"By Aeroplane to Pygmyland" Accounts of the 1926 Smithsonian-Dutch Expedition to New Guinea

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Annotations to the Journal of Matthew Stirling

Date of Note/View Entry Keyword(s) Note

April 7, 1926 Fomalhout
[sic, = Fomalhaut]

Photos of this Dutch coastguard steam ship show the correct spelling (as it is painted on the side of the ship) appears to be “Fomalhaut,” which is the name of the brightest star in the constellation Piscis Austrinus (See photos of ship at Ambon). However, it is spelled as “Fomalhout” in Stirling’s journal and in handwritten photo captions on the backs of several photos. The “Fomalhaut” was used on the expedition to transport people and supplies, including the airplane.

April 7, 1926 Soerabaia

Properly spelled “Surabaja” in 1926, and today spelled “Surabaya”; located in East Java (Jawa Timur, Indonesia).

April 7, 1926 van Leeuwen

Willem Marius Docters van Leeuwen. Both Stirling and Hedberg usually capitalize “van” in names such as “van Leeuwen” (just as Dutch-Americans sometimes write "Van" in their names), though the name is always written in Dutch with a lower case 'v'. Hedberg sometimes writes only the word “Van” in his journal shorthand, meaning Dr. Docters van Leeuwen.

April 7, 1926 Makassar

Stirling uses "Macassor" though the Dutch spelling for this city in southern Celebes (now Sulawesi) Island is "Makassar"; its name was changed to "Ujung Pandang" in 1972 and then was changed back to "Makassar" in 1999.

April 7, 1926 Dyaks

Stirling and Hedberg both use this older English spelling for “Dayak,” a general name given to a large number of ethnic groups of interior Borneo. The term, which means “interior or inland person” in some Borneo languages, was originally used in a derogatory sense by Muslim coastal groups. Generally denoting the agricultural peoples of Borneo, it excludes the Malay or Muslim coastal groups, who were first converted to Islam in the sixteenth century. See Chapter 5: “Dayak” (pp. 146-171) in Beyond the Java Sea: Art of Indonesia’s Outer Islands by Paul Michael Taylor & Lorraine V. Aragon. (New York & Washington D.C., Harry N. Abrams & National Museum of Natural History, 1991).

April 9, 1926 Ern

Stirling explains in his commentary to the film footage (See Film Selections #1 & 2) that the plane was named the "Ern" as a result of that word’s use in crossword puzzles – which “were quite a vogue at the time”; adding that the word is a “technical name for the sea eagle.” His commentary adds that the plane was a modified World War I French Breguet bomber that had been fitted with a 400 horse power Liberty Motor. Its wheels had been replaced with plywood pontoons. For more information on this plane, see "Contact: Tales from the era when the air age met the stone age" by Tony Reichhardt (Air & Space Smithsonian v. 19 no. 4 pp. 58-65, Oct./Nov. 2004).

April 11, 1926 paits

Malay, pahit “bitter”; thus “bitter drink” – usually referring to a gin (or Dutch jenever) drink.

April 11, 1926 military expeditions from 1907 up to 1922

On early expeditions see: “First contact, in the highlands of Irian Jaya” by Anton Ploeg (Journal of Pacific History 30:227-239, 1995); and West Irian: a bibliography by J. Van Baal, K.W. Galis and R.M. Koentjaraningrat (Dordrecht-Holland; Connaminson; U.S.A.: Foris Publications, 1984) pp 44-48.

April 12, 1926 "mandows"

Spelled mandau (in Malay and various Dayak languages). See Fig. V.25 (pp. 164-165) in Beyond the Java Sea: Art of Indonesia’s Outer Islands by Paul Michael Taylor & Lorraine V. Aragon. (New York & Washington D.C., Harry N. Abrams & National Museum of Natural History, 1991). Stirling originally wrote “kampilans” here in his handwritten journal (V2) but crossed it out to write “mandows.” Kampilan is the name used in the Philippines (an American colony in 1926) to refer to the long sword typically used in the Mindanao and Sulu region.

April 14, 1926 Boetoe

Sic, = Butung (spelled Boetoeng in 1926)

April 20, 1926 kampong

Kampong or kampung (Malay) means “village.”

April 21, 1926 Rouffaer

Stirling frequently misspells the “Rouffaer River” as Rouffar.

April 24, 1926 Soeroe

Today spelled "Serui" (on the island spelled "Japen" in 1926 and spelled "Yapen" today). In Stirling's audio commentary for Film Selection 4, he refers to an island that he pronounces as if it were spelled "Djobi" in 1926 (and thus would have today's spelling "Jobi"). The description written for that film footage refers to "Jobe (Japen) Island, the expedition's rendezvous point." That name (Jobe, Jobi, Djobi) does not, however, appear in his expedition journal.

May 1, 1926 Otken River

Stirling spells this elsewhere in his journal as the “Otkin” River.

May 5, 1926 K.P.M. steamer Van Noord

K.P.M. is an abbreviation of Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij (“Royal Packet Steam Navigation Company”). Stirling spells the name of this particular steam ship as both “Van Noord” and “Van Noort” in his journal.

May 9, 1926 Edi

Stanley Hedberg spells this as “Eddy” or “Eddie.”

May 11, 1926 Cortemann

Also spelled "Kortemann."

May 11, 1926 mandoer

A Malay word meaning “overseer or foreman”; correctly spelled mandoer in 1926 prior to later spelling reforms and today spelled mandur.

May 13, 1926 dengue-dengue
[sic, = dendeng]

Malay for jerked or dry meat. Stirling also misspells this as deng-deng.

May 15, 1926 map

This line-drawn map (Dutch, schetskaart) had been published in 1915 as a fold-out map, between pages 860 and 861 of the article by “J.J.S.” entitled “De exploratie van Nieuw-Guinea” (In: Tijdschrift van het koninklijk Nederlandsch Aardrijkskundig Genootschap vol. 32 [new series], pp. 542-543 and 857-861.) A loose copy of this map, carried on the expedition, can also be found in the National Anthropological Archives. This copy was carried on the plane and was incidentally also used to pass handwritten notes between the pilot and passenger when they were flying, as the noise of the engine must have made oral communication difficult.

May 16, 1926 head camp

Head Camp, also abbreviated as “H.C.” by Hedberg, was later broken into two separate camps along the Rouffaer river, a “Lower” and an “Upper” Head Camp. Stirling and le Roux would arrive at Lower Head Camp on August 12th, while Stanley Hedberg and Richard Peck would first arrive there on Sept 5th.

May 17, 1926 mantris

The Malay word mantri (here made into an English plural by adding “s”) can mean a “low-ranking government employee, usually a tecnician” (J. Echols and H. Shadily, Indonesian-English Dictionary, 3rd edition, Jakarta: Gramedia, 1990); but in both the Stirling and Hedberg journals, the word seems to indicate the personal assistant of a Dutch or American expedition member.

May 26, 1926 1922

Probably a reference to Dr. Paul Wirz’s 1921-1922 expedition.

May 27, 1926 Apawer river

Spelled “Apawar” in Stirling’s handwritten field journal (V2).

May 27, 1926 Sally

“Sally,” also spelled, “Saleh,” or, “Salek,” was le Roux’s personal assistant and map maker.

May 27, 1926 bull roarers

"bull roarers" is underlined in V1.

May 28, 1926 Pickford

A reference to the internationally popular silent film star. Pickford was famously known as "America's Sweetheart" and "the girl with the curls."

May 28, 1926 Boromeso

Spelled “Boromesa” elsewhere in Stirling's journal. Hedberg refers to this tribe as the “Boramese,” “Boremesa,” or, “Boromesa.”

June 5, 1926 "Tuan Panjan"

Tuan is Malay for “owner, master, sir”; panjang means “long” in standard Indonesian but in eastern Indonesian dialects (where local languages sometimes do not distinguish the direction of length) the same word is used for both “long” (horizontal length) and “tall” (vertical length). Thus this phrase should be translated “the tall gentleman” (or more precisely, in this colonial environment, “the tall White Man”).

June 6, 1926 Kanagua, Masuka, Komeha, Red and Skillibooch

Friends from Stirling and le Roux’s separate trip of May 26-June 3 to Bisano.
See photos of "Papuans of Bisano"

June 11, 1926 TomanLinda

The name of this dayak chief is usually spelled (by both Stirling and Hedberg) as "Tomalinda." In this particular instance, in the original handwritten journal (V2) Stirling spells his name, "Toma Linda." Also, in a Sept 14th entry (V1 & V2) Stirling spells the name as "Tomanlian."

June 18, 1926 [sic]

Sic, = tidak kembali kapal terbang; besok, barangkali (Malay) “The airplane has not come back. Maybe [it will come back] tomorrow.”

June 19, 1926 klambus

The Malay word klambu means “mosquito net” (made into a plural in English by adding “s”). The word is now correctly spelled “kelambu,” but Stirling consistently spells it klambu.

June 22, 1926 Ujahn

See photo (Arb310) taken at Albatross Camp, where “Ujahn” or, “Ujan” stands on the far right. Stirling spells his name “Ujan” in his July 3rd and July 7th journal entries. He is also identified as “Ujan” in this photo (Arb310).

June 23, 1926 Posthumuos

Stirling usually spells his name “Posthumous,” while Hedberg always (correctly) spells it “Posthumus.” In this particular instance however, Stirling’s original handwritten (V2) journal appears to read “Posthumus.”

July 13, 1926 parang

Malay, "long knife or machete"

July 15, 1926 Oompah

Hedberg refers to Oompah as “our personal convict” and spells his name either as “Ompah,” “Umpah,” or “Oompah.”

July 16, 1926 panoramic photo

A selection of le Roux’s panoramic photos were published in vol. 3 of De Bergpapoea’s van Nieuw-Guinea en hun woongebied by C.C.F.M. le Roux (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1950).

July 18, 1926 Becker

Becker was a radio and motor boat operator on the expedition (see photo C088). In the same field notebook in which Stirling wrote his handwritten expedition journal (V2), on an otherwise blank page after the end of the journal, there is a note in Stirling’s hand consisting of 3 lines (each here separate by “/”) giving fuller information about Becker: “Mej L. Jansen Becker, Ruijghweg / 23 Den Helder, Holland / name & address of the radio operator.”

July 18, 1926 Idenberg and Van der Willigen rivers

Stirling consistently misspells the Idenburg river as "Idenberg" in his journal and on the expedition map; this river is today named the Taritatu. In 1926 the van der Willigen river was also named the "Tarikoe" (current spelling "Tariku"). Both names are shown for example on the 1:1000000 "Schetskaart van Niew Guinée" pocket insert in the Verslag van di militaire exploratie van Nederlandsch-Nieuw-Guinée 1907-1915 (Weltevreden: Landsdrukkerij, 1920). After western New Guinea became part of Indonesia in the 1960s, "Tariku" became the preferred official name for the Rouffaer river, although the latter name is commonly still used by villagers in the western Lakes Plain.

July 27, 1926 good sized river

Stirling later refers to this as the Brown River. Hedberg calls it the “Gentlemen of the Science River” or, simply the “unknown river.”
See photos from "Brown River"
See Film Selection #18

July 30, 1926 pisang ambon

A variety of banana, locally called pisang ambon “Ambon banana.”

August 4, 1926 bali bali [sic]

Sic, = balai-balai (Malay) “wooden or bamboo sleeping platform.”

August 6, 1926 "Dot"

“Dot” was a radio operator, also referred to as “Navy Sparks” by Stanley Hedberg.

August 9, 1926 "prow cuchil" [sic]

Sic, = perahu (or prau) kecil (Malay) “small boat.”

August 11, 1926 landed with the plane

Reference to May 15th flight.

August 26, 1926 Sian

Stanley Hedberg spells his name “Sain”

August 31, 1926 Jasper River

Also referred to as the Aeijabu River.

September 2, 1926 September 2

This date is also the only day for which substantial text from the journal of a Dutch member of the expedition has been published. C.C.F.M. le Roux included within his later book De Bergpapoua’s van Nieuw Guinea en hun woongebied (Le Roux 1948, vol. 1, p. 94-95) “a few passages regarding our trek into the little settlement of Tombe, among the Dem tribe,” quoting his own field journal about this contact.

September 3, 1926 camp

Referred to in other accounts as “Explorators Camp,” “Exploritors Camp,” or “Exploration Camp.” But, unlike Hedberg’s account, Stirling does not mention this camp’s name in his journal other than to refer to it as, “our camp by the gorge to Tombe.”

September 8, 1926 Damunaru

Stirling also spells this “Damuneru.” Stanley Hedberg spells this “Damunaro,” “Damoonarue,” “Damoonrau,” “Damanoorue,” “Damoonarus,” or “Damoonaru.”

September 8, 1926 Luwet

This name is also spelled “Luwit,” “Luwe,” “Louit,” “Lúwé,” or “Lu we.”

September 9, 1926 Igoon

Stanley Hedberg spells his name “Egoon,” or “Igoone.”

September 14, 1926 Agintawa

Stanley Hedberg spells this “Agentuwa,” “Agentuawa,” “Agentoowa,” “Agentoowah,” or “Aguintawa.”

September 24, 1926 Nogullo

Stanley Hedberg spells this “Nogolow.”

September 27, 1926 Towase

Stanley Hedberg spells this "Towasi" or "Towasse."

October 22, 1926 Ooabu

Stanley Hedberg spells this “Ocabu.”

October 25, 1926 Gulalalu

Stirling also spells this “Gulalu.” Stanley Hedberg spells this “Goolalew,” “Goolaloo,” or “Goulaloo.”

October 26, 1926 “Mudja”

Stanley Hedberg spells this “Muja.”

November 2, 1926 there

Stanley Hedberg records that a group of “Agintoowah” people visit them on Oct. 28, a discrepancy with Stirling’s account.

December 21, 1926 Bandoeng

Bandoeng (now spelled Bandung), in western Java.


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