The Mafulu eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about The Mafulu.
narrower towards the two ends, where they are rounded off.  Each shield has two strong cane handles in the centre of its internal concave side, each of which handles is fixed by means of two pairs of holes bored through the shield, and of thongs which are passed through these holes and attached to the ends of the handles.  The shields are carried by passing the left arm through the upper handle downwards, the left hand holding the lower handle.


Hunting, Fishing and Agriculture


This is engaged in more or less all the year round, especially as regards wild pigs when wanted for village killing.  The animals chiefly hunted are pigs, kangaroos, wallabies, the “Macgregor bear,” [84] large snakes, cassowaries and other birds.

The hunting weapons and contrivances used are spears, bows and arrows, nets and traps; but adzes and clubs are used in connection with net hunting.  The spears are those used for war.  The bows and arrows employed for hunting animals and cassowaries are also the same as those used for war; but these are not much used.  For bird-shooting (excluding cassowary-shooting) they generally use arrows (Plate 73, Fig. 5) the points of which are made of four rather fine pieces of bamboo cane, closely bound together at the place of insertion into the reed shaft, and also bound together further down, but with a piece of stick or some other material inserted between them inside this second binding, so as to keep them a little apart and make them spread outwards, thus producing a four-pronged point.  The arrows vary in length from 5 to 6 or 7 feet, and their points vary from 4 to 10 inches.  The adzes and clubs are the same as those used for war.

The people generally hunt in large parties for pigs (hunted with either spears or nets), kangaroos and wallabies (hunted with nets only), and Macgregor bears, cassowaries, and big snakes (hunted with spears only).  The hunters may be members of a single village or of a whole community.  They generally return home on the same day, except when hunting the Macgregor bear, which is only found on the tops of high mountains, and so requires a longer expedition.  They usually take out with them large numbers of young boys, who are not armed, and do not take part in the actual killing, but who, when the party reaches the hunting ground, spread out in the bush, and so find the animals.  While doing this the boys bark like dogs.  Sometimes dogs are taken instead, but this is unusual, as they have not many dogs.

A preliminary ceremony is performed by a person whose special duty it is, and who, I think, is usually the pig-killer.  He takes a particular kind of fragrant grass, makes an incantation over it, rubs it on the noses of the dogs (if there are any), [85] and then ties it in several portions to the meshes of the net to be used.  If there are dogs, but no net, then, after rubbing the dogs’ noses, he throws the grass away.  If there is a net, but no clogs, then, after making the incantation, he ties the grass on to the net as above mentioned.  This appears to be the only ceremony in connection with hunting; and there is no food or other taboo associated with it, but some of the charms worn are intended to give success in hunting.

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The Mafulu from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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