The Mafulu eBook

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

Plates 44 and 45 illustrate some of these head feather ornaments.  Plate 44, Fig. 1, shows an ornament made out of the brown fibrous exterior of the wild betel-nut, black pigeon feathers and white cockatoo feathers, the betel fibre and black pigeon feathers being, I was told, only used in the mountains.  Plate 44, Fig. 2, shows one made out of brown feathers of young cassowary, white cockatoo feathers and red-black parrot feathers.  Plate 44, Fig. 3, shows one made out of bright red and green parrot feathers.  Plate 45, Fig. 1, shows one made out of black cassowary feathers, white cockatoo feathers, red parrot feathers and long red feathers of the bird of paradise.  Plate 45, Fig. 2, is made of cassowary feathers only.  This ornament is worn in front of the head, over the forehead, and is specially worn by chiefs.

Plate 46, Fig. 1, shows a head feather ornament which is peculiar to the mountains.  The crescent-shaped body of the ornament, which is made of short feathers taken from the neck of the cassowary, is worn in front over the forehead, and the cockade of hawk feathers stands up over the head.

Plate 46, Fig. 2, shows a back ornament of cassowary feathers which is specially intended to be worn by chiefs at dances.  The custom is to have from five to twelve of these ornaments hanging vertically side by side, suspended to a horizontal stick, which is fastened on the chief’s back at the height of the shoulders, so that the feathers hang like a mantle over his back.  The mode in which feather ornaments for the back are hung on sticks is seen in Plate 70, where a stick with pendant ornaments is being held by two boys in front.

Plaited frames (Plate 47) are worn by men in connection with these head feather ornaments.  These frames are flat curved bands, rigid or nearly so, generally forming half or nearly half a circle of an external diameter of about 9 inches, and being about 1 inch in width.  They are worn at dances and on solemn occasions.  They are placed round the top of the forehead, not vertically, but with their upper edges sloping obliquely forward, and have at their ends strings, which pass over the ears and are tied at the back of the head.  These frames help to support the feather ornaments, and prevent them from falling down over the face.  They are made by men only.  A groundwork of small split cane or other material runs in parallel curved lines from end to end, single pieces of the material being generally doubled back at the ends so as to form several lines; and this is strengthened and ornamented by interplaiting into it either split cane or some other material obtained from the splitting of the inside fibre of a plant in the way previously referred to.  There are varieties of material and of pattern worked up in different designs of interplaiting.  Some of the materials are uncoloured or merely the natural colour of the material, and others are in two colours, generally brown or reddish-brown and yellow.  These frames display a considerable amount of variety of artistic design.

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The Mafulu from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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