Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/90

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82
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
whom it is directly pointed. A swarm of bees lighting on the farm is an equally dreadful matter.


The 'barking' deer (Cervulus muntjac) is very important as an omen to all peoples, but least so to the Ibans. The bark of this deer prevents people from continuing their journey, and even divorces people who are newly married.

The little chevrotains, 'planok' or 'plandok' (Tragulus napu and T. javanicus), have the same function as the muntjac, so far as a journey is concerned, but otherwise they are not very important.

The Rev. W. Chalmers says: "If the cries of any of the three kinds of deer found in Sarawak be heard when starting on a journey, or when going to consult the birds by day or by night, it is a sign that if the matter in hand be followed up sickness will be the result. Also, if a newly married couple hear them at night, they must be divorced, as, if this be not done, the death of the bride or bridegroom will ensue. I myself have known instances of this omen causing a divorce, and I must say the separation has always been borne most philosophically by the parties most concerned; in fact, the morning of one of these divorces I remember seeing an ex-bridegroom working hard at shaping some ornamental brass-work, which Dayak women are in the habit of wearing round their waists, and he said that he intended to bestow it on a certain damsel whom he had in his eye for a new wife."

Sir Spencer St. John writes: "To hear the cry of a deer is at all times unlucky, and to prevent the sound reaching their ears during a marriage procession, gong and drums are loudly beaten. On the way to their farms, should the unlucky omen be heard, they will return home and do no more work for a day."

A Malay told me: If a Sarawak Malay was striking a light in the evening in his house and a plandok made a noise at the same time, the whole family would have to leave the house for three days. Should they not do so, the house would catch fire and be burned down or sickness or other calamity would overtake them.

On the second day of one of Dr. Hose's journeys through the jungle, the chief who was with him saw a plandok rush across the path. Hose being behind, did not observe it, but he saw all his party sitting on a log, and the chief informed Hose that he could not proceed that day, as his 'legs were tied up.' This was most inconvenient, as Hose was in a hurry, but the men would not go on. Hose freely took upon himself all the responsibility and said he would go first and would explain to the plandok that he was the person in fault. The chief would not agree even to this, and did not budge, but said he would follow the next day. Hose went on with some of the men as far as he could get and camped. Next day the chief caught Hose up at noon and appeared very much