Page:Ethnological studies (Roth).djvu/125

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CHAPTER VI.

DOMESTIC IMPLEMENTS AND UTENSILS. FIRE STICKS AND YAM STICKS. HUTS AND SHELTERS.

Contents.—Section 148. Koolamons. 149. Chisels. 150. Cementing Substance. 151. Artificial Bending and Straightening of Timber. 152. Water-bags. 153. Dilly-bags. 1-54. Grind-stones. 155. Nardoo-stones. 156. Baking Ovens. 157. Fire-sticks. 158. Yam-sticks. 159. Huts and Shelters—in the Boulia District; 160. in the Clonourry District; 161. in the Leichhardt-Selwyn District.

148. The Koolamon, or elongate wooden trough (Fig, 233), with rounded extremities, is manufactured out of the same material and in the same localities as the shield, and travels in exchange and barter along identical routes (sect. 254). When made from the "cork," or " coral" tree (Erythrina, Linn.), &c., they are cut out straight away, two, three, or four at a time, like the shields, into the particular shape required, and then finished off with the native chisel (sect. 149). Where the wood does not lend itself to "splitting,"—e.g., the coolibar—a trunk or limb is selected as near as possible to the required shape—i.e., having a slight bend in it—ultimately to become the outer convex surface of the vessel. The proper length is next cut off the tree, and what will be its ultimate concave side slightly burned, so as to make the subsequent scooping-out with the chisel so much the easier; when roughly got into shape it is steeped in water, may be some days, wound round with twine to fix its permanent contour, and then finished off again with a chisel. Koolamons usually show a longitudinal fluting, and may be coloured red or black. They vary greatly in size from under a foot to over two and a-half in length, and up to 9 or 10 inches in width, and are either convex or slightly flat-bottomed. They are carried either on the head, or at the side or back of the body; in the latter cases, supported by a cord passed over the opposite shoulder assisted, as often as not, with the arm (Fig. 234). Some of the names applied to these wooden vessels are given in sect. 55.

149. The Native Chisel, one of the most useful tools in the possession of the aboriginals, and universal throughout North-West-Central Queensland, is not used for purposes of exchange or barter. It consists of a smoothed and rounded piece of wood up to 2 feet in length and thick in proportion, generally made of gidyea, and bent into the shape of an arc (Fig. 235). At either end of this wooden handle is a piece of flint-flake (Pitta- Pitta, koo-ya; Mitakoodi, kum-bo) firmly secured in position with cementing substance: it is this sharp little stone which is responsible for the fluted ornamentation so commonly found upon the other weapons, &c. Of recent years, one of these flints has been substituted by a portion of disused shear-blade (Mitakoodi, o-lun), barrel-band, or other form of iron ground down and rounded off to the required shape, and with this modification the implement is most commonly now found. It is, in its entirety, a cutting, shaving, and scooping tool, a true chisel, and used with both hands, moving towards the operator as shown in Fig. 236. The verb expressing the action of this instrument is puk-ka- in the Pitta-Pitta language: the name of the implement itself is at Boulia (Pitta-Pitta) koom-pa-ta (sect. 43g), at Glenormiston puk-kang-i, at Lake Nash (Yaroinga) el-bil-la and jor-je-ra: of these two last-mentioned terms, the former is the larger variety of implement for "cutting in the rough," while the latter is the smaller kind used especially for "finishing off." The Mitakoodi and Kalkadoon call the weapon by the same name as that applied to it at Boulia: sometimes the Mitakoodi speak of the whole instrument as o-lun, after its shear-blade tip (see ante).

150. The Native Cementing Substance, of which so much is said in connection with various weapons, &c., is manufactured throughout North-West-Central Queensland with the possible, though doubtful, exception of the Leichhardt-Selwyn District. In the Boulia and Upper Georgina Districts it is called kun-li, and obtained either from the "porcupine" or "spinifex"-grass (Trioda, R. Br.). The