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FOUR MEN OF THE PYGMY RACE
Great is the temptation for a traveler to pick and choose the subjects for his picture gallery with an eye to beauty and interest. But we were anxious that our anthropo
PYGMY DWELLERS IN THE CONGO FOREST
The hat worn by the man at the right recalls an experience which illustrates the unique position of Pygmies as regards their The second figure from the left is a woman. A very large colony in Nala was led by this old chief whose wisdom must have been equal to his age to command the respect he enjoyed. His relations with their neighbors. truly original appearance prompted me to take his photograph. Matted patches of crinkled hair straggling from beneath the tattered bits of hat harmonized with his frizzly Mr. Petronio, in charge of the Post, in his desire to assist, thought that the slovenly Pygmy was not worth a plate in that conbeard and the few brown rags about his waist. dition and taking from an onlooking Mayogo chief his brand new hat, trimmed with a highly prized tuft of red parrot feathers, he placed it on the Pygmy's head. Imagine our surprise to learn that we, as well as the Pygmy, had broken conventions dear to the heart of the Bantu. The owner of the borrowed headgear haughtily refused to take back We laughingly paid to the Pygmy, who also refused to keep the hat, salt to the value of ten cents, and added the ownerless what a Pygmy had worn for even so short a time. After endless discussions among themselves, the Mayogo chief finally accepted two heavy, brass anklets, worth about fifty cents, as an atonement for article to our collections. his injured self-respect
exchange for what they took from the plantations, but today most Pygmies bring their goods to the villages of the tall Negroes and with little serious altercation barter for mere trifles until darkness puts them to rout. The meat, medicine plants, fibers, and other products of the forest gathered by the Pygmies are gladly exchanged for plantains, manioc, and maize. Plantain cider or palm wine gives them too the exhilaration enjoyed in their dances. Honest among themselves, they nevertheless appreciate the cleverness involved in outwitting others, in complete disregard of principles. of fair play.
Primarily hunters, they continually shift their camps to obtain the best hunting grounds. The site, old or new, is always cleared in the high-lying, open forest, near one of the numerous clear brooks; huts are either built beforehand, or old ones are quickly restored to satisfy their meager needs for housing comforts. Every new trail means new joy. Indeed, the nomad's life is easy, Pygmy women are not fettered by hard work at home, and household articles are few. Knives and pieces of bark cloth receive first attention, and as the mother starts on her way she hoists a tiny child astride her waist, where he sits grinning with delight although the narrow supporting strap mercilessly indents his flesh. Another woman loads on her back bunches of plantains, manioc, and maize, surmounted by a pot, and fastens to her arm a sleeping mat, a calabash, and perhaps an old basket. Mortar and pestle, ax, horn, rattle and a drum for merrymaking fall to the share of the boys and girls. In single file they set out, a youth leading, and one or two able-bodied men bringing up the rear. With a dagger tucked in the belt, a quiver of wooden or iron-tipped, poisoned arrows suspended from the shoulder, they thread their way, with bow and two or three arrows in the hand always ready for instant action. Under care of the old, an ember is carried from camp to camp to perpetuate their fire, said to be obtained when strokes of lightning set aflame the gigantic trees-although Pygmies living in the plains are well acquainted with the art of making fire.
The silence of the march along the trail is broken by the yelps of the dog, which, raised to be eaten, has become nevertheless a highly prized helper in the daily raids on
game. Indeed a good hunting dog in some regions is gladly accepted in payment for a wife. The place of the dog in hunting is peculiar. At the time he is started on a fresh scent a large wooden clapper is put around his neck. The noise of this clapper as the dog routs the game gives the master in ambush assurance that his arrow has a chance to hit the mark. If the dog returns to camp with clanking bell, all know from afar the jubilant news. Or should the dog be led astray in the heat of the chase the noise of the clapper makes his recovery easy.
In the forest, trapping and still-hunting are methods equally in favor. The slaying of a leopard near our camp on the Nepoko River a leopard which had brought grief upon the village by killing the chief's daughter and two other women-justified the Pygmy's reputation. Suddenly the beating of gongs roused the whole neighborhood and a throng of exuberant natives outdid themselves to welcome the hero. He happened to be a master of mimicry and by gesture and a few, clear, short phrases vividly pictured the course of the hunt. Deep in the recesses of the forest, on the trail leading to a brook, the leopard had devoured a small antelope, and then had gained its lair. Our hunter found it asleep on a low-hanging branch in dense foliage. He roused it by the splash of a stone flung into the water. With the whir of an arrow-and a gigantic leap of the spotted beast-the leopard's last struggle began. There were a few moaning roars, and then the silence of death betokened Ngalima's success; danger lurks no more on that path. With the conclusion of the pantomime, the rejoicing and dancing of the crowd continued until late into the night.
Although the privilege of chiefs to sit upon a leopard's hide makes such a trophy theirs by right, our gifts of beads, copper wire, and indigo cloth were considered a fair exchange. The meat, also the lumps of fat, a powerful, rejuvenating medicine greater in value than all else, of course became the hunter's prize. But what priceless treasure can be hidden in the leopard's heart which the Pygmy hunter has so eagerly claimed? We were soon to see, for, frantically yelling and dancing about, he waved in his hand the iron point of his own fatal arrow, which had been snapped off from the
FURTHER PORTRAITS FROM THE BELGIAN CONGO
From left to right the first and third are men. The wearing of stylish hats draped with waving feathers is the exclusive privilege of men among the Pygmies, but hair-
Although these portraits bring out the more general characteristics of the Pygmies, space is lacking for a large comparative series, which would furnish conclusive proof
shaft in the leopard's struggle. Twice before it had pierced the hearts of enemies, and with the joyful grin of a devil he claimed that no foe of his could escape that magie dart.
Pygmies in the Ituri region do not often try to kill elephants with their arrows,although a single poisoned arrow might fell an elephant. Instead, they eagerly find the site where through their cunning even this mighty beast will meet his fate. A huge section of tree trunk bearing a spear at one end is hoisted to a branch forty feet above the ground. Hidden in the entangling maze the lightly balanced truncheon betrays no danger. But a slight touch on the tiny unobtrusive vine connected with the release and stretched across the trail, will send the immense, armed weight crashing down upon the unsuspecting victim.
Or they locate the habitual resting places of solitary elephants and report their find to the tall forest Negroes, who then creep up on the tuskers and with a rush drive a broad, sharp-edged spear into the base of the trunk and quick as a flash fall back into the protecting jungle. The death of the elephant ensues from loss of blood within a few hours. But should the wound be slight, Pygmies, loath to abandon the prize, follow the victim for days, shooting poisoned arrows in an attempt to blind the great beast, and finally spear him at a propitious moment.
In testing their marksmanship a squash seven inches in diameter which I used, aroused their derision, and at a distance of forty yards not one of a dozen volunteers failed to send his wooden arrow through the target. At sixty yards, however, they asked for iron-pointed arrows to withstand the strong wind.1
All Pygmies, however much they may
Throughout the practice, a young Pygmy had amused the crowd by mimicking the sharpshooters. When asked to show his skill as a marksman he preferred to imitate the sufferings of an elephant wounded by arrows. With stiffened legs, and back in horizontal position, he made his arms serve as forelimbs-sometimes as ears and with the help of his bow represented the trunk. At moments he was pathetically slow and at other times the eye could hardly follow his movements. Then taking the part of a duiker, he drew himself together, arched his back, tripped along for a few paces, and stopped suddenly, a splendid take-off of their peculiar, nerVous movements. At twenty yards from the squash target he suddenly stood up and hit the mark, a feat announced with a savage yell and a loud thwack upon his forearm.
In the afternoon the little fellow admirably im
wander in hunting, have a more or less permanent home near the settlements of agricultural Negroes with whom they are connected. Fifty or a hundred may live together under a leader, benefiting by such unity, although occasional friction is unavoidable between groups serving under different Bantu chiefs. Each man claims one or two wives-three is the exception-and the great fondness for children is shown by the burdening of childless women with the drudgery, whereas mothers are treated with comparative consideration.
Old, grizzly-haired men, who held honors as chiefs in their youth, relinquish these honors apparently with no feeling of bitterness. They spend much time cheerfully helping to educate the children. The subjects of the tales told to the young are the spirits hidden in mysterious forests and the unknown dangers lurking in the jungle; and they encourage their young admirers to make traps, shoot arrows, and to wrestle.
Chieftainship among the Pygmies is generally considered hereditary, as among their neighbors, but without doubt the right to the dignity of chief would be of no avail could the claimants not back it with a museular frame and cunning enough to stamp them as men most capable of keeping the wolf from the door; only thus can they preside over the destinies of these small and scattered communities.
No time-honored clearing in the center of the village has been set aside for their deliberations. Nor are there the dignity and order so common with the Bantu, whose auguries, however, the Pygmies use during palavers. Indeed, the Pygmy councils, from which the women are excluded, are only the stormy outbreaks of a vociferous, gesticulating crowd. When the commotion has finally subsided, a few may still dispute the
itated an official, taking especial advantage of the latter's habit of accentuating his instructions with peculiar, abrupt gestures. When I asked him to mimic me he grinned happily. During the forenoon I had taken a number of photographs and my tripod camera was still standing in the shade. Without injury to the instrument he mimicked my every movement with just enough exaggeration to make everyone laugh. Finally he indicated that the "evil eye had seen well-and now came the climax to the performance. The Pygmy he had pretended to photograph, instead of unconcernedly walking away, dropped to the ground, illustrating the native superstition that the "big evil eye" of the camera causes death. A block of salt laid on the "dead" man's stomach instantly resuscitated him and the two entertainers walked off joyously, but only after the clown had received a like reward.