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Then, again, a curious and isolated method of obtaining a light is found amongst the Saribus Dyaks only. (Instrument exhibited.) Here we have a small brass tube lined with lead-no other metal, the natives say, would produce the same result. A small wooden plunger is made to fit the tube, the end of which is hollowed out in the shape of a small cup, in which is placed the tinder (I forget the nature of the tinder, but think it is procured from the inside bark of a tree). The end of the plunger is then slightly inserted in the tube, and by a sharp blow of the hand driven smartly to the bottom of the tube and then quickly extracted, when the tinder is found to be ignited. This we all know is caused by the forcible exhaustion of the air, but how such an idea should have occurred to the savage mind is beyond my comprehension. The natives rarely fail in obtaining a light, and many of them still stick to their tube and tinder in spite of Bryant & May's matches, which are now found all over the country.
Another remarkable specimen from Borneo is the Parang elang (sword) manufactured by the Kyans of the interior.
The blade is concave on one side, and convex on the other, and is manufactured from native iron ore. It is so finely tempered that it will cut through a nail without turning the edge.
The blade is inlaid with brass, the handle being of carved deer horn decorated with human hair. Altogether the weapon is very superior, and is very highly prized by all the tribes in Borneo.
I then alluded to the interesting collection of specimens made by that promising young explorer, Frank Hatton, in North Borneo, the story of whose life is so pathetically told by his father in a book styled "North Borneo," recently published, in which will be found an interesting description of the arms, &c.
In conclusion, I said I believed Borneo offered a richer field than perhaps any other portion of the globe to all those interested in the study of primitive races, peopled as it is by hundreds of tribes showing every graduation of imperfect civilisation, from men living absolutely in a state of nature-who neither cultivate the ground nor live in houses, but who roam the woods in search of plants and fruits, and in quest of game, which they kill with their blowpipes and poisoned arrows-up to the polished Malay gentleman who affects European dress and gives champagne dinner parties to his English friends.
EXHIBITION of PHOTOGRAPHS of NICOBARESE.
PROFESSOR MELDOLA remarked that before offering any account of the expedition which led to his visiting the Nicobar Islands in 1875, he should like to call attention to the extreme interest of the fire-producing contrivance from Borneo exhibited by Mr. Crocker. It had long been known that sudden compression of air gave rise to the development of heat, and a common form of lecture illustration was to take a stout glass tube closed at one end and provided with a tightly fitting plunger acting as a syringe. A fragment of tinder or a piece of wool moistened with carbon disulphide is placed at the bottom of the tube and the piston forcibly and suddenly pushed down, when the tinder is ignited or the carbon disulphide vapour caused to flash into combustion. It seemed hardly credible that the apparatus exhibited could have been invented by the Borneans, as the outcome of any elaborate chain of reasoning, and at the same time it was not apparent that any observation of natural phenomena could have originated the contrivance. It therefore appeared to him highly desirable, as an anthropological question of great interest, to endeavour to trace this custom to its origin, and he hoped that those having any opportunities for so doing would not fail to take advantage of them.
With reference to the photographs of Nicobar Islanders, Professor Meldola stated that he brought them in the hope of their being of interest in connection with the paper by Mr. Man announced for that evening, although he was not aware at the time of receiving the notice of the meeting that Mr. Man had himself sent over the fine collection of photographs which they now had the opportunity of inspecting. He did not feel it advisable to make any remarks respecting the anthropology of this interesting people, since his own visit to the islands had been extremely short (only about fourteen days), and he was occupied during most of that time in fitting up and taking down astronomical instruments. He was of opinion that a great deal of bad anthropology had resulted from travellers paying hasty visits to certain places and then writing papers about the natives. It was only observers qualified, like Mr. Man, by actually residing for some time among the people themselves, who were in a position to furnish substantial contributions to anthropological science, and all who had followed this author's previous work on the Andaman Islanders would agree in the opinion that the present subject could not have fallen into more competent hands. The expedition which had led to Professor Meldola's
visiting the Nicobar Islands was equipped by the Royal Society in 1875 for the purpose of observing the total solar eclipse of that year, the station selected having been the Island of Camorta, because this place happened to be near the line of greatest totality, and at the same time the fact of its being a penal settlement enabled the observers to have the benefit of convict labour.
The Director read the following paper:
A BRIEF ACCOUNT of the NICOBAR ISLANDERS, with special reference to the Inland Tribe of GREAT NICOBAR. By E. H. MAN, F.R.G.S., &c.
[WITH PLATES XVII TO XIX.]
THE Nicobar group, situated in the Bay of Bengal between the 6th and 10th parallels of N. lat., comprises twelve inhabited and a few uninhabited islands and islets whose entire area is estimated to contain about 738 square miles, nearly one-half of which is included in Great Nicobar.1
As in the course of this paper it will be necessary to make mention of the government settlement in these islands, a brief account must first be given of the causes which led to their occupation by the British-Indian Government.
It had been long more than suspected that the natives in the vicinity of Nancowry Harbour had at intervals from 1839 (if not even prior to that date) committed a series of unprovoked murders and outrages on the crews of vessels visiting these islands for purposes of trade, many of their victims being under the protection of the British flag. It was not, however, until 1867, when a flagrant case was brought prominently to the notice of the Straits Government, that the authorities, decided to deal summarily with the miscreants.
An expedition was accordingly despatched consisting of two gunboats ("Wasp" and "Satellite") with instructions to visit the suspected villages and, after inquiry into the circumstances, to take fitting steps for the prevention of a recurrence of such atrocities. As a result of the investigation, two or three only of the accused offenders were captured and conveyed to Penang, where conviction was obtained in the case of one alone named "Francis," who was sentenced to imprisonment. In order to
1 The area of Great Nicobar is 362 square statute miles.