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Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas

The better-class canoes are made more comfortable by the addition of a plank as a wall along the top of the slit on each side, fixed to it by boring and lashing, and kept in position by occasional crosspieces. The seats are then lashed to the top of this wall or bulwark, which is about a foot high.

A light framework or platform is fixed across the outrigger poles on which to carry luggage, food, babies, and other such odds and ends.

The canoe is paddled by one man sitting in the stern facing the bows, and any other passengers would also paddle in the same way from their seats.

Most of the Kanaka canoes have fine ornaments carved out of wood as figureheads on the bow and stern. Captain Cook in the log of his voyages among the Pacific Islands describes the native canoes, and they don’t seem to have altered in the smallest detail since. He wrote his description in 1772.

A Sing-Sing War Dance

We were lucky in being in New Guinea about the time of the full moon, for this is the time when, at certain seasons of the year, the Papuans and Kanákas carry out their dances. We were able to see three of these.

In one there were about twenty men dressed up to the nines. Not that they had much clothing on, but they had splendid big head-dresses made out of all sorts of feathers, including the magnificent tails of birds of paradise, which live in New Guinea. Their arms, necks, and legs, and in many cases their cars and noses, were decorated with jewellery made from carved oyster shells and boars’ teeth.

To add to their appearance they had decorated themselves with branches of croton, which is a kind of laurel with brilliant yellow and red leaves. And every man had a little drum which he held in one hand and beat with the other.

The central man was really fine. He was covered in wreaths and greenery so that you could scarcely see him, and on his head was a model of a native ship done on a pretty big scale with a mast made out of a rattan cane about ten feet high. He danced and made the ship toss about with a wonderful swaying motion of the mast, and the other men all danced round him singing and drumming and swaying their head-dresses with the same wavy motion. They looked fine.

A Sing-Sing dancer wears a wonderful head-dress of feathers with a model of a native ship on top.

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