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

Interpretive Essays

Browse Photos and Film

Expedition Source Material

About this Project

expedition source material

Journal of Matthew Stirling
Select a Date:
Select a location/subject:
Current Date and Location/Subject:  

October 9, 1926 : Agintawa District

October 9 - 11

"...took many pictures, still and motion of the pygmies..."

During these days we made several trips to the small nearby villages and took many pictures, still and motion of the pygmies at work in the fields, using their stone tools, making fire, preparing meals, weaving net bags and similar daily occupations. In the evening we visited in the guest house of old Shylock and sat in the circle around the fire while they sang and cooked potatoes in the ashes. The wife of Shylock sat in the circle with the rest. There does not seem to be any taboo on women in the "men's" house here as we have often seen them in it. For that matter, the women seem to have fairly equal rights here. They do most of the heavy work in the gardens and prepare the meals but on the other hand, there do not seem to be any obvious restrictions on them and more than once we have heard the better half of Shylock lay down {p. 286} the law to him in no uncertain tones. She, incidentally, is the only one who has the nerve to do it, as he seems to have a lot of influence with the other members of the tribe. He has been doing a lot of conspiring lately with a couple of other head men who are here a lot and there have been many secret conferences with heads close together in the high grass back of the house. I don't know what it is all about, but suspect it has something to do with cornering the cowrie market. Our pile of trade goods has grown enormously and will constitute a problem in transportation when we are ready to return. Le Roux arrived the afternoon of the 10th with only a small transport which will not suffice to bring back our baggage let alone the collections, so we must try and use pygmies as carriers on the way back, an uncertain proposition at best. However, today (the 11th) we asked if they would carry for us and they almost unanimously agreed. Igoon and two of his men came from Tombe with Le Roux and it seems certain they will go back with us. Igoon and his men do not like the people here. He is afraid of them, I think. Today he seemed quite chummy with old Shylock but perhaps he feels that he must act so. Tomorrow we must start back for Tombe as Le Roux must be there on the 14th.

CreditsPermissionsMore Expeditions & Voyages