Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/73

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49
SAMOAN HAIRDRESSING.

canoes full of natives, offering clubs, native cloth, and baskets for sale. Some of the canoes had ornamental prows with carved birds, &c.

After breakfast I went ashore with M. Pinart to see all we could of the village. We were invited to enter several houses, which are much more open and less like homes than those in Tonga or Fiji. But the people are all in a ferment, for, as usual in poor Samoa, this is only a lull in the course of incessant tribal war, and the people of Pango-Pango belong to the Puletoa, who were severely beaten in a recent battle. They are, however, keen to return to the fray, and this morning all the warriors assembled in full conclave, holding a council of war. They arrived in large canoes (some of their canoes carry upwards of 200 people, but those we saw had not room for above 50). They are noble-looking men, the fairest race in Polynesia, and truly dignified in their bearing. Some wore crowns of green leaves, and many had blossoms of scarlet hybiscus coquettishly stuck in their hair, which is cut short, dyed with coral-lime, and frizzled and stiffened with a sort of bandoline made of the sticky juice of the bread-fruit tree, mixed with scented oil; so that, instead of being straight and black, it stands round the head in a stiff halo of tawny yellow, like that of the Fijians and Tongans.

Is it not strange that the same curious rage for converting black hair into gold should prevail on this side of the world, just as it has in London in various epochs of fashion's folly, as when the attendants of "The Virgin Queen" dyed their raven locks with a lee of wood-ashes, especially those of "ivy-tree bark," or a decoction of the flowers of broom, either of which was warranted to "cause the hair grow yellow"? Of the various alkaline washes in use at the present day, and the good champagne converted to a hair-wash, I need not speak. Besides, these are mysteries which I have not yet solved.

Here there is no deception at all in the process. It is all carried on in open day, for the simple and cleanly purpose of exterminating wee beasties. The head, whether male or female, that has just been whitewashed, presents exactly the appearance of a barrister's wig stuck on to a bronze statue. But such work is all done on un-