Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/343

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329
NEW GUINEA AND ITS PEOPLE.

the end of one monsoon to go to their destination, waiting the setting in of the other to return. Farther to the east the style of the canoes improves. At Orangerie Bay they are adorned with elegant and elaborate earrings, and are often very well shaped, with scats for as many as eighteen paddlers. Sometimes two or three are lashed together, while the captain sits on a raised deck between them. The war-canoes of this kind are elaborately ornamented with carved figureheads, painted black and white, and decorated with many streamers. The women can paddle their canoes quite as well as the men; and I have seen a double canoe, propelled by twenty-four women, flying over the water, the women keeping perfect time with their paddles.

The people are still in the stone age, for iron and its uses are unknown among them. They are all gardeners, and cultivate the soil carefully, with a set of agricultural implements consisting of two pointed sticks, which serve them for plow and harrow, spade and rake. One stick is inserted five or six inches into the soil, and then the other at an angle with it; with the leverage thus obtained a sod is turned, and, this being done in regular order, a field looks, when finished, almost as if it had been plowed. Bananas are planted in these furrowed gardens. In other cases the large sods are broken up, the weeds picked out, and the whole smoothed over by the stick, until it has the appearance of a well-raked, carefully cultivated English garden. The men do the heavier work of digging, while the women plant and weed. All their gardens are inclosed by well-made fences.

Hunting the wild-pig and kangaroo are favorite sports. With no other weapon than a smooth-pointed spear and a coarse net, they obtain enormous quantities of kangaroo-meat. All the men and boys join in the grand hunts. A tract of land is selected on a day when the trade-wind is blowing steady and strong. The hunters pull up the dry grass in a narrow belt to leeward, and place their nets along the strip, each man's net being joined to his neighbor's, so that a continuous fence of nets is formed across one side of the hunting-ground. The men stand behind this barrier, with their spears and dogs, and the grass is set fire to all along the line to windward. The animals are driven, by the fire and smoke and boys, up to the nets, where their chances for escape are very small. The fishing is all done with nets.

The people have no metallic vessels, or ovens of any kind. Most of the food is boiled, and, before it can be cooked, the women have to make the pot to boil it in. They make very good pottery, which is slightly burned after being dried in the sun. They use no wheel, and yet they make well-shaped globular vessels. Roasting over a slow lire is also often practiced, and the South-Sea Island mode of cooking with hot stones is employed by the inland tribes. All the food is well cooked; and they look upon us as barbarous for eating our meat, as they say, half raw. This does away altogether with the idea of gnawing and tearing which we generally associate with eating without