The Mafulu eBook

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

The south-eastern peninsula of New Guinea—­or at all events the coastal regions—­has been largely affected by immigrants, who were themselves a mixed people, and who came later at various times.  It is to these immigrants that Mr. Ray and I applied the term Melanesian (Ray, S. H., and Haddon, A. C., “A Study of the Languages of Torres Straits,” Proc.  Roy.  Irish Acad., 3rd ser., IV., 1897, p. 509).  Early in 1894, Mr. Ray read a paper before the Anthropological Institute (Journ.  Anth.  Inst., XXIV., p. 15), in which he adhered to our former discrimination of two linguistic stocks and added a third type of language composed of a mixture of the other two, for which he proposed the name Melano-Papuan.  These languages, according to Mr. Ray, occur in the Trobriands, Woodlarks and the Louisiades, and similar languages are found in the northern Solomon Islands.  For some years I had been studying the decorative art of British New Guinea, and from physical and artistic and other cultural reasons had come to the conclusion that the Melanesians of British New Guinea should be broken up into two elements:  one consisting of the Motu and allied Melanesians, and the other of the inhabitants of the Massim district—­an area extending slightly beyond that of Mr. Ray’s Melano-Papuans ("The Decorative Art of British New Guinea,” Cunningham Memoirs, X., Roy.  Irish Acad., 1894, pp. 253-269).  I reinforced my position six years later ("Studies in the Anthropo-geography of British New Guinea,” Journ.  Roy.  Geog.  Soc., 1900, pp. 265, 414).  Dr. Seligmann, in his valuable paper “A Classification of the Natives of British New Guinea” (Journ.  Roy.  Anth.  Inst., XXXIX., 1909, pp. 246, 315) corroborated these views and designated the two groups of “Melanesians” as the Eastern and Western Papuo-Melanesians.  The following year he published the great book to which Mr. Williamson so frequently refers, and in which this classification is maintained, and these two groups together with the Papuans, are termed Papuasians.

The Motu stock of the Western Papuo-Melanesians have extended their dispersal as far as the Mekeo district, where they came into contact with other peoples.  It has been shown that the true Papuans are a narrow-headed people, but there are some puzzling exceptions, the explanation of which is not yet ascertained.  The Papuo-Melanesians contain a somewhat broad-headed element, and there is a slightly broad-headed population in the central range of the south-east peninsula, the extent of which has not yet been determined.  The questions naturally arise:  (1) Is the true Papuan a variable stock including both long- broad-headed elements? or (2) Does the broad-headed element belong to an immigrant people? or, again (3) Is there an hitherto unidentified indigenous broad-headed race?  I doubt if the time is ripe for a definite answer to any of these questions.  Furthermore, we have yet to assign to their original sources the differences in culture which characterise various groups of people in New Guinea.  Something has been done in this direction, but much more has yet to be learnt.

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The Mafulu from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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