BIRTH-CUSTOMS AND BELIEFS
husband, he had the right of giving his wife a sound drubbing with a club, and if in such a case he accidentally killed her, he was not brought to justice for doing so. In the case of a premature delivery, a sort of council of sage-femmes or elderly women might be called to try whether the woman had procured abortion. If she were found guilty, she was delivered over to her husband for punishment. He was not, however, compelled to punish her, and if he forbore, she escaped without a penalty.1
When an unmarried Jakun girl had recourse to procuring abortion, she entirely lost all position and status in the clan. She was despised by the other women, and scorned as a bride by the men; and finally she exposed herself to the disgrace of being chastised by her parents.2
No cranial deformation is practised by the Jakun. a The heads of the children are left in their natural shape and are not compressed in any way.a 3
The average number of children born to a Jakun is three.4
Treatment of Children.5
The Jakun never leave their little children alone, as the other tribes do. Wherever the parents go, the mother carries the child, the father helping her when there are several children, and she has no female relation or friend at hand to assist.
The Jakun women carry their children slung at their backs in a sling made either of cotton stuff or bark-cloth. The sling is passed round the lower part of the childas body and back and over the motheras breast, an additional strip being frequently passed round the motheras forehead.
The childas legs are turned upwards towards the front, in line with the motheras hips.
If the child wants to suck, it is pulled round to the breast, and not fed (as among the Sakai) by throwing the breast over the shoulderaexcept perhaps in a very few cases when the breasts of a Jakun mother who has given birth to a very numerous progeny have become abnormally developed. A Jakun child may also be seen sucking with its head pushed forward under the motheras arm.
The Jakun women declare that in former times they never carried their children on their hips as the Sakai and Malay women do. Now, however, they have adopted the practice, which they have borrowed, as in so many other cases, from the tribes in their vicinity.6
The Jakun seen by Vaughan-Stevens declared that they (like the O. Laut) had never seen twins. If twins were to be born, they would be regarded as an advantage, since later on there would be two children to help with the work. The father, however, would feel an uncertainty, as to whether some other man had not helped him.7
Vaughan-Stevens describes another almost obsolete custom of the Jakun women, which is still, however (he says), occasionally practised. This is that whenever a Jakun woman loses her first-born, if the latter happens to be a boy, she pulls off the wrapper of cloth which she wears by way of undergarment and puts on a loin-cloth of tree-bark in its place. Over this bark girdle cotton-cloth might be worn, but the bark-cloth must be worn immediately next the skin, and that until a full month had elapsed since the childas death, after which it might be discontinued.8
1 Z. f E. xxviii. 186.
3 Ibid. xxix. 180. From the con-
text this passage appears to apply to
the Jakun. The name of the race
referred to in this connexion is not
4 Vaughan-Stevens, iii. 102. 6 Z.f.E. xxviii. 199-201.
6 Ibid. p. 200.
8 Ibid. p. 199.8 Ibid. p. 199.