ii2 PAGAN TRIBES OF BORNEO CHAP.
fully preserved for this purpose in a special basket. The basket contains grains of padi from good harvests of many previous years. This is supposed to have been done from the earliest time of padi planting, so that the basket contains some of the original stock of seed, or at least the virtue of it leavening the whole. This basket is never emptied, but a pinch of the old padi is mixed in with the new, and then a handful of the mixture added to the old stock. The idea here seems to be that the
old grain, preserving continuity generation after generation with the original seed padi of mythical origin,1 ensures the presence in the grain of the soul or spirit or vital principle ofpadi. While mixing the old with the new seed grain, the woman calls on the soul of the padi to cause the seed to be fruitful and to grow vigorously, and to favour her own fertility. For the whole festival is a celebration or cult of the principle of fertility and vitality a that of the women no less than that of the padi.2
The women who have been delivered of children during the past year will make a number of toys, consisting of plaited work, in the shapes of various animals filled with boiled rice (Fig. 16). These they throw to the children of the house, who scramble for them in the gallery. This seems to be of the nature of a thank-offering.
At this time also another curious custom is observed. Four water beetles, of the kind that skates on the surface of the still water, are caught on the river and placed on water in a large gong. Some old man specially wise in this matter watches
1 See Chap. XVII.
2 The same connexion of ideas is illustrated by the practice of sterile women who desire children sleeping upon the freshly gathered ears in the huts in the fields.