Volume 32 1923 > Volume 32, No. 128 > Notes and queries, p 255-258
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[348] The late Dr. W. H. R. Rivers.

A committee has been formed in England to commemorate the services of the late Dr. W. H. R. Rivers to anthropology and psychology, which includes Sir Charles Sherrington, President of the Royal Society, Sir Humphrey Rolleston, President of the Royal College of Physicians, Sir James Fraser, Dr. Henry Head, Professor Elliot Smith, and Dr. C. S. Myers. The Treasurer is Dr. L. E. Shore, St. John's College, Cambridge, to whom contributions may be sent. It is intended that the proceeds of the fund shall be devoted to the promotion of those sciences in which Dr. Rivers took a special interest, but until the amount and the wishes of the contributors are known no definite decision will be reached.—Science.

[349] The Story of the Kumara.

Under the above title our Corresponding Member, Mr. F. W. Christian, deals with the names of kumara and yam in the regions between India and America. (Journal of Science and Technology, VI., 3, p. 152.) He concludes that many Sanskrit words can be traced in the languages of the Incas of Peru and of Arauco in south Chile. The names given to the kumara in Indonesia are derived from the Sanskrit names for the blue, the white, and the red edible lotus-lily, which has a sweetish floury tuber, and which has long been cultivated in India together with the taro and the yam. The Sanskrit names fall under four headings: (1) Kumad, kumal, the white lotus; (2) kumud, the white lotus; (3) kamal, the red lotus; (4) kuvara, kuvala, kuvera, the blue edible lotus. The Polynesian forms kuara, kuawara (Mangaia); uala, iwala (Hawaii); kumara (Maori); the Philippine forms comote, kamote; the Mariana camute or kamute; and Ruk kamal are all derived from one or other of the four Sanskrit forms. Mr. Christian's view is that navigators sailed east from Java and were carried by the North Equatorial Current first to Hawaii and then to the coast of Central and South America. In Ecuador the white potato is cumar or kumar, and the same name appears in north Chili. Two other tuber names are quoted in support: kachu is the Inca name for the common potato. In Sanskrit kachu or kachhu is the name for the taro (edible arum) long cultivated in India, and is the modern Indian name for the potato. The yam is called gaddu by the Indians of Arauco. Gandu and gaddu are Sanskrit names for “bulb” or “tuber” and also for the yam. Compare Philippine and Mariana gado (yam), and Melanesian gadu (yam). Mr. Christian claims that a number of similar words may be linked up in South America and Indonesia. His view is that some South American food-plants were taken back to Java and thence spread through Indonesia and the Pacific. Hawaii was the first colonised of the eastern and central Polynesian groups. Thence parties pushed south and southwest to east Polynesia, Tahiti, the Cook Group, and New Zealand.

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[350] House Flies in Polynesia.

In the B. P. Bishop Museum Annual Report for 1922 the following paragraph is quoted from a report by Mr. J. F. Illingworth, Research Associate in Entomology:—“A study of flies throws some interesting side lights upon the origin of man in Hawaii. House flies have ever been closely associated with human beings. In fact so much so that they are not found on uninhabited islands, and the United States Exploring Expedition, in 1840, reported that flies were a sure indication of the presence of natives on an island. I found that the common house fly of Hawaii was not that of Europe and the United States, as formerly supposed, but a variety of a distinctly different species, appearing along the western shores of the Pacific. Since it is known that these flies will follow man, even in small boats, and since there is evidence that house flies were in Hawaii when Captain Cook arrived, one may fairly conclude that they came with the natives along their lines of migration. It is interesting to note that our evidence of the migration of these insects exactly coincides with what is now presumed to have been the line of migration of the earliest peoples reaching the shores of the Hawaiian islands.

[351] Research in Southern Polynesia.

In the same report the work of Mr. Stokes is noted as follows:—“John F. G. Stokes, Ethnologist, returned to Honolulu in November, after a two years' absence in the Austral Islands as a member of the Bayard Dominick Expedition. His particular field was the islands of Rapa, Rurutu, and Raivavae, where the material culture and archaelogy were studied and anthropometrical data collected. Some time was also given to Tahiti, Rimatara, and islands in the eastern Tuamotus. Abstracts of selected parts of the preliminary report of Mr. Stokes follow:

In Rurutu the dialect seems phonetically to be the most emasculated among the Polynesians. The consonants ‘k,’ ‘ng,’ and the aspirates are lacking.

In Rapa the mortuary customs have some interesting features in connection with the drying of bodies. The sepulchers yielded specimens of garments, one of which, a fragment of the early Rapa dress, is in technique identical with the Maori rain cloak. The hill forts or fortified villages, analogous to the Maori pa, show primitive engineering features. Stone fish weirs are common and one of the old marae (temples) remains. The clans of former times still exist, but with much intermixture. Land is communal with the clan. The Rapa customs are interesting on account of the absence of certain Polynesian features. It is said that there were no tattooing, no awa drinking, no fish-poisoning, no mat-making, no feather-work, no pigs and no dogs. Other Polynesian characteristics but slightly developed were temples, priestcraft, veneration for chiefs, knowledge of great Polynesian heroes, and stone platforms for houses. The original dialect retained the ‘k’ and ‘ng,’ but dropped the ‘h.’

Raivavae has a population of 380 and presents an appearance of great prosperity, in strong contrast with Rapa. The material culture has changed to a greater extent than elsewhere in the Austral Group. The island has a special interest on account of its archaeology. Many large stone images hewn out of red tufa remained until the decade 1890-1900, when they were cut into building blocks for a church structure More than sixty images or fragments of images were found, the largest of which stood eight and a half feet above ground. About sixty temples were noted and it is not improbable that about one hundred of these establishments were formerly maintained. War retreats in the mountains were also found. The Raivavae genealogies indicate a common origin of the chiefs of the Austral Group. In the original dialect the Polynesian ‘k’ had been dropped, - 257 the ‘ng’ was in process of changing to ‘n,’ and the ‘r’ was pronounced as ‘l,’ ‘gh,’ or ‘g’

Physical measurements of 335 people were obtained—133 in Rurutu, 113 in Rapa, and 89 in Raivavae.

The customs of the Austral Islanders have been greatly modified through their conversion to Christianity by native missionaries from the Society Group. The latter, themselves Polynesians, imposed upon the people a Tahitian civilization partly modified by the secular teachings of the white missionaries from England. In the process, which has been under way since 1821, a complex has been formed which makes it extremely difficult to differentiate Austral Island ethnology from that of the Society Group.” (See also Annual Report of the Director for 1921; Occ. Papers Vol. VIII., No. 5, pp. 206-207, 1922.)

[352] Investigations in the Society Islands.

From the same report we take the following:—“Extensive researches in the Marquesas and the Austral Islands, and reconnaissance studies in Tahiti indicate the need of fuller knowledge of the islands lying westward. From the Society Islands in particular more precise information is needed of the physical characters of the people, of the sequence of the overlapping immigrations and the cultural differences in the native populations of various islands of the group.

To meet this need provision has been made for undertaking an ethnological survey by a party consisting of E. S. Craighill Handy, Ethnologist; Willowdean C. Handy, Associate in Polynesian Folkways; and Miss Jane Winne, Volunteer Assistant, who will devote her time to recording native music. Local field assistants will be added to the party. For comparative studies Mr. Handy will visit the islands of Upolu, Vavau, Haapai, Nukuolofa, and the Maori settlements in New Zealand.

[353] Personal Items and Researches.

The route of the St. George, the vessel chartered by the Scientific Expeditionary Research Association, is laid down as follows: Via Teneriffe and Panama to the Galapagos, thence to Easter Island, Pitcairn Island, the Cook and Austral groups, Tahiti, the Paumotus, and the Marquesas. At the Marquesas, our fellow-member, Mr. J. Hornell proposes to leave the ship and travel to Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, New Caledonia, the New Hebrides, the Solomons, and thence to Sydney and New Zealand, devoting his attention principally to types of canoe and canoe-fittings, methods of fishing, shell trumpets, shell bangles, tattooing, and also to physical anthropology.

The following notes are taken from the Annual Report for 1922 of the B. P. Bishop Museum: “Robert T. Aitken, Research Associate in Ethnology, returned on August 8th from a two years' field trip in the Austral Islands as a Member of the Bayard Dominick Expedition. A few days were spent at Raivavae and brief visits were made to islands in the Society and Paumotu groups. The remainder of the time available for field work was devoted to investigations on the island of Tubuai. At the end of the year his manuscript on the ethnology of Tubuai was nearing completion.

“Forest B. H. Brown, Botanist, returned to Honolulu on December 16th, after a period of two years spent in the Marquesas and neighbouring parts of the Pacific as a member of the Bayard Dominick Expedition. His work has resulted in filling a conspicuous gap in the knowledge of Pacific flora and should lead to the preparation of a standard treatise based on his collections, which comprise 9,000 sheets of material and 395 photographs.

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“Kenneth P. Emory, Assistant Ethnologist, spent the first half of the year in the preparation of a manuscript on the archæology and ethnology of the island of Lanai. In connection with this work, field trips were made to Kaupo, Maui, and Molokai. On July 27th, Mr. Emory left Honolulu on a year's leave of absence to pursue graduate studies at Harvard University.

“Before leaving for the mainland in August, Ruth H. Greiner, Bishop Museum Fellow for 1921-1922, submitted manuscript on Polynesian designs which comprises an extensive study of Hawaiian, Samoan, Tongan, and Maori decorative elements and comparisons with art as developed in other parts of Polynesia and in selected islands of Melanesia.

“The time of E. S. Craighill Handy, Ethnologist, was given largely to the preparation of manuscript resulting from his field work in the Marquesas during 1920 and 1921 as a member of the Bayard Dominick Expedition. At the close of the year his papers on ‘The Native Culture of the Marquesas’ and ‘Rediscoveries in Polynesia’ were ready for the press; and a manuscript entitled ‘An Interpretive Study of the Religion of the Polynesian People’ was practically finished. A course of lectures on ethnology was delivered by Mr. Handy at the University of Hawaii.

“Willowdean C. Handy, Associate in Polynesian Folkways and Volunteer Assistant with the Bayard Dominick Expedition, completed a manuscript on ‘Tattooing in the Marquesas’ [noted in J.P.S., Vol. XXXII., p. 99], and made considerable progress with her studies of Polynesian string figures.

“Early in April Lieut. Hans G. Hornbostel began his work as collector and has had remarkable success in obtaining specimens illustrating the material culture of the Chamorros of Guam, including hundreds of sling-stones, large numbers of adzes and chisels, hammers, pestles, whetstones, several stone vessels, knives, ornaments, fishing materials and other artifacts, as well as specimens of the massive stone capitals from the tops of pillars marking burial sites. The collection also includes over a hundred more or less complete skeletons of a people whose large stature is striking.

“Thomas G. Thrum, Associate in Hawaiian Folklore, completed the ‘Geographic place-names’ for the revision of Andrews' Hawaiian Dictionary. He also made a critical analysis of the forty-two manuscripts in the Poepoe collection and a translation of Kamakau's history of Kamehameha, which appeared originally in Ka Nupepa Kuakoa in 1866-71. Progress was made in a study of the star lore of the ancient Hawaiians, especially with reference to navigation.”


During 1920, on the initiative of Dr. D. Colquhoun, an Archaeological Section of the Otago Institute was formed, its first session being held in 1921. There was a good deal of discussion about the name which should be adopted, and none that was quite satisfactory was suggested.

“Anthropological” would have most accurately described the scope of the section, but this was rejected as unfamiliar, and likely to frighten possible members. Ultimately “Archaeological” was adopted. The section has four regular meetings in each session, one being a joint meeting with either the parent Institute or with the Dunedin branch of the Classical Association. It also secures lectures from visitors. Besides holding meetings it is building up a sectional library, and is at present engaged on an archaeological map of the southern parts of New Zealand, in which villages, fortifications, and Maori tracks will be marked, and similar data recorded. It is hoped that the section may ultimately carry out excavations on sites about Dunedin.

Attendance at sectional lectures averages about forty.