Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/93

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85
THE OMEN ANIMALS OF SARAWAK.

when the sun comes out it bursts into long 'kieng, kieng'; 'tok' is bad, but 'kieng' is good.

When a Kenyah hears the 'tok' cry, he immediately stops, lights a fire and takes the usual precautions in talking to it. He knows perfectly well that the same bird makes the two notes, and he waits for the 'kieng.' His explanation is that when the bird calls 'tok' it is angry, and that it is in a good temper when it sings 'kieng,' and therefore it is well not to go contrariwise to the omen. The Ibans behave in a similar manner. The Kenyahs regard it as a bird of warning, but not one that assists in getting anything. If a man was doing anything with a parang, knife or other sharp-edged tool and heard even a 'kieng,' he would probably desist from further use of it for that day.

The little woodpecker (Sasia abnormis) is in high favor among the Ibans; in fact, they consider it most important, as he represents his father-in-law, 'Sengalong Burong.' The 'Katupong' appears to produce whatever result they require. It is of less importance with other peoples of Sarawak.

Mr. Crossland informs us if a katupong enters a house at one end and flies out the other, men and women snatch up a few necessaries, such as mats and rice, and stampede, leaving everything unsecured and the doors unfastened. If any one approaches the house at night, he will see large and shadowy demons chasing each other through it, and hear their unintelligible talk. After awhile the people return and erect the ladder they have overthrown, and the women sprinkle the house with water 'to cool it.'

A kind of thrush (Cittocincla suavis) is particularly useful to the Ibans when looking for gutta or other jungle produce. 'Nendak' is a good bird too for them to own, as it is a Burong chelap, and, on hearing it, they would not be afraid of any sickness.

Before starting on a gutta expedition, they would require to see something before 'beragai' (Harpactes duvauceli), as this is a 'burong tampak,' that is, an omen animal that is potent for hunting. What they like is: First, to get 'nendak,' then wait three days while they are owning it, finally to get 'beragai' on the right. This combination signifies certain success; not only would they find gutta, but would obtain plenty of it, and no harm or sickness would befall them. If, however, they went for gutta on 'beragai' alone, and that, perhaps, appeared on the left, they would obtain a fair amount of gutta, but they would stand a good chance of some misfortune happening to them, and one of their party might fall sick, or even die.

The Tailor bird (Orthotomus cineraceus), although employed by Ibans only, is of very little use, as it is only a secondary burong. It may be employed as an additional argument when deciding for 'Selam,' or trial by the water ordeal. This consists in the two dispu-