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Sejarah Sumatra (Marsden)/Bab 20

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Salah satu kekhasan paling menonjol dari orang-orang di pulau tersebut, dan oleh banyak orang dianggap sebagai klaim terkuat dalam hal keasliannya, adalah suku Batta (juga disebut Batak), yang tinggal terpisah dari penduduk lainnya, dalam kecerdasan akan kebiasaan dan perilaku mereka, dan khususnya dalam beberapa pemakaian luar biasa, memberikannya kebutuhan akan tingkat perhatian tertentu harus dicantumkan pada deskripsi mereka.


This country is bounded on the north by that of Achin, from which it is separated by the mountains of Papa and Deira, and on the south by the independent district of Rau or Rawa; extending along the sea-coast on the western side from the river of Singkel to that of Tabuyong, but inland, to the back of Ayer Bangis, and generally across the island, which is narrow in that part, to the eastern coast; but more or less encroached upon by the Malayan and Achinese establishments in the most convenient maritime situations, for the purposes of their commerce. It is very populous, and chiefly in the central parts, where are extensive open or naked plains, on the borders (as it is said) of a great lake; the soil fertile, and cultivation so much more prevalent than in the southern countries, which are mostly covered with woods, that there is scarcely a tree to be seen excepting those planted by the natives about their villages, which are not, as elsewhere, on the banks of rivers, but wherever a strong situation presents itself. Water indeed is not so abundant as to the southward, which may be attributed to the comparatively level surface, the chain of high mountains which extends northwards from the straits of Sunda through the interior of the island, in a great measure terminating with gunong Passummah or Mount Ophir. About the bay of Tappanuli however the land is high and wooded near the coast.


The Batta territory is divided (according to the information obtained by the English Residents) into the following principal districts; Ankola, Padambola, Mandiling, Toba, Selindong, and Singkel, of which the first has five, the third three, and the fourth five subordinate tribes. According to the Dutch account published in the Transactions of the Batavian Society, which is very circumstantial, it is divided into three small kingdoms. One of these named Simamora is situated far inland and contains a number of villages, and among others those named Batong, Ria, Allas, Batadera, Kapkap (where the district producing benzoin commences), Batahol, Kotta-tinggi (the place of the king's residence), with two places lying on the eastern coast called Suitara-male and Jambu-ayer. This kingdom is said to yield much fine gold from the mines of Batong and Sunayang. Bata-salindong also contains many districts, in some of which benzoin, and in others fine gold, is collected. The residence of the king is at Salindong. Bata-gopit lies at the foot of a volcano-mountain of that name, from whence, at the time of an eruption, the natives procure sulphur, to be afterwards employed in the manufacture of gunpowder. The little kingdom of Butar lies north­eastward of the preceding and reaches to the eastern coast, where are the places named Pulo Serony and Batu Bara; the latter enjoying a considerable trade; also Longtong and Sirigar, at the mouth of a great river named Assahan. Butar yields neither camphor, benzoin, nor gold, and the inhabitants support themselves by cultivation. The residence of the king is at a town of the same name.


High up on the river of Batu Bara, which empties itself into the straits of Malacca, is found a large brick building, concerning the erection of which no tradition is preserved amongst the people. It is described as a square, or several squares, and at one corner is an extremely high pillar, supposed by them to have been designed for carrying a flag. Images or reliefs of human figures are carved in the walls, which they conceive to be Chinese (perhaps Hindu) idols. The bricks, of which some were brought to Tappanuli, are of a smaller size than those used by the English.


Sungai Singkel, yang merupakan sungai terbesar di pantai barat pulau tersebut, bermuara di pegunungan jauh Daholi, di wilayah Achin, dan memiliki panjang sekitar tiga puluh mil dari laut melewati perairan Sikere, di tempat yang disebut Pomoko, yang mengalir di sebagian besar daerah Batta. After this junction it is very broad, and deep enough for vessels of considerable burden, but the bar is shallow and dangerous, having no more than six feet at low-water spring-tides, and the rise is also six feet. The breadth here is about three-quarters of a mile. Much of the lower parts of the country through which it has its course is overflowed during the rainy season, but not at two places, called by Captain Forrest Rambong and Jambong, near the mouth. The principal town lies forty miles up the river on the northern branch. On the southern is a town named Kiking, where more trade is carried on by the Malays and Achinese than at the former, the Samponan or Papa mountains producing more benzoin than those of Daholi. It is said in a Dutch manuscript that in three days' navigation above the town of Singkel you come to a great lake, the extent of which is not known.

Barus, the next place of any consequence to the southward, is chiefly remarkable for having given name throughout the East to the Kapur­barus or native camphor, as it is often termed to distinguish it from that which is imported from Japan and China, as already explained. This was the situation of the most remote of the Dutch factories, long since withdrawn. It is properly a Malayan establishment, governed by a raja, a bandhara, and eight pangulus, and with this peculiarity, that the rajas and bandharas must be alternately and reciprocally of two great families, named Dulu and D'ilhir. The assumed jurisdiction is said to have extended formerly to Natal. The town is situated about a league from the coast, and two leagues farther inland are eight small villages inhabited by Battas, the inhabitants of which purchase the camphor and benzoin from the people of the Diri mountains, extending from the southward of Singkel to the hill of Lasa, behind Barus, where the Tobat district commences.


The celebrated bay of Tappanuli stretches into the heart of the Batta country, and its shores are everywhere inhabited by that people, who barter the produce of their land for the articles they stand in need of from abroad, but do not themselves make voyages by sea. Navigators assert that the natural advantages of this bay are scarcely surpassed in any other part of the globe; that all the navies of the world might ride there with perfect security in every weather; and that such is the complication of anchoring-places within each other that a large ship could be so hid in them as not to be found without a tedious search. At the island of Punchong kechil, on which our settlement stands, it is a common practice to moor the vessels by a hawser to a tree on shore. Timber for masts and yards is to be procured in the various creeks with great facility. Not being favourably situated with respect to the general track of outward and homeward-bound shipping, and its distance from the principal seat of our important Indian concerns being considerable, it has not hitherto been much used for any great naval purposes; but at the same time our government should be aware of the danger that might arise from suffering any other maritime power to get footing in a place of this description. The natives are in general inoffensive, and have given little disturbance to our establishments; but parties of Achinese traders (without the concurrence or knowledge, as there is reason to believe, of their own government), jealous of our commercial influence, long strove to drive us from the bay by force of arms, and we were under the necessity of carrying on a petty warfare for many years in order to secure our tranquillity. In the year 1760 Tappanuli was taken by a squadron of French ships under the command of the Comte d'Estaing; and in October 1809, being nearly defenceless, it was again taken by the Creole French frigate, Captain Ripaud, joined afterwards by the Venus and La Manche; under the orders of Commodore Hamelin. By the terms of the surrender private property was to be secured, but in a few days, after the most friendly assurances had been given to the acting resident, with whom the French officers were living, this engagement was violated under the ill-founded pretence that some gold had been secreted, and everything belonging to the English gentlemen and ladies, as well as to the native settlers, was plundered or destroyed by fire, with circumstances of atrocity and brutality that would have disgraced savages. The garden-house of the chief (Mr. Prince, who happened to be then absent from Tappanuli) at Batu-buru on the main was likewise burned, together with his horses, and his cattle were shot at and maimed. Even the books of accounts, containing the statement of outstanding debts due to the trading-concern of the place were, in spite of every entreaty, maliciously destroyed or carried off, by which an irreparable loss, from which the enemy could not derive a benefit, is sustained by the unfortunate sufferers. It cannot be supposed that the government of a great and proud empire can give its sanction to this disgraceful mode of carrying on war.

In the Philosophical Transactions for the year 1778 is a brief account of the Batta country and the manners of its inhabitants, extracted from the private letters of Mr. Charles Miller, the Company's botanist, whose observations I have had repeated occasion to quote. I shall now communicate to the reader the substance of a report made by him of a journey performed in company with Mr. Giles Holloway, then resident of Tappanuli, through the interior of the country of which we are now speaking, with a view to explore its productions, particularly the cassia, which at that time was thought likely to prove an object of commerce worthy of attention.


Says Mr. Miller:

Previously to our setting out on this journey we consulted people who had formerly been engaged in the cassia-trade with regard to the most proper places to visit. They informed us that the trees were to be found in two different districts; namely in the inland parts to the northward of the old settlement at Tappanuli; and also in the country of Padambola, which lies between fifty and sixty miles more to the southward. They advised us to prefer going into the Padambola country, although the more distant, on account of the inhabitants of the Tappanuli country (as they represented) being frequently troublesome to strangers. They also told me there were two kinds of the kulit manis, the one of which, from their account of it, I was in hopes might prove to be the true cinnamon-tree.

June 21st, 1772. We set out from Pulo Punchong and went in boats to the quallo (mouth or entrance) of Pinang Suri river, which is in the bay, about ten or twelve miles south-east of Punchong. Next morning we went up the river in sampans, and in about six hours arrived at a place called quallo Lumut. The whole of the land on both sides of the river is low, covered with wood, and uninhabited. In these woods I observed camphor trees, two species of oak, maranti, rangi, and several other timber-trees. About a quarter of a mile from that place, on the opposite side of the river, is a Batta kampong, situated on the summit of a regular and very beautiful little hill, which rises in a pyramidical form, in the middle of a small meadow. The raja of this kampong, being informed by the Malays that we were at their houses, came over to see us, and invited us to his house, where we were received with great ceremony, and saluted with about thirty guns. This kampong consists of about eight or ten houses, with their respective padi-houses. It is strongly fortified with a double fence of strong rough camphor planks, driven deep into the earth, and about eight or nine feet high, so placed that their points project considerably outward. These fences are about twelve feet asunder, and in the space between them the buffaloes are kept at night. Without-side these fences they plant a row of a prickly kind of bamboo, which forms an almost impenetrable hedge from twelve to twenty feet thick. In the sapiyau or building in which the raja receives strangers we saw a man's skull hanging up, which he told us was hung there as a trophy, it being the skull of an enemy they had taken prisoner, whose body (according to the custom of the Battas) they had eaten about two months before. June 23rd. We walked through a level woody country to the kampong of Lumut, and next day to Sa­tarong, where I observed several plantations of benzoin-trees, some cotton, indigo, turmeric, tobacco, and a few pepper-vines. We next proceeded to Tappolen, to Sikia, and to Sa-pisang. This last is situated on the banks of Batang-tara river, three or four days' journey from the sea; so that our course had hitherto been nearly parallel to the coast.

July 1st. We left Sa-pisang and took a direction towards the hills, following nearly the course of the Batang-tara. We travelled all this day through a low, woody, and entirely uncultivated country, which afforded nothing worthy of observation. Our guide had proposed to reach a kampong, called Lumbu; but missing the road we were obliged to wade up the river between four and five miles, and at length arrived at a ladang extremely fatigued; where the badness of the weather obliged us to stop and take up our quarters in an open padi-shed. The next day the river was so swelled by the heavy rain which had fallen the preceding day that we could not prosecute our journey, and were obliged to pass it and the remaining night in the same uncomfortable situation. (This is the middle of the dry season in the southern parts of the island.) July 3rd. We left the ladang and walked through a very irregular and uninhabited tract, full of rocks and covered with woods. We this day crossed a ridge of very steep and high hills, and in the afternoon came to an inhabited and well-cultivated country on the edge of the plains of Ancola. We slept this night in a small open shed, and next day proceeded to a kampong called Koto Lambong. July 5th. Went through a more open and very pleasant country to Terimbaru, a large kampong on the southern edge of the plains of Ancola. The land hereabout is entirely clear of wood, and either ploughed and sown with padi or jagong (maize), or used as pasture for their numerous herds of buffaloes, kine, and horses. The raja being informed of our intentions to come there sent his son and between thirty and forty men, armed with lances and matchlock guns, to meet us, who escorted us to their kampong, beating gongs and firing their guns all the way. The raja received us in great form, and with civility ordered a buffalo to be killed, detained us a day, and when we proceeded on our journey sent his son with a party to escort us. I observed that all the unmarried women wore a great number of tin rings in their ears (some having fifty in each ear), which circumstance, together with the appearance of the country, seemed to indicate its abounding with minerals; but on making inquiry I found that the tin was brought from the straits of Malacca. Having made the accustomed presents to the raja we left Terimbaru, July 7th, and proceeded to Sa-masam, the raja of which place, attended by sixty or seventy men, well armed, met us and conducted us to his kampong, where he had prepared a house for our reception, treating us with much hospitality and respect. The country round Sa-masam is full of small hills but clear of wood, and mostly pasture ground for their cattle, of which they have great abundance. I met with nothing remarkable here excepting a prickly shrub called by the natives Andalimon, the seed-vessels and leaves of which have a very agreeable spicy taste, and are used by them in their curries.

July 10th. Proceeded on our journey to Batang Onan, the kampong where the Malays used to purchase the cassia from the Battas. After about three hours walk over an open hilly country we again came into thick woods, in which we were obliged to pass the night. The next morning we crossed another ridge of very high hills, covered entirely with woods. In these we saw the wild benzoin-tree. It grows to a much larger size than the cultivated kind, and yields a different sort of resin called kaminian dulong or sweet-scented benzoin. It differs in being commonly in more detached pieces, and having a smell resembling that of almonds when bruised. Arrived at Batang Onan in the afternoon. This kampong is situated in a very extensive plain on the banks of a large river which empties itself into the straits of Malacca, and is said to be navigable for sloops to within a day's journey of Batang Onan.


July 11th. Went to Panka-dulut, the raja of which place claims the property of the cassia-trees, and his people used to cut and cure the bark and transport it to the former place. The nearest trees are about two hours walk from Panka-dulut on a high ridge of mountains. They grow from forty to sixty feet high, and have large spreading heads. They are not cultivated, but grow in the woods. The bark is commonly taken from the bodies of the trees of a foot or foot and half diameter; the bark being so thin, when the trees are younger, as to lose all its qualities very soon. I here inquired for the different sorts of cassia-tree of which I had been told, but was now informed that there was only one sort, and that the difference they mentioned was occasioned entirely by the soil and situation in which the trees grow; that those which grow in a rocky dry soil have red shoots, and their bark is of superior quality to that of trees which grow in moist clay, whose shoots are green. I also endeavoured to get some information with regard to their method of curing and quilling the cassia, and told them my intentions of trying some experiments towards improving its quality and rendering it more valuable. They told me that none had been cut for two years past, on account of a stop being put to the purchases at Tappanuli; and that if I was come with authority to open the trade I should call together the people of the neighbouring kampongs, kill a buffalo for them, and assure them publicly that the cassia would be again received; in which case they would immediately begin to cut and cure it, and would willingly follow any instructions I should give them; but that otherwise they would take no trouble about it. I must observe that I was prevented from getting so satisfactory an account of the cassia as I could have wished by the ill-behaviour of the person who accompanied us as guide, from whom, by his thorough knowledge of the country, and of the cassia-trade, of which he had formerly been the chief manager, we thought we had reason to expect all requisite assistance and information, but who not only refused to give it, but prevented as much as possible our receiving any from the country people. July 14th. We left Batang Onan in order to return, stopped that night at a kampong called Koto Moran, and the next evening reached Sa-masam; from whence we proceeded by a different road from what we had travelled before to Sa­pisang, where we procured sampans, and went down the Batang-tara river to the sea. July 22nd we returned to Pulo Punchong.

End of Mr. Miller's Narrative.

It has since been understood that they were intentionally misled, and taken by a circuitous route to prevent their seeing a particular kampong of some consideration at the back of Tappanuli, or for some other interested object. Near the latter place, on the main, Mr. John Marsden, who went thither to be present at the funeral of one of their chiefs, observed two old monuments in stone, one the figure of a man, the other of a man on an elephant, tolerably well executed, but they know not by whom, nor is there any among them who could do the same work now. The features were strongly Batta.


Our settlement at Natal (properly Natar), some miles to the south of the large river of Tabuyong, and on the confines of the Batta country, which extends at the back of it, is a place of much commerce, but not from its natural or political circumstances of importance in other respects. It is inhabited by settlers there, for the convenience of trade, from the countries of Achin, Rau, and Menangkabau, who render it populous and rich. Gold of very fine quality is procured from the country (some of the mines being said to lie within ten miles of the factory), and there is a considerable vent for imported goods, the returns for which are chiefly made in that article and camphor. Like other Malayan towns it is governed by datus, the chief of whom, styled datu besar or chief magistrate, has considerable sway; and although the influence of the Company is here predominant its authority is by no means so firmly established as in the pepper-districts to the southward, owing to the number of people, their wealth, and enterprising, independent spirit.* It may be said that they are rather managed and conciliated than ruled. They find the English useful as moderators between their own contending factions, which often have recourse to arms, even upon points of ceremonious precedence, and are reasoned into accommodation by our resident going among them unattended. At an earlier period our protection was convenient to them against the usurpation, as they termed it, of the Dutch, of whose attempts and claims they were particularly jealous. By an article of the treaty of Paris in 1763 these pretensions were ascertained as they respected the two European powers, and the settlements of Natal and Tappanuli were expressly restored to the English. They had however already been re-occupied. Neither in fact have any right but what proceeds from the will and consent of the native princes.

(*Footnote. Upon the re-establishment of the factory in 1762 the resident pointed out to the Datu besar, with a degree of indignation, the number of dead bodies which were frequently seen floating down the river, and proposed his cooperating to prevent assassinations in the country, occasioned by the anarchy the place fell into during the temporary interruption of the Company's influence. "I cannot assent to any measures for that purpose," replied the datu: "I reap from these murders an advantage of twenty dollars a head when the families prosecute." A compensation of thirty dollars per month was offered him, and to this he scarcely submitted, observing that he should be a considerable loser, as there fell in this manner at least three men in the month. At another time, when the resident attempted to carry some regulation into execution, he said, "kami tradah suka begito, orang kaya!" "We do not choose to allow it, sir;" and bared his right arm as a signal of attack to his dependants in case the point had been insisted on. Of late years habit and a sense of mutual interest have rendered them more accommodating.)


The government of the Batta country, although nominally in the hands of three or more sovereign rajas, is effectively (so far as our intercourse with the people enables us to ascertain) divided into numberless petty chiefships, the heads of which, also styled rajas, have no appearance of being dependant upon any superior power, but enter into associations with each other, particularly with those belonging to the same tribe, for mutual defence and security against any distant enemy. They are at the same time extremely jealous of any increase of their relative power, and on the slightest pretext a war breaks out between them. The force of different kampongs is notwithstanding this very unequal, and some rajas possess a much more extensive sway than others; and it must needs be so, where every man who can get a dozen followers and two or three muskets sets up for independence. Inland of a place called Sokum great respect was paid to a female chief or uti (which word I conceive to be a liquid pronunciation of putri, a princess), whose jurisdiction comprehended many tribes. Her grandson, who was the reigning prince, had lately been murdered by an invader, and she had assembled an army of two or three thousand men to take revenge. An agent of the Company went up the river about fifteen miles in hopes of being able to accommodate a matter that threatened materially the peace of the country; but he was told by the uti that, unless he would land his men, and take a decided part in her favour, he had no business there, and he was obliged to reembark without effecting anything. The aggressor followed him the same night and made his escape. It does not appear likely, from the manners and dispositions of the people, that the whole of the country was ever united under one supreme head.


The more powerful rajas assume authority over the lives of their subjects. The dependants are bound to attend their chief in his journeys and in his wars, and when an individual refuses he is expelled from the society without permission to take his property along with him. They are supplied with food for their expeditions, and allowed a reward for each person they kill. The revenues of the chief arise principally from fines of cattle adjudged in criminal proceedings, which he always appropriates to himself; and from the produce of the camphor and benzoin trees throughout his district; but this is not rigorously insisted upon. When he pays his gaming debts he imposes what arbitrary value he thinks proper on the horses and buffaloes (no coin being used in the country), which he delivers, and his subjects are obliged to accept them at that rate. They are forced to work in their turns, for a certain number of days, in his rice plantations. There is, in like manner, a lesser kind of service for land held of any other person, the tenant being bound to pay his landlord respect wherever he meets him, and to provide him with entertainment whenever he comes to his house. The people seem to have a permanent property in their possessions, selling them to each other as they think fit. If a man plants trees and leaves them, no future occupier can sell them, though he may eat the fruit. Disputes and litigations of any kind that happen between people belonging to the same kampong are settled by a magistrate appointed for that purpose, and from him it is said there is no appeal to the raja: when they arise between persons of different kampongs they are adjusted at a meeting of the respective rajas. When a party is sent down to the Bay to purchase salt or on other business it is accompanied by an officer who takes cognizance of their behaviour, and sometimes punishes on the spot such as are criminal or refractory. This is productive of much order and decency.


It is asserted that the succession to the chiefships does not go in the first instance to the son of the deceased, but to the nephew by a sister; and that the same extraordinary rule, with respect to property in general, prevails also amongst the Malays of that part of the island, and even in the neighbourhood of Padang. The authorities for this are various and unconnected with each other, but not sufficiently circumstantial to induce me to admit it as a generally established practice.


Notwithstanding the independent spirit of the Battas, and their contempt of all power that would affect a superiority over their little societies, they have a superstitious veneration for the sultan of Menangkabau, and show blind submission to his relations and emissaries, real or pretended, when such appear among them for the purpose of levying contributions: even when insulted and put in fear of their lives they make no attempt at resistance: they think that their affairs would never prosper; that their padi would be blighted, and their buffaloes die; that they would remain under a kind of spell for offending those sacred messengers.


The Battas are in their persons rather below the stature of the Malays, and their complexions are fairer; which may perhaps be owing to their distance, for the most part, from the sea, an element they do not at all frequent.


Their dress is commonly of a sort of cotton cloth manufactured by themselves, thick, harsh, and wiry, about four astas or cubits long, and two in breadth, worn round the middle, with a scarf over the shoulder. These are of mixed colours, the prevalent being a brownish red and a blue approaching to black. They are fond of adorning them, particularly the scarf, with strings and tassels of beads. The covering of the head is usually the bark of a tree, but the superior class wear a strip of foreign blue cloth in imitation of the Malayan destars, and a few have bajus (outer garments) of chintz. The young women, beside the cloth round the middle, have one over the breasts, and (as noticed in Mr. Miller's journal) wear in their ears numerous rings of tin, as well as several large rings of thick brass wire round their necks. On festival days however they ornament themselves with earrings of gold, hair-pins, of which the heads are fashioned like birds or dragons, a kind of three-cornered breastplate, and hollow rings upon the upper arm, all, in like manner, of gold. The kima shell, which abounds in the bay, is likewise worked into arm-rings, whiter, and taking a better polish than ivory.


Their arms are matchlock guns, with which they are expert marksmen, bamboo lances or spears with long iron heads, and a side-weapon called jono, which resembles and is worn as a sword rather than a kris. The cartridge-boxes are provided with a number of little wooden cases, each containing a charge for the piece. In these are carried likewise the match, and the smaller ranjaus, the longer being in a joint of bamboo, slung like a quiver over the shoulder. They have machines curiously carved and formed like the beak of a large bird for holding bullets, and others of peculiar construction for a reserve of powder. These hang in front. On the right side hang the flint and steel, and also the tobacco-pipe. Their guns, the locks of which {for holding the match) are of copper, they are supplied with by traders from Menangkabau; the swords are of their own workmanship, and they also manufacture their own gunpowder, extracting the saltpetre, as it is said, from the soil taken from under houses that have been long inhabited (which in consequence of an uncleanly practice is strongly impregnated with animal salts), together with that collected in places where goats are kept. Through this earth water is filtered, and being afterwards suffered to evaporate the saltpetre is found at the bottom of the vessel. Their proper standard in war is a horse's head, from whence flows a long mane or tail; beside which they have colours of red or white cloth. For drums they use gongs, and in action set up a kind of war­whoop.


The spirit of war is excited among these people by small provocation, and their resolutions for carrying it into effect are soon taken. Their life appears in fact to be a perpetual state of hostility, and they are always prepared for attack and defence. When they proceed to put their designs into execution the first act of defiance is firing, without ball, into the kampong of their enemies. Three days are then allowed for the party fired upon to propose terms of accommodation, and if this is not done, or the terms are such as cannot be agreed to, war is then fully declared. This ceremony of firing with powder only is styled carrying smoke to the adversary. During the course of their wars, which sometimes last for two or three years, they seldom meet openly in the field or attempt to decide their contest by a general engagement, as the mutual loss of a dozen men might go near to ruin both parties, nor do they ever engage hand to hand, but keep at a pretty safe distance, seldom nearer than random-shot, excepting in case of sudden surprise. They march in single files, and usually fire kneeling. It is not often that they venture a direct attack upon each other's works, but watch opportunities of picking off stragglers passing through the woods. A party of three or four will conceal themselves near the footways, and if they see any of their foes they fire and run away immediately; planting ranjaus after them to prevent pursuit. On these occasions a man will subsist upon a potato a day, in which they have much the advantage of the Malays (against whom they are often engaged in warfare), who require to be better fed.


They fortify their kampongs with large ramparts of earth, halfway up which they plant brushwood. There is a ditch without the rampart, and on each side of that a tall palisade of camphor timber. Beyond this is an impenetrable hedge of prickly bamboo, which when of sufficient growth acquires an extraordinary density, and perfectly conceals all appearance of a town. Ranjaus, of a length both for the body and the feet, are disposed without all these, and render the approaches hazardous to assailants who are almost naked. At each corner of the fortress, instead of a tower or watch-house, they contrive to have a tall tree, which they ascend to reconnoitre or fire from. But they are not fond of remaining on the defensive in these fortified villages, and therefore, leaving a few to guard them, usually advance into the plains, and throw up temporary breast-works and entrenchments.


The natives of the sea-coast exchange their benzoin, camphor, and cassia (the quantity of gold-dust is very inconsiderable) for iron, steel, brass-wire, and salt, of which last article a hundred thousand bamboo measures are annually taken off in the bay of Tappanuli. These they barter again with the more inland inhabitants, in the mode that shall presently be described, for the products and manufactures of the country, particularly the home-made cloth; a very small quantity of cotton piece-goods being imported from the coast and disposed of to the natives. What they do take off is chiefly blue-cloth for the head, and chintz.

FAIRS HELD[sunting]

For the convenience of carrying on the inland-trade there are established at the back of Tappanuli, which is their great mart, four stages, at which successively they hold public fairs or markets on every fourth day throughout the year; each fair, of course, lasting one day. The people in the district of the fourth stage assemble with their goods at the appointed place, to which those of the third resort in order to purchase them. The people of the third, in like manner, supply the wants of the second, and the second of the first, who dispose, on the day the market is held, of the merchandise for which they have trafficked with the Europeans and Malays. On these occasions all hostilities are suspended. Each man who possesses a musket carries it with a green bough in the muzzle, as a token of peace, and afterwards, when he comes to the spot, following the example of the director or manager of the party, discharges the loading into a mound of earth, in which, before his departure, he searches for his ball. There is but one house at the place where the market is held, and that is for the purpose of gaming. The want of booths is supplied by the shade of regular rows of fruit-trees, mostly durian, of which one avenue is reserved for the women. The dealings are conducted with order and fairness; the chief remaining at a little distance, to be referred to in case of dispute, and a guard is at hand, armed with lances, to keep the peace; yet with all this police, which bespeaks civilization, I have been assured by those who have had an opportunity of attending their meetings that in the whole of their appearance and deportment there is more of savage life than is observed in the manners of the Rejangs, or inhabitants of Lampong. Traders from the remoter Batta districts, lying north and south, assemble at these periodical markets, where all their traffic is carried on, and commodities bartered. They are not however peculiar to this country, being held, among other places, at Batang-kapas and Ipu. By the Malays they are termed onan.


Having no coin all value is estimated among them by certain commodities. In trade they calculate by tampangs (cakes) of benzoin; in transactions among themselves more commonly by buffaloes: sometimes brass wire and sometimes beads are used as a medium. A galang, or ring of brass wire, represents about the value of a dollar. But for small payments salt is the most in use. A measure called a salup, weighing about two pounds, is equal to a fanam or twopence-halfpenny: a balli, another small measure, goes for four keppeng, or three-fifths of a penny.


Makanan biasa orang kelas bawah adalah jagung dan kentang manis, para raja dan pria besar sendiri mengasupi diri mereka sendiri dengan nasi. Beberapa memadukannya bersamaan. Hanya ketika perayaan umum mereka membunuh sapi untuk dimakan; tetapi karena nafsu makan mereka tidak peka, mereka tidak ragu untuk makan kerbau mati, babi, tikus, kadal, atau hewan liar lainnya yang mereka temui. Sungai-sungai dikatakan tidak ditinggali ikan. Daging kuda merupakan daging paling mahal yang disantap oleh mereka, dan untuk keperluan ini, mereka menyantapkannya dengan biji-bijidan dan sangat memperhatikan penjagaannya. Sejumlah hewan tersebut hidup di daerah tersebut, orang-orang Eropa di Bencoolen disuplai dengan banyak barang dari sana, namun tak sesegar, seperti yang tersaji pada acara-acara mereka. Kata Tuan Mr. Miller, mereka juga memiliki sejumlah besar anjing hitam kecil, dengan telinga yang ditandai, yang mereka gemukkan dan santap. Toddy atau arak kelapa mereka minum di acara-acara mereka.


The houses are built with frames of wood, with the sides of boards, and roof covered with iju. They usually consist of a single large room, which is entered by a trap-door in the middle. The number seldom exceeds twenty in one kampong; but opposite to each is a kind of open building that serves for sitting in during the day, and as a sleeping­place for the unmarried men at night. These together form a sort of street. To each kampong there is also a balei, where the inhabitants assemble for transacting public business, celebrating feasts, and the reception of strangers, whom they entertain with frankness and hospitality. At the end of this building is a place divided off, from whence the women see the spectacles of fencing and dancing; and below that is a kind of orchestra for music.


Pria diperbolehkan untuk menikahi banyak istri bila mereka mengijinkan, atau dapat melakukannya, dan memiliki persepuluhnya bukanlah hal yang tak umum. Setiap istri duduk di bagian berbeda dari ruang yang besar, dan timur menghadap satu sama lain; tidak dipisahkan menurut pemisahan atau pembagian rumah susun. Sehingga suami dapat menemukan istri yang dibutuhkan untuk bertindak adik terhadap setiap istri dalam hal tempat perapian dan alat masak, dimana mereka memiliki busana milik mereka yang berbeda, dan menyiapkannya balas budi. Bagaimana keadaan rumah tangga dan ketipisan batas imajiner disatukan dengan gagasan telaten, perasaan cinta tanpa disuruh dan jealousy supposed to prevail in an eastern harem? or must custom be allowed to supersede all other influence, both moral and physical? In other respects they differ little in their customs relating to marriage from the rest of the island. The parents of the girl always receive a valuable consideration (in buffaloes or horses) from the person to whom she is given in marriage; which is returned when a divorce takes place against the man's inclination. The daughters as elsewhere are looked upon as the riches of the fathers.


Kondisi wanita nampak tak lebih dari budak, suami memiliki kuasa menjual istri dan anak. Mereka sendiri, selain tugas-tugas rumah tangga, bekerja di penanaman padi. Hal tersebut disiapkan dalam gaya yang sama seperti di belahan pulau lainnya, kecuali di belahan tengah, the country being clearer, the plough and harrow, drawn by buffaloes, are more used. The men, when not engaged in war, their favourite occupation, commonly lead an idle, inactive life, passing the day in playing on a kind of flute, crowned with garlands of flowers; among which the globe-amaranthus, a native of the country, mostly prevails.


They are said however to hunt deer on horseback, and to be attached to the diversion of horseracing. They ride boldly without a saddle or stirrups, frequently throwing their hands upwards whilst pushing their horse to full speed. The bit of the bridle is of iron, and has several joints; the head-stall and reins of rattan: in some parts the reins, or halter rather, is of iju, and the bit of wood. They are, like the rest of the Sumatrans, much addicted to gaming, and the practice is under no kind of restraint, until it destroys itself by the ruin of one of the parties. When a man loses more money than he is able to pay he is confined and sold as a slave; being the most usual mode by which they become such. A generous winner will sometimes release his unfortunate adversary upon condition of his killing a horse and making a public entertainment.


Seperti yang sebelumnya teramati, mereka memiliki bahasa dan karakter penulisan khas untuk diri mereka sendiri, dan yang dianggap, dalam titik keaslian, sama dengan setidaknya orang-orang di belahan lain pulau tersebut. Seperti bahasa-bahasa di Jawa, Sulawesi, dan Filipina, meskipun bahasa tersebut mengambil banyak istilah yang umum dalam bahasa Melayu, (dalam penilaianku, semuanya dari satu hal umum), dalam cara pengambilan, dari pengaruh, baik politik maupun agama, diambil dari tetangga-tetangga langsungnya, lidah Batta nampak kurang memiliki perubahan pengalaman ketimbang yang lainnya. Untuk jenis kata-katanya, abjadnya, dan aturan dalam melafalkan huruf-hurufnya yang dimodifikasi dan diatur, para pembaca perlu membaca Tabel dan Plakat di atas. Hal ini mengingatkan agar proporsi orang yang dapat membaca dan menulis lebih besar ketimbang orang-orang yang tidak melakukannya; sebuah unsur kualifikasi yang teramati dalam belahan tak berperadaban semacam itu di dunia, dan selalu ditemukan kata-kata yang dipoles.


Tulisan mereka untuk keperluan umum, seperti yang dideskripsikan dalam pembicaraan orang-orang Rejang, dituliskan pada potongan-potongan bambu.


Buku-buku mereka (dan seperti yang kami duga) terdiri dari kulit dalam pohon tertentu yang dipotong menjadi selip-selip panjang dan dilapisi dalam bentuk persegi, meninggalkan bagian kayu di setiap ujung untuk dijadikan sampul luar. Kulit untuk keperluan ini dibuat halus dan tipi, dan setelah itu dituangi air beras. Pena yang dipakai oleh mereka adalah ranting atau serat daun, dan tinta mereka terbuat dari selaga dammar yang dicampur dengan perasan tebu. Isi buku-buku mereka sedikit yang diketahui kami. Tulisannya kebanyakan aku rasa bercampur dengan penggambaran kalajengking dan hewan berbisa lainnya, dan kemudian diagram-diagram, yang menyiratkan karya-karya astrologi dan keilahian mereka. Dalam buku-buku tersebut, kami mengetahui akan konsultasi dalam semua peralihan hidup, dan peristiwa yang dipreksi lewat penerapan karakter tertentu yang ditandapi pada selipan bambu, sampai baris kitab suci, yang membuat perbandingan. Namun, ini tak hanya gaya keilahian mereka. Sebelum maju perang, mereka membunuh kerbau atau unggas yang putih, dan dengan mengamati pergerakan penyeimbangan barang atau kekayaan yang nampak untuk menghadirkan mereka; dan pendeta yang melakukan upacara ini haruslah bersih, karena ia memprediksi peristiwa yang membuatnya terkadang dihukum mati karena keterampilannya. Namun, buku-buku penujuman tersebut secara eksklusif mengandung kisah-kisah legenda dan mitologi, yang contohnya akan diberikan pada artikel agama.


Dr. Leyden, in his Dissertation on the Languages and Literature of the Indo-Chinese nations, says that the Batta character is written neither from right to left, nor from left to right, nor from top to bottom, but in a manner directly opposite to that of the Chinese, from the bottom to the top of the line, and that I have conveyed an erroneous idea of their natural form by arranging the characters horizontally instead of placing them in a perpendicular line. Not having now the opportunity of verifying by ocular proof what I understood to be the practical order of their writing, namely, from left to right (in the manner of the Hindus, who, there is reason to believe, were the original instructors of all these people), I shall only observe that I have among my papers three distinct specimens of the Batta alphabet, written by different natives at different periods, and all of them are horizontal. But I am at the same time aware that as this was performed in the presence of Europeans, and upon our paper, they might have deviated from their ordinary practice, and that the evidence is therefore not conclusive. It might be presumed indeed that the books themselves would be sufficient criterion; but according to the position in which they are held they may be made to sanction either mode, although it is easy to determine by simple inspection the commencement of the lines. In the Batavian Transactions (Volume 3 page 23) already so often quoted, it is expressly said that these people write like Europeans from the left hand towards the right: and in truth it is not easy to conceive how persons making use of ink can conduct the hand from the bottom to the top of a page without marring their own performance. But still a matter of fact, if such it be, cannot give way to argument, and I have no object but to ascertain the truth.


Their religion, like that of all other inhabitants of the island who are not Mahometans, is so obscure in its principles as scarcely to afford room to say that any exists among them. Yet they have rather more of ceremony and observance than those of Rejang or Passummah, and there is an order of persons by them called guru (a well-known Hindu term), who may be denominated priests, as they are employed in administering oaths, foretelling lucky and unlucky days, making sacrifices, and the performance of funeral rites. For a knowledge of their theogony we are indebted to M. Siberg, governor of the Dutch settlements on the coast of Sumatra, by whom the following account was communicated to the late M. Radermacher, a distinguished member of the Batavian Society, and by him published in its Transactions.


The inhabitants of this country have many fabulous stories, which shall be briefly mentioned. They acknowledge three deities as rulers of the world, who are respectively named Batara-guru, Sori-pada, and Mangalla-bulang. The first, say they, bears rule in heaven, is the father of all mankind, and partly, under the following circumstances, creator of the earth, which from the beginning of time had been supported on the head of Naga-padoha, but, growing weary at length, he shook his head, which occasioned the earth to sink, and nothing remained in the world excepting water. They do not pretend to a knowledge of the creation of this original earth and water, but say that at the period when the latter covered everything, the chief deity, Batara­guru, had a daughter named Puti-orla-bulan, who requested permission to descend to these lower regions, and accordingly came down on a white owl, accompanied by a dog; but not being able, by reason of the waters, to continue there, her father let fall from heaven a lofty mountain, named Bakarra, now situated in the Batta country, as a dwelling for his child; and from this mountain all other land gradually proceeded. The earth was once more supported on the three horns of Naga-padoha, and that he might never again suffer it to fall off Batara-guru sent his son, named Layang-layang-mandi (literally the dipping swallow) to bind him hand and foot. But to his occasionally shaking his head they ascribe the effect of earthquakes. Puti-orla-bulan had afterwards, during her residence on earth, three sons and three daughters, from whom sprang the whole human race.

The second of their deities has the rule of the air betwixt earth and heaven, and the third that of the earth; but these two are considered as subordinate to the first. Besides these they have as many inferior deities as there are sensible objects on earth, or circumstances in human society; of which some preside over the sea, others over rivers, over woods, over war, and the like. They believe likewise in four evil spirits, dwelling in four separate mountains, and whatever ill befalls them they attribute to the agency of one of these demons. On such occasions they apply to one of their cunning men, who has recourse to his art, and by cutting a lemon ascertains which of these has been the author of the mischief, and by what means the evil spirit may be propitiated; which always proves to be the sacrificing a buffalo, hog, goat, or whatever animal the wizard happens on that day to be most inclined to eat. When the address is made to any of the superior and beneficent deities for assistance, and the priest directs an offering of a horse, cow, dog, hog, or fowl, care must be taken that the animal to be sacrificed is entirely white.

They have also a vague and confused idea of the immortality of the human soul, and of a future state of happiness or misery. They say that the soul of a dying person makes its escape through the nostrils, and is borne away by the wind, to heaven, if of a person who has led a good life, but if of an evil-doer, to a great cauldron, where it shall be exposed to fire until such time as Batara-guru shall judge it to have suffered punishment proportioned to its sins, and feeling compassion shall take it to himself in heaven: that finally the time shall come when the chains and bands of Naga-padoha shall be worn away, and he shall once more allow the earth to sink, that the sun will be then no more than a cubit's distance from it, and that the souls of those who, having lived well, shall remain alive at the last day, shall in like manner go to heaven, and those of the wicked, be consigned to the before-mentioned cauldron, intensely heated by the near approach of the sun's rays, to be there tormented by a minister of Batara-guru, named Suraya-guru, until, having expiated their offences, they shall be thought worthy of reception into the heavenly regions.

To the Sanskrit scholar who shall make allowances for corrupt orthography many of these names will be familiar. For Batara he will read avatara; and in Naga-padoha he will recognise the serpent on whom Vishnu reposes.


Their ceremonies that wear most the appearance of religion are those practised on taking an oath, and at their funeral obsequies. A person accused of a crime and who asserts his innocence is in some cases acquitted upon solemnly swearing to it, but in others is obliged to undergo a kind of ordeal. A cock's throat is usually cut on the occasion by the guru. The accused then puts a little rice into his mouth (probably dry), and wishes it may become a stone if he be guilty of the crime with which he stands charged, or, holding up a musket bullet, prays it may be his fate in that case to fall in battle. In more important instances they put a small leaden or tin image into the middle of a dish of rice, garnished with those bullets; when the man, kneeling down, prays that his crop of rice may fail, his cattle die, and that he himself may never take salt (a luxury as well as necessary of life), if he does not declare the truth. These tin images may be looked upon as objects of idolatrous worship; but I could not learn that any species of adoration was paid to them on other occasions any more than to certain stone images which have been mentioned. Like the relics of saints, they are merely employed to render the form of the oath more mysterious, and thereby increase the awe with which it should be regarded.


When a raja or person of consequence dies the funeral usually occupies several months; that is, the corpse is kept unburied until the neighbouring and distant chiefs, or, in common cases, the relations and creditors of the deceased, can be convened in order to celebrate the rites with becoming dignity and respect. Perhaps the season of planting or of harvest intervenes, and these necessary avocations must be attended to before the funeral ceremonies can be concluded. The body however is in the meantime deposited in a kind of coffin. To provide this they fell a large tree (the anau in preference, because of the softness of the central part, whilst the outer coat is hard), and, having cut a portion of the stem of sufficient length, they split it in two parts, hollow each part so as to form a receptacle for the body, and then fit them exactly together. The workmen take care to sprinkle the wood with the blood of a young hog, whose flesh is given to them as a treat. The coffin being thus prepared and brought into the house the body is placed in it, with a mat beneath, and a cloth laid over it. Where the family can afford the expense it is strewed over with camphor. Having now placed the two parts in close contact they bind them together with rattans, and cover the whole with a thick coating of dammar or resin. In some instances they take the precaution of inserting a bamboo-tube into the lower part, which, passing thence through the raised floor into the ground, serves to carry off the offensive matter; so that in fact little more than the bones remain.

When the relations and friends are assembled, each of whom brings with him a buffalo, hog, goat, dog, fowl, or other article of provision, according to his ability, and the women baskets of rice, which are presented and placed in order, the feasting begins and continues for nine days and nights, or so long as the provisions hold out. On the last of these days the coffin is carried out and set in an open space, where it is surrounded by the female mourners, on their knees, with their heads covered, and howling (ululantes) in dismal concert, whilst the younger persons of the family are dancing near it, in solemn movement, to the sound of gongs, kalintangs, and a kind of flageolet; at night it is returned to the house, where the dancing and music continues, with frequent firing of guns, and on the tenth day the body is carried to the grave, preceded by the guru or priest, whose limbs are tattooed in the shape of birds and beasts, and painted of different colours,* with a large wooden mask on his face.

(*Footnote. It is remarkable that in the Bisayan language of the Philippines the term for people so marked, whom the Spaniards call pintados, is batuc. This practice is common in the islands near the coast of Sumatra, as will hereafter be noticed. It seems to have prevailed in many parts of the farther East, as Siam, Laos, and several of the islands.)

He takes a piece of buffalo-flesh, swings it about, throwing himself into violent attitudes and strange contortions, and then eats the morsel in a voracious manner. He then kills a fowl over the corpse, letting the blood run down upon the coffin, and just before it is moved both he and the female mourners, having each a broom in their hands, sweep violently about it, as if to chase away the evil spirits and prevent their joining in the procession, when suddenly four men, stationed for the purpose, lift up the coffin, and march quickly off with it, as if escaping from the fiend, the priest continuing to sweep after it for some distance. It is then deposited in the ground, without any peculiar ceremony, at the depth of three or four feet; the earth about the grave is raised, a shed built over it, further feasting takes place on the spot for an indefinite time, and the horns and jaw-bones of the buffaloes and other cattle devoured on the occasion are fastened to the posts. Mr. John and Mr. Frederick Marsden were spectators of the funeral of a raja at Tappanuli on the main. Mr. Charles Miller mentions his having been present at killing the hundred and sixth buffalo at the grave of a raja, in a part of the country where the ceremony was sometimes continued even a year after the interment; and that they seem to regard their ancestors as a kind of superior beings, attendant always upon them.


The crimes committed here against the order and peace of society are said not to be numerous. Theft amongst themselves is almost unknown, being strictly honest in their dealings with each other; but when discovered the offender is made answerable for double the value of the goods stolen. Pilfering indeed from strangers, when not restrained by the laws of hospitality, they are expert at, and think no moral offence; because they do not perceive that any ill results from it. Open robbery and murder are punishable with death if the parties are unable to redeem their lives by a sum of money. A person guilty of manslaughter is obliged to bear the expense attending the interment of the deceased and the funeral-feast given to his friends, or, if too poor to accomplish this it is required of his nearest relation, who is empowered to reimburse himself by selling the offender as a slave. In cases of double adultery the man, upon detection, is punished with death, in the manner that shall presently be described; but the woman is only disgraced, by having her head shaven and being sold for a slave, which in fact she was before. This distribution of justice must proceed upon the supposition of the females being merely passive subjects, and of the men alone possessing the faculties of free agents. A single man concerned in adultery with a married woman is banished or outlawed by his own family. The lives of culprits are in almost all cases redeemable if they or their connections possess property sufficient, the quantum being in some measure at the discretion of the injured party. At the same time it must be observed that, Europeans not being settled amongst these people upon the same footing as in the pepper-districts, we are not so well acquainted either with the principle or the practice of their laws.


The most extraordinary of the Batta customs, though certainly not peculiar to these people, remains now to be described. Many of the old travellers had furnished the world with accounts of anthropophagi or maneaters, whom they met with in all parts of the old and new world, and their relations, true or false, were in those days, when people were addicted to the marvellous, universally credited. In the succeeding ages, when a more skeptical and scrutinizing spirit prevailed, several of these asserted facts were found upon examination to be false; and men, from a bias inherent in our nature, ran into the opposite extreme. It then became established as a philosophical truth, capable almost of demonstration, that no such race of people ever did or could exist. But the varieties, inconsistencies, and contradictions of human manners are so numerous and glaring that it is scarcely possible to fix any general principle that will apply to all the incongruous races of mankind, or even to conceive an irregularity to which some or other of them have not been accustomed.


The voyages of our late famous circumnavigators, the veracity of whose assertions is unimpeachable, have already proved to the world that human flesh is eaten by the savages of New Zealand; and I can with equal confidence, from conviction of the truth, though not with equal weight of authority, assert that it is also, in these days, eaten in the island of Sumatra by the Batta people, and by them only. Whether or not the horrible custom prevailed more extensively in ancient times I cannot take upon me to ascertain, but the same historians who mention it as practised in this island, and whose accounts were undeservedly looked upon as fabulous, relate it also of many others of the eastern people, and those of the island of Java in particular, who since that period may have become more humanized.*

(*Footnote. Mention is made of the Battas and their peculiar customs by the following early writers: NICOLO DI CONTI, 1449. "In a certain part of this island (Sumatra) called Batech, the people eat human flesh. They are continually at war with their neighbours, preserve the skulls of their enemies as treasure, dispose of them as money, and he is accounted the richest man who has most of them in his house." ODOARDUS BARBOSA, 1516. "There is another kingdom to the southward, which is the principal source of gold; and another inland, called Aaru (contiguous to the Batta country) where the inhabitants are pagans, who eat human flesh, and chiefly of those they have slain in war." DE BARROS, 1563. "The natives of that part of the island which is opposite to Malacca, who are called Batas, eat human flesh, and are the most savage and warlike of all the land." BEAULIEU, 1622. "The inland people are independent, and speak a language different from the Malayan. Are idolaters, and eat human flesh; never ransom prisoners, but eat them with pepper and salt. Have no religion, but some polity." LUDOVICO BARTHEMA, in 1505, asserts that the people of Java were cannibals previously to their traffic with the Chinese.)

They do not eat human flesh as the means of satisfying the cravings of nature, for there can be no want of sustenance to the inhabitants of such a country and climate, who reject no animal food of any kind; nor is it sought after as a gluttonous delicacy.


The Battas eat it as a species of ceremony; as a mode of showing their detestation of certain crimes by an ignominious punishment; and as a savage display of revenge and insult to their unfortunate enemies. The objects of this barbarous repast are prisoners taken in war, especially if badly wounded, the bodies of the slain, and offenders condemned for certain capital crimes, especially for adultery. Prisoners unwounded (but they are not much disposed to give quarter) may be ransomed or sold as slaves where the quarrel is not too inveterate; and the convicts, there is reason to believe, rarely suffer when their friends are in circumstances to redeem them by the customary equivalent of twenty binchangs or eighty dollars. These are tried by the people of the tribe where the offence was committed, but cannot be executed until their own particular raja has been made acquainted with the sentence, who, when he acknowledges the justice of the intended punishment, sends a cloth to cover the head of the delinquent, together with a large dish of salt and lemons. The unhappy victim is then delivered into the hands of the injured party (if it be a private wrong, or in the case of a prisoner to the warriors) by whom he is tied to a stake; lances are thrown at him from a certain distance by this person, his relations, and friends; and when mortally wounded they run up to him, as if in a transport of passion, cut pieces from the body with their knives, dip them in the dish of salt, lemon-juice, and red pepper, slightly broil them over a fire prepared for the purpose, and swallow the morsels with a degree of savage enthusiasm. Sometimes (I presume, according to the degree of their animosity and resentment) the whole is devoured by the bystanders; and instances have been known where, with barbarity still aggravated, they tear the flesh from the carcase with their teeth. To such a depth of depravity may man be plunged when neither religion nor philosophy enlighten his steps! All that can be said in extenuation of the horror of this diabolical ceremony is that no view appears to be entertained of torturing the sufferers, of increasing or lengthening out the pangs of death; the whole fury is directed against the corpse, warm indeed with the remains of life, but past the sensation of pain. A difference of opinion has existed with respect to the practice of eating the bodies of their enemies actually slain in war; but subsequent inquiry has satisfied me of its being done, especially in the case of distinguished persons, or those who have been accessories to the quarrel. It should be observed that their campaigns (which may be aptly compared to the predatory excursions of our Borderers) often terminate with the loss of not more than half a dozen men on both sides. The skulls of the victims are hung up as trophies in the open buildings in front of their houses, and are occasionally ransomed by their surviving relations for a sum of money.


I have found that some persons (and among them my friend, the late Mr. Alexander Dalrymple) have entertained doubts of the reality of the fact that human flesh is anywhere eaten by mankind as a national practice, and considered the proofs hitherto adduced as insufficient to establish a point of so much moment in the history of the species. It is objected to me that I never was an eyewitness of a Batta feast of this nature, and that my authority for it is considerably weakened by coming through a second, or perhaps a third hand. I am sensible of the weight of this reasoning, and am not anxious to force any man's belief, much less to deceive him by pretences to the highest degree of certainty, when my relation can only lay claim to the next degree; but I must at the same time observe that, according to my apprehension, the refusing assent to fair, circumstantial evidence, because it clashes with a systematic opinion, is equally injurious to the cause of truth with asserting that as positive which is only doubtful. My conviction of the truth of what I have not personally seen (and we must all be convinced of facts to which neither ourselves nor those with whom we are immediately connected could ever have been witnesses) has arisen from the following circumstances, some of less, and some of greater authority. It is in the first place a matter of general and uncontroverted notoriety throughout the island, and I have conversed with many natives of the Batta country (some of them in my own service), who acknowledged the practice, and became ashamed of it after residing amongst more humanized people. It has been my chance to have had no fewer than three brothers and brothers-in-law, beside several intimate friends (of whom some are now in England), chiefs of our settlements of Natal and Tappanuli, of whose information I availed myself, and all their accounts I have found to agree in every material point. The testimony of Mr. Charles Miller, whose name, as well as that of his father, is advantageously known to the literary world, should alone be sufficient for my purpose. In addition to what he has related in his journal he has told me that at one village where he halted the suspended head of a man, whose body had been eaten a few days before, was extremely offensive; and that in conversation with some people of the Ankola district, speaking of their neighbours and occasional enemies of the Pa­dambola district, they described them as an unprincipled race, saying, "We, indeed, eat men as a punishment for their crimes and injuries to us; but they waylay and seize travellers in order to ber-bantei or cut them up like cattle." It is here obviously the admission and not the scandal that should have weight. When Mr. Giles Holloway was leaving Tappanuli and settling his accounts with the natives he expostulated with a Batta man who had been dilatory in his payment. "I would," says the man, "have been here sooner, but my pangulu (superior officer) was detected in familiarity with my wife. He was condemned, and I stayed to eat share of him; the ceremony took us up three days, and it was only last night that we finished him." Mr. Miller was present at this conversation, and the man spoke with perfect seriousness. A native of the island of Nias, who had stabbed a Batta man in a fit of frenzy at Batang-tara river, near Tappanuli bay, and endeavoured to make his escape, was, upon the alarm being given, seized at six in the morning, and before eleven, without any judicial process, was tied to a stake, cut in pieces with the utmost eagerness while yet alive, and eaten upon the spot, partly broiled, but mostly raw. His head was buried under that of the man whom he had murdered. This happened in December 1780, when Mr. William Smith had charge of the settlement. A raja was fined by Mr. Bradley for having caused a prisoner to be eaten at a place too close to the Company's settlement, and it should have been remarked that these feasts are never suffered to take place withinside their own kampongs. Mr. Alexander Hall made a charge in his public accounts of a sum paid to a raja as an inducement to him to spare a man whom he had seen preparing for a victim: and it is in fact this commendable discouragement of the practice by our government that occasions its being so rare a sight to Europeans, in a country where there are no travellers from curiosity, and where the servants of the Company, having appearances to maintain, cannot by their presence as idle spectators give a sanction to proceedings which it is their duty to discourage, although their influence is not sufficient to prevent them.

A Batta chief, named raja Niabin, in the year 1775 surprised a neighbouring kampong with which he was at enmity, killed the raja by stealth, carried off the body, and ate it. The injured family complained to Mr. Nairne, the English chief of Natal, and prayed for redress. He sent a message on the subject to Niabin, who returned an insolent and threatening answer. Mr. Nairne, influenced by his feelings rather than his judgment (for these people were quite removed from the Company's control, and our interference in their quarrels was not necessary) marched with a party of fifty or sixty men, of whom twelve were Europeans, to chastise him; but on approaching the village they found it so perfectly enclosed with growing bamboos, within which was a strong paling, that they could not even see the place or an enemy.


As they advanced however to examine the defences a shot from an unseen person struck Mr. Nairne in the breast, and he expired immediately. In him was lost a respectable gentleman of great scientific acquirements, and a valuable servant of the Company. It was with much difficulty that the party was enabled to save the body. A caffree and a Malay who fell in the struggle were afterwards eaten. Thus the experience of later days is found to agree with the uniform testimony of old writers; and although I am aware that each and every of these proofs taken singly may admit of some cavil, yet in the aggregate they will be thought to amount to satisfactory evidence that human flesh is habitually eaten by a certain class of the inhabitants of Sumatra.

That this extraordinary nation has preserved the rude genuineness of its character and manners may be attributed to various causes; as the want of the precious metals in its country to excite the rapacity of invaders or avarice of colonists, the vegetable riches of the soil being more advantageously obtained in trade from the unmolested labours of the natives; their total unacquaintance with navigation; the divided nature of their government and independence of the petty chieftains. which are circumstances unfavourable to the propagation of new opinions and customs, as the contrary state of society may account for the complete conversion of the subjects of Menangkabau to the faith of Mahomet; and lastly the ideas entertained of the ferociousness of the people from the practices above described, which may well be supposed to have damped the ardour and restrained the zealous attempts of religious innovators.