human souvenirs

From the beginning of the explorations in the 17th century Europeans took human souvenirs against their will back to their countries. They were taken as slaves for the crew and once they had learned the language they might give useful information of their country. These unfortunate men and women were the first who made real contact with the white strangers. I found very little about their sad fate in the old documents, but many of them must have died of fear or misery before they reached Europe. 

I found one of the last kidnappings in a report of the Italian naturalist Luigi d`Albertis in 1872. After his first expedition with the naturalist Beccari at Vogelkop (the most western part of NG), one day, d`Albertis found to his astonishment an Italian navy vessel before the coast. The ''Vitar Pisany'' was on its way to Sydney and d`Albertis decided to accept the invitation of the captain to come with the ''Vittar Pisani'' along the Aru islands and some places from the south coast of New Guinea to Sydney. During one of the last stops d`Albertis took a Papua (his name was Ciaccia) on board to accompany him to Australia. Once the ship had left the coast of New Guinea for good it became clear that Ciaccia had completely misunderstood this deal.

January 10th  1872 ''...At last we ordered the natives to leave the ship, so that we might begin our preparations for departure. They obeyed with regret, and remained at a short distance observing our movements. Meanwhile we threw a bullock, which had died on board, into the sea. This excited their curiosity greatly, all the canoes drew near it; and from the natives' gestures and speech it was easy to understand how much interested they were in. such an ugly animal, the like of which they had never seen. Then some of them came and asked if they might carry the poor beast away with them, and eat it. They signified this to us by gestures, and by the same means we intimated to them that they might have the animal, but they must abstain from eating it. It is difficult to say whether they understood or not; but having made the bullock fast between two canoes, they rowed off in the direction of the nearest village. This was our last adventure with the natives of Orangerie Bay. They will certainly remember the great monster whom we abandoned, and will keep its bones in their village as relics, Heaven known how long, certainly not less prized than the bits of iron they bought from us. Who can say that it will not become something sacred to them, about which they will invent a legend, a tradition, or a superstition? Some  day a traveller visiting Orangerie Bay, and finding in the house of the natives the head, or a tooth, of the bullock of the ''Vittor Pisani,'' may feel himself called upon to proclaim the discovery of a new boss, or of a new monster, to the world. Who can say what may not be made out of the horns of the bullock of the ''Vittor Pisani'' by a traveller anxious to record strange discoveries! We weighed anchor, and slowly moved out of the bay. The canoes, which had formed into a semicircle, made room to let the large boat pass. Although they were observing our manoeuvres, they had. apparently not understood that we were leaving them; and when they perceived we were really going, they rowed after us, and. with cries and gestures invited us to stay with them. They accompanied us almost out of' the bay; and then,  with a final cheer, we bade a probably eternal farewell to those sons of nature. Chance had made us acquainted with them; and our intercourse with them, although so brief, was sufficient to give us a feeling of sympathy with these people, whose way of life, so different to ours that its simplicity almost resembles that of our first parents, was nevertheless far from being that of savages. The engine was put to its full speed, and in a short time we lost sight of the canoes, of the villages, and then of the island; and now we are in the open sea, steering for Sydney. Ciaccia, our Papuan, turning towards the west, pointed out to me that his country lay there, where the sun sets, and asked me why do we go where the sun rises instead? Poor Ciaccia! He knows that to have plenty to eat and drink is a good thing, but he has apparently come to the conclusion that there is nothing like liberty. Although he is a slave on land, he feels that he is a prisoner on board. 

January 20th  For nautical reasons we have sailed as far as 158' 21' long. E. of Greenwich, and we have reached the 17' 82' S. lat. Now, on account of the wind, we can direct our course towards Australia, to Sydney. The weather continues uncertain, but it begins to be a little cooler, much to the relief of the whole crew. Ciaccia comes to me every day, and asks me to go on deck with him; and when we are on the poop he points his finger in the direction of his country. He thinks, perhaps, we have mistaken our way, and he repeats ' Wakan is there! Wakan is there! ` and begs me to tell the captain. It appears that he thinks we are still going to some savage country, and that we shall all be killed and eaten. I cannot persuade him that the captain will send him to Wakan somehow or other, and that we shall soon arrive at a fine large country.
 

 

January 28th  To-day, at 5 p.m., we came in sight of Cape Danger, on the .Australian coast. Ciaccia was wild with delight at seeing land again after our voyage of eighteen days, during which we had seen nothing but sky and water. His joy, however, was short lived. `It is land,` he told me, `but not Wakan! ` and, poor fellow! He began to cry like a child. He looks upon me as his protector and confidant in short, as his friend. To-day he asked me, sobbing, to tell the captain, that he had a wife and two children, and that he wanted to go and see them.`Oh, tell the captain,` he said to me, `to go back and take me to Wakan! My wife and my children are expecting me. They will cry! Tell the captain to take me to Wakan! ` Poor Ciaccia '. It seems to me that Fortune mocks him. He was a poor slave, hungry and naked., and she turned him, as if by enchantment, into a prince by comparison. During the first day s of being on board he was, no doubt, quite happy; but now his happiness is changed into torture. The enchanted palace, which the ship must have been to him at first, has now become a horrible prison a, prison which moves on farther and farther from his country and his beloved family, poor Ciaccia! He stood for hours motionless on the poop, looking at the water, which seemed to be flying away from us. He appeared lost thought of his dear ones. If I called him, he turned to me, as if awakening from a dream, and exclaimed `Wakam, Wakam!` while two tears, like pearls ran down his cheeks. 

February 2nd Port Jackson Australia I obtained permission to accompany Ciaccia on shore. He seemed not to believe his own eyes, but to think it all a dream. Everything he saw was new to him, and many things, such as horses and carriages, frightened him. The report of the cannon yesterday alarmed him so much, that he was afraid of moving from a corner where he had hidden himself; and to-day, while walking with me in the street, he often asked if that noise would be repeated. In conducting him on shore, I had proposed to myself to study his impressions from his face; but I was disappointed, he was too much confused by seeing so many things at once. The ladies interested him most, after the horses and carriages, and he could not understand how a head could remain steady on a pyramid, as the dresses of our ladies made them appear to him to be. He could not comprehend how they could move under them. After having walked several hours with me, I thought he would have derived some pleasure from the things he saw; but he stopped me by taking hold of my- arm. I turned to him to ask what he wanted, and he moaned: `Oh, let us go to Wakan! 'Tell the captain to take me back to Wakan!` ''

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