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John MacGillivray
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 302 pages of information about Narrative of the Voyage of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, Commanded By the Late Captain Owen Stanley, R.N., F.R.S. Etc. During the Years 1846-1850..


Among many superstitions held by the Prince of Wales islanders, they are much afraid of shooting-stars, believing them to be ghosts which in breaking up produce young ones of their own kind.  After sneezing, they make violent gestures with the hands and arms; if a joint cracks, they imagine that someone is speaking of them or wishing them well in the direction in which the arm is pointing.

The only tradition which I heard of occurs among the Kowraregas, and is worth mentioning for its singularity.  The first man created was a great giant named Adi, who, while fishing off Hammond Island, was caught by the rising tide and drowned, Hammond Rock springing up immediately after to mark the spot.  His wives, who were watching him at the time, resolved to drown themselves, and were changed into some dry rocks upon an adjacent reef named after them Ipile, or the wives.

Diseases and mode of treatment.

According to Giaom ague is prevalent in Muralug during the rainy season, but is not much dreaded, as it is supposed to remove former complaints, such as the sores prevalent among children.  At Cape York I have seen people affected with this complaint, but to what extent it occurs in that neighbourhood I cannot state.  One day some people from the ship saw our friend Tumagugo under treatment for ague.  He was laid upon the ground while several men in succession took his head between their knees and kneaded it with their hands.  After this they placed him close to a fire and sprinkled water over him until a copious perspiration broke out, denoting the third and last stage of the attack.  Boils on various parts of the body, even on the head, are prevalent, especially during the rainy season, when the food is of a poorer description than at other times.  Children are most subject to them, and I have more than once seen them so covered with offensive sores as to be rendered most disgusting objects.  In old people callosities frequently form on the hip and elbows, the effect, probably, of sleeping on the ground.  Scarification of the affected part is a common mode of treating local inflammatory complaints.  Ligatures are also used, as for example, one across the forehead to remove headache.  A singular mode of treating various complaints consists in attaching one end of a string to the patient, while the other is held in the mouth of a second person, who scarifies his own gums at the same time until they bleed, which is supposed to indicate that the bad blood has passed from the sick to the sound person.

Funeral ceremonies.

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