Schlagwort-Archiv: sightseeing

Port Moresby, 15 June 1893

The end of the rainy season made itself felt in a disagreeable manner as a tropical rain was pouring down in the morning and the sea was moving heavily driven by the wind as the crashing waves on the barrier reef revealed. A fog was laying on the mountains and it was windy so that the work of loading coal on board was on the one hand made more difficult by the wet weather but on the other hand spared us the presence of coal dust entering into all rooms. The rain and the heavy sea prevented also our plan to fish with dynamite in the bay as recommended by the harbor steward. Thus we could but stay and look out for the governor’s yacht that was still not visible. As towards 10 o’clock in the morning it was still nowhere in sight, tired of waiting, I took a boat to the close village Hanuabada.

The homes in Hanuabada were, like most native settlements in New Guinea, huts resting on poles. This custom of building elevated rooms high above ground or where a village is standing in the water — either on the sea coast or in a lake or at the river shore in the interior of the land — high above the water level is derived from the purpose of offering protection against human and animal enemies for the occupants of such pile dwellings.

Here too as well as in the other villages near Moresby the poles are made out of mangrove wood and 3 to 4 m tall on which rest the mostly two storey huts The walls and the roof of the hut are made out of dried palm leaves or out of caned grass. The roof crags widely and offers shade on the frontside of the hut in a veranda like structure.

Those huts that have two storeys also have two verandas above each other that are connected with ladders while access into the interior of the huts is also made possible by very thin ladders. Here all equipment is stored, especially the fishing equipment and on palm fiber strings hang the skulls of slain enemies as trophies, tail fins of large fishes etc. These verandas serve as places to rest during the day for part of the population, namely older family members who sit there crouching in the real Papuan manner and watch almost without motion the life and activities taking place at their feet.

The interior of the huts is dirty and rather dark as daylight can only enter through the two door openings at both ends as well as the smoke vent in the roof, as windows are unknown.Innere In one corner of the interior room stands a hearth, a rudimentary fire place whose base is constructed out of a thick layer of clay resting on trellis work. In two-storey huts the room with the hearth is on the lower floor and the sleeping and living quarters on the upper.

The furniture in the living rooms is no less basic than those of the huts in the Solomon islands. Chairs and tables are unknown to the natives and as they prefer squatting also not necessary. Only some mats and thick bamboo pieces as a head rest serve as a bed. Earthware or bamboo vessels, woven bags and the indispensable hand weapons complete the poor equipment. The overall impression of this primitive housing is a bit more enjoyable for a cultured human as these houses are not at a higher level than the pre-historic houses of the European pile dwellers.

Just at the entrance to Hanuabada I witnessed a strange spectacle — a jig, a“harvest festival“. Dancing is here too, understandably, the means of communication to express all kinds of feelings and moods, and today there was joy about the more than ample banana harvest of the inhabitants of Hanuabadas which was the occasion for a feast on that day. While the old men and the married women squatted in sweet harmony with dogs and pigs on the verandas of their huts and smoked and served as the audience, the youth of both sexes danced around the long poles on which had been quite decoratively fixed bushels of bananas in the form of garlands.

Each of the dancers carried a wooden drum which he beat in step. Rhythmic chants accompanied the movements of the dancers who performed a sort of quadrille for which the pairs formed themselves into two columns and then executed a similar figure that is done at home after the command of „Traversez“. While the dancers move their upper bodies by the hips, the pairs danced one after another through the always reforming column until the column dissolved into a large circle.

The pairs, that consisted just like at home of a „gentleman“ and a „lady“ with the young man leading one of the pretty girls by the hand, devoted themselves to the dancing with rare endurance and passion, in full color and feather decorations, stepping and jumping lissome and with a natural grace.

Especially graceful appeared the young girls. As they were used to an unstrained posture unrestricted by any bothersome pieces of clothing, these beauties floated on light swinging feet swaying their hips graciously with the upper body kept a bit back, which made the grass skirts flitter gaily.

Colorful painting, necklaces and bangles were the decorations of the girls who with their curly heads and the impishly smiling black eyes looked very nice. Like the girls the young men were tattooed carefully too in blue-black and painted with red, black and white colors. The tattoos covered all parts of the body and namely the delicately shaped legs with the exception of the faces that showed little of this type of decoration. On the breast of the girls of marriageable age presented without any covering the girls of Port Moresby used to tattoo a heart which was to express that the wearer of this symbol may now be courted.

As ornaments they use, apparently in all of New Guinea, all kinds of flowers and leaves. Very popular for the same purpose are feathers in flashy colors which the natives combine with great skill to form crowns and headbands or stick them loose into the curly hair. I identified mostly feathers of the large hornbill, the southern cassowary, the white cockatoo, but especially all kinds of parrots and the birds of paradise used in this manner.

Necklaces are highly prized here and as they are usually heirlooms only sold or traded in the rarest cases. Shells and teeth, then corals, feathers etc are the material out of which the necklaces are made and sometimes formed into amulets. The arm bands and leg rings consist mostly of woven straw or pieced shells while glittering metal pieces and smaller shells serve as earrings.

The whole appearance of the dancing pairs, their strong, tall, well-formed posture, their graceful mobility, the agreeable even pretty faces, the vivid eyes — all this combined creates a vivid contrast to the native peoples and tribes which we had had opportunity to observe during the last months. How slight and softly seemed the Hindus to me, how dull and not beautiful were the slant-eyed Javanese!

The Papuas of the territory of Port Moresby belonging to the Motus tribe, however, are in physical and psychic aspects more closely related to the Polynesians than to the Melanesians. Also in favor of the Papuans of Moresby was their especially vivacity and direct expressiveness of their feelings, the smiling joyfulness and the apparent learning ability displayed by their curiosity, incessant asking questions and talent for imitation of these individuals I could observe here.

Further proofs of these qualities were offered to me after the end of the harvest feast in Hanuabada and I had said good-bye to the dancers, when during the tour of the village, I was surrounded by young and old as all but namely the children wanted to see the stranger and watch him. Everybody was assailing me with questions, smiling happily and waved their hands and crowded around me to observe from a really close distance. Some imitated my movements, others were shaking from laughter as they apparently found much about us very comical.

Finally the dear youths held out their hands begging in order to receive some kind of goods and the smaller ones, as soon as they got a coin, a cigarette or something else, climbed with a monkey-like skill up the ladders to their huts and delivered what they just received to their parents, only to return quickly and beg again for another present. We could not observe any fear of strangers among this crowd of children, whom I could barely resist, in contrast to the experiences made earlier on my voyage.

I tried to buy some ornaments but these people already were aware about the value of money as the usual trading objects had no effect and for every piece they demanded only „Money“ or „Shilling“. As soon as the people noticed that we were interested in a piece, the price increased much. The good savages goods they took each piece of money to the wise man of the village to confirm the genuity of the coin and even then some sellers refused to hand over the acquired goods or suddenly asked for double the previously agreed price.

A better affair I made in the apparently poor village in the bay, Elewara, where I bought a large number of ethnographic objects, among them delicate containers in which the natives keep the chewing betel mixed with coral lime. Also I took away the only piece of clothing of about twenty ladies, namely a red and yellow colored small skirt made out of woven grass that they willingly sold for a shilling a piece. In Elewara now developed a formal market in which the people carried everything imaginable and even very young children offered shells and coral pieces. The real business was done by the women and young men while the older men squatted on the verandas smoking calmly.

In New Guinea everybody smokes, men, women, even small children and in those areas where money is not known one can buy everything for tobacco. For it the native offers land, agricultural products, pigs, weapons, with one word even the last thing he possesses. To smoke long bamboo sticks are used that are beautifully decorated with burned marks and on whose end is a small opening in which the tobacco rolled-up in a palm leaf is inserted. After its ignition, the pipe is passed from mouth to mouth. If they do not have a pipe, the tobacco is rolled-up in a leaf and smoked like a cigarette.

After I had almost filled our boat with acquired objects I made a small journey to the surrounding heights despite the still pouring rain and passed the low buildings of the Anglican mission which however was not very successful as the savages it was said were only willing to attend services if given presents. Then we crossed multiple banana gardens that were just then being harvested and encountered a group of women carrying large bundles of bananas on their head to their homes.

Furthermore we climbed up to hill next to Government House but the force of the pouring rain drove us back on board.

Here too a vivid trade had developed. The natives had come with their wives and children in their slim canoes to offer arrows, bows, decorative objects and other things and found willing buyers among the officers and crew — everybody on board wanted to take home a souvenir from the land of cannibals. I dare say that „Elisabeth“  equipped itself on that day with hundreds of arrows, spears etc. as cargo. The crew of the coaling ship too acquired an important load of ethnographic objects, apparently with the intention to sell them at much higher prices after their return to Sydney.

The occupants of the canoes were not shy, various girls even came on board where they examined everything with curiosity and accepted small presents. A general applause was given when we gifted one of the beauties with a pink jacket and light-green silk pants and dressed her thus on the spot. The people could not contain their joy and proudly the presentee glided down over the side of the ship into her canoe.

As the governor was still nowhere in sight I drove in the afternoon again to Hanuabada with the intent to reach a small rocky island where pigeons were said to land there each evening.

Unfortunately I did not choose a good moment for my excursion as the low tide had set in and the boats were unable to land anywhere so that I had again to wade for a few hundred paces through water and deep mud to reach Hanuabada.

Countless naked boys were mingling with nets in the mud and collected various shells and sea animals that the low tide had thrown out. The collector is always voracious and thus I was bargaining again with the friends made today in the morning to buy a number of objects, especially amulets and household objects.

Meanwhile it was already 4 o’clock and I was ready to set off from Hanuabada to the islands of pigeons when a steam yacht came into sight at the entrance to the harbor and was steering towards Moresby. Thus finally returned the long expected governor! The pigeon hunt expedition was immediately canceled and I rushed back on board to await the arrival of the governor. The small yacht entered and moored at a buoy but nothing moved until I sent an officer to request the governor to pay me a visit.

The negotiations resulted in the principal agreement of a three-day expedition into the interior of the land to the Laroki river. Details were to be determined during the evening on board of the yacht.

Links

  • Location: Port Moresby, New Guinea
  • ANNO – on 15.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Faust“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Port Moresby on New Guinea, 14 June 1893

A dense dark bank of clouds out of which from time to time rain was pouring down concealed the coast of New Guinea completely during the morning. As navigating by tracking the path was proving difficult at Port Moresby due to the incomplete sea charts of this territory, we were only able to enter the very small passage into the harbor after the orientation points on the coast became visible.

The sea was glittering for quite some time in the gleaming daylight when finally towards 8 o’clock in the morning the clouds lifted up from the coast and allowed the land to become visible which appeared in a rich green with mountains and hills in the distance. Port Moresby itself is almost completely surrounded by limy hills whose treeless slopes often are covered with tall grass. Not a single spot of plain land is visible all around. It was overall a very friendly view that developed in front of our eyes but it fell back by far in comparison to the tropically luxurious vedutas we had experienced in the Solomon islands.

Our attention soon was caught by something much closer namely the difficulty of the passage. The harbor of Moresby is bounded towards the open sea by a long coral barrier that leaves only a very small passage open for large ships between reefs on both sides. The waves were crashing mightily into these coral reefs that one can see from afar by their light green color of the water around it. To the dangers of navigation in this passage added itself another element. As the bank of clouds had disappeared the sun was shining fully into our faces thus blinded by the sun and the glittering water, we were unable to see the details of the passage. Despite all the difficulties the captain and the excellent navigator succeeded to drive „Elisabeth“ through the basilisk passage at half past 10 o’clock in the morning.  At 11 o’clock the anchor was finally set in Port Moresby.

Discovered by captain Moresby, the explorer of the South-eastern territories and the South coast of New Guinea, in 1873 and named after him, Port Moresby is currently the seat of administration of British New Guinea and a special governor administers the colony which is under the control of Queensland, part of British crown. The island of New Guinea, including Prince Frederick island, the islands of Papua, the islands of the Louisiades archipelago and other islands is today divided among three powers. The largest part of the 807.956 km2 area is under Dutch occupation as Western New Guinea with an area of 397.204 km2. The Northeastern part of the island is a protectorate of the German Empire of 181.650 km2. The Southeastern part finally is British New Guinea with 229.102 km2 declared formally an English protectorate in 1884 and on 4 September 1888 the sovereignty of the queen was in a ceremony proclaimed. The borders of these possessions are now set on the maps but government administration covers but small parts of the total area as New Guinea, some of its coasts, river valleys and islands excepted, still largely is terra incognita. Even at a short distance from the coast there are native tribes that have never seen a white man.

The harbor is very large, it extends with many small bays over 9 km from South to North and in the West reaches Fairfax Harbour but offers no good ground for anchoring. In the North-east of the coast raises a mountain range whose highest elevation is Mount Astrolabe (1166 m).

Port Moresby is characterized fully by its recent creation and has a rather cheerless appearance. Government House is a small single storey building on a hill surrounded by a small number of rather shabby bungalows constructed out of corrugated iron. These are the houses for the few white men living here. Not far away in a sheltered bay are three native villages namely Elewara on a peninsula that is cut off from the mainland during the tide, Tanubada and Hanuabada. Above Tanubada raise the houses of an Anglican mission.

During our arrival the whole outer harbor within the barrier reef was filled with canoes as the natives were going fishing. The canoes are very slim, partly with extensions for the oars and all equipped with square sails made out of straw mats. Despite this very primitive equipment, the crew navigated these heavily staffed canoes with great skill and at speed over the turbulent sea.

Next to us lay a small coaling ship which we had ordered here in Sydney to restock on coal. Its captain immediately came on board of „Elisabeth“ and reported that he ran aground on a coral reef about 80 sea miles out of Moresby but it did cause major damage as they managed to free the ship during high tide. The captain also brought the mail that had arrived for us in Sydney up to the time of his departure. Among others, the mail included newspapers with illustrations of „Elisabeth“ and some of our episodes of our stay in Sydney — many of these images we found hilarious.

Who, however, did not come on board was the governor, Sir William Macgregor,  whom we were vividly expecting to come as only he could initiate our planned expedition into the interior of the island. Finally the harbor steward arrived as a substitute and reported that Sir W. Macgregor had departed the day before on his steam yacht to Yule Island, around 80 sea miles to the Northwest of here, to settle disputes about possessions between the mission station there and the natives. He was expected to return either today in the evening or tomorrow morning to Moresby. Thus we had to be patient and decided to await the arrival of the governor.

Regarding an excursion into the interior of the land the harbor steward could only inadequately orient us, but he said to be ready to lead us into a bay close by in the afternoon. As far as ethnographic objects were concerned he directed me towards the only merchant house in the settlement that collected such things and in fact there was a rich collection of beautiful shields, spears and other weapons as well as bodies of all kind of local birds of paradise of New Guinea. I bought this collection and then immediately set off from land with the barge, the dinghy and the cleaning dinghy to drive across the harbor and to go to the Northernmost bay between the mainland and the island of Tatana.

On the shore of Tatana we saw two large villages whose huts rested on poles high above the water.

Landing in the bay proved difficult due to the strong tide which had built up in the mean time. The steam barge soon had to stop and we tried to come close to the coast with the dinghy but were soon stuck on a coral reef. Thus it was time for the cleaning dinghy. When it too failed to advance we had to jump into the water and wade to the shore. Here we met a local Malay trader near a small settlement. He was willing to lead us to a spot where there was a chance of bagging birds.

We formed two groups: i entered with Clam and the Malay in a Western direction while Wurmbrand and Prónay, led by a Papuan, marched towards the hills in the North. The route was trying. Tall grass alternated with small clumps of trees and bushes. In the grass, however, lay numerous rotten trunks.

As soon as the rainy season is over and the grass starts to die, the natives burn it and set up nets and thus bag wallabies and wild boars that flee from the fire. Naturally the growth of the trees is suffering to such an extent that a luxurious development of the trees only takes place close to the streams in the valleys.

The information of the harbor steward that there was no furred game in the surroundings of  Port Moresby and only a few bird species and had been heavily plundered by the natives as well as collectors was fully confirmed. Our catch was limited to only a few unimportant specimens. Furthermore our guide, the Malay, seemed to show little interest in this kind of sport as he led us again and again in circles and repeatedly told us that one would have to march many miles inland to have success. The other gentlemen had a bit more luck than we as they killed parrots of a species (Geoffroyus aruensis) I did not know.

The Malay whose house we had been visiting is said to be very wealthy and sails along the coasts of New Guinea in small sailing boats trading tobacco with the natives against coconuts, sandalwood as well as other product which he sells to the ships entering Port Moresby.

The South-east monsoon had grown stronger, even within the harbor the waves were moving so intensively that wave upon wave landed in the boat.

On board we received the message that governor Macgregor still had not arrived and we had to continue waiting patiently.

Links

  • Location: Port Moresby, New Guinea
  • ANNO – on 14.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Die Tochter des Herrn Fabricius“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Ugi, 9 June 1893

In order to make good use of the second and final day of our stay on Ugi, that is amass more material for my collections and get to know the island better, multiple expeditions were to set out at dawn and only return on board in the evening. The disposition was as follows: I wanted to hunt with Prónay and Regner alongside the South coast, namely up to Cape Panna nihi where a few boats would be waiting for us with which we wanted to examine the interesting coral banks. Wurmbrand and Clam set themselves the task to make a tour around the island guided by a native which they hoped to accomplish in eight hours while Bourguignon, Sanchez and Preuschen decided to go to a village at the North coast to collect ethnographic objects for me. Mallinarich however was set to catch butterflies with two NCOs.

Thus we pushed off from „Elisabeth“ not before the commander, caring for his charges, warmly recommended to be under all circumstances back on board at sunset. On land the individual expeditions set off separately with a cordial hunter’s greeting. Each expedition included a party of sailors and carried the necessary provisions.

I first turned again towards the village of Ete-Ete, looking out for birds on the way but as a rain poured down shortly before dawn and rain was still alternating with sunshine there was not much hope to see representatives of the bird world that hid themselves in the dense leafy tops. I only managed to bag a large green parrot while Prónay killed a beautifully colored pigeon with yellow, pink and green feathers. The ground had become a mire due to the rain and at every step we sank up to the ankles into the soaked layer of topsoil that covered the ground here. In the forest I found a dying male house pig whose colossal tusks spiralling towards the rear were remarkable. For some time we stayed in the village and observed their daily life as they showed themselves much less timid and wary than the day before.

The inhabitants of the Solomon islands practised a „two-children“-system, so that apparently a large part of the newborns are killed. In fact we noticed the low number of children. Polygamy is the rule here but the number of women in a single household is seldom larger than two. The position of the women is a very sad one, they are totally subordinated to the husband, have to do all work at home and in the field and are treated extremely rough by the men. The latter one probably explains why the women were even more timid towards us than the men, even though today it seemed as if our appearance the day before had made the women more familiar.  A young woman who stood in paradise costume in front of a hut did even accept with a grin a cigarette I was offering her.

Continuing our walk we arrived after half an hour at a clearing where we found a number of idols and fetishes carved out of wood. The figures as well as the visible remains of huts seemed to indicate that in this clearing once stood a village as well as a holy hall and I decided immediately to land with the boats at the coast close to the clearing on the way home in order to take these apparently abandoned interesting fetishes. In order to find it again later I marked the clearing with a path to the coast by marking a row of trees leading to the sea shore and on the coast by marking two large palm trees.  This action may have been noticed by the savages and given them a hint of my intentions. When some gentlemen of the ship staff came to the clearing shortly after we had left it, they found armed natives guarding the marked trees as they told me later so that I had to sadly give up my plan to take possession of those fetishes.

Finally towards 10 o’clock I was close to Panna nihi but walked towards the coast as the sun was burning rather hotly and thus all the birds were hiding in the densest tree tops where two dinghies and the cleaning dinghy were waiting.

Fishing corals, the small fleet drove up and down the shore. At each location where such structures became visible we stopped, four sailors jumped into the water and collected all kinds of corals by diving. While we stayed close to the coast, the expedition Wurmbrand-Clam came into sight and soon met us following our tracks. The gentlemen failed to make their guide understand their plan and so they had wandered around for hours in the dense forest only to led back to their point of departure. As it was now noon they were forced to give up their original plan and decided to seek at least our expedition which they did without difficulties.

The cleaning dinghy was soon completely filled with corals. We then rested in the cool shade at noon eating a meal that in no way could be called a feast whose main part consisted of the tins brought along from Sydney.

During the pause the boatman surmised that we would find even more beautiful corals on the Western beach of the landing place, that is beyond where „Elisabeth“ was moored, than where we were now. Following this hint we rowed the four sea miles back to „Elisabeth“ as soon as the meal was completed and also the crew had finished theirs. We transferred the catches made up to now on board and then steered without a further stop to the mentioned place which would in fact prove to be a rich hunting ground.

At a distance of about 20 m from the coast lay the most gorgeous corals at a depth of 1 to 2 m below the water surface. Furthermore the bank was in fact dropping to important depths but even there through the blue water  the most beautiful forms are glittering. We all jumped out of the boat and hurried partly wading partly swimming around the bank and managed to get each especially beautiful coral out of the sea we could clearly see in the water transparent to the ground by diving. Larger pieces especially massive forms could not simply be extracted by hand but had to use a crowbar which was handled by a diver while others pushed and pulled until the desired piece fell off.

Here coral stood next to another one. We counted no less than fourteen different species and nowhere  on the reef the foot was touching anything else as coral forms again and again. Between them swam all kinds of red, blue and other sea creatures of whom we bagged a larger number.

The corals under water glitter in the most gorgeous colors whose tangle created even seen from above but especially while diving in closest proximity the impression that all possible shades on an infinite scale of the finest most delicately stepped nuances were artfully aligned.

Thus incited again and again we swam, dove and fished in the warm sea water for multiple hours with great eagerness as each tried to surpass the other by his findings and get the most beautiful specimens out of the depth. Finally two boats were filled to the brim with booty. We then took a closer look of the coast for a distance of about 500 m in order to find here too a large number of shells, snails and crabs. The whole beach is covered feet-high in white glittering shell and coral pieces so that it looks from afar as if it was covered in white sand.

This debris has been created by the destructive force of the surf and thrown at the coast by the tides. Now and then there are also intact shells or snails wedged in between the fragments. Everywhere there are crabs while on the trunks of the trees at the edge of the river hung land snails whose shell sometimes serves as a home to hermit crabs. After we had searched the beach and filled two buckets with catches, we started our trip home by the light of the setting sun. This did not fully go according to plan as our boats repeatedly were stuck on the far upwards reaching coral reefs and could only with effort get them out into the sea again. Furthermore there was a rainstorm which however was of little concern to the thoroughly wet coral fishermen.

On board of „Elisabeth“ the whole afterdeck was filled with today’s catches. Until late in the night everything was stored in order to salvage and stack the corals.

In the mean time the third expedition had returned home, those that had crossed the island. The gentlemen were very much delighted by their excursion. Accompanied by chief Rora and some of his underlings they had reached the Northern coast, walking always in the forest after a rather tiresome march of three hours. There they took a refreshing bath on a very inviting sand beach. Having reached the destination of their hike, the village on the North coast, they found the inhabitants at first even more timid than those of Ete-Ete, But they became soon more open when the gentlemen removed their weapons and shared their breakfast with the natives. The dignified Rora also contributed being fully aware about his own importance to calm the natives down so that the gentlemen even managed to acquire two fetishes and some decorative objects for me besides a large number of other objects.

When the expedition was on the way to move the goods bought back to „Elisabeth“ the three young natives were willing to carry the objects to the boats and could be convinced to come on board. The savages however were terribly spooked when during the pulling down of the flag the music band started to play and the flag salute shots were fired.

During the whole day a large number of canoes had been circling around the ship and the savages also engaged eagerly in trade as they had realized that we posed no danger. Basically it was small coins, Virginia cigars and cigarettes that proved attractive. Only the natives were unwilling to part from one of their canoes for any price. And just one of those was what I wanted as these vehicles with their light elegant build and their ornamentation — decorations made out of shells and sea grass — were said to be the most beautiful canoes of the South Sea. Only when our artillery officer produced two Werndl carbines and offered these in trade two canoes became into our possession.

The fourth expedition led by Mallinarich returned with rich spoils in butterflies and hymenoptera of all kinds.

Links

  • Location: Ugi, Solomon islands
  • ANNO – on 09.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „College Crampton“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Owa raha to Ugi, 8 June 1893

When we were hoisting the anchor early in the morning to leave Owa raha, heavy rain was falling again. The departure, especially turning the ship in the very narrow harbor with its many coral reefs was just as difficult as during the entrance. Fortunately the weather improved when we drove in a North-western direction alongside the coast of San Cristoval so that we had a clear view on that densely overgrown island with its mountains rising up to1250 m. Rounding Cape Kibeck or Mahua we saw on starboard the group of islands called the Three Sisters, whose largest island is Malan paina and soon after, the island of Ugi, our destination today. Numerous dolphins and some sea birds enlivened the calm sea which was given the beautiful day of an intensively blue color.

Selwyn Bay on the Western coast of Ugi where we anchored is actually only one rather open mooring area in a beautiful scenic surrounding. We had to move really close to the surrounding coral banks at the shore which drops so suddenly that the bay adds depth quickly and the sounding amounts to 32 fathoms at the sea ladder when the anchor is resting at 20 fathoms.

On Ugi lives an Englishman with one assistant who are here protecting a small coal depot which was just been restocked by a sailing schooner. Furthermore there were on Ugi only a few native settlements snugly hidden between the trees. The natives were part of the same tribe as those on Owa raha.

Rushing on land quickly with a boat I sought the two Europeans. These coal guards who might justly be called lonely people led me into the interior of their hut made out of wooden planks in which only the number of weapons seemed remarkable. They are thus equipped to withstand any attacks of the natives.

Hodek photographed a group of savages who curiously stood around the station and then we entered into the interior of the island with a native man as a guide who the two Englishmen considered to be a fairly trustworthy companion.

The vegetation we saw was no less gorgeous than the one on Owa raha which had enchanted us so much. But we noticed in favor of Ugi’s scenic attractions a large number of small streams that rush flowing crystal-clear and splashing between the splendid trees to the coast. Along the shore of the streams stood marvellously beautiful places in the shadow of the giant trees filled with countless colorful butterflies.

The bird world too was represented in the most lovely manner even though one of the two station guards assured us when we asked him closely about the presence of game and especially birds on the island that on Ugi there was but one kind of large pigeons but no parrots etc.

I had barely taken 100 steps into the forest, when the first shot bagged me a splendid totally red parrot (Eos cardinalis) and I then just thereafter shot a beautifully colored pigeon (Ptilopus eugeniae) with a snow-white head, crimson breast, yellow belly and green and purple wings. Directly afterward a larger bird took off from a tall Dracaena which I bagged. It was a male specimen of an eclectus parrot (Eclectus pectoralis). It is green with blue-ending wings. Below the wings are light red feathers, the beak is orange-yellow. The size of the parrot is comparable to a strong domestic pigeon. The female is totally differently colored, namely scarlet but sky-blue in the neck, the belly and wings. During the hunt I shot also a scarlet myzomela (Mysomela pulcherrima), a totally coffee-brown pigeon having the shape of a  turtle dove and two large fruit doves (Carpophaga pistrinaria), as well as a pair of the splendid yellow-bibbed lory (Lorius chlorocercus) whose feathers consist of all colors of the rainbow and are certainly to be counted among the most beautiful parrots. The birds were difficult to see in the dense leaves of the giant jungle trees even though one could always hear them.

Thus I might have walked for about an hour admiring the tropical wonders of the forest and flowers and looking out from time to time for a colorful bird when I came to a clear stream in which I took an agreeable cool bath given the intensive heat and waded across and found myself unexpectedly in the middle of a village called Ete-Ete and met here a larger number of the gentlemen of my staff who were in the midst of intensive bartering with the natives. By and by also arrived my gentlemen each of which had made interesting catches, namely in parrots. The officers informed us that at their arrival all inhabitants had fled, especially the women and hid themselves in the forest and only after quite some time re-emerged to more brave who could not identify threatening behaviors and brought after long discussions spears and other objects for trading. The value of minted coins seemed to be known to the people. While the looked at tobacco products, textiles or pearls with indifference, they offered everything what they owned for a coin, namely for an American dollar that were considered especially valuable. Only the necklaces made out of shells or dog teeth, they would not trade for any amount. Thus we bought weapons and fishing equipment among them a strangely formed wooden harpoon with six prongs as well as combs etc.

As intermediaries for the exchange served, besides one of the station guards who had accompanied the gentlemen of the staff as interpreter, two strange fellows named Rora and Belingi, the chiefs of the village’s two tribes. Rora’s extremely off-putting exterior was in no way embellished by the emblem of his dignity, an old sky-blue felt hat of enormous size that was missing its top and formed at the same time his only piece of clothing. The cylindrical monster is said to have been once the property of a slain and then eaten missionary. The right hand of Rora was in a bag as he had been wounded while fishing. Belingi, the co-regent, seemed to be of a high age and to have participated in many hard fight as the chief’s body was covered with deep scars. We could clearly see a spot on his breast where a heavy spear must have entered and been thrust sideways through his body.

Even these two old fellows showed themselves fearful and wary as the large number of white men, the shooting and hunting close to the village had shocked them quite a bit. Finally we managed to get the two to part with two of those large wooden cooking vessels inlaid with mother of pearl which the islanders used in large feasts. They are made out of hollowed out trunks and are 1 m long vats that are more or less richly decorated on the exterior wall. Even with time the chiefs were willing to call the women and girls and have them photographed by Hodek, arranged in a picturesque group, but only under the condition that no white man with the exception of the photographer looked at the ladies. Therefore we had to step behind a hut while Hodek took the picture and could only later browse in the village. Here some of the ladies with large décolletés nevertheless presented themselves in front of our eyes. As soon as we had seen the beauties of Ete-Ete, we had wished they would have stayed hidden.

The huts of Ete-Ete resembled in form and ornamentation quite closely those on Owa raha, but the holy places on Ugi were more poorly equipped. Dolphin coffins were missing, the carvings were meager and the fetishes less ornamented. Instead we found war canoes in Ete-Ete but it was impossible to buy one of these or a fetish as neither money nor good words helped even though I finally offered multiple sovereigns for those interesting objects the islanders considered holy.

The inhabitants of Ete-Ete resembled also those of Owa raha, but suffered in part from a nasty rash of blisters that was unpleasant to notice on the individual bodies. As far as decorative objects were concerned we found only small differences: Thus the necklaces were richer but most bracelets made out of white stone that is of European origin.

Worth a mention is a burial place which holds the remains of nobles and consists of a small hut covered with palm leaves on whose dais skulls are spread out for bleaching. Close by, partially hidden, fragments of human bones were laying around which left no doubt that we were looking at the sad remains from disgusting feasts.

Continuing my way through the forest I bagged a few birds but had to walk to the coast after a short time as we all had to be back at sunset. The excursion ended with us walking slowly back along the beach and almost wading in the sea to Ete-Ete and boarded the waiting boats which took us back to the ship.

Links

  • Location: Ugi, Solomon islands
  • ANNO – on 08.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Neue Freie Presse reports in many columns about Franz Ferdinand’s stay on Java back in April.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Der Meister von Palmyra“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Owa raha, 7 June 1893

The tropical rainy season into which we were now re-entering made itself felt more and more in a disagreeable way; very heavy winds alternated with short periods of good weather. Towards noon the heights of the islands of San Cristoval and its offshore islands Owa raha (Santa Anna) and Owa riki (Santa Catalina)at the South-east point appeared out of bank of clouds that had up to now obscured our view.

The group of the Solomon islands forms an arc in the direction of Northwest to South-east across 10 degrees of latitude. The northernmost point of the Solomons, Cape North on Buka island is situated at 5° South latitude and 154° 35′ East longitude. The Southernmost, the already mentioned island of Owa riki, lies at 10° 54′ South latitude and 162° 30′ East longitude. The total area of the Solomon islands is estimated at around 43.900 km2, the number of its inhabitants at around 180.000 persons.

The numerous islands of this archipelago have been discovered for the most part by a Spanish expedition under the command of Alvaro Mendana de Neyras and named the Solomon islands in honor of the Biblical king Solomon in the belief to have discovered a new Ophir as rich in gold. This expedition consisting of the two ships „Almirante“ and „Capitano“ was sent out by Lope Garcia de Castro, governor of Peru, in order to make discoveries in the Pacific Ocean. It had left the port of Callao in 1567, dedicated the year 1568 to the discovery of the Solomon islands and returned to Callao in 1569. In the year 1768, that is exactly two hundred years later, Bougainville rediscovered the Solomon islands on his voyage around the world and renamed the two large North-eastern islands Bougainville and Choiseul.

Even though they had been visited multiple times during our century the Solomon islands are even today still, namely as far as the many small satellite islands are concerned, a fertile because almost completely unknown territory for researchers an especially ethnographers.

The Solomon islands are arranged in two rows. Part of the North-eastern row are the four larger islands of Bougainville, Choiseul, Ysabel — these three are part of a German protectorate — and Malaita, the latter island besides the South-western row of three larger islands of New Georgia, Guadalcanar and San Cristoval being a British protectorate. Both rows are as noted accompanied by numerous small even tiny islands.

The destination of our voyage was at first the island of Ugi, North of San Cristoval. As we were still 70 sea miles away from the coast of Ugi at noon on the 7th and landing in darkness did not seem promising especially as the numerous rain storms were expected to cause difficulties during the landing, the commander decided to steer into a closer bay (Port Mary) on the South-western side of the island of Owa raha to the East of San Cristoval.

As the soundings and coast surveys in the whole area of the Solomon islands are still very unreliable the entrance into the small bay protected by rimmed reefs against the motion of the sea proved both difficult and interesting. Two dinghies were sent out ahead to sound the entrance which was two cables wide and serve as marker points to steer between the two.

The bay itself where we were anchoring has a diameter of only a few hundred meters and is surrounded on the seaside by coral reefs that are visible during low tide. On the landside are dense woods in which numerous palm trees were visible just up to the beach and we could also see huts of a native settlement among the trees. Beautiful peaceful nature was everywhere around us asleep only disturbed by the excitement of the savages of Owa raha about our appearance.

Already during our entrance into the bay we had seen a small canoe in which natives used their primitive paddles to get off the land and discovered, when it had come closer, that a white man sat in it who immediately came on board and was suspicious at first as he suspected „Elisabeth“ to be a French warship. As soon as we had explained the ship’s nationality to him, the white man became more talkative and reported that he had been staying on Owa raha for a few months trading with the natives who by the way had killed some of his predecessors due to differences in opinion but he had good relations with them.

We were much surprised to find a European here as according to all declarations only two or three white people were staying in the South-eastern part of the Solomon islands, namely in Ugi. About the nationality of the man who spoke English we could not precisely determine as he offered no information and did not say much  which made us assume that he might be a deserter or an escaped convict from the colonies.

The inhabitants of the Solomon islands are still savages and cannibals, extremely insidious, deceitful and dangerous especially for whites which may be shown by the fact that from June 1889 to the beginning of1890, that is in only a few months, no fewer than six white persons were murdered in various places by inhabitants of the Solomon islands.

For a landing on Owa raha an expedition was immediately organized that left in two parties: One of which under my leadership consisted of a few gentlemen plus the white man whose task it was to serve as an interpreter had the purpose of examining the settlement. The other consisting of Mallinarich and two sailors was tasked to fish and collect as many corals and other sea animals as possible.

Only a few strokes with the oars were required for our boat to come close to the settlement on land but we had hardly set foot on land when a truly tropical rainfall poured down that completely soaked us to the skin. As the wild inhabitants had the lovely custom to rob unattended boats of the whites landing without protecting their boats and then cutting off the retreat of those landed, we left behind a party under the command of a cadet to protect the boat while four sailors armed with Mannlicher rifles accompanied us on land.

First we visited the house of the white man, a quite nicely furnished and comfortable hut which had a veranda around it on whose rear wall hung cages with colorful parrots. The interior had multiple rooms that served partly for living partly for storage of the supplies. In the kitchen we were kindly greeted with a friendly handshake of a Melanesian woman of pitch-black color, apparently the wife of the settler to whim we gallantly offered a cigar which she accepted and immediately lighted and started to smoke. The clothing of the dark lady was scanty but appropriate to the climate and the local customs and consisted in the main of a tiny skirt. Thanks to this clothing we could examine her figure. She was of middle stature, slim and well-proportioned.  Her face however was not an attractive sight as it showed a flat protruding front  and a broad Semitic-formed nose and large thick-lipped mouth.  The already ugly face was further defaced by the Melanesian woman keen on trappings as all the Oceanic race generally seemed to be nose rings as well as hangers consisting of wooden pieces of considerable size on long nails in her pierced ears.

Our ethnographic studies about the female part of the population was limited to that woman which we considered the wife of the settler. She was the only female being which we could see as the black beauties hid themselves in the interior of their huts, closed off the doors with mats and stayed out of view when we arrived in the village.

Next to the hut of the white man rose another tall hut, a holy site called taboo in which the natives kept their war canoes and also buried their chiefs and nobles of their tribe. Of such places we identified four in the village which are original enough to merit a closer description: Each of these huts formed a kind of large barn whose front was open. The roof was covered with bark and the support columns and crossbeams and rafters, in sum the total frame of joints, was covered with carvings and colorfully painted with red, white and black colors dominating.  These ornaments represent grotesque images of idols in most horrible forms and in a most horrible style, mostly humans with very short feet, long straight bodies and hideous faces surrounded by the usual high headgear. One of these wooden images carved out of a single pillar caught my special attention as it was a caricature of an English missionary  clutching the bible in his hand and wearing a tropical helmet and veil. These fetishes are said to be inhabited by demons, Ataro, that had a special role in ancestor worship. As decorations used here were hundreds of lower jaws of pigs. On the floor in the barn and on racks lay the war canoes notable by their slim form, their lightness and rich decorations. Especially the aft of the vehicles but also the sides were covered with many carvings but also mother of pearl inlays of truly artistic taste whose motives were animal figures and flowers. The boats are constructed out of thin boards and glued together with resin and up to 7 m long and barely 1/2 m wide, but there are also some very small vehicles intended apparently for a single man.

In the middle of the „holy hall“ stands a rack or actually a catafalque on which sits a wooden box with the bones of the most recently deceased chief. Surrounding this catalfalque are truly strange coffins up to the ceiling which namely form large dolphins carved out of wood of surprisingly realistic nature that contain the skull and the bones of the tribe’s dignitaries in their hollow space. Each of these wooden dolphins is attached on a different level so that the distance from the hut’s ceiling marks the number of humans the deceased had killed in his lifetime. The higher that is closer to the ceiling a coffin is hanging, the larger is the number of slain enemies by the deceased. The lower the coffin is placed the lower the number of slain.

The natives of the Solomon islands are said to be ardent cannibals so that the capture of human bodies to cook and eat their meat accounts for the main purpose of the perennial fights and campaigns of the islanders. As the inhabitants of each of these islands and on these individual tribes again and even the inhabitants of neighboring villages are living together in constant feuds one may think how often the cannibals have the opportunity to satisfy their abhorrent cravings. Mendana, the discoverer of the Solomon islands, was already offered cooked human meat on 15 March 1568 on Santa Ysabel. 1872 and still even later English sailors found cooked bodies and remains of such on Santa Ysabel and San Cristoval, and even today this horrible barbarism mocking all higher sentiments is continuing in the same vein. Our friends on Owa raha drive as we were assured quite often to the neighboring San Cristoval to raid and kill their enemies and bring back their bodies in order to eat them with gusto!

The huts of the natives between the holy halls are small but relatively well built. Each has a widely protruding roof made out of bark, palm leaves or grass.On one of the walls made out of canes extends a porch on whose one-meter-high base the family of the house is crouching during leisure time and smoking tobacco which had been introduced to the Solomon islands by the Europeans. The rear wall of the porch or balcony is decorated with clubs, spears, bows, arrows and shields of the occupants and also the carved sticks that the natives tend to carry in their hands during their festive dances are stored here. Below the balcony is some kind of barn for the tame pigs which are missing in no hut and are considered like housemates. Such a balcony with its decorations, the camped smoking natives and the pigs in the lower part adding to the entertainment of their „masters“ by grunting delivered a strange genre painting.

The interior of the huts which are closed by a low door covered by bast mats consists as well as we were able to see from the outside of a large room on whose walls hang all kind of tools and an open fire in a round pit surrounded by stones where they cook. Some kind of folding screen made out of raw netting divides the room in some of these huts into smaller compartments into which the women seem to have fled at our arrival, while the men, during our visit, either came up to us without inhibitions or stood on the threshold of their home and looked astonished at the strange intruders.

As in New Caledonia, the inhabitants of Owa raha are conspicuous for their muscular, strong build but their facial features, especially in the case of old people, are consistently very ugly. The curly, incredibly thick hair is combed upwards and tied together in a tuft.  In general, however, the inhabitants of the Solomon islands tend to cut their hair or to wear it hanging down or in small braids. In some individuals I noticed the strange appearance of flaccid hairs pasted together into bushels so that the whole looked like the coat of a fuzzy poodle. Some of the natives have a somewhat lighter skin color and are different from their comrades whose color is dark coffee brown almost black. The clothing is limited to almost only decorative objects. Above all, the natives of Owa raha pin the most various things in their ears whose earlobes are pierced and artifically enlarged so that pieces of wood multiple centimeters in size can be wedged in. As another kind of ornament we see objects made out of glass pearls or dog teeth or rows upon rows of tiny shells on the neck and the front. Arm and foot rings are mostly made out of netting into which also are woven shells or snails. Nose rings are often made out of tortoiseshell. Very popular are European hats and it offers a very funny sight to see such a black guy wearing only an old top hat or straw hat coming out of his hut.

Nature here offers so much voluntarily that the natives do not have to toil much. Their sustenance is provided by the sea rich in fish and by the inexhaustible plant cover of the land. Pigs, poultry, fish, tortoises, mussels provide the meat in their food. Overall, though, they are vegetarians and eat mostly roots of all kind produced in fields and gardens such as yam and taro which are cultivated in places cleared by fire. Then there are fruits of the areca  and sago palm tree, Musa sapientium and Musa paradisiaca etc. As stimulants serve, as already reported by Mendana, betel and stimulating but also intoxicating beverage called kawa made out of the roots of Piper methysticum.

The great pleasure of the islanders is smoking and chewing betel. Never one sees a male native without tobacco which they procure through trade nor without a betel box, even most women were used to smoke short pipes. The present of a few cigars made the men who we met immediately more forthcoming. The original timidity left them and one of them showed his pleasure, thanks to a cigar offered, by beginning some sort of dance throwing his arms into the air which he accompanied with shouts and comical gesturing.

We now asked our European guide to lead us a bit into the interior of the island to which he agreed after a longer discussion and we were led by him first for some time along the coast and then on a small track path into the woods. In this moment everyone shouted in astonishment as the splendor of the plant world which we suddenly saw was almost overwhelming. The narrow gorge which took us in was formed on both sides by porous walls made out of tuft and these and the ground show themselves covered over and over with the most gorgeous palm trees, namely Phytelephas, Pandanus, fern trees to whose tops rose hundreds of growing plants entangling branches and trunks.

Every step made us stop with amazed gaze upon new forms and never before seen strange plants which no greenhouse holds nor no books know. I lamented vividly to know only our local flora and not the flora of tropical countries in order to determine  at least a part of orders, families and species of the plants I met here.

In phytological relations still less well known and incompletely researched Solomon islands seem as far as variety, wealth of forms and luxuriousness are concerned to be of a unique nature. It even pushes the gorgeous vegetation of Java into the background. Humidity, warmth and terrain unite here in the impenetrable jungle to produce tropical plants of all kinds in the greatest luxury from the plain to the highest mountain tops, so that a hike through this fairy tale plant world of Owa raha will amaze every friend of nature with true delight. Every spot we came too seemed to be derived from the richest greenhouses. What we consider the most valuable gifts of the greenhouse, glass box or flower table and admire in miniature grows here as mighty trees, as bushes, herbs, grass, flowers of a giant and luxurious form. The ground — geologically young eruptive stones form the mass of the Solomon islands — offers  the plants in fact in the humous decomposition products of the so nutritive plant substances in connection with the tropical heat and the not permanent but frequent rain in this areas an incomparable basis to grow and set roots.

Here stand ficus trees whose trunks reach probably more than 80 m in height and that cover with their giant branches an area of more than 100 m2. Next to it rise giant Dracaenae, Araliaceae, rubber trees, in between the most beautiful fan palms, and each of the trunks is straight as an arrow and covered with hundreds of parasite plants and orchids, entangled by all kinds of lianas. Everything grows, prospers, sprawls. Where a tree falls to the ground due to the burden of its age or broken by the wind, on its trunk rises within a short delay again trees thick as an arm and airborne roots become individual plants as soon as they touch mother earth. Each plant bears fruit, each semen grows, each seed sprouts buds and leaves. Everywhere there is new life and plants are reborn. Never has a human hand touched the trunks of this jungle. Almost without bound they rise towards the clouds. To determine the height of one of these forest giants approximatively we used the only tool we had. We fired namely with our best rifles some grain at birds that had flown up from a tree top without however the grain reaching there.

Time again the smooth roots and the broken tuft stones were impeding our steps in the virgin forest. But we soon advanced more quickly as in the hitherto visited tropical woods because the lianas do not populate the ground as densely. Even in the most swampy places that often crossed our path and were covered with the most beautiful leaf plants of all sizes and kinds could be crossed without difficulties. Thus we entered deeper admiring and observing constantly until we suddenly stood at the edge of an enchanting lake whose shore trees whose trunks and branches hung in the water and stood so densely that we could see the surface only through the gaps in the green leaf wall. In honor of „Elisabeth“, the first warship of our navy that had visited the Solomon islands I named the beautiful body of water „Lake Elisabeth“ which was not marked on any maps nor in the sailing handbooks. Its width is about 400 m; as we did not have enough time we could not determine its length.

Hunting catches were slim on this expedition. On the one hand, Owa raha did not seem to offer many specialities in its fauna and on the other hand, the birds ha almost all hid themselves in the tree tops due to the pouring rain. Only at the shore of Lake Elisabeth I managed to bag two pigeons (Ptilopus richardsi and Carpophaga pistrinaria).

With time evening approached so that we had to leave the newly baptised lake to return to the village of Owa raha where as the rain had diminished in intensity a vivid trade had developed. Tobacco products, especially Virginia cigars, were in high demand by the natives while toilet articles were not asked for. For two cigarettes I received a beautiful spear but only a woven bag for a colored handkerchief. Thus one of the delicate batiste handkerchiefs bought on Vienna’s Graben was transferred as a decoration and only piece of clothing on the neck of a dark female cannibal! Also many of the gentlemen of my staff could not resist the rich offering of wooden spears, harpoons and decorative objects and paid with all kinds of articles from home until we returned with fully filled boats back on board.

Less well than our expedition was what had happened to Mallinarich. He had separated himself with two sailors from us next to the village and had, while we marched East, walked towards the West to collect corals and shells according to my wishes.

Everybody had received the appropriate order to return on board at sunset but that time had already gone without somebody from Mallinarich’s expedition making an appearance. Hour upon hour went until a general commotion reigned on „Elisabeth“. The most adventurous guesses about the expedition’s failure to return were heard, some thought that they had been caught as prisoners others stated that Mallinarich was certainly being cooked as a tasty treat in a large cauldron. As most of us had been of the opinion that the expedition must have lost its way and would not return before dawn next morning. The commander had the whole coast illuminated by the large electric projectors and a boat with armed men was searching the beach but nothing was visible. Finally a large detachment with lanterns and rockets under the command of officers was sent out to search for them and was just on the way to the interior of the island when repeated signal shots were heard from the cape. Immediately a boat was sent there and after 10 o’clock in the evening Mallinarich and the two sailors were back on board, tired but healthy.

Searching on the beach they had drifted too far away in our urge to collect so that dusk surprised them and suddenly when it started to get dark, they noticed about fifteen natives who blocked their way to the beach. Quickly the three decided to turn into the direction they had come but also on that side were natives, five in number, who came out of the wood. Thus our three were almost surrounded by armed savages who took more and more threatening stances. Seeing a gap in the surrounding circle around him and the two sailors, Mallinarich fired a shot on the row of enemies, pushed the closest savage to the ground and escaped with the sailors from the enemy group. As they kept their position between the threatened group and the boats and thus cut off the retreat to the vehicles, our people were forced to undertake a journey around the whole island which meant that naturally the majority of objects collected on the beach had to be left behind as dangerous baggage.

Perhaps Mallinarich had acted a bit too energetically as perhaps the savages might have been cooled down by negotiating. On the other hand the situation he had been could have been quite awkward and also not suitable for a night march. In any case it was reasonable to congratulate those returning home and ourselves that everything went well.

The natives in the village certainly received the news of the incident quickly. Despite having promised during the evening of my arrival to come on board with new trading objects nobody showed up again.

I used the evening to try a new sport in the beautiful calm bay, fish sticking in light in which our brave boatswain Zamberlin was a true master. He equipped with complete skill which distinguishes the inhabitants of the coast in such matters the dinghy by fixing at the fore the necessary most primitive light apparatus. It only contained a pan-like grid in which thanks to tar and dry spruce wood an intense fire was burning so that the sea was clearly illuminated to a considerable depth.

Slowly we drove over the coral banks looking down to the various fantastic forms that appeared in a reddish tint in the shine of our light source. Here Lilliputian woods and flower beds were rising, there starred a small coral island made out of barbs, points and arms.Then the limy mass formed grottos and caves in which all kind of small light red, sky-blue, grass-green and silver-glittering fish shot up and down. In between lay lazy starfish, sea urchins and sea cucumbers or Holothuroidea, and everything shone, glittered, radiated in the brightest colors, the most delicate nuances as soon as light touched them in a manner only sea water with its strange refractive power is able to create.

Large fish we could see only at the beginning of the journey then they disappeared into the deep areas having been frightened by the sound of the rudder and by the lights. Still our boatswain managed like Neptune standing with a harpoon at the fore to catch some strange pieces, such as a fully white ray, some kind of ocean sunfish, multiple eel-like fishes with a heron-like beak and sharp teeth, a rare beautiful crayfish with black-yellow bands on the extremities and a green armored back. Where the sea was undulating, oil was used to markedly improve the certainty of sticking a fish.

The view of the night-time suddenly illuminated depths of the sea, of the coral structures and all these strange inhabitants of the sea, the fish sticking, the strange magic of the whole journey  — everything imprinted itself deeply into my memory.

Links

  • Location: Owa raha, Solomon islands
  • ANNO – on 07.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Ein Wintermärchen“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Numea, 3 June 1893

For today there was a full program planned. In the morning at 8 o’clock the governor fetched me in his boat to visit the prison which was to be constructed on the island of Nu on the spot where the first penal depot had been built in 1864. Here the hard criminals as well as those who committed crimes during their time of detention which results in harder conditions or a prolongation of the sentence were to be kept. Furthermore the prisoners coming newly from France or from the colonies are to stay there until they can be distributed to the various places on the island.

After half an hour we landed at a garden which is assigned to the director of the establishment. It consists of a large number of large widely dispersed locations which we visited guided by the director. We started at a small barracks where a detachment of about 100 men of marine infantry under the command of a captain was staying. Then we had a look at various workshops where the prisoners performed various crafts such as a bakery, locksmithery, carpentry etc. In this prison too the prisoners are housed during the night in long rows of houses side by side like in Montravel. Only here the houses are surrounded by high walls. The middle of the housing complex was a place of execution where on occasion the guillotine is set up; all prisoners have to attend the executions on their knees while behind them the soldiers take up position with loaded rifles.

Above the prisoner houses rises a mighty building without windows in which small cells intended for the hardest criminals and namely the recidivists. These contain wooden beds with a blanket each to which the prisoner can be shackled with iron bars. To my surprise I found books in some of the prisoner’s cells. The director of the prison intends to house the hardest criminals in other locations without beds where the prisoner has to sleep on the naked ground and has no benefits at all.

The first cell whose iron door was opened for me held a six-times murderer whose fate rested on the outstanding decision of the president of the republic. When the governor directed a few questions to the prisoner condemned to death, he showed his bad behavior and answered quite impertinently. The criminal was shackled on one foot. The other leg which had been wounded by a revolver shot when he had attacked one of the guards was bandaged. A still young man of a strong almost Herculean build, the deported had started his criminal career by murdering his lover.

I had almost all the cells in the building opened and made the impression that the inmates showed without exception impertinent behavior which was evident in their answers. True criminal physiognomies that indicated crime and vice and made us realize that we faced the scum of the earth.

A part of the inhabitants of these houses  is awaiting their turn at the guillotine which was shown next. I had this earnest instrument of justice never seen before and could not resist an awkward feeling, due not in the least to the the cruelties of the large revolution which passed through my mind. The executioner, a former prisoner, a truly vile guy demonstrated how a criminal is tied to the horrible board and explained the mechanism of the machine. Finally he let the blade crash down on a reed bundle which was cut through by the impact of the falling executioner’s sword. This was accompanied by the vile man’s cynical jokes and smiling, he finally presented me with his photograph which had his name and the following words: „Executeur des hautes oeuvres“.

We visited also the magazine with all supplies and tools for road construction and then walked some kilometers to the hospital which was under the care of merciful sisters and held about 150 sick persons and is situated in a beautiful, healthy location at the edge of the sea. It was exemplary well run, especially concerning cleanliness and order.

Next to the hospital was an institution for the mentally ill with a large garden where these unfortunate humans seemed to be as well cared for as was possible. During my visit there were scenes similar to those in other mental homes. As all the poor ill persons approached us and gave speeches, presented themselves as kings of Spain and other countries, declared to be kept here illegally as mentally ill persons and uttered many words of sad mental state. One man who suffered from rage attacks of such an intensity that he could break iron bars that were as thick as a thumb showed me a nice blanket he had woven.

Leaving this dark place we drove in the barge and then with the wagon to the country retreat of the governor which was half an hour outside of Numea to attend here a Pilu-Pilu, that is a music and choreographic and warlike performance of the natives, in the honor of M. Gallet, the official in charge of native affairs. Under a tent that is usually set up on a place for lawn tennis games we enjoyed this strange but exciting spectacle.

Two groups of about fifty natives each from Montfaue and Huailu performed a funeral dance together accompanied by song. These groups alternated in the performance of a number of dances and then made room for the natives from Bai who also excelled in dance and song. The natives of Montfaue then sang a song that told about episodes and memories of the uprising of 1878, the year of uprising and war. In these fights the tribe of Unua fought on the French side. One of that tribe, a chief called Dui won fame by his audacity in the fight against the rebellious natives.

The members of each tribe distinguish themselves by their appearance from other tribes only in details. Their dances and songs are also similar. All actors, tall beautifully grown men, wore full war costumes with long spears and heavy clubs while the chiefs wearing many centimeters more of clothing than during the hunt yesterday were also armed with axes made out of serpentine stones. White cock feathers as well as combs stuck into the thick curly hair served as headdress.

The dances which were executed with a precision that would make any well drilled corps de ballet proud were accompanied by wild but at least rhythmic songs which included the singers convincingly imitating animal voices and sounds of nature. The choreographic productions — every single movement was executed by all dancers in sync — were partly funeral dances, that is religious ceremonial, partly war dances partly the illustration of emotions, actions, customs, machines etc. Thus one could see in an audacious step and movement: fruit bats, cattle, love, war canoes, a taro harvest feast, hunting, fishing, a free horse, the turning of a ship screw, a European threatening with his finger, a man with crippled arms, even the signals of a semaphore and surveying the land — for a ballet master a true treasure chest of surprising new effects.

In their songs these wild artists express partly harmless views and exhortations partly energetic inimical and bellicose thoughts and even examples of anthropophagous poetry. The latter was namely also the case in the sung episodes about the year 1878 of the Montfaue. Whatever the individual truth behind the content of these tales they were taken in their whole originality from the points of view of a primitive people and formed in a most naive way: „Prepare for the dance (Nipagüeü-nipagüeü)! — You are numerous, all begin! Dance the Nequipin! — Put a canoe in the river! — Have persons thin due to the inundation and his ship be carried away! — Prepare for battle! — Shout the war cry! — We want to kill chief Dui! — I will cut his brother Meino in two pieces! —“ etc.

The spectacle received great interest not only because it permitted insight into the importance of dance and song for these primitive humans as a means to express their desires, moods and feelings but also because these spectacles showed an excellent powers of observation and real talent to perform the noticed. They thus confirm the above average intelligence of the wild artists. Most remarkable was the endurance and the effort with which they danced and sang as well the rage that flashed in the physiognomies of the dancers.

The following spear throwing of the natives offered nothing exceptional as they were probably exhausted and excited from the dance so that many spears missed their target. The slinging of stones however was very original. The islanders put hard stones that they had sharpened at both ends into conical points into a twisted slip knot made out of fibers which they swung around in circles so that the stone escapes with speed and flies toward the distant target with force. The projectile flies hurling through the sky and penetrates even fairly think planks. These slings were once used as dangerous weapons in the never-ending fights between the different tribes.

This production was followed by a Pilu-Pilu native from Lifu, the largest of the Loyalty islands. The facial characteristics of these islanders who also have Polynesian blood mixed in are more beautiful than those of the natives of New Caledonia. They are also said to be more intelligent and more open to trade with Europeans than the latter. In contrast to the New Caledonians the  Lifuese were painted in the most flashy colors mostly vermilion and sky-blue. Even their faces had been fully covered and individual artists wore grotesque face masks. The Lifu islanders acted in two groups one of which performed a dance of the warriors accompanied by song. The other produced an episode of the family history of an old demon again with song and dance. The latter production starting with monotonous singing suddenly turned into wild pantomimic movements that however were executed only by a few artists while the others crouched or clapped hands and shouted.

This performance had an erotic character as it treated the kidnapping of the wife of an old demon by multiple young devils. These appear and try to lure the wife away from the old demon with all kinds of inciting tales. The old demon’s warning voice dies away in vain. „Come with us, our land is beautiful, and the paths that led there fine“ sing the young demons. After the fearful old demon’s „Don’t listen to them“ the flighty wife sings „I will follow you“, so that the old demon left alone can only ask the empty question „Where is my wife?“ and sadly answer in resignation „I have lost her..!“ The show would not have been suitable for ladies as the wild artists enjoyed their exuberant even unrestrained fantasies and many alternating songs especially that between the wife and the young devils left out nothing of comic and drastic matter.

Thus the program of the morning was complete. I then returned on board while my gentlemen ambled through the town and there made a number of purchases of ethnographic objects for me.

In the government building illuminated brightly as daylight by lampions and gas flames and whose entrance was a glittering triumphal arch, the governor hosted a gala dinner attended by about thirty dignitaries of Numea among them the bishop, the president of the council, the ship commander, the colonel of the infantry regiment, various councillers and other officials. In full concordance with the long duration of the hunting breakfast, the dinner lasted considerable time too so that after two hours no end was in sight. When the champaign was opened, the governor rose to offer a long but good and well received toast to His Majesty and me to which I replied with a few words. The dinner music was provided by a band composed of prisoners. As waiters too deported persons were used who probably had only been sentenced for small crimes and who wore immaculate livery appropriate to the occasion instead of prisoner clothing.

After the dinner which we left only at a late night hour, M. Picquie led me into a side room where he presented me a displayed collection of Kanak weapons and fetishes and to my pleasant surprise, to offer it, a kind act for which I am all the more thankful to the governor as this collection contains some pieces that are valuable due to their rarity and thus are a valuable enrichment to my prior acquisitions.

In the brightly illuminated garden a dance number by the Loyalty islanders was seen by a large audience as the governor had invited also the staff of Elisabeth“ and those of the French warships. The show resembled those in the morning only the wild men accompanied  their dances with sounds of somewhat primitive musical instruments, a kind of drum made out of leaves and plant fibers.

Then we said good-bye to the governor, assured him our vivid thanks for the most obliging and even cordial reception he gave us as well for his successful efforts to make our short stay on New Caledonia as agreeable and as educating as possible and repeated our large interest for this island.

Links

  • Location: Numea, New Caledonia
  • ANNO – on  03.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Der letzte Brief“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Numea, 1 June 1893

Above the island of New Caledonia lay heavy clouds which blocked the lighthouse from our view during the night and made navigation more difficult for „Elisabeth“. Taking the bearing of Mount Mu showed that the ship had moved far to the South during the night. The position had to be corrected and course set for the lighthouse of the small island of Amédée which we sighted towards 8 o’clock in the morning. The wind and the motion of the sea had much diminished and in time the sun broke through victoriously so that the contours of New Caledonia with its high mountains became clearer and clearer appearing out of the calm waves of the ocean. Towards 9 o’clock in the morning „Elisabeth“ was in front of the Bulari passage where we took the pilot called from Amédée on board and then we drove between the reefs which accompany New Caledonia along the Northeast and Southwest coast with only a few breaks in between and reach out far in the North and South as well as through the small green islands of Brun and Dubouzet.

After we had celebrated the feast of Corpus Christi with service in the battery, the ship was moored at half past 10 o’clock in the morning in the inner harbor of Numea at the Messageries maritimes buoy offered by the harbor captain.

New Caledonia generally comprises the whole archipelago. This includes the main island discovered in 1774 by Cook and named in the honor of North Scotland New Caledonia, the  Loyalty islands Mare, Lifu, Uea and Beaupre islands to the east discovered in 1795 as well as L’Île-des-Pins, Southeast of the main island, and finally the Chesterfield islands to the West. New Caledonia and the Loyalty islands together include an area of 19.823 km2 and 62.752  inhabitants according to the census of 1890.

First colonized by English merchants and missionaries, New Caledonia and the Lifu group of islands were declared French territory by admiral Fevrier-Despointes in 1853. The actual permanent French governance over the long resisting natives only happened after the subduing the insurrection of 1875 to 1878.

Earlier ruled by the governor of the islands of Tahiti and the Marquesas, the colony called „New Caledonia and dependencies“ has its own special governor since 1860 with his seat in Numea, while the main French settlement used to be Balade in the Northeast of the island from 1853 to 1854. New Caledonia is darkly notorious for its penal colony. Even though there had been prisoner transports to here earlier, only the internment of multiple thousands of criminals in the year 1871 made the island notable for a wider audience.

The island of New Caledonia lies to the East of Australia between 20 degrees latitude and the tropic of capricorn. Its width is relatively small compared to its length of 440 km. The coasts are accompanied by mountain ranges consisting in the South-east of Mont Humboldt, 1634 m. These mountain ranges drop off sharply in the North-east to the sea, while in the South-west coast there are plains between the foot of the mountain and the beach.

The entrance to the harbor offers beautiful sights even though the scenery of the landscape we were seeing can not match those of Port Jackson. The harbor of Numea is formed toward the West by a tongue protruding into the sea on which sits the town of Numea. Towards the East the harbor is closed off by a number of small islands. Here too the view passes over picturesque bays that reach deeply into the land up to the foot of the mountains like Bulari Bay in the East and Dombea Bay to the Northwest of Numea. The Mont des Sources at 1025 m and Mont Dore at 775 m are the most notable mountains.

In the harbor anchored the armored ship „Thetis“, the transport dispatch boats „Durance“ and „Scorff“, as well as the dispatch boat „Loyalty“ and the English cruiser „Tauranga“. Our territorial salute was answered by a land battery at a very slow pace — the individual shots happened after long intervals. While mooring the ship at the buoy, a small incident took place. A steam barge bringing baggage to „Elisabeth“ collided with the ship due to its clumsy maneuvering throwing one man out of the barge into the sea. But he was soon thereafter fished out of the water with a hook.

The town of Numea, even though it is situated in picturesque surroundings, presents naturally not improved by the fact that one can see from the ship the purpose of the town as the capital of a penal colony. Along the bay are groups of small houses and prisons with high walls. Whole columns of prisoners clad in denim and protected effectively against the sun with large straw hats are working on the construction of a quay.

When we were moored, the commander of the dispatch boat „Loyalty“, ship of the line lieutenant Louis Lucas, appeared first to offer his services, then came governor M. Albert Picquie to welcome me in the name of the colony, accompanied by the commander of the land and naval forces as well as the commander of the warships, and to discuss the program of the coming days. The governor seemed to be not very pleased himself about the country that he had to govern as he repeatedly said that I would be disappointed in all aspects.

An hour later I returned the visit of the governor in his small government building which lies about in the middle of the town on a hill and is surrounded by a garden where a statue of liberty causes an artistically not really beautiful impression that stands in a rather stark contrast to the purpose of the colony. The parlors of the building are large and paneled with local wood. The governor must be an animal lover as an important number of large cages with parrots and pigeons was in the garden of the residence. Deer too could be seen whose species seemed to me to be different from those on Java.

Accepting the invitation of the governor to visit the surrounding of the town I drove in his company in a four horse carriage whose horses alternatingly became lame first to Montravel, where a prison is located for housing prisoners working in the town and the surrounding areas during the night. 50 men each occupy one house where each man is assigned a hammock. On a plank above them the prisoners could store their possessions. Between the houses of which there are I think twelve small patches of vegetable gardens are set up as well as guard houses and a kitchen.

I was very astonished about the great quantity of food the prisoners received daily. They get coffee in the morning, meat with vegetables at noon and in the evening again vegetables. It seems to me to go too far to provide these jailbirds as far as food and board is concerned as well if not better than the soldiers. My astonishment increased when suddenly a music band appeared that was constituted by 40 prisoners and welcomed me with a fast played waltz by Strauß. This musical assignment not compatible with the idea of punishment I can not approve. Apart from everything because these musicians by performing their musical activities are spared from having to do any hard labor.

In total there are about 8000 prisoners on the island who are mostly building roads but also assist in mining the large nickel mines. Regarding the local distribution and occupation one distinguishes more or less three kinds of prisoners:  Those coming directly from France or the colonies who are immediately put to work at the different places of the island. Then there are those deported who commit new crimes on the island and were sent as die-hards to the actual main depot on the island of Dubouzet or Nu. Finally the so called Libérés who had already completed their sentence but were not allowed to return to France. The latter enjoy almost a state of liberty but are still under political surveillance and had to report to the government on certain days. Prisoners who were sentenced for eight years are not allowed to return to their own soil. Those sentenced to less than eight years may return home after the double number of years. The largest contingent of the deported are naturally made up by the French, but there are also among the prisoners  numerous Arabs from Algeria as well as prisoners from Tongking. Discharged NCOs of the French army serve as guards.

The governor made many surprising remarks to me about the state of the penal colony. He is only in office for half a year and seemed to be a very energetic man who shares my opinion that humanity towards criminals individuals among the categories of the deported gone too far has bad consequences and at the same time seems to be unjust towards the decent elements of society. The predecessor of M. Picquies seemed to have acted with extreme mildness and established the principle that prisoners should not be forced to work which had the result that most refused to work. Naturally under such a forgiving rule there were a number of abuses. The patriarchal state that came to be is shown by the fact that the criminals erected triumphal arches to the former governor when he made inspections with the letters „A notre père“. The life of the prisoners were quite nice.

When these conditions were finally noticed and the newly installed governor had reined in these practices, he was met with much resistance. The prisoners were no longer used to work. It even happened that some prisoners gouged out their own eyes in order to not having to work. The governor countered by sending those who had gouged out their eyes into the mountains to have these immolators cut stones for ten hours per day — a drastic proceeding that taught the other prisoners a most healthy lesson.

When he came into office M. Picquie had two of the worst criminals and gang leaders decapitated what however made the colonial council advising the governor anxious with concerns. It thus vetoed the death penalty when the governor again wanted to condemn a criminal to death who had already murdered six persons and finally tried to kill a guard so that the governor was required to appeal the decision to the president of the republic. No decision had been made during our stay here.

Our drive now turned to the interior of the island along a beautiful road that crossed a swamp thickly covered with mangrove bushes and then along the foot of the mountains in an Eastern direction towards blue-green Niauli forests in which we found individual araucariae and coconut palms. The Niauli tree (Melaleuca viridiflora), a Myrtaceae species with a crippled trunk, covers nearly the full island and gives it a character that is reminiscent of Australia. Out of the Niauli tree oil is collected which is similar to the cajuput oil produced by Melaleuca leucodendron in chemical composition.

Along the road one finds everywhere small gendarmerie barracks and posts whose garrison keeps up the order among the working prisoners as well as the policmen’s houses or more exactly huts who are recruited from the native Melanesisan population which is mixed with Polynesian elements. If a prisoner escapes to the endless forests of the colony, something which happens fairly often, then it is these native policemen who track down the fugitive with their fine senses and return them — actually only as a dead body. Fleeing prisoners either die of hunger or are murdered by the hand of the natives as the government pays out a prime of 25 Francs for each escapee dead or alive. As the natives find it much more convenient to return but the cut-off head than the live prisoner, this is the consequence. As incredible as it seems given the about 1600 sea miles of distance between the colony and the closest point on the mainland — Brisbane, there are a few but mostly just a few cases where prisoners managed to escape successfully from New Caledonia.

We also passed the nice settlements of the Libérés. But the settlements of free European colonists are rather scarce on the islands despite all the efforts of the French government to support such settlements, as any respectable man understandably is reluctant to permanently settle on this island dedicated to criminals or stay as soon as he knows about the actual state here.

The governor deplored that this beautiful island with its good and healthy climate, its productive soil and the rich mineral wealth — gold, copper, antimony, cobalt and especially nickel — is in fact renounced from being settled by free colonists and thus lies bare in such a large part. Even though the conditions are met both for the growth of tropical plants — the cultivation of cotton, maize and coffee is growing— and the growth of temperate plants, agriculture is not at a higher state than negligently managed  cattle breeding so that the island is still today dependent in many relations on imports from Australia. Great care is given by the natives who prefer to eat plant matter to the cultivation of taro (Colocasia antiquorum), yams roots, sugar cane etc. By the way the development of the island lets as far as the roads and other public works are concerned much to be desired according to the opinion of neutral observers. In France the reasons are said to be well known that currently hinder the full development of New Caledonia and there exists an intent to send the deported in the future to Cayenne so that respectable members of society can be added to the population of New Caledonia.

In a small valley we passed a Catholic mission not far away from Numea which was led by French nuns who made it their task to educate the native children. The mission does much, like the twelve other ones on the island to raise the moral and material level of the native tribes that not long ago practised cannibalism. Instituting missions seems to be very common in this French colony and show beneficial effects. As all natives on New Caledonia who adhere to Christianity are of the Catholic faith, while the number of Protestants surpasses the Catholics on the Loyalty islands where evangelical missionaries had been at work since 1840.

Turning towards the city we ascended a steep path that offered a beautiful view upon the distant coast,  Mont Dore and the small islands of the Bulari Bay.

The artillery horses of the battery of Numea drawing our wagon did not seem to be used to this task. Soon after the departure, they already showed signs of exhaustion and had reached the end of their strength when we wanted to ascend the mountain. They could not be moved by any means and we had to leave the wagon and continue our drive in another vehicle.

The regularly organized streets of the town intersect at a right angle. The houses are small, ugly and visibly built in a haste. The general view of the town is overall a melancholic one. Everywhere one meets the long columns of prisoners marching in pairs to an from work, many of whom are in chains for having attempted to flee or disciplinary offenses etc. There is not much life in the streets only a few Europeans and now and then a few natives become visible. Numea has besides the governor’s mansion also a large military hospital, two barracks, one of which is occupied by a marine infantry regiment the other with artillery, as well as multiple schools and depots. A beautiful church is being constructed and is nearing completion.

Returned on board I enjoyed a splendid evening with a gorgeous full moon glitteringly mirrored in the calm sea. Agreeable cool air fanned the brow. Now and then the calls of the guards on the warships could be heard by us. From the Place des Cocotiers, however, where our music band was giving a concert the noble sounds of our anthem rang out which was repeated no less than three times due to the roaring demands of the numerous audience.  For a long time I remained on deck, lost in my thoughts.

Links

  • Location: Numea, New Caledonia
  • ANNO – on  01.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Der Meister von Palmyra“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Sydney, 27 May 1893

All Sydney today was talking only about the ball of the „Austrians“. In the streets, photographies of „Elisabeth“ were sold; the newspapers devoted multiple columns to reporting about our party and our cabin was overflowing with flowers which ladies had sent on board. Some ladies were said to have planned to send a delegation on board — led by a particularly beautiful spokeswoman — in order to effect a delay of departure for „Elisabeth“. Unfortunately this flattering request could not be granted due to the strictness of the travel itinerary from which we had already departed by extending the stay in Sydney harbor. I believe that nobody on board the ship would not have heartily welcomed to extend the stay in gorgeous New South Wales and namely in happy Sydney. Everywhere there was hope said as a joke that machine damage would force a prolonged stay which was not possible according to the official program. Various ladies were under suspicion — if the gossip were right — to have tempted our engineer to cause such machine damage.

I used the last day of our stay in Sydney for visits and shopping. I also went again to the museum to look more closely at the in fact interesting collection of ethnographic objects of the native territories of Australia and the South Sea. Apart from numerous weapons made only out of wood and cut stones as in those territories iron is partly unknown I also found as original as horrible dance and war masks. Many of these had been made out of human scalps and in many territories it was common to use parts of the slain enemies to produce various objects such as jewelry, hollow ware, weapons etc.  Martial decorations, products of a very primitive local industry and a whole collection of canoes with carved and painted oars offer a good image of the cultural level of their creators. I also browsed through the bird collection to determine more precisely various species of which I had bagged individual representatives during the hunting expedition in the country.

I managed to buy a large part of the ethnographic objects of a private collector whose objects exclusively were made by the original inhabitants of Australia called „Aborigines“ who are at the lowest cultural level and are in the way of dying out. In 1891 there were in total 8280 „Aborigines“ in New South Wales — 4559 men, 3721 women — who stood under the protection of a special association called „Aborigines Protection Society“, that was tasked to civilize as far as possible the former masters of the land and to atone for many of the atrocities inflicted upon them.

During the dinner we took again in the excellent Australian Hotel a funny scene happened which was typical of the naivety and also confidingness and, I might say, cosiness here and thus merits to be remembered. While I sat at a table with Clam and Sanchez, two well dressed gentlemen approached, introduced themselves as owners of a Sydney company and asked pointing at me whether I were the prince. When this was answered in the affirmative, they requested to shake my hand and when Clam indicated that this was not proper, they requested that I at least take a drink to their health — an impertinence that I however still complied with due their entertaining originality after which the satisfied gentlemen calmly went away.

The evening we spent in a circus that had arrived in Sydney two days before. It offered, filled to the last densely packed seat, performances that one had to appreciate even though one could naturally not expect anything new in this much practiced art. A special mention deserves an Aboriginal boy captured in the interior of the land who had accepted his new fate and showed feats of astonishing skill. The condition and quality of the horses however left much to be desired. During a break the director came to me to invite me to visit the stables where he proudly presented me two horses with special consideration as these animals the director valued so much had been ridden by Sarah Bernhardt. It seemed that the circus master qualified this as a special sign of the horses‘ talents for their current occupation. That actress was doubtless more familiar with tragedies than with horseflesh. Her former chargers were quite nasty and rich in flaws.

In his tent the director presented me — what turned out to be no less comical — one after another all his male and female artists whose colorful but quite used costumes ornamented with all kinds of glitter were a strange enough contrast to the artistic self-esteem expressed in the faces and stature of this masters and mistresses of their trades. Among the ladies the snake girl was especially notable for her pretty face. A fast steeple chase ridden through the whole circus which included a few good jumps concluded the show.

Links

  • Location: Sydney, Australia
  • ANNO – on  27.05.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Faust“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the ballet “Die goldene Märchenwelt”.

Sydney, 26 May 1893

At 2 o’clock in the morning we steamed out of Moss Vale and towards Sydney. Despite the severe cold and the bad bed I slept splendidly. We had made good use of the day before being on foot without interruption from 6 o’clock in the morning to midnight.

I found everybody on board very busy with decorating our ship most brightly for the ball in the afternoon, the officers and the men competing in the effort. Tents had been set up on deck, electric lighting effects prepared, flowers, plants, flags and carpets lay ready to be used for decorative purposes. As much as the noise caused by these preparations permitted, I tried to sleep a little bit longer, and then drove towards 10 o’clock on land where the kind minister of education was waiting for me to watch a demonstration of a machine shearing a sheep. Even though it was not the season for such a procedure, one of the big wool companies had set up one of their machines to show me the procedure — a sign of the friendly reception we enjoyed everywhere in New South Wales.

The sheep shearing machine was similarly constructed as our horse shearing machines and are powered by steam and work exceedingly fast without harming the animal in the slightest. Something that happens very often during a manual shearing. Furthermore the resulting wool is very smooth and it shears off everything to the last atom. A man is capable to shear 120 to 150 animals per day. The highest performance that a very skillful and worker is capable of achieving is shearing 200 sheep. I tried personally to shear a ram and thus was able to personally witness how simple it was to handle the machine and how splendidly it worked. My example found many imitators among my gentlemen and other spectators so that the elegantly dressed group of gentlemen engaged in shearing sheep provided quite a comical sight. In the large magazines of many floors we passed through are stored many thousands stapled wool bales awaiting to be shipped out, representing an enormous capital value.

From here the minister accompanied me to a large meadow in a public garden where the natives were to demonstrate throwing boomerangs and spears. A black man from Western Australia, a truly hideous sight, demonstrated this art of his people in throwing the boomerangs made out of iron and wood and shaped like a scythe in different manners so that they always returned to him. Soon these projectiles rose straight up into the air, rotating constantly, soon they formed a circle or an ellipse and fell down at the feet of the thrower. Then they flew for an extended distance swooshing a meter above the ground only to suddenly rise high up etc.

Finally the Australian discus thrower threw two boomerangs at the same time in opposite directions, so that their paths crossed before they returned to him. A correctly thrown boomerang kills a human due to its enormous flying speed. The long distance spear throwing was as interesting. Even at a distance of 200 paces the thrower was very accurate in his throws.

An object of great pride for Sydney is its art gallery whose collection has only started a few years ago, and I gladly followed the desire of the city to pay it a visit. As neither effort nor cost have been spared for the acquisition of art works, the gallery already contains a great number of sometimes very remarkable pictures.

The signatures of Franz Ferdinand and his gentlemen Wurmbrand, Pronay, Clam-Martinic in the visitor's book of the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Courtesy of the museum.

The signatures of Franz Ferdinand and his gentlemen Wurmbrand, Pronay, Clam-Martinic in the visitor’s book of the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Courtesy of the museum.

I found here many works I already knew from the exhibitions in the Viennese Künstlerhaus. Especially an impressive battle painting by Detaille caught my eye, a cavalry attack of French hussars in the year 1809 [actually 1807] which has recently come into possession of the city.

Edouard Detaille (France 05 Oct 1848 – 23 Dec 1912): Vive L'Empereur - Charge of the 4th Hussars at the battle of Friedland, 14 June 1807, 1891.

Edouard Detaille (France 05 Oct 1848 – 23 Dec 1912): Vive L’Empereur – Charge of the 4th Hussars at the battle of Friedland, 14 June 1807, 1891. Art Gallery of New South Wales

Then a much admired picture of the Queen of Sheba’s visit to Solomon, in which the figurative part is well done, namely the queen whose dress the artist has seemingly interpreted quite freely. Otherwise the picture makes, for my taste, a too colorful, given the richness of the colors an almost screaming impression.

Edward John Poynter (England 20 Mar 1836 – 26 Jul 1919): The visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon, 1890

Edward John Poynter (England 20 Mar 1836 – 26 Jul 1919): The visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon, 1890, Art Gallery of New South Wales

The most modern aberration, open-air painting is represented by audacious master works, while among the pastels there are only few of them but those of a very good standard. It is worth mentioning especially a study, the head of a young girl. In the comprehensive and quite solid water colors department, landscapes are given prominence.

The visit to the gallery demonstrated to me that in Sydney there is much interest and understanding for art so that the city will soon own a very comprehensive collection of high artistic value if it continues to follow its current path.

Breakfast was eaten in the formidable Australian Hotel whose director, a Saxon, asked us after the lunch to go up to the tower of the hotel to enjoy a truly splendid view of Sydney and its suburbs. From a bird’s perspective Sydney impressed me by its large extended area. The city lay in front of us like in a large scale painting surrounded by a ring of hills, gardens and bays, coming alive by the stream of humans and vehicles. Unfortunately we could not enjoy this view for long as it was time to return on board where the last preparations for the ball had to be made.

After 2 o’clock the ship was in full gala. Everything was ready and we could calmly await the arrival of our guests  as the artists on board had exceeded even our audacious expectations and the ship indeed looked most splendidly. The middle deck had been transformed into a richly decorated ball room by the erection of a tent in which were placed flags, palm trees and other plants. The interior was ornamented with blue-white linen, while the outside ship parts on deck were covered with black and yellow canvas. This produced a very friendly and cheerful impression. For the music band a high stand had been erected above the stairs and the bridge from which both our, the English and the Australian coat of arms were displayed while the companion deck was surrounded by small tables as it was intended as a buffet for the dancers. All kinds of objects had been transformed into elegant seating furniture. Even the large carpet covered containers in which the corals collected on Thursday Island were stored in water had to serve as canapés.

In a lovely way the iron deck had been turned into a saloon. Heavy carpets lay on the floor and a dense wall of palm trees and flowers closed off the room towards the exterior. in each corner were spots that invited tired dancers to rest there while in the middle of the saloon a happy spring fountain splashed water out of a tuff basin. Strange in the midst of this room dedicated to a happy conviviality stood out the large 24 cm gun — an earnest contrast to the cheerful event that was soon to happen here.

In the battery was a buffet for the older gentlemen and the non-dancing members of society. The prepared large buffet in the officer carré however was only to be opened after the cotillion to provide ample refreshment to the hungry and thirsty on small tables. My saloon was serving as a wardrobe. The cabin of the captain as the ladies‘ wardrobe. Here only we had the assistance of a woman, a marchande de modes who was in charge of arranging the dresses and assist the ladies. Everything else, even the binding of the flowers and the most delicate decorative embellishments had been prepared by the rough sailors‘ hands. Our cook Bussatto was in charge of all buffets and displayed all his art — this time in good mood which was not always the case with him — most brightly exploring all his culinary fantasies. A legion of bowls of cold dishes that he had given the most varied perfectly executed were standing on the tables: rigged ships whose full sails were imminent for departure, palaces, basins with fishes, crowns, all kinds of imaginative land and sea monsters stood in a colorful row, so that the buffets almost resembled a toy store. Our Mahmood was at the head of a group of sailors acting as cupbearers and waiters. In his gold laced gala uniform he was an object of interest for all guests and he appreciated the curiosity especially of the ladies with a dismissive grin.

With uncommon punctuality the arrival of the guests started at 3 o’clock partly in our barges and boats that we had sent out to land, partly in their own vehicles. To send out the invitations we had asked an English admiral who knew Sydney’s society more closely than we and only limited the number of invited guests to 300. Soon, however, there were 500 guests on board as many of the invited had taken relatives along.

We however were not displeased as the ship had the capacity to easily host all those who had come on board and had considerably augmented the ring of beautiful dancers. Apart from the most honorable dignitaries of the city almost only ladies and gentlemen eager to dance had come and I have to admit that I had never before seen so many beautiful girls and ladies assembled on a ball. The ladies of Sydney combined the beauty of the motherland’s country with the Southern graceful moves and the perfect elegance in appearance.

While the music band played some numbers, the ship was closely inspected by the guests. Then the dance started to the sound of the „Blue Danube„. For the dance besides our officers and cadets were also invited all the officers and cadets of all the ships of the Sydney squadron and the Spanish corvette which had arrived two days before in Sydney. As the foreign sailors were nearly inseparable from the buffets and the smoking rooms during the whole ball, only our own gentlemen gave the honor of dancing without being able to fully satisfy the dancing desire of the numerous ladies who had arrived from Sydney despite the eager support by the local gentlemen. The dancing was enthusiastic. Even our captain and Wurmbrand joined in. Thanks to the attractive ladies, some of which were able to speak German or French so that I was able to engage in lively conversation with them, it was a pleasure to dance.

We encountered a courtesy among the gentlemen and ladies of Sydney which did not fail to make its effect. The open unaffected character is combined with a natural kindness — qualities which ease the exchange all the more as despite the honoring the ruling social norms a more open concept of conventional forms was practiced than it is common at home. Thus ladies addressed the word to gentlemen who had not been introduced to them beforehand without inhibition — which could happen all too frequently due to the number of arriving people — and greeted both in meeting and leaving everybody with a handshake.

Shortly before our arrival a banking crisis that had been looming for a long time had hit Sydney caused by overtrading and other reasons which deeply shocked the markets in all areas and was not only reported in the European newspapers but was also felt by the London stock exchange by wide fluctuations. All tiers of the population were negatively affected and had had to bear important losses. Even during our stay, the economic calamity was still going on. Even though our guests seemed not to be affected in their good mood and  cheerfulness, so that one could even hear some witty remarks about the crisis but no laments or complaints.

The cotillion arranged by Ramberg — a new choreographic spectacle for Sydney — pleased our guests immensely. The oldest figures of home such as the tunnel, the eight, columns etc, attracted the most vivid applause and with the final rounds with bouquets and the black and yellow bands the excited mood reached its high point.

Accounting for the cool weather at the moment and having no gifts of meteorological divination to know that the evening would be so mild we had announced the ball to take place in the afternoon and set the time of the event from „3 to 7 o’clock“. In Sydney they seem to respect punctuality both in the time the guests arrive as well as when it is time to leave in order not to create a hint of appearing immodest in staying too long.  Towards 7 o’clock began a general movement of departure. Our insistent pleas and words were in vain. The girls and young ladies were on our side; Mothers, fathers and husbands showed no mercy. Only a tiny group of faithful stayed behind with us, enjoying the dance for a long time and only leave „Elisabeth“ at an advanced hour after happy hours spent cosily on the iron deck.

We can rest well on the honestly and eagerly won laurels and be proud about the unanimous praise of the guests that no warship that entered Sydney had given such a party that was as beautiful and as successful as that on board of our „Elisabeth“.

Links

  • Location: Sydney, Australia
  • ANNO – on  26.05.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Torquato Tasso“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera “Freund Fritz”.

Sydney — Auburn — Moss Vale, 22 May 1893

After I had attended mass on board — it was Whit Monday, I visited a large factory in Auburn, situated West of Sydney in the direction of Parramatta. The factory produces meat tins. It is managed by a group of sheep breeders  and supplies the English and the Belgian army with tins. New South Wales is the classic territory of the meat canning industry. Its importance today in meat production from the numerous herds of Australasia has been started 50 years ago by a Mr. Sizar Elliott from Charlotteplace. In 1892 New South Wales was already exporting meat valued at 3,408.144 fl. in Austrian currency.

Built in open meadows the factory lies close to the large cattle and sheep market on which every week many thousands of cows and sheep from all parts of the country are sold. Large enclosed spaces near the factory are intended to keep the cattle and sheep prior to being butchered.

The tour started in that department responsible for the packaging of the containers and cases are produced out of tin. All these processes such as cutting, turning and soldering are done by machines at enormous speed.

The most important part of the factory is butchering sheep located in a hall that contains compartments for groups of ten sheep each. The butcher kills each sheep by slashing the throat of each animal and at the same time breaking the spine by bending the animal’s head over his knee. Then the butchered piece is taken by two assistants who remove the skin, cut off head and feet and put the gutted body on a rolling band which feeds it into a line. The work proceeds at such a speed thanks to the workers‘ practice in their bloody trade that the whole procedure from the butchering of a sheep to its loading takes only about two minutes, which explains why a good worker can „handle“ about 160 sheep on a daily basis.

The removed skins glide through an opening to a room below where they are packaged to be sold untanned. Heads, feet and entrails are used for producing tallow.

With astonishing skill the workers on the line execute their work in first splitting the body into two parts then removing the parts free of fat and bones, namely loin and ham if they are spotless and move them into cooking cauldrons while the other parts go into pans to produce tallow. It runs out of the pans by special tubes through cooling machines and then directly into barrels. The remainders of the tallow production, namely the bones are used to produce fertilizer.

The pieces of meat intended for preservation are boiled for a short time in cauldrons, then cut into small pieces by machines and pressed into tins that are soldered close after a worker has properly adjusted the mass of meat in the tin. It is then cooked in a water bath in an iron tub. To increase the speed of the process chemical substances are added to the water.

After the completion of this procedure the goods are ready for the market. The whole procedure takes only a few hours from the moment the butchering of the sheep begins to the moment when it disappears into a tin.

In a similar manner beef and sheep tongues are preserved, only the cows are not killed in the manner practised in our country by hitting it on the head. They are shot here. For this purpose cattle are driven into chambers on whose walls are small slits. A butcher approaches to one of the slits, aims for the head’s spot between the horns and shoots one cow after the other with a small caliber rifle, almost a Flaubert.

The factory processes 4000 sheep and 26 cows daily with a relatively low number of workers who are well paid as the weekly earnings are on average around 26,4 fl. in Austrian currency. I tasted various tins and found especially those intended for the military quite tasty. I liked best the beef preserved for the Belgian army.

Back in Sydney we ate breakfast at the amiable and very obliging consul general’s who lived in a very lovely house in one of the suburbs and possesses a large number of interesting objects that he had acquired on his earlier missions in Asia.

As my collection efforts had not abated, I drove in the afternoon to various dealers who had been recommended to me to acquire bird bodies, ethnographic objects as well as platypus hides and there discovered a speciality of Sydney, emu eggs on which were engraved inventive depictions of kangaroos, lyrebirds emus, brushtail possums etc.

A five hour railway drive brought us to Moss Vale, on the Southern Line, 138 km south of Sydney, the starting point for another three days‘ hunting expedition. Mr. Badgery, a farmer, on whose extensive property the hunt would take place this time was our guide. In the station of Moss Vale a rich evening meal was waiting for us. Having conquered it, I retired to the salon wagon that had been decoupled while my entourage booked rooms in a nearby hotel.

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