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The Mafulu eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 290 pages of information about The Mafulu.
In connection with personal ceremonies upon assumption of the perineal band, admission to the emone (excepting, as regards this, the case of a child of very tender years), qualifying for drumming and dancing, devolution of chieftainship and nose-piercing, the person concerned, male or female, is under the same food restriction for a day prior to that of the ceremony, and as regards nose-piercing this taboo is prior to the actual piercing, and is quite distinct from the subsequent taboo already referred to.  There does not appear to be any taboo connected with fishing, hunting or war.

The observance of all these taboos is secured only by superstitious belief or public opinion, or both, there being no method of enforcing them by punishment or by any exercise of authority by the chiefs.

CHAPTER XIX

Note on the Kuni People

Father Egedi, who has studied the Kuni people, and has written a series of articles about them in numbers of Anthropos, told me that he regarded them as being a cross between the Papuan-speaking Mafulu and the Melanesian-speaking Papuo-Melanesians of Mekeo and the adjoining coast.  Whether or not this is absolutely and strictly correct is a question upon which I will not venture to express an opinion.

In general physique and appearance the Kuni are distinctly and strongly of the type of the Mafulu, whilst their language is Melanesian; and, as regards other matters, they in some respects resemble and in other respects differ from the Mafulu.

As regards physique, Father Egedi distinguishes the Kuni from the natives of the adjoining coast by their slighter development, slender limbs and darker colour of skin, in which respects they resemble the Mafulu; but he regards them as being lower-statured than the tribes of the interior, which term includes the Mafulu, [118]with greater regularity of features, and of lighter colour, all of which tallies, I think, with my own observation of them.  But the fact that they are shorter in stature than the Mafulu, who are themselves shorter than the coast natives, is perhaps a matter for surprise, if they are a cross between the two.  I have not measured any Kuni heads; but I should be disposed from general observation to say that they are very similar to those of the Mafulu, being predominantly mesaticephalic, with tendencies to brachycephalism. [119]

Many of the Lapeka people, who are Kuni, but are on the borders of the Upper Mekeo district, seemed to me to have distinctly flattish faces, with remarkably delicately cut features—­some of the women in particular being exceedingly pretty in profile—­and very bright sparkling eyes.  Where these local characteristics came from I cannot say, as it could hardly be the result of an intermixture of Mekeo blood. [120]

The oblique eye, which is occasionally found on the coast, [121] but which I never saw in Mafulu, is, according to Father Egedi, present, though only rare, among the Kuni.  His large amount of opportunity for observation, and his known care and ability in this respect, compel me to assume his accuracy; but I can say that I saw a good many of these eyes among them, and indeed once, having about twenty of these Kuni people squatting in front of me, I observed that about half of them had distinctly oblique eyes.

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