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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/856

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NEW GUINEA


rs4


NEW GUINEA


Jnliiloo Rivor (navinalil.' hv wluilo h(i:i( 120 miles) and till- riy (ii:ivic:il)lc liy whale boat (iOO miles), both of which iliseharne into the tlulf of Papua. No impor- tant river is known to exist in the western section of the island, which is of course still a Icrra incognita.

The climate of New Guinea is characterized in gen- eral by its Kreat heat and humidity, and in the low- lyinp districts fever abounds. Although, generally speaking, the tem|ierature sel<lom rises above 104° in tlie southern portion, it rarely falls below 86°. The climate is, however, tempered by the regular winds from the south-<'ast and north-east, and at an altitude of ;iOOO feet above sea level is pleasantly cool. The amuial rainfall varies from 30 to 130 inches along the coiists, rain falling more abundantly in the north and north-east than along the southern seaboard. The difficulties of the climate are aggravated by the mos- quitoes and the leeches, whicli insinuate themselves through the most closely woven clothing and whose bite often occasions burning ulcers.

To the great uniformity seen in the geographical build of the island corresponds a general ethnical uni- formity among its inhabitants (see, however, "Journal of the Koval .\iilhropological Society of Great Britain and Irclaml", XXIX, London, 1909, pp. 246 sqq., 314 sq(i.). In the case of a country so vast and still so lit t le explored, we must confine ourselves to indicating the general characteristics of the inhabitants, piissing o\er the local differences which manifest themselves in the native customs and mode of life. The Papuans, as they are called (the name is unknown to themselves), belong to the ^Ielanian family: they are larger than the Malay, are dark brown or black in colour, have a smooth skin, narrow forehead, dark eyes, dolichoceph- alous skull, and prominent nose. Their black, natu- rally frizzled hair is usually artistically arranged. They wear a lavish number of bracelets (mostly of turtle-shell) on both upper and lower arms : these not only serve as a protection against arrows, but, accord- ing to their shape and colour, are employed by certain tribes as an outwartl token of mourning. Necklaces are also generally worn: they are usually made of rings of vegetable fibre or, in the case of the wealthier natives, of wild boar's teeth. The lower limbs are less usually adorned, except on festive occasions. Agricul- ture is as yet little developed; the natives depend for their sustenance mainly on their hunting (wild boar, opossum, crocodile, wild fowl), fishing, and the wild sago, which grows in the greatest abundance in the valleys and marshy lands and which is, according to the missionaries, largely responsible for the unprogres- sive character of the natives.

A cornparatively high sense of justice exists among the native tribes, each community possessing its strictly defined hunting and fishing grounds and sage fields. Many of the tribes are celebrated for their skill in boat-building. Commerce is carried on between the iiiaritime and inland tribes. The trading is not con- fined to mere exchange: wild boar's tusks, and in cer- tain districts bracelets and stone hatchets are accepted in payment. Of the greatest value and universally re- cognized as a medium of exchange are the small glass pins and jewelry. These are generally believed to be the profluct of the old Indian glassworkers, and the natives instantly detect modern productions, which are little valued. While cannibaUsm still exists on the island, the members of the same tribe or community live together in the greatest peace. In general the strictest endogamy is practised, and there are certain well-defined degrees of relationship within which mar- riage is forbidden. The wife, for whom payment is almost always made to her relatives, attends not only to the household work, but also to the the rude agricul- ture practised: all observers testify to the kind man- ner in which wives are treated, and to the modesty and high moral character of the Papuan women in general. Though with no definite views concerning a deity, the


Papuan believes in another s<'lf or soul, which deserts the body temporarily during sleep and finally after death. Diseiuse and ilrath never result from natural causes: they are always the result of evil spirits, act- ing either directly or through a poisoner. Against the.se evil influences talismans (mostly pieces of carved wood, crocodile teeth, etc.) are carried. The na- tive weapons are the bow and arrow, knives of bam- boo, stone clubs, spears, and hardwood shields and clubs.

New Guinea is divided politically into the Dutch, German, and Engli.sh protectorates, the last two being known officially as Kaiserwilhclinsland and the Terri- tory of Papua. In 1SS4 Great Britain proclaimed its protectorate over the south-eastern ))i)rtion of the island, and in 1SS5, after (ierniany had annexed the north-eastern section, the deliniitaticpn of the territo- ries of the two countries was elTecfcd by the Anglo- German treaty of that year, Holland retaining the portion of the island west of 141° E. long. The boun- dary line between the German and British sections runs from 5° S. lat. at, the 141st meridian E. to 8° on the coast. The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of May, 1895, confirmed the western boundary. The area of the British territory is 90,540 sq. miles; its population about 500,000 natives and 1250 whites. Cocoa-nuts, rubber, sisal hemp, Mirya fibre, coffee, tea, and to- bacco are cultivated. The forests contain valuable timbers (sandal-wood, etc.); gold is found in the Louisiade Archipelago, on the mainland, and on Wood- lark Island. The four ports of entry are Port Moresby, Samarai, Daru, and Bonagai. The German territory has an area of about 70,000 sq. miles, and a population of 110,000 (?) natives and 391 foreigners (184 white). Its development is entrusted to the German New Guinea Company, but its administration is under- taken by the Imperial Government. The principal ports are Berlinhafen and Konstantinhafen. Areca and sago palms, bamboos, ebony, and other woods abound: coco-palms and caoutchouc are grown on the small area yet under cultivation. Gold has been recently discovered on the Bismarck Mountains. Dutch New Guinea has an area of 150,000 sq. miles; its population is estimated purely conjecturally at 262,000. Although it is considered by some authori- ties the richest part of the island, very little attempt has been made to develop it. Extensive coal-fields exist near the north-western coast. The principal settlement is Merauke. The fauna of New Guinea is very poor in mammals; only about seventy-five spe- cies are known, the most important being the wild boar, rat, mouse, bat, opossum, and crocodile. The avifauna is, on the other hand, both numerous and various, and includes among the five hundred known species many (such as the celebrated bird of paradise) which are peculiar to New Guinea and some other islands in this region.

Mission History. — On 1 July, 1885, the first Cath- olic priest. Father Verjus, set foot on Papuan soil. He devoted himself immediately to the care of the sick and the study of the native language, but was soon compelled to withdraw in consequence of the opposition of the Protestant missionaries and the pressure they brought to bear on the British authori- ties. A change of governors allowed the return of the Catholic missionaries, and on 1 May, 1889, British New Guinea was erected into a vicariate Apostolic and Father Navarre appointed vicar Apostolic. He introduced the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Issoudun, who rendered valuable assistance by instructing the native girls, taking charge of the churches and chapels, and even founding stations in the interior. On 12 Sept., 1889, Father Verjus was named Bishop of Limyra and coadjutor to Mgr Navarre. The task of conversion is attended with great difficulty, as the adult native, though he shows no resentment to his religious customs being ridiculed, obstinately adheres