William Jones Rhees.

An account of the Smithsonian Institution, its founder, building, operations, etc. prepared from the reports of Prof. Henry to the regents, and other authentic sources online

. (page 8 of 10)
Online LibraryWilliam Jones RheesAn account of the Smithsonian Institution, its founder, building, operations, etc. prepared from the reports of Prof. Henry to the regents, and other authentic sources → online text (page 8 of 10)
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Salamanders. ..Prairie Dogs.

These are almost the only inhabitants of the high, dry prairie land destitute of every form of vegetation ex-
cept grass. A Prairie Dog, however, is always fat. They are known to all western travelers, and found in im-
mense numbers on the overland route to California.

Middle Shelf. Common Mink, the pest of farmers one has been known to kill 30 chickens
in a night. Weasels. ..Pine Martens, or American Sable.
The Ornithorynchus Paradoxus, or Duck Bill.

This is an extraordinary animal, and when it was first described, and even after its skin was received in Eng-
land, naturalists hesitated to believe in its existence. It is a native of Australia, where it is called Water-mole.
It lives almost entirely in the water.

Lower Shelf. Kaccoons.... Opossums. ...Skunks. ...Wood-Chucks. ...Ground Hogs. ...Musk
Rats, found over the whole country.
WEST SIDE Upper Shelf. Vats.
Middle Shelf. Musk-Rats. ..Weasels. ..Armadillos.

The Armadillo is gifted with extraordinary strength sometimes elevating a weight placed on his back of an
100 pounds. It rolls itself up like a ball, and sleeps nearly all day. It is much sought for as food. It is inoffen-
sive, and can be handled with impunity. Armadillos never attempt to bite, nor has nature given them any
other means of defence than the ease and rapidity with which they avoid danger by burrowing. Their food
consists of fallen fruits, roots, and worms; but they do not reject carrion, and have been known to penetrate
into human graves.

Lower Shelf. Bassaris Astuta, Civet Cat.

Called Squirrel Cat by Texans. Lives among rocks and trees. It is easily tamed, and makes a mild and play-
ful pet. It is something between fox and raccoon sole representative in the New World of the genets, civets,
ichneumons, &c., of the Old.

CASE 31.


Window Case. Woods collected by Exploring Expedition.

CASE 32.

Upper Shelf.... Squirrels of various kinds.

Middle Shelf. Hares. ..Rabbits. ..Prairie Dogs. ..Mice. ..Moles. ..Rats.

Lower Shelf. Badgers... Ground Hogs... Beaver.

The Agouti of the West Indies is the largest quadruped indigenous to these islands. They live exclusively on

Hoary Marmots. ..W r ood Chucks. ..Civet Cats, &c.

CASE 33.

Window Case. Plaster Casts or Medallions.

CASE 34.


This is one of the most complete and beautiful collections extant, and has been arranged by Prof. J. D. Dana, of
Yale College.

Middle Shelf. Crystals of Sulphur, Feldspar, and Lava, from the craters on the Sand-
wich Islands, collected by the Exploring Expedition.

In procuring these specimens there was great risk. The persons walked over a crust of only two or three in-
ches of black lava, beneath which was a mass which lighted a pole instantaneously when pierced through it.

CASE 35.

Sepia, or Cuttle-Fish... Nautilus, and other Mollusks.
Window Case. Woods.

CASE 36.


Every branch of Coral may be considered as a tree or plant, all the buds of which are animated polypes.
As to the true nature of these extraordinary substances, naturalists are not altogether agreed. They are


usually placed in the animal kingdom, and erected into a distinct class of radiata, called Porifera, analogous in
some respects to the zoophyta. What is seen here is, however, only the skeleton of the living being, which is
but a thin gelatinous substance.

CASE 37.

Palaemons... Prawns or Shrimps. ^.Galatheidae, a group of Crustaceans.
Window Case. Woods.

CASE 38.

Corals and Sponges.. ..Notice the Sea Mushroom.

It has a beautiful stony cell, consisting of a thick round plate several inches in diameter, with numerous thin
vertical plates rising from it, and radiating from its centre.

The Brain-stone, so called from its resemblance to the human brain.
Some of the coral reefs are known to be one thousand miles long and more than three hundred broad.

CASE 39.

Crustacea... Dromidise, &c.

CASE 40.

Crustacea. ..Ocypodes, &c.


CASE 41.

Fishes. ..Abranchiates, &c.

CASE 42.


Window Case. Plaster cast of Old Sarum, Wiltshire, England. ...Relics from Nicaragua.

The small figure representing an animal couchant was regarded with great veneration by the Indians. See
page 19.

CASE 43.

Exotic Birds.

CASE 44.

Fishes, Bonaparte Collection.

Window Case. Stone Sphynx from Egypt, presented to E. DeLeon, Consul General o.f
the U. S., by the British Consul General.

CASE 45.

Wild Muscovy Duck... Black- winged Goose of Chili. ..Sandwich Island Goose... Loggerhead,
Antarctic, Upland, Bustard Geese. ..Black Swan of Australia. ..Penguins. ..King Penguin is
a great thief.

They occupy the same place in the southern hemisphere that the Auks do in the northern.

Penguins are said to unite in themselves the qualities of men, fowls, and fishes. Like men, they are upright;
like fowls, they are feathered ; and like fish, they have fin-like instruments that beat the water before, and
serve for all the purposes of swimming. From 30 to 40,000 Penguins have been seen at a time. They are arranged
when on shore in as compact a manner and in as regular ranks as a regiment of soldiers, and are classed with the
greatest order, the younger birds being in one situation, moulting birds in another, setting hens in a third, and
so on. They will stand still and be knocked down without making any effort to escape.


It is much like the Penguin. Whilst at rest it h as the singular habit of resting on the top of its bill, which is
its most characteristic position. The natives hunt it for its skin for dresses.

Window Case. Woods.

CASE 46.



Exotic Birds. .. Ducks. ..Gannetts... Booby. ..Frigate Pelican, or Man-of-War Bird.
The Booby is so stupid that he will sit still and be knocked on the head on the shore or a ship. They are
much persecuted by the Man-of-War Bird.


CASE 48.
Fishes, Paraguay Expedition.

CASE 49.

Birds from Sandwich Islands, Tierra del Fuego, Chili, &c... The Oyster-Catcher. ..Noddy.,.
Wandering Albatross... Stormy Petrels, or Mother Carey's Chickens.

CASE 50.

Serpents and Reptiles.

CASE 51.
The Ibis.

The red bird is the Scarlet Ibis, worshipped by the Egyptians, one of the most celebrated birds of antiquity.
New Holland Crane. ..Brazilian Cranes... Tookaroo, a rare species of Crane.

CASE 52.
Reptiles from Brazil, and from the Paris Museum.

Between Cases 52 and 53. The identical dress worn by Dr. E. K. KANE, the celebrated
American Arctic Explorer, and brought by him to this Museum. We quote the following
from the account of his travels :

"The clothing or personal outfit demands the nicest study of experience. Rightly clad, ha is a lump of de-
formity, waddling over the ice, unpicturesque, uncouth, and seemingly helpless. The fox-skin jumper, or kape-
tah, is a closed shirt, fitting very loosely to the person, but adapted to the head and neck by an almost air-tight
hood, the nessak. Underneath the kapetah is a similar garment, but destitute of the hood, which is a shirt. It is
made of bird skins, chewed in the mouth by the women until they are perfectly soft, and it is worn with this
unequalled down next the body. More than 500 auks have been known to contribute to a garment of this de-
scription. The lower extremities are guarded by a pair of bear-skin breeches, the nannooke. The foot gear con-
sists of a bird-skin sock, with a padding of grass over the sole. Outside of this is a bear skin leg.

In this dress, a man will sleep upon his sledge with the atmosphere at 93 below our freezing point. The only
additional articles of dress are, a fox's tail held between the teeth to protect the nose in a wind, and mitts of
seal-skin well wadded with sledge straw."

Dr. Kane, however, had to add to the dress described " furs and woolens, layer upon layer, inside, like the
shards of an artichoke, till he was rounded into absolute obesity."

CASE 53.
No. 18, Big Horn, or Mountain Sheep.

Found on rocky sierras and other places where the want of water forbids the existence of every other

No. 19, Mountain Sheep, from Fort Tejon, Cal...No. 20, Kangaroo, U. S. Exploring Ex-
pedition. ..No. 21, Guanaco or Llama a young one of No. 25. ..No. 22, Virginia Deer, from
Medicine Bow. ..No. 23, Black-tailed Deer, from California. ..No. 24, Black-tailed Deer, from
Oregon. ..No. 25, Guanaco or Llama. ..No. 26, Black-tailed Deer, from California. ..No. 27,
Prong-horn Antelope, from Yellowstone River. ..No. 28, A young Elk...Nos. 29 and 30, Vir-
ginia Deer. ..No. 31, Patagonia Deer...Nos. 32, 33, 34, 35, Musk Deer, from New Holland...
No. 36, Kangaroo. ..No. 37, Antelope, from Cape of Good Hope...Nos. 38, 39, 40, Musk Deer.

CASE 54.

Serpents and Reptiles from South America, Central America, and the North Pacific.

Next examine the large table case in the middle of the west end of the room, in which is
a fine collection of Sea-esgs and Star-fishes. Notice particularly the specimens at the
east end with their curious teeth... Echinidse, or Sea Urchins or Sea Eggs.

These are found generally on sandy shores, and prefer quiet and secluded pools. Some make excavations in
solid rock. Their food consists of sea-weeds and small crustace*.

The Star-fishes.

Their structure is that of a number of tough, leathery rays diverging from a central disk. In this disk is the
mouth, which opens into a stomach filling the disk and branching off into the raya. The various forms are innu-
merable. They are found in every climate.

The most interesting, however, are the comatula. or sea-wigs, They have a branch-like structure, like that of
a gorgon's head; but what makes them peculiarly interesting is, that they ere the recent representatives of a
tribe of sea-animals now all but extinct, although found in immense abundance in a fossil state. These curious
animals of a former era are called crinoideae, and they were so numerous that Prof. Forbes says the remains of
their skeletons constitute great tracts of the dry land as it now appears.

The structure of the shell of the echinus, which consists of a number of pentagonal pieces fitting together, the
method by which it is increased by a calcareous secretion from the body of the animal, and the mechanism by
which the spines are attached, are subjects of great admiration among naturalists. The interior structure is


very simple, consisting only of a powerful and muscular mouth armed with strong teeth, and of an intestinal
tube wound twice round the inside of the shell.

All are not of a globular shape. Some are so depressed as to be popularly known as Sea-Pancakes.

Lizard-tailed Star-fishes, or Brittle Stars.

In the lower part of the case are fine specimens of Turtles.

They have the faculty of falling to pieces, or at least of throwing off the ends of their rays when siezed or oth-
erwise alarmed.


EAST END, NORTH SIDE. Geological and Mineralogical collections, not yet arranged
for public exhibition.

CASE 63.

SOUTH SIDE. Human Skulls from the Feejee Islands, New Zealand, California, Mexico,
North American Indians, &c. One of the Skulls is of Vendovi, the Feejee Chief and Mur-

There are 150 skulls in this case, which is one of the most interesting in the collection, and calculated to ex-
cite feelings very different from those experienced in examining any other specimens.

Window Case. Skull of an Elephant.

The other cases in this gallery are devoted to Skulls and Skeletons. They are not ar-
ranged for exhibition.

The large mounted skeletons in the windows are those of the Ostrich and the Lama.


One of the most extensive and curious ethnological collections in the world. Passing to
the eastern extremity of the gallery commence at

CASE 70.

Specimens from the North American Indians, including Head Dresses. ...Canoes....

Feather Blankets Water-Baskets Indian Cradles Water-Bottles of the Utahs

Indian Pillow, stuffed with Buffalo hair. ..Bows and Arrows... Pipes, &c., &c.

Among the most interesting articles are specimens of the Calumets or Pipes of Peace, and the Wampum Belts.
The bowls of these pipes are always made of one particular kind of stone of a cherry red color, brought from a
quarry which the Indians believe consists of a huge army of Red Men whom the Great Spirit turned at once
into stone. The shaft is usually young ash. Wampum is the Indian name for ornaments manufactured by
the Indians of parti-colored shells, which they get on the shores of fresh-water streams, and file and cut into
bits of half an inch in length, and perforate, giving to them the shape of pieces of broken pipe stems, string on
deer sinews and wear on their necks, or weave ingeniously into war belts. Wampum was used as a circulating
medium instead of coin.

CASE 71.

Collections made by the U. S. Exploring Expedition in the Feejee Islands... Cannibal

Cooking Pots.

The Feejees are Cannibals. The flesh of women is preferred to that of men, and that part of the arm above
the elbow and the thigh are regarded as the choicest parts. So highly do they esteem this food, that the
greatest praise they can bestow on a delicacy is to say that it is as tender as a dead man.

Vessel for mixing oil. ..Fishing Nets of twine, from the bark of the Hibiscus. ..Flute of
Bamboo, and other musical instruments. ..Paddles. ..Mask and Wig worn' in dances. ..War
Conch, blown as the sign of hostilities. ..Fishing Spears. ..War Clubs... Feejee Wigs.

The usual sign of mourning is to crop the hair, and as they are very vain, and the hair takes a long time
to grow again, they use a wig as a substitute.

Native Cloth, worn as a turban on the head.

None but Chiefs are allowed to wear this. The more the hair is distended, the greater is their pride. Bar-
bers are very important personages, and are employed on all occasions.

Between Cases 71 and 72. Feejee Spears. ..Feejee Drum.

Made of a hollow trunk of a tree. It is sounded by beating on the inner side with a mallet. It is said its
sound may be heard from seven to ten miles.

CASE 72.

Feejee Islands. Likus, or Petticoat worn by the Feejee Women... Sunshades, made of a


single Palm-leaf.. .Pillow of Wood. ..Basket. ..Shell Ornaments, made of Trochus Shell...
Armlets. ..Necklaces. ..Headbands of Feathers. ..Baskets. ..Fans of Cocoa-nut leaves. ..Native
Cloth, from bark of Paper Mulberry. ..Floor Mat, from the leaves of the Pandanus... Neck-
lace of human teeth. ..Fish Vertebrae... Braided Cord of the husk of the Cocoa-nut. ..Feejee
Oracle, kept in the Temple and consulted by the Priests.

This Oracle is generally covered with scarlet and white seeds stuck on with gum. It is hollow, has an ear on
one side, and a mouth and nose on the other.

The figure like an idol, with a wooden plate at the top and hooks at the feet, is a contri-
vance used by the Feejees to save provisions from the attacks of the Feejee rat, which is a
great pest. ..Sea-slug, or Biche de Mer, a great article of trade. ..Model of Canoe, showing
the peculiar style of construction with the outrigger.. ..Hair combs, pins, &c.

The mode of wearing the comb is an indication of rank. None but the king wears it in front. The lower orders
wear it behind the ear.

Whale's tooth... Female Dress.

The usual price of a wife is a whale's tooth, and this once paid, the husband has the entire right to the person
of the wife, whom he may even kill and eat if he feels so disposed.

The women's dress is quite becoming and graceful. It is a kind of fringe made of cocoa-nut leaves, cut intc
slips about a foot long, and tied by one end to a string, which goes around the middle. It has a light ant'
elegant appearance, and yields to any portion of the body, yet never becomes entangled or out of order.

CASE 73.

Samoan or Navigator Islands. Specimens of Tapa, or native cloth.

The tapa is often printed in colors. The natives form tablets of pieces of large cocoa-nut leaves. One sideo
the tablet is kept smooth and even, and upon this cocoa-nut fibres are sewed, so as to form the required pattern
which is, of course, raised upon the surface of the tablet. These tablets are wet with a piece of cloth well soakei
in the dye, after which the tapa, which for this purpose is well bleached and beautifully white, is laid upon them
and pressed into close contact. The dye is made from herbs and roots, and is of various colors.

Fishing Nets. ..War Clubs. ..Shell-bead Necklaces. .. Flute... War Conchs... Fans. ..Baskets...
Pillows of Bamboo. ..Paddles. ..Spears made of iron wood, pointed with the sting of the ray-
fish, which, on breaking off in the body, causes certain death. ..Bows and Arrows used for
catching Lupi, or Pigeons.

Much time is devoted to capturing and taming these birds, which maybe seen in almost every house, and evep
in their canoes, where perches are erected expressly for them.


Among the mats are some of as fine texture and as soft as if made of cotton. These are solely possessed by
the chiefs, and are considered as their choicest treasures, and are so much coveted that wars have been made to
obtain possession of them.

CASE 74.

Sandwich Islands. Tonga or Friendly islands. Pieces of the rock on which Capt. Cook,
the celebrated navigator, was killed. ..Adzes of Cassus Shell. ..War Clubs. ..Native Cloth...
Pestles for pounding Kalo... Quoits. ..Fans. ..Raw Cotton, raised in Hawaii. ..Shells and Feath-
ers worn as ornaments. ..Fishing-lines and Hooks. ..Gourd Shells. ..Bowls in which Ava, the
national drink, is prepared.

The avals a root of a pungent and intoxicating nature. Young girls chew it up and spit it into a wooden
bowl; afterwards a small quantity of water is added to it, the juice is strained into cups made of cocoa-nutshells,
and all drink it. No business is done in the day till the king drinks his ava.

Bowls from which the food called Poi is eaten.

Kalo is the invaluable article of food. It is the bread of the Islanders. When made into pot, it is the national
dish. The kalo is cooked, then pounded up, water added, and a paste formed, which is allowed to ferment, and
js eaten with one or two fingers, according to its consistency.

Native Pelava, from human hair, and sea-horse tooth, a neck ornament. ..Combs. ..Feather
Cape worn on public occasions by King Kamehameha when a youth. Presented by him to
Com. Bolton in 1839.

The birds "Oo," from which these splendid feathers were taken, have but two feathers of the kind, one under
each wing. It is a very rare species, peculiar only to the higher regions of Hawaii , and is caught with great care
and much toil. Five of these feathers wero valued at $1.50. It is computed that a million dollars were expended
on the manufacture of a cloak like this for Kamebameha. The bunches of feathers are still received in payment
of a tax to the king. They are afterwards made up into head-bands for the ladies, but few can afford to wear
them. Mantles of these feathers are not now to be seen, the cost and labor of procuring them being so great.
Specimens of these birds can be seen in Case 5.

Feather Staff, an ensign of rank. ..Wooden Dishes of curious forms. ..Canoes. ..Combs...
Cinctures, the dress worn by women of Tongatabu.

CASE 75.
Kingsmill, Marquesas, and Washington Islands. These are included in what is known


as Micronesia. Native Ropes from the bark of the Cocoa-nut. ..Wooden, Pearl, and other
Fish-hooks. ..Breast Plate. ..Shell Adzes, from Disappointment Islands... Cuirass of Rope...
Beads of Wood and Shell.

Long strings of beads or braided hair are worn round the body at times a hundred fathoms in length.
The hair is taken from female slaves. The beads are manufactured by the old men who are beyond doing any
other labor made of cocoa-nut and shell, ground down to a uniform size.

Ear rings worn by the Chiefs of the Marquesas. ...File or Rasp of Shark's skin. ...A Vir
gin's Head band. ..Wooden Dish like a boat, from Raraka... Spears. ..Helmet of a skin of Por-
cupine Fish. ..Images of green stone.

Around the necks of the Chiefs is hung their " HEITIKI," made of a stone of a green color, which isheld very
sacred, and which, with their <{ MEARA," a short cleaver or club, is handed down from father to son. This Heitiki
has some resemblance to a human figure sitting with crossed legs.

Weapons armed with Shark's teeth. ..Pieces of wood worn in dances. ..Cap of Pandanus
leaves... Mats,

Made from the leaves of the Pandanus. the yellow from the young leaves, and the brown from the old; which
are prepared by beating them with a mallet to render them pliable. To the yellow mats, the greatest atten-
tion is paid. Oil impregnated with the odor of the flowers of the Pandanus, and the distilled water, are highly
esteemed, both for their color and their medicinal use as stimulants.

Stilts used bj Marquesas Islanders... Beautifully carved Adzes and Clubs.

CASE 76.

New Zealand. Paddles. ..Spears. ..Blanket Mats woven by hand... Baskets... Dressing-box
of a Chief ...Prow of a War Canoe.

This was considered very sacred, and obtained with great difficulty. It belonged to the chief Kiwikiwi.

Shell and Wood Fish-hooks... Tinder-box... Flaxen Yarn.

The manufacture of the hemp is altogether performed by the women.

War Cloak of dog-skin, called "Topuni." This was worn by Pomare, the chief.... Stone
Adzes. ..Chisel of Tortoise Shell... Cincture and Ornament of human hair...Flute.Mats of
all kinds. ..Bows and Arrows.

CASE 11.

Deception Island South Shetland. Mats, blankets, &c.


CASE 78.

Egyptian Mummies.

Mummies were embalmed in Egypt in several ways, the most perfect of which was to draw the brain through
the nostrils, partly with a piece of crooked iron, and partly by the infusion of drugs. They then with a knife
make an incision in the side, through which they extract the intestines; these they cleanse thoroughly, washing
them with palm wine, and afterwards covering them with aromatics. They then fill the body with powder of
pure myrrh, cassia, and other perfumes. Having sewn up the body, it is covered with natron (a kind of soda)
for the space of seventy da?s. It is then washed, closely wrapped in bandages of linen previously dipped in gum,
and returned to the relations, who enclose it in a case of wood made to resemble a human figure. The utmost
care was taken to affix marks to each mummy, by which it might be known again.

These specimens are 3,000 years old.

CASE 79.

Mummy from Oregon of a child... Peruvian Mummies, from Arica.

Believing, as they did, in immortality and the resurrection of the body, the Peruvians were very careful in
burying their dead. They had a mode of embalming peculiar to themselves, which consisted of exposing the
body to the intense cold of the high peaks of the mountains till it became quite dry and withered. Then, if the
deceased were an Inca, he was buried with great state in his family tomb. He retained his proper apparel, and
his treasures were buried w thbim.

The custom of the Peruvians to bury their treasures with them, made the discovery of a tomb of some
consequence to the early Spanish settlers. In 1576, a Spanish soldier, says Prescott, found in one such tomb, af-
terwards visited by Baron Humboldt, a mass of gold worth a million of dollars ! The tombs in Central America
are now being searched for golden images and treasures in the same manner.

CASE 80.

New South Wales. Weapons. ..The Boomerang, a flat stick, three feet long, two inches
wide, by three-fourths of an inch thick, curved or crooked in the centre, forming an obtuse

This possesses the peculiar property, owing to its shape, of returning to the spot from which it was thrown, If
the object aimed at was missed.

The Womerah, a throwing stick, about three feet long, with a hook at the end for throw-


ing spears and darst, with which the Australians hit a mark 200 feet distant. ..Shields made
of thick bark of the gum tree.

Theee are called hiclemara, are of a peculiar oval shape, about three feet long by six or eight inches wide, with
a handle.

Curious Carved Figure from the root of a tree.

The New Zealanders have no images of worship, and no temples. The numerous grotesque images sculptured
by the people are not regarded as representations of divinities. These images are often placed on the roofs of
houses as decorations.

Mask worn by tiie South Sea Islanders.

Siamese Shirt, a net work of grass, which prevents the outer dress from touching the

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Online LibraryWilliam Jones RheesAn account of the Smithsonian Institution, its founder, building, operations, etc. prepared from the reports of Prof. Henry to the regents, and other authentic sources → online text (page 8 of 10)