Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/321

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
119
HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION OF POTTERY TRADE.

back near the Koiari, owning then as now all land back to the Laroki river, the Koiarians claiming all on the other side. They are a people much feared because of their wonderful power over sun, rain, heaven, and earth; north-west and south-east monsoons, these especially are theirs. Only yesterday one old chief, an arrant blackguard from Padiri, marched through Hanuiibada, and some occupant from nearly every house came out to meet him with a present, a stick of tobacco, a tomahawk, an arm-shell, or some other article of value, so that he might be friendly to the proposed trading expedition. They are no doubt the real owners of the soil, and it may be some day in a Land Court presided over by a British judge, they will have much to say. By no conquest do the Motuans live here, but simply because the Koitapuans allow them, saying, "Yours is the sea, the canoes and the nets, ours the land and the kangaroos; give us fish for our flesh, and pottery for our yams and bananas." What a power these Koitapuans have! midnight spirits travel at their will, strong men are laid low by them, canoes on distant travels never return because of them, burning sun, cracked earth, dried up bananas, and harvest-time and famine all belong to them. Who will not try to appease their wrath, to gain their favour? He is dead now, my old friend, Taru, but I remember well how all along this coast he was feared, and how from far and near they came with offerings to him. But worse than anything mentioned is that often they cause murder, or commit it to further their dark designs. To hang a few of them may yet become necessary, although since the missionaries have come here they are not so exorbitant, and the others are not so blind. As readers may know, the Motuans are at Pari, Hanuabada, Poribada, Lealea, and Manumanu, in Redscar Bay, a tribe numbering about 2,000 only; their dialect is spoken by about 5,000, and they being the people of commerce (the Britons of New Guinea), through their dialect it is possible to communicate with nearly 20,000 people. The Koitapuans are to be found tacked on to the Motu tribes at Pari, Hanuabada, Poribada, also Bocra and Lealea on the east side of Redscar Bay, and inland at Padiri and Kevana, and numbering about 2,000, very much cut up into parties. I have never heard of the two