Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/344
PICTURESQUE NEW GUINEA.
or co-respondent, are destroyed by the injured party, a severe fight being usually the result. I saw in Maiva many marks of the infringement of the marriage law, such as half the trunk of a beautiful cocoa-nut palm standing as a monument of the unlawful event.
The only drawback to Maiva ever becoming a European Settlement is the heavy surf on the coast, which makes it very difficult to effect a landing even with a canoe, but I dare say when Europeans are allowed to settle in New Guinea, and should Maiva ever become a European Settlement, civilization will devise some means of approaching it.
MOTU-MOTU, AND CUSTOMS OF THE PEOPLE.
Motu-Motu is situated on the eastern bank at the entrance of Williams River, in longitude 146° 9' east, and latitude 8° 13' south; the district is an immense extent of sago country, very humid, and beyond doubt the fever-bed of New Guinea.
The population here I should estimate at 1,500; the people are as a rule of tall stature, well built, and in good condition, as here is no lack of food; considering the humidity of the district they keep in excellent health. Smallpox has at some time or other visited this district, as unmistakable evidences show on middle-aged men who say they had a great sickness when they were boys, and many people died.
These people have many interesting customs; for instance, at a certain time of the year, usually September and October, when vegetables are abundant, youths are sent into the Elamos, or sacred houses, as Mr. Chalmers calls them, but this word is a misnomer, as my readers will see further on. The youths having reached the age of fourteen or fifteen, all the hair is shaved off their heads. On the day of their entering the Elamo all the people feast on pigs, yams, taros, sweet potatoes, sugarcane, cocoa-nuts, and betel-nuts, &c. All this food is collected and placed in huge heaps outside each Elamo where a boy or several is to be imprisoned, as I call it; it is distributed amongst the people, then cooked