniformity, however, one 
mode of spelling has, as a rule, been adopted. [W. C.] 

i68 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

as the reader goes on he will acknowledge that to reprint these papers was 
the best use to which I could put them. I give them in full. 

In order the better to elucidate his subject Archdeacon Perham incident- 
ally describes the marriage and funeral rites, &c., of the people, but as these 
rites differ in almost every river among kindred people the accounts I have 
given of these subjects, under separate headings, will not, I venture to think, 
be deemed superfluous. The other notes which I have collected from various 
sources, relating to the omens, ordeals, sacrifices, will, perhaps, be best 
considered in the light of supplementary notes to Mr. Perham's papers. 


By the Venerable Archdeacon J. Perham. 


Petara, otherwise Betara, is, according to Marsden, Sanskrit, and adopted 
into Malay from the Hindu system, and applied to various mythological 
personages ; but whatever be its meaning and application in Malay, in Sea 
Dyak — a language akin to Malay — it is the one word to denote Deity. Petara 
is God, and corresponds in idea to the Elohim of the Old Testament. 

But to elucidate the use of the term, we cannot turn to dictionary and 
treatises. There is no literature to which we can appeal. The Sea Dyaks 
never had their language committed to writing before the Missionaries began 
to work amongst them. For our own knowledge of their belief, we have to 
depend upon what individuals tell us, and upon what we can gather from 
various kinds of pengap — long songs or recitations made at certain semi-sacred 
services, which are invocations to supernatural powers. These are handed 
down from generation to generation by word of mouth : but only those who 
are curious and diligent enough, and have sufficiently capacious memories, 
are able to learn and repeat them ; and, as may be expected, in course of 
transmission from age to age, they undergo alteration, but mostly, I believe, 
in the way of addition. This tendency to change is evident from the fact 
that, in different tribes or clans, different renderings of the pengap, and 
different accounts of individual belief may be found. What follows in this 
Paper is gathered from the Balau and Saribus tribes of Dyaks. 

A very common statement of Dyaks, and one which may easily mislead 
those who have only a superficial acquaintance with them and their thought, 
is that Petara is equivalent to Allah Taala, or Tuhan Allah. " What the 
Malays call Allah Taala, we call Petara " is a very common saying. And it is 
true in so far as both mean Deity ; but when we investigate the character 
represented under these two terms, an immense difference will be found 
between them, as will appear in the sequel. What Allah Taala is, we know ; 
what Petara is, I attempt to show. 

I have not unfrequently been told by Dyaks that there is only one Petara, 
but I believe the assertion was always made upon very little thought. The 
word itself does not help us to determine either for monotheism or for 
polytheism, because there are no distinct forms for singular and plural in Sea 

7 From the Jour. Straits Asiatic Soc. Nos. 8, lo and 14. 

Perham's Sea Dyak Gods. 169 

Dyak. To us the word looks like a singular noun, and this appearance may 
have suggested to some that Dyaks believe in a hierarchy of subordinate 
supernatural beings with one God — Petara — above all. I have been told, 
indeed, that, among the ancients, Petara was represented as: — 

Patu^ nadai apai 
Ettdang nadai indai. 

An orphan, without father. 
Ever without mother. 

which would seem to imply an eternal unchangeable being, without beginning, 
without end. And this idea is perhaps slightly favoured by a passage in a 
pengap. In the song of the Head Feast,® the general object of the recitation 
is to ** fetch," that is, invoke the presence of, Singalang Burong at the feast, 
and certain messengers are lauded, who carry the invitation from the earth to 
his abode in the skies. Now these are represented as passing on their way 
the house of Petara, who is described as an individual being, and who is 
requested to come to the feast. There may be here the relic of a belief in one 
God above all, and distinct from all ; but this belief, notwithstanding what 
an individual Dyak may occasionally say, must be pronounced to be now no 
longer really entertained. 

The general belief is that there are many Petaras ; in fact, as many 
Petaras as men. Each man, they say, has his own peculiar Petara, his own 
tutelary Deity. " One man has one Petara, another man another " — Jai 
orang jai Petara. " A wretched man, a wretched Petara,'* is a common 
expression which professes to give the reason why any particular Dyak is 
poor and miserable — ** He is a miserable man, because his Petara is miserable.'* 
The rich and poor are credited with rich and poor Petaras respectively, hence 
the state of Dyak gods may be inferred from the varying outward circum- 
stances of men below. At the beginning of the yearly farming operations, 
the Dyak will address the unseen powers thus : kita Petara kita Ini Inda 
— " O ye gods, O ye Ini Inda J" Oi Ini Inda I have not been able to get any 
special account ; but from the use of Ini, grandmother, it evidently refers to 
female deities ; or it may be only another appellation of Kita Petara. Now, 
little as this is, it is unmistakeable evidence that polytheism must be regarded 
as the foundation of Sea Dyak religion. But the whole subject is one upon 
which the generality of Dyaks are very hazy, and not one of them, it may be, 
could give a connected and lucid account of their belief. They are not given 
to reasoning upon their traditions, and when an European brings the subject 
before them, they show a very decided unpreparedness. 

The use of the term Petara is sufficiently elastic to be applied to men. 
Not unfrequently have I heard them say of us white men: "They are Petara.*' 
Our superior knowledge and civilization are so far above their own level, that 
we appear to them to partake of the supernatural. It is possible, however, 
that this is merely a bit of flattery to white men. When I have remonstrated 
with them on this application of the term, they have explained that they only 
mean that we appear to manifest more of the power of Petara, that to 

8 Straits Asiatic Journal, No. 2, p. 123. (J. P.) 

170 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

themselves, in what we can do and teach, we are as gods. Mr. Low, in his 
paper on the Sultans of Bruni,* tells us that it was the title of rulers of the 
ancient kingdoms of Menjapahit and Sulok. It is not uninteresting to 
compare with this the application of the Hebrew Elohim to judges, as vice- 
regents of God. (Psalm Lxxxii. 6.) 

But some of the pengap will tell us more about Petara than can be got 
from the conversation of the natives, and the first which I lay under 
contribution is the pengap of the Besant, a ceremony which is performed over 
children, and less frequently over invalids, for their recovery. It is much in 
vogue amongst the Balaus, but seldom resorted to, I think, by the other clans 
of Sea Dyaks. Like all Dyak lore, it is prolix in the extreme, and deluged 
with meaningless verbosity. I only refer to such points in it as will illustrate 
my subject. 

The object of the Besant is to obtain the presence and assistance of all 
Petaras on behalf of the child — that he may become strong in body, skilful in 
work, successful in farming, brave in war, and long in life. This is about the 
sum total of the essential signification of the ceremony. The performers are 
manangSf medicine men, who profess to have a special acquaintance with 
Petaras above, and with the secrets of Hades beneath, and to exercise a magic 
influence over all spirits and powers which produce disease among their 
countrymen. The performer then directs his song to the Petaras above, and 
implores them to look favourably upon the child. Somewhere at the 
commencement of the function, a sacrifice is offered, when the manangs sing 
as follows : — 

Raja Petara hla ngematay 
Seragendah hla meda, 

Ngemeran ka Subak tanah long. 
Seragendi bla pneda^ 

Ngemeran ha ai mesei puloh grunong sanggang. 
Seleledu hla meda^ 

Ngemeran kajumpu mesei jugu bejampong lempang. 
Seleleding bla meda, 

Ngemeran ka tinting luru's mematang. 
Silingiling hla meda, 

Ngemeran ka pating sega nsluang. 
Sengungong hla meda^ 

Ngemeran ka hungkong mesei henong balang. 
Bunsu Retnbia bla meda, 

Ngemeran kajengka tapang bedindang, 
Bunsu Kamha bla meda, 

Ngemeran ka bila maram jarang. 

King of Gods all look. 

Seragendah who has charge of the stiff, clay earth. 

Seragendi who has charge of the waters of the Hawkbell Island. 

Seleledu who has charge of the little hills, like topnots of the bejampong bird. 

Seleleding who has charge of the highlands straight and well defined. 

» Straits Asiatic Journal, No. 5. pp. 1-16. (J. P.) 

Pcrham's Sea Dyak Gods. 171 

SelingUing who has charge of the twigs of the sega rotan. 

Sengungong who has charge of the full-grown knotted branches. 

Bunsu Rembia Abu who has charge of the bends of the wide-spreading tapang 

Bunsu Kamba equally looks down, who has charge of the plants of thin maram. 

All these beings are entreated to accept the offering. And these Royal 
Petaras are by no means all whose aid is asked. Others follow : — 

Bentata Raja Petara bla ngelala sampol nUik, 

An retnang rarat bla nampai ngijap, baka kempat kajang sahidang. 

An pandau banyak^^ bla nampai Petara Gtiyak baka pantak labong palang. 

Art pintau kamarau sanggaUy bla ngilau Petara Radau baka ti olih likau nabau 

Art dinding art bla nampai maremi Petara Menani, manah mati baka kaki long 

Ari bulan bla nampai Petara Tebaran, betempan kaki subang, 
Ari mata-ari bla maremi Petara kami manah mati, baka segundi manang begitang. 
Arijerit tisi langit bla nampai Petara Megit, baka kepit tanggi tudong tentelang. 
Ari pandau bunya Petara Megu bla nampai meki langgu katunsong laiang. 

The Royal Petaras having eyes, all recognise, altogether look down. 
From the floating cloud, like an evenly cut kajang, they all look and wink. 
From the Pleiades", like the glistening patterns of the long flowing turbans, 

looks also Petara Guyak. 
From the Milky Way^^ like golden rings of the nabau snake, Petara Radau is 

From the rainbow** also, beautiful in dying like the feet of an opened box, 

Petara Menani is looking and bending. 
From the moon, like a fasting earring also, Petara Tebaran is looking. 
From the sun beautiful in setting, like the hanging segundi}^ of the manangs, 

our Petara is bending down. 
From the end of heaven, like the binding band of the tanggi, Petara Megit is 

From the evening star as big as the bud of the red hibiscus, Petara Megu is 


Odd and ludicrous as this is, in its comparison of great things with small, 
its teaching is very clear. As men have their personal tutelary deities, so 
have the different parts of the natural world. The soil, the hills, and the 
trees have their gods, through whose guardianship they produce their fruits. 
And the sun, moon, stars, and clouds are peopled with deities, whose favour 
is invoked, whose look in itself is supposed to convey a blessing. 

But these Petaras are very human-like gods ; for they are represented as 

1^ This word is probably a comparatively late importation. Maioh is Dyak for ' many.' 


" Literally : "the many stars," i.e , many in one cluster. (J. P.) 
" Literally : " the high ridges of long drought." (J. P.) 

" " Dinding ari," •• protection of the day," is a small part of the rainbow appearing just above 
the horizon. The whole bow is called " Anak Raja." (J. P.) 

i« " Segundi." a vessel used by the manangs in their incantations on behalf of the sick. (J. P.) 


172 ^ H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

making answer to the supplications of the manangs — " How shall we not look 
after and guard the child, for next year** you will make us a grand feast of 
rice and pork, and fish, and venison, cakes and drink : " — carnal gods 
delighting in a good feed, such as the Dyaks themselves keenly appreciate. 

In this way the attention of these Petaras is supposed to have been 
aroused, and a promise to undertake the child's welfare obtained. At this 
point, according to the assertions of the manangs, the Petaras from some 
point in the firmament shake their charms in the direction of the child : — 

** Since we have looked down, 
Come now, friends. 
Let us, in a company, wave the medicine charms.** 

And so they wave the shadow of their magical influence upon the child. 
But there are still more Petaras to come : — 

Pupas Petara kebong langity 
Niu Petara puchok kaiyu. 

Having finished the Petaras in mid-heavens. 
We come to the Petaras of the tree-tops. 

And they sing of the gods inhabiting trees, and among these are monkeys, 

birds, and insects, or spirits of them. From the trees they come to the 

land : — 

Pupus Petara puchok kaiyu y 

Nelah Petara tengah tanah. 

Having finished the Petaras of the tree-tops. 
We mention the Petaras in the midst of the earth. 

In this connection, many more Petaras are recounted. 

But the Besant tells something more than the number and names of gods. 
The whole function consists of two celebrations, the second of which takes 
place at an interval of a year, and sometimes more, after the first. In the 
first part, the Petaras are " brought '* to some point in the firmament, or it 
may be, to some neighbouring hill, from which they see the child. In the 
second, they are ** brought ** to the house where the ceremony is being 
performed, in order to leave there the magic virtue of their presence. A large 
part of the incantation is the same in both ; and at a certain part of the 
second the Petaras are represented as saying : — 

" Before we have looked down. 
Now a company of men are inviting us to the feast.** 

And in compliance with the invitation, they prepare for the journey 
earthwards. The female Petaras are described, at great length, as putting on 
their finest garments and most valuable ornaments — brass rings round their 
bodies, necklaces of precious stones, earrings and head decorations, beads 
and hawkbells, and everything, in short, to delight feminine taste and beauty. 
Then the male Petaras do the same, and equip themselves with waist-cloth, 

'» This refers to the concluding half of the ceremony which is performed at some subsequent 
times. (J. P.) 

Perham^s Sea Dyak Gods. 173 

coat and turban, and brass ornaments on arms and legs. A start is then 
made with several of the goddesses, renowned for their knowledge of the way 
as guides, to lead the way ; but these prove to be sadly at fault, for, after 
going some distance, they find the road leads to nowhere, and they have to 
retrace their steps, and go by way of the sun and moon and stars ; and from 
the stars they get at some peculiar grassy spot, where they find a trunk of a 
fallen tree, down which they walk to our lower regions. Here they sing how 
these Petaras from the skies are joined by all the Petaras of the hills and trees 
and lowlands, and by Salampandai : and then all together, in one motley 
company, they wend their way to the house where the Besant is being made. 
Just as a Dyak would bathe after coming from a long walk, so these gods and 
goddesses are described as bathing, and their beauty descanted upon. Their 
approach to the house I pass over, but just before going up the ladder into it, 
the elder Petaras think it necessary to give a moral admonition to the whole 
company : — 

Ka obi Yumah anang meda ; 

Unggai ka ttgumbai ngiga serenti jani. 
Ka galenggang anang nmtang ; 

Unggai ka ngumbai ngiga iugang manok laki. 
Ka ruai anang nampai ; 

Unggai ka ngumbai ngiga laki. 
Ka bilik anang nilik ; 

Unggai ka ngumbai ngiga iajau menyadi, 
Ka sadau anang ngilau ; 

Unggai ka ngumbai ngiga padi. 

To the space under the house do not look ; 

Lest they should think you seek a pig*s tusk. 
To the henroost do not sit opposite ; 

Lest they should think you seek a tail feather of the fighting 
To the verandah do not cast your eyes ; 

Lest they should think you are seeking a husband. 
Into the room do not peep ; 

Lest they should think you are seeking a jar. 
To the attic do not look up ; 

Lest they should think you are seeking rice. 

After this they are supposed to enter the house, of course an invisible 
company ; and to partake of the good things of the feast together with the 
Dyaks, gods and men feeding together in harmony. After all is over they 
return to their respective abodes. 

It is a miserable, low and earthly conception of God and gods ; hardly 
perhaps to be called belief in gods, but belief in beings just like themselves: 
yet they are supposed to be such as can bestow the highest blessings Dyaks 
naturally desire. The grosser the nature of a people, the grosser will be their 
conception of deities or deity. We can hardly expect a high and spiritual 
conception of deity from Dyaks in their present intellectual condition and 

174 H* Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo, 

low civilisation. Their's is a conception which produces no noble aspirations, 
and has no power to raise the character ; yet it has a touching interest for 
the Christian student, for it enshrines this great truth, that man needs inter- 
communion with the Deity in order to live a true life. The Dyak works this 
out in a way which most effectually appeals to his capacities and sympathies. 
I turn now to a sampi, an mvocation often said at the commencement of 
the yearly rice-farming ; in other words, a prayer to those superior powers 
which are supposed to preside over the growth of rice. First of all, Pulang 
Gana is invoked ; then the Sun, who is called Datu Patinggi Maia-ari, and his 
light-giving, heat-giving influence recounted in song. After the Sun comes a 
hird, the Kajira ; then the padi spirit {Saniaug Padi), then the sacred birds, 
that is, those whose flight and notes are observed as omens; all these are 
prayed to give their presence. Leaving the birds, the performer comes to 
Petara ** whom he also calls, whom he also invokes.'* ** What Petara,'* it is 
asked, **doyou invoke?*' The answer is: *^ Petara who cannot be empty- 
handed, who cannot be barren, who cannot be wrong, who cannot be 
unclean; " and thereupon follow their names : — Sanggul Labong,Pinang Ipong, 
Kling Bungai Nuiying, Laja Bungai Jawa, Batu Imu, Batu Nyantau, Batu 
Nyantar, Batu Gawa, Batu Nyanggak, Nyawin, Jamba, Pandong, Kendawang, 
Panggau, Apai Mapai, Kling; each from his mythical habitation ** come all, 
come every one ; without stragglers, without deserters." And this call of the 
sons of men is heard, and the Petaras make answer : ** Be well and happy, 
ye sons of men living in the world." 

** You give us rice, 
*• You give us cakes ; 
** You give us rice-beer, 
** You give us spirit ; 
** You give us au offering, 
** You give us a spread. 

** If you farm, all alike shall get padi. 

If you go to war, all alike shall get a head. 

If you sleep, all alike shall have good dreams. 
**.If you trade, all alike shall be skilful in selling. 
** In your hands, all alike shall be effective. 
** In just dealing, all alike shall have the same heart. 
** In discourse, all alike shall be skilful and connected." 

Then, leaving this company of Petaras, the sampi proceeds to invoke in a 
special manner one particular Petara, of whom more is said than of all the 
preceding. This is Ini Andan Petara Buban — Grandmother Andan, the grey- 
haired Petara. Her qualities are complete. " She has a coat for thunder 
and heat ; she is strong against the lightning, and endures in the rain, and 
is brave in the darkness. To cease working is impossible to her. In the 
house her hands are never idle, in talking her speech is pure, her heart is full 
of understanding. And this is why she is called, why she is beckoned to, 
why she is offered sacrifice, why a feast is spread. She can communicate 
these powers to her servants. Moreover, they would obtain her assistance as 

Perham's Sea Dyak Gods. 175 

being the chief-keeper of the broad lands and immenses, where they may 
farm and fill the padi bins ; the chief-keeper of the long winding river, where 
they may beat the strong tuba root, as chief-keeper of the great rock, the 
parent stone, where they may sharpen the steel-edged weapons ; as chief- 
keeper of the bee-trees, where they may shake the sparks of the burning 
torches." But to watch over the farm and guard it from evils is her special 
province ; and for this her presence is specially desired. 

** If the mpangau ^* should hover over it, let her shake at them the sparks of 

** If the bengas^'^ should approach, let her squeeze the juice of the strong tuba 

•* If the ants should come forth, let her rub it (the farm) with a rag dipped in 

** If the locusts should run over it, let her douch them with oil over a bottle 

"If the pigs should come near, let her set traps all day long. 

** If the deer should get near it, let her kill them with bamboo spikes. 

** If the mouse-deer should have a look at it, let her set snares all the day long. 

** If the roe should step over it, let her set bamboo traps. 

** If the sparrows should peck at it, let her fetch a little gutta of the tekalong 

** If the monkeys should injure it, let her fix a rotan snare. 

** That there may be nothing to hurt it, nothing to interfere with it.** 

Id answer to their entreaty, she replies in a similar way to the Petaras 
before - mentioned, and pronounces upon them her blessings of success, 
prosperity and wealth, and skill, as a return for the offering made to her. 
And thus the Dyak thinks to buy his padi crop from the powers above. 

Ini Andan, as she is preparing to take leave of her worshippers according 
to the sampif bestows some charms and magical medicines, mostly in the form 
of stones, and afterwards gives a parting exhortation : — 

** Hear my teaching, ye sons of men. 

** When you farm, be industrious in work. 

** When you sleep, do not be over-much slaves of the eyes. 

" When people assembler do not forget to ask the news. 

** Do not quarrel with others. 

** Do not give your friends bad names. 

** Corrupt speech do not utter. 

" Do not be envious of one another. 

** And you will all alike get padi. 

** All alike be clean of heart. 

** All alike be clever of speech. 

** I now make haste to return. 

" I use the wind as my Jadder. 

•* I go to the crashing whirlwind. 

** I return to my country in the cloudy moon." 

i« A kind of a bug. (J. P.) 
^^ A peculiar insect destructive to the young padi plants. (J. P.) 

176 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo. 


Traditionary lore and popular thought thus tell the same tale ; the latter 
imagines the universe peopled with many gods, so that each man has his own 
guardian deity ; and the former professes to put before us who and what, at 
least, some of these are. The traces of a belief in the unity of deity referred 
to at the beginning of this paper, is at most but a faint echo of an ancient 
and purer faith ; a faith buried long ago in more earthly ideas. Yet even 
novv Dyaks are met with who say that there is only one Petara ; but when 
they are confronted with the teaching of the pengap, and with unmistakeable 
assertions of gods many, they explain this unity as implying nothing more 
than a unity of origin. In the beginning of things there was one Petara 
just as there was one human being; and this Petara was the ancestor of a 
whole family of Petaras in heaven and earth, just as the first man was the 
ancestor of the inhabitants of the world. But this unity of origin does not 
amount in their minds to a conception of a First Great Cause ; yet it is an 
echo of a belief which is still a silent witness to the One True God. 

It has been said that ** every form of polytheism is sprung from nature 
worship." It is very clear that Dyak gods are begotten of nature's manifold 
manifestations. Ini Andan seems a concrete expression of her generating 
producing power. The sun and moon, stars and clouds, the earth with its 
hills and trees and natural fertility, are all channels of beneficial influences 
to man, and the Dyak feels his dependence upon them ; he has to conduct 
his simple farming subject to their operations ; his rice crop depends upon 
the weather, and upon freedom from many noxious pests over which he feels 
little or no control — rats, locusts and insects innumerable ; he gets gain from 
the products of the jungle, and loves its fruits : high hills surrounded with 
floating clouds, and the violent thunder storms, are regarded with something 
of mysterious awe ; he must invoke these powers, for he wants them to be on 
his side in the weary work of life's toils, and the struggle for existence ; and 
thus he imagines each phenomenon to be the working of a god, and worships 
the gods he has imagined. 

I must now refer to three beings which have been mentioned before, and 
which occupy a peculiar position in Dyak belief, as holding definite functions 
in the working of the world. These are Salampandai, Pulang Gana, and 
Singalang Burong, 

Salampandai is a female spirit, and the maker of men, some say by her 
own independent power, some by command of Petara. The latter relate that 
in the beginning Petara commanded her to make a man, and she made one of 
stone, but it could not speak and Petara refused to accept it. She set to 
work again and fashioned one of iron, but neither could that speak, and so 
was rejected. The third time she made one of clay which had the power of 
speech, and Petara was pleased, and said : ** Good is the man you have made, 
let him be the ancestor of men." And so Salampandai ever afterwards 
formed human beings, and is forming them now, at her anvil in the unseen 
regions. There she hammers out children as they are born into the world, 
and when each one is formed it is presented to Petara, who asks : ** What 
would you like to handle and use ?*' If it answer : ** The parang, the sword 
and spear," Petara pronounces it a boy ; but if it answer ; ** Cotton and the 

Perham's Sea Dyak Gods. 177 

spinning wheel," Petara pronounces it a female. Thus they are determined 

boys or girls according to their own choice. 

Another theory makes Petara the immediate creator of men and of all 

things : — 

** Langit Petara dulu mibit, 

*• Mesei dungul manok banda, 

** Tanah Petara dulu naga, 

** Mesei buah mbawang blanja, 

'^ At Petara dulu ngiri, 

** Mesei linti tali besara, 

** Tana lang- Petara dulu nenchang, 

*^ Nyadi mensia. 

** Petara first stretched out the heavens, 

** As big as the comb of the red-feathered cock. 

** The earth Petara first created, 

** As big as the fruit of the horse mango, 

** The waters Petara first poured out, 

" As great as the strands of the rotan rope. 

** The stiff clay Petara first beat out, 

** And it became man.*' 

But here Petara may be any particular being, and may include a 
multitude of gods. There are other theories of creation or cosmogony, but 
they cannot be examined here. 

There are no special observances in direct honour of Salampandai. In 
the Besant, she is brought to be present along with the Petaras. But this 
, great spirit, never, I presume, visible in her own person, is supposed to have 
a manifestation in the realm of visible things in a creature something like a 
frog, which is also called Salampandai, Naturally this creature is regarded 
with reverence, and must not be killed. If it goes up into a Dyak house, 
they offer it sacrifice, and let it go again, but it is very seldom seen. It is 
one with the unseen spirit. The noise it makes* is said to be the sound of 
the spirit's hammer, as she works at her anvil. So intimate is the connection 
that what is attributed to the one is attributed to the other. The creature is 
supposed to be somewhere near the house, whenever a child is born : if it 
approaches from behind, they say the child will be a girl ; if in front, a boy. 
In this case we have an instance of direct nature worship, and it is not the 
only one to be found amongst the Dyaks. 

Pulang Gana is the tutelary deity of the soil, the spirit presiding over the 
whole work of rice-farming. According to a myth handed down in some 
parts, he is of human parentage. Simpang-impang at her first accouchement 
brought forth nothing but blood which was thrown away into a hole of the 
earth. This by some mystical means, became Pulang Gana, who therefore 
lives in ,the bowels of the earth, and has sovereign rights over it. Other 
offspring of Simpang-impang were ordinary human beings, who in course of 
time began to cut down the old jungle to make farms. On returning to their 
work of felling trees the second morning, they found that every tree which 
had been cut down the day before was, by some unknown means, set up 


178 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

again, and growing as firmly as ever. Again they worked with their axes, 
but on coming to the ground the third morning they found the same 
extraordinary phenomenon repeated. They then determined to watch during 
the following night, in order to discover, if possible, the cause of the mystery. 
Under cover of darkness Pulang Gana came, and began to set the fallen trees 
upright as he had done before. They laid hold of him, and asked why he 
frustrated their labours. He replied : " Why do you wrong me, by not 
acknowledging my authority ? I am Pulang Gana, your elder brother, who 
was thrown into the earth, and now I hold dominion over it. Before 
attempting to cut down the jungle, why did you not borrow the land from 
me ?" ** How ?" they asked. *' By making me sacrifice and offering.'* 
Hence, Dyaks say, arose the custom of sacrificing to Pulang Gana at the 
commencement of the yearly farming operations, a custom now universal 
among them. Sometimes these yearly sacrifices are accompanied by festivals 
held in his honour — the Gawei Batu, and the Gawei Benih, the Festival of 
the Whetstones and the Festival of the Seed. 

In the Dyak mind, spirits and magical virtues are largely associated with 
stones. Any remarkable rock, especially if isolated in position, is almost sure 
to be the object of some kind of cultus. Small stones of many kinds are 
kept as charms, and I have known a common glass marble inwrought with 
various colours passed off as the ** egg of a star," and so greatly valued as 
being an infallible defence against disease, &c. The whetstones, therefore, 
although made from a common sandstone rock, are things of some mysterious 
importance. They sharpen the chopper and the axe which have to clear the 
jungle and prepare the farm. There is something more than mere matter 
about them, and they must be blessed. At the Gawei Batu, the neighbours 
are assembled to witness the ceremony and share in the feast, and the 
whetstones are arranged along the public verandah of the house, and the 
performers go round and round them, chanting a request to Pulang Gana for 
his presence and aid, and for good luck to the farm. The result is supposed 
to be that Pulang Gana comes up from his subterranean abode to bestow his 
presence and occult influence, and a pig is then sacrificed to him. In the 
Gawei Benih, the proceeding is similar, but having the seed for its object. 

Pulang Gana is, therefore, an important power in Dyak behef, as upon 
his good-will is supposed to depend, in great measure, the staff of life. 

Singalang Burong must now be mentioned. His name probably means 
the Bird-Chief. Dyaks are great omen observers, and amongst the omens, 
the notes and flight of certain birds are the most important. These birds are 
regarded with reverence. On one occasion, when walking through the jungle, 
I shot one, a beautiful creature, and I asked a Dyak who was with me to 
carry it. He shrank from touching it with his fingers, and carefully wrapped 
it in leaves before carrying it. No doubt he regarded my act as somewhat 
impious. All the birds, to which this cultus is given, are supposed to be 
personifications and manifestations of the same number of beings in the spirit 
world, which beings are the sons-in-law of Singalang Burong.^^ As spirits 

^8 It should be stated that Singalang Burong has his counter-part and manifestation in this 
world, in a fine white and brown hawk, which is called by his name. (J. P.) 

Perham^s Sea Dyak Gods. 179 

they exist in human form, but are as swift in their movements as birds, thus 
uniting man and bird in one spirit-being. Singalang Burong, too, stands at 
the head of the Dyak pedigree. They trace their descent from him, either as 
a man who once lived on the earth, or as a spirit. From him they learnt the 
system of omens, and through the spirit birds, his sons-in-law, he still 
communicates with his descendants. One of their festivals is called, " Giving 
the birds to eat," that is, offering them a sacrifice. 

But further, Singalang Burong may be said to be the Sea Dyak god of 
war, and the guardian spirit of brave men. He delights in war, and head- 
taking is his glory. When Dyaks have obtained a head, either by fair means 
or foul, they make a grand sacrifice and feast in his honour, and invoke his 
presence. But it is unnecessary to enlarge upon this, for some account of 
the Mars of Sea Dyak mythology has already appeared in the Straits Asiatic 
Journal. (No. 2.) 

Now, what with these beings, and with the Petaras, it is no wonder that 
the Dyak, when brought face to face with his own confessions, acknowledges 
himself in utter confusion on the whole subject of the powers above him ; 
that he owns to worshipping anything which is supposed to have power to 
help him or hurt him — God or spirit, ghost of man or beast — all are to be 
reverenced and propitiated. When inconsistencies in his belief are pointed 
out, all he says is, that he does not understand it, that he simply believes and 
practices what his forefathers have handed down to him. 

But it is to be observed, as significant, that in sickness, or the near 
prospect of death, it is not Singalang Burong, or Pulang Gana, or Salampandai 
(which by the way are not commonly called Petara) ; it is not Kling, or 
Bungai, Nuiying, or any other mythological hero that is thought of as the life- 
giver, but simply Petara, whatever may be the precise idea they attach to the 
term. The antu (spirit) indeed causes the sickness, and wants to kill, and so 
has to be scared away ; but Petara is regarded as the saving power. If an 
invalid is apparently beyond all human skill, it is Petara alone who can help 
him. If he dies, it is Petara who has allowed the life to pass away by not 
coming to the rescue. The Dyak may have groped about in a life-long poly- 
theism, but something like a feeling after the One True Unknown seems to 
return at the close of the mortal pilgrimage. The only thing which implies 
the contrary, as far as I know, is, that very occasionally a function in honour 
of Singalang Burong has been held on behalf of a sick person, but it is 
exceedingly rare. 

Although the whole conception of Petara is far from an exalted one, yet it 
is good being. Except as far as causing or allowing human creatures to die 
may be regarded by them as signs of a malevolent disposition, no evil is 
attributed to Petara. It is a power altogether on the side of justice and right. 
The ordeal of diving is an appeal to Petara to declare for the innocent and 
overthrow the guilty. Petara ** cannot be wrong, cannot be unclean.*' Petara 
approves of industry, of honesty, of purity of speech, of skill in word and 
work. . Petara Ini Andan exhorts to ** spread a mat for the traveller, to be 
quick in giving rice to the hungry, not to be slow to give water to the thirsty, 
to joke with those who have heaviness at heart, and to encourage with talk 

i8o H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo. 

the slow of speech ; not to give the fingers to stealing, nor to allow the heart 
to be bad/' Immorality among the unmarried is supposed to bring a plague 
of rain upon the earth, as a punishment inflicted by Peiara. It must be 
atoned for with sacrifice and fine. In a function which is sometimes held to 
procure fine weather, the excessive rain is represented as the result of the 
immorality of two young people. Peiara is invoked, the offenders are banished 
from their home, and the bad weather is said to cease. Every district 
traversed by the adulterer is believed to be accursed of the gods until the 
proper sacrifice has been offiered. Thus in general Petara is against man's 
sin ; but over and above moral offiences they have invented many sins, which 
are simply the infringement of pemale, or tabu — things trifling and super- 
stitious, yet they are supposed to expose the violators to the wrath of the 
gods, and prevent the bestowal of their gift ; and thus the whole subject of 
morality is degraded and perverted. 

The prevailing idea Dyaks commonly entertain of Petara is that of the 
preserver of men. In the song of the head feast, when the messengers, in 
going up to the skies to fetch Singalang Burong down, pass the house of 
Petara, they invite him to the feast, but he replies : ** I cannot go down, for 
mankind would come to grief in my absence. Even when I wink or go to 
bathe, they cut themselves, or fall down." Petara does not leave his habita- 
tions, for he takes care of men, and as far as he fails in this, he fails in his 
duty. So in an invocation said by the manangs, when they wave the sacrificial 
fowl over the sick : — 

Laboh daun huloh^ When the bambu leaf falls, 

Tangkap ikan dungan ; And is caught by the dungan fish ; 

Antu kah munoh. And the antu wants to kill, 

Petara ttaroh ngembuan, Petara puts in safe preservation. 

Laboh daun buloh, When the bambu leaf falls, 

Tangkap ikan mplasi ; And is caught by the mplasi fish, 

Antu kah munoh^ And the antu wants to kill, 

Petara ngaku menyadi, Petara will confess a brother. 

Laboh daun buloh, When the bambu leaf falls, 

Tangkap ikan semah ; And is caught by the semah fish ; 

Antu kah munohj And the antu wants to kill, 

Petara ngambu sa-rumah. Petara will claim him as of his household. 

Laboh daun buloh. When the bambu leaf falls, 

Tangkap ikanjuak ; And is caught by Xhejuak fish ; 

Atitu kah munohy And the antu wants to kill, 

Petara ngaku anak. Petara will confess a child. 

When human life droops as a falling leaf, and the evil spirits, like hungry 
fish, are ready to swallow it up, then Petara comes in and claims the life as 
his, his child, his brother, and preserves it alive. The ceremony of the Besant 
is an elaboration of this idea, an idea to which, above all others, the Dyaks 
cling ; for the world is full, they think, of evil spirits ever on the alert to 
them, but the subject of these antus opens up a new field of thought which 
cannot be entered now. 

Perham's Sea Dyak Gods, i8i 

Petaras are not worshipped in temples, nor through the medium of idols. 
Their idea of gods corresponds so closely to the idea of men, the one rising so 
little above the other, that probably they have never felt the necessity of 
representing Petara by any special material form. Petara is their own shadow 
projected into the higher regions. Any conception men form of God must be 
more or less anthropomorphic, more especially the conception of the savage. 
He ** invests God with bodily attributes. As man's knowledge changes, his 
idea of God changes ; as he mounts the scale of existence, his consciousness 
becomes clearer and more luminous, and his continual idealization of his 
better self is an ever improving reflex of the divine essence." ^® 


In the first paper some account was given of the deities believed in by the 
Sea Dyaks of Sarawak ; of Petara innumerable, of Salampandai, Singalang 
Burong and Pulang Gana. The two latter occupy, in the Dyak mind, a 
distinct personality, possess a certain character, and exercise definite 
functions over the Dyak world. Although theoretically inferior to Petara, 
they may be regarded as the racial gods of the Sea Dyaks, for an amount of 
story and legend, of rite and sacrifice, gathers round them which is not found 
in connection with the more colourless PMara, which is yet regarded as the 
better being. The word Petara is none other than the Hindoo ** Avatara " — 
the incarnations of Vishnnu — the difference of spelling being accounted for 
by the fact that the Dyaks never sound the v, but use p or b instead. Again, 
in an invocation to Pulang Gana there occurs the names Ini Inda and Raja 
Jewata, which look Hke Indra and Dewata. And the function in which 
these terms figure is called ** buja,'' Malay **puja," which is the word, I 
believe, commonly used in India for worship in the present day. Now, do 
these Indian words indicate an organic connection of religion and race with 
those to whom they naturally belong, or have they been adopted by Dyaks 
from later external sources ? It is not impossible that such words may have 
been obtained through contact with Hindooism during the period of 
ascendency of the Majapait kingdom, whose influence, it seems, extended to 
Borneo ; but at present I know of no evidence for this theory, beyond the 
fact of the appearance of the words in Dyak. The probable explanation is 
that these terms have been brought into Dyak use from the Malay. Under 
the word Indra, Marsden gives a quotation of Malay which, in form, is not 
unlike the passage in the Dyak invocation. It begins, ** Maka sagala raja- 
raja dan dewa-dewa dan indra-indra.'' ** Jewata'* is evidently ** dewata" 
from**dewa;" and ** Indra-indra," might easily, with those unfamiliar with 
the term, have become " Ini-Inda." That the terms are an accretion and not 
an original possession, I conclude for two reasons. First, the Dyaks seem to 
know nothing about them. Pulang Gana, with whom in the invocation they 
are associated, is all their own. They have a theory of what he is, and why 
invoked ; but of the others they can tell little beyond the fact that their names 
have been handed down to them. Sometimes they say they are merely titles 

lit <i 

Origin and Development of Religious Belief." S. Baring Gould. (Vol. i. p. 187.)— J. P. 

i82 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo, 

of Pulang Gana, and this is strengthened by the fact that the whole passage of 
the ** Sampi " is addressed to one individual. Sometimes, however, they 
hesitatingly represent them as having a separate personality. In the second 
place, they are clearly subordinate to Pulang Gana, and indeed wherever they 
occur, they are, I believe, always named after what I may call the recognised 
deities. Dyaks have always an inclination to incorporate new titles with their 
ancient forms. In the invocation in question, Pulang Gana is also addressed 
as Sultan, Pangiran, Jegedong, Temenggong, which can have no object 
beyond that of magnifying him whom they wish to propitiate. The same 
tendency can be observed at the present time when Christian terms and ideas 
are brought to bear upon them. In heathen rites they will now shove the 
name Allah Taala to fill up the niche of a pantheorr, or to complete a line or 
make up a rhyme. 

But this theory of mere adoption hardly suits the word '* Petara," which 
is such an essential term of their language and belief, that the borrowing of it 
from others would argue an amount of external influences approaching to 
absorption. And of this there seems no sufficient evidences forthcoming. 

The question however is a wide one, and depends, for its solution, upon 
many data of various kinds, some of which must be very hypothetical, since 
we have no historical basis to work upon ; and yet no less a question than the 
origin and history of the race is involved. But the discussion of this question 
is not the object of the present paper, which aims at the less ambitious task of 
continuing the account of Dyak rehgion already introduced in the Paper on | 

** Petara."** That dealt with the theories of their belief; this will carry the f 

same subject into the region of religious rite and practice. 

Spirits, Good and Bad. 

The every day working thoughts of the Dyak about Peiara are very 
indefinite, and there is room for the reception of any amount of spirits — good, 
bad, or indifferent — to demand the awesome attention of him who may not | 

inaptly be described as a thorough child of nature. Nearly all races of men , 

have imagined a class of intermediate beings between deity and humanity, j 

whereby the gap between the two is bridged over. And the Dyak is no | 

exception ; yet his religion would seem to be not so dependent upon imaginary I 

mediators, as some higher philosophic heathen systems, because his gods, . 

according to his idea, actually give him their very presence when in answer 
to invocations and sacrifices, they visit these human regions, and partake of | 

his hospitality. But his receptivity of belief is omnivorous, and he has 
surrounded himself with thousands of ** antus " or spirits, which are supposed 
to fill earth and air, sea and sky ; and which scheme as adversaries, or appear 
as helpers of man, until the line of demarcation between Petaras and antus is 
altogether indistinct. As a matter of habit, some beings are spoken of as 
Petaras and some as antus ; but when you ask the specific difference between 
the two, only a very indefinite answer is obtainable. They slide into each with 
an imperceptible gradient, and remind one of the ** Avatara " manifestations 
of the gods. 

«^ See first part. 

Perham's Sea Dyak Gods. 183 

Any unusual noise or motion in the jungle, anything which suggests to 
the Dyak mind an invisible operation, is thought to be the presence of an 
antUy unseen by human eyes, but full of mighty power. He is mostly 
invisible, but often vouchsafes a manifestation of himself ; and when he does 
so, he is neither a graceful fairy, nor a grinning Satyr, but a good honest 
ghost of flesh and blood, a monster human being about three times the size of 
a man, with rough shaggy hair, glaring eyes as big as saucers, and huge 
glittering teeth ; sometimes dark, sometimes white in complexion ; but 
sometimes again devoid of all such terrifying features, a commonplace human 
form, in fact, a magnified reflection of the Dyaks themselves. When he is 
seen, it is generally, as might be expected, on moonlight nights ; but 
sometimes, so Dyaks aver, in the broad daylight. A young Dyak told me 
that one night he was watching for wild pigs on his farm on the skirts of 
Lingga mountain when there appeared a great white antu which he tried to 
catch by the leg, hoping to get something from him ; but the antu shook him 
off, and with one bound disappeared into the jungle. Another man told me 
that when a boy he was going to a well to bathe, when he suddenly saw close 
to him an antu of gigantic stature, and he ran for his life and shut himself up 
in his room. That evening, a few hours later, a boy in the village suddenly died, 
killed of course by the antu. Such stories could be multiplied by the hundred. 

The antus also reveal themselves in dreams ; and whenever one has been 
seen by night or day, the apparition will be almost certain to revisit the Dyak 
in his dreams ; and there is not the remotest suspicion that these visions of 
sleep are mere states of the subjective consciousness, but they are regarded as 
objective realities. 

Antus rove about the jungle and hunt like Dyaks themselves. Girgasi, 
the chief of evil spirits, is especially addicted to the chase, and may be exactly 
described as a roaring lion walking about seeking whom he may devour. An 
old man solemnly assured me that he once saw this terrible demon returning 
from his hunt and carrying on his back a captured Dyak whom he recognised. 
That very day the man died. There are certain animals in the jungle which 
roam about in herds, which the Dyaks call ** pasan ; '' these are supposed to 
be the dogs of the antus, and do their bidding. From what 1 can gather 
about these creatures, I imagine them to be a kind of small jackal ; they will 
follow and bark at men, and, from their supposed connection with the spirits, 
are greatly feared by the Dyaks, who generally run away from them as fast as 
they can. A Dyak was once hunting in the jungles of the Batang Lupar, and 
came upon an antu sitting on a fallen tree ; nothing daunted he went and sat 
upon the same tree at a respectable distance from the antu, entered into 
conversation with him, begged for his spear, or anything he could bestow ; 
but the spirit had nothing to give except some magic medicine {nbat) which 
would, by the mere fact of its possession by him, give his dogs pluck to attack 
any pig or deer. Having given him this, he advised the man to return 
quickly, for his dogs, he said, would be back soon, and might be savage with 
him. The man needed no further urging, retired a short distance in good 
order to save appearances, and then bolted through the jungle in the direction 
of his exit. 

184 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo. 

And not only do antus hunt ; but they build houses and work and farm 
just as Dyaks do. They love to erect their invisible habitations in trees, 
especially of the waringin kind ; and many a tree is pointed as sacred, being 
the abode of a spirit or spirits ; and to cut one of these down would provoke 
the spirit's vengeance. I remember an instance of a Dyak dangerously ill, 
whose malady was generally attributed to his having unwillingly cut down one 
of these possessed trees. A sacrifice was made at the foot of the tree ; but 
the disturbed antu would not be pacified, and the man died. Stories are told 
of men being spirited away into these trees for days, and found again at the 
foot of the tree safe in life and limb ; but I will not say sound in mind. The 
fact of a tree having a supernatural inhabitant is generally revealed through 
dreams. A case of this kind occurred at Banting. It was told to somebody 
in a dream that in a paltry looking kara (ficus) tree on the hill there lived an 
antu who desired to be fed, and a space round was cleared and an offering 
made. As soon as I became aware of it, I cut the tree down, and heard no 
more about it. Another way of discovering these tree spirits is the following : 
Strike an axe in the tree at sundown, and leave it adhering to the tree during 
the night. If it be found in the morning stiU in that position, no antu is 
there ; if it has fallen to the ground, he is there, and has revealed his presence 
by displacing the axe. 

The tops of hills too are favourite haunts of this invisible society ; and 
when Dyaks fell the jungle of the larger hills, they often leave a few trees 
standing on the summit as a refuge for them. A hill on the Saribas river was 
supposed to be so much the property of the spirits that it was dangerous and 
unlawful to farm it, and the jungle remained, until a few years ago, when a 
village of Dyaks near by, receiving Christianity, lost their fear of antus, and 
cleared it. 

It will have been observed that these antus are either good or evil, either 
assist man or injure him. The good ones are nearly identified with Petara, 
of whom no evil is predicated, and who never entraps man to his destruction. 
The benevolent spirit is the next grade of good being, and intercourse with it 
is coveted, for thereby comes riches and wealth. The antu story generally 
relates that the man who sees the spirit rushes to catch him by the leg (he 
can't reach higher) to get somewhat from him ; but is nearly always foiled in 
the attempt ; for the antu suddenly vanishes. But some men, it is believed, 
do obtain these much coveted gifts, and if a Dyak invariably gets a good 
harvest of paddy, it is by the magic charm, the ** ubat,** of some favouring 
spirit : if he has attained to the position of a war-leader, or be markedly 
brave, it is by the communion or touch of the same power : and in fact every 
successful man in Dyak life is credited by his fellows with the succour of one 
of these beings of the mystic world. They give men occult powers, charms, 
and magic protection against disease, and sometimes convey similar virtues by 
a simple pronouncement which is called a " sumpah " (oath). Stories are told 
of Dyaks who have the good fortune to meet with antus who have spoken 
somewhat thus : — ** You shall obtain so many heads of your enemies,'' or 
** you shall get plenty of paddy," or " you shall have brave dogs to hunt 
with,*' or ** shall be protected against small-pox," or *' never be caught by an 

Perham's Sea Dyak Gods. 185 

alligator." Medicines for the sick are believed to be given in dreams ; and 
many a Dyak has related how, when despaired of by all, some " ubat '* was 
given him in sleep, by the magic virtue of which he was completely cured. 
And sometimes when antus bestow these gifts — bits of stick or other rubbish — 
they also mention the price to be paid for them by others who need them. 
And they do more than give magic medicines; they appear in dreams to 
guide and dfrect men's actions in various matters of conduct, and especially 
in matrimonial affairs, sometimes telling them whom to marry in order to get 
wealth ; sometimes requiring them to divorce to avoid the displeasure of the 
higher world. There is plenty of room here for the play of self-interest and 
trickery, but the fact that such pretended revelations are acted up to, is 
evidence of a true belief.** 

The longing to communicate with the supernatural, common to all 
religions, has, in the Dyak, produced a special means to satisfy the aspiration. 
He has a "custom*' for the purpose, viz., *' nampok.'' To '' na^mpok'' is to 
sleep on the tops of mountains with the hope of meeting with the good spirits 
of the unseen world. A man who was fired with ambition to shine in deeds 
of strength and bravery, or one who desired to attain the position of chief, or 
to be cured of an obstinate disease, would, in olden times, spend a night or 
nights by himself on a mountain, hoping to meet a benevolent spirit who 
would give him what he desired. To be alone was a primary condition of the 
expected apparition. It can be easily seen that the desire would bring about, 
in many cases, its own fulfilment ; the earnest wish combined with a lively 
and superstitious imagination and the solemn solitude of the mountain jungle 
would, in most cases, produce the expected appearance of a Petara, or mythic 
hero with whose story he would be familiar. I have said in olden days, for 
the custom is now much less frequent ; at least, in the coast district of 
Sarawak. But it is not altogether obsolete, for, a year or two ago, a Rejang 
Dyak, afflicted with some disease, tried several hills to obtain a cure, and at 
length came to Lingga, and was guided by some Dyaks of the neighbourhood 
to Lingga mountain. He offered his sacrifice, and laid him down to sleep 
beside it, saw an antu^ and returned perfectly cured. Dyaks have erected no 
temples to Petaras or to antus, and therefore cannot do as the ancients of the 
western world who made pilgrimages to the temples of Esculapius, and of 
Isis and Serapis to obtain healing from the gods; but a pilgrimage to the 
temple at Canopus, where the suppliant spent a night before the altar in order 
to receive revelations in dreams, is exactly paralleled by the unsophisticated 
Dyak sleeping on the still mountain-top with his little sacrifice beside him. 
The spirit and object are the same, and stories of cures are similar in each. 

But the bad and angry spirits are far more numerous in Dyak belief than 
the good ones. These are regarded with dire dread. There is hardly a 
sickness which is not attributed to the unseen blow of an antu, ** What is 
the matter with so and so ?" you ask, *' Something has passed him," is the 
reply : an antu has passed him and inflicted the malady. A serious epidemic 
is the devastating presence of a powerful and revengeful spirit. You ask 

^ The Revd. H. Rowley writes of a like belief among the African races. " Religion of the 
Africans," p. 60. (J. P.) 

1 86 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

where such a one was taken ill, and you are told that at such a place *' it 
(antu) found him." Small-pox is spoken of as Raja the Chief. Cholera is the 
coming of a great spirit from the sea to kill and eat. When a report of 
cholera is bruited abroad, somebody or other will be sure to have a dream in 
which he will be told that the spirit is making his way from the sea up the 
rivers, and -will speedil}' swallow up human victims, unless he be fed with 
sacrifice and offering. These antus are always hungry, and will accept the 
sacrificial food in substitution for human beings. A sacrifice is accordingly 
made to avert the evil. The same idea prevails about all internal maladies ; 
and as people constantly get . ill, the propitiation of the antu is an ever 
recurring feature in Dyak life. It is the worship of fear, the demonolatry of 
the less intellectual races of mankind. Petara is good, and will not easily 
injure them, and they may worship it as suits their convenience; but these 
antus always about their path are violent, savage and hungry, and must be 
reckoned with ; hence the frequency of the demon-cultus. 

It hardly need be pointed out that this relation with the spirits is no mere 
ghost-seeing, where the apparition comes without object, and passes without 
result. It is a system which has a definite function ; which bestows favours, 
which brings evil, which directs conduct, and receives religious homage ; and 
therefore a constituent part of Dyak religion. 

Another way in which the antu appears to men is in the form of animals. 
A man and an antu are often interchangeable. A man will declare that he has 
seen an antu, like a gigantic human being ; and in his dream he will find the 
same aftttc in the form of a deer, or other animal. The following is told of a 
Dyak, whom I know well. He was at work alone in the jungle, and cut 
himself with his parang : he bled profusely and fainted : and after recovering 
his senses he saw beside him a maias (orang-utan) which had starched the 
bleeding and dressed the wound ; and when departing the creature hung up 
some ubat for use in future contingencies. In other stories, the man is 
spirited away by the animal as in the following. A Dyak was fishing by a 
large deep pool, and saw in the water a huge python, about 50 feet long ^nd 
big in proportion. He at once rushed to the conclusion that this was no 
mere beast, but an antu in serpent form ; and without a moment's hesitation 
jumped down upon its back. The python dived, and then crept up the bank, 
and crawled along the road, but they had not gone far before the serpent was 
metamorphosed into a man, thus justifying the man's guess. As the two 
proceeded, the antu asked him what he wanted ; did he wish to be a hunter,* a 
diver, a fisher, a climber, a pig-trapper, or to be a rich man ? No, he wished 
to have a brave spirit and an invulnerable body, and to overcome his tribal 
enemies without mortal hurt to himself. The antu was complacent, and told 
him that if he married a certain woman (naming her), his request should be 
granted. He made overtures to the lady, but her parents refused, and the 
marriage was not consummated : consequently he got only a part of the luck 
which the antu prospectively gave him. His after life, however, was thought 
to have verified the truth of the apparition ; for he rose to a position of note 
among his people, and distinguished himself in that very line in which the 
antu said he should. 

Perham's Sea Dyak. Gods. 187 

The alligator, also, is more than a canny beast ; it is believed to be 
endowed with spirit-intelligence ; and Dyaks will not willingly take part in 
capturing one, unless the saurian has first destroyed one of themselves ; for 
why, say they, should they commit an act of aggression, when he and his 
kindred can so easily repay them ? But should the alligator take a human 
life, revenge becomes a sacred duty of the living relatives, who will trap the 
man eater in the spirit of an officer of justice pursuing a criminal. Others, 
even then, hang back, reluctant to embroil themselves in a quarrel which does 
not concern them. The man-eating alligator is supposed to be pursued by a 
righteous Nemesis ; and whenever one is caught they have a profound con- 
viction that it must be the guilty one, or his accomplice ; for no innocent 
leviathan could be permitted by the fates to be caught by man. The only 
time when anything like homage may be supposed to be offered to the 
alligator, is in the ordeal of diving. When Dyaks left to themselves cannot 
settle their litigations by talking and arguing, the opposing parties each select 
a diver ; and victory goes to the side whose diver can remain longest in the 
water without fainting.*^ When the divers proceed from the village house to 
the water, somebody will follow saying a sampi (invocation);** and casting 
rice about right and left, and on the water as he monotones his part. He 
calls out to the Royal Alligators and Royal Fishes, and all the minor denizens 
of the waters to come to his party's aid, and confound their opponents by 
shortening the breath of the opposite diver. The whole, often disorderly, 
always exciting, is an appeal to Petara ; and all that live in the waters are 
asked to give their assistance. 

Among all Oriental races, the serpent has been credited with large 
capacities. The Phoenicians adored it as a beneficent genius. With the 
ancient Persians it symbolised the principle of evil. The Chinese attributed 
to the kings of heaven bodies of serpents. ** There is no superstition more 
universal than ophiolatry. There is hardly a people on earth among whom 
the serpent was not either an object of divine worship, or superstitious venera- 
tion." The Dyak is no exception. His feelings towards prominent members 
of the snake tribe is something more than reverential regard. And if his form 
of the cultus is far from the elaborate proportions of the worship of the 
Danhgbwe in the serpents' house of Dahomey,^ the belief in serpent guardian- 
ship is, where it exists, as strong. All Dyak worship, to whatsoever directed, 
is irregular and occasional ; and it is only here and there that an instance of 
ophiolatry is found ; but the veneration, such as it is, is the same which is 
given to antus and deities in general. The serpent is, in fact, in the Dyak 
view an antUy and partakes of the capricious movements of the super-human 
race, who generally confer their favours upon the great, and pass by the poor 
and insignificant. It is a personal and not a tribal deity. The python {sawa) 

^ [The ordeal by diving can be traced from India to Borneo through the Burmese, Siamese 
and Malays. See As. Researches, i. 390-404 ; Journal R.A S. Bengal. V. XXXV. : De Backer, 
L'Archipel Indien, 376 ; Low's Dissertation on Province Wellesley, 284 ; De la Loub^re's Siam, 87 ; 
Journal R.A.S. (Straits Branch) ii. 30. — Ed. Journ. Straits Asiatic Soc.J 

*• [Malay, jampi. — Ed. ibid.\ 

"" Rowley's •• Religion of the Africans," p. 46. (J. P.) 

i88 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo, 

and the cobra (tedong) are the snakes generally selected by the antus for their 
habitation, not all the members of either class, but only individuals which 
become known as spirit-possessed through dreams, or inference from other 
signs. Should one of these reptiles be in the habit of frequenting the vicinity 
of a village house, it is always regarded as the good genius of some one or 
other of the principal men in it. Not long ago I saw a small cobra come 
under a house, and crawl about, not heeding half a dozen of us who were 
watching its movements ; it did not attempt to touch the chickens, nor did it 
show fright when I poked it with a stick, but simply inflated its hood a little, 
and hissed, and went on in eager search of something ! At length it caught 
a frog, and seemed satisfied. I found it was a constant visitor, and said to 
be a ** spirit-helper '' of a man of the place, who, no doubt, would have fined 
any one who dared to lay violent hands upon it. I was not told, however, 
that any worship was paid to it. In another case, a large python went up 
into a house, and the inmates interpreted the visit as that of one of the 
beneficent powers. They put it under a pasu (paddy measure), and offered a 
sacrifice to it, and made a feast also for themselves, sat round the snake, and 
ate, congratulating themselves upon their good fortune. This done they let 
it go again into the jungle. In a third case, the p>i:hon came at night, and 
astonished the community by swallowing one of their pigs. This bold attack 
was thought to mean that they had been guilty of neglect of duty to his spirit- 
ship ; so with all haste an offering was prepared, and laid out on the floor of 
the house, the snake, gorged with the pig, being still underneath : some words 
of submission and entreaty were said, and lo ! the beast vomited up the pig, 
thereby affording indubitable proof that their view of the case was right ! 
They then managed to secure it in a bambu cage, and left it in honourable 
captivity until the morning when I arrived and saw it. A company of them 
afterwards took it into the jungle, where they offered it another sacrifice, and 
then allowed it to slide out of the cage into the wood. It was believed to be 
the tuah, the ** luck-bringer,'* of the head-man of the place, who was also chief 
of the district. 

In many regions of idolatry, the dread which animals inspired in man, 
more or less defenceless against their attacks, may have led to their being 
regarded as objects of worship. This has been urged of ophiolatry. " If the 
worship perpetuated itself," says Mr. B. Gould,'* '* long after other forms of 
idolatry had disappeared, it was because the serpent was that creature against 
which weapons and precautions were of the least avail." Whether this dread of 
the beast be accepted as the true account of the origin of the cultus or not, all 
trace of the idea of propitiating an angry deity in the snake worship of the 
Dyak has long disappeared. One Dyak with whom I am acquainted keeps a 
cobra in his house, and regards it as his tutelary spirit, and everywhere among 
them these spirit-possessed reptiles are regarded as friendly visitors sent by 
some higher power for good ; and the sacrifice becomes an acknowledgment 
of obligation, and a gift to keep them in good humour, according to the 
maxim — ** Presents win the gods as well as men." But ophio-worship needs 

« •• Origin and Development of Religious Belief." (Vol. I., p. 138.)— J. P. 

Perham's Sea Dyak Gods. i8g 

to have no special cause assigned for its existence. It is a natural outcome of 
that primitive system of thought which has everywhere personified inanimate 
nature, and attributed human intelligence to the animal creation, one of the 
many fruits which has grown up from the wonder, the awe, and the dependent 
feeling with which uncivilised races have looked upon the mysteries of the 
great natura naturans ; one more element to complete the circle of nature- 
worship which has had charms for many of the world's primitive races. 

To this account of spirit-worship, manifested in many forms, I may add, 
that the extreme anxiety to obey the dictates of the spirits, especially when 
made known in dreams, led, in one instance, to an act of anthropolatry. A 
certain village-house was preparing a grand celebration in honour of Singalang 
Burong, when a Dyak — not very respectable in character — gave out that an 
antu had informed him in a dream that this house must offer a sacrifice to 
himself (the man), or bear the brunt of the antu's displeasure. This alterna- 
tive, of course, could not be borne, and they fetched the man in a basket, put 
him in a place of honour, presented to him an offering of food and drink as a 
religious act and then carried him back again to his own abode. This fellow 
was at the time committing a flagrant breach of social laws, and possibly 
invented the message from the spirit, with the object of screening his 
reputation by showing himself a favourite of the gods. But this view of the 
matter did not present itself to the Dyak mind, which is capable of swallowing 
any monstrosity, or absurd falsehood, if it only pretends to be a revelation 
from the spirits. Such, too, is the implicit faith they put in dreams. 


Something must now be said about the sacrifices which have been so 
frequently mentioned. The ordinary offering is made up of rice (generally 
cooked in bambus), cakes, eggs, sweet potatoes, plantains, and any fruit that 
may be at hand, and a fowl or small chicken. This piring, when offered in 
the house, is put upon a tabak, or brass salver : if the occasion of the sacrifice 
necessitates its being offered anywhere away from the house, a little platform 
is constructed, fastened together with rotan, upon four sticks stuck in the 
ground. This is para piring, altar of sacrifice. The offering of course is laid 
upon it. But generally this is covered with a rough roof, and thatched with 
nipah leaves, looking like a miniature native house ; but it is the most rude 
and flimsy thing imaginable and soon tumbles to pieces. This is the langkau 
piring, shed of sacrifice. The god or spirit is supposed to come and partake 
of the good things spread there, and go away contented. I once remonstrated 
with them on the futility of the whole proceedings, on the ground that the 
food was clearly not eaten by any invisible being, but by fowls or pigs, or 
perhaps by reckless boys full of mischief, who would brave the fear of the 
spirits. But their answer was ready. The antu, whatever form it may take 
in showing itself to human eyes, is, as a spirit, invisible, a thing of soul, not of 
matter : now, they said, the soul spirit comes, and eats the soul (samangai) of 
the food : what is left on the altar is only its husk, its accidents, not its true 
essence. Now this answer, remarkable as coming from them, contains, as it 

igo H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N, Borneo, 

does, something similar to an old philosophic idea, which, in better than Dyak 
society, is not altogether obsolete as a disputed matter in the present day. 

An important element of many sacrifices is the sprinkling of the blood of 
the slain victim, ginselan, or singkelan. The person on whose behalf the 
sacrifice is offered, is sprinkled with the blood of the fowl, and not only 
persons, but farms of growing paddy : the persons, I imagine, to atone for 
some infringement of pemali, the paddy, to make it grow. Sacrificing on 
behalf of farms is a vital part of their agricultural system, and no Dyak would 
think his paddy could possibly come to maturity without continual application 
of the fowl's blood. The bird is killed and waved about over the farm, but on 
some occasions, when the growing is supposed to need only a slight application 
of sacrificial virtue, the comb of the fowl is just sHt to allow a little blood to 
ooze out. 

On most occasions when a victim is slain, it is afterwards eaten, be it pig 
or fowl ; but in some cases, it is otherwise disposed of. If it be a sacrifice to 
Pulang Gana at the commencement of th^ farming, the pig and other elements 
of the offering are conveyed with. great pomp, the beating of gongs and 
streamers flying in the breeze, to the land to be prepared for receiving the 
seed ; the pig is then killed, its liver and gall examined for divination, and the 
whole put into the ground with some tuak (native drink) poured upon it, and 
dedicated with a long invocation to the great paddy producer. This is the 
function which is called buja. If the sacrifice be for the crime of adultery, the 
victims are thrown into the jungle, and on the occasion of a marriage, I 
remember the offering was cast into the river. For all ordinary sacrifices, a 
fowl suffices ; but a pig, being the largest animal which the Dyak domesticates, 
is naturally selected as the highest victim : should pigs, however, not be 
procurable at the time, two fowls can be substituted. And why? I asked. 
Because the legs of two fowls are equal to those of a pig ! ® 

These sacrifices are not bound up with any priestly order ; any one may 
offer them ; but old men are generally selected in respect of the honour due to 
their age. No priesthood, in the proper sense of the term, seems to exist 
among these Sea Dyaks ; for the Manang or medicine man does not fulfil the 
necessary conditions. Any man who is chief, or who has been fortunate in 
life, or who is well up in ancient lore, and knows the form of address to the 
deities, may perform the sacrificial function. 

And the worship is purely external matter, unconnected with morality, a 
simple opits operatum, a magical action which effects its object irrespective of 
the condition of mind, or habits of life of the worshipper. A man of sober 
conduct would be preferred to one of notoriously bad character, to offer a 
sacrifice ; but I have not perceived that any good moral or spiritual 
dispositions are required to secure the object of the function. This indeed 
follows from the fact that no improvement of the moral being is sought for, 
or even thought of, as the purpose o( sl piring. However good Petara may be 
supposed to be, the spirits in general have not made known that they delight 

** Among the Dyaks of whom I am spedally writing, I find no memory of human sacrifices : 
but the Melanos were once addicted to the practice, and I question if, even yet, they have died out 
amongst the Kayans of the interior. (J. P.) 

Perham's Sea Dyak Gods, 191 

in virtue; and the Dyak does not offer sacrifices and repeat invocations to 
promote personal righteousness and wisdom ; but to get good crops of paddy, 
the heads of his enemies, skill* in craft, health and long life. Neither his 
prayers nor aspirations reach higher than the realm of the visible and present. 
And in cases where we can see that propitation for sin is the esoteric basis of 
the institution, as for instance, in the slaying of sacrifice after an act of 
adultery, yet the thoughts of the Dyak are not directed to the cleansing of the 
offenders, but to the appeasing of the anger of the gods, in order to preserve 
their land and their crops from blight and ravage. There is no confession of 
sin, nor petition for the pardon of the offenders. It is a witness of a belief 
that the offences of man provoke the displeasure of the gods, and that 
satisfaction is demanded ; but there is nothing to show that the ultimatte 
purity and improvement of the offender is contemplated as the thing desired. 
It is compensation for wrong done, and a bargain to secure immunity for their 
material interests. I am speaking of the sentiment consciously entertained by 
the Dyak himself concerning his own piring ; not of the whole rationale which 
we can give of it. 

I must now pass on to a further element of Dyak religion, which is yet 
only another phase of that nature worship which pervades all their institutions. 
The Dyak, like other races, feels his ignorance of, and dependence upon, every 
part of the world about him. He feels that nature, which has voices so many 
and wondrous, must have something to say to him, something to tell him. 
When is its voice to him to be heard ? He feels a need of some guidance from 
the powers around and above him in his going out and coming in, in his 
precarious farming, in his occupations in the sombre depths of the jungle, in 
his boating ever the dangerous rapids, or the treacherous tides of the swift 
rivers. He is aware that death and destruction may suddenly confront him in 
many a hidden danger ; and he longs for something to hint to him when to 
advance and when to recede. He is a ** questioning humanity; " and he has 
devised for himself an ** answering nature.*' 


Like the ancient Celts, who adored the voice of birds ^ ; like the Romans 
who took auguries from the flight or notes of the raven, the crow, the owl, the 
cock, the magpie, the eagle and the vulture, the Dyak has his sacred birds, 
whose flight or calls are supposed to bring him direction from the unseen 
powers. The law and observance of omens occupy, probably, a greater share 
of his thoughts than any other part of his religion or superstition ; and I 
cannot imagine that any tribe in any age ever lived in more absolute 
subservience to augury than do the Dyaks. 

The system, as carried out by them, is most elaborate and complicated, 
involving uncertainties innumerable to all who are not fully experienced in the 
science, and the younger men have constantly to ask the older ones how to 
act in unexpected coincidences of various and apparently contradictory omens. 
To give a complete account of this intricate system would exceed my limits, 

^ Maclbar's •• Conversion of the Celts," pp. 25, 26. (J. P.) 

192 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

and severely tax the patience of the reader; but an attempt to give some 
definite notion of it is necessary. 

The birds thus " used," as Dyaks say, are not many. I can only give 
their native names : — Katupong, Beragai, Kutok, Mbuas, Nendak, Papan, 
Bejampong. Most are, I believe, beautiful in plumage ; all are small, and, like 
most tropical birds, have nothing that can be called song ; but their calls are 
sometimes shrill and piercing. The reason why these are the birds selected, 
and only these, will appear in the end. But in practice, the system goes 
beyond birds, and embraces the rusa (deer), pelandok (mouse-deer), the kijang 
(gazelle), tenggiling (armadillo), rioh (insect), rejah (insect), burong malam 
(insect), tuchok (lizard), sandah (bat), the python and cobra, and sometimes 
even the rat : all these may be omens in various ways and circumstances, and 
therefore, in this connection, they are designated burong (birds), and to augur 
from any of them is beburong. But these other creatures are subordinate to 
the birds, which are the foundation upon which the superstructure of good 
luck is to be raised ; and from which alone augury is sought at the beginning 
of any important undertaking. 

The yearly rice-farming is a matter of much ceremony as well as of labour 
with the Dyak, and must be inaugurated with proper omens. Some man who 
is successful with his paddy will be the augur and undertake to obtain omens 
for a certain area of land which others besides himself will farm. Some time 
before the Pleiades are sufficiently high above the horizon to warrant the 
clearing the grounds of jungle or grass, the man sets about his work. He will 
have to hear the nendak on the left, the katupong on the left, the burong malam 
and the beragai on the left, and in the order I have written them. As soon as 
he has heard the nendak, he will break off a twig of anything growing near, and 
take it home and put it in a safe place. But it may happen that some other 
omen bird, or creature, is the first to make itself heard or seen; and in that case 
the day's proceeding is vitiated ; he must give the matter up, return and try 
his chance another day ; and thus sometimes three or four days are gone before 
he has obtained his first omen. When he has heard the nendak, he will then 
go to listen for the katupong and the rest, but with the same liability to delays ; 
and it may possibly require a month to obtain all those augural predictions 
which are to give them confidence in the result of their labours. The augur 
has now the same number of twigs or sticks, as birds he has heard, and he 
takes these to the land selected for farming, and puts them in the ground, 
says a short form of address to the birds and Pulang Gana, cuts a little grass 
or jungle with his parang, and returns. The magic virtue of the birds has 
been conveyed to the land. 

For house-building, the same birds are to be obtained, and in the same 
way. But for a war expedition, birds on the right hand are required, except 
the nendak, which, if it make a certain peculiar call, can be admitted on the 

These birds can be bad omens as well as good. If heard on the wrong 
side, if in wrong order, if the note or call be of the wrong kind, the matter in 
hand must be postponed, or abandoned altogether; unless a conjunction of 
subsequent good omens occur, which, in the judgment of old experts, can 

Perham's Sea Dyak Gods. 193 

overbear the preceding bad ones. Hence, in practice this birding becomes a 
most involved matter, because the birds will not allow themselves to be heard 
in a straightforward orthodox succession. After all it is only a balance of 
probabilities ; for it is seldom that Dyak patience is equal to waiting till the 
omens occur according to the standard theory ; but this just corresponds to 
the general ebb and flow of good things in actual life. 

There are certain substitutions for this tedious process, but I believe 
they are not much in vogue. Thus for farming, it is said, that a bit of gold 
in any shape may be taken and hidden in the ground ; and the result will be 
as though the proper birds had been heard. This looks like a case of bribing 
the spirits. Or the matter may be compounded for by sacrifice. A fowl may 
be killed so that the blood shall drop into a hole in the earth, in which also 
the fowl must be buried. Or the augural function may be shortened by using 
an egg newly laid, which must be taken and broken on the ground. If it 
should turn out to be rotten, it is a bad omen : if quite fresh, it is good. This 
is to be recommended, for it would certainly always secure the desired result. 
So on the occasion of a war expedition. If an offering be prepared and some 
tuak (drink), and the sacrifice be offered with beating of gongs and drums on 
starting from the house, no birds need be listened to on the way. But these 
ceremonies are supposed to fall short of the real thing and are not much 

These are the inaugurating omens sought in order to strike the line of 
good luck, to render the commencement of an undertaking auspicious. The 
continuance of good fortune must be carried on by omen influence to the 

To take farming again, where the practice becomes most extensive and 
conspicuous. When any of these omens, either of bird, beast, or insect, are 
heard or seen by the Dyak on his way to the paddy lands, he supposes they 
foretell either good or ill to himself or to the farm ; and in most cases he will 
turn back, and wait for the following day before proceeding again. The 
nendak is generally good, so is the katupong on right or left, but the papan is of 
evil omen, and the man must beat a retreat. A beragai heard once or twice 
matters not ; but if often a day's rest is necessary. The tnbuas on the right is 
wrong, and sometimes it portends so much blight and destruction that the 
victim of it must rest five days. The ** shout ** of the kutok is evil, and that of 
the katupon so bad that it requires three days* absence from the farm to allow 
the evil to pass away ; and even then a beragai must be heard before 
commencing work. The beragai is a doctor among birds. If the cry of a 
deer, 3ipelandok, or a gazelle be heard, or if a rat crosses the path before you 
on your way to the farm, a day's rest is necessary ; or you will cut yourself, 
get ill^ or suffer by failure of the crop. When a good omen is heard, one 
which is supposed to foretell a plentiful harvest, you must go on to the farm, 
and do some trifling work by way of ** leasing the works of your hands *' there, 
and then return ; in this way you clench the foreshadowed luck, and at the 
same time reverence the spirit which promises it. And should deer, pelandok, 
or gazelle come out of the jungle and on to the farm when you are working 
there, it means that customers will come to buy the corn, and that, therefore, 

194 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo. 

there will be corn for them to buy. This is the best omen they can have ; 
and they honour it by resting from work for three days. 

But the worst of all omens is a dead beast of any kind, especially those 
included in the omen list, found an3rwhere on the farm. It infuses a deadly 
poison into the whole crop, and will kill some one or other of the owner's 
family within a year. When this terrible thing happens, they test the omen 
by killing a pig, and divining from appearances of the liver immediately after 
death. If the prediction of the omen be strengthened, all the rice grown on 
that ground must be sold ; and, if necessary, other rice bought for their own 
consumption. Other people may eat it, for the omen only affects those at 
whom it is directly pointed. A swarm of bees lighting on the farm is an 
equally dreadful matter. 

And there is another way of escaping the effect of omens less vicious 
than the foregoing. Some men, by a peculiar magic influence, or by gift of 
the bird spirits, are credited with possessing in themselves, in their own 
hearts and bodies, some occult power which can overcome bad omens 
(penabar burong). These men are able, by eating something, however small, 
of the produce of the farm, to turn off the evil prognostication. Anything 
grown on it which can be eaten, a bit of Indian corn, a little mustard, or a 
few cucumber shoots, is taken to the wise man ; and he quietly eats it raw 
for a small consideration and thereby appropriates to himself the evil omen 
which in him becomes innocuous and thus delivers the other from the ban of 
the pemaliy or tabu. 

The burong malam is an insect so called because it is generally heard at 
night ; it is especially sought after on the war-path as the guide to safety and 
victory. It is altogether a good genius, as the nendak is among the birds. 
And in farming it is equally valued. A man heard it on one occasion in a 
tree on his farm-land, late in the morning ; and dedicated an offering to it at 
the foot of the tree, which was afterwards regarded as sacred, and was not 
felled with the rest. And he had his reward in an abundant harvest. 

These omen-creatures are the regular attendants of the Dyak, not only 
in his farming, but in all his travels and works of every description. If he be 
only going to visit a friend a few miles off, a bad bird will send him back. 
If he be engaged in carrying timbers from the jungle for his house, and 
hear a kutok or a bejampong or a mbuaSy the piece must be thrown down, and 
left until a day or two after, or it may have to be abandoned altogether. A 
man built a boat, and, when nearly finished, a kutok flew close across the 
bows ; it was cast aside and allowed to rot. If at night they hear an owl 
make a peculiar noise they call sabut they will hastily clear out the house in 
the morning ; and remain away some weeks, it may be, in temporary sheds, 
and then only return when they have heard a nendak, and a beragai on the 
left. There are many omens which make a place unfit for habitation, and 
among them are a beragai flying over a house and an armadillo crawling up 
into it. 

When visiting the sick, birds on the right are desired, as possessing more 
power for health. And here I may mention another way of communicating 
the virtue of the good omen to the object. When a Dyak hears a good bird 

Perham's Sea Dyak Gods, 195 

on his way to see a sick friend, he will sit down, and chew some betel-nut, 
sirih leaf, lime, tobacco and gambier for his own refreshment, and then chew 
a little more and wrap it in a leaf and take it to his friend, and if the sick 
man can only eat, it will materially help the cure ; for does it not contain the 
voice of the bird, a mystic elixir of life from the unseen world ? 

To kill one of these birds or insects is believed to bring certain disease, if 
not death. I was told that a woman was once paddling her canoe along 
near the bank of a stream, and saw a little beragai on a bough, and not 
recognising it she caught it, and took it home for a child's plaything. She 
was soon made aware of her mistake, and offered the bird a little sacrifice 
and let it go. That night she had a dream wherein she was told that, if 
she had killed it, or omitted the offering, she would have died. But this idea 
of sacredness of life does not apply to the deer, the gazelle, the pelandok, the 
armadillo and iguanas which they freely kill for food, and rats as pests. 
Physical wants are stronger than religious theory. Another inconsistency 
appears when, in setting up the posts and frame-work of a house, they 
beat gongs and make a deafening noise to prevent any birds from being 

This is only the merest outline of the practice, the full treatment of 
which would require a volume ; but it is sufficient to show that there never 
was a people in more abject mental bondage to a superstition, than are the 
Dyaks of Borneo to the custom of beburong,^^ In a race of considerable 
energy of temperament, like the Sea Dyaks, one would have expected that 
the tediousness of the system would have produced a remedy. To consult 
omens at the commencement of important undertakings is one thing; to be 
liable to obstruction and restraint at every step of Hfe, is quite another and 
far heavier matter. The substitutions before-mentioned, no doubt, were 
invented as a short cut through a troublesome matter, but they have 
evidently failed in the object. And then the intricacies of the subject are so 
endless. Old men, industrious and sensible in ordinary matters of life, will 
sit for hours at a stretch discussing lawful or unlawful, lucky or unlucky, 
combinations of these voices of nature, and their effect upon the work and 
destiny of men. Only the older men are able to tell what is to be done in all 
cases. The deaf who do not hear, and the children who do not understand, 
are conveniently supposed to be exempt from obedience. And this involved 
system of life is thoroughly believed in as the foundation of all success. 
Stories upon stories are recounted of the failures, of the sicknesses and of the 
deaths that have resulted from disregard of the omens. You may reason 
with them against the system, but in the coincidences which they can 
produce they think they have a proof positive of its truth ; and with them an 
accidental coincidence is more convincing than the most cogent reasoning. 
But it need hardly be said, that the citing of precedents is very one-sided. 
All cases in which the event has apparently verified the prediction, are 
carefully remembered, whilst those in which the omen has been falsified are 
as quickly forgotten. 

'* This remark perhaps hardly applies now to Dyaks of the coast, who, being subject to other 
influences, are gradually relinquishing the custom. (J. P.) 

196 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

The object of the bird-cultus is like that of all other rites : to secure 
good crops, freedom from accidents and falls and diseases, victory in war, 
and profit in exchange and trade, skill in discourse, and cleverness in all 
native craft. I say bird-CM//tts; for it rises from observance of omens into 
invocation and worship of the birds, as the following extract from a ** Sampi 
Umai " will show : — 

I call to ye, O Birds ! 
Which birds do you call, do you beckon ? 

The false, the lying birds. 

The mocking, the wicked ones. 

The evil ones which in sideways, 

Those which start in sleep. 

Which flutter their wings as a sail : ** 
These I do not call, I do not beckon. 
Which then do you call, do you beckon ? 

Those which lay and hatch to perfection, 

Which are clean of breast and heart, 

Whose discourse compels assent. 

Whose fame reaches afar. 

Whose praise is heard and repeated, 

Which are just and pure and simple. 

The palms of whose hands are lucky, 

Which sleep and have good dreams. 
These I call, these I beckon. 
That when they pass through the jungle, 
They may keep their hands in order ; 
When they pass other men's things, 
They may be on guard against stealing ; 
When they talk they may also understand ; 
When they quarrel they may rebuke them ; 
When men strive they may cool the fiery spirit. 

Katupong of the late Menggong. 

Papon of the late Dunggan. 

Kutoh of the late Manok. 

Buntu of the late Puanku, 

Pangkas of the late Lunas. 

Kunding of the late Sumping. 

Burong Malam of the late Awan. 

Rich of the late Manoh, 

Rejat of the late Lunchat. 

Kasui of the late GaliJ^ 

These I call, these 1 beckon. 

That they may never labour in vain nor return empty. 

Never be fruitless, never be barren. 

Never be disappointed, never be ashamed, 

" This probably refers to locusts which eat the young paddy. (J. P.) 

" These profess to be the names of ancestors who have been specially favoured by the birds 
named : and the variation of the names of the birds is probably to be accounted for by the feet ; 
that the same birds are called by different names. (J- ^') 

Perham's Sea Dyak Gods. 197 

Never be false, never tell lies, 

These I call these I beckon. 

That when I go on the war path. 

They may be with me to obtain a head ; 

When I farm. 

They may be with me to fill the paddy bins ; 

When I trade, 

They may be with me to get a menaga jar.^ 

These I call, these I beckon, 

These I shout to, these I look to. 

These I send for, these I approach, 

These I invoke, these I worship. 

The birds are here contemplated as in company with the Dyak, ordering 
his life, and giving effect to his labour ; and the invocation and offering are 
to impetrate their favour. Another function in which the cultus of these 
winged creatures comes out distinctly is the festival which is described as 
mri burong makai, giving the birds to eat, that is, giving them an offering. It 
may be said to be a minor festival in honour of Singalang Burong and his 
sons-in-law, the omen spirit-birds. The sacrifice, which follows upon the 
usual invocation, is divided into two portions ; one of which is suspended 
over the roof-ridge of the house, and the other upon the edge of the tanju, or 
drying platform, which fronts every Dyak village-house. 

In answer to the question of the origin of this system of **birding,*' 
some Dyaks have given the following. In early times the ancestor of the 
Malays and the ancestor of the Dyak had, on a certain occasion, to swim 
across a river. Both had books. The Malay tied his firmly in his turban, 
kept his head well out of water, and reached the opposite bank with his book 
intact and dry. The Dyak, less wise, fastened his to the end of his siraty 
waist-cloth, and the current washed it away, for in swimming, the sirat was 
of course in the water. But the fates intervened to supply the loss, and gave 
the Dyak this system of omens as a substitute for the book. 

Another story relates the following. Some Dyaks in the Batang Lupar 
made a great feast, and invited many guests. When everything was ready 
and arrivals expected, a tramp and hum, as of a great company of people, 
was heard close to the village. The hosts, thinking it to be the invited 
friends, went forth to meet them with meat and drink, but found with some 
surprise they were all utter strangers. However, without any questioning, 
they received them with due honour, and gave them all the hospitalities of 
the occasion. When the time of departing came, they asked the strange 
visitors who they were, and from whence, and received something like the 
following reply from their chief: ** I am Singalang Burong ^ and these are my 
sons-in-law, and other friends. When you hear the voices of the birds 
(giving their names), know that you hear us, for they are our deputies in this 
lower world." Thereupon the Dyaks discovered they had been entertaining 

^ Dyak property consists in, and is reckoned by, jars of certain recognised patterns. (J. P.) 

ig8 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N, Borneo. 

spirits, and received, as reward of their hospitality, the knowledge of the 
omen system. 

But the full Dyak explanation of the subject is contained in the legend of 
Stu, which is perhaps worth epitomising. Siu lived in the very early ages of 
the world, when men were still but few, and confined to a comparatively 
small area, and with only such knowledge as raised them a little above the 
brute creation. One day he goes out shooting with his blow-pipe; but loses 
his way, wanders about, and at last emerges on the sea coast. Here he sees 
a Dyak woman wondrously beautiful, who straightway recognises him, and 
offers to marry him. He objects on the score that he has lost his way, and 
knows not how to reach his home again ; but she overrules the objection by 
informing him that she is well acquainted wdth the way both to his and her 
own country, and, if he will only follow her, she will conduct him to his 
friends. He consents, and in a short time they reach the village, and find 
Siu's parents wailing him for dead. In the sudden surprise of his arrival, they 
hardly recognise his wife, but after the joy is somewhat sobered down, they 
bethink themselves of the strange lady, and are lost in admiration of her 
beautiful form and features. No questions are asked about her parentage. 
In course of time, a child is born, who is named Seragunting, who grows big 
in a miraculously short space of time. One day he cries and won't be 
pacified. All caress him but to no purpose. His face is as red as a capsicum 
with weeping, and Siu asks his wife to take him again, and she refuses ; 
whereupon he reproaches her with slight irritation of temper. She replies 
nothing, but quietly packs up her things, marches out of the house, and 
departs through the jungle to her unknown home. The boy continues to 
cry, and persistently begs his father to take him after his mother. After 
some demurring, Siu yields, and father and son depart to go they know not 
where. Night comes on, and they rest under the shelter of the forest, and a 
strange thing occurs. In a leaf on the ground they find some fresh milk, 
which Seragunting drinks. They trudge on for three or four days, resting at 
night, when they always find milk in a leaf for Seragunting. At length they 
come to the coast, and see in the distance the mother's hat floating on the 
water ; and there is nothing to do, but to camp again for the night. Again 
more milk is found in a leaf. 

Next morning, a boat, and Seragunting^ who takes the lead of his father 
in all things, hails it and asks the paddlers to take him and his father. The 
boat veers towards the land, but some in the boat recognize the two 
wanderers, and shout out : ** Oh, it is only Siu, and his boy ; let them alone 
to die if they must.*' The boat is shoved off again and disappears. This is 
the boat of Katupong, son-in-law of Singalang Burong. Exactly the same 
scene enacted six times more on the passing of the boats of Beragai, Kuto, 
Mbuas, Nefuiak, Papan and Bejampong. Again the two are left alone on the 
shore, and again the milk mysteriously appears on the leaf. 

On the following morning, they behold a strange shape rise out of the 
sea in the distance, and soon recognize it to be a gigantic spider, which 
gradually approaches them and asks what they are doing. They reply that 
they want to go across the sea. The spider affirms it can guide them, gives 



^ Perham^s Sea Dyak Gods. 199 

Seragunting some nee, and bids them follow, not turning to the right nor to 
the left. They all walk on the water which becomes as hard as a sand bank 
under their feet. After being a long time out of sight of land, they approach 
an opposite shore, and finding a landing place with a large number of boats 
betokening a place well inhabited. The spider directs them to the house of 
the mother ; and they find themselves at last in the house of no less a 
personage than Singalang Burong, 

And thus it comes to light that this mysterious woman, who so strangely 
and suddenly falls across Sius path, is in reality an inhabitant of the spirit- 
world, who has condescended to become the wife of a mortal. She is Bunsu 
Katupong, the youngest of the Katupong family, niece of Singalang Burong, 
and one of that family of spirit-birds of whom he is chief. 

But at first no one takes any notice of them, and Singalang Burofig is in 
his panggah or seat of state, and the mother does not appear. Seragunting 
with his usual precocity calls the sons-in-law of the great spirit his uncles, 
but they will not acknowledge him, and threaten to kill him and his father. 
They watch to mark whether the boy recognises his mother's cup and plate, 
her sirih box, and mosquito curtains, and behold he makes straight for them 
without the slightest hesitation. They are not satisfied, and propose several 
ordeals in all which Seragunting is miraculously successful. As a last trial 
they all go hunting, Katupong, Beragai, and the rest all take their well-proved 
dogs, and leave the boy and his father to get one where they can, yet they are 
both to be killed if they are not more successful than the others. Seragunting 
calls to him an old dog which is nothing but skin and bones, and can hardly 
walk, and gently strikes him, whereupon the dog is in an instant fat, plump 
and strong. Katupong and his friends return in the afternoon without 
anything, and in the evening, Seragunting and his dog appear chasing up a 
huge boar to the foot of the ladder of the house, where the pig makes a stand. 
Katupong and his friends fling their spears at him, but they glide off, and they 
themselves are within an ace of being caught in the tusks of the beast ; then 
Seragunting goes to the room, gets a little knife of his mother's and gently 
throws it at the pig, and it instantly drops down dead. 

After these miraculous feats, there is no longer any room for doubt, and 
Seragunting is acknowledged and treated by all as a true grandson of Singalang 
\ Burong. They now live happily together for some time, until one day when 

Singalang Burong goes to bathe ; Seragunting in his absence plays about the 
panggah, and turns up his grandfather's pillow, and sees underneath, as in a 
glass, the place of his birth and all his father's relations, and calls his father 
and they both see the mystic vision. From that time the father is sad and 
home-sick, and cannot eat food, and soon asks to be allowed to return to his 
own place. Singalang Burong discovers that they have looked under his 
magic pillow, but is not angry, and gives his consent to their departure. 

But before returning to the lower world, Siu and his son have several 
things to learn. They are taken on a war-expedition, that they may know 
how to fight an enemy with bravery and successful tactics ; they are taught 
how to plant paddy, and wait until it is ripe in order to have a practical 
knowledge of every stage of rice-growing; they are initiated into different 

200 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N, Borneo. 

ways of catching fish and are shown how to set traps for pig and deer, and, 
above all, the observance of all the omens good and bad is carefully explained 
to them. ** These birds,'* says Singalang Burong, " possess my mind and spirit, 
and represent me in the lower world. When you hear them, remember it is 
we who speak for encouragement or for warning." Some paddy seed is 
then given to them and a variety of other presents and they depart. No 
sooner are they out of the house than they are suddenly transported through 
the air to their own home. 

The legend implies the belief that the primitive Dyak lived in the lowest 
state of barbarism, subsisting on the fruits of the jungle, and plantains, and 
yams, ignorant of fishing or trapping, and of the great industrj' of rice- 
farming ; that the knowledge of these things with the omen system was 
brought from the higher world by Seragunting, the offspring of the spirits 
above, and, therefore, able to obtain the knowledge ; and that the working of 
all is to be carried out with the continual direction and assistance of the 
supernatural author of the whole. The sacredness of the omen birds is thus 
explained : they are forms of animal life possessed with the spirit of certain 
invisible beings above, and bearing their names ; so that, when a Dyak hears 
a Beragai, for instance, it is in reality the voice of Beragai, the son-in-law of 
Singalang Burong ; nay, more, the assenting nod or dissenting frown of the 
great spirit himself. 

We may now conclude with a summary reference to those elements of 
worship to which the Dyak clings for the support and satisfaction of the 
religious side of his life ; and if we can see with his eyes, we shall probably be 
able to understand what shadows of truth it embodies ; and how much or 
how little it supplies the place of a better knowledge. If the strength of 
worship be in proportion to the number of objects venerated, the Dyak is 
most emphatically a '* worshipping animal," but the fact is, that the Dyak 
character contains the smallest amount of real veneration. His adoration is 
brought down to the mere external work of making a sacrifice and repeating 
an invocation, which is done in an off-hand manner, without any posture of 
humility or reverence, and without any idea that it involves the offering of a 
life in a course of good conduct. But in the number of his deities, such as 
they are, he is certainly rich. He has not risen to the idea of an omnipresent 
deity, but he imagines the world, especially the heavens, to be everywhere 
inhabited by separate Petaras, whose function it is to care for men. Yet in 
this manifold personal providence there is room for a spirit of fatalism. He 
will cry out to Petara, and talk of the relentless march of fate. To Pulang 
Gana he applies for good crops ; and to Singalang Burong for general luck and 
success in everything. His idea evidently is that good gifts are from the gods. 

But while he has this appreciation of a secret power behind the realm of 
the visible, the world of nature is to him a great, wide, terrible and wonderful 
combination of phenomena, whose influence he feels as that of a living 
presence, which elicits his sense of awe and regard. There is no separate 
worship offered to the heavenly bodies ; but in a prayer at farming, the sun is 
invoked together with Pulang Gana, Petaras and Birds ; and is addressed as 
Datu Patinggi Mata-ari. The idea of its personification is suggested by its 

Perham's Sea Dyak Gods. 201 

name, "the eye of the day." The moon and stars are not invoked, but, 

according to him, they have an '* invisible belonging,'* a Petara, just as all 

parts of the earth have. It is probable that no inanimate objects themselves, 

not even the sun, though treated as before mentioned, are supposed to be 

divinities ; it is an underlying spirit in them which is adored, a hidden living 

influence in them which effects their operations. Thus the sea has its Antu 

Ribai ; and the wind is the mysterious effluence of Antu Ribut who resides in 

human form in aerial regions ; and when a violent storm sweeps the jungles, 

Dyaks will beat a gong for a few minutes to apprise the Wind Spirit of the 

locality of the house ; lest he should lay it level with the ground, as he does 

sometimes the most majestic of forest trees. Veneration for natural 

phenomena then determines the direction of his religious instincts ; and we 

find ourselves in a region of belief which reminds one, to some extent, of the 

primitive religion of the Vedic age. This nature worship soon runs into 

practical polytheism ; for the human spirit ever seeks a personality as the 

receiver of its homage, and the repository of its wants. To this, the best 

side of Dyak religion, is added a less poetical element, a cultus, which, though 

occasional and spasmodic, is yet degrading in character ; one inspired by a 

mixture of fear, anxiety and self-interest, and consisting in demonolatry, 

zoolatry and aviolatry, in the practice of which there are found the same 

religious acts as are offered to other beings — invocation, petition and sacrifice. 

The Dyak*s religious belief is thus the offspring of the earthly as well as the 

higher side of his nature ; and together forms a compound of law, religion 

and superstition in inextricable confusion. 

And in the omen system, the Dyak advances still further into the great field 
of human religion, and touches other faiths higher than his own. The form 
in which he manifests this is sure to be material and crude ; but nevertheless 
it may contain the germs of thought more fruitful of results elsewhere. What 
is the essential thought or principle which underlies these dreams, omens and 
divinations ? A morbid anxiety to foreknow the secrets of the future no 
doubt is there ; but surely there is also a hidden conviction, that the supernal 
power and wisdom has a way of revealing its will to man, wherein he is told 
what to do, and what to refrain from. Looking at the matter from his point 
of view, the Dyak has a continual direction from that power, a living guide 
book for life's work and journey. The statement of the legend that bird- 
omens were given instead of the book, exactly hits the point. And he 
implicitly obeys, though he knows not of the why ; but the gods see further 
than he can, and he is content, though the odedience involves a present 

To sum up then, the Dyak has gods for worship, spirits for helpers, 
omens for guides, sacrifices for propitiation, and the traditions of his 
ancestors for authority. And with submission to every stronger power, good 
or evil, he lives and works. His look beyond into a future sphere is another 
matter, and reserved for separate consideration. 

202 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo. 


The subject is incomplete without a consideration of their burial rites, and 
their ideas of eschatology. These I now endeavour to supply. 

But first a word about marriage. Birth is not celebrated with any 
religious ceremony, and marriage is a comparatively simple matter. The 
marriage ceremony consists principally in publicly fetching the bride from her 
father's to the bridegroom's house, but the Dyak, with his love of divination, 
could not allow such an occasion to pass without some attempt, or pretence, 
to penetrate the secrets of the future. When the bridal party are assembled 
in the bride's house, and the arrangements for the young couple talked over, 
a pinang (betel-nut) is split into seven pieces by some one supposed to be 
lucky in matrimonial affairs ; and these pieces, together with the other 
ingredients of the betel-nut mixture, are put in a little basket, which is bound 
round with red cloth and laid for a short time upon the open platform outside 
the verandah of the house : should the pieces of pinang by some mystic power 
increase in number, the marriage will be an unusually lucky one ; but should 
they decrease, it is a bad omen, and the marriage must be postponed, or 
relinquished altogether ; but, as matter of experience, they neither increase 
nor decrease ; and this is interpreted in the obvious sense of an ordinary 
marriage upon which the spirits have pronounced neither good nor bad. This 
action gives the name to the whole ceremony, which is called Mlah*^ pinang — 
splitting the betel-nut. When the bride has been brought to her future 
husband's house, a fowl is waved ^ over them, with a hastily muttered 
invocation for health and prosperity ; and with this semi-sacrificial action the 
marriage is complete. 

Death is much more involved with sacred observances. Although the 
Dyaks have something of the Moslem sentiment of fate, and commonly speak 
of the measure of a man's life's, which once reached nothing can prolong, yet 
this does not seem to help them to a quiet submission to the inevitable ; for, 
even when death is unmistakeably drawing near, they are eager in fruitless 
efforts of resistance, and the scene is generally one of tumultuous wailing. 
They will shout wildly to the medicine-man to recover the wandering spirit, 
and they will call out to the dying — ** Come back ; do not go with the spirits 
** who are leading you astray to Hades. This is your country, and we are 
**your friends." The word pulai, pulai, ** return, return," is reiterated in 
piercing, piteous tones. Silence and reverent awe in the presence of death 
would be regarded as culpable callousness to the interests of a life trembling 
in the balance. And when actual dissolution is plainly imminent, they dress 
the person in the garments usually worn, and some few ornaments in addition, 
that the man may be fully equipped for the untried journey ; and in violent 
demonstrations of grief, the women and younger people wait the end, or 
perhaps rush distractedly about in hopes of doing something to delay it. As 
soon as respiration has ceased, a wild outburst of wailing is heard from the 
women, which proclaims to all the village that life is extinct. The cessation 

>• Belah, Malay.— Ed. Journ. Str. Asiatic Soc. 

3« This waving of a sacrifice or oflfering is a noticeable feature in the practice of Hindu 
exorcists in India.— Ed. Journ. Str. Asiatic Soc. 

Perhatn's Sea Dyak Gods. 203 

of visible breathing is with the Dyak the cessation of life ; he knows of no 
other way to distinguish a prolonged state of coma from death, and I have 
good reason to believe that sometimes bodies have been buried before they 
were corpses. 

After death the body is lifted from the room to the ruai, or verandah, of 
the village-house ; some rice is sprinkled upon the breast, and it is watched 
until burial by numerous relatives who come to show their sympathy. The 
nearer connections of the deceased will probably be heard shouting out to 
some departed relative to come from Hades and take them away also, feeling 
at the moment that life is unbearable. At a burial once I saw a woman jump 
down into the grave, and stretch herself at full length upon the coffin loudly 
begging to be buried with her husband. 

Among some tribes there are professional wailers, nearly always women, 
who are hired to wail for the dead. One of these is now fetched, not only to 
lament the lost, but by her presence and incantation to assist the soul in its 
passage to Hades. Her song takes about twelve hours to sing, and the sum 
of it is this. She calls with tedious prolixity upon bird, beast and fish to go 
to Hades with a message, but in vain, for they cannot pass the boundary. 
She then summons the Spirit of the Winds to go, and — 

** Call the dead of ancient times, 

** To fetch the laid out corpse under the crescent moon, 

'* Already arranged like the galaxy of the milky way. 

*' To call those along ago bent double, 

** To fetch the shroud of our friend below the moon, 

•• Already a heap like the hummock of the rengguang.^'^ 

** To call the far away departed, 

** To fetch the nailed coffin under the dawn of the rising sun, 

** Already like the form of a skilled artisan's chest. 

*• To call the long departed ones, 

** To fetch the resak-'wood coffin below the brilliant moon, 

** Already bound with golden bands.'* 

The Spirit of the Winds is reluctant ; but, at the solicitation of his wife, 
at length consents to do the waiter's bidding. He speeds on his way through 
forests and plains, hills and valleys, rivers and ravines, until night comes on 
and he is tired and hungry, and stops to make a temporary resting-place. 
After refreshing himself, he goes up a high tree to make sure of the proper 
road. '*He looks round, and all is dark and dim in the distance : he looks 
"behind, and all is obscure and confused: he looks before him, and all is 
" gloomy as night." On all sides are roads, for the ways of the dead are 
seventy times seven. In his perplexity, he drops his human spirit form, and 
by a stroke of ghostly energy metamorphoses himself into rushing wind ; and 
soon makes known his presence in Hades by a furious tempest which sweeps 
everything before it, and rouses the inhabitants to enquire the cause of the 
unwonted commotion. They are told. They must go to the land of the 
living and fetch so and so and all his belongings. The dead rejoice at the 

'•'^ A crustacean which burrows in the earth. (J. P.) 

204 H« Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

summons, and without delay collect their friends, get into a boat and pull 
through the stygian waters; and with such force does the boat plough the 
lake, that all the neighbouring fish die. Arrived at the landing-place, they all 
make an eager rush into the house, "like soldiers who fly upon the spoil ; and 
mad like wild pigs they seize the dead one." The departed soul cries out in 
anguish at being thus violently carried off; but long before the ghostly party 
has reached their abode, it becomes reconciled to its fate. 

Thus sings the wailer, who has now done her work. She has conveyed 
the soul to its new home, which it would never reach, it is said, without her 
intervention, but remain suspended somewhere, and find rest nowhere. 

The climate necessitates a speedy interment ; but there is another reason 
for putting the dead quickly out of sight. After life is extinct, the body is no 
longer spoken of as a body or corpse ; it is an antu, a spirit ; and to have it 
long with them would, apart from sanitary considerations, expose them to 
sinister ghostly influences. Some time before daylight, a sufiicient number of 
men take away the corpse wrapped in mats and secured with a light frame- 
work of wood ; and as it is being borne from the house, ashes are thrown after 
it, and a water-gourd is flung and broken on the floor. The graveyard is 
generally a small hill, or rising grdtind in the neighbourhood, as unkempt as 
the surrounding forest, overshadowed by towering trees, and full of entangled 
undergrowth of grass, climbers and thorny rotan. On coming to the cemetery, 
the first thing done is to kill a fowl to propitiate the dread powers of Hades, 
to whom the ground is supposed to be devoted : and so strong is the need of 
this sacrifice felt, that no Dyak, unenlightened by other principles, will dare 
touch the ground until it is made. Some now dig the grave ; some cook a 
meal, which is afterwards eaten on the spot ; whilst others get a large log 
of wood of the required length, split it into two, scoop out the inside sufficiently 
to admit the corpse, and thus make a rude coffin, the two parts of which, after 
receiving the body, are firmly lashed together with rotan. Sometimes, however, 
the coffin is made of planks before proceeding to the graveyard. 

With the burial of the body is deposited baiya, that is, things given to the 
dead. Personal necessaries, like rice, plates, the betel-nut mixture, money, 
and a few other articles are laid with the body in the ground ; whilst spears, 
baskets, swords, weaving materials, pots, jars, gongs, etc., are put on the 
surface, the jars and gongs being broken to render them useless to any alien 
who may be inclined to sacrilegious depredations.*® This baiya, little or 
much according to the wealth of the deceased, is regarded as a mark of 
affection, and to omit it is to fail in a natural duty. But the custom is really 
founded upon the belief that the things so bestowed are in some mystic way 
carried into the other world, and useful to the dead — their capital, in fact, to 
begin life with in the new stage of existence. And in cases where Dyaks are 
killed, or die by sickness, far away from home, the baiya is still deposited in 
the family burying-place. A burial without baiya is, in their phrase, the 
burial of a dog. A fence round the grave as a protection from the ravages by 
wild pigs completes the interment. 

^ Compare the observances of the Johor Jakuns, No. 7 of Journal Str. Asiatic Soc., p. 97.— 
Ed. Joum. 

Perhatn's Sea Dyak Gods, 205 

There is a deeply-seated fear among Dyaks touching everything connected 
with death and burial rites. They have, for instance, a lurking suspicion 
that the dead, having become the victims of the most terrible of all powers, 
may harbour envious feelings, and possibly follow the burying-party back to 
their homes with some evil intent. To prevent such mischief, some of them 
make a notched stick-ladder,'® and fix it upside down in the path near the 
cemetery to stop any departed spirit who may be starting on questionable 
wanderings ; others plant bits of stick to imitate bamboo caltrops to lame 
the feet should they venture in pursuit, and so obstruct their advance. 

Interment is the usual, but not universal, mode of disposing of the dead. 
Manangs, or medicine men, are suspended in trees in the cemetery,*® and 
amongst the Balau tribe, children dying before dentition has developed enjoy 
the same distinction, having a jar for their coffin. Some eccentric individuals 
have a dislike to be put underground, and request that after death they may 
be laid upon an open platform in the cemetery ; the result of which is that 
a most offensive exudation soon oozes from the badly made coffin ; and after 
a year or two the posts become rotten, and the whole structure tumbles down, 
the coffin bursting in pieces, adding to the already large stock of exposed 
bones, which, with broken pots, jars, baskets, and other miscellaneous 
articles, swell the property of grim death, and make the place a vast charnel 
awesome and gloomy, well calculated to frighten the superstitious Dyak. 
Occasionally a man has a fancy to have his body put on the top of a 
mountain, and the relatives probably dare not refuse to carry out the wish 
through fear of imaginary evil consequences. Among the Kayans, this burial 
above ground is the general practice, but they carry it out in a more 
substantial manner. The baiya is put in the coffin, but heads of slain enemies 
are hung up round the grave. Great warriors have been sometimes buried 
for a time and then exhumed, and their relics sacredly kept by their 
descendants in or near their houses, or it may be, on the spur of a neigh- 
bouring hill, with the object of securing the departed ancestor as a tutelary 

Sea Dyaks do not consider burial as the last office which they can render 
to the dead, but follow them up with certain after-ministries of mixed 
affection and superstition. For three or four evenings after death, they light 
a fire somewhere outside the house for the use of the departed ; for in Hades, 

^ The tangga samangat of the Johor Jakuns is said* " to enable the spirit to leave the grave 
when required." Id.— Ed. Joum. Str. Asiatic Soc. 

^ Even among the Malays of the Peninsula, this practice of keeping the body of a pawang, or 
medicine man, above ground is not unknown. It exists also probably among the Sakai tribes. 
Blian tuan is the Sakai name for the original tiger-spirit or man -tiger. A man who has a tiger-spirit 
as his familiar is a pawang blian, and may not be buried in the ordinary Malay way, but his body 
must be placed leaning against a prah tree, in order that the spirit may enter into another man. 

In Perak, it is said that in the time of Sultan J 'afar there was a pawang of the hantu blian, 
named Alang Dewasa. When he died (at Buluh Minyak in Ulu Perak) his relations would not 
permit his body to be set up against a tree, but buried it. Soon afterwards the ground was found 
disturbed, and since then Alang Dewasa has frequently appeared as a hantu blian, when invoked by 
pawangs of that class (See Journal No. 12, p. 224). He comes down in the shape of a tiger, with one 
eye closed, the effect of an injury he received when buried, or when leaving the earth to assume his 
animal form.— -Ed. Joum. Str. Asiatic Soc. 

2o6 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

they say, fire is not to be procured without paying for it. After burial, the 
nearest relation lives in strict seclusion and keeps a connparative fast until 
the observance called pana is made. A plate of rice with other eatables is 
taken by one of the neighbours to this chief mourner, and from this time he 
or she returns to the usual diet, and occupations of life. But this neighbourly 
act of the living is the least part of pana, amongst those tribes, at least where 
professional wailers exist. It is principally concerned with the dead, to whom 
by it food is supposed to be sent. Boiled rice and other things usually eaten 
with it, together with Dyak delicacies, are put together, and thrown through 
the opening at the back of the house, and the wailer is fetched to effect their 
transmission to Hades. She comes again to the house of mourning, not to 
lament over the dead — that is left to the relatives to do — but to call upon the 
adjutant bird, ** the royal bird which fishes the waters all alone," to do her 
bidding in conveying the articles of the pana to the other world. Among 
these are included with some pathos the sorrows and sighs of the living. 

** To carry the pana of tears to the departed one 

" at the clear mouth of the Potatoe river. 

** To carry deep sighs to those sunk out of view 
" in the land of the red ripe rambutan. 

" To carry pitying sobs to those who have fallen 

** unripe in the land of empty fruiting limes.*' 

The bird, says the song, speeds on its way, and after taking a rest on the 
bacha tree, which bears for flower one dark red bead, arrives in the region of 
the departed. There they do not recognize the visitant, and inquire where it 
comes from and why: ** Do you come to look at the widows? We have 
thirty and one ; but only one is handsome. Do you come to seek after 
maidens ? We have thirty and three ; but only one is pretty." ** No," says 
the bird, ** we have widows and maidens plenty in the land of the living, all 
beautiful and admired of men." ** What is that you have brought with you 
so securely covered up ? " ** Get a basin, and I will pour the contents of my 
burden into it." The basin is brought and receives the pana, and lo ! the 
eatables and the tears and the sobs of the living mourners have become gold 
and silver and precious stones wondrously beautiful. But neither the men nor 
the women know what they are ; and mutual accusations of ignorance and 
stupidity are bandied about, and a noisy quarrel is the result. At this 
juncture, an ancient native of Hades appears, one, that is, who never was an 
inhabitant of this world ; 

Dara Rabai Gruda *^ 

Dayang Sepang Kapaiya. 

She chides their unseemly squabbling, and explains to them that the bird has 
come from the realms of the living with presents from their friends ; where- 
upon they are seized with a passionate desire to return, but are told that this 
is impossible. 

*^ Garuda, the eagle of Vishnu ? See No. 7 of this Journal, p. 13. — Ed. Journ. Str. Asiatic Soc. 

Perham's Sea Dyak Gods. 207 

** The notched ladder is top downwards. 

** Their eyes see crookedly. 

** Their feet step the wrong way. 

** Their speech is all upside down." 

Their capacities are no longer adapted to the world they have left, and 
their destiny is irreversible ; but still they urge their request to accompany 
the bird, and all the ingenuity of Hades is called in requisition to devise 
means of amusing the souls as yet unaccustomed to their new dwelling. 
Meanwhile, the bird takes its homeward flight. Thus far the wailer. 

Until this pana is made, say the Dyaks who observe it, the soul is not 
thoroughly conscious that it has departed from the world, and Hades will not 
give it food or water ; but after this, it is received as a regular denizen of 

There is a similar observance called sumping, which is carried out at 
a varying period after death. They take the symbols and trophies of a head- 
hunting raid, and the wailer is supposed to procure the services of the spirit of 
the winds to convey them to the dead, whose abode, before full of darkness 
and discomfort, is now, at sight of the trophies, filled with light ; for they 
have the satisfaction of feeling that their relations have revenged upon others 
their own death ; so henceforth they stand more freely upon their own 

This observance, which, according to ancient custom, could not be 
performed until the head of an enemy had been obtained, brings out the 
darker and fiercer side of the Dyak nature. They would fight with death if 
they could ; but as they cannot, they rejoice in taking vengeance upon the 
living, whenever a chance of killing the enemies of their tribe offers itself; 
so as to be able to say to themselves : ** My relatives have revenged my 
death. I am now on equal terms with the evil fate which has sent me 
hither." But in these times, when they live under a strong and civilized 
government, it is very seldom that this observance can be carried out in its 
fulness ; and therefore it is either slurred over by some mild substitute, or 
omitted altogether. 

But the great observance for the dead is the Gawei antu, Festival of 
Departed Spirits. No definite period is fixed for the celebration of it, and the 
time varies from one to three or four years. The preparation for it of food 
and drink and other things is carried on for weeks and even months ; and 
sometimes it taxes very severely the resources of the Dyak. When all is 
ready, the whole neighbourhood for miles round is invited to partake of it. 
It is an opportunity for a general social gathering ; it is a formal laying aside 
of mourning ; above all, it is, in their minds, the execution of certain offices 
necessary for the final well-being of the dead. 

But though it is a feast for the dead to which they are invoked and 
invited, yet they pretend to guard against any unorthodox and premature 
approach of the departed as full of uncanny influence. When the tuak, a 
drink brewed from rice, has been made, an earthenware potful of it is hung 
up before the door of the one room which each family of the village-house 

2o8 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo. 

occupies, so as to attract the attention of any casual wanderer from Hades. 
Such a one is supposed to see the pot, and to go and regale himself from it, 
and be satisfied without going any further: and thus his thoughts are 
pleasantly diverted from the inner seat of family life ; the room — where, if 
permitted to enter, he might possibly, in revengeful spite, carry off some of 
the living circle. 

The presence of the dead is desired, but only at the proper time and in 
the proper way. But how are they to come from Hades in the numbers 
desired ? Nothing easier, says the Dyak, send a boat for them : so he 
despatches what is called the lumpang, A piece of bamboo in which some 
rice has been boiled is made into a tiny boat, which, by the aid of the wailer, 
who is again fetched, is sent to Hades. Actually, it is thrown away behind 
the house ; spiritually, it is supposed by the incantation of the Availer to be 
transmitted to the unseen realm through the instrumentality of the king of all 
the fishes, who accomplishes the journey without much trouble. But in 
Hades he dare not ascend the great river of the dead beyond the first landing 
place, where he leaves the mystic craft together with food and drink. No 
sooner is this done than the stream becomes dammed up and overflows its 
banks. The curious boat is seen floating upon the swollen waters, but no one 
knows what it is. At length a water nymph rises out of the river, and tells 
them that the strange craft, which by this time has grown from the size of a 
toy to a mighty war-boat, has been sent by their living friends for their 
passage across the styx to partake of a final banquet. Great is the joy in 
Hades on discovering this. 

" Their shouts reach beyond the clouds. 

** They incite each other like men preparing the drums. 

** With joy they thump their breasts. 

** With gladness they slap their thighs. 

We shall soon feast below the star-sprinkled heavens. 

We shall soon eat where the roaring thunder falls. 
** We shall soon feed below the suspended moon. 
** We shall soon be on our way to visit the world, and march to the feast." 

With this contrivance, the way is now open for the departed to visit their 
old habitations as soon as the feast shall be ready and the final summons sent. 
Meanwhile, preparations for the festival advance. Those tribes who erect 
ironwood memorial monuments at the graves get them put together. On the 
day of the feast, or may be the day before, the women weave with finely-split 
bamboo small imitations of various articles of personal and domestic use, 
which are afterwards hung over the grave, that is, given to the dead. If it be 
a male for whom the feast is made, a bamboo gun, a shield, a war cap, a sirih 
bag and drinking vessel, etc., are woven ; if a female, a loom, a fish basket, a 
winnowing fan, sunshade, and other things: if a child, bamboo toys of various 

The guests arrive during the day, and the feasting begins in the evening 
and lasts all night. An offering of food to the dead is put outside at the 
entrance of the house. The wailer, of course, is present, and her office now is 

Perham's Sea Dyak Gods. 209 

to invoke the spirit of the winds to invite the dead to come, and feast once 
more with the Hving; and she goes on to describe in song the whole imaginary 
circumstances — the coming of the dead from Hades, the feasting, and the 
return. She sings how numerous animals, one after another, and then 
Salampandai, maker of men, are called upon to go to Hades, but none have 
the capacity to undertake such a journey ; how the spirit of the winds arrives 
in Hades, and urges the acceptance of the invitation by expatiating on the 
abundance and excellence of the food their relations have provided for them ; 
how they and a great company of friends start, and make the journey hither 
in the boat before sent for them ; how glad they are to see our earth and sky 
again, and to hear the many voices of the busy world ; how they eat and 
drink, dance, and have a cock-fight with their living friends (for they have 
brought fighting cocks with them) ; how Hades is beaten (to make it victorious 
would be a bad omen) ; how they ask for their final share of the family 
property, and a division is made, but here again the dead get the worst of it, 
for in dividing the paddy, the Hving get the grain, the dead only the chest in 
which it is kept : so, the jars remain with the living, the stand only on which 
they are set being given to the dead ; the weapons too are retained, whilst the 
sheaths go to Hades, etc., etc. In the very act of professing to entertain 
their friends, they must cheat them for fear of conceding too much to Hades, 
and so hasten their own departure thither. After this pretended division of 
property, the children of deathland make their parting salutation with much 
affection and regret and go on their way. Such is the esoteric meaning of the 
festival according to the wailer's song. 

The song makes the dead arrive about early dawn ; and then occurs an 
action wherein the intercommunion of the dead and the living is supposed to 
be brought to a climax. A certain quantity of tuak has been reserved until 
now in a bamboo, as the peculiar portion of Hades, set apart for a sacred 
symposium between the dead and the living. It is now drunk by some old 
man renowned for bravery or riches, or other aged guest who is believed to 
possess a nature tough enough to encounter the risk of so near a contact with 
the shades of death. This "drinking the bamboo,'* as it is called, is an 
important part of the festival. 

Earlier in the night comes the formal putting off of mourning. The 
nearest male relation is habited in an old waistcloth, or trousers : these are 
slit through and taken away, and the man assumes a better and finer garment ; 
a bit of hair from each side of the head is cut off and thrown away. In case 
of female relations, some of the rotan rings which they wear round their waists 
are cut through and set aside ; and they now resume the use of personal 
ornaments. This action is represented as a last farewell to the dead. 

The morning after the feast, the last duty to the dead is fulfilled. The 
monument, if any, the bamboo imitation articles, the cast-off garments, with 
food of all kinds are taken and arranged upon the grave. With this final 
equipment, the dead are said to relinquish all claims upon the living, and to 
go henceforward on their way, and to depend upon their own resources. But 
before the Gawei antu is made they are thought to carry on a system of secret 
depredations upon the eatables and drinkables of the living, in other words, 

210 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

to come for their share. When sitting down to his plate of rice, a Dyak will 
sometimes be seen to throw a little under the house as a portion for a departed 
one. And I have been told that in the morning the footprints of the dead are 
sometimes visible in the paddy stores from which they have been supplying 
themselves under cover of darkness. They are driven to such little foraging 
expeditions, it is said, by the necessities of their position ; for the powers of 
Hades look with contempt upon any who go thither insufficiently provisioned, 
and even quarrel with them. And worse still is said to happen if this feast is 
omitted altogether: the dead lose their personality, and are dissolved into 
primitive earth. Hence charity to the dead and motives of economy urge the 
Dyak to undertake the labour and expense of the Gawei aniu, the preparation 
of which seriously hinders the farmwork, and diminishes the following year's 
crop of paddy. 

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

Thus far I have, in the main, followed Dyak thought about death and the 
afterstate as it is embodied in their tribal ceremonies and songs; but as might 
be expected popular thought is not without its ideas and theories ; and these 
supplement what has hitherto been said. 

In the borderland, says the Dyak, between this world and the next, is 
situated the house of the Bird bubut, a bird here, a spirit there, covering his 
identity in human form. Every human spirit in the extremity of sickness 
comes to this place : if it goes up into the house, by the influence of the bird 
it returns to the body, which thereupon recovers ; but if it avoids the house, 
as is more probable, because it is always in a filthy state of dirt and stench, 
then it is well on its way to the other world. There is, however, another 
chance for it at the " Bridge of Fear," a see-saw bridge stretching across the 
Styx, and difficult to pass over : if the soul makes the passage successfully, it 
is gone past recovery ; if it falls in the water, the cold bath wakes it up to a 
sense of its real position, and determines it to retrace its steps. 

After this, it seems, the soul has to pass the ** Hill of Fire." Evil souls 
are compelled to go straight over the hill with scorching fire on every side, 
which nearly consumes them ; but good ones are led by an easy path round 
the foot, and so escape the pain and danger.** This is the only connection in 
which I have met with anything which suggests the idea of future retribution 
for wrong doing in this life. 

Dyaks attribute to the dead a disposition of mixed good and evil towards 
the living, and so alternately fear and desire any imaginary contact with them. 
As has been said before, they do not speak of taking a ** corpse" to the grave, 
but an antu, a spirit ; as though the departed had already become a member 
of that class of capricious unseen beings which are believed to be inimical to 
men. They think the dead can rush from their secret habitations, and seize 

48 «• According to the creed of the Badagas in Tamul India, the souls are obliged to pass by a 
column of fire which consumes the sinful, and it is only after perils that they reach the land of the 
blessed by a bridge of rope." Peschkl, Races of Man, p. 284, quoting Baibrlein, Nach und aus 
Lndien. — Ed. Jour. Straits Asiatic Soc. 

Perham*s Sea Dyak Gods. 211 

invisibly upon anyone passing by the cemetery, which is, therefore, regarded 
as an awesome, dreaded place. But yet this fear does not obliterate affec- 
tionate regard, and many a grave is kept clean and tidy by the loving care of 
the living ; the fear being united with the hope of good, as they fancy the 
dead may also have the will and the power to help them. I was once present 
at the death of an old man, when a woman came into the room, and begged 
him, insensible though he was, to accept a brass finger ring, shouting out to 
him as she offered it : ** Here, grandfather, take this ring, and in Hades 
remember I am very poor, and send me some paddy medicine that I may 
get better harvests." Whether the request was granted, I never heard. 
Sometimes they seek communion with the dead by sleeping at their graves in 
hope of getting some benefit from them through dreams, or otherwise. A 
Dyak acquaintance of mine had made a good memorial covering over the 
grave of his mother of an unusual pattern, and soon fell ill, in consequence, 
some said, of this ghostly work. So he slept at her grave, feeling sure she 
would help him in his need, but neither voice nor vision nor medicine came ; 
and he was thoroughly disappointed. He said to me: **I have made a decent 
resting-place for my mother, and now I am ill and ask her assistance, she 
pays no attention. I think she is very ungrateful." This belief in reciprocal 
good offices between the dead and the living comes out again in those cases 
where the remains of the dead are reverently preserved by the living. On 
every festival occasion, they are presented offerings of food, etc., in return for 
which these honoured dead are expected to confer substantial favours upon 
their living descendants. 

Their notions of the relationship of this world to the next, and of the 
dead to the living, will be further illustrated by the story of Kadawa ; which 
may also be taken as a specimen of their folklore. 

Kadawa was a great cock-fighter, but had suffered successive defeats 
from his fellow Dyaks. Irritated at being beaten in a sport he so dearly 
loved, he started off to seek a cock of a particular white and red plumage, 
called hiring grunggang, which he believed would bear down all others before 
it. But a chanticleer of this peculiar plumage was a ** rara avis " among 
fowls ; and village after village was visited, and neither for love or money 
could the coveted bird be got, for the simple reason that there were none. 
Nothing daunted, he started off again to go further afield, and determined 
not to return till he had succeeded in his quest. He travelled hither and 
thither in the land of the Dvaks until he knew not where he was, and at 
length arrived at the land of Mandai idup, the borderland between Hades and 
this world, the inhabitants of which can visit one or the other as they wish. 
Here a long village house appeared in sight. He went up the ladder into it ; 
and to his astonishment it showed all the signs of being inhabited, even to 
the fires burning on the hearth and the sounds of surrounding voices ; but 
not a person could be seen ; so he shouted out : ** Ho, where are you all ? " 
Whereupon an unembodied voice answered : " Is that you, Kadawa ? Sit 
down and eat pinang and sirih. What do you want ? " "I am come to beg 
or buy a biting grunggang, fighting cock." ** There is not one to be had here, 
but if you go on to the next village, you will find one." So Kadawa trudged 

212 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

on, greatly wondering at the strangeness of a place peopled by bodiless 
beings, talking, working phantoms of men and women. Soon after, he came 
to a populous place, where many village-houses w^ere clustered together — 
Mandai mati, the first district of the land of the dead ; but Kadawa knew it 
not for it had nothing to remind him of death ; the people moved about, 
spoke and had the same form and feature as his own neighbours ; moreover 
they recognized and called him by name. They offered to give him a hiring 
grunggang, which he gladly accepted. Having now obtained his object, he 
was happy, and finding the people sociable and hospitable, he was in no 
hurry to return, but remained with his new-found friends more than a year, 
oblivious of home and its duties. 

But what of his wife and child whom he had left behind in his 
house ? She was grieved at his long absence, and at last resolved that he 
must be dead, and she wept and bewailed him ; and at length she died of 

The time came when the relations made the Gawei antu for her ; and the 
wailer was bringing the company of guests from Hades to the feast. Just at 
that time Kadawa had determined upon returning, and was securing his 
fighting cock and buckling on his sword, when someone called to him to go 
on the platform in front of the house, and pointed out to him a procession 
marching along the hill opposite the house. Kadawa looked and saw in the 
middle of the long train his own wife ; and it flashed upon him that his wife 
was dead and he himself within the confines of deathland. Without speaking 
a word he caught up his fighting cock, sword and spear and rushed to join 
his wife. She repelled him, but in vain. At length they came to the stygian 
lake and found a boat lying on the shore, into which they all hurried, trying 
to keep Kadawa out ; but he vigorously persisted, and was allowed to embark. 
After paddling several hours the boat struck upon a rock, and would not 
move : all except Kadawa jumped out to pull her off, but she would not budge 
an inch. Kadawa was called upon by his wife to help ; but he refused for 
fear of being left behind — says his wife : " Do you not know I am dead ? 
What is the use of trying to follow me ? " ** Let me die also, I will not leave 
you." " Very well," replied his wife, ** since you are resolved to come with 
me, when we get to the house, you will find some dried sugar cane over the 
fire place : eat that, and you will be able to bear me company. Now get out, 
and help to pull the boat off the rock." He jumped out, and as soon as his 
feet touched the rock, boat, people and lake vanished, and he found himself 
standing at his own doorstep. 

But no pleasure did his return bring him, for he found his friends making 
the last farewell feast for his wife. He neither ate nor drank nor shared in 
the festivities ; but kept in his own room till all was over when he thought of 
the sugar cane over the fireplace. He searched for it, but found nothing 
more than a roll of poisonous tuba *® root : again and again he looked but 
nothing else was there ; so he concluded that this was what his wife meant 
by the sugar cane. He spoke sorrowfully to his neighbours and told them he 

♦* Cocfulus indicus, — Ed. Jour. Str. Asiatic Soc. 

Perham's Sea Dyak Gods. 213 

should not live long, and begged them to be kind to his orphan boy and give 
him his inheritance : then he returned to his room wrapped a blanket round 
him and laid himself on the floor chewed the fatal root and joined his wife in 

I have thus traced the general belief of the Sarawak Sea Dyak about his 
future existence. There are, however, exceptions to it. Occasionally the idea 
of metempsychosis is met with. At one time the spirit of a man is said to 
have passed into an alligator; at another into a snake, etc., the knowledge of 
it being always revealed by dreams. Sometimes a Dyak will deny the 
possibility of any future existence ; but only I think to serve the purpose of 
an argument. But these, wherever found, are deviations from the general 

But it is no gloomy Tartarus, nor is it any superior happy Elysium to 
which the Dyak looks forward ; but a simple prolongation of the present state 
of things in a new sphere. The dead are believed to build houses, make 
paddy farms, and go through all the drudgery of a labouring life, and to be 
subject to the same inequalities of condition and of fortune as the living are 
here. And as men helped each other in life, so death, they think, need not 
cut asunder the bond of mutual interchanges of kindly service ; they can 
assist the dead with food and other necessaries : and the dead can be equally 
generous in bestowing upon them medicines of magical virtue, amulets and 
talismans of all kinds to help them in the work of life. This sums up the 
meaning of their eschatological observances which perhaps exceed those of 
most other races of mankind. 

But this future life does not, in their minds, extend to an immortality. 
Death is still the inevitable destiny. Some Dyaks say they have to die three 
times ; others seven times ; but all agree in the notion, that after having 
become degenerated by these successive dyings, they become practically 
annihilated by absorption into air and fog, or by a final dissolution into 
various jungle plants not recognised by any name. May be, they lack the 
mental capacity to imagine an endless state of liveable life. 

Undup Cornelian Necklace. 
Crossland Coll. 

CHAPTER Vlll.—(cmlimed). 

Idols: On Tarm path— Bird models — Human figures. Pravbr: Invocations— To whom addressed. 
FuTORE Life : Land Dyalc views — Agnosticism — Silmian — Seven iemngals (lives) — Sibuyan 
notions — Distinct belief— Malanau future— Kayans — Messages to (be dead— Kayan heavens — 
Dusuns' abode Kinabalu — Muruts' ideas vague — Ideas in Dutch Borneo. Ohens : Foretellinf; 
traveller's return — Journeys — Birds — Varieties of — Disregarded omens — Their ancestors' 
warnings — Hunting spoilt— Habitation deserted — Origin of bird omens — Farming omens — Result 
of omens — Birds destroyed by Europeans — Red clouds — Animals, insects, as omens — Fire an 
antidote— Strong predilictions for omens — Fraser and Fontaine murdered — St. John's flat stone 
Dreams : Souls flitting— Results of^Pebbles given in— A fraud— Dyak explanation of— Curious 
results from — Charms through dreams — Wilfully concocted— Cholic attributed to — Desire to 
dream. Auguries : Pig's entrails — House deserted — Pigs measured — The signs — Spirits 
unfavorable. Ordeals: Wax tapers— Diving — Salt melting — Land spells^BoJUng water — 
Curious belief. Charms : Bullet- Highly valued— Hail— Serambo relics — Crocodile tusk- 
Pumpkin— Anything out of the common— Fear of— Tiger's teeth— Water— Rice— Hauk bells- 
Spit ting. 


"On the farm-path at no great distance from the village, rude wooden 
figures of a man and woman are placed, one on each side, opposite to each 
other, with short wooden spears in their mouths. They are called Tebudo, 
and are said to be inhabited by friendly hantu, who keep the path clear of 
inimical spirits, and woe be to the rash Dyak who wilfully insults these 
wonderful logs." (Chalmers, in Grant's Tour.) 

" Among the tribes of Western Sarawak the priestesses have made for 
them rude figures of birds. At the great harvest feasts they are hung up in 

Diminutive Model of Dvak 
with a Kembaia* berry between its man- 
dibles, a monkey and two squirrels — 

on its tail. Diminutive Woooeh Image o 

Religion — Prayer. 215 

bunches of ten or twenty in the long common room, carefully veiled with 
coloured handkerchiefs. They are supposed to become inhabited by spirits, 
and it is forbidden for anyone to touch them, except the priestesses." 
(St. John i. 188.) 

** The Undups have no idols." (Crossland.) 

" In front of a Lahanan village on the Rejang river there were four huge 
effigies, with the genital organs as usual fully developed ; no indecency is 
intended, being merely relics of primitive worship." [sic] . (Brooke Low.) 

" The Kayans possess wooden idols called ** Odoh,*' but it is only on 
certain occasions that they are regarded as being of much importance."** 
(Hose, J. A. I., xxiii. 162.) 


To a certain extent prayer seems to be offered by the Land Dyaks to a 
Supreme Being. Thus Mr. Grant writes : ** Once or twice on the way the 
Orang Kaya stopped under some stately old tree and threw yellow rice into 
the air, whilst he invoked Tiippa to come down and accompany us on our 
walk. . . . Give us health and prosperity — may our farms produce much 
rice — may our trees bear fruit — let our snares kill many pigs and deer — and 
the sea and the rivers, may they produce a sufficiency of fish — and may our 
wives have children, lots of them, particularly sons, &c. ... I have an 
idea that prayer is only offered tp Dewata or Tuppa. Once, on visiting a 
Sibuyow sick-room, I was struck with an old man who stood at the window 
and prayed aloud for the recovery of the patient ; at the same time he made 
mention of a list of offerings about to be made, viz., one fowl, one jar, one 
plate, one cocoa-nut, &c." (pp. 12, 13, 69.) 

^ " The Bejadjod possess a multitude of large wooden idols called Hampatong, as well as other 
objects which cult or superstition has consecrated. Every habitation of this tribe, as well as those 
of the Doesons, has several small wooden idols who are supposed to guard the habitation, protect 
the rice harvest, preserve the inhabitants against sickness, and to fulfil generally analogous 
functions. The Dyaks collect, with the same object in view, the skulls of bears, of monkeys, wild 
cats, &c., which they preserve in little square boxes called Kamantoha and which they suspend in the 
interior or at the entrance to their houses." (S. Miiller ii. 370.) 

" Upon our arrival the first that attracted our attention were several small wooden images 
placed under a shelter. On enquiry we were told that these images were mementoes of their old 
men, who had distinguished themselves by daring exploits, by the number of heads obtained, and 
other acts of bravery. When such persons die, they make a wooden image, crude indeed, yet in the 
form of a man, varying in length from inches to three feet. Around this they all gather, and hold a 
sacred feast, after which it is placed among those which have been similarly consecrated. These 
are their patron gods, whose peculiar province it is to watch over and prosper the cultivation of rice. 
At the time of planting rice they are removed to the field, or placed, as in this case, near the 
kampong under a rude covering, with their faces in that direction. Here they are left until the crop 
is gathered, when they are again brought into their dwellings As far as we could learn, the only 
act of worship paid to these images is that of offering them food once a month, such as rice, pork, 
eggs, fowls, &c. Human heads were hanging all round, and we made an unsuccessful attempt to 
obtain one. The bare expression of the wish was met by a prompt and decisive ' No, we cannot 
part with them ! ' The same is the case with the wooden images. On no condition whatever will 
they consent to give up either, and the only reason assigned is that sickness will be the inevitable 
consequence. The heads are considered as so many charms, to ward off evils and procure blessings, 
and therefore it is no matter of surprise that they are loth to part with them." (Doty, p. 291.) 

2i6 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

On the other hand Mr. Chalmers (in Grant p. 129) writes: "The only 
prayers which the Dyaks offer are invocations addressed to the various 
powers of the world of spirits, on certain great occasions, as e.g., to the birds 
of omen (whom, be it remarked, they consider to be Hantu) when they go to 
consult them, to the ' Triu-Komang,' at the setting of traps in the jungle, and 
to all the powers of the spiritual, the natural, and the human worlds of which 
they know, or have heard, at their harvest- feasts. The formula used on these 
latter occasions may not be uninteresting. The elder goes to the doorway of 
the house, with a small cup full of boiled rice, stained yellow, in his hand, 
and casting pinches of it in various directions, he cries, ' Away with you, rice ! 

Nine Matu Milano Idols Temada, 

Named daloiig. dati ghiang. naga trtbang. ttfrnkang. bilaiangait iaag (waler spirit), 

naga singa, dalong mcnugan, datah. aild dalcng. 

(Brooke Low Coll.) 

cause me to approach acceptably, to beg for good luck, to ask for pardon, to 
beg forgiveness, to request a blessing of the Tuan Patik (or Sultan) of 
Brunei, of the Rajah of Sarawak, of the rajah of the stars, the rajah of the 
sun, the rajah of the moon, the rajah of the seven stars; to ask for paddy, to 
ask for rice, to beg for the blessing of our lord lang-Tupa." May he behold 
our feast ; may he help us all ; may he give us good luck, and abundance of 
paddy and rice ; we ask for fish, we ask for wild pigs, we ask for many 
children, we ask for fruits, and we ask for bees.' " 

With regard to a one God as above referred to Tiippa or lang Tupa we 
may recall the fact that Mr. Denison says of these Land Dyaks. They have 
a kind of Hindu Trimurti, viz. : — 

Tapa, or Yang, the Preserver, (Vishnu or Dewa-dewa of the Hindus). 

Jirong-Brama, the Creator, (Brama of the Hindus), 

Triyuh-Kamatig, the Destroyer. (Shiba of the Hindus)." 

" The two names lang-Tupa are ordinarily used (or Tiipa alone ; thus we say " the Lord God." 

" " At the head of divinities of the first class are the gods Djata and Sang-jang, the former 

governing the upper, the latter the lower, world. The Dyaks imagine these deities as invisihle spirits 

but having a human form, but to whom, on account of their exalted rank, it is doi permitted to have 

Religion — Future Life. 217 

The beruri or priests make use of the following incantation in a form of 
doctoring called Pinyah which is connected with sacrifices to Triyuh-Kamang 
— the evil one. 

Yah Tapa adi yang adi Jirong-Brama 

O Tapa who is Yang the Preserver who is Jirong-Brama the Creator 

bodah semangih'i mari ka arun-i ka ramin-i ka 

let his soul come back to his room to his house to 

amok'i ka putong-i so abud so pomech-i 

his bed to his clothes from darkness from his place of devils 

so dunuk guamurang 

from hiding in his fig-tree. (Denison, Appendix B.) 

Future Life. 

*' I was informed that the souls (semengi) of men after death become 
hantoos (ghosts or spirits) and depart to the summits of high mountains, or 
dwell in the jungle, where they are protected by Tuppa, The souls of 
women, I was told, remain in the place where their bodies have been burnt ; 
but there is a contradiction in their favour, I think, for after a number of 
years the hantoos rise up again in some other form, and re-people this, or 
people another world, which could hardly be the case were they all of one sex ; 
besides, in another existence a man who was married more than once claims 
his first choice over again. This transformation — this dying and resurrection 
— if my informant be right, goes on * world without end,' just, as he said, like 
a crop of sweet potatoes, which after they come to maturity are dug up, and 
are then followed by a new crop." (Grant, p. 67.) 

** Though a knowledge of a future state has evidently been, at some time, 
prevalent among the Land Dyaks, many of them, at the present time, have 
no idea of the immortality of the soul ; though some have a slight and 
confused conception of it. These say that the spirit of a deceased person 
haunts the house and village it had formerly inhabited during the twelve days 
of the Pamah ; but the Dyaks of the western branch of the Sarawak, who do 
not practice the Pamali so rigorously as those of the southern river, say that 
it departs at the burying of the body, to the woods or mountains, or goes they 
know not where." (Low, p. 262.) 

"The Ballaus believe in the existence of a future state in which a 
distinction shall be made between good men and bad, but what that 

recourse except in extreme cases. Their aid is invoked by sprinkling paddy on the ground and 
offering them other sacrifices. There is another spirit of an inferior order called Tempon-tehn, who 
is considered the guide and guardian spirit of the dead and whom the Dyaks have often celebrated 
in their traditions and songs : the offerings which are made him consisting mostly of boiled rice, 
fowls and other alimentary substances. Such are similarly the offerings made to Kaloeit to Kambi, to 
Djinhapir, three evil spirits who inhabit the bo « els of the earth and water, and who have to be 
conciliated by sacrifices for preservation against sickness and other calamities. 

" These six deities are those most generally known amongst the Dyaks. especially amongst the 
Bedjadjoe tribe. Some of the latter spoke to us of another deity known as Goeroe and Maharadja, 
names which as well as that of Sang-jang above-mentioned remind us of the ancient Hindu cult, 
formerly followed by the Javanese and other islanders of the Indian Archipelago, or which have at 
least been borrowed from them. . . ," (S. Muller ii. 366.) 

2i8 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

distinction shall be does not seem to be very well known. The locality of the 
unseen world — which they term Sebaian — is placed by them beneath the 
earth, and it is divided into two regions — that of the living or Sebaian hidop 
and that of the dead or Sebaian tnati. Sebaian hidop is a delightful country, 
with rich soil and luxuriant crops. The stalks of tobacco are as thick as a 
man's arm ; the heads of Indian corn are as big as a man's leg, and all its 
other produce is gigantic in proportion. It has human inhabitants concerning 
whom nothing definite is known, and it is likewise the abode of an immense 
number of hantus or spirits. Sebaian mati is the abode of the dead, and like 
the Homeric Hades, is a gloomy, desolate, and unlovable region. Here the 
souls of the departed wander for a certain time — shorter or longer as they are 
good or bad — and at length they pass into the region of the air, where they 
are dissolved into dew and precipitated to the earth." (Horsburgh, p. 23.)*^ 

" The Sibuyows (Sea Dyaks) reckon there are seven semengats, or lives ; 
this world being one, after which, if I understand right, there are six more 
existences, which every man has to go through. In the first of these after- 
existences, those who have sinned are punished. Theft, my informant told 
me, is one of the greatest crimes, and there a sort of god of punishment 
presides, who finds out the crimes committed here below, and punishes them. 
A suspected thief has his hands and feet thrust into boiling water, and, if he 
writhe, it is a proof of guilt, and he is forthwith consigned to the tender 
mercies of a very satanic personage — an immense hideous sort of pig dragon 
— who torments him. From this state of punishment (hell, or whatever it 
may be called), a transition takes place to another world, till at last the 
seventh heaven is reached, where all is beautiful and perfect, peaceful and 
happy. An immense wall, thick and massive, encircles a large Dyak town. 
The houses are according to their own ideas as regards arrangement, but 
perfect in construction ; the streets are regular, and run at right angles to 
each other ; they are clean, and in perfect order, and the people are all alike 
happy and rich. Lakes and rivers are there, with prahus on them, and 
gardens, flowers, and fruit trees exist in profusion. In the wall is a great gate, 
which, divided in two, continually opens and shuts, the two halves running 
back in opposite directions, and then closing again ; as the gates open people 
are perpetually being admitted. Such is the Sibuyow heaven. The above is 
the version of one man, and I jot it down as I recollect it. Others, perhaps, 
have different accounts, for their traditions are very vague and uncertain. I 
asked my informant whether there were any Malays in this heaven ? He 
answered that the Malays have a kampong, or village, some little distance off ; 
but in answer to the question whether any white people were in heaven, he 
said, * He never heard of any.' 

** The Sea Dyaks in general have a distinct notion of a future state which 
is often mentioned in their conversation. There are different stages before 
reaching it — some agreeable, and others the contrary — and their final abode, 
or as it appears dissolution, is a state of dew. Their burial rites all tend to 

*^ " Here they also describe one hill covered with the poisonous tuba tree where again are united 
maidens and their lovers who have committed suicide." {ibid.) 

Religion — Future Life. 219 

support the idea of a future state ; but oral traditions being so liable to 
alteration, there is now no very clearly defined account, as different people 
give different statements, but nevertheless agree in the main points, and fully 
expect to meet each other after death. Their feeling is not fanatic or fatalistic, 
as in Mahomedans, and they have a sound appreciation of the blessings of 
this life." (Brooke i. 55.) 

** The Malanaus believe in another world which is like this, having rivers, 
seas, mountains, and sago plantations. There is one Supreme Deity named 
Ipu. All people who had met with a violent death, except those just alluded 
to, had their paradise in a different place from that which constituted the 
abode of those dying naturally, a country further back. The Malanaus 
believe that, after a long life in the next world, they again die, but afterwards 
live as worms or caterpillars in the forest." (De Crespigny J.A.I, v. 35.) 

" The Kayans believe in a future life, with separate places for the souls 
of the good and of the bad ; that their heaven and hell were divided into 
many distinct residences ; that those who died from wounds, from sickness, 
or were drowned, went each to separate places. If a woman died before her 
husband, she went to the other world and married. On the death of her 
husband, if he came to the same world, she repudiated her ghostly partner 
and returned to him who had possessed her on earth." (St. John i. loi.) 

" The Kayans beHeve in a future state and in a supreme being — Laki 
Tengangang. When the soul separates from the body, it may take the form 
of an animal or a bird, and, as an instance of this belief, should a deer be 
seen feeding near a man's grave, his relatives would probably conclude that 
his soul had taken the form of a deer, and the whole family would abstain 
from eating venison for fear of annoying the deceased. The places for dis- 
embodied spirits are Tan Tekan, Apo Leggan, Long Julan, and Tenyu Lallu.*' 
(Hose J.A.I, xxiii. 166.) 

** There is a strange ceremony at which I was once present, called 
Dayong Janoi, in which the dead are supposed to send messages to the living, 
but to describe it would take up too much of this paper. It proves, however, 
that spiritualism is of very ancient practice among the Kayans, but it would 
perhaps be interesting to mention the various abodes of departed spirits, 
according to Kayan mythology. Laki Tengangang is the supreme being who 
has the care of all souls. Those who die a natural death, of old age, or 
sickness, are conveyed to Apo Leggan, and have much the same lot as they 
had in this world. 

" Long Julan is the place assigned to those who die a violent death, e.g,, 
those killed in battle or by accident, such as the falling of a tree, etc. Women 
who die in child-bed also go to Long Julan, and become the wives of those 
who are killed in battle. These people are well-off, have all their wants 
supplied ; they do no work and all become rich. Tan Tekkan is the place 
to which suicides are sent. They are very poor and wretched ; their food 
consists of leaves, roots, or anything they can pick up in the forests. They 
are easily distinguished by their miserable appearance. Tenyu Lallu is the 
place assigned to stillborn infants. The spirits of these children are believed 
to be very brave, and require no weapon other than a stick to defend them 

220 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

against their enemies. The reason given for this idea is, that the child has 
never felt pain in this world, and is therefore very daring in the other. Ling 
Yang is the place where people go who are drowned. It is a land of plenty 
below the bed of the rivers, and these are the spirits upon whom riches are 
heaped in abundance, as all property lost in the waters is supposed to be 
appropriated by them.'* (Hose, Geogr. Journ. i. 199.) 

The Dusuns say Kinibalu is inhabited by their ancestor, who went up 
there when he saw they were comfortably settled. (De Crespigny, Berl. Zeits., 
p. 334.) Hence their belief ** that after death they all have to ascend Kina Balu, ^ 

which the good ones find little difficulty in accomplishing, and are from there 
ushered into heaven, while the wicked ones are left unsuccessfully trying to 
struggle and scramble up the rocky sides of the mountain." ** The religious 
convictions of the Lukau Dusuns culminate in their being after death trans- 
ferred to the top of Nabalu — the general belief with Dusuns. If a Dusun feels 
his end approaching he allows his fingernails to grow long, * so that he may 
be sure in scrambling up the steep and naked sides of Nabalu.' The waters 
rushing from the gullies of Kinabalu have a name of their own {Taise di Nabalu). 
* In them the dead Dusuns used to bathe.' Considering that a well-to-do 
Dusun is, before burial, doubled up into a jar, the idea of his becoming a 
member of a trans-Stygian Alpine Club is rather ludicrous." (Witti, 12 June.) 

" The Idaan have, amongst different tribes of them, many very whimsical 
religious tenets. Paradise is generally supposed to be a top of Keeney-Balloo: 
some, as those of Geeong, think it is guarded by a fiery dog, who is a formid- 
able opponent to the female sex ; for whenever any virgins come, he seizes ^ 
them as his legal prizes ; but whatever women have been cohabited with in 
this world, he considers as unworthy of his embrace, and lets them pass : the 
fathers, however, of Geeong do not fail to reproach their daughters, though 
not very severely if they make a slip." (Dalrymple, p. 44.) 

** Muruts seem to have only a vague idea about a future state and opinions 
vary on the subject ; some say it will be exactly as it is now, others that it will 
be much better, but these are, I think, the most civilised, and may have 
obtained the idea from Brunei Malays ; most of them do not know what to 
believe or think." (O. F. Ricketts, S.G., No. 348, p. 18.)*® 

^ " The dead wanders first, according to the singer, to a river named Biraie tanggalan, to cross 
which he has to make or get made a canoe and paddles. He then turns his steps to the mountain 
Toekoeng Daijang, and goes on till he comes to another river called Loeng, afterwards climbing the 
mountain Piloeng, where he meets one man of his tribe. The journey is continued to the river 
Danoemlang (valley of tears), where the wandering spirit encounters several men, women, and 
children, to whom he must give clothes. Leaving this Valley of Tears, he comes to a great cater- 
pillar, to which he must give some kladi (a certain plant), and then he goes up the mountain Limatak, 
where he sees a lot of flies and also a big bear : to the bear he must make a present of a pig. Going '^ 

further, he meets a man who holds an iron weir (bow net), to whom he must offer pisangs and sugar- 
cane, so that he can proceed unmolested on his way. Further on he comes to a river, which is 
watched by a man named Tamai Patakloeng, to whom he must give the barbules which grow round 
the mouth of a certain species of fish (sp. of Silurus). After this he meets a woman, Hadau Dalian 
by name, who is busy stamping rice ; as she is anxious to persuade him to help her, he must avoid 
her and pursue his journey quickly : proceeding further he comes to a fire in the middle of the road, 
which he has no sooner passed than he encounters a woman with a pair of ears large enough for 
him to take shelter under from the rain. The next objects that meet his eye are the stems of two 
trees, over one of which he must jump, while the other he must cut in two with his mandau. If the 

Religion — Omens. 221 


" The Kayans have a curious, if somewhat childish, custom, of foretelling 
whether an absent friend is proceeding further from home or likely soon to 
return, A spear, usually about seven or eight feet long, is produced — if 
possible, the property of the absent one — and his nearest relative or some 
influential person taking the spear in his two hands, extends them apart along 
the shaft as far as he can reach- The distance between the two hands is 
marked on the spear-shaft with a piece of clay or something of that nature, 
and the man speaks to the spear, adjuring it to speak the truth, &c., and then 
stretches his hands apart again. If the length of his reach on the spear-shaft 
should measure more on the second trial than at the first attempt, it is taken 
as an indication that his friend is coming home ; if it measures less, it means 
that he is going further away; while if it measures the same, it is a sign that 
his friend is resting in someone's house and has not yet made up his mind 
what he will do, A man will generally stretch further at his second attempt, 
for it is generally most probable that his friend has commenced his homeward 
journey, and in any case the thought of his so doing is at least comforting to 
his relations. 

" In order to consult the occult powjrs as. to whether it is going to rain, 
or if it is expedient to make a journey on the following day, four bears' teeth 
each suspended by two strings, the opposite ends cf which are all twisted 
together, constitute the necessary mechanical medium. The person seeking 
information has to select two ends from the twisted mass of string, it being 
impossible for him to see with which tooth or teeth the strings he chooses are 
connected. The teeth are then let go, and the resulting tangle may be 
interpreted variously into eight favourable and eight unfavourable answers 
according to the relation the strings bear to the teeth." (Hose, J.A.I, 
xxiii. 165.) 

" The Dyaks are troubled with many superstitions. Days are lucky or 
unlucky ; places are fortunate or the contrary; many birds are antu, and their 
presence foretells all kinds of mischief to traveller or to farmer who pays no 
attention to the warning. 

" During a trip up the Rejang river a pangkas (omen bird) was heard on the 
right and the people assured me I should succeed in everything I undertook 
on this trip; further on we heard a katupong {omen bird) also on our right, 
and we stopped a few moments to show our respect by casting it an offering 

deceased U a woman she musi cut Ihis tree over with ber knife. On going further the spirit comes 
to itie roountaia Catlhotli. and as soon as he has begun to ascend the mountain he feels that he does 
not belong any more lo (his world. Presently a very narrow road leads lo a forest called Hoca piraa, 
where the deceased meets his parents and a woman named Atanpatai, Next, the river Soingti Tali 
Barouw has lo be passed, in which be takes a bath, and another mountain has to be surmounted. 
After all these fatigues, the spirit is refreshed by eating some fruit, and at last he is safely landed 
in the heaven of his tribe." (Bock, p. 124.) 

" The souls of the dead ascend the river Tiweh in canoes until the Gunung Lumbut, in order 
after a short purgatory free from cares in full overflowing of all enjoyments to hold continued feast 
and festival. Only thieves are carried to the lake tassik lajang deriaran in order to carry for ever on 
their hacks what Ihey have stolen, and small chieftains who have given a ia.]se judgment must live 
on its banks as half deer and half man." (Breitenstein, p 208.) 

222 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

of betel-nut, and then went on ; finally we heard a tnuntjak as we pulled away 
from the landing place. Dian says, if he were not with me he would go back, 
as no Kyan would dare to go on in the face of such a warning as the last. 
The omen, he declared, could not be worse, and no native would be mad 
enough to disregard it ; he would go home and stay there. He would do the 
same if he were to hear a ntusang on the eve of departure or to see a 
pdahabong (snake with red head and tail). The birds they believe in are six 
in number, and are called pisit, bukang, tetajan, asi, mangilieng, kihieng. 

Trogon Eltgans. (? HarpaclK Kasumba.) 
DvAK Omen Bird. 
Mate. Face, fore part of the head, ear-coverts. 
and throat, black ; chest, back of neck and 
upper tail coverts green. A white crescent 
separates Ibe green of the chest from the breast. 
wnich together with the belly and under tail 
coverts is scarlet. Wings brownish black, the 
primaries having their outer edges fringed with 
white ; secondaries and centre of the wings 
grey. Strongly marked with zigzag transverse 
lines of black ; two middle tail feathers green, 
with bronzy reflections on their outer webs, 
only the minor webs black : all six are largely 
tipped with black ; the remaining six black at 
base and white at the tip. the middle portions 
of these later feathers barred with black and 
white: bill yellow. Total length about 12", 
wing 6, tail 7}. 

(Gould, McDDgraph of the TrcwonldsB.I 

See tho SclBler'A Birds of Borneo: Proc. Zool. Soc.. 

>a^S. p. 213. 

Bushy Crested Hornbill. 
AHorrhinu! galeritus {Hyiroiissa gaUrila). 
DvAK Omen Bird. 
" Though this species was not uncommon in the 
forests around Malawoon and Bankasoon, yet it 
was so very wary and difficult to approach, that 
only one specimen (a male] was shot by ourselves. 
We saw them almost daily, always in small parlies 
of five or six, keeping to the densest portions of 
the forest and the tops of the highest trees. They 
never fly together, but always one after another in 
a string or line. When about to start, they set up 
a sort of gabbling chorus, and after a few seconds, 
perhaps half a minute, of vociferous altercation 
one flies av/ay. followed iromediatelj' by another 
and another, till all have left. Their note is very 
similar to that of A. alberostris (malabarica). 
and. like these, they continually utter it at short 
intervals so long as they remain perched." 


'■OiX al Botiie^"rM.Z«ifsoc°i 

" If they hear a pisit or bukang on their left, they stop, wherever they may 
be, for the rest of the day; and if a kihieng, a tetajan, an asi, or a mangilieng, 
they are bound to remain where they are for two days. If on starting, 
however, they are fortunate enough to hear three or four of these birds, one 
after another, on their right, then they continue to the end of the journey and 

Religion — Omens. 


pay no attention to whatever they may hear on their left. The mangilieng is 
a kite, and they also draw omens from its flight." *^ (Brooke Low.) 

Among the Kyans the Omen Birds are the white headed black hornbill, 
the large hawk, the Talajan, or rain bird, the bee-eaters, and a snake 
distinguished by a tail ending in a red tip, Untup, (Hose J.A.I, xxiii. 163.) 

The Seribas Dyaks' omen bird 
Burong Papaw is said to be rare and 
is thus described by St. John (i. 67) : 
Body, a bright red ; wings, black, 
chequered with white ; head, black 
at top, with a beak and throat light 
blue; the tail long, a mixture of 
black, white, and brown ; about the 
size of a blackbird ; the beak is 
slightly hooked. *° 

The Land Dyaks have recourse Duvaucel's Trogon. 

to Tabu when the cry of the gazelle ' ar^ces ^^^^ ^ ^^) 

. , , , 1 . , 1 I ^1 • Dyak Omen Bird. 

IS heard behind them, or when their ^^^ ^^ ^^ ^^^^^ .^^ ^^^ ^^^ ^^ ^^^^^ 

omen birds utter unfavourable warn- surface, rump and upper tail-coverts of the finest 

inP"q (ihid \ t'7'^ "^ scarlet; bacK, reddish cinnamon brown; wings, 

mgs. V o a \. 175.; black, the coverts and secondaries crossed by numer- 

According to the Rev. W. ous fine lines of white ; primaries margined at the 

i^^^^r.\^^A /n^^^ \/r,Vo VT^,r ▼Q«-r base of their external webs with white; the two 

Crossland (Gosp Miss. Nov. 187I, ^„j^^ tail-feathers dark dnnamon-brown, tipped 

p. 165) : ** An up-country Dyak, head with black, the two next on each side blackish brown ; 

r t • . •■! i _ ;4.i_ 11 u* the three outer ones on each side blackish brown at 

Ot niS triDe, went once Wltn an niS the base, and largely tipped with white; bill, gape, 

young ones, to raise their boat out and a naked space over the eye, ultra-marine blue ; 
r .y J • J . '. irides reddish orown ; blue feet. Total length, 

of the sand in order to prepare it ^j inches; bill, i; wing. 4; tail, si 
for a war expedition. During the 
operation they heard the bird kiki 
to the left hand ; this was a * bad ' 

bird. Again they tried to work; again they heard the bird. When the 
boat was ready to be launched, the bird was there again. The young men 
then all ran away, and declined to follow their chief. Nothing daunted, the 
chief took his three sons and filled his boat with men of other tribes. When 
he arrived at Katibas, he would not listen to the advice of the Rajah, but at 
night, with about five other boats, he stole away and got in advance, and 
went up a small river where his party were followed by two large boats of the 
enemy, who closed in for a hand-to-hand fight, and who were aided by a large 

(Gould's Monograph of the Trogonids.) 
See also Sclater's Birds of Borneo : Proc. Zool. Soc, 1863, 

p. 213. 

^ Haliastur inttrmedius (Falco pondicerianus). A bird of prey, bright chestnut brown ; head, 
neck and breast white or pearl gray. Soars at great height. Dyak bird of good omen. (S. Muller 
in Temminck's " Coup d'oeil," ii. p. 368) : " It is a race only of H. indus, a well-known bird whose 
popular name is the Brahminny Kite." 

** •• The Antang is a species of bird of prey of a beautiful bright chestnut brown, the head, 
neck and breast being white or pearl gray. This bird of good omen so famous amongst the Hindus, 
and which is called Kohemankara or Kohemankari in Sanskrit, which signifies causing good fortune or 
well being. . . . The Antang soars at a great height and it is according to his flight that the 
Dyaks augur more or less success to their enterprises. They have an implicit belief in the good or 
bad omens they draw from the movements of this bird, especially when they have invoked it specially 
or when they are just spreading the paddy, &c." (S. Muller ii. 36«.) 

224 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo. 

force on the banks. The slaughter (for Dyak warfare) was frightful. The 
chief was wounded and his eldest son killed, as also was the greater part of 
the crew. So with a very few followers he had to return home in a boat of 
the enemy which he had captured. The rest of the people remained quietly 
with the Rajah, and got up to the spot whilst the fighting was going on. A 
well-directed volley sent the enemy flying. The Dyaks look upon the birds 
as ministering spirits, who have the power to give notice of good or bad 
fortune to come, and so warn them of danger, or cheer them by the prospect 
of success." 

Elsewhere (Miss. Life, 1864, p. 653) Mr. Crossland states : " They 
suppose that these birds are their ancestors who have been transmigrated in 
order to watch over the welfare of their tribe, and who are still interested in 
everything connected with it. None but the brave are thus distinguished. 
Every household has certain birds which it follows and other birds which are 
of ill omen, that is, which warn of approaching danger. Once, it is said, 
when an unusually brave man was fighting, the enemy cut off his chawat 
(loin-cloth) behind; he died and became a bird without a tail." 

On an important occasion when the chief Serambo left the rebels he 
urged the constant unfavourable omen of the birds as one of his reasons. 
** Often, very often, he said, when he went out, the bird cried, and flew in the 
direction of Siniawan, which will be explained by what I have before stated ; 
for if they hear the bird to the right, they go to the left, and vice versa ; so 
that the bird may be considered as warning them from evil." *' (Keppel i. 


On a deer hunting expedition among the Undups the Rajah writes : 
** After feeding off a handful of dried prawns and some rice, I said aloud, 
* Ah ! to-morrow we shall have deer's flesh to eat.' My Dyaks' countenances 
immediately grew long and serious, and I at once guessed the reason. I had 
said something contrary to custom. To name even the word deer when 
searching for one is mali or tabooed, and now they thought it was useless my 
going to look for them any more. I smiled my mistake away, and told the 
old gentleman with me that my dreams were sometimes of a contrary 
description to theirs, consequently my conversation differed a little also. 
They are most superstitious people, for they listen to omens religiously, 
whenever on a hunting or fishing excursion, and never name the animal, for 
fear the spirits should carry information to the object of pursuit." (Brooke ii. 

** If the katupong enters a house at one end and flies out by the other it is 
an omen. The katupong, according to Dyak belief, is not really a bird, but a 
supernatural being married to Dara Ensing Tatnaga, the eldest daughter of 

'1 If after having turned back on being warned by the bird omen and the bird forbid him on 
attempting again to make a start " he may settle the matter with the huruku ttilah (or burong tulok of 
the Malay) by producing a small skein of seven strands (which, when the true article, has its upper 
ends enclosed in a silver tip for the fingers) freeing it from entanglement and suspending in the grasp 
of two fingers. If a strand fall to the ground, he may not go forward at the hazard of illness or 
calamity ; if two or more it would be madness even to cherish a wish foreign to submissiveness." 
(At Karagan : Jour. Ind. Arch. ii. p. lii ) 

Religion — Omens. 225 

Sin Yalang Durong, the god of war, and takes the form of this bird to warn 
Dyaks of approaching danger. When this occurs, flight is instant, men and 
women snatch up a few necessaries (mats and rice) and stampede, leaving 
everything unsecured and doors unfastened. If any one approaches the house 
at night, he will see large and shadowy demons chasing each other through 
it, and hear their unintelligible talk. After a while the people return and 
erect the ladder they have overthrown, and the women sprinkle the house 
with water * to cool it.' " ** (Crossland.) 

The bird omens are not the same everywhere, and we have thus very 
different interpretations from different districts. The Rev. W. Chalmers 
says : ** These are chiefly derived from birds. In this district three birds are 
made use of during the day, viz. the Kushah, the Keriak, and the Kalupung. Of 
those used at night — used because they are supposed to give the information 
asked of them — two are particularly noted ; they are called Penydach and 
Kunding. The others are called by the generic name of Manuk, or birds, and 
to consult them is called * Nyimanuk.' The tradition concerning the origin 
of bird-omens is that ' in the beginning,' a Dyak got married to a ' Hantu,* or 
spirit,** who conceived and brought forth birds, which novel progeny being 
* half- Dyaks ' were cared for and cherished by their paternal relatives (the 
Dyaks) till they could look out for themselves ; and, ever since, they have 
shewn their gratitude to the descendants of their quondam protectors by 
exercising the spiritual powers which they have derived from their mother, 
the ' Hantu,' on their behalf, giving them warning of coming sickness or 
misfortune, and encouraging them to proceed in such undertakings as will end 
in advantage. Consequently, on every occasion of importance, the birds are 
taken in^o the confidence of the Dyaks, and their advice is strictly attended 
to. ' It may sound strange to say that a man married a spirit ; but the Dyaks 
assure me that, ' in the beginning,' men and spirits were on equal terms, and 
could eat, drink, and, if necessary, fight together. In those days spirits were 
not hidden from mortal gaze, and men were not afraid of them. After a 
certain combat, in which men were the victors, the treacherous ' Hantu ' 
invited them to a banquet, pretending they wished to make peace, and the 
men went unsuspecting to their fate. Deceived by the apparent joviality of 
the * Hantu,' the forefathers of Dyakdom suffered themselves to be overcome 
by the strength of the * Hantu ' arrack, and got helplessly intoxicated. The 
wicked spirits saw their advantage, rubbed some magic charcoal into the eyes 
of the drunken Dyaks, which made their eyes black thenceforth (before that 
time they were blue, like those of white men), and took away from them the 
power of seeing spirits as long as they are in the flesh. Thus, men lost their 

'* At Pontianak once the " chief who visited the Madura (steamer) had just finished a long 
house intended as the headquarters of his clan, when before it had been inhabited, a bird flew into 
it, and was supposed to have uttered an ominous cry. This was enough to damn the house, and the 
chief told us that no one would ever live in it, and he was then building another for himself and his 
tribe." (S. G. No 103.) 

" Elsewhere (Occas. Papers, p. 3), he says : " In fact, I was told the other day, they are really 
Dyaks in the form of birds. They are held universally in high reputation, and are supposed to be 
to the Dyaks what ' books ' and the • compass * are to the ' orang putih* (white men)." 


226 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo. 

equality with spirits, and, instead of fighting them, they have ever since been 
obliged to propitiate them by doctorings and offerings. The birds of day are 
consulted with respect to the good or evil fortune of every journey of 
importance. Before entering upon it, those who are about to set out, go to a 
cleared spot near the village called the * Peng-aba,' . . . near which there 
are, generally, a clump or two of grand -looking graceful bamboos, a few rough 
seats, and a lofty tree or two shading a small shed in which the second 
harvest-feast, called ' Begdwai Man Sawa,' is usually held. Sitting here, one 
of their number invokes the birds as follows : — * Hail, O ancestors ! O 
Kushah, cry on the left hand, and then make answer on the right ; keep off 
rain, keep off wind, keep off darkness, keep off mist. . . . O Keriak (the 
Keriak is the bird which is said to watch over the life of the Dyaks) cry thou 
on the right hand ; thou art the clever one, the long-sighted one ; keep off 
from us sharp things {i.e. swords, &c.) ; keep off from us pointed things (i.e. 
spears, thorns, &c.); keep off rain-storms ; keep off wind-storms.' 

" Accordingly, if the Kushah' s cry (or that of the Kalupung) be first heard 
on the left hand, and be then responded to on the right, all is well, good luck 
is certain ; if heard in other directions, it is a sign that no success will attend 
the journey. 

'^ If the Keriak be first heard on the right hand, all is well ; if on the left, 
not so well ; if in front, go no further, for sickness or death are waiting there ; 
if behind, return at once, or, during absence, some deadly evil will come to 
family or village. 

*' The * birds of night * are consulted about the place at which the year's 
farms are to be made, the locality of new houses, and also concerning matters 
in dispute between two people, where there is no certain oral evidence on 
either side. The farming consultation is held as follows : — A likely spot is 
first fixed upon, and upon this a small hut is built ; at night, the elders who 
are appointed to take the omen go and seat themselves in this hut, and one 
of them casts into the air a little rice stained yellow, crying aloud, * Hail, O 
ancestors ! I wish to make inquiry about this spot of jungle; grant us here 
to make our farms, to do our work ; grant that here our paddy, our *jagong ' 
(Indian corn), our vegetables may live ; let them be fat, and good, and 
flourishing ; let them be lucky, let them be successful ; grant us long life to 
make our farms, to do our work. Fly from in front past us who are here ; 
utter your cries, and give us an answer.' This invocation finished, the response 
is waited for. If the birds cry at a distance in front, and then fly past the 
hut, and twitter among the trees behind it, the spot may be farmed ; but if 
the birds fly, cry, and alight round about, and near the hut, without passing 
on, there are many 'Hantu' in that place, and to farm there would be to court 
sickness, or death, or a bad crop. 

"The cries of the owl (boh), the hawk (bouch), and of a small kind of 
frog, called * tuniiniy' if heard at night by those who are on their way to 
consult the birds, are an omen of evil, and a warning to desist for that night. 
Again, if the cry of the owl or hawk be heard by a party on the war-path, in 
the direction which the head-seekers are about to take, they must return, or 
shame and loss will be the result of their expedition. Again, if the cries of 

Religion — Omens, 227 

any of the three kinds of deer found in Sarawak be heard, when starting on a 
journey, or when going to consult the birds by day or by night, it is a sign 
that, if the matter in hand be followed up, sickness will be the result. Also, 
if a newly-married couple hear them at night, they must be divorced ; as, if 
this be not done, the death of the bride or bridegroom will ensue. I myself 
have known instances of this last omen causing a divorce, and I must say the 
separation has always been borne most philosophically by the parties most 
concerned, — far more so than we ' white men ' should feel inclined to bear it ; 
in fact, the morning of one of these divorces, I remember seeing an ex-bride- 
groom working hard at shaping some ornamental brass wire-work, which Dyak 
women are in the habit of wearing round their waists, and he said he intended 
to bestow it on a certain damsel whom he had in his eye for a new wife." 

Mr. Dalton (Moore, p. 53), speaking of an omen bird on the Kotei river, 
says: ** I have frequently been out shooting when we heard it; on such 
occasions they invariably would stop and tremble violently, and immediately 
take another road. 1 never could obtain a sight of this bird of ill omen, for 
such it is considered ; if 1 attempted to advance a single step nearer the 
sound, they took hold of me, and, pointing towards the sky with gestures of 
apprehension, forced me a contrary way. The notes are very similar to those 
of our blackbird, equally sweet,** but much stronger. Notwithstanding my 
becoming brother of the great Rajdh, I always entertained an impression that 
I should be murdered if, by mischance, 1 happened to shoot one of these birds." 
Perhaps the savages among whom Mr. Dalton stayed would have so murdered 
him, but Capt. Mundy (i. 232) had a different experience: ** Whilst at Padong 
one of the seamen shot a red -breasted bird they call the Papow, which the 
Dyaks immediately informed us was held in reverence amongst them. I was 
sorry for this occurrence, lest it might cause uneasiness, but they appeared 
neither shocked nor surprised at it." Mr. Hornaday's experience was again 
different : He shot ** the celebrated Dyak omen bird {Harpactes rutilus, 
Vieill), a sub-genus of the trogons, not at all rare on the Sibuyau. The 
Dyaks at the house noticed it at once, and expressed a desire that we would 
not kill any more of them, a request to which we readily acceded." (p. 426.) 

** The burong-beragai is esteemed sacred to the Dyaks, and may not be 
killed. Its plumage is rich and beautiful." (Brooke Low.) 

"The Idaan, if they hear a bird they reckon unlucky, or anything of a 
like nature, they will return home." (Dalrymple, p. 44.) 

The Muruts regard the ** presence of red clouds at sunset as a favourable 
omen when on the war path if they are ahead, but not if behind. It is 
amusing to watch a party of men waiting on a path calling to the birds. 
* Migaw Angaiy is what they commence with, or often * Migaw* only, and a 
number shouting this sounds somewhat like the cawing of a lot of crows. If 
the omen is favourable the party proceeds shouting long sentences to the 
omen, the gist of which is that it will help them to reach such and such a 

w Amongst the Dusuns where Mr. Witti was similarly stopped until a hombill overcroaked the 
omen bird and so pat everything right, he says the omen birds were some members of the lark family, 
who warbled beautifully. 

228 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo, 

place, that no one will be taken ill, and they will meet with no enemy, and so 
on." (O. F. Ricketts, S.G. No. 348, p. 18.) 

" There are other creatures besides birds whose notes of warning they 
observe. A cobra crossing the path compels the return of the advancing 
party. A rat on the farm the same. A kijang, or wild goat, when heard on 
the hill near the farms sends all the people home. A deer crying at night 
keeps all at home the next day. A bujang (a kind of grasshopper) sounding 
at night is a sign of a healthy house, but should he go on till dawn no one 
goes out. A tiger roaring is fearful ; though I myself have never heard the 
roar, nor do I believe the tiger inhabits this island. There is a small kind of 
panther in some parts.'* (Crossland Gosp. Miss. 1871, p. 165.) 

" To hear the cry of a deer is at all times unlucky, and to prevent the 
sound reaching their ears during a marriage procession, gongs and drums are 
loudly beaten. On the way to their farms, should the unlucky omen be 
heard, they will return home and do no more work for a day." (St. John 
i. 64.) The same author also says that " the croak of a small kind of frog 
portends sickness if heard at night and if the design then in hand be 
pursued." {ibid i. 192.) 

According to Capt. Mundy (i. 233) : " Insects have also their influence 
on the minds of these deluded people. Two of great authority ; one called 
kundingy the other bunsue ; the former with a short note, the latter with a 
long one. The kunding heard in front at the early part of the night is the 
sign of an enemy, and a Dyak will change his place of rest ; heard in the 
same quarter late at night, the sign is good, especially if the long note of the 
bunsue be heard high at the same moment. The kunding heard in the rear 
is the worst omen ; in war it induces them to retreat to their own country, 
without prosecuting any undertaking they may have in view. Beside these 
birds and insects, they are also guided by snakes in a certain degree ; and it 
shows the sincerity of their superstition, that after burning the jungle, and 
preparing a farm, if any animal be found dead upon it they reject the use of 
the crop.** The insects of omen are likewise used to point out the quarter 
whence a theft has been committed. Their mode of inquiry is curious. They 
make up a little ciri, and turning to the quarter they suspect, they throw it 
forward and call out for the insect : if the insect respond from that direction, 
the theft is charged to the tribe so pointed out ; if it fail to answer, they try 
another quarter." 

**Dusun omens are apparently very numerous: snakes, centipedes, 
kingfishers, and other animals coming from a wrong direction turn back an 
expedition. I knew a girl in Melangkap who set out for her paddi-fields, and 
on the way there she encountered a snake, which she killed and sold to me ; 
she, however, did not attempt to do any work that day, but loitered about the 
house doing nothing." (Whitehead, p. 185.) 

^ On one occasion the Ven. Archdeacon Perham wrote : " Everything went on well until after 
the cut jungle was burnt, when a dead cobra (a very poisonous snake) was found in the trunk of a 
fallen tree. This is considered a very bad omen, and makes the farm ' mali,' i.e. the paddy on it 
cannot be eaten by the owner's family. If it is so eaten, some one or other among them will certainly 
die in the course of the year." (Gosp. Miss. 1874, p. 89.) 

Religion — Omens. 229 

Fire seems to be a medium through which an omen bird can be 
answered. We are thus told by Mr. R. Burns (Jour. Ind. Arch. p. 147) : 
" On another occasion in descending the upper part of the Tatau river, one 
of the birds of fate crossed from the unlucky side ; the party instantly halted, 
went on shore, kindled a fire and had their accustomed smoke over it, but 
were not disposed to move onward, unless one more favourably disposed 
towards us should , take its flight from the opposite side ; however, on 
reminding them of their belief that fire is efficacious in appeasing the hate 
of birds, and that they had observed their usual custom of kindling a fire and 
smoking, they were prevailed upon to resume an onward course. The next 
day, unfortunately, our boat got swamped at a part of the river much 
obstructed with fallen trees and rocks, the river was rapid and much swollen 
from heavy rain that fell during the night. The loss of the greater portion 
of our stock of provisions and other articles vexed my superstitious com- 
panions very much, and taking all the blame to themselves, they were most 
profuse in reflecting on the impropriety of their disregarding the ominous 
warning of the bird of the previous day." 

" Fire is the medium through which people converse with the spirits and 
omen birds, in certain cases, as for instance, should a man hear the cry of a 
bird which is a bad omen, he lights a small fire telling it to protect him, and 
the fire is supposed to speak to the omen bird on his behalf. Another 
instance of the kind in which the fire would be thus regarded is as follows : — 
A man has planted fruit trees and when they are in fruit, he places some 
round stones in cleft sticks near the trees and then proceeds to curse anybody 
who may venture to steal his fruit, calling these stones to witness the 
anathema. The curse invoked is somewhat of this nature, * May whoever 
steals my fruit suffer from stones in the stomach as large as these stones, and 
if necessary become a figure of stone ! ' (batu keidi). Now supposing a friend 
passes by and wishes to gather some fruit for himself, he lights a fire and tells 
the flame to explain to the stone that he is a friend of the proprietor of the 
fruit and desires to eat thereof; the fire having explained all this satisfactorily 
to the stone, the visitor may safely pluck and eat, but woe betide a man who 
is not a friend and yet dares to take the fruit." (Hose, J.A.I, xxiii. 161.) 

Sir Chas. Brooke relates a very similar use of fire to avert evil while on 
the Gadong river : " After another public meeting with the population to bid 
farewell, and to give good advice, and after leaving directions that Bandar 
Kassim should proceed to Sarawak on his return to this river, our force 
started away. As we were passing the houses, I saw more than one 
person appear with lighted brands, which they waved in the air and then 
threw away ; this was to frighten away the evil spirit raised by us on their 
land ; or to extinguish any noxious influence caused by our presence." 
(Brooke ii. 15.) 

How very strongly the Sea Dyaks adhere to their omens is well described 
by His Highness the present Rajah : *' Many go through the form of their 
forefathers in listening to the sounds of omens ; but the ceremony now is very 
curtailed, compared with what it was a few years ago, when I have known a 
chief live in a hut for six weeks, partly waiting for the twittering of birds to 

230 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

be in a proper direction, and partly detained by his followers. Besides, the 
whole way in advancing, their dreams were religiously interpreted and adhered 
to; but, as in all such matters, interpretations are liable to a double 
construction. The finale is, that inclination, or often fear, is most powerful. 
A fearful heart produces a disagreeable dream, or a bad omen in imagined 
sounds from bird or deer ; and this always makes a force return. But they 
often loiter about so long, that the enemy gains intelligence of their intended 
attack, and is on the alert. However absurdly these omens lead the human 
race, they steadily continue to follow and believe in such practices. Faith 
predominates and hugs huge wonders, and tenaciously lives in the minds of 
the ignorant. Some of the Dyaks are somewhat shaken in the belief in 
hereditary omens, and a few follow the Malay custom of using a particular 
day, which has a strange effect upon European imaginations. The white 
man who commands the force is supposed to have an express bird and lucky 
charm to guide him onwards; and to these the Dyaks trust considerably. 
'You are our bird, we follow you.' I well know the names, and can 
distinguish the sounds of their birds, and the different hands on which the 
good and bad omens are interpreted. The effect of these signs on myself was 
often very marked ; and no Dyak could feel an adverse omen more than 
myself when away in the jungles, surrounded by these superstitious people. 
Still I could sympathise with the multitude ; and the difficulty lay in the 
question, whether my influence would be sufficient to counteract such 
phantoms. It must not be thought that I ever attempted to lead the Dyaks 
to believe that I was an owner of charms or such absurdities, which could 
not have lasted beyond a season, and could never be successful for a length of 
time. My desire was always to extinguish such an idea ; but natives 
persisted in their belief. A Maia*s (orang utan) head was hanging in my 
room, and this they thought to be my director to successful expeditions." 
(ii. 233.) 

A curious coincidence is mentioned by Mr. Whitehead when among the 
Dusans : ** . . several heavy drops of rain fell on us and on the sea around 
without any cloud being visible ; the men began to talk to one another, and 
when we inquired what they were conversing about, they told us it was a 
most unlucky sign, and that people were being killed at the moment ; however, 
we laughed at their fears ; but it was only a few hours later that we learned 
that their curious omen was actually going to prove true. At last we reached 
some small islands known as Pulo Danarwan ; here we found the steam- 
launches anchored, and judged by the faces of the natives on board that 
something serious had taken place. A Dyak policenian had just arrived with 
bad news ; he told us that Dr. Fraser had been shot dead. Captain Fontaine 
wounded beyond hope of recovery, the Jemadhar and two other officers killed, 
and eight police wounded, some severely." (p. 27.) Mr. Whitehead also 
relates that a Dusun priestess prophesied evil to the people because of his 
party's visit, (p. 189.) 

Near Serambo Mr. Denison's attention was called "to the flat stone 
described by St. John in his * Forests of the Far East.' When water is found 
in the hollow of the stone's top, it portends a sickly season for the tribe. Of 

Religion — Dreams. 231 

course if it rains it is full, but according to the Dyaks the water soon dries up, 
it is only when sickness portends that the water remains/' (Ch. ii. p. 15.) 
" After three the Sea Dyak's favourite number is seven."*" (Brooke Low.) 


** In dreams they place implicit confidence,'* says Mr. Chalmers. ** Fainting 
fits, or a state of coma, are thought to be caused by the departure or absence 
of the soul on some distant expedition of its own. When any one dreams of 
a distant land, as we exiles often do, the Dyaks think that our souls have 
annihilated space, and paid a flying visit to Europe during the night. Elders 
and priestesses often assert in their dreams they have visited the mansion of 
Tapa, and seen the Creator dwelling in a house like that of a Malay, the 
interior of which was adorned with guns and gongs and jars innumerable. 
Himself being clothed like a Dyak. 

** A dream of sickness to any member of a family always ensures a 
ceremony ; and no one presumes to enter the priesthood, or to learn the art 
of a blacksmith, without being, or pretending to be, warned in a dream that 
he should undertake to learn it. 1 have known a man with only tw^o children 
give his younger child to another who was no relation, because he dreamed 
that he must give it to him or the child would die. 

** In dreams also * Tapa ' and the spirits bestow gifts on men in the shape 
of magic stones," which being washed in cocoa-nut milk, the water forms one 
of the ingredients in the mass of blood and tumeric which is considered 
sacred, and is used to anoint the people at the harvest feasts. They are 
ordinary black pebbles and there is nothing in their appearance to give an 
idea of their magic power and value. The ones in the Quop village were 
procured in a dream by the late * Orang Kaya Bai Malam,' in order to replace 
those lost in the civil wars which desolated the country before Sir James 
Brooke's arrival. He dreamt that a spirit came unto him and gave him a 
number of these sacred stones ; and lo ! when he awoke, they were in his 
hand. In some villages they are kopt in a rude kind of wooden bowl covered 
and fastened down, then fixed to the top of an iron-wood post in the middle 
of the outside platform. In others they are deposited in a small house built 
in the jungle, at some distance from the village, and all around it is sacred. 
I will relate an anecdote Mr. Chalmers told me : — 

"A Quop woman who had turned Malay was staying at her village when 
the clergyman was there ; he had a number of coloured-glass marbles, and 
one of these this woman got hold of, and no doubt thought it very strange 
and wonderful. Next morning, when she awoke, she called loudly for white 
cloth, declaring at the same time that the late Orang Kaya had appeared to 
her in the night and given her a sacred stone, at the same time producing 
the marble, and expected, no doubt, a good price for it from the Dayaks. 
But they are wiser now than of yore, and would have nothing to do with it ; 

M " The bracelets and armlets are always worn in uneven numbers, the Dyaks in this, as in 
many other customs, such as in designing tattoo marks. &c., being very partial to the numbers 
7, 9, II, and 13." (Bock, p. 188.) 

'^ Mr. Chalmers calls them pettgaroh. 

232 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

and the young fellows, hearing how she had procured the marble, teased her 
on the subject until her departure." (St. John i. 189.) 

Bishop Chambers writes : " The only explanation which Apai Balai had 
conceived of the appearances which he saw in his dreams was, either that his 
spirit travelled whilst his body slept, or that the spirits or shades of other 
persons and objects came before him. The appearance of his deceased 
friends in his dreams was a proof amounting to a demonstration of the 
existence of Hades {Subaian). But the fact that when they met him they 
wore the same dress, were engaged in the same occupations, and looked 
altogether the same as when they lived in this world, was an obstacle to his 
receiving what revelation informs us respecting the world to come. . . . 
Apai Balai further explains his theory thus : * When we dream, of falling into 
the water we suppose that this accident has really befallen our spirits, and we 
send for the Manangs, who fish for it and recover it for us.' Bujang Brani 
had told me a dream the previous day, which he imagined presaged my 
arrival. * I was going down your way in a boat which upset ; whilst my 
spirit was struggling with the waves, the spirit of a great fish approached ; 
the spirit of the fish tried to swallow me, and my spirit tried to destroy 
it," etc. (Miss. Field 1867, p. 462.) 

The view that the spirit is supposed to leave the body during dreams is 
confirmed by Mr. Grant (p. 69) : ** Regarding dreams, their theory is that 
during sleep the seinengi (soul) can hear, see, and understand, and even leaves 
the body occasionally. I recollect a curious case in reference to this super- 
stition. A man came to me officially and asked for protection. The case 
was this : — Another man of the same village dreamed that the complainant 
had stabbed his father-in-law, who lay ill in the house, with a spear. The 
defendant believing this, threatened the complainant with vengeance should 
the sick man die. The plaintiff therefore applied for protection, stating that 
he had not stabbed the sick man, and that if his ghost had done so during 
his sleep he knew nothing about it, and was not, therefore, responsible for 
the deed. It so happened that I was attending the sick man, who was 
dangerously ill. When I first went to his house, the planks for his coffin and 
the linen wrappers were all ready waiting at the door, but fortunately he did 
not want them. The people were Mildnows, converted to Mahomedanism." 

Mr. de Crespigny also reports a practical sequence to a dream. " At Mukah 
I met Janela, one of the fifteen Suai Penans lately come into Kabulu. He 
said the reason of his coming here was that his daughter was about to be 
fined in Luai because her husband Jamai had dreamt she had been unfaithful 
to him. Janela brought away his daughter; Jamai has also come across, but 
Janela is not certain that his daughter will receive Jamai." (S. G., No. 188, 
p. 41.) 

" In an interior Lundu house at one end were collected the relics of the 
tribe. These consisted of several round-looking stones, two deers' heads, and 
other inferior trumpery. The stones turn black if the tribe is to be beaten in 
war, and red if to be victorious: any one touching them would be sure to die; 
if lost, the tribe would be ruined. 

" The account of the deers' heads is still more curious : A young Dyak 


Religion — Dreams, 233 

having dreamed the previous night that he should become a great warrior, 
observing two deer swimming across the river, he killed them ; a storm came 
on with thunder and lightning, and darkness came over the face of the earth ; 
he died immediately, but came to life again, and became a rumah guna (literally 
a 'useful house') and chief of his tribe ; the two deer still live, and remain to 
watch over the affairs of the tribe. These heads have descended from their 
ancestors from the 'time when they first became a tribe and inhabited the 
mountain. Food is always kept placed before them, and renewed from time 
to time." (Keppel ii. 36.) 

Mr. Brooke Low says : " No doubt Sea Dyaks often concoct dreams out of 
their waking thoughts to suit their interest, yet they are impHcit believers in 
the reality of dreams, and will not spare expense to atone by ceremony or 
sacrifice for a bad one. Those who dream of the cobra are lucky.'' 

Referring to some superstitious beliefs on the Lingga, Sir Chas. Brooke 
says: "These people are really truthful, and their incredible stories, which are 
brought vividly to their minds in dreamSy are actually credited as having taken 
place." (i. 41.) 

" A Saribas boat's crew in the course of the day were seized with a severe 
attack of colic, in consequence of some unwholesome diet, and were now 
vomiting. A short while afterwards I overheard a discussion amongst them, 
and, when many reasons had been advanced for their sickness, the chief said, 

* Children, I will tell you why it is. You know that when we started from 
Saribus, I told you my feeling was averse to move that day, as my dream was 
bad and not propitious ; and if the boat had been my own, on no account 
should I have left the landing-place. Another day you had better pay more 
attention to old men's dreams.' On the same afternoon a youth of the same 
crew offered to fire off a gun, which no one else would undertake. The gun 
burst, and sent him head over heels backwards. They sent for me, saying he 
was dead; but when I reached the spot he was chattering away at a great 
pace, and certainly not in any danger. This was the same lad that had half 
his face cut off on the attack of Kabah. He was generally in some scrape or 
other. This final calamity was also attributed to the old man's adverse 
dreams. In a conversation the day after with Apai Bakir, who was not 
famous for loquacity as many others are, in answer as to whether himself and 
people had had good crops this year, he said, * Yes, all my people are well off 
this year for padi, because we have paid every attention to the omens of 
Bertara (God), and appeased the Antus by taking alligators, killing pigs to 
examine their hearts, and we have judiciously interpreted our dreams. The 
consequence is a good harvest ; but those who have neglected to do this are 
still poor, and must pay more attention in future. The fact is,' he added, 

* that after the continued attacks made on Saribus, the heavens have fallen in, 
and require many repairs.' " (Brooke ii. 202.) 

" Only a Kenniah chief is allowed to wear the skin of a real tiger as a war 
coat, and then only if he has had a propitious dream during sleep with the 
tiger skin hanging over his head. Before lying down to sleep the chief 
explains to the skin the use he wishes to make of it, and begs the spirit to 
tell him the truth in his dreams as to his future fate. The call of certain 

234 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N, Borneo. 

birds is to them an omen when they are out on a hunting expedition, and they 
are influenced by these birds in almost all their daily actions/* (Hose, J.A.I, 
xxiii. 159.) 


The old classical system of auguring good or evil from an examination of 
the entrails of a particular animal is very common throughout the country. 
The following account is given by an officer of H.M.S. Pluto: "After 
Tamawan had drunk to our mutual friendship a ceremony took place, quite 
new to me. A young sucking pig was brought in by a very pretty girl, and 
handed to a Kyan, who bound its legs and carrying it out opposite the 
[H.M.S.] Pluto, placed it on the ground ; mats were laid, on one of which 
Tamawan stood ; he, after a few preliminary arrangements, commenced an 
oration, his voice was at first thick from the potency of his previous draughts, 
but warming in his subject, he entered at large on the feelings of friendship 
with which he regarded the English, spoke of the wonderful vessel which 
came with oars of fire {dayong apt), seized my hand, and gesticulated, pointing 
to the pig : after rather a tedious speech, it often struck me it was a prayer, 
as he appeared appealing to some one beyond him, he took a knife and cut 
the pig*s throat, the body was then opened, and the heart and liver taken out 
and placed on two leaves, and closely examined to judge from their 
appearance whether our visit would be fortunate for the Kyan nation. Every 
chief present felt their different proportions, Tamawan pointed out to me 
their various indications. Luckily for our friendship, they found that every 
portion portended gocd fortune, and with his bloody hand, Tamawan seized 
me by the arm and said all was well. Throwing the auricle of the heart 
away, they cut up the rest, placed them in two bamboos and put them to 
cook over the fire. Nakodah Godore told me that all was now over. I shook 
hands around : and was aboard about half-past three — four hours spent in 
this conference. The ceremony of examining the heart and liver is too 
classical not to be particularly mentioned.*' (The Barram River, Journ. Ind. 
Arch. V. 683.) 

Bishop Chambers mentions the following case : ** I found Muja living in 
a hastily constructed house. Asking him why he had abandoned his former 
one, which was still good, he told me that, during his absence, his people had 
found blood on a mat, which they had concluded to be that of a spirit ; and 
so, according to Dyak custom in such a case, they had deserted the house. 
Before doing so they had resorted to the u^ual rites to avert the omen, and 
had killed a pig, but on inspecting its entrails they were pronounced 
unsatisfactory." (Miss. Field 1867, P- 7^-) 

" In killing a pig, which is done at all village festivals, the length of the 
animal is carefully measured while it is still alive, and should, after death, he 
be found a little longer, as from the distension of the muscles in the dying 
agony is generally the case, the omen is accepted as one of prosperity to the 
tribe in all its undertakings for the ensuing season ; but if, on the contrary, 
the pains of the slaughtered animal should cause it to contract its limbs, the 
omen portends misfortunes to the tribe." (Low, p. 309.) 

Religion — Ordeals. 235 

Mr. Hose supplies us with a very detailed account as to the meanings of the 
various signs on the Baram River : ** When they wish to consult the gods as 
to whether some event of importance is likely to happen, or to obtain advice, 
a pig is brought in tied by the legs, and the chief talks to the pig, for this 
occasion, invoking it by the dignified title of * Balli Boin ! ' (literally * spiritual 
pig ') ; he then takes some burning embers and passes them round the back 
and sides of the animal, very close to the skin, but not touching it. Then he 
adjures the pig to speak the truth, and explains to him it is advisable to take 
such and such a step or not. After which the pig is killed, the blood being 
caught in a big gong and the carcass cut up and the liver taken out for 
inspection. If the liver is blotched or spotted, it is a very bad sign ; if it is 
held together strongly by the larger blood-vessels, the position these bear to 
each other is considered ; or if the gall bladder is in any way overlapping the 
liver, this is also taken as a sign that the omen is unfavourable. But, if the 
liver is healthy and free from all blemish then the omen is favourable, and the 
pig can be eaten." 

This method of augury is also mentioned by Sir Spencer St. John as 
found among the Skarang Dyaks, when a dead animal has been found on a 
farm, and they wish to avert evil. " After their great head feast, they also 
examine the hearts of pigs, and their gray-headed leaders surround and look 
extremely grave over the bleeding spectacle which they one by one turn over 
with the point of a stick to examine the run and position of the veins ; each 
as he does it offers some sapient remark ; and the result generally is, that 
there are still numerous enemies, but far away ; but however powerful these 
may be, they themselves are more powerful, and in the end will overcome 
them.'* (i. 64.) 

Among the Undups : ** I told the headman that, as long as he lived in 
his present house, he would be liable to sickness, since it was placed in the 
midst of a swamp. He told me they had twice tried to build a new house ; 
the first time, the heart and liver of the pig they had killed gave them bad 
news — the house would be unlucky — so this house was abandoned, and a 
fresh one, on a fresh site, was begun ; but not only was the heart and liver 
against them this time, but the soil prophesied ill luck — one of the posts of 
the house gave way. I told him that most likely he had planted his post on 
the top of a nest of white ants, and consequently the soil gave way. He 
replied — No, the spirits were against him." (Crossland, Gosp. Miss. 1866, 

P- 39-) 


Mr. Chalmers mentions that there exists among the Land Dyaks a very 
simple ordeal by which he has known " many disputed matters settled very 
quietly. It is called Pangat, and is thus performed : Two small wax tapers 
are made, of equal length and size ; they are lighted together, one being held 
by the plaintiff, and the other by the defendant, in the cause thus brought to 
trial ; he whose taper is first extinguished is adjudged to be in the wrong, 
and, as far as I have seen, he always implicitly accepts the decision." Sir S. 
St. John also mentions this form of ordeal. 


236 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

The common form of ordeal, however, is that of diving. Mr. Crossland 
thus describes it in one of his letters: "To-day there has been a grand diving 
to try a case. A man was accused of adultery, the only evidence as far as I 
could make out being that the husband had a dream about it. So they called 
all the chief men together, and had a court. After many sittings it was 
decided that the husband and the accused should each stake a jar of the value 
of about 12 dollars, and dive. Each of them got a man, and they dived early 
this morning. The accused won, as many say ; others say that it was a drawn 
affair ; so all these foolish fellows go to court again, and there is no knowing 
where it will end.'* (Miss. Field, 1874, p. 544.) 

The Ulu Dyaks also practise this : " I received information of the death 
of an Ulu Ai Dyak named Aban of Tepaiong, Delok. He was found dead on 
his farm with marks of violence on his hands and feet and some wounds on 
the body. The murderer was not known, but suspicion fell upon some people 
in the same house, between whom and the deceased there was known to exist 
some jealousy about a woman. The relations of the deceased challenged the 
suspected party to dive in order to determine whether they were guilty or not. 
It was agreed that should the suspected party lose the match, they were to 
pay a pati nyawa of six jars to relation of deceased. They dived, lost the 
match, still protesting their innocence, but paid up the six jars." (H. F. 
Deshon, S. G., No. 189, p. 55.) 

A fuller account of ordeal amongst the Balaus is given by the Rev. Mr. 
Horsburgh : — " When both parties in a dispute have agreed that it should be 
referred to the diving ordeal, preliminary meetings are held to determine the 
time, place, and circumstances of the match. On the evening of the day 
previous to that on which it is to be decided, each party stakes in the 
following manner a certain amount of property, which, in case of defeat, shall 
come into the possession of the victor. The various articles of the stake are 
brought out of the litigant's room, placed in the verandah of the house in 
which he lives, and are there covered up and secured. One man who acts as 
a kind of herald then rises, and, in a long speech, asks the litigant whether 
he is conscious he is in the right, and trusts in the justice of his cause ; to 
which the latter replies at equal length in the affirmative, and refers the 
matter to the decision of the spirits. Several more speeches and replies 
follow, and the ceremony concludes by an invocation of justice upon the side 
of the right. In the meantime, the respondent deposits and secures his stake 
with like ceremonial in the verandah of his own house ; and early in the 
morning both parties, accompanied by their respective friends, repair to the 
bank of the river to decide the contest. Either party may appear by deputy, 
a privilege which is always taken advantage of by women, and often even by 
men, for there are many professional divers who, for a trifling sum, are 
willing to undergo the stifling contest. Preparations are now made ; the 
articles staked are brought down and placed on the bank ; each party lights a 
fire at which to recover their champion, should he be nearly drowned ; and 
^ach provides a roughly constructed grating for him to stand on, and a pole 
to be thrust into the mud for him to hold on by. The gratings are then 
placed in the river within a few yards of each other, where the water is deep 

Religion — Ordeals. 237 

enough to reach to the middle; the poles are thrust firmly into the mud; and 
the champions each on his own grating grasping his pole, and surrounded by 
his friends, plunge their heads simultaneously under the water. Immediately 
the spectators chant aloud at the top of their voices the mystic, and perhaps 
once intelligible, word lobOn-lobon, which they continue repeating during the 
whole contest. When at length one of the champions shews signs of yielding, 
his friends, with the laudable desire of preventing his being beaten, hold his 
head forcibly under the water. The excitement is now great ; lobon-lobon 
increases in intensity, and redoubles in rapidity ; the shouts become yells, 
and the struggles of the unhappy victim, who is fast becoming asphyxiated, 
are painful to witness. At length, nature can endure no more : he drops 
senseless in the water, and is dragged ashore, apparently lifeless, by his 
companions; while the friends of his opponent, raising one loud and 
prolonged note of triumph, hurry to the bank and seize and carry off the 
stakes. All this, however, is unknown to the unhappy vanquished, who, 
pallid and senseless, hangs in the arms of his friends, by whom his face is 
plastered with mud, in order to restore animation. In a few minutes, in spite 
rather than in consequence of this treatment, respiration returns ; he opens 
his eyes, gazes wildly around, and in a short time is probably able to walk 
home. Next day he is in a high state of fever, and has all the other 
symptoms of a man recovering from apparent death by drowning." (p. 17.) 

The ordeals described by Mr. Hose (J.A.I, xxiii. 163) are of a very severe 
character : " Amongst the Kayans in former time, certain forms of the trial 
by ordeal were in vogue, such as thrusting their arms into a vessel of boiling 
water and recovering therefrom a small pebble to prove that their hands had 
touched the bottom, but this is now of very rare occurrence. However, they 
still very occasionally settle small disputes by the practice of a custom known 
as Menyallum (diving). Take the case of a disputed ownership of a fruit tree, 
such as the durian, which after the lapse of twenty years from the date of 
planting, commences to bear fruit. Probably the original owner, i.e. the 
planter, has been dead some years, and no one has paid any attention to the 
tree because hitherto it has borne no fruit ; but no sooner is the tree in full 
fruit, than several lay claim to the crop. The two principal disputants as 
to the ownership of the tree, agree to settle the matter by diving, and call 
together their friends to witness, the trial, hundreds of people lining the banks 
of the river. The two men take up their positions in about 4 feet of water 
and each holds forth to the effect that he is the rightful owner, and prays that 
the water may trouble and enter the mouth and nostrils of his opponent, 
calling on the birds and animals to witness his testimony. Two sets of 
cross-sticks have been driven into the mud at the bottom of the river leaving 
sufficient room for a man to get his head through, and on a given signal, each 
of the disputants diving into the w^ater places his head under the cross-sticks, 
and holds on as long as he can. A friend holds the legs of each and is by 
this enabled to tell if his principal is going faint, and should the latter faint 
right off, it is the friend's duty to immediately pull him to the surface. The 
man who is able to keep underwater for the greater length of time is declared 
the winner, and the loser is not allowed to make any further claim. Some- 

238 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

times, however, the two men faint off simultaneously, and then the man who 
first recovers consciousness takes the prize. Very severe measures are 
resorted to to make them recover the more quickly, for in view of the 
contingency of both the men fainting a platform has been prepared, and a 
fire of shavings being lighted underneath, the half drowned man is placed on 
the platform and almost roasted. This rough treatment very soon causes one 
of the parties to regain his senses, and he is then held to have established his 
claim, and all the time this ordeal is proceeding the wildest excitement 
prevails amongst the friends of the rival claimants." 

Besides the ordeals of water and tapers Sir S. St. John mentions the 
following (i. 77) among the Sea Dyaks : ** Two pieces of native salt, of equal 
weight, are placed in water; that appertaining to the party guilty melts 
immediately ; the other, they affirm, keeps its form ; but, in fact, the one that 
disappears first proves the owner to be in the wrong. Another is with two 
land shells, which are put on a plate and lime-juice squeezed upon them, and 
the one that moves first shows the guilt or innocence of the owner, according 
as they have settled previously whether motion or rest is to prove the case. 
They talk of another, where the hand is dipped into boiling water or oil, and 
innocence is proved by no injury resulting." 

A curious effect, of the ordeal method of settling disputes, on the Dyak 
mind is related by Bishop Chambers (Miss. Field 1868, p. 222) : ** In the 
morning a party of men came up, full of what they had seen on the river on 
their way. * Two monkeys were diving one against the other. The winner, 
i.e. the one which drew its head last out of the water, immediately strangled 
the other.* In deciding grave suits by the water-ordeal, the Dyaks usually 
stake something in addition to the matter in dispute. These men imputed 
their own customs and feelings to the poor monkeys, and imagined they had 
staked their lives, and the winner had exacted the payment of the stake." 


At the repulse before Sakok, "one old fellow sitting next to me had a ball 
in his back, which I laboured at for more than an hcur, with a blunt penknife, 
and at last I succeeded in extricating it. On seeing the bullet, the man was 
never prouder in his life ; and, carefully putting it away, he thought himself 
bertuah (invulnerable). He stores that article among his charms, which he 
carries around his waist when in dangerous positions. The natives set a high 
value on these charms, and a case was brought before me, only a short time 
since, in which a Pangeran (a prince of royal blood) ^ summoned a man of 
low degree for having lost his charms, which he stated had been handed 
down for generations. The value he required was $30, or £y. It appears 
the defendant had borrowed these articles, and had accidentally lost them. 
On inquiry, the charms in question were known by other parties to consist 
of two round pebbles, and one flat one, $l small stone which had been found 
in a banana ; these were all mixed with a little sand, sewn up together, 
with strings attached for tying around the waist. The court placed a 

'^ ? Malay. 

Religion — Charms. 239 

valuation of five pence on these articles, much to the Pangeran's chagrin." 

(Brooke i. 317.) " 

Archdeacon Perham writes of the effect 
" not of a regular hail storm but of large hail 
stones with rain which fell on the Mission 
Station at Sibitan, a branch of the Krian. 
Some Dyaks in my house at the time carefully 
collected the hail in the palms of their hands 
and breathed upon them, with the idea of 
preserving them, thinking them to be batu ujan 
(not ujan batu which would have a different 
meaning), and believing themselves to have 
gotten a rare 06a/ or charm. But of course 
their rising hopes were soon extinguished by 
the melting of the hail. In a Dyak house 
near, the consternation was intense. It was 
feared that the whole house with everybody 
and everything in it would be suddenly petrified 
into a solid rock — a woful monument to future 
generations. To prevent' this catastrophe they 

_ ^ ■ .. I >_- boiled the hail stones in their prioks (cooking 

Bundle of Charms consisting of bits «.,, r.i- .i 

of wood, two Chinese aiaAoK$. beads, pots), and cut off locKS of their hair and burnt 

'^"^''*^''^l^'Th1iJ°"^°^ them. One family had serious thoughts of 

the wood cut head shaped, , - ^l . . . ui r. i- 

From s. E. Borneo (Liiden Miis.) leaving the house, and probably would have 
done so had not the storm soon ceased. One 
of my Mission school boys was in the house at 
the time, and suggested that the hail was only 
from raiii which he had heard about from the 
Tuan, and would readily melt, but his precocious 
I knowledge was pooh-poohed. ' How could he 
know better than his elders?' I asked some of 
the old men if they had ever seen hail before, and 
they mentioned some misty recollections they 
had of such a storm in Saribas in olden time." 
(S. G. No. III.) 

At Sarambo Sir Jas. Brooke particularly 
remarked : " The relics of the tribe, deposited in 
a small room at one end of the apartment where 
they danced. These consisted of several smooth 
stones, resembling the priapus of the Hindoos, Charms, consisting of twiRs, and 

, ,, ii_-r- ^ bundles of small nieces of wood, 

some deers horns, and other mferior trumpery, small bones, a seed, and three 
The stones are very like those so frequently seen canines, j nat. size, 

in the temples in India, and here they are held F'™ s, e, Boin«ni^id™ mus ) 

'* "When travelling through the Landali (Dutch Borneo) district, I was shown by different 
people a sort of rough round little black diamond, aboui half the size of a pea. Not ' fancy.' but 
' faith ' ought to be the name for this litile fellow which always fetches a high price, and shields 
its wearer from all bodily injury-. The Rajah of Sarawak {so the princess of Ngabon assured me) 
had swallowed one of these life~preserviag pills, and lo I Kaffir though he be, is declared 
' invulnerable ' 1 ! " (S. C, No. gj.) 

240 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

in the highest veneration ; but the only account I could get about the 
matter was, that they had descended from their ancestors, when they first 
became a tribe, or when they first inhabited the mountain. The tribe, 
however, could not exist : sickness and plagues, and war and defeat, would 
follow the destruction of these sacred relics." (Mundy i. 346.) 

Mr. Brooke Low writes on his expedition up the Rejang river : '*A Kanowit 
gave me the tusk of a crocodile which devoured his sister, and showed me a 
boar's tusk which was lost to his family by an uncle who was killed by a 
Ukiet and to recover which he a few years ago killed the Ukiet. He showed 
me another tusk which was dropped by one of the boars which attacked and 
destroyed the house of an ancestor living at Lakut. Articles like these 
appear to constitute their charms." 

On one occasion some Dyaks came from a considerable distance to Mr. 
Brooke, " bringing with them for his inspection what they were pleased to 
designate a Hantu, carefully wrapped up in a piece of cloth. They had 
walked for three days through the jungle and had abstained from speaking to 
anyone by the way, full of the importance of their mission. When they had 
arrived, they ceremoniously laid their treasure before him, when lo ! the 
mysterious wonder disclosed to the Tuan Muda*s eyes was — a pumpkin, or 
gourd, dried and blackened with smoke, and having on the top the half of a 
cocoa-nut shell, with some fibres hanging like scanty hair upon it. It had 
been in possession of the Dyaks for many generations, and they regarded it 
as a charm of the greatest potency." (Collingwood, p. 208.) 

** Dusun charms consist of bits of coral, nipa seeds, animals' teeth, 
curiously-shaped roots, eagles' feet, and anything out of the common. They 
are supposed to keep away evil spirits, and the natives decline to sell or part 
with these charms. He adds, occasionally his party was asked to fire at 
them, as the natives thought they could not be blown to pieces." (Whitehead, 
p. 109.) ** Some other Dusuns looked upon a leaf torn out of a novel as a 
sort of charm." (Von Donop, Diary, 2nd June.) And at Toadilah the 
Dusuns declined to carry a note for Mr. Hatton, being afraid there was a 
charm in it. Ultimately, after much persuasion, they placed it carefully away 
in a bamboo. (Hatton's Diary, i April.) 

*' In taking an oath, the teeth of tiger-cats are employed ; the person 
swearing holding the teeth in his hand and calling on them to harm him if he 
is not speaking the truth." (Hose, J.A.I, xxiii. 165.) 

** Dian says the gift of a tiger's tooth to a Kinah chief will make him your 
friend for life, and he will never fail you or turn false to you for fear of being 
devoured by the beast." (Brooke Low.) 

Charms are attached to their swords, baskets, and houses, as we shall see 
later on. 

Among the Land Dyaks, on a visit to their village, "They wash my 
hands and my feet, and afterwards with the water sprinkle their houses and 
gardens. Then gold dust, with the white cloth which accompanies it, both of 
which have been presented by me, is planted in the field. The white cloth, I 
may remark, is always inseparable from the rice measure ; as being the emblem 
of cold weather, it is supposed to be exerting its cooling influence." (Sir Jas. 
Brooke, Mundy ii. 43.) 

Religion — Charms. 241 

An Aup Dyak chief at his house, "produced a small basin of water in which 
we washed our hands together, while he pronounced some sort of prayer or 
incantation, which was afterwards explained to mean that he wished me good 
luck on my journey." (Denison, ch. iii., p. 34.) 

" A pretty custom prevails among the Danao Dusans in welcoming a 
visitor. The old man's young wife walked up to me, having moistened rice in 
a small bamboo. I had to open my hand and she poured some grains on it, 
after which the rice was again put back into the bamboo. That opened their 
hospitality, and I may subsequently partake of their rice and betel," (Witti, 
Diary, Nov. 23,) 

Similarly when among the Grungo, Sir Spencer St. John writes (i. 147) ; 
"A crowd of old women instantly seized us, and pulled off our shoes and 
stockings, aud commenced most vigorously washing our feet ; this water was 
preserved to fertilize the fields," He had also to sprinkle rice about and to 
pour a httle water on each child that was present. Among the San Poks he 
was seized by a dozen women who " insisted on washing our feet, tying little 
bells round our wrists, and dancing before us enthusiastically." (i, 226,) 
These bells are what is called paniyah tanah or gerunong. They are given to all 
persons who visit a village for the first time, (Grant, p. 8.) In the accounts 
of the Feasts and Festivals we shall hear more about these charms. 

It was also among the Land Dyaks that some " parties of Dyaks paid a 
visit to the senior officer, and while squatting down around us they presented 
some cocoa-nuts, which they requested might be spat upon. The ceremony 
was performed in due form. They then carried off the nuts to their farms, 
cut them in pieces and scattered them over the ground, to ensure a plentiful 
harvest next year by this appeasal of the spirits," {Brooke i. 26.) The Bishop 
writes of this : " Another custom of theirs is almost too nasty to speak of. 
They brought portions of cooked rice on leaves, and begged the Englishmen 
to spit into them. After which they ate them up, thinking they should be the 
better for it." (Mrs. McDougal, p. 77.) 

Design round portion op a Bambu Betbl Box. 

The Ihin silicious cavering o( the bambu is cut away and dragon's blood rubbed in : 

the part left untouched forms the pattern. 

ICcossland Coll.) 


A feast at Surdi — Good luck — Curious dresses — Dancing — Vivid scenes — At Sennah — Sword dances — 
At Aup — Minta adat — At Stang and Mungo Babi — Opinions on the dances — Bras Pilut— Offerings 
— Curious women's dances — Shrieking — " He dances with his legs" — War dances — Pantomimes 
— A pretty dancer — Drunken feasts — Main huhtgsi — Dusun dance — Kadyan dance — Sir Hugh 
Low a guest — The Gawai Burong (Pala) — Bergawai Antu. 

At the village of Surdi " I attended a feast given in my honour by the Orang 
Kaya. The proceedings commenced in the afternoon, and were carried on far 
into the night. On approaching the house I was amused to see a coloured 
handkerchief, having printed on it the Standard Royal of England, flying as 
a banner on a long pole. I was informed that this was a present from Sir 
James Brooke, and was preserved by the tribe with the greatest care. The 
proceedings at this Dyak feast were carried on as usual; my feet were brushed 
with a fowl by an old man, who, as well as the Orang Kaya, wished me luck, 
etc., according to the general Dyak fashion. The fowl was then killed and 
some blood smeared over my feet, as well as those of the principal people, to 
whom the same good luck was wished. The tanju or tanyu (platform in front 
of the house) was now cleared, and dancing began, in which men, women, and 
children joined. The dancing here was different from that at Jagui, where 
the men wore a loose sarong round the waist, Malay fashion. Here the men 
wore a sort of crinoline, or as I might perhaps call it, a rotan frame round the 
waist, coming down to the ankles, over which was suspended a sarong, and 
small hawk-bells were fastened to the wrists and ankles of the performers. 
The women danced round the men, who occupied the centre of the platform, 
the dancing of the former consisting in extending both arms, turning the toes 
out and in, and thus travelling round the stage. The Dyak men were more 
ambitious, and threw themselves into contortions, bending the body from side 
to side, and backwards and forwards, while from time to time a new performer, 
joining the throng, proclaimed his advent by a loud, howling shout. The 
moon had now risen, and was lighting with her pale and silvery beams as wild 
and weird a scene as it was ever mv fortune to witness. Torches had been 
stuck up here and there about the stage, and their flickering rays flashing over 
the dancers gave a supernatural coloring to the whole performance. The 
gaudy dresses of the Dyak women and children, with their short blue 
petticoats bordered with white, red, or black, their white shell bracelets, their 
brass rings on arms and legs, the masses of coloured beads round their necks. 

Feasts, Festivals, and Dancing. 243 

and their fantastic head dresses, all looked wonderfully striking and picturesque, 
as ever and anon the rays from the blazing wood struck and illuminated the 
persons of the wearers, as they moved in slow but graceful measure round the 
male performers in their centre. The Dyak men dancing in their rich and 
gay coloured sarongs and jackets, bending and twisting their bodies now 
forwards, now backwards, keeping time to the music of the gongs, and 
occasionally giving utterance to an almost diabolical yell, added not a little to 
the effect all this created. The scene was heightened by the dense dark 
background of foliage of surrounding fruit-trees and palms, through which 
streamed the clear soft gleams of moonlight, contending with the fiery crimson 
flashes from the burning torches, in lighting up this extraordinary spectacle in 
its brightest and most vivid colours. Now and then some of the women and 
children, tired of dancing, would pause to rest at the corners of the verandah, 
where they would sing a quaint Dyak song, blending their choruses with the 
loud crashing of the gongs, the firing of guns and crackers, the shouts of the 
men who were drinking in the verandahs of the house, and the applause of 

KiNYAH Masks. Used at Festivals. 

(Brooke Low Coll.) 

the spectators. I was sometimes confused and bewildered, although perfectly 
delighted, as reclining on my mat in front of the Orang Kaya's house I gazed 
on all this, and it was very late before I wished the chief good-night to retire 
to my pillow in the head-house. The feast, however, was kept up till far into 
the small hours, and seemed to have been a perfect success to all concerned." 
(Denison, ch. v. p. 58.) 

At Sennah "a great feast was given in my honour. On my arrival a pig 
had been killed, and when I joined the festive gathering at night an old man 
approached me with some of its blood in a cup. He then made a speech, the 
purport of which, I was informed, meant good luck, happiness, and prosperity 
to me and my followers, I was then asked to take a piece of bamboo, dip it 
in the cup, covering it with blood, and with the bamboo in hand wishing the 
tribe the same compliment. This I did, and I had then to throw the stick as 
far as I could into the jungle. The distance thrown by me with the bamboo 
appeared to gi\e general satisfaction, and we then settled down to the business 
of the evening. 

244 ^' Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

*' The feast differed little if at all from other Dyak feasts, but here only as 
at Si Panjang did the women dance, and it was only at this village that 
the sword dance was introduced, which was but an imitation of that of the 
Malays.'* (ibid, p. 65.) 

Madame Pfeiffer thus describes the sword dance : " Two parangs were 
laid crosswise on the ground. The dancers were two youths, festively got up. 
They had red narrow cloth with gold lace tied round their heads, and across 
their shoulders a bright piece of cloth like a shawl. The dance was exceedingly 
elegant and becoming. The feet as well as the hands and arms had to do 
their part. Both dancers made pretty postures and clever movements. First 
of all they danced a few minutes around the swords, then they suddenly 
seemed to want to raise them, but sprang backwards every time as though 
terror-struck, until at last they raised the swords and crossed them in the 
most perfect manner like the best schooled fencers." (Pfeiffer, p. 88.) 

Sir H. Keppel writes of the Sibuyaus: "The dances are highly 
interesting, more especially from their close resemblance, if not identity, with 
those of the South Sea Islanders. Two swords were placed on the mat, and 
two men commenced slowly from the opposite extremities, turning the body, 
extending the arms and lifting the legs, in grotesque but not ungraceful 
attitudes. Approaching thus leisurely round and round about, they at length 
seize the swords, the inusic plays a brisker measure, and the dancers pass 
and repass each other, now cutting, now crossing swords, retiring and 
advancing, one kneeling as though to defend himself from the assaults of his 
adversary ; at times stealthily waiting for an advantage, and quickly availing 
himself of it. The measure throughout was admirably kept, and the frequent 
turns were simultaneously made by both dancers, accompanied by the same 
eccentric gestures. The effect of all this far surpasses the impression to be 
made by a meagre description. The room partially lighted by damar torches 
— the clang of the noisy instruments — the crowd of wild spectators — their 
screams of encouragement to the performers —the flowing hair and rapid 
evolutions of the dancers, formed a scene I wish could have been reduced to 
painting by such a master as Rembrandt or Caravaggio. The next dance 
was performed by a single person with a spear, turning like the last ; now 
advancing, retiring, poising, brandishing, or pretending to hurl his weapon. 
Subsequently we had an exhibition with the sword and shield, very similar to 
the others, and only differing in the use of the weapons ; and the performance 
was closed by a long and animated dance like the first, by two of the best 
performers. The dance with the spear is called Talambong ; that with the 
sword, Mancha.'' (i. 62.) 

The dance may have degenerated later on, as Sir Chas. Brooke says of it : 
" The sword-dance is excessively ungraceful and uninteresting; a stiff mode 
of pirouetting round and round is the general figure, which would be perfectly 
useless in actual sword-play." (i. 284.) ** Sword dances, with shields, were 
going on. Each tribe has a peculiar step and code of its own, but as an 
attack and defence in earnest they all seem to be equally ridiculous. 
However, in the event of an opponent using a shield, I feel convinced an 
European could not stand again3t them, as they are able to crouch their 

Feasts, Festivals, and Dancing, 245 

body entirely behind it, and cap spring immediately from such an attitude 
without losing their balance. But, without a shield, a man with a rapier 
would be more than a match for any of them, unless, as is possible, a heavy 
Dyak weapon were to cut a light sword in two. This, however, no dexterous 
fencer would be likely to allow, and after the first blow from a heavy weapon 
had fallen, the opponent would be at the mercy of a light swordsman." 
{ibid, ii. 256.) 

The three following accounts of Festivals are also borrowed from Mr. 
Denison's pen : 

I. At Aup. 

*' After the head-men had as they call it minta adat from me which 
consisted in my giving them a couple of bottles of gin and the like number of 
packets of Chinese tobacco, and a dozen yards of white drill cloth, the feast 
commenced. After the gin had been mixed with water it was poured into a 
basin, and with the tobacco which had been divided into small portions 
passed round, beginning with the elders and ending with the boys. A fowl 
was then brought in, and handed to the Orang Kaya, who w^ved it over and 
around my head, while he made a short speech in which he wished the Rajah, 
the Datu, myself, the Dyaks, the country, and in fact everybody connected 
with us, luck and prosperity. After this three of the elders clothed in long 
white cabayas or robes commenced dancing, a slow stately almost comical 
measure, the arms extended, and the feet keeping time to the slow strains of 
the music, the toes being turned inwards and outwards without ceasing. A 
little arrack of the No palm was then poured into a cup, and everyone present 
was touched with a drop or two of it. A small portion of boiled fowl was 
then given to everyone, the object of all this being to bring luck on the 
recipients, as whoever had been touched with the arrack or had partaken of 
the boiled fowl was supposed to be secured from sickness. The Orang Kaya 
assured me that without the distribution of the boiled fowl, it would have 
been impossible for him to have allowed the gongs to be beaten ; even killing 
three pigs, he added, would not have sufficed without this rite. All this time 
the gongs were beaten freely and furiously, the din was tremendous, and the 
heat stifling. Boiled rice and something which looked like stewed fish, but 
emitted a powerful odour, were then produced, and the elders sat down to eat 
while I adjourned to the head-house. I returned later in the evening only to 
find the dancing and gong beating continuing furiously. The former was but 
an imitation of the Malay dance." (Ch. iii. p. 33.) 

2. At Stang. 

"The head men with their wives and children then approached, and 
taking my right hand between both of theirs, drew it towards them as if 
trying to draw off a glove, or as if they hoped to extract some essence from 
it, ambil sijuk dingin is I believe the term the Dyaks apply to this custom, 
which is very common among them, and exceedingly disagreeable and 
unpleasant. Small hawk-bells were next fastened on my wrists till I had ?is 
many as fifteen and more on each arm. The Orang Kaya then took a fowl 

246 H. Ling Roth. — Natives 0/ Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

and parading through the verandah, waved it over our heads and wishing us 
and his tribe in a kind of incantation, prosperity, plenty and good fortune, 
heaps of children, health, abundance of fruit, pigs, fowls and in fact every- 
thing that these poor people thought good and likely to confer pleasure. . . . 
The fowl was then killed, and the blood collected in a small cup, and passed 
round among the elders to judge, I fancy from the bubbles, whether the omens 
were propitious or not. After some delay, I was informed that everything 
was satisfactory. The whole party then sat 
down to eat, feeding on rice and other things 
from plates, basins, and leaves, the out-siders 
had all packets of rice wrapped in leaves 
given them. The dancing now commenced 
to the music of gongs, chanangs, tom-toms, 
etc., etc. Some of the dances were performed 
with the bamboo frame under the Sarong, 
others without. The dancing itself was simi- 
lar to what I had seen elsewhere, except that 
there was no loud yell at the commencement, 
but each performer before he began took my 
hand between both of his in the manner I 
have already described. This was repeated 
many times during the term of his per- 
formance, and this ceremony was again re- 
peated by the head men with their wives and 
children when I left the house for the night." 
(Ch. vii. p. 75.) 

3. At Mungo Babi. 

" I attended a feast given in honour of 
my visit, at the Panglima's house. The pro- 
ceedings were opened by the Pangiima offering 
up a prayer for good luck for me, the country, 
and the people in general ; food was then 
placed aside for Dewata. While the gongs 
were beaten at the most furious rate, presents 
of rice and eggs were brought and placed 
before me, my seat on the floor being on 
fine mats, while the walls behind me were covered with handsome sarongs 
and cloths, amongst the latter were blended pieces of kain bertabur 
(silk or satin cloth with threads of gold running through it forming 
the pattern). The Dyaks now began to eat and drink, some arrack I had 
previously given them had been mixed with water in an earthenware jar, and 
this mixture was served out in small cups, having been ladled out of the jar in 
a spoon called a gJ»«g made from the seed of the fruit of the bilian tree, the 
handle, which was made of wood, being prettily carved, with its end 
ornamented with feathers. Some three or four times during the entertain- 

S.E. Borneo. ^ nal. i 
(Leiden Mus.) 

Feiists, l-'cslh'itls, and Dancinf(. 247 

nient the men (^ave a loud shout of approval, and thus also concluded it, 
when dancing was commenced by a young man in a verj' handsomely 
embroidered jacket, with a solid silver belt fastening his sarong, which was 
worn over a small bamboo frame or crinoline, while a hornbill's head and tail 
graced his head and bells dangled round his ancles. This dandy was followed 
by another Dyak who wore a large Chinese gold buckle on his silver waist 
belt. The dancing was similar to that already described as customary among 
the Land Dyaks. After a time the women and 
girls joined the dance, but, figuring by them- 
selves apart, these threw handsome gold em- 
broidered cloths over their shoulders, spreading 
the ends wide out with their arms, and in this 
manner with an iip and down movement, toes 
turning in and out, they moved slowly towards 
the verandah. One of the little girls wore a 
massive Chinese gold buckle to her waist-belt, 
with circular ear-rings of the same metal and 
three rings of the Kima shell on each arm. 
Here as at Tringtis I saw women wearing as 
many as four of these bracelets on their arms. I 
stayed at these festivities till past midnight, 
when I retired, but not before the women had 
made an offer to sing songs in my honour 

(berpantum), if I would stay, but having a long dusun Mask 1 nat siae 

march before me on the morrow I was obhged (Leiden mus.) 

to refuse." (Ch. vlii, p. 85.) 

Mr. Wallace (i, no) did not think much of the dances: "These were, 
like most savage performances, very dull and ungraceful affairs ; the men 
dressing themselves absurdly like women, and the girls making themselves as 
stiff and ridiculous as possible. All the time six or eight large Chinese gongs 
were being beaten by the vigorous arms of as many young men, producing 
such a deafening discord that I was glad to escape to the round house, where 
I slept verj' comfortably with half a dozen smoke-dried human skulls 
suspended over my head." 

" The dance is, for the most part, a slow twisting of limbs and trunk, and 
when two or three well dressed parties take the floor at once, there is a rude 
gracefulness in the evolutions." (Jour. Ind. Arch. ii. p. 53.) 

" Dusun dancing consists of a series of graceful movements and postures." 
(De Crespigny, Zeit. N.F. 336.) 

Bras Pilut — A Dyak Feast. 
" I will confine myself chiefly to a description of one held at Simpok. 
The eating and drinking part consisted of Bras Pilut, a pecuhar kind of rice 
boiled in pieces of young bamboo, preserved durian (with a horrible stench), 
boiled pork, and fresh fruit, such as plantains, etc. The drink was a small 
allowance of arrack to each, made from the ' nau ' palm, to which Mr. Grant 
added a bottle or two of Chinese arrack. This done, the gongs struck up, not 

248 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N, Borneo. 

unmusically, but somewhat monotonously, and the Orang Kaya and Tuahs 

took Mr. Grant by the hand and led him to a door opening on the platform, 

where they persuaded him to throw pinches of boiled rice, stained yellow, 

into the air at intervals ; during the process the Orang Kaya muttered a 

longish kind of prayer, in which I heard the name Tuppa distinctly mentioned 

several times. We were then regularly beset by men and women, each anxious 

to tie on our wrists a small haukbell, asking us at the same time to wish them 

good luck, which they informed us consisted in desiring for them that their 

farms and gardens very productive, that their dogs might be bold in 

the chase, that the jungle might produce abundance of pigs and deer, that the | 

rivers and the sea might contain plenty of fish, that their traps might be 

successful, and that they might have large numbers of male children. This 

done, many took our hands in theirs, and apparently tried to squeeze out the 

essence, which they rubbed over their bodies, and others again brought their 

little children for us to touch them. After this, dancing began, the Orang 

Kaya being the first performer. He was soon followed by another chief man 

and took up portions of food set aside for Dewata (which had been placed in 

the middle of the room and covered with a white cloth), and placing these on 

small trays, into which they struck pieces of wood dipped in * damar ' as 

candles, they worked themselves slowly up and down the room on their toes 

and heels, bearing the trays before them, their bodies being inclined as if in 

the act of making an offering. When they had finished, numbers of the men 

started up, all dressed in Malay fashion, and after running up to us saluting 

and shaking our hands in theirs, they commenced the dance by each giving 

utterance to a fearful shriek. The dance is not a 'dance' in our acceptation 

of the term ; it consists solely in slowly working up and down on the heels 

and toes, in posturing with the body, and gesturing with the hands and fingers. 

The effect is not unpleasant, and a good deal of skill and suppleness of joint 

are exhibited. When the men had concluded, about twenty women stood up, 

and they were soon joined by a large number of girls. They danced in 

columns : here the women used no bodily contortions and manual * extension 

movements ' ; their performance consisted in moving slowly up and down the 

room, their bodies rising and falling on the knee-joints, as if they were trying 

to imitate the movements of jockeys when riding hard at a race. It was a 

spectacle never to be forgotten, to see them figuring away in the half-darkness, 

shrieking the while most demoniacally, and aiding the music of the drums and 

gongs by the tinkling hawk-bells, a hundred or two of which were attached to 

the short petticoat of each. Many of the younger women had pleasing faces, 

and when decked out in their high cylindrical bead hats, and abundance of I 

brass armlets and Meglets,' with bead necklaces innumerable, they were ' 

doubtless very * killing ' in the eyes of young Sarawak. Many of the petticoats 

were prettily ornamented, and some were adorned with strings of small silver 

coins. After a late dinner, I again entered the ball-room. It was indeed a 

medley scene. The darkness was just made visible by the glare of a few fires 

and * damar* lamps; there were women swinging on a long board suspended 

from the rafters at one extremity of the room ; men, women, and children 

dancing and shrieking, bells jingling, gongs and drums crashing, an occasional 

Feasts, Festivals, and Dancing. 249 

Dyak yell from the young men, which, once heard, is never forgotten ; and, 
above all, a chorus of children singing round a fire some plaintive song, not at 
all unlike the very quaintest old Gregorian. About 10 p.m., I retired to my 
mats in the panggah and tried to sleep in spite of the noise, and had nearly 
succeeded, when I was aroused by a fearful shrieking on the platform connecting 
the panggah and the long house. I rushed out and found a number of the 
youths slaughtering another pig by torchlight, being evidently determined to 
make a night of it. During our stay, this whole village seemed frantic with 
joy : flags waving, gongs crashing, etc. It was the first time they had ever 
been visited by Europeans, and I shall never forget the wail of horror and 
astonishment which issued from the young children and babies at seeing for 
the first time in their lives what were once white faces,'* (Chalmers, O.P. 
p. 63.) 

Referring to the dancing at these festivals, Mr. Grant says : ** One of the 
toys [given to the Dyaks] was a dancing jemmy, with a string to pull its arms 
and legs. They were much amused at this, so I presented it to a grandchild 
of the chief. ' Adoh ! he dances with his legs ! ' said they : for be it known 
the Dyaks dance principally with their arms; not, like a clown, heels up, but 
with a greater motion of the latter than of the former. . . . The Si-Tang 
women perform differently from those of Simpok ; they dance more like the 
men, the motion of the arms being similar. ... I remarked here that 
the principal dancers seemed to be the old ladies, whose beauty (if they ever 
possessed any) had long since faded, and the young women's modesty kept 
them aloof from such frivolous amusements as the light fantastic toe. . . . 
Sometimes the Dyaks get excited, and the performance becomes of a more 
warlike character. I have seen, as the gongs were beaten in quicker time, 
the young fellows jumping about, waving their arms, and then suddenly 
crouching and stealing towards some imaginary enemy, then they would 
pretend to draw the sharp-pointed ranjows from the ground, and, advancing 
again, go through the motion of cutting off an enemy's head ; at other times 
in the dance they would put themselves on the defensive. During all the 
time, the expression of their countenances seldom alters — they look as if they 
were thoroughly in earnest." (Grant, pp. 5, 11, 13 & 90.) 

A similar account is given by Mr. Marryat : " The men [? Sibuyausj 
stood up first, in war costume, brandishing their spears and shields, and 
throwing themselves into the most extraordinary attitudes, as they cut with 
their knives at some imaginary enemy ; at the same time uttering the most 
unearthly yells, in which the Dyak spectators joined, apparently highly 
delighted with the exhibition. The women then came forward, and went 
through a very unmeaning kind of dance, keeping time with their hands and 
feet ; but still it was rather a relief after the noise and yelling from which we 
had just suffered." (p. 13.) 

" On the 2nd instant (Dec, 187 1), an exhibition of Dyak dancing took 
place at the Fort. The performers were Dyak fortmen, fifteen in number ; the 
selection was left entirely to themselves. A select company, invited by the 
Commandant, were present at the performance. First came a solemn dance 
by two men in native costume, that is to say with a long chawat or waistcloth 

250 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo. 

wrapped around them and hanging down to their feet and a tight jacket, who 
gyrated round at opposite corners of a square formed by laying down four long 
planks on the ground, in a shuffling step, keeping time to a monotonous beating 
of gongs ; this was succeeded by a spirited combat with drawn parangs and 
shields. Whenever they thought they were coming to too close quarters, both 
combatants rapidly retreated. It was grotesque enough when matters came 
to such a pass that the dancers, crouched or lying on the ground, took furtive, 
stabs at each other round the edges of their shields. The most characteristic 
of all the Dyak dances followed. The story is always very much the same. 
One warrior is engaged in picking a thorn out of his foot, but is ever on the 
alert for the lurking enemy with his arms ready at hand. This enemy is 
at length suddenly discovered, and after some rapid attack and defence, a 
sudden plunge is made at him and he is dead upon the ground. The taking 
of his head follows in pantomime. The last agonies of the dying man were 
too painful and probably too truthfully depicted to be altogether a pleasant 
sight. The story then concludes with the startling discovery that the slain 
man is not an enemy at all but the brother of the warrior who has slain him. 
At this point the dance gives way to what was perhaps the least pleasing part 
of the performance — a man in a fit, writhing in frightful convulsions, being 
charmed into life and sanity by a necromantic physician. A few more dances 
on the advance and retreat principle concluded the entertainment." (S. G. 
No. 31. Locality not given.) 

*' On the occasion of the institution of two Seribas Orang Kayas, the first 
dance consisted of the old chiefs, some twenty in number, going to and fro 
with a long drawn step and pointed toe, and with their hands swaying high 
and low and body bent ; there were occasional yells from them ; they all 
looked very serious and kept exact step to the music. After half-an-hour of 
this monotonous scene the young men came on and danced many different 
styles of war dances, some being accompanied by mimic acting, in trying to 
cook under the difficulties and danger of surprises. Great activity was 
displayed with their little forms, now crouched defensively quite under the 
shelter of a small shield, to be again, apparently without any exertion, standing 
upright in position of attack, advancing, retreating, on one leg, then on two, 
then on what seemed four, and so on. After a considerable time devoted to 
the young men, some women advanced and, with the utterance of a drawn 
and very melancholy mourning sound, they kept slow and solemn step to the 
sound of a tom-tom till they had exhibited sufficiently, when they sat down 
near Mrs. Scobell and Miss Fenwick, who talked with them in the native 
language. Various scenes followed : there were parties going round the posts, 
striking sticks on the floor to time, and chanting a rather pleasant tune ; they 
half turn round occasionally and seemed to address each other, then went 
round again, all the time chanting. Another lot of old men, with a chorus, as 
in Faust, went up and down the whole length of the fort, keeping step, yelling, 
singing, stamping, some having adopted more comic costumes as the evening 
advanced." (S. G., No. 201, p. 75.) 

Sir James Brooke writes at Sarawak : *' When I seat myself on the mat, 
one by one they come forward, and tie little bells on my arm ; a young 


Feasts, Festivals, and Dancing. 251 

cocoanut is brought, into which I am requested to spit. The white fowl is 
presented. I rise and wave it, and say, " May good luck attend the Dyaks ; may 
their crops be plentiful ; may their fruits ripen in due season ; ma}' male children 
be born ; may rice be stored in their houses ; may wild hogs be killed in the 
jungle ; may they have Sijok Dingin or cold weather." This exhortation over, 
the dance begins ; men and women advance, take my hand, stroke their own 
faces, utter a wild indescribable shriek, and begin a slow and monotonous 
twisting wriggling movement, with arms extended, the measure being 
occasionally somewhat faster when the old ladies feel inclined to indulge in a 
jump. When this occurs the music gradually becomes more furious and the 
dance proportionately animated ; then may be seen a shy boy or girl stealthily 
mixing in the crowd, and perhaps some proud mamma will bring her little 
child of six or seven, and put her into the circle, and the tiny creature will 
move her tiny hands in unison to the music. At Rapang, on my late 
excursion, the wife of the Orang Kaya, who was very pretty, and danced 
exceedingly well, insisted upon exhibiting herself before Bethune and myself, 
and by this little piece of vanity greatly disturbed the economy of the dance. 
This being observed and complained of by the other performers, the Head Man 
(at once the chief and the master of the ceremonies) said in a loud tone, 
addressing her by name: — * Why don't you dance fair? There you are 
dancing before the Great Man, and the Great Man can see no one but you." 
(Mundy ii. 42.) 

A Sakarang feast is thus described by Sir Chas. Brooke :— ** On entering 
the house some of the elders came and dragged me to a nice clean mat placed 
in the midst of many hundreds, who were all dressed in their best, with fine 
cloths hanging in festoons over our heads. Ten men were howling and 
turning round and round in a circle, with big sticks, which they struck to the 
ground, keeping time to their steps and the music. There were viands in 
large dishes placed before groups — rice, fowls, eggs ; bananas, all of a dingy 
hue, and exceedingly disagreeable to the eye, were on small plates, and many 
had evidently already partaken largely of them. The masters of the ceremony 
were busy marching about assisting everybody to the refreshments, and one 
brought a basin of what looked like gruel to me, and dipped me out a little in 
a small cup. He said it was his very best brew, and as it did not look so 
nasty I was persuaded to sip it. The taste was not disagreeable, being more 
like spruce beer than any other mixture. Some eatables and drinkables were 
carefully assorted and placed on the top of the house to feed the spirits. The 
women were in full dress, consisting of a petticoat and brass rings strung on 
rattans, then fastened round the body, reaching from below the waist up to 
the breast. There must have been many hundreds of these trumpery brass 
ornaments attached to each female, besides which most had fine shawls of 
different patterns arranged Scotch plaid fashion. Flowers were in their hair 
and shell bracelets on their arms, but beauty was scarce, and I have seldom 
seen less even among the Dyaks. The men, after a time, were stupidly 
drunk, or disgustingly stuffed, and the scene became a chaotic confusion of 
human beings, reeling about in a state of beastly insensibility. But however 
that may have been, it is a custom, and is strictly a thanksgiving to their 

252 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

omniscient being after having received a bountiful harvest. The winding up 
by all parties, except the women, consisted in getting dead drunk." (ii. 72.) 

The after effects of a feast are thus pourtrayed by Mr. de Windt : — 
** Cautiously clambering up the entrance pole, half the notches in which had 
rotted away and left but a precarious foothold, we entered the house, the 
flooring of which stood nearly 30 feet above ground, and within which a sorry 
spectacle presented itself. Heaps of food, in the shape of rice, pork, etc., lay 
strewn about the floor, on which also reposed (undisturbed even by the loud 
barking which the dogs set up on our arrival) the male members of the tribe, 
some seventy in number. The overpowering stench arising from stale arrack, 
etc., was well nigh sickening, while, to complete the unsavoury coup d'ceil^ a 
bunch of human heads, their mouths stuffed with rice, grinned at us from the 
end posts of the ruai, whence their owners had not yet sufficiently recovered 
from their orgies to remove them." (p. 84.) 

** Dancing is too universal a custom of the Dusuns and Sundyaks not to 
be mentioned ; they will always on the slightest inducement get up a * main 
booloogsi ' as it is called, while in times of abundant harvests, dancing is 
going on all night long, night after night, in every village or cluster of houses. 
The dance is a very primitive one ; a large ring is formed of men and women 
holding each others' hands, the men together and the women together, and 
they circle round and round with a sort of slow sliding step, singing or 
chanting in a somewhat weird monotonous way as they do so. The Bajaus 
have the ' main booloogsi * also, in their case the women form an inner ring, 
and the men an outer one, round a pole, and circle round it in opposite 
directions ; and whereas the Dusun dance goes on slowly all night long till 
daybreak, the Bajaus get excited and sing and dance faster and faster, 
bounding round the pole till at last they are all exhausted." (Pryer J.A.I, 
xvi. 234.) 

Another account is given by Mr. Whitehead : ** Most of the men were 
clean, healthy-looking fellows, with smooth, good-tempered faces, and some 
were decidedly good-looking ; they were dressed in short loose trousers and 
jackets of dark blue cloth, their head-covering being a red or blue handker- 
chief twisted turban fashion ; the unmarried men having long hair. The 
women also wear knickerbockers and a sort of Eton jacket, and round their 
waists are wound innumerable coils of blackened rattan-cane, strung with 
metal rings and small brightly-polished cylinders of steel. Their coiffure is 
simple, being a knob of hair on the top of the head, stuck through with a 
long pin either of brass or bone ; some had many bracelets of brass wire on 
their arms. Their best holiday hats are most curious, being like the roof of 
a small Chinese pagoda, beautifully plaited with coloured straws of red, yellow 
and black ; at the extreme point of the pagoda is a tuft of feathers. I think 
if I had to award the apple of Paris to the beauties of Borneo, the Patatan 
ladies would stand the best chance of receiving it. Now that I have described 
our company, I will proceed with the entertainment. This feast had already 
— when we arrived — been going on for about forty-six hours, and would 
probably continue another eighteen, making a three days* ball. The great 
enjoyment after drinking seems to be dancing on these occasions. The 

Feasts, Festivals, and Dancing. 253 

dancers consist of three persons — two women, one at each end of the long 
house, and a man, who seems to do much as he likes. The women have little 
to do, merely posturing, holding out their arms at full length and slowly 
turning their hands up and down ; their feet are slowly moved without 
changing their place on the floor during the whole dance. The man, however, 
careers up and down the house with a huge grass appendage tied to his back 
with bits of jingling metal and horn fastened to it ; with bounds, accompanied 
by fiendish yells like a roaring maniac, he remains dancing a sort of break- 
down before one of his partners for a few moments, then with a bound he is 
off to the other end of the house ; as this is considered really hard work, 
there are numerous intervals during the performance, which are occupied in 
administering potations to the supposed exhausted male performer. The 
music consists of gongs beaten in unison, and the beating of the native 
tom-tom." (p. 26.) 

A Kadyan dance is thus described by Mr. Burbidge (p. 50) : " One or 
two of the girls and boys danced a little, a mat being spread for the purpose ; 
but their dancing is merely shuffling about in a more or less slow and stately 
manner, a singular effect being produced by the graceful way in which the 
arms are waved about in all directions. This was particularly noticeable in 
the case of one of the performers, who waved a handkerchief about during 
the dance, changing it from one hand to the other, until eventually it vanished 
from sight altogether ; still the arms waved^ and the fingers, in their ever slow 
changing movement, resembled tentaculae groping for their, prey as they were 
slowly waved through the air in every possible direction, presumably in quest 
of the lost article, the ultimate recovery of which terminated the dance. The 
only light in the apartment was the lurid flickering of a dammar torch, and 
its reflections on the faces and slightly-draped forms of the performers and 
lookers-on produced a weird effect, which was intensified by the silence of all 

On the occasion of the first visit in 1845 of a white man to the Sebongoh 
Dyaks they gave a feast which is thus described by Sir Hugh Low (p. 255) : 
** The Orang Kaya held in his left hand a small saucer filled with rice, which 
had been made yellow by a mixture with Kunyit, or Turmeric, and other 
herbs. He then uttered a prayer in Malay, which he had previously requested 
me to repeat after him. It was addressed to Tuppa, the sun and moon, and 
the Rajah of Sarawak, to request that the next Padi harvest might be 
abundant, that their families might be increased with male children, and that 
their pigs and fowls might be very prolific : it was, in fact, a prayer for general 
prosperity to the country and tribe. During its continuance, we threw towards 
heaven small portions of the rice from the saucer at frequent intervals, and at 
the commencement of every fresh paragraph of the supplicatory address. After 
this had been finished, the chief repeated the prayer in the Dyak language by 
himself, throwing the rice towards the sky as before ; which, when he had 
finished, we returned together into the verandah, and the Orang Kaya tied a 
little hawk-bell round my wrist, requesting me at the same time to tie another, 
with which he furnished me for the purpose, round the same joint of his right 
hand. After this, the noisy gongs and tom-toms began to play, being suspended 

254 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

from the rafters at one end of the verandah, and the chief tied another of the 
little bells round my wrist : his example was this time followed by all the old 
men present, each addressing a few words to me, or rather mumbling them to 
themselves, of which I did not understand the purport. 

" Every person who now came in brought with him several bamboos of 
cooked rice ; and each, as he arrived, added one to the number of my bells, 
so that they had now become inconveniently numerous, and I requested, as a 
favour, that the remainder might be tied upon my left wrist, if it made no 
difference to the ceremony. Those who followed, accordingly, did as I had 
begged of them in this particular. Soon after, a spotted fowl was brought in, 
having its legs tied together : it was held out to an old man, who also tied its 
wings, and the person who had brought it then made it fast to one of the posts 
of the door. Immediately after, a white one was brought, which was secured 
in the same manner. In half-an-hour the spotted one was again produced, 
and, its legs being loosened, it was given into the hands of the Orang Kaya, 
who, swinging it backwards and forwards over the heads of the seated people, 
repeated the same invocation as that previously used by the chief and myself 
outside. Having finished, the white one was given to me, and, walking up 
and down the place, I went through the same ceremony. After this, the white 
one was presented for my acceptance, and another was given to my servant 
and people. The spotted one was then held by the Orang Kaya over the 
saucer containing the remainder of the rice we had not used outside ; another 
man cut off its head with a sharp piece of bamboo ; and the bloody rice was 
then carried out by the chief and myself, who went through the praying 
ceremony again. This finished, the gongs and tomtoms again began to play, 
the boys being the performers. The pig, which forms the principal part of 
the festival, was then killed with a spear, and being first partially roasted over 
a fire, was cut up into small pieces, put into green bamboos, and boiled on the 
spot ; all the persons present assisting at this, to them, pleasing labour. After 
it was put upon the fires the people all dispersed for about an hour: when 
they returned, everything was ready to be eaten. 

" I was now getting very tired of their proceedings, and should have been 
glad to get away ; but retreat, without giving offence, was impossible. Every- 
thing being ready, and the feast served to the seated people, the fish, fowls, 
and pig, of which it consisted, were soon made to- disappear, together with a 
very large quantity of rice. They drank the palm toddy, and finished what 
wine I had with me. By the time this was accomplished it had become quite 
dark, so that I requested to be allowed to eat my own dinner, not having the 
slightest wish to taste the many things which the Dyaks had placed before me, 
and which they doubtlessly considered the most delicate parts of the enter- 
tainment. Having finished my meal, and lighted my cigar, the dancing was 
commenced by the old men of the tribe, who were tottering under all the fine 
clothes the village could produce. This uninteresting performance consisted 
in placing and sustaining their bodies in the most contorted positions, and 
moving up and down the verandah with the slow and shuffling step and shrill 
scream of the Sea Dyak dances, which, excepting in the exhibition of heads, 
this performance much resembled. The actors were occasionally cheered by 

Fcasta, Festivals, and Dancing. 255 

the spectators, on having performed dexterously some more difficult and 
inelegant contortion than ordinary ; but as I did not sufficiently appreciate its 

i I 



beauties, 1 was unable to echo them. My Malays, however, who were living 
at the expense of the Dyaks, were liberal in their commendations. No 


256 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N, Borneo. 

drunkenness, or other indecent behaviour, were exhibited at this festival. 
. . . . When Mr. Brooke visits their residences, instead of supplicating 
him, they each bring a portion of the Padi-seed they intend to sow next 
season, and with the necklaces of the women, which are given to him for that 
purpose, and which, having been dipped into a mixture previously prepared, 
are by him shaken over the little basins which contain the seed, by which 
process he is supposed to render them very productive. Other tribes, whom 
from their distance he cannot visit, send down to him for a small piece of white 
cloth, and a little gold or silver, which they bury in the earth of their farms,' 
to attain the same result. On his entering a village, the women also wash 
and bathe his feet, first with water, and then with the milk of a young cocoa- 
nut, and afterwards with water again : all this water, which has touched his 
person, is preserved for the purpose of being distributed on their farn:is, being 
supposed to render an abundant harvest certain." 

**The principal festival among the Sea Dyaks is the 'Gawei Burong,* also 
called * Gawei Pala,' from the head which is feasted. It is given after harvest, 
but not every year. When a house gets a good yield of paddy, and is so 
inclined, the feast is organised, and to that house the neighbouring population 
is invited. 

** The preparations extend over a length of time, and cost considerable 
labour and trouble. Some of the arrangements are carried on with certain 
rites and formalities, and the impression is conveyed that something verj' 
important is about to take place. The chief religious interest of the feast 
centres in what is called the Tenyalang. This is a figure of the rhinoceros 
hornbill, which has been previously carved in wood. At the feast it is timangedy 
that is, sung to in a monotonous matter; the action being regarded, I 
presume, as a kind of consecration of it. At length the Tenyalang is set on a 
high pole, which is then fixed into the ground in front of the house. A portion 
of all Dyak delicacies is hung up beneath it for its food ; after this, the climax 
of the feast is reached, and it becomes a ' Gawei ' in earnest. Drinking, 
which has gone on before to some extent, is now indulged in to the greatest 
excess. It seems, in fact, to be thought a sin to be sober, and a virtue to be 
drunk ; and if the whole assembly of men are not prostrate, or raving with 
intoxication, it is, owing to the iron constitution of a few, who are able to 
drink an enormous quantit}' of * tuack ' and yet retain their senses and their 
equilibrium. At the feast, divination is practised by examining the hearts of 
pigs, from certain peculiarities of which they augur either good or bad for the 
owner. There appears to be no very definite theory among the natives as to 
the religious meaning of the feast. It is the custom of their forefathers. 
Sometimes it is said to be the worship of Betara, the nearest approach to the 
idea of God in the Sea Dyak language ; sometimes it is 'giving Bitara to eat,' 
he being supposed to eat the essence of the food offered ; again, it is a head 
feast and celebration of victory; and I have heard it claimed to be the worship 
of Allah Taala, but this, of course, is an idea imported from Christianity; but 
more frequently it is * nyumbah ' (worshipping) Singalong Burong. 

** * Singalong Burong ' is the white and brown hawk so frequently seen in 
this country ; mythologically he is a great antu (spirit), the presiding power of 

Feasts, Festivah, and Dancing:. 257 

war and inspirer of bravery, from whom Dyaks are very fond of tracing their 
descent. Why the Tenyalang should represent the Rhinoceros Hornbill, and 
not the hawk, is an apparent inconsistency of which I have never been able to 
learn any explanation. It is, perhaps, too much to say that this is an idola- 
trous feast, for there is no proper worship of anything in it ; the nearest 
approach to religious worship is the offering of food, and this is done without 
anything of religious reverence, as a mere observance of an ancient custom. 
It is a bare recognition of the higher powers, whatever they may be. 

" Nor are the guests required to share in any religious worship. They 
witness the head feasting, but this is but a celebration of victory, and, though 
most unchristian and disgusting to European feeling, involves no religious 

"The social character of the feast is of more practical importance than .the 
religious, and feasting the guests occupies more attention than feeding the 

Wooden Mask. 

From Lonjfwei. LenRth, aft, 

(British Mus.) 

gods. In some places, at least among the Sea Dyaks, the term Gawei is also 
used of simply eating together, equivalent to the English ' dinner-party,' 
which they would call a ' Gawei. In Malay and Land Dyak, too, ' Gawei' is 
' festival,' whether religious or not. In these feasts the obligations of 
friendship are acknowledged, and hospitality carried out even to prodigality. 
Here an opportunity is afforded for the celebration of social mirth and joy, 
which must be expressed with some such circumstances whether in a 
gathering of Europeans or in a feast of savages. To refuse to attend would 
not be regarded as any indignity done to their religion, but as a sign of ill-will 
to the inmates of the house. It is a social gathering of the tribe, when the 
dignity, the wealth, and position of the chiefs are brought prominently before 
the many ; and everyone displays his finery and his importance according to 
his ability. 

" Here, too, topics of common interest are discussed and plans formed, so 
that the feast assumes something of the character of a council, and affords 
one of the best opportunities for indulging in their intense love of bechara.' 
Sociability, friendship, love of pleasure, religious instinct, and traditional 
custom, are all here united " (Perham Miss. Life 1871, p. 502.) 

KiNYAH Tungang, or Dragon. Used at Festivals. 

(Brooke Low Coll.) 

258 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo. 

The following are two descriptions of feasts to raise an ulit : 
*• Near us was a sort of small tent, in which were the bones of two 
celebrated D3aks, placed there for the occasion. A plate of cakes, rice, eggs, 
and plantains was put with them. Instead of the manang and cock, a man 
danced round the pillars with the ' pennegalon ' in his hand, every now and 
then uttering a peculiar cry ; he had a drummer as usual. The pennegalon 
is a rudely carved and painted representation of a bird, with a remarkably 
long neck. One is placed on the top of each * tras,' or pole." (Mrs. 
Chambers Gosp. Miss, ist May, 1858, p. 69.) 

** I then went down at Ban- 
ting to Janting's ' Bergawei 
Antoo.' At the door of ever^' 
room in which a death has 
occurred since the last Berga- 
wei Antoo, hung small baskets, 
representing different articles 
in use among the Dyaks, a 
shield, a gun, a head-dress for 
the men, a sieve, etc., for the 
women, prettily woven in colours, and filled with sweet cakes, eggs, and plan- 
tains. These are placed on the graves next morning. Just after I arrived, the 
usual concomitants of a Dyak feast were carried on trays to one end of the house, 
at which all the surviving female relatives of departed inmates were assembled. 
Part was eaten by them, part reserved for the Antoos. An old woman then 
waved a fowl over the head of each mourner, after which each bit a piece of 
iron and drank a mouthful of arrack to strengthen her against the Antoos. 
The rotan worn around the waist was then cut in two, and new pieces of rotan, 
and petticoats selected by the old worhan for each person from a heap in the 
centre, which she put on. A foot of each was then smeared with the blood 
of the fowl to show that the *oulat,' or taboo, was removed. Persons who 
have lost near relatives are supposed to wear very shabby clothes, and 
according to Dyak custom, cannot change them until the head of an enem^- 
has been obtained. The recent importation of Sarebas heads has removed 
the * oulat ' very speedily, and almost every house has * Bergawei Antoo.' In 
the evening the men performed the same kind of ceremony as the women, 
only they get very drunk. Wailing goes on during the day. At night dances 
are performed, and the people make merry." (Mrs. Chambers Gosp. Miss. 
1st June, 1859, p. 84 ) 

[For Special Harvest Feasts and Ceremonies, see Agriculture.] 

Clapper or Striker, Used at New Year's Feast. Upper Kapiias. 

Prof, Molengraaff Coll, J nat. size. 
(Leiden Mus,) 



BoRicH : I^and Dyak priestess — Heredity — Theory of sickness — Pinya — Sfsab — Nyihaiyan — 
Boriches at work — Doctrine of sickness — Recovery of the semungi — Daylight visions — Claim 
against spells— Ha»/« trees. Manangs: Description — Heredity — Initiation — Sickness means 
demoniacal possession — Exorcism — Effigies to deceive the antu — Charms — Swinging cure — Altars — 
Seven souls — Offerings — Lupong and Pengorah rumwah — Bungea jaker — Manang bali — His import- 
ance — How initiated. Manangism (by the Ven. Archdeacon Perham) : Mysterious powers — 
Treatment — Pansa utei — Epileptic fits — Fear of cholera and smallpox — His lupong — Impudent 
frauds — Bata Ilau (stone of light)— Pa^^r Apt (fence of fire) — The incantation — Vicarious 
sacrifice — " Sweeping " — " Swinging " — " Making a rush " — " Planting a Pentik " — " Making a 
Pencha" — "Taking a long sight" — "Making a Bayak" — "Journey to Hades" — "A post for the 
Manes" — "Killing the demon" — "Adjutant bird" — "Displaying fire" — Swings — "Wrapping 
with floor laths" — Initiation— B^5t/(ft — Bekliti — Manang bangun — Women manangs — Comparison 
with Shamanism — The manang a doctor, not a priest. Malanau Medicine : Great variety — 
Berasit and Embayu — Stag — Abong and Elib boat — The Brayune — A master medicine-man — A 
frenzied doctress. General Medicine Beliefs : Antu tree — Seized by spirits- Turned into 
orang-outan — "Internal satisfaction" — A poisonous leaf — Laying hurricane spirits — Curious 
medicine — Hair to be buried — Questions as to health — Change of names. 

BoRiCH — Land Dyak Medicine Women. 

** In most Land Dyak tribes, there are five or six priests, and in some 
districts half the female population are included under the denomination of 
priestesses. In Western Sarawak they are not so numerous. The power of 
these women consists chiefly in their chanting, which is supposed to be most 
effectual in driving away spirits. Strange to say, some of the sentences they 
chant are not in their own language, but in Malay. These women are not 
necessarily impostors * ; they but practise the ways and recite the songs 
which they received from their predecessors, and the dignity and importance 
of the office enable them to enjoy some intervals of pleasurable excitement 
during their laborious lives. Their dress is very gay ; over their heads they 
throw a red cloth, on the top of which they place a cylindrical cap, worked in 
red, white, and black beads, and their short petticoats are fringed with 
hundreds of small, tinkling hawk-bells. Around their neck is hung a heavy 
bead necklace, consisting of five or six rows of black, red, and white opaque 
beads strongly bound together. In addition, they hang over their shoulders, 
belt-fashion, a string of teeth, large hawk-bells and opaque beads." (St. 
John i. 199.) 

" The Land Dyak College of Physicians consists of two classes — the daya 
berurt, who are men, and whose aid is chiefly sought in sickness ; and the 

^ Mr. Chalmers qonsidered them wilful impostors. (O. P. p. 2.) 

26o H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo. 

barich, who are women, and their art consists chiefly in doctoring the paddy 
by means of their dull monotonous chants and songs. The doctorship of the 
men is frequently hereditary in families — the setagi, or circlet of large opaque 
white and black beads, on which is strung a few small fragments of gold, and 
the somun, a number of teeth of beasts, large and small hawk-bells, and beads, 
all strung together, which form the * charm ' by which the healing wonders 
are performed, descending from father to son, as no doubt the most profitable 
and productive articles of the ancestral heritage. Most of the females of a 
village are, when quite children, enrolled among the weird sisterhood of the 
barich as the mere fact of their enrolment is supposed to be sufficient to guard 
them from serious illness ; but few of them ever attain skill and accuracy 
enough in the necessary formulae to entitle them to enter upon the practice of 
their profession. 

" The Dyak theory of sickness is — either that it is caused by the presence 
of evil spirits in the patient's body, or that he has been struck by one of them, 
or that one of them has been and enticed his soul out of his body. To expel 
Hantu from the human body, and to be able to see a vagrant soul, and then 
rescue it from the greedy clutches of the malignant spirits — in these things 
consists the perfection of the healing art. All accomplished Dyak physicians, 
therefpre, pretend that they can see spirits, that they can see the souls of both 
men and paddy — for paddy has a soul also — and that their * charm ' is so 
powerful, as to bring forth inimical Hantu from a sick man's body, just as a 
dentist extracts a troublesome tooth in civilized countries. The only real 
medical application that I have ever known Dyaks use, are pepper and chilis, 
sirih'pinang, and turmeric; in slight sicknesses the two former are sometimes 
taken internally — more commonly, a quid of sirih-pinang is chewed by a 
friend, and spit out over the part affected, or if turmeric be preferred, a little is 

macerated in cocoa-nut water, &c., and rubbed into it and over it. If the 


sickness be somewhat heavy, and the doctor in his wisdom declares that there 
are Hantu in the patient's body, he thus proceeds to extract them : first, he 
rubs a mess of fowl's blood, turmeric, spittle, &c., over the part where the pain 
is, and striking it gently two or three times with his * charm,' he then brings 
the 'charm' down to the floor with a crack, and, sure enough, there always 
roll out from it small fragments of wood, stone, cloth, &c., and these it is 
which are the Hantu whom his art has dislodged. Should the sickness still 
increase, however, or should it have appeared serious from its beginning, the 
patient's friends make choice of one of the two following modes of treatment 
— the doctoring called Pinya, or that called Sesab, 

**i. Pinya. A pig and fowl are killed, and a large quantity of rice 
boiled, from which small portions are taken, and with the addition of pinang 
(betel-nut), yams, &c., placed in a paddy-shovel outside the door of the 
family apartment in the awach, or long room, as an offering to the Hantu, 
that they may eat and be satisfied, and so depart. The family are confined 
to their room for four days. One daya beruri (who continually beats a small 
drum, and is called daya niitug), and four or five barich must be present to 
give due effect to the doctoring. On the first day, two barich pretend to fight 
wildly together with naked swords outside the door of the patient's room — 



Medicine Men and Women, 261 

varying their performance with fierce and frequent slashes, here and there, in 
empty space. This is supposed to inspire the troublesome spirits with a 
salutary terror of the barich's power. Then come singing and the monotonous 
beating of a single drum, and chanang (a small kind of gong), which lasts till 
dawn of the second day. At midnight, however, the male doctor obtains the 
soul of the sick man. First of all, he wraps a small cup tightly up in white 
cloth, and places it in the midst of the offering mentioned above, and then, 
with a torch in one hand, and tinkling his * charm ' with the other, he stalks 
mysteriously about, a la First Robber in a romantic drama of thrilling 
interest, and at length brings the exhibition to a close by requesting one of 
the admiring spectators to look into the cup which he had wrapped in white 
cloth and placed amid the Hantu offering ; he is obeyed, and, sure enough, a 
small bunch of hair is always found in the cup. This is the sick man's 
vagrant soul (semungi) — as it appears in the eyes of the uninitiated, — to a 
doctor it has the appearance of a human being on a small scale ; and the 
medicine man thereupon takes it into his hand and pokes it back into the 
sick man's body by an invisible hole in his skull — but he by no means 
guarantees that it will stop there. At noon the next day he places a small 
fowl in a portion of the exterior skin of the pinang blossom, shaped like a 
boat, covers it up with red cloth, and, accompanied by a chanang and a drum, 
he proceeds to some small stream in the jungle and lets the chicken free by 
its side. If it return to the village, the patient may die ; if not, he may 
recover. This business over, the doctoring is complete, the singing of the 
barich ceases, and the patient is left to recover, as best he may, in the hands 
of the great healer — skilled * Mother nature.' 

" 2. Sesab. To perform this doctoring, one male doctor and no barich 
are required. The taboo* of the house lasts for eight days, and a pig and a 
fowl are slaughtered. Outside the sick man's apartment a sekurung, or bamboo 
altar is erected, and upon and around it are placed the eatables intended to 
satisfy the appetite of the gluttonous Hantu,^ The lads of the village are 

' " Among the Land Dyaks the Pamali Peniakit is undertaken by a whole village during any 
sickness which prevails generally amongst the members of the tribe ; it is marked by a pig slain 
and a feast being made in order to propitiate the divinity who has sent the malady among them ; in 
its severest form it is of eight days' continuance, and during this period everything in the village is 
at a stand still, inhabitants shutting themselves up from all intercourse with strangers. This form 
of Pamali prevented my personally visiting the Br^g and Sipanjang tribes, as they were under the 
taboo when I was in their vicinity, for a kind of dysentery which was prevalent among them. 

" The Pamali Peniakit is also undertaken by individuals when any member of the family is 
sick ; thus, parents often put themselves under its regulations, fondly hoping that by denying 
themselves for a time the pleasures of intercourse with their fellow creatures, they will prevail upon 
the malignant spirit, which is supposed to have shed its withering influence over their offspring, to 
restore it to its wonted health and strength." (Low, p. 260.) 

' "Once, on visiting a Sibuyow sick-room, I was struck with an old man who stood at the 
window and prayed aloud for the recovery of the patient ; at the same time he made mention of a 
list of offerings about to be made, viz., one fowl, one jar, one plate, one cocoa-nut, &c." (Grant, p. 69.) 

*• During my stay in the house of the [? Kyan] chief, Knipa Batu. one of his children, a little 
boy, was at the point of death from fever. After exhausting all their skill in applying remedies, as a 
last resource the chief took a young chicken and passed it a number of times over the face of the 
child, then with his most valued war sword killed it at the window, and threw it upwards from him 
in the direction of the setting sun. The sword with the blood on it he then held over the face of 
the child as before, with fervent invocation, desiring that his beloved child might not die, and, 

262 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N, Borneo. 

pressed into the service of the relative of the invalid who gives the feast, 
gongs and drums are borrowed, and for two days a continual clatter is kept 
up, while at intervals the said relative attires himself in his best, and shrieks 
and dances as long as his lungs and legs and arms are content to exert 
themselves. The Dyaks really seem to consider dancing as a part of divine 
service, attributing to it some mysterious and wholesome efficacy — the * why ' 
and * wherefore ' in the matter being, as usual, thought to be quite unworthy 
of rational and sensible folks, who, like themselves, have had wise and clever 
ancestors to establish for them salutary institutions. On the first night of the 
doctoring, the patient's soul is caught as in * Pinya,' and on the second day 
his body is washed with cocoa-nut water by the doctor — a very remarkable 
custom, as, in general, the Dyaks seem to think that unwashed bodies, 
unkempt hair, and a shut-up apartment, are the best means of obtaining 
health both for themselves and others. 

** 3. There is yet a third doctoring, called Nyibaiyan, but it lasts for 
only one day, and only one fowl is killed. Two barich conduct it, and chant 
away as usual ; but no process occurs at it that is worthy of notice, and it is 
held only in cases of slight indisposition.'' (The Rev. W. Chalmers in " Mr. 
Grant's Tour.*') * 

laying himself down beside the unconscious little sufferer, indulged in the wildest paroxysm of 
grief." (R. Burns, Jour. Ind. Arch., p. 146.) 

" On the Quop river we passed, in the course of our walk to-day, a small plaited basket of 
viands swinging on a tree, containing rice, salt, and other uninviting condiments. They were 
placed there in consequence of a chief's wife being sick, and intended as an appeasal to the Anlus." 
(Brooke i. 31.) 

" Usually in the case of a person suffering from some long illness, who wishes to make an 
ofifering to the gods when the omen has proved favourable, a small animal is placed in a cleft stick 
outside the house together with a few eggs and sometimes a fowl or so, in order that the spirits may 
regale themselves thereon." (Hose, J.A.I, xxiii. 163.) 

" Several times in the forest at Pula Tega near the beach I have seen curious little models of 
houses ; in the inside were coconut-shells and little grass trays containing tobacco ; these little 
buildings have been erected by the fishermen, and contained offerings to the hantus, to ensure good 
luck in the fishing season. In the Kilias, amongst the mangrove-swamps, are many of these hantus' 
houses ; some have even models of cannons at their doors. My men would not touch anything 
belonging to them, declaring that the • hantus * would bring about ill-luck if they were to do so." 
(Whitehead, p. 80.) 

When, at Banjarmassin, one of Beeckman's officers was taken ill, the natives wished to cure 
him by making offerings. "The manner of these offerings is thus: When a person is very ill 
(especially in the condition Mr. Becher was), imagining him to be possessed, they buy the aforesaid 
provisions [fowls, rice, and fruit] ; and, having dressed them with as much care as if they were to 
make a splendid entertainment, they carry this banquet into the woods to a certain house, or shed, 
built always under the largest trees near the water side, where they leave it. As to what ceremonies 
of prayer, &c., they use on this occasion, I know not particularly, only that they invite the devil 
very kindly to it, assuring him that it is very good and well dress'd, and begging him to accept it. 
Now these woods are so full of monkeys that if never so much was left at night, they would devour 
all before morning, which these ignorant creatures believe to be eaten by the devil : and if the person 
recovers they think themselves very much obliged to him for his civility and good nature, and by 
way of thanks they send him more : but if the person dies, then they rail against him. calling him a 
cross, ill-natured devil ; that he is often a deceiver, and that he has been very ungrateful in accepting 
the present and then killing their friend. In fine, they are very angry with him. I saw one of tbese 
houses on the banks of the narrow river (where we pass'd almost daily under a vast tree, which is 
called the devil's tree)." (Be^kman, p. 119.) 

"* " No enterprise can be undertaken with any chance of success, no marriage can take place, 
no child can be born, no sick person be cured, no dead person be buried, no one can even die in 

Medicine Men and Women, 263 

Once Mr. Grant mef " an old chief, who was very ill. The manang, or 
doctor, on this occasion was really a woman. She was pretending to draw 
bits of wood and needles out of the poor man's stomach ; and as the old hag 
would feel, and at last suddenly seize hold of a bit of skin, and pretend that 
she had caught the malady (viz., a chip of wood), the prostrated chief, who 
thoroughly believed it all, observing me smiling, said, * Ah ! you don't believe 
in this ; but she is doing me a great deal of good ! ' Then, to see a party of 
these doctors feigning to draw, by hand, an evil spirit or a malady from a 
person's body is ver^' ridiculous. At times you will find a circle of them 
dancing round and round, like jumpers, and pretending to catch evil spirits. 
* I've got him ; cut him down — cut him down ! ' Dyaks, however, are fond 
enough, when they are really ill, to come to Europeans for medicines; but 
the use of these by no means weakens their belief in their practices. ' A 
different race a different custom,'* they say. A Dyak had lately to undergo a 
dangerous operation, and the doctor (Mr. Cruickshank) put him under 
chloroform. Another Dyak, who witnessed the operation, wishing to explain 
the effect of the chloroform on his friend, said * his soul left him.' " (p. 71.) 

** The doctrine of sickness held by all the Dyaks is that it is caused by 
the absence of ' principle of life,' Semangat, which has been abstracted from 
the body of the patient by an inimical antu. The Land Dyaks seem to think 
that a man has but one Semungat, or, as they call it, Semungi, and the form 
which it assumes to the eye of the vulgar is that of a bunch of human hair; 
to the initiated, however, its appearance is that of a living human body. To 
their paddy a Semungi is also assigned, and it is an object of their feast to 
doctor this living principle when the growing paddy is blighted or sick, and to 
retain it in their store-house when the harvest treasures have been gathered 
home. It will amuse you to hear how a Quop Dyak lost and regained his 

"Last August, a young married man named Si-Kisar, while going through 
the jungle, saw a squirrel seated on the large projecting roots of a lofty tree 
which overhung a stream. He threw his spear at it, and thought he had 
struck it. On running to seize his spoil, what was his horror when he saw 

peace without the presence of some bilians. On these occasions these women sing several days in 
succession, or speaking more correctly they yell at the top of their voices, accompanying themselves 
on a tambourine which they strike with their fingers ; at the same time they prophesy. All this is 
accompanied according to the object of the ceremony, by various juggleries ; thus, for example, they 
distribute unhusked rice on the ground, then they besprinkle with water severad times the object for 
which the assembly has been called together. At intervals in a low voice and with composed 
features they pronounce some mystic prayers, then from time to time they invoke with loud shouts 
the antang bird {Falco pondicerianus) or other spirits. All these ceremonies, which generally last 
several days, are accompanied by feasts and amusements, such as music, dances, discharges of 
guns, &c., &c., and there is also a considerable consumption of arak, or failing that another intoxi- 
cating liquor which is prepared by the Dyaks themselves, and is called ' daak-ka-tan ' by them." 
(S. Muller, ii. 364-5.) The word biliau, female manang, probably has some connection with the word 
pfiian used by Archdeacon Perham for the ceremony itself. — H. L. R. 

* •• Whilst visiting Ubong, who was sick. Bishop Chambers met a female manang, who assured 
him she had been to the infernal regions, and had a stone, by means of which she could tell 
everything that had happened. The manangs do not believe their own assertions, but impose on the 
people in a degree. Even Labba thought the Bishop had a glass which would tell who had taken 
some money he had lost." (Gosp. Miss, ist May, 1859, p. 68.) 

264 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N, Borneo, 

the apparently lifeless form raise up in the shape of a dog and walk a little 
distance, when it sat down on the trunk of a fallen tree in the form of a man. 
The body, hands, and legs were of many colors, and there was no head, the 
body being merely pointed at the top. This was the 'antu' of a man who had 
lost his head in war. These spirits have the power of assuming the form of 
men, beasts, etc. ; and are very spiteful. Poor Kisar ran home, and immediately 
fell sick of fever. His father, who is the great dyak berruri (male doctor) of 
Quop, directly rubbed his body with a mixture of spittle and tumu (a yellow 
root), and set off into the jungle armed with his Setaga, a large hawk-bell, the 
sounding of which is a mark of grief. With a light grasp over the vagabond 
soul, he hastened back to the village, and sure enough by the next day Si-Kisar 
had recovered. 

"Another Land Dyak idea of sickness is, that it is caused by the presence 
of antu in the body. One of my Quop Dyaks, Si-Rugi by name, was attacked 
by inflammation of the bowels ; his grandmother insisted on sending for the 
old doctor just alluded to, Pa-Kisar. A fowl was killed, and the lad's stomach, 
as he lay on the mat, was rubbed with a filthy mixture of its blood, Pa-Kusar's 
spittle, and tumu. A jurat, charm composed of pig's teeth, Setaga, magic 
stones, etc., were shaken over the part doctored, and then brought to the 
floor with a crack. The doctor removed his hand and the charm, and sure 
enough (at three separate times) there lay on the mat a flinty stone, a splinter 
of bamboo, aud a small roll of dirty rags. These were proclaimed to be antu 
which Pa-Kisar had just extracted from the lad's stomach — we, indeed, saw 
only rags." (W. Chalmers, O.P., p. 9.) 

Here is a case in point. Bishop Chambers writes: ** I found Anggi's 
wife in a high state of fever, shrieking and rolling about in agony. The only 
reply I could get to my questions as to her disorder was, *she had been struck 
by a spirit, and was in pain everywhere.' I thought she must have eaten 
something poisonous, as I could not imagine that exposure even to the worst 
malaria for so short a time would produce such results, so I sent for one of 
the women who had been with her in the jungle to discover, if possible, what 
it was. But Tibi would not have it so, — ' It is true we had been looking for 
mushrooms, but we found none : we had eaten some fruits and leaves, but 
they were wholesome. I saw the demon, he was crouching down; we fled 
and paddled with all our might, and got home in this state.' She herself was 
ill. One of the men who had been left in charge of her said that during our 
absence a hantoo or 'ghost' had come to the river's bank and pelted them, 
but the other man denied this assertion." (Miss. Field, 1867, p. 72.) 

"The underlying idea of being made ill by inimical people is exemphfied 
in the following story by Mr. Grant : " I had a good lot of Becharas to settle ; 
one was of rather a curious nature. A Dyak of the Serin tribe was cutting 
down jungle to make a new farm, but a Bukar Dyak, whose land marched 
with the former, laid a claim for the newly-cleared land, and to assert his 
claim placed a farmhouse on it. Soon after, two men, near relations of the 
Serin, died, and their deaths he (the Serin) attributed to evil agency. His 
idea was that the Bukar had invoked the devil to lay his spells on the deceased. 
The Serin Dyak now asked permission to retaliate by the same means (that, I 

Medicine Men and Women. - 265 

suppose,of erecting a shed on the Bukar Dyak's farm). I could not help laughing 
at this odd fancy, although I had heard of superstitions in a less developed 
form in more civilized lands than Borneo. At first, not quite perceiving how 
the deaths had occurred, I pointedly asked the Serin whether the Bukar had 
killed, poisoned, or committed any personal injury on the deceased, so as to 
have caused their death, and he answered, *No, he had not.'*' (p. 20.) 

Mr. Grant (p. 94) relates the following curious superstition as existing 
among some of the Land Dyaks " about a certain Hantu tree. If a man 
happens to cut this with his sword he is immediately enchanted, and the 
attraction of the tree is so great, that for hours and hours he cannot help 
moving in a circle round it, and it is only when the spell is exhausted that the 
unfortunate man can get home." 

" Walking through a jungle between the villages of Sennah and Sudoish, 
a large snake crossed our path ; and when I enquired of the Sennah Dyak, 
Pa-Benang, who was walking before me, his reason for not killing it — his 
parang having been drawn, and his arm arrested when raised to strike — he 
told me that the bamboo bush, opposite to which we were then standing, had 
been a man, and one of his relations, who, dying about ten years previously, 
had appeared in a dream to his widow, and informed her that he had become 
the bamboo tree we then saw, and the ground in its immediate neighbourhood, 
and everything on it, was sacred on this account. Pa-Benang told me, that 
in spite of the warning given to the woman in the vision, that the Dyaks 
should respect this tree, a man had once had the hardihood to cut a branch 
from it, in consequence of which he soon after died ; his death being con- 
sidered by the tribe as a punishment for his sacrilegious act. A small bamboo 
altar was erected before the bush, on which were the remnants of offerings 
which had been, but not recently, presented to the spirit of the tree." (Low, 
p. 263.) 

Manangs — Sea Dyak Medicine Men. 

" The manangs or medicine-men of the Sea Dyaks rank next in importance 
to the Tuah Rumah or village chiefs, and it is by no means an unusual thing 
for the medicine-man himself to be the chief of the village in which he resides. 
There is nothing whatever to prevent him becoming so, provided he be 
popular ; but to be popular he must be a faithful interpreter of dreams and a 
powerful exorciser of evil spirits. The entire system of the manang is based 
upon superstition and imposture supplemented with a smattering of herbalism. 
His reputation depends upon the number of cures he is able to effect ; or, in 
other words, upon the trickeries his superior cunning enables him to practise 
upon the credulity of the people. The manang is an hereditary institution ; it 
does not necessarily descend from father to son, but it is usually confined to 
the family.* 

< " Many of the priests are the blind and maimed for life, who by following this profession are 
enabled to earn a livelihood." (Sp. St. John i. 63.) 

•• I have now got a blind man living with me. I heard that the Manangs, or spirit doctors, 
wanted to get hold of him, so one day I asked him if he really was going to become a manang ? He 
replied, ' Yes, I suppose so ; but if I only had eyesight, catch me becoming a manang.' " (Cross- 
land, Miss. Life, 1874, p. 95.) 

266 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N, Borneo. 

** To ensure success in his profession his cunning must be of a high order, 
otherwise his rogueries would be detected and his services discontinued. The 
more effectually to shield him from the possible revelations of a too prying 
curiosity he envelops himself and his belongings in a cloud of mystery. As it 
would be ruinous to him were his box of charms and devilries exposed to 
public view, he announces the punishment of blindness to any human being 
venturesome enough to peep into it." (Brooke Low.) 

" When the Dayaks are questioned as to their belief in these easily- 
exposed deceits, they say no ; but the custom has descended to them from 
their ancestors, and they still pay these priests heavy sums to perform the 
ancient rites." (Sp. St. John i. 62.) 

" There are two descriptions of manangs, the regular and the irregular. 
The regular {manang nf^agi antiu) are those who have been called to that 
vocation by dreams, and to whom the spirits have revealed themselves. The 
irregular {manang ngaga diri) are self-created and without a familiar spirit. 

" The regular are male and female manang laki and manang indu, and also 
manang bali, or unsexed males, of whom more anon. When a person 
conceives a call from the spirits he bids adieu for awhile to his relatives, 
abandons his former occupation, and attaches himself to some thorough-paced 
manang, who, for a consideration, will take him in hand and instruct him 
until he is fully qualified to practice on his own account. It is not enough, 
however, for him to simply say that he feels himself called ; he must prove to 
his friends that he is able to commune with the spirits, and in proof of this he 
will occasionally abstain from food and indulge in trances from which he will 
awake with all the tokens of one possessed by a devil, foaming at the mouth 
and talking incoherently." (Brooke Low.) 

" The manang looks upon a sick person as being possessed with an evil 
spirit, and as long as this evil spirit remains in possession the patient cannot 
regain his health ; he conjures it to depart ; if it be obstinate and will not go 
he summons his own familiar spirit, and requests it to show him in what way 
the tormentor may be prevailed upon to take its departure. He acts upon its 
suggestions and propitiates it with sacrifices ; but if it still prove obstinate and 
refuse to budge, the manang admits his inability to deal with it, and some 
other wizard is called in who is believed to have at his command a more 
powerful familiar. Whether the patient live or die the manang is rewarded 
for his pains ; he makes sure of that before he undertakes the case, for he is 
put to considerable inconvenience, being fetched away from his own home and 
obliged to take up his abode with his patient ; he can therefore undertake 
only one case at a time, but to it he devotes his whole attention. He takes 
his meals with the family, and in other ways makes himself quite at home. 
If a cure be effected he receives a valuable present in addition to his ordinary 
expenses. Herbal remedies are frequently administered by him, and a diet 
enjoined. Such treatment works wonders in all simple disorders, and not 
unnaturally, but to enhance the value of the cure, spells are muttered and 
cabalistic verses recited exorcising the foul fiend that is tormenting the body. 
I have known manangs to have administered in this way European medicines 
procured from the Government dispensary, for they are wide awake and ready 

Medicine Men and Women, 267 

at all times to avail themselves of remedies of known efficacy. Every regular 
manaiig is supposed to be attended by a familiar spirit who is good and powerful ; 
but it often happens that the evil spirit is the more powerful of the two, and 
when this is the case the sick man cannot recover, and death ensues. By 
death they understand the flight of the soul out of the body. When a person 
complains of pain in the body the familiar will often suggest that some 
mischievous devil has put something into him to cause the pain. The manang 
will therefore manipulate the part and pretend by some sleight of hand to 
draw something out of it, a stick, or a stone, or whatever it may chance to be, 
which no doubt he has previously concealed about his person, and he will 
hand it about and exhibit it as the cause of the pain in the body which he has 
thus been able to remove without so much as leaving a mark on the skin.'' 

'* On other occasions if the disease be internal, the manang calls together 
all the friends of the sick person, making, with the assistance of others 
playing on gongs and tomtoms, a deafening noise sufficient to kill a person in 
ordinary health. He pretends to converse with the spirit which troubles the 
afflicted person, or he pretends to fall into a trance, during which his spirit is 
supposed to wander about in the spirit world to find out what is the matter 
with the patient. 

** His method of treating diseases is not very conducive to the restoration 
of health, but if the strength of the person is sufficient to bear him through, 
it is well ; but should the patient die no blame is attached to the manang, but 
it all devolves on the malignant spirit, who is certainly not so black as, on 
these occasions, he is painted. 

" Once during a journey up the Rejang river a wizard was called in to 
visit the sick wife of one of my companions. He was dressed in war 
costume and wore his side-arms. The sick woman was seated close to 
where he was standing. The room was crowded with people and but 
partially lit with a single torch. The gifts were hung up in a row under a 
cajang canopy and Bua Dieng, the conjurer, was to cast out the devil who 
was tormenting the woman by the help of his familiar Avun Lalang. The 
first thing for the wizard to do was to discover through the instrumentality of 
his familiar whether the woman was destined to die. Being satisfied she 
might yet live he conjured his familiar to discover to him the evil thing that 
was vexing her body, and after a great deal of mystery and exorcism he 
gingerly exhibited between his finger and thumb a ball of moss which he 

^ " In ordinary times they pretend to woric the cure of the sick by means of incantations, and 
after blinding the patient's eyes, pretend by the aid of the spirits to draw the bones of fish or fowls 
out of their flesh." (Sp. St. John i. 62.) 

"To increase their authority, they do not hesitate to declare that they have predicted every 
event. No accident happens to man or goods of which they do not say that they had previous 
warning ; and a sick man scarcely ever calls upon them for their aid when they do not tell him that 
for some time previously they had known he was going to have an attack. . . . For getting back 
a man's soul he receives six gallons of uncleaned rice ; for extracting a spirit from a man's body, 
the same fee, and for getting the soul of the rice at harvest feasts he receives three cups from every 
family in whose apartment he obtains it. The value of six gallons of uncleaned rice is not very 
great, but it is the sixtieth part of the amount obtained by an able-bodied man for his annual farm 
labour." {ibid i. 201.) 

268 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

claimed to have found in her head. His face was now a picture of horror as 
he offered to introduce this noxious thing into someone else's head, driving 
this other person nearly wild with terror until the latter was reassured by 
seeing it flung out of the window. 

** Another form of cure is similar to that well-known one of sorcery found 
in Europe, and was witnessed as follows : — A son of Unat6, Laghieng by- 
name, a boy of tender age, was suffering from some disorder of the stomach, 
whereupon his mother quickly procured the services of a manang bait (here- 
after described), who made effigies of mother and child by means of bundles 
of clothes. The effigy of the mother wore a mask, earrings, jacket and 
turban ; that of the child, with beads for eyes, a turban, and a scarlet chawat 
(loin-cloth) was placed between its legs. The gifts of the * devil * were 
hanging in a row under a cajang, and consisted of Unate's shield decorated 
with human hair at the one end, and his war jacket of panther-skin adorned 
with horn-bill plumes at the other end, while in between were the wife's 
waist-beads and showy clothing. The object of the witch was to persuade 
the devil to accept these bribes and leave the boy to recover." (Brooke Low.) 

" I observed one of the Sibuyow customs somewhat new to me. A child 
was sick, and, as a charm, a straight stick, six feet high, was stuck in a 
water-jar before the door of the apartment in which it lay : leaves, surmounted 
by a Battick handkerchief, crowned the head, and the stem was twined with 
a chowat or waist-cloth. On inquiry, I learned that it was a charm, and that 
a ghost or fairy {antu) would descend and make known the best cure for the 
child — either in a dream, or whilst they were awake, they could not be certain 
which." (Sir Jas. Brooke, Mundy i. 303.) 

** In the evening near the Lingga we witnessed a poor sick woman being 
doctored. A decorated seat had been placed for her on the outer part of the 
house, and here she was seated, surrounded by eight of the doctors, who were 
dressed in gorgeous clothes, and some in female costume. An umbrella was 
over the patient, and the doctors paraded around her, giving utterance to a 
monotonous kind of chant. In the first circuit they placed their hands on 
their heads, and the second on their eyes, the next on their mouth ; and so 
on, until they reached their knees ; after which they lifted the woman from 
her seat, and swung her to and fro. This lasted for three hours, when I thought 
she would have died from exhaustion. The doctors were howling all night 
outside her door, and we heard she was better next morning. So much for 
imaginary satisfaction." (Brooke i. 94.) 

** In cases of sickness a certain kind of altar is erected near the sick 
person's head, offerings are put on it, and a single gong beaten all the while. 
Then the priests sprinkle the sick man with blood, and make certain marks 
on him, as well as on his relations. No inmate of the house is allowed to leave 
it for two or three days ; no stranger may enter. Then there are three or 
four men and women appointed to go by night with torches and gongs beating 
in the jungle, carrying with them rings of beads washed in the blood, and 
magic stones, in order to seek for the place where the departed soul of the 
sick may have run to, and bring it back to him, after which crowning feat he 
is said to recover." (Haughton, M.A.S. iii. 196.) See supra, p. 242 footnotes. 

Medicine Men and Women. 269 

"The Dyaks believe that every individual has seven souls (samangat), 
and that when a person is sick one or more of these are in captivity, and 
must be reclaimed to effect a cure."^ (Brooke Low.) " Dyaks when visited 
by any severe sickness ask forgiveness of the antu. They build a small hut 
like one of their own rooms, put a piece of matting on the floor, and then 
place rice, cakes, fruit, and eggs on plates as an offering ; these they place in 
the hut, and round about they hang their gongs and place their jars on the 
ground near. A fowl and pig are killed and the blood sprinkled about the 
hut. All the roads to the house are shut up for three days ; no work of any 
kind is carried on. They visit no one, no one visits them. Each man gives 
his share of rice and things to the antu.'' (Crossland Gosp. Miss., Mar., 1866, 
p. 40.) 

** Some manangs are provided with a magic stone ^ into which they look 
to see what is ailing a man, and prescribe for him accordingly. Every genuine 
manang is provided with a bag of charms called lupong, to him a collection of 
inestimable value ; being a present to him from the spirit world, it is irreplace- 
able if lost or stolen. In reality its contents are a mass of rubbish, curious 
sticks and stones, abnormal developments of cane and root, tusks and teeth 
and excrescences of horn, with here and there a herb or two, such as turmeric, 
ginger, &c. Pengorah rumwah are the bundle of charms handed from father 
to son and hung on the head of the post. Among Gari's (a manang) collection 
I observed a smooth Venetian red pebble and a so-called cock's egg, and he 
mentioned as stolen a yellow stone bead and a gold button. The charms are 
used in a variety of ways, sometimes the body is rubbed with them, sometimes 
they are dipped in water, and the water thus enchanted is drunk, and some- 
times a bit is given to the patient to wear about his person as a talisman to 
ward off some particular danger. 

"When a manang is in attendance upon a sick person visitors are not 
received.^° The room he occupies is tabued, and, if circumstances require it, 
so is everything that belongs to him : his farm, his fruit-trees, and his garden. 
The language used by the manangs in their incantations is unintelligible even 
to the Dyaks themselves, and is described by the uninitiated as bungea jaker, 
i.e. manang gibberish. Some profess to understand what is said, but if they 
really do so it is because they have taken the pains to learn it with the view, 
no doubt, of performing cures on their own account later on. It may be 

^ "The Balau Dyaks distinguish between the soul — which they term semungat— and the animal 
life. In cases of severe sickness they say that the soul has left the body, has entered Sebaian hidop, 
and is travelling towards Sebaian mati. If it enters Sebaian matt immediate death ensues, but in order 
to prevent this unfortunate conclusion, mannangs are employed to follow and overtake it while still 
in Sebaian hidop, and to bring it back to the body. 

" The Sebuyos believe that each man has seven semungats, and that sickness is caused by the 
loss of one of them." (Horsburgh, p. 24.) 

' Among the Upper Sarawak Dyaks "they have several large stones with distinct names, 
Le Bandos, Le Cunas, Le Ruyare, etc., at different Daya villages. On certain days they are carried 
about in procession, and festivals are held at their places. Such stones — 'guna,' as they are called — 
have particular houses built, and a Daya. who is paid by the village, is appointed to watch over 
them." (Haughton, M.A.S., iii. 196.) 

^^ This appears to be a contradiction to the statement on page 267. 

270 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N, Borneo. 

simply some archaic form of the ordinary spoken language interspersed with 
cabalistic formulae, spells and charms for different purposes. Timong, the 
monotonous chant of the manangs, is a mixture of prayer and invocation, 
cursing and imprecation ; like the other it is not modern, and is largely mixed 
with archaic forms and disused words ; sense gives way to the exigencies of 
rhyme with jingling-like endmgs, and it has a refrain." 

** The ntanang bait is a most extraordinary character, and one difficult to 
describe : he is a male in female costume, which he will tell you he has 
adopted in obedience to a supernatural command, conveyed three separate 
times in dreams. Had he disregarded the summons he would have paid for 
it with his life. Before he. can be permitted to assume female attire he is 
sexually disabled. He will then prepare a feast and invite the people. 
He will give them tuak to drink, and he will sacrifice a pig or two to 
avert evil consequences to the tribe by reason of the outrage upon 
nature. Should he fail to do all this every subsequent calamity, failure of 
crops and such like, would be imputed to his conduct and he would be 
heavily fined. Thenceforth he is treated in every respect like a woman and 
occupies himself with feminine pursuits. His chief aim in life is to copy 
female manners and habits so accurately as to be undistinguishable from 
other women, and the more nearly he succeeds in this the more highly he is 
thought of, and if he can induce any foolish young fellow to visit him at night 
and sleep with him his joy is extreme ; he sends him away at daybreak with 
a handsome present and then, openly before the women, boasts of his 
conquest, as he is pleased to call it. He takes good care that his husband 
finds it out. The husband makes quite a fuss about it, and pays the young 
fellow's fine with pleasure. As episodes of this kind tend to show how 
successfully he has imitated the character of a woman he is highly gratified, 
and rises, accordingly, in the estimation of a tribe as a perfect specimen.** 
As his services are in great request and he is well paid for his trouble, he 
soon grows rich, and when he is able to afford it he takes to himself 
a husband in order to render his assumed character more complete. 
But as long as he is poor he cannot even dream of marriage, as nothing 
but the prospect of inheriting his wealth would ever induce a man to 
become his husband, and thus incur the ridicule of the whole tribe. The 
position as husband is by no means an enviable one ; the wife proves 
a very jealous one, and punishes every little infidelity with a fine. The 
women view him, the husband, with open contempt and the men with 
secret dislike. His only pleasure must be in seeing his quasi wife accumulate 
wealth and wishing her a speedy demise, so that he may inherit the property. 

**In the time of Sir Spencer St. John (i. 62) in Lingga, out of thirty 
manaugs, only one had given up man's attire. 

'* It is difficult to say at what age precisely a person may become a 
manang bali. One thing, however, is certain, he is not brought up to it as a 
profession, but becomes one from pure choice or by sudden inclination at 

" " Their priests frequently use the names of the invisible spirits, and are supposed to be able 
to interpret their language, as well as to hold communion with them." (Spencer St. John, i. 62.) 

" The manang bait " is quite unknown amongst the Hill Dyaks." (Mundy ii. 65.) 

Medicine Men and Women, 271 

a mature age. He is usually childless, but it sometimes happens that he has 
children, in which case he is obliged to give them their portions and to start 
afresh unencumbered in his new career, so that when he marries, if he be so 
minded, he can adopt the children of other people, which he frequently, nay, 
invariably, does, unless it so happen that his husband is a widower with a 
family of his own, in which case that family now becomes his. 

" The nianang bali is always a person of great consequence, and manages, 
not unfrequently, to become the chief of the village. He derives his popularity 
not merely from the variety and diversity of his cures, but also largely from 
his character as a peacemaker, in which he excels. All little differences are 
brought to him, and he invariably manages to satisfy both parties and to 
restore good feeling. Then again his wealth is often at the service of his 
followers, and if they are in difficulty or distress he is ever ready to help. 
The manang bali as an institution is confined, to the best of my knowledge, to 
the remote tribes of the Sea Dyaks : the Ulu-Ais, Kanaus, Tutong, Ngkaris, 
and Lamanaks. It is not unknown to the Undups, Balaus, Sibuyaus, and 
Saribas, but is not in vogue among them, owing perhaps to their vicinity to 
the Malays, who invariably ridicule the practice, and endeavour to throw it 
into disrepute.'' (Brooke Low.) 

** Bishop Chambers on once asking a manang bali how he professed to 
recover a drowned spirit, received as answer : * We hold,' he replied, * that in 
addition to the true spirit given by God to man, there is another spirit, the 
shadow, which ordinarily attends a man wherever he goes. This is the spirit 
which falls into the water. We are sent for. We place a platter filled with 
water before us. After incantations we fish in this platter with hawk-bells. 
We pull these out a few times with no result. At length the spirit comes up, 
is captured, and restored.' * How is it you see this spirit when others cannot ?' 
* Oh ! we are the Illuminated (Bakliti.) At our initiation gold is put into our 
eyes, hooks are stuck into our finger-nails, our skull is cleft open.' " (Miss. 
Field, 1867, p. 463.) 

By the Venerable Archdeacon J. Perham. 

** Where all rational conception of the causes of disease and of medicine is 
entirely absent, magical ceremonies, incantations, pretensions to supernatural 
powers in the cure of the sick have the whole field before them ; whilst fear 
and anxiety in cases of illness lead to an eager credulity which clutches at any 
projected means of cure, however absurd in themselves : hence among the 
lower races of mankind, the medicine man is an important personage and as 
indispensable to the well-being of Society. The Dyaks of Borneo are no 
exception ; they have their manangs. And as these are not reluctant to 
communicate their medical beliefs, and as their belief is also the belief of the 
Dyaks generally, it is not difficult to set down a general view of their theories, 
as well as their practices. The peculiar attribute of the manang is the 
possession of mysterious powers rather than special knowledge. 

15 Jour. Straits Asiatic Soc., No. 19, 1887. 

272 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo, 

*' But though the manang function is procured for all serious ailments, 
yet the treatment of the sick is not confined to it. Dyaks use a few simples 
as outward applications, things composed for the most part of leaves of plants. 
The betel-nut and pepper leaf mixture is also used as aji outward application 
for almost any malady. Some man, supposed to be lucky, is called in ; he i 

chews a quantity of this hot and stimulant mixture in his mouth, leans over j 

the body, and squirts the saliva over the affected part, and gently rubs it in 1 

with his fingers. Dyaks in a burning fever with acute headache will be seen 
with their foreheads smeared over with it. And this dirty mess is supposed to 
possess great virtue in promoting the growth of newly born children, whose 
bodies, up to a certain age, are half covered with daily applications of it by 
their mothers. Other unprofessional modes of cure are practised by certain 
Dyaks, to whom, through the medium of dreams, benevolent spirits have 
made known medicinal charms for special diseases, such as pebbles, roots 
and leaves of various plants, bits of w^ood, and even feathers and scraps of | 

matting, etc. The pebbles are rubbed in water, which is applied externally ; | 

the woods, feathers and matting are burnt, and the ashes appHed. 

'* But these are of very minor importance compared with the functions of 
the manangs, who alone are believed to wield power over the malignant spirits 
which cause sickness. All internal maladies are supposed to be inflicted by 
the passing, or the touch of demons inimical to mankind. What is the matter 
with so and so ? you ask. He is pansa utei, ** something passed him " ; he is 
struck by a demon who desires to carry off his soul to the other world. 
Consistent with this idea, somebody is required who can cope with the evil 
spirit and prevent the soul from being hurried away. And the manang comes 
forth as the man, ready to charm, cajole or kill the spirit, and rescue the 
departing soul from his clutches by a performance which is called Belian. 
Some years ago a Dyak lad was sleeping in my house, and in the early 
morning was seized with epileptic fits. The friends came and took him away, 
and soon the manangs were walking round and chanting over him. After the 
function was over, the chief manang gave out that a party of spirits, returning 
from a hunting expedition, caught sight of the lad, and thrust a spear at him; 
but that had they recognised the house as mine, they would have spared him. 

** Nearly all diseases are believed to arise from ghostly causes, or at least 
to be accompanied by sneaking evil spirits ; and the sorcerer must deal with 
these intangible and demoniacal influences. But some maladies are too 
terrible for even his mystical powers. Nothing is more thoroughly believed 
to be the direct personal influence of evil spirits than the epidemic scourges 
of cholera and small-pox ; but seldom will manangs go near a case of either ; 
probably a consciousness of the utter futility of their efforts, combined with 
fear of infection, have induced them to assert that such cases do not come 
within the reach of their powers. Other means must be resorted to, among 
which propitiatory sacrifices and offerings predominate. 

**The stock in trade of a manang is a lupong, a medicine box, generally made 
of bark-skin, which is filled with obat, medicinal charms, consisting of scraps 
of wood and bark, bits of curiously twisted roots, and odd knotty sticks, 
pebbles, fragments of quartz, and possibly a coloured glass marble, cum multis 

Medicine Men and Women. 273 

aliis. These charms are either inherited, or revealed by the spirits in dreams 
as possessed of medicinal virtue. The coloured glass marble, where not 
previously known, is an obat of great power. On one occasion in my neigh- 
bourhood years ago a travelling manang belauded the efficacy of one of these 
toys of civilisation, saying I think that it was the * egg of a star,* and that he 
had given the whitemen's doctor two dollars for it. Among the audience was 
a Dyak to whose son I had given a similar marble, and he said : * May we see 
this great medicine V The manang produced it. * Oh,' said the other, * the 
Tuan Padri yonder has got plenty of these. He gave my boy one.' The 
manang speedily replaced the marble, and changed the conversation to a more 
unsuspicious direction. If an unscrupulous trader were to take into the 
interior of Borneo a cargo of these marbles with holes bored through them to 
enable them to be worn round the neck, he would make enormous profits. 
One which I had given to a child was afterwards sold for a brass gong worth 
three dollars. 

" Another and a principal obat contained in the * lupong * is Bata Ilau, 

* Stone of Light,* at bit of quartz crystal, by virtue of whose mysterious 
power the manang is enabled to perceive the character of different diseases, 
and to see the soul, and catch it after it has wandered away from the body : 
for it is an article of manang faith that in all sicknesses the soul leaves the 
body, and wanders about at greater or less distance from its mortal tenement ; 
if it can be caught within a returnable point, and recovered before having 
proceeded too far on the journey to Hades, well and good ; if not, the patient 

The manang never carries his own lupong, but the people who fetch him 
must carry it for him. He comes to the house in the evening; for he never 
performs in daylight unless the case is very bad, and the people pay him well 
for it ; to belian during the day, he says, is difficult and dangerous work. 
Sitting down by the patient, after some inquiries, he takes out of his lupong a 
boar's tusk, or a smooth pebble, or some other obat of magical virtue, and 
gently strokes the body with it ; then he gravely looks into his Bata Ilau to 
diagnose the character of the disease and the condition of the soul, and to 
discover the proper pelian needed for its restoration, and then tells them what 
sort of function he would prescribe. If there be several manangs called in, the 
leader undertakes the preliminary examination, the rest giving their assent. 
This done, they retire to the outside public verandah of the house, where has 
been prepared a Pagar Api, which is a long handled spear fixed blade upwards 
in the middle of the verandah with a few leaves of some sort tied round it, and 
having at its base the * lupongs ' of each manang. Why it is called Pagar Api,^^ 

* Fence of Fire,' no one has been able to tell me. Then the leader begins a long 
monotonous drawl at the rate of about two words a minute, which, however, 
increases in velocity as the performance proceeds ; the rest either chanting 
with him, or joining in at choruses, or may be singing antiphonally with him, 
all squatting on the floor. After a tiresome period of this dull drawling, they 
stand up, and march with slow and solemn step round the Pagar Api, the 
monotonous chant slackening or quickening as they march the whole night 

^' See Fire as an antidote to bad omens, p. 229. 

274 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N, Borneo. 

through with only one interval for a feed in the middle of the night. The 
patient simply lies on his mats and listens. Most of the matter chanted in 
these manang performances is unmeaning rubbish. They begin by describing 
in prolix and grandiose language all the parts of a Dyak house ; but how such 
an irrelevant descant can effect the cure of a fever or a diarrhoea is a mystery 
to all but themselves. Then they * bark at the sickness,' in other words, call 
upon it to be off to the ends of the earth, and to return to the regions of the 
unseen world : they invoke the aid of spirits, and of ancient worthies and 
unworthies down to their own immediate ancestors, and spin the invocations 
out to a sufficient length to bring them to the daylight hours. Here the 
grank climax is reached — the truant soul has to be caught. If the patient is 
apparently in a dangerous state, they pretend the soul has escaped far away, 
perhaps to the river ; and they will wave about a garment, or a piece of woven 
cloth, to imitate the action of throwing a cast net to inclose it as a fish is 
caught ; perhaps they give out that it has escaped into the jungle, and they 
will rush out of the house to circumvent and secure it there ; perhaps they 
will say it has been carried away over seas to unknown lands, and will all set 
to and play at paddling a boat to follow it. But more generally the operation 
is made a more simple one. The manangs rush around the Pagar Api as hard 
as they can, singing a not unpleasing chant, until one of them falls on the 
floor and remains motionless ; the others sit down. The bystanders cover 
the motionless manang with a blanket, and wait whilst his spirit is supposed 
to hie away to Hades, or wherever the erring soul has been carried, and to 
bring it back. Presently he revives, looks vacantly about like a man just 
waking out of sleep, then he rises with his right hand clenched as if holding 
something. That hand contains the soul ; and the manang proceeds to the 
patient, and returns it to the body through the crown of the head, muttering 
at the same time a few words of incantation. This nangkap semengat, 
'catching the soul,' is the great end, to which all that has preceded is only 
preliminary, and which only a fully equipped manang is competent to perform. 
As the devouring demon is supposed to be driven away by the magical arts 
and charms of the manang, so the soul is allured into submission to him by 
his persuasive invitations and melodious cadences. And as he approaches the 
point of accomplishing this grand feat of spiritual power, he sings thus : — 

** Trehai pMia nepan di lamha kitap, 
Semen gat lari nengah lengkap, 
A ntu ngagai jay a jayap . 

Trehai puna nepan di lamha midong, 
Semengat lari nengah darong, 
A ntu ngagai ningah darong, 

Trehai puna nepan di lamha pulu, 
Semengat lari nengah mungu, 
A ntu ngagai amhis teransu, 

Trehai puna nepan di lamha jita, 
Semengat lari niki tangga, 
A ntu ngagai ny an nda meda* 

Medicine Men and Women. 275 

Nyau dicdu Ini Betik enggo rarik pulong temiang, 
Nyau dialu Ini Jurei enggo lukai redak tenchang, 
Nyau dialu Ini Menyaia enggo tuba ban sinang, 
Nyau dialu Ini Mampu enggo resu garu tulang, 
Dikurong Ini Impong di benong tajau bujang, 
Ditutup enggo Keliling gong selang, 
Dikungkong enggo Kawat panjai Kelinghang, 
. Ditambit enggo sabit bekait punggang, 
Niki ka tuchong Rabong rarengang. 

The dove flies and lights on the kitap " sapling, 
The soul escapes along the hollow valley, 
The demon pursues in dishevelled haste. 

The dove flies and lights on the medong^* sapling, 
The soul escapes through the ravine, 
The demon pursues through the ravine. 

The dove flies and lights on the pulu " sapling, 

The soul escapes along the hill, 

As the demon pursues, let him stumble. 

The dove flies and lights on the jita ^* sapling, 
The soul runs to climb the ladder (of house). 
The pursuing demon sees it no more. 

" It is met by Grandmother Betik,'* 
With a long stick of big knotted bambu. 
It is met by Grandmother Jurei,** 
With finely powdered lukai *• bark. 
It is met by Grandmother Menyaia,** 
With the acrid smelling tuba,^^ 
It is met by Grandmother Mampu,** 
With the gum of the bone like gharu. 
It is inclosed by Grandmother Impong," 
In a brightly shining jar. 
It is covered with a round brass gong. 
It is tied with wire of many circles. 
It is secured with a chain fastened at the ends. 
It ascends to the top Rabong *' looming grand in the distance. 

" One function remains to complete the cure : the sacrificial fowl must be 
waved over the patient. And as the manang does this, he sings a special 
invocation, which I give as a sample of the manang traditional lore, and of 
Dyak belief on the subject of sacrifice : — 

^'* Dyak names for jungle trees. 

IB Names of ancient manangs, or of manang tutelary deities. 

'• The lukai bark when burnt emits a very pungent smell, and the root of the tuba (Derris 
eliptica) possesses well-known poisonous properties, and evil spirits are thought to have a wholesome 
dread of both. 

'^ Rabong and Sintong, two adjoining mountains on the Upper Kapuas in Dutch Borneo. 

276 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo, 

** The speckled fowl for sacrificial waving and cleansing. 
For doctoring, for resisting, 
For sweeping, for atoning. 
For exchanging, for buying, 
A substitute for the feet, substitute for the hands, 
A substitute for the face, substitute for the life. 

** Ye fowls enable us to escape the curse muttered unheard : 
To neutralize the spittle (of the enejny) ; 
To correct the speech of the angry despiser ; 
To make nought the visions of half waking moments ; 
To scare away evil dreams for ever ; 
To make harmle^ one*s ghost ^® passing the farm ; 
To neutralize the ill omen bird flying across the path ; 
To cut off the katupong's flight coming from the left ; 
To cover its screeching ; — a bird of dread effect ; 
To make harmless the pangkas^ a hot tempered bird ; 
To counteract the omen of the low voiced deer. 
Hence ye fowls are for having and for offiering. 

" But will not bodies of birds suffice ? 

The bodies of the top knot jungle fowl which fills the lowland with long and 

gentle whistling, 
The bodies of long necked cranes covering the hill, 
The bodies of argus pheasants upon the hillocks of the plain, 
The bodies of fire back pheasants filling the lowland jungle, 
The bodies of blue kingfishers a pool full just coming from pecking on the 

big spreading rock, 
The bodies of one kneed moorhens filling the gully, 
The bodies of red beaked hornbills filling the ravine, 
The bodies of adjutant birds in the swamps, like kings with covered 

The bodies of owls, a flock, sitting without doffing their hats ; 
Many may be the birds, and many the minas, 
Bodies of hornbills, and bodies of green parrots ; 
But all are inefflectual for waving, for offering : 
They are not- worth a fowl as big as the fingers. 
That is the thing for waving and for offering. 

" Ye fowls were ever the race ever the seed (for sacrifice), 
From our grandfathers and grandmothers, 
Froni ancient times, from chiefs of old, 
Down to your fathers and mothers : 
Because we give you rice, we breed you, 
We give you food, give you nourishment. 
We hang for you nests, we make for you roosts ; 
We make you coops, we make you baskets : 
Hence ye fowls are used for substituting for buying, 
Substitutes for the face, substitutes for the life. 

^* Thejtda is the ghost of a living man seen by another person. 

Medicine Men and Women. 277 

'* Ye fowls are possessed with much foolishness and mischief : 
Ye have many sins, many uncleannesses, 
Many evils and much viciousness, 
Ye are in debt for sugar-cane as long as a pole ; 
In debt for plantains a long bunch ; 
In debt for potatoes got by planting ; 
In debt for melons with flattened ends ; 
In debt for pumpkins one man*s load ; 
In debt for kladi growing to perfection ; 
In debt for maize a handful or two ; 
In debt for shoots of the moon cucumber ; 
In debt for paddy a deep big bin ; 
In debt for rice in the earthenware jar ; 
Hence ye fowls are for waving and for offering. 

*' The ubah tree falls upon the kumpang sapling. 
Ye fowls have many crimes and many debts ; 
Ye bear the spirits of sickness, spirits of illness ; 
The spirits of fever and ague, spirits of cold and headache ; 
The spirits of cold, the spirits of the forest ; 
Ye bear them, ye are filled with them ; 
Ye pile them up, ye put them in a basket ; 
Ye carry them, ye take them clear away ; 
Ye conduct them oft, ye gather them ; 
Ye drag them along, ye lift them up ; 
Ye embrace them, ye carry them in your bosom ; 
Ye fowls have beaks as sharp as augers ; 
Your feathers are like fringes of red thread ; 
Your ear feathers like sharpened stakes of bambu : 
Your wings flap like folds of red cloth ; 
Your tails are bent downwards like dragging ropes ; 
Your crops weigh heavily like many iron hawkbills ; 
Your nails are like sharp iron knives. 

*' Ye fowls scare away sickness, and make it run 
To the opening dawn of the morning. 
To the end of the further heavens. 
To where kingfishers ever screech, 
To the end of the muntjac*s run. 
To the place of the setting sun. 
To the birds fanned by fire. 
To Jawa the settled country, 
To the pebbly shallows of inland waters, 
To the hill of burning fire. 
To the end of Lalang hill of Hades."* 


So now we have nothing to hurt us, nothing wrong ; 
We are in health, we are in comfort ; 

1' There are added here the names of many supposed places in Hades to which the evil spirits 
of disease are called upon to retreat with all speed ; but they are untranslateable. 

278 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

We are long-lived and strong-lived, 

Hard as stone, hard of head ; 

Long as the waters, long of life. 

Like the waters of Ini Inda,** 

Like the stones of the Dewata.* 

Like a pool five (fathoms) deep ; 

Like a stretch of river beyond eyeshot. 

Like the land turtle's burrowed bed, 

Like the waterfall of Telanjing Dara,^^ 

Like the land of Pulang Gana ^ 

Like the cave bed of Raja Sua ** 

Like hills fixed by the gods. 

Like the moon at its full, 

Like the cluster of three stars ; 

As high as heaven, as high as the firmament. 

** There is nothing wrong, nothing to hurt ; 

When sleeping have dreams of strings of fish ; 

Lying down, dream of bathing in the shallow pebbly streams ; 

When dosing, dream of a branch of ramhutans ; 

Dream of langsatSy squeezed in the hand ; 

Dream of Ini Impong inclosing you in a pelawan jar ; 

Dream of Ini Sayoh keeping you safe for ever ; 

Dream of living in the heart of the moon ; 

Dream of gazing up into the heights above ; 

Dream of the summit of the eternal Rabong. 

** This invocation of good dreams ends the ceremony, and is supposed to 
complete the cure. 

" The foregoing is a general account of all pelian, or manang perform- 
ances ; but they distinguish different kinds according to the fancy of the 
manang, the violence of the disease, and the ability of the patient to pay. 
These are marked by special ceremonies over and above the general course of 
invocations, song and enchantment which are common to all. The pelian 
then is divided into the following : — 

** I. Betepas, ' Sweeping.' At the time of the birth of each individual on 
earth, a flower is supposed to grow up in Hades, and to live a life parallel to 
that of the man. If the flower continues to grow well, the man enjoys good 
robust health ; if it droops, the man droops ; so whenever the man has 
unpleasant dreams, or feels unwell two or three consecutive days, the flower in 
Hades is said to be in a bad condition, the manang is called in to weed, cleanse 
and sweep round it; and so set the compound earthly and unearthly life on its 
right course again. This is the first, the lowest and the cheapest function of 
the manang. In this he does not * catch the soul,' as is done in all others. 

2^ Names or titles used of deities in general. 

3^ Telanjing Dara is said to be a female mythical spirit who lives at a waterfall, and who is 
ever on the watch to take people away to the land of death. 

** Pulang Gana is the spirit who presides over the land and cultivation. 
^3 Raja Sua is the spirit who presides over rivers. 

Medicine Men and Women, 279 

" 2. Berua, * Swinging.' The manang sits in a swing, and rocks himself 
with the idea of knocking and driving away the disease. 

" 3. Berenchah, * making a rush.' The door between the private room 
and the open verandah of the house is thrown open, and the manangs march 
backwards and forwards from room and verandah beating together a pair of 
swords, which is interpreted as making a grand charge into the midst of the 
evil spirits, and scattering them right and left. 

** 4. Betanam Pentik, ' Planting a Pentik.' A Pentik is a piece of wood 
very roughly carved into the figure of a man, a sort of rude doll, which is 
stuck into the ground at the foot of the ladder of the house with the object 
of divining the fate of the sick man. It is inserted into the ground in the 
evening ; and if it remains till the morning in a straight position, well and 
good, recovery is certain ; but if it be inclined either to the right or left, it is 
an omen of death. 

" 5. Bepancha, * Making a Pancha.' A Pancha is a swing erected on the 
' tanju,' or platform in front of the house, and the manang swings in it, as in 
Berua, to express the action of * kicking away ' the malady. An offering to 
the spirits is laid on the platform. 

" 6. Ngelemhayan, * Taking a long sight.' A number of planks are laid 
about the verandah, and the manangs walk upon them chanting their incanta- 
tions ; and when in the pretended swoon, one is supposed to sail away over 
rivers and seas to find the soul and recover it. 

" 7. Bebayak, * Making a Bayak,' i.e., an iguana. Some cooked rice is 
moulded into the shape of an iguana which is covered over with cloths. The 
iguana, or perhaps his congener, the alligator, is supposed to eat up the evil 
spirits which cause the disease. 

** 8. Memuai ka Sabayan, * Making a journey to Hades.' The manangs 
with hats on their heads march in procession up and down the house, during 
which their spirits are' supposed to speed away to Hades, and bring back all 
kinds of medicinal charms, and talismans of health, as well as the wandering 
and diseased soul. At daylight they go into the jungle to * catch the soul.' 

" 9. Betiang Garong, * Making a post of or for the Manes.' A swing is 
constructed on the roof-ridge of the house, and the manang performs his 
swinging there. An offering is also made on the ridge. 

** 10. Munoh Antu, * Killing the Demon.' Occasionally the manangs will 
declare, of some unusual and obstinate disease, that an evil spirit called Buyu 
is the cause of it, and must be killed. A goodly number of them is called 
together, and the feat is performed in this way. The patient is taken out of 
the room, and laid on the verandah, and covered with a net ; the manangs 
walk in procession up and down the whole length of the house, chanting their 
incantations to entice the demon within the charmed circle of their magical 
influence. This occupies some time, for the spirit may be far away on a 
journey, or fishing, or hunting ; and at intervals one of them peeps in at the 
door to see if he has arrived. In due time the demon is there, and then the 
manangs themselves enter the room, which is quite dark. Presently sounds of 
scuffling, of clashing of weapons, and of shouting are heard by the Dyaks out- 
side, and soon after the door is opened, and the demon is said to be dead. He 

28o H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N, Borneo. 

was cheated into coming to plague his victim as usual, and lo, instead of the 

sick and helpless patient, he encounters the crafty and mighty fnanangs, who 

have killed him ; and as proof of the reality of the deed, lights are brought, 

and the manangs point out spots of blood about the floor, and occasionally the 

corpse itself is shewn in the shape of a dead monkey, or mayas. The trick is 

a very shallow one, and is managed thus : some time in the day the fnanangs 

procure blood from a fowl, or other animal, or may be from their own bodies, 

mix it with water in a bambu to prevent congealing, smuggle it into the room, 

and scatter it on the floor in the dark, which they can safely do in the absence ^ 

of all witnesses of the proceeding. Neither lights nor outsiders are permitted 

in the room, on the plea that, under such circumstances, the demon would not 

be enticed to enter. The trick has often been detected, and the performer 

openly accused of imposture, and the result is that it is not now practised so 

often as in former times. When this feat of ghostly warfare is over, the 

* pelian ' is proceeded with in the usual way till the morning hours. 

**ii. Beburong Raya, 'Making, or doing the Adjutant Bird.' The 
distinctive mark of this is the procession round and round the house, the 
manangs being covered with native cloths like cloaks, in which, I suppose, 
they profess to personate the bird. 

" 12. Bebandong Api, * Displaying fire.' The patient is laid on the 
verandah, and several small fires made round him. The manangs pretend to 
dissect his body, and fan the flames towards him to drive away the sickness. 

*' 13. Ninting Lanjan. Two swings are constructed along the whole 
length of the house, and the swinging farce is gone through in another form. 

** 14. Begiling Lantai. * Wrapping with Lantai,' or floor laths. One of 
the manangs personates a dead man. He is vested with every article of Dyak 
dress and ornament, and lays himself down as dead, is then bound up in 
mats, and wrapped up with slender bambu laths tied together with rotans, 
and taken out of the house, and laid on the ground. He is supposed to be 
dead. After about an hour, the other manangs loose him, and bring him to 
life ; and as he recovers, so the sick person is supposed to recover. 

** These comprise the range of Dyak medical magic. The Betepas, the 
Berua, Berenchah, Betanam Pentik, are the forms most commonly used : the 
Bepancha, Betiang Garong and Munoh Antu are rarely resorted to ; and the 
others hardly ever heard of now ; but altogether they form an ascending 
scale of * pelian ' functions rising in pretended medicinal virtue from the 
Betepas to Begiling Lantai ; and they demand a corresponding scale of 
increasing fees, which are paid over to the manang on the spot as soon as the I 

performance is over. J 

** To qualify the practitioner to work this system of mixed symbolism and 
deceit, an act of public initiation is necessarry. The aspirant for the office 
must first commit to memory a sufficient amount of traditional lore to take 
a share in the incantations in company with older manangs ; but before he 
can accomplish the more important parts, or catch the soul, in other words, 
do the more audacious tricks, he must be initiated by one or more of the 
following ceremonies : — 

**The first is Besudi, which seems to mean feeling, touching. The 

Medicine Men and Women, 281 

neophyte sits in the verandah as a sick man would, and the other manangs 
belian over him the whole night. By this he is supposed to become endowed 
with the power of touch to enable him to feel where and what are the 
maladies of the body, and so apply the requisite charms. It is the lowest 
grade of manang, and obtainable by the cheapest fees. 

** The second is Bekliti, or * Opening.' A whole night's incantation is 
gone through, as in all pelians, and in the morning the great function of 
initiation is carried out. The manangs lead the neophyte into a private 
apartment curtained off from public gaze by long pieces of native woven 
cloth ; and there, as they assert, they cut his head open, take out his brains, 
wash and restore them, to give him a clear mind to penetrate into the 
mysteries of evil spirits, and the intricacies of disease ; they insert gold dust 
into his eyes to give him keenness and strength of sight powerful enough to 
see the soul wherever it may have wandered ; they plant barbed hooks on the 
tips of his fingers to enable him to seize the soul and hold it fast ; and lastly 
they pierce his heart with an arrow to make him tender-hearted, and full of 
sympathy with the sick and suffering. In reality, a few symbolic actions 
representing these operations are all that is done. A coco-nut shell, for 
instance, is laid upon the head and split open instead of the head itself, &c. 
The man is now a fully qualified practitioner, competent to practice all parts 
of his deceitful craft. He is now no longer an Iban,^ a name by which all 
Dyaks speak of themselves, he is a Manang. He is lifted into a different rank 
of being. And when engaged in their functions, they make a point of 
emphasizing this distinction by constant use of the two words in contrast to 
each other. 

** A third grade of manang rank is obtainable by the ambitious who have 
the will and means to make the outlay : they may become manang bangun 
manang enjun, ' manangs waved upon, manangs trampled on.' As in other 
cases, this involves a night's pelian, but the specialities conferring this M.D. 
of Dyak quackery and imposture are three. At the beginning of the 
performance, the manangs march round and round the aspirant for the higher 
honour, and wave about and over him bunches of the pinang flower, an action 
which, all over Borneo I believe, is considered of great medicinal and 
benedictional value in this and many other similar connections. This is the 
Bangun. Then in the middle of the verandah a tall jar is placed having a 
short ladder fastened on either side of it, and connected at the top. At 
various intervals during the night the manangs^ leading the new candidate, 
march him up one ladder and down the other; but what that action is 
supposed to symbolize, or what special virtue to confer, I have not been able 
to discover. To wind up this play at mysteries, the man lays himself flat on 
the floor, and the manangs walk over him, and trample upon him, to knock 
into him, perhaps, all the manang power which is to be obtained. This is 
the Enjun. It is regarded as a certificate of medical superiority, and the 
manang who has passed the ordeal will on occasions boast that he is no 
ordinary spirit-controller and soul-catcher, but a manang bangun, manang 

•* See p. 40. 

282 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

" Women as well as men may. become manangs. In former times, I 
believe, all manangs on their initiation assumed female attire for the rest of 
their lives ; but it is rarely adopted now, at least on the coast districts ; and 
I have only met with one such. If you ask the reason of this strange custom, 
the only answer forthcoming is, that the spirits or deities who first taught 
Dyaks the knowledge of the powers of manangisni, gave them an injunction 
to assume the woman's garb. It will be observed that most of the beings 
mentioned or invoked by manangs are addressed as Ini, * Grandmother,' 
which perhaps implies that all the special deities of the manang world are 
supposed to be of the female sex, and, to be consistent with this belief, it 
might have been deemed necessary for the manang to assume the outward 
figure and the dress of his goddess. 

** The Malays also have their manangs, who are called Bayoh, while the 
ceremony is Berasik, but I believe the better instructed Mahometans consider 
the practice of it altogether inconsistent with the true religion of Islam. 

** It has been said that the Pawang and the Poyang of the Malay Peninsula, 
and the Datus and Si Bassos of the Battaks of Sumatra, and the medicinemen 
of Borneo, are all offsprings and ramifications of the Shaman priests, the 
wizard physician of Central Asia. The manang of the Dyaks certainly 
contributes his share to the proof of the assertion. A main point of the 
Shamanistic creed appears to have been that every object and force in nature 
has its * spirit,' which could be invoked by the worshipper to confer things 
either good or bad. This entirely corresponds with Dyak religion ; the 
manang, in certain of his functions, calls upon the spirits of the sun and 
moon, the spirits in heaven and earth, spirits in trees, hills, forests, lowlands, 
and rivers, to come to his aid ; and if they are not equal to the * 300 spirits of 
heaven, and 600 spirits of the earth ' of Shamanism, they are a goodly 
company which the manang professes to bring from all quarters to the house 
of his patient. Again, the Shaman priest on particular occasions worked 
himself into an ecstasy ; the manang runs round and round, and pretends to 
fall in a faint, at which time his greatest power is exercised. And then the 
seat of the Shaman deities was placed on * the summit of the mountains of 
the moon,' the central pivot of the earth ; the special deities of the manangs, 
as before mentioned, dwell on Rabong and Sintong, Mountains in Central 
Borneo; and when waving the sacrificial fowl, the last and best wish the 
manang expresses for his patient is that he may have * dreams of Rabong and 
dreams of Sintong.' 

** But in these days, in practice, the manang answers to the idea of the 
Doctor, rather than to that of the Priest ; for his presence is not necessarily 
required for any purposes except that of treating the sick. At certain great 
religious functions of the Dyaks, such as the sacrifice of propitiation to the 
earth deities for a good harvest, or the greatest of all Dyak celebrations, the 
sacrificial festival to Singalang Burong, or at marriages, he is not of necessity 
the officiant. He may possibly be ; but not because he is a manang, but 
because he has given his attention to that part of ancient Dyak customs, or 
because he has the credit of being a lucky man. Generally, other Dyaks are 
the ministers of the office on these occasions ; the one requisite qualification 

Medicine Men and Wornen. 283 

being ability to chant the traditional story and invocations which accompany 
the offering and ceremonies. On the other hand, the fact that at his 
initiation he obtains a new generic name, and is believed to enter into a new 
rank of being, looks like the idea of succession to an ancient priesthood.'' 

Malanau Medicine. 

'* Among the Milanaus there are various ways of propitiating these 
spirits [who afflict mankind with various diseases^ by hanging festoons of 
plants before the house ; by making fictitious prahus of sago-pith, and eithe^ 
setting them up at the mouths of rivers or letting them float out to sea ; ** by 
calling in sorcerers to swing in the house all night to the sound of all kinds 
of gong$, while feasting is kept up the whole of the night, and the sick person 
carried down in a boat next morning to smell the sea air ; by making images 
of the spirit, and paying the sorcerer to abuse the image. With all this the 
people cannot be called superstitious, for they only seem to perform these 
rites as a matter of custom, never assuming any air of religion nor making 
any prostration, nor uttering any prayers to the spirits while performing them, 
but evidently hoping the sick person will be satisfied that nothing is left 
undone which should be done under the circumstances." (De Crespigny, 
J.A.I, v. 35.) 

"Among the Malanau there are two methods of overcoming sickness, 
viz. : Berasit and Embayu, The former sometimes lasts for seven and eight 
successive days. The inhabitants attend such a display as we should a 
theatre. The ceremony is done by a person, either man or woman, who is 
supposed to be able to interpret Satan's language, and they act in various 
ways while doing so. He, or she, is comically dressed, the costume being 
varied each night — going through imaginary everyday amusements, such as 
fishing, pulling in boats, or climbing to pick fruit, and many other daily 
occupations. The tones of their continual wail are monotonously musical, 
and the scene altogether is not displeasing, but produces a sensation of pity 
in a spectator's mind. The actors are hired individuals, who receive large 
sums from the afflicted. The ladies and audience are glad of an opportunity 
of getting * an out,' meeting their admirers, and wearing their fine clothes. 
.... The Embayu is the more primitive, and a more savage proceeding. 
The actors in such a scene present a ghastly and wild appearance. The man, 
or woman, with dishevelled hair, twirls the head round until his staring eyes 
show that he is almost beside himself. Then, with much sleight of hand, 
he is supposed to converse with spirits, and at a certain time to gain a power 
of withdrawing the devil, or evil simangat (* soul ') from him who is possessed 
of sickness." (Brooke i. 77.) 

** When any member of a family is afflicted with sickness a sorcerer is 
called in to intercede with the evil spirit on behalf of the sick person. This 
sorcerer immediately seats himself, or herself, down by the afflicted one and 
after bieating sometime on a gong he or she commences swaying the body 
about. With hair dishevelled and eyes almost starting from their heads they 

•""^Cf. with Soul Boat. p. 144. 

284 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

present a wild appearance. They become apparently insensible to the outer 
world, and are supposed to converse with the spirits of the other. 

** Should this fail in producing a cure, they resort to another mode of 
soliciting the good will of the spirits. For instance " Siag " is sometimes 
appeased by making a figure of nipa leaves and hanging it near the dwelling 
of the afflicted one. 

*' Abong and Elib are appeased by the following interesting proceed- 
ing. A picturesque boat is carved out of the pith of the sago palm and the 
figure of a man is placed therein ; a sorcerer is then called in and consulted in 
order to find out the abode of the evil spirit at that time, and the place 
propitious for sending the boat afloat, so that it will be sure to fall into the 
hands of the spirit. The sorcerer then takes the ipiage from the boat and 
instructs it what to say to the spirit on behalf of the patient, after abusing 
the image and enforcing on his mind the necessity of remembering the lesson, 
by way of indelibly fixing it on his memory, he winds up by spitting sirih 
juice in its face. The image is then replaced in the boat, decorated with a 
sprig of nipa leaf, and mysteriously conveyed to the spot pointed out by the 
sorcerer. Here it is immersed in water, the sprig of nipa is taken from it, as 
well as some water from the spot, when the boat is allowed to float away on 
its mission. Sometimes a light is placed in the boat to draw the spirit's 
attention. The water is taken to wash the patient's body, and the sprig of 
nipa is placed in the bed over the invalid. This is meant to guide the spirit 
to the afflicted person. ^^ 

** Should the sickness still continue then the last means is resorted to — that 
is the Brayune. A sorcerer is again called in, he, or she, is supposed to have 
power of invoking the good spirit against the bad, and of, in fact, exorcising 
all kinds of sickness. Should they fail, there is no help for the patient. This 
sometimes lasts for seven or eight days, during which time their neighbours' 
sons and daughters all meet, dressed in their fine clothes, and feasting goes 
on as well as a great deal of flirtation. I visited one of those ceremonies some 
time ago out of curiosity. On entering the house I found crowds of people 
assembled, a seat of honour being placed for me in the middle of the room 
near the centre of operations. This same seat was an absurd representation 
of a Chinese dragon with a seat on his back, having also horns, and scales 
painted all the colours of the rainbow ; he was represented as standing on the 
back of a skate, the whole being a masterpiece of carving. It was afterwards 
given to me. 

^"They have, besides, several other ways of inchanting away distempers, and fixing them 
sometimes on other persons as they think. One particular manner is thus : They make a thing in 
the form of a boat, but so little that one can carry it in his hand ; into this they put some offerings, 
and set it on the water and let it go adrift ; but woe be to him (as they imagine) that takes it up. I 
was once going to take up one of these diabolical storeships as it floated down the river ; but the 
natives cry'd out immediately, charging me not to touch it, for that I should instantly die, the devil 
would be in that rage with me for intercepting his provisions. I often enquired of them whether 
they ever saw the devil, and, being answered in the affirmative, I offer'd to go anywhere with them 
to see him ; but they refused to go purposely on that account, by reason he would be very angry at 
it, being mischievous enough of himself. I ask'd them in what shape he did appear to them ; 
they answer'd, ' like a flame of fire,' and that they only see him in the woods. This convinc'd me 
that what they take for the devil is only what we call in the country, Will-in-the-wisp, or Jack-a< 
lantern, seen chiefly in such swampy, wet grounds." (Beeckman, p. 122.) 

Medicine Men and Women, 285 

" The room itself was decorated with parti-coloured cloths, a swing com- 
posed of rattans hung across the room, to which were attached several small 
bells, and flowers of the beautiful areca palm. lYi the back ground a large 
band of players on drums and tomtoms kept up the life of the entertainment. 
The wizard" got upon the swing, which he commenced vibrating slowly, 
keeping time to the music. Presently he commenced swaying his body in 
every possible posture, increasing the time and tinkling the bells. Around his 
person floated two loose silk scarfs, his head being decorated with a gold crown 
and a gaudy red silk handkerchief. The music increased in noise and time 
until he fell from the swing, apparently insensible, but still struggling with the 
evil spirit, over which he was trying to gain the mastery. 

** A woman afterwards got up. She commenced singing in a low mono- 
tonous half-wail, very wild, weird and musical. She was entreating the evil 
spirits to be merciful. She then commenced an imitation of paddling and was 
supposed to travel into the next world and converse with the spirits. By 
and bye her appeals become more violent ; she got on the swing and worked 
herself into such a frenzy that she had to be removed by force. Meanwhile, 

^ This man was named Tabai ; he continued his impositions on the people until a few months 
ago [1876] . when he was murdered at Oya, the particulars of which appeared in the Gazette. The 
following is the murder referred to : — 

"We have received the following particulars of a murder which took place at Oya in 
November last. Much as we deprecate such a daistardly act, we consider the river well rid of the 
wizard. After such disclosures we cannot help wondering that people who are so far civilized as the 
Melanows should still place faith on such moonshine and hold on to such pagan practices. Tabai 
was formerly a reputed wizard, residing at Teh, up the Oya, but of late at Dalat in the same river. 
He had for some time past become a convert to the Mahomedan religion, and took the name of 
Draman. This day a letter comes from Pangeran Haji Abu Bakar, reporting that Tabai was killed 
at mid-day of Tuesday, the 23rd inst., by Tur, Igud and Pok, at the house of Tur at Dalat, that he 
jumped from the house and was speared on the ground by those men. Biat and his party on 
arriving at Oya found the Pangeran Haji about to go up river with a large following. Biat brought 
a paper, written by Saali the Tuah of Kakang, at his request, in which is set forth the reasons 
of Tur, Igud and Pok for killing Tabai. That when Tur gave his daughter in marriage to a 
Medong man, the man lost his reason, and Tabai received one picul of guns from Tur to restore his 
son-in-law to reason ; that Tabai had then said, " If you do not give me another picul I vrill not 
cure him," whereon Tur gave him another picul, and his son-in-law became sane : again, Tur's 
child was taken ill, and he paid Tabai one picul to cure him ; the child not recovering, Tur engaged 
another doctor, and Tabai said, " Because Tur did not continue to retain my services, the child shall 
not live long.* The child died. Another child of Tur's was taken ill, and Tabai agreed to cure it 
for sixty catties, saying, " If you give me sixty catties the child shall live, but if not, it shall die." 
Tur gave the sixty catties, but the child died notwithstanding. And Igud's reason for killing Tabai 
is that when his child was ill. Tabai said. " If you do not give me some guns I will eat (be the death 
of) your child, and within two or three days the child died. It was the work of Tabai. And Pok's 
reason is that Tabai demanded some gold of him which he would not give. Tabai said, " If you will 
not give it your child shall die," and that very night the child died. (C. C. de Crespigny, S.G. No. 1 16.) 

On the Lingga once a " Dyak doctor had engaged to attend on a sick man. and in the event of 
his remaining alive three days, a payment in jars was to be made as a fee. The three days expired, 
and the payment was made, when the patient died; upon which the son of the dead man, an 
impetuous young lad, demanded the restoration of the jars— a request the doctor refused to accede 
to. The son drew his parang, and exclaiming " My name may return to the skies! " cut down the 
doctor, and severely wounded his son. Though neither was killed, the former received some fearful 
wounds over the face and shoulders. The case was heard before the whole of the population, and 
the culprit fined three jars, or about £24." (Brooke i. 97.) Sir Sp. St. John (ii. 133) mentions the 
case of a Bukar father who on the death of his child accused the medicine-man of wilfully causing 
its death and killed him on the spot. 

286 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo. 

the poor sick person was lying in a corner of the room, being disturbed 
continually by the operators, who waved the flower of the areca palm over 
him in a wild and witch-like manner. The sight gave rise to painful feelings, 
and I was grieved to see such a nice people so thoroughly given over to these 
pagan practices, and placing implicit faith in such moonshine." (W. M. 
Crocker, S.G., Nos. 120 and 121.) 

General Sea Dyak Medicine Beliefs. 

*' I had a curious case not long since. A man from Banting came 
to ask for medicine for his brother, who, he said, was unable to move 
his lower limbs, and that part of his thighs were falling off in pieces. I 
inquired particularly as to whether he had ever received any blow on the 
spine ; or had a fall ? No. Then what was the commencement ? It came 
of itself. Afterwards, I found out the man had been trimming or lopping a 
tree on his farm, called * rara,' and hereby hangs a tale. This rara tree is an 
antu tree, and, generally speaking, nothing will grow under or near it. It is 
forbidden amongst the Dyaks to cut down this tree, unless they first take a 
hatchet, which they carefully wrap round with cotton ; they then strike as 
hard as they can, and leave the axe in ; then they call upon the antu, either 
to leave the tree, or give them the sign that he does not wish the tree to be 
cut down ; then they go home. Next day they visit the tree, and if they find 
the axe lying on the ground they know the tree is inhabited, and don't 
attempt to cut it down ; if the axe still remains in, they can without danger^ 
cut the tree down. I say it is no antu, but strychnine, which exists in the 
sap to a large percentage. Now so long as the sap is running, no axe could 
long remain in, but must necessarily be cast out by the action of heat, and 
the expansion of the gutta exuding. If the axe remains in, it only proves 
that the tree is not lively, but ready to die. The gutta, faUing on the flesh, 
is taken up by the absorbents, and so impregnates and poisons the whole 
body." (Crossland, Miss. Life, 1868, p. 214.) 

An old warrior told Sir Charles Brooke : " That many years ago a party 
of Sibuyau Dyaks, mostly his own near relations, and all known to him, were 
walking in the jungle, when one man, to their sudden surprise, ran to a 
distance from the rest, as if he had been seized by the spirits ; he climbed a 
tree and remained in the woods, while his companions returned home. 
After the man had been absent several years, living as an Antu, he returned 
to his family, covered with hair like an orang-outan. After some months the 
hair fell off, and he became like the others again. This was narrated with a 
serious and grave face, and he likewise assured me he knew the man in 
question." (i. 41.) 

The Rev. Mr. Horsburgh who lived among the Balaus relates a story which 
may confirm the above : ** On one occasion, when walking in company with 
two Dyak boys, Kassa and Biju, Kassa told me that his grandfather had 
become a Prince among the miases or orang-outans, and that one day Biju 
spied this mias in a tree, and not knowing that it had formerly been a man, 

28 Compare this with Antu tree mentioned by Mr. Grant, supra, p. 265. 

Medicine Men and Women. 287 

threw a stick at it and tried to frighten it. The mias, indignant at such an 
insult, exerted its hidden malignant influence and smote the offender with a 
severe fever, from which with difficulty he recovered. On asking Biju if such 
were the case, he admitted the truth of the story, adding such details as left 
no doubt that he had once thrown a stick at a mias, and had had a severe 
fever after doing so. * But how did you know it was your grandfather, 
Kassa ?* I asked. With unbounding faith, grave, earnest countenance, and 
large bright eye, he answered, * Oh, sir, most certainly it was ! ' What logic 
could stand against this ?" (p. 23.) 

Perhaps this may have something to do with Sir Chas. Brooke's 
statement later on (i. 156) : ** The natives, both Malay and Sea Dyak, have a 
method of seeking internal satisfaction (I cannot explain it by other words in 
my limited vocabulary) by communing in private with the spirits of the 
woods ; the Dyaks call it Nampok, and the Malays, Bertapar, They stay 
away many days, feeding on little or nothing, and if they see any living 
person during the time, they come home, and afterwards start afresh. 
Doubtless it does them good, soothing their simple minds." 

Sir Chas. Brooke tells the following: ** I have always made it a point to 
attend, with considerable respect to strange people's practices, for it is as well 
not too abruptly to laugh at superstitious modes, however far-fetched they 
may seem. On one occasion, some of the Malanau people had laid the dry 
leaf of a palm, peculiarly folded up, within a few yards of my house, owing to 
some one having fallen down on this spot and been injured. The Antus 
(spirits) in consequence had to be appeased. Antus, or no Antus, I did not 
approve of the vicinity of this leaf to my abode, so picked it up and threw it 
away. I had been warned that anyone touching it would get a swollen arm. 
By some unpleasant coincidence, within two days of touching the leaf, my 
arm became inflamed and swollen for more than a fortnight afterwards.'' 

(i. 79') 

A correspondent of the S.G., No. 122, p. 2, gives the following account 

of a method of satisfying the ire of malevolent spirits. "On the night of the 

2nd inst. it blew a heavy gale, first from the south eastward, then veered round 

to the westward. Rain descended in torrents for about two hours, and 

lightning was incessant from all directions, and so appalling that the native 

women and children ran out of their houses and rushed wildly about the 

different kampongs. This disturbance was the cause of an old and nearly 

forgotten custom being resorted to. During the force of the gale several men 

in the lower kampongs rushed about with swords cutting down fruit trees and 

otherwise slashing and damaging property ; not only of their own, but that 

of their neighbours. This act of vengeance was supposed to frustrate the 

evil spirit of the storm, who otherwise would destroy both life and property 

by a curse called Kudi, or in Kuching dialect Bud. A few days after the storm 

had abated, the losers of the property complained that they did not see the 

wisdom of this old custom, and hoped the Government would in future have 

it abolished. The Malay chiefs strongly seconded this proposal, allowing that 

in bygone days it had been a custom, but then, they state, their gardens were 

of little value ; it was different now, as labour was dear and everything was of 


H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo. 

value in the market. It was found that these desperate men had cut down 
225 trees of different kinds, for vvhich they had to pay the value." 

A curious request was made to Sir Hugh Low by a Land Dyak : " It was 
that of a young woman who, being married to an old man, was childless, and 
she requested me to give her some medicine which would cause her to have 
children, which she felt persuaded I could do.*' (Low, p. 308.) 

The Rev Mr. Crossland also says : ** I have funny requests sometimes. 
A man will ask for medicine to make his dog brave to fight the wild pig ; or 
for his paddy, that blight may not touch it." (Miss. Field, i860, p. 92.) 

" Only last night, after bathing, I was combing my hair, and threw some 
loose hair into the fire. One of my friends, the second son of Api Gurnong, 
said, * Tuan, we never throw our hair into the fire ; for, if we did, we should 
have a sick head.' I asked if into water ? * No, we should have a sick head.' 
On the earth ? * Yes ; no sickness there.' " (Crossland, Miss. Life, 1873, 

P- 54I-) 

** I found out a short time ago that I had been ignorant of a peculiar 

custom obser\'ed by the Undups. I used to go and visit my patients, and 

cheer them by telling them they seemed improving, or the reverse, just as I 

should do in England. I said to a lad, * That looks healthy ; now don't you 

go sitting over the fire, or you will be making good bad.' I left him. Next 

day I found him sitting over the fire wrapped up in a blanket, the picture of 

misery. I soon found he was in the sulks and left him in them. When he 

was quite well he said to me, * You were a stupid to go and say before me 

that the rash was good, just like a little child that knows nothing.' * So it 

was good,' I replied. * Good or bad, you should not have said a word to me, 

whatever you said to others/ said he. * So that was the reason you went into 

the sulks like a bear,' I said. * Yes, and enough too,' he replied; * you were 

a fool and I was angry.' A Dyak never admits he is well, nor can you say so 

to him. So anything eaten is never praised." (Crossland, Gospel Missy., 

Nov., 1871, p. 163.) 

** A man who has been suffering from a bad illness, on recovery will often 

change his name, in the hope that the evil spirit who caused his illness will be 

unable to recognise him under his new name. In such a case his former 

name is never again mentioned." (Hose, J.A.I, xxiii. 165.) 





Design on Bambu Box. 

J nat. size (see p. 241). 

(Hose Coll.) 

Design on Bambu Box. 

J nat. size (see p. 241). 

(Crossland Coll.) 


Variety of diseases — Remedies — Love of strong measures — No knowledge of medicine — Cholera — 
Massage —Water from sacred jars — Great distress — Treatment — Smallpox — Great fear of — 
Fleeing from it — Inoculation — The forsaken sick — General treatment — Malay vaccination — Care 
of the sick — Great losses — Malay inoculation — Fear makes peace — Panic-stricken people — A 
" cannibal " — Russian influenza — Malarial fever — Kurap — Very widespread — Leprosy — 
Elephantiasis — Goitre— Consumption - Ophthalmia — Insanity— Albinos— Quick-healing wounds 
— Bleeding and cupping — Cauterising — Spittle as a poultice — Other mixtures — Snake bites — 

The diseases the people suffer from are : — The Fevers : Cholera, Smallpox, 
Intermittent Fever, Russian Influenza, Anthrax ; and the Skin Diseases: 
Ichthyosis, Elephantiasis, Tetter, Scab, Leprosy, and Scrofula. They have 
also Ascites (dropsy), Goitre (Derbyshire neck). Threadworms, Consumption 
(? pulmonary). Otitis (inflammation of the middle ear), Ophthalmia, and 
Indolent Ulcers. But syphilis and gonorrhoea are never known. (Houghton 
M.A.S. iii. 196.) " Among those Upper Sarawak Dayas who do not come in 
contact with Malays, the treatment of the sick is entirely in the hands of the 
manangs. Those who have had intercourse with Malays often try their 
remedies, after the attempts of their own priests have failed to produce a cure. 
All remedies are external, either rubbing, or washing, or sprinkling. I have 
never seen or known of a Daya doctor giving a drug or any internal medicine, 
or interfering with the diet. If one excepts, therefore, such few cases where 
rubbing or washing would rationally be of any use, the whole medical treatment 
of the Dayas rests on their heathen system of superstition, in some cases 
approaching sympathetic cures professing to transplant sickness." {ibid.) 

Speaking of the Land Dyaks, Sir Hugh Low says : " The diseases which 
are most common among them are those incident to their exposed manner 

of life. Agues and diarrhoeas are the most prevalent Rheumatic 

pains are very common. For the cure of internal diseases, turmeric and 
spices, taken in monstrous quantities, are the favourite remedies ; but for 
anything at all serious, recourse is had to the * Pamali,' both in medical and 
surgical cases." (pp. 304, 307.) *' They have not that antipathy to the use 
of castor oil so frequently observed amongst other people ; but, on having 
taken one dose, generally hold out the glass and ask for another, saying at the 
same time that it is very good. European medicines have great effect upon 
their constitutions, so that, in all cases, smaller doses than usual must be 
prescribed for them." {ibid, p. 309.) 

1 This chapter has been placed after that on the Medicine Men as in the minds of the natives 
there is no real distinction between the magic of their doctors and true medical knowledge. 


290 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo, 

"The Land Dyaks have little or no knowledge of medicine, though they 
sometimes collect pepper and onions with which to make physic, a kind of 
stomachic." (St. John i. 198.) 


** When cholera was in the country, the Sea Dayaks lost comparatively 
few, as they healed those taken with it by rubbing and warmth .... The 
most successful system practised by the natives appears to be to rub the 
stomach and limbs with cajput oil {kayu putih oil), and administer a strong 
dose of spirits immediately the first symptoms are perceived. It is said a few 
drops of the oil are also given with success. When the cholera, after 
committing great ravages in the capital, appeared among the Muruts and 
Bisayas of Limbang, they all fled from their villages, retiring to the hills and 
the depths of the forest ; their loss was very shght." (St. John i. 74.) 

** At Tamparuli when the cholera attacked the people the only remedy 
they appeared to apply was water from the sacred jars, though they 
endeavoured to drive away the evil spirits by beating gongs and drums all 
night." {ibid i. 346.) 

About four years later at Kwap (Quop) " Sixty-six died of cholera. 
Heartrending scenes of human misery are related by those surviving ones, 
who, frightened by the sudden ravages in their homes, fled into the jungle in 
order to escape their enemy, but only to meet him in a more fearful shape 
in the wilderness ; through exhaustion, fear and want of food, they were only 
more open to his attack. I could tell you how whole families with their 
children fled ; how they built small temporary huts, living on a little rice and 
wild herbs only ; how, after a day or two, one of them being attacked by 
cholera, the others fled again, leaving his corpse a prey to wild beasts ; then 
building again, and leaving again and again, till at last perhaps only one or 
two little children are left, watching lonely by the side of their dead parents, 
unwilling to forsake their late protectors even then, and not knowing to the 
full extent their dreadful misery ; weeping, weeping all day, crying aloud for 
help, till at last some other stray sufferer and fugitive from the same fate, 
attracted by the cries in the silent jungle, happens to come near, and, 
throwing off all fear, takes the poor little bereaved ones to the nearest village 
or house to be taken care of.'* (Rev. Ab6 Miss. Field, 1865, p. 216.) 

In one case, when a Land Dyak man was dying of dysentery, those 
attending him had prescribed the frequent use of plantains as his only food. 
Honey enters largely into their medical practice, and to it they ascribe 
healing qualities. (Low, p. 309.) 


Writing of the Smallpox on the Sakarang (?) in 1856 Sir Chas. Brooke 
remarks : ** Indeed, near the mouths of small streams the stench was most 
offensive from the decaying bodies. When first taken with the unmistakable 
symptoms, they were left to look after themselves. The consequence was the 
disease proved fatal in almost every case. The poor creatures had not the 

Pathology. 291 

remotest chance of recovery if delirium attacked them ; but where inoculation 
was practised, the average amount of deaths did 'not exceed one per cent. 
The inhabitants (particularly the Dyaks) have an extraordinary fear of this 
disease, and never speak of it without a shudder. On making inquiries after 
a person's health, the question is put in a whisper for fear the spirit might 
hear, and it is termed by various names, the most usual being jungle flowers 
or fruits, (i. 208.) 

*' The smallpox attacked six months ago (1856) the people up the main 
river, the Batang Lupar. In some of the Dyak houses it made frightful 
ravages, chiefly through the panic fear into which it threw the occupants, 
who, in some cases, fled into the jungles, abandoning their sick friends and 
carrying the infection in their own bodies. It is said there are long houses, 
whose occupants having thus rushed away, not one of them has since made 
his appearance. The Dyaks regard the smallpox as an evil spirit, with the 
notion which induced our English peasantry to use the same caution in 
reference to fairies — they never venture to name the smallpox, but designate 
it politely by the titles Rajah and Buah-Kagu, I heard an old woman 
yesterday, telling how that, during the time she was nursing her grandson, 
she was continually begging, * Rajah, have compassion on him, and on me, 
and spare his life — my only child.' In the neighbourhood of Sakarran, the 
Malays inoculated with success both 'their own people and the Dyaks. By 
inoculation the disease was gradually drawing near to Lingga. I wished the 
Dyaks not to inoculate until the appearance of the disease in the country, but 
they had an idea that the Rajah was more mild to those who thus made 
submission to him. So the inoculators came to Banting. They certainly 
have had great success. Out of hundreds who have been inoculated, only 
three have died under the operation. This is independently of two deaths 
from casual smallpox." (Bishop Chambers, Miss. Field ii., Oct., 1857, 
p. 236.) 

In 1868 ** the Sakarang Dyaks behaved disgracefully. No sooner was 
any one taken ill, than off they set, and ran into the jungle, leaving the sick 
to live or die. Sometimes they carried the sick into the jungle and left them 
there. One young man I heard of was carried to the edge of the graveyard, 
and left there with his mother to take care of him. He died ; his mother 
called to the people of her house to come and bury him, but not one would 
perform the friendly office ; she was obliged to pay people from another house 
to bury her son. I thought for some time that there was no one who had any 
medicine, but I found at last that there is an old man I know well, who 
professes to have a charm which causes the pox to subside. At this present 
time he is driving a thriving trade on the credulous. I inoculated his grand- 
children, yet he had this charm. There is nothing like assurance and utter 
deceit for making way among this people. These medicine-men look wise, 
chew some leaves, colour them, spit on the people who are sick, rub them up 
and down, tie a piece of string round the neck, fasten a stone, bone, or piece 
of stick to it, finally ask a high price for the charm, and so get on, and are 
sent for from all parts. To be able to do this they must have a lot of dreams, 
in which the antu tells them of a drug or plant, or stone, bone, pig's, dog's, or 

292 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

deer's tooth, which is in a certain place and possesses certain properties. 
Having first caught their hare, they skin it. They get the tooth, etc., narrate 

their dream, which is the best part of their charm During the 

last month I have inoculated about five hundred, just as I might have 
vaccinated in England ; it does not suit the people far away. They like to 
have the Malays, who practise pretty well upon the people, and make a fine 
thing of it. Had I asked Malay prices, I should have made 180 dollars during 
the month, and that is double my pay as a missionary ; as it is, I simply ask 
a fowl or small quantity of rice as an acknowledgment. You may think the 
people cannot pay : so I thought, till I found out how exorbitantly the Malays 
charge, and how readily the people pay them.'' (Crossland, Miss. Life 
1868, p. 216.) 

But the same missionary, writing three years later of the Undops, says: 
" Nothing could exceed the great care the people took of their sick, and the 
kind way in which they spoke to me. The generality of Dyaks run away and 
leave their sick to live or die. Yesterday, some of my people came home from 
the Lemanak country, where they have been for fruit. They told me the 
Lemanaks left their sick where they died, at the foot of the fruit-trees, simply 
wrapt up in their curtains. It is owing to this want of courage to bury their 
dead that the wild pigs feed on the bodies and then die of the disease. All 
the Undups were properly buried, and I never saw nurses in England take 
more care of the sick." (titrf, 1871, p. 86.) 

** An epidemic of small-pox broke out at Balleh last year (1875) and 
carried off hundreds of people during the ensuing four or five months. 

" The Kayans, Dyaks, and other wild tribes fled into the jungle, 
neglecting their farms, and thus paving the way to a famine. They did not, 
however, escape from the disease, which followed them to their retreats, and 
made an easy prey of the miserable half-starved wretches. 

** Vaccination was proposed, but was at first viewed with more horror 
than the small-pox itself. The natives believed it to be the same as the 
inoculation practised by the Malays, of which they have just cause to be 
afraid, as they say that during a similar epidemic some ten or twelve years 
ago, 50 per cent, of those inoculated died. 

** It was not until the beginning of October, when upwards of 400 deaths 
had occurred, that any one could be persuaded to be operated upon. As 
soon, however, as the efficacy of vaccination had ,been proved, the Fort was 
inundated wnth people of all tribes : Dyaks, Kayans, Punans, Bakatans, 
Skapans, Kajamans, &c., &c., who mingled fraternally together, forgetting 
for a time their old enmities. The disease soon disappeared from the 
district, but there is no doubt that a great deal of want will be felt before 
next harvest. 

** The total number vaccinated up to the present time is 10,489, 3,452 
being by Europeans at Balleh, and 7,037 by a Malay who was sent into the 
Kayan country for that purpose." * (S. G. 125, pp. 4-5.) 

• Bock (p. 71) referring to a portrait of a Poonan in his book, says : " On the arm of the 
younger girl will be seen the marks of a kind of vaccination practised by these people." But is it 
really such a mark, and on what authority is the statement made, he could not speak to them ? 

Pathologv. 293 

** Small-pox from time to time commits terrible havoc amongst them ; 
numbers of Dusuns in Melangkap were deeply pitted by this disease/* 
(Whitehead, p. 109.) 

" When the small-pox was committing sad havoc among those Sea 
Dyak villagers who would not allow themselves to be inoculated, they ran 
into the jungle in every direction, caring for no one but themselves, leaving 
the houses empty, and dwelling far away in the most silent spots, in partijps 
of two and three, and sheltered only by a few leaves. When these calamities 
come upon them, they utterly lose all command over themselves, and become 
as most timid children. Those seized with the complaint are abandoned : all 
they do is to take care that a bundle of firewood, a cooking-pot, and some 
rice, are placed within their reach. On account of this practice, few recover, 
as in the delirium they roll on the ground and die. 

" When the fugitives become short of provisions, a few of the old men 
who have already had the complaint creep back to the houses at night and 
take a supply of rice. In the daytime they do not dare to stir or to speak 
above a whisper for fear the spirits should see or hear them. They do not 
call the small-pox by its name, but are in the habit of saying, * Has he yet 
left you ?' at other times, they call it jungle leaves or fruit ; and at other 
places the datu or the chief. Those tribes who inoculate suffer very little.*' 
(St. John i. 61.) 

** In ordinary sickness the relatives are attentive, but not so, as I have 
said, when there is a sweeping epidemic, as small-pox ; in such cases 
they think it to be useless striving against so formidable a spirit." (ibid 
i. 74.) 

" In many cases of sickness and death, on inquiring the cause, they 
reply, * Pansa antUy' or *A spirit has passed.' This may be otherwise 
interpreted * He possesses a devil.' " (Brooke i. 63.) 

** I forgot to mention an old chief I met on the road during the day. He 
told me there had been a man rushing about the country where I was going 
to and who had been eating men and women. I asked him why they had not 
killed him, but he said they were unable to catch him. I then asked if I 
should have a chance of putting a ball into him, but he stated the man had 
cleared out and gone in the direction of the Paitan river. I discovered next 
day that cholera was what the old gentleman had been aiming at." 
(Von Donop Diary, October 6th.) 

Russian Influenza. 

On the Batang Lupar " Ten Dyak children aged about one year have 
succumbed to the influenza in the Saduku stream. These are the only deaths 
from the influenza that have been reported. It seems that in nearly every 
case of these Dyak children diarrhoea accompanied the influenza and the 
combination was too much for these small mortals. It would appear, 
therefore, that the influenza epidemic is not so bad in the Batang Lupar as 
in other places." (S. G. 1894, p. 68.) 

294 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo. 

Malarial Fever. 

Mr. Von Donop had pointed out to him a small shrub called Lebullyboo, 
the leaves of which are used as a substitute for quinine. (Diary, October 8th.) 

** The Punans when suffering from fever swallow the poison which they 
use for their arrows, and which is regarded by them as a valuable medicine 
when taken internally." (Hose J.A.I, xxiii. 158.) 


** This is a disease which produces a repulsive appearance, causing the 
skin to hang in ragged loose flakes or scales all over the body, excepting those 
parts which are tightly bound round, e.g. the loins. But even here the 
skin, though not scaly is of a very dark unhealthy brown. In some 
subjects, instead of being scaly the appearance is as though a small parasite 
had found its way beneath the surface of the skin, and had tunnelled his way 
all over the body, producing a most beautiful pattern of intertwining spirals 
and circles, like embroidery. The patient suffers very much from irritation 
and itching at certain stages of the disease, which induces scratching and thus 
the skin is torn and loosened. The disease is said to be hereditary, though 
often a generation or tw^o may exhibit no symptoms of it. Still the poison 
appears to be in the system, and it will probably break out again. It may 
also be contracted by using the garments or sitting upon the mats of people 
who suffer from the disease. A scale pr flake of skin may become attached to 
the new subject and the disease may thus be transplanted upon their bodies. 
A native cure consists of a mass of certain leaves all pulped together, with oil 
and soot and then smeared and plastered over the affected parts, and at once 
excluded from the air by various wrappings, first with leaves, then with cloth. 
At certain intervals, these wrappings are taken off, the patient allowed to 
bathe, and then new applications put on again. This process of cure takes 
from one to three months, and even longer, and sometimes it fails altogether.'* 
(F. W. Leggatt.) « 

This disease is mentioned by nearly all travellers. Mr. Denison speaks of 
it at Jagni and Brang (ch. iii. p. 31, ch. vii. p. 80). Mr. Grant refers to it 
(p. 78) and Sir Chas. Brooks calls it the ** offensive skin disease " among the 
Undups. (ii. 85.) Mr. Hornaday writes of it at Simunjan : ** Some had that 
repulsive skin disease called ichthyosis, which causes the epidermis to crack and 
loosen somewhat, and roll up in thousands of minute rolls, giving the otherwise 
dark brown body a grayish appearance." (p. 373.) Mr. Whitehead met with 
it among the Muruts and the Dusuns. (pp. 70, log.) Lieut. De Crespigny 
had previously mentioned it as prevalent with these peoples. (Proc. R. Geogr. 
S. ii. 348 ; Berl. Zeit. p. 330.) He attributed it to bad food. In fact nearly all 
writers agree in considering the unsanitary life and occasional food as largely 
responsible for this disease. (Low, p. 304.) On the Sadong the popular belief 
is that a decoction of leaves of the sulok plant will cure the sufferers, but it 

^ Mr. Earl saw Dyaks with it and some also whom the disease had left with nearly white spots. 
It was not considered infectious, (p. 296.) Mr. S. Muller also met with it (ii. 357), while Mr. 
Bock says the Poonans are especially subject to skin diseases, (p. 213.) 

Pathology^ 295 

rarely succeeds ; again, the hot water cure is also resorted to and drunk at 
nearly boiling pitch, but usually with poor results. (S. G. 1894, p. 121.) 
Natives who have entered the European service have lost it, but the 
disclouration of the skin remains. (Low, 304.) Madame Pfeiffer remarks 
(p* 77) ' ** Besides outbreaks on the skin and ulcers I noticed few diseases 
amongst them. Of the latter the men seem to suffer more than the women.'* 


At Sennah Sir Hugh Low saw a small hut erected in a tree far above the 
ordinary houses of the village and though in sight of at some distance from 
them. He was told it contained a man and a woman who were afflicted with 
a loathsome disease which caused large pieces of their flesh, particularly from 
the extremities, to drop away. They were debarred from all society, never 
permitted to descend and well supplied with food. (p. 305.) Mr. Witti met 
a Dusun whose foot was half rotted away. He adds (Diary, Nov. 25) they are 
free from syphilis, but Sir Chas. Brooke on the Lingga remarks that scrofula 
is prevalent. Leprosy also exists among the Muruts. (De Crespigny, Berl. 
Zeit. p. 330.) ^ 


This is common on the coast and particularly in the low countries. Many 
Europeans including His Highness have suffered from it temporarily. 
(Brooke i. 57.) 


Mr. Denison (ch. vii. p. 90) observed goitre at Brang. Sir Hugh Low 
met with it at Simpio. It grows very large but causes no pain, only 
inconvenience. " I have myself seen young women with them, so long as to 
hang below the breasts, and was informed that amongst other tribes they were 
frequently thrown over their shoulders by the people troubled with them. 
They appear to me to be more frequent amongst the women than the men. I 
did not see them exceed more than two in number on one individual/' * 
(p. 306.) 


" On the Lingga consumption is not uncommon, and children are 
especially subject to it, often with fatal consequences.*' (Brooke i. 57.) The 
Rajah also met with cases of wasting away for which he never could administer 
any complete remedy. (ibid.) " Cases of consumption also exist among 
the Dusuns." (De Crespigny, Proc. R. Geogr. S. ii. 348.) 


This is very frequent among the Land Dyaks, " it occasions loss of sight 
from cataract, though a weakening discharge is the most common appearance." 
(Low, p. 304.) Mr. Hornaday mentions sore' eyes at Lake Padang. (p. 373.) 

"* '* It is no exaggeration to say that every third woman is afflicted with a protuberance in the 
throat, varying from the size of an apple to that of a child's head." (Bock. 213.) 

296 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo. 

On the Lingga the people sufifer most during the weeding of the padi farms 
in September and October. " When neglected, it deprives many of sight, but 
taken in the first instance yields to the mildest remedies." (Brooke i. 57.) 
" The Kanowits suffer because they extract their eyelashes." (St. John i. 39.) 
** On the Limbang sore eyes are perhaps caused by the people crowding over 
their fires at night." {ibid ii. 133.) " While the neighbouring Malays suffered 
the Dusuns at Bongau were quite free from weak and inflamed eyes." (De 
Crespigny, Proc. R. Geogr. S. ii. 348.) 


An insane Dyak once attacked Mr. Everett at Marup on the Batang 
Lupar. " The