Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/414

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192
GERMAN NEW GUINEA.

distance of fifty miles, and after his point of exploration was passed, landings were made daily to observe the quality of the country, and to propitiate the natives who assembled in large numbers on the banks. Dr. Knappe's account of these savages is very interesting. He states that they were quite overcome on beholding the "Ottilie," and pointing reverentially to the sun (whom Dr. Knappe believes they worship) they fell at the feet of the explorers, as much as to say—"Children of the Sun we worship you." They are a powerful and apparently a contented race. Although every few miles the language was different, the mode of life and habits were similar. The largest village or plantation met with was about 240 miles up the river. It was situated some distance from the river, and contained from fifteen to twenty large houses at some distance from each other, and built at a height of about twelve feet from the ground on piles. Each house is very solidly built, large beams being used in the framework, which is covered by a thick thatch of grass. A peculiar custom obtains with reference to the separation of the sexes, the males and females occupying different houses. Each house or ward has accommodation for about fifty. The male children, up to the age of about thirteen years, inhabit the female wards. Owing to the brief stay and ignorance of the language. Dr. Knappe says he was unable to ascertain what are their customs with regard to marriage. As in other portions of New Guinea, the natives go in for extensive plantations, their special products being yams and other tubers, of which Dr. Knappe possessed no knowledge. Sago palms, bananas, and cocoa-nut trees also were growing wild in profusion. The favourite kind of ornamentation indulged in in the men's huts were rows of grinning skulls, in which the human and the crocodile were awarded the place of honour, the skulls of the dogs and pigs that surrounded them evidently not being held in such high reverence. The natives are not by any means vegetarians, deriving their supply of flesh from the hordes of dogs and pigs which surround their villages. They have also a kind of fowl, but Dr. Knappe did not observe at any of the feasts at which he was present that poultry was provided. Their bows, arrows, and spears are not nearly so well-made or so formidable as those of the coastal natives, and their canoes are nothing but trees hollowed out, first by chopping with their inferior stone axes, and then by fire. Dr. Knappe said that in one he counted twenty-two occupants. No out-riggers or rowlocks are used, the canoe being propelled by paddles, which are used by the rowers standing up. The natives, both men and women, are inveterate smokers of cigarettes, which they manufacture from the tobacco leaf, which is indigenous. The tobacco leaf is rolled tightly up, and enclosed in the green leaf of a pepper tree. Dr. Knappe smoked one himself and found that though a decided novelty, it was not all un-