The Zambesi and Its Tributaries

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There must [says Livingstone] be something in the appearance of white men frightfully repulsive to the unsophisticated natives of Africa; for on entering villages previously unvisited by Europeans, if we met a child coming quietly and unsuspectingly toward us, the moment he raised his eyes and saw the men in "bags," he would take to his heels in an agony of terror, such as we might feel if we met a live Egyptian mummy at the door of the British Museum. Alarmed by the child’s wild outcries, the mother rushes out of the hut, but darts back again at the first glimpse of the fearful apparition. Dogs turn tail and scour off in dismay, and hens, abandoning their chickens, fly screaming to the tops of the houses.3

The standard of perfection in color [among the Malays] is virgin gold, and as a European lover compares the bosom of his mistress to the whiteness of snow, the East Insular lover compares that of his to the yellowness of the precious metal.4

The negroes, who generally imagine the devil to be white, consider a black, shiny skin, thick lips, and flattened noses as the type of beauty.1

The children that are born [in Malabar] are black enough, but the blacker they be the more they are thought of; wherefore from the day of their birth their parents do rub them every week with oil of sesame, so that they become as black as devils. Moreover, they make their gods black and their devils white, and the images of their saints they do paint black all over.2

[A servant of the king of Cochin, China] spoke with contempt of the wife of the English ambassador, that she had white teeth like a dog, and a rosy color like that of potato flowers.3

Ask a northern Indian what is beauty, and he will answer, a broad fiat face, small eyes, high cheekbones, three or four broad black lines across each cheek, a low forehead, a large broad chin, a clumsy hook nose, a tawny hide, and breasts hanging down to the belt.4

3Livingstone, D.n/an/an/an/an/a, , 181.

4 Crawfurd, J., History of the Indian Archipelago, 1: 23.

1 Moore, F., Travels into the Inland Parts of Africa, 93.

2 Marco Polo, The Book of Marco Polo Concerning the Kingdoms and Marvels of the East, Book III, Chap. XVIII.

3 Waitz, T., Anthropologie der Naturvölker, I: 105.

4 Hearne, S., A Journey from Prince of Wales’s Fort (ed. 1796), 89.

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Chicago: The Zambesi and Its Tributaries in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed September 22, 2023,

MLA: . The Zambesi and Its Tributaries, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 22 Sep. 2023.

Harvard: , The Zambesi and Its Tributaries. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 22 September 2023, from