Page:Ethnological studies (Roth).djvu/132

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CHAPTER VII.

PERSONAL ORNAMENTATION AND DECORATION. MURAL PAINTING, &c.

Contents.—Section 162. Method of Working-up the Hair. 163. Decoration and Ornamentation of the Head. 164. Feather-tufts. 165. Knuckle-bones. 166. Tooth Ornaments. 167. Artificial Whiskers. 168. Head-net. 169. Forehead-net. 170. Fillets. 171. Circlets. 172. Spiral Band. 173. Wooden Cross-piece: Handkerchiefs. 174. Ornamentation of the Face. 175. Piercing of the Nose. 176. Piercing of the Ears. 177. Avulsion of the Teeth. 178. The Beard. 179. Grass Necklaces. 180. Opossum-string Necklaces. 181. Armlets, Anklets, Body-cords. 182. Chest Ornaments. 183. Waist-belts, Aprons. 184. Phallocrypts. 185. Painting and Feathering of the Body. 186. Mutilations, Flash-cuts. 187. Mural Painting, Art, and Draughtsmanship.

162. Method of Working-up the Hair.—The hair of the head—and especially is this the case with the males—is dressed with grease after growing a certain length, and put up very much after the style of the throms in a mop-broom. This facilitates not only its removal when required for subsequent use in making hair-twine, but also prevents its becoming too closely matted together.

The method of procedure for making hair into twine, only practised by the men, is as follows:—The hair is cut off, throm by throm, as it is required, cleaned, and teased out very much after the manner of horse-hair for a cushion: in this condition it is loosely wound round a stick, the whole then moistened, and when dry the "skein" removed and put aside. A fine thin stick, Pitta-Pitta ming-ko, a sort of "crochet-needle," about 1 foot long and ⅛-inch in diameter with a short wooden barb attached to its lower extremity by means of "cement," is next brought into requisition (Fig. 252). With this instrument rolled backwards and forwards between the thumb and forefinger of the one band, the varying lengths of hair, sorted, arranged, and rolled by the moistened fingers of the other hand, become one single thread, into which another and another length is successively entwined; as this thread is produced it is wound on to the needle, off which the barb prevents it slipping, and when some few feet of it have been made it is unwound and rolled up into a tight ball.[1] Two such balls are now taken and put into a koolamon containing water, and the twine from each fixed to the lower end of the ming-ko stick: the two strings are now twisted separately along the thigh, as in the case of native-flax (sect. 153), each in opposite directions, and in these relative positions they are together wound on the wooden needle, the resulting double-twist hair-twine being soon ready for use. Though I have not had the opportunity of watching the process of "spinning" opossum-hair, I am informed that it is very similar to what takes place in the case of human hair.

163. Decoration and Ornamentation of the Head.—The decoration of the head involves a consideration of the following ornaments: feather-tufts or "aigrettes," kangaroo and dingo bones, tooth-ornaments, artificial "whiskers," head-nets, fore-head nets, fillets, circlets, spiral-bands, the wooden cross-piece, and handkerchiefs.

164. Feather Tufts.—Feather-tufts or "aigrettes" are formed with various birds' feathers tied on to a small sprig, which is stuck indiscriminately here and there into the hair: among birds so utilised are the emu, eaglehawk, pelican, turkey, crow, &c. These feather-tufts are very generally used in times of rejoicing, at corrobborees: they may sometimes be stuck into the waist-belt either at its side or back, or may be fixed under the armlets. Common throughout North-West-Central Queensland. On the Upper Georgina I met with "bilbi"-tails put to similar use.

165. Knuckle-bones.—"Knuckle" and similar bones from the kangaroo or dingo, and up to about 2 inches in length, are fixed with cement by string to the tuft of hair over the temporal region, whence they dangle one on each side in front of the ears. In the Boulia and tipper Georgina Districts.

  1. Just like a white woman makes a ball of a woollen skein.