Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/94

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86
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tants putting their heads under water, and the one who has the most staying power having right on his side.

The Bomean shrike (Platylophus coronatus), which has an erectile crest of long and broad feathers on its head, is used by the Ibans as a weather prophet on account of its unerring faculty of foretelling a storm, for whenever its whistle is heard, rain is always to be expected. It is very important for Kenyahs and Kayans in connection with tilling farms. When Kayans are clearing any undergrowth for a farm, after having offered to 'Niho' (Haliastur intermedius) and other omen animals, it is desirable that they should hear 'pajan,' the shrike, for then they know they will get plenty of padi of good quality, but there will be a good deal of hard work, and possibly a considerable amount of sickness and cuts and wounds. If they procure this omen, they take the precaution of building very substantial granaries.

Three species of Sun birds (Arachnothera longirostris, A. modesta and A. chrysogenys) are very important to Kayans, Kenyahs and Punans. Any of these species is used impartially, and they bear the name of 'Sit' or 'Isit.'

The 'Sit' is always the first bird to look for when undertaking anything—fortunately, an individual of one of the three species is almost always to be seen crossing the river. It is one of the least important omen birds with the Ibans. When Kayans, Punas and Melanaus go in search of camphor, it is first necessary to see a 'Sit' fly from right to left, and then from left to right. A Melanau, who is intending to start on such an expedition, sits in the bow of his boat and chants:

"O Sit, Sit, ta-au, Kripan murip, Sit,

 Ano senigo akau, ano napan akau.
 Oh! Sit, Sit, on the right, give me long life. Sit,
 Help me to obtain what I require, make me plenty of that for which I am looking."

An allied bird, Anthreptes malaccensis, is commonly mistaken by Kayans, but by them only, for Arachnothera longirostris. They use it as an omen bird, but it is not so used by the Kenyahs, by whom it is called 'Manok Obah.'

All the omen snakes are bad omens, and in the case of a Kayan seeing 'batang lima' (Simotes octolineatus), he will endeavor to kill it and, if successful, no evil will follow; should he fail to kill it, then 'look out.'

I believe that the Ibans pay some regard to 'Sawa,' a large python (Python reticulatus) and to 'Tuchok,' a kind of Gecko (Ptychozoon homalocephalum), and to 'Brinkian,' another kind of Gecko; but I do not know whether these are, strictly speaking, omen animals.

The omen padi-bug, 'turok parai' (Chrysocoris eques) is only of importance, and that to Kenyahs alone, because it injures the crops.