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Endeavour journal, 2 August 1769 (Series 03.341)

Notes: Page header reads: 'Ulhietea'
Author: Banks, Joseph, Sir, 1743-1820
Date: 2 August 1769
Series title: Series 03: The Endeavour journal of Joseph Banks, 25 August 1768 - 12 July 1771
Frame numbers:
Transcript: 2. Dr Solander and myself have spent this day ashore and been very agreably entertaind by the reception we have met with from the people, tho we were not fortunate enough to meet with one new plant. Everybody seemd to fear and respect us but nobody to mistrust us in the smallest degree, men women and children came crouding after us but no one shewd us the least incivility, on the contrary wherever there was dirt or water to pass over they strove who should carry us on their backs. When we came to the houses of the principal people we were receivd with a form quite new to us. The people who generaly followd us rushd into them before us leaving however a lane sufficiently wide for us to pass; when we came in we found them rangd on each side a long mat spread upon the ground, at the farther end of which sat one or more very young women or children neatly dressd, who without stirring expected us to come up to them and make them presents, which we did with no small pleasure for prettier children or better dressd we had no where seen. One of these Tettuas as they were calld was about 6 years old, her ahou or gown was red and round her head was wound a large quantity of Tamou (plaited hair) an ornament they value more than any thing they have. She sat at the farther end of a mat 30 feet long on which no one of the spectators presumd to set a foot notwistanding the crowd, leaning upon the arm of a well looking well dressd woman about 30, possibly her nurse. We walkd up to her, as soon as we aproachd she stretchd out her hand to receive the beads we were to give, but had she been a princess royal of England giving her hand to be kissd no instruction could have taught her to have done it with a better grace. So much is untaught nature superior to art that I have seen no sight of the kind that has struck me half so much.

Gratefull possibly for the presents we had made to these girls the people in our return tryd every method to Oblige us; particularly in one house the master orderd one of his people to dance for our amusement which he did thus:

He put upon his head a large cylindrical basket about 4 feet long and 8 inches in diameter, on the front of which was fastned a facing of feathers bending forwards at the top and edged round with sharks teeth and the tail feathers of tropick birds: with this on he dancd moving slowly and often turning his head round, sometimes swiftly throwing the end of his headdress or whow so near the faces of the spectators as to make them start back, which was a joke that seldom faild of making every body laugh especialy if it happned to one of us.

We had also an opportunity of seeing the inside of the Ewharre no eatua so often mentiond. There were 3 of them much ornamented with jaw bones and very full of bundles lapd up with their cloth; these the people opned with some perswasion and in them we found complete skulls with their lower jaw bones in their proper places. Perhaps these were the skulls of those of the victorious party who died in battle and the jaw bones fastnd on the outside were those of the conquerd, but for this conjecture I had no authority from the Indians who seemd to avoid as much as possible any questions upon the subject.