A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 822 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14.
on the platform, which consisted of the transverse beams and longitudinal spars; so that wherever these crossed, there was room for one man in the compartment.  The warriors were stationed on the fighting-stage to the number of fifteen or twenty.  Their dress was the most singular, and at the same time the most shewy, in the whole fleet.  They had three large and ample pieces of cloth with a hole in the middle, put one above another.  The undermost and largest was white, the next red, and the uppermost and shortest brown.  Their targets or breast-plates were made of wicker- work, covered with feathers and sharks’ teeth, and hardly any of the warriors were without them.  On the contrary, those who wore helmets were few in number.  These helmets were of an enormous size, being near five feet high.  They consisted of a long cylindrical basket of wicker- work, of which the foremost half was hid by a semi-cylinder of a closer texture, which became broader towards the top, and there separated from the basket, so as to come forwards in a curve.  This frontlet, of the length of four feet, was closely covered with the glossy bluish green feathers of a sort of pigeon, and with an elegant border of white plumes.  A prodigious number of the long tail feathers of tropic birds diverged from its edges, in a radiant line, resembling that glory of light with which our painters commonly ornament the heads of angels and saints.  A large turban of cloth was required for this huge unwieldy machine to rest upon; but as it is intended merely to strike the beholder with admiration, and can be of no service, the warriors soon took it off, and placed it on the platform near them.  The principal commanders were moreover distinguished by long round tails, made of green and yellow feathers, which hung down on the back, and put us in mind of the Turkish bashaws.  Towha, their admiral, wore five of them, to the ends of which several strings of cocoa-nut tree were added, with a few red feathers affixed to them.  He had no helmet on, but wore a fine turban, which sat very gracefully on his head.  He was a man seemingly near sixty years of age, but extremely vigorous, tall, and of a very engaging noble countenance.  In each canoe we took notice of vast bundles of spears, and long clubs or battle-axes placed upright against the platform; and every warrior had either a club or spear in his hand.  Vast heaps of large stones were likewise piled up in every canoe, being their only missile weapons.  Besides the vessels of war, there were many smaller canoes without the ranks, most of which were likewise double, with a roof on the stern, intended for the reception of the chiefs at night, and as victuallers to the fleet.  A few of them were seen, on which banana-leaves were very conspicuous; and these the natives told us were to receive the killed, and they called them e-vaa no t’Eatua, “the canoes of the Divinity.”  “The immense number of people assembled together was, in fact, more
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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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