National Geographic : 1956 May
710 Jungle Journeys in Sarawak Cameras at Ready, the Wife of a British Colonial Officer Meets the Peoples of Borneo in Longhouse and Rain Forest BY HEDDA MORRISON With Illustrations from Photographs by the Author I LIVE in Sarawak, northwest Borneo, land of the White Rajas and abode of former head-hunters and pirates. My husband Alastair is an officer in the British Colonial Service. Primarily, I suppose, I am a housewife, for I cope with domestic matters in a steaming tropical land that swarms with beasts and birds, insects and snakes, and contains people who keep the skulls of deceased enemies as items of household furnishing. At the same time, I like to feel I am a fairly accom plished jungle traveler. At least I have learned to keep quiet when a honey bear is encountered on the trail or a snake entwines itself around my ankle. Life Among the Gentle Skull Collectors Wherever I go, I take my cameras, and I like best to photograph the varied folk of Sarawak-gentle, kind, and friendly people, even when they are owners of skulls.* One evening Andin came to see us in our house at Sarikei. Andin is a chief among the Sea Dyaks. Also known as Ibans, these Dyaks form the largest cultural group in Sarawak, numbering about 213,000 persons. Recent immigrants to Borneo as these things go, their ancestors may have hailed from somewhere in the Yun nan region of China. Andin, a tall man with a little straw hat trimmed in artificial red flowers atop his straight black hair, brought me an invitation to visit his house a week later and to take what photographs I wished. I accepted. Since Dyaks have a weak sense of time, I gave him a string with seven knots, one of which he would undo each day. I would arrive the day he untied the last knot. * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "Keeping House in Borneo," by Virginia Hamilton, September, 1945; "Sarawak: The Land of the White Rajahs," by Harrison W. Smith, February, 1919; and "Notes on the Sea Dyaks of Borneo," by Edwin H. Gomes, August, 1911. Paddles Swish in Sarawak, Land of Jungle Rivers Parasol hats, made of palm leaves, shield passengers in a dug out canoe gliding past a market-place landing on a placid stream. More prosperous tribesmen of Sarawak (pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable) drive their boats with outboard motors. People on the shore, having paddled miles to the bazaar, load their purchases in a canoe. Youngsters play in the shallows. To photograph Sarawak folk at work and play, Hedda Morri son journeyed hundreds of miles throughout the British Crown Colony on the northwest coast of Borneo. The German-born photographer and her husband, a British Colonial Service officer, found the pagan people gentle and friendly.