"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 15, 1926 : Explorators Camp/Tombe Village

September 15

The newcomers have been very anxious to trade today and we have practically nothing to trade with them. The mirrors frighten them a little and they are not anxious to trade for them. As soon as they get them, they break them investigating what is inside. We let them look through the field glasses this morning, a procedure which interested them greatly. They marvelled much more at looking through the reverse end of the glass than in the regulation manner. A very simple operation however astonishes them more than any of the more intricate marvels we have staged for them. This is nothing more than rapidly turning the pages of this book with my thumb. The startled look which comes into {p. 253} all faces when this is done is hard to comprehend as there does not seem to be anything difficult to understand about it. They do not seem to play with the children, nor do they appear to play among themselves and do not seem to have toys. That they have a play instinct tho' seems evident as they thoroughly enjoy being played with and soon learn to enter heartily into the spirit of it. The young six year old daughter of Igoon is as arch a coquette as one could wish and under our tutelage has become as full of mischief as any European youngster. The Agintawa men brought a big pig with them to trade to us, withal an old one. As we have no cowries, we explained that there are more coming and bought the pig on the promise to pay 6 cowries when they arrive, wherefore they evidently trust our honesty. Judging from the pigs I have seen around the villages, they always bring the poorest ones to us. In trying to find out the source of the big white shells which they wear, they would seem to come from a big lake near Agintawa. This may be a mistaken impression but it will be an interesting trip to make in any event.

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