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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/504

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

man of the town with three or four sticks of tobacco. I had not intended to make my present before morning; but, as I thought the opportunity a good one, I gave Beta an axe, a knife, and some pipes, matches, and a quantity of tobacco, and told him to present them with a suitable speech. Shortly afterward one of the men of the town stood up, and, leaning his two hands upon his tomahawk, returned thanks. Each man before commencing his speech gave a shrill scream, I suppose to attract attention, but the singing went on all the time. [A few days after this, eleven natives, consisting of six men, three women, two little girls, and a baby, arrived at Aola, being the sole survivors out of the thirty inhabitants. The town had been attacked at daylight two days after the author's visit, and the old chief, Tambougi, who had given the traveler the affectionate embrace, was among the killed.]

Natives of different parts of the group differ considerably from one another, but they belong to the Melanesian or Papuan type. The natives of Buka and Bougainville and of the islands of Bougainville Straits and of Choiseul are intensely black in color, but as one journeys eastward the color changes to a dark brown. They have woolly hair, but occasionally natives are met with wavy and in some cases straight hair. The men wear no clothes beyond the T-bandage usually met with among savage races, but frequently men are seen without even this. The natives of Alu, however, wear a small piece of calico round the waist. On San Cristoval and the more eastern islands the women wear a small plaited square of grass fiber, about six inches by four, which is suspended round the waist by a string and hangs down the front. Upon Malayta they wear the same, but one frequently sees women without even this. On Guadalcanar the women wear a series of fringes, one over the other, made out of some vegetable fiber resembling hemp. For working in they wear a similar fringe made out of a shredded banana-leaf. The dress of the women of Rubiana and the neighboring district was declared by Captain Cheyne, who visited the islands in 1846, to be indescribable. At Alu the women wore pieces of calico bought from the traders. These Solomon natives are not so addicted to the practice of tattooing as the lighter-colored Polynesians, probably because the pattern would not show so conspicuously upon their dusky skins. In San Cristoval, however, both men and women have frequently the face cut all over with a pattern of chevron-shaped cicatrices; and on Guadalcanar the same practice is in vogue, but the pattern takes the form of small circles, which are traced by a sharpened bone from the wing of the flying fox, and a small bamboo with the edge sharpened. The operation, which is completed at one sitting, is a particularly painful one, and the operator is highly paid for his trouble, tattooing being a profession.