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100 Years Ago: March 1922


This is the 86th installment in my series of posts about National Geographic Magazines as they become one hundred years old.



The first article in this month’s issue is entitled “Prehistoric Telephone Days” and was written by Alexander Graham Bell, author of “Discovery and Invention”, “A Few Thoughts Concerning Eugenics”, “Prizes for the Inventor”, “Who Shall Inherit Long Life”, etc. in the National Geographic Magazine.  The article is from an address to the officials and workers at the U. S. Patent Office and was rewritten for the magazine by the author.  The article contains seventeen black-and-white photographs, three of which are full-page in size.

In preparing his speech to the Patent Office personnel, Mr. Bell realized that there was nothing he could tell them that they didn’t already know about the invention of the telephone.  He decided, instead, to talk about his life before the phone – his boyhood and the influences that molded his early life.  He started with his grandfather, Alexander Bell of London, England (1790-1865).  He was an elocutionist and corrector of defective utterances.  The author’s early childhood was spent in Edinburgh, but at nearly fifteen, he went to London and stay a year with his grandfather.  His grandfather took a great deal of interest his education.  The author did poorly in school.  He blamed his bad grades on lack of ambition rather than a lack of ability.  Music was his earliest hobby; he couldn’t remember a time he could not play piano, he started so young.  A distinguished professor of music, Signor Auguste Benoit Bertini, heard him improvise at the piano, and when he found that the author had received no instruction in music and knew nothing of notes, he adopted Mr. Bell as a musical protégé.  When he learned to read music from notes, he lost the ability to play by ear.  The promise of a musical career did not materialize.  He gave up music when he entered upon the work of teaching the deaf.  Another childhood hobby of his was the collecting and arranging of flowers and plants.  That soon gave way to collecting shells and birds’ eggs.  Then came butterflies and beetles, and finally the skeletons of small animals, and skulls of the “higher Mammalia” – squirrels, rabbits, cats and dogs.  The gem of his collection was a real human skull, presented to him by his father.  His grandfather was a well-known Shakespearean scholar and a public reader of Shakespeare’s plays; so, the author had to make himself familiar with the plays of the Bard.  The year with his grandfather converted him from an ignorant and careless boy into a rather studious youth, ready to work hard to prepare for college.

The profession his grandfather founded became a family profession, handed down to his children and grandchildren.  His two sons followed it.  Both his oldest son, David Charles Bell, of Dublin, Ireland (1817-1902), and the author’s father, Alexander Melville Bell, of Edinburgh, Scotland, were elocutionists and correctors of defective utterances.  His father branched off in a new direction, as an inventor.  He devised a system of symbols for depicting the actions of the vocal organs in uttering sounds.  It proved to be a universal alphabet.  The author noted that his father’s work had a great and important influence on his work on the telephone.  In connection with that work, the author took up the study of the nature of vibrations going in the air during the utterance of speech.  His goal was to develop an apparatus that would enable deaf people to see and recognize the vibrations of the various elements of speech.  His father was acquainted with men prominent in the field; they, too, influenced Mr. Bell.  Sir James Murray was the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary.  To Alexander J. Ellis, the author owed his first knowledge of the researches of Helmholtz.  Helmholtz produced vowel sounds by a synthetic process, producing musical tones by means of prong-forks which were kept vibrating by an electrical current.  Prince Lucien Bonaparte was a distinguished scientific man, residing in London, who made tours of Scotland, mapping out the geographical boundaries of the various Scottish dialects.  When Mr. Bell was quite young, he met Sir Charles Wheatstone.  They did not talk about the electric telegraph, but another topic entirely: a book by Baron von Kempelen, “The Mechanism of Human Speech” in which he described his speaking machine in detail, with copious illustrations.  Sir Charles had built the device, and although the articulation was disappointingly crude, it made a great impression on the author.  Urged on by their father. The author and his brother, Melville, attempted to construct an automated speaking machine of their own.

Instead of following Kempelen and Wheatstone, they attempted to copy Nature herself.  They attempted to make exact copies of the vocal organs, and work the lips, tongue, and soft palate by means of levers controlled by a keyboard.  While they never completed the tongue, they got their device to say “Ma-ma”.   To study a larynx, the boys decided to dissect a cat.  Unfortunately, the cat suffered so much while being euthanized, they felt so bad that they buried it without dissecting it.  Later on, the young Bell decided to teach a dog to speak.  First, he taught the dog to sit up and growl continuously.  By manipulating the throat and jaw, the author was able to produce the sentence “Ow-ah-oo-gamama” (How are you, grandmama?).  Due to the rewards the dog received, he would often sit up and try to talk unaided, but his efforts were in vain.  The author abruptly changed topics to discuss his first invention.  When he was young, his father had a pupil whose father owned a flour mill.  When playing at the mill, the author and his friend were told to take the husks off of a bag of wheat grains.  They tried brushing the seeds with a nailbrush.  The author remembered a large vat in the mill, with paddles and a rough casing.  He was sure it could brush off the husks.  They were successful, and showed the owner, who began using their method.

Again, switching gears, the author jumped forward to 1876; the telephone became known worldwide.  Mr. Bell was teaching at Boston University.  He had a student from Japan, named Issawa, who later became the Japanese Minister of Education in Formosa.  Mr. Issawa was learning the pronunciation of English, and asked the author if he might see a telephone.  He was assured that the machine could speak in Japanese.  Mr. Issawa spoke, the author listened but did not understand Japanese.  He asked if he could come back and bring two friends, who were students at Harvard, to try the machine again.  The author agreed, and that was how Japanese was the second language used on the telephone.  Years later, when Mr. Bell was in Yokohama, the American residents were entertaining a new Japanese minister about to leave for Washington.  When Mr. Bell was about to be presented to the minister, the minister insisted that no introduction was necessary, they had met years before.  He was one of Issawa’s friends from Harvard.  He was the Baron Kurino, and later became Premier of Japan.  A few years prior to this address, he visited the U. S. on a goodwill tour.  He gave a lecture before the National Geographic Society in Washington, and Mr. Bell happened to be the President of the Society at the time.  The Baron mentioned his meeting, as a student from Harvard, with Mr. Bell and his telephone.  Mr. Bell found it interesting that, not only was Japanese the first foreign language spoken on the telephone, but that the speakers were among the foremost men that Japan had produced.  The telephone had gone all over the world since then.  It had grown far beyond the author knowledge, and well past the prehistoric telephone days.



The second article this month is entitled “Hunting the Chaulmoogra Tree” and was written by J. F. Rock, Agricultural Explorer of the Office of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction, Bureau of Plant Industry, U. S. Department of Agriculture.  The article contains thirty-nine black-and-white photographs taken by the author.  Ten of those photos are full-page in size.  The article also has a full-page sketch map of Burma as a frontispiece for the article on page 242.

Sketch Map courtesy of Philip Riviere

Chaulmoogra was a possible cure for leprosy.  In fact, two constituents of its oil, chaulmoogric and hydnocarpic acids, especially their ethyl esters, had proven efficacious in the treatment of that dreaded disease.  Those acids were first isolated and described, and their esters prepared nearly twenty years prior by Dr. Frederick B. Power and his assistants.  It was only two years prior, that word came from Hawaii, that intramuscular injections had achieved remarkable results.  Two hundred lepers had been discharged.  The discharged patient had to report for reexamination frequently, but none had been re-hospitalized.  The oil was obtained from the seeds of the Taraktogenos Kurzii tree, named in honor of its discoverer, Kutz.  The natives of southeastern Asia had long known of the curative property of the seeds, especially in leprosy.  Legends told of a Burmese king who voluntarily exiled himself into the jungles.  He partook of the fruits and leaves of the Kalaw tree (T. Kurzii), and in time his health was restored.  The oil had been used by Asians for hundreds of years.  Owing to the high price of the oil, and its scarcity in the near future, Mt. Rock was authorized by the U. S. D. A. to obtain seeds of that species, to be introduced into Hawaii and our tropical possessions, with the goal of establishing Chaulmoogra plantations.  The author arrived in Asia at Singapore, and took a train to Bangkok, a 1,018-mile journey taking five days.  The author was impressed by the many temples in Bangkok, especially the Royal Wats, the most interesting of which was the Wat Phra Keo.  No one in Bangkok knew where the Chaulmoogra tree grew.  The author traveled north in his quest. The road from Lampun to Chiengmai led through small villages and beautiful groves of Mai Yang trees.  He was told by the wife of the Viceroy of Chengmai that the tree he sought grew plentifully near Korat, in eastern Siam.  The author was entertained in Chengmai by the Viceroy and his wife.  There were some fourscore temples in Chiengmai, the most important of which was Wat Luang.

The chief point of interest in the vicinity of Chiengmai was Doi Sootep.  It was reached by a splendid road, which led through the old gates to the ruined walls of the ancient city.  As a result of Mr. Rock’s stay in Chiengmai and Doi Sootep, several species of oaks and chestnut trees were being grown in America.  After a quick trip to Korat, where the Siamese Maikrabao tree was obtained, he returned to Chiengmai and chartered a houseboat for a journey down the Meh Ping River to Raheng, and thence overland to Moulmein, Burma.  The river was wide, with flat banks fringed with bamboos and silk-cotton trees.  After several days journey, the scenery changed.  They entered mighty gorges, defiles, and forested mountains.  The author stopped often, to explore the forests and collect plants.  The largest village between Chiangmai and Ban Nar was Muang Hawt.  It consisted of a single street with mud and bamboo houses.  The river at that season was low and it was difficult to make a landing.  After passing through the beautiful defile of Fa Man, they approached the rapids.  The scenery became gorgeous; steep walls covered with verdure and densely forested banks, mainly enormous bamboos.  Rapid after rapid was negotiated, 41 in all, requiring two days.  At Okma, one of the last rapids, they met with difficulties, and narrowly escaped being dashed against the rocks.  Their next camp was near Pa Khar, where elephants kept the author awake during the night, with their noisy eating.  At Kaw Paw Luang, they reached the last of the rapids.  Finally, Raheng came into sight, and Mr. Rock departed from his captain and crew.  He had more luggage than there were carriers, so he had to wait for more coolies.  Leaving Raheng, they crossed glorious mountain ranges covered with dense tropical forests.  The scenery varied greatly, different trees in different regions – teak, bamboo, oak, etc.  After a journey of seen days, they reached Mesawt, the last Siamese hamlet, near a branch of the Salwin River.  The governor of Mesawt was holding court to try elephant thieves.  Once over the Burmese border, the elephants were gone for good.

For heavy baggage and specimens, the author hired three bullock carts with Burmese drivers.  Those carts made from 18 to 20 miles a day.  Traveling was more comfortable, as the British Government furnished bungalows for the convenience of travelers.  Their path laid across the Kawkereik Hills, which was covered with glorious verdure.  It was there that the author first saw the tree for which he was searching, but it was not in fruit.  He was informed that July was when the Chaulmoogra fruit ripened.  They hurried on and reached Moulmein on Christmas eve.  The author spent Christmas day with the American missionaries at Moulmein.  His next point of venture was the Kalama range of the Martaban Hills, where the natives said Kalaw could be found.  After searching the hills for days, they found the Kalaw, but it was not the tree the author sought.  Instead, it was of the species Hydnocarpus castanea.  The author collected seeds and sent them back to America, where they were grown.  Determined to secure Taraktogenos Kurzii, he left for Rangoon to inquire where the tree could be found.  The home of the genuine Chaulmoogra tree was in upper Chindwin District.  Mr. Rock started off once more to secure his prize.  His party took a train to Amarapura where they crossed the Irrawaddy to Sagaing, and thence by train over a semi-arid region to Monywa, on the upper Chindwin River.  Kalaw seeds were sold in the bazaars, but the author was told that they came down “from the north”.  Early next day, they left Monywa by boat on the picturesque river.  The water was low that season and, while aiding another boat that was grounded, they too got stuck.  They were taken ashore by rowboat until the boat was freed.  They halted at Kalewa, a bazaar town situated on an elevated tongue of land at the junction of the Myttha and the Chindwa.  At Kalewa was the 60-mile Chinhill road to Fort White.  At length, they arrived in Mawlaik, the government seat of the district.  Mr. Rock was informed that the Chaulmoogra forests were to be found several days journey from Mawlaik.

Provided with a Burmese letter addressed to the headmen of the villages through which he was to pass, the author started down the Chindwin in a dugout canoe.  After an hour, he met a village headman and, after reaching his village, the author hired about twenty coolies, mostly women, at a rate of less than two cents a mile each.  After two days march through dense forest and crossing the Khodan stream many times, they reached Khoung Kyew.  There the author found his first genuine Chaulmoogra tree, some miles distant from the village, but, alas, no fruit.  The headman told him that they had had a very poor crop, but a village some miles farther had had a good one.  The author sent his paper ahead by messenger, and when he arrived at Kyokta, they were expecting him.  The next day, he set out with 36 coolies.  They had a five- or six-mile walk, until they reached the Chaulmoogra forests.  There, they separated into smaller parties and the seed-collecting began in earnest.  Loaded with seeds, they started down the steep hillside.  When they reached the stream bed, they saw the tracks of a tiger that had followed them into the jungle.  They reached the village safely, and Mr. Rock immediately began to pack his seeds in powdered charcoal and oil paper to prevent the moisture from escaping; dried seeds didn’t germinate.  He had planned to leave the next day for Mawlaik, but was delayed due to the tiger.  It had attacked near the village during the night and needed to be hunted down and killed.  They built a trap and used human bait, one of its victims from the night before, to lure the beast.  That night, during a storm, a herd of elephants leveled much of the village, like a cyclone.  But the tiger was trapped, and then killed with spears.  Mr. Rock left for Kyokta that afternoon.  The dearly bought Chaulmoogra seeds were shipped to America, where they grew and were ready for transplant.  The demand for the ethyl esters was far greater than the supply, but in a few years that might be met by the trees growing as a plantation crop.  It would be eight years before the trees produced fruit.



The third item listed on the cover of this month’s issue is entitled “Amid the Snows of Switzerland” and has no byline.  It is a set of “Sixteen Full-Page Engravings” as stated on the cover. These engravings, formerly called photogravures, use metal plates etched to various depths.  Using special ink and paper, ink is applied to the plate and transferred to the paper.  The deeper the etch, the darker the shading.  This method is opposed to the dot-matrix method of shading, with small dots for light, and large ones for dark.



The fourth item (third article) listed on this month’s cover is entitled “The Hills of Burma” and was written by Sir George Scott, K.C.I.E., formerly British Commissioner, Anglo-Siamese and Burma-China Boundary Commissions, and Superintendent and Political Officer, Southern Shan States.  The internal title is longer and more descriptive: “Among the Hill Tribes of Burma – An Ethnological Thicket”.  The article contains twenty-two black-and-white photographs taken by the author, of which fourteen are full-page in size.  The article also references the sketch map in the preceding article.

About half-way up the railway from Rangoon to Mandalay was Toungoo (the Spur of the Hill).  It was the station where the hill line began to be noticeable.  It was the edge of the Shan plateau.  The plateau was a spur thrown out of the east end of the Himalayas.  The hills were heavily covered in jungle, and only the locals would call the hill roads, roads.  But it was that inaccessibility which had preserved, through the centuries, a collection of tribes found nowhere else on earth in so circumscribed an area.  The Karen Hills measured no more than seventy miles from north to south, and an average of thirty miles wide, but they had several scores of clans and tribes, each distrustful of the others.  Those Karen tribes did not grow opium.  Farther north the population was Shan, with an intervening zone of hybrid races.  From those regions descend the opium paths, which pass through the Karen Hills.  Those paths were not authorized, since the opium was all smuggled.  Progress over those paths was arduous, more gymnastics than walking or climbing.  Even those opium paths did not descend down the western slopes of the Karen Hills, they ran north to south.  It was impossible to reach the Hills by airplane, no landing areas larger than a croquet lawn existed.  To get there, one took the train to the edge of the plateau and marched south for 100 miles.  The climb up to the villages was akin to hard labor.  Animals were unreliable to carry luggage, so the author used coolies, hillmen not outside men.  The Karens of the hills were savages, but not cannibals or headhunters.  Sir George used beads, small mirrors, and glass bottles as barter.  He also traded rupees because the girls made necklaces of them.  There were a great many Karens in the main province of Burma, and they were referred to by their Burmese neighbors as White Karens.  They did not include the hill peoples, who were called Red Karens, for convenience’s sake.

The white Karen women were clean and neatly dressed.  The hill Karens, genuine Red or otherwise, were dirty, so dirty that they could not get any worse.  Some of them wore clothes that were old and tattered.  It reminded Sir George of the witches from “Macbeth”.  The Karens were the third most numerous population in Burma.  Naturally, the Burmese were the preponderating race.  Next came the Shans, or Tais, and after them the Karens, with an estimated population of well over one million.  Little was known about the origin of the Burmese and the Shans, but it was extensive compare to our information as to the source of the Karens.  The name Karen did not represent a nation, it was just the name the Burmese gave those people.  Their own origin stories offered little insight.  The White Karens’ version of creation and the fall of man paralleled Genesis, and the Red Karens’ version was simply a list of everything that Ya-pe (God) created.  These beliefs were probably influenced by China.  There were Jewish villages in various parts of China, and the ideas were curiously like biblical statements.  The Burmese believed that angels came down to earth and ate a kind of rice (the forbidden fruit) and couldn’t return to heaven, becoming men and women.  The Chins had a story of the Tower of Babel, and clans everywhere had a deluge legend.  The Kachins told a story of a bridge to the afterlife.  The Sgaw and Pwo of the plains were civilized.  The Bghai of the hills were isolated and very little changed.  The author observed that they were a good bit ahead of the caveman.  The Red Karens and Padaungs were a long way ahead of the others; they were civilized, and in the days before British occupation they were highly organized slave-traders.  They would raid the Shan States and sell their captives in Siam.  They also kidnapped Buddhist monks for ransom.  The White Karens of the plains were easily converted to Christianity.

Tribes could be divided according to clothes; the clans read like a table of fashion-plates.  The only visible distinction between one clan and another was the dress wore, especially by the women.  In one place the women wore a smock with red perpendicular lines.  In another there were no lines on the white blouse, but it was embroidered on the bottom.  Some men had red trousers, others white, and so forth.  That method of identifying clans by dress was not confined to the Karens.  The name of the Kachin tribes in the hills to the north were bewildering to the author, and the Chin clans were not much better to him.  The Burmese had their own, derogatory naming convention for the various clans.  In the hills there was more justification for that sort of thing than in the plains; peaks and gorges confined people to small areas, which, over time, led to the developing special village dialect.  There were striking physical differences between Red and White Karens in build and facial characteristics.  The White Karen was heavy, stolid, and much stockier than even a Burman.  He was bovine, suspicious, and without any sense of humor.  The Red Karen was of an entirely different physical type.  The men were small and wizened, but very wiry.  They had broad, reddish-brown faces and long heads, with oblique eyes.  They wore short trunks, a leather belt, and, in warm weather, a cloth wound around the head and nothing else.  The women wore a short, knee-length skirt, usually dark but occasionally red.  A broad piece of black cloth passed over the back across the right shoulder, and draped over the bosom, and confined at the waist by a white girdle, knotted in the front.  Around the waist and neck were ropes of beads.  A profusion of beads also decorated the leg just above the calf.  Silver earrings, some very large, were worn, and over the head was thrown a piece of black cloth with red tassels.  The author felt they would be really attractive, were it not for their “meaty” odor.

The Burmese were never able to overcome the Red Karens, though they made several attempts.  When the value of the Karen-ni teak timber became known, the Indian Government interfered, and by the treaty of Sir Douglas Forsyth the independence off the Karen-ni was guaranteed.  When the Burmese Kingdom ceased to exist, that independence was guaranteed by the Indian Government.  The five Karan-ni States remained under ruling chiefs, but under control of the Southern Shan States only technically outside British India.  For a time after the occupation of the Shan States the Red Karens gave some trouble.  Accordingly, a British column marched against them and the resistance collapsed with dramatic rapidity.  Since then, the Karens had given no trouble.  In the olden days, the Red Karen never left home without a sword, a gun, and a sheath of spears, or javelins.  The Karen spears have vanished.  The Red Karen remained a heavy drinker.  In addition to liking spirits from the still, the Red Karens were devotees of the spirits of the air, the flood, and the fell.  A few had become nominal Buddhists; some had even founded monasteries and built pagodas, but none of them gave up their belief in spirits.  The most obvious occasion for worship was when any of the family fell sick.  An animal was sacrificed and eaten.  In the old days, entire villages would hold large scale sacrifices before a raid against neighbors.  To decide where to build his village, or his home, the Red Karen consulted chicken bones.  The Red Karen villages were usually far up in the hills, and as much off the main roads, if those paths could be called roads, as possible.  They were surrounded by close fences of live bush and dry thorn branches and stakes.  The Karen-ni were firm believers in original sin.  Their pigs, oxen, and buffaloes were kept below their houses, which stood on piles.  They had plenty of timber, so their houses were made of wood, with thatched roofs.  The houses were solid, and lasted a long time.  The author felt that was a disadvantage; when he visited one, he couldn’t wait to get back to his tent.  Burning was only way to do spring cleaning in a Karen house.

The people had feasts, which consisted mainly in gorging fowls and pigs, and much drinking of spirits and dancing.  The Red Karen of 1922 was a very listless and apathetic person.  The elephant thieves and bandits had been suppressed.  Children were taught of work in infancy; and children were fed liquor.  The author found taking photographs of the villagers was not easy.  They were very distrustful of the “white magic”.  Of the tribes, the Padaungs were the least unwilling to have their likenesses taken.  They were remarkable because of the collar worn by the women.  Even in Burmese days, Padaung women were taken down to Mandalay to be gazed at by the king and his court.  They were also shown at other nobles’ and leaders’ villages, and had become accustomed to being photographed.  The women’s neckband was of brass rod, as thick as the little finger, with a wide base at the shoulder-blades and reaching up to the chin.  Little girls began with them as early as possible.  A count of twenty-one coils was the ordinary limit, with the record being twenty-five.  Brass coils were worn on the arms and legs of women as well.  The average weight carried was fifty or sixty pounds, with some managing seventy or eighty.  Burdened with that weight, they hoed the fields, carried water for domestic use, and went long distances to village markets to sell liquor.  They wore colored scarves, jumper coats with very short sleeves, and skirts which were really kilts, stopping above the knees and striped red and blue.  The necklaces were the usual kind, stones, coins, and beads.  The men were not nearly so picturesque.  They wore the baggy trousers and short coats of the Shans.  In remoter villages, they wore shorts and cane leg-rings.  The men wore anklets made of buttons and white seeds, and each carried a powder-and-shot case on his belt.

The Kekawngdu occupied a tract covering 150 square miles.  They were zealous agriculturists.  Every available nook of the valleys was terraced for irrigation.  They grew a good deal of cotton and made their clothes of it.  The average elevation was between three and four thousand feet, with peaks rising to five.  Their roads were broad and much used.  Pack bullocks were kept, and caravans went down to Toungoo on the railway.  The author considered them the “best of the hill races”.  Like all their neighbors, they were spirit-worshippers.  Some of the spirits were bad, some indifferent, and a few amiable.  The malignant ones were worshipped with sacrifices, the others with leisure and heavy drinking.  To the north of Padaung country – with the Karen State of Nawngpalai in between – was the Bre tract.  It was an emphatic jumble of hills.  The dress of the Bre men was more distinctive than of the Padaungs.  They wore a pair of short trousers, striped red and white.  A cotton blanket served for a coat, and their long black hair was tied into a knot.  On their legs they wore cotton cirlets below the knees with brass rings.  Many of them wore necklets of brass.  The dress of the women varied for the three groups, but the differences were not great.  The chief garment was a gaberdine, or poncho, with or without sleeves.  They also wore a short kirtle; it was red and blue in stripes.  The women of the northern section of the Bre tract had brass tubing coiled around the legs from ankle to knee and from above the knee to half-way up the thigh.  The southern Bre women were content with cotton coils instead of brass.  Both wore large brass hoops round the neck, and enormous ear-plugs through the lobes.  Their hair was tied in a knot at the back of the head.  They married young, 13 for the girls, 15 for the boys.  When a man married, he gave all his finery to his wife.  One could tell a bachelor by all the brass and ornaments he wore.  Both sexes stained their teeth black in a ceremony.  All the children in the village, at about age ten, were taken to a thicket at sunset.  They chewed thee leaves of a tree, called Thupo, all night.  In the morning, their teeth were inspected.

The rest of the Karen tribesmen of those hills formed much smaller groups, with their own distinct dialects, due to the rugged character of the country.  And they all, at least the women, had their distinct peculiarities in dress.  One thing was common to them all – the strictness of their rules of endogamy.  Only cousins or only the inhabitants of certain groups of villages could intermarry, arranged and approved by the elders of the village.  When a boy reached puberty, he moved into a barrack called the Bachelor Hall.  There he stayed until he was married.  The rules of intermarriage led to some extreme age differences, with 15-year-old boys marrying 70-year-old women and vice versa.  Marrying outside the village formerly was a capital offense; by 1922, the price was banishment.  There were two villages in the Nan-kwo circle inhabited by those eloping couples.  The Banyang, or Banyok Karens were, of all the clans, the most rigid in their endogamy.  Before British rule, the had a hill official called a Taung-sa, who selected couples to be married, one per year.  His “fee” was two pots of liquor.  The bridegrooms were often taken by force to the bridal chamber.  That was done by the Taung-sa’s police. Widows were required to remarry.  Since there was so much worry in marrying the people, it was not surprising that divorce was forbidden.  Deep down in the Paunglaung Valley on a river called the Sittang was a clan called the Mepu.  They were White Karens, and showed a link with the Sgaw and the Pwo.  There origin story implied that they were linked to the Chinese.


At the bottom of the last page of the third article in this issue (Page 321) there is a notice regarding change of address.  If a member wanted the magazine to be mailed somewhere else, the Society needed a month’s notice in advance, starting on the first of the month.  If a member wanted the May issue redirected, the Society needed to know by April first.


The fourth article this month is entitled “The Pueblo Bonito Expedition of the National Geographic Society” and was written by Neil M. Judd, Leader of the National Geographic Society’s Expeditions of 1921 and 1922.  The article contains ten black-and-white photographs, two of which are full-page in size.  The article also contains one sketch diagram of Pueblo Bonito.  This half-page diagram, together with a half-page photo, comprise the frontispiece for the article.

Pueblo Bonito was a pre-Columbian village, now in ruins, situated in northwestern New Mexico.  Its age was unknown, but the author hoped the answer would be found soon.  He believed, with some degree of certainty, that the village was occupied 1,000 years ago.  That aboriginal village, or apartment hotel, was a whole community in itself.  It covered a little more than three acres and sheltered between 1,200 and 1,500 individuals.  There were more than 300 rooms on the ground floor, and its outer walls were four or five stories tall.  The houses were terraced upward from the two inner plazas.  The modern pueblo of Acoma, southwest of Albuquerque, New Mexico, possessed several features closely paralleling those of Pueblo Bonito.  Acoma was the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the United States.  Its population was between 1,000 and 2,000 when the Spaniards first attacked it, in 1540.  The initial explorations, conducted during the summer of 1921, afforded a reasonably accurate view of Pueblo Bonito.  The building was semicircular.  It was 310 feet, north to south; its south face was 518 feet long.  Twenty circular kivas bordered the two open spaces where public ceremonies were enacted.  The clustered dwellings overlooking the courts furnished seating for gathered spectators.  One of the most important results of the first season’s work was identification of three distinct types of masonry employed in construction of the pueblo.  In the north and northwest sections of the ruins, dwellings with crude stonework were found.  They formed the nucleus of Pueblo Bonito.  Their builders were less artistic than the peoples that came later.  The outline of that more primitive settlement had not been wholly traced, owing to the fact that it was partially destroyed and built over.  An example of the second type of masonry showed blocks of sandstone rubbed, smooth on the face, laid in adobe mud, and chinked with innumerable small chips.  Walls of the later period were of laminated sandstone, laid close together, and frequently with larger blocks placed to form decorative bands.  Those variations of masonry show changes in style over time, indicating a long habitation.

The work of exploration, the digging into deep rooms, the ferreting of hidden facts, had its difficulties and its rewards.  The chief recompense was the satisfaction from adding a few sentences to the world’s history.  Fragments of information, constantly being uncovered, held one to task.  The deeper they dug, the harder and less safe it became.  Early spring months in desert canyons of the Southwest were notorious for their sandstorms.  Their camp was exposed to all the winds that blew.  In contrast, midsummer brought the rainy season, when everything got wet and soggy.  The sandstorms were a daily torment throughout the greater portion of the summer.  Nothing could escape that flour-like sand; it found its way into everything.  During the first weeks, before their tents arrived, sand showered down like a fog of pumice spewed out by old Katmai.  [See accounts of Mt. Katmai and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, National Geographic, February 1913, January 1917, February 1918, September 1921.]  Happily, the intensity of those periodic storms decreased as the season advanced.  Early and late each day had its own problems in the excavation work.  The Indians often rebelled, causing temporary mutinies.  Those were dissipated more than once with tobacco and candy.  On a sidenote about the Indians, the author stated that the Navaho had a belief that a man would go blind if he looked upon his wife’s mother.

The ancient Bonitians were agriculturists by choice – permanent habitations were erected only by sedentary, agriculturally inclined peoples – yet a portion of their food supply was obtained by hunting deer, antelope, and wild turkey.  They were true neighbors to each other and had developed the community spirit to a high degree.  Locked doors were unknown in Pueblo Bonito.  Construction of Pueblo Bonito was a community enterprise.  The garden plots tended by the menfolk were considered town property.  The whole village united in planting and harvesting the principal food crops.  Corn, beans, and squash were raised.  The village was governed by regularly chosen representatives, who met in the kivas.  The author didn’t know where the original settlers came from.  In lieu of definitive data, he relied on another source of information – the mythology of the inhabited Pueblo villages in New Mexico and Arizona.  During recent excavations at Hawikuh, remains were found of a still older ruin, with certain features similar to those of Chaco Canyon pueblos.  Acoma, on its lofty pedestal, held an important clue.  There were certain similarities between its dwellings and those of pueblo Bonito.  Or, perhaps, the answers to the origins might be found in Walpi, the most picturesque of the Hopi towns.  The Zuni workmen believed that Hopi peoples had built the great houses of Chaco Canyon.  The Navaho possessed a myth that their ancestors attacked Pueblo Bonito, driving out its inhabitants, who fled to Zuni.  It was hoped that those myths, together with the objects found buried beneath the crumbling walls of the “Beautiful Village” would help fill in the record of Pueblo Bonito, and in turn, its relationship to the human history of the New World.



The last article in this month’s issue is entitled “Fighting Insects with Airplanes” and was cowritten by C. R. Neillie and J. S. Houser.  It has a lengthy and descriptive internal subtitle “Account of the Successful Use of the Flying-Machine in Dusting Tall Trees Infested with Leaf-Eating Caterpillars”.  The article contains six black-and-white photographs, three of which are full-page in size, and one of those serves as a frontispiece for the article.

Heretofore, the usual method of controlling leaf eating insects affecting tall trees had been by the use of liquid poisons sprayed on the trees by means of engine-driven pumps.  However, the difficulties encountered in spraying very tall trees with liquids were legion.  It was labor intensive, and so slow that infested areas could not be treated in a timely manner.  Dusting by airplane at least gave promise, under some conditions, of overcoming a few of those difficulties.  Early in the spring of 1921, the authors began seeking the opportunity to conduct a practical test of the airplane as a distributor of insecticides.  Finally, a cooperative project was arranged with the officials of the Federal Aviation Experimental Station at McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio.  The officials gave the test priority over everything in the field for an entire day.  Those chiefly concerned were Major T. H. Bane, Director of McCook Field; Major H. S. Martin, Chief Engineer, and his assistant, Mr. E. Darmoy, who designed the hopper and who operated it in flight; Acting Chief of the Flying Section, who piloted the plane; and Captain A. W. Stevens, photographer.  Originally, it was planned to conduct the test in the spring of 1922 against the canker worm in the vicinity of Cleveland, Ohio, but as they completed work, a much better opportunity presented itself in the shape of an outbreak of the Catalpa Sphinx, a large night-flying moth, at Troy. Ohio, some twenty miles distant from Dayton.  The moth laid its eggs in pearly white masses on the leaves of the catalpa tree.  Those eggs hatched a few days later. The larvae fed upon the foliage.  Upon reaching maturity, the caterpillars passed to the ground, burrowed down about three inches, and transform into the pupal stage.  From those pupae emerged the adult moths.  It only took a month to go from egg to moth.  The previous year, there occurred in Ohio three broods of the caterpillars numerous enough to defoliate the grove in which they appeared.  Some groves put out three full crops of foliage, and each, in turn, was wholly consumed by the ravenous worms.  The project’s work was directed against the second brood of caterpillars working on the second crop of foliage.

The plane used was a Curtis JN6 equipped with a hopper for carrying and liberating the poison powder.  The hopper was secured to the fuselage by the side of the observer’s seat.  It was a metal box with a capacity of holding a little more than 100 pounds of dry arsenate of lead powder.  At the bottom was a sliding gate operated by handle accessible to the observer.  A crank connected to a revolving mechanism dropped the poison powder through the opened gate.  Immediately upon leaving the hopper, the dust dropped into the “slip steam”, the violent air current set up by the revolving propellors. The catalpa grove to be dusted was situated on level ground, and had been planted for the growing of post and pole timber.  It was around six acres in size, being an 800-foot by 325-foot rectangle.  The 4,815 trees were from 25 to 30 feet tall.  The poison was applied between 3 and 4 o’clock on the afternoon of August 3, 1921, under almost ideal weather conditions, with a steady wind varying from eight and eleven miles per hour.  The direction of the wind was indicated by the arrows on the photographs taken.  The plane flew at a speed of eighty miles an hour at an altitude of from 20 to 35 feet, and in a line 53 yards to the windward and parallel to the grove.  In all, the dusting plane passed the grove six times and distributed about 175 pounds of the poison.  Each pass took nine seconds, so the total time of actual work was 54 seconds.  The clouds of poison settle evenly on all the trees in the grove, and a little beyond.  Each tree was checked and confirmed to be treated.  By using larger hoppers, groves could be treated with fewer passes.  The fear before the test was that the dust would be blown around willy-nilly, but the results spoke for themselves.  Large sheets had been spread beneath the trees to record the dead caterpillars as they fell.  Even with dying larvae crawling off, five square feet of one sheet had 100 dead insects counted.  Careful investigation revealed that only 1% of the caterpillars in the trees remained alive.  The authors called the test a success and theorized its use for other crops like cotton and fruit orchards.



Tom Wilson

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