Monday, 30 June 2008

Deliberate mistake

In a post in April I said that by 1829 all the mutineers of the Bounty were dead. Not true. The last died in 1830.

Source: Asiatic journal and monthly register for British India and its dependencies. New series. Oct 1830

Sunday, 29 June 2008

A Sarawak Sexameron continued

...and the story continues here.

A Sarawak Sexameron

The rather interesting pen drawing at left is the fronticepiece for the first issue of a journal named "Waiting for the tide, or, Scraps and scrawls from Sarawak", published in 1875 in Kuching. The image speaks for itself, though exactly what it's trying to say I'll leave to others.

The magazine is a small affair, created by and for Brits on the island of Borneo (more particularly Sarawak). The publishers apologise for the amateurish drawing and the type, which was set by a "Chinese boy in Singapore". Whether or not there were any subsequent issues I don't know, though it was envisaged as an annual. This is the only edition at the British Library.

There are six short stories inside, and I've reproduced the first one below (Fraser's story). There is an introduction which sets up the stories as having been told around a camp while colonial functionaries and their attendants from remote areas are waiting for the tide to turn on the river so they can get to the governor's Christmas and New Year party in Kuching. The stories are told by the companions to help them stay awake so they don't miss it.

Sarawak was an interesting place. Kuching is the capital, and at the time was ruled by a the Brooke family. The dynasty lasted from 1841 until the Japanese took over in 1941. I don't know if the stories here are true or not; perhaps they are a little bit.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

First ever Kapa haka tour to England?

Kapa haka perhaps, but under duress. In the story which follows, it becomes apparent that that the advertisement at left calling for religious people to attend backfired on the promoter.

I've never heard of this story before, and trying to work out the men's real names would take a linguistic expert. How do you get anything sounding remotely Maori from "Feedee/Phede" and "Adic"? "Feedee" might be "Whiti" (the Northern Maori accent pronounces "wh" sort of like an English "ph"), but "Adic" has me beat. "Whiti" means to cross over. So even if not his real name, it may be that the man had taken it on as a traveller.

This story has all the hallmarks of a tragic Opera: People on hard times get treated badly over a long period, they are rescued by good samaritans, and just when all is going well, everyone dies.
Big ups to the people of Derby, in England's heartland. It would not have been cheap to get these men back to New Zealand, and they were keen to keep abreast of Feedee and Adic's fates.
The place referred to Py Lea is Paihia in the Bay of Islands, where a Wesleyan Mission had been set up by Samuel Marsden. On the other side of the bay was the settlement/trading post of Kororareka, which is now known as Russell, and picturesquely known at the time as "Hell". It was famous up to the 1830s as being the most unlawful, drunken, human trafficking, murdering place in the Pacific, and perhaps the world (until San Fransisco got going). It was peopled by beachcombers, runaway convicts and sailors, and Maori traders in kauri, flax, women and preserved heads. Aside from receiving some Maori protection, there was no government or order for Europeans until the late 1830s when the Kororareka Association was set up. This was a loose vigilante type group of grogshop owners, small-time chandlers and traders who meted out their own justice until 1840. Not even missionaries would go there! I'll write more on the Association soon.

I didn't find the log of the ship Lloyds at the British library, though it may exist elsewhere. With such a name, it may even be at Lloyds of London.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Asian Knock-Offs: A grand tradition

The easy way to become doctor

Anyone who thinks that fake degrees and qualifications are a modern phenomenon can check this out.

If there is a market for something, there will soon be someone selling it. When I was studying in Singapore ten years ago, there were a lot of people in the region selling press cards and student cards complete with the laser hologram stuff - you couldn't tell the difference of course because they were made in the same factories which made the authorised ones.
It was going on in my father's time and I'm sure will continue a while yet. My favourite was "Passport repair". Don't like the photo or have changed your name? No problem! Hilarious.

Source: Asiatic journal and monthly register for British India and its dependencies. New series. Sept 1831