Manangs — Sea Dyak Medicine Men.

Manangs — Sea Dyak Medicine Men.

” The manangs or medicine-men of the Sea Dyaks rank next in importance to the Tuah Rumah or village chiefs, and it is by no means an unusual thing for the medicine-man himself to be the chief of the village in which he resides. There is nothing whatever to prevent him becoming so, provided he be popular ; but to be popular he must be a faithful interpreter of dreams and a powerful exorciser of evil spirits. The entire system of the manang is based upon superstition and imposture supplemented with a smattering of herbalism.
His reputation depends upon the number of cures he is able to effect ; or, in  other words, upon the trickeries his superior cunning enables him to practise upon the credulity of the people. The manang is an hereditary institution ; it does not necessarily descend from father to son, but it is usually confined to the family.*

< ” Many of the priests are the blind and maimed for life, who by following this profession are enabled to earn a livelihood.” (Sp. St. John i. 63.)

•• I have now got a blind man living with me. I heard that the Manangs, or spirit doctors, wanted to get hold of him, so one day I asked him if he really was going to become a manang ? He
replied, ‘ Yes, I suppose so ; but if I only had eyesight, catch me becoming a manang.’ ” (Cross-land, Miss. Life, 1874, p. 95.)

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

** To ensure success in his profession his cunning must be of a high order, otherwise his rogueries would be detected and his services discontinued. The more effectually to shield him from the possible revelations of a too prying curiosity he envelops himself and his belongings in a cloud of mystery. As it would be ruinous to him were his box of charms and devilries exposed to public view, he announces the punishment of blindness to any human being venturesome enough to peep into it.” (Brooke Low.)

” When the Dayaks are questioned as to their belief in these easily-
exposed deceits, they say no ; but the custom has descended to them from their ancestors, and they still pay these priests heavy sums to perform the ancient rites.” (Sp. St. John i. 62.)

” There are two descriptions of manangs, the regular and the irregular. The regular {manang nf^agi antiu) are those who have been called to that vocation by dreams, and to whom the spirits have revealed themselves. The irregular {manang ngaga diri) are self-created and without a familiar spirit.

” The regular are male and female manang laki and manang indu, and also manang bali, or unsexed males, of whom more anon. When a person conceives a call from the spirits he bids adieu for awhile to his relatives, abandons his former occupation, and attaches himself to some thorough-paced manang, who, for a consideration, will take him in hand and instruct him until he is fully qualified to practice on his own account. It is not enough, however, for him to simply say that he feels himself called ; he must prove to his friends that he is able to commune with the spirits, and in proof of this he will occasionally abstain from food and indulge in trances from which he will awake with all the tokens of one possessed by a devil, foaming at the mouth
and talking incoherently.” (Brooke Low.)

” The manang looks upon a sick person as being possessed with an evil spirit, and as long as this evil spirit remains in possession the patient cannot regain his health ; he conjures it to depart ; if it be obstinate and will not go he summons his own familiar spirit, and requests it to show him in what way the tormentor may be prevailed upon to take its departure. He acts upon its suggestions and propitiates it with sacrifices ; but if it still prove obstinate and
refuse to budge, the manang admits his inability to deal with it, and some other wizard is called in who is believed to have at his command a more powerful familiar. Whether the patient live or die the manang is rewarded for his pains ; he makes sure of that before he undertakes the case, for he is put to considerable inconvenience, being fetched away from his own home and obliged to take up his abode with his patient ; he can therefore undertake only one case at a time, but to it he devotes his whole attention. He takes his meals with the family, and in other ways makes himself quite at home. If a cure be effected he receives a valuable present in addition to his ordinary expenses. Herbal remedies are frequently administered by him, and a diet
enjoined. Such treatment works wonders in all simple disorders, and not unnaturally, but to enhance the value of the cure, spells are muttered and cabalistic verses recited exorcising the foul fiend that is tormenting the body. I have known manangs to have administered in this way European medicines procured from the Government dispensary, for they are wide awake and read at all times to avail themselves of remedies of known efficacy. Every regular manang is supposed to be attended by a familiar spirit who is good and powerful ; but it often happens that the evil spirit is the more powerful of the two, and when this is the case the sick man cannot recover, and death ensues. By death they understand the flight of the soul out of the body. When a person complains of pain in the body the familiar will often suggest that some mischievous devil has put something into him to cause the pain. The manang will therefore manipulate the part and pretend by some sleight of hand to draw something out of it, a stick, or a stone, or whatever it may chance to be, which no doubt he has previously concealed about his person, and he will hand it about and exhibit it as the cause of the pain in the body which he has thus been able to remove without so much as leaving a mark on the skin.”

‘* On other occasions if the disease be internal, the manang calls together all the friends of the sick person, making, with the assistance of others playing on gongs and tomtoms, a deafening noise sufficient to kill a person in ordinary health. He pretends to converse with the spirit which troubles the afflicted person, or he pretends to fall into a trance, during which his spirit is supposed to wander about in the spirit world to find out what is the matter with the patient.

** His method of treating diseases is not very conducive to the restoration of health, but if the strength of the person is sufficient to bear him through, it is well ; but should the patient die no blame is attached to the manang, but it all devolves on the malignant spirit, who is certainly not so black as, on these occasions, he is painted.

” Once during a journey up the Rejang river a wizard was called in to
visit the sick wife of one of my companions. He was dressed in war
costume and wore his side-arms. The sick woman was seated close to
where he was standing. The room was crowded with people and but
partially lit with a single torch. The gifts were hung up in a row under a
cajang canopy and Bua Dieng, the conjurer, was to cast out the devil who was tormenting the woman by the help of his familiar Avun Lalang. The first thing for the wizard to do was to discover through the instrumentality of his familiar whether the woman was destined to die. Being satisfied she might yet live he conjured his familiar to discover to him the evil thing that was vexing her body, and after a great deal of mystery and exorcism he gingerly exhibited between his finger and thumb a ball of moss which he^

” In ordinary times they pretend to woric the cure of the sick by means of incantations, and after blinding the patient’s eyes, pretend by the aid of the spirits to draw the bones of fish or fowls out of their flesh.” (Sp. St. John i. 62.)

“To increase their authority, they do not hesitate to declare that they have predicted every event. No accident happens to man or goods of which they do not say that they had previous warning ; and a sick man scarcely ever calls upon them for their aid when they do not tell him that for some time previously they had known he was going to have an attack. . . . For getting back a man’s soul he receives six gallons of uncleaned rice ; for extracting a spirit from a man’s body, the same fee, and for getting the soul of the rice at harvest feasts he receives three cups from every family in whose apartment he obtains it. The value of six gallons of uncleaned rice is not very great, but it is the sixtieth part of the amount obtained by an able-bodied man for his annual farm labour.” {ibid i. 201.)

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

claimed to have found in her head. His face was now a picture of horror as he offered to introduce this noxious thing into someone else’s head, driving this other person nearly wild with terror until the latter was reassured by seeing it flung out of the window.

** Another form of cure is similar to that well-known one of sorcery found in Europe, and was witnessed as follows : — A son of Unat6, Laghieng by-name, a boy of tender age, was suffering from some disorder of the stomach, whereupon his mother quickly procured the services of a manang bait (here-after described), who made effigies of mother and child by means of bundles of clothes. The effigy of the mother wore a mask, earrings, jacket and turban ; that of the child, with beads for eyes, a turban, and a scarlet chawat (loin-cloth) was placed between its legs. The gifts of the * devil * were hanging in a row under a cajang, and consisted of Unate’s shield decorated
with human hair at the one end, and his war jacket of panther-skin adorned with horn-bill plumes at the other end, while in between were the wife’s waist-beads and showy clothing. The object of the witch was to persuade the devil to accept these bribes and leave the boy to recover.” (Brooke Low.)

” I observed one of the Sibuyow customs somewhat new to me. A child was sick, and, as a charm, a straight stick, six feet high, was stuck in a water-jar before the door of the apartment in which it lay : leaves, surmounted by a Battick handkerchief, crowned the head, and the stem was twined with a chowat or waist-cloth. On inquiry, I learned that it was a charm, and that a ghost or fairy {antu) would descend and make known the best cure for the child — either in a dream, or whilst they were awake, they could not be certain which.” (Sir Jas. Brooke, Mundy i. 303.)

** In the evening near the Lingga we witnessed a poor sick woman being doctored. A decorated seat had been placed for her on the outer part of the house, and here she was seated, surrounded by eight of the doctors, who were dressed in gorgeous clothes, and some in female costume. An umbrella was over the patient, and the doctors paraded around her, giving utterance to a monotonous kind of chant. In the first circuit they placed their hands on their heads, and the second on their eyes, the next on their mouth ; and so on, until they reached their knees ; after which they lifted the woman from her seat, and swung her to and fro. This lasted for three hours, when I thought
she would have died from exhaustion. The doctors were howling all night outside her door, and we heard she was better next morning. So much for imaginary satisfaction.” (Brooke i. 94.)

** In cases of sickness a certain kind of altar is erected near the sick
person’s head, offerings are put on it, and a single gong beaten all the while. Then the priests sprinkle the sick man with blood, and make certain marks on him, as well as on his relations. No inmate of the house is allowed to leave it for two or three days ; no stranger may enter. Then there are three or four men and women appointed to go by night with torches and gongs beating in the jungle, carrying with them rings of beads washed in the blood, and magic stones, in order to seek for the place where the departed soul of the sick may have run to, and bring it back to him, after which crowning feat he is said to recover.” (Haughton, M.A.S. iii. 196.) See supra, p. 242 footnotes.

Medicine Men and Women. 269

“The Dyaks believe that every individual has seven souls (samangat),
and that when a person is sick one or more of these are in captivity, and must be reclaimed to effect a cure.”^ (Brooke Low.)

” Dyaks when visited by any severe sickness ask forgiveness of the antu. They build a small hut like one of their own rooms, put a piece of matting on the floor, and then place rice, cakes, fruit, and eggs on plates as an offering ; these they place in the hut, and round about they hang their gongs and place their jars on the ground near. A fowl and pig are killed and the blood sprinkled about the hut. All the roads to the house are shut up for three days ; no work of any kind is carried on. They visit no one, no one visits them. Each man gives
his share of rice and things to the antu.” (Crossland Gosp. Miss., Mar., 1866, p. 40.)

** Some manangs are provided with a magic stone ^ into which they look to see what is ailing a man, and prescribe for him accordingly. Every genuine manang is provided with a bag of charms called lupong, to him a collection of inestimable value ; being a present to him from the spirit world, it is irreplaceable if lost or stolen. In reality its contents are a mass of rubbish, curious sticks and stones, abnormal developments of cane and root, tusks and teeth and excrescences of horn, with here and there a herb or two, such as turmeric, ginger, &c. Pengorah rumwah are the bundle of charms handed from father to son and hung on the head of the post. Among Gari’s (a manang) collection I observed a smooth Venetian red pebble and a so-called cock’s egg, and he mentioned as stolen a yellow stone bead and a gold button. The charms are used in a variety of ways, sometimes the body is rubbed with them, sometimes they are dipped in water, and the water thus enchanted is drunk, and sometimes a bit is given to the patient to wear about his person as a talisman to ward off some particular danger.

“When a manang is in attendance upon a sick person visitors are not
received.^° The room he occupies is tabued, and, if circumstances require it, so is everything that belongs to him : his farm, his fruit trees, and his garden. The language used by the manangs in their incantations is unintelligible even to the Dyaks themselves, and is described by the uninitiated as bungea jaker, i.e. manang gibberish. Some profess to understand what is said, but if they really do so it is because they have taken the pains to learn it with the view, no doubt, of performing cures on their own account later on. It may be

^ “The Balau Dyaks distinguish between the soul — which they term semungat— and the animal life. In cases of severe sickness they say that the soul has left the body, has entered Sebaian hidop, and is travelling towards Sebaian mati. If it enters Sebaian matt immediate death ensues, but in order to prevent this unfortunate conclusion, mannangs are employed to follow and overtake it while still in Sebaian hidop, and to bring it back to the body.

” The Sebuyos believe that each man has seven semungats, and that sickness is caused by the loss of one of them.” (Horsburgh, p. 24.)

‘ Among the Upper Sarawak Dyaks “they have several large stones with distinct names, Le Bandos, Le Cunas, Le Ruyare, etc., at different Daya villages. On certain days they are carried about in procession, and festivals are held at their places. Such stones — ‘guna,’ as they are called —have particular houses built, and a Daya. who is paid by the village, is appointed to watch over them.” (Haughton, M.A.S., iii. 196.)

^^ This appears to be a contradiction to the statement on page 267.

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

simply some archaic form of the ordinary spoken language interspersed with cabalistic formulae, spells and charms for different purposes. Timong, the monotonous chant of the manangs, is a mixture of prayer and invocation, cursing and imprecation ; like the other it is not modern, and is largely mixed with archaic forms and disused words ; sense gives way to the exigencies of rhyme with jingling-like endmgs, and it has a refrain.”

** The ntanang bait is a most extraordinary character, and one difficult to describe : he is a male in female costume, which he will tell you he has adopted in obedience to a supernatural command, conveyed three separate times in dreams. Had he disregarded the summons he would have paid for it with his life. Before he. can be permitted to assume female attire he is sexually disabled. He will then prepare a feast and invite the people. He will give them tuak to drink, and he will sacrifice a pig or two to avert evil consequences to the tribe by reason of the outrage upon nature. Should he fail to do all this every subsequent calamity, failure of crops and such like, would be imputed to his conduct and he would be heavily fined. Thenceforth he is treated in every respect like a woman and occupies himself with feminine pursuits. His chief aim in life is to copy female manners and habits so accurately as to be undistinguishable from other women, and the more nearly he succeeds in this the more highly he is
thought of, and if he can induce any foolish young fellow to visit him at night and sleep with him his joy is extreme ; he sends him away at daybreak with a handsome present and then, openly before the women, boasts of his conquest, as he is pleased to call it. He takes good care that his husband finds it out. The husband makes quite a fuss about it, and pays the young fellow’s fine with pleasure. As episodes of this kind tend to show how successfully he has imitated the character of a woman he is highly gratified, and rises, accordingly, in the estimation of a tribe as a perfect specimen.** As his services are in great request and he is well paid for his trouble, he soon grows rich, and when he is able to afford it he takes to himself a husband in order to render his assumed character more complete. But as long as he is poor he cannot even dream of marriage, as nothing but the prospect of inheriting his wealth would ever induce a man to become his husband, and thus incur the ridicule of the whole tribe. The position as husband is by no means an enviable one ; the wife proves a very jealous one, and punishes every little infidelity with a fine. The women view him, the husband, with open contempt and the men with secret dislike. His only pleasure must be in seeing his quasi wife accumulate wealth and wishing her a speedy demise, so that he may inherit the property.

**In the time of Sir Spencer St. John (i. 62) in Lingga, out of thirty
manangs, only one had given up man’s attire.

‘* It is difficult to say at what age precisely a person may become a
manang bali. One thing, however, is certain, he is not brought up to it as a profession, but becomes one from pure choice or by sudden inclination at

” ” Their priests frequently use the names of the invisible spirits, and are supposed to be able to interpret their language, as well as to hold communion with them.” (Spencer St. John, i. 62.)

” The manang bait ” is quite unknown amongst the Hill Dyaks.” (Mundy ii. 65.)

Medicine Men and Women, 271

a mature age. He is usually childless, but it sometimes happens that he has children, in which case he is obliged to give them their portions and to start afresh unencumbered in his new career, so that when he marries, if he be so minded, he can adopt the children of other people, which he frequently, nay, invariably, does, unless it so happen that his husband is a widower with a family of his own, in which case that family now becomes his.

” The manang bali is always a person of great consequence, and manages, not unfrequently, to become the chief of the village. He derives his popularity not merely from the variety and diversity of his cures, but also largely from his character as a peacemaker, in which he excels. All little differences are brought to him, and he invariably manages to satisfy both parties and to restore good feeling. Then again his wealth is often at the service of his followers, and if they are in difficulty or distress he is ever ready to help.
The manang bali as an institution is confined, to the best of my knowledge, to the remote tribes of the Sea Dyaks : the Ulu-Ais, Kanaus, Tutong, Ngkaris, and Lamanaks. It is not unknown to the Undups, Balaus, Sibuyaus, and Saribas, but is not in vogue among them, owing perhaps to their vicinity to the Malays, who invariably ridicule the practice, and endeavour to throw it into disrepute.” (Brooke Low.)

** Bishop Chambers on once asking a manang bali how he professed to recover a drowned spirit, received as answer : * We hold,’ he replied, * that in addition to the true spirit given by God to man, there is another spirit, the shadow, which ordinarily attends a man wherever he goes. This is the spirit which falls into the water. We are sent for. We place a platter filled with water before us. After incantations we fish in this platter with hawk-bells. We pull these out a few times with no result. At length the spirit comes up, is captured, and restored.’ * How is it you see this spirit when others cannot ?’
* Oh ! we are the Illuminated (Bakliti.) At our initiation gold is put into our eyes, hooks are stuck into our finger-nails, our skull is cleft open.’ ” (Miss. Field, 1867, p. 463.)


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