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    Naturevolume 115pages814816 (1925) | Download Citation



    STENCIL IN FIJI.—Mr. Henry Balfour offers an attractive suggestion as to the origin of the art of stencil in Fiji in vol. 54, Part 2, of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. In patterning the borders of bark cloth the Fijian woman used a strip of banana leaf in which a pattern had been cut to make a stencil. Stencil is very rare among primitive peoples, and certainly does not occur elsewhere in the South Pacific. It was not introduced into Fiji by immigrants, nor is it probable that it was a heritage from the Melanesian stock, otherwise it would be found among other members of that stock. It must therefore be an indigenous development. If so, the idea of using perforated leaves may have been suggested by leaves naturally perforated by the larvæ of an insect. Bamboo leaves collected in the Naga Hills, which have been thus perforated before unfolding, exhibit resemblances to some of the Fijian patterns. These are always displayed transversely and never along the leaf, in exactly the same way as the perforation due to insect action. If correct, this explanation points to independent invention of the art of stencil in the Pacific and in Asia and Europe.

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