03 September 2009

The Dusuns in the 1900s


"The Dusuns in character are quiet and orderly and not particularly brave,
but no doubt would be industrious if occasion arose; a very
good rural population, with somewhat yokelish notions. Any
slight bloodthirsty tendencies that circulmstances and the want
of proper restraint have driven them to, are gladly abandoned
wherever our influence has spread. They show every symptom
of thriving and increasing, under a proper firm government, and
there is no fear of their melting away and disappearing, like so
many races have done, when brought into contact with the white
man. Much the same thing may be said of the sea coast races,
who also possess many good work-a-day knockabout qualities,
but not to the same extent as the Dusuns."
(W.B Pryer, 1887: 236- The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 16
(1887), pp. 229-236)


Wow! So they have discovered us or rather our ancestors in the late 1800s. The Dusuns were still headhunters then but I gather from this writing that they weren't very happy with the custom too. Headhunting must have been a tradition they held on to simply because it was tradition, not because they were bloodthirsty. (Am I relieved to read that- that means I have the blood of peaceful ancestors, who somewhat braved their existence because that was all they knew then.

And it seems that the hardworking traits have had always been there. You know the work-till-you-drop-dead thing. I'll stop complaining about that then.

6 comments:

azamain said...

Observational factors from the anthropological point of view, could become a source for comparative studies.
-And thank god we had 'non-professionals' head hunter forefathers phew.....

vpa73 said...

Indeed. This is one of the oldest sources, I think. Thank god for internet...hehe...ppl like you and I could never have been excellent headhunters I reckon.

azamain said...

can't agree more besides the Dusuns are known to be survivalists.

By the way,the documented missionary writings as I know of dates back earlier but I don't know about the content that mentioned about the Dusuns in particular. Most of what I read deals with Socio-anthropological matters. I'll keep on searching. Thanks for the info.

Rem said...

BTW, I know that the Kimaragangs and Lotuds used to be fierce headhunters. But honestly, I asked my mum and dad once about this -- and both of them denied that the Dusun Bundu (Ranau) had ever been headhunters. I don't know how true, though. May be they just wanted to cover things up. Or it could be that they themselves also genuinely didn't know. They just assumed, perhaps.

But if we really think about it -- there's a strong logic to argue that the Dusun Bundu (Ranau) was never headhunting. Unlike the Kimaragang who had to compete with the Bajaus and Iranuns, and the Lotud who literally used to live in the same domain with the Bajau Samas: we, the Dusun Bundus, actually had all the pergunungan/lembah Kinabalu all for ourselves. I'm talking about the traditional context -- in the 1800s and below. So may be -- we don't really need to headhunt anyone?

Just a thought la.

vpa73 said...

Rem- you could be right, the peaceful nature must have come from the place. But I have seen my ancestor's 'gayang' (the long headhunting knife) that had traces of hair and blood on it when I was young. I don't know from which generation but it certainly exist(ed). Maybe here is the case of having been forced to do it??? :-) (still cannot accept the idea that my ancestors might have done it willingly!)

Anonymous said...

hi im from brunei.wow i didnt know other dusun outside brunei did headhunting at all. all i knew all this time from watching documnetary and hearing from words of mouth that headhunting is a tradition amongst the ibans during territorial war or clash with other tribes here in borneo...i hope my grand grand nini ancestors inda memanggal kepala orang or wasnt any one of the victims in that head hunting victory.