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N.N. Miklouho-Maclay in Torres Strait.


The researcher is constantly in search of contemporary source documents that may have been overlooked. My current research interest is nineteenth century Torres Strait and I was keen to read the journals of the Russian natural scientist and ethnographer, Nikolai Nikolaevich Miklouho-Maclay (henceforth Maclay), who visited the islands of the strait in April 1880.(1) Unfortunately, only a few pages of fieldnotes from that visit have survived. Dr DD Tumarkin, principal researcher at the Miklouho-Maclay Institute of Ethnology, Russian Academy of Sciences, and editor of the new edition of Maclay's collected works, facilitated my access to the originals, which I photocopied in the library of the Russian Geographical Society in St Petersburg in December 1993 (see Figures 3-7). I translated them in 1996 but found that, despite my hopes, disappointingly little new information was forthcoming. This paper organises and comments on the information found in Maclay's fieldnotes and his scientific and other writings about Torres Strait and attempts to assess their significance as a source for contemporary historical and ethnographic scholarship. Where possible, I have used and acknowledged the English translations by Sentinella (1975) and Tumarkin (Miklouho-Maclay 1982); otherwise, the translations are my own.


Nikolai Nikolaevich Miklouho-Maclay

Maclay's stature as `scholar, explorer and public figure' (Great Soviet Encyclopedia 1973) and his involvement in significant issues of Australian and New Guinea history have conferred on him a status which transcends the fear and loathing characteristic of much of nineteenth century Australian-Russian relations (see, for example, Lack 1965-66). Like Alfred Cort Haddon, the leader of the 1898 Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to Torres Straits, his early biological and geographical research interests grew to encompass the anthropological and ethnological.(2) One of the earliest followers of Darwin, Maclay is probably best remembered today as a humanist scholar who, on the basis of comparative anatomical research, was the first in Russian anthropology to refute the prevailing view that the different `races' of mankind belonged to different species.

On 25 October 1996, a bust of Maclay was unveiled on Science Road in the University of Sydney. The unveiling marked the end of a year of events celebrating the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of his birth, which were covered by the national, local and ethnic press. A Russian delegation, led by the Minister of Culture and including Dr Tumarkin, visited Sydney for the unveiling, which was also attended by the Russian consul, the Vice-Chancellor of Sydney University, members of various Russian, Ukrainian and Australian scientific communities and Miklouho-Maclay's Australian descendants.

Now largely forgotten here, Maclay was nonetheless a prominent figure of nineteenth century Australian science (see Paton 1996; Webster 1984). He contributed almost 30 papers to the Linnaean Society of NSW, designed and founded the first marine biology station in the southern hemisphere at Watsons Bay in 1881, and was instrumental in establishing the Australasian Biological Association in June of that year. The Miklouho-Maclay Society of Australia existed from 1979 to 1988 and a Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay Centenary Fellowship was endowed in 1988. Known in Australia as Nicholas Maclay, he made his home here from 1878 to 1882 and again from 1883 to 1886. His links with Australia were also familial: his marriage on 27 February 1884 to Margaret Emma--widowed daughter of Sir John Robertson, former premier of New South Wales--who returned to Australia with their two children after her husband's death in St Petersburg on 14 April 1888, established enduring personal connections. His three grandchildren have all contributed to the public life of this country.

Maclay's travel diaries were first published (in Russian) in 1923 and his collected works, Sobranie sochinenii, in the early 1950s. Five of the proposed volumes of a new edition, Sobranie sochinenii v shesti tomakh, under Tumarkin's general editorship, have now appeared. German and Czech translations were published in the 1950s and a number of books and articles in English have evaluated Maclay's contribution to the study of our region (see References). A new English translation of the New Guinea diaries by B Wongar was due out in October 1997 but the publication has apparently been delayed.

The facts of Maclay's life are well known. Born on 17 July 1846 in the village of Rozhdestvenskoe, Novgorod Province, the son of an engineer from a noble Russian family of Ukrainian descent, educated in German and Russian, he was expelled from the University of St Petersburg and banned from attending Russian universities because of his participation in the student movement. Germany proved more hospitable. After completing his studies, Maclay began a research career in marine zoology. In 1866, he embarked on the first of his many travels, eventually voyaging to and making scientific observations in the Canary Islands, North Africa, South America and Oceania. In September 1871, within three months of the placement of the first London Missionary Society (LMS) Pacific Islander teachers in Torres Strait, he arrived on the northeast coast of New Guinea, where, the only white resident, he lived for two and a half years (1871-72, 1876-77, 1883). That stretch of coastline extending 300 km east from Astrolabe Bay he called bereg Maklaya `the Maclay coast' (see Figure 1). A campaign is currently underway to change the official name from `Rai' to `Maclay' coast in Maclay's honour (Mary Mennis, pers. comm., 10 December 1996). `Rai' is the traditional name and not, as was thought, a corruption of `Maclay' (Worsley 1952, 312).


Maclay in Torres Strait

On 20 January 1880, Maclay joined the celebrated LMS missionary, James Chalmers, to visit the southern coast of New Guinea and a number of islands of Torres Strait in the mission's schooner, Ellengowan (see Figure 3 for his sketch of the vessel at anchor at Vare Island (now Wari) in the Louisiades). He had spent the previous ten months among the Melanesian islands, investigating the abuses of what contemporaries called `the Kanaka labour trade', and was to write of these visits that `even the briefest personal observation produced truer opinions about the natives of Melanesia than repeated study of all the literature' (Webster 1984, 239).(3)

Chalmers was engaged in an inspection tour to provision the LMS teachers and report on their progress. This was the first meeting between the two men, who shared similar concerns for the future of New Guinea. Ill with fever, Maclay stayed in Chalmers' house in Port Moresby for over a month prior to the visit to the strait and the men became friends (Langmore 1974, 41-42; Webster 1984, 236). They were to meet on at least two subsequent occasions: in August 1881, they joined forces to help prevent a British reprisal massacre at Kalo on the southeast coast of New Guinea (Miklouho-Maclay 1982, 38, 416-24; Sentinella 1975, 292); and, in April 1883, Chalmers joined Maclay's ship at Thursday Island and together they wrote a letter from Cooktown, dated 1 June 1883, to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, appealing for justice for the Pacific and New Guinea peoples and an end to the labour trade (Sentinella 1975, 309; see Miklouho-Maclay 1982, 476-77, for the text of the letter).

The Scot, James Chalmers, known as `Tamate', joined the mission in 1877. He was to be clubbed to death in early April 1901. He had been greatly admired, and his murder and subsequent beheading shocked the empire. A revisionist view would, however, have to incorporate the Murray Islanders' name for all Pacific Islanders: adud Salmis `evil Chalmers' (Sam Passi, pers. comm., 1982). Despite their diverse origins, the Pacific Islander pearlers, crewmen and missionary teachers were perceived as interlopers, belonging to `the same tribe' and under the protection of the white missionaries and administrators.

Whatever his views on individual missionaries--and he and Chalmers were friends--Maclay was determined to keep them away from `his' coast. He believed that their activities led inevitably to `the invasion of traders, with their accessories: the introduction and application of alcohol, firearms, the spread of diseases and prostitution, the exportation of natives by force or deception for slavery and so on' (Miklouho-Maclay 1982, 41). In a lecture to the Russian Geographical Society on 4 October 1882, while admitting that the missionaries had brought the arts of `reading, writing and singing psalms' to the peoples of the Pacific, Maclay sets these `blessings of civilization' against the subsequent arrival of the `traders and all kinds of other exploiters', whose influence, he had observed in the Pacific and on the southern New Guinea coast, `manifests itself in the spread of disease, drunkenness and firearms, etc' (Sobranie sochinenii v shesti tomakh, vol 2, 430). No doubt he saw evidence in Torres Strait for his concerns: some two decades of relatively unrestrained contact between Indigenes and foreigners had left almost no aspect of traditional life and custom unaltered.

While on board the Ellengowan in January and February, Maclay had `passed most of his time among the natives [of the New Guinea coast], taking photographs, measuring heads and copying the patterns of profuse tattoos' (Webster 1984, 235). He continued these and similar activities in Torres Strait, where he spent most of April, visiting Erub (Darnley Island) for two days, Mer (Murray Island) for three days, Dauan (Mt Cornwallis Island) for half a day, Saibai for three days, Mabuiag (Jervis Island) for five days and Waiben (Thursday Island) for six days see Figure 2). He spent eight days at sea (Sobranie sochinenii, vol 2, 566, 568).


Eight pages of Maclay's fieldnotes from the Torres Strait voyage have survived. Written in Russian, German, English and Latin, like the notebooks he kept during his student days (Greenop 1944, 29), they record nothing of the personal: sketches; a population census of Erub; cranial measurements, perhaps using the craniometer he had taken to Micronesia in 1876 (Webster 1984, 345); measurements and observations on skin and eye colour and other physical attributes; and notes on cranial deformation among Mabuiag infants. (These notes are reproduced in the appendix to this paper, as Figures 3-7, together with a translation.)

From today's standpoint, the measurements and remarks on the physical characteristics of the Indigenous people are offensive to us; yet, in context, they demonstrate Maclay's dedication to the physical anthropology of his day:
 Often frustrated by impatient or suspicious `subjects', he had tried to
 fulfil the latest requirements for more numerous and exact cranial
 measurements. He was among the first to use standard tables for assessing
 skin and eye colour. He tirelessly measured the diameter of curls and
 studied hair in microscopic section. He was also guided by a list of
 questions on artificially distorted heads and flattened noses, the length
 of big toes and the size of teeth. (Webster 1984, 344)

Confident of finding a fuller contemporary account of the voyage among the manuscript documents from Papuan Mission personnel to the London directors of the LMS, I was intensely disappointed to find no 1880 report from Chalmers nor mention of Maclay in any other 1880 report or letter, not even the letter Chalmers had apparently written during the voyage.(4) Indeed, the only reference to the trip is the following:
 When I left New Guinea all were well. At Mabuiage [sic] in the straits we
 have a new teacher who is doing well. The former teacher we removed because
 of numerous complaints by shellers, Captain De Hoghton of H.M.S. Beagle,
 and Captain Pennefather of the Queensland Government Schooner ... At Murray
 Island, the school is progessing very favourably ... (letter from J
 Chalmers to LMS, 10 April 1880)

The voyage, after all, was a routine inspection: apart from Thursday Island, the administrative centre of Torres Strait, each of the islands visited was home to a LMS Pacific Islander teacher and his family. Everything was found to be in order--or was quickly returned to order. Chalmers, too, had other things on his mind. It was the first anniversary of his wife's death, he had to replace the unsatisfactory teacher on Mabuiag, and the letters he wrote at the time show him engaged in a battle to preserve every one of the mission stations, despite the directors' insistence that at least one should be closed because of sickness and expense.(5)

For the researcher, however, this means the absence of a major potential source of confirmatory or even complementary data for the sparse material contained in Maclay's Torres Strait journal.

Edwin Redlich and Jimmy Caledonia

At the time, there was no official border between Queensland and New Guinea and people and boats passed freely between them. On the New Guinea island of Samarai, on 22 January 1880, Maclay met two minor figures of Torres Strait history: the Prussian Edwin Redlich, master of the brigantine Franz, and Jimmy Caledonia, one of the many Pacific Islanders who sought their fortunes on the frontier of the expanding British empire. Redlich was to die within two months on 19 March 1880 of accidental drowning at Boera, New Guinea; Caledonia, of consumption two years later on 31 March 1882 on the island of Badu, Torres Strait (Somerset death registers).
 Here [at Samarai] I met Captain Redlich who, having lost his ship, was
 putting together a bird collection ... Here I also met the remarkable
 native, Jimmy from New Caledonia, who had once been a successful prospector
 in Australia. Having squandered everything, he came to New Guinea with some
 others in search of gold but, just like the others, had found nothing.
 Among other things, he told me that, when you wash a large pan of sand,
 there are usually a few sparkles of so-called `colour of gold'. (Sobranie
 sochinenii, vol 2, 537-38)

Redlich, brother of the Prussian consul-general at Hamburg and employed by the German firm, Godeffroy, had entered the Torres Strait pearl fisheries in 1872, barely three years after the discovery of commercial quantities of shell. He operated a pearl-shelling station on Gebar (Two Brothers Island) during the 1870s and was involved in some unsavoury adventures (letter from FL Jardine, Police Magistrate to Colonial Secretary, 12 February 1873; D'Albertis 1880, 232-33; Mullins 1994, 78). On several occasions, while in search of mother-of-pearl, trepang and tortoiseshell around the New Guinea coast and in Torres Strait, he had come to the aid of the Italian naturalist, Luigi D'Albertis (D'Albertis 1880, vol 1, 148; vol 2, 5, 182-83, 211) and is mentioned as a friend to the mission (Mullins 1994, 127).

The reference to Jimmy Caledonia is more interesting, since it suggests that Caledonia had failed in his search for gold. That may have been the prevailing view by 1880 but the truth is more complex and illuminative of social relationships on the frontier of empire. The credit for the discovery, which launched the gold rushes of the late nineteenth century, is usually given to the Scottish naturalist, Andrew Goldie (see, for example, Miklouho-Maclay 1982, 31). However, although traces of gold had been found in New Guinea as early as the 1840s (Healy 1965), it was in fact Jimmy Caledonia's find which provoked the first gold rush of 1878:
 Mr. Goldie returned this morning, and after dinner came down with the news
 that one of his party had found gold. He seemed excited about it, and
 expected that we should be. I knew of auriferous quartz being here, but
 hoped that nothing would be known of it yet. It seems that `Jimi New
 Caledonia' found quartz with gold in it when he went with us inland, but he
 kept the discovery secret until now. The `Bertha's' men having now gone
 inland, and being old gold-diggers, he was afraid they might find it, and
 so he told Mr. Goldie. (King 1909, 159, extract from journal of LMS
 missionary WG Lawes, 28 October 1877)

Healy (1965) and Gibbney (1972) both support Lawes' version, though they do not name the discoverer:
 The spark was provided ... when a New Caledonian employed by the London
 Missionary Society picked up more gold quartz near the site of Moresby's
 find. (Healy 1965, 107)

 Early in October, a New Caledonian, who had prospected with Mulligan in
 Queensland, showed Goldie some gold bearing specimens which he had found in
 the river. (Gibbney 1972, 284)

The confusion is typical of the time and place. The discovery of commercial quantities of pearl-shell on Tudu, Torres Strait, in 1869 is usually attributed to William Banner, who operated a beche-de-mer station there. In fact, it was his second-in-command, Tongatabu Joe, who realised the profit to be made and collected a store of shell while Banner was in Sydney (Ganter 1992, 20). Similarly, the rich pearl beds in the Darnley Deep were discovered in 1893 by the diver, Sam Niue (Nokise 1983, 347). Prior experience, knowledge and entrepreneurial flair led these three Pacific Islanders to discover commercially exploitable resources but none of them gained much in the way of profit or credit from their discoveries.

The population of Erub (Darnley Island)

At the beginning of April, Maclay spent two days on Erub, where he continued his anthropological observations. His fieldnote entry for 1 April 1880 reads:
 When the teacher Kuchin [Guceng](6) arrived on Erub in
 1871 the inhabitants of both sexes numbered 190. In
 April 1880

 male female
 boys 15 girls 13
 young people 12 adult females 31
 adult males 21 44

Total population = 92 persons.

The figure of 190 here is curious, unless Maclay is transcribing from other notes. In July 1871, when the first missionary teachers were stationed on Erub, its population was officially reported to be 120, reduced from an estimated pre-contact population of around 400 to 500 (Murray 1876, 451). The decline began in the early 1860s following the establishment of beche-de-mer stations, the influx of immigrant seamen, introduced diseases and some emigration to neighbouring Mer. Four months before Maclay's tally, Captain Pennefather of the government schooner Pearl had `mustered' the Erub population on 16 November 1879 and `found them to number 33 men and boys, 35 women, 12 children, total 79 [sic]' (letter from Pennefather to HM Chester, Police Magistrate, 19 December 1879). Pennefather must have counted only the Indigenous Erub population, which, he adds,
 seems to be decreasing very rapidly a great many having been taken off by
 the measles some few years ago [in 1875], and I think the action of the
 missionary teachers in stopping their native dances and amusements without
 inducing them to occupy their time suitably tends to shorten their
 existence. In a few years If they continue to die out at the present rate,
 the Island will be denuded of its native population.

A population count from Erub in 1888 shows the population of 152 almost evenly balanced between Indigenous and Pacific Islander inhabitants. The 'natives' comprised 76, made up of 30 men, 23 women and 23 children; the `South Sea natives' comprised 73, made up of 33 men, 19 women and 21 children (MacFarlane notes to Haddon, UQL MIC 6626: Population of Darnley, 6 September 1888). By 1893, the Erub population had increased to 181, but the majority now belonged to the Pacific Islander community of 96 adults and children; Indigenous Erubians had become a minority community of 85 on their own island (Nokise 1983, 347).

Of what contemporary relevance is the depopulation of Erub in the closing decades of the nineteenth century? It was the most significant factor in the establishment of the first Pacific Islander community in Australia and in the creation of contemporary Torres Strait syncretic ailan pasin `island custom'. In 1885, a group of 30 Pacific Islanders and their families was expelled from Mer by the Government Resident and given building and garden land on Erub (Shnukal 1996). Within a few years, the Pacific Islanders had become a majority of the population, which, together with their perceived economic and cultural superiority, their strategic marriages with Erub women from land-wealthy families and their alliances with the missionaries and other Europeans, transformed Erub into a de facto Pacific Islander community. Numerical superiority was a major factor in the transformation, which brought in its train the hybridisation of Torres Strait culture later to be exported to most of the other islands of the strait (Shnukal 1983; 1985).

A complaint against the LMS teacher, Josiah

If Maclay's ordering of the islands recapitulates the order in which he visited them--and this is supported by the order of his notebook entries--the party next visited Mer, the mission headquarters, for three days. There is no fieldnote entry for that particular visit but we have indirect evidence of his concern for the welfare of the Murray Islanders.

While on Mer, Maclay was horrified by the actions of the LMS teacher, Josiah, from Mare in New Caledonia, one of the original group placed on Dauan in 1871 and transferred to Mer about 1875 (Langbridge 1977, 166), who was reported to have severely flogged a number of Murray Islanders. Upon his arrival at Thursday Island, Maclay presented Police Magistrate Henry Marjoribanks Chester with a letter detailing the abuses he had seen. Presumably, he discussed the matter with Chalmers, though no mention is made in Chalmers' LMS correspondence. Maclay's original letter of complaint does not appear to have survived but we do have Captain Pennefather's handwritten report to Chester, dated 2 June 1880 and forwarded to the Colonial Secretary on the following day. Portions of it were published in the QLA Votes and Proceedings (Queensland 1880, 1160). Langbridge, who based his study almost exclusively on LMS reports, asserts that Josiah was `acquitted when it was discovered that the charge had been trumped up by shellers to get rid of him' (1977, 167) but Pennefather's enquiries convinced him of the teacher's guilt.(7) The relevant sections are reproduced below:
 On arrival at Murray Isld made enquiries into the reported cases of
 flogging there, of men and women, according to Baron Maclay's statements,
 by the teachers of the London Missionary Society [emphasis added].

 I ascertained the following facts.

 Two (2) women and four (4) young men had recently been flogged there, so
 recently the scars were not yet healed when I saw them. The teacher Josiah
 confessed to having ordered three of the boys to be flogged because they
 had passed some joking remark about his having taken a boat's crew of women
 on the reef with him to fish, for this they were tied up to a fence and
 severely flogged. Another boy or rather young man was flogged most brutally
 with a stingaree's tail for having pulled a woman's hair, the wounds on
 this fellow were still fresh and judging from the way in which the stripes
 had been laid on, I should say the flogger was well qualified for a
 Boatswain's mate's berth on board a man-of-war.

 One woman had been flogged for quarrelling with her husband and the
 other for quarrelling with her brother, and severely flogged also.

 The teacher Josiah denied that these two women were flogged by his
 orders, but by the orders of the chief `Harry' and the so called policemen.

 On my speaking to the chief and `policemen' they said they did not
 believe in this flogging business at all, but that the missionary had made
 new laws and frightened them by saying if they did not submit the `Pearl'
 would come and `make them fast'. The Chief is a helpless poor fellow,
 completely under the thumb of the missionary teacher who is supported by a
 staff of idle loafing South Sea islanders located around the mission

 The natives of the Island told me before the teacher that the chief was
 not to blame as he (the chief) was merely a tool in his hands. From what I
 learnt not only from the natives, but from whites and South Sea islanders
 engaged in the Beche-de-mer fishery on this island, the teacher Josiah is
 most arbitrary and despotic in his rule on this island. Men, women, and
 children are flogged severely for the most trivial offences.

 No young man can get a wife unless with the teachers permission as all
 the marriageable young girls are kept away from their families to work
 about the mission during the day, guarded by the loafers, and locked up
 together when night comes on, in one of the mission houses till daylight.

 I mustered the natives of the island together and told them this
 flogging would not be allowed, that the teacher had not the power to do it
 or any one else, that the police magistrate at Thursday Island would settle
 any disputes should they be of a serious enough nature. I told the teacher
 he would get into trouble should he attempt to flog anyone else, and that I
 should report what I had seen and heard.

 It appears to me that these teachers require a great deal more looking
 after by the gentlemen at the head of the London M.S. in these waters.
 These `Native Evangelists' are very fond of a little power and from what I
 have seen of them up here, hardly the men to use it wisely. They are left
 for months without any supervision from the heads of the Mission.

Cranial deformation among Torres Strait Islanders

Around the middle of April, Maclay spent five `very fully occupied' days on Mabuiag (Miklouho-Maclay 1885, 194), the longer stay presumably necessitated by Chalmers' removal of the teacher, Saneish.(8) Maclay spent much of his time there in ethnological and biological observation. Webster's summing up of Maclay's activities during his 1876 voyage to Micronesia is pertinent here:
 He used the briefest call at any island for routine research--measurements,
 classification of skin colour, observations on hair texture, facial
 features, dress and ornament. Where the schooner remained longer at anchor,
 he lived ashore and sought to enter into native life. (Webster 1984, 181)

His activities on Mabuiag were to provide the basis for two scientific papers read to the NSW Linnaean Society. Maclay had been elected to the society within a week of his arrival in Sydney in 1878 and his last contribution to the society for 1881 (Webster 1984, 246-47) was a paper on his observations of the many hours of manual pressure applied by Mabuiag Islander mothers to the still pliable skulls of their newborn babies in order to shape them to `a singular idea of beauty', viz. low in the forehead, flat at the back and not too well developed above. The paper was published in the Society's 1882 Proceedings and a Russian translation appears in Sobranie sochinenii (vol 3:1, 414-15); part of it was also reproduced in the fourth report of the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to Torres Straits (Haddon 1912, 8-9).

Maclay's observations verified a practice first reported by the naturalist Macgillivray in 1852 but dismissed as fanciful by von Baer:9
 A peculiar form of head, which both the Kawrarega [Prince of Wales group]
 and Gudang [Cape York] blacks consider as the beau ideal of beauty, is
 produced by artificial compression during infancy. Pressure is made by the
 mother with her hands--as I have seen practised on more than one occasion at
 Cape York--one being applied to the forehead and the other to the occiput,
 both of which are thereby flattened, while the skull is rendered
 proportionally broader and longer than it would naturally have been.
 (Macgillivray 1852, vol 2, 12)

Mindful of von Baer's criticism of Macgillivray's observations, Maclay carefully examined and measured the heads of Mabuiag babies who had undergone the manipulation. Their sex is not specified in the paper and I had inferred from the reference to `beauty' and the comparison with New Guinea women that they were female. His fieldnotes specify, however, that both girls and boys underwent the practice, though not all children were subjected to it.

The biology of the dugong brain

According to Webster, `in advocating internal anatomy as a better guide in the study of race than mere comparison of outward traits, Maclay gave priority to the brain' (1984, 240). Maclay's biological researches also extended to other mammalian brains. He had, like Haddon, begun his career as a zoologist and planned to publish a large work on the comparative anatomy of the brain, from fish to mammal, securing, as part of that study, `skull specimens of executed prisoners in Brisbane and Batavia and specimens made available by Sydney Hospital' (Sentinella 1975, 7).

In return for some small gifts, Maclay obtained the head of a freshly killed dugong. `He removed the brain and packed it carefully, carrying it with him back to Sydney for a quiet and thorough examination' (Greenop 1944, 172). Five years were to pass before Maclay unpacked and dissected it (Greenop 1944, 237). His `Note on the brain of the Halicore Australis Owen', published in the 1885 proceedings of the NSW Linnaean Society, describes in detail the results of this dissection. It may be the first such account--certainly Maclay was not aware of any others (Miklouho-Maclay 1885, 194). A Russian translation appears in Sobranie sochinenii (vol 3:2, 227-31). The dugong brain is included in a list of specimens Maclay donated to the Zoological Museum of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Sobranie sochinenii, vol 3:2, 363-64).

Unfortunately, Maclay does not comment on the way in which the dugong was killed. He was unlikely to have accompanied the hunters. Whatever his ideal, `in island voyages he [was] perforce the scientific visitor, arriving with a disruptive shipload of strangers, never staying long enough to think of entering into native life' (Webster 1984, 346). Although he notes that the mammal was still plentiful in Torres Strait and briefly discusses the mode of killing it on the south coast of New Guinea by netting and drowning, he did not apparently observe the more elaborate traditional methods of hunting dugong, probably innovated by the Torres Strait Islanders. There, according to myth, the edible qualities of the dugong were first revealed to the Badu culture hero, Sesere, by divination using his parents' skulls. Also revealed to him were the methods of constructing both the distinctive dugong harpoon and the raised platform over the seagrassfields, where dugong habitually graze. Dugong-catching magic is invoked and the male hunter harpoons a selected `fat' animal at night as the tide is rising (Lawrie 1970, 57-60). A survey of dugong fishing among the western Islanders appears in Haddon (1904, 337-42), Done (1987, 50-52) devotes a brief chapter to it, and Landtman (1927, 120-41) discusses the practice among the Kiwai, who had borrowed it from the Torres Strait Islanders.

Pearl-shelling in Torres Strait

While in Torres Strait, Maclay made a tour of a pearling station on Mabuiag (Fischer 1956, 410). We may infer from the fieldnotes that it was John Bell's station at Panai, managed by Captain George Mortimer Pearson. There he bought two female skulls from an Eromangan employed by Pearson and added further observations. He drew on his experiences to write for a popular newspaper a

fairly detailed account of the commercial pearling industry, which had begun on Tudu (Warrior Island) in 1869 (Sobranie sochinenii, vol 2, 612-15):
 The pearling industry also exists, as I have indicated, in Torres Strait,
 as well as on the west coast of Australia, although on a completely
 different basis. Experience has shown that Polynesians and Malays are far
 better divers than whites, and for that reason the actual collection of the
 shell is left mainly to the former.

 Stations have been established on various Torres Strait islands by
 pearlshellers, who are not the owners but merely agents for various Sydney
 firms. Such stations consist of the agent's--or so-called
 manager's--residence, another house for the men, a store for the shell and
 the various equipment needed to collect and weigh it, a kitchen and so
 forth. They are constructed largely of corrugated iron, a very convenient
 material for temporary construction in tropical countries. These stations
 serve as storage depots for different kinds of supplies, such as provisions
 for the men and the items needed to repair the boats and the diving
 apparatus; it is here, on these stations, that various repairs are made,
 and the shell received, cleaned and packed for despatch to Sydney. Living
 on such stations are a manager and carpenter, usually white, while the rest
 are coloured.

 There were about a dozen such stations at the time of my visit to Torres
 Strait in 1880. They operated eighty-eight vessels, from 5 to 8 tons in
 capacity; the central section of these luggers and cutters was generally
 taken up by diving equipment. For several years now all pearldiving in
 Torres Strait has been carried out with the help of the diving dress. Of
 the above-mentioned eighty-eight boats, seventy carried diving equipment
 and only eighteen had divers who worked without the dress. The price of a
 cutter with diving equipment in Sydney, where they are built and fitted
 out, is 400 pounds sterling. Tranporting the cutter by mail steamer from
 Sydney to Thursday Island (the Torres Strait steamship station) costs forty
 pounds sterling. Several attempts were made to send cutters under sail from
 Sydney to Torres Strait along the Australian coast, but these attempts were
 never successful. The diver is the captain of the vessel; besides his
 tender, whose job it is to assist the diver in everything to do with his
 work, i.e., to dress and undress him and make sure that everything is
 functioning properly while the diver is working under water, there are
 another four crewmen on board.

 A diver's wage is ample, few earning less than 200 pounds sterling a
 year; many receive from five to ten pounds per month and a significant
 percent on each ton of shell. There are years when a diver earns 350 pounds
 sterling and more. The salary of the ordinary seamen-Polynesians and
 Malays--is two pounds a month. A diver signs on usually for three years.
 The food supplied to the crew of these vessels is very good but no alcohol
 is provided.

 The diver gathers shell at a depth of eight fathoms, rarely more than
 ten. The shell lies about on the the sea floor, i.e. it is not attached to
 rocks, although sometimes it is almost entirely covered by sand. When the
 diver cannot work on account of the wind, he and the tender set about
 cleaning the shell.

 The flesh from the shell is thrown overboard and when enough shell has
 been collected, i.e. approximately every two weeks, the boats return to the
 stations to deliver their cargo. There, before the shell is accepted into
 the store, it is counted and weighed and an accurate list of how much was
 taken by each vessel compiled by the agent.

 The shell is cleaned a second time, washed, the edges broken off and
 then it is packed in crates to be sent to Sydney and from there to England.
 The regular price per ton for mother-of-pearl shell is about 120 pounds
 sterling, but it has gone as high as 280 pounds sterling. Each cutter takes
 in round figures about 7 tons of shell per year.

 In 1878, 449 tons with a market value of 53,021 pounds sterling were
 collected and exported. The value that year for exported pearls was only
 230 pounds sterling. The negligible quantity of pearls exported from Torres
 Strait stations arises from the fact that they are rarely handed in to the
 agents; they remain in the hands of the diver and crew, who sell them on
 the side. I heard that the price of very few pearls here exceeds forty
 pounds sterling, the average price for a good pearl being from five to
 eight pounds.(*)

 It is not surprising that the shellers focus their attention
 predominantly on pearl shell, which sells for a considerable price and for
 which there is constant demand; even more given the circumstance that
 sometimes not a single pearl is found among several boatloads of shell,
 whereas in another boatload there may be thirty, fourty, or sometimes one
 hundred pearls of various sizes.

 Almost every year in the environs of Torres Strait new reefs are opening
 up and therefore we may predict a significant future for this industry.

 *On many ocasions during my stay in the islands of Torres Strait, various
 coloured divers offered me pearls for sale; in Sydney I once saw a very
 fine large pearl, purchased from a native diver for ten pounds sterling and
 valued by experts at no less than eighty pounds sterling.

Again, I was disappointed to find, not the new information that I had hoped for, but a distillation of de Hoghton's substantial report on the fisheries (de Hoghton 1880). This report was no doubt made available to him by Police Magistrate Chester, whom de Hoghton thanks for his cooperation and in whose house Maclay was convalescing at the end of April after another bout of fever (Fischer 1956, 409-10).(10)


A comprehensive account of Maclay in Torres Strait might include such indirect connections as Maclay's part in the annexation of New Guinea in 1883 by the colony of Queensland. A letter from the Governor of New South Wales to London alluded to a report that `proposals have been lately made to the Russian government by a certain Baron Maclay-Miklouho ... to annex New Guinea, and to establish a naval and coaling station in the vicinity of Torres Strait' (Webster 1984, 292). Chester, still police magistrate at Thursday Island, carried out the short-lived annexation, which was opposed by Maclay and was quickly repudiated by the British government (Sentinella 1975, 308-09). It might also include the letters and papers written by Maclay on the ravages of the Pacific `labour trade' (Miklouho-Maclay 1982, 28, 451-52, 461-71), since some of the men involved eventually made their way to the strait. Elena Govor (pers. comm., 27 April 1998) informs me that Maclay's confidential letters of 1885-86 to the Russian Naval Ministry provided intelligence about Thursday Island as an important coal station poorly defended, a fact important for Russia in case of war with Britain.(11) And it was during Maclay's stay on Thursday Island that he determined to carry out his plans for a marine biological station, or so he stated in a paper read before the Linnaean Society in February 1881 (Thomassen 1882, 33-34):
 When I received in May, 1880, on Thursday Island, a letter from my friend
 Mr. William Haswell, informing me that the Zoological Station in Sydney was
 not established, I determined not to leave Australia before the scheme had
 been carried out.

For reasons of space, however, I have limited myself to material which draws directly on Maclay's Torres Strait experiences. His voyage there, during which he suffered recurrent bouts of malarial fever, was a diversion--to be viewed either as a coda to the two and a half months spent on the southern New Guinea coast with the missionaries or as a prelude to his second visit to mainland Australia--and generally dismissed with the briefest mention, if mentioned at all. His primary interest lay in the people of the Maclay coast of New Guinea and his visit to the southern coast was for purposes of comparison (Sobranie sochinenii, vol 2, 535, 566). In Torres Strait, he was not surprised to find that the forms of traditional custom had been greatly altered by almost two decades of sustained contact, which included energetic missionary activity and mass conversion. Nevertheless, he had reason to be satisfied with his activities of the previous 13 months: `My journey of 1879-1880 has furnished me with quite a lot of important scientific result[s]', he wrote to the Russian Geographical Society from Thursday Island (Putilov 1982, 121).(12)

Historians of Australian natural science would find much to interest them in Maclay's contributions to the NSW Linnaean Society journal on a range of subjects, from marine biology to Aboriginal ethnology. Despite the loss of the Australian diaries, his years in Australia where, as Webster (1984, 314) points out, `he had spent more of his adult life than in any other country', could also be researched in more depth. Accounts in English include Butinov (1992); Greenop (1944, 155-67, 182-88, 216-22); Miklouho-Maclay (1982, 30-39, 44-48, 55-56); Paton (1996); Putilov (1982, 102-07, 122-28, 174-76, 224-30); Sentinella (1975, 289-93); Webster's biography is the most detailed and least hagiographic (1984, 211-22, 239-48, 253-56, 263-66, 290-309). Of particular interest to Queenslanders might be the eight months Maclay spent in Brisbane, from 12 May 1880 to 19 January 1881, as a guest of the explorer, Augustus Charles Gregory, former surveyor-general of Queensland. From Brisbane he journeyed into the interior, excavated fossilised prehistoric remains, gathered information about conditions for Aborigines and for Pacific Islander plantation labourers, and carried out experiments into the comparative anatomy of the human brain (Fischer 1956, 410-11; Greenop 1944, 173-81; Miklouho-Maclay 1982, 35-36; Paton 1996, 14, 64; Putilov 1982, 122-27; Sentinella 1975, 291; Thomassen 1882, 33; Webster 1984, 239-44).

Always a perceptive observer, with a deep concern for and interest in the lives of the peoples of the region, Maclay in his brief sojourn in Torres Strait gathered a surprising amount of ethnological, historical and biological information. However, while this conforms to and confirms existing material, as a source for the contemporary researcher of Torres Strait, Maclay's writings are limited in novelty, quantity and scope.


I am grateful for the scholarly assistance of Wendy Paton, organiser of the events marking the 150th anniversary of Miklouho-Maclay's birth, Vladimir Dubossarsky of the SBS Russian radio program, and Pamela Gallagher, Elena Govor, Jeff Hopkins, Mary Mennis, Sam Passi (now deceased), Christine Stratigos and Michael Stubbins. My thanks also to Daniel Davidovich Tumarkin for his help in locating the journal pages and to Elena Govor, Laurie Knell, John McNair, Lydia Vik and Robert Woodhouse for their help in decoding them.


(1.) A better transliteration would be Miklukho-Maklai. The first non-Cyrillic version of the name, `Nicholas de Miklouho-Maclay', appears on the passport given to Maclay when he left Russia as a student (Thomassen 1882, 3). I have adopted the spelling used by Maclay when writing in English.

(2.) Haddon's early research career shows remarkable parallels with Maclay's: both began their anthropological careers as zoologists who, after studying marine fauna in the remote southern hemisphere, planned interdisciplinary expeditions to the Pacific. Both travelled widely in the New Guinea region and were greatly assisted by local missionaries and administrators. However, Maclay obtained only meagre institutional funding for his research, whereas Haddon persuaded Cambridge University to fund a team of researchers to work for several months in Torres Strait in 1898.

(3.) Maclay made several trips through Torres Strait on boats bound to and from Sydney, which called briefly at Thursday Island. He first sailed through the strait in July 1878 on his way from Singapore to recuperate in Sydney's more benign climate. While at sea, he recorded at noon each day the water and air temperatures off the eastern Australian coast and repeated the experiment during his voyage from Hong Kong to Sydney via Torres Strait in June-July 1883. Both sets of measurements are compared in a note to the Russian Geographical Society (Sobranie sochinenii v shesti tomakh, vol 4, 237-39). I thank Elena Govor for sending me these pages.

(4.) The LMS Papuan Mission was established on three Torres Strait islands in July 1871. In 1915 it ceded its pastoral authority over the Islanders to the Church of England. Microfilmed copies of the original manuscript documents between 1871 and 1915 are held by the National Library of Australia and various state libraries.

(5.) Neverthless, Chalmers' letter is a wonderful illustration of the discrepancy between events and the missionaries' reporting of them. Keen to impress the LMS directors with glowing accounts of the mission's successes, they glossed over and minimised failures, here the appalling conduct of the teacher, Saneish, from Mare, New Caledonia, appointed to Mabuiag in 1874 (Langbridge 1977, 171). Although Chalmers does not mention the nature of the shellers' and de Hoghton's complaints in his letter, a full accounting is given by Captain Pennefather of the government schooner Pearl, who arrived on Mabuiag on 10 December 1879:
 1st Inciting Capt Pearson's men to refuse work, but to work only for the
 teacher, and that instigated by him they accordingly did so though signed
 on articles.

 2nd That the teacher has on several occasions brought cases of spirits in
 his boat from Thursday Isld to Mabiac which have been drunk on the
 missionary premises by the countrymen of the teacher, who when mad drunk
 had pulled the women out of the native camp and abused them, causing a
 general uproar on the Island. That Albert Collis in charge at Mabiac for Mr
 Merriman of Sydney, G. Field carpenter for Capt Pearson and George Belford
 were witnesses to this occurrence.

 3rd That the Murray men assaulted and nearly killed one of Capt Pearson's
 men named `Albert' a captain of a swimming boat that they were incited to
 do this by their countryman the teacher.

 4th That the teacher refuses to tie up a large and savage dog which has
 severly bitten at different times seven men in Capt Pearson's employ, some
 having been laid up several weeks from the effects of the bites.

 Finally Capt Pearson charges the teacher of keeping the missionary premises
 as a common brothel and generally instigating both South Sea islanders and
 natives of the place to refuse to work for their employers and causing ill
 feeling between the blacks and whites. (letter from Pennefather to HM
 Chester, Police Magistrate, 19 December 1879)

Pennefather investigated the complaints and concluded:
 I do not think the teacher makes use of his position and influence to
 conciliate matters between blacks and whites. Where the two occupations
 that of the missionary and the sheller come in contact it is to be expected
 they will clash at times--but a more intelligent man and a more civilized
 one than the teacher at present on Mabiac might have conciliated matters
 there instead of stirring up strife. There is no doubt these teachers do
 gain influence of a kind amongst the natives, but they do not always exert
 it wisely.

 The teacher as an example of personal cleanliness, is not a credit to
 the mission, neither are the missionary premises.

 The teachers have a great love of a little authority and are not always
 the men to exercise it wisely ... I would recommend the London Missionary
 Society's representatives here, to replace the present teacher by some one
 who is more likely to conciliate any opposing interests there may be.

(6.) Guceng (or Guchen), a graduate of the LMS school and seminary in his native Lifu, New Caledonia, was the first teacher placed in Torres Strait in July 1871 (Langbridge 1977, 165-66). He served on Erub until c 1883 and was highly regarded. Maclay explained the function of the teachers as follows:
 `Teacher' is the name given to the native missionaries, who help the white
 missionaries spread Christianity among the local population. Often
 belonging to the same race, they are better able to convert the natives and
 support the climate and discomforts of living among the indigenous
 population. We may say that the teachers were the main instrument in
 successfully spreading Christianity amongst the natives of the Pacific
 Ocean. (Sobranie sochinenii, vol 2, 535-36)

(7.) Langbridge also asserts that `comments about Saneish [whom Chalmers removed from Mabuiag during the 1880 voyage] were all commendatory, particularly as concerns his work and influence at Mabuiag' (Langbridge 1977, 171).

(8.) According to Fischer (1956, 410), he revisited Mabuiag during his convalescence in May 1880 (see Note 10).

(9.) The Prussian biologist, Karl Ernst von Baer, was an advisor to Maclay. It was Baer (who had written a treatise on the Papuans without ever visiting Papua), who encouraged Maclay to go there. One of the founders of Russian anthropology and embryology and a member of the Academy of Science at St Petersburg, Baer had devised a system for measuring skulls, possibly that used by Maclay.

(10.) Fischer's book contains material I have seen nowhere else. It probably comes from the account written by Maclay for the Russian Geographical Society (Butinov 1992, 45; Putilov 1982, 121):
 Als der Forscher im Mai 1880 an Bord des Missionsdampers, `Ellengowan' die
 Thursday, die Donerstags-Insel, erreichte, war er langer als ein Jahr in
 dem morderischen Klima unterwegs gewesen. Die Fiberanfalle hasten ihn so
 mitgenommen, class er kaum noch gehen konnte. Im Hause des britischen
 Administrators Chester fend er Aufnahme und Pflege. Gerade dieser Chester
 was es, dem wenige Jahre spater die Aufgabe zufallen sollte, die Fahne der
 Queen in Port Moresby zu hissen und damit den Sudostteil Neuguineas dem
 Britischen Empire anzugliedern. Unter der Pflege von Frau Chester, die
 befurchtete, ihr Gast werde sich nicht mehr von seinem Krankenlager
 erheben, erholte sich Maclay uberraschend schnell. Bald streifte er wieder
 zwischen den winzigen Holzhausern und den hohen, vom Winde gebeugten
 Palmenstammen umher, und das glitzernde Wasser unter dem tiefblauen Himmel
 lockte ihn zu neuen Unternehmungen. Hier war Maclay im Zentrum der
 Perlenfischerei. Er liess sich auf der Jervis-Insel eine grosse
 Perlmutt-Ausbeuteungsstation zeigen und hielt sich einige Zeit in Somerset
 auf der Kap York-Halbinsel auf, um Reste der einheimischen Bevolkerung zu
 untersuchen, die dem Untergang preisgegeben war. (Fischer 1956, 409-10)

 [trans] When the scientist reached Thursday Island in May 1880 on board the
 mission steamer Ellengowan, he had spent longer than a year in the deadly
 climate. Attacks of fever had so exhausted him that he could scarcely still
 walk. He was received into the house of the British administrator Chester
 and nursed back to health. This was the same Chester, who, several years
 later, would be assigned the task of hoisting the Queen's flag in Port
 Moresby, thereby annexing the southeast part of New Guinea for the British
 Empire. Under the care of Mrs Chester, who feared that her guest would
 never again rise from his sickbed, Maclay recovered surprisingly swiftly.
 Soon he was again wandering through the tiny wooden houses and among the
 tall palm trees, swaying in the wind, and the glittering water under the
 deep blue sky enticed him to new enterprises. Maclay was in the centre of
 the pearl fishery here. He was shown a large pearling station on Mabuiag
 and stayed for a while in Somerset on Cape York Peninsula, in order to
 examine the remnant indigenous population that was facing extinction.

(11.) The reference is Sobranie sochinenii v shesti tomakh, vol 5, 421, 433.

(12.) The Australian material housed in the Sydney Exhibition Building was destroyed by fire in 1882. The vast ethnological collections which Maclay sent back to Russia are held at the St Petersburg Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology.

(13.) Uncertainties are represented by a question mark.

(14.) The LMS steamer Ellengowan was 58 ft long and 33 tons burden, rigged with one square sail. Originally a private yacht from Cowes, she was purchased for the use of the New Guinea Mission and sailed with a crew of nine (Scott 1885-87, 3, 4).

(15.) See Note 6 for discussion of the Lifuan teacher.

(16.) See earlier discussion for the significance of the population count.

(17.) These are the terms are used in nineteenth century anthropological literature (see, for example, D'Albertis 1880, vol 2, 179).

(18.) Maclay is using the standard tables for assessing skin and eye colour referred to by Webster (1984, 344). The figures in the journal vary from 20 to 40; the lower the number, the lighter the skin colour.

(19.) `Neva' may have been the name of the skull seller, his place of origin or the boat on which he sailed. Elena Gover has pointed out, however, that grammatically it is more likely to be the Eromangan seller's name. According to Collinson (1941, 65), the Neva Passage lies between the mainland of Papua New Guinea and Parem (Parama Island) near the Fly River. The people of Parem have a long association with the eastern Torres Strait Islanders and were employed in pearling in Torres Strait at the time. Neva was also the name of D'Albertis' steam-launch, which he obtained from the NSW Governor for his projected second voyage up the Fly River in May 1876. His last trip in the Neva ended at Thursday Island on 4 January 1878 (D'Albertis 1880, vol 2, 360) and it is possible that the boat remained in the strait.

(20.) This is possibly the Russian transliteration of a phrase in the Mabuiag traditional language, Kala Lagaw Ya, meaning `broad, flat head'.

(21.) Eromanga is an island of the Vanuatu group.

(22.) George Mortimer Pearson, born in Whitby, Yorkshire c 1844 but usually designated a `Scotchman' in Torres Strait, arrived c 1868 with a Pacific Islander crew. He was managing a pearling station at Panai on Mabuiag in 1872 (Gill 1876, 202) and also in 1882; gave his profession as pearl-sheller in 1888; and was one of the boat owners who signed a petition, dated 7 July 1893, to the Legislative Assembly about the Beche de Mer Fisheries Act. He married Katherine Heather at Newtown in Sydney in 1883 and became proprietor of the Royal Hotel on Thursday Island. Pearson died on Thursday Island in 1893. In addition to his legitimate family on Thursday Island, he had a son by Mapu from Purma and possibly a daughter by another woman. The son, Olandi Pearson, was born c 1872 at Mabuiag and died in 1952. Olandi married Gingin from Waraber Island, daughter of Bob Sandwich, a Pacific Islander, and Wau, and fathered 12 children. The Pearson family is today one of the most prominent central island families. The Aboriginal Pearson family from Hopevale is not descended from George Mortimer Pearson.

(23.) I have not been able to trace these photographs. They may have been lost in the fire of 1882, burned by Maclay's widow, or held by the St Petersburg Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology.

(24.) Waiben is the traditional name for Thursday Island.

(25.) Rivers' Mabuiag genealogies, collected as part of the 1898 Cambridge Expedition to Torres Strait, identify two men named Mariget or Sandy, both married to women named Mogur and with sons named Alis (Haddon 1904, Tables 2A, 3A). The Mariget referred to by Maclay was apparently the son of Gauri (Shovelnosed Ray, Turtle and Dog clans) and Maba (Crocodile clan). His youngest sister was Ponau [?Fana], who, by 1898, had been married to Geneii and Kanai aka Gizu. Writing some 60 years later, Peter Eseli, who was born on Mabuiag in 1886, also identifies Mariget but does not mention a sister (Eseli c 1955). Haddon (1908, 4) reproduces a scaled-down version of Mariget's drawing of the Tagai constellation but it is not clear which Mariget was the artist.


Australian Dictionary of Biography 1851-1890 1974 Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay, Melbourne University Press, vol 5, 248-50.

Australian Encyclopaedia 1926 Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, vol 2, 82.

-- 1965 Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay, Grolier, Sydney, vol 6, 72-73.

-- 1977 Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay, Grolier, Sydney, vol 4, 183.

Butinov, N.A. 1992 Miklouho-Maclay in Australia. In J. McNair and T. Poole, Russia and the Fifth Continent: Aspects of Russian-Australian Relations, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 39-53.

Chalmers, J. and W.W. Gill [1885] Work and Adventure in New Guinea, Religious Tract Society, London.

Chambers's Encyclopaedia 1966 Pergamon, Oxford, 10 vols.

Collinson, J.W. 1941 Tropical Coasts and Grasslands, Smith & Paterson, Brisbane.

D'Albertis, L.M. 1880 New Guinea: What I Did and What I Saw, Sampson Low, London, 2 vols.

de Hoghton, T. 1880 Lieutenant-Commander of the HMS Beagle reporting on the pearl-shell fisheries of Torres Straits, 22 September 1879, QVP 2, 1163-66.

Done, J.J.E. 1987 Wings across the Sea, Boolarong Publications, Brisbane (comp by B. Stevenson).

Eseli, P. c 1955 Eseli's notebook, unpublished ms F675, Fryer Library, University of Queensland, St Lucia.

Fischer, D. 1956 Unter Su'dsee-Insulanern: das Leben des Forschers Mikloucho-Maclay [Among South Sea Islanders: The Life of the Scientist Miklouho-Maclay], Koehler & Amelang, Leipzig.

Ganter, R. 1992 The Pearl-shellers of Torres Strait: Resource Use, Development and Decline, 1860s-1960s, Melbourne University Press.

Gibbney, H.J. 1972 The New Guinea Gold Rush of 1878, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society 58(4), 284-96.

Gill, W.W. 1876 Life in the Southern Isles or Scenes and Incidents in the South Pacific and New-Guinea, Religious Tract Society, London.

Great Soviet Encyclopedia 1973 Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay, Macmillan, New York, vol 16, 299.

Greenop, ES. 1944 Who Travels Alone, Murray, Sydney.

Haddon, A.C. 1904-12 Reports of the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to Torres Straits, Cambridge University Press, vols 4-6.

Healy, A.M. 1965 Ophir to Bulolo: The History of the Gold Search in New Guinea, Historical Studies Australia and New Zealand 12(45), 103-18.

Jackman, H. 1976 A Russian Scientist in 19th century New Guinea, book review of Mikloucho-Maclay: New Guinea diaries 1871-1883, trs by C.L. Sentinella, South Pacific Bulletin 26(1), 44.

King, J. 1909 W.G. Lawes of Savage Island and New Guinea, Religious Tract Society, London.

Lack, C. 1965-66 Russian Ambitions in the Pacific: Australian War Scares of the Nineteenth Century, Royal Historical Society of Queensland Journal 8(3), 432-59.

Landtman, G. 1927 The Kiwai Papuans of British New Guinea: A Nature-Born Instance of Rousseau's Ideal Community, Macmillan, London.

Langbridge, J.W. 1977 From Enculturation to Evangelization: An Account of Missionary Education in the Islands of Torres Strait to 1915, BEd Honours thesis, James Cook University.

Langmore, D. 1974 Tamate--A King: James Chalmers in New Guinea 1877-1901, Melbourne University Press.

Lawrie, M. 1970 Myths and Legends of Torres Strait, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia.

London Missionary Society 1880 Reports and letters, unpublished ms, Joint Copying Project Microfilms: M92, M681.

Lovett, R. 1902 James Chalmers: His Autobiography and Letters, Religious Tract Society, Oxford.

Macgillivray, J. 1852 Narrative of the Voyage of H.M.S. `Rattlesnake', Boone, London, 2 vols.

McCarthy, F.D. 1990 Book review of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Collections in Overseas Museums, Australian Aboriginal Studies 1, 69.

Mennis, M. 1996 The Story of Kain Friend of Maclay, Kristen Press, Madang.

Mikloucho-Maklai, N.N. nd Tamo Russ: Reisetagebu'cher von N.N. Miklucho-Maklaj [Tamo Russ: travel diaries of N.N. Miklouho-Maclay], SWA-Verlag, Berlin.

Miklouho-Maclay, N.N. 1880 Manuscript fieldnotes (eight pages from the field notebooks photocopied at the Russian Geographical Society, St Petersburg, in 1993 and translated at the end of the paper).

-- 1882 Cranial Deformation of Newborn Children at the Island Mabiak, and Other Islands of Torres Straits, and of Women of the S.E. Peninsula of New Guinea, Proceedings of the Linnaean Society of New South Wales 6, 627-29.

-- 1885 Note on the Brain of Halicore Australis Owen, Proceedings of the Linnaean Society of New South Wales 10(2), 193-96.

-- 1950-54 Sobranie sochinenii [Collected works], Akademii Nauk SSSR, Institut etnografii im. N.N. Miklukho-Maklaia, Moskva.

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Murray, A.W. 1876 Forty Years' Mission Work in Polynesia and New Guinea from 1835 to 1875, Nisbet, London.

Nokise, U.E 1983 The Role of London Missionary Society: Samoan Missionaries in the Evangelisation of the South West Pacific 1839-1930, PhD thesis, Australian National University.

Paton, W. 1996 Nikolai: and Australian Connections, Woollahra Municipal Library, Sydney.

Putilov, B.N. 1982 Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay: Traveller, Scientist and Humanist, trs by G.N. Koslov, Progress, Moscow.

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Scott, H. 1885-87 `Dear Everybody' Letters, unpublished ms, AIATSIS, Canberra.

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Shnukal, A. 1983 Torres Strait Creole: The Growth of a New Torres Strait Language, Aboriginal History 7(2), 173-85.

-- 1985 The Spread of Torres Strait Creole to the Central Islands of Torres Strait, Aboriginal History 9(2), 220-34.

-- 1996 The Expulsion of Pacific Islanders from Mer (Murray Island): Contemporary and Modern Interpretations, Oral History Association of Australia Journal 18, 79-83.

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Thomassen, E.S. 1882 Biographical Sketch of Nicholas de Miklouho-Maclay, Royal Geographical Society, Brisbane.

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Tumarkin, D.D. 1988 Miklouho-Maclay: A Great Russian Scholar and Humanist, Social Sciences 2, 175-89.

-- 1993 Miklouho-Maclay and the Perception of the Peoples of New Guinea in Russia, Pacific Studies 16(1), March, 33-42.

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Worsley, P.M. 1952 Pioneer of Pacific Anthropology, Oceania 22(4), 307-14.

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Appendix: Maclay's Torres Strait field notebooks

Figure 3: Sketch of Ellengowan and Folio 12

Folio 12 (Figure 3)


L.M.S. St[eamer] `Ellengowan'(14)
I[sla]nd Vare Jan.
Thursday I[sla]nd Marsh [?March]

Figure 4: Folio 12 reverse and Folio 13
Folio 12 reverse (Figure 4)

The Island of Erub

When the teacher Kuchin(15) arrived on Erub in 1871
the inhabitants of both sexes numbered 190. In April

boys 15 girls 13
young people 12 adult females 31
adult males 21 44

Total population = 92 persons.(16)
1st April

 Skull from Erub

Breadth Length Circumference(17)
137 161 85,0
Folio 13 (Figure 4)

 Island of Erub
Sex Approx. age Head
 Brth Lngth Circum.

 M 20 155 168.5
 M 30 151 185
 M 38 151 192
 M 20 151 171
 F 18 146 179
 F 40 151 167
 F 16 135 178 785
 F 17 143 169 845
 F 14 132 173
 F 38 134 171
 F 35 139 181 768

Island of Dauan

 M 50 144 186
 M 48 145 181
 M 16 151 168
 M 20 160 187 855
 M 14 151 176
 M 68 147 175
 M 6 151 163

Sex Colour Observations
 Skin(18) Eyes

 M 42 1
 M light dense hair
 M 42 1
 F light 48 with hair
 F 43/30
 F 30/28 1
 F 28
 F 28/42
 F 39/30
 F from Mer

Island of Dauan

 M 42 1
 M 42
 M 28
 M 42-28
 M 42-28
 M 42-28
 M 42

Figure 5: Folio 13 reverse and Folio 14
Folio 13 (Figure 5)

 Island of Dauan

Sex Head
 Brth Lngth Circum.

 F 132 167
 F 134 176
 F 144 117

 Island of Saibai

 M 154 178
 M 149 174
 M 140 175
 F 140 177
 F 139 166
 F 140 179

 Island of Mabuiag

 M 142 165
 M 151 170
 M 146 173
 M 151 164
 F 142 163

 F 144 175

Sex Approx. age Colour Observations
 Skin Eyes

 F 13
 F 15 27/30
 F 8

 M 45
 M 48 shaven
 M 16
 F 38
 F 40
 F 35 26/30

 M 8
 M 8 35
 M 11 42/35
 M 7
 F 3 ?asymetrial
 F 40 shaven

One native woman was 28 on the colour scale; her child was also a light 28.

Folio 14 (see Figure 5)

Two skulls from Mabuiag

A native named Neva(19) sold me the skulls of his two wives: Kadubu and Kavangoi.

`Lueg' or `Nudi'

atadu kuik(20)

Fronto-occipital compression of the skull among the natives of the island of Mabuiag

occurs only through manual pressure, which, however, is practised very frequently (whenever the mother has nothing else to do). This manual compression is, however, quite sufficient to produce a lasting deformation of the skull. The heads of girls as well as boys are deformed; [some mothers--crossed out] but not all children undergo this manipulation.

Figure 6: Folio 14 reverse and Folio 15

Folio 14 reverse (Figure 6)

Tribute A female, daughter of a native from the island, and a native woman from the island of Mabuiag, 2 months [old baby].

Height approximately 580. The arm span is almost equal to that.

Perineum (length from the ground) 190

Skin Colour on the front part of the body, i.e. chest, belly, legs and arms, is darker than the back; on the front part of the body it is approximately 28. The chin is perceptibly lighter (slightly darker than 20). Colour of the skin on the back approximately 30.
Head measurements

Length 125
Breadth 118
from chin to occiput 162
from the front of the fontanelle
 to the occipital bone 108

Badu, Moa
F Badu 144 28/ (photo) one woman of the
 177 42 ?pair

Figure 7
Folio 15
and sketch

Folio 15 (see Figure 6)

One of the natives of Eromanga(21) (from Pearson's
station)(22) was darkest 40.

1) M 1/2 English- M about 2 years oldnative

Skin colour nose, forehead 23.
arms 52 leg(s) 21
back 52/40 eyes 1
mother['s] hand 28

M M asymetr. F
124 137 132
157 161 156
about 1 1/2 years old.

The deformation is at this age already less noticeable than in the young (2-7 months) but even so the breadth of the skull seems to be a trace of it.

Folio 15 reverse (Figure 7)
Photographs(23) No.1. native Silo (Waiben)(24)
 No.2. native Mabuiag (Mariget)(25)
Mabuiag No.3. native woman Fana (his sister)
 No.4. native Badu
 No.5.2 native women from Badu
 native boy--teacher

Anna Shnukal

Australian Research Council, Australian Research Fellow, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, University of Queensland
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Title Annotation:Nikolai Nikolaevich Miklouho-Maclay, 19th century Russian natural scientist
Author:Shnukal, Anna
Publication:Australian Aboriginal Studies
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Sep 22, 1998
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