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Mr Rosenberg thinks they differ entirely in person—as well as in language, manners and customs—from the adjacent races, and strikingly resemble the Polynesians. Mr Crisp makes a similar comparison but limits it to the latter characters. He remarks that "some of them are extremely well made, with fine turned limbs and expressive countenances". The physical traits are far too imperfectty described for etbnographic purposes, but, so far as they arc defined, they lead us to believe that the Mantawe—like the Nihans—are intermediate between the Malay and the finer Polynesian type.
They are robii3t, athletic, agile, and expert in all the bodily exercises incidental to their mode of life.
They are omniverous in their food and dirty in their personal habits. Bodily defects are very rare. The most prevalent diseases are fevers and a whitish scaly scurf, which covers the whole person of those who arc given to an immoderate indulgence in crocodile flesh [R.].
Mental Characters and Civilisation.—Little direct information has been furnished respecting their mental character. It may be gathered from incidental notices and from their conduct to European visiters, that they are good humoured, sociable, obliging, little addicted to war or bloodshed in any shape and very superstitious. They are exceedingly fond of personal ornaments, and give much time to social amusements. Equality, freedom and unrestraint prevail amongst them. In their customs and institutions they are simple.
Crime of a grave character is very infrequent. They are not thievish amongst themselves, but pilfering from strangers appears to be a national and conventional habit, as it is with most rude tribes in which it has not been eradicated by the force or influence of more civilised nations. Crimes are severely punished.
In civilisation they rank much above the savage and naked tribe of Tilanjang but considerably below the Nihans. Their arts are of the kind that prevail amongst all those tribes of the great Niha-Polyncsian family that have been least modified by foreigners, and many of which are preserved, even by those who have most largely adopted the inventions of Chinese, Ultraindian, Indian, Semitic and European nations. They exhibit the same ingenuity taste and patience in the production of useful and elegant articles, from the materials supplied by the forest and with instruments of the rudest kind, that have been remarked amongst the cognate Oceanic tribes, but the variety is less than with many of these. The civilising influence on the Mantaweans of the western trading nations of Asonesia who have profited the most from their proximity to the continent, is marked not so much by the reception of improved arts, as by the absence or in frequency of those passionate excesses and savage usages which amongst most of the Niha-Polynesian tribes coexist with a general mildness and docility of character, so long as they remain comparatively sequestered. Their ordinary occupations consist in hunting and fishing, the extraction and washing of the sago meal, the preparation of bark cloth, the collection of wood oil, timber, rattans, wild fruits and other forest produce, and the occasional barter of some of their raw commodities with their Malay visitors. The great feasts sometimes give rise to expeditions for the purpose of killing an inhabitant of one of the islands with which they have a hereditary hostility.
They have no regular sedentary arts, their indoor and home labour being mainly subservient to their open air lilo in the forest and on the creeks and the sea whence the greater portion of their means of subsistence is derived. The house and garden once made, their highest industry and skill are employed in the fabrication of canoes, weapons and implements for killing and snaring game and fish. The houses themselves are rude, though large and substantial, and the scant culture, in which the men take no part, is still ruder. In carving implements in wood and in plaiting grass, rattans &c, they show considerable ingenuity. The Malays supply them with a small quantity of cloth, with parangs, or chopping knives, copper wire, and the iron work of their weapons which they themselves polish.
The cultivation of rice and fruit trees, spinning and weaving^ working in iron and copper and the other advanced arts of their Sumatran neighbours arc not practiced.
Language.—The language is soft and harmonious but it is less vocalic than that ol'lhc Nihans and that of the Tilanjangs, which adhere move closely to the prevalent phonology of eastern Indonesia and Polynesia. Its proper phonetic position, as I have remarked in another place, appears to he between Nihan and Batta, with both of which it has more affinity than with Malay. The structural character can only be imperfectly gathered from an analysis of the short vocabularies that have been published. It has the common NihaPolynesia prefixes, si-, se-, a-, e- for substantives, me-, ma-, mo-, m-, sometimes nrt-(Batla) for qualitives, the same particle in the forms me-, be-, meng-, peng for assertives; ha- occasionally assertive. From the phonetic, structural and glossarial character of the vocables, it is evident that the basis of the language is Niha. Polynesian like that of hundreds of others still extant in Asonesia. It has been modified as Rattan and Malay have been, but in a much less degree even than the former, although it is remarkable that it approaches nearer to it than Nihan and Tilanjang do. The extent to which it deviates from the archaic idealogy of the Malagasy-Polynesian or Oceanic formation, and approximates to the simpler Ultraindianised or Malayan type cannot be ascertained from an examination of a vocabulary.
For an exposition of the language in its entirety, as a reflection of the mental character and culture and of the range of ideas, proper to the Chagalelegat, we must look to future research. Some remarks on the glossarial affinities, with reference to the history of the people, will be found in a subsequent page.
Spiritualism.—The Mantaweans retain the pure naturalism which was common to all the Niha-Polynesian tribes before Hinduism was introduced into Indonesia. Whether it has received any peculiarities in this secluded archipelago is not yet known, but there is nothing in what has hitherto been ascertained to distinguish the spiritualism of the Mantaweans from that of the Borneon, Moluccan and other eastern tribes who have not engrafted Hindu, Mahomedan or Christian ideaa on the ancient faith of the islands.
They believe in a great number of malevolent spirits (sinetu) who dwell everywhere, in the forests and caves, in the air, in the waters and below the ground. They cause thunder and lightning, heavy winds and rains, conflagrations, inundations and earthquakes. They do not make images of the spirits, nor appropriate places for their invocation, and they pay them exceedingly little reverence. When they have need of the aid of one or more of the sinetu, the village chief, who exercises the priestly office, goes to the nearest forest to invoke them. They imagine that the spirit answers in the Mantawei language and with a voice like that of an old man. [R.] The chiefs are also the physicians. When sent for by a sick person, the chief, after visiting him, repairs to the neighbouring forest, and there calls on the bad spirits to help him in his search for herbs that may be useful to the patient, not forgetting to threaten them with his wrath in case of refusal. They occasionally sacrifice a fowl or a hog before entering on an enterprise, in sickness, or when they have any other cause for believing that the spirits are offended and need to be propitiated. [C]. The scull in general, but sometimes merely a piece of the skin of all animals slain by them, is hung from the beams of the roof, as an offering to the sinetu. [R.]
Of a transmigration of the soul or of a life after death they have hardly any idea. [R., C]. The inhabitants of Pora however believe that the souls of the deceased are conducted by those of their relations who have died before them, to an islet lying on the north coast of that island, and are there transformed into devils, for which reason .the Mantaweans name it Devils-island. [R.,H]
Owing to the gloomy character of their spiritualism they are superstitious in the highest degree. They never undertake anything of importance without first consulting a kind of oracle. One of the chiefs kills a fowl and cuts out the stomach, which after having been opened and carefully cleansed, is stretched o«t against the light, when a favorable or unfavorable augery is drawn from its lines and spots. Whenever a stranger enters a house, in which there are children, their father or a relation takes off one of the ornaments with which they adorn their hair, places it for a short time in the visitor's hand, and then returns it to the child, who is by this means protected from the evil influence which the sight of a stranger would otherwise exercise. Although they may have felled a large tree, for some necessary purpose, with much labour, and dragged it with still greater exertion to the village yet tlipy will immediately abandon it where it lies, should a snake, as often happens, creep along or across the path. In this singular custom is to be found the principal reason, why the completion of the large houses occupies so long a period. [R.]
It will no doubt appear, on more exact information being obtained, that their gods or spirits have more individuality than Mr Rosenberg's account would indicate. The son of one of the chiefs who visited Sumatra in 1783 spoke thus of the national religion. "As to religion, he said the rajas alone prayed and sacrificed hogs and fowls. They addressed themselves in the first place to the Power above the sky; next to those in the moon, who are male and female; and lastly to the evil being whose residence is beneath the earth, and is the cause of earthquakes" (Marsden p. 473).
In their tales and traditions, of which they have a great number, the bad spirits generally occupy the most prominent place. The following is an example:—" When these islands were still waste and unoccupied by man and served only as the haunts of evil spirits, it happened once that a sinetu went out to fish. Having cast his net into the water, he brought up from the deep, in one of his first hauls, a bambu case closed on all sides. Curious to see the contents, he opened it, and to his amazement there emerged from it four small human forms, which exposed to the light of day immediately grew to the ordinary stature of mankind. Delighted with this unlooked for acquisition, the spirit would have taken the four men with him, considering them as his lawful property. They, however, not relishing this, ran away from him and so effectually hid themselves that he lost all trace of them. Tired with his fruitless search he fell asleep, his head still filled with his wonderful draught—no wonder then that he dreamt of it. He beheld amongst other things, his four men busy at a certain place clearing the high forest and turning up the ground, on which he presently saw all kinds of fruit bearing trees and plants planted and flourishing. The four fugitives had dreamt the same dream, and on awaking were astonished to find all the fruits and plants of their dream-land lying beside them. For the spirit,—
who had soon awoke—by following the indications of the place