Adventures of Klieng.
From Mr. Brooks Low’s Notes.
** There is a long road from the heavens to the earth which has seventy
branches or intersecting paths. Men and spirits are constantly travelling on
this road, but in every instance the spirits overtake the men and pass them
” The following story relates how Klieng, an inhabitant of the spirit world,
sought a wife from the earth, taking to himself in marriage Bunga Riman the
daughter of the Tiju, Apai-Karong-besi (Tiju, father of the iron sheath).
** Apai Abang and Apai Semili hold a conversation in the heavens. Says
one to the other, * What is the use of our sitting idle here ? There is nothing
going on. Our men are not marrying, nor are our women ; let us go down to
earth and take heads.’
” In the meantime preparations are being made for Klieng’s marriage
with Bunga Riman. The rhyme sings of his wealth, and of the beauty of his
mats, value of his jars, brassware, &c., and tells how the women set out on
their journey down to the earth to fetch home the bride for Klieng. They set
out from the top of the mountain known as Panggau Libau from whence they
arrive at a mountain called Balai Chandai and having climbed the summit of
this mountain they descry the road with the seventy branches which leads to
earth. Punggas and Bunga Noieng, cousins of Klieng, go in advance of the
party to reconnoitre for tracks of enemies. The whole party then advance
together. They find growing in the middle of the forest a plant with red
flowers like the Panggil (a species of clerodendron), and this they recognize as
a sure token of success in their search of a wife for Klieng. Proceeding on
their way they arrive at Manang Pakwak’s house, but the sudden arrival of
such a force surprises and alarms the women folk of the house, who begin to
clamour and make a noise.
** The visitors then asked and obtained permission to enter the house, and
were made comfortable. Bunga Noieng begins to look about him with an eye
Legends — Adventures of Klieng. 333
to a good-looking woman, but having made his choice he is disappointed in
finding that she is already promised in marriage to Gelaian, a human being.
In the meantime Klieng leaves his friends and goes into the jungle. During
his absence the company return to the heavens and leave him behind. Klieng
had taken his blow-pipe with him into the jungle, and seeing a great number
of birds he endeavoured to shoot some of them that were congregated
in great numbers in a Ara tree (a species of ficus). But failing to obtain
ahy birds, he became angry and vexed. Coming under the tree he sat down,
and seeing the skin of some fruit lying on the ground he was reminded
that he was hungry. Looking up into the tree he saw a berkerang that
had thrown away the skin after eating the fruit, but though Klieng felt
very hungry he was too faint to climb the tree to obtain any fruit for him-
self and so remained sitting under the tree, and the berkerang remained aloft.
At last the berkerang began to move by leaping from tree to tree, and Klieng
followed him till at last the berkerang descended and entered his shed.
Klieng had been bemoaning his lot, crying out, * Oh ! mother ! mother ! I
am so hungrj’, and here there is no one to cook anything for me or call me to
eat.’ Having seen the berkerang enter his shed, he followed, but upon
entering the animal had disappeared. Klieng, however, found foot-marks,
which he traced. After some time he heard a noise., and going to the place
whence the sound proceeds he sees a lot of men fighting. These were not
men but spirits and the apparition is a test to prove his courage. The spirits
call upon him to come and be killed. So he laid himself down upon the log
path that they might try their hands upon him and attempt to cut him in two.
Several of them tried to do so, but their swords would not cut him, because he
was invulnerable. Then Klieng in his turn invites the spirits to allow him to
make the like attempt on them with his sword. As soon as he drew his sword
he astonished them, for several of them were by the one stroke cut in two. The
spirits then called upon him to forbear, for several of them had been killed,
and they gave to him a talisman (pengaroh) to render him further invulnerable.
He then left them and again followed in the footsteps of the berkerang. These
next led him to a place where he found some spirits burning a man. The
spirits seized upon Klieng and threw him also into the flames, but at once
the fire was quenched. Then the tables were turned once more, and Klieng
catching hold of some of them threw them into the tire, and they were killed.
The rest then dismissed him and gave him another talisman, which like the
first was to strengthen him and help him on his way to Raja Riman, who is
very powerful. Klieng then went on his way and came to where spirits were
throwing each other into the earth, some sinking up to their knees, some up
to their waists, and others up to their armpits. The spirits tried to do the
same to Klieng, but instead of sinking he bounded up again. Then Klieng
threw some of them down, and they were buried, some one fathom, some two,
some three fathoms deep. From the remainder of these spirits he obtained
another talisman, and leaving them he proceeded on his journey over hill and
valley. At last coming to the top of the hill he sees a long house opposite to
him, with a valley intervening between it and him. This is the house of Raja
Riman. At the foot of the hill, in the valley, he sees a woman bathing, whom
334 H. Ling Roth.— Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo.
he approaches and makes advances towards friendship, and at last endeavours
to embrace her. * Do not come playing the fool with me/ she commands
him, and leaves him. He seeks to follow her, which she advises him not do,
but he persists. Seeing this she then counsels him to take no notice of any-
one whom they may meet, but to keep close to her until shfe reaches her room.
Upon her turning in at the door of the room Klieng seats himself on the
verandah. Her father sees him, but turns his back upon him. The woman
having gone into the room and changed her clothes brings out the wet ones
and hangs them up to dry. Then she brings out the betel box, and takes a
leaf and rolls a cigarette, saying within herself, * If thi^ man takes this, I
shall know him to be Klieng.’ She watched and saw him take it. Next she
goes into the room to prepare the meal for the family, and places seven gourds
of water, seven plates, and seven cups, and while they are at their meal,
Klieng is asked if he can point out which of the seven belongs to the woman.
He calls a fly, which tells him ^ Never fear, that which is smallest is her’s.’
” After dinner the father says to Klieng, * I hope you won’t think too
badly of me for my treatment of you, you are the finest fellow that ever set
foot in my house.’ Klieng said to the old man, * I am in love with your
daughter.’ KHeng had tiot met Aji, her brother, who had some time before
gone out to sea to get fish in preparation for the feast connected with the
planting of the rice seed.
” At night Klieng tries to find his way to the woman’s room, and calls to
his assistance a fire-fly, who tells him to be of good cheer, and watch where
he alights. Hearing somebody approach the woman asks, * Who are you ?’
He replies, ‘ I am a poor man and a stranger in this land, without any
father.’ She says, * Not you, your name is Klieng, I know you well. It is
alright.’ They then converse through the night, and at daybreak Klieng
wishes to go, but she will not allow him, telling him that her brother Aji will
be here soon, and that he must wait and see him. Presently Aji arrives and
smells a stranger. He calls out to him to come down from his sister’s room
and he will kill him. Kumang (the woman) would not let Klieng go down,
but he loosened her grasp and jumped down in front of where Aji was
sharpening his sword. Aji looks up astonished. After regarding each other
for some time, Aji challenges Klieng, and proposes to wrestle, but he found
it impossible to move Klieng, who stands as firm as a rock* Klieng then
laid hold of Aji, and intending only to give him a throw he lifted him, but his
strength was such that Aji was thrown right out of the house and away into
the middle of the river. But Aji came quickly to the fore again, and with
one leap he landed on the tanju. They then went at it with all their power,
for each felt the strength of his opponent. But Aji found it impossible to
throw Klieng, while Klieng severely injured Aji, but cured him again with
magic art. Aji then owns himself defeated and signifies his pleasure in
receiving Klieng as a brother-in-law. None ever could overcome Klieng.
** Then the marriage between Klieng and Kumang the daughter of Riman
took place, and together the pair go to work on the farm — to fell the jungle,
to burn it, and to sow the seed. On one day they plant more than anyone
else. The next day Klieng’s father-in-law desires them to go and work on
Legends — Adventures of Klieng. 335
the farm again, but Klieng replies, * What is the use, we have done every-
thing in one day.’ However, on this day Klieng carried all the timber for,
and erected and built a farm shed. The following day the father again
requested Klieng to attend to the business of the farm, and would not believe
that nothing remained to be done until he and all the people in the long
house had been to see for themselves, and were astonished to see all the work
completed and a path made of logs of trees extending all the way from the
house to the farm shed. On the way home KHeng pulls up a tree by its
roots and carrying it home sets to work cutting it up for firewood. Everybody
is astonished at whatever he does.
** In course of time Kumang becomes pregnant.
** One day Aji sets out on the war path with his people. By paddling on
during the day time, and only pulling up at night to rest and cook, after some
days they reach the enemy’s country. But it was not till the day that Aji
had arrived there that Klieng and his father-in-law set out to join them
overland. Kumang wished them to take with them three or four baskets of
rice, but KHeng refuses to be so loaded, saying that seven grains are quite
sufficient. At last Klieng’s father-in-law complains of being tired, and
KHeng takes him on his shoulders, and then flies to near where Aji has
encamped. He asks Aji whether he has reconnoitred, and Aji tells him that
he has, and that there are seven long houses of the enemy, whom he dare not
attack as they are too many and too strong for him, being Kayans. KHeng
offers to go, and is received by the men as a friend. He counted the men
and found that there were 900 of them, Krilih being their chief. The Kayans
present him with 900 swords. Klieng tells them that the army of Raja
Riman is coming to attack them ; he himself promises not to accompany
them ; he tells them to be prepared, if they are short of spears, sumpitans,
&c., to make some, if their swords are blunt to sharpen them.
^* Klieng then went to Aji, and told him that he had warned the Kayans to
be ready for the attack. Aji is angry that Klieng has warned them, as he
wished to take them by surprise. He says that this manner of warfare is
quite new to him, as he had never heard of any of his ancestors sending to
warn an enemy of an attack. Klieng replies that among his people it is
customary to warn an enemy, then they know who is brave and who is not.
In the morning some of the Kayans came down to the river side to examine
their nets, and the men of Raja Riman killed them. The Kayans then came
down in force to the attack, and the army fled. Klieng alone then advanced,
and with seven strokes of his sword he slew the inhabitants of all the seven
houses. His father-in-law would have run away, but KHeng prevented him,
as he wished him to witness his prowess and strength. He placed in his
karong’jiring (case for the poison for his darts) and carried away all the
plunder, slaves, jars, heads, &c. He then took one of the boats which had
belonged to the Kayans, and invoked every fair wind with magic spells.
They blew him to where Aji was encamped faster than a bird can fly. Aji
was astonished at the sight of all the plunder. They then returned to their
home, paddling very hard, as the night was far advanced, and all their
provision was finished, one grain of rice alone remaining. When they
336 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo.
come near their house, they shout and yell, and beat the gongs, and make
their captives dance. Kumang comes on to the tanju, and recognises
Klieng and her father. All the people in the house come down to the
landing place, to carry up the spoil — a whole day’s work. Then later on Aji
turns up. Next day a great feast was made. The brother of Klieng’s
father-in-law becomes envious at Klieng’s good fortune, and induces some
others to join with him in an attempt on Klieng’s life. They make a
number of swords and spears for the attack. While the feast was going on,
Kumang*s uncle and eight men were shown in. As they were coming up the
ladder they met Klieng going down, but they did not know him. They sit
down, and ask Kumang where Klieng is. She tells them that he has just gone
down. Klieng went to the top of the hill and cut a piece of wood for a
fire-log, and brought it to the landing place, where he put it down while he
bathed. Then he carried it up to the house. The length of the log was two
fathoms, and some wood that he carried to make torches were six or seven
fathoms long. His uncle saw him come in. Klieng placed the log down
just in front of his uncle. They were all struck dumb, and their hearts were
full of fear over attacking such a man, and getting up they hastily took their
** Kumang gave birth to a female child, who was named * Padi mati bejalai
lemi pinggang,’ and as she was so pretty they added the name of * Benih
lalu tugal sa taun mati nawang.* Years pass by, and this daughter, who was
born a widow, becomes a maid. (This inversion of the order is allegorical —
the ripe padi seed, after being planted, becoming young and giving life to new
“One day Kumang sent her daughter to call Klieng into the room, as she
wants to clean his head, &c. Whilst talking to him she wept, and her tears
dropped on to her husband’s forehead. He said to her, ‘Take care of our
daughter — my time has run out, and I must become something else.’ His
wife and daughter set him on his road back to Panggau Libau. They take him
to the hill from whence he first descried their house, and there they wish to
turn back. He says that he does not know the road, and they point out to
him the road leading past Pau’s farm. Then they return. He went on, and
coming to Pau’s farm shed he finds the people there in mourning. They
thought that Klieng was dead long ago and for this reason they were mourning.
It is some time before Pau can recognize Klieng. They go together to Pau’s
house, but seeing two women having their bath at the river side, Klieng
stops to talk to them as they call out to him. They were fairies, and they
give him a bag to hang round his neck which changes him into an ugly
ulcerous old man. When he takes the bag off he becomes himself again.
Then with the charm working he rejoins Pau who is waiting at some distance.
Pau seeing this ugly old man asks him whether he has seen a stranger,
Klieng. No, he answers. In going into the house he can hardly manage to
climb the ladder. Pau divines that it is Klieng under a spell. A manang
(medicine man) seeing the diseased-looking old man tells him to be off.
Everybody in the house carefully roll up their mats and put them aside, but
Pau spreads his mat for Klieng to sit down. Klieng unbelts his sword and
Legends — Two Fragments, 337
asks, * Father, where shall I hang this ?’ * On the hook,’ says Pau. But
the sword is so heavy that the hook gives way, and the sword falling kills a
dog. Then Klieng says, * Where shall I put my spear ? ‘ * Against the
peg,’ he is told, but the peg breaks off, and the spear falls and kills a pig.
Pau places his box of betel-nut, &c., but Klieng, apparently in a fit of
abstraction, picks up an axe near his hand, and begins to chew it instead of
betel-nut, and the pieces flying out of his mouth kills a slave and break a rare
jar. Pau’s wife is angry and demands to be repaid for the damage. Pau
endeavours to appease her. * Where is the use of making a bother. We
have numbers of slaves and plenty of jars.’ A new name is given to Klieng
— * Temuai rambok sapai Sengalang rambok bidang bebunjai.’ He had for
his coat an ordinary piece of rough bark cloth. After night set in, he went
to visit one of the rooms, but before doing so, he took off the bag, and hung
it up, not desiring to appear excepting at his best before the one he visited.
Thus he became himself again, and Pau, in his absence cut the bag into
pieces to prevent Klieng from again metamorphosing himself.
” When Klieng returned from his visit early next morning he was unable
to find his bag. Not successful in his search he awoke Pau and asked for it.
But Pau professed all ignorance. Pau was astonished at Klieng’s fine
appearance now, and admires him very much. The mourning is now
removed from the house, and great rejoicing takes place.”
From Mr. Brookb Low’s Notes.
” But there at dark Bunsu Mata-ari talked to herself inside the room.
Limbang overheard her say: * Limbang is brave and rich, no visitors: why
does he live in this solitary spot, why not remove to the haunts of man ? ‘ So
Limbang got up at midnight, uttered some magic words and said if all his fruit
trees, his cocoanut and pining groves, siban and durian fruits, etc., would
remove to Panggau Libau he would remove, if not, not. So he slept, and the
rain came down and carried them all away and the house at dead of night.
When Bunsu Mata-ari awoke in the morning, surprised to hear so many cocks
crowing and to see a house near, she thought it was Malays and how pleasant
it was they had come to live near them, for now they would get salt and iron,
etc. She woke Limbang, but Limbang pretended laziness, for he knew his
wife would be curious. Same happened with Klieng’s wife : seeing a house
spring up within one night near, Klieng went down to see. As Klieng did not
return, all his brothers and household went in search and found him in Simbaji
(? Limbang). The recognition took place and Limbang’s friends carried back
as much cloth, iron, etc., as they could ; and Limbang’s mother blessed him
to the end.”
“Formerly a tree grew at N. Panggau. It bore on its branches every
imaginable fruit, and formed the ground of the first great dispute. In con-
sequence of this great dispute Ap Klieng moved to Panggau Libau, Ap Pau and
Tutong to Batang Gelong, Sabit Bekait to Langit, and Ribai to the sea. Uat
338 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N, Borneo.
Klieng is an antu and lives for ever, and Ribai is the progenitor of the whites.
Indai Klieng bore Lulus, and Lulus drifted down to the sea. Uat Klieng and
Ribai are always at war with variable success. They also state that the race
of Klieng is the greatest of all races except the sons of Ribai, and that all
enemies are vanquished by them and none can overcome them except the race
of Ribai, the pirates of the sea. That the river of Gelong produces the most
beautiful of Dyak mythology, the birthplace of Kumang, Klieng’s wife,
Lulong, etc. They say that all this is the tale of the old men, what they have
dreamt in their dreams.”