Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/343
TRAVELS IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF MOUNT YULE.
found several quartz pebbles of a very good quality, water-worn, which in all probability had been washed down from the hills. The natives used large brilliant crystals as charms when hunting or courting; these crystals were found in the Maiva district.
On the hills, a mile from the village, I discovered in calcareous beds a number of marine fossils of a recent formation, I venture to think that gold will also be discovered in the Maiva district, but in what quantity I do not venture to predict.
The Maiva district has a large population with apparently abundance of food of every description. The people are kind and friendly disposed towards strangers, and intelligent; the men are full of conceit, and pay great attention to their scanty attire. Many of them are handsome, and have an aristocratic bearing. The women, who have sharp masculine features, and much tatooed, are less pleasing than the men.
The marriage custom at Maiva, unlike all the places I have seen in New Guinea, where, when a woman is married, she is deprived of all her hair and ornaments, differs in this that she retains them at Maiva, being allowed to keep her pretty hair. As a young girl she is tattooed all over her body, with the exception of her face, which is left to be done when she is married, to indicate that the woman has entered into the matrimonial union. At the marriage ceremony the bride and bridegroom are dressed in their best, ornamented with feathers, shells, and bright foliage plants; friends and relatives are invited, all giving presents, chiefly food. After the feasting is at an end, the marriage ceremony is considered legal, and the young couple are left to struggle for themselves. Each wife is bought from the parents, or from relatives, should the girl's parents be dead. The payment usually consists of pigs, food, and ornaments, tomahawks, and pearl shells, with calico, beads, &c., if any articles of European manufacture have found their way to the villages; but the pig is on no account omitted.
It is of frequent occurrence that the lady leaves her husband three or four times during life, and vice versa in each case always taking a fresh partner. At each such mishap cocoa-nut trees and vegetable gardens belonging to the peccant wife or husband, as the case may be,