The Mafulu eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about The Mafulu.

Dr. Keith, to whom I submitted all my notes upon the measurements and physique of the Mafulu people, and who measured and examined the three skulls which I brought home, wrote to me as follows:—­

“I have examined the observations you have made on the Mafulu.  From your paper one can form, for the first time, a picture of the physical characters of this tribe; but, when I proceed to assign the tribe to its proper race, I am at once met by difficulties.  In my opinion the short stature, the pigmented skin, and the small heads inclined to brachycephaly indicate a strong negrito element, which we know is widely distributed in the far east, and certainly, as we should expect, occurs in certain districts of New Guinea.  In the three crania there were characters which one could assign to Papuan, as well as to a Melanesian stock....  A brown or reddish tinge is seen not infrequently in the hair of negritoes.  You will see that I am inclined to look on the Mafulu as showing a very considerable degree of negrito blood, and to regard the more primitive tribes of New Guinea as being of this nature.  If that were so, the Mafulu might be regarded as belonging to the older population of New Guinea, both Papuan and Melanesian having added something to their civilisation, as well as their physical characters.”

Dr. Keith then is inclined to agree with my suggestion concerning the origin of the Mafulu; and Dr. Haddon, having seen my notes upon physique, said that he endorsed the views expressed by Dr. Keith.  And if the view suggested be correct as regards the Mafulu or Fuyuge people, I am prepared to say that from what I have heard of the other mountain Papuan-speaking people of that part of New Guinea, including the Oru Lopiku (Kovio), Boboi and Ambo people, I am convinced that it must be correct as regards them also, though the relative predominance of the three strains may well vary with these different people.

I am hardly qualified to enter into the discussion as to the relationship, if any, existing between the principal hitherto known dwarf races, the Pygmies of Central Africa, the Semang of the Malay Peninsula, the Andamanese and the Aetas of the Philippine Islands, or to deal with the question whether or not all or some of them are to be grouped together as forming a distinct and related type, or are to be regarded as unconnected in the sense that each of them is merely a local variation, sharing a common ancestry with some other taller negroid race.

As, however, my suggestion of a partial negrito origin of the Mafulu people necessarily brings me into contact with this wider question, and the latter is still one upon which opinions differ, I may perhaps briefly tabulate some of the chief physical characters of the Andamanese, the Semang, the Aetas, the dwarf people recently found in Dutch New Guinea and the Mafulu.  I think I may omit the African pygmies from my tables.


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The Mafulu from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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