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Title: The uncivilized races of men in all countries of the world; vol. 2 of 2

Author: J. G. Wood

Release date: September 30, 2022 [eBook #69074]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: J. B. Burr Publishing Co, 1875

Credits: Brian Coe, Harry Lamé and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This book was produced from images made available by the HathiTrust Digital Library.)


Transcriber’s Notes

This is Volume II of II of this work, containing (after the front matter) page numbers 769-1481, chapters LXXVI-CLXX, and illustration numbers 212-443; Volume I contains (after the front matter) pages 11-768, chapters I-LXXV, and illustration numbers 1-211. For ease of reference, the Table of Contents, List of Illustrations and Index have been included in both volumes. Hyperlinks have only been provided for links internal to this volume.

More information on the transcription and the changes made may be found in the Transcriber’s Notes at the end of this text.

The cover image has been created for this e-text and is in the public domain.








Rev. J. G. WOOD, M.A., F.L.S.






In this volume will be found a selection of the most interesting uncivilized tribes that inhabit, or once inhabited, America and the vast number of islands which lie between that country and the eastern coast of Asia, including among them the great groups of Australia and New Zealand. A short notice is given of the long-perished Lake-dwellers of Switzerland, and the partial civilization of India, China, Japan and Siam is also represented.

My best thanks are due to the Geographical and Anthropological Societies, for the constant access permitted to their libraries, and to the Curator of the “Christy Collection,” for the assistance which he rendered in the illustration of the work.


1. Pictorial representation of African races Frontispiece.
2. Kaffir from childhood to age 13
3. Old councillor and wives 13
4. Kaffir cradle 18
5. Young Kaffir armed 21
6. Kaffir postman 21
7. Unmarried Kaffir girls 25
8. Old Kaffir women 25
9. Kaffir ornaments—necklaces, belt, etc. 33
10. Kaffir needles and sheaths 33
11. Articles of costume 33
12. Dolls representing the Kaffir dress 33
13. Bracelets made of the hoof of the bluebok 39
14. Apron of chief’s wife 39
15. Ivory armlets 39
16. Necklaces—beads and teeth 39
17. Young Kaffir in full dress 43
18. Girl in dancing dress 43
19. Kaffir ornaments 49
20. Dress and ornaments 49
21. The Kaffirs at home 57
22. Interior of a Kaffir hut 63
23. A Kaffir kraal 63
24. A Kaffir milking bowl 67
25. A Kaffir beer bowl 67
26. A Kaffir beer strainer 67
27. A Kaffir water pipe 67
28. Woman’s basket 67
29. Kaffir cattle—training the horns 73
30. Return of a Kaffir war party 73
31. Procession of the bride 83
32. Kaffir passing his mother-in-law 88
33. Bridegroom on approval 97
34. Kaffir at his forge 97
35. Spoons for eating porridge 103
36. Group of assagais 103
37. Kaffir warriors skirmishing 111
38. Muscular advocacy 111
39. Goza, the Kaffir chief, in ordinary undress 117
40. Goza in full war dress, with his councillors 117
41. Panda’s review 121
42. Hunting scene in Kaffirland 121
43. Cooking elephant’s foot 133
44. A Kaffir dinner party 145
45. Soldiers lapping water 145
46. A Kaffir harp 155
47. Exterior of a Kaffir hut 155
48. Spoon, ladle, skimmers 155
49. A Kaffir water pipe 155
50. A Kaffir fowl house 155
51. Necklace made of human finger bones 167
52. A remarkable gourd snuff-box 167
53. Poor man’s pipe 167
54. Kaffir gentlemen smoking 167
55. The prophet’s school 174
56. The prophet’s return 174
57. Old Kaffir prophets 177
58. The Kaffir prophetess at work 188
59. Unfavorable prophecy 188
60. Preserved head 203
61. Head of Mundurucú chief 203
62. Burial of King Tchaka’s mother 203
63. Dingan, the Kaffir monarch, at home 209
64. Kaffir women quarrelling 209
65. Hottentot girl 219
66. Hottentot woman 219
67. Hottentot young man 223
68. Hottentot in full dress 223
69. Hottentot kraal 229
70. Card playing by Hottentots 237
71. Bosjesman shooting cattle 237
72. Grapple plant 247
73. Bosjesman woman and child 247
74. Hottentots asleep 247
75. Bosjesman quiver 247
76. Frontlet of Hottentot girl 247
77. Poison grub 259
78. Portrait of Koranna chief 271
79. Namaquas shooting at the storm 271
80. Knife and assagai heads 281
81. Bechuana knives 281
82. A Bechuana apron 281
83. Ornament made of monkeys’ teeth 281
84. Bechuana parliament 287
85. Female architects among the Bechuanas 287
86. Magic dice of the Bechuanas 292
87. Spartan practices among the Bechuanas 294
88. The girl’s ordeal among the Bechuanas 294
89. Plan of Bechuana house 299
90. Bechuana funeral 302
91. Grave and monument of Damara chief 302
92. Damara warrior and wife 308
93. Damara girl resting 308
94. Portrait of Ovambo girl 317
95. Ovambo women pounding corn 317
96. Ovambo houses 329
97. Makololo house building 329
98. Children’s games among the Makololo 333
99. M’Bopo, a Makololo chief, at home 333
100. Spearing the hippopotamus 343
101. The final attack 343
102. Boating scene on the Bo-tlet-le River 351
103. Batoka salutation 351
104. Batoka men 357
105. Pelele, or lip ring, of the Manganjas 357
106. Hippopotamus trap 363
107. Axes of the Banyai 363
108. The marimba, or African piano 371
109. Singular headdress of the Balonda women 371
110. Wagogo greediness 387
111. Architecture of the Weezee 387
112. A husband’s welcome among the Weezee 391
113. Sultan Ukulima drinking pombé 391
114. Harvest scene among the Wanyamuezi 397
115. Salutation by the Watusi 397
116. Rumanika’s private band 404
117. Arrest of the queen 412
118. Reception of a visitor by the Waganda 417
119. The magician of Unyoro at work 417
120. Wanyoro culprit in the shoe 423
121. Group of Gani and Madi 431
122. Removal of a village by Madi 431
123. Group of the Kytch tribe 437
124. Neam-Nam fighting 437
125. Wooden chiefs of the Dôr 449
126. Scalp-locks of the Djibbas 449
127. Bracelets of the Djibbas 449
128. Ornaments of the Djour 449
129. Women’s knives 449
130. A Nuehr helmet 449
131. The Latooka victory 457
132. Gorilla hunting by the Fans 457
133. A Bari homestead 465
134. Funeral dance of the Latookas 465
135. The ceremony of M’paza 478
136. Obongo market 478
137. The giant dance of the Aponos 486
138. Fishing scene among the Bakalai 486
139. Ashira farewell 499
140. Olenda’s salutation to an Ishogo chief 499
141. A Camma dance 508
142. Quengueza’s (chief of the Camma) walk 508
143. The Camma fetish man ejecting a demon 517
144. Olanga drinking mboundou 517
145. Fate of the Shekiani wizard 526
146. The Mpongwé coronation 526
147. Attack on a Mpongwé village 537
148. Bargaining for a wife by the Fanti 537
149. The primeval child in Dahome 552
150. Fetishes, male and female, of the Krumen 552
151. Dahoman ivory trumpets 558
152. Dahoman war drum 558
153. War knives of the Fanti 558
154. Fetish trumpet and drum 558
155. Ashanti caboceer and soldiers 564
156. Punishment of a snake killer 564
157. “The bell comes” 569
158. Dahoman amazons 569
159. Amazon review 576
160. The Dahoman king’s dance 576
161. The basket sacrifice in Dahome 583
162. Head worship in Dahome 595
163. The attack on Abeokuta 595
164. The Alaké’s (king of the Egbas) court 605
165. Mumbo Jumbo 605
166. A Bubé marriage 612
167. Kanemboo man and woman 612
168. Washing day in Abyssinia 617
169. A Congo coronation 617
170. Ju-ju execution 619
171. Shooa women 631
172. Tuaricks and Tibboos 631
173. Begharmi lancers 638
174. Musgu chief 638
175. Dinner party in Abyssinia 643
176. Abyssinian heads 643
177. King Theodore and the lions 652
178. Pleaders in the courts 652
179. A battle between Abyssinians and Gallas 662
180. Interior of an Abyssinian house 662
181. Buffalo dance in Abyssinia 670
182. Bedouin camp 670
183. Hunting the hippopotamus 679
184. Travellers and the mirage 679
185. Travelling in Madagascar 692
186. Australian man and woman 698
187. Women and old man of Lower Murray 698
188. Hunter and his day’s provision 707
189. The sea-grass cloak 707
190. Bee hunting 716
191. Australian cooking a snake 716
192. Australian tomahawks 722
193. Australian clubs 722
194. Australian saw 722
195. Tattooing chisels 722
196. Man of Torres Strait 722
197. Basket—South Australia 722
198. Heads of Australian spears 731
199. Throw-sticks of the Australians 731
200. Boomerangs of the Australians 731
201. Spearing the kangaroo 739
202. Catching the cormorant 739
203. Australian shields 742
204. The kuri dance 749
205. Palti dance, or corrobboree 749
206. An Australian feast 759
207. Australian mothers 759
208. Mintalta, a Nauo man 765
209. Young man and boy of South Australia 765
210. Hut for cure of disease 765
211. Tomb of skulls 765
212. Tree tomb of Australia 775
213. Smoking bodies of slain warriors 775
214. Carved feather box 775
215. Australian widows and their caps 781
216. Cave with native drawings 781
217. Winter huts in Australia 787
218. A summer encampment 787
219. New Zealander from childhood to age 794
220. Woman and boy of New Zealand 803
221. A tattooed chief and his wife 803
222. Maori women making mats 809
223. The Tangi 809
224. Parátene Maioha in his state war cloak 820
225. The chiefs daughter 820
226. Hongi-hongi, chief of Waipa 820
227. Maories preparing for a feast 831
228. Maori chiefs’ storehouses 831
229. Cannibal cookhouse 835
230. Maori pah 835
231. Green jade ornaments 841
232. Maori weapons 841
233. Wooden and bone merais 841
234. Maori war dance 847
235. Te Ohu, a native priest 860
236. A tiki at Raroera pah 860
237. Tiki from Whakapokoko 860
238. Mourning over a dead chief 872
239. Tomb of E’ Toki 872
240. Rangihaeta’s war house 877
241. Interior of a pah or village 877
242. Maori paddles 881
243. Green jade adze and chisel 881
244. Common stone adze 881
245. A Maori toko-toko 881
246. New Caledonians defending their coast 893
247. Andamaners cooking a pig 893
248. A scene in the Nicobar Islands 903
249. The Outanatas and their weapons 903
250. The monkey men of Dourga Strait 909
251. Canoes of New Guinea 909
252. Huts of New Guinea 916
253. Dance by torchlight in New Guinea 916
254. The ambassador’s message 924
255. The canoe in a breeze 924
256. Presentation of the canoe 937
257. A Fijian feast 943
258. The fate of the boaster 943
259. Fijian idol 949
260. The orator’s flapper 949
261. Fijian spear 949
262. Fijian clubs 949
263. A Fijian wedding 957
264. House thatching by Fijians 957
265. A Buré, or temple, in Fiji 963
266. View in Makira harbor 963
267. Man and woman of Vaté 973
268. Woman and child of Vanikoro 973
269. Daughter of Tongan chief 973
270. Burial of a living king 980
271. Interior of a Tongan house 980
272. The kava party in Tonga 988
273. Tongan plantation 991
274. Ceremony of inachi 991
275. The tow-tow 999
276. Consulting a priest 999
277. Tattooing day in Samoa 1012
278. Cloth making by Samoan women 1012
279. Samoan club 1018
280. Armor of Samoan warrior 1018
281. Beautiful paddle of Hervey Islanders 1018
282. Ornamented adze magnified 1018
283. Spear of Hervey Islanders 1018
284. Shark tooth gauntlets 1025
285. Samoan warriors exchanging defiance 1027
286. Pigeon catching by Samoans 1027
287. Battle scene in Hervey Islands 1035
288. Village in Kingsmill Islands 1035
289. Shark tooth spear 1041
290. Shark’s jaw 1041
291. Swords of Kingsmill Islanders 1041
292. Tattooed chiefs of Marquesas 1046
293. Marquesan chief’s hand 1046
294. Neck ornament 1046
295. Marquesan chief in war dress 1046
296. The war dance of the Niuans 1054
297. Tahitans presenting the cloth 1054
298. Dressing the idols by Society Islanders 1067
299. The human sacrifice by Tahitans 1077
300. Corpse and chief mourner 1077
301. Tane, the Tahitan god, returning home 1084
302. Women and pet pig of Sandwich Islands 1084
303. Kamehameha’s exploit with spears 1089
304. Masked rowers 1089
305. Surf swimming by Sandwich Islanders 1093
306. Helmet of Sandwich Islanders 1097
307. Feather idol of Sandwich Islanders 1097
308. Wooden idol of Sandwich Islanders 1097
309. Romanzoff Islanders, man and woman 1101
310. Dyak warrior and dusum 1101
311. Investiture of the rupack 1105
312. Warrior’s dance among Pelew Islanders 1105
313. Illinoan pirate and Saghai Dyak 1113
314. Dyak women 1113
315. Parang-latok of the Dyaks 1122
316. Sumpitans of the Dyaks 1122
317. Parang-ihlang of the Dyaks 1122
318. The kris, or dagger, of the Dyaks 1129
319. Shields of Dyak soldiers 1129
320. A parang with charms 1129
321. A Dyak spear 1129
322. Canoe fight of the Dyaks 1139
323. A Dyak wedding 1139
324. A Dyak feast 1147
325. A Bornean adze axe 1152
326. A Dyak village 1153
327. A Dyak house 1153
328. Fuegian man and woman 1163
329. Patagonian man and woman 1163
330. A Fuegian settlement 1169
331. Fuegians shifting quarters 1169
332. Araucanian stirrups and spur 1175
333. Araucanian lassos 1175
334. Patagonian bolas 1175
335. Spanish bit and Patagonian fittings 1175
336. Patagonians hunting game 1180
337. Patagonian village 1187
338. Patagonian burial ground 1187
339. A Mapuché family 1201
340. Araucanian marriage 1201
341. Mapuché medicine 1207
342. Mapuché funeral 1207
343. The macana club 1212
344. Guianan arrows and tube 1214
345. Gran Chaco Indians on the move 1218
346. The ordeal of the “gloves” 1218
347. Guianan blow guns 1225
348. Guianan blow-gun arrow 1225
349. Guianan winged arrows 1225
350. Guianan cotton basket 1225
351. Guianan quiver 1225
352. Guianan arrows rolled around stick 1225
353. Guianan arrows strung 1225
354. Feathered arrows of the Macoushies 1231
355. Cassava dish of the Macoushies 1231
356. Guianan quake 1231
357. Arrow heads of the Macoushies 1231
358. Guianan turtle arrow 1231
359. Guianan quiver for arrow heads 1231
360. Feather apron of the Mundurucús 1231
361. Head-dresses of the Macoushies 1238
362. Guianan clubs 1238
363. Guianan cradle 1238
364. A Warau house 1244
365. Lake dwellers of the Orinoco 1244
366. Guianan tipiti and bowl 1249
367. Guianan twin bottles 1249
368. Feather apron of the Caribs 1249
369. Bead apron of the Guianans 1249
370. The spathe of the Waraus 1249
371. The Maquarri dance 1260
372. Shield wrestling of the Waraus 1260
373. Jaguar bone flute of the Caribs 1265
374. Rattle of the Guianans 1265
375. Mexican stirrups 1265
376. Iron and stone tomahawks 1265
377. Indian shield and clubs 1265
378. Mandan chief Mah-to-toh-pa and wife 1277
379. A Crow chief 1284
380. American Indians scalping 1284
381. Flint-headed arrow 1290
382. Camanchees riding 1291
383. “Smoking” horses 1291
384. Snow shoe 1295
385. Bison hunting scene 1299
386. Buffalo dance 1299
387. The Mandan ordeal 1305
388. The last race 1305
389. The medicine man at work 1311
390. The ball play of the Choctaws 1311
391. Indian pipes 1315
392. Ee-e-chin-che-a in war costume 1318
393. Grandson of a Blackfoot chief 1318
394. Pshan-shaw, a girl of the Riccarees 1318
395. Flat-head woman and child 1319
396. Indian canoe 1322
397. Snow shoe dance 1322
398. Dance to the medicine of the brave 1322
399. The canoe race 1327
400. Esquimaux dwellings 1327
401. Esquimaux harpoon head 1337
402. Burial of Blackbird, an Omaha chief 1341
403. Esquimaux spearing the walrus 1341
404. The kajak and its management 1347
405. Esquimaux sledge driving 1347
406. Wrist-guard of the Esquimaux 1353
407. Esquimaux fish-hooks 1353
408. Feathered arrows of Aht tribe 1356
409. Ingenious fish-hook of the Ahts 1357
410. Remarkable carved pipes of the Ahts 1357
411. Bow of the Ahts of Vancouver’s Island 1357
412. Beaver mask of the Aht tribe 1357
413. Singular head-dress of the Aht chiefs 1357
414. Decorated paddles of the Ahts 1357
415. Canoe of the Ahts 1361
416. Aht dance 1367
417. Initiation of a dog eater 1367
418. A Sowrah marriage 1387
419. A Meriah sacrifice 1387
420. Bows and quiver of Hindoos 1394
421. Ingenious ruse of Bheel robbers 1397
422. A Ghoorka attacked by a tiger 1397
423. A Ghoorka necklace 1403
424. A kookery of the Ghoorka tribe 1403
425. The chakra or quoit weapon 1403
426. Indian arms and armor 1403
427. Suit of armor inlaid with gold 1406
428. Chinese repeating crossbow 1425
429. Mutual assistance 1427
430. Chinese woman’s foot and shoe 1428
431. Mandarin and wife 1437
432. Various modes of torture 1437
433. Mouth organ 1445
434. Specimens of Chinese art 1446
435. Decapitation of Chinese criminal 1451
436. The street ballad-singer 1451
437. Japanese lady in a storm 1454
438. Japanese lady on horseback 1455
439. Capture of the truant husbands 1464
440. Candlestick and censers 1465
441. Suit of Japanese armor 1469
442. King S. S. P. M. Mongkut of Siam 1469
443. Portrait of celebrated Siamese actress 1469


Chap. Page.
I. Intellectual Character 11
II. Course of Life 17
III. Course of LifeConcluded 20
IV. Masculine Dress and Ornaments 28
V. Masculine Dress and OrnamentsConcluded 36
VI. Feminine Dress and Ornaments 48
VII. Architecture 56
VIII. Cattle Keeping 66
IX. Marriage 75
X. MarriageConcluded 82
XI. War—Offensive Weapons 92
XII. War—Defensive Weapons 108
XIII. Hunting 126
XIV. Agriculture 138
XV. Food 143
XVI. Social Characteristics 159
XVII. Religion and Superstition 169
XVIII. Religion and SuperstitionContinued 180
XIX. SuperstitionConcluded 192
XX. Funeral Rites 200
XXI. Domestic Life 206
XXII. The Hottentot Races 217
XXIII. Marriage, Language, Amusements 232
XXIV. Appearance—Social Life 242
XXV. Architecture—Weapons 251
XXVI. Amusements 262
XXVII. Korannas and Namaquas 269
XXVIII. The Bechuanas 280
XXIX. The BechuanasConcluded 291
XXX. The Damara Tribe 304
XXXI. The Ovambo, or Ovampo 315
XXXII. The Makololo Tribe 324
XXXIII. The Bayeye and Makoba 337
XXXIV. The Batoka and Manganja 348
XXXV. The Banyai and Badema 361
XXXVI. The Balondo, or Balonda, and Angolese 369
XXXVII. Wagogo and Wanyamuezi 384
XXXVIII. Karague 399
XXXIX. The Watusi and Waganda 408
XL. The Wanyoro 422
XLI. Gani, Madi, Obbo, and Kytch 429
XLII. The Neam-Nam, Dôr, and Djour tribes 440
XLIII. The Latooka tribe 453
XLIV. The Shir, Bari, Djibba, Nuehr, Dinka, and Shillook tribes 461
XLV. The Ishogo, Ashango, and Obongo tribes 475
XLVI. The Apono and Apingi 484
XLVII. The Bakalai 491
XLVIII. The Ashira 496
XLIX. The Camma or Commi 504
L. The Shekiani and Mpongwé 521
LI. The Fans 529
LII. The FansConcluded 535
LIII. The Krumen and Fanti 544
LIV. The Ashanti 554
LV. Dahome 561
LVI. DahomeContinued 573
LVII. DahomeConcluded 581
LVIII. The Egbas 590
LIX. Bonny 600
LX. The Man-dingoes 607
LXI. The Bubes and Congoese 610
LXII. Bornu 620
LXIII. The Shooas, Tibboos, Tuaricks, Begharmis, and Musguese 628
LXIV. Abyssinians 641
LXV. AbyssiniansContinued 649
LXVI. AbyssiniansConcluded 658
LXVII. Nubians and Hamran Arabs 673
LXVIII. Bedouins, Hassaniyehs, and Malagasy 681
LXIX. Appearance and Character of Natives 694
LXX. Dress—Food 703
LXXI. Weapons 719
LXXII. WeaponsConcluded 727
LXXIII. War—Amusements 744
LXXIV. Domestic Life 755
LXXV. From Childhood to Manhood 761


LXXVI. Medicine—Surgery—Disposal of Dead 769
LXXVII. Dwellings—Canoes 784
LXXVIII. General Remarks 792
LXXIX. Dress 800
LXXX. DressConcluded 807
LXXXI. Domestic Life 816
LXXXII. Food and Cookery 826
LXXXIII. War 838
LXXXIV. Canoes 852
LXXXV. Religion 856
LXXXVI. The Tapu 863
LXXXVII. Funeral Ceremonies—Architecture 869
LXXXVIII. Appearance—Dress—Warfare 883
LXXXIX. Origin of Natives—Appearance—Character—Education 888
XC. Papuans and Outanatas 898
XCI. The Alfoërs or Haraforas 905
XCII. The Ajitas or Ahitas 919
XCIII. Appearance—Dress 922
XCIV. Manufactures 929
XCV. Government—Social Life 934
XCVI. War—Amusements 948
XCVII. Religion—Funeral Rites 960
XCVIII. Character—Dress—Customs 968
XCIX. Government—Gradations of Rank 976
C. War and Ceremonies 984
CI. Sickness—Burial—Games 997
CII. Appearance—Character—Dress 1008
CIII. War 1016
CIV. Amusements—Marriage—Architecture 1028
CV. Appearance—Weapons—Government 1032
CVI. Dress—Amusements—War—Burial 1044
CVII. Origin—Costume—Laws—Burial 1052
CVIII. Appearance—Dress—Social Customs 1057
CIX. Religion 1064
CX. History—War—Funerals—Legends 1072
CXI. Climate—Dress—Ornaments—Women 1081
CXII. War—Sport—Religion 1088
CXIII. Dress—Architecture—Amusements—War 1100
CXIV. The Dyaks, Appearance and Dress 1110
CXV. War 1119
CXVI. WarConcluded 1128
CXVII. Social Life 1137
CXVIII. Architecture, Manufactures 1149
CXIX. Religion—Omens—Funerals 1157
CXX. Appearance—Architecture—Manufactures 1161
CXXI. Appearance—Weapons—Horsemanship 1172
CXXII. Domestic Life 1183
CXXIII. Dress—Etiquette—Government 1190
CXXIV. Domestic Life 1196
CXXV. Games—Social Customs 1204
CXXVI. Appearance—Weapons—Character 1211
CXXVII. Manufactures—Social Customs 1215
CXXVIII. Weapons 1221
CXXIX. WeaponsConcluded 1228
CXXX. War—Superstition 1239
CXXXI. Architecture—Social Customs 1245
CXXXII. Dress—Amusements 1255
CXXXIII. Religion—Burial 1263
CXXXIV. History—Religion—Art 1271
CXXXV. Government—Customs 1273
CXXXVI. War 1281
CXXXVII. Hunting—Amusements 1293
CXXXVIII. Religion—Superstition 1301
CXXXIX. Social Life 1316
CXL. Appearance—Dress—Manners 1333
CXLI. Hunting—Religion—Burial 1338
CXLII. The Ahts, and Neighboring Tribes 1354
CXLIII. Canoes—Feasts—Dances 1362
CXLIV. Architecture—Religion—Disposal of Dead 1369
CXLV. Malemutes—Ingeletes—Co-yukons 1374
CXLVI. The Tchuktchi—Jakuts—Tungusi 1377
CXLVII. The Samoïedes—Ostiaks 1381
CXLVIII. The Sowrahs and Khonds 1385
CXLIX. Weapons 1395
CL. Sacrificial Religion 1407
CLI. The Indians, with relation to Animals 1416
CLII. The Mantchu Tartars 1422
CLIII. Appearance—Dress—Food 1426
CLIV. Warfare 1433
CLV. Social Characteristics 1441
CLVI. Dress—Art—Amusements 1449
CLVII. Miscellaneous Customs 1458
CLVIII. Government—Dress—Religion 1467
CLIX. The Swiss Lake-Dwellers 1473
CLX. The Makondé 1475
CLXI. The Waiyau 1478
CLXII. The Babisa and Babemba 1482
CLXIII. The Manyuema 1487
CLXIV. The ManyuemaConcluded 1492
CLXV. Unyamwezi 1496
CLXVI. Uvinza and Uhha 1500
CLXVII. The Monbuttoo 1503
CLXVIII. The Pygmies 1508
CLXIX. General Characteristics of African Tribes 1511
CLXX. The African Slave Trade 1515
CLXXI. The Kakhyens 1520




We will now see how the Australian natives treat sickness of various kinds. Among them are certain personages called bilbos, or doctors, to whom the sick usually appeal in cases of illness or pain. It is not known, however, whether the mere fact of age gives a man the rank of bilbo, or whether it is attained by sundry ceremonials, as is the case with the Africans and other savages.

The most usual mode of treating any local disease or pain is by pressing the hands upon the affected part, and kneading it, a remedy which is found in every part of the world, and which is really efficacious in many complaints, especially in rheumatic affections, or in sprained or over-exerted muscles. If a limb be wounded, bruised, or sore, the native practitioners tie a fillet tightly above it, for the purpose, as they say, of preventing the malady from reaching the body. Headaches are treated by tying a bandage firmly round the temples, and, if the pain be obstinate, the doctors bleed the patient under the arm, using a sharp piece of quartz as a lancet. The flowing blood is never allowed to be wasted, but is received on the body of the operator, and diligently rubbed into the skin, under the notion that by this process both parties are strengthened. This depends, however, on the sex of the patient, women being never bled, nor allowed to have the blood of any other person sprinkled upon them.

About 1832, a curious disease broke out among the natives of Wellington Valley, resembling the small-pox in many things, and yet displaying symptoms which scarcely belong to that dread disease, the one fatal scourge of savage tribes. It was preceded by headache, fever, sore-throat, &c., and accompanied by pustules very much resembling those of the small-pox. It was, however, scarcely virulent enough for the real disease, though it was probably a milder form of it, and was subject to the power of vaccine matter. It was not limited to the natives, but attacked many Europeans just like the genuine small-pox, and in one case was fatal.

It is here mentioned on account of the mode of cure adopted by the native doctors. They punctured the pustules with sharp fish-bones, and squeezed them well with the blunt end of their rude lancets, and it is a noteworthy fact that the rate of mortality was very much reduced. Of course the doctors used other modes, whereby they gave their patients confidence in their powers. The chief of these was performed by means of a number of slender rods, six to nine feet in length, which were stuck in the ground in the form of a crescent, and addressed with long speeches and many mysterious gestures. Among the Australians, this disease, whatever it may be, does not strike the abject terror with which it is usually accompanied. Although they know that it is infectious, they do not abandon the sick person, unless perhaps the doctor pronounces the patient incurable; in which[770] case they save him prolonged pain, and themselves useless trouble, by burying him alive. The native term for this disease is “thunna-thunna,” and it is known to have existed when the country was first discovered, so that it is not imported from civilized countries.

Another remarkable kind of cure for the headache is mentioned by Mr. Angas. The patient being seated on the ground, a string is tied round his head, the knot being carefully adjusted to the middle of the forehead. The operator, who is always a woman, seats herself opposite the patient, places the line between her lips, and frets them with it until they bleed freely. The idea is that the disease, attracted by the blood, passes along the line from the patient’s head, and is cast out together with the blood.

A very remarkable instance of this mode of cure is related in Tyerman and Bennett’s “Voyage round the World.” A man had dreamed that he had been speared in the side, and had died in consequence of the wound. Although, when he woke, he knew it was but a dream, he was so frightened that he became very ill, retired to his hut, chose the place of his burial, and lay down to die.

Nearly a week elapsed, during which he could take no food, grew worse and worse, and it was plain that nature would not hold out much longer. The priests—or rather sorcerers, for it cannot be ascertained that the New Hollanders have any other kind of priests, having, in fact, no religious worship—came to do what they could for him with their enchantments. By their order he was carried down to the side of a running water, and tumbled into the stream, where it was pretty deep, head foremost. When taken out, he was rolled in the sand till his body was quite encased with it. This again was washed off by pouring water over him.

“Meanwhile a young woman of the company was perceived plaiting a cord of kangaroo’s hair, which, when completed, was bound round his chest, and a knot, very cunningly implicated by one of the operators, was placed over that part of his side into which the spear of his dream had entered. From this knot a line was passed to the young woman who had prepared the bandage. This she drew through her mouth backward and forward (as children sometimes do with a piece of packthread) until she began to spit blood, which was said to be sucked by that process from the wound in the sick man’s side. There it was now perceptible that, from whatever cause, a considerable swelling had arisen under the knot. Toward this one of the sorcerers began to stroke the man’s flesh from all the adjacent regions of the back, belly, and chest, as though to force the blood thither. He then applied his mouth to the swelling, and, with hideous noises, sometimes sucked it with his lips, sometimes pressed it violently with his hands, till forth came the point of a spear, four inches in length, which he presented to the astonished spectators and the expecting sufferer, as verily extracted from the man’s side.

“Then he applied his mouth again to the swollen part, from which, although there was no visible wound, he appeared to draw blood and corrupt matter, stains of both being soon seen on the swarthy skin. At length, with distended cheeks, as though he had filled his mouth with the abominable matter, he ran about, anxiously looking for a fit place to discharge it upon; but, affecting to find none, he crossed the water, and deposited the nauseous extract behind a bush. The poor man’s hopes revived, and he now believed that he should get well again. Mr. Dunlop thereupon sent him some tea, which, however, he would not drink, but requested that it might be given to the sorcerer, and, if he drank it, then it would do himself (the patient) good. He was deceived, disappointed, and died.”

The Australians are tolerably good surgeons in a rough-and-ready sort of way, and are clever at setting broken limbs. After bringing the broken ends of the bone together, they support the limb by several pieces of wood which act as splints, and then make the whole secure by bandages, which they often strengthen with gum, exactly as is done in modern surgery.

One of the most powerful remedies employed by the native practitioners is the “doctor-stone.” This is nothing but a common quartz crystal; but the doctors aver that they manufacture it themselves, and that the ingredients are kept secret. Like the witarna, mentioned on page 747, women are never allowed even to look upon the doctor-stone, and are impressed with the belief that, if they dared to set their eyes upon the forbidden object, they would be immediately killed by its radiant powers. The larger the crystal, the more valuable is it; and a tolerably large one can scarcely be procured from the natives at any price.

The doctors say that this stone is not only fatal to women, but also destroys men if flung at them with certain incantations. An European settler once challenged a native doctor to say as many charms as he liked, and throw the magic stone as much as he pleased. This offer, however, he declined, giving the usual excuse of savages, that the white man belonged to a totally different order of beings, and, although the poor black fellow would die from the effects of the doctor-stone, the white man was much too powerful to be hurt by it.

The mode in which the crystal is used is very curious, and has been described by an eye-witness.

A native of the Tumat country, named Golong, was suffering from a spear wound[771] received in a skirmish with a hostile tribe, and was brought to a bilbo, named Baramumbup, to be healed. The patient being laid on the ground outside the encampment so that women could not run the risk of death through the accidental sight of the crystal, the doctor began a close examination of the wound, and sucked it. He then retired to a distance from the patient, muttered some magic words for a minute or so, and placed the crystal in his mouth. Having retained it there for a short time, he removed it, spat on the ground, and with his feet trampled on the saliva, pressing it deeply into the ground. This was repeated several times, and the doctor took his leave.

For several successive evenings the whole of the process was gone through, and the recovery of the patient, which was really rapid, was attributed by all parties to the wonderful efficacy of the doctor-stone. “On making inquiry,” writes Dr. Bennett, “why the physician is so careful in trampling the saliva discharged from his mouth into the ground, no satisfactory reason could be obtained, a vague answer only being returned to the query. But it is not improbable that they consider, by this practice, that they finally destroy the power of the evil spirit, extracted by the operation through the virtues of the stone. Some such reason for this proceeding may be inferred from an observation made to any European who may be present at this part of the ceremony, ‘that he (i. e. the disease) may not come up again.’”

It is remarkable that a ceremony almost exactly identical in principle is employed by the Guaycura tribe of Brazil. Among them the doctors, or payés, cure local ailments, whether wounds or otherwise, by sucking the part affected, spitting into a hole dug in the ground, and then filling in the earth, as if to bury the complaint.

The Australian doctors make great use of the principle of suction, and employ it in all kinds of cases. If, for example, a patient has a bad pain in his stomach from overeating, or suffers more than he thinks right from the blow of a waddy, the doctor sucks at the afflicted part vigorously, and at last produces from his mouth a piece of bone, or some other hard substance, which he asserts to be the concentrated essence of the pain, or other ailment. The reader may remark that the bones with which the gums of youths are lanced in the ceremonies of initiation are supposed to be produced from the bodies of the operators by means of suction.

A very remarkable curative agent is shown in the illustration No. 3, page 765, which is taken from a sketch by Mr. Baines. It consists of a stone building, which at first sight looks so like an ordinary Druidical remain that it might be taken for one, except for its dimensions. Instead, however, of being composed of huge stones, each weighing several tons, it is quite a tiny edifice, scarcely larger than the grotto which children erect with oyster-shells. The patient lies in, or rather under it, the aperture being just wide enough to admit his body, and the small roof only covering a very small portion of the inmate. Sundry superstitious rites are employed at the same time, and the remedy is efficacious, like the crystal already mentioned, in consequence of enlisting the imagination of the sufferer.

These little buildings are found along the Victoria River, and for a considerable time the object for which they were built greatly puzzled the discoverers.

A medicine scarcely less efficacious than the doctor’s stone is human fat, which is carefully preserved, and administered by being rubbed in and around the affected part. As, however, it is highly valued by the warriors it is not easily procured, and, had it to be taken solely from the bodies of slain enemies, would in all probability never be used at all. The efficacy of this repulsive remedy does not depend on the individual from whom it is taken, that of a child or woman being quite as useful as that of a warrior.

According to Mr. G. T. Lloyd, the practice of deserting the helpless is found in Australia as well as in other countries, and is practised exactly as is the case in Africa. When a person is ill the relations, as a rule, do not trouble themselves to visit the sick person, and, when there is no apparent hope of recovery, a supply of food and firing enough to last them for several days is left near them, and they are then abandoned to their fate. Even in the case of poor old Tarmeenia, mentioned on page 747, the son, although he carried his wounded father more than four miles in order to place him in safety, never once came to see him.

Seeing that the natives place such implicit faith in the healing power of the doctor’s stone, it is natural that they should also believe in sundry charms as preservatives against disease and misfortune. One of these charms is a sort of girdle, several inches wide in the middle, and tapering to a mere thong at each end. If it be made of string prepared from the bulrush root, it is called Taara or Kuretti; and if made of human hair, it goes by the name Godlotti. It is used more as a curative than a preventive, and is mostly found among the tribes of the lower Murray River. The hair, when twisted into thread, is wound upon a curious spindle, consisting of two slender pieces of wood placed across each other at right angles.

Another charm is shown in the illustration No. 2, on the 765th page, slung round the neck of the boy. It is the beak of the black swan, which, from its scarlet color, contrasts well with the black skin of the[772] wearer. The little boy’s name is Rimmilliperingery, and Mr. G. F. Angas remarks that he was an engaging little fellow, and had the largest and softest pair of dark eyes that could be imagined. The elder figure is that of a young man named Tyilkilli, belonging to the Parnkalla tribe of Port Lincoln. He has been selected as a favorable example of the Australian young man in good circumstances, well-fed, careless, and gay with the unthinking happiness of mere animal life, which finds a joy in the very fact of existence.

Among many of the tribes may be seen a strange sort of ornament, or rather utensil; namely, a drinking-cup made of a human skull. It is slung on cords and carried by them, and the owner takes it wherever he or she goes. These ghastly utensils are made from the skulls of the nearest and dearest relatives; and when an Australian mother dies, it is thought right that her daughter should form the skull of her mother into a drinking-vessel. The preparation is simple enough. The lower jaw is removed, the brains are extracted, and the whole of the skull thoroughly cleaned. A rope handle made of bulrush fibre is then attached to it, and it is considered fit for use. It is filled with water through the vertebral aperture, into which a wisp of grass is always stuffed, so as to prevent the water from being spilled.

Inconsistency is ever the attribute of savage minds. Although they consider that to convert the skull of a parent into a drinking vessel, and to carry it about with them, is an important branch of filial duty, they seem to have no very deep feelings on the subject. In fact, a native named Wooloo sold his mother’s skull for a small piece of tobacco. His mind was evidently not comprehensive enough to admit two ideas together, and the objective idea of present tobacco was evidently more powerful than the comparative abstraction of filial reverence.

Mr. Angas saw one which was carried by a little girl ten years of age. Like “Little Nell,” she was in attendance upon an old and infirm grandfather, and devoted her little life to him. In nothing was the difference of human customs shown more plainly than in the use of the mother’s skull as a drinking vessel—an act which we should consider as the acme of heathen brutality, but with these aborigines is held to be a duty owed by the child to the parent.

Perhaps my classical readers will remember a chapter in Herodotus which bears on this very subject. He finds fault with Cambyses for breaking into the temples of the Cabeiri, burning their idols, and so hurting the religious feelings of the people; and remarks that he was wary in offending against any religious sentiment, however absurd it might appear to himself. He then proceeds to tell an anecdote of Darius, who had at his court some “Indians called Callatians,” and some Greeks. He asked the Greeks (who always burned their dead, as the Hindoos do now), what bribe would induce them to eat the bodies of their dead parents, and they naturally replied that for no bribe could they perform so horrible a deed. Then, in the presence of the Greeks, he asked the Callatians, who ate their dead (as several savage nations do now), for what sum they would consent to burn the bodies of their dead. They, as it appears from the style of their answer, were even more shocked than the Greeks at the idea of such horrible sacrilege, and would not deign to give a direct answer, but begged Darius to “speak words of good omen.” (See Thalia, xxxvii. 8.)

A somewhat similar proceeding is narrated in the life of Nussir-er-deen, the late king of Oude. His native ministers, jealous of the influence exercised over him by some of his European friends, complained that the English guests treated the monarch with disrespect, by retaining their shoes in his royal presence. The king, who, enervated as he was by vanity, dissipation, self-indulgence, and flattery, was no fool, immediately proposed a compromise. “Listen to me, nawab; and you, general, listen to me. The King of England is my master, and these gentlemen would go into his presence with their shoes on. Shall they not come into mine, then? Do they come before me with their hats on? Answer me, your excellency.”

“They do not, your majesty.”

“No, that is their way of showing respect. They take off their hats, and you take off your shoes. But come now, let us have a bargain. Wallah! but I will get them to take off their shoes and leave them without, as you do, if you will take off your turban and leave it without, as they do.” (See Knighton’s “Private Life of an Eastern King.”)

We now come naturally to the burial of the dead, and the various ceremonies which accompany the time of mourning. Although the relatives seem so careless about the sick person, they really keep a watch, and, as soon as death actually takes place, they announce the fact by loud cries. The women are the principal mourners, and they continue to sob and shriek and moan until they are forced to cease from absolute exhaustion. They cut their bodies until the blood streams freely from their wounds, and some of them chop their own heads with their tomahawks until their shoulders and bodies are covered with blood.

The reader will probably have noticed how widely spread is this custom of wounding the body as a sign of mourning, and especially as a lamentation for the dead. We have seen that it exists in Africa, and we shall see that it is practised in many other countries. That[773] it was practised in ancient days by the people among whom the Jews lived, we see from several passages of Scripture. See for example Deut. xiv. 1: “Ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.” Also Jer. xvi. 6: “They shall not be buried, neither shall men lament for them, nor cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them.” There is also the well-known passage concerning the sacrifice that the priests of Baal offered, in the course of which they “cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.”

The body is not disposed of at once, but is suffered to remain for a considerable time, during which decomposition takes place, and is allowed to work its course until the flesh is separated from the bones. The body is watched carefully during the night; and if a passing meteor should appear in the sky, the people shout and wave firebrands in order to drive away a certain evil spirit named Yúmburbar, which is thought to be the real though invisible cause of death and all calamities, and to haunt the spot where a dead body lies for the purpose of feeding upon it.

When decomposition has done its work, the bones are carefully collected, cleaned, and painted red, after which they are wrapped up in bark, and carried about with the tribe for a time. This term being fulfilled, they are finally disposed of in various ways, according to the customs of the tribe to which they belonged. Some tribes scoop holes in soft rocks, and place the remains therein, while others prefer hollow trees for that purpose. Sometimes the body is placed in the cave without being reduced to a skeleton, and in some places the soil is of such a nature that the body becomes dried before decomposition can proceed very far. During the Exhibition of 1862 one of these desiccated bodies was exhibited in England, and called the “petrified” man. It was, however, nothing but a shrivelled and dried-up body, such as is often found in very dry soils.

Near the Murrumbidgee River, in the Wellington Valley, there is a remarkable stalactitic cavern, divided into several “halls.” This cavern is, or has been, a favorite burying-place of the aborigines, who seem to have employed it for the same purpose that Abraham purchased the cave of Machpelah. In consequence of the use of the cavern as a burial place, the natives are rather nervous about entering it, and they flatly refuse to venture into the darker recesses, for fear of the “dibbil-dibbil.” When Dr. Bennett visited it in 1832, he found in a small side cave the skeleton of a woman. The bones had been placed there nearly twenty years before.

The Parnkalla and Nauo tribes have another mode of burial, which somewhat resembles that which is employed by the Bechuanas. The body is placed in a crouching or squatting position, such as is employed by the natives when sitting, the knees being drawn up to the chin, the legs close to the body, and the hands clasped over the legs. Examples of this attitude may be seen in many of the illustrations. A circular pit or grave, about five feet in depth, is then dug, and after the body is lowered into the pit a number of sticks are laid over the grave, nearly touching one another. A thick layer of leaves and another of grass are then placed on the sticks, and over all is heaped the earth which has been dug out of the pit, so that the grave looks something like a huge anthill.

In Northern Australia the natives have a curious method of disposing of the dead. They gather the skulls together, and heap them into a circular mound, placing stones round them to keep them in their places. They do not cover the skulls, but make the tomb in an open and conspicuous place. Such a tomb is illustrated on page 765.

The blacks of the Clarence River build monuments which are somewhat similar in appearance, but are made of different materials. They place a number of stones in a circle, and in the centre they erect an upright slab of stone. They can give no reason for this custom, but only say that “black-fella make it so,” or “it belong to black-fella.” The former reply signifies that the custom has always prevailed among the natives; and the second, that the tomb shows that a native lies buried beneath the upright stone.

Some of the tribes along the Clarence River have a curious mode of disposing of the dead—a mode which certainly has its advantages in its great economy of trouble. When an old man feels that the hand of death is on him, he looks out for a hollow tree, climbs it, lets himself down to the bottom of the hollow, and so dies in his tomb.

In New South Wales the young people are buried beneath small tumuli, but the adults are buried in a rather curious fashion. A pile of dry wood, leaves, &c. is built, about three feet in height and six or seven in length. On the pile the body is laid on its back, having the face directed toward the rising sun. The fishing apparatus, spears, and other weapons and implements of the dead man are next laid on the pile, and the body is then covered over with large logs of wood. The pile is fired by the nearest relative, and on the following day, when the place is cool, the ashes of the dead are collected, and carefully buried.

Should a woman die, leaving an unweaned child, the poor little creature is buried together with the ashes of its mother. The natives defend this practice as a humane one, saying, with savage justice, that it is better to kill the child speedily than to allow it to pine to death from starvation.

As is the case with many tribes in different parts of the world, as soon as any one[774] dies the name borne by the deceased is no more mentioned. So strictly is this rule observed, that if another member of the tribe should happen to bear the same name, it must be abandoned, and a new name taken, by which the bearer will ever afterward be known.

Mr. Angas, to whom we are indebted for so much of our knowledge of the Australians, gives an interesting account of the burial of a boy, as described to him by an eye-witness:

“Previously to burying the corpse of the boy, a contest with clubs and spears took place, but no injury was done to the parties engaged. The body was placed in a bark canoe, cut to the proper length, a spear, a fishing-spear, and a throwing-stick, with several other articles, being placed besides the corpse. The women and children made great lamentations during the ceremony, and the father stood apart, a picture of silent grief.

“The canoe was placed on the heads of two natives, who proceeded with it slowly toward the grave; some of the attendants waving tufts of dried grass backward and forward under the canoe and amongst the bushes as they passed along. The grave being dug, a native strewed it with grass, and stretched himself at full length in the grave, first on his back and then on his side. As they were about to let down the child into the grave, they first pointed to the deceased and then to the skies, as though they had a vague idea that the spirit had ascended to another world.

“The body was then laid in the grave, with the face looking toward the rising sun, and, in order that the sunshine might fall upon the spot, care was taken to cut down all shrubs around that could in any way obstruct its beams. Branches were placed over the grave, grass and boughs on them, and the whole was crowned with a log of wood, on which a native extended himself for some minutes, with his face to the sky.”

At the beginning of this description is mentioned a sham fight. This is held in consequence of a curious notion prevalent among the aborigines, that death from natural causes must be ransomed with blood. It suffices if blood be drawn even from a friend, and the mode by which they make the required offering, and at the same time gratify their combative nature, is by getting up a sham fight, in which some one is nearly sure to be wounded more or less severely.

Sometimes the body of the dead man is disposed of rather oddly. In some parts of Australia the natives, instead of consuming the body by fire, or hiding it in caves or in graves, make it a peculiarly conspicuous object. Should a tree grow favorably for their purpose, they will employ it as the final resting-place of the dead body. Lying in its canoe coffin, and so covered over with leaves and grass that its shape is quite disguised, the body is lifted into a convenient fork of the tree, and lashed to the boughs by native ropes. No further care is taken of it, and if, in process of time, it should be blown out of the tree, no one will take the trouble of replacing it.

Should no tree be growing in the selected spot, an artificial platform is made for the body, by fixing the ends of stout branches in the ground, and connecting them at their tops by smaller horizontal branches. Such are the curious tombs which are represented in the illustration No. 3, on page 775. These strange tombs are mostly placed among the reeds, so that nothing can be more mournful than the sound of the wind as it shakes the reeds below the branch in which the corpse is lying. The object of this aerial tomb is evident enough, namely, to protect the corpse from the dingo, or native dog. That the ravens and other carrion-eating birds should make a banquet upon the body of the dead man does not seem to trouble the survivors in the least, and it often happens that the traveller is told by the croak of the disturbed ravens that the body of a dead Australian is lying in the branches over his head.

The aerial tombs are mostly erected for the bodies of old men who have died a natural death; but when a young warrior has fallen in battle the body is treated in a very different manner. A moderately high platform is erected, and upon this is seated the body of the dead warrior, with the face toward the rising sun. The legs are crossed, and the arms kept extended by means of sticks. The fat is then removed, and, after being mixed with red ochre, is rubbed over the body, which has previously been carefully denuded of hair, as is done in the ceremony of initiation. The legs and arms are covered with zebra-like stripes of red, white, and yellow, and the weapons of the dead man are laid across his lap.

The body being thus arranged, fires are lighted under the platform, and kept up for ten days or more, during the whole of which time the friends and mourners remain by the body, and are not permitted to speak. Sentinels relieve each other at appointed intervals, their duty being to see that the fires are not suffered to go out, and to keep the flies away by waving leafy boughs or bunches of emu feathers. When a body has been treated in this manner, it becomes hard and mummy-like, and the strangest point is, that the wild dogs will not touch it after it has been so long smoked. It remains sitting on the platform for two months or so, and is then taken down and buried, with the exception of the skull, which is made into a drinking-cup for the nearest relative, as has already been mentioned.


(See page 813.)


(3.) TREE TOMBS OF AUSTRALIA. (See page 774.)


Considering the trouble which is taken in the preparation of these bodies, and the evident respect which is felt for a brave warrior in death as well as in life, the after treatment of them is very remarkable. When a friend, or even an individual of the same tribe, sees one of these mummified bodies for the first time, he pays no honor to it, but loads it with reproaches, abusing the dead man for dying when the tribe stood in such need of brave and skilful men, and saying that he ought to have known better than to die when there was plenty of food in the country. Then, after contemplating the body for some time, he hurls his spear and club at it, crying out at the same time, “Why did you die? Take that for dying.”

In the illustration No. 2, on page 775, two of these bodies are seen seated on the platform, supported by being tied to the uprights by their hands and heads, and having their weapons in their laps. On one side is one of the sentinels engaged in driving away the flies with his flapper, and on the other is a second sentinel bringing fuel for the fire. The seated figures belong to the same tribe.

Around Portland Bay, and toward the south-eastern parts of the continent, the natives have a curious combination of entombment and burning. They let the dead body down into one of the hollow trees, where it is supported in an upright position. A quantity of dry leaves and grass is then heaped upon the tree, and the whole consumed by fire, amid the dismal screams and cries of the women.

It is rather curious that funeral ceremonies are only employed in the case of those whose death is supposed to be a loss to the tribe. Men, and even boys, are therefore honored with funeral rites, because the younger men are warriors, the boys would have been warriors, and the old men have done service by arms, and are still useful for their wisdom. Even young women are buried with some amount of show, because they produce children for the tribe.

But of all beings an old woman is most utterly despised. She can render no service; she has never been considered as anything but a mere domesticated animal, and even for domestic purposes she has ceased to be useful. When she dies, therefore, no one regrets her. She is nothing but a useless burden on her people, consuming food which she does not earn, and sitting by the fire when the younger women are engaged in work. It is nothing to them that she has worn herself out in the hard, thankless, and never ceasing labor which constitutes the life of an Australian woman, and so when she dies her body is drawn away out of the camp by the heels, and stuffed away hastily in some hollow tree or cave that may be most convenient. Sometimes the body is laid on a bough, as has already been described; but even in such a case it is merely laid on the branch, without being placed in a canoe, or covered with matting, boughs, and leaves, as is the case with the bodies of men. The corpse is allowed to remain on the branch until it falls to pieces; and when any of her relatives choose to take the trouble, they will scrape a hole in the sand and bury the scattered bones.

The shee-oak, or casuarina, is the tree which is generally selected for this purpose, partly because it is one of the commonest trees of Australia, and partly because the peculiar growth of its boughs affords a firm platform for the corpse.

The time of mourning does not cease with the funeral, nor, in case of a tree-tomb, with the subsequent interment of the bones. At stated times the women, by whom the mourning is chiefly performed, visit the tomb, and with their kattas, or digging-sticks, peck up the earth around them, and make the place look neat. This done they sit down and utter their most doleful cries and lamentations. In some places they content themselves with vocal lamentations, but in others the women think it necessary to show their grief by repeating the head chopping, limb scarring, and other marks of blood-letting which accompany that portion of the funeral ceremonies.

In one part of Australia, near the north-west bend of the Murray, a most remarkable custom prevails. Widows attend upon the tombs of their dead husbands, and, after shaving their heads, cover them with pipe-clay kneaded into a paste. The head is first covered with a net, to prevent the pipe-clay from sticking too tightly to the skin, a misfortune which is partly averted by the amount of grease with which every Australian is anointed.

A layer of this clay more than an inch in thickness is plastered over the head, and when dry it forms a skull-cap exactly fitting the head on which it was moulded, and on account of its weight, which is several pounds, must be very uncomfortable to the wearer. These badges of mourning may be found lying about near the tumuli, and, until their real use was discovered, they were very mysterious objects to travellers. In the illustration No. 1, on the 781st page, is seen a burying place near the river. Several of the mound tombs of the natives are shown, and in the foreground are two widows, seated in the peculiar attitude of Australian women, and wearing the widow’s cap of pipe-clay. Several other caps are lying near the tombs, having been already employed in the ceremonies of mourning.

So careful are the natives of the marks of respect due from the survivors to the dead, that a widow belonging to one of the tribes on the Clarence River was put to death because she neglected to keep in order the tomb of her late husband, and to dig up periodically the earth around it.


From the disposal of the dead, we are naturally led to the religious belief of the Australians. Like all savages, they are very reticent about their religious feelings, concealing as far as possible their outward observances from the white people, and avowing ignorance, if questioned respecting the meaning of those which have become known to the strangers. Some observances, however, have been explained by Gi’ôm, the unfortunate Scotch woman who had to reside so long among the Kowráregas, and others by native converts to Christianity. Even these latter have not been able to shake off the superstitious ideas which they had contracted through the whole of their previous lives, and there is no doubt that they concealed much from their interrogators, and, if pressed too closely, wilfully misled them.

The following short account will, however, give an idea of the state of religious feeling among the aborigines, as far as can be ascertained. And, in consequence of the rapid and steady decrease of the native tribes, it is possible that our knowledge of this subject will never be greater than it is at present.

In the first place, there are no grounds for thinking that the aborigines believe in any one Supreme Deity, nor, in fact, in a deity of any kind whatever. As is usual with most savage nations, their belief in supernatural beings is limited to those who are capable of doing mischief, and, although the conception of a beneficent spirit which will do good never seems to enter an Australian’s mind, he believes fully, in his misty fashion, in the existence of many evil spirits which will do harm.

Of these there are many. One of them is the Arlak, a being which takes the shape of a man. It is only seen at night, and is in the habit of watching for stragglers in the dark, seizing them and carrying them off. Several natives told Mr. M’Gillivray that they had seen the arlak; and one man, who had summoned enough courage to fight it when it attacked him, showed the marks of the demon’s teeth upon his body. Fortunately, the arlak cannot endure light, and therefore the natives, if they have to go the smallest distance in the dark, take a fire-stick in one hand and a weapon of some sort in the other.

One kind of evil spirit, which is very much dreaded by the aborigines, is the one in whom death is personified. He is short, thick, very ugly, and has a disagreeable smell. The natives of the Moorundi district believe in a native spirit, wonderfully similar in attributes to the Necker of German mythology. Although, according to their accounts, it is very common, they have great difficulty in describing it, and, as far as can be ascertained from their statements, it is like a huge star-fish. This demon inhabits the fresh water, or there might have been grounds for believing it to be merely an exaggeration of the cuttle-fish.

Throughout the greater part of Australia is found the belief in the Bunyip, a demon which infests woods, and which has been seen, as is said, not only by natives but by white men. The different accounts of the animal vary extremely. Some who have seen it aver it to be as large as a horse, to have a pair of eyes as big as saucers, and a pair of enormous horns.

Others give a very different account of it, and one of the Barrabool Hill natives gave a very animated description of the dreaded bunyip. He illustrated his lecture by a spirited drawing, in which the bunyip was represented as having a long neck and head, something like that of the giraffe, a thick flowing mane, and two short and massive fore-legs, each of which was armed with four powerful talons. The entire body was covered with strong scales, overlapping each other like those of the hawksbill turtle. This creature he represented as half beast, half demon, and vaunted the superior courage of his ancestors, who ventured to oppose this terrible creature as it lay in wait for their wives and children, and drove it out of the reeds and bush into the water whence it came.

Thinking that some large and now extinct beast might have lived in Australia, which might have been traditionally known to the aborigines, scientific men have taken particular pains to ransack those portions of the country which they could reach, in hopes of finding remains which might be to Australia what those of the megatherium and other huge monsters are to the Old World. Nothing of the kind has, however, been found. Some very large bones were once discovered on the banks of a shallow salt lagoon (just the place for the bunyip), but when sent to the British Museum they were at once found to be the remains of a gigantic kangaroo. At present, the legend of the bunyip stands on a level with that of the kraken—every native believes it, some aver that they have seen it, but no one has ever discovered the least tangible proof of its existence.

To these evil spirits the natives attribute every illness or misfortune, and in consequence are anxious to avoid or drive them away. All meteors are reckoned by them among the evil spirits, and are fancifully thought to be ghosts which multiply by self-division. The aborigines think, however, that by breathing as loudly as they can, and repeating some cabalistic words, they disarm the demons of their power.

They have one very curious belief,—namely, that any one who ventured to sleep on the grave of a deceased person, he would ever afterward be freed from the power of evil spirits. The ordeal is, however, so terrible that very few summon up sufficient courage to face it. “During that awful[779] sleep the spirit of the deceased would visit him, seize him by the throat, and, opening him, take out his bowels, which it would afterward replace, and close up the wound! Such as are hardy enough to go through this terrible ordeal—encounter the darkness of the night and the solemnity of the grave—are thenceforth ‘koradjee’ men, or priests, and practise sorcery and incantations upon the others of their tribe.”

In Southern Australia, the natives believe that the sun and moon are human beings, who once inhabited the earth. The planets are dogs belonging to the moon, who run about her; and the various constellations are groups of children. An eclipse of either the sun or moon is looked upon as a terrible calamity, being sure to be the forerunner of disease and death.

All burial-places of the dead are held as liable to be haunted by evil spirits, and are therefore avoided. Promontories, especially those which have rocky headlands, are also considered as sacred; and it is probably on account of that idea that the skull monuments, mentioned on page 773, are raised.

Some of these places are rendered interesting by specimens of native drawings, showing that the aborigines of Australia really possess the undeveloped elements of artistic power. Owing to the superstition which prevails, the natives can scarcely be induced to visit such spots, giving as their reason for refusing that “too much dibbil-dibbil walk there.” Mr. Angas was fortunate enough, however, to discover a considerable number of these drawings and carvings, and succeeded in impressing into his service an old native woman. His description is so vivid, that it must be given in his own words:—

“The most important result of our rambles around the bays and rocky promontories of Port Jackson was the discovery of a new and remarkable feature connected with the history of the natives formerly inhabiting this portion of New South Wales.

“I refer to their carvings in outline, cut into the surface of flat rocks in the neighborhood, and especially on the summits of the various promontories about the harbors of the coast. Although these carvings exist in considerable numbers, covering all the flat rocks upon many of the headlands overlooking the water, it is a singular fact that up to the present time they appear to have remained unobserved; and it was not until my friend Mr. Miles first noticed the rude figure of a kangaroo cut upon the surface of a flat rock near Camp Cove, that we were led to make a careful search for these singular and interesting remains of a people who are now nearly extinct.

“About a dozen natives of the Sydney and Broken Bay tribes were encamped amongst the bushes on the margin of a small fresh-water lake, close to Camp Cove; and from amongst them we selected ‘Old Queen Gooseberry’ (as she is generally styled by the colonists) to be our guide, promising her a reward of flour and tobacco if she would tell us what she knew about these carvings, and conduct us to all the rocks and headlands in the neighborhood where like figures existed. At first the old woman objected, saying that such places were all koradjee ground, or ‘priest’s ground,’ and that she must not visit them; but at length, becoming more communicative, she told us all she knew, and all that she had heard her father say, respecting them. She likewise consented at last to guide us to several spots near the North Land, where she said the carvings existed in greater numbers; as also the impressions of hands upon the sides of high rocks.

“With some difficulty we prevailed upon the haggard old creature to venture with us into a whale-boat; so, with Queen Gooseberry for our guide, we crossed to the North Land. After examining the flat rocks in every direction, we found sufficient examples of these singular outlines to confirm at once the opinion that they were executed by the aboriginal inhabitants; but at what period is quite uncertain. From the half-obliterated state of many of them (although the lines are cut nearly an inch deep into the hard rock), and from the fact that from several of them we were compelled to clear away soil and shrubs of long-continued growth, it is evident that they have been executed a very long time.

“At first we could not bring ourselves to believe that these carvings were the work of savages, and we conjectured that the figure of the kangaroo might have been the work of some European; but when, pursuing our researches further, we found all the most out-of-the-way and least accessible headlands adorned with similar carvings, and also that the whole of the subjects represented indigenous objects—such as kangaroos, opossums, sharks, the heileman or shield, the boomerang, and, above all, the human figure in the attitudes of the corrobboree dances—we could come to no other conclusion than that they were of native origin. Europeans would have drawn ships, and horses, and men with hats upon their heads, had they attempted such a laborious and tedious occupation.

“An old writer on New South Wales, about the year 1803, remarks, when referring to the natives, ‘They have some taste for sculpture, most of their instruments being carved with rude work, effected with pieces of broken shell; and on the rocks are frequently to be seen various figures of fish, clubs, swords, animals, &c., not contemptibly represented.’

“Some of the figures of fish measured twenty-five feet in length; and it is curious that the representations of the shield exactly[780] corresponded with that used by the natives of Port Stephens at the present day. These sculptured forms prove that the New Hollanders exercised the art of design, which has been questioned, and they also serve to corroborate Captain Grey’s discoveries of native delineations in caves upon the north-west coast of Australia, during his expedition of discovery. At Lane Cove, at Port Aiken, and at Point Piper, we also met with similar carvings. Whilst on a visit at the latter place, it occurred to me that on the flat rocks at the extremity of the grounds belonging to the estate where I was staying, there might be carvings similar to those at the Heads; and on searching carefully I found considerable numbers of them in a tolerably perfect state of preservation. Of all these I took measurements, and made careful fac-simile drawings on the spot.”

In the appendix to his work, Mr. Angas gives reduced copies of these figures, some of which are executed with wonderful spirit and fidelity. Even the human figures, which are shown with extended arms and spread legs, as in the dance, are far better than those usually drawn by savages, infinitely superior to those produced by the artists of Western Africa, while some of the animals are marvellously accurate, reminding the observer of the outline drawings upon Egyptian monuments. The best are, perhaps, a shark and a kangaroo. The latter is represented in the attitude of feeding.

In some parts of Australia, the carvings and paintings are usually in caves by the water’s edge, and of such a character is the cave which is shown in the illustration No. 2, on the following page. These caves are in sandstone rock, and the figures upon them are mostly those of men and kangaroos, and it is a remarkable fact that in the human figures, although their eyes, noses, and even the joints of the knees, are boldly marked, the mouth is invariably absent.

Human hands and arms are often carved on rocks. One very remarkable example was discovered by Captain Grey in North-West Australia. When penetrating into a large cave, out of which ran a number of smaller caves, the explorers were struck by a really astonishing trick of native art. The sculptor had selected a rock at the side of the cavity, and had drawn upon it the figure of a hand and arm. This had then been painted black, and the rock around it colored white with pipe-clay, so that on entering the cave it appeared exactly as if the hand and arm of a black man were projecting through some crevice which admitted light.

Their belief in ghosts implies a knowledge that the spirit of man is immortal. Yet their ideas on this subject are singularly misty, not to say inconsistent, one part of their belief entirely contradicting the other. They believe, for example, that when the spirit leaves the body, it wanders about for some time in darkness, until at last it finds a cord, by means of which a “big black-fella spirit” named Oomudoo pulls it up from the earth. Yet they appropriate certain parts of the earth as the future residence of the different tribes, the spirits of the departed Nauos being thought to dwell in the islands of Spencer’s Gulf, while those of the Parnkallas go to other islands toward the west. As if to contradict both ideas, we have already seen that throughout the whole of Australia the spirits of the dead are supposed to haunt the spots where their bodies lie buried.

And, to make confusion worse confounded, the aborigines believe very firmly in transmigration, some fancying that the spirits of the departed take up their abode in animals, but by far the greater number believing that they are transformed into white men. This latter belief was put very succinctly by a native, who stated in the odd jargon employed by them, that “when black-fella tumble down, he jump up all same white-fella.”

This idea of transmigration into the forms of white men is very remarkable, as it is shared by the negro of Africa, who could not have had any communication with the black native of Australia. And, still more strangely, like the Africans, they have the same word for a white man and for a spirit. The reader may remember that when Mrs. Thompson was captured by the natives, one of them declared that she was his daughter Gi’ôm, who had become a white woman, and the rest of the tribe coincided in the belief. Yet, though she became for the second time a member of the tribe, they always seemed to feel a sort of mistrust, and often, when the children were jeering at her on account of her light complexion and ignorance of Australian accomplishments, some elderly person would check them, and tell them to leave her in peace, as, poor thing, she was nothing but a ghost.

It has been found, also, that numbers of white persons have been recognized by the blacks as being the spirits of their lost relatives, and have in consequence been dignified with the names of those whom they represented. Mr. M’Gillivray mentions that the natives of Port Essington have a slight modification of this theory, believing that after death they become Malays.

Of their belief in the metempsychosis, or transmigration into animal forms, there are but few examples. Dr. Bennett mentions that on one occasion, at Bérana Plains, when an European was chasing one of the native animals, a native who was with him begged him not to kill it, but to take it alive, as it was “him brother.” When it was killed, he was very angry, and, as a proof his sincerity, refused to eat any of it, continually grumbling and complaining of the “tumbling down him brother.”


(See page 777.)

(See page 780.)


The Nauo tribe preserve a tradition which involves this metempsychosis. Once upon a time, a certain great warrior, named Willoo, fought their tribe, and carried off all the women, and killed all the men except two. The survivors climbed up a great tree, followed by Willoo. They, however, broke off the branch on which he was climbing, so that he fell to the ground, and was seized by a dingo below, when he immediately died, and was changed into an eagle hawk, which has ever afterward been called by the name of Willoo.

The same tribe think that a small lizard was the originator of the sexes, and in consequence call it by different names; the men using the term ibirri, and the women waka. Following up the idea, the men kill every male lizard that they can find, while the women do the same by the females.

Connected with this subject is their idea of creation. Of a single Creator of all things they have not the least notion, but they possess some traditions as to the origin of men or natural objects. The Kowrárega tribe say that the first created man was a huge giant named Adi. One day, while he was fishing off Hammond Island, he was caught by the tide and drowned, a great rock starting up to mark the spot. This is now called Hammond’s Rock. His wives saw his fate, committed suicide by flinging themselves into the sea, and were immediately changed into a series of dry rocks on a neighboring reef. These rocks are still called by the natives Ipīle, i. e. the Wives.

The natives of the Lower Murray have a curious tradition respecting the origin of the river, and the Alexandrina and Albert Lakes. The river was made by Oomudoo, the “big black-fella spirit,” already mentioned. He came down from the sky in his canoe, and ordered the water to rise and form the river, which he then clothed with bulrushes and populated with fish. He brought two wives with him, but they unfortunately proved intractable, and ran away from him, whereupon Oomudoo made the two lakes in question, one of which drowned each wife.




In many points the Australian savage bears a curious resemblance to the Bosjesman of Southern Africa, of whom a full account has already been given at 242-268 page.

So similar, indeed, are they, that the colonists use the word Bushman to designate the native savage, just as they call the spotted dasyure by the name of cat, and the wombat by that of badger. Much confusion has consequently arisen; and there is now before me a book descriptive of savage life, in which the author has mixed up the Bosjesman of Africa and the Bushman of Australia in the most amusing manner, actually transplanting a quotation from a book of African travels into the account of Australia.

Like the Bosjesman, the Australian depends upon his weapons for the greater part of his food, living almost entirely upon the game which he kills, and being skilled in the art of destroying the wariest and most active of animals with the simplest of weapons. He lives in a state of perpetual feud, his quarrels not being worthy of the name of warfare; and his beau idéal of a warrior is a man who steals upon his enemy by craft, and kills his foe without danger to himself.

He cultivates no land, neither has he the least notion of improving his social condition. He cares nothing for clothes, except, perhaps, as a partial shelter from the elements, and utterly ridicules the notion that there is any connexion between clothing and modesty.

Indeed, on one occasion, when a girl had been presented with a petticoat by a white lady, and returned to her people, displaying with pride her newly acquired property, her companions instead of displaying envy at her finery, only jeered at her, inquiring whether she thought herself so much better than her forefathers, that she should want to wear clothes like the white strangers. The consequence was, that in a day or two the solitary garment was thrown aside, and she walked about as before, in the primitive accoutrements of her tribe.

Like the African Bosjesman, the Australian native has no settled home, although he considers himself as having a right to the district in which his tribe have taken up their abode. Contrary to the usage of civilized life, he is sensitive on the general question, and careless in detail. With civilized beings the hearth and home take the first place in the affections, the love of country being merely an extension of the love of home. With the Australian, however, as well as the Bosjesman, the case is just reversed. He has no home, and cares not for any one spot more than another, except that some spots are sheltered and others exposed. He passes a semi-nomad existence, not unlike that of the Arab, save that instead of pitching his tent on a convenient spot, and taking it away when he leaves it, he does not trouble himself even to carry the simple materials of a tent, but builds a rude hut in any spot which he may happen to fancy, and leaves it to decay when he forsakes the spot.

The chief object of the ordinary hut made by an Australian savage is to defend the inmates from the cold south-west breezes. Consequently, the entrances of the huts may be found, as a rule, turned toward the north-east, whence come the warm winds that have passed over the equator.

The summer encampment (see page 787) of an Australian family is very simple. A number of leafy boughs are stuck in the ground in a semicircular form, the size of the enclosed space varying with the number of the family. These boughs are seldom[785] more than four feet in height, and often scarcely exceed a yard, their only object being to keep off the wind from the fire, and from the bodies of the natives as they squat round the flame or lie asleep. That any one should expect a shelter while he is standing never seems to enter the imagination of an Australian savage, who, like other savages, never dreams of standing when he can sit, or, indeed, of taking any trouble that is not absolutely necessary.

All the stories that are told of the industry of savage life are pure inventions, and if labor be, as we are often told, the truest nobility, we ought to hear no more of the “noble savage.” Consistently with this idea, the native Australian’s only idea of the hut is a place where he can sit and gorge himself with food, and lie down to sleep after his enormous meal. A fence a yard in height is therefore quite good enough for him, and, as long as no rain falls, he thinks a roof to be a needless expenditure of labor.

In the illustration referred to we have an example of an encampment on which the natives have bestowed rather more care than usual, and have actually taken the pains to form the branches into rude huts. The spears, shields, and other weapons of the natives are seen scattered about, while round the fire sit or lie the men who have satisfied their hunger. The reader will perceive that from a little distance such an encampment would be almost invisible; and, indeed, except by the thin smoke of the fire, the most practised eye can scarcely detect the spot where natives are encamping. Even the spears which project above the bush huts look at a little distance merely like dried sticks; and, if the inhabitants be very anxious to escape observation, they establish their encampment in a retired spot, where the surrounding objects harmonize as closely as possible with the rude shelter which answers all their needs.

In many places the natives construct a habitation similar in principle, but differing in structure. Should the locality abound in the eucalypytus, or stringy-bark tree, the natives make a hut altogether different in appearance. With wonderful dexterity, they strip off the bark of the tree in large flakes, six or seven feet in length. A few large branches of trees are then laid on the ground, so that they form a rough sort of framework, and upon these branches the flakes of bark are laid. An hour’s labor will make one of these huts, so that the natives have really no inducement to take any care of them. Even the very best hut which a native Australian ever made would be inferior to the handiwork of an English boy of ten years old. For my own part, I remember building far better huts than those of the Australians, though I was at the time much below ten years of age, and had gained all my knowledge of practical architecture from “Sandford and Merton.”

There is, however, one great advantage in these bark huts—namely, the rapidity with which they can be made, and the shelter which they really do give from the traveller’s great enemy, the night wind. Even European travellers have been glad to avail themselves of these simple structures, and have appreciated the invaluable aid of a few sheets of bark propped against a fallen branch. Those who have been forced to travel without tents through a houseless country have learned by experience that the very best shelter from the night winds is not height, but width. A tree, for example, forms but a very poor shelter, while a low wall barely eighteen inches high and six feet in length keeps off the wind, and enables the wearied traveller to rest in comparative comfort. Such a shelter is easily made from the sheets of stringy bark, one or two of which will form a shelter for several sleepers.

Perhaps the simplest huts that human beings ever dignified by the name of habitation are those which are made by the women of a tribe when the men are away. It sometimes happens that the whole of the adult males go off on an expedition which will last for a considerable time—such, for example, as a raid upon a neighboring tribe—leaving the women and children to take care of themselves. These, knowing that they might be pounced upon by enemies who would take advantage of the absence of their defenders, retire into the recesses of the woods, where they build the oddest houses imaginable, half burrows scraped among the roots of trees, and half huts made of bark and decayed wood. These habitations are so inconspicuous that even the practised eye of the native can scarcely discover them.

On the shores of Encounter Bay may be seen some very curious habitations. Every now and then a whale is thrown ashore by a tempest; and in such a case the tribes of the neighborhood flock round it with great rejoicings, seeing in it an unlimited supply of food. Huge as the animal may be, it is ere long consumed, and nothing left but the skeleton. Of the bones the natives make the framework of their huts, the ends of the ribs being fixed in the ground, so that the bones form the supports of the arched roof, which is nothing more than boughs, grass, and matting thrown almost at random upon the bony framework.

During the winter time the native huts are of better construction, although the best hut that an Australian ever made is but a very rude and primitive specimen of architecture. These winter huts are made on the same principle as those employed in summer, but the materials are more closely put together. The framework of these huts[786] is made by sticking a number of saplings in the ground, and tying them together. Smaller branches and twigs are then passed in and out of the uprights, and pressed down to make a tolerably firm wall. Over the wall comes a layer of large leaves, and an outer covering of tea-tree bark is placed over the trees, and held in its place by a lashing of rattan. These houses are about five feet in height, and have an arched opening just large enough for a man to enter on his hands and knees.

Such huts as these, however, are but seldom seen, the ordinary winter dwellings being made of bushes, as seen in an illustration on the next page. Near the entrance, but not within it, the fire is kindled, and at night the natives crowd into the hut, filling it so completely that a view of the interior displays nothing but a confused mass of human limbs. The reader will perceive that the luxury of a door has not been contemplated by the native architects—an omission which is perhaps rather fortunate, considering the crowded state of the interior.

Along the shores of the Coorung a rather peculiar kind of habitation is used. It must first be mentioned that the Coorung is a back-water inlet of the sea, running parallel to it for some ninety miles or so, never more than a mile and a half from the sea, and divided from it only by a range of enormous sandhills. It is a wild and desolate place, but is inhabited by the Milmendura tribe, who made themselves so notorious for the massacre of the passengers and men of the ship Maria. The natives probably like the spot, because in the Coorung, which is protected from the ocean waves by the sandhills, they can take fish without danger, and because the sandhills furnish a fruit called the monterry, or native apple, as, although a berry growing upon a creeping plant, it looks and tastes like a miniature apple.

The situation is much exposed in the winter time to the cold south-west blasts, and the natives accordingly make comparatively strong huts. Their dwellings are formed of a framework of sticks, over which is plastered a thick layer of turf and mud. In addition to this they heap over the hut a great quantity of the sand and shells of which the ground is chiefly composed, so that the houses of the Milmendura look like mere mounds or hillocks rising from the sandy soil.

The fire which is found in every Australian encampment is generally procured by friction from two pieces of wood, one being twirled rapidly between the hands and the other held firmly by the feet. Indeed, the Australian savage produces fire exactly as does the South African (see page 100). This accomplishment, however, is not universal, some tribes being unable to produce fire, and being dependent on the “fire-sticks” which the women carry with them. It has occasionally happened that the women have been careless enough to allow all their fire-sticks to expire, and in such a case they are obliged to go to the nearest friendly tribe, and beg a light from them, in order to procure fire wherewith to cook the game that their husbands have brought home.

Before leaving this part of the subject, it will be as well to mention briefly a few of the devices used by the Australian natives in taking their game.

One of these devices is remarkably ingenious, and is principally employed in duck catching. The natives find out a spot where the ducks resort in order to feed, and arrange their nets so that they may intercept birds that fly down upon them. When the ducks are all busy feeding, the native hunter, who has concealed himself near the place, alarms the birds by suddenly imitating the cry of the fish-hawk, one of their deadliest foes. The terrified ducks rise in a body; but, just as they ascend, the wily native flings into the air a triangular piece of bark, imitating again the cry of the hawk. The birds, fancying that the hawk is sweeping down upon them, try to escape by darting into the reeds, and are caught in the nets.

Another ingenious plan is used for capturing birds singly. The native makes a sort of screen of branches, and conceals himself within it. In his hand he carries a long and slender rod, at the end of which there is a noose, and within the noose a bait. Under cover of the screen he comes close to the bird, and gently places the treacherous noose near it. By degrees the bird comes closer and closer to the bait, and, as soon as its head is fairly within the noose, it is secured by a dexterous twist of the hand. Sometimes the native does not employ a bait. He builds his simple shelter by some spot where birds are accustomed to drink, and calls them by imitating their note. They come to the spot, and, not seeing their companions, perch upon the sticks under which the hunter is concealed, a large bunch of grass being generally used to prevent the birds from seeing him. As soon as the bird perches, he slips the noose over its head, draws it inside the shelter, kills it, and waits for another.

In some parts of the country the natives make a self-acting snare, very much on the principle of the nets used in snaring rabbits. It consists of a sort of bag, and has its opening encircled by a running string, the other end of which is fastened to some fixed object, such as a tree-stump. The bag is made of split rattans, so that it remains open, and, as the meshes are very wide, the bait which is placed within it can easily be seen.


(See page 786.)

(See page 784.)


If a bird or animal should come to the bait, which is fixed at the very extremity of the bag, it naturally forces its way toward the tempting object, and in so doing pulls upon the string and closes the mouth of the bag behind it. The more it struggles, the firmer is it held; and so it remains until it is taken out, and the trap set again. This very ingenious snare is used mostly for bandicoots and similar animals, though birds are sometimes caught in it.

The natives have another self-acting trap, which is identical in principle with the eel baskets and lobster pots of our own country. A number of these traps were found by Mr. Carron in some huts near Princess Charlotte’s Bay. They were made of strips of cane, and were about five feet in length by eight or nine inches in diameter at the mouth. From the opening they gradually tapered for some four feet, and then suddenly enlarged into a large round basket or pocket, the lower ends of the neck projecting into the basket so as to hinder any animal from returning through the passage by which it entered. This trap was used indifferently for catching fish and small animals. For the latter purpose it was laid in their track, and for the former it was placed in a narrow channel, through which the fish were forced to pass by being driven by a party of natives in the water.

The reader will remember that on page 785 there is a reference to the “stringy-bark,” and its use in architecture. The same bark is used for a great number of purposes, among which that of boat-building is perhaps the most conspicuous. Should a native come to the side of a river which he does not wish to swim, he supplies himself with a boat in a very expeditious manner. Going to the nearest stringy-bark trees, and choosing one which has the lines of the bark straight and not gnarled, he chops a circle round the tree so as to sever the bark, and about seven or eight feet higher he chops a second circle. His next proceeding is to make a longitudinal cut down one side of the tree, and a corresponding one on the other side. He then inserts the handle of his tomahawk, his digging-stick, or any such implement, between the bark and the wood, and, by judicious handling, strips off the bark in two semi-cylindrical, trough-like pieces each of which is capable of being made into a boat.

Should he be alone, he seldom troubles himself to do more than tie the bark together at each end of the trough, and in this frail vessel he will commit himself to the river. But if his wife, or any second person, should be with him, he makes the simple boat more trustworthy by digging a quantity of clay out of the river bank, kneading it into each end of the trough, and tying the bark over the clay. As soon as he reaches the opposite shore, he lands, pushes the canoe back into the river and abandons it, knowing that to make a second canoe will not be nearly so troublesome as to take care of the first.

If, however, he wants a canoe in which he goes fishing, and which, in consequence, must be of a stronger make, he still adheres to the stringy bark as his material, though he takes more care in the manufacture. The bark is bent, like the birch bark of the North American Indians, by moisture and heat; and even with this better kind of boat clay is required at each end, and is also used for stopping up any leakage.

He also exhibits a still better use of the stringy-bark. The bark is not only formed into a boat-like shape, but it is kept in its form by cross-pieces of wood. The edges are also strengthened: and altogether this canoe shows a wonderful advance in boat-building. The vessel is propelled with a regular paddle instead of the fish spear: and altogether the boat and the accompanying implements remind the observer of the birch-bark canoes and vessels of America.

Another simple form of boat is made on a totally different principle from those which have already been described, and, instead of being a hollow trough of bark, is a solid bundle of reeds and sticks tied together in a very ingenious manner, and giving support to one or more persons, according to its size.

Such is the history of the aboriginal tribes of Australia, whose remarkable manners and customs are fast disappearing, together with the natives themselves. The poor creatures are aware of the fact, and seem to have lost all pleasure in the games and dances that formerly enlivened their existence. Many of the tribes are altogether extinct, and others are disappearing so fast that the people have lost all heart and spirit, and succumb almost without complaint to the fate which awaits them. In one tribe, for example, the Barrabool, which numbered upward of three hundred, the births during seventeen years were only twenty-four, being scarcely two births in three years; while the deaths had been between eighteen and nineteen per annum.

Mr. Lloyd gives a touching account of the survivors of this once flourishing tribe:—

“When I first landed in Geelong, in 1837, the Barrabool tribe numbered upward of three hundred sleek and healthy-looking blacks. A few months previous to my leaving that town, in May 1853, on casually strolling up to a couple of miam-miams, or native huts, that were erected upon the banks of the Burwan River, I observed seated there nine loobras (women) and one sickly child.

“Seeing so few natives, I was induced to ask after numbers of my old dark friends of early days—Ballyyang, the chief of the Barrabool tribe, the great Jaga-jaga, Panigerong, and many others, when I received the following pathetic reply: ‘Aha, Mitter[790] Looyed, Ballyyang dedac (dead), Jaga-jaga dedac; Panigerong dedac,’ &c., naming many others; and, continuing their sorrowful tale, they chanted, in minor and funereal tones, in their own soft language, to the following effect:

“‘The stranger white man came in his great swimming corong (vessel), and landed at Corayio with his dedabul boulganas (large animals), and his anaki boulganas (little animals). He came with his boom-booms (double guns), his white miam-miams (tents), blankets, and tomahawks; and the dedabul ummageet (great white stranger) took away the long-inherited hunting-grounds of the poor Barrabool coolies and their children,’ &c., &c.

“Having worked themselves into a fit of passionate and excited grief, weeping, shaking their heads, and holding up their hands in bitter sorrow, they exclaimed, in wild and frenzied tones: ‘Coolie! coolie! coolie! where are our coolies now! Where are our fathers—mothers—brothers—sisters? Dead!—all gone! dead!’ Then, in broken English, they said, ‘Nebber mind, Mitter Looyed, tir; by ’m by all dem black fella come back white fella like it you.’ Such is the belief of the poor aborigines of Victoria; hence we may firmly infer that they possess a latent spark of hope in their minds as to another and better world.

“Then, with outstretched finger, they showed me the unhappy state of the aboriginal population. From their statement it appeared that there existed of the tribe at that moment only nine women, seven men, and one child. Their rapid diminution in numbers may be traced to a variety of causes. First, the chances of obtaining their natural food were considerably lessened by the entire occupation of the best grassed parts of the country, which originally abounded in kangaroo and other animals upon which they subsisted. The greater number of these valuable creatures, as an irresistible consequence, retired into the wild uninhabitable countries, far from the haunts of the white man and his destructive dogs.

“Having refused the aid of the Government and the Missionary Societies’ establishments at the River Burwan and Mount Rouse, the natives were to a serious extent deprived of animal food, so essential to a people who were ever exposed to the inclemencies of winter and the exhausting heats of summer. Influenza was one of the greatest scourges under which they suffered. Then, among other evils attending their association with the colonists, the brandy, rum, and tobacco told fearfully upon their already weakened constitutions.”

This one tribe is but an example of the others, all of whom are surely, and some not slowly, approaching the end of their existence. For many reasons we cannot but regret that entire races of men, possessing many fine qualities, should be thus passing away; but it is impossible not to perceive that they are but following the order of the world, the lower race preparing a home for the higher.

In the present instance, for example, the aborigines performed barely half of their duties as men. They partially exercised their dominion over the beasts and the birds—killing, but not otherwise utilizing them. But, although they inherited the earth, they did not subdue it, nor replenish it. They cleared away no useless bush or forest, to replace them with fruits; and they tilled no land, leaving the earth exactly in the same condition that they found it. Living almost entirely by the chase, it required a very large hunting-ground to support each man, and a single tribe gained a scanty and precarious living on a tract of land sufficient, when cultivated, to feed a thousand times their number. In fact, they occupied precisely the same relative position toward the human race as do the lion, tiger, and leopard toward the lower animals, and suffered in consequence from the same law of extinction.

In process of time white men came to introduce new arts into their country, clearing away useless forest, and covering the rescued earth with luxuriant wheat crops, sufficient to feed the whole of the aborigines of the country; bringing also with them herds of sheep and horned cattle to feed upon the vast plains which formerly nourished but a few kangaroo, and to multiply in such numbers that they not only supplied the whole of their adopted land with food, but their flesh was exported to the mother country.

The superior knowledge of the white man thus gave to the aborigines the means of securing their supplies of food; and therefore his advent was not a curse, but a benefit to them. But they could not take advantage of the opportunities thus offered to them, and, instead of seizing upon these new means of procuring the three great necessaries of human life, food, clothing, and lodging, they not only refused to employ them, but did their best to drive them out of the country, murdering the colonists, killing their cattle, destroying their crops, and burning their houses.

The means were offered to them of infinitely bettering their social condition, and the opportunity given them, by substituting peaceful labor for perpetual feuds, and of turning professional murderers into food-producers, of replenishing the land which their everlasting quarrels, irregular mode of existence, and carelessness of human life had well-nigh depopulated. These means they could not appreciate, and, as a natural consequence, had to make way for those who could. The inferior must always make way for the superior, and such has ever been the case with the savage. I am persuaded that[791] the coming of the white man is not the sole, nor even the chief, cause of the decadence of savage tribes. I have already shown that we can introduce no vice in which the savage is not profoundly versed, and feel sure that the cause of extinction lies within the savage himself, and ought not to be attributed to the white man, who comes to take the place which the savage has practically vacated.




Southward and eastward of Australia we come to the group of islands known collectively as New Zealand. Like Australia, New Zealand possesses many peculiarities of climate and natural production, and is inhabited by a number of tribes which are generally hostile to each other, but which are almost identical in appearance and habits. We shall therefore be enabled to treat of this important portion of the globe with much more brevity than could be the case if, as in Africa, the tribes differed from each other in hue, dress, and customs.

Taken as a whole, the New Zealanders are a singularly fine race of people—tall, powerful, and well made. Though varying somewhat in shade, the color is always a brown of some kind, the complexion being sometimes as light as that of a Spaniard, and sometimes of a dark umber. It is, however, always of a clear tint and never approaches to the deep black of the Australian. The nose is straight and well formed, in many cases being boldly aquiline; and the mouth is rather large, and the lips moderately full, though not resembling those of the negro. The cheekbones are rather high, but not much more prominent than those of a genuine Scotchman; and the eyes are large, dark, and vivacious.

The teeth are remarkably white and even, and the feet and hands small and well proportioned. The foot is very well developed, the native never having spoiled its beautiful mechanism with shoes or boots, and being accustomed to use the toes in many tasks wherein a civilized European requires his fingers. The toes are, for example, continually employed in holding one end of a rope, while the fingers are engaged in twisting or plaiting it; and the consequence is that the natives are able to ridicule with justice the misshapen feet and toes of the European.

The men have naturally a full beard; but they always remove every vestige of hair on the face, in order to show the patterns which are tattooed upon it. Now and then a very old and powerful chief will dare to allow his beard to grow; but, as a rule, the face is divested of all covering: so that the absence of the beard, together with the profuse tattoo, destroys all evidences of age, and makes the countenance of a young man of twenty look nearly as old as that of his grandfather aged sixty.

The hair is plentiful, and mostly straight, being twisted and curled by art into the various fashionable forms. In some cases it is light, or even reddish, in color; and in such instances accompanies a complexion of peculiar fairness. Albinism exists among the New Zealanders, but is not agreeable in appearance, the eyes being always weak, and the skin looking as if it had been artificially whitened. In fact, such an albino looks among his dark fellows like a plant that has been bleached by growing in the dark.

There seems to be two castes of men among the New Zealanders. The upper caste is distinguished by the above characteristics; but the lower is shorter in stature, and has coarse and curly, though not woolly hair, more prominent cheekbones, and a much blacker skin. This second race, according to Dr. Dieffenbach, “is mixed in insensible gradations with the former, and is far less numerous; it does not predominate in any one part of the island, nor does it occupy any particular station in a tribe; and there is no difference made between the two races among themselves.


(See page 795.)


“But I must observe that I never met any man of consequence belonging to this tribe, and that, although freemen, they occupied the lower grades: from this we may, perhaps, infer the relation in which they stood to the earliest immigrants into the country, although their traditions and legends are silent on the subject.

“From the existence of two races in New Zealand the conclusion might be drawn that the darker were the original proprietors of the soil, anterior to the arrival of a stock of true Polynesian origin; that they were conquered by the latter, and nearly exterminated. This opinion has been entertained regarding all Polynesian islands; but I must observe that it is very doubtful whether those differences which we observe among the natives of New Zealand are really due to such a source. We find similar varieties in all Polynesian islands, and it is probable that they are a consequence of the difference of castes so extensively spread among the inhabitants of the tribes of the great ocean.

“If one part of the population of New Zealand are a distinct race—a fact which cannot be denied as regards other islands—it is very curious that there should be no traces of such a blending in the language, where they would have been most durable, or in the traditions, which certainly would have mentioned the conquest of one race by the other, if it had happened. Captain Crozet, a Frenchman, who early visited New Zealand, says that he found a tribe at the North Cape darker than the rest. I could observe nothing of the kind there, though I visited all the natives. Nor are those darker-colored individuals more common in the interior; I should say, even less so.

“There is undoubtedly a greater variety of color and countenance among the natives of New Zealand than one would expect—a circumstance which might prove either an early blending of different races, or a difference of social conditions, which latter supposition would go far to explain the fact. All the New Zealanders speak of the Mango-Mango, or Blacks of New South Wales, as unconnected with and inferior to themselves; but they never make such a distinction regarding their own tribes.”

As is often the case with uncivilized people, the women are decidedly inferior to the men, being much shorter, and not nearly so well made. They are not treated with the harshness which is the usual characteristic of married life among savages, and are even taken into their husbands’ counsels, and have great influence in political affairs. Still, the heavy work of the household falls upon their shoulders, and the lot of an ordinary New Zealand wife is rather a severe one. She has to cultivate the ground, to carry the produce of the distant fields to the house, and, when the family is travelling, the women have to carry all the heavy loads. It is no wonder, therefore, that a life of such drudgery should tell upon the women, both in preventing the proper development of their frame and in causing their beauty to decay. Those who preserve their beauty longest are the daughters of wealthy chiefs, who can afford slaves by whom all the hard work is done, and who therefore free their mistresses from one of the causes of deterioration.

There is, however, another cause, which is perhaps equally effective, but not so palpable. This is the very lax code of morality which prevails among them, a young girl being permitted the utmost freedom until she is married, although afterward she is a model of constancy. This license is exercised at a very early age, and the natural consequence is that the due development of the frame is checked. This vicious system is so much a matter of course, that it carries no reproach with it, and the young girls are remarkable for their modest and childlike demeanor.

Of course they become aged much earlier than those whose development takes place at a later period of life; but they compensate for their deteriorated appearance by their peculiar kindliness of demeanor. The engraving No. 1, illustrates the countenance and dress of a New Zealand woman and her boy.

Unlike the men, the women do not disfigure their faces by the tattoo, which gives to them the stern and fixed expression so characteristic of a New Zealand warrior; and they thus allow the really flexible and intelligent features to have full play. The only portions of the face that are marked with the tattoo are the lips, which are rendered blue by the process, as it is considered disgraceful for a woman to have red lips. The tattooing is always performed when the child is allowed to take her place among women; and, as may be imagined, it gives a livid and altogether unpleasant appearance to the mouth.

The children are very pleasing and interesting little creatures. They are full of intelligence, and unusually free and open in their manner. Unlike the children of most savage nations, they live as much with the men as with the women, and partake even in the councils of their parents, thus having their faculties sharpened at a very early age. The illustration opposite gives typical examples of the New Zealander from childhood to age, and the reader will notice the contrast between the soft and rounded outlines of the youth, and the harsh, rigid countenances of the old man and his consort.


In proportion to the dimensions of New Zealand, the population is very small; and, even in the earliest days of our acquaintance with it, the land seems to have been but thinly inhabited. That such should be the case is very remarkable, as a very thin population is generally found in those countries where, as in Australia, the inhabitants live principally by the chase, and therefore require a very large tract of land to support them. The New Zealanders, however, do not live by the chase, for the simple reason that there are no animals which are worth the trouble of hunting; so that a family of twenty or so, even if they had the entire country as a hunting-ground, would find themselves in very great straits were they obliged to procure their food by the chase. The reasons for this thin population will be presently seen.

According to Dieffenbach’s calculation, the native population of the entire country may be reckoned rather below one hundred and fifteen thousand. These are divided into twelve great tribes, which are again subdivided into sub-tribes, or clans, each of which has its separate name, and is supposed to belong to a certain district. The fighting men, or warriors, form about one-fourth of the whole population; the remaining three-fourths being made up of old men, women, and children. Since this calculation the numbers of the aborigines have considerably lessened. The most important of the tribes seems to be the Waikato, which is divided into eighteen clans, and which occupies a very large proportion of the country. This tribe alone can bring into the field six thousand fighting men; so that the entire number of the tribe may be calculated at twenty-four thousand or so.

The Waikato clans have managed to preserve their individuality better than the others, and, though brought much in contact with civilization, and having adopted some of the habits of their white visitors, they have still retained many of their ancient customs, and, as Dieffenbach remarks, have preserved much of their ancient vigor and original virtues.

The tribe that is strongest in mere numbers is the Nga-te-kahuhuna, which inhabits the east coast, and may be reckoned at thirty-six thousand strong. In fact, these two tribes alone outnumber the whole of the others taken collectively. One tribe, the Rangitani, is interesting from the fact that it was described by Captain Cook. In his days it was evidently a large and flourishing tribe, but some few years ago it could scarcely muster three hundred warriors, representing a total number of twelve hundred. The decadence of this tribe is probably owing to the destructive wars in which the New Zealanders engage, and which are often so fierce as to erase a tribe entirely.

The government of the New Zealanders is a curious mixture of simplicity and complication. Monarchy is unknown, each tribe having its own great chief, while an inferior chief presides over each clan, or sub-tribe. The whole of the population may be roughly divided into three ranks. First come the nobility, then the free men, and lastly the slaves. The nobility go by the general name of Rangatira—a title which is always given to officers, missionaries, and other white men who are placed in command over others.

In each tribe one of the Rangatira is the Ariki, or principal chief; but, as he is necessarily a Rangatira, he is always addressed by that title, and, in consequence, a stranger finds some difficulty, even after a prolonged visit, in ascertaining who is the Ariki. Among the New Zealanders there is no Salic law, so that the Ariki need not be a warrior, and may be a woman. The office is hereditary, and the existing Ariki is always held in the highest veneration in virtue of his descent. Even the hostile tribes respect an Ariki, and in most cases, if he should be captured in battle, the victors will spare his life. One or two of the most powerful chiefs living have been captured and afterward released, whereas, had they been common men, or even ordinary Rangatiras, they would have been killed, their bodies eaten, and their heads dried and fixed as trophies on the houses of their conquerors.

A sort of tax, or tribute, is paid by the different families, though the tax is entirely a voluntary one, and may be great or small, or withheld altogether, at pleasure. Mostly the Ariki is a man of considerable mental powers, and, in such a case, he exercises great authority over the tribe, either as a priest or a warrior. There is nothing to prevent the Ariki from assuming the office of priest, and in many instances he has been able to exercise a far greater influence by spiritual than by physical means.

The Rangatira are the great men, or nobles, of the land, and with them, as with the Ariki, the rank is hereditary. The law of succession is very remarkable, the eldest son being the heir to his father’s rank; but if the child dies, the youngest, and not the next eldest, becomes the lawful successor. These two heirs, the eldest and the youngest sons, are called by a name which signifies the fat of the earth.

Each Rangatira is independent of his fellows, though they collectively form a sort of body which we may compare with the House of Peers in England. Any Rangatira who has sufficient influence may gather together the members of his clan, build a fortified village, or pah, and become a petty sovereign in his own dominions. It is in this way that the various clans, or sub-tribes, are formed, each gathering round a noble of more than usual ability, and adopting a name by which the members will ever afterward be known.


The free men form the great body of the warriors; some of them being the sons of Rangatira, and others merely having the privilege of free birth; which carries with it the right of tattooing the face. Sometimes a free man who is remarkable for his generalship and courage will take the command of an expedition, even though men of higher rank than himself should be engaged in it.

Last come the slaves. These are always procured from two sources: they are either captives taken in battle, or are the children of such captives. The value of such slaves is very great. All savages are idle, but the New Zealander is one of the laziest of mortals in time of peace. In war he is all fire and spirit; but in peace he lounges listlessly about, and will not do a stroke of work that can possibly be avoided.

He may, perhaps, condescend to carve the posts of his house into some fantastical semblance of the human form, or he may, perchance, employ himself in slowly rubbing a stone club into shape, or in polishing or adorning his weapons. Whatever real work is to be done is left to the women or the slaves, and a man who values his wife or daughter will endeavor to procure slaves who will relieve her of the drudgery.

There are slaves of both sexes, to whom the appropriate work is allotted. They are considered the absolute property of their owner, who may treat them as he pleases, and, if he prefers to kill them, may do so without attracting any attention. Of course he would not do so except for very good reasons, as he would deprive himself of a valuable article of property. There have been cases, as we shall presently see, when the owner of slaves has deliberately murdered them for the sake of selling their heads.

Once a slave, always a slave. Should one of these unfortunates manage to escape and get back to his own tribe, his owner would apply for him, and he would be given up, the right of the master to his slave being universally recognized. Still, as a rule, the slaves are treated well, and some of them, who have attained excellence in certain arts, often become richer men than their owners. So great is the value of slaves, that many a war has been undertaken for the mere purpose of slave hunting, and some of the most disastrous and obstinate feuds have originated in the slave hunt.

Connected with the government of the New Zealanders is the land question. This is a strangely complicated business, as every inch of ground has an actual owner, while there are usually several claimants who allow their rights, real or imagined, to lie in abeyance as long as the land is owned by one who can hold his own, while they will all prefer their claims at his death, or even during a lengthened absence.

So it has often happened that the white men, while desiring to act according to law and honor, have involved themselves in a very net of difficulties. A chief, for example, may agree to sell a portion of territory, will receive the price, and will sign a deed, which will be witnessed by natives as well as by Europeans. No sooner has he done so, than a claimant comes forward, declaring that the chief in question had no real right to the land, and therefore had no right to sell it.

His claim will be inquired into, and, if it seems to be tolerably consistent with likelihood, the man will be paid an additional sum for his consent to the sale. The matter, however, is not at an end, for such is the jealousy with which the natives regard land, that, as long as a foreigner holds an inch of ground, so long will there be a native who prefers a claim to it. Strange as it may seem, the white man would incur less odium by taking the land by force, and seizing it by right of conquest, than by trying to act according to justice and equity.

War is a fertile source of misunderstanding about land. A tribe may be driven out of a district, and their land given to others, who hold it as long as they can keep it, the original possessors being sure to reconquer it if possible. It has sometimes happened that a chief to whom such lands have been presented has transferred them to another chief, and he, in his turn, has sold them to European settlers, the bargain being ratified by his own followers, who are considered as having a share in such property.

The colonists take the land, clear it, cultivate it, and when the crops are fairly in the ground, the dispossessed tribe will come forward and prefer their claim to it. Those to whom it was sold have already received their price, and do not trouble themselves to oppose the claim; and the consequence is, that the colonists are obliged either to make a second payment or to run the risk of war.

As to the claims themselves, they are of the most curious and unexpected character, such as no European would be likely to anticipate. According to Dieffenbach, “There exists a very distinct notion of the rights of landed property among the natives, and every inch of land in New Zealand has its proprietor. Sometimes land is given to a strange tribe, either as pay, or from other considerations, but the proprietor reserves certain rights, some of which are what we should term manorial.

“It was formerly very common that the fat of the native rats (Kiore) killed on such lands should be given to the principal proprietor, and in many cases a title to land seems to have been derived from the fact of having killed rats on it. Thus a chief will say, ‘This or that piece of land is mine; I have killed rats on it.’ Generally, however,[798] land descends, as with us, by inheritance.”

Such being the complicated tenure on which land is held—a tenure which is often puzzling to the natives themselves—it is no matter of wonder that English settlers should have found themselves in difficulties. It is said that the colonists tried to make themselves masters of the land by unfair means, i. e. either by forcibly taking possession of it, or by inveigling the ignorant natives into signing documents which they did not understand, and thus selling their paternal estates for rum, tobacco, and a few blankets.

This may to some extent have been the case when the colonists first came to settle in the country. But the natives are far too intelligent to remain long ignorant of the power of pen, ink, and paper, and there is no doubt that in many cases they intentionally outwitted the purchaser, either by putting forward a sham owner of the ground, who had no right to sell it, and who vanished with his share of the prize as soon as the bargain was concluded, or by asserting ignorance of the meaning of the document which had been signed, and refusing to carry out its conditions. That the white men succeeded too often in cheating the natives is unfortunately true, but it is no less true that the natives as often cheated the colonists.

Law among the New Zealanders seems to be of the simplest kind, and, as far as we know, is not so well developed as among some of the tribes of Southern Africa. The three offences of which the law takes cognizance are murder, theft, and adultery. For the first of these offences a sort of lex talionis holds good, the relatives of the slain man being sure, sooner or later, to kill the murderer, unless he manages to compromise with them. Even theft is punished in a similar fashion, the thief being robbed in his turn.

As to the third offence, it is punishable in various ways; but both the offending parties are supposed to have forfeited their lives to the husband. If, therefore, the fact be discovered, and the culprit be a person of low rank, he seeks safety in flight, while, if he be a man of rank, he expects that the offended husband will make war upon him. Sometimes, if a wife discovers that her husband has been unfaithful to her, she will kill his paramour, or, at all events, disgrace her after the native custom, by stripping off all her clothes, and exposing her in public. Even the husband is sometimes subjected to this punishment by the wife’s relations; and so much dreaded is this disgrace that men have been known to commit suicide when their offence has been discovered.

Suicide, by the way, is not at all uncommon among the New Zealanders, who always think that death is better than disgrace, and sometimes destroy themselves under the most trivial provocation. One such case is mentioned by Mr. Angas. “On arriving at the village or kainga of Ko Nghahokowitu, we found all the natives in a state of extraordinary excitement. We had observed numbers of people running in that direction, along the margin of the river, from the different plantations, and, on inquiry, we learned that an hour previously to our arrival the son of an influential chief had committed suicide by shooting himself with a musket.

“Our fellow-travellers, with Wisihona their chief, were all assembled, and we followed them to the shed where the act had been perpetrated, and where the body still lay as it fell, but covered with a blanket. The mourners were gathered round, and the women commenced crying most dolefully, wringing their hands, and bending their bodies to the earth. We approached the body, and were permitted to remove the blanket from the face and breast. The countenance was perfectly placid, and the yellow tint of the skin, combined with the tattooing, gave the corpse almost the appearance of a wax model. The deceased was a fine and well-made young man. He had placed the musket to his breast, and deliberately pushed the trigger with his toes, the bullet passing right through his lungs. Blood was still oozing from the orifice made by the bullet, and also from the mouth, and the body was still warm.”

The cause of this suicide was that which has already been mentioned. The young man had been detected in an illicit correspondence with the wife of another man in the same village. The woman had been sent away to a distant settlement, a proceeding which had already made her lover sullen and gloomy; and, on the day when Mr. Angas visited the place, he had become so angry at the reproaches which were levelled at him by some of his relations, that he stepped aside and shot himself.

The determined manner in which the New Zealanders will sometimes commit suicide was exemplified by the conduct of another man, who deliberately wrapped himself up in his blanket, and strangled himself with his own hands. The crime was perpetrated in the common sleeping-house, and was achieved with so much boldness that it was not discovered until the man had been dead for some time.

A remarkable instance of this phase of New Zealand law took place when Mr. Dieffenbach visited the Waipa district. He was accompanied by a chief, who called a girl to him, and handed her over to the police magistrate as a murderess. The fact was, that her brother, a married man, had formed an intimacy with a slave girl, and, fearing the vengeance of his wife’s relatives, had killed himself. His sister, in order to[799] avenge the death of her brother, found out the slave girl in the bush, and killed her. The strangest part of the business was, that the accused girl was the daughter of the chief who denounced her.

The girl pleaded her own cause well, saying, what was perfectly true, that she had acted according to the law of the land in avenging the death of her brother, and was not amenable to the laws of the white man, which had not yet been introduced into her country. As might be imagined, her plea was received, and the girl was set at liberty; but her father was so earnest in his wish to check the system of retaliatory murder, that he actually offered himself in the place of his daughter, as being her nearest relation.


NEW ZEALAND—Continued.


We will now proceed to the appearance and dress of the natives of New Zealand, or Maories, as they term themselves. As the most conspicuous part of the New Zealander’s adornment is the tattooing with which the face and some other portions of the body are decorated, we will begin our account with a description of the moko, as it is called by the natives.

There are many parts of the world where the tattoo is employed, but in none is it of so formidable a description as among the New Zealanders. As the reader is probably aware, the tattoo consists of patterns made by introducing certain coloring matters under the skin; charcoal, variously prepared, being the usual material for the purpose. We have already seen among the Kaffirs examples of ornamenting the skin by cutting it deeply so as to form scars, and in Australia a similar but more cruel custom prevails. In neither of these countries, however, is there any attempt at producing an artistic effect, while in New Zealand beauty of design is the very object of the tattoo.

There is a distinction between the tattoo of the New Zealanders and the Polynesians; that of the latter people being formed by rows of little dots, and that of the former by lines cut completely through the skin. On account of this distinction, though a New Zealander and a Polynesian be covered from head to foot with tattoo marks, there is no possibility of mistaking the one for the other.

The moko of the New Zealander is a mark of rank, none but slaves being without a more or less complete tattooing of the face. In the present day, even the chiefs have begun to discontinue the ancient custom, chiefly owing to the exertions of the missionaries, who objected to the practice as a mark of heathendom. Consequently, several of the most powerful convert chiefs present a very curious, not to say ludicrous, aspect, which can hardly have a good effect in recommending Christianity to the people. Having been converted before the moko was completed, and being unwilling to continue the process and unable to obliterate those portions which were already drawn, they appear with one half of their faces tattooed and the other half plain, or perhaps with a solitary ring round one eye, and a couple of curves round one side of the mouth.

As, however, the present work treats only of the native customs, and not of modern civilization, the New Zealanders will be described as they were before they had learned to abandon the once-prized tattoo, to exchange the native mat for the English blanket, the picturesque war canoe for the commonplace whaling boat, and the spear and club for the rifle and bayonet.

The principal tattoo is that of the face and upper part of the head, which, when completed, leaves scarcely an untouched spot on which the finger can be placed. When finished, the whole face is covered with spiral scrolls, circles, and curved lines; and it is remarkable, that though a certain order is observed, and the position of the principal marks is the same in every case, no two persons are tattooed in precisely the same manner, the artists being able to produce an infinite variety with the few materials at his command.

For example, the first portion of the tattoo is always a series of curved lines, reaching from the corners of the nose to the chin,[801] and passing round the mouth. This portion of the tattoo goes by the name of rerepi. Next comes a spiral scroll on the cheekbone; and below it is another spiral, reaching as low as the jaw-bone. These are called respectively kakoti and korohaha. Next come four lines on the middle of the forehead, called titi; and besides these there are several lines which run up the centre of the nose and cover its sides, some which spread over the forehead, others which occupy the chin; and even the lips, eyelids, and ears are adorned with this singular ornament.

Besides possessing these marks, a great chief is seldom content unless he can cover his hips with similar lines, each of which has, like those of the face, its proper name.

Although the moko was considered as a mark of rank, there were no sumptuary laws which forbade its use. Any one, provided he were not a slave, might be tattooed as much as he pleased; but the expense of the operation was so great, that none but men of position could afford a complete suit of moko. No man could tattoo himself, and the delicacy of touch and certainty of line was so difficult of attainment, that tattooing became an art or science, which was left in the hands of a few practitioners, who derived a good income from their business. Some of those who had attained much reputation for their skill used to command very high fees when called in to decorate a client, and their services could therefore only be secured by the men of high position. It is rather remarkable that some of the most celebrated operators were slaves, men who were forbidden to wear the tattoo on their own persons.

The mode of operation is as follows. The patient lies on his back, and places his head between the knees of the operator, who squats on the ground after the usual native fashion. The latter then takes a little of the black pigment, and draws on the face the line of the pattern which he intends to follow; and in some cases he slightly scratches them with a sharp instrument, so as to make a sketch or outline drawing. The object of this scratching is to prevent the pattern from being obliterated by the flowing blood and the black pigment which is rubbed into the wounds.

Next, he takes his instrument or chisel, which is usually made of teeth, or the bone of a bird, and with it follows the pattern, cutting completely through the skin. Sometimes, when engaged in tattooing the face, a careless operator has been known to cut completely through the cheek, so as to put a temporary check to smoking, the sufferer experiencing some difficulty in getting the smoke into his mouth at all, and then finding it escape through the holes in his cheek. On page 722 the reader may find an illustration which gives a good idea of the different forms of the tattooing chisel. As the operator proceeds, he continually dips the edge of his chisel in the black pigment, and, when he has cut a line of a few inches in length, he rubs more of the pigment into the wound, using a little bunch of fibre by way of a brush or sponge.

The cutting is not done as with a knife, but by placing the edge of the chisel on the skin, and driving it along the lines of the pattern by repeated blows with a small mallet. As may be imagined, the pain caused by this operation is excruciating. It is painful enough to have the skin cut at all, even with the keenest blade, as any one can testify who has been unfortunate enough to come under the surgeon’s knife. But when the instrument employed is a shark’s tooth, or a piece of bone, when it is driven slowly through the skin by repeated blows, and when the wound is at once filled with an irritating pigment, it may be imagined that the torture must be dreadful. It is, however, reckoned a point of honor to endure it without giving any signs of suffering.

Owing to the character of the tattoo, the destruction of the skin, and the consequent derangement of its functions, only a small portion can be executed at a time, a complete moko taking from two to three years, according to the constitution of the individual. Dreadful swellings are always caused by it, especially of the glands in the neighborhood of the wounds, and the effects are so severe that men have died when too large a portion has been executed at one time.

Every stroke of the chisel or uki leaving an indelible mark, it is of the greatest consequence that the operator should be a man of skill, and devote all his energies to tracing a clear, though elaborate pattern, in which the lines are set closely together, sweep in regular curves, and never interfere with each other.

While a man is being tattooed, his friends and those of the operator sing songs to him, in which he is encouraged to endure the pain bravely, and to bear in mind the lasting beauty which will be conferred upon him when the pattern is completed. The songs of the operator’s friends contain some very broad hints as to the scale of payment which is expected. Although, as has been stated, the best of tattooers are paid very highly, there is no definite fee, neither is any bargain made, the operator trusting to the liberality of his client. But, as a man would be contemned as a skulking fellow if he were to ask the services of a good operator and then pay him badly, the practical result is that a good tattooer always secures good pay.

Moreover, he has always the opportunity of avenging himself. As only a small portion of the moko can be executed at a time—say, for example, the spiral curve on one[802] cheek—if the operator be badly paid for the first portion of his work, he will take care to let the chisel slip out of its course when he proceeds to the second part, or will cut his lines coarsely and irregularly, thus disfiguring the stingy man for life.

Mr. Taylor gives a translation of one of these tattooing songs:

“He who pays well, let him be beautifully ornamented;
But he who forgets the operator, let him be done carelessly.
Be the lines wide apart.
O hiki Tangaroa!
O hiki Tangaroa!
Strike that the chisel as it cuts along may sound.
O hiki Tangaroa!
Men do not know the skill of the operator in driving his sounding chisel along.
O hiki Tangaroa!”

The reader will see that the song is a very ingenious one, magnifying the skill of the operator, promising a handsome moko to the liberal man, and threatening to disfigure him if he be niggardly in his payments.

While the operation of tattooing is going on, all persons in the pah, or enclosure, are under the tabu, or tapu, lest any harm should happen to them; the work of tattooing being looked upon with a kind of superstitious reverence. The meaning of the word ‘tapu’ will be explained when we come to treat of the religious system of the New Zealander.

The effect of the moko on the face is well shown in illustration No. 2, on the next page, which represents a chief and his wife. The reader will probably observe that on the face of the woman there are marks which resemble the tattoo. They are, however, the scars left by mourning over the body of some relative, a ceremony in which the women cut themselves unmercifully. The dress worn by both persons will be presently described.

The pigment used in tattooing is made from the resin of the kauri pine, and the greater part of it is made at one spot, where the tree grows plentifully. There is a rocky precipice, and a little distance from its edge a deep and narrow pit is sunk. A channel is cut through the face of the cliff into the pit, and the apparatus is complete. When a native wishes to make a supply of tattooing pigment, he cuts a quantity of kauri wood, places it in the pit, and sets fire to it, thus causing the burnt resin to fall to the bottom of the pit, whence it is scraped out through the channel.

Scarlet paint is much employed by the natives, especially when they decorate themselves for battle. It is obtained from an ochreous substance which is deposited in many places where water has been allowed to become stagnant. Some spots are celebrated for the excellence of the ochre, and the natives come from great distances to procure it. When they wish to make their scarlet paint, they first carefully dry and then burn the ochre; the result of which operation is, that a really fine vermilion is obtained.

This paint is used for many purposes, and before being used it is mixed with oil obtained from the shark. The natives are fond of decorating their houses with it, and by means of the scarlet lines increase, according to their own ideas, the beauty of the carved work with which every available point is adorned. Even their household goods are painted after a similar manner, the fashionable mode being to paint all the hollows scarlet, and the projecting portions black. Their canoes and wooden ornaments are profusely adorned with red paint. But the most valued use of this pigment is the part which it plays in the decoration of a warrior when he goes to battle.

In such cases paint constitutes the whole of his costume, the mats in which he takes so great a pride in time of peace being laid aside, many warriors being perfectly naked, and with the others the only covering of any kind being a belt made of plaited leaves.

One of these belts in my collection is seven feet in length, and only three and a half inches wide in the broadest part; while at either end it diminishes to a mere plaited thong. It is folded fourfold, and on opening it the mode of construction is plainly seen; all the loose ends being tucked inside.

The material is phormium leaf cut into strips an inch in width, each alternate strip being dyed black. Each strip is then divided into eight little strips or thongs, and they are so plaited as to produce an artistic checkered pattern of black and white. The ingenuity in forming so elaborate a pattern with so simple a material is extreme; and, as if to add to the difficulty of his task, the dusky artist has entirely changed the pattern at either end of the belt, making it run at right angles to the rest of the fabric. The belt is also used in lieu of clothing when the men are engaged in paddling a canoe.

The paint, therefore, becomes the characteristic portion of the New Zealander’s war dress, and is applied for the purpose of making himself look as terrible as possible, and of striking terror into his enemies. It is, however, used in peace as well as in war, being regarded as a good preservative against the bites and stings of insects, especially the sandflies and mosquitoes. It is also used in mourning, being rubbed on the body as a sign of grief, precisely as ashes are used among some of the Oriental nations. Some travellers have thought that the continual use of this pigment gives to the New Zealanders the peculiar softness and sleekness of skin for which they are remarkable, and which distinguishes them from the Fijians, whose skin feels as if it had been roughened with a file. This theory, however, is scarcely tenable, the soft texture of the skin being evidently due to physical and not to external causes.


(See page 795.)

(See page 802.)


A warrior adorned in all the pride of the tattoo and scarlet paint is certainly a terrific object, and is well calculated to strike terror into those who have been accustomed to regard the Maori warriors with awe. When, however, the natives found that all the painting in the world had no effect upon the disciplined soldiers of the foreigner, they abandoned it, and contented themselves with the weapons that none are more able to wield than themselves.

Moreover, the paint and tattoo, however well it might look on a warrior armed after the primitive fashion, has rather a ludicrous effect when contrasted with the weapons of civilization. There is now before me a portrait of a Maori chief in full battle array. Except a bunch of feathers in his hair, and a checked handkerchief tied round his loins, evidently at the request of the photographer, he has no dress whatever. He is tall, splendidly made, stern, and soldierlike of aspect. But instead of the club, his proper weapon, he bears in his hand a Belgian rifle, with fixed bayonet, and has a cartouche-box fastened by a belt round his naked body.

His face is tattooed, and so are his hips, which are covered with a most elaborate pattern, that contrasts boldly with his really fair skin. Had he his club and chief’s staff in his hands, he would look magnificent; having a rifle and a cartouche-box, he looks absurd. Even a sword would become him better than a rifle, for we are so accustomed to associate a rifle with a private soldier, that it is difficult to understand that a powerful chief would carry such a weapon.

The curious mixture of native and European dress which the Maories are fond of wearing is well described by Mr. Angas. “Raupahara’s wife is an exceedingly stout woman, and wears her hair, which is very stiff and wiry, combed up into an erect mass upon her head about a foot in height, somewhat after the fashion of the Tonga islanders, which, when combined with her size, gives her a remarkable appearance.

“She was well dressed in a flax mat of native manufacture, thickly ornamented with tufts of cotton wool; and one of her nieces wore silk stockings and slippers of patent leather. This gay damsel was, moreover, a very pretty girl, and knew how to set off her charms to advantage; for over an European dress she had retained her native ornaments, and had wrapped herself coquettishly in a beautiful, ‘kaitaka,’ displaying her large hazel eyes above its silky folds.”

It has often been thought that the warrior regarded his moko, or tattoo, as his name, permanently inscribed on his face; and this notion was strengthened by two facts: the one, that in the earlier times of the colonists the natives signed documents by appending a copy of their moko; and the other, that each man knows every line of his tattoo, and sometimes carves a wooden bust on which he copies with admirable fidelity every line which appears on his own head or face. Such a work of art is greatly valued by the Maories, and a man who has carved one of them can scarcely be induced by any bribe to part with it.

Moreover, the moko of a warrior is often accepted as the conventional representation of himself. For example, on the pillars of a very celebrated house, which we shall presently describe, are numerous human figures which represent certain great chiefs, while men of lesser mark are indicated by their moko carved on the posts. Thus it will be seen that the moko of a chief is as well known to others as to himself, and that the practised eye of the native discerns among the various curves and spirals, which are common to all free men, the characteristic lines which denote a man’s individuality, and in producing which the tattooers’ skill is often sorely tried.

It has already been mentioned, that when a warrior falls in battle, and his body can be carried off by the enemy, the head is preserved, and fixed on the dwelling of the conqueror. No dishonor attaches itself to such an end; and, indeed, a Maori warrior would feel himself direfully insulted if he were told that in case of his death in the field his body would be allowed to remain untouched.

In fact, he regards his moko precisely in the same light that an American Indian looks upon his scalp-lock; and, indeed, there are many traits in the character of the Maori warrior in which he strangely resembles the best examples of North American savages.

In order to preserve the head of a slain warrior, some process of embalming must evidently be pursued, and that which is commonly followed is simple enough.

The head being cut off, the hair is removed, and so are the eyes; the places of which are filled up with pledgets of tow, over which the eyelids are sewed. Pieces of stick are then placed in the nostrils in order to keep them properly distended, and the head is hung in the smoke of the wood fire until it is thoroughly saturated with the pyroligneous acid. The result of this mode of preparation is, that the flesh shrinks up, and the features become much distorted; though, as the Maori warrior always distorts his countenance as much as possible before battle, this effect is rather realistic than otherwise.

It is often said that heads prepared in this fashion are proof against the attacks of insects. This is certainly not the case, as I have seen several specimens completely riddled by the ptilinus and similar creatures, and have been obliged to destroy the little pests by injecting a solution of corrosive sublimate. In spite of the shrivelling[806] to which the flesh and skin are subject, the tattooing retains its form; and it is most curious to observe how the finest lines completely retain their relative position to each other.

Not only are the heads of enemies treated in this fashion, but those of friends are also preserved. The difference is easily perceptible by looking at the mouth, which, if the head be that of a friend, is closed, and if of an enemy, is widely opened.

Some years ago, a considerable number of these preserved heads were brought into Europe, having been purchased from the natives. Of late years, however, the trade in them has been strictly forbidden, and on very good grounds. In the first place, no man who was well tattooed was safe for an hour, unless he were a great chief, for he might at any time be watched until he was off his guard, and then knocked down, killed, and his head sold to the traders. Then, when the natives became too cautious to render head hunting a profitable trade, a new expedient was discovered.

It was found that a newly tattooed head looked as well when preserved as one which had been tattooed for years. The chiefs were not slow in taking advantage of this discovery, and immediately set to work at killing the least valuable of their slaves, tattooing their heads as though they had belonged to men of high rank, drying, and then selling them.

One of my friends lately gave me a curious illustration of the trade in heads. His father wanted to purchase one of the dried heads, but did not approve of any that were brought for sale, on the ground that the tattoo was poor, and was not a good example of the skill of the native artists. The chief allowed the force of the argument, and, pointing to a number of his people who had come on board, he turned to the intending purchaser, saying, “Choose which of these heads you like best, and when you come back I will take care to have it dried and ready for your acceptance.” As may be imagined, this speech put an abrupt end to all head purchasing, and gave an unexpected insight into the mysteries of trading as conducted by savage nations.




We now come to the costume of the New Zealanders. This is of a rather remarkable character, and may be characterized by the generic title of mat, with the exception of the belt which has just been described. The costume of the New Zealander consists of a square or oblong mat, varying considerably in size, though always made on the same principle. In this mat the natives envelop themselves after a very curious fashion, generally muffling themselves up to the neck, and often throwing the folds round them after the fashion of a conventional stage villain.

These mats are of various textures, and differ as much in excellence and value as do the fabrics of more civilized lands. The material is, however, the same in all cases, and even the mode of wearing the garment, the value being estimated by the fineness of the material, the amount of labor bestowed upon it, and the ornaments introduced into it.

The material of which the mats are made is the so-called New Zealand “flax,” scientifically known by the name of Phormium tenax. It belongs to the natural family of the Liliaceæ and the tribe Asparagaceæ. The plant has a number of showy yellow flowers arranged on a tall branch-panicle, and a number of straightish leaves, all starting from the root, and being five or six feet long, and not more than two inches wide at the broadest part.

The fibres which run along these leaves are very strong and fine, and, when properly dressed and combed, have a beautiful silky look about them. At one time great quantities of New Zealand flax, as it was called, were imported into Europe, and the plant was cultivated in some of the southern parts of the Continent. Strong, however, as it may be, it has the curious fault of snapping easily when tied in a knot, and on this account is not valued so much in Europe as in its own country. I have before me a large roll of string made by natives from the phormium. It is very strong in proportion to its thickness, and much of it has been used in suspending various curiosities in my collection; but it cannot endure being made into a knot. It is useful enough in hitches, especially the “clove-hitch;” but as soon as it is tied into a knot, it will hardly bear the least strain.

The principle on which the mats are made is very simple. A weaving frame is erected on sticks a foot or so from the ground, and upon it is arranged the weft, made of strings or yarns, placed as closely together as possible, and drawn quite tight. The weft is double, and is passed under and over each yarn, and the upper one is always passed between the ends of the under weft before it is drawn tight. The mat is therefore nothing more than a number of parallel strings laid side by side, and connected, at intervals of an inch or so, by others that pass across them. More care is taken of the edges, which are turned over, and the yarns are so interwoven as to make a thick and strong border.

When the wefts are hauled tight, they are beaten into their place by means of a bone[808] instrument, very much like a paper knife in shape; and in every respect the weaving of a New Zealander most strongly reminds the spectator of the process of making the Gobelin tapestries. In both cases there is a fixed warp on which the weft is laboriously woven by hand, and is kept straight and regular by being struck with an instrument that passes between the threads of the warp. Although at the present day the warp of the Gobelin tapestry is stretched perpendicularly, in former times it was stretched longitudinally in a low frame, exactly similar in principle to that which is employed by the New Zealander.

The reader will perceive that the process of weaving one of these mats must be a work of considerable time, and an industrious woman can scarcely complete even a common mat under eighteen months, while one of the more elaborate robes will occupy twice that time.

The illustration No. 1 on the next page, is drawn from a sketch of a house belonging to one of the great chiefs, and in it are seen some women busily employed in making mats. One of them is scraping the leaves with a shell or stone, while another is engaged at the primitive loom. The mat is represented as nearly completed, and the woman is seen with the four ends of the double weft in her hand, passing them across each other before she draws them tight. A heap of dressed leaves of the phormium is seen in the background, and a bundle of the long swordlike leaves is strewn on the floor. Various baskets and other implements, made of the same material, are hung from the rafters; and in front is one of the curiously carved poles which support the roof.

It has been mentioned that there is but one principle on which all the mats are made, but that there is a very great variety in making them. There is, for example, the rain mat, which is used in wet weather. As the structure proceeds, the manufacturer inserts into each knot of the weft an undressed blade of the phormium upon which the epidermis has been allowed to remain. When wrapped round the body, the leaves all fall over each other, so as to make a sort of penthouse, and to allow the rain to run over their smooth and polished surfaces until it falls to the ground.

When rain comes on, and a number of natives are seen squatting on the ground, each wearing his rain mat, they have a most absurd appearance, and look like a number of human beings who had hidden themselves in haycocks. On page 803 may be seen the figure of a chief wearing one of these dresses. The name of the mat is E mangaika.

I have seen another kind of mat, which is made in a kind of open-work pattern, produced by crossing every fifth strand of the warp. This mat is of the very best quality, and, considering the nature of the material of which it is made, is wonderfully light, soft, and pliant.

Another kind is the woman’s mat, of which there are several varieties. It is of larger size than that employed by the men, and is capable of enveloping the entire figure from head to foot. It is of rather lighter material than the rain mat, and is decorated on the exterior with a number of strings, varying in length from a few inches to three feet or so. A variety of this mat is distinguished by having the strings white instead of black. Specimens of both these mats are in my collection, and the general effect of them can be seen by reference to any of the illustrations which represent the native women.

Strings or tags are undoubtedly the most characteristic portion of the dress, and there is scarcely a mat of any description that is not ornamented with them. One variety of mat, which is called E wakaiwa, is covered with long cylindrical ornaments that look very much as if they were made of porcupine quills, being hard, and colored alternately black and yellow. The ornaments are, however, made of the phormium leaf in a very ingenious manner. The epidermis is carefully scraped off the under side of the leaf with a sharp-edged shell, and the leaf is then turned over. On the upper side the epidermis is removed at regular intervals, so as to expose the fibres.

The next process is to put the scraped leaf into a dye made of a decoction of kinan bark, and to let it remain for a definite time. When it is taken out, the dye has stained the exposed fibres a deep glossy black, while it has not been able to touch the polished yellow epidermis that is allowed to remain. The dyed leaves are next rolled up until they form cylinders as large as goose quills, and are then woven in regular rows into the material of a mat. As the wearer moves about, the cylinders rustle and clatter against each other, producing a sound which seems to be peculiarly grateful to the ears of the natives. Such a mat or cloak is highly prized. Several of these mats are in my collection, and very curious examples of native art they are.

One of these has cost the weaver an infinity of trouble. It is nearly five feet wide and three in depth. The warp has been dyed black, while the weft is white; and the effect of the weft passing in reverse lines across the warp is very good. Every other line of weft is decorated with the cylindrical tassels each of which is nine inches in length, and is divided into four parts by the removal of the epidermis. These tassels begin at the fourth line of warp, and are regularly continued to the lower edge, whence they hang so as to form a fringe. On account of their number, they would qualify the garment as a rain mat on an emergency; and the rattling they make as the mat is moved is very much like that which is produced by a peacock when it rustles its train.


(See page 808.)

(See page 824.)


Along the upper edge, which passes over the shoulders, the strings have been rolled together into ropes as thick as the finger, and then plaited so as to form a thick and soft border which will not hurt the neck. The portion of the mat which comes between the edge and the first row of tassels is ornamented with scraps of scarlet wool plaited into the weft. This wool is a favorite though costly ornament to the natives, being procured from seamen’s woollen caps, which they unpick, and the yarns used to ornament the dress.

One of these mantles brought from New Zealand by Stiverd Vores, Esq., is adorned very largely with scarlet wool. It is completely bordered with the precious material, a narrow line of scarlet running under the upper edge, a broader under the lower, while the two sides are decorated with a band nearly four inches in width. In this case the wool has been arranged in a series of loops; but in another specimen the loops are cut so as to form a fringe.

In this latter mantle the tags, instead of being cylindrical and alternately black and yellow, are entirely black, each rolled leaf being wholly divested of its epidermis, and the fibres radiating from each other in tassel fashion. I rather think that the object of this mode of treatment is to prevent the eye from being distracted by the jangling yellow tags, and so to permit the scarlet border to exhibit its beauties to the best advantage.

Scarlet worsted is, of course, a comparatively late invention, and has only been introduced since the visits of Europeans. In former days the natives were equally fond of ornamenting their cloaks, and were obliged to use the plumage of birds for the purpose. The feathers taken from the breast of the kaka (a species of nestor) were mostly used for this purpose. Although the colored ornaments are generally disposed in lines, they are sometimes arranged in tufts, which are disposed in regular intervals over the whole of the dress. Examples of this kind of decoration may be seen in several of the costumes which are drawn in this work.

The yarns or strings of which the warp is made are not twisted or plaited, but consist merely of the phormium fibres as they lie in the leaf. The leaves are prepared for this purpose by scraping off the epidermis on both sides, and then beating them on a flat stone with a pestle made of the hard volcanic stone employed in the manufacture of adzes and other tools.

The most valuable of all the dresses are the war cloaks of the great chiefs. They are very large, being sometimes nearly six feet in depth, and wide enough to be wrapped over the entire body and limbs. Their native name is Parawai.

Before making one of these great war mats, the weaver collects a large quantity of dog’s hair, which she assorts into parcels of different colors. She then sets up her simple loom, and fixes the warp as usual. But with every knot or mesh which she makes with the weft she introduces a tuft of hair, taking care to make each tuft long enough to overlap and conceal the insertion of the tufts in the next row. She is also careful about the regular arrangement of the hues, so that when a complete mat is made by a skilful weaver, it looks exactly as if it was composed of the skin of some large animal, the vegetable fibres which form the fabric itself being entirely concealed by the tufts of hair.

One of these mats is the result of some four years’ constant labor, and causes some surprise that a people so naturally indolent as the Maories should prove themselves capable of such long and steady industry. But the fact is, the mat maker is a woman and not a man, and in consequence is obliged to work, whether she likes it or not.

In the next place, mat weaving scarcely comes under the denomination of labor. The woman is not tied to time, nor even bound to produce a given number of mats within a given period. Her living, too, does not depend upon the rate of her work, and whether she takes eighteen months or two years to produce a garment is a matter of total indifference to all parties. Besides, she never works alone, but is always accompanied by friends, one of whom, perhaps, may be occupied in a similar manner, another may be employed in scraping the phormium leaves, and another is engaged in pounding and softening the fibres, or drying those that have just been dyed black.

But, whatever their hands may be doing, the weavers’ tongues are never still. A continual stream of talk flows round the looms, and the duty of mat making is thus changed into an agreeable mode of enjoying the pleasures of conversation while the hands are employed in a light and easy labor.

Very great ingenuity is displayed by the woman to whom is entrusted the onerous task of making a war mat. No two are alike, the weaver exercising her discretion respecting the colors and their arrangement. Some of them are made on the same principle as the Bechuana kaross,—namely, darkest in the centre, and fading into the lightest hues round the edges. Others are white or pale in the middle, and edged with a broad band of black or dark brown hair. Sometimes the colors are arranged in a zigzag pattern, and several mats are striped like tiger skins. They always have a sort of[812] collar, composed of strips of fur, which hang about six inches over the shoulders.

In New Zealand there are one or two dresses which are made almost entirely of fur, the skins being dressed with the hair adhering to them, and then sewed together. A very remarkable mat is possessed by a powerful chief named Parátene Maioha. It is made of strips of dogs’ fur sewed over a large flaxen mat. Of this garment he is very proud, and reserves it to be worn on grand occasions. A portrait of this celebrated chief is given in the illustration No. 1, on the 820th page, partly to show the aspect of a Maori chief in time of peace, and partly to give the reader an idea of the peculiar look of the war cloak.

There is also before me a photographic portrait of Parátene, authenticated by his autograph, in which he is represented as clad in a different manner. He wears two mats or cloaks, the lower being of the finest flax, and called by the natives kaitaka. A description of this kind of cloak will be presently given. Over the kaitaka he wears a very remarkable war cloak, which is made of dogs’ fur sewed upon a flax mat. It reaches a little below the knees, and is made in perpendicular stripes alternately dark and pale, and is furnished with a thick collar or cape of the same material. This cape, by the way, bears a curious resemblance to the ornament which is worn by the Abyssinian chiefs.

Unfortunately for the general effect of the picture, Parátene has combed, divided, and brushed his hair in European fashion; and muffled up as he is to the chin, it is too evident that he is wearing a complete European suit under his mats. The cape has fallen off a little on the right side, and we have the absurd anomaly of a face profusely tattooed surmounted with hair that has just been brushed and combed, a dog-skin war mat, from which protrudes a bare right arm, a jade earring six inches long, and a black cravat and turn-down collar. In his right hand he grasps his cherished merai; his staff of office, or E’hani, rests against his shoulder; and by his side is his long battle-axe, adorned with a tuft of feathers and dog-skin. This same Parátene is a man of great mark among the Maories.

As is the case with natives of rank who have associated with Europeans, he is known by several names. The following account of him is given by Mr. G. F. Angas:

“Parátene (Broughton), whose native name was Te Maihoa, is a cousin of Te Whero-whero, and one of the leading men of the Ngatimahuta branch of the Waikato tribes. He generally resides in a village (or kainga) on the northern bank of the picturesque little harbor of Waingaroa, on the west coast of the Northern Island; and the correctness of his general conduct, and the gravity of his demeanor, have obtained for him a marked ascendancy over many of his equals in rank.

“Eccentricity is the principal feature in the character of this chief; and the scrupulous attention which he invariably pays to those trifling circumstances which constitute his notions of etiquette often renders his conduct highly curious. He has gained, by unwearied application, a smattering of arithmetic, and one of his most self-satisfactory exploits is the correct solution of some such important problem as the value of a pig of a certain weight, at a given price per pound, making the usual deduction for the offal. His erudite quality and the dignified gravity of his carriage have commanded the deferential respect of his people, and encouraged them to consider him quite an oracle.

“One little incident will place the harmless foible of this chief’s character in a striking light. When the author was about to employ his pencil in the delineation of his figure, Parátene desired to be excused for a few moments. Having gained his point, he sought an interview with Mrs. Wells, the missionary’s wife (under whose hospitable roof his portrait was taken), and, preferring his request with some solemn intimations of its paramount importance, begged ‘Mother’ to lend him a looking-glass, that he might compose his features in a manner suitable to his own idea of propriety ere he took his stand before the easel of the artist.”

It may be observed, by the way, that “Mother” is the term always employed by the natives when addressing the wife of a missionary. The autograph of Parátene, to which allusion has already been made, is written with pencil, and is perfectly intelligible, though the characters are shaky, large, and sprawling, and look as if they had been made by fingers more accustomed to handle the club than the pencil.

The last kind of mat which will be mentioned is the kaitaka. This garment is made of a peculiar kind of flax, cultivated for the express purpose, and furnishing a fibre which is soft and fine as silk. The whole of the mat is plain, except the border, which is in some cases two feet in depth, and which is most elaborately woven into a vandyked pattern of black, red, and white. At the present day a good kaitaka is scarcely anywhere to be seen, the skill required in making them being so great that only a few weavers can produce them, and European blankets being so easily procured that the natives will not take the trouble of weaving garments that take so much time and trouble.

Handsome as are these native garments, they are not very pleasant to wear. As the threads are only laid parallel to each other, and are not crossed, as in fabrics woven in the loom, they form scarcely any protection against the wind, although they may serve to keep out the rain. The mats are very[813] heavy, my own small specimen of the waikawa cloak weighing five pounds and a half, and so stiff that they cannot be conveniently rolled up and packed away when out of use. An English blanket, on the contrary, is close-textured, resists the wind, is very light, and can be rolled up into a small compass; so that it is no wonder that the natives prefer it.

Unfortunately for them, it is not nearly so healthy a garment as that which is made by themselves, as it is worn for a long time without being washed, and so becomes saturated with the grease and paint with which the natives are fond of adorning their bodies. In consequence, it fosters several diseases of the skin to which the Maories are subject, and it has been found that those who wear blankets are much more subject to such ailments than those who adhere to the native raiment.

In some parts of the country, where the ground is hard and stony, the natives plait for themselves sandals or slippers, which very much resemble those which are used by the Japanese. They consist of the ever-useful phormium fibres, which are twisted into cords, and then plaited firmly into the shape of a shoe sole.

We now proceed from the dress to the ornaments worn by the New Zealanders.

In some respects they resemble those which are in use among other dark tribes. Feathers are much valued by them, and among the commonest of these adornments is a bunch of white feathers taken from the pelican, and fastened to the ears so as to fall on the shoulder. An example of this may be seen in the portrait of the old warrior on page 794. Sometimes the skin of a small bird is rudely stuffed, and then suspended as an earring, and sometimes one wing will be placed at each side of the head, the tips nearly meeting above.

The most prized of these adornments are the tail feathers of the bird called by the natives E Elia, or E Huia (Neomorpha Gouldii). It is allied to the hoopoos, and is remarkable for the fact that the beak of the male is straight and stout, while that of the female is long, slender, and sickle-shaped. The color of the bird is a dark glossy green of so deep a hue that in some lights it seems to be black. The tail feathers, however, are tipped with snowy white, so that when the bird spreads its plumage for flight, the tail looks at a little distance as if it were black, edged with white.

The bird is only found in the hills near Port Nicholson, and, as it is very wary, can scarcely be obtained except by the help of a native, who imitates its cry with wonderful perfection. The name E Elia is said to be merely an imitation of the long shrill whistle of the bird. The birds are so valued by the Maories that in all probability the species would have been extinct by this time, but for the introduction of European customs, which to a certain degree have driven out the ancient customs.

The feathers of the tail are the parts of the bird that are most valued by the chiefs, who place them in their hair on great occasions. So much do they prize these feathers, that they take the trouble to make boxes in which they are kept with the greatest care. These boxes are made by the chiefs themselves, and are covered with the most elaborate carvings, some of them being the finest specimens of art that can be found in New Zealand. They are of various shapes, but a very good idea of their usual form may be obtained from the illustration No. 3, on page 775. The usual forms are similar to that of the illustration, but in some cases the boxes are oblong. There is now before me a drawing of one of these boxes, which is covered with an equally elaborate pattern, in which the lines are mostly straight instead of curved, the pattern being of a vandyked character, similar to that upon the kaitaka cloak. There is a projecting handle upon the lid, and an almost similar handle upon each end.

The natives do not, however, confine themselves to wearing the tail feathers, but, when they can obtain so valuable a bird, are sure to use every portion of it. The head seems to be thought of next importance to the tail, and is suspended to the ear by a thong.

Perhaps the most characteristic ornaments that are worn by the New Zealanders are those which are made of green jade. This mineral, called by the natives Poonamu, is mostly found near the lakes in the Middle Island, and is valued by them with almost a superstitious reverence. If a very large piece be found, it is taken by some chief, who sets to work to make a club from it. This club, called a merai, will be described when we come to treat of war as conducted by the Maories.

In the illustration No. 1, on page 841, are represented some of the most characteristic jade ornaments.

Fig. 1 is a flat image bearing the rude semblance of a human being, and made of various sizes. That which is here given is rather smaller than the usual dimensions. It is called by the natives Tiki, and is at the same time one of the commonest and the highest prized articles among the New Zealanders. A new one can be purchased for a sum which, though it would be considered absurdly high in England for such an object, is in New Zealand really a low price, and scarcely repays the trouble of carving it.

Jade is an extremely hard mineral, ranking next to the ruby in that respect, and, in consequence of its extreme hardness, taking a peculiar glossy polish that is seen on no other substance. The time which is occupied in carving one of these ornaments is necessarily very great, as the native does[814] not possess the mechanical means which render its manipulation a comparatively easy task to the European engraver, and can only shape his ornaments by laboriously rubbing one piece of stone upon another.

That ornaments made of such a material should be highly prized is not a matter of surprise, and it is found that a wealthy chief will give an extraordinarily high price for a handsome jade ornament. There is in my collection a very ancient Buddhist amulet, made of the purest green jade, and beautifully carved, the remarkable portion of it being a revolving wheel with spiral spokes, the wheel being cut out of the solid jade. The amulet was found in the apartments of the Queen of Oude, and had evidently been imported from China, where it was engraved, the whole character of the work belonging to a very ancient epoch of Chinese art. It was shown to a Maori chief, who was then visiting England, and who was intensely pleased with it, saying that, if it were sent to New Zealand and offered for sale to one of the great chiefs, it would be purchased for £20 or £25 of English money.

It has been just mentioned that, in spite of the labor bestowed on the ornament, a new tiki can be purchased for a moderate sum. Such, however, would not be the case were the tiki an old one. These ornaments are handed down from father to son, and in process of time are looked upon with the greatest reverence, and treated as heirlooms which no money can buy.

One of these tikis was seen by Mr. Angas lying on the tomb of a child, where it had been placed as an offering by the parents. It had lain there for a long time; but, in spite of the value of the ornament, no one had ventured to touch it. It was a very small one, even less in size than the drawing in the illustration, and had in all probability been worn by the child on whose tomb it lay.

Most of these tikis are plain, but some of them have their beauty increased by two patches of scarlet cement with which the sockets of the eyes are filled.

The tikis are worn on the breast, suspended by a cord round the neck; and almost every person of rank, whether man or woman, possesses one. They are popularly supposed to be idols, and are labelled as such in many museums; but there is not the least reason for believing them to fulfil any office except that of personal decoration. The Maories are fond of carving the human figure upon everything that can be carved. Their houses are covered with human figures, their canoes are decorated with grotesque human faces, and there is not an implement or utensil which will not have upon it some conventional representation of the human form. It is therefore not remarkable that when a New Zealander finds a piece of jade which is too small to be converted into a weapon, and too flat to be carved into one of the cylindrical earrings which are so much valued, he should trace upon it the same figure as that which surrounds him on every side.

The most common forms of earring are those which are shown at figs. 4 and 5, the latter being most usually seen. It is so strangely shaped that no one who did not know its use would be likely to imagine that it was ever intended to be worn in the ear. Two rather remarkable earrings are worn in New Zealand as marks of rank; one being a natural object, and the other an imitation of it. This earring is called mako tamina, and is nothing but a tooth of the tiger shark. Simple though it be, it is greatly prized, as being a mark of high rank, and is valued as much as a plain red button by a Chinese mandarin, or, to come nearer home, the privilege of wearing a piece of blue ribbon among ourselves.

Still more prized than the tooth itself is an imitation of it in pellucid jade. The native carver contrives to imitate his model wonderfully well, giving the peculiar curves of a shark’s tooth with singular exactness. Such an ornament as this is exceedingly scarce, and is only to be seen in the ears of the very greatest chiefs. Anything seems to serve as an earring, and it is not uncommon to see natives of either sex wearing in their ears a brass button, a key, a button-hook, or even a pipe.

There is very little variety in the mode of dressing the hair, especially among women. Men generally keep it rather short, having it cut at regular intervals, while some of the elders adhere to the ancient custom of wearing it long, turning it up in a bunch on the top of the head, and fastening it with combs.

These are formed after a fashion common to all Polynesia, and extending even to Western Africa. The teeth are not cut out of a single piece of wood, but each is made separately, and fastened to its neighbor by a strong cross-lashing. The teeth, although slight, are strong and elastic, and are well capable of enduring the rather rough handling to which they are subjected.

Children of both sexes always wear the hair short like the men; but as the girls grow up, they allow the hair to grow, and permit it to flow over their shoulders on either side of the face. They do not part it, but bring it down over the forehead, and cut it in a straight line just above the eyebrows. When they marry, they allow the whole of the hair to grow, and part it in the middle. They do not plait or otherwise dress it, but merely allow it to hang loosely in its natural curls.

Hair-cutting is with the New Zealanders a long and tedious operation, and is conducted after the fashion which prevails in so many parts of the world. Not knowing the[815] use of scissors, and being incapable of producing any cutting instrument with an edge keen enough to shave, they use a couple of shells for the operation, placing the edge of one under the hair that is to be cut, and scraping it with the edge of the other.

Although this plan is necessarily a very slow one, it is much more efficacious than might be imagined, and is able not only to cut the hair of the head, but to shave the stiff beards of the men. In performing the latter operation, the barber lays the edge of the lower shell upon the skin, and presses it well downward, so as to enable the upper shell to scrape off the hair close to the skin. Beard-shaving is necessarily a longer process than hair-cutting, because it is not possible to cut more than one or two hairs at a time, and each of them takes some little time in being rubbed asunder between the edges of the shells.


NEW ZEALAND—Continued.


We will now examine the domestic life of the New Zealander, and begin at the beginning, i. e. with his birth.

As is mostly the case in those nations which do not lead the artificial life of civilization, there is very little trouble or ceremony about the introduction of a new member of society. The mother does not trouble herself about medical attendants or nurses, but simply goes off into some retired place near a stream, and seldom takes with her even a companion of her own sex. When the baby is born, the mother bathes her child and then herself in the stream, ties the infant on her back, and in a short time resumes the business in which she was engaged. Until the child is named the mother is sacred, or “tapu,” and may not be touched by any one.

The New Zealand women are too often guilty of the crime of infanticide, as indeed might be imagined to be the case in a land where human life is held at so cheap a rate. Various causes combine to produce this result. If, for example, the child is deformed or seems sickly, it is sacrificed as an act of mercy toward itself, the Maories thinking that it is better for the scarcely conscious child to be destroyed at once than to die slowly under disease, or to live a despised life as a cripple.

Revenge, the leading characteristic of the Maori mind, has caused the death of many an infant, the mother being jealous of her husband, or being separated from him longer than she thinks to be necessary. Even a sudden quarrel will sometimes cause the woman, maddened by anger, to destroy her child in the hope of avenging herself upon her husband. Slave women often systematically destroy their children, from a desire to save them from the life of servitude to which they are born. In many cases the life of the child is sacrificed through superstitious terror.

A very curious example of such a case is given by Dr. Dieffenbach. A recently married wife of a young chief was sitting near a pah or village, on the fence of which an old priestess had hung her blanket. As is generally the case with New Zealand garments, the blanket was infested with vermin. The young woman saw one of these loathsome insects crawling on the blanket, caught it, and, according to the custom of the country, ate it. The old woman to whom the garment belonged flew into a violent passion, poured a volley of curses on the girl for meddling with the sacred garment of a priestess, and finished by prophesying that the delinquent would kill and eat the child which she was expecting.

The spirit of revenge was strong in the old hag, who renewed her imprecations whenever she met the young woman, and succeeded in terrifying her to such a degree that she was almost driven mad. Immediately after the child was born the old woman found out her victim, and renewed her threats, until the young mother’s mind was so completely unhinged, that she hastily dug a hole, threw her child into it, and buried it alive. She was, however, filled with remorse for the crime that she had[817] committed; and before very long both she and her husband had emancipated themselves from their superstitious thraldom, and had become converts to Christianity.

It is seldom, however, that a mother kills her child after it has lived a day; and, as a general rule, if an infant survives its birth but for a few hours, its life may be considered as safe from violence. Both parents seem equally fond of infants, the father nursing them quite as tenderly as the mother, lulling it to sleep by simple songs, and wrapping its little naked body in the folds of his mat.

Soon after its birth the child is named, either by its parents or other relatives, the name always having some definite signification, and mostly alluding to some supposed quality, or to some accidental circumstance which may have happened at the time of birth. Much ingenuity is shown in the invention of these names, and it is very seldom found that the son is named after his father or other relative. All the names are harmonious in sound, and end with a vowel; and even in the European names that are given by the missionaries at baptism the terminal syllable is always changed into a vowel, in order to suit the native ideas of euphony.

When the child is about two or three months old, a ceremony is performed which is remarkable for its resemblance to Christian baptism. The origin of the ceremony is not known, and even the signification of the words which are employed is very obscure. Very few persons are present at the ceremony, which is carried on with much mystery, and is performed by the priest.

The three principal parts of the rite are that the child should be laid on a mat, that it should be sprinkled with water by the priest, and that certain words should be used. As far as has been ascertained, the mode of conducting the ceremony is as follows: The women and girls bring the child and lay it on a mat, while the priest stands by with a green branch dipped in a calabash of water. A sort of incantation is then said, after which the priest sprinkles the child with water. The incantation differs according to the sex of the child, but the sense of it is very obscure. Indeed, even the natives cannot explain the meaning of the greater part of the incantation: so that in all probability it consists of obsolete words, the sounds of which have been retained, while their sense has been lost.

As far as can be ascertained, the incantation consists of a sort of dialogue between the priest and the women who lay the child on the mat. The following lines are given by Dieffenbach, as the translation of the beginning of the incantation said over female children. He does not, however, guarantee its entire accuracy, and remarks that the true sense of several of the words is very doubtful. The translation runs as follows:

Girls. “We wish this child to be immersed.”—Priest. “Let it be sprinkled.”

Girls. “We wish the child to live to womanhood.”—Priest. “Dance for Atua.”

Girls. “Me ta nganahau.” (These words are unintelligible.)—Priest. “It is sprinkled in the waters of Atua.”

Girls. “The mat is spread.”—Priest. “Dance in a circle.”

“Thread the dance.”

The reader must here be told that the word “Atua” signifies a god, and that the word which is translated as “womanhood” is a term that signifies the tattooing of the lips, which is performed when girls are admitted into the ranks of women. The above sentences form only the commencement of the incantation, the remainder of which is wholly unintelligible.

When the child is old enough to undertake a journey to the priest’s house, another ceremony takes place, in which the baby name that the parents have given to the infant is exchanged for another. According to Mr. Taylor’s interesting account, when the child has arrived at the house of the priest, the latter plants a sapling as a sign of vigorous life, and holds a wooden idol to the ear of the child, while he enumerates a long string of names which had belonged to its ancestors. As soon as the child sneezes, the priest stops, the name which he last uttered being that which is assumed by the child. We are left to infer that some artificial means must be used to produce sneezing, as otherwise the task of the priest would be rather a tedious one.

After the requisite sign has been given, and the child has signified its assent to the name, the priest delivers a metrical address, differing according to the sex. Boys are told to clear the land and be strong to work; to be bold and courageous in battle, and comport themselves like men. Girls are enjoined to “seek food for themselves with panting of breath,” to weave garments, and to perform the other duties which belong to their sex.

Even this second name is not retained through life, but may be changed in after life in consequence of any feat in war, or of any important circumstance. Such names, like the titles of the peerage among ourselves, supersede the original name in such a manner that the same person may be known by several totally distinct names at different periods of his life.

There seems to be no definite ceremony by which the young New Zealand lad is admitted into the ranks of men. The tattoo is certainly a sign that his manhood is acknowledged; but this is a long process, extending over several years, and cannot be considered as an initiatory rite like those which are performed by the Australians.


When a young man finds himself able to maintain a wife, he thinks about getting married, and sets about it very deliberately. Usually there is a long courtship, and, as a general fact, when a young man fixes his affections on a girl, he is sure to marry her in the end, however much she or her friends may object to the match. He thinks his honor involved in success, and it is but seldom that he fails.

Sometimes a girl is sought by two men of tolerably equal pretensions; and when this is the case, they are told by the father to settle the matter by a pulling match. This is a very simple process, each suitor taking one of the girl’s arms, and trying to drag her away to his own house. This is a very exciting business for the rivals as well as for the friends and spectators, and indeed to every one except the girl herself, who is always much injured by the contest, her arms being sometimes dislocated, and always so much strained as to be useless for some time.

In former times the struggle for a wife assumed a more formidable aspect, and several modern travellers have related instances where the result has been a tragic one. If a young man has asked for a girl and been refused, his only plan is to take her by force. For this purpose he assembles his male friends, and makes up his mind to carry the lady off forcibly if he cannot obtain her peacefully. Her friends in the meantime know well what to expect, and in their turn assemble to protect her. A fierce fight then ensues, clubs, and even more dangerous weapons being freely used; and in more than one case the intended bride has been killed by one of the losing side. Sometimes, though not very often, a girl is betrothed when she is quite a child. In that case she is as strictly sacred as if she were actually a married woman, and the extreme laxity of morals which has been mentioned cannot be imputed to such betrothed maidens. Should one of them err, she is liable to the same penalties as if she were actually married.

The New Zealanders seldom have more than one wife. Examples are known where a chief has possessed two and even more wives; but, as a general rule, a man has but one wife. Among the Maories the wife has very much more acknowledged influence than is usually the case among uncivilized people, and the wife always expects to be consulted by her husband in every important undertaking. Marriage usually takes place about the age of seventeen or eighteen, sometimes at an earlier age in the case of the woman and a later in the case of the man.

As to the amusements of the New Zealanders, they are tolerably varied, and are far superior to the mere succession of singing and dancing, in which are summed up the amusements of many uncivilized races. Songs and dances form part of the amusements of this people, but only a part, and they are supplemented by many others.

One of the most curious was seen by Mr. Angas in the interior of the country, but never on the coasts. A tall and stout pole, generally the trunk of a pine, is firmly set in the ground on the top of a steep bank, and from the upper part of the pole are suspended a number of ropes made of phormium fibre. The game consists in seizing one of the ropes, running down the bank, and swinging as far as possible into the air. Sometimes they even run round and round the pole as if they were exercising on the giant stride; but as they have not learned to make a revolving top to the pole or swivels for the ropes, they cannot keep up this amusement for any long time.

They have a game which is very similar to our draughts, and is played on a checkered board with pebbles or similar objects as men. Indeed, the game bears so close a resemblance to draughts, that it may probably be a mere variation of that game, which some New Zealander has learned from an European, and imported into his country.

There is also a game which much resembles the almost universal “morro,” and which consists in opening and closing the hand and bending the elbow, performing both actions very sharply, and accompanying them with a sort of doggrel recitation, which has to be said in one breath.

The children have many games which are very similar to those in use among ourselves. They spin tops, for example, and fly kites, the latter toy being cleverly made of the flat leaves of a kind of sedge. It is triangular in form, and the cord is made of the universal flax fibre. Kite-flying is always accompanied by a song; and when the kites are seen flying near a village, they are a sign that the village is at peace, and may be approached with safety.

Perhaps the chief amusement of the children is the game called Maui, which is in fact a sort of “cat’s-cradle.” The Maori children, however, are wonderful proficients at the game, and would look with contempt on the few and simple forms which English children produce. Instead of limiting themselves to the “cradle,” the “pound of candles,” the “net,” and the “purse,” the New Zealander produces figures of houses, canoes, men and women, and various other patterns. They say that this game was left to them as an inheritance by Maui, the Adam of New Zealand, and it appears to be intimately connected with their early traditions.

The elder children amuse themselves with spear-throwing, making their mimic weapons of fern-stems bound at the end. These they throw with great dexterity, and emulate each other in aiming at a small target.


(See page 812.)

(See page 821.)

(See page 850.)


Swimming is one of the favorite amusements of the New Zealanders, who can swim almost as soon as they can walk, and never have an idea that the water is an unfriendly element. Both sexes swim alike well, and in the same manner, i. e. after the fashion which we call “swimming like a dog,” paddling the water with each arm alternately. Being constantly in the water, they can keep up the exertion for a long time, and in their bathing parties sport about as if they were amphibious beings. They dive as well as they swim, and the women spend much of their time in diving for crayfish.

In those parts of the country where hot springs are found the natives are fond of bathing in the heated water. Mr. Angas makes the following observations on this custom:—“Upon the beach of the lake, near Te Rapa, there is a charming natural hot bath, in which the natives, especially the young folks, luxuriate daily. Sunset is the favorite time for bathing, and I have frequently seen of an evening at least twenty persons squatting together in the water, with only their heads above the surface.

“Boiling springs burst out of the ground, close to a large circular basin in the volcanic rock, which, by the assistance of a little art, had been rendered a capacious bath. The boiling stream is conducted into this reservoir gradually, and the temperature of the water is kept up or decreased by stopping out the boiling stream with stones, through which it trickles slowly, whilst the main body runs steaming into the lake.

“The medicinal properties of these hot mineral springs preserve the natives in a healthy state, and render their skins beautifully smooth and clear. Indeed, some of the finest people in the island are to be observed about Taupo, and the beauty and symmetry of the limbs of many of the youth would render them admirable studies for the sculptor.”

Perhaps the oddest amusement with which the New Zealanders have ever recreated themselves is one that only occurred some sixty years ago, and is not likely to be reproduced. About that date Captain King took away two New Zealanders to Norfolk Island for the purpose of teaching the settlers the art of flax-dressing. When he came back to restore them to their homes, he planted a quantity of maize, which was then new in the country, and presented the natives with three pigs. Most of them had never seen any animal larger than a cat, and the others, who had a vague recollection of seeing horses on board Captain Cook’s vessel, naturally mistook them for those animals. Thinking them to be horses, they treated them as horses, and speedily rode two of them to death. The third did not come to a better end, for it strayed into a burial-ground, and was killed by the indignant natives.

Nowadays the Maories understand pigs far too well to ride them. Pigs have become quite an institution in New Zealand. Every village is plentifully populated with pigs, and, as may be seen in the illustration of a village which will be given on a future page, one of the commonest objects is a sow with a litter of pigs.

Little pigs may be seen tottering about the houses, and the natives, especially the women, pet pigs exactly as European women pet dogs and cats. They carry them in their arms, fondle and pet them; and nothing is more common than to see a young girl unfold her mantle and discover a pig nestling under its folds. Such a girl, for example, as the one who is represented in the illustration No. 2, on the preceding page, would be very likely indeed to have a pig in her arms under the shelter of her mantle.

The figure in question is the portrait of the daughter of a chief. Her name is Tienga, and she is the daughter of a very powerful and celebrated chief. Her costume is, like her character, an odd mixture of civilization and nature. Her mantle is the native flax mat, under which she may probably wear a muslin, or even silken, garment, articles of dress of which the young lady in question was, when her portrait was taken, exceedingly proud. On her head she wears a common straw hat, purchased from the trader at some five hundred per cent. or so above its value, and round it she has twisted a bunch of a species of clematis, which grows with great luxuriance in the forests.

It is a curious study to note the different characteristics of the human mind. An Oriental would turn with unspeakable disgust from the very touch of a pig, and is scarcely less fastidious concerning the dog. Yet the inhabitants of that wonderful group of islands which stretches from Asia to America have a wonderful affinity for both these animals, and especially for pigs, displaying, as we shall find on a future page, their affection in a manner that seems to our minds extremely ludicrous.

Pigs are now fast becoming acclimatized to the country, just like the mustang horses of America. When a tribe has suffered extinction, as too often happens in the sanguinary and ferocious wars in which the people engage, the pigs escape as well as they can; and those that evade the enemy have to shift for themselves, and soon resume all the habits of the wild swine from which they were originally descended. Those which now inhabit the country are easily to be distinguished from their immediate ancestors, having short heads and legs and round compact bodies.

The native name for the pig is “poaka,” a word which some have thought to be derived from the English word “pork.” Dr. Dieffenbach, however, differs from this theory, and thinks that the native word, although of European origin, is derived from a source common both to England and New Zealand.[822] He thinks that the New Zealanders had some knowledge of the pig previous to its introduction by England, and that they derived their knowledge from Spanish voyagers. He is strengthened in this opinion by the fact that the name for dog, “perro,” is likewise Spanish.

Pigs and dogs are not the only pets, the natives being in the habit of catching the kaka parrot, which has already been mentioned, and keeping it tame about their houses. They make a very effective and picturesque perch for the bird, covering it with a sloping roof as a protection against the sun, and securing it to the perch by a string round its leg. Mr. Angas mentions that he has brought these birds to England, but that the climate did not agree with them, and they all died.

Many of the New Zealanders, especially the women, are dexterous ball-players, throwing four balls in various ways so as always to keep them in the air. Some few of them are so skilful that they surpass our best jugglers, playing with five balls at a time, and throwing them over the head, round the neck, and in various other ingenious modes of increasing the difficulty of the performance.

Most of their sports are accompanied with songs, which, indeed, seem to be suited to all phases of a New Zealander’s life. In paddling canoes, for example, the best songster takes his stand in the head of a vessel and begins a song, the chorus of which is taken up by the crew, who paddle in exact time to the melody.

Respecting the general character of these songs Dieffenbach writes as follows: “Some songs are lyric, and are sung to a low, plaintive, uniform, but not at all disagreeable tune.... E’ Waiata is a song of a joyful nature; E’ Haka one accompanied by gestures of mimicry; E’ Karakia is a prayer or an incantation used on certain occasions. In saying this prayer there is generally no modulation of the voice, but syllables are lengthened and shortened, and it produces the same effect as reading the Talmud in synagogues. Most of these songs live in the memory of all, but with numerous variations. Certain Karakia, or invocations, however, are less generally known, and a stranger obtains them with difficulty, as they are only handed down among the tohunga, or priests, from father to son.

“To adapt words to a certain tune, and thus to commemorate a passing event, is common in New Zealand, and has been the beginning of all national poetry. Many of these children of the moment have a long existence, and are transmitted through several generations; but their allusions become unintelligible, and foreign names, having undergone a thorough change, cannot be recognized.”

All these songs are accompanied by gesticulations more or less violent and in that which is known as E’ Haka the bodily exertion is extreme. The singers sit down in a circle, throw off their upper mats, and sing in concert, accompanying the song with the wildest imaginable gestures, squinting and turning up their eyes so as to show nothing but the whites.

Of musical instruments they have but very vague and faint ideas. Even the drum, which is perhaps the instrument that has the widest range through the world, is unknown to the native New Zealander. Drums resound in all the islands of the Pacific, but the New Zealander never indulges himself in a drumming. The sole really musical instrument which he possesses is a sort of fife made out of human bone. Generally, the flute is formed from the thigh-bone of a slain enemy; and when this is the case, the Maori warrior prizes the instrument inordinately, and carries it suspended to the tiki which he wears slung on his breast.

There are certainly two noise-producing instruments, which have no right to be honored with the title of musical instruments. These are the war bell and the war trumpet.

The former is called the war bell in default of a better word. It consists of a block of hard wood about six feet long and two thick, with a deep groove in the centre. This “bell” is suspended horizontally by cords, and struck by a man who squats on a scaffold under it. With a stick made of heavy wood he delivers slow and regular strokes in the groove, the effect being to produce a most melancholy sound, dully booming in the stillness of the night. The war bell is never sounded by day, the object being to tell the people inside the pah, or village, that the sentinel is awake, and to tell any approaching enemy that it would be useless for him to attempt an attack by surprise. Its native name is Pahu.

The war trumpet is called Putara-putara. It is a most unwieldly instrument, at least seven feet in length. It is hollowed out of a suitably-shaped piece of hard wood, and an expanding mouth is given to it by means of several pieces of wood lashed together with flaxen fibre, and fitted to each other like the staves of a cask. Toward the mouth-piece it is covered with the grotesque carvings of which the New Zealanders are so fond. It is only used on occasions of alarm, when it is laid over the fence of the pah, and sounded by a strong-lunged native. The note which the trumpet produces is a loud roaring sound, which, as the natives aver, can be heard, on a calm night, the distance of several miles. In fact, the sound appears to be very much the same as that which is produced by the celebrated Blowing Stone of Wiltshire.

In some places a smaller trumpet is used in time of war. The body of this trumpet is always made of a large shell, generally that of a triton, and the mode of blowing it[823] differs according to the locality. The simplest kind of shell-trumpet is that which is in use throughout the whole of the Pacific Islands. It is made by taking a large empty shell, and boring a round hole on one side near the point. The shell is blown like a flute, being placed horizontally to the lips, and the air directed across the aperture. In fact, it exactly resembles in principle the horn and ivory trumpets of Africa, which are shown on a preceding page.

There is, however, in the British Museum a much more elaborate form of trumpet, which is blown with a mouth-piece. In this case the point of the shell has been removed and a wooden mouth-piece substituted for it, so that it is blown at the end, like trumpets in our own country.

The dances of the New Zealander are almost entirely connected with war and will therefore be mentioned when we come to treat of that subject.

The mode of salutation at parting and meeting is very curious, and to an European sufficiently ludicrous. When two persons meet who have not seen each other for some time, it is considered a necessary point of etiquette to go through the ceremony called tangi. The “g,” by the way, is pronounced hard, as in the word “begin.” They envelope themselves in their mats, covering even their faces, except one eye, squat on the ground opposite each other, and begin to weep copiously. They seem to have tears at command, and they never fail to go through the whole of the ceremony as often as etiquette demands it. Having finished their cry, they approach each other, press their noses together for some time, uttering the while, a series of short grunts! Etiquette is now satisfied and both parties become very cheerful and lively, chatting and laughing as if there had never been such a thing as a tear in existence.

Mr. Angas tells a ludicrous story of a tangi which he once witnessed. A woman was paddling a very small canoe, and fell in with the exploring party, who were in two large canoes. Seeing some friends on board of the large canoes, she ran her little vessel between them, and began a vigorous tangi.

Time being pressing, she could not stop to wrap herself up in the orthodox style, but burst into a flood of tears in the most approved fashion, and paddled and howled with equal vigor. Still crying, she put on board a basket of potatoes as a present, and received in return a fig of tobacco. The tangi being by this time complete, the old woman burst into a loud laugh, had a lively talk with her friends, turned her little canoe round, and paddled briskly out of sight.

In one instance this force of habit was rather ludicrously exemplified. The writer shall tell his own story.

“At Hopeton we met with a sister of Karake, or Clark, the chief of Waikato Heads, whose portrait I had painted when at Auckland. This portrait I showed to the old woman, who had not seen her brother for some time, when, to my surprise and amusement, she at once commenced a most affectionate tangi before the sketch; waving her hands in the usual manner, and uttering successively low whining sounds expressive of her joy.

“After she had, as I imagined, satisfied herself with seeing the representation of her brother, I was about to replace the sketch in my portfolio, when she begged of Forsaith that she might be permitted to tangi over it in good earnest, saying, ‘It was her brother—her brother; and she must TANGI till the tears come.’ And sure enough, presently the tears did come, and the old woman wept and moaned, and waved her hands before the picture, with as much apparent feeling as if her brother himself had thus suddenly appeared to her. I could not prevail upon the old creature to desist, and was at length compelled to leave the portrait in Forsaith’s care, whilst I was employed in sketching elsewhere. In future I shall be more cautious how I show my sketches to the old women, finding that they are liable to produce such melancholy results.”

Mr. A. Christie, to whom I am indebted for much information about the country, told me an anecdote of a tangi performed in England by a party of Maories who had visited this country. They were about to bid farewell to one of their friends, and visited his house for that purpose, desiring to be allowed to perform the tangi.

Knowing their customs, their host took them into an empty room, previously cautioning his family not to be surprised at the ceremony. The whole party then sat down on the floor, and raised a most dismal howl, wailing, waving their hands, shedding floods of tears, and, in fact, enjoying themselves in their own queer way. The tangi being over, they all became lively and chatty, and finally took leave after the undemonstrative English fashion.

To a stranger the performance of the tangi is very amusing for the first few times of witnessing it; but he soon becomes tired of it, and at last looks upon it as an unmitigated nuisance, wasting time, and subjecting him to a series of doleful howls from which he has no mode of escape. Mr. Angas describes a tangi to which he was subjected.

“At sunset we reached a small fortified port, on the summit of a hill overlooking the lake. There were but few natives residing in it, to whom the sight of a pakeha (white man) was indeed astonishing; and, after the salutation of welcome, they commenced a tangi at my guides and myself.

“The man who introduced us uttered a[824] faint sound in his throat, like that of a person crying at a distance, and continued to look mournfully on the ground. The welcome of the men was voluble and loud: they howled dismally, and their tears fell fast for some time.

“Another female soon arrived, who, squatting on the ground, commenced a tangi with her friends, so loud and doleful—now muttering and anon howling like a hyena—that it made me feel quite dismal. There she sat, yelling horribly, to my great annoyance, but Maori etiquette compelled me to look grave and not to disturb her. There seemed to be no end to this woman’s wailings of welcome. The night was cold, and she still continued to sit by the fire prolonging her lugubrious and discordant strains. Sometimes she would pitch a higher key, going upward with a scream, shaking her voice, and muttering between every howl; then it would be a squall with variations, like ‘housetop cats on moonlight nights.’

“Then blowing her nose with her fingers, she made some remarks to the woman next her, and recommenced howling in the most systematic way. Once again she became furious; then, during an interval, she spoke about the pakeha, joined in a hearty laugh with all the rest, and at last, after one long continued howl, all was silent, to my great relief.”

The manner in which the natives can produce such torrents of tears is really marvellous; and they exhibit such apparent agony of grief, acting the part to such perfection, that for some time a stranger can hardly believe that the profusely weeping natives are simply acting a conventional part.

In the illustration No. 2, on the 809th page, is shown the sort of scene which takes place at a pah when some of the inhabitants return after a long absence—a scene which would be very pathetic did it not trench upon the ludicrous.

When a party of strangers arrive at a pah, the preliminary part of the tangi, i. e. the sitting down and weeping, is omitted, another ceremony being substituted for it. The visitors are introduced into the interior of the pah, where a large space has been kept clear. The principal chief of the village then advances, clad as if for war, i. e. wearing nothing but his moko and plenty of scarlet paint, and bearing a spear in his hand. He brandishes and aims the spear as if he meant to pierce the chief of the opposite party, and then throws it toward, but not at, the stranger. The visitors then squat silently on the ground, according to Maori etiquette, and presently each stranger is faced by one of the receiving tribe, who goes through the ceremony of ongi, or pressing noses, which is the last part of the tangi. This lasts for some time, and, when it is completed, the provisions are brought out and a great feasting ensues.

As to the general character of the natives, it presents a curious mixture of wildness and ferocity, affection and fickleness, benevolence and vengefulness, hospitality and covetousness. The leading characteristic of the Maori mind is self-esteem, which sometimes takes the form of a lofty and even chivalrous pride, and at other times degenerates into childish vanity. It is this feeling which leads a New Zealander to kill himself rather than live to suffer disgrace, and which causes him to behave with the politeness for which the well-bred New Zealander is so conspicuous. Degenerating into vanity, it is easily wounded; and hence the accidentally hurt feelings of a Maori, added to the vengefulness which forms so large a portion of his nature, have occasioned long and desolating wars, in which whole tribes have been extinguished.

The temper of the Maories is, as is often the case with uncultivated natures, quick, tetchy, and, though pleasing enough as a general rule, is apt to change suddenly without the least provocation; a lively, agreeable person becoming suddenly dull, sullen, and ill-tempered. This fickleness of demeanor is very troublesome to Europeans, and, indeed, is sometimes assumed by the natives, for the purpose of seeing how much their white companion will endure. When they find that he meets them with firmness, they lay aside their unpleasant manner, and become quite gay and sociable.

Often, however, an European hurts their feelings quite unintentionally, through sheer ignorance of the minute code of etiquette which they observe. If, for example two Europeans meet and wish to discuss a subject, they stand still and have their talk, or perhaps they walk backward and forward. Two New Zealanders, on the contrary, would always sit down, as it is thought a mark of inattention to stand while addressed by another. Again, when a New Zealander enters a house, he makes his salutation and then squats down in silence for some time, the omission of this ceremony being looked upon as great a mark of ill-breeding as to go into a drawing-room with the hat on is considered among ourselves.

One curious trait of the Maori character is the inability to keep a secret. This curious disposition sometimes subjects the natives to very unpleasant consequences. Those, for example, who have adopted the laws of the white man, have discovered that there are many delinquencies which can be done with impunity, provided that they are committed in secret. But according to Dieffenbach, “with the art of keeping a secret the New Zealander is little acquainted. Although he possesses in many other respects great self-control, the secret must come out, even if his death should be the immediate consequence.”


They have a strong and tenacious memory, easily acquiring knowledge, and retaining it with wonderful accuracy. The strength of their memory is well exemplified by the native converts to Christianity, who will repeat long passages of the Bible and many hymns with absolute exactness.

One of the most remarkable examples of this characteristic is afforded by an old chief named Horomana Marahau, who is popularly known as Blind Solomon. He has led a most exciting and varied life, hawing been engaged in war ever since he was a boy, and once actually taken prisoner by the ferocious chief E’ Hongi, or Shongi, as he is generally called. He has captured many a pah, and assisted in eating many a slain enemy, and had he not escaped when he himself was made prisoner, he would have shared the same fate.

His last exploit was an attack on Poverty Bay where he and his followers took the pah, and killed and afterward ate six hundred of the enemy. Shortly after this feat he became blind, at Otawaho, where he first met with the missionary. In process of time he became a convert, and afterward labored as a teacher, displaying the same earnest energy which distinguished his military career, and, though an old man, undertaking long and toilsome journeys for the purpose of instructing his fellow-countrymen. Mr. Angas once heard him deliver a funeral oration over the body of a child, which he describes as one of the finest and most impassioned bursts of eloquence he ever heard.

Horomana was peculiarly suited for the office of instructor in consequence of his exceptionally retentive memory. He knows the whole of the Church Service by heart, together with many hymns and long passages of the Bible, and when he was examined in the Catechism, it was found that he knew every word correctly. This strength of memory, by the way, useful as it is when rightly employed, is sometimes abused by becoming an instrument of revenge, a Maori never forgetting an insult, whether real or imaginary, nor the face of the person by whom he was insulted.

The curiosity of the people is insatiable, and they always want to hear all about everything they see. This spirit of curiosity has naturally led them to take the greatest interest in the various arts and sciences possessed by the white man, and in order to gratify it they will often hire themselves as sailors in European ships. Accustomed to the water all their lives, and being admirable canoe men, they make excellent sailors, and soon learn to manage boats after the European fashion, which differs essentially from their own. Some of them penetrate into the higher mysteries of navigation, and in 1813 a New Zealander was captain of a whaler.

They take quite as much interest in the familiar objects of their own country as in those which are brought to them by foreigners. They have names for all their animal, vegetable, and even mineral productions, pointing out and remarking upon any peculiarities which may be found in them.


NEW ZEALAND—Continued.


The New Zealanders are the most hospitable and generous of people; a stranger, whether native or European, is welcomed into the villages, is furnished with shelter, and provided at once with food. Should the visitor be a relative, or even an intimate friend, they hold all their property in common, and will divide with him everything that they possess. Even if a Maori has earned by long labor some article of property which he was very anxious to possess, he will give it to a relation or friend who meets him after a long separation.

This generosity of disposition has unfortunately been much checked by contact with the white man, and those natives who have much to do with the white settlers have lost much of their politeness as well as their hospitality. Instead of welcoming the traveller, housing him in their best hut, providing him with their choicest food, and tending him as if he were a near relation, they have become covetous and suspicious, and instead of offering aid gratuitously will sometimes refuse it altogether, and at the best demand a high rate of payment for their assistance.

The native converts to Christianity have deteriorated greatly in this respect through the misjudged zeal of the missionaries, who have taught their pupils to refuse food and shelter to, or to perform any kind of work for, a traveller who happens to arrive at their houses on a Sunday—a circumstance which must continually occur in a country where the travellers are entirely dependent on the natives. Dr. Dieffenbach, who always speaks in the highest terms of the zeal and self-denial of the missionaries, writes as follows on this subject: “Highly as I appreciate the merits of the missionaries, I must say that they have omitted to teach their converts some most important social, and therefore moral, duties, which they will only acquire by a more intimate intercourse with civilized Europeans.

“In their native state they are as laborious as their wants require; but, easily satisfying those, and incapable even by their utmost exertions to compete with the lowest of Europeans, they get lazy and indolent, prefer begging to working, and pass a great part of their time in showing their acquired fineries and in contemplating the restless doings of the colonist. As servants they are very independent, and Europeans will do well, if they want any native helpers, to treat them with attention, and rather as belonging to the family than as servants. They have this feeling of independence very strongly, and it is very creditable to them.

“There is every reason to believe that in a short time the character of the New Zealanders will be entirely changed, and any one who wishes to see what they were formerly must study them in the interior,[827] where they are still little influenced by intercourse with us, which I must repeat, has been little advantageous to them.”

The same writer relates an amusing anecdote respecting the ancient custom of hospitality. He had been travelling for some distance with scarcely any provisions, and came upon a tribe which churlishly refused hospitality to the party, and would not even furnish a guide to show them their way. One of them condescended to sell a small basket of potatoes in exchange for some needles, but nothing more could be obtained, and, after spending a day in vain, the party had to pack up and resume their march.

After they had left the pah, they came suddenly across a family of pigs. One of the native attendants immediately killed a large sow, and in a few minutes the animal was cut up and the pieces distributed. Not liking to take food without paying for it, Dr. Dieffenbach hung the offal of the pig on a bush, together with an old pair of trousers and an iron kettle. His attendants, however, went back and took them away, saying that it was the custom of the country that a stranger should be supplied with food, and that, if it were not given to him, he had a right to take it when, where, and how he could. They were very much amused at the whole proceeding, and made many jokes on the disappointment of the churlish people who refused to sell a pig at a good price, and then found that it had been taken for nothing.

Hospitality being such a universal and imperative characteristic of the aboriginal Maori, it may be imagined that when a chief gives a feast he does so with a liberal hand. Indeed, some of these banquets are on so enormous a scale, that a whole district is ransacked to furnish sufficient provisions, and the inhabitants have in consequence to live in a state of semi-starvation for many months. Mr. Angas mentions that, when he visited the celebrated chief Te Whero-Whero, he saw more than a thousand men planting sweet potatoes in order to furnish provisions for a feast that the chief intended to give to all the Waikato tribes in the following spring.

These feasts are continued as long as any food is left, and a very liberal chief will sometimes get together so enormous a supply of provisions that the banquet lasts for several weeks. Songs and dances, especially the war dance, are performed at intervals throughout the time of feasting.

The first illustration on the 831st page gives a good idea of the preliminaries which are observed before the celebration of an ordinary feast, such as would be given by a well-to-do Rangatira. A sort of scaffold is erected, on the bars of which are hung large supplies of fish, mostly dried shark, together with pieces of pork, and similar luxuries. The upper part of the scaffold is formed into a flat stage, on which are placed large baskets full of sweet potatoes and common potatoes. The guests range themselves in a circle round the scaffold, and the chief who gives the feast makes a speech to them, brandishing his staff of office, running up and down the open space, leaping in the air, and working himself up by gestures to an extraordinary pitch of excitement.

One of my friends was distinguished by having a feast given in his honor, and described the ceremony in a very amusing manner. The generous founder of the feast had built a sort of wall, the contents of which were potatoes, sweet potatoes, pigs, and fish. By way of ornament, he had fixed a number of sticks into the wall, like so many flagstaffs, and to the top of each he had fastened a living eel by way of a flag or streamer, its contortions giving, according to his ideas, a spirit to the whole proceedings.

He then marched quickly backward and forward between the wall of provisions and his guests, who were all seated on the ground, and as he marched uttered a few broken sentences. By degrees his walk became quicker and quicker, and changed into a run, diversified with much leaping into the air, brandishing of imaginary weapons, and utterance of loud yells. At last he worked himself up into a pitch of almost savage fury, and then suddenly squatted down silently, and made way for another orator.

The waste which takes place at such a feast, which is called in the native language hui, is necessarily very great. In one such party mentioned by Mr. Angas, the donor arranged the provisions and presents for his guests in the form of a wall, which was five feet high, as many wide, more than a mile in length, and supplied for many days thousands of natives who came to the feast from very great distances. The great chiefs take great pleasure in rivalling each other in their expenditure, and it was for the purpose of building a still larger food wall that Te Whero-Whero was so busily setting his men to work in planting the kumeras, or sweet potatoes.

Considerable variety is shown in the manner of presenting the food to the guests. Generally it is intended to be eaten on the spot, but sometimes it is meant to be given away to the people, to be consumed when and where they like. In such a case either the scaffold or the wall is used. The scaffold is sometimes fifty or sixty feet high, and divided into a number of stories, each of which is loaded with food. If the wall be employed, it is separated into a number of divisions. In either case, when the guests are seated, a chief who acts as the master of the ceremonies marches about and makes a[828] speech, after the fashion of his country; and, after having delivered his oration, he points out to each tribe the portion which is intended for it. The chief man of each tribe takes possession of the gift, and afterward subdivides it among his followers.

It is rather remarkable that the baskets in which the provisions are served are made for the express purpose, and, having fulfilled their office, are thrown aside and never used again. Should a chief take one of these baskets and begin to eat from it, not only the basket but any food which he may leave in it is thrown away, no chief ever eating after any one, or allowing any one to eat after him.

So when a chief takes his basket of food, he withdraws himself from the rest of the company and consumes his food, so that no one shall be incommoded by his rank. Ordinary people, even the Rangatiras, are not nearly so fastidious, one basket of food sufficing several of them, three or four being the usual number for a basket. Each of these baskets contains a complete meal, and is usually supplied with plenty of potatoes and kumeras, some fish, and a piece of pork. The meat is passed from one to another, each taking a bite, or tearing off a portion; and when they have finished, they wipe their hands on the backs of the dogs which are sure to thrust themselves among the revellers.

These feasts naturally lead us to the various kinds of food used by the New Zealanders, and their modes of procuring and preparing them.

We will begin with the plant which is the very staff of life to the New Zealander, namely, the kumera, or sweet potato, as it is popularly though erroneously called. This plant is largely cultivated by the Maories, who are very careful in selecting a proper soil for it. The best ground for the kumera is that which has been thickly wooded, and is cleared for the purpose. The natives take but little trouble about preparing the land, merely cutting down the trees and burning the brushwood, but never attempting to root up the stumps.

The ground is torn up rather than dug by a simple instrument, which is nothing more than a sharpened pole with a cross-piece fastened to it, on which the foot can rest. As the New Zealanders do not wear shoes, they cannot use an iron spade as we do; and it may easily be imagined that the unprotected foot of the Maori would suffer terribly in performing a task which, even among our stoutly-shod laborers, forces them to wear a plate of iron on the sole of the boot.

The kaheru, as this tool is called, is more effective than an iron spade could be, in consequence of the peculiar character of the soil, which is thickly interlaced with the roots of ferns, brushwood, and shrubs. A few of these curious spades are tipped with a piece of green jade, and are then highly valued by the natives. Such a tool is called E Toki. The Maories have also a kind of hoe which is very useful in some soils.

The kumeras are planted in regular rows, and the greatest care is taken to keep the field clear of weeds. The dark agriculturists even remove every caterpillar that is seen upon the plants; and altogether such elaborate care is taken that the best managed field in Europe cannot surpass, and very few even equal, a piece of land cultivated by the New Zealander.

Each family has its own peculiar field, the produce of which is presumed to belong to the family. But a great portion of the labor performed in it may be done by poor men who have no land of their own. In such a case, they acquire, in virtue of their labor, a legal right over the fruits of the land which they have helped to till. Sometimes the head or chief of a tribe, considering himself as the father of the family, institutes a general sale, and distributes the proceeds according to the amount of material or labor which each has contributed.

Before the potatoes are cooked, they are carefully washed in a simple and very effective manner. A woman puts them into a basket with two handles, popularly called a “kit,” wades into a running stream, puts one foot into the basket, takes hold of the handles, and rocks the basket violently backward and forward, while with her foot she continually stirs up and rubs the potatoes. In this manner the earth is washed away from the vegetables, and is carried off by the stream through the interstices of the basket.

At the present day, the kumera, although very highly valued, and used at every important feast, has been rivalled, if not superseded, by the common potato which can be raised with less trouble and cooked more easily. Both the kumera and potato are cooked in a sort of oven, made by heating stones, and much resembling the cooking-place of the Australians. No cooking is allowed to take place in the house, the act of preparing food being looked upon as a desecration of any building. Through ignorance of this curious superstition, Europeans have frequently brought upon themselves the anger of the natives by eating, and even cooking, food within a house which is looked upon as sacred.

In consequence of this notion, the oven is either constructed in the open air, or at best in a special house called Te-kauta, which is made of logs piled loosely upon each other, so as to permit the smoke to escape.

The bud, or “cabbage,” of the nikau-palm, a species of Areca, is highly prized by the Maories, who fell every tree which they think likely to produce a young and tender bud. This vegetable is sometimes eaten raw, and sometimes cooked in the same[829] mode as the potato. Fortunately, the tree is not wasted by being cut down, as its leaves are used for many purposes, such as making temporary sheds when travellers are benighted in the forest, thatching houses, and similar uses. Still, the destruction of this useful and graceful palm is very great, and there is reason to fear that the improvident natives will wholly extirpate it, unless means be taken to preserve it by force of law.

The Maories have one curious plan of preparing food, which seems to have been invented for the purpose of making it as disgusting as possible. They take the kumera, the potato, or the maize, and steep it in fresh water for several weeks, until it is quite putrid. It is then made into cakes, and eaten with the greatest zest. To an European nothing can be more offensive, and the very smell of it, not to mention the flavor, is so utterly disgusting that even a starving man can hardly manage to eat it. The odor is so powerful, so rancid, and so penetrating, that when Europeans have been sitting inside a house and a man has been sitting in the open air eating this putrid bread, they have been forced to send him away from the vicinity of the door. By degrees travellers become more accustomed to it, but at first the effect is inexpressibly disgusting; and when it is cooked, the odor is enough to drive every European out of the village.

In former days the fern-root (Pteris esculenta) was largely eaten by the natives, but the potatoes and maize have so completely superseded it that fern root is very seldom eaten, except on occasions when nothing else can be obtained. When the fern root is cooked, it is cut into pieces about a foot long, and then roasted. After it is sufficiently cooked, it is scraped clean with a shell. The flavor of this root is not prepossessing, having an unpleasant mixture of the earthy and the medicinal about it.

About December another kind of food comes into season. This is the pulpous stem of one of the tree-ferns which are so plentiful in New Zealand (Cyathea medullaris). It requires long cooking, and is generally placed in the oven in the evening, and eaten in the morning.

With regard to the vegetables used in New Zealand, Dr. Dieffenbach has the following remarks. After mentioning the native idea that they were conquerors of New Zealand, and brought with them the dog and the taro plant (Arum esculentum), he proceeds as follows:—“A change took place in their food by the introduction of the sweet potato or kumera (Convolvulus batata)—an introduction which is gratefully remembered and recorded in many of their songs, and has given rise to certain religious observances.

“It may be asked, What was the period when the poor natives received the gift of this wholesome food, and who was their benefactor? On the first point they know nothing; their recollection attaches itself to events, but not to time. The name, however, of the donor lives in their memory. It is E’ Paui, or Ko Paui, the wife of E’ Tiki, who brought the first seeds from the island of Tawai. E’ Tiki was a native of the island of Tawai, which is not that whence, according to tradition, the ancestors of the New Zealanders had come. He came to New Zealand with his wife, whether in less frail vessels than they possess at present, and whether purposely or driven there by accident, tradition is silent.

“He was well received, but soon perceived that food was more scanty here than in the happy isle whence he came. He wished to confer a benefit upon his hosts, but knew not how to do it, until his wife, E’ Paui, offered to go back and fetch kumera, that the people who had received them kindly might not suffer want any longer. This she accomplished, and returned in safety to the shores of New Zealand.

“What a tale of heroism may lie hidden under this simple tradition! Is it a tale connected with the Polynesian race itself? or does it not rather refer to the arrival in New Zealand of the early Spanish navigators, who may have brought this valuable product from the island of Tawai, one of the Sandwich Islands, where the plant is still most extensively cultivated? There can be scarcely any doubt but that New Zealand was visited by some people antecedent to Tasman. Kaipuke is the name of a ship in New Zealand—buque is a Spanish word—Kai means to eat, or live. No other Polynesian nation has this word to designate a ship. Pero (dog) and poaca (pig) are also Spanish. Tawai, whence E’ Paui brought the kumera, is situated to the east of New Zealand according to tradition, and the first discoverers in the great ocean, Alvaro Mendana (1595), Quiros (1608), Lemaire, and others, arrived from the eastward, as they did at Tahiti, according to the tradition of the inhabitants. Tasman did not come to New Zealand until 1642.”

However this may be, the fields of kumera are strictly “tapu,” and any theft from them is severely punished. The women who are engaged in their cultivation are also tapu. They must pray together with the priests for the increase of the harvest. These women are never allowed to join in the cannibal feasts, and it is only after the kumera is dug up that they are released from the strict observance of the tapu. They believe that kumera is the food consumed in the “reinga,” the dwelling-place of the departed spirits; and it is certainly the food most esteemed among the living.

They have several ways of preparing the[830] sweet potato. It is either simply boiled, or dried slowly in a “hangi,” when it has the taste of dates, or ground into powder and baked into cakes. The kumera, like most importations, is rather a delicate vegetable, and while it is young it is sheltered by fences made of brushwood, which are set up on the windward side of the plantation when bad weather is apprehended. Great stacks of dried brushwood are seen in all well-managed kumera gardens, ready to be used when wanted. So great is the veneration of the natives for the kumera, that the storehouses wherein it is kept are usually decorated in a superior style to the dwelling of the person who owns them.

In illustration No. 2, on the next page, several of these elaborate storehouses are shown. They are always supported on posts in such a way that the rats cannot get among the contents, and in some instances they are set at the top of poles fifteen or twenty feet high, which are climbed by means of notches in them. These, however, are almost without ornamentation, whereas those which belong specially to the chief are comparatively low, and in some cases every inch of them is covered with graceful or grotesque patterns, in which the human face always predominates.

Some of these curious storehouses are not rectangular, but cylindrical, the cylinder lying horizontally, with the door at the end, and being covered with a pointed roof. Even the very posts on which the storehouses stand are carved into the rude semblance of the human form.

The Maories also say that the calabash, or hue, is of comparatively late introduction, the seeds having been obtained from a calabash which was carried by a whale and thrown on their shores.

A very curious article of vegetable food is the cowdie gum, which issues from a species of pine. This gum exudes in great quantities from the trees, and is found in large masses adhering to the trunk, and also in detached pieces on the ground. It is a clear, yellowish resin; and it is imported into England, where it is converted into varnish. The flavor of the cowdie gum is powerfully aromatic, and the natives of the northern island chew it just as sailors chew tobacco. They think so much of this gum, that when a stranger comes to visit them, the highest compliment that can be paid to him is for the host to take a partially chewed piece of gum from his mouth, and offer it to the visitor.

The New Zealanders eat great quantities of the pawa, a species of Haliotis, from which they procure the pearly shell with which they are so fond of inlaying their carvings, especially the eyes of the human figures. Shells belonging to this group are well known in the Channel Islands under the name of Ormer shells, and the molluscs are favorite articles of diet. Those which are found in New Zealand are very much larger than the species of the Channel Islands, and the inhabitants are tough and, to European taste, very unpalatable. Great quantities are, however, gathered for food. The putrid potato cakes are generally eaten with the pawa; and the two together form a banquet which an Englishman could hardly prevail on himself to taste, even though he were dying of hunger.

Mussels, too, are largely used for food: and the natives have a way of opening and taking out the inmate which I have often practised. If the bases of two mussels be placed together so that the projections interlock, and a sharp twist be given in opposite directions, the weaker of the two gives way, and the shell is opened. Either shell makes an admirable knife, and scrapes the mollusc out of its home even better than a regular oyster-knife.

Oysters, especially the Cockscomb oyster (Ostræa cristata), are very plentiful in many parts of the coast, and afford an unfailing supply of food to the natives. They are mostly gathered by women, who are in some places able to obtain them by waiting until low water, and at other places are forced to dive at all states of the tide.

Fish form a large portion of New Zealand diet; and one of their favorite dishes is shark’s flesh dried and nearly putrescent. In this state it exhales an odor which is only less horrible than that of the putrid cakes. Mr. Angas mentions one instance where he was greatly inconvenienced by the fondness of the natives for these offensive articles of diet. He was travelling through the country with some native guides, and on arriving at a pah had procured for breakfast some remarkably fine kumeras. The natives immediately set to work at cooking the kumeras, among which they introduced a quantity of semi-putrid shark’s flesh. This was not the worst of the business, for they next wove some of the phormium baskets which have already been described, filled them with the newly-cooked provisions, and carried them until the evening repast, giving the traveller the benefit of the horrible odor for the rest of the day.

Fish are either taken with the net, the weir, or the hook. The net presents nothing remarkable, and is used as are nets all over the world, the natives weighting them at the bottom, floating them at the top, shooting them in moderately shallow water, and then beating the water with poles in order to frighten the fish into the meshes.

Traps, called pukoro-tuna, are made of funnel-shaped baskets, just like the eel-traps of our own country; but the most ingenious device is the weir, which is built quite across the river, and supported by poles for many yards along its side. Often, when the net or the weir is used, the fish taken are considered as belonging to the community in general, and are divided equally by the chief.


(See page 827.)

(See page 830.)


Sometimes a singularly ingenious net is used, which has neither float nor sinkers. This net is about four feet wide, thirty or forty feet in length, and is tied at each end to a stout stick. Ropes are lashed to the stick, and the net is then taken out to sea in a canoe. When they have arrived at a convenient spot, the natives throw the net over the side of the canoe, holding the ropes at either end of the boat, so that the net forms a large semicircle in the water as the boat drifts along. In fact it is managed much as an English fisherman manages his dredge.

In the middle of the canoe is posted a man, who bears in his hand a very long and light pole, having a tuft of feathers tied to one end of it. With the tufted end he beats and stirs the water, thus driving into the meshes of the net all the small fishes within the curve of the net. Those who hold the ropes can tell by the strain upon the cords whether there are enough fish in the net to make a haul advisable, and when that is the case, the net is brought to the side of the canoe, emptied, and again shot.

Spearing fish is sometimes, but not very largely, employed. The hooks employed by the New Zealanders present a curious mixture of simplicity and ingenuity. It really seems strange that any fish should be stupid enough to take such an object in its mouth. There is, however, one which is a singularly admirable contrivance. The body of the hook is made of wood, curved, and rather hollowed on the inside. The hook itself is bone, and is always made from the bone of a slain enemy, so that it is valued as a trophy, as well as a means of catching fish. This bone is fastened to the rest of the hook by a very ingenious lashing; and, in some instances, even the bone is in two pieces, which are firmly lashed together. In consonance with the warlike character of the natives, who seem to be as ready to offer an insult to other tribes as to take offence themselves, the use of the enemy’s bone is intended as an insult and a defiance to a hostile tribe.

The body of the hook is lined with the pawa shell, and to the bottom of it is attached a tuft of fibres. This hook is remarkable for requiring no bait. It is towed astern of the canoe, and when pulled swiftly through the water it revolves rapidly, the pearly lining flashing in the light like the white belly of fish, and the tuft of fibres representing the tail. Consequently, the predatorial fish take it for the creature which it represents, dash at it as it flashes by them, and are hooked before they discover their mistake. If any of my readers should happen to be anglers, they will see that this hook of the New Zealander is exactly similar in principle with the “spoon-bait” which is so efficacious in practised hands. One of these hooks in my collection is quite a model of form, the curves being peculiarly graceful, and the effect being as artistic as if the maker had been a professor in the school of design. The length of my hook is rather more than four inches: and this is about the average size of these implements. The string by which it is held is fastened to the hook in a very ingenious manner; and indeed it scarcely seems possible that so apparently slight a lashing could hold firmly enough to baffle the struggles of a fish large enough to swallow a hook more than four inches in length, and three-quarters of an inch in width. Some of these hooks are furnished with a feather of the apteryx, which serves the purpose of an artificial fly.

Both salt and fresh water crayfish are taken in large quantities. The latter, which are very large, are almost invariably captured by the women, who have to dive for them, and the former are taken in traps baited with flesh, much like our own lobster-pots. Birds are almost always caught by calling them with the voice, or by using a decoy bird. The apteryx, or kiwi-kiwi, is taken by the first of these methods. It is of nocturnal habits, and is seldom seen, never venturing out of its haunts by day. It is very thinly scattered, living in pairs, and each pair inhabiting a tolerably large district. At night it creeps out of its dark resting-place among the ferns, where it has been sleeping throughout the day, and sets off in search of worms, grubs, and other creatures, which it scratches out of the ground with its powerful feet. During the night it occasionally utters its shrill cry; that of the male being somewhat like the words “hoire, hoire, hoire,” and that of the female like “ho, ho, ho.”

When the natives wish to catch the apteryx, they go to the district where the bird lives, and imitate its cry. As soon as it shows itself, it is seized by a dog which the hunter has with him, and which is trained for the purpose. As the bird is a very strong one, there is generally a fight between itself and the dog, in which the powerful legs and sharp claws of the bird are used with great effect. Sometimes the hunter has ready a torch made of the cowdie resin, and by lighting it as soon as the kiwi-kiwi comes in sight he blinds the bird so effectually by the unwonted light that it is quite bewildered, does not know in what direction to run, and allows itself to be taken alive.

At some seasons of the year the bird is very fat, and its flesh is said to be well flavored. In former days, when it was plentiful, it was much used for food, but at the present time it is too scarce to hold any real place among the food-producing animals of New Zealand, its wingless state rendering it an easy prey to those who know its habits. The skin is[834] very tough, and, when dressed, was used in the manufacture of mantles.

The parrots are caught by means of a decoy bird. The fowler takes with him a parrot which he has taught to call its companions, and conceals himself under a shelter made of branches. From the shelter a long rod reaches to the branches of a neighboring tree, and when the bird calls, its companions are attracted by its cries, fly to the tree, and then walk down the rod in parrot fashion, and are captured by the man in the cover.

Formerly the native dog used to be much eaten; but as the species has almost entirely been transformed by admixture with the various breeds of English dogs, its use, as an article of food, has been abandoned. Pigs are almost the only mammalia that are now eaten; but they are not considered as forming an article of ordinary diet, being reserved for festive occasions. The pork of New Zealand pigs is said to surpass that of their European congeners, and to bear some resemblance to veal. This superiority of flavor is caused by their constantly feeding on the fern roots. In color they are mostly black, and, although tame and quiet enough with their owners, are terribly frightened when they see a white man, erect their bristles and dash off into the bush.

We now come to the question of cannibalism, a custom which seems to have resisted civilization longer in New Zealand than in any other part of the world. In some places cannibalism is an exception; here, as among the Neam-Nam of Africa, it is a rule. An illustration on the next page represents a cannibal cooking-house, that was erected by a celebrated Maori chief, in the Waitahanui Pah. This was once a celebrated fort, and was originally erected in order to defend the inhabitants of Te Rapa from the attacks of the Waikato tribes. Both these and their enemies having, as a rule, embraced Christianity, and laid aside their feuds, the pah has long been deserted, and will probably fall into decay before many years have passed. Mr. Angas’ description of this pah is an exceedingly interesting one.

“Waitahanui Pah stands on a neck of low swampy land jutting into the lake, and a broad, deep river, forming a delta called the Tongariro, and by some the Waikato (as that river runs out again at the other end of Tampo Lake), empties itself near the pah. The long façade of the pah presents an imposing appearance when viewed from the lake; a line of fortifications, composed of upright poles and stakes, extending for at least half a mile in a direction parallel to the water. On the top of many of the posts are carved figures, much larger than life, of men in the act of defiance, and in the most savage posture, having enormous protruding tongues; and, like all the Maori carvings, these images, or waikapokos, are colored with kokowai, or red ochre.

“The entire pah is now in ruins, and has been made tapu by Te Heuheu since its desertion. Here, then, all was forbidden ground; but I eluded the suspicions of our natives, and rambled about all day amongst the decaying memorials of the past, making drawings of the most striking and peculiar objects within the pah. The cook houses, where the father of Te Heuheu had his original establishment, remained in a perfect state; the only entrance to these buildings was a series of circular apertures, in and out of which the slaves engaged in preparing the food were obliged to crawl.

“Near to the cook houses there stood a carved patuka, which was the receptacle of the sacred food of the chief; and nothing could exceed the richness of the elaborate carving that adorned this storehouse. I made a careful drawing of it, as the frail material was falling to decay. Ruined houses—many of them once beautifully ornamented and richly carved—numerous waki-tapu, and other heathen remains with images and carved posts, occur in various portions of this extensive pah; but in other places the hand of Time has so effectually destroyed the buildings as to leave them but an unintelligible mass of ruins. The situation of this pah is admirably adapted for the security of its inmates: it commands the lake on the one side, and the other fronts the extensive marshes of Tukanu, where a strong palisade and a deep moat afford protection against any sudden attack. Water is conveyed into the pah through a sluice or canal for the supply of the besieged in times of war.

“There was an air of solitude and gloomy desolation about the whole pah, that was heightened by the screams of the plover and the tern, as they uttered their mournful cry through the deserted courts. I rambled over the scenes of many savage deeds. Ovens, where human flesh had been cooked in heaps, still remained, with the stones used for heating them lying scattered around, blackened by fire; and here and there a dry skull lay bleaching in the sun and wind, a grim memorial of the past.”

The chief reason for the persistent survival of cannibalism is to be found in the light in which the natives regard the act. As far as can be ascertained, the Maories do not eat their fellow-men simply because they have any especial liking for human flesh, although, as might be expected, there are still to be found some men who have contracted a strong taste for the flesh of man. The real reason for the custom is based on the superstitious notion that any one who eats the flesh of another becomes endowed with all the best qualities of the slain person. For this reason, a chief will often content himself with the left eye of an adversary, that portion of the body being considered as the seat of the soul. A similar idea prevails regarding the blood.


(See page 834.)

(See page 846.)


When the dead bodies of enemies are brought into the villages, much ceremony attends the cooking and eating of them. They are considered as tapu, or prohibited, until the tohunga, or priest, has done his part. This consists in cutting off part of the flesh, and hanging it up on a tree or a tall stick, as an offering to the deities, accompanying his proceedings with certain mystic prayers and invocations.

Most women are forbidden to eat human flesh, and so are some men and all young children. When the latter reach a certain age, they are permitted to become eaters of human flesh, and are inducted into their new privileges by the singing of chants and songs, the meaning of which none of the initiates understand, and which, it is probable, are equally a mystery to the priest himself who chants them.

The palms of the hands and the breast are supposed to be the best parts; and some of the elder warriors, when they have overcome their reluctance to talk on a subject which they know will shock their interlocutors, speak in quite enthusiastic terms of human flesh as an article of food.

That cannibalism is a custom which depends on warfare is evident from many sources. In war, as we shall presently see, the New Zealander can hardly be recognized as the same being in a state of peace. His whole soul is filled with but one idea—that of vengeance; and it is the spirit of revenge, and not the mere vulgar instinct of gluttony, that induces him to eat the bodies of his fellow-men. A New Zealander would not dream of eating the body of a man who had died a natural death, and nothing could be further from his thoughts than the deliberate and systematic cannibalism which disgraces several of the African tribes.

How completely this spirit of vengeance enters into the very soul of the Maories can be inferred from a short anecdote of a battle. There is a small island in the Bay of Plenty called Tuhua, or Mayor’s Island, the inhabitants of which, about two hundred in number, had erected a strong pah, or fort, in order to defend themselves from the attacks of tribes who lived on the mainland, and wanted to capture this very convenient little island. The fort was built on a very steep part of the island, craggy, precipitous, and chiefly made up of lava.

After making several unsuccessful attacks, the enemy at last made an onslaught in the night, hoping to take the people off their guard. The inmates were, however, awake and prepared for resistance; and as soon as the enemy attacked the pah, the defenders retaliated on them by allowing them to come partly up the hill on which the pah stands, and then rolling great stones upon them. Very many of the assailants were killed, and the rest retreated.

Next morning the successful defenders related this tale to a missionary, and showed the spot where so sanguinary an encounter had taken place. The missionary, finding that all the stones and rocks were perfectly clean, and betrayed no traces of the bloody struggle which had taken place only a few hours previously, asked to be shown the marks of the blood. His guide at once answered that the women had licked it off. It has sometimes been stated that the Maories will kill their slaves in order to furnish a banquet for themselves; but such statements are altogether false.

Cannibalism is at the present day nearly, though not quite, extinct. Chiefly by the efforts of the missionaries, it has been greatly reduced; and even in cases where it does take place the natives are chary of speaking about it. In wars that took place some forty years ago, we learn that several hundred warriors were slain, and their bodies eaten by their victors. In comparatively recent times twenty or thirty bodies have been brought into the pah and eaten, while at the present day many a native has never seen an act of cannibalism. This strange and ghastly custom is, however, so dear to the Maori mind that one of the chief obstacles to the conversion of the natives to Christianity is to be found in the fact that the Christian natives are obliged to abjure the use of human flesh. Still, the national instinct of vengeance is rather repressed than extirpated, and there are many well-known occasions when it has burst through all its bonds, and the savage nature of the Maori has for a time gained ascendency over him.




We now come to the one great object of a Maori’s life, namely, war. Before we treat of actual warfare, it will be necessary to describe the weapons which are used, as much of the character of warfare materially depends on them.

In those parts of the world, for instance, where missiles, such as bows and arrows or spears, are the principal weapons, war becomes a series of skirmishes, each individual trying to conceal himself as much as possible from the enemy, and to deal his own blows without exposing himself to retaliation. But when the weapons are of a nature that necessitates hand-to-hand combat, warfare naturally assumes a different aspect, and, if the forces be at all disciplined, more resembles the regulated war of civilized nations than the independent single combats which represent war in most savage countries.

To this latter category belong the weapons of the New Zealander. In former days the Maori warriors used to employ the spear, but that weapon has long been laid aside. A few specimens are still retained, but they are intended, not to be used against an enemy, but in welcoming a friend, the chief who receives his guests pointing the spear at them, and throwing it toward them, as has already been described. When Mr. Angas visited the islands, he found only a very few of these spears, and they were used entirely for peaceful purposes. They were of the same character as those of the great Polynesian group, i. e. made entirely of wood, long, sharply pointed, and armed with a series of barbs.

One of these spears is shown at figure 1, of “Maori weapons,” on page 841. The reader will understand that only the head of the spear is shown, the entire length of the weapon being about twelve feet. The barbs are seen to be arranged in double order, a number of them pointing backward, and then, after a blank space, several rows pointing forward. The object of this device was ingenious enough. The spear was supposed to be pushed through the body of a man until it was stopped by the second row of barbs. It will be seen that his body would then rest in the blank space, and the barbs on either side of him would prevent it from being drawn out or pushed through, so that a wound from the weapon was necessarily mortal. A spear made on the same principle, and employed by the Bechuanas, is shown on page 281.

The weapons used by the Maories are very few in number, and of the simplest possible construction. It is extraordinary, by the way, what misconceptions exist on this subject. With the generality of persons almost every club, axe, or spear is set down as belonging to New Zealand, especially if it has any carving about it. Even the best public collections are not free from these errors, and in one of the most celebrated collections of arms I discovered within five minutes ten or twelve wrong labels.


There is now before me an illustrated work on savage manners and customs, in which is a group of “New Zealand arms,” containing thirteen objects. Of these only one is a genuine weapon of New Zealand, and two others are doubtful. There are two Fiji clubs (one of them with a hollow tubular handle!), one stone knife of New Caledonia, two clubs of the Tonga Islands, one Maori chief’s staff of office, one New Zealander’s carpenter’s adze, one “poi” mallet and one “gnatoo” mallet from Tonga, and two articles which the draughtsman may have intended for clubs, but which have been transformed by the engraver’s art into bottle-gourds. Besides, there is one nondescript article which may be a drum (and therefore cannot belong to New Zealand), or it may be a pail, or it may be a jar, and another nondescript article.

We need not, however, wonder at these trifling errors when, in the same work, a scene in a North American wigwam is described as a “New Zealand christening,” and the “Interior of a Caffre hut” is fitted with Abyssinian arms and implements: the men are represented as wearing long two-forked beards like those of the Fans, headdresses like those of Tonga, and capes like those of Abyssinia; while a smooth-haired woman, instead of being dressed in Kaffir fashion, is naked with the exception of a white cloth tied round her hips. The hut itself is a singularly ingenious example of perversity on the part of the draughtsman, who has selected precisely those very characteristics which do not belong to the Kaffir hut. In the first place, the hut is three times too large, and the walls are apparently of clay—certainly not of the basket-work employed by Kaffirs in house-building. The floor, which in a Kaffir hut is laid down with clay, as smooth as a table and hard as concrete, is irregular and covered with grass; while, by way of climax, the door is high enough to allow a man to pass without stooping, and is finished with a beautiful arched porch covered with creepers.

With the exception of one man, who may, by some stretch of imagination, be taken for a Hottentot, neither the hut, its furniture, its inhabitants, nor their weapons, bear the slightest similitude to those of any part of Southern Africa. Such being the case with museums and books, we need not be surprised that the popular ideas respecting the weapons and warfare of New Zealand are very indefinite.

Of course, at the present day, the Maories have practically discarded their ancient weapons in favor of the rifle, which they know well how to use, retaining the aboriginal weapons more as marks of rank than for active service. We have, however, nothing to do with these modern innovations, and will restrict ourselves to the weapons that belong to the country.

The first and most important of these is the merai, or short club. This weapon is exactly analogous to the short sword used by the ancient Romans, and in some cases resembles it so closely that if the cross-guard were removed from the sword and the blade rendered convex instead of flat, the shapes of the two weapons would be almost exactly identical.

The material of which these weapons are made is sometimes wood and sometimes stone, but mostly bone, the latter material being furnished by the spermaceti whale. The stone merai is the most valued, on account of the difficulty of finding a suitable piece for the purpose, and of the enormous time which is consumed in cutting it to the desired shape with the very imperfect instrument which the Maori possesses. In fact, a stone merai is lowly and laboriously ground into shape by rubbing it with a piece of stone and a sort of emery powder.

Every merai has a hole drilled through the end of the handle. Through this hole is passed a loop of plaited cord, by means of which the weapon is slung to the wrist, to prevent the wearer from being disarmed in battle. Drilling the hole is a very slow process, and is done by means of a wetted stick dipped in emery powder.

The finest merai of this description that I have seen belongs to H. Christie, Esq., and is remarkable not merely for its size, but for the regularity and beauty of its curves. The material is the dark, dull green volcanic stone of which the New Zealanders make so many of their implements. It is nearly eighteen inches in length, and rather more than four inches wide at the broadest part. There is a similar weapon, nearly as large, in the collection of the United Service Institution; but the curves are not so regular, nor is the article so handsome.

One of these weapons is in my collection. It is of equal beauty in shape with that which has been described, but is not so long. It is rather more than fourteen inches in length, and not quite four inches wide. It weighs two pounds six ounces, and is a most formidable weapon, a blow from its sharp edge being sufficient to crash through the skull of an ox, not to mention that of a human being.

Every chief, however low in rank, is sure to have one of these merais, of which he is very proud, and from which he can scarcely be induced to part. The great chiefs have their merais made of green jade, such as has already been described when treating of Maori ornaments. These weapons are handed down from father to son, and are so highly valued by the natives that it is hardly possible to procure one, unless it be captured in battle. If a chief should die without a son to whom his merai can descend, the weapon is generally buried with him.

At fig. 6, in the “weapons,” on page 841,[840] is seen one of these green jade merais. The shape is not nearly so elegant as that of my weapon which has just been described. Indeed, with so valuable and rare a mineral as this green jade, it is not easy to find a piece large enough to be cut into an ordinarily shaped weapon and the manufacturer is obliged to do his best with the material at his command.

At fig. 7 is an example of the commonest kind of merai, that which is made of wood. As the material of such a weapon is comparatively valueless, the Maories seem to indemnify themselves by adding ornament to the weapon. For example, they very seldom make the merai of the same simple shape as that at fig. 6, but give it a distinct edge and back as at fig. 7. In some cases they make it into a most elaborate piece of native art, the whole being so beautifully carved that it looks more like a number of carved pieces of wood fitted together than a weapon cut out of one solid block.

A singularly beautiful example of such a weapon is to be seen in fig. 1 of the illustration “Merais,” on page 841. As the reader may see it is one mass of carving, the design being cut completely through the wood, and therefore being alike on both sides. The back of the merai is carved into a pattern of singular beauty and boldness, and the edge is armed with a row of shark’s teeth, which make its blows very formidable when directed against the naked bodies of the Maori warriors. The specimen from which the drawing was taken may be seen in the collection of the British Museum.

The second fig. of the illustrations shows a merai made of bone. The material is mostly obtained from the blade bone of the spermaceti whale, and in consequence the weapon is said in books of travel to be made of whalebone, thus misleading the ordinary reader, who is sure to understand “whalebone” to be the black elastic substance obtained from the Greenland whale.

These merais are extremely variable in shape. Some of them are made like the stone weapons, except that they are much flatter, and have in consequence both edges alike. Sometimes they are studded with knobs and cut into hollows; sometimes carved into patterns, much resembling that of the wooden merai, but not so elaborate. The specimen which I have selected for the illustration shows examples of the ornaments and studs.

I possess a very good merai which has been made from the lower jaw of the spermaceti whale. This weapon is shown in fig. 4 of the same illustration, opposite, and close by it is a section of the jaw of the whale, in order to show the manner in which it is cut. This weapon measures seventeen inches in length by three and a half inches in width, and weighs one pound nine ounces. In consequence of this comparative lightness, it is a much more efficient weapon than the stone merai; for the latter is so heavy that, if a blow misses its aim, the striker is unable to recover the weapon in time to guard himself, or to repeat the blow, and so lays himself open to the enemy.

If the reader will look at the section of bone, he will see that it is porous in the centre and hard and solid at the edges. It is from the solid part that the merai has been cut, and in consequence the weapon is very flat. The numerous channels through which pass the blood vessels that nourish the bone are seen in the section, and in the drawing of the merai one of them is shown traversing the weapon longitudinally. The name of the merai is “patu-patu,” the u having the same sound as in flute.

Many of the natives have found out that the English bill-hook answers admirably as a merai, and can be obtained with very little trouble. Great quantities of them were at one time imported from Birmingham; but the rifle and bayonet have in latter days so completely superseded all other weapons that the Maories trouble themselves little about the bill-hook.

When a Maori fights with the merai, he does not merely strike, his usual movement being to thrust sharply at the chin of the enemy; and if he succeeds in striking him with the point, he cuts him down with the edge before he can recover himself.

At fig. 5 of the “Maori weapons,” on the next page, is seen an axe, or tomahawk. This is a curious mixture of European and Maori work, the blade being obtained from England, and the handle made and carved in New Zealand with the usual grotesque patterns which a Maori likes to introduce into all objects connected with warfare. The thigh bone of a slain enemy is a favorite handle for such a tomahawk.

Before the fierce and warlike character of the New Zealanders was known, they took several vessels by the use of the merai. It was easy to suspend the short club over the shoulder, where it was hidden by the mat, so that when a party of natives came on board, apparently unarmed, having ostentatiously left their patus and other weapons in their canoes, each man was in fact armed with the weapon that he most trusted. The plan pursued was, that the Maories should mingle freely with the crew, until each man was close to one of the sailors. At a signal from the chief, the concealed merai was snatched from beneath the mat, and in a moment it had crashed through the head of the selected victim.

Even after this ruse was discovered, the ingenious Maories contrived to get hold of more than one vessel under pretence of exhibiting their war dance, which in a moment was changed from the mimicry of battle into reality, the warriors leaping among the spectators and dealing their blows right and left among them. Ship-taking seems, indeed, to be a proceeding so dear to the New Zealander, that he can scarcely resist the temptation when it is offered him. In Messrs. Tyerman and Rennet’s “Missionary Voyage” there is an anecdote of an adventure that befell them, which, but for the timely aid of a friendly chief, would undoubtedly have had a tragic issue.


(See page 813.)

(See page 840.)

(See pages 838, 840, 844.)


The ship had arrived off New Zealand, and while at anchor the following events occurred:—“This morning our little vessel was surrounded with canoes, containing several hundreds of the natives, of both sexes, who presently climbed up, and crowded it so much that we were obliged to put a bar across the quarter-deck, and tabu it from intrusion. The commerce in various articles, on both sides, went on pretty well for some time, till one provoking circumstance after another occurred, which had nearly led to the seizure of the ship and the loss of our lives.

“In the confusion occasioned by the great throng in so narrow a space, the natives began to exercise their pilfering tricks, opportunities for which are seldom permitted to slip away unimproved. Suddenly the cook cried out, ‘They have stolen this thing;’ but scarcely had he named the thing (some kitchen article), when he called out again, ‘They have stolen the beef out of the pot!’ and then a third time, ‘They have stolen my cooking pan!’ Presently another voice bawled out from the forecastle, ‘Captain! they have broken open your trunk, and carried away your clothes!’

“Up to this time we had been in friendly intercourse with the chiefs, rubbing noses, and purchasing their personal ornaments and other curiosities, suspecting no mischief. But now, in the course of a few moments, without our perceiving the immediate reason, the whole scene was changed. We found afterward that the captain (Dibbs), on hearing of the audacious thefts above mentioned, had become angry, and while he was endeavoring, rather boisterously, to clear the deck of some of the intruders, one of them, a chief, on being jostled by him, fell over the ship’s side into the sea, between his own canoe and the vessel. This was seized instantaneously as the pretext for commencing hostilities. The women and children in the course of a few minutes had all disappeared, leaping overboard into their canoes, and taking with them the kakaous, or mantles, of the warriors. The latter, thus stripped for action, remained on deck; of which, before we were aware, they had taken complete possession; and forthwith made us their prisoners.

“Tremendous were the bawlings and screechings of the barbarians, while they stamped, and brandished their weapons, consisting principally of clubs and spears. One chief with his cookies (his slaves) had surrounded the captain, holding their spears at his breast and his sides, on the larboard quarter of the vessel. Mr. Tyerman, under guard of another band, stood on the starboard; and Mr. Bennet on the same side, but aft, toward the stern. Mr. Threlkeld and his little boy, not seven years old, were near Mr. Bennet not under direct manual grasp of the savages. The chief who, with his gang, had been trafficking with Mr. Bennet, now brought his huge tattooed visage near to Mr. B.’s, screaming, in tones the most odious and horrifying: ‘Tongata, New Zealandi, tongata kakino?—Tongata, New Zealandi, tongata kakino?’

“This he repeated as rapidly as lips, tongue, and throat could utter the words, which mean, ‘Man of New Zealand, is he bad man?—Man of New Zealand, a bad man?’ Happily Mr. Bennet understood the question (the New Zealand dialect much resembling the Tahitian): whereupon, though convinced that inevitable death was at hand, he answered, with as much composure as could be assumed, ‘Kaore kakino tongata New Zealandi, tongata kapai’ (‘Not bad; the New Zealander is a good man’); and so often as the other, with indescribable ferocity of aspect and sharpness of accent, asked the same question (which might be a hundred times), the same answer was returned.

“‘But,’ inquired Mr. Bennet, ‘why is all this uproar? Why cannot we still rub noses, and buy and sell, and barter, as before?’ At this moment a stout slave, belonging to the chief, stepped behind Mr. Bennet, and pinioned both his arms close to his sides. No effort was made to resist or elude the gigantic grasp, Mr. B. knowing that such would only accelerate the threatened destruction. Still, therefore, he maintained his calmness, and asked the chief the price of a neck ornament which the latter wore. Immediately another slave raised a large tree-felling axe (which, with others, had been brought to be sharpened by the ship’s company) over the head of the prisoner. This ruffian looked with demon-like eagerness and impatience toward his master for the signal to strike.

“And here it may be observed that our good countrymen can have no idea of the almost preternatural fury which savages can throw into their distorted countenances, and infuse into their deafening and appalling voices, when they are possessed by the legion-fiend of rage, cupidity, and revenge. Mr. Bennet persevered in keeping up conversation with the chief, saying, ‘We want to buy bruaa, kumera, ika, &c. (hogs, potatoes, fish), of you.’

“Just then he perceived a youth stepping on deck with a large fish in his hand. ‘What shall I give you for that fish?’—‘Why, so many fish-hooks.’—‘Well, then, put your hand into my pocket and take them.’ The fellow did so. ‘Now put the fish down there, on the binnacle, and bring some more, if you have any,’ said Mr. Bennet. At once the fish that he had just bought was brought round from behind and presented to him[844] again for sale. He took no notice of the knavery, but demanded, ‘What shall I give you for that fish?’—‘So many hooks.’—‘Take them. Have you no other fish to sell?’ A third time the same fish was offered, and the same price in hooks required and given, or rather taken, by the vendor, out of his jacket pockets, which happened to be well stored with this currency for traffic. A fourth time Mr. Bennet asked, ‘Have you never another fish?’ At this the rogues could contain their scorn no longer, but burst into laughter, and cried, ‘We are cheating the foreigner!’ (‘Tangata ke!’) supposing that their customer was not aware how often they had caught him with the same bait.”

By this ingenious plan of pretending to be the dupe of the Maories, Mr. Bennet contrived to gain time, of which he knew that every minute was of the greatest importance, and at last he was rewarded for his courageous diplomacy by the arrival of a boat, in which was a friendly chief, who at once cleared the ship.

The reader will observe that at this time the New Zealanders had not abandoned the use of the spear as a weapon of war, though only twenty years afterward scarcely a spear could be found that was not intended as an emblem of hospitality instead of strife.

At fig. 3 of “Weapons” is shown a very curious club, called Patu by the natives, and popularly, but wrongly, called by sailors a battle-axe. It is about five feet in length, and has at one end a flat, axe-like head, and at the other a sharp point. One of these weapons in my possession, presented to me, together with many similar articles, by E. Randell, Esq., is five feet one inch in length, and weighs two pounds six ounces, being exactly the same weight as the stone merai already described. The rounded edge of the axe-like head is very sharp, and certainly looks as if it was intended for the purpose of inflicting wounds. Such, however, is not the case, the Maori using the pointed butt as a spear or pike, and striking with the back of the head and not with the edge.

Through the lower portion of the head is bored a hole, to which is suspended a bunch of feathers and streamers. Sometimes this tuft is only a foot in length, but is often longer. In a specimen taken by Sir J. E. Alexander it is half as long as the patu itself. At first sight this appendage seems, like the multitudinous feathers which decorate a North American spear or club, to be merely an ornament, and to detract from, rather than add to, the efficiency of the weapon. But the Maori warrior is far too keen a soldier to sacrifice use to ornament, and, if he employs the latter, he is sure to take care that the former is not endangered by it.

In the present case, this apparently useless appendage adds materially to the effectiveness of the weapon. When the warrior, armed with the patu, meets an adversary, he does not rush at him heedlessly, but fences, as it were, with his weapon, holding it in both hands, twirling it about, and flourishing the bunch of feathers in the face of his foe so as to distract his attention. Neither does he stand in the same spot, but leaps here and there, endeavoring to take the foe off his guard, and making all kinds of feints in order to test the adversary’s powers. Should he see the least opening, the sharp point of the butt is driven into his adversary’s body, or a severe blow delivered with the head, the stroke being generally made upward and not downward, as might be imagined.

In fact, the whole management of the patu is almost identical with that of the old quarterstaff of England, a weapon whose use is unfortunately forgotten at the present day. The bunch of feathers is not an invariable appendage. In my own specimen, for example, it has never been used, and I have seen many others in which the hole has not been bored for the insertion of the string that ties the feathers together.

The last weapon drawn in this illustration is hardly worthy of the name. It is a dagger, and is shown at fig. 4. At fig. 2 of the same illustration is seen an implement which is generally mistaken for a spear, and is labelled as such in many a collection. It is, however, no spear at all, but a sceptre, or staff of office belonging to a chief. The Maori name is E’Hani. It is shaped at the butt like an exceedingly elongated merai, and indeed the entire implement looks as if the hani and the merai were but different modifications of the same weapon.

Be this as it may, the hani is no spear, but a staff of office, almost identical in form with that which was borne by the ancient kings and heralds in the times of Troy. At the upper end is seen the head, which bears some resemblance to the point of a spear, and has given ground to the notion that the implement in question is really a spear. This portion, however, does not serve the purpose of offence, but is simply a conventional representation of the human tongue, which, when thrust forth to its utmost, conveys, according to Maori ideas, the most bitter insult and defiance. When the chief wishes to make war against any tribe, he calls his own people together, makes a fiery oration, and repeatedly thrusts his hani in the direction of the enemy, each such thrust being accepted as a putting forth of the tongue in defiance.

In order to show that the point of the hani is really intended to represent the human tongue, the remainder of it is carved into a grotesque and far-fetched resemblance of the human face, the chief features of which are two enormous circular eyes made of haliotis shell.

Generally, the hani is ornamented with[845] feathers like the patu; but many of the staves are without this decoration, which is looked upon as a mere non-essential. These staves vary greatly in length. My own specimen is between five and six feet in length, and is without the feather ornaments, whereas others are not more than a yard in length, and are decorated with a bunch of feathers as long as themselves. The chiefs are nearly as tenacious of the hard as the merai, and do not seem to be easy if it be put out of their reach. Some years ago several Maori chiefs came to visit England, and were taken to see the various sights of London. But whether they went to the theatre, or to the Zoological Gardens, or to make calls, they invariably took their hanis with them, sometimes carrying a short one for convenience’ sake, but appearing to attach the greatest value to its possession.

One of these curious implements in my collection is six feet in length, and is made of the same wood as the patu. If held upright the resemblance of the point to the outstretched tongue is not very plain; but if it be held horizontally, the effect is quite altered, and the whole of the tip is seen to represent a human head with the tongue thrust out as far as possible between the lips. As the tongue is only a conventional representation, it is covered with a pattern, a ridge running along the centre, and each side being marked with precisely similar curves and semi-spirals.

In spite of its length, it really makes a very convenient walking-staff, and, on an emergency, might do duty as a weapon, the tongue-like tip being sharp enough to act as a spear head, and the flattened butt being heavy enough to stun a man with a well-directed blow. My specimen does not possess the tuft of feathers and dog’s-hair which decorates the hani shown in the “weapons” (fig. 2, p. 841); but this adornment is not considered as forming a necessary part of the implement.

Before a party engage in war, they think themselves bound to join in the war dance. There are war dances in almost all savage tribes, but that of the New Zealander surpasses them all. In other cases, each warrior gives himself up to the excitement of the moment, and shouts, yells, dances, and brandishes his weapons as he seems to think fit; but the Maori warrior’s dance is of a far different character, being guided by a discipline and precision of drill to which that of the Russians themselves is loose and irregular.

They begin by smearing the whole of their clothing and by painting their faces with scarlet ochre, so as to make themselves as hideous as possible. When they assemble for the dance, they arrange themselves in lines, mostly three deep, and excite their naturally passionate disposition to the highest pitch by contorting their faces and thrusting out their tongues as an act of defiance, interspersing these gestures with shouts, yells, and challenges to the enemy. The dance itself begins with stamping the feet in perfect time with each other, the vigor of the stamp increasing continually, and the excitement increasing in similar proportion.

Suddenly, with a yell, the whole body of men leap side-ways into the air, as if actuated by one spirit, and, as they touch the ground, come down on it with a mighty stamp that makes the earth tremble. The war song is raised, and in accordance with its rhythm the men leap from side to side, each time coming down with a thud as of some huge engine. The effect of the dance upon the performers is extraordinary. It seems to make them for the time absolute maniacs, their whole nature being given up to the furious excitement of the moment. Their faces are frightfully contorted, and thus assume an absolutely demoniacal expression.

Even when war is not impending, the magic influence of the dance affects the performers as strongly as if they were close to a pah or fort of the enemy, ready for battle; and when, as is sometimes the case, the Maories give a dance in honor of a visitor, they become so furiously excited that they are quite dangerous until they have had time to cool.

On one such occasion a party of Maories who had visited a ship were requested to exhibit their war dance, and very good-naturedly did so. But in a short time their measured leaps became so vehement, and their stamps so powerful, as they shouted the martial rhymes of the war song, that they shook the whole ship as if by blows of a battering-ram; and the commanding officer, fearful that they would absolutely smash the deck, begged them to desist. His entreaties were in vain, even if they were heard, though it is very likely that, in their furious excitement, the dancers were deaf to every sound except the war song which they were yelling at the top of their voices; and the dance proceeded to its end, and did not cease until the performers were quite exhausted by the furious exertions they had made.

The most ludicrous part of the dance was the conduct of the chief. He had been treated with much attention, and presented with a full suit of naval uniform, of which he was mightily proud, and in which he stalked about the deck to the great admiration of his subjects. When he was asked whether the war dance could be given, he at once ordered his followers to accede to the request, and at first stood quietly by while they went through the performance.

The influence of the dance was, however, too contagious to be resisted, and rapidly[846] extended itself to him. First he merely swayed his body in rhythm with the steps of the dancers, then he joined sotto voce in the song, then he began to stamp in time with them, and at last threw off all restraint, sprang into line, and leaped, yelled, and stamped as enthusiastically as any of them, splitting his new garments to pieces, and presenting a very sorry sight when his excitement had died away.

The illustration opposite represents a portion of a party of warriors as they appear when performing their war dance. Only the first three ranks of them are seen; but the reader must picture for himself the long lines of warriors stretching into the distance, numbering often from one to two hundred. The leading chief is seen in front, with his green jade merai in his hand; and another but inferior chief is stationed behind him. In the background is shown a portion of the pah in which the dance is taking place; a chief’s storehouse for food is seen on the right, and under the shelter of the houses are seated the women who are watching the dance.

I have already said that war is always in the thoughts of a genuine Maori. Unlike the vaporing Fiji warrior, who is always ready to boast, and seldom ready to fight, preferring to knock his enemy on the head when asleep, the Maori is a brave soldier, accustomed from his earliest childhood to deeds of war. A mimic war forms one of the favorite games of the Maori children, though it is necessarily restricted to boys. Just as boys of our country build snow castles, and attack and defend them with snow-balls, so do the young New Zealanders build miniature forts, and enact on a small scale the deeds of actual war, using light sticks instead of the merai and patu. They make their forts by erecting mounds of earth, and building the fortresses of stakes, in exact imitation of the more substantial architecture of the veritable pah.

These ingenious pahs well exemplify the whole system of Maori warfare. The two opposing parties seldom meet each other in the open ground, as is the case with European warfare; neither do they employ an irregular skirmishing fight among trees or under cover, as is the case with many savage tribes. The attacking party is sure to be very superior in numbers to their foes, and the latter, knowing that this will be the case, resort to the system of fortification, and entrench themselves in forts, or pahs.

These pahs are marvellous examples of uncivilized engineering, and are admirably adapted to the purpose which they are intended to fulfil. They are always placed in some strong situation, sometimes on the seashore, sometimes on heights, and one or two of the strongest are built on the very edge of a perpendicular precipice, so that they cannot be attacked on three sides, while the fourth can only be approached by a narrow and awkward path, along which only a few men can pass, and which can be defended by a comparatively limited number of the besieged. (See p. 830.)

Taking one of these pahs is really a great enterprise for the natives, and before they knew the use of firearms it is wonderful that they ever took a pah at all. Many of them are indeed impregnable, and, until firearms were introduced into the colony, could bid defiance to all enemies. They were so situated that by merely rolling stones down the approach the path could be cleared of every foe. They are surrounded with trenches, and have ingenious sally-ports so constructed that the defenders can issue from unexpected parts of the fort, make a sudden attack on the assailants, and retreat through the same aperture when they have attained their purpose.

They are fenced round with very strong posts, lashed together so firmly that they are able to resist any ordinary attack. Since firearms were introduced, the Maories have modified the structure of the pahs to suit their new weapons, throwing out angles to secure a flanking fire, and filling the interior with trenches in which the defenders can lie secure from the fire of the enemy. Since they learned the terrible power of shells, the natives have learned to construct “traverses,” i. e. cross-walls in the trenches, which not only guard the inmates from the fragments of the shells, but prevent an enfilading fire from doing much damage. Rifle-pits are also constructed with singular ingenuity. One pah was remarkable for being built over a number of boiling springs, which were used as traps for the enemy when the fort was besieged.

The reader may remember the unfortunate business at the Gate Pah, at Tauranga. When taken by storm, the pah appeared to be empty and deserted, the natives having apparently escaped, according to their custom, when they found the place no longer tenable. They had, however, laid a trap, into which the assailants fell. When the latter had scattered themselves over the interior, and were quite off their guard, picking up arms, utensils, and other objects lying carelessly about, a terrific musketry fire was opened from under their very feet, the natives having constructed pits in which they hid themselves until the enemy were attracted within their range by the weapons and implements which they had laid on purpose to act as a bait. The men, who were entirely off their guard, and many of whom besides were but raw recruits, were struck with a sudden panic, and, with a few honorable exceptions, rushed out of the pah, followed and cut up by the fire of the wily foe.


(See page 846.)


Of course the repulse was but temporary; but such a stratagem as this is sufficient to show the military genius of the Maori, who, if he becomes an enemy, is one that cannot be despised with impunity. This system of taking the enemy by surprise is the usual mode of fighting among the Maories, who display wonderful ingenuity in contriving ambushes, and enticing the enemy into them. When we were first driven into war with the natives of New Zealand, we were frequently entrapped in an ambuscade; and in one case the hidden enemy were so close to our men, their dusky forms being hidden in the shadows of the bush, that many of the soldiers who escaped with life had their faces completely tattooed with grains of unburnt powder from the muskets of the enemy.

If the assailants succeed in taking the pah, a terrible massacre always ensues. Every man is killed who is capable of wielding a weapon, while the women and children are carried off to become the slaves of the conquerors—a doom from which, as I have already stated, there is no escape; the unfortunate women, their children, and any future offspring, being slaves without the possibility of release, not even their own tribe being able, according to Maori law, to interfere with the right of the captors.

The bodies of the warriors are of course reserved to be baked and eaten. Sometimes even the prisoners fall victims to the thirst for blood which characterizes these islanders; and in this respect the women are as bad as the men, if not worse. For example, the principal wife of a very great chief, named E’Hongi, was accustomed, even though blind, to murder some of the captives, when they were brought home by her formidable husband. Her own end was, however, more tragic than that of any of her victims. E’Hongi was in the habit of making long excursions to different parts of the country, in which he took his wife with him. On one of these excursions she fell sick, and had to be left behind. In consequence of her blindness, added to her debility, she was unable to act in her own defence, and a number of dogs, discovering her weakness, tore her to pieces and devoured her.

She seems, however, to have been a woman of unexceptionally strong feelings of vengeance. “She had,” writes Mr. Angas, “a little slave-girl to attend upon her, toward whom she evinced a strong attachment. The little creature was interesting and good-tempered, and her mistress was apparently so fond of her that she was spared the experience of the misery of slavery; she was only a favorite.

“Hongi returned from one of his successful expeditions of war, but had left a son upon the field of battle, and the lamentation was great. The petted slave-child laid her head upon the lap of her mistress, and poured out her share of the general sorrow. But the spirit of vengeance or of insane retribution came over the heart of the bereaved mother; and she carried the child to the water, and cruelly suffocated her in satisfaction of her selfish sorrow.”

It was not long after this incident that she met with her death. When she was left behind, a small shed was erected on poles, according to native custom, and a supply of food was placed near her. When the party returned the shed was lying prostrate, and among its ruins were the whitened bones of the inmate. It is supposed that the wind blew down the shed, and so enabled the dogs to reach her.

This same E’Hongi was a really remarkable man, and earned a great name for wisdom and courage. Having made a voyage to England, he threw all his energies into strengthening his military power, and took back with him a quantity of muskets and ammunition.

He came back to his own country exactly at the proper time. A long and somewhat desultory war had been going on between the Waikatos and other tribes, in which the former had, after many vicissitudes, been victorious, and, after finally conquering their enemies, had returned to their country in triumph.

Just then E’Hongi came back to his own tribe, the Nga Puis, distributed his firearms among the best warriors, and when he had instructed them in the use of the new and terrible weapons, entered the Waikato country, and attacked their great pah called Matuketuke. The Waikatos, having only their clubs, and not having sunk the trenches which in these days are dug in every pah that is intended to resist an assault, could not contend against firearms, and in a few minutes the fort was taken. It was in this engagement that Horomona and Te Whero-Whero were captured.

The slaughter on this occasion was terrible, two thousand warriors being killed, and their bodies eaten by the victorious tribe, who built vast numbers of ovens for the special purpose of cooking the bodies of the slain. For many years afterward the remains of the ovens, and the whitened bones of the two thousand warriors, might be seen as tokens of the terrible scene, where feasts were kept up until all the bodies had been consumed, and every evil passion of unrestrained human nature was allowed to have its full sway.

One of the very muskets which were used on this occasion, and which was given by George IV. to E’Hongi when he visited England, is now in the collection of Colonel Sir. J. E. Alexander. It is one of the regular “Brown Bess” weapons, once so dear to soldiers, and now irreverently termed a gaspipe.

Prisoners without number were captured on this occasion; and indeed the supply of slaves thus obtained so far exceeded the demand for them, that the Nga Puis killed[850] many of them on their journey home, merely to rid themselves of them. E’ Hongi, though known to be a man of the most determined courage, not to say ferocity, when engaged in war, and rather disposed to behave in an overbearing manner toward those whom he considered as his inferiors, was at the same time peculiarly mild and courteous in his demeanor to his equals, and toward strangers was remarkable for his gentle courtesy.

There was another very celebrated chief of a somewhat similar name, Hongi-Hongi, who has sometimes been confounded with his great predecessor. One feat of this warrior is so characteristic that it deserves mention. He was leading an attack on a pah near Mount Egmont, captured it, and, according to custom, killed the warriors, and took the rest of the inmates as his slaves. Sixty of these unfortunate beings fell to the share of Hongi, who drove them like a flock of sheep, with his green jade merai, all the way to his home, a distance of one hundred and eighty miles.

This chief was proof against the missionaries of all kinds. Mr. Angas once asked him whether he was a mihanari, i. e. a Protestant convert, or a pikopo, i. e. a Roman Catholic. Hongi denied that he was either one or the other, and confessed with glee that he was a revera, or devil, i. e. that he still remained a heathen.

It is very unfortunate that intolerance in religious matters has been fostered by those who ought to have made it their business to repress any such feeling. The consequence is, that the Protestant converts regard their Roman Catholic brethren as reveras, or devils, while the latter have allied themselves with their acknowledged heathen countrymen; and thus, under the pretence of religion, the customary feuds are kept up with perhaps even additional bitterness.

I have the pleasure of presenting to the reader, on the 820th page, a portrait of Hongi-Hongi, as he appeared in the year 1844, dressed in his full panoply of war costume. This, of course, would be doffed before he went into actual fight. In his ear is one of the green jade ornaments which have already been described, and in his right hand he bears his merai, the celebrated weapon with which he drove the slaves before him. He is represented as standing just inside the wall of his pah, a position which he insisted on taking up, and having his portrait drawn to send to the Queen of England. In fact, he was so decided on this point, that he refused to let Mr. Angas leave the pah until the portrait was completed. The portion of the pah which is shown in the illustration gives a good idea of this kind of fortification, the enormous posts with their circular tops being sunk deeply into the ground, and smaller posts placed between them; a horizontal pole is laid across them; and the whole is firmly lashed together, either with the ordinary phormium rope, or with the stem of the wild vine.

Warfare among the Maories, fierce and relentless as it may be in some particulars, is not devoid of a sort of chivalry which somewhat relieves it from its more ferocious aspect. There is, for example, a well-known code of military etiquette which is sometimes exhibited in a mode that to us seems rather ludicrous.

For example, the Waikatos and Taranaki tribes were at war as usual, and the Waikato were besieging a pah belonging to their enemies. The pah, however, was too strong for them; and moreover the defenders had contrived to get hold of several guns belonging to a vessel that had been wrecked on the shore, and had induced some Europeans to mount and work them, which they did with such success that the Waikatos were forced at last to abandon the siege.

But, in the very midst of the contest, a vessel appeared in the offing, and a truce was immediately concluded in order to allow both parties to trade. Accordingly, both the besiegers and besieged set off amicably to the vessel, and, having completed their bargains, returned to resume their hostilities. A very amusing scene then occurred. The Taranakis, who were the besieged party, had much the best of the trading, as they possessed a large quantity of dressed flax, or phormium, and exchanged it for a quantity of tobacco.

Now tobacco is one of the greatest luxuries that a New Zealander can possess; and unfortunately for the besieging Waikatos, they had no tobacco. They had, however, a plentiful supply of muskets, which they had taken in an attack upon another pah, while the besieged were very short of arms. So they struck up a trade, the Waikatos being so inordinately desirous of obtaining tobacco, that they gave in return fire-arms which were to be turned against themselves.

“The scene,” writes Mr. Angas, “as described by an eye-witness, must have been most ludicrous. The Waikato thrust his musket half-way through the palisades of the pah, retaining, however, a firm hold of his property until the intending purchaser from within thrust out in a similar manner the quantity of tobacco he was willing to give; neither party relinquishing his hold of the property about to change hands until he had secured a firm grasp of that offered by his adversary.”

The chief who led the Waikatos on this occasion was the celebrated Wiremu Nera, or William Taylor; the former name being the nearest approach that the Maories can make to the proper pronunciation. His Maori name was Te Awaitaia, and he was widely celebrated for his dauntless courage and his generalship in conducting or resisting[851] an attack. Being closely allied with the famous chief Te Whero-Whero (or Potatau), he was engaged in nearly all the combats between the Waikatos and the Taranakis. On one of his warlike expeditions he took a pah containing nearly eighteen hundred inhabitants, and, of course, killed nearly all of them, and carried the survivors as slaves into the Waikato district.

Latterly, he embraced Christianity, and became as zealous in the cause of peace as he had been in that of war. When he became a Christian, Te Whero-Whero was so well aware of his value as a warrior, that he exclaimed to those who brought him the news, “I have lost my right arm!”

Although repulsed on this occasion by the three guns taken from the wrecked ship, the Waikatos were not discouraged, and made a second attack. The Taranakis, however, had seen too much of Waikato courage to risk a second siege, and so quietly made off, some two thousand in number, accompanied by the Europeans who had served the guns for them. The latter very rightly spiked the guns when they left the pah, so that when the Waikatos came again and took the pah, they found it deserted, and the guns useless to the captors.

The Taranakis lived in deadly fear of the powerful and warlike Waikatos, and, but for the love which they felt toward their native country, would have fled, and left the conquerors to take quiet possession. They were even obliged to have their plantations in the bush, where none but the owner could find them; for they feared, and with reason, that if their dreaded enemies could discover the sources whence their provisions were obtained, they would destroy the whole plantation, and leave their victims to starve. They were in such a state of nervous alarm about a suspected invasion by their powerful neighbors, that on one occasion, when a fire was seen in the distance, every one took it for granted to be a fire lighted by the Waikatos, and in consequence every one kept awake all night, ready to give the alarm at the first unwonted sight or sound.

Among the New Zealanders is a custom of retaliation which is found with but little variation in many parts of the world. If blood has been shed, the friends of the dead man issue from the pah, with the determination of killing the first person whom they may happen to meet. Should he belong to an inimical tribe, so much the better; should he belong to the same tribe, so much the worse; for in either case he is killed. On such an occasion one of the avengers would be bound to kill his own brother, should he happen to be the first man who came in the way of the party.

Such an exercise of vengeance is rather an inconvenient one to those who are engaged in it; for they are forbidden the use of their ordinary comforts, they may not eat any food except that which is indigenous to New Zealand, and, above all, they are not allowed to smoke. When, therefore they have been unable to find any human being whom they can sacrifice, the aid of the priest, or tohunga, is called in. He pulls up a tuft of grass, and, after repeating one of the many incantations which abound in New Zealand lore, and of which neither the hearers nor the reciter understand one word in ten, he throws the grass into the nearest stream, in token that the avengers are released from their vow. Blood, however, must still be shed; but after this ceremony has been performed, the blood of any living thing, even though it be a bird, is held sufficient to satisfy the traditional custom of the Maori race.

Elaborate rites closely allied with this ceremony are employed both before and after battle; but, as they belong rather to the subject of religion than of war, we will postpone them for the present.

As the New Zealanders know that it is a point of military honor combined with personal gratification to eat the bodies of slain enemies, they are equally desirous of securing the bodies of their foes and of carrying off those who have fallen on their own side; and in many instances the anxiety to save those who have fallen has caused others to share the same fate while attempting to carry off their dead or wounded comrades.


NEW ZEALAND—Continued.


War is carried on quite as much by water as by land, and a chief who knows the principles of good generalship always uses the sea as well as the land to serve as a basis for his attack. For this reason the Maories take care to build their pahs in spots where they are well defended from attack both on the seaward and the landward side. Some of them are on the very verge of high-water mark, while others are perched on the tops of cliffs, the base of which is washed by the waves.

One of the most picturesque of these is a pah situate near Mount Egmont, and known by the name of the Waimate Pah. There is a cliff that rises perpendicularly some four or five hundred feet above the level of the water which laves its foot, and on the very summit of this cliff is situated the pah in question. It is of considerable size, containing many houses and is fortified with the usual wooden fence. In order to render it as nearly as possible impregnable, the only approach is by a very narrow and very steep path, that cannot be ascended except by people who have strong heads, the path being so narrow, so steep, and so dangerous that two men could defend it against fifty.

In his warlike expeditions E’Hongi made great use of his canoes, taking them inland as far as they would go, and then having them dragged over land to the next river.

These canoes play so important a part in the life of a New Zealander, whether in war or peace, that they require a detailed description. The canoes are of several kinds, according to the work which they have to perform. The simplest form of the New Zealander’s canoe is little more than a trunk of a tree hollowed into a sort of trough. Being incapable of withstanding rough weather, this canoe is only used upon rivers. Some of these canoes, which are called by the name of kaupapas, are from forty to fifty feet in length, and in the widest part not exceeding a yard in “beam.” A plentiful supply of fern leaves is laid at the bottom of the canoe, and upon these the passengers recline. Canoes of a similar character, called tiwai, are used in the inland lakes, and sit so low in the water that they appear to have no gunwale.

Owing to their want of beam, these canoes are as easily upset as the slight skiffs in which races are rowed on English rivers. The agile Maori, accustomed from childhood to balance himself in these crank vessels, traverses them with ease and security, but an European generally upsets four or five canoes before he learns how to enter or leave them properly. The natives manage these canoes with wonderful skill, and, apparently regardless of the risk of capsizing the canoe, dash their paddles into the water with furious energy, driving up spray on all sides, and making the canoe and its rowers look at a distance like some gigantic centipede dashing through the water.

The vessels, however, of which the Maories are most fond, and on which they expend the most labor, are the large canoes in which the warriors embark when on a campaign. Those canoes are made from the cowrie pine (the same tree which furnishes the aromatic gum already mentioned); and the tree being a very large one, the natives are able to make their canoes of considerable size. Some of these canoes are upward of[853] eighty feet in length and in consequence are able to carry a great number of warriors.

They are built in rather an elaborate manner. First the trough-like vessel is formed from the tree trunk; and if it were left in that state, it would be simply a very large kaupapa. As, however, it is intended for sea voyages, and may have to endure rough weather; it is much wider in proportion than the boat which is only used on rivers, and is, moreover, rendered more seaworthy by gunwales. These are made separately, and are lashed firmly to the sides of the boat by the ordinary flax ropes.

Both the head and stern of the canoe are decorated with carving, exactly similar in character to the specimens of native art which have already been described. They are pierced with the most elaborate patterns, which have as their basis the contour of the human countenance and the semi-spiral curve. Perhaps a single canoe head will have fifty or sixty human faces on it, each with the tongue protruded, with the cheeks and forehead covered with tattooed lines, and with a pair of goggle eyes made of the haliotis shell. The mode which a native adopts when carving these elaborate patterns is as follows:

After shaping out the general form of the article to be carved, he fixes on some part which he thinks will be suitable for the purpose, and carves a human head upon it. When this is completed, he pitches upon a second spot at some distance from the first, and carves another head, proceeding in this way until he has carved as many heads as he thinks the pattern will require.

He next furnishes the heads with bodies and limbs, which are always represented in a very squat and ungainly manner, and fills in the vacant spaces with the beautiful curved lines which he loves so well to draw and carve. The minute elaboration of some of these war canoes is so intricate that it baffles all power of description, and nothing but a well executed photograph could give a correct idea of the beauty of the workmanship. It is a marvellous example of the development of art under difficulties. It is quite unique in its character, so that no one who is acquainted with the subject can for a moment mistake a piece of New Zealand carving for that of any other country.

Besides carving the canoes, the Maori paints them with vermilion in token of their warlike object, and decorates them profusely with bunches of feathers and dog’s hair, just like the tufts which are attached to the patu. When the canoes are not wanted, they are drawn up on shore, and are thatched in order to save them from the weather.

Like more civilized nations, the New Zealanders give names to their canoes, and seem to delight in selecting the most sonorous titles that they can invent. For example, one canoe is called Maratuhai, i. e. Devouring Fire; and others have names that coincide almost exactly with our Invincibles, Terribles, Thunderers, and the like.

These boats are furnished with a very remarkable sail made of the raupo rush. It is small in proportion to the size of the vessel, is triangular in shape, and is so arranged that it can be raised or lowered almost in a moment. They are better sailors than would be imagined from their appearance, and run wonderfully close to the wind.

Sometimes from fifty to sixty men paddle in one of these war canoes, singing songs in time to the stroke, and guided both in song and stroke by a conductor who stands in the middle of the canoe, prompting the words of the song, and beating time for the paddlers with a staff which he holds in his hand. Owing to the power of the water in reflecting sound, the measured chant of the paddle-song can be heard on a river long before the canoe comes in sight.

Mr. Angas gives an interesting account of a journey in a Maori canoe. After mentioning that the vessel was so deeply laden that its sides were not more than two inches above the water, he proceeds as follows: “The paddles were plied with great spirit; the exertions of the natives being stimulated by the animated shouting song kept up incessantly by the one or other of the party. At length the splashing was so violent that we became nearly drenched, and on requesting the Maori before us to throw less water in our faces, he replied with a proverb common among them, that ‘No one is dry who travels with the Waikatos,’ meaning that the people of this tribe excel all others in the speed and dexterity with which they manage their canoes.

“Our natives were in excellent spirits. They had been on a long journey to Auckland, where they had seen the pakeha (white man, or stranger) in his settlement, and had witnessed many sights of civilization to which they were previously strangers. They had also purchased articles of European manufacture, and longing to return home to the peaceful banks of the Waipa, to present them to their friends as tokens of their regard. Their wild, deafening songs, with their heads all undulating at every stroke, the contortions of their eyes, and their bare, tawny shoulders, finely developing their muscles as they all dashed their paddles simultaneously into the water, rendered the scene at once novel and animating.

“The canoe songs are generally improvised, and frequently have reference to passing objects. Such ejaculations as the following were uttered by our companions at the highest pitch of their voices, ‘Pull away! Pull away! Pull away!’ ‘Dig into the water!’ ‘Break your backs,’ &c. From[854] the prow of one of the canoes a native flute sounded plaintively. This is a very rude and imperfect instrument, and they do not play it with any degree of skill, it having only two or three notes.” The flute in question is that which is made of human bone, and has been described on a previous page. It is played by placing the orifice against one nostril, and stopping the other with the finger.

When the natives proceed on a journey in their canoes, they are so sure of their own skill and management that they overload them to a degree which would cause an immediate capsize in most countries. One chief, named Wirihona, who was travelling with his family, afforded a curious example of overloading a boat with impunity. The canoe was delicate and frail, and in the bow sat a little boy with a small fire kept between two pieces of bark. In the fore part of the canoe, where it was narrow, sat the younger children, the adult members of the family being placed in the middle, where the boat was widest. Toward the stern came another batch of young children, and on the stern, which projects over the water, sat Wirihona himself, steering the vessel with his paddle.

The canoe in which were Mr. Angas and his companions was, as the reader may recollect, so laden that her gunwale barely rose two inches above the surface. As long as they were paddling along the narrower and more sheltered parts of the river, all went smoothly enough, though the deeply-laden state of the crank boat gave cause for uneasiness. At last, however, they came to some wide and open reaches exposed to the wind, and had, moreover, to cross the current diagonally.

“The wind blew violently, and meeting the current, caused an unpleasant sea in the middle channel of the river. Our heavily-laden canoe was not fitted to encounter anything beyond still water; and, as our natives related to each other where this and that canoe were upset, they dashed their paddles into the water with all their energy, and our bark was soon in the midst of the terrible current. We were every moment in imminent danger of being swamped; the water rushed in on both sides; and nothing but the extreme swiftness with which we glided through the current prevented us from filling.

“As the canoe dashed against the opposite shore, our natives gave a loud shout and commenced bailing out the water, which we had shipped in great quantities, with a tatau or scoop. We now looked anxiously toward the second canoe, and watched them literally pulling for their lives, splashing and dashing with the utmost vehemence. The frail bark appeared almost swallowed up by the angry stream, but she glided securely through it, and the drenched chief and his family repeated the sound of welcome to the opposite shore, as their canoe also dashed in safety against its banks.”

The paddles with which the Maories propel their canoes are curious-looking implements, and are so formed that they will answer almost equally well as paddles or weapons. Indeed, it is not unlikely that their peculiar shape was given to them for this very reason. In the illustration No. 1, on page 881, are seen two examples of the New Zealand paddle, both being drawn from specimens in my collection, and being useful as showing the typical form of the implement.

They are rather more than five feet in length, and have very long blades which are leaf-shaped and sharply pointed at the tips, so that a thrust from one of these paddles would be quite as dangerous as if it were made with the butt of the patu. The blade, too, is sharp at the edges, and, being made of rather heavy wood, is capable of splitting a man’s skull as effectually as if it had been the short merai.

In one of these paddles the handle is curved in a peculiar manner, while in the other it is straight, and forms a continuation of the blade. The former of these implements is quite plain, and even at the end of the handle there is no carving, while the latter is liberally adorned with patterns both on the blade and handle, and at their junction there is the inevitable human figure with the protruding tongue, the goggle eyes, and the generally aggressive expression that characterizes all such figures. None of the New Zealand paddles are adorned with the minute and elaborate carving which is found upon the paddles of several of the Polynesian islands. The carving of the New Zealanders is of a far different and much bolder character; and, instead of covering his paddle with small patterns repeated some hundreds of times, the Maori carves nothing but bold, sweeping curves and imitations of the human face.

As far as is known, the Maori carver makes no use of measuring tools, doing all his work by the eye alone. He does not even use compasses in describing his circles; and in consequence, whenever he carves, as is often the case, a number of concentric circles on a rafter or beam, the circles are quite undeserving of the name, and always tend rather to an irregular oval form.

There is in my collection a remarkable instrument, presented to me by C. Heaton, Esq. It bears a label with the following inscription, “A New Zealand Compass, by which the natives turn the volute in their carving.” In shape it resembles one half of a parenthesis horizontal parenthesis, and is armed at each point with a shark’s tooth, which is inserted into a groove, and then lashed firmly with a cord passing through holes bored in the tooth and through the semicircular handle.[855] It is made of the same wood as the paddle. Having, as I have already stated, abundant reason to distrust the accuracy of labels, and thinking that the curves of New Zealand carving did not possess the regularity which would accompany them had they been sketched out by an instrument, I showed the tool to several observant travellers who have spent much time in New Zealand, and asked them if they recognized it. None of them had seen the implement. Mr. Christie, who gave much attention to the manufactures of New Zealand, knew nothing about it, and Mr. Angas, who visited the island for the express purpose of collecting information respecting the Maories, and to whose pen I am indebted for nearly all the illustrations of the life and manners of the New Zealanders, had never seen or heard of such a tool. I possess many specimens of New Zealand carving, and have seen many others, together with a great number of photographs, and in no case have I noticed a single circle or portion of a circle that was regular enough to have been drawn by the aid of compasses.

I even doubt whether this article was made in New Zealand at all, and am inclined to think that it belongs to the Tonga or the Kingsmill Islands. As to its use, I have no opinion.

In propelling these canoes, the New Zealander holds his paddle in both hands, and always keeps it on the same side of the vessel, being balanced by a companion on the other side. He employs no rowlock, but uses one hand as a fulcrum near the blade, while the other holds the handle nearer the tip. The boat is steered by means of a large paddle in the stern.


NEW ZEALAND—Continued.


We now come to the religion of the Maories. This is a curious mixture of simplicity and elaboration, having the usual superstitions common to all savage tribes, and being complicated with the remarkable system of “tapu,” or “taboo,” as the word is sometimes spelt.

Of real religion they have no idea, and, so far as is known, even their superstitions lack that infusion of sublimity which distinguishes the religious system of many savage nations. They have a sort of indefinite belief in a good and evil influence; the former going by the generic name of Atua, and the latter of Wairua. Now, Atua is a word that has a peculiar significance of its own. It may signify the Divine Essence, or it may be applied to any object which is considered as a visible representative of that essence.

Thus, if a Maori wishes to speak of God, he would use the word Atua. But he would equally apply it to a lizard, a bird, a sun-ray, or a cloud. There is one species of lizard, of a lovely green color, called by the natives kakariki, which is held in the greatest veneration as a living representative of divinity, and is in consequence always dreaded as an atua. The belief which the natives hold on this subject is well shown by an anecdote told by Mr. Angas.

“The following incident will show how deeply the belief in witchcraft and the supposed influence of the atuas obtains among those who are still heathens. The missionary was shown some small green lizards preserved in a phial of spirits, Muriwenua and another man being in the room. We forgot at the moment that the little creatures in the phial were atuas, or gods, according to the superstitious belief of Maori polytheism, and inadvertently showed them to the man at the table.

“No sooner did he perceive the atuas than his Herculean frame shrank back as from a mortal wound, and his face displayed signs of extreme horror. The old chief, on discovering the cause, cried out, ‘I shall die! I shall die!’ and crawled away on his hands and knees; while the other man stood as a defence between the chief and the atuas, changing his position so as to form a kind of shield, till Muriwenua was out of the influence of their supposed power. It was a dangerous mistake to exhibit these atuas, for the chief is very old, and in the course of nature cannot live long, and, if he dies shortly, his death will certainly be ascribed to the baneful sight of the lizard gods, and I shall be accused of makutu or witchcraft.” In connection with this superstition about the lizard, the same traveller mentions a curious notion which prevails regarding a spider.

“On the beach of the west coast is found a small, black, and very venomous spider, called katipo by the natives. Its bite is exceedingly painful, and even dangerous, and the natives think that if the katipo bites a man and escapes, the man will die. But if he contrives to catch the spider, and makes a circle of fire round it so that it perishes in the flames, then the man recovers as the spider dies.”

The extent to which the imagination of[857] the natives is excited by their fear of witchcraft is scarcely credible. There was one woman named Eko, who was the most celebrated witch of the Waikato district. She exercised extraordinary influence over the minds of the people, who looked upon her as a superior being. On one occasion, when angry with a man, she told him that she had taken out his heart. The man entirely believed her, and died from sheer terror.

Objects which they cannot understand are often considered by the Maories as atuas. Thus a compass is an atua, because it points in one direction, and directs the traveller by its invisible power. A barometer is an atua, because it foretells the weather. A watch is an atua, on account of the perpetual ticking and moving of the hands. Fire-arms used to be atuas until they came into common use, and lost the mystery which was at first attached to them.

Yet the Maori never addresses his prayers to any of these visible objects, but always to the invisible Atua of whom these are but the representatives. The prayers are almost entirely made by the priests or tohungas, and are a set form of words known only to the priests and those whom they instruct. The meaning of the prayers is often uncertain, owing to the obsolete words which are profusely employed in them, and of which, indeed, the prayer almost entirely consists. Prayers, or incantations, as they may perhaps be called with more precision, are made on almost every occasion of life, however trivial, and whether the Maori desires safety in a battle, a favorable wind when on the water, success in a campaign, or good luck in fishing, the tohunga is called upon to repeat the appropriate prayer. Many of these prayers or incantations have been preserved by Dr. Dieffenbach and others. One of these prayers, which can be more correctly translated than many of them, is uttered at the offering of a pigeon. It is designated as “A prayer that the pigeon may be pure, that it may be very fat: when the fire burns, the prayer is said.”

“When it is lighted, when it is lighted, the sacred fire, O Tiki! When it burns on the sacred morning, O give, O give, O Tiki, the fat. It burns for thee the fat of the pigeon; for thee the fat of the owl; for thee the fat of the parrot; for thee the fat of the flycatcher; for thee the fat of the thrush. A water of eels; where is its spring? Its spring is in heaven; sprinkle, give, be it poured out.”

Offerings of food are common rites of Maori native worship, and offerings are made of both vegetable and animal food. It is much to be regretted that very many of the ancient religious rites of the New Zealanders have perished, and that they have been entirely forgotten by the present generation. Such a loss as this can never be replaced, and the fact that it has occurred ought to make us the more careful in rescuing from speedy oblivion the expiring religious customs of other uncivilized nations.

Prayers, such as have been mentioned, are handed down by the tohungas or priests from father to son, and the youths undergo a long course of instruction before they can take rank among the priests. Dr. Dieffenbach was once fortunate enough to witness a portion of this instruction. “I was present at one of the lessons. An old priest was sitting under a tree, and at his feet was a boy, his relative, who listened attentively to the repetition of certain words, which seemed to have no meaning, but which it must have required a good memory to retain in their due order. At the old tohunga’s side was part of a man’s skull filled with water. Into this from time to time he dipped a green branch, which he moved over the boy’s head. At my approach the old man smiled, as if to say. ‘See how clever I am,’ and continued his abracadabra.

“I have been assured by the missionaries that many of these prayers have no meaning; but this I am greatly inclined to doubt. The words of the prayers are perhaps the remains of a language now forgotten; or, what is more probable, we find here what has existed among most of the nations of antiquity, even the most civilized, viz: that religious mysteries were confined to a certain class of men, who kept them concealed from the profanum vulgus, or communicated only such portions of them as they thought fit.

“They often had a sacred symbolic language, the knowledge of which was confined to the priesthood, as, for instance, the Egyptian hieroglyphics and the Sanscrit; or, if we look nearer home, we find the religion of Thor, Odin, and Freya enveloped in a poetical mythos, which has for its foundation deep and grand philosophical conceptions of morals and ethics.”

It is a rather curious fact that, contrary to the usual custom of heathen priests, the tohungas did not oppose the Christian missionaries, but were among the first to receive the new religion. Some of them seem to have received it too hastily and without sufficient knowledge of its principles, as we see from the miserable travesty of Christianity which has sprung up of late years among the Maories, and which is in New Zealand what the system of Taeping is in China.

The priests are, as a rule, the most expert artists and woodcarvers in the country; so that the word “tohunga” is often applied by the natives to a man who is skilful in any art, no matter whether he be a priest or not.

The illustration No. 1, on the 860th page, is a portrait of a very celebrated tohunga, taken by Mr. Angas in 1844. His name was Te Ohu. The portrait was obtained during a great meeting of chiefs at Aluahu. Te Ohu distinguished himself greatly on this occasion, running about after the fashion of[858] Maori orators, shaking his long and grizzled locks from side to side, stamping furiously on the ground, and uttering his speech in a singularly deep and sonorous voice.

In the background of the sketch may be seen two remarkable articles. The one, which is the half of a canoe, stuck upright in the ground, marks the grave of a deceased chief; and the other is a pole, on which are hung a calabash of water and a basket of food, with which the spirit of the dead can refresh himself when he returns to visit the scene of his lifetime. Sometimes a dish of cooked pigeons is added; and in one case a model of a canoe, with its sail and paddles, was placed on the tomb, as a conveyance for the soul of the departed when he wished to cross the waters which lead to the eternal abodes of the spirit.

Concerning the state of the spirit after the death of the body the Maories seem to have very vague ideas. The sum of their notions on this subject is as follows:—They believe that the spirit of man is immortal, and that when it leaves the body it goes to the Reinga, or place of departed spirits. Shooting and falling stars are thought to be the souls of men going to this place. The entrance to the Reinga is down the face of a rocky cliff at Cape Maria Van Diemen. Lest the spirit should hurt itself by falling down this precipice, there is a very old tree which grows there, on which the spirits break their fall. One particular branch was pointed out as being the portion of the tree on which the spirits alighted.

One of the missionaries cut off this branch, and in consequence the natives do not regard it with quite so much awe as they did in former days. Still Dr. Dieffenbach remarks that, when he visited the islands, they held the spot in great veneration, and not even the Christian natives would go near it.

All spirits do not enter the Reinga in the same manner, those of chiefs ascending first the upper heavens, where they leave the left eye, which becomes a new star. For this reason, if a chief is killed in war, his left eye is eaten by the chief of the victorious party, who thinks that he has thus incorporated into his own being the courage, skill, and wisdom of the dead man.

Spirits are not considered as imprisoned in the Reinga, but are able to leave it when they please, and to return to the scene of their former life. They can also hold converse with their friends and relatives, but only through the tohungas. Sometimes, but very rarely, the tohunga sees the spirit; and even then it is only visible as a sunbeam or a shadow. The voice of the spirit is a sort of low whistling sound, like a slight breeze, and is sometimes heard by others beside the tohunga. He, however, is the only one who can understand the mysterious voice and can interpret the wishes of the dead to the living.

As to the life led by departed spirits, the Maories seem to have no idea; neither do they seem to care. They have a notion that in Reinga the kumeras, or sweet potatoes, abound; but beyond that tradition they appear to know nothing.

As to the malevolent spirits, or wairuas, the same cloudy indefiniteness of ideas seems to prevail. The word wairua signifies either the soul or a dream, and is mostly used to signify the spirit of some deceased person who desires to act malevolently toward the living. Such spirits are supposed to haunt certain spots, which are in consequence avoided by the New Zealander. Mountains are especial objects of his veneration, and those which are lofty enough to have their tops covered with perpetual snow are specially feared. He fancies that they are inhabited by strange and monstrous animals, that fierce birds of huge size sit continually on their whitened tops, and that every breeze which blows from them is the voice of the spirit which haunts it.

In consequence of these superstitions, the natives can no more be induced to ascend one of these mountains than to approach a burial ground. They have a curious legend about the Tongariro and Mount Egmont, saying that they were originally brother and sister, and lived together, but that they afterward quarrelled and separated. There is another strange legend of a spot near Mount Egmont. Owing to the nature of the ground, a strong chemical action is constantly taking place, which gives out great quantities of sulphuretted hydrogen gas. The natives say that in former days an Atua was drowned near the spot, and that ever since that time his body has been decomposing.

As to the idols of the New Zealanders, it is very doubtful whether they ever existed. There are, it is true, many representations of the human form, which are popularly supposed to be idols. It was formerly supposed that the green jade ornaments, called “tikis,” which are worn suspended from the neck, were idols; but it is now known that they are merely ornaments, deriving their sole value from being handed down from one generation to another.

Three examples of the so-called idols are here given. One of them is remarkable for its gigantic proportions and curious shape. It is about sixteen feet in height, and instead of consisting of a single human figure, as is usually the case, the enormous block of wood is carved into the semblance of two figures, one above the other. This arrangement is not uncommon in New Zealand, and is found also in Western Africa. I possess a walking staff of both countries, which are composed of several human figures, each upon the other’s head. The New Zealand staff will be presently described and figured.


(See page 857.)

(See page 861.)

(See page 861.)


This gigantic tiki stands, together with several others, near the tomb of the daughter of Te Whero-Whero, and, like the monument which it seems as it were to guard, is one of the finest examples of native carving to be found in New Zealand. The precise object of the tiki is uncertain; but the protruding tongue of the upper figure seems to show that it is one of the numerous defiant statues which abound in the islands. The natives say that the lower figure represents Maui, the Atua who, according to Maori tradition, fished up the islands from the bottom of the sea.

As may be seen in the illustration No. 2, on the preceding page, nearly the whole of both figures is carved with most elaborate curved patterns, which descend over the arms, and adorn those parts of the statue which do duty for hips. A portion of the paling of Raroera Pah is seen in the background, and around the tiki grow many plants of the phormium, or New Zealand flax.

Near this wonderful and mysterious piece of carving stand several others, all of the ordinary type. Two such tikis are shown in the illustration No. 3, opposite, drawn from sketches taken at Whakapokoko. Although not quite so large as the double tiki of Raroera, they are of very great size, as may be seen by contrasting them with the figure of the woman who is standing by one of them.

The firmest belief in witchcraft prevails in New Zealand, though not to such an extent as in many parts of Africa. In cases of illness for which no ordinary cause can be discovered, especially if the patient be of high rank, “makuta,” or witchcraft, is always suspected. If a chief, for example, fancies that he has been bewitched, he thinks over the names of those who are likely to have a spite against him, and pitches upon some unfortunate individual, who is thereby doomed to death. One curious example of such a murder is related by Mr. Angas.

He met a party of natives, who told him that a woman, a relation of the chief Ngawaka, had been shot by another chief, who suspected that she had bewitched his son. The young man had been taken ill, and, though the woman in question did her best to cure him, he died. His father took it into his head that she had killed him by her incantations, and, after loading his musket with a stick, shot her through the body. As, however, she was the relation of Ngawaka, it was expected that the chief would demand compensation for her death, and that the murderer would have to pay a very heavy sum. This sort of compensation is called “taua.”

There are several modes of witchcraft; but that which is most practised is performed by digging a hole in the ground and invoking the spirit of the person who is to be bewitched. After the incantations are said, the invoked spirit appears above the hole like a flickering light, and is then solemnly cursed by the witch. Sometimes, instead of digging a hole, the witch goes by night to the river bank, and there invokes the spirit, who appears as a flame of fire on the opposite bank.

Dr. Dieffenbach gives rather a curious account of a district named Urewera, which is supposed to be the special abode of witches. It is situated in the northern island, between Taupo and Hawkes’ Bay, and consists of steep and barren hills. The inhabitants of this district are few and scattered, and have the reputation of being the greatest witches in the country.

“They are much feared, and have little connection with the neighboring tribes, who avoid them, if possible. If they come to the coast, the natives there scarcely venture to refuse them anything, for fear of incurring their displeasure. They are said to use the saliva of the people whom they intend to bewitch, and visitors carefully conceal it, to give them no opportunity of working them evil. Like our witches and sorcerers of old, they appear to be a very harmless people, and but little mixed up with the quarrels of their neighbors.

“It is a curious fact that many of the old settlers in the country have become complete converts to the belief in these supernatural powers. Witchcraft has been the cause of many murders: a few days before I arrived at Aotea, on the western coast, three had been committed, in consequence of people declaring on their deathbeds that they had been bewitched....

“It is another curious fact, which has been noticed in Tahiti, Hawaii, and the islands inhabited by the great Polynesian race, that their first intercourse with Europeans produces civil wars and social degradation, but that a change of ideas is quickly introduced, and that the most ancient and deeply-rooted prejudices soon become a subject of ridicule to the natives, and are abolished at once. The grey priest, or tohunga, deeply versed in all the mysteries of witchcraft and native medical treatment, gives way in his attendance on the sick to every European who pretends to a knowledge of the science of surgery or medicine, and derides the former credulity of his patient.

“If a chief or his wife fall sick, the most influential tohunga, or a woman who has the odor of sanctity, attends, and continues day and night with the patient, sometimes repeating incantations over him, and sometimes sitting before the house and praying. The following is an incantation which is said by the priest as a cure for headache. He pulls out two stalks of the Pteris esculenta, from which the fibres of the root must be removed, and, beating them together over the head of the patient, says[862] this chant.”—The chant in question is as unintelligible as those which have already been mentioned. Its title is “A prayer for the dead (i. e. the sick man) when his head aches: to Atua this prayer is prayed, that he, the sick man, may become well.”

When a chief is ill, his relations assemble near the house and all weep bitterly, the patient taking his part in the general sorrowing; and when all the weeping and mourning has been got out of one village, the patient is often carried to another, where the whole business is gone over again. Should the sick person be of an inferior class, he goes off to the bush, and remains there until he is well again, choosing the neighborhood of a hot spring if he can find one, or, if no such spring is at hand, infusing certain herbs in boiling water and inhaling the steam.

As may be imagined from the practice which they have in cutting up the dead for their cannibal feasts, the Maories are good practical anatomists, and know well the position of all the principal organs and vessels of the body. Consequently, they can operate in cases of danger, using sharp-edged shells if they have no knives. They can also set broken limbs well, bringing the broken surfaces together, binding the limb with splints, laying it on a soft pillow, and surrounding it with a wickerwork contrivance in order to guard it against injury.


NEW ZEALAND—Continued.


We now come naturally to the custom of Tapu or Taboo, that extraordinary system which extends throughout the whole of Polynesia, modified slightly according to the locality in which it exists.

The general bearings of the law of tapu may be inferred from the sense of the word, which signifies prohibition. The system of tapu is therefore a law of prohibition, and, when stripped of the extravagances into which it often deteriorates, it is seen to be a very excellent system, and one that answers the purpose of a more elaborate code of laws. In countries where an organized government is employed the tapu is needless, and we find that even in those parts of the earth where it was once the only restrictive law it has fallen into disuse since regular government has been introduced.

Were it not for the law of tapu, an absolute anarchy would prevail in most parts of Polynesia, the tapu being the only guardian of property and morality. In order that it may be enforced on the people, the terrors of superstition are called into play, and, in the absence of secular law, the spiritual powers are evoked.

Unprotected by the tapu, property could not exist: protected by it, the most valued and coveted articles are safer than they would be in England or America despite the elaborate legal system that secures to every man that which is his own. In New Zealand, when a man has cultivated a field of kumeras, or sweet potatoes, he needs no fence and no watchman. He simply sends for the tohunga, who lays the tapu on the field; and from that moment no one save the owner will venture within its boundaries.

Sometimes a canoe is hauled up on the beach, and must be left there for some time unwatched. The owner need not trouble himself about securing his vessel. He has the tapu mark placed upon it, and the boat is accordingly held sacred to all except its possessor. Similarly, if a native boat-builder fixes on a tree which he thinks can be made into a canoe, he places the tapu on it, and knows that no one but himself will dare to cut it down. The mark of tapu in this case is almost invariably the removal of a strip of bark round the trunk of the tree.

Then the system of tapu is the only guardian of morals. It has been already mentioned that an extreme laxity in this respect prevails among the unmarried girls. But as soon as a girl is married she becomes tapu to all but her husband, and any one who induces her to become unfaithful must pay the penalty of the tapu if the delinquents be discovered. Nor is the tapu restricted to married women. It is also extended to young girls when they are betrothed; and any girl on whom the tapu has thus been laid is reckoned as a married woman.

It will be seen, therefore, that the principle of the tapu is a good one, and that it serves as protection both to property and morals. There are, of course, many instances[864] where this system has run into extravagances, and where, instead of a protection, it has developed into a tyranny.

Take, for example, the very praiseworthy idea that the life of a chief is most important to his people, and that his person is therefore considered as tapu. This is a proper and wholesome idea, and is conducive to the interests of law and justice. But the development of the system becomes a tyranny. The chief himself being tapu, everything that he touched, even with the skirt of his garment, became tapu, and thenceforth belonged to him. So ingrained is this idea that on one occasion, when a great chief was wearing a large and handsome mantle and found it too heavy for a hot day, he threw it down a precipice. His companion remonstrated with him, saying that it would have been better to have hung the mat on a bough, so that the next comer might make use of it. The chief was horror-struck at such an idea. It was hardly possible that a superior to himself should find the mat, and not likely that an equal should do so, and if an inferior were to wear it, he would at once die.

As the very contact of a chiefs garment renders an object tapu, à fortiori does his blood, and one drop of the blood of a chief falling upon even such objects as are free from the ordinary laws of tapu renders them his property. A curious example of the operation of this law occurred when a meeting of chiefs was called at the Taupo lake. As the principal man of the tribes, the celebrated chief Te Heu-heu was invited, and a new and beautifully carved canoe sent to fetch him. As he stepped into it, a splinter ran into his foot, inflicting a very slight wound. Every man leaped out of the canoe, which was at once drawn up on the beach and considered as the property of Te Heu-heu. Another canoe was procured, and in it the party proceeded on their journey.

Another kind of tapu takes place with regard to any object which is connected with the death of a native. If, for example, a Maori has fallen overboard from a canoe and been drowned, the vessel can never be used again, but is tapu. Or if a man commits suicide by shooting himself, as has already been mentioned, the musket is tapu. But in these cases the articles are tapu to the atuas, and not to men. Sometimes they are left to decay on the spot, no man daring to touch them, or they are broken to pieces, and the fragments stuck upright in the earth to mark the spot where the event occurred.

Sometimes this personal tapu becomes exceedingly inconvenient. The wife of an old and venerable tohunga had been ill, and was made tapu for a certain length of time, during which everything that she touched became tapu. Even the very ground on which she sat was subject to this law, and accordingly, whenever she rose from the ground, the spot on which she had sat was surrounded with a fence of small boughs stuck archwise into the earth, in order to prevent profane feet from polluting the sacred spot.

The most sacred object that a New Zealander can imagine is the head of the chief. It is so sacred that even to mention it is considered as an affront. Europeans have often given deadly offence through ignorance of this superstition, or even through inadvertence. Mr. Angas narrates a curious instance of such an adventure. A friend of his was talking to a Maori chief over his fence, and the conversation turned upon the crops of the year. Quite inadvertently he said to the chief, “Oh, I have in my garden some apples as large as that little boy’s head”—pointing at the same time to the chief’s son, who was standing near his father.

He saw in a moment the insult that he had offered, and apologized, but the chief was so deeply hurt that it was with the greatest difficulty that a reconciliation was brought about. The simile was a peculiarly unfortunate one. To use the head of a chiefs son as a comparison at all was bad enough, but to compare it to an article of food was about the most deadly insult that could be offered to a Maori. All food and the various processes of preparation are looked down upon with utter contempt by the free Maori, who leaves all culinary operations to the slaves or “cookies.”

One of the very great chiefs of New Zealand was remarkable for his snowy white hair and beard, which gave him a most venerable aspect. He was held in the highest respect, and was so extremely sacred a man that his head might only be mentioned in comparison with the snow-clad top of the sacred mountain.

The same traveller to whom we are indebted for the previous anecdote relates a curious story illustrative of this etiquette. There was a certain old chief named Taonui, who was in possession of the original suit of armor which was given by George IV. to E’ Hongi when he visited England. “The subsequent history of this armor is somewhat curious. It passed from the Nga Puis to Tetori and from Tetori to Te Whero-Whero at the Waikato feast, and came into Taonui’s hands under the following circumstances.

“On the death of a favorite daughter Te Whero-Whero made a song, the substance of which was, that he would take off the scalps of all the chiefs except Ngawaka, and fling them into his daughter’s grave to avenge her untimely death. The words of this song highly insulted the various individuals against whom it was directed, more especially as it was a great curse for the[865] hair of a chief, which is sacred, to be thus treated with contempt. But the only chief who dared to resent this insult from so great a man as Te Whero-Whero was Taonui, who demanded a ‘taua,’ or gift, as recompense for the affront, and received the armor of E’ Hongi in compensation.

“I made a drawing of the armor, which was old and rusty. It was of steel, inlaid with brass, and, though never worn by the possessors in battle—for it would sadly impede their movements—it is regarded with a sort of superstitious veneration by the natives, who look upon it as something extraordinary.”

A chief’s head is so exceedingly sacred that, if he should touch it with his own fingers, he may not touch anything else without having applied the hand to his nostrils and smelt it so as to restore to the head the virtue which was taken out of it by the touch. The hair of a chief is necessarily sacred, as growing upon his head. When it is cut, the operation is generally confided to one of his wives, who receives every particle of the cut hair in a cloth, and buries it in the ground. In consequence of touching the chief’s head, she becomes tapu for a week, during which time her hands are so sacred that she is not allowed to use them. Above all things, she may not feed herself, because she would then be obliged to pollute her hands by touching food, and such a deed would be equivalent to putting food on the chief’s head—a crime of such enormity that the mind of a Maori could scarcely comprehend its possibility.

When engaged in his explorations in New Zealand, and employed in sketching every object of interest which came in his way, Mr. Angas found this notion about the chief’s head to be a very troublesome one. He was not allowed to portray anything connected with food with the same pencil with which he sketched the head of a chief, and to put a drawing of a potato, a dish for food, or any such object, into the same portfolio which contained the portrait of a chief, was thought to be a most fearful sacrilege.

The artist had a narrow escape of losing the whole of his sketches, which a chief named Ko Tarui wanted to burn, as mixing sacred with profane things. They were only rescued by the intervention of Te Heu-heu, a superstitious old savage, but capable of seeing that the white man had meant no harm. Warned by this escape, Mr. Angas always made his drawings of tapu objects by stealth, and often had very great difficulty in eluding the suspicious natives.

Even the carved image of a chief’s head is considered as sacred as the object which it represents. Dr. Dieffenbach relates a curious instance of this superstition.

“In one of the houses of Te Puai, the head chief of all the Waikato, I saw a bust, made by himself, with all the serpentine lines of the moko, or tattooing. I asked him to give it to me, but it was only after much pressing that he parted with it. I had to go to his house to fetch it myself, as none of his tribe could legally touch it, and he licked it all over before he gave it to me; whether to take the tapu off, or whether to make it more strictly sacred, I do not know. He particularly engaged me not to put it into the provision bag, nor to let it see the natives at Rotu-nua, whither I was going, or he would certainly die in consequence.

“Payment for the bust he would not take; but he had no objection to my making him a present of my own free will: which I accordingly did, presenting him and his wife with a shirt each.”

Once the natives were very angry because Mr. Angas went under a cooking shed, having with him the portfolio containing the head of Te Heu-heu. Even his hands were tapu because they had painted the portrait of so great a chief, and he was subjected to many annoyances in consequence. Finding that the tapu was likely to become exceedingly inconvenient, he put a stop to further encroachments by saying that, if the people made any more complaints, he would put Te Heu-heu’s head into the fire. This threat shocked them greatly, but had the desired effect.

Sometimes this sanctity of the chief is exceedingly inconvenient to himself. On one occasion, when Mr. Angas was visiting the chief Te Whero-Whero, he found the great man superintending the plantation of a kumera ground and the erection of a house for himself. Rain was falling fast, but the old chief sat on the damp ground, wrapped up in his blanket, and appearing to be entirely unconcerned at the weather, a piece of sail-cloth over the blanket being his only defence.

He did not rise, according to the custom of the old heathen chiefs, who will sometimes sit for several days together, in a sort of semi-apathetic state. To the request that his portrait might be taken Te Whero-Whero graciously acceded, and talked freely on the all important subject of land while the painter was at work. Finding the rain exceedingly unpleasant, the artist suggested that they had better move into a house. The old chief, however, knowing that he could not enter a house without making it his property by reason of contact with his sacred person, declined to move, but ordered a shelter to be erected for the white man. This was done at once, by fastening a blanket to some upright poles: and so the portrait was completed, the painter under cover and the sitter out in the rain.

Localities can be rendered tapu, even those which have not been touched by the person who lays the tapu upon them. The chief Te Heu-heu, for example, was pleased to declare the volcano Tongariro under the[866] tapu, by calling it his backbone, so that not a native would dare approach it, nor even look at it, if such an act could be avoided. Mr. Angas was naturally desirous of visiting this mountain, but found that such a scheme could not be carried out. He offered blankets and other articles which a New Zealander prizes; but all to no purpose, for the tapu could not be broken. The chief even tried to prevent his white visitors from travelling in the direction of the mountain, and only gave his consent after ordering that the sacred Tongariro should not even be looked at. So deeply is this superstition engraven in the heart of the New Zealander, that even the Christian natives are afraid of such a tapu, and will not dare to approach a spot that has thus been made sacred by a tohunga. Reasoning is useless with them; they will agree to all the propositions, admit the inference to be drawn from them, and then decline to run so terrible a risk.

One of the finest examples of native architecture was made tapu by this same chief, who seems to have had a singular pleasure in exercising his powers. It was a pah called Waitahanui, and was originally the stronghold of Te Heu-heu. It is on the borders of the lake, and the side which fronts the water is a full half-mile in length. It is made, as usual, of upright posts and stakes, and most of the larger posts are carved into the human form, with visages hideously distorted, and tongues protruded seaward, as if in defiance of expected enemies.

Within this curious pah were the cannibal cook-houses which have already been figured, together with several of the beautifully carved patukas or receptacles for the sacred food of the chief. Specimens of these may be seen figured on page 831. In this pah Mr. Angas found the most elaborate specimen of the patuka that he ever saw. It was fortunate that he arrived when he did, as a very few years more would evidently complete the destruction of the place. Many of the most beautiful implements of native art were already so decayed that they were but a shapeless heap of ruins, and the others, were rapidly following in the same path. Of these specimens of Maori carving and architecture nothing is now left but the sketches from which have been made the illustrations that appear in this work.

Here I may be allowed to controvert a popular and plausible fallacy, which has often been brought before the public. Travellers are blamed for bringing to England specimens of architecture and other arts from distant countries. It is said, and truly too, that such articles are out of place in England. So they are: but it must be remembered that if they had not been in England they would not have been in existence. The marvellous sarcophagus, for example, brought to London by Belzoni, and now in the Soane Museum, would have been broken to pieces and hopelessly destroyed if it had been allowed to remain in the spot where it was found.

Again, had not the Assyrian sculptures found a home in the British Museum, they would have been knocked to pieces by the ignorant tribes who now roam over the ruins of Nineveh the Great. Even had the vast statues defied entire destruction, the inscriptions would long ago have been defaced, and we should have irreparably lost some of the most valuable additions to our scanty knowledge of chronology.

So again with the Elgin Marbles. Undoubtedly they were more in their place in Greece than they are in England; but, if they had not been brought to England, the iconoclastic hand of the Mussulman would have utterly destroyed them, and the loss to art would have been indeed terrible.

Thus is it with regard to the specimens of savage art, no matter in what way it is developed. Taking New Zealand as an example, there is not in England a single specimen of a Maori house. It could be easily taken to pieces and put together again; it is peculiarly valuable to ethnologists on account of the extraordinary mixture which it displays of ancient Egyptian architecture and ancient Mexican art; and in a very few years there will not be a single specimen of aboriginal architecture in the whole of New Zealand. The Maories, who have abandoned the club for the rifle, the mat for the blanket, and even the blanket for the coat and trousers, have begun to modify their ancient architecture, and to build houses after the European models.

Unless, therefore, means be taken to rescue specimens of Maori architecture from destruction, it is much to be doubted whether in twenty years’ time from the present date a single specimen will exist as a type of native art. So it is with the canoes. Graceful, picturesque, and adorned with the finest specimens of Maori art, the canoes were unique among vessels. At the present day the more useful but more commonplace whaleboat has superseded the canoe, and in a few years the elaborately decorated vessels of the Maories will have utterly passed away.

We may be sure that the tide of civilization is sweeping so rapidly over the world, that a very few years will see the end of savage life in all lands to which the white man can gain access. The relics of the ancient mode of life are left by the natives to perish, and, unless they are rescued, and brought to a country where they can be preserved, they will necessarily vanish from the face of the earth. Having this idea in my own mind, I set myself some years ago to collect articles of daily use from all parts[867] of the world. The light which they throw upon anthropology is really astonishing, and, among some eight or nine hundred specimens, there is not one that does not tell its own story.

Take, for example, the stone merai that lies before me. What a tale does it not tell of the country where it was found, and of the workman who made it! The stone shows that it was obtained from a volcanic country; the short, weighty form of the weapon shows that it was made for a courageous race who fought hand to hand; and the graceful curves and perfect balance of the weapon show that the maker was a true artist. More than that. The merai has been made by rubbing it with another stone, and must have occupied years of labor. See, then, what a tale this weapon tells us—the volcanic region, the courageous warrior, and the worthlessness of time. Year after year the man must have worked at that merai, bending his tattooed face over it, balancing it in his hand, and watching its soft curves grow into perfection. Then, after it was made, he has evidently carried it about with him, fought with his foes, and dashed out their brains with its once sharp and now notched edge. Afterward, when he, or may be his grandson, came to fight against the white men, their fire-arms were too terrible to be opposed, and the merai was taken from the hand of the dead warrior as he lay on the field of battle, its plaited cord still round his wrist. Nevermore will a stone merai be made, and before very long the best examples of Maori weapons will be found in English museums.

We will now return to the subject of the tapu. Useful as it may be as a guardian of property, it often exaggerates that duty, and produces very inconvenient results. For example, some travellers were passing through the country, and were hungry and wearied, and without food. Very opportunely there came in sight a fine pig; but the animal contrived to run across a piece of ground which was tapu, and in consequence became tapu itself for a certain number of days, and could not be eaten.

There are thousands of such tapu spots in the country. If, for example, a great chief has been travelling, every place where he sits to rest is tapu, and is marked by a slight fence of sticks. In many cases, each of these sacred spots has its own name. The same is the case when the body of a chief is carried to his own pah for burial, every resting place of the bearers becoming tapu. Therefore nothing was more likely than to come across one of these tapu spots, or more easy than for the pig to break through its slight fence.

A curious modification of the tapu took place before and after a battle. The tohunga assembled the warriors of his own party, and went with them to the lake or river, which had been made tapu for the purpose. The men then threw off all their clothing, and went into the water, which they scooped up with their hands and threw over their heads and bodies. The priest then recited the appropriate incantation.

Thus the battle tapu was laid upon the warriors, who were thereby prohibited from undertaking any other business except that of fighting, and were supposed, moreover, to be under the protection of the gods. This tapu was most strictly regarded, and the warriors had to learn quite a long list of occupations which were forbidden to them, such as carrying a load, cutting their own hair, touching the head of a woman, and so forth.

After the fighting is over, it is necessary that the tapu should be taken off from the survivors, so that they should be enabled to return to their usual mode of life. This ceremony is rather a complicated one, and varies slightly in different parts of the country. The chief features, however, are as follows:—

Each man who had killed an enemy, or taken a slave, pulled off a lock of hair from the victim, and retained it as a trophy. They then went in a body to the tohunga, and gave him a portion of the hair. This he tied on a couple of little twigs, raised them high above his head, and recited the incantation; after which the whole body joined in the war song and dance. This being over, the warriors clapped their hands together and struck their legs, that act being supposed to take off the tapu which had been contracted by imbruing them in the blood of the enemy.

The war party then goes home, and a similar ceremony is undergone in the presence of the principal tohunga of their pah, the hands being clapped and the war dance performed. The remainder of the hair is given to the tohunga, who, after reciting his incantation, flings the tuft of hair away, and ends by another incantation, which declares that the tapu is taken away.

As a general rule, the tapu can only be taken off by the person who imposed it; but if a man imposed a tapu on anything, another who was very much his superior would not have much scruple in breaking through it. By courtesy the tapu was mostly respected by great and small alike, and, by courtesy also, the very great men often put themselves to great inconvenience by refraining from actions that would lay the tapu on the property of inferiors. Thus we have seen how a chief refused to enter a house, lest he should render it his property, and preferred to sit in the pouring rain, rather than run the risk of depriving an inferior of his property.

Should an object become tapu by accident, the tohunga can take off the tapu and restore the object to use. A curious instance[868] of the exercise of this power is related by a traveller. A white man, who had borrowed an iron pot for cooking, wanted some soft water, and so he placed the pot under the eaves of a house from which the rain was running. Now, the house happened to be tapu, and in consequence the water running from it made the pot tapu. It so happened that a woman, who was ignorant of the circumstance, used the pot for cooking, and when she was told that the vessel was tapu she was greatly frightened, declaring that she would die before night. In this difficulty a tohunga came to her relief, repeated an incantation over the vessel, and made it “noa,” or common, again.

Sometimes the tapu only lasts for a period, and, after that time has elapsed, expires without the need of any ceremony. Thus, if a person who is tapu by sickness is touched by another, the latter is tapu for a definite time, usually three days. If a sick person dies inside a house, that house is ipso facto, tapu and may never again be used. It is painted with red ochre, as a sign of its sanctity, and is left to decay. In consequence of this superstition, when the patient seems likely to die, he is removed from the house, and taken to a spot outside the pah, where a shed is built for his reception.

It will be seen from the foregoing account how great is the power of the tapu, and how much it adds to the power of the chiefs. Indeed, without the power of tapu, a chief would be but a common man among his people—he would be liable to the tapu of others, and could not impose his own. The tapu is one of the chief obstacles against the spread of Christianity. Knowing that the missionaries treat the tapu as a mere superstition, the great chiefs do not choose to embrace a religion which will cause them to lose their highest privilege, and would deprive them of the one great power by which they exercise their authority.

Mr. Williams, the well-known missionary, sums up the subject of the tapu in very bold and graphic language:—“It is the secret of power, and the strength of despotic rule. It affects things both great and small. Here it is seen tending a brood of chickens, and there it directs the energies of a kingdom. Its influence is variously diffused. Coasts, islands, rivers, and seas; animals, fruit, fish, and vegetables; houses, beds, pots, cups, and dishes; canoes, with all that belong to them, with their management; dress, ornaments, and arms; things to eat and things to drink; the members of the body; the manners and customs; language, names, temper; and even the gods also; all come under the influence of the tapu.

“It is put into operation by religious, political, or selfish motives; and idleness lounges for months beneath its sanction. Many are thus forbidden to raise their hands or extend their arms in any useful employment for a long time. In this district it is tapu to build canoes; on that island it is tapu to erect good houses. The custom is much in favor among chiefs, who adjust it so that it sits easily on themselves, while they use it to gain influence over those who are nearly their equals; by it they supply many of their wants, and command at will all who are beneath them. In imposing a tapu, a chief need only be checked by a care that he is countenanced by ancient precedents.”


NEW ZEALAND—Concluded.


We now come to the ceremonies that belong to funerals.

When a chief, or indeed any Rangatira, dies, his friends and relations deck the body in the finest clothes which the deceased had possessed in his lifetime, lay it out, and assemble round it for the customary mourning. The women are the chief mourners, and indulge in the most demonstrative, not to say ostentatious, ebullitions of grief. Sometimes they squat upon the ground, their bodies and faces wrapped in their mantles, as if utterly overpowered by grief. Sometimes they wave their arms in the air, shaking their hands with expressive gestures of sorrow; and all the while they utter loud wailing cries, while the tears stream down their cheeks.

Much of this extravagant sorrow is necessarily feigned, according to the custom of New Zealand life, which demands tears on so many occasions; but there is no doubt that much is real and truly felt. The women cut themselves severely with shells, making incisions in the skin several inches in length. These incisions are filled with charcoal, as if they had been part of the regular moko or tattoo, and become indelible, being, in fact, perpetual records of sorrow. Some of these women cut themselves with such severity, that in their old age they are covered with the thin blue lines of the “tangi,” their faces, limbs, and bodies being traversed by them in rather a ludicrous manner. The tangi lines might be mistaken for regular tattooing, except for one point. They have no pattern, and instead of being curved, as is always the case with the moko, they are straight, about two inches in length, and run parallel to each other.

They address long speeches to the dead man, enumerating his many virtues, his courage, his liberality, the strength of his tapu, and so forth, mixed with reproaches to him for dying and going away from them when they stood in such need of him. Indeed, the whole of the proceedings, with the exception of cutting the skin, are very like those of an Irish wake.

In the illustration No. 1, on the 872nd page, are shown these various ceremonies. The dead body of the chief is lying under the shed, wrapped in the best mantle, and with a coronal of feathers in the hair. In the front sits a chief, whose rank is denoted by his hani, or staff of office, that lies by him, and by the elaborate mantle in which he has wrapped himself. Standing near the corpse is one of the mourners, with arms upraised and hands quivering, while others are seen sitting in various attitudes of woe. The fence of the pah is shown in the background, with its grotesque images and curious architecture.

When the old people attend a funeral, they usually paint themselves freely with red ochre, and wear wreaths of green leaves upon their heads. The house in which the death took place is rendered tapu until the body is finally disposed of—an event which does not take place for some time.

After the mourning ceremonies have been[870] completed, the body is placed in a sort of coffin and allowed to decay, the green jade merai, the tiki, the hani, and other emblems of rank being placed with the corpse. In some parts of the country this coffin is canoe-shaped, and suspended to the branches of a tree, certain places being kept sacred for this purpose. There existed, for example, several graves belonging to the Nga-pui tribe, which had been preserved on account of the sacred character which belonged to them. The natives had long abandoned the custom of hanging the coffins of the dead on the trees, but the sacred character still clung to them, and, though the woods in that part of the country had been felled, the sacred groves were allowed to flourish unharmed.

Sometimes the body of a very great chief was placed in a wooden receptacle in the midst of the pah, called the waki-tapu, and there allowed to decay. As might be expected, a most horrible odor is disseminated through the pah during the process of decomposition; but the inhabitants do not seem to trouble themselves, their nostrils not being easily offended. For example, when a whale is thrown ashore, the stench of the huge mass of decomposition is so overpowering that an European cannot endure it. The natives, however, say that they are used to it, and do not notice it. Indeed, people who can eat the horrible messes of putrid maize of which they are so fond must be so obtuse of scent as to be indifferent to any ill odor.

Be it as it may, in time the process of decay is supposed to be complete,—seven or eight months being the usual time. A curious ceremony, called the “hahunga,” then takes place. The friends and relatives of the deceased chief are again assembled, and the bones are solemnly taken from their receptacle and cleaned. The person who cleans them is necessarily tapu, but is rendered “noa,” or common again, by the eldest son and daughter of the deceased chief eating of the sacred food offered to the dead. Should the eldest girl happen to be dead, the food is placed in a calabash, and laid in the now empty coffin, the spirit of the girl being called by name, and the food offered to her. The spirit is supposed to partake of the food; and the tapu is thus removed as effectually as if she were alive, and had visibly eaten the provisions. Should the chief have had no daughter, the nearest female relative takes the office. The usual orations are made in honor of the deceased and the merai, tiki, and other ornaments of the dead chief are then handed over to his eldest son, who thus takes possession of the post which his father had vacated, the ceremony being analogous to a coronation among Europeans.

When the celebrated chief E’ Hongi, the “Scourge of New Zealand,” as he has been called, died, his children were so afraid that they would be attacked by those whom the terror of his name had kept quiet, that they wanted to omit the preliminary orations and “tangi,” and to lay his body in the “waki-tapu,” or sacred place, on the day after his death. This intention was, however, overruled, chiefly in consequence of the foresight of the dying chief.

Feeling that his end was close at hand, he rallied his sons round him, sent for all his warlike stores, the merais, patus, muskets, ammunition, and, above all, the armor which he had received from George IV., and bequeathed them to his children. He was asked what “utu,” or satisfaction, should be exacted for his death, but replied that the only utu which his spirit would desire was, that his tribe should be valiant, and repel any attack that might be made upon them. But for this really noble sentiment, there would have been great slaughter at his death, in order to furnish attendants for him.

That his tribe should for the future be valiant, and repel the attacks of their enemies, was the ruling idea in E’ Hongi’s mind; and on March 6, 1828, he died, continually repeating the words, “Kia toa! kia toa!”—i. e. “Be valiant! be valiant!”

After the ceremony of cleaning the bones is over, they are taken by the principal tohunga, or priest, who generally disposes of them in some secret spot sacred to the remains of dead chiefs, and known only to himself. Sometimes, however, they are laid in beautifully carved boxes, which are supported on posts in the middle of the pah.

Sometimes the waki-tapu, or sacred place in which the body of a chief is placed while it undergoes decomposition, is marked in a very curious manner, and the entire village deserted for a time. For example, at the pah of Huriwenua, the chief had died about six weeks before Mr. Angas arrived at the place, which he found deserted. “Not far from this island pah stood the village of Huriwenua, the gaily-ornamented tomb of the late chief forming a conspicuous object in the centre. Here, although everything was in a state of perfect preservation, not a living soul was to be seen; the village, with its neat houses made of raupo, and its courtyards and provision boxes, was entirely deserted. From the moment the chief was laid beneath the upright canoe, on which were inscribed his name and rank, the whole village became strictly tapu, or sacred, and not a native, on pain of death, was permitted to trespass near the spot. The houses were all fastened up, and on most of the doors were inscriptions denoting that the property of such an one remained there.

“An utter silence pervaded the place. After ascertaining that no natives were in the vicinity of the forbidden spot, I landed, and trod the sacred ground; and my footsteps were probably the first, since the desertion of the village, that had echoed along its palisaded passages.


(See page 869.)

(See page 873.)


“On arriving at the tomb, I was struck with the contrast between the monument of the savage and that of the civilized European. In the erection of the latter, marble and stone and the most durable of metals are employed, while rapidly decaying wood, red ochre, and feathers form the decorations of the Maori tomb. Huriwenua having been buried only six weeks, the ornaments of the waki-tapu, or sacred place, as those erections are called, were fresh and uninjured. The central upright canoe was richly painted with black and red, and at the top was written the name of the chief; above which there hung in clusters, bunches of kaka feathers, forming a large mass at the summit of the canoe. A double fence of high palings, also painted red, and ornamented with devices in arabesque work, extended round the grave, and at every fastening of flax, where the horizontal rails were attached to the upright fencing, were stuck two feathers of the albatross, the sunny whiteness of which contrasted beautifully with the sombre black and red of the remainder of the monument.”

One of these tombs may be seen in the background of illustration No. 1, on p. 860, containing the portrait of an old priest, and another is shown in the view of a village which will be given on a future page.

Within the pah is often erected a monument or mausoleum of the dead. A very beautiful example of this kind of tomb was erected in the pah of Rangihaeta to the memory of E’ Toki, the mother of Raupahara.

It was nearly semi-circular in shape, and the body was placed in it in an upright position. It was covered with a roof, squared at the corners, and projecting like a verandah all round, and sloping toward the back. The central tomb, the roof, and the posts which supported it, were all covered with the most elaborate arabesque pattern, mostly of a spiral character. Paint was liberally used on it, that on the central tomb or coffin being red and white, while that which decorated the roof and posts was red and black. In front of the projecting roof was hung the beautifully woven kaitaka mat of the deceased woman, and tufts of the white feathers of the albatross were arranged at regular intervals upon it.

Even when Mr. Angas saw this beautiful example of Maori art, it was beginning to decay, the climate being damp, and the natives never repairing a decaying tomb. It was, of course, strictly tapu. No native liked to go close to it, and for a slave, or even a free man of inferior rank, to go within a certain distance of it would have been a crime punishable with instant death.

I have much pleasure in presenting on the preceding page an illustration of this beautiful monument of Maori art, taken from a drawing made by Mr. Angas in 1844, while the perishable materials of which the tomb was made were yet in tolerable preservation. Under the carved and decorated roof may be seen the semicircular coffin in which the body had been placed, distinguished from the outer portion of the tomb by the red and white colors with which it was painted, in contrast to the red and black of the outer portions. The reader will notice that red is the prevalent color in all tombs, because red is the hue of mourning as well as of war among the Maories. Immediately under the eaves of the front may be seen the highly ornamented border of the kaitaka mat once worn by the deceased, and now left to decay upon her tomb.

Round the tomb itself runs a slight and low fence. This palisade, small as it might appear, afforded ample protection to the tomb, inasmuch as the whole space within it was rendered sacred by a tapu laid upon it by Raupahara, so that not even the highest chief would venture to enter the forbidden enclosure.

One of the finest specimens of carving in New Zealand—perhaps the finest in the whole country—is, or rather was, a mausoleum erected by Te Whero-Whero to his favorite daughter. It was upon the death of this daughter that Te Whero-Whero gave such dire offence to the other chiefs by threatening to throw their scalps into his daughter’s grave, for which offence he had to give up the celebrated armor of E’Hongi by way of fine.

The monument was erected in Raroera, formerly one of the largest and finest pahs in New Zealand, but rendered desolate by the act of the headstrong and determined chief. He had this wonderful tomb built for his daughter, and, as soon as her body was placed within it, he pronounced the whole pah to be tapu. It was at once deserted: old and young quitted the place, leaving everything behind them, the provisions to moulder and the weapons to decay. Solid houses that had occupied many years in building and carving were allowed to fall into mere shapeless heaps of ruins; and even in 1844 the rank vegetation had so completely overrun the place that many of the best pieces of native work were covered by the foliage.

The tomb is about twelve feet high, and consists of the usual box for the reception of the body, covered by a projecting roof, which is supported by pillars. Were it as graceful in form as the monument to E’ Toki, this would be by far the finest specimen of native art; but unfortunately it does not possess the bold outline and contrast of the curve and the straight line which are so characteristic of E’ Toki’s tomb.

The elaboration of the carving on this monument is so great that it almost baffles the skill of the draughtsman. Mr. Angas[874] succeeded in copying it, and when the drawing was shown to the artist who had executed the work he was astounded, and pronounced the white man to be a great tohunga. The roof is supported by pillars, each pillar consisting of two human figures, the upper standing on the head of the lower. The upper figure is about seven feet in height, and has a gigantic head, with an enormous protruding tongue that reaches to the breast.

The whole of the tomb is covered with human heads. Exclusive of those upon the posts, the front alone of the tomb contains fourteen faces, each differing from the other in expression and pattern of the moko, but all wearing the same defiant air. Their enormous eyes are made peculiarly conspicuous by being carved out of haliotis shell, carrying out on a large scale the plan adopted in the chiefs’ hanis and other sculptures. The whole of the space between the figures is covered with the most elaborate arabesques, intertwining with each other in a bewildering manner, but each running its own boldly curved course. Between the various pieces that compose this tomb are set bunches and tufts of white and green feathers, which serve to adorn as well as disguise the necessary seams of the woodwork.

This wonderful monument was entirely carved by one man, named Paranui. He was lame, and in consequence had expended his energies in art, in which he had so greatly distinguished himself that he took rank as a tohunga. He was equally celebrated as a tattooer; and it may well be imagined that a man who could design so extraordinary a piece of workmanship must be skilful in inventing the endless variety of patterns needful in the decoration of chief’s faces. In performing this work, Paranui had but one tool, the head of an old bayonet.

The loss of such specimens of native art as those which have been described carries out my former remarks on the necessity for removing to our own country every memorial of savage life that we can secure. We inflict no real injury upon the savages, and we secure an invaluable relic of vanishing customs. These monuments, for example, were simply carved and then left to decay. Had they been removed to this country, where they would have been guarded from the power of the elements and the encroachments of vegetation, we should have seen them in complete preservation at the present day, and likely to last as long as the building which contained them.

Of course the sentimental argument may be pleaded against this view of the case; but in matters which are of vital importance in the grand study of anthropology mere sentiment ought to have no place. Neither has it such place as some often imagine. The savage, finding that the white man yields to him on this point, is only too glad to find any vantage ground, and always presses on as fast as the other yields—just as has been done in India with the question of caste. We cannot measure their mental sensibilities any more than their physical by our own. A savage endures with stoicism tortures which would kill an European, simply because he does not feel them as much. And the mental and physical sensibilities are very much on a par.

The Maori is perhaps the finest savage race on the face of the earth, and yet we cannot think that he is exactly an estimable being, whose ambition is murder, and whose reward is to eat the body of his victim, who never does a stroke of work that he can avoid, and who leads a life of dissipation as far as his capabilities go. Of all savage nations, the New Zealander displays most sorrow for the loss of a friend or relation. Tears flow profusely from his eyes, and every tone of his voice and every gesture of his body convey the impression that he is borne down by unendurable woe. Yet we have seen that this effusion of sorrow is mostly premeditated, and merely a conventional mode of acting required by the etiquette of the country.

When two people can be bathed in tears, speak only in sobbing accents, utter heart-rending cries, and sink to the ground as overwhelmed by grief, we cannot but compassionate their sorrow and admire their sensibility. But if, in the middle of all these touching demonstrations of grief, we see them suddenly cease from their sobs and cries, enter into a little lively conversation, enjoy a hearty laugh, and then betake themselves afresh to their tears and sobs, we may take the liberty of doubting their sincerity.

So with those beautiful houses and monuments that are left to perish by neglect. The builder did in all probability feel very keenly at the time, though the feeling of grief seems sometimes to take a curious turn, and be metamorphosed into vengeance and an excuse for war; but it is very much to be doubted whether grief for the departed is a feeling that is really permanent in the savage mind. The Maori chief may lay his tapu on an entire village when a relative dies, and if, after the lapse of years, any one be rash enough to invade the forbidden precincts, he will visit the offence with instant punishment. But it must be remembered that the infringement of the tapu in question is not an insult to the dead but to the living, and that when the chief punishes the offender, he does not avenge an affront offered to his dead relative, but a direct insult to himself.

In spite of his sentiment, I think that the Maori might have been induced to sell such[875] specimens of art, and even if he refused to yield to such a proposition, he would have respected us none the less if, when we had captured a pah, we exercised the right of conquest, and took that which we could not buy. Or even supposing that the first idea had proved impracticable, and the second unadvisable, it would not have been very difficult to have induced a native artist to execute a duplicate which he could sell for a price which would enrich him for life.

Such sentiments are, I know, unpopular with the mass of those who only see the savage at a distance, which certainly, in the case of savage life, lends the only enchantment to the view that it can possess. But I believe them to be just and true, and know that the closer is our acquaintance with savage life, the more reason we have to be thankful for civilization. The savage knows this himself, and bitterly feels his inferiority. He hates and fears the white man, but always ends by trying to imitate him.

To return to these monuments. In former times they existed in great numbers, and even in more recent days those which survive are so characteristic of a style of art that may have taken its rise from ancient Mexico, that I should have been glad to transfer to these pages several more of Mr. Angas’ sketches.

It will be seen from several of the previous illustrations that the New Zealanders must possess much skill in architecture. The observant reader must have remarked that the art of house-building is practically wanting in Australia; and that such should be the case is most extraordinary, seeing that architectural skill is singularly developed among the great Polynesian families. The New Zealander, whose country has much in common with Australia, is remarkable for the skill and taste which he displays in architecture; and a short space will therefore be devoted to this subject.

As is the case throughout Polynesia in general, the material used in house-building is wood, and the various pieces of which a house is composed are fastened together not by nails, but by ropes and strings, which in many cases are applied in a most elaborate and artistic manner, beauty being studied not only in the forms of the houses and in the carved patterns with which they are adorned, but in the complicated lashings with which they are bound together. As, however, this branch of ornamental architecture is carried to a greater extent in Fiji than in New Zealand, I shall reserve the details for the description of the Fiji Islands.

The size of some of these edifices is very great. For example, in 1843 the Maori converts built for themselves a place of worship large enough to contain a thousand persons, and measuring eighty-six feet in length by forty-two in width. The size of this edifice was evidently determined by the length of the ridge-pole. This was cut from a single tree, and was dragged by the natives a distance of three miles. The cross-lashings of the building were all ornamental, giving to it a peculiar richness of finish.

We are, however, chiefly concerned with the domestic architecture of the Maories. Within each pah or enclosed village are a number of houses, each representing a family, and separated from each other by fences, several houses generally standing near each other in one enclosure. A full-sized house is about forty feet long by twenty wide, and is built on precisely the same principle as the tombs which have been just described, the actual house taking the position of the coffin, and being sheltered from the weather by a gable roof, which extends far beyond the walls, so as to form a sort of verandah. The roof is supported on separate posts, and does not, as with ourselves, rest upon the walls of the house. The roof always projects greatly at the principal end of the house, in which the door is situated, so that it forms a sort of shed, under which the members of the family can shelter themselves from the sun or rain without going into the house. A genuine New Zealander has a great love for fresh air, and, as we have seen, will composedly sit for a whole day on the wet ground in a pouring rain, although a house may be within easy reach. Yet at night, when he retires to rest, he is equally fond of shutting himself up, and of excluding every breath of fresh air.

Indeed, the native does not look upon a house as a place wherein to live, but merely as a convenient shelter from the elements by day and a comfortable sleeping-place by night. As soon as evening is near, a fire is lighted in the middle of the house, which fills it with smoke, as there is no chimney. The New Zealander, however, seems to be smoke-proof, and sits composedly in a place which would drive an European half mad with smarting eyes. Indeed, before the natives become inured to the acrid vapor, their eyes have much to endure, and it is to the habit of sitting in the smoke that the bleared look so prevalent in old people is chiefly due.

Not only do the natives thus surround themselves with a smoky atmosphere, but they limit its quantity as well as its quality. The number of men and women that will pack themselves into one house at night is almost incredible, each person lying down on a simple mat, and retaining the same clothes that have been worn during the day. As, however, the heat becomes excessive, the inmates generally contrive to throw off their clothing during the night. By daybreak the heat and closeness are almost stifling to an European, and it is rather an[876] amusing sight to see a hut give up its inmates on the morning of a cold day, the whole party being enveloped in steam as they come into the cold air.

At the principal end of the house, under the verandah, is the entrance. This strangely resembles the gate of an Egyptian temple, being made of three large beams, the two side posts slightly inclining to each other, and the third laid upon them. The aperture is closed by a sliding door, and at the side of the door is generally a square window, which can be closed in the same manner. In some large houses there were two of these windows, one on either side of the door.

As the roof is made with a considerable slant, the walls are seldom more than two or three feet high where the roof touches them, though in the middle the house is lofty enough. The roof is supported on the inside by one or two posts, which are always carved elaborately, and almost invariably have the human figure as one of the ornaments upon them. The ridge-pole is flattened and boardlike, and in good houses is carved and painted in patterns, usually of the spiral character. This board, as well as those which are used in different parts of the building, is made by hacking the trunk of a tree on both sides, until it is reduced to the required thickness, the native Maories having no tool which can answer the purpose of a saw.

At the end of the ridge-pole, over the door, is carved a distorted human figure, intended to represent the owner of the house, and recognized as such by the lines of the moko or tattoo on its face, and generally having the tongue thrust out to an inordinate extent.

An illustration on page 877 represents the most celebrated of all Maori houses, namely, the war house of the ruthless chief Rangihaeta, an edifice which fully expresses the ferocious character of the builder. These houses are designed by chiefs in honor of some great victory, and are surrounded with wooden figures, which either represent in derision the leading warriors of the enemy who have been killed, or the victorious chief and his own warriors in the act of defying and insulting the enemy by thrusting out their tongues at them. This house bears the ominous name of Kai-tangata, or Eat-man.

The illustration is taken from a sketch made by Mr. Angas, who describes the building as follows: “Kai-tangata, or Eat-man House, is a wooden edifice in the primitive Maori style, of large dimensions, with the door-posts and the boards forming the portico curiously and elaborately carved in grotesque shapes, representing human figures, frequently in the most indecent attitudes. The eyes are inlaid with pawa shell, and the tattooing of the faces is carefully cut. The tongues of all these figures are monstrously large, and protrude out of the mouth, as a mark of defiance toward their enemies who may approach the house. The whole of the carved work, as well as the wooden parts of the building, are colored red with kokowai, an ochre found principally on the side of the volcano of Taranaki.

“The portico or verandah of Rangihaeta’s house is about twelve feet deep, and the ridge-pole and frame boards of the roof are richly painted in spiral arabesques of black and red; the margin of each spiral being dotted with white spots, which add richness to the effect. The spaces between the woodwork are filled up with variegated reeds, beautifully arranged with great skill, and fastened together with strips of flax dyed red, and tied crosswise, so as to present the appearance of ornamental basketwork.

“Above the centre of the gable-roofed portico is fixed a large wooden head, elaborately tattooed, with hair and a beard fastened on, composed of dogs’ tails. Within the house is a carved image of most hideous aspect, that supports the ridge-pole of the roof. This is intended to represent the proprietor, and is said by the natives to be entirely the work of Rangihaeta’s own hand.”

This figure, together with the pole that issues from the head, may be seen in illustration No. 1, on page 809, which represents the interior of the house. On account of the circumstance recorded in the beginning of this description, the artist has been unable to draw a vast number of carvings which decorated this house, so that much of the extraordinary elaboration is necessarily omitted.

Rangihaeta displayed his merciless disposition in one of the unfortunate skirmishes which often took place between the Maories and the English, and which have afterward been equally regretted by both parties, the white men having generally offered an unintentional insult to the natives, and the latter having resented it in the heat of passion. On this occasion, a number of the white men had been captured by the Maories under the two chiefs Rangihaeta and Raupahara, who were related to each other by marriage, the former having married a daughter of the latter. Some time previously, this woman had been accidentally killed by a chance shot, which, as a matter of course, her relations insisted on considering as intentional.


(See page 876.)

(See page 879.)


While the prisoners and their capturers were standing together, another chief named Puatia tried to make peace, saying that the slain on both sides were about equal. His proposition was accepted, the lately opposing parties shook hands, and all would have gone well had they not been joined by Rangihaeta, who had been employing himself in the congenial task of killing all the wounded. He immediately demanded the lives of the prisoners, and when Raupahara refused to accede to his demand, Rangihaeta told him to remember his daughter. The bereaved chief was silent at this implied reproach, and, before he had time to collect his thoughts, Rangihaeta glided round the party, getting behind each of the captives as they stood among the Maories, and killed them successively with his merai. The ubiquitous land question was at the bottom of this sad business.

Houses like the Kai-tangata were formerly common, answering the purpose of the ancient trophies. A war house nearly as celebrated as that which has just been described was erected by Puatia, the chief of Otawhao Pah, in order to commemorate the capture of Maketu on the east coast. Since Puatia died, the whole of this splendid pah was rendered tapu, and, in consequence, the buildings within it were given up to decay. Mr. Angas was fortunate enough to secure a sketch of the war house before, like the rest of the buildings in the pah, it had entirely decayed.

The house itself is perhaps scarcely so neatly made as the Kai-tangata, but it derives great interest from the number of figures with which the beams, rafters, and posts are decorated. On either side of the verandah stand two huge wooden figures, which are intended to represent two chiefs who fell in battle, but who, as belonging to the victorious side, are represented with their tongues defiantly menacing the beaten enemy.

The figure that supports the central pole represents a chief who was one of the principal warriors at the capture of Maketu. At the height of six and ten feet respectively, on the same pole, are carvings which represent two other warriors, their moko, or tattoo, doing duty for the whole of the person. Still higher are a couple of figures representing warriors, the upper figure appearing to stand on the roof itself. Just within the upper part of the gable is the figure of Pokana, a warrior who was living at the time when the house was built, and who is represented with a pipe in his mouth. Around the house are numbers of similar figures, each representing some well-known individual, and having a signification which is perfectly well understood by the natives.

It was in this ruined pah of Otawhao that the disused wooden war-bell was found. The former owner, Puatia, was converted to Christianity before his death, and, while he lay sick within his pah, he had a school established for the purpose of disseminating Christianity, and used to call his people round him for the morning and evening prayers.

It has been mentioned that, owing to the contempt with which the Maories regard everything that pertains to the preparation of food, cooking is never carried on in the dwelling-houses. If possible, it is conducted in the open air; but when the weather is too wet or too windy, a shed is employed. These cooking sheds are built expressly for the purpose, and no one with any claims to rank ever enters within them. Were no shelter but a cooking shed to be found within miles, the Maori chief would not enter it, no matter how severe the weather might be.

The cooking sheds are built very simply, the sides or walls being purposely made with considerable interstices, so that the wind may pass freely between them. They are roofed with beams, over which is placed a thatch of the raupo rush. As, among other articles of diet, the putrid maize is prepared in these sheds, the European traveller is often glad to find that the abominable mess will be cooked at a distance from him.

Some of the larger pahs contain a great number of houses, and several of them are inhabited by at least two thousand people. Civilization has at the present day exercised great influence upon the pahs, and reduced them, as a rule, to fortresses rather than villages. In many districts the use of the pah has been practically abandoned, those natives who wish to be at peace devoting themselves to the cultivation of the ground and living in scattered houses, without caring for the protection of the fence.

The illustration No. 2, on page 877, is taken from a sketch by Mr. Angas, representing the interior of a pah as seen by him in 1844. One or two of the houses are seen scattered about, adorned with the grotesque figures of which the Maori is so fond, and having several of the inmates sitting under the shelter of the deep verandah. Rather in the background are one or two of the ingenious and beautifully carved storehouses, in which food is protected from the rats, and on one side is a great wooden tiki projecting from the ground. Just behind the large storehouse is seen the curious monument that marks the waki-tapu, or sacred burial-place of a chief, a half canoe being planted in the ground and painted with elaborate patterns in red, the color for mourning and war among the New Zealanders.

Groups of the natives may be seen scattered about, conspicuous among whom is the council that is sitting in the foreground, under the presidency of the seated chief, whose hani, or staff of office, marks his dignity. A slave woman is seen working at her task of beating the flax leaves; and wandering promiscuously about the pah, or lying comfortably asleep, are the pigs, with which every village swarms.

We now come to the tools with which the Maori performs all this wonderful amount of carpentering and carving.


Looking at the results, we might naturally fancy that the dusky architect possessed a goodly array of tools; but, in fact, his tools are as few and simple as his weapons, and may be practically considered as two, the adze and the chisel. On the next page an example of each is drawn, the artist having taken care to select the best and most valuable specimens; the blades being formed from the precious green jade, and the handles carved elaborately, so as to be worthy of the valuable material from which the blades are shaped.

As may be imagined, these tools cannot have very sharp edges given to them, as the brittleness of the stone would cause it to chip into an edge like that of a bad saw, and in consequence the worst iron axe is a far better tool than the best specimen of green stonework that a Maori ever made.

At No. 3 may be seen one of the common “tokis,” or stone axes, that were formerly so much used in building canoes. The specimen from which it is drawn is in my collection, and I have selected it for illustration because it gives so excellent an idea of the structure of the tool, and the mode of fastening the blade to the handle. This is achieved in a very ingenious manner, and although it scarcely seems possible to secure the requisite firmness by a mere lashing of string, the Maori workman has contrived to attach the blade as firmly as if it had been socketed.

This mode of fastening the blade to the handle prevails over the greater part of the Polynesian group, and, although the elaboration of the lashings varies considerably, the principle is exactly the same throughout. The same plan prevails even in Borneo, and there is in my collection a boat-builder’s adze, the iron blade of which is lashed to the socket in precisely the same manner, the only difference being that split rattan is employed instead of string. The reader will notice the peculiar shape of the adze-edge, which is exactly that of the incisor tooth of any rodent animal. Whether the maker intentionally copied the tooth is doubtful, but that he has done so is evident.

Tools such as these are necessarily imperfect; yet with these the Maories patiently executed the elaborate and really artistic designs which they once lavished on their dwellings, their canoes, their weapons, and their tools. They could not even make a walking stick but they must needs cover it with carvings. There is in my collection, and illustrated at fig. 4, a remarkably fine example of such a walking stick, called in the Maori tongue “toko-toko,” which was presented to me by Stiverd Vores, Esq. As the reader may see from the illustration it is ornamented with six complete human figures, and a human face on the knob of the handle. The portions of the stick that come between the figures are completely covered with carving, and the only plain surface is that which is intended to be grasped by the hand.

The six figures are in three pairs, set back to back, and those of each pair exactly resemble one another. A distinct gradation is observed in them, the uppermost pair having their faces most elaborately tattooed, the middle pair being less ornamented, and the lowermost pair having a comparatively simple tattoo. In the position of the heads there is also a distinction, which I believe to have some signification known to the carver. The upper pair have the left hand laid on the breast, and the right hand pressed to the lips; the middle pair have the left hand still on the breast, and the right fingers touching the throat; while the lower figures have both hands clasped on the breast.

All the figures are separated, except at the backs of the heads, the hips, and the heels, where they touch each other; so that the labor expended on this stick has been very great.

We now take farewell of this interesting race—a race which is fast waning away, and will soon perish altogether. No New Zealander will ever sit on the broken arches of London Bridge, and contemplate the ruins of St. Paul’s. The Maori is fast disappearing, and in a comparatively few years it is certain that not a Maori of pure blood will be found in the islands; and before a century has elapsed, even the characteristic tattoo will be a remembrance of the past, of which the only memorials will be the dried heads that have been preserved in European museums. It is pitiful that such a race should be passing away; but its decadence cannot be arrested, and in a short time the Maories will be as completely extinct as the people of the stone age, leaving nothing but their manufactures as memorials of their existence. Such memorials, therefore, ought to be sedulously preserved. Every piece of genuine native carving that can be found in New Zealand ought to be secured and brought to England, where it can be preserved for future ages, and, with the isolated specimens that are scattered in private houses throughout the country, ought to be gathered together in some central museum, where they can be accessible to all who interest themselves in the grand science of anthropology.


(See page 854.)

(See page 880.)

(See page 880.)

(See page 880.)




East of Australia is a tolerably large island known by the name of New Caledonia. It is of no very great extent, but is inhabited by a people who deserve a short notice in these pages.

The New Caledonians are nearly black in color, and in general form and appearance bear some resemblance to the aborigines of Tasmania. They are, however, better looking, and wear altogether a less savage aspect, probably on account of the comparatively regular supplies of food which they can obtain. They are of ordinary stature, but one man was seen who measured rather more than six feet in height. His form, however, was ill proportioned. They wear scarcely any dress, the men having generally a single leaf hanging from their girdles, or at the most a strip of soft bark answering the purpose of drawers, while the adult women wear a narrow fringed girdle, which passes several times round the waist.

Their hair is woolly and short, but at a distance many of them would be taken for long-haired people, in consequence of a habit of making artificial tresses some two feet in length, out of grass and the hair of a bat. Some of these appendages are so long that they fall to the middle of the back. Round the head is sometimes tied a small net with wide meshes, and the chiefs wear an odd sort of a hat. These hats are cylindrical, and decorated with a large circular ornament at each side, a plume of feathers at the top, and a long drooping tuft of grass and hair that hangs down the back. The hat forms no protection to the head, having no crown to it, and is only used as a mark of rank.

The natives also make a sort of mask, very ingeniously cut out of wood, having the mouth open and the eyes closed. The wearer looks, not through the eyes, but through some apertures which are made in the upper part of the mask. It is supposed that these masks are employed in war, when the combatants desire to disguise themselves from their opponents. This, however, is only a conjecture. I have little doubt that the wooden mask described and figured by D’Entrecasteaux is nothing more than an ornament used in the native dances. It is, in fact, the “momo,” which is described by more recent travellers. When complete, the “momo” is decorated with plumes of feathers, long tufts of hair, and a thick, coarse network, which does duty for a beard, and descends as far as the knees of the wearer.

A mask made in a precisely similar manner is used by the natives of Vancouver’s Island, but is employed by them in their dances. One of these masks is in my collection, and will be described in the course of the work.

Ear ornaments of various kinds are in favor among the New Caledonians, and some, of the natives enlarge the hole in the lobe to such an extent that it forms a long loop, the end of which falls on the shoulders. Occasionally, they try the elasticity of the ear too much, and tear it completely through. Anything seems to be worn in the ears, and[884] when a New Caledonian cannot find a suitable ornament, he fills up the ear with a leaf or a roll of bark. They do not tattoo themselves, but draw black lines across the breast with charcoal, the lines being broad, and traced diagonally across the breast. Necklaces of various kinds are worn, and these ornaments bear a certain resemblance to those of New Guinea, consisting principally of a twisted string, to which is suspended a shell or piece of bone, carved in a manner which the natives are pleased to consider as ornamental.

Although by nature the men possess thick and stiff beards, these hirsute ornaments are generally removed, the hair being pulled up by the roots by means of a pair of shells used in lieu of tweezers.

Architecture among the New Caledonians is infinitely superior to that of Australia, and in some respects almost equals that of New Zealand. The houses are conical in shape, and often reach from ten to eleven feet in height in the middle.

The principle on which the huts are built is perfectly simple. The native architect begins by digging a hole in the ground, and planting in it a stout pole, some fifteen feet in length, and nine or ten inches in circumference. A number of smaller poles or rafters are set in the ground around the standard or central pole, their bases being planted in the earth and their tips leaning against the standard. Smaller branches are interwoven among the rafters, and the whole is rendered weather-tight by dried herbage lashed to the walls.

These simple walls are often several inches in thickness; and as the natives spread thick mats on the floor, they are well sheltered from the weather.

The entrance is very small, never above three feet in height, and on occasions can be closed with a rude door made of palm branches. Some of the latter kind of huts have regular door-posts, on which are carved rude imitations of the human face. A fire is almost always kept burning inside the hut, not so much for the sake of warmth or for culinary purposes, as to form a defence against mosquitoes. Smoke, therefore, is encouraged; and, though it may be the lesser of two evils, it forms a great drawback to the comfort of Europeans, who can defy the mosquitoes by their clothes, and can protect themselves at night by means of curtains. The central post of the house is mostly decorated with shells, and carved at the top into the shape of a human being.

Each house is usually surrounded with a fence some four or five feet in height, and within the hut there is a curious piece of furniture which gives to the rude habitation quite a civilized look. This is a wooden shelf, suspended by cords exactly like our hanging bookshelves. It is hung about four feet from the ground, but as the cords are very slight, it can support only a trifling weight. The native name for this shelf is “paite.”

We will now proceed from domestic to military life, and devote a small space to warfare among the New Caledonians.

It is very remarkable that among these naked and peculiarly savage cannibals we should find two of the weapons of war which were in greatest favor among the civilized Romans of the classic times. These are the sling and the javelin, the latter being cast by a peculiar arrangement of a thong, so that, in point of fact, the New Caledonian warrior does not only sling the stone, but the spear also.

We will take these weapons in order, the sling coming first, as being the simpler of the two weapons.

The construction of the sling or “wendat,” as the natives call it, is very simple, the weapon being merely a doubled thong with a pouch in the middle, in which the stone is placed. This pouch is made of two small cords laid side by side, and as the smooth stone might slip out of it, the slinger always wets the missile in his mouth before placing it in the pouch. The stones are cut out of a hard kind of steatite, which can take a good polish. They are oval in shape, and are carefully ground down by friction, the surface becoming very smooth in the process.

Thirty or forty of these stones are kept in a small net, which is fastened to the left side of the slinger. In illustration No. 1, on page 893, one of the warriors is seen with his sling in his hand, and the net filled with stones fastened to his side. When the slinger wishes to hurl a stone, he does not waste time and strength by whirling the sling round and round, but merely gives it one half turn in the air, and discharges the missile with exceeding force and wonderful accuracy of aim. In consequence of only giving one half turn to the sling, the stones can be hurled nearly as fast as they can be thrown by the hand, and the weapon is therefore an exceedingly formidable one in the open field when fire-arms are not opposed to it.

We now come to the spear, or rather javelin.

This weapon is of very great length, some specimens measuring fourteen or fifteen feet from butt to point; and unless the warrior were able to supplement the natural strength of his arm by artificial means, he would not be able to throw the spear more than a few yards. He has therefore invented an instrument by which he can hurl this long and unwieldly weapon to a considerable distance. The principle on which this instrument is formed is identical with that of the Australian throw-stick, but there is a difference in the application. The Australian throw-stick is straight, rigid, and is applied to the butt of the spear, whereas the implement[885] used by the New Caledonian is flexible, elastic, and applied to a spot a little behind the middle of the spear.

This instrument is ingeniously simple. It is nothing more than a plaited cord or thong made of a mixture of cocoa-nut fibre and fish-skin. It is a foot or more in length, and is furnished at one end with a knob, while the other is worked into a loop. This elastic cord is called by the natives “ounep.” When the warrior desires to throw a spear, he slips the loop over the forefinger of his right hand, and allows it to hang in readiness for the spear. As soon as the time comes for the spear to be thrown, the man balances the weapon for a moment so as to find the middle, and then casts the end of the thong round it in a sailor’s half-hitch, drawing it tight with his forefinger.

As long as pressure is thus kept upon the thong, it retains its hold of the spear; and as soon as it is released, “the half-hitch” gives way and allows the spear to free itself. The mode of throwing is therefore evident. The warrior holds the loop of the thong on his forefinger, the rest of the hand grasping the spear. As he throws the weapon, he loosens the hold of his hand, and so hurls the spear by means of the thong.

The classical reader will doubtless remember that this thong or “ounep” is precisely the “amentum” of the ancients, but is actually superior in its construction and manipulation. The amentum was simply a loop of cord or leather fastened to the shaft of the javelin just behind the balance. When the warrior wished to throw a spear, he grasped the shaft in his hand, inserted his fingers in the loop, and by means of the additional leverage was able to throw a heavy weapon to a considerable distance. See, for example, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, xii. 321:

“Inserit amento digitos, nec plura locutus,
In juvenem torsit jaculum;”

in English, “He inserted his fingers into the amentum, and, without saying more, whirled the dart at the youth.” Commentators have been extremely perplexed about this passage. In the first place they were rather uncertain as to the meaning of the word “amentum,” and in the second place, they could not see the force of the word “torsit,” i. e. whirled. The reader will, however, see how perfectly appropriate is the term, the spear being flung with a whirling movement as a stone from a sling. The same word is used by Virgil: “Intendunt acres arcus, amentaque torquent.” Another writer also alludes to this instrument:

“Amentum digitis tende prioribus,
Et totis jaculum dinige viribus;”

i. e. “Stretch the amentum with your first fingers, and aim the javelin with your full strength.”

Ingenious as was the amentum of the ancients, the ounep is far superior to it. With the ancients a separate amentum had to be fixed to each spear, while among the New Caledonians only one ounep is required.

Besides these weapons, the club is much used, and great ingenuity is shown in its manufacture. The shape and size of the clubs are extremely variable, and in some of them the natives have exhibited a surprising amount of artistic skill, the curves being singularly bold and flowing. One of these clubs, which is indeed a typical form, is in my collection. The form of the head is evidently taken from the beak of a bird, and the curves are exceedingly bold and sweeping. It is rather more than three feet in length, and it weighs almost exactly two pounds and a half.

War is in New Caledonia, as in New Zealand, the chief occupation of the men. The first lesson that a child receives is fighting, and the idea is prevalent with him as long as he lives. As soon as he is born, the boy is consecrated to the god of war, and a hard black stone is laid on his breast, as a symbol that his heart must be as hard as a stone in battle. Even the women take a share in the fighting, and, though they are not actual combatants, they follow their relatives to the battle, in order to seize the bodies of slain enemies, and drag them away to the cooking oven. Strife is always fomented by the priests from interested motives, inasmuch as the hands of the slain are their perquisites, and among the connoisseurs in cannibalism the palms of the hands are the most delicate portions of the human body.

Primarily the New Caledonians are cannibals because they are warriors, the body of a dead enemy being always supposed to be eaten by the victors. There is mostly a fight over the body of a fallen warrior, the one party trying to drag it away to the cooking oven, and the other endeavoring to save it for burial by themselves.

As a rule, however, the body is carried off by the women, who have the task of cooking it. The preparation of the body is quite a ceremonial, each part of it belonging by right to certain individuals, and even the carving being regulated by strict rules. A peculiar kind of knife is made of flat serpentine stone, oval in form, and about seven inches in length. Two holes are bored on one side of it, by means of which it is fastened to a wooden handle. This knife is called “nbouet.”

With the nbouet the body is opened, and the whole of the intestines are torn out by means of a fork made expressly for the purpose. This fork is composed of two human armbones placed side by side, about an inch apart, and fastened tightly together. They are sharply pointed, and are very effectual instruments for the purpose. Sometimes[886] the bodies are cut up for cooking, but in many cases they are baked entire, the women priding themselves in serving them up in a sitting posture, furnished and dressed in full war costume.

Thus, then, we see that cannibalism is connected with warfare; but unfortunately it is not restricted to war. When Captain D’Entrecasteaux went in search of La Pérouse, one of the natives was eating a newly-roasted piece of meat. The naturalist to the expedition immediately recognized it as being part of the body of a child. The man who was eating it did not attempt to deny the fact, but even pointed out on the body of a little boy the part of the body which he was eating, and gave his hearers to understand that the flesh of children was very good.

This cannibalism of New Caledonia explained some curious gestures which the natives were fond of making. They used to be very familiar with their white visitors, feeling their arms and legs, looking at each other with admiration, and then whistling and smacking their lips loudly. In point of fact, they were admiring the well-fed limbs of the white men, and anticipating to each other the delights of a feast upon the plump Europeans.

As, however, flesh is but a luxury among the New Caledonians, and cannot be considered as an ordinary article of diet, the natives depend chiefly for their existence on vegetable food. Roots of various kinds are eaten by them, as well as cocoa-nut and other fruit; all the cooking, as well as the work in general, being performed by the women. Shell-fish are also much eaten, and are procured by the women. The large clam-shell is found on the shores of the island, and supplies abundance of food; while the smaller molluscs are mostly dug out of the sand by women, who frequently spend half a day up to their waists in water.

Two very strange articles of diet are in use among the New Caledonians. The first is a sort of spider, which spins large and thick nets in the woods, often incommoding travellers by the number and strength of the silken cords. They are not eaten raw, but cooked by being placed in a covered earthen jar, which is set on a brisk fire. The natives call the spider by the name of “nougui.” It is gray above, the back being covered with a fine silvery down, and below it is black.

The second article of diet is clay, of which the natives will consume a great amount. The earth in question is a soft greenish steatite, which crumbles very easily, and has the property of distending the stomach, and so allays the cravings of hunger, even though it does not nourish the body. A well-distended stomach is one of the great luxuries of a savage, and, in accordance with this idea, a man was seen to eat a piece of steatite twice as large as his fist, even though he had just taken a full meal. Some of the natives have been known to eat as much as two pounds of this substance. A similar propensity is found both in Africa and America.

When they drink at a pool or river, they have an odd fashion of dipping the water with their hands, and flinging it into their mouths, so that much more water is splashed over their heads than enters their mouths.

With regard to the bodies of those who fall in war, and are rescued from the enemy, many ceremonies are employed. According to Captain Head, in his “Voyage of the Fawn” they are “brought home with loud lamentations, and buried with great wailing and shrieking from the appointed mourners, who remain unclean often for several years after burying a great chief, and are subject to many strict observances. For weeks they continue nightly to waken the forest echoes with their cries. After ten days have elapsed, the grave is opened, and the head twisted off; and, again in this custom resembling the Andaman islanders, the teeth are distributed as relics among the relatives, and the skull preserved as a memorial by the nearest kin, who daily goes through the form of offering it food.

“The only exceptions are in the case of the remains of old women, whose teeth are sown in the yam patches as a charm to produce good crops; their skulls set up upon poles being deemed equally potent in this respect.”

The general character of the New Caledonians seems to be tolerably good, and, in spite of their evident longing after the flesh of their visitors, they are not on the whole inhospitable. They are clever thieves, and are ingenious in robbery by means of an accomplice. On one occasion, when a native was offering for sale a basket full of sling-stones, and was chaffering about the price, an accomplice came quietly behind the white man and uttered a loud yell in his ears. Naturally startled, he looked behind him, and in a moment the man with whom he was trading snatched away the basket and the goods offered in exchange, and ran away with them.

One of the officers was robbed of his cap and sword in an equally ingenious manner. He had seated himself on the ground, and for better security had placed his sword under him. Suddenly one of the natives snatched off his cap, and as he instinctively rose to rescue it, another man picked up his sword and escaped with it. They even tried to steal a ship’s boat, together with the property in it, and would not leave it until they were attacked by a strong body of armed sailors.

They make very good canoes—as, indeed, is generally the case with islanders. The[887] largest canoes are mostly double, two boats being placed alongside of each other, and connected by a platform. They have a single mast, which is stepped toward one end of the compound vessel, and can sail with considerable swiftness, though they are not so manageable as those of New Guinea, some of which are marvels of boat-building. They can accommodate a considerable number of passengers, and have generally a fire burning on the platform, which is protected from the heat by a thick layer of earth.

A rather remarkable custom prevails among them, which derives its chief interest from the fact that it is practised in Northern Asia. This is the Kata, or scarf of felicity. It is a little scarf, of white or red material; and when two persons meet they exchange their katas—a ceremony which is analogous to shaking hands among ourselves.

Whether these savages are the aborigines of the island is doubtful. If they be so, they seem to have declined from the comparative civilization of their ancestors. This, indeed, is their own opinion; and, in support of this theory, they point to the ruins which are still to be seen, and which tell of architecture far beyond the power of the present natives. There are even the remains of an aqueduct eight miles in length, a piece of engineering which would never have entered the head of the New Caledonian of the present day. Perhaps these works of art may have been constructed by immigrants, who have since left them to perish; but, in any case, their presence in such a spot is most remarkable.


Some thirty miles to the south-east of New Caledonia, and in fact forming part of the same group, there is a small island, called by Captain Cook the Isle of Pines, in consequence of the number of araucarias with which its hills are covered. The strait between the Isle of Pines and New Caledonia proper is nearly all shoal water, caused by the numerous coral reefs.

In many respects the inhabitants of this island resemble those of New Caledonia. They are not, however, so dark, and their features are tolerably good. They are cannibals from choice, wrapping up the bodies of the dead in banana leaves, and then cooking them in ovens. Some years ago, they contrived to indulge their taste for human flesh at the expense of their neighbors.

About 1840, it was found that sandal wood grew on the island, and several vessels proceeded thither for the sake of procuring this valuable product. At first they did so with great risk, and lost many of their men from the onslaughts of the natives. Afterward, however, a Sydney merchant set up an establishment for the collecting and storing of sandal wood and bêches-de-mer, and since that time the natives have become quite peaceable.

In course of this transitional time between utter barbarism and commerce, they learned by painful experience the power of fire-arms. As soon as they became accustomed to trade, the first thing that they did was to procure a large stock of fire-arms and to go off with them to New Caledonia, where they landed, shot as many of the natives as they could, and brought their bodies home for consumption. It is true that a constant feud raged between the two islands, but the sudden acquisition of fire-arms gave the people of the Isle of Pines a terrible advantage over their hereditary foes, and enabled them almost to depopulate the south-eastern part of the island.

They care no more for dress than the New Caledonians, but are very fond of ornament, the men appropriating all the best decorations, and leaving the women to take what they can get. The men friz their hair out as much as possible, and wrap a thin scarf round it, or sometimes cut it short, leaving only a tuft on one side of the head. The women shave off the whole of the hair, thus depriving themselves of their natural ornament, and rendering themselves very unprepossessing to European eyes. The rough work is done by them, the men reserving to themselves the noble occupations of war, fishing, house building, and canoe making, the only real work which they do being yam planting, after the ground has been prepared by the women.




We will now pass to the westward, and travel gradually through the wonderful group of islands which extends almost from Asia to America, and which is known by the general title of Polynesia. One or two of them will have to be omitted for the present, so as not to break the continuity of races, but will be described before we pass upward through America, from Tierra del Fuego to the Esquimaux.

In the Bay of Bengal, and not much to the eastward of India, is seen a group of islands, named the Andamans. They are of considerable length, but very narrow, seldom exceeding twenty miles in breadth, and are arranged very much after the fashion of the New Zealand islands, though on a smaller scale. These islands exhibit a phenomenon almost unparalleled in the history of the human race.

They lie close to India, a country in which a high state of civilization has been reached many centuries ago. They are almost in the middle of the track which is traversed by multitudes of ships, and yet their inhabitants are sunk in the deepest depths of savage degradation. Even the regular visits made by the Chinese vessels to the Andaman coasts, for the purpose of procuring the trepang, have had not the least effect upon them; and they afford perhaps the most perfect example of savage life which the surface of the earth can show.

The origin of the Andamaners is a problem to anthropologists. They are small in stature, the men being on an average but little above five feet in height, and the women being still smaller. They are very dark, but have scarcely anything except their color in common with the negro. They have neither the huge projecting jaws and cavernous mouth of the true negro, nor his curiously elongated heel; and though they are so small as almost to merit the name of pigmies, they are perfectly well formed. The hair, when it is allowed to grow, is seen to be thick and bushy, and resembles that of the Papuans; and it is the opinion of many competent judges that the Andamaners are the aborigines of the Papuan race, who have never permitted contact with strangers, and have preserved their own individuality intact.

In habits they are absolutely savage, their arts being limited to the manufacture of canoes and weapons, architecture and agriculture being equally unknown. They possess one of the chief characteristics of savage life in their roving disposition, never remaining long in one spot, a stay of three or four days being considered a long visit to any place. They have no laws, no religion, and no tribal distinctions. Marriage, as we understand the word, is unknown to them; and there seems to be few restrictions of consanguinity, a mother and her daughter being sometimes the wives of the same husband.

Clothing is entirely unknown to them; and[889] when captives have been taken, they have always found clothes to be an incumbrance to them, though they were pleased with gaudy handkerchiefs tied round their heads. The only covering which they care for is one which they share in common with many of the pachydermatous animals, and employ for the same purpose. It is nothing more than a layer of mud, with which the natives plaster themselves in the morning and evening, in order to defend themselves from the attacks of the mosquitoes, sandflies, and other insect plagues.

Until the last few years our knowledge of the Andamaners has been almost nil, in consequence of their hatred of strangers, and the determined opposition which they offer to any foreigners landing on their shores. The very presence of a boat or a ship seems to excite them to frenzy. In Captain Mouatt’s valuable account of these islands is an animated description of a scene which occurred off the coast.

The steamer, on rounding a point, came suddenly upon two groups of savages, who were at first paralyzed by fear at the sudden apparition of the unknown object, with its columns of white steam roaring from the escape-pipe, its smoke, and its plashing paddles. In a few moments they recovered from their surprise, and raised a simultaneous shout of defiance. Two boats’ crews were sent ashore, to the extreme anger of the Mincopies.

“A peculiar natural phenomenon rendered the scene still more striking and impressive as the interval between the two parties, the savage and the civilized, was gradually diminished by the onward motion of the boats. The spray as it rose in clouds from the breakers dashing on the shore, reflecting the rays of the declining sun, magnified considerably the slight figures of the natives, making massive and formidable giants of men who were in reality little more than sable dwarfs. As the cutters neared that part of the shore where they had stationed themselves, and they clearly perceived that we were making preparations to land, their excitement was such that they appeared as if they had suddenly become frantic.

“They seemed to lose that restraint and control which it is the pride of the savage to exhibit in time of danger, and jumped and yelled like so many demons let loose from the bottomless pit, or as if there had been a Bedlam in that locality, and they the most unmanageable of its frantic inmates. Their manner was that of men determined and formidable in the midst of all their excitement. They brandished their bows in our direction; they menaced us with their arrows, said by common report—so often a liar—to be poisoned; exhibiting by every possible contortion of savage pantomime their hostile determination. To use a common vulgar expression of some of the seamen, they seemed to have made up their minds to ‘chaw us all up.’...

“The spear which he flourished incessantly was terminated by a bright, flat, pointed head, which gleamed with flashes of light, as, circling rapidly in the air, it reflected the rays of the sun. Sometimes he would hold it aloft, poising it in his uplifted hand, as if with the intention of hurling it with unerring and deadly aim at the first who dared to approach the shore of his native island. At length, in a paroxysm of well-acted fury, he dashed boldly into the water, boiling and seething round him as it broke in great billows on the beach, and on the rocks by which it was defended, and, fixing an arrow in his bow, he shot it off in the direction of the steamer, as if that were the arch enemy that had provoked his bellicose fury.”

The second party of natives, who turned out to be females, were as frightened as their male friends were angry. After several failures in launching a canoe, they rushed in a body to the jungle and hid themselves from the strangers. They exhibited the usual characteristics of the people, a basket for fish doing duty for clothes, and a patch of red ochre on their heads taking the place of hair. So repulsive were they in their appearance, that the sailors declined to leave mirrors on the shore as presents for them, saying that such hideous creatures ought not to be allowed to look at their own features.

The weapons with which the Mincopie men threatened the strangers are really formidable, and before very long the exploring party learned to hold them in great respect. The bows are sometimes six feet long and enormously powerful,—so powerful in fact that the strongest sailors tried in vain to bend the weapons which the pigmy Mincopies handled with such skilful ease.

The shape of the bow is very peculiar. Instead of being nearly cylindrical, largest in the middle and tapering regularly to each end, it is nearly flat except at the handle, on either side of which it becomes very broad. In fact, a good idea of it may be taken from a flattened hour-glass, the channel in the middle being the handle.

The force and accuracy with which these tiny men can shoot are really wonderful. They very seldom fail to hit their mark at any reasonable distance, and can make tolerably sure of a man at sixty or seventy yards, so that the Mincopie bow is really a far better weapon than the old “Brown Bess” musket ever was. One arrow that was shot at a boat’s crew at a distance of sixty yards struck a hickory oar, and knocked off a piece of wood as large as a man’s hand.

These arrows are very neatly made.[890] They are about three feet in length, and are made of a reed by way of shaft, to the end of which is fastened a piece of hard wood in order to give weight. Upon this tip is fixed the head, which is usually the barbed tail bone of the sting-ray, and sometimes, though not always, poisoned. Should this terrible weapon enter the body, it cannot be removed without a severe operation, the sharp brittle barbs being apt to snap off and remain in the wound if any force be used in extracting the arrow.

Their consummate skill in the use of the bow is obtained by constant practice from earliest infancy. As is the assagai to the Kaffir, the boomerang to the Australian, and the lasso to the Gaucho, so is the bow to the Andamaner. The first plaything that a Mincopie boy sees is a miniature bow made for him by his father, and, as he advances in age, bows of progressive strength are placed in his hands. Consequently, he is so familiarized with the weapon that, by the time he is of full age, the pigmy Andamaner draws with graceful ease a bow which seems made for a giant.

Numbers of the toy bows and arrows may be seen scattered about an encampment if the natives are forced to leave it in a hurry, and their various sizes show the ages of the children to whom they belonged. The education of the Mincopie archer is in fact almost precisely like that of the old English bowmen, who, from constant practice in the art, and being trained from childhood in the use of the bow, obtained such a mastery of the weapon as made them the terror of Europe.

Being such skilful archers, they trust almost entirely to the bow and arrow, caring little for any other weapon. Even the harpoon, with which they catch the larger fish, is shot from the powerful bow. It is, in fact, a very large arrow, with a moveable head. This head fits loosely into a hole at the end of the arrow, and is secured to the shaft by a thong. It is a very remarkable fact that the bow and harpoon arrow of the Mincopies are almost exactly like those which are used by the inhabitants of Vancouver’s Island. They are twice as large, but in shape almost identical, as will be seen when we come to the North of America.

When they use the harpoon, a long and elastic cord is attached to it, one end of which is retained by the archer. The cord is made from a fibre which has the useful property of hardening by being soaked in water. For killing the fish when held with the harpoon the Mincopies use smaller arrows, without barbs or movable heads.

The Mincopies are very expert fishermen, and use nets which are made from the same fibre that has been mentioned. For small fish they make the nets of rather thin but very tough string, but for turtle and large fish they make nets of cord as thick as a man’s finger. One side of the net is held to the bed of the sea by heavy stones laid on it, and the other is upheld by floats.

The women search for molluscs, a business which occupies a considerable part of their time. They always carry neat baskets, in which to put the results of their industry, and each woman has generally a small net fixed to a handle, like that which is used by butterfly collectors.

In nothing do the Andamaners show their superior skill more than in canoe making. Their bows and arrows are, as we have seen, good specimens of savage manufacture, but in the making and management of canoes they are simply unapproachable, even though their tools are of the rudest possible description.

Furnished merely with a simple adze made of a stone fixed into a handle, the Mincopie boat maker searches the forest for a suitable tree, and after a week or ten days succeeds in bringing it to the ground. The rest of the process is so well described by Captain Mouatt, that it must be given in his own words.

“The next operation is to round the trunk, a process which they perform with remarkable dexterity, it being almost impossible to conceive how, with the imperfect instruments at their command, they execute their work with so much skill and neatness. Practice, however, must render them, as well as others, perfect; and hence it is that in a short time the rough and shapeless trunk begins to assume form and proportions; and, when the process is finished, exhibits a finish and perfection that even a Chinese carpenter, by far the most handy and ingenious of human ‘chips,’ would regard with a feeling of envy, as a work of dexterity which it would be vain for him to attempt to imitate.

“As soon as the trunk has been rounded, they commence the operation of cutting and chipping at it externally, until eventually the outlines of the elegant canoe begin to appear from the shapeless mass of the knotted trunk, just as, by the skill of the statuary, the beautiful figure gradually assumes its fair proportions in the block of marble. The shape externally is generally finished with great care and elaboration before they proceed to hollow it internally, the next process to which they direct their attention. The interior is excavated in the same perfect and business-like manner, until the shell is no thicker than the side of a deal bonnet-box, although it still preserves that strength which would enable it to resist successfully the utmost force and violence of the waves, should it even be assailed by a storm—a thing not at all probable, as, unless carried out to sea by some accident, it is rare that the Andamaners venture far from the shore.


“The buoyancy of these boats, when they are well constructed and carefully finished, is remarkable. They float lightly on the top of the waves, and, unless they have received some injury, it is considered almost impossible to sink them. We sometimes made the attempt, but never succeeded. We fired at them repeatedly when at Port Mouatt—which may be regarded as a sort of Andaman Pembroke-yard, where a fleet of Mincopie men-of-war were lying in every stage of preparation—but they still floated with as great ease and buoyancy as ever. They would make excellent life-boats, such, we believe, as have never yet been constructed by any of our most experienced boat-builders.”

Near shore the boatmen paddle about with perfect ease in these fragile vessels, though an European can hardly proceed twenty yards without being upset. When they go further to sea they add a light outrigger to one side of the canoe, and then venture forty or fifty miles from land. They always, in such cases, take fire with them, which has the double advantage of attracting the fish at night, and of cooking them when taken. Sometimes a number of boats will remain all night at sea, and the effect of their fires and torches is very picturesque when seen from the land.

The outrigger is certainly a new invention. The earlier travellers, who were always minute enough in their accounts, did not mention the outrigger, and, as far as can be seen, the idea has been borrowed from some Cingalese canoe which had got into a current and been drifted toward the island.

The paddles are rather peculiar in their form, and, apparently, very ineffective, looking something like long spoons with flattened bowls, or, on a smaller scale, the “peels” with which bakers take bread out of their ovens. The women are the paddle makers, and the implements vary from three to four feet long. They are cut from a very hard wood, and the work of making them is necessarily laborious.

Imperfect as the canoe and paddles seem to be, they are in fact absolute marvels of efficiency. The tiny Mincopies, furnished with these simple paddles, and seated in a canoe cut by themselves out of a tree trunk, can beat with ease our best oarsmen. Captain Mouatt got up several races between the Mincopies and his own prize crew in their favorite boat. In point of fact there was never any race at all, the Andamaners having it all their own way, and winning as they liked. The powerful, sweeping stroke of the man-of-war’s crew was beautiful to see, but the little Mincopies shot through, or rather over, the water with such speed that the sailors were hopelessly beaten, although they strained themselves so much that they felt the results of their exertions for some time afterward.

Slight, and almost as active as monkeys, the Mincopies ascend the tallest trees with the like agility, applying the soles of their feet and the palms of their hands to the trunk, and literally running up them. When they reach the branches, they traverse them with as much ease and security as if they were on firm land. Indeed, their powers of tree climbing seem to be equal to those of the inhabitants of Dourga Strait, of whom an account will presently be given.

We now come to a question which has often been agitated, namely, the asserted cannibalism of the Andamaners.

It is a question that every observant reader would be sure to ask himself, as the Andamaners are just such a savage race as might be expected to feed habitually on human bodies. Yet, though we find the comparatively civilized New Zealander sharing with the savage New Caledonian the habit of eating human flesh, the Mincopie, who is infinitely below the New Zealander, and certainly not above the New Caledonian, is free from that revolting practice. He undoubtedly has been known to eat human flesh, but only when urged by extreme hunger to eat the flesh of man or to die; and in so doing he has but set an example which has been followed by members of the most civilized countries.

That they are fierce and cruel toward foreigners is true enough, and it is also true that the bodies of those whom they have killed have been found frightfully mutilated, the flesh being almost pounded from the bones by the blows which have been showered upon the senseless clay in the blind fury of the savage. But no attempt has been made to remove any part of the body, and it was evident that the victors had not even entertained the idea of eating it.

The food of the Andamaners is tolerably varied, and is prepared in a very simple and ingenious oven. A large tree is selected for this purpose, and fire is applied to it at the bottom, so that by degrees a large hole is burned in it, the charred wood being scraped away so as to form eventually a large hole. This is the Mincopie oven, and at the bottom a heap of ashes, about three feet in depth, is always left. The fire smoulders away gradually among the ashes, and never entirely goes out; so that whenever a native wishes to cook his pig, turtle, or fish, he has only to blow up the smouldering embers, and in a few moments he has fire sufficient for his purposes.

These oven-trees are very carefully preserved, the natives never cutting them down, and always managing to prevent them from being entirely burned through. In illustration No. 2, on the 893d page, one of these trees is shown, with the fire burning in the hollow, and the natives sitting round it. The Mincopies always contrive to have the opening of the oven in such a direction that[892] the rain cannot get into it and put out the fire.

Pigs have been mentioned as forming part of the Andamaners’ food. These pigs are small and black, with spare, hard bristles, that look like pieces of wire. They are wonderfully active, and, according to Captain Mouatt, “are the most curious and mischievous little animals in creation. They have a leer that makes them look like so many Mephistopheles, who have chosen to assume that peculiar form, in many respects a very appropriate one, for, if they are not so many little devils, they are certainly possessed by them.

“At the time of our visit to the Cinque Islands, we turned out a dozen of them, and, our unwonted appearance filling them with alarm, they ran off from us with the velocity of an Indian express train, squeaking like mad. We set off and had a regular hunt after them—a hunt that beats to chalks the most exciting scene of pig-sticking ever seen in Bengal. After discharging their rifles, some of the hunters would probably find the pigs between their legs, making them measure their length on the sand. The falls were made with considerable violence, though they were not dangerous, for they only excited our risible faculties; and as each one came down he was greeted with a loud and hearty burst of laughter, as a sort of congratulation to him in his misfortune.”

The architecture of the Andamaners is very primitive. Four posts are stuck in the ground in the form of a square, and the builder is quite indifferent as to their straightness. Two of them are much longer than the others, so that when they are connected by sticks, a sloping roof is formed. Palm leaves are then placed upon them, one lying over the other in tile fashion, so that they form a protection from perpendicularly falling rain. A number of these huts are generally erected in a circle, in some cleared space in the forest, which is sheltered by large trees, and within a convenient distance of water. One or two of these simple houses may be seen in the illustration.

Primitive as are these huts, some attempt is made at ornamenting them, the decorations being characteristically the trophies of the chase. Skulls of pigs and turtles, bundles of fish-bones, and similar articles are painted with stripes of red ochre, and hung to the roofs off the huts. Ochre painting, indeed, seems to be the only idea that the Andamaners have of ornament, if perhaps we except a string which the dandies tie round the waist, having a piece of bone or other glittering article hanging from it.

This ochre is in great request among the Mincopies, the women being especially fond of it by way of a decoration of their heads. As has already been mentioned, they shave the head completely, using, instead of a razor, a piece of flint chipped very thin, and having a sharp edge. They are wonderfully adroit at making these primitive knives, which are exactly like those of the stone age. The hair having been scraped off, a tolerably thick plastering of red ochre is rubbed on the head, and the toilet of a Mincopie belle is complete.

Not only is the ochre used for external application, but it is administered internally. What is good for the outside, the Mincopie logically thinks will be equally good for the inside. So, when he feels ill, he makes a sort of bolus of red ochre and turtle oil, swallows it, and thinks that he has cured himself. Wounds are dressed by binding certain leaves upon them, and in many cases of internal pains, bruises, or swellings, scarification is freely used. Certain individuals enjoy a sort of reputation for success in the treatment of disease, and are much honored by the less skilful.

It has already been mentioned that marriage is nothing more than taking a female slave.

When a wife becomes a mother, the only treatment which she receives is, that after the birth of her child she is plentifully rubbed with the red ochre and turtle oil, and is expected to follow her usual occupations on the next day. The young child is soused with cold water, poured out of one of the great bamboo vessels which the Mincopies use, and is dried by rubbing with the hand. Like its parent, the child wears no clothing; but if the party should be on their travels, and rain begin to fall, the mother pulls a few leaves from the next tree, ties them together with a fibre of rattan, and fastens them on the body of the child. This is the only clothing which an Andamaner ever wears.

Children are never weaned, but continue to take their childish nourishment until the mother is absolutely incapable of affording it. Both parents redeem much of their savage nature by their affection for their children, the father being quite as loving a parent as the mother—a trait which is often absent among savage tribes. The children reciprocate the affection, so that, in spite of the absence of any definite home, there is a domestic character about the family which could scarcely have been expected from such a race.

It has been already mentioned that the boys amuse themselves chiefly with small bows and arrows, having these toys of a continually increasing size to suit their growth. The girls are fond of disporting themselves by the sea-shore, and building sand houses for the waves to knock down, precisely as is done by the civilized children of Europe and America. Their great amusement is to build an enclosure with walls of sand, and to sit in it as if it were a house of their own until the rising tide washes away the frail walls. Both sexes are fond of swimming, and as soon as they can walk the little black children are seen running into and out of the water, and, if they can pick some sheltered spot free from waves, they dive and swim like so many ducks. A Hindoo, named Pooteeah, who was taken prisoner by the Mincopies, and his life spared for some reason or other, states that they are such excellent swimmers that several of them will dive together among the rocks, search for fish in the crevices, and bring their struggling captives to shore. This statement was discredited by those to whom it was made, as were several other of his accounts. As, however, subsequent observations showed that he was right in many of the statements which were at first disbelieved, it is possible that he was right in this case also.


(See page 884.)

(See page 892.)


This man, by the way, was furnished with two wives, mother and daughter, and, as he was above the ordinary size, Captain Mouatt expresses some curiosity as to the appearance of the progeny. He made his escape from the island before the birth of a child that one of his wives was expecting, and, as the Mincopie mothers are remarkable for their affection toward their children, it is likely that the little half-caste was allowed to live, and that a new element may thus be introduced into the race.

They have more than once made use of their swimming powers in escaping from captivity. Several instances have been known where Andamaners have been kept prisoners on board ship, and have seemed tolerably reconciled to their lot. As soon, however, as the ship neared land, they contrived to escape for a moment from the eye of the sentry, slipped overboard, and swam to land. They always dived as soon as they struck the water, swam as far as they could without rising to the surface, and then, after taking a single respiration, dived again, and so swam the greater part of the distance under water. This mode of swimming was doubtless practised by them when trying to escape from the arrows of an unfriendly party.

In Captain Syme’s “Embassy to Ava” there is a curious account of two young Mincopie girls who had been decoyed on board the ship. They were treated very kindly, and soon learned that no harm would be done to them. “They suffered clothes to be put on, but took them off again as soon as opportunity offered, and threw them away as useless encumbrances. When their fears were over, they became cheerful, chattered with freedom, and were inexpressibly diverted at the sight of their own persons in a mirror.

“They were fond of singing, sometimes in a melancholy recitative, at others in a lively key; and often danced about the deck with great agility, slapping the lower part of their bodies with the back of their heels. Wine and spirituous liquors were disagreeable to them; no food seemed so palatable as fish, rice, and sugar. In a few weeks, having recovered strength and become fat, from the more than half-famished state in which they were brought on board, they began to think confinement irksome, and longed to regain their native freedom.

“In the middle of the night, when all but the watchman were asleep, they passed in silence into the Captain’s cabin, jumped out of the stern windows into the sea, and swam to an island half a mile distant, where it was in vain to pursue them, had there been any such intention; but the object was to retain them by kindness, and not by compulsion, an attempt that has failed on every trial. Hunger may (and these instances are rare) induce them to put themselves into the power of strangers; but the moment that their want is satisfied nothing short of coercion can prevent them from returning to a way of life more congenial to their savage nature.”

Like many other savage races, the Mincopies make a kind of festivity on each new moon; and as soon as the thin crescent appears they salute it after their odd fashion, and get up a dance. Their dances are rather grotesque, each performer jumping up and down, and kicking himself violently with the sole of his foot, so as to produce a smart slapping sound. This is the dance which is mentioned in the preceding account of the two captives.

When a Mincopie dies, he is buried in a very simple manner. No lamentations are made at the time; but the body is tied in a sitting position, with the head on the knees, much after the fashion employed among the Bechuanas, and described on page 300. It is then buried, and allowed to decay, when the remains are dug up, and the bones distributed among the relatives. The skull is the right of the widow, who ties it to a cord and hangs it round her neck, where it remains for the rest of her life. This outward observance is, however, all that is required of her, and is the only way in which she troubles herself to be faithful to the memory of her dead husband. It is rather strange that, though the Andamaners make no lamentations on the death of a relative, they do not altogether dispense with these expressions of sorrow, but postpone them to the exhumation and distribution of the relics, when each one who gets a bone howls over it for some time in honor of the dead.



Immediately to the south of the Andaman Islands, and barely thirty miles distant, lie the Nicobar Islands. The group consists of nine tolerably large islands, and several of much smaller size. One of the large islands, called Great Nicobar, is twenty miles long by eight wide, while Little Nicobar is barely half these dimensions.

The islands are singularly fertile, and abound in various kinds of vegetation, especially in the cocoa-nut palm, not a specimen of which is to be found in the Andaman Islands. This curious fact is accounted for by the character of the Andamaners, who have an almost superstitious love for the cocoa-nut. If one of the nuts be washed ashore, it is always broken up and eaten; and if perchance one of the fruit happens to escape the sharp eyes of the natives and to germinate, its green feathery shoots are sure to attract the attention of the first Mincopie who passes in that direction. A similar barrier to the production of the cocoa-nut is found on the coast of Australia.

Although so close to the Andaman Islands, the inhabitants of Nicobar are very unlike the Mincopies, being a fine tall race, and of a copper rather than a black hue. Unlike the Mincopies, the men are very fat, especially about the breast, so that at a little distance they might easily be mistaken for women. Moreover, they wear the hair long, and parted in the middle, which to the eyes of a modern European, gives them a peculiar effeminate look. They wear neither beard nor moustache, their features are ugly, and their large mouths are stained a dark red from the juice of the betel-nut, which they are continually chewing.

There is one distinction, however, which is apparent at a considerable distance. In lieu of clothes, the men wear a strip of cloth, never more than two inches wide. This is passed round the waist, under the legs in front, and tucked through itself behind, the end being left as long as possible. The men place great value on the length of this tail, and he is the best dressed man who wears it the longest. Some of the wealthy among them have the tail dragging along the ground for several feet, like an European lady’s train. If possible, this tail is made of blue cloth, an article that is held in very high estimation by the natives.

The women are quite as ill-favored as the men, and increase their natural ugliness by shaving off all their hair. They do not wear tails like the men, but have a plaited grass girdle, from which depends a soft fibrous fringe about a foot in depth.

The character of the Nicobarians is far gentler than that of the Mincopies, the latter being proverbially fierce and cruel toward strangers, and the former soon learning to welcome foreigners when they have made up their minds that no harm is intended them. Captain Campbell, to whom I am indebted for most of the information respecting these natives, found them very agreeable and hospitable, ready to barter, and always welcoming him to their houses.

After a short time, even the women and children, who had at first been scrupulously concealed, after the manner of savages, came boldly forward, and were as hospitable as the men. On one occasion, while paying a visit to one of their huts, Captain Campbell tried to make friends with one of the children, all of whom were terribly frightened at the white face of their visitor. Finding that no response was made to his advances, he pulled the child from his hiding-place, and held him for a little time, in spite of his struggles. The mother made no opposition, but laughed heartily at the skirmish, evidently feeling that no harm was intended toward her little one.

The native weapons of the Nicobarians are very curious. As the people are not of a warlike character like the Mincopies, their weapons are used almost exclusively for killing game. The most formidable is a tolerably large spear headed with iron, which is used for killing hogs, and is thrown like the assagai of Southern Africa. They have also a smaller javelin for fish-killing, and a number of many-pointed hand-spears for the same purpose. The most remarkable of their weapons is a cross-bow, which is almost exactly like that of the Fan tribe of Africa. It is not very powerful, and only propels a small arrow. Its chief use is in killing birds.

Besides these weapons, every man carries a cutlass-blade from which the hilt has been removed, and a handle roughly made by wrapping some six inches of the butt with cocoa-nut fibre. It is intended not so much as a weapon as a tool, and with it the natives cut down trees, carve their canoes, and perform similar operations.

The architecture of the Nicobarians is infinitely superior to that of the Mincopies, and is precisely similar in character to that which is found among the inhabitants of New Guinea, the home of the Papuan race.

The native architect begins by fixing a number of posts in the ground, and erecting on them a platform of split bamboo. Over this platform he builds a roof shaped exactly like a beehive, and his house is then complete. The bamboo platform is the floor of the hut, and, being elastic as well as firm, serves also for a bed. To this hut the native ascends by a primitive sort of ladder, and passes into the chamber through a hole cut in the floor. The sides of the hut are adorned with the skulls of hogs, intermixed with spears,[897] knives, bows, and arrows. The huts are kept peculiarly neat and clean.

A rather remarkable use is made of the hut. The open space between the floor and the ground is far too valuable not to be utilized, as it affords a cool and airy shelter from the sunbeams. Under this floor is suspended a primitive sort of hammock, which is a board about six feet in length, slung by ropes. In, or rather on, this very uncomfortable hammock the Nicobarian likes to lounge away his time, dozing throughout the hot hours of the day, sipping palm wine at intervals, and smoking without cessation. In fact, we seem to have got again among the inhabitants of Western Africa, so similar is the character of the Nicobarian to that of the negro. The “Scene in the Nicobar Islands,” represented on the 903d page, shows the personal appearance of the Nicobarians and their style of architecture.

The canoes of the Nicobarians are not so beautifully formed as those of the Mincopies, but are constructed on the same principle, being hollowed out of the trunks of trees, and supported by a slight outrigger. They have a very high and ornamental prow, and are propelled by short paddles. They are very light, and, when properly manned, skim over the water at an astonishing pace. Some of them are nearly sixty feet in length, while others are barely six or seven feet long, and only intended for one person.

The mode of burial is not in the least like that which is employed among the Mincopies. When a man dies, the body is placed in a coffin, which is generally made from a canoe. The canoe is cut in half, the body being laid in one moiety, and covered with the other half. In order to supply the deceased with provisions for his journey to the spirit-land, a pig is killed and placed in the coffin, together with a supply of yams and cocoa-nuts. In case he should be attacked on his journey, a quantity of weapons, such as bows, spears, and cutlasses, are placed in the coffin.

The body is buried in the middle of the village, and the spot marked by a stick, to which is attached a small streamer. After some time, when the body has been consumed by the earth, the coffin is dug up again. The deceased being now supposed to have completed his journey to his spirit-home, his bones are thrown into the bush, and the cutlasses and other weapons distributed among his relatives.




We now come to the very home and centre of the Papuan race.

New Guinea is a very large island, fourteen hundred miles in length, and, as far as has been ascertained, containing some two hundred thousand geographical square miles. It is separated from Australia only by Torres Strait, and, as we have seen, a certain amount of intercourse has taken place between the Papuans of the south of New Guinea and the natives who inhabit the north of Australia. Fertile in the vegetable kingdom, it possesses one or two animals which have the greatest interest for the naturalist, such as the tree-kangaroo, the crowned pigeon, and the bird of paradise. It is equally interesting to the ethnologist as being the home of the Papuan race.

Taken as a race, they are very fine examples of savage humanity, tall, well-shaped, and powerful. They are remarkable for two physical peculiarities. The one is a roughness of the skin, and the other is the growth of the hair. The reader may remember that some of the tribes of Southern Africa have the hair of the head growing in regular tufts or patches, each about the size of a pea.

It is a remarkable fact that, in the Papuan race, the hair grows in similar patches, but, instead of being short like that of the South African, it grows to a considerable length, sometimes measuring eighteen inches from root to tip. The Papuans are very proud of this natural ornament, and therefore will seldom cut it off; but as, if left untrained, it would fall over the eyes, they have various modes of dressing it, but in most cases manage to make it stand out at right angles from the head. Sometimes they take the hair of each patch separately and screw it up into a ringlet. Sometimes they tease out all the hairs with a wooden comb of four or five prongs, and, as the hair is very coarse and stiff, it is soon induced to assume a mop-like shape, and to increase the apparent size of the head to an enormous extent.

Indeed, the word Papua is derived from this peculiarity of the hair. In the Malay language, the word which signifies “crisped” is pua-pua, which is easily contracted into pa-pua. Even the hair of the face grows in similar patches, and so does that on the breast of the man, and in the latter case the tufts are much further apart than on the head or face.

The color of the Papuans is a very dark chocolate, sometimes inclining to black, but having nothing in common with the deep shining black of the negro. Their features are large and tolerably well made, though the nose is very broad at the wings, and the lips wide. The nose, however, is not flat like that of the negro, but is prominent, rather arched, and descends so low that when seen in front the tip nearly reaches the upper lip. The natives seem to be perfectly aware of this peculiarity, and perpetuate it in their carvings.

Although taken as a whole, they are a fine race, there are many diversities among the different tribes, and they may be divided into the large and small tribes. The former are powerfully built, but more remarkable[899] for strength than symmetry—broad-breasted and deep-chested, but with legs not equal in strength to the upper parts of the body.

Their character has been variously given, some travellers describing them as gentle and hospitable, while others decry them as fierce and treacherous. Suspicious of strangers they certainly are, and with good reason, having suffered much from the ships that visited their coasts. A misunderstanding may soon arise between savage and civilized people, especially when neither understands the language of the other. An example of such a misunderstanding is given by Mr. Earle in his valuable work on the native races of the Indian Archipelago. Lieutenant Modera, an officer in the Dutch navy, embarked with several other gentlemen in the ship’s boat, for the purpose of landing on the shore of Dourga Strait, a passage between the mainland and Frederick Henry Island.

“When the boat had proceeded to within a musket-shot distance from them, the natives, who were armed with bows, arrows, and lances, commenced making singular gestures with their arms and legs. The native interpreter called out to them in a language partly composed of Ceramese, and partly of a dialect spoken by a Papuan tribe dwelling a little further to the north; but his words were evidently quite unintelligible to them, as they only answered with loud and wild yells. We endeavored, for a long time without success, to induce them to lay aside their weapons, but at length one of them was prevailed upon to do so, and the others followed his example, on which we also laid down our arms, keeping them, however, at hand.

“We now slowly approached each other, and the interpreter, dipping his hand into the sea, sprinkled some of the water over the crown of his head as a sign of peaceful intentions. This custom seems to be general among all the Papuan tribes, and in most cases their peaceful intentions may be depended upon after having entered into this silent compact.

“This they seemed to understand, for two of them immediately did the same, on which the interpreter jumped into the shallow water, and approached them with some looking-glasses and strings of beads, which were received with loud laughter and yells. They now began dancing in the water, making the interpreter join, and the party was soon increased by other natives from the woods, who were attracted by the presents. Mr. Hagenholtz also jumped into the shallow water and joined in the dance, and they soon became so friendly as to come close round the boat; indeed some of them were even induced to get in.”

Meanwhile their confidence increased, and they began to barter with their visitors, exchanging their ornaments, and even their weapons, for beads, mirrors, and cloth. They were very inquisitive about the strange objects which they saw in the boat, and, although they handled everything freely, did not attempt to steal. One of them took up a loaded pistol, but laid it down at once when the owner said it was tapu, or forbidden. Unfortunately, a misunderstanding then took place, which destroyed all the amicable feeling which had been established.

“While all this was going on, they kept drawing the boat—unperceived, as they thought—toward the beach, which determined us to return, as our stock of presents was exhausted, and there seemed no probability of our inducing any of them to go on board with us. Shortly before this, Mr. Boers had ornamented a Papuan with a string of beads, who, on receiving it, joined two of his countrymen that were standing a little distance off with the arms that had been laid aside, but which they had been gradually getting together again—a proceeding we had observed, but, trusting in the mutual confidence that had been established, we did not much heed it.

“At the moment in which we were setting off the boat to return on board, this man fixed an arrow in his bow, and took aim at Mr. Boers, who was sitting in the fore part of the boat, on which the latter turned aside to take up his gun, but before he could do so he received the arrow in his left thigh, which knocked him over, shouting, ‘Fire! fire! I am hit!’ as he fell. The order was scarcely given before every one had hold of his arms (which, as before stated, were kept at hand), and a general discharge put the natives to flight, swimming and diving like ducks.

“Before they took to flight, however, they discharged several more arrows at our people, one of which struck Mr. Hagenholtz in the right knee, another hit a sailor in the leg, while a third pierced a sailor’s hat and remained sticking in it; and lastly, a Javanese had the handkerchief shot off his head, but without receiving any personal injury.”

Three of the natives were severely wounded, if not killed, in this unfortunate affair, which evidently arose, as Mr. Earle points out, from misunderstanding, and not from deliberate treachery. Seeing the boats being pulled toward the ships while four of their companions were on board, they probably thought that they were being carried off as captives, as has so often been done along their coast by the slavers. They could not be expected to understand the difference between one white man and another, and evidently mistook the Dutch sailors for slavers, who had come for the purpose of inveigling them into the ships, where they could not be rescued.

The tribes of this part of the coast are not agreeable specimens of the Papuan race.[900] They are barely of the middle size, and lightly built. Their skin is decidedly black, and they ornament their bodies with red ochre, paying especial attention to their faces, which are made as scarlet as ochre can make them. The hair is deep black, and is worn in various ways. Most of the men plait it in a number of tresses, which fall nearly on the shoulders, while others confine it all into two tails, and several were seen with a curious headdress of rushes, the ends of which were firmly plaited among the hair. They are a dirty set of people, and are subject to diseases of the skin, which give them a very repulsive appearance.

Dress is not used by the men, who, however, wear plenty of ornaments. They mostly have a belt made of plaited leaves or rushes, about five inches wide, and so long that, when tied together behind, the ends hang down for a foot or so. Some of them adorn this belt with a large white shell, placed exactly in the middle. Earrings of plaited rattan, necklaces, and bracelets, were worn by nearly all. Some of them had a very ingenious armlet, several inches in width. It was made of plaited rattan, and fitted so tightly to the limb that, when a native wished to take it off for sale, he was obliged to smear his arm with mud, and have the ornament drawn off by another person.

Their principal weapons are bows, arrows, and spears, the latter being sometimes tipped with the long and sharp claw of the tree-kangaroo.

The agility of these Papuans is really astonishing. Along the water’s edge there run wide belts of mangroves, which extend for many miles in length with scarcely a break in them. The ground is a thick, deep, and soft mud, from which the mangrove-roots spring in such numbers that no one could pass through them even at low water without the constant use of an axe, while at high water all passage is utterly impossible.

As the natives, who are essentially maritime in their mode of life, have to cross this belt several times daily in passing from their canoes to their houses, and vice versa, they prefer doing so by means of the upper branches, among which they run and leap, by constant practice from childhood, as easily as monkeys. (See p. 909.) There is really nothing extraordinary in this mode of progress, which can be learned by Europeans in a short time, although they never can hope to attain the graceful ease with which the naked savages pass among the boughs. In some places the mangroves grow so closely together that to traverse them is a matter of perfect ease, and Mr. Earle remarks that he once saw a file of marines, with shouldered arms, making their way thus over a mangrove swamp.

The familiarity of these people with the trees causes them to look upon a tree as a natural fortress, and as soon as explorers succeeded in reaching the villages, the natives invariably made off, and climbed into the trees that surrounded the villages.

Wild and savage as they are, the Papuans of Dourga Strait display some acquaintance with the luxuries of civilized life and are inordinately fond of tobacco, the one luxury that is common to the highest and lowest races of mankind.

Some travellers have stated that these Papuans are cannibals, and it is certain that their gestures often favor such an opinion.

The Papuans of Dourga Strait are admirable canoe men, and paddle with singular skill and power. They always stand while paddling, a plan whereby they obtain a great increase of power, though perhaps at the expense of muscular exertion. They give as their chief reason for preferring the erect position, that it enables them to detect turtle better than if they were sitting, and to watch them as they dive under water after being wounded.

Skirting the coast of New Guinea and proceeding northward from Dourga Strait, we come to the Outanata River, at the embouchure of which is a tribe that differs much from those natives which have already been described. They are a finer and taller set of men than those of Dourga Strait, and seem to have preserved many of their customs intact since the time when Captain Cook visited them. Their skin is a very dark brown, and is described as having a bluish tinge, and they are said to rub themselves with some aromatic substance which causes them to diffuse an agreeable odor.

It is probable that the bluish gloss may be due to the same aromatic substance with which the body is perfumed. Mr. Earle thinks that the odoriferous material in question is the bark of the tree called the “rosamala.”

The blue tinge is never seen among Papuan slaves, and this circumstance adds force to Mr. Earle’s conjecture.

The features are rather large, especially the mouth, and the lips are thick. The custom of filing the teeth to a sharp point prevails among this tribe, but is not universal. The eyes are small, and the septum of the nose is always pierced so as to carry a piece of white bone, a boar’s tusk, or some similar ornament. The hair is thick, and, instead of being trained into long tails like that of the Dourga Strait natives, it is plaited from the forehead to the crown.

The men wear scarcely any real dress, many of them being entirely naked, and none of them wearing more than a small piece of bark or a strip of coarse cloth made either of cocoa-nut fibre or of split bamboo. They are, however, exceedingly fond of ornament, and have all the savage love of tattooing, or rather scarifying, the body, which is done in a way that reminds the[901] observer of the same process among the Australians. The scarifications project above the skin to the thickness of a finger, and the natives say that this effect is produced by first cutting deeply into the flesh, and then applying heat to the wounds. Anklets, bracelets, and other articles of savage finery are common, and a man who does not wear an inch of clothing will pride himself on his boar’s teeth necklace, his bracelets of woven rattan, and his peaked rush cap.

The women always wear some amount of clothing, however small, the very fact of possessing apparel of any kind being conventionally accepted as constituting raiment. Their solitary garment consists of a small apron, about six inches square, made from the cocoa-nut fibre.

It is rather remarkable that these people have the same habit of placing their new-born children in hot sand, as has already been described when treating of the now extinct Tasmanians. When the mother goes about her work, she carries the child by means of a sort of sling made of leaves or the bark of a tree.

The architecture of the Outanatas is far superior to that of their brethren of Dourga Strait. One of these houses, described by Lieutenant Modera, was at least a hundred feet in length, though it was only five feet high and six wide, so that a man could not stand upright in it. There were nineteen doors to this curious building, which was at first mistaken for a row of separate huts. The floor is covered with white sand, and the inhabitants generally seat themselves on mats. Each of these doors seemed to be appropriated to a single family, and near the doors were placed the different fireplaces. Over the roof a fishing net had been spread to dry in the sun, while a number of weapons were hung under the roof.

This house was built in a few days by the women and girls, and was placed near a much larger building, which had been raised on piles.

The weapons of the Outanatas are spears, clubs, and the usual bow and arrows, which form the staple of Polynesian arms.

The bows are about five feet in length, and are furnished with a string sometimes made of bamboo and sometimes of rattan. The arrows are about four feet in length, and made of cane or reed, to the end of which is attached a piece of hard wood, generally that of the betel-tree. The tips are mostly simple, the wood being scraped to a sharp point and hardened in the fire, but the more ambitious weapons are armed with barbs, and furnished with a point made of bone. The teeth of the sawfish are often employed for this purpose, and a few of the arrows are tipped with the kangaroo claw, as already mentioned in the description of the Dourga Strait spear.

Beside these weapons, the natives carry a sort of axe made of stone lashed to a wooden handle, but this ought rather to be considered as a tool than a weapon, although it can be used in the latter capacity. With this simple instrument the Outanatas cut down the trees, shape them into canoes, and perform the various pieces of carpentering that are required in architecture.

The most remarkable part of an Outanata’s equipment is an instrument which greatly perplexed the earlier voyagers, and led them to believe that these natives were acquainted with fire-arms. Captain Cook, who visited New Guinea in 1770, mentions that as soon as he reached the shore and had left his boat, three natives, or “Indians,” as he calls them, rushed out of the wood, and that one of them threw out of his hand something which “flew on one side of him and burnt exactly like powder, but made no report.” The two others hurled their spears at the travellers, who were in self-defence obliged to use their fire-arms.

Not wishing to come to an engagement, they retired to the boat, and reached it just in time, the natives appearing in considerable force. “As soon as we were aboard, we rowed abreast of them, and their number then appeared to be between sixty and a hundred. We took a view of them at our leisure. They made much the same appearance as the New Hollanders, being nearly of the same stature, and having their hair short-cropped. Like them they also were all stark naked, but we thought the color of their skin was not quite so dark; this, however, might be merely the effect of their being not quite so dirty.

“All this time they were shouting defiance, and letting off their fires by four or five at a time. What those fires were, or for what purpose intended, we could not imagine. Those who discharged them had in their hands a short piece of stick—possibly a hollow cane—which they swung sideways from them, and we immediately saw fire and smoke, exactly resembling those of a musket, and of no longer duration. This wonderful phenomenon was observed from the ship, and the deception was so great that the people on board thought they had firearms; and in the boat, if we had not been so near that we must have heard the report, we should have thought they had been firing volleys.”

The reader will doubtless remark here that the travellers were so accustomed to associate fire with smoke that they believed themselves to have seen flashes of fire as well as wreaths of smoke issue from the strange weapon. Many years afterward, Lieutenant Modera contrived to see and handle some of these implements, and found that they were simply hollow bamboos, filled with a mixture of sand and wood-ashes, which could be flung like smoke-wreaths from the tubes. The Outanatas, their weapons,[902] canoes and the remarkable instrument just described, are illustrated on the following page.

Some persons have thought that the natives used these tubes in imitation of firearms, but the interpreters gave it as their opinion that they were employed as signals, the direction of the dust cloud being indicative of the intention of the thrower. Others say that the tubes are really weapons, made for the purpose of blinding their adversaries by flinging sand in their eyes. I cannot agree with this last suggestion, because the other weapons of the Outanatas show that the natives do not fight hand to hand like the New Zealanders. I think that the interpreters were right in their statement that the tubes are used for signalling, and this supposition is strengthened by the fact that the natives of Australia do use smoke for the same purpose, as has already been described.

The canoes of the Outanatas are often of considerable size, measuring fifty or sixty feet, and, although narrow in proportion to their length from stem to stern, containing a great number of men. They are handsomely carved and adorned with paint, and both ends are flat and broad. The rowers stand up when they use their paddles, which are necessarily of considerable length, having long handles and oval blades slightly hollowed. The narrowness of these canoes strengthens the opinion of several travellers, that the Outanatas are really an inland tribe, descending the river in flotillas, and returning to their inland home when the object of their expedition is accomplished.

They seem to be less suspicious than their countrymen of Dourga Strait, and have no hesitation in meeting Europeans and exchanging their own manufactures for cloth, knives, and glass bottles, the last mentioned objects being always favorite articles of barter with Polynesian savages, who employ them when entire for holding liquids, and, if they should unfortunately be broken, use the fragments for knives, lancets, points of weapons, and similar purposes. Lieutenant Modera describes the appearance of one of their flotillas as representing a perfect fair, the boats being laid closely together, and their decks crowded with natives laden with articles for barter.

Unlike the Dourga Strait natives, those of the Outanata River had no objection to come on board the European ships, and visited the vessels in great numbers. Even their principal chief came on board frequently. On the first occasion he disguised his rank, and merely came as an ordinary native, but he afterward avowed himself, and came freely on board in his own character. For convenience’ sake he called himself Abrauw, i. e. Abraham, a name by which he was well known for a considerable distance. He offered no objection to going below and entering the Captain’s cabin, though his subjects were rather uneasy at his absence, and shouted his name so perseveringly that he was obliged every now and then to put his head out of the cabin window. He had all the regal power of concealing astonishment, and witnessed with utter imperturbability the discharge of firearms, the ticking of watches, and examples of similar marvels. He did, however, display a little interest in the musketry practice, which was directed at a succession of bottles, slung from the yard-arm, but whether he was struck with the accuracy of aim or with the needless destruction of valuable bottles is doubtful.

He seemed to be worthy of his position as chief, and was desirous of establishing an European settlement near the mouth of the Outanata. Unfortunately, the river, although a noble stream, has a sandbar across the mouth which effectually prevents vessels of even light draught from passing except at high water. The people in general were wonderfully honest, not displaying the thievish propensities which cause the visits of many savage tribes to be so troublesome. They even brought on board articles which had been accidentally left on shore. They probably owe much of their superiority to their connection with the Malay Mohammedans, many of whom visit New Guinea as traders.


(See page 897.)

(See page 902.)


NEW GUINEA—Concluded.


We must here give a short space to some tribes called by various names, such as Haraforas, Alfouras, and Alfoërs, and supposed by many ethnologists to be a separate family living in New Guinea and the neighboring islands, but as distinct from the generality of the inhabitants as the Bosjesman of Southern Africa are from the Kaffir.

This theory, however, has now been shown to be untenable, and it is now known that the word Alfoërs, or Alfouras, is applied by the tribes of the coast to those who live in the interior. The word has a Portuguese origin, and as Mr. Earle remarks, is applied to the mountaineers of the interior, just as the Spaniards called the aborigines of America “Indians,” and the Mohammedan inhabitants of Salee and Mindano “Moros,” or “Moors.”

Most of the accounts that have been received of the Alfoërs are not at all to be trusted. They have been described as peculiarly disgusting and repulsive, ferocious, gloomy, living in the depths of the forest, and murdering all strangers who came in their way. In fact, they have a worse reputation than the Andamaners. It has been ascertained, however, that these evil reports have originated from the coast tribes, who have a very strong objection to allow foreigners to penetrate inland.

The reason is obvious. The visits of the traders are exceedingly valuable, furnishing all kinds of tools, weapons and ornaments, which constitute the wealth of the savage. The natives, having purchased these with articles which to themselves are comparatively valueless, can sell their superabundance to the inland Alfoërs, and make an enormous profit on their bargain. If the white men were allowed to go inland and trade directly with the natives, their profitable traffic would be broken up.

As far as can be ascertained, the Alfoërs are in much the same state as were the Outanatas before they were visited by traders. Those who were seen were remarkable for a certain stupidity of aspect, a taciturnness of disposition, and a slowness of movement, which are not found among the Outanatas. As, however, they were slaves, it is more than likely that these characteristics were the result of servitude.

Subsequently some discoveries were made among the Alfoërs, which entirely contradicted the reports of the coast tribes. They are certainly rough in their manners, and if they take a dislike to a foreigner, or if he should perchance offend any of their prejudices, they eject him from the district with more speed than ceremony; taking care, however, not to inflict personal damage, and refraining from confiscating his property.

As far as can be ascertained from the slight intercourse which has been held with these tribes, there is no regular form of government, the elders deciding disputes, and their decisions being respected. They[906] are an honest set of people, paying the greatest regard to the rights of property; and being so scrupulous in this respect, that if any one should even enter the house of an absent man he is called to account, and made to pay a fine to the owner of the house. A similar law exists with regard to the women. If a man should even touch, though accidentally, the wife of another, he makes himself liable to a fine.

A curious example of this regulation is mentioned by Lieutenant Kolff. A man set out in his canoe to fish, intending to return in a week; but being caught by contrary winds, he was driven away from his own part of the coast, and was detained two months. Unfortunately he had only left at home provisions for a week, and his wife, finding herself without food, asked a neighbor to provide it for her. This he did, and as, day after day, nothing was heard of the husband, the woman transferred her affections and herself to the neighbor who had assisted her, and the pair went off to another island.

After two months had elapsed the husband came back, and, not finding his wife, demanded her from her brothers, who were then bound to produce her. They set off in search of the guilty couple, discovered them, and brought them back, when the injured husband demanded an enormous sum by way of fine. The man said that he could not possibly pay such a sum if he were to work for the rest of his lifetime. The affair was eventually brought before the elders, who decided that the husband had done wrong in leaving his wife so ill provided for, and that if he had supplied her with a sufficiency of provisions the acquaintance between herself and her paramour would probably have been avoided. So they decreed that the man should pay a small fine, and advised the husband to leave plenty of provisions at home when he next went out fishing.

The principal object for which the natives make these expeditions is the trepang, or sea-slug (Holothuria), which is in great demand in China, and is purchased by traders from the natives for the Chinese market. It is chiefly by means of the trepang that a man procures a wife. As is the case among many savage tribes, a wife can only be obtained by purchase, so that daughters are quite as valuable to their parents as sons. With the Alfoërs, the marriage present must always consist of foreign valuables, such as elephants’ tusks, gongs, China dishes, cloth, and similar objects. These are obtained by exchanging trepang with the traders.

When, therefore, a young man wants a wife, and has settled the amount of the marriage portion with the father, he goes off for a year on a hunting expedition. He takes a canoe, and sails from island to island, catching as much trepang as possible, and begging from all those whom he visits. At the end of the year he returns home, knowing that by means of the protective law his house and property will be perfectly safe, and presents himself to the father of the girl with the goods which he has obtained. It is seldom that he is able to make up the entire amount at once, but he is allowed to pay by instalments.

Property cannot be inherited, owing to a peculiar custom. As soon as any one dies, his relations assemble, gather together all his valuables, break them to pieces, and throw the fragments away. Even the precious brass gongs are thus broken, the survivors thinking that no one may use anything belonging to the dead. Large heaps of broken china, ivory, and metal are found on the outskirts of villages that have existed for any long time, showing that many deaths must have occurred within its limits.

The rest of the funeral ceremonies are curious, and are worthy of a brief description.

When death is ascertained, notice is sent to all the relatives of the deceased, who often are scattered widely apart, so that several days usually elapse before they can all assemble. The body meanwhile is kept sprinkled with lime, in order to retard decay as much as possible, and aromatic resins are burned in the house to counteract any ill odor. As the relatives come, they take their places in the house, and begin drinking. Before the traders supplied them with arrack, they had a fermented liquor made by themselves from fruit. They always offer the deceased a share of everything, putting a little food into the mouth of the dead person, and pouring a little liquid between the senseless lips. Meanwhile the women utter loud lamentations, gongs are beaten, and a stunning uproar is kept up until the time of the funeral.

When the relatives have all assembled, a bier is provided, covered with cloth, the quantity and quality of which accord with the wealth of the deceased; and the body is then brought out in front of the house, and supported in a sitting position against a post. The villagers then assemble, and a general feast takes place, a share of which is offered to the deceased as before. Finding that he will neither eat nor drink, in spite of the solicitations of his friends and companions, the body is carried into the woods, where it is placed on a platform erected on four feet.

This being done, the concluding ceremony is left to the women. They remove all their clothing, and then plant by the side of the platform a young sapling; this ceremony being called the “casting away of the body,” and considered as a symbol that the deceased has done with his body, and thrown it from him.


Passing more to the eastward of New Guinea, we come to some interesting nations inhabiting Brumer’s Island, and the neighborhood. These islands are situate about lat. 10° 45´ S. and lon. 150° 23´ E.

Living as they do on a number of small islands, the largest being rather less than three miles in width, the natives are necessarily maritime, passing from one island to another in their admirably contrived vessels. They are accustomed to the visits of ships, and boldly put off to meet them, taking no weapons, except for sale, and displaying the greatest confidence in their visitors.

One of these natives caused great amusement by his imitation of the ship’s drummer. Some one gave him a large tin can, which he, being a musical genius, immediately converted into a drum. At first he merely pounded it with his hands, but when the ship’s drummer was sent into the chains, and began to play upon his instrument, the man watched him for a little time, and then began to imitate him in the most ludicrous manner, his antics and grimaces being especially provocative of laughter. The effect of his buffoonery was heightened by the manner in which he had adorned his face. He had blackened his naturally dark features with charcoal, and had drawn a streak of white paint over each eyebrow, and another under the chin to the cheekbones.

The mode of salutation is rather ludicrous to a stranger, as it consists of pinching. When they desire to salute any one, they pinch the tip of the nose with the finger and thumb of the right hand, while with the left they pinch the middle of their stomachs, accompanying this odd and complex gesture with the word “Magasûka.” These natives seem to be a hospitable people, for, after several of them had been received on board and treated kindly, they returned on the following day, and brought with them a great quantity of cooked yams, for which they refused payment.

The men wear nothing but a small strip of pandanus leaf, but the women have a dress which in principle is exactly similar to the thong-aprons of Southern Africa. It consists of a number of very narrow strips of pandanus leaf, reaching nearly to the knee. The girls wear only a single row of these strips, but the women wear several layers of them, one coming a little below the other, like flounces. In wet weather the uppermost petticoat is taken from the waist and tied round the neck, so as to protect the shoulders from the rain, which shoots off the leaf-strips as off a thatched roof.

On gala days a much handsomer petticoat is worn. This consists of much finer leaf strips than those which constitute the ordinary dress, and it is dyed of various colors. Some of them which were seen by Mr. M’Gillivray were red and green, with bands of pale yellow and pure white. The tufts of which they were composed were extremely light and soft, and looked like very fine-twisted grass blades. Several of the women, by way of finishing their toilet, had blackened their faces. This process, if it did not add to their beauty, certainly did not detract from it, as their faces were originally so plain that the black covering could not make them more ugly. The young men and lads formed a curious contrast to the women in this respect, many of them being remarkable for their good looks.

The women usually, though not invariably, divide their hair into a vast number of little tresses, and twist them up like the thrums of a mop, while the men tease out their stiff and wiry locks as much as possible, and fix in them a slender stick, some two feet in length, decorated with a little plume at the top, the base being cut into teeth and so used as a comb.

The inhabitants of Redscar Bay use a more elaborate system of tattooing than that which has been described above. The men generally restrict themselves to certain portions of the body, such as the breast, cheeks, forehead, and arms, and even on those spots the tattooing is comparatively slight. But the women are so covered with blue patterns, that there is hardly a portion of their bodies which has not been thus decorated. They have various patterns, but the usual type is formed by double parallel lines, the intervals between which are filled with smaller patterns, or with zigzag lines. As the dress of the women consists merely of the leaf-strip petticoat, the patterns of the tattooing are very fully displayed.

The hair of the men is dressed here after a rather singular fashion. It is shaved from the forehead for some three inches, and the remainder is combed backward to its full length. A string is then tied round it, so as to confine it as closely as possible to the head, leaving rather more than half its length to be frizzed into a mop-like bundle projecting from the crown.

Those who are especially careful of their personal appearance add an ornament which is not unlike the pigtail of the last century. A tolerably large bunch of hair is gathered together and tied into a long and straight tail, the end of which is decorated with some ornament. In one case, a man had attached to his pigtail a bunch of dogs’ teeth. The mouths, naturally wide, are disfigured with the universal custom of chewing the betel-leaf mixed with lime, which stains the lips of a dull brick-red, and makes the whole mouth look as if it had been bleeding.

The hair is usually black, but some diversities of color are often seen. Sometimes it is black except the tips of each tress, where[908] the hue becomes yellow or reddish, and sometimes the whole of the hair is red. In all probability, this change of tint is produced by artificial means, such as lime-water, the use of which is known in various parts of New Guinea. Those who have the entire hair red have probably dyed it lately, while those who have only the tips red have passed several months without dyeing it. There is but little beard or moustache.

As far as can be judged from appearances, the women are treated better than is usually the case among savages, and seem to be considered as equal with the men. They are affectionate parents, as was proved by the fact that children were often brought by their fathers to look at the ships.

The average stature of these natives was rather small, few exceeding five feet four inches in height. They were very active, but not powerful, as was proved by testing their strength against that of the ship’s crew.

Allusion has already been made to their skill in boating. These natives possess various canoes, some so small as only to hold, and by no means to accommodate, one person, while others contain with ease fifty or sixty at once.

The commonest canoe is that which is popularly called a catamaran, and which is more of a raft than a boat. It is formed of three planks lashed together with rattan. The man sits, or rather kneels, a little behind the centre, and is able to propel this simple vessel with great speed. Some of these catamarans are large enough to carry ten or twelve persons, together with a cargo. Instead of being merely three planks, they consist of three great logs of wood laid side by side, and lashed firmly together with rattan at their ends, in the centre, and midway between the centre and each end. There is no particular bow or stern, but the central log is longer than the others, so as to project at each end, and is generally carved into rude patterns, and ornamented with red and white paint.

Of course the sea washes freely over this primitive vessel, so that the natives are obliged to erect a small platform in the middle, on which they can place any goods that might be damaged by wetting.

One of the smaller catamarans is shown in the foreground of illustration, No. 2, on the next page, and just behind it is one of the large canoes with its sail struck. Such a canoe as this is about twenty-five feet in length. It consists of two parts, the canoe proper and the outrigger. The canoe proper is very curiously formed. It is cut from the trunk of a tree, and, in spite of its length, is not more than eighteen or nineteen inches in extreme width. The most curious part of its construction is, that the sides, after bulging out below, come together above, so that the space between the gunwale is barely eight inches, there is only just room for a man’s legs to pass into the interior of the boat. A section of the canoe would present an outline very much like that of the Greek Omega reversed, thus—℧. In order to preserve the gunwales from injury, a slight pole is lashed to them throughout their entire length.

As is the case with the catamaran, both ends of the canoe are alike. They are generally raised well above the water, and are carved into the semblance of a snake’s or turtle’s head, and decorated with paint, tufts of feathers, shells, and similar ornaments.

The outrigger is as long as the canoe, to which it is attached by a series of light poles to the gunwale of the canoe itself. The method by which the outer ends of the poles are fastened to the outrigger is very curious, and can be better understood by reference to the illustration than by a description. Like the ends of the canoe, those of the outrigger poles are fashioned into a snake-like form.

The natives can run along these poles to the outrigger with perfect safety, often sitting upon it when the wind is high, so as to preserve the balance of the vessel. In many canoes, however, a slight platform is laid upon these poles, so as greatly to increase the burthen-carrying space of the vessel; and a corresponding but smaller platform projects from the opposite side of the canoe. On this platform several paddlers are stationed, finding it easier to work their long-handled paddles from the platform than from the narrow space of the canoe itself.

The sail is made of strips of palm leaf, interlaced with each other. When it is not required, the sail is struck and rolled up, so as to occupy as little room as possible, and the mast can also be struck, like those of our sailing barges while passing under a bridge.

Two other kinds of New Guinea canoes are shown in the same illustration. These canoes are not found in the same part of New Guinea, but, as the natives travel in them for considerable distances, they have been brought together in the same illustration for the convenience of comparison.

Beyond the large canoe is a smaller one, with a sail that is set in rather a curious manner. There is no mast, but the two edges of the sail are fastened to slight spars, and when the native finds the wind to be favorable, he fixes the lower ends of these spars in the canoe, and supports the upper ends by stays or ropes that were fore and aft. The reader will notice the pointed end of the cylindrical outrigger. On the opposite side to the outrigger is a slight platform made of planks. The platform itself is out of sight, but the reader may see the heads and shoulders of the two men who are sitting on it.


(See page 900.)

(See page 908.)


This canoe is made near Redscar Point, and, except in the arrangement of the sail, is somewhat similar to the vessels which are built at Brumer Island. The paddles are between six and seven feet in length, and are rather clumsily formed, without any attempt at ornament.

The canoe to the right of the illustration is the most curious of these vessels. The body of the canoe is made out of the trunk of a tree, which is first shaped to a conical form at each end, and then hollowed. Over the ends is firmly fixed a piece of wood, several feet in length, so as to make the two ends into hollow cones into which the water cannot force its way. The gunwale is raised about two feet by planks which box in the opening of the canoe, and act as wash-boards, the seams being pitched and rendered water-tight.

These particulars are mentioned because in general the natives of New Guinea are singularly indifferent as to the amount of water which is taken in by their canoes, provided that they are not sunk. There is, for example, one kind of New Guinea canoe found in Coral Haven, in which the gunwales are not connected at the stern, which is left open. The water would of course rush in, were it not that one of the crew sits in the opening, forcing his body into it so as to render it temporarily water-tight. Even with this precaution it is impossible to prevent some water from making its way between the body of the man and the sides of the canoe, as it heels over by the force of the wind, and in squally weather another of the crew is obliged to keep perpetually baling with a large shell.

The most curious part of the canoe which we are now examining is the sail, which, clumsy as it looks, is a very great improvement on those which have been previously described, inasmuch as it can be shifted and trimmed to suit the wind.

The mast, instead of being merely stuck upright when wanted, is permanently fixed, but is so short that it causes no inconvenience when the sail is struck and the paddles alone are employed. It is fixed, or “stepped,” into a hole in a board at the bottom of the canoe, and is lashed to a transverse spar that extends across the canoe from one gunwale to the other. At the head of the mast is a stout projecting arm, through which is bored a hole.

The sail is made by matting stretched between two slight spars, and when not wanted it can be rolled up and laid up on the platform of the outrigger. The halyard, a rope by which the sail is hauled to its place, is fixed to the middle of the sail, and passes through the hole in the projecting arm of the mast-head. Hopes are fastened to each end, constituting the “tack” and the “sheet.” When the crew wish to put their canoe about, they do so in a very expeditious manner, merely letting go the ropes and hauling them in again, so as to turn the sail and convert the sheet into the tack, and vice versâ. As both ends of the canoe are alike, the vessel at once obeys the new impulse, and goes off in the required direction.

The canoe is steered with one special paddle some nine feet in length, of which the oblong, rounded blade occupies half.

The inhabitants of the New Guinea coasts are remarkable for their skill in swimming and diving. When H. M. S. Rattlesnake was off New Guinea, the anchor of one of the boats caught in the coral, and could not be dislodged. An old man who was standing on the beach saw that something was wrong, and swam off to the boat. He soon understood the case, and, after diving several times, succeeded in clearing the anchor, a feat for which he was rewarded by an axe. He always dived feet foremost, without an effort, and remained under water for about half a minute.

It is rather curious that the love of pigs which is found among the New Zealanders should be quite as strongly developed among the natives of New Guinea. The girls and women make great pets of them, and it is not at all an uncommon event to see a young girl tripping along in all the graceful freedom of the savage, holding a young pig in her arms, and caressing and talking to it as an European girl talks to her doll, or to her pet lapdog. These pigs are long-legged, black-skinned, stiff-haired animals, not at all agreeing with our ideas of a pig’s proper form.

The dress used by the women consists of slender leaf-strips, and forms a really graceful costume. Many of the women employ a kind of tattooing, though they do not carry it to such an extent as to disfigure themselves. The patterns, though elaborate, are very small and delicate, and extend over a considerable portion of the body. The arms and front of the body display a regular pattern, which is usually carried over the shoulder for a little way, but leaves the back untouched. The most delicate pattern is reserved for the arm and waist, where it looks like a delicate blue lace fitting tightly to the skin. The women are very proud of this ornament, and are always gratified when a stranger expresses admiration of it. The men occasionally use the tattoo, but in a comparatively scanty manner, confining the patterns to a star or two on the breast. Now and then a man will have a double series of stars and dots extending from the centre of the chest to the shoulders, but on an average a native of this part of the country is not so much tattooed as an ordinary English sailor.

The architecture of this part of New Guinea differs from that of Dourga Strait in being much more elaborate, but throughout New Guinea the style of house-building is so similar that we will take a few examples as representatives of the whole group of islands.[912] All the houses are elevated on posts like those of the Nicobar Islands, but have several improvements in architecture.

The posts vary in number according to the size of the house, and about four feet from the ground each post passes through a wide circular wooden disc, which serves as an effectual barrier against the rats and snakes, which would otherwise take possession of the dwellings. The posts are connected together at about five feet from the ground by rafters, on which the floor is laid.

These rafters, or joists, support a row of poles laid horizontally side by side, and upon them are laid crosswise a great number of slighter spars, thus forming a framework, on which is fixed the floor itself, which consists of a number of thin planks taken from the cocoa-nut tree. The supporting posts are about ten feet in total length, and are connected at their tops by horizontal poles, on which a second or upper floor is fixed, precisely similar to the principal floor, though much smaller. On this upper floor are kept the weapons, implements, provisions, and similar articles, for which accommodation cannot be found on the principal floor. A supply of water, for example, is generally kept in the huts, a number of empty cocoa-nut shells being used in lieu of bottles, and closed at the orifice by a plug of grass. In fact, they are identical in principal with the ostrich-egg vessels of the South African savage, which have been already described upon a preceding page.

Entrance is gained to the house by a square hole in the flooring, and the primitive staircase by which the inhabitants ascend into their houses is equally simple and effectual. It is necessary that the stairs—if we may use the term—should be so constructed, that while human beings can easily obtain access to the house, the rats and other vermin shall be kept out. If an ordinary ladder or even a notched pole were fixed to the house, the rats and snakes would be sure to climb up it and take possession of the dwelling. The native architect, therefore, proceeds after a different fashion.

Immediately under the opening in the floor he fixes two stout posts in the ground, leaving them to project rather more than three feet. The posts have forked heads, and upon them is laid a transverse pole, which is firmly lashed to them. From this transverse pole another pole is laid to the ground, so as to form an inclined plane up which the inhabitants of the house can walk. It will now be seen, that if a man walk up the inclined pole, to the transverse one, he can pass along the latter in a stooping attitude until he comes to the opening in the floor. He can then pass his body through the opening and lift himself to the level of the floor, while the space which intervenes between the horizontal post and the floor affords an effectual barrier against the rats and other vermin.

The reader will better understand this description by comparing it with illustration No. 1, on the 916th page, which represents three of these huts. That on the right is seen from the end, and is represented as half finished, in order to show the structure of the interior.

The sides and roof of the hut are formed of slight spars which are lashed together by a framework, so as to form a support for the thatching. This is made of coarse grass pulled up by the roots in large tufts, and covered with an outer layer of cocoa-nut leaves. If the house be a large one, there is an entrance at each end, and another in the middle, each being closed with neatly woven mats. Similar but coarser mats are fastened to the lower portion of the sides, in order to exclude the wind.

Up to this point the architecture is identical throughout the island, but a divergence takes place in the shape of the house itself, according to the locality. The usual form is that which is represented in the illustration. Such a house as is there drawn is on the average thirty feet in length, nine in width, and thirteen in total height, so that a space of about three feet intervenes between the upper floor and the roof. The central figure of the illustration shows the side view of a finished hut, and the left-hand figure shows the end view of a similar dwelling.

In some places, however, such for example as Redscar Bay, the form of the houses is different. Instead of having the slender poles which form the framework of the walls bent over in a curved form, they are arranged so as to make a lofty and sharply-pointed gable roof. A house of this description, which measures thirty feet in length, will reach, on an average, twenty-five feet in height. There is no distinction between the roof and walls of the huts, except that the lower portion of the roof is covered with sheets of a bark-like substance, which is supposed to be the base of the cocoa-nut leaf flattened by pressure. The entrance or door of these huts is at one end, and is covered with a mat as has already been mentioned. Access is obtained by a sloping pole resting on a short post. In some of these huts a number of spears were seen in the interior, lashed along the sides, together with several human skulls; but whether the latter were intended as ornaments, or whether they were preserved in memorial of the dead owners, is not certain.

The people who inhabit Redscar Bay and its vicinity exhibited a curious mixture of shyness and confidence. They came freely to the ships as they anchored in the bay, and were very anxious to be admitted on board, peeping into the ports in the most inquisitive manner, and holding up their weapons and implements for sale. They have in use a rather remarkable arrow, with[913] a head in the form of a pointed gouge or scoop.

One of these arrows is in my collection. The shaft is made in the usual manner from a reed, and is weighted at one end with a piece of hard and heavy wood. Into this wooden tip is cut a deep groove, into which slips the butt of the head. This is about eight inches in length, and is made of bamboo, the reed being nearly cut away so as to leave a piece rather more than half an inch in width in the middle, and tapering gently to one end so as to form a point, and abruptly to the other end in order to form a butt which can be slipped, into the wooden tip of the arrow.

Bamboo scoops of a similar description, but of a larger size, are used as knives, and are sharpened by the simple process of biting off a piece of the edge. When Mr. M’Gillivray visited New Guinea, he asked a native the use of the bamboo scoop; and when he found that it was used as a knife, he produced his own knife, and, taking up a piece of wood, he showed the superiority of steel over bamboo by cutting a stick vigorously with it.

Strangely enough, instead of being gratified with the performance of the knife, the man was so frightened that he pushed off his canoe, called his friends around him, and explained to them the terrible deed that had been done. The knife was offered to him, but he looked upon the proffered gift as an aggravation of the original offence, and declined all overtures toward reconciliation. This aversion to steel was found to be prevalent among the inhabitants of this part of New Guinea.

The bow by which these arrows are propelled is a very effective though clumsily made weapon. My own specimen is about six feet in length, and is made from some hard and tough wood, apparently that of the cocoa-nut tree. It is very stiff, and requires a strong arm to draw it. The string is a strip of rattan, like that which has already been mentioned when treating of North Australia.

Passing to the north-west of the island, we find that their appearance and manners are not very dissimilar from those which belong to their brethren of the southern coast. Taking the Dory people as our type, we find that they often display good examples of the high and narrow forehead of the Papuan family, and many of them have narrow and arched noses, together with lips nearly as thin as those of an European. Indeed, some of these natives possess a cast of countenance which is so like that of an European that several travellers have thought that there must have been some admixture of foreign blood. Such, however, is not the case, these peculiarities belonging to the individual, and not implying any foreign mixture.

The canoes of this part of the country are rather different from those of the southern coast. The mast is made of three distinct spars, united at their tops. Two of them are fastened to the side by pins passing through them, on which they work backward and forward, as if on hinges. The third is not fastened to the vessel, but its butt fits into a cavity from which it can be removed at pleasure. If, therefore, the natives wish to use their paddles, all they have to do is to lift the foot of this spar out of its socket, when the whole of the triple mast can be lowered on deck. When the wind becomes favorable, and the sail is to be employed, the masts are raised again, the butt of the third spar is stepped into its socket, and the triple mast is thus kept firmly upright. A similar contrivance is now proposed for our ships of war, as these triple masts made of three slight iron bars cannot be so easily shot away as the single and solid mast.

The natives are very expert canoe-men, and are accustomed to the use of their vessels from childhood. Even the small boys have their little canoes, which are so light that they can be carried to and from the water without difficulty.

They excel as fishermen, being as expert in the water as on it. The trepang fishery is energetically conducted by them, as it is by the sale of trepang to the merchants that they obtain the greater part of the foreign luxuries on which they set so high a value. The hawksbill turtle is captured principally for the sake of the shell, which is also purchased by the traders, and, together with mother-of-pearl shell, is mostly sent to the Chinese markets.

The mode of fishing with a net is much the same as on all these coasts. The net is three or four feet in depth, and a hundred feet or more in length. The meshes are about an inch in width. One edge is furnished with a row of flat pieces of light wood, which act as floats, and along the other edge are fastened a number of perforated shells by way of weights.

When the natives wish to use this net, they place it in a canoe, and look out for a shoal of fish. As soon as a favorable opportunity is found, the canoe is taken to seaward of the shoal, and let carefully into the water. Each end is taken in charge by one or two men, who bring the net round the shoal in semi-circular form, so as to enclose the fish. These men gradually approach each other, while another man beats the water with a pole, or flings stones into it, so as to frighten the fish into the enclosure. As soon as the two ends of the net have been brought together, the canoe comes up, and the net, with the fish hanging in its meshes, is hauled on board. They also use fish-traps, like those which have been already described in the account of Australia, sinking them by[914] means of a stone, and raising them by a cord, to the end of which a bamboo buoy is fastened.

They are tolerable smiths, and have a kind of bellows identical in principle with those of savage Africa, but worked in a different manner. Instead of having a couple of inflated skins, they have a pair of wide bamboo tubes, about four feet in length, the lower ends of which are buried in the earth, and connected by means of channels with the hole in which the fire is made. The pistons are formed of bunches of feathers tied to bamboos, and the blower works them alternately up and down, so as to produce a tolerably constant blast. It is remarkable that the bellows of the Chinese itinerant jeweller are fitted with feather pistons. It is most probable that these bellows have been borrowed from the more eastern islands.

As to the actual working of the metal, it bears a curious similitude to that which is employed in savage Africa. The anvil is generally a stone, unless the native smiths can procure an iron “pig” or a piece of a broken anchor. They can work in silver and copper as well as iron, melting the two former metals and running them into moulds, to be afterward beaten and worked into shape.

The architecture of these tribes is rather remarkable. Like the generality of houses in New Guinea, the huts are raised on stakes in order to preserve them from vermin; but those of the Dory people are similarly elevated in order to preserve them from water. These natives have a curious predilection for building their huts on the sea-shore, and place them below the level of low water. They begin this curious style of architecture by building a long pier, or rather jetty, which extends far into the sea, and which keeps open a communication between the house and the shore.

At the end of this jetty the hut itself is situated, and is made of boarded walls and a thatched roof. Great as is the labor that is bestowed upon it, the house does not come up to our ideas of comfort. In the first place, the floors are made of rough spars, placed parallel to each other, but still far enough apart to cause some uneasiness, not to say danger, to an unpractised walker.

A good specimen of a Dory house is about seventy feet long, twenty-five wide, and fifteen high. Along the centre runs a tolerably wide passage, and at either side are a number of rooms, separated from each other and from the passage by mats. At the end next the sea there are no walls, but only a roof, so that a sort of verandah is formed, under which the inhabitants spend much of their time when they are not actively employed. Such a house as this is usually occupied by some forty or fifty individuals, consisting of about twenty men, together with the wives and families of those who are married. All cooking is carried on by the different families in their own chambers, each of which is furnished with its own fireplace.

The dress of the Dory natives varies but little from that of other Papuans of New Guinea. The men, however, often ornament their bodies with raised scars like those of the Australians, and they are fond of tattooing their breasts and arms with figures of their weapons. They are fond of ornaments, such as shells, twisted wire, and armlets of plaited rattan. They ingeniously utilize the latter ornament by plaiting a very thick and strong bracelet, and wearing it on the left wrist and fore-arm, so as to protect the wearer from the recoil of the bowstring.

Though not a warlike people, they always go armed, carrying the invariable parang, or chopper, which, as its very name imparts, is procured from the Malay tribes. These parangs are chiefly made in Borneo, as we shall see when we come to treat of the Dyaks. The Dory Papuans do not seem to fight, as do some savage tribes, for the mere love of combat; the chief object of warfare being the capture of slaves, each of whom is valued at fifty shillings.

This value is, however, a conventional term; and when a bargain is made with the Dory people for so many slaves, in most cases the conventional money value is intended, and not the actual slaves. In fact, the word “slaves” is used much as we use the word “horses” in reckoning the power of a steam-engine, or “tons” in describing the capacity of a ship. Perhaps the words “pony” and “monkey,” of modern sporting slang, are better illustrations.

Still, slavery is rife among the Dory people, who sometimes make a raid into a district, capture a village, and carry off the inhabitants into servitude. They do not, however, treat their captives badly, but feed them well, and seem to consider them partly in the light of domestic servants, and partly as available capital, or as a means of exchange when any of their own friends are taken prisoners by hostile tribes.

The government of the Dory tribes is nominally a delegated chieftainship, but in reality a sort of oligarchy. There is a certain dignitary, called the Sultan of Tidore, under whose sway this part of the country is supposed to be, and from him the chief of the Dory tribes receives his rank. When the chief dies, one of his relatives goes to convey the news to the Sultan, taking with him a present of slaves and birds of paradise as tokens of allegiance. This man is almost always appointed to the vacant place, and is bound to pay a certain tribute of slaves, provisions, and war canoes, the latter being employed in collecting the Sultan’s taxes. Should he fail to comply with these conditions, his village would be attacked by the Sultan’s fleet, and the whole district ransacked; so that the position of chief has its anxieties as well as its privileges.


(See page 912.)

(See page 917.)


His authority is more nominal than real, for he decides nothing but unimportant matters, leaving more weighty subjects to a council of elders, who, as a rule, administer justice with impartiality. Their laws are really good and sensible, and, though lenient, are based on the principle of the old Jewish law, the eye for the eye and the tooth for the tooth.

Marriages are managed in a very simple manner, the bride and bridegroom sitting opposite each other, in front of an idol, and the former giving the latter some betel-leaf and tobacco. His acceptance of the present, and taking the hand of the giver, constitute the whole of the ceremony.

The idol which has been mentioned is called the Karwar, and is found in every house except those which belong to Mohammedan natives. The Karwar is a wooden figure, about eighteen inches in height, large-headed, wide-mouthed, and long-nosed,—this peculiarity of the Papuan face being exaggerated. It is represented as holding a shield, and wearing a calico wrapper on the body and a handkerchief on the head.

The Karwar plays an important part in the life of a Dory native. It is present at his birth, takes part in his funeral, and, as we have seen, is witness to his marriage. In all cases of perplexity the Karwar is consulted, the devotee stating his intentions, and abandoning them if he should feel nervous, such a sensation being supposed to be the Karwar’s answer. There are plenty of fetishes, but these are only supplementary to the Karwar.

Without going into the details of the various tribes which inhabit this part of the earth, we will glance at a few of the most interesting customs.

These Papuans have a strong love for flowers, especially those which possess a powerful scent. They twine such flowers in their hair, weave them into garlands for their necks, and carry them in their bracelets and armlets.

They are fond of singing and music, and, as far as has been ascertained, are in the habit of composing extempore songs, as well as singing those ditties which they know by heart. As for their musical instruments, they consist chiefly of the cylindrical drum, a trumpet made of a triton shell, and a sort of Pandean pipe, composed of six or seven reeds of different lengths lashed firmly together. There is also a wind instrument, which is nothing but a bamboo tube some two feet in length.

Accompanied by these instruments, they perform their curious dances, one of which as been well described by Mr. M’Gillivray. “They advanced and retreated together by sudden jerks, beating to quick or short time as required, and chanting an accompanying song, the cadence rising and falling according to the action. The attitude was a singular one—the back straight, chin protruded, knees bent in a crouching position, and the arms advanced.

“On another occasion, one of the same men exhibited himself before us in a war dance. In one hand he held a large wooden shield, nearly three feet in length, and rather more than one in width, and in the other a formidable looking weapon, two feet in length—a portion of the snout of the sword-fish, with long, sharp teeth projecting on each side. Placing himself in a crouching attitude, with one hand covered by the shield, and holding his weapon in a position to strike, he advanced rapidly in a succession of short bounds, striking the inner side of his shield with his left knee at each jerk, causing the large cowries hung round his waist and ankles to rattle violently. At the same time, with fierce gestures, he loudly chanted a song of defiance. The remainder of the pantomime was expressive of attack and defence, and exultation after victory.

“But a still more curious dance was once performed a few nights ago by a party of natives who had left the ship after sunset, and landed abreast of the anchorage. On seeing a number of lights along the beach, we at first thought they proceeded from a fishing party, but on looking through a night-glass the group was seen to consist of above a dozen people, each carrying a blazing torch, and going through the movements of the dance. At one time they extended rapidly into line, at another closed, dividing into two parties, advancing and retreating, crossing and recrossing, and mixing up with each other. This continued for half an hour, and, it having apparently been got up for our amusement, a rocket was sent up for theirs, and a blue light burned, but the dancing had ceased, and the lights disappeared.”

An accompanying illustration represents this wild and curious scene. In the foreground are the dancers, each with his torch in his hand, and indulging in the grotesque movements of the dance. To the left are seen the musicians, one playing on the bamboo pipe, and the other beating the drum which has before been mentioned. One of these drums is lying in the foreground. It is a hollow cylinder of palm wood, about two feet in length and four inches in diameter. One end is covered with lizard-skin, and along the side there run longitudinal slits. The native name for this drum is “baiatú.”

The funeral ceremonies appear to differ according to the locality. Among the Dory people, when a man dies, the body is rolled in white calico, and laid on its side in a[918] grave, its head resting on an earthenware dish. The weapons and ornaments of the dead man are laid in the grave, which is then filled up, and a thatched roof erected over it.

Should the deceased be a head of a family, the Karwar is brought to perform its last duties. When the man is buried, the Karwar is placed near the grave, and violently execrated by all the mourners for allowing its charge to die. The thatched roof being finished, the idol is laid upon it, and idol and roof are left to decay together. As is usual with savage tribes, funeral feasts are held at the time of burial and for some days afterward, those which celebrate the deaths of chiefs being kept up for a whole month.




To the north-west of New Guinea lie several islands, which are grouped together under the general name of Philippines. They consist of a considerable number of islands, of which the northern island, called Luza, and the southern island, called Magindano, are by far the largest.

The inhabitants of the Philippines are of two kinds; namely, the Malays and the Negritos. The former are evidently not the aboriginal inhabitants, but have voyaged to the islands in their canoes and formed a number of settlements. As in the course of the work we shall see much of the Malay race, we will pass them by for the present, and only notice the Negritos, or little negroes, so called by the Spanish on account of their dark skins and small size.

This strange little race is mostly known by a name which is given in different forms. By some writers it is spelt Ajitas, by some Ahitas, and by others Itas. Of these different forms I select the first, which, by the way, is pronounced as if it were spelled Aheetas.

The Ajitas are quite as small as the Bosjesmans of Southern Africa, their average height being four feet six inches. They are well shaped, and their skins, though of a very dark hue, are not so black as those of the negro tribes. The features are tolerably good, except that the nose is broad and rather flat, and that there is a marked deficiency of chin. The hair is woolly, like that of other Papuans, and, as they do not know how to dress it, they wear it in a sort of mop round the head. The eyes are remarkable for a decided yellow tinge.

In common with other savages who lead an uncertain kind of life, fasting sometimes for two days together, and then gorging themselves like wolves, they are apt to have their limbs and projecting stomachs with a recurved back such as is the case with the Bosjesman, the back being bent like the letter S. Their shape is in no way concealed by their dress, which is nothing more than a wide belt of plaited bark fastened round the waist.

In many respects there is a great similarity between the Bosjesman and the Ajita. The latter live by the chase and by plunder, having no idea of agriculture. They always go armed, their weapons being bamboo lances and bows and arrows, the latter being poisoned. The effect of the poison with which they are tipped is to produce an unextinguishable thirst in the animal, which seeks the nearest water, drinks, and dies. As soon as it is dead, the hunter cuts away the flesh from around the wound, as the poison would otherwise communicate so bitter a taste to the whole carcass that the flesh could not be eaten.

Their bows are but slight, as are their arrows, the poison doing the work of death, and the depth of the wound being of no consequence. They are skilful archers, having the bow and arrow in their hands from infancy, and practising at any object that may take their attention. Both sexes use the bow, and the little boys and girls are fond of[920] wading along the banks of streams and shooting the fish.

Like the Bosjesman, the Ajita is always at feud with the other races that inhabit the same country, and, small as he is, makes himself dreaded by reason of his poisoned weapons. Sometimes Ajitas are taken prisoners, and are generally enslaved. As they are light, active, and not bad-looking, they are often employed as servants by the dignitaries of Manilla.

One of these people was in the household of an Archbishop of Manilla, and was educated by him with great care. To all appearance he was thoroughly civilized, and at last was ordained priest. But the instincts of his savage nature were too strong for him, and the man escaped from his position and civilized society, threw off his garments, and rejoined his savage relatives. Such instances are continually occurring, and it is almost impossible to retain an Ajita in civilized society, no matter how well he may be treated, or how young he may be when captured.

The habits of the Ajitas are essentially of a savage character, and, as a rule, travellers in the Philippines are obliged to be very careful lest they should suddenly be set upon by these dangerous little creatures. Sometimes, however, they can be gentle, and even hospitable, and an instance of such conduct is related by M. de la Gironière, part of whose narrative has been translated and quoted by Mr. Earle: “We directed our course toward the north, among mountains always covered with thick forests, and which, like those we had just quitted, presented no traced route, excepting a few narrow pathways beaten by wild beasts. We advanced with caution, for we were now in the parts inhabited by the Ajitas. At night we concealed our fires, and one of us always acted as sentinel, for what we feared most was a surprise.

“One morning, while pursuing our way in silence, we heard before us a chorus of squeaking tones, which had more resemblance to the cries of birds than to the human voice. We kept on our ground, concealing our approach as much as possible with the aid of the trees and brambles. All at once we perceived at a little distance about forty savages, of all sexes and ages, who had absolutely the air of animals. They were on the banks of a rivulet, surrounding a great fire. We made several steps in advance, and presented the butt-end of our guns toward them. As soon as they perceived us, they set up shrill cries and prepared to take to flight; but I made signs to them, by showing them some packets of cigars, that we wished to offer them for their acceptance.

“I had fortunately received at Binangonan all the instructions necessary for knowing how to open a communication with them. As soon as they comprehended us, they ranged themselves into a line, like men preparing for a review; this was the signal that we might approach. We went up to them with our cigars in our hands, and I commenced distributing them from one extremity of the line. It was very important that we should make friends with them, and give each an equal share, according to their custom. The distribution being over, an alliance was cemented, and peace concluded, when they commenced smoking.

“A deer was hanging to a tree, from which the chief cut three large slices with a knife of bamboo, and threw them upon the fire, and, drawing them out an instant afterward, presented a piece to each of us. The exterior was slightly burned and sprinkled with ashes, but the interior was perfectly raw and bloody. It would not do, however, to show the repugnance I felt at making a repast scarcely better than that of a cannibal, for my hosts would have been scandalized, and I wished to live in good correspondence with them for some days. I therefore ate my piece of venison, which, after all, was not ill flavored, and my Indian having followed my example, our good repute was established, and treason on their part no longer possible.”

M. de la Gironière showed his wisdom in accommodating himself to circumstances, and in sacrificing his own predilections in favor of expediency; and if all travellers had acted in a similar manner, we should have known much more of savage manners and customs than we do at the present time. After propitiating his little black hosts by tact and kindness, he remained among them for some time, and by means of an interpreter, whom he was fortunate enough to obtain, continued to procure a considerable amount of information concerning a people of whom scarcely anything had been previously known since their existence.

The Ajitas live in small tribes, consisting of some fifty or sixty individuals. They have no fixed residence, but wander about the country according to the amount of game which they find. They have not the least notion of house-building, and in this respect are even below the aborigines of Australia, and at night they crowd round the fire and lie as close to it as possible. This fire is the central point of the tribe, the old people and children assembling round it during the day while the adults are hunting for game; and if the hunters should be able to bring in enough food to last for some days, they remain round the fire until it is all consumed.

There seems to be no particular form of government among the Ajitas, who always choose one of the oldest men to be the chief of each little tribe, and do not acknowledge any principal chief or king. Age is respected among them, and in this point the[921] Ajitas show their superiority over many savage tribes. The language of the Ajitas is said to resemble the chirping of birds rather than the voice of mankind, but it must be remembered that the same was said of the Bosjesmen’s language when European travellers first came among them. Any language which is heard for the first time affects the ear unpleasantly, and even those of Europe are generally stigmatized by foreigners as gabbling or grunting, according to the pitch of the voice. Of the structure of the Ajitas’ language nothing is yet known.

In one point they are superior to many savage people. A man has but one wife, and both are faithful in the married state. When a young man wishes to marry, he asks the consent of her parents, who, on a fixed day, send her into the woods alone before sunrise, and after an hour the young man goes after her. If he can find her, and bring her back before sunset, the marriage is acknowledged; but if he cannot succeed in his search, he must yield all claims to her. It will be seen that the real choice lies with the girl, who can always conceal herself if she dislikes the intended bridegroom, or, even if he did find her, could refuse to come back with him until the stipulated time has passed.

The religion of the Ajitas seems to be, as far as can be ascertained on a subject from which a savage always shrinks, a mere fetishism; any object, such as an oddly-shaped tree trunk or stone, being worshipped for a day, and then forsaken in favor of some other idol.

Any real reverence in the nature of the Ajitas seems to be given to the dead, whom they hold in veneration. Year after year they will resort to the burial-places of their friends for the purpose of laying betel-nut and tobacco upon the grave. Over each spot where a warrior is buried his bow and arrows are hung, the Ajitas having an idea that at night the man leaves his grave, and hunts until the morning. Owing to this reverence for the dead, M. de la Gironière’s expedition nearly came to a fatal termination. They had succeeded in procuring a skeleton from the burial-place, when the theft was discovered by the Ajitas, who at once set upon them, and fairly chased them out of their country, the poisoned arrows proving to be weapons too formidable to be resisted, especially when used by foes as active as monkeys, who could pour their arrows on their foes, while they scarcely exposed an inch of their little dark bodies to the enemy.

It is owing to another form of this veneration for the dead that travellers have so often come in collision with the Ajitas. When a warrior dies, his companions are bound to take their weapons and roam through the country, for the purpose of killing the first living thing that they meet, whether man or beast. As they pass along, they break the boughs in a peculiar manner as warnings to others, for even one of their own tribe would be sacrificed if he fell in their way. Travellers from other countries would either fail to see, or, if they saw, to understand, the meaning of these little broken twigs, and in consequence have been attacked by the Ajitas, not from any unfriendly feelings, but in fulfilment of a national custom.




To describe the inhabitants of all the multitudinous islands of Polynesia would be an agreeable, but impossible task, our space confining us within limits which may not be transgressed. We will therefore pass at once to the large and important group of islands which is popularly known by the name of Fiji.

This group of islands lies due north of New Zealand, and to the eastward of New Guinea, so that they are just below the Equator. The collective name of the islands has been variously given, such as Fiji, Beetee, Feegee, Fidge, Fidschi, Vihi, and Viti. Of all these names, the first and the last are correct, the northern portion of the islands being known as Fiji, and the southern as Viti. The reader must remember that these names are pronounced as if written Feegee and Veetee.

The inhabitants of Fiji are a fine race of savages, tolerably well formed, and with dark, though not black skin. Like other Papuans, they are remarkable for their thick, bushy hair, which they dress in a singular variety of patterns. As the appearance and costume of savage races are the first points which strike a stranger, we will at once proceed to describe them.

The most conspicuous part of a Fijian’s general appearance is his headdress, in the arrangement of which he gives the reins to his fancy, and invents the most extraordinary variations of form and color. Examples of the Fijian headdress will be seen in most of the illustrations. But as it would be tedious to describe them as they occur, I will mention a few of the most prominent varieties.

The hair of the Papuan race is always stiff, wiry, and plentiful, and grows to a considerable length; so that it necessarily assumes a bushy form if suffered to grow according to its own will. The Fijian, however, thinks that nature is to be improved by art, and accordingly lavishes all the resources of a somewhat artistic character on his hair. To train the hair into any of the graceful and flowing methods which distinguish those soft-haired races would be utterly impossible for a Fijian. He goes on quite the opposite principle, and, true to real artistic feeling, tries to develop to the utmost those characteristics which rightly belong to him, instead of endeavoring to produce effects which would not be consonant with their surroundings.

The principle on which a Fijian coiffure is arranged is, that every hair is presumed to grow naturally at right angles to the skin, and to stand out stiffly and boldly. Supposing, then, that each hair could be induced to follow its own course, without being entangled by others, it is evident that the whole head of hair would form a large globular mass, surrounding the face. It is, therefore, the business of the Fijian hair-dresser to accept this as the normal form of the hair, and to change or modify it as he thinks best.

It is impossible to describe the various modes of Fijian hair-dressing better than has been done by Mr. Williams, who resided in Fiji for thirteen years. “Most of the chiefs have a hair-dresser, to whose care his master’s hair is intrusted, often demanding daily attention, and at certain stages of progress requiring several hours’ labor each day. During all this time, the operator’s hands are tapu from touching his food, but not from working in his garden.


(See page 925.)

(See page 932.)


“The hair is strong, and often quite wiry, and so dressed that it will retain the position in which it is placed, even when projecting from the head a distance of six or eight inches. One stranger, on seeing their performance in this department, exclaims, ‘What astonishing wigs!’ another thinks, ‘Surely the beau idéal of hair-dressing must exist in Fiji;’ a third, ‘Their heads surpass imagination.’” No wonder, then, that they defy description.

“Whatever may be said about the appearance being unnatural, the best coiffures have a surprising and almost geometrical accuracy of outline, combined with a round softness of surface and uniformity of dye which display extraordinary care, and merit some praise. They seem to be carved out of some solid substance, and are variously colored. Jet-black, blue-black, ashy white, and several shades of red prevail. Among young people, bright red and flaxen are in favor. Sometimes two or more colors meet on the same head. Some heads are finished, both as to shape and color, nearly like an English counsellor’s wig.

“In some, the hair is a spherical mass of jet black hair, with a white roll in front, as broad as the hand; or, in lieu of this, a white, oblong braid occupies the length of the forehead, the black passing down on either side. In each case the black projects further than the white hair. Some heads have all the ornamentation behind, consisting of a cord of twisted coils, ending in tassels. In others, the cords give place to a large red roll or a sandy projection falling on the neck. On one head, all the hair is of one uniform length, but one-third in front is ashy or sandy, and the rest black, a sharply defined separation dividing the two colors.

“Not a few are so ingeniously grotesque as to appear as if done purposely to excite laughter. One has a large knot of fiery hair on his crown, all the rest of the head being bald. Another has the most of his hair cut away, leaving three or four rows of small clusters, as if his head were planted with small paint brushes. A third has his head bare, except where a black patch projects over each temple. One, two, or three cords of twisted hair often fall from the right temple, a foot or eighteen inches long. Some men wear a number of these braids so as to form a curtain at the back of the neck, reaching from one ear to the other.

“A mode that requires great care has the hair wrought into distinct locks, radiating from the head. Each lock is a perfect cone, about seven inches in length, having the base outward, so that the surface of the hair is marked out into a great number of small circles, the ends being turned in, in each lock, toward the centre of the cone. In another kindred style, the locks are pyramidal, the sides and angles of each being as regular as though formed of wood. All round the head they look like square black blocks, the upper tier projecting horizontally from the crown, and a flat space being left at the top of the head. When the hair, however, is not more than four inches long, this flat does not exist, but the surface consists of a regular succession of squares or circles. The violent motions of the dance do not disturb these elaborate preparations, but great care is taken to preserve them from the effects of the dew or rain.”

Whenever the Fijian desires to know whether his headdress is in proper order, he has recourse to his mirror. This is not a portable, but a fixed article of manufacture, and is necessarily situated in the open air. When the native sees a large tree with a sloping trunk, he cuts in the upper part of the trunk several deep hollows, and arranges the leaves of the tree so that the water from the foliage drips into them, and keeps them full. These are his mirrors, and by their aid he examines his hair, sees if the outline be quite correct, and, if he be dissatisfied, arranges it with his long-handled comb, and then replaces the comb in his mop of a head, carefully sticking it over one ear as a soldier does his forage cap.

Not content with having the hair plaited and frizzed out as has already been described, many of the Fijians wear great wigs over their own hair, thus increasing the size of their heads to the most inordinate dimensions. The natives are excellent wig-makers and, as their object is not to imitate nature, but to produce as fantastic an effect as possible, it is evident that the result of their labor is often very ludicrous. As is the case with their own hair, they dye these wigs of various colors, red and white being the favorite hues.

Three examples of these curious headdresses are shown in illustration No. 1, on preceding page, which represents an ambassador delivering a message from his chief to some man of consequence. Savages such as these have no idea of writing, but, lest they should forget the various terms of their message, they have recourse to a simple memoria technica, consisting of a bundle of sticks, no two being of the same length.

Each of these sticks answers to one of the terms of the message, which is repeated once or twice to the ambassador, who reckons them over on his sticks. When he delivers his message, he unties the bundle, selects the sticks in their order, and, laying them down in succession, delivers the message without a mistake.

In the illustration, the principal figure represents the ambassador, the others being[926] his attendants. He has laid down several of the sticks, and is delivering the message belonging to one of them, while he is holding the rest in his left hand. His headdress is of that remarkable kind which consists of a number of conical locks of hair—a fashion which denotes a man of rank, as no other could afford to have such a coiffure kept in order. The man seated next to the ambassador has his hair in two colors, the greater part being dark and frizzed out from the head, while a couple of rolls of a lighter hue pass over the forehead. The central figure exhibits a favorite mode of hair-dressing, in which the hair is clipped very short, except in certain spots, in which it is allowed to grow, so as to form a series of brush-like tufts.

Men of consequence mostly protect their enormous mops of hair by a sort of thin turban, which is wrapped round them. The turban is made of a piece of very delicate bark cloth, or masi, nearly as thin as gauze, and perfectly white. It is sometimes six feet in length, but varies according to the quantity of hair. It is twisted round the head in different fashions, but is mostly fastened by a bow on the forehead, or on the top of the head. Several examples of the turban will be seen in the course of the following pages. Men of rank often wear the masi of such length that the ends fall down behind like a scarf.

In order to preserve their hair from being displaced by rain, they use a waterproof covering of their own invention. This is a young banana leaf, which is heated over a fire, and then becomes as thin, transparent, and impervious to water as oiled silk. The light turban offers no protection whatever, being soaked as easily as tissue paper, which it somewhat resembles.

Material similar to that which is worn on the head is used for the dress. The masi which is employed for this purpose is mostly from twenty to thirty feet in length, though a wealthy man will sometimes wear a masi of nearly three hundred feet long. In this case, it is made of very delicate material. It is put on in a very simple manner, part being wound round the loins, and the rest passed under the legs and tucked into the belt, so as to hang as low as the knees in front, and to fall as low as possible behind. A wealthy man will often have his masi trailing far behind him like a train. This is all the dress which a Fiji man needs. Clothing as a protection from the weather is needless, owing to the geniality of the climate, and the masi is worn simply as a matter of fashion.

Ornaments are worn in great profusion, and are of the kinds which seem dear to all savage races. Ear ornaments of portentous size are worn by the inhabitants of Fiji, some of them stretching the lobe to such an extent that a man’s two fists could be placed in the opening. The Fijians also wear breast ornaments, very similar in shape and appearance to the large dibbi-dibbi which is worn by the Northern Australians, and has evidently been borrowed from the Papuan race. Any glittering objects can be made into necklaces, which often combine the most incongruous objects, such as European beads, bits of tortoise-shell, dogs’ teeth, bats’ jaws, and the like.

Flowers are plentifully worn by the Fijian, who keeps up a constant supply of these natural ornaments, weaving them into strings and chaplets, and passing them, like belts, over one shoulder and under the other. In the illustration on page 937th, which represents the payment of taxes, several girls are seen adorned with these garlands.

Tattooing is almost entirely confined to the women, and even in them is but little seen, the greater part of the patterns being covered by the liku or fringe apron. When young, the women usually tattoo their fingers with lines and stars in order to make them look ornamental as they present food to the chief, and, after they become mothers, they add a blue patch at each corner of the mouth. The operation is a painful one, though not so torturing as that which is employed in New Zealand, the pattern being made by the punctures of a sharp-toothed instrument, and not by the edge of a chisel driven completely through the skin.

Paint is used very largely, the three principal colors being black, white, and red. With these three tints they contrive to produce a variety of effect on their faces, that is only to be rivalled by the fancy displayed in their hair-dressing. Sometimes the face is all scarlet with the exception of the nose, which is black, and sometimes the face is divided like a quartered heraldic shield, and painted red and black, or white, red, and black in the different quarterings. Some men will have one side of the face black and the other white, while others paint their countenances black as far as the nose, and finish them off with white.

Reversing the first-mentioned pattern, the Fijian dandy will occasionally paint his face black and his nose red, or will have a black face, a white nose, a scarlet ring round each eye, and a white crescent on the forehead. Sometimes he will wear a white face covered with round scarlet spots like those on a toy horse; or will substitute for the round spots a large patch on each cheek and another round the mouth, just like the face of a theatrical clown.

Some very curious effects are produced by lines. A white face with a single broad black stripe from the forehead to the chin has a very remarkable appearance, and so has a face of which one side is painted longitudinally with black stripes on a white ground, and the other half with transverse[927] stripes of the same colors. A similar pattern is sometimes produced with black upon red. Perhaps the oddest of all the patterns is formed by painting the face white, and upon the white drawing a number of undulating lines from the forehead downward, the lines crossing each other so as to form a sort of rippling network over the face.

So much for the dress of the men. That of the women is different in every way. Though possessing the same kind of stiff, wiry, profuse hair as the men, they do not trouble themselves to weave it into such fantastic designs, but mostly content themselves with combing it out so as to project as far as possible on every side. Sometimes they twist it into a series of locks, which are allowed to fall on the head merely at random, like the thrums of a mop.

Paint is employed by them as by the men, though not with such profusion. Scarlet seems to be their favorite color in paint, and to this predilection Mr. Pickering was indebted for opportunities of ascertaining by touch the peculiar roughness of the Papuan skin. The Fijians, an essentially ceremonious and punctilious people, will not allow themselves to be handled, and Mr. Pickering was rather perplexed as to the means of ascertaining whether this roughness belonged to the race, or whether it were only a peculiarity belonging to individuals. The love of scarlet paint here came to his assistance. The vermilion prepared by European art was so much superior to the pigments of Fiji, that the natives were only too glad to have so brilliant a color put on their faces and bodies. Accordingly men and women, old and young, pressed forward to have a little vermilion rubbed on them, and the mothers, after having their own faces painted, held out their infants to participate in the same benefit.

The native cloth, or masi, which has already been mentioned, is made from the inner bark of the malo tree, and is manufactured in a simple and ingenious manner.

As at the present day English fabrics are largely imported into Fiji, and are rapidly supplanting the delicate and becoming native manufactures, the art of making the masi will soon become extinct in Fiji, as has been the case in other islands where Europeans have gained a footing. I shall therefore devote a few lines to the description of its manufacture.

The natives cut off the bark in long strips, and soak them in water for some time, until the inner bark can be separated from the outer, an operation which is performed with the edge of a shell. After it has been removed from the coarse outer bark, it is kept in water so as to preserve it in the necessary state of moisture; and when a sufficient quantity is collected, the operation of beating it begins.

Masi is beaten upon a log of wood flattened on the upper surface, and so arranged as to spring a little with the blows of the mallet. This tool does not resemble our mallet with a handle and a head, but is simply a piece of wood about fourteen inches in length and two in thickness, rounded at one end so as to form a handle, and squared for the remainder of its length. Three sides of this mallet, or iki, as it is called, are covered with longitudinal grooves, while the fourth side is left plain. Those specimens that I have seen have the sides not quite flat, but very slightly convex, perhaps by use, perhaps rounded intentionally. A masi maker has several of these mallets, sometimes as many as six or seven, each having some difference in the fluting, and with them she contrives to produce a fabric that has all the effect of woven linens among ourselves, the pattern being incorporated with the material.

There are in my collection several specimens of masi, one of which is singularly beautiful. It is thin, snowy white, and soft as silk, and, even at a distance, must have looked very graceful when wrapped round the dark body of a Fijian warrior. But it is only on a closer examination that the real beauty of the fabric is displayed. Instead of merely beating the masi after the usual fashion, so as to impress upon it the longitudinal grooves of the mallet, the native manufacturer has contrived to change the position of her mallet at every blow, so as to produce a zigzag pattern on the fabric, very much like the well-known Greek pattern of European decorators. It is beautifully regular, and, when the fabric is held up to the light, looks like the water mark in paper.

The plasticity of the malo bark is really wonderful. A strip of two inches in length can be beaten to the width of eighteen inches, its length being slightly reduced as the width increases. As the material is very thin and flimsy, a single piece being, when beaten out, no thicker than tissue paper, two or more pieces are usually laid on each other and beaten so as to form a single thickness, the natural gluten which this material contains being sufficient to unite them as if they had been one piece. Some specimens of their larger mantles, now in my collection, are as thick as stout brown paper, and very much tougher, appearing both to the eye and the touch as if made of leather.

When a large masi has to be made, many lengths of the bark are united to each other, the ends being soaked in arrowroot starch, laid carefully over each other, and then subjected to the mallet, which forces the two pieces of bark to unite as if they were one substance, and does not exhibit the least trace of the junction. As I have already mentioned, some of these masis are of very great length. Mr. Williams measured one which was for the use of the king on festival days, and found its length to be five hundred and[928] forty feet. Many of the large, and at the same time thin masis, are used as mosquito curtains, and in that case are decorated with patterns of dusky red and black. The patterns generally commence at the centre, and are gradually extended toward the edges. The mode of making these patterns is well described by Mr. Williams:—

“Upon a convex board, several feet long, are arranged parallel, at about a finger’s width apart, thin straight strips of bamboo, a quarter of an inch wide; and by the side of these, curved pieces, formed of the mid-rib of cocoa-nut leaflets, are arranged. Over the board thus prepared the cloth is laid, and rubbed over with a dye obtained from the lauci (Aleurites triloba). The cloth, of course, takes the dye upon those parts which receive pressure, being supported by the strips beneath, and thus shows the same pattern in the color employed. A stronger preparation of the same dye, laid on with a sort of brush, is used to divide the squares into oblong compartments, with large round or radiated dots in the centre. The kesa, or dye, when good, dries bright.

“Blank borders, two or three feet wide, are still left on each side of the square, and to elaborate the ornamentation of these so as to excite applause is the pride of every Fijian lady. There is now an entire change of apparatus. The operator works on a plain board; the red dye gives place to a jet black; her pattern is now formed by a strip of banana leaf placed on the upper surface of the cloth. Out of the leaf is cut the pattern, not more than an inch long, which she wishes to print upon the border, and holds by her first and middle finger, pressing it down with the thumb. Then, taking in her right hand a soft pad of cloth steeped in dye, she rubs it firmly over the stencil, and a fair, sharp figure is made.

“The practised fingers of the women move quickly, but it is after all a tedious process. In the work above described, the Lakemba women excel. On the island of Matuku very pretty curtains are made, but the pattern is large, and covers the entire square, while the spaces between the black lines are filled in with red and yellow.”

We now pass to the liku, or fringed girdle of the women. This is made of various materials, and much trouble is usually expended in its manufacture. The ordinary likus are little more than a number of slight thongs fixed to a belt, and allowed to hang down for several inches. When worn, it is passed round the waist and tied, not behind, but on one side, and on festivals the bark cord by which it is fastened is allowed to hang so low that it often trails on the ground as the wearer walks along.

The thongs are made of the bark of a species of hibiscus, called by the natives vau, and used for many purposes, of long flexible roots like that of the cascus grass, and of different grasses. One kind of liku which is rather fashionable, is made of a vegetable parasite, called by the natives waloa. The thongs of this liku are not thicker than, packthread, and when fresh, are as flexible as silk. In process of time, however, they become brittle, and are apt to break. The color of this material is deep glossy black.

There are in my collection two specimens of the liku, one of them being made of the fashionable waloa. The other is the common liku. It is made of split grass, the blades of which are more than three feet in length. In order to make them into the garment they have been doubled, and the loops woven into a narrow plaited belt of the same material. The better kind of likus are, however, made with far greater care than is bestowed on this article. There is but little difference in the thongs, the chief labor being bestowed on the belt. In some cases the belt of the liku is four inches in width, and is plaited into elegant patterns, plaiting being an art in which the natives excel.

In general shape the liku never varies, being worn by girls and women alike. As long as a girl is unmarried, she wears a liku the fringe of which is not more than three inches in depth, and the whole article is so scanty that when tied round the waist the ends do not meet at the hips by several inches. As soon as the girl is married, she changes her liku in token of her new rank, and wears a garment with a fringe that reaches half-way to her knees, and which entirely surrounds the body. After she has become a mother, she wears an apron which quite reaches to the knees, and sometimes falls below them.




Mats of various kinds are made by the women, and they display as much ingenuity in mat-making as in the manufacture of masi. Mats are employed for many purposes. The sails of the Fijian canoes are always made of matting, which is woven in lengths and then sewed together afterward, just as is the case with our own canvas sails. The width of the strips varies from two to four feet, and their length from three to a hundred yards. On an average, however, the usual length of these strips is twenty feet, that being the ordinary length of a sail. Sail mats are necessarily rather coarse, and are made from the leaf of the cocoa-nut palm.

Then there are floor-mats, which are used as carpets in the houses. These vary in size according to the dimensions of the house, but twenty feet by sixteen is a very ordinary measurement. They are generally adorned with a border or pattern round the edges, this border being about six inches wide, and often decorated with feathers and scraps of any colored material that can be procured. Mats of a similar character, but much finer texture, are used as bedding; the best kind, which is called ono, being of a very fine texture.

The native love of ornament is in no way better displayed than in their rope and string making. The best rope is formed from several strands of sinnet. This is a sort of plait made from the fibre of the cocoa-nut. The fibre is carefully removed from the nut, baked, and combed out like wool. Cordage is made by twisting sinnet together, and some of the Fijian cords are nearly as thick as a cable, and possessed of extraordinary elasticity and strength. The sinnet is used in a great variety of offices, houses being built and the planks of the canoes tied together with this most useful material.

When made, the sinnet is made into great rolls, some of them being of gigantic dimensions. Mr. Williams saw one which was twelve feet long, and nearly seven feet in diameter. These rolls are differently shaped, and each shape is known by its own name, such as the double cone, the plain hank, the oval ball, the honeycomb ball, and the variegated roll. These rolls are given as presents, and offered to the chiefs as tribute, together with other property. In the large illustration on page 937, which represents a tax-paying scene, one or two of these rolls are shown.

Sinnet is the favorite material for net making, but as it is costly, nets are often constructed of the hibiscus bark. Another material is a sort of creeper named yaka, which is steeped in water to dissolve the green matter, then scraped to clean the fibres, and, lastly, twisted into strings. It is remarkable that the netting needle and mesh are exactly similar to those which are employed by ourselves, and the same may be said of the mesh and needle of the Esquimaux.


The same ingenuity in plaiting which is expended in the making and rolling of sinnet asserts itself in various other manufactures, such as basket and fan making. In the latter art the Fijian excels, and, as the fan is almost as important to the Fijian as to the Japanese, much play of fancy is exhibited in fan making. Dissimilar as are these fans in shape, there is always a sort of character about them which denotes their origin to a practised eye.

I have a specimen in my collection, which is a very good type of the Fijian fan. It is two feet in length, and rather more than a foot broad in the widest part. The handle is made of cocoa-nut wood, and extends nearly to the end of the fan, so as to form a support through its entire length. It is fastened to the fan by double bands of the finest and most beautifully plaited sinnet. The material of which the fan is composed is cocoa-nut leaf, divided into doubled strips about the third of an inch in width near the base of the fan, and gradually decreasing toward its tip. A strong band of the same material runs round the edges of the fan, and the two ends of this band are secured to the handle by the same sinnet as has been just mentioned.

Such a fan as this is employed rather as a sunshade or parasol than a fan, and is held over the head when the owner happens to be seated in the sunshine. It is very light, and is really a much more efficient implement than its appearance intimates.

The form of the fan is exceedingly variable. Sometimes they are triangular, with the handle projecting from one of the angles, and sometimes they are square, but with the handle passing diagonally across them. Various modifications of the battledoor are in much favor, and there is one form which almost exactly resembles that of the Japanese handscreen.

It is rather remarkable that the aborigines of tropical America, such as the Caribs, the Accowais, and the like, make fans of precisely similar material and structure, except that the handle is not separately made of wood, but is formed from the ends of the leaf-strips of which the implement is made.

There is another curious article of manufacture which is properly Fijian, but extends through several of the Polynesian group. It is the orator’s flapper, which the native holds in his hand while he speaks in council. An engraving showing its form is given on the 949th page. The handle is carved into various patterns, and mostly, though not invariably, is terminated by a rude representation of a couple of human figures seated back to back. Sometimes the entire handle is covered with sinnet, plaited in the most delicate patterns, as none but a Fijian can plait. The tuft at the end is formed of cocoa-nut fibre, which has first been soaked in water, next rolled round a small twig, and then dried. When it is unwound from the stick, it has a crisp, wrinkled appearance, very like that of the Fijian’s hair, and is probably intended to imitate it. In the specimens of my collection, some have sinnet-covered handles, and some carved handles, while some have the tuft black, and others sandy red, just as is the case with the hair of the natives.

In their basket making, the Fijians are equally lavish of their artistic powers, weaving them in patterns of such elaborate intricacy as to put the best European makers to shame, and then, as if not satisfied with the amount of work bestowed upon them, covering all the edges with sinnet, braided into really artistic patterns.

Indeed, the Fijians are born artists. Their work, although sometimes grotesque, is always artistic, because always appropriate. They carry this feeling of art into the material whose plasticity allows the greatest freedom of manipulation; namely, earthenware. Some of the vessels which are intended for cooking are quite plain, while others which are made for other purposes are of elegant shape, and covered with ornaments. Mr. Williams suggests, with much probability, that the cooking pots are made in imitation of the cells of a species of black bee which inhabits the Fiji group of islands.

Several specimens of Fijian pottery are in the British Museum. As examples of intuitive art they are far superior in outline and ornament to the generality of decorated earthenware in civilized countries. A conventional imitation of nature is the principle which is employed by the Fijian potters, who find their chief patterns in flowers, leaves, and fruits, thus obtaining the most graceful curves, joined to great certainty and precision of outline.

Rude as is the manipulation of the potter, and coarse as is the material, the design of the vessel is sure to be bold and vigorous, putting to shame the feeble prettiness with which we are too familiar in this country. Going to nature for their models, the Fijian potters display a wonderful power, fertility, and originality of design. In any country, an artist who really studies nature is sure to produce works that are fresh and original; and in a country like Fiji, which is within the tropics, and in which the magnificent vegetation of the tropics springs up in luxuriant profusion, it is likely that an artist, however rude he may be, who studies in such a school, will produce works of genuine merit.

The art of pottery is confined to the women, and is practically restricted to the wives and daughters of fishermen. The material employed by them is a red or blue clay mixed with sand, and their implements are merely an annular cushion, a flat stone, one or two wooden scrapers, a round stone to hold against the inside of the vessel, and[931] a sharp stick. They have no wheel: and yet, in spite of such disadvantages, they contrive to produce vessels so true in outline, that few persons, unless they are practically acquainted with pottery, could believe that they were merely rounded by the eye.

The shapes of nearly all the vessels are very elegant, as is likely to be the case from the models employed by the maker. They are often wonderfully elaborate specimens of workmanship. Permanently covered vessels, with a hole in the lid, are very common, and Mr. Williams saw one jar as large as a hogshead, that was furnished with four openings for the purpose of filling and emptying it rapidly. The most remarkable examples are the compound vessels, several being united together at the point where they touch, and further connected by arched handles. In some cases, even the handles are hollow, and have an opening at the top, so that the vessels can be filled or emptied through them. This compound form has lately been copied by Europeans.

Considering the amount of labor and artistic skill which is given to pottery, it is a pity that the natives are not better off for material and firing. The material is very coarse, and the very imperfect mode of baking fails to give to the vessels the hard and almost imperishable quality which distinguishes properly prepared earthenware.

After the vessels have been shaped, and the decorative patterns traced on them with a sharp stick, they are placed on the ground close together, but not touching each other, and covered with a quantity of dried leaves, grass, reeds, and similar materials. The pile is then lighted, and when it has burned itself out the baking is supposed to be finished. Those pots that are to be glazed are rubbed, while still hot, with kawri, the same resin which has already been mentioned in the account of New Zealand.

As may be expected in an island population, the Fijians are expert fishermen, and employ various means of securing their prey. Nets, weighted at one edge with shells and floated at the other with pieces of light wood, are much used; and so are the hook, the creel, and the weir. In some places a very remarkable net, or rather an imitation of a net, called the rau, is used. To the long, flexible stems of creepers are fastened a quantity of split cocoa-nut leaves, so as to make a fringe of considerable depth and very great length, one of these raus sometimes measuring nearly ten thousand feet from one end to the other.

When completed, the rau is taken out to sea and thrown into the water, the ends being attached to canoes, which stretch it to a straight line. They then make for a small bay, across which the rau can be drawn, and then capture all the fish by smaller nets or spears. Sometimes they do not trouble themselves to return to the shore, but bring the net round in a circle, the fish being so afraid of the leafy fringe that they avoid it, and keep themselves in the middle of the toils.

The principal use of the net is, however, in turtle fishing, a sport which may be almost called an art. The turtle fishers supply themselves with sinnet nets, some ten feet in width, and one or two hundred yards in length. While the turtle are feeding upon the shore, the fishermen carry out the net and shoot it to seaward, so that when the turtle returns to the sea after feeding, it is sure to be intercepted by the net, which has large meshes, in order to entangle the flippers of the reptile.

When the fishermen feel that the turtle is fairly caught, they proceed to get it on board, a task of very great difficulty and some danger, inasmuch as the turtle is in its own element, and the men are obliged to dive and conduct their operations under water. The most active diver tries to seize the end of one of the fore-flippers, and pulls it violently downward, knowing that the instinctive desire to rid itself of the inconvenience will cause the reptile to rise. Of course the diver can only retain his hold for a limited time, but as soon as he rises to the surface for breath another takes his place. Should the turtle be a vicious one, as is often the case, one of the divers grasps it across the head, fixing his finger and thumb in the sockets of the eyes, so as to prevent the creature from doing mischief.

Finding itself thus hampered, the turtle rises to the surface, when it is seized by the other fishermen who are in the canoe, hauled on board, and laid on its back, in which position it is utterly helpless. The successful fishermen then blow loud blasts of triumph on their conch-shell trumpets, and bring their prize to land.

In consequence of the number of men who are employed in this pursuit, the men almost invariably fish in parties, who are engaged by some individual. Sometimes they are the servants of a chief, and fish on his account, all the captured turtles belonging to him, but the fishermen always receive a present of some kind when they have been successful. Should the fishers be free men, they hire themselves, their nets, and canoe to some one who will pay the regular price, for which they are bound to make ten expeditions. Should they be entirely unsuccessful, they get nothing, but each time that they bring a turtle ashore they receive a present from the hirer, who is obliged, after the completion of the fishing, to give the men a handsome present. Sometimes several turtles are taken in a single day; but the business is a very precarious one, even the best fishermen returning day after day without catching a single turtle.

Some of the modes of catching the turtle[932] are very ingenious. When the men have no net, they chase the reptile as they best can, keeping the shadow of the sail just behind it so as to frighten it, and keep it continually on the move. They will pursue it in this way for a long time, until the creature is so exhausted that it can be captured by a few divers without the aid of a net. When brought home, the turtles are kept in pens and killed as wanted.

Although the flesh of the turtle is highly esteemed, and the green fat is appreciated nearly as much as in England, the chief value of the turtle lies in its shell, the thirteen plates of which are called a “head,” and sold to the traders by weight. A “head” weighing three pounds is a fair one, a head that weighs four pounds is exceptionally good, while one that exceeds five pounds is hardly ever seen.

The dangers that beset the turtle fishery are many. Chief among them is the shark, which is very plentiful on these coasts, and which is equally fond of men and turtle, so that when it sees a turtle entangled in the net it makes an attack, and is as likely to take off the limb of one of the divers as to seize the reptile. Another fertile source of danger lies in the structure of the coral reefs, which form the principal shores of these islands. They are full of hollows and crannies, and it sometimes happens that a diver becomes entangled in them, and is not able to extricate himself in time to save his life.

As the canoes return home after turtle fishing, the women come down to the shore and meet them. Should the expedition be successful, the men return with songs and shouts of triumph, as if they were bringing home the bodies of slain foes, on which occasion, as we shall presently see, a scene of horrid rejoicing takes place. Should they be unsuccessful, they return in sad silence.

In the former case, the women welcome the successful fishermen with songs and dances, and sometimes become rather rough in the exuberance of their delight. Mr. Williams once witnessed an amusing scene, in which the women brought a quantity of bitter oranges down to the shore, and when the fishermen were about to land, pelted them so mercilessly that the men were in self-defence obliged to drive their aggressors off the beach.

As the canoe has so often been mentioned in connection with fishing, it will be now described. In principle it resembles the form which prevails among the great Polynesian group, though in detail it differs from many of the ordinary vessels. All the canoes possess modifications of the outrigger, but the best example is the double canoe, where two boats are placed side by side in such a manner that one of them acts as the outrigger and the other as the canoe.

If the reader will refer to illustration No. 2, on the 924th page, he will be able to understand the general appearance of this curious vessel. The two canoes are covered over, so as to keep out the water, and are connected by a platform which projects over the outer edges of both boats. Hatchways are cut through the platform, so as to enable the sailors to pass into the interior of the canoes. In the illustration a man is seen emerging from the hatch of the outer canoe. Upon this platform is erected a sort of deck-house for the principal person on board, and on the top of the deck-house is a platform, on which stands the captain of the vessel, so that he may give his orders from this elevated position, like the captain of a steamboat on the paddle-box or bridge. This position also enables him to trace the course of the turtle, if they should be engaged in the profitable chase of that reptile.

The mode of managing the vessel is extremely ingenious. The short mast works on a pivot at the foot, and can be slacked over to either end of the vessel. When the canoe is about to get under way, the long yard is drawn up to the head of the mast, and the latter inclined, so that the mast, the yard, and the deck form a triangle. The halyards are then made fast, and act as stays. When the vessel is wanted to go about, the mast is slacked off to the other end, so that the stern becomes the bow, the tack and the sheet change places, and away goes the vessel on the other course.

It will be seen that such a canoe sails equally well in either direction, and, therefore, that it can be steered from either end. The rudder is a very large oar, some twenty feet in length, of which the blade occupies eight, and is sixteen inches wide. The leverage of such an oar is tremendous, and, in a stiff gale, several men are required to work it. In order to relieve them in some degree, rudder-bands are used; but even with this assistance the men have great difficulty in keeping the canoe to her course, and are nearly sure to receive some very sharp blows in the side from the handle of the steering oar. Sometimes a sudden gust of wind, or a large wave, will bring round the rudder with such violence that the handle strikes a man in the side and kills him. With all these drawbacks, canoe sailing is a favorite occupation with the Fijians, who are as merry as possible while on board, singing songs to encourage the steersman, watching the waves and giving notice of them, and adding to the joyous tumult by beating any drum that they may happen to have on board. Even when the wind fails, and the canoe has to be propelled by poling if she should be in shoal water, or by sculling if she should be too far out at sea for the poles, the crew do their work in gangs, which are relieved at regular intervals, those who are resting singing songs and encouraging those who are at work.


Sculling one of these large canoes is rather heavy work, the great paddles being worked from side to side in perfect unison, the men moving their feet in accordance with the rhythm of their comrades’ song. As many as eight sculls are sometimes employed at the same time, should the canoe be a large one and the crew tolerably numerous. The sculling oars pass through holes in the deck, an equal number being out fore and aft.

The mode of building these canoes is so ingenious that I will try to describe it, though without a plentiful use of diagrams description is very difficult. Canoes of moderate size are cut out of single logs; and in these there is nothing particularly worthy of remark. But when the native ship-builder wishes to construct one of the great war canoes, he has to exercise all the skill of his craft.

Here it must be mentioned that the canoe makers form a sort of clan of their own, and have their own chief, who is always a man eminent for skill in his profession. The experienced Fijians know the workmanship of these men as well as our artists know the touch and style of a celebrated sculptor or painter, and contemplate both the man and his workmanship with respectful admiration.

The first process in canoe building is to lay the keel, which is made of several pieces of wood carefully “scarfed” together; and upon it the planking is fixed, without requiring ribs, as in our boats. The most ingenious part of boat building is the way that the planks are fastened, or rather tied together, without a vestige of the sinnet appearing on the outside. Along the inside edge of each plank runs a bold flange, through which a number of holes are bored downward at regular distances, so that when two planks are placed together, the holes in the flanges exactly coincide, and a cord can be run through them.

When a plank has been made, and all the flange holes bored, the edges are smeared with a sort of white pitch, upon which is laid a strip of fine masi. This of course covers the holes, which are reopened by means of a small fire-stick. The planks thus prepared are called “vonos.” When the vono is ready, it is lifted to its place, and very carefully adjusted, so that all the holes exactly coincide. The best and strongest sinnet is next passed eight or ten times through the hole, drawn as tight as possible, and then tied. It will be seen, therefore, that all the tying is done inside the vessel. In order to tighten the sinnet still more, a number of little wedges are inserted under it in different directions, and are driven home with the mallet.

By this process the planks are brought so tightly together that, when the carpenter comes to smooth off the outside of the vessel with his adze, he often has to look very closely before he can see the line of junction. Caulking is therefore needless, the white pitch and masi rendering the junction of the planks completely waterproof. The vonos are by no means equal in size, some being twenty feet in length, while others are barely thirty inches, but all are connected in exactly the same manner.

The gunwales, and other parts above the water mark, do not require so much care, and are fastened without flanges, a strip of wood or “bead” being laid upon the junction, and the sinnet bands passing over and over it and drawn tight with wedges, and the holes carefully caulked with fibre and pitch. When the canoe is completed, it is beautifully finished off, the whole of the outside being first carefully trimmed with the adze, and then polished with pumice stone, so that it looks as if it were made of one piece of wood.

Ornament is freely used in the best canoes, especially in the two projecting ends, which are carved in patterns, and frequently inlaid with white shells belonging to the genus Ovulum or egg shells. This form of canoe has gradually superseded the more clumsy forms that were once in use in Tonga and the neighboring islands. The Tongans often made voyages to Fiji, being better and bolder sailors, though their canoes were inferior; and, having been struck with the superiority of Fijian boat-building, have by degrees built their own vessels after Fijian models. Being also remarkably good carpenters, they have taken to boat building even in Fiji itself, and have in a great measure ousted the native builders, being able to work better and quicker, and for less pay.

In spite of their excellent canoes, and their skill in managing their vessels, the Fijians are not bold sailors, and, according to Mr. Williams, “none have yet taken their canoes beyond the boundaries of their own group.” He knew one old man named Toalevu (Great Fowl) who had a fancy that he could make a profitable trading expedition westward, and who accordingly loaded his canoe with pottery and masi, and started off. After two or three days, however, he became frightened, and made the best of his way back again, only to become a standing warning to rash voyagers. Yet in waters which they know the Fijians are excellent sailors, and the women appear to be as bold and skilful as the men, assisting in steering, managing the sail, and even in the laborious task of sculling or poling.

Owing to their excellence in canoe building, the Fijians carry on a brisk trade with other islands, supplying them not only with the canoes, but with the masts, sails, sinnet, and other nautical appliances, receiving in exchange the whales’ teeth, shells, weapons, and other valued commodities.




Owing to the geographical nature of the Fiji group, which consists of seven groups of islands, some of them very large and some very small, the mode of government has never been monarchical, the country being ruled by a number of chiefs of greater or less importance, according to the amount of territory over which their sway extended. The various islands had in former days but little connection with each other. At the present time, more intercourse takes place, and in one instance the visit involves a singular and ludicrous ceremonial.

One of the gods belonging to Somo-somo, named Ng-gurai, went to visit Mbau a spot on the eastern coast of Viti Lemi, one of the greater islands, and to pay his respects to the god of that place. He was accompanied by a Vuna god named Vatu-Mundre, who gave him a bamboo by way of a vessel, and undertook to guide him on his journey. Ng-gurai then entered into the body of a rat, seated himself on the bamboo, and set off on his journey. After they had sailed for some time, Ng-gurai lost his way on account of wanting to call at every island which he passed, and at last, just as he arrived on the Mbau shore, he was washed off the bamboo and nearly drowned in the surf.

From this fate he was rescued by a Mbau woman, who took him into the chiefs house, and put him among the cooks on the hearth, where he sat shivering for four days. Meanwhile, Vatu-Mundre arrived at his destination, and was received in royal manner by the Mbau god, who tried in vain to induce him to become tributary to him.

After a proper interval, the Mbau god returned the visit of Vatu-Mundre, who had craftily greased the path, so that when his visitor became animated, his feet slipped, and he fell on his back. Vatu-Mundre then took advantage of his situation, and forced his visitor to become his tributary.

In consequence of this affair, the Mbau people pay a homage to the natives of Vuna, but indemnify themselves by exacting a most humiliating homage from the men of Somo-somo, though in fact Somo-somo is the acknowledged superior of Vuna.

Whenever a Somo-somo canoe goes to Mbau, the sail must be lowered at a certain distance from shore, and the crew must paddle in a sitting position. To keep up the sail or to paddle in the usual standing[935] position would cost them their lives. As soon as they come within hearing of the shore they have to shout the Tama, i. e. the reverential salutation of an inferior to a superior, and to reiterate it at short intervals.

Arrived on shore, they are not allowed to enter a house, but are kept in the open air for four days, during which time they are obliged to wear their worst dresses, move about in a stooping attitude, and to say the Tama in a low and trembling voice, in imitation of the shivering rat-god. After the four days have expired, they may enter houses and dress in better clothes, but are still obliged to walk in a half-bent attitude. When a Mbau man meets one of these crouching visitors, he cries out, “Ho! Ho!” in a jeering manner, and asks the Somo-somo man whether his god is yet at liberty. The unfortunate visitor is then obliged to place his hand on his heart, stoop half-way to the ground, and say humbly that Ng-gurai is allowed his liberty.

Naturally disliking this oppressive and humiliating custom, the people of Somo-somo have of late years managed to evade it by means of foreign vessels. The custom of lowering the sail and paddling while seated was not binding on people of other countries, and so they contrived to visit Mbau on board of Tongan canoes, or, better still, English ship-boats.

Of late years the government has assumed a feudal aspect, the chiefs of large districts being considered as kings, and having under them a number of inferior chiefs who are tributary to them, and bound to furnish men and arms when the king declares war. According to Mr. Williams, the Fijians may be ranked under six distinct orders. First come the kings, and next to them the chiefs of separate large islands or districts. Then come the chiefs of towns, the priests, and the Mata-ni-vanuas, or aides-de-camp of the great chiefs. Next to them come the chiefs of professions, such as canoe building and turtle fishing, and with them are ranked any distinguished warriors of low birth. The fifth rank includes all the commonalty, and the sixth consists of the slaves, who are always captives.

As is often the case in countries where polygamy is practised, the law of descent passes through the female line, the successor of the king or chief being always the son of a woman of high rank.

The oddest part of Fijian political economy is the system of Vasu, or nephew—a system which may be described as nepotism carried to the greatest possible extreme. Mr. Williams’s description of the Vasu is very curious. “The word means a nephew, or niece, but becomes a title of office in the case of the male, who in some localities has the extraordinary privilege of appropriating whatever he chooses belonging to his uncle, or those under his uncle’s power.

“Vasus are of three kinds: the Vasu-taukei, the Vasu-levu and the Vasu;—the last is a common name, belonging to any nephew whatever. Vasu-taukei is a term applied to any Vasu whose mother is a lady of the land in which he was born. The fact of Mbau being at the head of Fijian rank gives the Queen of Mbau a pre-eminence over all Fijian ladies, and her son a place nominally over all Vasus.

“No material difference exists between the power of a Vasu-taukei and a Vasu-levu, which latter title is given to every Vasu born of a woman of rank, and having a first-class chief for his father. A Vasu-taukei can claim anything belonging to a native of his mother’s land, excepting the wives, home, and land of a chief. Vasus cannot be considered apart from the civil polity of the group, forming, as they do, one of its integral parts, and supplying the high-pressure power of Fijian despotism.

“In grasping at dominant influence, the chiefs have created a power, which ever and anon turns round and grips them with no gentle hand. However high a chief may rank, however powerful a king may be, if he has a nephew, he has a master, one who will not be content with the name, but who will exercise his prerogative to the full seizing whatever will take his fancy, regardless of its value or the owner’s inconvenience in its loss. Resistance is not to be thought of, and objection is only offered in extreme cases. A striking instance of the power of the Vasu occurred in the case of Thokonauto, a Rewa chief, who, during a quarrel with an uncle, used the right of Vasu, and actually supplied himself with ammunition from his enemy’s stores....

“Descending in the social scale, the Vasu is a hindrance to industry, few being willing to labor unrewarded for another’s benefit. One illustration will suffice. An industrious uncle builds a canoe in which he has not made half-a-dozen trips, when an idle nephew mounts the deck, sounds his trumpet-shell, and the blast announces to all within hearing that the canoe has that instant changed masters.”

The Vasu of a king is necessarily a personage of very great importance; and when he acts as delegate for the king, he is invested for the time with royal dignity. He is sent, for example, to other places to collect property, which is handed over to his king as tribute; and were it not for a check which the king has over him, he might be tempted to enrich himself by exacting more from the people than they ought to give. In this case, however, the Vasu is held amenable to the king, and should he exceed his proper powers, is heavily fined.

Taxes, to which reference is here made, are paid in a manner differing materially from the mode adopted in more civilized countries. In Europe, for example, no one[936] pays a tax if he can possibly escape from it, and the visits of the tax-gatherer are looked upon as periodical vexations. In Fiji the case is different. People take a pride in paying taxes, and the days of payment are days of high festival.

On the appointed day the king prepares a great feast, and the people assemble in vast multitudes with their goods, such as rolls of sinnet, masi, whales’ teeth, reeds, women’s dresses—and often accompanied by their wearers—ornaments, weapons, and the like, and present themselves in turn before the king. Each man is clad in his very best raiment, is painted in the highest style of art, and displays the latest fashion in hair-dressing. With songs and dances the people approach their monarch, and lay their presents before him, returning to the banquet which he has prepared for them.

It is hardly possible to imagine a more animated scene than that which occurs when the tribute from a distant place is taken to the king, especially if, as is often the case, a valuable article, such as a large war canoe, is presented as part of the tribute. A fleet of canoes, containing several hundred people and great quantities of property, makes its appearance off the coast, and is received with great hospitality, as well may be the case. The king having seated himself on a large masi carpet, the principal chief of the tribute bearers comes before him, accompanied by his men bringing the presents with them in proper ceremonial, the chief himself carrying, in the folds of his robe, a whale’s tooth, which is considered as the symbol of the canoe which is about to be presented, and which is called by the same name as the canoe which it represents.

Approaching the king with the prescribed gestures, the chief kneels before him, and first offers to his master all the property which has been deposited on the ground. He then takes from the folds of his voluminous dress, which, as the reader may remember, is often several hundred feet in length, the whale’s tooth, and makes an appropriate speech. He compliments the king on the prosperity which is enjoyed by all districts under his sway, acknowledging their entire submission, and hoping that they may be allowed to live in order to build canoes for him. As an earnest of this wish, he presents the king with a new canoe, and, so saying, he gives the king the symbolical whale’s tooth, calling it by the name of the vessel. On receiving the tooth, the king graciously gives them his permission to live, whereupon all present clap their hands and shout, the cry of the receivers being different from that which is employed by the givers.

In the following illustration one of these animated scenes is represented.

Nearly in the centre is the king seated on the masi carpet, having his back to the spectator in order to show the mode in which the flowing robes of a great man are arranged. In front of him kneels the chief of the tax-paying expedition, who is in the act of offering to the king the symbolical whale’s tooth. One or two similar teeth lie by his side, and form a part of the present. In the distance is the flotilla of canoes, in which the tax-paying party have come; and near the shore is the new war canoe, which forms the chief part of the offering.

In the foreground are seen the various articles of property which constitute taxes, such as yams, rolls of cloth and sinnet, baskets, articles of dress, and young women, the last being dressed in the finest of likus, and being decorated, not only with their ordinary ornaments, but with wreaths and garlands of flowers. Behind the offering chief are his followers, also kneeling as a mark of respect for the king; and on the left hand are the spectators of the ceremony, in front of whom sit their chiefs and leading men.

Tribute is not only paid in property, but in labor, those who accompany the tax-paying chief being required to give their labor for several weeks. They work in the fields, they thatch houses, they help in canoe building, they go on fishing expeditions, and at the end of the stipulated time they receive a present, and return to their homes.

Should the king take it into his head to go and fetch the taxes himself, his visit becomes terribly burdensome to those whom he honors with his presence. He will be accompanied by some twenty or thirty canoes, manned by a thousand men or so, and all those people have to be entertained by the chief whom he visits. It is true that he always makes a present when he concludes his visit, but the present is entirely inadequate to the cost of his entertainment.

The tenure of land is nearly as difficult a question in Fiji as in New Zealand. It is difficult enough when discussed between natives, but when the matter is complicated by a quarrel between natives and colonists, it becomes a very apple of discord. Neither party can quite understand the other. The European colonist who buys land from a native chief purchases, according to his ideas, a complete property in the land, and control over it. The native who sells it has never conceived such an idea as the total alienation of land, and, in consequence, if the purchaser should happen to leave any part of the land unoccupied, the natives will build their houses upon it, and till it as before. Then as in process of time the proprietor wants to use his ground for his own purposes, the natives refuse to be ejected, and there is a quarrel.

The state of the case is very well put by Dr. Pritchard: “Every inch of land in Fiji has its owner. Every parcel or tract of ground has a name, and the boundaries are defined and well-known. The proprietorship rests in families, the heads of families being the representatives of the title. Every member of the family can use the lands attaching to the family. Thus the heads of families are the nominal owners, the whole family are the actual occupiers. The family land maintains the whole family, and the members maintain the head of the family.


(See page 936.)


“A chief holds his lands under precisely the same tenure, as head of his family, and his personal rights attain only to the land pertaining to his family, in which right every member of his family shares so far as on any portion of the land. But the chief is also head of his tribe, and, as such, certain rights to the whole lands of the tribe appertain to him. The tribe is a family, and the chief is the head of the family.

“The families of a tribe maintain the chief. In war they give him their services, and follow him to the fight. In peace they supply him with food. In this way, the whole tribe attains a certain collective interest in all the lands held by each family; and every parcel of land alienated contracts the source whence the collective tribal support of the chief is drawn. From this complicated tenure it is clear that the alienation of land, however large or small the tract, can be made valid only by the collective act of the whole tribe, in the persons of the ruling chief and the heads of families. Random and reckless land transactions under these circumstances would be simply another seizure of Naboth’s vineyard, for which the price of blood would inevitably have to be paid.”

Another cause of misunderstanding lies in a peculiar attachment which the Fijian has to the soil. When he sells a piece of land, it is an understood thing between the buyer and seller that the latter shall have the exclusive right of working on the ground, that none but he shall be employed to till the ground, or build houses upon it. The white settlers who understand the customs of the natives have accepted the condition, and find that it answers tolerably well. Those who are unacquainted with native ideas have often suffered severely for their ignorance, and, when they have brought a gang of their own workmen to put up a house on the newly purchased land, have been fairly driven out by armed parties of natives.

Mr. Pritchard narrates an amusing anecdote, which illustrates the working of this principle. A missionary had purchased some land according to the code of laws which had been agreed upon by the native chiefs and the colonists; all the natives who belonged to the family having been consulted, and agreed to the purchase. As a matter of course, they expected that the work of clearing the ground and building the house would be given to them. Being ignorant of this custom, the purchaser took some of his own people, but was immediately surrounded by a body of armed savages, who flourished their clubs and spears, and frightened him so much that he retreated to his boat, and made off. When he was well out of range, all those who had muskets fired them in the direction of the boat, as if to show that their intention was not to kill but merely to intimidate.

It will be seen from the foregoing passages, that the whole government of Fiji is a repetition of one principle, namely, that of the family. The head of a family is the nominal possessor of the land. All the members of the family use the land, and support their head, as a return for the use of the land. Districts again are considered as families, the chief being the head, and being supported by the district. The king, again, is considered as the father of all the chiefs, and the nominal owner of all the land in his dominions, and he is therefore entitled to be supported by the taxation which has been described. Practically, however, he has no more right to land than any other head of a family.

From the preceding observations the reader may see that a definite code of etiquette prevails among the Fiji islands. Indeed, there is no part of the world where etiquette is carried to a greater extent, or where it is more intimately interwoven with every action of ordinary life. If, for example, one man meets another on a path, both having, as usual, their clubs on their shoulders, as they approach each other they lower their clubs to their knees, as a token that they are at peace, and pass on. Retaining the club on the shoulder would be equivalent to a challenge to fight.

The leading characteristic of this code of etiquette is the reverence for the chief, a reverence which is carried to such a pitch, that in battle a chief sometimes comes out unhurt simply because his opponents were so much awe-stricken by his rank that they did not dare to strike him. Each superior therefore partakes of the chiefly character as far as his inferiors are concerned, and expects the appropriate acknowledgments of rank.

This extraordinary reverence is carried so far that it has invented a language of etiquette, no one with any pretensions to good breeding speaking in ordinary language of a chief, of a chiefs head or limbs, of a chiefs dress, or indeed of any action performed by a chief, but supplying a paraphrastic and hyperbolical phraseology, of which our own court language is but a faint shadow. The Tama, which has before been mentioned, is the right of a chief, and is therefore uttered by men of inferior rank, not only when they meet the chief himself, but when they come within a certain distance of his village. So elaborate is this code of ceremony that, discourteous as it might be to omit the Tama when due, it would be thought doubly so to utter it on occasions when it was not due. For example, the Tama is not used toward[940] the close of the day, or when the chief is either making a sail or watching a sail maker at work; and if the Tama were uttered on any such occasion, it would be resented as an insult.

Passing a superior on the wrong side, and sailing by his canoe on the outrigger side, are considered as solecisms in manners, while passing behind a chief is so deadly an insult that the man who dared do such a deed would run the risk of getting his brains knocked out on the spot, or, if he were a rich man, would have to pay a very heavy fine, or “soro,” by way of compensation. The reason of this rule is evident enough. The Fijian is apt to be treacherous, and when he attacks another always tries to take him unawares, and steals on him, if possible, from behind. It is therefore a rule, that any one passing behind a superior is looked upon as contemplating assassination, and makes himself liable to the appropriate penalty.

If a man should meet a chief, the inferior withdraws from the path, lays his club on the ground, and crouches in a bent position until the great man has passed by. If, however, the two men should be of tolerably equal rank, the inferior merely stands aside, bends his body slightly, and rubs the left arm with the right hand, or grasps his beard and keeps his eyes fixed on the ground.

The act of giving anything to the chief, touching him or his dress, or anything above his head, or receiving anything from him, or hearing a gracious message from him, is accompanied by a gentle clapping of the hands. Standing in the presence of a chief is not permitted. Any one who addresses him must kneel; and if they move about, must either do so on their knees, or at least in a crouching attitude.

In some cases the code of etiquette is carried to an extreme which appears to us exceedingly ludicrous. If a superior fall, or in any other way makes himself look awkward, all his inferiors who are present immediately do the same thing, and expect a fee as recognition of their politeness.

Mr. Williams narrates an amusing anecdote of this branch of etiquette, which is called bale-muri (pronounced bahleh-moo-ree), i. e. follow in falling. “One day I came to a long bridge formed of a single cocoa-nut tree, which was thrown across a rapid stream, the opposite bank of which was two or three feet lower, so that the declivity was too steep to be comfortable. The pole was also wet and slippery: and thus my crossing safely was very doubtful.

“Just as I commenced the experiment, a heathen said with much animation, ‘to-day I shall have a musket.’ I had, however, just then to heed my steps more than his words, and so succeeded in reaching the other side safely. When I asked him why he spoke of a musket, the man replied, ‘I felt certain you would fall in attempting to go over, and I should have fallen after you (that is, appeared to be equally clumsy); and as the bridge is high, the water rapid, and you a gentleman, you would not have thought of giving me less than a musket.’” Ludicrous as this custom appears, it is based upon a true sense of courtesy, a desire to spare the feelings of others.

When one person of rank visits another, a number of ceremonies are performed in regular order. Should the visit be paid in a canoe, as is mostly the case, a herald is sent a few days previously to give notice of his coming, so as to avoid taking the intended host by surprise. As soon as the canoe comes in sight, a herald is sent out to inquire the name and rank of the visitor, who is met on the shore by a deputation of petty chiefs, headed by one of the Matas, or aides-de-camp. If the visitor be a personage of very high rank, the Matas will go ten miles to meet him.

As soon as the visitor and his retinue have reached the house of their entertainer, they seat themselves, and the host, after clapping his hands gently in token of salutation, welcomes them in a set form of words, such as “Come with peace the chief from Mbau,” or “Somo-somo,” as the case may be.

A series of similar remarks is made by both parties, the main point being that Fijian oratory is the driest and dullest of performances, always broken up into short sentences, without any apparent connection between them, and further hindered by the attitude of courtesy which the speaker has to adopt. It is impossible for the finest orator in the world to make an effective speech if he has to deliver it in a kneeling position, with his body bent forward, his hands holding his beard, and his eyes directed to the ground. In some parts of Fiji etiquette requires that the orator’s back should be toward the chief whom he is addressing. Nobody takes the trouble to listen to these speeches, or is expected to do so, the chiefs often talking over indifferent matters while the proper number of speeches are rehearsed.

The ceremonies on leave-taking are quite as long, as intricate, and as tedious; and, when the speeches are over, the two great men salute each other after the fashion of their country, by pressing their faces together, and drawing in the breath with a loud noise, as if smelling each other. A chief of inferior rank salutes his superior’s hand, and not his face.

When the visitors start upon their return journey, the host accompanies them for a part of the way, the distance being regulated by their relative rank. If they should have come by sea, the proper etiquette is for the host to go on board, together with some of his chief men, and to accompany[941] his visitors to a certain distance from land, when they all jump into the sea and swim ashore.

As is the case in all countries, whether savage or civilized, the code of etiquette is rigidly enforced at meal-times. Even the greatest chief, if present at a banquet, behaves in as deferential a manner as the commonest man present. Though he may be in his own dominions, and though he may hold absolute sway over every man and woman within sight, he will not venture to taste a morsel of food until it has first been offered to him. Many years ago one chief did so, and, in consequence, the Fijians have hated his very name ever since.

So great would be the breach of manners by such a proceeding, that the life of the offender would be endangered by it. On one occasion it did cost the chief his life. He inadvertently ate a piece of cocoa-nut which had not been offered to him; and this insult so rankled in the mind of one of his officers, who was in attendance, that he ran away from his own chief, and joined another who was at war with him. A battle took place, the offending chief was worsted, and was running for his life, when he met the insulted officer, and asked for his assistance. The man was inclined to give it, but the insult could not be forgotten, and so, with an apology for the duty which he was called on to perform, he knocked out his former master’s brains with his club.

A still more astonishing instance of this feeling is mentioned by Mr. Williams. A young chief and his father-in-law were about to dine together, and a baked guana was provided for each. The guana is a lizard which has a long and slender tail. In passing by his relative’s guana, the young man accidentally broke off the end of its tail, which would necessarily be rendered brittle by cooking. This was held to be so gross an insult, that the offender paid for it with his life.

Etiquette is shown to its fullest extent when a king or principal chief gives a great banquet. As with the New Zealanders, such a feast is contemplated for many months previously; vegetables are planted expressly for it, and no one is allowed to kill pigs or gather fruit, lest there should not be a sufficient quantity of provisions.

Just before the day of festival, the final preparations are made. Messages are sent to all the neighboring tribes, or rather to the chiefs, who communicate them to the people. The turtle fishers bestir themselves to get their nets and canoes in order, and, as soon as they are ready, start off to sea. Yams and other root crops are dug up, the ovens made, and the fuel chopped and brought ready for use.

These ovens are of enormous size, as each is capable of cooking a number of pigs, turtles, and vast quantities of vegetables. With all our skill in cooking, it is to be doubted whether we are not excelled by the Fijians in the art of cooking large quantities of meat at a time. The ovens are simply holes dug in the ground, some ten feet in depth and fifteen feet or so in diameter.

The mode of cooking is very simple. A small fire is made at the bottom of the pit, which is then filled with firewood, and as soon as the wood is thoroughly on fire, large stones are placed on it. When the wood has all burned away, the pigs, turtles, and vegetables are laid on the hot stones, some of which are introduced into the interior of each animal, so that it may be the more thoroughly cooked. The oven is then filled up with boughs and green leaves, and upon the leaves is placed a thick covering of earth. The oven regulates its own time of cooking, for as soon as steam rises through the earthy covering, the contents of the oven are known to be properly cooked.

For the two or three days preceding the feast, all the people are full of activity. They take a pride in the liberality of their chief, and each man brings as many pigs, yams, turtles, and other kinds of food as he can manage to put together. The king himself takes the direction of affairs, his orders being communicated to the people by his Matas, or aides-de-camp. Day and night go on the preparations, the pigs squealing as they are chased before being killed, the men hard at work digging the ovens, some loosening the earth with long pointed sticks, others carrying off the loosened soil in baskets, while the flames that blaze from the completed ovens enable the workmen to continue their labors throughout the night.

On these occasions the Fijians dispense with their ordinary feelings respecting cooking. In Fiji, as in New Zealand, cooking is despised, and the word “cook” is used as a term of reproach and derision. In consequence of this feeling, all cooking is performed by the slaves. But on the eve of a great feast this feeling is laid aside, and every man helps to cook the food. Even the king himself assists in feeding the ovens with fuel, arranging the pigs, stirring the contents of the cooking pots, and performing offices which, on the following day, none but a slave will perform.

By the time that the cooking is completed, the various tribes have assembled, and the ovens are then opened and the food taken out. It is then arranged in separate heaps, a layer of cocoa-nut leaves being placed on the ground by way of dish. On the leaves is placed a layer of cocoa-nuts, then come the yams and potatoes, then puddings, and at the top of all several pigs. The quantity of provisions thus brought together is enormous. Mr. Williams mentions that at one feast, at which he was present, two hundred men were employed for nearly six hours in piling up the food.[942] There were six heaps of food, and among their contents were about fifty tons of cooked yams and potatoes, fifteen tons of pudding, seventy turtles, and about two hundred tons of uncooked yams. There was one pudding which measured twenty-one feet in circumference.

Profusion is the rule upon these occasions, and the more food that a chief produces, the more honor he receives. One chief gained the honorable name of High Pork, because he once provided such vast quantities of food that before it could be finished decomposition had begun in the pork.

All being arranged, the distribution now begins, and is carried out with that precision of etiquette which pervades all society in Fiji. The various tribes and their chiefs being seated, the Tui-rara, or master of the ceremonies, orders the food to be divided into as many portions as there are tribes, regulating the amount by the importance of the tribe. He then takes the tribes in succession, and calls their names. As he calls each tribe, the people return their thanks, and a number of young men are sent to fetch the food. This goes on until the whole of the food has been given away, when a further distribution takes place among the tribes, each village first taking a share and then each family receiving its proper portion, which is handed to its head.

It is evident that the Tui-rara has no sinecure. He must possess the most intimate knowledge of all the tribes, and the ranks of their respective chiefs, and must at the same time be on the alert to distinguish any stranger that may make his appearance. Should he be a foreigner, he is considered a chief, and a chief’s portion, i. e. a quantity sufficient for twenty Fijians or sixty Englishmen, is sent to him. Of course he gives the greater part away, but in so doing he acts the part of a chief. It is, in fact, the old story of Benjamin’s mess translated into Fijian.

The men always eat their food in the open air, but send the women’s portion to the houses to be eaten within doors.

The first illustration on the next page will give an idea of a Fijian feast. On the left hand is seen the master of the ceremonies, calling the name of a tribe, and in the centre are seen the young men running to fetch the food. In the foreground is the portion of their tribe, consisting of pigs, yams, turtles, and so forth. In front of them are some of the curious drums, which will be presently described, and in the distance are seen the members of the different tribes, some eating, and others waiting for their portion. The curious building in the background is one of the Burés, or temples, which will be presently described.

From the preceding description it will be seen that the Fijians are not bad cooks, and that the number of dishes which they produce is by no means small. The variety of the dishes is, however, much greater than has been mentioned. They eat many kinds of fish, together with almost every living creature that they find in the coral reefs. Some of their preparations very much resemble those to which we are accustomed in England. For example, a sort of shrimp sandwich is made by putting a layer of shrimps between two taro leaves. Several kinds of bread are known, and nearly thirty kinds of puddings. Turtle soup is in great favor, and so are various other soups.

The Fijians even make sauces to be eaten with various kinds of food, the sweet juice of the sugar-cane being much used for this purpose. They also have a sort of an imitation of tea, infusing sundry leaves and grasses in boiling water, and drinking it when it becomes sufficiently cool. Most of their food is cooked; but, like ourselves, they prefer some food in an uncooked state. Small fish, for example, are eaten alive, just as we eat oysters.

They mostly drink water, or the milk of the cocoa-nut. To drink water in native fashion is not very easy. They keep it in long bamboo tubes, so that when it is raised to the lips the greatest care is required lest it should suddenly deluge the face and body.

Cocoa-nuts are opened in rather a curious manner. A stout stick is sharpened at both ends, and one end driven firmly into the ground. Taking the nut in both hands, the native dashes it on the stick, which splits open the thick husk, and allows the nut to be extracted. With a stone, or even with another cocoa-nut in case a stone should not be at hand, the native hammers away round the pointed end, and contrives to knock off a small round lid, which is then removed, leaving a natural drinking-cup in his hand.

We now come to the terrible subject of cannibalism, on which no more will be said than is necessary to illustrate the character of the people.

The Fijians are even more devoted to cannibalism than the New Zealanders, and their records are still more appalling. A New Zealander has sometimes the grace to feel ashamed of mentioning the subject in the hearing of an European, whereas it is impossible to make a Fijian really feel that in eating human flesh he has committed an unworthy act. He sees, indeed, that the white men exhibit great disgust at cannibalism, but in his heart he despises them for wasting such luxurious food as human flesh.


(See page 942.)

(See page 952.)


Even the Christianized natives have to be watched carefully lest they should be tempted by old habits, and revert to the custom which they had promised to abjure. For example, Thakombau, the King of Mbau, became a Christian, or at least pretended to do so. He was not a particularly creditable convert. Some time after he had announced himself to be a Christian, he went in his war canoe to one of the districts under his sway. He was received with the horribly barbarous ceremonial by which a very great chief is honored, conch-shell trumpets blowing before him, and the people shouting their songs of welcome. Thus accompanied, he walked through a double row of living victims—men, women, and children of all ages—suspended by their feet, and placed there to give the king his choice. The hopeful convert was pleased to accept the offering, touching with his club as he passed along those victims which seemed most to his taste.

The natives are clever enough at concealing the existence of cannibalism when they find that it shocks the white men. An European cotton-grower, who had tried unsuccessfully to introduce the culture of cotton into Fiji, found, after a tolerably long residence, that four or five human beings were killed and eaten weekly. There was plenty of food in the place, pigs were numerous, and fish, fruit, and vegetables abundant. But the people ate human bodies as often as they could get them, not from any superstitious motive, but simply because they preferred human flesh to pork.

Many of the people actually take a pride in the number of human bodies which they have eaten. One chief was looked upon with great respect on account of his feats of cannibalism, and the people gave him a title of honor. They called him the Turtle-pond, comparing his insatiable stomach to the pond in which turtles are kept; and so proud were they of his deeds, that they even gave a name of honor to the bodies brought for his consumption, calling them the “Contents of the Turtle-pond.” This man was accustomed to eat a human body himself, suffering no one to share it with him. After his family were grown up, he bethought himself of registering his unholy meals by placing a stone on the ground as soon as he had finished the body. His son showed these stones to an English clergyman, who counted them, and found that there were very nearly nine hundred.

One man gained a great name among his people by an act of peculiar atrocity. He told his wife to build an oven, to fetch firewood for heating it, and to prepare a bamboo knife. As soon as she had concluded her labors her husband killed her, and baked her in the oven which her own hands had prepared, and afterward ate her. Sometimes a man has been known to take a victim, bind him hand and foot, cut slices from his arms and legs, and eat them before his eyes. Indeed, the Fijians are so inordinately vain, that they will do anything, no matter how horrible, in order to gain a name among their people; and Dr. Pritchard, who knows them thoroughly, expresses his wonder that some chief did not eat slices from his own limbs.

Cannibalism is ingrained in the very nature of a Fijian, and extends through all classes of society. It is true that there are some persons who have never eaten flesh, but there is always a reason for it. Women, for example, are seldom permitted to eat “bakolo,” as human flesh is termed, and there are a few men who have refrained from cannibalism through superstition. Every Fijian has his special god, who is supposed to have his residence in some animal. One god, for example, lives in a rat, as we have already seen; another in a shark; and so on. The worshipper of that god never eats the animal in which his divinity resides; and as some gods are supposed to reside in human bodies, their worshippers never eat the flesh of man.

According to the accounts of some of the older chiefs, whom we may believe or not, as we like, there was once a time when cannibalism did not exist. Many years ago, some strangers from a distant land were blown upon the shores of Fiji, and received hospitably by the islanders, who incorporated them into their own tribes, and made much of them. But, in process of time, these people became too powerful, killed the Fijian chiefs, took their wives and property, and usurped their office.

In this emergency the people consulted the priests, who said that the Fijians had brought their misfortunes upon themselves. They had allowed strangers to live, whereas “Fiji for the Fijians” was the golden rule, and from that time every male stranger was to be killed and eaten, and every woman taken as a wife.

Only one people was free from this law. The Tongans, instead of being killed and eaten, were always welcomed, and their visits encouraged, as they passed backward and forward in their canoes, and brought with them fine mats and other articles for barter. So much have these people intermingled, that in the eastern islands, which are nearest to those of Tonga, there is a decided mixture of Tongan blood. With this exception, however, the Fijians went on the same principle as the Ephesians of Shakespeare—

“If any Syracusan born
Come to the bay of Ephesus, he dies;”

save that, instead of merely putting to death those who came from one country, they only excepted one country from the universal law.

The reader may remember that a sort of respect is paid to a human body used for food. Educated people speak of it in the court language, and, instead of using any vulgar term, such as a human body, they[946] employ the metaphorical language, and call it the “long pig.” As a general rule, the vessels in which human flesh is cooked are reserved expressly for that purpose, and both the vessel in which it is cooked and the dish from which it is eaten are held as tapu.

So highly is “bakolo” honored, that it is eaten, not with fingers, but with a fork, and the implement in question is handed down from father to son, like the merais and tikis of the New Zealander. These forks are quite unlike those which are used in England. They mostly have four prongs, but these prongs, instead of being set in a line, are generally arranged in a circle or triangle as the case may be. They are carved out of some very hard wood, and, when they have become venerable by reason of age or of the rank of their proprietor, they receive names of honor. For example, the cannibal chief who ate nearly nine hundred human bodies had a fork which was named “Undro-undro,” the title signifying a small person carrying a great burden. The fork was a small object, but it had carried to the lips of its master the bodies of nearly nine hundred human beings.

As the Fijians set such a value on human flesh, it is to be expected that they will invent a variety of excuses for obtaining it. For example when a chief builds a house, he kills at least one human victim to celebrate the event. If he builds a large war canoe, a series of sacrifices takes place. A man is killed, for example, when the keel is laid, and, if the chief be a very powerful one, he will kill a victim as each plank is fixed in its place. Even when it is finished the slaughter is not over, as, in the first place, the planks of the new vessel have to be washed with human blood, and, in the next, the launch must be commemorated in the same way as the building. One chief gained some notoriety by binding a number of men, and laying them side by side along the shore to act as rollers over which the canoe was taken from the land into the sea. The weight of the canoe killed the men, who were afterward baked and eaten.

Even after the canoe is launched, excuses are found for carrying on the system of human butchery. Whenever it touches at a place for the first time, a man must be sacrificed in honor of taking down the mast, this being done to show that the vessel means to make some stay at the place. If a chief should arrive in a new canoe, and keep up his mast, the people understand the signal, and bring on board a newly-slain victim, so that the mast may be taken down.

On one occasion, when a war canoe had been built at Somo-somo, the missionaries exerted themselves so successfully that the canoe was launched without the sacrifice of a single life. Eventually, however, their well-intentioned interference rather increased than diminished the number of victims. When the canoe arrived at Mbau, the chiefs were so vexed that it had reached them unhonored by human blood that they straightway attacked a village, killed some fourteen or fifteen men, and ate them in order to do honor to the ceremony of taking down the mast.

Sometimes, in order to secure a victim whenever one is wanted, the chiefs pick out secretly a certain number of men, and put them, so to speak, on the black list. Whenever a sacrifice is needed, all the executioners have to do is to find out how many victims are wanted, and then to go and kill the requisite number of the black-list men.

Whole towns are sometimes put on the black list, a curious example of which custom is given by Mr. Williams. “Vakambua, chief of Mbau, thus doomed Tavua, and gave a whale’s tooth to a Nggara chief, that he might at a fitting time punish that place. Years passed away, and a reconciliation took place between Mbau and Tavua, but, unhappily, the Mbau chief failed to neutralize the engagement made with the Nggara. A day came when human bodies were wanted, and the thoughts of those who held the tooth were turned toward Tavua. They invited the people of that place to a friendly exchange of food, and slew twenty-three of their unsuspecting victims.

“When the treacherous Nggarans had gratified their own appetites by pieces of the flesh cut off and roasted on the spot, the bodies were taken to Vakambua, who was greatly astonished, expressed much regret that such a slaughter should have grown out of his carelessness, and then shared the bodies to be eaten.”

The Fijian can seldom resist meat, and that he should resist “bakolo” could not be expected of him. In Mrs. Smythe’s “Ten Months in the Fiji Islands,” an amusing instance of this predilection is recorded. “A white man had shot and carried off a pig belonging to a Fijian, who, being a convert, went to a native teacher named Obadiah, and asked him to go to the delinquent and remonstrate with him. The teacher put on his black coat, went to the man’s house, and with much earnestness pointed out to him the iniquity of the deed, asking him how he would have liked it had a Fijian killed one of his own pigs. The man listened very respectfully, and allowed the error of his ways, acknowledging that the teacher had put the matter in a new light. ‘But,’ said he ‘the pig is now dead, and we cannot bring it to life again. Shall we throw it out and let it go to waste, or, as it is just baked, and you have not breakfasted, shall we not sit down, and you will ask a blessing?’

“Obadiah, taken by surprise by Q——’s[947] penitence, and the compliment paid to his own clerical functions, and swayed perhaps a little by the irresistible love of all Fijians for roast pork, bowed his head, and reverentially said a long prayer, after which the two set heartily to work on the pig.” When the teacher went to the missionary to report his successful labors, he was quite astonished at being charged with complicity with the thief.




In accordance with the plan on which this work has been arranged, Fijian warfare will be described as it was before fire-arms were introduced, and had changed the ancient style of warfare.

The original weapons of the Fijian are the club, the axe (which, by the way, is little more than a modification of the club), the bow, the sling, and the spear. In most of these weapons is exhibited the fancifully artistic nature of the manufacturers. The sling is perhaps the only weapon from which ornament is almost wholly absent. Like the corresponding weapon of the New Caledonians, it carries stones of tolerable weight and great hardness, and, when wielded by a skilful hand, becomes no inefficient weapon even against fire-arms themselves. A stone hurled from a Fijian sling has been known to render a musket useless, the stone having struck the barrel, and bent and indented it as much as would have been done by a bullet.

The chief weapon of the Fijian is the club, and upon this he lavishes all the artistic power at his command, covering nearly the whole of it with the most intricate and delicately executed carvings. Some clubs are straight, like thick cudgels, others are curved. Those which are knobbed at the end have an infinite variety in the knob, as we shall presently see. Some are more or less flattened, while there are some which are so flat and so broad that it is not easy at first sight to determine whether they are clubs or paddles. Some are so large that they require the whole exertion of a muscular man to wield them, while others are so short that they are kept stuck in the girdle, and used as missiles, precisely as the short knob-kerries are used by the South Africans. A Fijian will often carry two or more of these clubs in his girdle.

Some of the most characteristic forms of Fijian clubs are given on the following page, all being drawn from specimens in my collection. Fig. 1 represents a club, and is evidently modified from a gnarled and knotted branch, and by comparing a number of specimens together it is easy to trace the progress of manufacture. This form of club is also to be found among the Papuans of New Guinea, the natives of the Outanata district carrying it. With the exception of the deep transverse cuts, there is no attempt at ornament. It is tolerably heavy, though not very large, and requires two hands to be wielded properly.

Figure 2 represents one of the paddle-like clubs which have just been mentioned. The blade is not an inch in thickness in the middle, and it gradually slopes off to either side, so as to form a tolerably sharp edge. With the exception of the handle, it is entirely covered with carving; the dentated pattern, which seems common to nearly all savage art, being very conspicuous. It is extremely weighty, and, to an European, appears a very awkward instrument, except perhaps that the broad blade might be utilized as a shield.


(See page 930.)

(See page 970.)

(3.) SPEAR.
(See page 952.)

(See page 948.)


Fig. 3 is a club, which may be considered as a sort of intermediate form between the two already mentioned. Like the last, it has a broad blade, but is evidently a club and not a paddle. The blade is strengthened by a bold ridge running along the centre. In order to show the mode in which it is flattened, a side view of the lower part is shown at fig. a, and a cross section of the blade is given at fig. b. This kind of club is modified in various ways, but is always made on the same principle, i. e. a round handle and a flattened paddle-like end, sometimes nearly plain, as in the above mentioned specimens, and sometimes furnished with knobs, teeth, and spikes projecting from the sides. In some cases it assumes the shape of a crescent, and looks, indeed, much like a cheese knife very much magnified.

Another very characteristic shape is given in fig. 4. As may be imagined from the illustration, it is very weighty, so that even to carry it about must be rather troublesome. It is covered with carvings in the most lavish manner, and such value has been set by the manufacturer upon the weapon, that he has even taken the trouble to invent different patterns for the opposite sides.

The peculiar form of this club is evidently due to the structure of the branch from which it was cut, the projecting portion being the base of another branch. Although in many specimens—my own among the number—the club has been carved from a great log of solid wood, the form has evidently been borrowed from the junction of two branches. The edge of the club is cut into slight teeth, and just within the edge are a number of round holes, set in a line. A tolerably bold ridge runs along the head of the club and follows its curve, and through this ridge are also bored a number of holes, apparently for the purpose of attaching bunches of feathers, or other ornaments, to the weapon.

The most characteristic club of Fiji is, however, that of which an example is given in fig. 5. It is made from the stem and part of the root of a young tree. In this part of the world there are certain trees which grow in a manner which to us seems very peculiar. As is the case with many trees, it sends a tap-root deeply into the earth, and is further supported by a number of smaller roots which diverge from it on all sides, and retain it in its upright position, just as a mast is upheld by the standing rigging.

While the tree is very young, it is drawn down nearly horizontally, and fixed in that position, so as to be bent nearly at right angles close to the earth. When it has grown to the thickness of a man’s wrist, the top is cut off and the roots dug out of the ground. The tap-root is then scraped down to a point, and all the smaller roots are cut off to within an inch and a half of the tap-root, so as to form a radiating mass of spikes, which are sharpened, and thus present the appearance shown in the illustration.

Such a club as this is an exceedingly valuable weapon, and the greatest care is taken in its manufacture. The spike at the end is scraped and rounded until it assumes a perfectly regular shape, and is then polished until it shines like a well-rubbed piece of mahogany. The radiating spikelets are each trimmed with the greatest nicety, so that, in whatever direction the weapon is viewed, they all radiate with exact regularity.

The handle is polished as carefully as the lower spike, and in most cases is adorned with elaborately carved patterns. In many clubs it is completely covered with black and white sinnet made expressly for this purpose, and plaited in patterns as elaborate as those which are carved. Some of the best clubs are further ornamented by having scarlet feathers worked in with sinnet. There are, indeed, scarcely any bounds to the decoration of clubs, many of which are inlaid with shell, or hogs’ tusks, or whales’ teeth, or even the teeth of men. These latter ornaments are chiefly reserved for the knobs of the small missile club.

Beside these, there is an infinite variety of forms, some of the clubs exactly resembling the steel maces of the days of chivalry, others being first squared and then cut into pyramidal form, while others look just like enormous mushrooms. Some of them have the handles completely covered with wickerwork; but, as a rule, these highly ornamental weapons are not for use but for show, like the court sword of the present day.

Some of the names given to these clubs are highly suggestive. For example, one was called “Weeping urges me to action,” others “Disperser,” “Smasher,” and so forth. Those which belong to well-known chiefs or distinguished warriors are used much as cards among ourselves. If, for example, a great chief desires to pay a visit, he will send his club as an intimation that the owner will follow. Or, if one chief asks another for aid in war, the ordinary mode of showing that the application is favorably received is for the latter to send his club by the ambassador who brought the message.

There is as great variety of spears as of clubs. Spears are almost invariably of great length, some measuring fourteen or fifteen feet in length. They are made from hard wood and are almost invariably armed with a series of barbs. In the manufacture and arrangement of the barbs, the Fijians show wonderful ingenuity. Mostly, they are not from the same piece of wood as the spear itself, but in many weapons they are made of other materials. The sharp tail-bone of the sting-ray is a favorite material, both for the points and barbs of spears, probably because it is very hard, and so brittle that it is nearly sure to break off in the wound.[952] Other barbs are made of a wood which has the property of swelling up when moistened, and bursting in the wound, so that it can hardly be extracted. Such spears as this are called by a very ominous title, “The priest is too late.” Some of the spears are not only carved in various patterns, but have the heads cut into a kind of bold open work pattern, which has a very elegant appearance, though it must detract greatly from the strength of the weapon. One of the ordinary Fijian spears is shown on page 949, and is taken from specimens in my collection, in which there are several others, but all of a similar character.

Many of the weapons have more than one point. In the specimens which I have, the points are rather more than a yard in length, and are made of separate pieces of wood, ingeniously dovetailed into the shaft of the spear, and held in their place by lashings of sinnet. In my specimen, the manufacturer has been so lavish of his labor, that he has not only woven the sinnet into elegant patterns, but has continued them along the whole of the shaft, covering it with a sort of mixture of the zigzag and the dentated patterns. There are also spears with several points, each point being barbed or deeply serrated on the inside cap. These are not for war, but for fishing purposes. As for the war in which these weapons are used, it is hardly deserving of the name.

When two chiefs have decided on going to war, messengers pass between them, and both sides beat up recruits for their armies and offer gifts to the gods. Whales’ teeth and food form the chief part of these offerings, and the latter is often given in vast quantities. Independent chiefs often take advantage of war to increase their property. Such a chief, for example, though urged by both sides to join them, trims and hesitates, and bides his time. One party will then send him a bribe, and as soon as the other party hear of it, they send a larger bribe, in order to “press down” the former gift. The result usually is, that the recipient keeps both bribes, and eventually declines to fight on either side.

The forces are gathered by a series of reviews, held as the army marches. These reviews form the great charm of war, as any amount of boasting may be done without the slightest risk. Each warrior rushes up to the commanding chief, brandishes his weapons, and boasts of the great deeds which he is going to do; all the warriors being in their very best, with bodies covered with black powder, so as to contrast with the snow-white masi, and their faces painted as none but a Fijian can paint them, in order to look as martial as possible.

The chief often ridicules the pretensions of these men, insinuating that they will be more ready to run away than to fight; but this is only for the purpose of inciting them to display their courage, and, by way of inducing them to fight well, large gifts are promised to those who distinguish themselves in battle.

Sometimes a warrior, carried away by the excitement of the moment, boasts that he will kill the enemy’s chief, eat his flesh, and make a drinking-cup of his skull. This is generally a very foolish proceeding. The menaced chief is sure to hear of it, and to promise a large reward if the boaster be taken alive.

Should he be captured, his fate is certain. His hands are bound behind him, and a large bundle of dried cocoa-nut leaves is fastened tightly across his shoulders, projecting for several feet on either side. The ends of the leaves are then lighted, and the poor wretch is left to die, the spectators laughing and jeering at him as he runs about, maddened by the torment. This punishment is called by a name which signifies carrying fuel. The artist has represented in the lower engraving, on the 943d page, this frightful fate of the boaster.

The party that are attacked usually retire into a native fort, the structure of which often shows great engineering skill. The Fijians are very apt at selecting a spot which is difficult of access, and fortifying it in such a manner that two or three men could hold it against a thousand. Mr. Williams visited one of these forts, and found that the approach to it was not without danger, even in time of peace. The only path to the fort led through thick and tangled vegetation, and terminated on the edge of a precipice. The entrance to the fort was on the face of the precipice, several yards from the end of the path, and there was no mode of getting to it except by crawling along the perpendicular rock by means of little holes in which the toes and fingers could be inserted.

When the natives cannot find a place of such natural strength, they have a way of defending the entrance by a series of gates with traverses between them, so that any enemies who forced the first gate were obliged to go for some distance through a narrow passage which was pierced with loopholes, through which spears could be thrust and arrows shot. Even if they succeeded in passing the second gate, a similar gauntlet had to be run before they could reach the third. Thorny trees are in great request for the outer defences of these forts, the bare-skinned natives greatly dreading the prickly walls, which every year grow more dense and less penetrable.

Knowing the strength of the forts, the natives do not care about assaulting them, and, as they advance to the walls, avail themselves of every cover. They then yell and shout derisive taunts at the enemy, challenging them to come out and fight. Sometimes the challenge is answered, a[953] number of warriors issuing from the fort and each selecting an adversary; often, however, as soon as the besiegers see their challenge answered, they run away as fast as they can, the Fijian liking to come behind his enemy and knock him on the head stealthily better than to oppose him in open fight.

Should a fort be taken, the slaughter is dreadful, and is nothing but a massacre, the greater number being killed, and the rest reserved to be put to death by torture. One favorite mode of torture is to stun the unhappy captive with a club, and to throw him into a heated oven by way of bringing him back to his senses. The struggles of the unfortunate man as the fierce heat restores him to consciousness are greeted with laughter and jeers by the delighted spectators. Others are bound hand and foot and given to the sons of chiefs as subjects on which they can try their skill at torturing.

As these expeditions are nearly always made in canoes, the return of the war party is seen from a great distance, and all the population assemble on the beach to welcome the victorious warriors, the women dancing and singing songs of triumph in honor of the conquerors. A horrible scene then takes place, too horrible indeed to be described; the bodies of the dead are offered in the temples, the ovens are prepared, and for some days unbridled license reigns supreme.

In connexion with warfare must be mentioned a curious custom of giving a new name to men who have killed any of the enemy during the campaign. Whether the enemy be an armed warrior slain in fair fight, an unarmed man knocked down by stealth, a woman, or even a little child, signifies nothing. The warrior has clubbed an enemy, and has a right to his new name of honor. Should he have killed a chief, he takes the name of his victim, and sometimes his own chief honors him by calling the man his flag, his canoe, his comb, &c. Of the consecration ceremony, wherein the new name is given, Mr. Williams once saw a very excellent example at Somo-somo, the subject of consecration being a young chief.

“The king and leading men having taken their seats in the public square, fourteen mats were brought and spread out, and upon these were placed a bale of cloth and two whale’s teeth. Near by was laid a sail mat, and on it several men’s dresses. The young chief now made his appearance, bearing in one hand a large pine-apple club, and in, the other a common reed, while his long train of masi dragged on the ground behind him.

“On his reaching the mats, an old man took the reed out of the hero’s hand, and despatched a youth to deposit it carefully in the temple of the war god. The king then ordered the young chief to stand upon the bale of cloth; and while he obeyed, a number of women came into the square, bringing small dishes of turmeric mixed with oil, which they placed before the youth, and retired with a song. The masi was now removed by the chief himself, an attendant substituting one much larger in its stead. The king’s Mata (aide-de-camp) next selected several dishes of the colored oil, and anointed the warrior from the roots of the hair to his heels.

“At this stage of the proceedings one of the spectators stepped forward and exchanged clubs with the anointed, and soon another did the same. Then one left him a gun in place of the club, and many similar changes were effected, under a belief that the weapons thus passing through his hands derived some virtue.

“The mats were now removed, and a portion of them sent to the temple, some of the turmeric being sent after them. The king and old men, followed by the young man and two men sounding conchs, now proceeded to the seaside, where the anointed one passed through the ancients to the water’s edge, returned, while the king and those with him counted one, two, three, four, five, and each then threw a stone into the sea. The whole company now went back to the town with blasts of the trumpet shells, and a peculiar hooting of the men.

“Custom requires that a hut should be built, in which the anointed man and his companions may pass the next three nights, during which time the newly named hero must not lie down, but sleep as he sits; he must not change his masi, or remove the turmeric, or enter a house in which there is a woman, until that period has elapsed. In the case now described, the hut had not been built, and the young chief was permitted to use the temple of the god of war instead.

“During the three days he was on an incessant march, followed by half a score lads reddened like himself. After three weeks he paid me a visit, on the first day of his being permitted to enter a house in which there was a female. He informed me his new name was Kuila, or Flag.”

When a name of honor has thus been given to a man, the complimentary title of Koroi, or consecrated, is prefixed to it.

The battles of the Fijians are not, as a rule, remarkable for the slaughter that takes place. They are, in fact, little but a series of single combats. When a man falls, his friends try to get him off the ground to save his life, if possible, or to be able to bury the body if he should die; while the enemy use their best endeavors to secure the wounded man in order to bake and eat him. No dishonor is attached to the fact of a slain man being eaten. On the contrary, it is a proof of his courage, for none but those who die[954] bravely in battle are eaten in the feast which follows upon the victory, the bodies of slain cowards being contemptuously thrown into the bush.

We now come to a more pleasing part of Fijian character, namely, the various incidents of domestic life.

As soon as the Fijian child comes into the world, it is taken from the mother, and given to another woman for three days, during which time she lies at her ease. The first clothing which the child receives is a thick coating of turmeric oil, and the first food which it knows is either the juice of sugar-cane or of cocoa-nut. A name is given to the child as soon as possible after its birth, and these names are generally significant of some event that has happened either to the child itself or to some member of its family.

Though the Fijian children spend the great part of their time in the open air, and are untrammelled by clothing, they are liable to a very unpleasant disease called the “thoko,” which somewhat resembles the “yaws” of the negro tribes. The parents are rather glad than sorry to see their children afflicted with this disease, as they believe that it forms a necessary adjunct to infantile health, and that a child who escapes the thoko is sure to be sickly and feeble when it grows up.

The Fijian child receives no training, unless encouragement of every bad passion may be called by that name. Revenge is impressed upon the child’s mind from its earliest infancy, and most horrible are the means which are sometimes employed for this purpose. In riper years the duty of revenge is kept always before his eyes. Should one man insult another, the offended individual keeps himself constantly reminded of the offence by placing some object in his sight, and not removing it until he has avenged himself.

Sometimes he will effect the same purpose by depriving himself of some luxury until he has had his revenge. One man, for example, will plait his hair in a particular manner, another will hang some article of dress in his house, while another will refuse to dance, or to eat of some particular kind of food. One chief, for example, hung a roll of tobacco on the roof of his house, with the intention of refusing to smoke until he had killed his enemy and could smoke that tobacco over the dead body. Another refrained from speaking, and would only answer by whistling.

The knowledge of this custom makes the Fijians a most nervous race. Should a strange canoe appear off the coast, the inhabitants of the villages are all in a stir, some escaping to the woods, and others concealing their food and other valuables in secret storehouses. They do not like to walk alone in the evening. Mr. Williams mentions that he has seen a whole company disperse at the lifting of a telescope, and, more than once, when he was visited by natives and the door suddenly slammed with the wind, the whole of his visitors rushed tumultuously out of the windows. On one occasion, a number of men were dragging a large canoe into the sea, when one of them espied a slight crack on one side. He whispered his discovery to the man next him, he to the next, and so on, and in a few minutes every man had run away from the boat, fearing lest the owner should charge him with having done the damage.

The amusements of the Fijians are rather more varied than is usually the case among savages. Some of them are identical with many of our own children’s games, such as “hide and seek,” “blind man’s buff,” and a sort of “hop, skip, and jump.” A sort of “pitch and toss,” is also in vogue, the substitute for pence being the flat, circular fruit of a species of mimosa.

They have one game which bears some resemblance to that of the “kangaroo-rat” of Australia, which has been described on page 730. The players have a reed about four feet in length, at one end of which is an oval piece of hard and heavy wood some six inches in length. This instrument is held between the thumb and middle finger, the end of the forefinger being applied to its extremity. With a peculiar underhand jerk the player drives it horizontally, so that it glides over the ground for a considerable distance, the player who sends the missile farthest being the winner. In order that this favorite game maybe constantly played, each village has attached to it a long strip of smooth sward, which is kept sedulously trimmed, so that the missile may skim along with as little resistance as possible.

Then there is the swing. This is made much like the New Zealand swing, but is used in a different manner. Instead of being held by the hands alone, the rope has a loop at the end, into which the swinger inserts his foot. Sometimes, it has a large knot, on which both feet can be supported. Drawing the rope to the top of a convenient bank, the swinger grasps it with his hands, leaps in the air, places his foot in the loop, and goes sweeping through an enormous arc, the radius of which often exceeds fifty feet. In some cases the swing is fixed by the water side, and the more daring of the performers loosen their grasp at the proper moment, and are hurled through the air into the water.

One favorite game, called Ririki, is played after the following fashion:—Close to the water’s edge is fixed a stout post, and on this is laid the trunk of a tall cocoa-nut tree, so that its base rests on the ground, and the tip projects over the water. The game consists in running at full speed up this inclined[955] tree, and jumping into the water one after the other, swimming ashore and repeating the process. This is a very lively game, the natives shouting and laughing the whole time, and plunging so rapidly in succession that the water beneath the end of the inclined tree is white with foam. The people are admirable swimmers, and, having been accustomed to swim as soon as they could walk, disport themselves in the water with as much ease as on land. They are fond of swimming out to sea in parties, and join in various aquatic games, such as trying to push each other under water, diving, racing, and so forth.

Some of their sports are rather rough. They have one game which bears a certain resemblance to snow-balling, except that the missiles are bitter oranges instead of snow-balls. In some places they jerk stones at each other by means of elastic bamboos, and do so with such force that considerable pain is caused when the missile strikes the bare skin.

Sometimes a sort of mock battle takes place. When food is brought to the men, the women suddenly rush upon them, try to drive them away, and to seize the food. Rough as the women may be, the men seldom retaliate, except by taking their assailants round the waists and throwing them on the ground. Mr. Williams mentions one instance when a woman actually shot a man dead with an arrow, turning the mock fight into a sad reality. Several cases are known where the men have been so severely handled that they have afterward died of their wounds.

On certain occasions an amusing game is played by the young men. A thin earthenware vessel is filled with water and suspended from a bough, and a number of young men with their eyes blindfolded, try to break the vessel by striking at it with long sticks.

Music and dancing are greatly studied among the Fijians, and any one who knows a new dance is sure to earn plenty of goods by teaching it. Their musical instruments are very poor, consisting of drums, pipes, and trumpets. The first-mentioned instruments are nothing more than wooden cylinders, through one side of which a groove is cut about an inch or so in width. The pipes are of two kinds; namely, a sort of pandean pipe made of several strips of bamboo fastened together, and the flute. This latter instrument is played by placing the aperture close to one nostril, and breathing through it while the other is stopped with the thumb of the left hand. The trumpets are merely conch-shells blown through a hole in the side.

The dances are very carefully got up, and more resemble military movements than dances, the similitude being increased by the martial array of the dancers, who are all dressed as if for war, their faces painted with scarlet, their bodies powdered with black, and their best clubs or spears in their hands. They execute intricate manœuvres, marching in various figures, wheeling, halting, and stamping their feet in exact time to the rhythm of the song and the beat of the drum. Sometimes several hundred men are engaged in the dance, while the musicians are twenty or thirty in number.

The scene at one of these dances is very picturesque, but it wants the furious energy which gives such fiery animation to the war dance of the New Zealanders, the movements, though correct in point of time, being comparatively dull and heavy. In order to enliven it a little more, a professional buffoon is usually introduced upon the scene, who performs sundry grotesque movements, and is usually applauded for his exertions.

Music and dancing are always used at the celebration of a marriage, and, as may be imagined from the punctilious nature of the Fijian, there is no lack of ceremony on the occasion.

Mostly, girls are betrothed when they are quite infants, no regard being paid to disparity of age between themselves and their intended husbands. The form of betrothal is rather curious, and consists in the mother of the child taking a small liku, or woman’s girdle, and presenting it to the man, who from that moment takes her daughter under his protection until she is old enough to be married.

In those cases where a young man takes a liking to a young woman, he asks her of her father, making at the same time a small present as a matter of form. Should the application be successful, an interchange of presents then takes place between the friends of both parties, and in a few days follows the ceremony called “warming,” which consists in conveying to the house of the bride some food prepared by the intended husband. In most parts of Fiji, the bride has a complete holiday for four days, sitting quietly at home, dressed in her finest apparel, and painted with turmeric and oil. At the expiration of the four days, she is taken by a number of married women to the sea, where they all join in fishing, and afterward cook the fish that they have taken. The cooking being completed, the bridegroom is sent for, and the betrothed couple eat together, each giving the other a portion of food.

After this ceremony comes a period during which the bridegroom is employed in building a house for his intended wife, and the girl undergoes the painful tattooing which marks her as having taken her place among women. During this time, she remains within the house so as to shield her complexion from the sun. The house being completed, all the friends of both families[956] are gathered together, and a great feast takes place, at which the givers make it a point of honor to be as lavish as possible. At the end of this feast, the girl is formally handed over to her husband, and exchanges her narrow liku for the broader garment befitting her new condition.

When the daughter of an important chief is married, her father always gives her a number of female attendants, sometimes as many as twelve or fifteen accompanying the bride to her home. They are placed under the charge of an elderly woman who acts as their superintendent, and are called by a name which signifies a pet servant. There is always a great scene at the departure of a bride to her home, all her relations and friends crowding round her, and kissing her until she is nearly smothered by their caresses.

An interesting description of the presentation of a bride is given by Mr. Williams, and the artist has reproduced the scene in the engraving No. 1, on the next page. “She was brought in at the principal entrance by the king’s aunt and a few matrons, and then, led only by the old lady, approached the king. She was an interesting girl of fifteen, glistening with oil, wearing a new liku, and a necklace of curved ivory points, radiating from her neck, and turning upward. The king then received from his aunt the girl, with two whale’s teeth, which she carried in her hand. When she was seated at his feet, his majesty repeated a list of their gods, and finished by praying that the girl might live, and bring forth male children.

“To her friends, two men who had come in at the back door, he gave a musket, begging them not to think hardly of his having taken their child, as the step was connected with the good of the land, in which their interests, as well as his own, were involved. The musket, which was about equivalent to the necklace, the men received with bent heads, muttering a short prayer, the close of which was exactly the same as they had offered for years, ‘Death to Natawa.’ Tuikilakila then took off the girl’s necklace and kissed her. The gayest moment of her life, as far as dress was concerned, was past; and I felt that the untying of that polished ornament from her neck was the first downward step to a dreary future. Perhaps her forebodings were like mine, for she wept, and the tears which glanced off her bosom and rested in distinct drops on her oily legs were seen by the king, who said, ‘Do not weep. Are you going to leave your own land? You are but going a voyage, soon to return. Do not think it a hardship to go to Mbau. Here you have to work hard; there you will rest. Here you fare indifferently; there you will eat the best of food. Only do not weep to spoil yourself.’ As he thus spoke, he played with her curly locks, complimenting her on her face and figure. She reminded him of a sister of hers, who had been taken to Mbau in years past.”

She had certainly reason for her tears, as the condition of Fijian wives is not a very enviable one. As is the case with most countries in which polygamy is practised, the wives are apt to be very jealous of each other, and to quarrel among themselves. Generally, their squabbles are treated with contemptuous indifference by the husband as long as they do not annoy him personally; but if he should feel himself angered, he speedily checks the tumult by belaboring all parties alike with a very sufficient stick which he keeps for the purpose. One chief had a cudgel as thick as a broomstick, in which he seemed to take no little pride, having carved and inlaid it with ivory.

Women are not held in any great estimation, whether they be single or married. A rather ludicrous example of the value set by Fijians upon women occurred in the course of traffic between Europeans and natives. A chief had bargained with the captain of a ship for a musket, the price of which was to be two pigs. The chief went off with his musket, but could only find one pig. So he honorably kept his bargain by sending the one pig and a young woman instead of the other.

In the description of the ceremonies attendant upon a wedding, mention was made of the custom of building a house for the bride. The form of Fijian houses varies according to locality. In some places they are sharp-ridged and gabled, like those which have already been described when treating of New Guinea. In others they are round, and in others conical. Some are built on posts, and others simply on the ground. As is the case throughout all Polynesia, the houses are made of a wooden framework lashed together, and covered with a thatch of reeds. Many of these houses are of great size, more than a hundred feet in length and about forty in width. A house that is meant to endure for any length of time is made of a wood called by the natives vesi, which is exactly similar to the greenheart of India, and a sort of sandal wood is also used for the same purpose.

The walls are generally made of reeds arranged in three layers, the middle layer being horizontal and the outer and inner layers perpendicular. They are tied or sewed together with sinnet, and it is the Fijian architect’s pride to weave the sinnet into elegant patterns. Some men are celebrated for their skill in inserting and executing these patterns, and go about from place to place as they are wanted. Even the posts that support the edifice are often covered with reeds, bound together in the same ingenious manner. The door is always a small one, probably for the same reason that induces a Kaffir to make so low an entrance to his hut; namely, fear of enemies.


(See page 956.)

(See page 959.)


The thatch is sometimes of cocoa-nut or sugar-cane leaves, and sometimes of grass, while in a few of the best houses both are used. The leaves are doubled over reeds and sewed together, so as to form lengths of about five or six feet. Grass thatch is fixed almost exactly as straw is used in England being laid on the roof in bundles, and held down by long mangrove branches, and tied firmly with rattan.

House thatching is one of the most animated scenes that can be imagined. As soon as the roof is finished, notice is given that the thatchers are wanted, and then straightway assemble a gang of merry laborers, varying in number according to the size of the house, as many as three hundred sometimes uniting to thatch a very large house. Some bring the leaves and grass, others bind and sew them into the proper form, and others take them to the thatchers. Those who actually apply the reeds always arrange themselves in pairs on the roof, one outside and the other inside the building, so that one can take the end of the lashing as it is pushed through the thatch by his comrade, draw it tight, and return it to him. The reader may find house thatching represented in a spirited engraving, on the 957th page.

The noise that arises from a large house during the process of thatching is almost deafening. Naturally, the Fijian has a great genius for shouting, and on such occasions he fairly outdoes himself. Some call for more grass, leaves, mangrove rods and rattans; others from below shout in reply to them. Those who bring the materials must needs shout as they clamber to the roof, and every one throws in a few yells occasionally by way of encouragement to his companions.

The most characteristic part of a Fijian house is the ridge pole which runs along the top of the roof. It projects at either end for a considerable distance, and in first-class buildings is worked into a trumpet-like shape at the extremities. These projecting ends are mostly blackened, and decorated with large white cowrie shells. A sort of cable made of grass and bound with vine-stalks is generally laid on the ridge pole, and in many cases is finished off with a row of tassels, and nearly covered with patterns worked in sinnet.

Some, though not all, the houses have openings by way of windows, which can be closed by means of mats fastened over them like curtains. Within the house, and nearly in the centre, is the fireplace, which is sunk in the ground to a foot or so in depth, and surrounded by a sort of fender made of hard wood. In very large houses, the fireplace is ten or twelve feet square, and is covered by a wooden framework of several tiers, on which cooking pots and similar utensils can be kept. There is no chimney, nor even a hole in the roof, so that all the smoke from the fireplace ascends to the roof, and finds its way out through the thatch as it best can. In nearly every case the doorway is furnished with a projecting roof.

In connection with roof thatching, a characteristic joke is recorded of the Mbau people. The short missile club is called ula, and the act of hurling it is called ulaula. The latter word, however, also signifies house thatching. By way of a practical joke, the people of Mbau sent to those of Tailevu, asking them to come and ulaula. The latter, taking the word in its ordinary sense, accepted the invitation, and came, expecting the usual scene of merriment, when to their surprise, they were saluted by a volley of ulas hurled at them by their entertainers.

The furniture of a Fijian house is simple. At one end is a raised dais, on which the master of the house sleeps by night and reclines by day. It is covered with mats, and over it are hung the sheets of thin masi which are used as mosquito curtains. On this dais are generally one or two pillows. These implements are not unlike those of the Kaffirs, being nothing more than cylindrical bars of wood supported on legs at either end. Some of them are from four to five feet in length. This form of pillow is used on account of the mop-like headdress of the natives, which would be pressed out of all shape were it laid on an ordinary pillow.

On the hearth are several large earthenware cooking pots, oval in shape, and each set on three stones. As the quantity of food in them diminishes, they are gradually tilted, so that when they contain but very little food they lie quite on their sides. Near the hearth lies the thick concave board on which bread is kneaded, and close to the board are the smooth round stones by which the operation of kneading is conducted. The small hand nets used for fishing are kept near the fire, together with the knives and other implements used in preparing food. Several earthen water jars are always placed near the fire. They may be distinguished by their glazed surfaces, and are placed carefully on a thick bed of grass. A few bamboo vessels containing salt and fresh water, are generally placed near the larger jars. Round the foot of the wall are ranged a series of bowls and jars, which contain the arrowroot and similar articles of food.




The religion, or rather the superstition, of the Fijians is much like that of other polytheists. The people acknowledge vast numbers of gods of greater or lesser power; most, if not all, of which are symbolized under some natural form, such as a hawk, a tree, or the like. Every Fijian considers himself under the protection of some especial god, and, as has been stated, will not eat the animal which is his symbol.

An amusing instance of the reverence paid to the symbols of the gods occurred at Tilioa. A very powerful god, who is worshipped at that place, resides in a land crab, but, as that crustacean is scarcely ever seen in the locality, there are but few opportunities of paying the proper worship. Whenever any one saw a land crab, he immediately ran to the priest, and forthwith the whole place was in a commotion. The people assembled to pay their respects to their deity, and a number of cocoa-nuts were gathered, strung together, and humbly presented to the crab deity in order to propitiate him, and to induce him to give them fair weather and a healthy season.

As to the particular doctrines of the Fijian religion, it is scarcely possible to learn much about them. In the first place, the people know nothing, and the priests, who know but little, dislike communicating their knowledge. Even the Christian converts can seldom be induced to speak on the subject with any degree of truth.

The priests are known by their official insignia, which consists of an oval frontlet of scarlet feathers, and a long-toothed comb made of separate pieces of wood ingeniously fastened together. Several of these combs are in my collection, and are excellent examples of the artistic capabilities of the makers. No two of them are alike, the delicate thread which fastens them together being woven in a singular variety of patterns. The threads are nearly as fine as hairs, and an additional beauty is given to the pattern by using alternately a deep black and a glittering yellow thread.

The priests communicate with their deities by throwing themselves into a sort of ecstatic state, technically called “shaking,” in which the whole body is convulsed, and the utterances which come from the foaming lips are held to be the responses of the god. A vivid idea of this mode of consulting a deity is given by Mr. Williams in the valuable work to which reference has often been made.

“Nothing like regular worship or habitual reverence is found, and a principle of fear seems the only motive for religious observances; and this is fully practised on by the priests, through whom alone the people have access to the gods, when they wish to present petitions affecting their social or individual interest. When matters of importance are involved, the soro or offering consists of large quantities of food, together with[961] whales’ teeth. In smaller affairs a tooth, club, mat, or spear, is enough. Young nuts covered with turmeric powder formed the meanest offering I have known. On one occasion, when Tuikilakila asked the help of the Somo-somo gods in war, he built the war god a large new temple, and presented a quantity of cooked food, with sixty turtles, beside whales’ teeth.

“Part of the offering—the sigana—is set apart for the deity, the rest forming a feast of which all may partake. The portion devoted to the god is eaten by his priest and by old men, but to youths and women it is tapu.

“Strangers wishing to consult a god cut a quantity of fire wood for the temple. Sometimes only a dish of yams or a whale’s tooth is presented. It is not absolutely necessary for the transaction to take place at a temple. I have known priests to become inspired in a private house or in the open air; indeed, in some parts of Fiji, the latter is usually the case.

“One who intends to consult the oracle dresses and oils himself, and, accompanied by a few others, goes to the priest, who, we will suppose, has been previously informed of the intended visit, and is lying near the sacred corner getting ready his response. When the party arrives, he rises and sits so that his back is near to the white cloth by which the god visits him, while the others occupy the opposite side of the Buré. The principal person presents a whale’s tooth, states the purpose of his visit, and expresses a hope that the god will regard him with favor. Sometimes there is placed before the priest a dish of scented oil with which he anoints himself, and then receives the tooth, regarding it with deep and serious attention.

“Unbroken silence follows. The priest becomes absorbed in thought, and all eyes watch him with unblinking steadiness. In a few minutes he trembles; slight distortions are seen in his face, and twitching movements in his limbs. These increase to a violent muscular action, which spreads until the whole frame is strongly convulsed, and the man shivers as with a strong ague fit. In some islands this is accompanied with murmurs and sobs, the veins are greatly enlarged, and the circulation of the blood quickened.

“The priest is now possessed by his god, and all his words and actions are considered as no longer his own, but those of the deity who has entered into him. Shrill cries of ‘Koi au! Koi au!’ (‘It is I! It is I!’) fill the air, and the god is supposed thus to notify his approach. While giving the answer, the priest’s eyes stand out and roll as if in a frenzy; his voice is unnatural, his face pale, his lips livid, his breathing depressed, and his entire appearance like that of a furious madman. The sweat runs from every pore, and tears start from his strained eyes; after which the symptoms gradually disappear. The priest looks round with a vacant stare, and as the god says ‘I depart,’ announces his actual departure by violently flinging himself down on the mat, or by suddenly striking the ground with a club, when those at a distance are informed by blasts on the conch, or the firing of a musket, that the deity has returned into the world of spirits.”

In many cases it is evident that the priests enact deliberate impositions, but it is also certain that in many others they are completely under the dominion of frenzy, and that they do not recollect afterward the words which they uttered while in their delirious state. “My own mind,” said one of them, “departs from me, and then, when it is truly gone, my god speaks by me.”

Various modes of divination are employed by the Fijian priests. They have, for example, divination by the leaf, by the reed, by the nut, and by water. The leaf is tested by taking it between the front teeth and biting it. If it be completely severed, the omen is good; if it hang together, even by a single fibre, the omen is unfavorable. One priest had a very strange mode of divination by the leaf. He had two magic leaves, which he placed on the sides of the applicant, and then left them. If the leaf on the right side stung the skin, the omen was good; but if any plots or treacheries were hatched, the leaf stung the man on the left side, and so warned him of the danger. Another mode of divination by the leaf is to bite it, and judge by the flavor whether the omen be adverse or the contrary.

The reed test is managed as follows. A number of short reeds are cut, and laid in a row on the ground, a name being given to each. The priest then holds his right foot over each, and the response is given by the trembling of the foot.

The water test is performed by holding the straightened arm slightly upward, and pouring a few drops of water on the wrist. If the water should run to the shoulder, the response is favorable; should it fall off at the elbow, the answer is adverse.

The next test is performed by laying a cocoa-nut on a small surface and spinning it. When it stops, the response is given by the direction in which the eye points.

According to Fijian notions, the passage to Buruto or heaven is a very difficult one, except for great chiefs, and the only plan by which a man of inferior rank can hope to obtain admission is by telling the god a lie, and proclaiming himself a chief with so much apparent truthfulness that he is believed, and allowed to pass. Taking on his shoulder his war club and a whale’s tooth, the Fijian spirit goes to the end of the world, where grows a sacred pine, and throws the tooth at it. Should he miss it, he can go no further; but if he hit it, he travels on to a spot where[962] he awaits the arrival of the women who were murdered at his death.

Escorted by them, he proceeds until he is met and opposed by a god called Ravuyalo, whom he fights with his club. Should he fail, he is killed and eaten by the god, and there is an end of him. Should he conquer, he proceeds until he finds a canoe, into which he gets, and is conveyed to the lofty spot where the chief god, Ndengei, lives. Over the precipice extends the long steering oar of the god’s canoe. He is then asked his name and rank, when he replies with a circumstantial account of his grandeur and magnificence, of the countries over which he has ruled, of the deeds which he did in war, and of the devastation which he caused. He is then told to take his seat on the blade of the oar. Should his story have been believed, he is conveyed to Buruto; but should Ndengei disbelieve his story, the oar is tilted up, and he is hurled down the precipice into the water below whence he never emerges.

It has been mentioned that the spirit has to wait for the escort of his wives. This is in order to prove that he is a married man, bachelors having no hope of admission into Buruto. Should a wifeless man start on his journey, he is confronted by a goddess, called the Great Woman, who has a special hatred of bachelors, and, as soon as she sees one, flies at him and tries to tear him in pieces. Sometimes she misses him in her eagerness; but, even in such a case, he has to deal with another god, who hides himself in the spirit path, and, as the soul of the bachelor passes by, he springs on the wretched being, and dashes him to atoms against a stone.

The Burés or temples of the gods abound in Fiji, at least one Buré being found in every village, and some of the villages having many of these buildings. They are made of the same material as the houses, but with much more care. Instead of being merely set on the ground, they are placed on the top of a mound of earth, sometimes only slightly elevated, and sometimes twenty feet or more in height.

The natives think no labor too great for the decoration of a Buré, and it is in those buildings that their marvellous skill in plaiting sinnet is best shown. Every beam, post, and pillar is entirely covered with sinnet plaited into the most beautiful patterns, black and red being the favorite colors; and even the reeds which line the window frames, and fill up the interstices between the pillars, are hidden in the plaited sinnet with which they are covered. So lavish are the natives of their work, that they are not content with covering the pillars and reeds with sinnet work, but they make large plaited cords of the same material, and hang them in festoons from the eaves.

It has already been mentioned that the best houses have the ends of the ridge-poles decorated with cowries, but those of the Buré are adorned with long strings of cowries that sometimes reach the ground. Ordinary laths are thought too common to be used in thatching temples, and the beautifully carved spears of warriors are employed instead of simple wood. When the Buré is erected on a high mound, entrance is gained to it by means of a very thick plank cut into notched steps.

Although the Burés are considered as temples, and dedicated to the god, they are mostly used for secular purposes. Visitors from a distance are generally quartered in them, and in many instances the principal men of the village make the Buré their sleeping-place. Councils are held in the Burés, and entertainments are given in them, of which the offerings to the god form a large part. Sometimes, as has been mentioned, a chief who wishes to propitiate some deity offers a great quantity of food in his temple, and this food is consumed in a general feast. A certain portion is dedicated to the god, and may only be eaten by the priests and the old men, but the remainder may be eaten by any one.

None of the food is left to perish, the Fijians having a convenient belief which combines piety with self-indulgence. The god is supposed to be a great eater, but only to consume the soul of the provisions, so that when food is cooked and offered, the god eats the soul and the people the body. The chief god, Ndengei, used to be both greedy and dainty in his demands for food. He sometimes ate two hundred hogs and a hundred turtles at a single feast, and was continually insisting on human sacrifices. In order to procure these, no respect was paid to persons, and so infatuated were the people that, to keep up Ndengei’s supplies of human food, chiefs were known to kill their own wives.

No regular worship is ever offered in the Burés, which, indeed, are often left to fall into decay until some one desires to consult or propitiate the god, when the building is repaired and cleaned for the occasion. As may be expected, during the building of the Buré several human sacrifices are offered.

If the reader will refer to the drawing of the Buré on the following page, he will see that in front of it are two oddly-shaped objects. These are examples of the sacred stones, several of which are to be found in various parts of Fiji. They are considered as the dwelling-place of certain gods, and are held to be either male or female, according to the sex of the deity who inhabits them. Should the god be of the female sex, the fact is known by a woman’s apron or liku being tied round the stone. One such god is a very useful one, because he hates mosquitoes, and keeps them away from the spot in which he dwells. Food is prepared and offered to those sacred stones, the god as usual, eating the spirit of the food, and the priest and officers consuming its outward form.


(See page 962.)

(See page 970.)


We now come to the funeral ceremonies of Fiji, taking those of the chiefs as types of the whole.

Among the Fijians a very singular superstition reigns. When men or women become infirm with age, they are considered to have lived their full time on earth, and preparations are made for their burial. So ingrained is this belief, that if a man finds himself becoming feeble with age or disease, he requests his sons to strangle him, and with this request they think themselves bound to comply. Indeed, if they think that he is too slow in making the request, they suggest to him that he has lived long enough, and ought to rest in the grave. Such conduct seems to imply that they are destitute of affection, but in reality it is their way of showing their love for their parent.

They are really a most affectionate race of people. A young chief has been seen to sob with overpowering emotion at parting from his father for a short time, and yet, were his parents to become ill or infirm, he would think it his duty to apply the fatal rope with his own hands. To be strangled by one’s children, or to be buried alive by them, is considered the most honorable mode of death. The reason for this strange custom seems to be that the Fijians believe the condition of the spirit in the next world to be exactly the same as that of the individual when in life. Consequently, affectionate children are unwilling to allow their parents to pass into the next world in an infirm state of body, and therefore strangle them out of sheer kindness.

From a similar notion of kindness, they also strangle the favorite wives and attendants of the dead chief, so as to provide him with the followers to whom he has been accustomed. They also kill a powerful warrior, in order that he may go before his chief through the passage into the spirit land, and drive away the evil spirits who oppose the progress of a new comer. These victims go by the name of “grass,” and are laid at the bottom of the grave; the warrior painted and dressed for battle, with his favorite club by his side, the women arranged in folds of the finest masi, and the servants with their implements in their hands; so that the inhabitants of the spirit world may see how great a chief has come among them.

All their preparations are carried on in a quiet and orderly manner, the victims never attempting to escape from their fate, but vying with each other for the honor of accompanying their chief. In some cases, when a chief has died young, his mother has insisted on sharing his grave. So deeply do the Fijians feel the necessity for this sacrifice that the custom has been a greater barrier against Christianity even than cannibalism or polygamy, and even those natives who have been converted to Christianity are always uneasy on the subject. On one occasion a Christian chief was shot, and by the same volley a young man was killed. The Christian natives were delighted with the latter catastrophe, inasmuch as it provided an attendant for their slain chief.

The scene which takes place when a great chief is expected to die has been described by Mr. Williams with great power. The King of Somo-somo, a magnificent specimen of the savage, was becoming infirm through age, and toward the middle of August 1845 was unable to do more than walk about a little:—

“I visited him on the 21st, and was surprised to find him much better than he had been two days before. On being told, therefore, on the 24th that the king was dead, and that preparations were being made for his interment, I could scarcely credit the report. The ominous word preparing urged me to hasten without delay to the scene of action, but my utmost speed failed to bring me to Nasima—the king’s house—in time. The moment I entered it was evident that, as far as concerned two of the women, I was too late to save their lives. The effect of that scene was overwhelming. Scores of deliberate murderers in the very act surrounded me: yet there was no confusion, and, except a word from him who presided, no noise, only an unearthly, horrid stillness. Nature seemed to lend her aid and to deepen the dread effect; there was not a breath stirring in the air, and the half-subdued light in that hall of death showed every object with unusual distinctness.

“All was motionless as sculpture, and a strange feeling came upon me, as though I was myself becoming a statue. To speak was impossible; I was unconscious that I breathed; and involuntarily, or rather against my will, I sunk to the floor, assuming the cowering posture of those who were actually engaged in murder. My arrival was during a hush, just at the crisis of death, and to that strange silence must be attributed my emotions; and I was but too familiar with murders of this kind, neither was there anything novel in the apparatus employed. Occupying the centre of that large room were two groups, the business of whom could not be mistaken.

“All sat on the floor; the middle figure of each group being held in a sitting posture by several females, and hidden by a large veil. On either side of each veiled figure was a company of eight or ten strong men, one company hauling against the other on a white cord which was passed twice round the neck of the doomed one, who thus in a few minutes ceased to live. As my self-command was returning to me the group furthest from me began to move; the men slackened their hold, and the attendant[966] women removed the large covering, making it into a couch for the victim.

“As that veil was lifted some of the men beheld the distorted features of a mother whom they had helped to murder, and smiled with satisfaction as the corpse was laid out for decoration. Convulsion strongly on the part of the poor creature near me showed that she still lived. She was a stout woman, and some of the executioners jocosely invited those who sat near to have pity and help them. At length a woman said, ‘she is cold.’ The fatal cord fell, and as the covering was raised I saw dead the oldest wife and unwearied attendant of the old king.”

Leaving the house of murder, Mr. Williams went to the hut of the deceased king, determining to see his successor, and beg him to spare the lives of the intended victims.

To his horror and astonishment, he found that the king was still alive. He was lying on his couch, very feeble, but perfectly conscious, every now and then placing his hand to his side as he was racked by cough. The young king was full of grief. He embraced his visitor with much emotion, saying, “See, the father of us two is dead.” It was useless to dispute the point. The poor old king certainly did move and speak and eat; but, according to the son’s ideas, the movements were only mechanical, the spirit having left the body.

So the preparations for his funeral went on. His chief wife and an assistant employed themselves in covering his body with black powder, as if dressing him for the war dance, and fastening upon his arms and legs a number of long strips of white masi, tied in rosettes, with the ends streaming on the ground. They had already clad him in a new masi of immense size, the white folds of which were wrapped round his feet. In place of the usual masi turban, a scarlet handkerchief was bound on his hair with a circlet of white cowrie-shells, and strings of the same shells decorated his arms, while round his neck was an ivory necklace, made of long curved claw-like pieces of whale’s teeth.

The reader may perhaps wonder that the chief wife of the king was suffered to live. The fact was that the young king would not allow her to be killed, because no executioner of sufficient rank could be found. She lamented her hard lot in being forbidden to accompany her husband to the spirit land, and begged to be strangled, but without success.

Presently the sound of two conch-shell trumpets was heard outside the house, this being the official intimation that the old king was dead, and the new king was then formally acknowledged by the chiefs who were present. He seemed overcome with grief, and, gazing on the body of his father’s attendant, he exclaimed, “Alas, Moalevu! There lies a woman truly wearied, not only in the day but in the night also; the fire consumed the fuel gathered by her hands. If we awoke in the still night, the sound of our feet reached her ears, and, if spoken to harshly, she continued to labor only. Moalevu! Alas, Moalevu!”

The bodies of the murdered women were then rolled up in mats, placed on a bier, and carried out of the door, but the old king was taken through a breach made in the wall of the house. The bodies were carried down to the seaside and placed in a canoe, the king being on the deck, attended by his wife and the Mata, who fanned him and kept off the insects.

When they arrived at Weilangi, the place of sepulture, they found the grave already dug, and lined with mats. The bodies of the women were laid side by side in the grave, and on them the dying king. The shell ornaments were then taken from him, and he was entirely enveloped in mats, after which the earth was filled in, and thus he was buried alive. The poor old man was even heard to cough after a quantity of earth had been heaped on him.

This final scene is represented in an illustration on the 980th page. In the foreground is seen the open grave, with the bodies of the murdered women lying in it as “grass.” The still living king is being borne to the grave by the attendants, while his successor sits mournfully surveying a scene which he knows will be re-enacted in his own case, should he live to be old and infirm. Just above the grave are the rolls of fine mats with which the body of the king is to be covered before the earth is filled in; and in the background appears the mast of the canoe which brought the party to the burial-ground.

The reader cannot but notice the resemblance between this Fijian custom of strangling the wives and the well-known suttee of India. In both cases the women are the foremost to demand death, and for the same reason. Just as the Hindoo women arrange their own funeral pile, and light it with their own hands, the Fijian woman helps to dig her own grave, lines it with mats and then seats herself in it.

The fact is, that the woman has positively no choice in the matter; a wife who survives her husband is condemned to a life of neglect, suffering, and insult, so that the short agony of immediate death is preferable to such a fate, especially as by yielding to the national custom she believes that she shall secure a happy and honored life in the spirit land. Moreover, her relatives are bound by custom to insist upon her death, as, if they did not follow this custom, they would be accused of disrespect toward her husband and his family, and would run the risk of being clubbed in revenge.

In consequence of this horrid custom, the population of Fiji has been greatly checked,[967] for not only is there the direct sacrifice of life, but much indirect loss is occasioned. Many of the murdered women are mothers, whose children die for want of maternal care, so that, what with the perpetual feuds and continual murders, the custom of cannibalism, the sacrifice of wives with their husbands, the strangling of the old or sick, and the death of children by neglect, very few Fijians die from natural causes. Mr. Williams mentions that in a class of nine children under his charge, the parents had all been murdered with the exception of two, and these had been condemned to death, and only saved through the exertions of the missionaries.

After a king is buried, sundry ceremonies are observed. For twenty days or so, no one eats until the evening, the people shave their heads either partially or entirely, and the women cut off their fingers, which are inserted in split reeds, and stuck along the eaves of the royal house. Those who are nearly related to the dead king show their grief by refusing to wear their usual dress, and substituting rude garments of leaves. They often deny themselves the luxury of a mat to lie upon, and pass their nights on the grave of their friend. The coast is rendered tapu for a certain distance, no one being allowed to fish until the proper time has elapsed, and the cocoa-nut trees are placed under a similar restriction.

Various strange rites take place on certain days after the funeral. On the fourth day the friends assemble, and celebrate the melancholy ceremony called the “jumping of maggots,” in which they symbolize the progress of corruption. Next evening is one of a directly opposite character, called the “causing to laugh,” in which the immediate friends and relatives of the dead are entertained with comic games. On the tenth day the women have an amusing ceremony of their own. Arming themselves with whips, switches, or cords, they fall upon every man whom they meet, without respect to age or rank, the greatest chiefs only being exempt from this persecution. The men are not allowed to retaliate, except by flinging mud at their assailants, and those who have witnessed the scene say that nothing more ludicrous can be imagined than to see grave, elderly men running in all directions, pursued by the women with their whips and switches.

The last ceremony is the completion of some special work begun in honor of the dead. It may be the erection of a house, the making of a huge ball of sinnet, a great bale of cloth, and, in any case, it bears the name of the person in whose honor it was undertaken. Building large canoes is a favorite form of this custom, and, during the whole time that the work is in progress, the canoe is put to sleep at night by the beating of drums, and awakened every morning in a similar manner, when the carpenters come to their work.

A curious ceremony takes place in Fiji when one of the principal chiefs has died. It is called the loloku of the sail, and is a sort of a signal of honor. Whenever a canoe approaches the coast for the first time since the death of the chief, the vessel is obliged to show the loloku. This is generally a long strip of masi tied to the head of the mast, and as soon as the canoe touches the land, both the sail and masi are thrown into the water. Sometimes, when the owner of the canoe is tolerably rich, he adds to the simple loloku a whale’s tooth, which is flung from the mast-head into the water, when the people dive and scramble for it.

Should the chief perish at sea, or be killed in a warlike expedition, and be eaten by his enemies, the loloku is shown as carefully as if he had been buried on shore, and his relatives try to compensate him for his adverse fate, by killing an unusual number of women as his attendants. Nearly twenty women have thus been sacrificed on the death of a young chief who was drowned at sea.

The graves of chiefs and their wives are marked by tombs. These are sometimes nothing but stones at the head and foot of the grave, or large cairns of stones piled on the deceased. Sometimes they are roofs from three to six feet in height, decorated, after Fijian custom, with patterns worked in sinnet.

One tomb, that of a chief’s wife, was a very remarkable one. Her husband had a large mound of earth thrown up, and faced with stones. On the top of the mound was a double canoe, forty feet in length, held firmly in its place by being imbedded in earth. Fine shingle was strewn on the deck, and mats were spread on the shingle for the reception of the body. Sand was then heaped over the canoe, and on the sand was laid the body of a little child of whom the deceased woman had been very fond. Over all was then built a large roof, made of mahogany, and adorned with white cowrie-shells.




Between New Guinea and the Fiji group lie the Solomon (or Salomon) Islands. They were discovered, as far as we know, by Alvero de Mendana, who touched upon them in the year 1567. Being desirous of inducing his countrymen, who held in those days the chief place among sailors, to visit and colonize so fertile a land, he concocted a pious fraud, and called the group by the name of Solomon Islands, as being the Ophir from which Solomon’s ships brought the vast quantities of gold with which he adorned the Temple and his own palace.

His scheme failed, inasmuch as, when he again went in search of the islands, he could not find them, the imperfect astronomical instruments of that day being far inferior to those of the present time, by means of which a competent observer can tell within a few yards his exact place on the earth.

The natives of the Solomon Islands are so fierce and treacherous, that comparatively little has as yet been learned about them. They have displayed a great genius for lulling voyagers into a fancied security, and then murdering and eating them; so that the Spaniards lost nothing by Mendana’s inability to find the islands again. They contrived lately to entrap a gentleman who visited their islands in his yacht, and murdered him while he was on shore, shooting pigeons. They have committed so many murders on seamen, and even captured so many vessels, that the greatest precautions are now taken by those who visit their shores.

Perhaps the reader may wonder that any one should take the trouble of visiting so inhospitable a place; but the fact is that the hawk’s-bill turtle, so valued as supplying the tortoise-shell of commerce, is plentiful on the coasts, and captured by the natives, who reserve the shell for barter with European ships.

When ships anchor off the coast, the natives put off in canoes; but only a certain number are allowed to approach, the hammock nettings being triced up so as to prevent the natives from boarding the vessel. Only the principal chief is allowed to come on board, and through him the bargains are made. These are very tedious, as the natives will insist on haggling separately over each piece of tortoise-shell, instead of selling the whole “head” at once, as is done at other places. The usual articles of merchandise are employed in the trade, such as glass bottles, beads, axes, cloth, knives, and similar objects.

The natives are very dark, and may even be called black, with thick and crisp hair. That they are cannibals has already been mentioned. They are such inordinate lovers of human flesh that, according to the accounts of some travellers, which may however have been exaggerated, they make it their customary diet. It is evident, however, that this statement must be somewhat overdrawn, as no people inhabiting a limited country could make human flesh the chief article of diet without gradual extermination. That they prefer it to all other food is likely enough, and in this they only[969] follow the example of the Papuans. Mendana mentions that the chief of one of the islands sent him a handsome present of a quarter of a boy, and that he gave great offence to the natives by burying instead of eating it.

They do certainly use great quantities of this horrible diet, and one traveller mentions that, in visiting their houses, he has seen human heads, legs, and arms hung from the rafters, just as joints of meat are hung in a larder. The houses bear token in other ways of the cannibalistic habits of the natives, being ornamented with skulls and similar relics of bygone feasts, together with other ornaments.

The Solomon Islanders are not handsome people, and do not add to their beauty by their modes of adornment. Their inveterate use of the betel-nut blackens their teeth, and their faces are disfigured with streaks and patches of white paint, which has a horribly ghastly appearance against the black skin. They are fond of wearing numerous ornaments in their ears, the lobes of which are perforated, and so distended that they can wear in them circular blocks of wood nine inches in circumference. Their chief ornament is, however, an armlet made from a large shell found on the reefs. Shells of sufficient size for this purpose are extremely rare, and are prized even more than whales’ teeth among the Fijians and neighboring people. Wars are often caused by a struggle for the possession of a single armlet; while, in comparison with so valuable an article, human life is looked upon as utterly worthless. Very great chiefs and warriors wear several of these rings on their arms; but they do so with the full knowledge that their finery is as perilous as it is valuable, and that they are likely to be murdered merely for the sake of their ornaments.

The Solomon Islanders care little for clothing, their whole dress being simply a piece of matting tied round the waist; and it is rather a remarkable fact that they pursue the same art of staining the hair yellow, white, or red, or discharging all color out of it, that is practised by the Fijians.

Warlike as well as fierce, they possess a variety of weapons; such as clubs of different kinds, spears, bows and arrows. In order to guard themselves against the missile weapons, they carry shields made of rushes, woven so thickly and tightly together that they are able to resist the arrows and to render the spears almost harmless.

That they possess canoes may be inferred from the fact that they inhabit islands of such diminutive size. These canoes are made in a most ingenious manner, and are constructed in a mode that gives a clue to the peculiar shape which is so often seen among the islands of Polynesia. Both at the stem and stern the ends of the canoe are very much raised. This structure is not only for ornament, though decoration is freely used in it, but is principally intended for defence. When the crew attack an enemy, or are attacked, they always take care to present the bow or stern of the canoe to the foe, and thus are in a great measure protected by the raised ends.

As is the case with most of these oceanic peoples, the inhabitants of the Solomon Islands profusely adorn the sides of their canoes with carvings, feathers, and inlayings. For the last-mentioned purpose white shells are liberally used, and tortoise-shell is also employed. Sometimes these portions of the canoe are carved so as to resemble the human face, the eyes being made of mother-of-pearl, the ears of tortoise-shell, and the chin furnished with a long beard.

In one of these canoes Captain Bouganville found a great quantity of weapons and implements, such as spears, bows and arrows, shields, and fishing nets. The shape of the shields was nearly oval, and the arrows were tipped with sharp fish bones. Various articles of food were also found in the boat, such as cocoa-nuts and other fruits, among which was the somewhat startling object of a human jaw-bone partially cooked.

Among the same group of islands are New Ireland and New Britain, both of which, by the way, seemed to have been named on the lucus a non lucendo principle, inasmuch as it is scarcely possible to find any part of the world less like Ireland or Britain in general than these little islands.

In their dress and ornaments the inhabitants differ but little from the Solomon Islanders, except that the chiefs wear circular ornaments of pearl almost exactly like the dibbi-dibbi of North Australia. Tortoise-shell is also used for the purpose.

These tribes seem to be continually on the move, the warriors being ordered by the chiefs from stations much like our own regiments at home, and being accompanied by their wives and families. In their various migrations the men are bound to look to the interests of their families; and if they neglect to do so, the case is brought before a council of chiefs, who investigate the matter. Should the accusation be proved, the delinquent is condemned to run the gauntlet, a punishment which is inflicted in exactly the same mode as has been employed in Europe.

All the inhabitants of the village, men, women, and children, are drawn up in a double line, and each is furnished with a bundle of twigs bound together like the birches of schools. The culprit is placed at one end of this line, and at a signal from the chief he is obliged to run through it a certain number of times, receiving a blow from every one as he passes. Sharp and severe[970] as is this law, it shows no small amount of political wisdom, and lifts the people in a degree from mere savage life. Among ordinary savages the man is everything and the women and children nothing, and that in these remote islands they should be placed under the protection of the government shows a considerable advance toward civilization. There is, moreover, an ingenious retributive justice in the mode of punishment. By deserting his family, the man throws the burden of their maintenance on the community, and it is, therefore, thought only fair that the punishment should also be left to the community.

The architecture of these people is good, and we shall presently see an example of it. When a new village is to be built a large space is cleared, in the middle of which is the council house, a large circular edifice, supported on red pillars, and distinguished by having on the roof a number of tall poles, each bearing on its point a human skull. The floor is carpeted with fine mats, colored with turmeric, and adorned with birds’ feathers woven into it.

The dwelling-houses are made in a very different manner. The native architect begins by digging a large square hole in the ground some five feet deep, and over this pit he erects the house, which is rather low, in consequence of the depth gained in the basement. The thatch is of weeds, and is covered with a thick coating of clay, which serves the double purpose of rendering the hut fire-proof and of keeping the interior cool.

The weapons of the warriors are much the same as those of the other islands, but slings are also employed, and the spears are generally tipped with sharp flint. Like most of the Papuans, the victorious party eat the enemies whom they kill in battle.

Owing to the character of these islanders, little is known of their religion. That they have some form of worship is evident from the fact that they make great wooden idols, sometimes ten or more feet in height, and plant them in different parts of the country. The illustration No. 2, on the 949th page, represents one of these idols. To these idols offerings of food are constantly made; and, as such offerings are never taken away, the odor of decomposing figs, fowls, and fruit betrays the presence of the idol at a great distance. In one of the islands, called Ysabel, the natives are said to worship snakes, toads, and various reptiles.

The most eastward of this group, San Christoval, is about seventy miles long and twenty wide. In No. 2, on page 963, is given a view taken in Makira harbor, in order to show the ingenious houses which the natives build for the protection of their canoes. As may be seen, the house is capable of accumulating a considerable number of the beautifully carved vessels, and is elaborately adorned, after the native fashion, with idols in images, human skulls, tufts of feathers, and similar ornaments.

The extremest of the group are those which are known by the name of the Admiralty Islands.

The natives of these islands make use of a sort of obsidian, which they split into fragments and use as we use steel. For example, they make razors of it, with which they shave every part of their bodies excepting the head, on which the hair is allowed to grow, and is tied up in a knot on the top of the head. The hair is often colored with red ochre and oil. They use the same material as heads to their spears, tying the head to the shaft with plaited string coated with gum. The clothing of the Admiralty Islanders is very simple, the women wearing a piece of matting tied round the waist, and the men nothing but a large white shell. They have bracelets and armlets made of plaited fibre, and a belt of similar material round the waist. Some of them make their bracelets of large sea-ear shells, grinding out the middle and rounding the edges; and ornaments of a similar character are hung in the ears, which are often dragged down to such an extent that the lower tips of the lobes almost rest on the shoulders. This enormous size is attained at the cost of much trouble, an elastic hoop being constantly kept in the aperture so as to keep it gradually distended. A few of the natives also have the septum of the nose pierced, and hang upon it a string, to the end of which are fastened teeth. The chiefs are distinguished by a double row of little shells on the forehead, and seem to exercise considerable authority over their inferiors.

When Captain D’Entrecasteaux visited the place, his boats approached the shore, whereon a number of natives were collected, and the captain made signs of peace. A chief, distinguished by the insignia of rank on his forehead, ordered one of the natives to swim to the boats with some cocoa-nuts. “The fear of approaching persons of whose intentions he was ignorant, made the islander, swimming and defenceless, hesitate a moment. But the chief, who doubtless was little accustomed to have his will disobeyed, did not allow him to reflect. Blows from a cudgel, which he held in his hand, immediately succeeded his order, and enforced instant obedience....

“By way of comforting the poor fellow, our people gave him some bits of red stuff, a few nails, and a knife, with which he was greatly pleased. No sooner had he returned to the island, than curiosity collected all the rest around him, every one wishing to see our presents. Canoes were immediately launched, many natives took to the water and swam, and in a short time there was[971] a great concourse round our boats. We were surprised to see that neither the force of the surf nor of the breakers discouraged them from the attempt.

“There was another chief distinguished by the same ornaments as he who has been already mentioned, and also by the blows which he inflicted with his cudgel upon those to whom he gave his orders.”

The canoes of these people are furnished with a double outrigger, only one touching the water, and the other projecting at an equal distance on the opposite side. They are connected by a platform, on which the commander stands when the sail is lowered and laid on the second outrigger. When the sail is hoisted, he stands on the place where it had been laid. Each outrigger projects about eight feet from the gunwale. The paddles are about six feet in length, and are furnished with a broad blade, which is made separately from the handle, and firmly lashed to it with cord.

The sail is made of matting, and about thirteen feet square. The mast is twenty feet in height, and when the canoe is to be pushed to its full speed, the sail is hoisted diagonally, with one angle projecting a yard above the top of the mast. When the natives desire to go slowly, they only hoist a few feet of the sail, the rest of it lying in the canoe; and by thus hoisting or lowering the sail they can regulate their speed much as they like. When the sail is hoisted to its fullest extent, the canoe can beat the swiftest sailing ships. The ordinary length of a canoe is about thirty-two feet, and the extreme breadth is only twenty-six inches.

The Admiralty Islanders chew the pepper leaf, with the addition of lime, which they keep in a little calabash, but do not seem to add the cocoa-nut. Only the chiefs appear to practise this habit, probably on account of the difficulty of obtaining the proper materials.

One of these islands, named Bouka, was visited by Captain D’Entrecasteaux in 1792. The natives are black, tall, powerful, and quite naked. The face is rather broad and flat, the nose projects but little, the mouth is large, and the lips peculiarly thin. They pluck all the hair off the body, and only allow that of the head to grow, sometimes powdering it with red chalk. Red and white paint are freely used on their bodies, and their ears are pierced and loaded with large shells, which drag them nearly to the shoulders. Round the waist they wear a cord which passes round the body several times, and some of them have a custom of binding the upper arm in a similar manner, placing some flat pieces of wood between the arm and the ligature.

These people are good canoe men, and, when they man their large war canoes, exhibit a discipline which is hardly to be expected among savages. Between every two paddlers on each side stands a warrior armed with bow and arrows, while intermediate parties of warriors stand with their faces toward the stern, so as to observe the enemy and fight during a retreat. Two of the crew are told off to bale out the water, which beats continually over the side of the canoe when the wind blows freshly.

The bow is remarkable for having the string coated with a sort of resinous substance in order to preserve it, the middle of the cord being skilfully wrapped with bark to guard it against injury from the nock of the arrow. The arrows are made of two pieces, the head being shaped from a hard and heavy wood, and the shaft being a reed. The place where they are joined is strengthened by a ligature of bark. The butt of the arrow is wrapped in the same manner to prevent it from being split by the string. They use these weapons with much skill, and, as was proved by Captain D’Entrecasteaux, are able to kill birds with them.

The natives were ready to part with their weapons in exchange for red stuff, biscuits, bottles, and other commodities, but were rather prone to cheat, agreeing to deliver a bow for a handkerchief, and, when they had got the handkerchief, pretending that the bargain was not made for a bow but for an arrow. The natives of Bouka Island, naked and savage as they are, have some sort of civilization among themselves, as is evident from the fact that they cultivate the cocoa-nut palm, large plantations of which useful tree extend to the water-side along a great portion of the coast.

Following the line of the Solomon Islands in a south-easterly direction, we come upon another group of islands called the New Hebrides, extending for some four hundred miles, and containing a considerable number of islands of various sizes. They are perhaps best known from the fact that one of them, called Errumanga, was the place in which the celebrated missionary, John Williams, met with his death. These islands attained importance in a secular point of view from the fact that several of them produce sandal-wood, and therefore attract to them a great number of trading vessels of different countries, with whom a considerable commerce has been carried on.

The islands are mostly of a volcanic nature, and present the usual variations of such localities, some parts being rough, craggy, and bare, while others are fertile and prolific to a degree that can scarcely be conceived by those who have never seen tropical vegetation. As is often the case with islands of no great size and divided from each other by moderately wide channels, the tribes which inhabit them differ considerably in their language and manners, and[972] are in a chronic state of feud with each other. They are just far enough apart to have but rare and infrequent intercourse with each other, and so gradually diverge into different customs, and they are not far enough apart to isolate them, and confer upon them a nationality.

We find this feeling in every one of the innumerable groups of islands which stud the Pacific, and, as we shall soon see, it prevails even among those groups which preserve the same language and customs. In fact, among the Polynesians there is that very feeling of local jealousy which prevails even in civilized countries, and which is, though necessarily more limited, far more rancorous than the feelings of enmity which prevail between mighty nations.

One of the largest of these islands is Vaté, sometimes called Sandwich Island. This latter term should not be used, as it tends to cause confusion between a single island of the New Hebrides and the great group of the Sandwich Islands, which are inhabited by a totally different race of men. To strangers Vaté is very unhealthy, but the causes which produce malaria also produce a wonderful fertility of vegetation. This island is about seventy miles in circumference, and is remarkable for the thick growth of forests upon its lower limits, and of verdure upon the higher portions which are not so well fitted for trees. The natives seem to give some time and trouble to agriculture.

The inhabitants are black of skin, but tall and well-formed, and their dress in many points reminds the observer of the costume of several African tribes. That of the men consists of a broad belt or wrapper of matting wrought in patterns colored with red, white, and black. The hair is generally gathered up into a bunch at the top of the head, stained yellow, and adorned with a plume of feathers.

As to ornaments, they are much like those which have already been mentioned as belonging to the Solomon Islanders. The lobes of the ears are always much distended, from the habit of wearing in them heavy ornaments cut from white shells, or similar materials. The septum of the nose is mostly pierced, and the aperture filled with a white stone. Raised scars are made in the arms and chest, and arranged in definite patterns. Armlets made of shells are used by these islanders. Their figure and costume are well represented in the engraving No. 1, on the 973d page.

The women are equally well made with the men, and the general fashion of the dress is much the same. They wear, however, a curious addition to the dress, which is very much like that of the Ovambo women of Africa. Passing round the waist is a belt some seven inches wide, made of plaited fibre woven into neat patterns. From this belt depends in front a square apron of no great size, and behind is attached a broad strip of the same plaited matting as that which faces the belt. It descends half-way down the leg, and is finished off with a fan-like fringe of plaited grass, some eighteen inches long, and of proportionate width. The women, as well as the men, practise the custom of making raised scars on their bodies. They differ from the men in the mode of dressing the hair, keeping it cut closely to the head instead of allowing it to grow to its full length and tying it up in a bunch.

The weapons of these islanders are remarkable for the beauty of their finish, the barbs of the arrows being neatly carved, and the junction of the head and shaft being neatly ornamented with plaited grass and feathers. Indeed, the arrows have a curious resemblance to those made by some of the tribes of tropical America.

Like the Solomon Islanders, the inhabitants of the New Hebrides have large council chambers in their villages. Instead, however, of being circular, they are generally made of considerable length, sometimes measuring as much as a hundred feet from one end to the other. They are entirely open on one side. For some reason which seems rather obscure, they are adorned with bones of various animals, the particular species from which they are taken not seeming to be of any consequence. For example, in one of these houses may be seen bunches of bones taken indiscriminately from pigs, fowls, and fishes, while the shells of lobsters and other crustacea are mixed with them. It is believed that human bones are not used for this purpose.

A curious contrast to these tribes is presented by the inhabitants of another island called Tanna, who are certainly inferior to those of Vaté in stature and general appearance, and are thought to be so in point of intellect. They have a bad reputation, being said to be treacherous and cruel. That they are also reputed to be cannibals is no matter of wonder, inasmuch as they belong to the Papuan race. They are said to rival the Fans of Africa in one respect, and to dig up the bodies of the buried dead, in order to eat them.

The island is volcanic, and the subterranean fires seem to aid the already exuberant vegetation of the tropics, which in Tanna attains a development that is almost incredible.

The inhabitants of Tanna are as black as those of Vaté, but seem to have no other points of resemblance. The men appear to think that they are not black enough by nature, for they have a way of daubing their sable countenances with black lead, and painting upon the black groundwork sundry patterns in red ochre. The hair is frizzed out after the ordinary Papuan type which is dyed a reddish dun color by means of lime.


(See page 972.)

(See page 975.)

(See page 977.)


We come now to Errumanga. It has kept up its traditional ferocity. Not content with killing the first missionary who set his foot on their shores, the people many years afterward murdered another missionary and his wife. This second murder was owing to the priests, who persuaded the people that an epidemic which had done much damage among the natives was caused by the missionaries from a strange land. The ignorant people readily believed this statement, and, wild with the uncontrolled fury of the savage, they murdered both the accused persons. The deed was scarcely done before the people repented of it, and only the day after the murder, when the bodies were buried, the natives stood round the grave overwhelmed with grief, the most sincere mourner being the chief of the district.

The murder of these people, unfortunate as it may seem, really paved the way for others to follow in their footsteps; and, as is generally the case with persecution, the cause only gained additional strength by the attempts made to repress it by main force.

At one time the inhabitants were held in such dread that the natives were not allowed to come on board the ships, nor were the men permitted to land. A small trade was carried on in sandal-wood, which the natives carried to the boats by swimming through the surf, and being necessarily unarmed, could be allowed to make their bargains without suspicion of treachery. Although, therefore, the savage nature of the inhabitants has occasionally broken out and showed itself in bloodshed, the very fact that Europeans have been allowed to reside for any time on the island shows a great improvement in the character of the natives.

The northernmost island of the group is Aneiteum, one of the islands which produce sandal-wood in great plenty. The natural ferocity and suspicion of the natives has been overcome by the judicious establishment and introduction of a factory, to which the sandal-wood is taken by the natives, and from which it is sold to the ships, which find here a store of this valuable wood always ready for them. The chief market for the wood is found in China, where it is cut into various articles of luxury with the customary patience which characterizes the artists of that country. The success of this factory shows that the best way of dealing with savages is to treat them precisely as children are treated, and to employ in all dealings with them an equal mixture of kindness and firmness, making allowances for the different constitution of their minds and the influence of savage habits upon their conduct; but at the same time to be firm almost to severity, and never to permit an encroachment. The safest maxim in dealing with savages is never to deceive and never to trust.

The inhabitants of Malicolo differ considerably from those of the islands which have been mentioned. While the natives of Vaté are tall and finely made, those of Errumanga scarcely inferior to them, and those of Tanna stout and powerful, though comparatively short of stature, the inhabitants of Malicolo are small, ill-proportioned people, ugly of face, and disfiguring themselves by wearing a belt round the waist, drawn so tight that it gives them an hour-glass or waspish aspect.

The reader may perhaps be aware that, in the year 1788, the vessels Boussole and Astrolabe, commanded by the celebrated voyager La Pérouse, disappeared, and nothing more was heard of them. He was last seen at Botany Bay, where he had arrived from Tonga.

In 1791 an expedition, consisting of two vessels, the Recherche and the Espérance, was fitted out under the command of Captain D’Entrecasteaux, and sent out in search of the missing vessels. The expedition failed in its immediate object, though in the course of the explorations some valuable discoveries were made.

In 1792 D’Entrecasteaux’s vessels got among the New Hebrides, and found themselves in the midst of coral reefs and shoals of which they knew nothing, and which caused no small alarm. In consequence of the danger of these reefs, the captain did not touch at all the islands which were seen, but contented himself with naming them, and marking their places on a chart. As it turned out, one of these islands, Vanikoro, or Recherche Island, as D’Entrecasteaux named it, was the place on which La Pérouse was wrecked, so that the expedition actually passed within sight of the very spot which was the object of their voyage. Indeed, D’Entrecasteaux practically completed the voyage which La Pérouse began, and his narrative furnishes a necessary supplement to that of the voyager in search of whom he sailed. It was not until some forty years afterward that the relics were discovered which proved beyond a doubt that Vanikoro was the place in which La Pérouse and his companions perished. Vanikoro is sometimes called Pitt’s Island. An illustration is given on the 973d page, which represents a woman of Vanikoro, and her child, and is a type of the expression and features of these islanders.




Our readers may remember that, in the account of the Fiji Islands, it was mentioned that there was one nation which was held by the Fijians as free from their usual custom of killing and eating all visitors to their coast. These people are the inhabitants of the Tongan group, popularly known as the Friendly Islands. Owing to their courage in war and superior intellect, they have performed toward the Fijians the same part that has so often been played by more civilized people. On one or two occasions they found the Fijian chiefs hard pressed by rebellion, took the part of their hosts, crushed the rebel forces, and restored the chiefs to power.

A remarkable instance of this timely aid occurred as late as 1855. Thakombau, of whom we have already heard, was in danger of losing his life and throne together through a rebellion led by a chief named Mara. Fortunately, he had previously given a magnificent canoe to the Tongan king, who sailed over, according to custom, accompanied with a large fleet, in order to receive the royal present with due honor. He instantly led his forces against the rebels, stormed a fort called Kamba which was held by them, took it, and utterly dispersed the enemy, Mara himself only escaping by running over the sharp shells of the reef, thereby nearly cutting his feet to pieces, and swimming to a neighboring town on the coast.

After this exploit, the Tongan chief followed up his blow by sailing to the island of Taviuni, where another rebellion was raging in consequence of the murder of the chief by his sons. He put an end to this rebellion also, inquired which of the murdered chief’s other sons had the best claim to his father’s rank, and installed him formally. The vanquished rebels, finding that the Tongan leader was too strong for them, tried to entrap him in an ambuscade, but only succeeded in murdering one of his chiefs. The Tongans immediately landed on the island, and avenged the death of their friends in a most terrible manner. A large party of Tongan warriors was afterward left under the command of a chief named Maafu, a relation of the king, and by means of this force the rebels were effectually suppressed.

As might be expected, the Tongans took advantage of their situation, and enacted over again the fable of the deer, the horse, and the man. Some four hundred of them generally remain in Fiji, and domineer over the natives much like armies of occupation in other countries. A Tongan warrior has not the least scruple in going to a strange village, entering the house that pleases him best, and installing himself in the best place with the simple words: “This part of the house is mine.” He takes the best of the food, and, if he builds a canoe, merely acts as foreman, making the Fijians do all the[977] hard work. There is nothing that the Tongans do, however, which so much incenses the natives as their careless habit of shaking the bread-fruit trees in order to procure the fruit, which ought always to be gathered by hand.

It is said, and perhaps with reason, that the Tongans contemplate the complete conquest of the Fijian group; and from their experience, courage, and discipline, and the fear which they have contrived to instil into the Fijians, there is little doubt that the attempt, if it were to be made, would be a successful one. The Fijian warrior fights on his own account, each man separately, while the Tongans act in unison; so that the Fijians who have fought against them compare them to the gods, against whom it is useless to struggle.

As may be gathered from these particulars, the Tongans are a superior race to the Fijian. They are, indeed, a different people altogether; the Fijians belonging to the Papuan race, whereas the Tongans belong to the Polynesian race, which does not possess the very crisp hair and rough skin of the Papuans; and, as a rule, is much lighter in skin, the complexions being often as white as that of many Europeans. They are, on the whole a singularly handsome set of people, the beauty not being limited to the men, as is the case with so many savage tribes, but possessed equally, if not to a superior extent, by the women. The portrait of a daughter of a Tongan chief, on the 973d page, will verify this statement.

The dress of both sexes is made of similar materials, but is differently arranged. The fabric is called in the Tongan language “gnatoo,” and is almost identical with the Fijian masi. It is made from the bark of the same tree, and is beaten out in very similar fashion, except perhaps that the Tongan women are more particular than those of Fiji in the care and delicacy with which they beat out the bark with their grooved mallets. The gnatoo varies somewhat in quality according to the island in which it is made, that of Vavau being considered as the finest.

In putting on the gnatoo, there is nearly as much diversity as in the arrangement of a Scotch plaid, and the mode in which it is arranged serves to denote difference of rank. The most fashionable mode, which is practised by the chiefs, is to wrap a portion of it round the loins in such a manner that the folds allow fair play to the limbs, and then to pass the remainder round the waist like a broad belt, and tuck the ends under the belt in front of the body. The portion which forms the belt is so arranged that it can be loosened at any moment and thrown over the head and shoulder. This is always done when the wearer is obliged to be abroad in the night time.

The gnatoo of the men measures about eight feet in length, by six in width. Under the gnatoo is a belt made of the same material. Women have a larger piece of gnatoo than the men, and arrange it in folds which are as graceful as those of antique art, and seem as likely to fall off the person. This, however, is never the case, and, even if the gnatoo were by any accident to slip, the women wear under it a small mat or petticoat about a foot in depth.

As this gnatoo plays so important a part in the clothing of the Polynesians, its manufacture will now be described, the account being taken from Mariner’s valuable history of the Tongans:—“A circular incision being made round the tree near the root with a shell, deep enough to penetrate the bark, the tree is broken off at that point, which its slenderness readily admits of. When a number of them are thus laid on the ground, they are left in the sun a couple of days to become partially dry, so that the inner and outer bark may be stripped off together, without danger of leaving any of the fibres behind.

“The bark is then soaked in water for a day and a night, and scraped carefully with shells for the purpose of removing the outer bark or epidermis, which is thrown away. The inner bark is then rolled up lengthwise, and soaked in water for another day. It now swells, becomes tougher, and more capable of being beaten out into a fine texture.

“Being thus far prepared, the operation of too-too, or beating commences. This part of the work is performed by means of a mallet a foot long and two inches thick, in the form of a parallelopipedon, two opposite sides being grooved horizontally to the depth and breadth of about a line, with intervals of a quarter of an inch.

“The bark, which is from two to three feet long, and one to three inches broad, is then laid on a beam of wood about six feet long and nine inches in breadth and thickness, which is supported about an inch from the ground by pieces of wood at each end, so as to allow of a certain degree of vibration. Two or three women generally sit at the same beam; each places her bark transversely upon the beam immediately before her, and while she beats with her right hand, with her left she moves it slowly to and fro, so that every part becomes beaten alike. The grooved side of the mallet is used first, and the smooth side afterward.

“They generally beat alternately, and early in the morning, when the air is calm and still, the beating of gnatoo in all the plantations has a very pleasing effect. Some sounds being near at hand, and others almost lost by the distance,—some a little more acute, and others more grave,—and all with remarkable regularity, produce a remarkable effect that is very agreeable, and not a little heightened by the singing[978] of the birds and the cheerful influence of the scene. When one hand is fatigued, the mallet is dexterously transferred to the other, without occasioning the smallest sensible delay.

“In the course of about half an hour, it is brought to a sufficient degree of thinness, being so much spread laterally as to be now nearly square when unfolded; for it must be observed that they double it several times during the process, by which means it spreads more equally and is prevented from breaking. The bark thus prepared is called fetagi, and is mostly put aside till they have a sufficient quantity to go on at a future time with the second part of the operation, which is called cocanga, or printing with coca.

“When this is to be done, a number employ themselves in gathering the berries of the toe, the pulp of which serves for paste (but the mucilaginous substance of the mahoá root is sometimes substituted for it); at the same time others are busy scraping off the soft bark of the cocoa tree and the toodi-tooi tree, either of which, when wrung out without water yields a reddish-brown juice, to be used as a dye.

“The stamp is made of the dried leaves of the paoongo sewed together so as to be of a sufficient size, and afterward embroidered, according to various devices, with the wiry fibre of the cocoa-nut husk. Making these stamps is another employment of the women, and mostly women of rank. They are generally about two feet long, and a foot and a half broad. They are tied on to the convex side of half cylinders of wood, usually about six or eight feet long, to admit two or three similar operations to go on at the same time.

“The stamp being thus fixed, with the embroidered side uppermost, a piece of the prepared bark is laid on it, and smeared over with a folded piece of gnatoo dipped in one of the reddish-brown liquids before mentioned, so that the whole surface of the prepared bark becomes stained, but particularly those parts raised by the design in the stamp. Another piece of gnatoo is now laid upon it, but not quite so broad, which adheres by virtue of the mucilaginous quality in the dye, and this in like manner is smeared over; then a third in the same way.

“The substance is now three layers in thickness. Others are then added to increase it in length and breadth by pasting the edges of these over the first, but not so as there shall be in any place more than three folds, which is easily managed, as the margin of one layer falls short of the margin of the one under it.

“During the whole process each layer is stamped separately, so that the pattern may be said to exist in the very substance of the gnatoo; and when one portion is thus printed to the size of the stamp, the material being moved farther on, the next portion, either in length or breadth, becomes stamped, the pattern beginning close to the spot where the other ended. Thus they go on printing and enlarging it to about six feet in breadth, and generally about forty or fifty yards in length. It is then carefully folded up and baked under ground, which causes the dye to become rather dark, and more firmly fixed in the fibre; beside which it deprives it of a peculiar smoky smell which belongs to the coca.

“When it has been thus exposed to heat for a few hours, it is spread out on a grass plat, or on the sand of the seashore, and the finishing operation of toogi-hea commences, i. e. staining it in certain places with the juice of the hea, which constitutes a brilliant red varnish. This is done in straight lines along those places where the edges of the printed portions join each other, and serves to conceal the little irregularities there; also in sundry other places, in the form of round spots, about an inch and a quarter in diameter. After this the gnatoo is exposed one night to the dew, and the next day, being dried in the sun, it is packed up in bales to be used when required. When gnatoo is not printed or stained, it is called tappa.”

Various ornaments are worn by both sexes among the Tongans, among which may be enumerated a kind of creeper, with flowers at intervals along the stem. This is passed round the neck or the waist, and has a singularly graceful and becoming appearance. The most valued ornament is, however, that which is made of the ivory of the whale’s teeth, so cut as to resemble in miniature the tooth itself. They are of different sizes, varying from one inch to four inches in length, and strung together by a cord passing through a hole bored in their thick ends.

These teeth are even more valued in Tonga than in Fiji, and a common man would not dare to have one in his possession, knowing well that he would assuredly lose his life on the very first occasion that offered the slightest opportunity of an accusation. Once Finow, the King of Tonga, was told of a whale which had been stranded on a little island inhabited only by a man and his wife. When Finow reached the place he found that the teeth had been removed, and ordered the man and woman into custody on the charge of stealing them. Both denied that they had more than two teeth, which they gave up, whereupon the man was immediately killed with a club, and the woman threatened with a similar fate. Under fear of this threat she produced two more teeth which she had hidden, but, refusing to acknowledge that she knew of any others, met with the same fate as her husband. Many years afterward the missing teeth were discovered, the woman having buried them in the ground. This anecdote shows the value in which whales’ teeth are held, the king taking the trouble to go in person to claim them, and the woman allowing herself to be killed rather than part with her treasures.


(See page 981.)

(See page 966.)


A good idea of the appearance of a Tongan woman of rank may be obtained from the illustration No. 1, on the preceding page, which represents the interior of a chief’s house, and part of his family.

In the foreground is one of the odd wooden pillows which are so much in vogue throughout Polynesia; while one of the most conspicuous objects is a roll of narrow matting, which is used for the purpose of surrounding men and women of high rank as they sit on the floor. Within it is seated the chief’s wife, in the graceful attitude adopted by the Tongans, exhibiting the simple and really elegant folds of the gnatoo dress. The reader will observe the apparent looseness with which the dress is put on, the folds lying so loosely that they seem ready to slip every moment. They are, however, perfectly tight, and there is not the least danger of their slipping.

Within doors the children never wear any clothing until they are two years old; but when they go out, their parents always wrap round them a piece of gnatoo or tappa. The natives are exceedingly fastidious about their dress, criticising every fold with minute care, and spending a considerable time in arranging them. Even when bathing, they always array themselves in a slight dress made for such occasions, going aside for the purpose of exchanging the usual gnatoo for an apron of leaves or matting. So disrespectful is utter nudity reckoned among the Tongans, that if a man be obliged to undress near the spot where a chief is buried, the leaf apron is worn while the dress is changed.

We now come to the various divisions of rank in Tonga, and the mode of government. Ranks may be divided into two distinct orders, namely, the religious and the civil. We must take them in this order, because among the Tongans religious takes the precedence of civil rank.

By far the greatest man in point of rank is the Tooi-tonga. This word literally signifies Chief of Tonga, and is given because the man who bears it is the greatest man in Tonga, which is the chief of the whole group of islands. The word does not represent a name, but a rank, the family name being Fatagehi, and the rank passes downward by legitimate descent. So great a man is the Tooi-tonga, that in his presence no man may stand, but is obliged to sit down in the attitude of respect. Even the king is not exempt from this law; and if he should happen to meet the Tooi-tonga, he would have to squat down humbly until the great man had passed by.

The Tooi-tonga stands alone in many particulars, and, according to our ideas, he has plenty of dignity, but very little comfort, leading a life somewhat like that of the spiritual Emperor of Japan. He has certainly one advantage over his fellows: he does not undergo the operation of tattooing, because there is no one of sufficiently high rank to draw the blood of so sacred a personage. He is married after a manner peculiar to himself, is buried in a peculiar manner, and is mourned in a peculiar manner. He is so sacred, that in speaking of him another language is used, many phrases being reserved expressly for the Tooi-tonga. These are probably relics of an ancient and nearly lost language, as is the case with the incantations of the New Zealand priests.

The reason for this extraordinary veneration is, that the Tooi-tonga is supposed to be a direct descendant of a chief god who was accustomed to visit the islands; but whether his female ancestor was a goddess or a native of earth is an open question with the Tongans. In spite of all the veneration which is shown to him, the Tooi-tonga has very little real power, and in this respect is far surpassed by the king, and equalled by many of the nobles.

There is another chief, the Veachi, who is also supposed to have a divine origin, and is therefore held in higher veneration than any of the chiefs, but is inferior to the Tooi-tonga. It is true that in his presence the king has to sit on the ground in the attitude of humility, and that he is considered a being next in rank to the great Tooi-tonga himself; but the other marks of veneration, such as a separate language, and different modes of marriage, burial, and mourning, are not paid to him; and in power he is equalled by many of the chiefs.

Next in rank, but at a very great distance, come the priests. These men receive their name from their capability of being inspired by certain gods, and, except when actually inspired, have no special rank, and are paid no honor except such as may belong to them as private individuals. Mariner remarks that he never knew a case in which a priest was a chief. The king occasionally becomes inspired, because there is one god who cannot speak except by the royal mouth; but the king is not, in consequence, considered as a priest. Neither are the Tooi-tonga and Veachi considered as priests, nor is there any connexion between them and the priesthood.

Should, in an assembly, a priest become inspired, he is immediately held in the highest veneration as long as the inspiration lasts, because a god is supposed to be speaking through his lips. If, on such an occasion, the king should be present, he immediately leaves his place, and sits humbly[982] among the spectators. Even the great Tooi-tonga himself acts in the same manner, and, though the descendant of a god, he retires before the actual presence of a divinity.

So much for the spiritual rank, and we now pass to the temporal rank.

The highest man in a secular point of view is the How, or king, who is the most powerful of all the chiefs, and yet may be in point of rank inferior to the poorest of his nobles, or Egis. Rank is measured in Tonga by relationship to the Tooi-tonga or Veachi, the relatives of the former being held superior to those of the latter. The consequence is, that the king may meet a poor man who has scarcely any power, and yet who is so high in rank above the king that the latter must sit down till his superior has passed. Should he not do so, or should he by any accident touch anything that belonged to his superior, the tapu would assume its sway, and he would not be permitted to feed himself with his own hands until he had gone to his superior, and saluted him by touching his feet.

In consequence of these customs, the king avoids associating with nobles who are his superior in rank, and they in their turn keep out of his way as far as possible, so as not to humiliate him by making him sit while they stand. Originally, the king was a descendant of the Tooi-tonga, and thus was equally high in spiritual and temporal rank. But when the throne was usurped by other families, the king still retained the temporal power, though he yielded in spiritual rank to others.

Next to the king come the Egis, or nobles. These are all relations of the Tooi-tonga, the Veachi, or the king, kinship to the king being held as conferring rank because he holds the reins of power. Rank descends in Tonga, as in other Polynesian islands, through the female line, so that all the children of an Egi woman possess the rank of Egi, no matter who may be the father.

After the nobles come the Matabooles, or councillors, who are the companions and advisers of the chiefs, and take their rank from that of the chief to whom they are attached. They are always the heads of families, and are mostly men of mature age and experience, so that their advice is highly valued. The eldest son of a Mataboole is carefully trained to take his father’s place when he dies, and is thoroughly versed in all the rites and ceremonies, the administration of laws, and the many points of etiquette about which the Tongans are so fastidious. He also learns all the traditionary records of his people, and by the time that he is thirty years old or so is perfectly acquainted with his profession. But until his father dies he has no rank, and is merely one of the ordinary gentry, who will now be described.

Last of all those who possess any rank are the gentry, or Mooas. All the sons of Matabooles are Mooas, and act as assistants of the Matabooles, aiding on great ceremonies in managing the dances, distributing food, and so forth. Like their superiors, they attach themselves to the service of some chief, and derive their relative consequence from his rank. As a rule, the Mooas all profess some art, such as canoe building, ivory carving, and superintending funeral rites, in which three occupations the Matabooles also take part. They also preside over the makers of stone coffins, the makers of nets, the fishermen, and the architects, and all these employments are hereditary.

Just as the children and brothers of Matabooles take the next lowest rank, that of Mooa, so do those of Mooas take the next lowest rank, and are considered as Tooas, or plebeians. In this case, however, the eldest son of a Mooa assumes the rank of his father after his death, and is therefore more respected than his brothers, who are regarded like younger sons among ourselves. The Tooas do all the menial work, and act as cooks, barbers, tattooers, club-carvers, and so forth. The two latter occupations, however, as requiring artistic skill, are also practised by Mooas.

It will be seen from this brief sketch how elaborate, and yet how intelligible, is this system of the Tongans, even when complicated with the double grades of spiritual and temporal rank. This respect for rank is carried even into the privacy of home. If, for example, an Egi woman marries a Mataboole, or a Mooa, she retains her original rank, which is shared by all her children, so that both she and her children are superior to the husband and father. He, on his part, has to play a double rôle. He is master in his own house, and his wife submits to him as implicitly as if he were of the same rank as herself. Yet he acknowledges the superior rank both of his wife and children, and, before he even ventures to feed himself with his own hands, he goes through the ceremony of touching the feet of his wife or either of his children, in order to free himself from the tapu.

When the case is reversed, and a man of high rank marries a woman of an inferior station, she does not rise to the rank of her husband, but retains her original station, which is inherited by her children, who, together with herself, have to touch the feet of the husband whenever they eat. They imagine that if they did not do so a terrible sickness would consume them. When Mariner lived among the Tongans, he did not trouble himself about the tapu, much to the horror of the natives, who expected that the offended gods would wreak their vengeance on him. Finding that he suffered no harm, they accounted for the phenomenon by the fact that he was a white man, and therefore[983] had nothing to do with the gods of the Tongans.

In consequence of the strictness of this system, Finow, who was king when Mariner lived among the Tongan islands, used to feel annoyed if even a child of superior rank were brought near him, and used angrily to order it to be taken away. Such conduct, however, would not be thought right unless both parties were nearly equal in rank; and if, for example, the Tooi-tonga’s child had been brought near the king, he would at once have done homage after the customary fashion.

Some very curious modifications of this custom prevail throughout Tongan society. For example, any one may choose a foster-mother, even though his own mother be alive, and he may choose her from any rank. Generally her rank is inferior to that of her adopted son, but even this connection between them does not earn for her any particular respect. She would be much more honored as an attendant of a young chief than as his foster-mother.

So elaborate and yet simple a system implies a degree of refinement which we could hardly expect among savages. In consonance with this refinement is the treatment of women, who are by no means oppressed and hard-worked slaves, as is the case with most savage nations. Consequently the women possess a gentle freedom of demeanor and grace of form which are never found among those people where women are merely the drudges of the men. So long ago as 1777, Captain Cook noticed that the women were much more delicately formed than the men, that they were beautifully proportioned, and that the hands were so small and soft that they would compare favorably with the finest examples in Europe and America. Hard and constant labor, such as is usually the lot of savage women, deteriorates the form greatly, as indeed we can see among ourselves, by comparing together a high-bred lady and a field laborer. The two hardly seem to belong to the same race, or scarcely to the same sex.

The Tongan women certainly do work, but they are not condemned to do it all, the men taking the hard labor on themselves, and leaving the women the lighter tasks, such as beating gnatoo, plaiting baskets, making crockery, and the like. At the great dances, the women are not only allowed to be present, but assist in them, taking as important a share as the men, and infusing into the dance a really cultivated grace which would not exist without them.

The light-colored hue of the skin, which has already been mentioned, is much more common among the women than the men, for the reason that the better class of women take more care of themselves than the men; and, though all classes live for the most part in the open air, the wives and daughters of powerful and wealthy men are careful not to expose themselves to the sun more than is absolutely necessary, so that many of them, instead of being brown, are of a clear olive tint, the effect of which is singularly beautiful when contrasted with their dark clustering hair, their gnatoo garments, and the leaves and flowers with which they adorn themselves, changing them several times daily. Altogether, a Tongan chief looks, and is, a gentleman, and his wife a lady.




By nature the Tongans are gentle and kind-hearted, and present a most curious mixture of mildness and courage. To judge by many traits of character, they might be stigmatized as effeminate, while by others they are shown to possess real courage, not merely the dashing and boastful bravery which is, when analyzed, merely bravado, and which is only maintained by the hope of gaining applause. The Tongan never boasts of his own courage, nor applauds that of another. When he has performed a deed of arms which would set a Fijian boasting for the rest of his life, he retires quietly into the background and says nothing about it. His king or chief may acknowledge it if they like, but he will be silent on the subject, and never refer to it.

For the same reason, he will not openly applaud a deed of arms done by one of his fellows. He will regard the man with great respect, and show by his demeanor the honor in which he holds him, but he will not speak openly on the subject. Mariner relates an instance in which a young warrior named Hali Api Api, who seems to have been the very model of a gentleman, performed a notable deed of arms, equally remarkable for courage and high-minded generosity. During a council, the king called him out, and publicly thanked him for his conduct. The man blushed deeply, as if ashamed at this public recognition of his services, saluted the king, and retired to his place without saying a word. Neither did he afterward refer either to his exploit or to the public recognition of it.

One warrior actually declared that he would go up to a loaded cannon and throw his spear into it. He fulfilled his promise to the letter. He ran up within ten or twelve yards of the gun, and, as the match was applied, threw himself on the ground, so that the shot passed over him. He then sprang up, and, in spite of the enemy’s weapons, hurled his spear at the cannon, and struck it in the muzzle. Having performed this feat, he quietly retired, and was never heard to refer to so distinguished an act of courage, though he was greatly respected for it by his countrymen.

We need not wonder that such men should establish a moral influence over the boastful but not warlike Fijians, and that the small colony established in the Fiji group should virtually be its masters. Two hundred years ago, the Tongan appears to have been ignorant of weapons and warfare, and to have borrowed his first knowledge of both from Fiji. Consequently, the Tongan weapons are practically those of Fiji, modified somewhat according to the taste of the makers but evidently derived from the same source. Captain Cook, who visited the islands in 1777, remarks that the few clubs and spears which he saw among the Tongans were of Fiji manufacture, or at least made after the Fiji pattern. Yet by a sort of[985] poetical justice, the Tongan has turned the Fijian’s weapons against himself, and, by his superior intellect and adventurous courage, has overcome the ferocious people of whom he was formerly in dread.

Since the introduction of fire-arms, the superiority of the Tongans has made itself even more manifest, the Fijians having no idea of fighting against men who did not run away when fired at, but rushed on in spite of the weapons opposed to them.

It is possible that the Tongans may have learned this mode of fighting from Mariner and his companions. When the king Finow was about to make war upon a neighboring island, he assembled the warriors and made them an address, telling them that the system of warfare which had been previously employed was a false one. He told them no longer to advance or retreat according as they met with success or repulse, but to press forward at all risks; and, even if a man saw the point of a spear at his breast, he was not to flinch like a coward, but to press forward, and at risk of his own life to kill his foe. He also instructed them in the art of receiving the onset of the enemy with calmness, instead of indulging in cries and gesticulations, telling them to seat themselves on the ground as the enemy approached, as if perfectly unconcerned, and not to stir until ordered, even if they threw spears or shot arrows. But as soon as they got the word to advance they were to leap to their feet, and charge without regard to consequences. The reader may remember that this is exactly the strategy which was employed in Africa by the great Kaffir chief Tchaka.

It may easily be imagined how such a course of conduct would disconcert their opponents, and the Fijians in particular, with whom boasting and challenging took the place of valor. Emboldened by the apparent weakness of the enemy, they would come on in great glee, expecting to make an easy conquest, and then, just when they raised the shout of victory, they found themselves suddenly attacked with a disciplined fury which they had never been accustomed to meet, and were consequently dispersed and almost annihilated before they could well realize their position.

Though tolerably mild toward their captives, the Tongans sometimes display an unexpected ferocity. On one occasion, some of Finow’s men surprised and captured four of the enemy, whom they imagined to belong to a party who had annoyed them greatly by hanging on their track and cutting off the stragglers.

At first they wished to take the prisoners home and make an example of them, but the chief of the party suggested that they would have all the trouble of guarding them, and proposed to decapitate them, and take their heads home. One of them objected to the proposal on the ground that they had no knives, but another man, fertile in expedients, picked up some oyster-shells that were lying about, and suggested that they would answer the purpose.

It was in vain that the victims protested their innocence, and begged that at least they might be clubbed before their heads were cut off. The conquerors coolly took off their dresses to prevent them being stained with blood, and deliberately sawed off the heads of the captives with their oyster-shells; beginning at the back of the neck, and working their way gradually round. The reason for this course of action seemed to be twofold—first, that they thought they might spoil the heads by the club; and secondly, that as the heads must be cut off at all events, clubbing the captives beforehand was taking needless trouble.

Indeed, the character of the Tongan presents a curious mixture of mildness and cruelty, the latter being probably as much due to thoughtlessness as to ferocity. Once when eighteen rebels had been captured, Finow ordered them to be drowned. This punishment is inflicted by taking the prisoners out to sea, bound hand and foot, and towing some worthless canoes. When they are far enough from land, the culprits are transferred to the canoes, which are then scuttled, and left to sink. Care is taken that the holes made in the canoes are small, so that they shall be as long as possible in sinking.

On that occasion twelve of the prisoners begged to be clubbed instead of drowned, and their request was granted. The young men divided the prisoners among themselves, being anxious to take a lesson in clubbing a human being, which would serve them when they came to make use of the club against an enemy. The twelve were, accordingly, despatched with the club, but the others, being tried warriors, scorned to ask a favor, and were drowned. The leading chief among them employed the short time which was left him in uttering maledictions against Finow and his chiefs, and even when the water came up to his mouth, he threw back his head for the purpose of uttering another curse.

We will now pass to a more pleasant subject, namely, the various ceremonies in which the Tongan delights. Chief among these is the drinking of kava, which forms an important part of every public religious rite, and is often practised in private. Kava drinking is known throughout the greater part of Polynesia; but as the best and fullest account of it has been obtained from Mariner’s residence in Tonga, a description of it has been reserved for the present occasion. It must first be premised that the kava is made from the root of a tree belonging to the pepper tribe, and known by the name of[986] Piper methysticum, i. e. the intoxicating pepper-tree. Disgusting as the preparation of the kava may be to Europeans, it is held in such high estimation by the Polynesians that it is never made or drunk without a complicated ceremony, which is the same whether the party be a large or a small one.

The people being assembled, the man of highest rank takes his place under the eaves of the house, sitting with his back to the house and his face toward the marly, or open space in front, and having a Mataboole on either side of him. Next to these Matabooles, who undertake the arrangement of the festival, sit the nobles or chiefs of highest rank, and next to them the lower chiefs, and so forth. They are not, however, very particular about the precise order in which they sit, distinctions of rank being marked by the order in which they are served.

This is the business of the presiding Matabooles, and as the distinctions of rank are most tenaciously observed, it is evident that the duties of a Mataboole are of a most difficult nature, and can only be learned by long and constant practice. If the men sat according to their rank, nothing would be easier than the task of serving them in order. But it often happens that a man of high rank happens to come late, and, as he is too polite to disturb those of lower rank who have already taken their places, he sits below them, knowing that his rank will be recognized at the proper time.

It mostly happens, however, that when one of the presiding Matabooles sees a man occupying a place much below that to which his rank entitles him, he makes some one surrender his place to him, or even turns out altogether a man who is seated in a high place, and puts the chief into it. The people thus gradually extend themselves into a ring, sometimes single, but often several ranks deep when the party is a large one, every one of the members being a man of some recognized rank. Behind those who form the bottom of the ring opposite the presiding chief, sit the general public, who may be several thousand in number. It is a remarkable fact, illustrating the rigid code of etiquette which prevails among the Tongans, that no one can sit in the inner ring if a superior relative be also in it; and, no matter how high may be his rank, he must leave his place, and sit in the outer circle, if his father or any superior relative enters the inner ring.

This ring, which constitutes the essential kava party, is formed mostly of the sons of chiefs and Matabooles, and it often happens that their fathers, even if they be chiefs of the highest rank, will sit in the outer ring, rather than disturb its arrangements. Even the son of the king often adopts this plan, and assists in preparing the kava like any of the other young men.

Exactly opposite to the king is placed the kava bowl, and behind it sits the man who is to prepare the drink. On either side of him sits an assistant, one of whom carries a fan wherewith to drive away the flies, and another takes charge of the water, which is kept in cocoa-nut shells. The rank of the preparer is of no consequence. Sometimes he is a Mooa or gentleman, and sometimes a mere cook; but, whoever he may be, he is known to be able to perform his difficult task with sufficient strength and elegance.

All being ready, one of the presiding Matabooles sends for the kava root, which is then scraped quite clean and cut up into small pieces. These are handed to the young men or even to the young women present, who masticate the root, contriving in some ingenious way to keep it quite dry during the process. It is then wrapped in a leaf, and passed to the preparer, who places it in the bowl, carefully lining the interior with the balls of chewed root, so that the exact quantity can be seen.

When all the kava has been chewed and deposited, the preparer tilts the bowl toward the presiding chief, who consults with his Matabooles, and if he thinks there is not enough, orders the bowl to be covered over, and sends for more kava, which is treated as before. Should he be satisfied, the preparer kneads all the kava together, and the Mataboole then calls for water, which is poured into the bowl until he orders the man to stop. Next comes the order to put in the fow. This is a bundle of very narrow strips of bark of a tree belonging to the genus hibiscus, and it has been compared to the willow shavings that are used in England to decorate fire-places in the summer time. The assistant takes a quantity of this material, and lays it on the water, spreading it carefully, so that it lies equally on the surface of the liquid. Now begins the important part of the proceeding which tests the power of the preparer.

“In the first place, he extends his left hand to the farther side of the bowl, with his fingers pointing downward and the palm toward himself; he sinks that hand carefully down the side of the bowl, carrying with it the edge of the fow; at the same time his right hand is performing a similar operation at the side next to him, the fingers pointing downward and the palm presenting outward. He does this slowly from side to side, gradually descending deeper and deeper till his fingers meet each other at the bottom, so that nearly the whole of the fibres of the root are by these means enclosed in the fow, forming as it were a roll of above two feet in length lying along the bottom from side to side, the edges of the fow meeting each other underneath.


(See page 989.)


“He now carefully rolls it over, so that the edges overlapping each other, or rather intermingling, come uppermost. He next doubles in the two ends and rolls it carefully over again, endeavoring to reduce it to a narrower and firmer compass. He now brings it cautiously out of the fluid, taking firm hold of it by the two ends, one in each hand (the back of his hands being upward), and raising it breast high with his arms considerably extended, he brings his right hand toward his breast, moving it gradually onward; and whilst his left hand is coming round toward his right shoulder, his right hand partially twisting the fow, lays the end which it holds upon the left elbow, so that the fow lies thus extended upon that arm, one end being still grasped by the left hand.

“The right hand being at liberty is brought under the left fore-arm (which still remains in the same situation), and carried outwardly toward the left elbow, that it may again seize in that situation the end of the fow. The right hand then describes a bold curve outwardly from the chest, whilst the left comes across the chest, describing a curve nearer to him and in the opposite direction, till at length the left hand is extended from him and the right hand approaches to the left shoulder, gradually twisting the fow by the turn and flexures principally of that wrist: this double motion is then retraced, but in such a way (the left wrist now principally acting) that the fow, instead of being untwisted, is still more twisted, and is at length again placed on the left arm, while he takes a new and less constrained hold.

“Thus the hands and arms perform a variety of curves of the most graceful description: the muscles both of the arms and chest are seen rising as they are called into action, displaying what would be a fine and uncommon subject of study for the painter: for no combinations of animal action can develop the swell and play of the muscles with more grace and better effect.

“The degree of strength which he exerts when there is a large quantity is very great, and the dexterity with which he accomplishes the whole never fails to excite the attention and admiration of all present. Every tongue is mute, and every eye is upon him, watching each motion of his arms as they describe the various curvilinear lines essential to the success of the operation. Sometimes the fibres of the fow are heard to crack with the increasing tension, yet the mass is seen whole and entire, becoming more thin as it becomes more twisted, while the infusion drains from it in a regularly decreasing quantity till at length it denies a single drop.”

The illustration on the preceding page represents this portion of the ceremony. On the right hand is seen the presiding chief seated under the eaves of the house, with a Mataboole on either side of him, and just beyond him extends a portion of the inner ring. In front of the chief sits the performer, who is wringing out the kava, and is just about to change the grasp of his right hand, according to Mariner’s description. On either side sit his assistants, both of whom are engaged in fanning away the flies.

Near them lie the cocoa-nut shells from which the water has been poured. Beyond the inner ring are seen the outer rings and the general population, who have come to witness the ceremony and get their chance of a stray cup of kava or some food.

When the fow ceases to give out any more fluid, a second and third are used in the same manner, so that not a particle of the root remains in the liquid. Should more fow or water be wanted, an order is given, and twenty or thirty men rush off for it, going and returning at full speed, as if running for their lives; and anything else that may be wanted is fetched in the same manner.

While the operator is going through his task, those who are in the outer circle and cannot properly see him occupy themselves in making cups from which the kava can be drunk. These cups are made of the unexpanded leaves of the banana tree, cut up into squares of about nine inches across. The cups are made in a most ingenious manner by plaiting up the two ends and tying them with a fibre drawn from the stem of the leaf. The Mataboole then orders provisions to be served out, which is done in an orderly manner. To the general assembly this is the most interesting part of the ceremony, for they have but little chance of getting any kava, and it is very likely that they will have a share of food, as the regular kava drinkers never eat more than a morsel or two at these entertainments.

The operator having done his part, now comes the test of the Mataboole’s efficiency. The kava is to be distributed in precisely the proper order, a slip in this respect being sure to give deep offence. Should a visitor of rank be present, he gets the first cup, the presiding Mataboole the second, and the presiding chief the third. If, however, the kava be given by one of the guests, the donor always has the first cup, unless there should be a visitor of superior rank to himself, in which case the donor is ignored altogether, only having the kava according to his rank. No person is allowed to have two cups from the same bowl, but after all the inner circle and their relatives are served, the remainder is given out to the people as far as it will go, and a second bowl is prepared. It will be seen that, if the preparer be a man of low rank, he stands a chance of never tasting the liquid which he has so skilfully prepared.

The second bowl is prepared in precisely the same way as the first, except that the second presiding Mataboole gives the orders;[990] and, if a third or fourth bowl be ordered, they take the direction alternately. When the second bowl is prepared, the cups are filled and handed round in exactly the same order as before, so that those of high rank get three or four cups, and those of lower rank only one, or perhaps none at all.

It is a point of etiquette that no chief ever visits the kava party of an inferior chief, as in that case the latter would be obliged to retire from the presidency and sit in the outer ring. When the Tooi-tonga presides, no one presumes to sit within six feet of him; and if perchance an inspired priest be present, he takes the presidency, and the greatest chief, or even the king himself, is obliged to retire into the outer ring on such occasions. A priest always presides at religious ceremonies, and the kava party is held in front of the temple dedicated to the particular god which they are about to consult. But in some cases a god has no priest, and in those cases he is supposed to preside in person, though invisibly, the president’s place being left vacant for him.

The reader will see from the foregoing account that kava is a luxury practically confined to the higher classes. The great chiefs and Matabooles drink it every day, either as presidents or members of the inner ring. Those of lower rank obtain it occasionally; while the Tooas seldom taste this luxury, except by taking the kava after it has been wrung by the operator, and preparing it afresh.

As the reader will see, it is impossible to separate the secular and religious life of the Tongans. They are inextricably woven together, and therefore must be described together. There are a vast number of ceremonies in which these two elements are united, one or two of which will be described, by way of sample of the rest. The first is the festival of Ináchi, a feast of firstfruits, a ceremony which in principle is found throughout the whole earth, though the details necessarily differ. In the present case, the offering is made to the Tooi-tonga, as being at once the descendant and representative of the gods.

About the latter end of July the ordinary yams are planted in the ground; but those which are intended for the feast of Ináchi are of a different kind, coming to maturity earlier, and are planted about a month sooner. In an illustration on the next page we may see how the yams are set in the ground, and may get a good idea of a Tongan plantation. In the centre of the foreground is the chief to whom the plantation belongs, accompanied by his little boy. As is usual with men of rank in Tonga, he bears in his hand a short, many-barbed spear, which may either be used as a walking staff or as a weapon. The former is its normal use, but the chiefs sometimes find the advantage of having with them a serviceable weapon. The point of the spear is frequently armed with the barbed tail-bone of the sting-ray. When Finow captured by craft the rebel chief whose death by drowning has already been described, his chief difficulty was the bone-tipped spear which the chief always carried with him, and of which he was temporarily deprived by a stratagem.

One of his laborers is talking to him, having in his hand the hoe with which he has been making holes in the ground for the reception of the yams. Behind him are more laborers, employed in cutting the yams in pieces, and planting them in the holes. Just beyond the yam plantation is a piece of ground stocked with sugar-canes; and beyond the sugar-canes is the house of the chief, known by the superiority of its architecture. The house is built near the sea-shore, and close to the beach a canoe is seen hauled up on its support.

The greater part of the illustration is occupied with the ingenious spiked fence within which the storehouses and dwellings for the Tooas, or peasants, are placed. As may be seen, it has no doors, but at intervals the fence is only half the usual height and without spikes, and is crossed by means of stiles, two of which are given in the illustration, one to show the exterior and the other the interior of the fence. Close to the further stile is a young tree, surrounded with a fencing to the height of several feet, in order to guard it, while growing, from the attacks of pigs and children.

The open shed is one of the peasants’ houses, under which are seated a number of women, employed in making mats; while some children are playing and fowls feeding by them. Toward the further end of the enclosure is shown one of the storehouses.

As soon as the yams are ripe, the king sends a message to the Tooi-tonga, asking him to fix a day for the ceremony, which is generally settled to be on the tenth day after the request is made, so that time may be given for notice to be sent to all the islands. The day before the ceremony of Ináchi, the yams are dug up and ornamented with scarlet streamers made of the inner membrane of the pandanus leaf. These are in long and narrow strips, and are woven spirally over the yams, first in one direction and then the other, so as to produce a neat checkered pattern, and having the ends hanging loose.

All through the night is heard the sound of the conch shell, and until midnight the men and women answered each other in a song, the men singing, “Rest, doing no work,” and the women responding, “Thou shalt not work.” About midnight the song ceases; but it is resumed at daybreak, and continues until about eight A. M., accompanied with plenty of conch blowing. The prohibition of work is so imperative, that the people are not even allowed to leave their houses, except for the purpose of assisting in the ceremony.


(See page 990.)

(See page 993.)


At eight A. M. the ceremony of Ináchi really begins, the people crowding from different parts of the Tooi-tonga’s island toward the capital town, and canoes approaching in all directions from other islands. All are in their very best, with new clothes and ribbons; while the men carry their most beautiful spears and clubs. Each party carries the yams in baskets, which are taken to the marly, or large central space of the village, and there laid down with great ceremony. In the marly are ready laid a number of poles, eight or nine feet in length, and four inches in diameter, and upon them the men sling the yams, only one yam being hung to the middle of each pole.

Meanwhile the great chiefs and Matabooles have gone to the grave of the last Tooi-tonga, should it happen to be on the island, or, should he have been buried on another island, the grave of any of his family answers the purpose. They sit there in a semicircle before the grave, their heads bowed and their hands clasped, waiting for the procession, which presently arrives.

First come two boys blowing conch shells, and advancing with a slow and solemn step; and behind them come a vast number of men with the yams. Each pole is carried by two men, one at each end, and, as they walk, they sink at every step, as if overcome with the weight of their burden. This is to signify that the yams are of such a size that the bearers can hardly carry them, and is a sort of symbolized thanksgiving to the gods for so fine a prospect of harvest. As the men come to the grave, they lay the poles and yams on it, and seat themselves in order before the grave, so that they form a line between the chiefs and the yams.

This part of the ceremony is shown in the lower illustration, on the 991st page. In the foreground are seated the chiefs and Matabooles, with their clubs and spears, while the procession of pole bearers is seen winding along from the far distance. Two of them have already laid their yams and poles before the grave, and have seated themselves between the grave and the circle of chiefs, while others are just depositing their burdens on the same sacred spot. Standing by them are the two boys who headed the procession, still blowing busily at their conch-shell trumpets. In the distance, and on the left hand of the illustration, may be seen the people seated in numbers on the ground.

One of the Tooi-tonga’s Matabooles then sits between the pole bearers and the grave and makes an oration, in which he gives thanks to the gods for their bounty, and asks for a continuance of it to their offspring, the Tooi-tonga. He then retires to his former place, the men take up their poles, and after marching several times round the grave, they return to the marly and again deposit their loads, this time untying the yams from the poles, but leaving the colored streamers upon them.

Here the whole of the people seat themselves in a large circle, at which the Tooi-tonga presides, even the king himself retiring, and sitting in the back ranks. Next the remainder of the offerings are brought forward, consisting of mats, gnatoo, dried fish, and various kinds of food. These are divided by one of the Tooi-tonga’s Matabooles into four equal parts. One of these goes to the gods, and is at once taken away by the servants of the different priests, and the remainder is shared by the Tooi-tonga and the king, the latter, although of inferior rank, getting the larger portion, because he has four times as many dependents to feed. The proceedings are wound up with the kava drinking, which always accompanies such ceremonies. While the infusion is being prepared, the presiding Mataboole makes a speech to the people, explaining the right that has just been concluded, and advising them to pay due honor to the gods and their representative the Tooi-tonga.

When this great potentate dies, there is a most extravagant feast, which often reduces the people to a state of semi-starvation for a long time, and sometimes threatens an actual famine. In such a case, the tapu is laid upon hogs, cocoa-nuts, and fowls for seven or eight months, or even longer, during which time none but the great chiefs are allowed to touch them. Two or three plantations are always exempted, so that there may be a supply for the great chiefs and for the various religious ceremonies. At the expiration of the stated period, if the crops look well, and the pigs and fowls have increased in due proportion, the tapu is taken off with very great ceremony.

One of these ceremonies was seen by Mariner at the Hapai Islands, and a very strange rite it turned out to be. It was held on two marlies, one belonging to the Tooi-tonga and the other to the king. As if to compensate for the limited diet of the previous month, food was piled in abundance. On the Tooi-tonga’s marly were erected four square hollow pillars, about four feet in diameter, and made of four poles connected with matting. These were about fifty or sixty feet in height, and each of them was crowned with a baked hog.

The king’s marly, which was about a quarter of a mile from the other, was equally well supplied with food, only in this case the yams were placed in wooden cars or sledges, and nearly four hundred half-baked hogs were laid on the ground. The king having arrived, and the signal given for beginning the proceedings, the young chiefs and warriors tried successively to lift the largest[994] hog, and at last, when all had failed, it was lifted by two men and taken to the other marly. “In the meantime the trial was going on with the second hog, which, being also found too heavy for one man, was carried away by two in like manner, and so on with the third, fourth, &c., the largest being carried away first, and the least last.

“The second, third, fourth, &c., afforded more sport than the others, as being a nearer counterbalance with a man’s strength. Sometimes he had got it neatly upon his shoulder, when his greasy burden slipped through his arms, and, in his endeavor to save it, brought him down after it. It is an honor to attempt these things, and even the king sometimes puts his hand to it.”

The next part of the proceedings was the carrying twenty of the largest hogs to the late Tooi-tonga’s grave, and leaving them there, while the rest, together with the other provisions, were shared among the chiefs, who in their turn distributed them to their followers, until every man in the island gets a piece of pork and yam. The four great columns of yams were given, one to the king, another to the Tooi-tonga, the third to the Veachi and one or two of the very great chiefs, and the fourth to the gods. The Tooi-tonga also took the cars of yams as a matter of tacit though unacknowledged right. Kava drinking, dancing, and wrestling concluded the ceremony; and as soon as the circle broke up, the tapu was considered as annulled.

The twenty large hogs which were laid on the grave were left there for several days; but as soon as they showed signs of putridity, they were cut up, and divided among all who chose to apply for a share of the meat. By right they belonged to the chiefs, but as they were able to procure fresh pork for themselves, they preferred to forego their right, and divide the tainted meat among the people.

The ceremony of Mo’ee-mo’ee, or taking off the tapu contracted by touching a chief, has already been mentioned. The tapu is even contracted by eating in the presence of a superior relation; but there is a conventional way of getting rid of this tapu by simply turning the back upon the superior, who is then considered as not being ceremonially in the presence of the inferior. Should a man think that he may have contracted the tapu unwittingly, he will not dare to feed himself until he has gone to some chief, whose foot he takes and presses it against his stomach. This rite is called the Fota, or pressing. Any chief can take away the tapu contracted by touching an equal or inferior, but has no power over that of a superior. Consequently, no one but himself can take away the Tooi-tonga’s tapu; and this proved so inconvenient that whenever the potentate went from his house, he left behind him a consecrated bowl as his representative, and this was held to be equally powerful in removing the tapu. The Veachi adopted a similar plan. It is a remarkable fact that kava is exempt from all tapu, so that if even the Tooi-tonga has touched a piece of kava root, the lowest cook may chew it.

There is a ceremony which in principle somewhat resembles that of Ináchi, though it is conducted after a very different manner. Just as the Ináchi is an offering to the gods in general through the Tooi-tonga, so is this ceremony, which is called the Tow-tow, a special thanksgiving to Alo-Alo, the god of weather. It is begun in the early part of November, when the yams are ripe, and is continued for some three months, at intervals of eight or ten days.

All the islands of Tonga are divided into three distinct portions, namely, the northern division, or Hahagi, the southern division, or Hihifo, and the middle division, or Mooa. Each of these divisions has orders to prepare a certain amount of food, such as yams, cocoa-nuts, and the like, and to bring them to the marly. The correct mode of doing so is to bring them on sticks, so that each stick has upon it seven or eight yams, or a bunch of plantains, or a quantity of bananas. If sugar-canes form part of the offering, they are tied in bundles of three or four in each: and all the offerings, no matter what they may be, are piled up in three great heaps, one being erected by the people of each district.

This being done, and a few preliminary matches of boxing and wrestling played, after about three hours a small procession appears, composed of eight or ten men sent by the priest of Alo-Alo, and accompanied by a young girl about eight or nine years old, who represents the god’s wife. She is always the daughter of a chief, and generally of one of the highest chiefs, and, during the eighty days of the ceremony, she resides at the temple of Alo-Alo. She has nothing particular to do, except presiding at one or two feasts and kava parties.

The men are all dressed in mats, and have green leaves tied round their necks. This is the dress of humility and sorrow, and is employed in times of mourning for the dead and supplication for mercy. When they have arrived, they seat themselves in a line, having in front of them a great drum, which is kept for this special purpose. They then offer their prayers to Alo-Alo, begging for propitious weather and good crops, and after these prayers are concluded two of the piles of provisions are carried off by the chiefs, and the third is set aside for the gods. Suddenly the great drum is beaten, on which a general dash is made at the pile of food, every one scrambling for the provisions, and getting as much as he can. There is not the least order in the scramble, and the[995] scene is a most exciting one, the yams being torn from the sticks, and the sticks smashed to pieces, while the sugar-canes are broken up into fragments. Thus the gods are fed vicariously.

The women keep prudently out of the way during this struggle, and stand aside to watch the chief and concluding ceremony. This is nothing more than a general fight. The inhabitants of the island arrange themselves in two divisions, one half fighting against the other. All engage in this battle, the highest chiefs as well as the lowest cooks taking part in it. There is no respect of persons, the king, or even the Tooi-tonga himself, being assaulted without compunction, and handled as roughly as any of the common people.

Severe as is the fighting, it is all conducted with the greatest good humor, and no one displays a sign of ill-temper at the injury which he receives. If a man is knocked down, he gets up with a smile; if his arm is broken, he retires from the battle and has it set, but he never thinks of complaining. The same system is observed in the boxing and wrestling matches of which the Tongans are so fond.

In wrestling matches, for example, it is not thought polite for any one man to challenge another; he ought to give a general challenge, by striking with the right hand the bent elbow of the opposite arm. If the challenge be accepted, the antagonists meet very leisurely, and take care to fasten tightly the gnatoo belt that surrounds the waist. They grasp the belt with a hand on each side, and endeavor to throw their antagonist by lifting him from the ground and flinging him on his back. The vanquished man rises and retires to his place among the spectators without showing any displeasure. Only in one case did Mariner know a man display ill-feeling at being beaten, and in that instance the man, although a chief, was looked upon as an ill-bred fellow.

The victor seats himself on the ground for a few seconds, and then retires to his place, his friends belonging to his own side singing, or rather chanting, a song of victory. After a short time he again rises and offers another challenge, and if it be accepted by several antagonists, he may select one from them. If they find that they are equally matched, they leave off by mutual consent; and sometimes, if a man encounters a chief much superior to him, he will generally yield out of respect to the other’s rank. This only takes place in single combat, not in the general fight of the Tow-tow festival.

Boxing is conducted on similar principles of fair play. The challenger proceeds into the middle of the ring, holding one arm stretched out in front and the other behind, and advances sideways, changing sides at every step. When the challenge is accepted, both combatants wrap a piece of cord round their hands and proceed to blows, which are given with great force and rapidity. When one is vanquished, he retires with apparent unconcern to the ring, and sits to watch the combats of others, knowing that to be vanquished is not considered a disgrace. When the victor returns to his people, they welcome him, but do not sing the chant of victory unless he has knocked his antagonist down. Falling is on these occasions considered as equivalent to being killed in real battle, and, in consequence, the song of victory is not sung unless the antagonist has fallen to the ground. If a man be beaten in wrestling, he may not wrestle a second time in the same day, though he may box, and vice versâ.

In the ceremony of Tow-tow, these scrambling, boxing, and wrestling matches are carried on every tenth day, and are repeated eight times, so as to make up the eighty days of the festival. After each battle, those who have touched a superior chief come to be relieved of the tapu which they have contracted by touching him. Even the Tooi-tonga, whose nose has been flattened, his teeth knocked out, and his face pounded to a jelly by a mere peasant, over whom he has supreme command of life and death, performs the needful ceremony with perfect good humor.

The illustration No. 1, on the 999th page, represents the concluding scene of this ceremony. In the foreground are seen the two contending parties, one of which is beginning to get the victory over the other. In the centre of the illustration, and on the left, are the fragments of the food-piles, with a few men still scrambling for them, and in the distance the women are seated under the trees, watching the progress of the fight.

Fighting is not confined to the men, but is practised also by the women, who on this occasion lay aside the ordinary gentleness and mildness for which they are remarkable. When Captain Cook visited Tonga, he was much surprised to see the girls step into the ring and box with as much spirit and determination as had been shown by the men. They do not, however, carry the combat to such extremes, and if one of them does not speedily yield, the combatants are parted by the elder women. Even the merest children box after a similar fashion, the little girls knocking each other about with hearty good-will as long as they are allowed to fight.

On one occasion, Finow ordered that all the women who were seated as spectators should engage in a general fight, after the manner of the men. They seemed nothing loth, and all the women who lived on the north of the island fought against those who lived on the south side. Nearly fifteen hundred women engaged on each side, and[996] fought with the greatest courage for more than an hour, both parties contending with such determination that neither could gain a foot of ground; and at last Finow ordered them to desist, seeing that several ankles had been sprained and limbs broken.

Besides boxing and wrestling matches, the Tongans have club fights on great occasions. As with the other matches, the combatants are divided into two parties, one being seated opposite to the other, with a considerable space of ground between them.

When all is ready, a man jumps up, runs to the people of the opposite side, and sits down in front of them, asking if any of them will fight him. As in the boxing and wrestling matches, to challenge a particular opponent is bad manners. If the challenge be accepted, the combatants walk to the middle of the ring, each attended by his second, and then settle whether they shall fight after the Tongan or Samoan manner. The former mode does not allow a man to strike an antagonist after he is knocked down, but only to flourish his club over him in token of victory. By the latter mode he is allowed to beat the fallen man as long as he shows signs of life. When the fight is over, the men on the side of the victor chant their song of triumph, and the conqueror advances to the king, sits down before him in token of respect, and then rises and returns to his own party. On one of these occasions, the young prince fought no less than fourteen battles, and was victorious in every one of them.




As might be expected, various ceremonies take place with regard to sickness and burial.

If any one is ill, the inferior relations cut off a joint of the little finger as an offering to the gods. Sometimes a whole joint is taken off at once, but those who have many superior relations remove only a portion, so that they may be able to offer the sacrifice several times. In consequence of this superstition, there is scarcely a person in Tonga who has not lost a considerable portion of the little finger of one or both hands.

The mode of amputating the finger is simple enough. It is laid upon a flat block of wood, and the edge of a knife or axe, or even a sharp stone, placed on it. A smart blow is given with a mallet, and the stump, which bleeds but little in consequence of the nature of the operation, is held over the smoke of fresh grass, so as to check any after bleeding. No application is made to it, and in a week or two it heals without trouble. The Tongans do not seem to fear this operation, and even little children may be seen quarrelling with each other for the honor of having it performed upon them.

Should the illness take an unfavorable turn, instead of a mere finger, a child is offered to the gods by being strangled. For example, when Finow fell ill of the malady from which he died, and was apparently sinking, his eldest son took a young child of the king’s from its mother’s lap, strangled it, and offered it to the gods at various consecrated houses. The people look with the greatest compassion on the poor little victim, but think that it is right to sacrifice a little child who at present is useless to the community, and may not live to be of service, so that they may obtain in exchange the life of a chief who is needed by his people.

Such a sacrifice is sometimes made on other occasions, when the anger of some god is to be averted. In Tonga there are several sacred places, in which to spill blood is a sacrilege, so that they serve the purpose of cities of refuge. Once a chief named Palavali was pursuing some men, who ran for refuge to the nearest sacred spot. One of them was just getting over the fence, when Palavali, in the heat of the moment, struck him on the head, so that he fell dead within the enclosure. As soon as he had done the deed he was filled with fear, and reported what he had done to Finow, who consulted a priest. The priest, becoming inspired, said that a child must be sacrificed to the gods, and the chiefs, after holding a consultation, agreed that they should sacrifice a child of one of their own number by a female attendant. Such children are always selected, for two reasons; firstly, because the child of a chief is held to be a worthy sacrifice, and secondly, because, as its mother is of inferior rank, it could never live to be a chief.

The mother, knowing the custom, took alarm, and hid the child, but it was at last found by the men who were sent to search for it. The rest must be told in Mariner’s words. “Its poor mother wanted to follow, but was held back by those about her. On[998] hearing its mother’s voice it began to cry, but when it arrived at the fatal place of execution, it was pleased and delighted with the band of gnatoo that was put round its neck, and, looking up in the face of the man who was about to destroy it, displayed in its beautiful countenance a smile of ineffable pleasure.

“Such a sight inspired pity in the heart of every one; but adoration and fear of the gods was a sentiment superior to any other, and its destroyer could not help exclaiming, as he put on the fatal bandage, ‘O yaooé chi vale!’ (‘Poor little innocent!’) Two men then tightened the cord by pulling at each end, and the guiltless and unsuspecting victim was soon relieved of its painful struggles. The body was then placed upon a sort of hand-barrow, supported upon the shoulders of four men, and carried in a procession of priests, chiefs, and Matabooles clothed in mats, with wreaths of green leaves round their necks.

“In this manner it was conveyed to various houses consecrated to different gods, before each of which it was placed on the ground, all the company sitting behind it, except one priest, who sat beside it, and prayed aloud to the god that he would be pleased to accept of this sacrifice as an atonement for the heinous sacrilege committed, and that punishment might accordingly be withheld from the people. After this was done before all the consecrated houses in the fortress, the body was given up to its relations, to be buried in the usual manner.”

This particular case had a strange termination. Four or five days after the sacrifice, Palavali went on a foraging excursion at the head of a body of men who were not tried soldiers, and met with a smaller body of real warriors. In a very short time Palavali’s men began to run, and it was in vain that he tried to rally them. At last, in boldly facing the enemy to set his men an example, he received four spears in his body, and fell. This sight angered his men so much that they charged the enemy, drove them back, and rescued their dying chief. They were proceeding to draw out the spears, but he told them that it would be useless, as the gods had doomed him for his sacrilege, and he must die. His prognostication was correct, for he died half an hour after the battle.

When a priest is consulted on any subject—say, on the sickness of any one—a carefully regulated ceremony is performed. On the previous night a hog is killed and prepared, and taken to the place where the priest lives, together with plantains, yams, and kava root. Next day they all go to the patient’s house, and there seat themselves in order, the priest taking his place just within the eaves, if the appointed spot be a house. Opposite to the priest is the kava bowl, and around him sit the Matabooles as usual; but on this occasion the chiefs always mix with the people, or even sit behind them, thinking that such retiring and humble behavior is pleasing to the gods.

From the moment that all are seated, the god is supposed to take possession of the priest, who sits silently with his hands clasped in front of him, his head bowed, and his eyes bent on the ground. The kava being prepared, the required questions are put to him. Sometimes he answers them at once, but very often he remains in silence until all the provisions are eaten and the kava drunk. When he does speak, it is in a low, constrained voice, generally above its natural pitch, the words being supposed to be the utterances of the god through him without his volition. In some cases he is quite calm and quiet while delivering his answers, but at others his face becomes inflamed, his eyes seem ready to start from their sockets, tears pour from his eyes, and his words issue in broken sobs and gasps.

This paroxysm lasts for some time, and then gradually subsides. As it is passing away, he takes up a club which is placed near him for the purpose, gazes at it attentively, and then looks round, apparently without seeing the object at which he looks—“his eyes are open, but their sense is shut.” Suddenly he raises the club, and dashes it violently on the ground, at which instant the god is supposed to leave his votary, who immediately rises and leaves the place of honor, retiring to the back of the ring among the people. The man of highest rank present then takes the place of honor, and more kava is served.

When a priest is consulted on behalf of a sick person, the inspiration retains its hold as long as the patient is in his presence, and in some cases the inspiration lasts for several days. If one priest cannot find a cure, the patient is taken to another, and so on, until he either recovers or dies.

The illustration No. 2, on the next page, represents a consultation of the priest respecting a sick child. In the foreground are the provisions and the presents brought to the priest, and in the centre is the kava bowl. On the right is the priest, seated in a state of inspiration, with crossed hands and bowed head, listening to the questions which are being put by the Mataboole. The mother of the child is seen with the infant in her arms, and around are members of her family, all wearing coarse mats instead of fine gnatoo, and having round their necks the leaves which denote humility.

Other persons beside chiefs become inspired, generally by the spirits of those whom they had known in life. The eldest son of Finow, who afterward succeeded to the throne, used to be inspired by a great chief who had been murdered by his father and another chief. Mariner asked him what were his feelings on such occasions, and he replied that he felt restless and uncomfortable, and all over in a glow of heat, and that his mind did not seem to be his own. When asked how he knew the name of the spirit who then visited him, he answered that he could not tell—he knew it intuitively, but could give no explanation.


(See page 995.)

(See page 998.)


While Mariner was in the Tonga Islands, a young chief, remarkable for his beauty, became inspired to such a degree that he fainted, and was taken to the house of a priest, who told him that the spirit was that of a young woman who had died two years before, and was now in Bolotoo the Tonga heaven. She inspired him because she wished for him as a husband in Bolotoo, and would soon take him there. The young chief acknowledged the truth of the exposition, saying that for several nights he had been visited in his sleep by a young woman, and had suspected that she was the person who inspired him. Two days after he was taken ill and died. Mariner was present when the priest gave his explanation of the illness.

Shortly before Mariner was at the Tonga Islands, a still graver form of human sacrifice was practised than that of a child.

When the Tooi-tonga died, his chief widow was strangled on the day of the funeral, and buried in the same grave with him, just as is the case in Fiji, whence in all probability, the Tongans borrowed the practice. Comparatively short as was Mariner’s stay two Tooi-tongas died; but in neither case was this terrible rite observed. In the one case there happened to be no chief wife, all his wives being so equal in rank that neither of them ruled the household; and, in consequence a selection of a victim became impossible. In the second case the chief wife was the daughter of Finow, who said openly, that if the husband were to die first, his daughter should not be strangled, for that to destroy a young and beautiful woman because her husband had died was inflicting a double loss upon the community. As it happened, the Tooi-tonga did not die until after the elder Finow was dead and had been succeeded by his son, who not only carried out his father’s wishes on that subject, but would not allow another Tooi-tonga to succeed; thus abolishing the source of the only rank that was superior to him.

The Tooi-tonga being abolished, it necessarily follows that the ceremony of Ináchi was abolished too, and but for the fact of Mariner’s enforced residence in Tonga, this curious and interesting ceremony would have passed away without being known to European civilization.

Mariner was present at the wedding of Finow’s daughter to the Tooi-tonga, and describes it with some minuteness. It much resembled a Fijian wedding, except in the costume of the bride, who was first copiously anointed with cocoa-nut oil scented with sandal-wood, and then arrayed in a vast number of the finest Samoan mats, which were wrapped round her in such quantities that her arms were stuck out almost horizontally from her body, and her legs were so much trammelled that she could not sit down, but had to rest in a bent attitude upon her attendants.

She was eighteen at the time. Had it not been for the good sense of Finow, Mariner would have seen within a very short time her wedding, her murder, and her burial. The technical name for the ceremony of strangling is Nawgía.

We now come naturally to the subject of funerals, and will take as a typical example the funeral of the elder Finow.

Almost immediately after the death and burial of his favorite daughter, a child about seven years of age, Finow fell ill, his malady having been increased by the exertions which he made during the long ceremony of the funeral. It was on this occasion that he ordered the women to box in general combat. On the evening of that day Finow retired to a small house that had just been built for him, and was seized with a violent illness, which almost deprived him of the power of speech, though not of intellect. He evidently knew that his end was at hand, and continually muttered “My country! my country!” evidently feeling that calamities might come on his land if he were suddenly taken away.

A child was offered on behalf of him, which had already been selected, but, by the time that the sacrificing party had come back to the house where the king lay, he had lost both his speech and his consciousness, and in a few minutes the great and wise Finow had departed this life. When his death was ascertained, a curious ceremony was performed. The body was carried to the Tooi-tonga’s house, and placed on the hole in which the cooks were accustomed to light their fires. This was a symbolical expression of humility and submission to the gods, the cooking place being so degraded a spot that only the lowest Tooas would condescend to touch it.

Not only the king himself, but all those in his confidence, fully believed that his death was caused by a god named Toobo Totai, to whom he had prayed in vain for his daughter’s recovery. In revenge for the negligence of the god, Finow had made arrangements for killing his priest, and had been heard to say that if Toobo Totai did not change his conduct, and exert himself a little more, his priest should not live long. Finow’s sudden death put a stop to this project, which was only known to one or two of his immediate friends. It is not unlikely that the threatened priest may have heard of his intended assassination, and saved himself by getting a dose of poison[1002] administered to Finow at the funeral banquet.

Finow was right in his prognostications of trouble, for no sooner was his death known than a number of the principal chiefs of different islands began to assemble their forces, with the intention of seizing on the throne. His successor, however, inherited his father’s wisdom, and took such precautions that the attempt of the conspirators was quietly foiled.

After the royal corpse was brought back from the Tooi-tonga’s dwelling, it was laid on bales of gnatoo in the large conical house, which was nearly filled with women, who kept up a continual lamentation, led by his daughter, a beautiful girl of fifteen. Even by night the lamentations went on, the house being lighted up with lamps made of cocoa-nut shells half filled with cocoa-nut oil, which is only used on such occasions; and on the following morning the people assembled on the marly to take part in the obsequies of their late king, whom they both loved and feared. Indeed, among savage nations, there is no love toward a chief who is not thoroughly feared.

By this time the faces of the principal mourners were scarcely recognizable, being swollen and disfigured by the repeated blows which they had inflicted on themselves as signs of sorrow. The chiefs and Matabooles who were especially attached to the person or household of the deceased king proceeded to inflict even severer injuries upon themselves, using the club, or shell, or a sharp stone; and running two or three at a time into the open space, while they cut their heads with the clubs and shells so that the blood poured down their bodies in streams; as they did so, they uttered a sort of dirge, some specimens of which have been given by Mariner. The following is his translation of the death chant and accompanying proceedings.

“‘Finow, I know well your mind; you have departed to Bolotoo, and left your people, under suspicion that I or some of those about you are unfaithful; but where is the proof of infidelity? where is a single instance of disrespect?’ Then inflicting violent blows and deep cuts in the head with a club, stone, or knife, would again exclaim at intervals, ‘Is not this a proof of my fidelity? does this not evince loyalty and attachment to the memory of the departed warrior?’ Then perhaps two or three would run on and endeavor to seize the same club, saying with a furious tone of voice, ‘Behold, the land is torn with strife, it is smitten to pieces, it is split by revolts; how my blood boils; let us haste and die! I no longer wish to live: your death, Finow, shall be mine. But why did I wish hitherto to live? it was for you alone; it was in your service and defence only that I wish to breathe; but now, alas! the country is ruined. Peace and happiness are at an end; your death has insured ours: henceforth war and destruction alone can prosper.’

“These speeches were accompanied with a wild and frantic agitation of the body, whilst the parties cut and bruised their heads every two or three words with the knife or club they held in their hands. Others, somewhat more calm and moderate in their grief, would parade up and down with rather a wild and agitated step, spinning and whirling the club about, striking themselves with the edge of it two or three times violently upon the top or back of the head, and then suddenly stopping and looking steadfastly at the instrument spattered with blood, exclaim, ‘Alas! my club, who could have said that you would have done this kind office for me, and have enabled me thus to evince a testimony of my respect to Finow? Never, no, never, can you again tear open the brains of his enemies. Alas! what a great and mighty warrior has fallen! Oh, Finow, cease to suspect my loyalty; be convinced of my fidelity! But what absurdity am I talking! if I had appeared treacherous in thy sight, I should have met the fate of those numerous warriors who have fallen victims to your just revenge. But do not think, Finow, that I reproach you; no, I wish only to convince you of my innocence, for who that has thoughts of harming his chiefs shall grow white-headed like me (an expression used by some of the old men)? O cruel gods, to deprive us of our father, of our only hope, for whom alone we wished to live. We have indeed other chiefs, but they are only chiefs in rank, and not like you, alas! great and mighty in war.’”

Such were their sentiments and conduct on this mournful occasion. Some, more violent than others, cut their heads to the skull with such strong and frequent blows, that they caused themselves to reel, producing afterward a temporary loss of reason. It is difficult to say to what length this extravagance would have been carried, particularly by one old man, if the prince had not ordered Mr. Mariner to go up and take away the club from him, as well as two others that were engaged at the same time. It is customary on such occasions, when a man takes a club from another, to use it himself in the same way about his own head; but Mr. Mariner, being a foreigner, was not expected to do this: he therefore went up, and, after some hesitation and struggle, secured the clubs one after another, and returned with them to his seat, when, after a while, they were taken by others, who used them in like manner.

The next proceeding was to place the body of the dead king in the grave, which was at some distance from the place where those wild laments had been made. Having arrived at the spot, a small house was speedily[1003] put together, the body was laid in it, and the whole house was covered with coarse black gnatoo, the sign of mourning, which passed over the top of the house, and hung from the eaves to the ground, so as entirely to conceal it.

Here another set of lamentations took place, while a number of men were employed in opening the grave. All great families bury their dead, not merely in the ground, but in a solid vault, about eight feet long by six wide, and eight deep. It is made of six enormous stones, the upper one, which forms the cover, being necessarily larger than the others. For the convenience of raising it when required, the upper stone does not fit quite closely upon the lower, some smaller stones being placed between them at one end.

After digging some ten feet deep, the men came to the vault, and, having cleared away the earth, they passed a rope under the end of the stone cover, and by the united force of nearly two hundred men raised it on end. Several bodies were already in the grave. Two of them, which had been buried for full forty years, were dried and nearly perfect; while others, which had not been buried nearly so long, were reduced to a few bones. In some cases the vault is lined with the gnatoo on which the body rested, while in others it becomes the property of the presiding Mataboole.

All being ready, the body of Finow was handed down into the vault, still lying on the gnatoo, and the body of his daughter, at whose funeral he was seized with illness, was buried by his side. The stone was then let down with a great shout, and the head-cutting and maiming began afresh. The next ceremony was that of collecting sand for the decoration of the grave.

The whole company formed themselves in single line, the women going first, and proceeded to the back of the island, singing loudly to warn stragglers of their presence. For any one not actually engaged in a funeral to be seen on the road is held as so great an insult that any ordinary man would lose his life. Even if the king himself saw a similar procession advancing, he would hide himself until it had passed. Remaining on his feet, though it might not actually cost him his life, would probably be so bitterly remembered that he might lose his throne. As soon as the funeral party arrived at the place where the sand was found, they all set to work at making baskets out of leaves, which they suspended from sticks and carried on their shoulders. By the time that they reached the grave, it was nearly filled up with earth, and the remainder was filled with sand, which was carefully and neatly smoothed.

Next came a very curious custom, that of burning the cheeks. The mourners, clothed in mats and green leaves, set fire to little rolls of bark, and pressed them against each cheek-bone, so as to raise a circular blister. This is then rubbed with the juice of an astringent berry, which causes the wound to bleed, and the blood is smeared over the cheeks. The friction is repeated daily for twenty days, so that an indelible scar is the natural result.

The day after the burial a ceremony took place by which the young prince was installed in his father’s place, and invested with his father’s name. Finow was the name of the reigning family; but, according to custom, no one but the actual king was allowed to bear it. Sometimes, as a mark of especial favor, he allowed it to be borne by a relation, but always in conjunction with some other name. The name by which the young prince had previously been called was Moegnagnongo.

The ceremony was begun by a kava party, at which the young prince presided. The two first cups having been filled and drunk, the third was due to the president. The Mataboole who directed the proceedings said, while all eyes were fixed on the prince, “Give it to Finow,” thus acknowledging him as the king of Tonga. The young king displayed not the least emotion on being called by the new name, as that would have been thought beneath his dignity, but took the cup as quietly as if he had been called by the name of Finow all his life.

Rites similar to those which have been described went on for nineteen days, and on the twentieth the concluding ceremony was performed. All the relations of the deceased king, together with those who had taken part in the funeral, went to the back of the island, and procured a great quantity of flat pebbles, mostly white, but having a few black among them. These they carried to the grave, and strewed completely over the grave in the form of an oval, each pebble being laid by the side of the other. The black pebbles were laid upon the white ones.

Dances, wrestling matches, and head-cutting then took place, in which latter rite the fishermen of the late king distinguished themselves in a very curious manner. Into each cheek they thrust three arrows, the points of which passed into the mouth. The shafts of the arrows were brought over the shoulders, and to each pair was tied another arrow across the shoulders, so as to make a triangle. Equipped in this extraordinary manner, they walked round the grave, and, not satisfied with this proof of their devotion to their late master, they cut their heads with their paddles, and pinched up the skin of their breasts, thrusting a spear through the fold. A grand wrestling match ended this complicated series of ceremonies.

At the burial of one great chief, who was assassinated while walking with the king (apparently with his connivance), a very curious variation of the ceremony took place.[1004] As soon as the body had been lowered into the vault, one of the assassins, a man of exceptional strength and stature, advanced toward the grave, and, brandishing his club, avowed himself as the murderer, and challenged any friend of the deceased chief to fight him.

The challenge was not accepted, and, although one of the wives of the murdered man did her best to arouse the family to vengeance, she could only succeed in inducing them to erect a strong fortress, in which they hoped to bid defiance to Finow. The king, however, was too wise to allow such a standing menace to remain, started off with four thousand warriors, and reduced the disaffected chiefs to obedience. In storming the fort, the challenging chief distinguished himself by his deeds of arms. Though wounded in the breast with a five-barbed spear, he broke off the shaft, scaled alone the enemy’s fortress, knocked out a man’s brains with his club, and made good his escape. As he retreated, however, he received another spear in his back, and died on the following day. It is remarkable that in this battle nearly all the assassins perished.

The religious system of the Tongans is tolerably simple. They believe that there are several orders of gods, just as there are several ranks of men. The principal gods are self-existent and eternal; but the second order of gods are the souls of deceased chiefs and Matabooles. All of noble blood have souls, and take rank in Bolotoo, or Paradise, not according to their moral merit, but according to the rank which they held in the world. Matabooles become ministers to the gods, just as they were ministers to the chiefs; but they are not powerful enough to inspire priests. There is also a class of mischievous gods, who are, fortunately, much less powerful than the benevolent deities.

As to the Mooas, or middle class, the learned are rather doubtful whether they go to Bolotoo, or whether they have souls. But that the Tooas, or peasantry, have no souls, there is not the slightest doubt, and that they can go to Bolotoo is therefore impossible.

With regard to Bolotoo, or Paradise, the Tongans believe it to be an island somewhere to the north-west of Tonga. It is a most beautiful place, full of the choicest fruits and the most lovely flowers. Pigs are plentiful, and never die unless they are killed to supply food for the gods, in which case another hog comes into existence to supply the place of the one that was killed. So, when a fruit or a flower is plucked, another immediately takes its place. These particulars are learned from some Tongan voyagers, who were returning from Fiji, but were driven out of their reckoning by a storm. At last they were blown to a lovely island, on which they succeeded in landing. There was abundance of fruit, but their hands could not grasp it. They walked through the trunks of trees, and through the walls of houses as if they were mere shadows; while some of the inhabitants walked through their own bodies in a similar manner. Then they found they were at Bolotoo. The gods told them to go home at once, and promised them a favorable wind. They reached Tonga in safety, but all died soon afterward, the air of Bolotoo not suiting mere mortals.

It has already been mentioned that the religious and secular lives of the Tongans are so blended together that it is very difficult to separate them, and that even their amusements partake somewhat of the religious character. There are, however, one or two of their games which partake but slightly of this element, and which are yet characteristic of the natives. One of these sports is called Fanna-kalai, and is a very ingenious mode of bird catching by means of decoys.

In order to practise this amusement, the sportsman furnishes himself with a bow and arrows, goes into the woods, and there ensconces himself within a large wicker cage covered with green leaves, so that the inmate may not be seen, but having plenty of openings through which the arrows can be aimed. By his side he has a small cage, in which is kept a hen bird, and on the top of the large cage the cock bird is tied by the leg. When properly trained, these birds continue calling to each other, and thus attract numbers of their own species, which fall victims to the arrows.

Well-trained birds are exceedingly valuable, and one chief has been known to make war upon another for the sake of procuring an especially fine bird. Indeed, the Tongans look on these birds much as sportsmen of the olden times looked on their falcons. To each pair of birds there is a keeper, whose whole business it is to attend to and train them. He is careful to teach the cock bird to flap its wings as it calls to its mate, and to utter its notes loudly, so that they may be taken as a challenge to other birds to come and fight him. The bird keepers have almost unlimited powers, as nothing is allowed to interfere with the welfare of their charge. Even when a famine visits a district, the birds must not starve. The keeper forages for the birds, and if he sees a fine bunch of plantains, he is allowed to put the tapu on it by sticking a reed in the tree, after which the proprietor dares not touch the fruit which he has saved for himself and his family. He may starve, but the birds must be fed.

As may be imagined, the keepers attend to their own interests as well as those of the birds, and are great pests to the neighborhood, fleecing the people without mercy.[1005] Now and then they go a little too far in their insolence, and a complaint is laid against them, in which case the man seldom escapes without a severe beating.

In order to show the enormous value of these birds, Mariner tells a story respecting the elder Finow. The chief of Hihifo possessed a bird which he had himself trained, and which was the best that ever was known. Finow heard of this bird, and sent a commissioner to Hihifo in order to treat with the chief for the purchase of it. This the owner declined to do, saying that not only had he an affection for the bird, which he had himself trained, but he had sustained many wars made on him by neighboring chiefs who wanted to get the bird—many lives had been lost, and he felt his honor involved in keeping it. However, he intrusted the ambassador with another pair of birds, very nearly as good, and asked him to present them to Finow.

The king tried the birds next day, and was so delighted with their performance that he was the more anxious to obtain the bird which was even superior to them. He therefore prepared a present, which according to the Tongan ideas of that day was of almost incalculable value, comprising, beside whales’ teeth, gnatoo, kava, and other native productions, several iron bolts, a quantity of beads, a looking-glass, a grindstone, and some axes, all of which had been procured from Europe, and most of them from the vessel in which Mariner had been wrecked. Seeing that Finow was determined to have the bird, and that he would probably make war if again refused, the chief wisely accepted the present, and sent the desired prize with a polite message.

As this sport is necessarily a very expensive one, it can only be practised by the king and very great chiefs, even the lesser chiefs being unable to bear the cost. There is another sport which is limited to chiefs and Matabooles. This is Fanna-gooma, or rat shooting, and is conducted as follows. Two chiefs take the command of two parties who intend to shoot rats, and arrange the preliminaries, i. e. settling the course which they mean to take, the number of shooters on each side, and so forth. On the appointed day, they go to some place which has been previously fixed upon, each being provided with his bow and two arrows.

These arrows are six feet in length, and made of a reed headed with hard wood. They are most beautifully made, the heads being smooth and polished with the greatest care, and the junction of the head and shaft guarded with plaited sinnet. In some of these weapons in my collection, the sinnet is scarcely broader than sewing silk, and is laid on with a perfection that is scarcely credible. After the sinnet is finished off, a slight coating of transparent varnish is laid over it, so as to bind the plait more firmly together, and to give it an uniform polish. In some arrows there are several similar belts of plaited sinnet. No feather is needed, as they are never aimed at any distance, and their great length is requisite to allow them to go straight through the bushes among which the rats lurk.

The bow is about the same length as the arrows, and not very powerful, so that the aim may not be disturbed by the effect of drawing it.

When they are ready to start, a couple of attendants are sent forward, who take in their mouths some roasted cocoa-nut, which they chew, and spit the fragments on either side of the path. If they come to a cross-road, they plant in it an upright reed, by means of which a tapu is laid on the path, in order to prevent any one from passing along and disturbing the rats. No one ever disregards this tapu. Even if one of the greatest chiefs come toward it, he will stop at a distance and sit down until the sportsmen have passed, while an inferior chief would to a certainty be clubbed for his insolence if he were to break the tapu.

When the party start, they arrange themselves in the following manner. They walk in Indian file along the path, the leading chief of one party going first, followed by the leading chief of the other side. Then come the men of next rank on either side, and so on alternately. Except the leading man, no one may shoot at a rat that is in front of him, though he may do so if it be on either side, or behind him. As soon as any one has shot his arrow, he changes places with the man behind him, no matter whether the shot be successful or not, so that each in turn has his chance of becoming the leading man, and so getting a double chance of a rat. Every sportsman has an attendant who follows the party, and, as soon as his master has discharged an arrow, picks it up and returns it to him.

In order to attract their game, the sportsmen imitate the squeaking of a rat, which often has the effect of bringing them out of their holes, and if a rat should run away instead of waiting to be shot, one or two of them, with a sharp percussion of the tongue, utter another sound, which has the effect of making the rat stop and sit up to listen. The party that shoots ten rats first wins the game. Birds of any kind are counted as rats.

These two sports are necessarily restricted to chiefs, on account of the expense in one case and the power of the tapu in the other, but there is another which is played only by chiefs and Matabooles, being restricted to them by etiquette and not by necessity.

The two players sit opposite each other, and one of them makes one of three movements with his right hand, i. e. presenting the open palm, the closed fist or the[1006] extended forefinger. His antagonist endeavors to imitate the movements, but if he can succeed in making five without being imitated, he wins a point, and marks it by laying down a little piece of stick. Should the antagonist be successful, he asks of the o