Art. I.—Traces of Civilization: an Inquiry into the History of the Pacific.
[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, 22nd July, 23rd September, and 11th November, 1896.]
I.—introduction: Cultivated Plants of New Zealand.
Ever since Nũnez de Balboa first beheld its waters from the heights of Panama, the Pacific Ocean, or Great South Sea as it was long familiarly styled, has been a region of mystery. Until Magalhaens discovered the strait that bears his name it seemed to be walled off from the Atlantic, or North Sea, and from the civilized world beyond, by an unbroken barrier of land that stretched from pole to pole. After European mariners were afloat on its surface, what lands, what continents, what islands lay within its broad expanse and around its shores, remained for centuries unknown. As the explorer and the geographer solved these questions new sources of wonder revealed themselves. Strange forms of animal and vegetable life—pouched quadrupeds, wingless birds, leafless trees—were brought to light, setting the poet rhyming and the naturalist thinking how these discoveries agreed with long-cherished beliefs they were destined, to subvert.
Amongst the many curious questions to which the region has given birth, none have more completely baffled inquiry than those suggested by its human inhabitants. From whence, how, and when were its countless scattered islands peopled is still as great a mystery as when Europeans first discovered them.
In many of these islands the inhabitants, on our becoming acquainted with them, possessed various arts and had many customs in common with peoples in other distant portions of the world, besides having in cultivation a number of foreign plants, and in domestication a few foreign animals.
In addition to these traces of a civilization certainly not endemic, and probably not indigenous, scattered throughout the numerous island groups were monuments evidently of great antiquity, many of them being far beyond the constructive power of the modern inhabitants.
By following up these traces to their source it is evident we must obtain, in part at least, a reply to one or more of these questions—from whence, how, and when came the inhabitants of the islands wherein they occur?
This course of inquiry was not open to those who first speculated on the “mystery of Polynesia”; with the assistance of physical science, the conclusions arrived at by modern historians and archæologists, and the observations made by travellers and others in various parts of the globe, it may now be possible.
Of the three great periods—the Age of Stone, the Age of Bronze, and the Age of Iron—into which the history of art has been divided, the Old World, at the commencement of the sixteenth century, may be regarded as representing the Iron Age, the New World the Bronze Age, and the Pacific region, including Australasia and Polynesia, the Age of Stone. Though the inhabitants of the continent and of the countless islands scattered over the vast ocean may be thus grouped together, in other respects they differ widely. Thus, while the Australian aborigines were mere nomad hunters, the inhabitants of Polynesia and New Zealand were skilful agriculturists. To the more advanced section of the population we must chiefly look for the lost history we are seeking, and for the causes that placed all so far behind in the march of civilization. Amongst the various groups inhabited by the agricultural nations, the New Zealand Archipelago, owing to its geographical position, its size, its varied geological formation, and its climate, is the most important in the present inquiry. Had the islands been first populated by a people acquainted with the methods of obtaining and manufacturing metals, these arts, as well as those connected with agriculture, would have been preserved, notwithstanding the few cultivated plants the
inhabitants possessed when Europeans came in contact with them, all of which were ill adapted to the climatic conditions of the country. From these plants, the aute, taro, hue, and kumara, we gather that the inhabitants came from a much warmer zone, and that, between the time of their arrival in the country and its rediscovery by Cook in 1769, they were unable to obtain more suitable species. Besides the foreign plants enumerated, there were in cultivation when the missionaries commenced their labours in the country several varieties of the Phormium tenax, an endemic species, proving that it was not the lack of knowledge that limited agriculture.
I will now examine separately each of the plants mentioned, and ascertain what evidence can be extracted from them.
Aute, or Paper Mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera).—When Captain Cook* visited the Bay of Islands in 1769 he noticed in cultivation about half a dozen of the “cloth plants” with which he had become familiar while in Tahiti. The cloth made from the bark, he remarked, was very scarce, being worn only as an ornament in the ear, and rarely seen. Of the various articles offered to the natives in barter by the crew of the “Endeavour,” the tapa cloth brought from Polynesia, everywhere, excepting Queen Charlotte Sound, was most highly esteemed. Possibly the southern natives, who were not agriculturists at Cook's time, had lost this memento of their former home. Their indifference may, however, point in a different direction.
The presence of the paper mulberry, or aute as it was generally styled throughout Polynesia as well as New Zealand, proved beyond doubt that the latter islands were regularly colonised—not accidentally peopled, the explanation until recently generally received. In Polynesia, where the shrub was extensively cultivated for the sake of its bark, it was invariably propagated by cuttings. A transportation of the plant thus raised across the broad expansive ocean that separates the nearest of the Polynesian groups from New Zealand bespeaks at once skill and forethought; the scarcity of the plant, and the fact of its dying out since the missionaries commenced their labours in New Zealand, shows that even after it was established in the country it could only be grown with the utmost care.
The B. papyrifera belongs to the flora of Japan, and probably to that of China, where it still furnishes material for one of the many fabrics called “grass cloth.” How the species found its way into Polynesia, and from thence to New Zealand there is little hope of discovering, but its presence in
[Footnote] * “Captain Cook's Journal.”
the Pacific is unmistakable evidence of intercourse between agricultural nations, and of the wide dissemination of cultivated plants at a very remote period.
Throughout the warm regions of the Old World beaten or felted bark cloth was formerly in general use, as cotton stuffs are at present. Throughout the great chain of islands that extends from Sumatra to the Hawaiian Archipelago it was, during the last century, the principal article of clothing worn by the inhabitants.* Ellis found it in use amongst the natives of Madagascar; and, prior to Arab invasions, excepting the skins of animals, it was the only material with which the people of Central Africa covered themselves.† The best description of this African cloth, manufactured by the Uganda who occupied the northern shores of the Victoria Nyanza, closely resembles the tapa cloth of Polynesia. Grooved mallets, similar to those used in the Pacific islands, and which, like them, imparted to the fabric a corded appearance, were employed in its preparation.‡ It is worthy of remark that the Uganda who navigate the great lake use outrigger canoes,§ and that scattered throughout their country and the adjoining Unzoro State are many large dragon-trees, the genus Dracæna to which they belong being, according to some authorities,∥ originally confined to the Malay and Polynesian regions.
The manufacture of felted bark cloth is evidently a more primitive art than weaving, for, wherever the loom is known, bark cloth is only found amongst the rudest sections of the population; this is the case in Madagascar, though the woven fabrics are of a very rude description. On the African Continent and in Polynesia, where bark cloth was the principle clothing material, spinning and weaving were unknown, though cotton and other fibrous plants are indigenous.
Taro, or Colocasia arum esculentum, has been cultivated in Hindostan for more than four thousand years. As the species readily escapes from cultivation, it is impossible to determine the exact habitat of the wild stock; we are therefore unable to decide whether the species belonged originally to the Malay Islands, and was there brought into cultivation, or whether it was introduced as a cultivated plant. Throughout the Pacific region, wherever the inhabitants were agriculturists, when Europeans first came in contact with them the Colocasia was one of the most important esculents; the correspondence of the Malay names tallus, tallas, tales, or taloes with the Polynesian dalo, taro, and talo leaves little room for doubt that it
[Footnote] * “Madagascar.” Samuel Pusfield Oliver.
[Footnote] † “Artes Africanae.” Dr. G. Schweinfurth.
[Footnote] ‡ “Albert N'yanza.” Sir S. Baker.
[Footnote] § “Emin Pasha in Central Africa.”
[Footnote] ∥ Personal narrative of travels. Humboldt and Bonpland.
found its way from the Asiatic islands into the Pacific region. This conclusion is strengthened by the fact that the new Zealand natives, though cut off from their Polynesian relatives, preserved the names of plants they introduced, and conferred on indigenous species names in vogue throughout the Eastern Pacific.
When Captain Cook took refuge in the Endeavour River, North Australia, he discovered, near to where Cooktown now stands, quantities of the Colocasia growing wild. As, according to the best authorities, the species does not belong to the Australian flora, we can only conclude that the continent had been visited at some former time by an agricultural people, though the art was unknown to the aborigines.
In Polynesia the taro was grown in swamps or on artificially irrigated land; in New Zealand it was planted in ordinary dry ground. Notwithstanding this adaptation of culture to the climatic conditions, it was only in the northern portion of the archipelago the taro could be successfully raised. The very few cultivated plants the New Zealand people possessed being so ill adapted to the climate of the country accounts for an agricultural people being mainly dependent on the root of a wild fern (Pteris aquilina) for their vegetable supplies. Though many species of the order Aroideæ are bitter and poisonous, rude hunting peoples, having discovered how to expel the deleterious properties, use the roots for food. From this, together with the very wide distribution of the cultivated Colocasia in the Old World, it is supposed to have been one of the first plants brought into cultivation.*
Hue, or Calabash (Lagenaria vulgaris).—Throughout the tropical portion of the Old and New Worlds various species of the Lagenaria were extensively grown to furnish domestic utensils known under the general name of calabash. Whether the American calabash in cultivation before the time of Columbus was merely a variety of L. vulgaris is uncertain. From ancient records we learn that this species has been in cultivation on the Asiatic Continent for more than four thousand years. As the species does not belong to the Polynesian flora, we must conclude that it was introduced from the west, the white-flowered or Asiatic variety being everywhere in cultivation when Europeans entered the Pacific.
In Cook's time the New-Zealanders grew the hue as an esculent, and for the manufacture of drinking-vessels; in this we see the effects of the country being peopled directly from the tropics, for nowhere else so far within the temperate zone were these utensils in general use.
The earliest discoverers of Easter Island assert that the
[Footnote] * “Origin of Cultivated Plants.” A. De Candolle.
natives possessed rude earthenware, but elsewhere in Polynesia eastward of Fiji pottery at that time was unknown; hence the questions naturally arise, Was the art lost, or was it ever introduced? Unlike the Australian aborigines, the inhabitants of New Zealand and Polynesia perfectly understood the use of boiling water in cookery; it seems, therefore, incredible that such a simple and useful art was allowed to perish where there was abundance of material, and that all the widely-scattered sections of the Pacific nations relapsed to the rude and tedious method of boiling by means of heated stones. These questions can only be satisfactorily settled by the careful examination of middens and the sites of ancient settlements. In the north temperate zone rude hunting peoples, unacquainted with the use of metals, manufactured very serviceable articles of clay;* it is therefore difficult to understand the backward state of the art in many of the Malay Islands within a very recent period, unless we can suppose that the various substitutes for pottery which the vegetable kingdom afforded, such as the bamboo, cocoanut shells, and calabashes, checked its development.
Kumara, or Sweet Potato (Convolvulus batatas).—From an historical point of view this is the most important plant cultivated by the inhabitants of New Zealand and Polynesia. When Columbus discovered the West Indian Islands he found a sweet potato there in cultivation, and transported it to Spain, from whence it spread to the Philippines, where it received the name “Castilian yam.” The rapid, dissemination of the C. batatas and other New-World species, such as the manioc, maize, and tobacco, amongst the agricultural nations of Africa, before either Arabs or Europeans penetrated into their countries, might lead to the supposition that the presence of the kumara in Polynesia only dated from the time of the American discovery. But we have the positive evidence furnished by Cook that, when he rediscovered New Zealand, and discovered the Hawaiian Archipelago in 1778, the kumara was the cultivated plant on which the inhabitants chiefly depended for food. As neither the New-Zealanders nor the Hawaiians had at that time any intercourse with the outer world, or any definite knowledge of places or people beyond their respective groups, it was impossible for them to have obtained the kumara in the same manner as the negro tribes.
From the close resemblance of the name cumar, by which the sweet potato was known in Quito when the Spaniards conquered that country, to the various Polynesian names, kumara, umara, gumara, &c., it has been suggested that the plant found its way into the Pacific directly from South
[Footnote] * “Antiquity of Man.” Sir C. Lyell.
America, where it was extensively cultivated, it being in accordance with Polynesian custom to preserve foreign names; merely altering them to suit their mode of speech. But the question arises, Why did not the introduction of New-World cultivated plants go further; several species being as well adapted to the Polynesian region as the kumara, while others would have supplied the wants of the New Zealand agriculturists? To this question I shall again return.
The exact distribution of the kumara in the Pacific at the commencement of the sixteenth century cannot be determined, but we learn from Fletcher, to whom we are indebted for an account of Drake's celebrated voyage, that when the “Golden Hind” reached the Caroline Islands, in 1579, the inhabitants brought off to the vessel “cocoas, fish, potatoes, and certain fruits to small purpose.”* Drake and his followers having been in the West Indies previous to this voyage of circumnavigation, must have been acquainted with the sweet potato (C. batatas); we may therefore safely conclude that the root referred to by Fletcher was the kumara, and that it had been transported without the direct or indirect intervention of Europeans to the north-western extremity of Polynesia, though it had not made its way across the intervening sea to the Philippines.† Moresby and Strachan‡ found the kumara in New Guinea amongst people that had never previously come in contact with Europeans, and to whom the use of metal was unknown. As Moresby also discovered maize in the D'Entrecasteaux Islands, possibly the kumara may have made its way into New Guinea through the Malay Archipelago.
From the aute, the taro, and the hue we gather that the inhabitants of the Pacific must formerly have been in communication with the Malay Islands or some other part of the Old World. From the kumara, on the other hand, we learn that during a long period preceding the advent of Europeans this intercourse was suspended, though at the same time the inhabitants may have had access to the New World: this evidence of isolation will be frequently confirmed in the course of this investigation.
Harakeke, or New Zealand Flax-Plant (Phormium tenax).—When the missionaries commenced their labours in New Zealand the natives had in cultivation several varieties of the P. tenax, from the fibres of which their finest description of clothing was manufactured; fibres obtained from the wild harakeke and the leaves of the ti (Cordyline australis), every-
[Footnote] * “The World Encompassed,” by Sir F. Drake. Fletcher.
[Footnote] † “Discoveries in New Guinea and Polynesia,” by Captain J. Moresby.
[Footnote] ‡ “Explorations and Adventures in New Guinea,” by Captain J. Strachan.
where abundant, furnishing their ordinary dress. Though the New-Zealanders surpassed their Polynesian relatives in the manufacture of textile fabrics, all their garments were hand-plaited, the loom and spinning-wheel, or even the distaff, being unknown. Besides these hand-plaited garments, cloaks worn only by persons of rank were made from the skins of dogs, the only domestic animal they possessed. When to these dress-stuffs are added bark cloth, the principal clothing material throughout Polynesia, and cinctures of leaves,* frequently the only covering worn by females, it will be seen that, though no section of the Maori race went habitually naked, their clothes were of the most primitive descriptions. They were, however, far in advance of the Australian aborigines and the Papuans, with whom they were mixed, few of these people wearing any clothing whatsoever, even their ornaments being scarce and extremely rude.
II.—The Cultivated Plants Of Polynesia: Foreign Species.
The great chain of islands that extends eastward from Sumatra along the equator as far as the Marquesas Group forms a zone of vegetation unparalleled in any other portion of the globe, the same climatic conditions prevailing throughout its whole length—more than eight thousand miles, or one-third of the earth's circumference. Excepting a few alpine forms, there is probably no species of plant found on any one portion of the line that would not grow on all other portions where it could find suitable soil wherein to fix its roots.
Here, then, those agencies by which plants are disseminated over the earth (man included) have had a wide, unbroken field of operation, and in the varied distribution of the species throughout the region their effects are now visible.
On examining this distribution we find that amongst the most widely distributed are the cultivated plants; but to this rule there are some marked exceptions, showing that the action of man as a distributing agency has been irregular or interrupted. Generally the stream of vegetation has been from west to east, though in a few instances the reverse is observable; but wherever cultivated plants of foreign origin are found history can be accurately determined—with one or two exceptions, they seem invariably to have entered at the western end of the chain. In the cultivated plants of the Polynesian islands, which form the eastern extremity of the great chain, we have a means of determining this easterly movement, or, in other words, the interchange of productions that has taken place between the inhabitants of the various
[Footnote] * Polynesian Researches,” by W. Ellis.
sections into which the archipelago is divisible. As in the case of the Maoris, the cultivated plants possessed by the Polynesian people in the pre-European time were partly of foreign origin, partly indigenous productions; of the former the most important were the breadfruit, banana, cocoanut, yam, apé, Malay apple, and winter cherry, besides those already mentioned as having found their way into New Zealand.
Breadfruit (Artocarpus incisa).—In popular works the breadfruit has been so intimately identified with Polynesian people that we are apt to regard it not only as an indigenous production, but as one confined to the islands. Its original habitat was, however, the Malay Archipelago, where it was brought into cultivation at so remote a period that the cultivated varieties, of which there are many, ceased to bear seed, and are propagated by suckers.* As eastward of the Fijis only the cultivated or seedless varieties are found, it was evidently introduced into and spread through Polynesia by man.†
Moresby informs us that the cocoanut and breadfruit are the only two large trees capable of growing on the small purely coral islands;‡ their importance in Polynesia, where so many of these small islands exist, is therefore evident.
For the dissemination of the breadfruit some skill in the art of agriculture was clearly necessary. Were, then, all other evidence wanting, the presence of these seedless varieties alone would be sufficient to prove the regular colonisation of the islands.
In the Marquesas, the most easterly of the Polynesian groups, the breadfruit was the principal food of the inhabitants, the best-known varieties being there grown. As these varieties, of which Ellis states the early missionaries were acquainted with fifty,§ ripening in different seasons of the year, must have been raised from seed, the question naturally arises, Where was the cultivation effected?—eastward of the Fijis no seeding specimens having been observed. To this question I will return in another chapter.
The breadfruit does not grow on the mainland of Asia. It must, therefore, have been brought into cultivation within the Malay Archipelago. Evidently, then, arboriculture was understood in that portion of the world at a very early period. On the mainland the breadfruit is represented by the jackfruit (Artocarpus integrifolia), which is a native of Southern Asia.
[Footnote] * “Jottings in the Pacific.” W. Wyatt Gill.
[Footnote] † “Origin of Cultivated Plants.” A. De Candolle.
[Footnote] ‡ “Discoveries in New Guinea and Polynesia.” Captain Moresby.
[Footnote] § “Polynesian Researches.” W. Ellis (No. 1).
No mention being made of it in ancient Persian, Sanscrit, or Chinese writings, De Candolle concludes that it has been brought into cultivation in comparatively recent times, or not before the Christian era.* The species found its way into the Malay Islands in the pre-European time, but had not spread into Polynesia when Poster observed the cultivated plants of that region. We can here see that, while the Polynesian people possessed the ancient Malay plant, they had not received the more modern species; and as we proceed with this investigation we shall find that this is a rule holding good, throughout.
Banana (Musa sapientum, or Musa paradisiacal).—The original habitat of the banana, like most of those plants very long in cultivation, cannot be determined accurately, but the balance of evidence is in favour of the Malay Islands, where alone a wild species is found, from which the cultivated plant may have been derived. The banana, like the breadfruit, having become barren by long cultivation, can only be multiplied by offsets and suckers; its wide dissemination through Polynesia is therefore another proof of the colonisation of these islands.
On the mainland of Asia the banana has been cultivated for more than four thousand years.* Throughout the greater portion of tropical Africa, where Europeans only lately made their way, it has been found in cultivation, but it had not reached the portion of the Niger Valley explored by Park towards the end of the last century, though he observed it growing near the mouth of the Gambia, where it had been introduced by the Portuguese.†
Early Spanish writers assert that the Peruvians possessed two varieties of the banana before the European discovery of the New World, and Humboldt, from his own observations, confirmed these assertions; but it seems quite certain that the species was unknown in the West Indies or along the eastern portion of the mainland at the time of Columbus's discovery. Owing to these latter facts, the accuracy of the Spanish writers has been disputed by many able authorities, amongst them De Candolle, who, after summing up all the evidence procurable, concludes as follows: “If, however, later research should prove that the banana existed in some parts of America before the advent of the Europeans, I should be inclined to attribute it to a chance introduction not very ancient, the effect of some unknown communication with the islands of the Pacific, or with the coast of Guinea, rather than to believe in the primitive and simultaneous existence of the species in
[Footnote] * “Origin of Cultivated Plants.” A. De Candolle.
[Footnote] † “Travels in Africa.” Mungo Park.
both hemispheres. The whole of geographical botany renders the latter hypothesis improbable, I might' almost say impossible, to admit, especially in a genus which is not divided between the two worlds.”
I mentioned in the preceding chapter that the kumara, Convolvulus batatas, an American species, was cultivated throughout Polynesia before the European period, though it had not reached the Malay Archipelago. This necessarily implies an intercourse between some portions of the island region and the continent; hence that the Peruvians were in possession of the banana before the European discovery of America is extremely probable, for it would only show that an interchange of products had taken place between them and the Polynesians. It might be asked, Why did this exchange not go further? To this, at present, we can give no reply. Regarding the non-occurrence of the banana in the West-Indies, or on the continent outside Peru, we know that; though' the potato (Solanum tuberosum) had been long cultivated in the latter country, it was unknown in Mexico, or even in Brazil, at the time of the European invasion; thus it may be seen that, though an interchange of products did take place between the ancient civilized portions of the American Continent, the exchange was either very slow or intermittent.
To transplant the banana from Polynesia to the shores of America across more than two thousand miles of ocean would overtax the skill and knowledge of any ordinary European gardener; but for a people who have dispersed this species and the breadfruit through the countless islands that form their home it would be a simple undertaking. What we have really to consider here is: Were the rude inhabitants of Polynesia sufficiently acquainted with the arts of navigation and shipbuilding to be able to perform so perilous a voyage? This question will be considered in another place.
Cocoanut-Palm (Cocos nucifera).—The most ancient historical notices of the cocoanut are probably those discovered on the walls of the temple at Thebes, erected by Queen Hatasu to commemorate the return of the fleet sent out by her from Port Sais on a voyage of discovery down the Red Sea.* This fleet, we are informed, reached the distant land of Punt, from whence cocoanuts and other products of the country were brought back to Egypt. In the bas-reliefs which adorn Queen Hatasu's temple the residences of the inhabitants of Punt are depicted standing upon tall piles and embowered in cocoanut-palms. The products of the country not corresponding with those of the Asiatic coast, it has been conjectured that the land of Punt may have been the Somali
[Footnote] * “Ancient Egypt.” Professor G. Rawlinson.
Coast, or some portion of Africa in the direction of Zanzibar, the inhabitants being represented of dwarfish stature; but it is questionable whether cocoanuts were growing in Africa at that distant period, or more than three thousand years ago. It was not until after Vasco da Gama had discovered the Cape of Good Hope that the cocoanut was introduced on the west coast of Africa by the Portuguese. Its introduction into Ceylon has been since the commencement of the Christian era, and until very lately the cultivation of the tree in India was restricted to the Brahmins, thus showing that there also it was a comparatively recent addition to the cultivated plants.
That the cocoanut-palm has long been cultivated in Madagascar is evident from the number of places to which it has given a name. Thus we have the Village Ambouniko, which means “at the cocoanut”; the River Ambodivouniko, “at the foot of the cocoanut.” In the Malagasy name of the cocoa-palm, niko is so similar to the Polynesian name niau, and to nikau, the native name of the only palm (Areca sapida) belonging to the New Zealand Archipelago, as to suggest that the cocoanut was introduced from the Pacific into the great African island. When Polynesian navigation comes under consideration we shall find this suggestion curiously strengthened.
In the Malay Archipelago and Polynesia the cocoanut is most abundantly cultivated, the varieties grown being almost innumerable. As we proceed eastward from the Malay Islands these varieties diminish in number until we reach the west coast of South America, where a single wild species occurs. Though the tree was unknown in the West Indies, or along the east coast of the continent, when Columbus made his discovery, it is quite certain it was growing wild on the western side of the narrow isthmus; hence the question has arisen, Where was the original habitat of the species—in the Old World or in the New? The botanical evidence is entirely in favour of the New World, all the other species of the genus Cocos being confined to America. The historical evidence, on the other hand, points to the Malay Islands. The species being littoral and the fruit well adapted for floating on water, it has been suggested that it may have found its way accidentally from Polynesia to the American coast within comparatively recent times. Pickering, who visited a great many of the small uninhabited Polynesian islands, states that he did not meet with a single instance of the spontaneous extension of the species.* These observations have been confirmed by Woodford in a recently-published work on the Solomon Islands, wherein he says, “From repeated observa-
[Footnote] * “Races of Man.” Charles Pickering.
tion I am convinced that cocoanut-palms will rarely grow, and certainly will not bear fruit, unless attended to and kept clear of overgrowing trees.”* Amongst the Cingalese there is a saying that the cocoanut-palm will not grow out of the sound of the sea, or of human voices. Moresby informs us that, although the cocoanut is extremely plentiful along the whole of the south coast of New Guinea, and on some of the islands in Torres Straits, it does not occur anywhere along the coast of north or east tropical Australia. This cannot be due to anything either in the soil or climate, for trees planted by Europeans at Cardwell were doing well when Moresby made his observation;† we must therefore conclude that the spontaneous extension of the cocoanut is not so common as is generally supposed, and that its wide dispersion throughout the whole of the equatorial islands is mainly artificial. This view is further strengthened by the fact that the extension of the species in these seas exactly coincides with the extension of the art of agriculture. Recognising this, De Candolle has suggested that the presence of the cocoa-palm on the American coast might be due to the accidental arrival of some Polynesian natives having some of the fruit with them; but, considering the wide expanse of ocean these people would have to cross, it seems to me that this “accidental” hypothesis only removes a difficulty by substituting an improbability.
Here, again, the presence of the kumara in Polynesia suggests an explanation. The cocoanut may have been transported in the same manner as the kumara, and as probably the banana also was. It is evident, however, if this was the case, this removal must have taken place at a period far more remote than that of the other species. When the ancient monuments of Polynesia come under consideration it will be seen that this is no difficulty.
I have already mentioned that the botanical evidence is altogether in favour of the American origin of the cocoanut-palm, a greater number of varieties occurring in the Malay Archipelago. In the case of the breadfruit, most of the varieties are found in eastern Polynesia, the original stock belonging to the western islands. We cannot, therefore, arrive at any positive conclusion from the distribution of varieties. If the cocoanut-palm was transported from Polynesia to America as a cultivated plant, it would probably be found in cultivation on that continent instead of in a wild state, the ancient inhabitants having made little use of the fruit. Throughout Poly-
[Footnote] * “A Naturalist amongst the Head-hunters, Solomon Islands.” C. M. Woodford.
[Footnote] † “Discoveries in New Guinea and Polynesia.” Captain Moresby.
nesia the cocoanut was of the utmost importance, as many of the islands would have been uninhabitable without it. If its presence on these islands was due to cultivation, we have in it another important evidence of the colonisation of the region.
Yam (Dioscorea alata).—The numerous species of the genus Dioscorea are scattered over the tropical portions of the Old and New Worlds. Many have large farinaceous rhizomes, which differ much in quality, some being good for human food, others having acrid or even poisonous properties. Yams, as these rhizomes are generally termed, have been used as food by the rude inhabitants of all tropical countries wherein they are found before they became acquainted with the art of agriculture.
Baron von Mueller informs us that the aborigines of Australia consume large quantities of the roots of Dioscorea hastifolia, and that “it is the only plant on which they bestow any cultivation, crude as it is.”* Probably the yam was one of the first roots cultivated by man. In the New World several species were found in cultivation by the early European explorers; none of these exactly agreed with Old-World, species, but some of those found on the western side of the continent were allied to Japanese forms.
The common yam (Dioscorea alata) was found in cultivation throughout Polynesia by the old European navigators. Another species, Dioscorea sativa, was also cultivated, but the rhizomes contained an acrid principle, and required a particular sort of cooking, hence it was less in vogue than D. alata, which seems to be foreign to the region, though its original habitat cannot be accurately determined, it being now very widely spread both on the mainland and the Asiatic islands. Since the European discovery of America the indigenous species cultivated there have been superseded by African and Asiatic species.
This process of selection, when the cultivated plants of different regions become intermingled, is seen in the case of Triticum spelta, which is now only found in a few places in South Germany and Switzerland, having been driven out of cultivation by wheat (Triticum vulgare). As the spelt has not been discovered wild, it will probably become extinct should it cease to be cultivated. We may thus see that plants brought into cultivation at a very early period may have been subsequently lost through the invasion of their territory by species better fitted to supply the wants of the inhabitants. How readily a rude agricultural people adopt new plants that can be advantageously grown by them is seen, in Africa, where the manioc, maize, and sweet potato, all New-World species,
[Footnote] * “Select Extra-tropical Plants.” Baron F. von Mueller.
are extensively cultivated in districts beyond European or even Arab influence. Thus the absence of, certain plants capable of growing in a region may enable us to judge how long the inhabitants have been isolated from the portion of the world wherein these plants are found.
The eagerness of the Maoris to obtain new seeds and roots was sometimes taken advantage of by unprincipled persons. Darwin informs us that at the Bay of Islands dock-seed was sold to the natives for tobacco; thus the country became overrun with this troublesome weed as far back as 1835.* We may from this safely conclude that the very few foreign plants the Maoris had in cultivation was entirely owing to a want of opportunity to obtain more.
Apé (Alocasia macrorhiza, or Arum macrorhizum).—As this species is found wild throughout the Polynesian and Malay Islands, it was probably brought into cultivation in some portion of the region. It is also found wild and cultivated in Ceylon and on the mainland of Asia; but the Malay names of the plant do not indicate its introduction from the continent.
The apé, though producing a larger root than the taro, is not so extensively cultivated, owing to a bitter principle, which has to be expelled before cooking. Here we have another instance of a cultivated species being supplanted by an allied species having better qualities.
The very early discovery of how to separate the noxious from the wholesome portions of vegetable substances accounts for so many poisonous plants being in the first instance brought into cultivation. Amongst the large number of European esculents, though many are unpalatable and indigestible before cooking, none can be considered actually poisonous, a fact doubtless due to a long process of selection carried on over extensive areas.
Malay Apple (Eugenia malaccensis).—This species belongs to the Malay Islands, where it was brought into cultivation evidently at a remote period, judging by the number of varieties found. It was cultivated throughout the Polynesian islands in pre-European times, but had not extended its range to the Asiatic Continent or other portions of the tropical world. Another species, the Eugenia jambos, belonging to, and widely cultivated on, the mainland of Asia, was not found in Polynesia by Forster. We can thus see that the Malay Islands formed at some remote period an independent centre of cultivation, whence the species brought into use were carried eastward to Polynesia, but did not always extend themselves in other directions till long afterwards.
The narrow latitudinal range of the breadfruit is probably
[Footnote] * “Voyage of a Naturalist.” Darwin.
due to its inability to grow far outside the equatorial zone. As this is not the case with the Malay apple or cocoanut, some other cause must have prevented a more rapid distribution at the remote period when they were brought into cultivation. Taken in connection with the fact of so few cultivated species finding their way from the mainland of Asia through the Malay Islands to Polynesia, I think we may infer a very restricted intercourse between the peoples of the two regions.
Poroiti (Solanum oleraceum).—This species belongs to the flora of the New World, and was brought into Europe during the last century. The bright-scarlet berries and leaves of the plant were formerly eaten by the Hervey Islanders, but I do not know whether the species was regularly cultivated or merely grew wild. I have introduced the poroiti in order to call attention to the many New-World species bearing edible fruit that had found their way into Polynesia previous to the advent of Europeans.* Goodrich, one of the first foreigners who ascended Mauna-loa, discovered white and red raspberries, strawberries, and whortleberries growing plentifully at a high elevation, where alone, within the Hawaiian Archipelago, these plants would find a suitable climate. From the geographical position of Hawaii, we may safely conclude these fruit-bearing plants were American species; and, taking their number into account, it was improbable they were accidentally introduced, or by any other agents than man.
Pickering, who paid particular attention to the foreign plants scattered throughout Polynesia, found the Cape gooseberry (Physalis peruviana) growing wild in the Hawaiian and other groups, where it had more than one native name.† As nearly all the introduced plants observed by Pickering belong to the Asiatic region, the presence of the above-mentioned fruit-bearing species seems to confirm what we gather from the kumara—that the inhabitants of Polynesia had at some time communication with the American Continent.
Iii.—The Cultivated Plants Of Polynesia: Indigenous Species.
The indigenous plants artificially multiplied by the Polynesian people were for the production of food and clothing, or for ornamental purposes. Of these the most important are the arrowroot, Tahitian chestnut, Tahitian apple, shaddock, ti-tree, and pandanus.
Pia, or Arrowroot (Tacca pinnatifolia).—This species, grows abundantly in a wild state on many of the islands of eastern Polynesia, where it is also cultivated, but only on a
[Footnote] * “Polynesian Researches.” W. Ellis.
[Footnote] † “Races of Man.”
limited scale. The tubers yield an excellent starch, which, we learn from Ellis,* was always used on festive occasions, but did not enter into the ordinary food of the inhabitants. This, he considers, was due to the labour required in its preparation; but the difficulty of cooking, owing to the want of earthenware or other vessels capable of withstanding fire, may have been in part the cause. Starch obtained from the roots of a fern, Pteris aquilina, var. esculentum, was largely used as food by the New-Zealanders, who were probably acquainted with the art of preparing starch when they entered the New Zealand Archipelago.
The very few cultivated esculents these people possessed made the fern-root of great importance to them, and compelled the labour required in the preparation of the starch. Throughout the Malay Islands sago starch is extensively used; in some of the groups it forms the chief food of the inhabitants. It is obtained from various species of palms belonging to the genera Metroxylon, Sagus, and Corypha, none of which seem to be regularly cultivated, though in many places the trees have individual owners,† On the south-east extremity of New Guinea Dr. Gill informs us that the light-skinned Papuans make use of starch as food,‡ but he does not state from what species of plant it is obtained. Westward of the Fly River Strachan found the sago-palm growing in great abundance, but the inhabitants were unacquainted with the art of preparing the starch, and merely used the dried pith as food.§ On some of the islands of the Solomon Group, where the sago-palm is also very abundant, the natives in time of scarcity use large pieces of the pith of the tree baked as food, but do not prepare starch, while in other places they were well acquainted with the process;∥ but neither in this nor any other of the Polynesian groups was the art of drying the starch into cakes, as practised by the Malays, understood.
Starch, or farina, was largely used as food by the ancient civilised inhabitants of the American Continent, and is still the principal food of large sections of the Brazilian population.¶ This starch was principally obtained from the root of the Manihot utilissima, an indigenous plant having poisonous properties. The true arrowroots belonging to the genus
[Footnote] * “Polynesian Researches.” W. Ellis.
[Footnote] † “The Malay Archipelago.” A. R. Wallace.
[Footnote] ‡ “Life in the Southern Islands.” W. Wyatt Gill.
[Footnote] § “Explorations and Adventures in New Guinea.” Captain J. Strachan.
[Footnote] ∥ “A Naturalist among the Head-hunters.” Charles Morris Woodford.
[Footnote] ¶ “Travels in Brazil.” George Gardner.
Maranta are all American, and were discovered there in cultivation by the early European navigators. The manioc is now largely cultivated throughout the whole of the tropical world. On the west coast of Africa, where it is called cassava, the starch, called tapioca, obtained from it is largely used by the natives. Livingstone,* in his journey to Loanda, noticing the prevalence of weak sight amongst the inhabitants, attributed it to a too general use of this food; but starch does not seem to have been anciently used by the peoples of Africa, for Speke,† Elton,‡ and Stanley§ make no mention of it, even in countries where the cassava is at present abundantly cultivated.
The importance of dried starch to a people who were not in possession of any of the cereals, as an article of food that might be stored, is obvious. Whether its general use by the ancient Americans and the Malayo-Polynesian peoples bespeaks a connection, or was merely indicative of a primitive condition of the agricultural art, we are not in a position to decide.
Tahiti Chestnut (Inocarpus edulis).—In the islands eastward of New Guinea this tree seems constantly to have been planted by the natives. The Rev. Dr. Gill∥ mentions that one was pointed out to him on the Island of Vaitupu, one of the Ellice Group, as having been planted by the first natives who arrived from Samoa; but whether it was an indigenous species or introduced by man he does not say, though probably, as Vaitupu is a mere coral island, the latter was the case. As far as I am aware, the chestnut did not find its way into the Malay Islands in ancient times; and this seems to be the case with regard to all the plants brought into cultivation in the eastern islands of the great chain. Probably the productions of the larger masses of land that constitute the Malay Islands were much superior or better fitted for the use of man Another species belonging to the same order as the chestnut, the Mimusops kauki, produces a fruit which Dr. Gill says is very largely used as food by the natives of southern New Guinea; but this tree also seems to have remained confined to its original habitat. All the species of this order, regarded by De Candolle as cultivated plants, belong to the American Continent, and were brought into use by the ancient inhabitants of the regions in which they are found. As their culture has not much extended since they became known to Europeans, we can only conclude that the fruits they produce are
[Footnote] * “Travels in South Africa.” Dr. D. Livingstone.
[Footnote] † “Journal of Discovery of the Source of the Nile.” J. H. Speke.
[Footnote] ‡ “Travels among African Lakes and Mountains.” Elton and Cotterill.
[Footnote] § “Through the Dark Continent.” H. M. Stanley.
[Footnote] ∥ “Life in the Southern Isles.” Rev. Wyatt Gill.
not highly esteemed, and that their cultivation in the first place was owing to a restricted choice.
Tahiti Apple (Spondias dulcis).—This tree has been carried by Europeans into various parts of the tropical world but in ancient times it seems to have been confined to the islands, eastward of New Guinea, where its fruit was largely used as food. Another species belonging to the same order, the mango (Manifera indica), a native of the Asiatic mainland, found its way into the western Malay Islands at a remote period, but had not extended its range to Polynesia in Forster's* time, and only reached the Philippine Group after those islands had been visited by the Portuguese. This confirms what we have already gathered from other sources—that the communication between the various sections of the great island belt was slow or irregular.
Shaddock (Citrus decumana).—The islands eastward of New Guinea, being the only region in which this species has been discovered positively wild, must be regarded as its original habitat, whence it spread westward. It had found its way into China before it became known to Europeans, but its now wide extension is due to the latter people. The sweet orange (Citrus aurantium sinense), undoubtedly of Chinese origin, existed in the Polynesian islands, but was not generally diffused in Forster's time. Moresby found it in New Guinea amongst people who, until he came in contact with them, had never seen Europeans.† From this we may conclude that the species was being disseminated throughout the island belt by the agency of the natives before Europeans had much intercourse with the region. Evidently the orange cannot be included amongst the ancient cultivated plants of Polynesia, described in the last chapter, for, had it been introduced along with them, it must have been as generally distributed as they were. As far as we can perceive, its dissemination depended on accident, while, as already shown, they were designedly conveyed from place to place.
Ti-Tree (Dracæna terminalis).— Throughout the Polynesian islands this species was generally cultivated for its roots and leaves; the roots being used as food, and the leaves for the manufacture of clothing. Ti is the Maori name of the Cordyline austrails, which is allied to, and resembles, the Dracæna terminalis. From the leaves of the Cordyline slippers and ropes were made by the Maoris, the roots being also used as food. We have a good example here of the manner in which names are introduced and applied by the natives.
[Footnote] * “Origin of Cultivated Plants.” A. De Candolle.
[Footnote] † “Discoveries in New Guinea and Polynesia.” Captain J. Moresby.
Pandanus (Pandanus utilis).—Throughout the islands eastward of New Guinea this species, both cultivated and wild, was the most widely-disseminated plant made use of by man. In New Zealand the flowers and fruit of the kiekie (Freycinetia bankseyi), belonging to the same natural order, were also largely consumed by the natives, but I am not aware that the plant was ever multiplied by cultivation. The Rev. Dr. Gill, in his work “Life in the Southern Isles,” thus describes one of the uninhabited islands visited by him: “Spending a pleasant day once on an uninhabited island—Nassau Island—I was surprised to see hundreds of robber-crabs asleep on the branches of lofty trees. In perfect safety they hung in rows, holding by their sharp-pointed toes in the shade of a primeval forest. These robber-crabs could not have existed on cocoanuts, as there was at that time but a single tree growing on the island. In all probability they had fed on the oily nut of the pandanus, which grows in great abundance near the sea. For the benefit of distressed voyagers, we planted upwards of thirty young cocoanut-trees, not without a misgiving that these fierce crabs might destroy them. Such however, was not the case, for they are now—1876—laden with fruit.”
Before reading this I was inclined to regard the robber-crab as a proof of the Polynesian origin of the cocoanut-palm, the ease with which it tore open the monster fruit being, seemingly, an adaptation; but the presence of the animal where the cocoanut is not found does not favour this view. The thick fibrous covering and the strong shell of the cocoanut are clearly an adaptation to the rough waves by which the nut must be so largely disseminated, the tree being littoral, and frequently growing out over the water.
Note.—The adaptation of the cocoanut to the sea may appear out of keeping with what has been said regarding its distribution among the Pacific islands; but I do not consider the structure of the fruit has anything to do with long sea-voyages: its adaptation is to the rough waves of the shore, along which the fruit must be so frequently carried and thrown up. Woodford states, in his work on the Solomon Islands, that the young cocoanut-palm will not grow beneath the shade of other trees. As we know that it thrives and bears fruit in situations where its roots are frequently damped by salt-water, we can see that the seed thrown ashore by the waves would be placed in the most favourable situation for growth.
In the foregoing chapters we have seen that nine species of plants foreign to the region were found in cultivation amongst the Maoris of eastern Polynesia and New Zealand by early European voyagers—besides the cocoanut, the true habitat of
which has not been satisfactorily determined. Of these nine species, all but one—the kumara—belong to the Asiatic flora, and must have found their way into Polynesia from the west. In that direction, therefore, it seems reasonable to seek the origin of Polynesian agriculture. Of the eight Asiatic species, the breadfruit, banana, Malay apple, yam, alocasia, taro, aute, and calabash—on the first six of which the Polynesians were mainly dependent for food—belong, probably, to the Malay Islands. The breadfruit, as we have already seen, is unable to live on the mainland; the now widely-distributed banana and the Malay apple, as far as can be determined, originally belonged to the island region; while the taro, alocasia, and yam may have been brought into cultivation either there or on the continent, being found wild in both situations. The question, then, naturally arises, Is the Malay Archipelago the birthplace, or one of the birthplaces, of agriculture ?—for it is quite possible the art may have had more than one starting-point.
The presence of the seedless breadfruits and bananas in eastern Polynesia, and of the aute or paper mulberry in New Zealand, proves beyond doubt that both regions were regularly colonised, and not accidentally peopled, as many writers have asserted. We know that into New Zealand all the cultivated plants the Polynesian people possessed capable of withstanding the climate were introduced. It seems therefore reasonable to conclude that in like manner all the plants in cultivation amongst the people of the Malay Archipelago at the period of Polynesian colonisation were also transplanted there, the climatic conditions of the two regions being the same.
In Polynesian agriculture, at a period immediately preceding the European intrusion, we have, then, evidence of what Malay agriculture was at a more remote epoch. Considered as a whole, the Malayan plants found in cultivation amongst the people of the Pacific form a collection of esculents well adapted to support a people dwelling within or near the equatorial belt, where vegetable growth is constant throughout the year, and where, owing to the absence of periodicity, it is unnecessary to store provisions during any great length of time; but, besides their incapacity to withstand a low temperature, the perishable nature of their products unfits these species for countries where, from the lack of moisture or a low temperature, vegetation is periodically suspended.
Leaving Polynesian agriculture, if we direct our attention to other portions of the earth we will find that both in ancient and modern times the labour of the husbandman has been chiefly directed to the production of commodities capable
of being stored for indefinite periods. In Egypt, China, and those parts of southern Asia whence we obtain the most ancient records of agriculture, the cereals, wheat, rice, millet, &c., have formed the principal crops for more than five thousand years. In Arabia and parts of northern Africa, where the climate prohibits the growth of corn, the date-palm furnishes the principal food of the inhabitants, the fruit being well fitted for storing. In the New World the farinaceous seeds of the quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), and the maize, or Indian corn (Zea mays), originally formed the chief food of the Peruvians and Mexicans.
Agriculture may thus be divided into two classes—the agriculture of the monotonous climates and the agriculture of the variable climes. From the facts that in the northern portions of the Old World, where the art is of comparatively recent introduction, it commenced at once with the growth of corn, and that even in the Malay Islands, though the ancient plants above referred to are still grown, they are of secondary importance compared with rice, it might at once be inferred that in the ancient Malay agriculture we have the more primitive form of the art.
Before finally accepting this conclusion, which would at once locate the birthplace of agriculture within or near the equatorial belt, it would be well to look a little more into the history of the art and its probable origin. Going back sufficiently far in the history of mankind, we arrive at a period when all existing races subsisted on the wild or spontaneous productions of the earth,* supplying themselves with animal food by hunting and fishing, and vegetable food by collecting wild fruits and roots. In every quarter of the globe evidences of this period have been obtained, either from ancient burial-grounds or other human remains, our knowledge being further extended by a study of still-existing savage races. From these various sources we learn that in ancient as in modern times the dwellers in high latitudes subsisted chiefly on animal food, while those living nearer to the equator were largely dependent on vegetable products. Thus the Esquimaux, Samoyedes,† and other inhabitants of the Arctic regions have frequently no other vegetable diet than the lichen obtained from, the stomach of the reindeer, slain in the chase, and a species of fungus is the only vegetable the natives of Tierra del Fuego add to their scanty diet of fish. ‡ On the other hand, the Digger Indians of California, one of the lowest of the aboriginal races, derive their name from the quantities
[Footnote] * “Origin of Civilization.” Sir J. Lubbock.
[Footnote] † “Voyage of the ‘Vega’.” Nordenskiold.
[Footnote] ‡ “Voyage of a Naturalist.” Darwin.
of wild roots and fruits they consume; and in Africa the Damaras*, Bosjesmans, and other rude tribes that do not cultivate the soil subsist largely on pig-nuts and other wild vegetable products. Thus, owing to the natural conditions of existence amongst the primitive races, some lived chiefly on animal, others on vegetable, food. In their progress towards civilization the former probably passed directly from the hunter to the pastoral state, the latter to the agricultural state.
In the long barrows or burial-places of a small Iberian people who anciently occupied the western coast of Europe and the British Islands, and whose descendants are still seen in the Spanish Basque and amongst the people of the western counties of Ireland, along with human remains and with rude stone implements the bones of various wild animals are found interred, the only domestic species being the dog. In the round barrows containing the remains of the large Keltic people, by whom the Iberians were supplanted, bones of cattle and goats, as well as dogs, have been discovered, but from neither the Iberian nor Keltic tombs have any traces of agriculture been obtained, acorns, hazel-nuts, and other wild fruits being the only vegetable products disinterred.†
The pastoral nomads of Central Asia, who until very recently used stone implements and subsisted almost exclusively on the produce of their flocks and herds, cultivating no species of plant, furnish a living example of the ancient Keltic societies. ‡ From the tombs of the ancient Peruvians many cultivated plants have been obtained, but these people could never have passed through the pastoral state, the llama, alpaca, dog, and guinea - pig being the only domesticated quadrupeds the Peruvians possessed at the period of the Spanish intrusion. § New Guinea, Borneo, and other portions of the tropical world furnish abundant examples of peoples who have adopted the practice of agriculture while still retaining many of their savage customs. ∥
The rudest attempt at agriculture of which we have any knowledge is that made by the aborigines of northern Australia, and to which reference has already been made, the only plant cultivated by this people being the native yam (Dioscorea hastifolia); all they can have received from without is the idea to increase by planting the root they already used for food.
In its very early stages it is probable that this is how the practice of agriculture extended itself. Before the process of
[Footnote] * “Narrative of an Explorer in South Africa.” F. Galton.
[Footnote] † “Origin of the Aryans.” Isaac Taylor.
[Footnote] ‡ “Russian Central Asia.” Rev. H. Lansdell.
[Footnote] § “Conquest of Peru.” Prescott.
[Footnote] ∥ “Pioneering in New Guinea.” James Chalmers.
selection commenced, between the products of the wild or self-sown and artificially-sown plants there would be no difference, and consequently nothing could be gained by transporting the artificial fruits or roots where the wild might be obtained, though from imitating the practice of planting a benefit would certainly be experienced. This would probably account for the large number of the Dioscorea that have passed into cultivation in various parts of the world.
Where the first agricultural community arose it is impossible to determine, but we may possibly discover where the conditions necessary to such a result occurred. These conditions were obviously a settled population, a regular climate favourable to vegetable growth, a fertile soil, and fruits, roots, or other indigenous esculents already in use.
From the kitchenmiddens* or shell-heaps found along the shores of the Baltic, and from similar remains in other parts of the world, we learn that primitive races, who subsisted by fishing, often occupied the same locality for a great length of time. On the shores and islands of tropical seas, and in the estuaries of great rivers flowing into these seas, the physical conditions above enumerated occur in many places. Here, then, fishing communities, having once received the idea of increasing their supply of vegetable food by planting, might well develope into agricultural communities, or even into agricultural states. The Japanese, who have undoubtedly been an agricultural people from a very ancient time, asserting that they are the descendants of fishermen, still maintain the practice of including a piece of seaweed or dried fish with any gift they may have to bestow, regarding this as a token of their origin, † fish being also the only animal food used by a great mass of the people. Throughout the Malay Archipelago, also, fish and vegetables fully supply the requirements of the inhabitants, who thus seem to be constitutionally independent of other descriptions of animal food.
Pickering,‡ speculating on the origin of agriculture, made the table-lands of Thibet, Mexico, and Peru the birthplaces of the art. The open, garden-like nature of the vegetation, and the mild, uniform, moist climates of these elevated tracts, together with the many indigenous edible roots, would, he considered, have suggested the idea of increasing the food-supply by planting. On the other hand, he contended that in a dense forest country the clearing of the land would demand an amount of labour rude savages are incapable of; but we know that amongst rude agricultural people who have
[Footnote] * “Man before Metals.” Professor N. Joly.
[Footnote] † “Unbeaten Tracks in Japan.” Mrs. Bishop (Isabella Bird).
[Footnote] ‡ “Races of Man.” C. Pickering.
a choice of situations the forest land is invariably preferred. In North America, where there are wide areas, of open land, the agricultural operations of the semi-hunting tribes, unacquainted with the use of metal, have been thus described: “The Indians belt (coupent) the trees about 2ft. or 3ft. from the ground; then they trim off all the branches and burn them at the foot of the tree, in order to kill it, and afterwards take away the roots. This being done, the women carefully clean up the ground between the trees, and at every step they dig a round hole, in which they sow nine or ten grains of maize, which they have first carefully selected and soaked for some days in water.”*
The Dyho† cultivations general throughout the mountainous parts of Hindostan are dependent on the forest land; and in Polynesia the land at first rescued from the forest is, after being in cultivation a few years, allowed to grow up in trees, when it is again cleared and brought under crop. ‡
To any one who has resided some time in newly-settled country and devoted his attention to agriculture the reason for this seeming waste of labour is obvious. Naturally open grass or fern land is generally unproductive until after it has been broken up and exposed to the sun and air for some time. Forest land, on the contrary, is most fertile immediately after the timber has been burned off, and is also for a time free from weeds. Forest fires and the dense luxuriant growth of shrubs that appear after the destruction of the large timber may have suggested this primitive mode of husbandry. As many of these shrubs—for instance, the raspberries that come up on clearings in North America, the poroporo (Solanum aviculare) and the Cape gooseberry (Physalis peruviana) that follow the destruction of the New Zealand bush—produce edible fruit, even the idea of agriculture may have been thus originated.
The most important effect of agriculture as regards modern civilization has been the enormous increase of population it gave rise to. It has been estimated that, of pastoral nomads like the Kirghiz of Central Asia, France would support about fifty thousand, and the whole pastoral zone of northern Europe not more than a million, or about half the population of the Lower Nile Valley at the time Memphis was founded and the pyramids built.
In the earliest historical period the great mass of the Old-World population was contained within a narrow zone, extending from China on the east along the southern portion of
[Footnote] * “The Mounds of the Mississippi.” Lucien Carr.
[Footnote] † “Highlands of Central India.” Capt. J. Forsyth.
[Footnote] ‡ “Jottings in the Pacific.” Rev. W. Wyatt Gill.
Asia to Egypt on the west, where it terminated abruptly. As within this zone we know that at first the population was most dense along the seaward margin, history seems at once to confirm the conclusion arrived at from physical data—that it was the dwellers by the ocean agriculture first bade increase and multiply.
In Egypt the most ancient evidence of agriculture has been obtained, but there is nothing in this evidence to lead to the conclusion that the Nile Valley was the birthplace of the art; on the contrary, it seems to have been introduced there in a somewhat advanced state. Wheat, which formed the staple food of the people from the very earliest time, was not an indigenous species, nor has Egypt produced any one of the most important esculents known to be in cultivation more than four thousand years, unless it might be millet (Panicum miliaceum), the origin of which is doubtful; indeed, the lower portion of the Nile Valley is not a region to which we would naturally look for the origin of cultivated esculents, except rice, which we know was not introduced into the country until after Alexander's return from his Indian conquests. Presenting the appearance of a lake during about three months of the year, with a rainless climate, the indigenous species were necessarily peculiar in their habits. In the upper portion of the Nile Valley, between the Sobat junction and Gondokoro, we can still, probably, see what Egypt was before man laid hands upon it. Here a wilderness of tall reed-grasses and sedge, interlaced with convolvulus and other climbing plants, borders the river on either side, the land from which this dense, tangled mass of vegetation arises being periodically a morass or a parched desert.* Although its land, its climate, and its flora preclude the possibility of Egypt being the birthplace of agriculture, it was pre-eminently adapted, as results have proved, to be the home of an agricultural people. During more than six thousand years the Lower Nile Valley has supported a population not only sufficient to cultivate its soil, but to create that vast assemblage of monuments to which we are so largely indebted for our knowledge of the past. In following back the traces of civilization one important fact we gather from Egyptian agriculture is, however remote its commencement may have been, there was a more ancient agriculture to which it owed its being.
Let us now turn to the eastern extremity of the ancient zone of population—to China and the adjacent portions of the Asiatic Continent, extending from the tropics northward towards cold latitudes. Here we at once discover all the conditions necessary to the birth as well as the development of
[Footnote] * “The Albert Nyanza.” Sir S. W. Baker.
agriculture. In the southern portion, where the monotonous and regular tropical climate prevails, it is only necessary to commit the seed roughly to the soil, regardless of season, to insure a return. In other parts the time of sowing has to be studied, and care bestowed on the ground. From this region, if we include in it the islands of the adjacent seas, a large proportion of the Old-World species, cultivated more than four thousand years, has been derived. From Chinese records we gather that five of the cereals, including wheat and rice, were cultivated in that country 4,700 years ago, rice being undoubtedly an indigenous species there brought into cultivation.
Excepting European agriculture of the present century, it is in this region—in China and Japan—the art has attained its highest perfection. Within it also we find the rudest attempts at cultivation of which we have any knowledge. We can even go further back than this, for in the sago-eaters of the Isle of Ceram* we have a people living almost exclusively on vegetable food without cultivating the plants on which they depend, for the various species of Rumphius from which the sago is prepared are not sown, though the plants have individual owners. Here, then, it seems reasonable to conclude agriculture first took the form of a regular art, and that from hence it spread westward to the shores of the Mediterranean, and eastward among the islands of the Pacific. As already stated, Egypt has been an agricultural state for more than six thousand years. It may now be asked, When did the art enter Polynesia? The presence of the seedless breadfruits and bananas, besides proving that the countless islands of eastern Polynesia wherein they occur were regularly colonised, show that agriculture must have been well advanced in the Malay Archipelago when this colonisation took place, the growing of plants from suckers and cuttings, and how to transport them across broad expanses of ocean, being evidently understood. Although Polynesian agriculture is certainly less ancient than Malayan, we must accord to it a considerable antiquity if we accept as evidence the absence of certain cultivated esculents.
From historical sources we learn that Java was colonised during the first century of the Christian era by the Javanas, who, by some authorities, are supposed to be descended from the Greek invaders of India.† With this colonisation the cereals, Leguminosæ, and other cultivated plants commonly diffused in the more civilised portion of the Old World would be introduced into the Malay Islands if they were not previously there. As none of the species referred to were
[Footnote] * “The Malay Archipelago.” A. R. Wallace.
[Footnote] † “Orissa.” W. W. Hunter.
observed in Polynesia by early European voyagers, we can only conclude that the colonisation of that region took place at an earlier date, and that communication between the eastern and western portions of the great island zone was interrupted from that time forward to the period of European enterprise. If this conclusion is correct, it enables us at once to understand the presence of the Kumara in Polynesia and its absence from the Malayan Archipelago. It may have been introduced into the former region during the period of isolation, but the probability of this would be better appreciated when the ancient civilization of the eastern Polynesian people comes under consideration.
While the foreign cultivated esculents found in Polynesia indicate a former connection with the islands of the Indian Ocean, or with the American Continent, the only foreign plant cultivated as a material for clothing is of Japanese or Chinese origin. Are we then to conclude that between these countries and Polynesia an intercourse also formerly existed?
I have already mentioned, while referring to the cultivation of this Japanese species, the paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) in New Zealand, and the inferences to be drawn from it—that precisely the same mode of manufacturing bark cloth was until recently in vogue amongst the peoples of Polynesia, of Central Africa, and of Madagascar, though the barks used in the various places were derived from different species of trees. The only possible way of accounting for the wide distribution of this curious art is that it spread from some central situation, where it was discovered or perfected, and that it was adapted to the natural productions of the countries into which it made its way. A similar diffusion of the arts of spinning and weaving, and their adaptation to various descriptions of animal and vegetable fibres in different parts of the world, we know has taken place within historic times, though the arts date back to prehistoric ages.
From Ellis, the apostle of Madagascar, to whom we are indebted for a description of the Polynesian tapa cloth and the process of manufacture, we learn that when he visited the great African island the manufacture and use of this bark cloth was restricted to isolated localities that had little communication with the outer world. In other portions of the island the arts of spinning and weaving were understood, but the machines in use were of the very rudest description. As neither in Polynesia nor Central Africa the distaff, spinning-wheel, or loom were known, while the bark cloth was in general use, I think we may safely conclude that it is more ancient than the woven fabrics, and that it has been superseded by them; but we know that in Egypt, Babylonia, India, and China the woven fabrics have been in use more
than four thousand years. Where, then, was the centre of this ancient civilization of which the felted bark cloth is a trace, and which made itself felt from the Sandwich Islands to the shores of the Victoria Nyanza, it is not possible at present to determine; but from the presence of the paper mulberry, and its very careful cultivation in Polynesia, it seems extremely probable that the ancient Polynesian people were in direct, or almost direct, communication with that centre.
Excepting the breadfruit, which is not found wild or cultivated on any of the continents, it is not possible to determine positively where the Malayan esculents anciently introduced into Polynesia were first brought into cultivation; but from the fact of the banana, taro, alocasia, and yam being all grown on the mainland of Asia for more than four thousand years, I think it is safe to conclude that even before that very early period there was an interchange of products between the archipelago and the continent, and that the Malay Islands constituted an important portion of the then civilized world. Through the Malay Islands the paper mulberry and the art of manufacturing its bark into cloth may have reached Polynesia, although the great social and political changes the western islands have undergone have there obliterated all traces of that portion of their history. The two stations wherein Ellis observed the manufacture of the tapa cloth—eastern Polynesia and Madagascar—prove beyond doubt that the art was diffused by a maritime people. From the association of the art with Polynesian agriculture it is extremely probable that, while in a very primitive condition, agriculture was similarly and as widely dispersed.
V.—The Domestic Animals Of Polynesia.
When Cook discovered the Hawaiian Archipelago, in 1778, and Mendana discovered the Solomon Islands, in 1568, they found the natives in possession of dogs, pigs, and fowls. As it seems certain no European vessel had touched at the Hawaiian Islands previous to Cook's, visit, and there is still less reason to suppose that the Solomons were visited by Europeans before the date of Mendana's discovery, we may safely conclude that the three above-mentioned animals were in domestication throughout Polynesia prior to the European discovery of the New World. To these foreign species another domestic animal, not so generally distributed, must, I think, be added, the Megapodius brenchleyi, of which Woodford, in his work on the Solomon Islands, gives the following description: “The birds lay in open, sandy clearings, generally near the sea, which are kept clear of shrubs and undergrowth by the natives, and by the sand being constantly turned over by the birds. The eggs are buried sometimes as
deeply as 2ft. from the surface, and are hatched by the natural heat of the hot sand. Many thousands of birds congregate at the same place, the laying-yards being often some acres in extent. At the Island of Savo, where these birds especially abound, they become so tame that I have seen a native digging out eggs and birds digging fresh holes to lay in within a few yards of one another.”*
The presence of this bird in some of the islands of eastern Polynesia can only be due to human agency. In Niafu, one of the very remote islands of the Tonga Group, the Megapodes are very numerous. Romilly, who visited the place in 1881, states that the coast is so rocky and precipitous the natives are unable to keep either boats or canoes; and he thus describes the mode of landing: “Landing can only be managed on the calmest days, and even on shore there is no spot where a boat can be beached. There is a slippery rock on which the natives stand, and, as you watch your opportunity for a jump, they form a chain, holding each other's hands. You then make your spring, and the last native of the chain catches you any way he can, and hauls you up like a bale of goods.”† Yet these people possess horses, and have constructed a bridle-road round the large lake of mineralised water that occupies the centre of the island. Niafu is subject to very violent earthquakes, during one of which, some years back, a large portion of the land, with all its inhabitants, disappeared suddenly beneath the ocean. On this submerged land, it is supposed, there was a place where horses could be landed. It may thus be seen how the presence of an animal in a certain locality may confirm a very imperfectly-recorded fact, or even reveal a fact, in the absence of any record. The Niafu horses testify to the activity of our own times, the Megapodes to the activity of some former period.
The Megapodius brenchleyi is found as far west as Celebes, and was observed at the Philippines by Pigafetta, who accompanied Magellan, the eggs being there used and sold like those of ordinary domestic fowls.‡ As this family of birds belongs to the Australian region, there can be little doubt that its presence in Celebes and the Philippines is also due to human agency. By what people this dispersal was effected will be considered in another chapter.
From what has been ascertained regarding the general distribution of animal life, we are able to say with certainty that the dingo, or wild dog, of Australia is foreign to the fauna of that continent, and must, therefore, have been introduced
[Footnote] * “A Naturalist among the Head-hunters.” C. M. Woodford.
[Footnote] † “The Western Pacific and New Guinea.” H. H. Romilly.
[Footnote] ‡ “The Life of Ferdinand Magellan.” F. H. H. Guillemard.
intentionally or accidentally by man. The natives tame the dingo, and train it to hunt, but it cannot be considered a domestic animal, as these same specimens often refuse to follow their owners; and the females, when in young, always disappear before the period of parturition, the natives being thus dependent on the discovery of litters of pups in the bush.* That they fully recognise the value of the dingo as an assistant in the chase is shown by the care they take of the few they possess. According to Lumholtz, they are more attentive to their dogs than to their children. From this I think it may be safely concluded the dingo was not introduced as a domestic animal either by or with the present aborigines, for had they ever possessed it in domestication they would not have allowed it to go entirely wild.
The natives of Tierra del Fuego, who are far lower in the scale of humanity than the Australians, maintain a breed of domestic dogs they value so highly that in times of famine they eat their old women rather than sacrifice these animals. † As the natives of New Guinea, as well as those of Polynesia, had dogs in domestication before Europeans came in contact with them, the question arises, Why do the aborigines of Australia differ in this respect from them, and from most savages of whom we have any knowledge? Woodford, who travelled in Australia, and was familiar with the dingo, ascertained during his visits to the Solomon Group that it is identical with the ancient domestic dog of those islands. And from the following description left by Crozet of the now extinct New Zealand dog it is evidently identical with that animal also, and consequently, we must infer, with the ancient dog of Polynesia: “The only quadrupeds I saw in this country were dogs and rats. The dogs are a sort of domesticated fox, quite black or white, very low on the legs, straight ears, thick tail, long body, full jaws, but more pointed than that of the fox, and uttering the same cry; they do not bark like our dogs. These animals are only fed on fish, and it appears that the savages only raise them for food. Some were taken on board our vessels, but it was impossible to domesticate them like our dogs; they were always treacherous, and bit us frequently.”‡ This, taken in conjunction with the fact before mentioned of the taro being found wild in a few parts of northern Australia, renders it extremely probable that some of the Polynesian people visited the continent and settled there for some time, and that the now feral animal and the feral plant were introduced by them. The ancestors of the various domestic dogs scattered over the
[Footnote] * “Among Cannibals.” Carl Lumholtz.
[Footnote] † “Voyage of a Naturalist.” Darwin.
[Footnote] ‡ “Crozet's Voyage to Tasmania and New Zealand.” Trans., H. Ling Roth.
world have not been ascertained; but, whether they have had a monogenetic or polygenetic origin, we must go outside both Australia and the great island belt to find the wild stock whence the dingo has been derived, for there is no animal proper to either of those regions to which its descent might be traced.
Throughout Polynesia, in New Guinea, and New Zealand the domestic dog, or domestic dingo, as it might be termed, is everywhere associated with the art of agriculture; we may therefore conclude that its dispersal was effected by a people acquainted with that art, and it is very probable that the art and the domestic animal appeared simultaneously in the region. From the remains of dogs discovered in the burying-places of the rude hunting tribes that formerly inhabited the northern portions of Europe and Asia, it is evident that the animal was brought into domestication before any portion of mankind had attained to the pastoral state.* How the domestication of the dog may have come about can be seen in the taming and training of the dingo by the Australian natives. As there is nothing in the arts or customs of the natives that might lead us to suppose they were more civilised than when Europeans first observed them, or that they are the offshoot of a more civilized nation, possibly they may have entered the continent prior to the domestication of the dog, or before it made its way into the part of the world from whence they have been derived.
Whether the Orang Poonans of Borneo keep dogs and employ them in the chase has not been positively ascertained; if they do not, as the information we possess goes to show, it strengthens the supposition that the great island region was peopled before the dog got into general use amongst the hunter nations of the world. Throughout Polynesia the dog, as an assistant in the chase, was of little use to the inhabitants except to capture pigs, after those animals became wild. In its very general dispersal we can see at what a very early period the fashion of keeping dogs regardless of utility commenced. In a few of the islands of eastern Polynesia, however, this adaptive animal was turned to a singular account, being fattened for food.
The ancient pig of Polynesia, which may still be found on a few of the islands, has been identified by competent observers with the wild pig of New Guinea (Sus papuensis), but whether this is really an indigenous species, or only, like the dingo, a feral animal, our knowledge of the great Australasian islands is too imperfect to justify a conclusion; but, considering the fauna of New Guinea as a whole, and the
[Footnote] * “Man before Metals.” Professor N. Joly.
absence of the pig on the neighbouring continent, it is more than probable it was introduced by man. Of the various domestic animals, the Polynesian fowls furnish the best evidence of a former intercourse between the region and the Malay Archipelago, for we must proceed eastward of Celebes, or, perhaps, to the Peninsula of India, to discover the original habitat of the species, or where it was domesticated. The jungle-fowl being the only representative of the Phasianidæ in Celebes,* there can be little doubt that it is also a feral species.
As in the case of the cultivated plants, from the absence as well as the presence of certain domestic animals in Polynesia, important conclusions may be arrived at. In the preceding chapter we have seen that in the warm portions of the earth there is reason to believe man passed directly from the hunting or fishing to the agricultural stage, and in colder regions from the hunting to the pastoral stage. In seeking the birthplace of agriculture we must take into consideration both the Old World and the New, but regarding the origin of the pastoral industry only the former can furnish any evidence. Though the American Continent possessed many ruminants that if domesticated might have been of great service to man, only three herbivorous quadrupeds were found in domestication by the early European discoverers—the guinea-pig, alpaca, and the llama. Though the two latter were kept by the Peruvians in vast herds for the sake of their wool and flesh, the llama being also employed as a beast of burden, the use of milk, on which the true nomadic herdsman is so largely dependent, seems to have been entirely unknown to the aborigines of Peru. † Throughout a greater, portion of the Old World milk forms an important item in the food of the inhabitants, certain rude tribes, such as the Kirghiz and Calmuck of Central Asia, and the Damara and Hottentot of Southern Africa, being almost dependent on it.
Like America, Africa possesses a number of indigenous ruminants, yet all the domestic species found amongst its inhabitants are foreign to the continent. It is impossible to determine exactly where the various species of domestic cattle, sheep, goats, reindeer, camels, and horses now scattered amongst the various nations of the world were first brought into subjection, but we can say with confidence that the wild stocks from which all were derived belonged to the Euro-Asiatic region. Here, then, the use of milk, and its various preparations as food, first came into vogue. As the milk and flesh of all the animals enumerated is or has
[Footnote] * “The Malay Archipelago.” A. R. Wallace.
[Footnote] † “Conquest of Peru.” Prescott.
been at some former period used for food, it is probable that their domestication in the first place was effected with a view to the food-supply, though some are now employed almost exclusively as beasts of burden. There is abundant archæological evidence that several of these animals were in domestication amongst the rude inhabitants of Europe and the temperate portions of Asia before either the use of metal or the art of agriculture was known within those regions.* The Japanese furnish an example of an agricultural people keeping cattle but making no use of their milk. Miss Bird tells us: “We left Ichinono early on a fine morning with three pack-cows, one of which I rode, and their calves, very comely kine, with small noses, short horns, straight spines, and deep bodies. I thought that I might get some fresh milk, but the idea of anything but a calf milking a cow was so new to the people that there was a universal laugh, and Ito told me that they thought it ‘most disgusting,’ and that the Japanese think it ‘most disgusting’ in foreigners to put anything ‘with such a strong smell and taste’ into their tea.” On this subject Humboldt made the following important remarks: “The cows yield milk plentifully enough in the lower regions of the torrid zone, wherever good pasturage is found. I call attention to this fact because local circumstances have spread through the Indian Archipelago the prejudice of considering hot climates as repugnant to the secretion of milk. We may conceive the indifference of the inhabitants of the New World for a milk diet, the country having been originally destitute of animals capable of furnishing it; but how can we avoid being astonished at this indifference in the immense Chinese population, living in great part beyond the tropics, and in the same latitude with the nomad and pastoral tribes of Central Asia? If the Chinese have ever been a pastoral people, how have they lost the tastes and habits so intimately connected with that state which precedes agricultural institutions? These questions are interesting with respect both to the history of the nations of oriental Asia and to the ancient communications that are supposed to have existed between that part of the world and the north of Mexico.”
Throughout the greater portion of the civilized and partly-civilized world the rearing of cattle and other ruminants for the sake of their flesh and milk goes hand-in-hand with the
[Footnote] * “Antiquity of Man”: Sir C. Lyell. “Origin of the Aryans”: Isaac Taylor. “Origin of Civilisation”: Sir J. Lubbock. “Unbeaten Tracks in Japan”: Mrs. Bishop (Isabella Bird). “Personal Narrative of Travels”: Humboldt; Bonpland. “The Long White Mountain (Travels in Manchuria)”: James.
cultivation of the soil. A little milk is too often the only addition the ryots of India and the labouring people of Ireland have to their miserable diet of rice and potatoes. When and how the pastoral and agricultural industries became united would, if accurately determined, form one of the most instructive chapters in the history of civilization.
From the very commencement of their history the Egyptians seem to have carried on these combined industries, cattle being their only domesticated animals during a long period.* As these cattle and their cultivated plants belonged originally to the Euro-Asiatic region, we must conclude that the first intermingling of pastoral and agricultural tribes took place in some other portion of the world, and prior to the colonisation of the Nile Valley.
In equatorial and southern Africa we still find tribes depending exclusively on the cultivation of the soil, and others on the produce of their flocks and herds, but generally these two are found united within the same tribe; but in all cases the herdsmen form a distinct class, and affect a superiority over the agriculturists, or hoemen, † as, they style them. From the knowledge we possess, it is evident that the pastoral industry was introduced subsequent to agriculture, and by a conquering people. ‡ There can be little doubt that it entered the continent from the north-east. But whence was the art of agriculture derived? The presence of the manioc, maize, and sweet potatoes in, parts of the continent where Europeans have only very lately penetrated renders the solution of this question extremely difficult, for they show how rapidly useful plants are disseminated amongst the negro races. Still, the very general cultivation of the banana and the colocasia, taken in connection with the bark cloth referred to in former chapters, favours the supposition that the art may have been introduced from some of the countries bordering on the Indian Ocean.
From what has come down to us of Asiatic history we may confidently conclude that the domestic ruminants made their first appearance in the south-eastern portion of the continent more than four thousand years ago, a period to which history also enables us to trace back many of our cultivated plants. Whether the domestic animals made their way at the same time into any portion of the great island region cannot be positively determined, but their complete absence from Polynesia, coupled with what we know of the Japanese, makes it extremely improbable, for, were they in the Malay Islands
[Footnote] * “Ancient Egypt.” Canon Rawlinson.
[Footnote] † “Darker Africa.” H. M. Stanley.
[Footnote] ‡ “Emin Pasha in Central Africa.”
when the easterly migration took place, they could scarcely fail to have been transported to some of the Polynesian groups; and this conclusion is strengthened by the fact that the people of the Philippines possessed domestic goats when Magellan, discovered the group, though these animals, so easy to transport, were not found further eastward.*
To the progress of the inland pastoral peoples, who constantly swept down on southern Asia, the sea naturally presented an insurmountable obstacle. The Javanas, who overran the Malay Archipelago from India at the commencement of the Christian era, were the descendants of the Greek conquerors of Hindostan, and consequently a people better adapted for maritime enterprise than the Indo-Aryans, with whom they had become intermingled. †
Unlike the Old World, in the New the domestication of animals, if we except the dog, as well as the cultivation of vegetables, commenced within the tropics. This cannot be attributed to the physical features or fauna of the region, for in temperate North America all the conditions necessary to beget and develope the pastoral industry—wide-stretching grassy plains and ruminants well adapted for domestication— occur.
As the necessity for an artificial regulation of the food-supply is obviously greater in high latitudes, where long, severe winters have to be encountered, than near the equator, where a warm, monotonous climate prevails, the question naturally presents itself, Why, Of all the aboriginal races, did those dwelling within the tropics alone try to make themselves independent of the wild or spontaneous productions of the country?
According to an ancient Mexican tradition, the civilization of that country was introduced by a bearded, foreigner from the West. We have already seen that between eastern Polynesia and the New World a communication formerly existed. Although these two items of evidence corroborate each other in a remarkable manner, it would be rash to found a theory on them. Still, they show unmistakably the possibility of the ancient American civilization having been derived from Asia by way of Polynesia, or, in other words, the possibility of civilization, taken as a whole, being monogenetic, instead of polygenetic, as hitherto supposed. Here the great importance of Polynesian or Maori history becomes at once obvious; but this subject will be better considered in the sequel.
The only domestic animals the New-Zealanders possessed
[Footnote] * “Life of Ferdinand Magellan.” F. H. H. Guillemard.
[Footnote] † “Orissa.” W. Hunter.
when Cook first visited the archipelago were dogs. From this, and pigs being generally called puaka throughout eastern Polynesia, it is commonly supposed that their presence was due to European agency; but there is unmistakable evidence that the Polynesians possessed both pigs and fowls before the European period. Woodford, who was well aware of this, writes: “Captain Cook introduced the pig to New Zealand, but they were pigs that he had bought from the natives at Tahiti, and not that he had brought with him from England, as most people suppose. That the Maoris had no pigs I can account for on two suppositions: First, that at the time they migrated to New Zealand from Hawaiki the pig may not then have been introduced among the Polynesian natives of the Pacific; but chiefly, I think, on account of the long canoe voyage the Maoris must have had, wherever Hawaiki may have been. Bound all four legs together in the bottom of a wet canoe, as they assuredly would have been, no pig could survive very long, a pig being a most tender animal under such conditions. Besides, if they started with any, they would have been doubtless eaten before they got to the end of such a long voyage”:* but before we can finally accept the latter conclusion it must be reconciled with the presence of pigs and fowls in the equally-isolated Hawaiian Group.
VI.—Ancient Monuments And Mariners Of Polynesia.
Scattered over the countless islands of Polynesia are many stone structures concerning which the inhabitants were unable to furnish any intelligible information when Europeans first invaded the territories. Though these structures vary greatly in form and dimensions, all are of the Cyclopean type, constructed without any cementing material, the stones in some cases being jointed or dovetailed together, a style of building anciently in vogue in the opposite hemisphere as far north as the distant Hebrides.
On both the Carolines and Easter Island, the north-western and south-eastern extremities of the great island chain, these ancient monuments are especially numerous, but throughout middle Polynesia there is no group and few islands of any extent wherein they are not found.
When Cook explored Tahiti in 1759 he visited the great marae of Oamo, of which he has left the following description: “It is a long square of stonework built pyramidically; its base is 267ft. by 87ft.; at the top it is 250ft. by 8ft. It is built in the same manner as we do steps leading up to a sundial or fountain erected in the middle of a square, where there
[Footnote] * “A Naturalist among the Head-hunters” (Solomon Islands). C. M. Woodford.
is a flight of steps on each side. In this building there are eleven of such steps; each step is about 4ft. in height, and the breadth 4ft. 7in., but they decreased both in height and breadth from the bottom to the top. On the middle of the top stood the image of a bird carved in wood; near it lay the broken one of a fish carved in stone. There was no hollow or cavity in the inside, the whole being filled up with stones. The outside was faced partly with hewn stones and partly with others, and these were placed in such a manner as to look very agreeable to the eye. Some of the hewn stones were 4ft. 7in. by 2ft. 4in., and 15in. thick, and had been squared and polished with some sort of an edge tool. On the east side was enclosed with a stone wall a piece of ground, in form of a square, 360ft. by 354ft.; in this were growing several cypress-trees and plantains. Round about this marae were several smaller ones all going to decay, and on the beach between them and the sea lay scattered up and down a great quantity of human bones. Not far from the great marae were two or three pretty large altars, where lay the skull-bones of some hogs and dogs.”*
In the absence of historical records, it is only from the monuments themselves and their surroundings we can now hope to recover their history.
Easter Island, on which so many of these mysterious remains are found, is one of the most isolated spots of land on the surface of our globe, being about eighteen hundred miles distant from the coast of South America and fifteen hundred from the Gambier Group, the nearest land. The island, only thirty miles in circumference, was described by Cook as barren, almost treeless, and very badly supplied with fresh water, the formation volcanic, some of the peaks being over 1,000ft. elevation. † The monuments, which have long been a subject of speculation, consist of stone houses, massively built, and placed in rows or streets; platforms from 200ft. to 300ft. in length, and 15ft. to 20ft. high on the outer or seaward side, constructed of hewn stones dovetailed together; stone statues 3ft. to 30ft. high, representing the upper portion of a human figure, sometimes standing on the platform and sometimes on the ground; and sculptured rocks, the subject being generally a human face. On the heads of the larger figures crowns made from a red volcanic stone were fitted. This material was formerly regarded as foreign to the little island, but further exploration proved it was obtained from a quarry at the south-west end of the island, another quarry at the opposite end having furnished the grey lava out
[Footnote] * “Captain Cook's Journal.”
[Footnote] † “Captain Cook's Third Voyage.”
of which the bodies of the figures and the pedestals on which they rested had been fashioned. In these quarries several finished and unfinished crowns and figures were discovered. One of these figures measured 20ft. from the nape of the neck to the top of the head, which was flattened for the reception of a crown. From the appearance of the eye-sockets, it has been conjectured that black obsidian eyeballs were originally inserted. Another peculiarity of the figures is the disproportionate size of the ears.
Regarding the erection of these statues, the Rev. W. Wyatt Gill gives the following particulars, obtained from the present inhabitants of the island: “Long, long ago there lived in Rapa-nui a famous artisan named Tukoio; he was also a magician. His sole delight was to carve in stone. His tools were merely sharp stone adzes, like those now in. existence, only larger and stronger. When any of these statues were completed Tukoio would order them to travel to the sites where they now are. They at once obeyed; but on their way some of them, having had the misfortune to stumble and fall, were never able to rise again. The office assigned to these gods was to guard the island against the intrusion of strangers and the violence of the ocean. To this day they are known collectively as ‘the Stones of Tukoio’ (Moaina-Tukoio). Each statue has also a separate name. Tukoio was deified after his death on account of his wondrous skill and might.”*
It is evident that the works above enumerated could not have been executed without metal tools, or without some description of implement the island was unable to furnish. † To whom, then, must these remains be ascribed? In their persons, their language, their arts, and the cultivated plants they possessed, the modern inhabitants of Easter Island resembled exactly other nations of eastern Polynesia and New Zealand. One of their customs, the artificial extension of the ears until they touched their shoulders, seems to identify them with the builders of the monuments, who must have been, however, by far their superiors in art. Besides this curious custom, Roggewein and other early explorers observed amongst them grotesque but well-executed wooden images, having obsidian eyeballs and disproportionately large ears.
A disposition has recently been evinced by persons interested in the history of Polynesia to separate the ancient monuments into two groups, assigning those of Easter Island to a New-World people, while giving those of Micronesia and the adjacent groups an Asiatic origin. But in the remains
[Footnote] * “Jottings in the Pacific.” W. Wyatt Gill.
[Footnote] † “Tropical Nature.” A. B. Wallace.
discovered in the far-distant and recently-explored Neckar Island they have a link connecting the great Tahitian pyramid described by Cook with the colossal statues of south-eastern Polynesia. Amongst the Neckar Island relics was a morie fish, found lying on a stone altar, and grotesque human figures with immense ears, also carved out of stone.*
For the construction of the Easter Island monuments a large number of workers labouring during a comparatively short time, or a smaller number of workers and a longer time, is necessary; as the little badly-watered island is inadequate for the maintenance of a large population, it is more probable the remains testified to time than to a great number of inhabitants. To whichever view we may incline, it seems certain that the workmen who quarried and fashioned stone for the various structures must have been supplied from without with implements, or with material for their manufacture, and that this supply could only have been maintained by a people well acquainted with the arts of shipbuilding and navigation. In seeking these people, and from whence they derived their supplies, we naturally turn to the nearest possible and probable source. In Peru and Mexico ancient monuments of the Polynesian type are found, and both countries abound in metals of every description. From hence, then, it seems probable the architects of Easter Island may have been derived, and may have received what they required; but the Peruvians and Mexicans were not seafaring people, nor was there such a people anywhere in the New World † previous to its invasion by Europeans. The Peruvian bulsu, the highest type of vessel found on the shores of the American Continent, though well adapted for the transportation of merchandise from place to place along the coast at certain seasons, would have been a sorry craft wherein to undertake voyages of discovery, or for the colonising of a region like the Pacific.
If Easter Island during the period of its prosperity was in communication with any civilized nation of the New World, the inhabitants of that time must have completely disappeared before the ancestors of the present natives took possession, otherwise there would have been, in the productions of the little island, some evidence of their existence when Europeans discovered it.
Westward of the Carolines are the numerous groups constituting what is called the Malay Archipelago or East Indian Islands. In all of these groups the metals abound, and their present inhabitants are skilful mariners, who were capable of making long voyages before they came in contact with Euro-
[Footnote] * “Polynesian Journal,” vol. iii.
[Footnote] † “Conquest of Mexico”; “Conquest of Peru.” Prescott.
peans or had European appliances at their command.* Here, then, we might reasonably expect to discover some clue to the mystery of the Polynesian monuments. But, before proceeding further, it will be well to examine the Polynesian people themselves.
Pigafetta, who accompanied Magellan, and was consequently one of the first Europeans who became acquainted with the inhabitants of the Pacific, has left an account of the outrigger canoes used by the natives of the Ladrones, and then seen for the first time by the Spanish explorers.† These strange craft, having the stem and stern alike, he tells us, were so dexterously handled by their occupants that they could pass between the Spanish ship and a boat towing astern.
Dampier, who visited the Ladrones in 1675, has given the following description of these canoes, or “flying proas” as they were termed: “The natives are very ingenious beyond any people in making boats, or ‘proas’ as they are called in the East Indies, and therein they take great delight. These are built sharp at both ends. The bottom is of one piece, made like the bottom of a little canoe, very neatly dug, and left of a good substance. This bottom part is instead of a keel; it is about 26ft. or 28ft. long. The under part of this keel is made round, but inclining to a wedge, and smooth; and the upper part is almost flat, having a very gentle hollow, and is about 1ft. broad. From hence both sides of the boat are carried up to about 5ft. high with narrow planks not above 4in. or 5in. broad; and each end of the boat turns up round very prettily. But, what is very singular, one side of the boat is made perpendicular, like a wall, while the other side is rounding, made as other vessels are, with a pretty full belly. Just in the middle it is about 4ft. or 5ft. broad aloft, or more, according to the length of the boat. The mast stands exactly in the middle, with a long yard that peaks up and down like a mizzen-yard. One end of it reaches down to the end or head of the boat, where it is placed in a notch that is made there purposely to receive it and keep it fast; the other end hangs over the stern. To this yard the sail is fastened. At the foot of the sail there is another small yard, to keep the sail out square, and to roll up the sail on when it blows hard; for it serves instead of a reef to take up the sail to what degree they please, according to the strength of the wind. Along the belly side of the boat, parallel with it, at 6ft. or 7ft. distance, lies another small boat or canoe, being a log of very light wood, almost as long as the great boat, but not so wide, being
[Footnote] * “Malay Archipelago.” A. R. Wallace.
[Footnote] † “Life of Ferdinand Magellan.” F. H. Guillemard.
not above 1½ft. wide at the upper part, and very sharp, like a wedge, at each end. And there are two bamboos of about 8ft. or 10ft. long and as big as one's leg placed over the great boat's side, one near each end of it, and reaching about 6ft. or 7ft. from the side of the boat, by the help of which the little boat is made firm and contiguous to the other. … I have been the more particular in describing these boats because I believe they sail the best of any boats in the world. I did here, for my own satisfaction, try the swiftness of one of them sailing by our log. We had twelve knots on our reel, and she ran it all out before the half-minute glass was half out, which, if it had been no more, is after the rate of twelve miles an hour; but I do believe she would have run twenty-four miles an hour.”*
Lord Anson, sixty-three years later, after ascertaining accurately the sailing-capacity of the proa, thus sums up: “And by the flatness of their lee-side and their small breadth they are capable of lying much nearer the wind than any other vessel hitherto known, and thereby have an advantage which no vessels that go large can ever pretend to. The advantage I mean is that of running with a velocity nearly as great as, and perhaps sometimes greater than, that with which the wind blows.”†
While Cook was sailing amongst the Tonga Islands the natives frequently quitted his ship, taking to their canoes in order to reach their destination in time to prepare for his reception. ‡ There is, indeed, abundant evidence that before the advent of Europeans the natives of Polynesia thoroughly understood the arts of sailing and of constructing vessels well adapted for the navigation of their seas.
From most reliable sources we learn that during the last century voyages between the Fijis, Samoa, Tonga, and other islands, 310 to 400 miles apart, were frequently made by the natives in their canoes. Evidence of much longer voyages in the remote past has already been furnished by the cultivated plants of New Zealand and Polynesia.
How did these ancient mariners navigate their vessels? This difficulty caused early writers on Polynesia to attribute the peopling of the region to accident, some arguing that, owing to the prevailing winds being from east to west, the inhabitants must have been derived from the New World, others, recognising their Asiatic affinity, endeavouring to prove that their dispersal took place during the westerly storms that
[Footnote] * “A Now Voyage round the World.” William Dampier.
[Footnote] † “Crozet's Voyage to Tasmania and New Zealand.” Trans., H. Ling Roth.
[Footnote] ‡ “Captain Cook's Second Voyage.”
occasionally sweep across the tropical zone of the Pacific.* But the following instructions for a voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti, handed down by a native historian of the Sandwich Group, shows how the ancient mariner found his way when not in sight of land: “If you sail for Kahiki you will discover new constellations and strange stars over the deep ocean. When you arrive at the piko-o-wakea (equator) you will lose sight of Hoku-paa (the North Star), and then Newe will be the southern guiding-star, and the constellation of Humu will stand as a guide above you.”†
From these instructions we gather that the ancient astronomers of Polynesia had discovered the two hemispheres into which our globe is naturally divisible. They had a name for the equator, and consequently some idea of latitude. Thus they surpass the Greeks at the time of Herodotus, for that observant writer, whom there is no reason to suppose was behind the learning of his time when commenting on the circumnavigation of Africa, remarks: “Libya shows itself to be surrounded by water, except so much of it as borders upon Asia. Neco, King of Egypt, was the first whom we know of that proved this. He, when he had ceased digging the canal leading from the Nile to the Arabian Gulf, sent certain Phœnicians in ships with orders to sail back through the Pillars of Hercules into the northern sea, and so to return to Egypt. The Phœnicians accordingly, setting out from the Red Sea, navigated the southern sea. When autumn came they went ashore and sowed the land, by whatever part of Libya they happened to be sailing, and waited for harvest. Then, having reaped the corn, they put to sea again. When two years had thus passed, in the third, having doubled the Pillars of Hercules, they arrived in Egypt, and related what to me does not seem credible, but may to others—that as they sailed round Libya they had the sun on their right hand. Thus was Libya first known.”‡
Evidently it is unnecessary to go outside Polynesia in order to discover people who were capable of maintaining an intercourse between the widely-scattered islands, or of going beyond the region to procure what it was incapable of producing.
In the population of the Pacific region defined in the first chapter of this inquiry two very distinct ingredients are
[Footnote] * “Origin and Migrations of the Polynesian Nation.” John Dunmore Lang.
[Footnote] † “Notes on the Geographical Knowledge of the Polynesians.” By S. Percy Smith, “Transactions of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science,” 1890.
[Footnote] ‡ “Herodotus.” Henry Cary.
recognisable—a dark-skinned negroid people and a light-complexioned people of the Malay type. Although these ingredients when Europeans came upon the scenes were more or less intermingled on the Australian Continent and in Tasmania, the negroid race was practically pure. In eastern Polynesia and New Zealand the light-complexioned inhabitants showed little of the negroid admixture, but in the remaining portion of the region, New Guinea, Melanesia, and Micronesia, the intermingling had produced an endless variety of colours and a babel of tongues.
Of the two races, the darker was undoubtedly the aboriginal, for, had New Guinea and the adjacent islands been peopled by the light-complexioned and more civilized people previous to the incoming of the dark-skinned inhabitants, it would have been impossible for them to effect the settlement. Though the people of eastern Polynesia were far in advance of the Australian natives, compared with any of the civilized nations bordering on the Pacific region at the commencement of the sixteenth century they were in a very backward state. Like their ruder neighbours, they were ignorant of the use of metals and of the potter's art, even in the simplest form; though they habitually clothed and subsisted by agriculture, their clothing materials and husbandry were of the most primitive types. In one important set of arts they excelled—as seamen and navigators they surpassed all other people of whom we have any information, excepting modern Europeans and those who ever acquired the knowledge. Were these light-complexioned people the architects of the ancient monuments, or was there yet another race in the Pacific region?
The distribution of the mysterious structures coincides exactly with the distribution of the most civilized section of the present population. In Micronesia, where both the dark- and light-complexioned people were represented, the darker people, holding an inferior position, cultivated the soil; the others, who were strictly prohibited from intermarrying with them, followed the sea—were the boatbuilders and fishermen.
The nearest counterparts of the Polynesian structures were discovered in Mexico and Peru, or in the portion of the world that represented the Age of Bronze. Turning to southern Asia, the most ancient home of civilization, it is only amongst the remains of the very remote past we find anything akin to these New-World and Polynesian monuments.
The ruined tombs and temples of Java, constructed during the first centuries of the Christian era, show how far architecture had advanced in the Asiatic islands in that remote period. The following description of the great temple of Boroboro, in
the Province of Redu, illustrates this advance: “This temple is built upon a small hill, and consists of a central dome and. seven ranges of terraced walls covering the slope of the hill, and forming sloping galleries, each below the other, and communicating by steps and gateways. The central dome is 50ft. in diameter; around it is a triple circle of seventy-two towers; and the whole building is 620ft. square, and about 100ft. high. In the terraced walls are niches, containing cross-legged figures larger than life, to the number of about four hundred, and both sides of all the terraced walls are covered with bas-reliefs crowded with figures and carved in hard stone, and which must therefore occupy an extent of nearly three miles in length. The amount of human labour and skill expended on the Great Pyramid of Egypt sinks into insignificance when compared with that required to complete this sculptured hill-temple in the interior of Java.”*
When in the Old World the builder's art had only reached the stage of development indicated by the Polynesian monuments, the use of iron was undiscovered, and stone implements had not been discarded. Bronze nowhere entirely superseded stone; in Peru and Mexico stone and bronze weapons and implements were employed at the time of the Spanish invasion. In the Peninsula of Sinai, where during many centuries the ancient Egyptians mined for copper and other minerals, quantities of arrow-heads and other stone implements have been recovered from the ruins of buildings connected with the mines. Inscriptions on these buildings show that, when these stone articles were in use, bronze ornaments and utensils were common in the cities of the Nile Valley.†
We can now readily perceive how a people dependent on foreign countries for a supply of metal might be forced to relapse from the use of bronze and stone implements into the exclusive use of stone, and how arts incapable of being carried on without metal tools would perish, while other arts survived.
What we particularly gather from the cultivated plants and domesticated animals of Polynesia is that in the history of the Pacific there was a period during which the region was in communication with the Malay Islands, and probably with the Asiatic mainland, and that this period was followed by a long interval of isolation, terminated only by the advent of Europeans.
From traces discovered outside the Pacific of the primitive Polynesian arts, there is reason to suspect that the more civilized inhabitants of the region, when they crossed the great ocean and colonised its countless islands, were on a par
[Footnote] * “Malay Archipelago.” Wallace.
[Footnote] † “Sinai.” Major Palmer.
with the most civilized nations of southern Asia. We have Already noticed the wide distribution of the tapa or felted bark-cloth; the outrigger canoe, so characteristic of the Pacific, is found as far west as the Comoro Group,* between Africa and Madagascar, where the cocoanut has been long cultivated, and bears the name it is known by in Polynesia.
Just as we discover amongst the Malay peoples traces of art ruder than those at present in vogue, in eastern Polynesia there is unmistakable evidence of a higher social state. Between the widely-scattered islands a regular intercourse must formerly have been maintained, for in no other way is it possible to account for the extraordinary uniformity of language, arts, customs, and institutions, a uniformity which made Cook, after visiting so many of the groups, and discovering the Hawaiian Archipelago, designate all a nation.
For the maintenance of this intercourse, bespeaking such an amount of labour and great maritime skill, there must have been a sufficient cause—commerce, a central government, a powerful national religion, or, perhaps, all three combined.
Between the Polynesian islands, so very similar in climate and productions, there was little to beget trade. Though everywhere curious laws were strictly enforced, and a powerful priesthood existed considering the region as a whole, there was no head-quarters of either Church or State. The only explanation, then, that appears reasonable is that the palmy days of Polynesian history were while the inhabitants had access to the outer world, the subsequent decay being due to isolation. The cause of this isolation or when it commenced cannot be ascertained, but we know from historic sources that Java was colonised from Hindostan during the first century of the Christian era, and that henceforth the Malay Archipelago shared the vicissitudes of the Asiatic mainland—Buddhism, the first-established religion, giving place to Brahminism, which, in its turn, was in most places supplanted by the Mahommedan faith. With these creeds the arts and productions of the continent found their way into the islands. Previous to this the colonisation of eastern Polynesia must have been effected, though possibly the complete isolation of the region did not commence until long after.
When Magellan discovered the Philippine Islands and entered the port of Zebu, in 1521, he found there a Siamese trader. Notwithstanding this proof of the inhabitants being in communication with the great civilized world, they were so far behind the Javanese in art, and had so much in common
[Footnote] * “The Races of Man.” Charles Pickering.
with the people in eastern Polynesia, it is probable that at a not very remote date they were included in the curiously-scattered island nation. The Philippine Islands being rich in metals and very varied in their production, between them and eastern Polynesia commerce would naturally arise. For a time the group may have been the centre of the ancient civilization, though at some former period that civilization must have been more widely extended.
Considering the great length of time the more civilized section of the population has been in the Pacific, it is extremely improbable that the region was previously inhabited by another great maritime people of whom there is no record, and who passed away leaving no trace of their existence save the mysterious monuments.
Their cultivated plants, their domestic animals, and their institutions all testified that the people whom Europeans discovered in eastern Polynesia had from the time of their incoming never been disturbed by an alien race, and that, excepting Micronesia, they must have found the islands uninhabited when they took possession. If the numerous stone structures scattered over the islands appeared foreign to the genius of the inhabitants, it does not warrant the conclusion that they could not have been the builders, for are there not in the histories of progressive nations abundant examples of the works on which a people expended their talent and energy being regarded by their descendants as evidences of folly and ignorance, and is it not reasonable to conclude that decay would also have an effect? When Roggewein cruelly discharged his muskets amongst the unfortunate inhabitants of Easter Island they ran for protection to the great statues, which they attributed to a man possessing supernatural power. This is precisely how we might suppose a people who had from the force of circumstances degenerated would regard the monuments of a more favoured age.
The presence of the Convolvulus batatas as a cultivated plant in Polynesia and in the New World can only be explained by some intercourse intentional or accidental, for there is no well-authenticated example of a species being brought into cultivation in more than one country. We have already seen that none of the New-World peoples were capable of crossing the Pacific; it remains now to inquire, Is there any evidence besides the kumara that the inhabitants of Polynesia made their way to the continent?
When America became known to Europeans the civilized nations were confined to a comparatively small area within the tropics, the remainder of the great continent, north and south, being tenanted by rude hunting tribes, unacquainted
with the use of metals, or by a people who practised agriculture, but were entirely ignorant of metals, or only used them as ornaments.
When the Spaniards overran their countries the Mexicans and Peruvians subsisted almost exclusively by agriculture, having few animals in domestication. They were skilful workers in gold and silver; unacquainted with iron, they manufactured implements of bronze, similar in its composition to the compound metal used in the Old World previous to the discovery of iron. Scattered over respective countries were populous towns and cities adorned with stately buildings, and connected by well-formed roads over which mails were regularly carried. They had ascertained with wonderful accuracy the length of the solar year, and had divided time accordingly. In many of their laws and institutions they compared favourably with the most advanced European and Asiatic peoples.
Long before any nation of the Euro-Asiatic or African Continents had progressed thus far in the march of civilization, the inhabitants generally had so far emerged from the savage state, only a very small proportion, residing in rigorous climates, were entirely dependent on the products of the chase. In the colder regions of the north the hunter had developed into the pastoral nomad; in the warmer zones agriculture was everywhere understood, plants adapted to the various countries having been brought into cultivation.
The absence of the pastoral industry and the complete ignorance of the use of milk for food amongst the inhabitants of the New World cannot be attributed to physical conditions, for it has been well proved that no parts of the world are better adapted for the raising of flocks and herds than the vast prairies of the North and the pampas and savannahs of South America. Nor were animals suitable for domestication wanting. Over the great prairies the bison roamed in countless numbers; on the mountain heights sheep and goats ran wild; and in the frozen region of the North the reindeer existed. The domestication of the alpaca by the Peruvians within the tropics showed that it was not to the want of opportunity the wide difference between the New-World and the Old-World peoples was due. Besides the absence of the pastoral industry, there were nowhere on the American Continent those evidences of the origin and development of art found in Asia and Europe. No cromlechs or dolmens showing architecture in its embryo state, no traces of how the civilized nations of Central America had been evolved. Isolated like a tree grown from a chance-dropped seed, these civilized communities existed, surrounded by peoples alien to them in spirit if not by blood. Amongst the ruder nations civilized arts were
spreading when Europeans came upon the scenes; already agriculture had made its way into the forest country of Brazil,* amongst the West Indian Islands, and across the continent as far northward as the Great Lakes.† In its northern extension it was only supplementary to hunting; nor had it been adapted to the exigencies of the climate, the plants of the warmer zone being alone in cultivation.
These differences between the New World and the Old World seem capable of only one explanation: The civilization of Central America was the result of colonisation by peoples farther advanced than the aboriginal race.
Returning to the Pacific, we have seen that the widely-scattered islands of eastern Polynesia and the New Zealand Archipelago had all been regularly colonised. It is impossible to believe that a people who made their way eastward from Malaya until they reached the Hawaiian Group in the north, and Easter Island in the south, would halt until they found the boundary of the great ocean, or that, having set foot on the continent, they would fail to do as they, had elsewhere done, establish a settlement. If the civilization of America thus commenced, it might be supposed that in the arts and institutions of Peru and Mexico there would have been more traces of its origin. When we consider how extremely adaptive the colonising people were, the number of indigenous plants they had brought into cultivation throughout Polynesia and New Zealand; how, in the Southern Archipelago, they had adapted their mode of cultivating the taro, and had modified their clothing to suit the climate; and that, availing themselves of the large timber the islands furnished, they had abandoned the outrigger canoe, thus fulfilling an ancient Tahitian prophecy; when we take all this into account we readily perceive that amidst the productions of the great continent, and surrounded by an alien race, their arts, customs, and institutions would in time be so altered as to be unrecognisable.
Of the six most important esculents cultivated in Polynesia, the breadfruit could not have been grown on the western American seaboard. The cocoanut was wild on the islands off Panama. Yams and calabashes were generally cultivated by all the agricultural nations within whose domain they would grow. The banana was probably growing in Peru, though its limited extension is difficult to account for. There remains, then, only the taro which might have been advantageously introduced.
Considering how the indigenous cultivated plants of the New World have, since their dispersal, affected the agriculture
[Footnote] * “Personal Narrative of Travels.” Humboldt.
[Footnote] † “The Mounds of the Mississippi Valley.” Lucien Carr.
of the Old World, it is reasonable to conclude that through a process of selection they may have in their own territories driven introduced species out of cultivation. What has particularly to be explained is why more of these plants did not find their way into Polynesia. If we are correct regarding the introduction of agriculture, they may not have been in cultivation when the kumara was transported. The wild progenitor of the kumara has not been discovered; its original habitat is consequently doubtful, but all the evidence forthcoming is decidedly in favour of Central America. By a people accustomed to the cultivation of roots, the plant, if discovered, would be readily taken advantage of. Until some means of dispelling the poisonous properties became known, the manioc would not have been brought into cultivation. To a people unacquainted with grain the maize would not soon commend itself, and it must have been after agriculture had reached the high, cool table-lands that the potato (Solanum tuberosum) came into use. We can thus see that of the four most important New-World esculents the kumara would naturally first attract agriculturists of the primitive Polynesian type.
Mention has already been made that the monuments of Polynesia resemble monuments found in Peru. In both cases these remains belong to a period long anterior to the European discovery. As the likeness might have been accidental, it cannot be considered positive evidence of intercourse between the two regions unless corroborative proofs can be added. These proofs are found in another branch of art. Between the distant Malay Islands and Peru an interchange of inventions must have at some time taken place. The heavy stonewood gravitana used by the natives of the Upper Maranon* and the ironwood sumpitan of the Bornean Dyaks† are similar in every respect, even to the small poisoned darts projected from the weapon. It is impossible that this curious implement of the chase, involving a knowledge of the elastic force of compressed air and the preparation of a deadly vegetable poison, could have been independently invented by rude savages dwelling more than one-third of the earth's circumference apart. The absence of the sumpitan or gravitana in the intervening countries may be considered an objection to their common origin. But the weapons, being only adapted for the sheltered recesses of the forest, would soon fall into disuse in open countries, where the light darts exposed to the wind would be of little account; in these open situations, and for the slaying of large game, the bow and poisoned arrow takes the place of the sumpitan. In the valleys of the Amazon and in Borneo
[Footnote] * “A Naturalist on the Amazon.” W. Bates.
[Footnote] † “The Head-hunters of Borneo.” Carl Back.
both weapons are in use, each in its proper place. Amongst rude peoples the use of any particular weapon depends on its being serviceable for procuring food rather than in warfare. The dexterity of the Australian blacks in the use of the spear and throwing-stick is due to its being a weapon of the chase as well as war; and it was “under the greenwood tree” the English archers who fought at Crecy and Agincourt acquired their skill. We can thus understand the disuse of the bow in Polynesia, where the inhabitants subsisted principally by fishing and agriculture.
It could have only been in the remote past, before the isolation of Polynesia, the sumpitan or gravitana crossed the Pacific. In addition to the curious weapon, the denizen of the Brazilian forest country used bark cloth in their scant clothing, and had many customs in common with the natives of the Malay Archipelago, New Guinea, and Polynesia, such as headhunting, the artificial extension of the ears, the erecting of large buildings to accommodate several families, &c.* As evidences of intermingling, none of these have the same weight as the distribution of the kumara, and of the curious complicated weapon which, in its modified form, the blowing-tube, made from the reeds of the Carices, is found as far east as Demerara.†
Although the evidence we possess points chiefly to Polynesia as the route by which Asiatic civilization entered America, it would be wrong to conclude it was the only route. As far north as China and Japan traces of the ancient civilization that spread itself across the tropical islands of the Pacific can be discovered; it is therefore probable that there were at the same period other maritime peoples besides those who colonised eastern Polynesia capable of crossing the great ocean.
Spaniards led the way across the Atlantic to the New World, but they were soon followed by more potent rivals in the work of colonisation. Now, after the lapse of four centuries, though we discover much difference in the results of this colonisation, everywhere American society is decidedly of the European type. Between the arts and institutions of Mexico and Peru at the time of the Spanish invasion there were some important differences coupled with the general resemblance. These differences and the various features in common were exactly what might have been looked for had the countries been colonised during the same era by the agricultural nations occupying the opposite side of the Pacific, from the Malay Archipelago to Japan.
[Footnote] * “Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro.” A. R. Wallace.
[Footnote] † “Wanderings in South America.” C. Waterton.