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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vols. II - IIIVoyaging Accounts
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On this day ...
10 - 14 June 1769

Endeavour Voyage Maps
James Cook
Joseph Banks

Ceremonies of a Funeral and General Observations on that Subject


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Ceremonies of a Funeral and General Observations on that Subject (continued)

On the 10th, the ceremony was to be performed, in honour of the old woman whose sepulchral tabernacle has just been described, by the chief mourner; and Mr. Banks had so great a curiosity to see all the mysteries of the solemnity, that he determined to take a part in it, being told, that he could be present upon no other condition. In the evening, therefore, he repaired to the place where the body lay, and was received by the daughter of the deceased, and several other persons, among whom was a boy about fourteen years old, who were to assist in the ceremony. Tubourai Tamaide was to be the principal mourner; and his dress, which was extremely fantastical, though not unbecoming, is represented by a figure in one of the plates. Mr. Banks was stripped of his European clothes, and a small piece of cloth being tied round his middle, his body was smeared with charcoal and water, as low as the shoulders, till it was as black as that of a negroe: the same operation was performed upon several others, among whom were some women, who were reduced to a state as near to nakedness as himself; the boy was blacked all over, and then the procession set forward. Tubourai Tamaide uttered something, which was supposed to be a prayer, near the body; and did the same when he came up to his own house: when this was done, the procession was continued towards the fort, permission having been obtained to approach it upon this occasion. It is the custom of the Indians to fly from these processions with the utmost precipitation, so that as soon as those who were about the fort, saw it at a distance, they hid themselves in the woods. It proceeded from the fort along the shore, and put to flight another body of Indians, consisting of more than an hundred, every one hiding himself under the first shelter that he could find: it then crossed the river, and entered the woods, passing several houses, all which were deserted, and not a single Indian could be seen during the rest of the procession, which continued more than half an hour. The office that Mr. Banks performed, was called that of the Nineveh, of which there were two besides himself; and the natives having all disappeared, they came to the chief mourner, and said imatata, there are no people, after which the company was dismissed to wash themselves in the river, and put on their customary apparel.

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© Derived from Vols. II-III of the London 1773 edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, pages 147 - 148, 2004
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