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THE fourth number of the Zeitschrift für Ethnologie for the present year begins with Dr. A. Erman's concluding part of his “Ethnological Observations on the coasts of Behring's Sea.” He draws attention to the bold and often successful surgical treatment which was found to have been practised by the Aleutians when they were first visited by Europeans. The influence exerted by the Russians on these primitive people has tended to make them conceal, or even gradually relinquish the practice of many of their old national habits, and, amongst other usages, they have almost wholly given up their heroic surgical operations. Dr. Erman met, however, with one skilled Aleutian operator, from whom he learned many particulars in regard to the native practice of his art. It would appear that their variously-sized lancets are formed of finely-polished and sharply-edged flakes of obsidian. With these instruments bleeding in the leg as well as the arm is performed, and incisions made in various parts of the body, including the thoracic walls, for the purpose of removing blood or pus, in cases of their effusion into the cavity of the pleura, or in pulmonary disease. But although we are told that this practice is not found to be attended with any dangerous results, we are not informed how the injurious effect of any possible admission of air into the chest is guarded against. The Aleutians exhibit great dexterity in removing various parts of the bodies of whales, and of sea-lions and other seals which they have killed, as, for instance, the mucous membrane of the neck, without in any way injuring the contiguous parts. And they show wonderful skill in fabricating from such membranes thoroughly water-proof and highly elastic coverings for the feet and legs, as well as those invaluable rowing dresses known as “Kamlejkes,” which, when I drawn over the head and upper part of the body and fastened down to the rowing seat, enable the Aleutian in his one-holed baidurka to bid defiance to the fiercest storm and roughest sea. Unlike their neighbours, the Kamtschadales, who, in their aversion to come in contact with a corpse, throw their dead to their dogs to be devoured and removed from sight, the Aleutians devote much time and care to the preservation of the body after death. This they do so effectually that they can keep the corpse in their dwellings for more than a fortnight without causing injury or annoyance to the living, while long after death the features and external appearance of the deceased remain unchanged. Dr. Erman supplies us with many valuable additions to our knowledge of the social habits, taste for ornamentation, traditional lore, language, &c., of the Aleutians. In counting the Aleutian employs 20 as his highest numeral, making all larger quantities dependent upon that number; thus, 40, 60, &c., are respectively 2, 3, &c., twenties.—In the second paper of the Zeitschrift, Dr. Robert Hartmann continues his careful summary of the remains of Swiss Lacustrine dwellings, passing in review the principal mammals represented in the deposits, and entering fully into the often-discussed question whether the diluvial Cave bear (Ursus spelœus), is identical in species with our common bear (U. arctos) or whether and to what extent it differs from it. Dr. Hartmann seems disposed in this inquiry to regard the question of identity as possessing strong claims to probability, although there may not be sufficient ground at present to answer it affirmatively.—“The Nirvana and Buddhistic Morality” forms the title of a very comprehensive paper by A. Bastian, which treats very fully of the principles on which the faith of Buddha is based, the ideas underlying the various forms which it has assumed, and the special phases of human thoughts and feelings to which it more particularly addresses itself.—In a paper by G. Rohlfs, entitled “Henry Noël, of Bagermi,” the writer gives an account of the kingdom of Bagermi, which is situated on the N. E. of Lake Tsad, in Central Africa. The Bagermi people are a pure Ethiopian race, who, in point of moral and intellectual capacity, may be said to form the link between the most highly-developed negro kingdoms, and the numerous small negro states, lying to the S. of them, of which we do not even know the names. The King and Court of Bagermi, after a temporary adhesion to Islamism, have relapsed into their old Fetish worship, in which trees appear to form the principal objects of adoration. The practice of taking sisters and daughters in marriage prevails in the reigning family; but, while the rich indulge extensively in polygamy, poor men take only one wife.—Dr. Behrnauer, of Dresden, gives a résumé of an official paper by the Assistant-Resident, Herr J. Riedel, of Batavia, on the geographical, topographical, and geological character of the districts of Holontalo, Limœto, Bone, Boalemo, and Kattingola or Andagile in the Celebean Isthmus of the Eastern Archipelago. To this is appended much useful information in regard to the statistical, historical, and social condition of these countries, from which, however, we are not led to form a favourable opinion of the character, either of the Aborigines or of the Chinese and other foreign settlers. There are different grades of nobility, and till lately slavery and the slave-trade were allowed. Opium is undermining the health and vigour of the upper classes, and the poor are sunk in misery in the midst of an abundant vegetation, and with numerous sources of wealth around them; the mountains and river beds being rich in minerals. On the banks of the river Lonœo lumps of gold have from time to time been found as large as a hen's egg.—The last paper in this number of the Zeitschrift that we can notice is one by Herr Neumayer on the intellectual and moral qualities of the native Australians.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/005092b0

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