The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768–1771 [Volume One]
1. The wind right off the land of Ulhietea mak[in]g it dificult to get in tho we see a good inlet; after turning to windward till afternoon we however at last get hold of anchorage in the mouth of it.3 Many canoes came immediately about the ship bringing all sorts of trade so that before night we have purchas'd several piggs and fowls and a large quantity of Plantains and Cocoa nutts.
On attempting to warp the ship in this even the anchor was found to be fast in a rock; at least no attempts could stir it till night when the tide (which runs strong through the inlet) turnd, the ship then going over the anchor tripd it herself.
3 It was the harbour of Rautoanui.
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 whow4 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.
1 tetua, in general a girl or young woman, but more particularly a title given to the daughter of an arii family—‘a young noblewoman’. S has the note, ‘Tettua, or Gentle woman. A person who we (in England) should in speaking to say, Madam’.
2 ahu, a sort of cloak, a piece of tapa thrown over the shoulders and fastened round the waist.
3 taamu. The knowledge of how this plaiting was done has perished.
4 It is possible Banks mistook the meaning of this word—? faeo, a children's game.
3. This day went along shore in the opposite direction to that we took yesterday, intending to spend most of our time in purchasing stock, which we have always found the people readyer to part with at their houses and selling cheaper than at the market. In the course of our walk we met a set of stroling dancers Calld by the Indians Heiva1 who detaind us 2 hours and during all that time entertaind us highly indeed. They consisted of 3 drums, 2 women dancers and 6 men; these Tupia tells us go round the Island as we have seen the little Heivas do at Otahite, but differ from those in that most of the people here are principal people, of which assertion we had in the case of one of the women an undoubted proof.
I shall first describe their dresses and then their dances. The women had on their heads a quantity of tamou or plaited hair which was rolled and between the interstices of it flowers of Gardenia2 were stuck making a head dress truly Elegant. Their shoulders arms and breasts as low as their arms3 were bare, below this they were coverd with black cloth and under each shoulder was placd a bunch of black feathers much as our ladies nosegays or Bouquets. On their hips rested a quantity of cloth pleated very full which reachd almost up to their arms and fell down below into long peticoats reaching below their feet, which they managd with as much dexterity as our opera dancers could have done; these pleats were brown and white alternately but the peticoats were all white.
1 A group of arioi; their performance was the heiva.
2 Gardenia taitensis DC., of which a beautiful coloured drawing by Parkinson, labelled ‘Gardenia florida’, and a specimen in the Pocket Book survive. See pl. 30.
3 The expression ‘as low as their arms’ is rather baffling: the breasts were covered, the arms were bare. One gets a rough idea of the dress Banks describes from the central dancing figure in Hawkesworth's pl IX, which is apparently founded on a crude drawing in Add. MS 15508, f.9. (There are much better representations in Webber's drawings for Cook's Third Voyage, pls. XXVIII, XXIX.) The elegantly formed young female bare to the waist in Hawkesworth appears to be an innovation by Cipriani. See pl. 12.
One of these girls had in her ear 3 pearls, one of them very large but so foul that it was worth scarce any thing, the other two were as large as a midling pea and of a good and clear water as well as shape. For these I offerd at different times any price the owner would have but she would not hear of parting with them; I offerd once the price of 4 hogs down and any thing she would ask beside, but she would not hear of it. Indeed they have always set a value upon their pearls, if tolerably good, almost equal to our valuation supposing them as they always are spoild by the drilling.1
Between the dances of the women (for they sometimes rested) the men acted a kind of interlude in which they spoke as well as dancd. We were not however sufficiently vers'd in their language to be able to give an account of the Drama.
4. We had often heard Tubia speak of Lands belonging to him which had been taken away by the Bola Bola men: these he tells us now are situate in the very bay where the ship lies. On going ashore this morning the inhabitants confirmd What he has told us and shewd us several different whennuas which they all acknowledged belong of right to him. The largest number of the people here are it seems the so much feard Bola Bola men, and we are told that tomorrow Opoony2 the King of that Island will come to visit us. We are much inclind to receive him civily as we have met with so civil a reception from his subjects.
Dr Solander and myself go upon the hills accompanied by several Indians, who carried us by excellent paths so high that we plainly saw the other side of the Island and the passage through which the ship went out of the reef between the Islets of Opoorooroo and Tamou. Our walk did not turn out very profitable as we found only two plants that we had not seen before.
1 In his Tahitian vocabulary, p. 373 below, Banks gives the phrase ‘Poe Matawewwe’ as the name for a pearl. This seems to be the fruit of enquiry upon the present occasion, and to be his recording of mata viivii: mata, the face or eye, and viivii, corrupt, impure—probably referring to the large but ‘foul’ pearl.
3 The game is elsewhere noted as patia fa (patia, spear; fa, the target); or, in Ellis, Polynesian Researches. I, p. 294, as vero patia, ‘throw a spear’. It may be suggested that Banks's ‘erowhaw’ is a combination of vero with fa—i.e. to throw a spear at a target.
5. Went in the boat to the Southward with the Captn &c. Saw two inlets in the reef and good harbours within them; they were both situate close to Islets, one having one on each side of it1 (indeed in general I have seen Breaches in Reefs almost wherever there are Islands upon them). The people all along shore were very poor, so much so that after all our days work we did not procure either hog or fowl nor indeed did we see either.
6. Yesterday Opoony the King of Bola Bola sent his Compts and a present of hogs and Fowls to the King of the ship, sending word also that he would in person wait upon him today. We therefore all hands staid at home in hopes of the honour of his excellencys visit. We were disapointed in our expectations not disagreably for instead of his majesty came 3 hansome lively girls who staid with us the morning and took off all regret for the want of his majesties company.
In the evening we all went to see the great king and thank him for his civilities particularly of this morning. The King of the Tata toas2 or Club men who have conquerd this and are the terror of all other Islands we expected to see young lively hansome &c &c. but how were we disapointed when we were led to an old decrepid half blind man who seemd to have scarce reason enough left to send hogs, much less galantry enough to send ladies.
1 The ‘inlets’ were (1) the Tiano pass, flanked by the two islets Horea and Tiano, and leading into Tetoroa bay; and (2) the Toamaro pass, with the islet Toamaro on its northern edge, leading into Vaiaeho bay. The latter bay or harbour is called Maarahai on the chart in Hawkesworth.
2 taata toa, warriors.
4 i.e. iron. No doubt the nails used reminded Banks of the iron ‘spits’ of the Spartans.
Myself staid at home this morning and traded for some provisions and curiosities; in the afternoon took Mr Parkinson to the Heiva that he might scetch the dresses. The dancing was exactly the same as I had seen it before except that another woman was added to the two I saw before. The interludes of the men were varied, they gave us 5 or 6 which resembled much the Drama of an English stage dance. Most of my Freinds were constan[t]ly at the Heiva. Their names I set down and relationships as they are cheifly one family (1) Tiarree no Horoa1 a King or cheif; (2) Whannooutooa2 wife to 1; (3) Otoobooi3 sister to 2; (4) Orai4 Elder brother to 2; (5) Tettuanue5 younger brother to 2; (6) Otehammena6 dancing girl; (7) Ouratooa7 Do; (8) Mattehea8 father to 1; (9) Opipi9 mother to 1.
8. Dr Solander and self went along shore to gather plants, buy hogs or any thing else that might occurr. We took our course towards the Heiva and at last came up to it; it has gradualy moved from very near us till now it is 2 Leagues off, Tupia tells us that it will in this manner move gradualy round the Island. Our Freinds receivd us as usual with all manner of civility, dancing and giving us after the amusement a very good dinner as well as offering us a quantity of their Cloth by way of present, which we should have accepted had we not been full stockd with it before. We now understood a little more of the interludes than we had formerly done. I shall describe one as well as I can. The men dancers were divided into two parties differing in the colour of their clothes, one brown the other white. The cheif of the brown ones gave a basket of meat to the rest his servants that they might take care of it; the white represented theives who atempted to steal it several times, dancing all the time. Several different expedients they make use of without success till at last they found the watchmen asleep; they then gently went up to them and lifting them off from the basket, which for security sake they had placd in the middle of them, they went off with their prize. The others woke and danced but seem'd to shew little regret for their loss or indeed hardly to miss the basket at all.
1 Te arii (the chief) Nohoroa?
2 ?Fanau-tua (born at sea).
4 This may be right; or Rai?
6 ?Te Hamena.
7 ?Ouratua or Uratua; the same name as that borne by the young woman of 12 May.
8 ?Matihia or Matehea.
10. Myself sick all day.
11. Tupia talks of an Island which he calls Mannúa1 he says that we shall see it tomorrow morning but points out its place upon our weather bow so we shall probably go to leward of it.
12. Get rid of sea sickness today. Tupias Island not in sight, he tells us that it is ėtópa2 (we are past it) for the same word is usd by them for the setting of the sun and the leaving behind of an Island. He says however that tomorrow or next day we shall see another which he calls Ohėtėróa.
13. At noon today high land in sight which proved to be Tupias Island of Ohėtėróa.3 At night we were close in with it. He sayd that there were many other Islands from south to south west of us most of their names beginning with Ohete,4 none however were in sight.
Many Albecores have been about the ship all the evening, Tupia took one and had not his rod broke would probably have taken many.5 He usd an Indian fish hook made of mother of pearl so that it servd at the same time both for hook and bait.
1 The existence of this island is dubious and perhaps mythical; according to Cook, Tupaia placed it three days’ sail NE of ‘Oheteroa’ or Rurutu. It has been discussed a number of times: e.g. George Forster, Voyage, II, p. 151; J. R. Forster, Observations, pp. 327, 515; Corney, Quest and Occupation of Tahiti, II, pp. xxii, 190 n. If this was the mythical Mannua, it was inhabited by ferocious and man-eating demons.
2 e topa; a better translation would be, ‘it has fallen behind’.
3 Hiti-roa, now Rurutu.
4 hiti, edge, border, borderland, with the implication of distance.
5 Apparently Neothunnus macropterus (Schlegel). See the dated drawing by Parkinson, II, pl. 100, and Solander's notes, pp. 265–6.
1 This seems from what Cook says, and from the description given by Banks later, to have been Avera bay, about the middle of the west coast, though Cook notes having made the circuit of the island.
As we rowd gently along shore our defying champion was joind by another likewise armd with a lance and dressd with a large cap of the tail feathers of tropick birds and his body coverd, as indeed many of them were, with stripes of different coulourd cloths, yellow red and brown; he (who we now calld Harlequin) danc'd as the other had done only with much more nimbleness and dexterity. These two were soon after Joind by an older looking man likewise armd who came gravely down to the beach and hailing us askd from whence we came, Tupia answerd him from Otahite. The three then went peaceably along shore till the boat came to a shoal upon which a few people were collected; they talkd together and soon after began to póorah1 or pray very loud to which Tupia made his responses but continued to tell us that they were not our freinds. We after this enterd into a parley with them, telling them that if they would lay by their arms which were lances and clubbs we would come ashore and truck with them for whatever they would bring; they agreed but upon condition that we should lay down our musquets, an article which we did not think fit to comply with, so our negotiation dropt for the present at least. After a little time however they took courage and came nearer to the boat, near enough to begin to trade which they did very fairly for a smal quantity of cloth and some of their weapons, but as they gave us no hopes of provisions or indeed any thing else unless we would venture through a narrow channel to the shore we put off the boat and left them.
The Island to all apearance that we saw was more barren than any thing we have seen in these seas, the cheif produce seeming to be Etóa (the wood of which make their weapons); indeed every where along shore where we saw plantations they were coverd by trees of this kind planted between them and the sea. It is without a reef1 and the ground in the bay we were in so foul and corally that tho a ship might come almost close to the shore she could not possibly anchor. The water was clearer than I ever saw it, I saw distinctly the ground at 25 fathoms depth.
The people seemd strong lusty and well made but were rather browner than those we have left behind; they were not tattowd on their backsides, but instead of that had black marks about as broad as my hand under their armpits the sides of which were deeply indented, they had also circles of smaller ones round their arms and legs. Their dress was indeed most singular as well as the cloth with which they were dressd which I shall first describe. It was made of the same materials as the inhabitants of the other Islands make use of and generaly died of a very bright and deep yellow. Upon this was on some sorts spread a composition which coverd it like oil colour or varnish, it was either red or of a dark lead colour; upon this again was painted stripes in many different patterns with infinite regularity much in the same way as some lute string silks in England are wove, all the streight lines upon them drawn with such accuracy that we were almost in doubt whether or not they were stampd on with some kind of press.
1 i.e. there is no barrier reef, of the sort Banks was familiar with in the islands he had come from; but the coast has a coral fringe all round.
Their arms consisted of long lances made of the etoa or hard wood well polishd and sharpnd at one end; of these there were some near 20 feet long and scarce so thick as three fingers; they had also clubs or pikes of the same wood about 7 feet long, well polishd and sharpned at one end into a broad point. How expert they may be in the use of these weapons we cannot tell but the weapons themselves seem more intended for shew than use, as the lance was not pointed with the stings of Sting rays, and the clubs or pikes which must do more execution by their weight than their sharpness were not more than half so heavy as the smallest I have seen in the other Islands. Defensive weapons I saw none, they however guarded themselves against such weapons as their own by matts folded and laid upon their breasts and bellys under their other cloths.
Of the few things we saw among these people every one was ornamented infinitely superior to any thing we had before seen: their cloth was better coulourd as well as nicely painted, their clubs were better cut out and polishd, the Canoe which we saw tho a very small and very narrow one was nevertheless carvd and ornamented very highly. One thing particularly in her seemd to be calculated rather for the ornaments of a thing that was never intended to go into the water than a boat, which was two lines of small white feathers that were placd on the outside of the canoe which were when we saw them totaly wet with the water.
After leaving these unhospitable people we Stood to the Southward as usual and had in the evening a great dew which wetted every thing.