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Title: The history of Sumatra

Containing an account of the government, laws, customs and manners of the native inhabitants

Author: William Marsden

Release date: September 28, 2005 [eBook #16768]
Most recently updated: December 12, 2020

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Sue Asscher








T. Heaphy delt. A. Cardon fecit.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.



















































THE PEPPER-PLANT, Piper nigrum.
E.W. Marsden delt. Engraved by J. Swaine, Queen Street, Golden Square.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

Sinensis delt. Swaine Sc.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

THE MANGUSTIN FRUIT, Garcinia mangostana.
Engraved by J. Swaine.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

THE RAMBUTAN, Nephelium lappaceum.
L. Wilkins delt. Engraved by J. Swaine.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

THE LANSEH FRUIT, Lansium domesticum.
L. Wilkins delt. Hooker Sc.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

Maria Wilkins delt. Engraved by J. Swaine.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

THE KAMILING OR BUAH KRAS, Juglans camirium.
L. Wilkins delt. Engraved by J. Swaine.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

Marsdenia tinctoria, OR BROAD-LEAFED INDIGO.
E.W. Marsden delt. Swaine fct.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

Sinensis delt. N. Cardon fct.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

W. Bell delt. A. Cardon fc.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

W. Bell delt. A. Cardon fct.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

PLATE 11. n.1.
THE ANJING-AYER, Mustela lutra.
W. Bell delt. A. Cardon fc.

PLATE 11a. n.2. 1..
W. Bell delt. A. Cardon sc.

PLATE 12. n.1..
Sinensis delt. A. Cardon fc.

PLATE 12a. n.2.
THE KIJANG OR ROE, Cervus muntjak.
W. Bell delt. A. Cardon sc.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

PLATE 13. n.1.
THE LANDAK, Hystrix longicauda.
Sinensis delt. A. Cardon fc.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

PLATE 13a. n.2.
Sinensis delt. A. Cardon fc.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

PLATE 14. n.1.
W. Bell delt.

PLATE 14a. n.2.
THE KUBIN, Draco volans.
Sinensis delt. A. Cardon sc.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

M. de Jonville delt. Swaine sc.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

T. Heaphy delt. A. Cardon fecit.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

A. A Malay Gadoobang. B. A Batta Weapon. C. A Malay Creese.
One-third of the size of the Originals.
W. Williams del. and sculpt.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

PLATE 17a.
SUMATRAN WEAPONS. D. A Malay Creese. E. An Achenese Creese. F. A Malay Sewar.
One-third of the size of the Originals.
W. Williams del. and sculpt.


PLATE 18a.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

W. Bell delt. J.G. Stadler sculpt.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

PLATE 19a.
W. Bell delt. J.G. Stadler sculpt.



The island of Sumatra, which, in point of situation and extent, holds a conspicuous rank on the terraqueous globe, and is surpassed by few in the bountiful indulgences of nature, has in all ages been unaccountably neglected by writers insomuch that it is at this day less known, as to the interior parts more especially, than the remotest island of modern discovery; although it has been constantly resorted to by Europeans for some centuries, and the English have had a regular establishment there for the last hundred years. It is true that the commercial importance of Sumatra has much declined. It is no longer the Emporium of Eastern riches whither the traders of the West resorted with their cargoes to exchange them for the precious merchandise of the Indian Archipelago: nor does it boast now the political consequence it acquired when the rapid progress of the Portuguese successes there first received a check. That enterprising people, who caused so many kingdoms to shrink from the terror of their arms, met with nothing but disgrace in their attempts against Achin, whose monarchs made them tremble in their turn. Yet still the importance of this island in the eye of the natural historian has continued undiminished, and has equally at all periods laid claim to an attention that does not appear, at any, to have been paid to it.

The Portuguese being better warriors than philosophers, and more eager to conquer nations than to explore their manners or antiquities, it is not surprising that they should have been unable to furnish the world with any particular and just description of a country which they must have regarded with an evil eye. The Dutch were the next people from whom we had a right to expect information. They had an early intercourse with the island, and have at different times formed settlements in almost every part of it; yet they are almost silent with respect to its history.* But to what cause are we to ascribe the remissness of our own countrymen, whose opportunities have been equal to those of their predecessors or contemporaries? It seems difficult to account for it; but the fact is that, excepting a short sketch of the manners prevailing in a particular district of the island, published in the Philosophical Transactions of the year 1778, not one page of information respecting the inhabitants of Sumatra has been communicated to the public by any Englishman who has resided there.

(*Footnote. At the period when this remark was written, I was not aware that an account of the Dutch settlements and commerce in Sumatra by M. Adolph Eschels-kroon had in the preceding year been published at Hamburgh, in the German language; nor had the transactions of a literary society established at Batavia, whose first volume appeared there in 1779, yet reached this country. The work, indeed, of Valentyn, containing a general history of the European possessions in the East Indies, should have exempted a nation to which oriental learning is largely indebted from what I now consider as an unmerited reflection.)

To form a general and tolerably accurate account of this country and its inhabitants is a work attended with great and peculiar difficulties. The necessary information is not to be procured from the people themselves, whose knowledge and inquiries are to the last degree confined, scarcely extending beyond the bounds of the district where they first drew breath; and but very rarely have the almost impervious woods of Sumatra been penetrated to any considerable distance from the sea coast by Europeans, whose observations have been then imperfect, trusted perhaps to memory only, or, if committed to paper, lost to the world by their deaths. Other difficulties arise from the extraordinary diversity of national distinctions, which, under a great variety of independent governments, divide this island in many directions; and yet not from their number merely, nor from the dissimilarity in their languages or manners, does the embarrassment entirely proceed: the local divisions are perplexed and uncertain; the extent of jurisdiction of the various princes is inaccurately defined; settlers from different countries and at different periods have introduced an irregular though powerful influence that supersedes in some places the authority of the established governments, and imposes a real dominion on the natives where a nominal one is not assumed. This, in a course of years, is productive of innovations that destroy the originality and genuineness of their customs and manners, obliterate ancient distinctions, and render confused the path of an investigator.

These objections, which seem to have hitherto proved unsurmountable with such as might have been inclined to attempt the history of Sumatra, would also have deterred me from an undertaking apparently so arduous, had I not reflected that those circumstances in which consisted the principal difficulty were in fact the least interesting to the public, and of the least utility in themselves. It is of but small importance to determine with precision whether a few villages on this or that particular river belong to one petty chief or to another; whether such a nation is divided into a greater or lesser number of tribes; or which of two neighbouring powers originally did homage to the other for its title. History is only to be prized as it tends to improve our knowledge of mankind, to which such investigations contribute in a very small degree. I have therefore attempted rather to give a comprehensive than a circumstantial description of the divisions of the country into its various governments; aiming at a more particular detail in what respects the customs, opinions, arts, and industry of the original inhabitants in their most genuine state. The interests of the European powers who have established themselves on the island; the history of their settlements, and of the revolutions of their commerce I have not considered as forming a part of my plan; but these subjects, as connected with the accounts of the native inhabitants and the history of their governments, are occasionally introduced.

I was principally encouraged to this undertaking by the promises of assistance I received from some ingenious and very highly esteemed friends who resided with me in Sumatra. It has also been urged to me here in England that, as the subject is altogether new, it is a duty incumbent on me to lay the information I am in possession of, however defective, before the public, who will not object to its being circumscribed whilst its authenticity remains unimpeachable. This last quality is that which I can with the most confidence take upon me to vouch for. The greatest portion of what I have described has fallen within the scope of my own immediate observation; the remainder is either matter of common notoriety to every person residing in the island, or received upon the concurring authority of gentlemen whose situation in the East India Company's service, long acquaintance with the natives, extensive knowledge of their language, ideas, and manners, and respectability of character, render them worthy of the most implicit faith that can be given to human testimony.

I have been the more scrupulously exact in this particular because my view was not, ultimately, to write an entertaining book to which the marvellous might be thought not a little to contribute, but sincerely and conscientiously to add the small portion in my power to the general knowledge of the age; to throw some glimmering light on the path of the naturalist; and more especially to furnish those philosophers whose labours have been directed to the investigation of the history of Man with facts to serve as data in their reasonings, which are too often rendered nugatory, and not seldom ridiculous, by assuming as truths the misconceptions or wilful impositions of travellers. The study of their own species is doubtless the most interesting and important that can claim the attention of mankind; and this science, like all others, it is impossible to improve by abstract speculation merely. A regular series of authenticated facts is what alone can enable us to rise towards a perfect knowledge in it. To have added one new and firm step in this arduous ascent is a merit of which I should be proud to boast.

Of this third edition it is necessary to observe that, the former two having made their appearance so early as the years 1783 and 1784, it would long since have been prepared for the public eye had not the duties of an official situation occupied for many years the whole of my attention. During that period, however, I received from my friends abroad various useful, and, to me at least, interesting communications which have enabled me to correct some inaccuracies, to supply deficiencies, and to augment the general mass of information on the subject of an island still but imperfectly explored. To incorporate these new materials requiring that many liberties should be taken with the original contexture of the work, I became the less scrupulous of making further alterations wherever I thought they could be introduced with advantage. The branch of natural history in particular I trust will be found to have received much improvement, and I feel happy to have had it in my power to illustrate several of the more interesting productions of the vegetable and animal kingdoms by engravings executed from time to time as the drawings were procured, and which are intended to accompany the volume in a separate atlas.




If antiquity holds up to us some models, in different arts and sciences, which have been found inimitable, the moderns, on the other hand, have carried their inventions and improvements, in a variety of instances, to an extent and a degree of perfection of which the former could entertain no ideas. Among those discoveries in which we have stepped so far beyond our masters there is none more striking, or more eminently useful, than the means which the ingenuity of some, and the experience of others, have taught mankind, of determining with certainty and precision the relative situation of the various countries of the earth. What was formerly the subject of mere conjecture, or at best of vague and arbitrary computation, is now the clear result of settled rule, founded upon principles demonstratively just. It only remains for the liberality of princes and states, and the persevering industry of navigators and travellers, to effect the application of these means to their proper end, by continuing to ascertain the unknown and uncertain positions of all the parts of the world, which the barriers of nature will allow the skill and industry of man to approach.


Sumatra, the subject of the present work, is an extensive island in the East Indies, the most western of those which may be termed the Malayan Archipelago, and constituting its boundary on that side.


The equator divides it obliquely, its general direction being north-west and south-east, into almost equal parts; the one extremity lying in five degrees thirty-three minutes north, and the other in five degrees fifty-six minutes south latitude. In respect to relative position its northern point stretches into the Bay of Bengal; its south-west coast is exposed to the great Indian Ocean; towards the south it is separated by the Straits of Sunda from the island of Java; on the east by the commencement of the Eastern and China Seas from Borneo and other islands; and on the north-east by the Straits of Malacca from the peninsula of Malayo, to which, according to a tradition noticed by the Portuguese historians, it is supposed to have been anciently united.


The only point of the island whose longitude has been settled by actual observation is Fort Marlborough, near Bencoolen, the principal English settlement, standing in three degrees forty-six minutes of south latitude. From eclipses of Jupiter's satellites observed in June 1769, preparatory to an observation of the transit of the planet Venus over the sun's disc, Mr. Robert Nairne calculated its longitude to be 101 degrees 42 minutes 45 seconds; which was afterwards corrected by the Astronomer Royal to 102 degrees east of Greenwich. The situation of Achin Head is pretty accurately fixed by computation at 95 degrees 34 minutes; and longitudes of places in the Straits of Sunda are well ascertained by the short runs from Batavia, which city has the advantage of an observatory.


By the general use of chronometers in latter times the means have been afforded of determining the positions of many prominent points both on the eastern and western coasts, by which the map of the island has been considerably improved: but particular surveys, such as those of the bays and islets from Batang-kapas to Padang, made with great ability by Captain (now Lieutenant-Colonel) John Macdonald; of the coast from Priaman to the islands off Achin by Captain George Robertson; and of Siak River by Mr. Francis Lynch, are much wanted; and the interior of the country is still very imperfectly known. From sketches of the routes of Mr. Charles Campbell and of Lieutenant Hastings Dare I have been enabled to delineate the principal features of the Sarampei, Sungei Tenang and Korinchi countries, inland of Ipu, Moco-moco, and Indrapura; and advantage has been taken of all other information that could be procured. For the general materials from which the map is constructed I am chiefly indebted to the kindness of my friend, the late Mr. Alexander Dalrymple, whose indefatigable labours during a long life have contributed more than those of any other person to the improvement of Indian Hydrography. It may be proper to observe that the map of Sumatra to be found in the fifth volume of Valentyn's great work is so extremely incorrect, even in regard to those parts immediately subject to the Dutch government, as to be quite useless.


Notwithstanding the obvious situation of this island in the direct track from the ports of India to the Spice Islands and to China, it seems to have been unknown to the Greek and Roman geographers, whose information or conjectures carried them no farther than Selan-dib or Ceylon, which has claims to be considered as their Taprobane; although during the middle ages that celebrated name was almost uniformly applied to Sumatra. The single circumstance indeed of the latter being intersected by the equator (as Taprobane was said to be) is sufficient to justify the doubts of those who were disinclined to apply it to the former; and whether in fact the obscure and contradictory descriptions given by Strabo, Pomponius Mela, Pliny, and Ptolemy, belonged to any actual place, however imperfectly known; or whether, observing that a number of rare and valuable commodities were brought from an island or islands in the supposed extremity of the East, they might have been led to give place in their charts to one of vast extent, which should stand as the representative of the whole, is a question not to be hastily decided.


The idea of Sumatra being the country of Ophir, whither Solomon sent his fleets for cargoes of gold and ivory, rather than to the coast of Sofala, or other part of Africa, is too vague, and the subject wrapped in a veil of too remote antiquity, to allow of satisfactory discussion; and I shall only observe that no inference can be drawn from the name of Ophir found in maps as belonging to a mountain in this island and to another in the peninsula; these having been applied to them by European navigators, and the word being unknown to the natives.

Until the discovery of the passage to India by the Cape of Good Hope the identity of this island as described or alluded to by writers is often equivocal, or to be inferred only from corresponding circumstances.


The first of the two Arabian travellers of the ninth century, the account of whose voyages to India and China was translated by Renaudot from a manuscript written about the year 1173, speaks of a large island called Ramni, in the track between Sarandib and Sin (or China), that from the similarity of productions has been generally supposed to mean Sumatra; and this probability is strengthened by a circumstance I believe not hitherto noticed by commentators. It is said to divide the Sea of Herkend, or Indian Ocean, from the Sea of Shelahet) Salahet in Edrisi), and Salat being the Malayan term both for a strait in general, and for the well-known passage within the island of Singapura in particular, this may be fairly presumed to refer to the Straits of Malacca.


Edrisi, improperly called the Nubian geographer, who dedicated his work to Roger, King of Sicily, in the middle of the twelfth century, describes the same island, in the first climate, by the name of Al-Rami; but the particulars so nearly correspond with those given by the Arabian traveller as to show that the one account was borrowed from the other. He very erroneously however makes the distance between Sarandib and that island to be no more than three days' sail instead of fifteen. The island of Soborma, which he places in the same climate, is evidently Borneo, and the two passages leading to it are the Straits of Malacca and of Sunda. What is mentioned of Sumandar, in the second climate, has no relation whatever to Sumatra, although from the name we are led to expect it.


Marco Polo, the celebrated Venetian traveller of the thirteenth century, is the first European who speaks of this island, but under the appellation of Java minor, which he gave to it by a sort of analogy, having forgotten, or not having learned from the natives, its appropriate name. His relation, though for a long time undervalued, and by many considered as a romantic tale, and liable as it is to the charge of errors and omissions, with some improbabilities, possesses, notwithstanding, strong internal evidence of genuineness and good faith. Containing few dates, the exact period of his visit to Sumatra cannot be ascertained, but as he returned to Venice in 1295, and possibly five years might have elapsed in his subsequent tedious voyages and journeys by Ceylon, the Karnatick, Malabar, Guzerat, Persia, the shores of the Caspian and Euxine, to Genoa (in a prison at which place he is said to have dictated his narrative), we may venture to refer it to the year 1290.

Taking his departure, with a considerable equipment, from a southern port of China, which he (or his transcriber) named Zaitum, they proceeded to Ziamba (Tsiampa or Champa, adjoining to the southern part of Cochin-China) which he had previously visited in 1280, being then in the service of the emperor Kublai Khan. From thence, he says, to the island of Java major is a course of fifteen hundred miles, but it is evident that he speaks of it only from the information of others, and not as an eyewitness; nor is it probable that the expedition should have deviated so far from its proper route. He states truly that it is a mart for spices and much frequented by traders from the southern provinces of China. He then mentions in succession the small uninhabited islands of Sondur and Condur (perhaps Pulo Condore); the province of Boeach otherwise Lochac (apparently Camboja, near to which Condore is situated); the island of Petan (either Patani or Pahang in the peninsula) the passage to which, from Boeach, is across a gulf (that of Siam); and the kingdom called Malaiur in the Italian, and Maletur in the Latin version, which we can scarcely doubt to be the Malayan kingdom of Singa-Pura, at the extremity of the peninsula, or Malacca, then beginning to flourish. It is not however asserted that he touched at all these places, nor does he seem to speak from personal knowledge until his arrival at Java minor (as he calls it) or Sumatra. This island, lying in a south-eastern direction from Petan (if he does not rather mean from Malaiur, the place last mentioned) he expressly says he visited, and describes it as being in circumference two thousand miles (not very wide of the truth in a matter so vague), extending to the southward so far as to render the Polar Star invisible, and divided into eight kingdoms, two of which he did not see, and the six others he enumerates as follows: Ferlech, which I apprehend to be Parlak, at the eastern extremity of the northern coast, where they were likely to have first made the land. Here he says the people in general were idolaters; but the Saracen merchants who frequented the place had converted to the faith of Mahomet the inhabitants of the towns, whilst those of the mountains lived like beasts, and were in the practice of eating human flesh. Basma or Basman: this nearly approaches in sound to Pasaman on the western coast, but I should be more inclined to refer it to Pase (by the Portuguese written Pacem) on the northern. The manners of the people here, as in the other kingdoms, are represented as savage; and such they might well appear to one who had long resided in China. Wild elephants are mentioned, and the rhinoceros is well described. Samara: this I suppose to be Samar-langa, likewise on the northern coast, and noted for its bay. Here, he says, the expedition, consisting of two thousand persons, was constrained to remain five months, waiting the change of the monsoon; and, being apprehensive of injury from the barbarous natives, they secured themselves, by means of a deep ditch, on the land side, with its extremities embracing the port, and strengthened by bulwarks of timber. With provisions they were supplied in abundance, particularly the finest fish. There is no wheat, and the people live on rice. They are without vines, but extract an excellent liquor from trees of the palm kind by cutting off a branch and applying to it a vessel which is filled in the course of a day and night. A description is then given of the Indian or coconut. Dragoian, a name bearing some though not much resemblance to Indragiri on the eastern coast; but I doubt his having proceeded so far to the southward as that river. The customs of the natives are painted as still more atrocious in this district. When any of them are afflicted with disorders pronounced by their magicians to be incurable their relations cause them to be suffocated, and then dress and eat their flesh; justifying the practice by this argument, that if it were suffered to corrupt and breed worms, these must presently perish, and by their deaths subject the soul of the deceased to great torments. They also kill and devour such strangers caught amongst them as cannot pay a ransom. Lambri might be presumed a corruption of Jambi, but the circumstances related do not justify the analogy. It is said to produce camphor, which is not found to the southward of the equinoctial line; and also verzino, or red-wood (though I suspect benzuin to be the word intended), together with a plant which he names birci, supposed to be the bakam of the Arabs, or sappan wood of the eastern islands, the seeds of which he carried with him to Venice. In the mountainous parts were men with tails a palm long; also the rhinoceros, and other wild animals. Lastly, Fanfur or Fansur, which corresponds better to Campar than to the island of Panchur, which some have supposed it. Here the finest camphor was produced, equal in value to its weight in gold. The inhabitants live on rice and draw liquor from certain trees in the manner before described. There are likewise trees that yield a species of meal. They are of a large size, have a thin bark, under which is a hard wood about three inches in thickness, and within this the pith, from which, by means of steeping and straining it, the meal (or sago) is procured, of which he had often eaten with satisfaction. Each of these kingdoms is said to have had its peculiar language. Departing from Lambri, and steering northward from Java minor one hundred and fifty miles, they reached a small island named Necuram or Norcueran (probably Nancowry, one of the Nicobars), and afterwards an island named Angaman (Andaman), from whence, steering to the southward of west a thousand miles, they arrived at that of Zeilan or Seilam, one of the most considerable in the world. The editions consulted are chiefly the Italian of Ramusio, 1583, Latin of Muller, 1671, and French of Bergeron, 1735, varying much from each other in the orthography of proper names.


Odoricus, a friar, who commenced his travels in 1318 and died at Padua in 1331, had visited many parts of the East. From the southern part of the coast of Coromandel he proceeded by a navigation of twenty days to a country named Lamori (perhaps a corruption of the Arabian Al-rami), to the southward of which is another kingdom named Sumoltra, and not far from thence a large island named Java. His account, which was delivered orally to the person by whom it was written down, is extremely meagre and unsatisfactory.


Mandeville, who travelled in the fourteenth century, seems to have adopted the account of Odoricus when he says, "Beside the isle of Lemery is another that is clept Sumobor; and fast beside a great isle clept Java."


Nicolo di Conti, of Venice, returned from his oriental travels in 1449 and communicated to the secretary of Pope Eugenius IV a much more consistent and satisfactory account of what he had seen than any of his predecessors. After giving a description of the cinnamon and other productions of Zeilam he says he sailed to a great island named Sumatra, called by the ancients Taprobana, where he was detained one year. His account of the pepper-plant, of the durian fruit, and of the extraordinary customs, now well ascertained, of the Batech or Batta people, prove him to have been an intelligent observer.


A small work entitled Itinerarium Portugallensium, printed at Milan in 1508, after speaking of the island of Sayla, says that to the eastward of this there is another called Samotra, which we name Taprobane, distant from the city of Calechut about three months' voyage. The information appears to have been obtained from an Indian of Cranganore, on the coast of Malabar, who visited Lisbon in 1501.


Ludovico Barthema (Vartoma) of Bologna, began his travels in 1503, and in 1505, after visiting Malacca, which he describes as being the resort of a greater quantity of shipping than any other port in the world, passed over to Pedir in Sumatra, which he concludes to be Taprobane. The productions of the island, he says, were chiefly exported to Catai or China. From Sumatra he proceeded to Banda and the Moluccas, from thence returned by Java and Malacca to the west of India, and arrived at Lisbon in 1508.


Odoardus Barbosa, of Lisbon, who concluded the journal of his voyage in 1516, speaks with much precision of Sumatra. He enumerates many places, both upon the coast and inland, by the names they now bear, among which he considers Pedir as the principal, distinguishes between the Mahometan inhabitants of the coast and the Pagans of the inland country; and mentions the extensive trade carried on by the former with Cambaia in the west of India.


In the account given by Antonio Pigafetta, the companion of Ferdinand Magellan, of the famous circumnavigatory voyage performed by the Spaniards in the years 1519 to 1522, it is stated that, from their apprehension of falling in with Portuguese ships, they pursued their westerly route from the island of Timor, by the Laut Kidol, or southern ocean, leaving on their right hand the island of Zamatra (written in another part of the journal, Somatra) or Taprobana of the ancients. Mention is also made of a native of that island being on board, who served them usefully as an interpreter in many of the places they visited; and we are here furnished with the earliest specimen of the Malayan language.


Previously however to this Spanish navigation of the Indian seas, by the way of South America, the expeditions of the Portuguese round the Cape of Good Hope had rendered the island well known, both in regard to its local circumstances and the manners of its inhabitants.


In a letter from Emanuel King of Portugal to Pope Leo the Tenth, dated in 1513, he speaks of the discovery of Zamatra by his subjects; and the writings of Juan de Barros, Castaneda, Osorius, and Maffaeus, detail the operations of Diogo Lopez de Sequeira at Pedir and Pase in 1509, and those of the great Alfonso de Alboquerque at the same places, in 1511, immediately before his attack upon Malacca. Debarros also enumerates the names of twenty of the principal places of the island with considerable precision, and observes that the peninsula or chersonesus had the epithet of aurea given to it on account of the abundance of gold carried thither from Monancabo and Barros, countries in the island of C(cedilla)amatra.

Having thus noticed what has been written by persons who actually visited this part of India at an early period, or published from their oral communication by contemporaries, it will not be thought necessary to multiply authorities by quoting the works of subsequent commentators and geographers, who must have formed their judgments from the same original materials.


With respect to the name of Sumatra, we perceive that it was unknown both to the Arabian travellers and to Marco Polo, who indeed was not likely to acquire it from the savage natives with whom he had intercourse. The appellation of Java minor which he gives to the island seems to have been quite arbitrary, and not grounded upon any authority, European or Oriental, unless we can suppose that he had determined it to be the I'azadith nesos of Ptolemy; but from the other parts of his relation it does not appear that he was acquainted with the work of that great geographer, nor could he have used it with any practical advantage. At all events it could not have led him to the distinction of a greater and a lesser Java; and we may rather conclude that, having visited (or heard of) the great island properly so called, and not being able to learn the real name of another, which from its situation and size might well be regarded as a sister island, he applied the same to both, with the relative epithets of major and minor. That Ptolemy's Jaba-dib or dio was intended, however vaguely, for the island of Java, cannot be doubted. It must have been known to the Arabian merchants, and he was indefatigable in his inquiries; but at the same time that they communicated the name they might be ill qualified to describe its geographical position.

In the rude narrative of Odoricus we perceive the first approach to the modern name in the word Sumoltra. Those who immediately followed him write it with a slight, and often inconsistent, variation in the orthography, Sumotra, Samotra, Zamatra, and Sumatra. But none of these travellers inform us from whom they learned it; whether from the natives or from persons who had been in the habits of frequenting it from the continent of India; which latter I think the more probable. Reland, an able oriental scholar, who directed his attention to the languages of the islands, says it obtains its appellation from a certain high land called Samadra, which he supposes to signify in the language of the country a large ant; but in fact there is not any spot so named; and although there is some resemblance between semut, the word for an ant, and the name in question, the etymology is quite fanciful. Others have imagined that they find an easy derivation in the word samatra, to be met with in some Spanish or Portuguese dictionaries, as signifying a sudden storm of wind and rain, and from whence our seamen may have borrowed the expression; but it is evident that the order of derivation is here reversed, and that the phrase is taken from the name of the land in the neighbourhood of which such squalls prevail. In a Persian work of the year 1611 the name of Shamatrah occurs as one of those places where the Portuguese had established themselves; and in some very modern Malayan correspondence I find the word Samantara employed (along with another more usual, which will be hereafter mentioned) to designate this island.


These, it is true, are not entirely free from the suspicion of having found their way to the Persians and Malays through the medium of European intercourse; but to a person who is conversant with the languages of the continent of India it must be obvious that the name, however written, bears a strong resemblance to words in the Sanskrit language: nor should this appear extraordinary when we consider (what is now fully admitted) that a large proportion of the Malayan is derived from that source, and that the names of many places in this and the neighbouring countries (such as Indrapura and Indragiri in Sumatra, Singapura at the extremity of the peninsula, and Sukapura and the mountain of Maha-meru in Java) are indisputably of Hindu origin. It is not my intention however to assign a precise etymology; but in order to show the general analogy to known Sanskrit terms it may be allowed to instance Samuder, the ancient name of the capital of the Carnatik, afterwards called Bider; Samudra-duta, which occurs in the Hetopadesa, as signifying the ambassador of the sea; the compound formed of su, good, and matra, measure; and more especially the word samantara, which implying a boundary, intermediate, or what lies between, might be thought to apply to the peculiar situation of an island intermediate between two oceans and two straits.


When on a former occasion it was asserted (and with too much confidence) that the name of Sumatra is unknown to the natives, who are ignorant of its being an island, and have no general name for it, the expression ought to have been confined to those natives with whom I had an opportunity of conversing, in the southern part of the west coast, where much genuineness of manners prevails, with little of the spirit of commercial enterprise or communication with other countries. But even in situations more favourable for acquiring knowledge I believe it will be found that the inhabitants of very large islands, and especially if surrounded by smaller ones, are accustomed to consider their own as terra firma, and to look to no other geographical distinction than that of the district or nation to which they belong. Accordingly we find that the more general names have commonly been given by foreigners, and, as the Arabians chose to call this island Al-rami or Lameri, so the Hindus appear to have named it Sumatra or Samantara.


Since that period however, having become much better acquainted with Malayan literature, and perused the writings of various parts of the peninsula and islands where the language is spoken and cultivated, I am enabled to say that Sumatra is well known amongst the eastern people and the better-informed of the natives themselves by the two names of Indalas and Pulo percha (or in the southern dialect Pritcho).


Of the meaning or analogies of the former, which seems to have been applied to it chiefly by the neighbouring people of Java, I have not any conjecture, and only observe its resemblance (doubtless accidental) to the Arabian denomination of Spain or Andalusia. In one passage I find the Straits of Malacca termed the sea of Indalas, over which, we are gravely told, a bridge was thrown by Alexander the Great.


The latter and more common name is from a Malayan word signifying fragments or tatters, and the application is whimsically explained by the condition of the sails of the vessel in which the island was circumnavigated for the first time; but it may with more plausibility be supposed to allude to the broken or intersected land for which the eastern coast is so remarkable. It will indeed be seen in the map that in the vicinity of what are called Rupat's Straits there is a particular place of this description named Pulo Percha, or the Broken Islands. As to the appellation of Pulo Ber-api, or Volcano Island, which has also occurred, it is too indefinite for a proper name in a region of the globe where the phenomenon is by no means rare or peculiar, and should rather be considered as a descriptive epithet.


In respect to magnitude, it ranks amongst the largest islands in the world; but its breadth throughout is determined with so little accuracy that any attempt to calculate its superficies must be liable to very considerable error. Like Great Britain it is broadest at the southern extremity, narrowing gradually to the north; and to this island it is perhaps in size more nearly allied than in shape.


A chain of mountains runs through its whole extent, the ranges being in many parts double and treble, but situated in general much nearer to the western than the opposite coast, being on the former seldom so much as twenty miles from the sea, whilst on the eastern side the extent of level country, in the broader part of the island, through which run the great rivers of Siak, Indragiri, Jambi, and Palembang, cannot be less than a hundred and fifty. The height of these mountains, though very great, is not sufficient to occasion their being covered with snow during any part of the year, as those in South America between the tropics are found to be. Mount Ophir,* or Gunong Pasaman, situated immediately under the equinoctial line, is supposed to be the highest visible from the sea, its summit being elevated thirteen thousand eight hundred and forty-two feet above that level; which is no more than two-thirds of the altitude the French astronomers have ascribed to the loftiest of the Andes, but somewhat exceeds that of the Peak of Tenerife.

(*Footnote. The following is the result of observations made by Mr. Robert Nairne of the height of Mount Ophir:

Height of the peak above the level of the sea, in feet: 13,842.
English miles: 2.6216.
Nautical miles: 2.26325.
Inland, nearly: 26 nautical miles.
Distance from Massang Point: 32 nautical miles.
Distance at sea before the peak is sunk under the horizon: 125 nautical miles.
Latitude of the peak: 0 degrees 6 minutes north.
A volcano mountain, south of Ophir, is short of that in height by: 1377 feet.
Inland, nearly 29 nautical miles.
In order to form a comparison I subjoin the height, as computed by mathematicians, of other mountains in different parts of the world:
Chimborazo, the highest of the Andes, 3220 toises or 20,633 English feet. Of this about 2400 feet from the summit are covered with eternal snow.
Carazon, ascended by the French astronomers: 15,800 English feet.
Peak of Tenerife. Feuille: 2270 toises or 13,265 feet.
Mount Blanc, Savoy. Sr. G. Shuckburgh: 15,662.
Mount Etna, Sr. G. Shuckburgh: 10,954.

Between these ridges of mountains are extensive plains, considerably elevated above the surface of the maritime lands, where the air is cool; and from this advantage they are esteemed the most eligible portion of the country, are consequently the best inhabited and the most cleared from woods, which elsewhere in general throughout Sumatra cover both hills and valleys with an eternal shade. Here too are found many large and beautiful lakes that extend at intervals through the heart of the country, and facilitate much the communication between the different parts, but their dimensions, situation, or direction, are very little known, though the natives make frequent mention of them in the accounts of their journeys. Those principally spoken of are: one of great extent but unascertained situation in the Batta country; one in the Korinchi country, lately visited by Mr. C. Campbel; and another in the Lampong country, extending towards Pasummah, navigated by boats of a large class with sails, and requires a day and night to effect the passage across it; which may be the case in the rainy season, as that part of the island through which the Tulang Bawang River flows is subject to extensive inundations, causing it to communicate with the river of the Palembang. In a journey made many years since by a son of the sultan of the latter place, to visit the English resident at Croee, he is said to have proceeded by the way of that lake. It is much to be regretted that the situation of so important a feature in the geography of the island should be at this day the subject of uncertain conjecture.


Waterfalls and cascades are not uncommon, as may be supposed in a country of so uneven a surface as that of the western coast. A remarkable one descends from the north side of Mount Pugong. The island of Mansalar, lying off and affording shelter to the bay of Tappanuli, presents to the view a fall of very striking appearance, the reservoir of which the natives assert (in their fondness for the marvellous) to be a huge shell of the species called kima (Chama gigas) found in great quantities in that bay, as well as at New Guinea and other parts of the east.* At the bottom of this fall ships occasionally take in their water without being under the necessity of landing their casks; but such attempts are liable to extreme hazard. A ship from England (the Elgin) attracted by the appearance from sea of a small but beautiful cascade descending perpendicularly from the steep cliff, that, like an immense rampart, lines the seashore near Manna, sent a boat in order to procure fresh water; but she was lost in the surf, and the crew drowned.

(*Footnote. The largest I have seen was brought from Tappanuli by Mr. James Moore of Arno's Vale in the north of Ireland. It is 3 feet 3 1/2 inches in its longest diameter, and 2 feet 1 1/4 inches across. One of the methods of taking them in deep water is by thrusting a long bamboo between the valves as they lie open, when, by the immediate closure which follows, they are made fast. The substance of the shell is perfectly white, several inches thick, is worked by the natives into arm-rings, and in the hands of our artists is found to take a polish equal to the finest statuary marble.)


No country in the world is better supplied with water than the western coast of the island. Springs are found wherever they are sought for, and the rivers are innumerable; but they are in general too small and rapid for the purpose of navigation. The vicinity of the mountains to that side of the island occasions this profusion of rivulets, and at the same time the imperfections that attend them, by not allowing them space to accumulate to any considerable size. On the eastern coast the distance of the range of hills not only affords a larger scope for the course of the rivers before they disembogue, presents a greater surface for the receptacle of rain and vapours, and enables them to unite a greater number of subsidiary streams, but also renders the flux more steady and uniform by the extent of level space than where the torrent rolls more immediately from the mountains. But it is not to be understood that on the western side there are no large rivers. Kataun, Indrapura, Tabuyong, and Sinkel have a claim to that title, although inferior in size to Palembang, Jambi, Indragiri, and Siak. The latter derive also a material advantage from the shelter given to them by the peninsula of Malacca, and Borneo, Banca, and the other islands of the Archipelago, which, breaking the force of the sea, prevent the surf from forming those bars that choke the entrance of the south-western rivers, and render them impracticable to boats of any considerable draught of water. These labour too under this additional inconvenience that scarcely any except the largest run out to sea in a direct course. The continual action of the surf, more powerful than the ordinary force of the stream, throws up at their mouths a bank of sand, which in many instances has the effect of diverting their course to a direction parallel with the shore, between the cliffs and the beach, until the accumulated waters at length force their way wherever there is found the weakest resistance. In the southerly monsoon, when the surfs are usually highest, and the streams, from the dryness of the weather, least rapid, this parallel course is of the greatest extent; and Moco-moco River takes a course, at times, of two or three miles in this manner, before it mixes with the sea; but as the rivers swell with the rain they gradually remove obstructions and recover their natural channel.


The heat of the air is by no means so intense as might be expected in a country occupying the middle of the torrid zone. It is more temperate than in many regions without the tropics, the thermometer, at the most sultry hour, which is about two in the afternoon, generally fluctuating between 82 and 85 degrees. I do not recollect to have ever seen it higher than 86 in the shade, at Fort Marlborough; although at Natal, in latitude 34 minutes north, it is not unfrequently at 87 and 88 degrees. At sunrise it is usually as low as 70; the sensation of cold however is much greater than this would seem to indicate, as it occasions shivering and a chattering of the teeth; doubtless from the greater relaxation of the body and openness of the pores in that climate; for the same temperature in England would be esteemed a considerable degree of warmth. These observations on the state of the air apply only to the districts near the sea-coast, where, from their comparatively low situation, and the greater compression of the atmosphere, the sun's rays operate more powerfully. Inland, as the country ascends, the degree of heat decreases rapidly, insomuch that beyond the first range of hills the inhabitants find it expedient to light fires in the morning, and continue them till the day is advanced, for the purpose of warming themselves; a practice unknown in the other parts of the island; and in the journal of Lieutenant Dare's expedition it appears that during one night's halt on the summit of a mountain, in the rainy season, he lost several of his party from the severity of the weather, whilst the thermometer was not lower than 40 degrees. To the cold also they attribute the backwardness in growth of the coconut-tree, which is sometimes twenty or thirty years in coming to perfection, and often fails to produce fruit. Situations are uniformly colder in proportion to their height above the level of the sea, unless where local circumstances, such as the neighbourhood of sandy plains, contribute to produce a contrary effect; but in Sumatra the coolness of the air is promoted by the quality of the soil, which is clayey, and the constant and strong verdure that prevails, which, by absorbing the sun's rays, prevents the effect of their reflection. The circumstance of the island being so narrow contributes also to its general temperateness, as wind directly or recently from the sea is seldom possessed of any violent degree of heat, usually acquired in passing over large tracts of land in the tropical climates. Frost, snow, and hail I believe to be unknown to the inhabitants. The hill-people in the country of Lampong speak indeed of a peculiar kind of rain that falls there, which some have supposed to be what we call sleet; but the fact is not sufficiently established. The atmosphere is in common more cloudy than in Europe, which is sensibly perceived from the infrequency of clear starlight nights. This may proceed from the greater rarefaction of the air occasioning the clouds to descend lower and become more opaque, or merely from the stronger heat exhaling from the land and sea a thicker and more plentiful vapour. The fog, called kabut by the natives, which is observed to rise every morning among the distant hills, is dense to a surprising degree; the extremities of it, even when near at hand, being perfectly defined; and it seldom is observed to disperse till about three hours after sunrise.


That extraordinary phenomenon, the waterspout, so well known to and described by navigators, frequently makes its appearance in these parts, and occasionally on shore. I had seen many at sea; but the largest and most distinct (from its proximity) that I had an opportunity of observing, presented itself to me whilst on horseback. I was so near to it that I could perceive what appeared to be an inward gyration, distinct from the volume surrounding it or body of the tube; but am aware that this might have been a deception of sight, and that it was the exterior part which actually revolved--as quiescent bodies seem to persons in quick motion, to recede in a contrary direction. Like other waterspouts it was sometimes perpendicular and sometimes curved, like the pipe of a still-head, its course tending in a direction from Bencoolen Bay across the peninsula on which the English settlement stands; but before it reached the sea on the other side it diminished by degrees, as if from want of the supplies that should be furnished by its proper element, and collected itself into the cloud from which it depended, without any consequent fall of water or destructive effect. The whole operation we may presume to be of the nature of a whirlwind, and the violent ebullition in that part of the sea to which the lower extremity of the tube points to be a corresponding effect to the agitation of the leaves or sand on shore, which in some instances are raised to a vast height; but in the formation of the waterspout the rotatory motion of the wind acts not only upon the surface of the land or sea, but also upon the overhanging cloud, and seems to draw it downwards.


Thunder and lightning are there so very frequent as scarcely to attract the attention of persons long resident in the country. During the north-west monsoon the explosions are extremely violent; the forked lightning shoots in all directions, and the whole sky seems on fire, whilst the ground is agitated in a degree little inferior to the motion of a slight earthquake. In the south-east monsoon the lightning is more constant, but the coruscations are less fierce or bright, and the thunder is scarcely audible. It would seem that the consequences of these awful meteors are not so fatal there as in Europe, few instances occurring of lives being lost or buildings destroyed by the explosions, although electrical conductors have never been employed. Perhaps the paucity of inhabitants in proportion to the extent of country and the unsubstantial materials of the houses may contribute to this observation. I have seen some trees, however, that have been shattered in Sumatra by the action of lightning.*

(*Footnote. Since the above was written accounts have been received that a magazine at Fort Marlborough, containing four hundred barrels of powder, was fired by lightning and blown up on the 18th of March 1782.)


The causes which produce a successive variety of seasons in the parts of the earth without the tropics, having no relation or respect to the region of the torrid zone, a different order takes place there, and the year is distinguished into two divisions, usually called the rainy and dry monsoons or seasons, from the weather peculiar to each. In the several parts of India these monsoons are governed by various particular laws in regard to the time of their commencement, period of duration, circumstances attending their change, and direction of the prevailing wind according to the nature and situation of the lands and coasts where their influence is felt. The farther peninsula of India, where the kingdom of Siam lies, experiences at the same time the effects of opposite seasons; the western side, in the Bay of Bengal, being exposed for half the year to continual rains, whilst on the eastern side the finest weather is enjoyed; and so on the different coasts of Indostan the monsoons exert their influence alternately; the one remaining serene and undisturbed whilst the other is agitated by storms. Along the coast of Coromandel the change, or breaking up of the monsoon as it is called, is frequently attended with the most violent gales of wind.

On the west coast of Sumatra, southward of the equinoctial, the south-east monsoon or dry season begins about May and slackens in September: the north-west monsoon begins about November, and the hard rains cease about March. The monsoons for the most part commence and leave off gradually there; the months of April and May, October and November generally affording weather and winds variable and uncertain.


The causes of these periodical winds have been investigated by several able naturalists, whose systems, however, do not entirely correspond either in the principles laid down or in their application to the effects known to be produced in different parts of the globe. I shall summarily mention what appear to be the most evident, or probable at least, among the general laws, or inferences, which have been deduced from the examination of this subject. If the sea were perfectly uninterrupted and free from the irregular influence of lands, a perpetual easterly wind would prevail in all that space comprehended between the twenty-eighth or thirteenth degrees of north and south latitude. This is primarily occasioned by the diurnal revolution of the earth upon its axis from west to east; but whether through the operation of the sun, proceeding westward, upon the atmospheric fluid, or the rapidity of revolution of the solid body, which leaves behind it that fluid with which it is surrounded, and thereby causes it virtually to recede in a contrary direction; or whether these principles cooperate, or unequally oppose each other, as has been ingeniously contended, I shall not take upon me to decide. It is sufficient to say that such an effect appears to be the first general law of the tropical winds. Whatever may be the degree of the sun's influence upon the atmosphere in his transient diurnal course, it cannot be doubted but that, in regard to his station in the path of the ecliptic, his power is considerable. Towards that region of the air which is rarefied by the more immediate presence of the heat, the colder and denser parts will naturally flow. Consequently from about, and a few degrees beyond, the tropics, on either side, the air tends towards the equator; and, combining with the general eastern current before mentioned, produces (or would, if the surface were uniform) a north-east wind in the northern division, and a south-east in the southern; varying in the extent of its course as the sun happens to be more or less remote at the time. These are denominated the trade-winds, and are the subject of the second general observation. It is evident that, with respect to the middle space between the tropics, those parts which at one season of the year lie to the northward of the sun, are, during another, to the southward of him; and of course that an alteration of the effects last described must take place, according to the relative situation of the luminary; or in other words, that the principle which causes at one time a north-east wind to prevail at any particular spot in those latitudes must, when the circumstances are changed, occasion a south-east wind. Such may be esteemed the outline of the periodical winds, which undoubtedly depend upon the alternate course of the sun northwards and southwards; and this I state as the third general law. But although this may be conformable with experience in extensive oceans, yet, in the vicinity of continents and great islands, deviations are remarked that almost seem to overturn the principle. Along the western coast of Africa and in some parts of the Indian seas, the periodical winds, or monsoons as they are termed in the latter, blow from the west-north-west and south-west, according to the situation, extent, and nature of the nearest lands; the effect of which upon the incumbent atmosphere, when heated by the sun at those seasons in which he is vertical, is prodigious, and possibly superior to that of any other cause which contributes to the production or direction of wind. To trace the operation of this irregular principle through the several winds prevalent in India, and their periodical failures and changes, would prove an intricate but, I conceive, by no means an impossible task.* It is foreign however to my present purpose, and I shall only observe that the north-east monsoon is changed, on the western coast of Sumatra, to north-west or west-north-west by the influence of the land. During the south-east monsoon the wind is found to blow there, between that point and south. Whilst the sun continues near the equator the winds are variable, nor is their direction fixed till he has advanced several degrees towards the tropic: and this is the cause of the monsoons usually setting in, as I have observed, about May and November, instead of the equinoctial months.

(*Footnote. It has been attempted, and with much ingenious reasoning, by Mr. Semeyns in the third volume of the Haerlem Transactions which have but lately fallen into my hands.)


Thus much is sufficient with regard to the periodical winds. I shall proceed to give an account of those distinguished by the appellation of land and sea breezes, which require from me a minuter investigation, both because, as being more local, they more especially belong to my subject, and that their nature has hitherto been less particularly treated of by naturalists.

In this island, as well as all other countries between the tropics of any considerable extent, the wind uniformly blows from the sea to the land for a certain number of hours in the four and twenty, and then changes and blows for about as many from the land to the sea; excepting only when the monsoon rages with remarkable violence, and even at such time the wind rarely fails to incline a few points, in compliance with the efforts of the subordinate clause, which has not power, under these circumstances, to produce an entire change. On the west coast of Sumatra the sea-breeze usually sets in, after an hour or two of calm, about ten in the forenoon, and continues till near six in the evening. About seven the land-breeze comes off, and prevails through the night till towards eight in the morning, when it gradually dies away.


These depend upon the same general principle that causes and regulates all other wind. Heat acting upon air rarefies it, by which it becomes specifically lighter, and mounts upward. The denser parts of the atmosphere which surround that so rarefied, rush into the vacuity from their superior weight; endeavouring, as the laws of gravity require, to restore the equilibrium. Thus in the round buildings where the manufactory of glass is carried on, the heat of the furnace in the centre being intense, a violent current of air may be perceived to force its way in, through doors or crevices, on opposite sides of the house. As the general winds are caused by the DIRECT influence of the sun's rays upon the atmosphere, that particular deviation of the current distinguished by the name of land and sea breezes is caused by the influence of his REFLECTED rays, returned from the earth or sea on which they strike. The surface of the earth is more suddenly heated by the rays of the sun than that of the sea, from its greater density and state of rest; consequently it reflects those rays sooner and with more power: but, owing also to its density, the heat is more superficial than that imbibed by the sea, which becomes more intimately warmed by its transparency and by its motion, continually presenting a fresh surface to the sun. I shall now endeavour to apply these principles. By the time the rising sun has ascended to the height of thirty or forty degrees above the horizon the earth has acquired, and reflected on the body of air situated over it, a degree of heat sufficient to rarefy it and destroy its equilibrium; in consequence of which the body of air above the sea, not being equally, or scarcely at all, rarefied, rushes towards the land and the same causes operating so long as the sun continues above the horizon, a constant sea-breeze, or current of air from sea to land, prevails during that time. From about an hour before sunset the surface of the earth begins to lose the heat it has acquired from the more perpendicular rays. That influence of course ceases, and a calm succeeds. The warmth imparted to the sea, not so violent as that of the land but more deeply imbibed, and consequently more permanent, now acts in turn, and by the rarefaction it causes draws towards its region the land air, grown cooler, more dense, and heavier, which continues thus to flow back till the earth, by a renovation of its heat in the morning, once more obtains the ascendancy. Such is the general rule, conformable with experience, and founded, as it seems to me, in the laws of motion and the nature of things. The following observations will serve to corroborate what I have advanced, and to throw additional light on the subject for the information and guidance of any future investigator.

The periodical winds which are supposed to blow during six months from the north-west and as many from the south-east rarely observe this regularity, except in the very heart of the monsoon; inclining, almost at all times, several points to seaward, and not unfrequently blowing from the south-west or in a line perpendicular to the coast. This must be attributed to the influence of that principle which causes the land and sea winds proving on these occasions more powerful than the principle of the periodical winds; which two seem here to act at right angles with each other; and as the influence of either is prevalent the winds draw towards a course perpendicular to or parallel with the line of the coast. Excepting when a squall or other sudden alteration of weather, to which these climates are particularly liable, produces an irregularity, the tendency of the land-wind at night has almost ever a correspondence with the sea-wind of the preceding or following day; not blowing in a direction immediately opposite to it (which would be the case if the former were, as some writers have supposed, merely the effect of the accumulation and redundance of the latter, without any positive cause) but forming an equal and contiguous angle, of which the coast is the common side. Thus, if the coast be conceived to run north and south, the same influence, or combination of influences, which produces a sea-wind at north-west produces a land-wind at north-east; or adapting the case to Sumatra, which lies north-west and south-east, a sea-wind at south is preceded or followed by a land-wind at east. This remark must not be taken in too strict a sense, but only as the result of general observation. If the land-wind, in the course of the night, should draw round from east to north it would be looked upon as an infallible prognostic of a west or north-west wind the next day. On this principle it is that the natives foretell the direction of the wind by the noise of the surf at night, which if heard from the northward is esteemed the forerunner of a northerly wind, and vice versa. The quarter from which the noise is heard depends upon the course of the land-wind, which brings the sound with it, and drowns it to leeward--the land-wind has a correspondence with the next day's sea-wind--and thus the divination is accounted for.

The effect of the sea-wind is not perceived to the distance of more than three or four leagues from the shore in common, and for the most part it is fainter in proportion to the distance. When it first sets in it does not commence at the remoter extremity of its limits but very near the shore, and gradually extends itself farther to sea, as the day advances; probably taking the longer or shorter course as the day is more or less hot. I have frequently observed the sails of ships at the distance of four, six, or eight miles, quite becalmed, whilst a fresh sea-breeze was at the time blowing upon the shore. In an hour afterwards they have felt its effect.*

(*Footnote. This observation as well as many others I have made on the subject I find corroborated in the Treatise before quoted from the Haerlem Transactions which I had not seen when the present work was first published.)

Passing along the beach about six o'clock in the evening when the sea-breeze is making its final efforts, I have perceived it to blow with a considerable degree of warmth, owing to the heat the sea had by that time acquired, which would soon begin to divert the current of air towards it when it had first overcome the vis inertiae that preserves motion in a body after the impelling power has ceased to operate. I have likewise been sensible of a degree of warmth on passing, within two hours after sunset, to leeward of a lake of fresh water; which proves the assertion of water imbibing a more permanent heat than earth. In the daytime the breeze would be rendered cool in crossing the same lake.

Approaching an island situated at a distance from any other land, I was struck with the appearance of the clouds about nine in the morning which then formed a perfect circle round it, the middle being a clear azure, and resembled what the painters call a glory. This I account for from the reflected rays of the sun rarefying the atmosphere immediately over the island, and equally in all parts, which caused a conflux of the neighbouring air, and with in the circumjacent clouds. These last, tending uniformly to the centre, compressed each other at a certain distance from it, and, like the stones in an arch of masonry, prevented each other's nearer approach. That island, however, does not experience the vicissitude of land and sea breezes, being too small, and too lofty, and situated in a latitude where the trade or perpetual winds prevail in their utmost force. In sandy countries, the effect of the sun's rays penetrating deeply, a more permanent heat is produced, the consequence of which should be the longer continuance of the sea-breeze in the evening; and agreeably to this supposition I have been informed that on the coast of Coromandel it seldom dies away before ten at night. I shall only add on this subject that the land-wind on Sumatra is cold, chilly, and damp; an exposure to it is therefore dangerous to the health, and sleeping in it almost certain death.


The soil of the western side of Sumatra may be spoken of generally as a stiff, reddish clay, covered with a stratum or layer of black mould, of no considerable depth. From this there springs a strong and perpetual verdure of rank grass, brushwood, or timber-trees, according as the country has remained a longer or shorter time undisturbed by the consequences of population, which, being in most places extremely thin, it follows that a great proportion of the island, and especially to the southward, is an impervious forest.


Along the western coast of the island the low country, or space of land which extends from the seashore to the foot of the mountains, is intersected and rendered uneven to a surprising degree by swamps whose irregular and winding course may in some places be traced in a continual chain for many miles till they discharge themselves either into the sea, some neighbouring lake, or the fens that are so commonly found near the banks of the larger rivers and receive their overflowings in the rainy monsoons. The spots of land which these swamps encompass become so many islands and peninsulas, sometimes flat at top, and often mere ridges; having in some places a gentle declivity, and in others descending almost perpendicularly to the depth of a hundred feet. In few parts of the country of Bencoolen, or of the northern districts adjacent to it, could a tolerably level space of four hundred yards square be marked out. I have often, from an elevated situation, where a wider range was subjected to the eye, surveyed with admiration the uncommon face which nature assumes, and made inquiries and attended to conjectures on the causes of these inequalities. Some choose to attribute them to the successive concussions of earthquakes through a course of centuries. But they do not seem to be the effect of such a cause. There are no abrupt fissures; the hollows and swellings are for the most part smooth and regularly sloping so as to exhibit not unfrequently the appearance of an amphitheatre, and they are clothed with verdure from the summit to the edge of the swamp. From this latter circumstance it is also evident that they are not, as others suppose, occasioned by the falls of heavy rains that deluge the country for one half of the year; which is likewise to be inferred from many of them having no apparent outlet and commencing where no torrent could be conceived to operate. The most summary way of accounting for this extraordinary unevenness of surface were to conclude that, in the original construction of our globe, Sumatra was thus formed by the same hand which spread out the sandy plains of Arabia, and raised up the alps and Andes beyond the region of the clouds. But this is a mode of solution which, if generally adopted, would become an insuperable bar to all progress in natural knowledge by damping curiosity and restraining research. Nature, we know from sufficient experience, is not only turned from her original course by the industry of man, but also sometimes checks and crosses her own career. What has happened in some instances it is not unfair to suppose may happen in others; nor is it presumption to trace the intermediate causes of events which are themselves derived from one first, universal, and eternal principle.


To me it would seem that the springs of water with which these parts of the island abound in an uncommon degree operate directly, though obscurely, to the producing this irregularity of the surface of the earth. They derive their number and an extraordinary portion of activity from the loftiness of the ranges of mountains that occupy the interior country, and intercept and collect the floating vapours. Precipitated into rain at such a hight, the water acquires in its descent through the fissures or pores of these mountains a considerable force which exerts itself in every direction, lateral and perpendicular, to procure a vent. The existence of these copious springs is proved in the facility with which wells are everywhere sunk; requiring no choice of ground but as it may respect the convenience of the proprietor; all situations, whether high or low, being prodigal of this valuable element. Where the approaches of the sea have rendered the cliffs abrupt, innumerable rills, or rather a continued moisture, is seen to ooze through and trickle down the steep. Where on the contrary the sea has retired and thrown up banks of sand in its retreat I have remarked the streams of water, at a certain level and commonly between the boundaries of the tide, effecting their passage through the loose and feeble barrier opposed to them. In short, every part of the low country is pregnant with springs that labour for the birth; and these continual struggles, this violent activity of subterraneous waters, must gradually undermine the plains above. The earth is imperceptibly excavated, the surface settles in, and hence the inequalities we speak of. The operation is slow but unremitting, and, I conceive, fully capable of the effect.


The earth of Sumatra is rich in minerals and other fossil productions.


No country has been more famous in all ages for gold, and, though the sources from whence it is drawn may be supposed in some measure exhausted by the avarice and industry of ages, yet at this day the quantity procured is very considerable, and doubtless might be much increased were the simple labour of the gatherer assisted by a knowledge of the arts of mineralogy.


There are also mines of copper, iron, and tin. Sulphur is gathered in large quantities about the numerous volcanoes.


Saltpetre the natives procure by a process of their own from the earth which is found impregnated with it; chiefly in extensive caves that have been, from the beginning of time, the haunt of a certain species of birds, of whose dung the soil is formed.


Coal, mostly washed down by the floods, is collected in several parts, particularly at Kataun, Ayer-rammi, and Bencoolen. It is light and not esteemed very good; but I am informed that this is the case with all coal found near the surface of the earth, and, as the veins are observed to run in an inclined direction until the pits have some depth, the fossil must be of an indifferent quality. The little island of Pisang, near the foot of Mount Pugong, was supposed to be chiefly a bed of rock crystal, but upon examination of specimens taken from thence they proved to be calcareous spar.


Mineral and hot springs have been discovered in many districts. In taste the waters mostly resemble those of Harrowgate, being nauseous to the palate.


The oleum terrae, or earth oil, used chiefly as a preservative against the destructive ravages of the white-ants, is collected at Ipu and elsewhere.*

(*Footnote. The fountain of Naphtha or liquid balsam found at Pedir, so much celebrated by the Portuguese writers, is doubtless this oleum terrae, or meniak tanah, as it is called by the Malays.)


There is scarcely any species of hard rock to be met with in the low parts of the island near the seashore. Besides the ledges of coral, which are covered by the tide, that which generally prevails is the napal, as it is called by the inhabitants, forming the basis of the red cliffs, and not infrequently the beds of the rivers. Though this napal has the appearance of rock it possesses in fact so little solidity that it is difficult to pronounce whether it be a soft stone or only an indurated clay. The surface of it becomes smooth and glossy by a slight attrition, and to the touch resembles soap, which is its most striking characteristic; but it is not soluble in water and makes no effervescence with acids. Its colour is either grey, brown, or red, according to the nature of the earth that prevails in its composition. The red napal has by much the smallest proportion of sand, and seems to possess all the qualities of the steatite or soap-earth found in Cornwall and other countries. The specimens of stone which I brought from the hills in the neighbourhood of Bencoolen were pronounced by some mineralogists, to whom I showed them at the time, to be granite; but upon more particular examination they appear to be a species of trap, consisting principally of feldspar and hornblende, of a greyish colour and nearly similar to the mountain stone of North Wales.


Where the encroachments of the sea have undermined the land the cliffs are left abrupt and naked, in some places to a very considerable height. In these many curious fossils are discovered, such as petrified wood, and seashells of various sorts. Hypotheses on this subject have been so ably supported and so powerfully attacked that I shall not presume to intrude myself in the lists. I shall only observe that, being so near the sea, many would hesitate to allow such discoveries to be of any weight in proving a violent alteration to have taken place in the surface of the terraqueous globe; whilst, on the other hand, it is unaccountable how, in the common course of natural events, such extraneous matter should come to be lodged in strata at the height perhaps of fifty feet above the level of the water, and as many below the surface of the land.


Here are likewise found various species of earths which might be applied to valuable purposes, as painters' colours, and otherwise. The most common are the yellow and red, probably ochres, and the white, which answers the description of the milenum of the ancients.


There are a number of volcano mountains in this, as in almost all the other islands of the eastern Archipelago. They are called in the Malay language gunong-api, or more correctly, gunong ber-api. Lava has been seen to flow from a considerable one near Priamang; but I have never heard of its causing any other damage than the burning of woods. This however may be owing to the thinness of population, which does not render it necessary for the inhabitants to settle in a situation that exposes them to danger of this kind. The only volcano I had an opportunity of observing opened in the side of a mountain, about twenty miles inland of Bencoolen, one-fourth way from its top, as nearly as I can judge. It scarcely ever failed to emit smoke; but the column was only visible for two or three hours in the morning, seldom rising and preserving its form, above the upper edge of the hill, which is not of a conical shape but extending with a gradual slope.


The high trees with which the country thereabout is covered, prevent the crater from being discernible at a distance; and this proves that the spot is not considerably raised or otherwise affected by the earthquakes which are very frequently felt there. Sometimes it has emitted smoke upon these occasions, and in other instances not. Yet during a smart earthquake which happened a few years before my arrival it was remarked to send forth flame, which it is rarely known to do.* The apprehension of the European inhabitants however is rather more excited when it continues any length of time without a tendency to an eruption, as they conceive it to be the vent by which the inflammable matter escapes that would otherwise produce these commotions of the earth. Comparatively with the descriptions I have read of earthquakes in South America, Calabria, and other countries, those which happen in Sumatra are generally very slight; and the usual manner of building renders them but little formidable to the natives.

(*Footnote. Some gentlemen who deny the fact of its having at any time emitted flame, conjecture that what exhibits the appearance of smoke is more probably vapour arising from a considerable hot spring. The natives speak of it as a volcano.)


The most severe that I have known was chiefly experienced in the district of Manna in the year 1770. A village was destroyed by the houses falling down and taking fire, and several lives were lost.* The ground was in one place rent a quarter of a mile, the width of two fathoms, and depth of four or five. A bituminous matter is described to have swelled over the sides of the cavity, and the earth for a long time after the shocks was observed to contract and dilate alternately. Many parts of the hills far inland could be distinguished to have given way, and a consequence of this was that during three weeks Manna River was so much impregnated with particles of clay that the natives could not bathe in it. At this time was formed near to the mouth of Padang Guchi, a neighbouring river south of the former, a large plain, seven miles long and half a mile broad; where there had been before only a narrow beach. The quantity of earth brought down on this occasion was so considerable that the hill upon which the English resident's house stands appears, from indubitable marks, less elevated by fifteen feet than it was before the event.

(*Footnote. I am informed that in 1763 an entire village was swallowed up by an earthquake in Pulo Nias, one of the islands which lie off the western coast of Sumatra. In July or August of the same year a severe one was felt in Bengal.)

Earthquakes have been remarked by some to happen usually upon sudden changes of weather, and particularly after violent heats; but I do not vouch this upon my own experience, which has been pretty ample. They are preceded by a low rumbling noise like distant thunder. The domestic cattle and fowls are sensible of the preternatural motion, and seem much alarmed; the latter making the cry they are wont to do on the approach of birds of prey. Houses situated on a low sandy soil are least affected, and those which stand on distinct hills suffer most from the shocks because the further removed from the centre of motion the greater the agitation; and the loose contexture of the one foundation, making less resistance than the solidity of the other, subjects the building to less violence. Ships at anchor in the road, though several miles distant from the shore, are strongly sensible of the concussion.


Besides the new land formed by the convulsions above described, the sea by a gradual recess in some parts produces the same effect. Many instances of this kind, of no considerable extent however have been observed within the memory of persons now living. But it would seem to me that that large tract of land called Pulo Point, forming the bay of the name, near to Silebar, with much of the adjacent country has thus been left by the withdrawing or thrown up by the motion of the sea. Perhaps the point may have been at first an island (from whence its appellation of Pulo) and the parts more inland gradually united to it.* Various circumstances tend to corroborate such an opinion, and to evince the probability that this was not an original portion of the main but new, half-formed land. All the swamps and marshy grounds that lie within the beach, and near the extremity there are little else, are known, in consequence of repeated surveys, to be lower than the level of high-water; the bank of sand alone preventing an inundation. The country is not only quite free from hills or inequalities of any kind, but has scarcely a visible slope. Silebar River, which empties itself into Pulo Bay, is totally unlike those in other parts of the island. The motion of its stream is hardly perceptible; it is never affected by floods; its course is marked out, not by banks covered with ancient and venerable woods but by rows of mangroves and other aquatics springing from the ooze, and perfectly regular. Some miles from the mouth it opens into a beautiful and extensive lake, diversified with small islands, flat, and verdant with rushes only. The point of Pulo is covered with the arau tree (casuarina) or bastard-pine, as some have called it, which never grows but in the seasand and rises fast.

(*Footnote. Since I formed this conjecture I have been told that such a tradition of no very ancient date prevails amongst the inhabitants.)


None such are found toward Sungei-Lamo and the rest of the shore northward of Marlborough Point, where, on the contrary, you perceive the effects of continual depredations by the ocean. The old forest trees are there yearly undermined and, falling, obstruct the traveller; whilst about Pulo the arau-trees are continually springing up faster than they can be cut down or otherwise destroyed. Nature will not readily be forced from her course. The last time I visited that part there was a beautiful rising grove of these trees, establishing a possession in their proper soil. The country, as well immediately here about as to a considerable distance inland, is an entire bed of sand without any mixture of clay or mould, which I know to have been in vain sought for many miles up the neighbouring rivers. To the northward of Padang there is a plain which has evidently been, in former times, a bay. Traces of a shelving beach are there distinguishable at the distance of one hundred and fifty yards from the present boundary of the sea.

But upon what hypothesis can it be accounted for that the sea should commit depredations on the northern coast, of which there are the most evident tokens as high up at least as Ipu, and probably to Indrapura, where the shelter of the neighbouring islands may put a stop to them, and that it should restore the land to the southward in the manner I have described? I am aware that according to the general motion of the tides from east to west this coast ought to receive a continual accession proportioned to the loss which others, exposed to the direction of this motion, must and do sustain; and it is likely that it does gain upon the whole. But the nature of my work obliges me to be more attentive to effects than causes, and to record facts though they should clash with systems the most just in theory, and most respectable in point of authority.


The chain of islands which lie parallel with the west coast of Sumatra may probably have once formed a part of the main and been separated from it, either by some violent effort of nature, or the gradual attrition of the sea. I should scarcely introduce the mention of this apparently vague surmise but that a circumstance presents itself on the coast which affords some stronger colour of proof than can be usually obtained in such instances. In many places, and particularly about Pally, we observe detached pieces of land standing singly, as islands, at the distance of one or two hundred yards from the shore, which were headlands of points running out into the sea within the remembrance of the inhabitants. The tops continue covered with trees or shrubs; but the sides are bare, abrupt, and perpendicular. The progress of insulation here is obvious and incontrovertible, and why may not larger islands, at a greater distance, have been formed in the revolution of ages by the same accidents? The probability is heightened by the direction of the islands Nias, Batu, Mantawei, Pagi, Mego, etc., the similarity of the rock, soil, and productions, and the regularity of soundings between them and the main, whilst without them the depth is unfathomable.


Where the shore is flat or shelving the coast of Sumatra, as of all other tropical islands, is defended from the attacks of the sea by a reef or ledge of coral rock on which the surfs exert their violence without further effect than that of keeping its surface even, and reducing to powder those beautiful excrescences and ramifications which have been so much the object of the naturalist's curiosity, and which some ingenious men who have analysed them contend to be the work of insects. The coral powder is in particular places accumulated on the shore in great quantities, and appears, when not closely inspected, like a fine white sand.


The surf (a word not to be found, I believe, in our dictionaries) is used in India, and by navigators in general, to express a peculiar swell and breaking of the sea upon the shore; the phenomena of which not having been hitherto much adverted to by writers I shall be the more circumstantial in my description of them.

The surf forms sometimes but a single range along the shore. At other times there is a succession of two, three, four, or more, behind each other, extending perhaps half a mile out to sea. The number of ranges is generally in proportion to the height and violence of the surf.

The surf begins to assume its form at some distance from the place where it breaks, gradually accumulating as it moves forward till it gains a height, in common, of fifteen to twenty feet,* when it overhangs at top and falls like a cascade, nearly perpendicular, involving itself as it descends. The noise made by the fall is prodigious, and during the stillness of the night may be heard many miles up the country.

(*Footnote. It may be presumed that in this estimation of its height I was considerably deceived.)

Though in the rising and formation of the surf the water seems to have a quick progressive motion towards the land, yet a light body on the surface is not carried forward, but, on the contrary, if the tide is ebbing, will recede from the shore; from which it would follow that the motion is only propagated in the water, like sound in air, and not the mass of water protruded. A similar species of motion is observed on shaking at one end a long cord held moderately slack, which is expressed by the word undulation. I have sometimes remarked however that a body which sinks deep and takes hold of the water appears to move towards shore with the course of the surf, as is perceptible in a boat landing which seems to shoot swiftly forward on the top of the swell; though probably it is only after having reached the summit, and may owe its velocity to its own weight in the descent.

Countries where the surfs prevail require boats of a peculiar construction, and the art of managing them demands the experience of a man's life. All European boats are more or less unfit, and seldom fail to occasion the sacrifice of the people on board them, in the imprudent attempts that are sometimes made to land with them on the open coast. The natives of Coromandel are remarkably expert in the management of their craft; but it is to be observed that the intervals between the breaking of the surfs are usually on that coast much longer than on the coast of Sumatra.

The force of the surf is extremely great. I have known it to overset a country vessel in such a manner that the top of the mast has stuck in the sand, and the lower end made its appearance through her bottom. Pieces of cloth have been taken up from a wreck, twisted and rent by its involved motion. In some places the surfs are usually greater at high, and in others at low, water; but I believe they are uniformly more violent during the spring-tides.


I shall proceed to inquire into the efficient cause of the surfs. The winds have doubtless a strong relation to them. If the air was in all places of equal density, and not liable to any motion, I suppose the water would also remain perfectly at rest and its surface even; abstracting from the general course of the tides and the partial irregularities occasioned by the influx of rivers. The current of the air impels the water and causes a swell, which is the regular rising and subsiding of the waves. This rise and fall is similar to the vibrations of a pendulum and subject to like laws. When a wave is at its height it descends by the force of gravity, and the momentum acquired in descending impels the neighbouring particles, which in their turn rise and impel others, and thus form a succession of waves. This is the case in the open sea; but when the swell approaches the shore and the depth of water is not in proportion to the size of the swell the subsiding wave, instead of pressing on a body of water, which might rise in equal quantity, presses on the ground, whose reaction causes it to rush on in that manner which we call a surf. Some think that the peculiar form of it may be plainly accounted for from the shallowness and shelving of the beach. When a swell draws near to such a beach the lower parts of the water, meeting first with obstruction from the bottom, stand still, whilst the higher parts respectively move onward, by which a rolling and involved motion is produced that is augmented by the return of the preceding swell. I object that this solution is founded on the supposition of an actual progressive motion of the body of water in forming a surf; and, that certainly not being the fact, it seems deficient. The only real progression of the water is occasioned by the perpendicular fall, after the breaking of the surf, when from its weight it foams on to a greater or less distance in proportion to the height from which it fell and the slope of the shore.

That the surfs are not, like common waves, the immediate effect of the wind, is evident from this, that the highest and most violent often happen when there is the least wind and vice versa. And sometimes the surfs will continue with an equal degree of violence during a variety of weather. On the west coast of Sumatra the highest are experienced during the south-east monsoon, which is never attended with such gales of wind as the north-west. The motion of the surf is not observed to follow the course of the wind, but often the contrary; and when it blows hard from the land the spray of the sea may be seen to fly in a direction opposite to the body of it, though the wind has been for many hours in the same point.

Are the surfs the effect of gales of wind at sea, which do not happen to extend to the shore but cause a violent agitation throughout a considerable tract of the waters, which motion, communicating with less distant parts, and meeting at length with resistance from the shore, occasions the sea to swell and break in the manner described? To this I object that there seems no regular correspondence between their magnitude and the apparent agitation of the water without them: that gales of wind, except at particular periods, are very unfrequent in the Indian seas, where the navigation is well known to be remarkably safe, whilst the surfs are almost continual; and that gales are not found to produce this effect in other extensive oceans. The west coast of Ireland borders a sea nearly as extensive and much more wild than the coast of Sumatra, and yet there, though when it blows hard the swell on the shore is high and dangerous, is there nothing that resembles the surfs of India.


These, so general in the tropical latitudes, are, upon the most probable hypothesis I have been able to form, after long observation and much thought and inquiry, the consequence of the trade or perpetual winds which prevail at a distance from shore between the parallels of thirty degrees north and south, whose uniform and invariable action causes a long and constant swell, that exists even in the calmest weather, about the line, towards which its direction tends from either side. This swell or libration of the sea is so prodigiously long, and the sensible effect of its height, of course, so much diminished, that it is not often attended to; the gradual slope engrossing almost the whole horizon when the eye is not very much elevated above its surface: but persons who have sailed in those parts may recollect that, even when the sea is apparently the most still and level, a boat or other object at a distance from the ship will be hidden from the sight of one looking towards it from the lower deck for the space of minutes together. This swell, when a squall happens or the wind freshens up, will for a time have other subsidiary waves on the extent of its surface, breaking often in a direction contrary to it, and which will again subside as a calm returns without having produced on it any perceptible effect. Sumatra, though not continually exposed to the south-east trade-wind, is not so distant but that its influence may be presumed to extend to it, and accordingly at Pulo Pisang, near the southern extremity of the island, a constant southerly sea is observed even after a hard north-west wind. This incessant and powerful swell rolling in from an ocean, open even to the pole, seems an agent adequate to the prodigious effects produced on the coast; whilst its very size contributes to its being overlooked. It reconciles almost all the difficulties which the phenomena seem to present, and in particular it accounts for the decrease of the surf during the north-west monsoon, the local wind then counteracting the operation of the general one; and it is corroborated by an observation I have made that the surfs on the Sumatran coast ever begin to break at their southern extreme, the motion of the swell not being perpendicular to the direction of the shore. This manner of explaining their origin seems to carry much reason with it; but there occurs to me one objection which I cannot get over, and which a regard to truth obliges me to state. The trade-winds are remarkably steady and uniform, and the swell generated by them is the same. The surfs are much the reverse, seldom persevering for two days in the same degree of violence; often mountains high in the morning and nearly subsided by night. How comes a uniform cause to produce effects so unsteady, unless by the intervention of secondary causes, whose nature and operation we are unacquainted with?

It is clear to me that the surfs as above described are peculiar to those climates which lie within the remoter limits of the trade-winds, though in higher latitudes large swells and irregular breakings of the sea are to be met with after boisterous weather. Possibly the following causes may be judged to conspire, with that I have already specified, towards occasioning this distinction. The former region being exposed to the immediate influence of the two great luminaries, the water, from their direct impulse, is liable to more violent agitation than nearer the poles where their power is felt only by indirect communication. The equatorial parts of the earth performing their diurnal revolution with greater velocity than the rest, a larger circle being described in the same time, the waters thereabout, from the stronger centrifugal force, may be supposed to feel less restraint from the sluggish principle of matter; to have less gravity; and therefore to be more obedient to external impulses of every kind, whether from the winds or any other cause.


The spring-tides on the west coast of Sumatra are estimated to rise in general no more than four feet, owing to its open, unconfined situation, which prevents any accumulation of the tide, as is the case in narrow seas. It is always high-water there when the moon is in the horizon, and consequently at six o'clock nearly, on the days of conjunction and opposition throughout the year, in parts not far remote from the equator.* This, according to Newton's theory, is about three hours later than the uninterrupted course of nature, owing to the obvious impediment the waters meet with in revolving from the eastward.

(*Footnote. Owing to this uniformity it becomes an easy matter for the natives to ascertain the height of the tide at any hour that the moon is visible. Whilst she appears to ascend the water falls and vice versa; the lowest of the ebb happening when she is in her meridian. The vulgar rule for calculating the tides is rendered also to Europeans more simple and practical from the same cause. There only needs to add together the epact, number of the month, and day of the month; the sum of which, if under thirty, gives the moon's age--the excess, if over. Allow forty-eight minutes for each day or, which is the same, take four-fifths of the age, and it will give you the number of hours after six o'clock at which high-water happens. A readiness at this calculation is particularly useful in a country where the sea-beach is the general road for travelling.)




Having exhibited a general view of the island as it is in the hands of nature, I shall now proceed to a description of the people who inhabit and cultivate it, and shall endeavour to distinguish the several species or classes of them in such a manner as may best tend to perspicuity, and to furnish clear ideas of the matter.


The most obvious division, and which has been usually made by the writers of voyages, is that of Mahometan inhabitants of the sea-coast, and Pagans of the inland country. This division, though not without its degree of propriety, is vague and imperfect; not only because each description of people differ considerably among themselves, but that the inland inhabitants are, in some places, Mahometans, and those of the coast, in others, what they term Pagans. It is not unusual with persons who have not resided in this part of the East to call the inhabitants of the islands indiscriminately by the name of Malays. This is a more considerable error, and productive of greater confusion than the former. By attempting to reduce things to heads too general we defeat the very end we propose to ourselves in defining them at all: we create obscurity where we wish to throw light. On the other hand, to attempt enumerating and distinguishing the variety, almost endless, of petty sovereignties and nations into which this island is divided, many of which differ nothing in person or manners from their neighbours, would be a task both insurmountable and useless. I shall aim at steering a middle course, and accordingly shall treat of the inhabitants of Sumatra under the following summary distinctions, taking occasion as it may offer to mention the principal subdivisions. And first it is proper to distinguish the empire of Menangkabau and the Malays; in the next place the Achinese; then the Battas; the Rejangs; and next to them the people of Lampong.*

(*Footnote. In the course of my inquiries amongst the natives concerning the aborigines of the island I have been informed of two different species of people dispersed in the woods and avoiding all communication with the other inhabitants. These they call Orang Kubu and Orang Gugu. The former are said to be pretty numerous, especially in that part of the country which lies between Palembang and Jambi. Some have at times been caught and kept as slaves in Labun; and a man of that place is now married to a tolerably handsome Kubu girl who was carried off by a party that discovered their huts. They have a language quite peculiar to themselves, and they eat promiscuously whatever the woods afford, as deer, elephant, rhinoceros, wild hog, snakes, or monkeys. The Gugu are much scarcer than these, differing in little but the use of speech from the Orang Utan of Borneo; their bodies being covered with long hair. There have not been above two or three instances of their being met with by the people of Labun (from whom my information is derived) and one of these was entrapped many years ago in much the same manner as the carpenter in Pilpay's Fables caught the monkey. He had children by a Labun woman which also were more hairy than the common race; but the third generation are not to be distinguished from others. The reader will bestow what measure of faith he thinks due to this relation, the veracity of which I do not pretend to vouch for. It has probably some foundation in truth but is exaggerated in the circumstances.)

Menangkabau being the principal sovereignty of the island, which formerly comprehended the whole, and still receives a shadow of homage from the most powerful of the other kingdoms which have sprung up from its ruins, would seem to claim a right to precedence in description, but I have a sufficient reason for deferring it to a subsequent part of the work; which is that the people of this empire, by their conversion to Mahometanism and consequent change of manners, have lost in a greater degree than some neighbouring tribes the genuine Sumatran character, which is the immediate object of my investigation.


They are distinguished from the other inhabitants of this island by the appellation of Orang Malayo, or Malays, which however they have in common with those of the coast of the Peninsula and of many other islands; and the name is applied to every Mussulman speaking the Malayan as his proper language, and either belonging to, or claiming descent from, the ancient kingdom of Menangkabau; wherever the place of his residence may be. Beyond Bencoolen to the southward there are none to be met with excepting such as have been drawn thither by, and are in the pay of, Europeans. On the eastern side of the island they are settled at the entrance of almost all the navigable rivers, where they more conveniently indulge their habitual bent for trade and piracy. It must be observed indeed that in common speech the term Malay, like that of Moor in the continent of India, is almost synonymous with Mahometan; and when the natives of other parts learn to read the Arabic character, submit to circumcision, and practise the ceremonies of religion, they are often said men-jadi Malayo, to become Malays, instead of the more correct expression sudah masuk Islam, have embraced the faith. The distinction will appear more strongly from this circumstance, that whilst the sultan of Anak Sungei (Moco-moco), ambitious of imitating the sultan of Menangkabau, styles himself and his immediate subjects Malays, his neighbour, the Pangeran of Sungei Lamo, chief of the Rejangs, a very civilised Mahometan, and whose ancestors for some generations were of the same faith, seemed offended, in a conversation I had with him, at my supposing him (as he is usually considered) a Malay, and replied with some emotion, "Malayo tidah, sir; orang ulu betul sayo." "No Malay sir; I am a genuine, aboriginal countryman." The two languages he wrote and talked (I know not if he be still living) with equal facility; but the Rejang he esteemed his mother tongue.

Attempts to ascertain from what quarter Sumatra was peopled must rest upon mere conjecture. The adjacent peninsula (called by Europeans or other foreigners the Malayan Peninsula) presents the most obvious source of population; and it has accordingly been presumed that emigrants from thence supplied it and the other islands of the eastern Archipelago with inhabitants. By this opinion, adopted without examination, I was likewise misled and, on a former occasion, spoke of the probability of a colony from the peninsula having settled upon the western coast of the island; but I have since learned from the histories and traditions of the natives of both countries that the reverse is the fact, and that the founders of the celebrated kingdoms of Johor, Singapura, and Malacca were adventurers from Sumatra. Even at this day the inhabitants of the interior parts of the peninsula are a race entirely distinct from those of the two coasts.

Thus much it was necessary, in order to avoid ambiguity, to say in the first instance concerning the Malays, of whom a more particular account will be given in a subsequent part of the work.

As the most dissimilar among the other classes into which I have divided the inhabitants must of course have very many points of mutual resemblance, and many of their habits, customs, and ceremonies, in common, it becomes expedient, in order to avoid a troublesome and useless repetition, to single out one class from among them whose manners shall undergo a particular and full investigation, and serve as a standard for the whole; the deviation from which, in other classes, shall afterwards be pointed out, and the most singular and striking usages peculiar to each superadded.


Various circumstances induce me on this occasion to give the preference to the Rejangs, though a nation of but small account in the political scale of the island. They are placed in what may be esteemed a central situation, not geographically, but with respect to the encroachments of foreign manners and opinions introduced by the Malays from the north, and Javans from the south; which gives them a claim to originality superior to that of most others. They are a people whose form of government and whose laws extend with very little variation over a considerable part of the island, and principally that portion where the connexions of the English lie. There are traditions of their having formerly sent forth colonies to the southward; and in the country of Passummah the site of their villages is still pointed out; which would prove that they have formerly been of more consideration than they can boast at present. They have a proper language and a perfect written character. These advantages point out the Rejang people as an eligible standard of description; and a motive equally strong that induces me to adopt them as such is that my situation and connexions in the island led me to a more intimate and minute acquaintance with their laws and manners than with those of any other class. I must premise however that the Malay customs having made their way in a greater or less degree to every part of Sumatra, it will be totally impossible to discriminate with entire accuracy those which are original from those which are borrowed; and of course what I shall say of the Rejangs will apply for the most part not only to the Sumatrans in general but may sometimes be in strictness proper to the Malays alone, and by them taught to the higher rank of country people.


The country of the Rejangs is divided to the north-west from the kingdom of Anak Sungei (of which Moco-moco is the capital) by the small river of Uri, near that of Kattaun; which last, with the district of Labun on its banks, bounds it on the north or inland side. The country of Musi, where Palembang River takes its rise, forms its limit to the eastward. Bencoolen River, precisely speaking, confines it on the south-east; though the inhabitants of the district called Lemba, extending from thence to Silebar, are entirely the same people in manners and language. The principal rivers besides those already mentioned are Laye, Pally, and Sungeilamo; on all of which the English have factories, the resident or chief being stationed at Laye.


The persons of the inhabitants of the island, though differing considerably in districts remote from each other, may in general be comprehended in the following description; excepting the Achinese, whose commixture with the Moors of the west of India has distinguished them from the other Sumatrans.


They are rather below the middle stature; their bulk is in proportion; their limbs are for the most part slight, but well shaped, and particularly small at the wrists and ankles. Upon the whole they are gracefully formed, and I scarcely recollect to have ever seen one deformed person among the natives.*

(*Footnote. Ghirardini, an Italian painter, who touched at Sumatra on his way to China in 1698 observes of the Malays:

Son di persona ben formata
Quanto mai finger san pittori industri.
He speaks in high terms of the country as being beautifully picturesque.)

The women however have the preposterous custom of flattening the noses, and compressing the heads of children newly born, whilst the skull is yet cartilaginous, which increases their natural tendency to that shape. I could never trace the origin of the practice, or learn any other reason for moulding the features to this uncouth appearance, but that it was an improvement of beauty in their estimation. Captain Cook takes notice of a similar operation at the island of Ulietea. They likewise pull out the ears of infants to make them stand at an angle from the head. Their eyes are uniformly dark and clear, and among some, especially the southern women, bear a strong resemblance to those of the Chinese, in the peculiarity of formation so generally observed of that people. Their hair is strong and of a shining black; the improvement of both which qualities it probably owes in great measure to the early and constant use of coconut oil, with which they keep it moist. The men frequently cut their hair short, not appearing to take any pride in it; the women encourage theirs to a considerable length, and I have known many instances of its reaching the ground. The men are beardless and have chins so remarkably smooth that, were it not for the priests displaying a little tuft, we should be apt to conclude that nature had refused them this token of manhood. It is the same in respect to other parts of the body with both sexes; and this particular attention to their persons they esteem a point of delicacy, and the contrary an unpardonable neglect. The boys as they approach to the age of puberty rub their chins, upper lips, and those parts of the body that are subject to superfluous hair with chunam (quicklime) especially of shells, which destroys the roots of the incipient beard. The few pilae that afterwards appear are plucked out from time to time with tweezers, which they always carry about them for that purpose. Were it not for the numerous and very respectable authorities from which we are assured that the natives of America are naturally beardless, I should think that the common opinion on that subject had been rashly adopted, and that their appearing thus at a mature age was only the consequence of an early practice, similar to that observed among the Sumatrans. Even now I must confess that it would remove some small degree of doubt from my mind could it be ascertained that no such custom prevails.*

(*Footnote. It is allowed by travellers that the Patagonians have tufts of hair on the upper lip and chin. Captain Carver says that among the tribes he visited the people made a regular practice of eradicating their beards with pincers. At Brussels is preserved, along with a variety of ancient and curious suits of armour, that of Montezuma, king of Mexico, of which the visor, or mask for the face, has remarkably large whiskers; an ornament which those Americans could not have imitated unless nature had presented them with the model. See a paper in the Philosophical Transactions for 1786, which puts this matter beyond a doubt. In a French dictionary of the Huron language, published in 1632, I observe a term corresponding to "arracher la barbe.")

Their complexion is properly yellow, wanting the red tinge that constitutes a tawny or copper colour. They are in general lighter than the Mestees, or halfbreed, of the rest of India; those of the superior class who are not exposed to the rays of the sun, and particularly their women of rank, approaching to a great degree of fairness. Did beauty consist in this one quality some of them would surpass our brunettes in Europe. The major part of the females are ugly, and many of them even to disgust, yet there are those among them whose appearance is strikingly beautiful; whatever composition of person, features, and complexion that sentiment may be the result of.


The fairness of the Sumatrans comparatively with other Indians, situated as they are under a perpendicular sun where no season of the year affords an alternative of cold, is I think an irrefragable proof that the difference of colour in the various inhabitants of the earth is not the immediate effect of climate. The children of Europeans born in this island are as fair as those born in the country of their parents. I have observed the same of the second generation, where a mixture with the people of the country has been avoided. On the other hand the offspring and all the descendants of the Guinea and other African slaves imported there continue in the last instance as perfectly black as in the original stock. I do not mean to enter into the merits of the question which naturally connects with these observations; but shall only remark that the sallow and adust countenances so commonly acquired by Europeans who have long resided in hot climates are more ascribable to the effect of bilious distempers, which almost all are subject to in a greater or less degree, than of their exposure to the influence of the weather, which few but seafaring people are liable to, and of which the impression is seldom permanent. From this circumstance I have been led to conjecture that the general disparity of complexions in different nations might POSSIBLY be owing to the more or less copious secretion or redundance of that juice, rendering the skin more or less dark according to the qualities of the bile prevailing in the constitutions of each. But I fear such a hypothesis would not stand the test of experiment, as it might be expected to follow that, upon dissection, the contents of a negro's gall-bladder, or at least the extravasated bile, should uniformly be found black. Persons skilled in anatomy will determine whether it is possible that the qualities of any animal secretion can so far affect the frame as to render their consequences liable to be transmitted to posterity in their full force.*

(*Footnote. In an Essay on the Causes of the Variety of Complexion and Figure in the Human Species published at Philadelphia in 1787 the permanent effect of the bilious secretion in determining the colour is strongly insisted upon.)

The small size of the inhabitants, and especially of the women, may be in some measure owing to the early communication between the sexes; though, as the inclinations which lead to this intercourse are prompted here by nature sooner than in cold climates, it is not unfair to suppose that, being proportioned to the period of maturity, this is also sooner attained, and consequently that the earlier cessation of growth of these people is agreeable to the laws of their constitution, and not occasioned by a premature and irregular appetite.

Persons of superior rank encourage the growth of their hand-nails, particularly those of the fore and little fingers, to an extraordinary length; frequently tingeing them red with the expressed juice of a shrub which they call inei, the henna of the Arabians; as they do the nails of their feet also, to which, being always uncovered, they pay as much attention as to their hands. The hands of the natives, and even of the halfbreed, are always cold to the touch; which I cannot account for otherwise than by a supposition that, from the less degree of elasticity in the solids occasioned by the heat of the climate, the internal action of the body by which the fluids are put in motion is less vigorous, the circulation is proportionably languid, and of course the diminished effect is most perceptible in the extremities, and a coldness there is the natural consequence.


The natives of the hills through the whole extent of the island are subject to those monstrous wens from the throat which have been observed of the Vallaisans and the inhabitants of other mountainous districts in Europe. It has been usual to attribute this affection to the badness, thawed state, mineral quality, or other peculiarity of the waters; many skilful men having applied themselves to the investigation of the subject. My experience enables me to pronounce without hesitation that the disorder, for such it is though it appears here to mark a distinct race of people (orang-gunong), is immediately connected with the hilliness of the country, and of course, if the circumstances of the water they use contribute thereto, it must be only so far as the nature of the water is affected by the inequality or height of the land. But in Sumatra neither snow nor other congelation is ever produced, which militates against the most plausible conjecture that has been adopted concerning the Alpine goitres. From every research that I have been enabled to make I think I have reason to conclude that the complaint is owing, among the Sumatrans, to the fogginess of the air in the valleys between the high mountains, where, and not on the summits, the natives of these parts reside. I before remarked that, between the ranges of hills, the kabut or dense mist was visible for several hours every morning; rising in a thick, opaque, and well-defined body with the sun, and seldom quite dispersed till afternoon. This phenomenon, as well as that of the wens, being peculiar to the regions of the hills, affords a presumption that they may be connected; exclusive of the natural probability that a cold vapour, gross to a uncommon degree, and continually enveloping the habitations, should affect with tumors the throats of the inhabitants. I cannot pretend to say how far this solution may apply to the case of the goitres, but I recollect it to have been mentioned that the only method of curing the people is by removing them from the valleys to the clear and pure air on the tops of the hills; which seems to indicate a similar source of the distemper to what I have pointed out. The Sumatrans do not appear to attempt any remedy for it, the wens being consistent with the highest health in other respects.


The personal difference between the Malays of the coast and the country inhabitants is not so strongly marked but that it requires some experience to distinguish them. The latter however possess an evident superiority in point of size and strength, and are fairer complexioned, which they probably owe to their situation, where the atmosphere is colder; and it is generally observed that people living near the seashore, and especially when accustomed to navigation, are darker than their inland neighbours. Some attribute the disparity in constitutional vigour to the more frequent use of opium among the Malays, which is supposed to debilitate the frame; but I have noted that the Limun and Batang Asei gold traders, who are a colony of that race settled in the heart of the island, and who cannot exist a day without opium, are remarkably hale and stout; which I have known to be observed with a degree of envy by the opium-smokers of our settlements. The inhabitants of Passummah also are described as being more robust in their persons than the planters of the low country.


The original clothing of the Sumatrans is the same with that found by navigators among the inhabitants of the South Sea Islands, and now generally called by the name of Otaheitean cloth. It is still used among the Rejangs for their working dress, and I have one in my possession procured from these people consisting of a jacket, short drawers, and a cap for the head. This is the inner bark of a certain species of tree, beaten out to the degree of fineness required, approaching the more to perfection as it resembles the softer kind of leather, some being nearly equal to the most delicate kid-skin; in which character it somewhat differs from the South Sea cloth, as that bears a resemblance rather to paper, or to the manufacture of the loom. The country people now conform in a great measure to the dress of the Malays, which I shall therefore describe in this place, observing that much more simplicity still prevails among the former, who look upon the others as coxcombs who lay out all their substance on their backs, whilst in their turns they are regarded by the Malays with contempt as unpolished rustics.


A man's dress consists of the following parts. A close waistcoat, without sleeves, but having a neck like a shirt, buttoned close up to the top, with buttons, often of gold filigree. This is peculiar to the Malays. Over this they wear the baju, which resembles a morning gown, open at the neck, but generally fastened close at the wrists and halfway up the arm, with nine buttons to each sleeve. The sleeves, however, are often wide and loose, and others again, though nearly tight, reach not far beyond the elbow, especially of those worn by the younger females, which, as well as those of the young men, are open in front no farther down than the bosom, and reach no lower than the waist, whereas the others hang loose to the knees, and sometimes to the ankles. They are made usually of blue or white cotton cloth; for the better sort, of chintz; and for great men, of flowered silks. The kain-sarong is not unlike a Scots highlander's plaid in appearance, being a piece of party-coloured cloth about six or eight feet long and three or four wide, sewed together at the ends; forming, as some writers have described it, a wide sack without a bottom. This is sometimes gathered up and slung over the shoulder like a sash, or else folded and tucked about the waist and hips; and in full dress it is bound on by the belt of the kris (dagger), which is of crimson silk and wraps several times round the body, with a loop at the end in which the sheath of the kris hangs. They wear short drawers reaching halfway down the thigh, generally of red or yellow taffeta. There is no covering to their legs or feet. Round their heads they fasten, in a particular manner, a fine, coloured handkerchief, so as to resemble a small turban; the country people usually twisting a piece of white or blue cloth for this purpose. The crown of their head remains uncovered except on journeys, when they wear a tudong or umbrella-hat, which completely screens them from the weather.


The women have a kind of bodice, or short waistcoat rather, that defends the breasts and reaches to the hips. The kain-sarong, before described, comes up as high as the armpits, and extends to the feet, being kept on simply by folding and tucking it over at the breast, except when the tali-pending, or zone, is worn about the waist, which forms an additional and necessary security. This is usually of embroidered cloth, and sometimes a plate of gold or silver, about two inches broad, fastening in the front with a large clasp of filigree or chased work, with some kind of precious stone, or imitation of such, in the centre. The baju, or upper gown, differs little from that of the men, buttoning in the same manner at the wrists. A piece of fine, thin, cotton cloth, or slight silk, about five feet long, and worked or fringed at each end, called a salendang, is thrown across the back of the neck, and hangs down before; serving also the purpose of a veil to the women of rank when they walk abroad. The handkerchief is carried either folded small in the hand, or in a long fold over the shoulder. There are two modes of dressing the hair, one termed kundei and the other sanggol. The first resembles much the fashion in which we see the Chinese women represented in paintings, and which I conclude they borrowed from thence, where the hair is wound circularly over the centre of the head, and fastened with a silver bodkin or pin. In the other mode, which is more general, they give the hair a single twist as it hangs behind, and then doubling it up they pass it crosswise under a few hairs separated from the rest on the back of the head for that purpose. A comb, often of tortoise-shell and sometimes filigreed, helps to prevent it from falling down. The hair of the front and of all parts of the head is of the same length, and when loose hangs together behind, with most of the women, in very great quantity. It is kept moist with oil newly expressed from the coconut; but those persons who can afford it make use also of an empyreumatic oil extracted from gum benzoin, as a grateful perfume. They wear no covering except ornaments of flowers, which on particular occasions are the work of much labour and ingenuity. The head-dresses of the dancing girls by profession, who are usually Javans, are very artificially wrought, and as high as any modern English lady's cap, yielding only to the feathered plumes of the year 1777. It is impossible to describe in words these intricate and fanciful matters so as to convey a just idea of them. The flowers worn in undress are for the most part strung in wreaths, and have a very neat and pretty effect, without any degree of gaudiness, being usually white or pale yellow, small, and frequently only half-blown. Those generally chosen for these occasions are the bunga-tanjong and bunga-mellur: the bunga-chumpaka is used to give the hair a fragrance, but is concealed from the sight. They sometimes combine a variety of flowers in such a manner as to appear like one, and fix them on a single stalk; but these, being more formal, are less elegant than the wreaths.


Among the country people, particularly in the southern countries, the virgins (anak gaddis, or goddesses, as it is usually pronounced) are distinguished by a fillet which goes across the front of the hair and fastens behind. This is commonly a thin plate of silver, about half an inch broad: those of the first rank have it of gold, and those of the lowest class have their fillet of the leaf of the nipah tree. Beside this peculiar ornament their state is denoted by their having rings or bracelets of silver or gold on their wrists. Strings of coins round the neck are universally worn by children, and the females, before they are of an age to be clothed, have what may not be inaptly termed a modesty-piece, being a plate of silver in the shape of a heart (called chaping) hung before, by a chain of the same metal, passing round the waist. The young women in the country villages manufacture themselves the cloth that forms the body-dress, or kain-sarong, which for common occasions is their only covering, and reaches from the breast no lower than the knees. The dresses of the women of the Malay bazaars on the contrary extend as low as the feet; but here, as in other instances, the more scrupulous attention to appearances does not accompany the superior degree of real modesty. This cloth, for the wear both of men and women, is imported from the island of Celebes, or, as it is here termed, the Bugis country.


Both sexes have the extraordinary custom of filing and otherwise disfiguring their teeth, which are naturally very white and beautiful from the simplicity of their food. For files they make use of small whetstones of different degrees of fineness, and the patients lie on their back during the operation. Many, particularly the women of the Lampong country, have their teeth rubbed down quite even with the gums; others have them formed in points; and some file off no more than the outer coat and extremities, in order that they may the better receive and retain the jetty blackness with which they almost universally adorn them. The black used on these occasions is the empyreumatic oil of the coconut-shell. When this is not applied the filing does not, by destroying what we term the enamel, diminish the whiteness of the teeth; but the use of betel renders them black if pains be not taken to prevent it. The great men sometimes set theirs in gold, by casing, with a plate of that metal, the under row; and this ornament, contrasted with the black dye, has by lamp or candlelight a very splendid effect. It is sometimes indented to the shape of the teeth, but more usually quite plain. They do not remove it either to eat or sleep.

At the age of about eight or nine they bore the ears and file the teeth of the female children; which are ceremonies that must necessarily precede their marriage. The former they call betende, and the latter bedabong; and these operations are regarded in the family as the occasion of a festival. They do not here, as in some of the adjacent islands (of Nias in particular), increase the aperture of the ear to a monstrous size, so as in many instances to be large enough to admit the hand, the lower parts being stretched till they touch the shoulders. Their earrings are mostly of gold filigree, and fastened not with a clasp, but in the manner of a rivet or nut screwed to the inner part.



I shall now attempt a description of the villages and buildings of the Sumatrans, and proceed to their domestic habits of economy, and those simple arts on which the procuring of their food and other necessaries depends. These are not among the least interesting objects of philosophical speculation. In proportion as the arts in use with any people are connected with the primary demands of nature, they carry the greater likelihood of originality, because those demands must have been administered to from a period coeval with the existence of the people themselves. Or if complete originality be regarded as a visionary idea, engendered from ignorance and the obscurity of remote events, such arts must be allowed to have the fairest claim to antiquity at least. Arts of accommodation, and more especially of luxury, are commonly the effect of imitation, and suggested by the improvements of other nations which have made greater advances towards civilisation. These afford less striking and characteristic features in delineating the picture of mankind, and, though they may add to the beauty, diminish from the genuineness of the piece. We must not look for unequivocal generic marks, where the breed, in order to mend it, has been crossed by a foreign mixture. All the arts of primary necessity are comprehended within two distinctions: those which protect us from the inclemency of the weather and other outward accidents; and those which are employed in securing the means of subsistence. Both are immediately essential to the continuance of life, and man is involuntarily and immediately prompted to exercise them by the urgent calls of nature, even in the merest possible state of savage and uncultivated existence. In climates like that of Sumatra this impulse extends not far. The human machine is kept going with small effort in so favourable a medium. The spring of importunate necessity there soon loses its force, and consequently the wheels of invention that depend upon it fail to perform more than a few simple revolutions. In regions less mild this original motive to industry and ingenuity carries men to greater lengths in the application of arts to the occasions of life; and these of course in an equal space of time attain to greater perfection than among the inhabitants of the tropical latitudes, who find their immediate wants supplied with facility, and prefer the negative pleasure of inaction to the enjoyment of any conveniences that are to be purchased with exertion and labour. This consideration may perhaps tend to reconcile the high antiquity universally allowed to Asiatic nations, with the limited progress of arts and sciences among them; in which they are manifestly surpassed by people who compared with them are but of very recent date.

The Sumatrans however in the construction of their habitations have stepped many degrees beyond those rude contrivances which writers describe the inhabitants of some other Indian countries to have been contented with adopting in order to screen themselves from the immediate influence of surrounding elements. Their houses are not only permanent but convenient, and are built in the vicinity of each other that they may enjoy the advantages of mutual assistance and protection resulting from a state of society.*

(*Footnote. In several of the small islands near Sumatra (including the Nicobars), whose inhabitants in general are in a very low state of civilisation, the houses are built circularly. Vid Asiatic Researches volume 4 page 129 plate.)


The dusuns or villages (for the small number of inhabitants assembled in each does not entitle them to the appellations of towns) are always situated on the banks of a river or lake for the convenience of bathing and of transporting goods. An eminence difficult of ascent is usually made choice of for security. The access to them is by footways, narrow and winding, of which there are seldom more than two; one to the country and the other to the water; the latter in most places so steep as to render it necessary to cut steps in the cliff or rock. The dusuns, being surrounded with abundance of fruit-trees, some of considerable height, as the durian, coco, and betel-nut, and the neighbouring country for a little space about being in some degree cleared of wood for the rice and pepper plantations, these villages strike the eye at a distance as clumps merely, exhibiting no appearance of a town or any place of habitation. The rows of houses form commonly a quadrangle, with passages or lanes at intervals between the buildings, where in the more considerable villages live the lower class of inhabitants, and where also their padi-houses or granaries are erected. In the middle of the square stands the balei or town hall, a room about fifty to a hundred feet long and twenty or thirty wide, without division, and open at the sides, excepting when on particular occasions it is hung with mats or chintz; but sheltered in a lateral direction by the deep overhanging roof.

W. Bell delt. J.G. Stadler sculpt.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

W. Bell delt. J.G. Stadler sculpt.)


In their buildings neither stone, brick, nor clay, are ever made use of, which is the case in most countries where timber abounds, and where the warmth of the climate renders the free admission of air a matter rather to be desired than guarded against: but in Sumatra the frequency of earthquakes is alone sufficient to have prevented the natives from adopting a substantial mode of building. The frames of the houses are of wood, the underplate resting on pillars of about six or eight feet in height, which have a sort of capital but no base, and are wider at top than at bottom. The people appear to have no idea of architecture as a science, though much ingenuity is often shown in the manner of working up their materials, and they have, the Malays at least, technical terms corresponding to all those employed by our house carpenters. Their conception of proportions is extremely rude, often leaving those parts of a frame which have the greatest bearing with the weakest support, and lavishing strength upon inadequate pressure. For the floorings they lay whole bamboos (a well-known species of large cane) of four or five inches diameter, close to each other, and fasten them at the ends to the timbers. Across these are laid laths of split bamboo, about an inch wide and of the length of the room, which are tied down with filaments of the rattan; and over these are usually spread mats of different kinds. This sort of flooring has an elasticity alarming to strangers when they first tread on it. The sides of the houses are generally closed in with palupo, which is the bamboo opened and rendered flat by notching or splitting the circular joints on the outside, chipping away the corresponding divisions within, and laying it to dry in the sun, pressed down with weights. This is sometimes nailed onto the upright timbers or bamboos, but in the country parts it is more commonly interwoven, or matted, in breadths of six inches, and a piece, or sheet, formed at once of the size required. In some places they use for the same purpose the kulitkayu, or coolicoy, as it is pronounced by the Europeans, who employ it on board ship as dunnage in pepper and other cargoes. This is a bark procured from some particular trees, of which the bunut and ibu are the most common. When they prepare to take it the outer rind is first torn or cut away; the inner, which affords the material, is then marked out with a prang, pateel, or other tool, to the size required, which is usually three cubits by one; it is afterwards beaten for some time with a heavy stick to loosen it from the stem, and being peeled off is laid in the sun to dry, care being taken to prevent its warping. The thicker or thinner sorts of the same species of kulitkayu owe their difference to their being taken nearer to or farther from the root. That which is used in building has nearly the texture and hardness of wood. The pliable and delicate bark of which clothing is made is procured from a tree called kalawi, a bastard species of the bread-fruit.

The most general mode of covering houses is with the atap, which is the leaf of a species of palm called nipah. These, previous to their being laid on, are formed into sheets of about five feet long and as deep as the length of the leaf will admit, which is doubled at one end over a slip or lath of bamboo; they are then disposed on the roof so as that one sheet shall lap over the other, and are tied to the bamboos which serve for rafters. There are various other and more durable kinds of covering used. The kulitkayu, before described, is sometimes employed for this purpose: the galumpei--this is a thatch of narrow split bamboos, six feet in length, placed in regular layers, each reaching within two feet of the extremity of that beneath it, by which a treble covering is formed: iju--this is a vegetable production so nearly resembling horse-hair as scarcely to be distinguished from it. It envelopes the stem of that species of palm called anau, from which the best toddy or palm wine is procured, and is employed by the natives for a great variety of purposes. It is bound on as a thatch in the manner we do straw, and not unfrequently over the galumpei; in which case the roof is so durable as never to require renewal, the iju being of all vegetable substances the least prone to decay, and for this reason it is a common practice to wrap a quantity of it round the ends of timbers or posts which are to be fixed in the ground. I saw a house about twenty miles up Manna River, belonging to Dupati Bandar Agung, the roof of which was of fifty years standing. The larger houses have three pitches in the roof; the middle one, under which the door is placed, being much lower than the other two. In smaller houses there are but two pitches, which are always of unequal height, and the entrance is in the smaller, which covers a kind of hall or cooking room.

There is another kind of house, erected mostly for a temporary purpose, the roof of which is flat and is covered in a very uncommon, simple, and ingenious manner. Large, straight bamboos are cut of a length sufficient to lie across the house, and, being split exactly in two and the joints knocked out, a first layer of them is disposed in close order, with the inner or hollow sides up; after which a second layer, with the outer or convex sides up, is placed upon the others in such manner that each of the convex falls into the two contiguous concave pieces, covering their edges; the latter serving as gutters to carry off the water that falls upon the upper or convex layer.*

(*Footnote. I find that the original inhabitants of the Philippine Islands covered their buildings in the same manner.)

The mode of ascent to the houses is by a piece of timber or stout bamboo, cut in notches, which latter an European cannot avail himself of, especially as the precaution is seldom taken of binding them fast. These are the wonderful light scaling-ladders which the old Portuguese writers described to have been used by the people of Achin in their wars with their nation. It is probable that the apprehension of danger from the wild beasts caused them to adopt and continue this rude expedient, in preference to more regular and commodious steps. The detached buildings in the country, near to their plantations, called talangs, they raise to the height of ten or twelve feet from the ground, and make a practice of taking up their ladder at night to secure themselves from the destructive ravages of the tigers. I have been assured, but do not pledge myself for the truth of the story, that an elephant, attempting to pass under one of these houses, which stand on four or six posts, stuck by the way, but, disdaining to retreat, carried it, with the family it contained, on his back to a considerable distance.

In the buildings of the dusuns, particularly where the most respectable families reside, the woodwork in front is carved in the style of bas-relief, in a variety of uncouth ornaments and grotesque figures, not much unlike the Egyptian hieroglyphics, but certainly without any mystic or historical allusion.


The furniture of their houses, corresponding with their manner of living, is very simple, and consists of but few articles. Their bed is a mat, usually of fine texture, and manufactured for the purpose, with a number of pillows, worked at the ends and adorned with a shining substance that resembles foil. A sort of canopy or valance, formed of various coloured cloths, hangs overhead. Instead of tables they have what resemble large wooden salvers, with feet called dulang, round each of which three or four persons dispose themselves; and on these are laid the talams or brass waiters which hold the cups that contain their curry, and plantain leaves or matted vessels filled with rice. Their mode of sitting is not cross-legged, as the inhabitants of Turkey and our tailors use, but either on the haunches or on the left side, supported by the left hand with the legs tucked in on the right side; leaving that hand at liberty which they always, from motives of delicacy, scrupulously eat with; the left being reserved for less cleanly offices. Neither knives, spoons, nor any substitutes for them are employed; they take up the rice and other victuals between the thumb and fingers, and dexterously throw it into the mouth by the action of the thumb, dipping frequently their hands in water as they eat.


They have a little coarse chinaware, imported by the eastern praws, which is held a matter of luxury. In cooking they employ a kind of iron vessel well-known in India by the name of quallie or tauch, resembling in shape the pans used in some of our manufactures, having the rim wide and bottom narrow. These are likewise brought from the eastward. The priu and balanga, species of earthen pipkins, are in more common use, being made in small quantities in different parts of the island, particularly in Lampong, where they give them a sort of glazing; but the greater number of them are imported from Bantam. The original Sumatran vessel for boiling rice, and which is still much used for that purpose, is the bamboo, that material of general utility with which bountiful nature has supplied an indolent people. By the time the rice is dressed the utensil is nearly destroyed by the fire, but resists the flame so long as there is moisture within.


Fire being wanted among these people but occasionally, and only when they cook their victuals, there is not much attention paid in their buildings to provide conveniences for it. Their houses have no chimneys, and their fireplaces are no more than a few loose bricks or stones, disposed in a temporary manner and frequently on the landing-place before the doors. The fuel made use of is wood alone, the coal which the island produces never being converted by the inhabitants to that purpose. The flint and steel for striking fire are common in the country, but it is a practice certainly borrowed from some other people, as that species of stone is not a native of the soil. These generally form part of their travelling apparatus, and especially with those men called risaus (spendthrifts that turn freebooters), who find themselves often obliged to take up their habitation in the woods or in deserted houses. But they also frequently kindle fire from the friction of two sticks.


They choose a piece of dry, porous wood, and cutting smooth a spot of it lay it in a horizontal direction. They then apply a smaller piece, of a harder substance, with a blunt point, in a perpendicular position, and turn it quickly round, between the two hands, as chocolate is milled, pressing it downwards at the same time. A hole is soon formed by this motion of the smaller stick; but it has not penetrated far before the larger one takes fire. I have also seen the same effect produced more simply by rubbing one bit of bamboo with a sharp edge across another.*

(*Footnote. This mode of kindling fire is not peculiar to Sumatra: we read of the same practice in Africa and even in Kamtschatka. It is surprising, but confirmed by abundant authority, that many nations of the earth have at certain periods, been ignorant of the use of fire. To our immediate apprehension human existence would seem in such circumstances impossible. Every art, every convenience, every necessary of life, is now in the most intimate manner connected with it: and yet the Chinese, the Egyptians, the Phoenicians, and Greeks acknowledged traditions concerning its first discovery in their respective countries. But in fact if we can once suppose a man, or society of men, unacquainted with the being and uses of this element, I see no difficulty in conceiving the possibility of their supporting life without it; I mean in the tropical climates; and of centuries passing before they should arrive at the important discovery. It is true that lightning and its effects, volcanoes, the firing of dry substances by fortuitous attrition, or of moist, by fermentation, might give them an idea of its violent and destructive properties; but far from being thence induced to appropriate and apply it they would, on the contrary, dread and avoid it, even in its less formidable appearances. They might be led to worship it as their deity, but not to cherish it as their domestic. There is some reason to conclude that the man who first reduced it to subjection and rendered it subservient to the purposes of life procured it from the collision of two flints; but the sparks thus produced, whether by accident or design, might be observed innumerable times without its suggesting a beneficial application. In countries where those did not present themselves the discovery had, most probably, its origin in the rubbing together of dry sticks, and in this operation, the agent and subject coexisting, flame, with its properties and uses, became more immediately apparent. Still, as no previous idea was conceived of this latent principle, and consequently no search made, no endeavours exerted, to bring it to light, I see not the impossibility a priori of its remaining almost as long concealed from mankind as the properties of the loadstone or the qualities of gunpowder.)

Water is conveyed from the spring in bamboos, which for this purpose are cut, either to the length of five or six feet and carried over the shoulder, or into a number of single joints that are put together in a basket. It is drunk out of the fruit called labu here, resembling the calabash of the West Indies, a hole being made in the side of the neck and another at top for vent. In drinking they generally hold the vessel at a distance above their mouths and catch the stream as it falls; the liquid descending to the stomach without the action of swallowing. Baskets (bronong, bakul) are a considerable part of the furniture of a man's house, and the number of these seen hanging up are tokens of the owner's substance; for in them his harvests of rice or pepper are gathered and brought home; no carts being employed in the interior parts of the island which I am now describing. They are made of slips of bamboo connected by means of split rattans; and are carried chiefly by the women, on the back, supported by a string or band across the forehead.


Although the Sumatrans live in a great measure upon vegetable food they are not restrained by any superstitious opinion from other aliments, and accordingly at their entertainments the flesh of the buffalo (karbau), goat, and fowls, are served up. Their dishes are almost all prepared in that mode of dressing to which we have given the name of curry (from a Hindostanic word), and which is now universally known in Europe. It is called in the Malay language gulei, and may be composed of any kind of edible, but is generally of flesh or fowl, with a variety of pulse and succulent herbage, stewed down with certain ingredients, by us termed, when mixed and ground together, curry powder. These ingredients are, among others, the cayenne or chili-pepper, turmeric, sarei or lemon-grass, cardamums, garlick, and the pulp of the coconut bruised to a milk resembling that of almonds, which is the only liquid made use of. This differs from the curries of Madras and Bengal, which have greater variety of spices, and want the coconut. It is not a little remarkable that the common pepper, the chief produce and staple commodity of the country, is never mixed by the natives in their food. They esteem it heating to the blood, and ascribe a contrary effect to the cayenne; which I can say, my own experience justifies. A great diversity of curries is usually served up at the same time, in small vessels, each flavoured to a nice discerning taste in a different manner; and in this consists all the luxury of their tables. Let their quantity or variety or meat be what it may, the principle article of their food is rice, which is eaten in a large proportion with every dish, and very frequently without any other accompaniment than salt and chili-pepper. It is prepared by boiling in a manner peculiar to India; its perfection, next to cleanness and whiteness, consisting in its being, when thoroughly dressed and soft to the heart, at the same time whole and separate, so that no two grains shall adhere together. The manner of effecting this is by putting into the earthen or other vessel in which it is boiled a quantity of water sufficient to cover it, letting it simmer over a slow fire, taking off the water by degrees with a flat ladle or spoon that the grain may dry, and removing it when just short of burning. At their entertainments the guests are treated with rice prepared also in a variety of modes, by frying it in cakes or boiling a particular species of it mixed with the kernel of the coconut and fresh oil, in small joints of bamboo. This is called lemmang. Before it is served up they cut off the outer rind of the bamboo and the soft inner coat is peeled away by the person who eats.


They dress their meat immediately after killing it, while it is still warm, which is conformable with the practice of the ancients as recorded in Homer and elsewhere, and in this state it is said to eat tenderer than when kept for a day: longer the climate will not admit of, unless when it is preserved in that mode called dinding. This is the flesh of the buffalo cut into small thin steaks and exposed to the heat of the sun in fair weather, generally on the thatch of their houses, till it is become so dry and hard as to resist putrefaction without any assistance from salt. Fish is preserved in the same manner, and cargoes of both are sent from parts of the coast where they are in plenty to those where provisions are in more demand. It is seemingly strange that heat, which in a certain degree promotes putrefaction, should when violently increased operate to prevent it; but it must be considered that moisture also is requisite to the former effect, and this is absorbed in thin substances by the sun's rays before it can contribute to the production of maggots.

Blachang, a preservation, if it may be so termed, of an opposite kind, is esteemed a great delicacy among the Malays, and is by them exported to the west of India. The country Sumatrans seldom procure it. It is a species of caviar, and is extremely offensive and disgusting to persons who are not accustomed to it, particularly the black kind, which is the most common. The best sort, or the red blachang, is made of the spawn of shrimps, or of the shrimps themselves, which they take about the mouths of rivers. They are, after boiling, exposed to the sun to dry, then pounded in a mortar with salt, moistened with a little water and formed into cakes, which is all the process. The black sort, used by the lower class, is made of small fish, prepared in the same manner. On some parts of the east coast of the island they salt the roes of a large fish of the shad kind, and preserve them perfectly dry and well flavoured. These are called trobo.

When the natives kill a buffalo, which is always done at their public meetings, they do not cut it up into joints as we do an ox, but into small pieces of flesh, or steaks, which they call bantei. The hide of the buffalo is sometimes scalded, scraped, and hung up to dry in their houses where it shrivels and becomes perfectly hard. When wanted for use a piece is chopped off and, being stewed down for a great number of hours in a small quantity of water, forms a rich jelly which, properly seasoned, is esteemed a very delicate dish.

The sago (sagu), though common on Sumatra and used occasionally by the natives, is not an article of food of such general use among them as with the inhabitants of many other eastern islands, where it is employed as a substitute for rice. Millet (randa jawa) is also cultivated for food, but not in any considerable quantity.

When these several articles of subsistence fail the Sumatran has recourse to those wild roots, herbs, and leaves of trees which the woods abundantly afford in every season without culture, and which the habitual simplicity of his diet teaches him to consider as no very extraordinary circumstance of hardship. Hence it is that famines in this island or, more properly speaking, failures of crops of grain, are never attended with those dreadful consequences which more improved countries and more provident nations experience.




From their domestic economy I am led to take a view of their labours in the field, their plantations and the state of agriculture amongst them, which an ingenious writer esteems the justest criterion of civilisation.


The most important article of cultivation, not in Sumatra alone but throughout the East, is rice. It is the grand material of food on which a hundred millions of the inhabitants of the earth subsist, and although chiefly confined by nature to the regions included between and bordering on the tropics, its cultivation is probably more extensive than that of wheat, which the Europeans are wont to consider as the universal staff of life. In the continent of Asia, as you advance to the northward, you come to the boundary where the plantations of rice disappear and the wheatfields commence; the cold felt in that climate, owing in part to the height of the land, being unfriendly to the production of the former article.

Rice (Oryza sativa) whilst in the husk is called padi by the Malays (from whose language the word seems to have found its way to the maritime parts of the continent of India), bras when deprived of the husk, and nasi after it has been boiled; besides which it assumes other names in its various states of growth and preparation. This minuteness of distinction applies also to some other articles of common use, and may be accounted for upon this principle: that amongst people whose general objects of attention are limited, those which do of necessity occupy them are liable to be more the subject of thought and conversation than in more enlightened countries where the ideas of men have an extensive range. The kinds of rice also (whether technically of different species I cannot pronounce) are very numerous, but divided in the first place into the two comprehensive classes of padi ladang or upland, from its growing in high, dry grounds, and padi sawah (vulgarly pronounced sawur or sour) or lowland, from its being planted in marshes; each of which is said to contain ten or fifteen varieties, distinct in shape, size, and colour of the grain, modes of growth, and delicacy of flavour; it being observed that in general the larger-grained rice is not so much prized by the natives as that which is small, when at the same time white and in some degree transparent.* To M. Poivre, in his Travels of a Philosopher, we are indebted for first pointing out these two classes when speaking of the agriculture of Cochin-China. The qualities of the ladang, or upland rice, are held to be superior to those of the sawah, being whiter, more nourishing, better tasted and having the advantage in point of keeping. Its mode of culture too is free from the charge of unhealthiness attributed to the latter, which is of a watery substance, is attended with less increase in boiling, and is subject to a swifter decay; but of this the rate of produce from the seed is much greater, and the certainty of the crops more to be depended on. It is accordingly cheaper and in more common use. The seed of each sort is kept separate by the natives, who assert that they will not grow reciprocally.

(*Footnote. The following sorts of dry-ground padi have come under my notice but as the names vary in different districts it is possible that some of these may be repetitions, where there is no striking difference of character:

Padi Ebbas, large grain, very common;
Andalong, short round grain, grows in whorls or bunches round the stalk, common;
Galu, light-coloured, scarce;
Sini, small grain, deep coloured, scarce;
Iju, light ish colour, scarce;
Kuning, deep yellow, crooked and pointed, fine rice;
Kukur-ballum, small, much crooked and resembling a dove's claw, from whence the name; light-coloured, highly esteemed for its delicate flavour;
Pisang, outer coat light brown, inner red, longer, smaller, and less crooked than the preceding;
Bringin, long, flattish, ribbed, pointed, dead yellow;
Bujut, shaped like the preceding, but with a tinge of red in the colour;
Chariap, short, roundish, reddish yellow;
Janggut or bearded, small, narrow, pale brown;
Jambi, small, somewhat crooked and pointed, light brown;
Laye, gibbous, light-coloured;
Musang, long, small, crooked and pointed, deep purple;
Pandan, small, light-coloured;
Pau, long, crooked and pointed, light yellow;
Puyuh, small, delicate, crooked and pointed, bright ochre;
Rakkun, roundish grain, resembles the andalong, but larger and deeper colour;
Sihong, much resembles the laye in shape and colour;
Sutar, short, roundish, bright, reddish brown;
Pulut gading or ivory, long, nearly straight, light yellow;
Pulut kechil, small, crooked, reddish yellow;
Pulut bram, long and rather large grain, purple, when fresh more nearly red;
Pulut bram lematong, in shape like the preceding, but of a dead pale colour.
Beside these four there is also a black kind of pulut.
Samples of most of these have been in my possession for a number of years, and still continue perfectly sound. Of the sorts of rice growing in low grounds I have not specimens. The padi santong, which is small, straight, and light-coloured, is held to be the finest. In the Lampong country they make a distinction of padi krawang and padi jerru, of which I know nothing more than that the former is a month earlier in growth than the latter.)


For the cultivation of upland padi the site of woods is universally preferred, and the more ancient the woods the better, on account of the superior richness of the soil; the continual fall and rotting of the leaves forming there a bed of vegetable mould, which the open plains do not afford, being exhausted by the powerful operation of the sun's rays and the constant production of a rank grass called lalang. When this grass, common to all the eastern islands, is kept under by frequent mowing or the grazing of cattle (as is the case near the European settlements) its room is supplied by grass of a finer texture. Many suppose that the same identical species of vegetable undergoes this alteration, as no fresh seeds are sown and the substitution uniformly takes place. But this is an evident mistake as the generic characters of the two are essentially different; the one being the Gramen caricosum and the other the Gramen aciculatum described by Rumphius. The former, which grows to the height of five feet, is remarkable for the whiteness and softness of the down or blossom, and the other for the sharpness of its bearded seeds, which prove extremely troublesome to the legs of those who walk among it.*

(*Footnote. Gramen hoc (caricosum) totos occupat campos, nudosque colles tam dense et laete germinans, ut e longinquo haberetur campus oryza consitus, tam luxuriose ac fortiter crescit, ut neque hortos neque sylvas evitet, atque tam vehementer prorepit, ut areae vix depurari ac servari possint, licet quotidie deambulentur...Potissimum amat solum flavum arguillosum. (Gramen aciculatum) Usus ejus fere nullus est, sed hic detegendum est taediosum ludibrium, quod quis habet, si quis per campos vel in sylvis procedat, ubi hoc gramen ad vias publicas crescit, quum praetereuntium vestibus, hoc semen quam maxime inhaeret. Rumphius volume 6 book 10 chapters 8 and 13. M. Poivre describes the plains of Madagascar and Java as covered with a long grass which he calls fatak, and which, from the analogy of the countries in other respects, I should suppose to be the lalang; but he praises it as affording excellent pasturage; whereas in Sumatra it is reckoned the worst, and except when very young it is not edible by the largest cattle; for which reason the carters and drovers are in the practice of setting fire to that which grows on the plains by the roadside, that the young shoots which thereupon shoot up, may afterwards supply food to their buffaloes.)

If old woods are not at hand ground covered with that of younger growth, termed balukar, is resorted to; but not, if possible, under the age of four or five years. Vegetation is there so strong that spots which had been perfectly cleared for cultivation will, upon being neglected for a single season, afford shelter to the beasts of the forest; and the same being rarely occupied for two successive years, the face of the country continues to exhibit the same wild appearance, although very extensive tracts are annually covered with fresh plantations. From this it will be seen that, in consequence of the fertility to which it gives occasion, the abundance of wood in the country is not considered by the inhabitants as an inconvenience but the contrary. Indeed I have heard a native prince complain of a settlement made by some persons of a distant tribe in the inland part of his dominions, whom he should be obliged to expel from thence in order to prevent the waste of his old woods. This seemed a superfluous act of precaution in an island which strikes the eye as one general, impervious, and inexhaustible forest.


On the approach of the dry monsoon (April and May) or in the course of it, the husbandman makes choice of a spot for his ladang, or plantation of upland rice, for that season, and marks it out. Here it must be observed that property in land depends upon occupancy, unless where fruit-bearing trees have been planted, and, as there is seldom any determined boundary between the lands of neighbouring villages, such marks are rarely disturbed. Collecting his family and dependents, he next proceeds to clear the ground. This is an undertaking of immense labour, and would seem to require herculean force, but it is effected by skill and perseverance. The work divides itself into two parts. The first (called tebbas, menebbas) consists in cutting down the brushwood and rank vegetables, which are suffered to dry during an interval of a fortnight, or more or less, according to the fairness of the weather, before they proceed to the second operation (called tebbang, menebbang) of felling the large trees. Their tools, the prang and billiong (the former resembling a bill-hook, and the latter an imperfect adze) are seemingly inadequate to the task, and the saw is unknown in the country. Being regardless of the timber they do not fell the tree near the ground, where the stem is thick, but erect a stage and begin to hew, or chop rather, at the height of ten or twelve, to twenty or thirty feet, where the dimensions are smaller (and sometimes much higher, taking off little more than the head) until it is sufficiently weakened to admit of their pulling it down with rattans made fast to the branches instead of ropes.* And thus by slow degrees the whole is laid low.

(*Footnote. A similar mode of felling is described in the Maison rustique de Cayenne.)

In some places however a more summary process is attempted. It may be conceived that in the woods the cutting down trees singly is a matter of much difficulty on account of the twining plants which spread from one to the other and connect them strongly together. To surmount this it is not an uncommon practice to cut a number of trees half through, on the same side, and then fix upon one of great bulk at the extremity of the space marked out, which they cut nearly through, and, having disengaged it from these lianas (as they are termed in the western world) determine its fall in such a direction as may produce the effect of its bearing down by its prodigious weight all those trees which had been previously weakened for the purpose. By this much time and labour are saved, and, the object being to destroy and not to save the timber, the rending or otherwise spoiling the stems is of no moment. I could never behold this devastation without a strong sentiment of regret. Perhaps the prejudices of a classical education taught me to respect those aged trees as the habitation or material frame of an order of sylvan deities, who were now deprived of existence by the sacrilegious hand of a rude, undistinguishing savage. But without having recourse to superstition it is not difficult to account for such feelings on the sight of a venerable wood, old, to appearance, as the soil it stood on, and beautiful beyond what pencil can describe, annihilated for the temporary use of the space it occupied. It seemed a violation of nature in the too arbitrary exercise of power. The timber, from its abundance, the smallness of consumption, and its distance in most cases from the banks of navigable rivers, by which means alone it could be transported to any distance, is of no value; and trees whose bulk, height, straightness of stem, and extent of limbs excite the admiration of a traveller, perish indiscriminately. Some of the branches are lopped off, and when these, together with the underwood, are become sufficiently arid, they are set fire to, and the country, for the space of a month or two, is in a general blaze and smoke, until the whole is consumed and the ground effectually cleared. The expiring wood, beneficent to its ungrateful destroyer, fertilises for his use by its ashes and their salts the earth which it so long adorned.

Unseasonable wet weather at this period, which sometimes happens, and especially when the business is deferred till the close of the dry or south-east monsoon, whose termination is at best irregular, produces much inconvenience by the delay of burning till the vegetation has had time to renew itself; in which case the spot is commonly abandoned, or, if partially burned, it is not without considerable toil that it can be afterwards prepared for sowing. On such occasions there are imposters ready to make a profit of the credulity of the husbandman who, like all others whose employments expose them to risks, are prone to superstition, by pretending to a power of causing or retarding rain. One of these will receive, at the time of burning the ladangs, a dollar or more from each family in the neighbourhood, under the pretence of ensuring favourable weather for their undertaking. To accomplish this purpose he abstains, or pretends to abstain, for many days and nights from food and sleep, and performs various trifling ceremonies; continuing all the time in the open air. If he espies a cloud gathering he immediately begins to smoke tobacco with great vehemence, walking about with a quick pace and throwing the puffs towards it with all the force of his lungs. How far he is successful it is no difficult matter to judge. His skill, in fact, lies in choosing his time, when there is the greatest prospect of the continuance of fair weather in the ordinary course of nature: but should he fail there is an effectual salvo. He always promises to fulfil his agreement with a Deo volente clause, and so attributes his occasional disappointments to the particular interposition of the deity. The cunning men who, in this and many other instances of conjuration, impose on the simple country people, are always Malayan adventurers, and not unfrequently priests. The planter whose labour has been lost by such interruptions generally finds it too late in the season to begin on another ladang, and the ordinary resource for subsisting himself and family is to seek a spot of sawah ground, whose cultivation is less dependent upon accidental variations of weather. In some districts much confusion in regard to the period of sowing is said to have arisen from a very extraordinary cause. Anciently, say the natives, it was regulated by the stars, and particularly by the appearance (heliacal rising) of the bintang baniak or Pleiades; but after the introduction of the Mahometan religion they were induced to follow the returns of the puisa or great annual fast, and forgot their old rules. The consequence of this was obvious, for the lunar year of the hejrah being eleven days short of the sidereal or solar year the order of the seasons was soon inverted; and it is only astonishing that its inaptness to the purposes of agriculture should not have been immediately discovered.


When the periodical rains begin to fall, which takes place gradually about October, the planter assembles his neighbours (whom he assists in turn), and with the aid of his whole family proceeds to sow his ground, endeavouring to complete the task in the course of one day. In order to ensure success he fixes, by the priest's assistance, on a lucky day, and vows the sacrifice of a kid if his crop should prove favourable; the performance of which is sacredly observed, and is the occasion of a feast in every family after harvest. The manner of sowing (tugal-menugal) is this. Two or three men enter the plantation, as it is usual to call the padi-field, holding in each hand sticks about five feet long and two inches diameter, bluntly pointed, with which, striking them into the ground as they advance, they make small, shallow holes, at the distance of about five inches from each other. These are followed by the women and elder children with small baskets containing the seed-grain (saved with care from the choicest of the preceding crop) of which they drop four or five grains into every hole, and, passing on, are followed by the younger children who with their feet (in the use of which the natives are nearly as expert as with their hands) cover them lightly from the adjacent earth, that the seed may not be too much exposed to the birds, which, as might be expected, often prove destructive foes. The ground, it should be observed, has not been previously turned up by any instrument of the hoe or plough kind, nor would the stumps and roots of trees remaining in it admit of the latter being worked; although employed under other circumstances, as will hereafter appear. If rain succeeds the padi is above ground in four or five days; but by an unexpected run of dry weather it is sometimes lost, and the field sowed a second time. When it has attained a month or six weeks' growth it becomes necessary to clear it of weeds (siang-menyiang), which is repeated at the end of two months or ten weeks; after which the strength it has acquired is sufficient to preserve it from injury in that way. Huts are now raised in different parts of the plantation, from whence a communication is formed over the whole by means of rattans, to which are attached scarecrows, rattles, clappers, and other machines for frightening away the birds, in the contrivance of which they employ incredible pains and ingenuity; so disposing them that a child, placed in the hut, shall be able, with little exertion, to create a loud clattering noise to a great extent; and on the borders of the field are placed at intervals a species of windmill fixed on poles which, on the inexperienced traveller, have an effect as terrible as those encountered by the knight of La Mancha. Such precautions are indispensable for the protection of the corn, when in the ear, against the numerous flights of the pipi, a small bird with a light-brown body, white head, and bluish beak, rather less than the sparrow, which in its general appearance and habits it resembles. Several of these lighting at once upon a stalk of padi, and bearing it down, soon clear it of its produce, and thus if unmolested destroy whole crops.

At the time of sowing the padi it is a common practice to sow also, in the interstices, and in the same manner, jagong or maize, which, growing up faster and ripening before it (in little more than three months) is gathered without injury to the former. It is also customary to raise in the same ground a species of momordica, the fruit of which comes forward in the course of two months.


The nominal time allowed from the sowing to the reaping of the crop is five lunar months and ten days; but from this it must necessarily vary with the circumstances of the season. When it ripens, if all at the same time, the neighbours are again summoned to assist, and entertained for the day: if a part only ripens first the family begin to reap it, and proceed through the whole by degrees. In this operation, called tuwei-menuwei from the instrument used, they take off the head of corn (the term of ear not being applicable to the growth of this plant) about six inches below the grain, the remaining stalk or halm being left as of no value. The tuwei is a piece of wood about six inches long, usually of carved work and about two inches diameter, in which is fixed lengthwise a blade of four or five inches, secured at the extremes by points bent to a right angle and entering the wood. To this is added a piece of very small bamboo from two to three inches long, fixed at right angles across the back of the wood, with a notch for receiving it, and pinned through by a small peg. This bamboo rests in the hollow of the hand, one end of the piece of wood passing between the two middle fingers, with the blade outwards; the natives always cutting FROM them.* With this in the right hand and a small basket slung over the left shoulder, they very expeditiously crop the heads of padi one by one, bringing the stalk to the blade with their two middle fingers, and passing them, when cut, from the right hand to the left. As soon as the left hand is full the contents are placed in regular layers in the basket (sometimes tied up in a little sheaf), and from thence removed to larger baskets, in which the harvest is to be conveyed to the dusun or village, there to be lodged in the tangkian or barns, which are buildings detached from the dwelling-houses, raised like them from the ground, widening from the floor towards the roof, and well lined with boards or coolitcoy. In each removal care is taken to preserve the regularity of the layers, by which means it is stowed to advantage, and any portion of it readily taken out for use.

(*Footnote. The inhabitants of Menangkabau are said to reap with an instrument resembling a sickle.)


Sawahs are plantations of padi in low wet ground, which, during the growth of the crop, in the rainy season between the months of October and March,* are for the most part overflowed to the depth of six inches or a foot, beyond which latter the water becomes prejudicial. Level marshes, of firm bottom, under a moderate stratum of mud, and not liable to deep stagnant water, are the situations preferred; the narrower hollows, though very commonly used for small plantations, being more liable to accidents from torrents and too great depth of water, which the inhabitants have rarely industry enough to regulate to advantage by permanent embankments. They are not however ignorant of such expedients, and works are sometimes met with, constructed for the purpose chiefly of supplying the deficiency of rain to several adjoining sawahs by means of sluices, contrived with no small degree of skill and attention to levels.

(*Footnote. In the Transactions of the Batavian Society the following mention is made of the cultivation of rice in Java. The padi sawa is sown in low watered grounds in the month of March, transplanted in April, and reaped in August. The padi tipar is sown in high ploughed lands in November, and reaped in March (earlier in the season than I could have supposed.) when sown where woods have been recently cut down, or in the clefts of the hills (klooven van het gebergte) it is named padi gaga. Volume 1 page 27.)

In new ground, after clearing it from the brushwood, reeds, and aquatic vegetables with which the marshes, when neglected, are overrun, and burning them at the close of the dry season, the soil is, in the beginning of the wet, prepared for culture by different modes of working. In some places a number of buffaloes, whose greatest enjoyment consists in wading and rolling in mud, are turned in, and these by their motions contribute to give it a more uniform consistence as well as enrich it by their dung. In other parts less permanently moist the soil is turned up, either with a wooden instrument between a hoe and a pickaxe, or with the plough, of which they use two kinds; their own, drawn by one buffalo, extremely simple, and the wooden share of it doing little more than scratch the ground to the depth of six inches; and one they have borrowed from the Chinese, drawn either with one or two buffaloes, very light, and the share more nearly resembling ours, turning the soil over as it passes and making a narrow furrow. In sawahs however the surface has in general so little consistence that no furrow is perceptible, and the plough does little more than loosen the stiff mud to some depth, and cut the roots of the grass and weeds, from which it is afterwards cleared by means of a kind of harrow or rake, being a thick plank of heavy wood with strong wooden teeth and loaded with earth where necessary. This they contrive to drag along the surface for the purpose at the same time of depressing the rising spots and filling up the hollow ones. The whole being brought as nearly as possible to a level, that the water may lie equally upon it the sawah is, for the more effectual securing of this essential point, divided into portions nearly square or oblong (called piring, which signifies a dish) by narrow banks raised about eighteen inches and two feet wide. These drying become harder than the rest, confine the water, and serve the purpose of footways throughout the plantation. When there is more water in one division than another small passages are cut through the dams to produce an equality. Through these apertures water is also in some instances introduced from adjacent rivers or reservoirs, where such exist, and the season requires their aid. The innumerable springs and rivulets with which this country abounds render unnecessary the laborious processes by which water is raised and supplied to the rice grounds in the western part of India, where the soil is sandy: yet still the principal art of the planter consists, and is required, in the management of this article; to furnish it to the ground in proper and moderate quantities and to carry it off from time to time by drains; for if suffered to be long stagnant it would occasion the grain to rot.


Whilst the sawahs have been thus in preparation to receive the padi a small, adjacent, and convenient spot of good soil has been chosen, in which the seed-grain is sown as thick as it can well lie to the ground, and is then often covered with layers of lalang (long grass, instead of straw) to protect the grain from the birds, and perhaps assist the vegetation. When it has grown to the height of from five to eight inches, or generally at the end of forty days from the time of sowing, it is taken up in showery weather and transplanted to the sawah, where holes are made four or five inches asunder to receive the plants. If they appear too forward the tops are cropped off. A supply is at the same time reserved in the seed-plots to replace such as may chance to fail upon removal. These plantations, in the same manner as the ladangs, it is necessary to cleanse from weeds at least twice in the first two or three months; but no maize or other seed is sown among the crop. When the padi begins to form the ear or to blossom, as the natives express it, the water is finally drawn off, and at the expiration of four months from the time of transplanting it arrives at maturity. The manner of guarding against the birds is similar to what has been already described; but the low ground crop has a peculiar and very destructive enemy in the rats, which sometimes consume the whole of it, especially when the plantation has been made somewhat out of season; to obviate which evil the inhabitants of a district sow by agreement pretty nearly at the same time; whereby the damage is less perceptible. In the mode of reaping likewise there is nothing different. Upon the conclusion of the harvest it is an indispensable duty to summon the neighbouring priests to the first meal that is made of the new rice, when an entertainment is given according to the circumstances of the family. Should this ceremony be omitted the crop would be accursed (haram) nor could the whole household expect to outlive the season. This superstition has been by the Mahometans judiciously engrafted on the stock of credulity in the country people.

The same spot of low ground is for the most part used without regular intermission for several successive years, the degree of culture they bestow by turning up the soil and the overflowing water preserving its fertility. They are not however insensible to the advantage of occasional fallows. In consequence of this continued use the value of the sawah grounds differs from that of ladangs, the former being, in the neighbourhood of populous towns particularly, distinct property, and of regularly ascertained value. At Natal for example those consisting between one and two acres sell for sixteen to twenty Spanish dollars. In the interior country, where the temperature of the air is more favourable to agriculture, they are said to sow the same spot with ladang rice for three successive years; and there also it is common to sow onions as soon as the stubble is burned off. Millet (randa jawa) is sown at the same time with the padi. In the country of Manna, southward of Bencoolen, a progress in the art of cultivation is discovered, superior to what appears in almost any other part of the island; the Batta country perhaps alone excepted. Here may be seen pieces of land in size from five to fifteen acres, regularly ploughed and harrowed. The difference is thus accounted for. It is the most populous district in that southern part, with the smallest extent of sea-coast. The pepper plantations and ladangs together having in a great measure exhausted the old woods in the accessible parts of the country, and the inhabitants being therein deprived of a source of fertility which nature formerly supplied, they must either starve, remove to another district, or improve by cultivation the spot where they reside. The first is contrary to the inherent principle that teaches man to preserve life by every possible means: their attachment to their native soil, or rather their veneration for the sepulchres of their ancestors, is so strong that to remove would cost them a struggle almost equal to the pangs of death: necessity therefore, the parent of art and industry, compels them to cultivate the earth.


The produce of the grounds thus tilled is reckoned at thirty for one; from those in the ordinary mode about a hundred fold on the average, the ladangs yielding about eighty, and the sawahs a hundred and twenty. Under favourable circumstances I am assured the rate of produce is sometimes so high as a hundred and forty fold. The quantity sown by a family is usually from five to ten bamboo measures or gallons. These returns are very extraordinary compared with those of our wheat-fields in Europe, which I believe seldom exceed fifteen, and are often under ten. To what is this disproportion owing? to the difference of grain, as rice may be in its nature extremely prolific? to the more genial influence of a warmer climate? or to the earth's losing by degrees her fecundity from an excessive cultivation? Rather than to any of these causes I am inclined to attribute it to the different process followed in sowing. In England the saving of labour and promoting of expedition are the chief objects, and in order to effect these the grain is almost universally scattered in the furrows; excepting where the drill has been introduced. The Sumatrans, who do not calculate the value of their own labour or that of their domestics on such occasions, make holes in the ground, as has been described, and drop into each a few grains*; or, by a process still more tedious, raise the seed in beds and then plant it out. Mr. Charles Miller, in a paper published in the Philosophical Transactions, has shown us the wonderful effects of successive transplantation. How far it might be worth the English farmer's while to bestow more labour in the business of sowing the grain, with the view of a proportionate increase in the rate of produce, I am not competent, nor is it to my present purpose, to form a judgment. Possibly as the advantage might be found to lie rather in the quantity of grain saved in the sowing than gained in the reaping, it would not answer his purpose; for although half the quantity of seed-corn bears reciprocally the same proportion to the usual produce that double the latter does to the usual allowance of seed, yet in point of profit the scale is different. To augment this it is of much more importance to increase the produce from a given quantity of land than to diminish the quantity of grain necessary for sowing it.

(*Footnote. In an address from the Bath Agricultural Society dated 12th October 1795 it is strongly recommended to the cultivators of land (on account of the then existing scarcity of grain) to adopt the method of dibbling wheat. The holes to be made either by the common dibble, or with an implement having four or more points in a frame, at the distance of about four inches every way, and to the depth of an inch and a half; dropping TWO grains into every hole. The man who dibbles is to move backwards and to be followed by two or three women or children, who drop in the grains. A bush-hurdle, drawn across the furrows by a single horse, finishes the business. About six pecks of seed-wheat per acre are saved by this method. The expense of dibbling, dropping, and covering is reckoned in Norfolk at about six shillings per acre. Times Newspaper of 20th October 1795.)


Notwithstanding the received opinion of the fertility of what are called the Malay Islands, countenanced by the authority of M. Poivre and other celebrated writers, and still more by the extraordinary produce of grain, as above stated, I cannot help saying that I think the soil of the western coast of Sumatra is in general rather sterile than rich. It is for the most part a stiff red clay, burned nearly to the state of a brick where it is exposed to the influence of the sun. The small proportion of the whole that is cultivated is either ground from which old woods have been recently cleared, whose leaves had formed a bed of vegetable earth some inches deep, or else ravines into which the scanty mould of the adjoining hills has been washed by the annual torrents of rain. It is true that in many parts of the coast there are, between the cliffs and the sea-beach, plains varying in breadth and extent of a sandy soil, probably left by the sea and more or less mixed with earth in proportion to the time they have remained uncovered by the waters; and such are found to prove the most favourable spots for raising the productions of other parts of the world. But these are partial and insufficient proofs of fertility. Every person who has attempted to make a garden of any kind nor Fort Marlborough must well know how ineffectual a labour it would prove to turn up with the spade a piece of ground adopted at random. It becomes necessary for this purpose to form an artificial soil of dung, ashes, rubbish, and such other materials as can be procured. From these alone he can expect to raise the smallest supply of vegetables for the table. I have seen many extensive plantations of coconut, pinang, lime, and coffee-trees, laid out at a considerable expense by different gentlemen, and not one do I recollect to have succeeded; owing as it would seem to the barrenness of the soil, although covered with long grass. These disappointments have induced the Europeans almost entirely to neglect agriculture. The more industrious Chinese colonists, who work the ground with indefatigable pains, and lose no opportunity of saving and collecting manure, are rather more successful; yet have I heard one of the most able cultivators among this people, who, by the dint of labour and perseverance, had raised what then appeared to me a delightful garden, designed for profit as well as pleasure, declare that his heart was almost broken in struggling against nature; the soil being so ungrateful that, instead of obtaining an adequate return for his trouble and expense, the undertaking was likely to render him a bankrupt; and which he would inevitably have been but for assistance afforded him by the East India Company.*

(*Footnote. Some particular plants, especially the tea, Key Sun used to tell me he considered as his children: his first care in the morning and his last in the evening was to tend and cherish them. I heard with concern of his death soon after the first publication of this work, and could have wished the old man had lived to know that the above small tribute of attention had been paid to his merits as a gardener. In a letter received from the late ingenious Mr. Charles Campbell, belonging to the medical establishment of Fort Marlborough, whose communications I shall have future occasion to notice, he writes on the 29th of March 1802: "I must not omit to say a word about my attempts to cultivate the land. The result of all my labours in that way was disappointment almost as heartbreaking as that of the unlucky Chinaman, whose example however did not deter me. After many vexations I descended from the plains into the ravines, and there met with the success denied me on the elevated land. In one of these, through which runs a small rivulet emptying itself into the lake of Dusun Besar, I attempted a plantation of coffee, where there are now upwards of seven thousand plants firmly rooted and putting out new leaves." this cultivation has since been so much increased as to become an important article of commerce. It should at the same time be acknowledged that our acquaintance with the central and eastern parts of the island is very imperfect, and that much fertile land may be found beyond the range of mountains.)

The natives, it is true, without much or any cultivation raise several useful trees and plants; but they are in very small quantities, and immediately about their villages, where the ground is fertilised in spite of their indolence by the common sweepings of their houses and streets and the mere vicinity of their buildings. I have often had occasion to observe in young plantations that those few trees which surrounded the house of the owner or the hut of the keeper considerably over-topped their brethren of the same age. Every person at first sight, and on a superficial view of the Malayan countries, pronounces them the favourites of nature where she has lavished her bounties with a profusion unknown in other regions, and laments the infatuation of the people, who neglect to cultivate the finest soil in the world. But I have scarcely known one who, after a few years' residence, has not entirely altered his opinion. Certain it is that in point of external appearance they may challenge all others to comparison. In many parts of Sumatra, rarely trodden by human foot, scenes present themselves adapted to raise the sublimest sentiments in minds susceptible of the impression. But how rarely are they contemplated by minds of that temper! and yet it is alone:

For such the rivers dash their foaming tides,
The mountain swells, the vale subsides,
The stately wood detains the wandering sight,
And the rough barren rock grows pregnant with delight.

Even when there ARE inhabitants, to how little purpose as it respects them has she been profuse in ornament! In passing through places where my fancy was charmed with more luxuriant, wild, and truly picturesque views than I had ever before met with, I could not avoid regretting that a country so captivating to the eye should be allotted to a race of people who seem totally insensible of its beauties. But it is time to return from this excursion and pursue the progress of the husbandman through his remaining labours.


Different nations have adopted various methods of separating the grain from the ear. The most ancient we read of was that of driving cattle over the sheaves in order to trample it out. Large planks, blocks of marble, heavy carriages, have been employed in later times for this end. In most parts of Europe the flail is now in use, but in England begins to be superseded by the powerful and expeditious but complicated threshing machine. The Sumatrans have a mode differing from all these. The bunches of padi in the ear being spread on mats, they rub out the grain between and under their feet; supporting themselves in common for the more easy performance of this labour by holding with their hands a bamboo placed horizontally over their heads. Although, by going always unshod, their feet are extremely callous, and therefore adapted to the exercise, yet the workmen when closely tasked by their masters sometimes continue shuffling till the blood issues from their soles. This is the universal practice throughout the island.

After treading out or threshing the next process is to winnow the corn (mengirei), which is done precisely in the same manner as practised by us. Advantage being taken of a windy day, it is poured out from the sieve or fan; the chaff dispersing whilst the heavier grain falls to the ground. This simple mode seems to have been followed in all ages and countries, though now giving place, in countries where the saving of labour is a principal object, to mechanical contrivances.

In order to clear the grain from the husk, by which operation the padi acquires the name of rice (bras), and loses one half of its measured quantity, two bamboos of the former yielding only one of the latter, it is first spread out in the sunshine to dry (jumur), and then pounded in large wooden mortars (lesung) with heavy pestles (alu) made of a hard species of wood, until the outer coat is completely separated from it, when it is again fanned. This business falls principally to the lot of the females of the family, two of whom commonly work at the same mortar. In some places (but not frequently) it is facilitated by the use of a lever, to the end of which a short pestle or pounder is fixed; and in others by a machine which is a hollow cylinder or frustum of a cone, formed of heavy wood, placed upon a solid block of the same diameter, the contiguous surfaces of each being previously cut in notches or small grooves, and worked backwards and forwards horizontally by two handles or transverse arms; a spindle fixed in the centre of the lower cylinder serving as an axis to the upper or hollow one. Into this the grain is poured, and it is thus made to perform the office of the hopper at the same time with that of the upper, or movable stone, in our mills. In working it is pressed downwards to increase the friction, which is sufficient to deprive the padi of its outer coating.

The rice is now in a state for sale, exportation, or laying up. To render it perfectly clean for eating, a point to which they are particularly attentive, it is put a second time into a lesung of smaller size, and, being sufficiently pounded without breaking the grains, it is again winnowed by tossing it dexterously in a flat sieve until the pure and spotless corns are separated from every particle of bran. They next wash it in cold water and then proceed to boil it in the manner before described.


As an article of trade the Sumatran rice seems to be of a more perishable nature than that of some other countries, the upland rice not being expected to keep longer than twelve months, and the lowland showing signs of decay after six. At Natal there is a practice of putting a quantity of leaves of a shrub called lagundi (Vitex trifolia) amongst it in granaries, or the holds of vessels, on the supposition of its possessing the property of destroying or preventing the generation of weevils that usually breed in it. In Bengal it is said the rice intended for exportation is steeped in hot water whilst still in the husk, and afterwards dried by exposure to the sun; owing to which precaution it will continue sound for two or three years, and is on that account imported for garrison store at the European settlements. If retained in the state of padi it will keep very long without damaging.* The country people lay it up unthreshed from the stalk and beat it out (as we render their word tumbuk) from time to time as wanted for use or sale.

(*Footnote. I have in my possession specimens of a variety of species which were transmitted to me twelve years ago and are still perfectly sound.)

The price of this necessary of life differs considerably throughout the island, not only from the circumstances of the season but according to the general demand at the places where it is purchased, the degree of industry excited by such demand, and the aptitude of the country to supply it. The northern parts of the coast under the influence of the Achinese produce large quantities; particularly Susu and Tampat-tuan, where it is (or used to be) purchased at the rate of thirty bamboos (gallons) for the Spanish dollar, and exported either to Achin or to the settlement of Natal for the use of the Residency of Fort Marlborough. At Natal also, and for the same ultimate destination, is collected the produce of the small island of Nias, whose industrious inhabitants, living themselves upon the sweet-potato (Convolvulus batatas), cultivate rice for exportation only, encouraged by the demand from the English and (what were) the Dutch factories. Not any is exported from Natal of its actual produce; a little from Ayer Bungi; more from the extensive but neglected districts of Pasaman and Masang, and many cargoes from the country adjacent to Padang. Our pepper settlements to the northward of Fort Marlborough, from Moco-moco to Laye inclusive, export each a small quantity, but from thence southward to Kroi supplies are required for the subsistence of the inhabitants, the price varying from twelve to four bamboos according to the season. At our head settlement the consumption of the civil and military establishments, the company's LABOURERS, together with the Chinese and Malayan settlers, so much exceeds the produce of the adjoining districts (although exempted from any obligation to cultivate pepper) that there is a necessity for importing a quantity from the islands of Java and Bally, and from Bengal about three to six thousand bags annually.*

(*Footnote. This has reference to the period between 1770 and 1780 generally. So far as respects the natives there has been no material alteration.)

The rice called pulut or bras se-pulut (Oryza gelatinosa), of which mention has been made in the list above, is in its substance of a very peculiar nature, and not used as common food but with the addition of coconut-kernel in making a viscous preparation called lemang, which I have seen boiled in a green bamboo, and other juadahs or friandises. It is commonly distinguished into the white, red, and black sorts, among which the red appears to be the most esteemed. The black chiefly is employed by the Chinese colonists at Batavia and Fort Marlborough in the composition of a fermented liquor called bram or brum, of which the basis is the juice extracted from a species of palm.


The coconut-tree, kalapa, nior (Cocos nucifera), may be esteemed the next important object of cultivation from the uses to which its produce is applied; although by the natives of Sumatra it is not converted to such a variety of purposes as in the Maldives and those countries where nature has been less bountiful in other gifts. Its value consists principally in the kernel of the nut, the consumption of which is very great, being an essential ingredient in the generality of their dishes. From this also, but in a state of more maturity, is procured the oil in common use near the sea-coast, both for anointing the hair, in cookery, and for burning in lamps. In the interior country other vegetable oils are employed, and light is supplied by a kind of links made of dammar or resin. A liquor, commonly known in India by the name of toddy, is extracted from this as well as from other trees of the palm-kind. Whilst quite fresh it is sweet and pleasant to the taste, and is called nira. After four and twenty hours it acidulates, ferments, and becomes intoxicating, in which state it is called tuak. Being distilled with molasses and other ingredients it yields the spirit called arrack. In addition to these but of trifling importance are the cabbage or succulent pith at the head of the tree, which however can be obtained only when it is cut down, and the fibres of the leaves, of which the natives form their brooms. The stem is never used for building nor any carpenter's purposes in a country where fine timber so much abounds. The fibrous substance of the husk is not there manufactured into cordage, as in the west of India where it is known by the name of coir; rattans and eju (a substance to be hereafter described) being employed for that purpose. The shell of the nut is but little employed as a domestic utensil, the lower class of people preferring the bamboo and the labu (Cucurbita lagenaria) and the better sort being possessed of coarse chinaware. If the filaments surrounding the stem are anywhere manufactured into cloth, as has been asserted, it must be in countries that do not produce cotton, which is a material beyond all comparison preferable: besides that certain kind of trees, as before observed, afford in their soft and pliable inner bark what may be considered as a species of cloth ready woven to their hands.

This tree in all its species, stages, fructification, and appropriate uses has been so elaborately and justly described by many writers, especially the celebrated Rumphius in his Herbarium Amboinense, and Van Rheede in his Hortus Malabaricus, that to attempt it here would be an unnecessary repetition, and I shall only add a few local observations on its growth. Every dusun is surrounded with a number of fruit-bearing trees, and especially the coconut where the soil and temperature will allow them to grow, and, near the bazaars or sea-port towns, where the concourse of inhabitants is in general much greater than in the country, there are always large plantations of them to supply the extraordinary demand. The tree thrives best in a low, sandy soil, near the sea, where it will produce fruit in four or five years; whilst in the clayey ground it seldom bears in less than seven to ten years. As you recede from the coast the growth is proportionably slower, owing to the greater degree of cold among the hills; and it must attain there nearly its full height before it is productive, whereas in the plains a child can generally reach its first fruit from the ground. Here, said a countryman at Laye, if I plant a coconut or durian-tree I may expect to reap the fruit of it; but in Labun (an inland district) I should only plant for my great-grandchildren. In some parts where the land is particularly high, neither these, the betel-nut, nor pepper-vines, will produce fruit at all.

It has been remarked by some writer that the date-bearing palm-tree and the coconut are never found to flourish in the same country. However this may hold good as a general assertion it is a fact that not one tree of that species is known to grow in Sumatra, where the latter, and many others of the palm kind, so much abound. All the small low islands which lie off the western coast are skirted near the sea-beach so thickly with coconut-trees that their branches touch each other, whilst the interior parts, though not on a higher level, are entirely free from them. This beyond a doubt is occasioned by the accidental floating of the nuts to the shore, where they are planted by the hand of nature, shoot up, and bear fruit; which, falling when it arrives at maturity, causes a successive reproduction. Where uninhabited, as is the case with Pulo Mego, one of the southernmost, the nuts become a prey to the rats and squirrels unless when occasionally disturbed by the crews of vessels which go thither to collect cargoes for market on the mainland. In the same manner, as we are told by Flacourt,* they have been thrown upon a coast of Madagascar and are not there indigenous; as I have been also assured by a native. Yet it appears that the natives call it voaniou, which is precisely the name by which it is familiarly known in Sumatra, being buah-nior; and v being uniformly substituted for b, and f for p, in the numerous Malayan words occurring in the language of the former island. On the other hand the singular production to which the appellation of sea-coconut (kalapa laut) has been given, and which is known to be the fruit of a species of borassus growing in one of the Seychelles Islands,** not far from Madagascar, are sometimes floated as far as the Malayan coasts, where they are supposed to be natives of the ocean and were held in high veneration for their miraculous effects in medicine until, about the year 1772, a large cargo of them was brought to Bencoolen by a French vessel, when their character soon fell with their price.

(*Footnote. Histoire de l'isle Madagascar page 127.)
(*Footnote. See a particular description of the sea-coconut with plates in the Voyage a la Nouvelle Guinee par Sonnerat page 3.)


The pinang (Areca catechu L.) or betel-nut-tree (as it is usually, but improperly, called, the betel being a different plant) is in its mode of growth and appearance not unlike the coconut. It is however straighter in the stem, smaller in proportion to the height, and more graceful. The fruit, of which the varieties are numerous (such as pinang betul, pinang ambun, and pinang wangi), is in its outer coat about the size of a plum; the nut something less than that of the nutmeg but rounder. This is eaten with the leaf of the sirih or betel (Piper betel L.) a claiming plant whose leaf has a strong aromatic flavour and other stimulating additions; a practice that shall be hereafter described. Of both of these the natives make large plantations.


In respect to its numerous and valuable uses the bambu or bamboo-cane (Arundo bambos) holds a conspicuous rank amongst the vegetables of the island, though I am not aware that it is anywhere cultivated for domestic purposes, growing wild in most parts in great abundance. In the Batta country, and perhaps some other inland districts, they plant a particular species very thickly about their kampongs or fortified villages as a defence against the attacks of an enemy; the mass of hedge which they form being almost impenetrable. It grows in common to the thickness of a man's leg, and some sorts to that of the thigh. The joints are from fifteen to twenty inches asunder, and the length about twenty to forty feet. In all manner of building it is the chief material, both in its whole state, and split into laths and otherwise, as has already appeared in treating of the houses of the natives; and the various other modes of employing it will be noticed either directly or incidentally in the course of the work.


The sugar-cane (tubbu) is very generally cultivated, but not in large quantities, and more frequently for the sake of chewing the juicy reed, which they consider as a delicacy, than for the manufacture of sugar. Yet this is not unattended to for home consumption, especially in the northern districts. By the Europeans and Chinese large plantations have been set on foot near Bencoolen, and worked from time to time with more or less effect; but in no degree to rival those of the Dutch at Batavia, from whence in time of peace the exportation of sugar (gula), sugar-candy (gula batu) and arrack is very considerable. In the southern parts of the island, and particularly in the district of Manna, every village is provided with two or three machines of a peculiar construction for squeezing the cane; but the inhabitants are content with boiling the juice to a kind of syrup. In the Lampong country they manufacture from the liquor yielded by a species of palm-tree a moist, clammy, imperfect kind of sugar, called jaggri in most parts of India.*

(*Footnote. This word is evidently the shakar of the Persians, the Latin saccharum, and our sugar.)


This palm, named in Sumatra anau, and by the eastern Malays gomuto, is the Borassus gomutus of Loureiro, the Saguerus pinnatus of the Batavian Transactions, and the cleophora of Gaertner. Its leaves are long and narrow and, though naturally tending to a point, are scarcely ever found perfect, but always jagged at the end. The fruit grows in bunches of thirty or forty together, on strings three or four feet long, several of which hang from one shoot. In order to procure the nira or toddy (held in higher estimation than that from the coconut-tree), one of these shoots for fructification is cut off a few inches from the stem, the remaining part is tied up and beaten, and an incision is then made, from which the liquor distils into a vessel or bamboo closely fastened beneath. This is replaced every twenty-four hours. The anau palm produces also (beside a little sago) the remarkable substance called iju and gomuto, exactly resembling coarse black horse-hair, and used for making cordage of a very excellent kind, as well as for many other purposes, being nearly incorruptible. It encompasses the stem of the tree, and is seemingly bound to it by thicker fibres or twigs, of which the natives made pens for writing. Toddy is likewise procured from the lontar or Borassus flabellifer, the tala of the Hindus.


The rambiya, puhn sagu, or proper sago tree, is also of the palm kind. Its trunk contains a farinaceous and glutinous pith that, being soaked, dried, and granulated, becomes the sago of our shops, and has been too frequently and accurately described (by Rumphius in particular, Volume 1 chapters 17 and 18, and by M. Poivre) to need a repetition here.


The nibong (Caryota urens), another species of palm, grows wild in such abundance as not to need cultivation. The stem is tall, slender, and straight, and, being of a hard texture on the outer part, it is much used for posts in building the slight houses of the country, as well as for paling of a stronger kind than the bamboo usually employed. Withinside it is fibrous and soft and, when hollowed out, being of the nature of a pipe, is well adapted to the purpose of gutters or channels to convey water. The cabbage, as it is termed, or pith at the head of the tree (the germ of the foliage) is eaten as a delicacy, and preferred to that of the coconut.


The nipah (Cocos nypa, Lour.) a low species of palm, is chiefly valuable for its leaves, which are much used as thatch for the roofs of houses. The pulpy kernels of the fruit (called buah atap) are preserved as a sweetmeat, but are entirely without flavour.


The paku bindu (Cycas circinalis) has the general appearance of a young, or rather dwarf coconut-tree, and like that and the nibong produces a cabbage that is much esteemed as a culinary vegetable. The tender shoots are likewise eaten. The stem is short and knobby, the lower part of each branch (if branches they may be called) prickly, and the blossom yellow. The term paku, applied to it by the Malays, shows that they consider it as partaking of the nature of the fern (filix) and Rumphius, who names it Sayor calappa and Olus calappoides, describes it as an arborescent species of osmunda. It is well depicted in Volume 1 table 22.


The maize or turkey-corn (Zea mays), called jagong, though very generally sown, is not cultivated in quantities as an article of food, excepting in the Batta country. The ears are plucked whilst green, and, being slightly roasted on the embers, are eaten as a delicacy. Chili or cayenne pepper (capsicum), called improperly lada panjang or long pepper, and also lada merah, red pepper, which, in preference to the common or black pepper, is used in their curries and with almost every article of their food, always finds a place in their irregular and inartificial gardens. To these indeed their attention is very little directed, in consequence of the liberality with which nature, unsolicited, supplies their wants. Turmeric (curcuma) is a root of general use. Of this there are two kinds, the one called kunyit merah, an indispensable ingredient in their curries, pilaws, and sundry dishes; the other, kunyit tummu (a variety with coloured leaves and a black streak running along the midrib) is esteemed a good yellow dye, and is sometimes employed in medicine. Ginger (Amomum zinziber) is planted in small quantities. Of this also there are two kinds, alia jai (Zinziber majus) and alia padas (Zinziber minus), familiarly called se-pade or se-pudde, from a word signifying that pungent acrid taste in spices which we express by the vague term hot. The tummu (Costus arabicus) and lampuyang (Amomum zerumbet) are found both in the wild and cultivated state, being used medicinally; as is also the galangale (Kaempferia galanga). The coriander, called katumbar, and the cardamum, puah lako, grow in abundance. Of the puah (amomum) they reckon many species, the most common of which has very large leaves, resembling those of the plantain and possessing an aromatic flavour not unlike that of the bay tree. The jintan or cumin-seed (cuminum) is sometimes an ingredient in curries. Of the morunggei or kelor (Guilandina moringa L. Hyperanthera moringa Wilden.), a tall shrub with pinnated leaves, the root has the appearance, flavour, and pungency of the horse-radish, and the long pods are dressed as a culinary vegetable; as are also the young shoots of the pringgi (Cucurbita pepo) various sorts of the lapang or cucumber, and of the lobak or radish. The inei or henna of the Arabians (Lawsonia inermis) is a shrub with small light-green leaves, yielding an expressed juice with which the natives tinge the nails of their hands and feet. Ampalas (Delima sarmentosa and Ficus ampelos) is a shrub whose blossom resembles that of our hawthorn in appearance and smell. Its leaf has an extraordinary roughness, on which account it is employed to give the last fine polish to carvings in wood ivory, particularly the handles and sheaths of their krises, on which they bestow much labour. The leaf of the sipit also, a climbing species of fig, having the same quality, is put to the same use. Ganja or hemp (cannabis) is extensively cultivated, not for the purpose of making rope, to which they never apply it, but to make an intoxicating preparation called bang, which they smoke in pipes along with tobacco. In other parts of India a drink is prepared by bruising the blossoms, young leaves, and tender parts of the stalk. Small plantations of tobacco, which the natives call tambaku, are met with in every part of the country. The leaves are cut whilst green into fine shreds, and afterwards dried in the sun. The species is the same as the Virginian, and, were the quantity increased and people more expert in the method of curing it, a manufacture and trade of considerable importance might be established.


The kaluwi is a species of urtica or nettle of which excellent twine called pulas is made. It grows to the height of about four feet, has a stem imperfectly ligneous, without branches. When cut down, dried, and beaten, the rind is stripped off and then twisted as we do the hemp. It affords me great satisfaction to learn that the manufacture of rope from this useful plant has lately attracted the attention of the Company's Government, and that a considerable nursery of the kaluwi has been established in the Botanic Garden at Calcutta, under the zealous and active management of Dr. Roxburgh, who expresses his opinion that so soon as a method shall be discovered of removing a viscid matter found to adhere to the fibres the kaluwi hemp, or pulas, will supersede every other material. The bagu-tree (Gnetum gnemon, L.) abounds on the southern coast of the island, where its bark is beaten, like hemp, and the twine manufactured from it is employed in the construction of large fishing nets. The young leaves of the tree are dressed in curries. In the island of Nias they make a twine of the baru-tree (Hibiscus tiliaceus), which is afterwards woven into a coarse cloth for bags. From the pisang (musa) a kind of sewing-thread is procured by stripping filaments from the midribs of the leaves, as well as from the stem. In some places this thread is worked in the loom. The kratau, a dwarf species of mulberry (morus, foliis profunde incisis) is planted for the food of the silkworms, which they rear, but not to any great extent, and the raw silk produced from them seems of but an indifferent quality. The samples I have seen were white instead of yellow, in large, flat cakes, which would require much trouble to wind off, and the filaments appeared coarse; but this may be partly occasioned by the method of loosening them from the bags, which is by steeping them in hot water. Jarak (ricinus and Palma christi), from whence the castor oil is extracted, grows wild in abundance: especially near the sea-shore. Bijin (Sesamum indicum) is sown extensively in the interior districts for the oil it produces, which is there used for burning in place of the coconut-oil so common near the coast.


In the description of the Urceola elastica, or caout-chouc-vine, of Sumatra and Pulo Pinang, by Dr. W. Roxburgh, in the Asiatic Researches Volume 5 page 167, he says, "For the discovery of this useful vine we are, I believe, indebted to Mr. Howison, late surgeon at Pulo Pinang; but it would appear he had no opportunity of determining its botanical character. To Dr. Charles Campbell of Fort Marlborough we owe the gratification arising from a knowledge thereof. About twelve months ago I received from that gentleman, by means of Mr. Fleming, very complete specimens, in full foliage, flower, and fruit. From these I was enabled to reduce it to its class and order in the Linnean system. It forms new genus immediately after tabernaemontana, and consequently belongs to the class called contortae. One of the qualities of the plants of this order is their yielding, on being cut, a juice which is generally milky, and for the most part deemed of a poisonous nature." Of another plant, producing a similar substance, I received the following information from Mr. Campbell, in a letter dated in November, 1803: "You may remember a trailing plant with a small yellowish flower and a seed vessel of an oblong form, containing one seed; the whole plant resembling much the caout-chouc. To this, finding it wholly nondescript, I have taken the liberty to attach your name. It has no relationship to a genus yielding a similar substance, of which I sent a specimen to Dr. Roxburgh at Bengal, who published an account of it under the name of urceola. It is called jintan by the Malays, and of its three species I have accurately ascertained two, the jintan itam and jintan burong, the latter very rare. Its leaves are of a deep glossy green, and the flowers lightly tinged with a pale yellow; it belongs to the tetrandria, and is a handsome plant--but more of this with the drawing." Unfortunately however neither this drawing nor any part of his valuable collection of materials for improving the natural history of that interesting country, which he bequeathed to me by his will, have yet reached my hands.


Mr. Charles Miller observed in the country near Bencoolen a gum exuding spontaneously from the paty tree, which appeared very much to resemble the gum-arabic; and, as they belong to the same genus of plants, he thought it not improbable that this gum might be used for the same purposes. In the list of new species by F. Norona (Batavian Transactions Volume 5) he gives to the pete of Java the name of Acacia gigantea; which I presume to be the same plant.


Kachang is a term applied to all sorts of pulse, of which a great variety is cultivated; as the kachang china (Dolichos sinensis), kachang putih (Dolichos katjang), k. ka-karah (D. lignosus), k. kechil (Phaseolus radiatus), k. ka-karah gatal (Dolichos pruriens) and many others. The kachang tanah (Arachis hypogaea) is of a different class, being the granulose roots (or, according to some, the self-buried pods) of a herb with a yellow, papilionaceous flower, the leaves of which have some resemblance to the clover, but double only, and, like it, affords rice pasture for cattle. The seeds are always eaten fried or parched, from whence they obtain their common appellation of kachang goring.


The variety of roots of the yam and potato kind, under the general name of ubi, is almost endless; the dioscorea being generally termed ubi kechil (small), and the convolvulus ubi gadang (large); some of which latter, of the sort called at Bencoolen the China-yam, weigh as much as forty pounds, and are distinguished into the white and the purple. The fruit of the trong (melongena), of which the egg-plant is one species, is much eaten by the natives, split and fried. They are commonly known by the name of brinjals, from the beringelhas of the Portuguese.


PLATE 8. Marsdenia tinctoria, OR BROAD-LEAFED INDIGO.
E.W. Marsden delt. Swaine fct.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.


Tarum or indigo (Indigofera tinctoria) being the principal dye-stuff they employ, the shrub is always found in their planted spots; but they do not manufacture it into a solid substance, as is the practice elsewhere. The stalks and branches having lain for some days in water to soak and macerate, they then boil it, and work among it with their hands a small quantity of chunam (quick lime, from shells), with leaves of the paku sabba (a species of fern) for fixing the colour. It is afterwards drained off, and made use of in the liquid state.

There is another kind of indigo, called in Sumatra tarum akar, which appears to be peculiar to that country, and was totally unknown to botanists to whom I showed the leaves upon my return to England in the beginning of the year 1780. The common kind is known to have small pinnated leaves growing on stalks imperfectly ligneous. This, on the contrary, is a vine, or climbing plant, with leaves from three to five inches in length, thin, of a dark green, and in the dried state discoloured with blue stains. It yields the same dye as the former sort; they are prepared also in the same manner, and used indiscriminately, no preference being given to the one above the other, as the natives informed me, excepting inasmuch as the tarum akar, by reason of the largeness of the foliage, yields a greater proportion of sediment. Conceiving it might prove a valuable plant in our colonies, and that it was of importance in the first instance that its identity and class should be accurately ascertained, I procured specimens of its fructification, and deposited them in the rich and extensively useful collection of my friend Sir Joseph Banks. In a paper on the Asclepiadeae, highly interesting to botanical science, communicated by Mr. Robert Brown (who has lately explored the vegetable productions of New Holland and other parts of the East) to the Wernerian Society of Edinburgh, and printed in their Transactions, he has done me the honour of naming the genus to which this plant belongs, MARSDENIA, and this particular species Marsdenia tinctoria.*

(*Footnote. 2. M. caule volubili, foliis cordatis ovato-oblongis acuminatis glabriusculis basi antice glandulosis, thyrsis lateralibus, fauce barbata. Tarram akkar Marsd. Sumat. page 78 edition 2 Hab. In insula Sumatra. (v.s. in Herb. Banks.)


Under the name of kasumba are included two plants yielding materials for dyeing, but very different from each other. The kasumba (simply) or kasumba jawa, as it is sometimes called, is the Carthamus tinctorius, of which the flowers are used to produce a saffron colour, as the name imports. The kasumba kling or galuga is the Bixa orellana, or arnotto of the West Indies. Of this the capsule, about an inch in length, is covered with soft prickles or hair, opens like a bivalve shell, and contains in its cavities a dozen or more seeds, the size of grape-stones, thickly covered with a reddish farina, which is the part that constitutes the dye.

Sapang, the Brazil-wood, (Caesalpinia sappan), whether indigenous or not, is common in the Malayan countries. The heart of this being cut into chips, steeped for a considerable time in water, and then boiled, is used for dying here, as in other countries. The cloth or thread is repeatedly dipped in this liquid, and hung to dry between each wetting till it is brought to the shade required. To fix the colour alum is added in the boiling.

Of the tree called bangkudu in some districts, and in others mangkudu (Morinda umbellata) the outward parts of the root, being dried, pounded, and boiled in water, afford a red dye, for fixing which the ashes procured from the stalks of the fruit and midribs of the leaves of the coconut are employed. Sometimes the bark or wood of the sapang tree is mixed with these roots. It is to be observed that another species of bangkudu, with broader leaves (Morinda citrifolia) does not yield any colouring matter, but is, as I apprehend, the tree commonly planted in the Malayan peninsula and in Pulo Pinang as a support to the pepper-vine.


Ubar is a red-wood resembling the logwood (haematoxylon) of Honduras, and might probably be employed for the same purpose. It is used by the natives in tanning twine for fishing nets, and appears to be the okir or Tanarius major of Rumphius, Volume 3 page 192, and Jambolifera rezinoso of Lour. Fl. C. C. page 231. Their black dye is commonly made from the coats of the mangostin-fruit and of the kataping (Terminalia catappa). With this the blue cloth from the west of India is changed to a black, as usually worn by the Malays of Menangkabau. It is said to be steeped in mud in order to fix the colour.

The roots of the chapada or champadak (Artocarpus integrifolia) cut into chips and boiled in water produce a yellow dye. To strengthen the tint a little turmeric (the kunyit tumma or variety of curcuma already spoken of) is mixed with it, and alum to fix it; but as the yellow does not hold well it is necessary that the operation of steeping and drying should be frequently repeated.




Nature, says a celebrated writer,* seems to have taken a pleasure in assembling in the Malayan countries her most favourite productions; and with truth I think it may be affirmed that no region of the earth can boast an equal abundance and variety of indigenous fruits; for although the whole of those hereafter enumerated cannot be considered as such, yet there is reason to conclude that the greater part may, for the natives, who never appear to bestow the smallest labour in improving or even in cultivating such as they naturally possess, can hardly be suspected of taking the pains to import exotics. The larger number grow wild, and the rest are planted in a careless, irregular manner about their villages.

(*Footnote. Les terres possedees par les Malais, sont en general de tres bonne qualite. La nature semble avoir pris plaisir d'y placer ses plus excellentes productions. On y voit tous les fruits delicieux que j'ai dit se trouver sur le territoire de Siam, et une multitude d'autres fruits agreables qui sont particuliers a ces isles. On y respire un air embaume par une multitude de fleurs agreables qui se succedent toute l'annee, et dont l'odeur suave penetre jusqu'a l'ame, et inspire la volupte la plus seduisante. Il n'est point de voyageur qui en se promenant dans les campagnes de Malacca, ne se sente invite a fixer son sejour dans un lieu si plein d'agremens, dont la nature seule a fait tous les frais. Voyages d'un Philosophe par M. Poivre page 56.)

Engraved by J. Swaine.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.


The mangustin, called by the natives manggis and manggista (Garcinia mangostana, L.) is the pride of these countries, to which it exclusively belongs, and has, by general consent, obtained, in the opinion of Europeans, the pre-eminence amongst Indian fruits. Its characteristic quality is extreme delicacy of flavour, without being rich or luscious. It is a drupe of a brownish-red colour, and the size of a common apple, consisting of a thick rind, somewhat hard on the outside, but soft and succulent within, encompassing kernels which are covered with a juicy and perfectly white pulp, which is the part eaten, or, more properly, sucked, for it dissolves in the mouth. Its qualities are as innocent as they are grateful, and the fruit may be eaten in any moderate quantity without danger of surfeit, or other injurious effects. The returns of its season appeared to be irregular, and the periods short.


The durian (Durio zibethinus) is also peculiar to the Malayan countries. It is a rich fruit but strong and even offensive in taste as well as smell, to those who are not accustomed to it, and of a very heating quality; yet the natives (and others who fall into their habits) are passionately addicted to it, and during the time of its continuing in season live almost wholly upon its luscious and cream-like pulp; whilst the rinds, thrown about in the bazaars, communicate their scent to the surrounding atmosphere. The tree is large and lofty; the leaves are small in proportion, but in themselves long and pointed. The blossoms grow in clusters on the stem and larger branches. The petals are five, of a yellowish-white, surrounding five branches of stamina, each bunch containing about twelve, and each stamen having four antherae. The pointal is knobbed at top. When the stamina and petal fall, the empalement resembles a fungus, and nearly in shape a Scot's bonnet. The fruit is in its general appearance not unlike the bread-fruit, but larger, and its coat is rougher.


The sutun kapas, and sukun biji or kalawi, are two species of the bread-fruit-tree (Artocarpus incisa). The former is the genuine, edible kind, without kernels, and propagated by cuttings of the roots. Though by no means uncommon, it is said not to be properly a native of Sumatra. The kalawi, on the contrary, is in great abundance, and its bark supplies the country people with a sort of cloth for their working dresses. The leaves of both species are deeply indented, like those of the fig, but considerably longer. The bread-fruit is cut in slices, and, being boiled or broiled on the fire, is eaten with sugar, and much esteemed. It cannot however be considered as an article of food, and I suspect that in quality it is inferior to the bread-fruit of the South-Sea Islands.


The Malabaric name of jacca, or the jack-fruit, is applied both to the champadak or chapada (Artocarpus integrifolia, L. and Polyphema jaca, Lour.) and to the nangka (Artocarpus integrifolia, L. and Polyphema champeden, Lour). Of the former the leaves are smooth and pointed; of the latter they are roundish, resembling those of the cashew. This is the more common, less esteemed, and larger fruit, weighing, in some instances, fifty or sixty pounds. Both grow in a peculiar manner from the stem of the tree. The outer coat is rough, containing a number of seeds or kernels (which, when roasted, have the taste of chestnuts) inclosed in a fleshy substance of a rich, and, to strangers, too strong smell and flavour, but which gains upon the palate. When the fruit ripens the natives cover it with mats or the like to preserve it from injury by the birds. Of the viscous juice of this tree they make a kind of bird­lime: the yellow wood is employed for various purposes, and the root yields a dye-stuff.


The mango, called mangga and mampalam (Mangifera indica, L.) is well known to be a rich, high-flavoured fruit of the plumb kind, and is found here in great perfection; but there are many inferior varieties beside the ambachang, or Mangifera foetida, and the tais.


Of the jambu (eugenia, L.) there are several species, among which the jambu merah or kling (Eugenia malaccensis) is the most esteemed for the table, and is also the largest. In shape it has some resemblance to the pear, but is not so taper near the stalk. The outer skin, which is very fine, is tinged with a deep and beautiful red, the inside being perfectly white. Nearly the whole substance is edible, and when properly ripe it is a delicious fruit; but otherwise, it is spongy and indigestible. In smell and even in taste it partakes much of the flavour of the rose; but this quality belongs more especially to another species, called jambu ayer mawar, or the rose-water jambu. Nothing can be more beautiful than the blossoms, the long and numerous stamina of which are of a bright pink colour. The tree grows in a handsome, regular, conical shape, and has large, deep-green, pointed leaves. The jambu ayer (Eugenia aquea) is a delicate and beautiful fruit in appearance, the colour being a mixture of white and pink; but in its flavour, which is a faint, agreeable acid, it does not equal the jambu merah.


Of the pisang, or plantain (Musa paradisiaca, L.) the natives reckon above twenty varieties, including the banana of the West Indies. Among these the pisang amas, or small yellow plantain, is esteemed the most delicate; and next to that the pisang raja, pisang dingen, and pisang kalle.


The nanas, or pineapple (Bromelia ananas), though certainly not indigenous, grows here in great plenty with the most ordinary culture. Some think them inferior to those produced from hothouses in England; but this opinion may be influenced by the smallness of their price, which does not exceed two or three pence. With equal attention it is probable they might be rendered much superior, and their variety is considerable. The natives eat them with salt.


Oranges (limau manis) of many sorts, are in the highest perfection. That called limau japan, or Japan orange, is a fine fruit, not commonly known in Europe. In this the cloves adhere but slightly to each other, and scarcely at all to the rind, which contains an unusual quantity of the essential oil. The limau gadang, or pumple-nose (Citrus aurantium), called in the West Indies the shaddock (from the name of the captain who carried them thither), is here very fine, and distinguished into the white and red sorts. Limes or limau kapas, and lemons, limau kapas panjang, are in abundance. The natives enumerate also the limau langga, limau kambing, limau pipit, limau sindi masam, and limau sindi manis. The true citron, or limau karbau, is not common nor in esteem.


The guava (Psidium pomiferum) called jambu biji, and also jambu protukal (for Portugal, in consequence, as we may presume, of its having been introduced by the people of that country) has a flavour which some admire, and others equally dislike. The pulp of the red sort is sometimes mixed with cream by Europeans, to imitate strawberries, from a fond partiality to the productions of their native soil; and it is not unusual, amidst a profusion of the richest eastern fruits, to sigh for an English codling or gooseberry.


The siri kaya, or custard-apple (Annona squamosa), derives its name from the likeness which its white and rich pulp bears to a custard, and it is accordingly eaten with a spoon. The nona, as it is called by the natives (Annona reticulata), is another species of the same fruit, but not so grateful to the taste.


The kaliki, or papaw (Carica papaja), is a large, substantial, and wholesome fruit, in appearance not unlike a smooth sort of melon, but not very highly flavoured. The pulp is of a reddish yellow, and the seeds, which are about the size of grains of pepper, have a hot taste like cresses. The watermelon, called here samangka (Cucurbita citrullus) is of very fine quality. The rock or musk-melons, are not common.


Tamarinds, called asam jawa, or the Javan acid, are the produce of a large and noble tree, with small pinnated leaves, and supply a grateful relief in fevers, which too frequently require it. The natives preserve them with salt, and use them as an acid ingredient in their curries and other dishes. It may be remarked that in general they are not fond of sweets, and prefer many of their fruits whilst green to the same in their ripe state.

PLATE 4. THE RAMBUTAN, Nephelium lappaceum.
L. Wilkins delt. Engraved by J. Swaine.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.


The rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum, L. Mant.) is in appearance not much unlike the fruit of the arbutus, but larger, of a brighter red, and covered with coarser hair or soft spines, from whence it derives its name. The part eaten is a gelatinous and almost transparent pulp surrounding the kernel, of a rich and pleasant acid.

PLATE 5. THE LANSEH FRUIT, Lansium domesticum.
L. Wilkins delt. Hooker Sc.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

Maria Wilkins delt. Engraved by J. Swaine.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.


The lanseh, likewise but little known to botanists, is a small oval fruit, of a whitish-brown colour, which, being deprived of its thin outer coat, divides into five cloves, of which the kernels are covered with a fleshy pulp, subacid, and agreeable to the taste. The skin contains a clammy juice, extremely bitter, and, if not stripped with care, it is apt to communicate its quality to the pulp. M. Correa de Serra, in les Annales du Museum d'Histoire Naturelle Tome 10 page 157 plate 7, has given a description of the Lansium domesticum from specimens of the fruit preserved in the collection of Sir Joseph Banks. The chupak, ayer-ayer, and rambe are species or varieties of the same fruit.


Of the blimbing (Averrhoa carambola) a pentagonal fruit, containing five flattish seeds, and extremely acid, there are two sorts, called penjuru and besi. The leaves of the latter are small, opposite, and of a sap­green; those of the former grow promiscuously and are of a silver green. There is also the blimbing bulu (Averrhoa billimbi), or smooth species. Their uses are chiefly in cookery, and for purposes where a strong acid is required, as in cleaning the blades of their krises and bringing out the damask, for which they are so much admired. The cheremi (Averrhoa acida) is nearly allied to the blimbing besi, but the fruit is smaller, of an irregular shape, growing in clusters close to the branch, and containing each a single hard seed or stone. It is a common substitute for our acid fruits in tarts.


The kataping (Terminalia catappa, L. and Juglans catappa, Lour.) resembles the almond both in its outer husk and the flavour of its kernel; but instead of separating into two parts, like the almond, it is formed of spiral folds, and is developed somewhat like a rosebud, but continuous, and not in distinct laminae.


The barangan (a species of fagus) resembles the chestnut. The tree is large, and the nuts grow sometimes one, two, and three in a husk. The jerring, a species of mimosa, resembles the same fruit, but is larger and more irregularly shaped than the barangan. The tree is smaller. The tapus (said to be a new genus belonging to the tricoccae) has likewise some analogy, but more distant, to the chestnut. There are likewise three nuts in one husk, forming in shape an oblong spheroid. If eaten unboiled they are said to inebriate. The tree is large.

L. Wilkins delt. Engraved by J. Swaine.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.


The fruit named kamiri, kamiling, and more commonly buah kras, or the hard fruit (Camirium cordifolium, Gaert. and Juglans camirium, Lour.) bears much resemblance to the walnut in the flavour and consistence of the kernel; but the shell is harder and does not open in the same manner. The natives of the hills make use of it as a substitute for the coconut, both in their cookery and for procuring a delicate oil.


The rotan salak (Calamus zalacca, Gaert.) yields a fruit, the pulp of which is sweetish, acidulous, and pleasant. Its outer coat, like those of the other rotans, is covered with scales, or the appearance of nice basket-work. It incloses sometimes one, two, and three kernels, of a peculiar horny substance.


The cashew-apple and nut, called jambu muniet, or monkey-jambu (Anacardium occidentale), are well known for the strong acidity of the former, and the caustic quality of the oil contained in the latter, from tasting which the inexperienced often suffer.


The pomegranate or dalima (Punica granatum) flourishes here, as in all warm climates.


Grape-vines are planted with success by Europeans for their tables, but not cultivated by the people of the country. There is found in the woods a species of wild grape, called pringat (Vitis indica); and also a strawberry, the blossom of which is yellow, and the fruit has little flavour. Beside these there are many other, for the most part wild, fruits, of which some boast a fine flavour, and others are little superior to our common berries, but might be improved by culture. Such are the buah kandis, a variety of garcinia (it should be observed that buah, signifying fruit, is always prefixed to the particular name), buah malaka (Phyllanthus emblica), rukam (Carissa spinarum), bangkudu or mangkudu (Morinda citrifolia), sikaduduk (melastoma), kitapan (Callicarpa japonica).


"You breathe in the country of the Malays (says the writer before quoted) an air impregnated with the odours of innumerable flowers of the greatest fragrance, of which there is a perpetual succession throughout the year, the sweet flavour of which captivates the soul, and inspires the most voluptuous sensations." Although this luxurious picture may be drawn in too-warm tints it is not however without its degree of justness. The people of the country are fond of flowers in the ornament of their persons, and encourage their growth, as well as that of various odoriferous shrubs and trees.


The kananga (Uvaria cananga, L.) being a tree of the largest size, surpassed by few in the forest, may well take the lead, on that account, in a description of those which bear flowers. These are of a greenish yellow, scarcely distinguishable from the leaves, among which the bunches hang down in a peculiar manner. About sunset, if the evening be calm, they diffuse a fragrance around that affects the sense at the distance of some hundred yards.


Champaka (Michelia champaca). This tree grows in a regular, conical shape, and is ornamental in gardens. The flowers are a kind of small tulip, but close and pointed at top; their colour a deep yellow, the scent strong, and at a distance agreeable. They are wrapped in the folds of the hair, both by the women, and by young men who aim at gallantry.


Bunga tanjong (Mimusops elengi, L.) A fair tree, rich in foliage, of a dark green; the flowers small, radiated, of a yellowish white, and worn in wreaths by the women; their scent, though exquisite at a distance, is too powerful when brought nigh. The fruit is a drupe, containing a large blackish flatted seed.


Sangklapa (Gardenia flore simplice). A handsome shrub with leaves of very deep green, long-pointed; the flowers a pure white, without visible stamina or pistil, the petals standing angularly to each other. It has little or no scent. The pachah-piring (Gardenia florida, described by Rumphius under the name of catsjopiri) is a grand white double flower, emitting a pleasing and not powerful odour.


The bunga raya (Hibiscus rosa sinensis) is a well-known shrub, with leaves of a yellowish green, serrated and curled. Of one sort the flower is red, yielding a juice of deep purple, and when applied to leather produces a bright black, from whence its vulgar name of the shoe-flower. Of another sort the blossom is white. They are without smell.


Bunga or kumbang kamboja (Plumeria obtusa) is likewise named bunga kubur-an, from its being always planted about graves. The flower is large, white, yellow towards the centre, consisting of five simple, smooth, thick petals, without visible pistil or stamina, and yielding a strong scent. The leaf of the tree is long, pointed, of a deep green, remarkable in this, that round the fibres proceeding from the midrib run another set near the edge, forming a handsome border. The tree grows in a stunted, irregular manner, and even whilst young has a venerable antique appearance.


The bunga malati and bunga malur (Nyctanthes sambac) are different names for the same humble plant, called mugri in Bengal. It bears a pretty white flower, diffusing a more exquisite fragrance, in the opinion of most persons, than any other of which the country boasts. It is much worn by the females; sometimes in wreaths, and various combinations, along with the bunga tanjong, and frequently the unblown buds are strung in imitation of rows of pearls. It should be remarked that the appellative bunga, or flower, (pronounced bungo in the south-western parts of Sumatra), is almost ever prefixed to the proper name, as buah is to fruits. There is also the malati china (Nyctanthes multiflora); the elegant bunga malati susun (Nyctanthes acuminata).


And the celebrated bunga tonking (Pergularia odoratissima), whose fascinating sweets have been widely dispersed in England by the successful culture and liberal participation of Sir Joseph Banks. At Madras it obtained the appellation of West-coast, i.e. Sumatran, creeper, which marks the quarter from whence it was obtained. At Bencoolen the same appellation is familiarly applied to the bunga tali-tali (Ipomoea quamoclit), a beautiful, little, monopetalous flower, divided into five angular segments, and closing at sunset. From its bright crimson colour it received from Rumphius the name of Flos cardinalis. The plant is a luxuriant creeper, with a hairlike leaf.

Pavetta indica, ETC.

The angsuka, or bunga jarum-jarum (Pavetta indica), obtained from Rumphius, on account of the glowing red colour of its long calices, the name of flamma sylvarum peregrina. The bunga marak (Poinciana pulcherrima) is a most splendid flower, the colours being a mixture of yellow and scarlet, and its form being supposed to resemble the crest of the peacock, from whence its Malayan name, which Rumphius translated. The nagasari (Calophyllum nagassari) bears a much admired blossom, well known in Bengal; but in the upper parts of India, called nagakeh­sir, and in the Batavian Transactions Acacia aurea. The bakong, or salandap (Crinum asiaticum), is a plant of the lily kind, with six large, white, turbinated petals of an agreeable scent. It grows wild near the beach amongst those plants which bind the loose sands. Another and beautiful species of the bakong has a deep shade of purple mixed with the white. The kachubong (Datura metel) appears also to flourish mostly by the seaside. It bears a white infundibuliform flower, rather pentagonal than round, with a small hook at each angle. The leaves are dark green, pointed, broad and unequal at the bottom. The fruit is shaped like an apple, very prickly, and full of small seeds. Sundal malam or harlot of the night (Polyanthes tuberosa) is so termed from the circumstance of its diffusing its sweet odours at that season. It is the tuberose of our gardens, but growing with great vigour and luxuriance. The bunga mawur (Rosa semperflorens, Curtis, Number 284), is small and of a deep crimson colour. Its scent is delicate and by no means so rich as that yielded by the roses of our climate. The Amaranthus cristatus (Celosia castrensis, L.) is probably a native, being found commonly in the interior of the Batta country, where strangers have rarely penetrated. The various species of this genus are called by the general name of bayam, of which some are edible, as before observed.


Of the pandan (pandanus), a shrub with very long prickly leaves, like those of the pineapple or aloe, there are many varieties, of which some are highly fragrant, particularly the pandan wangi (Pandanus odoratissima, L.), which produces a brownish white spath or blossom, one or two feet in length. This the natives shred fine and wear about their persons. The pandan pudak, or keura of Thunberg, which is also fragrant, I have reason to believe the same as the wangi. The common sort is employed for hedging and called caldera by Europeans in many parts of India. In the Nicobar islands it is cultivated and yields a fruit called the melori, which is one of the principle articles of food.


Bunga anggrek (epidendrum). The species or varieties of this remarkable tribe of parasitical plants are very numerous, and may be said to exhibit a variety of loveliness. Kaempfer describes two kinds by the names of angurek warna and katong'ging; the first of which I apprehend to be the anggrek bunga putri (Angraecum scriptum, R.) and the other the anggrek kasturi (Angraecum moschatum, R.) or scorpion-flower, from its resembling that insect, as the former does the butterfly. The musky scent resides at the extremity of the tail.*

(*Footnote. Habetur haec planta apud Javanos in deliciis et magno studio colitur; tum ob floris eximium odorem, quem spirat, moschi, tum ob singularem elegantiam et figuram scorpionis, quam exhibet...spectaculo sane jocundissimo, ut negem quicquam elegantius et admiratione dignius in regno vegetabili me vidisse...Odorem flos moschi exquisitissimum atque adeo copiosum spargit, ut unicus stylus floridus totum conclave impleat. Qui vero odor, quod maxi me mireris, in extrema parte petali caudam referentis, residet; qua abicissa, omnis cessat odoris expiratio. Amoen exoticae, page 868.)


The bunga tarati or seruja (Nymphaea nelumbo) as well as several other beautiful kinds of aquatic plants are found upon the inland waters of this country. Daun gundi or tabung bru (Nepenthes destillatoria) can scarcely be termed a flower, but is a very extraordinary climbing plant. From the extremity of the leaf a prolongation of the mid-rib, resembling the tendril of a vine, terminates in a membrane formed like a tankard with the lid or valve half opened; and growing always nearly erect, it is commonly half full of pure water from the rain or dews. This monkey-cup (as the Malayan name implies) is about four or five inches long and an inch in diameter. Giring landak (Crotalaria retusa) is a papilionaceous flower resembling the lupin, yellow, and tinged at the extremities with red. From the rattling of its seed in the pod it obtains its name, which signifies porcupine-bells, alluding to the small bells worn about the ankles of children. The daup (bauhinia) is a small, white, semiflosculous flower, with a faint smell. The leaves alone attract notice, being double, as if united by a hinge, and this peculiarity suggested the Linnean name, which was given in compliment to two brothers of the name of Bauhin, celebrated botanists, who always worked conjointly.

To the foregoing list, in every respect imperfect, many interesting plants might be added by an attentive and qualified observer. The natives themselves have a degree of botanical knowledge that surprises Europeans. They are in general, and at a very early age, acquainted not only with the names, but the properties of every shrub and herb amongst that exuberant variety with which the island is clothed. They distinguish the sexes of many plants and trees, and divide several of the genera into as many species as our professors. Of the paku or fern I have had specimens brought to me of twelve sorts, which they told me were not the whole, and to each they gave a distinct name.


Some of the shrubs and herbs employed medicinally are as follows. Scarcely any of them are cultivated, being culled from the woods or plains as they happen to be wanted.

Lagundi (Vitex trifolia, L.) The botanic characters of this shrub are well known. The leaves, which are bitter and pungent rather than aromatic, are considered as a powerful antiseptic, and are employed in fevers in the place of Peruvian bark. They are also put into granaries and among cargoes of rice to prevent the destruction of the grain by weevils.

Katupong resembles the nettle in growth, in fruit the blackberry. I have not been able to identify it. The leaf, being chewed, is used in dressing small fresh wounds.

Siup, a kind of wild fig, is applied to the scurf or leprosy of the Nias people, when not inveterate.

Sikaduduk (melastoma) has the appearance of a wild rose. A decoction of its leaves is used for the cure of a disorder in the sole of the foot, called maltus, resembling the impetigo or ringworm.

Ampadu-bruang or bear's gall (brucea, foliis serratis) is the lussa raja of Rumphius, excessively bitter, and applied in infusion for the relief of disorders in the bowels.

Kabu (unknown). Of this the bark and root are used for curing the kudis or itch, by rubbing it on the part affected.

Marampuyan (a new genus). The young shoots of this, being supposed to have a refreshing and corroborating quality, are rubbed over the body and limbs after violent fatigue.

Mali-mali (unknown). The leaf of this plant, which bears a white umbellated blossom, is applied to reduce swellings.

Chapo (Conyza balsamifera) resembles the sage (salvia) in colour, smell, taste, and qualities, but grows to the height of six feet, has a long jagged leaf, and its blossom resembles that of groundsel.

Murribungan (unknown). The leaves of this climber are broad, roundish, and smooth. The juice of its stalk is applied to heal excoriations of the tongue.

Ampi-ampi (unknown). A climbing plant with leaves resembling the box, and a small flosculous blossom. It is used as a medicine in fevers.

Kadu (species of piper), with a leaf in shape and taste resembling the betel. It is burned to preserve children newly born from the influence of evil spirits.

Gumbai (unknown). A shrub with monopetalous, stillated, purple flowers, growing in tufts. The leaves are used in disorders of the bowels.

Tabulan bukan (unknown). A shrub bearing a semiflosculous blossom, applied to the cure of sore eyes.

Kachang prang (Dolichos ensiformis). The pods of this are of a huge size, and the beans, of a fine crimson colour, are used in diseases of the pleura.

Sipit, a species of fig, with a large oval leaf, rough to the touch, and rigid. An infusion of it is swallowed in iliac affections.

Daun se-dingin (Cotyledon laciniata). This leaf, as the name denotes, is of a remarkably cold quality. It is applied to the forehead to cure the headache, and sometimes to the body in fevers.

Long pepper (Piper longum) is used medicinally.

Turmeric, also, mixed with rice reduced to powder and then formed into a paste, is much used outwardly in cases of colds and pains in the bones; and chunam or quick-lime is likewise commonly rubbed on parts of the body affected with pain.

In the cure of the kura or boss (from the Portuguese word baco), which is an obstruction of the spleen, forming a hard lump in the upper part of the abdomen, a decoction of the following plants is externally applied: sipit tunggul; madang tandok (a new genus, highly aromatic); ati ayer (species of arum ?) tapa besi; paku tiong (a most beautiful fern, with leaves like a palm; genus not ascertained); tapa badak (a variety of callicarpa); laban (Vitex altissima); pisang ruko (species of musa); and paku lamiding (species of polypodium ?); together with a juice extracted from the akar malabatei (unknown).

In the cure of the kurap, tetter or ringworm, they apply the daun galinggan (Cassia quadri-alata) a herbaceous shrub with large pinnated leaves and a yellow blossom. In the more inveterate cases, barangan (coloured arsenic, or orpiment), a strong poison, is rubbed in.

The milky exsudation from the sudu-sudu (Euphorbia neriifolia) is valued highly by the natives for medicinal purposes. Its leaves eaten by sheep or goats occasion present death.


On the subject of the puhn upas or poison tree (Arbor toxicaria, R.), of whose properties so extraordinary an account was published in the London Magazine for September 1785 by Mr. N.P. Foersch, a surgeon in the service of the Dutch East India Company, at that time in England, I shall quote the observations of the late ingenious Mr. Charles Campbell, of the medical establishment at Fort Marlborough. "On my travels in the country at the back of Bencoolen I found the upas tree, about which so many ridiculous tales have been told. Some seeds must by this time have arrived in London in a packet I forwarded to Mr. Aiton at Kew. The poison is certainly deleterious, but not in so terrific a degree as has been represented. Some of it in an inspissated state you will receive by an early opportunity. As to the tree itself, it does no manner of injury to those around it. I have sat under its shade, and seen birds alight upon its branches; and as to the story of grass not growing beneath it, everyone who has been in a forest must know that grass is not found in such situations." For further particulars respecting this poison-tree, which has excited so much interest, the reader is referred to Sir George Staunton's Account of Lord Macartney's Embassy Volume 1 page 272; to Pennant's Outlines of the Globe Volume 4 page 42, where he will find a copy of Foersch's original narrative; and to a Dissertation by Professor C.P. Thunberg upon the Arbor toxicaria Macassariensis, in the Mem. of the Upsal Acad. for 1788. The information given by Rumphius upon the subject of the Ipo or Upas, in his Herb. Amboin. Volume 2 page 263, will also be perused with satisfaction.* It is evident that some of the exaggerated stories related to him by the people of Celebes (the plant not being indigenous at Amboina) suggested to Mr. Foersch, the fables with which he amused the world.

(*Footnote. Since the above was written I have seen the Dissertation sur les Effets d'un Poison de Java, appele Upas tieute, etc.; presentee a la Faculte de Medicine de Paris le 6 Juillet 1809, par M. Alire Raffeneau-Delile, in which he details a set of curious and interesting experiments on this very active poison, made with specimens brought from Java by M. Leschenault; and also a second dissertation, in manuscript (presented to the Royal Society), upon the effects of similar experiments made with what he terms the upas antiar. The former he states to be a decoction or extract from the bark of the roots of a climbing plant of the genus strychnos, called tieute by the natives of Java; and the latter to be a milky, bitter, and yellowish juice, running from an incision in the bark of a large tree (new genus) called antiar; the word upas meaning, as M. Leschenault understands, vegetable poison of any kind. A small branch of the puhn upas, with some of the poisonous gum, was brought to England in 1806 by Dr. Roxburgh, who informed Mr. Lambert that a plant of it which he had procured from Sumatra was growing rapidly in the Company's Botanic Garden at Calcutta. A specimen of the gum, by the favour of the latter gentleman, is in my possession.)




The animal kingdom claims attention, but, the quadrupeds of the island being in general the same as are found elsewhere throughout the East, already well described, I shall do little more than furnish a list of those which have occurred to my notice; adding a few observations on such as may appear to require them.


The karbau, or buffalo, constituting a principal part of the food of the natives, and, being the only animal employed in their domestic labours, it is proper that I should enter into some detail of its qualities and uses; although it may be found not to differ materially from the buffalo of Italy, and to be the same with that of Bengal. The individuals of the species, as is the case with other domesticated cattle, differ extremely from each other in their degree of perfection, and a judgment is not to be formed of the superior kinds, from such as are usually furnished as provision to the ships from Europe. They are distinguished into two sorts; the black and the white. Both are equally employed in work, but the latter is seldom killed for food, being considered much inferior in quality, and by many as unwholesome, occasioning the body to break out in blotches. If such be really the effect, it may be presumed that the light flesh-colour is itself the consequence of some original disorder, as in the case of those of the human species who are termed white negroes. The hair upon this sort is extremely thin, scarcely serving to cover the hide; nor have the black buffaloes a coat like the cattle of England. The legs are shorter than those of the ox, the hoofs larger, and the horns are quite peculiar, being rather square or flat than round, excepting near the extremities; and whether pointing backward, as in general, or forwards, as they often do, are always in the plane of the forehead, and not at an angle, as those of the cow-kind. They contain much solid substance, and are valuable in manufacture. The tail hangs down to the middle joint of the leg only, is small, and terminates in a bunch of hair. The neck is thick and muscular, nearly round, but somewhat flatted at top, and has little or no dewlap dependant from it. The organ of generation in the male has an appearance as if the extremity were cut off. It is not a salacious animal. The female goes nine months with calf, which it suckles during six, from four teats. When crossing a river it exhibits the singular sight of carrying its young one on its back. It has a weak cry, in a sharp tone, very unlike the lowing of oxen. The most part of the milk and butter required for the Europeans (the natives not using either) is supplied by the buffalo, and its milk is richer than that of the cow, but not yielded in equal quantity. What these latter produce is also very small compared with the dairies of Europe. At Batavia, likewise, we are told that their cows are small and lean, from the scantiness of good pasture, and do not give more than about an English quart of milk, sixteen of which are required to make a pound of butter.

The inland people, where the country is tolerably practicable, avail themselves of the strength of this animal to draw timber felled in the woods: the Malays and other people on the coast train them to the draft, and in many places to the plough. Though apparently of a dull, obstinate, capricious nature, they acquire from habit a surprising docility, and are taught to lift the shafts of the cart with their horns, and to place the yoke, which is a curved piece of wood attached to the shafts, across their necks; needing no further harness than a breast-band, and a string that is made to pass through the cartilage of the nostrils. They are also, for the service of Europeans, trained to carry burdens suspended from each side of a packsaddle, in roads, or rather paths, where carriages cannot be employed. It is extremely slow, but steady in its work. The labour it performs, however, falls short of what might be expected from its size and apparent strength, any extraordinary fatigue, particularly during the heat of the day, being sufficient to put a period to its life, which is at all times precarious. The owners frequently experience the loss of large herds, in a short space of time, by an epidemic distemper, called bandung (obstruction), that seizes them suddenly, swells their bodies, and occasions, as it is said, the serum of the blood to distil through the tubes of the hairs.

The luxury of the buffalo consists in rolling itself in a muddy pool, which it forms, in any spot, for its convenience, during the rainy season. This it enjoys in a high degree, dexterously throwing with its horn the water and slime, when not of a sufficient depth to cover it, over its back and sides. Their blood is perhaps of a hot temperature, which may render this indulgence, found to be quite necessary to their health, so desirable to their feelings; and the mud, at the same time, forming a crust upon their bodies, preserves them from the attack of insects, which otherwise prove very troublesome. Their owners light fires for them in the evening, in order that the smoke may have the same effect, and they have the instinctive sagacity to lay themselves down to leeward, that they may enjoy its full benefit.

Although common in every part of the country, they are not understood to exist in the proper wild or indigenous state, those found in the woods being termed karbau jalang, or stray buffaloes, and considered as the subject of property; or if originally wild, they may afterwards, from their use in labour and food, have been all caught and appropriated by degrees. They are gregarious, and usually found in large numbers together, but sometimes met with singly, when they are more dangerous to passengers. Like the turkey and some other animals they have an antipathy to a red colour, and are excited by it to mischief. When in a state of liberty they run with great swiftness, keeping pace with the speed of an ordinary horse. Upon an attack or alarm they fly to a short distance, and then suddenly face about and draw up in battle-array with surprising quickness and regularity; their horns being laid back, and their muzzles projecting. Upon the nearer approach of the danger that presses on them they make a second flight, and a second time halt and form; and this excellent mode of retreat, which but few nations of the human race have attained to such a degree of discipline as to adopt, they continue till they gain the fastnesses of a neighbouring wood. Their principal foe, next to man, is the tiger; but only the weaker sort, and the females fall a certain prey to this ravager, as the sturdy male buffalo can support the first vigorous stroke from the tiger's paw, on which the fate of the battle usually turns.


The cow, called sapi (in another dialect sampi) and jawi, is obviously a stranger to the country, and does not appear to be yet naturalized. The bull is commonly of what is termed the Madagascar breed, with a large hump upon the shoulders, but from the general small size of the herds I apprehend that it degenerates, from the want of good pasture, the spontaneous production of the soil being too rank.


The horse, kuda: the breed is small, well made, and hardy. The country people bring them down in numbers for sale in nearly a wild state; chiefly from the northward. In the Batta country they are eaten as food; which is a custom also amongst the people of Celebes.


Sheep, biri-biri and domba: small breed, introduced probably from Bengal.

W. Bell delt. A. Cardon sc.

W. Bell delt.

Goat, kambing: beside the domestic species, which is in general small and of a light brown colour, there is the kambing utan, or wild goat. One which I examined was three feet in height, and four in the length of the body. It had something of the gazelle in its appearance, and, with the exception of the horns, which were about six inches long and turned back with an arch, it did not much resemble the common goat. The hinder parts were shaped like those of a bear, the rump sloping round off from the back; the tail was very small, and ended in a point; the legs clumsy; the hair along the ridge of the back rising coarse and strong, almost like bristles; no beard; over the shoulder was a large spreading tuft of greyish hair; the rest of the hair black throughout; the scrotum globular. Its disposition seemed wild and fierce, and it is said by the natives to be remarkably swift.

Hog, babi: that breed we call Chinese.

The wild hog, babi utan.

Dog, anjing: those brought from Europe lose in a few years their distinctive qualities, and degenerate at length into the cur with erect ears, kuyu, vulgarly called the pariah dog. An instance did not occur of any one going mad during the period of my residence. Many of them are affected with a kind of gonorrhoea.

PLATE 11. n.1. THE ANJING-AYER, Mustela lutra.
W. Bell delt. A. Cardon fc.

Sinensis delt. A. Cardon fc.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

Otter, anjing ayer (Mustela lutra).

Cat, kuching: these in every respect resemble our common domestic cat, excepting that the tails of all are more or less imperfect, with a knob or hardness at the end, as if they had been cut or twisted off. In some the tail is not more than a few inches in length, whilst in others it is so nearly perfect that the defect can be ascertained only by the touch.

Rat, tikus: of the grey kind.

Mouse, tikus kechil.


Elephant, gajah: these huge animals abound in the woods, and from their gregarious habits usually traversing the country in large troops together, prove highly destructive to the plantations of the inhabitants, obliterating the traces of cultivation by merely walking through the grounds; but they are also fond of the produce of their gardens, particularly of plantain-trees and the sugar-cane, which they devour with eagerness. This indulgence of appetite often proves fatal to them, for the owners, knowing their attachment to these vegetables, have a practice of poisoning some part of the plantation, by splitting the canes and putting yellow arsenic into the clefts which the animal unwarily eats of, and dies. Not being by nature carnivorous, the elephants are not fierce, and seldom attack a man but when fired at or otherwise provoked. Excepting a few kept for state by the king of Achin, they are not tamed in any part of the island.


The rhinoceros, badak, both that with a single horn and the double-horned species, are natives of these woods. The latter has been particularly described by the late ingenious Mr. John Bell (one of the pupils of Mr. John Hunter) in a paper printed in Volume 83 of the Philosophical Transactions for 1793. The horn is esteemed an antidote against poison, and on that account formed into drinking cups. I do not know anything to warrant the stories told of the mutual antipathy and the desperate encounters of these two enormous beasts.


Hippopotamus, kuda ayer: the existence of this quadruped in the island of Sumatra having been questioned by M. Cuvier, and not having myself actually seen it, I think it necessary to state that the immediate authority upon which I included it in the list of animals found there was a drawing made by Mr. Whalfeldt, an officer employed on a survey of the coast, who had met with it at the mouth of one of the southern rivers, and transmitted the sketch along with his report to the government, of which I was then secretary. Of its general resemblance to that well-known animal there could be no doubt. M. Cuvier suspects that I may have mistaken for it the animal called by naturalists the dugong, and vulgarly the sea-cow, which will be hereafter mentioned; and it would indeed be a grievous error to mistake for a beast with four legs, a fish with two pectoral fins serving the purposes of feet; but, independently of the authority I have stated, the kuda ayer, or river-horse, is familiarly known to the natives, as is also the duyong (from which Malayan word the dugong of naturalists has been corrupted); and I have only to add that, in a register given by the Philosophical Society of Batavia in the first Volume of their Transactions for 1799, appears the article "couda aijeer, rivier paard, hippopotamus" amongst the animals of Java.


Bear, bruang: generally small and black: climbs the coconut-trees in order to devour the tender part or cabbage.

Sinensis delt. A. Cardon fc.

PLATE 12a. n.2. THE KIJANG OR ROE, Cervus muntjak.
W. Bell delt. A. Cardon sc.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

Of the deer kind there are several species: rusa, the stag, of which some are very large; kijang, the roe, with unbranched horns, the emblem of swiftness and wildness with the Malayan poets; palandok, napu, and kanchil, three varieties, of which the last is the smallest, of that most delicate animal, termed by Buffon the chevrotin, but which belong to the moschus. Of a kanchil measured at Batavia the extreme length was sixteen inches, and the height ten behind, and eight at the shoulder.

Babi-rusa, or hog-deer: an animal of the hog kind, with peculiar tusks resembling horns. Of this there is a representation in Valentyn, Volume 3 page 268 fig. c., and also in the very early travels of Cosmas, published in Thevenot's Collect. Volume 1 page 2 of the Greek Text.

The varieties of the monkey tribe are innumerable: among them the best known are the muniet, karra, bru, siamang (or simia gibbon of Buffon), and lutong. With respect to the appellation of orang utan, or wild man, it is by no means specific, but applied to any of these animals of a large size that occasionally walks erect, and bears the most resemblance to the human figure.

Sloth, ku-kang, ka-malas-an (Lemur tardigradus).

Squirrel, tupei; usually small and dark-coloured.

Teleggo, stinkard.


Tiger, arimau, machang: this beast is here of a very large size, and proves a destructive foe to man as well as to most other animals. The heads being frequently brought in to receive the reward given by the East India Company for killing them, I had an opportunity of measuring one, which was eighteen inches across the forehead. Many circumstances respecting their ravages, and the modes of destroying them, will occur in the course of the work.

Tiger-cat, kuching-rimau (said to feed on vegetables as well as flesh).

Civet-cat, tanggalong (Viverra civetta): the natives take the civet, as they require it for use, from a peculiar receptacle under the tail of the animal. It appears from the Ayin Akbari (Volume 1 page 103) that the civet used at Delhi was imported from Achin.

W. Bell delt. A. Cardon fc.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

Polecat, musang (Viverra fossa, or a new species).

PLATE 13. n.1. THE LANDAK, Hystrix longicauda.
Sinensis delt. A. Cardon fc.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

Porcupine (Hystrix longicauda) landak, and, for distinction, babi landak.

Hedgehog (erinaceus) landak.

W. Bell delt. A. Cardon fct.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.


Peng-goling, signifying the animal which rolls itself up; or pangolin of Buffon: this is distinguished into the peng-goling rambut, or hairy sort (myrmophaga), and the peng-goling sisik, or scaly sort, called more properly tanggiling (species of manis); the scales of this are esteemed by the natives for their medicinal properties. See Asiatic Researches Volume 1 page 376 and Volume 2 page 353.

Sinensis delt. N. Cardon fct.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.


Of the bat kind there is an extraordinary variety: the churi-churi is the smallest species, called vulgarly burong tikus, or the mouse-bird; next to these is the kalalawar; then the kalambit; and the kaluwang (noctilio) is of considerable size; of these I have observed very large flights occasionally passing at a great height in the air, as if migrating from one country to another, and Captain Forrest notices their crossing the Straits of Sunda from Java Head to Mount Pugong; they are also seen hanging by hundreds upon trees. The flying-foxes and flying-squirrels (Lemur volans), which by means of a membrane extending from what may be termed the forelegs to those behind, are enabled to take short flights, are also not uncommon.


Alligators, buaya (Crocodilus biporcatus of Cuvier), abound in most of the rivers, grow to a large Size, and do much mischief.

The guana, or iguana, biawak (Lacerta iguana) is another animal of the lizard kind, about three or four feet in length, harmless, excepting to the poultry and young domestic cattle, and sometimes itself eaten as food. The bingkarong is next in size, has hard, dark scales on the back, and is often found under heaps of decayed timber; its bite venomous.

The koke, goke, or toke, as it is variously called, is a lizard, about ten or twelve inches long, frequenting old buildings, and making a very singular noise. Between this and the small house-lizard (chichak) are many gradations in size, chiefly of the grass-lizard kind, which is smooth and glossy. The former are in length from about four inches down to an inch or less, and are the largest reptiles that can walk in an inverted situation: one of these, of size sufficient to devour a cockroach, runs on the ceiling of a room, and in that situation seizes its prey with the utmost facility. This they seem to be enabled to do from the rugose structure of their feet, with which they adhere strongly to the smoothest surface. Sometimes however, on springing too eagerly at a fly, they lose their hold, and drop to the floor, on which occasions a circumstance occurs not undeserving of notice. The tail being frequently separated from the body by the shock (as it may be at any of the vertebrae by the slightest force, without loss of blood or evident pain to the animal, and sometimes, as it would seem, from the effect of fear alone) within a little time, like the mutilated claw of a lobster, begins to renew itself. They are produced from eggs about the size of the wren's, of which the female carries two at a time, one in the lower, and one in the upper part of the abdomen, on opposite sides; they are always cold to the touch, and yet the transparency of their bodies gives an opportunity of observing that their fluids have as brisk a circulation as those of warm-blooded animals: in none have I seen the peristaltic motion so obvious as in these. It may not be useless to mention that these phenomena were best observed at night when the lizard was on the outside of a pane of glass, with a candle on the inside. There is, I believe, no class of living creatures in which the gradations can be traced with such minuteness and regularity as in this; where, from the small animal just described, to the huge alligator or crocodile, a chain may be traced containing almost innumerable links, of which the remotest have a striking resemblance to each other, and seem, at first view, to differ only in bulk.


The chameleon, gruning: these are about a foot and half long, including the tail; the colour, green with brown spots, as I had it preserved; when alive in the woods they are generally green, but not from the reflection of the leaves, as some have supposed. When first caught they usually turn brown, apparently the effect of fear or anger, as men become pale or red; but if undisturbed soon resume a deep green on the back, and a yellow green on the belly, the tail remaining brown. Along the spine, from the head to the middle of the back, little membranes stand up like the teeth of a saw. As others of the genus of lacerta they feed on flies and grasshoppers, which the large size of their mouths and peculiar structure of their bony tongues are well adapted for catching.

PLATE 14a. n.2. THE KUBIN, Draco volans.
Sinensis delt. A. Cardon sc.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

The flying lizard, kubin, or chachak terbang (Draco volans), is about eight inches in its extreme length, and the membranes which constitute the wings are about two or three inches in extent. These do not connect with the fore and hind legs, as in the bat tribe, but are supported by an elongation of the alternate ribs, as pointed out by my friend Mr. Everard Home. They have flapped ears, and a singular kind of pouch or alphorges, under the jaws. In other respects they much resemble the chameleon in appearance. They do not take distant flights, but merely from tree to tree, or from one bough to another. The natives take them by springs fastened to the stems.


With animals of the frog kind (kodok) the swamps everywhere teem; and their noise upon the approach of rain is tremendous. They furnish prey to the snakes, which are found here of all sizes and in great variety of species; the larger proportion harmless, but of some, and those generally small and dark-coloured, the bite is mortal. If the cobra capelo, or hooded snake, be a native of the island, as some assert, it must be extremely rare. The largest of the boa kind (ular sauh) that I had an opportunity of observing was no more than twelve feet long. This was killed in a hen-house where it was devouring the poultry. It is very surprising, but not less true, that snakes will swallow animals of twice or three times their own apparent circumference; having in their jaws or throat a compressive force that gradually and by great efforts reduces the prey to a convenient dimension. I have seen a small snake (ular sini) with the hinder legs of a frog sticking out of its mouth, each of them nearly equal to the smaller parts of its own body, which in the thickest did not exceed a man's little finger. The stories told of their swallowing deer, and even buffaloes, in Ceylon and Java, almost choke belief, but I cannot take upon me to pronounce them false; for if a snake of three inches diameter can gorge a fowl of six, one of thirty feet in length and proportionate bulk and strength might well be supposed capable of swallowing a beast of the size of a goat; and I have respectable authority for the fact that the fawn of a kijang or roe was cut out of the body of a very large snake killed at one of the southern settlements. The poisonous kinds are distinguished by the epithet of ular bisa, among which is the biludak or viper. The ular garang, or sea-snake, is coated entirely with scales, both on the belly and tail, not differing from those on the back, which are small and hexagonal; the colour is grey, with here and there shades of brown. The head and about one-third of the body from thence is the smallest part, and it increases in bulk towards the tail, which resembles that of the eel. It has not any dog-fangs.


The tortoise, kura-kura, and turtle, katong, are both found in these seas; the former valuable for its scales, and the latter as food; the land­tortoise (Testudo graeca) is brought from the Seychelles Islands.

There is also an extensive variety of shellfish. The crayfish, udang laut (Cancer homarus or ecrevisse-de-mer), is as large as the lobster, but wants its biting claws. The small freshwater crayfish, the prawns and shrimps (all named udang, with distinctive epithets), are in great perfection.

The crab, kapiting and katam (cancer), is not equally fine, but exhibits many extraordinary varieties.

The kima, or gigantic cockle (chama), has been already mentioned.

The oysters, tiram, are by no means so good as those of Europe. The smaller kind are generally found adhering to the roots of the mangrove, in the wash of the tide.

The mussel, kupang (mytilus), rimis (donax), kapang (Teredo navalis), sea­egg, bulu babi (echinus), bia papeda (nautilus), ruma gorita (argonauta), bia unam (murex), bia balang (cuprea), and many others may be added to the list. The beauty of the madrepores and corallines, of which the finest specimens are found in the recesses of the Bay of Tappanuli, is not to be surpassed in any country. Of these a superb collection is in the possession of Mr. John Griffiths, who has given, in Volume 96 of the Philosophical Transactions, the Description of a rare species of Worm-Shells, discovered at an island lying off the North-west coast of Sumatra. In the same volume is also a Paper by Mr. Everard Home, containing Observations on the Shell of the Sea Worm found on the Coast of Sumatra, proving it to belong to a species of Teredo; with an Account of the Anatomy of the Teredo navalis. The former he proposes to call the Teredo gigantea. The sea-grass, or ladang laut, concerning which Sir James Lancaster tells some wonderful stories, partakes of the nature of a sea-worm and of a coralline; in its original state it is soft and shrinks into the sand from the touch; but when dry it is quite hard, straight, and brittle.


The duyong is a very large sea-animal or fish, of the order of mammalia, with two large pectoral fins serving the purposes of feet. By the early Dutch voyagers it was, without any obvious analogy, called the sea-cow; and from the circumstance of the head being covered with a kind of shaggy hair, and the mammae of the female being placed immediately under the pectus, it has given rise to the stories of mermaids in the tropical seas. The tusks are applied to the same uses as ivory, especially for the handles of krises, and being whiter are more prized. It has much general resemblance to the manatee or lamantin of the West Indies, and has been confounded with it; but the distinction between them has been ascertained by M. Cuvier, Annales du Museum d'Histoire Naturelle 22 cahier page 308.*

(*Footnote. "Some time ago (says Captain Forrest) a large fish, with valuable teeth, being cast ashore in the Illana districts, there arose a dispute who should have the teeth, but the Magindanoers carried it." Voyage to New Guinea page 272. See also Valentyn Volume 3 page 341.)


The grampus whale (species of delphinus) is well known to the natives by the names of pawus and gajah mina; but I do not recollect to have heard any instance of their being thrown upon the coast.


Of the ikan layer (genus novum schombro affine) a grand specimen is preserved in the British Museum, where it was deposited by Sir Joseph Banks;* and a description of it by the late M. Brousonet, under the name of le Voilier, is published in the Mem. de l'Acad. de Scien. de Paris for 1786 page 450 plate 10. It derives its appellation from the peculiarity of its dorsal fin, which rises so high as to suggest the idea of a sail; but it is most remarkable for what should rather be termed its snout than its horn, being an elongation of the frontal bone, and the prodigious force with which it occasionally strikes the bottoms of ships, mistaking them, as we may presume, for its enemy or prey. A large fragment of one of these bones, which had transfixed the plank of an East India ship, and penetrated about eighteen inches, is likewise preserved in the same national collection, together with the piece of plank, as it was cut out of the ship's bottom upon her being docked in England. Several accidents of a similar nature are known to have occurred. There is an excellent representation of this fish, under the name of fetisso, in Barbot's Description of the Coasts of Guinea, plate 18, which is copied in Astley's Collection of Voyages, Volume 2 plate 73.

(*Footnote. This fish was hooked by Mr. John Griffiths near the southern extremity of the west coast of Sumatra, and was given to Captain Cumming of the Britannia indiaman, by whom it was presented to Sir Joseph Banks.)


To attempt an enumeration of the species of fish with which these seas abound would exceed my power, and I shall only mention briefly some of the most obvious; as the shark, hiyu (squalus); skate, ikan pari (raya); ikan mua (muraena); ikan chanak (gymnotus); ikan gajah (cepole); ikan karang or bonna (chaetodon), described by Mr. John Bell in Volume 82 of the Philosophical Transactions. It is remarkable for certain tumours filled with oil, attached to its bones. There are also the ikan krapo, a kind of rock-cod or sea-perch; ikan marrang or kitang (teuthis), commonly named the leather fish, and among the best brought to table; jinnihin, a rock-fish shaped like a carp; bawal or pomfret (species of chaetodon); balanak, jumpul, and marra, three fish of the mullet kind (mugil); kuru (polynemus); ikan lidah, a kind of sole; tingeri, resembles the mackerel; gagu, catfish; summa, a river fish, resembling the salmon; ringkis, resembles the trout, and is noted for the size of its roe; ikan tambarah, I believe the shad of Siak River; ikan gadis, good river fish, about the size of a carp; ikan bada, small, like white bait; ikan gorito, sepia; ikan terbang, flying-fish (exocoetus). The little seahorse (Syngnathus hippocampus) is commonly found here.


Of birds the variety is considerable, and the following list contains but a small portion of those that might be discovered in the island by a qualified person who should confine his researches to that branch of natural history.


The kuwau, or Sumatran pheasant (Phasianus argus), is a bird of uncommon magnificence and beauty; the plumage being perhaps the most rich, without any mixture of gaudiness, of all the feathered race. It is found extremely difficult to keep it alive for any considerable time after catching it in the woods, yet it has in one instance been brought to England; but, having lost its fine feathers by the voyage, it did not excite curiosity, and died unnoticed. There is now a good specimen in the Liverpool Museum. It has in its natural state an antipathy to the light, and in the open day is quite moped and inanimate. When kept in a darkened place it seems at its ease, and sometimes makes use of the note or call from which it takes its name, and which is rather plaintive than harsh. The flesh, of which I have eaten, perfectly resembles that of the common pheasant (tugang), also found in the woods, but the body is of much larger size. I have reason to believe that it is not, as supposed, a native of the North or any part of China. From the Malayan Islands, of which it is the boast, it must be frequently carried thither.


The peacock, burong marak (pavo), appears to be well known to the natives, though I believe not common.

I should say the same of the eagle and the vulture (coracias), to the one or the other of which the name of raja wali is familiarly applied.

The kite, alang (falco), is very common, as is the crow, gadak (corvus), and jackdaw, pong (gracula), with several species of the woodpecker.

The kingfisher (alcedo) is named burong buaya, or the alligator-bird.

The bird-of-paradise, burong supan, or elegant-bird, is known here only in the dried state, as brought from the Moluccas and coast of New Guinea (tanah papuah).

M. de Jonville delt. Swaine sc.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

The rhinoceros bird, hornbill, or calao (buceros), called by the natives anggang and burong taun, is chiefly remarkable for what is termed the horn, which in the most common species extends halfway down the upper mandible of its large beak, and then turns up; but the varieties of shape are numerous. The length of one I measured whilst alive was ten inches and a half; the breadth, including the horn, six and a half; length from beak to tail four feet; wings four feet six inches; height one foot; length of neck one foot; the beak whitish; the horn yellow and red; the body black; the tail white ringed with black; rump, and feathers on the legs down to the heel, white; claws three before and one behind; the iris red. In a hen chick there was no appearance of a horn, and the iris was whitish. They eat either boiled rice or tender fresh meat. Of the use of such a singular cavity I could not learn any plausible conjecture. As a receptacle for water, it must be quite unnecessary in the country of which it is a native.


Of the stork kind there are several species, some of great height and otherwise curious, as the burong kambing and burong ular, which frequent the rice plantations in wet ground.

We find also the heron, burong kuntul (ardea); the snipe, kandidi (scolopax); the coot, or water-hen, ayam ayer (fulica); and the plover, cheruling (charadrius).

The cassowary, burong rusa, is brought from the island of Java.

The domestic hen is as common as in most other countries. In some the bones (or the periostea) are black, and these are at least equally good as food. The hen of the woods, ayam barugo, or ayam utan (which latter name is in some places applied to the pheasant), differs little from the common sort, excepting in the uniformity of its brown colour. In the Lampong country of Sumatra and western part of Java lying opposite to it there is a very large breed of fowls, called ayam jago; of these I have seen a cock peck from off of a common dining table; when inclined to rest they sit on the first joint of the leg and are then taller than the ordinary fowls. It is singular if the same country produces likewise the diminutive breed that goes by the name of bantam.

A species of partridge is called ayam gunong, or mountain hen.


Beside the pigeon, merapeti and burong darah (columba), and two common species of doves, the one of a light brown or dove-colour, called ballum, and the other green, called punei, there are of the latter some most exquisite varieties: the punei jambu is smaller than the usual size of doves; the back, wings, and tail are green; the breast and crop are white, but the front of the latter has a slight shade of pink; the forepart of the head is of a deep pink, resembling the blossom of the jambu fruit, from whence its name; the white of the breast is continued in a narrow streak, having the green on one side and the pink on the other, half round the eye, which is large, full, and yellow; of which colour is also the beak. It will live upon boiled rice and padi; but its favourite food, when wild, is the berry of the rumpunnei (Ardisia coriacea), perhaps from this circumstance so called. The selaya, or punei andu, another variety, has the body and wings of deep crimson, with the head, and extremity of its long indented tail, white; the legs red. It lives on the worms generated in the decayed part of old trees, and is about the size of a blackbird. Of the same size is the burong sawei, a bird of a bluish black colour, with a dove-tail, from which extend two very long feathers, terminating circularly. It seems to be what is called the widow-bird, and is formidable to the kite.

The burong pipit resembles the sparrow in its appearance, habits, numbers, and the destruction it causes to the grain.

The quail, puyuh (coturnix); but whether a native or a bird of passage, I cannot determine.

The starling (sturnus), of which I know not the Malayan name.

The swallow, layang-layang (hirundo), one species of which, called layang buhi, from its being supposed to collect the froth of the sea, is that which constructs the edible nests.

The mu­rei, or dial-bird, resembling a small magpie, has a pretty but short note. There is not any bird in the country that can be said to sing. The ti­yong, or mino, a black bird with yellow gills, has the faculty of imitating human speech in greater perfection than any other of the feathered tribe. There is also a yellow species, but not loquacious.

Of the parrot kind the variety is not so great as might be expected, and consists chiefly of those denominated parakeets. The beautiful luri, though not uncommon, is brought from the eastward. The kakatua is an inhabitant chiefly of the southern extremity of the island.

The Indian goose, angsa and gangsa (anser); the duck, bebek and itik (anas); and the teal, belibi, are common.


With insects the island may truly be said to swarm; and I doubt whether there is any part of the world where greater variety is to be found. Of these I shall only attempt to enumerate a few:

The kunang, or firefly, larger than the common fly, (which it resembles), with the phosphoric matter in the abdomen, regularly and quickly intermitting its light, as if by respiration; by holding one of them in my hand I could see to read at night;

Lipas, the cockroach (blatta); chingkarek, the cricket (gryllus);

Lebah, taun, the bee (apis), whose honey is gathered in the woods; kumbang, a species of apis, that bores its nest in timber, and thence acquires the name of the carpenter;

Sumut, the ant (formica), the multitudes of which overrun the country, and its varieties are not less extraordinary than its numbers. The following distinctions are the most obvious: the krangga, or great red ant, about three-fourths of an inch long, bites severely, and usually leaves its head, as a bee its sting, in the wound; it is found mostly on trees and bushes, and forms its nest by fastening together, with a glutinous matter, a collection of the leaves of a branch, as they grow; the common red ant; the minute red ant; the large black ant, not equal in size to the krangga, but with a head of disproportioned bulk; the common black ant; and the minute black ant: they also differ from each other in a circumstance which I believe has not been attended to; and that is the sensation with which they affect the taste when put into the mouth, as frequently happens unintentionally: some are hot and acrid, some bitter, and some sour. Perhaps this will be attributed to the different kinds of food they have accidentally devoured; but I never found one which tasted sweet, though I have caught them in the fact of robbing a sugar or honey-pot. Each species of ant is a declared enemy of the other, and never suffers a divided empire. Where one party effects a settlement the other is expelled; and in general they are powerful in proportion to their bulk, with the exception of the white-ant, sumut putih (termes), which is beaten from the field by others of inferior size; and for this reason it is a common expedient to strew sugar on the floor of a warehouse in order to allure the formicae to the spot, who do not fail to combat and overcome the ravaging but unwarlike termites. Of this insect and its destructive qualities I had intended to give some description, but the subject is so elaborately treated (though with some degree of fancy) by Mr. Smeathman, in Volume 71 of the Philosophical Transactions for 1781, who had an opportunity of observing them in Africa, that I omit it as superfluous.

Of the wasp kind there are several curious varieties. One of them may be observed building its nest of moistened clay against a wall, and inclosing in each of its numerous compartments a living spider; thus revenging upon this bloodthirsty race the injuries sustained by harmless flies, and providently securing for its own young a stock of food.

Lalat, the common fly (musca); lalat kuda (tabanus); lalat karbau (oestrus);

Niamok, agas, the gnat or mosquito (culex), producing a degree of annoyance equal to the sum of all the other physical plagues of a hot climate, but even to these I found that habit rendered me almost indifferent;

Kala-jingking, the scorpion (scorpio), the sting of which is highly inflammatory and painful, but not dangerous;

Sipasan, centipede (scholopendra), not so venomous as the preceding;

Alipan (jules);

Alintah, water-leech (hirudo); achih, small land-leech, dropping from the leaves of trees whilst moist with dew, and troublesome to travellers in passing through the woods.

To this list I shall only add the suala, tripan, or sea-slug (holothurion), which, being collected from the rocks and dried in the sun, is exported to China, where it is an article of food.



E.W. Marsden delt. Engraved by J. Swaine, Queen Street, Golden Square.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.


OF those productions of Sumatra, which are regarded as articles of commerce, the most important and most abundant is pepper. This is the object of the East India Company's trade thither, and this alone it keeps in its own hands; its servants, and merchants under its protection, being free to deal in every other commodity.


Many of the princes or chiefs in different parts of the island having invited the English to form settlements in their respective districts, factories were accordingly established, and a permanency and regularity thereby given to the trade, which was very uncertain whilst it depended upon the success of occasional voyages to the coast; disappointments ensuing not only from failure of adequate quantities of pepper to furnish cargoes when required, but also from the caprices and chicanery of the chiefs with whom the disposal of it lay, the motives of whose conduct could not be understood by those who were unacquainted with the language and manners of the people. These inconveniencies were obviated when the agents of the Company were enabled, by their residence on the spot, to obtain an influence in the country, to inspect the state of the plantations, secure the collection of the produce, and make an estimate of the tonnage necessary for its conveyance to Europe.

In order to bind the chiefs to the observance of their original promises and professions, and to establish a plausible and legal claim, in opposition to the attempts of rival European powers to interfere in the trade of the same country, written contracts, attended with much form and solemnity, were entered into with the former; by which they engaged to oblige all their dependants to cultivate pepper, and to secure to us the exclusive purchase of it; in return for which they were to be protected from their enemies, supported in the rights of sovereignty, and to be paid a certain allowance or custom on the produce of their respective territories.


The price for many years paid to the cultivators for their produce was ten Spanish dollars or fifty shillings per bahar of five hundredweight or five hundred and sixty pounds. About the year 1780, with a view to their encouragement and the increase of investment, as it is termed, the sum was augmented to fifteen dollars. To this cost is to be added the custom above mentioned, varying in different districts according to specific agreements, but amounting in general to one dollar and a half, or two dollars on each bahar, which is distributed amongst the chiefs at an annual entertainment; and presents are made at the same time to planters who have distinguished themselves by their industry. This low price, at which the natives submit to cultivate the plantations, affording to each man an income of not more than from eight to twelve dollars yearly, and the undisturbed monopoly we have so long possessed of the trade, from near Indrapura northward to Flat Point southward, are doubtless in a principal degree to be attributed to the peculiar manner in which this part of the island is shut up, by the surfs which prevail along the south-west coast, from communication with strangers, whose competition would naturally produce the effect of enhancing the price of the commodity. The general want of anchorage too, for so many leagues to the northward of the Straits of Sunda, has in all ages deterred the Chinese and other eastern merchants from attempting to establish an intercourse that must be attended with imminent risk to unskilful navigators; indeed I understand it to be a tradition among the natives who border on the sea-coast that it is not many hundred years since these parts began to be inhabited, and they speak of their descent as derived from the more inland country. Thus it appears that those natural obstructions, which we are used to lament as the greatest detriment to our trade, are in fact advantages to which it in a great measure owes its existence. In the northern countries of the island, where the people are numerous and their ports good, they are found to be more independent also, and refuse to cultivate plantations upon any other terms than those on which they can deal with private traders.


In the cultivation of pepper (Piper nigrum, L.)* the first circumstance that claims attention, and on which the success materially depends, is the choice of a proper site for the plantation. A preference is usually given to level ground lying along the banks of rivers or rivulets, provided they are not so low as to be inundated, both on account of the vegetable mould commonly found there, and the convenience of water-carriage for the produce. Declivities, unless very gentle, are to be avoided, because the soil loosened by culture is liable in such situations to be washed away by heavy rains. When these plains however are naked, or covered with long grass only, they will not be found to answer without the assistance of the plough and of manure, their fertility being exhausted by exposure to the sun. How far the returns in general might be increased by the introduction of these improvements in agriculture I cannot take upon me to determine; but I fear that, from the natural indolence of the natives, and their want of zeal in the business of pepper-planting, occasioned by the smallness of the advantage it yields to them, they will never be prevailed upon to take more pains than they now do. The planters therefore, depending more upon the natural qualities of the soil than on any advantage it might receive from their cultivation, find none to suit their purpose better than those spots which, having been covered with old woods and long fertilized by decaying foliage and trunks, have recently been cleared for ladangs or padi-fields, in the manner already described; where it was also observed that, being allured by the certainty of abundant produce from a virgin soil, and having land for the most part at will, they renew their toil annually, and desert the ground so laboriously prepared after occupying it for one, or at the furthest for two, seasons. Such are the most usual situations chosen for the pepper plantations (kabun) or gardens, as they are termed; but, independently of the culture of rice, land is very frequently cleared for the pepper in the first instance by felling and burning the trees.

(*Footnote. See Remarks on the Species of Pepper (and on its Cultivation) at Prince of Wales Island, by Dr. William Hunter, in the Asiatic Researches Volume 9 page 383.)


The ground is then marked out in form of a regular square or oblong, with intersections throughout at the distance of six feet (being equal to five cubits of the measure of the country), the intended interval between the plants, of which there are commonly either one thousand or five hundred in each garden; the former number being required from those who are heads of families (their wives and children assisting them in their work), and the latter from single men. Industrious or opulent persons sometimes have gardens of two or three thousand vines. A border twelve feet in width, within which limit no tree is suffered to grow, surrounds each garden, and it is commonly separated from others by a row of shrubs or irregular hedge. Where the nature of the country admits of it the whole or greater part of the gardens of a dusun or village lie adjacent to each other, both for the convenience of mutual assistance in labour and mutual protection from wild beasts; single gardens being often abandoned from apprehension of their ravages, and where the owner has been killed in such a situation none will venture to replace him.


After lining out the ground and marking the intersections by slight stakes the next business is to plant the trees that are to become props to the pepper, as the Romans planted elms, and the modern Italians more commonly plant poplars and mulberries, for their grape-vines. These are cuttings of the chungkariang (Erythrina corallodendron), usually called chinkareens, put into the ground about a span deep, sufficiently early to allow time for a shoot to be strong enough to support the young pepper-plant when it comes to twine about it. The cuttings are commonly two feet in length, but sometimes a preference is given to the length of six feet, and the vine is then planted as soon as the chinkareen has taken root: but the principal objections to this method are that in such state they are very liable to fail and require renewal, to the prejudice of the garden; and that their shoots are not so vigorous as those of the short cuttings, frequently growing crooked, or in a lateral instead of a perpendicular direction. The circumstances which render the chinkareen particularly proper for this use are its readiness and quickness of growth, even after the cuttings have been kept some time in bundles,* if put into the ground with the first rains; and the little thorns with which it is armed enabling the vine to take a firmer hold. They are distinguished into two sorts, the white and red, not from the colour of the flowers (as might be supposed) for both are red, but from the tender shoots of the one being whitish and of the other being of a reddish hue. The bark of the former is of a pale ash colour, of the latter brown; the former is sweet, and the food of elephants, for which reason it is not much used in parts frequented by those animals; the latter is bitter and unpalatable to them; but they are not deterred by the short prickles which are common to the branches of both sorts.

(*Footnote. It is a common and useful practice to place these bundles of cuttings in water about two inches deep and afterwards to reject such of them as in that state do not show signs of vegetation.)

Trial has frequently been made of other trees, and particularly of the bangkudu or mangkudu (Morinda citrifolia), but none have been found to answer so well for these vegetating props. It has been doubted indeed whether the growth and produce of the pepper-vine are not considerably injured by the chinkareen, which may rob it of its proper nourishment by exhausting the earth; and on this principle, in other of the eastern islands (Borneo, for instance), the vine is supported by poles in the manner of hops in England. Yet it is by no means clear to me that the Sumatran method is so disadvantageous in the comparison as it may seem; for, as the pepper-plant lasts many years, whilst the poles, exposed to sun and rain, and loaded with a heavy weight, cannot be supposed to continue sound above two seasons, there must be a frequent renewal, which, notwithstanding the utmost care, must lacerate and often destroy the vines. It is probable also that the shelter from the violence of the sun's rays afforded by the branches of the vegetating prop, and which, during the dry monsoon, is of the utmost consequence, may counterbalance the injury occasioned by their roots; not to insist on the opinion of a celebrated writer that trees, acting as siphons, derive from the air and transmit to the earth as much of the principle of vegetation as is expended in their nourishment.

When the most promising shoot of the chinkareen reserved for rearing has attained the height of twelve to fifteen feet (which latter it is not to exceed), or in the second year of its growth, it must be headed or topped; and the branches that then extend themselves laterally, from the upper part only, so long as their shade is required, are afterwards lopped annually at the commencement of the rainy season (about November), leaving little more than the stem; from whence they again shoot out to afford their protection during the dry weather. By this operation also the damage to the plant that would ensue from the droppings of rain from the leaves is avoided.


The pepper-vine is, in its own climate, a hardy plant, growing readily from cuttings or layers, rising in several knotted stems, twining round any neighbouring support, and adhering to it by fibres that shoot from every joint at intervals of six to ten inches, and from which it probably derives a share of its nourishment. If suffered to run along the ground these fibres would become roots; but in this case (like the ivy) it would never exhibit any appearance of fructification, the prop being necessary for encouraging it to throw out its bearing shoots. It climbs to the height of twenty or twenty-five feet, but thrives best when restrained to twelve or fifteen, as in the former case the lower part of the vine bears neither leaves nor fruit, whilst in the latter it produces both from within a foot of the ground. The stalk soon becomes ligneous, and in time acquires considerable thickness. The leaves are of a deep green and glossy surface, heart-shaped, pointed, not pungent to the taste, and have but little smell. The branches are short and brittle, not projecting above two feet from the stem, and separating readily at the joints. The blossom is small and white, the fruit round, green when young and full­grown, and turning to a bright red when ripe and in perfection. It grows abundantly from all the branches in long small clusters of twenty to fifty grains, somewhat resembling bunches of currants, but with this difference, that every grain adheres to the common stalk, which occasions the cluster of pepper to be more compact, and it is also less pliant.


The usual mode of propagating the pepper is by cuttings, a foot or two in length, of the horizontal shoots that run along the ground from the foot of the old vines (called lado sulur), and one or two of these are planted within a few inches of the young chinkareen at the same time with it if of the long kind, or six months after if of the short kind, as before described. Some indeed prefer an interval of twelve months; as in good soil the luxuriancy of the vine will often overpower and bear down the prop, if it has not first acquired competent strength. In such soil the vine rises two or three feet in the course of the first year, and four or five more in the second, by which time, or between the second and third year of its growth, it begins to show its blossom (be-gagang), if in fact it can be called such, being nothing more than the germ of the future bunch of fruit, of a light straw colour, darkening to green as the fruit forms. These germs or blossoms are liable to fall untimely (gugur) in very dry weather, or to be shaken off in high winds (although from this accident the gardens are in general well sheltered by the surrounding woods), when, after the fairest promise, the crop fails.


In the rainy weather that succeeds the first appearance of the fruit the whole vine is loosened from the chinkareen and turned down again into the earth, a hole being dug to receive it, in which it is laid circularly or coiled, leaving only the extremity above ground, at the foot of the chinkareen, which it now reascends with redoubled vigour, attaining in the following season the height of eight or ten feet, and bearing a full crop of fruit. There is said to be a great nicety in hitting the exact time proper for this operation of turning down; for if it be done too soon, the vines have been known not to bear till the third year, like fresh plants; and on the other hand the produce is ultimately retarded when they omit to turn them down until after the first fruit has been gathered; to which avarice of present, at the expense of future advantage, sometimes inclines the owners. It is not very material how many stems the vine may have in its first growth, but now one only, if strong, or two at the most, should be suffered to rise and cling to the prop: more would be superfluous and only weaken the whole. The supernumerary shoots however are usefully employed, being either conducted through narrow trenches to adjacent chinkareens whose vines have failed, or taken off at the root and transplanted to others more distant, where, coiled round and buried as the former, they rise with the same vigour, and the garden is completed of uniform growth, although many of its original vines have not succeeded. With these offsets or layers (called anggor and tettas) new gardens may be at once formed; the necessary chinkareens being previously planted, and of sufficient growth to receive them.

This practice of turning down the vines, which appears singular but certainly contributes to the duration as well as strength of the plants, may yet amount to nothing more than a substitute for transplantation. Our people observing that vegetables often fail to thrive when permitted to grow up in the same beds where they were first set or sown, find it advantageous to remove them, at a certain period of their growth, to fresh situations. The Sumatrans observing the same failure have had recourse to an expedient nearly similar in its principle but effected in a different and perhaps more judicious mode.

In order to lighten the labour of the cultivator, who has also the indispensable task of raising grain for himself and his family, it is a common practice, and not attended with any detriment to the gardens, to sow padi in the ground in which the chinkareens have been planted, and when this has become about six inches high, to plant the cuttings of the vines, suffering the shoots to creep along the ground until the crop has been taken off, when they are trained to the chinkareens, the shade of the corn being thought favourable to the young plants.


The vines, as has been observed, generally begin to bear in the course of the third year from the time of planting, but the produce is retarded for one or two seasons by the process just described; after which it increases annually for three years, when the garden (about the seventh or eighth year) is esteemed in its prime, or at its utmost produce; which state it maintains, according to the quality of the soil, from one to four years, when it gradually declines for about the same period until it is no longer worth the labour of keeping it in order. From some, in good ground, fruit has been gathered at the age of twenty years; but such instances are uncommon. On the first appearance of decline it should be renewed, as it is termed; but, to speak more properly, another garden should be planted to succeed it, which will begin to bear before the old one ceases.


The vine having acquired its full growth, and being limited by the height of the chinkareen, sometimes grows bushy and overhangs at top, which, being prejudicial to the lower parts, must be corrected by pruning or thinning the top branches, and this is done commonly by hand, as they break readily at every joint. Suckers too, or superfluous side­shoots (charang), which spring luxuriantly, are to be plucked away. The ground of the garden must be kept perfectly clear of weeds, shrubs, and whatever might injure or tend to choke the plants. During the hot months of June, July, and August the finer kinds of grass may be permitted to cover the ground, as it contributes to mitigate the effects of the sun's power, and preserves for a longer time the dews, which at that season fall copiously; but the rank species, called lalang, being particularly difficult to eradicate, should not be suffered to fix itself, if it can be avoided. As the vines increase in size and strength less attention to the ground is required, and especially as their shade tends to check the growth of weeds. In lopping the branches of the chinkareens preparatory to the rains, some dexterity is required that they may fall clear of the vine, and the business is performed with a sharp prang or bill that generally separates at one stroke the light pithy substance of the bough. For this purpose, as well as that of gathering the fruit, light triangular ladders made of bamboo are employed.


As soon as any of the berries or corns redden, the bunch is reckoned fit for gathering, the remainder being then generally full-grown, although green; nor would it answer to wait for the whole to change colour, as the most mature would drop off.


It is collected in small baskets slung over the shoulder, and with the assistance of the women and children conveyed to a smooth level spot of clean hard ground near the garden or the village, where it is spread, sometimes upon mats, to dry in the sun, but exposed at the same time to the vicissitudes of the weather, which are not much regarded nor thought to injure it. In this situation it becomes black and shrivelled, as we see it in Europe, and as it dries is hand-rubbed occasionally to separate the grains from the stalk. It is then winnowed in large round shallow sieves called nyiru, and put in large vessels made of bark (kulitkayu) under their houses until the whole of the crop is gathered, or a sufficient quantity for carrying (usually by water) to the European factory or gadong at the mouth of the river. That which has been gathered at the properest stage of maturity will shrivel the least; but, if plucked too soon, it will in a short time, by removal from place to place, become mere dust. Of this defect trial may be made by the hand; but as light pepper may have been mixed with the sound it becomes necessary that the whole should be garbled at the scale by machines constructed for the purpose. Pepper that has fallen to the ground overripe and been gathered from thence will be known by being stripped of its outer coat, and in that state is an inferior kind of white pepper.


This was for centuries supposed in Europe to be the produce of a different plant, and to possess qualities superior to those of the common black pepper; and accordingly it sold at a considerably higher price. But it has lost in some measure that advantage since it has been known that the secret depended merely upon the art of blanching the grains of the other sort, by depriving it of the exterior pellicle. For this purpose the ripest red grains are picked out and put in baskets to steep, either in running water (which is preferred), in pits dug for the occasion near the banks of rivers, or in stagnant pools. Sometimes it is only buried in the ground. In any of these situations it swells, and in the course of a week or ten days bursts its tegument, from which it is afterwards carefully separated by drying in the sun, rubbing between the hands, and winnowing. It has been much disputed, and is still undetermined, to which sort the preference ought to be given. The white pepper has this obvious recommendation, that it can be made of no other than the best and soundest grains, taken at their most perfect stage of maturity: but on the other hand it is argued that, by being suffered to remain the necessary time in water, its strength must be considerably diminished; and that the outer husk, which is lost by the process, has a peculiar flavour distinct from that of the heart, and though not so pungent, more aromatic. For the white pepper the planter receives the fourth part of a dollar, or fifteen pence, per bamboo or gallon measure, equal to about six pounds weight. At the sales in England the prices are at this time in the proportion of seventeen to ten or eleven, and the quantity imported has for some years been inconsiderable.


The gardens being planted in even rows, running parallel, and at right angles with each other, their symmetrical appearance is very beautiful, and rendered more striking by the contrast they exhibit to the wild scenes of nature which surround them. In highly cultivated countries such as England, where landed property is all lined out and bounded and intersected with walls and hedges, we endeavour to give our gardens and pleasure-grounds the charm of variety and novelty by imitating the wildness of nature, in studied irregularities. Winding walks, hanging woods, craggy rocks, falls of water, are all looked upon as improvements; and the stately avenues, the canals, and rectangular lawns of our ancestors, which afforded the beauty of contrast in ruder times are now exploded. This difference of taste is not merely the effect of caprice, nor entirely of refinement, but results from the change of circumstances. A man who should attempt to exhibit in Sumatra the modern or irregular style of laying out grounds would attract but little attention, as the unimproved scenes adjoining on every side would probably eclipse his labours. Could he, on the contrary, produce, amidst its magnificent wilds, one of those antiquated parterres, with its canals and fountains, whose precision he has learned to despise, his work would create admiration and delight. A pepper-garden cultivated in England would not in point of external appearance be considered as an object of extraordinary beauty, and would be particularly found fault with for its uniformity; yet in Sumatra I never entered one, after travelling many miles, as is usually the case, through the woods, that I did not find myself affected with a strong sensation of pleasure. Perhaps the simple view of human industry, so scantily presented in that island, might contribute to this pleasure, by awakening those social feelings that nature has inspired us with, and which make our breasts glow on the perception of whatever indicates the prosperity and happiness of our fellow-creatures.


Once in every year a survey of all the pepper-plantations is taken by the Company's European servants resident at the various settlements, in the neighbourhood of which that article is cultivated. The number of vines in each particular garden is counted; accurate observation is made of its state and condition; orders are given where necessary for further care, for completion of stipulated quantity, renewals, changes of situation for better soil; and rewards and punishments are distributed to the planters as they appear, from the degree of their industry or remissness, deserving of either. Minutes of all these are entered in the survey-book, which, beside giving present information to the chief, and to the governor and council, to whom a copy is transmitted, serves as a guide and check for the survey of the succeeding year. An abstract of the form of the book is as follows. It is divided into sundry columns, containing the name of the village; the names of the planters; the number of chinkareens planted; the number of vines just planted; of young vines, not in a bearing state, three classes or years; of young vines in a bearing state, three classes; of vines in prime; of those on decline; of those that are old, but still productive; the total number; and lastly the quantity of pepper received during the year. A space is left for occasional remarks, and at the conclusion is subjoined a comparison of the totals of each column, for the whole district or residency, with those of the preceding year. This business the reader will perceive to be attended with considerable trouble, exclusive of the actual fatigue of the surveys, which from the nature of the country must necessarily be performed on foot, in a climate not very favourable to such excursions. The journeys in few places can be performed in less than a month, and often require a much longer time.

The arrival of the Company's Resident at each dusun is considered as a period of festivity. The chief, together with the principal inhabitants, entertain him and his attendants with rustic hospitality, and when he retires to rest, his slumbers are soothed, or interrupted, by the songs of young females, who never fail to pay this compliment to the respected guest; and receive in return some trifling ornamental and useful presents (such as looking-glasses, fans, and needles) at his departure.


The inhabitants, by the original contracts of the headmen with the Company, are obliged to plant a certain number of vines; each family one thousand, and each young unmarried man five hundred; and, in order to keep up the succession of produce, so soon as their gardens attain to their prime state, they are ordered to prepare others, that they may begin to bear as the old ones fall off; but as this can seldom be enforced till the decline becomes evident, and as young gardens are liable to various accidents which older ones are exempt from, the succession is rendered incomplete, and the consequence is that the annual produce of each district fluctuates, and is greater or less in the proportion of the quantity of bearing vines to the whole number. To enter minutely into the detail of this business will not afford much information or entertainment to the generality of readers, who will however be surprised to hear that pepper-planting, though scarcely an art, so little skill appears to be employed in its cultivation, has nevertheless been rendered an abstruse science by the investigations which able men have bestowed upon the subject. These took their rise from censures conveyed for supposed mismanagement, when the investment, or annual provision of pepper, decreased in comparison with preceding years, and which was not satisfactorily accounted for by unfavourable seasons. To obviate such charges it became necessary for those who superintended the business to pay attention to and explain the efficient causes which unavoidably occasioned this fluctuation, and to establish general principles of calculation by which to determine at any time the probable future produce of the different residencies. These will depend upon a knowledge of the medium produce of a determinate number of vines, and the medium number to which this produce is to be applied; both of which are to be ascertained only from a comprehensive view of the subject, and a nice discrimination. Nothing general can be determined from detached instances. It is not the produce of one particular plantation in one particular stage of bearing and in one particular season, but the mean produce of all the various classes of bearing vines collectively, drawn from the experience of several years, that can alone be depended on in calculations of this nature. So in regard to the median number of vines presumed to exist at any residency in a future year, to which the medium produce of a certain number, one thousand, for instance, is to be applied, the quantity of young vines of the first, second, and third year must not be indiscriminately advanced, in their whole extent, to the next annual stage, but a judicious allowance founded on experience must be made for the accidents to which, in spite of a resident's utmost care, they will be exposed. Some are lost by neglect or death of the owner; some are destroyed by inundations, others by elephants and wild buffaloes, and some by unfavourable seasons, and from these several considerations the number of vines will ever be found considerably decreased by the time they have arrived at a bearing state. Another important object of consideration in these matters is the comparative state of a residency at any particular period with what may be justly considered as its medium state. There must exist a determinate proportion between any number of bearing vines and such a number of young as are necessary to replace them when they go off and keep up a regular succession. This will depend in general upon the length of time before they reach a bearing state and during which they afterwards continue in it. If this certain proportion happens at any time to be disturbed the produce must become irregular. Thus, if at any period the number of bearing vines shall be found to exceed their just proportion to the total number, the produce at such period is to be considered as above the mean, and a subsequent decrease may with certainty be predicted, and vice versa. If then this proportion can be known, and the state of population in a residency ascertained, it becomes easy to determine the true medium number of bearing vines in that residency.

There are, agreeably to the form of the survey book, eleven stages or classes of vines, each advanced one year. Of these classes six are bearing and five young. If therefore the gardens were not liable to accidents, but passed on from column to column undiminished, the true proportion of the bearing vines to the young would be as six to five, or to the total, as six to eleven. But the various contingencies above hinted at must tend to reduce this proportion; while, on the other hand, if any of the gardens should continue longer than is necessary to pass through all the stages on the survey-book, or should remain more than one year in a prime state, these circumstances would tend to increase the proportion. What then is the true medium proportion can only be determined from experience, and by comparing the state of a residency at various successive periods. In order to ascertain this point a very ingenious gentleman and able servant of the East India Company, Mr. John Crisp, to whom I am indebted for the most part of what I have laid before the reader on this part of the subject, drew out in the year 1777 a general comparative view of Manna residency, from the surveys of twelve years, annexing the produce of each year. From the statement it appeared that the proportion of the bearing vines to the whole number in that district was no more than 5.1 to 11, instead of 6 to 11, which would be the proportion if not reduced by accidents; and further that, when the whole produce of the twelve years was diffused over the whole number of bearing vines during that period, the produce of one thousand vines came out to be four hundred and fifty-three pounds, which must therefore be estimated as the medium produce of that residency. The same principle of calculation being applied to the other residencies, it appeared that the mean annual produce of one thousand vines, in all the various stages of bearing, taken collectively throughout the country, deduced from the experience of twelve years, was four hundred and four pounds. It likewise became evident from the statements drawn out by that gentleman that the medium annual produce of the Company's settlements on the west coast of Sumatra ought to be estimated at twelve hundred tons, of sixteen hundred weight; which is corroborated by an average of the actual receipts for any considerable number of years.

Thus much will be sufficient to give the reader an idea of pepper-planting as a kind of science. How far in a commercial light this produce answers the Company's views in supporting the settlements, is foreign from my purpose to discuss, though it is a subject on which not a little might be said. It is the history of the island and its inhabitants, and not of the European interests, that I attempt to lay before the public.


The natives distinguish three species of pepper, which are called at different places by different names. At Laye, in the Rejang country, they term them lado kawur, lado manna, and lado jambi, from the parts where each sort is supposed to prevail, or from whence it was first brought to them. The lado kawur, or Lampong pepper, is the strongest plant, and bears the largest leaf and fruit; is slower in coming to perfection than the second, but of much longer duration. The leaf and fruit of the lado manna are somewhat smaller, and it has this peculiarity, that it bears soon and in large quantities, but seldom passes the third or fourth year's crop. The jambi, which has deservedly fallen into disrepute, is of the smallest leaf and fruit, very short-lived, and not without difficulty trained to the chinkareen. In some places to the southward they distinguish two kinds only, lado sudul and lado jambi. Lado sulur and lado anggor are not distinctions of species; the former denoting the cuttings of young creeping shoots commonly planted, in opposition to the latter, which is the term for planting by layers.


The season of the pepper-vines bearing, as well as that of most other fruit-trees on Sumatra, is subject to great irregularities, owing perhaps to the uncertainty of the monsoons, which are not there so strictly periodical as on the western side of India. Generally speaking however the pepper produces two crops in the year; one called the greater crop (pupul agung) between the months of October and March; the other called the lesser or half crop (buah sello) between the months of April and September, which is small in proportion as the former has been considerable, and vice versa. Sometimes in particular districts they will be employed in gathering it in small quantities during the whole year round, whilst perhaps in others the produce of that year is confined to one crop; for, although the regular period between the appearance of the blossom and maturity is about four months, the whole does not ripen at once, and blossoms are frequently found on the same vine with green and ripe fruit. In Laye residency the principal harvest of pepper in the year 1766 was gathered between the months of February and May; in 1767 and 1768 about September and October; in 1778 between June and August; and for the four succeeding years was seldom received earlier than November and December. Long-continued droughts, which sometimes happen, stop the vegetation of the vines and retard the produce. This was particularly experienced in the year 1775, when, for a period of about eight months, scarcely a shower of rain fell to moisten the earth. The vines were deprived of their foliage, many gardens perished and a general destruction was expected. But this apparent calamity was attended with a consequence not foreseen, though analogous to the usual operations of nature in that climate. The natives, when they would force a tree that is backward to produce fruit, strip it of its leaves, by which means the nutritive juices are reserved for that more important use, and the blossoms soon begin to show themselves in abundance. A similar effect was displayed in the pepper gardens by the inclemency of the season. The vines, as soon as the rains began to descend, threw out blossoms in a profusion unknown before; old gardens which had been unprolific for two or three years began to bear; and accordingly the crop of 1776/1777 considerably surpassed that of many preceding years.


The pepper is mostly brought down from the country on rafts (rakit), which are sometimes composed of rough timbers, but usually of large bamboos, with a platform of split bamboos to keep the cargo dry. They are steered at both head and stern, in the more rapid rivers with a kind of rudder, or scull rather, having a broad blade fixed in a fork or crutch. Those who steer are obliged to exert the whole strength of the body in those places especially where the fall of water is steep, and the course winding; but the purchase of the scull is of so great power that they can move the raft bodily across the river when both ends are acted upon at the same time. But, notwithstanding their great dexterity and their judgment in choosing the channel, they are liable to meet with obstruction in large trees and rocks, which, from the violence of the stream, occasion their rafts to be overset, and sometimes dashed to pieces.

It is a generally received opinion that pepper does not sustain any damage by an immersion in seawater; a circumstance that attends perhaps a fourth part of the whole quantity shipped from the coast. The surf, through which it is carried in an open boat, called a sampan lonchore, renders such accidents unavoidable. This boat, which carries one or two tons, being hauled up on the beach and there loaded, is shoved off, with a few people in it, by a number collected for that purpose, who watch the opportunity of a lull or temporary intermission of the swell. A tambangan, or long narrow vessel, built to contain from ten to twenty tons, (peculiar to the southern part of the coast), lies at anchor without to receive the cargoes from the sampans. At many places, where the kwallas, or mouths of the rivers, are tolerably practicable, the pepper is sent out at once in the tambangans over the bar; but this, owing to the common shallowness of the water and violence of the surfs, is attended with considerable risk. Thus the pepper is conveyed either to the warehouses at the head-settlement or to the ship from Europe lying there to receive it. About one-third part of the quantity of black pepper collected, but none of the white, is annually sent to China. Of the extent and circumstances of the trade in pepper carried on by private merchants (chiefly American) at the northern ports of Nalabu, Susu, and Mukki, where it is managed by the subjects of Achin, I have not any accurate information, and only know that it has increased considerably during the last twelve years.


It is well known with what jealousy and rigour the Batavian government has guarded against the transplantation of the trees producing nutmegs and cloves from the islands of Banda and Amboina to other parts of India. To elude its vigilance many attempts have been made by the English, who considered Sumatra to be well adapted, from its local circumstances, to the cultivation of these valuable spices; but all proved ineffectual, until the reduction of the eastern settlements in 1796 afforded the wished for opportunity, which was eagerly seized by Mr. Robert Broff, at that period chief of the Residency of Fort Marlborough. As the culture is now likely to become of importance to the trade of this country, and the history of its introduction may hereafter be thought interesting, I shall give it in Mr. Broff's own words:

The acquisition of the nutmeg and clove plants became an object of my solicitude the moment I received by Captain Newcombe, of his Majesty's ship Orpheus, the news of the surrender of the islands where they are produced; being convinced, from the information I had received, that the country in the neighbourhood of Bencoolen, situated as it is in the same latitude with the Moluccas, exposed to the same periodical winds, and possessing the same kind of soil, would prove congenial to their culture. Under this impression I suggested to the other members of the Board the expediency of freighting a vessel for the twofold purpose of sending supplies to the forces at Amboina, for which they were in distress, and of bringing in return as many spice-plants as could be conveniently stowed. The proposition was acceded to, and a vessel, of which I was the principal owner (no other could be obtained), was accordingly dispatched in July 1806; but the plan was unfortunately frustrated by the imprudent conduct of a person on the civil establishment to whom the execution was entrusted. Soon afterwards however I had the good fortune to be more successful, in an application I made to Captain Hugh Moore, who commanded the Phoenix country ship, to undertake the importation, stipulating with him to pay a certain sum for every healthy plant he should deliver.


Complete success attended the measure: he returned in July 1798, and I had the satisfaction of planting myself, and distributing for that purpose, a number of young nutmeg and a few clove trees in the districts of Bencoolen and Silebar, and other more distant spots, in order to ascertain from experience the situations best adapted to their growth. I particularly delivered to Mr. Charles Campbell, botanist, a portion to be under his own immediate inspection; and another to Mr. Edward Coles, this gentleman having in his service a family who were natives of a spice island and had been used to the cultivation. When I quitted the coast in January 1799 I had the gratification of witnessing the prosperous state of the plantations, and of receiving information from the quarters where they had been distributed of their thriving luxuriantly; and since my arrival in England various letters have reached me to the same effect. To the merit therefore of introducing this important article, and of forming regulations for its successful culture, I put in my exclusive claim; and am fully persuaded that if a liberal policy is adopted it will become of the greatest commercial advantage to the Company and to the nation.

Further light will be thrown upon this subject and the progress of the cultivation by the following extract of a letter to me from Mr. Campbell, dated in November 1803:

Early in the year 1798 Mr. Broff, to whom the highest praise is due for his enterprising and considerative scheme of procuring the spice trees from our newly-conquered islands (after experiencing much disappointment and want of support) overcame every obstacle, and we received, through the agency of Mr. Jones, commercial resident at Amboina, five or six hundred nutmeg plants, with about fifty cloves; but these latter were not in a vigorous state. They were distributed and put generally under my inspection. Their culture was attended with various success, but Mr. Coles, from the situation of his farm, near Silebar River but not too close to the seashore, and from, I believe, bestowing more personal attention than any of us, has outstripped his competitors. Some trees which I planted as far inland as the Sugar-loaf Mountain blossomed with his, but the fruit was first perfected in his ground. The plants were dispatched from Amboina in March 1798, just bursting from the shell, and two months ago I plucked the perfect fruit, specimens of which I now send you; being a period of five years and nine months only; whereas in their native land eight years at least are commonly allowed. Having early remarked the great promise of the trees I tried by every means in my power to interest the Bengal government in our views, and at length, by the assistance of Dr. Roxburgh, I succeeded.


A few months ago his son arrived here from Amboina, with twenty-two thousand nutmeg plants, and upwards of six thousand cloves, which are already in my nurseries, and flourishing like those which preceded them. About the time the nutmegs fruited one clove tree flowered. Only three of the original importation had survived their transit and the accidents attending their planting out. Its buds are now filling, and I hope to transmit specimens of them also. The Malay chiefs have eagerly engaged in the cultivation of their respective shares. I have retained eight thousand nutmegs as a plantation from which the fruit may hereafter be disseminated. Every kind of soil and every variety of situation has been tried. The cloves are not yet widely dispersed, for, being a tender plant, I choose to have them under my own eye.

Since the death of Mr. Campbell Mr. Roxburgh has been appointed to the superintendence, and the latest accounts from thence justify the sanguine expectations formed of the ultimate importance of the trade; there being at that period upwards of twenty thousand nutmeg trees in full bearing, capable of yielding annually two hundred thousand pounds weight of nutmegs, and fifty thousand pounds of mace. The clove plants have proved more delicate, but the quality of their spice equal to any produced in the Moluccas.


It is understood that the Company has declined the monopoly of the trade and left the cultivation to individual exertion; directing however that its own immediate plantations be kept up by the labour of convicts from Bengal, and reserving to itself an export duty of ten per cent on the value of the spices.


Among the valuable productions of the island as articles of commerce a conspicuous place belongs to the camphor.

This peculiar substance, called by the natives kapur-barus,* and distinguished by the epithet of native camphor from another sort which shall be mentioned hereafter, is a drug for which Sumatra and Borneo have been celebrated from the earliest times, and with the virtues of which the Arabian physicians appear to have been acquainted. Chemists formerly entertained opinions extremely discordant in regard to the nature and the properties of camphor; and even at this day they seem to be but imperfectly known. It is considered however as a sedative and powerful diaphoretic: but my province is to mention such particulars of its history as have come within my knowledge, leaving to others to investigate its most beneficial uses.

(*Footnote. The word kapur appears to be derived from the Sanskrit karpura, and the Arabic and Persian kafur (from whence our camphor) to have been adopted from the language of the country where the article is produced. Barus is the name of a place in Sumatra.)


The tree is a native of the northern parts of the island only, not being found to the southward of the line, nor yet beyond the third degree of north latitude. It grows without cultivation in the woods lying near to the sea-coast, and is equal in height and bulk to the largest timber trees, being frequently found upwards of fifteen feet in circumference.


For carpenters' purposes the wood is in much esteem, being easy to work, light, durable, and not liable to be injured by insects, particularly by the kumbang, a species of the bee, whose destructive perforations have been already mentioned; but is also said to be more affected than most others by the changes of the atmosphere. The leaf is small, of a roundish oval, the fibres running straight and parallel to each other, and terminates in a remarkably long and slender point. The flower has not yet been brought to England. The fruit is described by C.F. Gaertner (De Seminibus Volume 3 page 49 tab. 186) by the name of Dryobalanops aromatica, from specimens in the collection of Sir Joseph Banks; but he has unaccountably mistaken it for the cinnamon tree, and spoken of it as a native of Ceylon. It is also described, from the same specimens, by M. Correa de Serra (Annales du Museum d'Histoire Naturelle Tome 10 page 159 plate 8) by the name of Pterigium teres; without any reference whatever to the nature of the tree as yielding this valuable drug. A beautiful engraving of its very peculiar foliage has been made under the direction of Mr. A.B. Lambert.


The camphor is found in the concrete state in which we see it, in natural fissures or crevices of the wood, but does not exhibit any exterior appearance by which its existence can be previously ascertained, and the persons whose employment it is to collect it usually cut down a number of trees, almost at random, before they find one that contains a sufficient quantity to repay their labour, although always assisted in their research by a professional conjurer, whose skill must be chiefly employed in concealing or accounting for his own mistakes. It is said that not a tenth part of the number felled is productive either of camphor or of camphor-oil (meniak kapur), although the latter is less rare; and that parties of men are sometimes engaged for two or three months together in the forests, with very precarious success. This scarcity tends to enhance the price. The tree when cut down is divided transversely into several blocks, and these again are split with wedges into small pieces, from the interstices of which the camphor, if any there be, is extracted. That which comes away readily in large flakes, almost transparent, is esteemed the prime sort or head; the smaller, clean pieces are considered as belly, and the minute particles, chiefly scraped from the wood, and often mixed with it, are called foot; according to the customary terms adopted in the assortment of drugs. The mode of separating it from these and other impurities is by steeping and washing it in water, and sometimes with the aid of soap. It is then passed through sieves or screens of different apertures in order to make the assortment, so far as that depends upon the size of the grains; but much of the selection is also made by hand, and particular care is taken to distinguish from the more genuine kinds that which is produced by an artificial concretion of the essential oil.


The inquiries I formerly made on the subject (not having been myself in the district where the tree grows) led me to believe with confidence that the oil and the dry crystallized resin were not procured from the same individual tree; but in this I was first undeceived by Mr. R. Maidman, who in June 1788 wrote to me from Tappanuli, where he was resident, to the following effect:

I beg your acceptance of a piece of camphor-wood, the genuine quality of which I can answer for, being cut by one of my own people, who was employed in making charcoal, of which the best for smiths' work is made from this wood. On cutting deep into a pretty large tree the fine oil suddenly gushed out and was lost for want of a receiver. He felled the tree, and, having split it, brought me three or four catties (four or five pounds) of the finest camphor I ever saw, and also this log, which is very rich. My reason for being thus particular is that the country people have a method of pouring oil of inferior camphor-trees into a log of wood that has natural cracks, and, by exposing this to the sun every day for a week, it appears like genuine camphor; but is the worst sort.

This coexistence of the two products has been since confirmed to me by others, and is particularly stated by Mr. Macdonald in his ingenious paper on certain Natural Productions of Sumatra, published in the Asiatic Researches Volume 4 Calcutta 1795. It seems probable on the whole that, as the tree advances in age, a greater proportion of this essential oil takes a concrete form, and it has been observed to me that, when the fresh oil has been allowed to stand and settle, a sediment of camphor is procured; but the subject requires further examination by well-informed persons on the spot.


Head camphor is usually purchased from those who procure it at the rate of six Spanish dollars the pound, or eight dollars the catty, and sells in the China market at Canton for nine to twelve dollars the pound, or twelve to fifteen hundred dollars the pekul of a hundred catties or one hundred thirty-three pounds and a third, avoirdupois. When of superior quality it sells for two thousand dollars, and I have been assured that some small choice samples have produced upwards of thirty dollars per catty.* It is estimated that the whole quantity annually brought down for sale on the western side of the island does not exceed fifty pekul. The trade is chiefly in the hands of the Achinese settled at Sinkell, who buy the article from the Batta people and dispose of it to the Europeans and Chinese settlers.

(*Footnote. See Price Currents of the China trade. Camphor was purchased in Sumatra by Commodore Beaulieu in 1622 at the rate of fifteen Spanish dollars for twenty-eight ounces, which differs but little from the modern price. In the Transactions of the Society at Batavia it appears that the camphor of Borneo sells in their market for 3200 rix dollars, and that of Japan for 50 rix dollars the pekul.)


It has been commonly supposed that the people of China or Japan prepare a factitious substance resembling native camphor, and impregnated with its virtues by the admixture of a small quantity of the genuine, which is sold to the Dutch factory for thirty or forty dollars the pekul, sent to Holland, and afterwards refined to the state in which we see it in our shops, where it is sold at eight to twelve shillings the pound. It appears however an extraordinary circumstance that any article could possibly be so adulterated, bearing at the same time the likeness and retaining the sensible qualities of its original, as that the dealers should be enabled, with profit to themselves to resell it for the fiftieth part of the price they gave. But, upon inquiry of an ingenious person long resident in China, I learned that the Japan camphor is by no means a factitious substance, but the genuine produce of a tree growing in abundance in the latter country, different in every character from that of Sumatra or Borneo, and well known to our botanists by the name of Laurus camphora, L. He further informed me that the Chinese never mix the Sumatran camphor with that from Japan, but purchase the former for their own use, at the before-mentioned extravagant price, from an idea of its efficacy, probably superstitious, and export the latter as a drug not held in any particular estimation. Thus we buy the leaves of their tea-plant at a high rate and neglect herbs, the natives of our own soil, possessing perhaps equal virtues. It is known also that the Japan camphor, termed factitious, will evaporate till it wholly disappears, and at all stages of its diminution retain its full proportion of strength; which does not seem the property of an adulterated or compounded body. Kaempfer informs us that it is prepared from a decoction of the wood and roots of the tree cut into small pieces; and the form of the lumps in which it is brought to us shows that it has undergone a process. The Sumatran sort, though doubtless from its extreme volatility it must be subject to decrease, does not lose any very sensible quantity from being kept, as I find from the experience of many years that it has been in my possession. It probably may not be very easy to ascertain its superiority over the other in the materia medica, not being brought for sale to this country, nor generally administered; but from a medical person who practised at Bencoolen I learned that the usual dose he gave was from half a grain to one or two grains at the most. The oil, although hitherto of little importance as an article of commerce, is a valuable domestic medicine, and much used by the natives as well as Europeans in cases of strains, swellings, and rheumatic pains; its particles, from their extreme subtlety, readily entering the pores. It undergoes no preparation, and is used in the state in which, upon incision, it has distilled from the tree. The kayu putih (Melaleuca leucadendron) oil, which is somewhat better known in England, is obtained in the same manner; but to procure the meniak kayu or common wood-oil, used for preserving timber or boards exposed to the weather, from decay, and for boiling with dammar to pay the bottoms of ships and boats, the following method is practised. They make a transverse incision into the tree to the depth of some inches, and then cut sloping down from the notch, till they leave a flat superficies. This they hollow out to a capacity to receive about a quart. They then put into the hollow a bit of lighted reed, and let it remain for about ten minutes, which, acting as a stimulus, draws the fluid to that part. In the space of a night the liquor fills the receptacle prepared for it, and the tree continues to yield a lesser quantity for three successive nights, when the fire must be again applied: but on a few repetitions it is exhausted.


Benzoin or Benjamin (Styrax benzoin*) called by the Malays kami­nian, is, like the camphor, found almost exclusively in the Batta country, to the northward of the equator, but not in the Achinese dominions immediately beyond that district. It is also met with, though rarely, south of the line, but there, either from natural inferiority or want of skill in collecting it, the small quantity produced is black and of little value. The tree does not grow to any considerable size, and is of no value as timber. The seeds or nuts, which are round, of a brown colour, and about the size of a moderate bolus, are sown in the padi-fields and afterwards require no other cultivation than to clear away the shrubs from about the young plants. In some places, especially near the sea-coast, large plantations of it are formed, and it is said that the natives, sensible of the great advantage accruing to them from the trade, in a national point of view, oblige the proprietors, by legal regulation, to keep up the succession.

(*Footnote. See a Botanical Description of this tree by my friend Mr. Jonas Dryander, with a plate, in Volume 77 page 307 of the Philosophical Transactions for the year 1787.)


When the trees have attained the age of about seven years, and are six or eight inches in diameter, incisions are made in the bark, from whence the balsam or gum (as it is commonly termed, although being soluble in spirits and not in water, it is rather a resin) exudes, which is carefully pared off. The purest of the gum, or Head benzoin, is that which comes from these incisions during the first three years, and is white, inclining to yellow, soft, and fragrant; after which it gradually changes to the second sort, which is of a reddish yellow, degenerating to brown; and at length when the tree, which will not bear a repetition of the process for more than ten or twelve years, is supposed to be worn out, they cut it down, and when split in pieces procure, by scraping, the worst sort, or Foot benzoin, which is dark coloured, hard, and mixed more or less with parings of the wood and other impurities. The Head is further distinguished into Europe and India-head, of which the first is superior, and is the only sort adapted to the home market: the latter, with most of the inferior sorts, is exported to Arabia,* Persia, and some parts of India, where it is burned to perfume with its smoke their temples and private houses, expel troublesome insects, and obviate the pernicious effects of unwholesome air or noxious exhalations; in addition to which uses, in the Malayan countries, it is always considered as a necessary part of the apparatus in administering an oath. It is brought down from the country for sale in large cakes, called tampang, covered with mats; and these, as a staple commodity, are employed in their dealings for a standard of value, to which the price of other things have reference, as in most parts of the world to certain metals. In order to pack it in chests it is necessary to soften the coarser sorts with boiling water; for the finer it is sufficient to break the lumps and to expose it to the heat of the sun. The greater part of the quantity brought to England is re-exported from thence to countries where the Roman Catholic and Mahometan religions prevail, to be there burnt as incense in the churches and temples.** The remainder is chiefly employed in medicine, being much esteemed as an expectorant and styptic, and constitutes the basis of that valuable balsam distinguished by the name of Turlington, whose very salutary effects, particularly in healing green and other wounds, is well known to persons abroad who cannot always obtain surgical assistance. It is also employed, if I am not misinformed, in the preparation of court sticking-plaster. The gum or resin called dulang is named by us scented benzoin from its peculiar fragrance. The rasamala (Lignum papuanum of Rumphius, and Altingia excelsa of the Batavian Transactions) is a sort of wild benzoin, of little value, and not, in Sumatra, considered as an object of commerce.

(*Footnote. Les Arabes tirent beaucoup d'autres sortes d'encens de l'Habbesch, de Sumatra, Siam, Java, etc. et parmi celles-la une qu'ils appellent Bachor (bakhor) Java, et que les Anglois nomment Benzoin, est tres semblable a l'Oliban. On en exporte en grande quantite en Turquie parles golfes d'Arabie et de Perse, et la moindre des trois especes de Benzoin, que les marchands vendent, est estimee meilleure que l'Oliban d'Arabie. Niebuhr, Description de l'Arabie page 126.)
(**Footnote. According to Mr. Jackson the annual importation of Benzoin at Mogodor from London is about 13,000 pounds annually.)


Cassia or kulit manis (Laurus cassia) is a coarse species of cinnamon which flourishes chiefly, as well as the two foregoing articles, in the northern part of the island; but with this difference, that the camphor and benzoin grow only near the coast, whereas the cassia is a native of the central parts of the country. It is mostly procured in those districts which lie inland of Tapanuli, but it is also found in Musi, where Palembang River takes its rise. The leaves are about four inches long, narrower than the bay (to which tribe it belongs) and more pointed; deep green; smooth surface, and plain edge. The principal fibres take their rise from the peduncle. The young leaves are mostly of reddish hue. The blossoms grow six in number upon slender foot­stalks, close to the bottom of the leaf. They are monopetalous, small, white, stellated in six points. The stamina are six, with one stile, growing from the germen, which stands up in three brownish segments, resembling a cup. The trees grow from fifty to sixty feet high, with large, spreading, horizontal branches, almost as low as the earth. The root is said to contain much camphor that may be obtained by boiling or other processes unknown on Sumatra. No pains is bestowed on the cultivation of the cassia. The bark, which is the part in use, is commonly taken from such of the trees as are a foot or eighteen inches diameter, for when they are younger it is said to be so thin as to lose all its qualities very soon. The difference of soil and situation alters considerably the value of the bark. Those trees which grow in a high rocky soil have red shoots, and the bark is superior to that which is produced in a moist clay, where the shoots are green. I have been assured by a person of extensive knowledge that the cassia produced on Sumatra is from the same tree which yields the true cinnamon, and that the apparent difference arises from the less judicious manner of quilling it. Perhaps the younger and more tender branches should be preferred; perhaps the age of the tree or the season of the year ought to be more nicely attended to; and lastly I have known it to be suggested that the mucilaginous slime which adheres to the inside of the fresh peeled rind does, when not carefully wiped off, injure the flavour of the cassia and render it inferior to that of the cinnamon. I am informed that it has been purchased by Dutch merchants at our India sales, where it sometimes sold to much loss, and afterwards by them shipped for Spain as cinnamon, being packed in boxes which had come from Ceylon with that article. The price it bears in the island is about ten or twelve dollars the pecul.


Rattans or rotan (Calamus rotang) furnish annually many large cargoes, chiefly from the eastern side of the island, where the Dutch buy them to send to Europe; and the country traders for the western parts of India. Walking-canes, or tongkat, of various kinds, are also produced near the rivers which open to the straits of Malacca.


In almost every part of the country two species of cotton are cultivated, namely, the annual sort named kapas (Gossypium herbaceum), and the shrub cotton named kapas besar (Gossypium herboreum). The cotton produced from both appears to be of very good quality, and might, with encouragement, be procured in any quantities; but the natives raise no more than is necessary for their own domestic manufactures. The silk cotton or kapok (bombax) is also to be met with in every village. This is, to appearance, one of the most beautiful raw materials the hand of nature has presented. Its fineness, gloss, and delicate softness render it, to the sight and touch, much superior to the labour of the silkworm; but owing to the shortness and brittleness of the staple it is esteemed unfit for the reel and loom, and is only applied to the unworthy purpose of stuffing pillows and mattresses. Possibly it has not undergone a fair trial in the hands of our ingenious artists, and we may yet see it converted into a valuable manufacture. It grows in pods, from four to six inches long, which burst open when ripe. The seeds entirely resemble the black pepper, but are without taste. The tree is remarkable from the branches growing out perfectly straight and horizontal, and being always three, forming equal angles, at the same height: the diminutive shoots likewise grow flat; and the several gradations of branches observe the same regularity to the top. Some travellers have called it the umbrella tree, but the piece of furniture called a dumb-waiter exhibits a more striking picture of it.


The betel-nut or pinang (Areca catechu) before mentioned is a considerable article of traffic to the coast of Coromandel or Telinga, particularly from Achin.


The coffee-trees are universally planted, but the fruit produced here is not excellent in quality, which is probably owing entirely to the want of skill in the management of them. The plants are disposed too close to each other, and are so much overshaded by other trees that the sun cannot penetrate to the fruit; owing to which the juices are not well ripened, and the berries, which become large, do not acquire a proper flavour. Add to this that the berries are gathered whilst red, which is before they have arrived at a due degree of maturity, and which the Arabs always permit them to attain to, esteeming it essential to the goodness of the coffee. As the tree is of the same species with that cultivated in Arabia there is little doubt but with proper care this article might be produced of a quality equal, perhaps superior, to that imported from the West Indies; though probably the heavy rains on Sumatra may prevent its attaining to the perfection of the coffee of Mocha.*

(*Footnote. For these observations on the growth of the coffee, as well as many others on the vegetable productions of the island, I am indebted to the letters of Mr. Charles Miller, entered on the Company's records at Bencoolen, and have to return him my thanks for many communications since his return to England. On the subject of this article of produce I have since received the following interesting information from the late Mr. Charles Campbell in a letter dated November 1803. "The coffee you recollect on this coast I found so degenerated from want of culture and care as not to be worth the rearing. But this objection has been removed, for more than three years ago I procured twenty-five plants from Mocha; they produced fruit in about twenty months, are now in their second crop, and loaded beyond any fruit-trees I ever saw. The average produce is about eight pounds a tree; but so much cannot be expected in extensive plantations, nor in every soil. The berries are in no respect inferior in flavour to those of the parent country." This cultivation, I am happy to hear, has since been carried to a great extent.)

Sinensis delt. Swaine Sc.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.


The dammar is a kind of turpentine or resin from a species of pine, and used for the same purposes to which that and pitch are applied. It is exported in large quantities to Bengal and elsewhere. It exudes, or flows rather, spontaneously from the tree in such plenty that there is no need of making incisions to procure it. The natives gather it in lumps from the ground where it has fallen, or collect it from the shores of bays and rivers whither it has floated. It hangs from the bough of the tree which produces it in large pieces, and hardening in the air it becomes brittle and is blown off by the first high wind. When a quantity of it has fallen in the same place it appears like a rock, and thence, they say, or more probably from its hardness, it is called dammar batu; by which name it is distinguished from the dammar kruyen. This is another species of turpentine, yielded by a tree growing in Lampong, called kruyen, the wood of which is white and porous. It differs from the common sort, or dammar batu, in being soft and whitish, having the consistence and somewhat the appearance of putty. It is in much estimation for paying the bottoms of vessels, for which use, to give it firmness and duration, it ought to be mixed with some of the hard kind, of which it corrects the brittleness. The natives, in common, do not boil it, but rub or smear it on with their hands; a practice which is probably derived from indolence, unless, as I have been informed, that boiling it, without oil, renders it hard. To procure it, an incision is made in the tree.


Dragons-blood, Sanguis draconis, or jaranang, is a drug obtained from a large species of rattan, called rotan jaranang, growing abundantly in the countries of Palembang and Jambi, where it is manufactured and exported, in the first instance to Batavia, and from thence to China, where it is held in much estimation; but whether it be precisely the drug of our shops, so named, I cannot take upon me to determine. I am informed that it is prepared in the following manner: the stamina and other parts of fructification of this plant, covered with the farina, are mixed with a certain proportion of white dammar, and boiled in water until the whole is well incorporated, and the water evaporated; by which time the composition has acquired a red colour, and, when rubbed between the fingers, comes off in a dry powder. Whilst soft, it is usually poured into joints of small bamboo, and shipped in that state. According to this account, which I received from my friend Mr. Philip Braham, who had an opportunity of acquiring a knowledge of the process, the resinous quality of the drug belongs only to the dammar, and not to the rotan.


Gambir, or gatah gambir, is a juice extracted from the leaves of a plant of that name, inspissated by decoction, strained, suffered to cool and harden, and then cut into cakes of different shapes, or formed into balls. It is very generally eaten by the natives with their sirih or betel, and is supposed to have the property of cleansing and sweetening the mouth; for which reason it is also rubbed to the gums of infants. For a minute detail of the culture and manufacture of this article at Malacca see the Batavian Transactions Volume 2 page 356, where the plant is classed between the portlandia and roella of L. In other places it is obtained from a climbing or trailing plant, evidently the Funis uncatus of Rumphius.* See also Observations on the Nauclea Gambir, by Mr. W. Hunter, in the Linnean Transactions Volume 9 page 218. At Siak, Kampar, and Indragiri, on the eastern side of Sumatra, it is an important article of commerce.

(*Footnote. Hoc unum adhuc addendum est, in Sumatra nempe ac forte in Java aliam quoque esse plantam repentem gatta gambir akar dictam, qum forte unae eaedemque erunt plantae; ac verbum akar Malaiensibus denotat non tantum radicem, sed repentem quoque fruticem. Volume 5 page 64.)


The agallochin, agila-wood, or lignum aloes, called by the natives kalambak and kayu gahru, is highly prized in all parts of the East, for the fragrant scent it emits in burning. I find these two names used indiscriminately in Malayan writings, and sometimes coupled together; but Valentyn pronounces the gahru to be an inferior species, and the Batavian Catalogue describes it as the heart of the rasamala, and different from the genuine kalambak. This unctuous substance, which burns like a resin, is understood to be the decayed, and probably disordered, part of the tree. It is described by Kaempfer (Amaenit page 903) under the Chinese name of sinkoo, and by Dr. Roxburgh under that of Aquillaria agallocha.


The forests contain an inexhaustible store and endless variety of timber trees, many sorts of which are highly valuable and capable of being applied to ship-building and other important purposes. On the western coast the general want of navigable rivers has materially hindered both the export and the employment of timber; but those on the eastern side, particularly Siak, have heretofore supplied the city of Batavia with great abundance, and latterly the naval arsenal at Pulo Pinang with what is required for the construction of ships of war.


The teak however, the pride of Indian forests, called by the Malays jati (Tectona grandis, L.), does not appear to be indigenous to this island, although flourishing to the northward and southward of it, in Pegu and Java; and I believe it is equally a stranger to the Malayan peninsula. Attempts have been made by the servants of the Company to promote its cultivation. Mr. Robert Hay had a plantation near Bencoolen, but the situation seemed unfavourable. Mr. John Marsden, when resident of Laye in the year 1776, sowed some seeds of it, and distributed a quantity amongst the inhabitants of his district. The former, at least, throve exceedingly, as if in their natural soil. The appearance of the tree is stately, the leaves are broad and large, and they yield, when squeezed, a red juice. The wood is well known to be, in many respects, preferable to oak, working more kindly, surpassing it in durability, and having the peculiar property of preserving the iron bolts driven into it from rust; a property that may be ascribed to the essential oil or tar contained in it, and which has lately been procured from it in large quantities by distillation at Bombay. Many ships built at that place have continued to swim so long that none could recollect the period at which they were launched.


For masts and yards the wood preferred is the red bintangur (a species of uvaria), which in all the maritime parts of India has obtained the name of poon or puhn, from the Malayan word signifying tree in general; as puhn upas, the poison-tree, puhn kayu, a timber-tree, etc.

The camphor-wood, so useful for carpenters' purposes, has been already mentioned.

Kayu pindis or kapini (species of metrosideros), is named also kayu besi, or iron-wood, on account of its extraordinary hardness, which turns the edge of common tools.

Marbau (Metrosideros amboinensis, R.) grows to a large size, and is used for beams both in ship and house­building, as well as for other purposes to which oak is applied in Europe. Pinaga is valuable as crooked timber, and used for frames and knees of ships, being also very durable. It frequently grows in the wash of the sea.

Juar, ebony, called in the Batavian Catalogue kayu arang, or charcoal-wood, is found here in great plenty.

Kayu gadis, a wood possessing the flavour and qualities of the sassafras, and used for the same purposes in medicine, but in the growth of the tree resembling rather our elm than the laurus (to which latter tribe the American sassafras belongs), is very common in the plains near Bencoolen.

Kayu arau (Casuarina littorea) is often termed a bastard-pine, and as such gave name to the Isle of Pines discovered by Captain Cook. By the Malays it is usually called kayu chamara, from the resemblance of its branches to the ornamental cowtails of Upper India. It has been already remarked of this tree, whose wood is not particularly useful, that it delights in a low sandy soil, and is ever the first that springs up from land relinquished by the sea.

The rangas or rungi, commonly supposed to be the manchineel of the West Indies, but perhaps only from the noxious quality of its juices, is the Arbor vernicis of Rumphius, and particularly described in the Batavian Transactions Volume 5 under the name of Manga deleteria sylvestris, fructu parvo cordiformi. In a list of plants in the same volume, by F. Norona, it is termed Anacardium encardium. The wood has some resemblance to mahogany, is worked up into articles of furniture, and resists the destructive ravages of the white ant, but its hardness and acrid sap, which blisters the hands of those employed about it, are objections to its general use. I am not aware of the natives procuring a varnish from this tree.

Of the various sorts of tree producing dammar, some are said to be valuable as timber, particularly the species called dammar laut, not mentioned by Rumphius, which is employed at Pulo Pinang for frame timbers of ships, beams, and knees.

Kamuning (camunium, R. chalcas paniculata, Lour.) is a light-coloured wood, close, and finely grained, takes an exquisite polish, and is used for the sheaths of krises. There is also a red-grained sort, in less estimation. The appearance of the tree is very beautiful, resembling in its leaves the larger myrtle, with a white flower.

The langsani likewise is a wood handsomely veined, and is employed for cabinet and carved work.

Beside these the kinds of wood most in use are the madang, ballam, maranti, laban, and marakuli. The variety is much greater, but many, from their porous nature and proneness to decay, are of very little value, and scarcely admit of seasoning before they become rotten.

I cannot quit the vegetable kingdom without noticing a tree which, although of no use in manufacture or commerce, not peculiar to the island, and has been often described, merits yet, for its extreme singularity, that it should not be passed over in silence. This is the jawi-jawi and ulang-ulang of the Malays, the banyan tree of the continent, the Grossularia domestica of Rumphius, and the Ficus indica or Ficus racemosa of Linnaeus. It possesses the uncommon property of dropping roots or fibres from certain parts of its boughs, which, when they touch the earth, become new stems, and go on increasing to such an extent that some have measured, in circumference of the branches, upwards of a thousand feet, and have been said to afford shelter to a troop of horse.* These fibres, that look like ropes attached to the branches, when they meet with any obstruction in their descent conform themselves to the shape of the resisting body, and thus occasion many curious metamorphoses. I recollect seeing them stand in the perfect shape of a gate long after the original posts and cross piece had decayed and disappeared; and I have been told of their lining the internal circumference of a large bricked well, like the worm in a distiller's tub; there exhibiting the view of a tree turned inside out, the branches pointing to the centre, instead of growing from it. It is not more extraordinary in its manner of growth than whimsical and fantastic in its choice of situations. From the side of a wall or the top of a house it seems to spring spontaneously. Even from the smooth surface of a wooden pillar, turned and painted, I have seen it shoot forth, as if the vegetative juices of the seasoned timber had renewed their circulation and begun to produce leaves afresh. I have seen it flourish in the centre of a hollow tree of a very different species, which however still retained its verdure, its branches encompassing those of the adventitious plant whilst its decayed trunk enclosed the stem, which was visible, at interstices, from nearly the level of the plain on which they grew. This in truth appeared so striking a curiosity that I have often repaired to the spot to contemplate the singularity of it. How the seed from which it is produced happens to occupy stations seemingly so unnatural is not easily determined. Some have imagined the berries carried thither by the wind, and others, with more appearance of truth, by the birds; which, cleansing their bills where they light, or attempt to light, leave, in those places, the seeds adhering by the viscous matter which surrounds them. However this be, the jawi-jawi, growing on buildings without earth or water, and deriving from the genial atmosphere its principle of nourishment, proves in its increasing growth highly destructive to the fabric where it is harboured; for the fibrous roots, which are at first extremely fine, penetrate common cements, and, overcoming as their size enlarges the most powerful resistance, split, with the force of the mechanic wedge, the most substantial brickwork. When the consistence is such as not to admit the insinuation of the fibres the root extends itself along the outside, and to an extraordinary length, bearing not unfrequently to the stem the proportion of eight to one when young. I have measured the former sixty inches, when the latter, to the extremity of the leaf, which took up a third part, was no more than eight inches. I have also seen it wave its boughs at the apparent height of two hundred feet, of which the roots, if we may term them such, occupied at least one hundred; forming by their close combination the appearance of a venerable gothic pillar. It stood near the plains of Krakap, but, like other monuments of antiquity, it had its period of existence, and is now no more.

(*Footnote. The following is an account of the dimensions of a remarkable banyan or burr tree, near Manjee, twenty miles west of Patna in Bengal. Diameter 363 to 375 feet. Circumference of shadow at noon 1116 feet. Circumference of the several stems, in number fifty or sixty, 921 feet. Under this tree sat a naked Fakir, who had occupied that situation for twenty-five years; but he did not continue there the whole year through, for his vow obliged him to lie, during the four cold months, up to his neck in the waters of the river Ganges.)


Published by W. Marsden, 1810.




Beside those articles of trade afforded by the vegetable kingdom Sumatra produces many others, the chief of which is gold. This valuable metal is found mostly in the central parts of the island; none (or with few exceptions) being observed to the southward of Limun, a branch of Jambi River, nor to the northward of Nalabu, from which port Achin is principally supplied. Menangkabau has always been esteemed the richest seat of it; and this consideration probably induced the Dutch to establish their head factory at Padang, in the immediate neighbourhood of that kingdom. Colonies of Malays from thence have settled themselves in almost all the districts where gold is procured, and appear to be the only persons who dig for it in mines, or collect it in streams; the proper inhabitants or villagers confining their attention to the raising of provisions, with which they supply those who search for the metal. Such at least appears to be the case in Limun, Batang Asei, and Pakalang jambu, where a considerable gold trade is carried on.

It has been generally understood at the English settlements that earth taken up from the beds of rivers, or loosened from the adjacent banks, and washed by means of rivulets diverted towards the newly-opened ground, furnishes the greater proportion of the gold found in the island, and that the natives are not accustomed to venture upon any excavation that deserves the name of mining; but our possession, during the present war, of the settlements that belonged to the Dutch, has enabled us to form juster notions on the subject, and the following account, obtained from well-informed persons on the spot, will show the methods pursued in both processes, and the degree of enterprise and skill employed by the workmen.

In the districts situated inland of Padang, which is the principal mart for this article, little is collected otherwise than from mines (tambang) by people whose profession it is to work them, and who are known by the appellation of orang gulla. The metal brought down for sale is for the most part of two sorts, distinguished by the terms amas supayang and amas sungei-abu, from the names of places where they are respectively procured. The former is what we usually call rock-gold, consisting of pieces of quartz more or less intermixed with veins of gold, generally of fine quality, running through it in all directions, and forming beautiful masses, which, being admired by Europeans, are sometimes sold by weight as if the whole were solid metal. The mines yielding this sort are commonly situated at the foot of a mountain, and the shafts are driven horizontally to the extent of from eight to twenty fathoms. The gold to which sungei-abu gives name is on the contrary found in the state of smooth solid lumps, in shape like gravel, and of various sizes, the largest lump that I have seen weighing nine ounces fifteen grains, and one in my possession (for which I am indebted to Mr. Charles Holloway) weighing eight grains less than nine ounces. This sort is also termed amas lichin or smooth gold, and appears to owe that quality to its having been exposed, in some prior state of the soil or conformation of the earth, to the action of running water, and deprived of its sharp and rough edges by attrition. This form of gravel is the most common in which gold is discovered. Gold-dust or amas urei is collected either in the channels of brooks running over ground rich in the metal, in standing pools of water occasioned by heavy rains, or in a number of holes dug in a situation to which a small rapid stream can be directed.

The tools employed in working the mines are an iron crow three feet in length, called tabah, a shovel called changkul, and a heavy iron mallet or hammer, the head of which is eighteen inches in length and as thick as a man's leg, with a handle in the middle. With this they beat the lumps of rock till they are reduced to powder, and the pounded mass is then put into a sledge or tray five or six feet long and one and a half broad, in the form of a boat, and thence named bidu. To this vessel a rope of iju is attached, by which they draw it when loaded out of the horizontal mine to the nearest place where they can meet with a supply of water, which alone is employed to separate the gold from the pulverized quartz.

In the perpendicular mines the smooth or gravel-gold is often found near the surface, but in small quantities, improving as the workmen advance, and again often vanishing suddenly. This they say is most likely to be the case when after pursuing a poor vein they suddenly come to large lumps. When they have dug to the depth of four, six, or sometimes eight fathoms (which they do at a venture, the surface not affording any indications on which they can depend), they work horizontally, supporting the shaft with timbers; but to persons acquainted with the berg-werken of Germany or Hungary, these pits would hardly appear to merit the appellation of mines.* In Siberia however, as in Sumatra, the hills yield their gold by slightly working them. Sand is commonly met with at the depth of three or four fathoms, and beneath this a stratum of napal or steatite, which is considered as a sign that the metal is near; but the least fallible mark is a red stone, called batu kawi, lying in detached pieces. It is mostly found in red and white clay, and often adhering to small stones, as well as in homogeneous lumps. The gold is separated from the clay by means of water poured on a hollow board, in the management of which the persons employed are remarkably expert.

(*Footnote. It has been observed to me that it is not so much the want of windlasses or machines (substitutes for which they are ready enough at contriving) that prevents excavation to a great depth as the apprehension of earthquakes, the effect of which has frequently been to overwhelm them before they could escape even from their shallow mines.)

In these perpendicular mines the water is drawn off by hand in pails or buckets. In the horizontal they make two shafts or entries in a direction parallel to each other, as far as they mean to extend the work, and there connect them by a cross trench. One of these, by a difference in their respective levels, serves as a drain to carry off the water, whilst the other is kept dry. They work in parties of from four or five to forty or fifty in number; the proprietor of the ground receiving one half of the produce and the undertakers the other; and it does not appear that the prince receives any established royalty. The hill people affect a kind of independence or equality which they express by the term of sama rata.

It may well be imagined that mines of this description are very numerous, and in the common estimation of the natives they amount to no fewer than twelve hundred in the dominions of Menangkabau. A considerable proportion of their produce (perhaps one half) never comes into the hands of Europeans but is conveyed to the eastern side of the island, and yet I have been assured on good authority that from ten to twelve thousand ounces have annually been received, on public and private account, at Padang alone; at Nalabu about two thousand, Natal eight hundred, and Moco-moco six hundred. The quality of the gold collected in the Padang districts is inferior to that purchased at Natal and Moco-moco, in consequence of the practice of blending together the unequal produce of such a variety of mines which in other parts it is customary to keep distinct. The gold from the former is of the fineness of from nineteen to twenty-one, and from the latter places is generally of from twenty-two to twenty-three carats. The finest that has passed through my hands was twenty-three carats, one grain and a half, assayed at the Tower of London. Gold of an inferior touch, called amas muda from the paleness of its colour, is found in the same countries where the other is produced. I had some assayed which was two carats three grains worse than standard, and contained an alloy of silver, but not in a proportion to be affected by the acids. I have seen gold brought from Mampawah in Borneo which was in the state of a fine uniform powder, high-coloured, and its degree of fineness not exceeding fifteen or sixteen carats. The natives suppose these differences to proceed from an original essential inferiority of the metal, not possessing the art of separating it from the silver or copper. In this island it is never found in the state of ore, but is always completely metallic. A very little pale gold is now and then found in the Lampong country.

Of those who dig for it the most intelligent, distinguished by the name of sudagar or merchants, are intrusted by the rest with their collections, who carry the gold to the places of trade on the great eastern rivers, or to the settlements on the west coast, where they barter it for iron (of which large quantities are consumed in tools for working the mines), opium, and the fine piece-goods of Madras and Bengal with which they return heavily loaded to their country. In some parts of the journey they have the convenience of water-carriage on lakes and rivers; but in others they carry on their backs a weight of about eighty pounds through woods, over streams, and across mountains, in parties generally of one hundred or more, who have frequent occasion to defend their property against the spirit of plunder and extortion which prevails among the poorer nations through whose districts they are obliged to pass. Upon the proposal of striking out any new road the question always asked by these intermediate people is, apa ontong kami, what is to be our advantage?


When brought to our settlements it was formerly purchased at the rate of eighteen Spanish dollars the tail, or about three pounds five shillings the ounce, but in later times it has risen to twenty-one dollars, or to three pounds eighteen shillings the ounce. Upon exportation to Europe therefore it scarcely affords a profit to the original buyer, and others who employ it as a remittance incur a loss when insurance and other incidental charges are deducted. A duty of five per cent which it had been customary to charge at the East India-house was, about twenty years ago, most liberally remitted by the Company upon a representation made by me to the Directors of the hardship sustained in this respect by its servants at Fort Marlborough, and the public benefit that would accrue from giving encouragement to the importation of bullion. The long continuance of war and peculiar risk of Indian navigation resulting from it may probably have operated to counteract these good effects.

It has generally been thought surprising that the European Companies who have so long had establishments in Sumatra should not have considered it an object to work these mines upon a regular system, with proper machinery, and under competent inspection; but the attempt has in fact been made, and experience and calculation may have taught them that it is not a scheme likely to be attended with success, owing among other causes to the dearness of labour, and the necessity it would occasion for keeping up a force in distant parts of the country for the protection of the persons engaged and the property collected. Europeans cannot be employed upon such work in that climate, and the natives are unfit for (nor would they submit to) the laborious exertion required to render the undertaking profitable. A detailed and in many respects interesting account of the working a gold mine at Sileda, with a plate representing a section of the mine, is given by Elias Hesse,* who in the year 1682 accompanied the Bergh-Hoofdman, Benj. Olitzsch, and a party of miners from Saxony, sent out by the Dutch East India Company for that purpose. The superintendent, with most of his people, lost their lives, and the undertaking failed. It is said at Padang that the metal proved to be uncommonly poor. Many years later trial was made of a vein running close to that settlement; but the returns not being adequate to the expense it was let to farm, and in a few years fell into such low repute as to be at length disposed of by public auction at a rent of two Spanish dollars.** The English company, also having intelligence of a mine said to be discovered near Fort Marlborough, gave orders for its being worked; but if it ever existed no trace now remains.

(*Footnote. Ost-Indische Reise-beschreibung oder Diarium. Leipzig 1690 octavo. See also J.W. Vogel's Ost-Indianische Reise-beschreibung. Altenburg 1704 octavo.)
(**Footnote. The following is an extract of a letter from Mr. James Moore, a servant of the Company, dated from Padang in 1778. "They have lately opened a vein of gold in the country inland of this place, from which the governor at one time received a hundred and fifty tials (two hundred ounces). He has procured a map to be made of a particular part of the gold country, which points out the different places where they work for it; and also the situation of twenty-one Malay forts, all inhabited and in repair. These districts are extremely populous compared to the more southern part of the island. They collect and export annually to Batavia about two thousand five hundred tials of gold from this place: the quantity never exceeds three thousand tials nor falls short of two thousand." This refers to the public export on the Company's account, which agrees with what is stated in the Batavian Transactions. "In een goed Jaar geeven de Tigablas cottas omtrent 3000 Thail, zynde 6 Thail een Mark, dus omtrent 500 Mark Goud, van 't gchalte van 19 tot 20 carat.")

Before the gold dust is weighed for sale, in order to cleanse it from all impurities and heterogeneous mixtures, whether natural or fraudulent, (such as filings of copper or of iron) a skilful person is employed who, by the sharpness of his eye and long practice, is able to effect this to a surprising degree of nicety. The dust is spread out on a kind of wooden platter, and the base particles (lanchong) are touched out from the mass and put aside one by one with an instrument, if such it may be termed, made of cotton cloth rolled up to a point. If the honesty of these gold­cleaners can be depended upon their dexterity is almost infallible; and as some check upon the former it is usual to pour the contents of each parcel when thus cleansed into a vessel of aqua-fortis, which puts their accuracy to the test. The parcels or bulses in which the gold is packed up are formed of the integument that covers the heart of the buffalo. This has the appearance of bladder, but is both tougher and more pliable. In those parts of the country where the traffic in the article is considerable it is generally employed as currency instead of coin; every man carries small scales about him, and purchases are made with it so low as to the weight of a grain or two of padi. Various seeds are used as gold weights, but more especially these two: the one called rakat or saga-timbangan (Glycine abrus L. or Abrus maculatus of the Batavian Transactions) being the well-known scarlet pea with a black spot, twenty-four of which constitute a mas, and sixteen mas a tail: the other called saga­puhn and kondori batang (Adenanthera pavonia, L.), a scarlet or rather coral bean, much larger than the former and without the black spot. It is the candarin-weight of the Chinese, of which a hundred make a tail, and equal, according to the tables published by Stevens, to 5.7984 gr. troy; but the average weight of those in my possession is 10.50 grains. The tail differs however in the northern and southern parts of the island, being at Natal twenty-four pennyweights nine grains, and at Padang, Bencoolen, and elsewhere, twenty-six pennyweights twelve grains. At Achin the bangkal of thirty pennyweights twenty-one grains, is the standard. Spanish dollars are everywhere current, and accounts are kept in dollars, sukus (imaginary quarter-dollars) and kepping or copper cash, of which four hundred go to the dollar. Beside these there are silver fanams, single, double, and treble (the latter called tali) coined at Madras, twenty-four fanams or eight talis being equal to the Spanish dollar, which is always valued in the English settlements at five shillings sterling. Silver rupees have occasionally been struck in Bengal for the use of the settlements on the coast of Sumatra, but not in sufficient quantities to become a general currency; and in the year 1786 the Company contracted with the late Mr. Boulton of Soho for a copper coinage, the proportions of which I was desired to adjust, as well as to furnish the inscriptions; and the same system, with many improvements suggested by Mr. Charles Wilkins, has since been extended to the three Presidencies of India. At Achin small thin gold and silver coins were formerly struck and still are current; but I have not seen any of the pieces that bore the appearance of modern coinage; nor am I aware that this right of sovereignty is exercised by any other power in the island.


Tin, called timar, is a very considerable article of trade, and many cargoes of it are yearly carried to China, where the consumption is chiefly for religious purposes. The mines are situated in the island of Bangka, lying near Palembang, and are said to have been accidentally discovered there in 1710, by the burning of a house. They are worked by a colony of Chinese (said in the Batavian Transactions to consist of twenty-five thousand persons) under the nominal direction of the king of Palembang, but for the account and benefit of the Dutch Company, which has endeavoured to monopolize the trade, and actually obtained two millions of pounds yearly; but the enterprising spirit of private merchants, chiefly English and American, finds means to elude the vigilance of its cruisers, and the commerce is largely participated by them. It is exported for the most part in small pieces or cakes called tampang, and sometimes in slabs. M. Sonnerat reports that this tin (named calin by the French writers), was analysed by M. Daubenton, who found it to be the same metal as that produced in England; but it sells something higher than our grain-tin. In different parts of Sumatra, there are indications of tin-earth, or rather sand, and it is worked at the mountain of Sungei-pagu, but not to any great extent. Of this sand, at Bangka, a pikul, or 133 pounds is said to yield about 75 pounds of the metal.


A rich mine of copper is worked at Mukki near Labuan-haji, by the Achinese. The ore produces half its original weight in pure metal, and is sold at the rate of twenty dollars the pikul. A lump which I deposited in the Museum of the East India Company is pronounced to be native copper. The Malays are fond of mixing this metal with gold in equal quantities, and using the composition, which they name swasa, in the manufacture of buttons, betel-boxes, and heads of krises. I have never heard silver spoken of as a production of this part of the East.


Iron ore is dug at a place named Turawang, in the eastern part of Menangkabau, and there smelted, but not, I apprehend, in large quantities, the consumption of the natives being amply supplied with English and Swedish bar-iron, which they are in the practice of purchasing by measure instead of weight.


Sulphur (balerang), as has been mentioned, is abundantly procured from the numerous volcanoes, and especially from that very great one which is situated about a day's journey inland from Priaman. Yellow Arsenic (barangan) is also an article of traffic.


In the country of Kattaun, near the head of Urei River, there are extensive caves (goha) from the soil of which saltpetre (mesiyu mantah) is extracted. M. Whalfeldt, who was employed as a surveyor, visited them in March 1773. Into one he advanced seven hundred and forty­three feet, when his lights were extinguished by the damp vapour. Into a second he penetrated six hundred feet, when, after getting through a confined passage about three feet wide and five in height, an opening in the rock led to a spacious place forty feet high. The same caves were visited by Mr. Christopher Terry and Mr. Charles Miller. They are the habitation of innumerable birds, which are perceived to abound the more the farther you proceed. Their nests are formed about the upper parts of the cave, and it is thought to be their dung simply that forms the soil (in many places from four to six feet deep, and from fifteen to twenty broad) which affords the nitre. A cubic foot of this earth, measuring seven gallons, produced on boiling seven pounds fourteen ounces of saltpetre, and a second experiment gave a ninth part more. This I afterwards saw refined to a high degree of purity; but I conceive that its value would not repay the expense of the process.


The edible birds-nest, so much celebrated as a peculiar luxury of the table, especially amongst the Chinese, is found in similar caves in different parts of the island, but chiefly near the sea-coast, and in the greatest abundance at its southern extremity. Four miles up the river Kroi there is one of considerable size. The birds are called layang-layang, and resemble the common swallow, or perhaps rather the martin. I had an opportunity of giving to the British Museum some of these nests with the eggs in them. They are distinguished into white and black, of which the first are by far the more scarce and valuable, being found in the proportion of one only to twenty-five. The white sort sells in China at the rate of a thousand to fifteen hundred dollars the pikul (according to the Batavian Transactions for nearly its weight in silver), the black is usually disposed of at Batavia at about twenty or thirty dollars for the same weight, where I understand it is chiefly converted into a kind of glue. The difference between the two sorts has by some been supposed to be owing to the mixture of the feathers of the birds with the viscous substance of which the nests are formed; and this they deduce from the experiment of steeping the black nests for a short time in hot water, when they are said to become white to a certain degree. Among the natives I have heard a few assert that they are the work of a different species of bird. It was also suggested to me that the white might probably be the recent nests of the season in which they were taken, and the black such as had been used for several years successively. This opinion appearing plausible, I was particular in my inquiries as to that point, and learned what seems much to corroborate it. When the natives prepare to take the nests they enter the cave with torches, and, forming ladders of bamboos notched according to the usual mode, they ascend and pull down the nests, which adhere in numbers together, from the sides and top of the rock. I was informed that the more regularly the cave is thus stripped the greater proportion of white nests they are sure to find, and that on this experience they often make a practice of beating down and destroying the old nests in larger quantities than they trouble themselves to carry away, in order that they may find white nests the next season in their room. The birds, I am assured, are seen, during the building time, in large flocks upon the beach, collecting in their beaks the foam thrown up by the surf, of which there appears little doubt of their constructing their gelatinous nests, after it has undergone, perhaps, some preparation from commixture with their saliva or other secretion in the beak or the craw; and that this is the received opinion of the natives appears from the bird being very commonly named layang-buhi, the foam-swallow. Linnaeus however has conjectured, and with much plausibility, that it is the animal substance frequently found on the beach which fishermen call blubber or jellies, and not the foam of the sea, that these birds collect; and it is proper to mention that, in a Description of these Nests by M. Hooyman, printed in Volume 3 of the Batavian Transactions, he is decidedly of opinion that the substance of them has nothing to do with the sea-foam but is elaborated from the food of the bird. Mr. John Crisp informed me that he had seen at Padang a common swallow's nest, built under the eaves of a house, which was composed partly of common mud and partly of the substance that constitutes the edible nests. The young birds themselves are said to be very delicate food, and not inferior in richness of flavour to the beccafico.


The swala, tripan, or sea-slug (holothurion), is likewise an article of trade to Batavia and China, being employed, as birds-nest or vermicelli, for enriching soups and stews, by a luxurious people. It sells at the former place for forty-five dollars per pikul, according to the degree of whiteness and other qualities.


Beeswax is a commodity of great importance in all the eastern islands, from whence it is exported in large oblong cakes to China, Bengal, and other parts of the continent. No pains are taken with the bees, which are left to settle where they list (generally on the boughs of trees) and are never collected in hives. Their honey is much inferior to that of Europe, as might be expected from the nature of the vegetation.


Gum-lac, called by the natives ampalu or ambalu, although found upon trees and adhering strongly to the branches, is known to be the work of insects, as wax is of the bee. It is procured in small quantities from the country inland of Bencoolen; but at Padang is a considerable article of trade. Foreign markets however are supplied from the countries of Siam and Camboja. It is chiefly valued in Sumatra for the animal part, found in the nidus of the insect, which is soluble in water, and yields a very fine purple dye, used for colouring their silks and other webs of domestic manufacture. Like the cochineal it would probably, with the addition of a solution of tin, become a good scarlet. I find in a Bisayan dictionary that this substance is employed by the people of the Philippine Islands for staining their teeth red. For an account of the lac insect see in the Philosophical Transactions Volume 71 page 374 a paper by Mr. James Kerr.


The forests abounding with elephants, ivory (gading) is consequently found in abundance, and is carried both to the China and Europe markets. The animals themselves were formerly the objects of a considerable traffic from Achin to the coast of Coromandel, or kling country, and vessels were built expressly for their transport; but it has declined, or perhaps ceased altogether, from the change which the system of warfare has undergone, since the European tactics have been imitated by the princes of India.


The large roes of a species of fish (said to be like the shad, but more probably of the mullet-kind) taken in great quantities at the mouth of Siak River, are salted and exported from thence to all the Malayan countries, where they are eaten with boiled rice, and esteemed a delicacy. This is the botarga of the Italians, and here called trobo and telur-trobo.


The most general articles of import-trade are the following:

From the coast of Coromandel various cotton goods, as long-cloth, blue and white, chintz, and coloured handkerchiefs, of which those manufactured at Pulicat are the most prized; and salt.

From Bengal muslins, striped and plain, and several other kinds of cotton goods, as cossaes, baftaes, hummums, etc., taffetas and some other silks; and opium in considerable quantities.

From the Malabar coast various cotton goods, mostly of a coarse raw fabric.

From China coarse porcelain, kwalis or iron pans, in sets of various sizes, tobacco shred very fine, gold thread, fans, and a number of small articles.

From Celebes (known here by the names of its chief provinces, Mangkasar, Bugis, and Mandar), Java, Balli, Ceram, and other eastern islands, the rough, striped cotton cloth called kain-sarong, or vulgarly bugis-clouting, being the universal body-dress of the natives; krises and other weapons, silken kris-belts, tudongs or hats, small pieces of ordnance, commonly of brass, called rantaka, spices, and also salt of a large grain, and sometimes rice, chiefly from Balli.

From Europe silver, iron, steel, lead, cutlery, various sorts of hardware, brass wire, and broadcloths, especially scarlet.

It is not within my plan to enlarge on this subject by entering into a detail of the markets for, or prices of, the several articles, which are extremely fluctuating, according to the more or less abundant or scanty supply. Most of the kinds of goods above enumerated are incidentally mentioned in other parts of the work, as they happen to be connected with the account of the natives who purchase them.




I shall now take a view of those arts and manufactures which the Sumatrans are skilled in, and which are not merely domestic but contribute rather to the conveniences, and in some instances to the luxuries, than to the necessaries of life. I must remind the reader that my observations on this subject are mostly drawn from the Rejangs, or those people of the island who are upon their level of improvement. We meet with accounts in old writers of great foundries of cannon in the dominion of Achin, and it is certain that firearms as well as krises are at this day manufactured in the country of Menangkabau; but my present description does not go to these superior exertions of art, which certainly do not appear among those people of the island whose manners, more immediately, I am attempting to delineate.


What follows, however, would seem an exception to this limitation; there being no manufacture in that part of the world, and perhaps I might be justified in saying, in any part of the world, that has been more admired and celebrated than the fine gold and silver filigree of Sumatra. This indeed is, strictly speaking, the work of the Malayan inhabitants; but as it is in universal use and wear throughout the country, and as the goldsmiths are settled everywhere along the coast, I cannot be guilty of much irregularity in describing here the process of their art.


There is no circumstance that renders the filigree a matter of greater curiosity than the coarseness of the tools employed in the workmanship, and which, in the hands of a European, would not be thought sufficiently perfect for the most ordinary purposes. They are rudely and inartificially formed by the goldsmith (pandei) from any old iron he can procure. When you engage one of them to execute a piece of work his first request is usually for a piece of iron hoop to make his wire-drawing instrument; an old hammer head, stuck in a block, serves for an anvil; and I have seen a pair of compasses composed of two old nails tied together at one end. The gold is melted in a piece of a priuk or earthen rice-pot, or sometimes in a crucible of their own making, of common clay. In general they use no bellows but blow the fire with their mouths through a joint of bamboo, and if the quantity of metal to be melted is considerable three or four persons sit round their furnace, which is an old broken kwali or iron pot, and blow together. At Padang alone, where the manufacture is more considerable, they have adopted the Chinese bellows. Their method of drawing the wire differs but little from that used by European workmen. When drawn to a sufficient fineness they flatten it by beating it on their anvil; and when flattened they give it a twist like that in the whalebone handle of a punch-ladle, by rubbing it on a block of wood with a flat stick. After twisting they again beat it on the anvil, and by these means it becomes flat wire with indented edges. With a pair of nippers they fold down the end of the wire, and thus form a leaf or element of a flower in their work, which is cut off. The end is again folded and cut off till they have got a sufficient number of leaves, which are all laid on singly. Patterns of the flowers or foliage, in which there is not very much variety, are prepared on paper, of the size of the gold plate on which the filigree is to be laid. According to this they begin to dispose on the plate the larger compartments of the foliage, for which they use plain flat wire of a larger size, and fill them up with the leaves before mentioned. To fix their work they employ a glutinous substance made of the small red pea with a black spot before mentioned, ground to a pulp on a rough stone. This pulp they place on a young coconut about the size of a walnut, the top and bottom being cut off. I at first imagined that caprice alone might have directed them to the use of the coconut for this purpose; but I have since reflected on the probability of the juice of the young fruit being necessary to keep the pulp moist, which would otherwise speedily become dry and unfit for the work. After the leaves have been all placed in order and stuck on, bit by bit, a solder is prepared of gold filings and borax, moistened with water, which they strew or daub over the plate with a feather, and then putting it in the fire for a short time the whole becomes united. This kind of work on a gold plate they call karrang papan: when the work is open, they call it karrang trus. In executing the latter the foliage is laid out on a card, or soft kind of wood covered with paper, and stuck on, as before described, with the paste of the red seed; and the work, when finished, being strewed over with their solder, is put into the fire, when, the card or soft wood burning away, the gold remains connected. The greatest skill and attention is required in this operation as the work is often made to run by remaining too long or in too hot a fire. If the piece be large they solder it at several times. When the work is finished they give it that fine high colour they so much admire by an operation which they term sapoh. This consists in mixing nitre, common salt, and alum, reduced to powder and moistened, laying the composition on the filigree and keeping it over a moderate fire until it dissolves and becomes yellow. In this situation the piece is kept for a longer or shorter time according to the intensity of colour they wish the gold to receive. It is then thrown into water and cleansed. In the manufacture of baju buttons they first make the lower part flat, and, having a mould formed of a piece of buffalo's horn, indented to several sizes, each like one half of a bullet mould, they lay their work over one of these holes, and with a horn punch they press it into the form of the button. After this they complete the upper part. The manner of making the little balls with which their works are sometimes ornamented is as follows. They take a piece of charcoal, and, having cut it flat and smooth, they make in it a small hole, which they fill with gold dust, and this melted in the fire becomes a little ball. They are very inexpert at finishing and polishing the plain parts, hinges, screws, and the like, being in this as much excelled by the European artists as these fall short of them in the fineness and minuteness of the foliage. The Chinese also make filigree, mostly of silver, which looks elegant, but wants likewise the extraordinary delicacy of the Malayan work. The price of the workmanship depends upon the difficulty or novelty of the pattern. In some articles of usual demand it does not exceed one-third of the value of the gold; but, in matters of fancy, it is generally equal to it. The manufacture is not now (1780) held in very high estimation in England, where costliness is not so much the object of luxury as variety; but, in the revolution of taste, it may probably be again sought after and admired as fashionable.


But little skill is shown amongst the country people in forging iron. They make nails however, though not much used by them in building, wooden pins being generally substituted; also various kinds of tools, as the prang or bill, the banchi, rembe, billiong, and papatil, which are different species of adzes, the kapak or axe, and the pungkur or hoe. Their fire is made with charcoal; the fossil coal which the country produces being rarely, if ever, employed, except by the Europeans; and not by them of late years, on the complaint of its burning away too quickly: yet the report made of it in 1719 was that it gave a surer heat than the coal from England. The bed of it (described rather as a large rock above ground) lies four days' journey up Bencoolen River, from whence quantities are washed down by the floods. The quality of coal is rarely good near the surface. Their bellows are thus constructed: two bamboos, of about four inches diameter and five feet in length, stand perpendicularly near the fire, open at the upper end and stopped below. About an inch or two from the bottom a small joint of bamboo is inserted into each, which serve as nozzles, pointing to, and meeting at, the fire. To produce a stream of air bunches of feathers or other soft substance, being fastened to long handles, are worked up and down in the upright tubes, like the piston of a pump. These, when pushed downwards, force the air through the small horizontal tubes, and, by raising and sinking each alternately, a continual current or blast is kept up; for which purpose a boy is usually placed on a high seat or stand. I cannot retrain from remarking that the description of the bellows used in Madagascar, as given by Sonnerat, Volume 2 page 60, so entirely corresponds with this that the one might almost pass for a copy of the other.


The progress they have made in carpenter's work has been already pointed out, where there buildings were described.


They are ignorant of the use of the saw, excepting where we have introduced it among them. Trees are felled by chopping at the stems, and in procuring boards they are confined to those the direction of whose grain or other qualities admit of their being easily split asunder. In this respect the species called maranti and marakuli have the preference. The tree, being stripped of its branches and its bark, is cut to the length required, and by the help of wedges split into boards. These being of irregular thickness are usually dubbed upon the spot. The tool used for this purpose is the rembe, a kind of adze. Most of their smaller work, and particularly on the bamboo, is performed with the papatil, which resembles in shape as much as in name the patupatu of the New Zealanders, but has the vast superiority of being made of iron. The blade, which is fastened to the handle with a nice and curious kind of rattan-work, is so contrived as to turn in it, and by that means can be employed either as an adze or small hatchet. Their houses are generally built with the assistance of this simple instrument alone. The billiong is no other than a large papatil, with a handle of two or three feet in length, turning, like that, in its socket.


The chief cement they employ for small work is the curd of buffalo­milk, called prakat. It is to be observed that butter is made (for the use of Europeans only; the words used by the Malays, for butter and cheese, monteiga and queijo, being pure Portuguese) not as with us, by churning, but by letting the milk stand till the butter forms of itself on the top. It is then taken off with a spoon, stirred about with the same in a flat vessel, and well washed in two or three waters. The thick sour milk left at the bottom, when the butter or cream is removed, is the curd here meant. This must be well squeezed, formed into cakes, and left to dry, when it will grow nearly as hard as flint. For use you must scrape some of it off, mix it with quick lime, and moisten it with milk. I think there is no stronger cement in the world, and it is found to hold, particularly in a hot and damp climate, much better than glue; proving also effectual in mending chinaware. The viscous juice of the saga-pea (abrus) is likewise used in the country as a cement.


Ink is made by mixing lamp-black with the white of egg. To procure the former they suspend over a burning lamp an earthen pot, the bottom of which is moistened, in order to make the soot adhere to it.


Painting and drawing they are quite strangers to. In carving, both in wood and ivory, they are curious and fanciful, but their designs are always grotesque and out of nature. The handles of the krises are the most common subjects of their ingenuity in this art, which usually exhibit the head and beak of a bird, with the folded arms of a human creature, not unlike the representation of one of the Egyptian deities. In cane and basketwork they are particularly neat and expert; as well as in mats, of which some kinds are much prized for their extreme fineness and ornamental borders.


Silk and cotton cloths, of varied colours, manufactured by themselves, are worn by the natives in all parts of the country; especially by the women. Some of their work is very fine, and the patterns prettily fancied. Their loom or apparatus for weaving (tunun) is extremely defective, and renders their progress tedious. One end of the warp being made fast to a frame, the whole is kept tight, and the web stretched out by means of a species of yoke, which is fastened behind the body, when the person weaving sits down. Every second of the longitudinal threads, or warp, passes separately through a set of reeds, like the teeth of a comb, and the alternate ones through another set. These cross each other, up and down, to admit the woof, not from the extremities, as in our looms, nor effected by the feet, but by turning edgeways two flat sticks which pass between them. The shuttle (turak) is a hollow reed about sixteen inches long, generally ornamented on the outside, and closed at one end, having in it a small bit of stick, on which is rolled the woof or shoot. The silk cloths have usually a gold head. They use sometimes another kind of loom, still more simple than this, being no more than a frame in which the warp is fixed, and the woof darned with a long small-pointed shuttle. For spinning the cotton they make use of a machine very like ours. The women are expert at embroidery, the gold and silver thread for which is procured from China, as well as their needles. For common work their thread is the pulas before mentioned, or else filaments of the pisang (musa).


Different kinds of earthenware, I have elsewhere observed, are manufactured in the island.


They have a practice of perfuming their hair with oil of benzoin, which they distil themselves from the gum by a process doubtless of their own invention. In procuring it a priuk, or earthen rice-pot, covered close, is used for a retort. A small bamboo is inserted in the side of the vessel, and well luted with clay and ashes, from which the oil drops as it comes over. Along with the benzoin they put into the retort a mixture of sugar-cane and other articles that contribute little or nothing to the quantity or quality of the distillation; but no liquid is added. This oil is valued among them at a high price, and can only be used by the superior rank of people.


The oil in general use is that of the coconut, which is procured in the following manner. The fleshy part being scraped out of the nut, which for this use must be old, is exposed for some time to the heat of the sun. It is then put into a mat bag and placed in the press (kampahan) between two sloping timbers, which are fixed together in a socket in the lower part of the frame, and forced towards each other by wedges in a groove at top, compressing by this means the pulp of the nut, which yields an oil that falls into a trough made for its reception below. In the farther parts of the country this oil also, owing to the scarcity of coconuts, is dear; and not so much used for burning as that from other vegetables, and the dammar or rosin, which is always at hand.


When travelling at night they make use of torches or links, called suluh, the common sort of which are nothing more than dried bamboos of a convenient length, beaten at the joints till split in every part, without the addition of any resinous or other inflammable substance. A superior kind is made by filling with dammar a young bamboo, about a cubit long, well dried, and having the outer skin taken off.

These torches are carried with a view, chiefly, to frighten away the tigers, which are alarmed at the appearance of fire; and for the same reason it is common to make a blaze with wood in different parts round their villages. The tigers prove to the inhabitants, both in their journeys and even their domestic occupations, most fatal and destructive enemies. The number of people annually slain by these rapacious tyrants of the woods is almost incredible. I have known instances of whole villages being depopulated by them. Yet, from a superstitious prejudice, it is with difficulty they are prevailed upon, by a large reward which the India Company offers, to use methods of destroying them till they have sustained some particular injury in their own family or kindred, and their ideas of fatalism contribute to render them insensible to the risk.


Their traps, of which they can make variety, are very ingeniously contrived. Sometimes they are in the nature of strong cages, with falling doors, into which the beast is enticed by a goat or dog enclosed as a bait; sometimes they manage that a large timber shall fall, in a groove, across his back; he is noosed about the loins with strong rattans, or he is led to ascend a plank, nearly balanced, which, turning when he is past the centre, lets him fall upon sharp stakes prepared below. Instances have occurred of a tiger being caught by one of the former modes, which had many marks in his body of the partial success of this last expedient. The escapes, at times, made from them by the natives are surprising, but these accounts in general carry too romantic an air to admit of being repeated as facts. The size and strength of the species which prevails on this island are prodigious. They are said to break with a stroke of their forepaw the leg of a horse or a buffalo; and the largest prey they kill is without difficulty dragged by them into the woods. This they usually perform on the second night, being supposed, on the first, to gratify themselves with sucking the blood only. Time is by this delay afforded to prepare for their destruction; and to the methods already enumerated, beside shooting them, I should add that of placing a vessel of water, strongly impregnated with arsenic, near the carcase, which is fastened to a tree to prevent its being carried off: The tiger having satiated himself with the flesh, is prompted to assuage his thirst with the tempting liquor at hand, and perishes in the indulgence. Their chief subsistence is most probably the unfortunate monkeys with which the woods abound. They are described as alluring them to their fate, by a fascinating power, similar to what has been supposed of the snake, and I am not incredulous enough to treat the idea with contempt, having myself observed that when an alligator, in a river, comes under an overhanging bough of a tree, the monkeys, in a state of alarm and distraction, crowd to the extremity, and, chattering and trembling, approach nearer and nearer to the amphibious monster that waits to devour them as they drop, which their fright and number renders almost unavoidable. These alligators likewise occasion the loss of many inhabitants, frequently destroying the people as they bathe in the river, according to their regular custom, and which the perpetual evidence of the risk attending it cannot deter them from. A superstitious idea of their sanctity also (or, perhaps, of consanguinity, as related in the journal of the Endeavour's voyage) preserves these destructive animals from molestation, although, with a hook of sufficient strength, they may be taken without much difficulty. A musket-ball appears to have no effect upon their impenetrable hides.


Besides the common methods of taking fish, of which the seas that wash the coasts of Sumatra afford an extraordinary variety and abundance, the natives employ a mode, unpractised, I apprehend, in any part of Europe. They steep the root of a certain climbing plant, called tuba, of strong narcotic qualities, in the water where the fish are observed, which produces such an effect that they become intoxicated and to appearance dead, float on the surface of the water, and are taken with the hand. This is generally made use of in the basins of water formed by the ledges of coral rock which, having no outlet, are left full when the tide has ebbed.* In the manufacture and employment of the casting-net they are particularly expert, and scarcely a family near the sea-coast is without one. To supply this demand great quantities of the pulas twine are brought down from the hill-country to be there worked up; and in this article we have an opportunity of observing the effect of that conformation which renders the handiwork of orientals (unassisted by machinery) so much more delicate than that of the western people. Mr. Crisp possessed a net of silk, made in the country behind Padang, the meshes of which were no wider than a small fingernail, that opened sixteen feet in diameter. With such they are said to catch small fish in the extensive lake situated on the borders of Menangkabau.

(*Footnote. In Captain Cook's second voyage is a plate representing a plant used for the same purpose at Otaheite, which is the exact delineation of one whose appearance I was well acquainted with in Sumatra, and which abounds in many parts of the sea-beach, but which is a different plant from the tuba-akar, but may be another kind, named tuba-biji. In South America also, we are informed, the inhabitants procure fish after this extraordinary manner, employing three different kinds of plants; but whether any of them be the same with that of Otaheite or Sumatra I am ignorant. I have lately been informed that this practice is not unknown in England, but has been prohibited. It is termed foxing: the drug made use of was the Coculus indicus.)


Birds, particularly the plover (cheruling) and quails (puyu) are caught by snares or springs laid for them in the grass. These are of iju, which resembles horsehair, many fathoms in length, and disposed in such a manner as to entangle their feet; for which purpose they are gently driven towards the snares. In some parts of the country they make use of clasp-nets. I never observed a Sumatran to fire a shot at a bird, though many of them, as well as the more eastern people, have a remarkably fine aim; but the mode of letting off the matchlocks, which are the pieces most habitual to them, precludes the possibility of shooting flying.


Gunpowder is manufactured in various parts of the island, but less in the southern provinces than amongst the people of Menangkabau, the Battas, and Achinese, whose frequent wars demand large supplies. It appears however, by an agreement upon record, formed in 1728, that the inhabitants of Anak-sungei were restricted from the manufacture, which they are stated to have carried to a considerable extent. It is made, as with us, of proportions of charcoal, sulphur, and nitre, but the composition is very imperfectly granulated, being often hastily prepared in small quantities for immediate use. The last article, though found in the greatest quantity in the saltpetre-caves before spoken of, is most commonly procured from goat's dung, which is always to be had in plenty.


Sugar (as has already been observed) is commonly made for domestic use from the juice of a species of palm, boiled till a consistence is formed, but scarcely at all granulated, being little more than a thick syrup. This spread upon leaves to dry, made into cakes, and afterwards folded up in a peculiar vegetable substance called upih, which is the sheath that envelopes the branch of the pinang tree where it is inserted in the stem. In this state it is called jaggri, and, beside its ordinary uses as sugar, it is mixed with chunam in making cement for buildings, and that exquisite plaster for walls which, on the coast of Coromandel, equals Parian marble in whiteness and polish. But in many parts of the island sugar is also made from the sugar-cane. The rollers of the mill used for this purpose are worked by the endless screw instead of cogs, and are turned with the hand by means of a bar passing through one of the rollers which is higher than the other. As an article of traffic amongst the natives it is not considerable, nor have they the art of distilling arrack, the basis of which is molasses, along with the juice of the anau or of the coconut palm in a state of fermentation. Both however are manufactured by Europeans.*

(*Footnote. Many attempts have been made by the English to bring to perfection the manufacture of sugar and arrack from the canes; but the expenses, particularly of the slaves, were always found to exceed the advantages. Within these few years (about 1777) that the plantations and works were committed to the management of Mr. Henry Botham, it has manifestly appeared that the end is to be obtained by employing the Chinese in the works of the field and allowing them a proportion of the produce for their labour. The manufacture had arrived at considerable perfection when the breaking out of war gave a check to its progress; but the path is pointed out, and it may be worth pursuing. The sums of money thrown into Batavia for arrack and sugar have been immense.)


Salt is here, as in most other countries, an article of general consumption. The demand for it is mostly supplied by cargoes imported, but they also manufacture it themselves. The method is tedious. They kindle a fire close to the sea-beach, and gradually pour upon it sea water. When this has been continued for a certain time, the water evaporating, and the salt being precipitated among the ashes, they gather these in baskets, or in funnels made of the bark or leaves of trees, and again pour seawater on them till the particles of salt are well separated, and pass with the water into a vessel placed below to receive them. This water, now strongly impregnated, is boiled till the salt adheres in a thick crust to the bottom and sides of the vessel. In burning a square fathom of firewood a skilful person procures about five gallons of salt. What is thus made has so considerable a mixture of the salt of the wood that it soon dissolves, and cannot be carried far into the country. The coarsest grain is preferred.


The art of medicine among the Sumatrans consists almost entirely in the application of simples, in the virtues of which they are well skilled. Every old man and woman is a physician, and their rewards depend upon their success; but they generally procure a small sum in advance under the pretext of purchasing charms.* The mode of practice is either by administering the juices of certain trees and herbs inwardly, or by applying outwardly a poultice of leaves chopped small upon the breast or part affected, renewing it as soon as it becomes dry. For internal pains they rub oil on a large leaf of a stimulant quality, and, heating it before the fire, clap it on the body of the patient as a blister, which produces very powerful effects. Bleeding they never use, but the people of the neighbouring island of Nias are famous for their skill in cupping, which they practise in a manner peculiar to themselves.

(*Footnote. Charms are there hung about the necks of children, as in Europe, and also worn by persons whose situations expose them to risk. They are long narrow scrolls of paper, filled with incoherent scraps of verse, which are separated from each other by a variety of fanciful drawings. A charm against an ague I once accidentally met with, which from circumstances I conclude to be a translation of such as are employed by the Portuguese Christians in India. Though not properly belonging to my subject, I present it to the reader. "(Sign of the cross). When Christ saw the cross he trembled and shaked; and they said unto him hast thou an ague? and he said unto them, I have neither ague nor fever; and whosoever bears these words, either in writing or in mind, shall never be troubled with ague or fever. So help thy servants, O Lord, who put their trust in thee!" From the many folds that appear in the original I have reason to apprehend that it had been worn, and by some Englishmen, whom frequent sickness and the fond love of life had rendered weak and superstitious enough to try the effects of this barbarous and ridiculous quackery.)


In fevers they give a decoction of the herb lakun, and bathe the patient, for two or three mornings, in warm water. If this does not prove effectual, they pour over him, during the paroxysm, a quantity of cold water, rendered more chilly by the daun sedingin (Cotyledon laciniata) which, from the sudden revulsion it causes, brings on a copious perspiration. Pains and swellings in the limbs are likewise cured by sweating; but for this purpose they either cover themselves over with mats and sit in the sunshine at noon, or, if the operation be performed within doors, a lamp, and sometimes a pot of boiling herbs, is enclosed in the covering with them.


There are two species of leprosy known in these parts. The milder sort, or impetigo, as I apprehend it to be, is very common among the inhabitants of Nias, great numbers of whom are covered with a white scurf or scales that renders them loathsome to the sight. But this distemper, though disagreeable from the violent itching and other inconveniences with which it is attended, does not appear immediately to affect the health, slaves in that situation being bought and sold for field and other outdoor work. It is communicated from parents to their offspring, but though hereditary it is not contagious. I have sometimes been induced to think it nothing more than a confirmed stage of the serpigo or ringworm, or it may be the same with what is elsewhere termed the shingles. I have known a Nias man who has effected a temporary removal of this scurf by the frequent application of the golinggang or daun kurap (Cassia alata) and such other herbs as are used to cure the ringworm, and sometimes by rubbing gunpowder and strong acids to his skin; but it always returned after some time. The other species with which the country people are in some instances affected is doubtless, from the description given of its dreadful symptoms, that severe kind of leprosy which has been termed elephantiasis, and is particularly described in the Asiatic Researches Volume 2, the skin coming off in flakes, and the flesh falling from the bones, as in the lues venerea. This disorder being esteemed highly infectious, the unhappy wretch who labours under it is driven from the village he belonged to into the woods, where victuals are left for him from time to time by his relations. A prang and a knife are likewise delivered to him, that he may build himself a hut, which is generally erected near to some river or lake, continual bathing being supposed to have some effect in removing the disorder, or alleviating the misery of the patient. Few instances of recovery have been known. There is a disease called the nambi which bears some affinity to this, attacking the feet chiefly, the flesh of which it eats away. As none but the lowest class of people seem to suffer from this complaint I imagine it proceeds in a great degree from want of cleanliness.


The smallpox (katumbuhan) sometimes visits the island and makes terrible ravages. It is regarded as a plague, and drives from the country thousands whom the infection spares. Their method of stopping its progress (for they do not attempt a cure) is by converting into a hospital or receptacle for the rest that village where lie the greatest number of sick, whither they send all who are attacked by the disorder from the country round. The most effectual methods are pursued to prevent any person's escape from this village, which is burnt to the ground as soon as the infection has spent itself or devoured all the victims thus offered to it. Inoculation was an idea long unthought of, and, as it could not be universal, it was held to be a dangerous experiment for Europeans to introduce it partially, in a country where the disorder makes its appearance at distant intervals only, unless those periods could be seized and the attempts made when and where there might be well-founded apprehension of its being communicated in the natural way. Such an opportunity presented itself in 1780, when great numbers of people (estimated at a third of the population) were swept away in the course of that and the two following years; whilst upon those under the immediate influence of the English and Dutch settlements inoculation was practised with great success. I trust that the preventive blessing of vaccination has or will be extended to a country so liable to be afflicted with this dreadful scourge. A distemper called chachar, much resembling the smallpox, and in its first stages mistaken for it, is not uncommon. It causes an alarm but does not prove mortal, and is probably what we term the chickenpox.


The venereal disease, though common in the Malay bazaars, is in the inland country almost unknown. A man returning to his village with the infection is shunned by the inhabitants as an unclean and interdicted person. The Malays are supposed to cure it with the decoction of a china-root, called by them gadong, which causes a salivation.


When a man is by sickness or otherwise deprived of his reason, or when subject to convulsion fits, they imagine him possessed by an evil spirit, and their ceremony of exorcism is performed by putting the unfortunate wretch into a hut, which they set fire to about his ears, suffering him to make his escape through the flames in the best manner he can. The fright, which would go nigh to destroy the intellects of a reasonable man, may perhaps have under contrary circumstances an opposite effect.


The skill of the Sumatrans in any of the sciences, is, as may be presumed, very limited.


Some however I have met with who, in arithmetic, could multiply and divide, by a single multiplier or divisor, several places of figures. Tens of thousands (laksa) are the highest class of numbers the Malay language has a name for. In counting over a quantity of small articles each tenth, and afterwards each hundredth piece is put aside; which method is consonant with the progress of scientific numeration, and probably gave it origin. When they may have occasion to recollect at a distance of time the tale of any commodities they are carrying to market, or the like, the country people often assist their memory by tying knots on a string, which is produced when they want to specify the number. The Peruvian quipos were I suppose an improvement upon this simple invention.


They estimate the quantity of most species of merchandise by what we call dry measure, the use of weights, as applied to bulky articles, being apparently introduced among them by foreigners; for the pikul and catti are used only on the sea-coast and places which the Malays frequent. The kulah or bamboo, containing very nearly a gallon, is the general standard of measure among the Rejangs: of these eight hundred make a koyan: the chupah is one quarter of a bamboo. By this measure almost all articles, even elephants' teeth, are bought and sold; but by a bamboo of ivory they mean so much as is equal in weight to a bamboo of rice. This still includes the idea of weight, but is not attended with their principal objection to that mode of ascertaining quantity which arises, as they say, from the impossibility of judging by the eye of the justness of artificial weights, owing to the various materials of which they may be composed, and to which measurement is not liable. The measures of length here, as perhaps originally among every people upon earth, are taken from the dimensions of the human body. The deppa, or fathom, is the extent of the arms from each extremity of the fingers: the etta, asta, or cubit, is the forearm and hand; kaki is the foot; jungka is the span; and jarri, which signifies a finger, is the inch. These are estimated from the general proportions of middle-sized men, others making an allowance in measuring, and not regulated by an exact standard.


The ideas of geography among such of them as do not frequent the sea are perfectly confined, or rather they entertain none. Few of them know that the country they inhabit is an island, or have any general name for it. Habit renders them expert in travelling through the woods, where they perform journeys of weeks and months without seeing a dwelling. In places little frequented, where they have occasion to strike out new paths (for roads there are none), they make marks on trees for the future guidance of themselves and others. I have heard a man say, "I will attempt a passage by such a route, for my father, when living, told me that he had left his tokens there." They estimate the distance of places from each other by the number of days, or the proportion of the day, taken up in travelling it, and not by measurement of the space. Their journey, or day's walk, may be computed at about twenty miles; but they can bear a long continuance of fatigue.


The Malays as well as the Arabs and other Mahometan nations fix the length of the year at three hundred and fifty-four days, or twelve lunar months of twenty-nine days and a half; by which mode of reckoning each year is thrown back about eleven days. The original Sumatrans rudely estimate their annual periods from the revolution of the seasons, and count their years from the number of their crops of grain (taun padi); a practice which, though not pretending to accuracy, is much more useful for the general purposes of life than the lunar period, which is merely adapted to religious observances. They as well as the Malays compute time by lunations, but do not attempt to trace any relation or correspondence between these smaller measures and the solar revolution. Whilst more polished nations were multiplying mistakes and difficulties in their endeavours to ascertain the completion of the sun's course through the ecliptic, and in the meanwhile suffering their nominal seasons to become almost the reverse of nature, these people, without an idea of intercalation, preserved in a rude way the account of their years free from essential, or at least progressive, error and the confusion which attends it. The division of the month into weeks I believe to be unknown except where it has been taught with Mahometanism; the day of the moon's age being used instead of it where accuracy is required; nor do they subdivide the day into hours. To denote the time of day at which any circumstance they find it necessary to speak of happened, they point with their finger to the height in the sky at which the sun then stood. And this mode is the more general and precise as the sun, so near the equator, ascends and descends almost perpendicularly, and rises and sets at all seasons of the year within a few minutes of six o'clock. Scarcely any of the stars or constellations are distinguished by them. They notice however the planet Venus, but do not imagine her to be the same at the different periods of her revolution when she precedes the rising, and follows the setting sun. They are aware of the night on which the new moon should make its appearance, and the Malays salute it with the discharge of guns. They also know when to expect the returns of the tides, which are at their height, on the south-western coast of the island, when that luminary is in the horizon, and ebb as it rises. When they observe a bright star near the moon (or rubbing against her, as they express it), they are apprehensive of a storm, as European sailors foretell a gale from the sharpness of her horns. These are both, in part, the consequence of an unusual clearness in the air, which, proceeding from an extraordinary alteration of the state of the atmosphere, may naturally be followed by a violent rushing of the circumjacent parts to restore the equilibrium, and thus prove the prognostic of high wind. During an eclipse they make a loud noise with sounding-instruments to prevent one luminary from devouring the other, as the Chinese, to frighten away the dragon, a superstition that has its source in the ancient systems of astronomy (particularly the Hindu) where the nodes of the moon are identified with the dragon's head and tail. They tell of a man in the moon who is continually employed in spinning cotton, but that every night a rat gnaws his thread and obliges him to begin his work afresh. This they apply as an emblem of endless and ineffectual labour, like the stone of Sisyphus, and the sieves of the Danaides.

With history and chronology the country people are but little acquainted, the memory of past events being preserved by tradition only.


They are fond of music and have many instruments in use among them, but few, upon inquiry, appear to be original, being mostly borrowed from the Chinese and other more eastern people; particularly the kalintang, gong, and sulin. The violin has found its way to them from the westward. The kalintang resembles the sticcado and the harmonica; the more common ones having the cross-pieces, which are struck with two little hammers, of split bamboo, and the more perfect of a certain composition of metal which is very sonorous. The gongs, a kind of bell, but differing much in shape and struck on the outside, are cast in sets regularly tuned to thirds, fourth, fifth, and octave, and often serve as a bass, or under part, to the kalintang. They are also sounded for the purpose of calling together the inhabitants of the village upon any particular occasion; but the more ancient and still common instrument for this use is a hollowed log of wood named katut. The sulin is the Malayan flute. The country flute is called serdum. It is made of bamboo, is very imperfect, having but few stops, and resembles much an instrument described as found among the people of Otaheite. A single hole underneath is covered with the thumb of the left hand, and the hole nearest the end at which it is blown, on the upper side, with a finger of the same hand. The other two holes are stopped with the right-hand fingers. In blowing they hold it inclined to the right side. They have various instruments of the drum kind, particularly those called tingkah, which are in pairs and beaten with the hands at each end. They are made of a certain kind of wood hollowed out, covered with dried goat-skins, and laced with split rattans. It is difficult to obtain a proper knowledge of their division of the scale, as they know nothing of it in theory. The interval we call an octave seems to be divided with them into six tones, without any intermediate semitones, which must confine their music to one key. It consists in general of but few notes, and the third is the interval that most frequently occurs. Those who perform on the violin use the same notes as in our division, and they tune the instrument by fifths to a great nicety. They are fond of playing the octave, but scarcely use any other chord. The Sumatran tunes very much resemble, to my ear, those of the native Irish, and have usually, like them, a flat third: the same has been observed of the music of Bengal, and probably it will be found that the minor key obtains a preference amongst all people at a certain stage of civilization.




Before I proceed to an account of the laws, customs, and manners of the people of the island it is necessary that I should say something of the different languages spoken on it, the diversity of which has been the subject of much contemplation and conjecture.


The Malayan language, which has commonly been supposed original in the peninsula of Malayo, and from thence to have extended itself throughout the eastern islands, so as to become the lingua franca of that part of the globe, is spoken everywhere along the coasts of Sumatra, prevails without the mixture of any other in the inland country of Menangkabau and its immediate dependencies, and is understood in almost every part of the island. It has been much celebrated, and justly, for the smoothness and sweetness of its sound, which have gained it the appellation of the Italian of the East. This is owing to the prevalence of vowels and liquids in the words (with many nasals which may be thought an objection) and the infrequency of any harsh combination of mute consonants. These qualities render it well adapted to poetry, which the Malays are passionately addicted to.


They amuse all their leisure hours, including the greater portion of their lives, with the repetition of songs which are, for the most part, proverbs illustrated, or figures of speech applied to the occurrences of life. Some that they rehearse, in a kind of recitative, at their bimbangs or feasts, are historical love tales like our old English ballads, and are often extemporaneous productions. An example of the former species is as follows:

Apa guna passang palita,
Kallo tidah dangan sumbu'nia?
Apa guna bermine matta,
Kalla tidah dangan sunggu'nia?

What signifies attempting to light a lamp,
If the wick be wanting?
What signifies playing with the eyes,
If nothing in earnest be intended?

It must be observed however that it often proves a very difficult matter to trace the connexion between the figurative and the literal sense of the stanza. The essentials in the composition of the pantun, for such these little pieces are called, the longer being called dendang, are the rhythmus and the figure, particularly the latter, which they consider as the life and spirit of the poetry. I had a proof of this in an attempt which I made to impose a pantun of my own composing on the natives as a work of their countrymen. The subject was a dialogue between a lover and a rich coy mistress: the expressions were proper to the occasion, and in some degree characteristic. It passed with several, but an old lady who was a more discerning critic than the others remarked that it was "katta katta saja"--mere conversation; meaning that it was destitute of the quaint and figurative expressions which adorn their own poetry. Their language in common speaking is proverbial and sententious. If a young woman prove with child before marriage they observe it is daulu buah, kadian bunga--the fruit before the flower. Hearing of a person's death they say, nen matti, matti; nen idup, bekraja: kallo sampi janji'nia, apa buli buat?--Those who are dead, are dead; those who survive must work: if his allotted time was expired, what resource is there? The latter phrase they always make use of to express their sense of inevitability, and has more force than any translation of it I can employ.


Their writing is in the Arabic character, with modifications to adapt that alphabet to their language, and, in consequence of the adoption of their religion from the same quarter, a great number of Arabic words are incorporated with the Malayan. The Portuguese too have furnished them with several terms, chiefly for such ideas as they have acquired since the period of European discoveries to the eastward. They write on paper, using ink of their own composition, with pens made of the twig of the anau tree. I could never discover that the Malays had any original written characters peculiar to themselves before they acquired those now in use; but it is possible that such might have been lost, a fate that may hereafter attend the Batta, Rejang, and others of Sumatra, on which the Arabic daily makes encroachments. Yet I have had frequent occasion to observe the former language written by inland people in the country character; which would indicate that the speech is likely to perish first. The Malayan books are very numerous, both in prose and verse. Many of them are commentaries on the koran, and others romances or heroic tales.

The purest or most elegant Malayan is said, and with great appearance of reason, to be spoken at Malacca. It differs from the dialect used in Sumatra chiefly in this, that words, in the latter, made to terminate in "o," are in the former, sounded as ending in "a." Thus they pronounce lada (pepper) instead of lado. Those words which end with "k" in writing, are, in Sumatra, always softened in speaking, by omitting it; as tabbe bannia, many compliments, for tabbek banniak; but the Malaccans, and especially the more eastern people, who speak a very broad dialect, give them generally the full sound. The personal pronouns also differ materially in the respective countries.

Attempts have been made to compose a grammar of this tongue upon the principles on which those of the European languages are formed. But the inutility of such productions is obvious. Where there is no inflexion of either nouns or verbs there can be no cases, declensions, moods, or conjugations. All this is performed by the addition of certain words expressive of a determinate meaning, which should not be considered as mere auxiliaries, or as particles subservient to other words. Thus, in the instance of rumah, a house; deri pada rumah signifies from a house; but it would be talking without use or meaning to say that deri pada is the sign of the ablative case of that noun, for then every preposition should equally require an appropriate case, and as well as of, to, and from, we should have a case for deatas rumah, on top of the house. So of verbs: kallo saya buli jalan, If I could walk: this may be termed the preter-imperfect tense of the subjunctive or potential mood of the verb jalan; whereas it is in fact a sentence of which jalan, buli, etc. are constituent words. It is improper, I say, to talk of the case of a noun which does not change its termination, or the mood of a verb which does not alter its form. A useful set of observations might be collected for speaking the language with correctness and propriety, but they must be independent of the technical rules of languages founded on different principles.*

(*Footnote. I have ventured to make this attempt, and have also prepared a Dictionary of the language which it is my intention to print with as little delay as circUmstances will admit.)


Beside the Malayan there are a variety of languages spoken in Sumatra which however have not only a manifest affinity among themselves, but also to that general language which is found to prevail in, and to be indigenous to all the islands of the eastern sea; from Madagascar to the remotest of Captain Cook's discoveries; comprehending a wider extent than the Roman or any other tongue has yet boasted. Indisputable examples of this connexion and similarity I have exhibited in a paper which the Society of Antiquaries have done me the honour to publish in their Archaeologia, Volume 6. In different places it has been more or less mixed and corrupted, but between the most dissimilar branches an evident sameness of many radical words is apparent, and in some, very distant from each other in point of situation, as for instance the Philippines and Madagascar, the deviation of the words is scarcely more than is observed in the dialects of neighbouring provinces of the same kingdom. To render this comparison of languages more extensive, and if possible to bring all those spoken throughout the world into one point of view, is an object of which I have never lost sight, but my hopes of completing such a work are by no means sanguine.


The principal of these Sumatran languages are the Botta, the Rejang, and the Lampong, whose difference is marked not so much by the want of correspondence in the terms as by the circumstance of their being expressed in distinct and peculiar written characters. But whether this apparent difference be radical and essential, or only produced by accident and the lapse of time, may be thought to admit of doubt; and, in order that the reader may be enabled to form his own judgment, a plate containing the Alphabetical characters of each, with the mode of applying the orthographical marks to those of the Rejang language in particular, is annexed. It would indeed be extraordinary, and perhaps singular in the history of human improvement, that divisions of people in the same island, with equal claims to originality, in stages of civilization nearly equal, and speaking languages derived from the same source, should employ characters different from each other, as well as from the rest of the world. It will be found however that the alphabet used in the neighbouring island of Java (given by Corneille Le Brun), that used by the Tagala people of the Philippines (given by Thevenot), and by the Bugis people of Celebes (given by Captain Forrest), vary at least as much from these and from each other as the Rejang from the Batta. The Sanskrit scholar will at the same time perceive in several of them an analogy to the rhythmical arrangement, terminating with a nasal, which distinguishes the alphabet of that ancient language whose influence is known to have been extensive in this quarter. In the country of Achin, where the language differs considerably from the Malayan, the Arabic character has nevertheless been adopted, and on this account it has less claim to originality.


Their manuscripts of any bulk and importance are written with ink of their own making on the inner bark of a tree cut into slips of several feet in length and folded together in squares; each square or fold answering to a page or leaf. For more common occasions they write on the outer coat of a joint of bamboo, sometimes whole but generally split into pieces of two or three inches in breadth, with the point of the weapon worn at their side, which serves the purpose of a stylus; and these writings, or scratchings rather, are often performed with a considerable degree of neatness. Thus the Chinese also are said by their historians to have written on pieces of bamboo before they invented paper. Of both kinds of manuscript I have many specimens in my possession. The lines are formed from the left hand towards the right, contrary to the practice of the Malays and the Arabians.

In Java, Siam, and other parts of the East, beside the common language of the country, there is established a court language spoken by persons of rank only; a distinction invented for the purpose of keeping the vulgar at a distance, and inspiring them with respect for what they do not understand. The Malays also have their bhasa dalam, or courtly style, which contains a number of expressions not familiarly used in common conversation or writing, but yet by no means constituting a separate language, any more than, in English, the elevated style of our poets and historians. Amongst the inhabitants of Sumatra in general disparity of condition is not attended with much ceremonious distance of behaviour between the persons.




Considered as a people occupying a certain rank in the scale or civil society, it is not easy to determine the proper situation of the inhabitants of this island. Though far distant from that point to which the polished states of Europe have aspired, they yet look down, with an interval almost as great, on the savage tribes of Africa and America. Perhaps if we distinguish mankind summarily into five classes; but of which each would admit of numberless subdivisions; we might assign a third place to the more civilized Sumatrans, and a fourth to the remainder. In the first class I should of course include some of the republics of ancient Greece, in the days of their splendour; the Romans, for some time before and after the Augustan age; France, England, and other refined nations of Europe, in the latter centuries; and perhaps China. The second might comprehend the great Asiatic empires at the period of their prosperity; Persia, the Mogul, the Turkish, with some European kingdoms. In the third class, along with the Sumatrans and a few other states of the eastern archipelago, I should rank the nations on the northern coast of Africa, and the more polished Arabs. The fourth class, with the less civilized Sumatrans, will take in the people of the new discovered islands in the South Sea; perhaps the celebrated Mexican and Peruvian empires; the Tartar hordes, and all those societies of people in various parts of the globe, who, possessing personal property, and acknowledging some species of established subordination, rise one step above the Caribs, the New Hollanders, the Laplanders, and the Hottentots, who exhibit a picture of mankind in its rudest and most humiliating aspect.


As mankind are by nature so prone to imitation it may seem surprising that these people have not derived a greater share of improvement in manners an arts from their long connection with Europeans, particularly with the English, who have now been settled among them for a hundred years. Though strongly attached to their own habits they are nevertheless sensible of their inferiority, and readily admit the preference to which our attainments in science, and especially in mechanics, entitle us. I have heard a man exclaim, after contemplating the structure and uses of a house-clock, "Is it not fitting that such as we should be slaves to people who have the ingenuity to invent, and the skill to construct, so wonderful a machine as this?" "The sun," he added, "is a machine of this nature." "But who winds it up?" said his companion. "Who but Allah," he replied. This admiration of our superior attainments is however not universal; for, upon an occasion similar to the above, a Sumatran observed, with a sneer, "How clever these people are in the art of getting money."

Some probable causes of this backwardness may be suggested. We carry on few or no species of manufacture at our settlements; everything is imported ready wrought to its highest perfection; and the natives therefore have no opportunity of examining the first process, or the progress of the work. Abundantly supplied with every article of convenience from Europe, and prejudiced in their favour because from thence, we make but little use of the raw materials Sumatra affords. We do not spin its cotton; we do not rear its silkworms; we do not smelt its metals; we do not even hew its stone: neglecting these, it is in vain we exhibit to the people, for their improvement in the arts, our rich brocades, our timepieces, or display to them in drawings the elegance of our architecture. Our manners likewise are little calculated to excite their approval and imitation. Not to insist on the licentiousness that has at times been imputed to our communities; the pleasures of the table; emulation in wine; boisterous mirth; juvenile frolics, and puerile amusements, which do not pass without serious, perhaps contemptuous, animadversion--setting these aside it appears to me that even our best models are but ill adapted for the imitation of a rude, incurious, and unambitious people. Their senses, not their reason, should be acted on, to rouse them from their lethargy; their imaginations must be warmed; a spirit of enthusiasm must pervade and animate them before they will exchange the pleasures of indolence for those of industry. The philosophical influence that prevails and characterizes the present age in the western world is unfavourable to the producing these effects. A modern man of sense and manners despises, or endeavours to despise, ceremony, parade, attendance, superfluous and splendid ornaments in his dress or furniture: preferring ease and convenience to cumbrous pomp, the person first in rank is no longer distinguished by his apparel, his equipage, or his number of servants, from those inferior to him; and though possessing real power is divested of almost every external mark of it. Even our religious worship partakes of the same simplicity. It is far from my intention to condemn or depreciate these manners, considered in a general scale of estimation. Probably, in proportion as the prejudices of sense are dissipated by the light of reason, we advance towards the highest degree of perfection our natures are capable of; possibly perfection may consist in a certain medium which we have already stepped beyond; but certainly all this refinement is utterly incomprehensible to an uncivilized mind which cannot discriminate the ideas of humility and meanness. We appear to the Sumatrans to have degenerated from the more splendid virtues of our predecessors. Even the richness of their laced suits and the gravity of their perukes attracted a degree of admiration; and I have heard the disuse of the large hoops worn by the ladies pathetically lamented. The quick, and to them inexplicable, revolutions of our fashions, are subject of much astonishment, and they naturally conclude that those modes can have but little intrinsic merit which we are so ready to change; or at least that our caprice renders us very incompetent to be the guides of their improvement. Indeed in matters of this kind it is not to be supposed that an imitation should take place, owing to the total incongruity of manners in other respects, and the dissimilarity of natural and local circumstances. But perhaps I am superfluously investigating minute and partial causes of an effect which one general one may be thought sufficient to produce. Under the frigid, and more especially the torrid zone, the inhabitants will naturally preserve an uninterrupted similarity and consistency of manners, from the uniform influence of their climate. In the temperate zones, where this influence is equivocal, the manners will be fluctuating, and dependent rather on moral than physical causes.


The Malays and the other native Sumatrans differ more in the features of their mind than in those of their person. Although we know not that this island, in the revolutions of human grandeur, ever made a distinguished figure in the history of the world (for the Achinese, though powerful in the sixteenth century, were very low in point of civilization) yet the Malay inhabitants have an appearance of degeneracy, and this renders their character totally different from that which we conceive of a savage, however justly their ferocious spirit of plunder on the eastern coast may have drawn upon them that name. They seem rather to be sinking into obscurity, though with opportunities of improvement, than emerging from thence to a state of civil or political importance. They retain a strong share of pride, but not of that laudable kind which restrains men from the commission of mean and fraudulent actions. They possess much low cunning and plausible duplicity, and know how to dissemble the strongest passions and most inveterate antipathy beneath the utmost composure of features till the opportunity of gratifying their resentment offers. Veracity, gratitude, and integrity are not to be found in the list of their virtues, and their minds are almost strangers to the sentiments of honour and infamy. They are jealous and vindictive. Their courage is desultory, the effect of a momentary enthusiasm which enables them to perform deeds of incredible desperation; but they are strangers to that steady magnanimity, that cool heroic resolution in battle, which constitutes in our idea the perfection of this quality, and renders it a virtue.* Yet it must be observed that, from an apathy almost paradoxical, they suffer under sentence of death, in cases where no indignant passions could operate to buoy up the mind to a contempt of punishment, with astonishing composure and indifference; uttering little more on these occasions than a proverbial saying, common among them, expressive of the inevitability of fate--apa buli buat? To this stoicism, their belief in predestination, and very imperfect ideas of a future, eternal existence, doubtless contribute.

(*Footnote. In the history of the Portuguese wars in this part of the East there appear some exceptions to this remark, and particularly in the character of Laksamanna (his title of commander-in-chief being mistaken for his proper name), who was truly a great man and most consummate warrior.)

Some writer has remarked that a resemblance is usually found between the disposition and qualities of the beasts proper to any country and those of the indigenous inhabitants of the human species, where an intercourse with foreigners has not destroyed the genuineness of their character. The Malay may thus be compared to the buffalo and the tiger. In his domestic state he is indolent, stubborn, and voluptuous as the former, and in his adventurous life he is insidious, bloodthirsty, and rapacious as the latter. Thus also the Arab is said to resemble his camel, and the placid Hindu his cow.


The Sumatran of the interior country, though he partakes in some degree of the Malayan vices, and this partly from the contagion of example, possesses many exclusive virtues; but they are more properly of the negative than the positive kind. He is mild, peaceable, and forbearing, unless his anger be roused by violent provocation, when he is implacable in his resentments. He is temperate and sober, being equally abstemious in meat and drink. The diet of the natives is mostly vegetable; water is their only beverage; and though they will kill a fowl or a goat for a stranger, whom perhaps they never saw before, nor ever expect to see again, they are rarely guilty of that extravagance for themselves; nor even at their festivals (bimbang), where there is a plenty of meat, do they eat much of anything but rice. Their hospitality is extreme, and bounded by their ability alone. Their manners are simple; they are generally, except among the chiefs, devoid of the Malay cunning and chicane; yet endued with a quickness of apprehension, and on many occasions discovering a considerable degree of penetration and sagacity. In respect to women they are remarkably continent, without any share of insensibility. They are modest; particularly guarded in their expressions; courteous in their behaviour; grave in their deportment, being seldom or never excited to laughter; and patient to a great degree. On the other hand, they are litigious; indolent; addicted to gaming; dishonest in their dealings with strangers, which they esteem no moral defect; suspicious; regardless of truth; mean in their transactions; servile; though cleanly in their persons, dirty in their apparel, which they never wash. They are careless and improvident of the future, because their wants are few, for though poor they are not necessitous; nature supplying, with extraordinary facility, whatever she has made requisite for their existence. Science and the arts have not, by extending their views, contributed to enlarge the circle of their desires; and the various refinements of luxury, which in polished societies become necessaries of life, are totally unknown to them. The Makassar and Bugis people, who come annually in their praws from Celebes to trade at Sumatra, are looked up to by the inhabitants as their superiors in manners. The Malays affect to copy their style of dress, and frequent allusions to the feats and achievements of these people are made in their songs. Their reputation for courage, which certainly surpasses that of all other people in the eastern seas, acquires them this flattering distinction. They also derive part of the respect paid them from the richness of the cargoes they import, and the spirit with which they spend the produce in gaming, cock-fighting, and opium-smoking.


Having endeavoured to trace the character of these people with as much fidelity and accuracy as possible, I shall now proceed to give an account of their government, laws, customs, and manners; and, in order to convey to the reader the clearest ideas in my power, I shall develop the various circumstances in such order and connection as shall appear best to answer this intent, without confining myself, in every instance, to a rigid and scrupulous arrangement under distinct heads.


The Rejang people, whom, for reasons before assigned, I have fixed upon for a standard of description, but which apply generally to the orang ulu, or inhabitants of the inland country, are distinguished into tribes, the descendants of different ancestors. Of these there are four principal, who are said to trace their origin to four brothers, and to have been united from time immemorial in a league offensive and defensive; though it may be presumed that the permanency of this bond of union is to be attributed rather to considerations of expediency resulting from their situation than to consanguinity or any formal compact.


The inhabitants live in villages, called dusun, each under the government of a headman or magistrate, styled dupati, whose dependants are termed his ana-buah, and in number seldom exceed one hundred. The dupatis belonging to each river (for here, the villages being almost always situated by the waterside, the names we are used to apply to countries or districts are properly those of the rivers) meet in a judicial capacity at the kwalo, where the European factory is established, and are then distinguished by the name of proattin.


The pangeran (a Javanese title), or feudal chief of the country, presides over the whole. It is not an easy matter to describe in what consists the fealty of a dupati to his pangeran, or of his ana-buah to himself, so very little in either case is practically observed. Almost without arts, and with but little industry, the state of property is nearly equal among all the inhabitants, and the chiefs scarcely differ but in title from the bulk of the people.


Their authority is no more than nominal, being without that coercive power necessary to make themselves feared and implicitly obeyed. This is the natural result of poverty among nations habituated to peace; where the two great political engines of interest and military force are wanting. Their government is founded in opinion, and the submission of the people is voluntary. The domestic rule of a private family beyond a doubt suggested first the idea of government in society, and, this people having made but small advances in civil policy, theirs continues to retain a strong resemblance of its original. It is connected also with the principle of the feudal system, into which it would probably settle should it attain to a greater degree of refinement. All the other governments throughout the island are likewise a mixture of the patriarchal and feudal; and it may be observed that, where a spirit of conquest has reduced the inhabitants under the subjection of another power, or has added foreign districts to their dominion, there the feudal maxims prevail: where the natives, from situation or disposition, have long remained undisturbed by revolutions, there the simplicity of patriarchal rule obtains; which is not only the first and natural form of government of all rude nations rising from imperceptible beginnings, but is perhaps also the highest state of perfection at which they can ultimately arrive. It is not in this art alone that we perceive the next step from consummate refinement, leading to simplicity.


The foundation of right to government among these people seems, as I said, to be the general consent. If a chief exerts an undue authority, or departs from their long established customs and usages, they conceive themselves at liberty to relinquish their allegiance. A commanding aspect, an insinuating manner, a ready fluency in discourse, and a penetration and sagacity in unravelling the little intricacies of their disputes, are qualities which seldom fail to procure to their possessor respect and influence, sometimes perhaps superior to that of an acknowledged chief. The pangean indeed claims despotic sway, and as far as he can find the means scruples not to exert it; but, his revenues being insufficient to enable him to keep up any force for carrying his mandates into execution, his actual powers are very limited, and he has seldom found himself able to punish a turbulent subject any otherwise than by private assassination. In appointing the heads of dusuns he does little more than confirm the choice already made among the inhabitants, and, were he arbitrarily to name a person of a different tribe or from another place, he would not be obeyed. He levies no tax, nor has any revenue (what he derives from the India Company being out of the question), or other emolument from his subjects than what accrues to him from the determination of causes. Appeals lie to him in all cases, and none of the inferior courts or assemblies of proattins are competent to pronounce sentence of death. But, all punishments being by the laws of the country commutable for fines, and the appeals being attended with expense and loss of time, the parties generally abide by the first decision. Those dusuns which are situated nearest to the residence of the pangeran, at Sungey-lamo, acknowledge somewhat more of subordination than the distant ones, which even in case of war esteem themselves at liberty to assist or not, as they think proper, without being liable to consequences. In answer to a question on this point, "we are his subjects, not his slaves," replied one of the proattins. But from the pangeran you hear a tale widely different. He has been known to say, in a political conversation, "such and such dusuns there will be no trouble with; they are my powder and shot;" explaining himself by adding that he could dispose of the inhabitants, as his ancestors had done, to purchase ammunition in time of war.


The father of Pangeran Mangko Raja (whose name is preserved from oblivion by the part he took in the expulsion of the English from Fort Marlborough in the year 1719) was the first who bore the title of pangeran of Sungey-lamo. He had before been simply Baginda Sabyam. Until about a hundred years ago the southern coast of Sumatra as far as Urei River was dependant on the king of Bantam, whose Jennang (lieutenant or deputy) came yearly to Silebar or Bencoolen, collected the pepper and filled up the vacancies by nominating, or rather confirming in their appointments, the proattins. Soon after that time, the English having established a settlement at Bencoolen, the jennang informed the chiefs that he should visit them no more, and, raising the two headmen of Sungey-lamo and Sungey-itam (the latter of whom is chief of the Lemba country in the neighbourhood of Bencoolen River; on which however the former possesses some villages, and is chief of the Rejang tribes), to the dignity of pangeran, gave into their hands the government of the country, and withdrew his master's claim. Such is the account given by the present possessors of the origin of their titles, which nearly corresponds with the recorded transactions of the period. It followed naturally that the chief thus invested should lay claim to the absolute authority of the king whom he represented, and on the other hand that the proattins should still consider him but as one of themselves, and pay him little more than nominal obedience. He had no power to enforce his plea, and they retain their privileges, taking no oath of allegiance, nor submitting to be bound by any positive engagement. They speak of him however with respect, and in any moderate requisition that does not affect their adat or customs they are ready enough to aid him (tolong, as they express it), but rather as matter of favour than acknowledged obligation.

The exemption from absolute subjection, which the dupatis contend for, they allow in turn to their ana-buahs, whom they govern by the influence of opinion only. The respect paid to one of these is little more than as to an elder of a family held in esteem, and this the old men of the dusun share with him, sitting by his side in judgment on the little differences that arise among themselves. If they cannot determine the cause, or the dispute be with one of a separate village, the neighbouring proattins of the same tribe meet for the purpose. From these litigations arise some small emoluments to the dupati, whose dignity in other respects is rather an expense than an advantage. In the erection of public works, such as the ballei or town hall, he contributes a larger share of materials. He receives and entertains all strangers, his dependants furnishing their quotas of provision on particular occasions; and their hospitality is such that food and lodging are never refused to those by whom they are required.


Though the rank of dupati is not strictly hereditary the son, when of age and capable, generally succeeds the father at his decease: if too young, the father's brother, or such one of the family as appears most qualified, assumes the post; not as a regent but in his own right; and the minor comes in perhaps at the next vacancy. If this settlement happens to displease any portion of the inhabitants they determine amongst themselves what chief they will follow, and remove to his village, or a few families, separating themselves from the rest, elect a chief, but without contesting the right of him whom they leave. The chiefs, when nominated, do not however assume the title of dupati until confirmed by the pangeran, or by the Company's Resident. On every river there is at least one superior proattin, termed a pambarab, who is chosen by the rest and has the right or duty of presiding at those suits and festivals in which two or more villages are concerned, with a larger allotment of the fines, and (like Homer's distinguished heroes) of the provisions also. If more tribes than one are settled on the same river each has usually its pambarab. Not only the rivers or districts but indeed each dusun is independent of, though not unconnected with, its neighbours, acting in concert with them by specific consent.


The system of government among the people near the sea-coast, who, towards the southern extreme of the island, are the planters of pepper, is much influenced by the power of the Europeans, who are virtually the lords paramount, and exercise in fact many of the functions of sovereignty. The advantages derived to the subject from their sway, both in a political and civil sense, are infinitely greater than persons at a distance are usually inclined to suppose. Oppressions may be some times complained of at the hands of individuals, but, to the honour of the Company's service let me add, they have been very rare and of inconsiderable magnitude. Where a degree of discretionary power is intrusted to single persons abuses will, in the nature of things, arise in some instances; cases may occur in which the private passions of the Resident will interfere with his public duty; but the door has ever been open for redress, and examples have been made. To destroy this influence and authority in order to prevent these consequences were to cut off a limb in order to remove a partial complaint. By the Company's power the districts over which it extends are preserved in uninterrupted peace. Were it not for this power every dusun of every river would be at war with its neighbour. The natives themselves allow it, and it was evinced, even in the short space of time during which the English were absent from the coast, in a former war with France. Hostilities of district against district, so frequent among the independent nations to the northward, are, within the Company's jurisdiction, things unheard of; and those dismal catastrophes which in all the Malayan islands are wont to attend on private feuds but very rarely happen. "I tell you honestly," said a dupati, much irritated against one of his neighbours, "that it is only you," pointing to the Resident of Laye, "that prevents my plunging this weapon into his breast." The Resident is also considered as the protector of the people from the injustice and oppression of the chiefs. This oppression, though not carried on in the way of open force, which the ill-defined nature of their authority would not support, is scarcely less grievous to the sufferer. Expounders of the law, and deeply versed in the chicanery of it, they are ever lying in wait to take advantage of the necessitous and ignorant, till they have stripped them of their property, their family, and their personal liberty. To prevent these practices the partial administration of justice in consequence of bribes, the subornation of witnesses, and the like iniquities, a continual exertion of the Resident's attention and authority is required, and, as that authority is accidentally relaxed, the country falls into confusion.

It is true that this interference is not strictly consonant with the spirit of the original contracts entered into by the Company with the native chiefs, who, in consideration of protection from their enemies, regular purchase of the produce of their country, and a gratuity to themselves proportioned to the quantity of that produce, undertake on their part to oblige their dependants to plant pepper, to refrain from the use of opium, the practice of gaming, and other vicious excesses, and to punish them in case of non-compliance. But, however prudent or equal these contracts might have been at the time their form was established, a change of circumstances, the gradual and necessary increase of the Company's sway which the peace and good of the country required, and the tacit consent of the chiefs themselves (among whom the oldest living have never been used to regard the Company, who have conferred on them their respective dignities, as their equals, or as trading in their districts upon sufferance), have long antiquated them; and custom and experience have introduced in their room an influence on one side, and a subordination on the other, more consistent with the power of the Company and more suitable to the benefits derived from the moderate and humane exercise of that power. Prescription has given its sanction to this change, and the people have submitted to it without murmuring, as it was introduced not suddenly but with the natural course of events, and bettered the condition of the whole while it tended to curb the rapacity of the few. Then let not short-sighted or designing persons, upon false principles of justice, or ill-digested notions of liberty, rashly endeavour to overturn a scheme of government, doubtless not perfect, but which seems best adapted to the circumstances it has respect to, and attended with the fewest disadvantages. Let them not vainly exert themselves to procure redress of imaginary grievances, for persons who complain not, or to infuse a spirit of freedom and independence, in a climate where nature possibly never intended they should flourish, and which, if obtained, would apparently be attended with effects that all their advantages would badly compensate.


In Passummah, which nearly borders upon Rejang, to the southward, there appears some difference in the mode of government, though the same spirit pervades both; the chiefs being equally without a regular coercive power, and the people equally free in the choice of whom they will serve. This is an extensive and comparatively populous country, bounded on the north by that of Lamattang, and on the south-east by that of Lampong, the river of Padang-guchi marking the division from the latter, near the sea-coast. It is distinguished into Passummah lebbar, or the broad, which lies inland, extending to within a day's journey of Muaro Mulang, on Palembang River; and Passummah ulu Manna, which is on the western side of the range of hills, whither the inhabitants are said to have mostly removed in order to avoid the government of Palembang.

It is governed by four pangerans, who are independent of each other but acknowledge a kind of sovereignty in the sultan of Palembang, from whom they hold a chap (warrant) and receive a salin (investiture) on their accession. This subordination is the consequence of the king of Bantam's former influence over this part of the island, Palembang being a port anciently dependent on him, and now on the Dutch, whose instrument the sultan is. There is an inferior pangeran in almost every dusun (that title being nearly as common in Passummah as dupati towards the sea-coast) who are chosen by the inhabitants, and confirmed by the superior pangeran, whom they assist in the determination of causes. In the low country, where the pepper-planters reside, the title of kalippah prevails; which is a corruption of the Arabic word khalifah, signifying a vicegerent. Each of these presides over various tribes, which have been collected at different times (some of them being colonists from Rejang, as well as from a country to the eastward of them, named Haji) and have ranged themselves, some under one and some under another chief; having also their superior proattin, or pambarab, as in the northern districts. On the rivers of Peeno, Manna, and Bankannon are two kalippahs respectively, some of whom are also pangerans, which last seems to be here rather a title of honour, or family distinction, than of magistracy. They are independent of each other, owning no superior; and their number, according to the ideas of the people, cannot be increased.




There is no word in the languages of the island which properly and strictly signifies law; nor is there any person or class of persons among the Rejangs regularly invested with a legislative power. They are governed in their various disputes by a set of long-established customs (adat), handed down to them from their ancestors, the authority of which is founded on usage and general consent. The chiefs, in pronouncing their decisions, are not heard to say, "so the law directs," but "such is the custom." It is true that, if any case arises for which there is no precedent on record (of memory), they deliberate and agree on some mode that shall serve as a rule in future similar circumstances. If the affair be trifling that is seldom objected to; but when it is a matter of consequence the pangeran, or kalippah (in places where such are present), consults with the proattins, or lower order of chiefs, who frequently desire time to consider of it, and consult with the inhabitants of their dusun. When the point is thus determined the people voluntarily submit to observe it as an established custom; but they do not acknowledge a right in the chiefs to constitute what laws they think proper, or to repeal or alter their ancient usages, of which they are extremely tenacious and jealous. It is notwithstanding true that, by the influence of the Europeans, they have at times been prevailed on to submit to innovations in their customs; but, except when they perceived a manifest advantage from the change, they have generally seized an opportunity of reverting to the old practice.


All causes, both civil and criminal, are determined by the several chiefs of the district, assembled together at stated times for the purpose of distributing justice. These meetings are called becharo (which signifies also to discourse or debate), and among us, by an easy corruption, bechars. Their manner of settling litigations in points of property is rather a species of arbitration, each party previously binding himself to submit to the award, than the exertion of a coercive power possessed by the court for the redress of wrongs.

The want of a written criterion of the laws and the imperfect stability of traditionary usage must frequently, in the intricacies of their suits, give rise to contradictory decisions; particularly as the interests and passions of the chiefs are but too often concerned in the determination of the causes that come before them.


This evil had long been perceived by the English Residents, who, in the countries where we are settled, preside at the bechars, and, being instigated by the splendid example of the Governor-general of Bengal (Mr. Hastings), under whose direction a code of the laws of that empire was compiled (and translated by Mr. Halhed), it was resolved that the servants of the Company at each of the subordinates should, with the assistance of the ablest and most experienced of the natives, attempt to reduce to writing and form a system of the usages of the Sumatrans in their respective residencies. This was accordingly executed in some instances, and, a translation of that compiled in the residency of Laye coming into my possession, I insert it here, in the original form, as being attended with more authority and precision than any account furnished from my own memorandums could pretend to.


For the more regular and impartial administration of justice in the Residency of Laye, the laws and customs of the Rejangs, hitherto preserved by tradition, are now, after being discussed, amended, and ratified, in an assembly of the pangeran, pambarabs, and proattins, committed to writing in order that they may not be liable to alteration; that those deserving death or fine may meet their reward; that causes may be brought before the proper judges, and due amends made for defaults; that the compensation for murder may be fully paid; that property may be equitably divided; that what is borrowed may be restored; that gifts may become the undoubted property of the receiver; that debts may be paid and credits received agreeably to the customs that have been ever in force beneath the heavens and on the face of the earth. By the observance of the laws a country is made to flourish, and where they are neglected or violated ruin ensues.



The plaintiff and defendant first state to the bench the general circumstances of the case. If their accounts differ, and they consent to refer the matter to the decision of the proattins or bench, each party is to give a token, to the value of a suku, that he will abide by it, and to find security for the chogo, a sum stated to them, supposed to exceed the utmost probable damages.

If the chogo do not exceed 30 dollars the bio or fee paid by each is 1 1/4 dollars.
If the chogo do not exceed 30 to 50 dollars the bio or fee paid by each is 2 1/2 dollars.
If the chogo do not exceed 50 to 100 dollars the bio or fee paid by each is 5 dollars.
If the chogo do not exceed 100 dollars and upwards the bio or fee paid by each is 9 dollars.

All chiefs of dusuns, or independent tallangs, are entitled to a seat on the bench upon trials.

If the pangeran sits at the bechar he is entitled to one half of all bio, and of such fines, or shares of fines, as fall to the chiefs, the pambarabs, and other proattins dividing the remainder.

If the pangeran be not present the pambarabs have one-third, and the other proattins two-thirds of the foregoing. Though a single pambarab only sit he is equally entitled to the above one-third. Of the other proattins five are requisite to make a quorum.

No bechar, the chogo of which exceeds five dollars, to be held by the proattins, except in the presence of the Company's Resident, or his assistant.

If a person maliciously brings a false accusation and it is proved such, he is liable to pay a sum equal to that which the defendant would have incurred had his design succeeded; which sum is to be divided between the defendant and the proattins, half and half.

The fine for bearing false witness is twenty dollars and a buffalo.

The punishment of perjury is left to the superior powers (orang alus). Evidence here is not delivered on previous oath.


If the father leaves a will, or declares before witnesses his intentions relative to his effects or estate, his pleasure is to be followed in the distribution of them amongst his children.

If he dies intestate and without declaring his intentions the male children inherit, share and share alike, except that the house and pusako (heirlooms, or effects on which, from various causes, superstitious value is placed) devolve invariably to the eldest.

The mother (if by the mode of marriage termed jujur, which, with the other legal terms, will be hereafter explained) and the daughters are dependant on the sons.

If a man, married by semando, dies, leaving children, the effects remain to the wife and children. If the woman dies, the effects remain to the husband and children. If either dies leaving no children the family of the deceased is entitled to half the effects.


Any person unwilling to be answerable for the debts or actions of his son or other relation under his charge may outlaw him, by which he, from that period, relinquishes all family connexion with him, and is no longer responsible for his conduct.

The outlaw to be delivered up to the Resident or pangeran, accompanied with his writ of outlawry, in duplicate, one copy to be lodged with the Resident, and one with the outlaw's pambarab.

The person who outlaws must pay all debts to that day.

On amendment, the outlaw may be recalled to his family, they paying such debts as he may have contracted whilst outlawed, and redeeming his writ by payment of ten dollars and a goat, to be divided among the pangeran and pambarabs.

If an outlaw commits murder he is to suffer death.

If murdered, a bangun, or compensation, of fifty dollars, is to be paid for him to the pangeran.

If an outlaw wounds a person he becomes a slave to the Company or pangeran for three years. If he absconds and is afterwards killed no bangun is to be paid for him.

If an outlaw wounds a person and is killed in the scuffle no bangun is to be paid for him.

If the relations harbour an outlaw they are held willing to redeem him, and become answerable for his debts.


A person convicted of theft pays double the value of the goods stolen, with a fine of twenty dollars and a buffalo, if they exceed the value of five dollars: if under five dollars the fine is five dollars and a goat; the value of the goods still doubled.

All thefts under five dollars, and all disputes for property, or offences to that amount, may be compromised by the proattins whose dependants are concerned.

Neither assertion nor oath of the prosecutor are sufficient for conviction without token (chino) of the robbery, namely, some article recovered of the goods stolen; or evidence sufficient.

If any person, having permission to pass the night in the house of another, shall leave it before daybreak, without giving notice to the family, he shall be held accountable for any thing that may be that night missing.

If a person passing the night in the house of another does not commit his effects to the charge of the owner of it, the latter is not accountable if they are stolen during the night. If he has given them in charge, and the stranger's effects only are lost during the night, the owner of the house becomes accountable. If effects both of the owner and lodger are stolen, each is to make oath to the other that he is not concerned in the robbery, and the parties put up with their loss, or retrieve it as they can.

Oaths are usually made on the koran, or at the grave of an ancestor, according as the Mahometan religion prevails more or less. The party intended to be satisfied by the oath generally prescribes the mode and purport of it.


The bangun or compensation for the murder of a pambarab is 500 dollars.
The bangun or compensation for the murder of an inferior proattin is 250 dollars.
The bangun or compensation for the murder of a common person, man or boy, is 80 dollars.
The bangun or compensation for the murder of a common person, woman or girl, is 150 dollars.
The bangun or compensation for the murder of the legitimate children or wife of a pambarab is 250 dollars.

Exclusive of the above, a fine of fifty dollars and a buffalo as tippong bumi (expiation), is to be paid on the murder of a pambarab; of twenty dollars and a buffalo on the murder of any other; which goes to the pambarab and proattins.

The bangun of an outlaw is fifty dollars without tippong bumi.

No bangun is to be paid for a person killed in the commission of a robbery.

The bangun of pambarabs and proattins is to be divided between the pangeran and pambarabs one half; and the family of the deceased the other half.

The bangun of private persons is to be paid to their families; deducting the adat ulasan of ten per cent to the pambarabs and proattins.

If a man kills his slave he pays half his price as bangun to the pangeran, and the tippong bumi to the proattins.

If a man kills his wife by jujur he pays her bangun to her family, or to the proattins, according as the tali kulo subsists or not.

If a man kills or wounds his wife by semando he pays the same as for a stranger.

If a man wounds his wife by jujur slightly he pays one tail or two dollars.

If a man wounds his wife by jujur with a weapon and an apparent intention of killing her he pays a fine of twenty dollars.

If the tali kulo (tie of relationship) is broken the wife's family can no longer claim bangun or fine: they revert to the proattins.

If a pambarab wounds his wife by jujur he pays five dollars and a goat.

If a pambarab's daughter, married by jujur, is wounded by her husband he pays five dollars and a goat.

For a wound occasioning the loss of an eye or limb or imminent danger of death half the bangun is to be paid.

For a wound on the head the pampas or compensation is twenty dollars.

For other wounds the pampas from twenty dollars downwards.

If a person is carried off and sold beyond the hills the offender, if convicted, must pay the bangun. If the person has been recovered previous to the trial the offender pays half the bangun.

If a man kills his brother he pays to the proattins the tippong bumi.

If a wife kills her husband she must suffer death.

If a wife by semando wounds her husband her relations must pay what they would receive if he wounded her.



On the death of a person in debt (unless he die an outlaw, or married byambel-anak) his nearest relation becomes accountable to the creditors.

Of a person married by ambel-anak the family he married into is answerable for debts contracted during the marriage: such as were previous to it his relations must pay.

A father, or head of a family, has hitherto been in all cases liable to the debts of his sons, or younger relations under his care; but to prevent as much as possible his suffering by their extravagance it is now resolved:

That if a young unmarried man (bujang) borrows money, or purchases goods without the concurrence of his father, or of the head of his family, the parent shall not be answerable for the debt. Should the son use his father's name in borrowing it shall be at the lender's risk if the father disavows it.

If any person gives credit to the debtor of another (publicly known as such, either in the state of mengiring, when the whole of his labour belongs to the creditor, or of be-blah, when it is divided) the latter creditor can neither disturb the debtor for the sum nor oblige the former to pay it. He must either pay the first debt (membulati, consolidate) or let his claim lie over till the debtor finds means to discharge it.

Interest of money has hitherto been three fanams per dollar per month, or one hundred and fifty per cent per annum. It is now reduced to one fanam, or fifty per cent per annum, and no person is to receive more, under penalty of fine, according to the circumstances of the case.

No more than double the principal can in any case be recovered at law. A person lending money at interest, and letting it lie over beyond two years, loses the surplus.

No pepper-planter to be taken as a debtor mengiring, under penalty of forty dollars.

A planter in debt may engage in any work for hire that does not interfere with the care of his garden, but must on no account mengiring, even though his creditor offers to become answerable for the care of his garden.

If a debtor mengiring absconds from his master (or creditor, who has a right to his personal service) without leave of absence he is liable to an increase of debt at the rate of three fanams per day. Females have been hitherto charged six fanams, but are now put upon a footing the same as the men.

If a debtor mengiring, without security, runs away, his debt is liable to be doubled if he is absent above a week.

If a man takes a person mengiring, without security for the debt, should the debtor die in that predicament the creditor loses his money, having no claim on the relations for it.

If a person takes up money under promise of mengiring at a certain period, should he not perform his agreement he must pay interest for the money at one fanam per dollar per month.

If a person, security for another, is obliged to pay the debt he is entitled to demand double from the debtor; but this claim to be moderated according to circumstances.

If a person sues for a debt which is denied the onus probandi lies with the plaintiff. If he fails in proof the defendant, on making oath to the justness of his denial, shall be acquitted.

If a debtor taking care of a pepper garden, or one that gives half produce to his creditor (be-blah), neglects it, the person in whose debt he is must hire a man to do the necessary work; and the hire so paid shall be added to the debt. Previous notice shall however be given to the debtor, that he may if he pleases avoid the payment of the hire by doing the work himself.

If a person's slave, or debtor mengiring, be carried off and sold beyond the hills the offender is liable to the bangun, if a debtor, or to his price, if a slave. Should the person be recovered the offender is liable to a fine of forty dollars, of which the person that recovers him has half, and the owner or creditor the remainder. If the offender be not secured the reward shall be only five dollars to the person that brings the slave, and three dollars the debtor, if on this side the hills; if from beyond the hills the reward is doubled.


The modes of marriage prevailing hitherto have been principally by jujur, or by ambel-anak, the Malay semando being little used. The obvious ill consequences of the two former, from the debt or slavery they entailed upon the man that married, and the endless lawsuits they gave rise to, have at length induced the chiefs to concur in their being as far as possible laid aside; adopting in lieu of them the semando malayo, or mardiko, which they now strongly recommend to their dependants as free from the encumbrances of the other modes, and tending, by facilitating marriage, and the consequent increase of population, to promote the welfare of their country. Unwilling, however, to abolish arbitrarily a favourite custom of their ancestors, marriage by jujur is still permitted to take place, but under such restrictions as will, it is hoped, effectually counteract its hitherto pernicious consequences. Marriage by ambel-anak, which rendered a man and his descendants the property of the family he married into, is now prohibited, and none permitted for the future, but, by semando, or jujur, subject to the following regulations.

The jujur of a virgin (gadis) has been hitherto one hundred and twenty dollars: the adat annexed to it have been tulis-tanggil, fifteen dollars; upah daun kodo, six dollars, and tali kulo, five dollars:

The jujur of a widow, eighty dollars, without the adat; unless her children by the former marriage went with her, in which case the jujur gadis was paid in full.

It is now determined that, on a man's giving his daughter in marriage by jujur for the future, there shall, in lieu of the above, be fixed a sum not exceeding one hundred and fifty dollars, to be in full for jujur and all adat whatever. That this sum shall, when the marriage takes place, be paid upon the spot; that if credit is given for the whole, or any part, it shall not be recoverable by course of law; and as the sum includes the tali kulo, or bond of relationship, the wife thereby becomes the absolute property of the husband. The marriage by jujur being thus rendered equivalent to actual sale, and the difficulty enhanced by the necessity of paying the full price upon the spot, it is probable that the custom will in a great measure cease, and, though not positively, be virtually abolished. Nor can a lawsuit follow from any future jujur.

The adat, or custom, of the semando malayo or mardiko, to be paid by the husband to the wife's family upon the marriage taking place, is fixed at twenty dollars and a buffalo, for such as can afford it; and at ten dollars and a goat, for the poorer class of people.

Whatever may be acquired by either party during the subsistence of the marriage becomes joint property, and they are jointly liable to debts incurred, if by mutual consent. Should either contract debts without the knowledge and consent of the other the party that contracts must alone bear them in case of a divorce.

If either party insists upon, or both agree in it, a divorce must follow. No other power can separate them. The effects, debts, and credits in all cases to be equally divided. If the man insists upon the divorce he pays a charo of twenty dollars to the wife's family, if he obtained her a virgin; if a widow, ten dollars. If the woman insists on the divorce no charo is to be paid. If both agree in it the man pays half the charo.

If a man married by semando dies--Vide Inheritance.

If a man carries off a woman with her consent, and is willing either to pay her price at once by jujur, or marry her by semando, as the father or relations please, they cannot reclaim the woman, and the marriage takes place.

If a man carries off a girl under age (which is determined by her not having her ears bored and teeth filed--bulum bertinde berdabong), though with her own consent, he pays, exclusive of the adat jujur, or semando, twenty dollars if she be the daughter of a pambarab, and ten dollars for the daughter of any other, whether the marriage takes place or not.

If a risau, or person without property and character, carries off a woman (though with her own consent) and can neither pay the jujur, nor adat semando, the marriage shall not take place, but the man be fined five dollars and a goat for misdemeanour. If she be under age, his fine ten dollars and a goat.

If a man has but one daughter, whom, to keep her near him, he wishes to give in marriage by semando; should a man carry her off, he shall not be allowed to keep her by jujur, though he offer the money upon the spot. If he refuses to marry her by semando, no marriage takes place, and he incurs a fine to the father of ten dollars and a goat.

If a man carries off a woman under pretence of marriage he must lodge her immediately with some reputable family. If he carries her elsewhere, for a single night he incurs a fine of fifty dollars, payable to her parents or relations.

If a man carries off a virgin against her inclination (me-ulih) he incurs a fine of twenty dollars and a buffalo: if a widow, ten dollars and a goat, and the marriage does not take place. If he commits a rape, and the parents do not choose to give her to him in marriage, he incurs a fine of fifty dollars.

The adat libei, or custom of giving one woman in exchange for another taken in marriage, being a modification of the jujur, is still admitted of; but if the one be not deemed an equivalent for the other the necessary compensation (as the pangalappang, for nonage) must be paid upon the spot, or it is not recoverable by course of law. If a virgin is carried off (te-lari gadis) and another is given in exchange for her, by adat libei, twelve dollars must be paid with the latter as adat ka-salah.

A man married by ambel-anak may redeem himself and family on payment of the jujur and adat of a virgin before-mentioned.

The charo of a jujur marriage is twenty-five dollars. If the jujur be not yet paid in full and the man insists on a divorce he receives back what he has paid, less twenty-five dollars. If the woman insists no charo can be claimed by her relations. If the tali kulo is putus (broken) the wife is the husband's property and he may sell her if he pleases.

If a man compels a female debtor of his to cohabit with him her debt, if the fact be proved, is thereby discharged, if forty dollars and upwards: if under forty the debt is cleared and he pays the difference. If she accuses her master falsely of this offence her debt is doubled. If he cohabits with her by her consent her parents may compel him to marry her, either by jujur or semando, as they please.

If an unmarried woman proves with child the man against whom the fact is proved must marry her; and they pay to the proattins a joint fine of twenty dollars and a buffalo. This fine, if the parties agree to it, may be levied in the country by the neighbouring proattins (without bringing it before the regular court).

If a woman proves with child by a relation within the prohibited degrees they pay to the proattins a joint fine of twice fifty dollars and two buffaloes (hukum duo akup).

A marriage must not take place between relations within the third degree, or tungal nene. But there are exceptions for the descendants of females who, passing into other families, become as strangers. Of two brothers, the children may not intermarry. A sister's son may marry a brother's daughter; but a brother's son may not marry a sister's daughter.

If relations within the prohibited degrees intermarry they incur a fine of twice fifty dollars and two buffaloes, and the marriage is not valid.

On the death of a man married by jujur or purchase, any of his brothers, the eldest in preference, if he pleases, may succeed to his bed. If no brother chooses it they may give the woman in marriage to any relation on the father's side, without adat, the person who marries her replacing the deceased (mangabalu). If no relation takes her and she is given in marriage to a stranger he may be either adopted into the family to replace the deceased, without adot, or he may pay her jujur, or take her by semando, as her relations please.

If a person lies with a man's wife by force he is deserving of death; but may redeem his head by payment of the bangun, eighty dollars, to be divided between the husband and proattins.

If a man surprises his wife in the act of adultery he may put both man and woman to death upon the spot, without being liable to any bangun. If he kills the man and spares his wife he must redeem her life by payment of fifty dollars to the proattins. If the husband spares the offender, or has only information of the fact from other persons, he may not afterwards kill him, but has his remedy at law, the fine for adultery being fifty dollars, to be divided between the husband and the proattins. If he divorces his wife on this account he pays no charo.

If a younger sister be first married, the husband pays six dollars, adat pelalu, for passing over the elder.


All gaming, except cock-fighting at stated periods, is absolutely prohibited. The fine for each offence is fifty dollars. The person in whose house it is carried on, if with his knowledge, is equally liable to the fine with the gamesters. A proattin knowing of gaming in his dusun and concealing it incurs a fine of twenty dollars. One half of the fines goes to the informer, the other to the Company, to be distributed among the industrious planters at the yearly payment of the customs.


The fine for the retailing of opium by any other than the person who farms the license is fifty dollars for each offence: one half to the farmer, and the other to the informer.


The executive power for enforcing obedience to these laws and customs, and for preserving the peace of the country, is, with the concurrence of the pangeran and proattins, vested in the Company's Resident.

Done at Laye, in the month Rabia-al akhir, in the year of the Hejra 1193, answering to April 1779.



Having procured likewise a copy of the regulations sanctioned by the chiefs of the Passummah country assembled at Manna, I do not hesitate to insert it, not only as varying in many circumstances from the preceding, but because it may eventually prove useful to record the document.


If a person dies having children these inherit his effects in equal portions, and become answerable for the debts of the deceased. If any of his brothers survive they may be permitted to share with their nephews, but rather as matter of courtesy than of right, and only when the effects of the deceased devolved to him from his father or grandfather. If he was a man of rank it is common for the son who succeeds him in title to have a larger share. This succession is not confined to the eldest born but depends much on private agreement in the family. If the deceased person leaves no kindred behind him the tribe to which he belonged shall inherit his effects, and be answerable for his debts.


When a debt becomes due and the debtor is unable to pay his creditors, or has no effects to deposit, he shall himself, or his wife, or his children, live with the creditor as a bond-slave or slaves until redeemed by the payment of the debt.

If a debt is contracted without any promise of interest none shall be demanded, although the debt be not paid until some time after it first became due. The rate of interest is settled at twenty per cent per annum; but in all suits relating to debts on interest, how long soever they may have been outstanding, the creditor shall not be entitled to more interest than may amount to a sum equal to the capital: if the debt is recent it shall be calculated as above. If any person lends to another a sum exceeding twenty-five dollars and sues for payment before the chiefs he shall be entitled only to one year's interest on the sum lent. If money is lent to the owner of a padi-plantation, on an agreement to pay interest in grain, and after the harvest is over the borrower omits to pay the stipulated quantity, the lender shall be entitled to receive at the rate of fifteen dollars for ten lent; and if the omission should be repeated another season the lender shall be entitled to receive double the principal. In all cases of debt contested the onus probandi lies with the demandant, who must make good his claim by creditable evidence, or in default thereof the respondent may by oath clear himself from the debt. On the other hand, if the respondent allows such a debt to have existed but asserts a previous payment, it rests with him to prove such payment by proper evidence, or in defect the demandant shall by oath establish his debt.



In order to be deemed a competent and unexceptionable evidence person must be of a different family and dusun from the person in whose behalf he gives evidence, of good character, and a free man: but if the dispute be between two inhabitants of the same dusun persons of such dusun are allowed to be complete evidence. In respect to the oath taken by the principals in a dispute the hukuman (or comprehensive quality of the oath) depends on the nature of the property in dispute: if it relates to the effects of the grandfather the hukuman must extend to the descendants from the grandfather; if it relates to the effects of the father it extends to the descendants of the father, etc. If any of the parties proposed to be included in the operation of the oath refuse to subject themselves to the oath the principal in the suit loses his cause.


If any person holding a pawn or pledge such as wearing-apparel, household effects, or krises, swords, or kujur (lances), shall pledge it for a larger sum than he advanced for it, he shall be answerable to the owner for the full value of it, on payment of the sum originally advanced. If any person holding as a pledge man, woman, or child shall pledge them to any other at an advanced sum, or without the knowledge of the owner, and by these means the person pledged should be sold as a slave, he shall make good to the owner the full value of such slave, and pay a fine of twenty-eight dollars. If any person whatever holding man, woman, or child as a pawn, either with janji lalu (term expired) or not, or with or without the consent of the original owner, shall sell such person as a slave without the knowledge of the Resident and Chiefs, he shall be fined twenty-eight dollars.



All persons who keep buffaloes shall register at the godong (factory­house) their tingas or mark; and, in case any dispute shall arise about a marked buffalo, no person shall be allowed to plead a mark that is not registered. If any wild (stray) buffalo or buffaloes, unmarked, shall be taken in a kandang (staked inclosure) they shall be adjudged the property of any who takes upon himself to swear to them; and, if it should happen that two or more persons insist upon swearing to the same buffaloes, they shall be divided among them equally. If no individual will swear to the property the buffaloes are to be considered as belonging to the kalippah or magistrate of the district where they were caught. The person who takes any buffaloes in his kandang shall be entitled to a gratuity of two dollars per head. If any buffaloes get into a pepper-garden, either by day or night, the owner of the garden shall have liberty to kill them, without being answerable to the owner of the buffaloes: yet, if it shall appear on examination that the garden was not properly fenced, and from this defect suffers damage, the owner shall be liable to such fine as the Resident and Chiefs shall judge it proper to impose.


A person convicted of stealing money, wearing-apparel, household effects, arms, or the like shall pay the owner double the value of the goods stolen and be fined twenty-eight dollars. A person convicted of stealing slaves shall pay to the owner at the rate of eighty dollars per head, which is estimated to be double the value, and fined twenty­eight dollars. A person convicted of stealing betel, fowls, or coconuts shall pay the owner double the value and be fined seven dollars, half of which fine is to be received by the owner. If buffaloes are stolen they shall be valued at twelve dollars per head: padi at four bakul (baskets) for the dollar. If the stolen goods be found in the possession of a person who is not able to account satisfactorily how he came by them he shall be deemed the guilty person. If a person attempting to seize a man in the act of thieving shall get hold of any part of his clothes which are known, or his kris or siwah, this shall be deemed a sufficient token of the theft. If two witnesses can be found who saw the stolen goods in possession of a third person such person shall be deemed guilty unless he can account satisfactorily how he became possessed of the goods. The oath taken by such witnesses shall either include the descendants of their father, or simply their own descendants, according to the discretion of the chiefs who sit as judges. If several people sleep in one house, and one of them leaves the house in the night without giving notice to any of the rest, and a robbery be committed in the house that night, the person so leaving the house shall be deemed guilty of the crime, provided the owner of the stolen goods be willing to subject himself to an oath on the occasion; and provided the other persons sleeping in the house shall clear themselves by oath from being concerned in the theft: but if it should happen that a person so convicted, being really innocent, should in after time discover the person actually guilty, he shall have liberty to bring his suit and recover. If several persons are sleeping in a house and a robbery is committed that night, although none leave the house the whole shall be obliged to make oath that they had no knowledge of, or concern in, the theft, or on refusal shall be deemed guilty. In all cases of theft where only a part of the stolen goods is found the owner must ascertain upon oath the whole amount of his loss.


A person convicted of murder shall pay to the relations of the deceased a bangun of eighty-eight dollars, one suku, and seventy-five cash; to the chiefs a fine of twenty-eight dollars; the bhasa lurah, which is a buffalo and one hundred bamboos of rice; and the palantan, which is fourteen dollars. If a son kills his father, or a father his son, or a man kills his brother, he shall pay a fine of twenty-eight dollars, and the bhasa lurah as above. If a man kills his wife the relations of the deceased shall receive half a bangun: if any other kills a man's wife the husband is entitled to the bangun, but shall pay out of it to the relations of the wife ten dollars. In wounds a distinction is made in the parts of the body. A wound in any part from the hips upward is esteemed more considerable than in the lower parts. If a person wounds another with sword, kris, kujur, or other weapon, and the wound is considerable, so as to maim him, he shall pay to the person wounded a half-bangun, and to the chiefs half of the fine for murder, with half of the bhasa lurah, etc. If the wound is trifling but fetches blood he shall pay the person wounded the tepong of fourteen dollars, and be fined fourteen dollars. If a person wounds another with a stick, bamboo, etc., he shall simply pay the tepong of fourteen dollars. If in any dispute between two people krises are drawn the person who first drew his kris shall be fined fourteen dollars. If any person having a dispute assembles together his friends with arms, he shall be fined twenty-eight dollars.



There are two modes of marriage used here: one by purchase, called jujur or kulu, the other by adoption, called ambel anak. First of jujur.


When a person is desirous of marrying he deposits a sum of money in the hands of the father of the virgin, which is called the pagatan. This sum is not esteemed part of the purchase, but as an equivalent for the dandanan (paraphernalia, or ornamental apparel) of the bride, and is not fixed but varies according to the circumstances and rank of the father. The amount of the jujur is fixed at seventy dollars, including the hurup niawa (price of life), forty dollars, a kris with gold about the head and silver about the sheath, valued at ten dollars, and the meniudakan billi or putus kulo (completion of purchase) at twenty. If a young man runs away with a gadis or virgin without the consent of the father he does not act contrary to the laws of the country; but if he refuses to pay the full jujur on demand he shall be fined twenty­eight dollars. If the father, having received the pagatan of one man, marries his daughter to another before he returns the money to the first, he shall be fined fourteen dollars, and the man who marries the daughter shall also be fined fourteen dollars. In case of divorce (which may take place at the will of either party) the dandanan brought by the wife is to be valued and to be deducted from the purchase-money. If a divorce originates from the man, and before the whole purchase­money is paid, the man shall receive back what he has advanced after deducting the dandanan as above, and fourteen dollars, called penusutan. If the divorce originates with the woman the whole purchase-money shall be returned, and the children, if any, remain with the father. If a divorce originates with the man, when the whole purchase-money has been paid, or kulo sudah putus, he shall not be entitled to receive back the purchase-money, but may recall his wife whenever it shall be agreeable to him. An exact estimation is made of the value of the woman's ornaments, and what are not restored with her must be made good by the husband. If there are children they are in this case to be divided, or if there be only one the husband is to allow the woman fifteen dollars, and to take the child. Secondly, of ambel anak.


When a man marries after the custom called ambel anak he pays no money to the father of the bride, but becomes one of his family, and is entirely upon the footing of a son, the father of his wife being thenceforward answerable for his debts, etc., in the same manner as for his own children. The married man becomes entirely separate from his original family, and gives up his right of inheritance. It is however in the power of the father of the wife to divorce from her his adopted son whenever he thinks proper, in which case the husband is not entitled to any of the children, nor to any effects other than simply the clothes on his back: but if the wife is willing still to live with him, and he is able to redeem her and the children by paying the father a hundred dollars, it is not at the option of the father to refuse accepting this sum; and in that case the marriage becomes a kulo or jujur, and is subject to the same rules. If any unmarried woman is convicted of incontinence, or a married woman of adultery, they shall pay to the chiefs a fine of forty dollars, or in defect thereof become slaves, and the man with whom the crime was committed shall pay a fine of thirty dollars, or in like manner become a slave; and the parties between them shall also be at the expense of a buffalo and a hundred bamboos of rice. This is called the gawe pati or panjingan. If an unmarried woman proves with child and refuses to name the man with whom she was guilty she shall pay the whole fine of seventy dollars, and furnish the buffalo, etc. If a woman after marriage brings forth a child before the due course of nature she shall be fined twenty-eight dollars. If a man keeps a young woman in his house for any length of time, and has a child by her without being regularly married, he shall be fined twenty-eight dollars, and furnish a buffalo and a hundred bamboos of rice. If a person detects the offenders in the act of adultery, and, attempting to seize the man, is obliged to kill him in self-defence, he shall not pay the bangun, nor be fined, but only pay the bhasa lurah, which is a buffalo and a hundred bamboos of rice. On the other hand, if the guilty person kills the one who attempts to seize him, he shall be deemed guilty of murder and pay the bangun and fine accordingly. If a man holding a woman as a pawn, or in the condition of mengiring shall commit fornication with her, he shall forfeit his claim to the debt, and the woman become free.


If the members of a family have suffered inconvenience from the ill conduct of any of their relations by having been rendered answerable for their debts, etc., it shall be in their power to clear themselves from all future responsibility on his account by paying to the chiefs the sum of thirty dollars, a buffalo, and a hundred bamboos of rice. This is termed buang surat. Should the person so cast out be afterwards murdered the relations have forfeited their right to the bangun, which devolves to the chiefs.

Dated at Manna, July 1807.

JOHN CRISP, Resident.




The foregoing system of the adat, or customs of the country, being digested chiefly for the use of the natives, or of persons well acquainted with their manners in general, and being designed, not for an illustration of the customs, but simply as a standard of right, the fewest and concisest terms possible have been made use of, and many parts must necessarily be obscure to the bulk of readers. I shall therefore revert to those particulars that may require explanation, and endeavour to throw a light upon the spirit and operation of such of their laws especially as seem most to clash with our ideas of distributive justice. This comment is the more requisite as it appears that some of their regulations, which were judged to be inconsistent with the prosperity of the people, were altered and amended through the more enlightened reason of the persons who acted as the representatives of the English company; and it may be proper to recall the idea of the original institutions.


The plaintiff and defendant usually plead their own cause, but if circumstances render them unequal to it they are allowed to pinjam mulut (borrow a mouth). Their advocate may be a proattin, or other person indifferently; nor is there any stated compensation for the assistance, though if the cause be gained a gratuity is generally given, and too apt to be rapaciously exacted by these chiefs from their clients, when their conduct is not attentively watched. The proattin also, who is security for the damages, receives privately some consideration; but none is openly allowed of. A refusal on his part to become security for his dependant or client is held to justify the latter in renouncing his civil dependence and choosing another patron.


Evidence is used among these people in a manner very different from the forms of our courts of justice. They rarely admit it on both sides of the question; nor does the witness first make a general oath to speak the truth, and nothing but the truth. When a fact is to be established, either on the part of the plaintiff or of the defendant, he is asked if he can produce any evidence to the truth of what he asserts. On answering in the affirmative he is directed to mention the person. This witness must not be a relation, a party concerned, nor even belong to the same dusun. He must be a responsible man, having a family, and a determinate place of residence. Thus qualified, his evidence may be admitted. They have a settled rule in respect to the party that is to produce evidence. For instance; A. sues B. for a debt: B. denies the debt: A. is now to bring evidence to the debt, or, on failure thereof, it remains with B. to clear himself of the debt by swearing himself not indebted. Had B. acknowledged that such a debt had formerly subsisted but was since paid, it would be incumbent on B. to prove the payment by evidence, or on failure it would rest with A. to confirm the debt's being still due, by his oath. This is an invariable mode, observed in all cases of property.


As their manner of giving evidence differs from ours so also does the nature of an oath among them differ from our idea of it. In many cases it is requisite that they should swear to what it is not possible in the nature of things they should know to be true. A. sues B. for a debt due from the father or grandfather of B. to the father or grandfather of A. The original parties are dead and no witness of the transaction survives. How is the matter to be decided? It remains with B. to make oath that his father or grandfather never was indebted to those of A.; or that if he was indebted the debt had been paid. This, among us, would be esteemed a very strange method of deciding causes; but among these people something of the kind is absolutely necessary. As they have no sort of written accounts, nor anything like records or registers among them, it would be utterly impossible for the plaintiff to establish the debt by a positive proof in a multitude of cases; and were the suit to be dismissed at once, as with us, for want of such proof, numbers of innocent persons would lose the debts really due to them through the knavery of the persons indebted, who would scarce ever fail to deny a debt. On the side of the defendant again; if he was not permitted to clear himself of the debt by oath, but that it rested with the plaintiff only to establish the fact by a single oath, there would be a set of unprincipled fellows daily swearing debts against persons who never were indebted to any of their generation. In such suits, and there are many of them, it requires no small discernment to discover, by the attendant circumstances, where the truth lies; but this may be done in most instances by a person who is used to their manners and has a personal knowledge of the parties concerned. But what they mean by their oath, in those cases where it is impossible they should be acquainted with the facts they design to prove, is no more than this; that they are so convinced of the truth of the matter as to be willing to subject themselves to the paju sumpah (destructive consequences of perjury) if what they assert is believed by them to be false. The form of words used is nearly as follows: "If what I now declare, namely" (here the fact is recited) "is truly and really so, may I be freed and clear from my oath: if what I assert is wittingly false, may my oath be the cause of my destruction." But it may be easily supposed that, where the punishment for a false oath rests altogether with the invisible powers, where no direct infamy, no corporal punishment is annexed to the perjury, there cannot fail to be many who would makan sumpah (swallow an oath), and willingly incur the guilt, in order to acquire a little of their neighbour's property.

Although an oath, as being an appeal to the superior powers, is supposed to come within their cognizance alone, and that it is contrary to the spirit of the customs of these people to punish a perjury by human means, even if it were clearly detected; yet, so far prevalent is the opinion of their interposition in human affairs that it is very seldom any man of substance, or who has a family that he fears may suffer by it, will venture to forswear himself; nor are there wanting apparent examples to confirm them in this notion. Any accident that happens to a man who has been known to take a false oath, or to his children or grandchildren, is carefully recorded in memory, and attributed to this sole cause. The dupati of Gunong Selong and his family have afforded an instance that is often quoted among the Rejangs, and has evidently had great weight. It was notorious that he had, about the year 1770, taken in the most solemn manner a false oath. He had at that time five sons grown up to manhood. One of them, soon after, in a scuffle with some bugis (country soldiers) was wounded and died. The dupati the next year lost his life in the issue of a disturbance he had raised in the district. Two of the sons died afterwards, within a week of each other. Mas Kaddah, the fourth, is blind; and Treman, the fifth, lame. All this is attributed to, and firmly believed to be the consequence of, the father's perjury.


In administering an oath, if the matter litigated respects the property of the grandfather, all the collateral branches of the family descended from him are understood to be included in its operation: if the father's effects only are concerned, or the transaction happened in his lifetime, his descendants are included: if the affair regards only the present parties and originated with them, they and their immediate descendants only are comprehended in the consequences of the oath; and if any single one of these descendants refuses to join in the oath it vitiates the whole; that is, it has the same effect as if the party himself refused to swear; a case that not unfrequently occurs. It may be observed that the spirit of this custom tends to the requiring a weight of evidence and an increase of the importance of the oath in proportion as the distance of time renders the fact to be established less capable of proof in the ordinary way.

Sometimes the difficulty of the case alone will induce the court to insist on administering the oath to the relations of the parties, although they are nowise concerned in the transaction. I recollect an instance where three people were prosecuted for a theft. There was no positive proof against them, yet the circumstances were so strong that it appeared proper to put them to the test of one of these collateral oaths. They were all willing, and two of them swore. When it came to the turn of the third he could not persuade his relations to join with him, and he was accordingly brought in for the whole amount of the goods stolen, and penalties annexed.

These customs bear a strong resemblance to the rules of proof established among our ancestors, the Anglo-Saxons, who were likewise obliged, in the case of oaths taken for the purpose of exculpation, to produce a certain number of compurgators; but, as these might be any indifferent persons, who would take upon them to bear testimony to the truth of what their neighbour swore, from an opinion of his veracity, there seems to be more refinement and more knowledge of human nature in the Sumatran practice. The idea of devoting to destruction, by a wilful perjury, not himself only, but all, even the remotest branches, of a family which constitutes his greatest pride, and of which the deceased heads are regarded with the veneration that was paid to the dii lares of the ancients, has doubtless restrained many a man from taking a false oath, who without much compunction would suffer thirty or a hundred compurgators of the former description to take their chance of that fate. Their strongest prejudices are here converted to the most beneficial purposes.


The place of greatest solemnity for administering an oath is the krammat or burying-ground of their ancestors, and several superstitious ceremonies are observed on the occasion. The people near the sea-coast, in general, by long intercourse with the Malays, have an idea of the Koran, and usually employ this in swearing, which the priests do not fail to make them pay for; but the inland people keep, laid up in their houses, certain old reliques, called in the Rejang language pesakko, and in Malayan, sactian, which they produce when an oath is to be taken. The person who has lost his cause, and with whom it commonly rests to bind his adversary by an oath, often desires two or three days' time to get ready these his swearing apparatus, called on such occasions sumpahan, of which some are looked upon as more sacred and of greater efficacy than others. They consist of an old rusty kris, a broken gun barrel, or any ancient trumpery, to which chance or caprice has annexed an idea of extraordinary virtue. These they generally dip in water, which the person who swears drinks off, after having pronounced the form of words before mentioned.* The pangeran of Sungei-lamo has by him certain copper bullets which had been steeped in water drunk by the Sungei­etam chiefs, when they bound themselves never to molest his districts: which they have only done since as often as they could venture it with safety, from the relaxation of our government. But these were political oaths. The most ordinary sumpahan is a kris, and on the blade of this they sometimes drop lime-juice, which occasions a stain on the lips of the person performing the ceremony; a circumstance that may not improbably be supposed to make an impression on a weak and guilty mind. Such would fancy that the external stain conveyed to the beholders an image of the internal. At Manna the sumpahan most respected is a gun barrel. When produced to be sworn on it is carried to the spot in state, under an umbrella, and wrapped in silk. This parade has an advantageous effect by influencing the mind of the party with a high idea of the importance and solemnity of the business. In England the familiarity of the object and the summary method of administering oaths are well known to diminish their weight, and to render them too often nugatory. They sometimes swear by the earth, laying their hands upon it and wishing that it may never produce aught for their nourishment if they speak falsely. In all these ceremonies they burn on the spot a little gum benzoin--Et acerra thuris plena, positusque carbo in cespite vivo.

(*Footnote. The form of taking an oath among the people of Madagascar very nearly resembles the ceremonies used by the Sumatrans. There is a strong similarity in the articles they swear on and in the circumstance of their drinking the consecrated water.)

It is a striking circumstance that practices which boast so little of reason in their foundation, which are in fact so whimsical and childish, should yet be common to nations the most remote in situation, climate, language, complexion, character, and everything that can distinguish one race of people from another. Formed of like materials, and furnished with like original sentiments, the uncivilized tribes of Europe and of India trembled from the same apprehensions, excited by similar ideas, at a time when they were ignorant, or even denied the possibility of each other's existence. Mutual wrong and animosity, attended with disputes and accusations, are not by nature confined to either description of people. Each, in doubtful litigations, might seek to prove their innocence by braving, on the justice of their cause, those objects which inspired amongst their countrymen the greatest terror. The Sumatran, impressed with an idea of invisible powers, but not of his own immortality, regards with awe the supposed instruments of their agency, and swears on krises, bullets, and gun barrels; weapons of personal destruction. The German Christian of the seventh century, more indifferent to the perils of this life, but not less superstitious, swore on bits of rotten wood and rusty nails, which he was taught to revere as possessing efficacy to secure him from eternal perdition.


When a man dies his effects, in common course, descend to his male children in equal shares; but if one among them is remarkable for his abilities above the rest, though not the eldest, he usually obtains the largest proportion, and becomes the head of the tungguan or house; the others voluntarily yielding him the superiority. A pangeran of Manna left several children; none of them succeeded to the title, but a name of distinction was given to one of the younger, who was looked upon as chief of the family after the father's decease. Upon asking the eldest how it happened that the name of distinction passed over him and was conferred on his younger brother, he answered with great naivete, "because I am accounted weak and silly." If no male children are left and a daughter only remains they contrive to get her married by the mode of ambel anak, and thus the tungguan of the father continues. An equal distribution of property among children is more natural and conformable to justice than vesting the whole in the eldest son, as prevails throughout most part of Europe; but where wealth consists in landed estate the latter mode, beside favouring the pride of family, is attended with fewest inconveniences. The property of the Sumatrans being personal merely, this reason does not operate with them. Land is so abundant in proportion to the population that they scarcely consider it as the subject of right any more than the elements of air and water; excepting so far as in speculation the prince lays claim to the whole. The ground however on which a man plants or builds, with the consent of his neighbours, becomes a species of nominal property, and is transferable; but as it costs him nothing beside his labour it is only the produce which is esteemed of value, and the compensation he receives is for this alone. A temporary usufruct is accordingly all that they attend to, and the price, in case of sale, is generally ascertained by the coconut, durian, and other fruit-trees that have been planted on it; the buildings being for the most part but little durable. Whilst any of those subsist the descendants of the planter may claim the ground, though it has been for years abandoned. If they are cut down he may recover damages; but if they have disappeared in the course of nature the land reverts to the public.

They have a custom of keeping by them a sum of money as a resource against extremity of distress, and which common exigencies do not call forth. This is a refined antidote against despair, because, whilst it remains possible to avoid encroaching on that treasure, their affairs are not at the worst, and the idea of the little hoard serves to buoy up their spirits and encourage them to struggle with wretchedness. It usually therefore continues inviolate and descends to the heir, or is lost to him by the sudden exit of the parent. From their apprehension of dishonesty and insecurity of their houses their money is for the most part concealed in the ground, the cavity of an old beam, or other secret place; and a man on his death-bed has commonly some important discovery of this nature to make to his assembled relations.


The practice of outlawing an individual of a family by the head of it (called lepas or buang dangan surat, to let loose, or cast out with a writing) has its foundation in the custom which obliges all the branches to be responsible for the debts contracted by any one of the kindred. When an extravagant and unprincipled spendthrift is running a career that appears likely to involve his family in ruinous consequences, they have the right of dissolving the connexion and clearing themselves of further responsibility by this public act, which, as the writ expresses it, sends forth the outcast, as a deer into the woods, no longer to be considered as enjoying the privileges of society. This character is what they term risau, though it is sometimes applied to persons not absolutely outlawed, but of debauched and irregular manners.

In the Saxon law we find a strong resemblance to this custom; the kindred of a murderer being exempt from the feud if they abandoned him to his fate. They bound themselves in this case neither to converse with him nor to furnish him with meat or other necessaries. This is precisely the Sumatran outlawry, in which it is always particularly specified (beside what relates to common debts) that if the outlaw kills a person the relations shall not pay the compensation, nor claim it if he is killed. But the writ must have been issued before the event, and they cannot free themselves by a subsequent process, as it would seem the Saxons might. If an outlaw commits murder the friends of the deceased may take personal revenge on him, and are not liable to be called to an account for it; but if such be killed, otherwise than in satisfaction for murder, although his family have no claim, the prince of the country is entitled to a certain compensation, all outlaws being nominally his property, like other wild animals.


It seems strange to those who are accustomed to the severity of penal laws, which in most instances inflict punishment exceeding by many degrees the measure of the offence, how a society can exist in which the greatest of all crimes is, agreeably to established custom, expiated by the payment of a certain sum of money; a sum not proportioned to the rank and ability of the murderer, nor to the premeditation, or other aggravating circumstances of the fact, but regulated only by the quality of the person murdered. The practice had doubtless its source in the imbecility of government, which, being unable to enforce the law of retaliation, the most obvious rule of punishment, had recourse to a milder scheme of retribution as being preferable to absolute indemnity. The latter it was competent to carry into execution because the guilty persons readily submit to a penalty which effectually relieves them from the burden of anxiety for the consequences of their action. Instances occur in the history of all states, particularly those which suffer from internal weakness, of iniquities going unpunished, owing to the rigour of the pains denounced against them by the law, which defeats its own purpose. The original mode of avenging a murder was probably by the arm of the person nearest in consanguinity, or friendship, to the deceased; but this was evidently destructive of the public tranquillity, because thereby the wrong became progressive, each act of satisfaction, or justice, as it was called, being the source of a new revenge, till the feud became general in the community; and some method would naturally be suggested to put a stop to such confusion. The most direct step is to vest in the magistrate or the law the rights of the injured party, and to arm them with a vindictive power; which principle the policy of more civilized societies has refined to that of making examples in terrorem, with a view of preventing future, not of revenging past crimes. But this requires a firmness of authority to which the Sumatran governments are strangers. They are without coercive power, and the submission of the people is little other than voluntary; especially of the men of influence, who are held in subjection rather by the sense of general utility planted in the breast of mankind, attachment to their family and connexions, and veneration for the spot in which their ancestors were interred, than by the apprehension of any superior authority. These considerations however they would readily forego, renounce their fealty, and quit their country, if in any case they were in danger of paying with life the forfeit of their crimes; to lesser punishments those ties induce them to submit; and to strengthen this hold their customs wisely enjoin that every the remotest branch of the family shall be responsible for the payment of their adjudged and other debts; and in cases of murder the bangun, or compensation, may be levied on the inhabitants of the village the culprit belonged to, if it happens that neither he nor any of his relations can be found.

The equality of punishment, which allows to the rich man the faculty of committing, with small inconvenience, crimes that bring utter destruction on the poor man and his family, and which is in fact the greatest inequality, originates certainly from the interested design of those through whose influence the regulation came to be adopted. Its view was to establish a subordination of persons. In Europe the absolute distinction between rich and poor, though too sensibly felt, is not insisted upon in speculation, but rather denied or explained away in general reasoning. Among the Sumatrans it is coolly acknowledged, and a man without property, family, or connexions never, in the partiality of self-love, considers his own life as being of equal value with that of a man of substance. A maxim, though not the practice, of their law, says, "that he who is able to pay the bangun for murder must satisfy the relations of the deceased; he who is unable, must suffer death." But the avarice of the relations prefers selling the body of the delinquent for what his slavery will fetch them (for such is the effect of imposing a penalty that cannot be paid) to the satisfaction of seeing the murder revenged by the public execution of a culprit of that mean description. Capital punishments are therefore almost totally out of use among them; and it is only par la loi du plus fort that the Europeans take the liberty of hanging a notorious criminal now and then, whom however their own chiefs always condemn, and formally sentence.


Corporal punishment of any kind is rare. The chain, and a sort of stocks, made of the pinang tree, are adopted from us; the word pasong, now commonly used to denote the latter, originally signifying and being still frequently applied to confinement in general. A kind of cage made use of in the country is probably their own invention. "How do you secure a prisoner (a man was asked) without employing a chain or our stocks?" "We pen him up," said he, "as we would a bear!" The cage is made of bamboos laid horizontally in a square, piled alternately, secured by timbers at the corners, and strongly covered in at top. To lead a runaway they fasten a rattan round his neck, and, passing it through a bamboo somewhat longer than his arms, they bring his hands together and make them fast to the bamboo, in a state rather of constraint than of pain, which I believe never is wantonly or unnecessarily inflicted. If the offender is of a desperate character they bind him hands and feet and sling him on a pole. When they would convey a person from accident or otherwise unable to walk they make a palanquin by splitting a large bamboo near the middle of its length, where they contrive to keep it open so that the cavity forms a bed, the ends being preserved whole, to rest upon their shoulders.

The custom of exacting the bangun for murder seems only designed with a view of making a compensation to the injured family, and not of punishing the offender. The word signifies awaking or raising up, and the deceased is supposed to be replaced, or raised again to his family, in the payment of a sum proportioned to his rank, or equivalent to his or her personal value. The price of a female slave is generally more than that of a male, and therefore, I heard a chief say, is the bangun of a woman more than that of a man. It is upon this principle that their laws take no cognizance of the distinction between a wilful murder and what we term manslaughter. The loss is the same to the family, and therefore the compensations are alike. A dupati of Laye, in an ill hour, stepped unwarily across the mouth of a cannon at the instant it was fired off for a salute, and was killed by the explosion, upon which his relations immediately sued the sergeant of the country-guard, who applied the match, for the recovery of the bangun; but they were cast, and upon these grounds: that the dupati was instrumental in his own death, and that the Company's servants, being amenable to other laws for their crimes, were not, by established custom, subject to the bangun or other penalties inflicted by the native chiefs, for accidents resulting from the execution of their duty. The tippong bumi, expiation, or purification of the earth from the stain it has received, was however gratuitously paid. No plea was set up that the action was unpremeditated, and the event chance-medley.

The introduction of this custom is beyond the extent of Sumatran tradition, and has no connexion with, or dependence on, Mahometanism, being established amongst the most inland people from time immemorial. In early ages it was by no means confined to that part of the world. The bangun is perfectly the same as the compensation for murder in the rude institutions of our Saxon ancestors and other northern nations. It is the eric of Ireland, and the apoinon of the Greeks. In the compartments of the shield of Achilles Homer describes the adjudgment of a fine for homicide. It would seem then to be a natural step in the advances from anarchy to settled government, and that it can only take place in such societies as have already a strong idea of the value of personal property, who esteem its possession of the next importance to that of life, and place it in competition with the strongest passion that seizes the human soul.

The compensation is so regularly established among the Sumatrans that any other satisfaction is seldom demanded. In the first heat of resentment retaliation is sometimes attempted, but the spirit soon evaporates, and application is usually made, upon the immediate discovery of the fact, to the chiefs of the country for the exertion of their influence to oblige the criminal to pay the bangun. His death is then not thought of unless he is unable, and his family unwilling, to raise the established sum. Instances, it is true, occur in which the prosecutor, knowing the European law in such case, will, from motives of revenge, urge to the Resident the propriety of executing the offender rather than receive the money; but if the latter is ready to pay it it is contrary to their laws to proceed further. The degree of satisfaction that attends the payment of the bangun is generally considered as absolute to the parties concerned; they receive it as full compensation, and pretend to no farther claim upon the murderer and his family. Slight provocations however have been sometimes known to renew the feud, and there are not wanting instances of a son's revenging his father's murder and willingly refunding the bangun. When in an affray there happen to be several persons killed on both sides, the business of justice is only to state the reciprocal losses, in the form of an account current, and order the balance to be discharged, if the numbers be unequal. The following is a relation of the circumstances of one of these bloody feuds, which happened whilst I was in the island, but which become every year more rare where the influence of our government extends.


Raddin Siban was the head of a tribe in the district of Manna, of which Pangeran Raja-Kalippah was the official chief; though by the customs of the country he had no right of sovereignty over him. The pangeran's not allowing him what he thought an adequate share of fines, and other advantages annexed to his rank, was the foundation of a jealousy and ill will between them, which an event that happened a few years since raised to the highest pitch of family feud. Lessut, a younger brother of the pangeran, had a wife who was very handsome, and whom Raddin Siban had endeavoured to procure, whilst a virgin, for HIS younger brother, who was in love with her: but the pangeran had contrived to circumvent him, and obtained the girl for Lessut. However it seems the lady herself had conceived a violent liking for the brother of Raddin Siban, who found means to enjoy her after she was married, or was violently suspected so to have done. The consequence was that Lessut killed him to revenge the dishonour of his bed. Upon this the families were presently up in arms, but the English Resident interfering preserved the peace of the country, and settled the affair agreeably to the customs of the place by bangun and fine. But this did not prove sufficient to extinguish the fury which raged in the hearts of Raddin Siban's family, whose relation was murdered. It only served to delay the revenge until a proper opportunity offered of gratifying it. The people of the country being called together on a particular occasion, the two inimical families were assembled, at the same time, in Manna bazaar. Two younger brothers (they had been five in all) of Raddin Siban, going to the cockpit, saw Raja Muda the next brother of the pangeran, and Lessut his younger brother, in the open part of a house which they passed. They quickly returned, drew their krises, and attacked the pangeran's brothers, calling to them, if they were men, to defend themselves. The challenge was instantly accepted, Lessut, the unfortunate husband, fell; but the aggressors were both killed by Raja Muda, who was himself much wounded. The affair was almost over before the scuffle was perceived. The bodies were lying on the ground, and Raja Muda was supporting himself against a tree which stood near the spot, when Raddin Siban, who was in a house on the opposite side of the bazaar at the time the affray happened, being made acquainted with the circumstances, came over the way, with his lance in his hand. He passed on the contrary side of the tree, and did not see Raja Muda, but began to stab with his weapon the dead body of Lessut, in excess of rage, on seeing the bloody remains of his two brothers. Just then, Raja Muda, who was half dead, but had his kris in his hand, still unseen by Raddin Siban, crawled a step or two and thrust the weapon into his side, saying "Matti kau"--"die thou!" Raddin Siban spoke not a word, but put his hand on the wound and walked across to the house from whence he came, at the door of which he dropped down and expired. Such was the catastrophe. Raja Muda survived his wounds, but being much deformed by them lives a melancholy example of the effects of these barbarous feuds.


In cases of theft the swearing a robbery against a person suspected is of no effect, and justly, for were it otherwise nothing would be more common than the prosecution of innocent persons. The proper proofs are either seizure of the person in the fact before witnesses, or discovery of the goods stolen in possession of one who can give no satisfactory account how he came by them. As it frequently happens that a man finds part only of what he had lost it remains with him, when the robbery is proved, to ascertain the whole amount, by oath, which in that point is held sufficient.


The law which renders all the members of a family reciprocally bound for the security of each others' debts forms a strong connexion among them, and occasions the elder branches to be particularly watchful of the conduct of those for whose imprudence they must be answerable.

When a debtor is unable to pay what he owes, and has no relation or friends capable of doing it for him, or when the children of a deceased person do not find property enough to discharge the debts of their parent, they are forced to the state which is called mengiring, which simply means to follow or be dependent on, but here implies the becoming a species of bond-slaves to the creditor, who allows them subsistence and clothing but does not appropriate the produce of their labour to the diminution of their debt. Their condition is better than that of pure slavery in this, that the creditor cannot strike them, and they can change their masters by prevailing on another person to pay their debt and accept of their labour on the same terms. Of course they may obtain their liberty if they can by any means procure a sum equal to their debt; whereas a slave, though possessing ever so large property, has not the right of purchasing his liberty. If however the creditor shall demand formally the amount of his debt from a person mengiring, at three several times, allowing a certain number of days between each demand, and the latter is not able to persuade anyone to redeem him, he becomes, by the custom of the country, a pure slave, upon the creditor's giving notice to the chief of the transaction. This is the resource he has against the laziness or untoward behaviour of his debtor, who might otherwise, in the state of mengiring, be only a burden to him. If the children of a deceased debtor are too young to be of service the charge of their maintenance is added to the debt. This opens a door for many iniquitous practices, and it is in the rigorous and frequently perverted exertion of these rights which a creditor has over his debtor that the chiefs are enabled to oppress the lower class of people, and from which abuses the English Residents find it necessary to be the most watchful to restrain them. In some cases one half of the produce of the labour is applied to the reduction of the debt, and this situation of the insolvent debtor is termed be-blah. Meranggau is the condition of a married woman who remains as a pledge for a debt in the house of the creditor of her husband. If any attempt should be made upon her person the proof of it annuls the debt; but should she bring an accusation of that nature, and be unable to prove it to the satisfaction of the court, and the man takes an oath in support of his innocence, the debt must be immediately paid by the family, or the woman be disposed of as a slave.

When a man of one district or country has a debt owing to him from the inhabitant of a neighbouring country, of which he cannot recover payment, an usual resource is to seize on one or more of his children and carry them off; which they call andak. The daughter of a Rejang dupati was carried off in this manner by the Labun people. Not hearing for some time from her father, she sent him cuttings of her hair and nails, by which she intimated a resolution of destroying herself if not soon released.


The right of slavery is established in Sumatra, as it is throughout the East, and has been all over the world; yet but few instances occur of the country people actually having slaves; though they are common enough in the Malayan, or sea-port towns. Their domestics and labourers are either dependant relations, or the orang mengiring above described, who are usually called debtors, but should be distinguished by the term of insolvent debtors. The simple manners of the people require that their servants should live, in a great measure, on a footing of equality with the rest of the family, which is inconsistent with the authority necessary to be maintained over slaves who have no principle to restrain them but that of personal fear,* and know that their civil condition cannot be altered for the worse.

(*Footnote. I do not mean to assert that all men in the condition of slaves are devoid of principle: I have experienced the contrary, and found in them affection and strict honesty: but that there does not result from their situation as slaves any principle of moral rectitude; whereas every other condition of society has annexed to it ideas of duty and mutual obligation arising from a sense of general utility. That sublime species of morality derived from the injunctions of religion it is almost universally their fate to be likewise strangers to, because slavery is found inconsistent with the spirit of the gospel, not merely as inculcating philanthropy but inspiring a principle of equality amongst mankind.)

There is this advantage also, that when a debtor absconds they have recourse to his relations for the amount of his debt, who, if unable to pay it, must mengiring in his room; whereas when a slave makes his escape the law can give no redress, and his value is lost to the owner. These people moreover are from habit backward to strike, and the state of slavery unhappily requires the frequent infliction of punishment in that mode. A slave cannot possess independently any property; yet it rarely happens that a master is found mean and sordid enough to despoil them of the fruits of their industry; and their liberty is generally granted them when in a condition to purchase it, though they cannot demand it of right. It is nothing uncommon for those belonging to the Europeans to possess slaves of their own, and to acquire considerable substance. Their condition is here for the most part less unhappy than that of persons in other situations of life. I am far from wishing to diminish the horror that should ever accompany the general idea of a state which, whilst it degrades the species, I am convinced is not necessary among mankind; but I cannot help remarking, as an extraordinary fact, that if there is one class of people eminently happy above all others upon earth it is the body of Caffres, or negro slaves belonging to the India Company at Bencoolen. They are well clothed and fed, and supplied with a proper allowance of liquor; their work is by no means severe; the persons appointed as their immediate overseers are chosen for their merit from amongst themselves; they have no occasion of care or anxiety for the past or future, and are naturally of a lively and open temper. The contemplation of the effects which such advantages produce must afford the highest gratification to a benevolent mind. They are usually seen laughing or singing whilst at work, and the intervals allowed them are mostly employed in dancing to their rude instrumental music, which frequently begins at sunset and ceases only with the daylight that recalls them to their labour. Since they were first carried thither, from different parts of Africa and Madagascar, to the present hour, not so much as the rumour of disturbance or discontent has ever been known to proceed from them. They hold the natives of the island in contempt, have a degree of antipathy towards them, and enjoy any mischief they can do them; and these in their turn regard the Caffres as devils half humanized.

The practice said to prevail elsewhere of men selling themselves for slaves is repugnant to the customs of the Sumatrans, as it seems to reason. It is an absurdity to barter anything valuable, much more civil existence, for a sum which, by the very act of receiving, becomes again the property of the buyer. Yet if a man runs in debt without a prospect of paying, he does virtually the same thing, and this in cases of distress is not uncommon, in order to relieve, perhaps, a beloved wife, or favourite child, from similar bondage. A man has even been known to apply in confidence to a friend to sell him to a third person, concealing from the purchaser the nature of the transaction till the money was appropriated.

Ignorant stragglers are often picked up in the country by lawless knaves in power and sold beyond the hills. These have sometimes procured their liberty again, and prosecuting their kidnappers have recovered large damages. In the district of Allas a custom prevails by which, if a man has been sold to the hill people, however unfairly, he is restricted on his return from associating with his countrymen as their equal unless he brings with him a sum of money and pays a fine for his re-enfranchisement to his kalippah or chief. This regulation has taken its rise from an idea of contamination among the people, and from art and avarice among the chiefs.




By much the greater number of the legal disputes among these people have their source in the intricacy attending their marriage contracts. In most uncivilized countries these matters are very simple, the dictates of nature being obeyed, or the calls of appetite satisfied, with little ceremony or form of convention; but with the Sumatrans the difficulties, both precedent and subsequent, are increased to a degree unknown even in the most refined states. To remedy these inconveniences, which might be supposed to deter men from engaging in marriage, was the view of the Resident of Laye, before mentioned, who prevailed upon them to simplify their engagements, as the means of preventing litigation between families, and of increasing the population of the country. How far his liberal views will be answered by having thus influenced the people to change their customs, whether they will not soon relapse into the ancient track; and whether in fact the cause that he supposed did actually contribute to retard population, I shall not pretend to determine; but as the last is a point on which a difference of opinion prevails I shall take the liberty of quoting here the sentiments of another servant of the Company (the late Mr. John Crisp) who possessed an understanding highly enlightened.


This part of the island is in a low state of population, but it is an error to ascribe this to the mode of obtaining wives by purchase. The circumstance of children constituting part of the property of the parents proves a most powerful incentive to matrimony, and there is not perhaps any country on the face of the earth where marriage is more general than here, instances of persons of either sex passing their lives in a state of celibacy being extremely rare. The necessity of purchasing does not prove such an obstacle to matrimony as is supposed. Was it indeed true that every man was obliged to remain single till he had accumulated, from the produce of his pepper-garden, a sum adequate to the purchase of a wife, married pairs would truly be scarce. But the people have other resources; there are few families who are not in possession of some small substance; they breed goats and buffaloes, and in general keep in reserve some small sum for particular purposes. The purchase-money of the daughter serves also to provide wives for the sons. Certain it is that the fathers are rarely at a loss for money to procure them wives so soon as they become marriageable. In the districts under my charge are about eight thousand inhabitants, among whom I do not conceive it would be possible to find ten instances of men of the age of thirty years unmarried. We must then seek for other causes of the paucity of inhabitants, and indeed they are sufficiently obvious; among these we may reckon that the women are by nature unprolific, and cease gestation at an early age; that, almost totally unskilled in the medical art, numbers fall victims to the endemic diseases of a climate nearly as fatal to its indigenous inhabitants as to the strangers who settle among them: to which we may add that the indolence and inactivity of the natives tend to relax and enervate the bodily frame, and to abridge the natural period of their lives.


The modes of marriage, according to the original institutions of these people, are by jujur, by ambel anak, or by semando. The jujur is a certain sum of money given by one man to another as a consideration for the person of his daughter, whose situation, in this case, differs not much from that of a slave to the man she marries, and to his family. His absolute property in her depends however upon some nice circumstances. Beside the batang jujur (or main sum) there are certain appendages or branches, one of which, the tali kulo, of five dollars, is usually, from motives of delicacy or friendship, left unpaid, and so long as that is the case a relationship is understood to subsist between the two families, and the parents of the woman have a right to interfere on occasions of ill treatment: the husband is also liable to be fined for wounding her, with other limitations of absolute right. When that sum is finally paid, which seldom happens but in cases of violent quarrel, the tali kulo (tie of relationship) is said to be putus (broken), and the woman becomes to all intents the slave of her lord.*

(*Footnote. I cannot omit to remark here that, however apposite the word tali, which in Malayan signifies a cord, may be to the subject of the marriage tie, there is very strong evidence of the term, as applied to this ceremony, having been adopted from the customs of the Hindu inhabitants of the peninsula of India, in whose language it has a different meaning. Among others who have described their rites is M. Sonnerat. In speaking of the mode of marriage called pariam, which, like the jujur, n'est autre chose qu'un achat que le mari fait de sa femme, he says, le mari doit aussi fournir le tali, petit joyau d'or, qu'il attache avec un cordon au col de la fille; c'est la derniere ceremonie; elle donne la sanction au marriage, qui ne peut plus etre rompu des que le tali est attache. Voyage aux Indes etc. tome 1 page 70. The reader will also find the Sumatran mode of marriage by ambel anak, or adoption, exactly described at page 72. An engraving of the tali is given by P. Paolino, Systema Brahmanicum tab. 22. This resemblance is not confined to the rites of marriage, for it is remarked by Sir W. Jones that, "among the laws of the Sumatrans two positive rules concerning sureties and interest appear to be taken word for word from the Indian legislators." Asiatic Researches Volume 3 page 9.)

She has then no title to claim a divorce in any predicament; and he may sell her, making only the first offer to her relations. The other appendages as already mentioned are the tulis tanggil (the meaning of which I cannot satisfactorily ascertain, this and many other of the legal terms being in the Rejang or the Passummah and not the Malayan language) and the upah daun kodo, which is a consideration for the expense of the marriage feast, paid to the girl's parent, who provides it. But sometimes it is deposited at the wedding, when a distribution is made of it amongst the old people present. The words allude to the leaf in which the rice is served up. These additional sums are seldom paid or claimed before the principal is defrayed, of which a large proportion, as fifty, eighty, and sometimes a hundred and four dollars, is laid down at the time of marriage, or in the first visit (after the parties are determined in their regards) made by the father of the young man, or the bujang himself, to the father of the woman. Upon opening his design this money is tendered as a present, and the other's acceptance of it is a token that he is inclined to forward the match. It lies often in his hands three, six, or twelve months before the marriage is consummated. He sometimes sends for more, and is seldom refused. Until at least fifty dollars are thus deposited the man cannot take his wife home; but so long as the matter continues dalam rasa-an (under consideration) it would be deemed scandalous in the father to listen to any other proposals. When there is a difficulty in producing the necessary sum it is not uncommon to resort to an expedient termed mengiring jujur, that is, to continue a debtor with the family until he can raise money sufficient to redeem himself; and after this long credit is usually given for the remainder. Years often elapse, if the families continue on good terms, without the debt being demanded, particularly when a hundred and four dollars have been paid, unless distress obliges them to it. Sometimes it remains unadjusted to the second and third generation, and it is not uncommon to see a man suing for the jujur of the sister of his grandfather. These debts constitute in fact the chief part of their substance; and a person is esteemed rich who has several of them due to him for his daughters, sisters, aunts, and great aunts. Debts of this nature are looked upon as sacred, and are scarcely ever lost. In Passummah, if the race of a man is extinct, and some of these remain unpaid, the dusun or village to which the family belonged must make it good to the creditor; but this is not insisted upon amongst the Rejangs.

In lieu of paying the jujur a barter transaction, called libei, sometimes takes place, where one gadis (virgin) is given in exchange for another; and it is not unusual to borrow a girl for this purpose from a friend or relation, the borrower binding himself to replace her or pay her jujur when required, A man who has a son and daughter gives the latter in exchange for a wife to the former. The person who receives her disposes of her as his own child or marries her himself. A brother will give his sister in exchange for a wife, or, in default of such, procure a cousin for the purpose. If the girl given in exchange be under age a certain allowance per annum is made till she becomes marriageable. Beguppok is a mode of marriage differing a little from the common jujur, and probably only taking place where a parent wants to get off a child labouring under some infirmity or defect. A certain sum is in this case fixed below the usual custom, which, when paid, is in full for her value, without any appendages. In other cases likewise the jujur is sometimes lessened and sometimes increased by mutual agreement; but on trials it is always estimated at a hundred and twenty dollars. If a wife dies soon after marriage, or at any time without children, the full jujur cannot be claimed; it is reduced to eighty dollars; but should more than that have been laid down in the interim there is no refunding. The jujur of a widow, which is generally eighty dollars, without appendages, is again reduced upon a third marriage, allowances being made for dilapidation. A widow being with child cannot marry again till she is delivered, without incurring a penalty. In divorces it is the same. If there be no appearance of pregnancy she must yet abstain from making another choice during the period of three months and ten days.

When the relations and friends of the man go in form to the parents of the girl to settle the terms of the marriage they pay at that time the adat besasala, or earnest, of six dollars generally; and these kill a goat or a few fowls to entertain them. It is usually some space of time (except in cases of telari gadis or elopement) after the payment of the besasala, before the wedding takes place; but, when the father has received that, he cannot give his daughter to any other person without incurring a fine, which the young lady sometimes renders him liable to; for whilst the old folk are planning a match by patutan, or regular agreement between families, it frequently happens that miss disappears with a more favoured swain and secures a match of her own choice. The practice styled telari gadis is not the least common way of determining a marriage, and from a spirit of indulgence and humanity, which few codes can boast, has the sanction of the laws. The father has only the power left of dictating the mode of marriage, but cannot take his daughter away if the lover is willing to comply with the custom in such cases. The girl must be lodged, unviolated, in the house of some respectable family till the relations are advised of the enlevement and settle the terms. If however upon immediate pursuit they are overtaken on the road, she may be forced back, but not after she has taken sanctuary.

By the Mosaic law, if a man left a widow without children his brother was to marry her. Among the Sumatrans, with or without children, the brother, or nearest male relation of the deceased, unmarried (the father excepted), takes the widow. This is practised both by Malays and country people. The brother, in taking the widow to himself, becomes answerable for what may remain due of her purchase money, and in every respect represents the deceased. This is phrased ganti tikar bantal'nia--supplying his place on his mat and pillow.


Chastity prevails more perhaps among these than any other people. It is so materially the interest of the parents to preserve the virtue of their daughters unsullied, as they constitute the chief of their substance, that they are particularly watchful in this respect. But as marriages in general do not take place so early as the forwardness of nature in that climate would admit, it will sometimes happen, notwithstanding their precaution, that a young woman, not choosing to wait her father's pleasure, tastes the fruit by stealth. When this is discovered he can oblige the man to marry her, and pay the jujur; or, if he chooses to keep his daughter, the seducer must make good the difference he has occasioned in her value, and also pay the fine, called tippong bumi, for removing the stain from the earth. Prostitution for hire is I think unknown in the country, and confined to the more polite bazaars, where there is usually a concourse of sailors and others who have no honest settlement of their own, and whom, therefore, it is impossible to restrain from promiscuous concubinage. At these places vice generally reigns in a degree proportioned to the number and variety of people of different nations who inhabit them or occasionally resort thither. From the scenes which these sea-ports present travellers too commonly form their judgment, and imprudently take upon them to draw, for the information of the world, a picture of the manners of a people.

The different species of horrid and disgustful crimes, which are emphatically denominated, against nature, are unknown on Sumatra; nor have any of their languages terms to express such ideas.


Incest, or the intermarriage of persons within a certain degree of consanguinity, which is, perhaps (at least after the first degree), rather an offence against the institutions of human prudence than a natural crime, is forbidden by their customs and punishable by fine: yet the guilt is often expiated by a ceremony, and the marriages in many instances confirmed.


Adultery is punishable by fine; but the crime is rare, and suits on the subject still less frequent. The husband, it is probable, either conceals his shame or revenges it with his own hand.


If a man would divorce a wife he has married by jujur he may claim back what he has paid in part, less twenty-five dollars, the adat charo, for the damage he has done her; but if he has paid the jujur in full the relations may choose whether they will receive her or not; if not he may sell her. If a man has paid part of a jujur but cannot raise the remainder, though repeatedly dunned for it, the parents of the girl may obtain a divorce; but if it is not with the husband's concurrence they lose the advantage of the charo, and must refund all they have received. A woman married by jujur must bring with her effects to the amount of ten dollars, or, if not, it is deducted from the sum; if she brings more the husband is accountable for the difference. The original ceremony of divorce consists in cutting a rattan­cane in two, in presence of the parties, their relations, and the chiefs of the country.


In the mode of marriage by ambel anak the father of a virgin makes choice of some young man for her husband, generally from an inferior family, which renounces all further right to, or interest in, him, and he is taken into the house of his father-in-law, who kills a buffalo on the occasion, and receives twenty dollars from the son's relations. After this the buruk baik'nia (the good and bad of him) is vested in the wife's family. If he murders or robs they pay the bangun, or the fine. If he is murdered they receive the bangun. They are liable to any debts he may contract after marriage; those prior to it remaining with his parents. He lives in the family in a state between that of a son and a debtor. He partakes as a son of what the house affords, but has no property in himself. His rice plantation, the produce of his pepper-garden, with everything that he can gain or earn, belong to the family. He is liable to be divorced at their pleasure, and, though he has children, must leave all, and return naked as he came. The family sometimes indulge him with leave to remove to a house of his own, and take his wife with him; but he, his children, and effects are still their property. If he has not daughters by the marriage he may redeem himself and wife by paying her jujur; but if there are daughters before they become emancipated the difficulty is enhanced, because the family are likewise entitled to their value. It is common however when they are upon good terms to release him on the payment of one jujur, or at most with the addition of an adat of fifty dollars. With this addition he may insist upon a release whilst his daughters are not marriageable. If the family have paid any debts for him he must also make them good. Should he contract more than they approve of, and they fear his adding to them, they procure a divorce, and send him back to his parents; but must pay his debts to that time. If he is a notorious spendthrift they outlaw him by means of a writ presented to the magistrate. These are inscribed on slips of bamboo with a sharp instrument, and I have several of them in my possession. They must banish him from home, and if they receive him again, or assist him with the smallest sum, they are liable to all his debts. On the prodigal son's return, and assurance of amendment, this writ may be redeemed on payment of five dollars to the proattins, and satisfying the creditors. This kind of marriage is productive of much confusion, for till the time it takes place the young man belongs to one dusun and family, and afterwards to another, and as they have no records to refer to there is great uncertainty in settling the time when debts were contracted, and the like. Sometimes the redemption of the family and their return to the former dusun take place in the second or third generation; and in many cases it is doubtful whether they ever took place or not; the two parties contradicting each other, and perhaps no evidence to refer to. Hence arise various and intricate bechars.


Besides the modes of marriage above described, a third form, called semando, has been adopted from the Malays, and thence termed semando malayo or mardika (free). This marriage is a regular treaty between the parties, on the footing of equality. The adat paid to the girl's friends has usually been twelve dollars. The agreement stipulates that all effects, gains, or earnings are to be equally the property of both, and in case of divorce by mutual consent the stock, debts, and credits are to be equally divided. If the man only insists on the divorce he gives the woman her half of the effects, and loses the twelve dollars he has paid. If the woman only claims the divorce she forfeits her right to the proportion of the effects, but is entitled to keep her tikar, bantal, and dandan (paraphernalia), and her relations are liable to pay back the twelve dollars; but it is seldom demanded. This mode, doubtless the most conformable to our ideas of conjugal right and felicity, is that which the chiefs of the Rejang country have formally consented to establish throughout their jurisdiction, and to their orders the influence of the Malayan priests will contribute to give efficacy.

In the ambel anak marriage, according to the institutions of Passummah, when the father resolves to dismiss the husband of his daughter and send him back to his dusun the sum for which he can redeem his wife and family is a hundred dollars: and if he can raise that, and the woman is willing to go with him, the father cannot refuse them; and now the affair is changed into a kulo marriage; the man returns to his former tungguan (settlement or family) and becomes of more consequence in society. These people are no strangers to that sentiment which we call a regard to family. There are some families among them more esteemed than others, though not graced with any title or employment in the state. The origin of this distinction it is difficult to trace; but it may have arisen from a succession of men of abilities, or from the reputation for wisdom or valour of some ancestor. Everyone has a regard to his race; and the probability of its being extinct is esteemed a great unhappiness. This is what they call tungguan putus, and the expression is used by the lowest member of the community. To have a wife, a family, collateral relations, and a settled place of residence is to have a tungguan, and this they are anxious to support and perpetuate. It is with this view that, when a single female only remains of a family, they marry her by ambel anak; in which mode the husband's consequence is lost in the wife's, and in her children the tungguan of her father is continued. They find her a husband that will menegga tungguan, or, as it is expressed amongst the Rejangs menegga rumah, set up the house again.

The semando marriage is little known in Passummah. I recollect that a pangeran of Manna, having lost a son by a marriage of this kind with a Malay woman, she refused upon the father's death to let the boy succeed to his dignities, and at the same time become answerable for his debts, and carried him with her from the country; which was productive of much confusion. The regulations there in respect to incontinence have much severity, and fall particularly hard on the girl's father, who not only has his daughter spoiled but must also pay largely for her frailty. To the northward the offence is not punished with so much rigour, yet the instances are there said to be rarer, and marriage is more usually the consequence. In other respects the customs of Passummah and Rejang are the same in these matters.


The rites of marriage, nikah (from the Arabian), consist simply in joining the hands of the parties and pronouncing them man and wife, without much ceremony excepting the entertainment which is given on the occasion. This is performed by one of the fathers or the chief of the dusun, according to the original customs of the country; but where Mahometanism has found its way, a priest or imam executes the business.


But little apparent courtship precedes their marriages. Their manners do not admit of it, the bujang and gadis (youth of each sex) being carefully kept asunder, and the latter seldom trusted from under the wing of their mothers. Besides, courtship with us includes the idea of humble entreaty on the man's side, and favour and condescension on the part of the woman, who bestows person and property for love. The Sumatran on the contrary, when he fixes his choice and pays all that he is worth for the object of it, may naturally consider the obligation on his side. But still they are not without gallantry. They preserve a degree of delicacy and respect towards the sex, which might justify their retorting on many of the polished nations of antiquity the epithet of barbarians. The opportunities which the young people have of seeing and conversing with each other are at the bimbangs, or public festivals, held at the balei, or town hall of the dusun. On these occasions the unmarried people meet together and dance and sing in company. It may be supposed that the young ladies cannot be long without their particular admirers. The men, when determined in their regards, generally employ an old woman as their agent, by whom they make known their sentiments and send presents to the female of their choice. The parents then interfere and, the preliminaries being settled, a bimbang takes place.


At these festivals a goat, a buffalo, or several, according to the rank of the parties, are killed, to entertain not only the relations and invited guests but all the inhabitants of the neighbouring country who choose to repair to them. The greater the concourse the more is the credit of the host, who is generally on these occasions the father of the girl; but the different branches of the family, and frequently all the people of the dusun, contribute a quota of rice.


The young women proceed in a body to the upper end of the balei where there is a part divided off for them by a curtain. The floor is spread with their best mats, and the sides and ceiling of that extremity of the building are hung with pieces of chintz, palampores, and the like. They do not always make their appearance before dinner; that time, with part of the afternoon, previous to a second or third meal, being appropriated to cock-fighting and other diversions peculiar to the men. Whilst the young are thus employed the old men consult together upon any affair that may be at the time in agitation; such as repairing a public building or making reprisals upon the cattle of a neighbouring people. The bimbangs are often given on occasions of business only, and, as they are apt to be productive of cabals, the Europeans require that they shall not be held without their knowledge and approbation. To give authority to their contracts and other deeds, whether of a public or private nature, they always make one of these feasts. Writings, say they, may be altered or counterfeited, but the memory of what is transacted and concluded in the presence of a thousand witnesses must remain sacred. Sometimes, in token of the final determination of an affair, they cut a notch in a post, before the chiefs, which they call taka kayu.


In the evening their softer amusements take place, of which the dances are the principal. These are performed either singly or by two women, two men, or with both mixed. Their motions and attitudes are usually slow, and too much forced to be graceful; approaching often to the lascivious, and not unfrequently the ludicrous. This is I believe the general opinion formed of them by Europeans, but it may be the effect of prejudice. Certain I am that our usual dances are in their judgment to the full as ridiculous. The minuets they compare to the fighting of two game-cocks, alternately approaching and receding. Our country dances they esteem too violent and confused, without showing grace or agility. The stage dances I have not a doubt would please them. Part of the female dress, called the salendang, which is usually of silk with a gold head, is tied round the waist, and the ends of this they at times extend behind them with their hands. They bend forward as they dance, and usually carry a fan, which they close and strike smartly against their elbows at particular cadences. They keep time well, and the partners preserve a consistency with each other though the figure and steps are ad libitum. A brisker movement is sometimes adopted which proves more conformable to the taste of the English spectators.


Dancing is not the only amusement on these occasions. A gadis sometimes rises and, leaning her face on her arm, supporting herself against a pillar, or the shoulder of one of her companions, with her back to the audience, begins a tender song. She is soon taken up and answered by one of the bujangs in company, whose greatest pretensions to gallantry and fashion are founded on an adroitness at this polite accomplishment. The uniform subject on such occasions is love, and, as the words are extempore, there are numberless degrees of merit in the composition, which is sometimes surprisingly well turned, quaint, and even witty. Professed story-tellers are sometimes introduced, who are raised on a little stage and during several hours arrest the attention of their audience by the relation of wonderful and interesting adventures. There are also characters of humour amongst them who, by buffoonery, mimicry, punning, repartee, and satire (rather of the sardonic kind) are able to keep the company in laughter at intervals during the course of a night's entertainment. The assembly seldom breaks up before daylight, and these bimbangs are often continued for several days and nights together till their stock of provisions is exhausted. The young men frequent them in order to look out for wives, and the lasses of course set themselves off to the best advantage.


They wear their best silken dresses, of their own weaving; as many ornaments of filigree as they possess; silver rings upon their arms and legs; and earrings of a particular construction. Their hair is variously adorned with flowers and perfumed with oil of benzoin. Civet is also in repute, but more used by the men.


To render their skin fine, smooth, and soft they make use of a white cosmetic called pupur. The mode of preparing it is as follows. The basis is fine rice, which is a long time steeped in water and let to ferment, during which process the water becomes of a deep red colour and highly putrid, when it is drained off, and fresh added successively until the water remains clear, and the rice subsides in the form of a fine white paste. It is then exposed to the sun to dry, and, being reduced to a powder, they mix with it ginger, the leaves of a plant called by them dilam, and by Europeans patch-leaf (Melissa lotoria, R.), which gives to it a peculiar smell, and also, as is supposed, a cooling quality. They add likewise the flowers of the jagong (maize); kayu chendana (sandalwood); and the seeds of a plant called there kapas antu (fairy-cotton), which is the Hibiscus abelmoschus, or musk seed. All these ingredients, after being moistened and well mixed together, are made up into little balls, and when they would apply the cosmetic these are diluted with a drop of water, rubbed between the hands, and then on the face, neck, and shoulders. They have an apprehension, probably well founded, that a too abundant or frequent application will, by stopping the pores of the skin, bring on a fever. It is used with good effect to remove that troublesome complaint, so well known to Europeans in India, by the name of the prickly heat; but it is not always safe for strangers thus to check the operations of nature in a warm climate. The Sumatran girls, as well as our English maidens, entertain a favourable opinion of the virtues of morning dew as a beautifier, and believe that by rubbing it to the roots of the hair it will strengthen and thicken it. With this view they take pains to catch it before sunrise in vessels as it falls.


If a wedding is the occasion of the bimbang the couple are married, perhaps, the second or third day; but it may be two or three more ere the husband can get possession of his bride; the old matrons making it a rule to prevent him, as long as possible, and the bride herself holding it a point of honour to defend to extremity that jewel which she would yet be disappointed in preserving.*

(*Footnote. It is recorded that the jealousy between the English and Dutch at Bantam arose from a preference shown to the former by the king at a festival which he gave upon obtaining a victory of this nature, which his bride had long disputed with him. For a description of a Malayan wedding, with an excellent plate representing the conclusion of the ceremony and the sleeping apartment, I beg to refer the reader to Captain Forrest's Voyage to New Guinea page 286 quarto edition. The bed-place is described at page 232 and the processional car (per­arakan) at page 241. His whole account of the domestic manners of the people of Mindanao, at the court of which he lived on terms of familiarity, will be found highly amusing.)

They sit up in state at night on raised cushions, in their best clothes and trinkets. They are sometimes loaded on the occasion with all the finery of their relations, or even the whole dusun, and carefully eased of it when the ceremony is over. But this is not the case with the children of persons of rank. I remember being present at the marriage of a young woman, whose beauty would not have disgraced any country, with a son of Raddin, prince of Madura, to whom the English gave protection from the power of the Dutch after his father had fallen a sacrifice.* She was decked in unborrowed plumes. Her dress was eminently calculated to do justice to a fine person; her hair, in which consists their chief pride, was disposed with extreme grace; and an uncommon elegance and taste were displayed in the workmanship and adjustment of her ornaments. It must be confessed however that this taste is by no means general, especially amongst the country people. Simplicity, so essential to the idea, is the characteristic of a rude and quite uncivilized people, and is again adopted by men in their highest state of refinement. The Sumatrans stand removed from both these extremes. Rich and splendid articles of dress and furniture, though not often procured, are the objects of their vanity and ambition.

(*Footnote. The circumstances of this disgraceful affair are preserved in a book entitled A Voyage to the East Indies in 1747 and 1748. This Raddin Tamanggung, a most intelligent and respectable man, died at Bencoolen in the year 1790. His sons possess the good qualities of their father, and are employed in the Company's service.)

The bimbangs are conducted with great decorum and regularity. The old women are very attentive to the conduct of the girls, and the male relations are highly jealous of any insults that may be shown them. A lad at one of these entertainments asked another his opinion of a gadis who was then dancing. "If she was plated with gold," replied he, "I would not take her for my concubine, much less for my wife." A brother of the girl happened to be within hearing, and called him to account for the reflection thrown on his sister. Krises were drawn but the bystanders prevented mischief. The brother appeared the next day to take the law of the defamer, but the gentleman, being of the risau description, had absconded, and was not to be found.


The customs of the Sumatrans permit their having as many wives by jujur as they can compass the purchase of or afford to maintain; but it is extremely rare that an instance occurs of their having more than one, and that only among a few of the chiefs. This continence they in some measure owe to their poverty. The dictates of frugality are more powerful with them than the irregular calls of appetite, and make them decline an indulgence that their law does not restrain them from. In talking of polygamy they allow it to be the privilege of the rich, but regard it as a refinement which the poor Rejangs cannot pretend to. Some young risaus have been known to take wives in different places, but the father of the first, as soon as he hears of the second marriage, procures a divorce. A man married by semando cannot take a second wife without repudiating the first for this obvious reason that two or more persons could not be equally entitled to the half of his effects.


Montesquieu infers that the law which permits polygamy is physically conformable to the climate of Asia. The season of female beauty precedes that of their reason, and from its prematurity soon decays. The empire of their charms is short. It is therefore natural, the president observes, that a man should leave one wife to take another: that he should seek a renovation of those charms which had withered in his possession. But are these the real circumstances of polygamy? Surely not. It implies the contemporary enjoyment of women in the same predicament; and I should consider it as a vice that has its source in the influence of a warm atmosphere upon the passions of men, which, like the cravings of other disordered appetites, make them miscalculate their wants. It is probably the same influence, on less rigid nerves, that renders their thirst of revenge so much more violent than among northern nations; but we are not therefore to pronounce murder to be physically conformable to a southern climate. Far be it from my intention however to put these passions on a level; I only mean to show that the president's reasoning proves too much. It must further be considered that the genial warmth which expands the desires of the men, and prompts a more unlimited exertion of their faculties, does not inspire their constitutions with proportionate vigour; but on the contrary renders them in this respect inferior to the inhabitants of the temperate zone; whilst it equally influences the desires of the opposite sex without being found to diminish from their capacity of enjoyment. From which I would draw this conclusion, that if nature intended that one woman only should be the companion of one man, in the colder regions of the earth it appears also intended a fortiori that the same law should be observed in the hotter; inferring nature's design, not from the desires, but from the abilities with which she has endowed mankind.

Montesquieu has further suggested that the inequality in the comparative numbers of each sex born in Asia, which is represented to be greatly superior on the female side, may have a relation to the law that allows polygamy. But there is strong reason to deny the reality of this supposed excess. The Japanese account, taken from Kaempfer, which makes them to be in the proportion of twenty-two to eighteen, is very inconclusive, as the numbering of the inhabitants of a great city can furnish no proper test; and the account of births at Bantam, which states the number of girls to be ten to one boy, is not only manifestly absurd, but positively false. I can take upon me to assert that the proportion of the sexes throughout Sumatra does not sensibly differ from that ascertained in Europe; nor could I ever learn from the inhabitants of the many eastern islands whom I have conversed with that they were conscious of any disproportion in this respect.


But from whatever source we derive polygamy its prevalence seems to be universally attended with the practice of giving a valuable consideration for the woman, instead of receiving a dowry with her. This is a natural consequence. Where each man endeavours to engross several, the demand for the commodity, as a merchant would express it, is increased, and the price of course enhanced. In Europe on the contrary, where the demand is small; whether owing to the paucity of males from continual diminution; their coldness of constitution, which suffers them rather to play with the sentimental than act from the animal passion; their corruption of manners leading them to promiscuous concubinage; or, in fine, the extravagant luxury of the times, which too often renders a family an insupportable burden--whatever may be the cause it becomes necessary, in order to counteract it and produce an additional incitement to the marriage state, that a premium be given with the females. We find in the history of the earliest ages of the world that, where a plurality of women was allowed of, by law or custom, they were obtained by money or service. The form of marriage by semando among the Malays, which admits but of one partner, requires no sum to be paid by the husband to the relations of the wife except a trifle, by way of token, or to defray the expenses of the wedding-feast. The circumstance of the rejangs confining themselves to one, and at the same time giving a price for their wives, would seem an exception to the general rule laid down; but this is an accidental and perhaps temporary restraint, arising, it may be, from the European influence, which tends to make them regular and industrious, but keeps them poor: affords the means of subsistence to all, but the opportunity of acquiring riches to few or none. In their genuine state war and plunder caused a rapid fluctuation of property; the little wealth now among them, derived mostly from the India Company's expenditure, circulates through the country in an equal stream, returning chiefly, like the water exhaled in vapours from the sea, to its original source. The custom of giving jujurs had most probably its foundation in polygamy; and the superstructure subsists, though its basis is partly mouldered away; but, being scarcely tenantable, the inhabitants are inclined to quit, and suffer it to fall to the ground. Moderation in point of women destroying their principle, the jujurs appear to be devoid of policy. Open a new spring of luxury, and polygamy, now confined to a few individuals amongst the chiefs, will spread throughout the people. Beauty will be in high request; each fair one will be sought for by many competitors; and the payment of the jujur be again esteemed a reasonable equivalent for possession. Their acknowledging the custom under the present circumstances to be a prejudicial one, so contrary to the spirit of eastern manners, which is ever marked with a blind veneration for the establishments of antiquity, contributes to strengthen considerably the opinion I have advanced.


Through every rank of the people there prevails a strong spirit of gaming, which is a vice that readily insinuates itself into minds naturally indisposed to the avocations of industry; and, being in general a sedentary occupation, is more adapted to a warm climate, where bodily exertion is in few instances considered as an amusement.


Beside the common species of gambling with dice, which, from the term dadu applied to it, was evidently introduced by the Portuguese, they have several others; as the judi, a mode of playing with small shells, which are taken up by handfuls, and, being counted out by a given number at a time (generally that of the party engaged), the success is determined by the fractional number remaining, the amount of which is previously guessed at by each of the party.


They have also various games on chequered boards or other delineations, and persons of superior rank are in general versed in the game of chess, which they term main gajah, or the game of the elephant, naming the pieces as follows: king, raja; queen or vizir, mantri; bishop or elephant, gajah; knight or horse, kuda; castle, rook, or chariot, ter; and pawn or foot-soldier, bidak. For check they use the word sah; and for checkmate, mat or mati. Among these names the only one that appears to require observation as being peculiar is that for the castle or rook, which they have borrowed from the Tamul language of the peninsula of India, wherein the word ter (answering to the Sanskrit rat'ha) signifies a chariot (particularly such as are drawn in the processions of certain divinities), and not unaptly transferred to this military game to complete the constituent parts of an army. Gambling, especially with dice, is rigorously forbidden throughout the pepper districts, because it is not only the child, but the parent of idleness, and by the events of play often throws whole villages into confusion. Debts contracted on this account are declared to be void.


To cock-fighting they are still more passionately addicted, and it is indulged to them under certain regulations. Where they are perfectly independent their propensity to it is so great that it resembles rather a serious occupation than a sport. You seldom meet a man travelling in the country without a cock under his arm, and sometimes fifty persons in a company when there is a bimbang in one of the neighbouring villages. A country-man coming down, on any occasion, to the bazaar or settlement at the mouth of the river, if he boasts the least degree of spirit must not be unprovided with this token of it. They often game high at their meetings; particularly when a superstitious faith in the invincibility of their bird has been strengthened by past success. A hundred Spanish dollars is no very uncommon risk, and instances have occurred of a father's staking his children or wife, and a son his mother or sisters, on the issue of a battle, when a run of ill luck has stripped them of property and rendered them desperate. Quarrels, attended with dreadful consequences, have often arisen on these occasions.


By their customs there are four umpires appointed to determine on all disputed points in the course of the battles; and from their decision there lies no appeal except the Gothic appeal to the sword. A person who loses and has not the ability to pay is immediately proscribed, departs with disgrace, and is never again suffered to appear at the galan­gang. This cannot with propriety be translated a cockpit, as it is generally a spot on the level ground, or a stage erected, and covered in. It is inclosed with a railing which keeps off the spectators; none but the handlers and heelers being admitted withinside. A man who has a high opinion of and regard for his cock will not fight him under a certain number of dollars, which he places in order on the floor: his poorer adversary is perhaps unable to deposit above one half: the standers-by make up the sum, and receive their dividends in proportion if successful. A father at his deathbed has been known to desire his son to take the first opportunity of matching a certain cock for a sum equal to his whole property, under a blind conviction of its being betuah, or invulnerable.


Cocks of the same colour are never matched but a grey against a pile, a yellow against a red, or the like. This might have been originally designed to prevent disputes or knavish impositions. The Malay breed of cocks is much esteemed by connoisseurs who have had an opportunity of trying them. Great pains is taken in the rearing and feeding; they are frequently handled and accustomed to spar in public, in order to prevent any shyness. Contrary to our laws, the owner is allowed to take up and handle his cock during the battle to clear his eye of a feather or his mouth of blood. When a cock is killed, or runs, the other must have sufficient spirit and vigour left to peck at him three times, on his being held to him for that purpose, or it becomes a drawn battle; and sometimes an experienced cocker will place the head of his vanquished bird in such an uncouth posture as to terrify the other and render him unable to give this proof of victory. The cocks are never trimmed, but matched in full feather. The artificial spur used in Sumatra resembles in shape the blade of a scimitar, and proves a more destructive weapon than the European spur. It has no socket but is tied to the leg, and in the position of it the nicety of the match is regulated. As in horse-racing weight is proportioned to inches, so in cocking a bird of superior weight and size is brought to an equality with his adversary by fixing the steel spur so many scales of the leg above the natural spur, and thus obliging him to fight with a degree of disadvantage. It rarely happens that both cocks survive the combat.

In the northern parts of the island, where gold-dust is the common medium of gambling, as well as of trade, so much is accidentally dropped in weighing and delivering that at some cock-pits, where the resort of people is great, the sweepings are said, probably with exaggeration, to be worth upwards of a thousand dollars per annum to the owner of the ground; beside his profit of two fanams (five pence) for each battle.


In some places they match quails, in the manner of cocks. These fight with great inveteracy, and endeavour to seize each other by the tongue. The Achinese bring also into combat the dial-bird (murei) which resembles a small magpie, but has an agreeable though imperfect note. They sometimes engage one another on the wing, and drop to the ground in the struggle.


They have other diversions of a more innocent nature. Matches of fencing, or a species of tournament, are exhibited on particular days; as at the breaking up of their annual fast, or month of ramadan, called there the puasa. On these occasions they practise strange attitudes, with violent contortions of the body, and often work themselves up to a degree of frenzy, when the old men step in and carry them off. These exercises in some circumstances resemble the idea which the ancients have given us of the pyrrhic or war dance; the combatants moving at a distance from each other in cadence, and making many turns and springs unnecessary in the representation of a real combat. This entertainment is more common among the Malays than in the country. The chief weapons of offence used by these people are the kujur or lance and the kris. This last is properly Malayan, but in all parts of the island they have a weapon equivalent, though in general less curious in its structure, wanting that waving in the blade for which the kris is remarkable, and approaching nearer to daggers or knives.

Among their exercises we never observe jumping or running. They smile at the Europeans, who in their excursions take so many unnecessary leaps. The custom of going barefoot may be a principal impediment to this practice in a country overrun with thorny shrubs, and where no fences occur to render it a matter of expediency.


They have a diversion similar to that described by Homer as practised among the Phaeacians, which consists in tossing an elastic wicker ball or round basket of split rattans into the air, and from one player to another, in a peculiar manner. This game is called by the Malays sipak raga, or, in the dialect of Bencoolen, chipak rago, and is played by a large party standing in an extended circle, who endeavour to keep up the ball by striking it either perpendicularly, in order to receive it again, or obliquely to some other person of the company, with the foot or the hand, the heel or the toe, the knee, the shoulder, the head, or with any other part of the body; the merit appearing to consist in producing the effect in the least obvious or most whimsical manner; and in this sport many of them attain an extraordinary degree of expertness. Among the plates of Lord Macartney's Embassy will be found the representation of a similar game, as practised by the natives of Cochin­china.


The Sumatrans, and more particularly the Malays, are much attached, in common with many other eastern people, to the custom of smoking opium. The poppy which produces it not growing on the island, it is annually imported from Bengal in considerable quantities, in chests containing a hundred and forty pounds each. It is made up in cakes of five or six pounds weight, and packed with dried leaves; in which situation it will continue good and vendible for two years, but after that period grows hard and diminishes considerably in value. It is of a darker colour, and is supposed to have less strength than the Turkey opium. About a hundred and fifty chests are consumed annually on the west coast of Sumatra, where it is purchased, on an average, at three hundred dollars the chest, and sold again in smaller quantities at five or six. But on occasions of extraordinary scarcity I have known it to sell for its weight in silver, and a single chest to fetch upwards of three thousand dollars.


The method of preparing it for use is as follows. The raw opium is first boiled or seethed in a copper vessel; then strained through a cloth to free it from impurities; and then a second time boiled. The leaf of the tambaku, shred fine, is mixed with it, in a quantity sufficient to absorb the whole; and it is afterwards made up into small pills, about the size of a pea, for smoking. One of these being put into the small tube that projects from the side of the opium pipe, that tube is applied to a lamp, and the pill being lighted is consumed at one whiff or inflation of the lungs, attended with a whistling noise. The smoke is never emitted by the mouth, but usually receives vent through the nostrils, and sometimes, by adepts, through the passage of the ears and eyes. This preparation of the opium is called maddat, and is often adulterated in the process by mixing jaggri, or pine sugar, with it; as is the raw opium, by incorporating with it the fruit of the pisang or plantain.


The use of opium among these people, as that of intoxicating liquors among other nations, is a species of luxury which all ranks adopt according to their ability, and which, when once become habitual, it is almost impossible to shake off. Being however like other luxuries expensive, few only among the lower or middling class of people can compass the regular enjoyment of it, even where its use is not restrained, as it is among the pepper-planters, to the times of their festivals. That the practice of smoking opium must be in some degree prejudicial to the health is highly probable; yet I am inclined to think that effects have been attributed to it much more pernicious to the constitution than it in reality causes. The bugis soldiers and others in the Malay bazaars whom we see most attached to it, and who use it to excess, commonly appear emaciated; but they are in other respects abandoned and debauched. The Limun and Batang Assei gold-traders, on the contrary, who are an active, laborious class of men but yet indulge as freely in opium as any others whatever, are notwithstanding the most healthy and vigorous people to be met with on the island. It has been usual also to attribute to the practice destructive consequences of another nature from the frenzy it has been supposed to excite in those who take it in quantities. But this should probably rank with the many errors that mankind have been led into by travellers addicted to the marvellous; and there is every reason to believe that the furious quarrels, desperate assassinations, and sanguinary attacks, which the use of opium is said to give birth to, are idle notions, originally adopted through ignorance and since maintained from the mere want of investigation, without having any solid foundation. It is not to be controverted, that those desperate acts of indiscriminate murder, called by us mucks, and by the natives mengamok, do actually take place, and frequently too in some parts of the East (in Java in particular) but it is not equally evident that they proceed from any intoxication except that of their unruly passions. Too often they are occasioned by excess of cruelty and injustice in their oppressors. On the west coast of Sumatra about twenty thousand pounds weight of this drug are consumed annually, yet instances of this crime do not happen (at least within the scope of our knowledge) above once in two or three years. During my residence there I had an opportunity of being an eyewitness but to one muck. The slave of a Portuguese woman, a man of the island of Nias, who in all probability had never handled an opium pipe in his life, being treated by his mistress with extreme severity for a trifling offence, vowed he would have revenge if she attempted to strike him again, and ran down the steps of the house with a knife in each hand, as it is said. She cried out, mengamok! The civil guard was called, who, having the power in these cases of exercising summary justice, fired half a dozen rounds into an outhouse where the unfortunate wretch had sheltered himself on their approach, and from whence he was at length dragged, covered with wounds. Many other mucks might perhaps be found, upon scrutiny, of the nature of the foregoing, where a man of strong feelings was driven by excess of injury to domestic rebellion.

It is true that the Malays, when in a state of war they are bent on any daring enterprise, fortify themselves with a few whiffs of opium to render them insensible to danger, as the people of another nation are said to take a dram for the same purpose; but it must be observed that the resolution for the act precedes, and is not the effect of, the intoxication. They take the same precaution previous to being led to public execution; but on these occasions show greater signs of stupidity than frenzy. Upon the whole it may be reasonably concluded that the sanguinary achievements, for which the Malays have been famous, or infamous rather, in history, are more justly to be attributed to the natural ferocity of their disposition, or to the influence upon their manners of a particular state of society, than to the qualities of any drug whatever. The pretext of the soldiers of the country-guard for using opium is that it may render them watchful on their nightly posts: we on the contrary administer it to procure sleep, and according to the quantity it has either effect. The delirium it produces is known to be so very pleasing that Pope has supposed this to have been designed by Homer when he describes the delicious draught prepared by Helen, called nepenthe, which exhilarated the spirits and banished from the mind the recollection of woe.

It is remarkable that at Batavia, where the assassins just now described, when taken alive, are broken on the wheel, with every aggravation of punishment that the most rigorous justice can inflict, the mucks yet happen in great frequency, whilst at Bencoolen, where they are executed in the most simple and expeditious manner, the offence is extremely rare. Excesses of severity in punishment may deter men from deliberate and interested acts of villainy, but they add fuel to the atrocious enthusiasm of desperadoes.


A further proof of the influence that mild government has upon the manners of people is that the piratical adventures so common on the eastern coast of the island are unknown on the western. Far from our having apprehensions of the Malays, the guards at the smaller English settlements are almost entirely composed of them, with a mixture of Bugis or Makasar people. Europeans, attended by Malays only, are continually travelling through the country. They are the only persons employed in carrying treasure to distant places; in the capacity of secretaries for the country correspondence; as civil officers in seizing delinquents among the planters and elsewhere; and as masters and supercargoes of the tambangans, praws, and other small coasting vessels. So great is the effect of moral causes and habit upon a physical character esteemed the most treacherous and sanguinary.




Whether to blunt the edge of painful reflection, or owing to an aversion our natures have to total inaction, most nations have been addicted to the practice of enjoying by mastication or otherwise the flavour of substances possessing an inebriating quality. The South Americans chew the cocoa and mambee, and the eastern people the betel and areca, or, as they are called in the Malay language, sirih and pinang. This custom has been accurately described by various writers, and therefore it is almost superfluous to say more on the subject than that the Sumatrans universally use it, carry the ingredients constantly about them, and serve it to their guests on all occasions--the prince in a gold stand, and the poor man in a brass box or mat bag. The betel-stands of the better rank of people are usually of silver embossed with rude figures. The Sultan of Moco-moco was presented with one by the India Company, with their arms on it; and he possesses beside another of gold filigree. The form of the stand is the frustum of a hexagonal pyramid reversed, about six or eight inches in diameter. It contains many smaller vessels fitted to the angles, for holding the nut, leaf, and chunam, which is quicklime made from calcined shells; with places for the instruments (kachip) employed in cutting the first, and spatulas for spreading the last.

When the first salutation is over, which consists in bending the body, and the inferior's putting his joined hands between those of the superior, and then lifting them to his forehead, the betel is presented as a token of hospitality and an act of politeness. To omit it on the one hand or to reject it on the other would be an affront; as it would be likewise in a person of subordinate rank to address a great man without the precaution of chewing it before he spoke. All the preparation consists in spreading on the sirih leaf a small quantity of the chunam and folding it up with a slice of the pinang nut. Some mix with these gambir, which is a substance prepared from the leaves of a tree of that name by boiling their juices to a consistence, and made up into little balls or squares, as before spoken of: tobacco is likewise added, which is shred fine for the purpose, and carried between the lip and upper row of teeth. From the mastication of the first three proceeds a juice which tinges the saliva of a bright red, and which the leaf and nut, without the chunam, will not yield. This hue being communicated to the mouth and lips is esteemed ornamental; and an agreeable flavour is imparted to the breath. The juice is usually (after the first fermentation produced by the lime) though not always swallowed by the chewers of betel. We might reasonably suppose that its active qualities would injure the coats of the stomach, but experience seems to disprove such a consequence. It is common to see the teeth of elderly persons stand loose in the gums, which is probably the effect of this custom, but I do not think that it affects the soundness of the teeth themselves. Children begin to chew betel very young, and yet their teeth are always beautifully white till pains are taken to disfigure them by filing and staining them black. To persons who are not habituated to the composition it causes a strong giddiness, astringes and excoriates the tongue and fauces, and deadens for a time the faculty of taste. During the puasa, or fast of ramadan, the Mahometans among them abstain from the use of betel whilst the sun continues above the horizon; but excepting at this season it is the constant luxury of both sexes from an early period of childhood, till, becoming toothless, they are reduced to the necessity of having the ingredients previously reduced to a paste for them, that without further effort the betel may dissolve in the mouth. Along with the betel, and generally in the chunam, is the mode of conveying philtres, or love charms. How far they prove effectual I cannot take upon me to say, but suppose that they are of the nature of our stimulant medicines, and that the direction of the passion is of course indiscriminate. The practice of administering poison in this manner is not followed in latter times; but that the idea is not so far eradicated as entirely to prevent suspicion appears from this circumstance, that the guest, though taking a leaf from the betel-service of his entertainer, not unfrequently applies to it his own chunam, and never omits to pass the former between his thumb and forefinger in order to wipe off any extraneous matter. This mistrustful procedure is so common as not to give offence.


Beside the mode before-mentioned of enjoying the flavour of tobacco it is also smoked by the natives and for this use--after shredding it fine whilst green and drying it well it is rolled up in the thin leaves of a tree, and is in that form called roko, a word they appear to have borrowed from the Dutch. The rokos are carried in the betel-box, or more commonly under the destar or handkerchief which, in imitation of a turband, surrounds the head. Much tobacco is likewise imported from China and sells at a high price. It seems to possess a greater pungency than the Sumatran plant, which the people cultivate for their own use in the interior parts of the island.


The custom of sending emblematical presents in order to make known, in a covert manner, the birth, progress, or change of certain affections of the mind, prevails here, as in some other parts of the East; and not only flowers of various kinds have their appropriate meaning, but also cayenne-pepper, betel-leaf, salt, and other articles are understood by adepts to denote love, jealousy, resentment, hatred, and other strong feelings.


The Sumatrans in general are good speakers. The gift of oratory seems natural to them. I knew many among them whose harangues I have listened to with pleasure and admiration. This may be accounted for perhaps from the constitution of their government, which being far removed from despotism seems to admit, in some degree, every member of the society to a share in the public deliberations. Where personal endowments, as has been observed, will often raise a private man to a share of importance in the community,superior to that of a nominal chief, there is abundant inducement for the acquisition of these valuable talents. The forms of their judicial proceedings likewise, where there are no established advocates and each man depends upon his own or his friend's abilities for the management of his cause, must doubtless contribute to this habitual eloquence. We may add to these conjectures the nature of their domestic manners, which introduce the sons at an early period of life into the business of the family, and the counsels of their elders. There is little to be perceived among them of that passion for childish sports which marks the character of our boys from the seventh to the fourteenth year. In Sumatra you may observe infants, not exceeding the former age, full dressed and armed with a kris, seated in the circle of the old men of the dusun, and attending to their debates with a gravity of countenance not surpassed by their grandfathers. Thus initiated they are qualified to deliver an opinion in public at a time of life when an English schoolboy could scarcely return an answer to a question beyond the limits of his grammar or syntax, which he has learned by rote. It is not a little unaccountable that this people, who hold the art of speaking in such high esteem, and evidently pique themselves on the attainment of it, should yet take so much pains to destroy the organs of speech in filing down and otherwise disfiguring their teeth; and likewise adopt the uncouth practice of filling their mouths with betel whenever they prepare to hold forth. We must conclude that it is not upon the graces of elocution they value an orator, but his artful and judicious management of the subject matter; together with a copiousness of phrase, a perspicuity of thought, an advantageous arrangement, and a readiness, especially, at unravelling the difficulties and intricacies of their suits.


The curse entailed on women in the article of child-bearing does not fall so heavy in this as in the northern countries. Their pregnancy scarcely at any period prevents their attendance on the ordinary domestic duties; and usually within a few hours after their delivery they walk to the bathing-place, at a small distance from the house. The presence of a sage femme is often esteemed superfluous. The facility of parturition may probably be owing to the relaxation of the frame from the warmth of the climate; to which cause also may be attributed the paucity of children borne by the Sumatran women and the early decay of their beauty and strength. They have the tokens of old age at a season of life when European women have not passed their prime. They are like the fruits of the country, soon ripe and soon decayed. They bear children before fifteen, are generally past it at thirty, and grey-headed and shrivelled at forty. I do not recollect hearing of any woman who had six children except the wife of Raddin of Madura, who had more; and she, contrary to the universal custom, did not give suck to hers.


Mothers carry the children not on the arm, as our nurses do, but straddling on the hip, and usually supported by a cloth which ties in a knot on the opposite shoulder. This practice I have been told is common in some parts of Wales. It is much safer than the other method, less tiresome to the nurse, and the child has the advantage of sitting in a less constrained posture: but the defensive armour of stays, and offensive weapons called pins, might be some objection to the general introduction of the fashion in England. The children are nursed but little, not confined by any swathing or bandages, and, being suffered to roll about the floor, soon learn to walk and shift for themselves. When cradles are used they are swung suspended from the ceiling of the rooms.


The country people can very seldom give an account of their age, being entirely without any species of chronology. Among those country people who profess themselves Mahometans to very few is the date of the Hejra known; and even of those who in their writings make use of it not one in ten can pronounce in what year of it he was born. After a few taun padi (harvests) are elapsed they are bewildered in regard to the date of an event, and only guess at it from some contemporary circumstance of notoriety, as the appointment of a particular dupati, the incursion of a certain enemy, or the like. As far as can be judged from observation it would seem that not a great proportion of the men attain to the age of fifty, and sixty years is accounted a long life.


The children among the Rejangs have generally a name given to them by their parents soon after their birth, which is called namo daging. The galar (cognomen), another species of name, or title, as we improperly translate it, is bestowed at a subsequent, but not at any determinate, period: sometimes as the lads rise to manhood, at an entertainment given by the parent, on some particular occasion; and often at their marriage. It is generally conferred by the old men of the neighbouring villages, when assembled; but instances occur of its being irregularly assumed by the persons themselves; and some never obtain any galar. It is also not unusual, at a convention held on business of importance, to change the galar of one or two of the principal personages to others of superior estimation; though it is not easy to discover in what this pre-eminence consists, the appellations being entirely arbitrary, at the fancy of those who confer them: perhaps in the loftier sound, or more pompous allusion in the sense, which latter is sometimes carried to an extraordinary pitch of bombast, as in the instance of Pengunchang bumi, or Shaker of the World, the title of a pangeran of Manna. But a climax is not always perceptible in the change.


The father, in many parts of the country, particularly in Passummah, is distinguished by the name of his first child, as Pa-Ladin, or Pa-Rindu (Pa for bapa, signifying the father of), and loses in this acquired his own proper name. This is a singular custom, and surely less conformable to the order of nature than that which names the son from the father. There it is not usual to give them a galar on their marriage, as with the Rejangs, among whom the filionymic is not so common, though sometimes adopted, and occasionally joined with the galar; as Radin-pa-Chirano. The women never change the name given them at the time of their birth; yet frequently they are called, through courtesy, from their eldest child, Ma-si-ano, the mother of such a one; but rather as a polite description than a name. The word or particle Si is prefixed to the birth-names of persons, which almost ever consist of but a single word, as Si Bintang, Si Tolong; and we find from Captain Forrest's voyage that in the island of Mindanao the infant son of the Raja Muda was named Se Mama.


A Sumatran ever scrupulously abstains from pronouncing his own name; not as I understand from any motive of superstition, but merely as a punctilio in manners. It occasions him infinite embarrassment when a stranger, unacquainted with their customs, requires it of him. As soon as he recovers from his confusion he solicits the interposition of his neighbour.


He is never addressed, except in the case of a superior dictating to his dependant, in the second person, but always in the third; using his name or title instead of the pronoun; and when these are unknown a general title of respect is substituted, and they say, for instance, apa orang kaya punia suka, what is his honour's pleasure for what is your, or your honour's pleasure? When criminals or other ignominious persons are spoken to use is made of the pronoun personal kau (a contraction of angkau) particularly expressive of contempt. The idea of disrespect annexed to the use of the second person in discourse, though difficult to be accounted for, seems pretty general in the world. The Europeans, to avoid the supposed indecorum, exchange the singular number for the plural; but I think with less propriety of effect than the Asiatic mode; if to take off from the bluntness of address be the object aimed at.


The boys are circumcised, where Mahometanism prevails, between the sixth and tenth year. The ceremony is called krat kulop and buang or lepas malu (casting away their shame), and a bimbang is usually given on the occasion; as well as at the ceremony of boring the ears and filing the teeth of their daughters (before described), which takes place at about the age of ten or twelve; and until this is performed they cannot with propriety be married.


At their funerals the corpse is carried to the place of interment on a broad plank, which is kept for the public service of the dusun, and lasts for many generations. It is constantly rubbed with lime, either to preserve it from decay or to keep it pure. No coffin is made use of; the body being simply wrapped in white cloth, particularly of the sort called hummums. In forming the grave (kubur), after digging to a convenient depth they make a cavity in the side, at bottom, of sufficient dimensions to contain the body, which is there deposited on its right side. By this mode the earth literally lies light upon it; and the cavity, after strewing flowers in it, they stop up by two boards fastened angularly to each other, so that the one is on the top of the corpse, whilst the other defends it on the open side, the edge resting on the bottom of the grave. The outer excavation is then filled up with earth, and little white flags or streamers are stuck in order around. They likewise plant a shrub, bearing a white flower, called kumbang­kamboja (Plumeria obtusa), and in some places wild marjoram. The women who attend the funeral make a hideous noise, not much unlike the Irish howl. On the third and seventh day the relations perform a ceremony at the grave, and at the end of twelve months that of tegga batu, or setting up a few long elliptical stones at the head and foot, which, being scarce in some parts of the country, bear a considerable price. On this occasion they kill and feast on a buffalo, and leave the head to decay on the spot as a token of the honour they have done to the deceased, in eating to his memory.* The ancient burying-places are called krammat, and are supposed to have been those of the holy men by whom their ancestors were converted to the faith. They are held in extraordinary reverence, and the least disturbance or violation of the ground, though all traces of the graves be obliterated, is regarded as an unpardonable sacrilege.

(*Footnote. The above ceremonies (with the exception of the last) are briefly described in the following lines, extracted from a Malayan poem.

Setelah sudah de tangisi, nia Lalu de kubur de tanamkan 'nia De ambel koran de ajikan 'nia Sopaya lepas deri sangsara 'nia Mengaji de kubur tujuh ari Setelah de khatam tiga kali Sudah de tegga batu sakali Membayer utang pada si-mati.)


In works descriptive of the manners of people little known to the world the account of their religion usually constitutes an article of the first importance. Mine will labour under the contrary disadvantage. The ancient and genuine religion of the Rejangs, if in fact they ever had any, is scarcely now to be traced; and what principally adds to its obscurity, and the difficulty of getting information on the subject, is that even those among them who have not been initiated in the principles of Mahometanism yet regard those who have as persons advanced a step in knowledge beyond them, and therefore hesitate to own circumstantially that they remain still unenlightened. Ceremonies are fascinating to mankind, and without comprehending with what views they were instituted the profanum vulgus naturally give them credit for something mysterious and above their capacities, and accordingly pay them a tribute of respect. With Mahometanism a more extensive field of knowledge (I speak in comparison) is open to its converts, and some additional notions of science are conveyed. These help to give it importance, though it must be confessed they are not the most pure tenets of that religion which have found their way to Sumatra; nor are even the ceremonial parts very scrupulously adhered to. Many who profess to follow it give themselves not the least concern about its injunctions, or even know what they require. A Malay at Manna upbraided a countryman with the total ignorance of religion his nation laboured under. "You pay a veneration to the tombs of your ancestors: what foundation have you for supposing that your dead ancestors can lend you assistance?" "It may be true," answered the other, "but what foundation have you for expecting assistance from Allah and Mahomet?" "Are you not aware, replied the Malay, that it is written in a Book? Have you not heard of the Koran?" The native of Passummah, with conscious inferiority, submitted to the force of this argument.

If by religion is meant a public or private form of worship of any kind, and if prayers, processions, meetings, offerings, images, or priests are any of them necessary to constitute it, I can pronounce that the Rejangs are totally without religion and cannot with propriety be even termed pagans, if that, as I apprehend, conveys the idea of mistaken worship. They neither worship God, devil, nor idols. They are not however without superstitious beliefs of many kinds, and have certainly a confused notion, though perhaps derived from their intercourse with other people, of some species of superior beings who have the power of rendering themselves visible or invisible at pleasure. These they call orang alus, fine, or impalpable beings, and regard them as possessing the faculty of doing them good or evil, deprecating their wrath as the sense of present misfortunes or apprehension of future prevails in their minds. But when they speak particularly of them they call them by the appellations of maleikat and jin, which are the angels and evil spirits of the Arabians, and the idea may probably have been borrowed at the same time with the names. These are the powers they also refer to in an oath. I have heard a dupati say, "My grandfather took an oath that he would not demand the jujur of that woman, and imprecated a curse on any of his descendants that should do it: I never have, nor could I without salah kapada maleikat--an offence against the angels." Thus they say also, de talong nabi, maleikat, the prophet and angels assisting. This is pure Mahometanism.


The clearest proof that they never entertained an idea of Theism or the belief of one supreme power is that they have no word in their language to express the person of God, except the Allah tala of the Malays, corrupted by them to Ulah tallo. Yet when questioned on the subject they assert their ancestors' knowledge of a deity, though their thoughts were never employed about him; but this evidently means no more than that their forefathers as well as themselves had heard of the Allah of the Mahometans (Allah orang islam).


They use, both in Rejang and Passummah, the word dewa to express a superior invisible class of beings; but each country acknowledges it to be of foreign derivation, and they suppose it Javanese. Radin, of Madura, an island close to Java, who was well conversant with the religious opinions of most nations, asserted to me that dewa was an original word of that country for a superior being, which the Javans of the interior believed in, but with regard to whom they used no ceremonies or forms of worship:* that they had some idea of a future life, but not as a state of retribution, conceiving immortality to be the lot of rich rather than of good men. I recollect that an inhabitant of one of the islands farther eastward observed to me, with great simplicity, that only great men went to the skies; how should poor men find admittance there? The Sumatrans, where untinctured with Mahometanism, do not appear to have any notion of a future state. Their conception of virtue or vice extends no farther than to the immediate effect of actions to the benefit or prejudice of society, and all such as tend not to either of these ends are in their estimation perfectly indifferent.

(*Footnote. In the Transactions of the Batavian Society Volumes 1 and 3 is to be found a History of these Dewas of the Javans, translated from an original manuscript. The mythology is childish and incoherent. The Dutch commentator supposes them to have been a race of men held sacred, forming a species of Hierarchy, like the government of the Lamas in Tartary.)

Notwithstanding what is asserted of the originality of the word dewa, I cannot help remarking its extreme affinity to the Persian word div or diw, which signifies an evil spirit or bad genius. Perhaps, long antecedent to the introduction of the faith of the khalifs among the eastern people, this word might have found its way and been naturalized in the islands; or perhaps its progress was in a contrary direction. It has likewise a connexion in sound with the names used to express a deity or some degree of superior being by many other people of this region of the earth. The Battas, inhabitants of the northern end of Sumatra, whom I shall describe hereafter, use the word daibattah or daivattah; the Chingalese of Ceylon dewiju, the Telingas of India dai-wundu, the Biajus of Borneo dewattah, the Papuas of New Guinea 'wat, and the Pampangos of the Philippines diuata. It bears likewise an affinity (perhaps accidental) to the deus and deitas of the Romans.*

(*Footnote. At the period when the above was written I was little aware of the intimate connexion now well understood to have anciently subsisted between the Hindus and the various nations beyond the Ganges. The most evident proofs appear of the extensive dissemination both of their language and mythology throughout Sumatra, Java, Balli (where at this day they are best preserved), and the other eastern islands. To the Sanskrit words dewa and dewata, signifying divinities in that great mother-tongue, we are therefore to look for the source of the terms, more or less corrupted, that have been mentioned in the text. See Asiatic Researches Volume 4 page 223.)


The superstition which has the strongest influence on the minds of the Sumatrans, and which approaches the nearest to a species of religion, is that which leads them to venerate, almost to the point of worshipping, the tombs and manes of their deceased ancestors (nenek puyang). These they are attached to as strongly as to life itself, and to oblige them to remove from the neighbourhood of their krammat is like tearing up a tree by the roots; these the more genuine country people regard chiefly, when they take a solemn oath, and to these they apostrophise in instances of sudden calamity. Had they the art of making images or other representations of them they would be perfect lares, penates, or household gods. It has been asserted to me by the natives (conformably to what we are told by some of the early travellers) that in very ancient times the Sumatrans made a practice of burning the bodies of their dead, but I could never find any traces of the custom, or any circumstances that corroborated it.


They have an imperfect notion of a metempsychosis, but not in any degree systematic, nor considered as an article of religious faith. Popular stories prevail amongst them of such a particular man being changed into a tiger or other beast. They seem to think indeed that tigers in general are actuated with the spirits of departed men, and no consideration will prevail on a countryman to catch or to wound one but in self-defence, or immediately after the act of destroying a friend or relation. They speak of them with a degree of awe, and hesitate to call them by their common name (rimau or machang), terming them respectfully satwa (the wild animals), or even nenek (ancestors), as really believing them such, or by way of soothing and coaxing them; as our ignorant country folk call the fairies the good people. When a European procures traps to be set, by the means of persons less superstitious, the inhabitants of the neighbourhood have been known to go at night to the place and practise some forms in order to persuade the animal, when caught, or when he shall perceive the bait, that it was not laid by them, or with their consent. They talk of a place in the country where the tigers have a court and maintain a regular form of government, in towns, the houses of which are thatched with women's hair. It happened that in one month seven or eight people were killed by these prowling beasts in Manna district; upon which a report became current that fifteen hundred of them were come down from Passummah, of which number four were without understanding (gila), and having separated from the rest ran about the country occasioning all the mischief that was felt. The alligators also are highly destructive, owing to the constant practice of bathing in the rivers, and are regarded with nearly the same degree of religious terror. Fear is the parent of superstition, by ignorance. Those two animals prove the Sumatran's greatest scourge. The mischief the former commit is incredible, whole villages being often depopulated by them, and the suffering people learn to reverence as supernatural effects the furious ravages of an enemy they have not resolution to oppose.

The Sumatrans are firmly persuaded that various particular persons are what they term betuah (sacred, impassive, invulnerable, not liable to accident), and this quality they sometimes extend to things inanimate, as ships and boats. Such an opinion, which we should suppose every man might have an opportunity of bringing to the test of truth, affords a humiliating proof of the weakness and credulity of human nature, and the fallibility of testimony, when a film of prejudice obscures the light of the understanding. I have known two men, whose honesty, good faith, and reasonableness in the general concerns of life were well established, and whose assertions would have weight in transactions of consequence: these men I have heard maintain, with the most deliberate confidence and an appearance of inward conviction of their own sincerity, that they had more than once in the course of their wars attempted to run their weapons into the naked body of their adversary, which they found impenetrable, their points being continually and miraculously turned without any effort on the part of the orang betuah: and that hundreds of instances of the like nature, where the invulnerable man did not possess the smallest natural means of opposition, had come within their observation. An English officer, with more courage and humour than discretion, exposed one imposture of this kind. A man having boasted in his presence that he was endowed with this supernatural privilege, the officer took an opportunity of applying to his arm the point of a sword and drew the blood, to the no little diversion of the spectators, and mortification of the pretender to superior gifts, who vowed revenge, and would have taken it had not means been used to keep him at a distance. But a single detection of charlatanerie is not effectual to destroy a prevalent superstition. These impostors are usually found among the Malays and not the more simple country people.


No attempts, I have reason to think, have ever been made by missionaries or others to convert the inhabitants of the island to Christianity, and I have much doubt whether the most zealous and able would meet with any permanent success in this pious work. Of the many thousands baptized in the eastern islands by the celebrated Francis Xavier in the sixteenth century not one of their descendants are now found to retain a ray of the light imparted to them; and probably, as it was novelty only and not conviction that induced the original converts to embrace a new faith, the impression lasted no longer than the sentiment which recommended it, and disappeared as rapidly as the itinerant apostle. Under the influence however of the Spanish government at Manila and of the Dutch at Batavia there are many native Christians, educated as such from children. In the Malayan language Portuguese and Christians are confounded under the same general name; the former being called orang Zerani, by corruption for Nazerani. This neglect of missions to Sumatra is one cause that the interior of the country has been so little known to the civilized world.



Having thus far spoken of the manners and customs of the Rejangs more especially, and adverted, as occasion served, to those of the Passummah people, who nearly resemble them, I shall now present a cursory view of those circumstances in which their southern neighbours, the inhabitants of the Lampong country, differ from them, though this dissimilitude is not very considerable; and shall add such information as I have been enabled to obtain respecting the people of Korinchi and other tribes dwelling beyond the ranges of hills which bound the pepper-districts.


By the Lampong country is understood a portion of the southern extreme of the island, beginning, on the west coast, at the river of Padang-guchi, which divides it from Passummah, and extending across as far as Palembang, on the north-east side, at which last place the settlers are mostly Javans. On the south and east sides it is washed by the sea, having several ports in the Straits of Sunda, particularly Keysers and Lampong Bays; and the great river Tulang-bawang runs through the heart of it, rising from a considerable lake between the ranges of mountains. That division which is included by Padang-guchi, and a place called Nassal, is distinguished by the name of Briuran, and from thence southward to Flat Point, by that of Laut-Kawur; although Kawur, properly so called, lies in the northern division.


Upon the Tulang-bawang, at a place called Mangala, thirty-six leagues from its mouth, the Dutch have a fortified post. There also the representative of the king of Bantam, who claims the dominion of the whole country of Lampong, has his residence, the river Masusi, which runs into the former, being the boundary of his territories and those of the sultan of Palembang. In the neighbourhood of these rivers the land is so low as to be overflowed in the rainy season, or months of January and February, when the waters have been known to rise many feet in the course of a few hours, the villages, situated on the higher spots, appearing as islands. The houses of those immediately on the banks are built on piles of ironwood timber, and each has before it a floating raft for the convenience of washing. In the western parts, towards Samangka, on the contrary, the land is mountainous, and Keyser's Peak, as well as Pugong, are visible to a great distance at sea.


The country is best inhabited in the central and mountainous parts, where the people live independent, and in some measure secure from the inroads of their eastern neighbours, the Javans, who, from about Palembang and the Straits, frequently attempt to molest them. It is probably within but a very few centuries that the south-west coast of this country has been the habitation of any considerable number of people; and it has been still less visited by strangers, owing to the unsheltered nature of the sea thereabouts, and want of soundings in general, which renders the navigation wild and dangerous for country vessels; and to the rivers being small and rapid, with shallow bars and almost ever a high surf. If you ask the people of these parts from whence they originally came they answer, from the hills, and point out an inland place near the great lake from whence they say their forefathers emigrated: and further than this it is impossible to trace. They of all the Sumatrans have the strongest resemblance to the Chinese, particularly in the roundness of face and constructure of the eyes. They are also the fairest people of the island, and the women are the tallest and esteemed the most handsome.


Their language differs considerably, though not essentially, from that of the Rejangs, and the characters they use are peculiar to themselves, as may be observed in the specimens exhibited.


The titles of government are pangeran (from the Javans), kariyer, and kiddimong or nebihi; the latter nearly answering to dupati among the Rejangs. The district of Kroi, near Mount Pugong, is governed by five magistrates called Panggau-limo, and a sixth, superior, called by way of eminence Panggau; but their authority is said to be usurped and is often disputed. The word in common signifies a gladiator or prizefighter. The pangeran of Suko, in the hills, is computed to have four or five thousand dependants, and sometimes, on going a journey, he levies a tali, or eighth part of a dollar, on each family, which shows his authority to be more arbitrary and probably more strictly feudal than among the Rejangs, where the government is rather patriarchal. This difference has doubtless its source in the wars and invasions to which the former people are exposed.


The Javanese banditti, as has been observed, often advance into the country, and commit depredations on the inhabitants, who are not, in general, a match for them. They do not make use of firearms. Beside the common weapons of the island they fight with a long lance which is carried by three men, the foremost guiding the point and covering himself and his companions with a large shield. A compact body thus armed would have been a counterpart of the Macedonian phalanx, but can prove, I should apprehend, of but little use among a people with whom war is carried on in a desultory manner, and more in the way of ambuscade than of general engagement, in which alone troops so armed could act with effect.

Inland of Samangka, in the Straits of Sunda, there is a district, say the Lampongs, inhabited by a ferocious people called orang Abung, who were a terror to the neighbouring country until their villages were destroyed some years ago by an expedition from the former place. Their mode of atoning for offences against their own community, or, according to a Malayan narrative in my possession, of entitling themselves to wives, was by bringing to their dusuns the heads of strangers. The account may be true, but without further authentication such stories are not to be too implicitly credited on the faith of a people who are fond of the marvellous and addicted to exaggeration. Thus they believed the inhabitants of the island Engano to be all females, who were impregnated by the wind, like the mares in Virgil's Georgics.


The manners of the Lampongs are more free, or rather licentious, than those of any other native Sumatrans. An extraordinary liberty of intercourse is allowed between the young people of different sexes, and the loss of female chastity is not a very uncommon consequence. The offence is there however thought more lightly of, and instead of punishing the parties, as in Passummah and elsewhere, they prudently endeavour to conclude a legal match between them. But if this is not effected the lady still continues to wear the insignia of virginity, the fillet and arm-rings, and takes her place as such at festivals. It is not only on these public occasions that the young men and women have opportunities of forming arrangements, as in most other parts of the island. They frequently associate together at other times; and the former are seen gallantly reclining in the maiden's lap, whispering soft nonsense, whilst she adjusts and perfumes his hair, or does a friendly office of less delicacy to a European apprehension. At bimbangs the women often put on their dancing dress in the public hall, letting that garment which they mean to lay aside dexterously drop from under, as the other passes over the head, but sometimes, with an air of coquetry, displaying as if by chance enough to warm youthful imaginations. Both men and women anoint themselves before company when they prepare to dance; the women their necks and arms, and the men their breasts. They also paint each others faces; not, seemingly, with a view of heightening or imitating the natural charms, but merely as matter of fashion; making fantastic spots with the finger on the forehead, temples, and cheeks, of white, red, yellow, and other hues. A brass salver (tallam) covered with little china cups, containing a variety of paints, is served up for this purpose.

Instances have happened here, though rarely, of very disagreeable conclusions to their feasts. A party of risaus among the young fellows have been known suddenly to extinguish the lights for the purpose of robbing the girls, not of their chastity, as might be apprehended, but of the gold and silver ornaments of their persons. An outrage of this nature I imagine could only happen in Lampong, where their vicinity to Java affords the culprits easier and surer means of escape, than in the central parts of the island; and here too their companies appear to be more mixed, collected from greater distances, and not composed, as with the Rejang people, of a neighbourly assemblage of the old men and women of a few contiguous villages with their sons and daughters, for the sake of convivial mirth, of celebrating a particular domestic event, and promoting attachments and courtship amongst the young people.


In every dusun there is appointed a youth, well fitted by nature and education for the office, who acts as master of ceremonies at their public meetings, arranges the young men and women in their proper places, makes choice of their partners, and regulates all other circumstances of the assembly except the important economy of the festival part or cheer, which comes under the cognizance of one of the elders. Both parts of the entertainment are preceded by long complimentary speeches, delivered by the respective stewards, who in return are answered and complimented on their skill, liberality, and other qualities, by some of the best bred amongst the guests. Though the manner of conducting, and the appendages of these feasts, are superior in style to the rustic hospitality of some of the northern countries, yet they are esteemed to be much behind those in the goodness and mode of dressing their food. The Lampongs eat almost all kinds of flesh indiscriminately, and their guleis (curries or made dishes) are said, by connoisseurs, to have no flavour. They serve up the rice divided into portions for each person, contrary to the practice in the other countries; the tallam being covered with a handsome crimson napkin manufactured for that use. They are wont to entertain strangers with much more profusion than is met with in the rest of the island. If the guest is of any consequence they do not hesitate to kill, beside goats and fowls, a buffalo, or several, according to the period of his stay, and the number of his attendants. One man has been known to entertain a person of rank and his suite for sixteen days, during which time there were not less than a hundred dishes of rice spread each day, containing some one, some two bamboos. They have dishes here, of a species of china or earthenware, called batu benauang, brought from the eastward, remarkably heavy, and very dear, some of them being valued at forty dollars a piece. The breaking one of them is a family loss of no small importance.


Abundantly more ceremony is used among these people at interviews with strangers than takes place in the countries adjacent to them. Not only the chief person of a party travelling, but every one of his attendants, is obliged, upon arriving at a town, to give a formal account of their business, or occasion of coming that way. When the principal man of the dusun is acquainted by the stranger with the motives of his journey he repeats his speech at full length before he gives an answer; and if it is a person of great consequence, the words must pass through two or three mouths before they are supposed to come with sufficient ceremony to his ears. This in fact has more the air of adding to his own importance and dignity than to that of the guest; but it is not in Sumatra alone that respect is manifested by this seeming contradiction.

The terms of the jujur, or equivalent for wives, is the same here, nearly, as with the Rejangs. The kris-head is not essential to the bargain, as among the people of Passummah. The father of the girl never admits of the putus tali kulo, or whole sum being paid, and thereby withholds from the husband, in any case, the right of selling his wife, who, in the event of a divorce, returns to her relations. Where the putus tali is allowed to take place, he has a property in her, little differing from that of a slave, as formerly observed. The particular sums which constitute the jujur are less complex here than at other places. The value of the maiden's golden trinkets is nicely estimated, and her jujur regulated according to that and the rank of her parents. The semando marriage scarcely ever takes place but among poor people, where there is no property on either side, or in the case of a slip in the conduct of the female, when the friends are glad to make up a match in this way instead of demanding a price for her. Instances have occurred however of countrymen of rank affecting a semando marriage in order to imitate the Malayan manners; but it has been looked upon as improper and liable to create confusion.

The fines and compensation for murder are in every respect the same as in the countries already described.


The Mahometan religion has made considerable progress amongst the Lampongs, and most of their villages have mosques in them: yet an attachment to the original superstitions of the country induces them to regard with particular veneration the ancient burying-places of their fathers, which they piously adorn and cover in from the weather.


In some parts, likewise, they superstitiously believe that certain trees, particularly those of a venerable appearance (as an old jawi-jawi or banyan tree) are the residence, or rather the material frame of spirits of the woods; an opinion which exactly answers to the idea entertained by the ancients of the dryads and hamadryads. At Benkunat in the Lampong country there is a long stone, standing on a flat one, supposed by the people to possess extraordinary power or virtue. It is reported to have been once thrown down into the water and to have raised itself again to its original position, agitating the elements at the same time with a prodigious storm. To approach it without respect they believe to be the source of misfortune to the offender.

The inland people of that country are said to pay a kind of adoration to the sea, and to make to it an offering of cakes and sweetmeats on their beholding it for the first time, deprecating its power of doing them mischief. This is by no means surprising when we consider the natural proneness of unenlightened mankind to regard with superstitious awe whatever has the power of injuring them without control, and particularly when it is attended with any circumstances mysterious and inexplicable to their understandings. The sea possesses all these qualities. Its destructive and irresistible power is often felt, and especially on the coasts of India where tremendous surfs are constantly breaking on the shore, rising often to their greatest degree of violence without any apparent external cause. Add to this the flux and reflux and perpetual ordinary motion of that element, wonderful even to philosophers who are acquainted with the cause, unaccountable to ignorant men, though long accustomed to the effects; but to those who only once or twice in their lives have been eyewitnesses to the phenomena, supernatural and divine. It must not however be understood that anything like a regular worship is paid to the sea by these people, any more than we should conclude that people in England worship witches when they nail a horseshoe on the threshold to prevent their approach, or break the bottoms of eggshells to hinder them from sailing in them. It is with the inhabitants of Lampong no more than a temporary sentiment of fear and respect, which a little familiarity soon effaces. Many of them indeed imagine it endowed with a principle of voluntary motion. They tell a story of an ignorant fellow who, observing with astonishment its continual agitation, carried a vessel of sea water with him, on his return to the country, and poured it into a lake, in full expectation of seeing it perform the same fanciful motions he had admired it for in its native bed.*

(*Footnote. The manners of the natives of the Philippine or Luzon Islands correspond in so many striking particulars with those of the inland Sumatrans, and especially where they differ most from the Malays, that I think no doubt can be entertained, if not of a sameness of origin, at least of an intercourse and connection in former times which now no longer exists. The following instances are taken from an essay preserved by Thevenot, entitled Relation des Philippines par un religieux; traduite d'un manuscrit Espagnol du cabinet de Monsieur Dom. Carlo del Pezzo (without date), and from a manuscript communicated to me by Alex Dalrymple, Esquire. "The chief Deity of the Tagalas is called Bathala mei Capal, and also Diuata; and their principal idolatry consists in adoring those of their ancestors who signalised themselves for courage or abilities, calling them Humalagar, i.e. manes: They make slaves of the people who do not keep silence at the tombs of their ancestors. They have great veneration for the crocodile, which they call nono, signifying grandfather, and make offerings to it. Every old tree they look upon as a superior being, and think it a crime to cut it down. They worship also stones, rocks, and points of land, shooting arrows at these last as they pass them. They have priests who, at their sacrifices, make many contortions and grimaces, as if possessed with a devil. The first man and woman, they say, were produced from a bamboo, which burst in the island of Sumatra; and they quarrelled about their marriage. The people mark their bodies in various figures, and render them of the colour of ashes, have large holes in their ears, blacken and file their teeth, and make an opening which they fill up with gold, they used to write from top to bottom till the Spaniards taught them to write from left to right, bamboos and palm leaves serve them for paper. They cover their houses with straw, leaves of trees, or bamboos split in two which serve for tiles. They hire people to sing and weep at their funerals, burn benzoin, bury their dead on the third day in strong coffins, and sometimes kill slaves to accompany their deceased masters.")

The latter account is more particular, and appears of modern date.

They held the caiman, or alligator, in great reverence, and when they saw him they called him nono, or grandfather, praying with great tenderness that he would do them no harm, and to this end, offered him of whatever they had in their boats, throwing it into the water. There was not an old tree to which they did not offer divine worship, especially that called balete; and even at this time they have some respect for them. Beside these they had certain idols inherited from their ancestors, which the Tagalas called Anita, and the Bisayans, Divata. Some of these were for the mountains and plains, and they asked their leave when they would pass them: others for the corn fields, and to these they recommend them, that they might be fertile, placing meat and drink in the fields for the use of the Anitos. There was one, of the sea, who had care of their fishing and navigation; another of the house, whose favour they implored at the birth of a child, and under whose protection they placed it. They made Anitos also of their deceased ancestors, and to these were their first invocations in all difficulties and dangers. They reckoned amongst these beings, all those who were killed by lightning or alligators, or had any disastrous death, and believed that they were carried up to the happy state, by the rainbow, which they call Balan-gao. In general they endeavoured to attribute this kind of divinity to their fathers, when they died in years, and the old men, vain with this barbarous notion, affected in their sickness a gravity and composure of mind, as they conceived, more than human, because they thought themselves commencing Anitos. They were to be interred at places marked out by themselves, that they might be discovered at a distance and worshipped. The missionaries have had great trouble in demolishing their tombs and idols; but the Indians, inland, still continue the custom of pasing tabi sa nano, or asking permission of their dead ancestors, when they enter any wood, mountain, or corn field, for hunting or sowing; and if they omit this ceremony imagine their nonos will punish them with bad fortune.

Their notions of the creation of the world, and formation of mankind, had something ridiculously extravagant. They believed that the world at first consisted only of sky and water, and between these two, a glede; which, weary with flying about, and finding no place to rest, set the water at variance with the sky, which, in order to keep it in bounds, and that it should not get uppermost, loaded the water with a number of islands, in which the glede might settle and leave them at peace. Mankind, they said, sprang out of a large cane with two joints, that, floating about in the water, was at length thrown by the waves against the feet of the glede, as it stood on shore, which opened it with its bill, and the man came out of one joint, and the woman out of the other. These were soon after married by consent of their God, Batkala Meycapal, which caused the first trembling of the earth; and from thence are descended the different nations of the world."




At the back of the range of high mountains by which the countries of Indrapura and Anak-sungei are bounded lies the district or valley of Korinchi, which, from its secluded situation, has hitherto been little known to Europeans. In the year 1800 Mr. Charles Campbell, whose name I have had frequent occasion to mention, was led to visit this spot, in the laudable pursuit of objects for the improvement of natural history, and from his correspondence I shall extract such parts as I have reason to hope will be gratifying to the reader.


Says this indefatigable traveller:

The country of Korinchi first occupied my attention. From the sea-coast at Moco-moco to the foot of the mountains cost us three days' weary journey, and although our path was devious I cannot estimate the distance at less than thirty miles, for it was late on the fourth day when we began to ascend. Your conjecture that the ridge is broader betwixt the plains of Anak-sungei and valley of Korinchi than that which we see from Bencoolen is just. Our route in general lay north-east until we attained the summit of the first high range, from which elevated situation, through an opening in the wood, the Pagi or Nassau Islands were clearly visible. During the next day our course along the ridge of hills was a little to the northward of north­west, and for the two following days almost due north, through as noble a forest as was ever penetrated by man. On the evening of the last we descended by a steep and seemingly short path from the summit of the second range (for there are obviously two) into the Korinchi country.


This descent did not occupy us more than twenty minutes, so that the valley must lie at a great height above the level of the sea; but it was yet a few days march to the inhabited and cultivated land on the border of the great lake, which I conjecture to be situated directly behind Indrapura, or north-east from the mouth of that river. There are two lakes, but one of them is inconsiderable. I sailed for some time on the former, which may be nearly as broad as the strait between Bencoolen and Rat Island. My companions estimated it at seven miles; but the eye is liable to much deception, and, having seen nothing for many days but rivulets, the grandeur of the sheet of water, when it first burst upon our sight, perhaps induced us to form too high a notion of its extent. Its banks were studded with villages; it abounds with fish, particularly the summah, a species of cyprinus; its waters are clear and beautiful from the reflection of the black and shining sand which covers the bottom in many places to the depth of eight or ten inches.


The inhabitants are below the common stature of the Malays, with harder visages and higher cheekbones, well knit in their limbs, and active; not deficient in hospitality, but jealous of strangers. The women, excepting a few of the daughters of the chiefs, were in general ill­favoured, and even savage in their aspect. At the village of In-juan on the borders of the lake I saw some of them with rings of copper and shells among their hair; they wore destars round their heads like the men, and almost all of them had siwars or small daggers at their sides. They were not shut up or concealed from us, but mixed with our party, on the contrary, with much frankness.


The people dwell in hordes, many families being crowded together in one long building. That in which I lived gave shelter to twenty-five families. The front was one long undivided verandah, where the unmarried men slept; the back part was partitioned into small cabins, each of which had a round hole with a door to fit it, and through this the female inmates crept backwards and forwards in the most awkward manner and ridiculous posture. This house was in length two hundred and thirty feet, and elevated from the ground. Those belonging to the chiefs were smaller, well constructed of timber and plank, and covered with shingles or thin plates of board bound on with rattans, about the size and having much the appearance of our slates.


The dresses of the young women of rank were pretty enough. A large blue turband, woven with silver chains, which, meeting behind and crossing, were fastened to the earrings in festoons, decorated their heads. In this was placed a large plume of cock's feathers, bending forward over the face. The jacket was blue, of a silky texture, their own work, and bordered with small gold chain. The body-dress, likewise of their own weaving, was of cotton mingled with silk, richly striped and mixed with gold thread; but they wear it no lower than the knees. The youths of fashion were in a kind of harlequin habit, the forepart of the trousers white, the back-part blue; their jacket after the same fashion. They delighted much in an instrument made from some part of the iju palm-tree, which resembled and produced a sound like the jews-harp.


Their domestic economy (I speak of the houses of the chiefs) seemed better regulated than it generally is in these countries; they seemed tolerably advanced in the art of cookery, and had much variety of food; such as the flesh of deer, which they take in rattan snares, wild ducks, abounding on the lake; green pigeons, quails innumerable; and a variety of fish beside the summah already mentioned, and the ikan gadis, a species of carp which attains to a greater size here than in the rivers.


The potato, which was introduced there many years ago, is now a common article of food, and cultivated with some attention. Their plantations supply many esculent herbs, fruits, and roots; but the coconut, although reared as a curiosity, is abortive in these inland regions, and its place is supplied by the buah kras (Juglans camirium), of which they also make their torches. Excellent tobacco is grown there, also cotton and indigo, the small leafed kind. They get some silk from Palembang, and rear a little themselves. The communication is more frequent with the north-west shore than with the eastern, and of late, since the English have been settled at Pulo Chinco, they prefer going there for opium to the more tedious (though less distant) journey by which they formerly sought it at Moco-moco.


In their cockpits the gold-scales are frequent, and I have seen considerable quantities weighed out by the losers. This metal, I am informed, they get in their own country, although they studiously evaded all inquiries on the subject.


They make gunpowder, and it is a common sport among the young boys to fire it out of bamboos. In order to increase its strength, in their opinion, they mingle it with pepper-dust.


In a small recess on the margin of the lake, overhung with very rugged cliffs and accessible only by water, I saw one of those receptacles of misery to which the leprous and others afflicted with diseases supposed to be contagious are banished. I landed much against the remonstrances of my conductors, who would not quit the boat. There were in all seven of these unfortunate people basking on the beach and warming the wretched remains of their bodies in the sun. They were fed at stated periods by the joint contribution of the neighbouring villages, and I was given to understand that any attempt to quit this horrid exile was punished with death.


I had little time for botanizing; but I found there many plants unknown to the lowlands. Among them were a species of prune, the water-hemlock, and the strawberry. This last was like that species which grows in our woods; but it was insipid. I brought the roots with me to Fort Marlborough, where it lingered a year or two after fruiting and gradually died.* I found there also a beautiful kind of the Hedychium coronarium, now ranked among the kaempferias. It was of a pale orange, and had a most grateful odour. The girls wear it in their hair, and its beautiful head of lily flowers is used in the silent language of love, to the practice of which, during your stay here, I suppose you were no stranger, and which indicates a delicacy of sentiment one would scarcely expect to find in the character of so rude a people.

(*Footnote. This plant has fruited also in England, but doubts are entertained of its being really a fragaria, By Dr. Smith it is termed a potentilla.)


Although the chiefs received us with hospitality yet the mass of people considered our intentions as hostile, and seemed jealous of our intrusion. Of their women however they were not at all jealous, and the familiarity of these was unrestrained. They entertained us with dances after their fashion, and made some rude attempts at performing a sort of pantomime. I may now close this detail with observing that the natives of this mountainous region have stronger animal spirits than those of the plains, and pass their lives with more variety than the torpid inhabitants of the coast; that they breathe a spirit of independence, and being frequently engaged in warfare, village against village, they would be better prepared to resist any invasion of their liberties.


They took great offence at a large package carried by six men which contained our necessaries, insisting that within it we had concealed a priuk api, for so they call a mortar or howitzer, one of which had been used with success against a village on the borders of their country during the rebellion of the son of the sultan of Moco-moco; and even when satisfied respecting this they manifested so much suspicion that we found it necessary to be constantly on our guard, and were once nearly provoked by their petulance and treachery to proceed to violence. When they found our determination they seemed humble, but were not even then to be trusted; and when we were on our return a friendly chief sent us intelligence that an ambuscade had been laid for us in one of the narrow passes of the mountains. We pursued our journey however without meeting any obstruction.

On the subject of gold I have only to add to Mr. Campbell's information that, in the enumeration by the natives of places where there are gold-mines, Karinchi is always included.


Opportunities of visiting the interior parts of the island have so seldom occurred, or are likely to occur, that I do not hesitate to present to the reader an abstract of the Journal kept by Lieutenant Hastings Dare (now a captain on the Bengal establishment) whilst commanding an expedition to the countries of Ipu, Serampei, and Sungei-tenang, which border to the south-east on that of Korinchi above described; making at the same time my acknowledgments to that gentleman for his obliging communication of the original, and my apologies for the brevity to which my subject renders it necessary to confine the narrative.


Sultan Asing, brother to the present sultan of Moco-moco, in conjunction with Pa Muncha and Sultan Sidi, two hill-chiefs his relations, residing at Pakalang-jambu and Jambi, raised a small force with which, in the latter part of the year 1804, they made a descent on Ipu, one of the Company's districts, burnt several villages and carried off a number of the inhabitants. The guard of native Malay troops not being sufficiently strong to check these depredations, a party was ordered from Fort Marlborough under the command of Lieutenant Hastings Dare, consisting of eighty-three sepoy officers and men, with five lascars, twenty­two Bengal convicts, and eighteen of the Bugis-guard; in the whole one hundred and twenty-eight.

November 22 1804. Marched from Fort Marlborough, and December 3 arrived at Ipu. The roads extremely bad from the torrents of rain that fell. 4th. Mr. Hawthorne, the Resident, informed us that the enemy had fortified themselves at a place called Tabe-si-kuddi, but, on hearing of the approach of the detachment, had gone off to the hills in the Sungei­tenang country and fortified themselves at Koto Tuggoh, a village that had been a receptacle for all the vagabonds from the districts near the coast. 13th. Having procured coolies and provisions, for which we have been hitherto detained, quitted Ipu in an east-north-east direction, and passed through several pepper and rice plantations. At dusun Baru one of our people caught a fine large fish, called ikan gadis. 14th. Marched in a south-east direction; crossed several rivulets, and reached again the banks of Ipu river, which we crossed. It was about four feet deep and very rapid. Passed the night at dusun Arah. The country rather hilly; thermometer 88 degrees at noon. 15th. Reached dusun Tanjong, the last place in the Ipu district where rice or any other provision is to be found, and these were sent on from Talang Puttei, this place being deserted by its inhabitants, several of whom the enemy had carried off with them as slaves. The country very hilly, and roads, in consequence of the heavy rains, bad and slippery. 16th. Marched in a north and east direction.


After crossing the Ayer Ikan stream twice we arrived at some hot springs, about three or four miles in the winding course we were obliged to take from dusun Tanjong, situated in a low swampy spot, about sixty yards in circumference. This is very hot in every part of it, excepting (which is very extraordinary) one place on its eastern side, where, although a hot spring is bubbling up within one yard of it, the water running from it is as cold as common spring water. In consequence of the excessive heat of the place and softness of the ground none of us could get close to the springs; but upon putting the thermometer within three yards of them it immediately rose to 120 degrees of Fahrenheit. We could not bear our fingers any time in the water. It tasted copperish and bitter; there was a strong sulphurous smell at the place, and a green sediment at the bottom and sides of the spring, with a reddish or copper-coloured scum floating on the surface. After again crossing the Ikan stream we arrived at dusun Simpang. The enemy had been here, and had burned nearly half of the village and carried off the inhabitants. The road from Tanjong to Simpang was entirely through a succession of pepper-gardens and rice plantations. We are now among the hills. Country in a higher state of cultivation than near the coast, but nearly deserted, and must soon become a waste. Could not get intelligence of the enemy. Built huts on Ayer Ikan at Napah Kapah. 17th. Marched in a south direction and crossed Ayer Tubbu, passing a number of durian trees on its bank. Again crossed the stream several times. Arrived early at Tabe-si-kuddi, a small talang, where the enemy had built three batteries or entrenchments and left behind them a quantity of grain, but vegetating and unfit for use. Previously to our reaching these entrenchments some of the detachment got wounded in the feet with ranjaus, set very thickly in the ground in every direction, and which obliged us to be very cautious in our steps until we arrived at the banks of a small rivulet, called the Nibong, two or three miles beyond them.


Ranjaus are slips of bamboo sharpened at each end, the part that is stuck in the ground being thicker than the opposite end, which decreases to a fine thin point, and is hardened by dipping it in oil and applying it to the smoke of a lamp near the flame. They are planted in the footpaths, sometimes erect, sometimes sloping, in small holes, or in muddy and miry places, and when trodden upon (for they are so well concealed as not to be easily seen) they pierce through the foot and make a most disagreeable wound, the bamboo leaving in it a rough hairy stuff it has on its outside, which irritates, inflames, and prevents it from healing. The whole of the road this day lay over a succession of steep hills, and in the latter part covered with deep forests. The whole of the detachment did not reach our huts on the bank of the Nibong stream till evening, much time being consumed in bringing on the mortar and magazine. Picked up pouches, musket stocks, etc., and saw new huts, near one of which was a quantity of clotted blood and a fresh grave. 18th. Proceeded east-north-east and passed several rivulets. Regained the banks of the Ipu river, running north-east to south-west here tolerably broad and shallow, being a succession of rapids over a rough stony bed. Encamped both this night and the last where the enemy had built huts. 19th. Marched in a north direction. More of the detachment wounded by ranjaus planted in the pathways. Roads slippery and bad from rains, and the hills so steep it is with difficulty we get the mortar and heavy baggage forward. Killed a green snake with black spots along its back, about four feet long, four to five inches in girt, and with a thick stumpy tail. The natives say its bite is venomous. Our course today has been north along the banks of the Ipu river; the noise of the rapids so great that when near it we can with difficulty hear each other speak. 20th. Continued along the river, crossing it several times. Came to a hot spring in the water of which the thermometer rose to 100 degrees at a considerable distance from its source. The road today tolerably level and good.


We were much plagued by a small kind of leech, which dropped on us from the leaves of the trees, and got withinside our clothes. We were in consequence on our halting every day obliged to strip and bathe ourselves in order to detach them from our bodies, filled with the blood they had sucked from us. They were not above an inch in length, and before they fixed themselves as thin as a needle, so that they could penetrate our dress in any part. We encamped this evening at the conflux of the Simpang stream and Ipu river. Our huts were generally thatched with the puar or wild cardamum leaf, which grows in great abundance on the banks of the rivers in this part of the country. It bears a pleasant acid fruit, growing much in the same way as the maize. In long journeys through the woods, when other provisions fail, the natives live principally on this. The leaf is something like that of the plantain, but not nearly so large. 21st. Arrived at a spot called Dingau-benar, from whence we were obliged to return on account of the coolies not being able to descend a hill which was at least a hundred and fifty yards high, and nearly perpendicular. In effecting it we were obliged to cling to the trees and roots, without which assistance it would have been impracticable. It was nearly evening before one half of the detachment had reached the bottom, and it rained so excessively hard that we were obliged to remain divided for the night; the rear party on the top of the steep hill, and the advanced on the brow of another hill. One of the guides and a Malay coolie were drowned in attempting to find a ford across the Ipu river. I was a long time before we could get any fire, everything being completely soaked through, and the greater part of the poor fellows had not time to build huts for themselves. Military disposition for guarding baggage, preventing surprise, etc. 22nd. We had much difficulty in getting the mortar and its bed down, being obliged to make use of long thick rattans tied to them and successively to several trees. It was really admirable to observe the patience of the sepoys and Bengal convicts on this occasion. On mustering the coolies, found that nearly one half had run during the night, which obliged us to fling away twenty bags of rice, besides salt and other articles. Our course lay north, crossing the river several times. My poor faithful dog Gruff was carried away by the violence of the stream and lost. We were obliged to make bridges by cutting down tall trees, laying them across the stream, and interlacing them with rattans.

We were now between two ranges of very high hills; on our right hand Bukit Pandang, seen from a great distance at sea; the road shockingly bad. Encamped on the western bank. 23rd. Marched in a north direction, the roads almost impassable. The river suddenly swelled so much that the rear party could not join the advanced, which was so fortunate as to occupy huts built by the enemy. There were fires in two of them. We were informed however that the Serampei and Sungei-tenang people often come this distance to catch fish, which they dry and carry back to their country. At certain times of the year great quantities of the ringkis and ikan-gadis are taken, besides a kind of large conger-eel. We frequently had fish when time would admit of the people catching them. It is impossible to describe the difficulties we had to encounter in consequence of the heavy rains, badness of the roads, and rapidity of the river. The sepoy officer and many men ill of fluxes and fevers, and lame with swelled and sore feet. 24th. Military precautions. Powder damaged. Thunder and lightning with torrents of rain. Almost the whole of the rice rotten or sour. 25th. Continued to march up the banks of the river. No inhabitants in this part of the country.


The compass for these several days has been very irregular. We have two with us and they do not at all agree. The road less bad. At one place we saw bamboos of the thickness of a man's thigh. There were myriads of very small flies this evening, which teased us much. Occupied some huts we found on the eastern bank. This is Christmas evening; to us, God knows, a dull one. Our wines and liquors nearly expended, and we have but one miserable half-starved chicken left although we have been on short allowance the whole way. 26th. Roads tolerable. Passed a spot called Kappah, and soon after a waterfall named Ipu-machang, about sixty feet high. Picked up a sick man belonging to the enemy. He informed us that there were between two and three hundred men collected at Koto Tuggoh, under the command of Sutan Sidi, Sutan Asing, and Pa Muncha. These three chiefs made a festival, killing buffaloes, as is usual with the natives of Sumatra on such occasions, at this place, and received every assistance from the principal Dupati, who is also father-in-law to Pa Muncha. They possess sixty stand of muskets, beside blunderbusses and wall-pieces. They had quitted the Company's districts about twenty-three days ago, and are gone, some to Koto Tuggoh, and others to Pakalang-jambu. 27th. Marched in a north-north-east direction; passed over a steep hill which took us three hours hard walking. The river is now very narrow and rapid, not above twelve feet across; it is a succession of waterfalls every three or four yards. After this our road was intricate, winding, and bad. We had to ascend a high chasm formed in the rock, which was effected by ladders from one shelf to another. Arrived at the foot of Bukit Pandang, where we found huts, and occupied them for the night. We have been ascending the whole of this day. Very cold and rainy. At night we were glad to make large fires and use our blankets and woollen clothes. Having now but little rice left we were obliged to put ourselves to an allowance of one bamboo or gallon measure among ten men; and the greater part of that rotten.


28th. Ascended Bukit Pandang in an east-north-east direction. Reached a small spring of water called Pondo Kubang, the only one to be met with till the hill is descended. About two miles from the top, and from thence all the way up, the trees and ground were covered very thick with moss; the trees much stunted, and altogether the appearance was barren and gloomy; to us particularly so, for we could find little or nothing wherewith to build our huts, nor procure a bit of dry wood to light a fire. In order to make one for dressing the victuals, Lieutenant Dare was compelled to break up one of his boxes, otherwise he and Mr. Alexander, the surgeon, must have eaten them raw. It rained hard all night, and the coolies and most of the party were obliged to lie down on the wet ground in the midst of it.


It was exceedingly cold to our feelings; in the evening the thermometer was down to 50 degrees, and in the night to 45 degrees. In consequence of the cold, inclemency, and fatigue to which the coolies were exposed, seven of them died that night. The lieutenant and surgeon made themselves a kind of shelter with four tarpaulins that were fortunately provided to cover the medicine chest and surgical instruments, but the place was so small that it scarcely held them both. In the evening when the former was sitting on his camp­stool, whilst the people were putting up the tarpaulins, a very small bird, perfectly black, came hopping about the stool, picking up the worms from the moss. It was so tame and fearless that it frequently perched itself on his foot and on different parts of the stool; which shows that these parts of the country must be very little frequented by human beings. 29th. Descended Bukit Pandang. Another coolie died this morning. We are obliged to fling away shells. After walking some time many of the people recovered, as it was principally from cold and damps they suffered. Crossed a stream called Inum where we saw several huts. In half an hour more arrived at the banks of the greater Ayer Dikit River, which is here shallow, rapid, and about eighty yards broad. We marched westerly along its banks, and reached a hut opposite to a spot called Rantau Kramas, where we remained for the night, being prevented from crossing by a flood. 30th. Cut down a large tree and threw it across the river; it reached about halfway over. With this and the assistance of rattans tied to the opposite side we effected our passage and arrived at Rantau Kramas. Sent off people to Ranna Alli, one of the Serampei villages, about a day's march from hence, for provisions. Thermometer 59 degrees.

The greater Ayer Dikit river, on the north side of which this place lies, runs nearly from east to west. There are four or five bamboo huts at it, for the temporary habitation of travellers passing and repassing this way, being in the direction from the Serampei to the Sungei-tenang country. These huts are covered with bamboos (in plenty here) split and placed like pantiles transversely over each other, forming, when the bamboos are well-grown, a capital and lasting roof (see above). 31st. A Malay man and woman taken by our people report that the enemy thirteen days ago had proceeded two days march beyond Koto Tuggoh. Received some provisions from Ranna Alli. The enemy, we are informed, have dug holes and put long stakes into them, set spring-spears, and planted the road very thickly with ranjaus, and were collecting their force at Koto Tuggoh (signifying the strong fortress) to receive us. 1805. January 1st and 2nd. Received some small supplies of provisions.


On the 3rd we were saluted by shouting and firing of the enemy from the heights around us. Parties were immediately sent off in different directions as the nature of the ground allowed.


The advanced party had only time to fire two rounds when the enemy retired to a strong position on the top of a steep hill where they had thrown up a breastwork, which they disputed for a short time. On our getting possession of it they divided into three parties and fled. We had one sepoy killed and several of the detachment wounded by the ranjaus. Many of the enemy were killed and wounded and the paths they had taken covered with blood; but it is impossible to tell their numbers as they always carry them off the moment they drop, considering it a disgrace to leave them on the field of battle. If they get any of the bodies of their enemies they immediately strike off the head and fix it on a long pole, carrying it to their village as a trophy, and addressing to it every sort of abusive language. Those taken alive in battle are made slaves. After completely destroying everything in the battery we marched, and arrived at the top of a very high hill, where we built our huts for the evening. The road was thickly planted with ranjaus which, with the heavy rains, impeded our progress and prevented us from reaching a place called Danau-pau. Our course today has been north-east and easterly, the roads shockingly bad, and we were obliged to leave behind several coolies and two sepoys who were unable to accompany us. 4th. Obliged to fling away the bullets of the cartridges, three-fourths of which were damaged, and other articles. Most of the detachment sick with fluxes and fevers, or wounded in the feet. Marched in an eastern direction. Reached a spot very difficult to pass, being knee-deep in mud for a considerable way, with ranjaus concealed in the mud, and spring-spears set in many places. We were obliged to creep through a thicket of canes and bamboos. About noon the advanced party arrived at a lake and discovered that the enemy were on the opposite side of a small stream that ran from the lake, where they had entrenched themselves behind four small batteries in a most advantageous position, being on the top of a steep hill, of difficult access, with the stream on one side, the lake on the other, and the other parts surrounded by a swamp.


We immediately commenced the attack, but were unable, from the number of ranjaus in the only accessible part, to make a push on to the enemy. However about one o'clock we effected our purpose, and completely got possession of the entrenchments, which, had they been properly defended, must have cost us more than the half of our detachment. We had four sepoys severely wounded, and almost the whole of our feet dreadfully cut. Numbers of the enemy were killed and wounded. They defended each of the batteries with some obstinacy against our fire, but when once we came near them they could not stand our arms, and ran in every direction. At this place there are no houses nor inhabitants, but only temporary huts, built by the Sungei-tenang people, who come here occasionally to fish. The lake, which is named Danau-pau, has a most beautiful appearance, being like a great amphitheatre, surrounded by high and steep mountains covered with forests. It is about two miles in diameter. We occupied some huts built by the enemy. The place is thickly surrounded with bamboos.


In consequence of the number of our sick and wounded, the small strength of coolies to carry their baggage, and the want of medicines and ammunition, as well as of provisions, we thought it advisable to return to Rantau Kramas; and to effect this we were obliged to fling away the mortar-bed, shells, and a number of other things. We marched at noon, and arrived in the evening at the top of the hill where we had before encamped, and remained for the night. 6th. Reached Rantau Kramas. 7th. Marching in torrents of rain. People exceedingly harassed, reduced, and emaciated. Relieved by the arrival of Serampei people with some provisions from Ranna Alli. 8th. After a most fatiguing march arrived at that place half-dead with damps and cold. The bearers of the litters for the sick were absolutely knocked up, and we were obliged to the sepoys for getting on as we did. Our route was north-west with little variation. 9th. Remained at Ranna Alli. This serampei village consists of about fifteen houses, and may contain a hundred and fifty or two hundred inhabitants. It is thickly planted all round with a tall hedge of live bamboos, on the outside of which ranjaus are planted to the distance of thirty or forty feet. Withinside of the hedge there is a bamboo pagar or paling. It is situated on a steep hill surrounded by others, which in many places are cleared to their tops, where the inhabitants have their ladangs or rice plantations. They appeared to be a quiet, inoffensive set of people; their language different from the Malayan, which most of them spoke, but very imperfectly and hardly to be understood by us. On our approach the women and children ran to their ladangs, being, as their husbands informed us, afraid of the sepoys.


Of the women whom we saw almost every one had the goitres or swellings under the throat; and it seemed to be more prevalent with these than with the men. One woman in particular had two protuberances dangling at her neck as big as quart bottles.

There are three dupatis and four mantris to this village, to whom we made presents, and afterwards to the wives and families of the inhabitants. 10th and 11th. Preparing for our march to Moco-moco, where we can recruit our force, and procure supplies of stores and ammunition. 12th. Marched in a north and north-west direction.


Passed over a bridge of curious construction across the Ayer Abu River. It was formed of bamboos tied together with iju ropes and suspended to the trees, whose branches stretched nearly over the stream.

The Serampei women are the worst-favoured creatures we ever saw, and uncouth in their manners. Arrived at Tanjong Kasiri, another fortified village, more populous than Ranna Alli. 13th. The sick and heavy baggage were ordered to Tanjong Agung, another Serampei village.


14th. Arrived at Ayer Grau or Abu, a small river, within a yard or two of which we saw columns of smoke issuing from the earth, where there were hot springs of water bubbling up in a number of places. The stream was quite warm for several yards, and the ground and stones were so hot that there was no standing on them for any length of time. The large pieces of quartz, pumice, and other stones apparently burnt, induce us to suppose there must have formerly been a volcano at this spot, which is a deep vale, surrounded by high hills. Arrived much fatigued at Tanjong Agung, where the head dupati received us in his best style.


He seemed to know more of European customs and manners than those whom we have hitherto met with, and here, for the first time since quitting the Ipu district, we got coconuts, which he presented to us.


We saw numbers of cassia-trees in our march today. The bark, which the natives brought us in quantities, is sweet, but thick and coarse, and much inferior to cinnamon. This is the last and best fortified village in the Serampei country, bordering on the forests between that and Anak-Sungei.


They have a custom here of never allowing any animal to be killed in any part of the village but the balei or town hall, unless the person wishing to do otherwise consents to pay a fine of one fathom of cotton cloth to the priest for his permission. The old dupati told us there had been formerly a great deal of sickness and bloodshed in the village, and it had been predicted that, unless this custom were complied with, the like would happen again. We paid the fine, had the prayers of the priest, and killed our goats where and as we pleased. 16th. Marched in a south-westerly direction, and, after passing many steep hills, reached the lesser Ayer Dikit River, which we crossed, and built our huts on its western bank. 17th. Marched in a west, and afterwards a south, direction; the roads, in consequence of the rain ceasing today, tolerably dry and good, but over high hills. Arrived at Ayer Prikan, and encamped on its western bank; its course north and south over a rough, stony bed; very rapid, and about thirty yards across, at the foot of Bukit Lintang. Saw today abundance of cassia­trees. 18th. Proceeded to ascend Bukit Lintang, which in the first part was excessively steep and fatiguing; our route north and north-west when descending, south-south-west. Arrived at one of the sources of the Sungei-ipu. Descending still farther we reached a small spring where we built our huts. 19th. On our march this day we were gratified by the receipt of letters from our friends at Bencoolen, by the way of Moco-moco, from whence the Resident, Mr. Russell, sent us a supply of wine and other refreshments, which we had not tasted for fourteen days. Our course lay along the banks of the Sungei-ipu, and we arrived at huts prepared for us by Mr. Russell. 20th. At one time our guide lost the proper path by mistaking for it the track of a rhinoceros (which are in great numbers in these parts), and we got into a place where we were teased with myriads of leeches. Our road, excepting two or three small hills, was level and good. Reached the confluence of the Ipu and Si Luggan Rivers, the latter of which rises in the Korinchi country. Passed Gunong Payong, the last hill, as we approached Moco-moco, near to which had been a village formerly burnt and the inhabitants made slaves by Pa Muncha and the then tuanku mudo (son of the sultan). 21st. Arrived at talang Rantau Riang, the first Moco-moco or Anak-Sungei village, where we found provisions dressed for us. At dusun Si Ballowe, to which our road lay south-easterly, through pepper and rice plantations, sampans were in readiness to convey us down the river. This place is remarkable for an arau tree (casuarina), the only one met with at such a distance from the sea. The country is here level in comparison with what we have passed through, and the soil rather sandy, with a mixture of red clay. 22nd. The course of the river is south-west and west with many windings. Arrived at Moco-moco.


Fort Ann lies on the southern and the settlement on the northern side of the Si Luggan River, which name belongs properly to the place also, and that of Moco-moco to a small village higher up. The bazaar consists of about one hundred houses, all full of children. At the northern end is the sultan's, which has nothing particular to distinguish it, but only its being larger than other Malay houses. Great quantities of fish are procured at this place, and sold cheap. The trade is principally with the hill-people, in salt, piece-goods, iron, steel, and opium; for which the returns are provisions, timber, and a little gold-dust. Formerly there was a trade carried on with the Padang and other ate angin people, but it is now dropped. The soil is sandy, low, and flat.


It being still necessary to make an example of the Sungei-tenang people for assisting the three hostile chiefs in their depredations, in order thereby to deter others from doing the same in future, and the men being now recovered from their fatigue and furnished with the requisite supplies, the detachment began to march on the 9th of February for Ayer Dikit. It now consists of Lieutenant Dare, Mr. Alexander, surgeon, seventy sepoys, including officers, twenty-seven lascars and Bengal convicts, and eleven of the bugis-guard. Left the old mortar and took with us one of smaller calibre.


From the 10th to the 22nd occupied in our march to the Serampei village of Ranna Alli. The people of this country acknowledge themselves the subjects of the sultan of Jambi, who sometimes but rarely exacts a tribute from them of a buffalo, a tail of gold, and a hundred bamboos of rice from each village. They are accustomed to carry burdens of from sixty to ninety pounds weight on journeys that take them twenty or thirty days; and it astonishes a lowlander to see with what ease they walk over these hills, generally going a shuffling or ambling pace. Their loads are placed in a long triangular basket, supported by a fillet across the forehead, resting upon the back and back part of the head, the broadest end of the triangle being uppermost, considerably above the head, and the small end coming down as low as the loins. The Serampei country, comprehending fifteen fortified and independent dusuns, beside talangs or small open villages, is bounded on the north and north-west by Korinchi, on the east, south-east, and south by Pakalang-jambu and Sungei-tenang, and on the west and south-west by the greater Ayer Dikit River and chain of high mountains bordering on the Sungei-ipu country. 23rd. Reached Rantau Kramas. Took possession of the batteries, which the enemy had considerably improved in our absence, collecting large quantities of stones; but they were not manned, probably from not expecting our return so soon. 24th. Arrived at those of Danau-pau, which had also been strengthened. The roads being dry and weather fine we are enabled to make tolerably long marches. Our advanced party nearly caught one of the enemy planting ranjaus, and in retreating he wounded himself with them. 25th. Passed many small rivulets discharging themselves into the lake at this place.


26th. The officer commanding the advanced party sent word that the enemy were at a short distance ahead; that they had felled a number of trees to obstruct the road, and had thrown an entrenchment across it, extending from one swamp and precipice to another, where they waited to receive us. When the whole of the detachment had come up we marched on to the attack, scrambled over the trees, and with great difficulty got the mortar over.


The first onset was not attended with success, and our men were dropping fast, not being able to advance on account of the ranjaus, which almost pinned their feet to the ground. Seeing that the entrenchments were not to be carried in front, a subedar with thirty sepoys and the bugis-guard were ordered to endeavour to pass the swamp on the right, find out a pathway, and attack the enemy on the flank and rear, while the remainder should, on a preconcerted signal, make an attack on the front at the same time. To prevent the enemy from discovering our intentions the drums were kept beating, and a few random shots fired. Upon the signal being given a general attack commenced, and our success was complete.


The enemy, of whom there were, as we reckon, three or four hundred within the entrenchments, were soon put to the rout, and, after losing great numbers, among whom was the head dupati, a principal instigator of the disturbances, fled in all directions. We lost two sepoys killed and seven wounded, beside several much hurt by the ranjaus. The mortar played during the time, but is not supposed to have done much execution on account of the surrounding trees.


The entrenchments were constructed of large trees laid horizontally between stakes driven into the ground, about seven feet high, with loopholes for firing. Being laid about six feet thick, a cannonball could not have penetrated. They extended eighty or ninety yards. The headman's quarters were a large tree hollowed at the root.

As soon as litters could be made for the wounded, and the killed were buried, we continued our march in an eastern direction, and in about an hour arrived at another battery, which however was not defended. In front of this the enemy had tied a number of long sharp stakes to a stone, which was suspended to the bough of a tree, and by swinging it their plan was to wound us.


Crossed the Tambesi rivulet, flowing from south to north, and one of the contributary streams to the Jambi River, which discharges itself into the sea on the eastern side of the Island. Built our huts near a field of maize and padi.


27th. Marched to Koto Tuggoh, from whence the inhabitants fled on our throwing one shell and firing a few muskets, and we took possession of the place. It is situated on a high hill, nearly perpendicular on three sides, the easiest entrance being on the west, but it is there defended by a ditch seven fathoms deep and five wide. The place contains the ballei and about twenty houses, built in general of plank very neatly put together, and carved; and some of them were also roofed with planks or shingles about two feet long and one broad. The others with the leaves of the puar or cardamum, which are again very thinly covered with iju. This is said to last long, but harbours vermin, as we experienced. When we entered the village we met with only one person, who was deformed, dumb, and had more the appearance of a monkey than a human creature.


March 1st. After completely destroying Koto Tuggoh we marched in a north and afterwards an east direction, and arrived at Koto Bharu. The head dupati requesting a parley, it was granted, and, on our promising not to injure his village, he allowed us to take possession of it. We found in the place a number of Batang Asei and other people, armed with muskets, blunderbusses, and spears. At our desire, he sent off people to the other Sungei-tenang villages to summon their chiefs to meet us if they chose to show themselves friends, or otherwise we should proceed against them as we had done against Koto Tuggoh.


This dupati was a respectable-looking old man, and tears trickled down his cheeks when matters were amicably settled between us: indeed for some time he could hardly be convinced of it, and repeatedly asked, "Are we friends?" 2nd. The chiefs met as desired, and after a short conversation agreed to all that we proposed. Papers were thereupon drawn up and signed and sworn to under the British colours. After this a shell was thrown into the air at the request of the chiefs, who were desirous of witnessing the sight.


Their method of swearing was as follows: The young shoots of the anau-tree were made into a kind of rope, with the leaves hanging, and this was attached to four stakes stuck in the ground, forming an area of five or six feet square, within which a mat was spread, where those about to take the oath seated themselves. A small branch of the prickly bamboo was planted in the area also, and benzoin was kept burning during the ceremony. The chiefs then laid their hands on the koran, held to them by a priest, and one of them repeated to the rest the substance of the oath, who, at the pauses he made, gave a nod of assent; after which they severally said, "may the earth become barren, the air and water poisonous, and may dreadful calamities fall on us and our posterity, if we do not fulfil what we now agree to and promise."


We met here with little or no fruit excepting plantains and pineapples, and these of an indifferent sort. The general produce of the country was maize, padi, potatoes, sweet-potatoes, tobacco, and sugar-cane. The principal part of their clothing was procured from the eastern side of the island. They appear to have no regular season for sowing the grain, and we saw plantations where in one part they had taken in the crop, in another part it was nearly ripe, in a third not above five inches high, and in a fourth they had but just prepared the ground for sowing. Upon the whole, there appeared more cultivation than near the coast.


It is a practice with many individuals among these people (as with mountaineers in some parts of Europe) to leave their country in order to seek employment where they can find it, and at the end of three or four years revisit their native soil, bringing with them the produce of their labours. If they happen to be successful they become itinerant merchants, and travel to almost all parts of the island, particularly where fairs are held, or else purchase a matchlock gun and become soldiers of fortune, hiring themselves to whoever will pay them, but always ready to come forward in defence of their country and families. They are a thick stout dark race of people, something resembling the Achinese; and in general they are addicted to smoking opium. We had no opportunity of seeing the Sungei-tenang women. The men are very fantastical in their dress. Their bajus have the sleeves blue perhaps whilst the body is white, with stripes of red or any other colour over the shoulders, and their short breeches are generally one half blue and the other white, just as fancy leads them. Others again are dressed entirely in blue cotton cloth, the same as the inhabitants of the west coast. The bag containing their sirih or betel hangs over the shoulder by a string, if it may be so termed, of brass wire. Many of them have also twisted brass wire round the waist, in which they stick their krises.


They commonly carry charms about their persons to preserve them from accidents; one of which was shown to us, printed (at Batavia or Samarang in Java) in Dutch, Portuguese, and French. It purported that the writer was acquainted with the occult sciences, and that whoever possessed one of the papers impressed with his mark (which was the figure of a hand with the thumb and fingers extended) was invulnerable and free from all kinds of harm. It desired the people to be very cautious of taking any such printed in London (where certainly none were ever printed), as the English would endeavour to counterfeit them and to impose on the purchasers, being all cheats. (Whether we consider this as a political or a mercantile speculation it is not a little extraordinary and ridiculous). The houses here, as well as in the Serampei country, are all built on posts of what they call paku gajah (elephant-fern, Chamaerops palma, Lour.), a tree something resembling a fern, and when full-grown a palm-tree. It is of a fibrous nature, black, and lasts for a great length of time. Every dusun has a ballei or town hall, about a hundred and twenty feet long and proportionably broad, the woodwork of which is neatly carved. The dwelling-houses contain five, six, or seven families each, and the country is populous. The inhabitants both of Sungei-tenang and Serampei are Mahometans, and acknowledge themselves subjects of Jambi. The former country, so well as we were able to ascertain, is bounded on the north and north-west by Korinchi and Serampei, on the west and south-west by the Anak-sungei or Moco-moco and Ipu districts, on the south by Labun, and on the east by Batang Asei and Pakalang-jambu. 3rd. Marched on our return to the coast, many of the principal people attending us as far as the last of their plantations. It rained hard almost the whole of this day.


On the 14th arrived at Moco-moco; on the 22nd proceeded for Bencoolen, and arrived there on the 30th March 1805, after one of the most fatiguing and harassing expeditions any detachment of troops ever served upon; attended with the sickness of the whole of the party, and the death of many, particularly of Mr. Alexander, the surgeon.

End of Lieutenant Dare's narrative.

It is almost unnecessary to observe that these were the consequences of the extreme impolicy of sending an expedition up the country in the heart of the rainy season. The public orders issued on the occasion were highly creditable to Lieutenant Dare.




I shall now take a more particular view of the Malayan states, as distinguished from those of the people termed orang ulu or countrymen, and orang dusun or villagers, who, not being generally converted to the Mahometan religion, have thereby preserved a more original character.


The principal government, and whose jurisdiction in ancient times is understood to have comprehended the whole of Sumatra, is Menangkabau,* situated under the equinoctial line, beyond the western range of high mountains, and nearly in the centre of the island; in which respect it differs from Malayan establishments in other parts, which are almost universally near the mouths of large rivers. The appellations however of orang menangkabau and orang malayo are so much identified that, previously to entering upon an account of the former, it will be useful to throw as much light as possible upon the latter, and to ascertain to what description of people the name of Malays, bestowed by Europeans upon all who resemble them in features and complexion, properly belongs.

(*Footnote. The name is said to be derived from the words menang, signifying to win, and karbau, a buffalo; from a story, carrying a very fabulous air, of a famous engagement on that spot between the buffaloes and tigers, in which the former are stated to have acquired a complete victory. Such is the account the natives give; but they are fond of dealing in fiction, and the etymology has probably no better foundation than a fanciful resemblance of sound.)


It has hitherto been considered as an obvious truth, and admitted without examination that, wherever they are found upon the numerous islands forming this archipelago, they or their ancestors must have migrated from the country named by Europeans (and by them alone) the Malayan peninsula or peninsula of Malacca, of which the indigenous and proper inhabitants were understood to be Malays; and accordingly in the former editions of this work I spoke of the natives of Menangkabau as having acquired their religion, language, manners, and other national characteristics from the settling among them of genuine Malays from the neighbouring continent. It will however appear from the authorities I shall produce, amounting as nearly to positive evidence as the nature of the subject will admit, that the present possessors of the coasts of the peninsula were on the contrary in the first instance adventurers from Sumatra, who in the twelfth century formed an establishment there, and that the indigenous inhabitants, gradually driven by them to the woods and mountains, so far from being the stock from whence the Malays were propagated, are an entirely different race of men, nearly approaching in their physical character to the negroes of Africa.


The evidences of this migration from Sumatra are chiefly found in two Malayan books well known, by character at least, to those who are conversant with the written language, the one named Taju assalatin or Makuta segala raja-raja, The Crown of all Kings, and the other, more immediately to the purpose, Sulalat assalatin or Penurun-an segala raja­raja, The Descent of all (Malayan) Kings. Of these it has not been my good fortune to obtain copies, but the contents, so far as they apply to the present subject, have been fully detailed by two eminent Dutch writers to whom the literature of this part of the East was familiar. Petrus van der Worm first communicated the knowledge of these historical treatises in his learned Introduction to the Malayan Vocabulary of Gueynier, printed at Batavia in the year 1677; and extracts to the same effect were afterwards given by Valentyn in Volume 5 pages 316 to 320 of his elaborate work, published at Amsterdam in 1726. The books are likewise mentioned in a list of Malayan Authors by G.H. Werndly, at the end of his Maleische Spraak-kunst, and by the ingenious Dr. Leyden in his Paper on the Languages and Literature of the Indo-Chinese Nations, recently published in Volume 10 of the Asiatic Researches. The substance of the information conveyed by them is as follows; and I trust it will not be thought that the mixture of a portion of mythological fable in accounts of this nature invalidates what might otherwise have credit as historical fact. The utmost indeed we can pretend to ascertain is what the natives themselves believe to have been their ancient history; and it is proper to remark that in the present question there can be no suspicion of bias from national vanity, as we have reason to presume that the authors of these books were not Sumatrans.

The original country inhabited by the Malayan race (according to these authorities) was the kingdom of Palembang in the island of Indalus, now Sumatra, on the river Malayo, which flows by the mountain named Maha-meru, and discharges itself into the river Tatang (on which Palembang stands) before it joins the sea. Having chosen for their king or leader a prince named Sri Turi Buwana, who boasted his descent from Iskander the Great, and to whom, on that account, their natural chief Demang Lebar Daun submitted his authority, they emigrated, under his command (about the year 1160), to the south-eastern extremity of the opposite peninsula, named Ujong Tanah, where they were at first distinguished by the appellation of orang de-bawah angin or the Leeward people, but in time the coast became generally known by that of Tanah malayo or the Malayan land.


In this situation they built their first city, which they called Singapura (vulgarly Sincapore), and their rising consequence excited the jealousy of the kings of Maja-pahit, a powerful state in the island of Java. To Sri Turi Buwana, who died in 1208, succeeded Paduka Pikaram Wira, who reigned fifteen years; to him Sri Rama Vikaram, who reigned thirteen, and to him Sri Maharaja, who reigned twelve.


His successor, Sri Iskander Shah, was the last king of Singapura. During three years he withstood the forces of the king of Maja-pahit, but in 1252, being hard pressed, he retired first to the northward, and afterwards to the western, coast of the peninsula, where in the following year he founded a new city, which under his wise government became of considerable importance. To this he gave the name of Malaka, from a fruit-bearing tree so called (myrabolanum) found in abundance on the hill which gives natural strength to the situation. Having reigned here twenty-two years, beloved by his subjects and feared by his neighbours, Iskander Shah died in 1274, and was succeeded by Sultan Magat, who reigned only two years. Up to this period the Malayan princes were pagans. Sultan Muhammed Shah, who ascended the throne in 1276, was the first Mahometan prince, and by the propagation of this faith acquired great celebrity during a long reign of fifty-seven years. His influence appears to have extended over the neighbouring islands of Lingga and Bintan, together with Johor, Patani, Kedah, and Perak, on the coasts of the peninsula, and Campar and Aru in Sumatra; all of which acquired the appellative of Malayo, although it was now more especially applied to the people of Malaka, or, as it is commonly written, Malacca. He left the peaceful possession of his dominions to his son Sultan Abu Shahid, who had reigned only one year and five months when he was murdered in 1334 by the king of Arrakan, with whose family his father had contracted a marriage. His successor was Sultan Modafar or Mozafar Shah, who was distinguished for the wisdom of his government, of which he left a memorial in a Book of Institutes or Laws of Malaka, held to this day in high estimation. This city was now regarded as the third in rank (after Maja-pahit on Java, and Pase on Sumatra) in that part of the East.

(*Footnote. The account given by Juan de Barros of the abandonment of the Malayan city of Singapura and foundation of Malacca differs materially from the above; and although the authority of a writer, who collected his materials in Lisbon, cannot be put in competition with that of Valentyn, who passed a long and laborious life amongst the people, and quotes the native historians, I shall give an abstract of his relation, from the sixth book of the second Decade. "At the period when Cingapura flourished its king was named Sangesinga; and in the neighbouring island of Java reigned Pararisa, upon whose death the latter country became subject to the tyranny of his brother, who put one of his nephews to death, and forced many of the nobles, who took part against him, to seek refuge abroad. Among these was one named Paramisora, whom Sangesinga received with hospitality that was badly requited, for the stranger soon found means to put him to death, and, by the assistance of the Javans who accompanied him in his flight, to take possession of the city. The king of Siam, whose son-in-law and vassal the deceased was, assembled a large force by sea and land, and compelled the usurper to evacuate Cingapura with two thousand followers, a part of whom were Cellates (orang sellat men of the Straits) accustomed to live by fishing and piracy, who had assisted him in seizing and keeping the throne during five years. They disembarked at a place called Muar, a hundred and fifty leagues from thence, where Paramisora and his own people fortified themselves. The Cellates, whom he did not choose to trust, proceeded five leagues farther, and occupied a bank of the river where the fortress of Malacca now stands. Here they united with the half-savage natives, who like themselves spoke the Malayan language, and, the spot they had chosen becoming too confined for their increasing numbers, they moved a league higher up, to one more convenient, and were at length joined by their former chief and his companions. During the government of his son, named Xaquen Darxa (a strange Portuguese corruption of Iskander or Sekander Shah) they again descended the river, in order to enjoy the advantages of a sea-port, and built a town, which, from the fortunes of his father, was named Malacca, signifying an exile." Every person conversant with the language must know that the word does not bear that nor any similar meaning, and an error so palpable throws discredit on the whole narrative.)

About the year 1340 the king of Siam, being jealous of the growing power of Malaka, invaded the country, and in a second expedition laid siege to the capital; but his armies were defeated by the general of Modafar, named Sri Nara Dirija. After these events Modafar reigned some years with much reputation, and died in 1374. His son, originally named Sultan Abdul, took the title of Sultan Mansur Shah upon his accession. At the time that the king of Maja-pahit drove the Malays from Singapura, as above related, he likewise subdued the country of Indragiri in Sumatra; but upon the occasion of Mansur Shah's marriage (about the year 1380) with the daughter of the then reigning king, a princess of great celebrity, named Radin Gala Chendra Kiran, it was assigned to him as her portion, and has since continued (according to Valentyn) under the dominion of the princes of Malaka. Mansur appears to have been engaged in continual wars, and to have obtained successes against Pahang, Pase, and Makasar. His reign extended to the almost incredible period of seventy-three years, being succeeded in 1447 by his son Sultan Ala-wa-eddin. During his reign of thirty years nothing particular is recorded; but there is reason to believe that his country during some part of that time was under the power of the Siamese. Sultan Mahmud Shah, who succeeded him, was the twelfth Malayan king, and the seventh and last king of Malaka.


In 1509 he repelled the aggression of the king of Siam; but in 1511 was conquered by the Portuguese under Alfonso d'Alboquerque, and forced, with the principal inhabitants, to fly to the neighbourhood of the first Malayan establishment at the extremity of the peninsula, where he founded the city of Johor, which still subsists, but has never attained to any considerable importance, owing as it may be presumed to the European influence that has ever since, under the Portuguese, Hollanders, and English, predominated in that quarter.*

(*Footnote. It was subdued by the Portuguese in 1608. In 1641 Malacca was taken from them by the Hollanders, who held it till the present war, which has thrown it into the possession of the English. The interior boundaries of its territory, according to the Transactions of the Batavian Society, are the mountains of Rombou, inhabited by a Malayan people named Maning Cabou, and Mount Ophir, called by the natives Gunong-Ledang. These limits, say they, it is impracticable for a European to pass, the whole coast, for some leagues from the sea, being either a morass or impenetrable forest; and these natural difficulties are aggravated by the treacherous and bloodthirsty character of the natives. The description, which will be found in Volume 4 pages 333 to 334, is evidently overcharged. In speaking of Johor the original emigration of a Malayan colony from Sumatra to the mouth of that river, which gave its name to the whole coast, is briefly mentioned.)


With respect to the religion professed by the Malayan princes at the time of their migration from Sumatra, and for about 116 years after, little can be known, because the writers, whose works have reached us, lived since the period of conversion, and as good Mahometans would have thought it profane to enter into the detail of superstitions which they regard with abhorrence; but from the internal evidence we can entertain little doubt of its having been the religion of Brahma, much corrupted however and blended with the antecedent rude idolatry of the country, such as we now find it amongst the Battas. Their proper names or titles are obviously Hindu, with occasional mixture of Persian, and their mountain of Maha-meru, elsewhere so well known as the seat of Indra and the dewas, sufficiently points out the mythology adopted in the country. I am not aware that at the present day there is any mountain in Sumatra called by that name; but it is reasonable to presume that appellations decidedly connected with Paganism may have been changed by the zealous propagators of the new faith, and I am much inclined to believe that by the Maha-meru of the Malays is to be understood the mountain of Sungei-pagu in the Menangkabau country, from whence issue rivers that flow to both sides of the island. In the neighbourhood of this reside the chiefs of the four great tribes, called ampat suku or four quarters, one of which is named Malayo (the others, Kampi, Pani, and Tiga-lara); and it is probable that to it belonged the adventurers who undertook the expedition to Ujong Tanah, and perpetuated the name of their particular race in the rising fortunes of the new colony. From what circumstances they were led to collect their vessels for embarkation at Palembang rather than at Indragiri or Siak, so much more convenient in point of local position, cannot now be ascertained.

Having proposed some queries upon this subject to the late Mr. Francis Light, who first settled the island of Pinang or Prince of Wales island, in the Straits of Malacca, granted to him by the king of Kedah as the marriage portion of his daughter, he furnished me in answer with the following notices. "The origin of the Malays, like that of other people, is involved in fable; every raja is descended from some demigod, and the people sprung from the ocean. According to their traditions however their first city of Singapura, near the present Johor, was peopled from Palembang, from whence they proceeded to settle at Malacca (naming their city from the fruit so called), and spread along the coast. The peninsula is at present inhabited by distinct races of people. The Siamese possess the northern part to latitude 7 degrees, extending from the east to the west side. The Malays possess the whole of the sea-coast on both sides, from that latitude to Point Romania; being mixed in some places with the Bugis from Celebes, who have still a small settlement at Salmigor. The inland parts to the northward are inhabited by the Patani people, who appear to be a mixture of Siamese and Malays, and occupy independent dusuns or villages. Among the forests and in the mountains are a race of Caffres, in every respect resembling those of Africa excepting in stature, which does not exceed four feet eight inches. The Menangkabau people of the peninsula are so named from an inland country in Pulo Percha (Sumatra). A distinction is made between them and the Malays of Johor, but none is perceptible."

To these authorities I shall add that of Mr. Thomas Raffles, at this time Secretary to the government of Pulo Pinang, a gentleman whose intelligence and zeal in the pursuit of knowledge give the strongest hope of his becoming an ornament to oriental literature. To his correspondence I am indebted for much useful information in the line of my researches, and the following passages corroborate the opinions I had formed. "With respect to the Menangkabaus, after a good deal of inquiry, I have not yet been able decidedly to ascertain the relation between those of that name in the peninsula and the Menangkabaus of Pulo Percha. The Malays affirm without hesitation that they all came originally from the latter island." In a recent communication he adds, "I am more confident than ever that the Menangkabaus of the peninsula derive their origin from the country of that name in Sumatra. Inland of Malacca about sixty miles is situated the Malay kingdom of Rumbo, whose sultan and all the principal officers of state hold their authority immediately from Menangkabau, and have written commissions for their respective offices. This shows the extent of that ancient power even now, reduced as it must be, in common with that of the Malay people in general. I had many opportunities of communicating with the natives of Rumbo, and they have clearly a peculiar dialect, resembling exactly what you mention of substituting the final o for a, as in the word ambo for amba. In fact, the dialect is called by the Malacca people the language of Menangkabau."


Returning from this discussion I shall resume the consideration of what is termed the Sumatran empire of Menangkabau, believed by the natives of all descriptions to have subsisted from the remotest times. With its annals, either ancient or modern, we are little acquainted, and the existence of any historical records in the country has generally been doubted; yet, as those of Malacca and of Achin have been preserved, it is not hastily to be concluded that these people, who are the equals of the former, and much superior to the latter in point of literature, are destitute of theirs, although they have not reached our hands. It is known that they deduce their origin from two brothers, named Pera­pati-si-batang and Kei Tamanggungan, who are described as being among the forty companions of Noah in the ark, and whose landing at Palembang, or at a small island near it, named Langkapura, is attended with the circumstance of the dry land being first discovered by the resting upon it of a bird that flew from the vessel. From thence they proceeded to the mountain named Siguntang-guntang, and afterwards to Priangan in the neighbourhood of the great volcano, which at this day is spoken of as the ancient capital of Menangkabau. Unfortunately I possess only an imperfect abstract of this narrative, obviously intended for an introduction to the genealogy of its kings, but, even as a fable, extremely confused and unsatisfactory; and when the writer brings it down to what may be considered as the historical period he abruptly leaves off, with a declaration that the offer of a sum of money (which was unquestionably his object) should not tempt him to proceed.


At a period not very remote its limits were included between the river of Palembang and that of Siak, on the eastern side of the island, and on the western side between those of Manjuta (near Indrapura) and Singkel, where (as well as at Siak) it borders on the independent country of the Battas. The present seat, or more properly seats, of the divided government lie at the back of a mountainous district named the Tiga-blas koto (signifying the thirteen fortified and confederated towns) inland of the settlement of Padang. The country is described as a large plain surrounded by hills producing much gold, clear of woods, and comparatively well cultivated. Although nearer to the western coast its communications with the eastern side are much facilitated by water-carriage.


Advantage is taken in the first place of a large lake, called Laut-danau, situated at the foot of the range of high mountains named gunong Besi, inland of the country of Priaman, the length of which is described by some as being equal to a day's sailing, and by others as no more than twenty-five or thirty miles, abounding with fish (especially of two species, known by the names of sasau and bili), and free from alligators.


From this, according to the authority of a map drawn by a native, issues a river called Ayer Ambelan, which afterwards takes the name of Indragiri, along which, as well as the two other great rivers of Siak to the northward, and Jambi to the southward, the navigation is frequent, the banks of all of them being peopled with Malayan colonies. Between Menangkabau and Palembang the intercourse must, on account of the distance, be very rare, and the assertion that in the intermediate country there exists another great lake, which sends its streams to both sides of the island, appears not only to be without foundation in fact, but also at variance with the usual operations of nature; as I believe it may be safely maintained that, however numerous the streams which furnish the water of a lake, it can have only one outlet; excepting, perhaps, in flat countries, where the course of the waters has scarcely any determination, or under such a nice balance of physical circumstances as is not likely to occur.


When the island was first visited by European navigators this state must have been in its decline, as appears from the political importance at that period of the kings of Achin, Pedir, and Pase, who, whilst they acknowledged their authority to be derived from him as their lord paramount, and some of them paid him a trifling complimentary tribute, acted as independent sovereigns. Subsequently to this an Achinese monarch, under the sanction of a real or pretended grant, obtained from one of the sultans, who, having married his daughter, treated her with nuptial slight, and occasioned her to implore her father's interference, extended his dominion along the western coast, and established his panglimas or governors in many places within the territory of Menangkabau, particularly at Priaman, near the great volcano-mountain. This grant is said to have been extorted not by the force of arms but by an appeal to the decision of some high court of justice similar to that of the imperial chamber in Germany, and to have included all the low or strand-countries (pasisir barat) as far southward as Bengkaulu or Silebar. About the year 1613 however he claimed no farther than Padang, and his actual possessions reached only to Barus.*

(*Footnote. The following instances occur of mention made by writers at different periods of the kingdom of Menangkabau. ODOARDUS BARBOSA, 1519. "Sumatra, a most large and beautiful island; Pedir, the principal city on the northern side, where are also Pacem and Achem. Campar is opposite to Malacca. Monancabo, to the southward, is the principal source of gold, as well from mines as collected in the banks of the rivers." DE BARROS, 1553. "Malacca had the epithet of aurea given to it on account of the abundance of gold brought from Monancabo and Barros, countries in the island of Camatra, where it is procured." DIOGO de COUTO, 1600. "He gives an account of a Portuguese ship wrecked on the coast of Sumatra, near to the country of Manancabo, in 1560. Six hundred persons got on shore, among whom were some women, one of them, Dona Francisca Sardinha, was of such remarkable beauty that the people of the country resolved to carry her off for their king; and they effected it, after a struggle in which sixty of the Europeans lost their lives. At this period there was a great intercourse between Manancabo and Malacca, many vessels going yearly with gold to purchase cotton goods and other merchandise. In ancient times the country was so rich in this metal that several hundredweight (seis, sete, e mais candiz, de que trez fazem hum moyo) were exported in one season. Volume 3 page 178. LINSCHOTEN, 1601. "At Menancabo excellent poniards made, called creeses; best weapons of all the orient. Islands along the coast of Sumatra, called islands of Menancabo." ARGENSOLA, 1609. "A vessel loaded with creeses manufactured at Menancabo and a great quantity of artillery; a species of warlike machine known and fabricated in Sumatra many years before they were introduced by Europeans." LANCASTER, 1602. "Menangcabo lies eight or ten leagues inland of Priaman." BEST, 1613. " A man arrived from Menangcaboo at Ticoo, and brought news from Jambee." BEAULIEU, 1622. "Du cote du ponant apres Padang suit le royaume de Manimcabo; puis celuy d'Andripoura-Il y a (a Jambi) grand trafic d'or, qu'ils ont avec ceux de Manimcabo." Vies des Gouverneurs Gen. Hollandois, 1763. Il est bon de remarquer ici que presque toute la cote occidentale avoit ete reduite par la flotte du Sieur Pierre de Bitter en 1664. L'annee suivante, les habitans de Pauw massacrerent le Commissaire Gruis, etc.; mais apres avoir venge ce meurtre, et dissipe les revoltes en 1666, les Hollandois etoient restes les maitres de toute cette etendue de cotes entre Sillebar et Baros, ou ils etablirent divers comptoirs, dont celui de Padang est le principal depuis 1667. Le commandant, qui y reside, est en meme temps Stadhouder (Lieutenant) de l'Empereur de Maningcabo, a qui la Compagnie a cede, sous diverses restrictions & limitations, la souverainete sur tous les peuples qui babitent le long du rivage" etc.)


In consequence of disturbances that ensued upon the death of a sultan Alif in the year 1680, without direct heirs, the government became divided amongst three chiefs, presumed to have been of the royal family and at the same time great officers of state, who resided at places named Suruwasa, Pagar-ruyong, and Sungei-trap; and in that state it continues to the present time. Upon the capture of Padang by the English in 1781 deputations arrived from two of these chiefs with congratulations upon the success of our arms; which will be repeated with equal sincerity to those who may chance to succeed us. The influence of the Dutch (and it would have been the same with any other European power) has certainly contributed to undermine the political consequence of Menangkabau by giving countenance and support to its disobedient vassals, who in their turn have often experienced the dangerous effects of receiving favours from too powerful an ally. Pasaman, a populous country, and rich in gold, cassia, and camphor, one of its nearest provinces, and governed by a panglima from thence, now disclaims all manner of dependence. Its sovereignty is divided between the two rajas of Sabluan and Kanali, who, in imitation of their former masters, boast an origin of high antiquity. One of them preserves as his sacred relic the bark of a tree in which his ancestor was nursed in the woods before the Pasaman people had reached their present polished state. The other, to be on a level with him, possesses the beard of a reverend predecessor (perhaps an anchorite), which was so bushy that a large bird had built its nest in it. Raja Kanali supported a long war with the Hollanders, attended with many reverses of fortune.

Whether the three sultans maintain a struggle of hostile rivalship, or act with an appearance of concert, as holding the nominal sovereignty under a species of joint-regency, I am not informed, but each of them in the preamble of his letters assumes all the royal titles, without any allusion to competitors; and although their power and resources are not much beyond those of a common raja they do not fail to assert all the ancient rights and prerogatives of the empire, which are not disputed so long as they are not attempted to be carried into force. Pompous dictatorial edicts are issued and received by the neighbouring states (including the European chiefs of Padang), with demonstration of profound respect, but no farther obeyed than may happen to consist with the political interests of the parties to whom they are addressed. Their authority in short resembles not a little that of the sovereign pontiffs of Rome during the latter centuries, founded as it is in the superstition of remote ages; holding terrors over the weak, and contemned by the stronger powers. The district of Suruwasa, containing the site of the old capital, or Menangkabau proper, seems to have been considered by the Dutch as entitled to a degree of pre-eminence; but I have not been able to discover any marks of superiority or inferiority amongst them. In distant parts the schism is either unknown, or the three who exercise the royal functions are regarded as co-existing members of the same family, and their government, in the abstract, however insignificant in itself, is there an object of veneration. Indeed to such an unaccountable excess is this carried that every relative of the sacred family, and many who have no pretensions to it assume that character, are treated wherever they appear, not only with the most profound respect by the chiefs who go out to meet them, fire salutes on their entering the dusuns, and allow them to level contributions for their maintenance; but by the country people with such a degree of superstitious awe that they submit to be insulted, plundered, and even wounded by them, without making resistance, which they would esteem a dangerous profanation. Their appropriate title (not uncommon in other Malayan countries) is Iang de per-tuan, literally signifying he who ruleth.

A person of this description, who called himself Sri Ahmed Shah, heir to the empire of Menangkabau, in consequence of some differences with the Dutch, came and settled amongst the English at Bencoolen in the year 1687, on his return from a journey to the southward as far as Lampong, and being much respected by the people of the country gained the entire confidence of Mr. Bloom, the governor. He subdued some of the neighbouring chiefs who were disaffected to the English, particularly Raja mudo of Sungei-lamo, and also a Jennang or deputy from the king of Bantam; he coined money, established a market, and wrote a letter to the East India Company promising to put them in possession of the trade of the whole island. But shortly afterwards a discovery was made of his having formed a design to cut off the settlement, and he was in consequence driven from the place. The records mention at a subsequent period that the sultan of Indrapura was raising troops to oppose him.*

(*Footnote. The following anecdote of one of these personages was communicated to me by my friend, the late Mr. Crisp. "Some years ago, when I was resident of Manna, there was a man who had long worked in the place as a coolie when someone arrived from the northward, who happened to discover that he was an Iang de per-tuan or relation of the imperial family. Immediately all the bazaar united to raise him to honour and independence; he was never suffered to walk without a high umbrella carried over him, was followed by numerous attendants, and addressed by the title of tuanku, equivalent to your highness. After this he became an intriguing, troublesome fellow in the Residency, and occasioned much annoyance. The prejudice in favour of these people is said to extend over all the islands to the eastward where the Malay tongue is spoken.")


The titles and epithets assumed by the sultans are the most extravagantly absurd that it is possible to imagine. Many of them descend to mere childishness; and it is difficult to conceive how any people, so far advanced in civilization as to be able to write, could display such evidences of barbarism. A specimen of a warrant of recent date, addressed to Tuanku Sungei-Pagu, a high-priest residing near Bencoolen, is as follows:

Three circular Seals with inscriptions in Arabic characters.

(Eldest brother) Sultan of Rum. Key Dummul Alum. Maharaja Alif.

(Second brother) Sultan of China. Nour Alum. Maharaja Dempang or Dipang.

(Youngest brother) Sultan of Menangkabau. Aour Alum. Maharaja Dirja or Durja.


The sultan of Menangkabau, whose residence is at Pagar-ruyong, who is king of kings; a descendant of raja Iskander zu'lkarnaini; possessed of the crown brought from heaven by the prophet Adam; of a third part of the wood kamat, one extremity of which is in the kingdom of Rum and another in that of China; of the lance named lambing lambura ornamented with the beard of janggi; of the palace in the city of Rum, whose entertainments and diversions are exhibited in the month of zul'hijah, and where all alims, fakiahs, and mulanakaris praise and supplicate Allah; possessor of the gold-mine named kudarat-kudarati, which yields pure gold of twelve carats, and of the gold named jati-jati which snaps the dalik wood; of the sword named churak-simandang-giri, which received one hundred and ninety gaps in conflict with the fiend Si Kati­muno, whom it slew; of the kris formed of the soul of steel, which expresses an unwillingness at being sheathed and shows itself pleased when drawn; of a date coeval with the creation; master of fresh water in the ocean, to the extent of a day's sailing; of a lance formed of a twig of iju ; the sultan who receives his taxes in gold by the lessong measure; whose betel-stand is of gold set with diamonds; who is possessor of the web named sangsista kala, which weaves itself and adds one thread yearly, adorned with pearls, and when that web shall be completed the world will be no more; of horses of the race of sorimborani, superior to all others; of the mountain Si guntang-guntang, which divides Palembang and Jambi, and of the burning mountain; of the elephant named Hasti Dewah; who is vicegerent of heaven; sultan of the golden river; lord of the air and clouds; master of a ballei whose pillars are of the shrub jalatang; of gandarangs (drums) made of the hollow stems of the diminutive plants pulut and silosuri; of the anchor named paduka jati employed to recover the crown which fell into the deep sea of Kulzum; of the gong that resounds to the skies; of the buffalo named Si Binuwang Sati, whose horns are ten feet asunder; of the unconquered cock, Sen­gunani; of the coconut-tree which, from its amazing height and being infested with serpents and other noxious reptiles, it is impossible to climb; of the blue champaka flower, not to be found in any other country than his (being yellow elsewhere); of the flowering shrub named Sri­menjeri, of ambrosial scent; of the mountain on which the celestial spirits dwell; who when he goes to rest wakes not until the gandarang nobat sounds; He the sultan Sri Maharaja Durja furthermore declares, etc.*

(*Footnote. The following Letter from the sultan of Menangkabau to the father of the present sultan of Moco-moco, and apparently written about fifty years ago, was communicated to me by Mr. Alexander Dalrymple, and though it is in part a repetition I esteem it too curious to hesitate about inserting it. The style is much more rational than that of the foregoing. "Praised be Almighty God! Sultan Gagar Alum the great and noble King, whose extensive power reacheth unto the limits of the wide ocean; unto whom God grants whatever he desires, and over whom no evil spirit, nor even Satan himself has any influence; who is invested with an authority to punish evil-doers; and has the most tender heart in the support of the innocent; has no malice in his mind, but preserveth the righteous with the greatest reverence, and nourisheth the poor and needy, feeding them daily from his own table. His authority reacheth over the whole universe, and his candour and goodness is known to all men. (Mention made of the three brothers.) The ambassador of God and his prophet Mahomet; the beloved of mankind; and ruler of the island called Percho. At the time God made the heavens, the earth, the sun, the moon, and even before evil spirits were created, this sultan Gagar Alum had his residence in the clouds; but when the world was habitable God gave him a bird called Hocinet, that had the gift of speech; this he sent down on earth to look out for a spot where he might establish an inheritance, and the first place he alighted upon was the fertile island of Lankapura, situated between Palembang and Jambi, and from thence sprang the famous kingdom of Manancabow, which will be renowned and mighty until the Judgment Day.

"This Maha Raja Durja is blessed with a long life and an uninterrupted course of prosperity, which he will maintain in the name, and through the grace of the holy prophet, to the end that God's divine Will may be fulfilled upon earth. He is endowed with the highest abilities, and the most profound wisdom and circumspection in governing the many tributary kings and subjects. He is righteous and charitable, and preserveth the honour and glory of his ancestors. His justice and clemency are felt in distant regions, and his name will be revered until the last day. When he openeth his mouth he is full of goodness, and his words are as grateful as rosewater to the thirsty. His breath is like the soft winds of the heavens, and his lips are the instruments of truth; sending forth perfumes more delightful than benjamin or myrrh. His nostrils breathe ambergris and musk; and his countenance has the lustre of diamonds. He is dreadful in battle, and not to be conquered, his courage and valour being matchless. He, the sultan Maha Raja Durja, was crowned with a sacred crown from God; and possesses the wood called Kamat, in conjunction with the emperors of Rome and China. (Here follows an account of his possessions nearly corresponding to those above recited.)

"After this salutation, and the information I have given of my greatness and power, which I attribute to the good and holy prophet Mahomet, I am to acquaint you with the commands of the sultan whose presence bringeth death to all who attempt to approach him without permission; and also those of the sultan of Indrapura who has four breasts. This friendly sheet of paper is brought from the two sultans above named, by their bird anggas, unto their son, sultan Gandam Shah, to acquaint him with their intention under this great seal, which is that they order their son sultan Gandam Shah to oblige the English Company to settle in the district called Biangnur, at a place called the field of sheep, that they may not have occasion to be ashamed at their frequent refusal of our goodness in permitting them to trade with us and with our subjects; and that in case he cannot succeed in this affair we hereby advise him that the ties of friendship subsisting between us and our son is broken; and we direct that he send us an answer immediately, that we may know the result--for all this island is our own." It is difficult to determine whether the preamble, or the purport of the letter be the more extraordinary.)

Probably no records upon earth can furnish an example of more unintelligible jargon; yet these attributes are believed to be indisputably true by the Malays and others residing at a distance from his immediate dominions, who possess a greater degree of faith than wit; and with this addition, that he dwells in a palace without covering, free from inconvenience. It is at the same time but justice to these people to observe that, in the ordinary concerns of life, their writings are as sober, consistent, and rational as those of their neighbours.


The seals prefixed to the warrant are, beside his own and that of the emperor of China, whose consequence is well known to the inhabitants of the eastern islands, that of the sultan of Rum, by which is understood in modern times, Constantinople, the seat of the emperor of the Turks, who is looked up to by Mahometans, since the ruin of the khalifat, as the head of their religion; but I have reason to think that the appellation of Rumi was at an earlier period given by oriental writers to the subjects of the great Turkoman empire of the Seljuks, whose capital was Iconium or Kuniyah in Asia minor, of which the Ottoman was a branch. This personage he honours with the title of his eldest brother, the descendant of Iskander the two-horned, by which epithet the Macedonian hero is always distinguished in eastern story, in consequence, as may be presumed, of the horned figure on his coins,* which must long have circulated in Persia and Arabia. Upon the obscure history of these supposed brothers some light is thrown by the following legend communicated to me as the belief of the people of Johor. "It is related that Iskander dived into the sea, and there married a daughter of the king of the ocean, by whom he had three sons, who, when they arrived at manhood, were sent by their mother to the residence of their father. He gave them a makuta or crown, and ordered them to find kingdoms where they should establish themselves. Arriving in the straits of Singapura they determined to try whose head the crown fitted. The eldest trying first could not lift it to his head. The second the same. The third had nearly effected it when it fell from his hand into the sea. After this the eldest turned to the west and became king of Rome, the second to the east and became king of China. The third remained at Johor. At this time Pulo Percha (Sumatra) had not risen from the waters. When it began to appear, this king of Johor, being on a fishing party, and observing it oppressed by a huge snake named Si Kati-muno, attacked the monster with his sword called Simandang-giri, and killed it, but not till the sword had received one hundred and ninety notches in the encounter. The island being thus allowed to rise, he went and settled by the burning mountain, and his descendants became kings of Menangkabau." This has much the air of a tale invented by the people of the peninsula to exalt the idea of their own antiquity at the expense of their Sumatran neighbours. The blue champaka-flower of which the sultan boasts possession I conceive to be an imaginary and not an existent plant. The late respected Sir W. Jones, in his Botanical Observations printed in the Asiatic Researches Volume 4 suspects that by it must be meant the Kaempferia bhuchampac, a plant entirely different from the michelia; but as this supposition is built on a mere resemblance of sounds it is necessary to state that the Malayan term is champaka biru, and that nothing can be inferred from the accidental coincidence of the Sanskrit word bhu, signifying ground, with the English term for the blue colour.

(*Footnote. See a beautiful engraving of one of these coins preserved in the Bodleian collection, Oxford, prefixed to Dr. Vincent's Translation of the Voyage of Nearchus printed in 1809.)


With the ceremonies of the court we are very imperfectly acquainted. The royal salute is one gun; which may be considered as a refinement in ceremony; for as no additional number could be supposed to convey an adequate idea of respect, but must on the contrary establish a definite proportion between his dignity and that of his nobles, or of other princes, the sultan chooses to leave the measure of his importance indefinite by this policy and save his gunpowder. It must be observed that the Malays are in general extremely fond of the parade of firing guns, which they never neglect on high days, and on the appearance of the new moon, particularly that which marks the commencement and the conclusion of their puasa or annual fast. Yellow being esteemed, as in China, the royal colour, is said to be constantly and exclusively worn by the sultan and his household. His usual present on sending an embassy (for no Sumatran or other oriental has an idea of making a formal address on any occasion without a present in hand, be it never so trifling), is a pair of white horses; being emblematic of the purity of his character and intentions.


The immediate subjects of this empire, properly denominated Malays, are all of the Mahometan religion, and in that respect distinguished from the generality of inland inhabitants. How it has happened that the most central people of the island should have become the most perfectly converted is difficult to account for unless we suppose that its political importance and the richness of its gold trade might have drawn thither its pious instructors, from temporal as well as spiritual motives. Be this as it may, the country of Menangkabau is regarded as the supreme seat of civil and religious authority in this part of the East, and next to a voyage to Mecca to have visited its metropolis stamps a man learned, and confers the character of superior sanctity. Accordingly the most eminent of those who bear the titles of imam, mulana, khatib, and pandita either proceed from thence or repair thither for their degree, and bring away with them a certificate or diploma from the sultan or his minister.

In attempting to ascertain the period of this conversion much accuracy is not to be expected; the natives are either ignorant on the subject or have not communicated their knowledge, and we can only approximate the truth by comparing the authorities of different old writers. Marco Polo, the Venetian traveller who visited Sumatra under the name of Java minor (see above) says that the inhabitants of the seashore were addicted to the Mahometan law, which they had learned from Saracon merchants. This must have been about the year 1290, when, in his voyage from China, he was detained for several months at a port in the Straits, waiting the change of the monsoon; and though I am scrupulous of insisting upon his authority (questioned as it is), yet in a fact of this nature he could scarcely be mistaken, and the assertion corresponds with the annals of the princes of Malacca, which state, as we have seen above, that sultan Muhammed Shah, who reigned from 1276 to 1333, was the first royal convert. Juan De Barros, a Portuguese historian of great industry, says that, according to the tradition of the inhabitants, the city of Malacca was founded about the year 1260, and that about 1400 the Mahometan faith had spread considerably there and extended itself to the neighbouring islands. Diogo do Couto, another celebrated historian, who prosecuted his inquiries in India, mentions the arrival at Malacca of an Arabian priest who converted its monarch to the faith of the khalifs, and gave him the name of Shah Muhammed in the year 1384. This date however is evidently incorrect, as that king's reign was earlier by fifty years. Corneille le Brun was informed by the king of Bantam in 1706 that the people of Java were made converts to that sect about three hundred years before. Valentyn states that Sheik Mulana, by whom this conversion was effected in 1406, had already disseminated his doctrine at Ache, Pase (places in Sumatra), and Johor. From these several sources of information, which are sufficiently distinct from each other, we may draw this conclusion, that the religion, which sprang up in Arabia in the seventh century, had not made any considerable progress in the interior of Sumatra earlier than the fourteenth, and that the period of its introduction, considering the vicinity to Malacca, could not be much later. I have been told indeed, but cannot vouch for its authenticity, that in 1782 these people counted 670 years from the first preaching of their religion, which would carry the period back to 1112. It may be added that in the island of Ternate the first Mahometan prince reigned from 1466 to 1486; that Francis Xavier, a celebrated Jesuit missionary, when he was at Amboina in 1546 observed the people then beginning to learn to write from the Arabians; that the Malays were allowed to build a mosque at Goak in Makasar subsequently to the arrival of the Portuguese in 1512; and that in 1603 the whole kingdom had become Mahometan. These islands, lying far to the eastward, and being of less considerable account in that age than subsequent transactions have rendered them, the zeal of religious adventurers did not happen to be directed thither so soon as to the countries bordering on the sea of India.

By some it has been asserted that the first sultan of Menangkabau was a Xerif from Mecca, or descendant of the khalifs, named Paduka Sri Sultan Ibrahim, who, settling in Sumatra, was received with honour by the princes of the country, Perapati-si-batang and his brother, and acquired sovereign authority. They add that the sultans who now reside at Pagar-ruyong and at Suruwasa are lineally descended from that Xerif, whilst he who resides at Sungei Trap, styled Datu Bandhara putih, derives his origin from Perapati. But to this supposition there are strong objections. The idea so generally entertained by the natives, and strengthened by the glimmering lights that the old writers afford us, bespeaks an antiquity to this empire that stretches far beyond the probable era of the establishment of the Mahometan religion in the island. Radin Tamanggung, son of a king of Madura, a very intelligent person, and who as a prince himself was conversant with these topics, positively asserted to me that it was an original Sumatran empire, antecedent to the introduction of the Arabian faith; instructed, but by no means conquered, as some had imagined, by people from the peninsula. So memorable an event as the elevation of a Xerif to the throne would have been long preserved by annals or tradition, and the sultan in the list of his titles would not fail to boast of this sacred extraction from the prophet, to which however he does not at all allude; and to this we may add that the superstitious veneration attached to the family extends itself not only where Mahometanism has made a progress, but also among the Battas and other people still unconverted to that faith, with whom it would not be the case if the claim to such respect was grounded on the introduction of a foreign religion which they have refused to accept.

Perhaps it is less surprising that this one kingdom should have been completely converted than that so many districts of the island should remain to this day without any religion whatever. It is observable that a person of this latter description, coming to reside among the Malays, soon assimilates to them in manners, and conforms to their religious practices. The love of novelty, the vanity of learning, the fascination of ceremony, the contagion of example, veneration for what appears above his immediate comprehension, and the innate activity of man's intellectual faculties, which, spurred by curiosity, prompts him to the acquisition of knowledge, whether true or false--all conspire to make him embrace a system of belief and scheme of instruction in which there is nothing that militates against prejudices already imbibed. He relinquishes no favourite ancient worship to adopt a new, and is manifestly a gainer by the exchange, when he barters, for a paradise and eternal pleasures, so small a consideration as the flesh of his foreskin.


The Malays, as far as my observation went, did not appear to possess much of the bigotry so commonly found amongst the western Mahometans, or to show antipathy to or contempt for unbelievers. To this indifference is to be attributed my not having positively ascertained whether they are followers of the sunni or the shiah sect, although from their tolerant principles and frequent passages in their writings in praise of Ali I conclude them to be the latter. Even in regard to the practice of ceremonies they do not imitate the punctuality of the Arabs and others of the mussulman faith. Excepting such as were in the orders of the priesthood I rarely noticed persons in the act of making their prostrations. Men of rank I am told have their religious periods, during which they scrupulously attend to their duties and refrain from gratifications of the appetite, together with gambling and cockfighting; but these are not long nor very frequent. Even their great Fast or puasa (the ramadan of the Turks) is only partially observed. All those who have a regard for character fast more or less according to the degree of their zeal or strength of their constitutions; some for a week, others for a fortnight; but to abstain from food and betel whilst the sun is above the horizon during the whole of a lunar month is a very rare instance of devotion.


Malayan literature consists chiefly of transcripts and versions of the koran, commentaries on the mussulman law, and historic tales both in prose and verse, resembling in some respect our old romances. Many of these are original compositions, and others are translations of the popular tales current in Arabia, Persia, India, and the neighbouring island of Java, where the Hindu languages and mythology appear to have made at a remote period considerable progress. Among several works of this description I possess their translation (but much compressed) of the Ramayan, a celebrated Sanskrit poem, and also of some of the Arabian stories lately published in France as a Continuation of the Thousand and one Nights, first made known to the European world by M. Galland. If doubts have been entertained of the authenticity of these additions to his immortal collection the circumstance of their being (however partially) discovered in the Malayan language will serve to remove them. Beside these they have a variety of poetic works, abounding rather with moral reflections and complaints of the frowns of fortune or of ill-requited love than with flights of fancy. The pantun or short proverbial stanza has been already described. They are composed in all parts of the island, and often extempore; but such as proceed from Menangkabau, the most favoured seat of the Muses, are held in the first esteem. Their writing is entirely in the modified Arabic character, and upon paper previously ruled by means of threads drawn tight and arranged in a peculiar manner.


The arts in general are carried among these people to a greater degree of perfection than by the other natives of Sumatra. The Malays are the sole fabricators of the exquisite gold and silver filigree, the manufacture of which has been particularly described.


In the country of Menangkabau they have from the earliest times manufactured arms for their own use and to supply the northern inhabitants of the island, who are the most warlike, and which trade they continue to this day, smelting, forging, and preparing, by a process of their own, the iron and steel for this purpose, although much is at the same time purchased from Europeans.*

(*Footnote. The principal iron mines are at a place called Padang Luar, where the ore is sold at the rate of half a fanam or forty-eighth part of a dollar for a man's load, and carried to another place in the Menangkabau country called Selimpuwong, where it is smelted and manufactured.)


The use of cannon in this and other parts of India is mentioned by the oldest Portuguese historians, and it must consequently have been known there before the discovery of the passage by the Cape of Good Hope. Their guns are those pieces called matchlocks, the improvement of springs and flints not being yet adopted by them; the barrels are well tempered and of the justest bore, as is evident from the excellence of their aim, which they always take by lowering, instead of raising the muzzle of the piece to the object. They are wrought by rolling a flatted bar of iron of proportionate dimensions spirally round a circular rod, and beating it till the parts of the former unite; which method seems preferable in point of strength to that of folding and soldering the bar longitudinally. The art of boring may well be supposed unknown to these people. Firelocks are called by them snapang, from the Dutch name. Gunpowder they make in great quantities, but either from the injudicious proportion of the ingredients in the composition, or the imperfect granulation, it is very defective in strength.


The tombak, lambing, and kujur or kunjur are names for weapons of the lance or spear kind; the pedang, rudus, pamandap, and kalewang are of the sword kind, and slung at the side, the siwar is a small instrument of the nature of a stiletto, chiefly used for assassination; and the kris is a species of dagger of a particular construction, very generally worn, being stuck in front through the folds of a belt that goes several times round the body.

PLATE 17. SUMATRAN WEAPONS. A. A Malay Gadoobang. B. A Batta Weapon. C. A Malay Creese.
One-third of the size of the Originals.
W. Williams del. and sculpt.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

PLATE 17a. SUMATRAN WEAPONS. D. A Malay Creese. E. An Achenese Creese. F. A Malay Sewar.
One-third of the size of the Originals.
W. Williams del. and sculpt.


The blade is about fourteen inches in length, not straight nor uniformly curved, but waving in and out, as we see depicted the flaming swords that guarded the gates of paradise; which probably may render a wound given with it the more fatal. It is not smooth or polished like those of our weapons, but by a peculiar process made to resemble a composition, in which veins of a different metal are apparent. This damasking (as I was informed by the late Mr. Boulton) is produced by beating together steel and iron wire whilst in a state of half fusion, and eating them with acids, by which the softest part is the most corroded; the edges being of pure steel. Their temper is uncommonly hard. The head or haft is either of ivory, the tooth of the duyong (sea-cow), that of the hippopotamus, the snout of the ikan layer (voilier), of black coral, or of fine-grained wood. This is ornamented with gold or a mixture of that and copper, which they call swasa, highly polished and carved into curious figures, some of which have the beak of a bird with the arms of a human creature, and bear a resemblance to the Egyptian Isis. The sheath also is formed of some beautiful species of wood, hollowed out, with a neat lacing of split rattan, stained red round the lower parts; or sometimes it is plated with gold. The value of a kris is supposed to be enhanced in proportion to the number of persons it has slain. One that has been the instrument of much bloodshed is regarded with a degree of veneration as something sacred. The horror or enthusiasm inspired by the contemplation of such actions is transferred to the weapon, which accordingly acquires sanctity from the principle that leads ignorant men to reverence whatever possesses the power of effecting mischief. Other circumstances also contribute to give them celebrity, and they are distinguished by pompous names. Some have a cushion by their bedside on which is placed their favourite weapon. I have a manuscript treatise on krises, accompanied with drawings, describing their imaginary properties and value, estimated at the price of one or more slaves. The abominable custom of poisoning them, though much talked of, is rarely practised I believe in modern times. They are frequently seen rubbing the blades with lime-juice, which has been considered as a precaution against danger of this kind, but it is rather for the purpose of removing common stains or of improving the damasked appearance.


Although much parade attends their preparations for war and their marches, displaying colours of scarlet cloth, and beating drums, gongs, and chennangs, yet their operations are carried on rather in the way of ambuscade and surprise of straggling parties than open combat, firing irregularly from behind entrenchments, which the enemy takes care not to approach too near.


They are said to go frequently to war on horseback, but I shall not venture to give their force the name of cavalry. The chiefs may probably avail themselves of the service of this useful animal from motives of personal indulgence or state, but on account of the ranjaus or sharp-pointed stakes so commonly planted in the passes (see the preceding journal of Lieutenant Dare's march, where they are particularly described), it is scarcely possible that horse could be employed as an effective part of an army. It is also to be observed that neither the natives nor even Europeans ever shoe them, the nature of the roads in general not rendering it necessary. The breed of them is small but well made, hardy, and vigorous. The soldiers serve without pay, but the plunder they obtain is thrown into a common stock, and divided amongst them. Whatever might formerly have been the degree of their prowess they are not now much celebrated for it; yet the Dutch at Padang have often found them troublesome enemies from their numbers, and been obliged to secure themselves within their walls. Between the Menangkabau people, those of Rau or Aru, and the Achinese, settled at Natal, wars used to be incessant until they were checked by the influence of our authority at that place. The factory itself was raised upon one of the breast-works thrown up by them for defence, of which several are to be met with in walking a few miles into the country, and some of them very substantial. Their campaigns in this petty warfare were carried on very deliberately. They made a regular practice of commencing a truce at sunset, when they remained in mutual security, and sometimes agreed that hostilities should take place only between certain hours of the day. The English resident, Mr. Carter, was frequently chosen their umpire, and upon these occasions used to fix in the ground his golden-headed cane, on the spot where the deputies should meet and concert terms of accommodation; until at length the parties, grown weary of their fruitless contests, resolved to place themselves respectively under the dependence and protection of the company. The fortified villages, in some parts of the country named dusun, and in others kampong, are here, as on the continent of India, denominated kota or forts, and the districts are distinguished from each other by the number of confederated villages they contain.


The government, like that of all Malayan states, is founded on principles entirely feudal. The prince is styled raja, maha-raja, iang de pertuan, or sultan; the nobles have the appellation of orang kaya or datu, which properly belongs to the chiefs of tribes, and implies their being at the head of a numerous train of immediate dependants or vassals, whose service they command. The heir-apparent has the title of raja muda.


From amongst the orang kayas the sultan appoints the officers of state, who as members of his council are called mantri, and differ in number and authority according to the situation and importance of the kingdom. Of these the first in rank, or prime minister, has the appellation of perdana mantri, mangko bumi, and not seldom, however anomalously, maharaja. Next to him generally is the bandhara, treasurer or high steward; then the laksamana and tamanggung, commanders-in-chief by sea and land, and lastly the shahbandara, whose office it is to superintend the business of the customs (in sea-port towns) and to manage the trade for the king. The governors of provinces are named panglima, the heads of departments pangulu. The ulubalang are military officers forming the bodyguard of the sovereign, and prepared on all occasions to execute his orders. From their fighting singly, when required, in the cause of the prince or noble who maintains them, the name is commonly translated champion; but when employed by a weak but arbitrary and cruel prince to remove by stealth obnoxious persons whom he dares not to attack openly they may be compared more properly to the Ismaelians or Assassins, so celebrated in the history of the Crusades, as the devoted subjects of the Sheikh al-jabal, or Old Man of the Mountain, as this chief of Persian Irak is vulgarly termed. I have not reason however to believe that such assassinations are by any means frequent. The immediate vassals of the king are called amba raja; and for the subjects in general the word rayet has been adopted. Beside those above named there is a great variety of officers of government of an inferior class; and even among the superior there is not at every period, nor in every Malayan state, a consistent uniformity of rank and title.


The smaller Malayan establishments are governed by their datus or heads of tribes, of whom there are generally four; as at Bencoolen (properly Bengkaulu) near to which the English settlement of Fort Marlborough is situated, and where Fort York formerly stood. These are under the protection or dominion of two native chiefs or princes, the pangerans of Sungei-lamo and Sungei-etam, the origin of whose authority has been already explained. Each of these has possessions on different parts of the river, the principal sway being in the hands of him of the two who has most personal ability. They are constant rivals, though living upon familiar terms, and are only restrained from open war by the authority of the English. Limun likewise, and the neighbouring places of Batang-asei and Pakalang-jambu, near the sources of Jambi River, where gold is collected and carried chiefly to Bencoolen and the settlement of Laye, where I had opportunities of seeing the traders, are each governed by four datus, who, though not immediately nominated by the sultan, are confirmed by, and pay tribute to, him. The first of these, whose situation is most southerly, receive also an investiture (baju, garment, and destar, turband) from the sultan of Palembang, being a politic measure adopted by these merchants for the convenience attending it in their occasional trading concerns with that place.


At Priangan, near Gunong-berapi, are several hot mineral springs, called in the Malayan map already mentioned, panchuran tujuh or the seven conduits, where the natives from time immemorial have been in the practice of bathing; some being appropriated to the men, and others to the women; with two of cold water, styled the king's. It will be recollected that in ancient times this place was the seat of government.


Near to these springs is a large stone or rock of very hard substance, one part of which is smoothed to a perpendicular face of about ten or twelve feet long and four high, on which are engraved characters supposed to be European, the space being entirely filled with them and certain chaps or marks at the corners. The natives presume them to be Dutch, but say that the latter do not resemble the present mark of the Company. There is some appearance of the date 1100. The informant (named Raja Intan), who had repeatedly seen and examined it, added that M. Palm, governor of Padang, once sent Malays with paper and paint to endeavour to take off the inscription, but they did not succeed; and the Dutch, whose arms never penetrated to that part of the country, are ignorant of its meaning. It is noticed in the Malayan map. Should it prove to be a Hindu monument it will be thought curious.




Among the earliest dismemberments of the Menangkabau empire was the establishment of Indrapura as an independent kingdom. Though now in its turn reduced to a state of little importance, it was formerly powerful in comparison with its neighbours, and of considerable magnitude, including Anak-Sungei and extending as far as Kattaun. Some idea of its antiquity may be formed from a historical account given by the Sultan of Bantam to the intelligent traveller Corneille le Brun, in which it is related that the son of the Arabian prince who first converted the Javans to the religion of the Prophet, about the year 1400, having obtained for himself the sovereignty of Bantam, under the title of pangeran, married the daughter of the raja of Indrapura, and received as her portion the country of the Sillabares, a people of Banca-houlou.


Upon this cession appears to be grounded the modern claim of the sultan to this part of the coast, which, previously to the treaty of Paris in 1763, was often urged by his sovereigns, the Dutch East India Company. His dominion is said indeed to have extended from the southward as far as Urei river, and at an early period to Betta or Ayer Etam, between Ipu and Moco-moco, but that the intermediate space was ceded by him to the raja of Indrapura, in satisfaction for the murder of a prince, and that a small annual tax was laid by the latter on the Anak­sungei people on account of the same murder (being the fourth part of a dollar, a bamboo of rice, and a fowl, from each village), which is now paid to the sultan of Moco-moco. In the year 1682 the district of Ayer Aji threw off its dependence on Indrapura. In 1696 Raja Pasisir Barat, under the influence of the Dutch, was placed on the throne, at the age of six years, and his grandfather appointed guardian; but in 1701, in consequence of a quarrel with his protectors, the European settlers were massacred.


This was the occasion of a destructive war, in the event of which the raja and his mantris were obliged to fly, and the country was nearly depopulated. In 1705 he was reinstated, and reigned till about 1732.


But the kingdom never recovered the shock it had received, and dwindled into obscurity. Its river, which descends from the mountains of Korinchi, is considered as one of the largest in the southern part of the west coast, and is capable of admitting sloops. The country formerly produced a large quantity of pepper, and some gold was brought down from the interior, which now finds another channel. An English factory was established there about the year 1684, but never became of any importance.


From the ruins of Indrapura has sprung the kingdom of Anak-sungei, extending along the sea-coast from Manjuta River to that of Urei. Its chief bears the title of sultan, and his capital, if such places deserve the appellation, is Moco-moco. A description of it will be found above. Although the government is Malayan, and the ministers of the sultan are termed mantri (a title borrowed from the Hindus) the greatest part of the country dependent on it is inhabited by the original dusun people, and accordingly their proper chiefs are styled proattin, who are obliged to attend their prince at stated periods, and to carry to him their contribution or tax. His power over them however is very limited.

The first monarch of this new kingdom was named sultan Gulemat, who in 1695 established himself at Manjuta, by the assistance of the English, in consequence of a revolution at Indrapura, by which the prince who had afforded them protection on their first settling was driven out through the intrigues, as they are termed, of the Dutch. It was a struggle, in short, between the rival Companies, whose assistance was courted by the different factions as it happened to suit their purpose, or who, becoming strong enough to consider themselves as principals, made the native chiefs the tools of their commercial ambition. In the year 1717 Gulemat was removed from the throne by an assembly of the chiefs styling themselves the mantris of Lima-kota and proattins of Anak-sungei, who set up a person named Raja Kechil-besar in his room, appointing at the same time, as his minister and successor, Raja Gandam Shah, by whom, upon his accession in 1728, the seat of government was removed from Manjuta to Moco-moco. He was father of sultan Pasisir Barat shah mualim shah, still reigning in the year 1780, but harassed by the frequent rebellions of his eldest son. The space of time occupied by the reigns of these two sovereigns is extraordinary when we consider that the former must have been at man's estate when he became minister or assessor in 1717. Nor is it less remarkable that the son of the deposed sultan Gulemat, called sultan Ala ed-din, was also living, at Tappanuli, about the year 1780, being then supposed ninety years of age. He was confined as a state prisoner at Madras during the government of Mr. Morse, and is mentioned by Captain Forrest (Voyage to the Mergui Archipelago, page 57) as uncle to the king of Achin, who reigned in 1784. The first English settlement at Moco-moco was formed in 1717.


Passamman was the most northern of the provinces immediately dependant on Menangkabau, and afterwards, together with Priaman and many other places on the coast, fell under the dominion of the kings of Achin. It is now divided into two petty kingdoms, each of which is governed by a raja and fourteen pangulus. Formerly it was a place of considerable trade, and, beside a great export of pepper, received much fine gold from the mountains of the Rau country, lying about three days' journey inland. The inhabitants of these are said to be Battas converted to Mahometanism and mixed with Malays. They are governed by datus. The peculiarity of dress remarked of the Korinchi people is also observable here, the men wearing drawers that reach just below the calf, having one leg of red and the other of white or blue cloth, and the baju or garment also party-coloured. The greater part of the gold they collect finds its way to Patapahan on the river of Siak, and from thence to the eastern side of the island and straits of Malacca. The Agam tribe adjoining to the Rau, and connecting to the southward with Menangkabau, differs little from Malays, and is likewise governed by datus.


The great river of Siak has its source in the mountains of the Menangkabau country, and empties itself nearly opposite to Malacca, with which place it formerly carried on a considerable trade. From the Dutch charts we had a general knowledge of its course as far as a place called Mandau or Mandol, as they write the name, and where they had a small establishment on account of its abounding with valuable ship­timber.


A recent survey executed by Mr. Francis Lynch, under the orders of the government of Pulo Pinang, has made us more particularly acquainted with its size, its advantages, and defects. From the place where it discharges itself into the straits of Kampar or Bencalis, to the town of Siak is, according to the scale of his chart, about sixty-five geographical miles, and from thence to a place called Pakan bharu or Newmarket, where the survey discontinues, is about one hundred more. The width of the river is in general from about three-quarters to half a mile, and its depth from fifteen to seven fathoms; but on the bar at low-water spring-tides there are only fifteen feet, and several shoals near its mouth. The tides rise about eleven feet at the town, where at full and change it is high-water at nine A.M. Not far within the river is a small island on which the Dutch had formerly a factory. The shores are flat on both sides to a considerable distance up the country, and the whole of the soil is probably alluvial; but about a hundred and twenty-five or thirty miles up Mr. Lynch marks the appearance of high land, giving it the name of Princess Augusta Sophia hill, and points it out as a commanding situation for a settlement.


He speaks in favourable terms of the facility with which ship-timber of any dimensions or shape may be procured and loaded. Respecting the size or population of the town no information is given.


The government of it was (in October 1808) in the hands of the Tuanku Pangeran, brother to the Raja, who in consequence of some civil disturbance had withdrawn to the entrance of the river. His name is not mentioned, but from the Transactions of the Batavian Society we learn that the prince who reigned about the year 1780 was Raja Ismael, "one of the greatest pirates in those seas." The maritime power of the kingdom of Siak has always been considerable, and in the history of the Malayan states we repeatedly read of expeditions fitted out from thence making attacks upon Johor, Malacca, and various other places on the two coasts of the peninsula. Most of the neighbouring states (or rivers) on the eastern coast of Sumatra, from Langat to Jambi, are said to have been brought in modern times under its subjection.


The trade is chiefly carried on by Kling vessels, as they are called, from the coast of Coromandel, which supply cargoes of piece-goods, and also raw silk, opium, and other articles, which they provide at Pinang or Malacca; in return for which they receive gold, wax, sago, salted fish, and fish-roes, elephants' teeth, gambir, camphor, rattans, and other canes. According to the information of the natives the river is navigable for sloops to a place called Panti Chermin, being eight days' sail with the assistance of the tide, and within half a day's journey by land of another named Patapahan, which boats also, of ten to twenty tons, reach in two days. This is a great mart of trade with the Menangkabau country, whither its merchants resort with their gold. Pakan-bharu, the limit of Mr. Lynch's voyage, is much lower down, and the above­mentioned places are consequently not noticed by him. The Dutch Company procured annually from Siak, for the use of Batavia, several rafts of spars for masts, and if the plan of building ships at Pinang should be encouraged large supplies of frame-timber for the purpose may be obtained from this river, provided a sense of interest shall be found sufficiently strong to correct or restrain the habits of treachery and desperate enterprise for which these people have in all ages been notorious.


The river Rakan, to the northward of Siak, by much the largest in the island, if it should not rather be considered as an inlet of the sea, takes its rise in the Rau country, and is navigable for sloops to a great distance from the sea; but vessels are deterred from entering it by the rapidity of the current, or more probably the reflux of the tide, and that peculiar swell known in the Ganges and elsewhere by the appellation of the bore.


That of Kampar, to the southward, is said by the natives to labour under the same inconvenience, and Mr. Lynch was informed that the tides there rise from eighteen to twenty-four feet. If these circumstances render the navigation dangerous it appears difficult to account for its having been a place of considerable note at the period of the Portuguese conquest of Malacca, and repeatedly the scene of naval actions with the fleets of Achin, whilst Siak, which possesses many natural advantages, is rarely mentioned. In modern times it has been scarcely at all known to Europeans, and even its situation is doubtful.


The river of Indragiri is said by the natives to have its source in a lake of the Menangkabau country, from whence it issues by the name of Ayer Ambelan. Sloops tide it up for five or six weeks (as they assert), anchoring as the ebb begins to make. From a place called Lubok ramo-ramo they use boats of from five to twenty tons, and the smaller sort can proceed until they are stopped by a fall or cascade at Seluka, on the borders of Menangkabau. This extraordinary distance to which the influence of the tides extends is a proof of the absolute flatness of the country through which these rivers take the greater part of their course.


Jambi River has its principal source in the Limun country. Although of considerable size it is inferior to Siak and Indragiri. At an early stage of European commerce in these parts it was of some importance, and both the English and Dutch had factories there; the former on a small island near the mouth, and the latter at some distance up the river. The town of Jambi is situated at the distance of about sixty miles from the sea, and we find in the work of the historian, Faria y Sousa, that in the year 1629 a Portuguese squadron was employed twenty-two days in ascending the river, in order to destroy some Dutch ships which had taken shelter near the town. Lionel Wafer, who was there in 1678 (at which time the river was blockaded by a fleet of praws from Johor), makes the distance a hundred miles. The trade consists chiefly in gold-dust, pepper, and canes, but the most of what is collected of the first article proceeds across the country to the western coast, and the quality of the second is not held in esteem. The port is therefore but little frequented by any other than native merchants. Sometimes, but rarely, a private trading ship from Bengal endeavours to dispose of a few chests of opium in this or one of the other rivers; but the masters scarcely ever venture on shore, and deal with such of the Malays as come off to them at the sword point, so strong is the idea of their treacherous character.


The kingdom of Palembang is one of considerable importance, and its river ranks amongst the largest in the island. It takes its rise in the district of Musi, immediately at the back of the range of hills visible from Bencoolen, and on that account has the name of Ayer Musi in the early part of its course, but in the lower is more properly named the Tatong.


Opposite to the city of Palembang and the Dutch Company's factory it is upwards of a mile in breadth, and is conveniently navigated by vessels whose draft of water does not exceed fourteen feet. Those of a larger description have been carried thither for military purposes (as in 1660, when the place was attacked and destroyed by the Hollanders) but the operation is attended with difficulty on account of numerous shoals.


The port is much frequented by trading vessels, chiefly from Java, Madura, Balli, and Celebes, which bring rice, salt, and cloths, the manufacture of those islands. With opium, the piece-goods of the west of India, and European commodities it is supplied by the Dutch from Batavia, or by those who are termed interlopers. These in return receive pepper and tin, which, by an old agreement made with the sultan, and formally renewed in 1777, are to be exclusively delivered to the Company at stipulated prices, and no other Europeans are to be allowed to trade or navigate within his jurisdiction.


In order to enforce these conditions the Dutch are permitted to maintain a fort on the river with a garrison of fifty or sixty men (which cannot be exceeded without giving umbrage), and to keep its own cruisers to prevent smuggling. The quantity of pepper thus furnished was from one to two millions of pounds per annum. Of tin the quantity was about two millions of pounds, one third of which was shipped (at Batavia) for Holland, and the remainder sent to China. It has already been stated that this tin is the produce of the island of Bangka, situated near the mouth of the river, which may be considered as an entire hill of tin-sand. The works, of which a particular account is given in Volume 3 of the Batavian Transactions, are entirely in the hands of Chinese settlers. In the year 1778 the Company likewise received thirty-seven thousand bundles of rattans.


The lower parts of the country of Palembang towards the sea-coast are described as being flat marshy land, and with the exception of some few tracts entirely unfit for the purposes of cultivation. It is generally understood to have been all covered by the sea in former ages, not only from its being observed that the strand yearly gains an accession, but also that, upon digging the earth at some distance inland, sea-shells, and even pieces of boat-timber, are discovered.


The interior or upland districts on the contrary are very productive, and there the pepper is cultivated, which the king's agent (for trade in these parts is usually monopolized by the sovereign power) purchases at a cheap rate. In return he supplies the country people with opium, salt, and piece-goods, forming the cargoes of large boats (some of them sixty-six feet in length and seven in breadth, from a single tree) which are towed against the stream. The goods intended for Passummah are conveyed to a place called Muara Mulang, which is performed in fourteen days, and from thence by land to the borders of that country is only one day's journey. This being situated beyond the district where the pepper flourishes their returns are chiefly made in pulas twine, raw silk in its roughest state, and elephants' teeth. From Musi they send likewise sulphur, alum, arsenic, and tobacco. Dragons-blood and gambir are also the produce of the country.


These interior parts are divided into provinces, each of which is assigned as a fief or government to one of the royal family or of the nobles, who commit the management to deputies and give themselves little concern about the treatment of their subjects. The pangerans, who are the descendants of the ancient princes of the country, experience much oppression, and when compelled to make their appearance at court are denied every mark of ceremonious distinction.


The present rulers of the kingdom of Palembang and a great portion of the inhabitants of the city originally came from the island of Java, in consequence, as some suppose, of an early conquest by the sovereigns of Majapahit; or, according to others, by those of Bantam, in more modern times; and in proof of its subjection, either real or nominal, to the latter, we find in the account of the first Dutch voyages, that "in 1596 a king of Bantam fell before Palembang, a rebel town of Sumatra, which he was besieging."


The Dutch claim the honour of having placed on the throne the family of the reigning sultan (1780), named Ratu Akhmet Bahar ed-din, whose eldest son bears the title of Pangeran Ratu, answering to the RaJa muda of the Malays. The power of the monarch is unlimited by any legal restriction, but not keeping a regular body of troops in pay his orders are often disregarded by the nobles. Although without any established revenue from taxes or contributions, the profit arising from the trade of pepper and tin (especially the latter) is so great, and the consequent influx of silver, without any apparent outlet, so considerable, that he must necessarily be possessed of treasure to a large amount. The customs on merchandize imported remain in the hands of the shabhandaras, who are required to furnish the king's household with provisions and other necessaries. The domestic attendants on the prince are for the most part females.


The currency of the country and the only money allowed to be received at the king's treasury is Spanish dollars; but there is also in general circulation a species of small base coin, issued by royal authority, and named pitis. These are cut out of plates composed of lead and tin, and, having a square hole in the middle (like the Chinese cash), are strung in parcels of five hundred each, sixteen of which (according to the Batavian Transactions) are equivalent to the dollar. In weighing gold the tail is considered as the tenth part of the katti (of a pound and a third), or equal to the weight of two Spanish dollars and a quarter.


The city is situated in a flat marshy tract, a few miles above the delta of the river, about sixty miles from the sea, and yet so far from the mountains of the interior that they are not visible. It extends about eight miles along both banks, and is mostly confined to them and to the creeks which open into the river. The buildings, with the exception of the king's palace and mosque, being all of wood or bamboos standing on posts and mostly covered with thatch of palm-leaves, the appearance of the place has nothing to recommend it. There are also a great number of floating habitations, mostly shops, upon bamboo-rafts moored to piles, and when the owners of these are no longer pleased with their situation they remove upwards or downwards, with the tide, to one more convenient. Indeed, as the nature of the surrounding country, being overflowed in high tides, scarcely admits of roads, almost all communication is carried on by means of boats, which accordingly are seen moving by hundreds in every direction, without intermission. The dalam or palace being surrounded by a high wall, nothing is known to Europeans of the interior, but it appears to be large, lofty, and much ornamented on the outside. Immediately adjoining to this wall, on the lower side, is a strong, square, roofed battery, commanding the river, and below it another; on both of which many heavy cannon are mounted, and fired on particular occasions. In the interval between the two batteries is seen the meidan or plain, at the extremity of which appears the balerong or hall where the sultan gives audience in public. This is an ordinary building, and serving occasionally for a warehouse, but ornamented with weapons arranged along the walls. The royal mosque stands behind the palace, and from the style of architecture seems to have been constructed by a European. It is an oblong building with glazed windows, pilasters, and a cupola. The burial place of these sovereigns is at old Palembang, about a league lower down the river, where the ground appears to be somewhat raised from having long been the site of habitations.


The policy of these princes, who were themselves strangers, having always been to encourage foreign settlers, the city an lower parts of the river are in a great measure peopled with natives of China, Cochin­china, Camboja, Siam, Patani on the coast of the peninsula, Java, Celebes, and other eastern places. In addition to these the Arabian priests are described by the Dutch as constituting a very numerous and pernicious tribe, who, although in the constant practice of imposing upon and plundering the credulous inhabitants, are held by them in the utmost reverence.


The Mahometan religion prevails throughout all the dominions of the sultan, with the exception of a district near the sea­coast, called Salang, where the natives, termed orang kubu, live in the woods like wild animals. The literature of the country is said to be confined to the study of the koran, but opinions of this kind I have found in other instances to be too hastily formed, or by persons not competent to obtain the necessary information.


The language of the king and his court is the high dialect of the Javan, mixed with some foreign idioms. In the general intercourse with strangers the conversation is always in Malayan, with the pronunciation (already noticed) of the final o for a.


Amongst the people of Palembang themselves this language (the character of which they employ) is mixed with the common Javan. The Dutch, on whom we must rely for an account of the manners and disposition of these people, and which will be found in Volume 3 page 122 of the Batavian Transactions, describe those of the low country as devoid of every good quality and imbued with every bad one; whilst those of the interior are spoken of as a dull, simple people who show much forbearance under oppression*; but it is acknowledged that of these last they have little knowledge, owing to the extreme suspicion and jealousy of the government, which takes alarm at any attempt to penetrate into the country.

(*Footnote. A ridiculous story is told of a custom amongst the inhabitants of a province named Blida, which I should not repeat but for its whimsical coincidence with a jeu d'esprit of our celebrated Swift. When a child is born there (say the Palembangers), and the father has any doubts about the honesty of his wife, he puts it to the proof by tossing the infant into the air and catching it on the point of a spear. If no wound is thereby inflicted he is satisfied of its legitimacy, but if otherwise he considers it as spurious.)


This inland district having been visited only by two servants of the English East India Company who have left any record of their journeys, I shall extract from their narratives such parts as serve to throw a light upon its geography. The first of these was Mr. Charles Miller, who, on the 19th of September 1770, proceeded from Fort Marlborough to Bentiring on the Bencoolen river, thence to Pagar-raddin, Kadras, Gunong Raja, Gunong Ayu, Kalindang, and Jambu, where he ascended the hills forming the boundary of the Company's district, which he found covered with lofty trees. The first dusun on the other side is named Kalubar, and situated on the banks of the river Musi. From thence his route lay to places called Kapiyong and Parahmu, from all of which the natives carry the produce of their country to Palembang by water. The setting in of the rains and difficulties raised by the guides prevented him from proceeding to the country where the cassia is cut, and occasioned his return towards the hills on the 10th of October, stopping at Tabat Bubut. The land in the neighbourhood of the Musi he describes as being level, the soil black and good, and the air temperate. It was his intention to have crossed the hills to Ranne-lebar, on the 11th, but missing the road in the woods reached next day Beyol Bagus, a dusun in the Company's district, and thence proceeded to Gunong Raja, his way lying partly down a branch of the Bencoolen river, called Ayer Bagus, whose bed is formed of large pebble-stones, and partly through a level country, entirely covered with lofty bamboos. From Gunong Raja he returned down Bencoolen River on a bamboo raft to Bentiring, and reached Fort Marlborough on the 18th of October. The other traveller, Mr. Charles Campbell, in a private letter dated March 1802 (referring me, for more detailed information, to journals which have not reached my hand), says, "We crossed the hills nearly behind the Sugar-loaf, and entered the valley of Musi. Words cannot do justice to the picturesque scenery of that romantic and delightful country, locked in on all sides by lofty mountains, and watered by the noble river here navigable for very large canoes, which, after receiving the Lamatang and several other streams, forms the Palembang. Directing our course behind the great hill of Sungei-lamo we in three days discovered Labun, and crossed some considerable streams discharging themselves into the river of Kattaun. Our object there being completed we returned along the banks of the Musi nearly to the dusun of Kalubat, at which place we struck into the woods, and, ascending the mountain, reached towards evening a village high up on the Bencoolen River. There is but a single range, and it is a fact that from the navigable part of the Musi river to a place on that of Bencoolen where rafts and sampans may be used is to the natives a walk of no more than eight hours. Musi is populous, well cultivated, and the soil exceedingly rich. The people are stout, healthy looking, and independent in their carriage and manners, and were to us courteous and hospitable. They acknowledge no superior authority, but are often insulted by predatory parties from Palembang." These freebooters would perhaps call themselves collectors of tribute. It is much to be regretted that little political jealousies and animosities between the European powers whose influence prevails on each side of the island prevent further discoveries of the course of this considerable river.




One of the most considerable distinctions of people in the island, and by many regarded as having the strongest claims to originality, is the nation of the Battas (properly Batak), whose remarkable dissimilitude to the other inhabitants, in the genius of their customs and manners, and especially in some extraordinary usages, renders it necessary that a particular degree of attention should be paid to their description.


This country is bounded on the north by that of Achin, from which it is separated by the mountains of Papa and Deira, and on the south by the independent district of Rau or Rawa; extending along the sea-coast on the western side from the river of Singkel to that of Tabuyong, but inland, to the back of Ayer Bangis, and generally across the island, which is narrow in that part, to the eastern coast; but more or less encroached upon by the Malayan and Achinese establishments in the most convenient maritime situations, for the purposes of their commerce. It is very populous, and chiefly in the central parts, where are extensive open or naked plains, on the borders (as it is said) of a great lake; the soil fertile, and cultivation so much more prevalent than in the southern countries, which are mostly covered with woods, that there is scarcely a tree to be seen excepting those planted by the natives about their villages, which are not, as elsewhere, on the banks of rivers, but wherever a strong situation presents itself. Water indeed is not so abundant as to the southward, which may be attributed to the comparatively level surface, the chain of high mountains which extends northwards from the straits of Sunda through the interior of the island, in a great measure terminating with gunong Passummah or Mount Ophir. About the bay of Tappanuli however the land is high and wooded near the coast.


The Batta territory is divided (according to the information obtained by the English Residents) into the following principal districts; Ankola, Padambola, Mandiling, Toba, Selindong, and Singkel, of which the first has five, the third three, and the fourth five subordinate tribes. According to the Dutch account published in the Transactions of the Batavian Society, which is very circumstantial, it is divided into three small kingdoms. One of these named Simamora is situated far inland and contains a number of villages, and among others those named Batong, Ria, Allas, Batadera, Kapkap (where the district producing benzoin commences), Batahol, Kotta-tinggi (the place of the king's residence), with two places lying on the eastern coast called Suitara-male and Jambu-ayer. This kingdom is said to yield much fine gold from the mines of Batong and Sunayang. Bata-salindong also contains many districts, in some of which benzoin, and in others fine gold, is collected. The residence of the king is at Salindong. Bata-gopit lies at the foot of a volcano-mountain of that name, from whence, at the time of an eruption, the natives procure sulphur, to be afterwards employed in the manufacture of gunpowder. The little kingdom of Butar lies north­eastward of the preceding and reaches to the eastern coast, where are the places named Pulo Serony and Batu Bara; the latter enjoying a considerable trade; also Longtong and Sirigar, at the mouth of a great river named Assahan. Butar yields neither camphor, benzoin, nor gold, and the inhabitants support themselves by cultivation. The residence of the king is at a town of the same name.


High up on the river of Batu Bara, which empties itself into the straits of Malacca, is found a large brick building, concerning the erection of which no tradition is preserved amongst the people. It is described as a square, or several squares, and at one corner is an extremely high pillar, supposed by them to have been designed for carrying a flag. Images or reliefs of human figures are carved in the walls, which they conceive to be Chinese (perhaps Hindu) idols. The bricks, of which some were brought to Tappanuli, are of a smaller size than those used by the English.


Singkel River, by much the largest on the western coast of the island, has its rise in the distant mountains of Daholi, in the territory of Achin, and at the distance of about thirty miles from the sea receives the waters of the Sikere, at a place called Pomoko, running through a great extent of the Batta country. After this junction it is very broad, and deep enough for vessels of considerable burden, but the bar is shallow and dangerous, having no more than six feet at low-water spring-tides, and the rise is also six feet. The breadth here is about three-quarters of a mile. Much of the lower parts of the country through which it has its course is overflowed during the rainy season, but not at two places, called by Captain Forrest Rambong and Jambong, near the mouth. The principal town lies forty miles up the river on the northern branch. On the southern is a town named Kiking, where more trade is carried on by the Malays and Achinese than at the former, the Samponan or Papa mountains producing more benzoin than those of Daholi. It is said in a Dutch manuscript that in three days' navigation above the town of Singkel you come to a great lake, the extent of which is not known.

Barus, the next place of any consequence to the southward, is chiefly remarkable for having given name throughout the East to the Kapur­barus or native camphor, as it is often termed to distinguish it from that which is imported from Japan and China, as already explained. This was the situation of the most remote of the Dutch factories, long since withdrawn. It is properly a Malayan establishment, governed by a raja, a bandhara, and eight pangulus, and with this peculiarity, that the rajas and bandharas must be alternately and reciprocally of two great families, named Dulu and D'ilhir. The assumed jurisdiction is said to have extended formerly to Natal. The town is situated about a league from the coast, and two leagues farther inland are eight small villages inhabited by Battas, the inhabitants of which purchase the camphor and benzoin from the people of the Diri mountains, extending from the southward of Singkel to the hill of Lasa, behind Barus, where the Tobat district commences.


The celebrated bay of Tappanuli stretches into the heart of the Batta country, and its shores are everywhere inhabited by that people, who barter the produce of their land for the articles they stand in need of from abroad, but do not themselves make voyages by sea. Navigators assert that the natural advantages of this bay are scarcely surpassed in any other part of the globe; that all the navies of the world might ride there with perfect security in every weather; and that such is the complication of anchoring-places within each other that a large ship could be so hid in them as not to be found without a tedious search. At the island of Punchong kechil, on which our settlement stands, it is a common practice to moor the vessels by a hawser to a tree on shore. Timber for masts and yards is to be procured in the various creeks with great facility. Not being favourably situated with respect to the general track of outward and homeward-bound shipping, and its distance from the principal seat of our important Indian concerns being considerable, it has not hitherto been much used for any great naval purposes; but at the same time our government should be aware of the danger that might arise from suffering any other maritime power to get footing in a place of this description. The natives are in general inoffensive, and have given little disturbance to our establishments; but parties of Achinese traders (without the concurrence or knowledge, as there is reason to believe, of their own government), jealous of our commercial influence, long strove to drive us from the bay by force of arms, and we were under the necessity of carrying on a petty warfare for many years in order to secure our tranquillity. In the year 1760 Tappanuli was taken by a squadron of French ships under the command of the Comte d'Estaing; and in October 1809, being nearly defenceless, it was again taken by the Creole French frigate, Captain Ripaud, joined afterwards by the Venus and La Manche; under the orders of Commodore Hamelin. By the terms of the surrender private property was to be secured, but in a few days, after the most friendly assurances had been given to the acting resident, with whom the French officers were living, this engagement was violated under the ill-founded pretence that some gold had been secreted, and everything belonging to the English gentlemen and ladies, as well as to the native settlers, was plundered or destroyed by fire, with circumstances of atrocity and brutality that would have disgraced savages. The garden-house of the chief (Mr. Prince, who happened to be then absent from Tappanuli) at Batu-buru on the main was likewise burned, together with his horses, and his cattle were shot at and maimed. Even the books of accounts, containing the statement of outstanding debts due to the trading-concern of the place were, in spite of every entreaty, maliciously destroyed or carried off, by which an irreparable loss, from which the enemy could not derive a benefit, is sustained by the unfortunate sufferers. It cannot be supposed that the government of a great and proud empire can give its sanction to this disgraceful mode of carrying on war.

In the Philosophical Transactions for the year 1778 is a brief account of the Batta country and the manners of its inhabitants, extracted from the private letters of Mr. Charles Miller, the Company's botanist, whose observations I have had repeated occasion to quote. I shall now communicate to the reader the substance of a report made by him of a journey performed in company with Mr. Giles Holloway, then resident of Tappanuli, through the interior of the country of which we are now speaking, with a view to explore its productions, particularly the cassia, which at that time was thought likely to prove an object of commerce worthy of attention.


Says Mr. Miller:

Previously to our setting out on this journey we consulted people who had formerly been engaged in the cassia-trade with regard to the most proper places to visit. They informed us that the trees were to be found in two different districts; namely in the inland parts to the northward of the old settlement at Tappanuli; and also in the country of Padambola, which lies between fifty and sixty miles more to the southward. They advised us to prefer going into the Padambola country, although the more distant, on account of the inhabitants of the Tappanuli country (as they represented) being frequently troublesome to strangers. They also told me there were two kinds of the kulit manis, the one of which, from their account of it, I was in hopes might prove to be the true cinnamon-tree.

June 21st, 1772. We set out from Pulo Punchong and went in boats to the quallo (mouth or entrance) of Pinang Suri river, which is in the bay, about ten or twelve miles south-east of Punchong. Next morning we went up the river in sampans, and in about six hours arrived at a place called quallo Lumut. The whole of the land on both sides of the river is low, covered with wood, and uninhabited. In these woods I observed camphor trees, two species of oak, maranti, rangi, and several other timber-trees. About a quarter of a mile from that place, on the opposite side of the river, is a Batta kampong, situated on the summit of a regular and very beautiful little hill, which rises in a pyramidical form, in the middle of a small meadow. The raja of this kampong, being informed by the Malays that we were at their houses, came over to see us, and invited us to his house, where we were received with great ceremony, and saluted with about thirty guns. This kampong consists of about eight or ten houses, with their respective padi-houses. It is strongly fortified with a double fence of strong rough camphor planks, driven deep into the earth, and about eight or nine feet high, so placed that their points project considerably outward. These fences are about twelve feet asunder, and in the space between them the buffaloes are kept at night. Without-side these fences they plant a row of a prickly kind of bamboo, which forms an almost impenetrable hedge from twelve to twenty feet thick. In the sapiyau or building in which the raja receives strangers we saw a man's skull hanging up, which he told us was hung there as a trophy, it being the skull of an enemy they had taken prisoner, whose body (according to the custom of the Battas) they had eaten about two months before. June 23rd. We walked through a level woody country to the kampong of Lumut, and next day to Sa­tarong, where I observed several plantations of benzoin-trees, some cotton, indigo, turmeric, tobacco, and a few pepper-vines. We next proceeded to Tappolen, to Sikia, and to Sa-pisang. This last is situated on the banks of Batang-tara river, three or four days' journey from the sea; so that our course had hitherto been nearly parallel to the coast.

July 1st. We left Sa-pisang and took a direction towards the hills, following nearly the course of the Batang-tara. We travelled all this day through a low, woody, and entirely uncultivated country, which afforded nothing worthy of observation. Our guide had proposed to reach a kampong, called Lumbu; but missing the road we were obliged to wade up the river between four and five miles, and at length arrived at a ladang extremely fatigued; where the badness of the weather obliged us to stop and take up our quarters in an open padi-shed. The next day the river was so swelled by the heavy rain which had fallen the preceding day that we could not prosecute our journey, and were obliged to pass it and the remaining night in the same uncomfortable situation. (This is the middle of the dry season in the southern parts of the island.) July 3rd. We left the ladang and walked through a very irregular and uninhabited tract, full of rocks and covered with woods. We this day crossed a ridge of very steep and high hills, and in the afternoon came to an inhabited and well-cultivated country on the edge of the plains of Ancola. We slept this night in a small open shed, and next day proceeded to a kampong called Koto Lambong. July 5th. Went through a more open and very pleasant country to Terimbaru, a large kampong on the southern edge of the plains of Ancola. The land hereabout is entirely clear of wood, and either ploughed and sown with padi or jagong (maize), or used as pasture for their numerous herds of buffaloes, kine, and horses. The raja being informed of our intentions to come there sent his son and between thirty and forty men, armed with lances and matchlock guns, to meet us, who escorted us to their kampong, beating gongs and firing their guns all the way. The raja received us in great form, and with civility ordered a buffalo to be killed, detained us a day, and when we proceeded on our journey sent his son with a party to escort us. I observed that all the unmarried women wore a great number of tin rings in their ears (some having fifty in each ear), which circumstance, together with the appearance of the country, seemed to indicate its abounding with minerals; but on making inquiry I found that the tin was brought from the straits of Malacca. Having made the accustomed presents to the raja we left Terimbaru, July 7th, and proceeded to Sa-masam, the raja of which place, attended by sixty or seventy men, well armed, met us and conducted us to his kampong, where he had prepared a house for our reception, treating us with much hospitality and respect. The country round Sa-masam is full of small hills but clear of wood, and mostly pasture ground for their cattle, of which they have great abundance. I met with nothing remarkable here excepting a prickly shrub called by the natives Andalimon, the seed-vessels and leaves of which have a very agreeable spicy taste, and are used by them in their curries.

July 10th. Proceeded on our journey to Batang Onan, the kampong where the Malays used to purchase the cassia from the Battas. After about three hours walk over an open hilly country we again came into thick woods, in which we were obliged to pass the night. The next morning we crossed another ridge of very high hills, covered entirely with woods. In these we saw the wild benzoin-tree. It grows to a much larger size than the cultivated kind, and yields a different sort of resin called kaminian dulong or sweet-scented benzoin. It differs in being commonly in more detached pieces, and having a smell resembling that of almonds when bruised. Arrived at Batang Onan in the afternoon. This kampong is situated in a very extensive plain on the banks of a large river which empties itself into the straits of Malacca, and is said to be navigable for sloops to within a day's journey of Batang Onan.


July 11th. Went to Panka-dulut, the raja of which place claims the property of the cassia-trees, and his people used to cut and cure the bark and transport it to the former place. The nearest trees are about two hours walk from Panka-dulut on a high ridge of mountains. They grow from forty to sixty feet high, and have large spreading heads. They are not cultivated, but grow in the woods. The bark is commonly taken from the bodies of the trees of a foot or foot and half diameter; the bark being so thin, when the trees are younger, as to lose all its qualities very soon. I here inquired for the different sorts of cassia-tree of which I had been told, but was now informed that there was only one sort, and that the difference they mentioned was occasioned entirely by the soil and situation in which the trees grow; that those which grow in a rocky dry soil have red shoots, and their bark is of superior quality to that of trees which grow in moist clay, whose shoots are green. I also endeavoured to get some information with regard to their method of curing and quilling the cassia, and told them my intentions of trying some experiments towards improving its quality and rendering it more valuable. They told me that none had been cut for two years past, on account of a stop being put to the purchases at Tappanuli; and that if I was come with authority to open the trade I should call together the people of the neighbouring kampongs, kill a buffalo for them, and assure them publicly that the cassia would be again received; in which case they would immediately begin to cut and cure it, and would willingly follow any instructions I should give them; but that otherwise they would take no trouble about it. I must observe that I was prevented from getting so satisfactory an account of the cassia as I could have wished by the ill-behaviour of the person who accompanied us as guide, from whom, by his thorough knowledge of the country, and of the cassia-trade, of which he had formerly been the chief manager, we thought we had reason to expect all requisite assistance and information, but who not only refused to give it, but prevented as much as possible our receiving any from the country people. July 14th. We left Batang Onan in order to return, stopped that night at a kampong called Koto Moran, and the next evening reached Sa-masam; from whence we proceeded by a different road from what we had travelled before to Sa­pisang, where we procured sampans, and went down the Batang-tara river to the sea. July 22nd we returned to Pulo Punchong.

End of Mr. Miller's Narrative.

It has since been understood that they were intentionally misled, and taken by a circuitous route to prevent their seeing a particular kampong of some consideration at the back of Tappanuli, or for some other interested object. Near the latter place, on the main, Mr. John Marsden, who went thither to be present at the funeral of one of their chiefs, observed two old monuments in stone, one the figure of a man, the other of a man on an elephant, tolerably well executed, but they know not by whom, nor is there any among them who could do the same work now. The features were strongly Batta.


Our settlement at Natal (properly Natar), some miles to the south of the large river of Tabuyong, and on the confines of the Batta country, which extends at the back of it, is a place of much commerce, but not from its natural or political circumstances of importance in other respects. It is inhabited by settlers there, for the convenience of trade, from the countries of Achin, Rau, and Menangkabau, who render it populous and rich. Gold of very fine quality is procured from the country (some of the mines being said to lie within ten miles of the factory), and there is a considerable vent for imported goods, the returns for which are chiefly made in that article and camphor. Like other Malayan towns it is governed by datus, the chief of whom, styled datu besar or chief magistrate, has considerable sway; and although the influence of the Company is here predominant its authority is by no means so firmly established as in the pepper-districts to the southward, owing to the number of people, their wealth, and enterprising, independent spirit.* It may be said that they are rather managed and conciliated than ruled. They find the English useful as moderators between their own contending factions, which often have recourse to arms, even upon points of ceremonious precedence, and are reasoned into accommodation by our resident going among them unattended. At an earlier period our protection was convenient to them against the usurpation, as they termed it, of the Dutch, of whose attempts and claims they were particularly jealous. By an article of the treaty of Paris in 1763 these pretensions were ascertained as they respected the two European powers, and the settlements of Natal and Tappanuli were expressly restored to the English. They had however already been re-occupied. Neither in fact have any right but what proceeds from the will and consent of the native princes.

(*Footnote. Upon the re-establishment of the factory in 1762 the resident pointed out to the Datu besar, with a degree of indignation, the number of dead bodies which were frequently seen floating down the river, and proposed his cooperating to prevent assassinations in the country, occasioned by the anarchy the place fell into during the temporary interruption of the Company's influence. "I cannot assent to any measures for that purpose," replied the datu: "I reap from these murders an advantage of twenty dollars a head when the families prosecute." A compensation of thirty dollars per month was offered him, and to this he scarcely submitted, observing that he should be a considerable loser, as there fell in this manner at least three men in the month. At another time, when the resident attempted to carry some regulation into execution, he said, "kami tradah suka begito, orang kaya!" "We do not choose to allow it, sir;" and bared his right arm as a signal of attack to his dependants in case the point had been insisted on. Of late years habit and a sense of mutual interest have rendered them more accommodating.)


The government of the Batta country, although nominally in the hands of three or more sovereign rajas, is effectively (so far as our intercourse with the people enables us to ascertain) divided into numberless petty chiefships, the heads of which, also styled rajas, have no appearance of being dependant upon any superior power, but enter into associations with each other, particularly with those belonging to the same tribe, for mutual defence and security against any distant enemy. They are at the same time extremely jealous of any increase of their relative power, and on the slightest pretext a war breaks out between them. The force of different kampongs is notwithstanding this very unequal, and some rajas possess a much more extensive sway than others; and it must needs be so, where every man who can get a dozen followers and two or three muskets sets up for independence. Inland of a place called Sokum great respect was paid to a female chief or uti (which word I conceive to be a liquid pronunciation of putri, a princess), whose jurisdiction comprehended many tribes. Her grandson, who was the reigning prince, had lately been murdered by an invader, and she had assembled an army of two or three thousand men to take revenge. An agent of the Company went up the river about fifteen miles in hopes of being able to accommodate a matter that threatened materially the peace of the country; but he was told by the uti that, unless he would land his men, and take a decided part in her favour, he had no business there, and he was obliged to reembark without effecting anything. The aggressor followed him the same night and made his escape. It does not appear likely, from the manners and dispositions of the people, that the whole of the country was ever united under one supreme head.


The more powerful rajas assume authority over the lives of their subjects. The dependants are bound to attend their chief in his journeys and in his wars, and when an individual refuses he is expelled from the society without permission to take his property along with him. They are supplied with food for their expeditions, and allowed a reward for each person they kill. The revenues of the chief arise principally from fines of cattle adjudged in criminal proceedings, which he always appropriates to himself; and from the produce of the camphor and benzoin trees throughout his district; but this is not rigorously insisted upon. When he pays his gaming debts he imposes what arbitrary value he thinks proper on the horses and buffaloes (no coin being used in the country), which he delivers, and his subjects are obliged to accept them at that rate. They are forced to work in their turns, for a certain number of days, in his rice plantations. There is, in like manner, a lesser kind of service for land held of any other person, the tenant being bound to pay his landlord respect wherever he meets him, and to provide him with entertainment whenever he comes to his house. The people seem to have a permanent property in their possessions, selling them to each other as they think fit. If a man plants trees and leaves them, no future occupier can sell them, though he may eat the fruit. Disputes and litigations of any kind that happen between people belonging to the same kampong are settled by a magistrate appointed for that purpose, and from him it is said there is no appeal to the raja: when they arise between persons of different kampongs they are adjusted at a meeting of the respective rajas. When a party is sent down to the Bay to purchase salt or on other business it is accompanied by an officer who takes cognizance of their behaviour, and sometimes punishes on the spot such as are criminal or refractory. This is productive of much order and decency.


It is asserted that the succession to the chiefships does not go in the first instance to the son of the deceased, but to the nephew by a sister; and that the same extraordinary rule, with respect to property in general, prevails also amongst the Malays of that part of the island, and even in the neighbourhood of Padang. The authorities for this are various and unconnected with each other, but not sufficiently circumstantial to induce me to admit it as a generally established practice.


Notwithstanding the independent spirit of the Battas, and their contempt of all power that would affect a superiority over their little societies, they have a superstitious veneration for the sultan of Menangkabau, and show blind submission to his relations and emissaries, real or pretended, when such appear among them for the purpose of levying contributions: even when insulted and put in fear of their lives they make no attempt at resistance: they think that their affairs would never prosper; that their padi would be blighted, and their buffaloes die; that they would remain under a kind of spell for offending those sacred messengers.


The Battas are in their persons rather below the stature of the Malays, and their complexions are fairer; which may perhaps be owing to their distance, for the most part, from the sea, an element they do not at all frequent.


Their dress is commonly of a sort of cotton cloth manufactured by themselves, thick, harsh, and wiry, about four astas or cubits long, and two in breadth, worn round the middle, with a scarf over the shoulder. These are of mixed colours, the prevalent being a brownish red and a blue approaching to black. They are fond of adorning them, particularly the scarf, with strings and tassels of beads. The covering of the head is usually the bark of a tree, but the superior class wear a strip of foreign blue cloth in imitation of the Malayan destars, and a few have bajus (outer garments) of chintz. The young women, beside the cloth round the middle, have one over the breasts, and (as noticed in Mr. Miller's journal) wear in their ears numerous rings of tin, as well as several large rings of thick brass wire round their necks. On festival days however they ornament themselves with earrings of gold, hair-pins, of which the heads are fashioned like birds or dragons, a kind of three-cornered breastplate, and hollow rings upon the upper arm, all, in like manner, of gold. The kima shell, which abounds in the bay, is likewise worked into arm-rings, whiter, and taking a better polish than ivory.


Their arms are matchlock guns, with which they are expert marksmen, bamboo lances or spears with long iron heads, and a side-weapon called jono, which resembles and is worn as a sword rather than a kris. The cartridge-boxes are provided with a number of little wooden cases, each containing a charge for the piece. In these are carried likewise the match, and the smaller ranjaus, the longer being in a joint of bamboo, slung like a quiver over the shoulder. They have machines curiously carved and formed like the beak of a large bird for holding bullets, and others of peculiar construction for a reserve of powder. These hang in front. On the right side hang the flint and steel, and also the tobacco-pipe. Their guns, the locks of which {for holding the match) are of copper, they are supplied with by traders from Menangkabau; the swords are of their own workmanship, and they also manufacture their own gunpowder, extracting the saltpetre, as it is said, from the soil taken from under houses that have been long inhabited (which in consequence of an uncleanly practice is strongly impregnated with animal salts), together with that collected in places where goats are kept. Through this earth water is filtered, and being afterwards suffered to evaporate the saltpetre is found at the bottom of the vessel. Their proper standard in war is a horse's head, from whence flows a long mane or tail; beside which they have colours of red or white cloth. For drums they use gongs, and in action set up a kind of war­whoop.


The spirit of war is excited among these people by small provocation, and their resolutions for carrying it into effect are soon taken. Their life appears in fact to be a perpetual state of hostility, and they are always prepared for attack and defence. When they proceed to put their designs into execution the first act of defiance is firing, without ball, into the kampong of their enemies. Three days are then allowed for the party fired upon to propose terms of accommodation, and if this is not done, or the terms are such as cannot be agreed to, war is then fully declared. This ceremony of firing with powder only is styled carrying smoke to the adversary. During the course of their wars, which sometimes last for two or three years, they seldom meet openly in the field or attempt to decide their contest by a general engagement, as the mutual loss of a dozen men might go near to ruin both parties, nor do they ever engage hand to hand, but keep at a pretty safe distance, seldom nearer than random-shot, excepting in case of sudden surprise. They march in single files, and usually fire kneeling. It is not often that they venture a direct attack upon each other's works, but watch opportunities of picking off stragglers passing through the woods. A party of three or four will conceal themselves near the footways, and if they see any of their foes they fire and run away immediately; planting ranjaus after them to prevent pursuit. On these occasions a man will subsist upon a potato a day, in which they have much the advantage of the Malays (against whom they are often engaged in warfare), who require to be better fed.


They fortify their kampongs with large ramparts of earth, halfway up which they plant brushwood. There is a ditch without the rampart, and on each side of that a tall palisade of camphor timber. Beyond this is an impenetrable hedge of prickly bamboo, which when of sufficient growth acquires an extraordinary density, and perfectly conceals all appearance of a town. Ranjaus, of a length both for the body and the feet, are disposed without all these, and render the approaches hazardous to assailants who are almost naked. At each corner of the fortress, instead of a tower or watch-house, they contrive to have a tall tree, which they ascend to reconnoitre or fire from. But they are not fond of remaining on the defensive in these fortified villages, and therefore, leaving a few to guard them, usually advance into the plains, and throw up temporary breast-works and entrenchments.


The natives of the sea-coast exchange their benzoin, camphor, and cassia (the quantity of gold-dust is very inconsiderable) for iron, steel, brass-wire, and salt, of which last article a hundred thousand bamboo measures are annually taken off in the bay of Tappanuli. These they barter again with the more inland inhabitants, in the mode that shall presently be described, for the products and manufactures of the country, particularly the home-made cloth; a very small quantity of cotton piece-goods being imported from the coast and disposed of to the natives. What they do take off is chiefly blue-cloth for the head, and chintz.


For the convenience of carrying on the inland-trade there are established at the back of Tappanuli, which is their great mart, four stages, at which successively they hold public fairs or markets on every fourth day throughout the year; each fair, of course, lasting one day. The people in the district of the fourth stage assemble with their goods at the appointed place, to which those of the third resort in order to purchase them. The people of the third, in like manner, supply the wants of the second, and the second of the first, who dispose, on the day the market is held, of the merchandise for which they have trafficked with the Europeans and Malays. On these occasions all hostilities are suspended. Each man who possesses a musket carries it with a green bough in the muzzle, as a token of peace, and afterwards, when he comes to the spot, following the example of the director or manager of the party, discharges the loading into a mound of earth, in which, before his departure, he searches for his ball. There is but one house at the place where the market is held, and that is for the purpose of gaming. The want of booths is supplied by the shade of regular rows of fruit-trees, mostly durian, of which one avenue is reserved for the women. The dealings are conducted with order and fairness; the chief remaining at a little distance, to be referred to in case of dispute, and a guard is at hand, armed with lances, to keep the peace; yet with all this police, which bespeaks civilization, I have been assured by those who have had an opportunity of attending their meetings that in the whole of their appearance and deportment there is more of savage life than is observed in the manners of the Rejangs, or inhabitants of Lampong. Traders from the remoter Batta districts, lying north and south, assemble at these periodical markets, where all their traffic is carried on, and commodities bartered. They are not however peculiar to this country, being held, among other places, at Batang-kapas and Ipu. By the Malays they are termed onan.


Having no coin all value is estimated among them by certain commodities. In trade they calculate by tampangs (cakes) of benzoin; in transactions among themselves more commonly by buffaloes: sometimes brass wire and sometimes beads are used as a medium. A galang, or ring of brass wire, represents about the value of a dollar. But for small payments salt is the most in use. A measure called a salup, weighing about two pounds, is equal to a fanam or twopence-halfpenny: a balli, another small measure, goes for four keppeng, or three-fifths of a penny.


The ordinary food of the lower class of people is maize and sweet-potatoes, the rajas and great men alone indulging themselves with rice. Some mix them together. It is only on public occasions that they kill cattle for food; but not being delicate in their appetites they do not scruple to eat part of a dead buffalo, hog, rat, alligator, or any wild animal with which they happen to meet. Their rivers are said not to abound with fish. Horse-flesh they esteem their most exquisite meat, and for this purpose feed them upon grain and pay great attention to their keep. They are numerous in the country, and the Europeans at Bencoolen are supplied with many good ones from thence, but not with the finest, as these are reserved for their festivals. They have also, says Mr. Miller, great quantities of small black dogs, with erect pointed ears, which they fatten and eat. Toddy or palm-wine they drink copiously at their feasts.


The houses are built with frames of wood, with the sides of boards, and roof covered with iju. They usually consist of a single large room, which is entered by a trap-door in the middle. The number seldom exceeds twenty in one kampong; but opposite to each is a kind of open building that serves for sitting in during the day, and as a sleeping­place for the unmarried men at night. These together form a sort of street. To each kampong there is also a balei, where the inhabitants assemble for transacting public business, celebrating feasts, and the reception of strangers, whom they entertain with frankness and hospitality. At the end of this building is a place divided off, from whence the women see the spectacles of fencing and dancing; and below that is a kind of orchestra for music.


The men are allowed to marry as many wives as they please, or can afford, and to have half a dozen is not uncommon. Each of these sits in a different part of the large room, and sleeps exposed to the others; not being separated by any partition or distinction of apartments. Yet the husband finds it necessary to allot to each of them their several fireplaces and cooking utensils, where they dress their own victuals separately, and prepare his in turns. How is this domestic state and the flimsiness of such an imaginary barrier to be reconciled with our ideas of the furious, ungovernable passions of love and jealousy supposed to prevail in an eastern harem? or must custom be allowed to supersede all other influence, both moral and physical? In other respects they differ little in their customs relating to marriage from the rest of the island. The parents of the girl always receive a valuable consideration (in buffaloes or horses) from the person to whom she is given in marriage; which is returned when a divorce takes place against the man's inclination. The daughters as elsewhere are looked upon as the riches of the fathers.


The condition of the women appears to be no other than that of slaves, the husbands having the power of selling their wives and children. They alone, beside the domestic duties, work in the rice plantations. These are prepared in the same mode as in the rest of the island; except that in the central parts, the country being clearer, the plough and harrow, drawn by buffaloes, are more used. The men, when not engaged in war, their favourite occupation, commonly lead an idle, inactive life, passing the day in playing on a kind of flute, crowned with garlands of flowers; among which the globe-amaranthus, a native of the country, mostly prevails.


They are said however to hunt deer on horseback, and to be attached to the diversion of horseracing. They ride boldly without a saddle or stirrups, frequently throwing their hands upwards whilst pushing their horse to full speed. The bit of the bridle is of iron, and has several joints; the head-stall and reins of rattan: in some parts the reins, or halter rather, is of iju, and the bit of wood. They are, like the rest of the Sumatrans, much addicted to gaming, and the practice is under no kind of restraint, until it destroys itself by the ruin of one of the parties. When a man loses more money than he is able to pay he is confined and sold as a slave; being the most usual mode by which they become such. A generous winner will sometimes release his unfortunate adversary upon condition of his killing a horse and making a public entertainment.


They have, as was before observed, a language and written character peculiar to themselves, and which may be considered, in point of originality, as equal at least to any other in the island, and although, like the languages of Java, Celebes, and the Philippines, it has many terms in common with the Malayan (being all, in my judgment, from one common stock), yet, in the way of encroachment, from the influence, both political and religious, acquired by its immediate neighbours, the Batta tongue appears to have experienced less change than any other. For a specimen of its words, its alphabet, and the rules by which the sound of its letters is modified and governed, the reader is referred to the Table and Plate above. It is remarkable that the proportion of the people who are able to read and write is much greater than of those who do not; a qualification seldom observed in such uncivilized parts of the world, and not always found in the more polished.


Their writing for common purposes is, like that already described in speaking of the Rejangs, upon pieces of bamboo.


Their books (and such they may with propriety be termed) are composed of the inner bark of a certain tree cut into long slips and folded in squares, leaving part of the wood at each extremity to serve for the outer covering. The bark for this purpose is shaved smooth and thin, and afterwards rubbed over with rice-water. The pen they use is a twig or the fibre of a leaf, and their ink is made of the soot of dammar mixed with the juice of the sugar-cane. The contents of their books are little known to us. The writing of most of those in my possession is mixed with uncouth representations of scolopendra and other noxious animals, and frequent diagrams, which imply their being works of astrology and divination. These they are known to consult in all the transactions of life, and the event is predicted by the application of certain characters marked on a slip of bamboo, to the lines of the sacred book, with which a comparison is made. But this is not their only mode of divining. Before going to war they kill a buffalo or a fowl that is perfectly white, and by observing the motion of the intestines judge of the good or ill fortune likely to attend them; and the priest who performs this ceremony had need to be infallible, for if he predicts contrary to the event it is said that he is sometimes punished with death for his want of skill. Exclusively however of these books of necromancy there are others containing legendary and mythological tales, of which latter a sample will be given under the article of religion.


Dr. Leyden, in his Dissertation on the Languages and Literature of the Indo-Chinese nations, says that the Batta character is written neither from right to left, nor from left to right, nor from top to bottom, but in a manner directly opposite to that of the Chinese, from the bottom to the top of the line, and that I have conveyed an erroneous idea of their natural form by arranging the characters horizontally instead of placing them in a perpendicular line. Not having now the opportunity of verifying by ocular proof what I understood to be the practical order of their writing, namely, from left to right (in the manner of the Hindus, who, there is reason to believe, were the original instructors of all these people), I shall only observe that I have among my papers three distinct specimens of the Batta alphabet, written by different natives at different periods, and all of them are horizontal. But I am at the same time aware that as this was performed in the presence of Europeans, and upon our paper, they might have deviated from their ordinary practice, and that the evidence is therefore not conclusive. It might be presumed indeed that the books themselves would be sufficient criterion; but according to the position in which they are held they may be made to sanction either mode, although it is easy to determine by simple inspection the commencement of the lines. In the Batavian Transactions (Volume 3 page 23) already so often quoted, it is expressly said that these people write like Europeans from the left hand towards the right: and in truth it is not easy to conceive how persons making use of ink can conduct the hand from the bottom to the top of a page without marring their own performance. But still a matter of fact, if such it be, cannot give way to argument, and I have no object but to ascertain the truth.


Their religion, like that of all other inhabitants of the island who are not Mahometans, is so obscure in its principles as scarcely to afford room to say that any exists among them. Yet they have rather more of ceremony and observance than those of Rejang or Passummah, and there is an order of persons by them called guru (a well-known Hindu term), who may be denominated priests, as they are employed in administering oaths, foretelling lucky and unlucky days, making sacrifices, and the performance of funeral rites. For a knowledge of their theogony we are indebted to M. Siberg, governor of the Dutch settlements on the coast of Sumatra, by whom the following account was communicated to the late M. Radermacher, a distinguished member of the Batavian Society, and by him published in its Transactions.


The inhabitants of this country have many fabulous stories, which shall be briefly mentioned. They acknowledge three deities as rulers of the world, who are respectively named Batara-guru, Sori-pada, and Mangalla-bulang. The first, say they, bears rule in heaven, is the father of all mankind, and partly, under the following circumstances, creator of the earth, which from the beginning of time had been supported on the head of Naga-padoha, but, growing weary at length, he shook his head, which occasioned the earth to sink, and nothing remained in the world excepting water. They do not pretend to a knowledge of the creation of this original earth and water, but say that at the period when the latter covered everything, the chief deity, Batara­guru, had a daughter named Puti-orla-bulan, who requested permission to descend to these lower regions, and accordingly came down on a white owl, accompanied by a dog; but not being able, by reason of the waters, to continue there, her father let fall from heaven a lofty mountain, named Bakarra, now situated in the Batta country, as a dwelling for his child; and from this mountain all other land gradually proceeded. The earth was once more supported on the three horns of Naga-padoha, and that he might never again suffer it to fall off Batara-guru sent his son, named Layang-layang-mandi (literally the dipping swallow) to bind him hand and foot. But to his occasionally shaking his head they ascribe the effect of earthquakes. Puti-orla-bulan had afterwards, during her residence on earth, three sons and three daughters, from whom sprang the whole human race.

The second of their deities has the rule of the air betwixt earth and heaven, and the third that of the earth; but these two are considered as subordinate to the first. Besides these they have as many inferior deities as there are sensible objects on earth, or circumstances in human society; of which some preside over the sea, others over rivers, over woods, over war, and the like. They believe likewise in four evil spirits, dwelling in four separate mountains, and whatever ill befalls them they attribute to the agency of one of these demons. On such occasions they apply to one of their cunning men, who has recourse to his art, and by cutting a lemon ascertains which of these has been the author of the mischief, and by what means the evil spirit may be propitiated; which always proves to be the sacrificing a buffalo, hog, goat, or whatever animal the wizard happens on that day to be most inclined to eat. When the address is made to any of the superior and beneficent deities for assistance, and the priest directs an offering of a horse, cow, dog, hog, or fowl, care must be taken that the animal to be sacrificed is entirely white.

They have also a vague and confused idea of the immortality of the human soul, and of a future state of happiness or misery. They say that the soul of a dying person makes its escape through the nostrils, and is borne away by the wind, to heaven, if of a person who has led a good life, but if of an evil-doer, to a great cauldron, where it shall be exposed to fire until such time as Batara-guru shall judge it to have suffered punishment proportioned to its sins, and feeling compassion shall take it to himself in heaven: that finally the time shall come when the chains and bands of Naga-padoha shall be worn away, and he shall once more allow the earth to sink, that the sun will be then no more than a cubit's distance from it, and that the souls of those who, having lived well, shall remain alive at the last day, shall in like manner go to heaven, and those of the wicked, be consigned to the before-mentioned cauldron, intensely heated by the near approach of the sun's rays, to be there tormented by a minister of Batara-guru, named Suraya-guru, until, having expiated their offences, they shall be thought worthy of reception into the heavenly regions.

To the Sanskrit scholar who shall make allowances for corrupt orthography many of these names will be familiar. For Batara he will read avatara; and in Naga-padoha he will recognise the serpent on whom Vishnu reposes.


Their ceremonies that wear most the appearance of religion are those practised on taking an oath, and at their funeral obsequies. A person accused of a crime and who asserts his innocence is in some cases acquitted upon solemnly swearing to it, but in others is obliged to undergo a kind of ordeal. A cock's throat is usually cut on the occasion by the guru. The accused then puts a little rice into his mouth (probably dry), and wishes it may become a stone if he be guilty of the crime with which he stands charged, or, holding up a musket bullet, prays it may be his fate in that case to fall in battle. In more important instances they put a small leaden or tin image into the middle of a dish of rice, garnished with those bullets; when the man, kneeling down, prays that his crop of rice may fail, his cattle die, and that he himself may never take salt (a luxury as well as necessary of life), if he does not declare the truth. These tin images may be looked upon as objects of idolatrous worship; but I could not learn that any species of adoration was paid to them on other occasions any more than to certain stone images which have been mentioned. Like the relics of saints, they are merely employed to render the form of the oath more mysterious, and thereby increase the awe with which it should be regarded.


When a raja or person of consequence dies the funeral usually occupies several months; that is, the corpse is kept unburied until the neighbouring and distant chiefs, or, in common cases, the relations and creditors of the deceased, can be convened in order to celebrate the rites with becoming dignity and respect. Perhaps the season of planting or of harvest intervenes, and these necessary avocations must be attended to before the funeral ceremonies can be concluded. The body however is in the meantime deposited in a kind of coffin. To provide this they fell a large tree (the anau in preference, because of the softness of the central part, whilst the outer coat is hard), and, having cut a portion of the stem of sufficient length, they split it in two parts, hollow each part so as to form a receptacle for the body, and then fit them exactly together. The workmen take care to sprinkle the wood with the blood of a young hog, whose flesh is given to them as a treat. The coffin being thus prepared and brought into the house the body is placed in it, with a mat beneath, and a cloth laid over it. Where the family can afford the expense it is strewed over with camphor. Having now placed the two parts in close contact they bind them together with rattans, and cover the whole with a thick coating of dammar or resin. In some instances they take the precaution of inserting a bamboo-tube into the lower part, which, passing thence through the raised floor into the ground, serves to carry off the offensive matter; so that in fact little more than the bones remain.

When the relations and friends are assembled, each of whom brings with him a buffalo, hog, goat, dog, fowl, or other article of provision, according to his ability, and the women baskets of rice, which are presented and placed in order, the feasting begins and continues for nine days and nights, or so long as the provisions hold out. On the last of these days the coffin is carried out and set in an open space, where it is surrounded by the female mourners, on their knees, with their heads covered, and howling (ululantes) in dismal concert, whilst the younger persons of the family are dancing near it, in solemn movement, to the sound of gongs, kalintangs, and a kind of flageolet; at night it is returned to the house, where the dancing and music continues, with frequent firing of guns, and on the tenth day the body is carried to the grave, preceded by the guru or priest, whose limbs are tattooed in the shape of birds and beasts, and painted of different colours,* with a large wooden mask on his face.

(*Footnote. It is remarkable that in the Bisayan language of the Philippines the term for people so marked, whom the Spaniards call pintados, is batuc. This practice is common in the islands near the coast of Sumatra, as will hereafter be noticed. It seems to have prevailed in many parts of the farther East, as Siam, Laos, and several of the islands.)

He takes a piece of buffalo-flesh, swings it about, throwing himself into violent attitudes and strange contortions, and then eats the morsel in a voracious manner. He then kills a fowl over the corpse, letting the blood run down upon the coffin, and just before it is moved both he and the female mourners, having each a broom in their hands, sweep violently about it, as if to chase away the evil spirits and prevent their joining in the procession, when suddenly four men, stationed for the purpose, lift up the coffin, and march quickly off with it, as if escaping from the fiend, the priest continuing to sweep after it for some distance. It is then deposited in the ground, without any peculiar ceremony, at the depth of three or four feet; the earth about the grave is raised, a shed built over it, further feasting takes place on the spot for an indefinite time, and the horns and jaw-bones of the buffaloes and other cattle devoured on the occasion are fastened to the posts. Mr. John and Mr. Frederick Marsden were spectators of the funeral of a raja at Tappanuli on the main. Mr. Charles Miller mentions his having been present at killing the hundred and sixth buffalo at the grave of a raja, in a part of the country where the ceremony was sometimes continued even a year after the interment; and that they seem to regard their ancestors as a kind of superior beings, attendant always upon them.


The crimes committed here against the order and peace of society are said not to be numerous. Theft amongst themselves is almost unknown, being strictly honest in their dealings with each other; but when discovered the offender is made answerable for double the value of the goods stolen. Pilfering indeed from strangers, when not restrained by the laws of hospitality, they are expert at, and think no moral offence; because they do not perceive that any ill results from it. Open robbery and murder are punishable with death if the parties are unable to redeem their lives by a sum of money. A person guilty of manslaughter is obliged to bear the expense attending the interment of the deceased and the funeral-feast given to his friends, or, if too poor to accomplish this it is required of his nearest relation, who is empowered to reimburse himself by selling the offender as a slave. In cases of double adultery the man, upon detection, is punished with death, in the manner that shall presently be described; but the woman is only disgraced, by having her head shaven and being sold for a slave, which in fact she was before. This distribution of justice must proceed upon the supposition of the females being merely passive subjects, and of the men alone possessing the faculties of free agents. A single man concerned in adultery with a married woman is banished or outlawed by his own family. The lives of culprits are in almost all cases redeemable if they or their connections possess property sufficient, the quantum being in some measure at the discretion of the injured party. At the same time it must be observed that, Europeans not being settled amongst these people upon the same footing as in the pepper-districts, we are not so well acquainted either with the principle or the practice of their laws.


The most extraordinary of the Batta customs, though certainly not peculiar to these people, remains now to be described. Many of the old travellers had furnished the world with accounts of anthropophagi or maneaters, whom they met with in all parts of the old and new world, and their relations, true or false, were in those days, when people were addicted to the marvellous, universally credited. In the succeeding ages, when a more skeptical and scrutinizing spirit prevailed, several of these asserted facts were found upon examination to be false; and men, from a bias inherent in our nature, ran into the opposite extreme. It then became established as a philosophical truth, capable almost of demonstration, that no such race of people ever did or could exist. But the varieties, inconsistencies, and contradictions of human manners are so numerous and glaring that it is scarcely possible to fix any general principle that will apply to all the incongruous races of mankind, or even to conceive an irregularity to which some or other of them have not been accustomed.


The voyages of our late famous circumnavigators, the veracity of whose assertions is unimpeachable, have already proved to the world that human flesh is eaten by the savages of New Zealand; and I can with equal confidence, from conviction of the truth, though not with equal weight of authority, assert that it is also, in these days, eaten in the island of Sumatra by the Batta people, and by them only. Whether or not the horrible custom prevailed more extensively in ancient times I cannot take upon me to ascertain, but the same historians who mention it as practised in this island, and whose accounts were undeservedly looked upon as fabulous, relate it also of many others of the eastern people, and those of the island of Java in particular, who since that period may have become more humanized.*

(*Footnote. Mention is made of the Battas and their peculiar customs by the following early writers: NICOLO DI CONTI, 1449. "In a certain part of this island (Sumatra) called Batech, the people eat human flesh. They are continually at war with their neighbours, preserve the skulls of their enemies as treasure, dispose of them as money, and he is accounted the richest man who has most of them in his house." ODOARDUS BARBOSA, 1516. "There is another kingdom to the southward, which is the principal source of gold; and another inland, called Aaru (contiguous to the Batta country) where the inhabitants are pagans, who eat human flesh, and chiefly of those they have slain in war." DE BARROS, 1563. "The natives of that part of the island which is opposite to Malacca, who are called Batas, eat human flesh, and are the most savage and warlike of all the land." BEAULIEU, 1622. "The inland people are independent, and speak a language different from the Malayan. Are idolaters, and eat human flesh; never ransom prisoners, but eat them with pepper and salt. Have no religion, but some polity." LUDOVICO BARTHEMA, in 1505, asserts that the people of Java were cannibals previously to their traffic with the Chinese.)

They do not eat human flesh as the means of satisfying the cravings of nature, for there can be no want of sustenance to the inhabitants of such a country and climate, who reject no animal food of any kind; nor is it sought after as a gluttonous delicacy.


The Battas eat it as a species of ceremony; as a mode of showing their detestation of certain crimes by an ignominious punishment; and as a savage display of revenge and insult to their unfortunate enemies. The objects of this barbarous repast are prisoners taken in war, especially if badly wounded, the bodies of the slain, and offenders condemned for certain capital crimes, especially for adultery. Prisoners unwounded (but they are not much disposed to give quarter) may be ransomed or sold as slaves where the quarrel is not too inveterate; and the convicts, there is reason to believe, rarely suffer when their friends are in circumstances to redeem them by the customary equivalent of twenty binchangs or eighty dollars. These are tried by the people of the tribe where the offence was committed, but cannot be executed until their own particular raja has been made acquainted with the sentence, who, when he acknowledges the justice of the intended punishment, sends a cloth to cover the head of the delinquent, together with a large dish of salt and lemons. The unhappy victim is then delivered into the hands of the injured party (if it be a private wrong, or in the case of a prisoner to the warriors) by whom he is tied to a stake; lances are thrown at him from a certain distance by this person, his relations, and friends; and when mortally wounded they run up to him, as if in a transport of passion, cut pieces from the body with their knives, dip them in the dish of salt, lemon-juice, and red pepper, slightly broil them over a fire prepared for the purpose, and swallow the morsels with a degree of savage enthusiasm. Sometimes (I presume, according to the degree of their animosity and resentment) the whole is devoured by the bystanders; and instances have been known where, with barbarity still aggravated, they tear the flesh from the carcase with their teeth. To such a depth of depravity may man be plunged when neither religion nor philosophy enlighten his steps! All that can be said in extenuation of the horror of this diabolical ceremony is that no view appears to be entertained of torturing the sufferers, of increasing or lengthening out the pangs of death; the whole fury is directed against the corpse, warm indeed with the remains of life, but past the sensation of pain. A difference of opinion has existed with respect to the practice of eating the bodies of their enemies actually slain in war; but subsequent inquiry has satisfied me of its being done, especially in the case of distinguished persons, or those who have been accessories to the quarrel. It should be observed that their campaigns (which may be aptly compared to the predatory excursions of our Borderers) often terminate with the loss of not more than half a dozen men on both sides. The skulls of the victims are hung up as trophies in the open buildings in front of their houses, and are occasionally ransomed by their surviving relations for a sum of money.


I have found that some persons (and among them my friend, the late Mr. Alexander Dalrymple) have entertained doubts of the reality of the fact that human flesh is anywhere eaten by mankind as a national practice, and considered the proofs hitherto adduced as insufficient to establish a point of so much moment in the history of the species. It is objected to me that I never was an eyewitness of a Batta feast of this nature, and that my authority for it is considerably weakened by coming through a second, or perhaps a third hand. I am sensible of the weight of this reasoning, and am not anxious to force any man's belief, much less to deceive him by pretences to the highest degree of certainty, when my relation can only lay claim to the next degree; but I must at the same time observe that, according to my apprehension, the refusing assent to fair, circumstantial evidence, because it clashes with a systematic opinion, is equally injurious to the cause of truth with asserting that as positive which is only doubtful. My conviction of the truth of what I have not personally seen (and we must all be convinced of facts to which neither ourselves nor those with whom we are immediately connected could ever have been witnesses) has arisen from the following circumstances, some of less, and some of greater authority. It is in the first place a matter of general and uncontroverted notoriety throughout the island, and I have conversed with many natives of the Batta country (some of them in my own service), who acknowledged the practice, and became ashamed of it after residing amongst more humanized people. It has been my chance to have had no fewer than three brothers and brothers-in-law, beside several intimate friends (of whom some are now in England), chiefs of our settlements of Natal and Tappanuli, of whose information I availed myself, and all their accounts I have found to agree in every material point. The testimony of Mr. Charles Miller, whose name, as well as that of his father, is advantageously known to the literary world, should alone be sufficient for my purpose. In addition to what he has related in his journal he has told me that at one village where he halted the suspended head of a man, whose body had been eaten a few days before, was extremely offensive; and that in conversation with some people of the Ankola district, speaking of their neighbours and occasional enemies of the Pa­dambola district, they described them as an unprincipled race, saying, "We, indeed, eat men as a punishment for their crimes and injuries to us; but they waylay and seize travellers in order to ber-bantei or cut them up like cattle." It is here obviously the admission and not the scandal that should have weight. When Mr. Giles Holloway was leaving Tappanuli and settling his accounts with the natives he expostulated with a Batta man who had been dilatory in his payment. "I would," says the man, "have been here sooner, but my pangulu (superior officer) was detected in familiarity with my wife. He was condemned, and I stayed to eat share of him; the ceremony took us up three days, and it was only last night that we finished him." Mr. Miller was present at this conversation, and the man spoke with perfect seriousness. A native of the island of Nias, who had stabbed a Batta man in a fit of frenzy at Batang-tara river, near Tappanuli bay, and endeavoured to make his escape, was, upon the alarm being given, seized at six in the morning, and before eleven, without any judicial process, was tied to a stake, cut in pieces with the utmost eagerness while yet alive, and eaten upon the spot, partly broiled, but mostly raw. His head was buried under that of the man whom he had murdered. This happened in December 1780, when Mr. William Smith had charge of the settlement. A raja was fined by Mr. Bradley for having caused a prisoner to be eaten at a place too close to the Company's settlement, and it should have been remarked that these feasts are never suffered to take place withinside their own kampongs. Mr. Alexander Hall made a charge in his public accounts of a sum paid to a raja as an inducement to him to spare a man whom he had seen preparing for a victim: and it is in fact this commendable discouragement of the practice by our government that occasions its being so rare a sight to Europeans, in a country where there are no travellers from curiosity, and where the servants of the Company, having appearances to maintain, cannot by their presence as idle spectators give a sanction to proceedings which it is their duty to discourage, although their influence is not sufficient to prevent them.

A Batta chief, named raja Niabin, in the year 1775 surprised a neighbouring kampong with which he was at enmity, killed the raja by stealth, carried off the body, and ate it. The injured family complained to Mr. Nairne, the English chief of Natal, and prayed for redress. He sent a message on the subject to Niabin, who returned an insolent and threatening answer. Mr. Nairne, influenced by his feelings rather than his judgment (for these people were quite removed from the Company's control, and our interference in their quarrels was not necessary) marched with a party of fifty or sixty men, of whom twelve were Europeans, to chastise him; but on approaching the village they found it so perfectly enclosed with growing bamboos, within which was a strong paling, that they could not even see the place or an enemy.


As they advanced however to examine the defences a shot from an unseen person struck Mr. Nairne in the breast, and he expired immediately. In him was lost a respectable gentleman of great scientific acquirements, and a valuable servant of the Company. It was with much difficulty that the party was enabled to save the body. A caffree and a Malay who fell in the struggle were afterwards eaten. Thus the experience of later days is found to agree with the uniform testimony of old writers; and although I am aware that each and every of these proofs taken singly may admit of some cavil, yet in the aggregate they will be thought to amount to satisfactory evidence that human flesh is habitually eaten by a certain class of the inhabitants of Sumatra.

That this extraordinary nation has preserved the rude genuineness of its character and manners may be attributed to various causes; as the want of the precious metals in its country to excite the rapacity of invaders or avarice of colonists, the vegetable riches of the soil being more advantageously obtained in trade from the unmolested labours of the natives; their total unacquaintance with navigation; the divided nature of their government and independence of the petty chieftains. which are circumstances unfavourable to the propagation of new opinions and customs, as the contrary state of society may account for the complete conversion of the subjects of Menangkabau to the faith of Mahomet; and lastly the ideas entertained of the ferociousness of the people from the practices above described, which may well be supposed to have damped the ardour and restrained the zealous attempts of religious innovators.



Achin (properly Acheh) is the only kingdom of Sumatra that ever arrived to such a degree of political consequence in the eyes of the western people as to occasion its transactions becoming the subject of general history. But its present condition is widely different from what it was when by its power the Portuguese were prevented from gaining a footing in the island, and its princes received embassies from all the great potentates of Europe.


Its situation occupies the north-western extreme of the island, bordering generally on the country of the Battas; but, strictly speaking, its extent, inland, reaches no farther than about fifty miles to the south­east. Along the north and eastern coast its territory was considered in 1778 as reaching to a place called Karti, not far distant from Batu­bara river, including Pidir, Samerlonga, and Pase. On the western coast, where it formerly boasted a dominion as far down as Indrapura, and possessed complete jurisdiction at Tiku, it now extends no farther than Barus; and even there, or at the intermediate ports, although the Achinese influence is predominant and its merchants enjoy the trade, the royal power seems to be little more than nominal. The interior inhabitants from Achin to Singkel are distinguished into those of Allas, Riah, and Karrau. The Achinese manners prevail among the two former; but the last resemble the Battas, from whom they are divided by a range of mountains.


The capital stands on a river which empties itself by several channels near the north-west point of the island, or Achin Head, about a league from the sea, where the shipping lies in a road rendered secure by the shelter of several islands. The depth of water on the bar being no more than four feet at low-water spring-tides, only the vessels of the country can venture to pass it; and in the dry monsoon not even those of the larger class. The town is situated on a plain, in a wide valley formed like an amphitheatre by lofty ranges of hills. It is said to be extremely populous, containing eight thousand houses, built of bamboos and rough timbers, standing distinct from each other and mostly raised on piles some feet above the ground in order to guard against the effects of inundation. The appearance of the place and nature of the buildings differ little from those of the generality of Malayan bazaars, excepting that its superior wealth has occasioned the erection of a greater number of public edifices, chiefly mosques, but without the smallest pretension to magnificence. The country above the town is highly cultivated, and abounds with small villages and groups of three or four houses, with white mosques interspersed.*

(*Footnote. The following description of the appearance of Achin, by a Jesuit missionary who touched there in his way to China in 1698, is so picturesque, and at the same time so just, that I shall make no apology for introducing it. Imaginez vous une foret de cocotiers, de bambous, d'ananas, de bagnaniers, au milieu de laquelle passe une assez belle riviere toute couverte de bateaux; mettez dans cette foret une nombre incroyable de maisons faites avec de cannes, de roseaux, des ecorces, et disposez les de telle maniere qu'elles forment tantot des rues, et tantot des quartiers separes: coupez ces divers quartiers de prairies et de bois: repandez par tout dans cette grande foret, autant d'hommes qu'on en voit dans nos villes, lorsqu'elles sont bien peuplees; vous vous formerez une idee assez juste d'Achen; et vous conviendrez qu'une ville de ce gout nouveau peut faire plaisir a des etrangers qui passent. Elle me parut d'abord comme ces paysages sortis de l'imagination d'un peintre ou d'un poete, qui rassemble sous un coup d'oeil, tout ce que la campagne a de plus riant. Tout est neglige et naturel, champetre et meme un peu sauvage. Quand on est dans la rade, on n'appercoit aucun vestige, ni aucune apparence de ville, parceque des grands arbres qui bordent le rivage en cachent toutes les maisons; mais outre le paysage qui est tres beau, rien n'est plus agreable que de voir de matin un infinite de petits bateaux de pecheurs qui sortent de la riviere avec le jour, et qui ne rentrent que le soir, lorsque le soleil se couche. Vous diriez un essaim d'abeilles qui reviennent a la cruche chargees du fruit de leur travail. Lettres Edifiantes Tome 1. For a more modern account of this city I beg leave to refer the reader to Captain Thomas Forrest's Voyage to the Mergui Archipelago pages 38 to 60, where he will find a lively and natural description of everything worthy of observation in the place, with a detail of the circumstances attending his own reception at the court, illustrated with an excellent plate.)

The king's palace, if it deserves the appellation, is a very rude and uncouth piece of architecture, designed to resist the attacks of internal enemies, and surrounded for that purpose with a moat and strong walls, but without any regular plan, or view to the modern system of military defence.*

(*Footnote. Near the gate of the palace are several pieces of brass ordnance of an extraordinary size, of which some are Portuguese; but two in particular, of English make, attract curiosity. They were sent by king James the first to the reigning monarch of Acheen, and have still the founder's name and the date legible upon them. The diameter of the bore of one is eighteen inches; of the other twenty-two or twenty-four. Their strength however does not appear to be in proportion to the calibre, nor do they seem in other respects to be of adequate dimensions. James, who abhorred bloodshed himself, was resolved that his present should not be the instrument of it to others.)


The air is esteemed comparatively healthy, the country being more free from woods and stagnant water than most other parts; and fevers and dysenteries, to which these local circumstances are supposed to give occasion, are there said to be uncommon. But this must not be too readily credited; for the degree of insalubrity attending situations in that climate is known so frequently to alter, from inscrutable causes, that a person who has resided only two or three years on a spot cannot pretend to form a judgment; and the natives, from a natural partiality, are always ready to extol the healthiness, as well as other imputed advantages, of their native places.


The Achinese differ much in their persons from the other Sumatrans, being in general taller, stouter, and of darker complexions. They are by no means in their present state a genuine people, but thought, with great appearance of reason, to be a mixture of Battas and Malays, with chulias, as they term the natives of the west of India, by whom their ports have in all ages been frequented. In their dispositions they are more active and industrious than some of their neighbours; they possess more sagacity, have more knowledge of other countries, and as merchants they deal upon a more extensive and liberal footing. But this last observation applies rather to the traders at a distance from the capital and to their transactions than to the conduct observed at Achin, which, according to the temper and example of the reigning monarch, is often narrow, extortionary, and oppressive. Their language is one of the general dialects of the eastern islands, and its affinity to the Batta may be observed in the comparative table; but they make use of the Malayan character. In religion they are Mahometans, and having many priests, and much intercourse with foreigners of the same faith, its forms and ceremonies are observed with some strictness.


Although no longer the great mart of eastern commodities, Achin still carries on a considerable trade, as well with private European merchants as with the natives of that part of the coast of India called Telinga, which is properly the country lying between the Kistna and Godavery rivers; but the name, corrupted by the Malays to Kling, is commonly applied to the whole coast of Coromandel. These supply it with salt, cotton piece-goods, principally those called long-cloth white and blue, and chintz with dark grounds; receiving in return gold-dust, raw silk of inferior quality, betel-nut, patch-leaf (Melissa lotoria, called dilam by the Malays) pepper, sulphur, camphor, and benzoin. The two latter are carried thither from the river of Sungkel, where they are procured from the country of the Battas, and the pepper from Pidir; but this article is also exported from Susu to the amount of about two thousand tons annually, where it sells at the rate of twelve dollars the pikul, chiefly for gold and silver. The quality is not esteemed good, being gathered before it is sufficiently ripe, and it is not cleaned like the Company's pepper. The Americans have been of late years the chief purchasers. The gold collected at Achin comes partly from the mountains in the neighbourhood but chiefly from Nalabu and Susu. Its commerce, independently of that of the out-ports, gives employment to from eight to ten Kling vessels, of a hundred and fifty or two hundred tons burden, which arrive annually from Porto Novo and Coringa about the month of August, and sail again in February and March. These are not permitted to touch at any places under the king's jurisdiction, on the eastern or western coast, as it would be injurious to the profits of his trade, as well as to his revenue from the customs and from the presents exacted on the arrival of vessels, and for which his officers at those distant places would not account with him. It must be understood that the king of Achin, as is usual with the princes of this part of the world, is the chief merchant of his capital, and endeavours to be, to the utmost of his power, the monopolizer of its trade; but this he cannot at all times effect, and the attempt has been the cause of frequent rebellions. There is likewise a ship or two from Surat every year, the property of native merchants there. The country is supplied with opium, taffetas, and muslins from Bengal, and also with iron and many other articles of merchandise, by the European traders.


The soil being light and fertile produces abundance of rice, esculent vegetables, much cotton, and the finest tropical fruits. Both the mango and mangustin are said to be of excellent quality. Cattle and other articles of provision are in plenty, and reasonable in price. The plough is there drawn by oxen, and the general style of cultivation shows a skill in agriculture superior to what is seen in other parts of the island.


Those few arts and manufactures which are known in other parts of the island prevail likewise here, and some of them are carried to more perfection. A considerable fabric of a thick species of cotton cloth, and of striped or chequered stuff for the short drawers worn both by Malays and Achinese, is established here, and supplies an extensive foreign demand, particularly in the Rau country, where they form part of the dress of the women as well as men. They weave also very handsome and rich silk pieces, of a particular form, for that part of the body­dress which the Malays call kain-sarong; but this manufacture had much decreased at the period when my inquiries were made, owing, as the people said, to an unavoidable failure in the breed of silkworms, but more probably to the decay of industry amongst themselves, proceeding from their continual civil disturbances.


They are expert and bold navigators, and employ a variety of vessels according to the voyages they have occasion to undertake, and the purposes either of commerce or war for which they design them. The river is covered with a number of small fishing vessels which go to sea with the morning breeze and return in the afternoon with the sea-wind, full laden. These are named koleh, are raised about two streaks on a sampan bottom, have one mast and an upright or square sail, but long in proportion to its breadth, which rolls up. These sometimes make their appearance so far to the southward as Bencoolen. The banting is a trading vessel, of a larger class, having two masts, with upright sails like the former, rising at the stem and stern, and somewhat resembling a Chinese junk, excepting in its size. They have also very long narrow boats, with two masts, and double or single outriggers, called balabang and jalor. These are chiefly used as war-boats, mount guns of the size of swivels, and carry a number of men. For representations of various kinds of vessels employed by these eastern people the reader is referred to the plates in Captain Forrest's two voyages.


They have a small thin adulterated gold coin, rudely stamped with Arabic characters, called mas or massiah. Its current value is said to be about fifteen, and its intrinsic about twelve pence, or five Madras fanams. Eighty of these are equal to the bangkal, of which twenty make a katti. The tail, here an imaginary valuation, is one-fifth of the bang­kal, and equal to sixteen mas. The small leaden money, called pitis or cash, is likewise struck here for the service of the bazaar; but neither these nor the former afford any convenience to the foreign trader. Dollars and rupees pass current, and most other species of coin are taken at a valuation; but payments are commonly made in gold dust, and for that purpose everyone is provided with small scales or steelyards, called daching. They carry their gold about them, wrapped in small pieces of bladder (or rather the integument of the heart), and often make purchases to so small an amount as to employ grains of padi or other seeds for weights.


The monarchy is hereditary, and is more or less absolute in proportion to the talents of the reigning prince; no other bounds being set to his authority than the counterbalance or check it meets with from the power of the great vassals, and disaffection of the commonalty. But this resistance is exerted in so irregular a manner, and with so little view to the public good, that nothing like liberty results from it. They experience only an alternative of tyranny and anarchy, or the former under different shapes. Many of the other Sumatran people are in the possession of a very high degree of freedom, founded upon a rigid attachment to their old established customs and laws. The king usually maintains a guard of a hundred sepoys (from the Coromandel coast) about his palace, but pays them indifferently.

The grand council of the nation consists of the king or Sultan, the maharaja, laksamana, paduka tuan, and bandhara. Inferior in rank to these are the ulubalangs or military champions, among whom are several gradations of rank, who sit on the king's right hand, and other officers named kajuran, who sit on his left. At his feet sits a woman, to whom he makes known his pleasure: by her it is communicated to a eunuch, who sits next to her, and by him to an officer, named Kajuran Gondang, who then proclaims it aloud to the assembly. There are also present two other officers, one of whom has the government of the Bazaar or market, and the other the superintending and carrying into execution the punishment of criminals. All matters relative to commerce and the customs of the port come under the jurisdiction of the Shabandar, who performs the ceremony of giving the chap or licence for trade; which is done by lifting a golden-hafted kris over the head of the merchant who arrives, and without which he dares not to land his goods. Presents, the value of which are become pretty regularly ascertained, are then sent to the king and his officers. If the stranger be in the style of an ambassador the royal elephants are sent down to carry him and his letters to the monarch's presence; these being first delivered into the hands of a eunuch, who places them in a silver dish, covered with rich silk, on the back of the largest elephant, which is provided with a machine (houdar) for that purpose. Within about a hundred yards of an open hall where the king sits the cavalcade stops, and the ambassador dismounts and makes his obeisance by bending his body and lifting his joined hands to his head. When he enters the palace, if a European, he is obliged to take off his shoes, and having made a second obeisance is seated upon a carpet on the floor, where betel is brought to him. The throne was some years ago of ivory and tortoiseshell; and when the place was governed by queens a curtain of gauze was hung before it, which did not obstruct the audience, but prevented any perfect view. The stranger, after some general discourse, is then conducted to a separate building, where he is entertained with the delicacies of the country by the officers of state, and in the evening returns in the manner he came, surrounded by a prodigious number of lights. On high days (ari raya) the king goes in great state, mounted on an elephant richly caparisoned, to the great mosque, preceded by his ulubalangs, who are armed nearly in the European manner.


The whole kingdom is divided into certain small districts or communities, called mukim, which seem to be equivalent to our parishes, and their number is reckoned at one hundred and ninety, of which seventy­three are situated in the valley of Achin. Of these last are formed three larger districts, named Duo-puluh duo (twenty-two), Duo-puluh-limo (twenty-five), and Duo-puluh-anam (twenty-six), from the number of mukims they respectively contain; each of which is governed by a panglima or provincial governor, with an imam and four pangichis for the service of each mosque. The country is extremely populous; but the computations with which I have been furnished exceed so far all probability that I do not venture to insert them.


The regular tax or imposition to which the country is subject, for the use of the crown, is one koyan (about eight hundred gallons) of padi from each mukim, with a bag of rice, and about the value of one Spanish dollar and a half in money, from each proprietor of a house, to be delivered at the king's store in person, in return for which homage he never fails to receive nearly an equivalent in tobacco or some other article. On certain great festivals presents of cattle are made to the king by the orang-kayas or nobles; but it is from the import and export customs on merchandise that the revenue of the crown properly arises, and which of course fluctuates considerably. What Europeans pay is between five and six per cent, but the Kling merchants are understood to be charged with much higher duties; in the whole not less than fifteen, of which twelve in the hundred are taken out of the bales in the first instance, a disparity they are enabled to support by the provident and frugal manner in which they purchase their investments, the cheap rate at which they navigate their vessels, and the manner of retailing their goods to the natives. These sources of wealth are independent of the profit derived from the trade, which is managed for his master by a person who is styled the king's merchant. The revenues of the nobles accrue from taxes which they lay, as feudal lords, upon the produce of the land cultivated by their vassals. At Pidir a measure of rice is paid for every measure of padi sown, which amounts to about a twentieth part. At Nalabu there is a capitation tax of a dollar a year; and at various places on the inland roads there are tolls collected upon provisions and goods which pass to the capital.


The kings of Achin possess a grant of territory along the sea-coast as far down as Bencoolen from the sultan of Menangkabau, whose superiority has always been admitted by them, and will be perhaps so long as he claims no authority over them, and exacts neither tribute nor homage.


Achin has ever been remarkable for the severity with which crimes are punished by their laws; the same rigour still subsists, and there is no commutation admitted, as is regularly established in the southern countries. There is great reason however to conclude that the poor alone experience the rod of justice; the nobles being secure from retribution in the number of their dependants. Petty theft is punished by suspending the criminal from a tree, with a gun or heavy weight tied to his feet; or by cutting off a finger, a hand, or leg, according to the nature of the theft. Many of these mutilated and wretched objects are daily to be seen in the streets. Robbery, on the highway and housebreaking, are punished by drowning, and afterwards exposing the body on a stake for a few days. If the robbery is committed upon an imam or priest the sacrilege is expiated by burning the criminal alive. A man who is convicted of adultery or rape is seldom attempted to be screened by his friends, but is delivered up to the friends and relations of the injured husband or father. These take him to some large plain and, forming themselves in a circle, place him in the middle. A large weapon, called a gadubong, is then delivered to him by one of his family, and if he can force his way through those who surround him and make his escape he is not liable to further prosecution; but it commonly happens that he is instantly cut to pieces. In this case his relations bury him as they would a dead buffalo, refusing to admit the corpse into their house, or to perform any funeral rites. Would it not be reasonable to conclude that the Achinese, with so much discouragement to vice both from law and prejudice, must prove a moral and virtuous people? yet all travellers agree in representing them as one of the most dishonest and flagitious nations of the East, which the history of their government will tend to corroborate.




The Portuguese, under the conduct of Vasco de Gama, doubled the Cape of Good Hope in the year 1497, and arrived on the coast of Malabar in the following year. These people, whom the spirit of glory, commerce, and plunder led to the most magnanimous undertakings, were not so entirely engaged by their conquests on the continent of India as to prevent them from extending their views to the discovery of regions yet more distant. They learned from the merchants of Guzerat some account of the riches and importance of Malacca, a great trading city in the farther peninsula of India, supposed by them the Golden Chersonnese of Ptolemy. Intelligence of this was transmitted to their enterprising sovereign Emanuel, who became impressed with a strong desire to avail himself of the flattering advantages which this celebrated country held out to his ambition.


He equipped a fleet of four ships under the command of Diogo Lopez de Sequeira, which sailed from Lisbon on the eighth day of April 1508 with orders to explore and establish connexions in those eastern parts of Asia.


After touching at Madagascar Sequeira proceeded to Cochin, where a ship was added to his fleet, and, departing from thence on the eighth of September 1509, he made sail towards Malacca; but having doubled the extreme promontory of Sumatra (then supposed to be the Taprobane of the ancients) he anchored at Pidir, a principal port of that island, in which he found vessels from Pegu, Bengal, and other countries. The king of the place, who, like other Mahometan princes, was styled sultan, sent off a deputation to him, accompanied with refreshments, excusing himself, on account of illness, from paying his compliments in person, but assuring him at the same time that he should derive much pleasure from the friendship and alliance of the Portuguese, whose fame had reached his ears. Sequeira answered this message in such terms that, by consent of the sultan, a monument of their amity was erected on the shore; or, more properly, as the token of discovery and possession usually employed by the European nations. He was received in the same manner at a place called Pase, lying about twenty leagues farther to the eastward on the same coast, and there also erected a monument or cross. Having procured at each of these ports as much pepper as could be collected in a short time he hastened to Malacca, where the news of his appearance in these seas had anticipated his arrival. Here he was near falling a sacrifice to the insidious policy of Mahmud, the reigning king, to whom the Portuguese had been represented by the Arabian and Persian merchants (and not very unjustly) as lawless pirates, who, under the pretext of establishing commercial treaties, had, at first by encroachments, and afterwards with insolent rapacity, ruined and enslaved the princes who were weak enough to put a confidence in them, or to allow them a footing in their dominions. He escaped the snares that were laid for him but lost many of his people, and, leaving others in captivity, he returned to Europe, and gave an account of his proceedings to the king.


A fleet was sent out in the year 1510 under Diogo Mendez to establish the Portuguese interests at Malacca; but Affonso d'Alboquerque, the governor of their affairs in India, thought proper to detain this squadron on the coast of Malabar until he could proceed thither himself with a greater force.


And accordingly on the second of May 1511 he set sail from Cochin with nineteen ships and fourteen hundred men. He touched at Pidir, where he found some of his countrymen who had made their escape from Malacca in a boat and sought protection on the Sumatran shore. They represented that, arriving off Pase, they had been ill-treated by the natives, who killed one of their party and obliged them to fly to Pidir, where they met with hospitality and kindness from the prince, who seemed desirous to conciliate the regard of their nation. Alboquerque expressed himself sensible of this instance of friendship, and renewed with the sultan the alliance that had been formed by Sequeira. He then proceeded to Pase, whose monarch endeavoured to exculpate himself from the outrage committed against the Portuguese fugitives, and as he could not tarry to take redress he concealed his resentment. In crossing over to Malacca he fell in with a large junk, or country vessel, which he engaged and attempted to board, but the enemy, setting fire to a quantity of inflammable oleaginous matter, he was deterred from his design, with a narrow escape of the destruction of his own ship. The junk was then battered from a distance until forty of her men were killed, when Alboquerque, admiring the bravery of the crew, proposed to them that, if they would strike and acknowledge themselves vassals of Portugal, he would treat them as friends and take them under his protection. This offer was accepted, and the valiant defender of the vessel informed the governor that his name was Jeinal, the lawful heir of the kingdom of Pase; he by whom it was then ruled being a usurper, who, taking advantage of his minority and his own situation as regent, had seized the crown: that he had made attempts to assert his rights, but had been defeated in two battles, and was now proceeding with his adherents to Java, some of the princes of which were his relations, and would, he hoped, enable him to obtain possession of his throne.


Alboquerque promised to effect it for him, and desired the prince to accompany him to Malacca, where they arrived the first of July 1511. In order to save the lives of the Portuguese prisoners, and if possible to effect their recovery, he negotiated with the king of Malacca before he proceeded to an attack on the place; which conduct of his Jeinal construed into fear, and, forsaking his new friend, passed over in the night to the Malayan monarch, whose protection he thought of more consequence to him. When Alboquerque had subdued the place, which made a vigorous resistance, the prince of Pase, seeing the error of his policy, returned, and threw himself at the governor's feet, acknowledged his injurious mistrust, and implored his pardon, which was not denied him. He doubted however it seems of a sincere reconciliation and forgiveness, and, perceiving that no measures were taking for restoring him to his kingdom, but on the contrary that Alboquerque was preparing to leave Malacca with a small force, and talked of performing his promise when he should return from Goa, he took the resolution of again attaching himself to the fortunes of the conquered monarch, and secretly collecting his dependants fled once more from the protection of the Portuguese. He probably was not insensible that the reigning king of Pase, his adversary, had for some time taken abundant pains to procure the favour of Alboquerque, and found an occasion of demonstrating his zeal. The governor, on his return from Malacca, met with a violent storm on the coast of Sumatra near the point of Timiang, where his ship was wrecked. Part of the crew making a raft were driven to Pase, where the king treated them with kindness and sent them to the coast of Coromandel by a merchant ship. Some years after these events Jeinal was enabled by his friends to carry a force to Pase, and obtained the ascendency there, but did not long enjoy his power.

Upon the reduction of Malacca the governor received messages from several of the Sumatran princes, and amongst the rest from the king of a place called Kampar, on the eastern coast, who had married a daughter of the king of Malacca, but was on ill terms with his father-in-law. He desired to become a vassal of the Portuguese crown, and to have leave to reside under their jurisdiction. His view was to obtain the important office of bandhara, or chief magistrate of the Malays, lately vacant by the execution of him who possessed it. He sent before him a present of lignum-aloes and gum-lac, the produce of his country, but Alboquerque, suspecting the honesty of his intentions, and fearing that he either aspired to the crown of Malacca or designed to entice the merchants to resort to his own kingdom, refused to permit his coming, and gave the superintendence of the natives to a person named Nina Chetuan.


After some years had elapsed, at the time when Jorge Alboquerque was governor of Malacca, this king (Abdallah by name) persisting in his views, paid him a visit, and was honourably received. At his departure he had assurances given him of liberty to establish himself at Malacca, if he should think proper, and Nina Chetuan was shortly afterwards removed from his office, though no fault was alleged against him. He took the disgrace so much to heart that, causing a pile to be erected before his door, and setting fire to it, he threw himself into the flames.*

(*Footnote. This man was not a Mahometan but one of the unconverted natives of the peninsula who are always distinguished from the Moors by the Portuguese writers.)

The intention of appointing Abdallah to the office of bandhara was quickly rumoured abroad, and, coming to the knowledge of the king of Bintang, who was driven from Malacca and now carried on a vigorous war against the Portuguese, under the command of the famous Laksamana, he resolved to prevent his arrival there. For this purpose he leagued himself with the king of Lingga, a neighbouring island, and sent out a fleet of seventy armed boats to block up the port of Kampar. By the valour of a small Portuguese armament this force was overcome in the river of that name, and the king conducted in triumph to Malacca, where he was invested in form with the important post he aspired to. But this sacrifice of his independence proved an unfortunate measure to him; for although he conducted himself in such a manner as should have given the amplest satisfaction, and appears to have been irreproachable in the execution of his trust, yet in the following year the king of Bintang found means to inspire the governor with diffidence of his fidelity, and jealousy of his power.


He was cruelly sentenced to death without the simplest forms of justice and perished in the presence of an indignant multitude, whilst he called heaven to witness his innocence and direct its vengeance against his interested accusers. This iniquitous and impolitic proceeding had such an effect upon the minds of the people that all of any property or repute forsook the place, execrating the government of the Portuguese. The consequences of this general odium reduced them to extreme difficulties for provisions, which the neighbouring countries refused to supply them with, and but for some grain at length procured from Siak with much trouble the event had proved fatal to the garrison.


Fernando Perez d'Andrade, in his way to China, touched at Pase in order to take in pepper. He found the people of the place, as well as the merchants from Bengal, Cambay, and other parts of India, much discontented with the measures then pursuing by the government of Malacca, which had stationed an armed force to oblige all vessels to resort thither with their merchandise and take in at that place, as an emporium, the cargoes they were used to collect in the straits. The king notwithstanding received Andrade well, and consented that the Portuguese should have liberty to erect a fortress in his kingdom.


Extraordinary accounts having been related of certain islands abounding in gold, which were reported by the general fame of India to lie off the southern coast of Sumatra, a ship and small brigantine, under the command of Diogo Pacheco, an experienced seaman, were sent in order to make the discovery of them. Having proceeded as far as Daya the brigantine was lost in a gale of wind. Pacheco stood on to Barus, a place renowned for its gold trade, and for gum benzoin of a peculiar scent, which the country produced. It was much frequented by vessels, both from the neighbouring ports in the island, and from those in the West of India, whence it was supplied with cotton cloths. The merchants, terrified at the approach of the Portuguese, forsook their ships and fled precipitately to the shore. The chiefs of the country sent to inquire the motives of his visit, which he informed them were to establish friendly connexions and to give them assurances of unmolested freedom of trade at the city of Malacca. Refreshments were then ordered for his fleet, and upon landing he was treated with respect by the inhabitants, who brought the articles of their country to exchange with him for merchandise. His chief view was to obtain information respecting the situation and other circumstances of the ilhas d'Ouro, but they seemed jealous of imparting any. At length, after giving him a laboured detail of the dangers attending the navigation of the seas where they were said to lie, they represented their situation to be distant a hundred leagues to the south-east of Barus, amidst labyrinths of shoals and reefs through which it was impossible to steer with any but the smallest boats. If these islands, so celebrated about this time, existed anywhere but in the regions of fancy,* they were probably those of Tiku, to which it is possible that much gold might be brought from the neighbouring country of Menangkabau. Pacheco, leaving Barus, proceeded to the southward, but did not make the wished-for discovery. He reached the channel that divides Sumatra from Java, which he called the strait of Polimban, from a city he erroneously supposed to lie on the Javan shore, and passing through this returned to Malacca by the east; being the first European who sailed round the island of Sumatra. In the following year he sailed once more in search of these islands, which were afterwards the object of many fruitless voyages; but touching again at Barus he met with resistance there and perished with all his companions.

(*Footnote. Linschoten makes particular mention of having seen them, and gives practical directions for the navigation, but the golden dreams of the Portuguese were never realized in them.)

A little before this time a ship under the command of Gaspar d'Acosta was lost on the island of Gamispola (Pulo Gomez) near Achin Head, when the people from Achin attacked and plundered the crew, killing many and taking the rest prisoners. A ship also which belonged to Joano de Lima was plundered in the road, and the Portuguese which belonged to her put to death. These insults and others committed at Pase induced the governor of Malacca, Garcia de Sa, to dispatch a vessel under Manuel Pacheco to take satisfaction; which he endeavoured to effect by blocking up the ports, and depriving the towns of all sources of provision, particularly their fisheries. As he cruised between Achin and Pase a boat with five men, going to take in fresh water at a river nigh to the latter, would have been cut off had not the people, by wonderful efforts of valour, overcome the numerous party which attacked them. The sultan, alarmed for the consequences of this affray, sent immediately to sue for reconciliation, offering to make atonement for the loss of property the merchants had sustained by the licentiousness of his people, from a participation in whose crimes he sought to vindicate himself. The advantage derived from the connexion with this place induced the government of Malacca to be satisfied with his apology, and cargoes of pepper and raw silk were shortly after procured there; the former being much wanted for the ships bound to China.

Jeinal, who had fled to the king of Malacca, as before mentioned, followed that monarch to the island of Bintang, and received one of his daughters in marriage. Six or seven years elapsed before the situation of affairs enabled the king to lend him any effectual assistance, but at length some advantages gained over the Portuguese afforded a proper opportunity, and accordingly a fleet was fitted out, with which Jeinal sailed for Pase. In order to form a judgment of the transactions of this kingdom it must be understood that the people, having an idea of predestination, always conceived present possession to constitute right, however that possession might have been acquired; but yet they made no scruple of deposing and murdering their sovereigns, and justified their acts by this argument; that the fate of concerns so important as the lives of kings was in the hands of God, whose vicegerents they were, and that if it was not agreeable to him and the consequence of his will that they should perish by the daggers of their subjects it could not so happen. Thus it appears that their religious ideas were just strong enough to banish from their minds every moral sentiment. The natural consequence of these maxims was that their kings were merely the tyrants of the day; and it is said that whilst a certain ship remained in the port no less than two were murdered, and a third set up: but allowance should perhaps be made for the medium through which these accounts have been transmitted to us.

The maternal uncle of Jeinal, who, on account of his father's infirmities, had been some time regent, and had deprived him of the succession to the throne, was also king of Aru or Rou, a country not far distant, and thus became monarch of both places. The caprices of the Pase people, who submitted quietly to his usurpation, rendered them ere long discontented with his government, and being a stranger they had the less compunction in putting him to death. Another king was set up in his room, who soon fell by the hands of some natives of Aru who resided at Pase, in revenge for the assassination of their countryman.


A fresh monarch was elected by the people, and in his reign it was that Jeinal appeared with a force from Bintang, who, carrying everything before him, put his rival to death, and took possession of the throne. The son of the deceased, a youth of about twelve years of age, made his escape, accompanied by the Mulana or chief priest of the city, and procured a conveyance to the west of India. There they threw themselves at the feet of the Portuguese governor, Lopez Sequeira, then engaged in an expedition to the Red Sea, imploring his aid to drive the invader from their country, and to establish the young prince in his rights, who would thenceforth consider himself as a vassal of the crown of Portugal. It was urged that Jeinal, as being nearly allied to the king of Bintang, was an avowed enemy to that nation, which he had manifested in some recent outrages committed against the merchants from Malacca who traded at Pase. Sequeira, partly from compassion, and partly from political motives, resolved to succour this prince, and by placing him on the throne establish a firm interest in the affairs of his kingdom. He accordingly gave orders to Jorge Alboquerque, who was then proceeding with a strong fleet towards Malacca, to take the youth with him, whose name was Orfacam,* and after having expelled Jeinal to put him in possession of the sovereignty.

(*Footnote. Evidently corrupted, as are most of the country names and titles, which shows that the Portuguese were not at this period much conversant in the Malayan language.)

When Jeinal entered upon the administration of the political concerns of the kingdom, although he had promised his father-in-law to carry on the war in concert with him, yet, being apprehensive of the effects of the Portuguese power, he judged it more for his interest to seek a reconciliation with them than to provoke their resentment, and in pursuance of that system had so far recommended himself to Garcia de Sa, the governor of Malacca, that he formed a treaty of alliance with him. This was however soon interrupted, and chiefly by the imprudence of a man named Diogo Vaz, who made use of such insulting language to the king, because he delayed payment of a sum of money he owed him, that the courtiers, seized with indignation, immediately stabbed him with their krises, and, the alarm running through the city, others of the Portuguese were likewise murdered. The news of this affair, reaching Goa, was an additional motive for the resolution taken of dethroning him.


Jorge d'Alboquerque arrived at Pase in 1521 with Prince Orfacam, and the inhabitants came off in great numbers to welcome his return. The king of Aru had brought thither a considerable force the preceding day, designing to take satisfaction for the murder of his relation, the uncle of Jeinal, and now proposed to Alboquerque that they should make the attack in conjunction, who thought proper to decline it. Jeinal, although he well knew the intention of the enemy, yet sent a friendly message to Alboquerque, who in answer required him to relinquish his crown in favour of him whom he styled the lawful prince. He then represented to him the injustice of attempting to force him from the possession of what was his, not only by right of conquest but of hereditary descent, as was well known to the governor himself; that he was willing to consider himself as the vassal of the king of Portugal, and to grant every advantage in point of trade that they could expect from the administration of his rival; and that since his obtaining the crown he had manifested the utmost friendship to the Portuguese, for which he appealed to the treaty formed with him by the government of Malacca, which was not disturbed by any fault that could in justice be imputed to himself. These arguments, like all others that pass between states which harbour inimical designs, had no effect upon Alboquerque, who, after reconnoitring the ground, gave orders for the attack. The king was now sensible that there was nothing left for him but to conquer or die, and resolved to defend himself to extremity in an entrenchment he had formed at some distance from the town of Pase, where he had never yet ventured to reside as the people were in general incensed against him on account of the destruction of the late king of their choice; for though they were ever ready to demolish those whom they disliked, yet were they equally zealous to sacrifice their own lives in the cause of those to whom they were attached. The Portuguese force consisted but of three hundred men, yet such was the superiority they possessed in war over the inhabitants of these countries that they entirely routed Jeinal's army, which amounted to three thousand, with many elephants, although they fought bravely. When he fell they became dispirited, and, the people of Aru joining in the pursuit, a dreadful slaughter succeeded, and upwards of two thousand Sumatrans lay dead, with the loss of only five or six Europeans; but several were wounded, among whom was Alboquerque himself.

The next measure was to place the young prince upon the throne, which was performed with much ceremony. The mulana was appointed his governor, and Nina Cunapan, who in several instances had shown a friendship for the Portuguese, was continued in the office of Shabandar. It was stipulated that the prince should do homage to the crown of Portugal, give a grant of the whole produce of pepper of his country at a certain price, and defray the charges of a fortress which they then prepared to erect in his kingdom, and of which Miranda d'Azeuedo was appointed captain, with a garrison of a hundred soldiers. The materials were mostly timber, with which the ruins of Jeinal's entrenchment supplied them. After Alboquerque's departure the works had nearly fallen into the hands of an enemy, named Melek-el-adil, who called himself sultan of Pase and made several desultory attacks upon them; but he was at length totally routed, and the fortifications were completed without further molestation.


A fleet which sailed from the west of India a short time after that of Alboquerque, under the command of Jorge de Brito, anchored in the road of Achin, in their way to the Molucca Islands. There was at this time at that place a man of the name of Joano Borba, who spoke the language of the country, having formerly fled thither from Pase when Diogo Vaz was assassinated. Being afterwards intrusted with the command of a trading vessel from Goa, which foundered at sea, he again reached Achin, with nine men in a small boat, and was hospitably received by the king, when he learned that the ship had been destined to his port. Borba came off to the fleet along with a messenger sent by the king to welcome the commander and offer him refreshments for his fleet, and, being a man of extraordinary loquacity, he gave a pompous description to Brito of a temple in the country in which was deposited a large quantity of gold: he mentioned likewise that the king was in possession of the artillery and merchandise of Gaspar d'Acosta's vessel, some time since wrecked there; and also of the goods saved from a brigantine driven on shore at Daya, in Pacheco's expedition; as well as of Joano de Lima's ship, which he had caused to be cut off. Brito, being tempted by the golden prize, which he conceived already in his power, and inflamed by Borba's representation of the king's iniquities, sent a message in return to demand the restitution of the artillery, ship, and goods, which had been unlawfully seized. The king replied that, if he wanted those articles to be refunded, he must make his demand to the sea which had swallowed them up. Brito and his captains now resolved to proceed to an attack upon the place, and so secure did they make themselves of their prey that they refused permission to a ship lately arrived, and which did not belong to their squadron, to join them or participate in the profits of their adventure. They prepared to land two hundred men in small boats; a larger, with a more considerable detachment and their artillery, being ordered to follow. About daybreak they had proceeded halfway up the river, and came near to a little fort designed to defend the passage, where Brito thought it advisable to stop till the remainder of their force should join them; but, being importuned by his people, he advanced to make himself master of the fort, which was readily effected. Here he again resolved to make his stand, but by the imprudence of his ensign, who had drawn some of the party into a skirmish with the Achinese, he was forced to quit that post in order to save his colours, which were in danger. At this juncture the king appeared at the head of eight hundred or a thousand men, and six elephants. A desperate conflict ensued, in which the Portuguese received considerable injury. Brito sent orders for the party he had left to come up, and endeavoured to retreat to the fort, but he found himself so situated that it could not be executed without much loss, and presently after he received a wound from an arrow through the cheeks. No assistance arriving, it was proposed that they should retire in the best manner they could to their boats; but this Brito would not consent to, preferring death to flight, and immediately a lance pierced his thighs, and he fell to the ground. The Portuguese, rendered desperate, renewed the combat with redoubled vigour, all crowding to the spot where their commander lay, but their exertions availed them nothing against such unequal force, and they only rushed on to sacrifice. Almost every man was killed, and among these were near fifty persons of family who had embarked as volunteers. Those who escaped belonged chiefly to the corps-de-reserve, who did not, or could not, come up in time to succour their unfortunate companions. Upon this merited defeat the squadron immediately weighed anchor, and, after falling in with two vessels bound on the discovery of the Ilhas d'Ouro, arrived at Pase, where they found Alboquerque employed in the construction of his fortress, and went with him to make an attack on Bintang.


At the period when Malacca fell into the hands of the Portuguese Achin and Daya are said by the historians of that nation to have been provinces subject to Pidir, and governed by two slaves belonging to the sultan of that place, to each of whom he had given a niece in marriage. Slaves, it must be understood, are in that country on a different footing from those in most other parts of the world, and usually treated as children of the family. Some of them are natives of the continent of India, whom their masters employ to trade for them; allowing them a certain proportion of the profits and permission to reside in a separate quarter of the city. It frequently happened also that men of good birth, finding it necessary to obtain the protection of some person in power, became voluntary slaves for this purpose, and the nobles, being proud of such dependants, encouraged the practice by treating them with a degree of respect, and in many instances they made them their heirs. The slave of this description who held the government of Achin had two sons, the elder of whom was named Raja Ibrahim, and the younger Raja Lella, and were brought up in the house of their master. The father being old was recalled from his post; but on account of his faithful services the sultan gave the succession to his eldest son, who appears to have been a youth of an ambitious and very sanguinary temper. A jealousy had taken place between him and the chief of Daya whilst they were together at Pidir, and as soon as he came into power he resolved to seek revenge, and with that view entered in a hostile manner the district of his rival. When the sultan interposed it not only added fuel to his resentment but inspired him with hatred towards his master, and he showed his disrespect by refusing to deliver up, on the requisition of the sultan, certain Portuguese prisoners taken from a vessel lost at Pulo Gomez, and which he afterwards complied with at the intercession of the Shabandar of Pase. This conduct manifesting an intention of entirely throwing off his allegiance, his father endeavoured to recall him to a sense of his duty by representing the obligations in which the family were indebted to the sultan, and the relationship which so nearly connected them. But so far was this admonition from producing any good effect that he took offence at his father's presumption, and ordered him to be confined in a cage, where he died.


Irritated by these acts, the sultan resolved to proceed to extremities against him; but by means of the plunder of some Portuguese vessels, as before related, and the recent defeat of Brito's party, he became so strong in artillery and ammunition, and so much elated with success, that he set his master at defiance and prepared to defend himself. His force proved superior to that of Pidir, and in the end he obliged the sultan to fly for refuge and assistance to the European fortress at Pase, accompanied by his nephew, the chief of Daya, who was also forced from his possessions.


Ibrahim had for some time infested the Portuguese by sending out parties against them, both by sea and land; but these being always baffled in their attempts with much loss, he began to conceive a violent antipathy against that nation, which he ever after indulged to excess. He got possession of the city of Pidir by bribing the principal officers, a mode of warfare that he often found successful and seldom neglected to attempt. These he prevailed upon to write a letter to their master, couched in artful terms, in which they besought him to come to their assistance with a body of Portuguese, as the only chance of repelling the enemy by whom they pretended to be invested. The sultan showed this letter to Andre Henriquez, then governor of the fort, who, thinking it a good opportunity to chastise the Achinese, sent by sea a detachment of eighty Europeans and two hundred Malays under the command of his brother Manuel, whilst the sultan marched overland with a thousand men and fifteen elephants to the relief of the place. They arrived at Pidir in the night, but, being secretly informed that the king of Achin was master of the city, and that the demand for succour was a stratagem, they endeavoured to make their retreat; which the land troops effected, but before the tide could enable the Portuguese to get their boats afloat they were attacked by the Achinese, who killed Manuel and thirty-five of his men.

Henriquez, perceiving his situation at Pase was becoming critical, not only from the force of the enemy but the sickly state of his garrison, and the want of provisions, which the country people now withheld from him, discontinuing the fairs that they were used to keep three times in the week, dispatched advices to the governor of India, demanding immediate succours, and also sent to request assistance of the king of Aru, who had always proved the steadfast friend of Malacca, and who, though not wealthy, because his country was not a place of trade, was yet one of the most powerful princes in those parts. The king expressed his joy in having an opportunity of serving his allies, and promised his utmost aid; not only from friendship to them, but indignation against Ibrahim, whom he regarded as a rebellious slave.


A supply of stores at length arrived from India under the charge of Lopo d'Azuedo, who had orders to relieve Henriquez in the command; but, disputes having arisen between them, and chiefly on the subject of certain works which the shabandar of Pase had been permitted to erect adjoining to the fortress, d'Azuedo, to avoid coming to an open rupture, departed for Malacca. Ibrahim, having found means to corrupt the honesty of this shabandar, who had received his office from Alboquerque, gained intelligence through him of all that passed. This treason, it is supposed, he would not have yielded to but for the desperate situation of affairs. The country of Pase was now entirely in subjection to the Achinese, and nothing remained unconquered but the capital, whilst the garrison was distracted with internal divisions.

After the acquisition of Pidir the king thought it necessary to remain there some time in order to confirm his authority, and sent his brother Raja Lella with a large army to reduce the territories of Pase, which he effected in the course of three months, and with the more facility because all the principal nobility had fallen in the action with Jeinal. He fixed his camp within half a league of the city, and gave notice to Ibrahim of the state in which matters were, who speedily joined him, being anxious to render himself master of the place before the promised succours from the king of Aru could arrive. His first step was to issue a proclamation, giving notice to the people of the town that whoever should submit to his authority within six days should have their lives, families, and properties secured to them, but that all others must expect to feel the punishment due to their obstinacy. This had the effect he looked for, the greater part of the inhabitants coming over to his camp. He then commenced his military operations, and in the third attack got possession of the town after much slaughter; those who escaped his fury taking shelter in the neighbouring mountains and thick woods. He sent a message to the commander of the fortress, requiring him to abandon it and to deliver into his hands the kings of Pidir and Daya, to whom he had given protection. Henriquez returned a spirited answer to this summons, but, being sickly at the time, at best of an unsteady disposition, and too much attached to his trading concerns for a soldier, he resolved to relinquish the command to his relation Aires Coelho, and take passage for the West of India.


He had not advanced farther on his voyage than the point of Pidir, when he fell in with two Portuguese ships bound to the Moluccas, the captains of which he made acquainted with the situation of the garrison, and they immediately proceeded to its relief. Arriving in the night they heard great firing of cannon, and learned next morning that the Achinese had made a furious assault in hopes of carrying the fortress before the ships, which were descried at a distance, could throw succours into it. They had mastered some of the outworks, and the garrison represented that it was impossible for them to support such another shock without aid from the vessels. The captains, with as much force as could be spared, entered the fort, and a sally was shortly afterwards resolved on and executed, in which the besiegers sustained considerable damage. Every effort was likewise employed to repair the breaches and stop up the mines that had been made by the enemy in order to effect a passage into the place. Ibrahim now attempted to draw them into a snare by removing his camp to a distance and making a feint of abandoning his enterprise; but this stratagem proved ineffectual. Reflecting then with indignation that his own force consisted of fifteen thousand men whilst that of the Europeans did not exceed three hundred and fifty, many of whom were sick and wounded, and others worn out with the fatigue of continual duty (intelligence whereof was conveyed to him), he resolved once more to return to the siege, and make a general assault upon all parts of the fortification at once. Two hours before daybreak he caused the place to be surrounded with eight thousand men, who approached in perfect silence. The nighttime was preferred by these people for making their attacks as being then most secure from the effect of firearms, and they also generally chose a time of rain, when the powder would not burn. As soon as they found themselves perceived they set up a hideous shout, and, fixing their scaling ladders, made of bamboo and wonderfully light, to the number of six hundred, they attempted to force their way through the embrasures for the guns; but after a strenuous contest they were at length repulsed. Seven elephants were driven with violence against the paling of one of the bastions, which gave way before them like a hedge, and overset all the men who were on it. Javelins and pikes these enormous beasts made no account of, but upon setting fire to powder under their trunks they drew back with precipitation in spite of all the efforts of their drivers, overthrew their own people, and, flying to the distance of several miles, could not again be brought into the lines. The Achinese upon receiving this check thought to take revenge by setting fire to some vessels that were in the dockyard; but this proved an unfortunate measure to them, for by the light which it occasioned the garrison were enabled to point their guns, and did abundant execution.


Henriquez, after beating sometime against a contrary wind, put back to Pase, and, coming on shore the day after this conflict, resumed his command. A council was soon after held to determine what measures were fittest to be pursued in the present situation of affairs, and, taking into their consideration that no further assistance could be expected from the west of India in less than six months, that the garrison was sickly and provisions short, it was resolved by a majority of votes to abandon the place, and measures were taken accordingly. In order to conceal their intentions from the enemy they ordered such of the artillery and stores as could be removed conveniently to be packed up in the form of merchandise and then shipped off. A party was left to set fire to the buildings, and trains of powder were so disposed as to lead to the larger cannon, which they overcharged that they might burst as soon as heated. But this was not effectually executed, and the pieces mostly fell into the hands of the Achinese, who upon the first alarm of the evacuation rushed in, extinguished the flames, and turned upon the Portuguese their own artillery, many of whom were killed in the water as they hurried to get into their boats. They now lost as much credit by this ill conducted retreat as they had acquired by their gallant defence, and were insulted by the reproachful shouts of the enemy, whose power was greatly increased by this acquisition of military stores, and of which they often severely experienced the effects. To render their disgrace more striking it happened that as they sailed out of the harbour they met thirty boats laden with provisions for their use from the king of Aru, who was himself on his march overland with four thousand men: and when they arrived at Malacca they found troops and stores embarked there for their relief. The unfortunate princes who had sought an asylum with them now joined in their flight; the sultan of Pase proceeded to Malacca, and the sultan of Pidir and chief of Daya took refuge with the king of Aru.


Raja Nara, king of Indragiri, in conjunction with a force from Bintang, attacked the king of a neighbouring island called Lingga, who was in friendship with the Portuguese. A message which passed on this occasion gives a just idea of the style and manners of this people. Upon their acquainting the king of Lingga, in their summons of surrender, that they had lately overcome the fleet of Malacca, he replied that his intelligence informed him of the contrary; that he had just made a festival and killed fifty goats to celebrate one defeat which they had received, and hoped soon to kill a hundred in order to celebrate a second. His expectations were fulfilled, or rather anticipated, for the Portuguese, having a knowledge of the king of Indragiri's design, sent out a small fleet which routed the combined force before the king of Lingga was acquainted with their arrival, his capital being situated high up on the river.


In the next year, at the conquest of Bintang, this king unsolicited sent assistance to his European allies.


However well founded the accounts may have been which the Portuguese have given us of the cruelties committed against their people by the king of Achin, the barbarity does not appear to have been only on one side. Francisco de Mello, being sent in an armed vessel with dispatches to Goa, met near Achin Head with a ship of that nation just arrived from Mecca and supposed to be richly laden. As she had on board three hundred Achinese and forty Arabs he dared not venture to board her, but battered her at a distance, when suddenly she filled and sunk, to the extreme disappointment of the Portuguese, who thereby lost their prize; but they wreaked their vengeance on the unfortunate crew as they endeavoured to save themselves by swimming, and boast that they did not suffer a man to escape. Opportunities of retaliation soon offered.


Simano de Sousa, going with a reinforcement to the Moluccas from Cochin, was overtaken in the bay by a violent storm, which forced him to stow many of his guns in the hold; and, having lost several of his men through fatigue, he made for the nearest port he could take shelter in, which proved to be Achin. The king, having the destruction of the Portuguese at heart, and resolving if possible to seize their vessel, sent off a message to De Sousa recommending his standing in closer to the shore, where he would have more shelter from the gale which still continued, and lie more conveniently for getting off water and provisions, at the same time inviting him to land. This artifice not succeeding, he ordered out the next morning a thousand men in twenty boats, who at first pretended they were come to assist in mooring the ship; but the captain, aware of their hostile design, fired amongst them, when a fierce engagement took place in which the Achinese were repulsed with great slaughter, but not until they had destroyed forty of the Portuguese. The king, enraged at this disappointment, ordered a second attack, threatening to have his admiral trampled to death by elephants if he failed of success. A boat was sent ahead of this fleet with a signal of peace, and assurances to De Sousa that the king, as soon as he was made acquainted with the injury that had been committed, had caused the perpetrators of it to be punished, and now once more requested him to come on shore and trust to his honour. This proposal some of the crew were inclined that he should accept, but being animated by a speech that he made to them it was resolved that they should die with arms in their hands in preference to a disgraceful and hazardous submission. The combat was therefore renewed, with extreme fury on the one side, and uncommon efforts of courage on the other, and the assailants were a second time repulsed; but one of those who had boarded the vessel and afterwards made his escape represented to the Achinese the reduced and helpless situation of their enemy, and, fresh supplies coming off, they were encouraged to return to the attack. De Sousa and his people were at length almost all cut to pieces, and those who survived, being desperately wounded, were overpowered, and led prisoners to the king, who unexpectedly treated them with extraordinary kindness, in order to cover the designs he harboured, and pretended to lament the fate of their brave commander. He directed them to fix upon one of their companions, who should go in his name to the governor of Malacca, to desire he would immediately send to take possession of the ship, which he meant to restore, as well as to liberate them. He hoped by this artifice to draw more of the Portuguese into his power, and at the same time to effect a purpose of a political nature. A war had recently broken out between him and the king of Aru, the latter of whom had deputed ambassadors to Malacca, to solicit assistance, in return for his former services, and which was readily promised to him. It was highly the interest of the king of Achin to prevent this junction, and therefore, though determined to relax nothing in his plans of revenge, he hastened to dispatch Antonio Caldeira, one of the captives, with proposals of accommodation and alliance, offering to restore not only this vessel, but also the artillery which he had taken at Pase. These terms appeared to the governor too advantageous to be rejected. Conceiving a favourable idea of the king's intentions, from the confidence which Caldeira, who was deceived by the humanity shown to the wounded captives, appeared to place in his sincerity, he became deaf to the representations that were made to him by more experienced persons of his insidious character. A message was sent back, agreeing to accept his friendship on the proposed conditions, and engaging to withhold the promised succours from the king of Aru. Caldeira, in his way to Achin, touched at an island, where he was cut off with those who accompanied him. The ambassadors from Aru being acquainted with this breach of faith, retired in great disgust, and the king, incensed at the ingratitude shown him, concluded a peace with Achin; but not till after an engagement between their fleets had taken place, in which the victory remained undecided.

In order that he might learn the causes of the obscurity in which his negotiations with Malacca rested, Ibrahim dispatched a secret messenger to Senaia Raja, bandhara of that city, with whom he held a correspondence; desiring also to be informed of the strength of the garrison. Hearing in answer that the governor newly arrived was inclined to think favourably of him, he immediately sent an ambassador to wait on him with assurances of his pacific and friendly disposition, who returned in company with persons empowered, on the governor's part, to negotiate a treaty of commerce. These, upon their arrival at Achin, were loaded with favours and costly presents, the news of which quickly flew to Malacca, and, the business they came on being adjusted, they were suffered to depart; but they had not sailed far before they were overtaken by boats sent after them, and were stripped and murdered. The governor, who had heard of their setting out, concluded they were lost by accident. Intelligence of this mistaken opinion was transmitted to the king, who thereupon had the audacity to request that he might be honoured with the presence of some Portuguese of rank and consequence in his capital, to ratify in a becoming manner the articles that had been drawn up; as he ardently wished to see that nation trafficking freely in his dominions.