The Mafulu eBook

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

Character and Temperament.

It is difficult to speak with any degree of definiteness on this question.  It must be borne in mind that the Mafulu people have been very little in touch with white people, the missionaries, who have only been there since 1905, and on rare occasions a Government official or scientific traveller, being almost the only white men whom the bulk of them have ever seen; and they have been but slightly affected by the outside influences which for some years past have been constantly brought to bear upon the natives of the adjoining coast line and the people of the Mekeo plains; so that comparisons of these people with their more up-to-date neighbours as regards their relative natural characters may well be in some respects misleading.

Subject, however, to this caution I would say that they are lazy and easy-going (though not so much so as the Roro and Mekeo people), lively, excitable, cheerful, merry, fairly intelligent (this being judged rather from the young people), very superstitious, brave, with much power of enduring pain, cruel, not more revengeful perhaps than is usual among uncivilised natives, friendly one with another, not quarrelsome, but untrustworthy and not over-faithful even in their dealings with one another, though honest as regards boundaries and property rights and in the sense of not stealing from one another within their own communities (this being regarded as a most shameful offence), and of very loose sexual morality.

A difference between them and the Mekeo and Roro natives is that they appear to be not so conservative as the latter, being more ready to abandon old traditions and adopt new ideas; though this characteristic is one which shows itself in the young people rather than in the elders with their formed habits.


Dress and Ornament


The perineal band, made of bark cloth, is the one article of dress which is universally worn by both men and women.

These bands are made by both men and women, but are coloured by men only.  They are commonly unstained and undecorated; but some of them, and especially those worn for visiting and at dances, are more or less decorated.  Some that I have noticed are stained in one colour covering the whole garment; others in two colours arranged in alternate transverse bands, sometimes with narrow spaces of unstained cloth between; and again others have bands of one colour alternating with bands of unstained cloth.  Some are decorated with lines or groups of lines of one colour, or alternating lines or groups of lines of two colours, painted transversely across the cloth.  Others, while simply stained in one colour or stained or decorated in one of the ways above described, have another simple terminal design near the end of the garment.

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The Mafulu from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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