CHAPTER XXXII

AGRICULTURAL PURSUITS - FACTS ABOUT ULU-OTS, THE WILD MEN OF BORNEO - TAKING LEAVE OF THE INTERESTING DUHOI - A VISIT TO THE UPPER KATINGANS - DANCING - FRIENDLY NATIVES - DOWN THE KATINGAN RIVER

When about to make a new ladang one fowl is sacrificed in the morning and the blood, with the usual addition of rice, is thrown up in the air by the husband or wife as a present to antoh, the meat being reserved for home consumption. On arrival at the selected place they carry the sharpening stone some distance into the utan where a portion of the same mixture is applied to it. A few weeks are devoted to cutting down the jungle, and then about a month must pass before the felled trees, bushes, and vines are dry enough to burn.

On the day chosen for burning the wood a winnowing tray, on which the outline of a human form has been crudely drawn with charcoal, is hung in the house. The picture represents a good antoh named Putjong and he is solicited to make the wind blow. When starting the fire every one yells "hoi," thereby calling the winds. One day, or even a shorter time, may suffice to burn the accumulations on the cleared space, and when the work is finished all the participants must bathe.

A simple house is then erected for occupancy while doing the necessary work incident to the raising of crops. The work of clearing the ground is immediately begun and completed in three or four weeks. Then comes planting of the paddi preceded by a sacrifice of pig or fowl. The blood, with the usual addition, is presented to antoh and also smeared on the seed, which may amount to ten baskets full. All the blood having been disposed of in this manner, the meat is put over the fire to cook, and at the noon-day meal is eaten with boiled rice.

In their agricultural pursuits people help each other, taking different fields in turn, and at planting time thirty men may be engaged making holes in the ground with long sticks, some of which may have rattles on one end, a relic of former times, but every one uses the kind he prefers. After them follow an equal number of women, each carrying a small basket of paddi which she drops with her fingers into the holes, where it remains uncovered. They do not plant when rain is falling. After planting is finished, usually in one day, they repair to the kampong, have their evening meal, and drink tuak until midnight.

In five months the paddi is ready for cutting - a very busy time for the people. There are perhaps fifty ladangs and all must be harvested. Husband, wife, and children all work, and the family may have to labour by themselves many weeks before helpers come. In the afternoon of the day previous to commencing harvest work the following ceremony is performed, to provide for which the owner and his wife have brought new rice from the ladang as well as the kapatongs, which in the number of two to five have been guarding the crop.

Inside the room a couple of winnowing trays are laid on the floor and on these are placed the kapatongs in recumbent position, axes, parangs, the small knives used for cutting paddi and other knives, spears for killing pigs as well as those for fish, fish-hooks and lines, the sharpening stone and the hammer used in making parangs and other iron utensils. The guardians of the ladang and the implements are to be regaled with new paddi.

Blood of pig and fowls mixed with new rice having been duly offered to antoh, the mixture is smeared on the kapatongs and implements and a small quantity is also placed on a plate near the trays. Here also stands a dish of boiled rice and meat, the same kind of food which is eaten later by the family. The owner with wife and children having concluded their meal, all others present and as many as care to come are welcome to partake of new rice and meat and to drink tuak.

On the following day they go to the ladang to cut paddi, but barely half the number that took part in the feast assist in the work. The first rice spear that is cut is preserved to be taken home and tied underneath the roof outside the door. This is done in order to prevent birds, monkeys, rusa, or babi from eating the paddi. At the ladang rice is boiled, and on this occasion the family and their guests eat at the same time. When the first baskets of new paddi arrive at the storehouse and the grain is poured out on the floor, a little blood from a fowl sacrificed is smeared on it after the necessary offering to antoh has been thrown up into the air.

Upon the death of a man who was well-to-do, the body is kept for a period of seven days in the coffin, within the family dwelling-house, but for a poor man one day and night is long enough. Many people gather for the funeral. There is little activity in the day time, but at night the work, as the natives call it, is performed, some weeping, others dancing. When the room is large the feast is held in the house, otherwise, outside. Fire is kept burning constantly during the night, but not in the daytime. Many antohs are supposed to arrive to feast on the dead man. People are afraid of these supernatural associations but not of the departed soul. Formerly, when erecting a funeral house for an important man, an attendant in the next life was provided for him by placing a slave, alive, in the hole dug for one of the upright posts, the end of the post being set directly over him.