Native Tribes of South-East Australia/Chapter 3
It may be laid down as a general rule that all Australian tribes are divided into two moieties, which intermarry, but each of which is forbidden to marry within itself.
For these two moieties the term "classes" used by Dr. Lorimer Fison and myself, and since adopted by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, and other writers on Australian anthropology, may now be regarded as the recognised term. The expression "tribe" has been used by some writers in this sense, but the "tribe" includes two organisations, the "local," already described, and the "social," to be dealt with now. The terms "clan" and "phratry" are both objectionable, because a definite meaning has become attached to them, which I do not desire to apply to the analogous organisations found in Australia; but have used the term "clan" to mean the principal geographical and territorial division of a tribe, in which descent is in the male line. Then some term seemed necessary to denote the divisions of a tribe in which descent is counted in the female line, and for this, as before stated, I use "horde," without including in my meaning any reference to the use made of it by other writers on anthropological theories.
The division of the people of the tribe into two classes is the foundation from which the whole social organisation of the native tribes of Australia has been developed.
In two tribes very far apart from each other, not only in geographical position but in customs, there are analogous legends purporting to explain how this division of the tribe came about. One is a Dieri legend from Central Australia; and the other from the Wurunjerri in Southern Victoria. I have considered them fully in Chapter VIII., and need only mention here that they agree in the essential point that the division of the tribe was made with intent to regulate the relations of the sexes.
These legends have no historical authority, but are good evidence of the belief of these aborigines that this universal basis of their social system was brought about by intention, and according to one of the legends had a supernatural sanction.
From what I know of the Australian savage I can see very clearly how such a social change might be brought about. They universally believe that their deceased ancestors and kindred visit them during sleep, and counsel or warn them against dangers, or communicate to them song-charms against magic. I have known many such cases, and I also know that the medicine-men see visions that are to them realities. Such a man if of great repute in his tribe might readily bring about a social change, by announcing to his fellow medicine-men a command received from some supernatural being such as Kutchi of the Dieri, Bunjil of the Wurunjerri, or Daramulun of the Coast Murring. If they received it favourably, the next step might be to announce it to the assembled headmen at one of the ceremonial gatherings as a supernatural command, and this would be accepted as true without question by the tribes-people.
That such an identical legendary explanation of the origin of the classes and totems existed in two tribes so far distant from each other may be accepted as indicating a widespread belief in the supernatural origin of a practice which is universal throughout Australia.
To bring into view the class divisions with their sub-divisions and totems, and to consider their bearing upon aboriginal society and the process of social development to which they bear witness, it will be necessary to tabulate a number of cases, taken from such localities as will enable the reader to obtain a fairly representative picture of the whole structure; and in doing so I shall, as before, commence with the Lake Eyre tribes, taking the Dieri as their type.
The progressive alteration of the two-class organisation has been in two divergent directions. In one the classes have been again segmented, producing four sub-classes in certain parts of Australia, and eight in other parts by still further segmentation.
The alteration in the other direction has been caused, either by the production of an anomalous system of class and totem, or by the extinction of the class system altogether, in which case the local organisation usually regulates marriage. The nature and sequence of these changes will be shown in this chapter, and in the following one the manner in which the rules of marriage and descent have been affected.
Tribes with Two Classes and Female Descent
The Dieri tribal community is divided into two exogamous intermarrying moieties, called by them murdu. In Chapter VIII., which deals with the Dieri beliefs, an account is given of the origin of the murdus. Originally animals, they became human beings, and their descendants are the Dieri and other Lake Eyre tribes. The subjoined tables give the class names and totems of some of these tribes and also show how the same totems are found in all, either by the same or some equivalent name. It must be noted that the Dieri, Tirari, Wonkanguru, Ngameni, Wonkamala, and Yaurorka call the class and totem Murdu; but with the Yantruwunta it is Kamiri both for class and totem, and the class names Tiniwa and Kulpuru answer to Matteri and Kararu.
As my inquiries were carried on in the Dieri country mainly by Mr. Siebert, the list of the Dieri murdus is the most complete, but even with the Dieri the totems are more numerous than those recorded, and the same remark applies to many if not all of the lists of totems given in this chapter. The lists are drawn up in the same numerical order, showing the occurrence or absence of any particular totem in the tribes.
|5.||Karku||red ochre||Markara||a fish|
|6.||Tidnama||a small frog||Kuntyiri||Acacia sp.|
|7.||Kananguru||seed of Claytonia sp.||Kintala||dingo|
|8.||Maiaru||a rat||Yikaura||native cat|
|10.||Tapaiuru||a bat||Kokula||small marsupial|
|26.||Karabana||a small mouse|
|7.||Kanangara||seed of Claytonia sp.||Madla||dingo|
|9.||Tapairu||a bat||Kokula||a small marsupial|
|7.||Tirta or Dirangatha||dingo|
|14.||Naramoku||the rabbit-bandicoot||Mungalli||a lizard|
|18.||Malparu||a crane, black with white on wings|
On the south side of Lake Eyre there is a tribe, or perhaps more properly a horde of the Urabunna calling themselves Yendakarangu, and their murdns are as follows, as far as I have been able to ascertain; but it is evident that these are only a part of the totems that the Yendakarangu must have possessed in common with the other tribes of Lake Eyre:—
|5. Arkaba||red ochre|
|1. Kurara||rain||Wonaniara||a caterpillar|
|5. Harkaba||red ochre|
|2. Tidnamara||a small frog|
|10.||Kokula||a small marsupial|
|13. Kelka||a frog|
|14. Talka||the rabbit -bandicoot|
|1. Kurara||rain||Muruwali||a caterpillar|
|4. Puralko||native companion||Karawora||eagle-hawk|
|6. Tidnamara||a small frog||Kutyiri||a variety of Acacia|
|7. Kagnara||seed of Claytonia sp.||Tirta||dingo|
|10. Tapairu||a bat||Kokula||a small marsupial|
|11. Dokubirabira||the pan-beetle||Kanta-wateri||kangaroo-rat|
|12. Milkityerpara||Pitcheri||Duboisia Hopwoodii|
|13. Taralyu||a frog||Bukatu||expedition for red ochre|
|14. Piramoku||the rabbit-bandicoot||Wompirka||a lizard|
|16. Balyara||a small pouched mouse||Wilyuru||curlew|
|18.||Malparu||a crane, black with white on the wings|
|1. Kuraura||rain||Padi||a caterpillar|
|5. Harkaba||red ochre|
|10.||Kokula||a pouched mouse|
|1. Ngantyara||rain||Muluru||a caterpillar|
|4. Puralko||native companion||Kariwora||eagle-hawk|
|5. Kambara||red ochre||Ngamjiuru||a fish|
|7. Mapara||seed of Claytonia sp.||Pandi||dingo|
|13. Kuyarku||a frog|
|14. Naramoku||the rabbit-bandicoot||Karingara|
|16. Baliyara||a small pouched mouse||Wilangu||curlew|
|18.||Malparu||a crane, black with white on wing|
|19. Ngarumba||Box eucalyptus|
|22.||Miltyipalu||a large grey hawk|
The Perigundi legend explains the origin of the Murdus and finally relates how, having become human, they dispersed in all directions, thus accounting for the fact that the totem names are scattered over the tribal countries, yet not equally, some occurring more plentifully in one place than in another. The following list shows this distribution at the present time:—
Universally distributed. Woma, Karku, Warogati, Padi, Kaualka, Karawora, Malura, Kuraura, Markara, Kintala.
In the west and north-west. Mudlakupa, Kirhapara, Kokula, Kanunga, Kanangara, Kaladiri, Tidnamara, Pildra, Kani, Kapiri, Yunda-yunda.
In the north-east and east, and on all the Cooper and its waters, Katatara, Dokubira-bira, Milketyelpara, Puralko, Mitindi, Tabaira, Talyara, Watari, Waparu, Manpi, Jimba-lunga, Ngarumba, Piramoku, Wolanguru, Yudlanti, Karabana, Kuruma, Milkiwaru, Tundubulyuru.
Following up the course of the Cooper from the Yantruwunta tribe, the next tribe of which I have any information is the Kurnandaburi, who occupied the country now known as Mt. Howitt Station, on the eastern branch of Cooper's Creek.By it the two classes and the totems are called Gaura, and the relation of persons of the same class or totem is "Gaura-molli," the equivalent for the Dieri "Murdu-mara," and also of our word "kinship."
|Muro-muro||large black cormorant||Wirri-pirra||kangaroo-rat|
|Taragoro||small black cormorant||Kopula||speckled brown snake|
|Waranguim||carpet-snake||Korinya||small burrowing rat|
|Paringoro||small grubs found in trees|
The class names suggest that Matara represents Matteri, and Yungo, Kararu; but as to this I have no information, nor does the arrangement of the totems under the two classes give any certainty. Half of the totems under Matara are also under Matteri, and eight of those under Yungo are also under Kararu. The others are either under the opposite class or are not found in the lists given.
But this is certain, that the social organisation of the Yantruwunta and the other Lake Eyre tribes must extend up the Cooper at least as far as the Kurnandaburi tribe.To the eastward of the Dieri the bounds of the class names Matteri and Kararu are approximately marked by the Grey and Barrier Ranges, These also divide two great groups of tribes, having the two-class system, of which the Dieri is the type on the one side, and the Wilya tribe, whose class names are Kilpara and Mukwara, is the type on the other. The latter group is of great extent, appearing to consist of several nations, of which three, namely, the Itchumundi, the Karamundi, and the Barkinji are known to me. The Wilya tribe is an example of the first.
This system obtains not only in the Wilya tribe but also in the Kongait, Bulali, and Tongaranka tribes which, with the Wilya, form the Itchumundi nation, all the members bearing that name as well as that of their own tribe. The country occupied by these tribes may be described as lying back from the Darling River, and bounded on the west by the Grey and Barrier Ranges.
The tribes between the junction of the Culgoa with the Darling and Wilcannia form the Karamundi nation, and its class system may be represented by that of the Milpulko tribe.
The name Barkinji includes a great number of tribes forming a nation, the approximate position of which I have already given. The following is taken from Mr. Cameron's notes:—
|Kurtae (Bilbae)||a rabbit-like burrowing animal|
I have no information as to the tribes lower down the Murray than the Rufus, to which place the Wiimbaio tribe extended.
All that I have been able to ascertain of the class system of that tribe is as follows, but it suffices to show that it must have been very similar to the systems already given for tribes higher up the Darling River. This tribe extended for about 60 miles up the Murray on the south side.
On the northern side of the river there is the Ta-tathi tribe, whose class names are Mukwara and Kilpara, but I am unable to say to which class the two groups of totems given below belonged, unless by analogy with other tribes, Eagle-hawk, Teal-duck, and Jew-lizard, should be Mukwara, and Crow, Iguana, and brown Eagle-hawk, Kilpara.
|Waip-illi||large brown eagle-hawk|
Tribes having these class names extended up the Murray River as far as the Loddon, and I have no doubt that, had any one recorded their totems, they would have been found to be analogous to those of the Ta-tathi tribe.
From the Loddon upwards the class names were the Bunjil and Waang of the Kulin, but to judge by the Bangerang tribe, descent was in the male line, and therefore such tribes will be spoken of later in this part.
In the absence of direct evidence of the range of such tribes up the Murray from the Bangerang, I can only conjecture that it may have been as far as where the class names of Bunjil and Waang ceased, and others came in. This was perhaps at the northern boundary of the Wolgal tribe at Walaregang on the Murray River.
The only remaining tribes, known to me, which can be included in this section, are situated on the upper waters of the Murray, Murrumbidgee, Snowy, and Tambo Rivers, the Ya-itma-thang, Ngarigo, and Wolgal.
As said before, the first named became extinct at an early date in the history of Victoria, and very little was recorded concerning it. All I can say is that among the totems were Tchuteba the rabbit-rat, and Najatejan, the bat, which also occur in the neighbouring Ngarigo tribe, with which the Theddora branch of the Ya-itma-thang intermarried. That these two totems were on the opposite side of the tribe is shown by the fact that when the people played at ball, Tchuteba was on one side and Najatejan on the other.
The Ngarigo adjoined the Theddora on the east and had the sub-joined class system.
| Merung Eagle hawk||Mumung||black-snake|
|Mulan or Munja||a fish|
|Waat||red wallaby |
|Bra-ar-gar||a small hawk|
|Baua||flying-squirrel next in size to bulemba|
| Yukembruk Crow||Burru||Kangaroo|
To the north of the Ngarigo were the Wolgal, who extended over the great alpine ranges in which the Murray and the Murrumbidgee rise. This tribe like that at Omeo had in 1870 become almost extinct, there being only a few individuals left, one of whom had been the bard or singer of his people and had, when I knew him, attached himself to the Ngarigo. The Wolgal class system is as follows:
| Malian Eagle-hawk||Mari||dingo|
| Umbe Crow||Biringal||a star (? Venus)|
I have said in the last chapter that the Biduelli, a small tribe which lived in the dense forest country between the coast range, the Lower Snowy River and the sea, must be considered as having originated by the association of "broken men" from the adjacent tribes. A consideration of their social organisation also suggests the same conclusion. I found one family with the Ngarigo class name Yukembruk Crow, and the Ngarigo, Theddora, and Murring totem, Tchuteba, the rabbit-rat. Another family was Bunjil, apparently connecting the Biduelli with the Mogullum-bitch, a Kulin tribe on the Upper Ovens River. They had also the sex totems of the Kurnai, Yiirung, and Djiitgun, Emu, Wren, and Superb warbler.
These classes and totems descended through the female line, with the exception of the sex totems, which are everywhere respectively the brother or sister, as the case may be, of the individual.
There being female descent, the Biduelli may be conveniently placed as an appendix to the Ngarigo, their northern neighbours.
Tribes with Four Sub-Classes and Female Descent
The pastoral settlers in the country of the Kamilaroi tribes must from early times have known of the existence of the four sub-class names of this nation, for it was common for an aboriginal to be addressed by the name proper to him or herself. But they were, so far as I know, first published by the Rev. W. Ridley, whose attention had been called to them by Mr. T. E. Lance. Mr. Ridley pointed them out to Dr. Lorimer Fison in 1871, who sent a memorandum on them to Dr. Lewis H. Morgan, following Mr. Ridley's method of spelling, and in that guise they appeared in Dr. Morgan's Ancient Society. Subsequently Mr. Lance informed Dr. Fison that the spelling aforesaid did not correctly represent the sound of the words. After a careful inquiry from several competent informants, he altered the spelling to that given in our work, Kamilaroi and Kurnai.It was shown at that time which of these names intermarried, and also which names were borne by the children of the several marriages.
Our critical examination of these "rules of marriage and descent," and the fact that the four names represented four divisions of the tribe, led us to feel satisfied that they must be subdivisions of two primary classes, of whose existence in many parts of Australia we were not then aware.
It was only after long-continued inquiry that I learned through a valued correspondent, Mr. Cyrus E. Doyle, then living at Moree in the country of the northern Kamilaroi, of the existence there of the two class names, of which the four sub-class names are the subdivisions. Subsequently I found the two class names in tribes of Southern Queensland, which have descent in the male line, finally in some of the Wiradjuri tribes in Western New South Wales.
Not only was the discovery of these two primary class names important, as connecting the two-class systems with those having four sub-classes, but they afforded me the means of ascertaining with absolute certainty, in any given case where they existed, whether descent was in the male or female line. This will be further detailed in Chapter V.
The following is the complete class system of the Kamilaroi of the Gwydir river, with the exception that, as in other cases, it is not certain that the totems are numerically correct:—
|kangaroo, opossum, bandicoot, black duck, padi-melon, eagle-hawk, scrub-turkey, yellow-fish, honey-fish, bream|
|emu, carpet-snake, black snake, red kangaroo, honey, walleroo, frog, codfish|
Kupathin and Dilbi divide the tribal community into two moieties, just as Matteri and Kararu or any other of the pairs of class names do. Omitting for a moment the four sub-classes, there remain only the two classes, each with its group of totems, and the analogy to the two-class system is at once apparent. It is clear that the difference consists in the interpolation between the totems and the two classes of four sub-classes; or perhaps the more correct statement would be that each primary class has been divided into two moieties, and that the totems either remain with the primary, and are common to both, as in some tribes, or as in others, have been divided between the sub-classes. When this occurs it is evidently a further stage in the process of subdivision.
The consideration of the effects produced by these changes will be found in the following pages; but it may be said now that descent runs directly in the primary classes and the totems, and indirectly in the sub-classes.
As an appendix to the Kamilaroi tribe, I add some particulars about the Geawe-gal of the Hunter River. I learn that this tribe had the complete sub-class system of the Kamilaroi, but my informant, Mr. G. W. Rusden, said that although he could not recollect all their class divisions, they had certainly the great divisions Yippai and Kombo.
There was a small tribe on the Bellinger River on the east coast of New South Wales called Kombaingheri, which had the following four sub-classes, each having a separate male and female name. This peculiarity has not come under my notice in any other tribe of South-Eastern Australia.
|Kurbo||. . . . . . .||Kuran|
|Wombo||. . . . . . .||Wirikin|
|Maro||. . . . . . .||Kurgan|
|Wiro||. . . . . . .||Wongan|
I have no information which would enable me to say which of these form the pairs representing the two moieties of the tribe, and therefore the line of descent cannot be given.
To the West and South-west of the Kamilaroi is the Wiradjuri nation, and as an example I take that tribe of it which occupied the greater part of Riverina. The following table gives its social organisation as far as I have been able to ascertain it:—
|Murri (c)||Dulin||a small lizard||2|
The class names have not been found in this tribe. I have added the capital letters A and B to represent them, the letter attached to the sub-classes and the numbers attached to the totems are referred to elsewhere. The marriages are given in the chapter on "Marriage Rules." The foregoing table shows that the four sub-classes are the same as those of the Kamilaroi, and the absence of the two primary class names in this system means either that they have fallen into abeyance, or that my informant was not able to ascertain them. That they exist, at least in some of these tribes, is shown by their occurrence in that Wiradjuri tribe which occupied the country about Mossgiel, north of the Lachlan River.
The following table shows the classes, sub-classes, andtotems of that tribe:—
|Mukula A||Yunghai||mallee hen||1|
|Budthurung B||Murri||red kangaroo||1|
In the above, the totems are common to both the sub-classes, or in other words remain with the class, and have not been, as in other cases, distributed between them. Some of the marriages and descents in this branch of the Wiradjuri are quite abnormal, and are discussed in the next chapter.
The Baraba-baraba tribe occupied the country to the south of the Wiradjuri, and was most probably related to it. Mr. A. L. P. Cameron writes the name "Bura-burabra" or shortly "Burabra." The following list gives the sub-class names, and some of the totems, for which I am indebted to him:—
|Murri||birakal, the root of the quandong tree|
|Kubbi||kutembruk, the blue crane|
To the north of the Wiradjuri of the Lachlan River, and extending to the Bogan, is the country of the Wonghibon tribe. The Wonghibon appear to be an offshoot or branch of the Wiradjuri nation; for, as put to Mr. Cameron by one of the Wathi-wathi tribe, the Wiradjuri and Wonghibon are "all the same, only they talk a little different; Wiradjuri blackfellow say 'wira' for 'no,' and Wonghi blackfellow say 'wonghi,' but they are all friends." The class system is as follows:—
The similarity of the Wonghibon class system to that of the Wiradjuri is apparent, as is also that of the totems, making them seem almost identical.
The class system of the Unghi tribe near Charleville is as follows:—
|Not known||Murri||Not ascertained|
The classes and totems of the Yualaroi or Wollaroi are those of the Kamilaroi, but the existence of the primary classes has not been ascertained. Indeed it is open to conjecture that all the tribes which have the Kamilaroi class names are in fact parts of the same great tribal aggregate, although distance may have in some cases practically severed them from each other. This view would also include in this aggregate the Bigambul tribe, which inhabited the Darling Downs and Gwydirdistrict. The Bigambul tribe may be taken as the most northern of those having the Kamilaroi class system, and it is in this part of Queensland that two other systems with four sub-classes meet that of the Kamilaroi. The three tribes which are the examples of this are the Bigambul, the Emon about Taroom, and the Ungorri in the country comprising St. George, Charleville, Nive, Taroom, Surat, and Condamine.
The sub-class names of these tribes and their relative equivalents are shown in the following table:—
The more fully stated class systems of the Emon and Ungorri tribe are as follows:—
The Ungorri are another instance of the totems being divided between the sub-classes. They appear to me to be incomplete as to number, but my informant gave them as complete, and his long experience entitles his statements to be accepted with respect. In the absence of a tabulated statement of a number of marriages and descents, showing the respective inherited sub-classes and totems, I am unable to say more, and give the table as it was given to me.
Neither in the Emon nor in the Ungorri tribe were the two class names obtainable.
The Emon tribe probably represents the western example of tribes which extend from the Bunya-Bunya Mountains northwards to Wide Bay, and possibly even as far as Port Curtis, having four sub-class names differing slightly in accordance with their dialects. The Ungorri tribe represents a third large group of tribes, with four sub-classes, the names of which are substantially the same as those of the Ungorri. These sub-class names extend northwards, at least as far as the Maikolon tribe on the Upper Cloncurry River. They occur on the coast at Gladstone, and extend westwards to the Thomson River and other sources of the Barcoo, as well as the Upper Diamantina and the Hamilton River.
The social organisation of the Emon tribe is represented by that of the Kaiabara tribe which inhabited the Bunya-Bunya Mountains, and the latter connects this system with that of the Kamilaroi by its two class names; but, as male descent obtains, the discussion of this will be deferred to a later part of this chapter.
Passing over for the present those tribes which have four sub-classes and male descent, the next tribe to be noted here is the Kuinmurbura, which claimed the peninsula between Broad Sound and Shoal water Bay. This tribe is one of a considerable number which may be merely sub-tribes, hordes of a larger one, or possibly component parts of a nation, but I can form no conclusion on the subject.
|Yungeru||Kurpal||the barrimundi||Bor||black eagle-hawk|
|Kuialla||a hawk||Merkein||laughing jackass|
The female name is formed by the postfix an, as (male) Kurpal, (female) Kurpalan. This postfix is also attached to the class names and totems.
This is one of the rare instances of class or sub-class names being totems; the others are the Kulin tribes of Victoria, and the Wolgal and Ngarigo of New South Wales, and the Annan River tribe in Queensland.
The country between the Mackenzie River and the Lower Dawson, therefore south-westerly from the Kuinmurbura tribe, was occupied by the Kongulu tribe up to 1895. Probably it has become extinct, because at that time it was terribly demoralised by the wholesale distribution of opium in lieu of wages, and given as bribes, as well as by the retail distribution of it.
The class system of this tribe is as follows:—
The totems were called Baikain, and were transmitted from mother to child. They were usually animals, but also trees. The totem names appear to have been grouped under other names, such as Mirunjul, the effect of which has not been explained, but possibly they may resemble the arrangement of the Wotjobaluk totems. The following list gives the totems and collective names so far as they have been recorded:—
|Mirunjul||Mulloaru||black or brush wallaby|
Westward of the tribes of which the Kuinmurbura is the example, and on the waters falling into the Burdekin River, there is the class system of which the Ungorri is one of the most southern extensions, and which has apparently the widest range of the four sub-class systems of Queensland. As a typical example of this form of social organisation I take the Wakelbura tribe of the Belyando River.
|Malera||Kurgila||Opossum, spiney ant-eater, eagle-hawk, turkey, iguana, black bee, kangaroo|
|Banbe||Forest kangaroo, ringtail opossum, iguana|
|Wuthera||Wungo||Emu, carpet snake, gidya tree, wallaby|
|Obu||Black duck, carpet snake, large bee, emu, walleroo, gidya tree, wallaby|
These two class names extend as far as Charters Towers, where the Akulbura tribe speaks a different dialect and has different names for the classes and sub-classes. At about Muttabura, on the Thompson River, and near Clermont, these class names cease with the Bathalibura.
The Bathalibura classes are Yungaru and Wutheru, but the sub-classes are the same as those of the Wakelbura. In this latter tribe there is a group of totems attached to each class division; this group divides between the two sub-classes, and yet there are some totems which are common to both, this being perhaps a survival of the time when the sub-classes had not yet come into existence.
Certain animals are the especial game of each class. Obu, for instance, claims as his game emu and wallaby, and if he wishes to invite his fellows of the same sub-class, in a neighbouring tribe, to hunt the common game, he must do this by means of a message-stick, made from the wood of a tree which is, like themselves, of the Obu sub-class. When a man desires to perform some magical act, he must use for it only objects which are of the same class as himself, and when he dies he is laid on a stage made of the branches and covered with the leafy boughs of a tree of his class. Among all the natural objects of his class, there is some one which is nearer to him than any other. He bears its name, and it is his totem.
Another example of the system is that of the Buntamurra tribe, whose country is on the Bulloo River, extending southwards as far as Thargominda, 400 miles in a straight line from the Wakelbura country.
The class system of the Buntamurra is as follows:—
|porcupine (Echidna sp.)|
The feminine name is formed by the postfix gun, as Gubero and Guberogun.
This tribe appears to be on the boundary of this sub-class system, and of the class system of the Darling River with the names Mukwara and Kilpara.
Tribes with Four Sub-Classes and Male Descent
The next stage of social development is where there are two primary classes and four sub-classes, with descent in the male line.
When our knowledge only extends to the four sub-classes, with their marriages and descents, it is possible by pairing them in different ways to produce either female or male descent.
But when the class names are known, no such difficulty can arise. Failing this knowledge, the totems will give a clue, except in tribes like the Arunta, where the totemic name is not inherited. In the absence of these guides, custom will serve: for instance, in games played with a ball, the two segments of one class will play together against those of the other; or when the whole tribe is gathered together on some ceremonial occasion, the two pairs of sub-classes will camp on opposite sides of a creek. In ceremonial or expiatory encounters, one pair of fellow sub-classes will always side together against the other two.
I have found a simple diagram of very great assistance in working out the class system of a tribe, especially as a test of the line of descent.
In this diagram I substitute letters and numerals for the primary classes and sub-classes. Where I introduce the totems I use numbers. The Kamilaroi will serve as the type of tribes which had four sub-classes and female descent, and the class system is thus diagrammatically represented, "A" being Kupathin and "B" Dilbi; then a is Ipai, b Kumbo, c Murri, and d Kubbi. Anticipating the statement in the next chapter, that Ipai marries Kubbitha, and that the children are Murri and Matha, the diagram, using the above symbols, would be as under, m. = male, and f. = female.
|m. Ab ...||... f. Ab|
This diagram shows clearly that the child Bc inherits its mother's class name, and the fellow sub-class to hers.
Tribes having four sub-classes, and also in some cases the two primary classes, with male descent, extend for some 200 miles inland from the coast at Maryborough (Queensland), and also are surrounded inland by tribes with four sub-classes, but with female descent.I take the Kaiabara tribe living in the Bunya-Bunya Mountains as my example, because I first obtained, in its class system, the two primary classes which connect it with the great Kamilaroi organisation. The system as I have obtained it is as follows:—
|Kubatine A||Bulkoin (a)||carpet snake (1), flood-water (2)|
|Bunda (b)||native cat (3), white eagle-hawk (4)|
|Dilebi B||Baring (c)||turtle (5), lightning (6), rock carpet snake (7)|
|Turowaine (d)||bat (8), black eagle-hawk (9)|
Making use of the diagram as an illustration, we have the following result. The letters are attached to the names in the table, the numerals attached to the totems being made use of in the next chapter.
|m. Ab ...||... f. Ab|
This shows that the child takes the class name of its father and that sub-class which with his represents his class Kubatine.
The line of descent is therefore in the male line, being thus in strong contrast with all the tribes having four sub-class systems which I have enumerated.
Tribes which have the same class system extend over a considerable tract of country between the Kaiabara and the coast. Mr. Harry E. Aldridge obtained particulars of their class systems many years ago, and also enabled me to show their positions on the map which faces page 58.
Their sub-class names are the same as those of the Kaiabara with slight differences due to local dialects. In the following example the two class names are given, thus showing a wider extension of the names which were first observed in one of the Kamilaroi tribes.
In Great Sandy Island there is the same system, and I obtained the following from a man who was Theirwein-wurumi.
|Not known||Balgoin||Thulla||water snake|
In this tribe, and probably in all tribes between the Bunya-Bunya Mountains and Great Sandy Island, descent is in the male line. For instance my informant, Theirwein-wurumi, took his class and totem names from his father.
I am not able to define the northern limits of this class system, but it must be south of Rockhampton, for a new set of names comes in there with female descent, of which the Kuinmurbura tribe, which occupied the peninsula between Broad Sound and Shoalwater Bay, is the example.
The Kongulu tribe, south-westerly from the Kuinmurbura, also marks the limits of this system.
I am indebted to Dr. W. E. Roth for the following example of a tribe with male descent at the Annan River near Cooktown.
|Walar||a bee ||Wandi||eagle-hawk|
|Murla||a bee ||Jorro||a bee|
This system is peculiar in that the classes and the sub-classes have animal names, and are apparently totems, which, as before mentioned, is a rare occurrence. In this tribe descent is in the male line, for instance the children of a man who is, say, Murla-Jorro are Murla-Kutchal.
Tribes with Eight Sub-Classes and Male Descent
The occurrence of tribes in Central Australia with four sub-classes and apparently male descent came under the notice of Dr. Lorimer Fison and myself before the year 1880, but in the absence of further information it was not made use of. It is due to the epoch-making work of Spencer and Gillen that a full knowledge of the organisation of the native tribes of that part of Australia has been obtained. They have pointed out that in the Arunta tribe descent runs in the male line, and we may regard the Arunta as typical of the large group of tribes inhabiting the centre of the continent, from Lake Eyre in the south to near Port Darwin in the north, in which descent is thus counted.
In all that vast extent of country the development of the social organisation has been from four sub-classes to eight, and on the basis of male descent. It is therefore not surprising that so far no tribes have been met with with the eight sub-classes and descent still maintained in the female line.
Messrs. Spencer and Gillen point out that each sub-class in the Arunta tribe is in fact further divided into two groups, with the effect that, while for example a Panunga man marries one of the Purula women, those women are divided into two groups, the members of one of which stand in the relationship of "Unawa," whom he may marry, while the members of the other stand in the relationship of "Unkulla," whom he may not marry.
The other two sub-classes are similarly divided, so that the complete eight sub-class system is shown in the diagram below:—
The fact that the old name is still used for one-half of a sub-class, while a new one has been given to the other half, is very significant of the manner in which the segmentation of the class divisions has been made by deliberate intention.The eight sub-class system prevails in a large number of tribes extending from the Urabunna a little north of Lake Eyre to near Port Darwin, in all of which descent is counted in the male line.
Tribes with Anomalous Class System and Female Descent
I have traced the progressive development of the social organisation, from the two-class system with maternal descent through various stages, to eight sub-classes and descent counted in the male line. I now return to the two-class system, with female descent, in order to trace out the alteration of the social organisation, in another direction, with different results.The most convenient starting-point in this line of inquiry will be the Wotjobaluk tribe, whose northern limits adjoin the southern boundary of the Wiimbaio, whose class names, Mukwara and Kilpara, are the equivalents of the Wotjobaluk classes Gamutch and Krokitch respectively. The class system of this tribe is in some respects peculiar.
|Gamutch||Jalan||deaf adder||Yurn||native cat|
|Ngungul||the sea||Sub-totems not known|
|Ngari||bull oak (Casuarina|
|Wurant||black cockatoo||Joya||a small iguana|
|Gurumil||a small snake|
|Krokitch||Ngaui||the sun||Bunjil||the star Fomalhault|
|Garchuka||galah cockatoo||Gotjun||native companion|
|Barewun||a cave||Sub-totems ascertainable|
|Wartwut||the hot wind||Tikomai||a venomous snake|
|Mindai||a small snake|
|Wurip||a small bird|
|Munya||a tuber||Sub-totems not ascertainable|
The class names, totems, and sub-totems are called mir.
This system seems to be a peculiar development of the class systems of the Darling River tribes. But in this case some of the totems have advanced almost to the grade of sub-classes, and they have a markedly independent existence.
The new features are the numerous groups of sub-totems attached to the classes Gamutch and Krokitch respectively. It seems as if some of the totems of a two-class system had grown in importance, leaving the remaining totems behind in obscurity; and probably this has arisen through this tribe dividing the whole universe between the two classes, as, for instance, the Wiraduri do. Another peculiarity is that some of the totems have synonyms. Thus Ngaui has a second name, Ngaui-na-guli, or men of the sun. Moreover, it is said to be closely attached to Garchuka, which one of my informants claimed as a "second name of his mir," in fact, that both Ngaui and Garchuka were his names, but he said that Ngaui was specially his name, because "Garchuka came a little behind it." On the other hand, another informant, who also claimed to be both Ngaui and Garchuka, said that he was specially Garchuka, and that "Ngaui came a little behind." Wherein the difference lay I was quite unable to ascertain, but it seemed that Ngaui and Garchuka were in fact slightly divergent appendages of the class Krokitch, under new names. This view is strengthened by the fact that the mortuary totems which will be referred to later are the same for both Ngaui and Garchuka. Gamutch-batchangal has also a second name, which is said to be only a name and not a mir. Its members are called "darau-yau-ngau-uing," "we are warming ourselves," because Wanyip, "fire," is one of their sub-totems.
The system as tabulated is not complete. The old men who were my informants knew their own mir and the various objects which they respectively claimed as belonging to the mir, and therefore to themselves, but they were not so clear as to the other totems, excepting Batya-ngal, as to which they knew a number of objects it claimed. They said that it was formerly a very strong mir. Regarding the totems Barewun, "a cave"; Ngungul, "the sea"; and Munya, "a yam," they could not remember more than some of the mortuary totems.
The class and totem pass from mother to child, and the feminine name is formed by the postfix Gurk, as Gamutch-gurk, jalan-gurk. Thus each individual has two names when living, and after death receives another, which I have called the mortuary totem. One of my informants was Krokitch-ngaui. When he died, he would become Wurti-ngaui, which means "behind the sun," or a shadow cast behind the speaker by the sun.
The objects which are claimed by each totem are also called mir, but no one is named after them. They only belong to a person because they belong to the totem to which the person belongs. Thus one of my informants was Krokitch-ngaui, and therefore claimed Kangaroos as belonging to him. Another man of the same class and totem claimed Bunjil as belonging to him, but he is not Bunjil and does not take it for a name; he is Ngaui but not Bunjil. The true totem owns him, but he owns the sub-totem.
The system of the Buandik tribe, with the classes and totems so far as they have been ascertained, is as follows:—
|Kroki||Wereo||ti-tree||duck, wallaby, owl, cray-fish, etc.|
|Murna||an edible root||bustard, quail, small kangaroo, etc.|
|Karaal||white crestless cockatoo||kangaroo, she-oak, summer, sun, autumn, wind, etc.|
|Kumite||Mula||fish-hawk||smoke, Banksia, etc.|
|Parangal||pelican||dog. Acacia melanoxylon, fire, frost, etc.|
|Waa||crow||lightning, thunder, rain, clouds, hail, winter, etc.|
|Wila||black cockatoo||moon, stars, etc.|
|Karato||a harmless snake||fish, eels, seals, stringbark tree. etc.|
Each of these totems has the prefix burt, which means "dry," as burt-wereo, but the prefix has been omitted for clearness.
In this tribe, as in the Wotjobaluk, not only mankind but things in general are subject to these divisions, and Mr. Stewart's remarks as follows are worth quoting. "All this appears very arbitrary. I have tried in vain to find some reason for the arrangement. I asked, 'To what division does a bullock belong?' After a pause came the answer, 'It eats grass; it is Boort-wereo.' I then said, 'A cray-fish does not eat grass; why is it Boort-wereo?' Then came the reason for all puzzling questions, 'That is what our fathers said it was.'"
According to the Wotjobaluk, the tribes to the south were related to them, and, as I have said, may have formed another nation, which can be distinguished by the name for "man," in their language, namely Mara. My example is the Gournditch-mara.
|Krokitch||white cockatoo||pelican, laughing jackass, parrot, owl, mopoke, large kangaroo, native companion|
|Kaputch||black cockatoo||emu, whip-snake, opossum, brush-kangaroo, native bear, swan, eagle-hawk, sparrow-hawk|
The feminine form of the name, either of the class or the totem, is formed by the postfix Jarr, thus Krokitch and Krokitch-jarr.
This system evidently connects with the Wotjobaluk to the north, the Mt. Gambier tribe on the west, and with the tribes described by Mr. Dawson on the east. I again quote his work as to the tribes which are to the east of the Gournditch-mara, and to which the latter evidently belongs.
Mr. Dawson mentions no class names which might be the equivalents of those of the Buandik or the Wotjobaluk, and it may be inferred from his long experience that he would not have overlooked them did they exist. It seems to me probable, therefore, that, like others of the coast tribes, these have undergone social changes which have much modified their class systems.
He gives five totems, and says that the two first and the third and fourth form respectively "sister classes":—
The traditions of their origin say that the first progenitor of the tribes, the Kuhkur-minjer, or first great-great-grand-father, was by descent a long-billed cockatoo, who had for wife a Banksian cockatoo, who is called Kuurorappa-moel, or "first great-great-grandmother." Their sons and daughters belonged to the class of their mother.
The first four are totems of the Wotjobaluk, the third is one of the totems of the Gournditch-mara, and the fifth is one of the sub-totems of the Buandik. Some years ago Mr. A. L. P. Cameron was so good as to make inquiries from the natives near Mortlake, which is within the boundaries given by Mr. Dawson, and found that they had the following totemic system:—
|Krokage||white cockatoo, red crest|
He says that Karperap is supplementary to Krokage, and Kartuk to Kubitch. Krokage may marry either Kubitch or Kartuk, and Kubitch may marry either Krokage or Karperap, and the children belong to the mother's totem. These are clearly four of the "classes" given by Mr. Dawson, and it is evident that in "Kuurokeetch" we have Krokage, and that Krokage is the equivalent of Kroki of the Buandik, and Krokitch of the Wotjobaluk; while Kaputch of the Gournditch-mara is Kubitch, or Gamutch of the Wotjobaluk.
Tribes with the Two-Class System and Male Descent
On the eastern side of the Wotjobaluk and the tribes described by Mr. Dawson, which together occupy western Victoria, there was the Kulin nation described in the last chapter. Very little has been recorded as to the class organisation of this nation, and all that I have been able to preserve has been obtained from the few survivors of the Wurunjerri. Thagunworung, and Galgalbaluk tribes which are now practically extinct. As to the other tribes of the nation, all that I can say is that they had the two class names, and that no totems were known to my informants other than the one given below:—
I must here draw a distinction between the Kulin nation and a number of other tribes with these class names, the languages of which differed in so far that their word for "man" was not Kulin.
Even then a further important distinction comes into view arising out of the local organisation. The class names Bunjil and Waang are common to all with slight variation; for instance, with the Jajaurung the word Wrepil replaces Bunjil, both meaning eagle-hawk. The extent to which the class names occurred over Victoria may be roughly indicated by the extreme points known to me. North to south, from Echuca to the Port Phillip Heads, and east to west, from St. Arnaud to Mount Buffalo, being 170 miles by 200 miles at least. All these tribes, as far as I have been able to ascertain, had descent through the male line; but in the northern tribes, as for instance the Bangerang, the people who were respectively Bunjil and Waang were scattered over the tribal country in the same manner as, for instance, the Krokitch and Gamutch people of the Wotjo nation. In the southern tribes, however, such as the Wurunjerri and the Bunurong, the Bunjil and Waang people were segregated into separate localities. In this they resembled the Narrang-ga and the Narrinyeri, and the following table shows their respective distribution.
I am not able to indicate how much farther north this peculiar localisation of the social organisation extended, the intermediate tribes being extinct.
|Name and Locality of Tribe.||Class Name.||Language|
Yarra River watershed
The western end of Mount Macedon, extending to Bullengarook
South side of Dandenong Mountains
From Werribee River to Anderson's Inlet, and inland to south boundaries of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
The Bunurong tribe is mentioned by the name of its language, and those numbered 1 to 5 might also be all grouped together as Woëworung. The Bunurong certainly consisted of a number of tribes speaking that language. But the view might be justified that there are here merely two tribes, and that 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, might be looked upon as clans of the Woëworung-speaking tribe.
The Wurunjerri class system is clearly a modification of such a one as that of the Murray River tribes, or the Wolgal or Ngarigo, or perhaps it would be better expressed if I were to say that it is a survival of such a system. The single totem Thara is a survival, and the legends seem to bear witness of the others. They relate the doings of supernatural beings such as Bunjil, who is anthropomorphic, while the others are animal and yet human. The legends speak of Bunjil's "sons," or of Bunjil's "boys," who are said to have been carried up with him when he went aloft in a whirlwind to the Tharangalk-bek. When I came to inquire further as to these sons of Bunjil I found that they are stars. The following table shows what they are, and it is not an unreasonable assumption that they represent some, if not all, of the totems of the class Bunjil. The first column gives the names of Bunjil's sons, and the second that of the star.
|Tadjeri||Achernar||Phascologale pennicillata||Brush-tailed Phascologale.|
|Turnung||?||Petaurus pigmaeus||Flying mouse.|
|Yukope||α Crucis||Zinchoglossus porphyriocephalus||Green parroquet.|
|Dantun||β Crucis||Trychoglossus multicolor||Blue mountain parrot.|
|Thara||α Centauri||?||Swamp hawk.|
|Jurt-jurt||β Centauri||Tinnunculus cenchroides||Nankeen kestrel.|
The belief that these stars were the totems is strengthened by the fact that Thara, the one remaining totem of Bunjil, is one of his "boys" in the above list. Bunjil is Altair; while Nurong, Bunjil's brother, is Antares. The two stars on either side of Bunjil are his wives, being of the totem Ganewara (black swan). The stars on either side of Nurong are his wives, but the legend does not record their totems. The star which is Turnung was pointed out to me, but I cannot now identify it.
The Wurunjerri used a curious aide mémoire for Bunjil and his "boys." The little finger of the left hand is Tadjeri, the ring-finger Turnung, the middle finger Yukope, the forefinger Dantun, the thumb Thara, and the thumb of the right hand is Jurt-jurt. Here the record ends.
The totems which the class Waang must have had seem to have become totally extinct, with the exception of Ganewara, who, as the wife of Bunjil, must have been of the other class name. My informant, Berak, who was of the Waang class, knew of no totems belonging to it. He was an extraordinary repository of information as to his tribe, and had there been any legends as to the sons of Waang I am satisfied that he would have known of them.
Tribes with Anomalous Class Systems and Male Descent
I commence this series with the Yerkla tribe. The class system of this tribe has some peculiarities to which I drew the attention of my correspondent, but after further inquiries he saw no reason to alter the statement made. I have not been able to make further inquiries to explain these peculiarities, and give the system as I received it. Further reference is made to this in the next chapter.
|Budu||digger (one who digs)|
These totems appear to be localised, because the Budera and the Budu live on the back or cliff country, while the Kura and Wenung live on the immediate sea-coast. In this they resemble the Yuin, who also divide their people into those who live on the coast, those who live in the forest inland from the coast, and those who live in the mountains.
The tribes which live on the coast between Eucla and Spencer's Gulf evidently belong to the Lake Eyre group, having the same class names in variations of Matteri and Kararu. I have not been able to obtain fuller particulars as to them.In York's Peninsula were the Narrang-ga whose class system is as follows:—
|Kari—emu||Miduga||swallow||Kurnara—the northern part of the peninsula south of Wallaroo, Kadina, and Clinton|
|Waui—red kangaroo||All totems together with the class name are extinct.||Windera—the eastern part of the peninsula|
|Wiltu—eagle-hawk||Wortu||wombat||Wari—the western part of the peninsula|
|Wilthuthu—shark||Maiabado||wild goose||Dilpa—the extreme part of the peninsula|
I have added to this table the local divisions in order to show at a glance how the class organisation and the local organisation cover the same ground.
The Narrinyeri tribe was divided into eighteen local clans, each inhabiting a different tract of country. That is to say, in each of fourteen there was one totem only; in three there were three each, and in one there were two. From this we see that the process was nearly complete, of confining one totem to one locality. In the Narrang-ga tribe it was complete, but in the Narrinyeri it was in process of completion. In this process of localisation the class or sub-class, which from a process of analogy we may well believe once existed, must have died out. With the Wurunjerri it was the totems all but one which disappeared, the class names having survived. In the following table are the totems, each of which represents a clan, with the exceptions before mentioned.
The names of the clans are such as might have been at one time totems. For instance, Piltinyeri, which means "belonging to ants," has three sub-totems—leech, cat-fish, and lace-lizard. This is analogous to the system of the neighbouring Buandik, and to the totems and sub-totems of the Wotjobaluk. In others the name is strictly local, and resembles the local designations of the Narrang-ga and of the Kurnai.
|Name of Clan.||English of the Name.||Totem.|
|Bamir-inyeri||rumaii, the west||wirulde or tangari||wattle gum|
|Tanganarin||where shall we go?||manguritpuri or nori||the pelican|
|Turarorn||coot men||turi or tettituri||coot|
|(2) pingi||a water-weed|
|Mungul-inyeri||thick or muddy water||wanyi||chocolatesheldrake|
|Rangul-inyeri||howling dog||turiit-pani||dark-coloured dingo|
|Karat-inyeri||signal smoke||turiit-pani||light-coloured dingo|
|Wulloke||Artemus sp. the wood sparrow||tiyawi||a lace-lizard|
|Karowalli||gone over there||waiyi||whip-snake|
|Punguratpula||place of bulrushes||peldi||musk duck|
|Wel-inyeri||belonging to itself or by itself||nakare||black duck|
|ngumundi||black snake with red belly|
|Luth-inyeri||belonging to the sun-rising||kungari||black swan|
|kikinummi||black snake with grey belly|
|Wunyakulde||corruption of walkande, the north||nakkare||black duck|
|Ngrangatari or Gurrangwari||at the south-west or at the south-east||waukawiye||kangaroo rat|
The Raminyeri are the most westerly clan of the Narrinyeri.
The Tanganarin occupy the country at the bend of the Murray mouth. Tradition says that the tribe was nonplussed when they came down the river and found that it went into the sea, and said to one another "Where shall we go?" The Kandarl-inyeri inhabit a tract of country near the Murray mouth. Whales were frequently stranded on their coast, being possibly flurried by getting into the volume of fresh water of the Murray River. The Park-inyeri owned the deepest part of the Coorong. The Kaikalab-inyeri occupied a promontory running partly across the Coorong, and were in a good position to watch all that went to and fro. The Rangul-inyeri and the Karat-inyeri had a country infested by wild dogs. The Karat-inyeri possess a bold bluff on the shores of Lake Alexandrina, which was a good position for making and observing signals, and at this spot a lighthouse has since been built. The Pilt-inyeri is the name by which this clan is usually known, Talk-inyeri and Wulloke being in some sort sub-clans. Their arrangement of totem is singular, there being three kinds of leeches, catfish, and lace-lizards, and each one of these has a distinct name. Maninki is a large dark-coloured leech; Pomeri is the largest kind of cat-fish, and also is the name of cat-fish generally. Kallkalli is the ark-coloured lace-lizard. These are the totems belonging to the Pilt-inyeri. The Tiyawi, belonging to the Talk-inyeri, is a spotted lace-lizard. The Warrangumbi belonging to the Wulloke is a very large species of lace-lizard. The Luth-inyeri called themselves by this name, but their neighbours call them Kalatin-yeri. "Kalatin" means shining, this clan having grassy slopes that are visible at a long distance when the sun shines on them. Lath-inyeri is probably a corruption of the same word. Wunyakulde is evidently a corruption of "Walkande," north; and it was almost impossible to distinguish the difference between the two words Ngrangatari and Gurrangwari, indeed an old black would tell you to sound the "t" or not as you liked. The narrow sheet of water which trends to the south-east from the Murray mouth, and which is called Coorong by the whites, is probably a corruption of the word "Gurrangh," which means south-east.
The Yuin is another instance of a tribe in which the class system is in a decadent condition. There are no class names, or even traces of them, but very numerous totems scattered over the country, as is the case in the tribes with descent in the female line. But in this case the totem names are inherited from the father, and not from the mother. The totem name was called Budjan, and it was said to be more like Joïa, or magic, than a name; and it was in one sense a secret name, for with it an enemy might cause injury to its bearer by magic. Thus very few people knew the totem names of others, the name being told to a youth by his father at his initiation. In many cases I found that men had two Budjan, one inherited, and the other given by some medicine-man at his initiation. The following is the list of the totems which I obtained from the Yuin old men:—
|Totem Names.||Totem Names.|
| ?||emu||Gumbera||black snake|
|Guragur||kangaroo rat||Jaruat||a small owl|
|Merigong||dingo||Tiska||a small owl|
|Wagora||crow||Janan-gabatch||Echidna histrix (?)|
|Murumbul||brown snake||Gunimbil|| ?|
Although the totem was little more than a name, it still followed the old exogamous rule of not marrying within itself, although in this tribe the locality governed marriage, as in other tribes with male descent, such as the Kulin and Kurnai.From this point along the coast northwards the evidence which I have is very fragmentary, and affords little or nothing to show the social organisation of the coast tribes north of Sydney.
Tribes without Class Systems
The Kurnai is a tribe without class divisions. There is, therefore, no social organisation in the sense in which that term is used by me, and the local organisation, as will be explained in Chapter V., controls marriage in so far that it can only properly take place between members of certain reciprocal localities.
The question arises whether the Kurnai ever had a class system, or whether having had one it has died out. There is no direct proof of the former, but I think that a fair case can be made out for the latter assumption. Similarity of language points to the Kulin tribes as the stock from which the Kurnai were an offshoot. Tradition and legend both point to the Bunurong or the Wurunjerri being the parent stock.
At the time when Gippsland was settled after 1842 the oldest man in the Kutwut division of the Rrataua clan, who lived on the Albert River, said that the fathers of his people came from the west, from a country where there were a great number of blacks. A Wurunjerri legend relates that long ago Loän, who may be described, in the words of Mr. Andrew Lang, as a "non-natural man," wandered from the Yarra River, following the migration of the swans, first to the inlets of Western Port Bay and then to Corner Inlet, between Wilson's Promontory and the mainland, where he took up his abode. This is far within the country of the Kurnai, whose legends also speak of him living there with his wife Loäntuka, as the guardian of the Brataua clan.
To judge from the similarities of language, from tradition, and from common customs, the Kurnai may be considered an offshoot of the Kulin, and to have probably carried with them the Kulin class system. If the Kurnai use of the name Bunjil points to the former name of a class, then the reverence which they show to Ngarugal, the crow, may also indicate the second class name. The crow is said to be the friend of the Kurnai. It was wrong to kill a crow, and doing so, they thought, would bring on stormy weather. Tankowillin, a man whom I have mentioned elsewhere, said when I spoke to him about this belief, "I know that I should not kill and eat crow, but I have often eaten his children without his doing me any harm." Crows have a habit of following people in the bush, flying from tree to tree, and peering down at the person followed while doing so; the Kurnai say that a crow understands their language, and answers their questions by its caw, which is their affirmative ngaa.
Each Kurnai received the name of some marsupial, bird, reptile, or fish, from his father, when he was about ten years old, or at initiation. A man would say, pointing to the creature in question, "That is your thundung; do not hurt it." In two cases I know of, he said, "It will be yours when I am dead." The term thundung means "elder brother," and, while the individual was the protector of his thundung, it also protected its "younger brother," the man, by warning him in dreams of approaching danger, or, by coming towards him in its bodily shape, it assisted him, as in the case of the man Bunjil-bataluk mentioned elsewhere, or was appealed to by song charms to relieve sickness.
The thundung of the Kurnai known to me are as follows:—
|Blit-buring||a small bird|
|Noy yang||large conger-eel|
The thundung are clearly the equivalents of the totems of other tribes, and form a vestigiary survival of a class system, but I have no means of saying to which of the moieties of the tribe they once belonged, assuming those moieties to have been distinguished as Bunjil and Ngarugal.
On the Queensland border there was another coast tribe, the Chepara, who stand much in the same position as the Kurnai. They had no social organisation in classes or totems, the regulation of marriage being by locality and descent of name in the male line. When I was inquiring into the organisation of this tribe, the absence of classes and totems seemed to me so remarkable that I caused my
correspondent to make further investigation. He did so, and reported to me that his informants assured him that they had no such names. His principal informant, one of the oldest of the men, was well acquainted with the Kamilaroi sub-class names, and was therefore in a position to speak with certainty, and he said that there were no such in his tribe. It was apparently the same with the Turrbal tribe on the Pine River near Brisbane, whose country overlapped that claimed by the Chepara.
The Equivalence of Class Names
The equivalence of class or sub-classes long ago attracted my attention when I was studying the organisation of the Kamilaroi tribes. I found on comparing the class divisions of any large group of allied tribes such as the Kamilaroi, that the several tribes have more or less marked differences in their classes and sub-classes, either in the names themselves or in extreme cases in their arrangement. These differences are often merely dialetic variations of name; but in other cases they amount to differences in the structure of the system itself. When a still larger group of tribes is examined the variations become wider and the differences greater. Nevertheless the general identity of structure and of the fundamental laws of the classes over wide areas proves, beyond doubt, that these varied forms are substantially equivalent.
I may note here that the boundaries of a class system are usually wider than those of a tribe, and that the boundaries of any one type of system have a still wider range, and include those aggregates of tribes which I have termed nations. All such aggregates are bound together by a community of class organisation which indicates a community of descent.
A few instances will show how this equivalence of class is recognised. In the Wotjobaluk tribe the two class names are Krokitch and Gamutch. To the north the Wotjobaluk adjoined the Wiimbaio, whose class names are Mukwara and Kilpara. A Wotjobaluk man, who was Krokitch, told me that when he went to the latter tribe he was Kilpara, and that the people there told him that Gamutch was the same as Mukwara.
A similar statement was made to me by a man of the tribe which is the next to the Wiimbaio up the Murray River. He said that he was Kilpara, but when he went south into the Wimmera country he was Krokitch, and his wife added that, being Mukwara, she was Gamutch.
I learned from a survivor of the Gal-gal-baluk clan of the Jajaurung tribe, who belonged to the Avoca River, that two sets of class names met there, Bunjil and Waang, of his tribe, and Krokitch and Gamutch of the tribe living to the west of that river. In the south-west of Victoria the same sets of class names meet between Geelong and Colac, where Kroki is equal to Bunjil and Kumitch to Waang.
On the Maranoa River, in southern Queensland, two types of the four sub-class system meet, the equivalents of the Kamilaroi names on the one side, and of the northern Queensland names on the other. There, as it was put to me, "a Hippai man is also Kurgilla," and so on with the other names. To the north-east of the Maranoa three types of the four class systems meet, as pointed out a few pages back. The Ungorri names are on the one side the equivalents of the sub-class names Hipai, Kombo, Murri, Kobi, and on the other those of the Emon tribe, Urgilla, Anbeir, Wungo, and Ubur.
The Maikolon names on the Cloncurry River are the equivalents of those of the Kugobathi on the Mitchell River, on the east side of the Gulf of Carpentaria.
West of the Wiradjuri nation is a vast area occupied by two-class tribes. The names Kilpara and Mukwara extend to the Grey Range in a north-west direction, and there adjoin the class names of tribes such as the Yantruwunta, namely, Kulpuru and Tiniwa. In this case it seems that Kulpuru is the equivalent of Kilpara, and Tiniwa of Mukwara. The Yantruwunta names are the equivalents of the Dieri names, Tiniwa being the same as Kararu, and Kulpuru as Matteri.
This identification would therefore take us southwards through a number of tribes to Port Lincoln, where those latter names occur.
To the westward of Lake Eyre there is the Urabunna tribe, with the same class names as the Dieri, in the form given by Spencer and Gillen, of Matthurie and Kirarawa. This tribe adjoins the Arunta on the north, and the remarks of those authors as to the equivalence of the four sub-classes of the Arunta and the two classes of the "Urabunna" are so apposite, that I quote them to exemplify what I have said on this subject.
They say that it not infrequently happens that a man from the neighbouring Arunta tribe comes to live among the Urabunna. In the former there are four sub-classes, viz. Bulthara and Panunga, Kumara and Purula, and in addition descent is counted in the male line. Accordingly the men of the Bulthara and Purula sub-classes are regarded as equivalent to the Matthurie moiety of the Urabunna tribe, and those of the Panunga and Kumara sub-classes as the equivalents of the Kirarawa. In just the same way a Matthurie man going into the Arunta tribe becomes either a Bulthara or Purula, and a Kirarawa man becomes either Panunga or Kumara. Which of the two a Matthurie man belongs to is decided by the old men of the group into which he goes. This deliberate change in the grouping of the classes and sub-classes so as to make them fit in with the maternal line of descent, or with the paternal, as the case may be, will be more easily understood from the accompanying table.
|Arunta.||Urabunna Arrangement of the Arunta Sub-Class.|
|Bulthara||Moiety A||Bulthara||Moiety A (Matthurie)|
|Kumara||Moiety B||Panuga||Moiety B (Kirarawa)|
The working out of this has the result that the children belong to the right moiety of the tribe into which the man has gone.The authors very justly observe that the natives are quite capable of thinking such things out for themselves, and it is perhaps not without a degree of suggestiveness in regard to the difficult question of how a change in the line of descent might be brought about.
I am indebted to Dr. Roth for the following particulars as to the Annan River tribe. The sub-class names are held to be equivalent to those of an adjacent tribe belonging to those which have the four names, Kurkilla, Banbari, Wungko, Kupuru, but arranged in the following order, the effect being to bring out descent in the male line, thus agreeing with the descent in the Annandale tribe. It follows that in corresponding marriages in the adjacent tribe the arrangement of the Annan River sub-class names would be reversed.
|Annan River Sub-Classes.||Wakelbura Sub-Classes.|
|Wandi||Moiety A||Wungko||Moiety A|
|Jorri||Moiety B||Kupuru||Moiety B|
This is another instance of a change made intentionally to effect a purpose.
To this I would add that it strengthens the view which Dr. Fison and I long ago advanced, that the changes made in the social organisation of the tribes, including the classificatory system of relationships, were matters of deliberate intention and not the result of chance.
In the following table I have given some of the systems which are the equivalents of each other. I have taken the classes and in some cases the sub-classes for comparison, omitting the totems which are not essential for my purpose, and which would be of use mainly to determine some doubtful case of equivalence. For the purpose of bringing this question into the shortest range of view, I have abbreviated the connected chain by taking those cases which are most typical, and which I have specially noticed in this section. But it must not be supposed that the tribes noticed touch each other in all cases, for some of them are hundreds of miles apart. It is the class system which touches another class system, as that of the Wotjobaluk touches that of the Wiimbaio, and the equivalence would be recognised by tribes of the respective organisations, who, though living far apart, are aware of the fact by seeing men of the other class at the great tribal meetings. In the south-west of Victoria, if a man of the Lake Bolac tribe, being a Krokitch, were to marry a woman or the Woëworung-speaking people, she would be of the Bunjil class, that being the equivalent of Krokitch, while Krokitch equals Waang. An instance of the manner in which this works is within my own experience. I happened to meet with a man from the Upper Diamantina River who had been brought down south. In speaking to him of the place he came from, I said that I thought the names Kurgila, Banbe, Wungo, and Kuburu were to be found there. He said, "Yes, I am Wungo." Then I said that away farther south of that place there were four names different to those of his tribe, Ipai, Kumbo, Murri, and Kubbi, and that, if I were there, blackfellows might call me Ipai, and that Ipai is the same as Kurgila. He thought for a moment and then said, "Then you are the same as brother to my father." This was quite correct, for Kurgila marries Kuburuan and their son is Wungo. Among themselves this would have formed a real class relationship, and the respective rights and duties attached to it would have been recognised and acted on as a matter of course.
In the table given below the chain apparently ends at the Belyando River, but in fact this class system extends to the upper waters of the Flinders River in a slightly varied form of names. Its furthest point occurs on the Upper Cloncurry River where it is followed by that of the Maikolon tribe. I have not been able to make out the equivalence of the Wakelbura type of names with those of the Maikolon, but when this is done, the link will be supplied to complete the chain of equivalent systems from Mount Gambier to the Mitchell River in Queensland, a distance of over 1500 miles in a straight line.
Wherever two systems touch each other the members of the adjacent tribes invariably know which of the neighbouring classes corresponds to their own, and therefore the individual knows well with which class or sub-class of the other tribe his own intermarries; and he knows also, though perhaps not quite so well, the marriage relations of the other class or sub-class as the case may be.
|Wimmera||Murray River||Gwydir River||Bunya
While the latter series of changes leads to the extinction of the class system, the process of development by the segmentation of the sub-classes seems to tend to permanence. Why this should be, it is not easy to say. It may be because the tribes along the coast, amongst whom the extinction of the class system has been most evident, are much smaller and more isolated than the tribes on the great inland stretches of country where the same conditions extend for hundreds of miles. The area occupied by a tribe like the Kurnai is small and very isolated in comparison to that occupied by the Lake Eyre tribes, but infinitely better watered and more prolific in food supplies.
The two exogamous class divisions begin the series of changes which I have described, and it may now be asked how they themselves originated. My opinion is, that it was by the same process as that by which the four arose from the two, namely by the division of an original whole, which I have referred to as the Undivided Commune.
The two classes have been intentionally divided into four and eight sub-classes, so that it does not seem to me unreasonable to conclude also that the segmentation of the hypothetical Commune was made intentionally by the ancestors of the Australian aborigines.
In his late work Mr. Andrew Lang dissents from this hypothesis, and quotes a number of writers in support of his opinion to prove that the two exogamous classes had their origin in the amalgamation of two separate and independent local totem groups. Of the writers he has quoted, only one, viz. the Rev. John Mathew, has or had a personal acquaintance with the Australian blacks. He advances a similar theory to that of Mr. Lang, based on some bird myths and legends of Victorian tribes. He speaks of a pristine conflict between two races of men contesting for the possession of Australia, "the taller and more powerful and more fierce Eagle-hawk race overcoming and in places exterminating the weaker, more scantily equipped sable Crows." This hypothesis, as I understand it, infers that the two class divisions arose from the amalgamation of two groups, the totem of one being Eagle-hawk, and of the other Crow. I still see no reason to vary the opinion first advanced by Dr. Lorimer Fison and myself, and subsequently endorsed by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, than whom none have had better opportunities of forming an independent opinion as to the probabilities of the case. I say "probabilities" advisedly, for the momentous change in the social system must have occurred in the far distance of prehistoric time. We can see the results, but can only infer the possible causes.
Totems and Totemism
In speaking of the social organisation I have given a considerable number of lists of totems in connection with the class and sub-class divisions. In the chapter on Marriage and Descent I have further considered the totems in regard to these subjects. Something remains to be said as to the relations of the individual and the totem when it is a living creature. Each totem name represents a group of persons, and for this totem the term "group totem" is appropriate. It represents those persons who, to use a Wiradjuri expression, are all of the same budjan. The group totem is in some tribes inherited from the mother, in others from the father; while in some, such as the Arunta, it is not inherited, the child being the reincarnated Alcheringa ancestor.
But there is another totem which is not inherited, but which is given to a youth at his initiation, as for instance at the Burbung of the Wiradjuri. The case of Murri-kangaroo, mentioned elsewhere, is in point. His group budjan was Kangaroo, inherited from his mother; his personal budjan was Tiger-snake, which he received during the apparently hypnotic suggestions to which his father, a noted medicineman of that tribe, subjected him.
A third totem is not inherited, nor is it given, because a child when born becomes at once its brother if a boy, or its sister if a girl. This is the sex totem, of which the Wotjobaluk tribe gives one of the best examples. In it the Bat, Ngunun-ngunut, is the brother of all the men, and Yartatgurk, the Owlet-nightjar, is the sister of all the women. In this tribe the group totem is called by the terms Mir, Ngirabtil, and Yauruk, the latter word meaning flesh, frequently expanded into Yauruk-gologeitch, that is "flesh-of-all." These terms apply equally to the group and sex totems. I know of no personal totems in this tribe, probably because it had no initiation ceremonies of the Burbung type at which such names are given.
Very little came under my notice in Victorian tribes as to any objection to kill or eat the totem. This is partly due, I think, to the fact that in the Kulin tribes there was only one totem attached to the class Bunjil, and none to that of Waang. These tribes covered a great part of that State. They leave only the tribes of the Western District, with those along the course of the Murray River and in the extreme North-eastern District, unaccounted for.
As to the tribes of the south-west, they have been described at length by Mr. James Dawson, but there ppears not to be any mention in his work of the totems in connection with any subject but marriage. His acquaintance with these tribes dated back to such an early time in the settlement of Victoria that I can scarcely imagine that, if there had been any marked beliefs as to the totem names, he must have become acquainted with them. But, on the other hand, these tribes had for neighbours on the west the Buandik, whose beliefs as to the totems I shall quote shortly. On the north-west the tribes which Mr. Dawson describes were the neighbours of the Wotjo nation. It seems therefore singular that the tribes of South-west Victoria had no rules prohibiting the killing of the totems.
The Wotjobaluk would not harm his totem if he could avoid it, but at a pinch he would eat it in default of other food. In order to injure another person he would, however, kill that person's totem. To dream about his own totem means that some one has done something to it for the purpose of harming the sleeper or one of his totemites. But if he dreams it again, it means himself, and if he thereupon falls ill, he will certainly see the wraith of the person who is trying to "catch" him. The same beliefs are held by the other tribes of this nation.
The Buandik, with four other tribes associated with it, have the same organisation as the Wotjobaluk, the class names being merely in a different dialect. A man would not kill or use for food any of the animals of the same subdivision with himself, excepting when compelled by hunger, and then he expresses sorrow for having to eat his Wingong (friend), or Tumung (his flesh). When using the latter word, the Buandik touch their breasts to indicate the close relationship, meaning almost a part of themselves.
One of that tribe killed a crow. Three or four days afterwards a Boortwa (Crow) man died. He had been ailing for some days, but the killing of his Wingong hastened his death.
These statements probably apply equally to the other four tribes.
As I have already pointed out, the Kurnai have the survivals of what were once group totems, that is, certain marsupials, and birds, fish, and reptiles, which are the thundung (elder brothers) of men, and bauung (elder sisters) of women. Under the influence of male descent these names are restricted to certain localities, and not scattered throughout the tribal country. As I have indicated in the chapter on Marriage, a man brings his wife to his own locality; she does not transmit her bauung name to her children, but he transmits his. The names are therefore perpetuated from generation to generation in the same locality, and in this manner have become localised. In the sense, however, that they are now common to the members of certain families in the same tract of country, they are still group totems.
Usually the bramung or younger brother of one of these totems will not injure or kill his thundung, nor willingly see another person do so, but there are exceptions to this; for instance, men of the conger-eel totem at the Snowy River eat it, and I have known a man of the kangaroo totem eat that animal. These cases may be taken as instances of the general breaking down of the totemic system, possibly through similar causes to those which have produced such changes in the class systems of the coast tribes and the development of local exogamy in them.
Among the Yuin a man might not kill or eat his Jimbir, also called Budjan. In addition to the group totem, the novice receives an individual totem at the initiation ceremonies from some one of the Gommeras. In one instance which came under my notice, this individual totem was Wombat, and the medicine-man who gave it said to the novice, "You must not eat it." The novice was of the Kaualgar or Kangaroo totem by inheritance from his father. Another man of the Kangaroo Jimbir believed that animal gave him warnings of danger, by hopping towards him, and he said that it would not be right for a Kaualgar man to kill a kangaroo. This was the group totem of that man.
That in this tribe the totem is thought to be in some way part of a man is seen clearly by the case of Umbara, before mentioned, who told me that, many years ago, some one of the Burnagga budjan (Lace-lizard totem) sent it while he was asleep, and that it went down his throat, and almost ate his Budjan, which was in his breast, so that he nearly died. This man could not eat his Budjan, Black Duck, which in its corporeal form gave him warnings against enemies or other dangers.
The Narrinyeri totem passes from father to child, who might not kill or eat it, although another person might do so. In the Wonghibon tribe a man would not kill or eat his totem unless under great pressure of hunger. In the tribes within fifty miles of Maryborough (Queensland), each boy has a totem called Pincha, which is given to him by his father, and which he calls Norn, that is, "brother." For instance, say that a man's Pincha is Fish-eagle (kunka), he gives to each of his sons a Pincha; for instance, to one a kangaroo (guruman), to another a large white grub (pu-yung) which is found in gum-trees, and so on. A man does not kill or eat his Pincha. Moreover, he is supposed to have .some particular affinity to his father's Pincha, and is not permitted to eat it.
In the Wakelbura tribe the totem animal is spoken of as "father." For example, a man of the Binnung-urra (Frilled-lizard totem) holds that reptile as sacred, and he would not only not kill it, but would protect it by preventing another person doing so in his presence. Similarly a man of the Screech-owl totem would call it "father," and likewise hold it sacred and protect it. So far does the feeling go, that when a man could not get satisfaction for an injurious action by another, he has been known to kill that beast, bird, or reptile which that man called "father," and thus obtain revenge, and perhaps cause the other to do the same, if he knew of it. A man who was lax as to his totem was not thought well of, and was never allowed to take any important part in the ceremonies.
There are two birds which the Kurnai reverence: the Emu-wren and the Superb Warbler, which, are the sex totems, and no man would think under any circumstances of injuring his "elder brother," Yiirung, or any woman her "elder sister," Djiitgun. Thus, as to these sex totems, the usual totemic taboo exists. The totem is the protector of the individual, and the individual protects his totem.
The sex totems were first observed and reported by me among the Kurnai, where Yiirung, the Emu-wren, is the elder brother of the men, and Djiitgun the elder sister of the women. The sex totems, when first seen, presented a novel but a perplexing problem, because they merely divide the tribe into two moieties, one including all the males and the other all the females.
The true character of the sex totem is shown by the Wotjobaluk expression, "The life of a bat is the life of a man," meaning that to injure a bat is to injure some man, while to kill one is to cause some man to die. The same saying applies to the Owlet-nightjar with respect to women.There is a very peculiar custom connected with these totems, namely, that they are the cause of fighting between the sexes, not only in the Kurnai tribe but also in all the tribes in which I have found them.
In the Kurnai tribe sometimes ill-feeling arose between the men and the women, and then some of the latter went out and killed one of the men's brothers to spite them. On their return to the camp with the victim, the men attacked them with their clubs, and they defended themselves with their digging-sticks. Or the men might go out and kill a woman's "sister," whereupon the women would attack them.
But the most remarkable feature of these fights over the killing of the man's brother or of the woman's sister, was when there were young women who were marriageable, but not mated, and when the eligible bachelors were backward. In this tribe, as I have explained in the chapter on Marriage, there was no practice of betrothal, the cases thereof being so rare as to prove the rule. Marriage was by elopement, and therefore the young woman had the power to refuse, unless constrained by the incantations of the Bunjil-yenjin.
Under such circumstances some of the elder women went out, and having killed a Yiirung, returned to the camp and casually let some of the men see it, who became enraged at one of their brothers being killed. The young men and the young women then armed themselves with clubs and sticks and fought together. In this fight it was only those young men who had been made Jeraeil, and who were now allowed by the old men to marry, who took part in these affrays.
On the following day the young men went out and killed a Djiitgun, which would occasion another fight when they came back. By and by, when the bruises and perhaps wounds received in these fights had healed, a young man and a young woman might meet, and he, looking at her, would say, for instance, "Djiitgun! What does the Djiitgun eat?" The reply would be, "She eats kangaroo, opossum," or some other game. This constituted a formal offer and an acceptance, and would be followed by the elopement of the couple as described in the chapter on Marriage.Fights between the sexes on account of the killing of the brother or sister totem occurred in a great number of tribes, and probably in all the tribes now referred to; but it is only in the Kurnai tribe that I have met with the sex-totems as instrumental in promoting marriage.
In the Wotjobaluk tribe such fights arose out of some ill-feeling, when men, for instance, would kill an owlet-nightjar and tell of doing so in the camp. The women would then in their turn kill a bat, and carry it to the camp on the point of a stick which had been thrust through it, and with a piece of wood in its mouth to keep it open. This was held up in triumph, the oldest woman walking first and the younger ones following, and all shouting "Yeip! Yeip!" (Hurrah!)
The men met them with clubs and boomerangs, the women being armed with their digging-sticks, and a great fight would ensue. At times the men used spears against the women, who defended themselves by turning them aside or breaking them with their sticks.
In such a fight, which might last, off and on, for an hour, women have been speared; but, on the other hand, they have been known to give the men a good drubbing with their sticks.
I have traced the totems as far as the Buandik, but the Narrinyeri do not seem to have had them. They occur in the tribes of the Murray River and of Riverina, and as far as the northern boundaries of the Wonghibon.
In South-Western Victoria the men look upon the bat (Ngung-ngutch) as sacred to them, and the women claim the small nightjar (Eratiyerk).
The Wurunjerri not only had the Bat (Ngunun-ngunut) and the Owlet-nightjar (Ngari-barm-goruk), but the Kurnai totems also, under the names of Bunjil-boroin, meaning "twilight," for the Emu-wren, and of the Wurn-goruk for the Superb Warbler.
The Yuin sex totems are the Bat and the Emu-wren as the men's brother, and the Tree-creeper (Tinte-gallan) as the women's sister.
At Port Stephens the Bat and the Tree-creeper are the Gimbai or "friends" of the men and women respectively. The men took the bat under their protection, and woe betide any woman who attempted to injure one. The bat was also called Kuri, that is "man."
It was said in the Turrbal tribe that the small Bat made the men, and the Night-hawk made the women. Mr. Tom Petrie of North Pine River, Brisbane, has described the fight between the sexes about them, by saying that the men out of mischief would kill a woman's sister, and then in turn the women killed a man's brother, when there would be a fight, or rather "a sort of jolly fight, like skylarking." As Mr. Harry E. Aldridge of Maryborough (Queensland) has no knowledge of the sex totems, it is probable that they do not extend farther north than Brisbane.
I am quite unable to offer any suggestion as to the origin of the sex totems. I am not aware of any case in which they have been eaten. They are thought to be friendly to the sex they are akin to, and are protected by it.
The Wotjobaluk saying that "the life of a bat is the life of a man" seems to me to explain why the killing of that totem causes the men to be so enraged. To injure a bat is to injure some man, but as this is a group totem, so far as in that it includes all the men, each of them may justly fear that he is the particular one whose life will be affected.
As totemism combined with exogamy is at the root of the social organisation, it requires some special mention here. In this connection I may now say that I entirely agree with the opinion expressed by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, that the relation between totemism and exogamy is merely a secondary feature, the primary functions of the former having probably been in existence before the latter became established.
There is much difference of opinion as to the origin of what is termed totemism, and a number of hypotheses have been framed to account for it.
It has always seemed to me that the origin of totems and totemism must have been in so early a stage of man's social development that traces of its original structure cannot be expected in tribes which have long passed out of the early conditions of matriarchal times. Yet if anywhere in the still savage regions of the world there are any living survivals of early totemism, surely it must be in Australia that they are to be sought for.
Therefore there are but three of the hypotheses referred to with which I feel myself concerned. First, that advanced by Messrs Spencer and Gillen; the second, which is substantially the same, but independently arrived at by Dr. J. G. Frazer; and the third by Mr. Andrew Lang. Professor Haddon has also made a suggestion bearing on totemism which must be considered.
Messrs. Spencer and Gillen say, that in Australian tribes the primary function of a totemistic group is to ensure by magic a supply of the object which gives its name to the totemistic group. There is an important series of traditions in the Arunta tribe which deals with a gradual development, and with a former state of organisation and custom quite different from, and in important respects at variance with, the organisation and customs of the present day.
The traditions point to the introduction of an exogamic law after the totemic groups were fully developed, and also that the introduction of that system was due to the deliberate action of certain ancestors.
The hypothesis starts with the assumption of the existence of totemic groups; but these legends do not help us, since they assume the descent of mankind from the objects whose names they bear. But I think that we may safely go so far as to consider it very probable, if food animals and plants were totems in the earliest times, that magical practices might easily arise for the purpose of increasing the food supply of the pristine totemic groups. Such practices would, to use the words of Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, as I understand them, be the primary function of such groups.In connection with this, I may remark that the very great development of the magical ceremonies of Central Australian tribes, connected with the "primary" functions of such groups, appear to me to have arisen necessarily out of the climatic conditions of that part of Australia; while their absence in the tribes of South-Eastern Australia is due to the far more favourable conditions under which they have lived.
Dr. Frazer's views are, shortly, as follows. The Intichiuma ceremonies appear to indicate that each totem group was charged with the superintendence of some department of nature, from which it took its name. The control was by magical means to procure for the members of the community, on the one hand, a plentiful supply of all the commodities of which they stood in need; and, on the other hand, an immunity from all the perils and dangers to which man is exposed in his struggle with nature.
Dr. J. G. Frazer informs me that this view was first suggested by him in a letter to Professor Baldwin Spencer in the autumn of 1898, in reply to which the latter informed him that he had been coming to the same conclusion.
Accordingly, when Professor Baldwin Spencer visited England afterwards, he read the paper already quoted, which contained the views of Mr. Gillen and himself.
Thus Dr. Frazer independently arrived at the same conclusion, and raised the same hypothesis as to the primary functions of the pristine groups.
This hypothesis takes us back far into the time when the function of each totem group was to secure the multiplication of the particular object the name of which it bore.
But the totem group is seen there to be fully formed, and the question still remains, How was it that men assumed the names of objects, which in fact must have been the commencement of totemism?It is to this aspect of the question that Mr. Andrew Lang has addressed himself especially. He holds that the problem of the commissariat must have kept the pristine groups very small. They were at first anonymous, and each group would need a special name for each of its unfriendly neighbours. He considers that as likely as not there would be animal names given for various reasons. Thus the plant and animal names would be impressed upon each group from without, and some of them would stick, would be stereotyped, and each group would come to answer to its nickname.
To me, judging of the possible feelings of the pristine ancestors of the Australians by their descendants of the present time, it seems most improbable that any such nicknames would have been adopted and have given rise to totemism, nor do I know of a single instance in which such nicknames have been adopted.
I could more easily imagine that these early savages might, through dreams, have developed the idea of relationships with animals, or even with plants. Such dreams as those of the medicine-man Bunjil-bataluk, who was a Lace-lizard, according to his dreams and in his own belief, or of the Biraark who dreamed that he was a Kangaroo, and assisted at their corrobboree, are cases in point.
The hypothesis suggested by Professor Haddon is that groups of people, at a very early period, by reason of their local environment, would have special varieties of food.
This receives support from the fact that analogous names obtain now in certain tribes, e.g. the Yuin.
A question suggests itself, as to whether the ceremonies of the Dieri and other Lake Eyre tribes, which are the equivalents of the Intichiuma ceremonies, may be considered as the survival of primitive belief and custom, or whether they are a peculiar evolution of totemism. The Dieri tribe in its organisation, and in its customs and beliefs, is one of the most backward-standing tribes I know of, and therefore it would not be surprising if the magical food-producing ceremonies were retained, while other tribes have departed from them.
Assuming that the Dieri do, in fact, continue ceremonies which belonged to the primary functions of the early totemistic groups, it may be worth considering whether there are any apparent reasons why the native tribes in other parts of Australia have abandoned them. I have before pointed out that the tribes can be arranged in a series: first those with Pirrauru marriage; then those in which that form of marriage has become a rudimentary custom; and finally those which have more or less lost their class organisation, and have developed a form of individual marriage.
Now compare such a series of tribes with regard to these magical food-producing ceremonies, and also as to the climatic conditions under which they live. We shall find that the Lake Eyre tribes are under a minimum rainfall, a very high temperature, and a prevailing aridity, with fertile intervals, when there is abundance of animal and vegetable food supplies. At the further end of the series, whether in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, or South Australia, the tribes living, say, on the coast lands, are under climatic conditions very different from those of Central Australia, with a good rainfall, a more temperate climate, and a plentiful and constant food supply, both animal and vegetable. This comparison comes out clearly when the tables of rainfall, given in the introductory chapter, are inspected.
This comparison will fall in line with former conclusions, namely, that the tribes of the Lake Eyre basin have remained in a far more primitive condition socially than those of the south-east of Australia.
If so, it would point to conditions of better climate, and more abundant and regular food supply, as potent causes in the advancement of the social condition of the south-east tribes. At present it is not known what is the condition of the tribes which exist in the great western deserts between South Australia and Western Australia. Their social organisation would be of the greatest interest for comparison with that of tribes living in the more fertile parts of this continent.
Taking all into consideration, I feel that the most probable conclusion to arrive at is, that the Intichiuma ceremonies represent a very early form of totemistic beliefs; but beyond that, there are not sufficient data to allow of a safe hypothesis as to the origin of the totemic names.Yet it may be well to keep in view that no two tribes are practically at the same point of development, as indicated for instance by an advance from group marriage to some form of individual marriage. Thus I see no difficulty in believing that while the Arunta have reached male descent with segmentation into eight sub-classes, they may have retained early beliefs as to their totem ancestors.
- Wonk means "language."
- The Witchetty grub of Spencer and Gillen.
- Helaus perforatus.
- J. Hogarth.
- Op. cit. p. 114.
- Professor Baldwin Spencer tells me that in the northern part of the Urabunna tribe the totem is called Paltinta, and that Mr. Gillen found it at William's Creek to be Thunthunnie. At the Peak the class names were Kirara and Matthurie.
- Acacia aneura.
- A small edible bulb.
- A large snake.
- A bat.
- An owl.
- Australian robin.
- A water-rat.
- J. W. Boultbee.
- J. W. Boultbee.
- M. J. Feehan.
- A. L. P. Cameron. Op. cit. Journal Anthrop. Inst. vol. xiv. p. 348.
- J. Bulmer.
- A. L. P. Cameron. Op. cit. p. 349.
- Rev. J. Bulmer, verified by me.
- J. A. I. ii. p. 259.
- P. 56
- E. Palmer.
- J. B. Gribble
- The same is the case with the tribes of the Itchumundi nation, the two names being Mukolo and Ngielpuru, and these names accompany the class names Mukwara and Kilpara.
- A. L. P. Cameron, op. cit. p. 345, and subsequent correspondence.
- There is no explanation why Budthurung is also a totem.
- A. L. P. Cameron.
- Robert Crowthers.
- James Lalor.
- J. Lalor.
- F. Palmer.
- D. M'Donald.
- W. H. Flowers.
- "Girroon bah" in the Queenslander, December 28, 1895.
- J. Lalor.
- J. C. Muirhead.
- J. H. Kirkham.
- Jocelyn Brooke.
- Op. cit. pp. 71, 72.
- Op. cit. p. 72.
- Mrs. J. Smith, op. cit. pp. ix. x.; Kamilaroi and Kurnai, D. S. Stewart, p. 168.
- "Autumn" and "wind" are feminine.
- Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 169.
- Rev. J. H. Stähle.
- Op. cit. p. 26.
- I have here to correct a previous statement in my paper, "Further Notes on the Australian Class Systems," Journal Anthrop. Inst., August 1888, in which I said that Fomalhault was Bunjil. Further inquiries have satisfied me that Bunjil with the Wurunjerri was Altair, but with the Wotjobaluk it was, as I have said, Fomalhault. In the Western District tribes, according to Dawson, it was also Fomalhault. It is a curious coincidence that the principal star in the constellation Aquila is the eagle-hawk of the Wurunjerri.
- I have to thank Mr. Jas. Shaw for kindly taking much pains to ascertain this for me.
- D. Elphinstone Roe.
- This tribe calls itself Mining, "men." And Budu is explained thus: Mining-budu, "a man digs" ; Mining budera budu, "a man digs roots."
- Kornar="man," inyeri="belonging to or of."—Rev. G. Taplin and Mr. F. W. Taplin.
- The postfix yeri or inyeri, "belonging to," is omitted from some of the names in the translation.
- The names of the leech and cat-fish totems of Talk-inyeri and Wulloke have not been ascertained.
- J. M'Alpine.
- Jas. Gibson.
- Tom Petrie.
- A. L. P. Cameron.
- R. Lethbridge.
- Edward Palmer.
- Op. cit. pp. 68, 69.
- E. Palmer.
- Op. cit. p. 36.
- Eagle-hawk and Crow, p. 9.
- D. S. Stewart.
- F. W. Taplin.
- A. L. P. Cameron.
- Harry E. Aldridge.
- J. C. Muirhead.
- A. L. P. Cameron.
- William Scott.
- "On Totemism as applied to Australian Tribes," Journal Anthrop, Inst. February and May 1899.
- The Fortnightly Review, April 1899, p. 646.
- Social Origins, p. 166.
- Proceedings of British Association, 1902.