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The Atoll of Funafuti, Ellice group : its zoology, botany, ethnology and general structure based on collections made by Charles Hedley of the Australian Museum, Sydney, N.S.W.



For bleeding, and for lancing boils, etc., the native surgeons make use of shark's teeth set in wooden handles. I procured on Nukulailai two old, worn and stained specimens, measuring seven and a half and six inches, and weighing 3·55 and 3·54 grammes page 300respectively. A piece of wood, somewhat the size and shape of an ordinary penholder, is split at its extremity for an. inch, into which a small shark's tooth is inserted and bound in the cleft, by cotton in one case and by native fibre in another.

Fig. 72

Fig. 72

Fig. 73

Fig. 73

On Funafuti I failed to purchase original specimens, though such were in existence at the time of our visit. Models were, however, made for me, larger and rougher than the Nukulailai specimens. The serrate-toothed lancet, from the jaw of Galeocerdo rayneri (fig. 72) for bleeding, is called "nifikifa"; the straight-edge tooth lancet from Carcharias lamia (fig. 73), for puncturing, is known as "bunga."

These instruments were described to me as used like a tatooing pen, that is, the handle was held in the left hand so that the Fig. 73. Fig. 72. point of the tooth was placed just over the spot to be punctured, then the handle was smartly tapped by a stick held in the right hand and the point driven in. Dr. Collingwood writes:—"The tooth of the instrument is placed over the abscess, and with one blow it is forced into the cavity of the same, while there the extremity of the handle of the lance is made to pass through a semicircle, with the result in a skilful hand an elliptical piece of flesh is removed, thereby preventing the two rapid closure of the wound."*
Fig. 74

Fig. 74

In Tahiti, "they were clever at lancing an abscess with the thorn from a kind of bramble or a shark's tooth."

Fig. 74 shows a roll of prepared bark of the vala-vala (Premna taitensis) used in cautery, as mentioned on p. 37.

In Hawaii the skin was scorched with fire-brands in times of mourning

In Japan, " moxa, or the burning of a small cone of cottony fibres of the Artemisia, on the back and feet, was practised as early as the eleventh century, reference being made to it in a poem written at that time."§

* The Tasmanian Mail, 6th March, 1897, p. 34.

Ellis—loc. cit., iii., p. 44.

Ellis—loc. cit., iv., p. 181.

§ Griffis—The Mikado's Empire, 1887, p. 207.