NOTES ON SOME MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE ABORIGINES
McDONNELL RANGES BELONGING TO THE ARUNTA TRIBE.
F. J. GILLEN,
Special Magistrate and Sub-Protector of Aborigines, Alice Springs.
[Extracted from Horn's Report on the Work of the Horn Scientific Expedition to
Central Australia, London, 1896, pt. 4, Anthropology, 161-96.
Note: In my copy some of the plates are missing.]
|Social Organization of the Tribe||...............................................||162|
|Forbidden Degrees of Kindred||...............................................||166|
|Naming of Children||...............................................||167|
|The Rites of Circumcision and Subincision||...............................................||169|
|Quaapara or Corrobboree||...............................................||175|
|(a) Food Producing. Intichiuma||...............................................||176|
|(b) Rain Producing||...............................................||177|
|Churina. Sacred Stones and Sticks||...............................................||179|
|Restrictions as to Food||...............................................||180|
|Making of Medicine-Men||...............................................||180|
|Blood as a Therapeutic Agent||...............................................||181|
|Customs of War||...............................................||182|
|Beliefs and Superstitions||...............................................||183|
|Tradition of Origin of the Race||...............................................||184|
|Tradition of Origin of Fire||...............................................||185|
|Knocking out of Tooth||...............................................||186|
|Head-rings.—Perforation of the Nasal Septum||...............................................||186|
|Explanation of Plates||...............................................||187|
The Arunta tribe is divided into groups or subdivisions, each being governed by an Alartunja or chief ruler. The subdivision of which I write particularly is known as the Arunta-Ilpma.1 The position may be hereditary and, in the case of this particular group, the title has descended in the direct line for four generations. The Alartunja, however, when dying, or when too old to lead, can nominate the relative he considers most fitted to do so. The Arunta tribe is scattered over a great extent of country east and west and north and south of Alice Springs. The boundaries of the dominion of each Alartunja are clearly understood, and all disputes are, within them, settled by him. In the case of the tribe being menaced by an enemy, the Alartunjas consult together and agree upon a leader, who for the time being is supreme. Occasionally the groups fight amongst themselves.
Social Organisation of the Tribe and Some Laws Relating thereto.
The McDonnell Range tribe of which I am writing is divided into four classes,
viz., Panunga, Purula, Pultarra, and Kumarra.2 The Panunga and Purula classes
intermarry, but neither may marry nor cohabit with a Pultarra or Kumarra; these
two latter classes intermarry. Any native breaking the class laws does so at the
risk of his or her life. I have known instances where a breach of these laws
was punished by death or severe mutilation. The women, especially, are severely
dealt with, their lives not being considered of so much value as those of the
The most contemptuous term in the native tongue is "eterkay" which signifies an adulterer or prostitute, or one who cohabits within the forbidden degrees or classes.
A Panunga man marries a Purula woman; the offspring (amba kwerka) is
A Purula man marries a Panunga woman; the offspring is Kumarra.
A Kumarra man marries a Pulturra woman; the offspring is Purula.
A Pulturra man marries a
Kumarra woman; the offspring is Panunga.
The Kumarra and Purula are always separated from the Panunga and Pultarra in camp, and, if the camping ground happens to be on a creek, the two camps are formed on opposite sides, but even in the open plain there is a clear line of separation.
At every camp there is a meeting ground (Un-unkuncha) set apart, where the men assemble to hold social converse. No lubra must intrude upon this spot, whether the men are present or not. The lubras, also, have at each camp a general meeting place, which they call erlukwerra; here all the unattached women and children of the tribe camp together. No man would think of visiting this camp; it is, in fact, sacred against intrusion from male adults, though children are allowed to go anywhere.
Kumarra and Purula women are allowed to talk to Panunga and Pultarra men. Panunga and Pulturra women speak with Purula and Kumarra men.
Where the head of a family is Panunga (his lubra, of course, being Purula), men of the Panunga and Pulturra castes may visit his camp (mirra), but no man of Kumarra or Purula castes may do so. Women of the Purula and Kunjarra3 castes may visit the mirra at any time, so also may the sister of the man if she be older, but not otherwise. Panunga women may also visit the mirra during the absence of the man.
Pulturra women, being mura, to the Panunga man, must not visit his mirra under any circumstances, nor must they come anywhere near it.
When a Purula is head of a family (his wife being a Panunga) his mirra is visited only by men of the Purula and Kumarra classes. Pultarra and Panunga women visit at any time, and a Purula woman may visit in his absence. A Kumarra woman may not visit at all, she being mura.
A Pultarra husband and Kumarra wife are visited by Panunga and Pulturra men only. Purula and Kumarra women visit at any time; Pulturra women only [p.164] in the absence of the husband (ertwaa), A Panunga woman may not visit at all, she being mura,
A Kumarra husband and Pultarra wife are visited by Purula and Kumarra males only. Pultarra and Panunga women visit at any time; Kumarra women only in the absence of the husband. A Purula woman may not visit at all, she being mura.
The law with reference to the privilege of elder sisters applies to all classes.
No man may speak to, look at, or go anywhere near a woman of the class to which the mother of his wife, or wives, belongs. All women of this class are mura to him. The same law applies to the women—that is to say she must not speak to, look at, or go near any man of the class from which the husband of a daughter would be drawn. This law is strictly carried out even now. A man or woman mura to each other will make a detour of half a mile rather than risk getting within distinguishing distance of the features.
There is no limit to the number of wives a man may have; I knew one to possess
seven. Marriage by arrangement is the law, and the rule, in this section of the
tribe, though infringements occasionally occur, as for instance by stealing or
taking forcible possession, in which case the man has to take the consequences
of his act.
Occasionally wives are taken from their husbands by men of another group of the same tribe. When this happens a fight invariably ensues, and the woman remains with the victor.
Young girls are sometimes handed over to their assigned husbands when not more than nine or ten years old, but this only occurs when the husband is a single man (ungunjipinnd), The girl inhabits the same wurley (mirra) as the man, but does not cohabit until she has attained to puberty. As soon as the union has been consummated, the mother of the girl must be informed, and the young woman must no longer enjoy the privilege of speaking to her father. She is now unawa unkathinna—a wife and married woman. A married man is known as opmirunga.
A man may, if he pleases, make a present of his wife to another man of his class. This is frequently done.
a wife is frequently punished by cauterizing the vulva in a
As a general rule a young girl remains in her father's camp until her breasts are well developed. If she has been assigned to a man, he is then invited to take her without further ceremony. In the rare cases where the girl has not been assigned or, if the intended husband, perhaps a member of a distant group, be not available, she is sent to the lubras' camp (erlukwerra). Here are camped all the unattached females of the tribe. It very often happens that this girl has been given to a man who already possesses one or more wives, and these sometimes strenuously object to a further addition. In such a case, rather than disturb the harmony of his domestic life, the peace-loving blackfellow sends the girl to the erlukwerra, where she awaits his pleasure. Being still a single girl, she is known as erlukwurrurina.
The possible daughters of unmarried women are generally assigned, it may be years, before birth, so that it often happens that a woman is mother-in-law (tualcha-mura) to a man before she has a child, but whenever the female child is born she belongs irrevocably to the man to whom she has been assigned.
The mother-in-law is obliged to furnish the man who marries her eldest daughter, or the man to whom this daughter is assigned, with all her spare hair for the purpose of making string for his head-dress or waist-girdle (uleara). She must not give her hair to anyone, nor must the actual or prospective son-in-law accept hair from any other woman. This offering of hair is generally made with some little ceremony by the father-in-law, or, if the mother-in-law be a widow, it is delivered through the daughter.
Amongst the southern portion of this tribe when a girl is old enough to enter into sexual relations with her assigned husband, and when he has expressed a wish to cohabit with her, she is taken into the bush by the men of her husband's class and then forcibly held down by four men, while a flat piece of wood with a blunt point at each end, prepared for the occasion, is thrust into the vagina. This operation being completed, the men in turn have connection with the girl, who is then instructed to go to her husband's camp, where he awaits her arrival, having remained there while the brutal programme is taking place. Here, at Alice Springs, the practice is less brutal, for though a stick is sometimes used, it is the husband who performs the operation in his own camp, and he alone has the subsequent relations.
Forbidden Degrees of Kindred.
A man may marry as many of his wife's sisters (tribal) as he can secure.
He may not marry, or even speak to, his mother-in-law; nor can he marry the sister of his wife's father or mother. For example, if I am a Papunga man my wife must be a Purula woman. The mother of a Purula woman is a Pultarra and the father is a Kumarra—that is, the father and mother of my wife, and consequently their sisters, belong to classes with which I cannot intermarry.
A man may speak to his mother at all times, but he may not speak to his sister if she be younger than himself—of course this prohibition only applies to grown up men and women.
A father (okniea) may not speak to his daughter (kwiai okatchi, girl child) after she becomes a woman. She may visit his camp at night and talk to her mother apart, but father and daughter must not look at each other.
When the sisters are older than the brothers they are known as kungari, and have the privilege of speaking to their brothers at all times; but a younger sister, oknaitcha, may not speak to or look at her brother after both are grown up.
When a child is about to be born, the woman leaves her own camp and goes to the
erlukwerra (camp of the single women), where she remains for three or four
weeks after childbirth. The father is not permitted to see the child until the
mother returns to his camp.
Abortion is frequently produced by tying a belt tightly round the waist.
This is a common practice when the children arrive at short intervals, but healthy male children are spared if it be possible to rear them. A mother with a child of eighteen months seldom undertakes to rear a girl infant; she considers that she cannot attend to two babies at once, and calmly sacrifices the last arrival by choking it with sand. Children are suckled up to the age of three years. I have only known of one case of twins—half castes4—both of which were destroyed.
Naming of Children.
Young native children are named after animals or parts of animals, trees, bushes, inanimate things, natural features and personal peculiarities. This name may be, and is usually, kept, but if a personal characteristic should develope later, they are often re-named, the original being dropped. A child born with a deformed foot would bear through life the name Inga kurta kurta (crooked-foot); cross-eyed children—rare occurrences—are invariably called Alkna kurta kurta (crooked eyes); well-fingered children are similarly named (Arroka) after the deformity. A man or woman with a remarkably long foot would be known as uga alputva (long foot), and left-handed persons are called Akwaa thaka (left-handed).
When a man dies the father of the deceased throws himself on to the body, where
he is cruelly beaten by the old women of the tribe, who attack him savagely with
yam-sticks (atuimma). He receives their attacks without defence or
remonstrance and, to all appearance, is too much overcome with grief to be
capable of experiencing physical pain. The men of the class of the deceased
destroy their weapons and even their clothing.
As a sign of mourning the natives of both sexes paint their bodies with white clay (kaolin) and plaster their hair with the same material.
When a Panunga man dies all the men of the Kumarra class cut themselves on the shoulders and sometimes on the legs with stone knives. In addition to this two Kumarras stand out and belabour each others' heads in turn with yam-sticks (atnimma) until one or both are unable to bear any more; the wonder is that they can bear so much, for their heads present an awful spectacle.
On the death of a Kumarra the Panungas mourn for him in the same manner. A Pultarra is similarly mourned for by the Purulas, who in turn are mourned for by the Pultarras.
When a woman dies her mother mutilates herself horribly with a stone knife, and submits to being mercilessly beaten about the head by two women of her own class; for instance, if a Panunga woman dies her mother—a Kumarra—mutilates herself and is beaten by two Kumarra women.
A man goes into mourning for his wife by painting his body, but there is no mutilation, nor do the other men of the tribe paint themselves in any way.
When a husband dies the widow (inperla) paints herself all over the body with
powdered pipeclay (generally white, but sometimes yellow), her hair and face are
also painted. She is supposed to continue the use of pipeclay for about a year,
during which time she must be careful not to exhibit herself to any man of the
tribe, except to her own sons, unless at a considerable distance. She must be
particularly careful to avoid the brother of her deceased husband, who would be
justified in killing her, at sight, for the wilful breach of this law.
During her period of mourning the widow attends to the grave of deceased, keeps the ground clear around it by sweeping, and sometimes decorates it with quartz and pebbles. After the lapse of about a year the blacks take the widow and the dead man's brother, if he have one, to the grave, where the former deposits a number of wallaby and kangaroo bones. She prostrates herself on the grave, rubs off the pipeclay and then paints herself all over with red ochre. She is now taken charge of by her brother-in-law, who henceforth will be to her as a fraternal guardian. Some considerable time must elapse before the widow may take another husband, and in the meantime strict chastity is enforced. An applicant for her hand must first ask the brother-in-law guardian, who, if favourably inclined, will lay the matter before the men of the interested class, and they decide as they think best. If they say yes, the woman is taken at once, without consideration of her own wishes; if, as sometimes happens, she resists, she is cruelly beaten and cut about. She has no appeal against the will of her lord and master, and it is her duty to render absolute obedience to the man to whom she has been allotted. As a general rule she makes an obedient wife, though in rare instances she "wears the breeches'' and keeps her lord and master in subjection.
When a warrior is dying the men in camp throw themselves on the body and howl piteously; death is very often precipitated by this practice.
On the occurrence of a death a grave is dug immediately, and interment takes
place within an hour of the decease.
The body is doubled up and placed, in a sitting position, in the grave (ippiria) which is generally a round hole.
A dead native's name is never mentioned by the blacks, and the older men will not even look at the photograph of a deceased person.
The Rites of Circumcision and Subincision.—Lartna and Arrilta.
When a youth (ulpmerka) is to be operated upon he is taken away from the camp,
on some pretext or other, early in the morning of the day upon which the
all-important ceremony is to begin. Food has previously been collected in some
quantity, and during the day the natives in camp employ their time preparing
this, occasionally varying the monotony by chanting a corrobboree (quaapara), to
which the lubras only dance. At sundown the boy is brought back to camp still
unconscious of what is in store for him, and is persuaded by some of the
bachelor young men to camp with them for the night. The camp is full of
suppressed excitement, no other native rite excites so much interest. In the
middle of the night, the brother of the ulpmerka or, in the absence of a
brother, some male relative, after assuring himself that the ulpmerka is sound
asleep, proceeds to awaken the sleeping members of the tribe, care being taken
not to disturb the youth. When all are awake, the natives assemble quietly in
the centre of the camp, all being provided with corrobboree wands, the lubras
separate and stand in silence, while the men clear off the grass and otherwise
prepare the chosen spot (appula). When this is done all sit down, three men and
two young girls are then sent to awaken the victim and bring him before the
assembly. The two girls take the lead, each carrying an alparra (a scooped out piece of wood used for
carrying food and water), creep stealthily towards the sleeping boy and rouse
him suddenly by striking him sharply with their alparras, at the same time they
sing out "lit-chai!" The boy, startled and dazed, springs to his feet;
is quickly seized by the three men who are in close attendance, who tell him
that the time has arrived when he should no longer be a mere ulpmerka. The
assembled natives, as soon as they hear the "ut-chai" of the lubras, start
singing and dancing, the men sing and the women dance. The boy is at once taken
to the centre of the assembly, his hair is for the first time tied up at the
back; previous to this, as an ulpmerka, his hairdressing must be confined to a
knob in front. A belt woven from human hair is wound round his waist, the
singing continuing while the boy is being decorated with the first emblems of
approaching manhood (ertwa kuka).
He is now taken away to a specially prepared camp by certain elderly members of the tribe, chosen for the purpose, who carefully paint and decorate him with the down of the eagle-hawk (Aquila audax) which is made to adhere to the skin with warm blood drawn from the urethra of one of the performers. Next morning the youth is taken back to the centre of the assembly, where he is placed alone and standing. Carrying fire-sticks, they place rings, woven of fur and vegetable down, [p.170] round the boy's neck and arms, and sometimes over and under the shoulder; the fire-sticks are then handed to him, the lubras saying: "Take care of the fire; keep to your own camp." He is then taken into the bush, where he is carefully guarded until evening, when he is brought back and again placed in the centre of the assembly, where he lies down and listens to the weird music of his kindred for half the night. This kind of programme continues for three or four nights, until the victim is in a state of nervous exhaustion and the other members of the tribe are beginning to feel worn out with their exertions; for, from the time of seizure of the boy until now, the corrobboree has been almost continuous.
On the day upon which the operation is to take place a number of the men leave the camp at mid-day and return later in the afternoon, concealing in their approach the ulpmerka, who follows in their rear. During the day spears are struck vertically into the ground in two nearly parallel rows (arachitta) and these are bedecked with gum leaves (Plate XVI., Fig. 21). Between the lines a sunken path is carefully prepared and swept. Notice of the approach of the boy is given to the lubras some time during the afternoon, when these immediately assemble between the lines, dance to the chanting of some men told off for the purpose, and strip the leaves off the spears (Plate XVI., Fig. 23). This dance is called "unthippa." Presently the blacks who are bringing in the boy are heard to approach, chanting a quaapara in warlike tones; each man is armed with a piece of green gum bark, which he throws at the dancing group of lubras as he approaches, still singing. The throwing of the bark, which sometimes effects nasty wounds, is the signal for the lubras to disperse and return to their camp, these being of course out of sight of the quaapara ground. The lubras being well out of view, the boy is brought in and placed at the narrower end of the lines, where a small shelter of green branches has been erected (Plate XVI., Fig. 22); the old paint and decorative designs are rubbed off, and the victim is painted anew with red and yellow ochre mixed with fat. No human or other blood is used. The youth is now left to chew the cud of reflection until nearly sundown, the men chanting, from time to time, at the other end of the lines, but meanwhile keeping a keen eye on their victim. Their spare time is taken up in elaborate additions to their toilet in the shape of red and yellow ochre and powdered charcoal. About sundown the lubras are invited to come back, and they take up a position standing on each side of the sunken path, while the men, who remain sitting, knock their shields on the ground several times, chanting noisily the while. Two men then jump up suddenly; one goes to the right and takes up a position on the side of the trench at its middle, the other man a corresponding position on the opposite side.
For a moment or two they remain facing one another and then run quickly to
where the boy is concealed, the brake of boughs is thrown aside and the boy
exposed to view. He now joins the other two blacks, and the three, advancing on
all-fours and jumping like kangaroos, but in perfect silence, start down the
line for the opposite or wider end. When they get about half-way the boy goes on
alone while the two men diverge, go outside of the lines and make a circuit
before rejoining their fellows. The boy continues his kangaroo-like progress keeping
to the centre of the sunken track until he collides with a man on the edge of
the assembly who is placed there. This man, who has until now been seated, rolls
over on to his back and lies quite still; the boy immediately lies on the top
of him; perfect silence is maintained and every face is lit up with interest.
The old warrior who directs the ceremony now calls two old lubras, who come,
evidently considering themselves highly honoured, and these at once begin to
rub the paint on the boy's back as he lies upon the recumbent blackfellow. When
the old women have completed their task, a number of the men scatter out into
the darkness, where they decorate themselves by tying to their ankles and calves
long sticks, to which branches of gum trees have been tied. These sticks, from
eight feet long, run up in front of the arms, by which they are grasped to the
side of the body. They are prepared during the day out of sight of the lubras.
When thus decorated the men return and general dancing takes place, in which the sexes intermingle. The lubras, as they dance, strip the leaves off the sticks attached to the legs and work themselves into a wild state of excitement, singing,
At-nin-tu nippira ka perkaa-a-a
Ok naar inta
Yur a puncha kwi
Yur a puncha kwi
while the males remain comparatively calm. When this remarkable stripping-dance begins the ulpmerka gets off the blackfellow and sits up watching the dance. Suddenly the dance ceases, and the noise of a humming-stick or bull-roarer (irula) wielded by some man a little distance off, warns the lubras and children to retire to their camps; this they do without a moment's delay. No lubra or picaninny of either sex is ever allowed to see the humming-sticks. Only those who have attained to the degree of Ertwa kurka—that is to say, of perfect manhood—are allowed to look upon the sacred "Irular." So soon as all lubras and children are out of sight a large fire is made, around which all the men congregated. One warrior produces a fighting shield, "Alkivurta" (generally made from the light elastic wood of Stuart's Bean Tree), and, kneeling [p.172] on one knee holds the shield over his head. Two men then seize the ulpmerka, who generally goes quietly, and place him in the hollow of the shield, where he is held by two others. The operating "medicine-man," railtchawa, seizes the penis, saying, "Etrirra itchela warai wula nin ippira twa-el amonga"—("Don't be frightened, you will be a man directly"). The glans penis is then pushed back with the finger, the foreskin is pulled forwards and stretched as tightly as possible, and then quickly hacked off with a small stone knife (see explanation to Plate XVII.). While the operation is being performed the warriors who surround the subject sing in fierce tones, the beards being pushed between the teeth:—
Irri yulta yulta rai
Ul katchera ill katch ar-rai
Irri yulta yulta rai
Ul katchera iil katch ai.5
The patient rarely displays any emotion under the knife. In the many instances
I have witnessed I have never heard a boy cry out; the most I could detect was
a slight shudder at the contact of the knife. The subject, having undergone this
operation of circumcision (lartna) is no longer an ulpmerka, but becomes known
as an arrakurta.
After the operation he sits in a dazed state for a few minutes while he receives the congratulations of the warriors, and is then taken to the bush by some relation or friend told off for the purpose, where he must remain in retirement until the wound heals. He is furnished with a bundle of large irula (not used for making a humming noise), which he carries with him and which are bestowed in order to promote speedy recovery. These sticks belong to the class of objects known as Churima, which will be dealt with in a separate section. He must not on any account be seen by a women of the tribe during his convalescence, and the women are careful to avoid the quarter in which the arrakurta is supposed to be located. The wound generally takes from six to eight weeks to heal.
Before the arrakurta can be admitted to the full privileges of manhood he must further undergo the operation of "Arrilta" or subincision, one of the most painful and brutal practices I have ever witnessed. [p.173] When the guardian of the arrakurta reports that his ward has sufficiently recovered from the circumcision, the men assemble and sing a certain corrobboree known as the "Arrilta."
Unkirra nierlu merlu
Unkirra merlu merlu
Arrilta kupari aani.
The arrakurta is brought into a spot, some distance from the main camp, where the operation is to take place. A large spear is swathed in the twigs and leaves of green bushes, then the human hair-string of the girdles of the warriors is wound round its full length, with the exception of a few inches at the end, which are stuck into the ground; a bunch of feathers of the eagle-hawk (Aquila audax) (iritcha) is fastened to the top, and the whole surface is decorated with alternate rings of red and white downy material obtained from certain plants,6 and a number of irula are tied to the pole. When this pole, which is called tiariunja (Plates XVII. and XVIII., Figs. 25 and 26), is erected, the men congregate around it and sing the arrilta corrobboree periodically all night. No woman of the tribe is allowed within sight of the camp, nor may she under penalty of death look upon the "nartunja." The operation is nearly always performed at daylight, when the arrakurta is suddenly seized and placed on the back of a man, who lies down for the purpose. Another man takes up a position astride of the subject, grasps the glans penis, and puts the urethra on the stretch. The operator, who is often, but not always, chief of a group, then approaches, and with his stone knife quickly but carefully lays open the urethra from below for the whole length of the penis (Plate XVIII., Fig. 26). The operation is a very painful one and sometimes the patient struggles violently, in which wise the warriors say: "Amba kwerka etrirra warri inthilla" ("You are not a child now, don't be frightened, don't cry out"). The father of the boy (okniea) and, sometimes, two relatives, are specially decorated with paint for the occasion, or, in the father's absence, another male relative, or sometimes two relatives, takes his place. The part of the father or of his substitutes is merely passive; he is in the proud and enviable position of one who adds a warrior to his tribe, and, throughout the proceedings, he maintains a dignified silence, while the other warriors treat him with the greatest respect. His upper arms are adorned with alternate rings of down and charcoal, corresponding rings of the same substances are painted on the chest and back, the forehead is smeared with a mixture of charcoal and grease, the [p.174] eyebrows and cheeks are decorated with down, and pieces of the same material are scattered through the hair (Plate XVII., Fig. 25). The other natives are merely painted with red and yellow ochre. As soon as the operation is performed, the pole is taken down, stripped and the unwound hair-girdles are restored to their respective owners; but, before this is done, the young man, who has now become an erkwa kurka, is congratulated and fondled by the men. He cannot, however, frequent the main camp until his wounds are healed, so he retires once more to the bush (Plate XIX., Fig. 28). In a few weeks his healing has taken place—indeed this second wound generally heals more quickly than the first—the fact is notified to the warriors that their young brother is ready for admission to their order. The men assemble at some little distance from the general camp and in the direction towards which the newly male ertwa kurka is located and sing with great gusto, the chief leading the quaapara:—
Chuk-ur-rokerai yaa li chaakaa-a
Yauia kank waa-a
Inkwurkna inkwurkna atnai
Inkwurkna inkwurkna atnai.
The lubras, hearing this chant, assemble in the main camp and begin dancing to
the time kept by the men, but they do not sing themselves. After a certain
amount of preliminary chanting the guardian of the young warrior brings in his
charge and presents him, as a man and a warrior, to the assembled males, who,
with shouts of rejoicing, escort him to the main camp, where he is presented to
the lubras waiting at a cleared place close to the camp. The young man runs
round them quickly in a circle, while the women make a noise resembling that of
the "humming-sticks" (irula). He then suddenly bounds away into the bush,
whither he is followed by a number of men who camp with him for the night. Next
morning he is again escorted to the camp, and now carries a shield (alkwurta)
which he displays in an attitude of defence. As he approaches the camp all the
young women of the same class (phratry) as himself throw pieces of green gum
(Eucalyptus) bark at him, which he wards of with his shield. When the supply of
bark is exhausted he turns his back upon them for a minute or two and then runs
back to the men, who have remained at a little distance in the rear chanting
He is now a fully-fledged man, entitled to wear his hair tied up behind; the pubes is decorated with a diminutive, fan-shaped tassel made of fur, dyed white, and human hair; a hair girdle is henceforth worn round the waist and, if he be a dandy, fur armlets adorn his biceps (Plate XVIII., Fig. 27). In all corrobborees [p.175] he is now entitled to take a principal part; he may take unto himself a wife, and in all probability one, perhaps two, have already been assigned to him. For two or three days he is the cynosure of all eyes—the most interesting figure in the camp. A corrobboree takes place every night, in which he takes part, and deeds of daring done by the most famous living warriors of the tribe are related for his benefit. He is carefully instructed in class laws, impressed with the dignity of his position as an ertwa kurka, and henceforth he must only speak to such women of the tribe as are not of the tabooed classes; he must not even look in the direction of these.
Until the rites of lartna and arrilta are performed a native is not allowed to have a wife; this bar is, however, sometimes broken by natives in the employ of white men, who are, to a certain extent, in a position to defy tribal laws, but sooner or later they are bound to submit. No grown man can, for very long, put up with the sneers and contempt of his race, and such an offender is never permitted to take part in a corrobboree, nor will the men allow him to discuss tribal matters with them. I have never known a black with sufficient hardihood to hold out against the performance of these rites for more than a year or two.
Quaapara or Corrobboree.
Under this head the ordinary dancing festivals, usually spoken of as
corrobborees, are referred to. The blacks, in addition to these, perform
certain ceremonies regarded as sacred in character and associated with, for
example, the promotion of the supply of certain food-plants and animals. These
are performed at certain times, and are of much greater significance than the
ordinary corrobborees, which anyone is allowed to witness. Two of these
ceremonies are described under separate headings.
Ordinary quaaparas care held at a neutral ground specially chosen—generally at some distance from the main camps—where all castes and both sexes may attend. Any locality may be chosen, but there are certain favourite spots to which members of more than one group of a tribe may repair for corrobborees.
The songs of this tribe, sung at the quaapara, are merely a collection of sounds and cannot be translated. They have no actual meaning, but are merely a means of expressing such music as there is in the native mind. All quaaparas are supposed to be impartible in dreams.
(a) Food-Producing Ceremonies, intitchiuma.
All ceremonies of this kind are called Intitchiuma. Of those one of the most
solemn and important is the Udnirringita festival, which is believed to have the
effect of enormously increasing the natural supply of the large tree grub, of
which the natives are very fond. It is in fact a delicacy which many white men
The ceremony takes place every summer, and is carried out by the men of the Pultarra and Panunga classes under the leadership and direction of the Alartunja. Women are not permitted to witness the ceremony, nor are men of the Kumarra and Purula classes allowed to attend. When it is about to begin, the men of the Pultarra and Panunga classes start from the camp at sundown (alknurrika) proceeding in single file and taking the places allotted to them by the Alartunja, who sometimes walks at the head and sometimes at the side of the column. The men are all unarmed and undecorated, even the ordinary hair girdle (ukara-ilippa) is discarded, and abstinence from food and water is strictly enjoined until the return to camp. They continue travelling until they reach the spot where the festival of Intichiuma is invariably celebrated, which is generally some miles from the camping grounds. Here they camp for the night. At daylight a round hole, about five feet deep by two feet six inches in diameter, is dug by men told off, for the purpose, by the chief. When this is completed to his satisfaction, the accumulated earth is scattered in all directions. Each man in turn then gets into the hole, and, leaning against the wall, submits to being struck twice heavily in the abdomen with a large stone wielded by the Alartunja, who, while striking, says: "Unga murna oknirra tilquinna" ("You have eaten plenty food.")
When all have submitted to the painful stone ordeal, they retire to a shady spot (uiya) where they decorate themselves most elaborately with red and yellow ochre. A band of fur-string (itularra) dyed white is placed across the top of the forehead (urta), and underneath this they stick a number of green leaves, which entirely cover the forehead. The crown of the head (kopmirra) is decorated with a bunch of white cockatoo (ungwe takinna) feathers, and pieces of green bush are fastened in the armlets (kulchia). When the process of decoration is finished, they return to camp led by the Alartunja, again walking in single file and in silence. Each man's place has been allotted to him, and all walk with measured step. The lubras, the very old men of all classes, and all the Punila and Kumarra are in [p.177] waiting for the return of the celebrants. Food has boon collected and cooked during the day. It is now nearly sundown (alknurrika) and the grub-makers have been without food or water since the same hour yesterday. When the procession is seen approaching; the camp, the oldest Panunia veteran steps out alone and chants:—
Ilkna pung kwai
Yaalan ni nai
Yu niulk laa
Naan tai yaa lai.
The men march into camp looking very grave and sit down at the corrobboree ground (iltharra). Water is then brought to them in a wooden vessel by the aged Panunga warrior, who invites them to drink. This they do with great readiness, and food is then brought by the same warrior. As soon as it is quite dark the quaapara (corrobboree) fires are lighted and the performance kept up until daylight, the Pultarra and Panunga only dancing and singing. A plentiful supply of the succulent grub is now assured.
(b) Rain-making Ceremony.
The privilege of making rain is confined to the men of the Kuniarra and Purula
castes, who also perform a ceremony which is supposed to increase the supply of
erriakura.7 These two ceremonies can only be performed at certain places, far
apart, at which from time immemorial they have taken place. A spirit of the
Alchurringa (long ago) named Irtchwoanga imparted the secret of rain-making to the Kumarra and Purula, and fixed upon the spots where the ceremony
was to take place. Women are not permitted to attend, and men of the Pultarra
and Panunga classes, though they are permitted to be present, are debarred from
taking the part of the principal performers. The Kumarra and Purula affect
reticence in speaking of the rain-making ceremony in presence of the two other
At sundown (alknurrika) all those who are going to play a part march into camp fully painted, and with the crown and each side of the head decorated with bunches of feathers. At a signal from the Alartunja (chief) all sit down in a line, the arms folded across the breast, and sing for some time—Ulgaranti alkwai'ai lathrik alkwaranti ulgaraa (repeated).
Suddenly all jump up and leave the camp in silence. Marching in single file, they hall some miles away and, at daylight, scatter out in search of game, which [p.178] they cook and eat, but no water is drunk. Having breakfasted, they again paint themselves; broad white bands of down (undatta)8 adorn the belly, arms, legs and forehead; red and white ochre are also used. When their toilette is completed, they return, marching in silence and in Indian file, to a spot not far distant from the main camp, where a special wurley (nalyilta) has been constructed to receive them; this once entered, no man must leave on any pretext until the ceremony is over. Gum leaves (Eucalyptus) (pilpirpa) are carefully strewn over the floor by old men of the Kumarra and Purula, who have remained in camp for the purpose. The party arrives at the nalyilta about sundown, the young men entering first and taking up a position at the back of the wurley, where they lie face downwards.
Meanwhile the rain-maker—Chantchwa—is being prepared by the older men; his face and head are entirely covered with hair-girdles (ilippa); by means of blood drawn from the glans penis, patches of bird's-down are made to adhere to the hair and to the whole body, so that the man thus disguised presents a never-to-be-forgotten spectacle. When fully dressed he takes up a position close to the mouth of the nalyilta, from which extends a shallow trench (kullarumpa) twenty or thirty yards long, and the older men, who sit around him, now begin and continue singing for some time:—
Illunga ilartwina unalla
Illunga kau-wa lungalla
Partinyi yert artnuri elt artnuri
Yerra alt nartnura alia
Partinya yarraa alt nartnurai
Yerra alia partinya atnartnurai
Yokaa wau wai.
This finished, the Chantchwa emerges from the naylilta and proceeds slowly twice up and down the trench while his legs and body are made to quiver in a most extraordinary manner—every nerve and fibre appears to be agitated. The young men now, for the first time, arise from their recumbent position and join the older men, singing—
[p.179] while the Chantchawi's
movements appear to accord with the singing. When
he re-enters the nalyilta, the young men all prostrate themselves again, and
this position they always occupy when the Chantchwa is present. More singing
follows in which the rainmaker joins; at intervals during the night he goes
up and down the trench and quivers as described. The singing continues all night
and at day-break the Chantchwa executes a final quiver, lasting for longer than
usual, in which he fairly exhausts himself. On his then declaring the ceremony
at an end the young men rush out screaming in imitation of the spur-winged
plover (Lobivanellus lobatus). The cry is heard in the main camp
and taken up, with weird effect, by the men and women there. An old woman of
the Kumarra or Purula class has covered a large space with gum leaves just
within sight of the camp, and after the Chantchwa has been relieved of his
head-dress he and his assistants march to the spot. There they lie down on the
leaves for a short time and then proceed to the camp, where food and water
awaits them. Sometimes the whole performance lasts for forty-eight hours,
during which period the men must fast.
After this ceremony a rain-dance takes place, in which all the men join, the women, as usual in corrobborees, providing a musical accompaniment.
The Al-lail-linga groups of the Arunta-Ilpma subdivision of the Arunta tribe are great rain makers. They inhabit the eastern portion of the Arunta-llpma country or that around Paddy's Hole, about fifty miles eastward of Alice Springs. This is known as the rain country, "Kwatha Kartwia."
The sacred stones (churina) of the tribe are flat stones of various sizes of soft material such as micaceous rock, and generally engraved in various ways, the predominating characters being concentric circles. These stones are greatly valued by the natives, and it is difficult to procure specimens. They are handed down from generation to generation, and the women are never allowed to see them. When not in use they are hidden away in secret spots known only to the chief men of the tribe to which no woman, under penalty of death, is allowed access. Each churina is believed to possess wonderful charms—it strengthens the man who is armed with it, and it possesses the virtue of making its possessor invisible to any enemy. As has been stated the Kurdaitcha is armed with one of these magic stones which he carries hidden in his arm-pit. In battle they are carried by the chief and older men. The humming-stick (irula) also belongs to the churina [p.180] class, but it is only used in the ceremonies of circumcision and subincision. The marks on the irula are evidently copied from the marks on the stone churina. Certain churina are the property of particular subdivisions of the tribe and are intimately associated with various sacred ceremonies such as the two above-described, which are only performed by members of such subdivisions, the latter being evidently connected with the idea of a totem and the Churina may be described as symbolic of the latter.
Restrictions as to Food.
Girls and young women are not permitted to eat of the flesh of the
(Echidna aculiata) (inaarlinga) perenti (Varanus giganieus) (echunpa), wild
turkey (Eupodotes australis) (ertua), or eagle-hawk (Aquila audax) (iritcha)
until it becomes certain that their breasts are fully developed. It may happen
however that a woman reaches the age of 40 before partaking of the forbidden
meats. Should any young woman transgress this law it is believed that the
development of her breasts will become permanently checked; many instances were
quoted to me in which the natural development had been thus checked by breach of
this law, and one woman, when asked by me why her breasts were so small,
explained sorrowfully that she had eaten ertua when a little girl. In addition
to checking the growth of the breasts it is believed that eating the flesh of
the eagle-hawk produces great leanness.
Boys up to the age of manhood are only allowed to eat of the leg of the eagle-hawk, which is supposed to impart strength and improve the growth of the limbs. They are struck or patted on the calf of the leg with the leg of the same bird, and it is believed that strength is thereby imparted.
Making of Medicine-Men.
The medicine-men of this tribe known as Railtchawa or
Nangera are doubtless men
of considerable imaginative powers, and their influence over their patients is
very often remarkable. Questioned as to how they acquire their art they
furnished me with the following information:
On a man becoming imbued with the idea that he has in him the makings of a Railtchawa he visits alone a cave in the Emily Plain (about fourteen miles to the south of the Alice Springs telegraph station), which is inhabited by a spirit called Irunturrina; he sleeps near its mouth for a night but does not venture inside. At daylight next morning the Irunturrina appears at the mouth of the cave and [p.181] throws at the prospective Railtchawa an invisible lance called atnongara, which pierces the neck from behind, penetrates the tongue making a large wound, and escapes by the mouth. The tongue remains perforated in the centre with a hole large enough to admit the little linger—and this hole is the only permanent effect of the Irunturrina's treatment. Another atnongara pierces the head from ear to ear. The novice drops down dead, and is at once taken into the depths of the cave which is supposed to extend under the plain and to terminate beneath the Edith Range, about ten miles distant. In this the Irunturrina has his abode amidst running streams and perpetual sunshine. It is called okalpara10 and no native would dare to enter it. Tradition states that in the long, long ago two men entered innocently in search of water and were never more heard of. When the body is taken into the okalpara the Irunturrina removes, with the aid of his invisible atnongara, the viscera of the dead man and furnishes him with a completely new set of internal organs "manufactured on the premises." Thus equipped he is taken outside the okalpara, where, after a little time, he comes to life again, but in a condition of insanity. The Irunturrina watches for the awakening and as soon as the patient is fit to walk he is taken back to his tribe by the spirit, who, however, is invisible to the tribesmen. The spirit at once returns to his abode and the patient remains mad for some days until one morning it is noticed that he is painted, with powdered charcoal and fat, a broad, black band across the bridge of his nose. All signs of insanity have disappeared, and the tribesmen at once recognise that a new Railtchawa has graduated. Etiquette prevents the new medicine-man from practising his profession for about twelve months, and in the meantime he dwells upon his awful experiences, and cultivates the acquaintance of the other members of his profession of which there are generally one; or two in each tribe or clan. The Railtchawa must abstain from eating fat altogether, otherwise he loses his power. All Railtchawas are not gifted alike, some have great reputations while others are looked upon as much inferior.
Blood as a Therapeutic Agent.
A man suffering from continued weakness is sometimes supplied
with fresh blood (irkna) drawn from the veins of the arm of one of his robuster brethren. The
vein is opened with a stone knife, and the blood, received into a vessel, is
drunk by the patient before it cools thoroughly. This practice, known as itka-
[p.182] turkay is said to have a wonderful effect in cases of debility. The lubras,
from whom it is carefully concealed, have no knowledge of the custom, the men
stating that no woman must know that a man has partaken of the blood of a man.
The men further believe that a draught of woman's blood would kill the
In some cases of severe illness, a patient (male) is anointed all over with blood obtained by puncturing the labia minora. Men, however, have a very great objection to this form of treatment, and will always try to avoid it if strong enough, and it is only practised when the patient becomes very weak and the Railtchawa has failed to effect an improvement. The patient, who is to be thus treated, is seized and held by several women while she, whoso blood is being used, rubs it in. When the whole body has been thus well rubbed a coating of grease is added, which is believed to assist the process of absorption. A woman may be similarly anointed by blood taken from the male urethra.
Men may drink the blood of freshly killed animals, but no woman is permitted to do so during the menstrual period (al-lura). It is believed that the breaking of this rule would abnormally increase the usual discharge and probably cause the woman to bleed to death. Women who have reached the climacteric are allowed the same privilege as the men in this respect.
Customs of War.
When warriors are starting out to attack another tribe they
decorate their faces and bodies with stripes of yellow ochre, and a bunch of emu feathers
(taara) is fastened to the hair girdle at the waist. This girdle is called
kirra-urkna and is
made of hair taken from the head and beard of a dead warrior
relative. This kind of girdle is never worn except in warlike expeditions when
the tribe means fighting; it is supposed to impart great strength, courage, and
accuracy of aim to the wearer, in fact all the warlike attributes of the dead
man are supposed to be, by this means, added to the natural powers of the
wearer, while it also produces such inaccuracy of aim in the enemy that it is
considered almost impossible to kill a man so protected. All these advantages
are expressed by the one native work inkilya. When going into battle the young
warriors, protected by the kirra-urkna, always take the lead, the old men
follow in the rear and operations are directed by the Alartunja (chief) of the
tribe or sub-division of the tribe.
Warriors returning from an expedition, after killing one or more of the enemy, paint their bodies with charcoal and decorate the head with green bushes; a bunch [p.183] of green leaves is also inserted in the armlets (kulchia) close to the armpits (hunpa). Green twigs in leaf are put through the hole in the septum of the nose.
A defeated tribe, having lost one or more of its number, returns to camp in silence with their bodies smeared with white earth.
Beliefs and Superstitions.
The natives do not believe in a Devil or Evil Spirit. The Kurdaitcha, whom they sometimes speak of as "Devil-devil," and of whom they have an awful dread, is merely a man intent on murder, who temporarily disfigures his face and disguises himself generally by dressing his beard and his hair in fantastic shapes. He wears shoes (interlina) the soles of which are skilfully made of interwoven emu feathers, stuck together with human blood, the uppers being of knitted human hair. These shoes, oval in shape, leave no track,11 and the movements of the man so equipped cannot be heard. He is invariably provided with a magic stone (churina), which he carries in his arm-pit.
The sky is said to be inhabited by three persons—a gigantic man with an immense foot shaped like that of the emu, a woman, and a child who never developes beyond childhood. The man is called Ulthaana, meaning spirit. When a native dies, his spirit is said to ascend to the home of the great Uithaana, where it remains for a short time; the Ulthaana then throws it into the Salt-water (sea) [these natives have no personal knowledge of the sea], from which it is rescued by two benevolent but lesser Uithaana, who perpetually reside on the seashore, apparently merely for the purpose of rescuing spirits who have been subject to the inhospitable treatment of the great Uithaana of the heavens. Henceforth the rescued spirit of the dead man lives with the lesser Uithaana.
The natives have no idea of punishment or reward hereafter, nor do they believe in natural death except in old age.
Except, as just stated, in cases of old age the natives do not believe in natural death and they ridicule the idea of a young man or woman dying from natural causes. They believe that death is brought about by the pointing of a specially [p.184] prepared bone (injilla) or piece of wood (irna) pointed at both ends and upon which certain signs are carved. The villain, who wishes to encompass the death of an individual, prepares the injilla or irna—both are equally effective—with the aid of a resinous compound he fastens a piece of hair string to one end of the injilla, he then goes alone into the bush to some unfrequented spot at a distance from the camp, being very careful not to be seen. When he has chosen a spot for his incantations and assured himself that there is no one in the locality, he places the injilla on the ground and assuming a crouching position, hisses out the following curses:—
"I-tar pukaluna piir-tulinja appinia-a,"
("May your heart be rent asunder ").
"Purtulinja appinasi intaarpa inkirilya quin-appani intarpakalaa-a,"
("May your backbone be split open and your ribs torn asunder").
"Okincha quin appani ilchi ilchaa-a,"
("May your head and throat be split open").
The incantation finished, the man returns to camp, leaving the injilla for three or four days when he removes it to within a short distance of the camp. There he carefully conceals it until night; during the early part of the evening when the natives are chatting round the camp fires, he steals out into the darkness, procures the injilla and stealthily approaches the camp until his victim's features are clearly discernible by the firelight (the villain of course remains unseen); he now stoops down, keeping his back towards the victim, and jerks the injilla towards him several times while muttering curses in subdued tones. He again conceals the injilla and returns to camp—the victim being supposed to sicken and die within a month unless he be saved by the skill of the medicine-man (Raitchawa), When the charm takes effect and the victim becomes ill the villain takes the injilla away secretly and burns off the hair-string while expressing a wish that the destruction of the victim's life may be as effectual as the destruction of the string. Any native discovered in the act of using the injilla would be immediately put to death.
Traditions of Origin of the Race.
Ages ago ancestors of the present race lived in the form of a great species of porcupine (Echnida aculeaia) called Inapwerla, which had no limbs or organs of sight, smell, or hearing, and which did not eat food. This animal, incapable of motion, presented the appearance of a man whose legs and arms were so shrunken and "doubled up" that mere indications of limbs were visible. A spirit man called [p.185] Alkappera came from the east (iknurra) who, seeing these strange creatures, felt a great pity for them and, on examination, discovered that, with the aid of his magic knife, he could, by releasing from the curious mass of flesh the faintly outlined legs and arms, give these creatures the same shape as himself. Taking up one of the Inapwerla he quickly released the arms, adding fingers by making four clefts at the end of the arm; the legs were then released and toes added in like manner. The figure could now stand erect, the nose was formed and the nostrils bored with the finger; one stroke of the knife added the mouth, which was pulled open several times to make it flexible; eyes were formed by the simple process of incision and another stroke or two of the magic knife provided the new being with genital organs. The Alkappera continued his operations until all the Inapwerla were converted into living images of himself. In this way both sexes were created with equal rapidity. Having finished his task the spirit called all the men and women together, endowed them with the gift of speech, and informed the men that the women were made for their use, with a view of increasing their numbers. It was ordained that the men, before taking wives, must undergo the ordeals of circumcision and subincision, and that they must hide from the women during recovery; these operations being performed on them at once. The men and women assembled were then divided into four classes, Pultarra, Kumarra, Panunga and Purulo, and were instructed in the marriage laws, which are observed at the present time.
Tradition of the Origin of Fire.
Fire (ura) is produced by the friction of hard against
soft wood. A hard-wood stick is pointed at one end and inserted in a small hole
bored in a piece of softer material, generally of a root. The pointed stick is
then rotated quickly between the hands until the friction produces fire.12
The natives explain that their ancestors in the distant past (Alchurrina), which really menus in the dream-times, for this is the manner in which the natives always speak of the long ago, acquired the art of "urptnalla (fire-making) from a gigantic arrunga (Macropits rointstus) called Alitrawarina, This monster was, according to native tradition, endowed with the gift of speech, and, while making fire, always chanted—
"Up maloara keytie
U pau wita wita."
This chant has been handed down from time immemorial, and is used at the present time. The Algurawartna was subsequently killed and eaten by the natives, and his fat lasted the tribe for many moons.
Knocking Out of Teeth.
Men and women of the Al-lail-linga groups of this subdivision of the Arunta tribe, who have been referred to as great rain makers, knock out the right upper central incisor, but there is no special ceremony attached to the knocking out of the tooth.
Head-Rings.—Perforation of the Septum of the Nose.
The women wear head-rings made of fur, similar rings are worn round the neck. The wing bone (ulalkirra) of an eagle-hawk (iritcha) is worn through the septum of the nose.
The natives, although having a contempt for physical cowardice in one of their own tribe, have no equivalent for the English word coward. They merely speak of a coward as "ilririma," that is to say, one who is frightened.
These are made with the skins of kangaroo, euro and wallaby.
Explanation of Plates.
Of the plates which follow, Nos. IX. to XIX. inclusive are reproductions from photographs taken by Professor Spencer and Mr. Gillen, as indicated in each case.
Fig. 1. Left tibia of skeleton from Alice Springs, showing slight degree of Camptoenemia. Length 17 inches. Platyenemic Index 73·7.
Fig. 2. Sections of the same tibia, the left being that taken at the junction of the upper and middle thirds and the right at the mid-point of the bone.
Fig. 3. Corresponding sections of normal European Tibia. Length 14 inches.
Fig. 4. Corresponding sections of Platyenemic Tibia of an Australian aboriginal from the South-east of South Australia. Length 152 inches. Platyenemic Index 69·4.
Fig. 5. Corresponding sections of Platyenemic Tibia of an Australian aboriginal from the same locality as the preceding. Length 14¾ inches. Platyenemic Index 57·9. In each case ex and in indicate the anatomical external and internal borders. For further particulars on Platyenemia and Camptocnemia vide pp. 19-22 of text. The Platyenemic Indices are derived from measurements taken at the level of the nutrient foramen, so as to be comparable with those of other observers by the formula trans. diameter x 100 = Platyenemic Index ant. post, diameter; but in view of the variation of the nutrient foramen, I can see no reason why the mid-point should not be that selected.
PLATE I., bis.
Owing to the artistic imperfections of the writer, the photographer of the party being unfortunately otherwise engaged at the time of his visit, this sketch must be considered as designed to show the details of the Rock itself and of its relation to the escarpment at the base of which it stands. The vertical red and white stripes, though no doubt originally covering the whole of the front face as shown in the plate, were at the time of my visit only conspicuous upon the lower half. For details vide p. 67 of text.
Native Rock Drawings.
Figs. 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9. From the face of a quartzite rock near
Water-hole, McDonnell Range. Their significance is by no means clear. Perhaps
Fig. 7 may represent a pentadactyle track, though possibly it may be a ruder and
simpler form of Figs. 3 and 5, which are most likely figures of the small
fan-like tassel worn by the men as a pubic appendage, vide Plate VI., Fig. 8. In
Fig. 6 and, to some extent, in Fig. 9 we have concentric patterns, which are of
very frequent occurrence among native drawings, possibly representing body
patterns, though the close association on the rock of Fig. 6 with Fig. 1
suggests that perhaps these two together may represent some topographical
features, such as a track or water-course and its relation to camps or
water-holes. For the meaning of Fig. 8 I can offer no suggestion. Besides the
above drawings there were on this rock several stencilled imprints of hands done
in red ochre and charcoal.
Fig. 4. Ayers Rock. Represents the leaf of the Cycad Encephalartos Macdonnelli, as does also Fig. 12 in a ruder fashion. I may add that no Cycad is known to exist within at least eighty miles of Ayers Rock.
Fig. 5. Ayers Rock. A stone knife, with its haft of resin.
Figs. 10, 11. Ayers Rock. Meaning unknown, nor could any of the blacks consulted suggest an interpretation.
Fig. 13. Tarn of Auber, Glen Edith. Snake drawn as if emerging from a natural hole in the rock.
Native Rock Drawings.
Figs. 1, 2. Ayers Rock. The latter is certainly and the
intended to represent a lizard, but I am unable; to explain the meaning of the
radiating lines from the head end of the drawings.
Fig. 3. Between Reedy Creek and Bagot Creek. The track of a lizard.
Figs, 4, 5. Ayers Rock. Probably Eggs.
Fig. 6. Ayers Rock. Of unknown significance.
Figs. 7, 9. Ayers Rock. Snakes.
Fig. 8. Ayers Rock. Bird.
Fig. 10. Ayers Rock. Stated by the blacks to be a Dingo.
Fig. 11. Ayers Rock. Human Heads; the only attempt seen to delineate any part of the human body.
Figs. 12, 13, 14. Ayers Rock. Significance unknown to the blacks who were questioned. Fig. 12 might conceivably be meant for a looping caterpillar, and Fig. 13 suggests to the medical mind a foetus in utero or possibly a marsupial embryo in the pouch, though I can scarcely believe this view to be credible.
Native Rock Drawings.
Fig. 1. Rock-shelter at Reedy Creek, Gill Range. Emu sitting on eggs as if seen
from below or from above through a transparent body.
Fig 2. Emu tracks, these were on the rock-face immediately below Fig. 1.
Fig. 3. Rock-shelter between Reedy Creek and Bagot Creek, Gill Range. A Lizard.
Fig. 4. Ayers Rock. A snake.
Fig. 5. From the same rock-shelter as Figs. 1 and 2. This rather elaborate figure was stated by the blacks to be a decoration pattern.
Fig. 6. Between Reedy Creek and Bagot Creek.
Fig. 7. From the same rockshelter as Fig. 3. Without doubt a decoration pattern, for a figure of this shape appears on the breast of a native in a photograph sent me by Mr. Gillen.
Fig. 8. Reedy Creek.
Figs. 9, 11. Between Bagot Creek and Reedy Creek.
Fig. 10. South side of Levi Range. These are probably all decoration patterns. For the last figure I am indebted to Mr. Watt.
Fig. 12, 13. Ayers Rock; significance unknown.
Fig. 14, Reedy Creek. Possibly a decoration pattern.
Fig. 15. Between Reedy Creek and Bagot Creek; significance unknown.
Weapons, &c, Arunta Tribe.
Fig. 1. Barbed spear.
Figs, 1a, 1b. The same, showing method of attachment of barb and tail-piece.
Fig. 2. Lance of Desert Oak.
Fig. 2a. The same, blade and tail end.
Fig. 3. Playing stick.
Fig. 3a. The same on larger scale.
Figs. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Series of missile weapons showing evolution of the boomerang from the straight throwing stick.
Figs. 10, 10a, 10b. Spear-thrower. Method of attachment of recurved point.
Fig. 10c. Method of fixation of stone chip to end of haft by means of Triodia resin.
Fig. 11. Back surface of shield, showing haft.
Fig. 11a. Front surface of same, showing fire-making grooves at the upper end. The cross-shaped mark at the lower end is a patch of Triodia resin stuck on for some unknown reason.
Domestic Implements, Utensils, and Ornaments.
Fig. 1. Quartzite knife in sheath of "paper bark."
Fig. 1a. The same, removed from its sheath.
Fig. 2. Hardwood food and water vessel.
Fig. 3. Softwood food and water vessel.
Fig. 4. "Hold-all."
Fig. 5. Chignon.
Fig. 5a. Bone hairpin for chignon.
Figs. 6, 7. Bone ornaments for nose.
Fig. 8. Pubic tassel worn by males.
Fig. 9. Wooden head ornament.
Fig. 10. Native spindle. In this case the string is made of human hair.
Figs. 11, 11a. Musical concussion sticks.
Fig. 12. Adze.
Fig. 13. Stone chip found in "hold-all" (Fig. 4).
Ceremonial Sticks and Stones (Churina) found at Kundugna
(see description in text).
Fig. 1. Made of wood; assigned to the Snake Ceremonial.
Figs. 2, 3. Made of wood; assigned to the Opossum Ceremonial.
Fig. 3b. An attempt to show in greater magnification the character of the incised markings.
Fig. 4. Made of wood; assigned to the Sugar-ant Ceremonial.
Fig. 5. Made of wood; assigned to the Opossum Ceremonial.
Figs. 6, 7. Made of micaceous stone; Ceremonial connection unknown.
Fig. 8. Made of micaceous stone; assigned to the Euro Ceremonial.
Fig. 9. Small wooden Churina (Trula) used as a "bull-roarer."
Ceremonial and Corrobboree Head Dresses, Arunta Tribe.
In all the figures of this plate the helmet is constructed after the manner
described in the section relating to this subject.
Fig. 1. Performer in the Rain Dance, Charlotte Waters. The long, erect and ornamented structure is of wood and belongs to the class of objects described as churina. The pattern on it is, like those on the face, helmet and body, made with Portulaca down (red and white) caused to adhere with blood. The plume at the summit is of emu feathers. The figure shows also a nose-bone, in situ and the end of the beard tied up in a bunch and also a part of the body pattern.
Fig. 2. Itaa-perukna Corrobboree, Alice Springs. The small plumes which surmount the helmet are of emu feathers. This and the following figure show a very common device, in which a band of colour or ornamental material crosses the bridge of the nose and cheeks.
Fig. 3. Ill-a-yon-pa Corroboree, Alice Springs.
Fig. 4. Alp-ma-rokita Corrobboree, Alice Springs. The semicircular appendage to the helmet is made of a bundle of grass stems, closely bound round with whitened native string. A similarly-shaped appendage is sometimes made of two pieces of bent stick bent into the form of a quadrant; these are so inserted into the helmet frame as to form together a semicircle. Such a semicircle is often ornamented with alternate stripes of red and white Portulaca down. Two such semicircles may be made to cross one another at right angles. In the figure the pendants to the crescent are Peragale tail-tips, and emu plumes are worn in the armlets.
Fig. 5. Itaa-perukna Corrobboree, Alice Springs. The plumes are of the under feathers of the emu.
In Figs. 2, 3 and 5 body-scars are visible.
Fig. 1. Arunta Tribe, Alice Springs. Performers in the Ill-a-yon-pa
Fig. 2. Arunta Tribe, Alice Springs. Performers in the Atnimokita Corroboree. These figures show various forms of corrobboree head-dresses and facial and body patterns made as described in the text. The pattern, shown in the taller man of Fig. 1, which extends from the trunk down the front of the thighs, is a common device, and the pubic tassel of the same figure is made of the tail-tips of the rabbit-bandicoot (Peragale lagotis). All the figures show some scarring of the body.
Fig. 3. Adult male, Luritcha Tribe, Tempe Downs, shows Chignon bound on with
fur-string (vide Pate VI., Fig. 5) and broad whitened frontal band.
Fig. 4. Adult male, Arunta Tribe, McDonnell Ranges. Shows the hair matted into thick coils with red ochre and grease, and bone nose ornament.
Fig. 5. A Chief, Arunta Tribe, McDonnell Ranges. Shows manner of wearing feather plumes in the hair.
Fig. 6. Adult male, Arunta Tribe, Strangways Range. Feather plume worn in armlet; multiple neck rings.
All the heads on this plate show the high shaven forehead.
Fig. 7. Rather old female, Arunta tribe, Charlotte Waters. Hair matted into
coils with white earth in sign of mourning. The chest also is usually plastered
with the same material.
Fig. 8. Type of young adult female, Arunta Tribe, Alice Springs, showing method of wearing the hair. This figure also shows the short scar-marks between the breasts, as well as others between the collar-bone and armpit and over the deltoid.
Fig. 9. Full length figure of the preceding. She is wearing a fur apron such as is described in the text and mentioned as not frequently seen amongst the Arunta women.
Fig. 10. Well-developed figure of adult male, Arunta Tribe, Strangways Range.
Fig. 11. Arunta Tribe, McDonnell Ranges. Warriors on the march; mid-day camp.
The boomerangs, stuck into the ground in a row, have their ends decorated
with transverse bars of red ochre and white earth. Those natives that are not
recumbent are sitting, not squatting. The flat expanse immediately behind the
group is the sandy bed of a creek.
Fig. 12. The young girl with "boomerang legs," described in text under Section Platyenemia and Camptoenemia.
Fig. 13. Arunta Tribe, Crown Point. This unpleasing countenance shows the effects of disease, presumed to be syphilis, as manifested by the node on the forehead as well as osteitic changes in the breast-bone and, probably, within the nose.
Fig. 14. Band of natives on the march, armed with spears, boomerangs and
shields, met near Henbury.
Fig. 15. Food and water utensil (Pitchi) used as cradle.
Fig. I6. Group of natives performing an impromptu corroboree at Crown Point. The group is a little out of centre and the legs are obscured by the dust raised, but the plate gives some idea of the vigour and character of the movements of the performers.
Fig. 17. Corroboree at Tempe Downs, Luritcha Tribe. In the foreground is the chorus of seated old men, women and children, who are singing and beating time. The performers, who are dancing on a ground specially cleared, wear the usual head-dresses and body-patterns and have bunches of gum leaves attached to their ankles. The scraggy-looking trees in the near back-ground are Eucalyptus sp. Observe the figure of the child standing to the left of the seated group.
Fig. 18. Preparation for the Atnimokita Corrobboree, Alice Springs.
Venesection; the operator is manipulating the arm to promote the flow of blood, which
is being received into the hollow of a shield.
Fig. 19. Alp-ma rokita Corrobboree, Alice Springs. A performer seated in the fork of a decorated pole. A very similar pole was used in the Atnimokita Corrobboree, the only difference being that in the latter both forks are of equal length, whereas in the former one is longer than the other.
Fig, 20. Group preparing for the Alp-ma-rokita Corrobboree, showing various styles of head-dresses and body-patterns. A part of the house of the chief pole is seen on the left margin of the Plate, and there is another at a little distance. between the two members of the group who are most to the left is a food vessel containing red and white Portuhica down, with a hand-stone used for grinding the ochre.
Figs. 21 of this Plate to Fig. 28 of Plate XIX. form a series of representations of various phases of the initiatory rites of circumcision and subincision, of which the full description will be found in Mr. Gillen's paper.
Fig. 21. Operating ground with two rows of spears decorated with gum leaves.
Fig. 22. Boy to be circumcised (with back turned towards the observer) seated with group at one end of the rows of spears.
Fig. 23. The "Unthippa" dance, in which the lubras strip the leaves from the spears.
Fig. 24. In this place should have appeared a plate properly
this series which represents the act of circumcision as it is performed amongst
the Arunta tribe or, at least, among the Arunta Ilpma section. By an error,
however, the Plate, representing a group of Luritchas posed for this operation
at Tempe Downs and described in the text, has been substituted for the proper
member of the [p.196] Arunta series. In the missing Plate the subject, in a recumbent position, is
represented as being held up by the arms of men who either squat beneath or
stand beside him. The operator is about
to make the incision with a stone knife hafted with Triodia resin.
Amid the intricacies of the group it is somewhat difficult to identify the subject. Those are his legs which, from thigh downwards, are presented towards the observer. The rest of his body is concealed behind the topmost figure of the group, who is seated astride of his recumbent body.
Fig. 25. Nartilnja pole. Relatives of the boy, who is about to undergo subincision, awaiting his arrival The right-hand seated figure is the boy's father, who wears a special decorative pattern. Observe the ceremonial sticks (Erula) suspended from the pole, and the bunch of plumes on the top.
Fig. 26. The operation of subincision at the foot of the Nartunja pole.
Fig. 27. Two youths, Arunta Tribe, Alice Springs, who, having undergone and recovered from the operation of subincision, have now attained perfect manhood. In token thereof they have their hair tied up, wear hair-girdles and carry the spear and shield.
Fig. 28. Recently subincised boy (Bonds Springs) camped, apart from his tribe,
with guardian attendant, who is grinding munyeru. The camp is in the sandy bed
of a creek.
Fig. 29. Arunta Tribe, Alice Springs. Performers in the Chilperta (wild-cat) ceremony. The material used for the head and body decoration is the down of the Eagle-hawk (Aquila audax) which is made to adhere with blood. Each carries in his hand a bunch of twigs (Hakea or Greviliea sp.).
1 Since the above was written I have found that the word Ilpma or Ulpma applies also to other groups whose language is not quite like that of the majority of the Arunta tribe.
2 The system of orthography for native word is the name as that adopted in my own paper. Vide Appendix I.—(E.C.S.).
3 Note the association of Panunga with Pultarra and Purula with Kumarra.—(E.C.S,).
4 This is the case mentioned in the preceding paper.—(E.C.S.)
5 In an account, by an eye-witness, of a circumcision ceremony at Claraville, on the Eastern McDonnells (about sixty miles from Alice Springs), which differs from the preceding in the preliminary details, It is related that the prepuce, after removal, is handed round to the young men, who, in turn, pinch up between the finger and thumb, a piece, which is cut off by the operator and eaten by them. The blood which flows from the wound is made to drip into the hollow of the haft of a shield, and, after the ceremony, this is passed round amongst the lubras, who dip their finger into the blood and anoint the pudenda until the supply is exhausted.—(E.C.S.).
6 The involural hairs of Portulaca filifolia.—(E.C.S.).
7 The tunicated tubers of Cyperus rotundus.
8 Probably of the Eagle-hawk (Aquila audax).
9 See also notes by Mr. Gillen on certain Churina described at p. 81.
10 This cave has been explored by white men, who found it to consist of a series of limestone caverns and to be thickly populated with bats (Megaderma giga). I visited it in company with Mr. Gillen, and we found that it had become almost completely silted up as the result of very heavy floods.—(E.C.S.)
11 Vide Mr. Byrne's account in preceding paper.
12 It will be observed in my own note's that the soft-wooden shields of Erythrina wood, collected on the Expedition, which bore evidence of having been used for the production of fire by the ploughing method, i.e., by driving the point of the hard-wooded stick backwards and forwards along a groove. Mr. Gillen informs me that both methods are practised. (E.C.S.).