The controleur told me that his large district, the northernmost part of Dutch Borneo, called Bulungan, comprised "about 1,100 square miles." He estimated the number of inhabitants to be about 60,000, roughly speaking, 50 to each mile, but the population here as elsewhere follows the rivers. The Dayaks are greatly in majority, the Malays inhabiting the Sultan's kampong and a couple of small settlements in the vicinity. He had travelled a good deal himself and taken census where it was possible. His statistics showed that among the Dayaks the men outnumber the women somewhat, and that children are few. In one small kampong there were no children. The same fact has been noted in other parts of Borneo. The hard labour of the women has been advanced as a reason. Doctor A.W. Nieuwenhuis believes that inborn syphilis is the cause of the infertility of the Bahu on the Upper Mahakam. Whatever the reason, as a matter of fact the Dayak women are not fertile. The chief of the Kayan kampong, Kaburau, at the time of my visit had a fourth wife on probation for two years, having previously dismissed three because they bore him no children.
With the Malays the condition is just the reverse. Their total number in the Bulungan district is perhaps only one-tenth that of Dayaks, but with them women preponderate and there are many children. Such is the case in the rest of Dutch Borneo, and is one reason why the Malays ultimately must dominate.
The Sultan had for weeks been preparing to celebrate the marriage of his younger brother, which event occurred before I left, and the festivities were to continue for ten days. As a feature of the occasion, two young Malay girls presented a dance which they evidently had not practised sufficiently. Among the company was an old Malay who, according to the testimony of all present, was one hundred and thirty years old. He had lived to see seven sultans and was the ancestor of five generations. His movements were somewhat stiff, but otherwise he was a young-looking old man who, still erect, carried a long stick which he put down with some force at each step. I photographed the Sultan, who donned his official European suit, in which he evidently felt exceedingly uncomfortable. The operation finished, he lifted up the skirts of the long black robe as if to cool himself, and walked hurriedly away toward the house.