Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/628

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shape of the skull, and other physical features, as well as in their usages and mental qualities. Several tribes approach the Indonesian type, as found in Borneo and Celebes, while others resemble the Malays, and are described by travelers as belonging to this race. But, although there is no ethnical uniformity, as seemed probable from the reports of the early explorers, the Papuan element, whence the great island takes the name of Papuasia, certainly predominates over all others.

On the whole the Papuans are somewhat shorter than the Polynesians, the average height being about sixty-two to sixty-four inches. They are well proportioned, lithe, and active, and display surprising skill both in climbing trees and in using the feet for prehensile purposes. Most Papuans have a very dark skin, but never of that shiny black peculiar to the Shilluks of the White Nile, the Wolofs of Senegal, and some other African peoples. The eyebrows are well marked, the eyes large and animated, the mouth large but not pouting, the jaw massive. Among the northwestern Papuans, regarded by Wallace as representing the type in its purity, the nose is long, arched, and tipped downward at the extremity, and this is a trait which the native artists never fail to reproduce in the human effigies with which they decorate their houses and boats. Another distinctive characteristic of numerous tribes is their so-called mop-heads, formed by superb masses of frizzly hair, no less abundant than that of the Brazilian Cafusos, and, as in their case, possibly indicating racial interminglings.

However backward they may be in other respects, most of the Papuans are endowed with a highly developed artistic feeling, and as carvers and sculptors they are far superior to most of the Malayan peoples. Having at their disposition nothing but bamboos, bone, banana-leaves, bark, and wood, they usually design and carve with the grain—that is, in straight lines. Nevertheless, with these primitive materials they succeed in producing extremely elegant and highly original decorative work, and even sculpture colossal statues representing celebrated chiefs and ancestors. Thanks to this talent, they are able to reproduce vast historic scenes, and thus record contemporary events. Numerous tribes have their annals either designed on foliage or depicted on rocks in symbolic writing. The skulls of the enemies slain in battle, which are carefully preserved to decorate the houses, are themselves often embellished with designs traced on masks made of wax and resin. On the banks of the Fly River these skulls are also used as musical instruments.

The island of Tasmania has already been completely "cleared" by the systematic destruction of its primitive inhabitants, who were estimated at about seven thousand on the arrival of the