"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:  

November 3, 1926 : Explorators Camp/Tombe Village

November 3

Last night we had another earthquake about 1 A.M. - the most violent we have yet experienced here - I think it is the sixth. A curious feature of this shock was the loud rumbling which preceded it. I've felt a lot of earthquakes at one place or another and they have all been preceded by the characteristic rumble, but this one sounded like the 20th century limited was coming down on top of us, growing louder and louder, the first shock jarring us at the climax of the noise which then receded as it had come. I had a distinct impression of it coming from west to east. As with the last one, the pygmies in the village set up a loud chorus of howling [and] immediately the quake was over. They call it mok dugut, which means nothing more nor less than "earth shake". After breakfast {p. 301} Dick went out to see if he could trace up the cassowary he shot yesterday. He went out alone and while following the trail up a little creek about half a mile from camp he disturbed a nest of a small variety of yellow jackets. He received about a dozen stings in various parts of his body. They were extremely painful and he returned immediately to the little creek by camp where Stan and I were bathing. Here he was taken with violent convulsions which could not be relieved and calling a couple of convicts we carried him up to camp. For half an hour he was in the most severe pain but then it began to slowly disappear. During the violent part of the poison's acting, his extremities grew cold and the hands and feet numb. When it passed, feeling began to come back and he broke out in a rash over [his] arms and legs. Some of the Aeimana pygmies who are now here have very long hair. They average quite small in size and seem not to have as much Papuan admixture as some of the villages not so far south.

CreditsPermissionsMore Expeditions & Voyages