National Geographic : 1912 Apr
From "In the Heart of Africa," by Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Mecklenburg (Cassell & Co.) CICATRISATIONS ON A MKONDJO WOMAN The study of the tattooings and skin-markings found in the whole of Central Africa is an extremely remarkable one. It de mands very great diligence and very special and detailed investi gation to trace the origin and significance of the custom. For instance, Wiese found patterns which constantly recurred, hut were frequently accompanied by changing side-marks among the hundreds which he copied. According to the statements of tihe natives, they betokened signs of lineage by which the various races recognized their own folk. The ornamental scarrings are brought about by an inflammation or artificial irritation of the skin, which is scratched or incised with a knife, according to the pattern desired. The wounds are smeared over with vegetable matter and dirt, which causes them to swell up to an extraordi nary extent. We saw skin-puffings on the foreheads of the Ban gala, the chief race of the Middle Congo territory, swollen up to about two centimeters Countless variations may be found among which the half-moon shape occurs most frequently. ful performance of 1.50 to 1.6o meters (5 feet).* With Weidemann's as sistance, I was enabled by means of an excellent cinematograph apparatus to obtain a few capital pictures of these note w o r t y performances, and their reproduction in Germany aroused great interest. Prizes in the shape of "gold" chains and simi lar objects were then dis tributed. The "Tait dia mond" ornaments, which I had brought with me as special gifts of honor, Found great favor with the trinklet-loving Wa tussi. Rings, stars, brooches, etc., were at length so coveted that lmy tent was in a con Stinual state of siege, and I was obliged to keep my admirers at arm's length, so as not to exhaust completely my stock of "precious jewels." S We were also given an opportunity of seeing a set of dances, which dif fered in no material re spect in their character from those I had watched in the Masai steppe and among the coastal tribes. There was no musical accompaniment to the majority of the Ii dif ferent kinds of dances which we observed, such as is usual with all the terpsichorean exercises of the negro people. In spite of this. however, there was no lack of rhythm. These dances were based on ideas bor rowed from the animal kingdom, and were exe cuted singly or in groups accordingly. *The world's record for a running high jump is 6 feet 5% inches.