The New York Times, March 30, 1919:|
THE PHENOMENON OF CANNIBALISMWhy Certain Savages Are Fond of Human Flesh
Observations Made of the Horrible Custom in New Guinea
The following article from the pen of a missionary appeared in The London Express...
That cannibalism is still practiced in British New Guinea after over thirteen years of sovereignty is no reflection on the Lieutenant Governor and his magistrates, says the Bishop of New Guinea. With an area of 90,000 square miles on the mainland and 300 islands in proximity, and a force of 150 Papuan police, it is wonderful that it is limited to so few districts. It is safe to prophesy that in five years' time it will be unknown within this portion of the Empire.
It is just four years ago since I was first brought face to face with this gruesome practice. Scene, the northeast coast, 150 miles away from any Government station...
In front of us a native grass hut with the skull and other bones of a victim of a cannibal feast hung up as spoils of war over the door, and the "consumer" justifying his action in the limited vocabulary that we possessed in common. He was a big-framed man, with nothing but a piece of cloth round his loins, a garment hammered out of the bark of the paper mulberry tree. He had a portentously big mouth, and he showed this to its full extent with a splendidly sound set of teeth and a tongue blood-red from the juice of the betel-nut.
He then stroked his gullet up and down with one hand, as with the other he pointed to the remains of his vanquished foe hanging over the door of his hut. "The Government says it's wrong, and the missionaries say it's wrong, but it is very good!" This was his plea for cannibalism. He knows better now, does my village friend...
The year 1901 was marked by a heavy roll of victims to cannibalism. Whether the number exceeded those of previous years may be questioned. Each year, at any rate, we know better what is going on. Still, the fact that there were four white victims marked last year unenviably.
In February a party of diggers were making their way inland to the Yodda gold field, over some desperate country that experience alone can help one to realize, when they were cut off by a crowd of savages. Two were killed and eaten, another, a German, got away, but died a day or two afterward of exhaustion. The remains of the unfortunate men were found, and a party of their mates went out into the district and made horrible reprisals...
JUST A BAD HABIT
But why do these cannibal feasts take place? Is it pure savagery, or is it a natural craving for animal food which cannot be satisfied in any other way?... It is, in fact, not easy to get materials for a definite conclusion at all.
When natives are in the cannibalistic state we are not sufficiently in touch with them to know their language and discuss it thoroughly. By the time we are able to converse fluently with them they have abandoned the practice, and when this habit is once given up I know nothing that the Papuan is soon ashamed of, and being ashamed of, does not care to discuss.
Besides, he is not accustomed to think out the reasons for doing a thing, and probably never had a reasoned reason, or thought why he did it, till we asked him. All we can get out of the villager, in answer to the question why he eats man, is such replies as: "It's flesh," "It's very good," or "It's our custom..."
The Papuan rebounds from severe agriculture, and goes on a raid. Having raided and killed, he consumes, as a natural consequence, because the "flesh is very sweet." He eats it as he would eat pig.
It is smoked on the fire and dismembered in just the same way. Then it is wrapped round in green leaves and tied up with bine and carried home in little parcels on poles. The pole is balanced on the man's shoulder, and the little bundles decorate the poles on each side of the man's shoulder. The boys and girls eat it at once. Their parents put it before them, and they really do not inquire if it is pig or man. They eat it just the same...
The idea that it is due to the natural craving for flesh meat is not borne out by my New Guinea experience, for the river district, where cannibalism is most prevalent in that land, is the area where native pig does most abound. The rivers have only to be somewhat flooded, and the pigs are driven on to the higher ground, where they are easily speared...
The New York Times, February 4, 1923, p.SM6:|
Dark Mysteries of Papua
...One may call it New Guinea, and one may recognize it as the jumping-off place, the end of the world...
The country was discovered in 1511 by Antonio de Abrega, and the subsequent 300 years that saw conquest after conquest, civilization after civilization, rise and fall in neighboring Malaysia, that saw Australia discovered, settled, partly civilized, left never a mark on the great dark island lying north of New Holland.
In convict days a few escaped criminals, almost as savage as the New Guinea natives themselves, found their way to the unknown country, but most of them met with a speedy end. It was not until the last quarter of the nineteenth century that the coastline of the southern side was mapped out completely. And it was not until twenty years later that any kind of settlement began, though stray traders, officials and missionaries had been for some time resident in the country.
Today the white people residing in the section known as Papua—formerly British New Guinea—number less than 1,000, although the area of Papua is 90,000-odd square miles, and the country is 800 miles long. The whole island... of New Guinea, including the Dutch-owned half, and British newly acquired [formerly German] territory, is 235,000 square miles, 1,500 miles in length, with 430 miles at the widest part.
Australia took over the government of the country in 1906, and it is only fair to acknowledge that it has done better with it than England did in the crown colony days. White settlement and population have increased, many thousand acres of virgin forest have been cleared and planted with rubber, cocoanuts and other tropic cultures; the natives have been pacific all 'round the coastline and for considerable distances inland.
Towns have arisen; steamship services, not perhaps the best, have been kept running at fairly regular intervals. Hospitals have been built, Government doctors appointed. Roads have been made here and there, as funds permitted. Civilization, at last, has touched New Guinea.
But she still resists; she is still the Dark Island, the untamable, the unknown. It takes much money to explore her enormous mountain ranges, rising 13,000 feet in height; her torrential rivers, broken with hundreds of rapids and waterfalls; to prospect, amid incredible difficulties, for the gold and the osmiridium, the gems, the oil, the coal, known to exist in their interior. Australia has not got the money; the country must be, and is, run with the strictest, most pinching, economy...
see also: Indonesia News - New Caledonia - Fiji - Australia - New Zealand|
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Papua New Guinea News
Papua New Guinea: The eastern half of the island of New Guinea--second largest in the world--was divided between Germany (north) and the UK (south) in 1885. The latter area was transferred to Australia in 1902, which occupied the northern portion during World War I and continued to administer the combined areas until independence in 1975.
A nine-year secessionist revolt on the island of Bougainville ended in 1997 after claiming some 20,000 lives.
CIA World Factbook: Papua New Guinea
Area of Papua New Guinea:
462,840 sq km
slightly larger than California
Population of Papua New Guinea:
July 2009 estimate
Languages of Papua New Guinea:
Melanesian Pidgin serves as lingua franca
English spoken by 1%-2%
Motu spoken in Papua region
715 indigenous languages many unrelated
Papua New Guinea Capital:
Taming New Guinea Monckton 1921
Unexplored New Guinea Beaver 1920
In far New Guinea Newton 1914
Pygmies & Papuans Wollaston 1912
Scented Isles and Coral Gardens Mackellar 1912
The Mafulu Mountain People Williamson 1912
British New Guinea Thomson 1892
Explorations... in New Guinea Strachan 1888
Pioneering in New Guinea Chalmers 1887
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