"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 7, 1926 : Explorators Camp/Tombe Village

September 7

This morning Posthumous started back to Head Camp, bringing with him Tomalinda and Tomankirip, the two Dyaks, also three convicts and one soldier. There are now remaining here Jordans, le Roux and I, with 2 convicts and 4 soldiers. It will be quite a while before the next transport arrives. Spent a good part of the morning in labelling the specimens. We were visited today by only two men, who spent most of the day in camp and by two women who were here for only a few minutes to bring some potatoes and taro roots. There seems to be a curious taboo which is probably totemism among these people. Some cannot speak to certain others by word of mouth. In place of this they have an elaborate sign language by which they carry on conversation. This holds among both men and women. They chew betel nut with lime and certain barks and roots. They raise tobacco and smoke it in pipes with reed or wooden stems and bowls made from large hard shelled seeds, nuts or acorns. They also smoke cigarettes made by rolling a leaf {p. 242} of tobacco in a pandanus leaf. The first night we spent in this camp we were awakened at midnight by a heavy earthquake. Last night there was another, but no so heavy.

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