Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/96

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
the assenting nod or dissenting frown of the great spirit himself. … 'These birds,' says Sengalong Burong, 'possess my mind and spirit, and represent me in the lower world. When you hear them, remember it is I who speak for encouragement or for warning.' … The object of the bird-culters is like that of all other rites: to secure good crops, freedom from accidents and falls and disease, victory in war, profit in exchange and trade, skill in discourse and cleverness in all native craft."

We know that such very distinct peoples in Sarawak alone, as the Ibans (Sea Dayaks), Land Dayaks, Muruts, Punans, Kayans and Kenyahs, pay attention to omen animals and, in most cases, to the same animals. This points to a common origin of the cult, for in some cases there is no specially obvious reason why that particular species of animal should have been selected. In the three last mentioned peoples the names of the omen animals are practically similar, but many of the Iban names are different.

There can be little doubt that this cult is indigenous to Borneo; it is probable that a cult of omen animals formed part of the fundamental religious equipment of the Ibans before they migrated to Borneo, but it is also probable that the Ibans have borrowed somewhat from neighboring indigenous tribes. Much more information must be obtained before a satisfactory history of this cult can be written.