Skip to main content

Full text of "Wanderings in the great forests of Borneo; travels and researches of a naturalist in Sarawak"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing tliis resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for in forming people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http: //books .google .com/I 

y Google 


y Google 

y Google 



y Google 

y Google 

y Google 

y Google 






ScD., F.L.M.S., C.M.Z.S. stc. 



Prq/isssy cf Zeelsgy it the Univiriity o/ Flortnci 

F. H. H. GUILLEMARD, M.A., M.D., etc. 



y Google 

y Google 







y Google 

y Google 


TO naturalists generally, but especially to botanists, the author 
of the following pages stands in no need of introduction. 
His work in Borneo, which he here describes, was but the prelude to 
many years of travel and exploration which have found expression, 
in so far as regards their scientific results, in the pages of various 
Societies' pubhcations, and the shelves and drawers of the great 
museums of Italy and other countries — a monument alike to the 
author's botanical and zoological knowledge and his tireless zeal 
as a collector. But while his name is thus famihar to the student of 
science, notably to those who have made the fauna and flora of the 
Eastern Archipelago a special subject of research, it is probably 
less so to what an old translator once contemptuously described as 
" the mere English reader," or— as it would nowadays be phrased — 
the man in the street. To the latter it is only necessary to say that 
no one is more fully quahfied to act as guide to the great island 
amidst whose primeval forests he wandered for so long. Whether 
the scientific reader does or does not admit the vaUdity of all 
Dr. Beccari's theories concerning species-formation, he cannot call 
in question his abundant experience of the country, or his know- 
ledge of the subjects of which he treats. 

Dr. Beccari tells us that nearly forty years have passed away since 
the days of which he writes, and deems an apology necessary for 
so lengthy a hesitation. Certainly, in these days of " steam and 
speed," a forty-year-old description of a country might seem to a 
hasty thinker something more than a little out of date. Were he 
to reject the volume on these grounds, his conclusion would be an 
erroneous one, and he would miss not a little. These vast primeval 
groves, through which the author will guide him so pleasantly, 
secure from mosquito's bite and equatorial temperatures, are to-day 
as they have been from almost the beginning of things. The 
stupendous trees which form them have turned from seedling to 
mould for £eons not to be numbered. Beneath the shade of their 
predecessors the common ancestors of Man and Mayas may have 
wandered ; and though change is touching even the unchanging East, 
and there are such things as volcanoes to be reckoned with, the 
end of the Eomean forest is not, as yet, within sight. It is with 
nature rather than man that Dr. Beccari deals, and nature needs 
somethmg more than a generation to get out of date. For those 

y Google 


desirous of information concerning the political and social condition 
of Sarawak at the present day the author has added a special 

A word is necessary regarding this English presentment of the 
original Nelle Foreste di Borneo. It is not a Hteral translation of the 
latter. Somewhat liberally paraphrased by Professor Gigholi, 
it has at the same time undergone various emendations and 
additions at the hands of the author, while some appendices 
of more or less purely botanical interest have been omitted. For 
the Enghsh rendering the present writer is in great measure 
responsible. He has derived considerable enjoyment from the 
book, for it recalled pleasant memories of his own experiences 
as a wandering naturalist in Bomean jungles some twenty years 
ago. What would he not have given for the companionship in his 
journeys of so skilled a botanist and so enthusiastic a nature-lover 
as the author of this volume ! 


Cambridge, October 1904. 

y Google 


IN Borneo, the largest island of Malaysia, an English Rajah and 
an English Ranee rule with pure autocr&cy a State which in 
area equals England and Wales, and has its fleet and its army, yet 
is without telegraphic communication with the rest of the world ; 
possesses not only no railroads, but no roads, and is clothed by 
dense and interminable forests in which wanders the orang-utan. 
Here the natives live a primitive life, are in part still mere savages, 
true man-hunters, who dehght in hanging in their houses the 
smoked skulls of their human victims, as a homage to imaginary 
supernatural spirits and as a proof of their bravery. This is the 
kingdom of Sarawak, which owes its origin to a man of great gifts 
and a born lover of adventure, Mr., afterwards Rajah Sir James 
Brooke, whose nephew and successor, Sir Charles Brooke, the 
second European Rajah, now governs with a spirit of the truest 
philanthropy, leading his subjects rapidiy along the path of progress 
towards civilisation. In this country, when it was in a much more 
primitive and savage condition, and far less known to the world at 
large, I landed in June 1865, in company with Giacomo Doria, with 
the object of investigating its natural history. After the lapse of 
so many yeg-rs, I should certainly never have dreamt of putting 
together the notes and itineraries of my juvenile travels, if a happy 
chance had not led to my meeting in Florence, with the present 
Ranee, H.H. Lady Brooke, who urged me to the task, assuring me 
that the manners and customs of the people and the very localities 
which I had visited are still to-day what they were then, and, indeed, 
what they have been from times unknown. I may thus venture 
to hope that it will not be thought that the publication of this book 
has been too long delayed, the more so as the subjects to which I 
paid special attention have, not a temporary, but a permanent 
interest, and a large portion of the regions which I explored have 
not been visited since by other naturalists. I have also endeavoured, 
in a separate chapter, to give the reader an idea — as exact as informa- 
tion from authentic sources can render it— of the present condition 
of Sarawak. While I am comforted by the hope that I may in no 
way have to repent of having followed the advice of the charming 
and gifted Queen of Sarawak, I cannot but feel in duty bound to 
express to her my gratitude for the help and encouragement which 
she has so freely given me, and for the permission she has granted 
me of using and reproducing some of the line photographs taken 
by Her Highness during a recent visit to her dominions. 


y Google 

y Google 



The Sarawak River — Kuching— Our House and its Surroundings 
— First Impressions in ihe Forest^A Road over Tree 
Trunks — Leeches— SiUL and Tuan-ku Yassim— Gigantic 
Cicadas — Fig-trees and Birds — An Exploration towards 
Mattang .,,,,..... 


The People at Kuching — Trades and Professions — ^The Chinese 
— ^The Malays of Borneo and their Origin— Arabs and 
IsLAMisM — Hybkidisms — Probable Aborigines in Borneo — 
The Malays a Mongrel Race— Their Physical Characters 
AND Dress 


The Fruits of Sarawak — The Mangosteen and its Habitat — 
Origin of Cultivated Fruits — The Pinang — Our Menagerie 

y Google 



— Monkeys— The Nasalis akd the Shape of the Nose in Man 
— Birds in CAPTiviiY^SNAKEs^FAScrNATED Frogs— The 
Flying Lizard- -Flying Animals — -The Mammals of Borneo 
— Big Game i 


Missions— Bishop MacDougall — Up the Batang-Lupar — The Bore 
— Banteng — Christianised Dyaks — Nepenthes Bicalcarata — 
Simanggan — Undup — The Sea-Dyaks ..... 


On the Serambo Hill — Land-Dyak Village and He.'vd-House— 
PiNiNjAU — PoEPHYRiTic Hills — Teue and False Swifts with 
Edible Nests-Wallace and his Nocturnal Moth-Hunting 
— GuNONG Skun YET— Vegetation of the Secondary Forests 
— Dyak Pathways — Limestone Cuffs and their Caves — The 
DuRiAN — Notes on the Land Dyaks ..... 


Excursion to Mount Mattang — ^Malay Adzes — Cykogale Bennetti 
— In Search of a Road to the Summit— Some Methods of Seed 
Dispersion— Difficulties in Qetting Botanical Specimens — 
How a Forest can be Explored — My Reasons for Climbing 
Mattang — The " Umbut " — Dwarf Palms— Thin Rotangs — 
A Lanko — Sudden Storms — Impressions in the Mattang 
Forest — Phosphorescence and Fireflies— Insects, Flowers 

AND Light — Qoop— Flying -Foxes 


y Google 



New Year's Day in Kuching— The House on Mattang — Ataps — 
Riverside Plants on the Sarawak River^Nibongs, Nipas, 
AND Mangroves — Air-Roots — Seeds which Germinate in 
Mid-Air — Salak and its Geological Structure — The Menka- 
BANG Pi NAN G — V ALLOW BROS A— The Summit os Mattang— A 
Month at Singapore— "Woodlands" — Tigers ^Dori a leaves 
FOR Europe — Return to Mattang — The Hair of a China- 
woman — A Singular Ceremony — I Arrange my House — 
Method of Drying Plants— Height of Some Trees — The 
BiLiAN — Flowering of Trees— The Dipterocarpes on Mattang 
— Primitive Flora ....,.., 


The Flora of the Sea-Shore— Santu bong Peak— Strange Plants 
— Nepenthes Veitchii— Satang — Turtles — Excursion to 
PoE — Austral Character of the Vegetation — More Notable 
Plants — The Rafflesia — Gunong Gading ■ — Freshwater 


At Mattang Again — Wild Bees—An Uninhabited Mountain — 
Antiquity of the Forest — The Name Mattang— An Abunc- 
ANCE of Beautiful Plants — The Age of Trees— Rare Sapro- 
phytes AND Fungi in the Tropics^ Adventitious Plants 
Around the Chinamen's Houses— The Valley of Rotangs — 
Spinous Plants — The Mormolyce — Pityriasis Gymnocephala 

HoENBiLLs— Argus Pheasant and Nocturnal Lepidoptera 

Alone at " Vallombrosa " — A Storm in the Forest 

— Shooting at Buntal 

y Google 



The Southern Branch of the Sarawak River — Diamond Washing 
— Fossils in the Limestone — Rapids — Riverside Plants — 
Pan K ALAN Am PAT — In Search of Coal^Gunong Wa — 
Great Bamboos — A Dyak Banquet — New Kinds of Fruit — 
Roads Beyond the Frontier— Senna — Other Fruits and 
Cultivated Plants^Theemal Springs^Excursions on the 
West Branch of the Sarawak River — The Cave of the 
Winds, " Lobang Angin "..,..., 


On the Batang Luparin Search ofthe Orang-Utan— From Kuch- 
iNG TO LiNGGA on the " Heartsease " — Pulo Burong and its 
Palms — We Ascend the Batang Lupar^ — The Burong Bubut 
—The Ik an Sumpit— A Singul.\r Loranthus — Marop — I 
Take up my Quarters with China me n^Explorations in the 
Neighbourhood — An Albino Woman— My First Orang- 
Utan — Races Amongst the Primates — A Large Specimen of 
" Mayas Tjaping " — Discontent Amongst the Chinamen — 
A Strange Cure— Brief but Successful Hunt . ■ . 


iautiful Butterflies— a Chinese Dinner— The Good and the 
Evil of Opium — A Young Mayas — Excursion to the Tiang 
Laju — A Poisonous Snake— Hill Pigs— Vegetation on the 
Summit of Tiang Laju — Phosphorescence in the Forest— 
Dyak Prejudices — ^The Bear and the Ante— Upas Cloth 
— Nests of Birds — Zoological and Botanical Novelties — 
Wild Bananas — A Disgusting Flower — The Ikan Tion — 
Curious Means of Defence in Cekxain Ants — The Clulut 
AND its Nest— The Supposed Female of Mayas Tjaping — A 
Fortunate Orang Hunt ....... 


y Google 


Start for the Kapuas Lakes — Dyak Gallantry — On the River 
Eant.o — Native Tobacco Manufacture — Carding and Spinning 
Cotton — Brass Workers — Curious Fishery — Rains and Floods 
^■Trial by Water — Ancient Jars— Flooded-out Insects- 
Down the Kantu Again — Navigation in the Forest—In the 
Ump AN ANG— Strange Fishes — Black Water— On the Lakes— 
— The Formation of Coal in Borneo — On the Lampei Hill 
—Lake Plants — Hungry Dogs — Journey Back— Botanical 
Results of the Excursion^Dyak Names — Freshwater Alg^ 
— Orchard Herbs at Marop— Good Cattle Food . . . i 


Different Species of Orang-Utan — Their Habitat, Food, etc. 
—Peculiarities and Habits — The Sumatran Orang — An 
Orang F(etus — Borneo and the Precursors of Man — Adapta- 
tion to Environment — Variability of SPEaEs — A New Theory 
OF Evolutions-Conditions Necessary for the Evolution of 
Man and the Anthropoids— The Humanisation of the Anthro- 
poids — ^The Place of Origin of Man , . . . , 


The Malay Sampan — Excursion to Tanjong Datu— Pulo Sampa- 
DiEN — ^The Dugong — A Pirate's Nest— Ascent of Tanjong 
Datu — Lost in the Forest— Dyak Dogs — ^The Domestic Cat 
of Borneo — The Westernmost Extremity of Borneo— Marine 
Algk — The Return Journey — An Enchanted Hill— An 
Unexpected Nocturnal Visit — Dangerous Food — At Lundu — 
My First Attack of Malaria — Rivers Between the Lundu 
AND the Sarawak . . 


y Google 


The Rotang Yielding Dragon's Blood — Singhi Hill — Notable 
Palms and Their Uses — Across the Forest — Rotang Jer- 
NANG — Manner of Extracting Dragon's Blood — The Liran — 
Singular Fungi — ^A Night Bivouac — Giant Palm Leaves^ 
Dyak Methods of Making Fire — Fishing in Forest Streams 
— Varied Uses of Bamboos — Mobility of the Toes in Malays 
and Dyaks — Notes on the Fishes of the Sarawak River- 
Poisonous Fishes and Singing Fishes — A Thief-Detecting 
FIsh — Fishing with the " Tuba " 


From Labuan to Bkuni on the Rajah's Gunboat — My Malay 
Servants— Lab UAN — Mr. H. Low — The Vegetation at Labuan 
— Ptilocercus Lowii — KiNA Balu and its Nepenthes — Beuni 
— Reception by the Sultan — Decay of the City — Parasites 
IN Oysters — On the Name Borneo — Cumates of Bruni and 


BiNTULU — The Mellanaos — Flotsam and Jetsam ^ Detritus 
Floating on the Sea — Additions to My Collections — India- 
Rubber-Prod doing Creepers— New Sea Plant— Buketans 
AND Pennans — Idols and Tombs of the Mellanaos — Ascent oe 
THE BiNTULu — The Tubao— Tombs and Houses of the Kayans 
— Big Tapang Planks — A Festival — Curious Musical Instru- 
ment — Camphor and the Methods of Extracting it — Funeral - 
Ceremonies — Notes on the Kayans — The Upas and the Pre- 
paration OF THE Poison — Iron Ore — New and Interesting 
Plants — A Singular Bird— The Minuang— Affluents of 
THE BiNTULu — A Wild Durian 

y Google 



Sago Making at Bintulu — Departure for the Interior — A Primi- 
tive Boat — Up the BIntulu River — A Dangerous Adventure 
— We are Forced to Return — The Undang-Undang — An 
Aquatic Fern — Third Departure for the Interior — Sub- 
aqueous Sounds — A Fortunate Meeting — The Pamali on the 
TuBAo — I Force the Pass — With the Kayans — Novel Kind 
OF Idoi, — Ascent of the Tubao— Diseases of the Kayans — 
Influence of Floods on Plants — The Bellaga Hills— On 
the Eejang ......... 


Down the Eejang— The Kayans' Knowledge of the Interior — 
Stenophyllism and its Causes — Camphor Trees— Tama Dian 
AND His Estabushment— The Wild Sago Palm — A Kayan 
Masquerade— The Banteng and other Big Game — On the 
Rapids — Freshwater Alg^ of Marine Type — Sharks and 
Rays in the River — TheTanjong — in the Dyak Country — The 
Ketibas—Kanowit — A Dishonest Trader^At Sibu— The 
Tribes of the Rejang — From Sibu to the Sea— Black Flowers 
— Adventures with Crocodiles — New Palms — Mouth of the 
Igan — Mosquitoes and other Insect Pests — Wild Oranges . 


From the Rejang to the Batang Lui^ae — A Splendid Dyak Type 
— Orang Skull Amongst Human Trophies — A Lucky Gun 
Accident — On the Kanowii — The Ruddy Monkey and Bezoar 
SfONEs — Abnormal Dyaks — A Bird of Good Omen-— Poling 
^Picturesque Scenery — Remarkable Aquatic Plants— A 
Giant Tapang — Manufacture of Sumpitans-— We Begin the 
Overland Journey — Flowers on Roots — A Pigmy Aroid — 
Edible Stones — Rice Fields— In the Sakarrang Valley — 

y Google 


The Milk of the Upas — Dyak Cosmography— Down the 
Sakarrang — A Dyak Cooet of Justice — ^Travel Customs on 
THE Sakaerang — Arrival at Simanggan .... 


From the Batang Lupar to Kuching — Simanggan — A Swampy 
Forest— Ar Banting — Ascent of Mount Lincga — Difficult[es 
BESET our Journey — Astray in the Lagoons of the Lingga — 
Dyak Instrument for Husking Rice — An Experiment with 
Upas Poison— The Kulit-Lawan — Amongst the Sabuyo Dyaks 
— -Marshes with Pandani — From Sumundjang to Samarahan 
—Lost in the Forest — End of the Jo' 


Seasonal Abnormalities and their Effects on Vegetation — An 
Able Trapper — I become Invalided — Excursion to the Auri- 
ferous Districts of Sarawak — At Grogo— Freshwater Pearl 
Oysters — Gold in Caves — The Paku Cave — The End of my 

- Projects— I return to Italy 


Sarawak Ten Years Later— The " Astana," Residence of the 
Rajah — A Glance at the History of Sarawak — Rajah Sir 
James Brooke — The Chinese Rebellion — The Present Rajah 
— Extent and Boundaries of the Kingdom of Sarawak — Our 
Present Geographical Knowledge of the Interior of Borneo 
— Wild Tribes — Absence of Negritos in Borneo — Cannibalism 
and Human Sacrifices — Population of Sarawak — Inter- 


y Google 

COURSE OF THE Chinese with the Island — Archsological 
Discoveries in Sarawak — Stone Adzes — Archaic Writing — 
Products of Borneo — Agriculture — Preservation of the 
Forests — Earthquakes and Volcanic Phenomena — Mineral 
Wealth of Borneo — Kuching— Poutical Divisions of Sara- 
wak — Commerce — Revenue and Customs— Form of Govern- 
ment — Religions and Missions — Conclusions 

The Bornean Forest 

y Google 


Vegetation on a North Bomean River . . Frontispiece. 

Kuching, Sarawat . 

View in the Gardens of the Astana, Kuchii^ .... 

The Chinese Karapong in Kuching ...... 

Inche Bakar, Clerk at the Court of Justice (Malay), Datu Imaun, 
Head of the Mosque at Kuching (of Arab origin). Hadji 
Suden, Member of Council, Kuching (Partly Arab) . 

Figure in Boro Budor Sculptures wearing Sloar 

Figure in Boro Budor Sculptures wearing Sarong 

Fruit of the Mangosteen, Garcinia Mangostana .... 

The Sarawak River from the Astana Gardens . . . , 

Head of Proboscis Monkey, Nasalis larvatus .... 

Sea-iDyaks of the Seribas ........ 

Girl of the Seribas Dyaks wearing the Silver Sisir .... 

Woman of the Seribas Dyaks weaving ... 

landing-Place of the Sea-Dyaks ...... 

Head-House or " Panga " of the Land-Dyaks of Mungo Babi . 

Fruit of the Durian, Durio Zibetinus ..... 

L.and-Dj'ak, wearing Collar of Boars' Tusks .... 

Girl of the Land-Dyaks . 

Nipa Palms, Nipa fmlicans ....... 

Leaves and Flowers of Palaquium Oplimum .... 

Flowers of Palaquium Optimum ...... 

Pitchers of Nepenthes Veitckii . . ... 


y Google 



aj Rafflesia Tuan'Mitdes, Becc. ....... 103 

24 Flowering Branch of the Tapang, Abauria exceha . . . 108 

25 Burmaimiaceie of the Mattang Forest ..... 112 

26 A Bamboo Bridge on the Upper Sarawak . . . . ,127 

27 Land-Dyak Girls ......... 129 

28 Lobang Angin, Upper Sarawak . . . . .133 

29 " Ikan Siimpit " or Sumpitan Fish, Toxodes jaculator . . . 1^0 

30 Adult Male Mayas Tjaping 151 

31 Head of Supposed Female of Mayas Tjaping .... 156 

32 Profile of Supposed Female of Mayas Tjaping .... 157 

33 Interior of Sea-Dyaks" House . 171 

34 Platform of Sea-Dyaks' House . . , . . . . 173 

35 Tajau Jars of the Dyaks 173 

36 Skull of Mayas Kassa .....,,. 196 

37 Skull of Mayas Tjaping ........ 197 

38 Orangs of the Mayas Kassa Race, on a Durian Tree . ... 201 

39 Booes of Left Hand and Left Foot o£ Orang .... 203 

40 Foetus of Orang ......... 206 

41 Fcetus of Orang, side view 208 

42 Dyak Method of Obtaining Fire ...... 235 

43 The West African Oil Palm {Elais Guiniensis) Growing in Labuan 245 

44 Bruni 251 

45 Leuconotis Elastica, Becc. . 261 

46 Orang-Kaya Tumanggong, Kayan Chief of the Barram River . 271 

47 Orang-Kaya Tumanggong (profile) ...... 273 

48 AKinya; with Eyebrows and Eyelashes Extirpated . . 276 

49 A Kinya (same subject in profile) ,..,.. 277 
JO Shooting Monkeys with the Sumpitan 279 

51 Leaves of Bornean Stenophyllous Plants (under surface) . . 299 

52 Tanjong Women Weaving Tambuks with Strips of Rotang . .315 

53 Sidoan Women of the Lower Rejang making Baskets, etc. . . 319 

54 Dyak Method of Boring a Sumpitan 331 

55 Sea-Dyak of the Sakarrang 339 


y Google 


56 S^a-Dyaks of the Batai^g Lapar . 

57 Hand-mill for Hasking Eice . 

58 The Astaoa, Kuching . 

59 Cultivation of Pepper in Sarawak 

60 A Forest Qearing in North Borneo 

61 Mount Kina Bain, .from .the Tampassnk River 


1. Sketch Map OF Borneo ....... To face 17 

2. Map of Part of Sarawak ,.121 

3. Outline Map of Sarawak, showing Routes : 

BY THE Author ..... 

y Google 

The Sarawak River — Kucking — Our House and its Surroundings — 
First Impressions in the Forest— A Road over Tree Trunks — 
Leeches — Siul and Tuan-ku Yassim — ^Gigantic Cicadas— Fig-trees 
AND Birds — An Exploration towards Matianu 

ON April 4th, 1865, 1 embarked at Southampton on the Delhi, one 
of the fine steamers of the P. and 0. Company, and twelve days 
later reached Alexandria, where I met my friend Doria, who came 
from Genoa, The Suez Canal being then non-existent, we crossed 
the Isthmus by rail to join the Indian mail steamer in the Red Sea. 

After the usual stop at Aden, and a quiet voyage over the Indian 
Ocean, we sighted the high land of Ceylon at dawn on May 5th, and 
at 6 a.m. our vessel, the Candia, dropped anchor in the small and 
not too well protected harbour of Point de Galle, The delight with 
which I gazed at this outermost fringe of the continent of Asia — 
perhaps more blessed by Nature than any other part of the world 
— I can hardly venture to describe. The surprise for the traveller 
is all the greater from the fact that, as it were, at a single bound 
he finds himself transported from Europe to the tropics. The 
memory of the sweltering shores of the Red Sea, and the burnt and 
arid crags of Aden, only serve to increase his admiration of the charms 
of this island of perennial verdure. 

In Ceylon we spent some delightful weeks which I need not 
dwell upon here. As a naturalist, finding himself for the first time 
in tropic lands, I was greatly disappointed to have to tear myself 
away from this enchanted isle. But our aspirations were towards 
more distant and less known lands, and on May 20th we bade adieu 
to the island, laden with ineffaceable memories of the delightful 
days we passed on it. Touching at Penang, we ajrived in due course 
at Singapore, and on June 15th found ourselves on the Rainbow, ' 
the Sarawak Government's steamer, carrying the mails between 
Singapore and Kuching, the capital of Rajah Brooke's dominions. 

On the morning of June 19th we were early on deck, for with 
dayhght the mountains of Borneo were sighted. The steajner 
had slackened speed in order not to approach the coast before dawn. 
As the sun rose, the imposing mass of Santubong appeared, like a 
great fortress commanding the entrance to the Sarawak river. 

y Google 


Westward, and not far off, rose the high mountains Gading and Poe, 
and nearer still were the little islands Satang and Sampadien. 
Beyond, the coast-line terminates with the bold outline of Tanjong 
Datu, the frontier of the dominions of Rajah Brooke.' 

TTie crests of Mattang command the land, which we rapidly 
approached, whilst the outlines of new hills and new mountains 
appeared in the background as the morning mists faded away. 
Santubong from the sea looks quite inaccessible; but few bare 
patches of rock were to be seen on its flanks, for it is almost every- 
where clothed with dense vegetation. Huge trees rose from the 
fissures in its rocky sides, and on the enormous branches spreading 
out from their gigantic trunks hanas cUmbed up everywhere and 
hung down in thick festoons of verdure. Before us lay a narrow, 
sandy beach, covered beyond the water-hne with tall casuarinas. 

The Sarawak river is about 450 yards wide at its mouth, but at 
low tide it has a depth of hardly more than nineteen feet on the 
bar. Once inside the river, the few huts of the Malay fishermen 
forming the viUage of Santubong are visible on the mountain side. 
The Santubong entrance to the river is preferable with fine 
weather, whilst with bad weather it is easier to enter by the Mara- 
tabas channel, where there is greater depth and good anchorage 
for big ships. 

Witliin the river mouth the scenery is at first highly picturesque, 
but after passing some hills covered with dense forest this is the 
case no longer. Both banks are covered down to the water's edge 
with the vegetation peculiaj to these tropical estuaries. Most con- 
spicuous are the mangroves {Rhizophora), with bright, shining leaves 
of an intense green, which reflect the sun's rays on their pohshed 
surfaces. Large tracts are entirely covered with the Nipa palm, . 
whose enormous leaves are very like those of the coconut. Beautiful 
as they are, they become extremely monotonous after a time, 
packed closely together and without variation either in appearance 
or height. More elegant are the Nibong palms (Oncosperma filamen- 
tosa), also very abundant, with straight and slender stems, crowned 
with a tuft of dehcate fronds finely divided and' drooping in graceful 

The navigation on the Sarawak river is not dangerous for small 
ships ; there are only two rocks to be avoided near the left bank 
about two and a half miles below the city. From tlais point the 
country, hitherto flat, gradually rises. Malay huts, partly hidden 
by trees, also begin to appear ; but although we are very near Kuching, 
the capital of Sarawak, distant seventeen miles from Santubong, 
the course of the river is so tortuous that no signs of the town can 
' The following words, Tanjong (cape), Pulo (island), Gwnong (mountain), 
Bukit (hill), Sungei (river) and Danau (lake), should be noted as Malay geo- 
graphical terms which of necessity will often occur in these pages. 

y Google 

y Google 


yet be seen. A last point is rounded and a few white houses with 
wide roofs come into view, next the stores of the Borneo Company 
near the water's edge, the Chinese bazaar, and a small wooden fort 
over which waves the Rajah's flag. All this is on the right bank. 
On the left are few houses, but conspicuous amongst them the Astana, 
or palace of the Rajah, painted grey, and situated on a hill which 
overlooks the river. Such was our first view of the capital of 
Sarawak ; but since our visit the town has increased very con- 
siderably in size, and has now some 25,000 inhabitants. 

We were expected at Kuching, and a Government officer boarded 
the steamer at once with a kind invitation from the Tuan Muda 
for us to land and take up our quarters with him. The then Tuan 
Muda — for whom we had special letters of introduction from Sir 
James Brooke, the first European Rajah of Sarawak, whose acquaint- 
ance I had made in London before I started — is the present Rajah, 
H.H. Sir Charles Brooke, nephew of Sir Jaraes.^ He received us with 
courteous and kind hospitahty, which he extended to us during oiu: 
residence in Sarawak, and which I shall ever remember with the 
sincerest gratitude. 

We were lodged in a bungalow not far from the Astana or palace, 
and only a few hundred yards from the primeval forest. The house 
was constructed entirely of wood, somewhat in the style of Malay 
dwellings, resting on piles some five or six feet above the ground, 
thus enabling a man to walk beneath. It consisted of two big rooms, 
with a wide verandah all rourid, from which we had an extensive 
view of the town and its surroundings. The river which flowed 
at our feet is here about 250 yards in width. Its waters are 
turbid and completely influenced by the tides. The Malay 
quarter ( Kampong Malayu) is composed entirely of houses built 
on piles which encroach upon the water along the muddy bank, 
A couple of miles away, in the direction of the Mattang range, 
rises the isolated conical hiU known as Gunong Siul. Across the 
stream, in a south-easterly direction, the green forest covers the 
land as far as the eye can reach, with a distant border formed by 
nigged mountains. Not a village nor even an isolated hut was to 
be seen. 

Such was the country which was to be the field of our explora- 
tions. Nothing better could be wished for by a naturalist— a wild 
and virgin coimtry untouched by man, near a populous and civi- 
lised centre. Here we could study at our leisure the natural products 
of the land, then but little known, and enjoy at the same time most 
of the advantages of civilisation. Later, I travelled over a large 
portion of Borneo, penetrating into its far interior ; I visited also 

^ In Malay the title of "Rajah " corresponds to king, and that of "Ranee" 
to queen. The Crown Prince bears the title of " Rajah Muda " (young king), 
the second heir that of " Tuan Muda " (young sir). 

y Google 


many of the less known islands of Malaysia and New Guinea ; but 
nowhere did I meet with primeval forests so rich, so varied, and so 
peculiar in their flora as in the vicinity of Kuching. 

The reason why so primeval a forest is to be fomid so near a 
populous centre may very naturally be asked. It is more simple 
than at first sight appears. To begin with, the capital of Sarawak 
was formerly much lower down the river, where Santubong now 
lies. Again, it must be remembered that, until lately, the Malay 
population of the Bomean coast-land Uved entirely by piracy, and 
hardly thought of or attempted anything in the way of agriculture ; 
while even those Malays who had settled along the rivers of the 
interior were more often engaged in trying to cheat the Land- 
Dyaks than in cultivating the sod. With the country in a con- 
stant state of war and anarchy, the refuge of pirates from all parts 
of the Indian archipelago, now siding with the Malays now with 
the Sea-Dyaks, agriculture was, in fact, impossible. Yet this was 
the condition of Sarawak before Sir James Brooke came to the 
rescue. It is therefore not surprising that the forest around Kuching 
should be still unmodified over an area of many miles towards the 
interior, and that the Land-Dyaks, more peaceful in their habits 
than the Sea-Dyaks, found it safer to establish themselves in 
less accessible localities, far from the sea and from the Malay 

But I must lay aside the past histor>' of Sarawak to complete 
the description of the neighbourhood of our bungalow, the scene 
of our first scientific explorations. I have already remarked that 
the primeval forest was on one side close to our house. No kind of 
pathway, however, led to it, and in order to reach it a dense scrub 
had to be crossed which had grown where the old trees of the 
forest had been destroyed. The flora of this scrub was very 
uninteresting, and after the first day got none of my attention. 
Westwards, however, in the direction of Mattang, only a short 
stretch of bare ground intervened, and a good path led at once 
into the great forest. Our bungalow was in the midst of park-like 
ground, the meadow patches being formed by a small grass (Andro- 
fogon aciculaius, Retz.), the well-known "love grass" of Anglo- 
Indians, so called because its prickly glumes or ears are easily 
detached and fasten themselves on the dress of the passer-by in 
the most tenacious and inconvenient manner. Round the Rajah's 
palace the gardeners are continually cutting it, and have succeeded 
in converting it into fine, green, soft and close-cropped lawns. In 
Sarawak this " love grass " is the only plant with which lawns can 
be made, and when well kept the inconvenience caused by the 
seeds and their involucra is much diminished. The plant, which is 
a stranger to Borneo, as are nearly all the grasses found there. 
owes its wide diffusion to its tenacious and too affectionate ears. 

y Google 


Around the bungalow, but farther off, where the ground was left 
uncultivated, other kinds of grasses grew. Of these the most per 
nicious was the " Lalang " or " Alang-alang,'" the Imferata 
arundinacea of botanists, which destroys every other plant where it 
grows, I need not speak of it at present, but on more than one 
occasion I shall have to mention this pest in the following pages. 
More interesting were the bushes of the " Onhodok " of the Malays 
{Melasloma obvolutum, Jack.}, with big, rosy flowers of great beauty, 
and, where the soil was damper, clumps of Dillenia (Wormia), 
suffruticosa. Griff.), the " Simpor " of the Malays, were most con- 
spicuous on account of its large leaves and huge golden flowers, 
often five and a half inches in diameter. 

A little stream, issuing from the jungle and running into the 
river just below our house, was crossed by a wooden bridge. Fol- 
lowing it a pathway led to a hiU on which once stood the Rajah's 
residence, burnt to the ground in 1857, during the historic mutiny 
of the Chinese, which very nearly overthrew the young kingdom, 
and in which theRajah, Sir James Brooke, narrowly escaped with his 
life. Our bungalow was one of the few European residences which 
were not destroyed during the revolt. 

Some of the land lying between our house and the forest was 
partially cultivated with plantations of sweet-potatoes, bananas, 
}^m, pineapples, etc., which were evidently recent. These orchards 
■were cared for by the " Orang Boyan," ^ or more correctly 
" Bawean " — Javanese who come from a small island north of 
Madura and are considered in Borneo the best field-labourers. In 
the midst of these plantations a few trees of the old forest 
were still remaining, some yet living ^giants with their first 
branches springing from the trunks a hundred feet or more from 
the ground — but most of them dead, and their bare limbs battered 
and broken by the winds. On some of these large epiphytes were 
still growing, such as figs, Pandani and ferns. Amongst the latter 
the great elk's-hom (Platycerium grande), on account of its singular 
conformation and the diversity in shape of its fronds, was by 
far the most notable. 

The trees which go to form the great forests of Borneo are not 
adapted to remain isolated, although in most cases provided at 
their bases with broad expansions in the shape of buttresses wfuch 
widen considerably below and contribute greatly to the stabihty of 
the trunk. If each tree could grow without having others near it 
its trunk would branch sooner and not grow to so great a height 

>■ Orang in Malay means " man." The " Orang Boyan " are thus the 

natives of the island of Boyan, as " Orang Ingris " are the English, " Orang 

Blanda " the Dutch, " Orang putth " or " white men," all Europeans, " Orang 

Dayak " the Dyaks, " Orang Malayu " the Malays, etc. 


y Google 


as it does, struggling for light and air in the company of its fellows. 
Thus the enormous height of the trunk is a direct consequence of 
the number of other trees in its vicinity competing for the ground 
on a restricted area, each individual striving to outgrow its neigh- 
bours in order to place its foliage in the best possible conditions. 
As long as these giants of the vegetable world are associated in 
large numbers so as to form a forest, they prop each other up recipro- 
cally and have good stability. But as soon as a forest tree is isolated 
by the destruction of those which grew around it, it cannot long 
resist the violence of the winds, and is soon mutilated and perishes. 
In the forest the roots of the trees are also in a peculiar condition 
of existence, so that they are unable to withstand the destruction 
of the surrounding timber. The soil, which before was always damp 
and shady, becomes abruptly exposed to great variations both 
in temperature and moisture. Moreover, on account of the thick 
stratum of rich humus which forms the surface layer of the primeval 
forest, the roots of the trees grow out superficially instead of down- 
wards. This circumstance, which on the one hand must have con- 
tributed to the formation of the basal buttress-like expansions of 
the trunks, explains on the other how isolated trees can easily be 
overthrown by the wind, owing to the absence of deep roots, 

I was impatient to see something of the country, and the morning 
after our arrival, followed by a few native lads, I took my way 
along the path I have mentioned which led directly into the.forest — 
a dense assemblage of trees, some gigantic in size, some slender, 
cylindrical, and devoid of branches to a considerable height. Their 
foliage high up, compactly united, formed a dense green vault, 
occasionally pierced by a stray sunbeam, marking its way across 
the hot, damp air. Lesser plants and bushes, of many kinds and 
varied aspect, struggled below for air and light amidst the bigger 
trees. The ground was covered by an intricate and confused mass of 
branches and fallen trunks of aged trees, decayed and enveloped 
with mosses ; and a host of plants, all new to me. Not a single 
stone did I see uncovered. The fallen leaves heaped together 
formed a thick layer, which decomposition converts into a rich leaf- 
mould wherein other plants flourish in the shade caused by the larger 
ones. It hardly required any botanical experience to recognise a few 
palms in the multiform vegetable crowd surrounding me. Of these 
some had fan-like leaves {Licuala\ and others showed elegant pin- 
nated fronds, springing from a long and slender trunk iPinanga): 
But few gaudy flowers indeed were to be seen ; only here and there 
a solitary Ixora ventured to colour with its deep red blossoms the 
per\'ading dark green of the forest. The big aroids, Freycinetias, 
and Pandani with long, hanging leaves, together with ferns, orchids 
and hosts of epiphj^es which it is impossible to enumerate, find 
ways and means of existence, as exiles from the soil, high up in the 

y Google 


air, holding on by their roots to the bark of the veterans of the 

For a few hundred yards the path was fairly good and dry, but 
if one wandered from it one was often brought up short by the 
sharp hooked thorns of the rotangs (Calamus), the climbing palms 
so characteristic of the forests of Malaysia, The ground was 
undulating, and gradually rose on the right, but on the left it sloped 
towards the river and soon became marshy. Farther on was a 
streamlet with sluggish waters, clear, but of the colour of strong 
tea. In such hollows, where one sinks up to the knees in the black 
mire formed by the decomposition of the fallen leaves, the types 
of vegetation were very varied. Numerous lianas with singular 
stems tightly twisted together ran along the ground, then climbed 
rampant over the trees, to shoot up far beyond their tops. From 
the bare trunks of these lianas bunches of flowers and masses of 
fruit often project, without the least trace of leaves, looking as if 
they were attached to the ropes of a ship. Here also grew various 
small trees and singular shrubs, some with stems supported by high 
roots, as if wishing to be lifted from the miry soil. One amongst 
them, a new species of Archyt^a, had a tall but slender stem which 
appeared as if raised on high stilts, and its head was entirely covered 
with beautiful blossoms of a camelha-like red. This plant (one of 
the Temstrcemiacese, P.B., No. 319), not having yet received a 
name, may be known as Archyt<Ba {Plojanum) fulcherrima ; it is 
easily distinguished from the well-known species A. elegans by its 
much larger flowers. This was one of the few small trees which, 
under the shade of the big ones, bore flowers of a bright colour. 
Another very curious small tree not scarce in that locality belonged 
to the Anonacea; {Polyalthia, P.B., No. 2,277), ^*th the stem 
clothed from the base to the bigger branches with stellate flowers 
of a salmon red. The number of plants new to science which I 
subsequently found in this small tract of forest was truly wonderful. 
Continuing to advance, the path grew worse. Hardly a foot of 
dry ground was met with, but the pathway was traced out, and 
was an example of many such in Borneo. It had been made by 
order of the Tuan Muda not long before, and led to Siul, the small 
conical hill which could be seen from our house. Where the ground 
was rising and dry, the forest could be easily crossed ; but in the 
hollows the water accumulates, and the vegetation is so dense as 
to be quite impenetrable. In order, therefore, to make a pathway, 
big trees are cut by the natives so as to fall in the direction required ; 
the branches are then lopped off and the trunks adjusted in a con- 
tinuous line. Thus a path is laid down over a line of prostrate 
tree trunks, or " batang," as the Malays call them, even for many 
miles ; but, naturally, it is hardly a level and smooth one, although 
much can be done in this way by filling the gaps with smaller trunks 

y Google 


and branches tied down with rotangs and fixed with stakes driven 
into the ground. Such pathways when recently constructed can be 
travelled over rapidly enough when one has learnt how to do so 
with bare feet, but a novice can only acquire the art after the 
experience gained by frequent falls. 

The road to Siul was for the most part of this kind, but being 
some months old the trunks, owing to the prevailing damp heat 
and frequent rains, were becoming decayed. Many had lost their 
bark on the exposed side, and this was rendered extremely shppery 
by a thin coating of a minute alga. Such trunks were not at all easy 
to cross without slipping off, for they were as greasy as if they had 
been well soaped. I soon learnt that thick-soled boots were highly 
inconvenient for travelling along the pathways of a Bomean forest, 
and found thin-soled cloth shoes better adapted to the task ; for 
although they cannot prevent one getting wet feet, they afford a 
certain amount of protection Eigainst thorns. 

The inconvenience and trouble of travelling along these path- 
ways^the only means of crossing the forest marshes^is, however, 
amply compensated to a naturalist, and especially an entomologist, 
by the abundance of insect life. That narrow luminous streak, 
where the sun rays are not intercepted by the dense foliage overhead, 
is frequented by myriads of insects, especially butterflies ; too often, 
alas ! not easy to catch. Amongst those which were to me par- 
ticularly tantalising were certain big Hestias, with silvery transparent 
wings, which kept fluttering some fifty feet or more above ray head 
without ever corning within reach. At last in despair I fired at 
them with dust shot, and was thus able to get one. 

On the trunks and branches recently cut down, one was pretty 
sure of making large captures of coleoptera of the longicom and 
Curculio families ; and on the damp, rotten surface of trees which 
had been long dead, mucilaginous planarians glided along. More 
rarely a carab was to be seen, conspicuous by its metallic tints 
and slow gait ; and shiny myriapods of a vivid chestnut hue 
[Sph^eropceus sulcaiulus), which, on the slightest vibration, curled 
themselves up, forming a ball of the size of a large musket bullet, 
and thus rolling off to the ground. Under the bark a rich catch of 
insects was easily made, mostly of dull colours and with depressed 
bodies. The mycologist, too, was sure in such places of a fine collec- 
tion of Polyporus, Hypoxylon. TremeUa, Xylaria and other kinds 
of cryptogams. At times interminable columns of termites or white 
ants (which are, nevertheless, not white but brown) would be met 
with, crossing the path in serried ranks in a sinuous Hne, looking 
not unhke a never-ending serpent. It is not improbable that from 
these termite processions arose the oft-repeated tale that the 
forests of Borneo harbour snakes of such enormous length that 
they never come to an end. 

y Google 


Among the greatest pests oi these forests are the leeches {Hemi- 
dipsa) known to the Malays as Unia ; they are very numerous in 
some localities and excessively troublesome. There are two species : 
one keeps on the bushes and attaches itself to the passer-by on the 
slightest contact, getting especially on the hands and neck ; the other, 
which is still more frequent, lives on the ground, and gets on the 
feet and legs. There is no way of avoiding them ; they get into the 
shoes and under the stockings, and, fastening especiaUy round the 
ankle, gorge themselves with blood before one is aware of their 
unwelcome presence. In Sarawak there are also other kinds of 
leeches— large aquatic ones, I was told that one species {Limnotis 
\ lowei, Baird) occasionally gets into the intestine of persons bathing, 
■ depositing its eggs there, and causing death, but I cannot guarantee 
the truth of the assertion. I can only say that the leech in question 
is very swift in its movements, and adheres strongly to the part 
where it attaches itself, soon getting enormously distended with 
blood. It frequents dear running water, and in certain localities 
on the Upper Sarawak river the natives abstain from bathing on 
its account. Another species of leech said to be equally dangerous 
frequents the turbid waters around Kuchmg. I did not, however, 
succeed in getting specimens of it. 

Our lirst excursions in the forest were necessarily short, for we 
very soon collected a suiificient number of specimens to occupy 
us several hours in their preparation. But I very soon felt impelled 
to penetrate farther, and one morning I made up my mind not to 
be tempted by anything along the road, but to reach Siul. I took 
my gun and w^ent alone, so as to enjoy fully the beauties of the forest. 
I had now some days' experience in travelling over the tree-trunks, 
and I confess that I was surprised and gratified to find how rapidly 
I could get along. Success, however, made me less cautious, and 
I had several falls before, after about an hour's tramp, I reached 
the foot of the isolated cone of Siul, happily with no bad conse- 
quences. Here, from a solitary hut built in the midst of a small 
plantation of pineapples, a native came out to meet me. He was 
dressed in a short jacket and trousers reaching only to the knees, 
and a long knife or parang hung at his side. I thought at first that 
I had met with a Dyak head-hunter, but I was very much mistaken. 
How easy it is for the inexperienced traveller to commit such mis- 
takes, and how many such are transmitted to posterity as first 
impressions in new countries ! On my return, during luncheon with 
the Tuan Muda, T learnt that my Dyak was no less than a " Sereib " 
or " Tuan-ku," the title given in Sarawak to supposed descendants 
of the Prophet.^ But on meeting him at Siul I fully believed lum 
to be a Dyak, and eyed him with a certain amount of diffidence, for 
1 " Tuan-ku " in Malay is in reality a title given to persons of high rank 
and to princes. " Tuan " merely means sir or master. 

y Google 


the thought struck me that he might take a fancy to my head. 
Having my gun I felt somewhat reassured ; but I very soon found 
out that the supposed head-hunter was a very civil fellow. 

It is well known to travellers in the Far East how courteous and 
gentlemanly the Malays are. This one, who rejoiced in the name 
of Tuan-ku Yassim, very soon became my best guide in the forest. 
He was a good hunter, an excellent shot, and perfectly acquainted 
with jungle life ; ' quite as much so, indeed, as a Dyak, for to the 
experience of a true son of the forest he added no small degree 
of intelligence. His features, except, perhaps, the eyes, scarcely 
betrayed his Arab descent, but he had no doubt a goodly pro- 
portion of Malay and Dyak blood in his veins. 

Tuan-ku Yassim, who was always called by us the Tuan-ku of 
Siul, procured quite a number of animals for our collections : 
monkeys, squirrels, tupaias, various striking birds, amongst them 
hombills and big fruit-pigeons {Carpophuga cenea), the pergam of 
the Malays, and many others. Living in the midst of the primeval 
forest, he had the best possible opportunities for collecting. One 
cannot easily get natives to collect small birds, ho'we\'er, and these 
were got by Doria. I also helped in such collections, and always 
carried my gun during my daily excursions in the forest. We also 
came to know a Javanese, named Sennen, who lived near us — a 
patient hunter who added many fine birds to our collection. 

Frequently towards evening Doria and I took our guns and 
went towards the recent clearings, which were full of life at that 
hour, especially the big isolated trees left standing amongst the 
pineapple plantations. The waning of the day, usually a silent 
hour in temperate climes, is in Borneo marked by the commence- 
ment of a concert of noisy cicadas, who in legions fill the 
air with their deafening and varied clamour. One species 
{Pomponia imperatona ; West.), which the Malays have named 
" kriang pohul anam" or the " six o'clock cicada," is a 
giant ; one of the specimens we got measured nearly 7§- inches 
across the wings. It begins at sunset, and the noise it makes 
is not unhke the braying of an ass in high treble, and can be 
heard at a distance of many hundred yards. As soon as the cicadas 
begin their concert, flights of elegant long-tailed parakeets (Palteornis 
longicauda) appear in search of a roosting-place on the higher trees. 
This was also the favourable time for observing a diminutive hawk 
(Hierax canilescens) which, from the top of one of the highest' 
dry branches of a tree, darted forth ever and anon to seize a passing 

' The " jungle " of Anglo-Indians is not always an exact equivalent for 
the primeval forest, but often implies a region run wild and covered by 
secondary forest- growth. The term is not derived from the Malay language, 
although it is used in the form of " Jangala." but is the Sanscrit word for 
wild and desert. 

y Google 


insect, returning to its perch to devour its quarry at leisure. It 
also preys on small birds, showing a boldness hardly in keeping 
with its lilliputian size. It certainly is one of the smallest of the 
Raptores, being scarcely larger than a sparrow ; its plumage is of 
a silky black with greenish sheen ; the under parts are white, and 
altogether it is a liner bird than most of its allies. 

When the short twihght came on, it was not unusual to see 
dark creatures jump noiselessly off from the bigger isolated trees, 
perform a singular reversed parabolic flight, and alight on another 
tree some thirty yards away, which they struck always lower than 
the height they had started from, though they at once scrambled 
up to about the same level. These were the great flying-squirrels 
(Pteromys nitidus). The wide expansions of skin which extend 
between the fore and hind hmbs on either side are spread out when 
they take their leap, and act as an admirable parachute. 

We soon found out that certain trees which appeared to be a 
great attraction to birds were fig-trees, covered with ripe fruits not 
bigger than a pea. These trees, which are named " Kayu ara," 
are not ordy of many species in Borneo, but are all abundant ; their 
fruits afford food to heterogeneous animals, but more especially to 
birds. ' The Fid of Borneo show quite a series of adaptations, both 
in shape and size, to varied biological conditions, and well deserve 
special investigation. 

The species of Ficus mentioned above as a great attraction to 
birds — a Urostigma — had small leaves, and its branches came from 
a large and very tall trunk, upon which, as an epiphyte, it had 
originally grown. It spread over an immense area, Fhght suc- 
ceeded flight amidst its wide branches, but we had to wait patiently 
until a bird showed itself clear to be able to shoot. If one fell the 
others paid no attention. Many shots were fired without any 
effect, on account of the great height of the branches, which were 
for the most part beyond the range of our guns. The birds which 
frequented these trees were mostly of brilliant colours ; amongst 
them several species of barbet abounded (Chotorea, XantholcBma, and 
Calorhamphus), of which we were able to collect many specimens. 

There may be exceptions, indeed, possibly many, but it appears 
to me that birds which frequent the forests of tropical countries 
and feed mostly on brightly coloured fruits, have a brUliant plumage 
in which bright yellow and red predominate. Green is also a 
• frequent colour in the plumage of these birds ; and perhaps it was 
originally not merely assumed in defensive mimicry, but as a sort 
of instinctive sympathy with the surrounding predominant tint. 

1 " Kayu " means tree in MaJay, and is prefixed to the specific name of 
any kind. The words Biinga (flower), Bna (fruit), Akar (root or liana), are 
preposed in a similar r 

y Google 

y Google 


The Mattang mountain, which I could see clothed in its mantle 
of green each day from our verandah, was an irresistible attraction 
to me, and I decided to climb its heights as soon as possible. The 
Tuan Mnda told me that it was no easy task, as in that direction 
no pathway led through the forest, which was stated to extend for 
nearly ten miles over low and marshy land, and thus to be most 
difficult to cross. At the time we did not know that by following 
certain winding estuaries hidden amongst the mangroves it was 
possible to reach the foot of the mountain in a canoe. I 
had suggested to the Tuan Miida to have a pathway laid down 
by Dyaks. Meanwhile, on the morning of July gth, with Tuan-ku 
Yassim and a few Malays, I decided to attempt to explore the 
forest beyond Siul. We only took our guns and provisions for a 
meal in the forest. I had already several times travelled the road 
between Kuching and Siul, and was pretty certain that no important 
novelty could cause me to delay on the way. But beyond Siul all 
was unknown country, not only to me, but also to the Tuan-ku, 
although he lived so near. 

We rounded Siul — at whose foot, in several places, the forest had 
been thinned, and a fine tree-fern, Ahofhila contaminans, had 
multiplied— but we soon entered the primeval forest, and then, 
compass in hand, made our way towards the Mattang mountains, 
steering for the higher peak, the bearing of which I got by sending 
one of my men to the top of a tree. The forest could hardly have 
been wilder and denser. It is possible that Malays or Dyaks had 
previously gone into it in search of gutta-percha or rotangs, but 
no trace of any path could be seen, nor that human feet had ever 
trodden its soil. Even the Malays, however, rarely attempt to pene- 
trate the primeval forest beyond a mile or two from the river banks. 
The ground was at hrst rising and dry, and the spaces between the 
forest giants were covered with young specimens of these big trees, 
and by an immense and varied host of other plants which coijld not 
emulate the latter in the struggle for existence. On the ground lay 
enormous prostrate trunks which in a few years, or, it may be, in 
a few months, were once more to give back to the soil that which 
during hundreds of years they had taken from it. In such a forest 
our progress was very slow ; obstacles had to be avoided, and we 
had to cut our way through with parangs. I had early laid aside 
my European hunting-knife, and had adopted this very handy 
Malay weapon, which is indeed invaluable in forest travelling. We 
cut steadily through the intricate mass of vegetation which barred 
onr way, the worst obstacle being the thorny leaves of the Calami 
{rotangs}, with their whip-Uke appendages covered with hooked 
spines destructive alike to our skin and dress. In addition to 
cutting down the bushes and such like, one takes the precaution of 
bending them down in the direction to be followed — a simple plan of 

y Google 


marking the way, but indispensable in forest travelling, to prevent 
getting lost. Even when such travelling is comparatively easy 
because the vegetation is less dense, it is prudent to keep marking 
the way thus. Those who have never known these forests could 
hardly believe how easy it is to lose oneself. 

In the forest, as on the ocean, the horizon closes up behind 
as one progresses, with this difference, that in the forest the horizon 
is only a few feet distant. Forest travelling inspires greater 
fear than sea or desert travelling, for here the sun by day and 
the stars by night are sure guides. But in the Bornean primeval 
jungle the sky is invisible, and if a few sun-rays now and then 
filter through the dense foliage overhead, they are useless in teUing 
the direction to be followed. Again, in deserts or extensive plains 
it is rare indeed not to find some prominent object which can be 
used as a sign-post to mark the way. In the forest the world 
appears to close in behind us, the fear of advancing grows with the . 
thought of not being able to turn back, and the unknown generates a i 
sense of horror. I think it very probable that many ajiimals feel this 
same impression of fear and horror that man does at the thought/ 
of losing himself in a forest. And it is possibly this which causes ar 
marked restriction in the geographical range of the forest faima 
when compared with that of deserts, steppes, or plains. 

During certain hours of the day a strange and impressive calm 
pervades the forest. Nature appears to have gone to sleep in her 
own domain, and hardly a sound or a cry can be heard denoting the 
presence of living creatures. But the Bornean forest is so varied 
and so different at different hours and seasons that no description 
can possibly convey an adequate idea of it to those who have not 
known it. Infinite and ever changing are its aspects, as are the 
treasures it hides. Its beauties are as inexhaustible as the variety 
of its productions. In the forest, man feels singularly free. The 
more one wanders in it the greater grows the sense of profound 
admiration before Nature in one of its grandest aspects. The 
more one endeavours to study it, the more one finds in it to study. 
Its deep shades are sacred to the devotee of Science. Yet they 
afEord ample food for the mind of the believer, not less than to that 
of the philosopher. 

We proceeded slowly, compass in hand, through the forest, 
thinking we had made more progress than was actually the case. 
The marshy nature of the ground and the matted vegetation of 
rotangs, screw-pines, Mapania, and other big herbaceous plants with 
spinous leaves, greatly hampered our movements. In these 
localities Nepenthes rafflesiana is frequently met with — one of those 
singular pitcher-plants for which Borneo is renowned, with large, 
blood-stained ampullse filled with water, depending from a thread 
at the extremities of the leaves. 

y Google 


We had left Siul about three hours when we reached a shghtly 
rising ground covered with a vegetation different from that of the 
surrounding forest, and especially marked by the presence of two 
conifers, Dacrydium elatum and the umbrella casuarina (C 
sumatrana ?), besides other shrubs, trees, and ferns which we had 
not met with previously in the forest, even a few paces off. 
The Malays name such patches of different vegetation " Mattang," 
and consider them sacred and inhabited by spirits. There are 
several of them in the neighbourhood of Kuching. One of the ferns 
always to be found on the mattang is the lovely Polypodium 
dipteris, Bl., and Nepenthes are also often met with. 

Our progress was almost immediately after this arrested by a 
watercourse ten or fifteen yards wide and very deep, with singularly 
dark brown water. On this mattang the trees were less lofty 
than elsewhere, and the shade, on account of the pecuhar fohage 
of the conifers just mentioned, less dark. The Tuan-ku climbed up 
a tree, helping himself with a liana, and was thus able to see that we 
had hitherto followed the right direction, but also that we had 
hardly got through one third of the distance. We had travelled at 
the rate of rather over half a mile an hour ! 

It was near noon, and we took advantage of the dry spot to eat 
our rice. To push on farther was difficult, for we had to find a 
means of crossing the stream. My object was, however, in a 
measure attained, and I had seen enough of the forest to know the 
sort of difhculties I had to contend with in crossing it. Big streams 
could hardly be met with ; most probably the one we had seen was 
the biggest, and this could easily be got over by cutting down one 
of the trees growing on its banks, so as to make it fall across and 
act as a bridge. We accordingly turned homewards, laden with a 
large collection of botanical specimens. Many, however, I had to 
leave ungathered, it being difficult to reach them ; but these were 
all noted and destined for collection at some future day, and the 
completion of my rapidly increasing herbarium. 

y Google 

y Google 

The People at Kuching— Trades and Professions — The Chinese — 
The Malays of Borneo and their origin— Arabs and Islamism — 
Hybridisms — Probable Aborigines in Borneo — The Malays a 
Mongrel Race— Their Physical Characters and Dress. 

HAVING decided on a prolonged stay in Sarawak, and finding 
that Kuching lonned an excellent centre whence excursions 
could be made in all directions, we took measures to set up house 
for ourselves, not wishing to encroach too much on the Tuan Muda's 
kind hospitality. We engaged a Chinese cook and a " tukang 
ayer," or water-carrier, who was also a Chinaman, and each of 
us engaged besides a Malay " boy," or body-servant. Mine was 
named Ismael ; Doria's, Kassim. We also bought a sampan, or 
boat, in order to be able to cross tlie river whenever we desired, 
and hired two Malay boatmen. In addition to these, I had to engage 
several men to fell trees when in blossom, this being the only way 
of getting botanical specimens of such nature. ^ 

In Sarawak the different trades and professions are in the'^ 
hands of persons of various nationahties. The best carpenters 
and smiths are Chinese, who, it must be said, do many khids of 
work. Tlius the principal merchants, vendors of eatables, cooks, 
tailors, water-carriers, and porters are all Chinese. The Malays, 
true seamen, do the fishing and small maritime trade ; they are 
also woodsmen, felhng trees and preparing timber, and exploring 
the forest in search of its natural products — rotangs, resins, gutta- 
percha, india-rubber, oil-seeds, etc. The washermen, the hair- 
dressers for Europeans (tukang chukor), tinkers, and a few 
merchants and shopkeepers, are Hindus or Klings. 

The best agriculturists in Sarawak are again Chinese ; but the 
European residents mostly employ as gardeners Javanese and 
the already-mentioned Orang Boyan, and Khngs (natives of the 
Malabar coast), who also act as cow-keepers, taking charge of 
the few head of cattle, mostly milch cows, which the country can 
boast of. I often admired the splendid pigs bred by Chinese, 
who certainly excel in the art of fattening these animals. Amongst 
other food they give them an aquatic plant, the so-called water- 
lettuce {Pistia stratiotes), grown purposely in swamps and pools, 
and boiled. 

17 c 

y Google 

y Google 


At present the mixed population of Sarawak does not amal- 
gamate, and each minds his own business, looks after his special 
trade, and professes his own religion. But in time it is hardly 
possible that no mixture should take place in this heterogeneous 
assemblage. The Chinese population keeps quite distinct, and 
especially so from the Malays, partly on accoimt of religious anti- 
pathy, and partly because there is a constajit immigration of 
new elements. Otherwise the Chinese mix easily with other 
people, for they can get only few of their own women, and must 
therefore intermarry with the natives of the land where they have 
come to settle. They are beyond doubt the most active, indus- 
trious, laborious, and enterprising element in the population of 
Sarawak ; and, foremost in the inveterate vice of opium-smoking, 
cause more money to circulate than the more sober Malay. They 
are thus in every way a source of considerable revenue to the local 

The Orang Malayu, or Malays of Borneo, like those settled 
on the coasts of the Malayan peninsula and of the Indian Archi- 
pelago generally, are the result of very different ethnic elements. 
Every individual who qualifies himself as an Orang Malayu 
is a Mussulman, and speaks Malay. The Mussulmans of Sarawak 
all belong to the " Sunni," or orthodox sect, and the aristocracy 
amongst them, the chiefs and their families, show Arab descent. 
Tlie fact that the Malays are Mussulmans is plain evidence that 
the Arabs were the original introducers of the religion of Mahomet 
in these lands. 

It appcEirs that Arabs were formerly more numerous in Sarawak 
than they are at present, and there can be no doubt of the very 
great influence they have exerted on the littoral populations 
of Borneo.' Low writes that the Arab Sareib-Saib, his brother 
Sareib-Mulla, and their relations, often used to send parties of 
Sea-Dyaks into the interior to carry off as many young women 
of the Land-Dyaks as they could get. It is said that in one such 
raid as many as 300 were carried off. 

And again, these very Arabs who came to settle in Borneo 
were doubtless by no means always of pure descent, and the blood 
of negroes and other races probably flowed in their veins. 
For do not all tradesmen and merchants, from Zanzibar to the 
Persian Gulf, who profess Islamism call themselves Arabs, and 
often give themselves the title of " Sareib " or ■" Seriff," pretend- 
ing to be descendants of the Prophet ? 

This shows how dangerous it is in Borneo to take one of the 

headmen or chiefs as an ethnic type of a given tribe, as they are 

often of foreign origin. For instance, it is well known that on 

the Seribas river the chiefs are nearly all of Arab descent. On- 

' Low. Sarawak: Its Inhabitants and Productions', pp. 118, 119-23. 

(. . 19 

y Google 


the other hand, even the common people m Borneo, on account 
of prevalent piracy, raids, and slavery, must necessarily be greatly 
mixed. On large continents and with great masses of population 
such causes can only act slowly and moderately in changing the 
general aspect of the people ; but in Borneo, where the population 
is small and surrounded by different elements, the case is different, 
and raids and piracy are factors which have to be taken into con- 


(Reading from I^It to Right.) 

sideration. In such countries, where slavery exists, and more 
especially where a dominant and superior race is in contact with 
an inferior one, the ethnic Xy^^ is soon modified, for the progeny 
becomes part of the family, and the descendants interbreed. 

Returning to the foreign elements which have contributed to 
form the present Malay population of Sarawak, I may quote Mr. 

y Google 


St. John, who tells us that when the town of Kuching was located 
nearer the sea at Santubong, it was attacked by a fleet of Pegu 
pirates, who carried off all the women, the majority of the men 
being absent on an expedition.^ But the latter returned in time 
to pursue the ravishers, and their swift boats quickly overtook the 
heavy prahus of the Peguans, who were soon defeated and cap- 
tured. Thus the Malays not only recovered their women, but 
carried back to Sarawak as slaves the Pegu pirates, with the excep- 
tion of the chiefs, who were slain. In Sarawak there is still 
a tradition that some of the Malays of Samarahan, and also 
of Kuching, are descendants of these Peguans. 

It is also undeniable that a certain proportion of the Malays 
of Sarawak and other parts of Borneo came originally from 
Sumatra, and from the Malay Peninsula. But the Malays of 
Malacca, who are considered typical and of pure descent, must 
undoubtedly have been influenced by the geographical position 
of the peninsula, along which the people of India, Burma, Siam, 
and Cochinchina would naturally pass on their way to the islands 
of the Indian Archipelago. 

Sarawak, before being ceded to Sir James Brooke by Rajah 
Muda Hassim, was one of the principal provinces of the kingdom 
of Bruni, Thus besides the Arab Sareibs, who, under the 
cloak of rehgious hypocrisy, managed to domineer the native 
population, there were the nobles, or " Pangerangs," of Bruni, 
who emulated the Sareibs in fleecing the Land-Dyaks and in 
carrying off their women. 

It appears that the Pangerangs of Bruni are the descendants 
of Mussulman chieftains who came originally from Malacca, and 
settled at Bruni with the spread of Islamism. But it is believed 
that the kingdom of Bruni was originally founded by Chinese, 
and it is asserted that in its capital at the end of the eighteenth 
century there were no less than 30,000 Chinamen, mostly pepper 
planters. At present the true Chinese at Bruni are few; but it 
cannot be doubted that the native population there must have 
been ethnologically modified by so large an immigration from 
China. St. John {Op. cit. I., p. ago) further asserts that in North 
Borneo many natives of the Philippine Islands are to be seen ; 
they were originally captured by the Lanuns and Balignini, sold 
as slaves, and eventually married native women. Moreover, 
in' the case of a very large island like Borneo, with its 
peculiar geographical position, it is not enough to take into 
consideration events which have happened in recent and historical 
periods, but possible immigrations in remote times must not be 
overlooked. However, even allowing only for what we know 
has taken place during the last four or five centuries, one cannot 
1 St. John. Life in the Forests of the Far East,'i.,-g. 12S. London, 1862. 

y Google 


speak of the natives of Borneo, and especially of the Malays, in 
a general way, as unities. Thus Sukadana, Banjarmasin, and, some 
say, Sarawak (Low, Op. cit. p. 94), are Javanese settlements ; Pasir 
and Koti, on the east coast have been peopled by Bugis from 
Celebes. At Sambas and Pontianak the Arabs predominated, not 
to mention a large Chinese element and their descendants through 
unions with Dyak women who for many generations have 
washed for gold in that region. 

The Malays of Borneo, .who inhabit the coast and are given to 
commerce, are thus, I hold, to be considered as the outcome of 
an ancient and long-continued fusion of numerous and very different 
ethnic elements, principally Hindus, Burmese, Chinese, Siamese, 
and Annamites, with a marked infusion of Arab blood, to say 
nothing of other factors resulting from piratical expeditions, 
slavery, and the importation of women robbed from other native 

It is not easy to say what race of mankind originally peopled 
Borneo in remote antiquity ; but it is in my opinion not impro- 
bable that the Negroid ^ race was spread over all Southern Asia 
and the numerous dependent islands in the distant past. Of this 
race more or less unaltered remains are to be found in the Anda- 
manese, and in the Aetas or Negritos of the Philippmes ; and 
— less pure — in the Samangs and other Selangian tribes of the Malay 
Peninsula. The very dark skin and the curly hair of many natives 
of India are, I think, traces of what rem;uns in them of the Negroid 
element after the Aryan invasions. 

In conclusion, I believe that any Malay submitted to an analy- 
tical investigation of an anthropological nature will be found to 
be the outcome of an amalgamation of various ethnic types. 
And it is for this reason that I-regard them as a secondary, much 
mixed, and hybrid race. 

From what we have seen, then, regarding the origin of the 
Malays of Sarawak, it is plain that their physical characters must 
be equally varied, and that it is not easy to give a good compre- 
hensive ethnological description of their appearance. Certain 
characteristics, however, are pretty constant. They have little 
or no beard, but when they manage to grow a few hairs with a 
faint semblance to a moustache they cultivate them with great 
care, and are very proud of them. It may be said of the Malays 
that their skin is brown, and that they never have a prominent 
nose, it being usually depressed. Their eyes are often straight, 
but as often oblique, like those of the Chinese ; the cheek-bones 
are prominent, the chin is small, the lips regular but full. Their 
h^r is very black and smooth, but, as they generally wear it short 

' This term, which I consider most appropriate, was first proposed by 
Professor Henry H. GigUoU, 

y Google 


or very closely shaven, the head is always covered with a piece 
of cloth variously folded, or, in the case of those of Arab origin,. 
with a turban, the rest of the costume being likewise Arab. The 
true Malay dress consists of a short jacket or baju, often of silk, 
and more or less embroidered, and short trousers {slodr). The 
latter might be thought a modem fashion derived from European 
influence. It appears, however, that this kind of nether garment. 
for-rtj^n is very ancient in Asia, for in the sculptures of the ancient 
temples of Boro Budor in Java" (Fig. 6) a costume of this nature 

is represented. Besides the above-mentioned articles of dress,' 
the Malays wear a sarong wrapped round the waist and secured 
in front ; it supports a kris or dagger, which is always worn. At 
the present day. Western civilisation has a continual tendency 
to change the style of dress of the Borneo Malays, as in the past 
Hindu culture imported amongst even the wilder people of the 
Indian Archipelago not only the style of dress and ornaments of 
India, but most of the religious beliefs, superstitions, folklore, 
industries, and art notions which they now possess. 

The sarong is used by both sexes. It is put on in manj' ways, 

' Leemans. Boro Boudour dans I'lle de Java, p. 6i6. 

y Google 


and can be a substitute ■ for trousers, petticoats, shirt, and waist- 
cloth, or even serves as a sheet or a bathing costume. Its use is 
widely spread in Southern Asia and all over the Malay Archipelago 
(Fig. 7). For women, the sarong is an essential article of dress; they 
usually wear it as a skirt or petticoat, held by a belt round the 
waist. Besides the sarong, the wealthy ladies of Kuching wear 
a sort of chemise of cambric or of coloured silk, whilst on their 
head an embroidered scarf surrounds the face, recalling the head- 
dress of certain nuns, and falls down the back. It would take too 
long to give a minute description of the variations and details 

of the toilette of the Sarawak ladies, who also much affect both 
gold and silver jewellery, which they love to display on every 

The women of Kuching have beautiful black hair, and their 
complexion is much lighter than that of the men, but the nose 
is somewhat more flattened. There is, however, a certain vari- 
ability in the type, a fact which can easily be explained by what 
I have previously stated regarding the piratical habits formerly 
practised by the natives of Kuching. 

y Google 


The Fruits of Sarawak — ^The Mangosteen and its Habitat — Origin of 
Cultivated Fruits — The Pinang — Our Menagerie — Monkeys — ^The 
Nasalis and the Shape of the Nose in Man — Birds in Captivity — 
Snakes — Fascinated Frogs — The Flying Lizard — Flying Animals 
—The Mammals of Borneo— Big Game in Sar.\wak. 

ON the hill where the former residence of Rajah Brooke used to 
stand, and in the park around his present residence, are 
grown most of the cultivated fruit-trees of Malaysia. The Rajah 
had also endeavoured to introduce various kinds of plants which 
might, if acchmatised, have proved a source of wealth to the 
country ; amongst these were the nutmeg, the cinnamon, and the 
cacao. Most of the characteristic fruit-trees were not then in 
blossom ; such, for example, as the durian, rambutan, lansat and 
mango. We were, however, still able to get some mangosteens, 
the fruit of Garcima mangostana (Fig. 8), and one of the most 
dehcious within the tropics. It is rarely to be found beyond the 
limits of the Malayan Islands. Even in Borneo its cultivation is 
limited. The Malays call it " Manggis," and the Land-Dyaks, 
"Sekup." The true native land of the mangosteen is unknown. 
It is true that in Borneo several wild species of Garcinia are found, 
not unhke the mangosteen, and some with edible fruits, but they are 
always sour. The mangosteen is beyond doubt a native of the 
Malayan region, but nowhere yet has it been found growing wild. 
It has been asserted, but without proof, that its native land, like 
that of the durian, is the Malay Peninsula. The latter tree also 
is only known as a cultivated species. 

Has the sea overwhelmed the land where these originated, or are 
they still to be ioxmd growing wild in some remote forest ? Or, on 
the other hand, may they not have been produced by cultivation ? 
But, if the latter hypothesis be true, what is the parental stock 
from which they have been obtained ? It seems to me probable 
that certain cultivated plants — ^wheat, amongst others — have been so 
long cared for by man that they cannot exist or multiply without 
his protection. Such plants, I consider, are united to man by a 
kind of symbiosis, so that they can only be found where he is and 
can ensure their existence. In the wild state now they cannot, in 

y Google 



their modified condition, hold their own in the struggle with de- 
structive agents. 

In virtue of its delicious flavour, the mangosteen heads the list 
of the edible fruits of the tropical world. It is of the size and 
shape of a small orange. When ripe its skin, or rather rind, is 
smooth, and of a dark purple or vinous colour. To get at the 
edible part this rind must be cut through all round. The inner 
layer of if is nearly half an inch thick, and is highly astringent, 
containing, probably, a large proportion of tannin. If one has taken 

care to cut through to the right depth, the upper half of the rind 
can be detached, leaving uncovered a central white, glittering mass 
composed of 5-6 segments, like the " pigs " of an orange. Each of 
these consists of a seed surrounded by an abundant white, juicy 
pulp ; soft, sweet, shghtly acidulated, and with a dehcate, dehcious 
flavour, which recalls that of a fine peach, muscatel grapes, and 
Something peculiar and indescribable which no other fruit has. 

All the year round ripe soursops (Anona muricata) can be 
obtained at Kuching. They are big heart-shaped fruits, green out- 
side, with a white, juicyflesh, which is very agreeable to the palate. 
The papaw (Carica papaya) is also a perennial fruiter, and grows 
almost spontaneously in gardens and about hoiises ; its fruit is not 
unlike a melon, but less highly flavoured. Both these are of 
American origin, as are also the sweetsop {Anona squamala) and the 

y Google 


custard-apple (Anona reticulata), both of which grow to perfection 
in Sarawak. 

Of bananas there are many varieties ; pineapples are also always 
to be seen in the market, where, in its season, they also bring fpr 
sale the gigantic fruit of the Jack-tree {Artocarpus integrifolia). 

The coconut palm is found everywhere, but the larvae of an 
insect pest (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus) damage it greatly at Kuch- 
ing. There are some plantations in a more flourishiHg condition on 
the sandy beaches of the small islands off the coast, but most of 
the coconuts used in Sarawak are imported from the Natuna Islands. 

The Areca catechu, or "pinang," is perhaps in strict parlance 
not a fruit-tree, because its nuts are not eaten, but merely chewed, 
as all know. It is to the Malay what the camel is to the Arab : it 
has followed him in all his wanderings. It may be safely asserted 
that there is not a Malay hut near which at leEist one of these 
most elegant of palms is not seen growing (Fig. 9). Like the 
mangosteen, it belongs to that series of cultivated plants whose 
origin is a mystery/ But there can be no doubt that the habit of 
chewing it, together with sin, or betel leaves, and lime, has spread 
from tropical Asia to the Indian Archipelago, and thence eastwards 
across Melanesia to Polynesia. In Borneo the pinang nuts have a 
part in various rites and ceremonies of the Malays and Dyaks. Tlie 
areca palm itself has often inspired the poetic sentiments of Malay 
writers, and its flowers are much appreciated by the women for their 
fragrance. Amongst the Lingga Dyaks and the Balu the marriage 
ceremony is preceded by that called " Bla Pinang," which means 
the division of areca nuts. 

To grow to perfection the pinang requires a rich, somewhat damp 
soil, moist atmosphere, and a perennial high temperature. Its foliage 
is always a fresh green, for when a frond is old its immense leaf- 
sheath sphts all down and falls, carrying the frond with it. The 
tree, therefore, never shows any dried or withered part, but is always 
in fine condition ; its slender, elegant trunk, straight and smooth 

' The fruit of the areca does not stand in need of human protection, for 
it does not appear to be eaten by animals. Nevertheless, the tree is not found 
in a wild state. But although its fruit is not sought after as food, its heart 
or " cabbage " is so excellent, besides being totally unprotected by spines, 
that in the forest it would probably soon be devoured, and the death of 
the paim ensue. Its existence may thus be said indirectly to depend on , 
human protection. Among all the wild species of areca found in the East 
Indies, the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo, the Philippines, etc., that which 
in its botanic character is closest to the domestic form is the Areca concinna 
of Ceylon, This would seem to indicate that the native country of the pinang 
must have once been that area which connected Ceylon and the Malay penin- 
sula ; a region of which the Andaman and Nicobar islands may be considered 
the last remnants. The same may be said for the durian and mangosteen, 
both of which may also have had their origin on lands now submerged. 

y Google 


as an arrow, is generally of a grey colour, caused by the lichens 
which grow on it.' 

Most of the plants and fruit-trees I have mentioned do not 
grow in and about Kuching with that vigour which the luxuri- 
ance of the neighbouring forest would lead one to expect. The soil 
of the low hills on which Kuching is built, and also that of the adjoin- 
ing land, is formed of white or yellowish clays, and is far from fertile 
— which one would hardly suspect, or, indeed, think possible, con- 
sidering the giant proportions attained by trees on the same area 
before the forest was cleared. The explanation probably lies in 
the fact that the forest trees depend mostly for their growth not on 
the soil formed by the decomposition of rocks, but on the vegetable 
humus, the result of centuries of accumulation. 

The iirst months of our stay in Sarawak passed rapidly ; many 
and varied occupations made the time seem short. It was with 
difficulty that I found time to prepare and dry the numerous plants 
which I collected daily in the adjacent forest. The number of species 

' In Borneo I found foliaceous lichens excessively rare ; most of those 
which I coLected there, about 140 in number, were encrusting species, which 
blend with the bark on which they grow. They were principally Graphidsa, 
Thelotrema, Ascidtnece and Vemtcaria. (Cf. Krempelkuber. Lickenes quos 
legit O. Beccari in Insults Borneo, etc., in Nuovo Giornale Boi. Ital., 1875, p. 6.) 
A large portion of these lichens were found by me in the grounds of Govern- 
ment House on the trunks of arecas, coconut palms, orange, and shaddock 
trees. It appears, therefore, that, in Sarawak, trees with a smooth bark, in 
open localities witii plenty of Ught, are best adapted to support lichens ; for 
in the shady forest they are much less frequent on tree trunks, but abound, 
together with various F'ungi and Jungermannias, on the leaves of low-growing 
species. The reason of this predUection shown by hchons for the smooth 
bark of trees growing in the more open spaces is, I suspect, to be sought in 
the greater facility of the condensation of aqueous vapour on certain surfaces 
in preference to others. The non-porous, smooth, and compact surface of the 
bark on the trunks of coconuts, arecas, and orange trees growing in the open, 
which becomes much heated during the day, radiates greatly at night, and, 
in cooling, causes the aqueous vapour with which the atmosphere is laden to 
condense in abundance. This moisture remains, moreover, better on these 
smooth barks than on those of a cork-like or porous nature, far less good 
conductors of heat, and more easily absorbing the aqueous vapour. A smooth 
and non-porous bark may be compared with a rock, on wfiich encrusting 
licfiens flourish well ; for these organisms require periods of moisture, alter- 
nating with seasons of drought, in well-Ughted locahties, rather than an excess 
of moisture of a continuous nature in shady places, I imagine that such is the 
reason why many epiphytes, and amongst them orchids, prefer to take root 
on naked smooth-barked trees, often in the highest and most exposed parts, 
where at first sight one would think that their seeds must find great difficulty 
in germinating. Smooth and coriaceous leaves must hkewise condense the 
aqueous vapour of the air much more easily than leaves which are hairy and 
soft in texture ; and it is for these reasons, perhaps, that a large number of 
Hepaticje, and both encrusting and foliaceous lichens, are often found on the 
upper surface of such leaves in the low-lying parts of the Malayan forests. 

y Google 

y Google 


appeared inexhaustible, and many of them — I may say several 
hundreds — turned out later to be new to science. Doria, on his 
part, brought home insects, birds, and other animals which his Per- 
sian taxidermist Kerim had to skin and prepare. But even the 
Malays had begun to xmderstand our work, and they often brought 
us animals, usually alive. 

In a short time we had thus got together a line series of skins and 
a goodly collection of Hve animals. Amongst the latter were several 
" plandoks " (Tragithts nafu), one of the most diminutive species 
of the chevrotain tribe. We fed them on the flowers of the Simpor, 
botanically, DiUinia suffruticosa, of which we had an abundance 
close to the house. The plandok is an extremely timid creature, 
with eyes so large and beautiful that mata plandok (Tragulus- 
eyed) is an endearing expression used by Malay lovers in praise of 
the lady of their affections. 

Another singular creatinre which we fed with no great trouble on 
bananas is the " kongkang " of the Malays (Nyciicebus tardigradus), 
one of the lemurs. It is a nocturnal animal, and sleeps all day long 
with its head between its legs. The Malays regard it with supersti- 
tion, and believe it to possess various supernatural attributes. It 
certainly is a weird-looking creature. We had also several " tang- 
ling " of the Malays, the singular scaly anteater {Manis javanica) ; 
as well as viverras or " munsangs," wild cats or palm-civets 
(Paradoxurus), and a lot of monkeys, of which there is no lack in 
Sarawak. These we kept tied up to the bars of the verandah. 

The " krah " and the " berok " or " bruk " of the Malays 
{Macacus cynomolgus and M. nemestrinus), which of all the Bornean 
monkeys are most tolerant of captivity, often came in large parties 
to the trees along the river close to our house. The latter is 
tamed by the natives and taught to gather coconuts. 

The " bidgit " and the " lotong " of the Malays (ScmnopUhecus 
frontatus and S. femoralis), 3.nd the " wa-wa," an anthropoid (Hylo- 
bates miUleri), are also very frequent about Kuching. Thelatteris, 
of course, tailless, of a dark grey colour, with soft fur, a small round! 
face, and immensely long arms. In the mornings the adjoining forest 
echoed with its singular and characteristic call. It is so strange a 
sound that for a long while I could not believe that it came from a 
monkey ; it was to me more like the loud harmonious cry of some 
large bird. It consists of the syllables wa-wa many times repeated 
with great force, dropping in tone ajid increasing in rapidity. The 
wa-wa thrives fairly well in captivity, feeding on fruit and boiled 
rice or " nassi " ; which, strange to say, was eagerly taken by all the 
' animals we kept in our menagerie, whether frugivorous or carni- 
vorous. The wa-wa certainly might excusably be credited with 
carnivorous propensities to judge by the great development of its 
canine teeth. It moves with astonishing rapidity from tree to tree, 

y Google 


swinging itself along at such a pace when frightened that it gives 
one the impression of a flying mammal. Apart from the orang 
utan,^ of which at first we were unable to obtain specimens, the 
most singular- of the Quadrumana in Borneo is the long-nosed ape 
( Nasalis larvatus), a large species with reddish fur, andpf most singular 
and ridiculous aspect. It is, with the exception of the rare and little 
known Rhinopithecus of Mupin, the only monkey which possesses a 
prominent nose, a pecuharity which has struck the fancy of the 
Malays, who have given it the nickname of orang blanda, or Dutch- 
man (Fig. lo). A very young specimen which I kept alive was the 

funniest of comic creatures, with a long nose as pink as that of a 
child, but bigger in proportion than that of a full-grown man. 
I had -often met with this curious creature on the big trees 
along the river near the town, feeding on the fruits of the " Kayu 
peddada" botanically, Sonneratia lanceolata, for which they have a 
special predilection, and which, indeed, form their principal food. 
Dming the daytime they keep to the shelter of the jungle, but to- 
wards evening they usually approach the river, where they find an 
abundance of their favourite food, and usually prefer to pass the 

• Why amongst all apes, with the sole exception above mentioned, 
this one should alone be provided with a long, prominent, and fleshy 
' thus "Orang-utan" means "man 

y Google 


nose, somewhat hooked at its extremity, it is, indeed, difficult to 
say. According to the Darwinian theory, it might possibly be 
attributed to sexual selection. If such were the case, we might, 
perhaps, congratulate this monkey on its good taste. The nose is, 
no doubt, an important feature in mankind, and furnishes important 
racial characters as well as individual distinctions ; but as far as I 
am aware no one has hitherto sought for an explanation of the very 
various shapes wiiich it assumes. As it can scarcely be admitted 
that mere sexual selection has influenced the shape and length of 
the nose, we must suppose that its modification can only be due to 
use. But it is not easy to determine what external stimuli can 
have caused such modifications of the organ. Defence of the respira- 
tory passages against the introduction of foreign particles may be 
one cause ; i.e., the phagocytic action against pathogenic micro- 
organisms floating in the air. Again, special sensorial stimuli may 
have come into play tending to the extension of the sensorial surface. 
Analogous causes {i.e., the direction in which such sensorial func- 
tions are brought into action) may have influenced the position of the 
opening of the nostrils. As a case in point it is worthy of note that 
races of men who have fived from time immemorial in open coun- 
tries, for instance the Semitic people, are furnished with prominent 
noses having narrow nostrils directed downwards; whilst Negroes- 
and Malays, for the most part dwellers in the forest, have snub noses 
with wide nostrils turned upwards, such as characterise most 
monkeys. It may be further noted that in the human race nasal 
development has progressed from the equator towards Central Asia, 
where it appears to have reached its maximum of development. 

Considering the very large number of species of birds which live in 
the Bomean forests, it was remarkable how few were brought to us 
alive. The "burongsiul" (RoUulus rouloul) — "burong" means bird 
in Malay — was one of the few we got. It thrives easily in captivity, 
and is a handsome species about the size of a partridge, of fine 
dark coloration, a deep sheeny green and chestnut brown pre- 
dominating : the cock has a curious crest of purplish brown 
feathers. But the best cage-bird is undoubtedly the mynah {Gra- 
cula javanensis), a general favourite, which easily learns entire 
phrases, imitating the human voice far better than parrots do. 
Doria and I brought back from Sarawak some 800 bird-skins, repre- 
senting 226 species. This collection has formed the bcisis of a book 
by Cormt T. Salvadori on the avifauna of Borneo, being vol, ii. of 
the Annali del Museo Civico di Genova. In this work no less than 
392 species are described, but the learned author writes to me that 
the known species of birds of this great island are now double the 
number of those enumerated in 1874, when his work was published. 
It is, however, a strange but true fact that the Bomean avifauna has 
few forms which are peculiar to it and which give it a marked physi- 

y Google 


ognomy, as do the Paradiseidse to New Guinea. Most of the Bomean 
birds, even permanent residents, are found in the neighbouring 
islands (especially in Sumatra), or in the Malay Peninsula ; whilst 
several of those not found elsewhere only differ in minor characters 
from allied species Hving on neighbouring islands. 

Not unfrequently our hunters and collectors would bring us 
snakes, mostly living, and suspended by a sUp-knot to a stick. 
These usually met their fate in a jar of spirits, but some of them 
were sufficiently large to render the operation a little embarrassing. 
One day a Malay brought me a " chinchin mas" ' {Dipsas dendrophila 
of zoologists), an entirely black species, with yellow rings ; it was a 
fine specimen, about six feet in length. This species frequents 
trees by the riverside, or the mangroves, and it is not uncommon for 
specimens to drop into a passing sampan, for it has a habit of rest- 
ing half -twisted on overhanging branches, easily shaken by a passing 
boat. The natives assert that it is poisonous. When I handle 
snakes, whether poisonous or not, I always hold them by the neck 
between the thumb and index finger of the right hand, for thus held 
they cannot possibly bite. When putting them in spirits I take 
care to have a jar with a wide mouth of adequate size ready, and 
introduce the snake, held as I have stated, tat! foremost. In the left 
hcind I hold the stopper of the jar, and when the body of the snake 
is well in I drop the head, and with a rapid movement close the jar. 
In performing this operation on the above-mentioned " chinchin 
mas " — a very Uvely specimen — the moment I let go the head I 
distinctly saw it emit with some force two fine jets of hquid from 
the mouth, just as a poisonous snake might do. On another occa- 
sion I had quite a struggle with an " ular sawa," a species of python, 
small of its kind but exceedingly vigorous. I had it as usual by the 
nape and was going to pot it, when it twisted itself with such 
force round my arm that I was obliged to call one of my men to my 
assistance to free myself from its coils. We kept several pythons 
alive, and one escaped and remained hidden for some weeks in a 
neighbouring house, where I found it. When not too big these 
snakes are quite harmless, and may even be considered useful, for 
they are kept in houses, where they do excellent service in destroying 
rats. One day I caught one of these big snakes in a singular manner. 
Our cook was in the habit of keeping a few live fowls in a cage in a 
corner of the kitchen, a small separate hut a few yards from the 
bungalow and level with the ground. On going to fetch a fowl he 
was surprised to find in its stead a large python, which, having entered 
the cage through the bars, had swallowed the fowl and coiled itself 
up on the spot for quiet digestion. Even had it wished to leave 
the cage it could no longer have done so, having considerably In- 
creased in girth. A similar tale is told of a bigger python, which, 
^ Anglice, " gold ring.". 

33 D 



having got through the bars of a pigstye, swallowed the pig and could 
no longer get out. The Malays assert that the biggest of these 
snakes are capable of swallowing a deer, after having well reduced 
it in size by crushing it in their coils, and lubricated it with abundant 
saliva. The horns may for some days remain projecting from the 
mouth of the serpent, but even these eventually manage to pass. 
Pythons of ordinary dimensions are very plentiful in Sarawak, and 
account for many domestic fowls and their eggs ; in this, however, 
they have a competitor in the " bjawak," a big lizard (Monitor 
hiviUatus), which is very common, and often exceeds a yard in 
length. On one occasion whilst at Singapore I saw the remains of 
a gigantic python : a Chinaman passed by the verandah where I was, 
carrying in two big baskets the transverse sections of the animal's 
body, some of them quite equal in diameter to a man's thigh. The 
Tuan Muda spoke of a python which he caught, measuring just 19 
feet in length, which had a monkey in its stomach ; and St. John 
mentions another kiUed at Bruni, which was over twenty-nine 
feet (8 metres, 91 centim.) long. The Malays talk of specimens 
7 '^depa"^ in length, which woiild be about 38ft. 6 in., but I do not 
believe that in Sarawak well-authenticated cases of pythons exceed- 
ing 20 feet have ever been recorded. 

Amongst the snakes I often kept alive I may mention the " ular 
bunga," or flower-snake {Tragops prasinus), a long, slender, elegant 
creature of a briUiant green, which is said to be tameable. Another 
species which was common in the meadows around our residence 
was Dendrophis prasinus, which is rarely more than three feet in 
length and as thick as one's finger. It frequents swampy places and 
feeds on frogs, which it catches by fascinating them. I once wit- 
nessed an instance of this myself. Being on our verandah one day, 
I was attracted by a persistent and strange croaking emitted by 
some frogs in a small streamlet a few paces from where I stood. I 
went to see what was the cause, and found a frog, of a species common 
around Kuching, which was uttering most lamentable sounds. 
Hardly a hand's breadth from it was a snake with erected head, 
staring at it and quite motionless. The frog was also quite still, 
poised upright on its hind legs, the front legs being extended, and 
with one jump it might have escaped, but it remained as if hypnotised, 
and fell an immediate prey to its enemy. But I avenged the poor 
victim immediately after, killing the snake with a smart blow from 
a thin stick across its back. This is an excellent method of captur- 
ing small snakes without danger, and without spoiling them as speci- 
mens, I found that a shot in the head with a small charge of dust- 
shot was the best way of deahng with large snakes. 

Some of the Bomean reptiles produce singular sounds, Thecom- 

' A " depa " is about 5 ft. 6 in., and is the distance betweeo the tips of 
the fingers, holding the arms extended. 

y Google 


monest amongst them is a gecko, the "chichak," which name imitates 
perfectly the cry it produces ; and at Government House they could 
be heard and seen every evening chasing moths attracted by the 
lights on the ceiling of the dining room. Some fell on the table, nearly 
always at the expense of their very fragile tail, A much louder and 
more characteristic cry is that of Goniocefhalus borneensis, a large 
lizard which lives on trees and has a high and serrated crest down 
its back. The Malays call this lizard " kog-go," an imitation of 
its call-note, which is frequently repeated. The cry of this species, 
Hke that of the wa-wa, is so singular that one can hardly beUeve 
that it is not produced by some bird ; and it is one of those, 
with others even more frequent of the cicadas and hornbills, that 
most impress the traveller who is not yet accustomed to their daily 

Several poisonous snakes are found in Borneo, amongst others 
the Trigonocspkalus wagleri, of which the Malays assert that the 
potency of its poison is such, that when a person is bitten by it he 
has not even time to take off his jacket before falhng dead. In 
Kuching the cobra {Naja tripudians) is found, but it is not common. 
As a matter of fact, during my whole stay in Borneo I never once 
heard of a death caused by snake-bite.' 

Amongst the various small reptiles which we were able to collect 
in our neighbourhood the most singular were the flying lizards (Draco), 
the " belalang sumbak " of the Malays. These surprising little 
creatures caii be seen at any moment during the hot hours of the 
day flying through the air from one palm tree to another by the aid 
of the membranous expansion with which the sides of their bodies 
are provided. When they take their spring they start with the 
head downwards ; when they reach their destination they alight 
with the head upwards. We used to get these flying hzards with 
the " sumpitan " or blow-tube, of which I shall speak further on, 
but instead of darts we used clay bullets. 

In Borneo there are not only flying hzards, but also flying squirrels, 
flj^ing foxes, flying frogs, and, could we believe the Malays, flying 
snakes. Of the latter I have seen none, nor do I know of any such 
mentioned in any scientific work. It is not impossible, however, 
that in the unexplored parts of Borneo, yet unknown to naturalists, 
a tree-snake may exist capable of spreading out the skin of its sides 

■■ The collectioii of reptiles formed by Doria and myself in Borneo con- 
tained eighty-eight species, of which nineteen were new to science. They 
were described by Peters and Doria in a paper pubhshed in the Annali del 
Museo Civico di Genova, vol. iii., p. 27, pi. ii,-iv. Genoa, 1872. A general list 
of the Reptilia and Batrachia Aniira of Borneo has been pubhshed by M. F. 
Moquard in Nouvelles Archives du Mush d'Histoire Naturelle, 3* s6rie, 
vol. xii., p. 115. Paris, 1890. The species enumerated are 304; of which 
three are crocodiles, forty-nine hzards, 103 snakes and forty-nine frogs. 

y Google 


to such an extent as to form a parachute enabling it to float from 
one tree to another. It is well known that the cobras (Naja) can 
spread out the side skin of the fore part of the body, and could they 
do this lower down they would be exactly like the flying Uzards, in 
which the skin-folds of the flanks are spread on free and lengthened 
ribs. I may add that not only do the Malays and Dyaks believe in 
the existence of flying snakes, but they have a name for them, and 
■call them " ular teddong-kumbang." ' It should also be mentioned 
that the Malays are most excellent observers of nature, and are well 
acquainted with all forms of forest life. I can assert on my own 
experience that I have never found their information in such matters 
without foundation. 

The flying frog of Borneo (Rhacophorus reinwardtii) is described 
and figured by Wallace in his well-known book on the Malay Archi- 
pelago ; but it must be rare in that part of Borneo I visited, for I 
never had the good fortune to meet with it. 

Besides bats and flying foxes (Pieropus), other flying mammals can 
be seen any day in Sarawak. The commonest are the flying squirrels 
(Pteromys), which I have already mentioned. But the strange 
Galeopithecus volans is also abundant, and can easily be kept in 
captivity. The skin expansions of this curious creature are more 
developed than those of Pteromys, and not only do they make an 
efficacious parachute, but afford an ample cloak for the animal to 
envelope itself during the daytime, when it sleeps. Flight in these 
animals, in whom aerial locomotion was not a primitive condition to 
which the entire organism has been co-ordinated, affords ample 
ground for philosophical speculations. Considerations of safety, 
and the necessity of being able to pass rapidly from one tree to 
another may have supphed the needed stimulus, in a given species, 
to endeavour to add to its powers of locomotion by adopting flight. 
In other members of the same class, special powers in jumping or in 
running may have a similar explanation. I have always thought 
that there must have been a formative epoch, in which every crea- 
ture had the power of special adaptation to its own needs— nay, 
even to its own wishes or caprice. In this epoch of " plasraation," 
if I may so term it, when the so-called force of heredity — which tends 
to reproduction according to the type of the progenitor — had but 
httle power, the world being still young, the organism must have 
been far more susceptible of modification by external forces, and the 
limbs more ready to adapt themselves to special usage. Considering 
the very great number of animals that can fly, and how varied they 
are, it is plausible to suppose that in the higher organisms the desire 
to press upwards and skjovards, whether to escape danger, seek food, 
or to enjoy the heat and hght, must have been general. This desire, 

' In the Sarawak Gazette of January 4, 1886, flying snakes are mentioned 
and it is added that there are two species of them. 


y Google 


which manifests itself often in man in dreams, and which in dreams 
he often realises, is not easy to explain, or to connect with physio- 
logical phenomena depending on innervation or circulation ; bxit it 
is conceivable, durii^ the epoch in which the entire organism 
of every Hving being was more easily adaptable to external condi- 
tions, and could be modified in form according to the stimuli felt, 
that certain organs, in animals influenced by desire or necessity to 
leave the ground, may have been so far modified as to become adapted 
to aerial locomotion, as a consequence of phenomena analogous in 
their nature to those which come into play with us when we dream 
that we are flying. 

As animals provided with organs of flight which were not origi- 
nally destined to that manner of locomotion are relatively numerous 
in Borneo, it must be presumed that some peculiarity in the nature 
of the country they inhabit must have contributed towards this 
very special kind of modification. Such a peculiarity appears to 
me to lie in the fact that Borneo, like all countries with an analogous 
fauna, is a densely tree-clad region, and was formerly, without 
doubt, one unbroken primeval forest from the sea coasts to the 
summits of its highest mountains. The only bare ground at that 
period was the narrow wave-washed strip of its coast-fine. This 
explains how in Borneo and Malaysia generally land animals, in 
the restricted sense of the term, could hardly prosper and multiply 
as would those of arboreal habit. If the Malayan mammals be 
compared, for example, with those of Africa, the difference is enor- 
mous. In Africa most of the Mammalia are adapted to move and 
Uve on extensive plains, and most of them are swift of foot. In 
Malaysia, on the other hajid, arboreal animals far outnumber the 
others, and hence, when it comes to rapid movement, the most suit- 
able method of attaining it is by flight. 

In illustration of the above remarks we may now glance for a 
moment at the most important of the Bornean mammals. 

All the species of apes and monkeys inhabiting Borneo, fifteen 
or sixteen in number, live on trees in the forest ; many, probably, 
never come down to the ground, while others descend only occa- 
sionally. Even the Carnivora are mostly arboreal. The tiger, the 
biggest terrestrial carnivore of Southern Asia, is wanting, and its 
place is taken by the peculiar tree-leopard (Felis nebtdosa) — the 
" rimau dahan " of the Malays. There are different kinds of Viver- 
ridae and wild cats which come to the ground by night in search of 
prey, but aU retreat to the trees and remain hidden during the 

The binturong {ArcHcHs binturong) is so essentially arboreal in 
its habits that it has acquired a prehensile tail, and though the 
" bruan," or Malayan bear (Hdarctos malayanus), does occasionally 

y Google 


come to the ground to ravage the nests of ants or termites, it generally 
keeps up trees, and has a predilection for the honey of the wild 
bees which it gets there. 

The Bomean Camivora which are not arboreal are aquatic or 
semi-aquatic ; such are some otters and the rare Cynogale benneiii^. 
A singular exception is the " anjin utan," a kind of wild dog (Cyon 
rulilans), which I have never seen. All the squirrels, and liiey are 
many, are arboreal ; and so are the insectivorous tupaias, of which 
several species are known. 

Various species of rats and mice, and some insectivores found in 
Borneo, are, no doubt, terrestrial in their habits, and live in burrows 
in the ground or in the hollows of tree-trunks ; they are thus hardly 
to be considered cursorial mammals, and are of small size. Among 
true terrestrial mammals are several Ungulates ; but of these the 
rhinoceros {R. sumatrensis) and the tapir (7. indicus), although 
adapted for existence in unwooded regions, are also perfectly organ- 
ised to wander amid dense vegetation, where their weight and size 
ensures an easy passage. For these, however, swiftness is not a 
necessity, for they have no enemies they need be afraid of. On the 
other hand, the wild pigs, of which, according to Everett,' there are 
no less than six species on the island, are perfectly fitted for rapid 
movement through the forest undergrowth. 

The " banteng " of the Malays {Bos sondaicus) is a noble crea- 
ture, the largest ruminant in Borneo. It is not so scarce and keeps 
to the jungle, and espediilly to the forest of second growth, in the 
interior. The diminutive plandok, or chevrotain {Tragulus), 
appears to be a true forest animal, as also the " kidjan " (Cervulus 
muntjac), another small deer with non-branching horns. The 
" rusa," a true stag, is found mostly in clearings, in old rice-lields, 
or on hills covered with lalang grass. It appears, I might say, 
as an alien amongst the forest fauna of the country, and, as a matter 
of fact, one may suspect that it has been introduced by man. 
The Malays distinguish the " rusa balum," with doubly branched 
horns, and the " rusa lalang," smaller and with bifurcated horns. 
A third species is also said by some to exist in Borneo. 

We find then, in the island, a bare dozen of Ungulates adapted 
to run and roam on plains, but already modified for forest hfe, against 
over 150 species of mammals belonging to other Orders, of which 
two-thirds are strictly arboreal when not aerial (Chiroptera). This 
shows to what an extent the primeval forest has impeded the evolu- 
tion or perpetuation of terrestrial mammals (in the sense of dwellers - 
on the ground), and especially of those which are fleet of foot. 

Deer and pigs are the chief large game to be had in Sarawak. 
The former, however, are not found in the immediate vicinity of 

' P.Z.S., 1889. 

y Google 


Kuching, but must be sought in the clearings on the territories of 
the Singhi or Serambo Dyaks, some miles away. Wild pigs are 
common everywhere, and often do much damage to plantations. 
At Kuching I shot and preserved the entire skeleton of a boar 
which was of unusual size, measuring 4 ft. 9 in. from the root of the 
tail to the end of the snout, with a diameter of over 16 in. at its 
widest girth. It was remarkable for the extreme length of thehead, 
which was prolonged into a narrow and sharply-pointed snout. 

y Google 


MissiQNS— Bishop MacDougall-— Up the Batang-Lupar — The Bore — 
Banteng — Chhistianised Dyaks — Nepenthes bicai,carata — Simang- 
GAN — Undup — The Sea-Dyaks 

THE head of the Protestant mission in North Borneo was then 
the Right Rev. F. T. MacDougall, Bishop of Labuan and 
Sarawak. He was a highly distinguished man, but judging from 
appearances one would scarcely have supposed him to be a dignitary 
of the Church. He was a skilful surgeon and at the same time a 
brave warrior, and had distinguished himself in the latter capacity 
in various expeditions for the suppression of piracy. His birth- 
place was Malta, and as he spoke Italian fairly our intimacy grew 
apace. His hospitable house was ever open to us, and we often 
were his welcome guests. And, as I write, a feeling of gratitude for 
the memory of om" friendship arises in my heart. 

The Sarawak mission had various stations in localities widely 
separated and distant from the capital. It was possessed, however, 
of a good cutter, which the worthy bishop, who was also an excellent 
sailor, used to navigate himself when he visited his flock in those 
distant stations. He invited me to go with him on one of these 
tours : an inspection of the missions on the Batang-Lupar.^ It was 
an excellent opportunity of seeing a different part of the country, 
and of visiting the Sea-pyaks in their own domain, of whom I had, 
until then, only seen a few in the bazaars at Kuching. 

On September ist we left our moorings and descended the river to 
the Maratabas (perhaps more correctly Muara tabas) mouth, where 
we anchored for the night. 

The next morning was fine, and, aided by the land-breeze and 
with the tide in our favour, for the breeze soon slackened, we soon 
passed Pulo Burong, and eventually cast anchor for the night at 
the mouth of the Batang-Lupar. The river is at this point about 
three miles wide, but it has a bar with shallow water (about ten feet 
at low tide) which only permits small vessels to enter. At certain 
periods of the month, navigation on the Batang-Lupar is dangerous, 
even for small vessels, on account of the "bore," caused by high tides 
meeting the descending waters of the river and forming a wave, or a 

1 " Batang " in Malay means " the trunk of a tree," but it also signifies 
the principal part of the course of a big river. 

y Google 


succession of big waves, which advance with extraordinary velocity 
up the river, carrying all before them. This phenomenon is most 
marked when the tide is strongest ; thus during full moon and new 
moon the bore is at its maximum, and at such times woe betide 
those who are unfortunate enough to be caught by it on the river. 
The bore-wave, which is about six feet high, advances with a foaming 
crest across the entire width of the river with a velocity of several 
miles per hour. It is felt about ten miles inside the mouth of the 
river, and penetrates also the Lingga, which is the first affluent of 
the Batang-Lupar, continuing up the main stream for about thirty 
miles, a loud roar announcing its advent. The singular width of. 
the first part of the Batang-Lupar, quite out of proportion to the 
length of the stream, is, perhaps, an effect of the bore, which has 
carried away the banks and thus widened the bed of the river. 

For the safe navigation of the river, exact information regarding 
the season of the stronger tides and the time at which they flow is 
essential. It is also necessary to take a local pilot who knows the 
places uninfluenced by the bore, or so protected that a boat can safely ' 
wait until it has passed. But, notwithstanding these precautions, 
fatal accidents frequently occur. 

On the morning of September 3rd we ascended the river as far as 
the mouth of the Lingga, an afHuent on the left bank at about twenty 
miles from the sea. We entered the latter and proceeded up stream 
for about ten miles, when we sighted Banteng, a hill which looks as 
if it blocked up the river. On its summit we could make out the' 
mission house, the residence of the missionary, Mr. Chambers. The 
villages of the Balu — for such is the name of this tribe of Sea- 
Dyaks — are clustered around on the hil! at its feet, and on the river 

The mission house is a wooden structure, very comfortable, and 
in a lovely position. Shaded by gigantic durian trees, its verandah 
overlooks the river, for on that side the hill is steep-to. The view 
over the distant plain and the winding stream, with a high isolated 
mountain, Gunong Lingga, rising in the foreground, is magnifi- 
cent. The summit of the Banteng hill is fiat and somewhat. ex- 
tended ; along it i s a kind of avenue formed by huge durians and other 
fruit -bearing trees, at the end of which is the mission church. Most 
of the day passed in religious services, the church being crowded 
with converted Dyaks and catechumens. The converts dress differ- 
ently from the other Dyaks, wearing trousers and shirt, but I cannot 
say that it improved them in looks. The native costume shows to 
singular advantage their statuesque and well-modelled figures, and 
though scant, is much more healthy in a climate where dress is a 
superiiuity. The exaggerated sense of shame which leads to the 
clothing of every part of the body is a product of the inclement 
North, and is a result of the real need of defence against cold ; and 

y Google 

In BORNEA^^ FORESTS [chap, iv 

thus we find that the sentiment is one which diminishes in proportion 
as we advajice from the temperate to the tropical zone. 

On the morning of September 4th, we descended the Lingga, and 
re-entering the Batang-Lupar made our way up-stream to Simang- 
gan. The country which we traversed was by no means interesting, 
for the river runs through a plain where the primeval forest has been 
destroyed nearly entirely, and its place taken here and there by 
rice fields. 

At one period some of the boldest piratical tribes in Borneo had 
their stronghold in this river, and with those of the Seribas were 
long the terror of the coast. They were reduced to order by Rajah 
Brooke and Admiral Keppel, who destroyed Pamotus, their principal 

Simanggan is one of the most populous centres of the Sea-Dyaks, 
A fort, built on a slight eminence on he tleft bank, commands the 
river, which is at this place about one hundred yards wide. The fort 
is built entirely of timber, square in shape, with a small tower at each 
corner. It moimted some guns, and the Rajah has garrisoned it with 
a strong detachment of native soldiers. 

We spent the night at this place, and early next morning pro- 
ceeded along a good pathway inland to Undup, a large and populous 
Dyak village and also a mission station. The path crossed an 
untouched primeval forest, which had probably been allowed to 
stand because it covered low, marshy, ground, which could hardly 
be brought under cultivation. Such places in our climate would be 
mere marshes, but here they are covered with taU forest trees. True 
aquatic and marsh plants are uncommon in Borneo, but a large 
number of trees in that island, palms, aroids, etc., may be almost 
considered as such, for their roots are always wet. On this occasion, 
I was able to do but little for my botanical collections, but I was 
glad of the opportunity of getting an idea of this portion of the 
country, as I intended later to return for a long stay, I was fortunate 
enough, however, to meet with some specimens of Nepenthes hical- 
carata, which is certainly one of the most curious of all the Bomean 
pitcher-plants. Our excursion only lasted a few days, and on 
September 13th we were "back in Kuching. 

This little trip with Bishop MacDougall gives me an opportunity 
of saying a word or two on the Sea-Dyaks. The Land-Dyaks 1 
prefer to leave for the present, until I come to speak of my doings 
in the country in which they hve. 

The villages of the Sea-Dyaks are situated in the territory between 
the Sadong and Rejang rivers. The more warhke and enterprising 
tribes at sea have been those of the Seribas and of the Sakarrang, 
one of the branches of the Batang-Lupar river. Some tribes of the 
Rejang, the Kanowit, and especially the Ketibas, were at the period 
of which I write not yet quite subject to the government of the 

y Google 

(\rmed with Sumpitan and Parang Hang.) 

y Google 


Rajah, and had not given up head-hunting. The Sibuyo Sea- 
Dyaks live on the Liindu river, near the westernmost point 
of Borneo. This tribe is said to have migrated from the lake 
region on the frontier of Sarawak, between the Batang-Lupar and the 

The Sea-Dyaks are usually of middle height or rather small ; 
the taller men rarely exceed 5 ft. 5 in,, and 5 ft. 3 in. may be 
considered their average stature. They are stoutly built, with broad 
chests and well-proportioned limbs, aJthoiigh not usually showing 
any great muscular development (Fig. ii). The skin is brown and 
often a. shade lighter than in the Malays ; the face broad, with very 
prominent cheek-bones ; but the lower jaw is weak and the chin 
pointed. Their expression, however, is calm and resolute. The 
eyes are straight and not sunken ; the nose is always snub, but not 
depressed, often straight, but with very wide alte. They have no 
hair on the face ; that on the head, black and smooth, is worn tied 
up into a knot or else very long and loose behind, but cut more or 
less in front. 

The women are always smaller than the men, and have the nose 
somewhat more flattened, and the forehead narrower. Even when 
quite young, they are less elegantly shaped than the men, and always 
rather clumsy in their gait ; they are, however, often well formed 
and have a pleasing face, but very Mongoloid in its character 
(Fig. 13}, They usually wear the bedang, a kind of short 
petticoat, wrapped tightly round the waist, and hardly reaching the 
knees ; it consists merely of a piece of dark-coloured cotton doth 
of their own make. At times they also wear a jacket or 
baju. The strangest part of the dress of the Dyak women is 
the collection of rings of thick brass wire, for which rings of rotangs 
(rattans) are substituted in the poorer classes. These are worn in 
great profusion round the waist, and besides fixing the bedang, 
effectually cover the abdomen,^ The head is usually uncovered, 
but on festive occasions special head-dresses are to be seen, such as 
the highly characteristic " sisir " of silver worn by the Seribas girls 
(Fig. 12), Often necklaces of glass beads and bracelets of silver 
are worn, but more commonly the forearm up to the elbow is 
covered with a spiral of close-fitting rings of thick brass wire. 

The usual dress of the men consists merely of the " jawat," a 
piece of cloth passed between the legs and secured round the waist, 
hanging with the ends in front and behind. This cloth is at the 
present day usually of European manufacture, but many stiU wear 

1 Low. Sarawak, p. 167. 

2 A similar costume is worn by the Kachin women in Burma, and the 
Karin, who have so many traits in common with the Dyaks, cover the body and 
limbs with big spirab of brass wire. (Fea, Quatlri anni fra i Bhniam, pp. 204, 
465,466, figs, 152, 153. Milano, 1896.) 


y Google 

y Google 


the original native article, made by beating the bark of different 
trees, or else woven in cotton, and similar to that used for the 
bedang of the women. On the head the men wear a piece of 
cotton cloth, elegantly folded, or else a piece of bark cloth 
dyed yellow, and not infrequently ornamented with the black 
and white feathers of the hornbill, or of other large birds, which 
contribute greatly to the ' elegance of such a head-dress. 
The most characteristic ornament of certain tribes of the Seribas and 
Sakarrang Dyaks consists of the huge brass rings they wear in their 
ears. Through the biggest rings the fist can easily pass, and these 
hang below ; above are smaller ones, gradually diminishing, and 
surrounding the entire margin of the ear, which is for this purpose 
bored with holes all round. Around the neck they wear necklaces 
of glass beads or teeth, the latter sometimes human. On the upper 
arm a thick ring of white sheU is very frequently worn, and the 
forearm is covered with a spiral of brass wire reaching the elbow. 
Similar spirals are worn on the legs, below the knee. The ornaments 
worn on the head, neck, arms, legs, etc., etc., and many other minor 
peculiarities in dress, are far from being of a uniform type, and often 
are distinctive and characteristic of each tribe. 

The favourite weapons of the Sea-Dyaks are spears and the 
" sumpitan," usually combined ; but most characteristic is the 
peculiar long knife or kris called the " parang-ilang." Inaddition to 
these they have a kind of sword. For defence they use big shields 
of a light wood, and padded jackets, an efficient protection against 
the small poisoned darts blown through the sumpitan. Of these, 
and also of the parang-ilang, I shall speak at greater length further 
on. The sumpitan darts are carried in a small bamboo quiver, about 
fourteen inches in length and three inches in diameter, worn on 
the side and secured by a hook to the waist-cloth. The Dyaks are 
poor hands at throwing the spear, and very inferior in this respect 
to the Papuans and other primitive tribes. They excel, however, 
in the use of the parang, both in war and for sundry domestic 

The use in warfare of the arme blanche, which can only be wielded 
effectually at close quarters, ought to prove great personal courage 
in those who use it. But although I do not wish to deny a certain 
amount of this quality to the Dyaks, yet it must nevertheless be 
confessed that their warfare consists always in sudden assaults on 
people who cannot defend themselves. Their war expeditions, 
indeed, do not deserve such a name, for they hardly ever consist in 
a battle between armed parties, but in sudden attadis and treacher- 
ous surprises, though often the exploits of Dyak warriors are strictly 

The expeditions of the Sea-Dyaks are less for the sake of glory or 
of booty than for the purpose of procuring heads. It does not matter 

y Google 


whether these be taken from defenceless or unsuspecting victims, 
man or woman, or from harmless villagers, surprised in their sleep. 
The prowess and bravery of the warrior is secure in the eyes of his 
fellow tribesmen and neighbours if he be only in possession of 
the coveted trophy. It has been said, and the assertion is quite 
true, that the title-deeds of nobility amongst the Dyaks consist 
of the number of heads a man and his ancestors have collected. 
Not infrequently a Dyak starts on a head-hunting expedition 
by himself, as a relaxation or to wear off the effects of a domestic 
squabble, just as with us a man might go out rabbit-shooting to 
get over an attack of ill-humour. To obtain a head is for these 
savages the acme of glory, and the rejoicings and festivities held on 
such occasions are considered by them harbingers of happiness and 
plenty, bringing fine weather and good crops of rice and fruits, 
abundance of fish and game, no less than health, and fertihty in 
women. For a Dyak it is on given occasions an absolute duty to 
get a head ; as, for example, to gain the affection of their lady-love 
by a palpable proof of their prowess, or to enable them to go out of 
mourning for the death of a relative. 

The bangkong or war canoes of the Dyaks {Fig. 14) are specially 
constructed and quite different from the Malay sampan. Some are 
quite eighty feet in length, and are light and very fast. They can 
be taken to pieces, being constructed of planks bound together by 
hgatures of rotang. When a party of Sea-Dyaks on one of their war 
expeditions found themselves surprised by an enemy of greater 
strength, they would run ashore, take their canoes to pieces, and 
disperse with the planks in the forest, where it was impossible to 
follow them. 

During ray stay in Sarawak no warhke expeditions of the Sea- 
Dyaks occurred, but it is not so very long ago, as St. John tells us, 
that the Sakarrang and Seribas Dyaks used to put to sea with as 
many as 200 war canoes, extending their head-hunting expeditions 
as far as the Natunas and Pontianak. The same author narrates that 
sometimes when overtaken at sea by bad weather these Dyaks 
would jump overboard to lighten their canoe, holding on or swim- 
ming alongside, and if there were sharks about they took the pre- 
caution to tow astern a bundle of roots of " tuba " (used for stupe- 
fying and catching fish), to keep them off. 

It is said of the Sakarrang and Seribas Dyaks that within the 
memory of man they were peaceable and inoffensive, although they 
did take a few heads from inland tribes ; but afterwards the Malays 
and Lanuns took advantage of their skill as warriors, and joined 
them in piratical expeditions along the coast, for the Dyaks were 
content with the heads alone, and left the booty to their associates. 

When a small party consisting of two or three Sea-Dyaks start 
on a head-hunting expedition, they only take salt with them as 

y Google 


.provisions, feeding entirely on leaves, the young shoots of palms 
or bamboos, ajid the wild fruit they find in the forest. They do not 
object to any kind of food, and are very fond of hunting wild pigs, 
which are considered a great dehcacy ; but almost every animal 
is eaten by them. Whilst at home their staple food is rice ; they 
also cultivate bananas, sweet potatoes, and sugar-cane, as well as 
tobacco and cotton. 

On the rehgion, superstitions, and legends of the Dyaks much 
has been pubhshed, both in English and in Dutch. But I made no 
particular attempt to gather further materials on so interesting a 
subject, to do wliich a thorough knowledge of the language, which 
I could not claim to he possessed of, is necessary. Moreover, during 
my wanderings I generally kept away from the Dyak villages, around 
which the primeval forest was either absent or greatly modified, and 
afforded me little of interest. 

According to St. John ^ the Sea-Dyaks believe in the following 
deities : — 

(i) In a Supreme Being called " Batara." 
(2} In " Stampandei," who presides over generation. 
(3) In " Pulang Gana," who gives fertiUty to the soil. 
(4} In " Singalang Burong," the god of war. 

(5) In " Nattiang," ^ who inhabits the tops of mountains and 
is apparently a good spirit. 

(6) In "Apei Sabit Berkait," a spirit hostile to Nattiang, 
and of opposite nature. 

The Sea-Dyaks are great lovers of festivities, and appear to know 
how to enjoy themselves. On such occasions they go through end- 
less ceremonies with music and singing, and partake of interminable 
banquets with a huge profusion of food of all kinds, during which 
they drink abundantly of their native toddy or palm-wine, or of 
arak. The first is obtained from the fermentation of the saccharine 
juice which flows from the incised inflorescence of the Arenga 
saccharifera ; the arak is made from fermented rice, by a pro- 
cess which the Dyaks probably learnt from the Chinese. By a 
similar process they also make an arak from the fruits of the Tarn- 
pile, botanically, Hedycarpus malayanus. Jack. 

The principal feasts of the Dyaks are celebrated for the planting 
of rice, and to commemorate a death, especially if during an expe- 
dition on which heads have been obtained. On the latter occasions 
an ancient song in praise of Singalang Burong, the Dyak Mars, is 
sung. This, which is called " Mengap," has been' handed down 
from generation to generation, and is in a dialect which is almost 

1 Oil. cit. I., p. 60. 

* This corresponds, perhaps, to " Nat " of the Burmese. (Cf. Fea, Op. oil. 
pp. 158. 159, 385-) 

y Google 

y Google 


unintelligible even to those well acquainted with the Dyak 

Head-hunting is not, indeed, restricted to theDyaks of Borneo, 
but is found amongst many peoples of the Indian Archipelago from 
Sumatra to New Guinea and beyond. In past ages it was pro- 
bably practised in many other countries where civilisation has now 
caused it to become obsolete. The custom must, however, be 
looked upon neither as an expression of savage brutality, nor as a 
sort of collector's mania for accumulating the proofs of acts of 
bravery, as a sportsman keeps the trophies of the big game he has , 
killed. The psychological motive which from generation to gener- 
ation has influenced, and in a certain way consecrated, such a 
barbarous custom, is probably analogous to that which maintains 
— or used to maintain— amongst some tribes the custom of human 
sacrifices. The ardent desire in a Dyak for the possession of a 
head is always the outcome of a superstitious sentiment, of a duty 
to be performed, to propitiate or to earn the favour of a spirit, or to 
serve and benefit the soul of a dead relative or chief. 

The Sea-Dyaks have not a special " head-house," such as the 
Land-Dyaks have, which is that in which the unmarried men live. 
They suspend the heads they have collected over the fireplace, in 
the middle part of the verandah of the common dweUing-house. 

A Dyak house is an assemblage of apartments, inhabited by 
various famihes ; the quarters of each being partitioned off. Each 
division is called a "pintu," which means, hterally, " a door." 
These long houses, in which many families congregate, must have 
originated in an insecure country to facihtate defence in case of an 
attack by a hostile tribe. 

The Sea-Dyaks enjoy a free and easy kind of life. There is no 
parish clerk to register every birth and death in the community. 
They have solved the problem of conjugal and family hfe in the 
simplest manner. It is not rare to find amongst them men and 
women who have been married seven or eight times before meeting 
the mate with whom they could end their days in peace. A girl of 
sixteen or seventeen years of age may have already had two or 
three husbands, and is not for that reason less respected. The 
causes of divorce are many, and often absurd or capricious, but this 
never causes serious inconvenience. Our vaunted civihsation, 
the cumulative product of centuries of ignorant prejudices and 
foolish customs, finds insurmountable difficulties where they would 
not exist, if, in lieu of moral convention, the simple laws of Nature 
and hygiene were but followed. 

The Dyaks are very superstitious and are always in a state of 
anxious pre-occupation regarding the spirits, or " Antu," which they 

1 This song has been transcribed and printed by the Rev. j. Perham in the 
Sarawak Gazette, No. 130, April, 1877, 

y Google 

y Google 


fancy they see everywhere and recognise in any strange or un- 
usual sound. They beheve that these "Antu" wander in the 
forests, hiding in the hollow trunks of trees, or else among rocks or 
on the tops of hills, their sole business being the care of the affairs 
of mankind. To find out the intentions of the spirits regarding 
them, especially in times of trouble or danger, the Dyaks endeavour 
to draw omens from the heart of a sacrificed pig, or from the flight 
and appearance of certain birds. Everything which appears to 
them as supernatural, especially cases of sickness, is attributed to 
evil spirits, and they have " medicine-men " or shamans, whom 
they call " Manang," who are consulted on these occasions. These 
" doctors," among other peculiarities, go about dressed as women 
and charge themselves with the duty of exorcising the evil spirits 
producing the disease. The same result is supposed to be attained 
by depositing offerings in diminutive huts built on purpose at the 
landing-places or near the village. 

The Sea-Dyaks inter their dead, but to this nJe there appear to 
be exceptions. Thus certain shamans or priests called " Mulana," 
are placed after death on a raised platform : a custom practised 
elsewhere in the Eastern Archipelago, especially among the Papuans, 
but which in this case might suggest that followed by the Parsees, 
who, as is well known, place their dead on towers built for that 

It can hardly be doubted that certain beliefs amongst the Dyaks 
are derived from more highly-civilised people or from wandering 
apostles of various creeds and religions coming from the Asiatic 
continent. To such contacts must be traced their tradition re- 
garding the Deluge, which is very hke the Biblical one ; ' and the 
belief m Paradise and in Hell, called by them "Sabayana," and 
supposed^to]_be'divided into seven different stories.^ 

1 Cf. R. J. Perham, a Sea-Dyak Tradition of the Deluge, in the Sarawak 
Gasetle, No. 133, July, 1877. 

a Cf. St, John, Op, cit. I., p. 65. 

y Google 


On the Serambo Hill — Land-Dyak Village and Head-House — Pinin- 
jAU — FORpHYRiTic Hills — True and False Swifts with Edible 
Nests — Wallace and his Nocturnal Moth -Hunting — Gunong 
Skunyet — Vegetation of the Secondary Forests~Dyak Path- 
ways — Limestone Cliffs and their Caves — The Durian — Notes on 

WE had been more than four months in Sarawak and as yet 
we knew nothing of the Land-Dyaks, although from our 
verandah we could see the hills on which they lived. 

The desire to visit some of their villages was thus most natural ; 
and acting upon it, on the night of November ist, when the tide was 
in our favour, we took our sampan with our own men and sufficient 
provisions, and started for a week on the Serambo hill, where the 
Rajah had a wooden bungalow used as a coimtry villa and sana- 
torium. The tide carried us as far as Lida-tana (i.e., "Tongue of 
Land "), about fourteen miles above Kuching, where the Sarawak 
river divides into two branches. We took the one on our right, 
which turns abruptly to the west. The current was now against 
us, for the tide has no effect beyond Lida-tana, except at certain 
seasons ; whilst, on the other hand, during the great rains when the 
river is swollen — " Ayer bawa," as the Malays express it — the tide is 
only felt as far up as Kuching. It was daylight when we reached 
Bilida, about seven miles above Lida-tana, and here we landed on 
the left bank of the river, opposite the Serambo hill. 

Blida, Bellida, or Bilida, for it is thus variously rendered, is a 
small wooden fort, constructed at a time when the opposite bank 
was crowned by the big Chinese village of Sinyawan, which was 
destroyed during the mutiny to which I have already alluded. The 
fort stands on a slight eminence on the river bank, and was con- 
sidered by the Malays a strategic point, and used as such during 
wars, even before Rajah Brooke came to Sarawak. It is now 
deserted, and only used occasionally as a hunting lodge by Euro- 
peans from Kuching, for deer are abundant in the neighbourhood, 
and there are plenty of marsh-loving birds such as snipe and plover. 
We found large flocks of wild pigeons on the trees growing around, 
the " punai " of the Malays {Treron vernans), and shot many of 

y Google 


them as we awaited the Dyaks from the hill, whom we had sent for 
to take our luggage. 

These porters did not keep us waiting long; and cheerfully picked 
up oiu" traps and provisions. The pathway led at first across low 
swampy grounds, once paddy or rice-fields, but now overgrown with 
sedges and long lank grass such as Scleria and " lalang," and ferns. 
The hill is very steep, and we more than once scrambled up per- 
pendicular faces of rock by the aid of wooden ladders. After 
climbing up about 300 feet or so, we reached the first village. Here 
the " Orang Kaya,"^ or head man, in\'ited us to rest in the " Panga '* 
(Fig. 15). This is the house set apart for the residence of young 
unmarried men, in which the trophy-heads are kept, and here also 
all ceremonial receptions take place. It consists of a great hall of 
circular shape, raised above the ground on high stout piles. The 
roof is conical and pointed, and covered with a thatch of sago and 
Nipa pahn leaves. All round are window-like apertures which can 
be closed with shutters, hung on so as to be capable of being lifted or 
lowered when desired. Inside, a low bench runs round the entire 
hall : it is the general sleeping couch at night and a divan by day. 
In the centre is the iireplace. The entrance is an aperture in the 
floor, which is reached by a notched pole. 

In the " Panga " of Serambo were suspended all round a large 
number of skulls and dried heads, just hke those I had seen in the 
houses of the Sea-Dyaks. Most of these had been taken from the 
Chinese during the mutiny of 1857. The common dweUing-houses, 
raised on piles several feet above the ground, were spread over 
the hill most picturesquely in the midst of great masses of rock, 
and were embowered in palms, bananas, and other fruit trees. 

We did not remain long in the village, wishing to reach our 
destination, Pininjau, another 300 feet higher up, without further 
delay. When we got there we found that the carriers had already 
arrived with our luggage. The small bungalow which was to be 
our temporary abode was not situated on the actual summit of the 
hill, but just below it, in a charming position. It was surrounded 
by different sorts of fruit trees, especially durians and coconut 
palms, but not so densely as to impede the view. Pininjau means 
a place which has an extensive view, and it is well named, for we 
commanded a great extent of country, and could get a compre- 
hensive idea of the entire basin of the Sarawak river. Only the 
mountains in which it arises were hidden from us by the summit of 
Pininjau, the remainder of the horizon being open. 

Towards the north the view extended to the sea, and the inter- 
vening plain below us was Hke an immense carpet of verdure, broken 
only by the river, which cleaves it in undulating curves, and can be 

» " Kaya" signifies " ricli " in Malay, 

y Google 

y Google 


traced to its mouth, which is well marked by the isolated Santubong 
hill. Farther to the west Singhi, the Mattang group, and in the iar 
distance Gunong Poe are visible. Due west no mountain chains 
exist, but on the other side of the Sarawak river, and at no great 
distance, the Staat hill can be made out, and a curious isolated 
pillar-like rock about 200 feet high, which, I was told, is called 
Gtmong Bulu, Between this pillar-like rock and Gunong Gumbang 
the country is flat, and across it hes the best and shortest road 
leading from the territory of Sarawak into that of Sambas. Not 
only is it entirelywithoutmountains, which are, nevertheless, marked 
here in almost all the maps of this part of Borneo, but not even 
slight elevations are to be seen. The Dyaks have a legend that in 
olden times the sea covered these lowlands, and assert that canoes 
could cross from Sambas into Sarawak, which was an island 
completely detached from Borneo.^ The view is closed by 
Gunong Bunga, whose irregular and pointed peaks are extremely 
picturesque. Besides the mountains mentioned, which form, as 
it were, the frame of the picture, there are other elevations which 
can scarcely be called either mountains or hills, but rather isolated 
crags. These are of limestone formation, and in some of them veins 
of antimony are found ; whilst the alluvial soil all round affords 
gold washings, in which a large number of Chinese are employed. 

A few steps from Pininjau bungalow is a cave out of which flows 
a stream of deliciously cool water, which is one of the most attractive 
features of the place. On the Serambo hill are three Dyak villages : 
Pininjau, Bombok, and Serambo, all situated below the bungalow. 
The hiU does not form part of any mountainous chain, but 
rises abruptly from the plain, like the calcareous rocks above men- 
tioned ; but it differs from these in its formation, consisting of 
crystaUine rocks of a porphyritie nature. To this formation, too, 
belongs Singhi, and also probably some of the adjoining hills, whose 
geological structure I was not able to examine closely. 

Round about Pininjau bungalow numbers of a small swift were 
continually flying. We secured specimens for preservation, and 
found that it was CoUocalia linchii, Horsf. & Moore. This is a 
species often confused with the other producing the gelatinous nests 
so highly esteemed by the Chinese. The Dyaks brought us its 
nests, which we found to be made mostly of moss glued together by 
a smaU quantity of the prized gelatinous substance. The nests of 
good quality are, however, formed entirely of this white and trans- 

I Cf. regarding this legend, W. Denison, On Land-Dyaks, in Sarawak 
Gazette, No. 125, November 1676, who writes : " In old days they say ships 
and boats came right across from what is now the Sambas coast, past the 
Sibungo range to Sarawak. A small columnar mountain midway between 
Gumbang and Gading, called " ]i-mas," was then only just above water, and 
praus used to touch there for ballast and big stones for anchors," 

y Google 


lucent material, with little or no admixture of feathers and other 
impurities. The swifts producing the valuable edible nests {Collocalia 
nidifica) inhabit the caves in the limestone hills near Serajnbo, and 
are a source of considerable revenue to the Dyaks of the village, 

Wallace had lived for some time at this very Pininjau bungalow, 
and ■ made some memorable captures of nocturnal lepidoptera. 
They were singularly successful, but we were not so fortunate, 
although many were the species which used to fly about the 
verandah, attracted by our hghts. 

One day I started to visit one of the limestone crags in our 
neighbourhood, and got some Dyaks to guide me to Gunong Skun- 
yet, a small isolated eminence which rises abruptly from the plain 
to the north. The route we took led us through a part which was 
once cultivated, and no traces of the primeval forest remained ; in 
point of fact there is no such forest around Pininjau. The ground 
is varied and undulated, forming ridges and depressions ; some of 
the former are covered with lalang grass, but the vegetation is 
mostly that which always grows where the old forest has been cleared, 
and is composed mainly of species which have a wide geo- 
graphical distribution, and are in no way specially representative of 
the endemic flora of the island. But amongst them was an excep-^ 
tion, a shrub belonging to the Scrophulariaceee, which turned out to^ 
be the type of a new genus, described by Bentham under the namej 
of Brookea dasyantha. 

Most of the plants grew as bushes or large shrubs, and were 
species of the genera Eurya^ Adinandra, Ficus, Vernonia (an 
arboreal composite), Ma^^iH, etc., etc., all characteristic of the forest 
of secondary growth. 

In the low-lj^ng parts the path was very bad, and we sank in 
mud and water to our knees, whilst elsewhere it was most difficult 
to keep one's footing on the slippery argillaceous soil. When such 
paths are recently made, and lead to a new plantation of the Dyaks, 
they are fairly practicable, the worst spots being improved by lay- 
ing down small tree-trunks ; but these rot in a very short time, and 
then only make matters worse, for they are apt to snap suddenly 
and precipitate the traveller with scant ceremony into the mire. 

In the small valleys between the hills the grasses grow tall, and 
form the habitual feeding grounds of deer ; but we met with none 
on that occasion. It took us fully four hours to reach Gunong 
Skunyet, an enormous limestone crag which rises abruptly into 
peaks, is quite isolated, and most difficult of ascent. I got up to a 
sort of cave or iissure which penetrated the cliff, but I did not even 
attempt to chmb to the summit. 

In limestone cliffs such as these the rock is full of holes, ero- 
sions, fissures, and caves ; and the configuration often most fantastic, 
and so sharply pointed and jagged that cLmbing was a painful 

y Google 


business, wearing, as I did, thin-soled cloth shoes, wet and sodden 
into the bargain by the previous wading through mud and water. 
I thus gave up the attempt to get to the top, which could only have 
been done by means of the creepers and roots, which, not unhke 
gigantic serpents, hung from the perpendicular face of the rock. 
This was so precipitous as to be in many places quite bare — a rare 
case in Borneo — whilst along the summit of the cliff the vegetation 
grew like a huge crest. 

The erosions in the limestone are no doubt due to the atmo- 
spheric agency taking effect in those places where the rocky mass 
presents inequalities of composition. But the big fissures and the 
caves, so frequent in rocks of this kind, must be a consequence of their 
origin. If, as I believe, these pecuhar hmestone crags are of madre- 
poric origin, they are the result of an accumulation of inorganic 
matter' deposited by polyps in the sea. Everyone who has had 
occasion to examine Hving corals or madreporic rocks in situ, and 
has noted how the polyps multiply, can easily understand how 
caverns may form in the rocks they give rise to. In a coral rock 
in process of formation, the polyps at work very rarely grow in a 
uniform manner, and never form compact masses — interspaces and 
hollows frequently occurring between one colony and another. 
When such interspaces are extensive, as in the case of colonies 
growing separately and coming into contact later in the progress 
of their growth, fissures or caverns necessarily result, which are not 
less marked in the rock when it has emerged from the sea than in its 
former submarine condition. 

The non -calcareous hills and mountains in Borneo, however 
precipitous, may always be distinguished by their smooth and 
rounded outline, which is partly due also to the vegetation which 
contrives to take root even in the smallest crannies. Aiid this 
vegetation does not consist only of grasses, mosses, or small bushes, 
but of large shrubs, climbers and trees, which cover every inch 

I had only brought as provisions some cooked rice and a box of 
sardines, but on the road we had found an addition to my dinner 
in the shape of some cucumbers which the Dyaks had sowed in 
their paddy-fields. Though rather bitter, these were very refreshing. 
We returned by a route only shghtly different from that we had 
come by, but we were under the disadvantage of walking during 
the hottest hours of the day, over ground which, being covered by 
forest of secondary growth, offered but a poor protection against 
the sun's rays, I was therefore very thankful when we reached 
the foot of the Serambo hill, and entered a fine grove of durian trees, 
imder whose welcome shade we halted to rest. I brought down 
some of the big fruits with a shot or two from my gun. They were 
not yet quite ripe, but the pulp covering the seeds was already well 


y Google 

y Google 


developed, and in this state I found it even more palatable than 
when completely ripe. The durian is the favourite fruit of the 
Dyaks, and the rich buttery pulp which surrounds the seeds is con- 
sidered most delicious by those Europeans who have been able to 
overcome the strong smell of rotten garlic which it gives forth. 
(Fig. i6).i 

A delicious bathe in the cool and hmpid spring entirely took 
away the effects of the heat and the long tramp, and I was able to 
sit down to dinner with a splendid appetite. 

On November 7th we discovered to our dismay that our pro- 
\i5i0ns were running out, that our ammunition was expended, and 
that the paper for preparing botanical specimens was also exhausted. 
A return to Kuching became imperative, and with great regret we 
were obliged to put an end to our delightful visit at Pininjan, and 
to say good-bye to the good Dyaks of Serambo. 

The Land-Dyaks, concerning whom I will now say a word or 
two, are limited to that portion of Western Borneo which is in- 
cluded between the Sadong and Pontianak rivers. A large portion, 
therefore, of these people live on Dutch territory, whence it is be- 
lieved that the Sarawak tribes also originally came. 

These Dyaks have not the bold and arrogant look which dis- 
tinguishes the Sea-Dyaks. They are quieter and milder in their 
habits, and more modest in their dress. They are undoubtedly 
Malayan like their sea brethren, but differ from the latter in many 
respects. They are in general smaller and uglier. Some grow scanty 
moustaches and a shght beard on the chin (Fig. 17). They are often 
affected by a skin disease known in Borneo as " kurap," which is 
produced by a minute acarus which penetrates beneath the epider- 
mis, and is very similar, if not actually identical, to that producing 
the itch. I at least recognized this amongst the Papuans and in 
the Molucca Islands, where the same disease is very common and 
is known by the Portuguese term of " cascado," * 

1 I have written at some length on the durian, and on the wUd species of 
thisfruitwhichgrowinBorneo.inmy workentitled"Ma;w}<i" p. 230). 
The durian, as I have already remarked, is unknown in the wild state ; but 
considering that various wild species very neariy akin grow in the Malay 
Peninsula and in Borneo, it must belong to the flora of these regions. We 
are thus obliged to suppose that the durian in its present form must have 
grown in the past in land then existing between Borneo and the Peninsula ; 
or else that in the wild condition it has been exterminated by man in the 
Bornean and Malayan forests. But we are also free to suppose that the fruit 
owes the extraordinary development which it has attained to cultivation, or, 
better still, to the indirect protection afforded it by primitive man. For a 
durian left to its own resources has scant chances of being able to reproduce 
itself, for its fruits are gathered on the trees by monkeys and other arboreal 
animals, while on the ground wild boars, attracted by the powerful smell, soon 
come and devour them. 

' Ci. Malesia, Vol, I., p. 94. Probably the acari found by the author 

y Google 


The honesty, and I may add the genuine goodness, of the Land- 
Dyaks is remarkable, and they are at the same time noted for their 
ingenuousness and simplicity. The Malays often take advantage 
of this to impose on them. They nickname them " Bodo," i.e., 
" Stupids," and make fun of their spirits and religious ceremonies. 
Ik past years the Land-Dyaks suffered greatly from the head- 
hunting expeditions of the Sakarrang and Seribas Dyaks, by whom 
they were often decimated. The Malays, too, used to victimise 
them, and before the advent of Sir James Brooke forced them to 
work in the antimony mines at a ridiculous rate of pay, such as a 
few beads or rings of brass wire. They are now fairly prosperous. 
The Rajah's government does not require of them, nor of ajiy of its 
other native subjects, any kind of obligatory labour ; and each head 
of a family merely has to pay a small tax. 

They grow a suf&ciency of rice for their own use, with a surplus 
to sell ; they possess an abundance of fruit both cultivated and 
wild, while the forest gives them in addition a variety of products 
for their own use and for trade. They do not, like the Sea-Dyaks, 
eat all kinds of food. Thus the ox — which, however, they rarely 
see — is regarded as sacred, and they would not dream of eating 
beef. Nor do they eat the buffalo or the goat ; and some tribes, 
e.g., the Singhi, will not eat the flesh of the deer. In some cases 
they even refrain from poultry. Pork, however, is regarded as a 
great luxury, and wild pigs are hunted with dogs, but oftener taken 
in traps called " petti," which consist of a horizontal bamboo stake 
{jerunkan), driven by a strong spring, which is released on the 
animals touching a string which is placed across the path. These 
traps are very dangerous for human beings who wander in- 
cautiously where they are set, generally producing a frightful wound 
in the knee, that being the height at which the bamboo stake or 
arrow is placed to transfix the pig. 

The Land-Dyaks usually cremate their dead, an unusual thing 
amongst primitive peoples. They make no idols or images repre- 
senting the souls of the departed. It is said, however, that on 
certain occasions some tribes pay a sort of worship to wooden 
figures representing birds. They have plants which they consider 
sacred, such as the " bulu gading," or ivory bamboo ; the " bunga 
si kudip " {Eurycles ambonensis), mentioned by Low, which, 
however, I have not myself met with in Borneo ; and Dracaena 
ierminalis, which latter appears to have followed human migration 
from Southern India as far as New Guinea. 

were accidental merely, for the disease known as " cascade," so prevalent 
in Malaysia and the Pacific Islands, is due to a vegetable parasite 
(^Trichophyton), and has gained its scientific name. Tinea circtnata or 
imbricata, from the circular and overlapping patterns it produces on the 


y Google 



The Land-Dyaks are very superstitious, as are their fellow- 
countrymen the Sea-Dyaks, and fancy that they see spirits, or 
" Antu," as they call them, everywhere, floating in the air, and 
wandering in the forest, or on the summits of the mountains. 
According to Low the chief of these is " Tuppa " in the case of some 
tribes, " Jeroang " in others. " Jewata " is also known, but is 

probably not a native divinity, the name being evidently derived 
from the Indian " Dewata." " Tuppa " and " Jeroang " are superior 
and kindly, disposed divinities, who have belonging to them certain 
secondary spirits called " Pertjia." The bad genii they call 
"Jim" (evidently the "Jin" of the Arabs); these frequent the 
lower strata of the atmosphere, the other spirits keeping to 
the upper regions. The "Triu" and "Kamang" are mountain 
and forest spirits ; the first good, the latter maleficent, and both of 
bellicose tendencies. 

The Land-Dyaks, hke other primitive peoples, have a super- 
stitious awe of mountain tops, whither they can with difficulty be 

y Google 


induced to accompany travellers. They fear the spirits which they 
firmly believe to be always prowling about such places. The 
Dyaks imagine the "Kamang" as having bodies covered with 
reddish hair like the orang utan. It is for this reason that hairiness 
in man is not only considered unclean, but also uncanny : a feeUng 
of repulsion which may possibly hav^ originated generations ago 
amongst the ancestors of these people, in consequence of a hostile 
invasion of a hairy race. An instinctive abhorrence to red hair 
was felt also by the ancient Romans. 

It may be hardly possible to trace the origin of the Dyak 
divinities, although the origin of gods is doubtless subject to fixed 
rules. I have no doubt that, if the Lantt-Dyaks were for the future 
to be completely isolated from civilisation, the memory of Sir 
James Brooke would be transmitted to their descendants in the 
shape of a new deity. Low, in fact, asserts that in addition to 
"Tuppa," "Jeroang," the sun, the moon, and the stars, the Land- 
Dyaks worship Rajah Brooke, the elder. 

What especially strikes all who have studied the ways and habits 
of these people are the patent and abundant traces of Hinduism 
which they retain, and which may be looked upon as the remnants 
of a former Hindu- Javanese domination in Borneo. I do not, 
however, beheve, as some do, that the Land-Dyaks are derived 
from the Javanese colony of the epoch corresponding to the great 
Indo-Javanese dominion, when Hindu ■ civilisation flourished in 
that island. That hypothesis is based on the discovery of ruins of 
Brahmanistic buildings in Sarawak, which doubtless are referable 
to that period. The manners and customs of a people do not, any 
more than their religion, necessarily show their origin. Just as 
there are at present in Borneo missionaries of different rehgions, 
Mussulman and Christian, so it was probably in olden times ; and 
the apostles of Hinduism may have left scant traces of their pre- 
sence in the shape of descendants modifying the physical characters 
of the people amongst whom they lived, but may have been com- 
pletely successful in substituting their own for the original belief 
of the natives.' 

The houses of the Land-Dyaks are built much in the same way 
as those of the Sea-Dyaks, but have a lesser number of " fintu " or 
apartments. A Land-Dyak village, instead of consisting, as is 
often the case with those of the Sea-Dyaks, of one huge long house, 

>- It maybe suggested with some certainty that," if the Dyaks came ori- 
ginally to Borneo from over the sea, they must have had the same ancestors 
as the savage tribes who can still be traced on the islands ofi the West Coast of 
Sumatra. The remarkable similarities which exist between the customs of 
the Land-Dyaks and those of the natives of Nias, so well described by Elio 
Modighani, almost suffice to prove this. Most important of these is the 
constructing of a special house in which bachelors sleep and the trophy-heads 


y Google 



in which many families live, is composed of separate houses with 
only a few families in each. The houses are rather scattered, 
taking advantage of the local conditions, and mostly built in places 
not easily accessible. 

The principal article of dress amongst the Land-Dyaks is the 
" jawat" already described, once generally made of bark-cloth, but 
now that they have grown richer often of foreign manufacture, or 
else of a strong cotton cloth with variously coloured designs, wo\-en 

by the women on a very primitive loom (Fig. 13). They also use a 
cotton head-cloth, or one of bark-cloth of a yellow colour, but they 
do not wear it with the nattiness and elegance of the Sea-Dyaks. 
The women have the same kind of clothing and ornaments as 
their sisters among the Sea-Dyaks — ^a short petticoat and similar 
ornaments of brass and shell on the arms and legs (Fig. 18). 
In many villages they wear a broad belt of bark -cloth called " sala- 

y Google 


dan," which is worn tight round the abdomen in a way which seems 
uncomfortable enough. In other \'iUages this is replaced by a belt 
formed of several hoops of rotang. They usually go bare-headed, 
but on certain festive occasions they wear a cap and a long skirt, and 
put round their necks all they possess in the Way of necklaces, 
formed of most heterogeneous materials, to which are hung various 
amulets and charms. 

The weapons of the Land-Dyaks are the plain spear and the 
parang, which is very like the Malay sword termed " parang 
battok." The blade is about twenty inches in length, widest near 
the extremity and gradually narrowing towards the hilt, which is 
bent at an obtuse angle to the blade. In the Malay weapon the hilt 
is of wood, in the Dyak parang it is of iron, continuous with the 
blade and usually provided witii a small bar placed crosswise which 
serves as a guard, and terminated with a tuft of hair. The Land- 
Dyaks do not use the sumpitan. 

Another article invariably carried by these Dyaks is a small bag 
of woven rotang strips, in which they keep the siri ingredients, 
and fire-lighting apparatus, as well as a small knife for cutting the 
areca nuts, and sphtting rotangs, of which they make much use. 

y Google 


Excursion to Mount Mattang — Malay Adzes — Cynogale Bennetti — ■ 
In Search of a Road to the Summit — -Some Methods of Seed 
Dispersion — ^Difficulties in getting Botanical Specimens — ^How 
A Forest can be Explored — My Reasons for climbing 
Mattang — The " Umbut " — Dwarf Palms — Thin Rotangs — A 
Lanko^-Sudden Storms— Impressions in the Mattang Forest- 
Phosphorescence and Fireflies — Insects, Flowers, and Light-^ 
Quop — Flying-Foxes. 

AFTER my first attempt to reach the Mattang mountain by 
crossing the forest of Kuching, the Tuan Muda had kindly 
ordered the Singhi Dyaks to cut a path from Siul to the mountain. 
In October this pathway was completed, and I decided to use it at 
once and endeavour to reach the summit. It was arranged that 
Tuan-ku Yassim was to be my companion. 

I left Kuching at eight o'clock on the morning of November 13th, 
with four men and provisions for a week, consisting principally of rice, 
which is the basis of daily food for Malays and Dyaks ; the remainder 
was to be got with our guns in the forest. Each Malay, besides the 
inseparable parang, had taken a " bilion," with him — the instrument 
always used by them for cutting down trees. The bilion is an iron 
adze, made on the principle of the stone one to this day in use among 
various tribes of New Guinea and Polynesia, and in prehistoric times 
amongst Europeans, It has a wedge-shaped blade which comes to 
a point at the butt-end ; this is ingeniously fastened by rotangs to a 
knee-like handle in such a way that it can be turned at various in- 
clinations and easily taken out, which enables the implement to be 
used in difEerent ways, and also Hke an axe. The handle is named 
"perda," and is made with a soft but tough wood, " kayu plai," 
In the hands of a Malay the bihon is far more efficacious than 
the best European axe, to which he greatly prefers it. 

As I was anxious to travel quickly my personal luggage was 
reduced to the smallest dimensions, and one man took both his own 
things and mine in his " tambuk," a light but stroi^ basket made 
of thin slips of rotang and carried hke a knapsack on the back. I 
took no botanical paper, and restricted myself to a jar filled with 
spirits for preserving zoological specimens, the indispensable 
taxidermic instruments, a thermometer, an aneroid, and a few 
medicines, especially quinine, chlorodyne, and laudanum ; fever and 

y Google 


dysentery being the two principal maladies to be guarded against 
in this country. 

We got on pretty fast as far as Siul, where the Tuan-ku was to 
join us. He was not ready when we passed his house, but he caught 
us up, accompanied by another native, at the iitUe stream which had 
barred my way when I first attempted to reach Mattang. Over this 
we found a tree-trunk, or " batang," had been thrown, by which 
we crossed. As we were proceeding, a small dog, which had accom- 
panied the Tuan-ku, started two animals which looked much like 
otters. I fired at one, but my gun had got damp with the rain which 
had been falling fast for the last hour, and did not go off. The Tuan- 
ku having fired at the other and wounded it, the dog gave chase, 
and we ultimately secured it. 

The forest was at this point very marshy, the gi"ound covered 
with surface-roots, which formed alternate lumps and awkward 
water-holes, and it was no easy matter to get along. I sank 
several times up to the knees in soft black slush, but where undis- 
turbed, the water was fimpid and drinkable, though of the colour 
of strong tea. The trees here were not of large size, but grew 
thickly together ; the number of species was large, and had I been 
able to stay and collect I should no doubt have got some interesting 
novelties. But for the present I had to content myself with the 
fact that I had secured a good specimen of Cynogale bennetti, a rare 
and curious animal with the habits and appearance of an otter, but 
belonging to the family of Viverridfe. 

We continued along the pathway made by the Dyaks, which 
improved as soon as we got out of the low marshy tract. On nearing 
the mountain the ground got quite dry, and the forest less choked 
up with underwood, bushes, etc., so that we were able to travel 
faster. Towards three o'clock in the afternoon we reached a small 
gambir plantation recently made by some Chinese.' In the midst 
of the clearing was a hut built by them, and here we halted for the 

As the rice was being cooked I skinned the Cynogale, making a 
present of the carcase to our hosts. I had just finished the operation, 
and was still holding the skin, when one of the Chinamen who was 
looking on suddenly snatched it out of my hands, and, tiefore I 
could prevent him, pulled out some of the long moustache-like hairs 
from the creature's muzzle. He had evidently been watching his 
opportunity, but what on earth he wanted with the hairs I was 
unable to learn, I got them back soon enough, however, and gave 
him, as may be imagined, a good talking to. 

' The Vncaria gambir is a shrub from which a dark astringent substance, 
a kind of catechu, or terra japonica, is extracted ; it is now much used in 
■commerce both by dyers and tanners. 


Hoslod by 



The hut was small, and the four or five Chinese to whom it 
belonged, after finishing their meal^which was more ample than 
ours, by reason of my contribution to their larder — and their pipe 
of opium, went to sleep. We made the best of the accommodation 
afforded us, and slept more or less badly till morning. 

The next day, November r4th, I wished to get off before sunrise, 
but I had to give up the idea. Early starts were always a difficulty 
with the Malays, for whom the morning slumber has special charms. 
The Chinamen's hut was at the foot of the mountain, near a deep, 
narrow ra\ine which appeared to descend abruptly from the summit. 
To reach the latter from this side appeared difficult. We therefore 
decided to go round the base of the mountain in search of a better 
place for the ascent. Our way led us through a part where the forest 
was of extraordinary beauty, the variety of the trees being almost 
unlimited. But I had at that moment to be content with admiring 
all these treasures, for had I attempted to collect even a portion of 
what I handled we should never have reached our destination. 
Besides, this was the place where I intended to explore the forest 
exhaustively later on, the principal object of the present excursion 
being to find a spot on the mountain on which a hut could be built. 
This was to be the centre of future explorations, and it was my 
intention to remain several months in it, with my men and all the 
requisites for collecting. 

In merely crossing the forest, as we did, little indeed can be col- 
lected by the naturalist. It is true that on the way many plants are 
met with within easy reach of the hand, such as small palms, 
aroids, gingers, grasses, etc., or dwarf shrubs and bushes from 
which specimens may be got with a few strokes of the parang. 
But the bulk of the vegetation in Borneo consists of forest trees 
which are inaccessible to the passer-by, and for that very reason 
less known and more interesting. 

A Bomean primeval forest is not formed like our European 
woods by one or at most a few kinds of trees, but of an incredible 
number of species. I have never counted the number of trees 
growing on a measured area in a Bomean forest ; but the number is 
certainly very large, both in individuals and in species. Naturally, 
it would vary in different localities ; thus on the slopes of mountains 
the number of individuals of a given species is greater than in the 
valleys or on the plain ; whilst on these the variety of species is 
larger, for it is here that fruits and seeds carried by the streams and 
spread by frequent inundations accumulate in large quantities, I 
beheve that such indeed is the most efficacious of the many ways 
of dispersion of seeds of forest trees on the plains, the more so as 
the rainy season corresponds with that of the ripening of their fruits. 
It must not, however, be forgotten that there are quite a number 
of plants for whose seeds no such means of dispersal are availabk. 

y Google 


In these seed distribution is ensured by means of the wind, by birds, 
or by other animals. In this group undoubtedly come all epiphytes, 
so abundant amongst the high branches of the great forest trees, and 
so tantalising to the botanist who cannot collect them when circum- 
stances oblige him to travel hastily through the forest. The same 
may be said of cHmbing plants, for although in many cases their 
flowers may actually grow along the stem, their foliage usually 
twists and climbs high up amongst the trees, rendering it often 
impossible for the passing collector to get specimens. For these 
and other reasons a complete investigation of the forest flora is 
not possible during cursory excursions. One way of overcoming 
such difhciilties is to get information of spots where clearings 
for industrial or agricultural purposes are being made in the 
forest ; one can then easily superintend the operations of tree- 
felling and select such specimens as may prove interesting, taking 
advantage, naturaJly, of the flowering season. Another way— the 
one which I usually adopted — is to go into the forest with a party 
of natives, good climbers and wood-cutters, and direct the collection 
of such specimens as are wanted ; but for such work plenty of time 
is required, and it cannot be got through hurriedly. For these 
reasons, then, I resolved to build a hut on Mattang, where I could 
remain sufficiently long for a thorough investigation of the local- 

Our route round the base of the mountain was a varied one. In 
the dips and valleys the vegetation was unusually thick and matted 
on account of the great number of rotangs. In places where water 
accumulated the number of species was greater than elsewhere, and 
the shade was of the densest. Not the slenderest sun-ray penetrated 
the mass of vegetation. Here shrubs with long slender stems were 
frequent, hterally covered with mosses, Hepaticfe, and small ferns, 
chiefly Hymenophyllacecs. But one peculiarity which could not' 
fail to strike the botanist in the kind of forest which I have attempted 
to describe, is the quantity of cryptogamic growths living on the 
green and growing leaves of the shrubs and bushes forming the under- 
growth. Ahnost every leaf, even those of herbaceous plants, is 
covered with minute Hepaticte, lichens, mosses, and fungi. 

Near a small stream we met with several specimens of a very tall 
palm, a species of "nibong" (Oncosperma horrida. Griff.) usually 
known in Sarawak by the name of "laramakor." It has 
amidst its central fronds a " cabbage," which is excellent eating. 
The Malays call this part, which is also edible in other palms, " um- 
but." As we were rather short of provisions anything of the kind 
we could procine in the jungle was very welcome, and we cut down 
the tree to utihse its cabbage. It was ii8 ft. in height, and the 
stem alone from the ground-level to the insertion of the first frond 
was 102 ft, 


y Google 


Wandering on without finding a suitable place to commence the 
ascent oi the mountain, we readied a part of the forest where the 
trees were of enormous height and size, the ground beneath being 
quite bare and devoid of undergrowth. I found by examining the 
dead leaves, which formed a soft, brown carpet over which it was 
pleasant to walk, that these trees were of species belonging to the 
genera Shorea, Hopea, and Dipterocarpus, members of the family 
which bears the latter name. Game was scarce, and except a few 
" pergams," huge pigeons of the genus Carpophaga, which were 
perched high up in the trees beyond range, no animals were met 

After a very long tramp we found that we were going roiind a 
projecting spur, which would have led us away from, rather than 
towards the mountain. This induced us to try the ascent, although 
the place was very steep ; but the vegetation was so dense and there 
were so many roots to hold on by and obtain a footing, that we 
managed to reach a sort, of terrace which extended on a level for 
a considerable distance. This led us, though at a higher elevation, 
back towards the spot where we had been turned aside by the moun- 
tain spur. Here I found a diminutive pinang very abundant, with a 
stem hardly as thick as one's httle finger, and growing to about a 
man's height (Areca minuta, Sch^ff.) We also met with a small 
species of Licuala with undivided and nearly circular leaves, of the 
shape of a Chinese fan (L. orbicularis, Becc.}. The Dyaks use 
these leaves, which they call " daun nisang," for making thatch 
and hats, and especially for wrapping up " nassi " (cooked rice), 
tobacco, etc., etc. 

After a couple of hours or so of hard climbing and a. rest for some 
food, we at length gained the summit, or rather what we imagined 
,to be so. Even here it was forest-clad, and I was obhged to cut 
down some trees to get a view. These were neither very tall nor very 
stout here, but their wood was singularly tough. When they were 
cleared away we found that we could overlook the country as far 
as Kuching. From this elevation the plain looked like an immense 
expanse of verdure extending to the far horizon, formed by the- 
upper surface of the dense forest. In some places large blotches 
of another tint were conspicuous ; these were mostly white, and were 
caused by forest trees in full blossom. Some, however, were of a 
bright red, a colour which I found later to be due to the flowers of a 
giant h.z.-a.a.{Bauhinia Burbidgii), which displays its brilhant colouring 
by climbing over the tops of the biggest trees. Having found a 
small bit of level ground, we all set to work to clear it in order to 
build a " lanko," or temporary hut, wherein to pass the night. In 
case no water was to be found on the summit, I had had sections of 
bamboo filled at the spring where we took our last meal. 

While the men were busy setting itp our lanko and lighting 

y Google 


the fire to cook rice, the Tuan-ku and I followed the crest of the 
mountain to see whether we could get higher. We found a pathway 
evidently traced by wild animals. The Singhi Dyaks occasionally, 
though rarely, ascend the mountain in search of very slender rotangs 
which grow nowhere else in these parts, and which they apply to 
various uses. We also found them abundant here, and collected a 
quantity; the Malays call them "rotang rawat," i.e. brass- 
wire rotangs, or " rotang tikus," i.e. mouse rotangs, to denote their 
diminutive size. Some of them when cleaned are hardly more than 
one-fifteenth of an inch in diameter, the stoutest being one-fifth of an 
inch. They belong to a variety of Calamus javensts, or a very 
closely alhed species. 

After walking for about half an hour we reached another peak ; 
but through the trees we could make out that we were not, even then, 
on the highest point of Mattang. I did not collect any plants, but 
noted that the most abundant tree about the summit was a Casua- 
rina which is very like one which grows also in the plain. But it 
was getting late, so we returned to where we had left our men work- 
ing at the lanko. We took back with us a good bundle of 
rotangs, the best existing binding material the forest affords. 

The "lanko" or "langko" are temporary huts which the 
Dyaks put up in the forest when required. In a country like Borneo, 
where the necessary materials abound, this is easily done. Such 
huts are a necessity to those obliged to pass a night in the forest 
in a climate so damp and rainy, where it would be impossible to 
sleep on the ground suh Jove, if only on accomit of the innumerable 
insect pests. To construct a lanko two small tree-trunks of 
requisite length are cut down and placed parallel to each other on 
the ground at a distance which varies with the size of the hut re- 
quired. The use of these trunks is to raise the flooring from the 
ground. This flooring is formed by laying a number of sticks trans- 
versely across the two trunks. Over this a slanting roof is con- 
structed formed by a fraine of forked branches stuck in the ground 
and cross poles, over which leaves, preferably those of a palm, are 
placed to form a covering. 

Our lanko was soon ready ; and as the weather was tine and 
it did not look like rain, we merely covered it with leafy branches, 
having no better material handy ; while to render our bed less 
hard we spread over the stick flooring some sheets of smooth bark. 
There are many trees in these forests with smooth and even bark 
which can be detached with ease and forms excellent flooring. The 
night was less cool than I should have expected, but I have lost the 
note I made of the minimum temperature we experienced. Towards 
dawn it was, however, considerably less than that to which my men 
were accustomed, and had the effect of making them rise before the 
sun. We were therefore able to begin the descent in good time. 

y Google 


As I have previously remarked, my principal object in this 
excursion up the Mattang mountain was not to reach its summit 
so much as to find a suitable locahty for building myself a house. 
After some exploration, I decided that the most convenient spot 
for my future headquarters was that where we had halted for 
hinch on the previous morning during our ascent, on a sort of terrace 
about 1,000 feet above sea-level, between two ravines, from one of 
which water could easily be led to the place where I intended to 
build my hut. 

My men, under the direction of the Tuan-ku, set to work to con- 
struct a large and cominodious lanko, as a shelter during the 
building of the house. In this locality palms abound, and the roof 
of the temporary hut was made entirely of their fronds, and was 
quite impervious to rain. The trees were felled all round, and a big 
one was cut so as to fall across and bridge the nearest ravine. It 
was an enormous trunk, about lOO feet in length and three feet in 
diameter ; it fell just as we wished, and formed a solid bridge some 
sixty feet above the bottom of the gorge. 

My house was to be of the Malay type, raised on piles ; and by 
a fortunate chance, on the very site I had chosen, there grew three 
thin trees about nine inches in diameter, and situated so as to form 
exactly the three comers of a square at a distance of some thirty 
feet apart. These were chosen as the corner pillars of the house 
to be built, One of them was flowering, and I preserved specimens 
from it. It was a Cananum (?) as yet undescribed by botanists, and 
evidently fully grown. The other two were young specimens of 
large forest trees, and from their foliage I recognised them as be- 
longing to two distinct genera of Dipterocarpete, and in all pro- 
babihty of undescribed species. This may help to give an idea of 
the richness of the flora of Gunong Mattang, that three trees selected 
by mere chance, only thirty feet apart from each other, should be- 
long to three distinct genera and to species probably peculiar to 
Borneo and new to science. Their trunks were cut at thirteen feet 
from the ground, for the flooring was to be of such a height as to 
permit anyone to walk beneath it. AU the other trees for a good 
space around were felled or rooted up, especially in front of the 
future house, not only to get a clear view, but to allow the sun's 
rays to dry the ground and generally to neutralise the dampness, 
which otherwise would have rendered the drying of botanical speci- 
mens a difficulty. 

From the bigger trees the bark was detached to be used for 
the lanko and later for the house. A search was made for long, 
slender stems suitable for the framework, and these were solidly 
planted in the groimd ; the tranverse poles were tied on with rotangs, 
of which also there was no lack. Another excellent material for 
tjdng was furnished by the Nepenthes, whose stalks, about a quarter 

y Google 


ol an inch in diameter and twenty feet or more in length, are as 
strong as rotangs. In the whole building not a single nail was 

The house was to have a verandah in front and another behind, 
and was to be divided off inside into three rooms : the central one 
serving as a hall, one of the side ones to be my bedroom and study, 
and the other the sleeping room of my men. The kitchen was on 
the ground beneath. In three days the principal portion of the 
framework was set up. The Tuan-ku not only superintended the 
work, but took the most active part in it, never resting for a moment. 
At night we all slept in the lanko, where we were sometimes 
obliged to seek refuge from sudden and heavy showers in the day- 
time. The rain-bringing north-east monsoon had already begun, 
but for the present its effects showed only in occasional afternoon 

From the small clearing we had made in the forest, we could 
follow the big grey clouds passing rapidly overhead, hiding the sun 
which had warmed our clearing but a few moments before, and 
darkening the plain. Thunder growled and incessant lightning 
streaked the lowering sky ; the rain descended in torrents, pro- 
ducing a singular sound as it beat on the dense foHage of the trees. 
On the ground in the forest the deluge does not fall with uniform 
regularity. The rain loses its impetus on the aerial vegetation and 
reaches the ground as it can, now in huge drops, now in streamlets 
down the tree-trunks ; but in the end the water penetrates the 
forest just as it does the open. After such a downpour a slight 
mist rises from the soil, and the hot reeking dampness transfuses a 
powerful influx of new life and energy into the vegetation. 

Who will ever be able to form an adequate conception o*f the 
amount of organic labour silently performed in the depths of the 
forest under such conditions ? Who can even in imagination 
realise the untold myriads of living, palpitating cells that are 
struggling for existence in the tranquil gloom of a primeval 
tropical forest ? 

Our habitual conception of life is that we see exemphhed in 
animals, and few reflect that every tree-trunk and stem, every leaf 
and flower, is composed of innumerable microscopic cells, most 
of which contain an organised protoplasm, soft, extensile, con- 
tractile, capable of sensation, of reacting to stimuli— of fulfilling, in 
short, essentially at least, the functions we generally associate 
with superior beings. How immense a field lies open to the medi- 
tations of the philosopher and naturalist in the primeval forest 
now that the veil which hid the mysteries of plant life is beginning 
to be lifted ! 

Up to a quite recent period vegetable physiology was beUeved 
to be based on purely chemical and mechanical processes, and nobody 

y Google 


thought of the possibility of an individual entity (anima) presiding 
over the entire organism. A plant was considered not as a living 
thing, but as a composite mechanism in which the cells acted much 
as the parts of a machine. But we now know that the particles of 
protoplasm enclosed in an involucrum of cellulose, i.e., living cells, 
of which plants are formed, are endowed, at least at times, with a 
vitahty which is perfectly comparable to that of animal cells. To 
those who have not foUowed carefully the results of recent investi- 
gation such an assertion will appear absurd, for in plants outward 
manifestations of any such vitahty are wanting, and they cannot 
move. But the common notion regarding the want of movement 
in plants is a fallacy. In the living, or, as one may term it, the 
animated parts of plants, protoplasm moves and can change its 
place ; indeed, in some, if not in aD, in certain parts and at certain 
moments, the protoplasm circulates continually, being sensible to 
the stimuli of light, heat, and even touch ; therefore it might with 
some approach to accuracy be argued that plants can even see and 

Living cells which react to stimuH may be looked upon as nerve 
cells, and plants are provided with such cells in almost every part of 
their organism. Darwin has compared the ends of roots in plants 
to the brain of animals ; but I think that the comparison can be 
extended even further, for it appears to me that many of the living 
cells of plants have a great analogy to nerve cells. Few indeed are 
aware of the activity and sensibility of certain plant cells. And 
yet all the roots, the internal layers of the bark, the nervures of the 
leaves, and the flowers abound in such. The so-called soft-bark or 
phloema (perhaps the most important portion of the entire vegetable 
organism) is made up of cells which are extremely excitable and 
very much alive. Indeed, we have every reason to believe that these 
cells are in direct communication with each other, and with the 
entire vegetable organism to which they belong, by means of very 
slender filaments, analogous to those of nerve cells. In the proto- 
plasm of plants, as in that of animals, are included all those rays- . 
terious forces which represent the vital patrimony of the past, and 
which have to be transmitted to the future, a fact which is amply 
shown in the phenomena which accompany sexual reproduction in 
the beings belonging to both the vegetable and the animal kingdom. 
This alone would be quite sufficient to show the uniformity of the 
laws which rule matter throughout the entire organic world. 

What numberless obscure vital phenomena run their course, 
motionless and in silence, under the shadow of these ancient trees, 
and to what an infinity of microscopic beings does not the death of 
one of these giants give birth ? How can one picture the vast hosts 
of these creatures peopling the soil and air, the roots, trunks, 
flowers, and fruits, and realise their metamorphoses, their habits, 

y Google 


and the relations iil which they stand towards the plants amongst 
which, or on which, they live ? In short, how can we ever come to 
know the biology of this vast living world, which even the pro- 
foundest philosopher fails to grasp as a whole ? 

The first nights passed in the primeval forest can never be for- 
gotten ; their charm is indescribable ! I was as yet unaccustomed 
to jungle life, and could sleep but poorly on the hard sheets of bark 
and uneven flooring of the lanko. In my moments of wakefulness 
I saw the forest under a new aspect hardly less beautiful than that it 
presented during daylight. In these dense woods the nights were 
extraordinarily still ; not the hghtest breath of air stirred a leaf ; the 
temperature was dehghtful. The profound and solemn silence was 
only interrupted at long intervals by the harsh ajid penetrating cry 
of the Argus pheasant. Through the gaps left by the trees we had 
felled the sky could here and there be seen, but the blue was not so 
intense as that of Italy, and the stars did not seem to shine so brightly 
as at home. The intense darkness was lit up from time to time by 
briUiant intermittent flashes — the love-lights of enormous fire- 

On the surface of the ground the darkness of night unveils a 
world which the hght of the sun only hides by day. Every dead 
leaf, every branch or twig in a decaying condition, was luminous, 
showing a pale glow through the slight mist which rose from the 
humus of the forest soil. The rain of the preceding day had 
apparently set alight the whole network of mycehum thread which, 
invading the ruins of the giant vegetation, slowly disorganised and 
consumed them. A huge rotten tree-trunk a few feet from where I 
lay emitted a brilliant phosphorescent light, emanating from 
certain white fungi belonging to the genus Agariciis. A single one 
of these enabled me easily to read a newspaper when placed upon 
it, so strong was the white and very beautiful hght it gave off .^ 
The temperature at the time was 80° Fahr. 

' The firefly which was so abundant at Mattang, and of which I procured 
several examples, has only recently (1895) received the name of Pyroceelia 
opaca (E. Olivier). Hitherto it has remained undescribed among the large 
collection of insects in the Museo Civico of Genoa. It measures 21 by 9 mm, 
In Sarawak we found five other species of firefly (Lampyridite) and among 
them one still larger, Lamprophorns nitens, which nieasures 32 mm. in length. 
(y. Ann. del Mus. Civ. di Genova, Ser. 2a., Vol. II., p. 345.) I here gladly 
avail myself of the opportunity of expressing my heartiest thanks to my 
friend,' Professor Raphael Gestro, Vice-Director of the Museo Civico at Genoa, 
and one of the most distinguished of entomologists, who has always 
afforded me his valuable aid when I have required information on the col- 
lections made during my travels. 

" This Agaricus was entirely white, with a dimidiate and lobate pileus, 
exceedingly short lateral stipe, decurrent lameUse, scanty and nearly drv 


y Google 


The luminosity of the ground in the forest and the phosphores- 
cent insects Ajdng about tempt to long digressions, the subject 
being a highly suggestive one. So far as regards their biological 
relations with other beings, luminous mushrooms probably do not 
derive any advantage from the hght-emitting property they possess. 
It is merely the manifestation of a chemico-vital phenomenon, 
which accidentally becomes so marked as to be visible. 

The case is very different with the fireflies, for in them the 
phosphorescence ensures the meeting of the two sexes, and evidently 
the phenomenon takes place under the stimulus of the reproductive 
cells. That sentiment which is expressed by the word " love " im- 
pelled the dark and invisible progenitors of the firefly to 
render themselves as dazzling as the moon and the stars, the only 
luminous objects with which their nocturnal habits made them 
acquainted. It is well known how nocturnal insects are fascinated, 
one might even say hypnotised, by light. And such must have 
been the case also, and perhaps to a greater extent, in the remotest 
plasmative epoch, when Uving beings, through processes as yet 
mysterious to us, assumed the forms they now have. In this con- 
nection, according to an hypothesis which I have long ago expressed 
in a different form, I incline to the behef that the luminous organ 
of fireflies, placed in the terminal abdominal segments of the body, 
is the result of a kind of reproduction of luminous impressions 
received through the eyes, and may thus be regarded as a 
special form of mimicry. 

In the same way, I do not think it impossible that the attraction 
for luminous and gfittering objects may have been the prima causa 
of the production of luminous spots and metalUc or iridescent colours 
in many beetles and butterflies. Thus, the golden green of BufresHs 
reproduces, possibly, the shiny surfaces of leaves in strong light, 
on which they love to rest ; and the mother-of-pearl spots on the 
wings of some butterflies might find an explanation in the fascination 
which reflected sunlight on a pool of water has for them. Phos- 
phorescence and mimetic luminosity would thus in insects have 
been derived from a common cause ; but in nocturnal insects, 
in whom the colour of the external portion of the body 
cannot have originated any ambitious sentiment, the physiological 
process which has rendered luminous phenomena possible has 
shown its effects internally ; whilst in the others its manifestation 
is on the external surface of the body. 

Whilst my men worked at the construction of the house I 
wandered about in the forest, or searched for insects amidst the 
branches of the trees we had felled, which retained their freshness 
for several days on account of the great dampness. Where a ray 
of sun lighted their shining foliage I was sure to find some kind of 
brilliant beetle with resplendent elytra. But on the ground, except 


vi] QUOP 

on dead tree-trunks or under their bark, I found little to collect. 
It could scarcely be othenAise, In the forests the last stage of the 
life of most insects, and especially those with vivid colours, is 
passed amidst that portion of the vegetation which receives the 
direct rays of the sun, and this is, naturally, hardly within reach of 
the collector. To make a good collection it would be necessary to 
lower the crowns of the gigantic trees, or else to be able to skim 
over them. 

Nearly every flying insect is attracted by hght or else by flowers. 
Now these in Borneo are comparatively few and rare near the 
ground, though of almost infinite number and variety far above 
our heads. Here, too, blossom not only the big trees, but the 
epiphytes, parasitical plants, and lianas. These, whose weak stems 
would seem to condemn them to a miserable existence in the shade 
of their stronger rivals, manage to force their way up among the 
trunks and branches of the largest trees and eventually to outgrow 
them, and expand their flowers above their tops to the Hfe-giving 
rays of the sun. 

In this struggle of plants towards light, the final victory often 
rests with those apparently weakest. For in Borneo many of the 
plants with large, brightly coloured, and odorous flowers are hanas, 
and these are the most attractive to insects. Again, it is high up 
in the trees amongst the epiphytes and parasites that the most 
conspicuous flowers are found, such as those of the Lorantkus, 
orchids, Fagr(Ba, etc. The higher they are the more conspicuous 
these flowers become ; the brilliance of their colour is greater ; the 
expansion of their corollas larger. These strange shapes and power- 
ful odours are all means which the coquetry of flowers, if I may 
render it thus, employs to attract insects, the unconscious pronubce 
of their love-making. Singular, indeed, are the morals of flowers, 
and far from affording examples to be imitated by us. For in this 
respect to ensure success Nature uses every possible artifice, 
every sort of deceit, every kind of cruelty ; and flowers offer in- 
numerable instances of what might well be termed the most 
vicious propensities. 

During this first excursion to the mountains I only collected 
two species of birds, but both were new to Borneo ; the first was a 
small thrush {Ixidia squamaia), which I shot at the highest point 
reached, the other a fine hombiU (Rhytidocerus obscurus), of which 
I secured two specimens.' On November 19th our provision of rice 
was exhausted, and we were obliged to return to the plain. 

Later in the month 1 went with Bishop MacDougall on a 
visit to the mission of Quop, not far from Kuching, but my 
collections there were poor. 

1 Cf. Salvadort, Uccelli di Borneo, pp. 210, 90. Geneva, 1869. 

y Google 


I was obliged to postpone my return to Mattang to complete 
the construction of my house on account of the rainy season^ which 
was now (December) at its height with the prevaihng N,E. mon- 
soon. This is also the fruit season ; and the bazaar at Kuching, 
well provided with durians, exhaled a fearful stench of rotten 
onions, which, though delicious to the natives, did not commend 
itself by any means to us. At this season immense numbers of 
flj^ng-foxes {Pteropus) passed over Kuching every evening, flying 
at a great height, and quite out of range, but when night closed in 
they congregated in search of food on the fruit-bearing trees, and 
then I was able to secure specimens, especially along the river, on 
the " P'dada " trees {Sonneratia acida), the fruit of which they 
devoured with avidity. 

y Google 


New Year's Dav in Kuching — The House on Mattang — Ataps — River-- 
siDE Plants on the Sarawak River— Nibongs, Nipas, and Mangroves 
—Air-roots — Seeds which Germinate in Mid-Air — Salak and its 
Geological Structure—The Menkabang Pinang — -Vallombrosa 
— The Summit of Mattang— A Month at Singapore^" Woodlands " 
— Tigers — Doria Leaves for Europe — Return to Mattang — The 
Hair of a Chinawoman — A Singular Ceremony — I arrange my 
House— Method of Drying Plants — Height of Some Trees — The 
BiLiAN — Flowering of Trees— The Dipterocarpe^ on Mattang— 
Primitive Flora. 

NEW Year's Day was passed merrily at Kuching. The Tuan 
Muda held a lev^e in the Rajah's name at Government 
House, receiving the European residents and the native notabiUties. 
There were games and amusements of various kinds, amongst 
others a regatta on the river, which came off most successfully, and 
was especially interesting to us on account of local peculiarities. It 
was now time to think about finishing my house on Mattang, which 
I had been obliged to leave as it was, owing to the incessant rains 
of the previous month. The framework was practically completed, 
but it had to be lilled in and roofed. As I wanted to have a solidly 
built house in which I could live several months, it was necessary 
that I should get "ataps" carried up. This is the name of the 
thatching generally used for houses in Borneo and other parts of 
Malaysia. It consists either of nipa or sago-palm leaves, according 
to the locahty. At Kuching ataps are usually made of nipa leaves, 
and last two or three years ; those made with sago-palm leaves 
are more durable. The ataps in both cases are made with the 
leafletsorlateralstrips, about a yard long and a couple of inches in 
width, on either side of the midrib of the fronds of the pahns in 
question. An atap is made with a certain number of these leaflets 
folded across a stick about a yard and a half in length, each leaflet 
placed so to overlap its neighbour, and the whole held or sewn 
together with rotang threads.^ The result is a series of enormous 
but very light vegetable tiles, which, arranged so as to overlap some 
four or five inches, form an excellent roof, which is proof against 
all rain and sun. Moreover, and this is no small advantage in such 

- From a woodcut on p. 466 oi Fea's previously quoted] book on Burma, 
it is evident that in that country " ataps " are made precisely as in Malaysia. 

y Google 


a climate, the ataps are bad conductors of heat, so that houses 
roofed with them are much cooler than those covered with ordinary 
tiles or with wooden boards. I had learnt by experience that in 
Sarawak it is not always easy to get what one wants, and especially 
at the time one wants it, so I resolved to get my own men to 
make the ataps I needed. 

After my first excursion to Mattang I had heard from the 
Chinese that, in addition to the track across the forest by Siul, 
there was a far easier route by water leading to the very foot of 
the mountain. Several rivulets find their way down the north 
side of Mattang, and, widening on the plain, form an intricate 
system of canals which are under the influence of the tide. I was 
told that, following at high-tide a small water-passage, or " trusan," 
it was easy to travel by boat from the Sarawak river to the foot of 
the mountain without having to go round by sea, - 

Accordingly, in the beginning of January, I started up this 
trusan with my men, and entered the Mattang chaimels. We 
stayed here for about ten days, at a place called Salak, where 
nipa palms grew in abundance, so that my men had every facility 
for making the ataps I required. During the excursions I made 
all round I had ample opportunities of investigating the peculiar 
vegetation along the streams and estuaries which are influenced 
by the tide. 

Descending the Sarawak river, just below Kuching, the "kayu 
p'dada," or " peddada " of the Malays {Sonneratia lanceolata, Bl.), 
abounds, a mere variety of S. acida, which is not, however, strictly 
an estuarine plant, for it thrives also in places where sea and fresh 
water do not mix.' Together with the Sonneratia, but usually 
farther away from the water, the predominant trees on the lower 
Sarawak are Herittera litoralis and three species of Brownlowia."^ 
On the banks of the river Acanthus ilicifolius, with glossy and 
spinose leaves, is about the only herbaceous plant which grows. 
The true ligneous salt-water plants on the Sarawak river are about 
ten species ; amongst these are Skyphiphora hydrophyllacea, 

1 In Celebes, at Kandari, on the banks of the Lepo Lepo river, where 
Sonneratia acida, or a nearly allied variety, is common, I have observed that 
during heavy rain the leaves change their position, and from the usual hori- 
zontal take a vertical direction. The flowers are nocturnal, but are open 
morning and evening, and are then frequented by various sunbirds (Nec- 

= These are Brownlowia saraivahensis, Kerre ; B. Beccarii, Kerre ; and 
a third species yet unnamed. All these have the under surface of their 
leaves silvery, such as botanists call " lepidote," i.e., covered with minute 
scales. Heritiera litoralis has simOar leaves, whilst in Avicermia the under 
surface of the leaves is covered with a thick white woolly coat. Considering 
the small number of trees which grow along the river near the sea, to find 
amongst them five species with lepidote leaves suggests the idea that local 
biological circumstancea render this peculiarity advantageous. 

y Google 


Lumnitzera cocctnea, ExccPcaria agallocha, Mgtceras major, and 
Sonneratia alba; all shrubs, which grow in the foremost ranks. 
True mangroves, or Rhizophorts, are represented by three species : 
Brughiera gymnorhiza, B. cylindrica, and Randelia Rheedei, and 
mixed with these, two trees are always found — Carafa moluccensis 
and Avicennia officinalis. 

Two of the most characteristic plants on the banks of the 
Sarawak river, near the sea, are the nibong,'^ready mentioned, 
and the nipa. The first is an invaluable^palm to the natives, who 
generally use its straight and tough stems in house building, es- 
pecially as piles. Splitting the stems longitudinally, they obtain 
long, slender slips, which, tied neatly together side by side with 
rotang, form " lant6," a light, strong flooring which is excellent for 
houses and boats. 
• The nipa palm {Nipa fruticans) forms usually a dense hedge in 
front of the masses of arboreal vegetation as far as salt water extends. 
It evidently requires a swampy ground, on which it spreads its big 
stems, which resemble both in aspect and dimensions those of a 
coconut palm lying on the ground, while like the latter they show 
■the big cicatrices left by detached leaves. But the nipa stems are 
flattened, and from their lower side, in contact with the ground, a 
number of rootlets grow. The head of the palm, too, is never 
raised any height from the soil. The fronds of the nipa, which may 
exceed thirty feet or more in length, resemble those of the coco 
(Fig. 19). 

The uses of the nipa are innumerable, and from it are produced 
sugar, wine, vinegar, and salt. The fruits grow dose together, 
forming a great ball a foot across, and each fruit, when immature, 
contains, like the coconut, a watery liquid and the soft edible albu- 
men of the seed. Of the young white leaves bags are made, and 
mats called " kajang," very serviceable for covering boats or 
making partitions in houses. From the same leaves, taking away 
the harder part and leaving the epidermis, cigarette papers are 
obtained, and the " rokos," or cigarettes, which Malays continually 
smoke with great zest, are all thus rolled. The nipa serves many 
other purposes, and the natives, practised in the art and craft of 
hackwoodsmanship, know how to avail themselves of it under a 
variety of circumstances. 

Boating along the Sarawak river at low tide below Kuching, 
an infinite number of living creatures can be observed on the 
exposed mud-banks. Small amphibious fish with prominent eyes, 
which look as if they were being forced out of their orbits {Psrioph- 
thalmus Kolreuteri), flop about with extraordinary agOity ; whilst 
quaint blue crabs move backwards and sideways in all directions. 
Here and there singular straight elongated bodies resembling horns, 
conical in shape, and from one to two feet in length, may be seen 
81 G 

y Google 

y Google 


rising vertically out of the slush. At first they might be taken for 
young plants shooting up, but they show no trace of leaves. They 
are really organs produced mostly by the roots of the Sonneratia, 
and are always to be found where this tree grows. It appears, 
moreover, that all plants growing in estuaries influenced by the 
tide produce analogous root-appendages. Avicennia and Carapa 
have root-homs which are shorter, broader, and less pointed than 
those of Sonneratia, but are otherwise identical.^ 

Entering the trusan of Mattang, the arboreal vegetation is found 
to consist exclusively of mangroves, belonging to the species already 
mentioned. Only from good photographs can one realise the 
curious mode of growth of these trees and the intricate 
system of roots they exhibit. From the trunk, as well as from 
the larger branches, inniunerable roots as large as a stout walking- 
stick are produced, which arch over to plunge into the water or 
mud below. From these larger roots smaller ones arise, and every- 
where are produced in such abundance that the whole forest to a 
height of some ten or twelve feet is densely packed with them. 
From the obstacle that these roots and the mud present, a mangrove 
swamp is one of the most difficult and fatiguing things in the world 
to traverse. To live in it would be the most abominable of existences, 
if only for the myriads of mosquitoes that swarm in it. Its aspect 
is singularly monotonous, weird, and desolate. All over the 
world within the tropics it is the same. It must, however, be 
admitted that the epiphytal vegetation in a mangrove swamp is 
often varied and interesting. Some of the most beautiful orchids 
and the most singular ferns are found attached to mangroves, on 
which in Sarawak I found also Rhododendron Brookeanum, a 
lovely plant with large yellow flowers. 

Parasitical life on mangroves is favoured by the great and 
constant dampness of the atmosphere, caused by the continual 
evaporation under the action of a tropical sun. To this cause is 
also to be attributed another strange peculiarity of the Rhizophorce, 
which is that the seeds contained in their fruits germinate 
whilst yet attached to the parent plant, and before failing to the 
ground; there being no interruption between the acts of flowering, 
formation and ripening of the fruit, and germination of the seed. 
From the centre of the glossy leaves at the extremity of the smaller 
branches in all RhtzofhoriB hang green fusiform appendages, 
varying in length from two to eighteen inches in the different 

1 Recently these organs have been diligently studied, by Karsten and 
Goebel, who consider them to be normal roots which grow upwards in search 
of air instead of penetrating downwards into the soil. Their special function 
would seem to be that of procuring oxygen for the plant to which they belong, 
in order to supplement the small quantity of that gas obtained by the ordinary 
roots in the mud. They have, therefore, been termed respiratory roots. 

y Google 


species. These are simply the roots of the seeds, which having 
germinated whilst yet adherent to the involucra of the flower, as 
I have stated, sprout out, lengthen, grow, and enlarge in the air 
till at the right moment the future plant gets detached. On account 
of its weight and vertical position, it sticks in the soil on faUing, 
where it at once begins to grow, developing leaves from the apex. 
Thus in a very short time the transformation is accomplished, and 
a new treelet is coming up. The RhizophorcB may thus be con- 
sidered viviparous plants. 

Whilst my men were engaged in constructing the ataps, I went 
again to Salak, where there is a small hill which rises in the estuary 
of Mattang, and is partly washed by the sea. It was of special 
interest to me, for its geological formation, in a small area, is more 
varied than I have seen anywhere else in Borneo, The central 
mass is granite, overlaid on the one side by metamorphic silicious 
rocks, and on the other by sandstone. Near the landing-place at 
the foot of the hill, I found two other kinds of rock, both apparently 
ferruginous, but one stratified, and the other honeycombed and some- 
what similar, apparently, to what is called laterite, so abundant at 
Singapore, Unhappily the samples I collected were lost and thus 
their determination is uncertain. 

On the top of Salak grow in abundance huge trees of "mengka- 
bang(orengkabang)pinang," a Dipterocarp (Skorea falcifera, Dyer), 
noted for the excellence of its timber, and useful besides, as are 
other trees of the sajne genus, for the oil which is extracted from 
its seeds. This oil, " mignak mengkabang,'''' is solid at the usual 
local temperature, and is highly prized for cooking purposes. I 
was unable to ascertain whether these trees were remains of the 
forest or whether they were planted by man, like others of the same 
kind which I had observed near Malay houses in Kuching. 
On Salak I saw another gigantic tree, which grew isolated in a 
plantation at the foot of the hill ; it was a " minuang " of immense 
proportions (Octomeles sumatrana, Miq.), with enormous root 
expansions. The gigantic trunk, straight, with white smooth bark, 
rose without branches to a great height, and supported a huge 
crown of foliage. The "minuang" is one of those trees adapted 
for isolated growth, and I have never met with it in the primeval 
forest. Its wood is very light, and it must grow rapidly. I did 
not measure this specimen, but it was certainly over 200 feet high. 
As the ataps were finished I returned to Mattang and 
thence to Singhi, to get the Dyaks to come and help carry them 
up the mountain. But the Dyaks showed themselves unwilhng 
to move, and I was obliged to ask the Tuan Muda to order them out. 
They obeyed, and by the beginning of February all the materials 
had been conveyed up the mountain, and my house, which I had 
named " Vallombrosa," was soon finished. I had hoped to have 



gone directly after to live there with Doria, but the latter's health 
had been failing, and a delay was necessary. 

Whilst on Mattang superintending the finishing of my house I 
determined to climb to its highest point. I started on January 22nd, 
at 10 a.m., and in an hour had reached the spot where we passed 
our first night on the mountain, at an elevation of 1,827 ^t. I 
did not stay, but continued to ascend, and following the ridge at 
a point some 2,400 ft. above sea-level, I found in great abundance 
a palm which I have since named Eugeissonia insignis. It has the 
aspect of a sago-palm, but its stem is only twelve or fifteen feet in 
height. Its inflorescence, which issues from the crown of leaves, 
measures about ten feet, whilst the leaves, which have spiny stalks, 
are from twenty to twenty-five feet in length. 

About an hour after noon I at last reached the true summit, 
formed by two points of equal elevation close together. The 
elevation I made to be 3,071 ft., but in the Sarawak Gazette of 
January i, 1889, the height is given as 3,130 ft. Here there were 
no big trees, merely bushes, only a few feet in height, and with 
very small leaves. All were out of blossom. Of special interest 
was an undescribed rhododendron with willow-like leaves and large 
yellow flowers (R. salicifoUum, Becc), but not then in bloom. I 
also remarked a quantity of Sphagnum, which is always found on 
mountain tops in Borneo. 

As Doria's health showed no signs of improvement, his return 
to Europe became necessary, and at the beginning of March he left 
Sarawak. I accompanied him to Singapore, where we remained 
together nearly to the end of the month. 

Of our stay at Singapore I shall merely recall a week passed at 
" Woodlands," in a small wooden bungalow which our Consul, Mr. 
Leveson, had built on the Johore Straits, and which he kindly lent 
to us. The house stood on a slight elevation overlooking the sea, 
and was most picturesquely placed, with a view across the water of 
the southern extremity of the Malacca Peninsula and the capital 
of the State of Johore. It was surrounded by the then untouched 
primeval forest. On the sea, always as smooth as glass, a dehdous 
bathing place had been constructed, shut ofl by a palisade, a neces- 
sary precaution against sharks and crocodiles. 

The shallow parts of the Straits were covered with a marine 
plant {Enhalus acoroides), which has the aspect of our Vallisneria, 
a^id produces similar flowers, but of larger size. The female flowers 
of the Enhalus are not, as in Vallisneria, at the extremities of 
spirally twisted stalks, but nevertheless they rise to the surface of 
the water at low tide and can thus come in contact with the male 
flowers. These, at first enclosed in a sort of small bag under water 
near the roots, get detached when mature and float on the surface 
of the sea, forming large patches of white powder. 

y Google 


The Malay servants who were with me at " Woodlands " used 
to follow me, being afraid to remain alone even for a short 
time, as they knew that tigers were abundant in the neighbour- 
hood. But when they heard that, a few days before, a tiger had 
been seen entering the kitchen (a small hut a few feet from the 
bungalow), they insisted on sleeping in my own bedroom. 

For several evenings I lay in wait for the tiger until overcome 
by sleep ; but nothing occurred to disturb the peaceful quiet of my 
pleasant stay at this place, where I should have been glad to stay 
still longer, for the forest was a constant source of manifold interest. 
But the day approached on which the steamer for Europe was to 
leave, and I naturally wished to see as much as I could of Doria 
before he started. 

The parting with my friend was a great disappointment to me, 
for it left me alone to carry out the programme of exploration 
which we had planned together, and to the fulfilment of which I 
had so ardently looked forward. After he had gone, I left in the 
Rainbow for Kuching, getting there at the beginning of April. I 
very soon started to take up my abode in the house on Mattang, 
where I intended remaining some time. On this occasion I went 
there by water, as being more convenient for the transport of my 
provisions to the foot of the mountain. 

Just near the starting point on the river was one of the Chinese 
social-houses which they call " kunsi " or " kongsi." Like all 
Chinese houses, it was built on a dry levelled site, not raised on 
piles. It was divided into three parts, the central one being open 
in front ; and here, at the end opposite the entrance, was an altar 
with the image of " Tai-pek-kong," the god of riches, at the side of 
which hung tablets covered with large gold characters. One of 
the lateral rooms was a dwelling place, the other a store. The wife 
of the head Chinaman was a Chinese girl, very young and ver^' 
small, not a beauty, but with hair such as I had never seen before : 
it was of an intense black, very abundant, and hung loose down her 
back, reaching quite to her heels. She was evidently proud of this 
natural ornament, and could often be seen, to the admiration of 
lookers-on, combing it in the central hall, which was also used as 
an assembly room. 

The Chinese are extremely superstitious, and never imdertake 
anything without previously seeking to propitiate by certain 
ceremonies the spirits which they beheve may prove malevolent. 
On'one occasion I got to the kunsi just as they were performing 
the ceremonies considered necessary to ensure success to a new 
gambir plantation. The small Chinese colony, consisting of eight 
or ten persons, were congregated in the central hall ; on the altar 
were a number of porcelain cups containing eatables, and many 
hghted tapers of red wax. Joss-sticks, too, were burning in pro- 

y Google 


fusion, made of the perfumed wood of Aquilariaa gaUocha. Suddenly 
the door leading to the store on the left of the entrance was opened, 
and a man rushed out dressed in a sort of surplice of rich mate- 
rial not unlike that worn by Roman Catholic priests in saying mass. 
Staggering and shaking with a violent convulsive movement, he 
placed himself in front of the altar, turning his back on the specta- 
tors. He continued trembling hke one possessed for some time, 
but the convulsions gradually passed off, and when he was quite 
calm he turned round towards the audience. He then took two 
big needles-, or rather skewers, about eight inches in length and 
spatulate at one end, and thrust them, one on each side, into his 
upper hp from above downwards. By violent contortions of the 
lip these were kept roUing about, and imparted, with the hanging 
Hp, a singularly horrible expression to the face. But this was only 
the prelude to a still more repulsive spectacle. Opening his mouth 
as wide as possible and holding in his right hand one of those small 
triangular razors used by the Chinese, he made a deep longitudinal 
cut down the middle of his tongue. At the same time an assistant 
handed him a porcelain cup in which he collected the blood which 
flowed abundantly from the wound. With this the wizard traced 
with the tips of his fingers various cabalistic signs on bits of red 
paper, which were successively burnt by his attendant. After this 
he retired to the room he had come from. AU was done with 
singular imperturbabiUty and indifference. 

I do not believe there was any trickery in what I saw, for during 
the whole ceremony I stood quite close to the altar and could have 
touched the performer. It is, however, quite possible that he may 
previously have worked hinaself into a superexcited condition, such 
as to make him insensible to pain. 

On reaching Mattang I found my house just as I had left it. I 
at once set to work to finish it, and fit it up so as to render it as 
comfortable as possible. In the hall I fixed a large table, in my 
sleeping room a bedstead, while opposite the window, which opened 
towards the east, I had a small work-table placed. AH these were 
what house-furnishers would term " fitments," were strongly 
though simply made, and of a practical kind. The legs of these 
articles of furniture were fixed in the floor and strengthened 
with cross-bars tied with rotangs. The flooring was of lante of 
nibong, over which I had had spread squared sheets of bark with 
the smooth side upwards. 

My large dining-table was more useful to me for preparing 
botanical specimens than for taking my frugal meals. The bed- 
stead, after laying over it a thin mattress covered with a fine pan- 
danus mat from the Natunas, was comfort itself. My small work- 
table opposite the window witnessed many happy hours during 
the months I lived at my Bornean " Vallombrosa," for on it I took 

y Google 


my notes and drew the more interesting plants which I from time 
to time discovered. 

With some big bamboos, which I found in the neighbourhood, 
I made an aqueduct, by means of which cool and limpid water was 
conveyed to the house. This I tapped sufficiently far up stream 
to enable me to stand upright beneath what I may call the supply- 
pipe at the house, and there twice a day I took a delicious and 
invigorating shower-bath. Nothing could be better for the health 
under the circumstances, and such a bath after the tiring work of 
collecting in the forest was not only most invigorating and 
enjoyable, but it gave me besides an excellent appetite. The 
kitchen was on the ground beneath the house, and just over its 
fireplace I had a small room made, which I used for drying my 
botanical specimens, an operation which I should hardly have 
been able to perform otherwise, on account of the great and con- 
stant dampness of the atmosphere and the enormous number -of 
specimens which I collected and prepared each day. This happy 
contrivance was suggested by my remembering the system adopted 
by our Tuscan mountaineers in drjdng chestnuts. In the small 
room I am speaking of a simple lante mat acted as a grating above 
the hearth, and was sufficiently high to prevent too much heat 
reaching the plants. These latter dried so quickly and thoroughly 
that I was able to change them twice a day, and the specimens thus 
obtained were excellent. 

The temperature on Mattang was mild, and pretty nearly eqaal 
night and day. The maximum never rose above 82" Fahr. in the 
afternoon, and the minimum at sunrise was on the average 73°. In 
such climatic conditions it is not necessary to wear much clothing. 
My dress was simple enough, consisting only of trousers, a hght 
linen jacket, and a Chinese bamboo hat. I usually went bare- 
footed, having begun to do so at Kuching, on account of the badly 
healing sores caused by leeches, but I wore cloth shoes, generally 
without socks, on undertaking long excursions. 

My servants at " Vallombrosa " were a Chinese cook and four 
Malays. One of these, a native of Java, was an extraordinary 
hand at dimbing trees ; the others were good wood-cutters, and 
felled the trees I wanted which could not be climbed. 

The forest trees of Borneo are usually piovided with great 
laminar expansions at the base of their trunks, known as banner in 
Sarawak,^ a species of stay or buttress, whose use is to augment the 
stability of the tree. Now in such cases, if a tree were to be cut 
through close to the ground, the labour of felling would be enor- 
mous. To get over this difficulty, a sort of scaffolding, called 

^ Gaudichaud writes that in the French colonies these laminar expansions 
are termed " accabas." 


y Google 


" pari-para," is built round the trunk a few feet from the ground, 
so that the woodcutters can work on the cylindrical portions of it. 

I took careful measurements of some of the ordinary trees of 
medium size felled around my house. A species of Hopea was 121 ft . 
high ; a tree of an undetermined species measined in the cylindrical 
portion of the trunk, bare of branches, 79 ft., and " over all " 145 
it. The bare trunk of a Shorea was 65 ft. in length, the entire 
growth being 138 ft. Such measurements only give an idea of 
the medium height of the forest trees halfway up Mattang. On 
the plain below, many trees I felled reached or surpassed 160 ft. 
in height, and in favourable conditions in the mountain gorges, 
and where the soil is rich, some trees in Borneo attain very much 
larger dimensions. 

As regards girth, one of the largest — and it was very common 
near " Vallombrosa " — was the bilian {Eusideroxylon Zwageri). I 
measured a trunk of one of these trees which was 33 ft. in cir- 
cumference at a height of 4 ft. from the ground. The bilian pro- 
duces what is, perhaps, the most valuable timber in Borneo. No 
insects attack it, not even the white ant, and it does not rot in 
water nor deteriorate by exposure. It is asserted that even under 
the worst conditions it can last over 200 years, and it is, therefore, 
much used in the construction of houses. 

In my earlier journeys to Mattang I had had ample opportunities 
of noting the immense variety and richness of its flora, but my 
expectations were greatly surpassed by the reality. Every morning 
I used to go into the forest with my men, and I always returned 
^ with loads of specimens. I used carefully to search the ground for 
indications of blossoming trees of which it was worth securing 
specimens, for most have inconspicuous flowers not easily seen 
from below. Thus, only a careful examination of the soil beneath 
can lead, by the detection of fallen flowers, to the knowledge of the 
right time of collecting. But in many cases it was not easy to trace 
the tree which produced the flowers found on the ground ; 
and more than once I was obliged to cut down two, three, and even 
four trees before getting the right one, and this although I had 
acquired some experience in distinguishing the principal families of 
trees by the bark, and especially by the nature of the sap, i.e., if 
milky, watery, resinous, etc. 

The flowering of trees in Sarawak is nearly continuous, or, rather, 
trees are found in blossom at all seasons of the year. But when 
seasonal abnormahties occur, which is by no means rare, the flower- 
ing also varies somewhat, and may repeat itself more than once 
during the year. Many of the Bornean species, however, come into 
blossom at regular periods, and often all the species of a genus 
develop their flowers at the same time. Thus, there was a period 
for the genus Diosfyros, then came the turn of the SapotaceeB, and 
then of the Dipterocarpecs. 

y Google 

y Google 


The Sapotacew blossom principally in July. Amongst the 
numerous species of the family which I collected during this month, 
I one day at last secured a specimen of " niatto durian," a tree I 
had long sought for as being in Sarawak the most esteemed pro- 
ducer of gutta-percha. I had often met with felled trunks of this 
species on the slopes of Mattang, and in the forest between it and 
Kuching, cut down by the natives to extract the gutta ; but I had 
never before managed to find a specimen in blossom or with fruit, 
although my men had often pointed out young or sterile trees. On 
account of the great demand for its product, good yielding trees 
had become scarce around Kuching, and the native collectors had 
to search far and wide in the forest. The specimen whose flowers 
I had secured was apparently an undescribed species, to which, 
on account of the excellence of its product, I gave the name of 
Palaquium optimum (Fig. 20, 21). 

The Dipterocarpece were in blossom during most of September, 
and in December their fruits were ripe. During those two months 
my principal occupation consisted in quartering the forest in search 
of them. Their presence weis revealed by the quantity of flowers 
or fruit on the ground beneath the tree from which they had fallen. 
And huge giants, often, were the trees which I was obliged to fell 
or climb, in order to detach from the higher branches the necessary 
specimens for my herbarium. Great, indeed, was the labour such 
deforestation caused me ; and more than once to obtain the 
spoil from a single species of Dipterocarpus or of Shorea I had to 
work with three or four men for a whole day to fell the forest giant, 
I nevertheless managed to obtain not less than fifty species of 
Dipterocarps in the two above-mentioned months, within the 
radius of a mile from my hut. Amongst these fifty species were 
seven Dipterocarpus, thirteen Hopea, fifteen Shorea, four Balano- 
carpus,twoCoiylelobium,tV!oDryobalcinops,aii<i two Vatica, most of 
which were at the time new to science, only a few having been 
previously met with on the islands of Bangka and Blitong, whose 
flora has strong affinities with that of Borneo. 

Some of these Dipterocarpeje have certainly a marked resem- 
blance to species which grow in Sumatra and on the Malay Peninsula, 
but they are, at least at present, unknown from other localities, 
although most undoubtedly they must have a greater diffusion 
than the contour of Mount Mattang. It is, however, I think, well 
worthy of note that here the Dipterocarpea; are represented by 
severaJ aUied genera, including a considerable number of species, 
which, often presenting amongst themselves intermediate charac- 
ters, may be supposed to be derived one from the other. This is, 
I opine, one of the essentia! features of a truly endemic flora, and 
very strongly contrasts with the character of an adventitious 
immigrant flora, in which the genera and species are an assem- 

y Google 



blage of forms of wide geographical distribution, coining from 
diverse regions and with little or no affinity with each other. 

The fruits of most of the Dipterocarps have wings, which at 
first sight might be considered most efficacious in carrying them 
far from the parent plant ; but in point of fact this is not so, for 
the seed is usually too large and too heavy to allow the flying 
apparatus to act properly.^ 

Having found in so limited an area so large an agglomeration of 
allied species belonging to the same genus, and so many representa- 
tives of various genera belonging to the same family, I am led to 

PalaquiHtn opumum (enlargei). 

the conclusion that the part of Borneo where all these Diptero- 
carpeje are assembled has been a creative centre in the formation 
of species, and that these have remained on the veiy spot where 
they were first formed. It appears to me presumable that a flora 
must be the richer in endemic elements the more the land on which 

> If some of tJie Bornean DipterocarpeK have a relatively wide geographi- 
cal distribution, they are species which live near water (Isoplera Borneensis, 
Scheff,, Dipterocarpus oblongif alius , Bl.), in which the wings may 
possibly serve as navigating organs. 


y Google 


it grows has remained geologically at rest. I therefore believe that 
when a flora is rich, it must be on land which has long remained 
emerged and unchanged, at least from the middle of the Tertiary 
period, which means from a time in which the formation of new 
specific forms had not yet ceased. If it be possible to imagine a 
spot where the forest has remained untouched and unchanged since 
■ remote geological epochs, and where the vegetation has continued 
to fiourish uninterruptedly for hundreds of centuries since the 
period when that land first emerged from the ocean, and if any 
such localities exist on the surface of the earth, the forest of 
Mattang and that in the vicinity of Kuching ought to be among 
their number. 

It remains to be seen whether all the forms belonging to the 
above-mentioned genera of Dipterocarpe^, found in so restricted 
an area, are in reality forms due to the gradual evolution of a few 
archetypes, or if they be not rather the result of hybridism 
amongst the latter, I have not a blind faith in the slow and gradual 
progressive evolution of organisms, and in the formation of species 
as a result of continuous but insensible variation from pre-existing 
forms. I am more inclined to admit the sudden appearing of some 
principal adaptation forms, and I believe that originally hybrids 
between such prototypes have been the reason of the concatenation 
of all organisms and of the apparent descent of one from the other. 
I hold that hybridism has had a large share in the formation of 
existing species ; and it seems to me possible that, in the creative 
or plasmative period, even widely differing types could cross and 
produce offspring, owing, as I have previously said, to the very 
imperfect influence of the force of heredity at the period when the 
world was young. 

y Google 


The Flora of the Sea -shore — Santubong Peak — Stkange Plants — 
Nepenthes Veitchii — Satang — ^Turtles^Excursion to Poe — 
Austral Character of the Vegetation — More Notable Plants— 
The Raffxesia' — Gunono Gading — Freshwater Alg^. 

DURING the rainy season, when the north-east monsoon blows, 
it is so rough off the northern coast of Borneo that it is 
difficult and often dangerous to go out to sea in the flat-bottomed 
river boats, though in fine weather these are well adapted for 
coasting. I had, therefore, delayed investigating the littoral flora 
of Sarawak. Now, however, with the arrival of June, this could 
safely be done, for the weather was favourable. Being obhged for 
the time being to leave Mattang in order to provide dried fish for 
my men and fowls for myself, I decided instead of going to Kuching 
to make a httle tour along the coast, where I could get from the 
fishermen what I wanted in the way of provisions. It gave me the 
opportunity, at the same time, of gaining some idea of the nature 
of the Uttoral vegetation. 

I therefore proceeded to Sibu,^ a small hamlet beyond Salak 
to the west. The sea-shore is sandy, and clothed pretty nearly 
to the water's edge with tall Casaarinas of the common species, 
the forest behind being mostly very thick and nearly impenetrable. 
Trees of species widely distributed on tropical sea-shores abounded, 
but amongst them were some restricted to Borneo. I found large 
pandani, with gigantic arm-like branches supported by thick air- 
roots, and numerous creepers, particularly frequent being those of 
the genus Gnetum. Calami of a great variety of species also 
abounded, rendering progress through the jungle extremely difficult, 
though they compeiisate for this by their many useful qualities. 
Where the sandy shore was free of trees a fairly extensive 
flora of herbaceous plants of wide range had established itself. 
Besides various Cyperacea; and grasses, species of the following 
%Qn&rA—Crotaiaria, Indigofera, Phaseolus, Vi%na, Tephrosia, all 
widely distributed, were growing. The big violet coroUas of two 
convolvuli reminded me of the C. SoldaneUa of our Mediterranean 

In July I again left Mattang for the purpose of exploring the 
1 Not to be confounded with Sibu on the Rejang river. 

y Google 


conical hill of Santubong (2,974 ft.), which I dimbed on the 20th 
of that month. 

Without a gtiide it would have been no easy matter to find a 
passage up the precipitous rocky chff which bars the way at the 
very outset ; but I happily found one in one of the huts at the base 
of the precipice, and we managed to get up somehow, holding on 
to the roots of the trees, though I found it pretty hard climbing. 
When we had got over this difficulty we came to a sort of terrace 
leading up the least precipitous side of the peak — that facing the 
sea. By this we were able without much difhculty to reach the 
summit, which I found to consist of a small area of level ground. 
To set foot on the top of a mountain is always a pleasant sen- 
sation, which various causes doubtless combine to evoke. To the 
mere dimber— whose sole aim is to reach the summit apart from 
the desire of rest — the attaining of the wished-for goal is per- 
haps in itself the chief source of joy : the sensation of exultation 
at having reached the upper dominating regions of the 
atmosphere, and vanquished Nature which has tied man 
down to the earth. Or it may be that our gratification is 
merely the outcome of those ambitious feehngs winch spur on so 
many to endeavour to rise above their fellows. But to the naturalist 
the attainment of the summit of an unexplored mountain is a 
genuine source of delight, from the hope he ever has of finding 
species yet unknown which may afford him new data for discoveries 
in the field of geographical biology. Nearly always, on the summits 
of mountains or isolated peaks in Borneo, as in other parts of 
Malaysia and New Guinea, are to be found species belonging to 
genera of plants existent in very distant regions, as if such spots 
were the last refuge of the remains of an extinct flora. Such 
mountain tops, arguing from these facts, are, perhaps, the last 
fragments of an older world of former continents now broken up 
and in great part destroyed. 

On the top of Santubong, as I had observed on the summit of 
Mattang, shrubs with small coriaceous leaves abounded. They 
were without flowers, but I could see that several belonged to 
Myrtaceje of an Australian type, usually found. on the mountains 
of Malaysia, but at much greater elevations than that of Santubong. 
This leads me to suppose that neither the elevation nor the low 
temperature explains their presence in such localities, but other 
circumstances as yet little known, and perhaps, in the first place, 
their being able to hold their ground against the invading species 
of the lower regions. On the higher elevations of the mountains 
in Malaysia light seeds of many plants are doubtless carried by 
the wind, such as Nepenthes, Rhododendron, orchids, etc., which, had 
they fallen in the forests of the plain, would have perished ; whilst 
in more open and better-hghted locahties they find bare spots where 

y Google 


they CEin grow and develop. The same may be said, no doubt, of 
plants which multiply by spores ; and thus on the top of Santubong 
I collected two beautiful large ferns — Matonia pectinata- 3.-nd Poly- 
podium dipferis, which may be said to be inseparable, and, indeed, 
are found also associated on other mountains far from Borneo, 
e.g., on Mt. Ophir in the Malay Peninsula. 

Amongst the many other interesting plants which I met with on 
the top of Santubong, I shall only mention two new species of Didy- 
mocarpus,'- two Rhododendron, and the striking Nepenthes Veitchii 
(Fig. 22), "Which grows as an epiphyte on the larger branches of 
the trees among the mosses and detritus of all kinds which easily 
accumulate in such situations. This is one of the finest and rarest 
of pitcher-plants ; the pitchers or ascidia it produces are bag-shaped, 
rather wide, and blotched with blood-red patches. Some of the 
specimens I got measured quite ten inches in length. The mouth 
of the pitcher in this species is certainly its most conspicuous and 
remarkable part by reason of its rich orange colour and its vertical 
position. It is also a perfect trap to entice insects into its interior, 
attracting them from a distance by its bright colours. Sir Josfeph 
Hooker compares the mouth of the pitchers of A'^. Veitchii to the 
gills of a iish, to which, indeed, with their narrow lamella converging 
to the centre, they bear considerable resemblance. 

In all the species of Nepenthes I have observed, the young 
pitchers, even before their hd opens, contain a certain quantity 
of liquid, produced by the plant itself ; but the water which is 
found in full-grown pitchers is evidently due in great measure to 
the rain. In the pitchers of N. Veitchii from the summit of 
Santubong, in addition to the usual drowned insects, most of them 
more or less putrid, I once found quite a mass of frog-spawn. It 
would be extremely interesting- to know whether some casual frog, 
having by chance discovered this receptacle full of water, deposited 
her eggs in it, or whether some particular species may not perhaps 
exist which makes a'practice of so doing. 

On July 23rd I visited the neighbouring island of Satang. 

!■ These two species of Didymocatpus are small herbaceous plants, 
mere rosettes o£ small leaves, from the midst of which thin stalks shoot up, 
supporting lovely violet flowers. One, D. rufescens (C, B. Clarke), is one of 
the very few Bornean plants with leaves thickly coated on both sides with 
an abundant growth of silvery hairs ; though leaves of this type are frequent 
in plants that grow in arid and dry places, especially on rocks on the sea- 
shore and in .\lpine regions. The other, Z>. bullata (C. B. Clarke), is also a 
singular and elegant little plant, with leaves of a dark purplish green, velvety 
on the upper side and with fairly, regular transverse folds. These two Didy- 
mocarpus. which I have not met with elsewhere, have the type of numerous 
Gesneraceje peculiar to China, and their presence on Santubong is perhaps 
explained by the open-air position they have been able to secure amongst 
the fissures in the rocks where no arboreal vegetation could get a footing. 

y Google 

(about i natural size). 

y Google 


I went across in my sampan, but should not do it again, for on 
our return we had a narrow escape of being swamped, a heavy 
sea having got up very suddenly. River boats are certainly not 
safe, even for a short trip at sea. Satang Island is mostly formed 
by a small hill, partly granitic and partly sandstone, on the south 
side, whilst its northern portion, farthest from the mainland, is 
limestone, rising in cliffs which overhang the sea. Here I found 
plants which I had not met with elsewhere, but on the southern, 
nearer end the plants were identical with those on the sea-shore 
at Sibu. On the calcareous rocks overhanging the sea I saw edible 
nests of a species of Collocalia, but they were quite inaccessible. 
Along the eastern side is an extensive sandy beach, on which 
turtles come ashore to deposit their eggs. Here is the landing- 
place, opposite the hut of a man in charge of the island, who not 
only collects the turtle-eggs, but takes care of a coconut planta- 

During the night I remained on Satang several turtles landed 
to lay their eggs, which are deposited in a hole about 2^ feet deep, 
to the number of from 100 to 180, and are then covered up with sand 
so cleverly as to leave no trace of the operation. The turtle which 
resorts to Satang Island is the Thalassockelys caretta, a species 
found also in the Mediterranean, and very abundant along the 
shores of Malaysia and in the Indian Ocean. 

In the month of August I accompanied the Tuan Muda on an 
excursion to Mount Poe, in search of a site for the establishing of a 
coffee-plantation. Mr. Martin, an experienced coffee-planter from 
Java, went with us, and I started in my sampan with my usual 
native crew, following the boat of the Tuan Muda. After descending 
the Sarawak river, we coasted westwards, keeping a few yards 
from the shore, a sandy beach which runs from the mouth of the 
Sarawak river to that of the Lundu. Tlie weather was beautiful 
and the sea perfectly calm, as it nearly always is during the south- 
west monsoon, from April to November. 

I occasionally landed and walked along the sandy beach, taking 
my gun, and getting a shot now and then at shore-birds (Tringa 
and Toianus), which ran along by the water's edge feeding on small 
worms and crustaceans. We reached thus the mouth of the Lundu 
river, which we entered and ascended for several hours, landing 
at a spot whence an excellent road, leading through a magnificent 
forest, took us to Sadomak, a large Dyak village with a missionary 
station, where we slept. 

On the morning of August 14th we started to climb Mount Poe. 
A number of Dyaks carried our luggage, which was rather bulky, 
as we intended to camp for several days in the forest, Our road 
led at first over a flat country, which extended to the foot of the 
mountain, and was mostly cleared of primeval forest and swampy. 

y Google 


In the wilder tracts Eugcissonia minor abounded — -a palm of tlie 
same genus as that I had found on the summit of Mattang, bat 
much smaller, with a short stem raised from the ground, pandanus- 
fashion, by a great number of slender roots, about three feet in length 
and not thicker than the finger. These roots are largely exported 
to Europe, where they are known as "rajah-canes," and are used 
for making umbrella handles and walking sticks. 

After a long and fatiguing tramp we came to a temporary hut 
or shed of the Sadomak Dyaks on the banks of the Burangan torrent, 
and here we thought it best to camp for the night, although several 
hours of daylight still remained. 

Next morning we began to ascend the mountain, and found it 
an easy task, for the gradients are slight. We walked on a layer 
of fallen leaves in a forest of big trees with \'ery scanty undergrowth. 
Few of the trees were in blossom, but on examining the leaves I 
detected the presence of several Dt'pterocarpecs, and of at least 
five or six species of oak. 

We noted not a few spots where the slopes were slight and 
the thick stratum of vegetable earth was very well adapted for 
plantations ; but, strangely enough, there was no water on the 
mountain side. The rain has hardly fallen ere it is absorbed, 
disappearing between the masses of granite, of which the bulk 
of the mountain is composed, without forming anything like a 
brook or stream. 

After a climb of several hours we reached an elevation of about 
4,300 ft., and camped in a kind of gi-otto between two huge blocks 
of granite, which met above our heads and formed a good natural 
shelter from the rain. The forest here is truly beautiful, but the 
trees do not appear particularly varied. Over a considerable area 
the ground is nearly level, and forms small valleys dotted with blocks 
of granite, hidden under a soft green mantle of mosses. The 
forest has thus a very different aspect from that of the plain, 
and to this the presence of conifers, so rare in Borneo, contributes 
in no small degree. Amongst the latter the most important is 
Phyllodadus hypophylla, which Sir Joseph Hooker has described 
from specimens collected by Low on the great mountain Kins. 
Balu. This plant represents an exotic element in the flora of 
Borneo, for the only other two known species of the genus are found, 
one in Tasmania and the other in New Zealand. Moreover, the 
frequence on the upper slopes of Mount Poe of two or three species 
of Podocarpus and of a Dammara or Agatkis (A Beccarii, Warb.), 
give a botanist the impression of being in an austral forest. From 
the trunk and branches of the above-mentioned Dammara exudes a 
resin, which collects at the foot of the tree, and forms stone-like 
masses. One of these, now in the Botanical Museum at Florence, 
is as big as a man's head and weighs eleven pounds. This resin is 


called " Dammar-da ghin," i.e. " Flesh-resin," on account of its 
colour, and is one of the best commercial kinds."- 

Amongst other plants of great interest to the botanist, T found 
on the higher parts of the mountain a new type of vegetable parasite, 
or perhaps a saprophyte," which I afterwards described and named 
Petrosavia stellaris, in honour of my former master. Professor Pietro 
Sa\'i, of the University of Pisa, 

Very little animal life was to be seen in the forest on Mount 
Poe, and I did not get a single mammal or bird. Even butterflies 
and other insects were very scarce. 

We passed the night comfortably enough in the grotto or rock 
shelter. At dawn, on August i6th, the thermometer stood at 64° 
Fahr., and the barometer at 66774 ™n^- With these data I calculated 
the elevation of this spot to be 4,238 ft. above sea-level. Taking 
a few Dyaks as guides with me, I started at once, accompanied 
also by my Malays. No pathway existed, but it was easy to find the 
way to the summit by following the ridge on which we were. The 
slope was not at all steep, and the forest, always beautiful, was easy 
to traverse. As we proceeded the trees diminished in height and 
got more and more covered with mosses. We reached the summit 
without trouble, where one of the first objects which caught my 
eye was a new conifer (Dacrydium Beccarii. Pari.), a small but very 
elegant tree, with the aspect of an Araucaria ; its branches bent 
upwards and forming a large umbrella-shaped crown. This was 
the sixth conifer which I found on Gunong Poe's heights ; a remark- 
able fact, which I think cannot be wholly accounted for by the 
facihty with which the seeds of such plants are dispersed. It is 
more likely that on the top of Mount Poe we have the remains of a 
very ancient flora, which, once owning widely-diffused types, has 
transmitted a few to the present epoch in such localities as have 
been least affected by telluric disturbances, which in remote times 
have certainly wrought vast changes in the configuration of the 
Indian and Polynesian Archipelagoes. 

The summit of Poe is nearly always wrapped in dense mist, and 
the all-pervading dampness has caused a thick carpet of sphagnum 
to cover the ground, and a coating of other mosses, especially 

' In the forest on the plain near Kuching I found another Dammara 
{Agathis Botneensis. Warb,), which produces no lesin. Both, however, 
appear to me to be mere varieties of Dammaya alba. 

2 It is very difficult, amidst the dense masses of intertwined roots which 
struggle for mastery in the arena of a tropical forest, to isolate such small 
plants with the necessary precautions, and to ascertain beyond doubt that 
they really are saprophytes, viz., independent and living on elements taken 
from the humus, and not parasites, and adherent to some root of another 
species. It is stiil more difficult to discover whether such organisms have 
not had a primitive parasitical stage, becoming later independent or sapro- 


y Google 


Hepaticts, to clothe the stems and branches of the shrubs. Of 
the latter I collected a large qnantity, of which not a few were new 
to science and of great interest.^ Amongst the more noteworthy 
plants I collected were three species of Nepenthes (not, howe^rer, 
amongst the finer ones), and two orchids, viz., a Renanthera with 
large orange flowers, and a SpaihogloUis, also with very large flowers 
of a yellow colour. 

At noon in the shady and copier spots on the summit the ther- 
mometer marked 70" Fahr., and my aneroid 639.31 mm., which 
would give for Mount Poe an altitude of 5,520 ft.^ It is thus the 
highest mountain of Sarawak and of all the western part of Borneo. 
It marks the frontier with the province of Sambas, of which a large 
portion can be seen from the top as a uniformly undulating stretch 
of woodland. On the side looking towards Sarawak the trees, 
although only of medium height, impeded my view. 

I had heard that a species of Rafflesia was to be found on Mount 
Poe, one of those extraordinary parasitical plants whose huge and 
startHn^Iy conspicuous flowers spring from the ground like gigantic 
mushrooms. I had accordingly hunted ever\'where for it, but till 
then in vain. I spoke about it to the Dyaks of our party, and one 
of them assured me that he knew the plant, and offered to take me 
to a spot where he had seen it ; so I put myself under his guidance 
and left my companions, followed by some of the younger and more 
active Dyaks. I may here remark, incidentally, that I was on this 
occasion not a Utile impressed by the advantage I had over them 
in the descent, which we took at a run, for I wore shoes and they 
were obhged to be constantly on the look-out not to wound their 
naked feet. 

When we got to the foot of the mountain, we turned off for about 
half an hour from the path we had followed in the ascent, pene- 
trating into the heart of a magnificent jungle, which reeked with 
damp from the density of the shade and the many streamlets which 
bubbled up everywhere, winding about amidst the blocks of granite 
which had rolled down from the mountain. I had been told that 
close to the Rafflesia a gigantic tree grew, which had been climbed 
a few days before by my guide in order to get the honey of some 
wild bees. We soon came across the very tree, which from its 
fallen leaves I discovered to be a Shorea. It was bigger than any 
of these giants of the forests that I had previously seen, and the 
cylindrical portion of its trunk was about 6^ feet in diameter. I 
was not able to measure its height, but I do not think I exaggerate 
in asserting that it must have been over 230 feet. Later, I saw 

' Cf. De Noiaris. Epatiche di Borneo raccolte dal Dr. 0. Beccari, in " AUi 
R. Accad. di Torino," series ii., vol. xxviii. 

" In calculating heights with my aneroid I have followed the directions 
and used the formulas of Comm. Felice Giordano, 

y Google 


in the vicinity other specimens of the same tree, quite as gigantic. 
Searching for the Rafflesia as we walked along, I came across 
several fungi, especially agarics, amongst them one which appeared 
to be identical with our own poisonous Amanita fhalloides, whilst 
in another I recognised the common and edible Cantharellus cibarius. 
From the dead leaves and fruits which formed a thick layer on the 
ground, I was able to ascertain tliat the forest was chiefly composed 
of Bombace<B, Artocarpea, Myristica, Sterculia, Diosfyros, Quercus, 
Dipterocarpus, etc. Here, perhaps, as much as in any place in 
Borneo that I examined, was the oldest primeval forest, the most free 
from shrubby or herbaceous undergrowth. On the ground, however, 
many stems of creepers and rotangs contorted and intertwined in 
every direction, and trailed like huge serpents ere raising themselves 
upwards to the light and air by aid of the great tree-trunks. 

We were now on the spot where the Rafflesia grew, but the 
irregularities of the ground as yet hid it from us. A minute and 
careful search, however, had its reward, and I at length caught sight of 
thelongsought-for botanical treasure — an open flower level with the 
ground, inserted on the rampant stem of a climber of the genus 
Cissus. The newly expanded flower measured rather over 23 inches 
in diameter (Fig. 23), 

In Rafflesia the flower alone is actually all there is to be seen 
of the plant, for the growing portion is buried in its host, and is so 
intimately connected with the tissues of the plant on which it is 
parasitic, that it is not only impossible to separate them, but is 
also very difficult to distinguish them by careful microscopic 
examination. The flower is very fleshy, of a deep vinaceous colour, 
and it gives off a most offensive stench much like that of putrid 
flesh, or, to be botanicaUy exact, like that of the spadix of Arum 
dracunculus, and of certain kinds of Amorphophallus. It makes 
its first appearance as a tumour on the stem of its host, and grows 
before expanding quite to the size of a child's head. I found a 
specimen in this stage of development, covered with brown scales, 
which reminded me, except for its colour, of a well-grown cabbage. 
The globe on expanding shows five almost circular petals inserted 
round a great central cup, in which are the reproductive organs. 
The Lundu and Sadornak Dyaks call this Rafflesia " bua pakma " 
(pakma fruit) ; evidently a corruption of " patma " or " padma," the 
sacred lotus {Nelumbium speciosum) of the Hindus, which is not a 
native of Borneo. This is, no doubt, one of the many traces of the 
ancient faith once professed by the Dyaks, who have preserved 
the memory of the emblematic flower, transferring its name to 
that of another plant conspicuous for its size and singular appear- 
ance. In Java, as well as in Sumatra, the Rafflesia is known as 
" patma " ; but there the fact is not surprising, for the prevalence 
of Hinduism in those islands is a matter of not very remote history. 

y Google 

y Google 


As no one had described the Rafflesia of Mount Poe, I named. 
it R. Tuan-Mudts, in honour of the present Rajah of Sarawak, 
Sir Charles Brooke.^ 

Before my party rejoined me, I had brought to the Dyaks' 
house my precious find, taken the requisite notes on the' fresh 
specimens, and made drawings of the entire plant and of its more 
important parts. Not being able to preserve the flower entire, 
I had to content myself with such portions as might be useful for 
furtiher study, and these I put into a jar with spirits. 

We then returned to Sadomak, from which place on the following 
days we made an excursion to Gunong Gading, also a granitic 
mountain. We passed the night of August 22nd under a lanko, 
at an altitude of about 1,700 feet, and on the following morning 
climbed the summit nearest the sea, which proved to be 3,209 ft. 
high, the thermometer standing at 70° Fahr., and the aneroid at 
685 mm, I found nothing of any particular interest on this 
mountain top. 

From Gunong Gading issues a stream which forms a fine water- 
fall, plunging into a deep and limpid basin beneath. On these 
rocks, always wet with falling spray, I discovered a singular Aroid 
{Rhynchopile elongata, Engl.), with shiny spadix of a cherry-red. 
I got besides several other interesting planis, amongst them a new 
Anonacea {Goniothalamus suaveolens, Becc, P.B. N. 2,327 ^). It 
is a shrub with large, fleshy, greenish flowers inserted on the slender 
trunk and exhaling a most delicious perfume, very similar to that of 
the pompadour or allspice {CAilycanthus floridus). 

At Sadomcdt, on the rocks in the stream near the Dyak houses, 
I discovered two singular algse, both of which were new. One of 
them, of a red colour, which turned out to be a Delesseria, and was 
later named D. Beccarii, Zan.j is of great botanic interest, for it 
belongs to a genus of which all the previously known species are 
marine. It covered the rocks with a red coating. The other, which 
has been named Tliorea flagelliformu, 2an., is one of the most 
beautiful of freshwater algfe, being composed of tufts of long 
plumose filaments, some four inches in length, of a lovely ^'iolet 

I returned to Kuching well pleased with my botanic harvest, 

1 Fuller details of this plant are given in the work of Count H. von 
Solms-Laubach on the Raffiesia, published in the Annahs du Jardin Botanique 
de Buifemorg, vol. ix. p. 185. 

^ To every j^mt I collected in Borneo I attached a number corresponding 
to a catalogue, kept regularly, to which I added notes from time to time. 
These numbers are attached to all the samples of Bornean plants in my 
herbarium, or which have been distributed to the herbaria of Kew, Paris, 
St, Petersburg, Vienna, and others. It is for this reason that here, in men- 
tioning a plant, I also give its number with the initials P.B. {Plantis 


y Google 


only regretting that I was unable to prolong my stay on Mount 
Poe, As to the selection of a suitable ground for the proposed 
coffee-plantations, which had been the main motive of the trip, 
it was afterwards found more convenient to give the preference to 

y Google 


At Mattang Again^Wild Eees^An Uninhabited Mountain — Anti- 
quity OF THE Forest — The Name Mattang — ^An Abundance of 
Beautiful Plants — The Age of Trees — ^Rare Saprophytes and 
Fungi in the Tropics — Adventitious Plants Abound the China- 
men's Houses^ The Valley of Rotangs^ — Spinous Plants — 
The Mormolyce^Pityriasis cvmnocephala — Hornbills — Argus 
Pheasant and Nocturnal Lepidoptera — Alone at " Vallombrosa " 
— A Storm in the Forest — Shooting at Buntal. 

ON my return from Mount Poe I went back to Mattang, where 
I remained all September and a portion of October. The 
collections I formed during this period were very important, for the 
trees then in blossom were numberless. The honey-bees had also 
taken advantage of the season, and flew in countless myriads from 
flower to flower amongst the higher branches in search of nectar. 
The flowers of the Dipterocarpea; appeared to be their especial 

In Borneo there are two species of honey-bee ; one fairly large, 
the other smaU. The first, Apis dorsata, is the lanyeh of the natives, 
and is found in Central and Southern India, and throughout the entire 
Malay Archipelago.^ The small species, Apis nigrocincta, is known 
in Sarawak by the name of nuang. It occurs in Celebes, and even 
in China. 

The nuang produces a small amount of wax and a large 
quantity of honey, not of the best, perhaps, but nevertheless highly 
relished by the Dyaks, who, in order to be able to indulge their 
taste for it, rear these bees near their houses, just as we do our com- 
mon species. The large Bomean bee, on the other hand, produces a 
smaU quantity of excellent honey, and immense combs of wax, 
which can often be seen hanging from the larger branches of giant 
trees known as " tapang," which tower above the other denizens 
of the forest, offering a safe and isolated refuge to the bees, who have 
many enemies. Amongst these the most dangerous is the little 
Malayan bear {Helarctos malayanus), who is a very glutton for honey 
aud cares nothing for stings. 

' In the Sarawak Gazelle, May 2, j88i, it is stated that at Singapore 
a swarm, of bees settled on the mast of a steamer starting for Kuching and 
returned with the same vessel to Singapore, leaving it afterwards for a tree 
near the docks. 


y Google 


The Dyaks are clever at climbing tapangs, constructing a 
sort of ladder with pegs fixed in the trunk of the tree and connected 
with longitudinal poles. The large bee is not, however, so very 
particular in choosing the site of its colonies, liigh chfis and also 
ordinary trees being at times selected, as is shown by the following 
incident of painful memory, of which I was the victim. 

One day in the forest I had had a tree felled, amongst several 
others of hke size, not being aware that it had a bees' nest hidden 
amongst its branches. This was naturally broken in the fall, and 
the affrighted bees, swarming out in a highly irritated state, massed 
together and attacked one of my men, Laksa by name, who was 
dressed only in a pair of short trousers. Being at a certain distance 
when the tree fell, I might have escaped scot free, but poor Laksa 
in his agony rushed up to where I stood, imploring me to free him 
from the intimated insects, which covered his head and chest. 
Without giving the matter a thought, I took off my jacket, remain- 
ing about as much dressed as my man, whom I began to beat with 
the jacket, in the hope that I might free him from the bees. But 
crushed bees appear to give out an odour which serves only to 
irritate their living brethren still more, and they now all turned upon 
me. In vain I strove to free myself. I tried to escape by running, 
attempting to get back to the house as quickly as I could, but this 
I found impossible, for I was bare-footed, and had to cross a clearing 
full of prostrate trunks, and the thorny rotangs tore my feet fearfully. 
On the way I came to a deep water-hole, and in despair plunged into 
it, hoping that the bees would leave me. But the rehef was only 
momentary, for, as soon as I put my head above the surface to 
breathe, an infuriated swarm dashed down upon it, immense num- 
bers having collected above me while I was under water. There was 
nothing for it but to rush out of the water and once more make for 
the forest, which I did, and here, fortunately, I was met by my men, 
who, called by Laksa, had come to the rescue, armed with lighted 
torches oi green wood, which gave out plenty of smoke, and this at 
last drove oft my enemies. The Dyaks always make use of these 
to get at the honeycombs without being stung. 

I was in a sad condition, and my face so swollen that I could 
hardly see. Happily, I had some ammonia with me, and used it 
freely ; this soothed the pain and caused the sweUing to diminish. 
Laksa, who would not use my remedy, was in a bad state for two 
days. The number of stings in liiy skin was prodigious, especially 
on ray back, and for a good hour and more my men were occupied 
in extracting them with tweezers. 

As is well known, a bee after stinging cannot draw out its sting, 

and, losing it, dies. Nature, which rarely — if, indeed, ever — is 

quite perfect in her work, makes these insects pay a very high price 

for the weapon with which she has provided them. That in the 





brain of an irritated bee the idea of a weapon of defence for itself, 
its home, and- its progeny may haye arisen, is possible ; but the 
manner in which Nature has gratified such a wish by providing 
the sting and the venom is inexplicable, or at the least in the highest 
degree wonderful. 

The clearing which I mentioned above had been made for the 
coffee plantation, for which Mattang had been finally selected as the 
best adapted site, after the rejection of Mts, Foe and Gading, 
as stated in the preceding chapter. For this reason, the Tuan 
Muda and Mr. Martin came to stay with me during September 

Fig. 24.-(i) 
tree in Borneo, (about J- natural 
OF OVARY, ditto. 
(Figs. 3-4 enlarged about f .) 

at " Vallombrosa," in order to superintend about a hundred Dyaks 
who were engaged to fell the forest. It had been decided to leave 
at intervals some of the bigger trees, that they might protect with 
their shade the young coffee-plants, a practice which I think is not 
without its drawbacks. It was useful to me, however, to have ail 
this tree-felling going on, for I was able to collect specimens of a large 
number of trees not yet represented in my herbarium. Unhappily, 
many of the felled trees were not in blossom. 

I have already mentioned the tapangs. A very big one grew 
not far from my house in the neighbouring ra\ine, a majestic giant 
of incredible height. My desire to obtain specimens of the flowers 

y Google 


and fruits of this tree, which I believed to be as yet unknown to 
botanists, had hitherto been unsatisfied, but one morning I was 
dehghted to find on the grounii beneath it a few small branches 
bearing flowers, which had been broken off by a violent gust of wind 
during the night. The flowers were very small and greenish. 

I have named this extraordinary species, which belongs to the 
Leguminosce, Abauria excelsa, dedicating the new genus to my 
friend and fellow-traveller, the Marquis Giacomo Doria.' I shall 
have an opportunity further on in my narrative of again mentioning 
this tree, which is probably the largest and most majestic in Borneo, 
and, indeed, must take rank among the giant trees of the world 
(Fig. 24). I may here mention that the term " tapang " is often 
applied to any tree of exceptional dimensions, usually selected by 
bees for their nests. But the tapang par excellence, which is 
noted also for its splendid and valuable timber, is the Abauria. 

From " Vallombrosa " I used to make excursions in all directions, 
but for miles and miles around I found nothing but the unbroken 
primeval forest, with the insignificant exception of small clearings 
made by Chinese at the foot of the mountain. 

My nearest village was Singhi, about the same distance from the 
house as Kuching. Leading towards the former was a sort of path- 
way made by wild pigs, to catch which the Singhi Dyaks used to 
lay the traps already described, which they call " petti " ; but these 
had been providentially removed by order of the Tuan Muda when 
I went to live on the Mattang. 

Why the slopes of the mountain should have remained unin- 
habited was a puzzle to me. When 1 was there, there was not a 
single hut on it. It may be that the attempts at cultivation were 
unsuccessful, and were therefore abandoned. The whole mountain 
appears to be formed of sandstone of very coarse grain, over which is 
a goodly layer of vegetable earth, which, even had it not been origin- 
ally of the best quality, could not fail to become so through the vast 
accumulation of vegetable detritus in the forest. But, from what I 
can judge, the Singhi Dyaks do not like to fell the primeval forest, 
which gives them so many valuable products. It may be also that 
they find it too much trouble to fell the big trees, and prefer to make 
their clearings in the forest of secondary growth, where the trees 
are smaller and mostly soft-wooded. 

The word " Mattang " means a sacred place, the abode of spirits ; 
and it is not improbable that the name of the mountain explains 
why its primeval forest has remained untouched to this day. If 

■■ CI Malesia, vol. i. p. 169. Firenze, 1877, " Abauria " is the ancient 
mode of spelling the name of the Doria family. Recently Abauria has been 
replaced by Tanbert in the genus Koomfassia, from which, however, it is 
most distinct ,;' amongst other differences the fruit of Abauria does not appear 
to be winged. 


y Google 


it be true that the Land-Dyaks are the descendants of old Javanese 
or Sumatran colonists, the fear inspired by the mountain might be 
explained by its resemblance to a volcanic cone and by old remini- 
scences of terrible eruptions, so frequent in the islands whence 
they came, confusedly transmitted by the memory of the immigrants. 
The flames, smoke, vapours, boiling water, mud, ashes, and 
lapilli ejected at intervals by volcanoes, the subterranean rumbhngs 
in their interior, the violent earthquakes, etc., in short, all the 
concomitants of eruptions, are phenomena which must have produced 
a deep and lasting impression on a primitive, ignorant, and supersti- 
tious people. It is thus not strange that tbe Dyaks should 
consider mountain tops with feelings of awe and terror, and believe 
them to be the residence of those supernatural beings termed by 
them " Kamang," which it is neither right nor prudent to dis- 

Although I can have no doubt as to the primeval condition of the 
Mattcing forest, yet on the spot where I had built my house were 
indications that at some time it may have been the abode of man. 
I was led to think this by the large bamboos I found growing there. 
Cultivated bamboos do not grow and multiply spontaneously in the 
primeval forests of Borneo. They are reproduced by division of 
the root, and perhaps sometimes by cuttings, but they rarely 
blossom and still more rarely produce seed. For these reasons I 
came to the conclusion that the isolated clump of bamboos which 
had furnished me with pipes to convey the water to my house 
could not have spontaneously sprung up on that spot, but had much 
more probably originated from bits of the cane left there by Dyaks 
who had come to the tapang growing near, in search of honey. 
Another vestige of the presence of man was possibly the Alocasia 
macrorhiza, one of the cultivated " kaladi," with feculent tubers, 
which grew and mulriphed naturally, attaining colossal proportions 
(the leaves measured 5 ft. in length), down towards the lower 
part of the brook, near the place where this reached the plain. 

At this spot there was quite an accumulation of beautiful 
plants, no doubt broughtabout by the many seeds and fruits carried 
thither from all parts of the mountain by the waters of the stream. 
Amongst them I may mention a new and magnificent palm (Arenga 
brevipes), and several singular Anonaceje, as Sphcerothalamus insignis. 
Hook, and Marcuccia grandifiora, Becc' In the same locality, 
attracted by the sweet and delicious scent exhaled by some fallen 
fruits, I discovered one of the most exqmsite wild durians of Borneo, 
Durio dulcis, Becc.^ 

The question of the age of the great forest trees was one 

1 NiMvo Giornale Botanico Italiano, iii. p. r8i. Firenze, 1871. 
^ Matesia, iii. p. 243. 


y Google 


*hich often came in my thoughts during my solitary wander- 
ings in and around Mattang, and I ultimately came to the 
conclusion that the great majority can hardly be long-lived ; for 
they grow very rapidly and continuously all the year round on 
account of the warmth and equability of the cHmate. As no 
periodical rest in vegetation occurs in Borneo, the trees which 
grow there do not show in a transverse section of their trunks 
those regular concentric rings or zones which elsewhere allow an 
approximate evaluation of the age of the individual. But it is 
presumable that the age of Bornean trees is never very great, and 
cannot be reckoned at many centuries. An argument in favour of 
this supposition is the great fadhty with which even arboreal 
vegetation appears to renew itself in that country, as the many 
dead and rotten tree-trunlis found lying on the ground in the forest 
amply prove. I fotmd on one occasion a large tree with a trunk 
about three feet in diameter, almost completely decayed, yet stand- 
ing upright, its roots still in the ground in the position they had when 
living, covering completely and sm-rounding the trunk of another 
tree of about the same size as the first, which was lying prostrate and 
rotten. Now, evidently the time required by the yet standing tree 
to grow, die, and rot had not been sufficient to decompose entirely 
the fallen one, which was dead and prostrate when the other grew up. 
Considering the rapidity with which even the most durable 
timbers decay in the tropics, I cannot beheve that the dead and 
prostrate trunk could have been there a very long while, as I should 
certainly have beUeved had I found in my own coimtry the trunk 
of an oak of similar size in like condition. 

Again, the abundance of tree-trunks lying dead in the forest 
shows that the life of forest trees is relatively brief in the tropics, and 
proves that there arboreal plants are being continually replaced and 
renewed. The accumulation of vegetable detritus produces the 
humus which is found in all densely wooded areas, where water 
cannot wash it away. In tropical forests the humus accumulates 
in an extraordinary degree, and it can be asserted that in Borneo, 
and in countries under analogous climatic conditions, the richness 
and nature of the plants which cover the ground is a direct effect of 
its depth and quantity. 

Amongst the flowering plants whose existence depends on the 
humus are certain saprophytes, diminutive plants which possess 
the means of absorbing the substance required for their nutrition 
directly from the humus, without the necessity of leaves or of 
chlorophyll. Of this group, leading an existence very similar to 
that of the fungi, which they not infrequently resemble in aspect, 
Mattang possessed a goodly series. Several turned out to be new 
and of great interest to the botanist ; and sundry forms of slender 
and transparent Thismias, filamentous Triundece, and various 

y Google 



Burmannias ^ were the reward of my patient and careful search in 
places where the forest was thickest, the shade densest, and the 
stratum of humus richest (Fig. 25). 

Under hke conditions I was pretty certain to come across those 
small ground orchids (Antxctochilus, Goodyera, etc.), with variegated 
leaves, spotted and striped with gold and silver and showing 
metallic sheens, which form the joy of orchid lovers, and are un- 
doubtedly amongst the most charming and marvellous products of 

the vegetable kingdom The slender and wax-like saprophytes 
ijust mentioned ha\e \erj minute seeds, which cannot possibly be 
raised from the damp soil of the dense forest on which they fall so 
as to attain the higher currents of the atmosphere, and it is rather 
difficult to see how such plants succeed in widening their geo- 
graphical range. The fact remains, however, that some of them 
are to be met with on almost all the Malay islands, from the Malay 
Peninsula to New Guinea. I have endeavoured (Malesia, vol. iii. 
p. 325) to explain the matter through the agency of earthworms 
' Malesia, vol. i. p. 240, and vol. iii. p. 318. 

y Google 


which, living in the humus, swallow, together with inorganic par- 
ticles, the seeds which may be mixed with them; and, in their turn, 
being devoured by birds, the undigested seeds may pass through the 
latter's intestines and be evacuated intact in locahties such as those 
whence they originated. The mysterious dissemination of certain 
fungi of hypogeous growth— of truffles, for example— may be 
similarly explained, for their spores, like the above-mentioned seeds, 
can pass from the intestines of earthworms to those of birds, and 
thus be spread far and wide. 

Mycetes and fleshy fungi were also not uncommon in the \icinity 
of my house, and I often came across Mytremyces, Hymenophallus, 
Mutimts, Clathrus, etc., the joy of whose discovery only the 
mycologist can appreciate fully. One day it was our common 
edible mushroom {Boletus edulis) which gave me a happy surprise, 
taking me back to our Itahan woods. And here, too, I met with 
several other European forms of Boletus and Agaricus which had 
been long familiar to me. 

It is a general belief that fungi are not abundant within the 
tropics, but this belief must be greatly modified. One day in 
September I made a note of the species of fungi I could collect in 
an hour in the immediate vicinity of my house, and the result was : 
Myxogastri, three species ; Agaricus, fourteen species ; Polyforei, 
ten species ; Auricidarinei, six species ; Pezizem, three species ;, 
PhacidiecB, three species ; Spkceriacei, ten species ; total, forty-nine 
species. On another occasion {June 14) I found in the forest, in the 
vicinity of the house of the Chinese, eleven species of Agaricus and 
five or six of Boletus. Moreover, from my arrival in Borneo to 
September, 1866, I find that I observed no less than ninety different 
species of Agaricus. 

From my hermitage at " Vallombrosa " I often went down to 
the Chinese settlement near the river to renew my provisions, and 
especially to procure rice, which I kept in large tin boxes. These 
I also used for stowing away my collections in, when the plants were 
perfectly dry. During one of these visits to the Chinese I had occa- 
sion to note that several foreign plants had invaded the grounds 
around the " kunsi " ; amongst them were two in great abundance 
which were in no way tropical — Amaranihus mangostanus, L., and 
the plantain, Plantago major, L., both eaten by the Chinese. 

Following the stream on which was the landing-place, and pene- 
tratmg the forest, I came to a small and perfectly level valley extend- 
ing for nearly a mile, where Nature showed herself in her wildest 
aspect. In the thick layer of rich humus which the floods of years had 
deposited there, the vegetation throve in an extraordinary manner, 
and the trees had attained enormous dimensions. I was pleasantly 
surprised at the large number of palms which I found here. In. 
the rank soil the spiny Zalacca abounded. Here, too, I collected 
113 I 

y Google 


specimens of the largest known Calamus, and of the diminutive 
Iguanura palmuncula, which is probably the smallest of known 
palms. Its four or five fronds, which constitute the entire plant, 
and are about the size of a man's hand, are borne at the summit of a 
stem a few inches high and of the thickness of a goose-quill. In this 
same locality I collected at least twenty species of rotangs (Calamus), 
and hence I named it the " Rotang Valley." Many a time I 
lacerated my skin and tore my clothes in making herbarium speci- 
mens of these plants, some of which have stems as thick as the wrist 
and a couple of hundred feet in length, and are defended by a for- 
midable array of thorns.^ 

On account of the difficulty in collecting and in preserving these 
plants botanists usually content themselves with very imperfect 
specimens, and do not keep the long filaments armed with hooked 
spines which enable these rampant climbers to ascend and hold on 
to trees ; nor do they preserve the leaf-sheaths which envelop the 
stem and are the parts most covered with these thorns. Yet these are 
precisely the parts which it is most essential to have and to study, 
for they present the characters on which specific distinctions are 
principally based, and by which the species of the genus Calamus 
can be distinguished. 

It may be laid down as a general rule that when plants are pro- 
vided with spines or thorns they possess nutritive qualities, and are 
sought after by animals. The Calami, and other thorny palms, have 
a central bud or " cabbage " {umbut)-~a. most delicate morsel, much 
relished by many animals, monkeys amongst others ; and if this most 
essential portion of the plant were not well defended, it would be 
easily damaged or destroyed. 

In Borneo, except certain palms, the pandani, and some forest 
Cyperaceie (Dapania and Scirpodendron), which are also obhged 
to defend their central buds, thorny plants are comparatively rare, 
whilst they abound in those countries where ruminants are frequent. 
There are, however, several kinds of spinous fruits in Borneo, such 
as those of the durian and other Bombacece, the species of which 
are so numerous on this great island. These fruits contain seeds 
which are edible or surrounded by a pulp of agreeable flavour, and 
are hence much sought after by various animals. 

It is, perhaps, not so easy to explain the relations which exist 
between the nutrient qualities of an organ or a tissue in a plant and 
the defensive thorns which are developed on it. My own opinion 
is that these latter owe their first origin to the stimuli caused by 
animals, especially by bites, punctures, and other lesions. In the 

' Some authors have asserted that rotangs attain a length of zoo metres 
(656 feet), but I cannot beUeve this possible. Loureiro, in his Flora 
of Cochin China, describes his Calamus rudentum as having a stem " 500 et 
lutra pedes longus I " 


y Google 


remote epoch of the plasmation of oi^anisms, an animal in gnawing 
a plant shortened its branches, and these, under favourable climatic 
conditions, were reproduced shorter or acuminated. Likewise, 
fruits, leaves, or other parts of plants being bitten, pricked, or torn 
by animals, the cicatrising tissue may have given rise to swellings, 
projections, spines or other hyperplasia, which on repetition may 
have become hereditary. 

I have been speaking in the present tense ; but it is not in the 
present period that such effects can have been produced. What can 
now be observed in Nature, or be produced artificially as an experi- 
ment, can only reproduce in infinitesimal measure what must have 
taken place in the primordial epoch of life, and this because one 
cannot suppress the influence now exerted on all living beings by 
the interminable phalanx of their progenitors. It is this inherited 
influence which prevents the hving beings of to-day from adapting 
themselves to the circumstances which surround them, and obliges 
them to reproduce and transmit the characters inherited from 
their ancestors, even when such characters in the changed condi- 
tions of existence have become useless or even pernicious. 

I used to visit the " Valley of Rotangs," not only for its plants, 
but also in search of animals. Dead tree-trunks, either standing 
or prostrate, were an inexhaustible field for the entomologist, and 
on the fungi, especially Polyporus, which grew in great numbers 
on such trunks, I always made large captures of Coleoptera, mostly 
dark in colour with yellow spots, belonging to the Erotylidis and 
Endomyckidis. Under a large and ancient tree-trunk, fallen across 
the torrent, so as nearly to form a bridge, I had, on one occasion, 
the rare good fortune to capture a Mormolyce, one of the wonders of 
the insect world. It is a Carab of large dimensions, measuring 
about three inches in length, and of extraordinary shape, for its 
body is laminar, with elytrje greatly extended at the sides, and the 
head is strangely elongated. It is difficult to see what is the use of 
the singular conformation of this insect, which, on account of its 
flattened body and dull coloration, would appear to be adapted 
to live under the bark of trees, where, however, it has never been 
found. Later I foimd a Mormolyce in Sumatra, and on this occasion 
also it was on the surface of the inffirior portion of a d«ad tree-trunk, 
shghtly raised from the ground and in the densest part of the forest. 

It was also in the " Valley, of Rotangs" that on September 12th 
I came across a small flock, some five or six specimens, of a beautiful 
bird which I had not previously seen. Having shot one of them, 
the others showed no fright, and I was thus able to secure four 
specimens one after the other. I was not long in recognising them 
to be Pityriasis gymnocepkala, one of the few birds restricted 
to Borneo and characteristic of its avifauna, and for this reason, 
long sought for by me. I was thus deUghted at having secured it. 
115 ' 

y Google 


This bird is about the size of a thrush, with a large stout bill. 
With the exception of a wide collar of briUiant scarlet, the plumage 
is entirely of a glossy black. The crown of the head is bright 
yolk-yellow, denuded of feathers and covered with small and thickly 
set conical fleshy papillfe, while the space round the eyes is also bare, 
with the skin coloured bright red.^ 

Pityriasis can boast of a prerogative rare amongst birds— the 
females are more brightly coloured than the males. The difference 
in the plumage between the sexes is not great, but in the females 
the iianks are spotted with red, whilst in the males they are of a 
uniform black. The bird feeds on insects, and the stomachs 
of those I shot contained the remains of Coleoptera, especially 
Brenthid(S. This explains the presence of the birds in the neigh- 
bourhood of a recent clearing, where, on the felled trunks, such 
insects abound. This was the only occasion on which I met with 
Pityriasis during my three-years' stay in Borneo. 

In mentioning Pityriasis I remarked incidentally that Borneo 
possessed few peculiar species of birds, i.e. such as are not found 
in the neighbouring regions. And this is quite true ; for although 
Borneo supports such a rich and varied series of organic products, 
strange to say it is not, proportionally to other insular regions, rich 
in endemic types giving a marked character to its fauna, as the birds 
of paradise in New Guinea. 

Both the fauna and flora of Borneo belong to the forest type 
which extends over the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and, in a lesser 
degree, Java. It is, however, with the Malay Peninsula, perhaps, 
more than with Sumatra, that the organic products of Borneo show 
closest affinities, so much so as to cause surprise that these two 
regions are now separated by a wide tract of sea ; indeed, the resem- 
blance could not be greater were they united. So much is this the 
case in regard to the fauna, that it can be safely asserted that 
the mammals, birds, and reptiles of Borneo are either absolutely 
identical, or else represented by closely .allied species on the Malay 

The same may be said in a general way of the .flora, though 
Borneo has a larger share of pectdiar species. But, notwithstanding 
this, it forms one and the same botanical region with the Malay 
Peninsula. A notable exceptionis, however, caused by Mount Kina 
Balu, whose very elevated summit, with a special climate, has 
enabled strange heterogeneous forms, derived from different distant 
regions, to exist amid the insular flora. 

' In the coloured plate of this species pubhshed in the fifth volume of 
the Antjali del Musso Civico di Genova, the circumocular region is made rose 
colour. Such may have been the case when the specimens, which I had 
preserved in spirits, were taken out to be mounted. But my notes taken at 
once from the freshly killed specimens are very precise on this point. 

y Google 


On Mattang there was a great scarcity of birds, not only as 
regards species, but individuals. The Great HornbiU (Buceros 
rhinoceros) was one of the few common kinds to be seen. Hardly 
a day passed whilst I was there without my coming across a couple 
of these strange birds, whose presence is made very evident by the 
tremendous noise they make when on the wing, a noise which recalls 
that of an approaching railway train. When flying in pairs, more- 
over, these hombills utter a loud and peculiar call, which can be 
heard at a great distance — " N'gam-gok, N'gam-gok" repeated 
several times in succession, a peculiarity which has earned for the 
bird the name of burong n'gam among the Malays. It is in every 
respect a singular creature, with its enormous bill surmounted by 
a curious red helmet, the object and utility of which is a mystery. 
This strange bill is in great request as a head atid ear ornament 
amongst the Dyaks ; the Chinese also prize it, and pay asmuch as 
a dollar for a single head. The hombill is probably quite as proud 
of its enormous bill and red helmet as the Dyak is when he adorns 
himself with the cumbrous eardrops which he makes with it. The 
birds can hardly feel comfortable with this huge appendage, and 
yet, as most ladies do, they submit, or rather have submitted, to 
the tyranny of fashion, in order to attain that special ideal of beauty 
during a determined psychological moment. 

The monstrous bill of B. rhinoceros, besides being very much in the 
way, appears also badly adapted to the sort of food preferred by 
these birds, which consists mostly of the fruits of various species of 
Ficus. These the hombill easily plucks with its bill, but it is then 
obliged to throw each fruit high up in the air, and catch it with 
open mandibles and a clever jerk. Birds of this species live easily 
in captivity, always taking their food in the peculiar way just 

Of the few mammals found on Mattang I only obtained a porcu- 
pine, which my men discovered one day in a hollow trunk lying on 
the ground. We pushed the creature out with a long pole, and 
secured it with a blow on the head when it emerged. Except a 
few tufaias and squirrels, I hardly ever met with a mammal during 
my wanderings in the forest. Even monkeys were scarce there. 

Night after night I used to hear the call of the " burong ruei " 
of the Malays, the beautiful Argus pheasant. It is extremely 
difficult to shoot this bird, and it is usually caught with nooses 
carefully set in the forest. But on Mattang none of my men were 
proficient in this art of bird catching. Only once in the forest did 
I get a glimpse of an Argus ; but I frequently found its broad wing- 
feathers, so wonderful for the row of eyes, the dots, and the vermi- 
culadons, produced in infinite shadings of brown, which adorn it. 
The Bornean Argus (Argusianws grayi) is considered distinct 
from the one found in Sumatra and on the Malay Peninsula {A. 

y Google 


Argus). It is a bird of nocturnal habits, and it is during the night 
only that the cock utters its love cry. But even if its nocturnal 
habits were not weU known, I believe that they might have been 
more than suspected by a look at the coloration of its feathers, 
a character which is usually connected with the manner of life the 
bearer leads. I may take this opportunity of mentioning the 
singular analogy to be found between the coloration of birds and 
that of Lepidoptera. In both cases tho genera! colour is in 
numerous instances so similar to that of their usual surrounduigs 
that the two are practically identical, and the bird or butterfly is 
invisible to its enemies. - In other instances it would seem as if 
they had selected from their surroundings the most brilhant and 
brightly coloured object as a pattern for their adornment. The 
Argus suggests to me a case in point, its ocellated leathers resem- 
bling in a remarkable manner the tints and distribution of colours 
in our largest moth {Saturnia pyri). The oceUi on the wings of 
this moth, as on those of the Argus, are so close an imitation of the 
eyes of an animal that even the reflection of hght is reproduced 
in them. I take it that these ocelli represent false eyes, and were 
originally the product of impressions received from real ones : 
in short, that the pigment granules of the scales of the moth and 
those of the bird's feathers have grouped and arranged themselves 
in certain points so as to reproduce exactly the luminous impres- 
sion received, There must, therefore, be some sort of correlation 
between the nervous system and the blood-vessels to have re- 
produced the image of the eyes ; and we can thus compare the 
feathers of birds and the scales on the wings of Lepidoptera— or 
rather the pigment which gives them colour — tq, sensitive photo- 
graphic plates acted upon by the image formed on the retina of the 

The life I led in my retreat at " Vallombrosa " was in every 
way agreeable to me. I found pleasant occupation for each hour 
of the day, and was so thoroughly happy and contented that I 
felt no wish for change. But it was not so with my men ; and one 
day towards the end of September they came to me in a body, 
complaining of the cold, and saying that they wished to return to 
Kuching. I felt that I could hardly refuse them their request- 
My Chinese boy, who acted as cook, alone did not express any 
desire to leave me ; but then he was hardly sufficient for the work 
at a time when a great number of new trees were successively coming 
into blossom, and specimens of them had to be collected. I there- 
fore sent him also to Kuching along \vith my Malays, with instruc- 
tions to find and engage new men. But several days passed and 
no one came, so that I was quite alone. 

The solitary life of a hermit in that grand forest was to me far 
from unpleasant ; I may even confess to a certain satisfaction at 

y Google 


ha\'ing to depend upon no one but myself. My health was perfect, 
and I had nothing to fear from man or beast. My provision of 
rice was sufficient, and my hencoop was well stocked. Here, 
however, a small cloud arose. The greater solitude and quiet of 
the place emboldened certain four-footed marauders, perhaps some 
of the Viverridis, and every night my stock of poultry diminished. 
This made me resolve to eat them myself as fast as I could, rather 
than let them furnish food to the thieves, of whom I was never 
able to catch a sight. More than once during the night I was 
awakened by a cry of distress coming from my poultry yard : the 
old cock always gave the alarm, fought courageously, and was 
thrice wounded, but I never succeeded in reaching the scene of the 
battle in time. 

Of course, among my daily occupations was now that of pre- 
paring and cooking my dinner : wringing the neck of my daily 
fowl, plucking it, and putting it into the pot with the rice, which 
completed my menu. This was occasionally varied by a pigeon 
or a hombill, which took the place of the fowl in the pot, unless I 
preferred to grill it over the grating where I usually dried my plants. 
One of my chief anxieties was that of keeping my fire alight 
from day to day. Being unprovided with matches it was only 
with the greatest difficulty that I managed to re-Hght it, if it once 
went out, by means of a flint and steel which I had. The difficulty, 
however, was not to get my tinder to ignite, but to obtain a blaze, 
for the weather was rainy and every object was saturated with 
moisture. Thus I took the greatest precautions to keep the fire 
constantly alight. But one morning what I feared came to pass, 
and on going to the fireplace not a spark could I find under the 
ashes. A fire was necessary and had to be ht ; but for iully an hour 
my efforts with the flint and steel were ineffectual, imtil at length 
I remembered that I had my gunpowder, and when once the tinder 
was alight I had no longer any difficulty in starting my fire. 

But the weather now kept getting steadily worse. The north-east 
monsoon was making itself felt, and frequent and sudden storms 
threatened to level my hermitage with the ground. In this solitary 
clearing in the continuous forest the wind had good play, and 
several trees threatened to fall. One of them, indeed, did do so, 
and fell on my house, knocking in one of the corners ; but this 
fortunately happened during the day time. 

Another hurricane, on a night as dark as Erebus, almost made 
me think the end of the world had come. The furious blasts 
shrieked through the tops of the giant trees and tore of^ branches 
in all directions ; while every now and again the roar of the fall 
of some monarch of the forest was heard above the storm. The 
rain fell in torrential downpours, accompanied by a hail of sticks 
and branches. I was afraid that one of the latter might kill me 

y Google 


as I lay, even if my house escaped destruction by the fall of one 
of the big trees surrounding it. At last the storm died down and 
1 was able to get some sleep. The next morning I found that the 
house had been badly damaged and required repairs. It was the 
twelfth day that I had been left by myself, and now, if I wished to 
stay on, men would be required for repairing the house, as well as 
for other necessary work. I therefore made up my mind to return 
to Kuching, and did so on the following day. 

At Kuching I found that my Chinese boy had not only never 
attempted to get fresh men for me, but had actually left the country. 
It is certainly wonderful how easily servants desert you in Sarawak, 
but as a compensation it is quite as easy to get new ones ; and this 
I at once did. 

Having collected my new servants, I went, as a first excursion, 
for a shooting trip to Buntal, at the mouth of one of the smaller 
branches of the Sarawak river, where I had been told that shore 
birds abounded, and some good shooting was to be had at that 
season. We started early on the tenth of October, and when I 
arrived at the place I found that my information was correct, 
and the sea-shore was hterally alive with birds. I cannot 
remember how many I shot, but I exhausted all my ammuni- 
tion, and preserved specimens of eight species as yet unrepresented 
in my ornithological collection.^ 

During the latter half of October and the beginning of Novem- 
ber I was engaged in packing up the collection I had already 
made. I also collected from the natives every kind of vegetable 
product I was able to hear of. Towards the middle of November 
I started on an excursion to the upper waters and sources of the 
Sarawak river, but I must leave the account of this to the next 

1 The species got at Buntal were the following : Mgiaiiiis peronii, M. 
tHongolicus, iE. geoffroyi, Strepsilas interpres, Pelidna sabarquata, Actidromas 
albescens, Terekia cinerea, Numenius phmopus (cf. Salvadori, Uccelli di 

y Google 


The Southern Branch of the Sarawak River^Diamond Washing — 
Fossils in the Limestone — Rapids — ^Riverside Plants— Pankalan 
AM PAT — In Search of Coal — Gunong Wa — Great Bamboos — A 
DvAK Banquet— New Kinds of Fruit — Roads beyond the Frontier 
^Senna — Other Fruits and Cultivated Plants — Thermal Springs 
— Excursions on the West Branch of the Sarawak River — -The 
Cave of the Winds, " Lobang Angin." 

WITH the flowingtide. at half-past three o'clock in the morn- 
ing of the 15th November, I started from my head- 
quarters at Kuching to ascend the southern branch of the Sarawak 
river, into which flow the waters collected on the slopes of Mount 
Pennerrissen. Beyond Lida Tana we lost the help of the tide and 
had to take to our paddles, continuing thustillnoon. Afterarestto 
cook and eat our rice, we resumed our row up the river, but as the 
current was getting stronger and stronger we were obliged to have 
recourse to poling. As the river was shallow, we progressed thus pretty 
rapidly. We passed the small affluent of Sunta, where we found 
a few Malays engaged in washing for diamonds. At three o'clock 
in the afternoon we reached the village of Koom. Here, in addition 
to a number of Malays, I met an Englishman who, commissioned 
by the " Borneo Company," was trying his luck with diamonds, 
using a big boat provided with a curious spoon-shaped dredge, with 
which sand and pebbles from the bottom were brought up and 
carefully sifted and searched for diamonds. 

The Malays wash for diamonds in the same way as for gold, 
using circular wooden trays {dulang) with a wide conical concavity 
and measuring some two feet in diameter. The earth and fine 
gravel or sand is placed Jn the tray, to which a shght rotating 
movement is given as it is dipped from time to time in the running 
water. In this manner the lirt and Hghter particles are washed 
away, and the heavier ones, such as particles of metal, or precious 
stones, remain at the bottom in the central conical depression. 
The diamonds found at Koom and elsewhere on the Sarawak river 
are rarely of very pure water, and are mostly tinged with yellow. 
Some that I saw had a decided reddish tint, a variety much appre- 
ciated in the country when the gem is not too small. The 
diamonds I saw were of very variable shapes : some were perfect 

y Google 


octahedrons ; others had three and six facets on each of the faces 
of the octahedron ; and there were also hemihedral or bisected forms. 
The diamond-yielding alluvium also contains gold, but in small 

A Malay showed me the results he had obtained in three months' 
work, consisting solely of four small diamonds, which together 
could hardly have weighed half a carat. Another in a month's 
work had found nothing except a few minute flakes of gold of the 
value of perhaps a couple of shillings. He told me that he had 
spent four dollars in provisions and in travelhng to the spot, and 
he had besides paid one dollar to the Government for his licence to 
wash. The more sanguine and hard workers are buoyed up by 
the hope of finding some stone worth, say, 100-150 dollars, which 
would recompense them for the labour and expense incurred 
during. the preceding fruitless months. 

The Malays use certain seeds called " Bua saga" for weighing 
diamonds. These are of the size of a large pea, and weigh about a 
carat. They are slightly depressed, of a somewhat irregular 
lenticular shape, very hard, and with a highly polished bright red 
surface. They are a product of a leguminous tree, Adenanthera 
pavonina, which is of Indian origin, but is sometimes to be met 
with planted near huts and houses, even at Sarawak. 

I was desirous of ascertaining how nearly these seeds approxi- 
mated to the weight they were supposed to represent, and was 
surprised to find that they vary very shghtly indeed, corresponding 
almost precisely in weight to the English carat of 205 centigrammes. 
Of five such seeds taken at random I found three weighing exactly 
a carat ; the other two were one centigramme under weight. 

The profession of diamond washer is well adapted to the Malays, 
who are bom gamblers. They love to tempt fortune, and the hope 
of one day securing a big prize makes them forget that steady work 
would prove far more profitable. The Chinese prefer washing for 
gold, which gives a smaller but more certain gain. 

During my stay in Borneo I did not hear of any big diamond 
being found in the Sarawak river, but it is not in the Malay char- 
acter to talk much about any such stroke of fortune ; and if any 
were found it is not improbable that they were quietly smuggled 
out of the country. Perhaps the fear of attracting other prospectors, 
or making the Government augment the licence tax may also con- 
tribute to this. Later, however, I heard that stones of 16, 18, 
and even one of 72 carats had been got at Koom, 

The same evening I and my English friend aforesaid pro- 
ceeded farther up the river for an hour and a half, using a small 
boat on account of the shallows and frequent rapids. The banks 
become more and more picturesque, being formed of hme- 
stone rocks of strange shapes through which the river winds. These 

y Google 


rocks, eroded by the action of the water, are very ragged and irregular. 
They contain various fossils, such as shells and. echinoderms of 
sorts, and amongst the former some looked like Terebratulce} 
Here and there the rocks were dotted with rounded masses or 
tubercles the size of one's list, and even larger, formed by silicious 
concretions. The Malays call these " baiu tikus," i.e. " mouse 
stones," from their shape and dark grey colour. The trees we met 
were alt different from those which grow on the banks lower down 
the river. It was quite dark and raining heavily when we got back 
to Koom. Having arranged to ascend the river towards its source, 
we once more started on the i6th November. Our party con- 
sisted of twenty-five persons in four boats, two large and two 
small. We got off at 8 a.m., and halted at noon on a small island 
in the river to cook our dinner. In the neighbourhood, on the sites 
of former plantations, we found growing abundantly a wild banana 
{Musa campesiris, Becc, P.B. No. 2,722). At three o'clock in the after- 
noon we reached S'bungo, a Dyak village, where we decided to pass 
the night. On examining the pebbles in the river, we found amongst 
them bits of a substance which had the appearance of graphite, 
and we proposed next day to search along the banks to find it in 

The next morning at half-past eight we were again on our way. 
The rocks of. the country we were passing through varied : now 
limestone, now schists, and now sandstone, while a species of con- 
glomerate was also common. Some of the Umestone masses 
formed vertical peaks rising from 350 ft. to 500 ft, in height, and had 
plants on them which were unknown to me ; but to get at them was 
no easy matter on such inaccessible cliffs. We came at length to 
a bifurcation of the river, and followed the branch to the left, 
which is the one which penetrates farthest into the interior. Several 
rapids — or riam as the natives call them — were passed success- 
fully. My sampan was rather heavy for this part of the river, 
but we managed to carry it even beyond the Riam Lidong, the last 
and most dangerous of them all, dragging it with rotangs over the 
big rocks between which the water tears and foams, rushing by with 
tremendous velocity. This last part of the river is picturesque 
beyond description, the trees cUnging to the rocks, and spreading 
their serpent-hke roots in all directions, whilst their branches 
■ overhung the water and gave us a shade which was not a little 

One of the commonest trees here was a species of fig (after- 
wards described from my specimens by Sir George King under the 
name of Ficus acidula), which bears on its large branches bunches 
of fine red fruits, very like our own figs, of an acidulated and not 

1 This is from my notes. The specimens which I collected have been un- 
fortunately lost, and cannot, therefore, be determined accurately. 

y Google 


unpleasant flavour. Acid juices are unusual in the genus Ficus, 
and this is the only species to my knowledge which presents such a 
peculiarity. Amongst the notable trees in the vicinity I 
must not forget to mention the handsome Dillenia indica and a 
Dipterocarp, the " mengkabang chankie " of the Malays {Isoptera 
Borneensis, Scheff, P.B. No. 2,795). This tree produces an 
immense quantity of small fruits similar to hazel nuts, sur- 
rounded by a calyx with five rounded lobes. These fruits ripen in 
the rainy season, and falling in large quantities into the water are 
carried by the current down to Kuching, where they are collected 
by women and children, being highly prized, for the best quahty 
of mengkabang oil is obtained from their seed. A short distance 
beyond Riam Lidong the river bifurcates again. The left branch 
(for those who ascend) leads to Senna. On the right one, houses at 
once come into view. These belong partly to Chinamen, who have 
gardens here, partly to Malays, small traders, or diamond washers. 
This place, which we had taken five hours to reach from S'bungo, 
is named Pangkalan Ampat, which means the landing-place {pttng- 
kalan) for four (ampat) villages, and several Dyak tribes come here 
for trade. 

Having asked the Malays at Pangkalan Ampat if coal 
or '' Batu aran" (charcoal-stone) as they terra it, existed 
in the neighbourhood, they asserted that it was to be found 
on the banks of a small stream which ran into the river 
just below the nearest rapid. Several hours of dayhght were 
still available, and we decided to go there at once and 
see how far the assertion was true. Taking a small boat 
and two men well accustomed to descending the Riam Lidong, 
an operation much more dangerous than the ascent, we reached in 
a few minutes a place named Batu Ujong, where on the left bank a 
small stream enters the river. Ascending this streamlet for five 
or six hundred yards we came upon the so-called coal deposit. 
It was merely a seam about three feet thick of a carboniferous- 
looking schist having in certain places the aspect of graphite, inter- 
posed between the sandstone and the limestone. Our informants 
told us also that diamonds had been got in this stream. I picked 
up fragments of silicified wood, which was apparently that of a 
species of Cycadoxylon. 

On November i8th my companion was obliged to return to 
Kuching ; but I remained, awaiting the Senna Dyaks, whom I 
had sent for to fetch my luggage, and to guide me to Mount Pennerris- 
sen, of which I wished to attempt the ascent. But as they did not 
turn up, I pursuaded two other Dyaks, who had come down to 
Pengkalan Ampat from Tappo Kakas to buy salt, to accompany 
me to their village and carry my luggage, which I had naturally 
reduced to the smallest possible dimensions. They wilhngly 



accepted, and we started at ll a.m., together with my Malays. 
\iteT crossing several Chinese orchards we soon found ourselves' 
it the foot of a hill, whence two pathways led to the village of my 
guides — one crossing over the hill, and the other going round its 
base. The latter follows the course of the river, here called Sungei 
fbia, in whose waters it was necessary to wade most of the way. 
Fearing that my botanical paper might get wetted if I followed this 
path, I took the other one, but soon found that, instead of one hill, 
we had to go up and down several, and, in addition, cross a torrent 
many times, which was in some places deep and rapid. Indeed, 
I more than once felt almost carried off my legs by the force of the 
current, and should certainly have been had not the two Dyaks 
taken me between them and supported me. They, with their 
naked feet, could get a good grip of the stones in the river bed, 
and thus had the advantage over me in my European shoes. 

In various places we crossed over deep ravines on bare bamboos 
ingeniously bound to the trees on each side, and forming a most 
elegant suspension bridge (Fig, 26), but much pleasanter, however, 
to look at than to cross. 

It was nearly dark when we reached the village of Tappo Kakas, 
On the road I met with a large specimen of that most beautiful of 
Bomean orchids, Vanda [Renanthera) Lowi, in full bloom. In hot- 
houses at home this plant produces a profusion of flowers, perhaps 
even more than in its native land ; but the manner in which it in 
cultivated, placed erect in a pot, cannot convey any idea of it in 
its native forests, where, adhering by its roots to the limb of some 
big branch or to its bifurcation, its leaves shoot upwards, whilst 
its grand racemes of large flowers, sometimes quite ten feet in length, 
hang pendulous below. 

The ground here is very steep and broken, but appears to be 
of a better quality than the soil near Kuching ; it is abundantly 
supphed with water, which wells out in every direction, and 
collects clear and sparkling in the numerous streamlets and 

At Tappo Kakas I was lodged in a house at the end of the 
village, which for the time being was deserted, most of the in- 
habitants being away in the fields clearing the rice of weeds. It 
was my intention to start from this place, which has an elevation 
of about 1,150 feet, for the summit of Gunong Pennerrissen, or as 
I have also heard it pronounced, " Mengrissen." This has been 
considered one of the highest mountains in Sarawak, but it is cer- 
tainly inferior to Gunong Poe. Seen from a distance, Mount 
Pennerrissen does not seem to have any very striking summit, nor 
to tower much above its neighbours. 

The Dyaks of Tappo Kakas, for some special motive of their 
own, showed no wish to guide me up the mountain. On the con- 

y Google 


trary, they did their best to dissuade me from attempting the ascent, 
and declared that unheard-of difficulties would beset me on my 
road to the summit. Most certainly from the village in which I 
was the way to Mount Peimerrissen was neither short nor easy, as 
I could see for myself. Besides, I had brought with me only a small 
quantity of provisions. So making a \'irtue of necessity, I contented 
myself with the ascent of Gunong Wa, an easy undertaking from 
Tappo Kakas. On November 19th, accordingly, I started with 
four or five Dyaks accompanying me as guides. The side of 
the mountain was far from steep, and after a couple of hours 
very easy climb up an excellent pathway, we reached the summit, 
which is-a kind of plateau, the mountain having no real culminating 
prominence. For this reason there was no view, it being impeded 
on all sides by the forest trees, and I was in consequence- somewhat 
disappointed with my excursion. 

The formation is sandstone, as I believe it to be in all the hills 
of the group T had crossed, of coarse elements, containing pebbles 
of quartz and other sihciotis minerals, and easily disintegrated. 
It might almost be called a quartzose- conglomerate. Having 
examined the karangan, or gravel beds, in which diamonds 
are found at Sunta, and all along the Sarawak river, it 
appears to me highly probable that the gems originate from the 
disintegration of the rocky mass of the Pennerrissen group. If 
this be true, they ought to be found in situ in the rocks of which 
these mountains are composed. 

Up to an elevation of about 2,000 feet the slopes of the mountain 
either were then, or had some time or other been, under rice 
cultivation, and the primeval forest had therefore disappeared. 
In most of the abandoned plantations a gigantic bamboo grew 
■with great luxuriance, forming huge clumps, which recalled to my 
mind those I had admired along the Mahawelliganga in the Botanic 
Gardens at Peradeniya, in Ceylon. It was, no doubt, a Dendrocalamus. 
The internodes of its young shoots contained a large quantity of 
limpid cool water which flowed out as from a tap if an incision 
was made in them. I am not aware if this peculiarity is con- 
stant in this species of bamboo, or whether it occurs in others when 
growing in localities provided with a superabundance of water in 
the soil, as was undoubtedly the case here. ' I have stated in 
a previous chapter that cultivated bamboos in Borneo rarely 
run to seed, and are never met with in the true primeval 
forest, except in localities once under cultivation or near 

1 Recently here, in Florence, after abundant rain, I found the young 
shoots of a bamboo (Bambusa viridi-glaucescens) with their internodes full 
of water. But this abnormal absorption soon caused them to turn yellow 
and perish, the internodes becoming detached one from the other 

y Google 

y Google 


habitations. The gigantic bamhoo mentioned above may therefore 
have been introduced from Java, probably with other cultivated 
plants, at the period when the benefits of the Hindu- Javanese 
civilisation was extended also to the people of Borneo. 

On Gunong Wa I noticed an ingenious way of utilising bamboos 
in the construction of huts or temporary shelters in the jungle. The 
big stems spht in halves were not only used for the sides of the house, 
but a very efficient roof was made by laying them alternately with 
the convex and with the concave side upwards, with the edges over- 
lapping.' Our tiled roofs have the same arrangement. Is it pos- 
sible that they have originated from similar constructions in bamboo 
used by our remote ancestors ? 

On the top of Gunong Wa I was not able to collect many plants ; 
most were trees and out of blossom, I noted, however, several 
species of Quercus, and some very large specimens of Podocarpus 
cupressina, R.B., and the Eugeissonia, which I had already found 
on Mattang ; it appears to love sandstone hills. But the best find 
I made on this excursion was anew foinvillea {J.Borneensis, Becc), 
a plant which possesses the attributes both of the grasses and of the 
palms, with a stem of the size of a slender reed six or eight feet high, 
and with elongated and folded leaves. Of the genus JoinviUea 
only two others are known besides this species, one from the Sand- 
wich Islands, the other from Fiji. All three are very similar, but 
the Bomean one is more akin to that from Fiji, from which it only 
differs in minute characters of the flower. The discovery of this 
plant on Gunong Wa is very singular on account of the enormous 
distance which separates it from the allied species. It is not un- 
likely that the Joinvilleaswere formerly plants of farwider diffusion, 
and that some special cause has destroyed them in intermediate 

One of the more important additions to my collection on this 
occasion was also a new species of parasitical plant, a Balanophora, 
with the aspect of a mushroom, which I have named B. reftexa. 

I had decided to go back to Pankalaji Ampat on November 
20th, but the Orang Kaya (headman of the village) invited me 
to stay, for on that day one of the great annual fetes of the Dyaks 
was to be solemnised in the village. 

From early dawn preparations for a grand banquet had been 
going on on the platform which projected from the covered part 
of one of the biggest houses. On one side of this platform about 
a dozen gongs hung from a horizontal pole. This was the orchestra, 
whose harmony was to enhven the banquet. On large banana 
leaves, which acted as tablecloths, were placed the dishes, consist- 

^ The roofs of the huts of the Kachin in Tenasserim are made in precisely 
the same way (cf . Fed, Op. cil. , p. 382). 

y Google 


ing of boiled rice and small pieces of boiled pork and fowl, with dried 
and salted fish. But the favourite condiment was a horrible paste 
made by mixing well-rotted minced pork and squashed duri;\n pulp. 
I need not describe the appalling exhalations of that paste, the 
greatest delicacy of the Land-Dyaks ! From noon till dusk the 
gongs and drums beat unceasingly, and eating went on. All who 
came were welcome guests, and invited to partake of the food abun- 
dantly supplied. 

Wishing to utiHse my time, I got the Dyaks to bring me samples 
of all the species of fruit which they cultivated around the village. 

s those I was already acquainted with, which are to be found 
near all the Land-Dyaks' villages, I found here that of the Elaterio- 
spermum Tafos, Bl., which they call hua rufpi. The tree which 
bears it is a handsome Euphorbia, and its fruit divides into three 
segments, each of which contains a big feculous seed about one and 
a half inches long. The ruppi is cultivated, but I was told it is 
to be met with in a wild state in the neighbouring forest ; its seeds 
are edible only after having been for some time macerated in water. 
But the most remarkable fruits at Tappo Kakas were five species of 
129 K 

y Google 


elium, similar to the common rambutan {Nephelium lappaceum), 
but yet distinct. At the time of my visit they were as yet unlinown 
to science, but they have since been described by Professor Radlkofer, 
of Munich, from the specimens then obtained by me. 

These fruits differ slightly in external appearance, but are similar 
in the flavour of the pulp which envelops the seeds. Are they forest 
species, brought and planted round the houses, or are they hybrids 
between wild species and the cultivated Nephelium lappaceum ? 
I am unable to ajiswer these queries, which naturally arise in the 
mind of a botanist. It is certairily an unusual thing to find cultivated 
in one village five congeneric species of excellent fruits as yet un- 
known to science. 

From Tappo Kakas various roads, or rather pathways, lead 
into Dutch territory, and as it was my intention later to cross the 
border, I collected all available information about them. Descend- 
ing Gunong Wa on the side opposite to that wluch I had gone up, 
one comes to the upper part of the course of the Sambas river, 
and from here a track leads south, which is probably the easiest 
way from Upper Sarawak into the Dutch possessions. Slightly to 
the eastward, between Gunong Wa and Gunong Sikkom, is a 
pathway which leads to the headwaters of the Landak river. A 
third route, still farther east, passes between Gunong Badji and 
Gunong Pennerrissen, leading to the village of Sango, near which 
flows the Sikayan or Karangan, an afHuent of the Kapuas. 

From Senna, also, one can get into the basin of the Kapuas. 
The road leaves Mount Pennerrissen to the west, crosses the Sodos 
hiU, from which the Sadong takes its source, and reaches Senankan, 
near the sources of the river of this name. The first part, from 
Senna, can be got over in a day and a half. From Senankan, five 
or six hours' march, without any notable hill climbs, takes one 
to Sempio, and thence to Mrao and Sintas, all villages on the 
Karangan river. 

The Pennerrissen group is an isolated elevation which is not 
connected with any extensive mountain range, and ties between 
the territory of Sarawak and that of Sambas and Pontianak. From 
its northern slopes flow the waters of the eastern arm of the 
Sarawak river, and those of the Sadong ; while from the southern 
slopes rise the Sambas, Landak, and Sikayan rivers, the latter, as 
I have said before, an affluent of the Kapuas. 

On November 21st I was back at Pankalan Ampat, where 
I remained the following day to collect the many interesting plants 
I had noticed passing through. Amongst them was a wild man- 
gosteen — known to the natives as bua kandon—(Gaycinia Beccarii, 
Pierre), which I had noticed elsewhere on the banks of this branch 
of the Sarawak river. It is a small tree producing fruits similar 
in size and in shape to small wild apples, with a rosy yellowish rind. 

y Google 


The few seeds are surrounded by an acidulated pulp of extremely 
pleasant flavour, which recalls that of the mangosteen. The fruit 
of the Garcinia is, perhaps, the best of those of the wild species of 
this genus (known in various parts of Malaysia by the name of 
bua kandis) which are often pleasant enough in flavour, but always 
too acid. In addition to the excellence of its fruit, Garcinia Beccarii 
is also worthy of note for a species of gamboge which exudes from 
the trunk. 

On the 33rd I went to Senna, an easy journey by river, the 
stream flowing shallow and clear over a level bed of gravel. As 
the water was so low we had to pole along, and I had a good oppor- 
tunity of seeing how skilfully the Dyaks of this district, both men 
and women, handle the " swar." 

Senna is one of the largest villages of the Land-Dyaks, and 
numerous houses occupy both sides of the river, built on fine level 
ground, shaded with splendid durians, rambutans, coconut and 
areca palms, and other fruit-trees. 

In one of the larger rambutans, amidst its big branches, I 
noticed a hut, in which were living, isolated from the rest of their 
fellow creatures, a few miserable beings afflicted with a loathsome 
disease, probably leprosy, which the Dyaks recognise to be con- 
tagious. More than twenty years before, Low had observed the 
same system of isolation at Senna, and it is not improbable that 
the hut I saw was on the same tree. At Senna fruit-trees thrive 
splendidly, and evidently the soil is most favourable to them. Some 
were new to me, as the bua faya [Flacourtia acida), bua sintol 
{Sandoricum Maingayi), and bua lagnier, better known to the Dyaks 
under the name of bua mignarin. The tree of the latter is smai ; I 
could find none in blossom and cannot say to what genus, or even 
to what family it belongs. The fruit is yellowish green, perfectly 
spherical and smooth, of the size of a small orange, but not of much 
value for eating, the white pulp which envelops the seed being 
very sweet but rather nauseous. It is, however, much used by 
Malays as a sort of soap wherewith to wash their heads. 

The Senna Dyaks cultivate various tuberous plants, amongst 
them a Tacca and a Dioscorea. To the latter genus — at least to 
the best of my belief — belongs a plant known as gadong, of which 
I was only shown the leaves. It was stated to produce tubers 
of such enormous size that two men are required to carry one. 

The rice fields at this time of the year are overrun with 
weeds, and the women were very busy rooting them up. It is 
hardly necessary to say that they all belong to species of wide 
distribution. Amongst the most abundant were some Cyper- 
acete {Cyperus compressus, L. ; Mariscus umhellatus, Vahl., and 

Next day I visited a thermal spring, which flows from the bank 

y Google 


of a streamlet at about an hour's walk from the village of Senna. 
The water was clear and left no appreciable deposit, even when 
allowed to stand for a time in a glass tumbler. It had a sul- 
phurous smell. A thermometer I placed in the spring reached the 
high temperature of 163° Fahr. 

On the 24th I returned to Penkalan Ampat, and the next day 
found me on my journey back to Kuching. On the way I stopped 
at Sabungo to ascend Gunong Braam, a limestone hill in the vicinity, 
where I got some interesting botanical novelties. In Borneo the 
plants which have a predilection for calcareous soil do not appear 
to be frequent ; on the contrary, the greater number dislike it, leaving 
the epiphytes out of the question. All herbaceous forest plants, 
as well as Ugneous ones, live in the humus and extend their roots 
in the superficial stratum formed of vegetable detritus. This is no 
doubt the reason why most tropical plants cultivated in hothouses 
require a compost rich in humus, and must have water that 
is free from lime. I passed the night of the 26th at Koom, and the 
next day reached my house at Kuching. 

In December I returned to Mattang, where I found plenty to 
do in collecting specimens of the fruit of those trees of which I had 
previously collected the blossom. The Dipterocarpece formed the 
special object of my search. 

The greater part of January was employed in constant excur- 
sions around Kuching, where I remained during the whole of 
February chiefly occupied in arranging and packing my collections. 
During March I made an excursion to Lobang Angin, one of the 
caves in the limestone hills along the western branch of the Sara- 
wak river. We started from Kuching on the morning of the 2nd, 
in my sampan with its usual crew. Close to the banks of the river, 
a httle above the town, I was struck by the very peculiar colour of a 
herbaceous plant,' which caught the eye at once among the rest of 
the vegetation, and was called by my men daun halik angin, i.e. 
" the leaf that changes with the wind "—a name probably derived 
from the very different coloration of the leaves, which are green 
at the lower part of the plant, and of a briUiant salmon red at the 
upper part, where the flowering takes place. The plant is a Cleroden- 
dron, which I have distinguished as C. discolor (Becc, P.B. No. 35 
and 3,584). I passed the night at Busso, and the next day we 
continued to ascend the river. On a tree on the bank I noticed 
two squirrels, one brown, the other perfectly white ; they were 
probably male and female, and this is the only albino mammal 
which I saw in Borneo. We also met with a crocodile sleeping on 
the bank, belonging to the species called by the natives " huaya 
kaiak." I snatched up my rifle, but it was too quick for me, and 
disappeared under water before I could fire. 

We next passed under Gunong Tundong, a small limestone 

y Google 

y Google 


mountain, steep-to, as are all such on this and the other branch of 
the Sarawak river, and after some hours travelling we reached the 
cave. This has several openings, but one of the chief of them 
practically debouches on the river. It has received the name it 
bears' with the Malays, which means Cave {lobang) of the Winds 
(angin), because at certain times a strong current of air issues from 
its aperture. Just within the entrance we found a bank of 
deposit, which, at the time of our visit, was a good deal above the 
level of the river. Beneath it the floor of the cave had been much 
hollowed out by the river, which, during floods, must enter this mouth 
and striking against the farther wall, make a sort of whirlpool, wearing 
away the wall on one side, and forming deposits on the other. The 
soil thus formed was yellow and argillaceous, and was in some parts 
covered with stalagmite, in others bare. The height of the deposit, 
evidently greater than could possibly be accounted for by the 
highest floods, led to the conclusion that considerable changes of 
level must have taken place. 

I had not brought with me any spades or other implements 
for digging, but I managed to do a little with a pointed stick, and 
was so far successful that I got some pieces of human bones, an 
entire human lower - jaw, various fragments of earthenware 
vessels, and a small perforated disc, probably part of a necklace, 
I also found bits of charcoal, which was very abundant in some places, 
together with fragments of marine and freshwater shells — the 
relics of native repasts of no very ancient date. 

The cave penetrates deeply into the mountain, but being then 
without a proper guide I did not attempt its exploration. Bats 
were hanging from the roof in numbers, and the small swift which 
I had seen with Doria at Pininjau {Collocalia linchii) was abundant. 
I shot several as they flew in and out of the cave ; their edible nests 
are of a very inferior kind. 

Coming up the river I had shot various birds, amongst them 
a hawk, a kingfisher, and a remarkable barbet with a big and 
brilliantly coloured bill, the Cymborhynchus macrorhynchus. This 
bird also possesses the most beautiful eye I have ever seen. The 
iris is a brilliant emerald green, with metaUic changing dots, Uke 
a piece of Venetian glass — so far as I know, a unique instance of 
the kind in the bird world. 

I continued to ascend the river in the hope of finding some one 
who could act as guide to me in exploring the cave. That evening 
we reached Bidi. Along this portion of the Sarawak river there 
is no primitive forest, and the plains stretch away from the banks 
entirely covered with lalang grass, and only broken here and there 
by the usual abrupt isolated hills of limestone rock. At Bidi 
I found the man I wanted in the person of a Dyak, who was bought 
over by a bijit monkey I had shot on the way ; in exchange for 

y Google 


which coveted morsel he consented to be my guide to the Lobang 

The Dyak led me to another entrance of the cave, on the land 
side, also wide, but not so easy of access as that on the river, for 
we had to chmb a steep rock, very rough and beset with sharp points, 
in order to reach it. On this side, as on the other, the cave presented 
a spacious hal! which extended deep into the mountain in a winding 
manner, branching off into lateral corridors leading to various out- 
lets. Nearly in the centre of the large hall-like portion, in a deep 
fissure of the vault, is the breeding place of the true edible-nest 
swift (Collocalia nidifica), its gelatinous nests being attached to 
the nearly vertical rock. There were none now, for the Dyak 
who was with me as guide had been there on the very day previous 
for the purpose of taking them. From him I learnt that a small 
mouse-hke animal inhabits the cave, in -holes in the ground, 
I saw a goodly number of these holes, but nothing of the animal 
itself. I searched in vain, too, for bhnd Coleoptera, and any other 
special cave creatures. A good deal of loose earthy soil, undoubtedly 
carried in by water, is to be found in this part of the cave, as in the 
other, which would be further evidence of a general elevation of 
the hill at a period not very remote. 

Whilst descending the river on my way back I found a specimen 
of the lovely Dendrobium superbum, with large lilac-rose flowers, 
growing on the trunk of a tree. It is, I think, one of the most 
beautiful orchids in Borneo, and is found also in the Phihppines. 
At Bau I stayed awhile to have a look at the gold washings, 
which are worked by a considerable number of Chinamen, At this 
place, and not in the above described cave, as has been asserted, 
fossil teeth of rhinoceros have been found. 

I passed the night at Busso, and the next-day went on to Blida, 
where, crossing the river, I shot a small crocodile, the only one 
amongst the many I fired at which I was able to secure. In the 
Sarawak river the common species of crocodile (Crocodilus 
biporcatus) is abundant, even in the vicinity of Kuching ; and 
there have been instances of persons carried off by these voracious 
reptiles, even from the bazaar quay. A premium of one rupee 
was given per foot (in length) for every crocodile caught. 

That evening I remained at Blida, where I was able to secure 
several species of birds which abounded on that portion of the 
banks of the Sarawak river. A beautiful pink and green bee-eater 
{Nyctiornis amicta] was particularly abundant. I also got some 
plovers, which made an agreeable addition to my ordinary meals 
of curry and rice. On March 6th I again ascended the Pininjau, 
partly for the sake of itssplendidview,,andpartly toget specimens of 
the small sviift which is so abundant there, and which Doria had 
asked me to collect for him, for at that time our knowledge of the 

y Google 


edible-nest swifts {Collocalia) and their allies left much to be desired. 
The temperature on the top of the hill was delicious : at ir a.m., 
when I reached the Rajah's biuigalow, the thermometer was at 
77° Fahr. ; at 2 p.m. it had only risen to about 80°. In the evening 
I was back at Bhda, where I always stayed with pleasure on account 
of the excellent shooting to be had. Next day I returned once more 
to Kuching. 




On the Batang Lupar in Search of the Orang-Utan — From Kuching 
TO LiNGGs ON THE " Heartsease " — ^Pulo Burosg and its Palms — -We 
Ascend the Batang Lupar — -The Burong Bubct — The Ikan Sumvit — 
A Singular Loranthus — Marop— I take up my Quarters with 
Chinamen— Explorations in the Neighbourhood — An Albino 
Woman — My First Orang-Utan — -Races amongst the Primates — 
A Large Specimen of " Mayas Tjaping " — Discontent Amongst 
the Chinamen— a Strange Cure— Brief but Successful Hunt 

DURING the two years I had been wandering among the forests 
ol Borneo, I had not yet met with a single Orang-utan ; 
but up to that period botanical collections had so occupied my time, 
and the country I had explored had given me such rich results, 
that I had not cared to stray far from Kuching, where the great 
anthropoid ape is very rare, and to go in search of it on the Sadong 
or on the Batang Lupar, where it abounds. 

On the Sadong Wallace had long resided and collected ; I there- 
fore chose the Batang Lupar, whence I could easily pass into 
the Dutch territory of Kapuas, and visit the lakes which exist along 
the upper portion of the course of that great river. 

In March, 1867, the Tuan Muda, having occasion to send his 
gunboat, the Heartsease, to Lingga, kindly allowed me to take 
this opportunity of going there with the larger portion of my pro- 
visions, while at the same time my men were to take the sampan 
which was to convey me during the remainder of the journey. 

At 8 a.m., on March 17th, the Heartsease left her moorings, 
steamed down the Sarawak river, and reached the sea by the 
Maratabas channel. The weather was splendid ; the sea like a mirror. 
We turned eastwards, making straight for the mouth of the Batang 
Lupar. Behind us rose the dark bold outline of Tanjong Po, 
slowly emerging from the thin morning mist ; and on our right the 
low coast line revealed itself with its monotonous fringe of verdure, 
consisting of mangroves where the shore is muddy, and of casuarinas 
where sand prevails. Behind this belt of interminable forest 
rises Gunong Lessong, remarkable for its truncated form and its 
wide base.^ Passing quite close to Pulo Burong, I could see that 

1 Lessong is the name given by the Malaya to the large wooden mortar 
for husking rice. For this operation they use a long thick pestle, which is 
not unlike our grape piler. Gunong Lessong owes its name to its resemblance 
to one of these mortars turned topsy-turvy. 

y Google 


this little rocky island was completely clothed, especially on its 
upper portion, by a handsome palm, whose enormous racemes 
loaded with flowers and fruits looked Hke small Cypress trees 
protruding from the midst of crowns of sago-palm fronds. It is 
undoubtedly a species of Eugeissonia, which, although I was unable . 
to examine it more closely, I consider identical -with one I subse- 
quently found on the banks of the Rejang and at Brunei. As it 
is a useful plant from which good feculum can be extracted, I should 
not be surprised if orginally its seeds had been brought to the island 
by Dyaks. Borneo, forming the very centre of the area of their past 
piratical expeditions, may have been used by them as a victualling 
station. A httle before sunset we passed the small island which 
stands in the middle of the mouth of the Batang Lupar. When 
the sun dipped below the horizon, darkness came on very suddenly ; 
but the night was clear, and our captain being well acquainted 
with the soundings, we continued our way up stream. At 9 p.m. 
we had reached our goal, the old fort of Lingga, once the residence 
of the Tuan Muda, and now completely abandoned. It is placed 
on the right bank, near the mouth of the Lingga river, the lirst 
affluent to be met with on the right, ascending the main stream. 
As my boat had not yet arrived, I had my luggage taken into the 
fort — a low wooden building, hidden amidst coconuts and fruit trees. 
AH around the soil was swampy and honeycombed by hosts of 
crustaceans, which make myriads of httle hillocks with the earth 
extracted from the burrows in which they hve. 

The next day, my boat still not having arrived, I took my gun 
and explored the neighbourhood. I was able to shoot several 
species of birds which I had not met with before ; amongst them 
was Laiage terai, Cass., a bird which, in flight and size, is somewhat 
like a swallow. It has the habit of taking a few rapid turns in the 
air and then perching on the extremity of a bare branch of one of 
the trees growing on the banks of the river. 

On the opposite side of the Lingga river the land is low, and was in 
former times occupied by rice fields, but at the period of my visit 
was overrun with a large kind of grass, a species of Isch^mum, 
which forms immense meadows, pleasant to see at a distance, but 
in which walking would be impossible, for it reaches a height of 
some eight or ten feet. Moreover, the soil underneath is a morass, 
and one would sink up to the knees in mud and slush. The mosqui- 
toes thrive by the legion, and render life intolerable. 

On the nineteenth of March I left Lingga fort before the tide flowed, 
but awaited the tidal wave at the mouth of the Sungei Batu, another 
affluent of the Batang Lupar, where, in a safe position, I was able to 
observe the curious effect that this produces in the shallower parts, 
where, instead of the ordinary bore, the water appears violently 
agitated in disordered movements, and seems as if it were boihng 

y Google 


tumultuously. At 4 p.m. I reached Fort Simanggan without 
notable incidents. 

The next day, about four o'clock in the afternoon, having ascer- 
tained that the tidal current had reached the fort, we continued 
our ascent of the river with its aid. Soon afterwards we passed 
the Undup, an affluent on the right bank, and later on the Sakar- 
rang, on the left. Higher up, the main stream, which still retains 
the name of Batang Lupar, grows much narrower. Up to this point 
the country coiild hardly be less attractive, with its low banks, 
bare and monotonous, or with at the most a few scattered trees. 
But these are the signs of a densely populous region, and of soil 
adapted to the cultivation of rice. The shrubs scattered over the 
country are the remains of forest species not entirely destroyed by 
fire during the clearings, and appear as strangers amidst the 
vegetation of the plains. We passed the night at Balassan, a 
Dyak village of nine famihes. 

Early on the 21st we started paddling, aided by a slight tide 
for a short distance, but this was very soon overcome by the current 
of the river. I shot here a burong bubut {Centrococcyx eurycercus. 
Cab, and Hein.}, a large species of cuckoo, which keeps to open 
plains and abandoned rice fields, flying from bush to bush. Its 
loud and oft repeated cry — " bubu-bubu "—is heard for hours in 
monotonous regularity on these plains, and its native Malay name 
is derived from this peculiarity, 

I saw here for the first time that singular fish {Toxodes jaculator) 
which has received from the natives the name of " Ikan sumpit" 
hterally " blowpipe-fish." It is neither remarkable in shape nor 
coloration, but it has the strange power, on coming to the surface, 
of being able to sq\urt a jet of water from its mouth. This it uses 
with unerring aim against insects, such as grasshoppers, fhes, and 
even spiders, resting on plants near the water's edge, causing them 
to fall into the water, where they become an easy prey to the clever 
marksman. The ikan sumpit has thus a special advantage over 
other fishes also preying on insects. The annexed vignette (Fig. 29) 
shows a scene on a Bomean river, and an ikan sumpit squirting 
water at a larval Orthoptera ; but the artist has drawn the fish 
with colossal proportions, whilst in reality it scarcely attains the 
size of one of our common domestic goldfish. 

Primitive Man managed to obtain possession of living animals 
in motion by virtue of the admirable structure of his hand, which 
enabled him to grasp a stone or other missile, and to hurl it at the 
animal he wished to capture. Such must have been the origin of 
the first suggestion of implements of the chase. In Man's case the 
sentiment which caused the action was desire, followed by an act of 
volition. But it is indeed singular that a fish, intellectuaUy so 
greatly mail's inferior, should exhibit reasoning capacity similar 

y Google 



to that of a human being under Hke conditions. The remote ancestor 
of the ikan sumpit must have beheld objects whicii it desired to 
possess, but which were beyond its means of capture, and, destitute 
ol both prehensile organ or missile, may have tried to spit {if I may 
so express it) at the insect which, settled on a blade of grass o\-er- 
hanging the water, had tempted its avidity. The fish thus utilised 

the only means in its power towards an attempt to throw something 
at the desired prey. The conclusion is that acts of vohtion have 
induced the ancestor of the ikan sumpit to endeavour to perform 
certain movements in its buccal apparatus towards the attaining 
of an end for which originally its organism was not morphologically 
adapted. The modifications, therefore, which finally caused so 

y Google 

xi] MAROP 

perfect a water-ejecting apparatus to develop can only have had 
their origin in the stimulus I have indicated, namely, a voluntary 
act of the fish and the desire to get possession of an object which 
was useful to it. 

The manner in which the ikan sumpit captures insects has much 
analogy to the methods of the chameleon. In both cases we have 
special adaptations in certain organs whose modification can only 
have been caused through impulses of the will. It must have been 
the wish to capture prey, and this only, that has rendered possible 
those morphological adaptations by means of which the desire 
could be attained.' 

It is, however, singular that, among the numerous series of its 
more stupid brethren, this little fish should alone have had, one far 
remote day, at the dawn of its specific existence, the spark of genius 
which led it to discover that spitting at a fiy sitting beyond its reach 
would cause it to fall into the water and become an easy prey. 
It would thus appear that even in beings at present least gifted by 
intelligence, this latter can at one time have existed anterior to 
instinct, which in final analysis is merely an inherited form of in- 

We passed Bansi,a Dyak ^dfiage-house containing nineteen families. 
The river banks continued bare and monotonous, but the mountains 
of Marop came into view. The only interesting plant I met with 
was a Loranthus {Beccarina xiphostachya, v, Tieghem), a magnifi- 
cent species, parasitic upon a small tree hanging over the water, 
and covered with beautiful rose-coloured flowers five inches in length 
very similar to those of some of its congeners of the Andes, in which, 
however, the flowers are even more remarkable, attaining the extra- 
ordinary length of seven or more inches. 

After a short rest at Unggan to cook our rice, we continued our 
ascent of the river, passing several Dyak villages. This is one of 
the more densely populated districts of Sarawak, and at the same 
time more cultivated, thus affording little to interest the botanist. 
The rocks I saw, and they were but few, were invciriably sandstone. 
Towards three o'clock in the afternoon we reached the landing place 
for Marop. I disembarked my luggage at once, and stayed in the 
house of a Chinaman — there being quite a Uttle Chinese village 
here. The following day, March 22nd, I found without difHcuIty 
Chinese and Dyak bearers to convey my luggage to Marop. The 
former did so by suspending the load, divided in two portions, at 

1 The rather bold hypothesis that the will may have had a strong influence 
in causing the assumption in animals of certain characters, has already 
been expressed by me in a paper bearing the title, " Le Capanne ed i Giardini 
dell' Amblyornis inornaia," published in the Annc^i del Museo Civico di 
Genova, vol. ix, 1876-77. 


y Google 


the ends of a bamboo pole resting on the shoulders ; the latter carried 
their loads on their backs, secured with bands of bark passing under 
the package and over the head of the bearer. 

The road from the landing place on the river to the village of 
Marop — about an hour distant — is one of the best I came across in 
Sarawak. One might even drive a light buggy or dog-cart over it, 
were such a conveyance known in these parts. I was delighted to 
see on the way that the primeval forest had not been all cleared 
away, and that there were places where it was evidently intact. 
It had, indeed, not a very vigorous aspect, but it looked different 
from that I was already acquainted with, which made me look for- 
ward to the possibility of finding some novelties. Meanwhile 
I came across a Dipodium fP. E. No. 3,256), a ground orchid, with 
fair-sized, slightly perfumed flowers of a milk-white colour, 
covered with vinaceous blotches. 

Marop is a Chinese village, placed in a small vaUey surrounded 
by low hills. The stream from which it takes its name runs through 
it, supplying an abundance of cool hmpid water, and giving off a 
minor torrent which dashes merrily amidst the houses. The 
village was very clean ; most of the houses were made with mats or 
palm leaves, but the big house, or residence of the Kunsi, the head- 
man of the Chinese, in which I took up my quarters, was almost 
entirely built of wood. My lodgings were on a spacious platform 
forming a kind of first floor, where I made myself fairly comfortable, 
ha\ing ample room for my big and cumbrous cases, 

I was impatient to explore the country; and as soon as I had 
seen my luggage saiely housed, I made an excursion up the nearest 
hill, where I at once fell in with a troop of red-haired monkeys 
(Seinuopithecus rubicundus), a fine species I had not met with before, 
as, hke the orang-utan, it is not found in the neighbourhood of 
Kuching. In the afternoon I went up the Batu Lanko, the highest 
hiU in the neighbourhood, though it hardly reaches the elevation 
of 300 feet. It owes its name to an enormous block of granite 
raised on other similar masses, so as to form a sort of cave or shelter 
(" batu "=stone, " lanko " ^hut). On the slopes of this granite 
hill I found layers of clay, evidently alluvial, with traces of gold. 
The spot was then abandoned, but from the disturbed condition of 
the smiace over a large area it was plain that very active gold 
washing had gone on there not long before. The system followed 
is the usual one— that of washing the auriferous deposit in a stream 
of running water canalised so as to lead into successive flat pans 
or basins at decreasing levels, where the gold particles, on account 
of their greater specific gravity, remain, whilst the earthy and other 
lighter materials are washed away by the running water. 

I extended my walk to Ruma Ajjlt, a Dyak village, situated 
on the crest of a steep hill. Ajjit — for such was the name of the head- 

y Google 


man, or Orang-kaya, of the village— as soon as I approached him, 
took my right hand in his, and passed twice over my head a fowl which 
he held in his left hand. After this he presented me with the fowl, 
inviting me very civilly to sit near him by the hearth-stone. This 
was the place of honour, over which hung several smoked human 
heads, precious trophies of his past acts of bravery. He gave 
me siri and betel, according to the estabhshed custom amongst 
Dyaks as weil as Malays, the first act of hospitality towards a 
welcome guest ; and after some conversation, having asked him 
to send me fowls which would be well paid for, and to get his people 
to collect animals for me, I took leave of my worthy Dyak 
chieftain and returned to my quarters in the Kunsi's house. 

At Ruma Ajjit I saw an albino girl. She had a good figure, and 
in Europe might easily have been mistaken for a German or Swiss 
maid, with her fair hair, blue eyes, and full rosy face, but the latter 
was somewhat disfigured by scurfy spots and freckles. 

On the twenty-third of March, with several Dyaks as guides, 
I again ascended Batu Lanko hill, where I had been told that 
orang-utans, or " Mayas," as they are called here, had been seen. 
I did not meet with any, but found, and was able for the first 
time to study, their nests or shelters. The term nest is rightly 
applied to the beds or resting-places which these animals con- 
struct on trees wherever they remain for a time. They are 
formed of branches detached from the tree on which they are 
made, and heaped together, usually at a big bifurcation of 
the trunk. There is no attempt at anything like an arrangement, 
nor is there any roofing, and they merely form a platform which 
serves for the creature to lie down on. 

The orang-utan nests I saw were evidently each for a single 
animal ; possibly a united couple may build for themselves a more 
commodious couch, but I was imable to find out more of the domestic 
habits of these primates. As I have said, what I saw were merely 
beds or couches for lying down on ; but I think it very possible 
that on cold nights, or during rain, these creatures may also use 
branches and fronds as a shelter or to cover themselves with. It 
is well known that in captivity the orangs like to wrap themselves 
up in a cloth or blanket. 

The forest in the vicinity of the village being deprived of most 
of its attractions, I directed my steps next day towards the iow ground 
' in search of plants, and was by no means unsuccessful. That 
evening all the sick and invalids of the village assembled at my 
house, for my fame as a doctor had spread far and wide. My system 
of cure was the simplest, and, thanks to my good fortune, gave 
splendid results. To those affected with fever I gave quinine ; 
to those who suffered with dysentery, chlorodyne ; to the others, 
fresh water, coloured with a little Worcestershire sauce. Some- 

y Google 


times I added a little arack ; but I soon had to careful with the 
latter remedy, for the number of my patients increased instead of 

My out-patients haying ail been attended to, I went to sit up 
for deer by moonlight in a "lanko" which commanded a small 
plain surrounded by bushes, where the grass was very long and 
thick. The deer ought to have come here to feed, but the only 
thing that did come was clouds of mosquitoes, which, had I had 
any desire to sleep, would have effectually rendered it impossible, 
while, if they were not sufficient, the floor, formed as it was of 
large stakes, placed side by side, was not of such a nature as to 
tempt to drowsiness. 

On the 25th I again went in search of plants towards the plain. 
From the hill I had noted all the locahties where clumps of trees 
still stood, and each day I proposed visiting one. 

Towards evening a Chinese hunter brought me the iirst orang- 
utan, but it was so mauled and covered with parang cuts that I 
did not skin it. Mayas were apparently far from being scarce 
in the neighbourhood of Marop, and I felt certain that I should 
soon be able to get better specimens. This one was a female of the 
kind named " Mayas Kassa " by the Dyaks, who distinguish several 
varieties or kinds of the orang-utan. The hair on the body was red, 
the skin beneath was of a deep copper colour ; the face was much 
darker — a blackish- olive. 

Next day I went into the jungle in search of Mayas with the 
Chinaman who had brought me the one above mentioned. Never- 
theless, I was not favoured by fortune , and we wandered for four hours 
in the forest without seeing a single animal of the kind. When I got 
back I found another Chinaman waiting for me with a second Mayas, 
very similar to the first, but rather smaller. It was also a female 
of the Kassa variety, and it had still attached to it its little baby 
son, which had remained clinging to the mother when she fell 
wounded. In the fall the poor little creature had broken its left 
humerus. I prepared the skin of the mother, who had received a 
single bullet in the head, and had broken the bones of both arms in 
falling.^ None of my men were proficient in taxidermy, and I was 
thus obliged to do nearly all the work myself, to teU the truth, not 
too willingly. I had decided, however, to devote a whole month to 
orang-utans, and to preserve a complete series of these most inter- 
esting animals, both skins and skeletons, so I set to work at once 
without more ado. As I was eating my supper in the evening, the 

■^ The following were the dimensions of this specimen :— 

From the vertex of head to the end of the coccyx . 070 m. 

From the vertex to the soles of the feet . . . i^oS „ 

Across the outstretched arms . . . . . i'86 „ 

Circumference of thorax at bottom of sternum . , O"?! „ 

y Google 


" Tukan mas," or goldsmith of the village, came to tell me that he 
had killed a Mayas, but the hour being late had left it in the 
jungle. Three other Chinamen who were with him had remained 
on the spot, partly to guard it, and partlyin the hope of shooting 
other specimens. 

The Chinese at Marop were big and strong, and excellent walkers ; 
they had come from Sambas, and were as well acclimatised as the 
Dyaks themselves. In the evening they used to gather round me 
and talk for an hour or two, asking me all sorts of questions on 
Europe and the Europeans, while some of their queries were, per- 
haps, somewhat less ingenuous than those of the Dyaks, 

Next morning, March 27th, I finished preparing the skin of the 
Mayas which had been brought to me on the previous day. At 
noon they arrived vrith the one shot by the Tukan mas. It 
would have made an excellent specimen had it not been spoiled by 
the Chinaman who killed it, and who, in taking out the viscera, had 
badly split with his parang both the sternum and the pelvis. It 
was a male of the Mayas Kassa kind, and offered no appreciable 
differences from the female I had prepared already. I measured it 
carefully, with the following results : — 

Total height (vertex to soles of feet) .... 1-17 m. 

Across the outstretched arms . . . . . 3"io ,, 

Trunk from vertex to coccyx . . . . ... 0*75 ,, 

Circumlerence of thorax below sternum (the viscera having 

been removed) . . . . . . , o' 8 1 „ 

I may here state that I always took the measurement of the 
height by stretching the animal on the ground and measuring 
the distance between the crown of the head or vertex to the under 
surface of the heel. The exaggerated dimensions of the height of 
orangs, given, nevertheless, by conscientious and trustworthy persons, 
depend on having extended the latter measurement to the tips of 
the toes. In other cases tlie body and limbs have been measured 
along the curves instead of straight from point to point, which 
naturally has increased the general dimensions. 

The Mayas Kassa, which is the more common species of orang- 
utan here, was now becoming well known to me, for I had in my 
possession a male and two females quite adult, besides a young one. 
The male, as I have remarked before, differs very shghtly from the 
female. I only noticed a small difference in the teeth, which may 
possibly have been accidental. The male has a very small gap 
between the caniiies and incisors, but in the female this space is 
more marked. 

I had heard of two other kinds of orang-utan, one called Mayas 

Rambei, the other Mayas Tjaping. The first appeared to be only 

shghtly different from the Mayas Kassa, being described as smaller, 

but with longer hair. The Mayas Tjaping, however, was very 

145 L 

y Google 


remarkable on account of its great size and the strange expansions 
which widen its face. It appeared cdso to be much scarcer than the 
Mayas* Kassa, and I offered a reward of six dollars for every speci- 
men brought to me In good condition. I also gave special instruc- 
tions to the village hunters as to eviscerating the animal, and re- 
moving the larger muscular masses in order to lessen the weight and 
prevent decomposition, so rapid in this chmate ; and this without 
injuring the skin. 

Tiiis morning one of my Malays escaped to Simanggan, for some 
rcEison unknown to me ; but the Malays are a strange people, and even 
their ideas appear to be nomadic, just like the life they best like. 
I at once engaged a Dyak in his stead, a youth named Pagni, who 
proved also useful in aiding me to compile a small Sea-Dyak dic- 
tionary for my own use — a language much more distinct from the 
Malay than is that of the Land-Dyaks. 

' The Dyaks of this part of the country are now quiet, and their 
devotion to the Tuan Muda may be said to be unbounded. They 
are at present also on good terms with the Chinese, but I beheve 
not from any love for them, and were it not for fear of the Rajah, 
many a Chinaman's head would even now be added to the grim 
trophies hanging over the fireplaces of the Dyak houses. More 
than once, jokingly of course, when on a visit to me at the Kunsi's 
house, they asked my permission to cut off the heads of the China- 
men, but I am pretiy sm^e that the joke concealed a covert hope 
that I might grant them leave. 

I had no reason to complain of the Chinese, but they had been 
grmnbhng and expressing the wish that I should cease preparing 
Mayas skins in their house. And, indeed, I must confess that they 
were not entirely without excuse, for the odour of the skins and 
skeletons, done in the rough, was not too pleasing, although I 
sprinkled them abundantly with carbolic acid. The Chinese soon 
learnt to appreciate the antiseptic virtue of the latter, and every 
morning one or the other would come and beg me to dress some sore 
or old wound with carbolic solution. 

My orang skins caused me much trouble and anxiety, for the 
damp, combined with the heat, made it most difficult to dry them 
properly, and to prevent the cuticle from peehng off and the hair 
from falhng. To add to these difficulties the specimens were all 
very fat, and it was indeed by no means an easy task to clean the 
skins thoroughly. 

Marop is an excellent station for a zoologist, but a poor one for 
a botanist. Wherever the Dyaks had not made rice fields, the 
forest had been long devastated in search of rotangs, bark, and 
timber for building houses, etc. ; and this had rendered the more 
useful natural products scarce. I can easily understand how edible 
wild fruits or plants of economic value can disappear, with 

y Google 


the native system of cutting down every tree of such a nature. 
Nearly the whole extent of country I could see around Marop from 
the hills was in this condition ; or else covered with secondary 
jungle, which had grown where the primeval forest had been 
destroyed. This is usually invaded by a large fern {Pteris arach- 
noidea, Kauff.) called rassam by the Malays, which produces long 
tough stalks, and, being also semi-scandent, so binds together the 
underwood as to render it practically impenetrable, and where it 
abounds one is obliged to cut a passage through the jungle with the 
parang. Large areas of the country are also covered with the com- 
mon lalang grass, and with thickets of " onkodok " (the common 
Melastoma). Such are in Borneo the " bad lands " for the botanist. 

The bits of primev^tl forest which I had noticed on my way up 
to Marop from the landing place on the river had evidently never 
been turned into rice fields on account of their sterility, the soil 
being entirely formed of white crystalline sand. The trees there 
were small and somewhat stunted, but many species I found to be 
peculiar and not growing in other places in the neighbourhood. 
Although formed by different species, I believe that the areas 
covered by this kind of forest correspond to those of the mattang 
mentioned in previous chapters, and I am disposed to regard them 
as ancient islands, as it were, left high and dry, on which the vegeta- 
tion has continued unchanged since the time when they were sur- 
rounded by the sea. This hypothesis would account for the special 
character of the forest in such localities, so different from that of 
the country all round.' 

On returning one day from my daily morning excursion 
to the forest in search of new plants for my herbarium, I 
had sat down to skin the baby Mayas brought to me with the 
first one I had prepared. I had tried to keep it alive, but it had a 
broken arm, and had been badly shaken, so that my care was of no 
avail, and it died. Whilst I was thus engaged, Atzon, my best 
Chinese hunter, came in with a magnificent specimen of the Mayas 
Tjaping tied to a pole and carried by two men, who, however, 
had been obliged to get help on the way from the Dyaks, the weight 
being too much for them. Entire, I do not beheve that the creature 
weighed less than i6 stone. Following my directions, the 
viscera had been properly extracted without damaging either skin 
or bone ; a large part of the bigger muscles had also been removed, 
and it was thus in excellent condition. It was also quite fresh, 
having been killed in the gloaming of the previous evening whilst 
asleep with its head on its hand on a big branch. It showed only 

1 The " mattangs " appear to me to have a certain analogy with the 
" campos " of Brazil, which might abo be considered ancient islands which 
have been surrounded with alluvial lauds of recent formation. 

y Google 



one wound, near the coccyx, the biillet ha'V'ing penetrated all the 
viscera without touching a single bone. 

It was a fully adult male, but the more experienced hunters 
maintained that it had not by any means attained its full dimen- 
sions. Atzon assured me that he had once killed a much bigger 
one, very old, with hair neajly white, haying lost its canine teeth 
through age. Before skinning the animal my measurements, 
taJcen with the precautions already mentioned, gave the following 
results ; — ■■ 

Total height from crown to sole of the feet (Some 
little addition should be made to this measurement, for the 
body was stiff and the legs much bent) 
Width of the extended arms 
Length of trunk, crown to coccyx 
Circumference of thorax, just below sternum . 
„ of rieck 

, , of forearm 

of arm 
of thigh 

Width 'of the face 
Length of the face 

The face is, beyond doubt, the most singular feature in this 
animal. Certainly, considering that it is one of the anthropoids, 
the resemblance to that of Man is very much hidden, I may well 

1 Recently two living specimens of the " Mayas Tjaping " reached 
Europe, and were kept alive for some time in the Jardin d'Acclimatalion at 
Paris (cf. L' Illustration, 13 Janvier, 1894). Both were males, and had the 
expansions on the face strongly developed ; in one, indeed, which must have 
reached the fullest possible growth, they were extraordinarily so. This speci- 
men, fully confirming the assertions of my hunter, had white hairs on the hps, 
perhaps also a sign of great age. Its height from crown to sole was 140 ra. 
or 14 centim. m.ore than the specimen shot by Atzon, but it should be stated 
that the Paris specimen, besides the lateral face expansions, had a large fleshy 
or fatty protuberance on the crown of the head, which must have added sorne- 
what to its stature. The width of its extended arms was 19 centim. more 
than in myspecimen(8ft,7i-in.); but even on this point it must be noted that 
in orang-utans the fingers can never he fully extended, and this may cause 
some difference in such measurements. On comparing the figure of the head 
of the oldest of the two Mayas Tjaping which lived in Paris (published in an 
excellent memoir in the Nouvelles Archives du Musie, 3" serie, vol. vii. 
1895) with that of my biggest specimen, now mounted in the Museo Civico at 
Genoa, which was modelled on the drawings and measurements which I took 
in the flesh, I note that the Paris specimen presents a greater accentuation of 
the features, owing probably to age, as may be often seen in aged individuals 
of the human species. Thus the superciUary ridges are much more prominent, 
the eyes more sunk, the fatty expansions thinner and more laminated than 
in the specimen at Genoa, which was, I imagine, killed at the florid epoch of 
middle age. 


y Google 


say, masked ; and it is certainly less human than that of the Mayas 
Kassa. The flat circular face of the Mayas Tjapiiig is very much 
like that of the moon as given in popular almanacks. The eyes 
are on a level with the slan, somewhat like those of a Chinese, 
small, and with a chestnut-brown iris, while the \'ery small amount 
of sclerotic which is exposed at the corners of the eye is very dark 
in colour. 

The singular shape of the face of the Mayas Tjaping ' is 
due to the expansions of the cheeks, caused by an accumulation of 
fat JHst over the masseter muscles in front of the ears, which are 
thus hidden from view when the animal is looked at from in front. 
These expansions are compressed and laminar, about an inch and a 
half thick, and not rounded as they are reproduced in badly mounted 
museum specimens. The skin over them is tense and smooth. 
Except as regard their position, they may be compared to the pro- 
tuberances on the face of 5ms verrucosus, or to the hump on the 
back of Indian cattle. The colour of the naked portions of the face 
is nearly black, ,or, rather, blackish olive. The body is covered 
with very long hair of a deep fulvous red. 

The skin was very thick and tough, and the operation of taking 
it off extremely arduous and unpleasant, for I had to work on the 
ground without proper tools, tormented all the time by ants, flies, 
horse-flies, and mosquitoes, not to mention the excessive heat and 
the mipleasant emanations. A Chinaman and my Dyak boy Pagni 
helped me pretty well to get off the fat and clean the skin, and 
afterwcirds to take the flesh off the bones. 

Whilst I was thus hard at work another Mayas Kassa was 
brought in, but it had been so badly mauled that neither the skin nor 
the skeleton were worth preserving, even had I had time to attend 
to it. It was pregnant, I learnt, but unfortunately the fcetus 
had been taken out and thrown away with the viscera. I 
had put the skin of the already mentioned baby orang-utan 
with a broken arm into spirits, for the huge Mayas Tjaping took 
up all my time ; in fact, I worked at its preparation all that day, 
aU the next, and part of the third. I was obliged to incise longi- 
tudinally each of the fingers and toes to dean them thoroughly ; 
even the terminal phalanges were taken out, so that both 
skin and skeleton should be complete.^ I dressed the bones 

' Tjaping, in Malay, is the term applied to a small, nearly triangular or 
heart-ataped piece of silver which, is hung in front of baby girls as a fig-leaf, 
and is, in the early years of their lives, the only bit of clothing they wear. Flat, 
triangular, heraihedric diamonds are called Intang tjaping because they; 
have the same shape as the silver Tjaping ; and for the same reason, I believe, 
the term has been applied to the broad- faced orang-utan. 

* This specimen, perliaps one of the best in existence, is in the Museo 
Civico at Genoa. 


y Google 


well with arsenical soap, which prevented putrefaction, and 
kept them from the ravages of animals, and, tying them up 
together in a bundle, I hung them under the roof of a hut 
which was occasionally used as a blacksmith's shed, where they 
could dry without giving me further trouble. But the task of pre- 
serving the skin was another affair altogether, for the season was 
rainy and the dampness excessive. I therefore covered it on both 
sides with arsenical soap, wherever the hair did not prevent it, and, 
placing it on a bamboo grating, where it lay flat, I hoisted it up 
under the roof in the middle of the hut, so that it might 
dry well with plenty of air all round. If necessary, I might 
have lighted a fire in the hut to dry the air— not to attempt 
to dry the skin by such means, which would have been 
a great mistake. Skins of animals collected in tropical 
climates where the air is damp should never be dried over a fire or 
exposed to the sun's rays, for by so doing they undergo a sort of 
cooking, and either get excessively brittle, or else remain liable to 
absorb damp, so that it is difficult to mount them afterwards as 
museum specimens, for if they do not fall to pieces they lose both 
cuticle and hair. 

The consequence of this hard work on big mammal skins and 
skeletons with inefiicient tools was that my hands and fingers were 
more or less cut, and the arsenic getting into the wounds and under 
the nails caused painful sores, which suppurated. 

On thefirstof April fine weather returned, and we had a bright 
sun and a pleasant breeze. This was good for my skins, whose pre- 
servation was causing me no little anxiety. I had not only to fight 
against the pernicious effects of the climate, but against ants, rats, 
and, above all, dogs. Of the latter no less than seven were kept in 
the Kunsi's house, and fattened to be eaten on grand occasions. 
Notwithstanding my constant attention, and although I placed 
the skins in positions which I fancied to be quite secure, I discovered 
that the heel of one of them, which was nearly dry, had been 
gnawed. A dog had done the damage, and had got at the skin by 
chmbing up a pole, just like a cat. Certainly, up to that date I had 
no idea that Chinese dogs were capable of climbing. 

For several days I had been aware that the Kunsi was not 
pleased at my being in his house, and would have been glad to see 
mc go elsewhere. He said that the orang-utans stank and spoilt 
his meals. Ttiis may have been true, although a horror of bad 
smells is scarcely what one would expect in a Chinaman, but I 
beheve the real fact was that he attributed a malevolent influence 
to my work, fearing, perhaps, that the irate spirits of the big apes 
might wander near their mortal remains and clamour for vengeance. 
I was very nearly obliged to employ violence whilst skinning the 
big Mayas Tjaping, for the Kunsi wanted it carried out of the 

y Google 


house. The Dyaks present grinned, and whispered to me not to 
bother, and that if I only said the word they would soon have the 
heads of all those Chinese pigs. 

From what I could make out the diabolic influence of my deeds 
was considered already to be at work, having prostrated an old 
Chinaman by severe illness ; but I belie\-e that the poor fellow was 

already ailing, and suffering from an attack of typhoid fever when I 
arrived at Marop. The Chinamen, however, had got it into their 
heads that my orangs had reduced him to a dying condition. I 
witnessed the singular treatment to which they subjected the poor 
sufferer. They made him swallow two pills as big as cherries, 
of a composition unknown to me, poking them down his throat 
with their fingers. He was then obliged to smoke opium several 

y Google 


times, walking up and down the room, and when he could no longer 
move through sheer weakness, they put him to bed, taking thither 
the opium-smoking apparatus. To get him away, I believe, from 
the evil influences of which I was the cause, they carried him to 
another house. But as he was in a high fever, they soon after took 
liim down to the stream, and kept him immeised in the water for a 
quarter of an hour. Apparently the use of a bath to keep down 
fever has been practised in China long before it was known to us. 
After the bath they made him swallow two bananas, and then 
obliged him to smoke opium repeatedly. The next morning the 
poor old man was dead, which was not surprising. And yet they 
believed that my Mayas had killed him ! 

On the 3rd April the weather was again damp and rainy, and 
I became anxious about my orang skins, I accordingly had a fue 
hghted in the smithy to endeavour to keep the air in the hut as dry 
as possible. After breakfast I was told that a Mayas had been seen 
in the vicinity, so I sallied forth vrith my gun and followed my 
guides. In less than twenty minutes they showed me a big tree, 
about 150 feet high, on which, sure enough, I saw the animal, still 
in the same place where it had been first seen. It was partially 
hidden amidst the branches, and would not move, although we 
made plenty of noise. From where I stood at the foot of the tree 
it was a difficult shot, for I had to aim nearly vertically upwards 
I fired first one and then a second shot, but could not m^e out 
whether I had hit him or not ; he then slowly moved, but did not 
leave the tree. This was growing at the bottom of a deep ravine, 
so I climbed up one of the slopes, and was then able to see the creature 
well ; it was looking down, and was evidently badly wounded. I 
got a good position, and, after a careful aim, fired again. This time 
the Mayas fell crashing through the branches, which happily some- 
what broke its fall, or, from the immense height of its perch, it 
would have reached the ground a bag of broken bones. When I 
got to it, it was quite dead. My last bullet had gone clean through its 
heart and had passed out at the nape of the neck, sphtting the occi- 
pital bone. I noticed that as soon as it fell it gave off a peculiar 
odour of venison. It proved to be a half-grown male, and the girth 
of the thordx, just below the sternum, was 62 centim. I preserved 
the skin of this specimen in spirits, and on my return presented it 
to my former teacher in zoology. Professor Paolo Savi, of the 
University of Pisa, where it is now mounted in the Zoological 

y Google 


Beautiful Btjtterflies— A Chinese Dinner— The Good and the Evil 
OF Opium— A Young Mayas — -Excursion to the Tiang I.aju^A 
Poisonous Snake — Hii-l Pigs^Vegetation on the Summit of Tiang 
Laju — Phosphorescence in the Forest — Dyak Prejudices — 
The Bear and the Ants — Upas Cloth — Nests of Birds — 
Zoological and Botanical Novelties — Wild Ba.nanas — -A Dis- 
gusting Flower — The Ikan Tion — Curious Means of Defence 
in certain Ants — The Clulut and its Nest — The supposed Female 
OF Mayas Tjaping — A Fortunate Orang Hunt. 

AT last, with the first days of April, we had a spell of fine weather. 
With the sunshine beautiful butterflies made their appear- 
ance, and amongst them the gorgeous Ornitkopiera Brookeana, with 
its great velvet wings ; an insect which Nature has adorned with 
few but indescribably briUiant colours. These splendid creatures 
flew through the village of Marop, but their flight was so rapid that 
I did not succeed in capturing any. I was, however, more fortunate 
in getting several other fine species. Finding the season favour- 
able I continued collecting insects, especially Coleoptera, which 
came out from their hiding places in unusual numbers, attracted, 
no doubt, by the bright sunshine after so many duU and rainy days. 
On the 5th April a Chinese fete occurred, and at the Kunsi's 
house a big dinner was given, to which I had been invited. A 
fine clean mat had been laid in the central hall, where, in all such 
houses, the altar of the tutelary deities is placed, and all guests are 
entertained. A number of bowls containing food were placed in 
the centre of the mat. The larger ones contained rice, boiled in water 
and well dried, while smaller porcelain bowls held the tit-bits — 
small pieces of neatly cut boiled fowl and pork, some in sauces, 
some with gelatinous substances of dubious aspect, and by no 
means appetising. Other dishes contained beans and vegetables, 
cooked in different ways. I had an idea, too, that one or more of 
the Kunsi's fat dogs had been laid under contribution for the occa- 
sion. The guests, and I amongst them, all squatted in a wide circle 
around the mat, which served as dining table. Each had a big 
deep bowl before him, which was first filled with rice, this being the 
basis of the daily meal both for the Chinese and the Malays. Both 
place the dishes with food in their midst ; but the Malays help 
themselves with their fingers, whilst the more refined Chinaman 

y Google 


uses his chopsticks. I preferred to have my knife and fork and 
spoon brought, and did my best to do honour to my hosts, though 
at the same time I took good care to choose only the least suspicious 
of the dishes. 

On this occasion I was able to note the complete democracy 
that obtains in these Chinese societies. Even the head-man is 
elected by a majority of votes ; he may be a mere workman, but 
he must have proved himself to be a keen and able business man. 
But in the case of my friend the Kunsi at Maxop, however, I did not 
remark that he was the most laborious of the community, though 
he certainly smoked the most opium. This, nevertheless, did not 
deprive him of the requisite qualities for holding his post. He 
looked intelligent, and was certainly treated with respect by all 
his dependants, who, however, were on a footing of the most perfect 

Apart from all that is undoubtedly true regarding the use, or 
rather abuse, of opium, I have observed generally throughout my 
wanderings that the principal Chinese merchants, the richest, 
most influential, and most successful in business, are all great smokers 
of opium. The vice appears to show its pernicious effects more on 
the physique than on the intelligence. The state of torpidity it 
induces may, I think, be compared to a kind of somnambulism 
attended with fantastic visions, during which ideas manifest them- 
selves in multiform aspects, and disconnected, as it were, from the 
material world. It might truly be said, quoting our great poet, 
that during that pecuHar lethargic condition caused by opium— 

... la mente nostra pellegrina 
Men dalla came, e pi^ dai pensier presa 
Nelle sue vision, quasi 6 divina. 

I never personally experimented on the effects of opium smoking, 
but a rich Bugis at Makassar used to tell me that he appreciated 
the habit because it " exalted his intelligence "■ — " naik kira-kira", 
as he expressed it. 

To me it does not appear utterly impossible that the nerve 
stimulants which have been used by Man in a remote past may 
have exercised an important influence on the development of his 
intelligence, I do not, therefore, think it unlikely that opium, just 
as wine, may have contributed to the evolution of new and original 
ideas in those ancient inhabitants of Central Asia, and that some 
of the many useful inventions which have come to us from the Far 
East may have had their first rudiments of existence in the dreamy 
visions of some opium eater. 

For several days I had no more specimens of Mayas, and I suspect 
that the Kunsi had forbidden the Chinese hunters to get me any 
more, hoping thus to induce me to leave. But if that was his inten- 

y Google 


tion he was doomed to disappointment, for on the nth April 
some Dyaks brought me a young Mayas, only just weaned and 
nearly dead. The colour of the body was a fleshy or slightly rosy 
brown, as were the lips and ej'elids. Such is the colour of the bare 
parts in the young animals ; but as they get older the skin darkens, 
until it assumes the blackish ohve tint which it has in adults. Of 
this young Mayas I only preserved the head in a strong solution of 
spirits a,nd salt. Some Chinamen from Macao took the body and 
cooked it, and told me afterwards that it made excellent eating. 

On the following day I started with a party of Dyaks for Tiang 
Laju, an isolated peak a few miles from Marop, from which, on a 
clear day, all the Batang Lupar country as far as the Kapuas lakes 
can be seen. I wanted especially to get an idea of the situation of 
these lakes, for it was myintention to visit them as soon as I could. 
In an hour and a half's brisk walking we reached Ruma Pranghi, 
a Dyak village which lies at the foot of the hiU, but we could get 
no farther that day owing to the incessant deluges of rain. Next 
morning was bright and fine, and as soon as the sun rose we began 
to climb the hill. At an elevation of about i,6oo feet I left my 
luggage and part of my men with orders to construct a lanko to 
shelter us that night. On the way up a Dyak, with his expert eye, 
sighted one of the most venomous snakes in Borneo, the " ular 
unkudi " {Trigonocephalus Wagleri) ', which was coiled on a shrub 
on one side of the path we were cutting out with our parangs. It 
could hardly be distinguished from the fohage on account of its 
green coloration. It is extremely sluggish and slow in its move- 
ments, and does not, as a rule, attempt to bite man, but the Dyaks 
are, nevertheless, very much afraid of it. 

We continued to ascend through a very fine forest, where few 
impediments retarded our progress. There were few shrubs in the 
way, and the ground covered with fallen leaves made walking 
pleasant, had it not been for the innumerable land leeches which 
attached themselves to our feet, causing the blood to flow freely. 
On the top the mountain is reduced to a very narrow ridge, which 
explains the sharp aspect of the peak as viewed from Marop. Here 
we came to a pathway which would have frightened the timid, 
had not the vegetation on each side afforded support. This httle 
track, like others which I had observed on the way up, was, accord- 
ing to my guides, the work of the babi hlida, or hiU pigs. These I 
had not met with, but they were described to me as being much 
higher on the leg than the common wild pig. We were now on a 
level with the clouds, or, I should say, above them ; for at times 
we got ghmpses of clear sky and the sun shining overhead, whilst, 
except at rare moments, all beneath us was shrouded in driving 

1 This snake, according to Low, bears also the native name " Ularledong." 

y Google 



The mountain is entirely formed of sandstone. As we pro- 
gressed upwards we found the trees growing smaller. On the sum- 
mit they were reduced to mere bushes by the action of the winds, 
and on account of the thin layer of soil for their roots. But mosses 
and Jungermannias flourished, and covered the ground, stones, 
and tree-trunks alike with a soft damp carpet. I did not, howe\er, 
find any sphagnum, which I had seen on the other mountains I had 
climbed. JIany beautiful butterflies passed over my head, flutter- 
ing above the abyss, which looked more :iwe-inspiring from the mist 

V'4' ■ii^..:''M' 


which hid its depths. There were only a few plants in blossom, 
but I succeeded in finding three species of rhododendron, and one 
little orchid, a Corysanthes, a true mountain gem, was abundant 
amongst the mosses. It is only a few inches high, but its relatively 
large sohtary flowers, of a lovely violet, were like amethysts strewn 
on a bed of emeralds. 

The flora of Tiang Laju appeared to me to be less rich than that 

of other mountains nearer the sea. I recognised by the foliage 

several species which, it is true, I had not met elsewhere, but I had 

decided never to collect any specimens that were not in a condition 




to be identified, and only rarely did I presen'e plants that had not 
their flowers or their fruits. I noticed, however, the absence of 
many species which I had always met with in the forest near the 
coast. Thus I only saw two Dipterocarps and a single Quercus, 
plants easily recognisable by their leaves. 

On the summit the thermometer, in the shade of the bushes, 
marked 77° Fahr., and my aneroid 686 milhm. From these data 
I made the height of the mountain to be about 3,267 feet. I waited 
in vain for the mist to clear, but was at lengtli obliged to retrace my 
steps to the lanko, which I did slowly, collecting plants by the way. 

It was near sunset, and the cicadas, here of several species and 
extraordinarily numerous, simply deafened us with their piercing 
and discordant stridulations, it being at this hour that they com- 
mence their love songs. 

We cooked our rice, Dyak fashion, in long internodes of bamboo, 
and then turned in to get some sleep. It rained the whole night 
through. In many things I took kindly to the ways and habits of 
the Dyaks, but on a bed of bark I could not, as they do, find peace- 
ful repose. Stiff and tortured on one side I turned over on the 
other, and repeated this operation a dozen times before morning, 

y Google 


catching snatches of sleep only in the intervals. During my many 
wakeful moments I had glimpses of the forest all alight with phos- 
phorescence. Every object which lay on the ground was luminous : 
fallen leaves, rotting branches, and prostrate trunks. The night, 
nevertheless, appeared interminable, and it seemed to me that day- 
light would never come. The sun was certainly above the horizon ; 
but a dim twihght still prevailed, with a thin dense rain, after which 
the mist rose. The temperature was 68° Fahr. Wishing to chmb 
to the summit again in order to get a view of the surrounding country, 
I waited till noon, hoping that the weather would clear. Mean- 
while I passed the time in Hstening to the Dyaks, who were relating 
to each other dreams of the previous night. As I have already 
remarked, the tops of mountains are for them places of terror, awe, 
and mystery— the abode of spirits. To dream of a benevolent deity 
is a most fortunate occurrence, which the Dyaks would often seek 
by sleeping on the top of mountains ; but this is an act which in 
their opinion calls for such audacity and cool courage, that few 
indeed are bold enough to overcome their terrors and attempt it. 
My guide told me that he once passed three consecutive nights on 
the top of TiangLaju,but no good-omened dream came to recom- 
pense his bravery. 

As the weather showed no signs of improvement, I returned 
to Ruma Pranghi, and without stopping continued my march 
to Marop, which I reached in two and a half hours of rapid 

Throughout the latter half of April it continued to rain at Marop, 
but I did not give up my daily excursions in the forest, and con- 
tinued to find interesting novelties. During one of these excursions 
I came across a Upas tree [Aniiaris toxicaria), which was not wild, 
but had been planted by Dyaks. This is another forest species 
utihsed by man which will probably in time disappear altogether 
as a wild tree. At Banting, also, I had noticed several large speci- 
mens of the Upas growing amidst fruit trees. The Dyaks here do 
not extract poison from this tree, but obtain a kind of cloth from 
its bark, with which they make their clothes for daily use, such as 
the "jawat," when they cannot buy imported stuffs. Even the 
blankets with which they cover themselves at night are often made 
of Upas bark doth. This is prepared by beating the bark until 
the woody cortical portion is removed, leaving only the felted, thin, 
and pliable fibres forming the inner bark or iibrum. Other plants 
of the same family to which the Upas tree belongs (Artocarpece) are 
similarly utilised for making cloth. 

One day, on a hill, I found the ground dug up pretty deeply in 
several places. Pagni, my Dyak boy, who was with me at the time, 
said it was certainly the work of a " Bruan," the Malayan bear, 
searching for ants, of which it is very fond. 


y Google 


Very rarely had I succeeded in finding the nests of birds in the 
forest, where usually they are placed so high up on the trees or are 
so well hidden that it is most difficult to get them. I once found 
the nest of Pitta granatina, one of the most beautiful of Bornean 
birds, the eggs of which had not, I believe, been previously known. 
The nest was on the ground in a Maranta thicket, near a streamlet, 
in the denser part of the jungle ; it was formed of dry leaves, and 
only contained two eggs. The bird slipped off when I was close to 
its nest; but although I did. not obtain it, I am quite sure that I 
identified the species aright. 

The Dyaks used to bring me rare and curious aninicds, though not 
as often as I should have expected and wished. One day they brought 
me a small owl, with which I was greatly delighted, for nocturnal 
birds are scarce in Borneo. What is the reason of this I wonder ? 
Another day it was a very fine pheasant (Euplocamus nobilis), 
a hen bird, which is devoid of the brilliant dress of its mate. The 
eye, however, is magnificent, with rosy carmine iris, and the naked 
skin around of a clear amethyst. 

I also bought a live bear — a yotmgster, and very tame. It was 
comic in its habits, and would sit by the hour sucking its paw and 
grunting, and never seeking to get away, although perfectly free. 
It took kindly to boiled rice. The Dyaks assert that they are 
acquainted with two species of bear. The one they had brought me, 
the commonest, is entirely black, with a yellow semicircular mark 
on the chest and short hair ; the other, a rarer kind, has long fur, 
no mark on the chest, and reddish hairs on the sides of the face ; 
the latter they call " Bruan rambei."^ In Sarawak I had also 
heard of a third species called " Bruan bulan," i.e. " Moon-bear," 
entirely black, with a light semilunar patch on the head and not on 
the chest. 

I went to collect some wild bananas which I had remarked 
growing abundantly along a httle stream on a hill not far from the 
Kunsi's house, in deared spots which had been formerly cultivated. 
I found three distinct and very characteristic species, but from what 
I learnt two more, which I have not seen, are known to the Dyaks. 
A fact of no little interest is this existence of no less than three 
species of Musa, apparently endemic, growing together promis- 
cuously in a restricted area, never found in the primeval forest, nay, 
actually dependent on its destruction for their own existence. 
I caimot now explain the series of considerations which have led 
me to the hypothesis that such species of M^lsa are the product of 
a retrocession to the wild state of hybrid cultivated forms, believing 
that it is man who has prepared for them a convenient environment 

' " Rambei " is perhaps derived from rambtil, hair, and is the adjective 
by whicli the Malays distinguish long-haired animals. 

y Google 


for development, and who has contributed largely to their specific, 

A curious new Zingiberaceous plant deserves special notice 
among my Marop novelties, Alpinia crocidocalyx, recently described 
and named by K. Schumann from my specimens. It is called 
goppak by the Malays, and produces large, long, compact radical 
spikes, in which the flowers are hidden by a sort of putrescent shme, 
It is, indeed, the nastiest flower which I have ever seen ; though it be- 
longs to a genus of plants which includes many species with splendid 
corollas wrapped in bracts, which are also brightly coloured. Tn the 
above-mentioned species the bracts instead have become converted 
into a pale mucilaginous shme, in which an enormous number of 
Coleoptera seek refuge. These I easily captured by putting the 
whole inflorescence in water, and obhging the little creatures to 
emerge from their retreat. The inner part of the shoots of this plant 
can be eaten cooked, and I have found it very agreeable but shghtly 
acid in taste. The Dyaks make excellent mats with the very fine 
fibres they extract from the leaf-stalks of the plant. 

One morning, Kisoi,my Chinese cook, who had gone fishing in 
the adjoining stream, brought home amongst other fish a species 
called by the Malays " Ikan Hon." When I saw it, it had been got 
ready for the pan ; but I noticed quite a number of small ones of the 
same kind, and these Kisoi told me he had taJien living from the 
mouth of the big one. The Malays, who are so well acquainted \vith 
the ways and habits of the animals of their country, assured me that 
the young of the " Ikan tion " always swim close to the mother, 
and at the approach of danger, and during the night, seek refuge 
in her mouth. The fish is, I think, a Siluroid of the genus 

On the whole, I was not very fortunate with my entomological ■ 
collections at Marop. Coleoptera were rather scarce, perhaps 
because there had not been much recent tree-cutting in the neigh- 
bourhood; decaying wood was consequently not abundant. I had, 
however, obtained a small series of splendid butterflies. But, alas ! 
one day, just after my return from Tiang Laju, I discovered that a 
host of minute ants had got into the box in which I had put them, 
and had practically destroyed the lot. 

Amongst the ants at Marop there were some species which had 
unusual means of protection. Ants may be animals which are 
sometimes useful, but it appears that from time immemorial they 
have had many enemies, which fact has obliged them to make use 

> In the Sarawak Gazette, July i6, 1875, it is asserted that wild bananas 
grow abundantly on the banks of the Baloi after the rice is cut, and that 
they thrive for five or six years, disappearing when the forest begins to grow 

y Google 


of all possible means of protection and defence.^ One kind, a very 
large one, which I found on the ground, when touched covered 
itself with a white froth which issued in quantities from its sharp- 
pointed abdomen. Another, which lived on the leaves of an oak, 
gave off a very strong odour of pepper. Yet another species, well 
known to the natives by the name of " Sumut samada" and very 
abundcint at Marop, is possessed of a powerful defence in the shape 
of a sting like that of awasp. It is quite black, of an elongated form, 
and the stings it inflicts are very painful. As it lives on the ground 
and is gregarious, woe betide the unfortunate person who camps in 
its vicinity ; he must decamp at once ! But the most ferocious of 
all is the " Sumut tinggal-'pala " (" the ant which leaves its head "), 
so called by the natives on account of the ferocity with which it 
bites, leaving its head attached to the object it has seized with its 
jaws sooner than let go. I once found this species in possession of 
a Myrtacea in blossom in such numbers that none of my men dared 
to climb the tree, and as I had no axes with me to cut it down, I 
had to leave it without getting specimens ; so that actually on 
account of this ant the plant is not represented in my herbarium. 

There is, again, the very common " Sumut kassa," or red ant 
{(Ecophylla smaragdina), found everywhere in the jungle of secondary 
growth, where it makes huge nests, binding together dead leaves by 
filaments like strong spiders' web. These are found at about a 
man's height from the ground on shrubs and in bushes. It is one 
of the greatest pests one meets with in the forest, where it is 
found, for its bite causes a burning pain — happily not of long 
duration — on account of the formic acid it instils into the wound. 
More than once I have inadvertently disturbed one of the nests of 
this ant, and in a second have had all the inmates running over 
me, getting down my neck and up my sleeves, and fiercely 
attacking my naked skin in all directions, so that to free myself 
from them I have been obUged to strip entirely. 

The Dyaks eat this ant, or rather they mix it with their rice as 
a condiment. It has a pungent acetic taste and smell which they 
evidently hke. The Tuan Muda told me that a Mayas he had 
kept in captivity was very fond of these ants. 

The manner in which the (Ecophylla smaragdina procures the 
threads which it uses to join the leaves forming its nest is so extra- 
ordinary, that it would scarcely be thought possible had it not been 
perfectly verified by the observations of thoroughly credible eye- 
witnesses (cf, D. Sharp; Insects, pt. ii. p. 147), The adults of this 

^ The ants collected by Doiia and myseli in Sarawak have all been 
described by Dr. Mayr in the AnncUi del Museo Civico di Geneva, vol. ii. 
p. 133, 1872 ; but my notes on eacb species have not been quoted, and 
therefore I cannot give the scientific names of the species mentioned in the 

161 M 

y Google 


species, which is widely spread in Southern Asia and Malaysia, 
not possessing any substance that could be used to bind together 
the leaves required to form their nest, have found the way of utilising 
for that purpose a kind of silk which their own larvEe secrete for 
making the small cocoon in which they shut themselves up for 
undergoing their final metamorphosis. To effect this several adult 
(Ecophylla hold in their mandibles one of the larvae, and obhge it 
to drop from its mouth on the edge of the leaf, kept in the required 
position by other ants of the same family, the coveted gelatinous 
thread. Thus the silken filaments which ought to serve the larvae 
for making their own cocoons are used by the adults of the colony 
for tying together the materials for building the house of the com- 
munity, precisely as we might act ourselves towards a mature silk- 
worm or spider, holding it between the fingers and obliging it to 
emit the silky thread wherever we desire it to be. Few examples 
reveal the high intelligence of the ants more strikingly than this. 

At Marop I found several species of honey-producing Hymenop- 
tera {Trigona} abundant. They are like very small bees, but unpro- 
vided with a sting, and make their nests with a sort of resin under- 
ground. Their Malay name is Clulut. One day I set patiently to 
work to dig out one of these nests belonging to Trigona apicaUs. 
Its entrance was a small cyhndrical canal about the size of my little 
finger, which penetrated the ground amidst the roots of a dead tree, 
projecting about three or four inches from the soil.^ The canal 
led into a subterranean cavity about six inches in diameter, com- 
municating with several irregular chambers all formed of resin. 
From the central chamber ramifications extended, supporting a large 
number of pyriform or spheroidal soft waxy cells, which contained 
the larvEe. These cells, which filled the entire cavity, were loosely 
connected together, and attached to the walls of the ramified cham- 
bers like the berries in a bunch of grapes. They appeared to me to 
be of two kinds, some darker than the others. Some only contained 
sour honey: in others were the larvje. In this nest the best honey 
was nearly used up, and I imagine that it must have been stored 
in big ceUs of a special kind in the secondary chambers. A few of 
such cells, in fact, remained. They measured about half an inch in 
diameter, and were irregularly grouped together, and fixed to the 
sides of the chamber by a common peduncle. The honey they 
contained was clear, hquid, and slightly sour. Notwithstanding all 
my care, the nest broke in digging it out, which prevented a more 
complete investigation. 

The nineteenth of April was a very hot day. The ther- 
mometer in the sun rose to 130° Fahr., and on the following day 
we had incessant rain. On the twenty-eighth of April, Atzon, 
' In some nests this canal, which is a tube entirely formed of resin, is 
twice as long in its external projecting portion. 

y Google 


the Chinaman who had brought me the big Mayas 'Tjap- 
irig, and with whom my dollars had more power than the 
threats of the Kunsi, brought me a magnificent head of an 
orang-utan which he assured me was that of a female Mayas 
Tj aping, but it differed considerably from that of the male, 
having only shght vestiges of the lateral face-expansions which are 
so characteristic of the bigger species of these anthropoids. It 
was, however, somewhat different from any of the Mayas Kassa I 
had yet seen, not only in its much greater size, but also in the large 
development of the temporal muscles and their insertion near the 
middle line of the skull, which, nevertheless, appeared devoid of any 
sagittal crest. I preserved this head with all its soft parts in a 
strong solution of spirits and salt. It is one of the most interesting 
specimens of the series of orang-utans which I sent to the Museo 
Civico at Genoa, where it is still intact (Figs. 31, 32).^ The body to 
which this head belonged had been left in the jungle, for it was 
mauled and spoilt, but had the hour not been so late and the spot 
so far distant, 1 should certainly have gone there to verify the 
sex. Next day it would have been useless, for during the night the 
wild pigs would certainly have devoured it. I must say that I 
had not entire faith in Atzon's assertion regarding the sex of the 
specimen, for I had backed my strong recommendations regarding 
his getting me a female of the Mayas Tjaping with the offer of 
a good reward, and he was thus directly interested in bringing me 
one, or a specimen which might pass muster as such. On the very 
same day Atzon had come across a very big male Mayas Tjaping, 
and had fired several shots at it and wounded it ; but it had sought 
refuge on a large tree, where, in a high fork, it had formed a nest 
from which Atzon did not succeed in dislodging it. Big Mayas 
seldom fall, unless mortally wounded in the first instance by a bullet 
in the heart or head. I had, however, given special instructions 
not to aim at the head in order not to injure the skull. 

Atzon having proposed to take me to a place where, according 
to his account, I was sure to meet with Mayas, I started on 
April 29th for the projected hunt. I arranged with him and a friend 
of his that they should each of them receive one dollar per diem, if 
their assertion turned out true, and only two rupees if we saw no 
orangs. I took with me rice for four days, a few boxes of sardines, 
a notebook, measure, scalpels, quinine, and a few other necessaries, 
besides my gun and ammunition. A Dyak carried all my traps, 

1 I wish here to thank Mr. G. B. Traverse, of Genoa, for having kindly 
taken for me the photographs reproduced in the Figs. 31 and 32 ; but more 
specially do I express my deep gratitude to my old friend, Professor R. Gestro, 
for the kind courtesy with which he has always satisfied my queries and 
furnished me with information on the animals preserved in the Museo 
Civico at Genoa, of which he is the Vice-Director. 

y Google 


and his own into the bargain, I took with me, also, several of my 
Malay boys. 

We left Marop at 7 a.m., and towards half-past eight reached the 
Dyak village of Rnma N'gon ; ' where I was obliged to stop a few 
minutes in order not to disoblige the good villagers whose acquaint- 
ance I had already made and who called out lustily, " Dudok-dudok ! " 
(" Please, come in "). We then began the ascent of the hill to the 
right of the path I had followed on my way to Tiang Laju. I had 
decided to hurry on without stopping to look for plants ; but I should 
indeed have been a poor botanist had I not made an exception of 
two vegetable curiosities which I met on the way. One was a 
Cordyceps, an extraordinary small clavate fungus, of a vivid red, 
which grew on the head of a big black ant lying dead. The other 
was that strange fungus-like parasite, Balanophora refiexa, which 
I had already found on Gunong Wa, on the Upper Sarawak river. 
But here it showed itself under a new aspect, for not only was it 
parasitically growing on the roots of the shrub it had attacked, but 
it had invaded the base of the trunk all round for about four inches 
above the level of the ground, projecting from beneath the bark. 
The species is deciduous, producing the flowers of each sex on separate 
individuals ; but all those I found on this spot belonged to one sex. 
It was this very circumstance that led me to suspect the existence 
of an internal organic connection between separate individuals, so 
that one of these parasites, having taken root on a host, could 
produce others around it on the same plant, not by seeds or shoots, 
but by special ramifications within the tissues of its host.^ 

Leaving Tiang Laju on our left, we got on the ridge formed by a 
series of hills from which flow the waters which join to form the 
Undup. We had now been se\'eral hours on the road, and had 
reached the district where, according to my guides, Mayas were 
to be met with. But although I kept a good look-out none could I 
see. It was near eleven o'clock when Atzon directed my attention 
to something moving on a big tree. Looking intently, I at last made 
out something like red hair amidst the dense fohage. There could 
be no longer any doubt — it was an orang recumbent on its nest. 
The creature was evidently aware that it had been discovered, and 
yet it showed no fear, nor did it attempt to fly. On the contrary, 
it got up and looked down at us, and then descended lower amidst 
the branches, as if it wished to get a better view of us, holding on to 
the ropes of a creeper which hung from the branch on which it was 
at first squatting. When I moved to take aim with my gun, it 
hauled itself up again, and got back into its nest, pushing forward its 

1 " Ruma " means " house " in Malay ; " N'gon " was the name of the 
chief who hved there, 

* Cf. my memoir on the subject in Nuovo Giornale Bolanico Ilaliano, 
vol. i. (1869), p. 65, tav. iii. iv. Fireme. 

y Google 


head to look at me as it held on to the branches above with its hands. 
It was in this position when I fired. I saw at once that I had wounded 
it severely, for it threw itself back into the nest bellowing loudly. 
At this moment in the midst of the branches I caught sight of a second 
orang on another nest. Although I could not see it well, I fired ; the 
explosion frightened it, and it left its nest and climbed towards that 
of its wounded companion, whose lamentations were painful to hear. 
As soon as it caught sight of it, it fled as if frightened, and hid so 
well amongst the branches that I saw it no more. It was a youngster, 
possibly the offspring of the one I had shot. 

I was thinking of having the tree cut down to get the wounded 
orang, when to my surprise it got up, endeavouring to escape, and 
a second bullet brought it to the ground. It was an adult female 
Mayas Kassa, but was so badly injured in the forehead by my two 
shots that it was not worth preserving. The tree on which it had 
built its nest was a species of wild mango, ^ on whose as yet unripe 
frmts it had evidently been feeding. 

This incident with the Mayas had kept us about an hour. We 
proceeded on our journey, and in another half hour arrived at 
Lanko Labok, a temporary Dyak station where they meet when out 
hunting or searching for forest produce. The lanko, or rude hut. 
was deserted and in bad condition, but it was in lovely surroundings, 
being admirably situated just at the end of the succession of hiUs , 
over which we had been travelling all the morning. After a frugal 
repast consisting of rice and sardines, and a couple of hours' rest, 
I sallied out again with my gun, accompanied by Atzon, and took a 
turn in the forest. This was here singularly grand, formed of 
colossal trees, among which it would have been delightful to wander 
had it not been for the land leeches, which swarmed in myriads 
amongst the damp fallen leaves, always ready to attach themselves 
to our legs. As it was, when I got back in the evening to the lanko, 
I removed some two dozen of these horrible creatures from my feet, 
enormously gorged and distended with my blood. Yet I had taken 
the precaution before starting to tie the lower end of my trousers 
tightly round my shoes, but in vain, for when fasting the leeches are 
as thin as needles, and penetrate even cloth. Gaiters are also useless 
to keep them out. After having begun so well we hoped for a 
continuation of our good luck ; but though we wandered about till 
dusk we did not meet a single animal, and were compelled to return 
empty-handed to camp. We had our evening meal, as frugal as 
the noonday one, and retired to get what rest we could on our bark 
couches in the lanko. 

1 A Mangifera which the Malays have named " Bua kalamantian," and 
the very tree which, according to some authors, has given its native name 
to the island of Borneo, 


y Google 


Next morning we were up before daylight, and cooked our rice 
for the day, wishing to waste no time later on over that operation. 
At dawn, bellowings had been heard far off in the forest, and Atzon 
assured me that they were produced by Mayas. We started 
before sunrise, and descended the hill on the slope towards the 
Undup, stumbhng at every step, for it was not easy to keep looking 
straight up into the air above one's head, and at the same time note 
where one had to step. We soon reached a stream called Sungei 
Pajang. The forest hereto an inexperienced eye, would have had 
the characters of a primeval one ; but it was largely formed of mag- 
nificent durians and other fruit-bearing trees. Had we not known 
from our guides that in this spot had once stood a village of the 
Undup Dyaks, we might have thought we had discovered the Durio 
zibetinus growing wild. I also noticed several tall tapangs loaded 
with nests of the honey bee. 

Crossing several low hills, we came to another stream, the 
Sungei Pakit, which we followed for a while. Even here the forest 
was not a primeval one, but from its wild aspect must have been 
for years abandoned. The muddy ground showed everywhere 
the tracks of wild boar and deer. Traces of the presence of wild 
oxen [Bos banteng) were also to be seen in the mud adherent to 
some tree trunks at a man's height from the ground, where these 
animals had rubbed themselves clean. Atzon told me that although 
for about ten years he had frequently visited this forest, only twice 
had he met with the banteng. He had, however, shot the wild 
dog, " Anjinutan " (Cyan rutilans), which I had as yet been unable 
to meet with, hving or dead. We had been five hours on the tramp 
without seeing a single beast. Wishing to return to Lanko Labok 
by a different route, we went round the hill which we had come down 
to ascend it on the other side. We soon found ourselves in an old 
forest in which the Mayas nests abundantly ; some looked, indeed, 
as if they had just been made. The orangs could not be very far 
off, yet no sound or movement betrayed their presence. At last, 
however, I perceived something reddish moving on the top of a big 
tree. I fired at once almost at random, and, to my surprise, a very 
small Mayas fell to the ground nearly at my feet. Immediately 
after, a second one, of much larger size, appeared, and climbed up the 
very same tree. It was soon hidden amongst the branches, and 
although I fired twice when I caught glimpses of the creature, yet 
both shots missed. Presently we saw him higher up on a big branch, 
looking down at us. This time my bullet took effect, and the animal 
fell, mortally wounded. 

The small orang first killed was a male ; the second, an adult 

female of medium size, probably its mother. Its hair was longer 

than in any I had had before, and my Dyaks assured me that it was 

a Mayas Rambei. I was, therefore, anxious to preserve both speci- 


y Google 


mens, and with the help of Atzon and my boys I soon skinned the 
two, and roughly deaned the bones of the larger specimen ; of the 
small one, besides the skin, I only kept the skull. In two hours' 
work we had completed our task, so that one man was able to carry 
all the spoil. The female was pregnant, and I carefully preserved 
the foetus. There was no water near, and I was obhged to wash my 
hands with that I got by cutting through the stems of the 
creepers, which were very abundant on the spot. 

It now began to rain, but happily soon stopped. The road we 
had intended to take was very steep, and having more to carry we 
thought it wiser to return by the way we came. We went back, 
therefore, to the Sungei Pakit, on whose banks we breakfasted with 
the cooked rice we had brought with us. It did not take long, and 
we were soon on our way again. 

As we were passing again through the big durian trees, we sud- 
denly caught sight of a Mayas quite close to us on some low 
trees. I aimed at him and pulled the trigger, but both barrels hung 
fire. My gun was aji excellent Westley-Richards, but of the old 
muzzle-loading kind, and evidently the rain had got under the caps 
on the nipples. As I renewed the caps my men kept the big ape in 
view ; but it did not go very far, for orangs are not afraid of man, 
and when I was ready it was climbing up the trunk of a large durian. 
My first shot appeared to take effect in its leg ; it stopped climbing, 
and passed on to a smaller durian. Here, when it was well in view, I 
fired again, bringing it to a standstill. Just as I fired, a small orang 
appeared, but bolted into the foliage, where I lost sight of it, for my 
men directed my attention to a huge Mayas on the very top of the 
highest durian, where it was much hidden by the branches. I fired, 
several shots, if only to drive him out, but could not say that I had hit 
him. The tree was more that 150 feet high, and I was unfavourably 
placed at its base, having to fire vertically, with the rain, which had 
begun to fall again, coming straight into ray eyes. As this was 
going on I perceived another big orang on a branch of the same tree, 
I got my men to keep the rain off, and reloaded my gun ; but mean- 
while both animals got on to their nests, and I could see them no 
longer. Had 1 had time I should certainly have got both of them ; 
but it was getting late, and we had to look after the first one I had 
wounded, and which had not been seen to move from the small 
durian. I had the tree cut down, but, to oursurprise, we could not 
find the creature amongst the branches, though I knew that it could 
not possibly have escaped. My men were grumbhng to get away, 
Atzon had an attack of fever coming on, and the rain was falUng 
in deluges. Yet I was not going to lose my specimen, and made them 
hack away the branches, with axe and parang, one by one, till at last 
we found the Mayas, quite dead, huddled up in the very centre of 
the boughs. The day was waning, and we were still a good distance 

y Google 


from the lanko. There was thus no time to skin the ape, and I 
therefore had to content myself with its head, which I had cut off. 
The creature was a large male, perfectly adult, with the physiognomy 
of the Mayas Kassa, but with longer hair ; in shape and propor- 
tions it resembled the Mayas Tjaping, but had no cheek-expan- 
sions. The head was more like that of the large female which 
Atzon had brought me a few days before, and which I had preserved 
in spirits. 

We resumed our march once more, not expecting, indeed, to meet 
with any more orangs, of which we had seen so many. But at a 
short distance from the lanko we came upon two more. I caught 
sight of the first quite near on a small tree. I fired twice, but did not 
succeed in killing it. As I was reloading, the second Mayas suddenly 
appeared, not twenty paces from where I stood, and only about 
fifteen feet from the ground. It was moving rapidly, catching the 
branches in front with one hand as it let go behind those it held 
with the foot, and alternating thus with hands and feet. The jungle 
was young and very thick, with dense underwood, so that when I 
had finished reloading my gun both orangs had disappeared, even 
the first one, which I felt sure I had hit. But " Kap," a small dog I 
had with me, had followed the latter, and enabled me to come up 
with it. As I did so the huge beast turned, and it fell dead to a bullet 
in the chest. It was a female of large size with very long hair, and 
I should particularly have liked the skin, but I had to abandon both 
it and the skeleton, and content myself with the head alone. 

It was quite dark when we reached the lanko, loaded with 
orang-utans, drenched to the skin, completely tired out, and 

Wishing to preserve the spoils we had secured, it was quite im- 
possible to continue to hunt for Mayas. So early next morning. 
May 1st, I returned to Marop, which we reached at noon. Our speci- 
mens were happily in good condition, and even the foetus had not 
suffered. The better to preserve the latter I had kept it under 
cool running water near the lanko during the night. As soon as I 
reached the Kunsi's house I placed it in spirits. The skins and heads 
were also packed as soon as possible in jars containing a strong 
solution of salt in alcohol. 

The first week in May was employed in finishing the drying 
process of the Mayas' skins, in arranging and making a catalogue 
of my collections, and in completing the preparations for my trip 
to the Kapuas lakes. 

y Google 


Start for the Kapuas Lakes — Dyak Gallantry — Ok the River Kantu 
— Native Tobacco Manufacture — Carding and Spinning Cotton — 
Brass Workers— Curious Fishery — Rains and Floods — Trial by 
Water — Ancient Jars— :Flooded-out Insects— Down the Kantu 
again — Navigation in the Forest^In the Umpanang — Strange 
Fishes— Black Water — On the Lakes — The Formation of Coal 
IN Borneo — On the Lampei Hill — Lake Plants — Hungry Dogs — 
Journey Back— Botanical Results of the Excursion — Dyak 
Names — Freshwater Alg^ — Orchard Herbs at Marop^Good 
Cattle Food. 

ON the seventh of May I had decided to start at early mom 
for the Kapuas lake, but the rain came down in torrents. 
If one wants to travel in Borneo one must not mind rain, but it 
is unpleasant to make a start under such conditions, and especially 
for the botanist, who is obliged to carry loads of paper for pre- 
serving plants, and, what is more, must keep it dry. About noon 
the sun came out, and although the weather was far from being 
settled I made up my mind to be off. 

I had with me a party of ten men — two Malays, one Chinaman 
(the cook), and seven Dyaks to carry the luggage, which was rather 
heavy owing to the botanical paper. I had not been able to engage 
any more men at Marop, and accordingly my men had heavy loads, 
and we got along rather slowly. We had several times to cross the 
Marop stream, whose waters were now full and deep. Near Kumpang 
the rain, which had "been threatening for some time, began to fall 
again with the usual tropical violence. I had already been in this 
neighbourhood, during one of my excursions from Marop, to visit 
the gold washings, which I had been told the Chinese had re- 
newed. At Kumpang the precious metal is found in the alluvium 
which forms the low hills on the slopes of TiangLaju, The surface 
layer for the thickness of some three feet is clay and earth ; then 
comes a stratum of big pebbles and rounded boulders, evidently rolled 
and water-worn, in a matrix of bluish clay. It is in washing this 
clay that gold is met with, either in the shape of nuggets or in large 

We proceeded rapidly, not meeting with anything interesting 
except a Nepenthes belonging to a species which I had not yet got. 
But I have invariably avoided collecting specimens at the beginning 
of an excirrsion — not always a good rule, perhaps, as will be seen in 
the sequel— and so I merely marked the place, intending to take 

y Google 


the plant on our return. Our route obliged us to cross the Selle, 
an atHuent of the Kumpang stream, more than once. In its bed I 
noticed several hmestone pebbles, though all the rocks in the vicinity 
were sandstone. It is therefore probable that in the neighbourhood 
there are limestone hills like those along the Sarawak river. We 
came afterwards to the Kumpang. which we forded not without 
difficulty, for it was both deep and rapid. We were now close to 
Ruma Udjan, a Dyak house-village, which we could have reached 
in a quarter of an hour by crossing the impetuous Kumpang twice 
more ; but after the experience we had just had I preferred making 
a long detour to running the risk of wetting the provisions and my 
botanic paper. The Orang Tua of Udjan did all he could to persuade 
me to sleep at his house ; but it was too early to think of halting, 
so I gave orders to proceed. We also passed the village of Plagnet 
without stopping, and staved for the night at Benda, farther on. 

At Benda I was able to engage three more Dyaks as carriers, 
and thus to Hghten the loads of ray men. The weather was fine on 
the morning of the eighth of May, and we started early. Up to the 
present we had travelled through recent jungle; butashort distance 
from Benda we entered old forest, through which we proceeded for 
two hours. When the forest ceases one may be sure that villages are 
not far off; and in this case we soon reached that of Ruma Lassom, 
perched on a hill, and a short distance farther on came to Ruma 
Kuda, followed in succession by Ruma Mrassan, Massam, Mindjor, 
and Unggam, all close together ; the last mentioned being near the 
Mullangan, a stream which flows from the mountains forming the 
watershed between the basin of the Batang Lupar and that of the 
Pontianak or Kapuas. 

My Dyaks wished to camp here for the night, but we had 
only marched five hours, which seemed to me not enoirgh. I was, 
however, obhged to accede to their request. They complained that 
their loads were heavy, and asserted that it would not be possible 
to reach Kantu that night, the only place where sleeping quarters 
could be got after Ruma Unggam, and Kantu could easily be reached 
on the following day. 

The true reason of their wishing to stop it needed no great acumen 
to discover when several good looking and lively girls appeared, and I 
learnt that my young Dyaks had often been there before. In the end, 
however, I had reason to be glad that I had gi'anted their wish, 
for had we proceeded we should certainly have been obhged to sleep 
in the jungle, and that night there was a tremendous storm, in which 
a hastily built lanko would indeed have been a poor shelter, and we 
should have been drenched. 

Ruma Unggam, one of the usual big Dyak house- villages, had been 
recently built and was very dean. As it may be taken as a type of 
such Dyak dwellings in these parts I may as well describe it. 

y Google 


The building was entirely constructed of rough timber and other 
forest products, on piles about ten feet high, and not a single nail 
had been used in it. It was much longer than it was wide, with a 
span roof of ataps made with palm leaves. It was longitudinally 
divided into two principal parts. One, the back one, was again 
subdivided, in the usual Dyak fashion, into chambers or " 'pintiis,'' 
as they are called. The word piniu, both in Malay and Dyak. means 
a door ; but in this case it signifies an apartment occupied bv the 
head of a family. These pintus do not communicate with each other, 
but each has a door which opens on to the front comp;irtment of 
the house, and has a Icssong, or wooden mortar for --helling rice, 


standing close to it. This front half of the house has no sides, but 
tfie large projecting roof protects it from the weather. It is sub- 
divided longitudinally into three portions of unequal width ; the 
first and narrowest is that on which the doors of the pintus open, 
and may be styled a corridor for these. The second portion is the 
widest, often taking up one half of the total width of the house ; 
it is the common hall and workroom for each member of the com- 
munity. Outside this is the third portion, over which the roof is 
very low, and here the young unmarried men sleep. Quite outside, 
unprotected by any roof, is a sort of wide terrace or platform, used 
for \'arious purposes, but especially for drying rice. 

y Google 


Very few of the inhabitants of Ruma Unggam had seen a white 
man before, and certainly none of the women and children. On my 
first appearance these fled ; but, hearing the laughter of my carriers, 
they became ashamed of their fears, and allowed me to approach. 
Having asked the women the reason of their fright, they answered 
me at once that it was because I was like a Mayas on account of 
my long beard, and for a time they continued to eye me with an 
expression of mingled fear and curiosity. Some of the less timid 
told me that they could not possibly like me unless I cut off my 
beard. In addition to the usual questions with which I was 
accustomed to be assailed, many were asked me here concerning the 
hairiness of whites. The women were particularly anxious to know 
whether their European sisters also grew beards. 

My carriers were a merry set of youngsters, who came with me on 
this trip to the lakes by no means unwillingly, for they considered 
it as a good opportunity for some love adventure. Some of them had, 
indeed, confided to me their love stratagems, and the art of court- 
ship among the Dyaks. Certain leaves or flowers tucked in their 
armlets, or placed amidst the folds of their head-cloth in particular 
positions ; a certain manner of playing the roden or Jew's harp, 
which the Dyak gallant is never without ; are the means of secret 
understandings between lovers. I very soon perceived that this 
language of love was easily understood by the interested parties. 
The girls invariably sleep in their pintus, and shut themselves in. 
But the amorous swains keep an eye on them ; and when they see 
where they have gone, and have made sure that they are aione, they 
approach the door uuder cover of the darkness, and imitate the 
plaintive mewings of a cat desirous of being let in, and the girl, 
taking pity on the repeated laments of her lover, eventually opens 
the door. 

During the night rain fell incessantly, and next morning it was 
still falling. It ceased towards nine o'clock, however, and we 
then continued our journey. We climbed the hills forming the 
frontier between Sarawak and the Dutch territory — the water- 
shed of the basins of the Bafang Lupar and the Pontianak. The 
pass here is only about 1,450 feet in altitude. The path is on nearly 
level ground, and traverses a fine old forest, where walking is easy, 
but, as always in such places, swarms with myriads of leeches. I 
noticed various fallen fruits on the ground belonging to species I 
had not met with before ; but I did not see a single plant in blossom, 
shrub or herb, that I could reach with the hands. 

When we reached the Sungei Kantu, the stream which collects, 
on the Dutch side, the waters of the hills we had descended, we 
found it so swollen by the recent rains and so deep and rapid that 
it was quite impossible to ford it. We were thus obliged to con- 
struct a bridge, but with a dozen of wilhng Dyaks this was not a 

y Google 

y Google 


serious matter. A tree growing in a suitable position and of proper 
size was selected, and it was soon cut down in such a manner as to 
fall across the stream. This took us about an hour, and we were 
soon across, I was going to say, dry shod, but the traveller in Borneo 
seJdoms find himself in this condition. Farther on we had again 
to cross the Kantu in order to avoid a long round ; but here the 
water was less deep, and by holding on together in a chain we 
managed to ford it in safety. The current, however, was very 
rapid, and I certainly should have lost my footing had I not been 
supported by my Dyaks. After this crossing we followed the 
right bank of the stream, our path being smooth and well shaded 
by old forest, which only ceased when we approached the village 
of Kantu, where we arrived early in the afternoon. 

The Dyak house-village of Kantu was the finest which I had yet 
seen in Borneo ; liner than Ruma Unggam, but built in the same 
style. Its length was loo-paces, it was on very high piles, and the 
covered front divisions were so lofty that one could walk beneath 
without having to stoop, as is usually the case in Dyak houses. 

The women here were engaged in preparing cotton and to- 
bacco. The leaves of the latter while still green are laid together 
in bundles and cut up in very fine shreds pre\ious to being dried 
in the sun. They undergo no prehminary preparation and are not 
fermented, so that the Dyak tobacco is very mild and has little 

The Dyak women separate the cotton from the seed with an 
apparatus they call " Pennigi." This consists of two wooden cylin- 
ders fixed close together in a frame so as to revolve on their own 
axes, one one way, the other the other, Kke a laminator. Each is 
turned by a separate handle. One woman takes a handful of the 
cotton which is to be cleaned and puts it between the cyUnders, at 
the same time turning one handle, whilst another woman turns the 
other in the opposite direction. The cotton passes through, but 
the seeds fall to the ground. The Malays have a somewhat similar 
apparatus, which they call " Putaran," but it is constructed on a 
different principle. 

After it has been freed from the seeds the Dyak women spin the 
cotton, the instrument employed being a large wheel which, turned 
by a handle, sets in rapid motion a very small one, the two being 
connected by an endless cord. In the centre of the httle wheel is fixed 
a horizontal spindle, on which the cotton is. spun and twisted. 
This form of instrument is found throughout all Asia, from Palestine 
to Japan, and has probably been the origin of all the modem 
systems of cotton-spinning. 

On the tenth of May, not having been able to get any boats at 
Kantu, we continued our journey on foot, following the stream down 
its course, and finding its banks rather thickly populated. 

y Google 


The Dyaks of this region, although they live so far from the sea, 
are comparatively civilised. Their language differs but slightly 
from that of the Batang Lupar Dyaks. They work iron, but do 
not extract it, bussing it from Malay merchants at Silimpo, on the 
Kapuas. Their houses are well constructed, and everything about 
them denotes a condition of comfort and prosperity. Although 
hving on Dutch territory, they consider themselves independent. 
Their nearest market is at Simanggan, whither they resort to pur- 
chase salt. They treated me coldly, and it was only by showing 
a certain amount of firmness and energy that I was able to 
obtain paddles. They refused to sell me fowls, although I saw 
many about the houses. Notwithstanding this hostile attitude 
Intika, the Orang Tua, readily consented to act as my guide to 
the lakes. 

At the village of Loben, where we halted, I met some Malo 
Dyaks, who live on the Kapuas, and were engaged in working finger- 
rings, earrings, and other brass ornaments, much prized by the 
women here. For a small consideration these Malo people allowed 
me the use of their canoe, but this was not big enough to contain 
all my men, and I had considerable difficulty in obtaining another 
small one, the Dyaks being afraid that I would not pay the sum 
agreed upon— one rupee ! 

An hour after noon we embarked in the two canoes, and began 
to descend the stream. The banks of this portion of the Kantu 
resemble those of the western branch of the Sarawak river, both in 
the look of the country and in the nature of the vegetation. As we 
paddled along aided by the rapid current, a fine " ikan dungan " 
hooked itself on our traihng line — the " atja " of the Dyaks. 
This has neither plummet nor float, and the bait is a piece of pearl 
shell a couple of inches long, or a bit of white metal, to which are 
attached one or two fish-hooks. The shell or metal is shaped some- 
what like a small fish, and this and its silvery sheen makes it a killing 
bait forbigfish. The " atja" is thrown from the bows of the boat 
continuously, now on one side, now on the other. I was informed 
that the dungan cannot be caught in any other way. It is an 
excellent fish so far as flavour is concerned, as I can myself testify, 
but I should have preferred preserving it as a zoological specimen, 
for it looked strange and interesting. It has a heterocercal tail, 
like that of the sturgeon, which I saw in no other Bornean fish. I 
was told that it is also to be found in the Sarawak river, but is very 
rare there. 

After a couple of hours of easy and rapid progress we reached 
Grogo, where I hoped to get another boat to continue the journey. 
After Grogo, one of the usual Dyak house-viUages, the river banks 
are uninhabited for a long stretch, and as the boats we had were 
mere canoes, by no means well suited to pass the night in, and the 

y Google 


river was swollen and dangerons, I thought it more prudent to 
stay at Grogo for the night. 

As I entered the big communal house the children fled 
shrieking, catching sight of my beard. To the adults a white 
man was less strange, for the Kantu Dyaks had frequent dealings 
with Simanggan. 

I saw here very fine mats being made with fibres from the sheaths 
of the leaves of a Zingiberaceous plant, the same, I believe, as those 
that I had found at Marop, the " goppak " mentioned in a former 
chapter. The Grogo Dyaks are also renowned for their fishing nets, 
which they make with a very strong twine constructed from the 
fibres of wild plants of which I was unable to get precise par- 

From the verandah of the Dyak house at Grogo, two peaks of 
singular shape are to be seen rising isolated from the plain, at no 
great distance. One, to the west, is called Tutop, and is easily 
recognisable by the steep chffs crowning its summit, which— a rare 
case in Borneo— is bare, or, at all events, without visible vegetation, 
and thus bears no small resemblance to the rains of an ancient 
castle. From its appearance I should say that Tutop is formed 
of the same porphyritic rock which I had noted in similar-looking 
peaks near the Sarawak river. The other peak, Togak, hes N.W. 
from Grogo, and is of a regular conical shape, hke that of a Chinese 
hat. It is completely clothed with forest. The houses of Kantu 
village are really at the foot of this last-mentioned mountain ; but 
when I passed close to it I did not see it— a thing which often happens 
in a country where the vegetation is so dense. By a rough guess, I 
should put the altitude of these two peaks at below 2,500 feet, but 
in such cases it is easy to make a mistake, for there is nothing to 
serve as a satisfactory basis for comparison. 

During the night it rained in torrents, and next morning, May 
nth, the river was so swollen that the water reached the big branches 
of the trees along the banks. The rain continued, and theriverstill 
kept on rising. The flood, I found, had carried away our canoes, 
my men having stupidly omitted to secure them on the previous 
evening, and now it seemed likely that we should not be able to 
replace them. 

The rain was so violent that I was obliged to remain indoors. 
My Malays made use of the time in manufacturing fish-hooks, 
using for this some of the brass rings which the Dyaks wear in their 
ears. Employing their parangs as sole implements, they managed 
to shape the hooks, point them, and make the barb. 

The Dyaks must be ignorant of that malady which we call 
ennui. To them laziness is apleasure, yet they can be at times 
exceedingly active. When it rains they are capable of sleeping all 
day, and are not on that account awake during the night ; or else 


y Google 


they chatter for hours, squatting on their heels near the fire with their 
hands stretched out towards the blaze. 

I noticed but few fruit trees near the village, and not a single 
cultivated palm except a stray betel here and there. Near the house 
were only bananas and a little sugar, growing promiscuously. I 
have observed that only on hills and in positions not easily accessible 
are fruit-trees abundant around native houses. The scarcity of 
such trees may be accounted for by the frequency with which 
Dyaks change their place of residence, abandoning the house in 
which they have lived for a few years, and constructing a new one 
in a place they think more convenient. Another reason may be 
sought in the constant hostilities between the various tribes, during 
which the more accessible villages are captured and destroyed 
from time to time, and the fruit-trees growing round them cut 

It continued to rain tiU late in the afternoon. During a cessa- 
tion of the downpour I sent men to search for my missing boats, 
but without result. 

In the house where I awaited the return of decent weather, 
there were, for the time being, only women and children. All the 
men were away, assembled to witness one of the most singular of 
Dyak customs. Two young men were rival aspirants to the hand 
of a girl, and a challenge had in consequence been issued. The 
Mctor would be the one who managed to remain longest under 
water. This singular kind of duel is not peculiar to the Kantu 
Dyaks, but is also practised by the Batang Lupar, Seribas, and 
other tribes in Sarawak. 

The method of procedure is as follows. Each champion names 
his two seconds, and a spot is then chosen in the river where the 
water is about three or four feet in depth. Here two poles are fixed 
vertically in the stream a Uttle distance apart. At a given signal 
the two champions fling themselves together under water, each one 
keeping his nostrils closed with one hand, while he holds on to his 
pole with the other, keeping it right over his head in order to prevent 
himself from rising to the surface. At the first sign one of the two 
gives of becoming asphyxiated, the seconds, who are close by, take 
both from the water. Usually neither of the two would come to 
the surface of his own will, and would drown himself rather than 
acknowledge his defeat, it being with them a point of honour not to be 
beaten in a proof of this kind. Thus it is always the seconds and 
spectators who haul them out when they are half drowned. This 
they do secundum artem, and, holding diem up by the feet, head 
downwards, endeavour to make them reject the water they have swal- 
lowed. The one who first comes round is declared the victor, and has 
the right to demand a recognition of his prowess. This often takes 
the shape of one of those ancient vases which are so highly prized 

177 N 

y Google 



and fetch such enormous prices in Borneo, being considered by the 
Dyaks as property of the highest value. 

These vases resemble \'ery much the big oil-jars (orci) we use 
in Italy. They are usually of a dark colour, and glazed inside and out ; 
some of them smooth, others vnth designs in low relief. Sham ones 
are now made for purposes of trade, but both these and the genuine 
old ones are of Chinese manufacture, and no better proof of the 
antiquity of the intercourse between China and Borneo could be 

found, for some of these jars have been transmitted from generation 
to generation in Dyak families, and must be extremely old. Here, 
on the Kantu, the smallest and commonest tajau (as these jars are 
generically called) are the "Alas" valued at from 20 rupees to 20 
dollars. Those worth two " Alas " are called " Russa " ; a " Ben- 
naga" is worth 100 to 150 dollars, or two " Russa." Next come 
in order of value the " Linka," the " Betanda," and lastly the 
"Gussi," which may be worth as much as 500 to 1,000 dollars. I 

y Google 


was told that there are still more names for these jars, which vary 
in the different \illages, and according to minor pecuUarities in size, 
shape, and ornamentation. 

It is not only for disputes like the one mentioned that the Dyaks 
apply this " Trial by water," which is called by them " Slam ayer " 
{i.e. " Plunge in water"). It is resorted to in many instances, and 
whenever a dispute cannot possibly be settled in any other way. 
Generally before having recourse to it, a cock-fight is undertaken to 
settle the question ; but if no satisfactory result is obtained, then the 
severer test of " S'lam ayer " is appealed to. Even slight differ- 
ences are often settled in this manner ; indeed, serious disputes are 
rare amongst the Dyaks. The most frequent cause of ill feeling is 
jealousy, or other disagreements in which women are concerned. 
Such duels, next to " head-hunting," are for many the great events of 
a hfetime ; for to pay off the debts contracted on such occasions 
years of labour and of savings are often required. For the " S'lam 
ayer " which took place wlien I was at Kantu, the loser would have 
to pay a " Russa," at the utmost a " Bermaga." 

On the twelfth of May several of the Dyaks who had witnessed 
the " S'lam ayer " returned to Grogo. It appeared that the trial 
had not been decisive, and other solutions were to be tried, 
possibly ending in bloodshed. I saw the young man who beheved 
himself the winner ; he was much excited, and declared loudly that 
he would invoke the justice of the Tuan Muda ; as to the Dutch, 
he would not even allow them to be mentioned. 

For some hours the rain had ceased, and the river had gone down 
considerably. My smaller boat was recovered, some Dyaks having 
found it caught in the branches of a tree about a mile lower down 
the river. I had also succeeded, after much bargaining, in getting 
another boat to replace the one which had been lost, capable of con- 
taining five or six persons. When all was ready for our departure 
it was four o'clock in the afternoon, and, as the two boats were not 
fit to pass the night in, I put off starting until early next morning. 
This same day, before sunrise, I made an extraordinary haul 
of very small insects, mostly micro-Coleoptera. The torrential rain 
of the previous day had evidently been a veritable Flood for a whole 
world of small creatures which the violence of the water had washed 
off the plants, forcing them to seek safety on every floating fragment. 
And now the waters of the stream retiring had left high and dry on 
the banks aU this flotsam and jetsam covered with myriads of ship- 
wrecked creatures, which it was easy work to capture. Some of 
these extempory rafts, 1 found, were loaded with heads, abdo- 
mens, legs, and other fragments of insects which had been destroyed 
by the flood. These Coleoptera were all the more easy to catch 
owing to their being half drowned, or reduced to a condition of 
torpor owing to the cold of the previous nights. I might have gone 

y Google 


on catching them had it not been for the mosquitoes and sandilies, 
but these came out in myriads, and tormented me so incessantly that 
I eventually had to bring to a conclusion what had been a most 
successful morning's hunt. 

This was the third night which I passed at Grogo, but I did not 
wish to prolong my stay. The place was in no way pleasant, for 
the house was old, and the stench which came up from the ground 
beneath the " lante " was intolerable. Besides the dirt and refuse 
of all kinds which naturally accumulate under these pile-built houses, 
and which are never removed, a host of domestic fowls in large 
cages were kept beneath this one. The odour of a large poultry- 
yard, mingled with many others still worse, penetrated through the 
floor to oiu: sleeping-mats, and was enough to turn the most robust 
of stomachs. I do not know whether it was the effect of this in- 
sanitary condition or not, but in this place I found more people 
sick with fever and dysentery than anywhere else in Borneo. I 
gave medicine to several, and this caused my presence to be some- 
what more acceptable. 

On the 13th, as soon as the welcome caU of the " Wa-wa " told 
us that da\vn was nigh, I awoke my men, and for a wonder we 
actually managed to get off before sunrise. 

It was one of those cool delicious mornings which are not infre- 
quent in Borneo after violent rain. Many birds which had kept 
hidden during the bad weather were now flying from branch to 
branch. The river was still very full and the current strong, and 
our descent would have been rapid enough were we not often obhged 
to stop to remove the tree-trunks with which the flood had barred 
our way. By and by we came to the boat we had lost, caught in 
the fork of a tree above our heads and quite undamaged. The 
white and rosy flowers of a fine tree {Dt'pterocarpus oblongifolius, 
Bl.) perfumed the air strongly. Plants in blossom of many kinds 
which I had never seen beyond the hills increased in number as we 
progressed, taking the place of those which I had been wont to 
see on the Sarawak river. Often, within reach, we came across 
tree-trunks or overhanging branches loaded with epiphytes, amongst 
which the magnificent Vanda suavis, one of the most charming 
orchids of our hothouses, with its splendid racemes of big milky- 
white odoroiis flowers, was most conspicuous. Several species of 
Ficus^ too, threw a cool shade over the water, attracting many 
birds who feed on their fruits. 

The course of the ri\'er was very tortuous and its bed narrow, 
but the water spread widely in the forest on both sides. The 
space free of vegetation alone marked out its course, the banks 
being lost to view beneath the water. We paddled thus for six 

' Ficus Miquelii, King ; F. pisifera. Wall. ; F. parietalis, Bl. ; F. ci 
BI. ; F. cucurbitina. King, 

y Google 


hours and my men slackened their work somewhat, baing both 
hungry and tired. We landed at the first place where landing was 
possible, and cooked our rice. The river hereabouts had lost the 
aspect of a torrent, the flood of water having found its way through 
the forest. It was still very deep, however, but the current was 
less rapid. The trees along the banks no longer met overhead, but 
formed two high green vertical walls on either side. The light 
attracts the creepers towards the river, and among them a species 
of Connaracea {P.B. No. 3,384) was especially noticeable, having 
magniiicent bunches of rosy flowers. Bauhinias aiid sever^ 
Anonacete hung their festoons from tree to tree, giving an aspect of 
perfect impenetrabiiity to the forest. Even the rotangs spread 
their great pinnated fronds towards the river, pushing through 
the dense surrounding foliage. To avoid several big bends 
and shorten the distance, we left the proper course of the stream 
from time to time, and cut through the flooded forest. That navi- 
gation in the deep shade of the primeval trees is a thing never to 
be forgotten ! We float amidst gigantic trunks as regular and 
straight as the columns of some immense basilica. It is high noon, 
and the powerful sun rays fall vertically on the dense cupola of 
foliage which, hungry for the hght and heat, has fought its way 
upwards from the shade below. If here and there a straggling ray 
manages to penetrate the thick mass of leaves, it is reflected back 
by the black waters beneath. 

At three p.m. we reached the Segrat hill, round whose base the 
river winds, This place is called Ujong Kayu Rattei, and has a 
Dyak village. The river assumes here the name of Umpanang. 

The instinct which induces certain people to select and prefer 
marshy places for their residence is certainly strange. The Segrat 
Dyaks ought for this reason to be of Malay origin, for with the Segrat 
hill within reach they have built their house-village in the water, or 
at least in a hollow so unfavourably situated that, during the torren- 
tial rains that had recently fallen, they were obliged to seek refuge on 
a big raft made with tree-trunks. The flood had carried away their 
pigs and poultry, and much of their property as well. In this 
village not only the children, but the women, young and old, fled 
as soon as they saw me, and shut themselves up in the pintus. 

The river abounds with excellent fish. One of these, which I 
think is a Siluroid, caUed " Ikan pajat " ^ by the natives, is of a 
singularly beautiful violet colour, and is excellent eating. Fresh- 
water fish are usually silvery or of dark colours, or more rarely golden 
or red. I had never before seen a freshwater fish so richly coloured. 
It must be a forest species, hving in the dark but limpid waters 

^ Under this Malay name several brilliantly coloured species, are, I 
believe, included. " Ikan pajat " means " Masked fish," i.e. dressed up 
for parade or ceremony. 

y Google 


of the treed lagoons, if I may thus describe these places, of which 
in Europe we have no idea. In our Western lands, when permanent 
lakes or ponds have the depth of a few inches no trees grow in 
them ; whilst here extensive and grand forests formed of an extraor- 
dinary number of different kinds of trees remain in a state of inun- 
dation from year to year. I believe that a certain correlation exists 
between the " ikan pajat " and the locality in which it lives. When 
one thinks of the splendour of the sea fish of the tropical reef s, and 
the modest and plain coloration of those which Uve on sandy bot- 
toms, one is led to suspect that the special local conditions of the 
water, and the colours of the surrounding objects in it, must have 
had a very powerful influence on the colours, in one case vivid, in 
another dull, which the fish now exhibit. 

The " ikan pajat " is not found in the Sarawak river, where, how- 
ever, as I was told by intelligent Malays, a similar but smaller species 
does exist.^ 

I did not see many birds. The most conspicuous was a Tckiirea 
faradisi, which made a fine show with the two long white feathers 
in its tail. I noticed several plants in blossom, however, which 
were new to me, and which I proposed collecting on my return. 

May 14th, the night passed at Segrat, was one of torment. The 
famished dogs, mosquitoes, and sandflies completely prevented our 
getting any sleep. I, fortunately, had a mosquito curtain, but my 
poor men were obliged to hght a fire and defend themselves from 
the voracious insects by keeping in the smoke. This was only 
adding a new torment to the others, for the night was hotter and 
closer than any I had experienced before in Borneo. 

As the requisite quantity of rice had been cooked the evening 
before, we were able to make an early start next morning. The 
Umpanang has next to no current ; its waters are black, though 
limpid, like that which I had found in the forest near Kuching. A 
small quantity taken up in a glass looks like weak coffee, is quite 
transparent, and does not show any visible deposit in suspension, 
nor does it form any then and there, but I did not try the experi- 
ment of letting it stand, or evaporating it. It certainly keeps some 
time without giving signs of decomposition of any kind. These 
black waters, as I shall call them, are wholesome to drink, and have 
a not unpleasant, slightly acidulated taste. Their dark colour is 
undoubtedly due to the quantity of dead leaves and humus 
accumulated in the forests through which they flow.^ 

1 This may be the Cryptopterus Hdrris, Giinth. (Cf . D. Vin'ciguerra. Ap- 
punliitlioiogici iinAnnali del MuseoCivtcodi Geneva, xvi, p. 168, Genoa, 1880.) 

^ In South America some large affluents of the Orinoco and Amazon 
have black waters. A study of these waters was undertaken by MM. 
Muntz and Marcam, and may be consulted in the Compies Rendus, evil. 
(188S), pp. 908-9. Paris. 


y Google 


Although rains are torrential and continuous, the waters of 
the rivers in Borneo rarely get turbid, because the amount of soil 
not covered with vegetation, or cultivated, whence earthy matter 
can be carried off, is of small extent. Rain, however violent, is in 
a country covered by forest obhged to filter through great masses 
of vegetation, and comes gently to the ground, where, again, it 
meets a thick layer of dead leaves, rapidly decomposing under the 
influence of heat and moisture and the development of myriads 
of micro-organisms. The water, therefore, when it collects in streams 
is poor in earthy deposits, having been filtered through this vast 
stratum of decomposing vegetable matter ; and when the waters 
of these streams rise and inundate the forest, they absorb various 
new substances. Amongst these, humic acid predominates, and 
it contributes more than anything else to produce the pecuhar 
dark coloration. It is not everjrwhere, however, even under the 
circumstances above mentioned, that the waters retain their black 
colour. This only happens when they do not contain lime. In 
South American rivers it has been observed that when the dark 
waters mingle with white waters they at once lose their colour, 
through a reaction of the humic acid on the lime. I beUeve that 
the same thing takes place in Borneo, but I have no direct observa- 
tions on the subject. 

As we approached the lakes the Umpanang increased in width ; 
but, strange to say, the trees diminished in height, getting so low 
as to be not more than from ten to twenty feet above the water. 
But what surprises one most on entering the lake from the river 
is the very unusual colour of the great sheet of water before us. 
Looking straight down into its depths it appears so intensely black 
as to cause a certain sensation of fear. At times I felt as if the 
boat must sink in that unfathomable dark abyss ! Our ideas on 
the specific gravity of water are naturally associated with the 
coloration which is famihar to us. They might be termed 
innate ideas ; and even a child shows no surprise that a boat floats. 
But when waters show a coloration so different from the ordinary, 
even the notion one possesses instinctively of its specific gravity is 
shaken. These inky waters certainly do not tempt one to a plunge ; 
whilst, as all know, the opposite feehng is ehcited by hmpid and 
transparent water, the mere sight alone of which is always pleasant 
and attractive. 

The surface of the lake, clear and free from arboreal vegetation, 
extends only a few miles, but nowhere could we see a trace of dry 
land. As soon as we issued from the Umpanang, we sighted Lamadan, 
a village inhabited by Malays, towards which we proceeded. My 
people called the lake Danau Lamadjan,^ but I beheve that it is 
better known to the Kapuas people as Danau Seriang. 
1 Danau is the Malay for lake. — Ed. 

y Google 


As soon as the head-man of Lamadjan, Rading Sira (the title 
indicates a Javanese origin), heard of my arrival, he invited me 
to go up to his house cind offered me siri, politely insisting that I 
should stay in his village. Altliough this is built on an island, 
there was then not a foot of dry ground around it. The water was 
nearly on a level with the flooring of the houses. Every year 
during the rainy season the water rises a good deal on the lakes, 
but very rarely as high as its then level. Some trees only showed 
their tops above water, whilst quite a number of shrubs could be 
seen beneath the keel of our boat. 

The people at Lamadjan assured me that the waters of the 
lake always have' the black colour which had struck me so much, 
and are never turbid. Intika, my guide, asserted that there are 
about thirty lakes like that of Lamadjan, and amongst the prin- 
cipal ones he mentioned Danau Malayu (or Malau ?), D. T'kanan, 
D. Bekuan, D, Pandan, D. Bulumbong, D. Gamah. I have an idea 
that these lakes are for the most part surrounded not by raised land, 
but by forest, which I would describe by the term " palustral," 
the soil of which would be dry only occasionally, in periods of 
great drought, when the waters are at their very lowest. 

The lacustrine region, as a whole, must be of wide extent, but 
the water surface free from trees is, perhaps, never more than five 
or six miles in length. The natives of Lamadjan asserted that in 
very dry seEisons some of these lakes dry up, leaving a prodigious 
quantity of fish exposed or densely packed in small pools, where 
they can be caught by hand. They also assured me that there 
is no mud on the bottom, which is not surprising, being a natural 
consequence of the absence of earthy deposits in the water. If in 
times of flood such as we experienced the water remained perfectly 
clear, it is evident that it can never be other than in that condition. 
It would be highly interesting to examine the bottom of these 
black-water lakes when dry in order to investigate the nature of 
the deposits. These, I should think, must be entirely of vegetable 
origin, without any admixture of earthy elements. It would also 
be instructive to ascertain the results of thoroughly drying them— 
to learn, in short, whether the great quantity of substances derived 
from the humus (rich, it should be. remembered, in carbon) and 
held in solution by the black waters can, through the evaporation 
of their solvent, contribute to augment the mass of carbonates 
on the bottom of the lake basins, and also whether any special 
chemical reaction occurs to aid such augmentation. 

Considering the great mass of organic substances in decomposi- 
tion which continually accumulates in the forest, it is presumable 
that the flood waters dissolve not only the acids derived from the 
carbohydrates, but also various other substances which, under 
certain conditions, may originate insoluble deposits of a black 

y Google 


colour, similar to those which can be obtained artificially. By a 
natural association of ideas this possible manner of accumulation 
of carbonic elements suggests the hypothesis of an analogous 
origin in the case of coal in Borneo. 

That certain deposits must be formed in the Kapuas lakes can 
scarcely be doubted, for they are surrounded by forest, and receive 
rivers and streams. Even admitting that the forest retains the 
greater part of the floating timber which is swept away by the force 
of the floods, it is certain that a large quantity of vegetable detritus — 
besides that resulting from decomposed leaves, which does not visibly 
alter the clearness of the water — must find its way to the lakes and 
ultimately sink in their depths. 

Even supposing that only a millimetre of carbonic substance were 
each year deposited, in-a thousand years a layer over three feet 
thick would be the result ; and this sufficiently demonstrates how 
rapidly the carboniferous deposits of Borneo may have been formed, 
if such be their origin. 

That pure coal must have been formed and consolidated in 
basins where no earthy deposits took place cannot be questioned 
by any one. For this reason it is evident that it had its origin in 
forest regions where no extensive process of denudation could 
take place. The absence of the slightest traces of hme in the coal 
deposits of Labuan * proves that the area occupied by the forests 
which gave origin to them was not formed of limestone, and leads 
one to infer that the streams which ran through them, flowing into 
the deposit basins, contained black water. In Borneo the coal- 
fields are very extensive, and it is hardly probable that they were 
all formed contemporaneously. One cannot, therefore, generalize on 
their origin ; but the fact that no traces of marine organisms have 
been found in Labuan coal (Teni son- Woods, loc. cit.) permits the 
inference that some, at least, are of lacustrine origin. Admitting 
as valid the foregoing conclusions, and bearing in mind the absence 
of lime in the Labuan coal, we may well imagine that these coal- 
fields were formed in black-water lakes analogous to those of the 
Kapuas. All this is quite apart from any considerations concern- 
ing the age of the carboniferous deposit, for I have had no oppor- 
tunity of examining any organic remains from the Bomean coal- 
fields. For the rest I quite concur with the conclusions arrived at 
by Mr. Tenison-Woods in the paper quoted, the perusal of which 
suggested the theory here expressed. 

With regard to the asserted temporary drying up of the Kapuas 
lakes, I do not beheve that Danau Lamadjan can ever become 
perfectly dry, for I have since learnt that a Dutch steamer visits 

' J. E. Tenison-Woods. The Borneo Coal-Fields; in Nature, April 23, 
"885, p. 553. 


y Google 


the village every month, coming from Sintang, whence it is easy 
to ascend the Kapuas. 

Having noticed a hill on the side of the lake opposite Lamadjan, 
and hoping to get an extensive view over the surrounding country 
from its summit, I decided to pay it a visit. The hill is called 
Bukit Lampei, and on it were several Dyak houses, where Intika 
told me that he had friends. The usual landing-place was now 
covered with water six feet deep, and for some distance we paddled 
through the forest over the pathway leading up the hill. 

From the summit of Bukit Lampei I had an extensive view. 
Eastwards water extended as far as we could see, intersected by 
clumps of forest ; to the north, hills were visible in the distance. 
Most of the country was flat and covered with interminable jungle, 
amidst which small isolated and scattered eminences were here and 
there to he seen. The hills which separate the watershed of the 
Kapuas from that of the Batang Lupar lay to the north-west, quite 
near and of no great elevation. Here is the shortest and easiest 
road from the Dutch territory into that of the Rajah of Sarawak. 
The traveller paddles a day's journey up the Sungei Bunut, and then 
another day's land march takes him to Lobok Antu on the Batang 
Lupar. Towards the west the highest point is Bukit Kananpei, or 
Kananpajang, which hardly looks more than twenty miles off. 
It hid from my view the hills of the Kumpang, which I crossed 
to descend to the Kantu. 

On the Lampei hill the vegetation was entirely of secondary 
growth. Of plants worth collecting I oniy found an Ixora, and the 
" Kayu silimpo" a Rubiaceous plant of the genus Sarcocephalus. 
The nearest Malay village on the Kapuas bears the name of this 

The Lampei Dyaks, although they hve on Dutch territory, do 
their marketing at Simanggan ; and hearing that I came from there, 
asked eageriy for news of the Rajah. 

It was by the Bunut route that in January, 1852, that adven- 
turous lady traveller, Mme. Ida Pfeiffer, crossed over to this region ; 
a feat which few ladies would try again, even at the present day, 
when travel is so much easier. Mme. Pfeiffer tells us that in the 
midst of the lakes she found a large number of dead trees still 
standing where they had grown. I can only explain this by sup- 
posing that the vegetation of which I have spoken, which appears 
specially adapted to flourish with its roots in the water, had been 
left dry during a season of exceptional drought, and thus been 
killed, and that mth the rainy season the waters returned once 
more to cover the roots of the dead trees whose naked branches 
had so much struck Mme. Pfeiffer. 

" To-day," I find noted in my diary of May 15, 1867, " is the 
second anniversary of my arrival in Borneo." 

y Google 


In crossing the lake to visit Lampei I had not collected any 
plants, for I was anxious to deposit my luggage and store of botanical 
paper under cover in a dry place without delay. Next day, how- 
ever, I devoted to an investigation of the Hora of the lake, although 
the season was, unfortunately, not too favourable, for many species 
were not in blossom, and, as I have remarked already, the shrubs 
and underwood were so entirely covered by water that we passed 
over them in my boat. I was able, however, to collect about 
thirty-five species of plants which I had not met with before in 
Borneo. But altogether the flora of these Jakes is not very remark- 
able, and presented no conspicuous form which attracted my 
special attention ; nor is it rich, consisting of some fifty odd species 
only, generally abundant, though I should state that I have not 
made an accurate examination of the species collected in that 
locality. Except a few epiphytes, the others are shrubs or small 
trees which appear to be specially adapted to live in freshwater 
swamps. In this connexion two Brackenndgeas and a Dichilanthe 
deserve to be noticed, being remarkable for the floating apparatus 
with which their fruits are provided,' and also for the geographical 
distribution of the species belonging to both genera. The Dichi- 
lanthe of Danau Lamadjan (D. Borneensis, Baill.) is a singular 
Rubiacea, with blue irregular flowers similar to those of a Scrophu- 
lariacea, in which the small calyx swells and becomes ventricose 
on the maturity of the seeds, thus originating the floating apparatus. 
Dichilanthe Borneensis is very similar to D. Zeylanica, Thw. — 
the type species of the genus, and the only other one known — 
which is found in the mountains of Ceylon. The Brackenndgeas 
are Ochnacem, of which, besides the two found by me in the Kapuas 
lakes (B. serrulata and B. falusirix, Barteltetti), five other species 
are known. One of these inhabits the Malay Peninsula, one is 
found in Queensland, another in the Fiji islands, another in the 
Philippines, and the remaining one at Zanzibar. The seeds of 
a Brackenridgea have also been found floating on the sea off the 
coast of New Guinea.^ On the whole, although the flora of the 
Kapuas lakes is not remarkable for variety and beauty, I consider 
that it is of special interest on account of some of the peculiar 
forms of adaptation which it possesses, owing to which the species 

1 The fruits of Brackenridgea are oval or rounded, only a few millimetres 
in diameter, of a shiny black, and coated with a tliin pulp. They must 
therefore offer a certain attraction to birds, which probably contribute 
to their diffusion. But these seeds abo possess internal closed cavities 
coatainiag air. which enable them to float on water. This would explain 
the wide geographical distribution of this genus. It is, however, not a 
Uttle strange that, notwithstanding the faciUties for dispersion of the seeds, 
the species are all much localized. 

2 Cf. Report of the Scientific Results of the Voyage of H.M.S, Challenger. 
Botany, i, i. Ixiv. E, 

y Google 


are capable of surviving a long immersion during the periodical 
aimual floods. Analogous cases occur in the low regions of the 
Brazils, about the mouth of the Amazons. Some of the plants 
of the lakes show perhaps a certain correlation with mangroves 
in their habitus and manner of growth ; but the water was too 
deep to allow me to see how their roots behaved. Instead of being 
seashore or estuarine, they might be described as lake-shore trees. 
Of true marsh plants the only species I met with at Ruma Segrat 
was Limnophila sessiliflora, Bl. I saw no trace of any Nympheace^, 
Hydrocharids, pond-weeds, or other really palustrine species, nor 
any of those plants which in marshes contribute to form peat. 
Not a Graminacea, not a Cyperacea ; plants, it is true, which, had 
they grown there, would ha\'e been then under water. The nearly 
total absence in Borneo of floating aquatic plants must be attributed 
to the facility with which waters flow and circulate, the constant 
and copious rainfall rendering stagnant pools an impossibility. 

I found the Dyak house at Lampei contained more dogs 
than human beings, and at night it was hard to sleep on account 
of the noise they made. They were small, famished, miserable 
creatures, aU skin and bone, and were allowed to roam about freely 
at night. The result was that they played havoc with my already 
scarce provisions, managing to gnaw through a rotang basket in 
which I had placed my tinned meats, and although these latter 
were imopened, they bit through the tins, and tasting the liquid 
which ran out, carried them off, scattering them all over the house. 
They even gnawed the cork stoppers of some bottles, and one 
of them went so far as to adopt my hat as his kennel. When my 
cook, Kisoi, awoke, and discovered the destruction they had caused, 
he took his revenge by serving out to them morsels of rice in which 
he had put doses of the arsenical soap I used for preserving animal 
sldns. We never knew the results of this early breakfast on the 
poor brutes, for when the sun rose we were well on our way towards 
the Kantu. 

As we again crossed Danau Lamadjan, I noted the paucity 
of birds. The only marsh-loving species I saw was a white egret 
perched on the top of a tree. Tlie natives, however, told me that 
when the waters are low the place is populated with hosts of shore 
birds which come to breed there. I did not see a single monkey 
or any other mammal. In these localities a long narrow-snouted 
crocodile, Tomistoma Schlegelii, Miill., ought to be found. It 
was long thought pecuhar, and one of the characteristic reptiles 
of Borneo, but it has been since found in Sumatra and in the Malay 
Peninsula. I never had the good fortune to meet with it, but it 
is not infrequent in Sarawak, especially on the Sadong. Its nearest 
ally is the well-known garial or gavial of India. ^ 

' " Garial " in Hindustani means " a fish-eater." It is probable that 

y Google 


As we again entered the Umpanang, I stopped to collect speci- 
mens of aU the plants in blossom which I could find. The waters 
must have been extraordinarily high for a long while, for I found 
that the leaves of the submerged trees were covered by a thin coat- 
ing of a!g£e, probably Diatomaceas. In the vicinity of Segrat 
I stopped at a mattang, on which grew a species of Eugeissonia 
{E. ambigua ' ). I at iirst thought that this palm was the same 
as one which grows in the Malay Peninsula, but most probably 
it must be considered as a distinct species. The mattang on which 
it grew was hardly six feet above the actual level of the water ; 
it was, indeed, the only dry bit of land for miles around. It was 
also marked by tlie presence of the umbrella casuarina {" Ru 
ronan " or " Ru umbon " of the Malays). I have already stated 
that I consider these isolated spots of raised land sticking up from 
the surrounding plain to have been ancient islands of the sea. 
The one on which I found the Eugeissonia is a remarkable and 
instructive instance to the point. 

We once more passed a night at Segrat, even a more miserable 
one than before, with the dogs and the swarms of mosquitoes. It was 
insupportably hot. To add to our discomfort the hut was now 
hardly habitable, for the streaming rain came through the rotten 
old attaps in torrents. All night it feil, andthe incessant roar on 
the roof, combined with the other local amenities, entirely prevented 
me from getting any sleep. I was tormented, too, with the idea 
that the waters would rise so as to prevent our being able to ascend 
the .Kantu on our way back. At dawn next morning, although it 
was still raining, I gave the order to start. Even my men were 
heartily glad to get away from the place, and they paddled away 
with a will, notwithstanding the pouring rain, which fell on their 
naked shoulders, while I tried my best to obtain what shelter 
I could crouched up under a kadjan mat in the middle of my boat. 
At last, when it pleased heaven, the sun peeped out. 

On the way we made frequent stoppages, fqr I wished to secure 
specimens of all the flowering plants which I, had not collected 
elsewhere. Partly on this account, and partly because the current 
against us was growing stronger, we hardly succeeded during the 
day in getting over half the distance we had managed on our out- 
ward, down-stream journey. We halted at Ampar, a small Dyak 
village, when the sun was low, and my men completely tired out. 
The bad weather followed us, and we had hardly got into the 
house when the rain, which had ceased awhile, came down again 

the Tomistotna has the same habits as the former, and is not dangerous 
to man. Fossil Tomistomas, or allied forms, have been found in miocene 
deposits in Malta and Sardinia. 

1 Cf. Beccari. Nuovo Giotnale Botanico Italiano, vol. iii. p. 28. 

y Google 


in torrents. The roof of bark under which we were was out of 
repair, and afforded very poor shelter ; but no better was to be 
had. I was in a state bordering on despair on account of 
the botanical specimens I had collected during the day ; they 
were already wet, and now when I placed them to dry on the floor 
of the house they were deluged again by the water which streamed 
from the roof. 

We were now near the foot of Gunong Kananpei, the hill which 
we had seen from Lampei, but it is not visible from the river, being 
hidden by the trees on the banks. 

The following day we paddled continuously against the current. 
I only had a halt of a couple of hours to dry my botanical paper 
at a fire, for the weather was so variable, with sudden rain- 
storms, that I could not spread it, as usual, in the sun. On the 
next day, too, the igth, we paddled for ten hours consecutively, 
with only slight rests for collecting flowering plants. I saw on 
the trees many Mayas nests, but none of these creatures them- 
selves. Other monkeys were numerous, especially the km. which 
were not at all timid, and came close to our boat. At the request 
of the Dyaks, who wanted them for their dinner, I shot several. 
We passed Grogo, where we had been obliged to remain three 
nights on our way down. We continued paddling up the river 
until we came to the Kantupa, an insignificant stream, into which 
we turned aside to leave the boats. There was a house there, but 
we marched on on foot, and in about an hour, at dusk, reached 
the house-village of Intika, the Orang Tua who had accom- 
panied me during the trip, and had proved so useful in many ways. 

Intika was a very inteUigent man, and I had seen him treated 
with respect at all the villages we passed through, and to him, 
no doubt, in great measure was due the success of my excursion. 
He was also a good diplomatist, and asserted that he wished to 
be on a good footing both with the Sarawak and the Dutch 
authorities, though the Kantu Dyaks did not appear to look up 
to the latter much. 

The twentieth of May was a well-earned day of rest for my men, 
who had paddled for three days from morning to night against 
the current of the Kantu. I myself was glad of a Httle respite 
in Intika's house, one of the cleanest I had yet seen, and I 
had to sort and dry the plants I liad collected. 

Nextday Iawokemymenat4a.m., soas to be ready to start at 
6 a.m. I wished now to get back at Marop as soon as possible 
in order to ensure the preservation of my collections, which, on 
account of the constant bad weather, I had been unable to dry, or 
even to keep from the rain. 

We tramped along briskly for five hours, the carriers having 
lighter loads now that our provisions were consumed. But it rained 

y Google 


all the. way. On Bukit Tundon, a hill we had crossed on our 
way out, I only collected three plants, which I found within reach 
by the side of the path ; they proved to be three herbaceous forest 
forms, beautiful, interesting, and new to science.' We rested 
an hour to cook and eat our rice, and started off again, and after 
another four hours' tramp we reached Kumpang in the evening, 
having accomplished in one day what had required two when we 
were outward bound to the lakes. I believe that the distance 
covered must have been about eighteen miles, for we walked 
briskly for nine hours. Even under the best conditions, and along 
the best roads, it is difficult in Borneo to travel on foot more than 
two miles per hour. Before we got to Kumpang we were over- 
taken by another deluge of rain. 

Early next morning. May 2znd, we once more started in the rain. 
On passing by the spot where 1 had ob£ei"ved the Nepenthes 
on the way out 1 found my mark ; but, unfortunatelv, the 
plants 1 wanted had vanished. Some Chinamen who had come 
here for the gold washings had built a hut near the spot, and in 
searching for rotang or other trailers to use as rope had evidently 
cut the Nepenthes, whose long, thin, tough stems are often 
used for tying. 

We reached Marop a little before midday. We had marched 
consecutively for six hours ; but this time the distance could not 
have been more than ten miles, for we had to travel along narrow 
pathways on a clay soil, much trodden by Chinamen, and rendered 
shppery by the rain. Just as we got to the Kunsi's house, my home 
in Marop, the rain came down again in torrents. Happily, we 
were now under good shelter, and my collections were safe. 

The species of plants collected during this excursion were about 
120, almost all different from those which I had hitherto found in 
Sarawak, In a country where the greater portion of the vegetation 
is arboreal it is not in hurried trips that rich collections can be 
formed. Even if one succeeds in getting some of the more con- 
spicuous species occurring within hand-reach along the path, the 
more important forms, those of the trne forest type — the big trees 
— still remain to be got ; and to coUect these, as I have already 
remarked, a long stay at different localities and during different 
seasons is required. 

Amongst the botanic collections brought back from my excur- 
sion to the lakes were very few AracecB, or orchids, which appear 
to be scarce in the country I crossed. Even palms were rare, for 
I only got the Eugeissonia already mentioned ; but I did see a few 
rotangs. Pandani, which are usually so common in lowlands, 

^ Didymocafpus Beccarii, C. B. Clarke ; D. Kompsobaa, C. B. Clarke, 
twg fine GeaneraceEe; and Allomorphia multinervm Cogn, a Melastomacea. 


y Google 


gave me but a single species. On the whole, the flora of the lake- 
region appeared to me much less rich than that of Sarawak, 

As a philological curiosity I shall give the names of the Dyaks 
who went with me on the trip. They were : — Sigu Wat, Hi, Uyu, 
Munao, Udjal, Unka, Ladjan, and Intika. 

I employed May 24th in collecting and preparing some aquatic 
plants, to which the Chinese, in damming freshwater streams for 
the operations of gold washing, had furnished the necessary con- 
ditions of existence, conditions which seldom or never occur natur- 
ally in the country. 

It is very difficult to discover how long Chinamen have been 
settled in the auriferous region of Marop. Probably the gold 
washings have been taken up and abandoned over and over again. 
As a consequence of these operations water-holes and small stag- 
nant pools have been formed which are not covered by forest. 
In these I collected a NiteUa (the only one I met with in Borneo), 
a Utricularia {U. exoleta, R.B.), which I had found in the padi- 
fields at Singhi, and about ten species of freshwater algje, which 
are scarce in Borneo,^ simply because stagnant waters which 
are not at once invaded by arboreal vegetation are met with only 
very exceptionally, and are then generally the result of landslips, 
or the work of man. Small stagnant pools in which the water 
is not renewed are only formed diuring unusual periods of dryness ; 
but such conditions in Sarawak probably last at the utmost from 
ten to fifteen days. Here rain is almost of daily occurrence, and 
the constant changing or washing out of the water of such pools 
prevents algas from establishing themselves and developing. 

At Marop the Chinese had gardens, in which certain foreign 
plants which appear to follow man in all his migrations had gained 
a footing. Amongst these were several grasses, especially a 
Digitaria, called by the Chinese " Isu-mion," which had here 
extended to and completely infested the rice fields. Another 
Digitaria keeps to orchards and gardens, together with a Poa 
{P.B. No. 3,291) called " Gniam-kum-so," Eleusine indica, 
and Elephanlopus scaher, a composite, the " Chisam-teo " 
of Chinamen. Near the houses grew Adenosma (Pterostigma) 
viUosum, a scrophulariaceous plant used medicinally by the Chinese, 
who call it " Sa-chou-con. Paspalum conjugatum, another grass 
which might be useful if more cultivated as pasture, is also common. 
The Malays call it,"Rumput orang-puti," or " Rumput sapi," 
which means white man's or cow grass. It makes excellent 
cattle food, and the Malays assert that it has been introduced by 

1 Tetraspora gelatinosa, C. Ag. ; Tolypothrix flexitosa, Zan. ; 
Leptothrix punctiformis, Zan ; Conferva fonttnatis var. ockracea, Zan. ; 
Zygnema sp., Bhizoclonium sp., Batyachospermum Borneense, Zan. 

y Google 


Europeans, and that before Rajah Brooke's time it was unknown 
in Sarawak. It is, nevertheless, widely spread throughout the whole 
of tropical America, Brazil, Mexico, etc. ; and now in Borneo 
it has spread into the interior on cleared lands of a fertile kind, 
especially along the river banks. It is a plant which cannot 
escape the notice of anybody who goes about in Borneo, for its 
small eared seeds get easily detached when ripe, and stick on to 
the dress and shoes, especially when the grass is damp. This 
is a very efficient method of distribution, which is obtained neither 
by viscosities, nor by awns or hooks, as in other widely spread 
grasses, but simply by the long hairs on the margins of the glumes, 
which, when wet, adhere to any passing object. 

y Google 


Different Species of Orang-utan — Their Habitat, Food, etc. — ■ 
Peculiarities and Habits — The Sum at ran Orang — An Orang 
FcETUS — Borneo and the Precursors of Man — Adaptation to 
Environment — -Variability of Species — ^A New Theory of Evolu- 
tion — Conditions Necessary for the Evolution of Man and the 
Anthropoids — The Humanization of the Anthropoids^ — The Place 
OF Origin of Man. 

DURING my absence at the lakes Atzon, my skilfiil Chinese 
hunter, had prepared three skeletons of orangs according to 
the instructions I had given him ; namely, roughly cleaning the bones 
of the tlesh, leaving them all attached by the ligaments, and drying 
them at once at a slow fire. In this way putrefaction and bad 
smells are prevented, and the operation can be easily performed 
anywhere. Lastly, to insure against insects and other animal 
pests who might gnaw the ligaments, the bones are carefully 
painted over with a thick layer of arsenical soap. Of the skeletons 
thus prepared one was that of a young female ; one of a male Mayas 
Tjaping, slightly larger than the one whose skin I had pre- 
viously prepared ; and the third was also a specimen of the latter 
race, but its sagittal crest weis less developed in height, and 
shorter, although wider, than in the other specimens I had of its 
kind. I should thus have supposed that the last skeleton was that 
of a female, but Atzon was positive that it was that of a male, 
and one with very long hair. 

This was the last specimen of orang-utan which I got at Marop. 
AU told, I had got either the entire skeletons or portions of twenty- 
four individuals. Later, Atzon brought me several other heads 
of Mayas Tjaping from the same district. But with all this 
I came away from Marop without having been able to solve 
the doubts I had regarding the species or races of orang-utan. 
Moreover, I was not able to ascertain with certainty whether the 
adult female Mayas Tjaping can occasionally develop the 
lateral expansions of the cheeks which are so characteristic in the 
adult male, or whether she is always without them. But the fact 
remained that amongst the many Mayas which I had been able 
to examine not a single female presented the shghtest trace of such 
cheek-expansions. Wallace, too, before me appears to have had 

y Google 


exactly the same experience, and even expresses the conviction 
that the adipose cheek-expansions are peculiar to adult males. 

On the other hand, however, many Dyaks at Marop assured me 
repeatedly that the female Mayas Tjaping has cheek-expan- 
sions like those of the male. This weis further confirmed by the 
testimony of intelligent Malaj's, and amongst others by the Tuanku 
Yassim, mentioned in the earlier part of this book. Lastly, the 
Rev. Mr, Mesney, one of the missionaries whom I had met at Ban- 
teng, told me that he had himself shot a female Mayas with cheek 
expansions, and, moreover, that it had a young one with it, still 
suckling, which also had these singular lateral appendages to its 

Later, during subsequent travels, I had several opportunities 
of examining living specimens of orang-utan, and give here the 
following extracts from my note-book :— 

" 6 xii. 1877. I have seen in the Calcutta Zoological Gardens 
two orang-utans which had had young. The male showed 
rudiments of the cheek -expansions ; it was as big as the female, 
which had none, and looked like a Mayas Kassa, fully grown, or 
nearly so." 

" xii. r877. I have examined at Buitenzorg two living orang- 
utans in the possession of Mr. Teysmann ; both very young and 
males, and both provided with very visible cheek -expansions. They 
were the size of the one I shot at Marop on the 3rd of April, 1867, 
which is now mounted in the University Zoological Museum at Pisa. 
About the same time, in the Zoological Gardens at Batavia, I saw 
another yet smaller specimen of orang-utan ; it also had visible 
cheek-expansions, but I did not ascertain the sex." 

It is, therefore, a well ascertained fact that there are both very 
young as well as fully adult males provided with adipose lateral 
cheek-expansions, and others, both young and adult, who have not a 
trace of them. This has induced Wallace and others to express 
the opinion that at least two species of orang-utan exist in Borneo. 

Summing up from what I have myself observed and from the 
information collected, we come to the following conclusions : — ■ 

1. That there is no well-authenticated case of a female orang 
with lateral face-expansions. That nevertheless there is some 
evidence to show that such expansions may be met with, if not 
constantly, at all events occasionally, in the female. 

2. That there are young orangs yet in their milk dentition 
which have weU-developed cheek-expansions. These are thus 
manifestly not a character of age, as the late A. Milne-Edwards has 

3. That adult individuals are found with the expansions rudi- 

There is no doubt that the presence or absence of these lateral 

y Google 



cheek-expansions makes a very great difference in the physiognomy 
of these apes. Thus whilst the aspect of an ordinary orang-utan, 
especially if young, is very human, that of the Mayas Tjaping, 
with its lateral expansions, is much less so than that of many other 

I do not think that any zoologist at the sight of two orangs of 
the same age, one with, and the other without cheek-expansions, 
would hesitate a moment in considering them distinct species. 
To my eye the difference is, indeed, greater than that between 



Fig. 36.- 

^ ihl 

the Bactrian camel with its two humps and the Arabian animal 
with one, which are unanimously considered by naturahsts as 
different species. But on the other hand have we not in our own kind 
the Hottentot women provided with those adipose protuberances 
which constitute the so-called steatopygia ? Yet this has not caused 
any competent anthropologist to separate these people, and con- 
sider them as specifically distinct from the rest of mankind. 

Steatopygia in the human species or in other mammals being 
merely a local accumulation of fat, corresponds perfectly, except 

y Google 



with regard to position, to the adipose cheek-expansions observed 
in orang-utans, to which the term " Steatoparesis " (fatty cheeks), 
might be conveniently apphed. And the analogy might even be 
extended to the fatty tail of certain races of sheep, to the hump of 
the zebu, and perhaps to the facial warts of certain pigs. ' 

In the ilayas, moreover, the steatoparesis bears a definite rela- 
tion to certain cranial characters. Amongst the skulls of these 
orangs there are some quite smooth along the vertex, hke a human 

Pig- 37-— 31^ 

= (*]• 

skuU, others, instead, present a well-marked median sagittal crest, 
wliich corresponds to the insertions of the big temporal muscles ; 
and in addition, at right angles to the latter, a great lambdoidal 
crest rises across the skull from ear to ear. As a general rule, when 
cheek-expansions are not present there are no cranial crests, and 
this is the case also in fully adult and very aged specimens. Thus 

' A beginning of steatoparesis, or fatty thickening of the cheeks between 
these and the ears, is sometimes apparent in the hu-nan species in stout, 
wcll-fed persons, 

y Google 


the wider are the " tjapings," or cheek-expansions, the greater 
is the development of the cranial crest ; and we are led to suppose 
that there is a sort of correlation and that the first character is 
the cause of the second one. Of course, the augmented weight of the 
head and consequent development of the cranial muscles may also 
contribute to the enlargement of these crests which, as a general 
rule, grow with age in all the Anthropomorpha.' 

I do not know of any well-authenticated specimen of the skull 
of a young orang-utan, during the period of the first dentition, 
with lateral face expansions, and cannot, therefore, say whether 
in that stage there are or are not signs of any development of the 
cranial crests. As far as I am aware no skull of a female orang, 
of any race, is known with crests. 

I have observed cases of abnormal dentition even in the series 
of orang-utan skulls which I collected. Thus that of a female 
Mayas Kassa had two small fourth molars in the lower jaw, 
and corresponding supernumerary molars in the upper jaw, still 
enclosed in their alveoli. 

AU the orang-utans which I collected— at least all those of which 
I preserved the skin or the skeleton — were without a nail on the great 
toe or hallux, or had it reduced to a mere rudiment. Moreover, 
this pecuharity was associated with the absence of the ungual 
phalanx in that toe. But specimens of orang-utan are known, both 
from Borneo and from Sumatra, in which both the nail and the 
terminal phalanx of the hallux are well developed. Again, it appears 
that this character is not in any connected with the presence or 
absence of cheek-expansions, and that there are Mayas Tjaping 
with, and others without, a nail on their great toes. This has not 
prevented specific value being given to the character affecting the 
extremity of the hallux, and the name of Simia bicolor has been con- 
ferred on those orang-utans which possess a terminal phalanx 
and a nail on their great toes. 

I may remark that the specimens devoid of these two parts ofier 
an example of the extreme effects of disuse and the non-practice 
of terrestial locomotion ; the development of the hallux having 
diminished in importance to the corresponding advantage of that 
of the other toes, which, under the conditions of a purely arboreal 
existence, have assumed functions more similar to those of the 

After all that has been said, what conclusions can we come to 
regarding the question of a plurality of species amongst the orang- 
utans ? The answer is much more difficult than anyone who is not 
a zoologist might be led to suppose. For the laity there are big 

1 It is to be remarked that on the skuHs of adult gorillas the develop- 
ment of bony crests is very conspicuous, although these anthropoids are devoid 
of fat^ cheek-expansions. 

y Google 


3 with a wide face and lateral cheek-expansions, and smaller 
_ ; without such expansions ; some have short, other have 
long hair, and thus at least two or three kinds may be distii^uished. 
But for the naturalist the question is a very different one, and is 
connected with one of the most discussed and disputed points in 
zoology. However, I shall now venture to give my own opinion on 
the case, in accordance with the facts I have observed and the 
materials I have at my command. 

From a careful examination of specimens in the flesh, and from 
the preparation of a number of skeletons with my i^wn hands, 
I have come to the conclusion that it is rare to meet with two 
specimens of orang-utan perfectly alike, even when of the same age 
and sex, and belonging to the same race. Professor Henry Giglioli 
arrived at a similar conclusion after studying the series of crania 
which I collected, now in the Museo Civico at Genoa.' 

There exist, however, as I have more than once stated, two 
forms of orang especially distinct from the others. One possesses 
lateral adipose cheek-expansions and highly developed cranial 
crests: this is the Mayas Tjaping. The second form, even when 
perfectly adult, has no lateral cheek-expansions, and its skull is 
devoid of strongly pronounced crests : this is the Mayas Kassa. 
I do not attach much importance to the third form, distinguished 
by the natives as Mayas Rambei, on account of its long hair. 

It is possible that in a remote past the Mayas Tjaping 
and the Mayas Kassa were two quite distinct species, perhaps 
having their origin in separate regions, and only later coming into 
contact on the same area. The cheek-expansions may possibly 
have been developed in those individuals living (during the period 
of specific malleability to which I have before alluded) in localities 
where there was an abundance of nutritious food, which was 
devoured immoderately by them, and eventually stored, in 
the form of fat, in their distended cheeks. On the other hand, the 
Mayas Kassa at the same evolutive period may have lived in 
localities where food was equally but sparingly distributed through- 
out the year, and the need for the storage of fat did not exist. At 
present, however, it seems hardly Hkely that the two races should 
remain distinct, for individuals of each are found promiscuously in 
the same locality, and even on the same tree. 

I am thus inclined to suppose that Mayas Tjaping can 
give birth to young both with and without cheek expansions, and 
to any intermediate form, i.e. with rudimentary " tjapings." Nor 
do I see any impossibility in the theory that from a Mayas 
Kassa a Mayas Tjaping may be bom, just as a human couple 

^ E. H. Giglioli. Studi Craniologid sut Chimfanse, etc.; ra. Annali 
Museo Civico di Genova. vol. iii. p. 56 Genoa, 1873. 

y Google 


of dark complexion may have fair children, and vice versa, accord- 
ing to the influence of dark or fair ancestors in the family tree 
of the two famihes. I, therefore, hold that only one species of 
orang-utan really exists — the Simia satyrus ; of which I distinguish 
two main varieties, retaining for them the native names of 
" Tjaping " and " Kassa." 

Orang-utans are tolerably common in the southern parts of 
Borneo, especicdly in the districts of Bandjarmasin, Pontianak, 
and Sambas. In Sarawak they are common on certain rivers, 
especially in the districts of the Sadong and the Batang Lupar. On 
the Sarawak liver, as I have said before, they are very rare ; it 
hcis even been stated that they are non-existent, but this is not 
so, and Ihaveheardof an orang-utan killed at Singhin,not far from 
Kuching. On Gunong Bungo it appears that they are always to be 
found. I maj' add that the Dyaks of the Upper Sarawcdi have 
special names for the orang-utans, and call the Mayas Kassa 
" Sekao " and the Mayas Tjaping, "Mara." According to Mr. 
St, John {Op. cit. ii. p. 156), orangs are also found in the Muput 
country on the Limbang. 

The orang-utan inhabits the hills and plains alike ; but does 
not care to climb very high up the mountains, cold not being at all 
to its liking. On the Marop hills, at an altitude of from 300 to 500 
feet or so, it is very frequent ; but it loves also the lowlands and 
marshes along the Lingga and Sadong rivers, especially where 
pandani grow, for it delights in the " cabbages " of these plants, 
as well as those of various palms. 

In captivitjr, orangs are generally badly kept, being overfed 
with sweet fruits, especially bananas. In a wild state they feed 
largely on leaves and buds, and sour, astringent, and, to our 
taste, wholly unpalatable fruits, very often unripe. They like padi 
(unhusked rice), and I believe this, with acorns, chestnuts, bread, and 
potatoes, would be the most wholesome food we can give them in 
our own climate. The creatures often do great damage to the rice 
fields, when the rice is ripe. Usually strictly arboreal, they descend 
at such times to the ground, and, on reaching the padi fields, collect 
a big sheaf of rice with the heavy ripe ears, and, holding it under 
the arm, get back to their tree, up which they climb, and enj oy their 
plunder in peace and comfort on their nests. They do much injury 
to the fruit-trees, and are especially fond of durians, committing 
great ravages among them even when unripe. The Dyaks were, 
therefore, much delighted when we killed them, though theBantcng 
Dyaks are an exception. They venerate the animal for a singular 
reason. Once upon a time, the legend runs, enemies came to attack 
their village, but the orang-utans, moved by curiosity, showed them- 
selves in large numbers, and the enemy, mistaking them for men, 
were frightened and took to their heels. 

y Google 

y Google 


It is not improbable that in many districts in Borneo the orang 
has been driven away or exterminated by man, eepedally where 
the deadly " sumpitan " is used ; for it is so large an animal, and 
so seldom attempts to fly when it is discovered, that it is easily 
killed. It is never dangerous, except when wounded ; but then its 
bites are very severe, quite capable of taking off the lingers of a 
man's hand or inflicting other severe injuries. There would, too, 
be small chance for a weaponless man who found himself in 
the grip of the long and powerful arms. I have heard the story 
told of a Dyak who was caught by an orang-utan, and who saved 
himself by pretending to be dead. When irritated a Mayas 
becomes furious ; its neck sweUs out from the distention of its great 
laryngeal sacs, and it emits fearful howls. 

The Mayas has few enemies excepting man, being undoubtedly 
the strongest animal in the forests of Borneo, Tales are told of 
its fights with the bear, the crocodile, and the python, all of which 
are vanquished by it and killed by its formidable bites. 

According to my hunter, Atzon, orang-utans are sometimes 
attacked by ague, or some similar intermittent fever, and he 
asserts that he has seen them shivering on their nests when the 
temperature could not account for this. 

I have not ascertained how and when these animals drink. In 
a country where rain is so frequent, it is very probable that they 
do not take the trouble to descend from the trees to drink in a 
neighbouring stream, but manage to obtain sufficient water from 
the dripping leaves, using the highly extensible Jower lip for this 

It has been stated that, when wounded, a Mayas will endeavour 
to stay the bleeding by applying its hand to the wound ; and 
some have gone so far as to assert that it dresses the latter with 
leaves. My experience does not bear this out ; but I have seen a 
wounded orang examine its wound in a very human manner, and 
even touch it with its fingers, apparently moved more by curiosity 
than by anything else. 

Even the biggest orang-utans move freely on the branches of 
trees, but if they have to pass overhead from one tree to another 
they always try the branches beforehand, to make sure that they 
can support their weight. They climb with ease the big trunks of 
trees, embracing them with their long and powerfularms, I have, 
however, noticed that if a creeper is handy theyprefer it, and ascend 
it with great rapidity. They make better progress, in short, by 
the lianas than by the tree-trunk, especially if the latter be thick. 
When they want to get along rapidly they use their arms chiefly, 
the feet serving more to make their jumps secure than anything 

In the orang-utan, compared with man, the proportions of the 

y Google 



limbs are reversed. The arms take the place of legs, and become 
the principal organs of locomotion. Their movements in passing 
from one tree to another are very similar to those of the Wa-wa 
(Hylobaies), but much slower. On sloping branches the animal 
walks on its feet and helps itself on by its hands. On the ground 
they are very clumsy, for they cannot extend the foot so as to 

Fig. 39- 

place the sole on the ground, but walk on the external edge of the 
foot, which is kept bent. The two hands are applied to the ground 
by the knuckles, the hand being closed and the fingers bent. This 
is a well-known character of the Anthropomorpha, although the 
gorilla approaches man much more nearly in this respect, having 
feet better adapted for terrestrial progression and capable of being 

y Google 


set almost flat on the ground. In the orang-utan the adaptation 
to an arboreal existence is so far developed that its hands and feet 
have become very Hke hooks, and without much muscular exertion 
the creature can suspend itself by them to the branches. In fact, 
the phalanges themselves are curved, and it keeps its fingers always 
naturally bent. The palm of the hand and the sole of the foot 
can never be stretched, nor can they be placed flat on the ground. 

The Dyaks tell many a tale about women being carried off by 
orang-utans. No doubt the thing in itself is possible, for an adult 
male Mayas is certainly strong enough to carry off a woman. 
But that this actually happens, and happens, moreover, from sexual 
reasons, is an assertion which only deserves to be left as the subject 
of a romance to some Dyak novehst of the future. 

The best season for hunting orang-utans is when the fruit is 
getting ripe,and it is then not difficult to find five or six, or even more, 
on the same tree. During the time I was at Marop, the Mayas 
were wandering all over the forest in search of food, and it was 
therefore less easy to find them, still less to find several together. 
Yet I saw as many as eight in one day, and four together on the 
same tree. 

The Mayas Tjaping is less common than the Mayas Kassa; 
but the Dyaks affirm that many of the former are seen about the 
villages when the durians are ripe. 

I have never seen orang-utans throw branches of trees at the 
hunter who is after them, but in passing from one tree to another 
they may easily detach dead branches by their weight, or when 
wounded in their nests may shake down branches already detached. 
Wallace, however {Op. cii. i. p. 87), teUs us that on one occasion 
he was obliged to get away from under a durian tree on account 
of the shower of branches and spiny fruits which a female orang- 
utan with several small ones endeavoured to throw at him. No 
naturalist traveller merits more implicit faith than does Wallace, 
and certainly I am not the one to throw any doubt on his state- 
ment. Nor does the case appear to me improbable ; for it is in accord- 
ance with the nature of many apes and monkeys to become much 
excited when disturbed with fruit or other food in their possession, 
and in the instance related by Wallace, the orang, seeing a man 
approach the tree, evidently thought that he was going to drive 
her away, and prevent her from eating the durians, a fruit to which 
they are extremely partial. 

Again, I have never noticed that orangs seek cover behind the 
brandies when a hunter takes aim at them with his gun. On the 
contrary, I have always seen them lean forward and even get clear 
of branches to see better when a man approaches, prompted, no 
doubt, by a sentiment of curiosity to get a better view of a being 
whom they certainly must perceive bears a considerable resem- 

y Google 


blance to themselves. It is not easy to imagine what ideas the 
orang-utans may form of us. I will not, however, deny that in 
some instances they may have a notion of the effects of a gun, and 
associate the possibihty of being struck by a missile with the presence 
of man. The experience of these creatures in such a matter may 
vary in different parts of the country and be strictly individual, 
as their degree of intelhgence may also vary individually. And 
truly the orang-utans, who are so generally variable, also present, 
independent of age or sex, a remarkable variation in their cranial 
capacity ; whence it ma3' be argued that their intellectual develop- 
ment cannot be uniform. Thus Professor Giglioli, in his studies 
on the orang-utan crania which I collected {Of. cit. pp. 138-9), 
calls attention to the small cerebral capacity of the female Mayas 
which I shot on April 30, 1867 (that from which I took the 
fcetus which was preserved). This female may be considered as 
microcephalous, its cranial capacity not reaching 304 cubic centim. ; 
whilst that of the young male which I killed at the same time, and 
which T took to be her offspring, gave a cerebral capacity of 457 
cubic centim., i.e. more than the maximum (456 cubic centim.) 
found by Professor Giglioli in the adult Mayas Kassa. Another 
male Mayas Kassa of the same age as the one just mentioned, 
or showing, at all events, the same stage of dental development, 
had a cranial capacity of 346 cubic centim. 

The maximum cerebral capacity found in my series of orang- 
utan skulls was that of a' perfectly adult Mayas Tjaping, which 
measured 503 cubic centim. 

The orang-utan inhabits not only Borneo, but Sumatra, where 
both the race with cheek expansions and that without them are 
also found. In Sumatra, however, these animals are certainly much 
less abundant. During a stay of several months I made there in 
the province of Padang, in the year 1878, I never even heard them 
mentioned. It has been met with in the province of Tapannuli 
at Rambum, and at Siboga on the west coast, near the equator.' 

In the Zoological Museum at Florence is the skeleton of a young 
orang-utan, described as coming from Palembang, on the east coast 
of Sumatra, It is remarkable on account of the extraordinary 
curvature of the second phalanges of the toes, and for the length of 
the first, which is much greater than that I have seen in any of the 
skeletons of specimens from Borneo of a corresponding age, I do 
not, however, see any reason for separating specifically the Suma- 
tran from the Bomean orang-utan, , 

The presence of this anthropoid in both islands is certainly one 
of the best arguments towards proving a past land connexion 

' Mr, N, Ridley thinks it possible that the orang exists in the Malay 

Peninsula, where the natives appear to know it by the name of " Mowas," 

which may, perhaps, be the same as " Mayas " (Cf. Natural Science, vi, p, 23). 


y Google 



between them, the orang being a land animah and devoid of 
the means ol crossing the wide expanse of sea which now divides 
Sumatra and Borneo. 

Of the orang-utan fcetas obtained by me at Marop, and already 
alluded to, Professor Trinchese, who has published an accurate 
description of it,' writes : — " Its aspect greatly surprises every- 
one who sees it on account of its extraordinary resemblance to a 
human fcetus ; a likeness rendered still greater by the nakedness 

of the skin, which a One down or lanugo is insufficient to conceal." ^ 
This fostus is a female, and its development corresponds to a human 
fcetus between the fifth and sixth month of uterine existence. 
The forehead is not receding, and the shape of the head has been 
described as like that of an Eskimo. The neck is short, and the 
nose does not project. The toes are very long, a character quite 

' Annali del Museo Civico di Genova," vol. i. p. 9, ; tav. i,, ii., iii. 
* Loc. ciL, p. 35. 


y Google 


sufficient by itself to distinguish it from a human fcetus. TJie arms, 
hands, thighs, and legs are similar to those of man. Even the foot 
is formed on the type of the human one up to the base of the toes, 
but thence differs in the great length of the latter and in the position 
and proportions of the hallux, which is also devoid of a nail/ 

From the above Professor Trinchese draws the conclusion that 
the orang-utan is the more similar to man the younger it is, because 
the foetus of the former has a greater resemblance to man than that 
which exists between the latter and an adult orang. 

As Borneo is one of the few places on the globe where anthropoid 
apes are found, the query naturally arises whether in the past 
beings may not have existed on this great island more resembling 
man than the present orang-utans. In other words whether 
Borneo may not have been the place, or one of the places, where 
the precursors of man had their origin. 

In the absence of any positive evidence on this point, my ex- 
perience with the orang-utans and my knowledge of the country 
in which they hve is, perhaps, insufficient for me to offer a mere 
negative or aihrniative opinion on this question. I may, how- 
ever, here express eis succinctly els possible some of my vievre on 
evolution, and on the causes which may have given origin to the 
varied and innumerable forms of animal life. To these ideas some 
allusion has already been made in the foregoing pages; but I shall 
now ask my reader's leave to dilate upon them somewhat more 
fully, and to devote the remainder of this chapter to a scientific 
subject which, I trust, may not be found out of place in this book. 

To begin vrith, I must declare myself an adherent of the theory 
that the environment, in the widest sense of the word, has been the 
most powerful and principal agent in causing animals, as well as 
plants, to assume their present form and structure. Tha^ the 
organized beings now living have been originated through the action 
exerted on them by the external world, is an old theory which was 
propounded by a few elect naturahsts, who had not much faith 
in the creation of living beings simply by the action of a super- 
natural will. 

With the appearance of Darwin's memorable book on the Origin 
of Species, the above-mentioned theory retired to the background, 
and became, one may say, almost forgotten, so obscured was it 
by the fascinating theory of natural and sexual selection. 

At the present time, however, a tendency to return to the older 
theory is gaining ground, owing to the grave doubts which have 

■^ On this point I may quote the following from Hovelacque et Hervi, 
Precis d'Anthropohgie, p. 177: — " Wyman a reconnu que sur I'embryon 
humain long d'un pouce environ, le gros orteil, au lieu d'etre paralMle aux 
doigts, forme un angle avec le c6t4 du pied, correspondant ainsi par la posi- 
tion avec rStat permanent de I'orteil chez les Quadrumanes." 

y Google 



arisen on all sides as to the theory that natural selection is tlie sole 
means capable of explaining the raison d'etre of the specitic characters 
of living organisms. 

According to the theory of the plasmation of hving beings 
through the action exerted on them by the environment, every 
species would be the product of the physical forces and stimuli 
to which its remote ancestors had been subjected. For tliis reason 
every animal and e\-ery plant ought to bear in its own structure 
the traces of its first origin. Even in familiar talk it is generally 

admitted that each chmate has left its mark on the organisms 
living within its influence. 

Tlie varied forms assumed by those groups of individuals called 
by naturalists species, would be merely the result of a plasmative 
force exerted by surrounding conditions on primitive beings ; 
and from a certain point of view it might be said that species 
represent the impression of which the stimuH, in general, have been 
the stamp or matrix. 

Thus a careful and minute investigation of the structure of any 
given species ought to lead to the knowledge of the circumstances 

y Google 


under the influence of which it has been formed, and reveal the 
climatic surroundings in which it was plasmated, and consequently 
the region where it made its first appearance. 

A very grave objection, however, apparently arises to oppose the 
adoption of so fascinating an hypothesis. 

Notwithstanding investigations and experiments of all kinds 
it has been found that species at the present moment are little, 
if at all, modified by the effects of their surroundings. The stimuH 
have now but very slight power in the modification of individuals, 
and adaptation to exceptional or abnormal conditions of existence 
is not met with in that degree which would be required by my 
hypothesis. Indeed, we may go still further and assert that hving 
beings vary very shghtly or not at all at the present time, and that 
they perish sooner than adapt themselves to new conditions of life. 
A sufficient case to the point is that of all tropical plants which are 
cultivated in hothouses, which would infallibly perish if exposed, 
even for a single day, to our outside air during winter. 

The Darwinian theory of evolution has caused the belief for the 
time being that accidental variabiHty (sport) exerted an all-important 
and preponderating influence on the fonnation of new species, 
and it has been thought that innate variability, helped by natural 
and sexuaJ selection, has been sufficient to produce the entire series 
of organised forms which now exist or have existed. The Darwinian 
theory does not, however, explain the reason of such an innate 
tendency towards variation in organisms. 

Another argument strongly against the hypothesis that organisms 
may have been modified by stimuli is found in the absolutely 
negative resuhs obtained by experiments. 

Rabbits have been kept and made to breed entirely in the dark 
for many generations, and not the slightest trace of impaired 
or modified vision has been detected in the later offspring. In the 
same way mice have had their tails amputated, and rabbits their 
ears chpped short from generation to generation, but never a mouse 
has been bom tailless, or a rabbit without ears. 

There are certain well-known mutilations and deformations 
which have been practised on man himself for thousands of years, 
and yet no indication of modification of the parts thus treated has 
been observed. 

Moreover, if at the present time isolated individuals assume 
some pecuhar character or modify some organ, whether by use, or 
as the result of the conditions in which they lived or were experi- 
mentally subjected to, the acquired peculiarity or the modified 
organ is not transmitted to their offspring. Thus the most essential 
basis is wanting for the support of the theory of the response of 
the organism to the sensations received, which ought to constitute 
the basis of the theory of plasmation according to the environment. 
' 209 p 

y Google 


If, however, new forms of adaptation are not produced under 
our own eyes, it must be admitted that, from time to time, accidental 
varieties, or deviations from the common type, appear in Nature, 
for we every day see horticulturists obtain new varieties of flowers 
and fruit, and breeders and fanciers new kinds of cattle, dogs, 
poultry, and pigeons. 

But careful experiments have shown that the supposed variabi- 
lity of species at the present time is more apparent than real. In 
trying to demonstrate the variabihty of species by exhibiting the 
various forms that a given species assumes in Nature, we only prove 
that it has varied, and thus confound polymorphism with variabihty.* 

Experiments and cultivation do not thus confirm the existence 
in living beings of that extensive variability which many naturalists 
pretend to believe ; and in any case, such variability is not now of 
an adaptive kind. Therefore, contrary to the present prevaiUng 
tendency to attribute a powerful action to variability during the 
existing period, and to consider every species as inconstant, I hold 
the opposite opinion, namely, that at the present time species do 
not vary in Nature, returning thus to the old idea of the nearly 
absolute fixity of existing species.^ 

The indisputable fact, however, remains that through cultivation 
and artificial selection in breeding new forms can be obtained. 

The circumstances, however, which at the present time are 
associated with the production of domestic varieties of animals and 
plants, are of a very different nature from those which must have 
brought about variation through adaptation. Thus, for example, 
if a new variety of Primula sinensis makes its appearance with a 
coroUa frilled, jagged, or more divided than in the wild form, this 
is not because such new characters correspond to any special want or 
necessity of the plant, or because it is advantageous for it to assume 
them. In the forms produced or obtained by breeders, or by 
horticulturists, the first indication which has led to the formation 
of the new variety or race has in every case cropped out accidentally, 
without any ascertained cause or reason, and quite independently 
of any act or wish of the producer. The latter has merely taken 
advantage of a first tendency or plan of variation wliich has 
naturally manifested itself, and, by preser\'ing and causing the 
individuals who have shown such a tendency to interbreed, has 
succeeded in increasing and exaggerating the sport. But who can 

' I base this assertion, especially on the well-known experiments of 
Naegeli on Hieracium. 

* I should not consider as an adaptation of recent formation the case of 
some plants which undergo certain changes if grown in new conditions, 
as, for instance, that seen in alpine species planted in lowlands. This is 
merely a latitude in already acquired characters, constant in any given 


y Google 


produce this form of intentional selection in Nature ? And who 
has given the first impulse to the "accidental" production of a 
new variation ? I do not deny that even at the present time some 
form of adaptation can be artificially obtained. Thus horses better 
adapted to draw than to run, and vice versa, have been produced ; 
but even in these cases man has merely taken advantage of an 
innate tendency in the horse, and has selected for interbreeding 
those animals which, quite independent of any action on his part, 
were bom with one or with the other predisposition. 

The means employed by man to obtain varieties consist princi- 
pally in endeavours to diminish the power and energy of conserva- 
tive heredity, which obhges descendants to reproduce forms 
identical with their progenitors. Such means are hybridizing and 
interbreeding with different species or varieties ; and, above all, a 
continued interbreeding of blood relations, descendants from the 
same stock {the principal cause, perhaps, of duplication). Finally, 
added to this is intentional artificial selection by man— a factor 
which plays no part in Nature.* 

The new forms thus obtained by cultivation in no case satisfy 
a want newly developed in a plant or animal ; they revea! instead 
merely a tendency towards independence so far as regards the 
established laws of heredity ; and, indeed, many are probably merely 
forms which have assumed some of the so-called ancestral or atavic 
characters, i.e. those which formerly existed in progenitors of the 
species and now reappear.'' 

I do not, however, entirely exclude the possibility that at the 
present time some traces of true adaptation may yet be obtained. 
But what I wish to show is that in all cases the actual power of 
adaptation in organisms is at the present day well nigh non-existent 
as compared with what they must have possessed in the past. It is 
sufficient to give one case in point — that of the mangroves, trees 
which live with their roots constantly submerged in salt water. 
Would it be possible now to cause any of the innumerable trees 
which grow in these tropical forests away from the sea to live and 
flourish in salt water ? From time immemorial fruits of all sorts 
of species have been carried by the rivers to the sea and deposited 
at their mouths in favourable conditions for germination, yet, 

' In many garden vegetables in which the hypertrophy of certain parts 
is the chief feature, as in cabbages, carrots, radishes, etc., it may be suspected 
that cultivation in a soil rich in nitrogenous compounds has produced the 
development of micro-organisms, which through some special form of symbiosis 
may be the cause of such hypertrophy. 

^ As an example I may say that I have obtained specimens of 
Cyclamen persimm with perfectly straight peduncles and erect flowers, 
with a corolla with open and horizontal petals, just as in a normal primula, 
and as beyond doubt was the case in the progenitor of the cyclamen. 

y Google 


notwithstanding this, no new estuarine plant has been formed in 
our times ; thus fully proving the reluctance in existing organisms 
to abandon the prerogatives with which the past with cumulative 
effect has endowed them. 

Not admitting that at the present day species can vary, or that 
organisms are capable of an appreciable degree of adaptabihty to 
surrounding conditions, and at the same time holding natural and 
se.xual selection as insufficient to explain all the phenomena of 
evolution, the question arises in what way has evolution taken 
place ? 

The answer appears to me easy and obvious. What does not 
happen now can nevertheless have happened in the past,' 

I take it to be a great philosophical error to persist in considering 
past biological and telluric phenomena as having been produced by 
forces identical in nature and intensity with those in action at the 
present day, just as I believe it a mistake to draw too close a parallel 
between what happened in earlier geological periods with what 
daily takes place under our own eyes. It would be almost tanta- 
mount to arguing that a baby is in every way identical with an 
old man ! 

As far as life is concerned, one of the chief differences between 
the present and the past in my opinion exists in the intensity with 
which the force known as " conservative heredity " manifests itself, 
obliging modem organisms to transmit unaltered to their descend- 
ants the shape, colours, pecuharities, in short, the entire characters 
which were transmitted to them by their ancestors. This is the 
reason why now living beings are, so to speak, fixed and immutable, 
and cannot assume absolutely new forms. For the very same 
reason external agents with their stimuli cannot succeed in producing 
important modifications in the stimulated organs during the hfetime 
of individuals, and much less can modifications casually obtained 
in the organism during life be transmitted to its progeny. If, as 
an instance, we take a monkey which has been trained to stand 
erect on its legs, and which has also acquired the requisite muscular 
development for such a gait, it can never transmit to its offspring 
either the acquired faculty of standing erect, or the muscular 
development thus obtained. Thus heredity is the obstacle which 
prevents variation in species now living, or permits it in so small 
a degree, that even the accumulation of small variations during 
myriads of years could never have rendered possible the evolution 
of the organic world, if it has to be thus accounted for. 

If, however, one considers that the action of conservative here- 
dity cannot have been always the same, that, necessarily feeble in 

■■ The first mentioii of this hypothesis of mine was briefly made in a paper 
I pubhshed in the Bulletli«o delta R. SocieiA Toscana dOrticultura, Anno 
xiv. (1889), bearing the title " Fiorilwa deU'Atnorphophal/us Htanum." 

y Google 


the primordial epoch ot life (when, as we may say, the oi^anic world 
was young), it must have grown with time, accumulating and in- 
creasing in successive generations, it will be possible to reconcile 
the theory of the " permanent impressionability " of organisms 
(i.e. to the stimuli exerted on them by external conditions) with 
belief in the aU but complete immutability of species now living. 

That at the present time the power of heredity is such as to put 
great obstacles in the way of variation is a fact which cannot be 
denied ; that in the past it had not always the same force cannot 
be directly proven, but can easily be credited ; and that the further 
we go back towards the origin of life the less strong it must have 
been, is only a logical sequitur of the admitted strength of the force 
heredity now exerts. 

Thus during the infancy of the organic world, there being then 
no power to counteract the conservation of new characters acquired 
by organisms, the latter must have been not only susceptible of 
considerable morphological malleability during their hfetime, but 
must have also been capable of transmitting to their descendants 
any new characters of an advantageous kind they had acquired. 

The period of a human lifetime reproduces on a small scale what 
must have happened in gigantic proportions during the evolution of 
living beings. No one can deny that infancy has peculiarities which 
are not possessed by old age. And it is equally true that during the 
first period of life the force of habit is less powerful than in adult age. 
In early youth animals can be domesticated or tamed, children learn 
with facility, and even their limbs are phable and capable of modi- 
fication. With age heredity acts more strongly, instincts prevail, 
and adaptation to new conditions of existence and to new ideas 
become more dif&cult ; in a word, it is much less easy to combat 
hereditary tendencies. 

What can have happened at an epoch when heredity did not 
exist is hard to infer with precision. In the absence of this factor in 
the evolution of hving beings, almost any change or variation in the 
latter must have been possible. There is even no necessity to sup- 
pose that in the remotest past the offspring need have been neces- 
sarily similar to its progenitors. Every new generation of organ- 
isms might differ from that which preceded it, so that " species," 
in the sense in which the word is now used, may have been then a 
term without meaning. 

In that epoch, geologically of .the remotest antiquity, light, heat, 
drought, abundant rams, winds, the nature of the soil, colours, the 
stimuli of insects, e( similia, may aU have contributed to promote 
modification in the organisms placed under their influence. This 
would have been the Piasmative Epoch — the epoch of the auto- 
creation of species. 

Thus I attribute to such causes not only the special structures 


y Google 


of aquatic, land, desert,and forest plants, but also the infinite number 
of modifications in floral organs which carry the impression of 
stimuli exerted by insects. To the action of environment I attribute 
also the cases of mimicry ; and I have extended my theory even 
further, holding that moral impressions, and especially individual 
volition, have exercised a great influence in the evolution of organ- 

It is only by admitting a pre-established plan that the existence 
of certain forms and certain colours in some animals can be accounted 
for. And this pre-established plan in the case of certain creatures 
may have had its origin in the desire to attain a given end ; a desire 
often caused by want or necessity, but at times by a love for the 
beautiful, by pleasure, vanity, fear, or any of the many passions 
and desires which agitate organized beings. For the genesis of 
species to have taken place in accordance with the above theory, it 
is necessary to assume that organisms possessed an inclination to 
vary, or to allow themselves to be influenced by stimuh, one might 
say almost without direct need, and in a manner precisely contrary 
to that which occurs at the present time when individuals and 
species do not vary, or, rather, cannot adapt themselves to new 
conditions of existence, even when the need exists. 

It is, nevertheless, not impossible that in some instances certain 
forms may have made their appearance suddenly, and may quite as 
suddenly have adapted themselves to a new condition of the environ- 
ment. This is the hypothesis of " Neogenesis," as it has been called 
by Professor Mantegazza, in favour of which there are fewer facts 
than for any other hypothesis of the kind. And yet it is the one 
which has the most attractions for me. If we accept this hypo- 
thesis it becomes quite unnecessary to admit a continuous deriva- 
tion of organisms one from the other by slow modifications ; because 
the connecting links which yet exist, or are revealed by paltcontology, 
would be the result of hybridism l>etween two prototypes of sudden 
formation, whose reproduction was not impeded because it had no 
force of heredity to contend with. 

'The essence of my hypothesis consists in the argument that the 
power of heredity is so great at the present period as to render varia- 
tion in hving organisms very feeble, if not impossible ; that conse- 
quently adaptation to surrounding conditions is now aJl but nil ; and 
that for this reason any modifications which may affect the individual 
during life are not transmitted to its progeny. On the other hand, 
in far distant geological times, adaptability to surroundings and 
sensitiveness in reaction to stimuli must have been greater the 
further back the epoch during which such influences were active. 

' Cf. Beccari. " Le Capanne ed i Giardini deU'Amblyornis inornata"; 
in Annali del Museo Civtco di Genova, vol. ix. p, 382 (1877). 

y Google 


For heredity has gone on increasing with the succession of geological 
epochs, whilst on the other hand the force of plasmation has gradu- 
cdly grown weaker, and ceased entirely at the present day. 

Even those who decline to attribute importance to the force of 
heredity because it cannot be experimentally demonstrated, or, as 
some express it, because it is merely evoked to interpret phenomena 
otherwise unexplainable, are compelled to admit that between the 
reproductive phenomena of organisms in the primordial epoch of 
the formation of species and those of to-day a difference must exist. 
It is not within the bounds of credibility that all the reproductive 
phenomena can have become manifest in the very same mode in the 
primordial generations as after the lapse of thousands and thousands 
of generations. Inotherwords, it seems tomeabold thing to assert 
that no change can have taken place in the effects of fecundation 
since the first times when the parts forming the nuclei of organisms 
of opposite sex met, united, and subsequently parted, to give origin 
to the embryo of a new creature, and now, when the process of 
fecundation and development has been reproduced for an indefinite 
period and through an incalculable number of generations. It 
appears to me that the stability obtained in the phenomena of re- 
production, the primary cause of the stability of species, is a conse- 
qiience of the number of times these phenomena have repeated 
themselves ; and also that the stability of the morphological char- 
acters of individuals must be proportional in any given species to 
the number of the generations of each, and to the length of time 
since their specific entity was defined. It cannot be doubted that 
in the nucleus of the reproductive cell are comprised all the here- 
ditary and physical characteristics of the organisms to which that 
, cell belonged. Now, as it is inferred that every part and every organ 
of any given living creature must have contributed to the formation 
of its reproductive cells, into which infinitely minute particles repre- 
senting each part and each organ must have been carried, it is pre- 
sumable that in the far remote epochs of specific plasmation, when 
organisms were assiuning the shapes they have since retained, that the 
transference into the ceU nuclei of the infinitely minute particles of 
protoplasm or micellse representing the various organs and parts of 
the hving being was partial and incomplete, so that, aU the parts 
of the parental organism not being fully represented, extensive 
variation became possible ; but as generations succeeded to genera- 
tions the transference of the protoplasmic micellEe representing the 
various parts of the parent into the tissue of the reproductive nuclei 
became more general and complete, and the tendency to variation 
naturally diminished gradually. At the present time, after an 
infinite number of generations, the aforesaid transmission must have 
become so complete that the held is closed to variation, and living 
organisms are obliged to reproduce themselves with constant and 

y Google 


well established characters. It is on this hypothesis that, accord- 
ing to my views, the theory of heredity ought to rest. 

Moreover, the continuous and repeated segmentation of the 
nuclei, and the equal division of their chromatine in the daughter 
cells, has been the cause, most undoubtedly, of the uniform distribu- 
tion of the characters of the entire organism in the cells imbued with 
reproductive power, whether sexual or gemmoidal ; consequently, 
the oftener the segmentation has been repeated, the more perfect 
will be the reproduction of the organism with constant characters. 
And this consideration also points to an acceptation of the theory 
that hereditary force must have gone on increasing with time, in due 
proportion to the number of generations which a given individual 
can reckon in its genealogical tree. 

As far as plants are concerned, it is not alone in the reproductive 
cells that the elementary constituents of the entire individual are 
centred, but also in momerous other cells disseminated in the more 
vital portion of the plant, that is, in the cambium of every vascular 
hundle. Each of these cells virtually represents an entire individual, 
and probably more specially the organ of which it is a portion ; thus 
to render possible the accumulation of the characteristics of the 
entire oi^anism in the reproductive cells it would sufhce that there 
should be a transference into these of the micellte of a limited 
number of such cells. When presented under this aspect, the theory 
of pangenesis appears much more simple. 

And now let us return to Borneo, and, with facts and deduction 
to guide us, endeavour to find out whether there is any probability 
that ancestors of Man ha\'e existed on that island. 

Admitting species to be dependent on chmate, can Man have 
been evolved in Borneo ? Can the orang-utan be an archaic form 
of mankind ? 

The opinion that the races of Man are climatic productions is 
a very old one ; and that this may originally have been true 
can hardly be objected to by evolutionists who accept the theory of 
adaptability to the environment. Only^on account of the inter- 
mingling of hving races, brought about by various causes — such a 
behef is now no longer altogether borne out by facts. 

But even admitting for the moment that the indications furnished 
by climate are not sufficient to give us the clue to Man's origin, there 
are other means of discovering the place of his first appearance. 
Giving due consideration to the laws which rule the geographical 
distribution of animals on the surface of the earth, it is difficult not 
to believe that Man had his origin in the s;mie regions as those in 
which we iind the anthropoid apes. Indeed, according to the Dar- 
winian theory of descent, not only the species, but also the genera 
of a given group of hving beings must be the direct offspring of a 
common ancestor ; and thus, even when the descendants of the 

y Google 


latter are scattered over distant and widely separated regions, 
their progenitors must originally have occupied the same area. 

This is the reason why both geologists and anthropologists have 
always considered it possible that at some past epoch Borneo was 
the habitat of an anthropomorph more nearly allied to Man than to 
the living orang-utan. This idea was mentioned to me by Sir 
Charles Lyell, when I was in London in 1865, preparing for my 
expedition to Borneo. The great geologist then urged me to explore 
the caves in that island, being of opinion that important materials 
and remains of very great value for the past history of Man might 
be found in them. He argued that as in Australia, where 
marsupials predominate, all the fossil mammals yet found belong to 
that group, so in Borneo, where the orang-utan now lives, one 
would probably discover the remains of some extinct species 
belonging to the same order. The exploration of the caves in 
Borneo has, however, not as yet given the expected results.^ 

In any case, even admitting freely the possibility that anthro- 
pomorphs distinct from the orang-utan (and I must add, also, from 
the gibbons) once lived in Borneo, the question remains whether 
they could have been the true precursors of Man. To this I answer 
in the negative. While on the one hand there is nothing to dis- 
prove the idea that man may have existed in Borneo from times 
of the remotest antiquity, there is on the other hand nothing to 
suggest the probabihty that the island has been a fans et origo of 
species of the genus Homo, though we find there all the requisites 
for the plasmation of the genus Simia. 

. The theory of adaptabihty to the environment requires a cor- 
relation between the characters acquired by organisms and the 
stimuli or exciting causes, therefore certain given conditions of 
existence must have produced corresponding modifications in the 
living beings which have been under their influence. Now, the 
more marked differential characters which exist between the mor- 
phology of Man and that of the orang-utan are evidently due to 
different conditions of existence ; for the first is modified for a 
terrestrial, the second for an arboreal life. This divergence in 
adaptation is the principal, if not the only cause of the generic 
characters in which Homo differs from Simia. 

To explain why certain creatures have adopted an erect postirre 
and bipedal progression we must assume, a priori, that they 
happened to live where such posture and such manner of 

1 Recently in Java the fossil remains of an anthropomorph of the highest 
scientific interest have been discovered, and the name of Pithecanthropus 
ereclus has been given by the discoverer, Dr. Eugene Dubois, to this extinct 
creature. But the remains as yet found are too few and imperfect to be of 
much aid to definite conclusions on the history of the primitive evolution 
of Man. 


y Google 


locomotion was both possible and advantageous. In primitive 
anthropomorphs, if the necessity of escaping from a foe was 
experienced in a coimtry covered with forest, the way of escape 
was manifestly by chmbing up trees. If, instead, the ground 
was bare, safety was sought by flight, and the main efforts must 
have been directed to getting over the ground by the use of the 
hind limbs. In these efforts to progress bipedally, the muscles 
which are attached to the pelvis were certainly those most put in 
action, and this would account for their greater development, with 
the result of still further facilitating the erect posture. 

As the assumption of an erect posture has more especially differ- 
entiated Man from monkeys, it is but natural that the conformation 
of the pelvis, and the de\'eiopment of the muscles which are attached 
to it, should constitute one of the principal morphological distinc- 
tions between Man and anthropomorphs, because a basin-shaped 
pelvis and largely developed gluteal muscles are a consequence of 
the erect posture. 

Another most important result derived from the assumption of 
an erect posture is, I bold, the great development which the brain 
has been able to acquire from the favourable position which the 
cranium has thus attained. The brain coming to be in the vertical 
hne, and not outside the centre of gravity, there is nothing to 
hinder a large increase in the volume and weight of this organ. 

Again, the hand being no longer used as a foot (if Man is supposed 
to be descended from a terrestrial rather than from an arboreal form) 
has been able to perfect itself in another direction, and to become 
the executive organ of the brain, placing Man, thus specially en- 
dowed, in a position far superior to that of all other animals.^ 

It is obvious that for the erect posture a primitive anthrof)Omorph 
must have needed a broad foot. Now such a structure and 
the peculiarities above mentioned can only have been assumed 
in a country where pedestrian locomotion was easy. For this reason 
it appears to me very improbable that primitive Man can have 
originated in the eminently forestal region to which Borneo belongs, 
a region wMch could not only never have promoted any aptitude 
for running or bipedal progression, but also could never have made 
him feel the need of a terrestrial {as opposed to an arboreal) exist- 
ence. I therefore believe that neither in Borneo nor in the neigh- 

' The character which piincipaUy distinguishes the human hand from 
that of anthropoids is the perfect opponabihty of the thumb to the index. Very 
singular in this respect is the coincidence of such a conformation, so far as 
regards its mechanical effects, with the action of the maxiUa and mandible 
of a granivorous bird, in which the bill has undoubtedly attained such a 
conformation by use. and by the necessity of collecting seeds and grains 
of plants. Why should not the stimulus caused by the necessity of collecting 
seeds, small tubers, molluscs, and other small food objects, have caused 
in man the opponabilitj' of the two first digits of the hand P 


y Google 


bouring forest regions could any anthropoid have attained that 
kind of perfection which would eventually transform it into Man. 

Indeed, I opine that if anthropoids different from the existing 
ones have lived in a past and remote epoch in Borneo, they must 
have got there from regions less covered by trees ; and I hold that 
instead of modif\'ing themselves towards the assumption of an 
erect gait, they would have deviated towards adaptation to an 
arboreal existence, unless, indeed, both Borneo and Sumatra once 
possessed a drier climate and a lesser extent of forest than they do 
now, as is the case with some African regions — a supposition hardly 
admissible when we consider the fossils found in the carboniferous 
formations of both these great islands, which would indicate ancient 
conditions of vegetation very similar to those of the present day. 

According to the ideas I uphold, the passage from a quadrupedal 
locomotion to a bipedal one is anterior to that which may be 
styled (fuadrumanous. The orang-utan in its peculiar structural 
development has, in a certain sense, surpassed that of Man, being the 
product of a land in which terrestrial is less advantageous than 
arboreal locomotion. Thus, if during the period of organic 
malteabiUty anthropoids who could freelv use their hind 
limbs for progression reached Borneo, where terrestrial locomotion 
was more difficult than an arboreal one, they would practise 
the latter more than the former, and their limbs would eventually 
show a corresponding modification. Thus the orang-utans in 
Borneo would have diverged from the old anthropoid type instead 
of approximating to it, and in this case the orang would be, not 
a progenitor, but a collateral of Man. 

To render probable the theory that Man has been derived from 
an arboreal anthropoid of the type of the orang-utan, it would be 
necessary to suppose that the feet of the latter, originally adapted 
to terrestrial progression and converted later into prehensile organs, 
should once more revert to their primitive terrestrial form. For 
this reason I have come to the conclusion that neither Borneo nor 
any portion of the Indo-Malayan forest region can ever have been 
suitable localities for the " humanization," if I mav so term it, of 
an anthropoid. After this conclusion the reader will naturally 
ask : " Where, then, do you beheve that Man made his first appear- 
ance ? " If such a query may be met with an hypothesis, the 
following is my opinion, based in a large measure on the above- 
mentioned considerations: — It is certain that Man, who before 
becoming such must once have belonged to the group of the anthro- 
poids, can only have had his origin in the centre of morphological 
development of that group. Man must, therefore, have made his 
first appearance within the tropics, and very probably in a region 
intermediate between the parts now inhabited by the goriUa, chim- 
panzee, and orang-utan. 


y Google 


The discovery in Java of the fossil remains of an anthropoid 
nearer to Man than any of those now Hving might suggest that 
island as one of the localities where anthropoids have become 
hmnanized ; but I hold many deductions concerning the fauna 
and flora of a country in past geological epochs which are based on 
the fossil remains found in its strata to be completely erroneous 
because the locahty where the fossil remains of a plant or of an 
animcd are found is, in most cases, not that in which one or the other 
formerly lived, but merely the place where their remains were 
eventually deposited, which may often be far distant from the 
locality whence they originally came. Thus, that fossil remains of 
Piihecanihropus were found in Java certainly does not prove, accord- 
ing to my views, that that creature hved on the island ; but 
merely shows that its remains were deposited where Java now is, 
when that island, during the volcanic disturbances it has experi- 
enced, emerged from the sea with its high mountains, and doubt- 
less caused other lands in the adjacent seas to be submerged. My 
objection to admitting that Java and Borneo may have been centres 
of hiimanization rests principally on the difficulties above men- 
tioned, that an exclusively forestal region must necessarily have 
been ill-suited to an anthropoid's assuming a bipedal means of pro- 
gression. Considering that tropical Africa produced those big 
anthropoids which in the structure of their limbs and better adap- 
tation to terrestrial locomotion approach nearest to the human 
type, considering again that on that continent were evolved the 
greater number of mammals provided with rapid means of terres- 
trial locomotion, I am of opinion that tropical Africa — or, rather, 
perhaps, a land of similar climatic conditions interposed between 
the African and the Asiatic continents, a land whose existence 
can alone explain facts otherwise unexplainable in the geogra- 
phical distribution of plants and animals— must have been the 
region where Man assumed his erect gait and bipedal progression. 

Even the colour of the skin may furnish arguments in favour of 
the hypothesis that Africa, or an ancient dependency of that con- 
tinent, may have been the region where anthropomorphs were 
transformed into man-like creatures ; for Africa is the land where 
mammals with black skins poorly provided with hair are most 
frequent, and it may be surmised that the first men were black, 
because they evolved from anthropomorphs of that colour. The 
black colour of African Man and his predecessors may be sup- 
posed to have been produced during the epoch' of morphological 
malleability by the combined action of the light and heat in the 
climate of tropical Africa, although at the present time cUmate 
hardly has any effect towards changing the colour of the complexion. 
Again, it may be conjectured that the white complexion may have 
been acquired by Man in a period when the environment still exerted 


y Google 


a certain amount oi plasmative force when, wandering northwards 
towards colder regions, he learnt to seek refuge in caves. The 
diminution of light may have caused a diminution in the cutaneous 
pigments ; and the lower temperature causing the blood to accu- 
mulate towards the periphery to compensate for the loss of heat on 
the surface of the body may have communicated the rosy tint to 
the skin. This colour is very rare in mammals, and combined with 
the scarcity of hair is only found, as far as I am aware, in a small 
and most remarkable hypogeal rodent of the deserts of Somahland, 
Heterocephalus glaber of RiippeU, and accidentally in the " white " 
elephants and in certain races of swine in which the black colour of 
the skin has disappeared, it seems, through breeding in covered 
styes in a cold climate, and thus under circumstances analogous 
to those in which the white skin may be conjectured to have appeared 
in Man. 

y Google 


Thb Malay Sampan — ^Excursion to Tanjong Datu — 'Pui-O Sampadien 
— The Dugong — ^A Pirate's Nesi^Asceni of Tanjong Datu — 
Lost in the Forest — Dyak Dogs — The Domestic Cat of Borneo 
— The Westernmost Extremity of Borneo — Marine Alg-e — -The 
Return Journey — An Enchanted Hill- — ^An Unexpected Noc- 
turnal Visit— Dangerous Food — -At Lundu — My First Attack 
of Malaria^ — ^Rivers between the Lundu and the Sarawak. 

ON my return from the Batang Lupar I was obliged to stay 
some time at Kuching, in order to arrange the considerable 
zoological and botanical collections which I had made during my 
exploration of that part of Borneo, and to pack them in readiness 
to be forwarded to Europe. My sampan, too, stood in consider- 
able need of repair before I could look upon it as in lit condition 
for the new excursions which I proposed making. 

The sampan is the boat generally used in Sarawak for river 
navigation, and also for short trips along the sea coast during fine 
weather. It has, I believe, a considerable resemblance to the canoes 
used on the great rivers of Cochinchina and Burma. That it has 
not had its origin in Borneo is evident from its name, which is 
Chinese. Sampans are dug-outs, made from the trunk of a single tree. 
The method of construction is very ingenious, because from a tree 
whose diameter is, let us say, a couple of feet, a boat may be made of 
twice that width. This is done by hollowing out the trunk immediate- 
ly the tree is felled to the size that its diameter permits, and regula- 
ting the shape according to certain rules well known to the Malay 
boat-builder, among which is the keeping of the sides of the craft 
much higher in the middle than at either end. It is widened by 
the apphcation of iire, an easy operation with green, flexible wood, 
which yields without sphtting under the action of heat. It is 
probably because this method of construction gives them a wide 
beam that Bornean boats are unprovided with outriggers, which 
are, in fact, not necessary. The one exception is in the north, where, 
in the Sulu sea, boats have outriggers. 

Other people in this part of the world, such as the Papuans and 
Polynesians, also use dug-out canoes made from a single tree trunk ; 
t)ut, not being widened out by the application of fire, their boats are 

y Google 


too narrow and too round in section, and are thus'very crank, out- 
riggers being an absolute necessity to prevent their being easily 

It is hardly likely that the above-mentioned method of making 
sampans has been invented in Borneo. Like many other industries, 
it has probably been imported from the Asiatic continent ; indeed, 
I believe that the same method of widening by fire is used in the 
manufacture of canoes in Burma and Siam. 

The sides of sampans are raised by a high strake or washboard, 
■which is connected to the body of the boat with wooden pegs. The 
seam is caulked with the soft bark of Melaleuca leucodendron, and a 
resinous mixture made with an oil called " kruing " (the product 
of Dipterocarpus Lowii, Hook.), to which is added resin reduced to 
a line powder. With these ingredients a sticky paste is formed, 
which is used like pitch, and renders the seams perfectly watertight. 
Sampans have generally a roofing of "kadjan,"a sort of matting 
made with palm or pandanus leaves, under which the men can 
paddle sheltered from rain or from the sun's rays. Amidships, too, 
there is usually a kind of cabin, somewhat hke that of a Venetian 
gondola, where one can lie down and sleep in comfort. Sampans 
are usually propelled by paddles (pengayu of the Malays), and 
have no rudder, being steered by one of the crew with his paddle 
when necessary', while at other times he paddles with the rest. 
The Malayan paddle has no pecuharities, and is not ornamented 
in any way, as are so often those of the Papuans and Polynesians. 
It IS used with the palm of one hand grasping the small transverse 
portion at the end of the handle, while the tapering part of the latter 
is gripped with the other hand.' 
' To my sampan I had added a sail, for during the monsoon then 
prevaihng I could even venture out to sea and coast ; a thing which 
would have been very imprudent in such a craft in any other season. 
Everything now being in readiness, I left Kuching at sunset on 
the thirteenth of June with a crew of five men, bound for Tanjong 

We slept at Santubong, and sailed early next morning, favoured 
by the land breeze. We were soon at Pulo Sampadien, a small 
i^and about thirteen miles west of the mouth of the Sarawak river. 
We landed to take in a supply of better water thaji that we had got 
at a small stream near the village of Santubong. The island is about 
two miles from the coast, and in the portion I explored is mostly 
formed of hmestone, regularly stratified, and in some places rising 
many feet out of the water and overhanging it. The hmestone is 
of a dark colour, with conchoidal fracture ; it is more or less schis- 

1 I have seen in Italy, on the Lake of Massaciuccoh, near Lucca, a paddle 
exactly hke the Malay one. 

y Google 


tose, and alternates with strata of sandstone containing pebbles of 
various kinds and nodules of iron pyrites. In some places these 
pebbles are small or broken up, and cemented into a kind of pudding- 
stone. Large masses of granite of different kinds are scattered on 
the beach. 

In the sand along the shore I noticed many Foraminifera. Not 
infrequently during high tide turtles land for the purpose of laying 
their eggs; but their favourite resort, as I have already mentioned, 
. is the neighbouring island of Satang, nearer to the mouth of the 
Sarawak river, but farther off the mainland than Sampadien. In 
the sea, on rocks, I found a few algte growing, the more common 
being a species of Sargassum. 

The Dugongs, or Duyon, as the Malays call them {Halicore aus- 
tralis), frequent these shores, feeding, I was told, on sea plants, 
perhaps a species of Thalassia. They appear, however, to be very 
rare in Sarawak, for although I offered a reward of twenty doUars, 
I was unable to get a specimen. 

We passed the night near the mouth of the Lundu. Wishing to 
take advantage of the inflowing tide, we set sail at 2 a.m. next morn- 
ing, and, helped by a good breeze, soon reached Samatan. Here 
we stopped to breakfast, and I shot a species of kingfisher {Sauro- 
paiis cMoris, Bodd.} which I met with for the first time.^ It was 
hunting small crabs along the sandy shore, and each time it cap- 
tured one it perched on some low tree to eat it in comfort. 

We soon passed the Talang-Talang Islands, leaving them on 
our right, and at 3 p.m. came to anchor in a small bay marked on 
the Admiralty chart as " Sleepy Bay " or " Pirate Bay " ; but the 
native name is, T believe, Labuan Gadong. On the cliffs around grew 
specimens of Cycas circinalis from twelve to eighteen feet high, 
some with fruit, others with male flowers hke fine cones rising in the 
midst of the crown of leaves. Here, too, were branching pandani, 
a Podocarpus, feathery casuarinas, nibong pahns, and those ever- 
present rampant climbers, the rotangs, and many other plants. 
On the beach the Kayu -pennaga {Pongamia glabra. Vent.) was pre- 
dominant, a common tree on the sea-shore throughout Malaysia. 
When in blossom it is covered with bunches of lilac flowers which are 
sweetly fragrant. The place appeared to abound in game, and I saw 
footprints of plandok, deer, and wild boar, but nothing of the animals 

On the sixteenth of June, after a few hours' paddhng, we 
reached Tanjong Datu, distant about seven miles from our 
last halting place. I shot a few terns, which were abundant here, 
and found many of their eggs, which were deposited on the bare 

' Sauropatis cliloris is a bird of wide distribution, occurring throughout 
the Philippines, Celebes, the Moluccas, etc.— Ed. 

y Google 


rock without any attempt at a nest. We came to anchor near 
the westernmost extremity of Borneo, in a small cove, which 
my Malays called Telok Saruban, or Serban. 

Here we found a spring of excellent water, and used it at once to 
cook our rice. After our very frugal breakfast, I started to climb the 
small mountain which rose at our backs. Naturally, in such out-of- 
the-way and iminhabited places, there were no paths. The place, 
and, indeed, the whole coast as far as Santubong, had a bad name 
for f>eingthe habitual resort, during the fair season, of theprahusof 
the Lanuns and Balagnini, the boldest and most dreaded pirates of 
the whole archipelago, and Telok Serban was their favourite 

We commenced our ascent amidst great detached blocks of 
granite scattered over the slopes of the mountain, which is entirely 
covered by primeval forest from base to summit. We marked the 
trees from time to time with parang cuts, and left other signs of our 
passage on the way, in order to be able to find the path on our return. 
Before long we were overtaken by a storm with violent rain and wind, 
but we continued our climb in spite of it, and reached the summit, 
which, according to the indications of my aneroid, I determined to 
be at an elevation of 1,640 feet. 

Scarcely a plant was in blossom. On the west slope, which is 
Dutch territory — for the boundary line between Sarawak and the 
Dutch possessions follows the ridge of the mountain — the trees were 
scanty and dwarfish, and more or less deprived of leaves, I beheve 
on account of the strong south-west winds which for several months 
in the year sweep this slope. On the eastern slope — that up which 
we had come — the trees were thicker and more clothed. On the 
summit I found nothing to reward me for the fatigue of the climb. 

On descending we followed the marks we had left in coming up ; 
but, at a certain spot, where the colossal masses of granite were 
heaped up one on the other so as to form caves and grottoes, we 
lost our direction in following the tortuous path between the masses. 
We wandered about for nearly an hour and a half without being able 
to get out of this strange labyrinth, or to find the path leading down 
to the sea. I was beginning to fear that we should be obliged to 
pass the night in the jungle, for it was near sunset, and after that com- 
plete darkness follows fast, when the happy inspiration occurred to 
us of retracing our steps up the moimtain instead of continuing vainly 
to search an outlet below. We managed thus to emerge from the 
labyrinth of granite blocks, and then in another direction, and 
following Kap, the small Dyak dog I always took with me on 
excursions, we again directed our steps towards the sea. It was 
interesting to see how this intelligent beast, constantly turning to 
look back at us, appeared plainly to wish to show us the right way 
to be followed. Had it been able to talk it could not have made 
225 Q 

y Google 


itself better understood. Certainly, of all animals, the dog is the 
one which ought to have had the greatest chance of learning how to 
talk, on account of the instinctive sympathy which, hke an electric 
current, passes between it and Man when it wishes to explain its 
thoughts or to understand ours. Had Man been associated with the 
dog during the plasmative epoch, I beheve that to the expression of 
our face and to the sound of our voice there woiild have been aroused 
in the dog, owing to the attention with which he listens to us and 
observes us, analogous movements in its vocal organs, which, instead 
of expressing themselves by inarticulate sounds, would have enabled 
it to talk and to learn a language. 

The dogs of the Dyaks are small, and have a fox-hke aspect, 
somewhat hke that of our Italian " pomer." Their hair is usually of 
a reddish-dun ; their ears are short, erect, and very mobile ; the 
. tail, usually carried high and turned up, and kept in constant motion, 
t&minates in a large brush; the legs are rather short in proportion 
to the rest of the body. Not the least of their peculiarities is that 
they have never learnt to bark. Highly intelligent, they readily 
attach themselves to the person who takes care of them and treats 
them kindly ; and they are very plucky and useful in hunting deer 
or pigs, for which they are especially kept and trained. In Dyak 
villages they will not let a European approach. 

Having spoken of the Dyak dog, it is natural to say something of 
cats ; and the domestic animal in Borneo deserves a word of men- 
tion on account of the singular pecuharity of its tail, which is 
generally ^'ery short, or else marked with a kind of abrupt twist, 
as if it had been broken, and badly set. I cannot suggest any ex- 
planation of this singular character, which is well known and com- 
mon enough. Perhaps, owingto the perennial dampness of the soil, 
the tail of cats in Borneo became an impediment. I have noted 
that animals in confinement with long tails — monkeys for instance- 
suffer in Borneo when kept on the ground, the tail in such cases easily 
getting ulcerated. Perhaps this has been the case with the cat, 
and the shortening and crookedness of its tail is a step towards 
adaptation to local conditions. 

In the small cove at Tanjong Datu, where our boat lay sheltered, 
the wind at that season being from the south-west, the sea was 
perfectly smooth. We were only a few hundred yards from the 
westernmost point of Borneo, where no anchorage exists, even for 
small vessels, and where the sua is always rough, even during the 
good season, and very much so during the north-east monsoon. 

The weather being fine next morning, I started to round 
the cape by sea ; but as soon as we got beyond the protection it 
afforded against the south-west wind, we met with such heavy 
weather that the sampan began to fill, and to avoid getting swamped 
I had to turn back. The sea is always more or less heavy here on 

y Google 


account of the meeting of two contrary currents off the point. We 
were soon back in our quiet cove. Near it, as at Satang and Sam- 
padien, there are patches of sandy beach, where turtles land to 
deposit their eggs. On the overhanging and more inaccessible cliffs 
Collocalia nidtfica builds its edible nests ; at least, I believe it to be 
that species, although I obtained neither specimens of the bird nor 
of its nest. 

It is notable that all along the coast, fr<^ Tanjong Datu to 
Bruni, there are no coral banks, so frequent dsewhere in Malaysia, 
and their absence causes that of a host of associated marine pro- 
ductions on the entire coast of North Borneo. Tanjong Datu is 
mostly formed of granite, together with serpentines and other meta- 
morphic rocks. 

At low tide I collected seaweeds, and got some very fine spedes, 
several new to science.' A Sargassum was very abundant amongst 
the rocks, which turned out to be Sargassum angusiifoUum, I. Ag. 
On no portion of the Bornean coast, however, have I found algs so 
varied and abundant as they are on the coasts of the Mediterranean 
and the Red Sea. The sandy bottom, continually shifted by big 
waves during the north-east monsoon, and the deposits carried 
down by the many large rivers, prevent the development of cellular 
marine plants, and along with them that varied and marvellous 
world of sea creatures which require clear and tranquil waters for . 
their reproduction. 

Beginning my return journey I visited another small cove, where 
I collected a few plants and some Httoral land snails, very abundant 
in low spots amidst rotting vegetable detritus thrown up and accu- 
mulated by the sea. 

At 2 a.m. on the iSth, with a favourable tide and splendid moon- 
light, we paddled for about an hour and came to another small bay, at 
the head of which we found a'Uttle streamlet of beautiful water. 
Here we anchored again, and as soon as dayhght came I collected 
shells, seaweeds, and other plants. On the rocks in this inlet grew 
a very fine species of Pandanus ; its straight cyhndrical stem, sup- 
ported on large aerial roots, was about thirty feet high, and was 
divided above into several horizontal branches, again forking once 
or twice, and terminating in tufts of rather broad leaves similar in 
aspect to those of Crinum giganteum. It was, perhaps, Pandanus 
dubius, Spreng., or an aUied species. 

The next day no collections were made. We reached and anchored 
at Samattang, a village of ten houses, inhabited by Malays and a few 
Chinamen. Between Tanjong Datu and Samattang are only four 
insignificant streams, hardly, if at all, navigable, even for small 

' Amongst these, Dictyota maxima, Zaa., and D. Beccariana, Zan., are 
the most remarkable. (Cf, Zanardini. "Phycearum indicarum pugitlus a 
CI. Ed. Beccari, etc., colhctarum." Venezia, 1872.) 

Hoslod by 



boats, and only to be entered at high tide. They are the Sanion- 
saur, nearest to Tanjong Datu; the Bekuching, the Poe, and the 

On the 20th I ascended the SamattEing for some hours, but the 
tree-trunks which had fallen in the river eventually stopped me. 
The Malays, however, go up it in very small canoes as far as 
GunongPoeinsearchof dammar, which is found there in abundance. 
Returning neariy to tfae mouth, I attempted to go up the other branch 
of the river, which ought to lead to the foot of Gunong Angus, a hill 
which is said by the natives to be inhabited by antus, or spirits of 
a bad sort, and where one cannot go without great risk of contracting 
a disease of some kind. This, at least, my men asserted with an air 
of great conviction, which only made me the more desirous of reach- 
ing this abode of the malevolent spirits. The branch of the river 
I had entered, however, was a perfect labyrinth of canals and small 
passages between nipa palms and mangroves, quite unknown to my 
men ; and, having no pilot, we found ourselves, after much wandering 
about, back at the very point we had started from, and were thus 
obhged to give up the attempt of reaching the enchanted hill, which, 
in all probabihty, must have got its name as a specially malarious 

I was told that at Gunong Angus many edible nests of the small 
swift are to be found, but nobody dares to go and collect them. 

The Samattang appeared to me very uninteresting, and I found 
not a single plant or animal that I had not met with before. I was 
told, however, that along its upper course the " bua pacma" — the 
Rafflesia which I have already described — grew abundantly. In 
a straight line I do not think that the principal branch of the Samat- 
tang river extends for more than ten miles inland. It is very wide 
at its mouth, and has a very tortuous course ; but, after about two 
hours' paddling up stream, it became so shallow as to be only navi- 
gable for small canoes. 

On the 2ist I resumed my coasting journey towards the Sarawak 
river. Halting at Tanjong Batu, I found a beautiful specimen of 
Cycas circinalis, L., over thirty feet high, and with a twice bifur- 
cated trunk. We stopped again at Tanjong Plandok to dry the 
paper of the botanical specimens, where I collected a few good species 
of seaweeds. The rocks here are of a limestone which is almost 
black in colour. 

We next passed the Belungei river, navigable for some hours 
by sampans ; and the Skambal, a small stream which can only be 
entered at high tide. It was dark when we reached the mouth of 
the Limdu, where we anchored for the night. 

I had gone to sleep as usual in the samp,an, which, with the ebbing 
tide, became, before long, high and dry. In the middle of the night 
I was suddenly aroused by the cries of my men, whom, by the feeble 

y Google 


light of the stars, I could see rushing out of the boat towards the 
forest, brandishing their parangs and spears. I could not make 
out at first what had happened, but soon joined in the laugh when 
my men returned from the vain chase of a wild boar, which had come 
sniffing round quite close to the boat, attracted, no doubt, by the 
odour of our provisions. 

On the morning of the 22nd I entered and ascended the Lundu 
river, which I had already explored, but I wished to pay a visit to 
my friend Mr. Nelson, then Resident or Government Agent in this 
district. I reached the Residency just at the time the Dyaks were 
bringing their annual tribute, which consisted of two dollars for each 
adult male. At Lundu there were several very big houses, each of 
which, belonging to a number of families, may be looked upon as a 
separate village. In one of these houses, which are tolerably com- 
mon inland, there were living 150 men and an unknown number of 
women. There was also a church here built of timber, and a sub- 
stantial house for the missionaries. Above the village the river, 
which rises behind Mount Mattang, can be ascended for three or four 
days in small boats. Near its sources the Chinese have found gold, 
in formations similar to those at Busso and at Bau ; and were at 
that time asking to be aided by Government to begin working. 
The Chinese had fine gardens and orchards at Lundu, remarkably 
well kept, where, amongst other cultivated plants, the mulberry 
tree was growing. This interested the Tuan Muda a good deal, as 
he wished to attempt the rearing of silkworms. 

The Dyaks mostly cultivate rice on terraced hill fields on the 
dry system ; but in the plains of Lundu the usual water cultivation 
is also practised. There, in the abandoned ricefields, already 
covered with rank high herbage, I found grovnng a wild species of 
rice plant called by the Malays " padi pipit," i.e. " sparrow rice," 
because its grain is much smaller than that of the cultivated plant, 
I imagine that these must have grown from seeds of the ordinary 
cultivated rice plant, fallen out of the husk during the harvest, which, 
in the lack of any cultivation had to submit to a struggle with the 
weeds, and thus produced smaller grain — a return to the primitive 
wild form.' 

Next day I descended the river, and reaching its mouth headed 
once more for the Sarawak. We passed the night at Sumpa, a 
small fisherman's hamlet composed of seven or eight huts ; and on 
the twenty-fourth of June we paddled towards Santubong, where I 
had a slight attack of malarial fever, the first I had experienced 
during two years of a nomadic life in the forests of Borneo. I 
could not at first believe that the uneasiness and the shiverings I 

' This kind of rice has been collected by Zollinger in Java, and distributed 
under the name of Oryza saliva {L. spontanea). 

y Google 


felt were caused by fever, the sensation was so new to me ; but 
later I got quite enough experience of the kind; At night we 
reached Santubong. 

Between the Lundu and Sarawak rivers are several streams, 
which, going from west to east, are the following : The Sampadi, 
Pangerang, Sumpa, Setto, Burungbungan, Sibu, Mersan, and Salak, 
In the latter and in the Sibu large praus can enter ; in the Sungei 
Burungbungan only fishing boats ; the others are of insignificant 

y Google 


The Rotang Yielding Dragon's Blood — Singhi Hill — Notable Palms 
AND Their Uses^Across the Forest — Rotang Jernang — Manner 
OP Extracting Dragon's Blood — -The Liean — Singular Fungi — 
A Night Biwouac — Giant Palm Leaves — Dyak Methods of 
Making Fire^Fishing in Forest Streams — Varied Uses of Bamboos 
Dyak Teeth Staining — Other Customs of the Land-Dyaks — 
Mobility OF the Toes in Malays and Dyaks — ^Notes on the Fishes 
OF THE Sarawak river^Poisonous Fishes and Singing Fishes — 
A Thief-Detecting Fish— Fishing with the "Tuba." 

USUALLY in undertaking an excursion I had in view, the col- 
lection of some animal, plajit, or product which had a par- 
ticular interest for me, and with which I was as yet unacquainted. 
Amongst the latter was the rotang which produces the jernang, 
or " dragon's blood," a kind of resin of a bright red colour. Having 
heard that the plant from which this valuable drug is obtained was 
common in the densely matted primeval jungle on the north-western 
slopes of Mount Mattang, I started in search of it at the beginning 
of July, accompanied by several Singhi Dyaks well acquainted with 
the locality. 

During ray residence on Mattang I had visited Singhi more than 
once, following a pathway through the vast forest. FromKuching, 
however, the village is reached much more conveniently by going 
up the Sarawak river to a spot past Belhda, whence a tolerably good 
path leads in about an hour to the foot ol the hill on which the houses 
are built. 

The Singhi Dyaks were old acquaintances and good friends of 
mine, and I had no difficulty in finding the men I required for the 
projected excursion. Their houses were scattered .over different 
parts of the hill, all in highly picturesque positions, and always 
shaded by a grand and luxurious vegetation nearly exclusively 
formed by cultivated trees, such as durians, coconut palms, pinangs, 
arengas, langsats, rambutans, and especially bamboos, which 
acquire colossal dimensions, and form green and spreading clumps 
of remarkable beauty. 

On the Singhi hill I also met with a splendid, and at the same 
time more or less useful, palm, which is in general allowed to grow 
near the houses. One might almost imagine it a cultivated species, 

y Google 


yet it reproduces itself naturally by seed. I am alluding to the 
magnificent Caryola, which the Singhi Dyaks call " kayuno," and 
the Malays " baroch." ^ In the rich soil around the houses this 
palm shows an extremely powerful growth, its stems attaining a 
height oi forty to fifty feet. They are thicker than those of the 
coconut, perfectly straight, smooth, and marked with many rings, 
the scars where old fronds were once attached to the stem. These 
fronds are immense, as much as twenty-five feet or more in 
length, and differ from the usual type common to most palms in 
being much divided, with the terminal divisions of a half lozenge 
or swaUow-tailed shape. In enormous bunches hanging from the 
upper part of the trunk are a prodigious number of fruits of a red 
colour, and the size of cherries. These are useless, and, indeed, 
harmful, for when ripe the}' contain an acrid juice which causes 
intense irritation if it comes in contact with a deUcate part of the 
skin. The most notable peculiarity of this palm is that its stem 
swells out in the middle, assuming a fusiform aspect recalling that 
of Oreodoxa regia. The cause of this thickening may, perhaps, be 
explained by the very rapid growth of the species during the inter- 
mediate period of its hfe. Notwithstanding*thi3 character — ^although 
I was at first inclined to consider the tree as a distinct species, re- 
stricted to Borneo, and had even described ft as such under the name 
of Caryoia No — I came later to the conclusion that it must be regarded 
as a mere variety or local race of C. Rumpkiana, a widely difiused 
species in the eastern part of the Malay Archipelago. 

The Kayu No is by the Singhi Dyaks only used for certain 
long black fibres, known to them as talionus, which they obtain 
through maceration from the midribs of the leaves, and use for fish- 
ing fines. These same fibres, woven with strips of the aerial roots 
of Eugeissonia, and of rotangs, are used to make cylindrical baskets 
called tambuk, and for similar kind of work. 

I have mentioned the Arenga (Arenga saccharifera), another 
great palm which grows very luxuriantly at Singhi (where it is called 
idjok), and has fronds reaching a length of over thirty feet. In 
Sarawak this well known palm is appreciated not so much for the wine 
or toddy and for the sugar which can be extracted from it, as for the 
black fibre, not unhke horsehair, which is found in large quantities 
around the bases of the fronds, and clothes the entire trunk. With 
these fibres rope of all sizes is made, of great strength, nearly ever- 
lasting in durability, and much used by Malays for the rigging of 
their praus, and especially for cables. The Dyaks also make an ex- 
tensive use of ropes of this material ; the finer kinds are preferred to 
rotang for tjdng beams and other wooden parts of the framework 
of native houses throughout Sarawak. 

' Cf, Beccari ; in Nuovo Giornaie Boianico Italiana, vol, iii. p. 12. 

y Google 


Having passed the night in one of the Dyak houses at Singhi, I 
started at 8 a.m. on July 5, guided by several Dyaks and accompanied 
by two of my Malays, for the locahty where the rotang jernang 
grows. I had brought with me supplies for several days, and every- 
thing necessary for camping in the forest, besides a good quantity 
of paper for drjdng botanical specimens. 

The road at first led up the Singhi hill, where, from time to time, 
we came upon Dyalc houses, passing through perfect woods of fruit 
trees, mostly durians, and great clumps of bamboos. We descended 
on the opposite side by a steep and slippery pathway, and, on getting 
to the plain, found the road even worse, having to cross swampy 
ground in which we sank up to the knees. Here grew many sago 
and baroch padms ; the latter naturally sown by animals ; the sago 
originally planted. When a stem of sago palm is cut down, new 
shoots grow out from its stump, which at first run along the ground, 
and then rise vertically up, producing new stems, without any kind 
of cultivation. 

Having left the swampy tract behind us, we crossed undulating 
ground covered with secondary forest vegetation, which farther on 
merges into primeval forest, much easier to get through. We next 
ascended a spur of Gunong Mattang, about 1,000 feet high, along 
whose crest we continued^for a long while on a sort of plateau. It is 
a locality where Uran {Pholidocarpus majadum, Becc), jattao 
(Eugeissonia insignis, Becc). nisang {Licuala), and other smaller 
palms abound, together with a great variety of rotangs. We next 
climbed several hills and crossed small valleys, where the vegetation 
was of a very wild and primitive character. Amongst the more im- 
portant plants I met with here was a' fine Anonacea {Go«toiAfl/awMS 
lateritius, sp. n. [P.B. No., 3610}, a small tree which was remarkable, 
even at a distance, on account of its large flowers of a biick-red colour 
which cluster in great numbers low down, near the ground, around 
the warty stem.' I also found a small but very graceful species 
of Phalesnopsis, with the perianth yellowish-green blotched with 
blood-red, and the labellum reddish. 

After a continuous and rapid march of seven hours, we got to 
the banks of the Raju torrent, the main branch of the Burung- 
bungan, a small stream I have already mentioned which reaches 
the sea opposite Pulo Satang, and whose mouth I crossed on my 
way back from Tanjong Datu. We found there a lanko in fairly 
good condition, which saved us the trouble of constructing one. 

^ This Goniotkalamus appears to be allied to G. Riedteyi, King, which 
has also large flowers clustered at the base of the stem ; but it apparently 
differs by its glabrous leaves, which are 10 to 12 inches long, with □ 
lateral nervures. The flowers of G. lateritius are some 2^ to 3 inches a 
and are pedunculate, these peduncles being at least as long again a 


y Google 


Next morning we sallied fortli in search of the desired rotang, 
following up the course of a small torrent, the Skajan, on a hill which 
bears the same name. After about an hour's walk, we came across 
quite a number of specimens of the plant I was in search of. Few, 
however, bore fruits. The rotang jernang is a DcBtnonorops, to which 
I have given the name of D. Draconcellus, having found that it 
differs somewhat from D. Draco, which produces the dragon's blood 
in Sumatra, as well as from other allied species {D. micr acanthus. 
Griff., and D. propinquus, Becc), from which the same drug is 
extracted in the Malay Peninsula, 

Dragon's blood is a resin used as varnish, of the characteristic 
red colour found on the scales which cover the fruits of rotangs, 
especially when immature, for in ripe fruits the resinous exudation 
gets brittle and easily falls off. The drug is only got from the fruits, 
and not by incisions in the stem, as has been asserted. The 
gummy sap which exudes from the cut stems is white and milky. 
The canes or stems of this rotang are of the thickness of the litlJe 
finger, and of good quality; indeed, amongst the best for the many 
uses for which the stems of other Calami are employed. But the 
species is mainly grown for the sake of the fruits, for the dragon's 
blood which is got from them is a far more valuable product than 
the canes. Only old specimens which fiave reached the tops of 
the trees bear flowers. One which I measured was nearly a hun- 
dred feet in length. It is a dioecious species, the male and 
female flowers being on different individuals. 

On the Skajan hill this rotang was abundant, but extremely 
localized, for I never met with it elsewhere, nor did I see it again 
during the present excursion. I found two varieties, one with 
round, the other with oblong fruits. On the same hill grew some 
very tall Uran [Pholidocarpus majadum, Becc), one, I reckoned, 
could hardly have been less than 130 feet in height. . This palm, 
which reminds one of a Livistona, has a stem resembling that of the 
coconut, but more slender, and its wood is much harder. The 
leaflets of its fan-shaped fronds are used for making ataps, which 
are said to resist the effects of weather much better than those made 
with the leaves of the nipa and sago palms. 

In the small ravines along the streams, where rich humus had 
accumulated for centuries, and where the vegetation was more 
luxuriant, with the densest shade and reeking dampness perennial, I 
found some very extraordinary species of Fungi, which, unfortunately, 
I could not preserve. Amongst others I noticed a fleshy Polyporus 
with the stalk gradually widening into an umbrella about two hands- 
breadths in diameter, slightly convex above, and of a rusty yellow 
colour, whilst the imder surface (hjonenium) had short white tubes. 
I also found a Cordyceps — a kind of mushroom — about eight inches 
, in height, ramified like the antlers of a stag, which grew from the 

y Google 


mummified body of a large insect larva. One must be a mycologist 
to be able to appreciate fully these two marvellous vegetable pro- 

Having been successful in attaining the object of my trip, I had 
now to think of returning to Singhi ;' although the locedity was one 
of exceptional interest and richness as a collecting ground^ and a 
longer stay would have given excellent results. Towards evening 
we were back on the spur which projects from Mount Mattang, and 
built up a shelter for the night on its ridge under a pelting rain. In 
a few minutes theDyaks had collected the requisite timber, the 
rotangs for tying them together, and the leaves for the roofing. 
Never before had I found such excellent and handy materials for 
covering a lanko furnished at the same time by a tree which was 
both beautiful and rare. This was Teysmannia aliifrons, a palm with 
undivided leaves of an elongated lozenge-like shape, quite ten feet 
in length without the stalk, and three feet in width. If we except 
bananas, the Ravenala madagascariensis, and, perhaps, some of the 
Heliconias, this is the plant which produces the largest undivided 
leaves anywhere in the Old Woild. In America, however, there are 
the Mamcarias, palms nearly allied to Teysmannia, with entire 
leaves of quite twice the dimensions of those of the latter palm. The 
Teysmannia grows in Sumatra, as well as in Borneo, and has recently 
been found also in the Malay Peninsula. At Singhi it is called 
Sumuruch, and the Malays of Sarawak give to its fronds the name of 
daun-ekor buaya, i.e. " crocodile-tail leaves." 

The Dyaks who were with me were very active and thorough- 
ly at home in the forest. After having erected the lanko they 
lighted a fire, notwithstanding the ceaseless rain. They are never 
at a loss to find materials for this, even in the dampest weather, 
being acquainted with certain plants, I believe of the order Amyrid- 
acece, the wood of which will bum well even when quite green. Of 
course, to obtain the first sparks they must have a Httle dry wood, 
and this they search for inside dead tree-tnmks, of which there are 
always plenty about in the old forest. They are acquainted with 
the way of getting fire by rubbing two pieces of wood together. 
For this purpose two small sticks are used, one of liard, the otlier of 
soft wood, well dried, the latter having notches cut in it. Holding 
the first vertically between the two palms, it is rotated rapidly fike 
an egg-whisk, its lower rounded extremity resting in one of the 
notches of the soft-wood stick. From this small dust-like particles 
are detached ; these descend into the notch and soon become ignited. 
Usually, a httle tinder is added to facihtate matters. The Dyaks of 
Singhi know also how to get a spark from a kind of bamboo called 
bulu tamian, on which they strike with a bit of sihcious stone^or 
a fragment of Chinese porcelain. The production of fire by pneu- 
matic pressure is also known to them, a little ttnder being placed at 

y Google 



the bottom of a closed iron tube fitted with a piston, A smart blow 
on the latter compresses the air and is sufficient to ignite the tinder.^ 
But to all these methods they now prefer the usual flint and steel, 
using as tinder the hihip, a soft cottony down which clothes the 

dilated base of the young fronds in some palms, on the inner part, 
towards the centre of the bud. The best quality of lulup is produced 

> In Burma a similar ' pneumatic method is found, the natives using a 
small instrument like that of the Dyaks, which is described and figured by 
Signer Fea in his excellent book, Quattro Anni fra i Birmani, p. 316, fig. 103. 
Milano, 1896. 


y Google 


by a species of wild Arenga palm (Arenga undulatifolia Becc), but 
the common Arenga, the Coco, and other palms, also yield it. 

MTien the lanko was finished and the fire lighted the Dyaks went 
in search of something to eat with their rice. They soon returned 
with several iish, which they had caught in the brooks in the forest. 
These were forthwith placed on the embers to roast, after being 
tied up in palm leaves. They belonged to no less than six species, 
of which I here give the native names i-^ 



Ihan pappak .. 

. . Ikan blao 

„ bokku 

„ Mi 

„ tekkid 

„ tankit 

„ siluan 


„ pennoghu .. 


siringin . . 


We passed a pleasant night under the lanko, and I slept better 
than usual, having taken the precaution to spread branches and 
leaves over the big sticks which formed the flooring, and over these 
a pandanus mat which I always carried with me for the purpose. 
But the Dyaks had no need of such luxuries, and slept hke logs on 
their bed of lumpy and knotted sticks, with no other dress on but 
their jawat. They kept the fire burning throughout the night, 
however, for, though they do not care for a soft couch, they are 
extremely sensitive to even the slightest lowering of the temperature. 

The morning of July 8th was rainy, but this did not prevent me 
from going out in search of plants. I found many trees in blossom, 
of various species new to me ; but it was then quite impossible to 
collect specimens, either by climbing or by felling the trees, so 
towards ten o'clock we started on our way back to Singhi, and 
crossing once more the awful track through the swamp, we reached 
that village towards 4 p.m. 

Next day I returned to Kuching, with a short stoppage at Bellida 
to get a supply of slender bamboos, called bulu pretja, with which I 
proposed making cane frames for the rearing of silkworms, which 
the Tuan Muda was anxious to try. I afterwards found that for 
that purpose the hulu kassa is preferable, being still more slender, 
and very like the reeds we use in Italy. 

All bamboos in Borneo are apt to be bored, on drying, by insects, 
except the bulu tamian, which is so hardened by silica that the 
mandibles of these pests can make no impression on it. It is for 
this reason used, as I have already said, as a substitute for flint in 
striking a light. To prevent the bamboos being bored by insects 
they are macerated for a while in water, or else buried in mud. 

Leading the Ufe of a Dyak in the woods one is always learning 
something new of their ways and customs. Thus on this occasion 
I was able to find out how they dye their teeth black. They use for 



this purpose the bajio — a slender euphorbiaceous shrub with a stem 
not thicker than one's little finger, and from four to seven feet high, 
straight and without any branches, but only a few ^^ery large coria- 
ceous leaves at the upper end, in the axill;e of which spikes of in- 
significant flowers grow.! The stems are weU dried after the bark 
has been scraped off, and, when required for use, one of them is 
lighted at one end and applied against the blade of a knife or parang, 
or some other smooth iron surface. In burning, a resinous oil 
appears to exude from these sticks, and is condensed on the metallic 
surface. To this substance lamp-black (obtained, I believe, by burn- 
ing dammar resin) is added, forming a black pigment which, appHed 
to the teeth, adheres strongly to their surface. However, to keep 
them well blacked, the operation must be often repeated. 

The Singhi Dyaks, after the fashion of many other primitive 
people, count on their fingers and pass on to their toes. One of their 
habitual postures of rest, as with most Dyaks, is that of squat- 
ting on their hams, the feet only resting on the ground. The sole 
of the foot is quite flat in the Dyaks, and often when standing stiU 
they keep the foot turned inwards, as if to apply the sole flat against 
the ground was not natural or habitual to them. This is a pithecoid 
character, and is, seen especially in women and children. It has 
been suggested that the peculiarity is derived from the habit of 
dimbing trees, and the frequent walking over tree-trunks laid down 
to form pathways in the forest. 

Not only Dyaks, but also many Malays can, and often do, use 
their feet as supplementary hands. I have seen Javanese labouring 
in the fields take a stick up between the hallux and the next toe, and 
plant it upright in the ground. The great toe is always used in a 
similar manner in climbing up a rope or a liana to reach the top of 
a tree. Andin twisting a cord, or splitting or cleaning a rotang, the 
great toe is always used to hold down one of the ends. It is also 
always used to seize a branch or a fruit out of reach of the hand, or to 
pick up an object on the ground without stooping. A Malay in my 
service could tear up a sheet of paper, using the two great toes, and 
holding it by the two opposite ends. The same man could bend out- 
wards and detach his right great toe from the rest for a distance of 
two and three-sixteenth inches, and the left one two inches, and 
could spread out all the other toes hke a fan, detaching one from 
the other nearly half an inch, and the little toe from the one next 
to it more than three quarters of an inch. Malays usually have the 
second toe much longer than the great toe. In general, their feet 

1 This plant is a new species of the genus Agrostistachys, which I have 
distinguished by the name of A. Borneensis {P.B., No. 1,381 and 3,117); 
it is nearly allied to A. longifolia, Benth. I found it also at Johore, in the 
Malay Peniosula, where its tiroad leaves are used as thatch on huts in the 


y Google 


are well formed, and. very small, and often in women they rival 
in gracefulness their very elegantly shaped and diminutive hands. 
During the month of July I formed a collection of the fish of the 
Sarawak river. Not a few of the many species found there hve 
both in fresh and in salt or brackish water. However, many of 
tho$e brought me at Kuching came from Santubong, where the water 
is nearly quite salt. 

The Malays are weU acquainted with, and easily distinguish the 
various species of fish, which, with rice, form their principal article 
of diet. This is not to be wondered at, if one considers that they 
are a people who hve almost exclusively on the water, whether along 
the sea coEists, or on the banks of rivers. Their children, almost from 
the time that they can stand upright, live more in the water than 
on land, and pass days together in httle boats fishing, either with hook 
and hne, or with some other angling apparatus. They thus have 
a perfect knowledge of the habits of fish, and the ready way in 
which they distinguish even closely allied species has often surprised 
naturalists. Just as these do, the Malays assign to species which 
have a common resemblance a generic name (which often corres- 
ponds closely to the scientific one), and distinguish the species with 
a second specific name, which is usually an adj ective, as in the bino- 
mial system of Linnaeus. Thus " Bokkut " is a generic name ; and 
we have a " bokkut itam " (black bokkut), a "bokkut pasir " (sand 
bokkut), a " bokkut buta " (blind bokkut, i.e. having very small 
eyes), and a " bokkut bodo " (foolish bokkut) : four different species 
of the same genus, distinguished by their most prominent ■charac- 
teristic, precisely in accordance with the rules of scientific no- 

At Kuching, normally, the water is brackish or partly salt, 
even at low tide, and true freshwater fish are absent ; but during 
floods some are carried down from the Upper Sarawak. For true 
freshwater fish one must go to the forest streams, or to the waters 
of the rivers beyond the tidal influence. There are certain locali- 
ties which appear to be alternately frequented by freshwater and by 
brackish or saltwater species, according to the state of the tide. 
I have myself observed an instance of this in the Mattang river. 

According to the natives there Eire several species of poisonous 
fish in the Sarawak, of which the most dangerous are the following : 
" Ikan gurut," " sombilan," "pare," " tukka-tukka," " leppu 
appi," "leppu benuar." The most poisonous of all is the "ikan 
sombilan." Less poisonous, but always unwholesome, are the 
following : " Ikan lundu," " uttit," " jahan," " n'kalang," " qua- 
gok," " bahon " ; the last mentioned species hves in clear waters 
near the sources of rivers and streams. I imagine that most of these 
fish are considered poisonous on account of their spines and aculei. 
This is certainly the case with the " ikan pare." 

y Google 


I have only heard of one truly poisonous fish, which cannot be 
eaten without dangerous and often fatai effects. This is the " iisan 
buntal pisang " (Tetrodon sp.}], which is also notable for the singular 
sound it produces with its beak-hke jaws. I have been told that 
in this case the eggs are the poisonous part, and if they are removed 
the fish can be eaten with impunity. 

With the exception of the " ikan buntal," the poison in fishes, 
according to the Malays, is localized in the mucus or slime which 
covers their bodies, and, getting into the wounds or punctures made 
by the spines, is the caiase of the well-known inflammatory symp- 
toms, often exceedingly painful, but without dangerous consequences. 
But even here there are, it seems, exceptions, and some of these are 
several species of " ikan pare," or sting rays {Trygon), the large 
serrated spines of whose tails produce dangerous and sometimes 
fatal wounds ; for they easily get broken, and by means of the minute 
barbed spines continue to burrow into the tissues, and if not 
extracted may eventually cause the death of the patient. 

There are various sound-producing, or, as the natives put it, 
" talking fishes," in the Sarawak. The following were described to 
me as coming under this head : " Ikan bengot," " gurut," " lundu," 
" uttit," " bilokan," " jahan," " n'kalang," "quaggok," " bianto," 
called also " bettot," or " pupput." '■ 

Amongst other ichthyological peculiarities there is a fish in Sara- 
wak which is used to detect thieves. It is the "ikan s'luan," and 
the belief is that if the eyes of a person who has stolen are touched 
with this fish, he becomes bhnd, whilst the sight of an innocent person 
would suffer no harm. In all probability the fish is quite harm- 
less, and the effect it may or may not produce depends on the art or 
mahce of the person applying this singular judicial ordeal, which 
few persons are, indeed, considered to administer with success. 
The fishes to be thus used are exhibited for a time to the public, and 
previously undergo special ceremonies. i 

In order to complete my collection of fishes, I went down to 
Santubong between July 27th and 29th, and, making use of tuba, en- 
deavoured to rapture lish by poisoning the waters of a small stream 
which flows by the village. The quantity thtis caught was not great, 
but I was able to add several species to my collection. The Malays 
apply the name of iuba to various vegetable substances, fruits, roots, 
and bark, which are employed to stupify fish by being placed in the 
water. In our countries the fleshy part of green walnuts and some 
euphorbias and other plants are used in a similar manner. At 

'■ Most of the fishes I collected in Sarawak have been studied by my good 
friend the able ichthyologist, Dr. Vinciguerra. All were labelled with slips 
of vellum on which the native name was written ; but, unlortunately, a long 
sojourn in spirits quite obliterated the writing, and it is now impossible for 
me to assign to any of them their scientific or Malayan names. 

y Google 


Kuching the long root-like stems of a creeper, Denis uUginosa, or 
some aUied species, are usually employed for that purpose ; it is 
common in the inundated riverside jungles. The fruits of Sapium 
indicum and of Croton liglium are also sometimes used. 

The end of July was very rainy, quite an unusual thing at this 
season. About this time, in addition to frequent attacks of fever, 
I began to suffer from a malady peculiar to the country known as 
" Uniid," which consists of oedema, of the limbs, and is considered 
as a sort of commencement of elephantiasis. In my case the right 
leg was swelled, especially round the ankle. 

Having finished packing all the collections made up to that date, 
and deposited them in a store of the Borneo Company ready to 
be shipped to Europe by the first steamer leaving, I was able to 
avail myself of the long-wished-for opportunity, which now fortu- 
nately presented itself, of visiting the Bomean coast as far as Bruni, 
and after that of undertaking an excursion into the country of the 

y Google 


From Labuan to Bruni on the Rajah's Gunboat— My Malay Servants 
— Labuan— -Mr. H. Low — The Vegetation at Labuan— Ptilocercus 
Lowii — KiNA Balu and its Nepenthes — Bruni — Reception by the 
Sultan— Decay of the City — Parasites in Oyster s^ — On the Name 
Borneo — Climates of Bruni and Labuan. 

TAKING advantage of a kind invitation of tlie Tuan Muda, I 
embarked on the morning of August 4th on the Heartsease for 
Labuan and Bruni. The Tuan Muda was on board, but we were to 
leave liim a few miles lower down the river, at the trusan (channel), 
for Mattang, as he was going to inspect his coffee plantation on that 

The principal object of the gunboat's voyage was to convey to 
Bruni the sum of S6,ooo, which the Rajah of Sarawak at that time 
paid annually to the Sultan for the cession made by the latter of his 
administrative and political rights over the districts of Moka and 
Bintulu. The original territory of Sarawak, that ceded by Rajah 
Muda Hassim to Sir James Brooke, extended only from Tanjong 
Datu to the Samarahan river, about seventy miles of coast in a 
straight line. 

I had with me supplies for a journey of four or five months, in- 
tending, on the return from Labuan, to get landed at Bintulu, whence 
I hoped to penetrate into the interior. I had only two men with 
me, expecting to find others at Bintulu. One of my men, named 
Sahat, who had been already some time in my service, came from 
Miri, a village at the mouth of the Barram river, in the territory of 
Bruni, and was well acquainted with the cjDuntry I wished to ex- 
plore. In the life of this man there was *a mystery. He was at heart 
a pirate, if not originally one. His instincts were cruel, and yet he 
was honest, plucky, a first rate canoeman, and clever in most things 
that natives can do. He spoke fluently several dialects, was a decent 
cook, and could act on an emergency both as tailor and hairdresser. 
Bakar, my second servant, a pure Sarawak Malay, who might well 
have been taken as a type of his race, was seventeen or eighteen years 
old, of pleasing aspect and well-built figure. His character 
was excellent, his demeanour serious, almost melancholy. He was 
far from being stupid, and yet could not be called very intelligent! 

y Google 


He spoke little, and only in the Kuching dialect. He was a Mussul- 
man inasmuch as he was circumcised and ate no pork, the latter not 
so much on religious principles as because he did not hke the taste 
of it. Religious observances he had none, nor did he bother himself 
in the least about the how and why of things. For him the past was 
not worth the trouble of thinking about, and I verily beheve that no 
idea of the future ever flashed across his mind. Good fortune he 
accepted as naturally so — a thing which ought to be ; of bad he had 
had little or no experience, and in any case he did not attribute it 
to malicious spirits, which he declared he had never seen. He was 
timid and courageous at the same time ; and, as he felt himself strong, 
he never thought of consequences. Blindly obedient, he always 
executed my orders without a word, unless some insurmountable 
obstacle caused him to desist. His wants were few, and his desires 
less. Alone in the forest he would have managed to supply all his 
necessities. Excessively abstemious, some rice cooked in water and 
a little fish were sufficient to content him. He was scrupulously 
clean in his person ; and his greatest dehght was to come out in a fine 
new jacket or a pair of new trousers. 

The character of this Malay boy of mine is practically that of 
numbers of his compatriots, but more amongst agriculturists and 
fisher-folk than in those given to commercial pursuits. Bakar in my 
eyes was a perfect philosopher, and the most happy man I have ever 
known. He was much attached to me, had been two years in my 
service, and was the only one of my servants who had accompanied 
me on nearly all my excursions in Borneo, Sahat received eight 
dollars per month ; Bakar, six ; and both were fed by me. 

Favoured by the tide, the Heartsease rapidly dropped down the 
river. When we reached the trusan for Mattang, the Tuan Muda 
left us, and we proceeded by the Maratabas channel out to sea. Out- 
side the weather was fine, and towards sunset we reached the village 
of Rejang, at the mouth of the river of that name, which is, in point 
of fact, only the principal branch of the delta of the Baloi, the biggest 
river of northern Borneo. The mouth of the Rejang is certainly 
several miles wide, with a depth of five fathoms, and the river is 
navigable for 130 miles, even to good-sized vessels. The delta of 
the Baloi, or rather of the I^ejang, the entire course of the river bear- 
ing this name, is of vast area, and is mostly under mud and water, 
although covered everywhere with the densest forest. As far as the 
eye can reach it is quite flat, covered with nipa, nibong, and man- 

Mr. Cruickshank, the Resident of the Rejang district, came on 
board the Heartsease here. His residence was at the fort at Sibu, 
where the two principal branches of the great delta, the Rejang and 
the Igan, meet. Mr. Cruickshank was going with us, for he was 
i to represent the Tuan Muda with the Sultan. 

y Google 


At 10 o'clock that night we left the Rejang, and at 3 p.m. on the 
following day, August 5th, we anchored about two miles off the 
mouth of the Muka river. With a fair breeze behind us we soon 
reached the shore in the ship's launch. The river forms a great 
bend at its mouth, beyond which is the town ; ajid to avoid the 
long way round by water we landed and crossed on foot the narrow 
neck which intervened between us and the fort. 

Muka is the second town of Sarawak, and we found its population 
composed of Malays and Mellanaos, almost all of whom were occupied 
in the preparation of sago. The houses are built on piles along the 
river, in the usual Malay fashion.and the low marshy ground all round 
is infested with swarms of mosquitoes, rendering hfe well-nigh in- 
supportable ; while the air reeked with a horrible stench, due to the 
fermenting feculum of sago, for the manufacture of which the Borneo 
company had a large estabhshment. We passed an otherwise 
pleasant evening with the manager, a gentleman of Dutch ex- 
traction, but born at Malacca, 

We had, however, to hurry off to the gunboat, which was to sail 
during the night, and was some distance from the shore. It was 
already nine o'clock when we started in thelamich ; but though the 
moon was above the horizon it did not give much Hght, and near the 
mouth of the river we had the narrowest shave of a capsize, our boat 
crashing into a kilong — one of the wooden frames used to support the 
huge fish-traps of the Mellanaos, These are enormous bi-conical 
wicker baskets, open at one end, hke our eel-traps, and constructed 
in such a manner that fish can enter easily, but cannot escape. These 
kilongs are sunk in convenient spots when the tide is rising, with 
their opening turned towards the current, which leads the fish in. 
Not only did we lose the best part of our moonhght by delaying oiu: 
start, but we got out of the river just as the inflowing tide met the 
descending current, causing a heavy sea on the bar, which was not 
quite reassuring for some of our party. For a moment we hesitated, 
some thinking that it was more prudent to turn back. Happily, the 
exhortations of the more courageous prevailed, and, having got over 
the flurry of waters about the bar, we found a calmer sea beyond, and 
were soon safe on board the gunboat. A large barge, however, 
which was loaded with firewood for the use of the steamer, was unable 
to get through the surf on the bar, and had to turn back. We took 
in a supply of fuel at Bintulu next day however, and I left here the 
men and supphes that were to go with me on my projected excur- 
sion inland. 

We steamed along in full view of the coast, which got higher and 
bolder as we proceeded, and was highly picturesque, and at 9 a.m. 
on August 8th we anchored in Victoria Harbour, Labuan. This 
island lies about fifteen miles off the mouth of the Bruni river, in a 
N.N.E. direction, and is nearly triangular in shape, with an area of 

y Google 


about forty square miles. It is almost flat, the highest point reach- 
ing an elevation of only eighty-six feet above sea level. 

Labuan is so intimately connected with the history of Sarawak 
that I can hardly pass it by without mentioning the more important 
events which led to its occupation. Sir Edward Belcher, with whom 
was Captain James Brooke, the future Rajah, landed on Labuan in 
December, 1844, and the suitability of the island for establishing a 
station was at once recognized. A few days later Brooke received 
from the Sultan of Bruni a letter, in which he offered to cede the 
island to Great Britain. In 1845, Labuan was visited by Admiral 
Keppel, at that time captain in command of H. B.M.'s ship Dido. 
It was then decided that as a naval station it was preferable to the 
island of Balambangan, farther north, which had also been thought 
of for the same purpose. Coal of fairly good quality had meanwhile 
been discovered at Labuan, and this had no small influence in de- 
ciding its occupation ; for what was then wanted was a naval station 
for supplies, and especially coal, for the men-of-war engaged in the 
repression of piracy in the China Sea and among the Malayan Islands. 
'\''ictoria Harbour, as it came to be called, offered, in addition, 
excellent shelter during the north-east monsoon, which is the bad 
season in these seas. 

The occupation of Labuan was, however, only actually decided 
upon in 1846. On December iSth in that year Captain Mundy, then 
commanding H.M.S. Isis, got the act of perpetual cession of the 
island to H.M. the Queen of England and her successors signed 
by Sultan Omar Ali of Bruni, countersigning it in Her Majesty's 
name. No pecuniary compensation was, however, paid to the 
Sultan, as a punishment for his having insulted the British flag. 
On December 24th, Vice-Admiral Sir Tliomas Cochrane and Captain 
Mundy hoisted the British flag, and formally took possession of the 
island in the name of Queen Victoria. 

The hopes built on Labuan have only partially been realized. 
The climate is not so healthy as was at first supposed, fever being 
rather prevalent, and the coal has been the undoing of more than 
one company, for its yield and exportation have fallen considerably 
short of expectations. When I visited the island, the only Europeans 
there were the Government officials, those in charge of a peniten- 
tiary, and the employes of the company which had the working of 
the coal mines. 

Near the sea and round the harbour were only a few houses, 
though not badly built, belonging mainly to Chinamen. The 
bungalows of the Europeans were more inland. The Governor was 
absent at the time, and Mr. (now Sir Hugh) Low, the Colonial 
Treasurer, was Acting-Governor. He was most kind and hos- 
pitable, and wanted us to go and stay at Government House, where 
he then had his quarters. Mr. Low had been one of the early com- 

y Google 

y Google 


rades of Rajah Brooke, and published an excellent book on Sarawak. 
Some of the most beautiful of existing plants were discovered by him 
in Borneo ; and I need only mention the beautiful Nepenthes from 
Kina Balu, and the magnificent Vanda, or Aracknantke, which bears 
his name. Sir Hugh Low was afterwards made resident of Perak, 
where he did much to promote scientific research. I am glad of this 
occasion to record the kind aid he gave to a fellow-countryman of 
mine, the Padre Scortechini, who later fell a victim to his zeal in 
investigating the fJora of the Malay Peninsula, 

In addition to many insects, shells, and plants of Labuan, Mr. 
Low kindly presented me with a singular parasitic plant preserved 
in spirits, which he had collected during an excursion up the Limbang 
river. It turned out to be a second species of that most interest- 
ing genus Brugmansia, belonging to the family of the RafflesiacetB, 
which I have since described and named after the generous donor.' 
Next morning, August 8th, I was up early, Mr. Low having most 
kindly promised to act as my guide on a little excursion across the 
island. We Ih-st went to his bungalow, then undergoing repairs ; but 
he wished to show me his plants, for he was passionately fond of 
horticulture. Round his house the principal fruits of the tropics 
grew in profusion, the pummeloes, or pamplemousses, and several 
varieties of orange with delicious fruits being especially remark- 
able, while mangosteens, lansats, and rambutans abounded. Some 
beautiful orchids which I had not seen in Sarawak had been collec- 
ted in the forest, and were growing there, attached to trunks and 
branches of the trees in the garden. In a streamlet I noted a grace- 
ful Nymphcsa, with light violet flowers, which has now become 
naturalised on the island, where it had been introduced by Mr. Low, 
who had collected it on Mount Kina Balu. As I have already 
remarked, such floating aquatic plants are rare in Borneo, and this 
line species was well worthy of notice. 

The part of Labuan which I crossed is formed wholly of a friable 
kmd of sandstone, but in some places the soil was nothing but loose 
white quartzose sand. The very same formation is found in some 
localities in Sarawak ; as, for example, near Marop, at Sungei Siul, 
near Kuching, in the neighbourhood of Lundu, at the base of Mount 
Mattang, and elsewhere. I have already drawn attention to the fact 
that these locahties are characterised by a peculiar vegetation ; by 
the umbrella Casuarina (C. Sumairana Miq. ?) especially, for 
instance, and frequently, Dacrydium elatum. It was at Labuan, 
whilst examining this formation, that the idea of considering the 
above mentioned localities as remains of islands of a now vanished 
sea first came into my mind.^ 

1 Brugmansia Lowii, Beix. ; in 'Nuovo Giornale Boianico Italiano, 
vol. i. p. 85. 

' In the sandy spots above mentioned I collected Rhodomyrtus tomentosa 

y Google 


The climate of Labuan appears to be much drier than that of the 
north-west portion of Borneo, and the vegetation is also less 
luxuriant, partly, no doubt, because of the poor nature of the soil. 

The Colonial Surgeon showed me a specimen of Ptilocercus Lowii, 
a singular creature only found in Borneo, which I had been vainly 
trjdng to get. It is an arboreal insectivorous mammal allied to the 
Tupaia, and about the size of the common squirrel ; its peculiarity 
Ues in its long tail, which is bare and scaly lilse that of a rat for about 
the iirst half, but has the extremity thicldy covered at the sides with 
long hair, after the manner of the barbs of a feather. The doctor 
evidently prized his rare specimen, and my praises and insinuations 
only made him prize it the more. My object in paying him a visit 
had been that mammal, and I left, alas ! feehng that I had merely 
lost my time. Mr. Low assured me that the Ptilocercus is not rare 
in Labuan, and that it has also been found in Sarawak ; but I was 
unable to obtain a single specimen, although I repeatedly showed 
a picture of it to natives, and offered a good reward to any one who 
would bring me a specimen. 

The following morning we weighed anchor at daybreak, and 
steamed towards the mouth of the Bruni river. The Bornean coast, 
as seen from Labuan, is extremely picturesque. The transparency of 
the atmosphere allowed us to have a distinct view of the grand outline 
of Kina Balu, more than loo miles away. This is not only the highest 
mountain in Borneo, but the highest one on the Asiatic Islands.^ 
I watched it with the greatest interest, for the time seemed drawing 
near when I should tread its summit. This was the dream of my 
youth, but it was never to be realized ! Yet the marvellous plants 
which are to be found upon the mountain had, more than anything 
else, induced me to visit Borneo. 

Mr. Low very nearly reached the summit of Kina Balu in 1850, 
and he made a second ascent of the mountain in 1851, accompanied 
by Mr. St. John. On these occasions several wonderful forms of 
Nepenthes were discovered, and one of them, afterwards named 

(which I had found in Ceylon on the summit of Pedrotallagaila at more than 
8,000 feet), a Leucopogon, a charming Burmannia with violet flowers, a 
Salomonia, tL Utricttlaria, two species of Xyris, and various kinds of Juncus 
and Scirpus ; species which would be thought pecuhar to lacustrine regions, 
but which here grew in dry soil, perhaps because sand easily absorbs and 
retains moisture from the air. The same thing happens in the case of mosses 
on mountains, where grow also certain marsh-loving delicate plants, which 
in Borneo would not find favourable conditions in swampy places on account 
of the prevalence and great development of plants of ranker growth. I was 
also pleasantly surprised to find growing here on the sea beach a smalt fungiDus, 
Paroma (Edipus, a very singular species of Spheriacea, first described by 
Montagne as coming from Martinique, and next found in Italy, near Vercelli, 
by Baron Cesati, and later again by me in great abundance at the Cascine 
of Pisa. 

1 Sir Edward Belcher has given its height as 13,698 feet. 

y Google 

xvii] BRUNI 

N. Rajah, surpasses all other known species for the immense develop- 
ment of its pitchers or ascidia, some of which reach a length of twelve 
inches, are six inches across, and can hold seven pints of water. 
More recently (1887-8) Kina Balu was explored by the well-known 
ornithologist, Mr. G. Whitehead ; and botanically by Dr. G. D. 
Haviland, in March and April, 1892, 

The coast towards which our course was directed appears but 
slightly elevated, and in some places is quite flat near the sea ; but a 
few miles inland it rises, forming an elevated mountain chain, whose 
higher summits are probably more than 6,000 feet high. Bruni is 
thirty-three miles from Labuan in a S.S.W. direction. The entrance 
to its river is not easy, and it is not navigable by large ships. On the 
bar at low tide there are only six or seven feet of water, which 
doubles at high tide. There is, besides, a submerged Eirtificial bar, 
constructed in past times as a defence for the city, with a single 
outlet, which has to be well known by any vessel wishing to enter. 

The Bruni river lies between a double row of hills, which rise on 
each side to a height of three or four hundred feet. They were partly 
cultivated with rice, and had been cleared of the old forest. I re- 
marked on their crest a handsome palm, which I recognized as a 
species of Eugeissonia, differing, however, from E. insignis, which 
I had discovered on the top of Mount Mattang. I was not then able 
to preserve specimens, but I believe I am not mistaken in referring 
it to a species which I subsequently collected on the banks of the 
Rejang {E. utilis, Becc). It is a wild species which produces sago 
of good quahty, and this explains its abundance in cultii'ated 
localities, for had it been useless it would have been destroyed with 
the rest of the forest. 

We passed the small chapel of the Roman Catholic Mission, 
then abandoned and partly ruined. It was placed on a tongue of 
land called Brambanggan, in a charming situation amongst the 
hills. From Mr. St. John's book I gather that the Bruni Mission 
was founded by Sehor Quarteron, in 1857, and that an Italian priest. 
Father Ripa, of Lecco, had its direction. Farther on is the house of 
the British Consul, and then the city comes in view, which some have 
ventured to style the Venice of the East. I admit that Bruni has 
its points; but what irony to compare for a moment the city of marble 
palaces with this mass of miserable huts, which a single match could 
easily reduce to ashes ! 

The houses at Bruni are almost all built on piles, for which the 
stems of nibongs are generally used. They are roofed with "ataps " 
made of nipa or sago palm leaves, and the walls are matting, or 
sometimes planks. AU have a door on the front, against which is 
placed a wooden ladder of the usual form, or a tree-trunk merely 
notched, which leads down to the water. The piles are sunk on mud 
banks in the wide bed of the river, and are always covered with 

y Google 


water, even at low tide, so that always and everywhere the town 
rises out of the water. Some old chiefs, however, assured us that 
four generations back the houses of Bruni were all constructed on 
the river banks. 

Following the main canal, we passed right through the middle of 
the city, and anchored in front of the Sultan's palace, which is 
scarcely more imposing in appearance than the other houses. 

The unexpected arrival of the Heartsease caused a great commo- 
tion in the town. The men appeared at the doors of their houses, and 
looked at us passing with the stolid expression usual to Malays ; 
whilst the women, wishing to satisfy their curiosity without being 
seen, peeped out of all the holes they could avail themselves of. 
Groups of boys squatting, more Malayano, on the bars of the 
house-ladders, contemplated our passage; others jumped into the 
sampans or into the water, where, astride of a plank or any con- 
venient piece of wood, they congregated around the vessel. The 
familiarity of Malay boys with water is simply marvellous ! They 
show plainly enough that they are the descendants of an eminently 
sea or waterside people. Mr. St. John aptly remarks that Malay 
children are suckled, smoke, and swim at the same time. 

Very soon we were surrounded by a great number of sampans 
of all sizes. Most of them were loaded with boys, but many were 
paddled by a single woman, always old and ugly. All had some- 
thing to sell, generally fruits and eatables of various kinds. Krisses 
■ and parangs of different shapes were also offered for sale, but they 
asked fancy prices, far above their actual value. Bruni was once 
famous for the manufacture of these weapons, and the Bruni blades 
were in high repute all over the archipelago, but at present even 
this art appears to have become obsolete. 

As soon as we had cast anchor, we sent a message to the Sultan 
asking for an audience. The answer, which was not long in coming, 
was to the effect that at half-past three the Sultan would be pleased 
to receive us. 

The audience hall was not at all unlike the stage of a theatre, 
and it was quite open on the waterside. Along its outer edge were 
a few bronze cannons of native manufacture. I followed the officers 
to take part in the reception. There was certainly nothing interesting 
or remarkable in the room, but I was, nevertheless, very glad to have 
had the opportunity of seeing it, for it was in this very hall that the 
cession of Sarawak to James Brooke had been ratified, as well as 
the treaty of Labuan with Great Britain. 

Sultan Omar Ali of Bruni was then a stout old man with an un- 
intelligent face. He complained that his strength was failing, that 
his legs were getting weak, and that his harem had become useless 
to him. He was dressed in Malay style, but not over well ; indeed, 
his baju and sarong, although of silk and embroidered with gold, 

y Google 

y Google 


looked as if they had seen long service. He sat at the end of the hall 
at the extremity of a table, at the side of which were chairs forming 
a semicircle. We were invited to sit down on his right ; on the other 
side the Pangerangs, members of the royal family, and the grandees 
of the kingdom took their seats. Several attendants and slaves 
squatted on the ground behind us, and rokos were offered to us — a 
sort of giant cigarette, of which some were quite a foot in length. 
The conversation was not lively ; but then, this was merely a cere- 
monial visit. 

After this reception we visited different parts of the town in our 
launch, and amongst others the market, certainly one of the most 
curious on the face of the globe, for the stalls and shops are all 
boats. The market women were mostly old female slaves, who 
wore huge hats over two feet in diameter, which, indeed, might be 
mistaken for umbrellas. In the morning these boats assemble in 
what may be styled the market-place ; later they disperse all over 
the town. 

We afterwards paid a visit to the British Consulate, where, some 
years before, Mr. St. John had resided. At the time, however, the 
large building, mostly of stone, was only tenanted by a caretaker. 
Whilst the dinner was being prepared in the deserted dining-room, 
I found time to explore the grounds round the house. I did not 
find many botanical rarities, nor did I expect to in a place where the 
old forest had so long been cleared ; but I was able to get a near-at- 
hand look at the palm which I had noticed on our way up the 
river, and to collect specimens of a fine Melastoma with big rose- 
coloured flowers {M. Beccarianum, Coga.). Near the Consulate, on 
the river bank, a fine tree spread a mass of dense foliage. The 
natives asserted that it belonged to the species from which the 
Kayans and Dyaks extract the poison with which they tip their 
sumpitan arrows, It ought, therefore, to be a Upas tree, and under 
that name it is marked on the Admiralty chart. I did not see any 
of its flowers, and from an inspection of the leaves alone I should 
hardly venture on a determination ; but I can without the least hesi- 
tation assert not only that it is no Upas tree (Antiaris toxicana), 
but that it does not even belong to the same family, that of the 

I only saw two merchant praus during our tour through the city : 
an evident proof of the miserable state of its trade, which was 
paralysed by the avidity of the Pangerangs, their extortions, and the 
exorbitant taxation. The natural products of the country inland, 
such as camphor, rotangs, guttapercha, edible birds' nests, etc., 
which used to be collected at Bruni for exportation, now find their 
outlet elsewhere. 

In the evenmg we received on board the visit of Pangerang 
Mahomet, natural brother of Rajah Muda Hassim, who ceded his 

y Google 


rights in Sarawak to Sir James Brooke, and who was assassinated by y 
instigation of the reigning Sultan. 

The Malay character, at all events of the aristocratic portion of 
the population, was well exemphfied in this personage. Intriguing, 
insinuating, and astute, with a mysterious air of self-importance, and 
employing a curiously figurative language, he endeavoured to make 
us understand that he was at the head of a popular party who desired 
European rule. He asserted that his influence over his fehow-citizens 
was great, and tried to make us believe that the people were tired 
of the government of the Sultan, and of the pretences of the Panger- 
angs. Perhaps all he said was true, for the Bruni people could only 
gain by a change of government. The city showed evident signs 
of decay, whilst the prosperity of Sarawak and the security all en- 
joyed there had proved to the people of Bruni that it was far better 
to be governed by Europeans than by one of their native princes. 

There must, undoubtedly, have been a time when all the north-" 
east of Borneo was a dependency of China, According to Mr. St. 
John,' a tradition still lingers at Bruni that North Borneo once be- 
longed to China, and that on the Limbang a Chinese fort once existed, j 
It is well known that at one time a number of Chinese cultivated/ 
pepper at Bruni, and on the Limbang river, where people are still 
living who remember their plantations extending to the Madidit. A 
story is also told of an Orang Kaya of the Murut who was a direct 
descendant of a Chinajnan from Amoy. Many of the descendants 
of these old Chinese pepper planters are not now to be distinguished 
from the natives, having adopted their dress and habits. Some of 
them, now indistinguishably blended with the Muruts, are, accord- 
ing to St. John, to be found up to 150 miles inland on the Limbang 
river, and the same author states that some of the people about 
Kina Balu are very like Chinese. It appears certain that in the past 
the connexions of North Borneo with China, and also with Cochin- 
china, were extensive. But who can say how long such connexions 
had been in existence ? Could the question only be answered we 
might get some light on the origin of the present population 
of Borneo. Nowadays the Chinese in Bruni occupy a separate 
quarter of the town, with shops well provided with the necessities 
of life, but quite devoid of the products of local industries and 

We weighed anchor in the afternoon, and with the tide in our 
favour descended the river ; but when we got to its mouth the water 
was so low that we ran aground in hardly a fathom, and were obliged 
to remain within the bar until the next high tide. Whilst in this 
condition we were approached by several fishing boats, whose crews 
offered us a singulaj bivalve, which is eaten like an oyster. It is the 

= Op. cit. ii. p. 313. 

y Google 


Placuna placenta, whose flat, circular valves, which are very smooth, 
thin, and glassy, and grow to about four inches in diameter, are 
used by the Chinese as glass for their windows. 

In Bruni Bay this mollusc is evidently extremely abundant, for 
the fishermen who sold them to us had loads of them. I had seen 
them also at Santubong in Sarawak, and on the neighbouring coast, 
but only during the north-east monsoon, when the waves probably 
carry them into depths more accessible to the local fishermen. I have 
always felt an instinctive dislike to all kmds of shell-fish, and there- 
fore did not taste these, but my companions who ate them fotmd them 
excellent. After a little time, however, they felt a most trouble- 
some itching sensation in the pharynx, which happily for them did 
not last long. This unpleasant peculiarity of the Placuna was well 
known to our Malays, who attributed it to a parasitic worm living in 
the mollusc, which they always take care to extract before eating the 
latter ; and indeed none of our crew who ate these shell-fish felt 
the slightest inconvenience. I preserved specimens of the parasite, 
which resembled a small Ascaris, in spirits. I found them in all the 
Placunas I examined. 

It is generally believed, and I think with good reason, that 
the name of Borneo, now used for the island, was originally derived 
from that of Bruni city. I may remark that the former is quite 
unknown to most of the natives of the great island, Borneo is 
without doubt a corruption of Bruni, which I have heard pro- 
nounced Brunei and Bornai. An old name of Borneo is " Tana 
Bruni," for the Malays apply the term " Tana," i.e. " Land," also 
to big islands, reserving that of " Pulo " for the small ones. 

Borneo is known to the natives also by the name of Tana {or 
Pulo) Kalamantang, on account, it is said, of the fruit so called, a 
species of wild mango, which abounds in its forests. Whilst on the 
Upper Rejang I heard the name Gunong Kalamantang applied to 
the group of mountains in the interior from which the principal 
rivers in Borneo flow ; they are also called Batu Tabang and Gunong 

From what I was able to see during my brief visits to Labuan and 
Bruni, North Borneo differs notably from the more southern parts 
of the island, not only physically, but also for the political vicissi- 

' In the Sarawak Gazette, of June 2, 1890 (p. 74), I find another hypothesis 
as to the native name of Borneo. Mr. Treacher thinks it possible that the 
derivation of the name Kalamantang, which he spells Kelemantan, is from 
" lemantah," the Malay term for raw sago. This hypothesis appears to me 
to be more probable, for sago is an abundant product on the coasts of Borneo, 
and has been so from remote times. Even the name Gunong Kalamantang 
may have a similar origin, on account of the wild sago got from the Eugeis- 
sonia ulilis, a palm which appears to be very abundant in the interior of 


y Google 


tudes it has undergone, and the greater contact it has had with more 
civilised countries. The region is also more mountainous, has a 
drier climate, and is much more cleared of forests, having evidently- 
been for a longer period under cultivation, although this has lately 
decreased. This is well proved by the herds of buffaloes, oxen, and 
even small horses which are found there. 

y Google 


BiNTULU — The Mellanaos^Flotsam and Jetsam — Dethitus Floating 
ON THE Sea— Additions to my Collections — India- rubber- Pro- 
ducing Creepers — New Sea Plant — -Buketans and Pennans — Idols 
AND Tombs of the Mellanaos — Ascent Oe the Bintulu — -The 
Tubao— Tombs and Houses oe the Kayans — Big Tapang Planks 
— -A Festival — ^Curious Musical Instrument — Camphor and the 
Methods of Extracting it — -Funeral Ceremonies — Notes on the 
Kayans— The Upas and the Preparation of the Poison — Iron 
Ore — New and Interesting Plants— A Singular Bird^The 
Mi N o AN G— Affluents of the Bintulu — A Wild Durian. 

EARLY on the twelfth of August we weighed and proceeded 
towards Bintulu. At sunrise, Kina Balu, which we were 
leaving behind us, could be distinctly seen through the singularly 
transparent atmosphere. The outlines of the coast and that 
of the mountains beyond Bruni were clearly defined, and the eye 
could follow every feature of the landscape. The peaks far inland 
have a very different outline from those nearer Bruni ; the latter 
are rounded, and I therefore infer that they must be formed of 
easily disintegrated materials, perhaps sandstone ; whilst the 
former, among which Gunong Mulu is the most conspicuous, are 
abrupt and precipitous, and are probably limestone. 

On the thirteenth of August we reached Bintulu. The Hearts- 
ease anchored at some distance from the mouth of the river, 
which is about 200 yards in width, for a bar with verj' little water 
on it renders the entrance impossible to vessels of her size. The 
fort of Bintulu, which was built entirely of wood, was in a some- 
what ruinous condition. It stood nearly on the sea-shore, and just 
behind it, at the distance of a few paces, the primeval forest com- 
menced. Next day the Heartsease left, and I remained at Bintulu as 
the guest of Mr. Houghton, the new Resident of the district. That 
night we had a violent storm. 

Some Chinamen had settled in the vicinity of the fort and had 
built a small bazaar ; but the village is chiefly formed by the 
houses of the Mellanaos beyond the Chinese kampong. These 
Mellanaos used to live farther up the river, but since the construction 
of the fort, and the installation of an officer of the Rajah near the 
mouth of the river, they came to settle nearer the sea — a thing which 
they would never have dared to do in former d^ys, for fear of the 

y Google 


attacks of the Lanun pirates and the incursions of the Sea-Dyaks. 
Their houses are built on both sides of the river, always on high piles, 
and with materials mostly furnished by the nipa and sago palms. 
They resemble those of the Dyaks, and are also disposed in long 
rows and divided by planks into many pinius. Outside each house, 
projecting from the main body of the edifice, corresponding to the 
entrance on the river, is a kind of shed, which is used for domestic 
purposes and especially for sago-making operations, 

I have already stated that the greater portion of the inhabitants 
of Bintulu are MeUanaos. These are a very singular people, inhabit- 
ing the mouths of most of the rivers on the north coast of Borneo, 
especially those between the Rejang and the Barram. They 
have also a colony at Santubong, at the mouth of the Sarawak 
river, where they still speak their own language, which is very 
different from the Malay tongue. They also differ from the Malays 
in their customs and habits, and have all the appearance of having 
always been a peaceful people. Very few have been converted to 
Islamism ; most are faithful to their old creed, which consists in a 
belief in good and evil spuits, to which offerings are made to calm 
their anger or to propitiate their good-will. They possess wooden 
idols, very rudely carved, but it does not appear that they worship 
them. They are exposed outside the houses, or have a special place 
in the village where all can easily see them. Usually, as far as I 
could judge, the people do not pay much attention to these images, 
but in tunes of sickness or other troubles they decorate them in 
various ways, often using long white slips made with young nipa 
leaves and plaited in various fashions, very much as is done in 
Italy with palm leaves on the Sunday before Easter. 

The Mellanaos are the principal cultivators of the sago palm on 
the coast ; and the extraction of the fecula from the trunk of that 
palm is their chief industry. They also make elegant .mats with 
slips of "bumbang" (Clinogyne dichotoma), but where they most 
excel is as fishermen. During the entire season of the north-east 
monsoon the shores of this portion of Borneo are nearly uiaccessible 
tothe usual Malay— ^and I may even add European boats — on account 
©f the surf; which is naturally more violent on the river bars, which 
have not much water on them. Notwithstanding this the Mel- 
lanaos go out in almost any weather in their short, but wide- 
beamed boats, called barongs, which are of a peculiar type and very 

At Bintulu they also use the same huge fish-traps which I had 
noticed at Muka, where they had so nearly caused our launch to 
capsize ; but I was not able to examme one closely. Fishing is an 
affair of such importance with the Mellanaos, that the women refuse 
to allow their husbands to enter their houses if they return mthout 
having caught anything. 

257 s 

y Google 


A most singular custom of these people is that of flattening 
the heads of their girl babies, givuig the forehead a sharp slope 
backward ; this malformation is produced by appljang a small 
board to the forehead shortly after birth, and keeping it there for 
many months. 

The Mellanao men at Bintulu dress as Malays ; they are never 
tattooed, nor do they use any kmd of personal ornament. The women 
wear a long shirt or tunic reaching to the feet, made of European 
cotton cloth of a dark blue or nearly black colour, which is at Bintulu 
one of the main articles of importation. This woman's dress has 
very wide sleeves, open on one side with hanging lappets, not unlike 
the costume of Italian ladies in the fourteenth century. The 
aperture of the sleeve is ornamented with buttons or bell-shaped 
pendants, which are often of gold. The Mellanao women also wear 
costly bracelets. 

On the morning after my arrival, I sallied out from the fort 
shortly after simrise and walked towards the beach, where I found a 
lot of women biasily engaged in searching amongst the flotsam and 
jetsam thrown up by the sea. At first it looked as if they were 
picking up stones ; but on approaching nearer I was surprised to 
find that the object of their search was a species of resin, which 
occurred in lumps from about the size of a walnut to that of the 
fist, worn and rounded at the edges just like the river pebbles. 
This resin is the product of some dipterocarp abounding in the 
forests of the interior and carried down by floods to the sea, where 
it acquires the appearance of little rounded stones as above described, 
and on this account is called dammar batu, or stone dammar, by 
the Malays. 

Besides this resin the sea had washed ashore all sorts of vegetable 
detritus, amongst them quite a number of fruits, most of which I 
recognised, though some were new to mc. Some distance above 
the fort a small stream debouched, and after heavy rain I have seen 
this carry down large quantities of mud, which covered the flotsam 
and jetsam cast up by the waves. This is highly instructive, for 
it gives us an undoubted instance of a littoral marine formation 
which consists nearly entirely of land and freshwater vegetable 
remains, and in which the pebbles of resin are in surroundings very 
similar to those in which amber is found. 

The rivers of this portion of Borneo, such as the Rejang, Bintulu, 
and especially the Barram, farther north, must carry down to the 
sea an immense quantity of debris. According to a statement of 
Mr. St. John,' great accumulations of tree-trunks, floating and 
covered with seaweed, have been met with out at sea off Barram 
Point, and have even impeded the course of vessels when the wind 
was slack. On passing Barram Point I did not notice anything of 
^ Op. cii. i. p. '17. 

y Google 


this kind ; but it may easily happen during the bad season after 
persistent rain, when the swollen rivers carry down to the sea 
abundant vegetable flotsam, such as tree trunks and even entire 
trees. From the large quantity of such detritus which I saw myself 
at Bintulu I have no doubt of the correctness of Mr. St. John's 
assertion, only the spot where such accumulations take place may 
vary, Mr. St. John adds that in such places there appears to be 
a condition of the currents which keeps these floating masses 
together, and gives them a gyrating movement.' 

Continuing my excursion, I walked along the beach as far as 
Tanjong Silei, entering a bay whose north-east extremity, Tanjong 
Kedurong, at that time marked the boundary between Rajah 
Brooke's territory and that of the Sultan of Bruni. This bay looks 
deep and is sheltered by hills from the north-east winds, and ought 
thus to afford good anchorage during the " Munsim landas," as the 
north-east monsoon is styled. From Santubong, this is the most 
elevated part of the coast, which is continuously low, partly swampy 
and covered by nipa and mangroves, partly sandy and dotted by 
casuarinas, but always devoid of rocks. On my way back, I 
diverged and followed for a while the course of a streamlet, the 
bottom of which was covered by a singular aquatic plant, Barclaya 
Motleyi, a Nymphacea with submerged leaves and small insignificant 
flowers hidden under water, instead of the large conspicuous ones 
usually admired in such plants. I had already met with Barclaya 
during one of my first excursions in the forest near Kuching ; but 
there I had found it covered with a thick wooUy coating — a very 
exceptional casein a plants which always lives under water. ^ The 
specimens I found in the Bintuiu streamlet were quite glabrous. 
Owing to this peculiarity I preserved a certain number of specimens. 
But the most important botanical booty made on this excursion 
consisted of three new palms, which grew together on a hillock near 
the streamlet. Two were dwarf forms with fan-shaped leaves,, , 
{Licuala Binlulensis, Becc, and L. sfathellijera, Becc). The thirdj^f 
(Gigliolia insignis, Becc.) was the most noteworthy one : an extremely 
elegant palm with a slender stem about an indi and a half in dia- 
meter, and some ten feet high, ending in a tuft of large pinnate fronds 

^ Small floating islands, often some yards in length, were on several 
occasions sighted off this part of the Bomean coast during the cruise of th& 
yacht Marchesa in these waters. — Ed. 

^ In many botanical treatises, even in those of recent date, it is asserted 
that aquatic plants are never hairy. Amongst floating species, however, 
this peculiarity is seen in Pislia straHotes and in Trapa natans ; but, amongst 
those which are completely submerged, Barclaya Motleyi is, perhaps, the only 
instance. To what physiological necessity hairiness in submerged plante 
corresponds I cannot imagine ; neither can I explain why the same species 
should be in some cases covered with hairs, and in others glabrus, though 
in every instance submerged. 


y Google 

IN BORNEAN FORESTS [chap, xviii 

of an unusual type. The new genus which I have established for 
this beautiful palm commemorates the name of Professor Henry H. 
Giglioli ; and— as I have already stated in my Malesia (vol. i. 
p, 171), where this palm is scientifically described — I was happy 
thus and with this dedication to discharge a debt of gratitude 
towards the old friend who has ever followed with much love and 
cordial interest my various peregrinations. Gigliolia is the only 
generic type amongst pahns which is peculiar to Borneo, all the 
other genera of this family being represented in the neighbouring 
lands, especially on the Malay Peninsula and in Sumatra. 

I had so far been unable to find men for my excursions on the 
river, or to fell trees of which I wished to secure specimens ; but, 
thanks to Mr. Houghton's kind aid, I was at last able to engage 
three Malays, who entered my service with a salary of one sukku 
(eighteen cents) per diem. 

On the seventeenth of August it was 72° Fahr. in the night, and 
I observed the same temperature at 6 a.m. Here, as elsewhere, the 
minimum temperature in the twenty-four hours is found just before 
sunrise. The observation of the preceding day was, however, an 
exception to this rule (which I have almost always found true), 
for it gave during the night a minimum of 67'' Fahr. — the lowest 
temperature at sea level which I observed during my stay in Borneo, 
while just previous to sunrise the thermometer stood at 72°. 

Next day I went with my men into the adjacent forest, where 
amongst other interesting plants, I foimd the " Akar Belangan," 
a creeper of the genus Dalhergia : a leguminous plant, with very 
spinous stems, the heart of which assumes with age a red coloration, 
giving origin to the substance which the Malays call "Kayu Lakka." ^ 
This is much sought after by Chinamen, who use it as they do 
" Aguila," or " Aquila wood," or " Ankaras," ui reHgious ceremonies, 
but not as a dye, as the native name might appear to imply, " Lakka " 
meaning " red dye." 

In the Bintulu forest certain creepers belonging to the family 
of the Apocynacese abounded, highly interesting from an industrial 
point of view, for from some of them indiarubber of a good quality 
is obtained. Amongst them was a new Leuconoiis, which I propose 
to distinguish as L . elastica . It is known in Sarawak by 
the names of " Akar sarapat laki " and " Akar janta-an ular," and 
I had found it at Kuching ; but it does not appear to be common 
in any place, and this is a pitj', for the milky juice it exudes 
coagulates at once in elastic filaments, giving an indiarubber 

1 The spines which cover the stem of this Dalbergia, which appears to be 
allied to D. parviflora, Roxb., are of quite a pecuhar nature, and not produced 
from the epidermis, nor the result of modifications of branches or stipules. 
Morphologically they appear to me aerial rootlets — a very rare case amongst 
Dicotyledonous plants, though not uncom 

y Google 

Fig. 45. — I eucoHohs elasHca, ISec 

y Google 


of a superior quality. This the native name "laki," or " male," 
would imply, being a term which Malays apply to trees, fruits, 
or other objects excellent of then kind. The greater portion 
of indiarubber of good quality, called " Ghetta janta-an sussu," is 
produced in Sarawak by Willughbeia firma, and by Urmtlana 
oUongifolia, Stapf. (P.B., No. 2,272), and probably by other species 
of these two genera, all of which when incised exude an abundant 
milky juice, though only in a few does it coagulate, giving rise to 
a product of commercial value. 

The eighteenth of August was a fine bright day, of which I took 
advantage to finish the drying of the plants 1 had collected, arranging 
them so that there might be no further danger with regard to their 
preservation. A large number were already prepared ; these I tied 
up in packages, and hung tliem up under the roof of the fort, so that 
they might be safe from rats. Those still damp I also tied up, but 
not so tightlv, doubling the sheets of paper between the specimens. 
I then hung" them up in the Resident's kitchen over the fireplace, 
but high enough to receive only a moderate heat. On my return 
I found all of them in an excellent state of preservation. 

Towards dusk, on the banks of the Bintulu, I caught some 
curious crustaceans and a small water snake. It was only after I 
had been wading about for some time that I discovered that the 
soft substance under my feet was not mud, but a sheet of vegetation 
composed of a minute submerged plant hidden by a thin layer of 
fine slush, so that it was not easily distinguishable at first. I after- 
wards found that in some places it was uncovered and quite exposed. 
This plant, which formed patches or small uniform meadows 
uncovered at low tide, turned out to be an important botanical 
novelty, Halophila Beccarii, Aschers. (in Nuovo Giorn. Bot. Ital., 
iii. p. 302}, belonging to that scarce group of plants which live and 
blossom in the sea. The flowers of this Halofhiler are very small, 
composed of three petals of a whitish colour, veined and nearly 
transparent. When I found them the corollas were open, having 
e\-idently taken advantage of the low tide to expand their petals.^ 

1 This marine Phanerogam suggested to me some further points on the 
difficulties which heset hving organisms in the present epoch in their adapta- 
tion to the surrounding medium. It is beyond doubt that the genera and 
the species of Phanerogams which are now found living on the sea bottom, 
all belonging to the Hydrocharids and to the Najads — plants which abound 
in marshes— are derived from those which grow in fresh water ; but the number 
of the former, compared to that of the latter, is indeed small, notwithstanding 
that for an immeasurable period of time the seeds of an infinite number of 
marsh-loving plants must beyond doubt have been carried to the sea and 
deposited on its bottom. This means that only at one given epoch, and in 
a very few cases, has the adaptation of a freshwater plant to life in salt water 
been possible. If it were not so, the sea bottom would now be as well pro- 
vided with plants and flowers as is the surface of dry land. There are few 
cases in which so great a power of adaptability is needed as in the one under 

y Google 


During the last few days I had been actively engaged in the neces- 
sary preparations for an excursion into the Kayan country by the 
ascent of the Bintulu river, I had for this purpose procured a boat 
with a crew of six paddlers ; and as the Kayans do not use money, 
I had bought from the Chinese an assortment of Venetian glass 
beads or " manet," ' and a quantity of white, yellow, red, and more 
especially dark blue cotton cloth, this being one of the more appre- 
ciated articles for barter on the Bintulu. 

Shortly after sunrise on the nineteenth of August I left the 
fort, but soon found that our progress was slow ; in fact, we had both 
tide and wind against us ; besides, the boat was both heavy and 
heavily laden, and as if this were not enough, it leaked. We were 
fully three hours getting to Spadok, where the pQes of the old 
Mellanao village could still be seen. 

A small house which we entered to cook onr breakfast was in- 
habited by a Buketan — a true savage of the interior. He was of 
athletic proportions and beautifully tattooed, and the lobes of his 
ears were enormously distended by two heavy brass earrings. I 
do not know how this " Man of the Woods " happened to be there, 
where I was told he had been living for some years, but he was the 
only indi\'idual of this peculiar people that I saw whilst in Borneo. 
I never met him again, and am sorry that I did not sketch his portrait, 
and take more detailed notes on his characteristics. Amongst my 
collections, however, is the perfect skull of a Buketan, which was 
given to me by the Tuan Muda at Simanggan, when I passed through 
that place on my return journey at the end of October. He had 
received it from a Dyak, and I do not think there can be any doubt 
as to its authenticity. It has been carefully described and figured 
by Professor Arturo 2annetti.^ 

Not much, indeed, can be got from a single skull as to the affini- 
ties or diversities of the Buketans with regard to other Bornean 
tribes. It does not show any remarkable peculiarity, the only 
character worthy of notice being the strongly developed muscular 

consideration, for the strong action of salt water on the cells of the 
majority of plants is weU known. Thus, when the change from a terrestrial 
or freshwater existence to a marine or estuarine one took place, the capability 
of plants to adapt themselves to life-conditions different from those to which 
they were until then accustomed — in a word, to undergo plasmation through 
their environment — must have been at its apogee, and must have gone on 
diminishing until it ceased entirely later on. 

' I have heard or read — ^I do not now remember where — that the term 
" manet " is a corruption of the Italian word moneta (money), which was used 
for glass beads at the time when the Venetians were the foremost traders 
in the world. Admitting this to be true, it must not, however, be forgotten 
that the Venetians made their glass beads in imitation of the Chinese, who, 
it appears, had used them from the remotest times in their commercial trans- 
actions with the less civilised tribes of Southern Asia and the Malay Islands. 

^ Archivio per I'Antrop, e la Etnol. ii. p. 156 ; tav. 3. Firenze, 1872, 



attachments on the lower jaw. These might, perhaps, be caused 
by the abnormal development of the cheek muscles owing to the 
constant use of the sumpitan or blow-pipe, the favourite weapon 
of the Buketans. 

At 6 p.m., there being no habitation near, we stopped on the 
bank of the river to cook oar supper. Mosquitoes were in abundance. 
We passed the night in the boat, and had fine rain. 

Next morning we were off again at sunrise. Hitherto I had 
only seen nipa and sago pahns on the banks of the river, but now 
other kinds of trees occurred intermingled with them. I could not 
then stop to collect plants, intending to do so on my return, and thus 
I avoided the trouble of preparing them whilst travelling. Never- 
theless, I could not resist the temptation of taking a few specimens 
of the magnificent Hoya imperialis ; it was such a joy to be able to 
handle its charming flowers, which are of a lovely violet, spotted with 
white at the centre. 

At nine o'clock we stopped at a rude hut or lanko of the 
Punans, a tribe inhabiting some of the affluents of the Bintulu. 
The Punans, like the Buketans, are true forest nomads, and have 
no permanent houses, but only temporary shelters or rude huts, 
which they construct without much trouble in those places where 
the jungle offers them wild animals to hunt and wild fruits on which 
they can feed. They naturally undertake no cultivation, except in 
the case of a few, who, by frequenting the villages of the Mellanaos 
and Kayans, have learnt the advantage of sowing some rice and 
planting a few sugar canes and bananas. They hunt wild animals 
solely with the sumpitan and its small peculiar arrows tipped with 
upas, and they also use dogs, which they breed in considerable 
numbers. They make very fine mats ; but this is, I believe, their 
-only art, though they are great collectors of wax, camphor, gutta- 
percha, rotangs and edible nests. When they have exhausted the 
produce of a locality they move on to another. My servant, Sahat, 
assured me that he had once traded a good deal with the Punans, 
and observed that they are frequently affected by hernia, caused by 
the constant use of the sumpitan. Besides this weapon they have 
the parang ilang, and wooden shields for defence similar to those of 
the Kayans, called " utak " ; but these I shall describe further on. 

Physically the Punans differ but slightly from the Kayans ; 
perhaps their cheek bones are a httle more projecting and their 
lower jaw more heavy. They tattoo sHghtly on various parts of 
the body. The operation is performed with the milky secretion of 
the Bua Rambei, to which they add black pigment obtained by 
burning dammar. They pierce the lobe of the eats, and insert one 
or more brass or tin rings, so heavy that the ears get distended to 
such an extent that the hand may be passed through the perforation 
of the lobes, which hang down to the shoulders and even reach the 

y Google 


breast. Like the Kayans, they also bore the upper margin of the 
ear, inserting the canine tooth of a bear or leopard. 

The custom of ornamenting the ears in an exaggerated fashion, 
disfiguring them with heavy pendants, appears to have been prac- 
tised in remote times by the people of India, as may be seen in the 
figures on their ancient monuments. Thus nearly all the human 
figures of the many hundreds reproduced on the teiriple at Boro 
Budor, in Java, show distinctly this peculiar mutilation, which is 
still practised by the more barbarous tribes inhabiting parts of 

The mode of trading of the Punans and also of the Buketans, 
if my information is correct, is peculiar. They never show them- 
selves on such occasions ; but those who know their ways deposit 
in certain places the objects they wish to give in exchange for forest 
produce. The savages come and take them away, leaving in their 
stead what they think is the just equivalent.' 

The Punans and Buketans are man-hunters ; that is to say, they 
consider as their natural and lawful prey any human being with 
whom they have no dealings. But they onlv take the property of 
the person they have slain, and do not care to preserve his head as 
a war trophy. 

Shortly after midday we reached Pandan, a Mellanao village, 
where I saw two remarkable objects. One was a reproduction of 
two human figures, one on the top of the other, rudely carved out 
of the trunk of a tree, one of the figures holding an "utak" or 
wooden shield in his hand. I cannot say whether this curious 
artistic reproduction of the MeUanaos was an idol and connected 
in any way with religion or superstition, or a sort of monument 
commemorating some defunct notability. The other object was 
much more elaborate, consisting of a wooden column, about sixteen 
feet high, covered with carving, on whose top were two boards 
placed horizontally across and at a certain distance, so as to form 
a sort of case open at each end. The pillar was thus in shape like 
a huge T. From the end of each transverse plank hung various 
ornaments, among them being young leaves of the nipa, of a white 
colour, cut into long slips, some of which were variously plaited, 
while numerous strips of white, yellow, and red cotton cloth completed 
the decoration. I was able to ascertain that this was really a 
monumental grave. The column was hollow, and contained one of 
the precious tajau, or ancient jars, mentioned on a previous page, 
in which were deposited the bones of the deceased. The upper 
transverse case contained some of his belongings, whilst others, 
such as gongs, pots, dishes, etc., hung outside against the pillar. 

1 This custom has been existent in various savage tribes since the days 
of Herodotus, among the dwarfs in Africa, the Veddas in Ceylcn, and the 
Kubus of Sumatra. — Ed. 


y Google 


We continued to paddle till 5 p.m., and then rested for the night. 
At 10 a.m. on the 21st August, after three hours' paddling, we 
reached Labbang, where we halted for breakfat. The village 
is built where an affluent of that name enters the Bintulu. It is 
a deep stream, and can be ascended in boats for five or six days, 
its waters flowing slowly in a flooded expanse between low banks 
covered with dense vegetation. 

Labbang village consists of three or four houses on piles, like 
those of every other village on the Bintulu. The floating landing- 
stage was made of very big tree-trunks, and my men preferred to 
cook their rice on this to doing so in the houses, which are small, 
dirty and most uncomfortable. The people here are true Mel- 
lanaos, but they have assumed some of the customs of the Kayans, 
and have the same weapons. The men in the jungle wear merely 
the jawai, but when at home dress as Malays. The women have 
wide trousers, and a long haju or jacket of dark blue cotton cloth, 
with long open sleeves ornamented with brass buttons or rings, the 
dress on the whole being very similar to that of the Bintulese, In 
this part of the country the banks of the Bintulu are cleared only for 
about a hundred yards from the water's edge— a sign that rice is 

At noon we got into the sampan and started again, paddling for 
five hours. The current was not very strong, but the water was 
very muddy ; the banks, which rise some six feet above the water, 
are level and drj'. There were said to be many crocodiles here, and 
that they were dangerous, but we saw little enough in the way of 
animal life. We passed the night on the bank, as the ground was 
dry, and sleeping in the boat was very inconvenient on account of 
the small soace available, most of it being taken up by our luggage 
and provisions. No more viUages or even detached huts were 
to be met with until we reached the Kayan territory. 

In the afternoon I had an attack of fever. At 7 p.m. violent 
rain came on suddenly, with lightning and loud crashes of thunder. 
It rained the whole night through, and yet this is the height of the 
dry season ! The Malays slept well, although their bed was far 
from being a comfortable one ; and I had some difficulty in waking 
up my men next morning ! The rain had caused the river to rise, 
but the current was not sufflcient to stop our ascent of the stream. 
The river banks were now very picturesque, no longer level and 
uniform, but varied with hiUs, and here and there a projecting 
precipitous bluff, on which great trees had taken root, spreading 
huge branches covered with epiphytes over the river. Some giant 
banyans, too, cast the shadow of their colossal foliage over the stream, 
and while their myriads of glossy leaves, bathed in shimmering hght, 
seemed to strive upward for stiU freer contact with the air, the 
attractions of Mother Earth seemed not less great, for countless 

y Google 

xviii] THE TUBAO 

fflamentous rootlets hung from the branches to the surface of the 
water, where they assumed the appearance of enormous floating 
wigs. There was not a trace of the presence of Man, and Nature 
asserted herself in all her savage beauty and grandeur. These are 
the spots which I delight in, and which offer the richest harvest to 
the collector ; but I couJd hardly spare the time to examine the 
vegetation carefully, for I hoped to reach the Kayan village that 
evening. Suddenly we heard the distant soiind of gongs, which 
told us that some one was coming down the river, and shortly after, 
on turning a projecting point, we met Pangerang Rio, a Malay in 
the Sarawak Government service, on his way back to Bintulu. He 
had gone up the river by order of the Resident, Mr. Houghton, to 
acquaint the Tubao Kayans of my coming. 

It was half-past four in the afternoon when we left the Bintulu 
and entered the Tubao. I had wished to reach the Kayan village 
before nightfall; but even in the Tubao the current was strong — on 
accountof therain of the preceding day — and after an hour's paddling 
my men were done, and persuaded me to rest for the night at a small 
isolated but which we had come to. 

This was a Kayan hut, and, although no one was there, contained 
the usual furniture and utensils of such habitations. The Kayans 
are not afraid that their houses will be robbed if left without anyone 
to guard them, at least, in peaceful times, for they have a plan which 
effectually prevents this, though it is doubtful whether it would be 
as successful in our more civilised countries. When the owners of 
a house are obhged to absent themselves and leave it to take care 
of itself, they place certain tokens in visible places which cause 
their property to be respected by any casual visitor of their own 
nationality. Thus, opposite the house which we now entered, a 
stone was suspended by a strip of rotang to a pole as a warning to 
any prospective ill-doer that his head would pay for any object 
taken away and appropriated by him. Apparently the same 
signification was to be attributed to a piece of wood cut in the 
shape of a parang, which was also suspended from a pole near some 
planks of bilian or iron-wood lying outside the hut, 

I believe that it is not so much the fear of material punishment 
which causes this form of tabu to be so strictly respected as that 
of the malediction which, on setting up these charms, the pro- 
prietor pronounces against the tran,sgressor audacious enough to 
possess himself of objects placed under ■pamali, or mattang, as the 
Malays term it. 

The river here had overflowed its banks and deposited quantities 
of vegetable detritus around the hut, which I searched through, 
taking advantage of the remaining daylight. My search was amply 
rewarded, and I collected quite a number of small land shells and 
insects, especially micro-Coleoptera, but, unfortunately, all these 

y Google 


specimens were afterwards lost. It rained again late at night,- bnt 
we were this time under a shelter much better than that of the 
mats or " kadjans " of our narrow sampan. 

In the morning it was still raining, but as soon as I had taken 
my tea we started towards Tubao, as the Kayan village is called, 
like the river. This latter is tortuous and torrential, and runs 
between narrow banks covered by vegetation of secondary growth. 
No forest was in sight, neither did I see any large isolated trees 
except a few Minuangs. We frequently met with tombs : two were 
remarkable ; but that of Kam-Lassa, a Kayan chief recently deceased, 
surpassed all the rest in size and decorations. It had the form of a 
large shed, with a roof surmounted by a carved and perforated 
ridge of excellent workmanship, and supported by columns of bilian 
wood. I was told that it was the work of a Bruni artist, and 
had cost fifty pikuls of bronze objects, especially gongs ; an enor- 
mous sum for these countries. ' Some tombs were merely marked 
by a board fixed upright, with white, yellow and red streamers 
stuck around, or even fastened on the branches of the nearest shrubs. 

The village of Tubao, where we arrived two hours later, consisted 
only of four houses ; but they were very large ones and well built, in 
an elevated position, for the river bank is high. Three of the houses 
were exceedingly long ; the fourth was mudi smaller. Each house 
was, as usual, divided into as many apartments {pinlu) as the number 
of the families which hved in the house. The biggest house had 
twenty-seven fintus ; the second, twenty-two ; the third, thirteen, 
and the smaller one only six. 

I took up my quarters in the house with thirteen finlus. Like 
the others, it was built on piles, which raised its platform or flooring 
about twenty-five feet from the ground, and it was reached by a 
slender tree-trunk, with deep notches at regular intervals which 
served as steps ; though it certainly looked mudi more like a roosting- 
ladder for poultry than the staircase leading to a human habitation, 
and required no small acrobatic ability in those who had to chmb it. 
Like Dyak houses the building was span-roofed, and the inside was 
similarly divided longitudinally into two nearly equal compartments, 
the front one forming a kind of long common corridor or covered 
verandah without partitions, where the inhabitants assemble to 
smoke, work, and chatter ; the back half being divided into apart- 
ments or chambers, which appeared to me more spacious and cleaner 
than those of the Dyaks which I had seen. It must be remarked, 
however, that this house was of recent construction. 

The roof was partly covered with ataps, and partly with 
flat tiles of bilian wood slightly imbricated, and must thus have 
been very durable, this wood being all but indestructible. The 

1 The pikul is equivalent to r33j pounds avoirdupois, and is divided into 
loo kattis. 


y Google 


floorii^ was much better than that usually met with in such houses, 
being formed of boards thinned with the adze ; and similar planks 
were iised for the divisions between the pinius. 

The most valuable things in this house were immense planks of 
a beautiful wood used for squatting on by chiefs holding councils, and 
also as beds. They were of a very hard close-grained wood of a deep 
red colour, taking a beautiful polish, and, to my thinking, finer and 
superior in quality to the best mahogany. The plank on which I 
had laid my " tilang " or bedding was over two inches thick, eight 
feet in length, and six in width. At Sarawak, in the possession of 
a European, I have seen bigger planks, but I did not note their 
dimensions. >- At first I was puzzled by the extraordinary dimensions 
of these planks, for I could hardly imagine that there were trees 
with trunks big enough to furnish such sections. But later the 
manner in which they were obtained was explained to me, and I was 
also able to see them cut. 

The tree from which they are obtained is that king of the forest 
the tapang (A bauria excelsa), whose colossal dimensions I have already 
described.' If one looks at the base of a large tapang it is easy to 
understand how the above-described huge planks are obtained, for 
the Abauria is one of those trees which produce vast buttresses 
around their base. These great laminar projections, called by the 
natives " banner,^'' are in some cases of immense size, and at the same 
time so smooth and thin that by cutting them at their origin from 
the trunk, and at the ground level, planks like those described can 
be obtained at but httle trouble and expense, and without either 
cutting down the tree or doing it any injurj'. I afterwards met with 
specimens of tapang in the forest which still bore the traces of having 
thus been operated upon, and which did not seem to have suffered 
in any way. 

In the houses at Tubao we only found three women, all of whom 
were ailing. The entire population was away preparing the ground for 
rice sowing. Pangerang Rio had, however, announced my arrival 
to the chiefs. The Pangerang, a native of Bruni, had managed to 
become the factotum of Bintulu, and was employed by the Resident 
in his communications with the inland chiefs. I learnt from the 
Tubao Kayans that Pangerang Rio had ordered there 2,000 small 
parcels of siri for the Government, but I am inclined to think that 
they were a personal compensation for his trip. 

In the afternoon one of the Kayan chiefs named Tummusong 
called on me. He was a tall fine-looking young man of serious 
expression, who sported a tuft of beard on one side of his chin, the 
other being completely bare, His hands were tattooed : a distinction 

1 Mr. St. John (Op, cit. i. p. 102) mentions a tapang plank 10 ft, 6 in. 
long, and 6 ft. 6 in. wide, and another 15 ft, by 9 ft. 

2 Cf. ante, p- 109. 


y Google 


specia] to chiefs who have shown courage and killed their man in 
the wars. 

Tummvisong and his companions had a good look at me, and 
next proceeded to examine my things, asking questions and desiring 
explanations on everything. But what struck their iancy most 
were the small bottles and glass tubes in which I preserved insects. 
Having a good assortment, I gave them a few as presents, and saw 
at once that they were much pleased. 

Rain fell nearly all day, and I remained in the houses allaying 
the curiosity of the Kayans on one side and mine on the other, for I 
gathered much information on their customs and habits and on their 
country. I was specially anxious to ascertain where I could find 
the camphor tree, and the iron ore from which the Kayans extract 
the metal for their weapons, desiring to go next day in search of 

It continued to rain during the night : but the morning of the 
24th was fine, and at 8 a,m. I started in my sampan up 
the Tubao after the camphor tree. My Malays had added to their 
number two natives from the interior of a tribe unknown to me. who 
had been engaged to serve me as giiides by Pangerang Rio. After 
having paddled for a couple of hours, I found out that these natives 
were perfect strangers to the coimtry, and were ignorant of even 
the name of the lulls where the camphor trees grew. Moreover, 
they did not understand a single word o£ the Bintulu dialect, I 
therefore turned back to try and find more suitable guides for ray 

On my return to the village I found that other Kayans had 
arrived. Some came from neighbouring villages on purpose to get 
medicines from me. They appeared to be quite mad on medicine. 
Ammonia, as always amongst such people, created a great sensation. 
The wry faces of those who placed their noses on the bottle containing 
it were greeted with peals of laughter. All wanted to smell it, and 
all wanted to have a look inside my medicine chest, and then would 
load me with questions as to its contents. It seemed as if they were 
quite sorry not to be lU in order to have an occasion of experiencing 
the effects of ajl these remedies on themselves. The fact of possessing; 
the means of healing disease was quite enough to raise me to the 
dignity of a wizard or sorcerer in their eyes. Indeed, one or two 
showed me the palm of their hands that I might, from the signs 
thereon, predict their fortune. To them the physician and the 
wizard are one and the same, and I contributed to the strengthening 
of their belief by shooting a bird on the wing. Their surprise 
became stupor when they saw me handle unharmed an innocent 
millipede (lulus), which they consider highly poisonous. 

Iri the evening more Kayans arrived, and with them their chief, 
Kam Nipa, a well-made and active young man about thirty years 

y Google 

xviii] A FESTIVAL 

of age, most civil and intelligent, and owner of the house in which 
I was stajdng. He spoke Malay fluently, and did not bother me 
with continual questions, as most of his fellow tribesmen did. His 
wife, Henan-Riam, was sufEering from ague, and aslcedme for quinine. 
She was a fine young woman with a sweet and pleasing expression, 
and of very light complexion. I was told that the Kayan women 
were true Amazons, following their husbands on their war expedi- 
tions, when they replace the badang (petticoat) with the jaieiat, a.nd. 

donning the characteristic coat of goat-skin, arm themselves with 
the parang-ilang and a spear, and carry a large wooden shield. 

Later, the Kayans got up an entertainment for me in the shape 
of a dance, towards which I contributed the candles. It was very 
different from the usual Dyak dances, which consist of various 
contortions and ungraceful movements. The Kayan dance — at 
least the one I saw — was, instead, a kind of warlike pantomime, with 
no lack of broad humour, with the kror& as orchestral accompani- 

y Google 


ment. This is a singular modification of the ubiquitous Pan's 
pipes, consisting of six slender bamboo tubes, tied together hke the 
pipes of an organ, and inserted in a pear-shaped gourd with a longish 
neck open at its end. The mouth is applied to this, and each tube 
has a finger-hole on one side. It might also be compared to a bag- 
pipe : the gourd substitutes the bag, and, Instead of a single tube 
with several finger-holes, we have here several tubes each with one 
hole. A musical instrument similar to the one now described, but 
bigger, is used in Siam. 

Next day I was able to find a Kayan, named Kam-Uan, who, 
with two others, undertook to guide me to Gunong Sedaha, the 
hill on which the camphor tree grows. I started at 8 a.m., having 
four of my men in addition to the three Kayans. I agreed to give 
each of my Kayan guides four fathoms of red cotton cloth. We 
ascended the Tubao for about three hours and reached a lankb, 
from which the road leading to Gunong Sedaha starts. The hill 
was not far off, and after the usual frugal rice dinner we directed our 
steps towards it without loss of time. The forest begins about a 
mile from the river, and extends over the hills, and we had hardly 
entered it before we came on camphor trees (Dryobalanops) of large 
size, which were quite abundant. Here, however, as in all Bomean 
forests, no species of tree predominates so as to influence the aspect 
of the forest. The various species are intermingled ; and when I 
say that the camphor trees were abundant, I mean that perhaps 
amongst thirty or forty big trees belonging to different famihes 
and widely different species, one or two Dryobalanops were to be 
found. The locahty had certainly been often visited, for most of 
the trunks of the camphor trees bore evident signs of having been 
tapped. 1 

Wishing to preserve herbarium specimens of the authentic 
species which produces camphor in the Bintulu region, I had one of 
the smaller trees cut down, but in its trunk I oidy found a small 
quantity of \'iscid and highly odoriferous yellow oil. 

The collecting of camphor is a very uncertain operation, for 
although a good number of the trees may contain the precious resin 
in their trunks, few have it in such quantities as to repay the trouble 
of extraction. As in the case of most things where luck comes into 
play» it is connected with many superstitions ; a rule, by the way, 
■which holds good not only with savages, but also with the less 
educated amongst civilised nations. I do not think that any one 
has as yet described the process of collecting camphor in Borneo, 
and the following notes may therefore be of interest. 

When the Kayans decide to start on a camphor-collecting expe- 

1 According to some travellers (Low, Op. cit., p. 45), the camphor tree is 
found near the Sarawak. This, however, is not the true tree, but an allied 
species which produces excellent timber, but no camphor. 

y Google 


dition they hold a meeting, and begin bj' seeking an omen through 
birds. This being good they start; and if in the forest one of their num- 
ber dreams of women, rice, fish, and various other things in accordance 
with their fancies, they feel sure of good luck. The fortunate one 
who has dreamt the dream of good omen begins to tap the chosen 
trunk, notching it deeply just above the foot. But it appears that 

the dreams for camphor successes are very like those for a lucky 
mrniber in a lottery, for both in the plains and on the hills I met with 
many a notched camphor tree — a certain proof of negative results. 
The first notch is usually cut at about five feet from the ground, 
and experienced searchers can tell from the smell of the wood if 
there is or is not any camphor worth the getting. Trees which have 
273 T 

y Google 


been once tried, after a certain time are tried again a little higher up. 
Sometimes one sees them with three or four of these notches up the 
trunk. One I saw, which was quite 160 feet high, with the cylindrical 
portion of its trunk above the butt about three and a half feet in 
diameter, had three notches partly healed up. Kam-Uan was of 
opinion that this tree ought to be now rich in camphof.judging by 
the smell given off by the chips of its wood, and he asserted that he 
would return to look for it as soon as he had dreamt a favoiurable 
dream. In collecting camphor, the Kayans of the Tubao do not 
fell the tree, but proceed in the following manner. Having ascer- 
tained that the tree is productive, they deepen the trial notch and 
then make another one above it. If this shows camphor they cut 
a third notch higher still, and so on imtil no more of the precious 
secretion is to be seen. Then the trunk is split longitudinally, and 
all the wood between the notches cut out. It is divided into small 
pieces, and the'resin, which hes in the fissures between the fibres and 
layers of the wood, is picked and scraped out. 

From other sources I learnt that in some other localities in the 
Btntulu district the tree is felled and cut up into as many portions 
as there are members of the party, each one extracting the camphor 
from his own piece. Sometimes, instead of camphor in a solid 
condition, a soft variety is found, which is whitish and of a mucila- 
ginous nature. Such a find may be the caiise of a tragedy, for by a 
curious association of ideas it is thought to be a proof of infidelity 
on the part of the wife of the discoverer. I have been told that it 
has happened in such cases that the unfortunate finder, stung by the 
jeers of his companions, has rushed home and killed his supposed 
unfaithful wife without further explanation. 

Strange stories are told by the Kayans of transformations of the 
camphor which is being collected into cigars and siri leaves, but 
this, no doubt, is the work of some clever light-fingered member of 
the party. TTie camphor hunters must only talk of women and 
erotic subjects ; they must wear no article of dress besides the jawat. 
The friok — the vessel for cooking rice — must not be used ; and they 
must not indulge either in siri or tobacco. This is saying a good 
deal, for the Kayans, like the Dyaks, prefer going without rice to 
depriving themselves of tobacco. 

The camphor tree of the Kayan country attains a great size. 
Its bark is of a dark colour, and comes off in thin flakes. At the base 
the trunk is wider, but does not throw out true laminar buttresses 
or banner. Botanically, the tree must be considered a true Dryobala- 
nops, but it is specifically different from that which produces camphor 
in Sumatra, and from any other hitherto described. It may be dis- 
tinguished under the name of D. Kayanensis (P.B„ No. 3.734)- 
The camphor it produces is found both in large and small trees, and 
no external sign indicates its presence. In a large tree as much as 

y Google 


fourteen or fifteen pounds of the drug may be found ; but this is a 
rare and fortunate occurrence, for Borneo camphor has a value 
about twenty times greater than that of the Chinese drug. At 
Bintulu the price of a katty (i^ lb.) then varied from nine to ten 
pieces of blaju (common white unbleached calico). The pieces of 
red cotton cloth {sumba mera) have a higher price, whilst yellow 
cotton cloth {sumba kuning) is less valuable than the red, but more 
so than the white. ■ 

We slept in the forest, and early next morning began to climb 
the hill, which is far less formidable than it had been described 
to me. Camphor trees abounded all the way up. We reached the 
summit in a couple of hours, and found its elevation to be about 
1,574 feet. The thermometer stood at 77° Fahr., and the aneroid 
marked 72r-3 millira. In a streamlet wliich flows down the side of 
the hill I collected three species of Gasteropod molluscs. The hiil 
is of argillaceous sandstone, very friable and easily decomposed, 
and in consequence the waters of the brook were turbid, an unusual 
thing in Borneo. Finding nothing of much interest, we soon 
descended to the plain, following the way we had taken on our 
climb up, and returned by the river to Tubao village. That evening 
I gave my guides the compensation I had promised them, and dis- 
tributed glass beads, or manel, to the women and children, which 
made them very friendly towards me, indeed, rather too much so. 

As I was talking with the Kayans around me I heard weeping and 
loud lamentations issuing from a house next to the one I occupied, 
and on inquiry I learnt that an old man who had been long ill was 
then dying. The corpse was left lying on the mat that night ; but 
the next morning it was dressed up in the deceased's best clothes, 
and placed in a sitting posture, with siri and a cigar in the mouth. 
The body was to be buried three days later, and in the interval the 
wooden coffin was made. I was told that the bodies of chiefs are 
kept exposed thus in their houses eight days before they are buried. 
After some time, as far as I could make out, the body is exhumed ; 
the bones are collected and enclosed in a new coffin, together with 
a part of the belongings of the deceased. There is also the singular 
custom that, if on returning from a burial the women meet men, 
they bespatter them with mud, or any kind of filth that they can 
lay hands on. Another strange custom is called " Bolen," and 
consists in a fine in merchandise, varying in value from ten to 
twenty dollars, which the first traveller or trader who arrives in 
the village after a death is obliged to pay. 

The Tubao Kayans appeared to me a finer and more vigorous 
race than the Dyaks. Not a few were tall and as well-proportioned 
as any Greek statue. Their usual dress consists merely of the 
}'awat of cotton cloth, and this is the only garment they wear when 
i in rice cultivation or hunting in the forest. When on a war 

y Google 


expedition they put on a curious coat made of goat's skin, or, more 
rarely, of that of the bear or leopard, which serves as an efficient pro- 
tection against the poisoned arrows of the sumpitan. In shape it 
may be compared to a short South American poncho, being oblong 
and with a hole in the middle through which the head passes, 
one half hanging down in front the other half behind, thus leaving 
the j aims free,' This war dress is completed by a singular cap 

Fig. 48. A KINYA 

or hat ornamented with big feathers, usually those of the horn- 
bill. The above-described poncho is also often covered with similar 
feathers. Ear ornaments, often of gold and of fine workmanship, 
are commonly worn ; and, like the Punans, the Kayans are very 

1 We may regard this species of poncho as the primitive type of dress, 
wora on ceremonial occasions alike by the fakir of the Far East, and by the 

Pope, when he officiates i 

St. Peter's at Rome ! 

y Google 



rarely without two big canine teeth, either of the bear or leopard, 
passed through the upper portion of the cartilage of each ear, with 
the point turned outwards and downwards, imparting a singular 
ferocity to the aspect of these men. I have seen facsimiles of 
this peculiar ornament made of gold and retained in the ear by 
a sort of head or button, which was \-ery finely and artistically 
worked. I was unable to learn whence the Kayans get so 

many canine teeth of the tree leopard (Felts nebulosa), which, 
according to my experience, is quite rare in Borneo. Probably it 
is more abundant in the interior of the north-east portion of "the 
island than in the parts I explored, but, no doubt, many of these 
ornaments must have been handed down from father to son for 
many generations. 

The Tubao Kayans do not file their teeth to a point as 
the Dyaks do, but they shorten the upper incisors and stain them 

y Google 


black. This is done with a vegetable dye, the juice of the large fleshy 
leaves of a Melastomacea (Medinillopsis Beccariana, Cogn., P. B., 
No. 4,004). The hair is cut short in front, but worn long behind, 
flowing down over the shoulders. They often wear rings of plaited 
fibre or of brass below the knee. 

Tattooing is in general use, and is practised as an ornament, or 
as a sign of tribal distinction. The men are usually tattooed on 
the hands, and the pattern consists of transverse bajids, equal in 
number to that of the heads obtained, beginning from the wrist 
and going towards the fingers. Many have stars or dragons tattooed 
on the arms and chest. The women are much more tattooed than 
the men. I saw some with the hands and lower half of the forearm 
covered with designs, and the feet and legs up to the knee. A full 
tattooing may cost as much as twenty-five to thirty dollars' worth of 
bronze objects. Thus the greater or lesser extent of the tattooing 
may be looked upon as in a measure representing the wealth of the 

The dress of the women is more complicated than that of the 
men. As usually worn it consists of a cotton cloth, often parti- 
coloured, tied round the waist and open on one side. They also 
use, but not always, a baju or jacket, and at night a sort of 
sarong as a wrapper. 

The Kayans, when they wish to cement a solemn tie of friend- 
ship, undergo the ceremony of blood-exchange. This is, however, 
less imposing than might be imagined, for it merely consists in getting 
a few drops of blood by a shght puncture in any part of the body, 
and placing them in a cigarette. The two neophytes of friendship 
exchange cigarettes and quietly smoke them, and this comprises 
the whole ceremony. 

The singular operation of " perforatio penis " performed by the 
Kayans is well known,^ and another of their pecuHarities, prac- 
tised both by men and women, is carefully to pluck out any hair 
which grows on their bodies, including eyebrows and eyelashes 
(Fig, 48-49), the latter operation often causing inflammation of 
the eyes, Depilation, indeed, appears to be one of the main occu- 
pations of this people. From what I was led to understand, this 
custom appears to have arisen from a desire to differ as much as 
possible from evil spirits, whom they believe to be hairy, like an 
orang-utan. During .subsequent travels in Celebes I found a similar 
horror of hairiness, and in that island, as in Borneo, a hairy woman 
is believed to bring bad luck. 

The Kaj^ns use the sumpitan and arrows poisoned with upas,^ 

' Those seeking [uU particulars on this subject may consult a paper by 
N. von Miklucho-Maclay, in Berliner Gesellschaft fur Anthrop. Ethnol. u. 
Urgeschichte, Meeting of January 19, 187(1. 

2 Low {Op. cit. p. 53) mentions a poison more powerful than upas. 

y Google 



which, however, they do not make themselves, but get from the 
Pvmans. These are the only kind of arrows used in Borneo, where 
flhe bow appears to be quite unknown. The possibility of obtaining 
^ch a deadly poison as upas must have caused the sumpitan to 
Supersede the bow. Without this or some similar poison the sum- 
bitaji is a harmless weapon and something more efficacious becomes 
a necessity. As a proof of this I may instance certain tribes in 
Pouth America, who, as is well known, make use of a deadly poison 
known as curare, urari, or wourali, prepared from some species of 
Strychnos, and are also furnished with a blow-tube, whilst all 
the other primitive native tribes of the same region use the bow. 
In order to prepare upas poison, the milkv sap of Antiaris ioxi- 











(From the Sculptures of the Boro Budor Temple, Java.) 

carta is collected by making incisions in the bark, and is then con- 
densed by exposure to the sun until sufficiently thick to adhere to 
the palm leaves on which it is poured. These leaves are folded so 
as to cover the gummy sap, and hiing up over the fireplace so that 
complete desiccation is obtained. When the poison is wanted for 
use, the dried sap is dissolved in the juice of the roots of those plants 
ased for catching fish b}' poisoning the water generically known as 
tuba by the Malays. My informers specified these by the names 
of tuba rabut, tuba iedau, and tuba bennar. The upas must be dissolved 
in the juice of one of the above-mentioned kinds— whether fresh or 
not does not matter — until the mixture becomes of the consistence 
of a paste, and this is spread on the points of the diminutive sum- 

the product of a creeper which grows in the Bintulu region. I was, however, 
unable to get any further information on this plant, which may possibly 
belong to the genus Strychnos, of which I found several species in Borneo. 

y Google 


pitan arrows. Other solvents for the dried sap of the upas are 
tobacco juice, the sap of the Hoya imperialis, and of Dyak gambir, 
or kayu seddi, a Tiliacea of the genus Elceocarpus, from which ii 
appears that an astringent juice can be obtamed like that oE 
Uncaria gambir. Arrows thus prepared preserve their deadly 
effect for two or three months, and if kafu seddi has been used, 
for as much as a year. I have been told that the Kayans also fix 
the fangs of poisonous snakes at the extremity of their sumpitan 
arrows, which are split for their insertion, the fang being secured by 
a ligatiu^e. 

The use of upas as a poison (known in other parts of Malaya 
under the name of ifo) is not limited to Borneo, but extends to Java, 
the Malay Peninsula, and Cochin China.^ I imagine that the sum- 
pitan was known in a very remote epoch to the primitive popula- 
tions of the Asiatic continent, whence it must have passed to Borneo. 
Thus in the grand work on the temple of Boro Budor, published by 
the Dutch Government, a savage of Aryan type is figured using 
a sumpitan in plate cix., and on plate clx. men are depicted shooting 
monkeys with this weapon (Fig. 50). 

The sumpitan is not simply a blow-gun, but it is also a spear, 
being provided with an iron blade in the shape of an olive leaf, with 
double cutting edges. In war the Kayans, in addition to the sum- 
pitan with its small bamboo quiver for holding the arrows and 
the parang-Uang already mentioned, carry a large shield of light 
wood, the Utah, garnished with tufts of human hair and variously 
ornamented with arabesques, and usually with a grotesque face with 
huge eyes and tusks. When fully armed and equipped, wearing the 
above-described war dress, the singular cuirasse and the cap with 
tall feathers, the Kayan warrior, with flowing black hair, fine car- 
riage, and fierce expression heightened by the white leopard teeth 
projecting from his ears, is indeed one of the finest t3rpes of 

The Kayans are, perhaps, next to the Dyaks, the most numerous 
of the Bortiean people. They are spread over the central portion of 
the island, and are found on the Bintulu, the Baloi, the Barram, the 
Limbaiig, and especially on the Upper Banjar, the Pasir, and the 
Koti or Kutei. On the Barram river they are very numerous, and 
some of their villages have a population of 2,500. 

The Kayans have great personal courage, are warlike and very 
enterprising, and they are thus greatly feared by the tribes with 
whom they are in contact. They have, however, a special fear of 
firearms, and by means of these weapons the Dyaks, who possess 
a few, have made themselves respected. They often undertake 

' The sumpitan with which the Semangs of the Malay Peninsula shoot 
their ipo-poisoned darts is formed by a single internode of the Bambusa 
Wrayi, Stopf. In Cochin China the Moys are said to use ipo. 

y Google 


war expeditions against remote tribes, whom they conquer. Thus 
it appears that the Barram Kayans came from the Baloi, and that 
previous to their invasion the Barram was inhabited by Kinias, 
According to Mr, St. John (Op. cii. i. p. 87) the Barram Kayans were 
in past times in the habit of attacking ullages near Eruni for the 
purpose of capturing slaves, whom they carried off. It need, there- 
fore, cause no surprise if several of the tribes inhabiting North-east 
Borneo, such as the Mtiruts, Bisayas, Idahans or Dusuns, and also 
the Tedongs and Kajans, have been described by the distinguished 
author now quoted as very similar to the Kayans. Moreover, we can 
scarcely expect to find uniformity of type in a people who, through 
slavery, have for centuries assimilated varied and heterogeneous 
elements. It would be interesting with regard to this point to know 
whether the Kayans have ever had intercourse with Celebes by the 
Koti river ; or, conversely, if the natives of Celebes have had com- 
munication with those of Borneo. 

On certain occasions, as during the above-described excursion 
in quest of camphor, the Kayans deduce omens from birds ; while in 
more important ones they also seek them in the entrails of animals, 
and especially in the heart of the pig, a practice also in use amongst 
the Sakartang Dyaks. 

The Tubao Kayans do not now offer human sacrifices, but I was 
assured that the Boajan Kayans of the Upper Banjar sacrifice a 
slave when one of their chiefs die, and bury his corpse with that of the 
dead chief. I have also heard that certain tribes of the interior, 
when about to construct a new house, sacrifice a virgin, burying 
her under one of the main piles. 

The Kayans are passionately fond of their children, whom they 
load with ornaments in the shape of necklaces of differently coloured 
glass beads, and especially with large gold, or, more frequently, 
brass or tin earrings. These are of great weight in order to distend 
the perforation in the lobe of the ear as much as possible, this being 
considered a great beauty. 

On the Tubao, in addition to the rice and sugar cane, various 
kinds ol fruit trees are cultivated. I noticed durians, rambutans, 
and lemons. The Coix lachryma, or Job's Tears, is also sown, the 
seeds being used to ornament different portions of ordmary dress, 
or for war costumes. The domestic animals of the Kayans, besides 
poultry, are a few goats, whose flesh they eat, but which they keep 
more especially for the sake of the skins, which, as I have aJreadj' 
mentioned, are used to make war coats or cuirasses. 

When not occupied with agricultural work, the Kayans hunt the 
boar, or search for camphor, guttapercha or rubber in the forest. 
Honey and wax is also found in their country, bees' nests being 
abundant on certain trees, such as the tapang (Abauria excelsa), the 
minuang [Octomeles Sumatrana), the mingris {Dialium sp.), and the 

y Google 


plai [Alstonia, sp.). These trees are considered tribal property, and 
cannot be felled. This is not the case with the camphor trees, 
which belong to the finder. 

Various Kayan tribes are great collectors of edible birds' nests, 
but not those of the Tubao, there being no caverns in their territory. 
The caves inhabited by the smal! swifts {Collocalia) are only found in 
limestone hills, and these appear to be wanting in the basin of the 
Bmtulu and Rejang rivers. On the other hand, they are frequent 
from Barram to- the Limbang, as well as in the Sarawak district. 

The Kayans are able workers in iron, and make finely tempered 
parangs ; but the notable thing is that they do not work imported 
iron, but extract it themselves from ore found in their own country. 

I have already mentioned the parang-ilang as the characteristic 
weapon of the Kayans ; but it must be understood that it is not 
merely a war implement or weapon, but also their ordinary cutting 
instrument, in common daily use. It is intermediate between a 
sword and a big knife ; the blade is about twenty inches in length, 
widest at the end (two to two and a half inches), and narrowing down 
to the handle. The back of the blade is thick and straight, but the 
rest is slightly convex on one side and concave on the other, which 
enables the skilful striker to iniUct very deep cuts. I used always 
to carry one of these parang-ilangs on my excursions, and had 
acquired some skill in using it, so as to cut off even big branches at 
a single stroke. But for the Kayans, as well as for the Dyaks, the 
envied stroke is that which severs a head at a single blow. In 
unskilful hands the weapon may prove dangerous to the holder, for, 
on account of the curve of the blade, the cut can only be given in a 
certain direction, otherwise it is apt to rebound off the object struck, 
and may then wound the striker. 

Parang-ilangs have different names according to the various 
kinds of accessories and ornaments attached to them. In some, the 
blade is quite plain ; in others, the back of the widened extremity is 
cut and worked in ornate patterns, while along the thicker portion, 
towards the back, bits of brass are often let in. In the common 
ones the hilt or handle is of wood ; but in the finer sort it is of stag's 
horn, elaborately car\'ed, and always adorned with tufts of human 
hair. Every ornament has a meaning and a special name. The 
scabbard is made of wood, in two longitudinal halves, secured by 
neat, elegant whippings of rotang. It is also sometimes carved 
and ornamented with emblematic signs and charms. 

The Tubao Kayans take good care of their dogs, which are well 
fed, and not famished bcigs of bones as those of the Dyaks. They 
possess many of them, and use them in chasing the boar, which 
they kill with spears, never having recourse to traps as the Dyaks do. 

The evident prosperity, I might say opulence, of the Tubao 
Kayans was due to their camphor and guttapercha, which they trade 

y Google 

xvni] IRON ORE 

for cotton cloth, glass Venetian beads, and especially for gongs and 
thick brEiss wire, which are highly valued by them. Elephant tusks 
are also articles of very great value in their eyes, one being worth a 
very large sum. Perhaps this ivory is not an importation, but the 
produce of elephants run wUd, smaJl herds of which are said to roam 
in the northern portion of the island. Nipa salt is also in high 
estimation, but less so than amongst tribes who Uve farther from the 

I must say that the reception given me by the Tubao Kayans 
could not have been more friendly ; but I was beginnhig to wish to 
get away from their never-ending visits and everlasting queries, 
queries which I had often answered for the hundredth time. For 
every newly arrived Kayan must at once visit the " Orang puti," 
who had, nolens volens, become the lion of the district, and every 
fresh arrival wanted to see my strange things and ply me with ' 
interrogations on them and their uses. I was, therefore, not sorry 
when my provisions .were nearly at an end, and the time came for me 
to return to Bintulu. To complete the object of my trip to Tubao, 
however, I still had to secure specimens of the iron ore, and, 
if possible, see it in situ. I had gathered reliable information on 
the subject, and had also found two Kayans who offered to guide 
me to the place where the ore was obtained. Accordingly we left 
Kara Laksa's house early on the morning of the 28th, the 
two Kayans following in a small boat. Descending the Tubao, we 
soon came to an affluent, where I left the sampan with my men and 
got into the Kayans' boat, the former being too heavy for the ascent 
of the affluent, which is named the Pusso, and is said to be navigable 
for two days. We had not, however, very far to go, and after two 
hours' paddling landed on the left bank of the stream. About a 
quarter of an hour's walk through a iungle of secondary growth took 
us to a brook wdth very turbid water, and here the two Kayans, 
searching in the mud of the bottom, produced se^'eral concretions 
very like roots or rhizomes in shape, from three to six inches in 
length, and as thick as one's finger. They were crooked and warty, 
and externally of a brown colour, but on being broken they showed 
a radiated silvery fracture. Evidently they were concretions of 
carbonate of iron. This is the ore from which the Kayans extract 
the iron with which they make their weapons. I regret to say I 
did not see the process of extraction. 

Amongst the few animals collected during this excursion I must 
mention a big toad, which lives on trees along the rivers and has a 
loud and singularly cadenced cry, " Cok~cok-ko-go," which is heard 
usually at night. The species, according to my men, is also found 
in the Sarawak river. Unfortunately, my specimen was lost along 
with other interesting animals collected during this trip, and I never 
afterwards got another one. I also found two new paims: one a 

y Google 


small very dwarf kind {Licuala Borneensis, Becc), the other also a 
Licuala (£. olivceformis, Becc), but of a very unusual character. 
The stem was very robust, short, root-like, tortuous, and ringed, 
covered with the bases of old leaves, and rising from the ground to 
the height of about two feet. From the midst of the fan-shaped 
leaves a large branched spadix issued, loaded with fruits as big as 
olives, of a light yellow colour, and in shape resembling those of 
Livistona chinensis. 

Having got back to the Tubao with my booty, I paid the two 
Kayans and sent them off. We continued to descend the river, and 
were soon back on the main branch of the Bintulu. Here I got my 
men to paddle slowly, and we stopped now and then so that I could 
carefuJly search the banks for any interesting specimen. 

My attention was soon called to a clump of fine palms, with 
stems some twenty feet high, and six or eight inches in diameter ; 
the stems were not smooth, but covered by the bases of the old 
fronds. These palms turned out to be a new and most distinct 
species of Arenga {Arcnga undulatifolia, Becc). Like the common 
Afenga saccharifera, the Kayans call it " Appin," and use it for a 
variety of purposes. The fact that both yield timber explains the 
native name, for "Appin " is evidently derived from the Malay word 
for fire . The wood of A . undulatifolia is hard externally, but soft and 
rich in fecula within, so that it yields a species of sago. The central 
bad, or cabbage, is excellent eating, and from the hard cortical 
layer of the midrib, which spHts easily longitudinally, the Kayans 
make their sumpitan darts or arrows. 

It is a most important peculiarity of the Bornean forest that it 
jjossesses a large number of useful and food-jdelding species which 
require no culture. Thus in Borneo the savage can live on forest 
produce ; a thing which cannot be said of any other Asiatic island, 
including New Guinea. 

We camped for the night a little below the entrance to the Tixbao. 
The current was then slight, but during spring tides their effect is 
felt up the Bintulu as far as this point. 

■ On the 29th we continued our way down the river ; and 
on getting to the part already mentioned where the banks are high 
and picturesque and covered with fine and varied vegetation. I 
noticed at a considerable distance a very showy plant, with large 
leaves, and a stem about three feet high terminated by spikes of 
brilliant red flowers about two inches long. If was a new plant of 

' the order Melastomaceas, which Dr. Cogniaux has recently named 
after me Beccarianthus pulcher. 

■^ I met for the first time, too, a very singular bird, which my men 

called " Undang-undang." When I first saw it, it was perched on a 

tree, and as it was out of range,Ilired to make it rise, which it did, 

soaring like a hawk. The tail was long like that of a hornbill ; the 


y Google 


neck, which it moved continuously, was also long and verv slender ; 
indeed, on account of its neck, I at first thought the bird had a 
snake in its bill. My men said it was an aquatic bird, that it dived, 
and had webbed feet. Although I was most anxious to secure it, 
this time the coveted prize escaped me. 

Along the banks of the river cleared of forest minuangs 
(Octomeles Sumatrana) are frequent — a tree I have already mentioned 
which belongs to the " tapang " group ; that is, those on which 
honey bees build their nests. One isolated specimen I could see 
from the boat showed long brown spikes hanging from the ends of 
the smaller branches, and on getting near it I perceived from the 
fragments on the ground that it bore female flowers. I was, there- 
fore, anxious to secure specimens, as the plant was not well known 
to botanists ; but when, after fully an hour's labour, we had felled the 
tree, I discovered to ray regret that the flowers were over, and utterly 
useless for scientific investigation. 

On the morning of the 30th, in order to save time, I had the 
rice for the day cooked before starting. The most notable plant I 
saw was a Dipterocarp {P-B., No, 3,755), a splendid tree, literally 
covered with large flowers of a light yellow colour, giving off a sweet 
vanilla odour. The Daun balik angin, the fine Clerodendron dis- 
color which I had observed on the Sarawak river, was very common 
here, as elsewhere on the banks of the Bintulu. 

The river flowed through a plain from which the forest had been 
cleared for some hundreds of yards from the waterside. These 
were the fields of the Labbang Mellanaos, whom we found at work 
on them, preparing to plant rice. Some were engaged in burning 
the jungle, and this being of secondajy growth contained many 
bamboos, which exploded when on fire with reports like musket 
shots. When the ground is thus cleared, a man with a long pointed 
pole makes holes in the soil, in which a woman, who follows close 
behind him, throws a few grains of rice. It rained nearly the whole 
day. We slept at Pandan, a small village at the mouth of a stream 
which bears the same name, on the right bank of the Bintulu. The 
village consisted of ten or twelve houses, and was inhabited by 
Bintulu Mellanaos intermingled with Pennans. 

The Pandan can be ascended in boats for six days, and it is on 
the upper portion of its course, or " ulu," as the Malays say, that the 
Pennans are numerous. It is there, also, that the kajatau {probably 
Eugeissonia utilis), which produces a good quality of sago, the prin- 
cipal food of the natives, is said to be plentiful. The Pandan at a 
certain place divides into two branches : the principal one appears 
to trend eastwards ; the other, called the Bigno, turns, it is said, 
in an opposite direction, and is stated to be navigable for fonr days. 
I was afterwards told that it issues from a lake in which sea fish 
live, and whose waters during the dry season are salt. 

y Google 


The Pennans, like the Punans and the Buketans, have no settled 
dwelUngs and do not cultivate rice. They live mainly on the sago 
produced by the kajatau and on wild animals, which they kill 
with the sumpitan darts, poisoned with upas, which they prepare 
themselves. They wear the canine teeth of the tree-leopard passed 
through the upper portion of the ear, as the Kayans do ; indeed, 
they resemble these latter in many ways. 

My collections went on increasing by the addition of many inter- 
esting specimens. On the last day of August I got a new species 
of durian {P-B., No. 4,019). It was a great isolated tree, rising in 
a cleared spot, evidently an old forest giant which had been pre- 
served when the land had been cleared all round for cultivation. It 
was then in blossom, the flowers being, as in the true durian, on the 
big branches, and having a delicious perfume of ripe apples. In my 
remarks on the durians {a.Malesia,vo\. iii.), I have considered the one 
found on this occasion as referable to D. carinatus, but, nevertheless, 
as a distinct variety (var. Bintulensis, Becc). However, the typical 
D, carinatus does not produce edible fruits, and as the specimen I 
have just described had been evidently preserved when its forest 
companions had been without any exception destroyed, there are 
good reasons to suppose that this was done by the natives because 
they knew it to be a useful tree. Thus when the fruits of the wild 
durian of the Bintulu are known, it may be that we shall have to 
add a new species to the long list of trees growing wild in the 
forests of Borneo which produce edible fruit. 

When we were approaching the sea, on the muddy banks where 
the river had formed a small island I noted some clumps of Licuala 
paludosa ' about sixteen feet high, which, with their colour and the 
elegant shape of their fronds, brightened the monotonous aspect of 
the vegetation, here composed almost entirely of nipas. I found, 
also, some specimens of Cyrtostachys Lakka,^ another handsome palm, 
easily remarked at a distajice on account of the bright red colour of 
the ensheathing portion of its fronds which covers the upper portion 
of the stem. During this excursion I found but few orchids ; and such 
as I got were only species with small and inconspicuous flowers. 

At 4 p.m. we came in for another deluge, but after a couple of 
hours' paddling we at length reached Fort Bintulu. 

' This is one of the few palms I met with on the Bintulu which is not pe- 
cuUar to that region. Licuala paludosa is found on the Malay Peninsula and 
in Siam ; its presence in Borneo is explained by its aquatic habits, enabling 
its seeds to be carried afar much more easily than those of other palms. 

* This species is also found at Singapore, and is nearly allied to the 
Cyrtostachys Rendak of Sumatra. The observations made above concerning 
Licuala paludosa are applicable to this tree also, for it grows in flooded tracts 
subject to the influence of the tides, and its seeds are able to resist the action 
of salt water, so that it has every facihty for a wide dispersal 

y Google 


Sago Makikg at Bintulu — -Departure for the Interior^ A Primitive 
Boat — Up the Bintulu River — ^A Dangerous Ad venture^ We 
ARE Forced to Return — The Undang-Undang— An Aquatic Fern 
— Third Departure for the Interior — Subaqueous Sounds — A 
Fortunate Meeting — The Pamali on the Tubao — I Force the 
Pass — -With the Kayans — Novel Kind of Idol — Ascent or the 
Tubao — Diseases of the Kayans — Influence of Floods on Plants 
— ^The Bellaga Hills — -On the Kejang. 

THE first days of September were employed in drying and 
arranging the plants collected on the last excursion. Mean- 
while my zoological collections were enriched by several novelties, 
amongst others a fine squirrel I had not seen before, which had been 
captured and dropped by a hawk. Having some spare time, I took 
the opportunity of going over to the Bintulu houses to watch the 
sago-making operations which were going on. At any hour of any 
day one was pretty certain to find some one thus engaged. 

At Bintulu an adult sago palm is worth from one to three dollars, 
and can give from three to fifteen passos (eighteen to ninety gallons) 
of " lamanta" or pure sago, three passes of which cost one dollar. 
The Bintulu sago is of the finest quality, and is in great request, 
even in Sarawak. 

The palm which produces true sago has a thick stem from 
twenty-five to thirty-five feet high, which can hardly be encircled 
by a man's arms. It blossoms only once in its lifetime, and dies 
with the ripening of its fruits. The nati\fes have discovered that 
the time when the nutritive pith is accimiulated in greatest 
quantity amongst the fibres in the stem is just before the blossoming. 
The tree is then felled, its trunk cleaned of the leaves, and cut in 
sections about three feet in length. These are carried to the river, 
tied together, and, being very light, are easily floated down the 
stream. When they are got to the houses they are split in 
halves lengthwise, and are then ready for the operation called 
" palo." This consists of breaking up the soft fibrous tissue 
filled with fecula which occupies (with the exception of a thin, 
hard external part) the entire mass of the stem. For this pur- 
pose a wooden implement shaped like a hoe is used.' The next 

' In the Molucca Islands, and in New Guinea as far as Humboldt Bay, 
on the north coast, I have observed the same kind of implement employed 

y Google 


process is called " chinchian,''' and its object is to separate the 
fecula from the fibres detached by the palo. This is done by- 
placing the triturated contents of the emptied trunk on a wide 
wooden board, and beating them for a long time with a big wooden 
knife. Then follows the " tindjak" which consists of washing the 
mass broken up by the " chinchian,''' which is done in a large and 
peculiar basket made with plaited strips about half an inch in width, 
and cut from the huge ribs of the fronds of the sago palm itself. 
Instead of baskets, large mats made of the same material are 
sometimes used. 

The operation of " tindjak," or washing, is performed by placing 
the pith in the mat or basket, and treading it steadily with the 
bare feet while an assistant pours water over it from time to time. 
Even the pails used for this purpose are constructed from the sago 
palm. They are conical in shape, and are made from the thin 
laminar and coriaceous portion of the base of the fronds where 
they encircle the stem, This method of treading the baskets with the 
feet causes the stuff expressed to be carried off by the water through 
the meshes of the mat or basket, and to collect in a vessel placed 
beneath, which is usually a small canoe. Here it settles down, and 
after the water has been drained off constitutes what the natives 
call " lamanta." After it has been dried and reduced to a granular 
form (pearhng) it becomes the sa^o we aU know. All the above 
described operations are performed in the outhouses or sheds, 
which, as I have already mentioned, are connected with the Mel- 
lanao houses on the river-side. 

My preparations once more to ascend the Bnitulu river, and to 
pass from this river to the Earram, were by this time nearly finished. 
The object of the excursion was Gunong Julit, of which I had heard 
all sorts of wonderful stories. They also told me that a species of 
wild tobacco was to be found, and this I was, of course, anxious to 
get. From information T had received this mountain lay half-way 
between the Bintulu and the Tinjar rivers ; the latter a branch of 
the Barram, which I had resolved to descend to its mouth, and to 
get thence to Miri. 

On the fourth of September I went in a canoe to the Mellanao 
houses, to see whether 1 could get a large and sufficiently commodious 
boatfor myjoumeyto the Tinjar. Returning to the fort I noticed a 
singular floating object in the middle of the river, and on getting 
nearer I found that it was a diminutive house, or rather the facsimile 
of one, embellished with tassels and streamers made with the young 
white leaves of the nipa palm. Curiosity impelled rae to ascertain 
its contents; but the natives who were with me begged me not to 

ia this same work ; but the implement dilifers. Thus in the Moluccas the 
" business end " ia made with a piece of bamboo, whilst io New Guinea it is 
of stone. 


y Google 


touch it, for the " Anttis," or spirits, to whom the Mellanao had 
dedicated the Httle house to obtain some favour would be irritated 
by my profanation and seek revenge. Another time I think I shall 
abstain from meddling with any such object, and pretend to believe 
in what the natives tell me, but on this occasion I was determined 
to get hold of the thing and examine it, in spite of the protests of 
my men, and, as it tmned out, I had a smart attack of fever that 
very evening. This made me reflect that fever is easily caught in 
Bintulu, and that the spirits must lind it an easy matter to revenge 
themselves on unbelievers. Anyhow I was sorry that, through my 
want of faith, I had involuntarily contributed to intensify that of 
my men in their superstitions. 

From the time I arrived at Bintulu we had heavy showers of 
rain each day, and even on the morning of the 6th, on which I had 
arranged to start for the Tinjar, it deluged. At Bintulu I did not 
succeed in finding a sampan adapted for my journey, but I was 
told that I should certainly get one without difficulty at Pandan ; 
so having found a boat to take me and my belongings" as far as this 
latter place, and the weather having cleared up, I finally got oft 
an hour after noon. 

When I got to Pandan, a difficulty arose with my men, who 
now declared that they did not want to proceed to the Barram, as 
they had just learnt that the country was no longer safe, war having 
broken out between Tummuson and Kam Lia, two influential Kayan 
chiefs. I thought it probable, however, that this was only a canard, 
and later it turned out that the news had been brought by a Buketan^ 
who was evidently insane. This individual had recently arrived at 
Pandan in a boat made of a sheet of bark. I did not see him, 
but I saw his canoe, which was, indeed, a most primitive concern. 
Its construction had merely required a middle-sized tree with smooth 
tough bark devoid of cracks and easily detached from the wood, 
and such trees abound in the forests of Borneo. The tree being 
selected, it is ringed with two circular incisions at the distance 
required by the length of the canoe ; the bark between the two 
cuts is then carefully detached for two-thirds of the entire circum- 
ference, and has naturally the required shape. The extremities 
are sewn up with strips of rotang, the gunwales are kept apart with 
a couple of transverse sticks, and the canoe is ready. Should any 
cracks appear they are closed with clay. 

I sent my guide in search of a boat, but the Orang-Kaya Laghin,. 
who was not anxious to let me have it, used every possible argument 
to dissuade me from going to Tinjar. After much palaver I was,, 
however, able to get a decent sampan ; but when it was ready,, 
covered with the kadjans^ and loaded with our supplies and luggage, 
I found to my dismay that it would not hold us without capsizing. 
I was thus obliged to waste more time to find a second boat in order 
289 u 

y Google 


to divide the load. It was 2 p.m. when at last we were ready. I 
entered the larger boat with fi^-e men, and the three Kayans era- 
barked in the other. 

That evening we stopped to cook our dinner on the banks of 
the river, but slept in the boats and had a bad night. In the middle, 
where I lay down, the edge of the sampan was only an inch or two 
above the water-line, and we were obliged to move with great 
caution to avoid capsizing. And here the danger was not merely 
that of an impleasant nocturnal bath in the river and the loss of 
traps and provisions, but of becoming food for crocodiles, which 
were both numerous and ferocious in this part of the river. My 
guide told me that at that very spot a few days before a woman 
paddling in her boat had been carried off by one of these voracious 
reptiles; while on another occasion a man, likewise in his canoe, had 
been seized by the arm, but he managed to draw his parang with 
the other hand, and, with a vigorous cut on the crocodile's snout, 
succeeded in freeing himself. His arm was literally bored through 
and through by the creature's fangs, and he was besides badly 
scratched on the back by its claws. 

We had violent rain during the latter part of the night. These 
everiasring deluges annoyed me, because I foresaw that the river 
would swell and our progress be rendered slower and more difficult. 
We reached Labbang at 10 a.m. on the ninth of September. 
Although eariy, we stayed there to cook our rice, knowing that we 
should not find a convenient spot higher up until late in the 
evening. The whole day we continued to ascend the Bintulu, and 
found a suitable place, high and dry, for passing the night more 
comfortably than in the boats ; but again rain came to spoil our 
plans. Even the next day we did not succeed in reaching Tubao. 
The river continued to rise, the current increased, and so did the 
indolence of my men ; indeed, more than once I lost all patience 
with them, but with little or no effect. The worst of all was a 
rascal named Bakar, not my faithful Malay boy, but a man of the 
same name engaged at Bintulu, who was to act as guide and 
interpreter. He was an undersized youth, as stupid as an owl, 
out of whom I could scarcely get a word. He spent most of his 
time in rolling nipa cigarettes, and then hghting them with his flint 
and steel. 

Towards evening we got to the mouth of the Tubao, but could 
not enter it on account of the violence of tiie current. As it was 
getting late, we entered a bend of, the river close by, where we found 
a lanko on a dry part of the bank, and, as the place was also shel- 
tered from the strong current, I decided to pass the night there. 
We all dined on shore ; but I went with two men to sleep in the boat, 
which was secured to a branch projecting over the water. I had 
slept badly for several nights, owing to fever and rheumatic pains, 

y Google 


but that night I felt better, and turning in under my mosquito 
curtain was soon sound asleep. In the middle of the night I was 
suddenly awakened by water pouring into the boat on one side, I 
rushed to the other to find water coming in there also ; and at the same 
time discovered that the stern was being submerged. It was rather 
a critical moment : the night was as dark as pitch, the river running 
with a very strong current, not to mention the crocodiles, while to 
make matters worse I was entangled in the mosquito curtEiins, from 
which I had some difficulty in freeing myself. As soon as I did 
so I rushed forward, and catching hold of the projecting branch 
scrambled ashore. In vain had I called out to my men for help ; 
they slept like tops, including the one who ought to have been on 
guard in the fore part of the boat, who had quietly shpped ashore 
directly I had fallen asleep. The only one who had remained with 
me had gone to sleep in the stern, and had been capsized head 
foremost into the water without being able to understand what 
had happened. Once safe on shore I soon found out the cause of 
the mishap ; it was simply that tlie river had subsided during the 
night, and, as the rope which secured my boat to the projecting 
branch was too short, the boat had risen out of the water by the 
bows, and had, consequently, soon brought the stem under water. 

When the disaster happened it was a httle past midnight, and 
happily no rain was falling. I endeavoured at once to save my 
things, but many were lost or else spoilt by the water. Fortunately, 
my gun and revolver, a Dyak tambuk in which I kept various instru- 
ments, the medicine chest, and the more important objects, had 
got entangled in the mosquito curtain and were saved. IVIy am- 
munition and botanic paper were, happily, stowed away in a tin 
case in the fore part of the boat, and did not suffer at all. We lighted 
a big lire to dry ourselves, and huddling up round it waited for 

Next day we were fully occupied in drying oiir things and re- 
placing them in the boat. Greatly to my dismay I found that all 
our supply of rice had been spoilt, and, as I could not replace it in 
any of the nearer villages, I was obliged once more to return to 
Bintulu. The three Kayans continued on their way to Tinjar, 
and at 2 p.m. I began to descend the river. 

In my various journeys up and down the Bintulu I had always 
been struck by the paucity of animal Ufe. On this occasion I met 
with a couple of undang-undang, the strange bird which I had 
noticed on a former occasion on this river. When I saw them they 
were perched on a branch projecting over the water. I chased 
them for a long time, but they always flew away just before I got 
within range. They never took to the land, and certainly cannot 
run or walk conveniently on account of their short legs and long 
tail. When in the water only the long slender neck and head, 

y Google 


which are held straight up, are seen, the body being entirely 
submerged. At last I was able to hit one of them ; but it was only 
wounded, and dived, and, after some trouble, I was able to secure it. 
It fought vigorously with bill and claws, using these very much as 
a bird of prey would. Not being able to skin it I prepared the 
skeleton. I found fish in its stomach, and a lot of curious parasitic 
worms in the gullet. As I had before suspected, it turned out to 
be the singular but weU-known Darter [Plotus melanogaster, Gm.). 

I was anxious to get to Bintulu as soon as possible, and my men 
were even more so, and continued paddling far into the night. On 
the morning of the 12th we were early astir, but I was unwise 
enough to make them a present of a big heron I had shot for their 
breakfast, and they took quite three hours to cook it. It was 
9 a.m. before they were ready to start. 

We stopped for a meal at Silas, where a few houses of an aban- 
doned village yet remained. Growing in the water I found a re- 
markable fern, Ceralopteris thalidroides. Its sterile fronds vegetate 
perfectly under water, but as long as it remains in that condition 
it does not fructify, and this only takes place when the waters are 
low, and a few fronds emerge and develop sporangia, 

I reached Fort Bintulu at 7 p.m., and Mr. Houghton at once 
informed me that during my absence the Tuan Muda and other 
European residents at Sarawak, with some of the more influential 
native chiefs, had assembled here in Council. The object of this 
meeting was to ask reparation of the Sultan of Bruni, who had 
allowed the Sarawak flag to be insulted, and had also sent his tax- 
gatherers on Sarawak territory. The Council had therefore decided 
that an indemnity should be required from the Sultan. In this 
condition of affairs, the Tuan Muda had expressed a desire fliat I 
should postpone my trip to the Barram river, which was within 
the Sultan's dominions, in order to avoid any disagreeable com- 
plication, and he had written me a letter to this effect, which I 
had not received. 

This was very disappointing to me ; yet I felt that I could not 
abandon the project of going to Gunong Julit, and intended in any 
case to avoid all communication with the Bruni people. Neverthe- 
less the difficulties with regard to the journey increased each day. 
Even with the help of the Resident I failed to obtain a guide and 
interpreter, all declaring that they dared not go amongst the 
Barram Kayans, though I believe this to have been a plot of Pan- 
gerang Rio, because I would not take as guide his brother-in-law, 
the rascal Bakar, who had been so utterly useless on my previous 
unfortunate expedition. 

On the fifteenth of September, however, I managed to get off. 
Just as we were about to start one of my canoemen was found to 
have bolted ; but the Resident came to my help, and I got a man 

y Google 


in Government employ as a substitute. I had no guide and 
interpreter, and only a small boat with four men. I had with me 
a good supply of rice, but left behind everything that was not 
absolutely necessary. This was the third time that I had ascended 
the Bintulu, and I was determined not to do so again. If I did not 
succeed in getting to Gunong Julit or to Tinjar I determined to go 
somewhere else, and on the way I hoped to find some one to guide 
me towards the interior which I so longed to visit. 

At Silas we made our first halt ; and here I noticed a strange dull 
vibrating sound, something like that of a muffled Jewish harp, 
which seemed to come through the bottom of our boat. My men 
told me that this sound is produced by a fish, which the Brunese 
call " Ikan umhulong-umbulon^" and the Malays of Sarawak, 
" Utuiangkara." The Malays, however, use the word " Ikan," not 
only for fish, but also for many water animals used by them as 
food.^ The sound lasted a good while, but although I tried to catch 
a glimpse of the mysterious sub-aqueous performer, it was in vain — 
the waters were too deep and turbid. Our progress up the river 
was slow, for we were undermanned and the current was strong, 
and we also had a violent storm. On the 17th we reached Labbang, 
where I learnt that a party of about thirty Kanowit Dyaks, led 
by Jeomakkei, were coming up the Baloi. They had been sent by 
Mr, Cruikshank, Resident on the Rejang river, to meet and escort 
me, as he had heard that it was my intention to cross the Kayan 
country and descend the Baloi. This was indeed a most fortunate 
circumstance, and induced me to give up the idea of going to Tinjar. 
But how was I to ascend the Tubao river, which I must do to get 
to the Baloi, if the " Pamali," or " Matiang," a true kind of 
taboo, was then in force on that river ? ^ It was this ^'ery thing 
which had determined me to explore the Barram basin first, and 
to defer the Baloi expedition till later. When but a few days 
previously I had been obliged by the mishap which happened to 
my boat to leave the Tubao, I had been informed that 
the " Pamali" was about to commence on that river, and that it 
would last twenty-five days — that is, until the operations connected 
with rice cultivation were over. During that period no stranger 
was permitted to ascend or descend the river. 

Meanwhile we continued our journey up the river, and on 
the i8th met a boat-load of Malay traders from Bintulu, who had 
started to get to the Baloi, but had been turned back on reaching 
Tubao. They told me that the Kayans would allow no one to pass, 
and that they had barred the river across opposite the village with 

' Besides this species there are other well-known estuarine fish, belonging 
to the family of the Scifenoids which produce a strange drumming sound. 

^ I have heard the term Mattang used for Pamali, but it more properly 
signifies a sacred place, a place inhabited by spirits. 

y Google 


stakes, leaving only a narrow passage sufficient to admit one boat 
at a time. These Malays made a proposal to join forces and attempt 
to get through. I accepted theirofEer with pleasure, for they would 
be most useful to me as interpreters and guides, having often gone 
that way. 

We got close to Tubao village without being discovered by the 
Kayans, as I knew the place well. When we got to the bend in 
the river just before the village came in view, I ordered my men 
to paddle with ail their might, and gave the same directions to 
the Malays, who followed me closely, telling them above all, 
not to be stopped by any kind of intimidation. We thus shot 
through the opening of the barrier of stake? before the Kayans were 
able to close it, and in a moment had also passed the village, dropping 
our paddles only at the opposite end. As we paddled frantically 
past the village I saw some of the Kayans rush along the shore 
gesticulating as if they would speak and signing us to stop ; but I 
pretended not to see them. 

When we came to a halt beyond the village, one of the old 
chiefs came up to speak to us. He told us that it was a period of 
strict mattang with them, and that I could not then enter their 
country. The old man said this, however, in a deprecatory tone, 
endeavouring to point out to me all the evils which would befall his 
tribe if the taboo were violated. He also tried to excite my com- 
miseration, dwelhng on the effects of the wrath and vengeance of 
the spirits who preside over and protect the fields and the harvests, 

I gave the good old man to understand that for me there could 
be no question of passing through, or not passing through ; through 
I had come and back I would not go. As to the spirits, it was 
different ; but considering the very friendly terms I was on with 
them, I thought that it would not be difficult to arrange matters, 
I added, to reassure him thoroughly, that far from harm being 
caused by my passage, his country would derive benefit therefrom, 
and that the ensuing harvest would be more abundant than in 
ordinary years. 

The old Kayan appeared to be greatly quieted and consoled 
by what I had told him. It is rare to find savage people who will 
not believe anything that is unlikely or marvellous ; indeed, with 
them faith appears to grow in ratio of the improbability and strange- 
ness of the thing asserted. But, truly, one need not go among 
savages to have proof of the popularity of anything supernatural, 
or of the ease with which the masses are led to believe in such things t 

Meanwhile the entire population had crowded down to the river- 
side. They showed no hostility, but would not allow any of us to 
go up to their houses, which, after all, I did not particularly want 
to do. After a long palaver, or " bichara," as they call it, with the 
chiefs, we came to an agreement as to what was to be done to appease 

y Google 


the spirits. I began, as a preJiminary, and acting on a happy 
inspiration, by presenting them with an entire piece of red cotton 
cloth, which had an excellent effect. Then, following the suggestion 
of the more influential Kayans, I took two glass beads and placed 
them in a glass of water, throwing the contents in the direction of 
the fields. They next brought me a living fowl, which I paid for. 
They cut its throat and took some of its blood and the head, but 
left the rest, which I had for supper that evening. In this case 
the spirits were generous, taking the smallest and worst part and 
leaving me the best. I was unable to learn what they did with the 
blood and head of the victim. 

These doings appeared to have dispelled all anxiety and quieted 
the population. But my success as a friend of the spirits and a 
magician was to go further than I expected. For as the fowl which 
lost its life and head in my cause was being roasted, my eye fell on 
some sweet-potatoes which were amongst my supplies, and the 
thought suddenly occurred to me to complete my success and fuUy 
estabhsh my prestige amongst these good credulous Kayans. 
Acting on this I took up a knife and began to car\'e small idols 
from the potatoes. This pleased the Kayans immensely, and I impaled 
the idols on small sticks and distributed them amongst the principal 
chiefs, instructing them to place them imder a diminutive shed to 
guard the paddy fields. I told them that as long as those divinities, 
over whom my power was great, remained in the fields, no evil 
spirits would dare approach their plantations. 

My manufacture of potato idols caused such pleasure that they 
begged me to make some of a more durable material, such as wood, 
that they might keep them and wear them as amulets tied to their 
parangs. But I was anxious to pursue my journey. Matters had 
gone far better than I could ever have expected, and it was wise 
to be off lest some incident should occur and show me up as a false 
prophet. Permission to ascend the Tubao had been freely granted 
on condition that I should neither enter the houses nor stop at 
the rice fields. It was pouring with rain, but as soon as leave was 
given I gave orders to start, and we paddled up the river until it 
was quite dark, when we drew our boats up on the river bank and 
slept that night in them. 

Next day, the igth, we continued our way up, the Tubao assuming 
more and more the aspect of a torrent, and it now became much 
blocked with tree-trunks, which often entirely obstructed our 
passage, and caused us much loss of time. In some places the depth 
decreased so much that we had to substitute poles, or " suar," for 
our paddles, and a httle farther on we had to haul our boat bodily 
through a very long rapid. We passed many rice fields, in each of 
which was a lanko, but perched on piles, for fear of the Katibas 
Dyaks, who often come thus far on head-hunting expeditions. 

y Google 


On the banks a very small palm was frequent ; it turned out 
to be a new species of Pinanga, the pygmy of the genus (P. Hvularis, 
Becc). Its fronds have long leaflets, very flexible and nearly linear. 
It is a species which shows a special adaptation for living on the 
banks of rivers which are frequently flooded. Several other plants 
in this region show a similar conformation, including some which 
belong to families whose members have usually broad leaves. 

Tlie country we were crossing was mostly deprived of old forest, 
and where there were no paddy fields the ground was covered with 
jungle of secondary growth, more or less dense according to the 
number of years that the land had been out of cultivation. In 
some places, however, the primeval forest was yet intact in all its 
grandeur and picturesque beauty. I saw some trees which were 
new to me, but I could not then stop to collect specimens. Amongst 
others I noted a splendid Dipterocarp with very large leaves, pro- 
vided with numerous and parallel robust ribs. I never afterwards 
met with this species, of which I have only preserved the memory. 

Towards 3 p.m. we reached a village called Tunei. The people 
would not allow ixs to enter the house, but we were permitted to 
Occupy a lanko similar to those we had seen in the rice fields on 
the way, and only accessible by means of a notched tree-trunk. 

I was anxious to obtain men to carry my luggage and supplies 
overland to the BeUaga, in the Baloi basin. The Tubao river could 
be ascended for another day, but no more villages were to be met 
with. Kam Diam, the Orang Tua of Tunei, was absent, but his 
wife. Hat Hipon, was at home. She was civil enough, but asserted 
that she could not give me men as carriers, giving as a reason the 
■mattang then in force. , However, I was not easily put off, and 
after much insistence managed to obtain five carriers, who, for a 
recompense of two " depa " of red cotton cloth each, were ready to 
go with me to the Bellaga, where 1 expected to meet the escort 
which Mr. Cruikshank had sent for me. 

The Tunei Kayans, with Hat Hipon at their head, came at 
sunset nominally to pay me a visit, but in reality to beg medicines. 
I should very soon have emptied my small travelling medicine chest 
had I given to each and all the remedies they asked. It was also 
rather difficult to guess what ailments affhcted people who looked 
so vigorously healthy. But I knew their ways, and that a flat 
denial on my side might have caused trouble ; moreover, these 
natives have a belief that a medicine once taken is a valid pre- 
servative, and takes effect on any kind of future malady. Quinine, 
whose virtues as a febrifuge were then widely known in Borneo, 
even to savage tribes, was what they more especially wished to 
have. 1 got out of the dilemma by dissolving a few grains of 
sulphate of quinine in acidulated water, to which 1 added a small 
quantity of fish-sauce. A bottle of this stuff, which was appreciable 

y Google 


both by the eye and the palate, was quite sufficient to content all 
my patients. 

That evening we retired to sleep in the lanko, taking care to 
draw up the notched pole which served as its staircase, ior we had 
been told that the country was insecure, and that head-hunting 
parties of Dyaks were prowling about. But at the time I was too 
young and too thoughtless to bother much about any such danger ; 
indeed, I may say that an adventure of this kind with Dyaks would 
rather have pleased me, and as to my Kayans they were quite 
excited at the idea of the possibility of such a thing, for they had 
great faith in my rifle, believing that the bullet, once fired, will 
follow the person aimed at until it has overtaken and killed him. I 
always slept with a revolver and a parang-ilang in my waistband, 
and my gun within reach. 

The Kayans are not head-hunters in the true sense of the term. 
I mean that they do not collect heads or skulls as trophies, and 
they have not got, as have the Land-Dyaks, special head-houses. 
However, even with them to obtain a head is a highly appreciated 
proof of bravery, and, as 1 have already said, confers the right to 
certain marks of distinction. 

We had decided to leave early on the 20th in order to reach 
the landing place where the overland journey was to commence, 
but the rain during the night had swollen the river, and we found 
it very hard work paddling against the current. Towards evening 
we reached a lanko where, as my men were worn out and the current 
was still very strong, we decided to stay for the night, although the 
fangkalan, or landing place, was quite near. 

It did not rain in the night, and next morning we found that 
the waters had greatly decreased. One might almost say that these 
streams are subject to daily periodical floods, like tides ; for their 
waters rise and fall at short intervals, in consequence of the violent 
and sudden rain which falls nearly every day. In Borneo rain is 
so heavy and the quantity of water which falls is so great thai 
floods are very sudden, and the levels of the streams vary consider- 
ably within the space of a few hours. This may be the cause of 
the special adaptation already mentioned in plants growing on the 
banks of these torrential rivers (Fig. 51). 

In another half-hour we came to the landing place, and 
began our march. For some distance our path was simply the 
bed of the torrent, here no longer navigable. Our direction was 
generally south-east. We climbed a hill about 600 feet high, and 
descended the opposite slope in an easterly direction, crossing several 
torrents which ran into the Sepakko, an affluent of the Bellaga. 
The hill we crossed was thus the true water-parting between the 
basins of the Bintulu and the Baloi. 

Our road lay mostly through primeval forest, where I saw many 

y Google 


new and peculiar plants ; but of very few was I able to get frag- 
mentary specimens. Towards noon we reached a village on the 
Bellaga, consisting of several big houses quite similar to those seen 
on the Tubao. The BeUaga is a large stream about sixty yards 
wide where we came to it, and very deep, and it was navigable 
for another five days, penetrating farther inland than do the 
branches of the Bintulu. Indeed, on reaching the place where it 
ceases to be navigable for canoes, one day's tramp overland takes 
the traveller to the basin of the Barram. 

The inhabitants of the village we had reached are called 
Kadjamans, but they did not appear to me to differ from the 

On the 22nd I went to the hiU near the Bellaga to get specimens 
of some interesting plants which I had noticed in coming, but being 
then loaded and anxious to get to camp, had not collected. Amongst 
the more notable new species of plants got on this hill I may mention 
a singular Anonaceous plant {Enicosantkum faradoxum, Becc.) ; 
and two small but most graceful pahns, one a true pinang in minia- 
ture {Areca jurcata, Becc), the other a Licuala (L. cordata, Becc), 
remarkable for its entire leaves, which resemble an open Chinese 
fan. I was surprised, also, to find in a quite hmited area no less 
than five distinct forms of begonia, a genus which is by no means 
rich in species in Borneo. But on this excursion I did not meet with 
many plants in blossom. I returned to the village thoroughly 
exhausted, for I had had a bad attack of fever on the way. 

Meanwhile, Kam Diam, chief of one of the nearest villages on 
the Baloi, came to Bellaga. He was unlike any of. the Kayans, or 
even Dyaks I had yet seen, and was certainly the stoutest and 
fattest man I ever saw in Borneo, though obesity is less rare amongst 
the Malays than amongst the inland tribes. From Kam Diam I 
heard that the escort sent to meet me by Mr. Cruikshank had waited 
a long while at Baloi, but the men having had no news of my arrival 
were that very day going back to their homes. To say the truth, 
their company was now not so much wanted, for it looked as if I 
was not to meet with any great difficulties in accomplishing my 
journey. But as a bodyguard they would certainly have been 
useful in several ways, for although the Rajah's authority was great 
over the settled communities of Kayans and other tribes in the 
interior along the Rejang, especially after a severe chastisement 
inflicted by the Tuan Muda, it could then hardly be expected to 
extend to wandering parties of head-hunters. 

I passed the evening nursing my fever, and was fermented by 
a crowd of dogs, attracted no doubt by the smell of my suppUes. 
In the house where I had taken up my quarters there must have 
been at least forty of these brutes. I was quite unable to get rid 
of them, and during the night they devoured nearly all the supply 

y Google 

I. Fogras slEnspiylla. 2. Garcinia linawM. 3. Psychotria ncuminala. 4. Etig: 

liparia. i. Syi^Mm ntrifolitm. 6. m<<clea raularis j. Erycibe lonsifoha. 

Eagna sai.sna. 9- Sanraia ansusli/olw. 10, Telriallietii sahtif^m. 

y Google 


of dried fish for my men, although it had been stowed away in a 
place apparently out of their reach. 

On the 23rd I was able to engage two Kadjamansfrom Bellaga, 
and three men, his own Kayans, were procured by Kam Diam 
to escort me as far as Baloi. With such guides the journey was 
not so difficult, but without them it would have been next to im- 
possible, for the Bellaga is obstructed in several places by rapids, 
which cannot be traversed by boats. Thus, to reach its junction 
with the Baloi, part of the journey must be performed on foot. 

My attack of fever had left me very weak, but with a good dose 
of quinine, taken in time, I hoped to keep off any new access for 
some time. The Kadjamans had willingly let me have a boat, in 
which we started down the river, and my men paddled \'igorously. 
We passed two rapids safely, but at 11 a.m. we came to one which 
was quite impassable for our canoe, so we were obliged to leave it 
and march overland to Baloi. 

As we were descending the last navigable portion of the Bellaga 
we met with two kidjans — very diminutive and graceful little deer. 
They suddenly appeared on the river bank, but so rapidly moved 
out of sight again that I had no time to get a shot. For the Kayans, 
who are extremely superstitious, this was an ill-omened meeting, 
and they asked me to stop whilst they performed a ceremony to 
avert the evil prognostic. They manufactured a diminutive hut 
with sticks and leaves, put a large stone underit, and placed on the 
stone, as peace-offering to the spirits, a pinch of rice, tobacco, siri, 
and pinang. 

Stretched across one of the small affluents which we frequently 
passed on our way down I observed a rope, from which hung 
various objects. This signified that a party was in search of camphor 
along the stream, and the objects were to prohibit any one from 
going that way, and indicated besides the penalty he would have 
to pay if he transgressed. They consisted of a wooden disc, which 
represented a gong, and two or three wooden models of parangs. 

For six hours we tramped in an easterly direction ; then we 
climbed, and crossing several streams, or perhaps a single but very 
tortuous one in various parts, we at last came again to the Bellaga 
a short distance from where it joins the Rejang or Baloi. The 
rocks in the rapids and the hills we crossed were ail sandstone. 
We camped in the jungle, on a sandy flat which adjoined the river- 
side. I found here a gigantic aroid with enormous heart-shaped 
leaves, on a stem about four feet high and as thick as a man's leg. 
Its flower was quite warm, and its high temperature could be felt 
by placing the hand on the spathe, which had the shape of a horse's 
ear, and was of a vinaceous colour. I only preserved a spadix of 
this plant, which I believe, from several of its characters, to be 
probably an Alocasia, alhed to but distinct from A. indica. 

y Google 


Early next morning Kam Diam's Kayans followed the course 
of the river to their village, which was not very far from the place 
where we passed the night, to get a boat. They returned with it, 
and towards noon we were on our way down the Bellaga. We had 
to pass one more rapid, and at last, after many days of travel by 
stream and forest, with the endless jungle constantly limiting the 
view, our eyes feasted once again on a noble expanse of open country 
and a wide sheet of water. We were on the Rejang. 

y Google 


Down the Rejang— The Kayans' Knowledge or the Interior — Steno- 


Establishment^The Wild Sago Palm — A Kavan Masquerade — 
The Banieng and other Big Game — On the Rapids — Freshwater 
AlgjE of Marine Type — Sharks and Rays in the River — The 
Tanjong — Ik THE Dyak Country — The Ketibas— Kanowit— A Dis- 
honest Trader— At Sibu— The Tribes of the Rejang — From Sibu 
TO THE Sea — Black Flowers— Adventures with Crocodiles — New 
Palms^Mouth of the Igan — Mosquitoes and other Insect Pests 
—Wild Oranges. 

WE passed beyond the house of Abim Diam, which was built 
on the bank of the Baloi just where the Bellaga pours 
its waters into the main river, and halted opposite a big house 
a few hundred yards lower down, at a place called Skapan. The 
inhabitants are called " Orang Skapan," and consider themselves 
as a distinct tribe, but I cannot see in what they differ from the 
Kadjamans and the Kayans. All these tribal names in the Kayan 
country are, I think, nothing more than family distinctions, in 
short, what might be termed " clans." I could not otherwise 
explain how, a few hundred yards from this locality, houses of 
Kadjamans, Skapans, Punans, and Kayans are found mixed up 
together. I believe that the Punans just mentioned must be 
considered distinct from those of the Bintulu, being much more 
civilised. I cannot feel quite sure that the names Punan, Puanan, 
and Pennan, heard on the Bintulu, are those of distinct tribes, 
or merely different ways of expressing the name of one and the 
same tribe. 

Senahan and Sematto, the two chiefs of Skapan, showed every 
wish to help me, and gave me a cordial reception. Naturally, the 
first thing I asked for was a boat and an experienced crew to enable 
me to continue my journey, for the navigation of the Rejang is 
difficult and even dangerous, on account of the formidable rapids 
which obstruct its course in several places. These two kindly 
disposed chiefs immediately furnished me vnth a large and com- 
modious boat, and ordered fifteen men to accompany me as far 
as the next village ; they also gave me some fowls and a small 
quantity of rice, although they were very short of the latter. My 

y Google 


supplies were beginning to give out, and I was obliged to measure 
carefully the rice I gave to my men, and to let them have it only 
for one meal a day. We had, however, some sago in the granu- 
lated form, to which I had got accustomed, and which we all used to 
munch as we went along. It is a most convenient kind of food for 
such journeys, and is a good substitute for bread or biscuits, but, 
unfortunately, far less nourishing. 

The village of Skapan was in bad condition. It consisted of 
a long house thatched with the leaves of an Alpinia, or other allied 
Zingiberaceous plant. The old village of well constructed houses 
had been burnt by the Dyaks a few years before during one of 
the famous expeditions of the then Tuan Muda. A short dis- 
tajice from the house of the Skapans was one belonging to the 
Punans, who were then in a state of great excitement, having 
heard two days before that the inland Dyaks had killed one of 
their own people and carried off his head. I saw in this house 
several persons with sores, and was unable to satisfy myself as 
to their origin; whether the disease was of a hereditary nature, 
or caused by bad climatic conditions. I believe the former hypo- 
thesis, however, more likely to be the true one. Several of the 
villagers were also afflicted with bad eyes, but I think that the 
strange custom of plucking out the eyelashes contributed to this. 

The natives of this part of the Baloi are well acquainted with 
the topography of the interior of Borneo, and traced for me on the 
sand the courses of the principal rivers ; they also offered to pilot 
me down the Banjar or down the Koti, but such a project was 
quite impracticable, on account of the absolute dearth of pro- 
visions. I questioned my informers on the existence of a high 
mountain which is said to rise in the very centre of Borneo, and 
from which its principal rivers are reported to flow. Mr. St. John 
{Op. cit. ii. pp. 35 and 47) mentions this mountain, calling it Gunong 
Tilong. Its summit is described as being white with snow, and 
the same author tells us that from its slopes a salt spring flows 
which gives rise to the Banjarmasin river.^ 

The natives whom I questioned on the subject, however, asserted 
that the central mountains of Borneo were two, not one, though 
close together and forming one group. The northernmost they 
call Batu Tibang, and from it they say the Barram river flows ; 
the other, more to the south, is called Batu Puti, and from 
its western slope the Rejang flows; and the Koti, the Batang 
Kayan, and the Banjar from its eastern side. The latter is 

' " Banjar " may be interpreted " which floods," " which spreads 
out " ; and " masin " means salted. " Banjar masin " would thus mean 
" the salt river which spreads," and is prohably so named because on account 
of the tides its waters are brackish for a large part of its course, overflow 
their banks, and flood the country over a wide area. , 

y Google 


also called the Makam by the Kayans, and near its source the 

If a, mountain of any great height existed at the source of the 
Rejang I feel sure I ought to have heard something about it ; indeed, 
I ought to have seen it from some of the hills to whose summits 
I had climbed. I see no reason for admitting the existence of an 
elevated group of moimtains in Central Borneo. From the tests 
of comparison to which I submitted the intelligent natives from 
whom I was seeking information, and especially referring to Gunong 
Baloi, which rises behind the Skapan house, I am led to the con- 
clusion that the greatest elevation that can be assigned to the 
two peaks of the central mountain group of Borneo can hardly 
be much over 7,000 feet. An erroneous interpretation of the 
native name Batu Puti, i.e. " White rock," may have led to the 
inference that the mountain was capped with snow. 

Borneo— which, in proportion to its area, is of all countries 
of the world one of the best provided with great rivers — can be 
travelled all over by water, so perfect and so extensive is its river- 
system. A day's, or at the most a two days' walk overland will 
enable the traveller to pass from the basin of one river to that 
of another. This is due to the special orographical conditions 
of the island, which does not gradually rise from the coast towards 
the interior to reach a great elevation in the central portion. In- 
stead, nearly all the mountains of Borneo rise abruptly from 
the plains, and thus the rivers have no great fall, and can be navi- 
gated by boats nearly up to their source. The action of the tides 
facilitates also in no small degree the navigabiUty of Bomean 
rivers. For the reasons above given the tidal influence extends 
far up each river. 

The big house of the Skapans was built on an elevated bank 
of the river, which had a sort of extensive inclined beach on which 
canoes were landed, repaired, and also constructed, this being 
one of the principal boat -building yards on the Rejang. 

The river was then low, but the banks showed that when full 
it rises several yards. At Skapan the bed of the Rejang, which 
ought properly to be called the Baloi, is narrow and hemmed in, 
as it were, between the hills which form its banks ; but its width 
is not less than 330 feet, and it is extraordinarily deep. In some 
places Sematto assured me that 60 defa (about 300 feet) of cord 
were required to reach the bottom. They informed me that it 
abounds with fish, and some caught by my men were excellent, 
and belonged to species I had not seen elsewhere. I was repeatedly 
told that a species of shark and a ray are caught here in the river. 
I had too often heard about these two fish — the first being called 
"Yu," the second "Ikanpare" by the Malays — to entertain any 
doubt as to the veracity of my informants ; but yet I should have 

y Google 


liked to have had more positive proof, and had even planned a great 
fishing battue, but the scarcity of my supphes and of the more 
necessary commodities obhged me to shorten my stay. Besides, 
I could not possibly have preserved specimens of fish.' 

On the morning of the twenty-fifth of September I took leave 
of Sematto and Senahan, the two courteous Orang Tuas of Skapan, 
and got into the big and comfortable boat they had so kindly 
procured for me, which, manned by twenty-four paddlers, seemed 
literally to fly over the water. TTie landscape was fine, varied 
by hiUs and low mountains, the highest of which, Gunong Baloi, 
rises just behind Skapan, and may possibly have an elevation of 
some 2,000 feet. 

Below Skapan the Baloi widens considerably, and divides to 
form several islands, which are covered by water during floods, 
though now clothed with the densest vegetation. The plants 
growing on them belong to very different families, but all have 
very flexible stems and branches and narrow leaves, which can 
easily bend to the current without breaking when the waters rise 
and cover them. Such plants are represented by the willow kind 
with us, which grow on river banks, and are liable to be flooded 
at certain seasons. 

The action of running water, according to my views, repre- 
sents a natural force which has brought about a special adaptation 
in the leaves of many fluviatile plants. To the modification thus 
produced the term "Stenophyllism," or " narrow-Ieavedness," 
may be conveniently applied. This special adaptation, however, 
is not only caused by running water. Constant and steady air- 
currents may, I think, have promoted the stenophyllism which 
occurs in a large number of trees and shrubs growing on the banks 
of the Rejang and neighbouring rivers, as well as in other countries, 
but which I did not notice along the Sarawak, the Sambas district 
rivers, or the lakes of the Kapuas. Not a few of the plants with 
narrow leaves which I met on the Rejang and Tubao are endemic 
species, and it might even be said that they still occupy the 
localities where they were plasmated (Fig. 51). This would prove 
that no geological perturbations have occurred in this region at 
least from middle Tertiary times to the present day ; for if 
any such changes had taken place it would be difficult to explain 
how perfectly local species could have become modified in accord- 
ance with stimuli equally limited to these rivers. 

In the forest bordering this part of the Rejang river the 
camphor tree (Dryobalanops) which I had found on the Gunong 
Sedaha was common. I wished to procure a few hving specimens 

' I have since learnt that both sharks and rays enter the rivers of Southern 
Asia and are found hundreds of miles from the sea, and the same thing 
has been observed in the great rivers of tropical South America. 

305 X 

y Google 


for Mr, Teysmann, who had asked me to get them for the Botanic 
Garden at BuJtenzorg, in Java ; and as along the lower course of 
the Rejang this tree is no longer foimd, I stopped at a hill whose 
base rose directly from the river, on which I saw several big trees. 
They had neither flowers nor fruit, but in the shade under their 
fine crowns of fohage I found quite a number of young plants 
growing up, about six or eight inches high. I dug up several 
very carefully, and remembering what I had seen done at the 
Peradeniya gardens, I placed them in sections of bamboo, which 
made excellent pots. I afterwards had the pleasure of seeing 
these plants again at Buitenzorg, grown about a hundred times 
bigger. Now they are great trees. 

The weather was splendid, and the waters of the river, now 
low, were of limpid clearness. Notwithstanding the stoppage, 
we did not do a bad day's work, covering, I should say, not less 
than thirty-five miles. 

I saw only small remains of the primeval forest on the banks 
of the river ; a sign that the land was or had been utilised for rice 
cultivation, and that the district was relatively populous, although 
we had not yet come to a single village since leaving Skapan. To- 
wards sunset, however, we sighted a Kayan house on the river- 
side, and from signals visible we found that it was under " pamali," 
and that we should not be allowed to enter it. But I pretended 
not to have seen anything of the kind, and, landing, went straight 
up the ladder, certain that if I once succeeded in entering they . 
would not easily send me away. 

It was the house of Tama Dian, i.e. " the father of Dian," the 
latter being the son's name.' The house was large, new, and strongly 
built, raised on stout squared piles. I saw quite a number of 
persons about, but learnt that, except the family of the chief, all 
the rest were " Ulun-ulun," or slaves, probably descendants of 
Dyaks captured in raids. It was not very easy to distinguish 
the masters from their slaves, but in countries where dress is re- 
duced to a minimum, social differences are less apparent than 
elsewhere, for dress is beyond doubt one of the greatest factors 
in maintaining class distinctions. 

The Skapans who had accompanied me from the house of 
Sematto and Senahan went farther down the river to the village 
of some Punans to see whether they could find men to go with 
me as far as Kanowit. 

Tama Dian and his people were not offended at my infraction 
of the pamali ; on the contrary, they appeared glad of my arrival, 
for many of them had never seen a white man. Only the 

' Amongst the Kayans, and also amongst the Land-Dyaks, a father 
often drops his name and assumes that of his eldest son. 

y Google 


Tuan Muda had come up thus far some years before. That 
evening the young men and girls favoured me with one of 
their dances, or " main pajat." I found that in the art of Terpsi- 
chore they had progressed further than the Dyaks, and that in 
their dances, which are a kind of pantomime, they use masks. I 
saw some of these being carved out of a soft hght wood then and 
there. I slept badly in Taraa Dian's house on account of the 
dogs, which were, as usual, unbearable. 

These Kayans have splendid boats, hollowed out of single 
tree-trunks, some of them being between sixty and seventy feet 
in length and live feet in breadth. But I could not find men to 
go with me, because of the pamali. The day (September 26) also 
happened to be a fete day for the Kayans, and, if I had stayed in 
their house, custom would have obliged me not to leave for eight 
days. Fortunately the Skapans returned in the afternoon with 
several Punans, who had consented to accompany me as far as 
Sibu, and the Kayans having given me one of their big boats 
I was able to leave towards evening ; but I only descended the 
river as far as the houses of the Punans. Even next day I did 
not get fairly started on my journey, for the boat had to be put 
in order, covered with kadjans, and so forth. 

Moreover, the Punans had no rice, and were obliged to go to 
the forest to get in a supply of kadjattao sago. Here for the first 
time I had an opportunity of seeing and collecting specimens of 
- the paim which produces this pecuHar kind of sago, which I had 
so often heard mentioned and only seen from a distance. It is 
a Eugeissonia, but different from that which I had found on 
Mount Mattang, turning out to be an undescribed species, which 
I have since named Eugeissonia uHlis (cf. Nuov. Gior. Bot. Ital. 
iii. p. 26). Some specimens of this palm grew near the Punans' 
house, because, although it abounds in the forest, it is to a certain 
extent cultivated on account of its usefulness, being grown and 
the young plants protected in the vicinity of the houses. It is 
easily grown from seeds, which fall when perfectly ripe and ger- 
minate spontaneously. In good soil a tree can be cut in five 
years, so that growth must be extremely rapid. The trees are 
cut when in blossom, and before they have borne fruit, and they 
have then reached a height of as much as fifty feet. The stem 
is bare for some thirty feet, cyhndrical, regularly ringed, and about 
the size of a man's thigh. It is covered with numerous spiny 
projections, the result of a transformation of adventitious rootlets. 
The stem is raised from the ground on many short roots, thus 
differing from the other species of the genus, which all have long 
and slender roots, raising the stem much higher from the ground. 
The fronds are large, forming a regular and ample crown on the 
top of the stem ; they are much arched, and in their midst rises 

y Google 


the inflorescence in the shape of a narrow cone, often six or seven 
feet high. 

The fecula which is extracted from the Kadjattao is of a 
quality superior to that produced by the common sago palm. 
Even the pollen, which has the aspect of a violet-coloured meal, 
is utiUsed, being eaten as a condiment both with rice and sago.^ 
The flowers of the Eugeissonia are formed in such a manner as to 
offer an efficient protection to the pollen, which, on account of 
its nutritious properties, might be sought after by different animals 
and thus destroyed before the flowers open. Indeed, the flowers 
of Eugeissonia utilis hardly come up to the usual conception of 
a flower at all. They are very slender, but as much as three inches 
and a half in length, and their petals are extremely hard and of 
a dark funereal colour, much resembling leather. The corolla 
forms a sheath to the stamens of great toughness, and at the same 
time does not attract the attention of animals. 

The rude cultivation of the Kadjattao appears to me to be 
a most instructive instance of how plants useful to man have 
come to be reduced to a state of domesticity or cultivation. If 
primitive inhabitants of the forest happened to find a locality 
where there grew in abundance a plant from which, with a slight 
amount of labour, they could extract a quantity of food, they would 
certainly take advantage of the boon Nature offeied them, and 
would build their rude shelters or huts at that spot, and settle 
there as long as these advantages continued. Meanwhile the 
seeds of the plant which had been so useful to them would become 
scattered round their huts, where, in the rich soil necessarily 
accumulated, these young plants of the species would grow up 
under most favourable conditions, and would bear better fruit 
and jdeld food substance in greater abundance than the forest 
grown specimens. Thus a system of mutualism would be initiated 
between Man and the species useful to him. The hypothesis that 
Man may have been, so to say, the creator of those domestic plants 
and animals which are no longer found in a wild state, and which 
cannot subsist without his protection, implies the further hypo- 
thesis that such plants and animals became associated with Man 
at a time when there was stiU a wide field open to variation, and 
when the plasmative force was yet active. This further renders 
necessary the acceptance of the hypothesis that Man — possessed 
of intelligence nearly on a par with that with which he is at present 
endowed — existed at a time far more remote than that which is 
generally admitted. For my part, I certainly see no objection 
in assigning to man an antiquity at least equal to that of other 

I Sir J. Hooker tells us that the inhabitants of New Zealand make bread 
with the pollen of Typha (cf. Flora Novce-Zelandi<s, i. p. 238). I do not 
remember any other cases of pollen being used as food. 


y Google 


still existing animals, though it is unnecessary' to enter upon the 
subject here. 

In the case of the Kadjattao, however, the greater facility of 
reproduction, the extremely rapid growth, the protection of the 
stem by the spines, not to mention that of the flowers by their 
tough envelope, have amply insured the preservation of the wild 
plants also ; and thus Eugeissonia utilis is not in the strict sense 
of the word a domesticated species, for it is not entirely dependent 
on Man for its existence. In Borneo there are several other plants 
in the same case as that of the Kadjattao, such as Pangium edule, 
Sagus, Arenga saccharifera, several Caryotas, Aiiihiaris toxicaria, 
etc., all of which, like the Kadjattao, may be considered as semi- 
cultivated and anthropophilous plants. But I must put an end 
to this digression, and resume my journey. 

That evening, September 26th, at about five o'clock, a Kayan 
masquerade paid me a visit, on purpose to show themselves off 
to me. They call this fSte " Nugal," and it occurs twice in the year ; 
the first '(the one I witnessed) takes place immediately after the 
planting of rice ; the second, I believe, after the harvest. It was 
highly interesting, the procession being numerous and varied. 
The instruments used were most singular, as were also the wooden 
masks which hid the faces of the performers. I was sorry not 
to be able to make sketches, but that was not possible, for they 
did not stay long enough. I beHeve that an accurate study of 
the masks and instruments used on such occasions would throw 
much light on the question of the origin of this people. From 
what I saw I am more than ever inclined towards the opinion that 
the people of the Bintulu and the Upper Rejang originally came 
from Indo-China. 

The 27th was a wearisome day for me, passed m the Punan's 
house superintending the getting ready of the boat. I also pre- 
pared specimens of the Kadjattao for my herbarium, and secured 
a few living young plants, which I afterwards had the pleasure 
of seeing again in the Botanic Garden at Buitenzorg, fully grown 
and bearing fruit. 

To supplement the Kadjattao sago for the journey the Punans 
went into the forest with their dogs on a hunting expedition. A 
few hours later they returned with a large boar. This was, how- 
ever, of no advantage to me, as I was unwilling to force my cook, 
Sahat, a Mussulman, to cook pork, ha\ing always deference 
to the religious principles of these people. The Punans may 
be skilful hunters, but, judging from the immense number of 
boars' jaw-bones (about 300) which I saw in long rows suspended 
as trophies of the chase in the house, I should think that these 
animals must be very abundant in the forest. 

We were off at seven o'clock next morning, but the paddlers 

y Google 


were few for our boat, which, although not one of the biggest, 
was quite sixty feet in length. We accordingly stopped at two 
other Kayan houses to recruit men. One of these houses was 
empty, all the inmates, women and children included, being away 
either in the fields or hunting in the forest. A wag in our party, 
catching sight of a big gong, began to beat it in the manner these 
people do when some danger, notably an attack by enemies, is 
imminent. We had not long to wait to see the effect. People 
began to appear from all sides in a state of alarm and excitement. 
First came the women, with the smaJler children on their shoulders ; 
and, following close, the men, panting and excited. But as soon 
as they saw our inoffensive selves and their inoffensive neighbours, 
they took the joke goodnaturedly, and burst into a hearty laugh. 
Possibly this little joke may have helped to induce some of the 
young men to join my party, though another good reason 
may have been the cause of their willingness to accompany me 
to Sibu, the capital of the Rejang. A journey down to the sea 
is not an easy undertaking for the Kayans ; for, in addition to its 
length, it is rendered perilous by possible Dyak hostilities, not- 
withstanding the relative security which the Government of Sarawak 
had succeeded in estabhshing along this river, mainly through the 
energy of the Tuan Muda. Thus the natives felt a greater amount 
of security in being with me, and I was" also quite an excellent 
opportunity for them in another way, for with the pay I promised 
them on my arrival at Sibu they would be able to procure various 
articles they coveted, and especially salt, of which they were then 
much in want, and which they usually buy from traders at an 
exorbitant price. I was thus able to get together twenty young 
and vigorous paddlers, some of them well experienced in handling 
a boat through rapids, and shortly after noon we took our seats 
amid much merriment and started at racing speed, the men keeping 
excellent time with a song, or emitting shrill cries in chorus, just 
as if they were off on some war expedition. The warlike senti- 
ment is common, and always easily awakened in all these people, 
for whom war, or, rather, predatory expeditions, are, as it were, 
a natural instinct, fostered and transmitted from generation to 

The river became more and more majestic as we proceeded. 
The mass of water it carries is imposing, although it was evident 
from the nature and look of the escarped and high banks that we 
saw the stream at its lowest level. Towards evening one of the paddlers 
directed my attention to some large animals which were grazing 
on the river bank to our left. These turned out to be a smail 
herd of wild cattle. I at once ordered my men to paddle noise- 
lessly, and to approach a spot where I could land unperceived, 
I had with me the excellent gun which had done such good service 

Hoslcd by 



in my hunt after orang-utans, but it was loaded with big shot. 
Not to lose time I dropped a bullet into one barrel without remov- 
ing the shot, and jumped ashore, followed by two of my smartest 
Kayans. But the place where I alighted was soft mud, and without 
the help of my two companions I should have stuck there. We 
scrambled up, however, and to approach the animals without 
being seen by them made a long detour, and I managed to get 
within twenty-five yards of the herd. A fine large buU, entirely 
black with white feet, showed its side, and as I fired the creature 
fell, but rose again at once and started at a rush for the jungle, 
followed by four others, evidently cows or calves, that were feeding 
with it. We then showed ourselves, but one of the herd, which 
. had been grazing at a distance from the others, on perceiving me 
at once lowered its head and charged. At ten yards off I fired 
my second barrel, which, unfortunately, was only loaded with 
shot. The creature came down on its knees and roUed over. I 
thought I had got him, but he was up again in an instant, and 
made for the jungle like the others. My Kayans, thinking that 
it must be blinded or at least badly wounded, having received the 
contents of my barrel full in the front part of the head, followed 
its spoor for a while, but were unable to come up with it, and we 
reluctantly had to abandon the chase. 

The wild cattle of Borneo, or " banteng," as the natives call it 
(Bos sondaicus), is, after the rhinoceros, which is only found in the 
interior, the largest of the indigenous Bomean mammals, the 
elephant having been beyond doubt introduced by man on the 
island. I once heard that the carcase of a rhinoceros had been 
seen in the Sarawak, carried down by the current, but I have 
never seen any portion of one got in Borneo. Elephants are 
found in the north-east portion of the island, but Mr. St. 
John (Op. cit. i. p. 95) writes that it is believed that they 
are the descendants of some which were presented by the 
Hon. East India Company to the Sultan of Sulu about 150 
years ago, and which at his request were landed at Tanjong 
Unsang. They are now said to be numerous in that district, 
doing much damage to the plantations. 

The banteng is also called by the natives tambadao, or tam- 
madao, and appears to be more frequent in North Borneo than 
elsewhere, especially on the Limbang and the Barram, Mr. St. 
John {Of. cit. i. p. 283) writes that in Kimanis Bay, in British North 
Borneo, herds of banteng are met with which are of smaller size than 
the wild cattle found on the banks of the two rivers just mentioned. 
I was told that the banteng has a special predilection for young 
bamboo shoots, and thus prefers keeping in the jungle or secondary 
forest, where that plant abounds, whilst it is rarely met with in the 
primeval forest. The country we were then crossing ap] 

y Google 


be rich in game, for I saw deer time after time on the river banks, 
but always out of range. 

The same day we found coat in big seams on the ieft bank of the 
river. At dusk we selected a dry spot on the bank to cook our 
dinner and to pass the night. The Punans cook their sago in earthem 
pots, which ,they make themselves. Both they and the Kayans 
with me were afraid of the Ketibas Dyaks, and kept a strict watch 
through the night. A heavy storm, too, helped to keep us awake, 
and we could very well have done without it, for we were camped 
in a most awkward place. 

At 7 a.m. on the 29th we were once more paddling rapidly on 
our way. Two kidjans (Tragzdus), and then two fme white-tailed 
pheasants, very probably the beautiful species subsequently des- 
cribed as 'Lobiopkasis bulweri, were seen on the edge of the jungle, 
but we were going too fast for me to fire at them ; besides, the river 
was very wide. Wild boars were also seen, but they proved very 
shy, and turned back into the jungle as soon as they sighted us. 
Two darters {Plotus) had captured and carried ashore a large fish, 
which certainly must have weighed seven or eight pounds. We 
secured it, and it was an opportune addition to my breakfast, and 
to that of several of my men. This bird may well be considered 
as the most rapacious of its kind, a true web-footed .bird of prey. 
It appears to grasp the 6sh with its feet, and to despatch it with its 
sharp-pointed bill. The big fish which we took from the two birds 
had evidently shpped from their claws on account of its great 
weight. I-ts head was quite riddled with holes made by the 
birds' bills. 

We had now reached the most dangerous part of the river, for 
there are here three rapids at no great distance apart which have to 
be passed. The waters were then low and the rocks numerous,, ■ 
threatening no little danger to the boats. When the water is high, 
navigation is less difificult, for the difference of level in the rapids 
becomes much less, and the danger of being driven on rocks is also 
greatly diminished. The increasing roar caused by the faUing 
water warned us of the close proximity of the rapid, though we had 
heard it a long way back. At the first big fall we unloaded our 
boat, carrying everything on the men's shoulders along the shore 
beyond the dangerous part ; but we al! returned to the boat to 
make our dash through the foaming waters. For me it was 
quite a new sensation ; and, indeed, I felt it was quite possible 
I might never have the opportunity of narrating it. 1 had 
fuU faith in my Kayans, however, and especially in the expert 
who wielded the steering paddle at the stern. Drawn up to his 
fullest height, he looked eagerly for the best passage. This was no 
easy task, for not only has the steersman to avoid the rocks which 
are above water, but those just covered by it, which are still more 

y Google 


dangerous, capsizing the canoe in an instant. At first the current 
seemed nothing out of the common, but as we approached it in- 
creased in force until there seemed almost something uncanny in 
its overwhelming strength. About fifty or sixty yards from the 
rapid our steersman had already made up his mind as to the hne 
to' be followed. His great object was to keep the boat with plenty 
of way on in the current ; for woe betide us if we'but' swerved an 
instant — we should have been at once capsized and done for ! As 
we approached the bigger part of the fal! the paddlers redoubled 
their efforts, and our long, light, narrow boat shot like an arrow 
down the swell, and in an instant was righted in the bubbhng 
waters of the pool beneath, in a cloud of pulverized water which 
formed a mist-like column around us. I feel that it wouid be 
attempting the impossible to endeavour to translate into Words the 
emotions of that moment, which came and went like a flash of 
lightning ! 

When we got into the comparatively tranquil waters beyond 
our boat was full, and would inevitably have sunk but for the 
rapid and able manner in which the Kayans baled the water out. 
Some of them jumped overboard to lighten the boat at once. 

It requires the sangfroid and experience of the Kayans to shoot 
such rapids, . The feat is partly accomplished by taking the fall at 
such a pace that the canoe reaches calm water beyond almost 
before it has time tq sink. It Js all important that the paddlers 
should not get frightened at the amount of water shipped, but 
continue to paddle with a\\ their strength untif the danger is well 
past. Then comes the work of baling and emptying the boat, 
which requires to be done carefully and quickly, most of the crew 
springing overboard as soon as possible in order to lighten the boat. 
' - We had thus successfully passed the first rapids, but our experi- 
ence had been such that we did not feel equal to tackling the second, 
to which we came very soon after in the canoe, for it was said to be 
even more dangerous than the other. We were accordingly pru- 
dent, and made a portage along the shore. At the third rapid the 
passage was easy, or, rather, without obstacles : a smooth sheet of 
water plunging over into the basin below, with a fall of about seven 
feet only. It was here, nevertheless, that the Tuan Muda lost 
several of his men on an expedition against the Kayans. On that 
occasion more than one of the boats were capsized, and several of 
the Dyaks who formed the crews, in spite of being expert swimmers, 
disappeared and were seen no more. It was said that the sharks 
took them, I should have thought that they more probably fell 
victims to crocodiles ; but the natives assured me that these reptDes 
are not found there, though the eddies below the rapid are frequented 
by sharks resembling those found in salt water.^ 

' Mr. St. John (Op. cit. i. p. 136) tells us that sharks are found in the left 

y Google 


Along the banks of tliis last rapid, on rocks constantly wet with 
the spray, I found a small alga growing in profusion, and covering 
with a \'io]et veil the mosses and Hepaticfe amongst which it 
grew. It turned out to be a new and undescribed species of 
Bostrychia (B. bryophila, Zan.), which has a special interest, as it 
belongs to the FloridetB, a group of algse all but exclusively marine. 
In Sarawak I had found another alga of this kind growing in fresh 
water, the Delesseria Beccani, Zan., previously mentioned, which, 
like the above cited Bostrychia, is one of the Floridete, and belongs 
to a genus in which not only all the other species are marine, but 
are also the most elegant and brightly coloured of seaweeds. D. 
Beccarii lives in the perfectly fresh and limpid waters of the Sodomak 
stream, many feet above sea level. We have here, then, two plants 
which may be supposed to be of marine origin, bitt now live in 
fresh water far away from the sea.^ 

If the presence of such typical sea lish as sharks and rays be 
proved in that part of the river where I found the seaweed, the coin- 
cidence would certainly be suggestive, and offer us an example of 
adaptation to fluviatile life of essentially marine organisms, caused, 
perhaps, by ancient changes in the level of land in Borneo. But 
before proceeding further on the hypothesis thus suggested, it 
would be welt not only to confirm beyond doxxbt the presence of 
these sharks and rays in the Upper Rejang, but to determine the 

braach of the Sarawak river, above the rapids. Moreover, in the Sarawak 
Gazette for 1887, p. 164, two sawfishes are mentioned as having been caught 
at Lubok pangkalan Singhi, above Kuching, in fresh water, but within the 
tidal influence. 

' The fact is not new, for in 1839-48 Leprieur, an apothecary in the 
French navy, discovered in Cayenne several small FloridcEe, known pre- 
viously as exclusively marine algs, in mountain streamlets as much as fifty 
miles inland, and at an elevation of up to 600 feet above sea level. It is 
worthy of remark that three of them were Bostrychias of di0erent species 
(cf. MOQtagne ■ Sur la station itisoHts de quelqites Floridtes dans les eaux 
douces et courantes des ruisseaux des montagnes A la Guyane, Ann, des Sc. 
Nat. 1850, p. 283). At Cayenne, also, in rivers within the action of the tide, 
Leprieur found another Bostrychia, together with a small Delesseria (D. 
Leprieurii, Mont.) which is so like the Sodomak plant that it might well be 
looked upon as a variety of it. In Borneo I also found a Delesseria {D, 
adnata, Zan.) and a Bostrychia (B. futcrata, Zan.) growing on the big stems 
of the nipa palms in waters alternately salt and fresh. These are eloquent 
instances showing how seaweeds of two genera have become adapted gradu- 
ally to a change of station from salt through brackish to fresh water. In 
Bostrychia bryophylla, the adaptation to conditions of existence different from 
the original ones would be even more extended, for it has become nearly a land 
alga. The above mentioned facts reveal a remarkable analogy between the 
physical conditions of the rivers of Borneo and those of Guiana ; because 
in both countries, remote as they are from each other, a similar change in 
the biological conditions of certain seaweeds has occurred, which can alone 
have been caused, I think, by a similar process of adaptation, brought about, 
no doubt, by an upheaval of the land. 

y Google 



species to which they helong. As I h,ive already remarked, the 
statement that they exist here, which at present rests entirely on 
native authority, is not so strange, for it is well known that certain 
sharks [Carchnnas) and rays {Trygon) inhabit the Ganges and 
other rivers in Southern Asia as well as tropicfd America. I am, 
howe^"er, puzzled to explain hoM' shnrlcs big enough to seize 
a man can hve in the pools below the rapids, unless there is 
an extraordinary abundance of other fishes there. It may be, 
however, that tlie expedition of the Tuan ■>ruda being a numerous 

one, sharks had followed it, as they sometimes do, and had 
remained in the deep pools below the rapids. 

After the three cataracts the river widens out considerably, 
and forms a series of small rapids and shallows, dangerous 
on account of rocks just awash, which are only avoided by using 
great caution. Just as we were in the most difficult part of this 
a sudden storm came upon us with torrential rain ; so, to avoid a 
catastrophe, we beached our boat on a smalt island, and camped 
there for the night. 

Next day we paddled away without stopping from 7 a.m. till 

y Google 


noon, when we halted at some houses belonging to the Tanjongs — 
one of the many tribes li\'!ng on the Rejang, but belonging, from 
what I could discover, to the great Kayan family. Together with 
these Tanjongs some Buketans had recently come to live, and had 
begun to plant rice. 

The Tanjongs are more tattooed than the Kayans, In most of 
those I saw the breast, chin, and part of the shoulders were covered 
with tattooed designs. The women now dress as the Bintulu 
females, in black cotton cloth, and have the lobes of their ears 
enormously distended by the heavy tin, brass, or copper rings, 
some as big as bracelets, which they wear in them. 

We had got now to the Dyak country, and on both sides of the 
river the hills were covered with well cultivated rice fields, the old 
forest having been utterly cleared away. Many isolated houses 
were seen. The commonest tree I noticed on the river banks was 
the " kayu bayor," a species of Pterosfermum, which produces 
large white flowers. We passed the mouth of the Ketibas, along 
whose banks still live the most dreaded and savage Dyaks of the 
Rejang, inveterate head-hunters. Only the year before they took 
those of two Chinamen who were trading up the river. For this 
misdeed they were duly and se\'ere!y punished by the Tucin Muda, 
but it appears that the lesson had not been sufficient, for even then 
they were sending out parties in search of heads. I stayed the 
night at a Dyak house, the inmates of which appeared to me not 
to differ from the Dyaks I had met with on the Batang Lupar. 

On the following morning, October ist, I had not much trouble 
in getting my Kayans to start, for they were anxious to reach Sibii, 
and soon after dawn we were en route once more. We stopped at 
the small fort of Nongma, then the farthest inland station of the 
Sarawak Government, but I foimd no Europeans resident here. 
At 2 p.m. we reached Kanowit, a village at the mouth of a river 
which bears the same name. The people here are different in 
appearance both from Kayans and Dyaks. They wear the jawat 
like the latter, but are offended if they are compared with them. 
The women are dressed in the usual Malay fashion. 

The Kanowits were once a race of ferocious head-himters, but 
are now peaceful and inoffensive. Before Rajah Brooke and his 
nephew used their energetic civilising influence, giving peace and 
prosperity to these people, it was considered a duty, when a Kanowit 
died, for his kindred to obtain a head at any cost, and on such 
occasions they did not hesitate to take that of the first person they 
met, man, woman, or child, were they even members of their own 
tribe, and even, it is said, relatives. This is certainly a queer way 
of understanding " duty," a word which can only express a hereditary 
form of sentiment, corresponding to the social condition of a given 
people at a certain epoch. 


y Google 


T saw some Bukctans here also, who had settled amongst the 
Kanowits. The river at Kanowit is very wide, and the high hills 
which bank it in all the way from the village of the Tanjongs cease 
here. The majestic aspect of the Rejang is now much increased, 
owing to the addition to its waters of two such important affluents as 
the Ketibas and the Kanowit. The current is moderate, but thanks 
to the energy of myKayans and our light and gracefully built boat, 
we got along famously ; and having left Kanowit shortly after sun- 
rise, we reached Sibu about fi^'e hours later. 

During this journey from the Bellaga to Sibu I met with several 
tribes of natives, whose ^'ery names were new to ine. Others I 
only heard mentioned by the Kayans who accompanied me. It 
would be as well, perhaps, to give here a general resume of the 
information I gathered concerning the people hving on the Baloi 
or Rejang and in its vicinity. 

In addition to the Malays, Chinese, Mellanaos, Dyaks, and 
Kayans, the following tribes inhabit this region : — 

Sigalang, once a numerous tribe, but now greatlyreduced. The 
few survivors, who no longer speak their language or dialect, live 
at Siriki. 

Sirus, also once a powerful tribe, now reduced to a few families. 

Bilions, only a few left, who wander in the forest ; they have 
a special dialect. 

Minkilon, Banjok, Tanjong, and Sidoan, (Fig. 53), small allied 
tribes, now assimilated by the Kayans, and having lost their own 

Buketan, a nomadic forest tribe. 

Pennan and Ukit, allied to the Buketans, and also wanderers in 
the forest. 

Krian and Sian, also nomadic forest tribes akin to the Buketans, 

Punan, Skapan, Kadjaman, and Lanan, tribes all speaking 
pecuhar dialects, now conquered by the Kayans. 

Punan tana, or Punan batu, who live principally on the Baleh, 

Kinya, a far inland tribe, who inhabit the country near the 
sources of the Kapuas, Barram, and Koti. 

The following tribes live beyond the boundaries of the kingdom 
of Sarawak : — 

Sibu and Malo, dwelling on the Kapuas. I met a few of the 
latter on the Kantu. 

Butan, who live on the upper course of the Koti and Banjar, 
and are said to be more civihsed than the Kayans, 

Klai and Taman ; tribes known to my Kayans, living on the 
Upper Banjar. 

The fort of Sibu is the most important in Sarawak after that 
of Kuching, Its position is well chosen at the apex of the delta 

y Google 


fonned by the two great branches of the Baloi, which are the 
Rejang, properly so-called, and the Igan, 

The fort commands an immense expanse of water, the Baloi 
being here no less than a mile and a half in breadth. The country 
is quite flat; not the slightest hiUock breaks the uniform hne of the 
horizon. Behind the fort, marshes covered with s«'ampy grounds 
and primeval forest extend right away to the sea. The river here 
is verj' deep, and its waters, which are turbid, are of a dirty greenish 

Mr. Cruik£hank, the local Resident and commandant of the 
fort, was absent ; but Mr. Skelton, his lieutenant, received me as 
an old friend, and treated me with the most generous and cordial 

For eighteen days I had lived and fared hke a Kayan. Sago 
and rice, with curry and a few sardines as condiments — and especially 
the first, for rice was scarce till we got to Kanowit — had been practi- 
cally my only food.' It is true that I often had fish, for my cook, 
Sahat, was clever with the " jala," or casting net — a round net 
weighted with lead plummets aU round, used in many countries. 
When I was in Borneo I always carried one of these nets with me, 
finding it most convenient for catching fish, and thus varying our 
very monotonous diet ; in fact, in these regions I found it much 
more useful than my gun, which, on river journeys, can hardly be 
used without much loss of time. With a net, on the other hand, a 
haul of fish was easily obtained in the shallows hard by while the 
rice was being cooked. 

When I reached Fort Sibu my personal luggage was greatly 
diminished. My shoes and socks were gone, and my dress was 
reduced to a jacket, a pair of trousers, and a sarong in a condition 
which I dare not describe. My utensils consisted of a single pot 
for cooking rice. But I had safely brought to my journey's end a 
large package of dried plants, many of which I afterwards found 
represented endemic species mostly new to science, even generically. 
The living plants of camphor and of Kajattao had also arrived in 
perfect condition. 

Notwithstanding my meagre diet of rice and sago, I had had 
no more attacks of fever after leaving the Bellaga. I felt perfectly 

' Bad hygienic and nutritious qualities are usually attributed both to 
rice and sago, but I believe this to be a mistake. It is true that sago is not 
very nv;tritious, but it is easily digested, and can be safely eaten in large quanti- 
ties. I may say that during our journey down the Rejang we used to munch 
pellets of sago the whole daylong; and certainly my paddlers never showed 
signs of losing strength, but worked energetically all the time, and they ate 
hardly anything else. Physiologists have now shown that carbohydrates, 
such as feculum, sugar, etc., facihtate and keep up muscular energy and force, 
on which nitrogenous food has httle or no special influence. 




FROM sibl; to the sea 

well and strong ; but I should be guilty of an untruth if I asserted 
that I did not relish and appreciate the luxuries of my friend 
Mr. Skelton's table, and that I failed to do them full justice. 

Sibu, nevertheless, was not the end of my journey, for I 
had planned to follow the branch of the great rivet down to 
the sea. I remained a couple of days at the fort, however, to take 
a little rest, to replenish my supplies, and to allow a Chinese tailor 
sufficient time to make me something new in the way of clothes. 

On the fifth of October, ha\"ing procured a boat without difficulty, 
and added the necessary number of paddlers to my four Malays, I 

started at 3 p.m. on my way down the northernmost branch of the 
Rejang delta, distinguished as the Igan. The forest of tall straight 
tree-trunks rose like a gigantic wall on either side, the width of the 
river being several hundred yards. The groimd level was so low 
that in some places we entered with tlie boat into the forest. Few 
of the trees were then in blossom, but the aspect of the vegetation 
was different from that of the Upper Rejang, and plants with 
narrow leaves were no longer to be seen. The effects of sudden 
periodical floods on the river banks are not felt here, nor those of 

y Google 


constant currents of air. We were now in a region where variable 
winds reign, alternating with calms. 

Although the entire delta of the Rejang may be considered as 
an unbroken swamp, it has no such aspect, for the plants which 
grow there cannot be called aquatic in the true sense of the term. 
For while the tall forest-vegetation which covers every bit of 
ground is practically aquatic, herbaceous aquatic plants, and 
especially floating species, are entirely absent. Tlie Aracese, 
Pandanaccte, palms, and an infinite number of other plants besides, 
whose feet arc alwaj's in water, become truly aquatic. This is 
the reason why many of the tropical plants belonging to the above 
mentioned families do not thrive in our hothouses, or only do so 
when they are treated as aquatic plants, and the pots in which 
they grow are immersed in water kept constantly at a high tem- 

Few, indeed, were the brightly coloured flowers which I saw in 
the forest through which we were paddling. In that never-ending 
mass of green only a few scarlet Ixoras met my eye. I found a new 
species of Momordica {M. racemiftora, Cogn.) pretty common, 
remarkable for its large flesh-coloured flower and a black calyx — a 
true black, that is to say, which is a colour very rarely met with in 
flowers. Many are very dark, but there is alwa)^ a tendency towards 
violet or purple. For the moment I can only recall one other in- 
stance of true black in a flower, and this is also that of a Bomean 
plant, an orchid, Ccelogyne pandurata, in whose flower the labellum 
liELs large patches and veins of a deep black colour. 

Stillness, heat, sandflies, horseflies, and mosquitoes reigned 
supreme, but did not combine to make our journey an enjoyable 
one. The absolute silence and solitude are starthng. Not a hut, 
not a single boat did we meet with for hours and hours together. 
Towards noon Nature appears asleep ; not a bird's note, not a 
sound of any kind breaks the profound stillness. The very water 
appears to move on as a solid mass, and not the slightest breath of 
air moves its polished shining surface. The atmosphere is heavy 
and oppressive to an extreme, loaded with aqueous vapour, in\isible 
on account of tlie high temperature. 

The silence was only broken ■ by the cadenced sound of the 
paddles dipping in the water, at long intervals, to the sleepy chorus 
of my men. But a sudden shock and the lifting of our sampan from 
beneath awoke us from the drowsiness into which we had fallen. 
We at first thought that we had struck some snag or tree-trunk 
floating on the water. It turned out to be the back of an enormous 
crocodile, but I could not make out whether we had struck him 
accidentally, or whether he had tried to capsize the boat. 

Shortly after this adventure I perceived another huge crocodile 
simning himself on the muddy bank. His posture was comical, 

y Google 


for there he lay stretched out immovable on the mud, and looking 
as if he were dead, but the mouth was open to its widest extent, 
the upper jaw nearly at a right angle to the lower one, showing all 
the teeth and the yellow colour of the inside. I contemplated 
the monster for some Httle time, wishing to see how long it would 
preserve this absurd attitude, but it never moved, and looked 
exactly like a stuffed museum specimen. I cannot understand 
how such a posture can be comfortable, but for crocodiles it appears 
to be a common attitude of repose. My Malays said that the 
animal had just gone to sleep, and certainly its eyes were closed, 
possibly the result of some unusual digestive effort. When crocodiles 
lie thus with open jaws, small shore birds, especially waders of the 
sandpiper kind, which are always running about on the banks in 
search of food, enter the huge reptiles' mouths to capture any such 
small fry as may have sought refuge amongst the teeth or in 
the folds of the mucous membrane of the mouth or pharynx. In- 
deed, if I remember right, I have witnessed the thing myself; but 
now as I write I cannot fee! quite sure that it was not one of the 
many stories told by my men.' 

But to return to the one which has given rise to these reflections. 
I thought that I would disturb its lumbers with a bullet, and 
aimed at the inside of its mouth, I do not know whether I hit it, 
but it certainly awoke as suddenly as the report of my gun, and 
dived into the river's depths forthwith. This, and other shots, 
fired at the crocodiles we met now and then with their snouts 
sticking out of the water, were the only incidents of the day. I 
was never able to make out whether I hit the animals or not, for 
they invariably plunged under water and disappeared at once. 
On one occasion only, on the Sarawak river, was I able to secure a 
small crocodile which I had shot. It is very difficult to kill at the 
tirst shot creatures whose \"itaUty is so tenacious, and whose skin 
is so admirably protected by its scales, whilst the brain in the 
massive skull is nearly inaccessible to a bullet. It is said, however, 
that even a slight wound is eventually fatal to crocodiles on account 
of worms which take possession of the sore. This may be partially 
true ; but all the same, one often meets with animals which have 
been more or less mutilated in fights amongst themselves, which 
are ahve and active enough. 

Crocodiles are more abundant in places such as those I have 
just described than elsewhere. Perhaps this may be accounted 
for by the fact that they find an easy prey in the wild pigs, which 
are extremely numerous in these forests when the fruits ripen, and 
often cross the river in troops. The scarcer the wild animals on 
which they prey, the more dangerous do crocodiles become to 
1 Cf. Herodotus, Bk, II. Ixviii., where the same story is told. I have also 
heard it from the hps of a Malay in Celebes. — Ed. 

321 Y 

y Google 


human beings. Where wild pigs abound they are the principal 
food of these huge reptiles, and it is in the estuaries of rivers, where 
the receding tide leaves large tracts of uncovered banks, that 
wild pigs find their favourite food, and easily supply that of the 

Although numerous enough in the rivers of Borneo, I have 
never seen crocodiles herded together, as the caimans are said to 
herd in South America. Many were the crocodiles I met with, but 
never did I see even two together. 

The stillness of the day had its contrast during the night. A 
violent wind arose, carrying away the matting which roofed the 
sampan, whilst the rain fell in torrents. This rendered the air less 
oppressive, and made us feel less languid and indolent, but it was 
impossible to put up any kind of shelter, and we remained as we 
were until morning, drenched to the skin. 

I was able to collect but few plants of any interest, partly 
on account of the great width of the river, which prevented me 
from keeping inshore, and partly again from the diiUculty of always 
catching sight of blossoming plants when paddling along. Amongst 
those which attracted my attention, even from a distance, were 
two " pinang-utan," a name which the Malays give to all the forest 
palms which resemble the true pinang (Areca catechu). This time, 
however, one of these pinangs, about twenty-five feet high, turned 
out to be a genuine Areca, an undescribed species peculiar to Borneo 
(A. Borneensis, Becc), distinct but allied to a species widely diffused 
in the Malay Archipelago.^ A . Borneensis is also called by the natives 
" pinang umbut," because its cabbage is edible. The other species 
of palm, which was quite a small one, I had already found at 
Bintulu ; it was a variety of Pinanga patula, Bl. 

Towards evening we arrived at Igan, a village near the mouth 
of the river, almost exclusively inhabited by a colony of MeUanaos, 
who speak the same dialect as those settled at Muka, and different 
from that of the Bintulu Mellanaos. 

On the 8th I made an excursion to the mouth of the river and 
the sea beach, but I found no novelties. The most remarkable 
plant met with was a species of Hoya, or an allied genus (P.B. 
No. 3,926). 

Igan is considered unhealthy, and is also renowned for the 
number of its mosquitoes. According to a Malay expression, the 
air is so thick with these insects that they can be cut with the 
parang. The place had so little interest that next day 1 com- 
menced my return journey up the river to Sibu. This trip was even 
more tiresome than the down-river one. The mosquitoes formed, 
without exaggeration, veritable clouds, and we had to put up with 
horse and sandflies besides. It would be interesting to know why 
* This is the Areca triandra v. Bancana, Scheff. (c£. Malesia, i. pp. z2, 97). 

y Google 


■ in such deserted regions these small vampires are so numerous. In 
other parts of the world, as in the Bogos hills of Northern Abyssinia, 
I subsequently found these pests abundant ; but there, at least, they 
had cattle in large numbers from which they could quench their 
thirst for blood. In the forests of the Rejang, however, the only 
large animals on which they can feed are monkeys and wild pigs, 
and these are scattered over an extensive area, though the latter, 
indeed, at certain seasons are said to congregate in the delta in 
great herds, coming from all parts of the country, and swimming 
across small and big branches of the river aHke. This, as I have 
already said, takes place when the wild fruits are ripe, and the 
ground in the forest is literally covered by them. 

On the loth we continued our monotonous journey, harassed as 
usual by myriads of mosquitoes. For two days we paddled through a 
continuous mass of these insects. Truly, their quantity is incredible. 
On our way towards the sea we progressed much more rapidly, and 
the mosquitoes were less trying ; but going up the river against the 
current it was far more difficult to rid ourselves from their attacks. 
It may be that when a swarm has once taken possession of the boat 
it sticks to it. To lessen their numbers I made my men smoke, 
and throw pinches of tobacco on a small fire kept burning at the 
prow. But this was of not much avail, and I had to remain all day 
under my mosquito net, and not having gloves to protect my 
hands, I covered them with a pair of socks. The night brought us 
even worse torments than the day. Though my men had rolled 
themselves in their sarongs, they were unable to sleep a wink, I 
had, besides, an attack of fever, so that my condition was not a very 
enviable one. 

Three days had now passed without our meeting a single living 
creature, excepting, of course, the mosquitoes. At length it rained, 
and they were less troublesome. On the 12th we had fine weather ; 
but the current was strong, and we did not reach Sibu tiU the 
13th October, and right glad were we to do so. 

I remained six days at Sibu to finish drying and arranging my 
plants, to take some rest, and to make preparations for continuing 
my journey across the State of Sarawak. Of those days of rest 
and comfort, thanks to the kindri_ss and pleasant companionship 
of Mr. Skelton, I still retain a very pleasing recollection. And 
this is quite unassociated with any affection for the locality ; for 
Sibu can hardly be called a pleasant place, although there is a 
certain grandeur in the immense extent of water, the endless forest, 
and especially the wide expanse of horizon, which in Borneo is 
usually so limited by the exuberance of the vegetation. 

During my stay I visited some of the Dyak houses, and made 
several short excursions into the forest. In a locality near the 
fort I found a species of wild orange quite abundant. The fruits 

y Google 


are larger than those of a common orange, which they resemble in 
shape and colour, but not in taste, for they are very bitter, quite as 
much so, indeed, as the so-called Seville oranges. The rind is 
very thick. The Malays call the plant "Limau antu," which means 
" Spirit's lemon," but in a truer sense signifies " Devil's lemon," 
an appellation better suited to its flavour. This Citrus formed 
little groups by itself in the forest, in places where the ground was 
evidently hable to frequent inundation, and where few other species 
of plants grew. Amongst scientifically interesting forms I found 
in tolerable abundance, and growing nearly above ground, a 
Hymenogastrsea [Clathrogaster Beccarii, Petri), one of those fungi 
which live in the ground hke truffles, and have been rarelj' met 
with in tropical countries. 

Mr. Cruikshank, being aware of my wish to cross from the 
basin of the Rejang to the Sakarrang, had, before leaving Sibu, 
asked Mr. Skelton to get me some trustworthy Dyaks to accompany 
me as far as Simanggan. Meanwhile, I had furnished afresh my 
scanty and dilapidated wardrobe, and had procured the necessary 
supplies of rice and dried fish for the journey. I had also bought 
from Chinese traders various indispensable articles to be used as 
presents or for barter, such as tobacco, thick brass wire, glass 
beads, and cotton cloth. I consigned to Mr. Skelton my hmited 
but precious collections, which he had kindly offered to send on to 
Kuching by the first safe conveyance. 

My Baloi Kayans, well satisfied with what I had given them, 
took their leave, and returned to their own country. 

y Google 


From the Rejang to the Batang Lupar — ^A Splendid Dyak Type — 
Orang Skull Amongst Human Trophies — A Lucky Gun Accident 
— On the Kanowit^The Ruddy Monkey and Bezoar Stones — - 
Abnormai. Dyaks — A Bird of Good Omen^ Poling— Picturesque 
Scenery — Remarkable Aquatjc Plants^ A Giant Tapang^ 
Manufacture of Sumpitans — "We Begin the Overland Journey — ■ 
Flowers on Roots — A Pigmy Aroid — Edible Stones — -Rice Fields 
—In the Sakarrang Valley — The Milk of the Upas — Dyak Cos- 
mography — Down the Sakarrang — -A Dyak Court of Justice — 
Travel Customs on the Sakarrang — Arrival at Simanggan 

ON the morning of October 19th, as previously arranged, Ladja, 
with eight other Dyaks, came to the fort duly equipped 
for the journey. Ladja (i.e. " Sumpitan arrow ") was the son of 
the Orang Kaya of Pulo Kaladi, the island which lies opposite to 
the fort of Sibu, right in the middle of the Baloi. He was a hand- 
some young man, tall like most of his companions, slender, and 
beautifully made. His profile was nearly regular, the nose perfectly 
straight, but the cheek bones rather too prominent and the chin 
rather pointed. His complexion was very light. Similar types 
are not at all infrequent amongst the Baloi Dyaks, amongst whom 
one seldom sees cases of "kurap" (a skin disease allied to itch), 
which is so disfiguring and so prevalent amongst the Land-Dyaks.' 
Ladja presented himself to me in his picturesque costume — a 
short jacket of red doth and the " jawat" ; a parang was stuck in 
his belt, and in his hand he held a sumpitan. From his ears hung 
large pendants made out of the huge red beaks of the great hombiU 
{Buceros rhinoceros). A large number of rings of brciss, gradually 
decreasing in diameter, covered his legs below the knees, whilst on 
his arms he wore two rings of white shell. 

Having taken leave of Mr. Skelton who had been so kind to me 
and done so much to facilitate my journey, I went over to Pulo 
Kaladi to Ladja's house in order to exchange the boat I had for a 
more commodious one. In the house I saw a Mayas Tjaping's 
skull, well smoked, and hanging up with numerous human skulls. 

1 " Kurap " (see footnote on p. 60) is the same as the comnion and 
widely- distributed skin disease of the Pacific known as Tokelau ringworm, 
and is caused, not by an Acarns, but by a fungus (trichophyton). — Ed. 

y Google 


I should like to know why these Dyaks placed the skull of an ape 
amongst their war trophies. Perhaps they, too, have an inkling of 
the relationship existent between Man and the anthropoids, and 
in one of their war expeditions, having failed to secure human 
heads, brought back what they may have considered a substitute. 
Orang-utans, it should be remarked, are rare on the Rejang, and 
are thus regarded more or less as objects of curiosity. 

Cn the twentieth of October I commenced my journey towards 
Simanggan. The Rejang, where its two branches endose Pulo 
Kaladi, is, perhaps, about i,ioo yards across from bank to bank. 
At daylight we were all in the boat, but just as we were starting 
an accident happened which might have had serious consequences, 
A Dyak, unskilled in the use of firearms. In sitting down, removed 
my gun loaded with big shot which was lying by my side, causing 
it to go off. Ladja was just behind me, and at first I feared that he 
was badly wounded ; but, fortunately, between liim and the muizle 
of the gun was a native rotang basket or tambuk containing some 
of my clothes, a package of tobacco, and a pair of shoes ; these 
received the full force of the discharge, and Ladja, fortunately, was 
merely struck in the legs by a few spent pellets of shot which had 
gone through, and hardly penetrated beyond the skin. I did 
not know how Ladja would take the occurrence, but neither he nor 
any of his companions for a moment thought of attaching any blame 
tome. I feared that such an accident, taking pl&ce just as we were 
about to start, might be regarded as a bad omen, auguring against 
our departure, Butitwas just theopposite. Ladja, farfrom being 
discouraged by the mishap, considered it as a patent proof of his 
invulnerability. Not having been killed then, he felt confident that 
he was proof against all bullets. Meanwhile, with my taxidermists' 
tweezers, I extracted the shot from Ladja's legs. The operation 
was a simple and easy one, the more so as the young Dyak was 
as impassive as if I had been taking the shot out of the soles of my 
shoes instead of from his muscles. 

Towards evening we left the Rejang, here quite 700 yards across, 
and entered the Kanowit. We halted for dinner, but resumed our 
journey immediately afterwards. Rain fell in the evening, all the 
more disagreeably as it increased the force of the current against 
which we were paddling. 

Ladja's Dyaks, active and obedient to their chief, did not 
require much persuasion, as the Malays do, to take up their paddles, 
nor was their next morning's toilet a lengthy business. At dawn they 
were up, and when, very shortly after, the sun rose — for here the 
dawn is brief — we were again on our way. 

The country we were now traversing was most uninteresting 
to me ; the banks were high and the land in consequence was dry. 
The primeval forest covered the land no longer, and jungle of 

y Google 


secondary growth was to be seen wherever there were no rice fields. 
The rain had caused the river to rise, and we proceeded slowly. 
But the Dyaks are very clever in taking advantage of any counter- 
currents formed by projecting points. For such portions of the 
river placed between two reaches the Malays have a special term, 
" rantao." 

We met with a big crocodile of the kind called by the natives 
" boaya katak," or frog crocodile, so called because it has a shorter 
snout than the common species. The boaya katak prefers shallow, 
clear-running water, whilst the common long-snouted species keeps 
to the big rivers. 

The banks of the Kanowit continued to be uninteresting 
because deprived of the old forest, a proof that the country was 
populous, although few houses were to be seen from the river, I 
noticed several fine tapangs, and some specimens of the ruddy 
monkey [Semnopithecus ruUcundus), which is also met with on 
the Batang Lupar and Sadong rivers, though I had never seen 
them on the Sarawak. The local restriction of an animal which 
can easily travel long distances is remarkable. The Dyaks caU 
this fine monkey " Julu mera," and assert that in it is found 
a bezoar stone, here known as " Batu belliga," to which they 
attribute great virtues. Up to that time I had been told 
that the bezoar was hidden in the head of the animal, but Ladja 
assured me that it is found in the prut, i.e. abdomen. Possibly it 
is a urinary calculus, and occurs in the bladder. Most of these 
bezoars come from the Kayan territory. The Malays set a great 
value on them, and pay extravagant prices for them, using them 
for medicinal purposes. One kind, more highly esteemed than 
the others, is said to be found in the porcupine. 

We halted next day for the usual culinary operations at a place 
called Aboi. The long house-village was not visible from the river, 
and is reached by ascending a streamlet, hidden by vegetation 
and barely accessible to a boat, for a few hundred yards. Sahat 
got here a good haul of fish with the casting net. 

The Dyaks' at this house struck me as peculiar. Some of their 
women had goitres, which I had never seen before in Borneo. I 
also met an ibino — the second I had seen, and similar to the 
one I had met at Marop. Several of the children, I noticed, had 
fair hair. I cannot explain why in this house I should have found 
such an assemblage of abnoimahties. I do not believe in accidental 
characters in organisms, when such a term is applied to a character 
produced independently of physiological or hereditary causes. 
The cause may be unknown, difficult of recognition, and possibly 
even not capable of explanation in the present state of our know- 
ledge ; but even the smallest modifications in living beings, every 
line in the physiognomy, as well as every variation in the propor- 

y Google 


tion or form of any part of the body, except those of pathological 
origin, I take to be the result of hereditary influences, for I have 
little or no faith in the acquisition of new characters in the present 
period of evolution. 

Perhaps albinos and fair-haired persons in tropical countries 
serve to show how, from little-known but chmatic influences, a dark 
race may assimie the complexion of Northern races ; or possibly 
the phenomenon is merely a case of a return to a character possessed 
by a remote ancestor, traces, in short, of interbreeding with a race 
different from that which now occupies the country. The girls at 
Aboi were the handsomest I had seen amongst the Dyaks ; fair 
in complexion, with full, rounded forms and busts, and none of 
the usual angularities. 

Hitherto we had been going through flat country under the 
nsual Dyak cultivation, which consists in not replanting rice in a 
field before an interval of six or seven years after its first sowings 
Now hills reappeared, and the river was more broken and torrent- 
like, the water was shallower and the banks more picturesque. 
We passed the night of the 23rd at the mouth of the Sungei Matto, 
one of the branches of the Kanowit, and next day continued 
our ascent of the latter river. The country was populous. We 
passed numerous Dyak house-villages, partly hidden by areca 
palms and big fruit-trees. At each house, or village, as it may 
aptly be called, they invited us to stay ; indeed, at each they wished 
me to pass the night, which would have pleased my Dyaks greatly, 
but I was too anxious to get on with my journey to accede. 

The bright complexions of the Kanowit Dyaks are no doubt 
the effect of their prosperous condition, the abundance of food they 
have, and the salubrity of the country ; but not a little must 
also be owing to their frequent ablutions. Indeed, we never passed 
one of these houses without seeing a lot of women and children 
bathing in the river. After the bath the women rub their bodies 
all over with the root of a Zingiber or of a Curcuma, which gives a 
yellow tint to the skin, and to my eyes was far from adding to their 
beauty, making them look as if they were suffering from a severe 
attack of jaundice. The colour is, however, easily removed by a 
wash. I do not know whether this part of the toilette of the 
Kanowit ladies has a hygienic object, or whether it is adopted from 
aesthetic reasons. 1 

That morning we saw on a branch projecting over the river 
a beautiful bird, called burong papu by the natives. The feathers 
are thick and peculiarly soft, black on the breast, brilliant carmine 
on the abdomen, and light brown on the back. It is the Pyrotrogon 
kasumba, and one of the birds whose appearance is considered a 
good omen by the Dyaks, especially if they are starting for a 
" munsu," or head-hunting expedition. But to meet it is always 

y Google 


a sign of good luck, and my Dyaks asked me to allow them to stop 
a little while in token of respect, to which I readily consented. They 
stopped rowing, arid remained a few minutes quite still with their 
paddles lifted, and then cheerfully resumed their labour. 

It was nearly noon on October 24th when we left the Kanowit 
and entered the Entabei. Here we found the current stronger, 
but as the water was shallow we made good progress with the 
" suars," i.e. by poling. Ladja's men were very clever at this work, 
and could pudi a boat rapidly up shallow streams with strong 
currents in a way unknown in the Malay Islands east of Borneo. 
The study of poling-methods in various countries would be not 
without its interests. Our Arno boatmen in Tuscany always pole 
where the river is shallow, and use their poles exactly as the Dyaks 
do theirs, only they certainly cannot compare with the latter in 
the length of the journeys thus performed with their light canoes. 
Ours literally flew over the surface of the water, handled with incom- 
parable dexterity by my six young savages. There is to my mind 
no lighter and more pleasant method of progression, and certainly 
no kind of work displays so well the elegant movements and perfect 
proportions of these young Dyaks, who, practically unencumbered 
with clothing, are truly splendid specimens of humanity. Timing 
their movements with marvellous precision, one stands erect and 
raises his suar, while his neighboiu: bends low over his as he thrusts 
it into the bed of the torrent, and so alternately. Anyone inex- 
perienced in the work would very soon be overboard. 

Several villages were passed , but as it was still dayhght we con- 
tinued on our way, only halting when the shade of the trees of both 
banks, which now nearly touched each other overhead, had deepened 
into darkness. 

The morning of the 25th was delicious ; a cool gentle breeze 
wafted to us the sweet scent of the blossoming trees in the neigh- 
bouring forest. The sun, in spite of its tropic fierceness, hardly 
managed to pierce the dense mass of foHage overhead with a few of 
the slenderest rays, which, reflected by the limpid crystalline 
waters of tbe river in dancing shafts of light, fitfully illumined the 
green tunnel through which we made our way. The clear water 
ran over a bed of gravel, at times sloping enough to form a series 
of small rapids, covered over a wide area by a singular plant having 
purphsh leaves with sheeny reflections. This was a small aroid 
(Cryptocoryne bullosa, Becc.}, belonging to a genus the species of 
which live mostly under water. The leaves of this plant are most 
remarkable. Their surfaces are not flat, but pitted beneath and with 
corresponding protuberances above, as in some varieties of the com- 
mon cabbage. What is the cause of such a conformation in an 
aquatic plant ? All structural peculiarities in an organ must have, 
or have had, some cause or reason— for adaptation, as I understand 

y Google 


it, is merely the result of the action of stimuli on organisms at one time 
endowed with the faculty of modifying themselves according to 
their environment. Admitting this, what stimulus can have pro- 
duced the singular conformation of the leaves of this Cryptocoryne ? 
Perhaps it was the need of enlarging the assimilating surface of 
the leaves (the plant hving in shady places} without increasing too 
much the resistance to the water curre.-it, which might have torn it. 
Or was it due to the current itself exercising a continuous 
tension on the surface of the leaves in the spaces between the 
longitudinal and the .transverse ribs, and distending the tissues 
in these parts, as the wind would a sail. Or have both the above 
mentioned causes contributed to render hereditary a character which 
was at first accidental, but of daily occurrence ? There are some 
plants in which the tension of water against the leaf surface has 
acted more energetically, lacerating the least protected places 
so as to produce complete perforations. This is the case with 
some of the Uvirandras. 

The above-mentioned Cryptocoryne, the cause of this digression, 
was then in blossom, but the inflorescences were submerged and all 
closed. Probably they only expand when the waters are very low, 
or else the plant is one of those termed by botanists cleistogamous, 
i.e. producing flowers which never open, not even when fecundation 
is taking place. 

I searched most carefully on the rocks, both submerged and 
awash, for Podostomacese, as such places looked hkely for these 
plants, but I found none. The absence of members of this family 
through the entire Malay Archipelago excepting Java is singular, for 
several are found in Ceylon, whose flora olfers so many affinities with 
that of Malaysia. All the rocks we had seen so far were sandstone. - 

We camped for the night on a projecting tongue of land which 
hes at the confluence of the Mintei and the Entabei. On the bank, 
exactly at the point where the two rivers meet, rose a most majestic 
tapang(.46aMm excdsa), one of the finest specimens of this gigantic 
tree. I had never been able to ascertain the height of these giants 
on account of their surroundings. But here was an excellent 
opportunity for taking a measurement, for the tongue of land was 
perfectly level and flat, and gave me the means of measuring a base. 
With this datmn, a very simple trigonometrical operation enabled 
me to determine the height of the tree, which proved to be 230 feet 
from the ground to the top of its immense crown of fohage,' Six 
' I am of opinion that the heights of 450 feet and more attributed to some 
Australian trees {Eucalyptus') are unreliable. [Mr. W. Ferguson, Inspector of 
State Forests, measured a fallen Eucalyptus on the Watts River which by the 
tape was 435 ft. from base to a point where it was fractured. Here its 
rliameter was ,36 inches. "Before it fell," he writes, "it must have been 
more than 500 feet high." (v. A. Trollope's Australia and New Zealand. 
vol. 1, appendix iv.)^ED.] 


y Google 


y Google 


feet from the ground the circumference of the trunk was 69 feet ; 
but this was not the girth of the cylindrical part, or trunk 
proper, but of the buttresses as well. Such expansions or buttresses 
in the Abauria are at times so large and flat as to furnish the immense 
planks which I saw during my stay with the Tubao Kayans. The 
tnmk, covered with a light-coloured smooth bark, rises perfectly 
straight without a branch, hke an immense column, for at least 
two-thirds of the total height of the tree. Only at that great height 
does it spread out its vast branches, on which honey bees build 
their nests in preference to any other tree. The crown is immense 
and dome- shaped. 

On the 26th we continued to ascend the Entabei. In some places 
the water was very low, but my Dyaks, strong, active, and always 
good-humoured, got out and dragged the boat for long distances. 
The weather continued fine, but the country was less picturesque. 
With the exception of some fields covered with green rice, we passed 
through nothing but land clothed with jungle of secondary growth. 
Whilst we were passing a village I noticed an object which I could 
not explain. It looked at first something hke the scaffolding for 
putting up a statue (Fig. 54). Whenlleamt thatit was the appara- 
tus for making sumpitans I stopped on purpose to examine it, and 
had the good fortune to see it working, for one of these weapons 
was then being made. The piece of wood selected to be bored is 
always of a hard, tough kind, usually tapang or mingris (Dialium). 
It is cut about the length required, some six or seven feet, but 
the thickness is considerably greater than the ultimate diameter 
of the tube. This long log of timber is fixed vertically on a kind of 
platform, which is raised on four stout wooden pillars planted in the 
ground and held firm by slanting stakes ; they are also bound together 
by transverse bars, so that the whole structure is exceedingly strong. 
The raised platform, on which the log rests vertically, is about seven 
feet above the ground. As soon as the log of wood is fixed firmly 
in its perpendicular position, so that it cannot possibly move, the 
Dyak artificer places himself beneath the scaffold and strikes with a 
uniform and measured stroke the centre of the lower end of the log, 
using a round iron rod a little longer than the log, nearly as 
thick as the calibre of the sumpitan, and sharp at the end like 
a chisel. This is continued until the log is bored right through. 
To polish the bore and render it perfectly uniform in diameter, a 
rotang of adequate length and diameter is passed through and worked 
up and down as long as is necessary. The method of boring is similar 
to that used for making blasting holes in mines, only the work is 
done from beneath upwards. The iron borer has a wooden handle 
fitted to it to facilitate working, and this handle is run down the 
iron rod as the work proceeds. 

Tliat evening we reached the fangkalan, or landing-place, 

y Google 


where our overland journey was to commence. My Dyaks appeared 
very much pleased, not because their labour was at an end, for 
owing to the transport of the baggage the land journey was far more 
fatiguing than that on the water, but for the change which is always 
welcome to these people. We lighted a fire to cook the rice for 
our supper, whilst some of my men went into the woods in search 
of young shoots of bamboo, of ginger, edible fern (Asflenium 
escidentum), leaves of trees, or other sayor, as the Malays call 
such kinds of vegetable condiments. Others went along the 
river and managed to catch some fish. These Dyaks are so 
well acquainted with all kinds of useful forest produce, that they 
do not require to take a quantity of provisions when on their journeys. 
I was also struck with the fact that they never appear to be tired, 
even after paddling from sunrise to sunset, with less than an hour's 
rest at noon. That night, naked as they were, they preferred to 
sleep ashore on the pebbles of the riverside to lying in the boat. 
But during the night it began to rain, and the water of the swollen 
torrent reached their sleeping place, and obliged them to seek 
shelter under the matting covering the boat. 

Under heavy rain we next day commenced our march overland 
from the basin of the Baloi to that of the Batang Lupar. It is a 
most tiresome journey, the road for the greater part of the way 
being the actual bed of the Kammaliei torrent. Half that day we 
marched through the water on shppery pebbles covered with 
algte. At intervals we left the bed of the torrent and went up and 
down small hills, in order to make short cuts or to avoid places where 
the water was too deep for wading. The forest was very fine, 
and would, no doubt, have yielded grand botanical novelties if I had 
only had time to stop and collect. Amongst the notable plants I 
found was a singular Anonaceous shrub ([7«ob<t ftagellaris, Becc), 
whose flowers are neither on the branches nor on the trunk, but on 
underground offshoots. These flowers are about two inches in 
length, of a conspicuously bright liver-red, and highly perfumed. 
It is most strange to see them emerging isolated from the ground a foot 
or more away from the base of the plant to which they belong. In 
one place a little streamlet formed a waterfall, and I found the rocks 
wetted by its spray covered by a diminutive Aracea. The entire 
plant hEirdly attains the height of three-quarters of an inch. I have 
named it Microcosia pygmtea, for it is the smallest member of the 
family, which has some gigantic species, such as the Amorpho- 
phalkis titanum, which I discovered later in Sumatra. 

From the Kammaliei we got into the Attoi, another torrent, 
and thence into the Blangun, which is quite a streamlet where we 
struck it. After a short rest for dinner, we started once more, 
climbing a hill of about t,ooo feet to begin with. Such a path it was, 
too ! It took us through land which had once been cultivated, but 

y Google 


had been long since abandoned. We marched along under a sun of 
truly tropical intensity, at the very hottest hour of the day. The 
heat in the forests of Borneo is always moderate,^ but in the open 
it is most oppressive. There were no trees, and the ground was 
covered with the detestable lalang grass and by rassana {Pieris 
arachnoidea), a tall and thickly matted fern. This is the vegetation 
which invades clayey soils, when, after the forest has been cleared 
and after the first cultivations, the heavy rains have washed away 
the superficial layer of humus. The hiUs covered with lalang grass 
look well from a distance; indeed, with the clumps of trees 
which are scattered about, they have quite a park-like appearance. 
But this is only another kind of mirage, and the illusion passes 
away as soon as one sets foot on them. 

The hill which we had to cross was steep, and the miserable 
pathway we followed was els slippery as ice from the morning's 
rain. Now and again we came across prostrate tree-trunks hidden 
in the grass, over which we fell. After two hours of this far from 
pleasant exercise we at last reached the summit, where it was some 
compensation to get an extensive view over the surrounding country 
—a rare thing in Borneo. In the distance we could see higher hiUs 
on the misty horizon. I was also able to form an idea of the kind 
of country to the S.S.E., which we had to cross in order to reach 
the Sakarrang or S'krang river. 

We got down the hill by a pathway no better than the one which 
had led us up, and after three hours of a very fatiguing march we 
reached the torrent Meliet. Half of my men had remained in the 
rear to wait for an old Dyak who had joined us from one of the 
houses on the way. Although he was a Dyak, he felt the weight 
of his many years, and our pace was rather too quick for his old legs. 
Rain was threatening, and the sun was nearing the verge of the 
horizon. Only a portion of our luggage was with us, and it looked as 
if we should have to pass an uncomfortable night in the jungle, 
when one of Ladja's Dyaks, who had been this way before, 
suddenly remembered that there was a house in the neighbour- 
hood. We accordingly followed his indications, and got there when 
it was quite dark. 

Happily, amongst the things with our detachment of the party 
there was a vessel for cooking rice. The house was empty, the 
inmates having probably gone to look after their rice fields, where, 
when they are far from the bouse, temporary shelters are always 
built. We found rice in the house and honeycombs, from which 
my Dyaks extracted some excellent honey, clear and very fluid. 

^ ' Not every traveller, perhaps, will subscribe to this statemeat. Some 
of the most unbearable temperatures I have ever experienced in any part of 
the world have been in the Bornean forests, especially trying on account of 
e airlcssness,- — Ed, 

y Google 


This is the product of the tiny bee called by the Dyaks " nuang " 
(Apis nigrocinda), which is found in the forest, but can easily be 
domesticated. We had thus an excellent supper of rice and honey ; 
and we hoped, also, to have a good sleep, after the tiring march and 
the heat, from which I at least had suffered, and apparently my sturdy 
Dyaks as well. But we were doomed to disappointment, for tlie 
sandflies were simply insupportable, and, not having my mosquito 
net with me, I never closed my eyes. In all my excursions in the 
Bomean forests I would always prefer to do without food than with- 
out that most excellent of inventions. But we should have fared 
still worse had we not found the house, for the rain came down in 
torrents throughout the night. 

Whilst we were waiting for our laggards at the MeUet torrent, 
I saw the Dyaks who were with me hunting amongst the pebbles 
of the torrent for a pecuhar stone, which they greedily nibbled 
as if it were a sweetmeat. It was a kind of clayey schist, soft and 
brittle, and greasy to the touch. I brought a few specimens away 
with me. 

Next morning the rest of our party joined us. They had camped 
in the bed of the torrent ; but when it rained the waters rose, and 
they had to fly, and passed a miserable night on the bank, for they 
were not even able to light a fire. The old Dyak who had been 
the cause of this delay, discouraged by so unpleasant a commence- 
ment of his journey, had thought it wiser to turn back. 

None of the inmates of the house had returned, but Ladja and 
his men, without much ado, helped themselves to all they cared for, 
knowing that they were amongst friends. They prepared a luxu- 
rious breakfast, consisting of fowls, rice, sago, and honey, of which 
I partook with zest. For once in a way we made a late start, 
and it was ten o'clock before we were off. We marched in the bed 
of the torrent in six inches of water. This is the most tiring kind 
of locomotion that can well be imagined, and is quite as unpleasant 
to the Dyaks, whose feet become tender from such constant soaking, 
and are more liable to get wounded afterwards in walking through 
the forest. In my wanderings I found that a three days' tramp 
in these forests disabled a third or half of the natives who were with 
me. Most undoubtedly Borneo is not the land that has caused an 
anthropoid like the orang-utan to exchange his arboreal locomotion 
for a terrestial one ! 

Leaving the torrent we climbed a hill of some 1,300 feet, which 
was entirdy planted with rice, not the smallest tree remaining 
to shade us from the merciless sun. When I got to the top I was 
once more rewarded for the fatigue and heat I had endured by an 
extensive view of the hiUs of the Sakarrang, the Batang Lupar, 
and the Seribas. These lay in front of us, whilst looking back over 
the way we had come I could see those of the Kanowit. Sadok, 

y Google 


too, famous in the wars of the Tuan Muda, boldly dominates the 
landscape. All the hills near and around us were under rice culti- 
vation, or covered with lalang. For miles and miles around there 
was no old forest, or only smali patches on the steeper slopes of 
some hills. It was in one of these patches that I found a shrub 
whose leaves when rubbed emitted a strong smell of lemon-scented 
verbena (Aloysia citriodora). It is the only plant which I found in 
Borneo with that kind of scent. It was without flowers or fruit, 
and from the leaves alone I could not even attempt to guess its 
systematic position. 

We descended the hill by a very steep path, and from the clayey 
nature of the soil slid down the greater part of the way, it being 
most difficult to stand erect and preserve one's footing. The sun 
was in the zenith, and I felt as if I were in a furnace. I endeavoured 
to shield my head with the broad leaves of wild bananas, whenever 
we came across these plants. A few pieces of the leaves folded 
and placed on one's head inside the hat are an excellent defence 
against sunstroke. We reached the right bank of the Sakarrang 
at a place called Rantu N'karas, about two hours after noon. 
Travelling, as I did, Dyak fashion, constantly in and out of the 
water, or drenched to the skin with rain, it was useless to carry a 
watch ; it would very soon have been hors de combat. But in a 
country so near the equator the division of the meridian circle into 
twelve equal parts is no very difficult matter, and with a little 
practice it is easy to teU the hour during the daytime within an 
error of fifteen to twenty minutes. Even the length of one's 
shadow can be easily and with considerable accuracy turned to 
account in ascertaining the time. 

Just opposite the spot where we had struck the Sakarrang 
we could see the village we were bound for. Its name was Ruma 
Sale, and, as usual, it consisted of one large and very long house, 
for many families lived under its roof. It takes its name from that of 
theheadman or OrangTua, which was Sale, and it was once a famous 
nest of pirates. Ruma Sale is built on a kind of land-spit or pro- 
montory, which commands a sudden curve of the river, and thus 
dominates the stream on both sides ; it is, therefore, impossible 
to approach it without being seen from a good distance. The big 
house is partly hidden by fine pinangs and big fruit-trees. I also 
saw there several upas trees and fine kadjattao sago pahns, grown 
from seeds brought from the forest. 

The Sakarrang is a large and rapid river, which here describes 
a tortuous course amongst picturesque hills. From Rantu N'Karas 
it can be ascended in boats for three days, after which in one day's 
overland journey the Katibas basin can be reached. The hills 
which form the dividing range between the Katibas and the Sakar- 
rang are probably under 3,ooo feet. 

y Google 


At Ruma Sale I again saw some Dyaks eating with evident 
relish the clay schist which I alluded to just now as having seen 
at the Mehet. It certainly was not eaten to appease hunger, but 
as a delicacy, or, perhaps, to assuage an instinctive craving of the 
stomach for some alkaline substance. 

As there were many upas trees here, and as the natives are very 
proficient in preparing the well-known poison, I wished to witness 
the process used in its manufacture. It is a very simple one. 
With a parang they first make a deep oblique incision in the bark 
of the tree, and then place just below it a bamboo joint, in which 
the milky sap, which exudes in abundance from the cut, is collected. 
In this manner, from a upas near the village, I myself collected 
sufficient sap to fill a joint of a medium-sized bamboo in a 
very short time. The fresh sap of the upas is quite harmless, and 
thus no pl-ecautions are necessary whilst collecting it; a fact I can 
amply confirm, for whilst tapping the tree my hands were splashed 
all over. I have explained elsewhere the way in which the poison 
is preserved in palm leaves hung over the fireplace, and when 
required for use dissolved and apphed to the points of the sumpitan 

No European had previously been in this part of the country, 
and I was therefore an object of the greatest curiosity, especially 
to the women, and amongst these the most importunate were 
the elderly ones, of whom there was an ample and scarcely attractive 
coUection. I had few things with me, my personal necessaries 
forming only the load of one man, for travelling as I did I could not 
take much luggage with me. And yet every object was passed in 
review, handled, and commented upon. These old hags would have 
taken possession of everything had I let them do so. In no other 
place was I so much pestered with questions, and nowhere were 
they as absurd as here ; especially those relating to elementary 
cosmography. But there was a reason for this, at least it appeared 
to me so. These Dyaks, who, by the way, do not differ from the 
other Land -Dyaks I had seen, consider the earth to be a 
fiat surface, whilst the heavens are a dome, a kind of glass shade 
which covers the earth, and comes in contact with it at the horizon. 
They, therefore, beheve that, travelling straight on, always in the same 
direction, one comes at last, without any metaphor, to touch the 
sky with one's fingers. Now as they know that Europeans come from 
far away over the sea, the supposition that we are nearer heaven 
comes naturally to them. It seemed to them, therefore, nearly 
impossible that I had not been in the moon, and they wanted to 
know if in my country we had one or several moons, and if we also 
had only one sun. It was most amusing to see the signs of incredulity 
which my negative answers elicited amongst my audience. Had I 
told thera the story of Jules Verne's Voyage to the Moon I should 
337 z 

y Google 


certainly have been believed. It was with real sorrow that they 
heard me assert that in Europe the sky was quite as far from the 
earth cts in Borneo. 

But who can say that the belief of these Dy^iks was not that 
of many people of the West in prehistoric times during the Stone 
Age ? Or that the idea of the possibihty of the gods descending to 
the earth may not have had its origin in the above-mentioned 
notions as to the shape of heaven and earth ? The gods of Oljon- 
pus may have been in origin nothing more than invaders from the 
East, who profited by the behefsof the primitive peoples of the West 
to inculcate in them greater respect. It is a mistake, I feel sure, 
to believe that the present-day savage populations of Southern 
Asia and its islands are inferior in point of intelligence to the primi- 
tive peoples of Europe. Far from this being the case, I imagine 
that, making allowances for differences in climate, the manner of 
life of the two peoples must have had great analogy. 

At 10 a.m. the next day we began to descend the Sakarrang, 
which for many miles below Ruma Sale is an almost unbroken succes- 
sion of rapids, and has to be navigated with great care. My party 
was a numerous one, and as large boats were dangerous we divided 
into two. In each of these boats were two experienced hands 
from Ruma Sale. We passed, almost at starting, two very dangerous 
places. My boat, skilfully handled, shot past the rocks in the 
boiling and foaming waters, but we were very nearly swamped, 
and got into calm water only in the nick of time. The boat which 
followed, and which carried our supplies, was prudently dragged over 
the rocks by the crew, a longer and more fatiguing, but much safer 
operation. After this we passed the other rapids very successfully, 
and the rivalry between the two crews sent us along at a prodigious 

At noon we reached a village, where we found quite a number 
of people assembled. A meeting of the neighbouring chiefs was 
being held to give judgment in Uie case of a man who had married 
a second wife, the first one being yet alive. This appears to be a 
very grave offence against the established customs of this tribe, 
for I was told that the guilty person ought to be punished with death. 
I found the chiefs squatting in a circle on mats, each having in front 
of hini a dish and a cup, both of which were empty, while around 
the assembly gongs, drums, and especially tajaus, were dis- 

I do not know what was the verdict given by the judges, 
because our arrival interrupted the proceedings, and I only stopped 
for the time necessary to change my boat and crew. I was also able 
to buy some fowls, eggs, and rice, which were abundant here. At 
every village we came to we changed boat and crew ; it appears 
that such is the custom of the Sakarrang Dyaks, and that they 

y Google 


accompany friendly travellers only as far as the next village. It is 
a kind of posting by water, which, however, causes much loss of time, 
although we got along very fast on account of the strength of the 
current. We passed the night at a house which contained very 
few inmates, having changed boats and crews lour times en route. 
Ladja at each village came out in gala costume. He removed 

Fig. ss. 


the breeches he wore in the forest, or when he was paddling in the 
boat, and wore the jawat only. He then put on his enormous 
hombill car-pendants, passed his numerous brass rings on his anns 
and legs, and put on his red jacket. He liked to show off at full 
advantage before the girls, and I could see that they looked on him 
with admiring eyes. Ladja was not only a handsome young fellow, 
but an excellent parti for any girl ; and I can fully undei-stand he 

y Google 


was a good deal more killing when his muscular and well-shaped legs 
were not encased in a prosaic pair of trousers. 

On the 30th we were early in our boat, and passed through a 
very populous region, where no trace of the old forest had been left. 
We were obhged to change boats and crews six times, and at each 
village we were forced to stop and answer the persistent questions 
as to who we were, where we had come from, whither we were going, 
and so forth. The hiils now disappeared, the river became deeper, 
and there were no more pebbles in its bed. All those I had exam- 
ined in the region we had crossed were of sandstone. I did not see 
any trace of limestone or of granite. Greatly to my annoyance 
— for I wanted to follow the entire process of the preparation of the 
poison^ — I found that the bamboo joint containing the upas had been 
left behind at the house where we had slept. When I discovered 
the loss it was too late to turn back, and besides we should have had 
to paddle up stream, which would have required at least twice the 
time. We halted at 5 p.m., having covered not less than seventy 
miles in the two last days. 

On the thirty-first of October, favoured with a full flood, we 
entered the Batang Lupar and reached Simanggan in the after- 
noon. At the fort I found the Tuan Muda, who had just come 
from Kuching. To my delight I found that he had kindly brought 
my letters and newspapers, of which I had been deprived for 
several months. 

y Google 


From the Batang Lupar to Kuching — Simanggan — A Swampy Forest 
— At Banting — Ascent of Mount Lingga — Difficulties beset our 
Journey — Astray in the Lagoons of the Lingga^Dyak Instru- 
ment FOR Husking Rice — An Experiment with Upas Poison — The 
Kulit-Lawan — ■ Amongst the Sabuyo Dyaks — Marshes with 
Pandani — From Sumundjang to Samarahan^Lost in the Forest 

SIMANGGAN Fort is built on a very slight eminence rising 
from the river bank, but it is quite sufiicient to aiford a view 
over a large extent of country. The surrounding district is covered 
by a swampy forest of liigh trees, whose bases remain all the year 
round in water. This kind of forest is the most tedious to cross, but 
it is that which offers the greatest harvest to the naturahst, on 
account of the enormous variety of species which form it, a fact 
which I am inclined to attribute to the ready dissemination of fruits 
by the water. As most of these fruits float, they are easily carried 
about during floods by the current ; and if the forests are invaded 
by water they find favourable conditions for germinating. 

From Simanggan there is a good pathway leading to Undup, 
with which I was already acquainted, having traversed it twice ; 
the first time with the Bishop of Labuanthe year before, the second 
when I came to Simanggan, in March, on my way to Marop. But 
the pleasure of being able to walk comfortably and dry in a Bornean 
forest was too great for me to resist the temptation of going there 

The forest would doubtless have rewarded me with many things 
of interest if I had been able to stay and work it, but a mere excur- 
sion through it can hardly be expected to give important results, 
since it is impossible to have trees climbed or felled in order to get 
specimens. Nevertheless, I found submerged beneath the water, 
which remains pennanently in the lower hollows of the forest, 
another very distinct species of Cryptocoryne (C. longtcauda, Becc, 
cf. Malesia. i. pi. 27, Fig. 6), of which I had the misfortune after- 
wards to lose the only specimens collected, though I fortunately 
have a drawing made on the spot. This genus of aquatic plants is 
of especial interest, on account of the multiplicity of its adaptations 
to a subaqueous life. I have already mentioned Cryptocoryne 

y Google 


bullosa, which lives in the clear and rapid waters of the Entabei. 
I found other species of the same genus on the muddy banks of the 
Bintulu and Igan ; and another and very large species (C ciliata, 
Fisch.) is abundant on the slimy mud along the banks of the Sarawak 
river, where at low tide it is partially out of the water. The Cryfto- 
cofyne of the Simanggan forest was evidently adapted to hve in the 
limpid waters of the densest forests, and thus in perennial deep 
shade. The spathe in species is very long, and terminates in a 
long filament which resembles that of the European Arisarum pro- 
boscideum, and serves, perhaps, to guide fecundating insects into the 
nuptial chamber when the waters are low. Another species {Cryfto- 
coryne pallidinervia, Engl.), found at Siman^an, grows under con- 
ditions resembling those in which C, longicauda occurs, and is an 
instance (which I believe to be hitherto unrecorded) of a subaqueous 
plant having leaves variegated with white along the midrib. 

I remained for a week at Simanggan Fort as the Tuan Muda's 
guest, and was thus able to iinish drying and arranging the plants 
which I had collected. They were not numerous, but were of 
exceptional importance. 

At that time of the year to return by sea to Kuching was a seiious 
undertaking in a small boat, for the north-east monsoon was 
blowing strong on the coast. I was very desirous, moreover, of 
visiting and exploring the country between theBatang Lupar and 
the Sarawak rivers, a region quite unknown to me. I therefore 
decided to return to Kuching overland. Of the Dyaks who had 
accompanied me thus far, Ladja and one other alone expressed the 
wish to go on with me, the others remaining at Simanggan. I had, 
besides, my two Malays, Sahat and Bakar, who had followed me 
from Bintulu, and the Tuan Muda kindly gave me a boat and a few 
more Sea-Dyaks to accompany me as far as Banting (Fig. 56). 

We left Simanggan early on November 8th, but shortly after 
noon a most violent storm burst over us, obhging us to seek re- 
fuge in a small stream until the wind abated. The river, which 
was very wide at that spot, assumed the aspect of a tempestuous 
sea, and would have been very dangerous for our fragile boat. That 
evening we reached Lingga, and I took up my quarters in the 
old fort. 

Early next morning I went up to the mission-house at Banring, 
where Mr. Chambers gave me a most cordial and hospitable recep- 
tion, repeating the kindnesses he had shown me a year before when 
I visited him with the Bishop of Labuan. The next day was a 
Sunday, and I took a quiet stroll on the lull, leaving my gun at 
home. Banting Hill is entirely covered with great fruit-trees, mostly 
durians, amongst which the Dyak houses are buUt. 

From Banting one has a fine view of Gunong Lingga, or Gunong 
, thus named on account of its shape^a truncated cone 

Hoslod by 



with a wide base, wiiicli resembles an overturned mortar, fo wliich 
article the Dyaks and Malays apply the name "lessong." 

On the nth, in company with Mr. Mesney, the other resident 
missionary at Banting, I started to make the ascent of Mount Lingga, 
which was no very difficult undertaking. We left at 2 p.m. in a 

sampan, in order to get the assistance of the inflowing tide. For 
about eight miles we paddled up the right branch of the Ungga 
river, and then entered a small stream which led us to Kranji, a 
Dyak house-village, where we passed the night. We were off again 
early next morning. The road up towards the mountain led through 

y Google 


land once cultivated, but now abandoned. The ascent was not so 
bad, and pretty easy walking, but most of the hill-side was covered 
with the usual uninteresting vegetation which springs up on aban- 
doned lands. We reached the summit of Gunong Lingga at lo 
a.m., after a few hours' continuous but easycHmbing, during which 
we were able to keep up a good pace. Only near the top was there 
any true old forest, and here I noticed several species which I had 
collected on other mountain summits, such as Dacrydium, Podo- 
carpus, Dammara, and the M.3.tt3Ji^ Eugeissonia (E.insignis,'Becc.). 
There was a fine view of the tortuous course of the river lying 
beneath us. On the rocks at the summit, which, hke the rest of the 
mountain, were of sandstone formation, I found some nests of Collo- 
calia, but they were not of the edible kind, being composed of moss 
with only just sufficient of the gelatinous substance to hold it 

The descent only took us about three hours, and at 3 p.m. 
we were back at Kranji. There we had not long to wait for the ebb 
tide, and with its aid we reached Banting in another three hours, 
in time to have supper with Mr. Chambers. 

All I now required was a guide and a boat large enough to take 
us a one-day's journey to the landing place, whence our overland 
march across to the Samarahan was to commence. But the good 
missionaries were unable to procure this for me. I must confess that 
this surprised and disappointed me greatly, for I had had no such 
difficulty whilst travelling amongst remote and savage tribes. 
Everywhere boats had been freely and willingly given to me ; and 
I certainly never should have expected a refusal of so small a favour 
at Banting, where for years missionaries had dwelt and exerted 
their influence. When I bid good-bye to my otherwise most kind 
hosts I felt rather ruffled and indignant. 

With my men, Sahat and Bakar, and the two Dyaks from the 
Rejang, I went down to the Dyak houses by the river, where I 
had seen the sort oi boat I wanted. Without further ado I had it 
put into the water by my men, placed my small amount of luggage 
in it, and telling my men to take the first paddles they found, 
got in and started. Meanwhile people had gathered on the bank, 
and the owners of the boat protested ; but a " ringgit " {dollar) I 
threw them was sufficient to quiet them, and I ordered my men to 
paddle on. 

I had certainly overcome the main difficulty, but without a 
guide my journey was no easy one, for the Lingga river soon loses 
itself in a maze of swamps, splitting up into innumerable intricate 
channels, through which without a guide it is almost impossible to 
find one's way. I hoped, however, to meet some one who could act 
as pilot on the way. After having paddled up that portion of the 
river which I had gone over on my trip to Gunong Lessong, as the 

y Google 


time of flood tide was near we stopped at a lanko to await the tidal 
"bore." This came at 4 p.m., and was rather imposing, only 
instead of being a single wall of water it was followed by several 
waves in siiccession. We started again with the tide in our favour, 
and paddled for five hours, as long as it served us, in fact ; when we 
made fast the boat to a tree, lit a lire, had our supper, and then lay 
down to sleep in the boat, there being no dry spot ashore. Our 
slumbers were not quiet, for the boat caused us continual anxiety, 
being in bad condition and very leaky. The river was very full, 
and the water was perfectly clear, but of a dark colour, like that of 
strong tea, just as 1 had seen it in the Kapuas lakes. 

On the 15th we continued to ascend the Lingga river, which now 
widened and spread over the forest, completely inundating it. At 
one spot the vegetation was entirely composed of pandani, through 
which we with great difficulty found a passage. We often heard 
the bellowing of orang-utans, but did not see any. 

Since we had left Banting we had not fallen in with a single 
living soul, and we were beginning to get anxious regarding the 
direction we were following, for the regular course of the river could 
no longer be made out, and we had got to a kind of lake, where all 
view around was impeded by a thick growth of pandani. But in 
the nick of time, when a guide had become an imperative necessity, 
we met with a boat paddled by a single Dyak, happily a pagan, 
who readily offered to pilot us. 

We had fortunately not yet got off the track, and after a little 
time we came to a part where the course of the river was plainer. 
It was nevertheless stiU so full of plants and floating tree-trunks 
that our progress was very slow and fatiguing. Towards evening, 
after having got drenched to the skin by a very heavy shower, we 
found a little sort of hiU raised above the waters, where we passed 
the night as well as we could. 

I left there next morning the boat which I had taken at Banting, 
for it was too large for the river, which was now reduced to a mere 
torrent. Two men with my luggage accordingly got into the small 
canoe we had met, whilst I with the other two and our guide pro- 
ceeded by land along the hank of the stream, following a pathway 
which led to the dwelling of some Subumban Dyaks, which we 
reached at about 11 a.m. 

In this house I noticed for the first time a very ingenious instru- 
ment for husking rice (Fig. 57), an operation usually performed in a 
wooden mortar, as I have previously mentioned. But the instru- 
ment 1 now saw was a form of mill, and consisted of two cyhnders 
of very hard wood, about a foot in diameter, which were placed one 
over the other. The top one was shaped hke a funnel at its upper 
end, and bored through, the bore having a diameter of about 4 inches. 
Its lower end was concave, and had deep grooves radiating from the 

y Google 


centre to the arciimference or outer edge The bottom part was a 
solid block, equal in diameter to the upper cylinder, very heavy, and 
furnished with a peg on which the upper block revolved. It was 
convex at its upper end, and cut into radiating ridges which corre- 
sponded to the grooves of the lower end of the upper piece. The 
rice to be husked is poured into the upper cylinder at the funnel- 
shaped end, and passes out where the lower end of the first and 
upper end of the second cylinder meet with their grooved and ridged 
surfaces, the husk being rubbed off the grains by a semi-rotating 
movement given to the upper cylinder, which has lateral handles 
for that purpose, whilst the lower one is held firm and upright by its 
great weight. 

Fg 5 — 1 


As it was not my intention to travel any farther that day, I 
determined to make an experiment with the upas poison. In 
exchange for a " ringgit " the Dyaks sold me one of their dogs for the 
purpose. Since the first of November I had myself prepared a few 
sumpitan darts, or ladja, dipping their points into some dry upas 
sap, which I had obtained from the Sakarrang Dyaks and dissolved 
in tobacco juice. I gave the poor dog that was to be the victim 
a little rice, and as it was eating I gently blew one of the little 
darts into its right thigh. The wound was so slight that the dog 
hardly shook itself, and went on eating its rice ; only the skin 
had been penetrated and not a drop of blood appeared. After 
a few seconds, the dart being still in the wound, the creature showed 
signs of slight uneasiness, such as might be occasioned by the bite 
of a flea, and after the ladja had been about thirty seconds in the 
wound, drew it out with its teeth. After about a quarter of an hour, 
during which time the dog showed no further signs of being affected, 
it retired to a comer as if to sleep. Half an hour later it was seized 
with several accesses of vomiting, after which it went out of the 

y Google 


house and had an evacuation. It then came up again and curled 
up as if to sleep on the floor, showing no signs of pain, though it 
appeared exhausted, and its breathing was very feeble and infre- 
quent. After two hours it was still in the same condition, looking 
as if it would die at any moment ; but in about three hours after 
having been wounded it began to recover slightly, and dragged it- 
self towards the fire. 

Next morning the poor dog was stiU alive, but still under the 
influence of the poison. It made frequent attempts at vomiting, 
its circulation was evidently profoundly affected, and the pulsations 
of the heart were very irregular. Considering how shght and super- 
ficial the wound was, the effect of the upas appeared to me very 
energetic, and I have no doubt that it would have been fatal had 
the dart penetrated further and carried the poison directly into the 

On the 17th I had hoped to make an early start, but only man- 
aged to get off towards 9 a.m. I had been able to recruit four 
men, for I had very energetically impressed on the Dyaks that it 
was their bounden duty to accompany Europeans who were travel- 
ling through their country ; a thing which I beheve the missionaries 
have never thought of teaching them. For some time we marched 
up the Subumban torrent, walking in its bed, and then crossed 
over some hills about 1,600 feet high, following a fairly good path 
which traversed an old forest, where, judging from the abundance 
of their nests, orangs must have been common. Large blocks of 
granite were strewn about the forest. 

As we descended the hQI I came across a kuht-lawan tree 
(Cinnamomun Kuliilawan), a species then new to me, which is akin 
to the true cinnamon, and also produces an aromatic bark which 
is highly esteemed. The leeches were more than usually abundant 
and troublesome, and I could not protect my feet from their attacks. 
My men chewed tobacco and squirted the juice over them, when 
they fell off. If they are violently detached the bite gets inflamed, 
and may then easily become a tiresome and even dangerous sore — 
as I can amply testify from personal experience during the first 
period of my sojourn in Borneo. 

We next crossed a small plain, with an isolated Dyak house in 
the middle of it, built on the Seppas torrent, which empties itself 
into the Sumundjang river farther on. We had thus crossed the 
water-divide ; but instead of following the course of the torrent, 
which is a very tortuous one, we climbed over another sandstone 
hill, and found ourselves again in the Sumundjang valley. We then 
crossed a marshy tract, and after seven hours of rapid and con- 
tinuous marching, fatiguing even to the Dyaks, we reached the 
Ramin pangkalan. 

We put up in a house belonging to the Sabuyo Dyaks, who 

y Google 


were as much surprised to see us as if we had fallen from the clouds. 
They appeared to be people of very stay-at-home habits, and to 
know next to nothing of the country beyond their own district, 
at all events landwards, for at sea these Dyaks were once famous- 
tor their piratical cruises. Ladja and his companion were never 
tired of narrating the story of our wanderings over and over again, 
with the minutest particialars. In all the houses where we had 
stopped for the night in the latter part of our journey, the Dyaks 
used to assemble and squat down in a circle around me, staring in 
silence at me and watching every movement I made, whether I was 
dressing, washing, or taking my meals. Then came afioodof ques- 
tions— some of them most absurd — concerning Europe, our ships, 
railroads, etc. Then Ladja and his companion would sing, extem- 
porising in Dyak verse our wonderful adventures during the 
journey. They always began with a shiill and ear-piercing scream, 
which was kept up as long as their breath lasted ; then followed 
cadenzas, much after the fashion of our own peasants' songs. The 
Sabuyos appeared to enjoy this music exceedingly, which I cannot 
say I did. 

At 7 a.m. on the i8th we left for the pangkalan, or landing 
place, where we were to find boats to descend the Sumundjang as 
far as the village of that name. We crossed some marshy ground 
by one of the most awful of Dyak pathways — the very worst I had 
ever met, which is saying a great deal. On account of the rain the 
water in the marshes was higher than usual, the branches and tree 
trunks on which we had to walk were rotten, and to add to our dis- 
comfort the terrible Sderia — a kind of sedge which always covers 
these tracts of swampy land — covered my hands ana half-naked legs 
with scratches. There was no shade, and the heat was intense ; and, 
to crown all, the fierce red ants abounded. As we could not avoid 
disturbing their nests in passing, they revenged themselves by 
swarming all over us, and inflicting particularly painful bites. 

On our way we came to a pool on whose borders grew quite a 
number of the same wild orange-trees which I had found at Sibu, 
The conspicuous feature of the marsh vegetation in these localities 
is a species of Pandanus, which appeared to me identical with that 
which I had met with on the Umpanang. 

When we reached the landing place we all got into the boat, 
but it was a very small one and could hardly carry us. We were 
therefore obliged to move with the greatest caution, so as not to 
capsize. The water was black and with hardly any current, the 
river here spreading over the forest in all directions, and looking as 
if it had no proper bed of its own. We saw again a lot of Mayas' 
nests, and at last caught sight of one of these creatures not more 
than thirty yards off. I fired two shots at him, and apparently hit 
him badly ; but I was obliged to leave him, for he fell in the midst of 

y Google 


a lot of pandani, whose young shoots he had been eating, and these 
formed a hedge so dense and prickly as to be practically impassable. 
I might have spared the poor brute's life, and should have done 
so had I stopped to think ; for even had I got him our boat was too 
overloaded already, and we could not possibly have added any 
further weight to it, unless we desired to serve as a repast to the 
numerous crocodiles, whose snouts we saw sticking up above the 
water in all directions. At 3 p.m. we reached Sumundjang. 

From Sumundjang to Samarahan a Dyak path, consisting of 
the trunks of trees placed end to end, had been made a few years 
before across the forest, principally, I believe, for the use of the 
workers in a coal mine in the neighbourhood, which was later aban- 
doned. Reduced as I now was to the shortest of commons, and 
obliged to get to Kuching as quickly as I could, I thought it best to 
take this path as being the shortest, although we were warned that 
it was almost impassable on account of the rotten batangs, and the 
creepers and shrubs with which it was overgrown. It was, however, 
a sort of furrow in the vast mass of the primeval jungle which might 
serve us as a guide; and certainly without its aid I should not have 
ventured to penetrate such forest as lay before us, having heard only 
too often of people who had done so, in search of gutta or rotang, and 
had never been seen Eigain. This kind of half-submerged forest, 
where the subarboreal vegetation is very dense and intertwined, 
offers almost insuperable obstacles to the traveller, and a mile of 
road such as this entaQs more fatigue and more time than ten miles 
under ordinary conditions. But trusting in the path in question, 
which in seven or eight hours of travel should bring us to Samarahan, 
I started early with my four men, none of whom had been that way 
before, without taking anything more than a little cooked rice in 
the way of food. 

Very soon the going became really atrocious ; the forest was 
flooded everywhere, and we followed along the edge of the old path 
as best we could. On it we could not go, for densely matted vegeta- 
tion of new growth had completely blocked it up. When we were 
obliged to diverge from it, we carefully marked the direction with 
the compass, cutting our way with the parang through masses of 
Pandanus and Mapania. Both these plants abounded, and were 
most troublesome on account of the thorns with which their long 
leaves are provided. To add to our difficulties rain feU incessantly 
throughout the day. 

Meanwhile, it was getting dark, and we saw no possibility of 
reaching Samarahan that evening. We had had to go along slowly 
during the latter part of our journey, for one of my men had wounded 
his foot, and it soon became evident that we must camp in the 
forest. We therefore constructed one of the usual hasty shelters 
or lanko, lifted from the ground, taking advantage of a small space 

y Google 

IN BORNEAN FORESTS [chap. xxii. 

amongst the roots of some trees, the only spot sufficiently dry on 
which to light a fire and dry our clothes. Here we had a meagre 
supper on the small quantity of cooked rice we had brought along, 
whose sole condiment was a little salt. Even when we came to light 
the fire we found it no easy matter. There was nodry wood, andso 
soaked was everj^hing with the rain that my men vainly tried to get 
a blaze with their strike-a-lights and tinder. I managed to succeed, 
however, with the wadding of my gun, which I fired for the purpose. 

I need not dwell upon the tedious length of that night. With a 
half-empty stomach and the cramped position in which I was forced 
to lie, I never slept a wink. It rained incessantly all through the 
night, and as we had not been able to cover our lanko sufficiently, 
for it was dark when we finished setting it up, the water poured in 
on us in streams. 

At last daylight came, but no sun with it ; on the contrary, a 
minute penetrating rain continued to fall. I could not find my 
compass. Apparently I must have dropped it the preceding even- 
ing whilst collecting branches for the lanko. As there was no sun 
we could not get our direction. We were, in fact, for the time being 
completely lost, for all trace of the old path had become obliterated, 
and we wandered about for a long time, vainly trying to find it. At 
length, by carefully watching the water that covered the ground, 
we were delighted to find it slowly flowing in a definite direction. 
This meant a stream somewhere, and following up the hint given us 
we at length came to a place where the natives had been working at a 
tree to make a canoe. Here we found a little path, which brought 
us at last, after wandering for several hours in the forest, to a stream. 
No houses were in sight ; the river banks had been cleared of forest, 
and were covered by tall coarse grass, through which we made our 
way with difficulty. The rising tide, however, carried past us a 
large nipa crown, big enough to carry one or two persons. Bakar 
and one of the Dyaks immediately jumped into the water, got on 
it, and having made a couple of extempore paddles, set off down 
the stream. They soon found a small boat, returned with it to 
fetch us, and towards noon we reached the village of Samarahan, 
where we found fowls and rice in abundance to make up for our 
enforced abstinence. I also took some rest, of which I was in great 
need, whilst we waited for the ebb tide to continue our journey. I 
had no difficulty here in finding a boat and the requisite men, and 
we got to Kuching at eleven o'clock that night. The journey from 
Bintulu to Kuching across the State of Sarawak, in its then greatest 
length, had lasted from the fifteenth of September to the twentieth 
of November. I had taken nine days from Bintulu to the Bellaga ; 
eight days descending the Rejang, stoppages included; twelve 
days in going from Sibu to Simanggan ; and six from Banting to 
Kuching, not losing much time on the way. 

y Google 


Seasonal Abnormalities and their effects on Vegetation — An able 
Trapper — I Become Invalided — -Excursion to the Auriferous 
Districts op Sarawak — At Grogo — ^Freshwaier Pearl Oysters^ — 
Gold in Caves — The Paku Cave — The End of My Projects — I 
Return to Italy. 

AT Kuching it rained nearly incessantly for a whole month 
(from the 20th November to the 20th December), but 
from the latter date to the 30th December the sky was clear. 
This abrupt passage from an excessively wet to a dry season soon 
showed its efiects on the vegetation. Thus, opposite my house, a 
mango tree renewed all its foliage and got covered with flowers in 
twelve days, and many other trees as quickly underwent a similar 
change. Such abnormalities in the prevailing course of the mon- 
soons are not rare in Sarawak. 

About this time — unfortunately too late, because the day was 
approaching on which I had resolved to leave Sarawak — a most 
capable trapper came to offer me his services, bringing several 
interesting species of small mammals which I had been unable to 
get previously. The manner in which he captured them was simple 
and efficacious. He enclosed a portion of the forest with a small 
stockade, leaving narrow openings at intervals, at which he placed 
his nooses and traps. 

New Year's Day of 1868 found me at Kuching, assisting for the 
third time in the festivities of the season, but in very different spirits 
from those I had enjoyed on the preceding occasions. My health, 
which up to the last few months had been excellent, had now com- 
pletely broken down ; no doubt in consequence of the fatigue and 
exposure, not to mention the privations, which I had gone through, 
especially during my last journey. Fever attacks were now fre- 
quent and violent, and elephantiasis, which had shown itself some 
months before, was evidently increasing rapidly. My strength and 
energy were ebbing, and I now felt that the time to leave the country 
and return to Italy had come, and, indeed, was an absolute necessity. 
More than once the desire for home had come upon me, hut 
never so strongly as then. Yet before leaving the field of my re- 
searches I felt that I must pay another visit to the auriferous and 
antimony districts of the Upper Sarawak river, to collect samples 

y Google 


of the minerals and ores. Accordingly, when I felt a little better, 
I started for Busso, going along the same route I had followed on 
a previous occasion, and thence proceeding to Grogo, 

The geological formation of the Grogo mountain had a special 
interest for me, and I was able to ascertain that it is of a crystalline 
and eruptive nature, like that of the Pinindjao and Singhi moun- 
tains. So, at least, say the notes I made on the spot in my journal.^ 
I collected specimens of the rocks in order to have them more care- 
fully examined on my return to Europe by some competent special- 
ist, but, unfortunately, they were lost, together with most of the 
other rocks and minerals I had collected in Borneo. 

Singhi, Pinindjao, Grogo, and, I believe, Sunta, which, however, 
I did not visit, are the only examples of crystalline and eruptive 
geological formations found in the vicinity of the antimony mines. 

At Grago amongst the more remarkable plants which I met I 
may mention a Costus, with a fine orange-yellow flower, borne on a 
short radical stem. On the cliffs, in the most inaccessible places, 
I observed a lot of honeycombs, which I think belonged to the same 
species of bee which usually resorts to the tapangs. The Grogo 
Dyaks brought me several specimens of a bivalve {Alasmo- 
donta Vondemhuschiana) which lives in the streamlets near their 
village, and which not infrequently contains small pearls. From 
Grogo I went through Busso to Paku, to examine the alluvial forma- 
tions from which the Chinese extract gold ; and from them I bought 
samples of the auriferous sand. Gold is also found on the bottom 
of caves, in isolated particles, or adhering to the sides and jammed 
into the fissures of the limestone rock. I was able to get some good 
samples of this peculiar auriferous formation. 

It has been thought difficult to account for the presence of gold 
in caves, and in the neighbouring limestone rocks, but to me the 
explanation appears an easy one. I have previously remarked how, 
in the Busso district and in that of Bau (where gold and antimony 
are found), isolated peaks rise up from the plain, formed of cavernous 
hmestone, which I believe to be of madreporic origin, and thus of 
slow submarine formation. Moreover, the vicinity of mountains 
formed of eruptive rocks (hke those mentioned above) in the same 
districts with the hmestone hillocks, would point to volcanic action 
having taken place in the same sea that witnessed the madreporic 
origin of these limestone hills. Under such circumstances the dis- 
engagement of siAlphurous gases was probable, and how these may 
have formed chemical combinations vnth the antimony, the arsenic, 
and the mercury which occur in the same area is easily imagined. 
The sulphurets thus formed would crystallize in the fissures and 

"■ The compact soil, of a clayey aspect, often perfectly white and similar 
to kaolin, which forms the hills of Kuching, appears to me to be the product 
of the decomposition of the rock of which these three mountains are formed. 

y Google 


other hollows of the eruptive rocks, and also through eruptive action 
be eventually injected, as it were, into the hollows oi the limestone 
formations. If all this be admitted, and the presence in the neigh- 
bourhood of the caves of cinnabar, i.e. sulphide of mercury, be 
taken into account,' it is easy to understand how gold may be found 
in caves. My explanation is the following : — The heat due to vol- 
canic action reduced the cinnabar, freeing metallic mercury. This, in 
contact with particles of gold, would at once amalgamate with them, 
carrying them off to where its fluid condition and weight allowed it 
to rest, namely in the fissures of caves. Any further evolution 
of heat would volatilise the mercury and leave the gold as it is found, 
i.e. in more or less dendritic masses of varying but always small 
dimensions, adhering to the limestone rock on the sides or in the 
hollows of caves. Or, again, the action of carbonic water dissolving 
portions of the limestone rocks may have further contributed to- 
wards fixing the particles of liberated gold in their mass. Amongst 
the specimens I collected, which were afterwards lost, was a line 
and most interesting one, showing native gold in the fragment 
of the limestone rock. 

The cave of Paku, which I went to see, was very diihcult to get 
at. In addition to gold, edible nests of Collocalia nidifka were to 
be got there. The wooden props and steps by which access to the 
cave was rendered possible, were, however, in a rotten condition 
and quite useless, so I had to give up my attempt to explore its 
recesses. I was told that some time before a large quantity of 
human bones, especially skulls, had been found in this cave, and 
that they had been broken up by the Dyaks. In another cave, 
too, not far from that of Paku, bones had been found, but very 
friable, and reduced to semi-fossilised fragments. The hme- 
stone of these caves is sometimes white, sometimes dark in colour, 
crossed with veins of flint or chert, and often containing fossils, 
which are conspicuously visible. 

This was my last excursion in Borneo. Before returning to 
Europe I had intended paying a visit to Java, starting from Ponti- 
anak, whither I had decided to go overland from Kuching. Every- 
thing was ready for my departure on the 20th January, 1868, 
when a violent attack of fever completely prostrated me. Mean- 
while the mail steamer arrived, and as I had lost all hope of regaining 
snfiicient strength to undertake a fatiguing journey overland, I 
decided to give it up, and took my passage on the steamer to Singa- 
pore, the first step on my journey homeward bound. 

1 A cinnabar mine in that district was worlced with profit by the Borneo 

y Google 


Sarawak tem years Later— The " Astana," Residence of the Rajah — 
A Glance at the History of Sarawak — Rajah Sir James Brooke 
- — The Chinese Rebellion— The Present Rajah — Extent and Boun- 
daries OF the Kingdom of Sarawak — Our Present Geographicai. 
Knowledge of the Interior of Borneo — Wild Tribes — Absence 
OF Negritos in Borneo— Cannibalism and Human Sacrifices- 
Population of Sarawak^ — Intercourse of the Chinese with the 
Island— Arc HsoLOGicAL Discoveries in Sarawak — Stone Adzes — 
Archaic Writing — Products of Borneo — Agriculture— Preserva- 
tion OF THE Forests — Earthquakes and Volcanic Phenomena^ 
Mineral Wealth of Borneo — Kuching — ^Political Divisions of 
Sarawak— Commerce — Revenue and Customs^Form of Govern- 
ment — Religions and Missions — Conclusions. 

WHAT I have written in the pre'vious chapters refers to many 
years back, and Borneo has in the interval made marked 
progress towards a more civilised condition, while its political and 
commercial importance have enormously increased since my first 
visit. I have therefore thought it best to give in this last chapter 
a short summary of the present conditions of Sarawak. Some of 
the changes which have taJien place since I left the country in 1868 
I have been able to witness myself, but for more recent events 
I have chiefly had recourse to the Sarawak Gazelle, the official 
publication, which since 1870 hcis been uninterruptedly issued at 

At the end of 1877, after a hurried journey across Northern 
India and Burma, I happened to be at Singapore with my friend 
Captain Enrico A. D'Albertis, awaiting a steamer to convey us 
to Austraha, via Torres Straits. We had a few days to dispose of, 
and as the mail steamer for Sarawak was in the roads ready to start, 
I proposed to my friend that we should profit by the occasion and 
pay a visit to the dominions of Rajah Brooke. It was to me an 
unspeakable pleasure to be able to revisit Sarawak. Ten years had 
elapsed since I first landed at Kuching — ten years spent in almost 
constant travel in New Guinea, the Moluccas, Celebes, and Java, 
as well as in Abjrssinia. 

We reached Kuching on the last day of 1877. The next, the 
New Year, was welcomed with similar festivities to those in which 
I had taken part when I was last in the country, a period which 
I still look back to as the happiest of my life. 

y Google 


The regattas on the river were most successful, and the assembly 
of European and native notabihties at the Astana, or house of the 
Rajah, afforded me the pleasure of meeting several of my old 
friends. I was also delighted to find sundry old Malay acquaint- 
ances, and tbeir friendly greetings proved that ] had not beea 
forgotten and that they had preserved a kindly recollection of 
our former friendship. It is pleasant to record the general reciprocity 
of good feeling which is such a characteristic feature of the Sarawak 
commimity, cordially uniting Europeans and natives in bonds of 
mutual consideration and esteem. The barriers of race and rank 
are obliterated in this mutual and cordial good will. Together 
with representatives of the people, there was at the Astana a large 
sprinkling of the Malay aristocracy, which has always shown itself 
faithful to the enHghtened government of the Brookes, even at 
the most critical times. This aristocracy has conformed itself 
entirely to the new order of things and has cordially accepted the 
reigning dynasty as a natural and improved substitute for that 
which for two centuries previously had ruled over North Borneo. 

Usually on the fii'st day of the year the Rajah and Ranee receive 
personally the European and native notabilities, but this year 
they had thought proper to hold their levee at one of the distant 
stations of the State. They returned to Kuching next day however, 
and I went at once with D'Albertis to the Astana to present my 
respects to their Highnesses. It was with very great pleasure that 
I again shook hands with the Rajah, Sir Charles, and made the 
acquaintance of the Ranee, Lady Brooke. 

Old Government House exists no longer ; the new residence of 
the Rajah, the Astana, is built on the small hill covered with 
fruit-trees, where stood the bungalow in which Doria and I had 
stayed. On the Astana hiU the Rajahs of Bruui once Hved, 
and their tombs are stiU there. There, too. Sir James Brooke 
had his residence, until it was burnt to the ground by the Chinese 
during their memorable rebellion. 

1 feel that I should be failing in a bounden duty towards a 
truly great and noble man, who founded a civihsed kingdom in one 
of the most barbarous countries in the world, if in writing a boob 
on Sarawak, I omitted to give a sketch of the principal events of 
his remarkable career. 

Sir James Brooke, founder of the dynasty which for half a 
century has now ruled over Sarawak, was born at Coombe Grove, 
near Bath, on April 29th, 1803. When quite a youth he entered 
the army and went as a cadet to India, where he distinguished 
himself in the Burmese War and in Assam. Severely wotmded 
by a bullet which went through his lungs, he was invahded home 
to England. In consequence of the wreck of the vessel on which 
he was going out to India again, he exceeded his furlough, and 

y Google 


was thus unable to resume his service in the Indian army. ■ He took 
the opportunity to travel to China, and during the voyage saw 
sometliing of the islands of the Malay Archipelago, the beauty 
of which made such an impression upon him that he then and there 
determined to explore them. 

In October, 1838, he left England for the China seas in his 
yacht the Royalist, a schooner of 142 tons, with a crew of 20 picked 
men, whom he had fuUy tiiedduring a cruise in the Mediterranean. 
On arriving at Singapore he heard that at Sarawak there was a 
Rajah very friendly towards the English. This decided him to 
visit that place, and he anchored with his yacht off Kuching on 
August 15th, 1839. 

Muda Hassim, the Rajah at that time, received Brooke with 
great cordiality, partly, no doubt, because he well knew how 
advantageous his assistance would be in restoring order in his 
State, which wels then troubled by a revolt of some of the inland 
tribes. Brooke consented to assist him, and it was mainly owing 
to his aid that the Rajah was able to quell the rising and capture 
the rebel chiefs, whose hves were spared at the request of Brooke. 
But it appears that Muda Hassim was tired of ruhng his small 
State, and accordingly on September 24th, i84i,he made a regular 
<^ssion of it to Brooke, who thus became the legal Rajah of Sarawak, 
in which high position he was solemnly invested and confirmed 
by the Sultan of Bruni in the following year. 

During the first succeeding years, in conjunction with Captain, 
afterwards Admiral Keppel, commanding H.M.S. Dido, Brooke 
was busily engaged in the suppression of piracy, at that period 
the scourge of the coasts and rivers of North Borneo. A fatal 
blow was finally given to these hordes of pirates by the flotilla 
commanded by Sir Thomas Cochrane, and Brooke took a prominent 
and very active" part in all the operations. Meanwhile Omar Ali, 
the Sultan of Bruni, who had at first invoked the help of the British 
in the suppression of piracy, treacherously had Muda Hassim and 
several other prominent men put to death, as being too friendly 
to Europeans. When he heard, however, that the British fleet 
was on its way to Bruni to punish him, he lied into the interior, 
hoping to escape the consequences of his treachery. 

After Sir Thomas Cochrane had left, the suppression of piracy 
■was continued by Captain Mundy and Rajah Brooke, who had 
also been given the task of restoring order in Bruni by the Admiral. 
Brooke succeeded in getting from Omar Ah an abject letter craving 
forgiveness, and he was eventually allowed to return to his capital. 
But his prestige was hopelessly shaken, and went on declining 
until at his death, which took place on May 30th, 1885, he 
being more than 100 years old, his kingdom was reduced almost 
to vanishing point. 


y Google 

y Google 


Rajah Brooke had now acquired the power which comes from 
success, and his authority over the natives was complete. Sarawak 
awoke to new hfe, and was quietly develqping and improving 
its natural resources with that rapidity of progression which is the 
outcome of civilised and orderly government. The regenerated 
State was in this prosperous condition when, in 1857, the Chinese 
rebeUion suddenly broke out, menacing its very existence and 
nearly destrojnng the noble work done by Rajah Brooke. The 
causes of that revolt were in the main doubtless due to the ill- 
feehng aroused amongst the Chinese by the measures taken to 
repress opium smuggling. It was, however, a combination of 
■circumstances which led the chiefs of the Kunsi, the Chinese society, 
working at the gold mines on the Upper Sarawak, to believe that 
a coup d'etat would be an easy matter. 

It was on the night of February i8th, 1857, that the Chinese 
rebels, numbering about 600, descended the river, and arriving 
unexpectedly, proceeded to attack the residence of Rajah Brooke, 
which was situated on the same hiU as that on which the Astana 
now stands. The Rajah was in bed, and there was only a single 
European servant with him in the house. Suddenly awakened by 
the noise, he at once realised what had happened, and knowing 
that defence there was impossible, was fortunately able to leave 
the house before it was completely surrounded. Favoured by 
darkness, he reached the river unperceived, and being an excellent 
swimmer contrived, in spite of the width of the stream and the 
strength of its current, to gain the other bank in safety. Meanwhile, 
the Chinese, believing that the Rajah had perished, attacked and 
burnt the houses of the European residents, several of whom were 
killed or wounded. They also got possession of the small fort, 
which was defended by a single European and a few Malays, who 
all sold their hves bravely, but having been taken by surprise 
were soon overcome. 

The rebels were now masters of Kuching, and proceeded to set 
on fire the houses of the Malays, most of whom, having put their 
women and children in safety, were preparing to encounter the 
Chinese insurgents. The Rajah had rallied them and placed 
himself at their head, but he soon saw that for lack both of men 
and arms, he could offer no great resistance to the Chinese, much 
less defeat them. His chance of success was to get to Fort Lingga, 
where a sufficient force might be collected to vanquish the rebels. 
A fugitive, and with only a few faithful followers around him, the 
Rajah had reached the Maratabas mouth of the river, when the 
Borneo Company's steamer was sighted, entering from the sea, 
and at the same time the first Dyak reinforcements appeared 
coming from Fort Lingga and led by the Tuan Muda, Charles 
Brooke, the present Rajah. The latter, as soon as he had heard 

y Google 


what had taken place at Kuching, had started, taking with him 
all the lighting men he could collect at the moment, and leaving 
behind directions that all those who would join him were to foUow 
at once. 

The meeting at Maratabas was indeed a fortunate one. The 
steamer towed up the boats containing the Dyak warriors, and 
came unexpectedly before Kuching. The rebels were taken by 
surprise, and when the guns of the steamer opened fire on them 
with grape, they scattered and gave way, although they were 
supported by their fellow-countrymen settled in the town, numbering 
no less than 4,000. 

The Kuching Malays, encouraged by the unlooked-for help, 
at once resumed the offensive, obhging the Chinese to retreat 
towards their head-quarters on the Upper Sarawak. They were 
now closely pursued and attacked by a strong party of Sakarrang 
Dyaks, who had by this time joined those from Lingga and from 
the nearer villages. In the end most of the Chinese rebels perished, 
and only a small number succeeded in reaching the Dutch territoiy 
of Sambas.. 

Thus, by a happy chance, with the exception of material damages 
and losses, the Chinese revolt did nothing to lessen the prestige 
and authority of Rajah Brooke. Sarawak soon shook off the 
effects of that memorable episode which had come so near to destroy- 
ing the young State and the master-mind under whose rule it was 
developing in so wonderful a manner. The insurrection was in 
a certain way useful in showing the advantage arising from the 
ethnic and religious diversities of the population of Sarawak, 
which by maintaining an antagonism amongst the various com- 
munities renders a joint action against the ruling power practically 

As is always the case, there have not been wanting those who, 
short-sighted and narrow-minded, or worse still, moved by envy 
or stiU baser motives, have severely blamed the actions of Rajah 
Brooke's Government, and, unwilling to recognise the cjvihsing 
action resulting from the suppression of piracy, have stigmatised the 
latter as a barbarous waste of human hfe. But the evidence of facts 
soon silenced these calumnies, and the name of Brooke will always 
have an honoured place in the history of the development of 
civilisation in the Far East. 

Sarawak, before Brooke came, was in a state of complete anarchy, 
and laid waste by continual wars. Malay fought against Malay, 
and one tribe of Dyaks against the other ; whilst from without 
piratical expeditions scoured its coasts with fire and sword, now 
siding with the Malays, now with the Dyaks. And if at the present 
day strife," pillage, and murder have ceased, and peace reigns 
and trade i^ourishes, it is all due to the enterprise,^ wide .views, 

y Google 


and integrity of Brooke, whose iron wilt and perseverance 
have made the country what it is. Sir James Brooke was 
fortunate in living long enough to see his work so far advanced 
as to feel sure of complete success in the end. From 1863 iU-health 
obliged him to remain in England, and he placed the Government 
of his State in the hands of his nephew, Charles Brooke, the present 
Rajah, who became his successor in 1868, when death ended his 
adventurous and remarkable career. 

But if it is owing to Sir James Brooke that Sarawak is now 
a civilised State, his nephew, the present Rajah, has the high merit 
of having completed and extended that work, following out the 
humane and liberal views of his uncle. 

H.H. Sir Charles Brooke arrived at Kuching on July 21st, 1852, 
being then quite a youth, but having already attained the rank 
of Lieutenant in the British Navy. This he has himself told us in 
a book in which — far too modestly — he relates the story of his 
expeditions against the inland tribes who had rebelled against the 
check placed by the Rajah's Government on their piratical and 
head-hunting propensities.^ His brilliant operations against the 
Sakarrang and Batang-Lirpar Dyaks, as well as against the Kayans 
of the Rejang— ascending this river far beyond the farthest point 
then reached by any European — resulted not only in com- 
pletely subjecting and pacifying these wild savages, but in converting 
them into friends and faithful allies. And it is owing to the energy 
and wise administration of Sir Charles Brooke that the ancient 
custom of head-hunting is now all but extinct, and that the territory 
of Sarawak can be travelled over in every direction in perfect safety. 
Nor has this latter the modest dimensions it formerly had. Even 
at the time of my first visit to Sarawak, the dominions of the Rajah 
had been extended to Cape Kedurong, beyond Bintulu. Subsequent 
agreements with the Sultan of Bruni added, in June, 1882, the 
entire course of the Barram, and at the beginning of 1885, the 
Trusan. Finally, on filarch 27th, 1890, to put an end to a condition 
of things which threatened the tranquilhty of Sarawak, Sir Charles 
Brooke occupied and annexed the Limbang district. 

Thus the Sultanate of Bruni, which fifty years ago extended from 
Tanjong Datu over all North Borneo as far as the Sibuko river, 
the boundary with the Dutch possessions on the east coast, is now 
reduced to the city of Bruni and a small territory around it. What 
has not been ceded to or incorporated with Sarawak has become 
the property of the British North Borneo Company, which also 
took over the administration of Labuan in 1890. At present 
Bruni has no trade of its own, and the people live miserably on 
the produce of the fishery, while hundreds of families have left to 
escape the rapacity of the chiefs. The boiindary between British 
1 C. Brooke, Ten Years in SaraiLak. London, 1866. 

y Google 


North Borneo and Sarawak is in lat. 4° 57' N., long. 115° 13' E. ; 
for to the latter belongs the entire basin of the Trusan, which 
empties itself in Bruni Bay. 

Inland the boundaries of Sarawak are as yet rather vague, but 
geographically the demarcation is sinxple, Sarawak claiming all 
the territories between Tanjong Datu and the mouth of the Trusan 
which are traversed by rivers flowing into the China Sea. 

I believe that the area of Sarawak amounts approximately to 
some 70,000 square miles, which is greater than that usually 
assigned to it,^ for hitherto the calculation has been made on 
Dutch charts, and in these the watershed from which flow the 
rivers empt3^ng into the China Sea is placed much too near the 
coast. The rivers which debouch on the north and north-east 
coasts have thus short courses, whilst those which run into the 
Java and Celebes Seas are inordinately prolonged, causing a con- 
siderable augmentation of Dutch and a corresponding diminution 
of Sarawak territory. I therefore consider that the central chain, 
of which Batu Puti and Batu Tibang are the highest points, 
should be placed a degree farther to the east ; the water-parting 
thus coming almost in the middle of the island. 

In the maps which are given in Dr. Posewitz's excellent book,^ 
the results of the observations of recent travellers in North Borneo 
have been used, but even in these it appears to me that the area 
of Sarawak is less than it ought to be. Dr. Posewitz could not 
allow the Rejang river a course of less than several hundred miles, 
and he has thus been obhged to make it run a short distance from, 
and nearly parallel to the coast'. But I must add that the course 
of this river in Posewitz's map is traced according to the map 
published in the Proceedings of the R. Geographical Society of 
London (vol. iii.. No. 5, p. 256, 1881), to illustrate a paper of Mr. 
Crocker's, who writes {p. 193) that the information regarding the 
upper course of the Rejang was furnished by me. In fact, 
on my return from the exploration of that river, I left a sketch- 
tracing of its course at Kuching, which sketch is the one I used 
in compihng the map of my wanderings. 

I find, after carefuUy reading Posewitz's book, which is in most 
things extremely accurate as regards the present state of our 
knowledge of the geography of the interior of Borneo, that little 
indeed has been added thereto since the account of my travels 
in Borneo which I pubhshed in 1868 in the first volume of the 
BoUettino of the Itahan Geographical Society, and which naturally 
corresponds to what I have written in a more extended form in 

^ The total area of Borneo is given as 285,700 square miles ; being thtis 
more than twice and a half the area of Italy. 

2 Posewitz, Borneo : its Geology and Mineral Mesowrces (English translation). 
London, 1892. 


y Google 


Chapter XX of the present work. The few further detaib obtained 
amply confirm what I noted and observed more than thirty years 
ago, namely, that no very high mountains form the water-parting, 
where the rivers which flow in opposite directions through Borneo 
have their sources in the very heart of the great island. If moun- 
tains of any considerable height exist in that central region, they 
would have been undoubtedly recorded by recent explorers, for 
of late the watershed has been crossed with tolerable frequency.' 

The Kayans of the Baloi and of the Batang-Kayan frequently 
pass from one versant to the other, and between the natives of 
the rivers on each side reciprocal head-hunting is carried on.'' In 
1884 some Ukits of the Makam (Koti) came to settle on the Rejang.^ 
Rival feuds and hostilities have existed from time immemorial 
between the Peng Kayans of the Makam and the tribes of the Upper 
Rejang, also between the natives of the Barram and those of the 
Batang-Kayan. In 1885 a party of Peng Kayans and Ukits from the 
Makam caine to Kapit, one of the forts recently constructed on 
the Rejang.' Kinya Dyaks from the Koti also have reached 
Bintulu by way of the Tubao, carrying rhinoceros horns and 
bezoar stones for trade.' Finally in March, 1900,* a party of 
about 500 Kayans of the Batang Bulungan, belonging to the Leppu 
Jalang, Leppu Bams, Leppu Teppus and Uma Tukon tribes, 
arrived at the upper stations of the Rejang river. This party 
had travelled about five months, with frequent halts to build 
canoes, and to collect food and forest produce. The expedition 
was led by Pingang Sorang, who with other of the principal chiefs 
was invited by the Rajah to visit Kuching. They thus can boast of 
having crossed Borneo nearly in its greatest width, from the Celebes 
to the China Sea. The trade which was done by these people at 
Kapit and at Sibu was very considerable. They brought gutta- 
percha and indiarubber of excellent quality, valued at thousands 
of dollars, taking in exchange salt and various goods. Notwith- 
standing the great distance they had come, they asserted that as 
long as they were on good terms with the Hivan Dyaks they found 

' In the Geographical Journal, London, July, 1901, p. 87, is an account 
of Dr. Nieuwenhuis's journey to the Sarawak frontier. He ascended the 
Makam to the mouth of the Rata and reached the source region of that 
river, whenije a route leads to the Nyangeyan, a tributary of the Rejang. 
Batu Tihang was ^een directly to the eastward, and estimated at over 6,500 
feet, and the boundary of Sarawak — in other words the water-parting between 
the Makam and the Nyangeyan — consisted of a ridge from 2,300 to 5, zoo 
Jeet in height. 

2 'Mr. Low's Diary' in Sarawak Gazette, June, 1884, p. 51. 

3 Cf. Sarawak Gazette, November, 1884. 

* Cf. Sarawak Gazette, April and June, 1885, p. 56. 
^ Cf. Sarawak Gazette, March, 1885, p. 24. 

* Sarawak Gazette, March 1, igor. 


y Google 


the Rejang markets preferable to the more prosperous and more 
accessible markets of their own country, 

I do not believe that from Bellaga the distance in a straight 
line to the foot of the mountains which form the central water- 
parting of Borneo can be more than 60 miles, only time is required 
to reach that spot on acc^^unt of the rapids which have to be passed, 
and the strong current of the river. At the time I visited these 
parts the journey might have been easily performed in six or seven 
days, for no feud then existed between the tribes on the two slopes 
A state of war or feuds between the tribes are the only dilSculties 
now hkely to be experienced in crossing Borneo from the Rejang 
or Bintulu to the eastern sea. 

Mr. Hugh Brooke Low, whose lamented death occurred in 1887, 
has left a narrative of his journeys along the Rejang.^ It was 
mainly through him that the majority of the Kayans were peaceably 
induced to pay Government taxes. At present, with the exception 
of a few tribes near the head-waters of the Koti and Banjar, all 
the others have submitted to the Rajah of Sarawak, and very 
httle absolutely unknown country remains in that part of Borneo. 
Of all the great rivers of the northern part of the island, the least 
known is the Barram ; but even this river has been recently explored 
by Dr. Hose. 

Although we have still a good deal to learn concerning the 
physical conditions and natural productions of Borneo, I do 
not think it probable that any race or tribe of mankind is 
to be found there in a more primitive stage of existence 
differing greatly from those we are now acquainted with, 
as the assertions of some travellers might lead one to suppose. 
The most savage tribes of Borneo are the Buketans and the Punans, 
often called Ukits, and some other smaller tribes which are now 
disappearing. But even these do not seem to differ essentially 
from the Kayans, who are indeed more advanced than the others 
in civihsation and have corne more in contact with the tribes hvmg 
on the coast, especially with the Mellanaos, and perhaps in remoter 
times with the Chinese and the Annamites. With the Kayans 
must be grouped the Kadjamans, the Skapans, the Sians, and others. 

The Ukits or Punans and the Buketans are savages in the true 
sense of the word, but they are neither degraded nor inferior races 
in the series of mankind. Their primitive condition depends 
more than anything else on their nomadic or wandering hfe, and 
en the ease with which they live on the produce of the forests and 
on that of the chase, which the sumpitan procures them. This has 
no doubt contributed to keep them from associating with their 
fellow-beings and from settling in villages or erecting permanent 

' Cf. Sarawak Gazette, April i, 1885. Mr. H. B. Low was the son of 
Sir Hugji Low. 

y Google 


houses. I believe that these, although they must be considered 
as the remnants of an ancient Boniean people, are not descended 
from autochthonous savages, but are rather the present-day 
representatives of a race which has become savage. 

It is difficult to deny that Borneo has had older and perhaps 
more primitive human inhabitants. In most of the great islands 
in proximity to the Asiatic continent, and in some of the smaller 
ones also, from Ceylon to the Phihppines, as well as on the Malay 
Peninsula, there are found people \vith crisp or woolly hair who may 
be regarded as having more or less affinity with the Negrito race, 
which has pure representatives in the Andaman islanders, the 
Sakais and Samangs of Perak, and the Aetas of the Philippines. 
In Borneo I have no recollection of having seen anything of the 
kind, but I must confess that during my earlier journeys in the 
island I did not make special anthropological investigations, nor 
had I that experience and knowledge of crisp or woolly-haired 
peoples which I was to acquire in my later travels amongst the 
Papuan islands. However, in none of the narratives of journeys 
and explorations 'in Borneo subsequent to my own have I found 
any mention of traces, much less of the existence, of Negritos in 
that island. I am, nevertheless, much inclined to admit the 
hypothesis that Southern Asia and its islands were once inhabited 
by Negroid races. These would have been substituted in process 
of time by immigrants from the more central parts of Asia. The 
dark skin and crisp hair would in aU cases reveal a trace of the 
primitive Negroids. But it appears that in Borneo no such traces 
are to be found. 

A recent author has asserted that cannibalism exists in Borneo, 
and accuses the Punans of the Upper Koti and Rejang of that prac- 
tice. I never heard anything of the kind when I was in that part 
of the country, nor have I seen anything to confirm such an assertion 
in narratives or reports of recent explorations. It appears, however, 
that amongst the Kayans and Mellanaos human sacrifices were 
practised up to quite a recent period.' And it is not improbable, 
as I have already remarked, that in some of the more remote 
tribes of the interior such a practice still exists. It certainly exists 
in Sumatra,^ and about forty years ago was extensively practised 
by the Khonds of Central India, being only put an end to by the 
energy of Major Campbell. 

The motive of human sacrifices has always been one and the 
same in all times and in all countries — the offer to the Divinity 

I'W. Crocker (Proc. R. Geogr. Soc, April, i88r, p. 200) tells us that, on 
the death of a Mellanao chief, a slave was chained to the hollow wooden 
post containing his corpse, and left there to die of hunger, so that he should 
be ready to follow his master, and to serve him in the other world. 

2 E. MoDiGLiANi, Fra i Baiacchi indipendenti, p. 1S4. Rome. iSgz, 

y Google 


of what is best and most precious to man, and is considered there- 
fore most acceptable to the gods, with the idea of propitiating 
them, of obtaining new favours or the pardon of past offences ; 
and above all to avert pestilence and epidemics, always considered 
by primitive people as a visitation brought about by the anger 
of the Divinity. 

Much has been done to complete our knowledge of the hfe 
and manners of the natives of Borneo, and extensive ethnographical 
material has been collected by the Rajah of Sarawak in the museum 
at Kuching. But nowadays it is not sufficient to know that such 
and such an object belongs to tlie Kayans, to the Dyaks, or to 
whatever tribe it may be, because the natives along each river, 
I might say of each village, although belonging to the same " gens," 
have peculiarities of their own in the shape and ornamentation, 
etc., of weapons and implements of all kinds. An exact, 
methodical, and comparative examination of these is a crying 
need before the increasing facilities of communication and the 
influence of Western civilisation renders the task impossible. 

I have already given a brief notice of most of the various tribes 
and peoples of Sarawak ; but as to their origin and as to how they 
came to inhabit Borneo, little indeed has been added to our meagre 
knowledge of thirty years ago. Archaeological discoveries in Sarawak 
are also extremely restricted in their results. At Santubong a 
primitive rude statue representing a human figure lying prone 
with extended arms, has been found, but the epoch cannot be 
determined. From the same locality come two monumental 
stones, also of unknown origin and age, which are now in the 
Kuching Museum. They are carved with leaves in rehef. At 
Pankalan Ampat some antiquities have been discovered, amongst 
others a large gold Persian coin of the year 960 of our era, together 
with some gold jewels. 

The hypothesis that the Chinese knew and traded with Borneo 
at a very remote epoch has gone on gaining ground, supported by 
new facts which all tend to prove its truth. Dr. Posewitz {Op. cit., 
p. 312) mentions that in the year 977 A.D. a Bornean Prince, ruling 
a State lying between the Sambas and Landak rivers, sent an em- 
bassy to the Emperor of China. In 1888, at Santubong, at the 
entrance of the Sarawak river, fragments of gold jewellery, crockery 
ware, glass beads, stone crucibles and ancient Chinese coins, some 
of a period as far back as 600 B.C., were discovered.' The 
tajaii jars, so precious now to the Dyaks, and especially the 
varieties known as " Gusi," " Russa " and " Naga," and perhaps 
certain ceramics foimd amongst the Mellanaos, also come under 
the head of Chinese antiquities. 

Although the Chinese have no doubt influenced and modified 
1 Sarawak Gazelle, i388, p. 87; and 18S9, p. 23. 

y Google 


the ethnic type of many inland tribes, such as the Munits, Kayans, 
and others, yet it appears that there are no traces of their pecuhar 
monosyllabic language in the dialects of the above-mentioned tribes. 
Mr. Low, however, in his Journal, already quoted by me, notes 
that the songs of the Kayans, whose meaning he did not make out, 
had a singular resemblance to the inflections of the Chinese language. 
But however great and undeniable be the ethnic affinities between 
the less civihsed people of Borneo and those of Indo-China, it is 
not less obvious that the dicilects spoken by the former have nothing 
in common with those of the latter. The Indo-Chinese are all 
derived from the Chinese languages, the Bomean from the Malay. 

Remains of Buddhist or Brahman monuments or idols, have 
, not, as far as I am aware, been found in Sarawak, with the exception 
of those mentioned by Mr. St. John (Op. cit., i., p. 227) consisting 
of a Yone, and the mutilated body of an animal, which might 
have been a " Nandi " or sacred bull of the Hindoos, Dalton, 
quoted by Crawfurd,^ appears to have found ruins of temples 
similar to those of Java, on the Upper Koti, and, like these, showing 
highly finished workmanship, with the peculiar emblematic orna- 
mentation of Hindoo temples. At Negara near Banjarmasin and 
in the neighbourhood of Pontianak, remains of Hindoo antiquities 
are also found. This would prove that in Eastern and Southern 
Borneo a higher civilisation gained a footing in the past than is 
shown by documentary evidence to have existed in the other 
districts of the islands. 

After my residence in Borneo I visited several of the wild tribes 
of head-hunters in Celebes, and found there natives who in very 
many respects resembled the Dyaks and Kayans.^ This would 
seem to show that it was by the Koti river that communications 
were kept up in the past between Celebes and the interior of Borneo. 
But the Kayans, in spreading from the east towards the west 
and the north of Borneo, came in contact (perhaps not for the first 
time) with the Chinese and Mellanaos living along the coast. The 
Sea-Dyaks, on the other hand, have had more constant contact 
with tiie piratical tribes of the Sulu Sea and with the Malays. 

I think there can hardly be any doubt that Borneo was invaded 
by various civilised races coming from different countries at a very 
remote epoch, so remote as to explain the great rarity in Borneo 
of those implements which characterise that primitive stage of 
hitman culture known as the " Stone Age," and which are found in 

' A Descriptive Dictionary of the Indian Archipelago, p. 62. 

= On the origin of the name Kayan only conjectures can be made. An 
interesting statement is made by Fea {Op. cil., p. 446), that the name ot the 
Karins of Burma is also pronounced Kayn or Kayen, showing a singular 
analogy to Kayan, The manners and customs of the Karins are also very 
similar to those of the Land-Dyaks of Borneo. 


y Google 


most countries. It would thus appear that stone implements, 
if such were ever made and used in Borneo, ceased to be so perhaps 
long before this was the case in Europe. Whatever be the explana- 
tion, it is a fact that stone implements are excessively rare in Borneo, 
whilst they are not so in Java and in the Malay Peninsula. Perhaps 
the reason why they have not been found lies in the luxuriance ' 
of the vegetation, which covers most of the island and virtually 
prevents or renders exceedingly improbable any such finds. Not 
merely small stone implements, but even great temples might 
easily thus be hidden for ages to come in the depths of the jungle. 
Dr. Shelford, in his Report on the Sarawak Museum, dated 
February igoi, states that he bought from a Malay a stone axe 
found in the house of a Dyak on the Upper Sadong, where it is 
probable that others may be found ; and adds that similar imple- 
ments of various shapes and sizes have been discovered by Dr. 
Hose and Dr. Haddon amongst the tribes of the Barram district. 
The first stone axe discovered in Sarawak was found by Mr. A H, 
Everett in the gravel in the banks of the Sinyawan river. 

On the Malay Peninsula stone implements are rare, but a stone 
axe was found at Singapore, and has been described by Mr. Ridley. 
In Perak and Pahang they are called " batu linta," which means 
UteraUy " leech-stone," probably in allusion to their usual shape. 
Mr. St. John {Op. cit., p. 190), mentions stones or pebbles of 
a dark colour considered by the natives as sacred. Some such, 
found at Quop, were said to have been lost during the ci^dl wars. 
They are possibly palceolithic implements. 

Sarawak, up to the present, has derived its wealth more from , 
Nature's spontaneous products than from agriculture or human 
industries of any kind. Agriculture has hitherto been less successful 
than might have been expected in a country whose soil has a reputar 
tion for great fertihty. Sago has alone yielded good profits in 
the hands of Europeans, pepper and gambir to the Chinese. The 
sago palm is a plant whose cultivation, more than that of any other, 
is likely to give profitable results, and it can be extended to low 
swampy and flooded land which is otherwise unproductive. Hill- 
rice succeeds well in Sarawak, but the present system used in its 
cultivation keeps large areas of ground in a fallow condition for 
years, for rice cannot be sown again in the same field under an 
interval of six or seven years. The reduction to " sawas "—a 
series of irrigated terraces — might, however, be tried wherever 

ir Borneo agriculture is in a. very primitive stage The 
cultivation of rice is no doubt extensively practised, but it is under- 
taken, as I have shown, in the rudest manner. In Sarawak the 
plough is unknown, although it is used in North Borneo. As I 
have suggested, the Javanese " sawas " system of rice-cultivation 

y Google 


might be adopted with advantage, using the requisite imple- 
ments and employing buffaloes. But it would, I think, be vain 
to expect in Bomeo the grand agricultural results which are obtained 
in Java, where the soil is so different. In Borneo fertility is in 
very great measure due to the humus accumulated in the forests, 
and when this is used up, or carried away by rain or floods, the soil 
which is left could scarcely be productive unless it were properly 
worked and manured. It is therefore doubtful if it would suffice 
to support a large and dense population, living exclusively or 
mostly on the produce of the land, and in a very limited degree 
on the results of its own industry. On the other hand, in Java the 
continual decomposition of lavas and volcanic rocks under the 
constant influence of a hot and moist climate yields a soil of in- 
exhaustible fertihty, capable of supporting a very large population 
even if practising only primitive methods of agriculture. The 
true reason of the scanty population of Bomeo may probably 
be looked for in the above-mentioned facts. Had the mountains 
of Bomeo been volcanic, I think there can be little doubt that it 
would have been from the remotest times quite as populous as 
Java, for it lies in a position of easy access to civihsed peoples 
migrating from Continental Asia.' 

With the system of rice-cultivation now practised in Borneo, 
any extension would lead to a corresponding destruction of forests, 
and thus lessen those forest products which at present certainly 
form one of the main resources of the country. A glance at the 
most populous and fertile countries near Bomeo will show that 
these are the islands which form the volcanic chain around it, 
the denser population being in the districts where the volcanoes 
are situated. This is the case, not only in Java, but also in Sumatra, 
Celebes, the Philippines, and the Moluccas. Ceram, on the contrary, 
which stands with respect to the nearest volcanic islands in rela- 
tively the same position as Borneo does farther to the west, has a 
scanty population, and is almost entirely covered with forest. 

The reasons here adduced to explain the relative agricultural 
poverty of Borneo explain also the non-success of the various 
attempts which have been made to cultivate the sugar-cane, 
coffee, tobacco, indigo, and other tropical products.' I do not mean 
to say that these do not give any results in Bomeo, but that their 

It is doubtful whether this can be looked upon as the sole reason of the 
undoubtedly small population of Borneo. The natives doubtless use the land 
recklessly because vast areas of unworked soil lie at their very door, and the 
absence of the domestic animals is against manuring. But so prolific is 
nature in the untouched soil that the inhabitants of six crowded huts on the 
Kinabatangan have been known to draw their entire subsistence, day after 
day, from a little plot under two acres in extent (v. Stanford's Compendium, 
Australasia, vol. ii.. p. 242). — [Ed.], 


y Google 


cultivation does not pay, at all events not safficiently to compensate 
the expense of outlay and of European supervision and adminstra- 
tion. The natives, and better still the Chinese, for whom a minimum 
outlay of capital is sufficient, who are good field-labourers, and to 
whom their own manual labour is money, can obtain paying 
returns from various kinds of cultivation in Sarawak, foremost 
amongst which are pepper and gambir. 

Were it not dangerous for a small State with a Hmited military 
force, perhaps the best way of improving the agricultural output 
of Sarawak would be to encourage Chinese immigration as much as 
possible, for the Chinese do not suffer from the climate,' are good 
agriculturists, and can make the land pay where it would give little 
or no profit to the European capitahst. Borneo, like most tropical " 
countries, is a region where the European labourer cannot work 
his own land, thus prosperity deriving from agriculture can only 
be obtained by an adequate development of Asiatic labour. 

The efforts of H.H. Rajah Sir Charles Brooke to introduce 
new agricultural resources in Sarawak have been unceasing, and 
he has spared neither time nor money. Certainly it was neither 
owing to want of energy on his part nor of the active co-operation 
of the persons he employed, if success did not always crown his 
efforts. When I was first in Borneo attempts at rearing the silk- 
worm were made, and in this I helped to the best of my ability, 
having been familiar with the industry in Italy. I have still a 
skein of silk spun from cocoons produced in Sarawak in 1867, 
which in quahty is all that could be desired. But the want of weU- 
defined seasons, and especially the all-prevaihng dampness, rendered 
the results very uncertain, the silkworms being often and easily 
decimated by the various maladies to which they are liable. The 
mulberry-tree grows well, especially at Lundu, hence there would 
be no lack of the leaves for feeding the worms. 

Coffee-planting, as I have said in the beginning of my narrative, 
was first attempted whilst I was in Sarawak on the Mattang 
mountain, around my hut " Vallombrosa," and was a failure as 
regards the ordinary species, C . Arabica, which produced no berries. 
It was, however, the beginning of a sort of experimental plantation 
on a large scale, where, from what I hear, Liberian coffee, cinchona, 
and tea plants, thrive and produce well. No less than 650 acres 
are now cultivated with Liberian coffee, which, from the prosperous 
condition of the young plants, promises to be highly successful. 
Another extensive coffee plantation, also belonging to the Govern- 
ment, is now thriving at Satop. At " Vallombrosa " an elegant 
bungalow now occupies the old site of my hut in the midst of 
extensive plantations, and on the grounds which for centuries were 

1 This is not invariably the case. The Chinese working in the planta- 
tions of Borneo have always suffered considerably from beri-beri. — [Ed.] 

y Google 


covered by primeval forest, rose-bushes yielding a wealth of 
flowers now grow. Higher up, where the air is pure and the cHmate 
temperate, the Rajah has had a small house built, which is used 
as a sanatorium for the European residents in Sarawak. 

Other cultivations have been tried in Sai^awak with various 
and varsdng results, such as that of the oil-palm {Eleeis Guineensis), 
tapioca, kapok (Eriodendron anfractuosum), the nutmeg, cinnamon 
and cacao. Many others might be tried, for tropical plants grow 
splendidly as long as the forest humus can be supphed. 

1 do not know whether at the present period, when the cultiva- 
tion of what are generically termed colonial products has under- 
gone so great an extension in many parts of the world, it would pay 
to employ European capital on a large scale in Borneo on agri- 
cultural speculations. 1 am, however, fuUy persuaded that the 
Government of Sarawak wiU reap manifold advantages and largely 
benefit the population by promoting and encouraging amongst the 
natives the cultivation of those plants which experience has shown 
to be profitable. 

In order to attain this result in Sarawak, the establishment of small 
agricultural stations in different locahties, where culture experiments 
of various kinds could be undertaken on a small scale, would be very 
useful. Without being in the ordinary sense of the term botanical 
gardens, they would be quite as advantageous. Another suggestion 
I should like to see adopted is that a considerable extent of primeval 
forest be preserved in proximity to the capital, in its natural con- 
dition, somewhat on the lines of the National Parks in the United 
States. For this purpose the tract of country between Kucliing 
and Gunong Mattang might be chosen, where if the forest were 
cleared the soil would in all probability after a short time become 
unproductive and get overgrown with lalang grass. It should be 
remembered that if the destruction of the forest diminishes the 
frequency and the abundance of rain, it would nevertheless cause 
a notable increase of temperature around the capital. Such portions 
of the forest as offer favourable conditions might be utilised for 
the cultivation of forest products, such as the different species of 
Sapotaceas and Apocynaceje, which produce gutta percha, india- 
rubber and solid oils ; certain choice kinds of rotang, as " rotang 
sega," " rotang jemang " (dragon's blood), " rotang semambu " 
(Malacca cane), etc., etc., which are now getting very scarce in the 

There are good reasons to suppose that the existence of gold 
and diamonds in Borneo was known in remote times, both in India 
and in China. This fame of former days has helped considerably 
to maintain even to the present time an erroneous and highly 
exaggerated idea regarding the mineral wealth of the country. 
Gold in the dominions of Rajah Brooke is only found on the 

y Google 


Upper Sarawak river towards the head-waters of the Sadong 
and on the Batang-Lupar at Marop, though some time ago its 
existence in smaE quantities was also demonstrated on the Binatang 
river, one of the affluents of the Rejang. Up to quite recently 
only Chinamen worked on the Sarawak goldftelds, the yield not 
being sufficient to attract European enterprise. Lately, however, 
the Borneo Company has undertaken the extraction of gold on a 
large scale with the cyanide process, extensive machinery, electric 
lights, and a numerous staff of European employes, on the Upper 
Sarawak river. It is not possible, however, to give the precise 
amount of the gold anmmlly won, on account of the facility with 
which any supervision of the results of native work can be eluded, 
whilst the gold collected by the Borneo Company does not figure 
in the official reports, as the company pays a fixed sum for its 
mining rights to the Sarawak Government. 

Diamond seeking under European direction on the Sarawak 
river has always given poor results, and it has consequently remained 
entirely in the hands of the Chinese and Malays. It is certain, 
however, that many of the stones found in Sarawak are smuggled 
out of the country without any one being the wiser. Rubies have 
recently been discovered in the Barram district, but I know of no 
other precious stones having been found in Sarawak. 

The famous antimony mine which existed on the Upper Sarawak 
river, and was at one time one of the riches of the country, 
is now exhausted. Antimony ore is still found in the Sadong 
district at Siring, on the Batang-Lupar near Marop, and on the 
Pelagus, Kanowit, and Silalang, affluents of the Rejang. At 
present the metal is extracted only by independent miners on a 
small scale, but it still yields a profit to Government of over $20,000 
per annum. 

A vein of cinnabar had been discovered on the Upper Sarawak 
river when I was in Borneo, and was worked with profit by the 
Borneo Company, but it is now exhausted. Other deposits of 
mercury ore have been subsequently found in the Samarahan 
and Sadong districts, on the Batang-I-upar at Kumpang and Marop, 
and in larger quantities at Tegora and Gading in the so-caUed 
Sarawak district, but it appears that they have been nearly worked 
out, for the exportation of mercury from Sarawak is now very 

The iron ore found in the Kayan country, which I have spoken 
of in a previous chapter, has not been worked except by the natives 
themselves for their own use. Traces of copper, in the shape of 
azurite and malachite, have been met with in the antimony veins 
of the Upper Sarawak. In the same localities lead ore has also 
been found, but in very small quantities. 

Contrary to what has happened with other mineral products, 

y Google 


'the output of coal has become increasingly important. Coal abounds 
in several localities in North Borneo, but at present only two mines 
are worked in Sarawak, both by Government. One of these is 
on the Sadong river ; its daily produce was calculated at loo tons 
reduced in igoo to only 65 tons. The other is at Brooketon on 
the Limbang river, in a district rented from the Sultan of Bruni. 
It yielded 50 tons daily at one time, but for the last two years 
it has been worked at a loss, producing 10,774 tons in 1899, and only 
7,058 tons in 1900. Most of the Sadong coal is exported to Singa- 
pore; whilst that of Brooketon goes to Labuan. Mineral oil has 
also been found in some places in Sarawak, but it is only lately that 
attempts have been made to obtain it. 

Kuching, which when I was first there consisted merely of the 
Malay kampongs on the banks of the river, a Chinese bazaar, and 
a few bungalows for Europeans, has now developed into a fine city 
with broad, well-kept streets, elegant viUas, and public edifices. 
Amongst the latter are the new museum, the Protestant and 
Cathohc churches, the mosque and several Chinese temples or 
joss-houses, besides the Government buildings, tlie Court of Justice, 
the prison, markets, hospital, dispensary, etc., etc. T do not 
know whether at present Kuching is the most populous town in 
Borneo,^ but it is certainly the first city in Borneo so far as civilisa- 
tion is concerned. The climate, considering its proximity to the 
equator, is exceptionally mild and healthy, and above all uniform. 
Rarely dOes the thermometer rise above 85° Fahr., and it never 
descends below 67". Intermittent and remittent fevers are not 
wanting, it is true, and diarrbcea and dysentery are frequent, 
but with simple hygienic precautions Europeans can hve there 
for a long time in good health. There are, however, in Sarawak 
districts where malaria is far more frequent than in and around 
Kuching, but usually it does not assume a malignant form. Other 
diseases are not of frequent occurrence. 

In Borneo stonns are common, with strong electric discharges, 
particularly at the time of the change of the monsoons, but I have 
never seen them accompanied by hail. 

The island is entirely beyond the range of typhoons, and also 
beyond the influence of the plutonic forces which affect the adjacent 
regions. Even earthquakes are rare and not severe. The only 
signs of volcanic activity are thermal springs. In Borneo only one 
small extinct volcano, the Melabu, of the nature of which there 
can be no doubt, is known. It is in the Montrado district, in the 
extreme west of the island, and according to a Dutch engineer, M. van 
Schelle, who discovered it, is only about 230 feet high (Posewitz, 
Borneo, p. 246). It has also been asserted that Kina Balu, the great 

1 The population is now about 12,000. '" 


y Google 

xxiv] ■ COMMERCE 

mountain of North Borneo, formed of crj'stalline rocks, has a large 
central crater {Scotlish Geogr. Magazine, December, 1887), but 
1 think that before admitting the volcanic nature of the mountain, 
further information is required. Fragments of lava are also said 
to have been found on one of the small islands to the north of 
Borneo .1 

Regai'ding the population of Sarawak we possess only very 
uncertain data. Mr. Crocker, in his paper, which I have already 
quoted, assigns 240,000 inhabitants to the old territory of Sarawak, 
which extended from Tanjong Datu to Tanjong Kedurong, a little 
above the mouth of the Bintulu river. In a recent report of Mr. 
Keyser, British Consul in Sarawak, to the Foreign OiHce, a popula- 
tion of 500,000 is assigned to the dominions of Rajah Brooke within 
their present limits, but this appears to me too high a figure. It 
must be remembered that in Sarawak, and, indeed, throughout 
the whole of Borneo, human habitations and villages are only 
found near rivers, so that all the remaining area may, so far as 
man is concerned, be considered a desert. Allowing to Sarawak 
two inhabitants for each square kilometre, we have a population 
of 360,000, which is, I believe not far from the truth. 

According to my calculations, this population may be approxi- 
mately divided as follows : — 

Malay.s ......... 


Land-Dyaks ...... 


KayatLS . , 

Mellanaos ........ 

Other Tribes (Native) 



A Steamer, winch at present flies the German flag, keeps up 
regular weekly communication between Kuching and Singapore. 
The Rajah possesses a flotilla of seven or eight small steamers which 
run between the coast stations, and which constitute at the same 
time a naval force. 

Several Europeans are in the Rajah's service, divided between 
the pubHc departments and the central administration at Kuching, 
whilst others, bearing the title of " Residents," represent the 
authority of the Rajah in the ten provinces into which Sarawak 
is divided, being invested with full civil and military power. The 
provinces correspond more or less to the basins of the principal 

^ Quite recently Dr. Nieuwenhuis appears to have found that the central 
range of Borneo is of volcanic nature (Tijdsch. v. het K. Nederl. Aardv. 
Genootsch. No. 3, igoi); but this assertion requires to be confirmed. It 
would be truly strange in Malaysia to find so important a volcanic chain so 
far from the sea. 


y Google 


rivers ; they are, beginning from the west : i, Lundu ; 2, Sarawak ; 
3, Sadong ; 4, Batang-Lupar ; 5, Oya ; 6, Muka ; 7, Bintulii ; 
8, Barram ; 9, Limbang ; 10, Trusan. 

The principal forest products of Sarawak are guttapercha, 
indiarubber and rotangs, of which guttapercha is the most im- 
portant export, being in great demand and fetching high prices. 
The larger portion of that which arrives at Kuching to be exported 
to Singapore now comes from the Rejang. The Government 
makes a large profit from this valuable product, for the export due 
amounts to $16 per pikul, but is only Sto per pikul on india- 

The export of rotangs from Sarawak has lately shown a decrease 
when compared to what it was a few years back, which may be 
explained by the high prices obtained by guttapercha and india- 
rubber, which give larger profits, and are thus more sought after. 
The exportation of timber has recently attained large proportions 
on the lower Rejang, where ships from Hongkong now constantly 
call, the supply appearing to be inexhaustible. In the lower 
districts of Sarawak (Sadong and Sarawak) a small duty on the 
export of timber has been recently established, with a view to 
diminish the felling of forest trees. Elsewhere the export is free, 
with some restrictions on that of bihan wood, on account of its 

Amongst the forest produce of a certain value must be included 
the edible nests of the CoUocalia, or " bird's-nest swallow," from 
which the Sarawak budget obtains an annual income of about 
$3,000, the lease of caves which belong to the State ; but most 
of the nest-yielding caves are the private property of natives. 

The principal agricultural products exported from Sarawak 
are pepper, sago, and gambir. Pepper at present, owing to the 
great demand on the Singapore market, is one of the most importajit 
agricultural products m the country ; its plantations, cultivated by 
chinamen, have attained a large development and are on the 
increase. Sago is always the main product of the soil in Sarawak, 
and in igoo 336,173 pikuls were exported. The cultivation of 
gambir, which was at one time quite extensive in the neighbour- 
hood of Kuching, appears to have given place largely to that of 
the pepper-vine, which pays better. Rice has not yet been grown 
in sufficient quantities for the local demand ; but as a 
result of the great encouragement now given to Chinese immigration 
on the Rejang river it is hoped that the produce of that staple 
food-supply of the entire native population of Borneo will increase, 
and eventuaDy contribute also to the export trade. 

The internal trade is entirely in the hands of the Chinese, who 

1 A pikul is equal to I33jlb. English. 

y Google 

y Google 


import for that purpose brass-wire, gongs, earthenware, and common 
sorts of cotton cloth. 

The main sources of revenue are the farming of opium, gaming- 
houses, sale of spirits, and pawn-shops ; which together j^ielded 
$282,535 during the financial year igoo. 

Direct taxation in Sarawak is very slight. There is a family 
tax for Dyaks and Kayans, which was estimated for 1901 at S3g,ooo, 
In Kuching there is a house-tax of 5 per cent, on the rent, when 
it is over $20 per annum. Revenue is also derived from the 
sale of licences, registration, plantation concessions and many other 
minor sources. 

The Government of Sarawak is absolute, in the hands of H.H. 
Sir Charles Brooke, aided by a Council of six members, viz. two 
high European officials, and four Malays, elected by the native 
notabilities. Besides this Supreme Council, there is a General 
Council of fifty members, contributed by the principal Europeans 
and native representatives from the various districts. The General 
Council meets rarely, being only convoked on very special occasions. 
Justice is administered on the basis of English law, somewhat 
modified to adapt itself to native and Mohainmcdan traditions. 

The»military forces of the Rajah consist of a body of 300 men, 
the " Sarawak Rangers," principally composed of Dyaks, and of 
about 100 constabulary. However, internal security is mostly 
based in Sarawak on the diversity of races forming the population, 
and on the possibility of profiting, should occasion require it, 
by the belhcose instincts of the large masses of Dyaks. 

Sarawak is a free and independent State in the true sense of the 
words, although a portion of its territory has passed under the 
dominion of the Brookes by a pecuniary agreement with the Sultan 
of Bruni. The independence of Sarawak and the legitimacy of 
the sovereignty of H.H. Sir Charles Brooke and his descendants 
has been sanctioned and guaranteed against the danger of any 
possible foreign interference, by a Convention concluded with the 
British Government in 1888, in which Great Britain accepted and 
assumed the suzerainty without the right of interfering in the 
internal administration of the State, the Rajah of Sarawak binding 
himself to consult the British Government in case of any difficulty 
arising between his State and a Foreign Power. 

The Rajah considers himself the father of his people, who have 
all his thought and care, and he does his utmost to lead his subjects 
along the road of progress and civilisation, though without sudden 
or violent changes, to which he is absolutely opposed on principle. 
He has no wish that the country he rules should be taken advantage 
of by unscrupulous speculators of European nationahties for their 
own special benefit alone. He leases land on advantageous condi- 
tions to all persons who desire to cultivate it, and he is not opposed 

y Google 


to investment of European capita! in Sarawak, in undertakings of 
a rational kind, as has been wrongly asserted. But he has legitimate 
reason to decline to protect mere adventurers who swarm in new 
countries solely to fill their empty purses without the least considera- 
tion for the consequences which may accrue to others and to the 
country through the effects of their speculations. Any honest 
trader, and better still any able agriculturist, who earnestly wishes 
to deal well with the natives, may always be sure of a hearty welcome 
in the dominions of Rajah Brooke. 

At present, with the exception of the Borneo Company, which 
' holds several important mineral and commercial trusts, the entire 
trade of Sarawak is in the hands of Chinese, under the direct control 
of the Rajah's Government. As is well known, Europeans cannot 
possibly compete with Chinamen in small trades and industries. 
The latter easily penetrate the interior, hving amongst Dyaks and 
Kayans, and grow rich by exchanging articles of scant value, but 
appreciated by the natives, for valuable forest produce. 

The Rajah's Government is eminently impartial towards the 
many and varied races it has to rule. In Sarawak all religions are 
tolerated and equally protected. There are at present in the 
country several Protestant missionary stations, which are dependent 
on the Bishop of Singapore and Sarawak. There is besides a 
Vicar Apostolic who resides at Kuching, with several Roman 
Cathohc priests. The Mohammedans have various mosques, and 
the Chinese joss-houses and temples at their many settlements. 
A certain number of Dyaks have been converted to Christianity 
by the missionaries, but perhaps a still larger number are becoming 
assimilated by the Malays, adopting the Mohammedan rehgion, 
which, when free from fanaticism, as it usually is when practised 
by Malays, is perhaps more consonant with the manners and customs 
of the peoples of the tropical portion of the Far East, and with the 
climate of those countries. 

Most of the territory of Sarawak is still in a wild and primitive 
condition, and immense forests will continue to cover it for centuries 
to come, but the natives of the greater portion of Rajah Brooke's 
dominions can no longer be termed mere savages, for peaceful 
trade between the different districts is now fuUy and perfectly 
estabhshed. Head-hunting has entirely ceased, and slavery is 
abolished everj'where. It should also be stated that most of the 
customs of the Dyaks, and even of the Kayans, although in many 
cases opposed to our ideas of morahty and civilisation, are not such 
as to present an insmrmountable obstacle to the material progress 
of the native populations, nor are they thus contrary to the pros- 
perity of the State. 

And on his part, the second European Rajah of Sarawak, 
devoted to the sole task of increasing the welfare of his native 



subjects, by directing the energy of the Dyaks and Kayans towards 
peaceful avocations, by favouring Chinese immigration, and by 
developing trade and encouraging agriculture — has given to the 
country he rules a prosperity which could hardly have been hoped 
for, when one looks back at the condition of Sarawak prior to the 
advent of the Brookes, 





ON several occasions in the foregoing pages I have mentioned some 
of the more notable features of the magnificent forest which covers 
nearly the entire surface of Borneo, yet I think that a general sketch 
of the vegetation in Sarawak from a biological and physical point of 
view may not prove uninteresting to the reader, premising that it is 
not within the scope of this book to attempt, even on the most general 
lines, an account of the Flora of Borneo, a vast subject, which in the 
present state of our knowledge cannot possibly be treated as it deserves. 

If it be true, as it seems to me, that each climate has stamped its 
special mark on the organic productions which live under its influence, 
what is it that characterises the Bomean vegetation as a whole ? 

Before answering this question, it is necessary that I should give some 
account of the climate of Sarawak, which is indeed practically that of 
the larger portion of the lowlands of Borneo. 

The Climate of Sarawak. — It has been already stated that the kingdom 
of Sarawak is within the region of the monsoons ; that from April to 
November these winds blow from a prevalent N.E. direction, and during 
the remaining months of the year from the S.W. The seasons are, 
however, somewhat irregular, for although the monsoons are constant, 
and as a general rule the N.E. brings rain and the S.W, fine weather, 
"it cannot be said that the year has only one dry and one wet season, for 
rain is pretty frequent during each month of the year. 

The average temperature in Sarawak, considering its latitude, is a 
relatively low one, and at the same time peculiarly uniform, which is 
to be attributed not only to the insular condition of Borneo, but also 
to the fact that it is covered with dense vegetation, which prevents the 
ground from getting heated and favours an abundant condensation. 
Another factor in maintaining a low temperature is the extensive evapo- 
ration. Nor is the shortness of the days without its effect, for the sun 
does not remain on the average more than twelve hours above the 
horizon throughout the year. 

The highest temperature observed during my stay at Kuching was 
on August 31st, 1866, on which day the thermometer in the verandah 
of my house rose to 91° Fahr, The lowest temperature, at sea-level, 
was noted by me at Bintulu on August i6th, 1867, when the thermometer 
stood at 67° Fahr. During my sojourn in Sarawak I did not keep a 
regular meteorological record, for I never made long stays in the same 
■place, but I have be^ able to avail myself of the meteorological observa- 

y Google 


tions registered regularly at Kuching of late, and published in the 
Sarawak Gazette. From these we find that during the years 1891-92-93 
the maximum temperature registered at Kuching was 95" Fahr., the 
minimum being 82°, on March 31st, 1893. The very same extremes 
are given on the following April ist. For this reason I suspect that there 
must have been some error in the reading or in the printing of the tempera- 
ture data of those two days. Putting these aside, therefore, the maximum 
temperature during the three years mentioned would be 92° Fahr., and 
the minimum 69° Fahr. 

From the records mentioned it is evident that there is a singular 
constancy and nnifonnity in the minimum temperatures of Kuching 
throughout the year, as they vary between 69° and 75° Fahr. It also 
appears that the warmer months are from May to September inclusive, 
with maxima of 88° and 92°. January and February are the coldest 
months, the maxima being 82° and 85°. Thus in Kuching there would 
be at the most a difference of about 10° between the maximum tempera- 
tures of all the months in the year ; and again, differences exceeding 18° 
almost never occur in the twenty-four hours, and when they do, it is 
especially in the warmer months. 

The amount of the rainfall in Kuching over a period of seven years 
is given below — 


Number of Kainy 

Eainfali. IK Inches. 











1 892 


This shows the exceptional relative dryness of the year 1888. The 
most rainy months of the year are usually December, January, and 
February, and in a lesser degree November and March ; the dryest 
months are July, August, and September. In July, 1889, an extraordinary 
minimum rainfall— i-g5 inches — was observed. The maximum rainfall 
was in February, 1886, when 43'83 inches fell. 

During some years abundant rain fell also during the fine (or so-called 
dry) season. Thus during May, 1886, I2'38 inches were registered ; 
in August of the same year, ii'oS inches ; in June, 1887, i4'47 inches ; 
in July, 1889, 12-84 inches ; and in the folio-wing September, 14-38 inches ; 
in May, 1890, 12-15 inches; in June. 1891, 10-43 inches; in August, 
1892, ii-i6 inches. This is sufficient to prove that during the so-called 
dry season a prolonged absence of rain Is quite exceptional in Sarawak. 
" flurare of the Vegetation ia Borneo.— With these data before us, we 
may now pass on to a consideration of the question raised at the beginning 
of this chapter. A tropical country, which has a climate like that above 

y Google 


described, and in which the growth of vegetation is continuous and active 
"throughout each day of the year, must necessarily be clothed with a 
high, dense, and luxuriant arboreal mantle, with evergreen foliage, from 
the seashore to the summits of its mountains. And this, indeed, is 
the marked feature which I would call the " physical characteristic " of 
the flora of Borneo. There being no season during which the vegetative 
functions are quiescent, either on account of a low temperature or by 
reason of a prolonged drought, it is easy to see why in Borneo neither 
annual (forestal) plants, nor terrestrial bulbous plants, nor thickened 
tree-trunks, nor fleshy ground-plants are to be found. 

A sort of correspondence to the above-mentioned physical forms 
of plants is to be met with in the world of Epiphytes, where, on the naked 
trunk and branches of the trees, alternate periods of dampness and 
dryness occur, corresponding with the climatic periods. Similarly 
amongst the epiphytes in Borneo, on the better lighted and higher parts 
of trees, we meet with plants termed " Xerophiles " or lovers of dryness, 
which are so organised as to be able to exist for a longer or shorter period 
without water, but which are at the same time provided with special 
adaptations enabling them to take advantage of it when it does occur 
on any occasion and under any physical condition. 

The soil which nourishes the forest trees of Borneo, especially in the 
plains, is always loaded with moisture, and at the same time is never 
too much heated, being sheltered by the dense foliage of the trees them- 
selves. For this reason the greater portion of the tropical sylvan plants, 
living on the sea level, only flourish under a moderate temperature, say 
from 70° to 90° Fahr. When I use the term forest, I refer only to that 
which is really primeval, which in Borneo is characterised by the great 
size of the arboreal vegetation, by the infinite variety of species which 
form it, and by the great number of peculiar forms. In Borneo, except 
along the coasts where mangroves and casuarinas are found, wpods entirely 
formed of one or a few species of trees are entirely wanting. 

The vegetation which covers an area where the primeval forest has 
been destroyed is utterly distinct from that of the latter, with its rich 
and specialised primitive forms. The species thus establishing themselves 
are quite different and are mostly those which have an extensive geographi- 
cal distribution. I have adopted the term " secondary forest " for this 
assemblage of vegetation, when, as is often the case, it is formed of timber 
trees, which, however, never attain the size of those which constitute 
the primeval forest. From a botanical point of view I cannot insist 
too strongly on the difference which exists between these two kinds of 

Secondary Forest.— This kind of forest in Sarawak is characterised 
by trees of small size, among which predominate the Euphorbiace(e 
with the genera Mallotus and Macaranga ; some Ficus and other Urii- 
cacece (Sponia, Pipturus, Leucosyke) ; and shrubs such as Eurya. Adinandra 
Glochydion, Phyllanthus, Pavetta, Mttsscenda, CaUicarpa, Memecylon, 
Melastoma, etc., amongst which various creepers trail their flexible 
stems, mostly belonging to the genera Uncaria, Tetracera, Artabotrys, 
Uvaria, ViUs, etc.. together with some ferns. Amongst the small trees 
of the secondary forest in Sarawak a composite of the genus Vernonia 

y Google 


deserves special mention.^ It is only to be expected that the flora 
should not be rich in the Bornean secondary forest, and that the plants 
which form it should belong to- the commoner sorts, for being of easier 
adaptation to the conditions of existence and to the nature of the soil, 
these are more widely diffused in the neighbouring regions. The secondary 
forest in Borneo always owes its existence to human agency, which has 
destroyed the primeval forest ; but in volcanic countries it may be the 
consequence of an eruption, which may cause the entire vegetation of 
a mountain to perish. 

In a country where the forests are formed of few species, and the 
trees are gregarious, the destruction of the primeval vegetation does not 
produce a great alteration in the flora ; but in a tropical country covered 
with virgin forests, where hundreds of species of trees, lianas, and epiphytes 
can be found crowded together in an area of a few square miles, a clear- 
ance of the forest produces a complete change in the character of the 
flora, and should such destruction be extended and continued, there can 
be no doubt that not a few species would be rendered totally extinct. 

It is very probable, indeed almost certain, that in the long run the 
tndy forestal species would regain possession of the secondary forest, 
once more forming a forest of the primitive type. 

Primeval Forest. — The species of trees which go to form the lofty, 
primitive forest of Borneo are extraordinarily numerous, and belong to 
very different fEunilies. Those which predominate belong to the Diptero- 
carpecs, Leguminoste, Elenacea, Sapoiaceee, Cupuliferts, Arctocarpea, 
Bombacea, Tiliace^e, DUleniacea, etc. ; but many other trees of moderate 
dimensions live in the shade of these giants, and contribute to the whole. 
They belong more especially to the families Myristicacea, Meliacece and 
GittiifercB, and principally to the Lauracecs and Eupkorbiacece. Tliis 
last family, with the exception of a few herbaceous forms, adventitious 
in mhabited localities, is represented in Borneo entirely by woody 
species, but few of these are relatively big trees, most of them bemg 
shrubs forming the lower growth of the great forest. 

In the primeval forest a large number of the trees and shrubs which 
live in the shade of the forest giants are naturally young specimens 
of the latter, but a large proportion of small trees also exist which, even 
when they attain their full development, never reach the lower branches 
of the greater trees. Some of these have slender stems, often undivided 
or but slightly branched, and not many metres high, crowned with scanty 
but large leaves, simple or pinnate in form. Beneath the shade of the 
great trees, even those plants which would naturally be herbaceous 
often become diminutive trees. Even those which are really herbaceous 
are, without exception, never annuals. 

In some cases the soil of the primeval forest is covered by a thick 

1 The members of this family (herbaceous or woody) are certainly wanting in 
the primeval forest of Borneo, and onlj? a dozen of adventiflons species are found 
in the vicinity of habitations and cultivated grounds. It thus appears that the 
damp region of the monsoons is not favourable to the plants with feathery seeds. 
The Asdepiaden, especially epiphytic species, nevertheless form an exception; 
but in these the feathery appendage of the seed is of such a nature that the slightest 
difference in the hygrometric conditions of the atmosphere render it fit to act as 
an organ of flight, whilst contact with a wet or even merely damp object causes it 

y Google 


layer of dead leaves, and is almost devoid of any minor vegetation ; 
more frequently, however, especially in the lowland forests, in the 
mountain gorges, along rivuJets, and in all localities where, on account of 
the dampness ^nd the nature of the decaying leaves, humus is rapidly 
formed, herbaceous plants are both numerous and varied. They belong 
principally to the families of the Ferns, Zingiberace<s, Marantacea, 
AracecB (particularly ScMsmatogloitis), Gesneracecs, Acanthacets, Urti- 
cacem (with the genera PeUonia, Elatostoma and Procris). Common 
enough, too, are some species of Argostemma and Opkiorrktza among the 
Rubiacce, of Sonerila among the Melasiomacea, together with other small 
forms of this fine group of plants, various orchids, commelinas and 
begonias. Of the Cyperaceee only a few Mapania, Hypolyiron and 
Scirpodendron are forest species, and of the Graminacea only Lepta&is 
urceolata, E. Br., a widely spread plant within the tropics. 

WhUst the herbaceous plants of the Eornean primeval forest are mostly 
endemic forms, or in any case limited to a restricted geographical area, 
those of the districts in which the primitive forest has been destroyed, 
or occupied by cultivation, are without any exception adventitious 
and often cosmopolitan species, or at least widely diffused in Southern 
Asia. Amongst the herbaceous plants of Sarawak there are found only 
two or three Euphorbia and some PhyllayUhus, only four or five LabiattB, 
some Lyihracem, HedyoHs, Desmodium, etc. I collected twelve species 
of Cyperus, but none of these was peculiar to Borneo or the Malay 
Archipelago, though everj'wbere common, growing amidst the rice or 
on the sandy sea-beaches. Some are common even in Europe. Amongst 
other CyperacecB several Fiwhristylis, Scleria, but only two Carex, are 
found in Sarawak. Of the Graminacea I collected about 60 species, 
but except the already mentioned Leplasis, I found none living in the 
primeval forest, although some appear in the clumps of fruit-trees which 
surround the Dyak houses. The majority of the grasses in Borneo are 
to be found in plantations around habitations, on the river banks denuded 
of forest, on the islands of the larger torrents when left dry for some 
months, and lastly on the sandy sea-beaches ; here are also found species 
of Convolvulus, Crotalaria, Indigofera, Phaseolus, Vigna, Tephrosia, 
Desmodium, etc. 

The lanulies of plants most largely represented in the primeva! 
forest of Borneo are the following, mentioned approximately in accord- 
ance with their richness in species : — Ruhiace<B, Orchidacem, Bupkorbiacete, 
LeguminoscB, Anonacecs, Melasfomacete, Palmce, Urticacem, Myrtacets, 
Aracea, GuUifer<e, Dipterocarpece, Meliacece, and Anacardiacea. 

The physical characteristics of the trees which form the primeval 
forest of the island are of the same nature as those met with in 
the trees of all tropical forests, in which, as in Borneo, growth sufifers 
no interruptions, but is continuous all the year round. The vegetative 
characters of such a forest may be summed up as consisting of the 
great height attained by the trees, and of certain special pecuUarities 
of the latter, viz., the perfect straightness of the trunks, which are bare 
and only branch high up ; the huge expanded head which crowns them, 
and the great laminar " banners" or buttresses, which very frequently 
augment their stability. 

y Google 


The large quantity of humus accumulated in the forest p 
even in great trees, to the development of numerous superficial roots. 
This, perhaps, is one of the reasons wh\ the forest species can only thrive 
in the secondarj' forest after man\ \ears when a thick stratnm of hiunus 
has been formed. For the smaller plants of the underwood this kind 
of soil must be an essential condition of existence, as is proved by the 
fact that most of them cannot exist elsewhere. 

As trees in these forests find abundant nourishment in the humus, 
it appears natural that their roots should not penetrate vertically into 
the ground, but extend along its surface. This is, I think, the true cause 
of the development of " banners " or laminar expansions from the base 
of the trunk. The stability of these giant trees which, owing to the lack 
of deeply penetrating roots, is rather deficient, is thus greatly augmented. 
The banners have been called " laminar roots," but in reality they cannot 
be thus described, except in some cases when they extend along the 
ground, reaching far from their trunk. In most cases however these 
laminar expansions grow out at a considerable height above the level 
of the ground. One meets with frees, especially in locahties where the 
forest is habitually flooded, whose trunks appear as if lifted above the 
soil by their roots. The best instance of such stilt-like roots in the 
Sarawak forests is that shown by Plojarium fidcherrimum, Becc, 
whose stem is provided below with laminar expansions, and raised in 
the air by branched roots, just as if the entire plant was hoisted out of 
the soil for six or eight feet or more. This form of roots is quite difierent 
from that which may be termed " fulcral," peculiar to the screw pines 
and some Eugeissonias, and especially to mangroves. In these plants 
new adventitious aerial roots are constantly being produced from the 
stem or trunk pari passu with the growth of the tree, or else secondary 
roots grow from the older ones, and all eventually penetrate into the 

The abundance of creepers and rope-Hke palms such as Calamus 
and allied genera are salient features of the great Bornean forest, as 
are also the large number of epiphytes and parasitical plants on the tree- 
trunks and branches ; the rich collection of undergrowth plants ; the 
multitude of humicular species, of ant -harbouring plants, and of 
urnigerous or pitcher plants (Nepenlkes) ; and the existence of specie; 
producing flowers and fruit on the trunk or around its base, on 
the main branches, and even on underground growths. But all these 
■ find a perfect correspondence in analogous forms to be met with in the 
equatorial, forests of the New World. 

Amongst the plants which live under the shade of other vegetation, 
those that have leaves with a large surface area often predominate. 
In this category are found not only herbaceous plants, both terrestrial 
and epiphytic, Aracece, Gesneracece, Marantacea, Zingiberacea, etc., but 
also many shrubs peculiar to the underwood, which flower and fruit 
protected by the larger trees, and often show large leaves. To this group 
belong many Afionace(^, Mamoliacete, EtiphorbiacecB, Lauracecg, Myrisli- 
caceiB, etc. Many of the underwood shrubs which have not large simple 
leaves, have composite leaves, such as many Leguminosce, Meliacece, etc. 
The majority of the giant trees have mediimi-sized or small leaves, 


y Google 

y Google 


mostly entire, coriaceous, and shining on the upper surface. Big leaves, 
however, are to be seen in certain Sterculiace^, Bombacece, and Diptero- 
carpem, etc. On the summits of mountains in Borneo most of the shrubs 
have small leaves. Acicular, narrow, long, rigid or phyllodiform leaves, 
so frequent in plants of Australasia, are very rare. 

The surfaces of the leaves of the plants of the primeval forest vary 
greatly. Often they appear as if coated with varnish above and covered 
with, small scales or dense wool beneath. It does not appear to me 
impossible that similar structures, besides having a moderating action 
in regard to evaporation, are useful as a defence against parasitica! 
fungiUi, preventing the penetration of spores into the tissues. If the 
plants of our climes had to pass a summer in an atmosphere like that of 
Borneo, th&y would at once be invaded by cryptogamic vegetation, 
as indeed happens in our own country when we have a warm, damp 
summer. Within the tropics fungilli affecting the imier tissue of growing 
leaves are rare. At every step in the forest, however, minute forms of 
inferior plants are to be seen, such as hchens, mosses, Hepaiics, or Alg^, 
which vegetate on the surface of hving leaves, without damaging the tissue 
on which they grow. 

Plants witn Variegated, Uetallic, or Brightly Coloured Leaves. — The 
plants which are most beautiful on account of their variegated leaves, 
and bright, metallic, or intense green coloration, live in the humus 
where the forest shade is dense. To their number belong various 
species of Aracea, Melastofnaceis, Cyrtandracem, Rubiacees, Orchidece, 
etc., which show a leaf-coloration far more brilliant than congeneric 
species which grow in the sunshine, a fact which appears to be in direct 
contradiction with another, for it is well known how plants kept in the 
dark fade and lose their colour. Yet whilst plants generally fade aiid 
become etiolated when kept from hght, those with leaves of a deeper 
green and more bright coloration prefer shady spots. 

It is well known that the green coloration in plants is caused by an 
immense number of minute granular corpuscules enclosed in the tissue 
cells, which owe their colour to a pigment known as chlorophyll. These 
corpuscles are a product of the protoplasm, viz. of the essential living 
and sensitive portion of the vegetable cells, and have the faculty of 
moving about within the walls of the cell which includes them, and of 
modifying their shape, by reason of the vitahty and sensitiveness of the 
protoplasm in which they are embedded. A very strong light causes 
the chlorophyll granules to hide away, crowding together in the deeper 
portion of the tissues, whilst diffused light is favourable fo a uniform 
distribution of the granules. It is well to bear in mind these details 
of the minute and microscopic structure of plants, because it seems likely 
that leaves naturally silver- spotted, marbled, or variegated owe their 
peculiar coloration to the faculty possessed by chlorophyll granules of 
grouping themselves together in various ways according to the manner 
in which light influenced the leaves during the most remote plasmative 
epoch. According to this hypothesis, marbled and variegated leaves 
would be merely the hereditary reproduction of the above-mentioned 
phenomenon, which must have occurred when (in the period when the , 
stimuli could produce permanent effects on organisms) the thin solar 

y Google 


rays struck the surface of the leaves of a plant on the ground after filtering 
through the foliage of a dense forest. To the migration, then, of chlorophyll 
from the superficial layers of leaves under the action of a strong light, 
leavir^ the cells full of air, may be attributed the first origin of silvery 
leaves, though possibly in other cases the necessity felt by leaves to 
assimilate in locahties where light was scanty and unequally distributed, 
may have caused the chlorophyll to accumulate in certain spots and to 
absent itself from others. 

On the vividly- coloured leaves of plants living in shady places purple 
and violet tints are often found to predominate. Such colours are caused 
by special pigments, and to these the function of moderating the action 
of light on chlorophyll has been attributed. But as sudi pigments 
are frequent in leaves which grow in the shadiest places, where such a 
function would be not only unnecessary, but harmful, the theory is one 
which may well be called in question. It is a fact worthy of note that 
the lower surface of the leaves is that which is usually more brightly 
coloured. I am thus more inclined to beheve that the violet pigments 
may serve as a sort of sensitising filter to green rays, which are not very 
active in assimilation. In fact the solar rays which have filtered through 
a dense fohage are wanting in actinic rays, for these are absorbed by 
green. The violet pigment may in a way make up for this deficiency 
and excite and aid the assimilating energy. It does not, in fact, seem 
too much to say that the protoplasmic granules, which in certain plants 
and in special organs are charged with pigment, may be a sort of 
embryonic stage of those organs which in more highly constituted 
beings are those of vision. 

Various ground orchids belonging to the genera Anteciochilus, 
N^helophyllum, Vrydagzinia, Odoniochihis, and especially Goodyera, 
have purple, velvety, or metallic leaves, often with veins of a rosy, golden, 
or silvery tint. Variegated with green and white are those of Schis- 
maiogloilis asperaia aibomaculaia, Engl., and of S. Beccarii cdholineata, 
Engl., amongst the Aracea ; of Pinanga variegata, Becc, amongst the 
palms ; of Didymocarfus kompsobaa, C. B. Clarke, and D. Clarkei, 
Becc. amongst the Gesneracea. Variegated leaves, too, are frequent 
amongst the Acantkacem, and numerous are the tiny forest species of 
this family which show the above-mentioned peculiarity. One species 
(P. B., No. 889) is particularly remarkable for the marked contrast in 
its leaves of a deep metallic green with silvery white and yellowish lines. 
Very noticeable for their leaf -markings are two RubiacecB, an Argostemma 
(B.P., No. 1658) and a.n A crantkera (P. B., No. 3794}. Amongst the 
Marantacea the leaves of a Phrynum, which I discovered on the Bellaga 
Hills (Ph. Zebfinum, Becc. P. B., No. 3785) are very beautiful ; they 
are of a deep green with light lines, recalling those of Maranta Zebrina. 
Another species of Phrynum (P. B., No. 1493), which I found on Mount 
Mattang, has similar markings, but less distinct. One of the Cyperaceee, 
which I found in the dense shady forest on the slopes of Mount Mattang 
has its narrow leaves green with metallic violet sheen (the only example, 
I believe, of such a coloration in the entire family). It is a new 
.species of Mafania, to which the name M. versicolor is aptly given 
(P. B., No, 1414 and 27). I have already recorded the singular example 

y Google 


of Crypiocoryne palUdinervia, EngL, which lives in stagnant waters in the 
forest, and is the only known aquatic plant with variegated leaves. 

Saprophytes. — There can be no doubt that the plants of the Bomean 
forest have been perpetually engaged in a struggle against numerous 
enemies, who have ceaselessly striven to destroy or to damage not only 
their aerial parts, but also those which lie beneath the soil. At the 
present time, as in the far remote past, the struggle for existence in plants, 
even beneath the surface, against micro-organisms and the myceha of 
a host of fungi must have been incessant: The final result can only 
have been the extinction of all those vegetable forms which did not 
possess a sufficient power of resistance, or which were unable to adapt 
themselves to their surroundings, modifying themselves so as to be 
victors in the battle. In the latter condition were probably many of 
the forest ground plants, which might almost be said to have come to 
an agreement with their foes, conceding to them a hospitality which 
appears ultimately to have proved of service to them, for the outcome 
of the struggle is a condition of mutualism advantageous to both parties. 
The presence of mycorhizfe in the roots of plants may have had such 
an origin. 

Humicular saprophytal plants are frequent in Borneo ; it is sufficient 
here to mention the genera Burmanma, Thismta, Geomitra, Triuris, 
Salomonia, Petrosavia, and some orchids (Lecanorckis, Aphyllorchis, etc.). 

Parasites. — ^True parasitic plants in Borneo may be divided into 
two classes, viz., the aerial, and those which may be teimed terrestrial, 
since it is on the roots of plants that they have estabUshed themselves. 

Except the well-known and wide-spread Cassylka, a type of the 
common Cuscula, the aerial parasites in Borneo all belong to the family 
of the LoranfkaceiB, and, with the exception of some species of Viscum, 
all to the genus Loranthus, largely represented by conspicuous species 
with brightly coloured flowers, in which red and yellow predominate, 
and bearing large bracts almost equally resplendent. The Loranthacees 
are true parasites, preferring to attach themselves to the higher branches 
of trees, where their flowers are more exposed. In Borneo, however, 
I also found a terrestrial Loranthus, Macrosolen Beccarii, Van Tiegfi 
(P. B., No. 610), a humble forest shrub, which is apparently non-parasitic. 
I have been able to ascertain positively that the " burong unparu " 
(Trachycomus ochrocephalus) feeds on the fruits of Loranthus ; but 
probaijly many other birds feed on them also. It is also probable that 
some slender-billed birds, and perhaps some butterflies, are attracted 
by the brilliancy of the flowers of plants of this genus, and that they take 
part in their fecundation, but I have no personal observations on this 
subject. Nearly all the Loranthacea have thick fleshy leaves, or else 
are clothed with woolly down ; the above-mentioned Macrosolen Beccarii 
alone has glossy and thinly coriaceous leaves. They are the despair of 
botanists who have to prepare specimens for the herbarium, for whatever 
precautions are taken they break up during the process of drying. 

The species of terrestrial parasites known to me from Borneo are 
only two species of Balanopkora, the Brugmansia Lowii and Rafflesia 
Tuan Muda, Becc. 

The genus Rafflesia only contains a restricted number of species. 




very localised in the thickest parts of the forests of Java, Sumatra, the 
Philippines and Borneo. They are beyond doubt amongst the most 
marvellous products of Nature in existence, and I can only compare 
them to vegetable monsters which undoubtedly afford evolutionists a 
good deal of material for conjecture. I really cannot understand 
by what process the progenitor of the Rafflesia can have lost roots, 
stem and leaves, concentrating all in one gigantic flower, parasitic 
on a creeper, and devoid of apparent relationship witii other 
families of plants. If it be true that the various forms of livii^ 
species have always made their appearance by gradual and slight 
modifications one from the other, where are now the intermediate 
forms which acted as the connecting link between Ra^esia and the 
normal plant ? If Rafflesia is now so very different from the other 
forms of the vegetable world, the transitional types, according to the 
theory of slow and gradual evolution, ought to have been infinite. It 
thus appears very extraordinary that none of those extremely numerous 
intermediate types should have survived. May it not be that the 
Rafflesia, and a host of other aberrant species, both animals and plants, 
are examples of the autocreation of organisms (derived from exceptional 
circumstances of the environment) and suddenly appeared a I'improvisle, 
as it were, in that primitive epoch daring which organic matter was 
easily plasmated, so as to adapt itself with facility even to extraordinary 
conditions of existence ? 

Size, Colour, and Scent of the Porest Flowers. — A considerable nimiber 
of the trees which form the great Bornean forest have small and insig- 
nificant flowers, often of a greenish colour. I am not acquainted wifii 
any big tree in Borneo producing flowers in any way comparable to those 
of a conmion mag;nolia. The largest flowers of arboreal plants of the 
first magnitude are perhaps those of the Durio. Amongst trees of the 
second and third magnitude, flowers of notable dimensions are borne by 
some species of the foOowing : — Talauma, Dillenia, Gardenia, some 
AnonacenB (Spkcerotkalamus insignis, for instance, and some Gonio- 
thalamus). Amongst shrubs, the flowers of Dillenia (Wormia) suffruticosa 
are perhaps unsurpassed by those of any other plant in Borneo. Large 
and beautiful flowers are produced by many epiphytes ; I need merely 
mention those of numerous OrchidecB, Fagreea, Rhododendron, etc. 

Amongst the minor trees and shrubs which are conspicuous in the 
dense forest on account of their flowers, although not frequent, Plojarium 
•pidckerrimum, already alluded to for the singularity of its stem and for 
its masses of red flowers, which recall those of Nerium oleander, merits 
the first place, and following come several Ixoras, with their bright 
bouquets of scarlet flowers, and various species of Saraca. Smaller plants, 
remarkable less for the dimensions of their flowers than for their briUiant 
colours and the way they are grouped and rendered conspicuous, are 
various kinds of Clerodendron, some Msckynanthus, and more especially 
numerous Zingiberacets (Coslus, Alpinia, Amomum, etc.). I can remember 
only one tree, MussiBtidopsis Beccariana, BaiU., which has large white 
bracts, analogous to those of the shrub-like Musstsnda. The predomi-