"By Aeroplane to Pygmyland" Accounts of the 1926 Smithsonian-Dutch Expedition to New Guinea

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Journal of Matthew Stirling
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August 17, 1926 : Head Camp (Lower & Upper) ; Rouffaer River

August 17th

The river is still high and we are still watchfully waiting for a possibility to go upstream. The consistency with which the stream holds its high level is something to be admired as well as cussed at. Beyond taking a hike into the jungle back of camp this afternoon, where I encountered a small creek of clear coffee colored water, I did nothing all day. So did all of the rest. Anji presented me with a platefull [sic] of some kind of nuts he said the Dyaks got from a vine, which I had for supper along with some palm salad from the same source, making a tasty meal, as Tomalinda contributed the hind leg of a crowned pigeon which Shorty cooked up in fine style. On these quiet days, I generally visit with the Dyaks in the evening. It is never so quiet but what [sic] they have something to do. Tonight some of them are hardening canoe poles by charring them over an open fire, as the rock bottom and swift current here are tough on poles. Another Dyak is crouched beside me hafting one of their native axes - a complicated braided wrapping with a heavy strip of rattan. My young friend Tomanpalan is stripping the outer layers of bark from a palm stalk preparatory to serving it up for the {p. 216} evening meal. Today they built some pig and cassowary fences back of camp - long low fences looking pretty much like natural growth extending across low swales. In the middle of each of these is an open place with a trap, the motive power of which is furnished by a bent, seasoned sapling above it. They also built bird fences with nooses in the same fashion only smaller. They catch ground birds like chickens in them.

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