"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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October 25, 1926 : Explorators Camp/Tombe Village

October 25

Shortly before noon the transport arrived from Head Camp with three tins of canned food and trade goods from Prince, also a note saying he would be up on the next transport himself. Our visitors from Gulalalu on the Ooabu were busy clicking their gourd penis cases all day at the wonders they saw. A large bolt of crimson trade cloth caught the eyes of everyone, while the sight of ten big parangs brought forth loud promises of pigs. There are several ways of showing astonishment. The men, besides clicking their penis cases with their finger nails, stand on one leg and say ah! ah! ah! ah! in rapid cadence. The women flick their breast with loose fingers like strumming a banjo, or bite the bent knuckle of the index finger. When a woman marries, the first joint of one finger is cut off with a stone axe. For each succeeding husband another joint of another finger is cut off. Some women I have seen with three fingers off in this manner. When a man's wife dies, the husband cuts off a finger in the same manner.

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