Dress, Weapons and Implements Of The Polynesians And Micronesians

Dress and ornament – Tattooing – Deformations of the body – Feather ornaments – Modes of wearing the hair – Objects used for ornament – Bark cloth – Tapa – Mats – Weapons and implements – Lack of iron – Working in stone – Manufacture of weapons from wood – Spears – Clubs – Limits of diffusion of bow and arrow – Slings – Industrial activity.

Dress and Ornament

THE stage of culture which the Polynesians have reached is very clearly expressed in their external appearance; that is, in their dress, their ornaments, their equipment. Living under a fortunate sky, and surrounded with water, both Polynesians and Micronesians bathe often, and are, therefore, a cleanly race. Unluckily they frequently destroy the effect of this virtue by excessive anointing of themselves with coco-palm oil or chewed coco-nut. They prefer fresh water to salt for bathing, and regard both as a good remedy against illness. Women with their newly-born infants, and even people in mortal sickness, will bathe.

Polynesian Neck Ornament
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Polynesian Neck Ornament

Deformations of the Body

Ear-button of whale’s tooth

Artificial mutilations and embellishments of the person are widely spread. Deformation of the skull, both by flattening it behind and elongating it towards the vertex, is found in isolated instances in Tahiti, Samoa, Hawaii, and the Paumotu group, but occurs nowhere with such frequency as on Mallicollo in the New Hebrides, where the skull is squeezed extraordinarily flat. Flattening of the nose is practised in Tahiti and among the YapIslanders; and the nasal septum is often bored to allow of the insertion of flowers or feathers.

The ears are bored, and bits of greenstone, teeth of men and sharks, feathers and flowers, stuck in for ornament. On Easter Island, as in Micronesia, the ear-lobes are dragged into flaps by heavy wooden plugs. The Micronesians also bore the rim of the ear in various ways.

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