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

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 705 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 14.

Next day we warped the ship into a proper birth, and moored her, so as to command all the shores around us.  In the mean time a party of us went ashore to pay the chief a visit, and to make the customary present.  At our first entering his house, we were met by four or five old women, weeping and lamenting, as it were, most bitterly, and at the same time cutting their heads, with instruments made of shark’s teeth, till the blood ran plentifully down their faces and on their shoulders.  What was still worse, we were obliged to submit to the embraces of these old hags, and by that means were all besmeared with blood.  This ceremony (for it was merely such) being over, they went out, washed themselves, and immediately after appeared as cheerful as any of the company.  Having made some little stay, and given my present to the chief and his friends, he put a hog and some fruit into my boat, and came on board with us to dinner.  In the afternoon, we had a vast number of people and canoes about us, from different parts of the island.  They all took up their quarters in our neighbourhood, where they remained feasting for some days.  We understood the most of them were Eareeoies.

The 26th afforded nothing remarkable, excepting that Mr Forster, in his botanical excursions, saw a burying-place for dogs, which they called Marai no te Oore.  But I think we ought not to look upon this as one of their customs; because few dogs die a natural death, being generally, if not always, killed and eaten, or else given as an offering to the gods.  Probably this might be a Marai or altar, where this sort of offering was made; or it might have been the whim of some person to have buried his favourite dog in this manner.  But be it as it will, I cannot think it is a general custom in the nation; and, for my own part, I neither saw nor heard of any such thing before.

Early in the morning of the 27th, Oree, his wife, son, daughter, and several more of his friends, made us a visit, and brought with them a good quantity of all manner of refreshments; little having as yet been got from any body else.  They staid dinner; after which a party of us accompanied them on shore, where we were entertained with a play, called Mididij Harramy, which signifies the Child is coming.  It concluded with the representation of a woman in labour, acted by a set of great brawny fellows, one of whom at last brought forth a strapping boy, about six feet high, who ran about the stage, dragging after him a large wisp of straw which hung by a string from his middle.  I had an opportunity of seeing this acted another time, when I observed, that the moment they had got hold of the fellow who represented the child, they flattened or pressed his nose.  From this I judged, that they do so by their children when born, which may be the reason why all in general have flat noses.  This part of the play, from its newness, and the ludicrous manner in which it was performed, gave us, the first time we saw it, some entertainment, and caused a loud laugh, which might be the reason why they acted it so often afterwards.  But this, like all their other pieces, could entertain us no more than once; especially as we could gather little from them, for want of knowing more of their language.[1]

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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