"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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April 27, 1926 : Manokwari

April 27th

Early this morning the sun was shinning brightly and the clear waters of the green rimmed harbour were a beautiful sight. The mountains surrounding the harbour are very high, one peak rises to 10,000 feet directly from the water with no intervening ranges. As at Ambon, every piling supporting the pier was a veritable aquarium of butterfly colored fish, coral and shellfish. I took a walk ashore to appraise the town by daylight. There is little to the town itself beyond what we saw last night. The Chinese shops are fairly well stocked with calico print goods, tinned foods, knives and other trade goods. I saw some very nice specimens of native handwork - beaded aprons, shell and bone bracelets, in a couple of the shops. Later in the morning Stan and I went to call on a German, Mr. G. F. Schrieber, who has been in New Guinea for 25 years. He has a splendid collection of ceremonial shields and feather pictures from the upper Sepik River. The shields are fringed with cassowary feathers and are inlaid in clay with human skulls, boar's tusks and cowrie shells. It cost him the lives of 10 {p. 36} of his Papuan boys to get them as they are sacred objects representing ghosts from the men's houses of the village they attacked. He is also going to make an effort to obtain a couple of smoked dried Papuans from the Arfak mountains. The natives here are of two types - the rather tall, mop haired fellows of the coast and the small wooly haired people from the mountains. These latter are of very short stature and to me, look like the so called pygmies of central New Guinea. Many of both types here have their hair bleached red by lime. I saw one albino boy of about 12 years of age. His hair and skin were quite white. The small people wear a net bag over their shoulders in which they carry their worldly possessions. Most of the natives are tattooed, especially the women, who are tattooed pretty well all over their bodies. The designs for the most part are quite simple in execution and not nearly so elaborate nor as artistically done as the tattooing on our Dyaks for example. Schrieber introduced us to his woman who is a very pretty, half Papuan from an island east of here. He paid 300 guilders for her. They have a baby 8 months of age who is quite white. The baby has just had his ears pierced and is a little fretful from the effects. She has her own nurse maid, a woman from her own tribe, sent by her family. Schrieber had many interesting stories of his sojourn in New Guinea and many good sidelights on the character of the natives. While we were there, Prince and the local Dutch magistrate, Engels appeared and a bottle of Scotch disappeared. {p. 37}

In the afternoon Dick, Prince and I took a climb into the bush back of town but succeeded only in getting wet. We had hoped to get a birds eye view of the town and harbour, but the jungle shuts off the view. At a little before six we sailed.

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