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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vol. IVoyaging Accounts
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Inhabitants of Otaheite


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Inhabitants of Otaheite (continued)

which a root has been scraped that smells something like roses. The women are all handsome, and some of them extremely beautiful. Chastity does not seem to be considered as a virtue among them, for they not only readily and openly trafficked with our people for personal favours, but were brought down by their fathers and brothers for that purpose: they were, however, conscious of the value of beauty, and the size of the nail that was demanded for the enjoyment of the lady, was always in proportion to her charms. The men who came down to the side of the river, at the same time that they presented the girl, shewed a stick of the size of the nail that was to be her price, and if our people agreed, she was sent over to them, for the men were not permitted to cross the river. This commerce was carried on a considerable time before the officers discovered it, for while some straggled a little way to receive the lady, the others kept a look-out. When I was acquainted with it, I no longer wondered that the ship was in danger of being pulled to pieces for the nails and iron that held her together, which I had before puzzled myself to account for in vain, the whole ship’s company having daily as much fresh provision and fruit as they could eat. Both men and women are not only decently but gracefully clothed, in a kind of white cloth, that is made of the bark of a shrub, and very much resembles coarse China paper. Their dress consists of two pieces of this cloth: one of them, a hole having been made in the middle to put the head through, hangs down from the shoulders to the mid-leg before and behind; another piece, which is between four and five yards long, and about one yard broad, they wrap round the body in a very easy manner. This cloth is not woven, but is made, like paper, of the macerated fibres of an inner bark, spread out and beaten together. Their ornaments are feathers, flowers,


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© Derived from Volume I of the London 1773 Edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, page 481, 2004
Published by South Seas, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher
To cite this page use: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ss-jrnl-hv01-481