CHAPTER XXXI

AMONG THE DUHOI (OT-DANUMS) - RICH COLLECTIONS - THE KAPATONGS - THE BATHING OF DAYAK INFANTS - CHRISTMAS EVE - THE FLYING BOAT - MARRIAGE CEREMONIES

As we approached the kampong Kuala Braui, our next objective, the men in our prahus began yelling in time, in a manner surprisingly like a college yell. We were received at the landing float by the "onder" of the place, a nervous and shy but intelligent looking Duhoi. Pajamas graced his tall form as an outward sign that he was more than an ordinary Dayak, and he wore the same suit every day for a week without washing it. He spoke very few Malay words, which made intercourse with him difficult. Very gentle and retiring, by those unacquainted with the Dayaks he would be regarded as unlikely to possess head-hunting proclivities; nevertheless, twenty years previous to my visit, this same man avenged members of his family who had been deprived of their heads by Penyahbongs, killing two of the band and preserving their heads. Ten years before he had presented them to Controleur Baren on the Kayan River, thus depriving me of the chance I had hoped for on my arrival.

The small kampong on the river bank, which here is over twenty metres high and very steep, is new, and a primitive pasang grahan was in course of erection. Six men were much entertained by the novel work of putting up my tent and received tobacco as remuneration. The place lies near an affluent from the north, called Braui, which is more difficult of ascent than the Samba on account of its many kiams. The kapala of the kampong, with two prahus, had ascended it in twenty days. The Dayaks told me that if they wanted gold they were able to wash much in these rivers when the water is low.

I heard here of large congregations of wild pigs, up to 500 or 1,000. When the herds, called dundun, have eaten all the fruit at one place they move to another, feeding and marching, following one leader. They can be heard at a great distance, and there is time to seek safety by climbing a tree or running. When hunting pigs in the customary way, with dogs and spears, men have been killed by these animals, though the victims are never eaten. A fine rusa with large horns was killed one day when crossing the river, and I preserved the head. It seemed to me to have shorter hair on the back and sides than this deer usually has, and was larger. The flesh tasted extremely well, in fact much better than that of the ordinary variety. During our stay here, in December, a strong wind blew almost every day, late in the afternoon, not always bringing rain, and quite chilly after sunset.

When Schwaner made his memorable exploration in 1847 he did not come up the Samba, but ascended the Katingan River, returning to Western Borneo over the mountains that bear his name. Controleur Michielsen, in 1880, was the first European to visit the Samba River, and since then it has been ignored by explorers. It is part of a large region occupied by the Ot-Danums, a name which signifies people living at the sources (ot) of the rivers (danum = water, river). They are found chiefly around the headwaters of the Kapuas and the Kahayan, and on the Samba and Braui. Some also live on the upper tributaries to the Katingan, for instance on the Hiran. On all these rivers they may number as many as 5,000, about 1,200 of which should be located on the Samba and the Braui. The last figures are fairly correct, but the first ones are based only on information derived from native sources.

On the Samba, where I met the Ot-Danums, they are known as Duhoi, a name applied by themselves and other tribes. They are still in a primitive condition, though in outward appearance beginning to show the effect of foreign influence. While a few wear chavats and sometimes becoming rattan caps, nearly all cut their hair, and they no longer have sumpitans. Higher up the river is a Malay kampong consisting of settlers from the Western Division. Occasional traders also bring about inevitable changes, though as yet few of these Dayaks speak Malay.

The Kahayans who live to the east of them always liked to come to the Samba, often marrying Duhoi wives, and they also exert an influence. In intellect they are superior to the Duhoi as well as in knowledge of worldly affairs, in that respect resembling the Malays, though they have none of their objectionable qualities. One or two of them are generally present in a kampong, and I always found them useful because they speak Malay well besides being truthful and reliable. Some of these are converts to Christianity through the efforts of the Protestant mission on the Kahayan River, which has begun to extend its activity to the Samba by means of such Kahayans.

I prevailed on the "onder" to call the people from three kampongs above, promising presents of rice. He wrote the order himself in Arabic letters and sent it on, and late the following day twenty-five Duhoi arrived, among them four women and several children. Many showed indications of having had smallpox, not in a scarred face, but by the loss of an eye; one man was totally blind from the same cause. In order to induce them to dance I bought a domestic pig, which was brought from the ladang and in the customary way was left on the ground in the middle of the dancing place. Four men attended to the gongs which had unusually fine tones.