Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/221

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79
SOUTH CAPE.

interiors, and were amazed at the accumulation of rubbish which they contained. They keep all the skulls of wild pigs killed in hunting, and string them on sticks, tapering from the largest size to the smallest. These queer trophies are put in the side of the verandah as ornaments, much as an English Nimrod decorates his entrance hall with stags' antlers and foxes brushes. Human skulls also find a place, but these are suspended by strings and ornamented with white cowrie shells and tufts of grass. When swayed about by the wind, these shells tinkle on touching each other. Immediately over the front entrance the spears and other weapons are displayed, and one or two drums hang handy for use, while the large conch shell used in war and when out pig-hunting is invariably found in this part of the house. A little further back the seines and crayfish nets are suspended when dry, and the large meshed nets used in hunting are also carefully kept there. Behind them a little fence not more than 2 feet 6 inches high, divides the house into two apartments, the back one serving as kitchen, dining-room, and sleeping place. Their women perform the cooking and other household duties, the front apartment being used by the men, should the weather be rainy or boisterous. The houses in this locality are only one storey high, and the floor is on a level with the eaves of the roof. The interior consequently is triangular, and a man can only stand upright in the very centre, as all sorts of household utensils are inserted between the rafters and thatch, and overhead one or more shelves carry suspicious looking bundles containing the smoke-dried bones of deceased relatives. I was presented at my request with several of their conch shells, and in exchange for a long knife secured a well-made net used for pig-hunting. On our walk to the beach we noticed a large war canoe, made of an immense log of very buoyant timber, with the sides regularly built up of large planks of the same wood. The stem and stern were rudely ornamented with carvings and painted with red, white and black pigment, the only three colours in use among them. On one side of the canoe a log was attached as an outrigger, enabling the craft to live in a pretty heavy sea. As we had outstayed our appointed time, and there was a possibility of our own boat having