i70 H. Lincx Roth.aNatives of Sarawak and Brit. N. Borneo.
" One evening I was speaking to the chief of the Sintah tribe, and in their own phraseology, compared a government to a fruit tree, whereon many birds perched to eat. He immediately caught my simile, and continued it thus : ' That is true, but under Pangeran Makota's1 government, the big birds pecked the little ones, and drove them away, and would not allow them to have food. We were little birds, and were pecked very hard. I will relate to you,' he said, 4 a saying (pantun). " A plantain in the mouth, and a thorn in the back." What is the pleasure of eating a plantain, if you get a thorn behind ? So it was with Pangeran Makota : he gave us a little, which was the plantain, and asked a great deal, which was the thorn. I want to eat no such plantains.' " (Sir Jas. Brooke, Mundy i. 211.)
" Dyaks are as fond of repeating pantuns as they are of speaking by similes." (Grant, p. 84.)
Later on Sir James Brooke continues: "Sarawak seems to have taken the shoot upward which I had expected long ago : but confidence is of slower growth than I anticipated ; and piracy has been a great drawback. I may mention, too, that the effect on the Dyaks of a freedom from oppression has been just the reverse of what I expected. The freedom from oppression, the reduction of taxation, the security for life and property, has made them lazy. I always thought that it would have made them industrious, and eager to improve their condition. This error is a common one ; and probably most men in England would have fallen into it as well as myself. More of this another time ; but lazy or industrious, the right principle should (and shall) be persevered in ; for the right principle is based on the solid rock. If the first step is laziness, the second will be improvement, the third industry." (Keppel's Meander ii. 61.)
Sir James Brooke mentions the curious custom of vaunting among the Singe Dyaks : " The Dyaks have amongst them a fashion which they call bunkit, or vaunting ; for instance, in the present case Steer Rajah and Parembam dared each other to go on excursions to procure heads, i.e., against their enemiesa this is bunkit. One of Steer Rajah's followers went accordingly, and quickly procured the head of a hostile warrior far out of my territory ; and on the return of the party, Parembam in turn sent forty men to Simpoke, which is a tribe attached to Samarahan, and on our immediate border. Close to the Dyaks of Simpoke live a party of the Sigo Dyaks, who belong to me ; and this party of Parembam's, confounding friends and enemies, killed some of the Sigo Dyaksahow many is not certain. The Sigos, taking the alarm, cut off their retreat, and killed two of the Singe Dyaks ; and many besides were wounded by "sudas"2 and "ranjows,"2 and, all broken, fled back to their own country. Thus, though* they obtained five heads, they lost two, and those belonging to their principal warriors." (Keppel i. 298.)
Sir James also says : "Singe is certainly the most intractable and wild tribe, numerous but less brave than the Sampro, to whom they have paid three times for peace. This arises in a great measure frorri the character of
1 Makota was the minister of the upright but unfortunate Rajah Muda Hassein, and was the
man who caused much trouble to Rajah Sir James Brooke ; Makota bore a bad character in every
way. 2 See Warfare.way. 2 See Warfare.