Headhunting in the Solomon Islands around the Coral Sea

Headhunting in the Solomon Islands around the Coral Sea

Headhunting in the Solomon Islands around the Coral Sea

Headhunting in the Solomon Islands around the Coral Sea

Excerpt

One day the Expedition set out, quite simply, to paint the portrait of a race of primitive negroids living in the Southwest Pacific. I say "quite simply" because we were unencumbered by the usual equipment of expeditions: by endowment funds, by precedents, doubts, supplies, an expedition yacht or airplane, by even the blessings or belief of our friends and families, who said we couldn't do it. We especially lacked that "body of persons" listed for expeditions by the dictionary. We were a staff of two rather young women: myself, the portrait painter, and Margaret Warner, the bedeviled handyman, who was expected to cope with situations like God--if machinery was lacking, then by levitation. Her expedition equipment was a ukulele.

Yet we were an expedition; we had a purpose. And while the reader may be expected to lose sight of it, as we ourselves often did in the batter of our adventures, precedent requires me to give a sane excuse for having launched us into them.

The purpose was to make a pictorial record of one of those groups of "backward human beings who are fast vanishing from this earth before the advances of civilization." The prospective models themselves were a little less pompous than that sentence. They were the "black" headhunting cannibals, called Melanesians, who inhabit the islands bordering the Coral Sea northeast of Australia. Their territory begins on the mainland of New Guinea in the north and extends through the Solomon Islands clear to New Caledonia in the . . .

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