KLIENG’S ,WAR-RAID TO THE SKIES.”
By the Venerable Archdeacon J. Perham.
The Sea Dyaks possess numberless stories, legends and fables handed down
by tradition from ancient times. Some are related in plain prose, whilst
others are set in a peculiar rhythmical measure, and sung to a monotonous
chant, but none are written ; all are transmitted by word of mouth from
generation to generation. A story plainly told is an Ensera, and a story sung
is a Kana. One large collection of ensera is similar in character to the stories
of Reynard and the Fox, whose place in Dyak tale is occupied by the Pelandok
and the Kekura (the mouse-deer and the tortoise), who are always represented
as acting in concert, and whose united cunning is more than a match for the
strength and ferocity of all other animals. Intrigue and stratagem, so
abundantly illustrated in these fables, are qualities upon which Dyaks love to
dwell, and they have an analogous series of stories of the adventures of Apai
Samumang and Apai Saloi, two men who are always plotting against each
other, the latter however always being outwitted by the former, an(J then,
when occasions serve, not ashamed to practice deceptions upon his own
family. Other tales relate the history of Rajas and their dependents in
various circumstances, but it may be that these have been borrowed in more
recent times from Malay sources. Others describe the exploits of mythical
Dyak heroes, and these perhaps constitute the most genuine specimens of the
oral literature of the Dyak race. Of this class the following is one, and being
generally sung is called a Kana.
The greatest hero of Dyak mythical story is Klieng, of whom many
exploits are recorded — good and bad, warlike and peaceful. He is supposed
to belong to this world of ours, but is not now visible to human eyes as in the
* Journ. Straits Asiatic Soc., No. 16, 1886.
312 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N.Borneo.
good times of yore to which Dyaks look back as the golden age. He is
without pedigree. Tradition makes him out to have been found in the hard
knot of a tree by Ngelai who brought him up as his brother. When of age,
he developed a tendency to a wandering life, and never applied himself to any
regular pursuits, except those of pleasure and war. He was wayward and
capricious, yet handsome and brave ; he would often disappear for months
and even years at a time, and be given up as dead, and then would re-appear
at his mythical home, coming from where no one knew, and no one dared to
ask. He had a wonderful power of metamorphosis, and could transform
himself into anything, and become monkey or man, tiger or orang-utan ; could
be ugly or handsome; dirty and diseased, or clean and healthy-looking just
as he pleased. On one occasion, it is said, he turned himself into a fragment
of a broken water-gourd, and in that disguise was carried by Ngelai in a
basket to the battle, when, being set on the ground, he revealed himself in his
true character and routed the enemy. In the following adventure, he figures
as a man whom we should call a chimney sweep, and is named the ” Smutty
One, the Blackened Bambu,” and it is not until the end of the story that his
appearance changes, and he is recognised as Klieng.
He married Kumang, the Venus of the Dyaks, but in his many
wanderings and metamorphoses he became the husband of many others, yet
always returned to Kumang in the intervals. And she, following his example,
allowed herself the same wide license, and the varying incidents of their
constantly recurring separations and re-unions make up many a chapter of
Dyak story, amusing perhaps, but not very wholesome.
Klieng is not, so far as I know, called Petara ; but in Dyak estimation he
holds the position of a tutelary spirit, and is sometimes presented with
offerings, and often invoked as a helper of men.
The story of the Ancient Traveller whose coming is unknown.
The grey-haired Traveller whose way is hidden.
His name is ** Bungkok Arok Papong Engkiyong Bujang,”* ” Pengema Ribis
He is between Ngelai and Bujang Bulan Menyimbang.
He is the Traveller whose cleverness is great.
When he eats rice, at his touch it tastes like chestnut.
The remains of his drink tastes like honey of the bee.
Ngelai asks him —
** What, friend, is the object of your visit to our country ?”
** What news have you to tell ?”
Klieng — None, friend, except that I am weary of pounding rice and fetching water.
Ngelai — O you want to get married. v
Klieng — Even so : I wish you to go with me to ask Kumang to marry me.
Ngelai — How can you marry whose country is unknown ?
* Literally : ” The Sooty Crooked One, the Charred end of Bambu.” (J. P.)
9 Literally : ” Young Slanting Moon.” The story represents Klieng as appearing suddenly in
his own house ; but in disguise, so he is not recognised. (J. P.)
Legends — Klieng’s War-Raid to the Skies. 313
Klieng — My country is the highland of light soil, which touched becomes sago,
The Lake Barai, where bathe flocks of birds.
So they began to cut the knotty branches, as the evening was far enough
advanced to begin discussion.
Ngelai arranged his armlets of shell with distinctly cut grooves —
Arranged his plumes of hair like shoots of the young fern —
Arranged his turban hke the coil of the black cobra.
Bungkok also arrayed himself: his waist-cloth was of bark,
His turban a bit of dried tekalcng^ bark,
His armlets were a twist of rotan.
They went to the other end of the woven-walled house,
Walking after each other keeping step ;
And came to the room of Tutong.
Tutong — Sit down, friends, on the rotan mat woven by Lemantan of the land of
Sit on the mat woven in sprigs by Lemok called the star-like Luloug.
Eat the pinang just coming into ripeness.
Eat the little pinang gathered from the midst of the fruit trees ;
With spoon -leaf sirih spreading in Feptiform branches ;
And tangled tobacco mossing like the hairy kelindang fern.
And they fell to talking till the morning hours, speaking of many things.
Tutong — What report, cousin, what news ?
What is talked of in the land ?
Ngelai — We wish to cut into the top of the wide spreading bee-tree.
We wish to tie the feet of the great wood pigeon.
And net the adong fish at the head of the stream.
We ask for Kumang to wed our cousin the Traveller here.
Tutong — My sister does not marry anybody.
I require a man who has found a mosquito’s probosis big enough for a
stanchion of a boat’s bow.
I require one who has found a pangolin’s tooth fit for a band of the njabor”
But my speech is that of joke and laugh,
Talk spoken without thought.
But truly I require a man who can lead me to rescue my father and mother
from Tedai in the halved deep heavens ;
One who can lead me to wage war where the dim red sky is seen :
This is the man whom I seek, whom I search for, to borrow as a debt.
Klieng — I am the man, cousin Tutong : if to-night we split a bunch of ripe pittangs,^
to-morrow we carry war to the halved deep heavens.
If we spHt the red-spathed pinang^ 1 can lead you to wage war to the zenith of
the roomy heavens.
So they agreed to split the pinang ; but the elder brother of Tutong
refused consent : and Ngelai*s company returned carrying faces of shame
• Owing to my ignorance of botany, I can only, as a rule, give the native names of plants. (J. P.)
7 A Dyak sword. (J. P.)
* ” Meian Penang,” splitting the betel-nut, is the name given to the marriage ceremony, of
which that action forms the central part. (J. P.)
314 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo.
unable to meet the gaze of others ; with faces red like a lump of dragon’s
blood. Coming to his own room, Ngelai went to his sleeping place carved
like the luminous sparks of the milky way. Great was the shame of Ngelai
Bujang Pedar Unhang.® Then spoke Bungkok Arok Papong Engkiyong : —
Klieng — Let us three Ngelai and Bulan Menyimbang get bird-lime. ^°
Ngelai — To-day ? Shall we return in a day ?
Klieng — Nay, we spend nights away, and take as provision three pasus of rice.
Ngelai — Where shall we collect the bird-lime?
Klieng — Say nothing : let us start and fell the pempan tree of Ngelai of the Rain
Chestnut, where we can arrange our weapons :
Arrange the plumes of hair like shoots of the lemiding fern ;
Put on the ancient war cap, the well fitting one;
Take the war charms to gird the loins;
Take the shield cut in slanting curves;
Gird on the horn-hafted weapons ;
Take the plumes of hair thickly studding the sheaths ;
Carry the sumpitan of tapang wood.”
And away they marched with feathers of the hornbill tossing in the sheaths.
Away down the ladder of evenly notched steps,
Holding the long rails converging at the bottom.
So started the three setting forth from thence.
In the day time they pushed on following the sun.
By the night they used flaming torches of light.
But weak was Bulan Menyimbang, weaker than a scorched leaf;
The strength was gone from the midst of his loins.
He fell to the right but was caught by the horn-hafted sword.
He fell to the left, but was held up by the barbed spear handle.
Spirit of the Winds — O dead is our friend, beloved of heart !
O dead is our husband, beloved of body !
And up rose Bunsu Entayang from the spout of the leaping waterfall.
Up rose Bunsu Rembia from the top of the bee-trees ;
And touched him with the knuckles of the fingers of the hands,
And dropped upon him oil sweetly perfumed ;
And there was a twitching in the soles of his feet,
A throbbing of the pulse in the region of the heart :
And Bulan Menyimbang stood up.
He smelled an odour like the scented gharu of the hills ;
He inhaled a perfume as of pressed cardamom flowers.
And lo! there was cooked rice, a bambu-full,
And dried fish a basket full.
** Whether for life or for death I will eat this rice,” says he.
And he ate to his satisfaction.
He smoked, holding the fumes in his mouth,
He ate pinangj throwing the refuse away.
And Bulan Menyinbang started to walk.
» “Youth of the Pedar (fruit) Skins.” (J. P.)
>*’ A metamorphical way of saying: “Let us go on the war path.” (J. P.)
‘* A long wooden blow-pipe used for propelling poisoned arrows. (J. P.)
Legends — Klieng’s War-Raid to the Skies. 315
He walked slowly holding on to the wing feathers of the swallow.
He marched on holding to the beak of the hombill.
And there was heard a booming sound like the roar of the tidal bore,
A rushing and crushing as of pelting rain.
And Ngelai Bujang Pedar Umbang looked behind.
Ngelai — O you are alive, friend! our friend lives!
And the three went forward, and came to the highway like the breast of the
A path already made clear and good.
Looking they saw a long house which a bird could only just fly through in
A short house through which a little tajak flies in a day.
Ngelai — ** O that is an enemy’s house, friend.**
And he donned his coat of hair woven by a woman of Sempok with deformed
He put on his war-cap of jungle fowl feathers.
And girded on his sword tufted with hair, as big as an empty paddy bin.
And set on his shoulder a sumpitan.
And grasping the shield with slanting ends Ngelai started to advance.
** Stop, friend,** says Bungkok Arok Papong Engkiyong Bujang Pengema
** That is not an enemy’s house, it is my farm lodge,**
** My house the worth of a rusa jar’* ”
The three advanced, and saw a house of one door, a single row of posts,
A beautiful house in the midst 6i a wilderness.
Bulan — Whose sleeping place is this?
Klicng — That is the sleeping place of Laja, brother of Dara Lantang Sakumbang.
This belongs to Ngelai Bujang Pedar Umbang
That to Tutong Bujang Lemandau Gendang.
Btdan — And where is mine?
Klieng — You have none, Bulan Menyimbang.
Bulan — You who have sleeping places are not more brave than I.
In fighting with spears never did I run away.
In fighting with swords never did I fear death.
Klicng — Don’t talk so, Bulan Menyimbang.
Let us sit down here on this mat of well crossed warp ;
This Java mat with over-lapping ends.
[And Bungkok muttered growlings like thumpings of a Melanau building a
And talked like a Sebaru man upside down.]
Klieng— ^^ here are you, ye Spirits of Contending Winds?
Strike the house of Sanggul Labong at the lair of the hfidawang snake.
Call them to the war to the zenith of the deep heavens.
” The property of Dyaks consists in great part of old earthenware jars, comparatively
valueless in themselves ; but highly prized by them, and ranging from 40 to 200 and 300 dols.
a piece. (J. P.)
” Klieng commands the winds to collect his army. (J. P.)
31 6 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo.
Tell them of Batu Jawa’s house on the hill of the feathery tufted lemba.
Tell them of Tutong*s house at Batang Gelong Nyundong.
[And the Wind Spirit arose and blew a strong blast,
A violent tempest furiously raging.
Broken were the struts and posts of the houses.
Uplifted were the shingles of split wood.]
** What wind is this blowing with such strength ?
“What rain is this beating without stint?”
The Wind — We are not wind without object, not natural wind :
We are wind inviting to the war on the skies following Bungkok who rescues
the father and mother of Tutong at the zenith of the roomy heavens.
Chorus — This is the debt to be incurred, this is to be wished and sought for.
Cut down the pempan tree, the rain chestnut: time it is we should be up
and make ready.
Sanggul Lalong descended from the cave covering the kendawang’s lair
Tutong came from his county or encircling rocks.
And many were their numbers, numerous as the dawn ;
Their heads as a myriad of spots.
And there was a rustling of the cardamom bushes as the army rushed by
and was gone.
They came to the river Tapang Betenong at the foot of the Riong Waringin.
” O many are our numbers, more than sprats and minnows,”
** More than the layers of the plantain buds.”
** Try and search the companies, whether all be come or not ”
And Kumpang Pali arose and looked around,
He looked to the left, they stretched beyond the range of his sight :
** He looked to the right, the sound of the rear was not to be heard.
** We are more in number than sprats and minnows,
” More numerous than the layers in the plantain bud.
” Thicker than the stringed hawkbells of iron.
** Is Sampurei here ? Him I have not seen.
** If so, untimely will be our advance like the merunjan fruit of the uplands.
** Slow our march and fruitless too !
•* Not so, let us onward !
“Nay, if they come not, we do not proceed.”
And Bungkok began to growl like a Melanau building a boat.”
And to talk like a Sebaru man upside down.
Klieng — Where are you, ye tempests ? I charge you to strike the house of Tiatang
The land where Linsing Kuning spat out the refuse oi pinang.
Where are you, ye contending winds ? Strike the house of Tuchong Panggau
And the wind began to blow a violent storm,
And stnxk the fruit trees unstintingly.
Bent were the struts of medang wood ;
Sent flying were the shingles of red jaung,
^* There is nothing peculiar about the boat-building of a Melanau, or talk of a Sebaru Dyak
the names are introduced simply to make rhyme. (J. P.)
Legends — Klieng’s War-Raid to the Skies, 317
The Wind — ” What wind is this that will not cease ?
** What rain is this that will not slacken ?
** We are not wind without object, natural wind :
** We invite you to follow Bungkok to the war
** Against Tedai in the circle of the roomy heavens ;
** To visit Chendan at the half moon.*’
Chorus — *’ That is the thing to be bought and borrowed ;
** That is the debt to be incurred.”
** Cut down the mutun tree, time for us to start.
** The army is within hearing we can take a rest.”
Sampurei^^—*^ What about the army, cousin Laja ? Shall we try its mettle ?
Laja — Try it, cousin, that we may know whose hearts are brave and fearless,
And Sampurei donned his plumes of hair like shoots of the limiding fern,
Donned his purple coat like the black plumage of the crow,
And grasped his slantingly cut shield.
And he rose up and shouted like the roaring of the cave tiger.
** The enemy,” said Bulan Menyimbang. ** Who are you ? ”
** We are not to be asked about.”
” W^e are the army of Tedai from the circle of the roomy heavens,”
** The army of Chendan from the rising shining moon.”
And they fought with spears sounding like thumping blows of the boat-builders.
They struck with swords, as if cutting through the pandan bushes.
And Ngelai was beaten by the company of Sampurei.
** Let us stop the joke, Sampurei, enough to have tested our friends.”
And they ceased the play.
And called back the great mass of the army.
Numerous as the unknown spirits.
And the army went forward.
The foremost were not within hearing of a calling voice.
As the hindermost were just bending to rise and advance.
The middle sounded like the pounding of the gtirah fruit when seeking the tuha}^
And they came to the slack water lake Tekalong ;
Where flapping the water they bathed and dived.
A pond was passed by the army in a panic.
Lo ! Sampurei became weaker than a toasted leaf;
Slacker than the current met by the flood tide.
The sweat of his body was as the streaming of a wet day.
In the sweat of his side could be dipped an eight-length bambu water bottle ;
And his body floated in his perspiration.
And Nawai Gundai wept with heavy sighing of the breast,
And shed tears with tender grief.
After a time, lo ! Sampurei emerged, seized the betel-nut and ate it.
And he smoked holding the fumes in his mouth.
** O Sampurei cannot die.” So said the army.
*’ Sampurei and his followers, coming up to Klieng’s army, feign themselves to be enemies
and get up a fight with it by way of joking. (J. P.)
** The juice of the “iuba” (dents eliptica) root is commonly used for poisoning fish, which are
thus obtained in great numbers ; but other products of the jungle will serve the same purpose, and
amongst the.e is a fruit called “gurah,” which may possibly be the cocculus indicus. (J. P.)
3i8 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N. Borneo,
** Cut down the mutun and simun with leafy branches/*
** Sufficientfy strong are we in numbers to take counsel.”
Klieng — Hear, all ye of the army ;
Whoever first gets to the hill of Perugan Bulan,
He shall be the possessor of Kumang.
Daylight came and the army ran a race.
At midday Bungkok arrived first at the hill.
And lo ! a spirit with long loose hair over the shoulders,
Foaming at the mouth to devour some one.
And he fought with Bungkok.
Now the spirit was worsted, now he :
But the spirit was beaten, being dashed to the left and flung to the right.
And, whining, the spirit beseeched him to cease, and let him go free.
Spirit — I will give you a charm, as big as a hearth-stone to make you invulnerable.
Klieng — I refuse.
Spirit — I will give you courage and never shall you wage war without taking spoil.
Klieng — I refuse.
Spirit — I will present you with a tooth of mine which will become a ladder reaching
to the flock of clouds.
I will give a tooth with which you may ascend to the house of grandmother
Klieng — If so, I will let you go.
So Bungkok let the spirit go free.
And the main army began to arrive at the hill Perugan Bulan ;
Close to the precincts of grandmother Manang.
And came to the rising shining moon.
** Rest all ye of the army ‘* ; said Sampurei ;
** May be we are vainly following the paths and tracks of wild beasts.”
Klieng — We shall not return without gain and without spoil.
Sampurei — How so ?
Klieng — Whenever I have gone to inflict fines, never did I return empty-handed :
Every day did I bring a string of knobbed gongs.
Whenever I have gone on the war-path, never did I return unsuccessful.
^ Every month did 1 get a seed of nibong palm.^*
Here let us test the skill of the woman, the stimulant of the bones.
Whose hands are those which can work skilfully ?
And Sampurei arose, and threw up a ball of dressed thread ;
And it became a clump of bambus,
Sapungga arose, and tossed a ball of raw thread ;
And it became a plant of rotan.
And the chief set in the ground the spirit*s tooth.
And he arrived at the falling, setting sun.
He planted the spirit*s tooth, and it reached to the rising shining moon :
It became a ladder of ironwood, perfect with eighteen steps.
And Ngelai stood up, and tossed a ball of red-dyed thread to the sloping
^^ An old medicine woman who is supposed to live in the skies, and to have in her keeping the
” door of heaven,” through which the rain falls to the earth. (J. P.)
1^ Meaning a human head. (J. P.)
Legends — Klteng’s War-Raid to the Skies. 319
And it became a flower snake whose tail twirled round the Three Stars,
Whose head caught Sembai Lantang Embuyang.
And Tutong arose, and flung a ball of blue-dyed thread ;
And it became a cobra whose tail caught the star of mid-heaven,
And with staring eyes it seized the loins of Buyu Igang.
There was a single bantbu on the highland of jingan wood lighted upon by flocks
of white storks.
And the main army marched on, and ascended to the circle of the roomy
The vanguard came to the house of Manang Kedindang Arang of speckled
Of Manang Gensarai of sweet smelling cardamom.
Sampurei — Is your house free of entrance, grandmother ?
She did not reply (as much as) a grain of rice
She did not answer (as much as) a bit of bran .
The Army — O why does not grandmother answer us ?
Sampurei arose, and clutched a log of wood,
Threw it at her, and hit the hole of her ear.
And lo ! out came bees and dragon flies.
Out rushed pythons and black cobras.
The Army — No wonder grandmother does not hear, so many things are in her ear.
Again they inquire : Is your house free of entrance, grandmother ?
/. Manang — My long house, children, is never tabooed ; ^
My short house has no forbidding laws.
Sampurei — How can that house be large enough for us —
A house of only one door, one family,
A house of only one row of medang posts ?
/. Manang — Come up, grandson, this my house is large enough for you all.
Up they went, and not before the army was all inside was the house filled.
And the army rested there.
** Let us of the army fetch wood and seek for meat : ” so said they.
/. Manang — No, no, grandchildren ; at all costs, I will give you a meal.
And she filled with rice a pot the size of a chestnut ;
And a pot of meat the size of a bird’s egg.
Said Sampurei : ” I will go in, and see grandmother cooking.”
Sampurei — Where is the rice which has been cooked, grandmother ?
/. Manang — That is it, grandson, only that.
Sampurei — Let me swallow it all up and no man know it.
/. Manang — Not so, grandson, let each one fairly have his share : do you go and get
Away went Sampurei and fetched some blades of lalang grass.
/. Manang — Why bring that — for a pig’s litter ?
Sampurei — No, friend, to eat rice with.
/. Manang — How can a man eat with lalang leaves ?
Sampurei — Don’t you know how much a grain of rice is ?
^’ When Dyaks have to feed a large company, plates are apt to run short ; so they use the
large leaves of one or two kinds of trees, as a substitute.
320 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit, N, Borneo.
L Manang — Go again and fetch some plantain leaves.
Sampurei — I will not weary myself to no purpose :
Were they required I know how to get aiaps :
As for rice there is none to be put into the leaves.
And grandmother Manang arose, and took rice and meat ;
She served it out sitting, piling it in heaps as high as herself was sitting.
She ser\ ed it out standing, pihng it in heaps as high as herself was standing.
/. Manang — Sampurei, you divide the food ; long have men praised your skill in
Sampurei — Yes, grandmother. Get ready, all ye of the army.
And he took the rice and meat, and tossed it to the left ;
He tossed it to the right and behind, and sprinkled it about :
And yet not a grain was lost.
Astonished was grandmother Manang.
/. Manang — In truth you are clever, grandson, skilful with the tips of your fingers.
But why do you not eat, Sampurei ?
Sampurei — Full is the bag made by my mother, the pouch made by my grandmother.
And the remainder of the rice left by the army was a matful ;
The fragments of meat five plates full.
But it was all devoured by Lualimban :
Yet still he wanted to eat, wide open was his mouth.
They fetched ten pasus of rice, and upset them into his mouth; yet still he
They got a chest of paddy, and poured it into his mouth, rammed it down with -^^
a rod ; but yet he was not satisfied.
And he proceeded to eat the gongs big and small and the jars.
And all the goods of grandmother Manang were consumed, and the old lady
Klieng — You have also shown your power, grandmother : so have we :
But do not be vexed at heart ;
Your things shall all be restored as before.
After their jokes were ended, grandmother Manang departed.
The solitary bambu on the highland, the army marched by and was gone.
The vanguard came to the hill of ** Jengku Lengan ‘* like a. ketnbayan fruit in red-
The ridge of trickHng rain like the flow of burnt resin.
It is the country of young Sabit Bekait Selong Lanchong.
His people go with the army, two of them claiming the foremost place :
Tebingkar ^ Langit Luar, Bujang Bintang Ensaiar,
And Kariring Tambak Aping, Bujang Bintang Betating : J
These with Sampurei and Sapungga marched at the head of the army.
They came to the rock of a thousand heights, the land of the cave tiger.
The hill of Sandar Sumpit, the land of the Ukit Peketan Payang.
Klieftg — Which is our way, cousin ?
I know not : hitherto when on the war-path, I have only come as far as this.
^® I have not been able to discover the meaning of ” Tebingkar and Kariring.” There are many
words in these ancient songs, whose signification the present generation of Dyaks has lost. Omitting
these two terms, the rest stands thus : ” The Wide Heaven, Young Shooting Star, The Aping (kind
of palm) Plant, Young Star Constellation.” (J. P.)
Legends — Klteng’s War-Raid to the Skies. 321
And Bungkok went forward, and growled like a Melanau building a boat,
Muttered like a Sebaru man upside down.
And lo ! the way at once was clear and straight,
A highway like the breast of the land turtle.
Then began a rustling of the cardamom bushes, as the army marched by and
They came to the highland of kelampai copse ;
Where Tedai hung out to dry the tufted war plumes ;
To the level lowland where Chendan shaped the tenyalang ‘^ posts.
And the army stopped there and rested.
Cut down the lihas tree in the jungle : who of us will form a company to spy out
the land ?
** I for one,** said Sampurei Manok Tawei of the manang hawkbells.
*• I for another,’* said Sapungga Bujang Medang.
Kariring was another. Young Aping, the star-cluster youth.
These three went forward walking in single file ;
And arrived at the house of Pintik Sabang, watcher of the spirits which cannot
** O that is Sampurei.*’ Up they started and flung spears, missing on either
They fought with swords reaching far over the shoulder.
** This is the enemy,** shouted Sampurei.
And they fought with spears like the thumping of the boat-builders.
They struck with swords as if cutting through the pandan bushes.
All day they strove ; at night they returned.
The Army — Well what news bring ye, ye who spy out the land ?
** We could not find the way ;’* they reply.
Army — In vain we trust to you :
Talk no more of the clever-speaking maidens.
Cease to think of the pretty girls, as they totter going over the tree-stems.
Klieng — Since it is thus, let me be the spy.
You go with me, Laja, brother of the virgin Lantan Sakumbang.
You also, Ngelai, Bujang Pedar Umbang.
Let us three go alone.
” I go with you,” said Sampurei, the youth who never flags*
And Bungkok rose up, and donned his coat of black hair all glistening.
Over it a cotton padded coat, woven by Bunsu Rembia who rides the flood-
Slowly he walked holding to the wings of the swallow.^
Swiftly he ran, quicker than the speed of the gazelle.”
And arrived at the house of Pintik.
Pintik — O that is Sampurei.
Klieng — Will you fight with me ?
‘^ In the festivals to Singalang Burong, high poles are erected in front of the house, having on
the tops of them carved figures of the rhinoceros hombill which is called by the Dyaks tenyalang. (J. P.)
^ A mystifying contradiction, specimens of which are found in other songs, as when Ini
Manang gives this puzzling answer to an enquiry about distance. ” If you start in the morning, you
” will be a night on the way ; if you start in the evening you will get there at once.” So above,
Klieng spoke of the same house as long and short. (J. P.)
322 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo.
P»Wf A— Nay, I simply chose to have a bit of play with Sampurei.
And they came to the place where people bathe like tumbling prawns.
And as the day was now dim, they rested.
LrO ! there was heard a rattling giggling talk of argus pheasants with shawls
red as fire which burns the dry jungle.”
They came to bathe splashing the water about like showers of falling rain.
” I smell an odour of Sampurei,” so said Bunsu Tedai.
Klieng—Hov/ can they recognise us ?
Tedai — If Sampurei be really here, his head shall be cut off on this tree-trunk.
[And Sampurei rose up, and thrust at him a spear.]
Tedai — There are gadflies about, the day is closing in.
Sampurei — O my mother ! the blow of my spear he thought but the sting of a fly.
And they came forth and ascended the house when the feasting was at its
” Welcome, cousins ; come and sit down.”
And they were given to eat, and were afterwards asked to sing the Pandong
They were willing ; so ran the word,
Klieng — How goes the song ? [Whatever your skill ” suggests ;” said they.]
If so, here it is.
” Fell the nibong palm to be suspended (in other trees) ;
*’ Let it fall to the earth in the middle of the road.
** Tear and squeeze the heart of Tedai.
** Fell the nibong palm to be suspended;
” Let it fall to the ground at the end of the bridge.
** Tear and squeeze the heart of Chendan.”
Tedai — Why sing you so, cursing our hearts ?
Klieng — We are confused, cousin ; our heads are giddy ; we will stop.
And getting up they climbed to the upper room when they heard weeping and
‘* O the sorrow of my conception of Indai Mendong, half of the full moon.
** I thought she would have won a husband.
** Who would shout like a/as«»*® in the attacking army.
” All unripe her father and I shall be used by Tedai (as a sacrifice) to raise the
Pandong of the rhinoceros hornbill.
** O the vanity of giving birth to Kuning Jawa :
” I thought she would have married a man,
** Even a dragon-fly, accustomed to rush and strike and sting the ribs (of the
^ Klieng and his friends are now supposed to be near Tedai’s house ; they lie concealed in
ambush in the jungle near his bathing-place. The “argus pheasants” are women who come for
their ablutions. (J. P.)
” They come out of their concealment, and proceed to Tedai’s house as friends. A festival to
Singalang Burong is being celebrated. “The Pandong” is a trophy which is erected in the
verandah of the house, and upon which are hung shields, spears, warm-charms, etc. (J. P.)
*« In the upper part of the house they hear the captive father and mother of Tutong wailing
and bemoaning their fate, as destined by Tedai for a forthcoming sacrifice. They are confined in
an iron cage. (J. P.)
«« An animal something like a dog. (J. P.)
Legends— Klieng*s War-Raid to the Skies, 323
** They cannot rescue her father and me who are to be killed by Tedai to make
the war plumes.”
And Bungkok seized the iron cage.
They cried out, thinking death was near.
** It is I ; ” said Klieng Bujang Ranggong Tunggang.
” It is I ; ” said Laja, brother of the virgin Lantan Sakumbang.
And they rejoiced in spirit.
Klieng pressed them into a lump the size of a squirrel :
Held in his hand they became as small as aipinang.
He stowed them in his quiver, and only when arrived at home did he take them
They descended below.
The army had come up, and Chendan knew.
** This is the enemy,” said Tedai ; and fled carrying oflf his wife and children.
Then they fought with swords and spears, and the followers of Tedai were
And all who lived there were killed.
It was midday, and the army rested.
Sampurei looked round, and lo ! half heaven was darkened.
Army — O what is this ?
Klieng — That is Tedai*s army : now shall we have an enemy to fight with.
Of the followers of Tedai were fifty who could fly.
And they fought hand to hand with Sampurei, as if chopping mango fruit.
They hurled their spears, as if pounding on the loud-sounding mortars.
And their strength was all spent.
In their mouth was the sensation of the poisonous tuba.
Sampurei — More deadly are these enemies, friend, than freshly-dug tuba.
More fatal than the parasite-covered upas.
Never did I fight with foes like these.
Forward came one of Tedai*s men, Bigul by name :
Big was the end of his nose ; a chempak fruit grew upon it.
By breathing against any one, he blew him to the distance of a hill :
At each inhalation a man was drawn under his chin.
But there was one of the followers of Klieng who could kill him.
Pantak Seragatak his name, who by burrowing could walk underground :
Out he came and smote Bigul, who died by his hand.
Then Sampurei came face to face with Tedai.
And was struck by Tedai from the shoulder even to the loins.
Forward rushed Laja, and met the like fate.
And many were slain by Tedai.
Then for the first time Tedai met Bungkok face to face.
Klieng — What is your title, cousin, when you strike the snake ?
What is your title, cousin, when you smite the boa ?
Tedai — My title, cousin is the Big Bambu, overshadowing the houses :
Melanjan, cousin, is another with a branch of red-ripe fruit.
Klieng — If you are Big Bambu, cousin, overshadowing the houses, I am Short Sword
to cut the Bambu.
If you are Melanjan, cousin, I am Growling Bear, making my nest on the Melanjan
tree, making it cease to bear red-ripe fruit.
324 H. Ling Roth. — Natives of Sarawak and Brit. N, Borneo,
And Tedai rushed forward and threw at him a spear, the beak of the white
And hurled at him a lance with double-barbed head.
And pierced was Bungkok in the apron of his waist-cloth,
Grazed were the ribs of his side :
When oflf dropped the disguise covering his body ;
Away fell the sweat -preventing coat.
Then it was they recognised him to be Klieng, seeing he was handsomer than
And Klieng paid back : he aimed at him a spear newly hilted with horn.
And Tedai was struck and fell ; and was seized by Tatau A ding.
He. fell leaning against the palm tree of Bungai Nuying.
Klieng — Tedai’s head do not strike off, Sampurei, lest we have no more enemies to
And the great army drew back to return.
Rushing and rustling they marched along the highway.
They filed through the gloomy jungles, sounding like an army of woodmen :
Through solitudes uninhabited, full of weird sounds.
Those in front arrived at the house of Manang Kedindang Arang.
There they stopped a night to inquire the way of grandmother Manang.
/. Manang — The road, grandsons, lies straight ahead from my house.
Sampurei — You aie only teasing us, grandmother ; we shall kill you.
/. Manang — Hold, grandsons ; I am simply joking and laughing, talking fun with you.
Then the Manang brought a tub three fathoms long.
Arn^y — What is that for, grandmother ?
/. Manang — This, my sons, is to lower you down to the earth.
Sampurei — How can that be large enough ?
/. Manang — Large enough, my sons ; settle into it all of you.
And the army rose up, and arranged themselves into it.
And the tub was not full till the army had all got in.
And they were lowered by grandmother Manang to the earth.
It was the country of Ngelai where the army found footing.
Klieng and his company returned to Tinting Panggan Dulang.
This is somewhat curtailed in length ; but to give it in extenso would weary
the reader. Dyaks have a strong tendency to prolixity and circumlocutions,
both in their ordinary conversation and in their folk-lore ; and delight to use a
dozen similes where one would do; and to repeat over and over again the
same thing in different words, apparently with the double object of showing
the extent of their learning, and to fill up time. This song of Klieng’s exploit,
if given in full, would take nearly a whole night to sing, especially by a good
Dyak rhymist, who would amplify it with extemporal additions of his own as
he proceeded. Sufficient is here reproduced to show the main points of the
story ; and to unveil the region of ideas with which Dyaks will amuse them-
selves in the vacant hours of the night. The singer lies on a mat in the very
Legends — Klieng’s War-Raid to the Skies, 325
dim light of the verandah of the house, and rehearses the myth in a slow
monotonous chant ; whilst his audience are sitting or lying around, listening
to his periods, and commenting or laughing as the mood suits them.
These songs of native lore would be more interesting if they contained
references throwing light on the former history and condition of the Dyaks ;
but I have found little of this kind to reward a search through many pages of
verbiage. This legend of Klieng’s, putting aside the prodigies of it, describes
the life and habits of the Dyaks as we now see them : and the only gleam into
a different past which it gives is the reference to the sacrifice of human
victims, which probably formed a not uncommon element of their religious
rites in remoter ages.
I must add that the translation is as literal as I can make it ; but I am
conscious of how much the peculiar characteristics of the original have been
lost in the process. A perpetual play of alliteration and rhyme, and an easy
rythmical flow of the lines are of the essence of all Dyak folk-lore : but I have
not been able to reproduce these in the English.
Note. — I append a few quotations from the Dyak to illustrate the sound and measure of the
Duduk di tikai rotan anyam lemantan indu, di Entigelam tanam tunsang.
Duduk di tikai lelingkok anyam Lemok ti bejulok Lulong Bintang.
Empa pinang puda ti bam lega nelagu langkang.
Pakai pinang kunchit ulih ngerepit ruang tebawang.
Sirih sidok ti betumbok tujoh takang.
Pium tusot ti ngelumut takang kelingdang.
When Bulan Menyimbang faints through violent exertions, two guardian spirits come to his
assistance : —
Angkat Bunsu Entanjing ari tengiching wong nunggang.
Angkat Bunsu Rembia ari puchok tapang undang.
Lalu di-tegu enggo jengku tunjok jari,
Di-tata enggo lala minyak angi ;
Nyau kekebut di inggut tapa kaki,
Nyau kekebak di luak tungkul ati
Lalu angkat Bulan Menyimbang.
The tempest striking the fruit trees and houses is thus put : —
Ribut muput angin kenchang,
Buah mangka uda betagang.
Nyau chundong di sukong lamba medang,
Nyau ngensiat di atap jaung jerenang.
Ribuh apa tu bangat nda badu,
Ujan apa tu lalu uda leju ?
Klieng curses his enemies in a few words half metaphorical half literal :^
Tebang nibong begantong surong.
Rebah ka tanah arong jalai ;
Kebok kerok enggo atau Tedai.
Tebang nibong begantong surong,
Rebah ka tanah puting jamban ;
Kebok kerok enggo atau Chendan.