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Maori and Polynesian: their origin, history and culture

It is Primitive in Fire-making

It is Primitive in Fire-making

(6) But there is an art in which they stand lower than even these two races. It is that of fire-making. Tyler, in his "Early History of Mankind," shows that one of the most primitive methods of producing fire is the stick and groove, and that the fire-drill is a step in advance. It is the method of rubbing the blunted point of a hard stick in a groove of a horizontal piece of soft wood till the dust of the latter catches fire. It is common to all the islands of Polynesia, and it is not reported outside of the region, except according to Mason, in his "Origins of Invention," the only authority for the statement, sporadically in America and Australia, and in New Britain, on the coast of New Guinea. The Australians get fire by twirling an upright stick between the hands in a hole in a horizontal piece of wood, the most elementary form of the fire-drill, used also all through pre-Aryan India, in Micronesia, and in Indonesia, although in Sumatra and Borneo some natives strike fire with two pieces of bamboo, whilst others saw one piece across the other in order to get fire; and the Fuegians use a still higher method, that by striking sparks with a flint from a piece of page 152iron pyrites. The use of the most primitive of all methods, the stick and groove, all over the islands, in spite of the employment of a drill for boring holes, and that in the midst of races that use more advanced methods, seems to indicate, as the great basis of the Polynesian population, an extremely ancient race, that by having their women taken into the households of every new conquering immigration dictated to the new-comers their household arts.