chap. vi SAVAGE MALAYS OF JOHOR
Whenever a company (of Jakun) were on their travels and desired either to change their camp or to prepare for a longer stay there, a new camp-fire was lighted a for luck a by an unmarried girl with a fire-drill.
The girl selected was usually the daughter of the man who happened to be acting as the leader of the company. Such a selection was regarded as specially fortunate; but the leaderas daughter could only be chosen if she were of an age just before puberty. And this custom is especially remarkable, since the Jakuns on their wanderings always carry with them a smouldering rope-end of tree-bark.7
Here, however, we have a survival of an older custom. The fire is obtained by means of the drill from a block of soft wood of the kind which the Jakun use for making the handles of their choppers (aparanga). A small block of this wood is generally carried either on the person, or more especially inserted in the headband of tree-bark, a exactly like the charm on one of our own watch-chains.a It was shaped like the marine bivalve which they say their ancestors employed before they had learned the use of iron to cut up their fish, as well as for determining the spot for their encampment when they happened to be upon a journey.
When the fire was about to be kindled the girl took this block of soft wood and held it on the ground, whilst her father or some other married man worked the vertical shaft which served as the drill. When the spark appeared she fanned it to a flame either by blowing upon it or by whirling the block round in her hand, for which purpose she surrounded the spark with a heap of shredded cloth and exposed it to a current of air.2
From the fire thus kindled were lighted the other fires, for every successive night, and to it were ascribed good-luck in the matter of cooking, and a greater power of warding off wild beasts (e.g. the tiger) than was possessed by the first fire of an encampment when it was kindled by means of the smouldering rope-end of tree-bark. At the same time there was no hard and fast rule that this fire-kindling must be performed by a girl, since any person whatsoever, man, child, or woman (unless, in the case of the latter she were having her monthly discharges) might do it if it happened to be more convenient.3
Amongst other industries the collection of various forms of gutta and camphor obtainable in the forests of the Peninsula is practised by the Jakun, who, whilst
1 A specimen was sent with the notes (Bartels).
2 Z. f E. vol. xxviii. pp. 168, 169.
[Bartels here remarks that it is not
clear from the context whether it is the block of wood used for kindling the fire that is shaped like a shell, or whether it has no special shape. According to Vaughan - Stevens the leaderas daughter obtained the block of wood from her father, for the blocks carried by the unmarried girls and boys for fire-making have no special shape; and although the men and
women generally carried such shellshaped blocks about with them, there was no obligation for them to do so. From this passage it would appear that it was the shell - shaped block that the girl used in this case for fire - making. On the other hand, Vaughan-Stevens says later that these shell-shaped blocks are of extreme rarity, and are now never carried for their original purpose, viz. that of fire-making, since the custom had long become obsolete.]
3 Z.f.E. xxviii. p. 169.3 Z.f.E. xxviii. p. 169.