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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 290 pages of information about The Mafulu.

Having planted a certain crop in a garden, they let it go on until it is exhausted, the period for this being different for different crops; but afterwards they never again plant the same crop in the same garden.  When a crop is exhausted, they may possibly use the same garden for some other purpose; but as a rule they do not do so, except as regards the use of old potato gardens for banana and sugar-cane.  When fresh gardens are wanted, fresh portions of bush are cleared; and the old deserted gardens are quickly re-covered by nature with fresh bush, the growth of vegetation being very rapid.  Most of the gardens are bush gardens, and, though these may sometimes be close to the village, you do not find a regular system of gardens within the village clearing, as you do in the Mekeo district, the situations of the villages being indeed hardly adapted for this.

CHAPTER XIII

Bark Cloth Making, Netting and Art.

Bark Cloth Making and Netting.

I put the two processes of bark cloth making and netting together, as being the only forms in which material is made in pieces of substantial size.

Bark cloth is used for making perineal bands, men’s caps, illness-recovery capes, bark cloth head strings, mourning strings and dancing aprons and ribbons.  Netting is used for fishing and hunting nets, sleeping hammocks, the various forms of carrying bags and the mourning vests worn by the widows of chiefs.

Bark Cloth Making.

Bark cloth is made by both men and women out of the bark of three different kinds of tree; but I do not know what these are.  They strip the bark from the tree, and from the bark they strip off the outer layer, leaving the inner fibrous layer, which is about 1/8th of an inch in thickness.  They have no method of fastening two pieces of bark or cloth together, so every garment has to be a single piece, and the size of the piece to be made depends upon the purpose for which it is wanted.  The cloth is made in the usual way by soaking the prepared bark in water for about twenty-four hours, and then hammering it with a heavy mallet upon the rounded surface of a cut-down tree trunk (Plate 79).

The mallet used (Plate 51, Fig. 3), however, differs from the wooden mallet of Mekeo and the coast.  It is a heavy black roller-shaped piece of stone, tapering a little at one or both ends, and being broader at the beating end than at the holding end.  It varies in length from 10 to 18 inches, and has a maximum width of about 2 or 2 1/2 inches.  The beating surface is not flattened, as is the case with the Mekeo beaters, but it is rather deeply scored with a series of longitudinal and transverse lines, crossing each other at right angles, or nearly so.  This scoring generally covers a surface space of about 3 inches by 1 or 2 inches, and is done with pointed pieces of similar stone, or with the tusks of wild pigs.

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