Written By Amecanthys Loercio,
High Priest of the Andalonian church of Taklamar.
In the good year of 3475After Andalon.
THE object of this work is to preserve, before civilization has made them obsolete, the traditions and customs of the aboriginal natives of the Ankorillian Islands of the Western Sun Ocean—particularly those of the main Island Ankalune as accurately as possible, based upon upwards of twenty years’ observation. Since the discovery of gold and the consequent influx of population the natives cannot carry out their traditions as they used to do—most of the young men being in the employment of our Empire Taklamar, prefer to imitate us, caring little or nothing for their elders’ teachings. So it is merely a matter of time when they will become extinct. It is quite probable that the curse of drink, supplanting of children by mixed races will eventually together with the slaves taken by the mainland cause them to die out, for it is reasonable to suppose that few intellectual persons will find companionship in the natives, so they merely gain the evil part of the Main Land element from those who do associate closely with them.
Before I begin outright I will provide for the reader the short story of how I got to the Ankorillian islands and how I survived among them for twenty years.
I came to the Ankorillian Islands with the first expedition ever to set foot upon these beautiful spots of green in the vast Sun-Ocean. I came along as a priest and scholar.
My intensions were to have a glimpse of lands untouched by civilization, before civilization crush the lands under it’s mighty fist.
When we first set our feets upon the shores we were indeed lucky. Little did we know that we had picked the area of the Booa-Un tribe which is the most peaceful.
A few of us remained as our ships headed back too Taklamar with some gold to prove for the King the islands worth.
The others died rather quickly, of jungle fever and other strange diseases.
My last companion wandered off into the deep jungles toward the Volcanic Mountain. Intent on finding some holy caves that the natives tell off. Made by another people they say, long ago. I have seen the overgrown ruins in the jungles from time too time, so I know they speak the truth. But alas, he never came back.
During the years to follow I witnessed the decay and struggle of the natives. Everything from war, slave taking and disease. Always watching, from within. I never revealed myself to my fellow Taklamarians. Were I to include every detail about my life here amongst the natives It would require a whole book in itself. And perhaps, one day, safe on the mainland I might write it.
Now, after twenty years of recording, I’m going home.
IT is a strange revelation to find that the natives believe in a common Creator, and that their race sprang from one man and woman. There is no mistake that this it; their belief. Their Creator’s name is Ma-Hai-A. They allow that he has a wife, who gave birth to the first couple sent to populate the earth. When their God saw that this earth was tit for man. and that all animal life and fishes were plentiful, He caused an immense whirlwind, which reached from Heaven to earth, and sent down him son and daughter with full instructions in all manner of ceremonies. They were to name their children by four tribal names—Ban-Aka, Booa-Un, Ueh-An , Yo-Mea—and thus observe the marriage laws. They were to strictly follow out His commands, and when they died, their and their children’s spirits would be received into heaven.
They were given control over the fishes of the waters, the birds of the air, all animals, insects, and every living thing—that by a ceremony of will they could cause them to multiply and increase, they and their children for ever; and they were to set apart a hallowed spot called Maryo for this purpose. Their God gave the men spears, throwing stick, and shields for protection and purposes of hunting; to the women he gave wooden scoops and paper bark from the Cajea tree for the gathering of seeds and other uses. They were given power even over rain, and provision was made that every food they possessed should be held for the common good. As a covenant of God’s promises they were to circumcise their young men at the age of fourteen years, and if they failed to carry out these laws He would be angry with them, and cause their children to fight against each other; whilst for breaking the marriage laws they should be killed by their own kindred. But their God would never forsake them, and would receive their spirit. It thus appears from their showing that they are the direct children of the Creator, who is all merciful to them, and that for any evil doing they are punished on earth alone. It must not be thought that their worship in any way resembles ours. On the contrary, all their modes are wild and barbaric, and so far as I can gather they do not worship Him in the same sense as we do. They have only to carry out the commands given by God to His children, and since they do not hold that their first parents sinned against Him in any way, they do not pray for forgiveness; for their wrong doings they are punished by their elders alone, and if they choose to overlook them they are forgiven. They know nothing of any Fall such as the eating of the forbidden fruit. At the same time although they do not at present have any direct form of worshipping Him, it is quite possible in ages past they had, and have fallen away in this respect; the Maryo ceremony (dealt with elsewhere), the marriage laws, the circumcision, and others seem to indicate that they had. They do not worship the moon, stars, sun, or any images. So since they still, through tradition handed down from generations, hold that they are the Creator’s own children and will return to Him in spirit, they must hold Him in respect though they do riot fear Him. Although at times they are cruel to each other, yet they are in general equally as kind as are we. The name of an angel is Mulu-Garra—dwelling both on earth and heaven. They define heaven as space.
They also have strong belief in the spirit world both for good and evil. When the spirit has departed from the body it is called “Oo-doo,” and the body is called “Oodi.” Although strange, some of their magicians maintain that they are able to leave their bodies in a trance, and in spirit visit other lands and converse with long-departed spirits.
A Nude People.
THE natives in their wild state have no covering for their bodies and are perfectly nude, possessing no shame. As ornament they fasten rats’ tails*, or twist and spin up their relatives’ hair, with which they dress their own, binding it together at the back of the head to prevent it from falling over their eyes, as they wear their hair long and greasy, rubbing whale fat, etc., on it. This hair dress is not at all picturesque. For, owing to continual grease and dirt it forms into knots, each often matted into five pounds weight, as they have no substitute for a comb. They also dress their beard in a similar manner. They spin hair into belts, in which they hang small game, birds, etc., when hunting. They are particularly fond of greasing their bodies and rubbing on decayed ironstone (ochre), white chalk, and char. coal. They also use these in painting their shields, and as colouring for all purposes.
*The rat tails are a relative new trend within their society since it was our first that brought rat’s to the Ankorillian Islands.
WHEN a death occurs in the camp the men and women throw themselves on the ground, run a few paces, and prostrate themselves again, beating their heads with shells and stones,—the men using the ends of their throwing-sticks, in each of which is set a piece of flint for cutting purposes with spinifex wax called Sha-Omo.It is quite usual to see streams of blood pouring from their heads. They lie upon the body to signify they would like to restore life. The near relatives cut off and keep the deceased’s hair, often dressing their own hair and beard with it. In memorial they gather round and cry every time that stage of the moon returns, as they mark the time by new and full moon. This is done every month until the season changes, as although they cannot count, they know the periods of summer and winter—not only by the heat and cold, but by the difference in the vegetation.
They have no regular hour of burial. The body is placed in a grave about four feet deep, generally in a sitting posture facing the direction of its birthplace, and is covered over with paper bark. Then the grave is filled in with earth. If the deceased bas been a good warrior they encircle the grave with boughs and decorated with a few relies. All men attending the burial are in war paint, and on some occasions the body is similarly dressed. If the deceased has been a good sportsman they often place his body among the rocks, and after a time his family circle gather and keep in their possession his small bones, which are supposed to impart to them his skill in hunting. The near relations, as a semblance of mourning, refrain from eating fish or meats, unless the latter is a very small portion. This they call being “Fas-Ta-Na” until the season has passed, when one of the elders terminates the observance by rubbing them across the mouth with a piece of flesh, when the fast is broken.
On some occasions all the elders are through unavoidable causes not present at the death and burial, and on their arrival a very interesting display of sympathy is witnessed. The visitor, who is fully armed but not in war
paint, approaches within about thirty yards of the camp and awaits the coming of an elder, who is likewise armed. They assume attitudes of defiance, and parley over the cause of death until the visitor is in possession of all the circumstances. They then drop their weapons and rush into each other’s arms, weep together in a loud voice, and finally the younger thrusts his hand under the thigh of the elder, whilst the relatives gather round and offer their legs to the visitor to spear. He takes his spear and after a mock attack touches or pricks their legs with the point. Sometimes, however, if he finds anyone is directly responsible for the death, the visitor spears him severely. The women gather with their visitors, sitting in a close circle on the ground, crying loudly together, and striking each other gently on the neck. They sing no chants or songs in connection with a death or burial.
The following are the native names for relatives:-
“Teua” or “Yara”—Aunt
“An-Maoa”—Woman without children
“Boothong”—Woman that has had children
IN order to follow the life of the natives it is advisable to commence from their birth. It is wonderful how hardy the native women as a rule are. During the hottest part of the day they can be found pounding at grass seeds out in the open without covering of any kind, and as cooking is required in the preparation of the seeds they have the heat of the fire in addition to that of the blazing sun. Thus they labour in all conditions of life, and usually right up to the time of their confinement. Immediately preceding confinement they are accompanied while gathering grass seeds by an elderly woman. They seldom rest before, arid walk a mile or two after the infant is born, back to their camp, and rarely ever suffer any ill-effects. The child when newly-born is of a light copper colour, but after a few hours it is covered with grease and charcoal to keep the skin soft and prevent suffering from exposure.
It is usually covered with and carried in Cajea bark. There is a small cry amongst the rest of the women in camp, and their nearest neighbours always pay the mother a visit as soon as the tidings reach them, bringing gifts of seeds or whatever they may have. It must be borne in mind that the natives generally live in families at various intervals of a few miles down the course of each river and its creeks; while some journey down others go up to the next waters; in fact they are small families constantly moving camp a few miles in any direction they please. The same freedom is a characteristic feature of the natives throughout. The parents are very fond of their children, and indulge their every fancy. They never chastise them, and the child often strikes its mother. I have seen children fully four years old still nourished by nursing. They have no toys, but their parents bring them small birds, etc., to play with, which they torture greatly to their parents’ delight. The girls when about five years of age are promised to some man as wife by their parents, and it is quite surprising how quickly they grow up, budding into womanhood at about twelve. The children are all very happy, and learn to swim when very young. Their life in general is made up of one long holiday, with little to mark the days excepting stories brought in by the young men from the hunting fields. When the elders meet, the children are gathered round to pay attention to ancient stories and traditions, and thus they are preserved through ages. Up to about the age of fourteen the boys are allowed to eat anything, but they are now recognized as young men and have to go through the initiation of manhood, which they call “Shollo-Po” known to us as circumcision.
A Maryo is a stone or a pile of stones set apart as a hallowed spot, dedicated to the ceremony of willing that certain things such as children, birds, animals, insects, frogs, reptiles, fishes, and grass seeds, etc., be made to multiply and increase, each living thing having a separate Maryo, all of which belong to the head of each family, as master of the craft, descending from father to son. To make it clear, however, say that a family of the Ban-Aka tribe had the Maryo of the eagle hawk, and wished them to multiply. They must journey to that shrine; for it cannot be done elsewhere. The head of the family may be accompanied by any number of Ban-Aka, men he pleases to take part in the ceremony, but the spell would be broken if any members of the other three tribes came to the spot. When the elder Ban-Aka dies, this Maryo would then descend to his sons, the eldest in particular,who would, of course, be of the Booa-Un tribe, which would then have control in the Ban-Aka stead. Each of the Ban-Aka, Booa-Un, and Yo-Mea tribes have other Maryo’s dedicated to their care, and do not intrude upon each other when such a mission is in hand. They have not the power to will a decrease in these things, and can only cause an increase. When a disease breaks out upon the young children they place them in a special spot set apart for the purpose in the hope that it may atone for and avert the evil. This place is kept covered with Cajea bark. They all have a different ceremony in willing each thing required; in some they hammer the cairn or boulder with other round stones and go through many speeches but being an outsider I unfortunately could not induce them to go through the ceremony whilst I was present. They carry with them when on this mission whatever weapons or utensils are used in gathering or procuring the thing to be willed. For instance, if they are willing grass seeds they take wooden scoops; if Jungle Deer, spears; if turkeys, nets, etc. They all dress differently, and make free use of feathers, charcoal, and white and red clays. The women also take part and inherit these Maryos.
THEIR mode of fighting is most cruel. They have long spears barbed in rows and, sometimes double rows for one foot from the point. In the case of a quarrel between two men, they stand about 20 paces apart, and each throws his spears at the other’s thighs. For warding off these spears each warrior has a shield made of light wood, which is used with the utmost dexterity. After a few turns they close in, and each man offers first his left thigh to the other to be stabbed with the larger spear. This they continue in turns, and the one who falls first is the vanquished, but often the combat ends in a free fight in which many men are wounded. The relatives grow angry and resentful as the combat proceeds, and then clubs, firesticks, stones, etc., as well as spears are used. The victims are sometimes crippled for a few weeks and suffer greatly. Charcoal is rubbed over the wounds to keep the flies off.
The fragments of the spears which have broken off in the flesh cause festers, but the rapidity with which the wounds heal is marvellous. In these “camp fights” it is the law to avoid spearing each other above the thigh, though of course in tribal battles or war this does not apply.
The natives are divided into many tribes, having their boundaries defined. They are in constant dread of being killed and do not allow that any man dies from natural causes, holding that his death is occasioned by the evil spirit or witchcraft of some other tribe, which must be revenged. No doubt by this means they keep the fighting strength of the tribes fairly equal. The method of deciding which tribe has, worked this spell is as follows: All the warriors gather round at a cleared patch of ground, dressed in full war paint—that is, their bodies greased, then red ochre daubed all over with occasional strips of white down feathers in the hair, red being the predominant color. A lock of hair taken from the dead man’s head is curled and twisted up tightly by one of the magicians, who after a lengthy address suddenly releases the hair, which owing to the twisting it has received spins round in all directions. The victim for revenge is considered to be located in the direction which the pointed end of the hair finally indicates. The warriors accordingly set out, and will travel for days, gathering strength as they go. The other tribes, upon hearing of this, all muster for protection; and should the two armies meet by mischance there is a battle. But this the avengers try to avoid, as their mission is to kill one man isolated from the rest and who is in all probability quite unaware of their loss.
The natives’ physicians are supposed to be able to cure their illnesses and drive away the evil spirits of other tribes, providing they have not used any exceptional witchcraft. When his attendance is required the physician stands over the patient and groans aloud, and then makes a noise resembling the hushing of a child to sleep. Next, he stands with one foot upon the affected part, and then briskly rubs and squeezes it with his hands. When he considers this massage has been sufficient he puts his mouth over the affected part and proceeds to draw out the evil spirit, calling it a “Ya-Ma-Am.” After all the evil spirits have been drawn out he runs some distance with them in his hand and carefully buries them; then be returns, puts his hand to his side, draws out a good spirit, and inserts it into the patient. The physician makes a clicking noise presumably with his finger nails—which the natives of course believe is the spirit being drawn out. When they have rheumatism, neuralgia, or headache they bind the affected part with runners or creepers, but have very few decoctions of herbal remedies.
The natives tell me that the tribes used to wage war against each other, the victors taking away the women and children, and that there are many battlefields scattered over the Ankorillian Islands. The weapons used were spears, shields, and clubs and plenty more. Many would be slain on the field, and the weaker side would have to flee for their lives. As they took no prisoners and gave no quarter, all the wounded enemy would be slain, and parts of them eaten, whilst their women would be taken captive. Those who ran away would gather forces again and set out to overtake the victors, have their revenge, and bring back their women.
The retreating force would consequently have to leave the rivers and plains and work their way home through the hills and ranges, and in this way were not always overtaken. The natives have to keep their women fairly near them when marching to battle, as if they were left behind a tribe from some unexpected quarter might kidnap them. They offer up some portion of their slain kinsmen—usually the arm—to fire, and go through a ceremony of sacrifice to will that plague and disease may overtake their enemy. They do not bury the dead, but leave them on the field. It must be borne in mind that, all the natives of the main island Ankalune are cannibals and eat some portion of their victims. Sometimes when kinsmen meet they cut a vein in each other’s arm, collecting and mixing the blood therefrom in a shell or other vessel, and pass it around, each taking a deep draught.
Here are listed some of the weapons used by the Ankorillian natives.
Paha- The average dagger is about 18 inches long but could extend up to about 3 feet in length.
Pu-Da- They are short clubs from 9 to 18 inches long, except for one made of whalebone which is 19.5 inches in length and rather heavy.
Haio-Mano- Haio-Mano’s are made utilizing one to many shark’s teeth. The teeth is usually attached to wood, but could be affixed to bone (human or animal), cordage, turtle shell or other materials.
Ioki- A tripping weapon that is made out of wood or stone in various shapes, attached to long cords and fashioned with or without handles.
Ma-am- A sling that sling is used very effectively and accurately. Ankorillian warriors, adept at the use of this weapon, uses slingstones which are sharpened to a point at both ends, resembling a football.
Ka-An- A strangling cord mostly used in executions but I have also seen it used in the heat of battle or during an assasination.
Ihedea- Their common name for the many spear types scattered trough the different tribes. They are made from native hardwoods. Ankorillian Ihedea are either unbarbed or barbed with many different details.
Po-Ko-Po- Long pikes used mostly in wars between tribes. One of the Taklamar soldiers greatest terrors, used to break up enemy formations.
*A greater insight in the Ankorillian weaponry is found in the post with the same name.
The Procuring of Food.
THE men do the hunting for such as Moama turkey, jungle deer, Kanokoro and the many other strange animals that live on the Ankorillian Islands. In the case of birds or wildfowl, they are experts in snaring. This is done by placing a light frame of sticks over the birds’ nests, or if snaring small game. over a water-hole. A net made for this purpose from the reeds that grow by the water’s edge, with meshes varying in size up to three inches square according to the nature of the game, is fastened over the frame, leaving an opening for the bird to enter. The native hides some few yards away, and as soon as the bird enters, the native rushes up to the opening and secures it.
Another very successful method practised by the Ueh-An natives is to find a small water-hole some distance from other water, which is easily done in our stretches of dry river bed, and place two semi-circles of boughs around the water, thus leaving an open space at each end for the Lanokoro to enter and pass on to the water. After a few nights, the animals get accustomed to this, and make quite a pad through. The natives will then place two upright poles at one entrance with a cross bar above the height of a Kanokoro’s head, Upon this bar is fastened a bag net, about 8 ft. by 4 ft., which is tied down by reeds, ready for snaring. The Kanokoro comes in by the other entrance, and when he has passed by, the natives (there are generally two of them) spring from their hiding place. The Kanokoro makes up the pad to the other end he knew so well, only to be bagged in the net. The natives then kill him with their clubs. They catch three or more in this way in a night.
The natives have enormous appetites. Many of the stronger men boast they can eat a Kanokoro—usually weighing about 30 lbs.—in three meals, and from personal observation I quite believe it. Their method of curing flesh when the supply is greater than the appetite is to cook the flesh, and, after it becomes cold, part it into thin steaks or cutlets, and place them in the sun to dry, turning them regularly. The meat cures very well, although very hard and dry in appearance. To prepare this, they have to place it in the fire for a few minutes and then pound it between two stories, when it readily becomes as mince-meat. Strange to say, they never use salt or seasoning of any kind even though it might very easily be produced with the ocean near all the time.
Another method these natives have of catching large game, is by digging a round hole about 4 ft. deep by 6 ft. in circumference on the pads to water. They place a few light twigs across this, cover it with a thin sheet of paper-bark and sprinkle loam or sand on the surface. As soon as pressure is placed on this spot the twigs break, and the game falls into the pit which is purposely made narrow as to prevent the animal getting out.
The manner in which they kill hawks shows how they can exercise patience. They procure a small rat and tie it to a small rod about 2 ft. long. They then light fires, which attract the hawks, and hide themselves in it large bunch of grass. The rod is gently moved in the open with the left hand; in the right they hold a club called “Pu-Da.” The hawk swoops down for the rat, and receives the club instead. I have seen them get fully a dozen in this manner in a few hours.
They make their nets for fishing front very coarse spinifex.
They collect all the sharp heads and tie them in small bundles of about 15 inches in circumference, which are then dried in the sun. These are soaked in water and beaten between two smooth stones when they readily thread into flax. They then twist them into twine, which is very strong and lasts a long time. The meshes of the net are formed with the fingers. For a needle they use a light stick split down about two inches at each end, and steamed so as to set the points out to hold the twine at a guage which will pass comfortably through the size mesh adopted in the net. The knot is exactly similar to the one used by our fishermen in Taklamar.
Fishing and the ocean provides most of the regular food and they have many other ways of catching fish and other sea beasts. The Iheda spears are very suitable for spearing fish as well as an advesary.
They use the tide to their advantage. When the sea level is high they build a small wall of rocks to block of a lagune. When the water retreats it is free picking. This they only do once a month as not to deplete the ocean of fish and give it time too recover. It is a very popular event and the whole tribe is present.
It must not be thought that their food is limited, for it is quite the contrary. They have a variety of roots, berries, and vegetable leaves. Their method of cooking some of these I thought rather novel. They tear off a piece of bark from the Cajea tree and place therein the leaves, which are then sprinkled freely with water. In a fire close by are stones heated to red-heat. These stones are placed amongst the leaves, and the latter are turned with a stick. When the stones have lost some of their fierce heat and have produced a large amount of steam, the bark is closely folded round to keep the steam in, and after about twenty minutes the leaves are cooked.
In cleaning grass seeds the women are experts at sifting the foreign matter, such as the husks and sand, from the grain. They use a large wooden scoop and by a peculiar motion of the wrist and fingers the substances readily divide a stream of pure grass seeds coming out at one end and the refuse at the other. I have given them equal parts of sugar and sand to divide as a test, and the result was the same—the sugar was quite clear of sand, whilst the operation was accomplished in a very short time. If the natives were sufficiently resourceful they could store enough grass seeds to last them through a drought, but they make very little provision in this way. They do, however, gather small quantities in heaps, which they cover with bark, and they find even this a great stand-by. They can light a fire by means of two sticks. One of these, with a hole and grooved partly on one side, is laid on the ground. Then an upright piece is worked in the hole by downward pressure of the palms of the hands, and the friction produces fire. For the purpose of lighting tires they carry amongst their belongings the most suitable sticks they can obtain.
A weed which grows amongst the rocks the natives use as tobacco. It is called Nod-Ha, a sweet herb with a rich smell of salt and honey, it has some indirect aphrodisiac qualities.
After breaking it up fine they mix it with hot ashes and a few drops of water, rolling it up in a light covering of fibres that are obtained from the roots of some grasses. They chew the quid, swallowing the juice. After each man has taken a few draws—which is generally sufficient—it is passed on to the women.
The natives of these islands—I am referring to civilized ones—are very dirty in their habits. They have a great love for new clothes, especially for those of brilliant colors. It is very easy for Main Landers to make unfair trades in their benefit. A bright red shirt might be repaid with days worth of food. It is with the greatest difficulty they are made to keep themselves clean, even when they are sufficiently domesticated to become housemaids.
They have no cooking utensils such as pots and pans, all the cooking being done in the ashes or coals or by heated stones.
It is most wonderful how these natives know each others tracks by some peculiarity they detect in the impression. It is impossible to deceive them, as they have only to see ones footprints a few times to know them, and they can pick out any natives’ tracks from dozens of others. This they can do also with horses from the Main Land and other stock.
They have a name for every hill, river and its branches, and for everything. The Cajea tree they call “Ko-An-Ma,” the trunk they call “Kud-Arah,” the roots “Kulka,” the branches “Na-Galle,” the twigs “Gnall-Aia,” the leaves “She-Omono,” the flower “Kull-Obna,” the nut “Buka,” the bark “Miana.” They also have every portion, bone, and organ of the body named.
They have very many rock carvings; every hill that has suitably hard stone will have some kind of figure tattooed thereon. They do not choose the softer rocks, and mainly prefer the basalt and granite. The method adopted is to draw the outline with chalk or ochre and with a sharp hard stone hammer within the outline until the rock is fretted away about one-eighth of an inch deep. Some of the figures are very large, whilst others are small. None of the outlines show much aptitude for drawing. The head is round, then a straight line much smaller than the head represents the trunk of the body. A slighter line on each side represents the arms, with a bend for the elbow, and a large ball at the end of each of these line, represents the hands. Each leg is the same size as the body, with enormous feet, the whole being greatly out of proportion. Some, however, are done a little better, but others so badly that they require explaining. The carvings are mainly representative of men, Kanokoro, rats, jungle deer, Jamas, Moama turkeys, fishes, spears, shields, native weapons of all kinds, and many men and women in a variety of vulgar attitudes.
Rock carvings are also used as warning posts to alert vanderers that they are now heading into the deeper parts of the island jungles. Many times I have seen beasts of fantasy carved into the bleak rocks. Being a rational man I first discarded these images as the superstision of a under-developed people. But after my first years I saw myself a native being svallowed by the jungle itself.
I still, after living here for twenty years I know very little of the dense jungles. Therefore I can not provide any reliable information on this field.
May the allmighty god Andalon provide for me a safe voyage home.