No English lord thinks so much of his pictures, as the Dyaks do of their heads. They think these heads are the finest ornaments of their houses. The man who has most heads, is considered the greatest man. A man who has NO HEADS is despised! If he wishes to be respected, he must get a head as soon as he can. Sometimes a man, in order to get a head, will go out to look for a poor fisherman, who has done him no harm, and will come back with his head.
When the Dyaks fight against their enemies, they try to get, not only the heads of men, but also the heads of women and CHILDREN. How dreadful it must be to see a poor BABY’S HEAD hanging from the ceiling! There was a Dyak who lost all his property by fire, but he cared not for losing anything, so much as for losing his PRECIOUS HEADS; nothing could console him for THIS loss; some of them he had cut off himself, and others had been cut off by his father, and left to him!
People who are so bent on killing, as these Dyaks are, must have many enemies. The Dyaks are always in fear of being attacked by their enemies. They are afraid of living in lonely cottages; they think it a better plan for a great many to live together, that they may be able to defend themselves, if surprised in the night. Four hundred Dyaks will live together in one house. The house is very large. To make it more safe, it is built upon very high posts, and there are ladders to get up by. The posts are sometimes forty feet high; so that when you are in the house, you find yourself as high as the tall trees. There is one very large room, where all the men and women sit, and talk, and do their work in the day. The women pound the rice, and weave the mats, while the men make weapons of war, and the little children play about. There is always much noise and confusion in this room. There are a great many doors along one side of the long room; and each of these doors leads into a small room where a family lives; the parents, the babies, and the girls sleep there, while the boys of the family sleep in the large room, that has just been described.
You know already what are the ornaments on which each family prides itself,—the HEADS hanging up in their rooms! It is the SEA Dyaks who live in these very large houses.