Wanderings among South Sea Savages and in Borneo and the Philippines

Produced by Jeroen Hellingman

Belles of Papua

Belles of Papua

Wanderings Among South Sea Savages

And in Borneo and the Philippines

London Witherby & Co. 1909

My brother Charles
This record of my wanderings
in which he took so deep an interest,
is affectionately dedicated.


In a book of this kind it is often the custom to begin by making apologies. In my case I feel it to be a sheer necessity. In the first place what is here printed is for the greater part copied word for word from private letters that I wrote in very simple language in Dayak or Negrito huts, or in the lonely depths of tropical forests, in the far-off islands of the Southern Seas. I purposely made my letters home as concise as possible, so that they could be easily read, and in consequence have left out much that might have been interesting. It is almost unnecessary to mention that when I wrote these letters I had no thought whatever of writing a book. If I had thought of doing so, I might have mentioned more about the customs, ornaments and weapons of the natives and have written about several other subjects in greater detail. As it is, a cursory glance will show that this book has not the slightest pretence of being “scientific.” Far from its being so, I have simply related a few of the more interesting incidents, such as would give a general impression of my life among savages, during my wanderings in many parts of the world, extending over nearly a score of years. I should like to have written more about my wanderings in North Borneo, as well as in Samoa and Celebes and various other countries, but the size of the book precludes this. My excuse for publishing this book is that certain of my relatives have begged me to do so. Though I was for the greater part of the time adding to my own collections of birds and butterflies, I have refrained as much as possible from writing on these subjects for fear that they might prove tedious to the general reader. I have also touched but lightly on the general customs of the people, as this book is not for the naturalist or ethnologist, nor have I made any special study of the languages concerned, but have simply jotted down the native words here used exactly as I heard them. As regards the photographs, some of them were taken by myself while others were given me by friends whom I cannot now trace. In a few cases I have no note from whom they were got, though I feel sure they were not from anyone who would object to their publication. In particular, I may mention Messrs. G. R. Lambert, Singapore; John Waters, Suva, Fiji; Kerry & Co., Sydney; and G. O. Manning, New Guinea. To these and all others who have helped me I now tender my heartiest thanks. I have met with so much help and kindness during my wanderings from Government officials and others that if I were here to mention all, the list would be a large one. I shall therefore have to be content with only mentioning the principal names of those in the countries I have here written about.

In Fiji:—Messrs. Sutherland, John Waters, and McOwan.

In New Guinea:—Sir Francis Winter, Mr. C. A. W. Monckton, R.M., The Hon. A. Musgrave, Capt. Barton, Mr. Guy O. Manning, and Dr. Vaughan.

In the Philippines:—Governor Taft, afterwards President of the United States, and Mr. G. d’E. Browne.

In British North Borneo:—Messrs. H. Walker, Richardson, Paul Brietag, F. Durége, J. H. Molyneux, and Dr. Davies.

In Sarawak:—H.H. The Rajah, Sir Charles Brooke, Sir Percy Cunninghame, Dr. Hose, Archdeacon Sharpe, Mr. R. Shelford, and the officials of The Borneo Company, Ltd.

To all of these and many others in other countries I take this opportunity of publicly tendering my cordial thanks for their unfailing kindness and hospitality to a wanderer in strange lands.

H. Wilfrid Walker.

List of Illustrations

  1. Frontispiece—Belles of Papua.
  2. A Chief’s Daughter and a Daughter of the People
  3. A “Meke-Meke,” or Fijian Girls’ Dance
  4. Interior of a large Fijian Hut
  5. A Fijian Mountaineer’s House
  6. At the Door of a Fijian House
  7. A Fijian Girl
  8. Spearing Fish in Fiji
  9. A Fijian Fisher Girl
  10. A Posed Picture of an old-time Cannibal Feast in Fiji
  11. Making Fire by Wood Friction
  12. An Old ex-Cannibal
  13. A Fijian War-Dance
  14. Adi Cakobau (pronounced “Andi Thakombau”), the highest Princess in Fiji, at her house at Navuso
  15. A Filipino Dwelling
  16. A Village Street in the Philippines
  17. A River Scene in the Philippines
  18. A Negrito Family
  19. Negrito Girls (showing Shaved Head at back)
  20. A Negrito Shooting
  21. Tree Climbing by Negritos
  22. A Negrito Dance
  23. Arigita and his Wife
  24. Three Cape Nelson Kaili-Kailis in War Attire
  25. Kaili-Kaili House on the edge of a Precipice
  26. “A Great Joke”
  27. A Ghastly Relic
  28. Cannibal Trophies
  29. A Woman and her Baby
  30. A Papuan Girl
  31. The Author with Kaili-Kaili Followers
  32. Wives of Native Armed Police
  33. A Papuan Damsel
  34. Busimaiwa, the great Mambare Chief, with his Wife and Son (in the Police)
  35. A Haunt of the Bird of Paradise
  36. The Author starting on an Expedition
  37. A New Guinea River Scene
  38. Papuan Tree-Houses
  39. A Village of the Agai Ambu
  40. H. W. Walker, L. Dyke-Acland, and C. A. W. Monckton
  41. View of Kuching from the Rajah’s Garden
  42. Dayaks and Canoes
  43. Dayak in War-Coat
  44. Dayak Women and Children on the Platform outside a long House
  45. Dayaks Catching Fish
  46. A Dayak Woman with Mourning Ornaments round waist
  47. On a Tobacco Estate
  48. On a Bornean River