"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 12, 1926 : Agintawa District

October 12

This morning it was raining when we got up and we packed in the rain. During the night old Shylock prevailed {p. 287} upon the natives not to do any carrying for us and in general they all put up a decidedly unfriendly front. They have figured out that we cannot carry back all of our goods and will have to abandon the big stack of stone axes, bows and arrows, net bags, ornaments and hundreds of other objects we have purchased during our stay here. We met this opposition (in which Igoon also joined, presumably because he has no choice in the matter) by packing all of the trade goods first and sending our carriers with them to our last camp about an hour away from the village. Dick and one soldier went with them to remain and watch the articles while the transport returned for the other baggage. Le Roux, Stan, one soldier and I remained at the village to await the return of the carriers. While they were gone, a couple of the tougher citizens among the villagers attempted to scare us out of our plan. They began trying out their bows, showed us scars on their bodies as relics of other fights presumably to show that fighting was an old game with them and then pointed out how many more of them there were than of us, and demonstrated how good they were at stalking through the jungle. We met this demonstration with an air of indifference and when the transport returned we all loaded up and soon had our camp moved to the location before mentioned. Here we had lunch and as we felt that it was a little dangerous to stay too near camp decided to try and reach the top of the first high ridge by making the trip in two relays and there {p. 288} establishing our camp for the night. Two men and three boys followed us on this last move, lured by the prospect of cowries and we used them to carry light loads to the top. This transport was accomplished in two relays and we made camp at the Papuan shelter on the top of the high ridge south of the Bomo. Our Papuan carriers stayed with us. They showed evidence of wanting to leave but we have explained no pay until we reach Tombe. However they would sell out cheap now. In the evening Igoon with one of his men, came and they will add a couple of much needed helpers on the return. When we left Aeimba the natives would not sell us any more food, so that travelling in relays as we must, the food problem for the return will be a serious one.

CreditsPermissionsMore Expeditions & Voyages