Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 69.djvu/477

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THE AFRICAN PYGMIES 473

in the upper Kasai are also called Batwa, which is the way Stanley spelled the word for his little neighbors, although these regions are six hundred miles apart.

A study of all the writings of explorers reporting discoveries of these people has revealed an average stature of about four feet eight inches for all measured, though the measurements were made upon so few that this average can not be relied upon as a final result.

The plant which furnishes the leaf covering for the huts of the pygmies is the same in the regions, widely apart though they are, ex- plored alike by Stanley and Wissmann. The shape of the house — a rough hemisphere — is also the same. In practically every case the primitive culture of the pygmies is the same, wherever found. The lack of any agriculture in their life is a common characteristic, as are the use of the poisoned arrow and the lack of any centralized tribal organization.

Popular misconceptions about the pygmies are principally as to their height. The general idea having gone abroad that they are the smallest known race of man, there has been produced the impres- sion that they are all veritable Tom Thumbs. Of course, anthropolo- gists know better that this, but the layman can not get clear the differ- ence between a dwarf and a pygmy. Then, too, some travelers have rather unscientifically measured the smallest they could find, and left this as the record of the height of the tribe.

Dr. Mason, of the Smithsonian Institution, and Professor Starr, of Chicago University, concur in making five feet as the limit for the average of a pygmy race. Of course, there will be a few taller than this, and many shorter. It will also be necessary to discriminate against any result of the admixture of alien blood from larger tribes, although there is comparatively little of this going on.

The group at St. Louis came from the region in which the Batwa were found by a number of explorers, though their particular settle- ment was visited only by the writer and the Eeverend W. H. Sheppard, E.B.G.S. These other explorers who found the Batwa in the upper Kasai are the English missionary, Grenfell; the German explorers (under the Congo government), Pogge and Wolff; and Major von Wissmann, who ranks next to Stanley as the explorer of the Congo Basin, and who was subsequently the governor-general of German East Africa. The pygmies at St. Louis were from the forests near Wiss- mann Falls, the cataracts at the head of the navigation of the Kasai tributary of the Congo. This place is about a thousand miles in the interior of the continent. There are a number of Batwa settlements in the same general district.

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