Page:Aboriginesofvictoria02.djvu/409

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The Aborigines of Tasmania.


Physical Character.

The natives of Tasmania differed in appearance from the people of the continent; but, as has been remarked of the people of the continent, they were not all alike, and there is reason to believe that the members of some tribes were scarcely distinguishable from the Australians.

Cook saw the Tasmanians in 1777. "They were quite naked," he tells us, "and wore no ornaments, unless we consider as such, and as a proof of their love of finery, some large punctures or ridges raised on different parts of their bodies, some in straight and others in curved lines. They were of the common stature, but rather slender. Their skin was black, and also their hair, which was as woolly as that of any native of Guinea; but they were not distinguished by remarkably thick lips nor flat noses. On the contrary, their features were far from being disagreeable. They had pretty good eyes, and their teeth were tolerably even, but very dirty. Most of them had their hair and beards smeared with a red ointment, and some had their faces also painted with the same composition."[1]

"The Aborigines of Van Diemen's Land," according to Mr. R. H. Davies, "are a full average height, very sinewy and wiry. Stout, muscular men occur but rarely; this is in accordance with their habits, in which activity rather than strength is called into action. Their color is bluish-black—less black than that of African negroes, but slightly more so than Lascars. Their hair is black and woolly, but apparently not so much so as that of negroes. The hair of the female appears more woolly than that of the male; this is probably owing to the female keeping her hair cut extremely close, leaving a narrow circle all round, as if a basin had been put over the head and the hair inside of it cut away. The men allow their hair to grow very long, matting each lock separately with grease and ochre. The eyes are dark, wild, and strongly ex]3ressive of the passions; forehead high, narrow, running to a peak; nose flat and nostrils wide; the jaw-bones are large, strong, and prominent, and show a great width in front; the mouth is very wide, and the teeth large, strong, and even; the lips are not full, like those of negroes—at least not generally so. The men grease their bodies, and streak them with red-ochre and a variety of plumbago; this is partly done for ornament; but they say that it in a great measure protects them

  1. Third Voyage, B. I., ch. vi.