"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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September 6, 1926 : Explorators Camp/Tombe Village

September 6

"They make fire by means of a split stick, some tinder, dead leaves and a strip of rattan."

Visited the village this morning and went into all of the houses and was cordially greeted in each by their term of friendly address, "Wow!" The houses in comparison with those of the Papuans below are quite well built. They are oval or rectangular in shape with walls of rough split slabs and very tight floors which are kept neatly swept. In the center of the floor is a circular depression rimmed with flat stones, which is the hearth. A sort of trench-like trough made of split slabs hung high near the ceiling and extending the width of the house contains pigs jaws. The women live in a separate house. They make fire by means of a split stick, some tinder, dead leaves and a strip of rattan. The dead leaves with the tinder on top are placed on the ground. The split end of the stick is placed over the tinder and the rattan looped under the stick. The operator places his foot on the stick and with one end of the rattan in each hand pulls upwards alternately with each hand. A smoke is produced in a few seconds and in about ten seconds a coal of fire in the tinder. {p. 241} Their knives look a good deal like the Eskimo stone knives and are made of a very hard, close grained green stone which occurs in the vicinity of the rattan bridge as the base rock. During the afternoon I divided the collections we have made to date. The rain started early in the afternoon and put an end to further outside operations.

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