Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/67

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57
NEW GUINEA AND ITS INHABITANTS.

NEW GUINEA AND ITS INHABITANTS.
By ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE.
II.

THE houses of the New Guinea people are somewhat different in different localities, but the most general type is that found at Dorey Harbor. There is here a considerable village of large houses built on piles in the water in the usual Malay style, and houses similarly raised on posts (but loftier) are found on the hills some miles inland. Each of these houses is large and accommodates several families, and they are connected by continuous platforms of poles and bamboos, often so uneven and shaky that a European can with difficulty walk on them. A considerable space separates this platform from the shore, with which, however, it is connected by narrow bridges formed of one or two bamboos, supported on posts, and capable of being easily removed. A larger building has the posts carved into the rude forms of men and women, and is supposed to be a temple or council-house. This village is probably very like the pile villages of the stone age, whose remains have been found in the lakes of Switzerland and other countries. Similar houses are found in the Aru and Ké Islands, in Waigiou, and on the southwest coast; and they are also common on the southeast coast, sometimes standing in the water, sometimes on the beach above high-water mark. These houses are often a hundred feet long, and sometimes much more, and are occupied by ten or twenty families. On the Fly River similar large houses occur, but only raised a foot or two above the ground; while at the mouth of the Utanata River, on the southwest coast, a large low house was found a hundred feet long, and only six feet wide, with nineteen low doors; but this was evidently only a temporary seaside habitation of a tribe who had their permanent dwellings inland.

Finding these large houses, raised on posts or piles and common to many families, to prevail from one end of New Guinea to the other, both on the coast and inland, we are led to conclude that those described by Dr. Miklucho Maclay at Astrolabe Bay, on the northeast coast, are exceptional, and indicate the presence of some foreign element. The houses of the people among whom he lived were not raised on posts, and had very low walls, so that the somewhat arched roofs appeared to rise at once from the ground. They were of small dimensions, and seem to correspond pretty closely to those of the Admiralty Islands, New Britain, and New Ireland; so that this part of the coast of New Guinea has probably been colonized from some of the adjacent islands, a view supported by the fact that these people do not use bows and arrows, so general among all the true Papuans, and by other peculiari-