A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 15 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 762 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 15.

The dress of both men and women is the same, and consists of a piece of cloth or matting (but mostly the former), about two yards wide, and two and a half long; at least, so long as to go once and a half round the waist, to which it is confined by a girdle or cord.  It is double before, and hangs down like a petticoat, as low as the middle of the leg.  The upper part of the garment, above the girdle, is plaited into several folds; so that when unfolded, there is cloth sufficient to draw up and wrap round the shoulders, which is very seldom done.  This, as to form, is the general dress; but large pieces of cloth, and fine matting, are worn only by the superior people.  The inferior sort are satisfied with small pieces, and very often wear nothing but a covering made of leaves of plants, or the maro, which is a narrow piece of cloth, or matting, like a sash.  This they pass between the thighs, and wrap round the waist; but the use of it is chiefly confined to the men.  In their great haivas, or entertainments, they have various dresses made for the purpose; but the form is always the same, and the richest dresses are covered, more or less, with red feathers.  On what particular occasion their chiefs wear their large red feather-caps, I could not learn.  Both men and women sometimes shade their faces from the sun with little bonnets, made of various materials.

As the clothing, so are the ornaments, worn by those of both sexes, the same.  The most common of these are necklaces, made of the fruit of the pandamus, and various sweet-smelling flowers, which go under the general name of kahulla.  Others are composed of small shells, the wing and leg-bones of birds, shark’s teeth, and other things; all which hang loose upon the breast.  In the same manner, they often wear a mother-of-pearl shell, neatly polished, or a ring of the same substance carved, on the upper part of the arm; rings of tortoise-shell on the fingers, and a number of these joined together as bracelets on the wrists.

The lobes of the ears (though most frequently only one) are perforated, with two holes, in which they wear cylindrical bits of ivory, about three inches long, introduced at one hole, and brought out of the other; or bits of reed of the same size, filled with a yellow pigment.  This seems, to be a fine powder of turmeric, with which the women rub themselves all over, in the same manner, as our ladies use their dry rouge upon the cheeks.

Nothing appears to give them greater pleasure than personal cleanliness; to produce which, they frequently bathe in the ponds, which seem to serve no other purpose.[178] Though the water in most of them stinks intolerably, they prefer them to the sea; and they are so sensible that salt water hurts their skin, that, when necessity obliges them to bathe in the sea, they commonly have some cocoa-nut shells, filled with fresh water, poured over them, to wash it off.  They are immoderately

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 15 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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