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Parkinson's JournalVoyaging Accounts
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On this day ...
17 - 20 January 1769

Endeavour Voyage Maps
James Cook
Joseph Banks

Terra del Fuego



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The description of the country and natives of Terra del Fuego

We had not been long arrived before some Indians appeared on the beach at the head of the bay; the captain, Mr. Banks, and Dr. Solander, went on shore, and soon after returned on board with three of them, whom we cloathed in jackets, gave them some bread and beef, part of which they ate, and carried the remainder with them ashore: We gave them also some rum and brandy; but, after tasting it, they refused to drink any more, intimating, by signs, that it burnt their throats. This circumstance may serve to corroborate the opinion of those, who think that water is the most natural, and best drink for mankind, as well as for other animals.

One of the Indians made several long orations to the rest; but they were utterly unintelligible to every one of us. Another of them seeing the leathern cover of a globe lie in the cabin, found means to steal it, and secrete it under his garment, which was made of a skin of some animal, and carried it ashore, undiscovered, where he had no sooner arrived, than he shewed his prize to the very person it belonged to, and seemed to exult upon the occasion, placing it upon his head, and was highly delighted with it.

The natives make a very uncouth and savage appearance, [see pl. I.] having broad flat faces, small black eyes, low foreheads, and noses much like those of negroes, with wide nostrils, high cheeks, large mouths, and small teeth. Their hair, which is black and streight, hangs over their foreheads and ears, which most of them had smeared with brown and red paint; but, like the rest of the original inhabitants of America, they have no beard. None of them seemed above five feet ten inches high; but their bodies are thick and robust, though their limbs are small. They wear a bunch of yarn made of guanicas* wool upon their heads, which, as well as their hair, hangs down over their foreheads. They also wear the skins of guanicas and of seals, wrapped round their shoulders, sometimes leaving the right arm uncovered. Both men and women wear necklaces, [see pl. XXVI. fig. 14] and other ornaments made of a small pearly perriwincle, very ingeniously plaited in rows with a kind of grass. We saw also an ornament made of shells, which was ten yards long. The shells that composed it were of several sizes; the largest, about the size of a damascene stone, were placed at one end, from whence they gradually lessened to the other end of the string, where the shells were not bigger than a pepper corn. The larger ornaments are worn about their waists. Many of both sexes were painted with white, red, and brown, colours, in different parts of their bodies; and had also various dotted lines pricked on their faces. The women wear a flap of skin tied round their loins; and have also a small string round each ancle: they carry their children on their backs, and are generally employed in domestic drudgery.

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© Derived from the London 1773 edition printed for Stanfield Parkinson, pages 7 - 8, 2004
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