BY CARL LUMHOLTZ
MEMBER OF THE SOCIETY OF SCIENCES OF CHRISTIANIA, NORWAY GOLD MEDALLIST OF
THE NORWEGIAN GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY ASSOCIE ETRANGER DE LA SOCIETE DE
L'ANTHROPOLOGIE DE PARIS, ETC.
We may safely affirm that the better specimens of savages are much
superior to the lower examples of civilized peoples.
Alfred Russel Wallace.
Ever since my camping life with the aborigines of Queensland, many years
ago, it has been my desire to explore New Guinea, the promised land of all
who are fond of nature and ambitious to discover fresh secrets. In
furtherance of this purpose their Majesties, the King and Queen of Norway,
the Norwegian Geographical Society, the Royal Geographical Society of
London, and Koninklijk Nederlandsch Aardrijkskundig Genootschap,
generously assisted me with grants, thus facilitating my efforts to raise
the necessary funds. Subscriptions were received in Norway, also from
American and English friends, and after purchasing the principal part of
my outfit in London, I departed for New York in the autumn of 1913, en
route for the Dutch Indies. In 1914, having first paid a visit to the
Bulungan, in northeast Borneo, in order to engage the necessary Dayaks, I
was preparing to start for Dutch New Guinea when the war broke out.
Under these changed conditions his Excellency, the Governor-General,
A.W.F. Idenburg, regretted his inability to give me a military escort and
other assistance needed for carrying out my plan, and advised me to await
a more favorable opportunity. During this interval, having meanwhile
visited India, I decided to make an expedition through Central Borneo,
large tracts of which are unexplored and unknown to the outside world. My
project was later extended to include other regions of Dutch Borneo, and
the greater part of two years was spent in making researches among its
very interesting natives. In these undertakings I received the valuable
assistance of their Excellencies, the governor-general and the commanding
general, as well as the higher officials of the Dutch Government, to all
of whom I wish to express my heartfelt thanks.
Through the courtesy of the well-known Topografische Inrichting, in
Batavia, a competent surveyor, whose work will later be published, was
attached to my expeditions. He did not accompany me on my first visit to
the Bulungan, nor on the second occasion, when I went to the lake of
Sembulo, where the country is well known. In the map included in this book
I have indicated the locations of the different tribes in Dutch Borneo,
based on information gathered from official and private sources and on my
I usually had a taxidermist, first a trained Sarawak Dayak, later a
Javanese, to collect mammals and birds. Fishes and reptiles were also
preserved in alcohol.
Specimens of ethnological interest were collected from the different
tribes visited; the collection from the Penihings I believe is complete.
Measurements of 227 individuals were taken and as soon as practicable will
be worked out by Doctor K.S. Schreiner, professor at the University of
Christiania. Vocabularies were collected from most of the tribes. In spite
of adverse conditions, due to climate and the limitations under which I
travelled, a satisfactory collection of photographic plates and films was
brought back. With few exceptions, these photographs were taken by myself.
For the pictures facing page 26 I am indebted to Doctor J.C.
Koningsberger, President of the Volksraad, Buitenzorg, Java. Those facing
pages 16 and 17 were taken by Mr. J.F. Labohm. The lower picture facing
page 286 was taken by Mr. A.M. Erskine.
My observations on the tribes are recorded in conformity with my itinerary,
and include the Kayans, Kenyahs, Murungs, Penyahbongs, Saputans, the
nomadic Punans and Bukits, Penihings, Oma-Sulings, Long-Glats, Katingans,
Duhoi (Ot-Danums), and the Tamoans. On one or two occasions when gathering
intelligence from natives I was very fortunate in my informants - an
advantage which will be appreciated by any one who has undertaken a similar
errand and has enjoyed the keen satisfaction experienced when drawing the
veil from primitive thought which lies so near and yet so far away.
Circumstances naturally prevented me from making a thorough study of any
tribe, but I indulge the hope that the material here presented may prove
in some degree acceptable to the specialist as well as to the general
reader. Matter that was thought to be of purely anthropological interest
is presented in a special supplement. Above all, I have abstained from
generalities, to which one might be tempted on account of the many
similarities encountered in the tribes that were visited. Without the
light of experience it is impossible to imagine how much of interest and
delight there is in store for the student of man's primitive condition.
However, as the captain of Long Iram said to me in Long Pahangei, "One
must have plenty of time to travel in Borneo." I have pleasure in
recording here the judicious manner in which the Dutch authorities deal
with the natives.
On a future occasion I shall hope to be able to publish a detailed report
on several of the novel features of my Bornean collections, especially as
regards decorative art, the protective wooden carvings called kapatongs,
the flying boat, etc.
The first collections sent to Norway ran the risks incident to war. Most
of them were rescued from the storehouses at Antwerp after the German
occupation, through the exertions of the Norwegian Foreign Office, though
a smaller part, chiefly zoological, appears to have been lost in Genoa.
Count Nils Gyldenstolpe, of the Natural History Museum,
Vetenskapsakademien in Stockholm, who is determining the mammals
collected, informs me that so far a new species of flying maki and two new
subspecies of flying squirrels have been described.
To further my enterprise, liberal gifts of supplies were received from
various firms in Christiania: preserved milk from Nestle & Anglo-Swiss
Condensed Milk Co., tobacco from Tiedemann's Fabrik, alcohol for
preserving specimens from Loitens Braenderi, cacao from Freia Chokolade