Characteristics of the Dory Papuans (Biak-Numfor) Part 2 - Manfasramdi
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Characteristics of the Dory Papuans (Biak-Numfor) Part 2


Doreri, Manokwari

Food and Luxuries.—The Dory people subsist chiefly on millet, yams, maize, or Indian corn, a little rice obtained from the traders, fish, pork, and fruit of several varieties, including cocoa-nuts, plantains, and papayas. Sago is not much used, and salt is considered unneces sary as a condiment. Chewing the siri, or betel-leaf, is very generally practised; and when not otherwise employed, they are incessantly smoking small segars, made of tobacco rolled up in a piece of pandan-leaf. This herb is grown in the mountains, and is of very good quality, and so cheap, that a roll of several pounds' weight can be obtained in exchange for a knife, a few strings of beads, or an earthenware cup.

Disease.—They appear to be rarely afflicted by severe sickness. Cases of disease of the organs of respiration, dysentery, slight fever, elephantiasis, and several other cutaneous diseases, more especially ichthyosis, were observed by Mr. Bruijn Kops. Small-pox and syphilis appear to be unknown. Herbs and the bark of trees are used as medicines, both externally and internally, but surgical cases are always left to the operations of nature.

Habitations and Household Gear.—The chief village, called Lonfabe (Rumfabe), consists of thirty-three houses, each of which is from sixty to seventy feet long, twenty to twenty-five feet wide, and from twelve to fifteen feet high. They are erected upon wooden piles, extending beyond the level of low water ; and during high tides, the sea rises up to the floor of the houses. A stage or platform, also on piles, affords access from the shore. The sides are composed of wooden planks, and the roof is thatched with atap, or marsh flags. A passage about ten feet wide runs along the centre of the building throughout its length, and on each side are chambers and store-rooms partitioned off with mats. The end nearest the sea is left open on three sides, and here the male inhabitants are generally to be found, when at home, making and repairing their implements and fishing gear, or lying down smoking tobacco.

Cooking is performed in the inner rooms, each of which is provided with a small fire-place. The floors are of rough spars, placed close together, which cannot be traversed safely by those unaccustomed to them. Sometimes as many as twenty men, in addition to the wives and families of the married portion, occupy a single house. The furniture consists of light boxes of palm-leaves, or of a bark which resembles that of the birch-tree, very neatly made, and ornamented with black and red figures and small shells, in which they keep their clothes and valuables;—also hunting and fishing gear, arms, and implements, earthen pots for cooking or holding food, wooden mortars for husking rice and maize, and sleeping mats and pillows—the mats being very neatly made, and ornamented with figures of bright black and red. The pillows consist of smooth circular blocks of wood, resting on short feet, which are usually hand somely carved.

Arts and Agriculture.—The natives understand the art of working iron, the forge consisting of a bellows composed of two large bamboos about four feet long, from which the air is expelled by means of two pistons, with bunches of feathers at the end, which are worked like those of hand-pumps; and by raising each alternately, a constant current of air is expelled through the orifices at the bottom, from which small tubes lead to the fireplace. This instrument is identical with the bellows in use among the brown races of the Archipelago, from whom it may have been borrowed. A stone serves for an anvil; but the natives often have in their possession a pig of iron ballast, or a piece of a broken anchor, which answers the purpose much better. They also manufacture rings, bracelets, and ear ornaments of metal, chiefly copper and silver ; and a portion of the Spanish dollars obtained from the French surveying ships, ' Astrolabe' and ' ZeleV in exchange for commodities, have been used for this purpose. They are skilful weavers of mats, but are unacquainted with the use of the loom. 

Their plantations, or rather gardens, for a very small space is sufficient for the few articles they cultivate, are formed by cutting down and burning off the jungle, and enclosing the cleared space with a strong fence of bamboo to keep out the wild pigs, which are very numerous. The ground is prepared for planting with the aid of sharp stakes, and after the seeds are put in, the garden is visited at intervals for the purpose of removing the weeds which would otherwise impede the growth of the plants. The people of Dory do not rear either poultry or pigs, but the natives of the interior have domesticated the large crowned pigeons, which are reared in considerable numbers. They also breed pigs, but the latter can scarcely be considered as thoroughly domesticated, as they are sometimes dangerous to handle when full grown.

Arms and Implements.—Their weapons are bows and arrows, lances or throwing spears, and klewangs or swords, the blades of which are of the razor form. The parang, or chopping-knife, which is also shaped like the blade of a razor, may be considered as a weapon, as it is constantly worn in a sheath at the waist, and is always at hand in cases of emergency. The bows are between six and seven feet long, and are made of bamboo, or a tough kind of redwood, and are provided with a string of rattan. The arrows are four or five feet long, and those used for war are generally furnished with iron heads, which they manufacture themselves. They are never poisoned; in fact, no New Guinea tribe at least, appears to be acquainted with the art. Iron axes, which are imported, are used for felling trees and shaping planks and canoes.

Their fishing implements are bows and arrows of a lighter construction than those used for war, and spears with forked points of iron provided with barbs. A long line is attached to the spears when they are used for striking large fish. They also use a fish trap, made of basket-work, the entrance to which is formed like those of wirerat-traps, rattans being substituted for the elastic wire, the points closing together after admitting the fish, and preventing him from getting out again. These fish-traps are sunk in deep water by means of stones attached to the bottom ; and a line, with a buoy of bamboo at one end, is fastened to the upper part, for the purpose of raising it to take out the fish.

Navigation and Commerce.—Their canoes or prahus are made from the trunk of a single tree, and some are sufficiently large to require twenty rowers when fully manned. They carry a sail of matting which is suspended from a mast, forming a tripod, with two feet fixed to the side with pins, on which they work like hinges, and the third is slipped over a hook, fastened near the stem. The third foot, which also acts as a stay, is not a fixture, and is unhooked when it is required to strike the mast, which then lies over the thwarts of the prahu, and can be raised again in an instant. The canoes used on ordinary occasions are small and light, and can easily be carried by two men. Even the children have their little canoes, which they carry to and from the water without difficulty. Their vessels, the largest of which are so narrow that they would capsize if not provided with outriggers, are only adapted for home use, so that their foreign commerce is entirely in the hands of strangers, chiefly Chinese from Ternate. An English gentleman, Captain Deighton, who has long been resident in the Moluccas, has also been in the habit of making annual visits to the trading stations on the shores of the Great Bay for the last thirty years, and his ship is almost the only European vessel engaged in the trade. 

The high estimation in which he is held by the natives is noticed on several occasions by Mr. Bruijn Kops, indeed, he appears to be the only check on the rapacity of the Tidore tribute-collectors, who have often been restrained from committing their atrocities by a dread that Mr. Deighton would report the circumstance to the government of the Moluccas. The articles obtained by the traders are chiefly trepangpx sea-slug ; tortoise-shell, which is of excellent quality ; massoi, and other odoriferous barks; and mother-of-pearl shell ; the articles given in exchange being blue and red calico, sarongs or native cloths, brass wire, parangs or chopping-knives, china cups and basins, and different kinds of hardware. The produce is chiefly adapted for the markets of China, and a considerable portion finds its way to Macassar and Singapore, whence a direct trade is carried on with that empire.

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