Buku yang di tulis tahun 1810 dan di publikasi tahun 1811 ini menceritakan adanya Negeri rejang di Sumatera (Nation Rejangs / Country of Rejangs),dapat di baca pada :
Chapter 2 : REJANGS CHOSEN FOR GENERAL DESCRIPTION
Chapter 11 : TITLES AND POWER OF THE CHIEFS AMONG THE REJANGS
Chapter 12 : LAWS AND CUSTOMS.MODE OF DECIDING CAUSES.CODE OF LAWS.
Dari sejarah, budaya hingga hukum yang berlaku di negeri rejang saat itu di paparkan dalam buku ini. Buku di tulis tahun 1811.
Versi lengkapnya (full version) bisa di baca pada menu e-book blog ini dengan judul
THE HISTORY OF SUMATRA Part I dan Part II
Cuplikan dari naskah aslinya :
THE HISTORY OF SUMATRA,
CONTAINING AN ACCOUNT OF
THE GOVERNMENT, LAWS, CUSTOMS, AND MANNERS
THE NATIVE INHABITANTS,
A DESCRIPTION OF THE NATURAL PRODUCTIONS,
AND A RELATION OF THE
ANCIENT POLITICAL STATE OF THAT ISLAND.
WILLIAM MARSDEN, F.R.S.
THE THIRD EDITION, WITH CORRECTIONS, ADDITIONS, AND PLATES.
PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR,
BY J. M’CREERY, BLACK-HORSE-COURT,
AND SOLD BY
LONGMAN, HURST, REES, ORME, AND BROWN, PATERNOSTER-ROW.
PLATE 16. A MALAY BOY, NATIVE OF BENCOOLEN.
T. Heaphy delt. A. Cardon fecit.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.
DISTINCTION OF INHABITANTS.
REJANGS CHOSEN FOR GENERAL DESCRIPTION.
PERSONS AND COMPLEXION.
CLOTHING AND ORNAMENTS.
GENERAL ACCOUNT OF THE INHABITANTS.
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.
VARIOUS MODES OF DIVISION.
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.
NATION OF THE REJANGS ADOPTED AS A STANDARD OF DESCRIPTION.
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.
SITUATION OF THE REJANG COUNTRY.
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.
PERSONS OF THE INHABITANTS.
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.
COLOUR NOT ASCRIBABLE TO CLIMATE.
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.
HILL PEOPLE SUBJECT TO WENS.
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.
DIFFERENCE IN PERSON BETWEEN MALAYS AND OTHER SUMATRANS.
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.
DISTINGUISHING ORNAMENTS OF VIRGINS.
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.
MODE OF FILING TEETH.
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.
COMPARATIVE STATE OF THE SUMATRANS IN CIVIL SOCIETY.
DIFFERENCE OF CHARACTER BETWEEN THE MALAYS AND OTHER INHABITANTS.
TITLES AND POWER OF THE CHIEFS AMONG THE REJANGS.
INFLUENCE OF THE EUROPEANS.
GOVERNMENT IN PASSUMMAH.
COMPARATIVE STATE OF SUMATRANS IN SOCIETY.
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.
FEW IMPROVEMENTS ADOPTED FROM EUROPEANS.
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.
DIFFERENCE IN CHARACTER BETWEEN THE MALAYS AND OTHER SUMATRANS.
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.
CHARACTER OF NATIVE SUMATRANS.
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.
REJANGS DIVIDED INTO TRIBES.
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.
ORIGIN OF THE PANGERAN IN RAJANG.
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.
SUCCESSION OF DUPATIS.
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.
INFLUENCE OF THE EUROPEANS.
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.
GOVERNMENT IN PASSUMMAH.
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.
LAWS AND CUSTOMS. MODE OF DECIDING CAUSES.
CODE OF LAWS.
LAWS OR CUSTOMS.
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.
MODE OF DECIDING CAUSES.
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.
COMPILATION OF LAWS.
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.
BECHARS, SUITS, OR TRIALS.
PROCESS IN SUITS.
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.
LAWS OF INHERITANCE.
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.
BANGUN, OR COMPENSATION FOR MURDER.
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.
DEBTS AND CREDITS.
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.
LAWS REGARDING MARRIAGE.
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.
JOHN MARSDEN, Resident.