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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/711

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A CORNER OF THE DUTCH EAST INDIES.

About one third of the population are Mohammedans, and these are increasing every year, through the influence of Arabs and of natives who have returned as hadjis from Mecca. These men are worshiped to a certain extent by their inferior-stationed fellow-believers, and exercise such an influence upon them as to be kept for the rest of their lives in food and clothes.

The indigenes of Key are tall, strongly built, having the forehead broad and slanting backward, dark eyes with heavy black lashes, a large but well-shaped nose, high cheek-bones, and broad mouth, with the under lip more or less projecting, black and brown colored beard, and long, wavy, but fine curled black hair, mixed with several lighter or darker shades of brown, reaching to the shoulder and projecting all round the head like a mop. Their skin is rather dark, but of a lighter hue than that of the Papuans of New Guinea. Formerly, their clothing was the same as that used by the Alfueros of Ceram and Borneo; but, since the establishment of the European colony, both their clothing and manner of living have become more elaborate. Mixtures have taken place between some of them and the Papuans of New Guinea, resulting in the formation of a stock which is found in all parts of the islands.

The natives live in huts built on poles of strong and hard timber or thick bamboo; and a very few houses of chiefs are constructed of timber. The huts are built several feet above the ground, for protection against the swarms of vermin that come up during the southwest monsoon, and to secure a free current of air and consequent coolness. The sides of these houses are covered in either by attap, which consists of the dried leaves of the sago palm doubled over a small bamboo about six feet long and laced tightly to it by means of split cane; or with the stems of the same palm-leaf, which, after being drilled and deprived of their thorns, are placed vertically between two boards in such a way that the hollow part of the stem fits tightly over the half-rounded part of the succeeding one. In this way a very light but watertight outside covering is formed, and gives to the house a not unpleasant appearance, for the dried stems exhibit a brown gloss, as if they were polished. The doorway, in the middle of the front of the house, leads into a spacious room, which represents the reception-room for visitors. On the floor of this room, which is covered with split-bamboo matting of rather wide meshes, are spread out other mats, made of fine grass or bark. Belonging to each mat is a bolster, with a cover of bright calico print, having its ends ornamented with embroidery. From each side of the reception-room are openings leading into the other rooms. These rooms are divided into sitting and bed rooms, and they are adorned with fancy colored boxes made out of palm-leaves, and