It is significant as to the relations of the tribes that not only Bukats and Punans, but also the Saputans, are invited to take part in a great triennial Bahau festival when given at Long Tjehan. Shortly after our arrival we were advised that this great feast, which here is called tasa and which lasts ten days, was to come off immediately at an Oma-Suling kampong, Long Pahangei, further down the river.

Though a journey there might be accomplished in one day, down with the current, three or four times as long would be required for the return. However, as another chance to see such a festival probably would not occur, I decided to go, leaving the sergeant, the soldier collector, and another soldier behind, and two days later we were preparing for departure in three prahus.

What with making light shelters against sun and rain, in Malay called atap, usually erected for long journeys, the placing of split bamboo sticks in the bottom of my prahu, and with the Penihings evidently unaccustomed to such work, it was eight o'clock before the start was made. Pani, a small tributary forming the boundary between the Penihings and the Kayans, was soon left behind and two hours later we passed Long Blu, the great Kayan kampong. The weather was superb and the current carried us swiftly along. The great Mahakam River presented several fine, extensive views, with hills on either side, thick white clouds moving slowly over the blue sky. As soon as we entered the country of the Oma-Suling it was pleasant to observe that the humble cottages of the ladangs had finely carved wooden ornaments standing out from each gable.

We arrived at Long Pahangei (h pronounced as Spanish jota) early in the afternoon. Gongs were sounding, but very few people were there, and no visitors at all, although this was the first day of the feast. This is a large kampong lying at the mouth of a tributary of the same name, and is the residence of a native district kapala. After I had searched everywhere for a quiet spot he showed me a location in a clump of jungle along the river bank which, when cleared, made a suitable place for my tent. Our Penihings were all eager to help, some clearing the jungle, others bringing up the goods as well as cutting poles and bamboo sticks. Evidently they enjoyed the work, pitching into it with much gusto and interest. The result was a nice though limited camping place on a narrow ridge, and I gave each man one stick of tobacco as extra payment.

During our stay here much rain fell in steady downpours lasting a night or half a day. As the same condition existed higher up the river, at times the water rose menacingly near my tent, and for one night I had to move away. But rain in these tropics is never merciless, it seems to me. Back from the coast there is seldom any wind, and in the knowledge that at any time the clouds may give place to brilliant sunshine, it is not at all depressing. Of course it is better to avoid getting wet through, but when this occurs little concern is felt, because one's clothing dries so quickly.

The Oma-Sulings are pleasant to deal with, being bashful and unspoiled. The usual repulsive skin diseases are seldom seen, and the women are attractive. There appears to have been, and still is, much intercourse between the Oma-Sulings and their equally pleasant neighbours to the east, the Long-Glats. Many of the latter came to the feast and there is much intermarrying among the nobles of the two tribes. Lidju, my assistant and friend here, was a noble of the Long-Glats with the title of raja and married a sister of the great chief of the Oma-Sulings. She was the principal of the numerous female blians of the kampong, slender of figure, active both in her profession and in domestic affairs, and always very courteous. They had no children. Although he did not speak Malay very well, still, owing to his earnestness of purpose, Lidju was of considerable assistance to me.

The kampong consists of several long houses of the usual Dayak style, lying in a row and following the river course, but here they were separated into two groups with a brook winding its way to the river between them. Very large drums, nearly four metres long, hung on the wall of the galleries, six in one house, with the head somewhat higher than the other end. This instrument, slightly conical in shape, is formed from a log of fine-grained wood, light in colour, with a cover made from wild ox hide. An especially constructed iron tool driven by blows from a small club is used to hollow out the log, and the drum is usually completed in a single night, many men taking turns. In one part of the house lying furthest west lived Dayaks called Oma-Palo, who were reported to have been in this tribe a hundred years. They occupied "eight doors," while further on, in quarters comprising "five doors," dwelt Oma-Tepe, more recent arrivals; and both clans have married Oma-Suling women.

The purpose of the great feast that filled everybody's thoughts is to obtain many children, a plentiful harvest, good health, many pigs, and much fruit. A prominent Dayak said to me: "If we did not have this feast there would not be many children; the paddi would not ripen well, or would fail; wild beasts would eat the fowls, and there would be no bananas or other fruits." The first four days are chiefly taken up with preparations, the festival occurring on the fifth and sixth days. A place of worship adjoining the front of the easternmost house was being constructed, with a floor high above ground on a level with the gallery, with which it was connected by a couple of planks for a bridge. Although flimsily built, the structure was abundantly strong to support the combined weight of the eight female blians who at times performed therein. The hut, which was profusely decorated with long, hanging wood shavings, is called dangei and is an important adjunct of the feast, to which the same name is sometimes given. Ordinary people are not allowed to enter, though they may ascend the ladder, giving access to the gallery, in close proximity to the sanctuary.

Prior to the fifth day a progressive scale is observed in regard to food regulations, and after the sixth, when the festive high mark is reached, there is a corresponding decrease to normal. Only a little boiled rice is eaten the first day, but on the second, third, and fourth, rations are gradually increased by limited additions of toasted rice. The fifth and sixth days give occasion for indulgence in much rice and pork, the quantity being reduced on the seventh, when the remaining pork is finished. On the eighth and ninth days the regulations permit only boiled and toasted rice. Not much food remains on the tenth, when the menu reverts to boiled rice exclusively. Some kinds of fish may be eaten during the ten-day period, while others are prohibited.

It was interesting to observe what an important part the female blians or priest-doctors played at the festival. They were much in evidence and managed the ceremonies. The men of the profession kept in the background and hardly one was seen. During the feast they abstain from bathing for eight days, do not eat the meat of wild babi, nor salt; and continence is the rule. Every day of the festival, morning, afternoon, and evening, a service is performed for imparting health and strength, called melah, of which the children appear to be the chief beneficiaries. Mothers bring babes in cradles on their backs, as well as their larger children. The blian, who must be female, seizing the mother's right hand with her left, repeatedly passes the blade of a big knife up her arm. The child in the cradle also stretches out its right arm to receive treatment, while other children and women place their right hands on the hand and arm of the first woman, five to ten individuals thus simultaneously receiving the passes which the blian dispenses from left to right. She accompanies the ceremony with murmured expressions suggesting removal from the body of all that is evil, with exhortations to improvement, etc.

This service concluded, a man standing in the background holding a shield with the inside uppermost, advances to the side of the mother and places it horizontally under the cradle, where it is rapidly moved forward and backward. Some of the men also presented themselves for treatment after the manner above described, and although the melah performance is usually reserved for this great feast, it may be employed by the blian for nightly service in curing disease.

This was followed by a dance of the blians present, nine or ten in number, to the accompaniment of four gongs and one drum. They moved in single file, most of them making two steps and a slight turn to left, two steps and a slight turn to right, while others moved straight on. In this way they described a drawn-out circle, approaching an ellipse, sixteen times. After the dancing those who took part in the ceremonies ate toasted rice. Each day of the feast in the afternoon food was given to antoh by blians and girl pupils. Boiled rice, a small quantity of salt, some dried fish, and boiled fowl were wrapped in pieces of banana leaves, and two such small parcels were offered on each occasion.

Meantime the festive preparations continued. Many loads of bamboo were brought in, because much rice and much pork was to be cooked in these handy utensils provided by nature. Visitors were slowly but steadily arriving. On the fourth day came the principal man, the Raja Besar (great chief), who resides a little further up the river, accompanied by his family. The son of a Long-Glat father and an Oma-Suling mother, Ledjuli claimed to be raja not only of these tribes, but also of the Kayans. Next morning Raja Besar and his stately wife, of Oma-Suling nobility, accompanied by the kapala of the kampong and others, paid me a visit, presenting me with a long sugarcane, a somewhat rare product in these parts and considered a great delicacy, one large papaya, white onions, and bananas. In return I gave one cake of chocolate, two French tins of meat, one tin of boiled ham, and tobacco.

Domestic pigs, of which the kampong possessed over a hundred, at last began to come in from the outlying ladangs. One by one they were carried alive on the backs of men. The feet having first been tied together, the animal was enclosed in a coarse network of rattan or fibre. For the smaller specimens tiny, close-fitting bamboo boxes had been made, pointed at one end to accommodate the snout. The live bundles were deposited on the galleries, and on the fifth day they were lying in rows and heaps, sixty-six in number, awaiting their ultimate destiny. The festival was now about to begin in earnest and an air of expectancy was evident in the faces of the natives. After the performance of the melah and the dance of the blians, and these were a daily feature of the great occasion, a dance hitherto in vogue at night was danced in the afternoon. In this the people, in single file, moved very slowly with rhythmic steps, describing a circle around three blians, including the principal one, who sat smoking in the centre, with some bamboo baskets near by. Next morning the circular dance was repeated, with the difference that the participants were holding on to a rope.

About four o'clock in the afternoon the Dayaks began to kill the pigs by cutting the artery of the neck. The animals, which were in surprisingly good condition, made little outcry. The livers were examined, and if found to be of bad omen were thrown away, but the pig itself is eaten in such cases, though a full-grown fowl or a tiny chicken only a few days old must be sacrificed in addition. The carcasses were freed from hair by fire in the usual way and afterward cleaned with the knife. The skin is eaten with the meat, which at night was cooked in bamboo. Outside, in front of the houses, rice cooking had been going on all day. In one row there were perhaps fifty bamboos, each stuffed with envelopes of banana leaves containing rice, the parcels being some thirty centimetres long and three wide.

During the night there was a grand banquet in all the houses. Lidju, my assistant, did not forget, on this day of plenty, to send my party generous gifts of fresh pork. To me he presented a fine small ham. As salt had been left behind we had to boil the meat a la Dayak in bamboo with very little water, which compensates for the absence of seasoning. A couple of men brought us two bamboos containing that gelatinous delicacy into which rice is transformed when cooked in this way. And, as if this were not enough, early next morning a procession arrived carrying food on two shields, the inside being turned upward. On these were parcels wrapped in banana leaves containing boiled rice, to which were tied large pieces of cooked pork. The first man to appear stepped up to a banana growing near, broke off a leaf which he put on the ground in front of me, and placed on it two bundles. The men were unable to speak Malay and immediately went away without making even a suggestion that they expected remuneration, as did the two who had given us rice. I had never seen them before.

The sixth day was one of general rejoicing. Food was exchanged between the two groups of houses and people were in a very joyful mood, eating pork, running about, and playing tricks on each other. Both men and women carried charcoal mixed with the fat of pork, with which they tried to smear the face and upper body of all whom they met. All were privileged to engage in this sport but the women were especially active, pursuing the men, who tried to avoid them, some taking refuge behind my tent. The women followed one man through the enclosure surrounding the tent, at my invitation, but they did not succeed in catching him. This practical joking was continued on the following days except the last.

The Oma-Palo had their own festival, which lasted only one day. It began in the afternoon of the sixth day and I went over to see it. The livers of the pigs were not in favourable condition, which caused much delay in the proceedings, and it was nearly five o'clock when they finally began to make a primitive dangei hut, all the material for which had been gathered. A few slim upright poles with human faces carved at the upper ends were placed so as to form the outline of a quadrangle. On the ground between them planks were laid, and on the two long sides of this space were raised bamboo stalks with leaves on, which leaned together and formed an airy cover. It was profusely adorned with wood shavings hung by the ends in long spirals, the whole arrangement forming a much simpler house of worship than the one described above. The kapala having sacrificed a tiny chicken, a man performed a war dance on the planks in superb fashion, and after that two female blians danced. Next morning I returned and asked permission to photograph the dancing. The kapala replied that if a photograph were made while they were working - that is to say, dancing - they would have to do all their work over again, otherwise some misfortune would come upon them, such as the falling of one of the bamboo stalks, which might kill somebody. Later, while they were eating, for example, there would be no objection to the accomplishment of my desire.

With the eighth day an increased degree of ceremonials became noticeable, and in order to keep pace therewith I was driven to continuous activity. On a muggy, warm morning I began work by photographing the Raja Besar, who had given me permission to take himself and his family. When I arrived at the house where he was staying he quickly made his preparations to "look pleasant," removing the large rings he wore in the extended lobes of his ears and substituting a set of smaller ones, eight for each ear. He was also very particular in putting on correct apparel, whether to appear in warrior costume or as a private gentleman of the highest caste. His sword and the rest of his outfit, as might be expected, were of magnificent finish, the best of which Dayak handicraft is capable. He made altogether a splendid subject for the camera, but his family proved less satisfactory. I had to wait an hour and a half before his womenfolk were ready, femininity apparently being alike in this regard in all races. When they finally emerged from the house in great array (which showed Malay influence) they were a distinct disappointment.

The raja, who was extremely obliging, ordered the principal men of the kampong to appear in complete war outfit, and showed us how an imaginary attack of Iban head-hunters would be met. They came streaming one after another down the ladder, made the evolutions of a running attack in close formation, holding their large shields in front of them, then ran to the water and paddled away, standing in their prahus, to meet the supposed enemy in the utan on the other side of the river.

At noon the female blians were preparing for an important ceremony in the dangei hut, with a dance round it on the ground later, and I therefore went up to the gallery. The eight performers held each other by the hands in a circle so large that it filled the hut. Constantly waving their arms backward and forward they moved round and round. Some relics from Apo Kayan were then brought in: a small, shining gong without a knob and a very large bracelet which looked as if it had been made of bamboo and was about eight centimetres in diameter. One of the blians placed the bracelet round her folded hands and then ran round the circle as well as through it; I believe this was repeated sixteen times. When she had finished running they all walked in single file over into the gallery in order to perform the inevitable melah.

Shortly afterward followed a unique performance of throwing rice, small bundles of which, wrapped in banana leaves, were lying in readiness on the floor. Some of the men caught them with such violence that the rice was spilled all about, and then they flipped the banana leaves at those who stood near. Some of the women had crawled up under the roof in anticipation of what was coming. After a few minutes passed thus, the eight blians seated themselves in the dangei hut and prepared food for antoh in the way described above, but on this occasion one of them pounded paddi with two short bamboo sticks, singing all the while.

A very amusing entertainment then began, consisting of wrestling by the young men, who were encouraged by the blians to take it up and entered the game with much enthusiasm, one or two pairs constantly dancing round and round until one became the victor. The participants of their own accord had divested themselves of their holiday chavats and put on small ones for wrestling. With the left hand the antagonist takes hold of the descending portion of the chavat in the back, while with the right he grasps the encircling chavat in front. They wrestled with much earnestness but no anger. When the game was continued the following morning the young men presented a sorry spectacle. Rain had fallen during the night, and the vanquished generally landed heavily on their backs in the mud-holes, the wrestlers joining in the general laugh at their expense. To encourage them I had promised every victor twenty cents, which added much to the interest.

Having concluded their task of feeding the antohs the blians climbed down the ladder and began a march in single file round the dangei hut, each carrying one of the implements of daily life: a spear, a small parang, an axe, an empty rattan bag in which the bamboos are enclosed when the woman fetches water, or in which vegetables, etc., are conveyed, and another bag of the same material suitable for transporting babi. Four of the women carried the small knife which is woman's special instrument, though also employed by the men. When the eight blians on this, the eighth day, had marched sixteen times around the dangei they ascended the ladder again. Shortly afterward a man standing on the gallery pushed over the flimsy place of worship - a signal that the end of the feast had come. On the previous day a few visitors had departed and others left daily.

The feast had brought together from other parts about 200 Oma-Sulings and Long-Glats. The women of both tribes showed strikingly fine manners, especially those belonging to the higher class, which was well represented. Some were expensively dressed, though in genuine barbaric fashion as indicated by the ornaments sewn upon their skirts, which consisted of hundreds of florins and ringits. It should be conceded, however, that with the innate artistic sense of the Dayaks, the coins, all scrupulously clean, had been employed to best advantage in pretty designs, and the damsels were strong enough to carry the extra burden.

The climax had been passed and little more was going on, the ninth day being given over to the amusement of daubing each other with black paste. On the tenth day they all went away to a small river in the neighbourhood, where they took their meals, cooking paddi in bamboo, also fish in the same manner. This proceeding is called nasam, and the pemali (tabu) is now all over. During the days immediately following the people may go to the ladang, but are obliged to sleep in the kampong, and they must not undertake long journeys. When the feast ended the blians placed four eggs in the clefts of four upright bamboo sticks as sacrifice to antoh. Such eggs are gathered from hens that are sitting, and those which have become stale in unoccupied nests are also used. If there are not enough such eggs, fresh ones are taken.