THE HISTORICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COSTUME
THE CLASSIC WORK OF THE 19TH CENTURY
19TH CENTURY ANTIQUE CIVILIZATIONS
MALAYS - PAPUANS - ABORIGINES
THE ANTHROPOLOGIST RIENZI claimed to have identified four distinct races among the archipelagoes and islands of the Pacific Ocean. Later, though, it became accepted that there are only three principal races: the Malays, who used to inhabit the coasts until invaders chased them inland; the Papuans, fishermen who live principally along the shores; and the nomadic Australian Aborigines.
1, 15 & 17 Papuans. The warrior in 1 wears only a loincloth, with an amulet in the form of a human figure round his neck, His hair is decorated with a wooden comb and a plume of feathers, and a sabre called a peda is worn round his neck.
15 shows a simple woollen tunic with a fringed hem. The shoulder belt is decorated with feathers and the hemispherical leaf hat is adorned with shells.
The grass-skirted warrior in 17 has first dyed his hair red in lime water, then whitened it with powder made from pulverised coral. The effect is crowned with a diadem of cassowary feathers and a headband of small shells. The warrior's comb is adorned with a plume of feathers from a bird of paradise.
3 & 18 Members of the Kanaque tribe from New Caledonia, dressed for a feast day. Styles were varied and individual, but most tied their hair up with brightly coloured material topped with a plume of feathers. Some wore beards, while others shaved with sharpened oyster shells; but nearly all pierced their ears. The warrior (18) wears a mask designed to frighten his enemies.
8 & 10 Aborigines, who did not know the bow and arrow, but relied on wooden spears and boomerangs (13 & 14).
9 An Arossien, from San Cristobal in the Solomon Islands. A warrior tribe, equipped with bows and arrows, spears and bludgeons (5), the Arossiens often pierced their noses and hung ornaments, such as parrot feathers, from them. Here the hair is tied up with a bamboo comb and decorated with fringes that hang down on either side of the parting. The bracelets and belt are made from white, red and black beads of shell, and are used as currency.
11 A native of the Admiralty Islands. Here the warrior's face is painted white and his hair is decorated with hibiscus and feathers. He has a collar of small shells and as a chest-ornament wears a white ring of shell with fine scales attached. The arm bone of an enemy hangs round his neck. His bracelets are made from large shells, and he wears a finely worked loincloth.
12 A Vitien warrior, whose hair has been reddened either with lime water or the bark from a tree soaked in coconut oil, then curled back around the head and decorated with a comb of parrot feathers. He wears a collar of shells, pigs' teeth and rats' or bats' jaws.
19 A New Hebridean warrior, with a wooden helmet whose visor has a human face painted on it. This mask opens at the level of the mouth and ends in the form of a beard. His chest is covered with a decoration of plaited bulrushes. from which hang three pendants made from teeth. His spear is heavily spiked with barbs made from human bones.
Prints of Costume by Racinet