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John MacGillivray.

Narrative of the Voyage of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, Commanded By the Late Captain Owen Stanley, R.N., F.R.S. Etc. During the Years 1846-1850. Including Discoveries and Surveys in New Guinea, the Louisiade online

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Online LibraryJohn MacGillivrayNarrative of the Voyage of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, Commanded By the Late Captain Owen Stanley, R.N., F.R.S. Etc. During the Years 1846-1850. Including Discoveries and Surveys in New Guinea, the Louisiade → online text (page 1 of 24)
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Produced by Sue Asscher




NARRATIVE OF THE VOYAGE

OF

H.M.S. RATTLESNAKE,

COMMANDED BY THE LATE

CAPTAIN OWEN STANLEY, R.N., F.R.S. ETC.

DURING THE YEARS 1846-1850.

INCLUDING DISCOVERIES AND SURVEYS IN

NEW GUINEA, THE LOUISIADE ARCHIPELAGO,

ETC.

TO WHICH IS ADDED THE ACCOUNT OF

MR. E.B. KENNEDY'S EXPEDITION

FOR THE EXPLORATION OF THE CAPE YORK PENINSULA.

BY JOHN MACGILLIVRAY, F.R.G.S.

NATURALIST TO THE EXPEDITION.


PUBLISHED UNDER THE

SANCTION OF THE LORDS COMMISSIONERS OF THE ADMIRALTY.


IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOLUME 2.


1852.




CONTENTS OF VOLUME 2.


CHAPTER 2.1.

Distribution of Aboriginal tribes of Cape York and Torres Strait.
Mode of warfare illustrated.
Their social condition.
Treatment of the women.
Prevalence of infanticide.
Education of a child.
Mode of scarifying the body.
Initiation to manhood.
Their canoes, weapons, and huts.
Dress of the women.
Food of the natives.
Mode of fishing.
Capture of the turtle and dugong described.
Yams and mode of culture.
Edible roots, fruits, etc.
No recognised chieftainship.
Laws regarding property in land.
Belief in transmigration of souls.
Their traditions.
Diseases and modes of treatment.
Burial Ceremonies.


CHAPTER 2.2.

Sail from Cape York.
Mount Ernest described.
Find Kalkalega tribe on Sue Island.
Friendly reception at Darnley Island, and proceedings there.
Bramble Cay and its turtle.
Stay at Redscar Bay.
Further description of the natives, their canoes, etc.
Pass along the South-east coast of New Guinea.
Call at Duchateau Islands.
Passage to Sydney.
Observations on Geology and Ethnology.
Origin of the Australians considered.


CHAPTER 2.3.

Death of Captain Stanley.
Sail for England.
Arrive at the Bay of Islands.
Kororareka.
Falls of the Keri-Keri.
Passage across the South Pacific.
Oceanic birds.
Stay at the Falkland Islands.
Settlement of Stanley.
Call at Berkeley Sound.
Lassoing cattle.
Resume our homeward voyage.
Call at Horta in the Azores.
The caldeira of Fayal.
Arrive in England.


ACCOUNT OF MR. E.B. KENNEDY'S EXPEDITION.

Narrative of Mr. W. Carron.
Statement of Jackey-Jackey.
Dr. Vallack's statement.
Extracts from Mr. T.B. Simpson's Log.


APPENDIX.

COMPARATIVE VOCABULARY OF TWO OF THE LANGUAGES OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF
CAPE YORK.

COMPARATIVE VOCABULARY OF THREE OF THE LANGUAGES OF THE SOUTH-EAST COAST
OF NEW GUINEA AND THE LOUISIADE ARCHIPELAGO.

REMARKS ON THE VOCABULARIES OF THE VOYAGE OF THE RATTLESNAKE, BY R.G.
LATHAM, M.D.

CATALOGUE OF THE BIRDS OF THE NORTH-EAST COAST OF AUSTRALIA AND TORRES
STRAIT.

ON THE MOLLUSCA COLLECTED BY MR. MACGILLIVRAY DURING THE VOYAGE OF THE
RATTLESNAKE, BY PROFESSOR EDWARD FORBES, F.R.S.

DESCRIPTIONS OF SOME NEW SPECIES OF ANNULOSA COLLECTED BY MR.
MACGILLIVRAY DURING THE VOYAGE OF H.M.S. RATTLESNAKE, BY ADAM WHITE,
ESQUIRE, F.L.S.


LIST OF PLATES. VOLUME 2.

NATIVES OF REDSCAR BAY, NEW GUINEA.

FUNERAL SCREEN, MOUNT ERNEST.

INTERIOR OF DARNLEY ISLAND HUT.

NEW SHELLS.
Tab. 2.
Fig. 1. Helix brumeriensis.
Fig. 2. Helix franklandiensis.
Fig. 3. Helix inconspicua.
Fig. 4. Helix iuloides.
Fig. 5. Helix divisa.
Fig. 6. Helix yulei.
Fig. 7. Helix dunkiensis.
Fig. 8. Helix louisiadensis.
Fig. 9. Balea australis.
Fig. 10. Pupina grandis.

NEW SHELLS.
Tab. 3.
Fig. 1. Helix macgillivrayi.
Fig. 2. Pupina Thomsoni.
Fig. 3. Helicina gouldiana.
Fig. 4. Helicina stanleyi.
Fig. 5. Helicina louisiadensis.
Fig. 6. Ranella pulchra.
Fig. 7. Scalaria jukesiana.
Fig. 8. Macgillivrayia pelagica.
Fig. 9. Cheletropis huxleyi.

NEW INSECTS.
Tab. 4.
Fig. 1, 2. Pachyrhynchus stanleyanus, White.
Fig. 3, 4. Drusilla myloecha, Westwood.
Fig. 5. Eusemia mariana, White.

NEW CRABS.
Fig. 1. Ommatocarcinus macgillivrayi, White.
Fig. 2. Porcellanella triloba, White.

CHART OF TORRES STRAIT, NEW GUINEA, AND LOUISIADE ARCHIPELAGO.

...


VOYAGE OF H.M.S. RATTLESNAKE.


CHAPTER 2.1.

Distribution of Aboriginal tribes of Cape York and Torres Strait.
Mode of warfare illustrated.
Their social condition.
Treatment of the women.
Prevalence of infanticide.
Education of a child.
Mode of scarifying the body.
Initiation to manhood.
Their canoes, weapons, and huts.
Dress of the women.
Food of the natives.
Mode of fishing.
Capture of the turtle and dugong described.
Yams and mode of culture.
Edible roots, fruits, etc.
No recognised chieftainship.
Laws regarding property in land.
Belief in transmigration of souls.
Their traditions.
Diseases and modes of treatment.
Burial Ceremonies.

DISTRIBUTION OF TRIBES OF CAPE YORK AND TORRES STRAIT.

There are at least five distinct tribes of natives inhabiting the
neighbourhood of Cape York. The Gudang people possess the immediate
vicinity of the Cape: the Yagulles* stretch along the coast to the
southward and eastward beyond Escape River: the Katchialaigas and
Induyamos (or Yarudolaigas as the latter are sometimes called) inhabit
the country behind Cape York, but I am not acquainted with the precise
localities: lastly, the Gomokudins are located on the South-West shores
of Endeavour Strait, and extend a short distance down the Gulf of
Carpentaria. These all belong to the Australian race as unquestionably as
the aborigines of Western or South Australia, or the South-East coast of
New South Wales; they exhibit precisely the same physical characteristics
which have been elsewhere so often described as to render further
repetition unnecessary.

(*Footnote. This is the tribe concerned in the murder of the unfortunate
Kennedy. The circumstances were related by some of the Yagulles to an old
woman at Cape York of the name of Baki, who, when questioned upon the
subject through Giaom, partially corroborated the statement of
Jackey-Jackey. She further stated that a few years ago a Yagulle woman
and child had been shot by some white men in a small vessel near Albany
Island, and that the tribe were anxious to revenge their death. Whether
this was a story got up as a palliative for the murder, or not, I cannot
say.)

On the other hand, the tribes inhabiting the islands of Torres Strait
differ from those of the mainland in belonging (with the exception of the
first) to the Papuan or frizzled-haired race. Besides, probably, a few
others of which I cannot speak with certainty, these tribes are
distributed in the following manner. The Kowraregas inhabit the Prince of
Wales group: the Muralegas and Italegas divide between them Banks Island:
the Badulegas possess Mulgrave Island, and the Gumulegas the islands
between the last and New Guinea: the Kulkalegas have Mount Ernest and the
Three Sisters: The Massilegas* reside on the York Isles and others
adjacent: and the Miriam** tribe hold the north-easternmost islands of
Torres Strait, including Murray and Darnley Islands.

(*Footnote. I do not know what name is given to the tribe or tribes
inhabiting the space between the Miriam and the Kulkalaig. Dzum (a
Darnley islander) told me of a tribe called Gamle inhabiting Owrid, Uta,
Zogarid, Sirreb, Mekek, and Wurber; at all events the natives of Massid
belong to a distinct tribe, judging from their language, and are known as
the Massilegas by the Kowraregas. They occasionally (as in 1848) come
down to Cape York on a visit to the Australians there, often extending
their voyage far to the southward, visiting the various sandy islets in
search of turtle and remaining away for a month or more.)

(**Footnote. Is so named from a place in Murray Island. The possessions
of this tribe are Mer, Dowar, Wayer, Errub, Ugar, Zapker, and Edugor,
all, except the two last, permanently inhabited.

The junction between the two races, or the Papuan from the north and the
Australian from the south, is effected at Cape York by the Kowraregas,
whom I believe to be a Papuanized colony of Australians, as will
elsewhere be shown. In fact, one might hesitate whether to consider the
Kowraregas* as Papuans or Australians, so complete is the fusion of the
two races. Still the natives of the Prince of Wales Islands rank
themselves with the islanders and exhibit a degree of conscious
superiority over their neighbours on the mainland and with some show of
reason; although themselves inferior to all the other islanders, they
have at least made with them the great advance in civilisation of having
learned to cultivate the ground, a process which is practised by none of
the Australian aborigines.

(*Footnote. Dr. Latham informs me that the Kowrarega language is
undeniably Australian, and has clearly shown such to be the case: and
although the Miriam language does not show any obvious affinity with the
continental Australian dialects, yet the number of words common to it and
the Kowrarega, I find by comparison of my vocabularies to be very
considerable, and possibly, were we at all acquainted with the grammar of
the former, other and stronger affinities would appear.)

THE KOWRAREGAS.

The Kowraregas speak of New Guinea under the name of Muggi (little)
Dowdai, while to New Holland they apply the term of Kei (large) Dowdai.
Their knowledge of the former island has been acquired indirectly through
the medium of intervening tribes. The New Guinea people are said to live
chiefly on pigs and sago; from them are obtained the cassowary feathers
used in their dances, and stone-headed clubs. They trade with the
Gumulegas, who exchange commodities with the Badulegas, from whom the
Kowrarega people receive them. These last barter away to their northern
neighbours spears, throwing-sticks, and mother-of-pearl shells for bows,
arrows, bamboo pipes, and knives, and small shell ornaments called
dibi-dibi. They have friendly relations with the other islanders of
Torres Strait, but are at enmity with all the mainland tribes except the
Gudang.

MODE OF WARFARE ILLUSTRATED.

Occasionally hostilities, frequently caused by the most trivial
circumstances, arise between two neighbouring tribes, when incursions are
made into each other's territories, and reprisals follow. Although timely
notice is usually given prior to an aggression being made by one tribe
upon another, yet the most profound secrecy is afterwards practised by
the invaders. As an illustration of their mode of warfare, in which
treachery is considered meritorious in proportion to its success, and no
prisoners are made, except occasionally, when a woman is carried
off - consisting chiefly in a sudden and unexpected attack, a short
encounter, the flight of one party and the triumphant rejoicings of the
other on their return - I may state the following on the authority of
Giaom.

About the end of 1848, an old Kowrarega man went by himself in a small
canoe to the neighbourhood of Cape Cornwall, while the men of the tribe
were absent turtling at the eastern end of Endeavour Strait. He was
watched by a party of Gomokudin blacks or Yigeiles, who, guided by his
fire, surprised and speared him. Immediately returning to the mainland,
the perpetrators of this savage deed made a great fire by way of
exultation. Meanwhile the turtling party returned, and when it became
known that the old man had been missing for several days, they were
induced by his two sons to search for him, and found the body horribly
mutilated, with many spears stuck into it to show who had been the
murderers. This explained the fire, so another was lit in reply to the
challenge, and at night a party of Kowraregas in six canoes, containing
all the men and lads of the tribe, crossed over to the main. They came
upon a small camp of Yigeiles who had not been at all concerned in the
murder, and enticed one of them to come out of the thicket where he had
concealed himself by the offer of a fillet of cassowary feathers for
information regarding the real murderers. As soon as the man stepped out,
he was shot down with an arrow, his head cut off, and pursuit made after
the rest. Towards morning their second camping-place was discovered and
surrounded, when three men, one woman, and a girl were butchered. The
heads of the victims were cut off with the hupi, or bamboo knife, and
secured by the sringi, or cane loop, both of which are carried slung on
the back by the Torres Strait islanders and the New Guinea men of the
adjacent shores, when on a marauding excursion;* these Papuans preserve
the skulls of their enemies as trophies, while the Australian tribes
merely mutilate the bodies of the slain, and leave them where they fall.

(*Footnote. See Jukes' Voyage of the Fly Volume 1 page 277.)

CANNIBALISM.

The Kowraregas returned to their island with much exultation, announcing
their approach by great shouting and blowing on conchs. The heads were
placed on an oven and partially cooked, when the eyes were scooped out
and eaten with portions of flesh cut from the cheek;* only those,
however, who had been present at the murder were allowed to partake of
this; the morsel was supposed to make them more brave. A dance was then
commenced, during which the heads were kicked along the ground, and the
savage excitement of the dancers almost amounted to frenzy. The skulls
were ultimately hung up on two cross sticks near the camp, and allowed to
remain there undisturbed.

(*Footnote. The eyes and cheeks of the survivors from the wreck of a
Charles Eaton (in August 1834) were eaten by their murderers - a party
consisting of different tribes from the eastern part of Torres Strait.
See Nautical Magazine 1837 page 799.)

In the beginning of 1849 a party of Badulegas who had spent two months on
a friendly visit to the natives of Muralug treacherously killed an old
Italega woman, married to one of their hosts. Two of her brothers from
Banks Island were staying with her at the time, and one was killed, but
the other managed to escape. The heads were carried off to Badu as
trophies. This treacherous violation of the laws of hospitality was in
revenge for some petty injury which one of the Badu men received from an
Ita black several years before.

SIGNALS BY SMOKE.

When a large fire is made by one tribe it is often intended as a signal
of defiance to some neighbouring one - an invitation to fight - and may be
continued daily for weeks before hostilities commence; it is answered by
a similar one. Many other signals by smoke are in use: for example, the
presence of an enemy upon the coast - a wish to communicate with another
party at a distance - or the want of assistance - may be denoted by making
a small fire, which, as soon as it has given out a little column of
smoke, is suddenly extinguished by heaping sand upon it. If not answered
immediately it is repeated; if still unanswered, a large fire is got up
and allowed to burn until an answer is returned.

POLYGAMY.

Polygamy is practised both on the mainland and throughout the islands of
Torres Strait. Five is the greatest number of wives which I was credibly
informed had been possessed by one man - but this was an extraordinary
instance, one, two, or three, being the usual complement, leaving of
course many men who are never provided with wives. The possession of
several wives ensures to the husband a certain amount of influence in his
tribe as the owner of so much valuable property, also from the nature and
extent of his connections by marriage. In most cases females are
betrothed in infancy, according to the will of the father, and without
regard to disparity of age, thus the future husband may be and often is
an old man with several wives. When the man thinks proper he takes his
wife to live with him without any further ceremony, but before this she
has probably had promiscuous intercourse with the young men, such, if
conducted with a moderate degree of secrecy, not being considered as an
offence, although if continued after marriage it would be visited by the
husband (if powerful enough) upon both the offending parties with the
severest punishment.

Occasionally there are instances of strong mutual attachment and
courtship, when, if the damsel is not betrothed, a small present made to
the father is sufficient to procure his consent; at the Prince of Wales
Islands a knife or glass bottle are considered as a sufficient price for
the hand of a lady fair, and are the articles mostly used for that
purpose.

According to Giaom puberty in girls takes place from the tenth to the
twelfth year, but few become mothers at a very early age. When
parturition is about to take place the woman retires to a little distance
in the bush, and is attended by an experienced matron. Delivery is
usually very easy, and the mother is almost always able on the following
day to attend to her usual occupations. The infant is laid upon a small
soft mat which the mother has taken care to prepare beforehand, and which
is used for no other purpose.

CONDITION OF THE WOMEN.

The life of a married woman among the Kowrarega and Gudang blacks is a
hard one. She has to procure nearly all the food for herself and husband,
except during the turtling season, and on other occasions when the men
are astir. If she fails to return with a sufficiency of food, she is
probably severely beaten - indeed the most savage acts of cruelty are
often inflicted upon the women for the most trivial offence.

THEIR TREATMENT BY THE MEN.

Considering the degraded position assigned by the Australian savages to
their women, it is not surprising that the Prince of Wales Islanders
should, by imitating their neighbours in this respect, afford a strong
contrast to the inhabitants of Darnley and other islands of the
North-East part of Torres Strait, who always appeared to me to treat
their females with much consideration and kindness. Several instances of
this kind of barbarity came under my own notice. Piaquai
(before-mentioned) when spoken to about his wife whom he had killed a
fortnight before in a fit of passion, seemed much amused at the idea of
having got rid of her unborn child at the same time. One morning at Cape
York, Paida did not keep his appointment with me as usual; on making
inquiry, I found that he had been squabbling with one of his wives a few
minutes before, about some trifle, and had speared her through the hip
and groin. On expressing my disapproval of what he had done, adding that
white men never acted in that manner, he turned it off by jocularly
observing that although _I_ had only one wife, HE had two, and could
easily spare one of them. As a further proof of the low condition of the
women, I may state that it is upon them that the only restrictions in
eating particular sorts of food are imposed. Many kinds of fish,
including some of the best, are forbidden on the pretence of their
causing disease in women, although not injurious to the men. The
hawksbill turtle and its eggs are forbidden to women suckling, and no
female, until beyond child bearing, is permitted to eat of the Torres
Strait pigeon.

Among other pieces of etiquette to be practised after marriage among both
the Kowraregas and Gudangs, a man must carefully avoid speaking to or
even mentioning the name of his mother-in-law, and his wife acts
similarly with regard to her father-in-law. Thus the mother of a person
called Nuki - which means water - is obliged to call water by another name;
in like manner as the names of the dead are never mentioned without great
reluctance so, after the death of a man named Us, or quartz, that stone
had its name changed into nattam ure, or the thing which is a namesake,
although the original will gradually return to common use.

The population of Muralug is kept always about the same numerical
standard by the small number of births, and the occasional practice of
infanticide. Few women rear more than three children, and besides, most
of those born before marriage are doomed to be killed immediately after
birth, unless the father - which is seldom the case - is desirous of saving
the child - if not, he gives the order marama teio (throw it into the
hole) and it is buried alive accordingly. Even of other infants some,
especially females, are made away with in a similar manner when the
mother is disinclined to support it.

NAMING OF CHILDREN.

An infant is named immediately after birth: and, on Muralug, these names
for the last few years have been chosen by a very old man named Guigwi.
Many of these names have a meaning attached to them: thus, two people are
named respectively Wapada and Passei, signifying particular trees, one
woman is called Kuki, or the rainy season, and her son Ras, or the
driving cloud. Most people have several names, for instance, old Guigwi
was also called Salgai, or the firesticks, and Mrs. Thomson was addressed
as Kesagu, or Taomai, by her (adopted) relatives, but as Giaom by all
others. Children are usually suckled for about two years, but are soon
able, in a great measure, to procure their own food, especially
shellfish, and when strong enough to use the stick employed in digging up
roots, they are supposed to be able to shift for themselves.

COMPRESSION OF THE SKULL.

A peculiar form of head, which both the Kowrarega and Gudang blacks
consider as the beau ideal of beauty, is produced by artificial
compression during infancy. Pressure is made by the mother with her
hands - as I have seen practised on more than one occasion at Cape
York - one being applied to the forehead and the other to the occiput,
both of which are thereby flattened, while the skull is rendered
proportionally broader and longer than it would naturally have been.*

(*Footnote. Precisely the same form of skull as that alluded to in volume
1: hence it is not unreasonable to suppose that the latter might have
been artificially produced.)

When the child is about a fortnight old the perforation in the septum of
the nose is made by drilling it with a sharp-pointed piece of
tortoise-shell, but the raised artificial scars, regarded as personal
ornaments by the Australians and Torres Strait Islanders, are not made
until long afterwards. According to Giaom, who states that among the
Kowraregas this scarification is purely voluntary, the patient is laid
upon the ground and held there, while the incisions are made with a piece
of glass by some old man famous for his skill in performing the
operation. The chewed leaf of a certain plant (which, however, I could
not identify) is introduced into the wound to prevent the edges from
uniting, and a daub of wet clay is then placed over all, and kept there
until the necessary effect has been produced. The principal
scarifications among women at Cape York and Muralug are in the form of
long lines across the hips. Among the men, however, there is considerable
variety.

The characteristic mode of dressing the hair among the Torres Strait
Islanders is to have it twisted up into long pipe-like ringlets, and wigs
in imitation of this are also worn. Sometimes the head is shaved, leaving
a transverse crest - a practice seldom seen among the men but not uncommon
among women and children, from Darnley Island down to Cape York. At the
last place and Muralug the hair is almost always kept short - still
caprice and fashion have their sway, for at Cape York I have at times for
a week together seen all the men and lads with the hair twisted into
little strands well daubed over with red ochre and turtle fat.

RAISED CICATRICES ON THE BODY.

The Torres Strait Islanders are distinguished by a large complicated oval
scar, only slightly raised, and of neat construction. This, which I have
been told has some connection with a turtle, occupies the right shoulder,
and is occasionally repeated on the left. At Cape York, however, the
cicatrices were so varied, that I could not connect any particular style
with an individual tribe - at the same time something like uniformity was
noticed among the Katchialaigas, nearly all of whom had, in addition to
the horned breast-mark, two or three long transverse scars on the chest,
which the other tribes did not possess. In the remaining people the
variety of marking was such that it appeared fair to consider it as being
regulated more by individual caprice than by any fixed custom. Many had a
simple two-horned mark on each breast, and we sometimes saw among them a
clumsy imitation of the elaborate shoulder mark of the islanders.

INITIATION TO RIGHTS OF MANHOOD.

The custom of undergoing a certain mysterious ceremony prior to being
admitted to the privileges of manhood, supposed to be an institution
peculiar to the Australians, is found among the Kowraregas, but whether
it extends throughout Torres Strait is uncertain. This initiation is not
at Cape York and Muralug accompanied by the performance either of
circumcision or the knocking out of a tooth, as in many parts of



Online LibraryJohn MacGillivrayNarrative of the Voyage of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, Commanded By the Late Captain Owen Stanley, R.N., F.R.S. Etc. During the Years 1846-1850. Including Discoveries and Surveys in New Guinea, the Louisiade → online text (page 1 of 24)