Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/331

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323
SINGULAR CUSTOM—ORNAMENTS—ARMS.

When two Namaquas are talking together, and one is relating a story, the listener repeats the last words of the speaker, even if he should know as much of the matter as his informant. For instance: if a man begin his recital by saying, "As I walked along the river, a very large rhinoceros rushed suddenly upon me." "Rushed suddenly upon me," echoes the auditor. "He was very fat." "Very fat," the other ejaculates, and so forth.

The Namaquas are fond of ornamenting their persons profusely with brass, iron, and copper, but more especially with small beads of various colors. A kind of black, dull bead, manufactured by themselves, is particularly esteemed. A quantity of resin is procured, which they melt and mix with powdered charcoal, and, during the process of cooling, it is diligently kneaded, until, being converted to the consistency of gum, it is drawn out into long, narrow bars. Again it is gently heated over a slow fire, when small bits are detached and worked between the fingers till they assume the desired shape. Their patterns of bead-work are by no means devoid of taste.

These people tattoo themselves, and also anoint and besprinkle their bodies with a profusion of grease and powders. The latter are of several kinds, and are chiefly obtained from the leaves of plants of the croton and diosma families. These powders are called "buku" by the Namaquas, and are much esteemed, more especially the kind procured south of the Orange River, which has a very agreeable and aromatic scent.

The sole arms of the Namaquas of the present day are guns. Their original weapons, which consisted of the bow and arrow, the assegai, and an immense shield (made out of an entire, single-folded ox-hide), are now rarely seen.

The Namaquas are an excessively idle race. They may be seen basking in the sun for days together in listless inactivity, frequently almost perishing from thirst or hunger, when, with very little exertion, they may have it in their