By the Venerable Archdeacon J. Perham.


** Where all rational conception of the causes of disease and of medicine is entirely absent, magical ceremonies, incantations, pretensions to supernatural powers in the cure of the sick have the whole field before them ; whilst fear and anxiety in cases of illness lead to an eager credulity which clutches at any projected means of cure, however absurd in themselves : hence among the lower races of mankind, the medicine man is an important personage and as indispensable to the well-being of Society. The Dyaks of Borneo are no exception ; they have their manangs. And as these are not reluctant to
communicate their medical beliefs, and as their belief is also the belief of the Dyaks generally, it is not difficult to set down a general view of their theories, as well as their practices. The peculiar attribute of the manang is the possession of mysterious powers rather than special knowledge.


15 Jour. Straits Asiatic Soc., No. 19, 1887.


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


*’ But though the manang function is procured for all serious ailments, yet the treatment of the sick is not confined to it. Dyaks use a few simples as outward applications, things composed for the most part of leaves of plants. The betel-nut and pepper leaf mixture is also used as aji outward application for almost any malady. Some man, supposed to be lucky, is called in ; he chews a quantity of this hot and stimulant mixture in his mouth, leans over the body, and squirts the saliva over the affected part, and gently rubs it in with his fingers. Dyaks in a burning fever with acute headache will be seen with their foreheads smeared over with it. And this dirty mess is supposed to possess great virtue in promoting the growth of newly born children, whose bodies, up to a certain age, are half covered with daily applications of it by their mothers. Other unprofessional modes of cure are practised by certain Dyaks, to whom, through the medium of dreams, benevolent spirits have made known medicinal charms for special diseases, such as pebbles, roots and leaves of various plants, bits of w^ood, and even feathers and scraps of matting, etc. The pebbles are rubbed in water, which is applied externally ; the woods, feathers and matting are burnt, and the ashes applied.


‘* But these are of very minor importance compared with the functions of the manangs, who alone are believed to wield power over the malignant spirits which cause sickness. All internal maladies are supposed to be inflicted by the passing, or the touch of demons inimical to mankind. What is the matter with so and so ? you ask. He is pansa utei, ** something passed him ” ; he is struck by a demon who desires to carry off his soul to the other world. Consistent with this idea, somebody is required who can cope with the evil spirit and prevent the soul from being hurried away. And the manang comes forth as the man, ready to charm, cajole or kill the spirit, and rescue the departing soul from his clutches by a performance which is called Belian.

Some years ago a Dyak lad was sleeping in my house, and in the early morning was seized with epileptic fits. The friends came and took him away, and soon the manangs were walking round and chanting over him. After the function was over, the chief manang gave out that a party of spirits, returning from a hunting expedition, caught sight of the lad, and thrust a spear at him; but that had they recognised the house as mine, they would have spared him.


** Nearly all diseases are believed to arise from ghostly causes, or at least to be accompanied by sneaking evil spirits ; and the sorcerer must deal with these intangible and demoniacal influences. But some maladies are too terrible for even his mystical powers. Nothing is more thoroughly believed to be the direct personal influence of evil spirits than the epidemic scourges of cholera and small-pox ; but seldom will manangs go near a case of either ; probably a consciousness of the utter futility of their efforts, combined with fear of infection, have induced them to assert that such cases do not come within the reach of their powers. Other means must be resorted to, among which propitiatory sacrifices and offerings predominate.


**The stock in trade of a manang is a lupong, a medicine box, generally made of bark-skin, which is filled with obat, medicinal charms, consisting of scraps of wood and bark, bits of curiously twisted roots, and odd knotty sticks, pebbles, fragments of quartz, and possibly a coloured glass marble, cum multisaliis.


Medicine Men and Women. 273


These charms are either inherited, or revealed by the spirits in dreams as possessed of medicinal virtue. The coloured glass marble, where not previously known, is an obat of great power. On one occasion in my neighbourhood years ago a travelling manang belauded the efficacy of one of these toys of civilisation, saying I think that it was the * egg of a star,* and that he had given the whitemen’s doctor two dollars for it. Among the audience was a Dyak to whose son I had given a similar marble, and he said : * May we see this great medicine V The manang produced it. * Oh,’ said the other, * the Tuan Padri yonder has got plenty of these. He gave my boy one.’ The manang speedily replaced the marble, and changed the conversation to a more unsuspicious direction. If an unscrupulous trader were to take into the interior of Borneo a cargo of these marbles with holes bored through them to enable them to be worn round the neck, he would make enormous profits. One which I had given to a child was afterwards sold for a brass gong worth three dollars.


” Another and a principal obat contained in the * lupong * is Bata Ilau, * Stone of Light,* at bit of quartz crystal, by virtue of whose mysterious power the manang is enabled to perceive the character of different diseases, and to see the soul, and catch it after it has wandered away from the body : for it is an article of manang faith that in all sicknesses the soul leaves the body, and wanders about at greater or less distance from its mortal tenement ; if it can be caught within a returnable point, and recovered before having proceeded too far on the journey to Hades, well and good ; if not, the patient dies.


The manang never carries his own lupong, but the people who fetch him must carry it for him. He comes to the house in the evening; for he never performs in daylight unless the case is very bad, and the people pay him well for it ; to belian during the day, he says, is difficult and dangerous work. Sitting down by the patient, after some inquiries, he takes out of his lupong a boar’s tusk, or a smooth pebble, or some other obat of magical virtue, and gently strokes the body with it ; then he gravely looks into his Bata Ilau to diagnose the character of the disease and the condition of the soul, and to discover the proper pelian needed for its restoration, and then tells them what sort of function he would prescribe.

If there be several manangs called in, the leader undertakes the preliminary examination, the rest giving their assent. This done, they retire to the outside public verandah of the house, where has been prepared a Pagar Api, which is a long handled spear fixed blade upwards in the middle of the verandah with a few leaves of some sort tied round it, and having at its base the * lupongs ‘ of each manang. Why it is called Pagar Api,^^


* Fence of Fire,’ no one has been able to tell me. Then the leader begins a long monotonous drawl at the rate of about two words a minute, which, however, increases in velocity as the performance proceeds ; the rest either chanting with him, or joining in at choruses, or may be singing antiphonally with him, all squatting on the floor. After a tiresome period of this dull drawling, they stand up, and march with slow and solemn step round the Pagar Api, the monotonous chant slackening or quickening as they march the whole night


^’ See Fire as an antidote to bad omens, p. 229.


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


through with only one interval for a feed in the middle of the night. The patient simply lies on his mats and listens. Most of the matter chanted in these manang performances is unmeaning rubbish. They begin by describing in prolix and grandiose language all the parts of a Dyak house ; but how such an irrelevant descant can effect the cure of a fever or a diarrhoea is a mystery to all but themselves. Then they * bark at the sickness,’ in other words, call upon it to be off to the ends of the earth, and to return to the regions of the unseen world : they invoke the aid of spirits, and of ancient worthies and unworthies down to their own immediate ancestors, and spin the invocations out to a sufficient length to bring them to the daylight hours.

Here the grank climax is reached — the truant soul has to be caught. If the patient is apparently in a dangerous state, they pretend the soul has escaped far away, perhaps to the river ; and they will wave about a garment, or a piece of woven cloth, to imitate the action of throwing a cast net to inclose it as a fish is caught ; perhaps they give out that it has escaped into the jungle, and they will rush out of the house to circumvent and secure it there ; perhaps they will say it has been carried away over seas to unknown lands, and will all set to and play at paddling a boat to follow it.

But more generally the operation is made a more simple one. The manangs rush around the Pagar Api as hard as they can, singing a not unpleasing chant, until one of them falls on the floor and remains motionless ; the others sit down. The bystanders cover the motionless manang with a blanket, and wait whilst his spirit is supposed to hie away to Hades, or wherever the erring soul has been carried, and to bring it back. Presently he revives, looks vacantly about like a man just waking out of sleep, then he rises with his right hand clenched as if holding something. That hand contains the soul ; and the manang proceeds to the patient, and returns it to the body through the crown of the head, muttering at the same time a few words of incantation.

This nangkap semengat, ‘catching the soul,’ is the great end, to which all that has preceded is only preliminary, and which only a fully equipped manang is competent to perform. As the devouring demon is supposed to be driven away by the magical arts and charms of the manang, so the soul is allured into submission to him by his persuasive invitations and melodious cadences. And as he approaches the point of accomplishing this grand feat of spiritual power, he sings thus : —


** Trehai pMia nepan di lamha kitap,
Semen gat lari nengah lengkap,
A ntu ngagai jay a jayap .


Trehai puna nepan di lamha midong,
Semengat lari nengah darong,
A ntu ngagai ningah darong,


Trehai puna nepan di lamha pulu,
Semengat lari nengah mungu,
A ntu ngagai amhis teransu,


Trehai puna nepan di lamha jita,
Semengat lari niki tangga,
A ntu ngagai ny an nda meda*


Medicine Men and Women. 275


Nyau dicdu Ini Betik enggo rarik pulong temiang,
Nyau dialu Ini Jurei enggo lukai redak tenchang,
Nyau dialu Ini Menyaia enggo tuba ban sinang,
Nyau dialu Ini Mampu enggo resu garu tulang,
Dikurong Ini Impong di benong tajau bujang,
Ditutup enggo Keliling gong selang,
Dikungkong enggo Kawat panjai Kelinghang,
Ditambit enggo sabit bekait punggang,
Niki ka tuchong Rabong rarengang.


The dove flies and lights on the kitap ” sapling,
The soul escapes along the hollow valley,
The demon pursues in dishevelled haste.


The dove flies and lights on the medong^* sapling,
The soul escapes through the ravine,
The demon pursues through the ravine.

The dove flies and lights on the pulu ” sapling,

The soul escapes along the hill,


As the demon pursues, let him stumble.


The dove flies and lights on the jita ^* sapling,
The soul runs to climb the ladder (of house).
The pursuing demon sees it no more.


” It is met by Grandmother Betik,’*
With a long stick of big knotted bambu.
It is met by Grandmother Jurei,**
With finely powdered lukai *• bark.
It is met by Grandmother Menyaia,**
With the acrid smelling tuba,^^
It is met by Grandmother Mampu,**
With the gum of the bone like gharu.
It is inclosed by Grandmother Impong,”
In a brightly shining jar.
It is covered with a round brass gong.
It is tied with wire of many circles.
It is secured with a chain fastened at the ends.
It ascends to the top Rabong *’ looming grand in the distance.


” One function remains to complete the cure : the sacrificial fowl must be waved over the patient. And as the manang does this, he sings a special invocation, which I give as a sample of the manang traditional lore, and of Dyak belief on the subject of sacrifice : —


^’* Dyak names for jungle trees.


IB Names of ancient manangs, or of manang tutelary deities.


‘• The lukai bark when burnt emits a very pungent smell, and the root of the tuba (Derris eliptica) possesses well-known poisonous properties, and evil spirits are thought to have a wholesome dread of both.


‘^ Rabong and Sintong, two adjoining mountains on the Upper Kapuas in Dutch Borneo.


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


** The speckled fowl for sacrificial waving and cleansing.
For doctoring, for resisting,
For sweeping, for atoning.
For exchanging, for buying,
A substitute for the feet, substitute for the hands,
A substitute for the face, substitute for the life.


** Ye fowls enable us to escape the curse muttered unheard :
To neutralize the spittle (of the enejny) ;
To correct the speech of the angry despiser ;
To make nought the visions of half waking moments ;
To scare away evil dreams for ever ;
To make harmle^ one*s ghost ^® passing the farm ;
To neutralize the ill omen bird flying across the path ;
To cut off the katupong’s flight coming from the left ;
To cover its screeching ; — a bird of dread effect ;
To make harmless the pangkas^ a hot tempered bird ;
To counteract the omen of the low voiced deer.
Hence ye fowls are for having and for offiering.


” But will not bodies of birds suffice ?


The bodies of the top knot jungle fowl which fills the lowland with long and gentle whistling,
The bodies of long necked cranes covering the hill,
The bodies of argus pheasants upon the hillocks of the plain,
The bodies of fire back pheasants filling the lowland jungle,
The bodies of blue kingfishers a pool full just coming from pecking on the big spreading rock,
The bodies of one kneed moorhens filling the gully,
The bodies of red beaked hornbills filling the ravine,
The bodies of adjutant birds in the swamps, like kings with covered feet,
The bodies of owls, a flock, sitting without doffing their hats ;
Many may be the birds, and many the minas,
Bodies of hornbills, and bodies of green parrots ;
But all are inefflectual for waving, for offering :
They are not- worth a fowl as big as the fingers.
That is the thing for waving and for offering.


” Ye fowls were ever the race ever the seed (for sacrifice),
From our grandfathers and grandmothers,
Froni ancient times, from chiefs of old,
Down to your fathers and mothers :
Because we give you rice, we breed you,
We give you food, give you nourishment.
We hang for you nests, we make for you roosts ;
We make you coops, we make you baskets :
Hence ye fowls are used for substituting for buying,
Substitutes for the face, substitutes for the life.


^* Thejtda is the ghost of a living man seen by another person.


Medicine Men and Women. 277


‘* Ye fowls are possessed with much foolishness and mischief :
Ye have many sins, many uncleannesses,
Many evils and much viciousness,
Ye are in debt for sugar-cane as long as a pole ;
In debt for plantains a long bunch ;
In debt for potatoes got by planting ;
In debt for melons with flattened ends ;
In debt for pumpkins one man*s load ;
In debt for kladi growing to perfection ;
In debt for maize a handful or two ;
In debt for shoots of the moon cucumber ;
In debt for paddy a deep big bin ;
In debt for rice in the earthenware jar ;
Hence ye fowls are for waving and for offering.


*’ The ubah tree falls upon the kumpang sapling.
Ye fowls have many crimes and many debts ;
Ye bear the spirits of sickness, spirits of illness ;
The spirits of fever and ague, spirits of cold and headache ;
The spirits of cold, the spirits of the forest ;
Ye bear them, ye are filled with them ;
Ye pile them up, ye put them in a basket ;
Ye carry them, ye take them clear away ;
Ye conduct them oft, ye gather them ;
Ye drag them along, ye lift them up ;
Ye embrace them, ye carry them in your bosom ;
Ye fowls have beaks as sharp as augers ;
Your feathers are like fringes of red thread ;
Your ear feathers like sharpened stakes of bambu :
Your wings flap like folds of red cloth ;
Your tails are bent downwards like dragging ropes ;
Your crops weigh heavily like many iron hawkbills ;
Your nails are like sharp iron knives.


*’ Ye fowls scare away sickness, and make it run
To the opening dawn of the morning.
To the end of the further heavens.
To where kingfishers ever screech,
To the end of the muntjac*s run.
To the place of the setting sun.
To the birds fanned by fire.
To Jawa the settled country,
To the pebbly shallows of inland waters,
To the hill of burning fire.
To the end of Lalang hill of Hades.”*




So now we have nothing to hurt us, nothing wrong ;
We are in health, we are in comfort ;


1′ There are added here the names of many supposed places in Hades to which the evil spirits of disease are called upon to retreat with all speed ; but they are untranslateable.


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


We are long-lived and strong-lived,


Hard as stone, hard of head ;


Long as the waters, long of life.


Like the waters of Ini Inda,**


Like the stones of the Dewata.*


Like a pool five (fathoms) deep ;


Like a stretch of river beyond eyeshot.


Like the land turtle’s burrowed bed,


Like the waterfall of Telanjing Dara,^^


Like the land of Pulang Gana ^


Like the cave bed of Raja Sua **


Like hills fixed by the gods.


Like the moon at its full,


Like the cluster of three stars ;


As high as heaven, as high as the firmament.


** There is nothing wrong, nothing to hurt ;


When sleeping have dreams of strings of fish ;


Lying down, dream of bathing in the shallow pebbly streams ;


When dosing, dream of a branch of ramhutans ;


Dream of langsatSy squeezed in the hand ;


Dream of Ini Impong inclosing you in a pelawan jar ;


Dream of Ini Sayoh keeping you safe for ever ;


Dream of living in the heart of the moon ;


Dream of gazing up into the heights above ;


Dream of the summit of the eternal Rabong.


** This invocation of good dreams ends the ceremony, and is supposed to complete the cure.


” The foregoing is a general account of all pelian, or manang performances ; but they distinguish different kinds according to the fancy of the manang, the violence of the disease, and the ability of the patient to pay. These are marked by special ceremonies over and above the general course of invocations, song and enchantment which are common to all.

The pelian then is divided into the following : —


** I. Betepas, ‘ Sweeping.’ At the time of the birth of each individual on earth, a flower is supposed to grow up in Hades, and to live a life parallel to that of the man. If the flower continues to grow well, the man enjoys good robust health ; if it droops, the man droops ; so whenever the man has unpleasant dreams, or feels unwell two or three consecutive days, the flower in Hades is said to be in a bad condition, the manang is called in to weed, cleanse and sweep round it; and so set the compound earthly and unearthly life on its right course again. This is the first, the lowest and the cheapest function of the manang. In this he does not * catch the soul,’ as is done in all others.


2^ Names or titles used of deities in general.


3^ Telanjing Dara is said to be a female mythical spirit who lives at a waterfall, and who is ever on the watch to take people away to the land of death.


** Pulang Gana is the spirit who presides over the land and cultivation. ^3 Raja Sua is the spirit who presides over rivers.


Medicine Men and Women, 279


” 2. Berua, * Swinging.’ The manang sits in a swing, and rocks himself with the idea of knocking and driving away the disease.


” 3. Berenchah, * making a rush.’ The door between the private room and the open verandah of the house is thrown open, and the manangs march backwards and forwards from room and verandah beating together a pair of swords, which is interpreted as making a grand charge into the midst of the evil spirits, and scattering them right and left.


** 4. Betanam Pentik, ‘ Planting a Pentik.’ A Pentik is a piece of wood very roughly carved into the figure of a man, a sort of rude doll, which is stuck into the ground at the foot of the ladder of the house with the object of divining the fate of the sick man. It is inserted into the ground in the evening ; and if it remains till the morning in a straight position, well and good, recovery is certain ; but if it be inclined either to the right or left, it is an omen of death.


” 5. Bepancha, * Making a Pancha.’ A Pancha is a swing erected on the ‘ tanju,’ or platform in front of the house, and the manang swings in it, as in Berua, to express the action of * kicking away ‘ the malady. An offering to the spirits is laid on the platform.


” 6. Ngelemhayan, * Taking a long sight.’ A number of planks are laid about the verandah, and the manangs walk upon them chanting their incantations ; and when in the pretended swoon, one is supposed to sail away over rivers and seas to find the soul and recover it.


” 7. Bebayak, * Making a Bayak,’ i.e., an iguana. Some cooked rice is moulded into the shape of an iguana which is covered over with cloths. The iguana, or perhaps his congener, the alligator, is supposed to eat up the evil spirits which cause the disease.


** 8. Memuai ka Sabayan, * Making a journey to Hades.’ The manangs with hats on their heads march in procession up and down the house, during which their spirits are’ supposed to speed away to Hades, and bring back all kinds of medicinal charms, and talismans of health, as well as the wandering and diseased soul. At daylight they go into the jungle to * catch the soul.’


” 9. Betiang Garong, * Making a post of or for the Manes.’ A swing is constructed on the roof-ridge of the house, and the manang performs his swinging there. An offering is also made on the ridge.


** 10. Munoh Antu, * Killing the Demon.’ Occasionally the manangs will declare, of some unusual and obstinate disease, that an evil spirit called Buyu is the cause of it, and must be killed. A goodly number of them is called together, and the feat is performed in this way. The patient is taken out of the room, and laid on the verandah, and covered with a net ; the manangs walk in procession up and down the whole length of the house, chanting their incantations to entice the demon within the charmed circle of their magical influence. This occupies some time, for the spirit may be far away on a journey, or fishing, or hunting ; and at intervals one of them peeps in at the door to see if he has arrived. In due time the demon is there, and then the manangs themselves enter the room, which is quite dark. Presently sounds of scuffling, of clashing of weapons, and of shouting are heard by the Dyaks outside, and soon after the door is opened, and the demon is said to be dead.


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


He was cheated into coming to plague his victim as usual, and lo, instead of the sick and helpless patient, he encounters the crafty and mighty manangs, who have killed him ; and as proof of the reality of the deed, lights are brought, and the manangs point out spots of blood about the floor, and occasionally the corpse itself is shewn in the shape of a dead monkey, or mayas. The trick is a very shallow one, and is managed thus : some time in the day the manangs procure blood from a fowl, or other animal, or may be from their own bodies, mix it with water in a bambu to prevent congealing, smuggle it into the room, and scatter it on the floor in the dark, which they can safely do in the absence ^ of all witnesses of the proceeding. Neither lights nor outsiders are permitted in the room, on the plea that, under such circumstances, the demon would not be enticed to enter. The trick has often been detected, and the performer openly accused of imposture, and the result is that it is not now practised so often as in former times. When this feat of ghostly warfare is over, the * pelian ‘ is proceeded with in the usual way till the morning hours.


**ii. Beburong Raya, ‘Making, or doing the Adjutant Bird.’ The distinctive mark of this is the procession round and round the house, the manangs being covered with native cloths like cloaks, in which, I suppose, they profess to personate the bird.


” 12. Bebandong Api, * Displaying fire.’ The patient is laid on the verandah, and several small fires made round him. The manangs pretend to dissect his body, and fan the flames towards him to drive away the sickness.


*’ 13. Ninting Lanjan. Two swings are constructed along the whole length of the house, and the swinging farce is gone through in another form.


** 14. Begiling Lantai. * Wrapping with Lantai,’ or floor laths. One of the manangs personates a dead man. He is vested with every article of Dyak dress and ornament, and lays himself down as dead, is then bound up in mats, and wrapped up with slender bambu laths tied together with rotans, and taken out of the house, and laid on the ground. He is supposed to be dead. After about an hour, the other manangs loose him, and bring him to life ; and as he recovers, so the sick person is supposed to recover.


** These comprise the range of Dyak medical magic. The Betepas, the Berua, Berenchah, Betanam Pentik, are the forms most commonly used : the Bepancha, Betiang Garong and Munoh Antu are rarely resorted to ; and the others hardly ever heard of now ; but altogether they form an ascending scale of * pelian ‘ functions rising in pretended medicinal virtue from the Betepas to Begiling Lantai ; and they demand a corresponding scale of increasing fees, which are paid over to the manang on the spot as soon as the performance is over.


** To qualify the practitioner to work this system of mixed symbolism and deceit, an act of public initiation is necessary. The aspirant for the office must first commit to memory a sufficient amount of traditional lore to take a share in the incantations in company with older manangs ; but before he can accomplish the more important parts, or catch the soul, in other words, do the more audacious tricks, he must be initiated by one or more of the following ceremonies : —


**The first is Besudi, which seems to mean feeling, touching.


Medicine Men and Women, 281


The neophyte sits in the verandah as a sick man would, and the other manangs belian over him the whole night. By this he is supposed to become endowed with the power of touch to enable him to feel where and what are the maladies of the body, and so apply the requisite charms. It is the lowest grade of manang, and obtainable by the cheapest fees.


** The second is Bekliti, or * Opening.’ A whole night’s incantation is gone through, as in all pelians, and in the morning the great function of initiation is carried out. The manangs lead the neophyte into a private apartment curtained off from public gaze by long pieces of native woven cloth ; and there, as they assert, they cut his head open, take out his brains, wash and restore them, to give him a clear mind to penetrate into the mysteries of evil spirits, and the intricacies of disease ; they insert gold dust into his eyes to give him keenness and strength of sight powerful enough to see the soul wherever it may have wandered ; they plant barbed hooks on the tips of his fingers to enable him to seize the soul and hold it fast ; and lastly they pierce his heart with an arrow to make him tender-hearted, and full of sympathy with the sick and suffering. In reality, a few symbolic actions representing these operations are all that is done. A coco-nut shell, for
instance, is laid upon the head and split open instead of the head itself, &c. The man is now a fully qualified practitioner, competent to practice all parts of his deceitful craft. He is now no longer an Iban,^ a name by which all Dyaks speak of themselves, he is a Manang. He is lifted into a different rank of being. And when engaged in their functions, they make a point of emphasizing this distinction by constant use of the two words in contrast to each other.


** A third grade of manang rank is obtainable by the ambitious who have the will and means to make the outlay : they may become manang bangun manang enjun, ‘ manangs waved upon, manangs trampled on.’ As in other cases, this involves a night’s pelian, but the specialities conferring this M.D. of Dyak quackery and imposture are three. At the beginning of the performance, the manangs march round and round the aspirant for the higher honour, and wave about and over him bunches of the pinang flower, an action which, all over Borneo I believe, is considered of great medicinal and benedictional value in this and many other similar connections. This is the Bangun. Then in the middle of the verandah a tall jar is placed having a short ladder fastened on either side of it, and connected at the top. At various intervals during the night the manangs^ leading the new candidate, march him up one ladder and down the other; but what that action is supposed to symbolize, or what special virtue to confer, I have not been able to discover. To wind up this play at mysteries, the man lays himself flat on the floor, and the manangs walk over him, and trample upon him, to knock into him, perhaps, all the manang power which is to be obtained. This is the Enjun. It is regarded as a certificate of medical superiority, and the manang who has passed the ordeal will on occasions boast that he is no ordinary spirit-controller and soul-catcher, but a manang bangun, manang enjun.


•* See p. 40.


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


” Women as well as men may. become manangs. In former times, I believe, all manangs on their initiation assumed female attire for the rest of their lives ; but it is rarely adopted now, at least on the coast districts ; and I have only met with one such. If you ask the reason of this strange custom, the only answer forthcoming is, that the spirits or deities who first taught Dyaks the knowledge of the powers of manangism, gave them an injunction to assume the woman’s garb. It will be observed that most of the beings mentioned or invoked by manangs are addressed as Ini, * Grandmother,’ which perhaps implies that all the special deities of the manang world are supposed to be of the female sex, and, to be consistent with this belief, it might have been deemed necessary for the manang to assume the outward figure and the dress of his goddess.


** The Malays also have their manangs, who are called Bayoh, while the ceremony is Berasik, but I believe the better instructed Mahometans consider the practice of it altogether inconsistent with the true religion of Islam.


** It has been said that the Pawang and the Poyang of the Malay Peninsula, and the Datus and Si Bassos of the Battaks of Sumatra, and the medicinemen of Borneo, are all offsprings and ramifications of the Shaman priests, the wizard physician of Central Asia.


The manang of the Dyaks certainly contributes his share to the proof of the assertion. A main point of the Shamanistic creed appears to have been that every object and force in nature has its * spirit,’ which could be invoked by the worshipper to confer things either good or bad. This entirely corresponds with Dyak religion ; the manang, in certain of his functions, calls upon the spirits of the sun and moon, the spirits in heaven and earth, spirits in trees, hills, forests, lowlands, and rivers, to come to his aid ; and if they are not equal to the * 300 spirits of heaven, and 600 spirits of the earth ‘ of Shamanism, they are a goodly company which the manang professes to bring from all quarters to the house of his patient. Again, the Shaman priest on particular occasions worked himself into an ecstasy ; the manang runs round and round, and pretends to fall in a faint, at which time his greatest power is exercised. And then the seat of the Shaman deities was placed on * the summit of the mountains of the moon,’ the central pivot of the earth ; the special deities of the manangs, as before mentioned, dwell on Rabong and Sintong, Mountains in Central Borneo; and when waving the sacrificial fowl, the last and best wish the manang expresses for his patient is that he may have * dreams of Rabong and dreams of Sintong.’


** But in these days, in practice, the manang answers to the idea of the Doctor, rather than to that of the Priest ; for his presence is not necessarily required for any purposes except that of treating the sick. At certain great religious functions of the Dyaks, such as the sacrifice of propitiation to the earth deities for a good harvest, or the greatest of all Dyak celebrations, the sacrificial festival to Singalang Burong, or at marriages, he is not of necessity the officiant. He may possibly be ; but not because he is a manang, but because he has given his attention to that part of ancient Dyak customs, or because he has the credit of being a lucky man. Generally, other Dyaks are the ministers of the office on these occasions ; the one requisite qualification


Medicine Men and Wornen. 283


being ability to chant the traditional story and invocations which accompany the offering and ceremonies. On the other hand, the fact that at his initiation he obtains a new generic name, and is believed to enter into a new rank of being, looks like the idea of succession to an ancient priesthood.”


On the Lingga once a ” Dyak doctor had engaged to attend on a sick man. and in the event of his remaining alive three days, a payment in jars was to be made as a fee. The three days expired, and the payment was made, when the patient died; upon which the son of the dead man, an impetuous young lad, demanded the restoration of the jars— a request the doctor refused to accede to. The son drew his parang, and exclaiming ” My name may return to the skies! ” cut down the doctor, and severely wounded his son. Though neither was killed, the former received some fearful wounds over the face and shoulders. The case was heard before the whole of the population, and the culprit fined three jars, or about £24.” (Brooke i. 97.) Sir Sp. St. John (ii. 133) mentions the case of a Bukar father who on the death of his child accused the medicine-man of wilfully causing its death and killed him on the spot.


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


the poor sick person was lying in a corner of the room, being disturbed continually by the operators, who waved the flower of the areca palm over him in a wild and witch-like manner. The sight gave rise to painful feelings, and I was grieved to see such a nice people so thoroughly given over to these pagan practices, and placing implicit faith in such moonshine.” (W. M. Crocker, S.G., Nos. 120 and 121.)


General Sea Dyak Medicine Beliefs.


*’ I had a curious case not long since. A man from Banting came to ask for medicine for his brother, who, he said, was unable to move his lower limbs, and that part of his thighs were falling off in pieces. I inquired particularly as to whether he had ever received any blow on the spine ; or had a fall ? No. Then what was the commencement ? It came of itself. Afterwards, I found out the man had been trimming or lopping a tree on his farm, called * rara,’ and hereby hangs a tale. This rara tree is an antu tree, and, generally speaking, nothing will grow under or near it. It is forbidden amongst the Dyaks to cut down this tree, unless they first take a hatchet, which they carefully wrap round with cotton ; they then strike as hard as they can, and leave the axe in ; then they call upon the antu, either to leave the tree, or give them the sign that he does not wish the tree to be cut down ; then they go home. Next day they visit the tree, and if they find the axe lying on the ground they know the tree is inhabited, and don’t attempt to cut it down ; if the axe still remains in, they can without danger^ cut the tree down. I say it is no antu, but strychnine, which exists in the sap to a large percentage. Now so long as the sap is running, no axe could long remain in, but must necessarily be cast out by the action of heat, and the expansion of the gutta exuding. If the axe remains in, it only proves that the tree is not lively, but ready to die. The gutta, falling on the flesh, is taken up by the absorbents, and so impregnates and poisons the whole body.” (Crossland, Miss. Life, 1868, p. 214.)


An old warrior told Sir Charles Brooke : ” That many years ago a party
of Sibuyau Dyaks, mostly his own near relations, and all known to him, were walking in the jungle, when one man, to their sudden surprise, ran to a distance from the rest, as if he had been seized by the spirits ; he climbed a tree and remained in the woods, while his companions returned home. After the man had been absent several years, living as an Antu, he returned to his family, covered with hair like an orang-outan. After some months the hair fell off, and he became like the others again. This was narrated with a serious and grave face, and he likewise assured me he knew the man in question.” (i. 41.)


The Rev. Mr. Horsburgh who lived among the Balaus relates a story which may confirm the above : ** On one occasion, when walking in company with two Dyak boys, Kassa and Biju, Kassa told me that his grandfather had become a Prince among the miases or orang-outans, and that one day Biju spied this mias in a tree, and not knowing that it had formerly been a man,


28 Compare this with Antu tree mentioned by Mr. Grant, supra, p. 265.


Medicine Men and Women. 287


threw a stick at it and tried to frighten it. The mias, indignant at such an insult, exerted its hidden malignant influence and smote the offender with a severe fever, from which with difficulty he recovered. On asking Biju if such were the case, he admitted the truth of the story, adding such details as left no doubt that he had once thrown a stick at a mias, and had had a severe fever after doing so. * But how did you know it was your grandfather, Kassa ?* I asked. With unbounding faith, grave, earnest countenance, and large bright eye, he answered, * Oh, sir, most certainly it was ! ‘ What logic could stand against this ?” (p. 23.)


Perhaps this may have something to do with Sir Chas. Brooke’s
statement later on (i. 156) : ** The natives, both Malay and Sea Dyak, have a method of seeking internal satisfaction (I cannot explain it by other words in my limited vocabulary) by communing in private with the spirits of the woods ; the Dyaks call it Nampok, and the Malays, Bertapar, They stay away many days, feeding on little or nothing, and if they see any living person during the time, they come home, and afterwards start afresh. Doubtless it does them good, soothing their simple minds.”


Sir Chas. Brooke tells the following: ** I have always made it a point to
attend, with considerable respect to strange people’s practices, for it is as well not too abruptly to laugh at superstitious modes, however  far-fetched they may seem. On one occasion, some of the Malanau people had laid the dry leaf of a palm, peculiarly folded up, within a few yards of my house, owing to some one having fallen down on this spot and been injured. The Antus
(spirits) in consequence had to be appeased. Antus, or no Antus, I did not approve of the vicinity of this leaf to my abode, so picked it up and threw it away. I had been warned that anyone touching it would get a swollen arm. By some unpleasant coincidence, within two days of touching the leaf, my arm became inflamed and swollen for more than a fortnight afterwards.”


(i. 79′)


A correspondent of the S.G., No. 122, p. 2, gives the following account of a method of satisfying the ire of malevolent spirits. “On the night of the 2nd inst. it blew a heavy gale, first from the south eastward, then veered round to the westward. Rain descended in torrents for about two hours, and lightning was incessant from all directions, and so appalling that the native women and children ran out of their houses and rushed wildly about the different kampongs. This disturbance was the cause of an old and nearly forgotten custom being resorted to. During the force of the gale several men in the lower kampongs rushed about with swords cutting down fruit trees and otherwise slashing and damaging property ; not only of their own, but that of their neighbours. This act of vengeance was supposed to frustrate the evil spirit of the storm, who otherwise would destroy both life and property by a curse called Kudi, or in Kuching dialect Bud. A few days after the storm had abated, the losers of the property complained that they did not see the wisdom of this old custom, and hoped the Government would in future have it abolished. The Malay chiefs strongly seconded this proposal, allowing that in bygone days it had been a custom, but then, they state, their gardens were of little value ; it was different now, as labour was dear and everything was of




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


value in the market. It was found that these desperate men had cut down 225 trees of different kinds, for vvhich they had to pay the value.”


A curious request was made to Sir Hugh Low by a Land Dyak : ” It was
that of a young woman who, being married to an old man, was childless, and she requested me to give her some medicine which would cause her to have children, which she felt persuaded I could do.*’ (Low, p. 308.)


The Rev Mr. Crossland also says : ** I have funny requests sometimes.
A man will ask for medicine to make his dog brave to fight the wild pig ; or for his paddy, that blight may not touch it.” (Miss. Field, i860, p. 92.)


” Only last night, after bathing, I was combing my hair, and threw some loose hair into the fire. One of my friends, the second son of Api Gurnong, said, * Tuan, we never throw our hair into the fire ; for, if we did, we should have a sick head.’ I asked if into water ? * No, we should have a sick head.’ On the earth ? * Yes ; no sickness there.’ ” (Crossland, Miss. Life, 1873,


P- 54I-)


** I found out a short time ago that I had been ignorant of a peculiar custom observed by the Undups. I used to go and visit my patients, and cheer them by telling them they seemed improving, or the reverse, just as I should do in England. I said to a lad, * That looks healthy ; now don’t you go sitting over the fire, or you will be making good bad.’ I left him. Next day I found him sitting over the fire wrapped up in a blanket, the picture of misery. I soon found he was in the sulks and left him in them. When he was quite well he said to me, * You were a stupid to go and say before me that the rash was good, just like a little child that knows nothing.’ * So it was good,’ I replied. * Good or bad, you should not have said a word to me, whatever you said to others/ said he. * So that was the reason you went into the sulks like a bear,’ I said. * Yes, and enough too,’ he replied; * you were a fool and I was angry.’ A Dyak never admits he is well, nor can you say so to him. So anything eaten is never praised.” (Crossland, Gospel Missy., Nov., 1871, p. 163.)


** A man who has been suffering from a bad illness, on recovery will often change his name, in the hope that the evil spirit who caused his illness will be unable to recognise him under his new name. In such a case his former name is never again mentioned.” (Hose, J.A.I, xxiii. 165.)


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