A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 17 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 661 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 17.

SECTION VII.

General Account of the Sandwich Islands continued.—­Of the Inhabitants.—­ Their Origin.—­Persons.—­Pernicious Effects of the Ava.—­Numbers.—­ Disposition and Manners.—­Reasons for supposing them not Cannibals.—­Dress and Ornaments.—­Villages and Houses.—­Food.—­Occupations and Amusements.—­ Addicted to Gaming.—­Their extraordinary Dexterity in Swimming.—­Arts and Manufactures.—­Curious Specimens of their Sculpture.—­Kipparee, or Method of Painting Cloth.—­Mats.—­Fishing Hooks.—­Cordage.—­Salt Pans.—­Warlike Instruments.

The inhabitants of the Sandwich Islands are undoubtedly of the same race with those of New Zealand, the Society and Friendly Islands, Easter Island, and the Marquesas; a race that possesses, without any intermixture, all the known lands between the latitudes of 47 deg.  S. and 20 deg.  N., and between the longitudes of 184 deg. and 260 deg.  E. This fact, which, extraordinary as it is, might be thought sufficiently proved by the striking similarity of their manners and customs, and the general resemblance of their persons, is established, beyond all controversy, by the absolute identity of their language.

From what continent they originally emigrated, and by what steps they have spread through so vast a space, those who are curious in disquisitions of this nature, may perhaps not find it very difficult to conjecture.  It has been already observed, that they bear strong marks of affinity to some of the Indian tribes that inhabit the Ladrones and Caroline islands; and the same affinity may again be traced amongst the Battas and Malays.  When these events happened, is not so easy to ascertain; it was probably not very lately, as they are extremely populous, and have no tradition of their own origin, but what is perfectly fabulous; whilst, on the other hand, the unadulterated state of their general language, and the similarity which still prevails in their customs and manners, seem to indicate that it could not have been at any very distant period.[5]

The natives of these islands are in general above the middle size, and well made; they walk very gracefully, run nimbly, and are capable of bearing great fatigue; though, upon the whole, the men are somewhat inferior, in point of strength and activity, to the Friendly islanders, and the women less delicately limbed than those of Otaheite.  Their complexion is rather darker than that of the Otaheitans, and they are not altogether so handsome a people.  However, many of both sexes had fine open countenances, and the women, in particular, had good eyes and teeth, and a sweetness and sensibility of look, which rendered them very engaging.  Their hair is of a brownish black, and neither uniformly straight, like that of the Indians of America, nor uniformly curling, as amongst the African negroes, but varying in this respect like the hair of Europeans.  One striking peculiarity in the features of every part of this great nation, I do not remember to have seen any where mentioned; which is, that even in the handsomest faces, there is always a fulness of the nostrils, without any flatness or spreading of the nose, that distinguishes them from Europeans.  It is not improbable that this may be the effect of their usual mode of salutation, which is performed by pressing the ends of their noses together.

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 17 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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