National Geographic : 1970 Dec
KODACHROME( N.G.S. Meeting the challenge of chess, a villager takes an intellectual flier with the author, who wears only a fiber belt and sheath in native fashion. Hungarian-born Mr. Muller, an amateur anthropologist from Tucson, Arizona, spent rainy days during his Bunlap residence teaching a small class reading and arithmetic. Using such aids as NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S article on the moon landing and the Society's book on African wild animals, he gave the islanders their first far-reaching glimpse of the outside world. He gained additional respect and affection from the people by participating wholeheartedly in the life of their village. with platforms, and drop pieces of wood from various levels as if they were divers. The day before the dive, workers cleared the surrounding area of plants, trees, and stumps, and softened the sloping ground of the landing spot to a depth of about ten inches. That evening every male villager guarded the tower lest a "poison man" plant evil things in the ground to make the lianas break. Before dawn the next morning the men underwent a ritual wash in the sea, anointed themselves with coconut oil, and decorated their bodies according to rank and fancy. All the men and boys wore boars' tusks around their necks (pages 803 and 811). And every woman and girl donned a new fiber skirt before gazing on the tower for the first time. Quietly, the men slipped into the jungle as the women gathered near the base of the tower and started to dance back and forth. Then the men charged into the clearing, sing ing, shouting, and waving old war clubs. They danced toward the women, and the 816 intensity of noise rose to a higher pitch. As everyone worked himself into a frenzy, the dives began. A few of the youngest boys leaped from the lowest platforms, some 20 feet above the ground. These youngsters making their first jump showed plenty of courage and pride. But sometimes a slight shove from behind helped send a young diver on his way. Then came the diving by the men. At each jump the spectators shouted. Then, as the diver hung head down, men rushed from the audience to cut him loose, and his relatives congratulated him. If he jumped well, the older men gave him a frond of cycas. A few balked, making a last-minute de cision not to jump. Their places were quickly taken by others, and they were in no way ridi culed. One man particularly enjoyed diving; he jumped five times. The platforms stood on 15 levels. As the divers jumped from higher levels, the tension mounted. A few minor accidents did occur.