"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 26, 1926 : Explorators Camp/Tombe Village

October 26

This morning Dick and Jordans left for a neighboring high mountain; Dick bringing his cameras for the purpose of taking a panorama of the snow mountains. The other transport left downstream. Had a lot of pygmies around watching us eat. They get salt from somewhere up the Delo. It is as black as charcoal. {p. 296} They call it "Mudja". Strangely enough they also know of the existence of fish in the lake plain. They call them "Minow"[;] Igoon says he has seen them. However, they won't eat them and refuse our salt dried fish when it is offered, though they ate it before they knew what it was. Our canned milk created quite a sensation when we explained its nature, saying that it came from a big pig, as the nearest concept one could give them of a cow. They would not taste this either, the idea seeming rather repugnant to them. They do not like the taste of sweet things and spit out sugar and bar chocolate with a wry face. This afternoon we had another earthquake which lasted for nearly a minute. It is the third we have felt at this place. It was greeted by loud shouting in the native village while it lasted. Oompah, who was bringing our lunch at the time, was scared stiff. This evening Van Leeuwen's Javanese mantri, who is official comedian of the expedition[,] initiated our pygmy visitors to leap frog, Javanese dancing and other near acrobatic activities.

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