21st April 1769
Got the Copper Oven ashore and fixed it in the bank of the breastwork. Yesterday, as Mr. Green and Dr. Monkhouse were taking a walk, they happened to meet with the Body of the Man we had shott, as the Natives made them fully understand; the manner in which the body was interred being a little extraordinary. I went to-day, with some others, to see it. Close by the House wherein he resided when living was built a small shed, but whether for the purpose or no I cannot say, for it was in all respects like some of the Sheds or Houses they live in. This shed was about 14 or 16 feet long, 10 or 12 broad, and of a proportionable height. One end was wholy open, the other end and two sides was partly inclosed with a kind of wicker'd work. In this Shed lay the Corps, upon a Bier or frame of wood, with a matted bottom, like a Cott frame used at Sea, and Supported by 4 Posts about 5 feet from the Ground. The body was cover'd with a Matt, and over that a white Cloth; alongside of the Body lay a wooden Club, one of their Weapons of War. The Head of the Corps lay next the close end of the Shed, and at this end lay 2 Cocoa Nutt Shells, such as they sometimes use to carry water in; at the other end of the Shed was a Bunch of Green leaves, with some dry'd twigs tied all together and stuck in the Ground, and a stone lying by them as big as a Cocoa Nutt. Near to these lay a young Plaintain Tree, such as they use as Emblems of Peace, and by it lay a stone Axe. At the open end of the Shed was stuck upwright in the ground the Stem of a Plaintain Tree about 5 feet high, on the Top of which stood a Cocoa Nutt shell full of fresh water, and on the side of the post hung a small Bag, wherein was a few pieces of Bread Fruit roasted ready for eating. Some of the pieces were fresh and others Stale.
The Natives did not seem to like that we should go near the body, and stood at a little distance themselves while we examin'd these matters, and appeared to be pleased when we came away. It certainly was no very agreeable place, for it stunk intollerably, and yet it was not above 10 yards from the Huts wherein several of the living resided. The first day we landed we saw the Skeleton of a human being laying in this manner under a shade that was just big enough to cover it, and some days after that, when some of the Gentlemen went with a design to examine it more narrowly, it was gone. It was at this time thought that this manner of interring their Dead was not common to all ranks of People, as this was the first we had seen Except the Skeleton just mentioned; but various were the opinions concerning the Provisions, etc., laid about the Dead. Upon the whole, it should seem that these people not only believe in a Supreem being, but in a future state also, and this must be meant either as an Offering to some Deitie or for the use of the Dead in the other world; but this latter is not very probable, as there appeared to be no Priest Craft in the thing, for whatever Provisions were put there it appeared very plain to us that there it remain'd until it consumed away of itself. It is most likely that we shall see more of this before we leave the Island, but if it is a Religious ceremony we may not be able to understand it, for the Misteries of most Religions are very Dark and not easily understood, even by those who profess them.
Joseph Banks Journal
Several of our freinds at the tents this morn, one whoom from his grim countenance we have calld Ajax and at one time thought to be a great king. He had on his canoe a hog but he chose rather to sell it at the market than give it to us as a present; which we account for by his having in the morning receivd a shirt in return for a peice of cloth, which made him fear that had he given the hog it might have been taken into the bargain--a conduct very different from that of our freind Lycurgus who seems in every instance to place a most unbounded confidence in us.
Sydney Parkinson’s Journal
We went round the point, and met with Lycurgus sitting on the ground, with his wife by his side, having a canoe covering, which he brought there on purpose to be near us: he gave us a hearty welcome; and, to divert us, ordered two of his boys to play on their flutes, while another sang a sort of melancholy ditty, very well suited to the music. Lycurgus is a middle-aged man, of a chearful, though sedate, countenance, with thick black frizzled hair, and a beard of the same kind: his behaviour and aspect had something of natural majesty in them. I shewed him some of my drawings, which he greatly admired, and pronounced their names as soon as he saw them.
These people have a peculiar method of staining their garments: a girl that was present shewed me the whole process, which is as follows:—She took the young leaves of a convolvulus unsoliated, and then broke off the tops, of a small fig, of a reddish hue, and squeezed out of it a milky fluid, which she spread on a leaf, rubbing it gently to mix it with, the juice of the leaf, and then it became red; this she soaked up with the leaf of a solanum, and then daubed it upon some cloth: the colour is good, but whether it will stand, I am unable to determine. They make a variety of neat basket-work for holding of their colours; the simplest of all is made of the leaf of a cocoa-nut, which they plait together, and gather up on each side: they also make a kind of bonnet of the same materials.
They do not seem very fond of their cloaths, of which they have a variety of colours, but wear them sometimes one way, and sometimes another, as their humour is. Persons of distinction amongst them wrap a number of pieces of cloth about them; and that which is of a carmine colour is only worn by the superior class. The people in general are very fond of ear-rings, and will exchange for them what they deem the most valuable of their effects. Some of their ear-rings are made of mother-of-pearl cut into various figures, which are tied to their ears by human hair, curiously plaited by the women. They also tie three pearls together with hair, and hang them on their ears.
Posted by Arborfield at 21:04