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'PEABLS AND SAVAGES.'
An Australian's Remarkable Story.
Capt. Frank Hurley, a young Australian, has bad crowded into his 32 years of exis tence more than falls to the lot of but a few men in present circumstances of exis tence more than falls to the lot of many men. He was official photographer on two expeditions to the south pole (one
with Sir Douglas Mawson, and the other ?with Sir Ernest Shackle ton), with the A.I.F. in France and Palestine, and witt Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith on their memorable flight from Charleville to Ade laide as a completion of their famous trip from England. Since then he haB been on a cinema jaunt to the Torres Straits islands and Papua. It is in connection with the lastnamed venture that he ar rived in Adelaide from New South Wales on Sunday. The picture is entitled, 'Tearls and Savages,' and it wili be shown at West's Olympia. and be explained each afternoon and evening throughout this week. The recent season in Sydney covered five weeks in one theatre, before overflowing audiences. —A Land of Babel.— Capt. Hurley, in the course of a chat, said that he had spent nine months in visiting Torres Straits island and P&pua. Tbe scientific results and diaries of the trip would be handed over to the Mitchell library in Sydney. At the outset he had visited- the Great Barrier Reef. Re garding the natives of the islands, his photographs dealt with their customs and practices and their life and industries generally. It was quite a different thing to successfully take photographs in the tropics as compared with such work in the polar regions. The temperature down south could be easily raised to suit re quirements in the development of the plates or films, but it was not so easy to reduce the temperature in the hot climate
Parasites, such as mosquitoes and creeping insects, -were very bad in Papua, and in the islands generally. He had engaged a email pearling lugger, and the journey on its would have been enjoyable enough had it not been for swarms of cock roadbes, which emerged at night, and at tacked the sleepere or would-be sleepers, especially on the tender parts around the fingers and toenails and lips. The na tives seemed to be more or less immune from attack by the various peste, but the newcomers had a bad deal. He spent some time at the pearling places, and with pearlers at Thursday Island, and had taken a number of most interesting cinema films there. In Papua be had travelled over tbe length of coastrine, and had made some tours into the interior. It was a land of Babel. There were many types among the natives, and there were hun dreds of different dialects. The most re markable people whom he had encountered were those in western Papua. It was like stepping back into the stone age to wan der among them. They built their bouses in the deltas of the great rivers, and the structures were perched as though on stilts. The inhabitants moved about from place to place by means of canoes. In the villages there were immense struc tures called rouis. Some were 70 ft, high and more than 500 ft. long. They were large enough to house a dirigible, and were certainly among the most remarkable buildings that were to be found anywhere in the world. Those peopCe were 'the most primitive of any in Papua, but, simi larly, they were highly developed in art. One had only to look at the construction of their canoes and at their drawings and paintings to be convinced in that respect. With the Magistrate and an armed guard of native police he had en tered one of the great rouis. An extraordinary feature was that only the married men resided in those buildings. The women and children took np their abode in the village huts. It was like entering a long railway tunnel whicjj. was odoriferous. —Skulls and Casts. — 'Lighting a candle,' he said, 'we peered into the dam corners and into the dens, where we saw some of the inmates either sleeping or crouching beside email fires. The walls were decorated with fantastic ceremonial garb and with racks of human skulls. The latter were the cruel relics of terrible cannibal feasts. Beneath and also surrounding those racks— in fact, all over the walls— were Btrange shields intri cately designed, with casts of human fea tures. Those were the Vjope/ wherein the ancestral spirits of their dead~wcre sup T-; 1 to dwell. So soon as one of the members died, one of those 'gopes* would be carved from a plank of bis canoe, and be hung m the building for the reception of his spirit. Through my interpreter, I' learned that so lone as the 'gone' kept watch by the skulls the eouls of the victims were enslaved to the ancestral spirits. As we continued down this great hallway, over 400 ft. from the entrance, 'we saw another partition and a small trapdoor leading into another dark den beyond. It was only our armed ?uard that enabled us to over awe the savages to permit us to enter ther-. Inside we discovered three strange life-eized models of sacred alligators. These are only removed or pernSitted to be seen after battles or after victims have been captured. The victims would be placed inside the models overnight as an offering to the spirits of the alligators, and in the morning the bodies would be cut up and eaten. The custom is practised very little now on account of the rigid laws of the Go vernment. Although these people are wild and head hunters, I love them, and I in tend, .about next June or July, to return to that part and form another expedition to investigate their fantastic habits, and also to explore the inner regions which lie north of the Gulf of Papua. The picture, 'Pearls and Savages,' and the success it baa achieved, will enable me to finance this expedition. Throujhout my wanderings I have devoted the proceeds from one ex pedition to ?ay for the next, or at least to help to meet the cost of it. This picture is a cinema record of the salient features of the industries and life of the people among whom it was taken. The final pre naration of it has occupied three months. The narrative is so told that it synchronises with the screening of the various incidents. I could not have accomplished the great undertaking with such a grand result if I had not had the assistance of the Govern ment and the missionaries. I took a phono graph «rith me, but, while I heard hun dreds of so-called melodies, I selected only about a dozen aa being anything approach it- - to our ideas of music- and these have been arranged for orchestral presentation and will be heard, with native drums, in connection with the presentation of the picture. The Papuans are among the last of the savage races of the world whose customs and habit* have not been recorded In this film, at least; something of an edu cational character regarding them is pre sented, and ita value can ot emphasized from the fact that within a very few years civilisation will have embraced them. One of my first experiences there was that I W*2 Meed menacingly by a native holding aloft a business-looking spear. I thought xfc J',a splendid incident, so I immedi ately photogranhed the fellow. The spear cnatom. I learned afterwards, is a test of bravery against the visitor.'