Volume 6 1897 > Volume 6, No. 3 > Notes and queries, p 158-159
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[108] Origin of the Canterbury Rock Drawings.

In my note in the June number of this Journal, on the non-occurrence of flint implements among the pre-Ngai-Tahu tribes formerly inhabiting the South Island of New Zealand, I remarked that the curious symbolic paintings adorning the walls of many of the limestone caves and rock-shelters in Canterbury were the work of the older extinct Maori tribes. Since my note was published, Mr. A. Hamilton, of the Otago University, has called my attention to similar remarks on the subject in John White's “Ancient History of the Maori.” White's article on the Ngati-Mamoe—the real authors of most of the rock-drawings—is derived from a valuable paper by A. Mackay, Esq., Native Commissioner, entitled “Ngati-Mamoe and South Island History,” written forty years ago, and before that interesting people became extinct. In vol. iii, p. 305, White refers to the Ngati-Mamoe as follows: “Weakened by successive defeats (by the conquering Ngai-Tahu), and terrified at the treatment they met with from the dominant tribe, they ceased to build pas, secreted themselves in caverns, and fled upon the approach of strangers. In Lyttelton Harbour there is a cave which formed the retreat of a small tribe; near Timaru there are several, the sides of which are covered with rude images of men, fishes, &c., which in like manner afforded shelter to this unhappy people. In course of time, however, peace was again renewed between the remnant of the Ngati-Mamoe and their conquerors, and a partial incorporation with the latter may be inferred from the existence of a hapu of that name amongst the Ngai-Tahu of the present time.” When I wrote my note I had overlooked these remarks in Mr. Mackay's paper; and, although I had reached the same conclusions respecting these paintings independently, I cheerfully concede precedence to that gentleman. From a careful study of the traditions and mythology of the South Island tribes, there seems to me little doubt that the rude impressions of men, lizards, fishes and mythical taniwhas are the work of the Ngati-Mamoe, while the apparently later, rarer, and better executed scrollwork-like sketches, closely resembling wood-carvings of the Ngai-Tahu, were probably the work of that people after their incorporation with or extinction of the Ngati-Mamoe.—W. W. Smith.

[109] Kohiwi and koiwi.

In “Te Rehu-o-Tainui,” p. 55, occurs the word koiwi. This was in the MS. kohiwi,Koiwi” is misleading; it is the skeleton, i.e., the bones unaccompanied by flesh. “Kohiwi” is the earthly body, untenanted by an atua or hau—at least among Tuhoe. I think this correction should be inserted, to avoid misconception.—Elsdon Best.

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[110] Abnormal Tusks.

In Mr. Whitmore Monckton's paper on “Goodenough Island, New Guinea,” in the Journal, vol. vi., No. 2, p. 89, mention is made of a breast ornament consisting of a tusk forming almost a complete circle, which after Sir William Maegregor's judgment is made of a boar's tusk of unusual shape, whereas Sir James Hector “identified it as belonging to a peculiar species of pig, which exists somewhere in or about the islands of the Malay Archipelago—that, as far as is known, does not exist in New Guinea.” Having written recently on these abnormal boar tusks in the “Abhandlungen und Berichte des Königlichen Zoologischen Anthropologish-Ethnographischen Museums zu Dresden,” 1896–97, vol. vi, paper No. 6 (“Saugethiere vom Celebes-und Philippines-Archipel”), I beg to offer a few remarks to the point. Sir James Hector, no doubt, had in mind the babirusa (Babirusa alfurus, Less) from Celebes and Buru, a wild pig, which has, as is known long since, curved upper and lower canines. The lower ones abnormally even grow out to a circle, the point penetrating again into the bone and resting on the root of the tooth. On the plate, which I have the pleasure of forwarding to you by book post, you will find in fig. 2 such an abnormal babirusa tooth, figured in situ. The highly valued breast ornaments in New Guinea and neighbourhood, however, are not from the babirusa, but are abnormal lower boar tusks, grown into a circle in consequence of the upper canine being artificially (or accidentally) broken out. Under these circumstances the lower one developes itself into a complete circle, as it is not worn down by friction from the upper one, the point penetrating the bone of the jaw close to the root of the tooth. As years are required for this development, the natives put a great value on such a tooth, especially as a complete circle is seldom reached, these poor people being obliged to kill the pig earlier for food. In fig. 1 of the plate such a double tooth as breast ornament is represented. It was taken from a man killed in a combat, and is now in the Dresden Museum. The opinion that these circle teeth come from the babirusa and have been imported to New Guinea from Celebes or Buru by trade has been expressed by other authorities also. But this opinion is not tenable, as is easily to be proved by comparing the form and structure of a babirusa canine with these boar tusks. In my paper mentioned (p. 17–21), I have gone thoroughly into the matter, and my opinion since has been adopted generally, so far as I am aware.—A. B. Meyer, Königliches Zoologisches und Anthropologish Ethno-graphisches Museum, Dresden, 10th August, 1897.