BIRTH-CUSTOMS AND BELIEFS part hi
in different employments. The effect of this training was that the young Benua men and women were highly robust and active compared with the Malays, and capable of enduring with cheerfulness an amount of labour from which the latter would shrink.1
Jakun.aWe now come to the Jakun, properly so-called, of whose birth-customs, Captain Begbie, an old writer on the Peninsula, observed that when a woman was in labour, the Jakun took a round piece of wood, which they fastened at both ends in a shed. The woman was laid upon this, face downwards and pressing upon the abdomen, until the child was born. Meanwhile the husband kindled a fire before her, which was supposed to be of essential service, and performed the office of midwife; and after the child was born, the woman was put close to the fire. To this account the same writer added that the Jakun named their children simply from the tree under which they happened to be brought forth.2
On the other hand, Favre has recorded that no assistance was ordinarily given to lying-in Jakun women; their physicians or Pawangs were not permitted to appear in such circumstances, and midwives were not known amongst them. It was reported that in several tribes, the children, as soon as born, were carried to the nearest rivulet, washed and brought back to the house, where a fire was kindled, upon which incense or benzoin was thrown, when the child was passed over it several times. Favre adds that we know from history that the practice of passing children over fire was in all times much practised among heathen nations; and that it is still practised in China and other places. A few days after the birth
1 /. I, A. vol. i. p. 267.
2 Begbie, pp. 13, 14.2 Begbie, pp. 13, 14.