Plumes from Paradise: Trade Cycles in Outer Southeast Asia and Their Impact on New Guinea and Nearby Islands Until 1920

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Sydney University Press, 2017 - HISTORY - 351 pages
"The natural resources of New Guinea and nearby islands have attracted outsiders for at least 5000 years: spices, aromatic woods and barks, resins, plumes, sea slugs, shells and pearls all brought traders from distant markets. Among the most sought-after was the bird of paradise. Their magnificent plumes bedecked the hats of fashion-conscious women in Europe and America, provided regalia for the Kings of Nepal, and decorated the headdresses of Janissaries of the Ottoman Empire. Plumes from Paradise tells the story of this interaction, and of the economic, political, social and cultural consequence for the island's inhabitants. It traces 400 years of economic and political history, culminating in the 'plume boom' of the early part of the 20th century, when an unprecedented number of outsiders flocked to the island's coasts and hinterlands. The story teems with the variety of people involved: New Guineans, Indonesians, Chinese, Europeans, hunters, traders, natural historians and their collectors, officials, missionaries, planters, miners, adventurers of every kind. In the wings were the conservationists, whose efforts brought the slaughter of the plume boom to an end and ushered in an era of comparative isolation for the island that lasted until World War II."--

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