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.
wear it long, tie it up on the crown of the head; others suffer only a large lock to grow on each side, which they tie up in clubs; many others, as well as all the women, wear it cropped short.  These rough heads, most probably, want frequent scratching; for which purpose they have a most excellent instrument.  This is a kind of comb made of sticks of hard wood, from seven to nine or ten inches long, and about the thickness of knitting-needles.  A number of these, seldom exceeding twenty, but generally fewer, is fastened together at one end, parallel to, and near one-tenth of an inch from each other.  The other ends, which are a little pointed, will spread out or open like the sticks of a fan, by which means they can beat up the quarters of an hundred lice at a time.  These combs or scratchers, for I believe they serve both purposes, they always wear in their hair, on one side their head.  The people of Tanna have an instrument of this kind for the same use; but theirs is forked, I think, never exceeding three or four prongs; and sometimes only a small pointed stick.  Their beards, which are of the same crisp nature as their hair, are, for the most part, worn short.  Swelled and ulcerated legs and feet are common among the men; as also a swelling of the scrotum.  I know not whether this is occasioned by disease, or by the mode of applying the wrapper before-mentioned, and which they use as at Tanna and Mallicollo.  This is their only covering, and is made generally of the bark of a tree, but sometimes of leaves.  The small pieces of cloth, paper, &c. which they got from us, were commonly applied to this use.  We saw coarse garments amongst them, made of a sort of matting, but they seemed never to wear them, except when out in their canoes and unemployed.  Some had a kind of concave, cylindrical, stiff black cap, which appeared to be a great ornament among them, and, we thought, was only worn by men of note or warriors.  A large sheet of strong paper, when they got one from us, was generally applied to this use.

The women’s dress is a short petticoat, made of the filaments of the plantain-tree, laid over a cord, to which they are fastened, and tied round the waist.  The petticoat is made at least six or eight inches thick, but not one inch longer than necessary for the use designed.  The outer filaments are dyed black; and, as an additional ornament, the most of them have a few pearl oyster-shells fixed on the right side.  The general ornaments of both sexes are ear-rings of tortoise-shell, necklaces or amulets, made both of shells and stones, and bracelets, made of large shells, which they wear above the elbow.  They have punctures, or marks on the skin, on several parts of the body; but none, I think, are black, as at the Eastern Islands.  I know not if they have any other design than ornament; and the people of Tanna are marked much in the same manner.[1]

Were I to judge of the origin of this nation, I should take them to be a race between the people of Tanna and of the Friendly Isles, or between those of Tanna and the New Zealanders, or all three; their language, in some respects, being a mixture of them all.  In their disposition they are like the natives of the Friendly Isles; but in affability and honesty they excel them.

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