io4 PAGAN TRIBES OF BORNEO chap.
the hoe in the right hand and striking the blade downwards and towards her toes with a dragging action. In working over the patch in this careful fashion some three weeks are consumed. In the intervals the women gather the small crops of early padi, pumpkin, cucumbers, and so forth, spending several weeks together on the farm, sleeping in the hut. In a good season this is the happiest time of the year; both men and women take the keenest interest and pleasure in the growth of the crop.
During the time when the grain is formed but not yet ripe, the people live upon the green corn, which they prepare by gathering the heads and beating them flat. These are not cooked, but merely dried in the sun, and though they need much mastication they are considered a delicacy.
During the time of the ripening of the corn a spirit of gaiety and joyful anticipation prevails. It is a favourite time for courtship, and many marriages are arranged.
The harvest is the most important event of the year. Men, women, and children, all take part. The rice-sparrows congregate in thousands as the grain begins to ripen, and the noisy efforts of the people fail to keep them at a distance. Therefore the people walk through the crop gathering all ripe ears. The operation is performed with a small rude knife-blade mounted in a wooden handle along its whole length (Figs. 14, 15). This is held in the hollow of the right hand, the ends of a short cross bar projecting between the first and second fingers and between thumb and first finger. The thumb seizes and presses the head of each blade of corn