Native Tribes of South-East Australia/Chapter 5



The state of society among the early Australians was that of an Undivided Commune—The simplest existing form of social organisation is the division of a tribe into two intermarrying moieties—The Dieri as an example—The Noa relationship—The Tippa-malkii marriage and the Pirrauru marriage—Intermarrying totems of the Yendakarangu tribe—Urabunna marriage rules—Class rules have been intentionally altered to meet difficulties arising from male descent in one tribe and female in another—Marriage rules of tribes in Western New South Wales—Female captives were the property of the captor if class rules allowed the marriage—Infant betrothal was the general rule, but elopements frequently occurred—Tribes with four sub-classes and female descent—The Kamilaroi—The "half-sister" marriage of the Kamilaroi—Table of anomalous marriages—Table of Wiradjuri marriages—Peculiar marriages of the North Wiradjuri—Marriage by capture at Wakelbura ceremonies—Tribes with four sub-classes and male descent in Southern Queensland—Tribes with anomalous class systems and female descent—Tribes with two-class system and male descent—Tribes without class systems—The Kurnai of Gippsland—Marriage by elopement—The Chepara of Queensland—All regulations were made to prevent near marriages and with intention to meet a sense of tribal morality—Female descent was an earlier form than male—Maternal descent and the Salic law.

A study of the evidence which has been detailed in the last chapter has led me to the conclusion that the state of society among the early Australians was that of an "Undivided Commune." Taking this as a postulate, the influence on marriage and descent of the class division, the sub-classes and the totems may be considered on the assumption that there was once an Undivided Commune. It is, however, well to guard this expression. I do not desire to imply necessarily the existence of complete and continuous communism between the sexes. The character of the country, the necessity of moving from one spot to another in search of game and vegetable food, would cause any Undivided Commune, when it assumed dimensions greater than the immediate locality could provide with food, to break up into two or more Communes of the same character. In addition to this it is clear, after a long acquaintance with the Australian savage, that in the past, as now, individual likes and dislikes must have existed; so that, admitting the existence of common rights between the members of the Commune, these rights would remain in abeyance, so far as the separated parts of the Commune were concerned. But at certain gatherings, such as the Bunya-bunya harvest in Queensland, or on great ceremonial occasions, all the segments of the original community would re-unite. In short, so far as the evidence goes at present, I think that the probable condition of the Undivided Commune may be considered to be represented by what occurs on certain occasions when the modified Communes of the Lake Eyre tribes re-unite. It will be shown later on that each Divided Commune carries in itself strong evidence of this early condition.

The division of the community into two intermarrying moieties, the "class divisions," is the simplest form of the social organisation in the native tribes.

This fundamental law of communal division underlies and runs through all the more developed systems of four or eight sub-classes, and even shows traces of its former existence in tribes in which the class system has become decadent, and the local organisation has taken place and assumed control of marriage.

The division of the tribal community into two classes is the foundation on which the whole structure of society is built. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine how an organised society in primitive savagery could exist without a control such as that of the intermarrying classes and the strict rules which preserve their existence. One is led direct, when inquiring into the marriage customs of the native tribes, to a further inquiry into the principles of the complicated system of terms which define their relationships, and which connect in various ways the different members of the community.

Tribes with Two Classes and Female Descent

As before, I take the Dieri tribe as my starting-point. In speaking of the marriage relations I shall have occasion to use the terms "husband" and "wife," and it must be understood that in doing so I do not use them in the sense in which we use them, but in the Dieri sense as "tippa-malku-wife" or "pirrauru-wife." I also use them, in a sense, of those tribes who, while they retain the old terms of relationship, have lost the practice they define. This is pointed out in the chapter on relationships; but in order to avoid any chance of misconception, I direct attention to it here.

The community, that is the tribe, in its social aspect is divided into two moieties, each of which has a distinguishing name, and has attached to it a group of totems. As the native speech varies in dialects or even languages in more or less divergent directions, so do the names of the classes and totems vary, though in a less degree, since it is common to find the same class names extending over country occupied by a number of tribes speaking different dialects even for hundreds of miles.

To avoid the confusion which would invariably arise from the use of the native names for the classes, sub-classes, and totems, I shall avail myself in the diagrams explaining the rules of marriage of numerals and letters as I have done before.

Diagram XXXII
Classes. Totems.
(Kararu), Moiety A. 1,2, 3, 4, etc.
(Matteri), Moiety B. I., II., III., IV., etc.

In this diagram A represents one of the classes of the Dieri tribe, say Kararu, and B represents Matteri. The Arabic figures represent the totems of A class, and the Roman numerals those of B. The marriage law is that the people of class A marry those of B class, and vice versa, and of a totem, or totems, of the class other than their own. It is well to note here that the custom as to the marriage of the totems varies in different tribes. In some, as for example the Dieri, a man of, say, class A, may marry a woman of any of the totems of B, and vice versa. I can speak of this with certainty, as the Rev. Mr. Siebert was so good as to draw up for me a number of tables of descents, in three or four levels of a generation, of actual occurrence in the Dieri tribe, so that the facts brought out extended back to the time when they were in complete savagery. A man could therefore only obtain a wife from one half of the tribe, that is from one class; but this does not even mean so much as it appears to do, because, as I shall show later on, there are other restrictions arising out of the classificatory system of relationships which still further restrain the scope of marriage.

In other tribes, such as the Urabunna,[1] a man, say, of class A, is restricted to women of certain totems, or rather his totem intermarries only with certain other totems of the other class. This will become more clear as the marriage rules of other tribes are detailed. In all tribes of which the Dieri is the type the child takes the class and totem name of its mother; and it may be as well to point out here that it takes the tribal name of its father, that is, it is of its father's tribe. This will be seen on reference to the Table in Chapter IV. By using the letters and numerals of the above diagram, another may be constructed of the marriages and descents in the Dieri tribe, which shows how the descents run, and which will be of use in more complicated cases.

Diagram VI
m. A
f. B
m. B     f. B

Males are indicated by m. and females by f. In the upper line A represents a Kararu man, B is his wife, a Matteri woman. In the lower line are their son and daughter, who are of the same class as their mother, so that descent is in the female line.

Here we have the segmentation of the tribal community into two groups by the action of the classes, and the totems follow the classes in being transmitted from the mother to her children. While a man is restricted to women of the section of the tribe opposite to his, other restrictions arise out of the relationships and further restrict the matrimonial scope. In speaking of this system of relationships, I point out that a certain group of men and a certain group of women are born into the relation of Noa to each other, or, to use the Dieri word, they are Noa-mara to each other, which may be expressed by saying that there is "spouseship" between them, primarily as to the Noa groups, and secondarily as to the individual. That is, the individuals of one group are the potential spouses of those of the other group. How they individually come in the Dieri tribe into the marital relation of husband and wife I will now explain.[2]

(1) The Noa relation becomes specialised by the betrothal[3] of two children who have been born about the same time, arranged by their respective mothers, with the concurrence of the brothers of the mothers of the girl. The respective fathers have no part in the arrangement. In every such case there must be the exchange of a sister, own or tribal, of the boy, who is thereby promised as a wife to the brother, own or tribal, of the girl.[4] The new relation thus created between them is called Tippa-malku, and, as a sign that the promise has been made, the navel strings of the two children are tied up with emu feathers and different coloured strings.

(2) If a man has a daughter who also has a daughter, who is not promised to any one, and he has a younger brother, own or tribal, the latter is the Nadada-noa of his elder brother, and he may become her Tippa-malku. I have not hitherto met with this practice, excepting among the Dieri, but it may possibly occur in others of the adjacent tribes. It is based upon the Nadada-noa relationship, which is fully described in the chapter on Relationships.

(3) It may happen, when a boy has been circumcised, that his mother arranges with some other woman, who is Kami-mara to her, and who has an unbetrothed daughter, to make the two children Tippa-malku, there being also the usual promise to exchange a sister of the boy. The girl's mother is then painted in a certain manner, which indicates to all and sundry that she is the Paiara (wife's mother) of that woman's son.

(4) There are certain exceptions to the otherwise strict observance of the Noa relation. Such an exception would be where a woman had only daughters, and another woman had only sons. Moved by the importunity of these women, their elder brothers (Neyi) and the brothers of these women's mothers (Kaka) might make them Kami-mara to each other, and thus alter their relationships, so that their children would be Noa to each other and therefore lawfully marriageable, and might be promised to each other and become Tippa-malku.

The following is an instance of an exception of a similar kind. A woman having four sons who were Kami-mara to two unmarried girls, it was arranged with her and her brethren that one of her sons should be placed in the Noa-mara relation with one of the girls, while still remaining in the Kami relation with the other. In the same manner the relation of the three other sons was altered to Noa-mara to the other girl while she remained Kami to the Noa of her sister. Thus the Tippa-malku relation became possible.

(5) If a man persuades a Pinya, when on its mission of revenge, to forgo it and return, the assembly of old men, or he who is the nearest of the kindred of the man marked out for vengeance, may give a woman as Tippa-malku wife to the peacemaker as a reward. It must be always understood that such a woman must be of that group which is Noa-mara to the group to which the man belongs, and who are therefore potentially husbands and wives of each other.

(6) A wife is promised to each of the men who hold the body on their heads at the grave, and in these cases it is not required that a sister shall be given in exchange for her.

In all these cases the husband and wife must be Noa to each other, but this does not mean that a man has been born Noa to any particular woman. He is one of a group which is Noa to a group of females in the other moiety of the tribe.

By the practice of betrothal two Noa individuals of opposite sexes become, if I may use the term, specialised to each other as Tippa-malku for the time being, to the exclusion of any other man in that relation. In other words, no woman can be Tippa-malku to two or more men at the same time. It seems to me that out of this system of specialisation the individual marriage of some tribes has been developed. The germ of individual marriage may be seen in the Dieri practice; for, as I shall show later on, a woman becomes a Tippa-malku wife before she becomes a Pirrauru or group-wife. But at the same time it must be remembered that every woman is potentially a group-wife, and unless she dies after she becomes a Tippa-malku wife, she becomes actually a group-wife. The woman is one of a group, over whom in advance a man is given special rights by being made Tippa-malku to her, but at the same time with the fullest knowledge that she is not to be his individual wife as we understand the term. These explanations are necessary to guard against misconception from using the words "individual wife."

In those cases in which the kindred altered the relations of the parties, the man and the woman were necessarily of the opposite class and might have lawfully married were they of the Noa groups. A diagram will show how this works.

Diagram VII
1. f. Matteri emu Kaniaii 4. f. Kararu cormorant
2. f. Matteri emu Kami 5. f. Kararu cormorant
3. m. Matteri emu Noa 6. f. Kararu cormorant

1, 2, and 3 are mother, daughter, and grandson. Nos. 1 and 4 are Kamari, which is brother's wife. Their children are Kami-mara to each other, and therefore not permitted to marry. Were they of the Urabunna, they would, under the rule of that tribe, be Nupa to each other, and marriageable. As I have pointed out elsewhere, the Dieri Kami relation has removed the marriageable groups by one level in the generation. The alteration of Kamari to Kami is merely a reversion to the older rule.

In order to show the Noa rule in practice I refer to the table in Chapter IV., and, as there said, the men 1, 2, 7, 8 on the first line have obtained wives by exchange of their sisters. The several couples 1-5, 2-6, 3-7, and 4-8 were born into the Noa relation with each other, and were specialised by betrothal. The children of the couples 1-5 and 2-6 are in the fraternal relation to each other. So also are those of the couples 3-7 and 4-8. They form two groups who are in the relation of Kami to each other, and those children of these groups who are respectively of a brother on one side and of his sister on the other are Noa-mara to each other.

The rule deducible from diagrams compiled by tracing back marriages and descents in a number of the Dieri families may be stated as follows, and can be traced out in the Table referred to:—

Ego being male am Noa-mara to
My mother's father's elder brother's
younger brother's
daughter's daughter
My mother's father's elder sister's
younger sister's
daughter's daughter


Ego being female am Noa to
My mother's father's elder brother's
younger brother's
daughter's son
My mother's father's elder sister's
younger sister's
daughter's son
In stating this rule of the Noa relation, I must again point out that Ego is not an individual, but is primarily a group, the individual merely taking the relationship as being one of it.

By the same table the Nadada-noa practice is explained, by which the grandchildren are removed back into a level of a generation to which their respective grandparents belong, and whose younger brothers and sisters they therefore become.

Besides the Tippa-malku marriage there is the Pirrauru marriage, the character of which is now to be described. As I have said, every woman becomes a Tippa-malku wife before she becomes a Pirrauru wife. A Pirrauru is always a "wife's sister," or a "brother's wife," and the relation arises through the exchange by brothers of their wives. When two brothers are married to two sisters, they commonly live together in a group-marriage of four.

When a man becomes a widower (Topula) he has his brother's wife as Pirrauru, making presents to his brother. A man being a visitor, and being of the proper class (Murdu), is offered his host's Tippa-malku wife as a temporary Pirrauru, that is, if he is Noa to her.

A man may have several Pirrauru wives, and this depends on the consideration in which he is held by his class-fellows, whether he is Poto-pir-nanto (rich in great things), or Nguru-nguru (strong and powerful), or finally whether he is in great favour with the women. In such a case a woman might even ask her husband to give her such or such a man as a Pirrauru. Should he refuse to do this, she must put up with it; but if he agrees to do so, the matter is arranged. After it has been talked over and agreed to, those concerned assemble at some place in the camp at mid-day, accompanied by their friends. If the men are of the same totem, then the head of it is present, carrying his Kandri, which is a ceremonial club, made of the root of a certain tree. It is used in ceremonies, and might even be called a ceremonial or magical staff.

The head of the totem, or heads when there are more than one totem concerned, make two ridges of sand with the Kandri, each of the two who are to be placed in the Pirrauru relation being represented by one. The ridges are then brought together so as to form one ridge, higher and broader than the two. Finally one of the men, and usually he who is given as the Pirrauru, takes sand from the ridge and sprinkles it over the upper part of his thighs; and, as the Dieri express it, buries the Pirrauru in the sand. In the case of two men who exchange their Noas as Pirraurus the same procedure is observed, and the ceremonies are completed in the evening. When these take place at mid-day, they are, so to say, in the family, the men being present; but when they are in the evening, all the people in the camp attend. In that case the two heads of totems stand opposite to each other, about 50 yards apart, and each holding two pieces of burning wood. The two pairs of Pirraurus are loudly announced by name, the whole assembly loudly repeats them, and the two pieces of wood are struck together.

But commonly it is not merely two pairs of Pirrauru who are allotted to each other, but the whole of the marriageable or married people, even those who have already Pirraurus, are re-allotted, the Kandri ceremony being performed for batches of them at the same time.[5]

When a man has a number of Pirrauru, the old men may recommend him to confine himself to one, and to let the others go, since otherwise there might be strife between the women, for jealousy attaches to the Pirrauru condition. Each of a pair of Pirrauru watches the other to prevent more Pirrauru relations arising. Each warns the other against forming any new relations, and if either disregards this injunction, red-hot coals are poured over him, or her, as the case may be. In modern times boiling water takes the place of hot coals, but such punishments are often inflicted by either party on mere suspicion. Such a case was the following. A Urabunna man was sitting in the camp talking with a woman who was Nadada-noa to him. Meanwhile Kapaliana, his Pirrauru, returned, and having prepared his supper, called him. Of this, however, he tool no notice, and went on talking. Then without further ado she poured a bowl of hot coals over him.

The saying of one of the old Dieri men is worth quoting, as showing what his feeling was to his Pirrauru wife, and as to the jealousy which I have mentioned as being shown.

He said,

"Yakai! yai!   Ngata   wata   tanana   ngantyai,   tananana   turu-etya."
"Oh dear! I not her love, she fire-person."

The Pirrauru of an unmarried young man looks after him strictly, warns him perpetually, and makes secret inquiry of his doings from the other women. She requires him to camp near at hand, so that she can keep an eye upon him. It is commonly said that such a Pirrauru never sleeps until she is quite sure that her young Pirrauru is himself soundly in that state.

The elders do not look favourably on a youth having a Tippa-malku wife or a Pirrauru early, as they think that they will be too much taken up with each other. Young men are told that they are still too young for married life, and must wait till they have a full beard.

If a man desired to obtain a particular girl or woman for his wife, and she were refused to him, and he then eloped with her, her kindred would make up a party and pursue them. On overtaking them they would take her from him, not necessarily by violence; but if he refused to part with her, he would be severely dealt with. To elope with a woman of the same Murdu is a very grave offence. Cases have occurred of the class-laws being thus broken because of threats by some man to a woman too nearly related to him, and where the woman did not dare to complain, fearing to be charged with being a consenting party.

At a tribal council, at which Mr. Gason was present, a young man was charged with having transgressed the class-law with his Ngatata, that is, his younger sister, who was in fact the daughter of his mother's sister. The old men inquired into this matter, and finding the charge to be true, the young man was severely punished, indeed almost killed. He would have been put to death had not some of the influential tribesmen interfered on his behalf, on the ground that he was a poor idiot who was not accountable for his actions.

A man may always exercise marital rights towards his Pirrauru when they meet, if her Tippa-malku husband be absent; but he cannot take her away from him, unless by his consent, excepting at certain ceremonial times, as for instance at the initiation ceremonies, or at one of the marriages arranged between a man and a woman of two different tribes.

In the absence of the Tippa-malku husband, the Pirrauru husband takes the wife of the former, and protects her during his absence.

The Tippa-malku wife takes precedence over the Pirrauru wife, if both are in the same camp, the husband sleeping next to the fire, the Tippa-malku next to him, and the Pirrauru next to her.

In a case where an elder and a younger man who are Pirrauru to the same woman are in the same camp, and the younger man has with him his Tippa-malku and also a Pirrauru wife, the elder man, if alone, would have the right to take the Pirrauru wife of the former. Should the younger man merely have his Pirrauru with him, the elder man might take her. But the two men might occupy the same hut with her, and she would share with both the food she collected.

The leading men in the tribe have usually more Tippa-malku and Pirrauru wives than other men. The Pinnaru Jalina-piramurana, elsewhere mentioned, who was the head of the Dieri tribe when I knew it in 1861-62, had over a dozen Pirraurus allotted to him, and, in addition, several women were assigned to him in each of the neighbouring tribes as a mark of respect, as, so to say, honorary Pirraurus.

Men were considered to be highly honoured if any of his Pirraurus were allotted to them.

In the event of a Tippa-malku wife dying, a Pirrauru-wife will take charge of her children and attend to them with affection, and not in any manner as a step-mother. It must be remembered that a man's wives, whether Tippa-malku or Pirrauru, are in the relation of sisters, either own or tribal.

It is an advantage to a man to have as many Pirraurus as possible. He has then less work to do in hunting, as when they are with him they supply him with a share of the food they procure, their own Tippa-malku husbands being absent.

He also obtains great influence in the tribe by lending his Pirraurus occasionally, and receiving presents from the younger men who have no Pirraurus with them, or to whom none has yet been allotted.

Thus a man may accumulate a lot of property, weapons of all kinds, trinkets, etc., which he in his turn gives away to prominent men, such as heads of Murdus, and thus adds to his own importance.

I have mentioned marriage between Dieri and adjacent tribes, and these are, so to say, "state affairs."

Such a marriage, for instance, between a Dieri man and a woman of the Mardula tribe would be the subject of negotiation for several months. Much diplomacy is used, as one tribe desires if possible to sift out the real reasons which induce the other tribe to desire the marriage. As a preliminary, handsome presents, such as spears, boomerangs, carved shields, bags of all kinds, etc., are sent to the woman's father, to the head man of the tribe, and to the other principal men. In the event of these negotiations falling through, these presents are returned. But if both sides desire to terminate disputes and settle grievances, the proposal may be agreed to in a few weeks. The young man and the young woman have no voice in such a marriage, and, whether she likes it or not, she must submit to the will of the elders of the tribe.

In the tribe itself there is always a hot opposition to a marriage which takes a girl out of it, and the fathers in it who have unmarried and eligible sons offer every objection to the arrangement.

On such a marriage being settled, a place is fixed upon near the boundary between the two tribes, when a grand Wima (corrobboree) is held. The festivities are kept up for several days, during which time free intercourse is allowed between the sexes, without regard to existing marriage relations. No jealous feeling is allowed to be shown during this time under penalty of strangling,[6] but it crops up afterwards and occasions bloody affrays.

If the girl does not take kindly to her husband, she very probably tries to escape home, but is on all such occasions pursued; and, if captured, is brought back to be jeered at by the other women. In some cases she is also cruelly punished.

If, however, the girl likes her husband, and makes herself popular, she is treated well, and it is in her power to acquire influence with the other women. Should any important matter arise between her husband's tribe and that of her parents, she becomes most useful in negotiating with the latter, with which she has naturally more influence than a stranger.[7]

The prohibited degrees of relationship among the Dieri include parents and children, brothers and sisters, and those who are called Kami. These relations are called Buyulu, and one of the greatest insults which can be given to a Dieri is to call him or her by this name with Parchana added, implying that there are improper relations between the person spoken to and his or her nearest relations. This expression is never used by one person to another unless they have been worked up to a state of anger approaching frenzy. So repugnant is this subject to the Dieri that they will become indignant if it is introduced and they are asked about it. The elders of the tribe, old men and old women, in their leisure hours lecture the young people on the laws of the tribe, impress on them modesty and propriety of conduct, and point out the heinousness of incest. Mr. Gason told me that he had often listened to the old women thus instructing the younger ones with deep interest.

The opinion of the Rev. Otto Siebert expressed to me as to the Pirrauru marriage, formed after many years' intimate acquaintance with the Dieri, is worth quoting. He said, "The practice of Pirrauru is worthy of praise for its strength and earnestness in regard to morality, and in the ceremonial with which it is regulated, since no practice could be less in accord with the hetairism which Lord Avebury has imagined for the Australian aborigines."

The Pirrauru relationship is clearly group-marriage, by which a man is privileged to obtain a number of wives from his Noas in common with other men of his group, while a woman's wish can only be given effect to by the consent of her Tippa-malku husband. On the other hand, however, she cannot refuse to receive a Pirrauru husband when he is assigned to her by the ceremony referred to. The Dieri regard it as being lawful, just as the Tippa-malku marriage is lawful, and it must be clearly distinguished from irregular unions, for which the Dieri have special terms, and which they condemn and abhor.

Standing between the regular and irregular intersexual relations, but nearer to the former than the latter, is the access between the unmarried girls and widows and those men who are Noa-mara to them, and not Tippa-malku as to those girls. This relation is called Ngura-mundu, from Ngura, "camp," and Mundu, "to come together."

The term Ngura-mandretya refers to sexual licence in the camp of the husband during his absence. It is from Ngura "camp" or "hut," Mandra, "body," and Etja, " the middle," colloquially used for habitually, or habitually recurring. Such a woman is called Pala-kantyi, that is, "without shame," the term being really "a breaker of marriage." Such persons are hated and despised.

Buka-pari is the term for a man who lies in wait for a woman, either with or without her consent, and not caring whether she is Noa to him or not.[8]

On the opposite side of Lake Eyre, or more correctly, north-westerly from the Dieri, there is the Urabunna tribe, the southern division of which is called the Yendakarangu.[9] The class names are said to be those of the Dieri, but the rules of marriage of the totems differ. The former allow a marriage between a totem of one class and any totem of the other class, but with the latter the rule is that certain totems of the one class are assigned to certain totems of the other. This, so far as I have been able to trace it out, is shown in the following table:—

Classes. Totems. Marries with
Kararu Cloud Wadnamura
Crow Wadnamura and Eagle-hawk.
Red ochre Cormorant and Eagle-hawk.
Rat Cormorant and Bull-frog.
Wallaby Iguana and Lizard.
Emu Eagle-hawk and Bull-frog.
Musk duck Eagle-hawk and Dog.
Snake Wadnamura.
Matteri Eagle-hawk Red ochre, Musk duck, and Crow.
Cormorant Rat and Red ochre.
Iguana Wallaby.
Dog Musk duck.
Wadnamura Snake, Cloud, Crow.
Mulga tree[10] Emu.
Bull-frog. Rat.
Lizard Wallaby.

This table is evidently imperfect. According to the almost universal rule, which obtains also with the Yendakarangu, that sisters arc exchanged as wives, there should be reciprocity between the totems in their marriages. In the list this is the case as to some of each class, and therefore one is fairly justified in believing that it is so with the others. On this view I have added those totems which have been omitted, but which appear to be reciprocal and which are in italics to distinguish them.

Professor Spencer has been so good as to point out to me that in the northern part of the Urabunna they were very emphatic in stating that a man of one totem could only marry a woman of a certain totem of the other class. The marriages of that tribe are given as follows[11]:—

Matthurie. Kirarawa.
Dingo marries Water-hen.
Cicada " Crow.
Emu " Rat.
Wild turkey " Cloud.
Swan " Pelican.

The restriction in marriage to one or more totems is certainly later in origin than the Dieri rule, and, as will be seen in my further statements, in many tribes with two class-divisions. For instance, in the Itchumundi nation, which is the nearest on the east side to the Lake Eyre tribes, where the class names are Mukwara and Kilpara, Mukwara-eaglehawk marries Kilpara-emu; and Mukwara-dog marries Kilpara-padi-melon. The tribes of the Karamundi nation have a similar rule by which a member of the one class may marry only in one totem of the other class. For instance, a man of the Mukwara -kangaroo totem marries into the Kilpara-emu totem, but not into any other. But in some of the Barkinji tribes there is no such rule, and a man may marry a woman of any totem of the other class, always provided that there is not any other restriction, such as those which arise out of relationships.

Returning to the Lake Eyre tribes, an interesting comparison may be drawn between the marriage rules of the Dieri and those of the Urabunna, which are given concisely in the following diagrams:—

URABUNNA Diagram VIII (l) Father (4) Klder brother of 2 DIERI Diagram IX (I) Father (5) Brother of 2 (2) Mother (5) Elder sister of i (2) Mother (6) Sister of i (3) Son -<-nupa->-(6) daughter (3) daughter -<- kami ->- (7) daughter (4) grandson -<-noa->-(8) grand-daughter

The Dieri rule is evidently a development of that of the Urabunna, and is therefore the later one. This is also shown by the practice of the Dieri of which I have spoken, and which, by what may be called a "legal fiction," converts the relationship of two people who are Kami to each other, and therefore, in the Dieri custom, not marriageable, into the relation of Noa, they thus becoming eligible for marriage. The Dieri relation of Noa is the equivalent of the Nupa of the Urabunna, and Nupa and Noa are equivalents, because those who are in that relation are born into the reciprocally marriageable groups.

The legal fiction referred to may be explained here to make the matter clearer. In a case where a Dieri man had no Noa available for betrothal to him, a wife might be, and was in certain cases, found for him in the following manner. Diagram IX. illustrates this practice. Say that the man in question was the brother of 3, and that the kindred wished to find a wife for him. The brothers own and tribal of the women 2 and 6 would alter their relationships from that of Kamari to Kami, that is from being "husband's sister" to "daughter of mother's brother." Thus these women being now placed in the relation of Kami, their children are Noa-mara, and may be therefore lawfully promised in marriage by their respective mothers, and come into the relation of Tippa-malku, or, as I have elsewhere called it, "specialised Noa."

This appears to be an old practice of the Dieri, and they have a special term for the relation of "mother-in-law" in the above case. Under the usual Dieri practice, shown in Diagram IX., No. 7 is the mother-in-law (Paiara) of 4, but under such an arrangement as that just spoken of, in which, say, the brother of 3 and the woman 7 would become marriageable, the woman 6 would be the Kami-paiara of the brother of 3.

When I say that this practice is an old one of the Dieri, I mean that it is, so far as the old men now living know. But antiquity or novelty as to a custom in a native tribe is a matter of comparison. The marriage rule of the Urabunna is certainly more ancient than the Noa rule of the Dieri, for this is evidently an innovation on the older rule. Yet, who can say how long either of these rules has been maintained? The newest may have been practised for hundreds of years.

In speaking of the restrictions on marriage created by the class-division, the totemic relationships, and local rules, I shall refer again to the evidence of the Urabunna and Dieri practice. But I desire to say here that there is clear evidence that these tribes have intentionally altered the class regulations to meet difficulties arising out of female descent in one tribe and male descent in another, and the restrictions intended to bar what they consider to be incestuous marriages, when there was no other way to provide a wife for some tribesman.

The class organisation of the Lake Eyre tribes extended south to the Parnkalla tribe, whose country terminated at Port Lincoln.

I have not been able to obtain direct evidence as to the status of marriage in the Parnkalla tribe, but the remarks made on this subject by the Rev. C. W. Schürmann afford some data on which to form an opinion whether the Tippa-malku and Pirrauru marriage of the Dieri obtained in this tribe, as well as the two classes "Mattiri and Carraru." He says that "long before a girl arrives at maturity, she is affianced by her parents to some friend of theirs, no matter whether young or old, married or single. Although the men are capable of fierce jealousy if their wives transgress unknown to them, yet they frequently send them out to other parties or exchange with a friend for a night; and as for near relatives, such as brothers, it may almost be said that they have their wives in common. This latter practice is a recognised custom. A woman honours the brothers of the man to whom she is married with the indiscriminate name of husbands; but the men make a distinction, calling their own individual spouses Yungaras and those on whom they have a secondary claim, Kartetis."[12]

This appears to me just what an observer, who looked only at the surface of things, would see, indeed much as the early settlers in Central Australia regarded the female Pirraurus of the Dieri as merely "paramours." If we translate Yungara as Tippa-malku, and Karteti as Pirrauru, we may reasonably conclude that the Parnkalla were, as regards marriage, in much the same state as the Lake Eyre tribes. If that is so, then we may also conclude that all the tribes between Port Lincoln and the Yerkla-mining at Eucla have group-marriage, as well as the classes Mattiri and Carraru.

The tribes with which the Dieri intermarried did not extend beyond the Yantruwunta who lived up the Cooper for some distance. About 120 miles further there was a tribe, now extinct, which called itself Kurnandaburi.

The similarity of custom and organisation between the Dieri and the Kurnandaburi shows that the intervening tribes were of the same character. The Kurnandaburi class names were Yungo and Matara, which may be compared with the Dieri Kararu and Matted, although the Yantruwunta Tiniwa and Kulpuru intervene; and it is well to note here that the equivalent of the Dieri "murdu" in Yaurorka, Yantruwunta, and Marula is Kamiri. In the following tribes, Ngulubulu, Yelyuyendi, and Karangura, it is Kaura.

In the Ngulubulu, Karangura, Yelyuyendi, and Marula, Wuturu is the equivalent of Matteri, and Parkata of Kararu.

The classes and totems of the Kurnandaburi were both called Gaura[13] and the child took the class and totem of its mother. I have not been able to ascertain whether marriage was restricted to one totem, or whether it was permitted between any of the totems of the opposite class. Gaura-molli is the relation of persons of the same class or totem.[14] The equivalent of the Noa of the Dieri is Abaija. A female child was promised by its parents to some boy or man who was Abaija to her. When married, their relation became Nubaia, which is the specialised Noa before spoken of. Exchange of sisters was the accompaniment of Nubaia. A man and his wife's sister, and the wife of his brother, were in the relation of Kodi-molli, and might not sit in the same camp, or converse freely, but must ostensibly keep apart from each other as far as circumstances would permit. Yet sub rosa marital relations existed between them, and this at times caused trouble between the women. This is clearly the Pirrauru relation of the Dieri, but with a form of apparent tabu, which may very well illustrate a passage from group-marriage to the ultimate form of the Tippa-malku marriage. In many tribes, e.g. those of Victoria, this, so far as the woman is concerned, is individual marriage.

Besides the Nubaia marriage, there is the Dilpa-malli, or group-marriage, which is the equivalent of the Pirrauru of the Dieri, in which, according to my informant,[15] a group of men who are own or tribal brothers, and a group of women who are own or tribal sisters, cohabit when the tribe assembles, or indeed at any time when the Dilpa-malli group are all together.

When a betrothed girl is of a marriageable age, the man to whom she is promised, having received her father's consent, or even that of her mother, which would suffice, took her away when she was out from the camp with the other women. He was accompanied by a comrade, who was Abaija to her. Having seized her, they dragged her away, she screaming and biting as much as she was able. No one interfered, the other women looking on and laughing. Other men, who were also Abaija to her, then joined them, and the man returned to his camp.

The marriage was then consummated by the Abaijas, who remained with her for one or two days. On their return to the camp there were several days of ceremonial dancing, during which time there was between her and the men of the camp a period of unrestricted licence, not even excluding her father. After that she joined her Nubaia in his camp. The women used to boast of the resistance which they made before being Mammara, that is, stolen, which is the term for the ceremonial taking of a woman as a Nubaia.

When a man died, the widow and the brother of the deceased were no longer Kodi-molli, but became Nubaia.

Cases of elopement of betrothed girls were dealt with by the man to whom she was promised, who went after her with his tribal and own brothers, and if the couple were found, took the woman back. In one case reported to me he severely wounded the abductor.

Tribes with the same customs and social organisation extended south-easterly from the Kurnandaburi to the Wilson River, and most probably beyond the lower Bulloo River to where, between it and the Paroo, they would meet tribes belonging to the Itchumundi nation.

This, together with the tribes of the Karamundi and Barkinji nations, extended over the country along the Darling River between it and the Grey and Barrier Ranges, and for some 50 miles back from it towards the Bogan and Lachlan Rivers.

All these tribes had the two classes named Mukwara and Kilpara, and the marriage rule was that Mukwara married Kilpara, and vice versa.

There was a limitation as to totem marriage: for instance, in the Itchumundi, Mukwara-eagle-hawk married Kilpara-bone-fish; Mukwara-kangaroo married Kilpara-emu; Mukwara-dog married Kilpara-padi-melon, and so on.

When the question was put to several men of one of these tribes, "What would be done if a Mukwara took a Mukwara for his wife?" the reply was an emphatic "No good—suppose that, then we kill him."

The child takes the class and totem names of its mother.[16]

The Wiimbaio tribe, in fact, belonged to the group which occupied the lower part of the Darling, for its language, the Maraura, extended far up that river.

It had the same rules of class and totemic marriage. Girls were promised when infants, and there was inter-marriage between the Wiimbaio and the adjoining tribes both in the Darling and Murray.

Marriages were also brought about by elopement of girls who preferred other and younger men than those to whom they had been promised as children. In such a case the girl was pursued by her father and brothers, and the man she had eloped with would have to allow them to strike him on the head with a club, after which in some cases he would retain her.

But in other cases there was a fight between her kindred, male and female, and those of the man she went off with. The women were generally the most excited, and would stir up the men and assist them with their yam-sticks.

If a man captured a woman of some other tribe, he would not be permitted to retain her unless she were of the class with which his class married.

At times when there were great tribal gatherings wives were exchanged, but always within class limits. But they also resorted to this practice to avert some great trouble which they fancied was about to come upon them; for instance, they once heard that a great sickness was coming down the Murray, and the old men proposed exchanging wives to ensure safety from it. Yet at all other times men required wives to be faithful to their husbands, unless by their consent and command. In one case two men exchanged wives for a month; this was called Be-ama.[17]

Here we have a survival of the practice of group-marriage, and the Wiimbaio, as I have said, represent the other Maraura-speaking tribes.

The series of two-class tribes which extend up the Murray River from the Wiimbaio have been described by Mr. A. L. P. Cameron, who says that any totem of Mukwara among the Tatathi and Keramin may marry any totem of Kilpara and vice versa, and that descent is in the female line. Girls are very frequently promised when children, and when marriageable are taken to the future husband's camp by the mother or mother's brother. The father has nothing to do with the disposal of his daughter, the reason given being that the daughter belongs to the class of her mother's brother, and not to that of her father. Notwithstanding this, they believe that the daughter is of the father solely, being only nurtured by her mother.

A female captive belonged to her captor if of a class from which he might take a wife. No one was permitted to retain one of the class to which he belonged. In many instances such women were held in common for a time by all the members of the tribe, but subject to the class laws, and were afterwards allotted to those who might lawfully marry them.[18]

As I have before said, the class names Mukwara and Kilpara extended up the Murray River as far as the Loddon in the tribes mentioned in Chapter II., but I have not obtained a list of the respective totems.

From that point the tribes up the river were, as I have pointed out, akin to the Kulin tribe of southern Victoria. As descent was with them in the male line, they will be further considered later on.

Tribes with the two-class system lived on the Murray River above Albury on the Mitta-Mitta, Kiewa, and Ovens Rivers in the mountainous country. I have taken the Ya-itma-thang and Wolgal tribes as representing them. In the Theddora branch of the former tribe a girl was promised by her father, usually at or after her birth, and was given to her husband when grown up. A man to whom a girl had been promised endeavoured to obtain a lock of her hair, and if she refused him afterwards, he would sometimes wrap an eagle-hawk's feather in the hair, and then put it in a water-hole. As the hair decomposed, the woman would sicken, and ultimately die.[19] The rule of marriage was that of the two-class tribes with female descent; but I do not know whether a man might marry in any of the totems of the class other than his own, or whether he was restricted to certain of them.

Not only was there the practice of betrothal, but also the Urabunna rule that a man married the daughter of his mother's brother.

Here, as elsewhere, when a girl liked some other man better than him to whom she had been promised in infancy, elopement was not an uncommon occurrence. In such a case her male relations pursued the couple, and if successful in finding them, the man was beaten by her male kindred. But sometimes, if he could pacify them, and also the man she had been promised to, and could find a sister to exchange for her, his offence was condoned.

If a man took a woman contrary to the tribal customs, either as to class or nearness of kinship, the tribes-people usually killed him.

The Ya-itma-thang were neighbours on the west to the Wolgal, who were on the upper Murray River and the high Alps, extending to Kiandra. South of them were the Ngarigo, who occupied the Manero tableland.

Both these latter tribes had the two-class system. With the Wolgal the names were Malian (eagle-hawk) and Umbe (crow), and with the Ngarigo Merung (eagle-hawk) and Yukembruk (crow). The law of marriage was that of the tribes with female descent, and a man might marry a woman of any of the opposite totems; and, as was the case with the Omeo tribe, a man's proper wife was the daughter, own or tribal, of his mother's brother.

A characteristic incident occurred at the Black Mountain station on the Snowy River about the years 1855-56. A number of Theddora (Ya-itma-thang) blacks had come across from Omeo and there met a woman, known to me as Old Jenny, of their tribe, who had broken their law by becoming the wife of a man to whom she stood in the tribal relationship of Najan (mother). She had been away for some years, and this was the first time that her own kindred had encountered her. The wife of one of them attacked her first with a digging-stick, but she defended herself so well with the same weapon that the woman had to desist, and her husband continued the attack on Old Jenny, who had divested herself of all but one small garment. He commenced with a club, but finding he could not hit her, changed it for a curved club with which he tried to "peck" her on the head over her guard. After a time he also had to give it up, and they had to make friends with the invincible woman.[20] This is an instance of the manner in which the women are able to defend themselves with their weapon the "yam-stick," being no mean opponents of a man armed only with a club.

In the Wolgal tribe it was usual for a girl to be promised as a mere child to some man of the proper class, he being then perhaps middle-aged or even old. How such a promise might be brought about is shown by the remark which I once heard a Wolgal man say to his wife, "When our girl is old enough, we will give her to him," mentioning a man who was popular with the people.

When the girl was old enough to be married, her father, accompanied by his brother, took her to her future husband's camp, and left her there with him.

A Wolgal man of the Malian class, in speaking to me of the practice of betrothal, said that a father could do what he liked with his daughter, because the child is his, and "he only gives it to his wife to take care of for him." This, which is at variance with the Dieri custom, where the mother has full disposal of her infant daughter, is an indication of an advance towards paternal descent.

If a betrothed girl eloped with some man, her father and brothers, but not her promised husband, went after her; and, if the escaping couple were overtaken, the girl was taken from him back to the camp, and then, having been severely beaten by her mother with a digging-stick, was handed over to her betrothed.

I heard among the Wolgal of a man and a girl who were far-away tribal brother and sister, and who ran away together. The tribes-people pursued them, and they, being overtaken, were both severely beaten, and the girl was then handed over to the man to whom she had been promised. In this tribe there was, in the case of elopements, not any practice such as the jus primae noctis of many other tribes; and my informants, two old men, expressed great disgust at the practice of the Kurnai in such cases, and also of their general practice of marriage by elopement, which one of them said was "very bad" and would not have been permitted in their tribe.

With the Ngarigo also there was the practice of betrothal in accordance with the Urabunna rule, and when the girl had reached the marriageable age her father took her to her husband's camp and handed her over to him.

In cases of marriage by elopement, there was a similar practice to that of the Kurnai by those who had been initiated at the same ceremonies as the eloper. But, after this occasion, no further access was allowed, nor were women in this tribe lent to friends or visitors.

The avoidance in all these tribes between a man and the mother of his wife was very marked, and the Ngarigo practice will serve as a good illustration. A woman from the time her daughter was married must not see her son-in- law, or even hear his name spoken. If she heard any one mention his name, she would put her fingers in her ears and say, "Gungo-wa" that is, "Be quiet."

When a Ngarigo man died and left a widow, she did not go to his brother who was of the same mother, but to the son of his father's elder brother. This was in fact under their system of relationship to his elder brother, which falls into line with the practice of other tribes, for instance the Kurnai.

With these tribes ends the sequence of the two-class system in this direction, being followed by the four sub-class system of the Wiradjuri to the north and the four sub-class system of the Kamilaroi to the north-east.

Tribes with Four Sub-Classes and Female Descent

I now pass on to the consideration of tribes which have four sub-classes with descent in the female line, and of which the Kamilaroi may be taken as the type.

Although a comparatively complete list of sub-class names of the Kamilaroi were, I believe, first published by the Rev. Mr. Ridley, his attention had been previously called to them by Mr. E. T. Lance, a settler living on the Clarence River. In 1871 Mr. Ridley pointed them out to Dr. Lorimer Fison, who sent a memorandum on them to Dr. Lewis H. Morgan, following Mr. Ridley's method of spelling, and in that guise they appear in Dr. Morgan's Ancient Society.[21]

Subsequently Mr. Lance informed Dr. Fison that the spelling aforesaid did not represent the sound of the words. After careful inquiry the spelling now given was adopted,[22] and appears to come as near as possible to the aboriginal pronunciation.

A careful study of the intermarriages of the sub-classes and a comparison of the inheritance of the sub-class names with that of the totem names associated with them, convinced me that each pair into which the four sub-classes fell must represent an original whole, analogous to one of the two classes of the Dieri tribe. After much and long-continued inquiry, a valued correspondent, Mr. Cyrus E. Doyle, found the complete system in a tribe of the Kamilaroi nation on the Gwydir River, in northern New South Wales. This system is given in Chapter III., and the following table gives the marriages and descents under it. The two primary classes, Kupathin and Dilbi, are omitted for shortness.

Male Marries Children are
Ipai Kubbitha Murri and Matha
Kumbo Matha Kubbi and Kubbitha
Murri Butha Ipai and Ipatha
Kubbi Ipatha Kumbo and Butha

The diagram which I have used to explain the two-class system can be applied to the four sub-classes, represented by the letters a, d, c, d, and interpolated between the two classes and the totems. Diagram X. gives this arrangement. The class Kupathin is represented by A, and Dilbi by B.

Diagram X
A a
  B c

A thus represents the class Kupathin, and a and b the pair of sub-classes Ipai and Kumbo; B represents the class Dilbi, and c and d the other pair Murri and Kubbi. The totems may be added to the sub-class by the use of numerals, as in the case of the two-class systems.

The subjoined diagram I have found useful in bringing before the mind's eye in a concise form the marriages and descents in this system, the letters being those used in the preceding diagram.

Diagram XI
Ipai Aa

Kumbo Ab

Murri bc

Kubbi Bd

The diagonal lines show the reciprocal marriages, and the vertical lines the descent. Ipai marries Kubbitha, and their children are Murri and Matha; Kubbi marries Ipatha, and their children are Kumbo and Butha, and so on with the others.

Disregarding the names and using the letters only, the subjoined marriage of Ipai with Kubbitha and the consequent line of descents may be compared with the marriages and descents in the Dieri classes, which are their equivalents.

Diagram XII
Dieri. Kamilaroi.
m A. m. Aa
f. B. f. Bd
f. B. f. Bc
m. B..........f. B. m. Bd..........f. Bd
etc. etc.

The line of descent runs in the classes, in the same manner in each diagram, in the female line, but where the sub-classes are developed, it runs through that sub-class which, with the sub-class of the mother, represents her class. The new arrangement is an ingenious restriction on marriage between persons, who in tribes such as the Urabunna are marriageable, but in other tribes, such as the Dieri, are prohibited from intermarriage, by a custom defined by a special term of relationship. The same prohibition is provided automatically by the arrangement of these sub-classes, and strengthens the belief that the arrangement of the classes, and the sub-classes, has been made intentionally to prevent the marriage of those who have been considered to be too near to each other in blood, or, as the aborigines sometimes put it, are of "the same flesh." Looking at the diagrams of the Urabunna, the Dieri, and the Kamilaroi, the direction of their progressive development appears to me to be unmistakable.

If we compare the Kamilaroi class system with the foregoing table, it will be seen at once that Ipai and Kumbo are the complements of the class Kupathin, and that the children of Kupathin-Ipatha take the name of Kupathin-Butha. It shows also very clearly that, underneath all this, there lies the two-class system, for the children of Ipatha are as much Kupathin as she is. It has been the absence of the class-names in most of the Kamilaroi tribes, and the ignorance of their occurrence in others, that has made it so difficult to work out the principle's on which the four sub-class system rests.

The following table shows the marriages and descents of the Kamilaroi sub-classes and totems:[23]

Male Marries Children are
(1) Ipai of any totem, when Ipai-Kumbo is emu, bandicoot, or black snake Kubbitha kangaroo Murri and Matha kangaroo
Kubbitha opossum Murri and Matha oppossum
Kubbitha iguana Murri and Matha iguana
(2) Kumbo of any totem, when Ipai-Kumbo is emu, bandicoot, or black snake Matha kangaroo Kubbi and Kubbitha kangaroo
Matha opossum Kubbi and Kubbitha opossum
Matha iguana Kubbi and Kubbitha iguana
(3) Murri of any totem, when Murri-Kubbi is kangaroo, opossum, or Iguana Butha emu Ipai and Ipatha emu
Butha bandicoot Ipai and Ipatha bandicoot
Butha iguana Ipai and Ipatha iguana
(4) Kubbi of any totem, when Murri-Kubbi is kangaroo, opossum, or Iguana Ipatha emu Kumbo and Butha emu
Ipatha bandicoot Kumbo and Butha bandicoot
Ipatha black snake Kumbo and Butha black snake
Where Ipai-Kumbo is emu, bandicoot, or black snake, then Ipai marries Kubbitha-kangaroo, and go on.

In one of the Kamilaroi tribes there is a remarkable innovation on the usual marriages in the sub-classes, and a table showing these marriages is given further on. It was noted in the first instance by Mr. T. E. Lance,[24] who observed the facts among the Kamilaroi in the district where he lived. He informed the Rev. William Ridley, who communicated it to Dr. Lorimer Fison as "a half-sister marriage," and we adopted the term in our work Kamilaroi and Kuniai[25] for the sake of convenience. However, extended inquiries failed to give us any other instances of this particular marriage. Further consideration of the facts, in comparison with other marriage rules of tribes adjacent to the Kamilaroi, has shown that the term is incorrect and objectionable. In this view Dr. Lorimer Fison concurs.

To look upon this as a half-sister marriage is to see it from the standpoint of the white man. But considering it from the native's point of view, we see that it is altogether different.

From the native's point of view all the members of a totem, in the same level of a generation, are in the relation of brother and sister. Thus in the totem Emu, of the tribe in question, Ipai-emu is the brother of Ipatha-emu, and could not marry her. But he is not the brother of Ipatha-black-snake, because they are not of the same totem.

This seems to me to be the principle upon which these marriages have been arranged, and the remark made by one of Mr. Lance's native informants is much to the point. It was in reply to an objection by Mr. Lance that he said, "What for you stupid like it that! This feller Ipatha not Emu like it that other feller Ipai; this one Blacksnake."

It is the totem which has in this case apparently been kept in view, and the relationship of the sub-class has been disregarded. The table given below was compiled by Mr. Ridley, and shows that Ipai is not the exception to a general rule, but that all the marriages of all the four sub-classes are on the same principle.

The rule of marriage is directly in contradiction to the fundamental exogamous principle of the classes and sub-classes. The rule of descent, however, remains unaltered, since the children of these marriages take the sub-class names and the totems of their mother's children, as by the man who in another tribe would have been her husband.

Although I have not been able to find any instance in other places, the fact remains that this marriage was noted by an experienced observer, such as Mr. Lance, and may be taken as an established fact in that particular locality.

The marriages of the Wonghibon tribe, a table of which will be found a few pages further on, will serve as an example of how such innovations are made to meet what the tribes-people find to be a difficulty.

Male Marries Children are
Ipai emu Ipatha black snake Kumbo and Butha black snake
Ipai bandicoot Ipatha black snake Kumbo and Butha black snake
Ipai black snake Ipatha emu Kumbo and Butha emu
Kumbo emu Butha black snake Ipai and Ipatha black snake
Kumbo bandicoot Butha black snake Ipai and Ipatha black snake
Kumbo black snake Butha emu Ipai and Ipatha emu
Murri kangaroo Matha iguana Kubbi and Kubbitha iguana
Murri oppossum Matha iguana Kubbi and Kubbitha iguana
Murri iguana Matha kangaroo Kubbi and Kubbitha kangaroo
Kubbi kangaroo Kubbitha iguana Murri and Matha iguana
Kubbi opossum Kubbitha iguana Murri and Matha kangaroo
Kubbi iguana Kubbitha kangaroo Murri and Matha kangaroo

The Kamilaroi tribes extend over some eight hundred miles north and south, but in the following passages I speak of those more particularly in the south, and of times as far back as seventy years ago.

Mr. C. Naseby[26] says that "wives were not obtained among the Kamilaroi by betrothal, gift, barter or exchange of a female relative. If a white man took to wife a native woman, he gave to the parents as barter, blankets, hatchets, shirts, trousers, etc., but a black man gave nothing. The Murri[27] has a right to choose a wife from the class permitted to him, by the native laws. He comes to an unmarried woman whom he fancies, and says, 'Ngaia kulade kura mula yaralla,' that is to say, 'I myself wife will take (steal) by and by.' This he says in the presence of the woman's parents, and they cannot refuse his demands. They wait until he comes and takes her. If, however, her relations find that his hands are stained with blood of her kindred, then they object to her marriage. In such a case the Murri comes by stealth and usually alone, and carries her off. Her relations, ascertaining where he is camped, send a message to him and demand that he shall meet their champion in single combat. This he must do if he wishes to retain his wife. It might be that the man, being a warrior, would openly go to the camp of her parents, and, taking her, offer to fight any man, the best in her tribe. If a fight ensued, the matter ended there; but if no one of her relatives would venture the combat, they would sneak after him, and watch so as to kill him if possible when asleep or when stooping to drink.

"The relatives, wishing to have her back, might also wait till the two were camped alone, and go and take her away by force, her husband being, however, permitted to retain her if he could make good his claim by superior prowess. This procedure would not, however, be adopted when the two were at the great camp. The Murri, exercising his right of taking a wife, can compel the woman to go with him, and if necessary beat her. When a Murri goes to take a wife by force, he is accompanied by his comrades,[28] who on this occasion have access to her. In any set fight between him and her kindred the weapons would be agreed upon. If a single combat, it would be club and shield; but if otherwise, he would have to defend himself against several spears thrown at him all at once. If he is defeated, and unable to fight any longer, he loses her. It was only the great warriors and the head men who had more than one wife."

Mr. Naseby further remarks, "One of my black servants had been with me about six years, and was now getting to be near thirteen years of age, a time when a black boy thinks of getting married. I knew the feeling to be so strong in the aboriginal nature that, if not indulged, the boy would run away. I therefore said, 'Wait, Georgie, until we get to the Gwydir (we were then at Maitland), and you shall have a gin.'[29] Accordingly when we reached Yaggabri, George went by my directions to the camp, and chose a wife according to the Kamilaroi practice, and brought her with him on the return trip of the dray to Maitland. Scarcely, however, had I and my party left on the return journey to Maitland than a band of blacks was seen following the drays, and with loud voices and hostile demeanour demanding that Georgie should give back his wife. This I was very unwilling to permit, because I knew that thereby I should lose a very valuable servant. The blacks still continued to follow; and after a few days I held a parley with them, and learned that Georgie was not entitled by their laws to have a wife, because he had not attended enough Boras, and therefore was liable to be put to death, and they would do so as soon as the white man was not there to protect him. By my influence and kindness I succeeded in pacifying them. They returned home and Georgie was safe."

This account shows to us the custom from which the often-accepted account of Australian marriages has been derived by writers, who have not known the actual facts of forcible abduction of wives in the Kamilaroi tribes. English writers have followed these statements and have assumed that it was the universal custom to obtain a wife in Australia by lying in wait for some woman, no matter which, knocking her down with a club and carrying her off.

Mr. Naseby also said that it was not lawful to marry a "female cousin, or a half-sister; but the former did not seem half so shocking as the latter." The unfortunate use of our terms of relationship when speaking of aboriginal customs or practice is the frequent cause of misunderstanding. For instance, our term cousin includes two distinct relationships, according to the aboriginal manner of counting them, namely, that of the children of two or more brothers, or of two or more sisters, which is that of brother and sister; and that of the children of a man on the one side, and the children of his sister on the other, who are in a quite different relation to the former. I take Mr. Naseby's female cousin to mean one of the latter, because he says that such a marriage would be to them less shocking than that with a half-sister, which might be one of the former.

Mr. Cyrus E. Doyle says: "The Northern Kamilaroi placed great emphasis on this, that a Dilbi could not marry a Dilbi, nor a Kupathin a Kupathin.

"A widow did not by any Kamilaroi law belong to her deceased husband's brother. She accompanied the tribe in its wanderings, and got her own living. She might indeed go of her own accord as the wife of some great man, warrior or headman, some of whom had four or five wives, and were considered rich in proportion to their number.

"But an unmarried woman might be taken in the tribal manner by any man who was not too nearly related to her.

"The punishment for adultery was that when a woman was taramu, that is, shifty, wanton, adulterous, the husband complained to his kindred, who carried the matter before the headman, and if the charge was found to be true, her punishment was to be taken without the camp, and to be handed over to all comers for that night, and her cries were not heeded.

"Women were lent to friends, or to friendly visitors from a distance, but it had to be with the consent of the woman. If, however, the husband consented, the woman submitted to his will.

"A female captive would be the property of her captor, if she were of the proper class-name; but in any case he must be a noted fighting-man to be allowed to have more than one wife. If the woman did not belong to the proper class, he had to give her back to her relations.

"If a man among the Kamilaroi took a woman to wife contrary to the tribal laws, her kindred would complain to the local division to which he belonged, and they were bound to take the matter up. If they did not do this, a fight would be sure to arise between members of the two sub-classes concerned. In some cases, however, if a man persisted in keeping a woman as his wife who was of one of the sub-classes with which his sub-class could not marry, he was driven out of the company of his friends. If that did not induce him to leave the woman, his male kindred followed him and killed him. The female kindred of the woman also killed her,"

The Kamilaroi of the Gwydir River appear to have been exceptionally severe, for the penalty of death was inflicted by the tribe upon a man who spoke to, or had any communication with, his wife's mother.[30]

To the west and south-west of the Kamilaroi are the Wiradjuri, whose class system is almost identical with that of the former, and is given in Chapter III.

I have not been able to obtain a full statement of the intermarriages and the descents of all the totems given for the southern branch of this tribe. Those which I obtained are noted in the following statement, and were given me by one of the Wiradjuri, a man of the Murri sub-class and red kangaroo totem.

Southern Branch
Male Marries Children are
(Aa) (Bd) (Bc)
Yibai eagle-hawk (1) Kubbitha bush-rat (5) Murri and Matha bush-rat (5)
Yibai mallee-hen Kubbitha flying-squirrel Murri and Matha flying-squirrel
Yibai opossum Kubbitha bush-rat Murri and Matha bush-rat
Yibai opossum Kubbitha flying-squirrel Murri and Matha flying-squirrel
Wumbi blood-sucker lizard Matha young emu Kubbi and Kubbitha young emu
(Bc) (Ab) (Aa)
Murri young emu (3) Butha blood-sucker lizard (8) Yibai and Yibatha blood-sucker lizard (8)
Kubbi bush-rat Yibatha eagle-hawk Wumbi and Butha eagle-hawk
Kubbi flying-squirrel Yibatha mallee-hen Wumbi and Butha mallee-hen
Kubbi bush-rat Yibatha opossum Wumbi and Butha opossum
Kubbi bandicoot Yibatha opossum Wumbi and Butha opossum

As an example I give a diagram of one marriage in each class, namely, the first in Yibai, and that in Murri.

Diagram XIII
Yibai Murri
m. Aa 1 m. Aa 3
f. Bd 5 f. Ab 8
m. and f. Bc 5 m. and f. Aa 8
etc. etc.

This shows that, in the first place, descent is in the female line; in the second, that while the class and the totem descend direct from mother to child, the sub-class is alternatively one of the two which represent the class. Each totem is restricted to marriage with certain totems of the other class, and not, as in the Dieri tribe, for instance, allowed to marry any of those totems.

The totems were given to me in the manner recorded, certain of them being said to belong to Yibai, others to Kumbo, to Murri, and to Kubbi. But when the marriages and descents are considered, it appears that the totems are common to the pair of sub-classes forming a class, and in the successive descents belong to one and then the other. There could be no other result under the cross descents in the sub-classes. The class and totem never change, but the sub-class does. The point of importance is that the totem belongs alternatively to each of the sub-classes; but I have not been able to find an explanation for the statement which is constantly made that such and such totems belong to some particular sub-class, unless it is that the individual considers that his totem belongs to the sub-class to which he belongs, so far as he is concerned. It must be noted also that this list is incomplete.

A statement made by one of my Wiradjuri informants is worth recording, as showing that all the restrictions or enlargements of privileges are the result of thought. He said "Kubbi-guro (bush-rat) and Kubbi-butherung (flying-squirrel) can each marry Yibatha-gurimul (opossum), because they are very near to each other in the Kubbi-budjan" (that is sub-class). It was also said that Kubbi-bandicoot cannot marry Yibatha-opossum, but may marry Yibatha-kangaroo, or Yibatha-mallee-hen; but for this no reason could be given other than "our fathers said it was so."

There is always a difficulty in working out the totemic marriages unless there are persons present (especially old men or old women) of the different sub-classes and totems. A man knows with which his totem marries, and he knows those of his kindred of either side, but less of more distant persons. My Wiradjuri informants were too few to admit of working out those data completely.

One point must be noted, namely, that the totem name passes, at each level in a generation, from the sub-class of the mother to that of the child.

Among the southern Wiradjuri, girls are promised by their fathers to the sons of other men, the children being very young. When the boy is old enough to marry, that is when his beard has grown again after the Burbung ceremony, and the consent of the kindred on both sides has been given, he fetches his promised wife, and usually her brother returns with him to his part of the tribe, and receives the sister in exchange. This exchange of sisters was called "Gun-gunmur." At times when the father of a girl refused to give his consent to the marriage of his daughter to some man, she eloped with him; and if they could remain away for a long time, say a year, they were forgiven on their return.

In the Baraba-baraba tribe, which was probably an offshoot of the Wiradjuri, the marriages in the sub-classes were as follows, according to Mr. A. L. P. Cameron:—

Yipai and Butha Wumbai and Yipatha
Muri and Kubetha Kubi and Matha

This, however, requires further confirmation, being quite contrary to the general class law.

In the northern section of the Wiradjuri, whose country is on the Lachlan River, the rules of marriage and descent have marked differences from those of the southern Wiradjuri or the Kamilaroi.

The marriages and descents are shown in the subjoined table, which exhibits both the regular and the anomalous marriages:—

Male Marries Children are
Ipai mallee-hen Kubbitha black duck
  or Kubbitha red kangaroo
Ipai padi-melon Kubbitha lace-lizard
or (anomalous)
Matha bandicoot
Ipai opossum Kubbitha bandicoot
Matha black duck
Matha red kangaroo
Matha snake
or (anomalous)
Kumbo mallee-hen Matha red kangaroo The Children are always of the complementary sub-class to that of their mother, and of her totem.
  or Matha black duck
Kumbo emu Matha snake
or (anomalous)
Kubbitha bandicoot
Kumbo opossum Matha bandicoot
Kubbitha black duck
Kubbitha red kangaroo
Kubbitha lace-lizard
or (anomalous)
Murri red kangaroo Butha mallee-hen
Murri black duck Bulha emu
  or or (anomalous)
Murri snake Ipatha opossum
Murri bandicoot Ipatha mallee-hen
Ipatha padi-melon
or (anomalous)
Butha opossum
Kubbi red kangaroo Ipatha padi-melon
Kubbi black duck Ipatha mallee-hen
  or or (anomalous)
Kubbi lace-lizard Butha opossum
Kubbi bandicoot Ipatha opossum
Butha mallee-hen
Butha emu
or (anomalous)

There is another totem belonging to Ipai and Kumbo, which Mr. Cameron was unable to obtain.

The class system has been given in the previous chapter. The peculiar feature in these marriages is that a man is permitted to marry into both of the sub-classes of the opposite class—that is, in fact, to revert partially to the old law of the classes. But it may be perhaps done from other reasons—for instance, the small number of the people of certain totems compelling those who otherwise would have married in accordance with the general rule of the sub-classes to follow the older law. This will come again under notice in considering the marriage rules of the tribe adjacent to the northern Wiradjuri, namely, the Wonghibon.

The exceptional marriages of this branch of the Wiradjuri may be illustrated by two diagrams, showing first the marriage of Ipai-mallee-hen with Kubbitha-black-duck, which is according to the usual law of the sub-class; second, the marriage of Ipai-mallee-hen with Matha-bandicoot, which is indeed contrary to the law of the sub-classes.

The following diagram will show how these unusual marriage rules work out:—

Diagram XIV
m. Aa 1 m. Aa 1
f. Bd 3 f. Bc 2
m. and f. Bc 3 m. and f. Ab 2
etc. etc.

The letters and numerals are those attached to the class, sub-class, and totem in the table in Chapter III.

Whatever the marriages are, the children take that sub-class name which they would have under the usual marriage law; that is, Matha's children are Kubbi and Kubbitha of the same totem as their mother. The difference is that under the usual marriage of Ipai with Kubbitha his children would be Murri and Matha.

To the north of the country of the Lachlan Wiradjuri there is the Wonghibon tribe, which in fact appears to be a branch of the former under another name. The sub-classes are the same as those of the Wiradjuri, but the marriages of the sub-classes differ in their arrangement from the rules of the southern Wiradjuri and the Kamilaroi, but agree with the practice just mentioned of their neighbours, the northern Wiradjuri. The subjoined table gives them as made out by Mr. Cameron and carefully revised by me.

The diagrammatic statement of the Wonghibon class system is as follows. The two primary classes are Ngielbumurra, which divides into Ipai and Kumbo, and Mukumurra, which divides into Murri and Kubbi.

Classes. Sub-Classes. Totems.
Ngielbumurra Ipai Mallee-hen
Kumbo Opossum
Mukumurra Murri Black duck
Kubbi Red kangaroo

The marriages and descents are as follows, including the anomalous unions, which are marked *. The normal marriages are placed first.

Male Marries Children are
Ipai mallee-hen Kubbitha black duck The children are always of the moether's class and totem, and of the fellow sub-class to hers.
* Matha kangaroo
* Matha bandicoot
Ipai emu Kubbitha black duck
Kubbitha bandicoot
* Matha Kangaroo
Ipai opposum Kubbitha kangaroo
* Matha black duck
* Matha bandicoot
Kumbo mallee-hen Matha black duck
* Kubbitha bandicoot
* Kubbitha kangaroo
Kumbo emu Matha black duck
Matha bandicoot
* Kubbitha kangaroo
Kumbo opossum Matha kangaroo
* Kubbitha black duck
* Kubbitha bandicoot
Murri kangaroo Butha opossum
* Ipatha mallee-hen
* Ipatha emu
Murri bandicoot Butha emu
* Ipatha mallee-hen
* Ipatha opossum
Murri black duck Butha mallee-hen
Butha emu
* Ipatha opossum
Kubbi wild duck Ipatha mallee-hen
Ipatha emu
* Butha opossum
Kubbi bandicoot Ipatha emu
* Butha opossum
* Butha mallee-hen
Kubbi kangaroo Ipatha opossum
* Butha mallee-hen
* Butha emu

A diagram constructed as in the case of the Wiradjuri shows similar features,

Mr. Cameron directed my attention about the year 1883 to the difference in the marriage arrangements of the Wonghibon from those of the Kamilaroi, and said that he had made every endeavour to discover whether there was any mistake, but found, after inquiry, that the statements were correct. His Wathi-wathi informant at that time told him that if a Wongi went to the Wiradjuri for a wife, the difficulty could be got over by considering the totemic names of the individuals.[33]

It will be observed that the child always takes the mother's totem, and that the sub-class of the child is the fellow sub-class to that of the mother, the two together representing their class. What appears to have been intended by this arrangement is that a wider choice should be given for marriage, for the result as to descent is that, as the class and totem follow the female line direct, it is the sub-class which changes in each level of a generation. The marriages are within the class, and the older law is followed as to the class and totem. The explanation may perhaps be found in the fact that the totems are irregularly distributed. For instance, about Mossgiel the opossum totem is almost extinct, while in other parts of the Wonghibon country its members are numerous, and the emu totem and mallee-hen are correspondingly scarce. Such at any rate was the explanation given by the Wonghi informants, who also said that the action of these two totems is to cause the bearer to change his "budjan" (totem), as then Ipai-willi (opossum) ranks as a Kumbo, and Kumbo-willi as Ipai ; Murri-gurung (bandicoot) as Kubbi, and Kubbi-gurung as Murri. This explanation seems to me to be probable, since we know that the native tribes will resort to rearrangements of the class divisions and totems to meet marriage difficulties, or will even alter the status of relationships of two or more persons for that purpose.

In the Geawegal[34] tribe on the Hunter River (which had the Kamilaroi sub-class names) marriage was ordinarily by gift of the woman, and by consent of both fathers, if the future husband was a boy or youth, and would be arranged years before the time for marriage. Girls were also affianced in childhood to men much older than themselves. Wives were also exchanged by their husbands. Some strong or popular men had a number of wives. Elopement of unmarried girls was occasional, and in such cases the man would have to fight the intended husband or his male relatives. If he proved to be the victor, he kept the girl. She in such cases ran the risk of being beaten by her relatives, or even killed. In the event of female captives being taken, they belonged to their captors, if of a class from which wives might be legally taken by them. If of a forbidden class, my informant thought the captor might make an exchange with some one of the proper class who had a woman at his disposal. The class of the female captive would be known if she belonged to any of the tribes with which the Geawegal were familiar. If the class could not be ascertained, then there would not be any objection to her captor retaining her.

As a man had power of life and death over his wife, so in the process of violent seizure he assumed the same power. The only risk he ran was from the rage of her relatives and friends.

In all cases it was absolutely necessary that a woman should be married according to tribal law. The contrary would be inconceivable to the Geawegal. For instance, were the question put, "Could not so-and-so marry?" mentioning some man or woman of forbidden class, the reply would invariably be, "It cannot be."

Occasionally saturnalia took place, at which wives were exchanged or lent to young men, so that intercourse was almost promiscuous, subject to the class laws. When they admitted this to my informant they did so as if they were ashamed of it. This occurred not in the daylight but at night. It might not happen for years.

I have not been able to ascertain more than the fact that the Wollaroi, Unghi, and Bigambul tribes have the same sub-class names as the Kamilaroi, and that their marriage laws are practically the same as those of the latter.

In the Wollaroi[35] it is the mother who promises her daughter to some man of her selection, but to this rule there is the exception that brothers also exchanged their sisters without the direct intervention of their mothers. Here we may perhaps see the transition from the older practice of the Lake Eyre tribes, where the two-class system still maintains, to that of tribes in which the father disposed of his daughter, or of the daughter of his younger brother.

In cases of elopement with the wife of another man, it was the Wollaroi practice for the abductor to stand out before a number of the woman's kindred, who were armed with spears, he having merely a spear for his protection, to turn them aside. If he passed through the ordeal safely he was allowed to keep the woman. Among the Wollaroi a widow went to the brother, own or tribal, of her deceased husband.

In the Unghi tribe it was the father who promised his daughter when she was a child, and she remained with her parents till she was marriageable, which was usually about the age of twelve or thirteen, when the man to whom she had been promised went for her, accompanied by his totemic comrades.[36]

The sub-class marriage rule in the Unghi tribe was as follows:—

Male Marries Children are
Hipai Kubutha Muri and Mata
Kombo Mata

Kubi and Kubutha

Muri Butha Hipai and Hipatha
Kubi Hipatha Kombo and Butha

The system of four sub-classes with descent in the female line is succeeded in southern Queensland by four other sub-classes with male descent. These continue to somewhere about Rockhampton, and are succeeded by tribes having also four sub-classes, but with descent in the female line. Of these latter I take the Kuinmurbura tribe which lived in the peninsula between Broad Sound and Shoalwater Bay as the representatives. The following table gives the marriages of the sub-classes and totems:—

Male Marries Children are
Kurpal eagle-hawk Karilburan hawk Munal hawk
Kurpal laughing-jackass Karilburan hawk Munal curlew
Kuialla eagle-hawk Munalan hawk Karilbura hawk
Kuialla laughing-jackass Munalan curlew Karilbura curlew
Karilbura curlew Kurpalan laughing-jackass Kuilla laughing-jackass
Karilbura water Kurpalan eagle-hawk Kuilla eagle-hawk
Karilbura wallaby Kurpalan laughing-jackass Kuilla laughing-jackass
Karilbura hawk Kurpalan eagle-hawk Kuilla eagle-hawk
Munal curlew Kuiallan laughing-jackass Kurpalan laughing-jackass
Munal water Kuiallan laughing-jackass Kurpalan laughing-jackass
Munal hawk Kuiallan eagle-hawk Kurpalan eagle-hawk

Marriage in these tribes was commonly by betrothal of a girl often when a mere infant. The actual ceremony of betrothal is by the male cousin[38] of the girl taking her to the camp of her future husband, and seating her there at his back, and close to him; who, however, according to their etiquette, takes no notice of her. She is painted and decorated with feathers in her hair. After a time her conductor takes the feathers from her hair and fastens them in that of the man, and then leads her back to the camp of her father. The feathers remain in the man's hair for about a day.

The future husband, after this, sends presents of fruit, game, or other food to her, and she goes occasionally to eat it at his camp. When her father thinks she is old enough to be married, he informs her betrothed and sends the girl out to gather food with the other women. The man having painted himself, and taken his weapons, follows her, accompanied by all the unmarried men in the camp of the same class and totem as himself to help him. When they find her, he goes forward, and takes her by the hand, telling her that he has come for her. The women at once surround her and try to prevent him from taking her. She cries, and tries to get away from him, and if she does not like him she bites his wrist, thus refusing him. If she does this he throws her from him and leaves her. After a few days, he again tries her, and if he can prevent her from biting, his wrist, or if she does not do so, he calls the men to help him, and while they hold the women, he takes her away to his camp. The next day he goes out to hunt, and in his absence the men who had gone with him to take her, and who are of the same class and totem as himself, go to his camp and have access to her as a right. They and her husband are all in the relation of Durki to her. One may infer that this custom is a vestigiary one, indicating a time when there was group-marriage in this tribe, and that the relation of Durki is analogous to that of Noa in the Dieri tribe. Indeed, such customs may explain the jus primae noctis, which Lord Avebury truly explains as expiation for individual marriage. In the Kurnandaburi tribe we see the practice in force on the occasion of marriage, and also sub rosa between the woman and her husband's brothers, while it is in the Dieri tribe a living fact among all the tribes-people as one of the two recognised forms of marriage, namely that following the Tippa-malku relation, and the other the Pirrauru marriage ceremony.

In the Kuinmurbura tribe a widow went to the elder brother (murang) or the younger (woern) of her deceased husband.

A man had to make presents of game to the parents of his wife. When a Kuinmurbura married a woman of another tribe he lived with hers, but would not take part in intertribal fights with his own, on such occasions being merely a spectator. A female captive was the property of her captor, if of the proper class and totem.

The marriages and descents in the Kongulu tribe, which occupied the country between the Mackenzie River and the lower Dawson, were as follows[39]:—

Male Marries Children are
Bunya Kaiyaragun Bunjur and Bunjurgun
Tarbain Bunjurgun Kaiyara and Kaiyaragun
Kaiyara Bunyagun Tarbain and Tarbaingun
Bunjur Tarbaingun Bunya and Bunyagun

Bunya and Tarbain represent the class name Yunguro, and Kaiyara and Bunjur the class Wutthuru.

I have no information as to the totem marriages excepting that the totem always descends from the mother to her child. The child therefore takes its mother's class and totem and the sub-class name which with hers represent her class. Descent is therefore in the female line.

Inland from the Kuinmarbura tribe there are other tribes with another set of class, sub-class, and totem names. The most southern representative of these is the before-mentioned Emon tribe. The best example of these tribes known to me is the Wakelbura, whose class-names, sub-classes, and totems I have given.

The rules of marriage and descent in this tribe have a peculiar feature in the totem of the child being different both to that of its father and its mother. Unfortunately Mr. J. C. Muirhead was unable to give me a reason for it, and the tribe is now extinct.

The following table was compiled from data furnished by the marriages and descents in four generations in one case, five in another, and two in a third. The two class names are omitted.


Male Marries Children are
Kurgilla opossum Obuan emu Wungo and Wungoan carpet-snake
Kurgilla plains-turkey Obuan carpet-snake (?)
Kurgilla plains-turkey Obuan hill kangaroo (?)
Kurgilla small honey-bee Obuan carpet-snake (?)
Banbe iguana Wungoan carpet-snake Obu and Obuan emu
Wungo carpet-snake Banbean iguana Kurgilla and Kurgillan opossum
Obu emu Kurgillan opossum Banbe and Banbean emu

This list is evidently incomplete as to the totems, and apparently incorrect in giving emu as a totem of both the Banbe and Obu sub-classes; but it shows in all instances that the child was of another totem than that of either of its parents. The only instances of a similar kind known to me are those of the Arunta and other Central Australian tribes made known by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen. There is no possibility now of ascertaining what the belief of the Wakelbura was as to the re-incarnation of the ancestor.

I have again to point out that although it is said that a certain totem belongs to a certain sub-class, in fact it belongs to both of the pair, but alternates in succeeding generations from one to the other.

A wife was not obtained in this tribe in any other way than by betrothal, excepting the rarer cases of elopement and capture.

It was the mother who chose a husband for her daughter as soon as she was born—some man who had been a true friend to her father, brother, husband, or some one near to her, in the hour of need; and the man to whom she was promised took her away when she was old enough to carry his baggage about the bush, that is, about twelve years of age. In cases of elopement the man to whom she was promised claimed her from the man she had gone with, and there was a set fight between them. The victor kept her, but there were usually two or three fights before the matter was settled. If, after she had consented to marry the man to whom she had been promised, she eloped with some other man, of the proper class and totem, or even if she had been compelled to go by force, she would be almost cut to pieces by her own brothers, and father's brothers, as also by the men of her promised husband's totem. Her brothers might even almost kill her, because they would thereby lose the woman by whose exchange they would obtain a wife for one of them.

The tribal law was extremely strict as to unlawful connections or elopements between persons too nearly related to each other. Such persons would be, for instance, those whom we call cousins, both on the father's and the mother's side, or who are of the class, sub-classes, or totems which do not intermarry. For instance, if a Kurgilla-tunara man ran off with an Obuan-wallaroo (hill kangaroo) woman who ought properly in due course to have married a Kurgilla-burkum (plains-turkey) man, his own and tribal brothers would be against him, as well as the brothers own and tribal of the woman, and those also of the promised husband. In short, he would have to fight with all of them. They would fight in the camp, or wherever they happened to meet. Commonly the woman's brothers called on the promised husband, or, if she was married, on her husband, to come forward and fight the offender, but sometimes it happened, if the promised husband was a very strong or able fighting man, that he would follow the man who had taken his promised wife to his camp. The mother of the woman would cut, and perhaps kill her, and the man's own brothers would challenge him to fight them, by throwing boomerangs and other weapons about him. If he did not accept the challenge, they would turn on the woman, who unless she could escape into the bush, would be probably crippled, or even killed, by their weapons. The next proceeding would be that the promised husband and the offender would fight, both being fully armed with shield, spear, boomerang, and knife.[40] The offender in such a fight would be sure to come off worst, for even if he proved to be a better man than his antagonist, the brothers of the latter, or even his own brothers, would attack him and he would be probably gashed with their knives, since his own brothers would not mind if they killed him, for under such circumstances his death would not be avenged.

When in such a fight the missile weapons were exhausted, recourse was had to knives. A dense ring of blacks generally formed round the combatants, to see fair play, and to separate the men when unfair cutting was attempted. But even here the proper husband would have an advantage, if any advantage were possible, for the blacks know before-hand which is the better man, and the lookers-on would take care that the offender did not do any serious harm to his adversary. If he did, then his relations would suffer for him, when their tribe came on a visit, for their motto is "Death for death," unless it were in some fair fight, or between comrades over some game killed. In such a case the man who killed the other would be only roughly spoken to.

But in such a fight as that above mentioned, if one of the combatants were in such a position that his antagonist could put his knife against a vital part, at the same time calling to him to give in, and he would not yield, he would probably plunge his knife into him and kill him. It is in such a case that the relatives of the man in danger, if they observed it, would close in and separate the two, taking their knives from them, and thereby end the fight.

But the woman would in any case receive a terrible punishment by cutting with their knives, and would be compelled to go with her promised husband, or her husband if she were married, or she might even be killed in the fight.

At festive meetings of the tribe, men of the same totem exchanged wives for two or three days, and they also lent women to friendly visitors, who must of course be of the proper class, sub-class, and totem. A widow went to the brother of the deceased husband, or if there were not any, to his best friend of the same totem. The brother must be of the same mother, but might be by a different father.

A child of an unlawful amour, or unlawful marriage, if it were not killed, would be called Kongara, that is, mongrel. For instance, if the mother were Wungoan, and the child were a boy, he would be Wungo, but would not have any totem.

In this tribe, as will be seen from the following example, there was group-marriage. Say that there are seven men, all Mallera-kurgilla-small-bee, and who are, some own, and some tribal brothers. One of these men is married, his wife being Wutheran-obukan-carpet-snake. None of the other six men is married. They and the woman married to their brother call each other husband and wife, and the six men have and exercise marital rights as to her. Her child calls each of these six men father, as well as the seventh man, who is the actual husband of its mother, and the six men have to protect the child. This clearly is a form of the Pirrauru marriage of the Lake Eyre tribes. The importance of this occurrence in a tribe, so distant from those of Lake Eyre, is that the Wakelbura is one of a large group of tribes who have the same organisation.

In cases where there was an elopement between persons of two different tribes, the woman was sometimes left with her abductor if she survived the cutting she received; but he would then probably leave his own tribe and join some other, for otherwise, whenever his and her tribe met, there would be renewed contests between his and her relatives.

If a man from a distant tribe, say from the Barcoo or the Mackenzie River, running off with an unmarried Wakelbura woman, got away safely to his distant home before the woman's kindred could catch him, and meanwhile her promised husband died, the other must forsake his own tribe and join hers, or her relatives would call him to combat. In all cases known of this nature the man forsook his tribe, and by doing so he was safe from molestation by them, and his own kindred would not feel any anger against him. From this time forward he would be called by the name of the tribe which he had joined, and would take part in their ceremonies and fight on their side, even against his former tribe.

Women were captured by tribes who came from a distance to attend an Umba or other ceremony, and this was done when the ceremonies were over, and the people were going homewards. That is, the visitors captured women from their hosts, not the latter from the former. Their turn came when they were visitors. But it is not always that the opportunity offer, for, the practice being well known, the women were closely guarded. Yet at times a woman would wait till the visitors were two or three days distant on their homeward route, and then follow the man she had become attached to, and who had lingered behind for her. When she overtook him they hastened forward and joined the main body.

In the case of a captured woman, her captor would only keep her if she were of that class and totem with which his might marry. But there was an exception to this general rule, namely, when she had been severely cut with knives. The issue of such a marriage was called Ungkara or Ungura, also meaning mongrel.

The subjoined table shows the intermarriages of the Wakelbura and allied tribes, which are based upon locality, and are regulated also by the class system and totems. Thus both the social and the local organisations govern marriage.

Tribe Obtains wives from Gives wives to
1 Wakelbura 3 and 8 2 and 3
2 Auanbura 1 " 14 5 " 6
3 Mutherabura 2 " 13 13 " 1
4 Dorobura 11 " 12 10 " 11
5 Tilbabura 6 " 8 6 " 2
6 Terrabura 8 " 2 5 " 8
7 Mutabura 8 " 9 9 " 6
8 Kumbukabura 6 " 10 7 " 1
9 Munkibura 8 " 11 1 " 4
10 Boanbura 4 " 10 12 " 10
11 Bingabura 11 " 4 11 " 2
12 Babingbura 3 " 13 3 " 13
13 Buthalibura Not ascertained.

In seven instances there is reciprocity between one of each of the intermarrying tribes, in one between both. The latter is, I think, the most usual custom.

The marriages and descents in the Bnntamurra tribe of the Bulloo River are as follows:[41]

Male Marries Children are
Gurgela Guberugun Wongo and Wongogun
Banbari Wongogun Guberu and Guberugun
Wongo Banbarigun Gurgela and Gurgelagun
Guberu Gurgelagun Banbari and Banbarigun

This falls in with the normal marriage system of the four sub-class tribes with female descent.

The totemic marriages are also with descent in the female line, the child taking the totem of its mother. But there is the same peculiar statement by the native informant, that certain totems belong to his sub-class, thus dividing the totems into four groups, while the totem is in fact attached to one sub-class in one generation and to the other in the next. This is seen from the subjoined diagram of marriage and descent in this tribe.

Diagram XV

This shows that while the sub-class name alternates with each generation, the totem name remains fixed in the female line direct. While Gurgela-kangaroo takes the fellow sub-class name to that of his mother, he takes her totem. This is one of those points which I have not yet been able to satisfactorily settle, namely, why is it that a man of a certain sub-class claims certain totems as belonging to it? It seems that he sees only his sub-class, to which the totem certainly belongs so far as he is concerned, but in the next generation his sister's children will bear it, together with another sub-class name.

In the Dalebura tribe a widow went to the eldest brother of the deceased husband, not necessarily as a wife, but if not, then to place her family under his protection. For instance, if there were a daughter who had been betrothed by the deceased, it would be the duty of the brother to see that the promise should be carried out. If the daughter were not betrothed, then the brother of the deceased would have the disposal of her. The sons of the widow would be protected by their father's brother. This arrangement would be of advantage to the widow's brother-in-law, because as long as she remained under his care he would have another hand to assist in providing the daily necessary food.[42]

Tribes with Four Sub-Classes and Male Descent

Tribes organised in this manner are found in southern Queensland, extending westward from the coast, between Brisbane and Port Curtis, as far at least as the Bunya-bunya Mountains.

Fortunately the class names have been preserved in some
of these tribes; for instance, in the Kaiabara, who lived in the Widji-widji or Bunya Mountain district. The two class names were practically those of the Kamilaroi, namely, Kubatine and Dilebi, and by them it is possible to make a direct comparison of the rule of marriage and descent in the classes and totems of these tribes. The sub-class marriages are as follows:[43]

Male Marries Children are
Bulkoin Turowain Bunda
Bunda Baring Bulkoin
Baring Bunda Turowain
Turowain Bulkoin Baring

Bulkoin and Bunda are called brothers, so are also Baring and Turowain.

Bulkoin and Bunda are the subdivisions of Kubatine, and Baring and Turowain of Dilebi. The following diagram compares the Kaiabara and Kamilaroi marriages and descents:—

Diagram XVI
Kamilaroi Kaiabara
m. Aa m. Aa
f. Bd f. Bd
m. and f. Bc m. and f. Ab
etc. etc.

It is clear that in these tribes, while the class name descends from father to child, the sub-class name of the child is that which, together with that of its father, represents the class of the latter. Therefore descent is in the male line. The sub-classes of this tribe are the equivalents of those of the Kamilaroi, Bulkoin and Bunda of Ipai-Kumbo, and Baring and Turowain of Murri-Kubbi.

But when one comes to the totemic marriages, a peculiar feature shows itself. The following table was carefully taken down from the statements of some of Mr. Brooke's native police, as to themselves, they being Kaiabara:—

Male Marries Children are
Bulkoin carpet-snake Turowain black eagle-hawk Bunda white eagle-hawk
Bunda native cat Baring rock carpet-snake Bulkoin scrub carpet-snake
Baring turtle Bunda white eagle-hawk Turowain black eagle-hawk
Turowain bat Bulkoin female carpet-snake Baring scrub carpet-snake

This shows that while there is male descent in the classes and sub-classes, it is in the female line in the totems, with the peculiarity that while the child takes the same beast or bird as its mother, it is of a different colour or gender. Another peculiarity is that the same totem appears to belong to Bulkoin and Baring, that is to both classes. This suggests an inaccuracy, which I was not able to check.

I could not ascertain whether the Kaiabara marriage law was of the Urabunna or the Dieri type, but did so as to that of the Muruburra tribe living at the White Cliffs at Great Sandy Island. There the proper wife of a man is the daughter of his mother's brother. The following instance shows how this is, the man in question being Therwain-wurumi (fire), his wife being Balgoingun, and his son being Baring. His wife was given to him by her father . Bunda, who was the brother of Bundagun, the mother of Therwain-wurumi, thus:—

Diagram XVII
Bundagun   Bunda
Therwain-wurutni   marriageable   Balgoingun

This diagram may be compared with those given of the Urabunna and Dieri rules.

It was the old men in the Kaiabara who instructed the children in the marriage laws, about the boundaries of their country, and what they might eat. The boys stood in one row and the girls in another, and an old man would walk between them and ask the boys which of the girls they would choose for a wife. If they selected one of the forbidden class, they were abused; but if of the right one, they were praised.

The Kaiabara had an ingenious method of recording the four sub-classes and their marriages in a diagrammatic form on a piece of wood, about four inches in length, as figured on next page, the markings being made in such a manner as to represent a man with his arms crossed.

The family represented in the upper quadrant is called Avang, or mother, the right-hand quadrant is Yerome, or father's sister; the left-hand one is Gummi, or mother's brother; and the lower one Malaumi, or husband. No reason could be given for these
names beyond that it was, as one man said, "Bunda and Therwain in each family speak of the upper family as Avang."

Tribes within Fifty Miles of Maryborough (Queensland)

These tribes have the same two class names, Kupathin and Tilby, as the Kaiabara. The four sub-classes are also the same.

Mr. Harry E. Aldridge sent me a number of tables of marriages and descents which he had collected in the tribes around Maryborough, and on Frazer's Island (Great Sandy Island).

These, however, differed considerably amongst themselves in the arrangement of the sub-classes and in the marriages and descents. So much so that the correctness of some of them seemed doubtful.

One of them, however, was seemingly correct, and agreed with those of the Kaiabara and of the White Cliff tribe (Muruburra) on Great Sandy Island, and is as under:—


Male Marries Children are
Balogin Theirwain Bunda
Bunda Parang Balgoin
Parang Bunda Theirwain
Theirwain Balgoin Parang
Marriages occur in different ways. A girl, when a mere infant, may be promised to some suitable man. For instance, a young man may distinguish himself in some manner, as a fine dancer, or a successful hunter, or an expert fighting-man, or in some other manner. Some man having a daughter of that sub-class with which the young man may marry, and being pleased with him, may say to his father, "I have a daughter, and will give her to your son." Or he may say so to some man who is eminent in the tribe, and whose son is old enough to marry. Taking such a case as the latter as an instance, when the youth in question has been admitted to the privileges of manhood at the Dora ceremonies, and sufficient time has elapsed to allow his beard to have grown again, he will be allowed to take the girl for his wife. If he were to attempt to do so before, he would not be permitted, and the girl's father might say to him, "Go away! What are you thinking about—taking a wife without any hair on your face?"

The old men had usually several wives each, but always keeping to the "old original ones," or rather the old original ones keeping to them.

In these tribes not only were the children of brothers, or the children of sisters forbidden to marry, being too near to each other, but the children of a man and those of his sister were also forbidden to marry, for the same reason. But it sometimes happened that two persons in those relationships fell in love with each other, and ran away together. Such cases were always severely punished. In one instance the girl was taken away twice from the man, and both were very severely dealt with. They then went off again, and her Kummi (mother's brother) killed her. The man escaped and left his district for some years, or he would have been killed by his kindred.

It was permitted to the unmarried girls, if they wished to do so, to encamp away by themselves at a little distance, or they and some widows might make such a camp. It would face away from the main encampment, and its situation is a sign that the young women are there waiting for the young men to come and court them. The young men visit them, and a couple, a girl and a young man, will often be in the girls' camp for several evenings talking, before she will consent to his wishes. This practice is not thought to be wrong unless it is done so openly that it is patent to the other people, when the young couple are subject to ridicule. Any girl may join this camp, but many of them do not do so, and numbers remain perfectly virtuous, until their promised husband fetches them. This is certain, because such things are the subject of conversation.

Of course the young man and woman must be of the proper marriageable class and eligible on the score of relationship. Otherwise it would be considered very disgraceful. All this is pretty well known, because they talk over their amours with their particular friends.

A man is ruled in his desire for a particular woman by being of the class, sub-class, and totem from which he may lawfully take a wife. On his persisting in a contrary course, the influence of the members of the tribe would be brought to bear on him, and on these occasions of debate, each man interested would make a speech, sometimes very ably, and standing near the opening of his hut, grasping his spear with one hand as it rested on the ground.

In some cases a girl will run off with a favoured lover, rather than become the wife of the promised husband. If the couple are then captured, or if they return voluntarily, the young man has to fight all her male relatives who choose to take the matter up. The girl is at the same time severely beaten by her kindred. But a young man, who has thus carried off a girl, may placate her relations, and also her promised husband, if he sends presents to them before he returns.

If it were a married woman who eloped with some man, they would be followed, and if caught would be both nearly killed. Such women as these, who, as the blacks say, are always "looking out for men," and who become notorious for their immorality, are looked down upon as the prostitutes of the tribe, and are lent to visitors as temporary wives.

There is a curious ceremonial practice connected with marriage which occurs at the termination of the Dora ceremonies. At the end of the dancing corrobboree, held on the last evening, the assemblage disperses, spreading out like a fan from the ceremonial ground, and it is then that the young men, of both sides of the community, lie in wait in the darkness to capture women, by rushing out and carrying them off as they return to their camps. This has to be done quietly, otherwise the girls' friends will return and rescue them. If the attackers feel themselves sufficiently strong in numbers, they defend their captures; if not, they let them go, and escape for their lives, sometimes receiving very ugly wounds. The women captured may be either married or single, but a preference is always given to the latter, and husbands with any regard for their wives always keep a good look-out on them at this time, for otherwise it is more than probable that they would be missing. A young man "from information received" gets the right girl. He also asks when he has seized her of what class she is, and if not suitable, immediately lets her go. His object is to get a wife of the right class. When these tribelets meet, there is always some one who knows, and can tell everything about the other classes, sub-classes, or totems, as well as his own.

When a man marries a woman from a distant locality, he goes with her tribelet, and identifies himself with her people, and this is a rule with very few exceptions. He becomes part of her family and kindred. In the event of a ceremonial combat occurring, between the tribe of the woman and that of her husband, the latter acts as a blood relation of her people, and will fight with, and even if possible kill, his own relations of his former tribe. A father and his son have been seen fighting under such circumstances, and the son would have killed his father, if he had not been prevented.

Fighting being a pastime with them, a few blows or a deep cut or two are considered as nothing, and the men being in first-rate physical condition, the wounds soon heal.

A man travelling from a distance, who can speak the language of the people in a place at which he arrives, and thus make himself known to them, will be hospitably treated. People meeting him and who do not know him will ask him. who he is. He says, for instance, "I am Bunda; the name I received at the Dora is so and so." He tells them who his father is, and what his name is, and where his mother came from, and some one is almost sure to know something about him. If he cannot satisfactorily tell them who he is, he will be almost certainly killed. But a man who has satisfactorily made himself known, and who is a fine dancer or singer, or a great fighting-man, or has some special qualifications, may, if he is generous and makes presents to his entertainers, be provided with a temporary wife, it being of course understood that she is of the class with which his own intermarries. Such a woman would, however, be one of those who, the blacks say, are "always looking out for men." The old men would order her to go with the stranger, and if she objected, it would be the worse for her. A man would arrange this, and thus reserve his wife from the stranger, and any intercourse between a stranger and a woman without the consent of her husband would cause trouble. The husband, father, or brother of such a woman would receive the presents if any were given.

Sometimes men were lured in this way to be killed. In one case two black boys were so lured and killed, who were in Mr. Aldridge's service, and their bodies were cut up and left lying on a log.

A man might in the manner described make himself known over a tract of country having a radius of about one hundred and twenty miles from Maryborough, that is to say, to the confines of the next tribe to that to which the man belonged. But say that two tribes, a hundred miles apart, met at a corrobboree, or a ceremonial fight, and that some man of one tribe was much admired for his dancing or other qualifications, a man of the other tribe might say to him, "I will give you my daughter." The other man, agreeing, would return with him, and thus pick up another language, which would carry him another hundred or a hundred and fifty miles further out. He could then go still further, and, by making presents, or by making himself agreeable to the tribe in some way, they also would receive him hospitably, and entertain him as before mentioned.

A woman taken in a hostile attack belonged to the man who captured her, if she were of the proper class. Nearly all their fights were the result of the capture of women, either after the ceremonial combats, or in raids made for that special object.

A brother of a deceased man could take the widow, and he might be either the elder or the younger brother, but he must be of the same father and mother, or of the same father and another mother, of the same mother and another father, and not merely a tribal brother. When a man took his deceased brother's widow he was compelled to support the children who went with her to his camp. A widow without children was looked upon as the same as an unmarried girl. A widow with children was considered as independent of the control of father or mother. A widow always remarried, but was not considered such a prize as an unmarried girl.

A man and his wife's mother would never look at or in the direction of each other. The man would hide himself anywhere or anyhow if she were about. This relation was called Mulong.

Such were the marriage customs of the tribes within a radius of about fifty miles from Maryborough. On the coast northwards, and in the Wide Bay district, the customs were as follows:[44]

Female children were always allotted to certain men when they were very young by their parents, and a girl so allotted was obliged to go with the man when he came for her. This relationship was called Kunki. If the girl had no Kunki, and her father was a vigorous fighting-man, the young men on the look-out for a wife would solicit his consent; and he giving it to some one, his daughter, if she liked the young man, would comply. But sometimes she liked a man to whom her father objected, and the difference was settled by a fight between the men. If the girl had been promised to another man, the suitor had to settle matters with him. But eloping with a woman, and then keeping out of the way as long as possible, was as common a way as any of obtaining a wife. Even if such a couple remained away a long time it generally ended, when they returned and met her father, by an all-round fight. Clubs and shields were the weapons used on each other, and knives were used on women, being drawn across thick or muscular parts, such as the thigh, with a long gash. Another way of obtaining a wife was by the exchange of a female relative.

In the Turrbal tribe, which occupied the country about Brisbane, girls were betrothed when three or four years of age. Thus wives were obtained by gift or the exchange of female relations, sometimes also by abduction. Girls who had been betrothed were given to their future husbands when of nubile age. When the Wide Bay, Burnet, and Brisbane tribes met for the purpose of "making young men," the daughters of one tribe were given to the great men, or their sons, of the other tribe. In such a marriage all the respective relations on each side were considered to be related to each other, and could travel in the country of either tribe without danger. A woman was sometimes given as a reward for some heroic action. In making these marriage arrangements the mothers were seldom or never consulted. The marriage ceremony was merely that the father and mother led their daughter up to their son-in-law's hut, and left her there. From this time the mother and her daughter's husband never looked at or spoke to each other. It was considered monstrous for a man to marry his brother's widow, and it was never done, but he had a voice in giving her to another.[45]

Tribes with Eight Sub-Classes and Male Descent

North of Lake Eyre, and commencing at the northern boundary of the Urabunna tribe, there is a vast series of tribes with descent in the male line. They extend not only through Central but also into Northern Australia.

Not only have these tribes the four sub-class system, but, as mentioned in a previous chapter, there has been a further division, making eight.

Those in Central Australia which are represented by the Arunta are described fully in the great work of Spencer and Gillen. I have to thank Professor Spencer for the further details as to the marriage regulations of both the four and the eight sub-classes.

The following table gives the Arunta marriages and descents:—

Male Marries Children are
Panunga Purula Bulthara
Bulthara Kumara Panunga
Purula Bulthara Kumara
Kumara Panunga Purula

This gives a rule similar to that of the Kaiabara sub-classes, in which descent is in the male line. In this case also the child is of that sub-class which is the fellow of that of its father.

But Messrs. Spencer and Gillen point out that to a Panunga man, for instance, the Purula women are divided into two groups, the members of one of which stand to him 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.[46] Each of the four sub-classes is thus divided into two other sub-classes, with one of which marriage is forbidden. Thus a Panunga man is only permitted to marry a woman of one of the two divisions of Purula. In the northern part of the tribe matters are simplified by the existence of distinct names for the two groups. In the following table the eight divisions thus arising are laid down, and it will be noted that the old name is used for one half and a new name adopted for the other.[47]

A I. 1. Panunga 5. Purula III. B
2. Ukuarra 6. Ungalla
II. 3. Bulthara 7. Kumura IV.
4. Apungata 8. Umbitchana

Although the existence of classes is not known, it may be said that since the eight sub-classes are derived from the segmentation of four sub-classes, so these latter were formed by the division of two primary classes. The letters A and B have been added by Professor Spencer to indicate the original two classes. By making use of letters and numbers as before, the manner in which the marriages and descents run in the eight sub-classes of the Arunta tribe can be shown in the same way as I have done in the cases of the two-class and the four sub-class systems. I give one in each of class A and class B.

Diagram XIX
A. I. 1. B. III. 5.
B. III. 5. A. I. 1.
A. II 4. B. IV. 7.
B. III. 8. A. II 3.
A. I. 1. B. III. 5.
etc. etc.

It is now evident that the child of the man Panunga and the woman Purula takes the name of one of the divisions of the sub-class which with that of its father represents the primary class. So also with the other divisions of the sub-classes, which can easily be worked out in the same manner. It is also clear that descent in the male line governs this system.

In order to complete the view of the systems of these northern tribes, I add particulars of the Waramunga tribe, which has the eight sub-classes fully developed, and also a peculiarity which occurs in some northern tribes, namely that there are different names for the sisters and brothers. The following table has been kindly given me by Professor Spencer:—

Diagram XX
A   I.   1     Thapanunga Chupilla     5   III.   B
Napanunga Naralu
2     Chunguri Thungali     6
Namagili Nungali
II.   3     Kabidji Thakomara     7   IV.
Nalkari Nakomara
4     Thapungerta Chambein     8
Napungerta Nungali

The diagram of the Arunta marriages serves for the Waramunga also.

Diagram XXI
Waramunga Marriage Rule
m. Kbidji m. Thakomara
f. Nakomara f. Nalkari
m. Chunguri m. Chupilla
m. Kabidji     f. Nalkari m. Thakomara     f. Nakomara

It is as well to mention here that the difficulty which is felt in cases of tribes which have not classes or totems affecting descent, is not experienced with the tribes now under consideration. Their ceremonies and customs make clear the manner in which the sub-classes are associated in pairs, thus indicating the original divisions.

A comparison with former diagrams, especially those of the Urabunna and Dieri, shows that the Waramunga rule is precisely that of the latter. The term of relation "Wankili" is the same as the Dieri "Kami," and the term "Kula-kula" is the same as "Noa." Thus the children of Chunguri are born into the marriageable group formed by the children of Chupilla, and Chunguri and Chupilla are also groups in a wider sense.

These examples will suffice to show the sequence of changes made in the class systems of the tribes of Central Australia from the starting-point of the two class divisions. These changes have been made intentionally for some purpose, and the remarkable feature is the uniformity of the progression, and the vast extent of country over which these changes have been made.

Tribes with Anomalous Class Systems and Female Descent

In Victoria, south of the River tribes, before spoken of, there were the tribes which have been referred to as the Wotjo nation. Of these I take the Wotjobaluk tribe as the principal example, perhaps not so much because I have taken their name for the nation, as that I have more knowledge of them than of the other tribes.

In this tribe the two class names are Krokitch and Gamutch, which are the equivalents of the classes Kilpara and Mukwara, and descent is in the female line. The rule of marriage is shown in the diagram given in the next page. But it must be noted that in all marriages the first question is, "What is the Yauerin" of the respective parties? Yauerin is flesh, but also class, and totem, for no marriage could take place if the class or totem were wrong on either side. Further than this there are the prohibited degrees of relationship to be considered. Among these I found much stress laid on that of Marrup and Marrup-gurk, that is, the son or daughter of the mother's brother or the father's sister. These and their respective children, as far as they can be traced, are prohibited from intermarriage. Another restriction depends on locality, for a man cannot marry a woman from the same place as his mother, as it is said that his Yauerin is too near to that of those there. Hence it is necessary that a wife shall be sought from some place in which there is no Yauerin near to his. The same is the case as to the woman.

All these matters having been considered, the initial step is by the mutual betrothal of a girl with some boy or man. This is done by the fathers, and their consent is essential. Yet it is the respective elder brothers who make the arrangements. That the father has a right of disposal is shown, however, by cases in which he has by his own proper motion promised his daughter to the son of some particular friend.

Such matrimonial arrangements might be made at any time, but were most commonly entered into at the great tribal gatherings for ceremonial or festive purposes, at which the intermarrying tribes met.

At such gatherings there was a place called Jun, at which the men assembled to talk over tribal matters, as when some man had committed an offence, such as a breach of the sexual regulations between the classes, and it was here that matrimonial matters were settled. When the time arrived for the people to return to their homes, the principal Headman lit a fire at the Jun, around which all the men sat down promiscuously, most of them having things which they had brought with them for barter. The Headman would commence by saying, for instance, "You can now exchange your things and be friends." In anticipation of this meeting the young men have found out the unmarried girls who have not been promised, and who are of the class with which theirs may marry, and also from places from which a wife may be taken. Besides this such marriages were discussed beforehand by the fathers of the marriageable girls, and the young men knew well the arrangements which would be sanctioned. Two such young men now sit down beside each other, and on the announcement being made, one hands to the other the things he desires to exchange. During the day they keep together and make much of each other. Towards evening they have become good friends, and one will say to the other, "I will give you my sister for a wife." In such a manner the preliminary steps are taken. It must be remembered that these are the elder brothers who are acting as proxies, so to say, for their younger brothers.

The following is a case which I investigated in order to ascertain the precise manner in which the respective marriages had been brought about:—

Diagram XXII

1. m. Krokitch 2. m. Krokitch 8. m. Gamutch 0. m. Gamutch 3. f. Gamutch 4. f. Gamutchgurk 10. f. Krokitchgurk 11. i. Krokitchgurk 5. m. Gamutch 6. f. . m. 12. m, krokitch 13. f. . m. "Gamutchgurk — Gamutch Krokitchgurk — Krokitch

Nos. 1 and 2 are brothers, No. 1 being the elder. So also are 8 and 9, the former being the elder. No. 5 is the son of the elder brother, and is therefore the elder brother of 6 and 7, the children of 2 and 4; for the children of brothers are all brothers and sisters. No. 12 is therefore, for the same reasons, the elder brother of 13 and 14. It was the elder brother 5 and the elder brother 12 who met in the manner mentioned at the Jun, and agreed to exchange sisters as wives for their younger brothers.

This marriage rule of the Wotjobaluk is a great remove from that of the Urabunna, as it disqualifies not only those who are each other's proper husbands and wives according to the rule of that tribe, but also excludes all their descendants, as far as their descent can be counted. In order to be on perfectly safe ground in such an important conclusion, I made special inquiries; and so that I might deal with actual facts, I tabulated the descents of several of the Wotjobaluk families to ascertain whether any of the wives were in the relation of Marrup to their husbands. In none of them did I find this to be the case, and my informants, after long consideration, said that a man and a woman, being Marrup and Marrup-gurk, could not mix their flesh, their Yauerin being too near. But they added that they remembered that one or two cases had occurred in which such a marriage had been permitted, but in them the parties were from places far distant from each other, for instance the Wimmera and Murray Rivers, and that in those cases their respective parents were distant tribal brothers and sisters.

The Jupagalk, a tribe adjoining the Wotjo nation, were however more decided in this matter, holding that the proper wife for a man would be a woman who stood in the relation of Maap-goruk[48] to him, but that she should be obtained from a distant locality, and not be too near to him in "flesh."

With the Jupagalk marriages were also by the exchange of sisters, and the exchange was made by the respective fathers, with the concurrence of the elder brothers of the girl.

In the Mukjarawaint tribe, which was the southern branch of the Wotjo nation, living in the northern parts of the Grampian mountains, and on the sources of the Wimmera River, I found a variation of this practice in so far that the paternal grandparents had a voice in the disposal of their granddaughter. This is an exceptional instance of the power of the paternal grandparents; but it is accentuated, and perhaps explained in part, by the fact that it depended on the paternal grandfather, and failing him the maternal, whether under certain circumstances a child should be brought up or killed.

An old Wotjobaluk man gave me an instance of how, under certain circumstances, a man might obtain a wife. If at one of their festive gatherings, to which people came from a distance, one of the young men distinguished himself as a dancer, the parents and grandparents of a girl whom he desired to have as a wife would be influenced in his favour by his skill. But even in this case, the arrangements would be made by the brothers, and the young man would have to find a sister to exchange for his wife.

Cases were known where a man compelled the kindred of a girl to give her to him as a wife, by obtaining some of her hair and threatening to burn it, this phrase indicating one of the Wotjobaluk practices of evil magic. In such a case her kindred would either have to give her to him, as sometimes happened, or run the risk of her being done to death by means of Guliwil, or they would have to prevail on him to give up the hair. If, however, he persisted in the attempt, and the girl became ill, or died, he suffered the consequences of having killed her by magic.

A curious practice connected with this obtained in the most eastern branch of the Jupagalk tribe which at the Avon River adjoined the Jajaurung. When it had been agreed that a boy and a girl should be promised to each other, the boy went to the girl, and with a mussel-shell cut some of her hair off, which he gave to his mother to take care of for him. If the girl refused to become his wife, or if she ran off with some man, then her promised husband took this hair, and rubbing some fat from a black snake on it, tied it up with a Guliwil and set it up before his fire when no one was about. After a time he would hear the girl's voice in a complaining tone proceeding from the hair. He then put it up in the bark covering of his camp, and watched it at night till he could see the Gulkan-gulkan (ghost, spirit) of the girl sneaking near, trying to get the parcel with her hair.

The Wotjobaluk marriage ceremony was simply that the bridegroom's father, father's brothers, brothers, and male paternal cousins all went together to the bridegroom's camp. With them went the bride's father holding her by the arm. At about ten paces from the camp they sat down, and her father's sister said to her after this manner, "That is your Manitch (husband), he will give you food, you must stop with him." They then went away leaving the girl there. On the following day the girl's friends gave a dancing corrobboree, at which the bride's relatives were present as spectators.

No one had access to the bride in this tribe, as was the case in some others; and only in the case of misconduct of a wife did she become common to others.

In the Mukjarawaint tribe the marriage ceremony differed in detail from that of the Wotjobaluk. The bride's paternal grandfather, father, or brother who had given her away, or had the disposal of her, took her in the evening to her husband's camp and left her there, where she was supposed to lie on the ground outside all night. On the following evening there was a corrobboree, as in other branches of the Wotjo nation, and the bridegroom danced at this, and exhibited his skill in other performances, while the bride's friends looked on.

Among the Wotjobaluk it was not usual for men to have more than one wife, and they were very strict in requiring fidelity from her, and did not lend a wife to a friend or to a visitor from a distance. If a married woman misconducted herself, she was most commonly killed, together with the "co-respondent," if he could be found.

It was not uncommon that a girl who had, as an infant, been promised in marriage, liked some other man better, and in consequence eloped with him. In all the branches of the Wotjo nation the procedure was much the same, and the following instance of what occurred in the Mukjarawaint tribe will serve for all. A White-cockatoo man eloped with a Black-cockatoo girl, who was promised to another man. Before starting, he gave notice of his intention to the young men of his totem who were at the place. This was for two reasons: first, because of the right of access which they had in accordance with custom in this tribe to the bride; and second, because if they had remained behind, the girl's kindred would have attacked them as being participators in the elopement. In cases of elopement all the girl's male kindred, both paternal and maternal, followed the couple, and if they found them, brought them back with them. The man had then to stand out and fight her male kindred, being armed with a shield and spear-thrower, the former to stop spears thrown at him, and the latter to turn them aside. It was the girl's father and brothers who first threw their spears at him, and subsequently the other men did likewise. If skilful, he probably remained uninjured. The girl when brought back was beaten by her father and brothers, as also by her mother and sisters, against all of whom she defended herself as best she could with a digging stick. After this ordeal, the man was permitted to keep her, but he had to find a sister to give in exchange for her. These facts, occurring, as has been already shown, in so many places, show the wide extension of the ordeal.

Such cases of elopement were between those who might lawfully marry, if the necessary consent had been obtained on both sides. The combat, or rather the ordeal by spears, with the relatives of the woman, and especially with her brothers, was clearly an expiation for the injury done to them in thus depriving them of a valuable asset. But there were other cases in which the parties were in the prohibited degrees of relationship, and therefore on an entirely different footing, the offence being against tribal morality, which with the Wotjobaluk, as in all other tribes with which I am acquainted, is punished with great severity. In such a case there was, in addition to the moral offence, the fact that her brother was deprived of the benefit which he would have derived by her exchange for a wife for himself.

Some instances will show how this class of offences was dealt with by the component tribes of the Wotjo nation. I take a case where a Wotjo man ran off with a woman who stood in the relation of sister, or was of the same Yauerin with him. All the men of both of the class names would pursue him, and if he were caught they would kill and bury him. My Wotjobaluk informants said that this was always done in the old times before white men came; but that they did not do as their western neighbours did, namely, eat him. It was the duty of the woman's father and brothers, in such a case, to kill her. This was confirmed to me by a Mukjarawaint man, who said that if a man took a woman who was of the same Yauerin as himself, the pursuers, if they caught him, killed him, and with the exception of the flesh of the thighs and upper arms, which were roasted and eaten, they chopped the body into small pieces, and left them lying on a log. The flesh was eaten by his totemites, including even his brothers. This he said was also the custom of the Jupagalk.

A Krokitch man from the Tatiara country, being on a visit to the Wotjobaluk, carried off a Krokitch girl from the Wimmera River; but, although pursued, he made his escape to his own country. The pursuers felt it to be a great disgrace to them, not only that one of their women should have so misbehaved, but that they had not been able to overtake and punish the man who had taken her away.

When a man ran off with the wife of another, the husband, accompanied by all the men at the camp, married and single, who were not related to her, pursued the fugitives. If caught, the man would be severely beaten by the pursuers, and the woman either speared, perhaps in the legs, or be given to the men who had followed her to be common to them for a time. It sometimes happened that such a case was made up by the man giving presents to the husband, such as opossum rugs, weapons, and other things as her equivalent.

The following shows how marriage by capture occurred in the Wotjobaluk tribe. A White-cockatoo man, who lived at a place called Ledcort,[49] dreamed that a Black-cockatoo man of Mukpilli[50] had burned some of his hair. This he told to the men of his totem, and it was arranged that an armed party (Yul-yul) should be made to kill that man, and if possible to get that hair back. Spies having preceded the party, his camp was attacked before daylight, and he was killed. His wife was captured, and became the wife of the leader of the party, a White-cockatoo man.

In these tribes a widow plastered her head with clay, or burned gypsum, and renewed it for six or seven months. It was not customary among the Wotjobaluk for a widow to be taken by her deceased husband's brother. They had a feeling against this practice, which was explained to me once by one of the old men, because it was unpleasant to lie in the camp in the place of the deceased brother, and thus to be always reminded of him.

The widow did not remarry for two or three months after the white clay or gypsum had worn off, when her deceased husband's brother might say to her, "I think that it is time that you looked out for a husband." The case of one of my native informants is worth quoting, not only because of the tribal intermarriages of which it is an instance, but also showing the position of some men belonging to the borderland of one tribe, as to the tribes beyond. He was one of the Jajaurung living on their extreme eastern boundary, in the neighbourhood of St. Arnaud. To the west of the river Avon was the eastern division of the Jupagalk tribe, with the class names Krokitch and Kaputch, his class name being Bunjil, or in the Jajaurung language Wrappil, which is eagle-hawk.

His grandfather went to a place in the Jupagalk country, now called Pine Plains, where he obtained a wife, and lived with her tribe most of his time. His son was, however, born in the Jajaurung country, but also claimed the country of his mother. He lived in part of it and obtained his wife from Morton Plains. She was the daughter of a woman of the Leitchi-leitchi tribe from Kulkaine, on the south side of the Murray River, on the opposite side to Euston. This woman was Kilpara, which is the equivalent of Krokitch, from her mother. He speaks the languages of the three tribes in each of which he had relatives. The country which he claims is firstly that of his grandfather and father, namely, Marr in the Jajaurung country, and a place in it called Turpanni, where he was born. He claims the Pine Plains, because his grandfather obtained his wife thence and lived there himself. Also the Morton Plains, because his father obtained his wife there, and the Leitchi-leitchi country of his maternal grandmother.

He is Bunjil from his father and grandfather, Krokitch from his mother, and Kilpara from his maternal grandmother. In him two lines of descent run, one in the male line from his father, the other from his mother, and according to where he was the one or the other was counted.

As I have elsewhere said, the Gournditch-mara border on the one side the Buandik tribes and on the other those described by Mr. Dawson, indeed part of the country claimed by the Gournditch-mara was also claimed by the Kaurn-kopan and Peek-wuurong tribes who belonged to those described by him. With the Gournditch-mara marriage was between Krokitch and Kaputch-jarr, and the child took the class and totem name of its mother, but was of the local division, that is, of that part of the tribe to which its father belonged.

Wives were obtained from distant places as not being so "close in flesh" as those in or near to the same localities. Marriage was by betrothal of children by their respective parents, therefore by exchange of sisters.

It occasionally happened that a young man ran off with a girl without her parents' consent. The father pursued, and if caught he brought her back. In other cases, if the young man belonged to one of the neighbouring tribes, and the fugitives had gone to a distance, no pursuit was made. The girl if brought back received a severe beating by her relatives, and the young man also if they caught him.

A man was not restricted to one wife, but could have as many as he could get.

There was no sexual licence allowed at any time in this tribe, although occasionally a man lent his wife to others, but this was always the occasion of fight between him and the better-thinking of the tribes-people.[51]

The Gournditch-mara belonged to a large group of tribes in south-western Victoria described by Mr. Dawson, from whom I quote some passages to complete this part of the subject.[52]

The laws forbid a man marrying into his mother's tribe, or into an adjoining one, or one that spoke his own dialect. A man is allowed to marry his brother's widow, or his own deceased wife's sister, or a woman of her tribe; but he is not permitted to do so if he divorced or killed his wife. He may not marry his deceased wife's daughter by a former husband.

When a married man dies his brother is bound to marry his widow if she have a family, as it is his duty to protect her and rear his brother's children.

The class names given by Mr. Dawson are evidently derived from a system like that of the Wotjobaluk, or from the Buandik, which is practically the same. The descent runs in the female line, as in them. There are what Mr. Dawson calls five "classes," each of which is a bird excepting one, the carpet-snake (boa snake). Kuurokeetch is evidently Krokitch, and Kartpocrap, the pelican. He says these are looked upon as "sister classes," and no marriage between them is permitted. In the more complete system of the Wotjobaluk Garchuka, the long-billed cockatoo, is one of the principal totems of Krokitch, and therefore could not marry with any of the other Krokitch totems. In the same manner Kappatch is Gamutch, and I take it that Mr. Dawson's "boa snake" is Kirtuuk, and is the Moiwuk, the carpet-snake, of the Wotjobaluk, which is a totem belonging to Wartwut, hot wind, a principal totem of Gamutch, and therefore not able to marry any totem of that class.

This seems to me to be an instance of a peculiar development of the social organisation.

In these tribes, according to Mr. Dawson, wives were to be got from a distance, the rule thus falling in line with that of the Wotjo nation. In addition to the law of the classes, there was one which prohibited a man from marrying into his mother's or grandmother's tribe, or into a tribe that spoke his own dialect. The grandmother here spoken of must be the mother's mother, since descent runs in the female line. One can see in these restrictions the local rules, which I have mentioned in speaking of the Wotjobaluk, carried out so far as to taboo to a man any woman speaking the dialect of his mother's locality.

Mr. Dawson further says that children were betrothed when just able to walk. The proposal was made by the father of the girl, and if the boy's father approved, he gave the girl a present of an opossum rug, showed her attentions, and gave her nice things to eat when he saw her at great meetings. The courtship of those who have not been betrothed is under strict regulations. As no personal communication is allowed between marriageable persons, outside the limits of consanguinity, a mutual friend called a Gnapunda, "matchmaker," is employed to carry messages; but this can only be done with the approval of the parents and kindred of both parties. When a man falls in love with a young woman, he does not always consult her wishes, or procure her consent to marriage, but makes his proposal to the father through her uncle or cousins.[53] If the father approves, he informs the suitor that he may marry his daughter, and to this decision she must submit whether she admires the man or not.

The reader who desires to learn more of the marriage customs of these tribes will find them very fully described in Mr. J. Dawson's book.

To the west of these tribes there were the Buandik, who lived about Mt. Gambler. It is the only one of a group of kindred tribes of which any record has been made.[54]

From the little which I have been able to learn of their marriage rules, I may summarise them by saying that the usual law of the class system obtained between the classes Kumit and Kroki, and that descent was in the female line. As the class system of the Buandik was practically the same as that of the Wotjobaluk, it may be, in the absence of more accurate knowledge, that the customs of marriage as to betrothal were broadly the same as, or at least analogous to, those of that tribe.

One significant fact has been, however, preserved in the account of the Buandik,[55] that a woman after the death of her husband was common for a time to certain of the men, and that the exchange of sisters accompanied marriage.

Tribes with Two Classes and Male Descent

To the east of the Wotjo nation and of the tribes of south-western Victoria there was a group of tribes which had the class names Bunjil and Waang. These were the Kulin.

The usual law of the class obtained, namely, that Bunjil married Waang and Waang married Bunjil, but in these tribes the name passed from the father to the child, and not, as in the more primitive tribes with two classes, from the mother to her children. As in these tribes there was only one totem of Bunjil, Thara, the swamp-hawk, and none of Waang, no question of totem marriage arises. But in addition to the class law referred to, there was a local rule which required marriages to take place between certain reciprocating localities. In the last section I referred to a similar rule of the Jajaurung tribe, in speaking of the relations of men on the border between the Jajaurung and the tribes belonging to the Wotjo nation. The subjoined diagram gives the result of the application of the local rule in the case of my informant Berak, who was a Waang of the Wurunjerri tribe.

Protector Thomas says that "between the five nearest tribes to Melbourne there is a kind of confederacy or relationship. Thus the Yarra, Western Port, Geelong, Goulburn, and Devil's River tribes, though continually quarrelling, nevertheless are in a degree united. A Yarra black must get himself a wife, not out of his own tribe, but either of the other tribes. In like manner a Goulburn man must get his lubra from the Yarra, Devil's River, Western Port, or Geelong tribe. Thus a kind of social compact is formed against any distant tribe who might intrude upon their country, when all united to expel the intruder."[56]

Diagram XXIII

I. m. Bunjil -<- 2. m. Bunjil 8. m. Waang -> 9. m. Waang (elder brother) (elder brother) . f. Waang 4. f. Waang 10. f. Bunjil 11. f. Bunjil . ni, Bunjil 6. m. Bunjil 7. f. Bunjil 12. m. Waang 13. f. Waang 14. m. Waang

This diagram may be compared with that given for the Wotjobaluk. No. 12 is Berak, and 8 is his father, Bebejern. The two elder brothers, Bunjil No. 1, and Waang No. 9, arranged for the mutual exchange in marriage of the children 6 and 13, and 7 and 12 of their respective younger brothers. The man Bebejern, No. 8, and his elder brother, No. 9, were Wurunjerri, living on the Yarra River, and 1 and 2 were of the Ngurai-ilam-baluk, living on the Upper Goulburn River. In making these matrimonial arrangements the brothers of the girl had a voice, and we may perhaps recognise in this a trace of maternal descent, as well as the exercise of their individual interest. It was the father of a girl who disposed of his daughter through and by his elder brother, but before doing so he talked the matter over with his wife. In the example given, it was No. 14, the son of Bebejern's elder brother, who gave away the sister of No. 12, while similarly it was the elder brother, No. 5, of the Ngurai-ilam girl. No. 7, who gave her in exchange. But this actual exchange of the girls took place only by the authority of the respective fathers, when the assembled old men had decided that the girls were old enough to be married. Each girl would then be sent away under the care of her elder brother, who brought back his brother's future wife. It is as well to note that 5 and 6, being the sons of brothers, are also brothers, and that 5, being the son of the elder brother, is also the elder. These marriages were of much importance to the tribes, since in the case mentioned, the men to whom the Ngurai-ilam and Wurunjerri girls were given, became recognised means of communication between the tribes.

It must be noted here that in these tribes marriages not only between the children of two brothers, or of two sisters, but also between those of a brother on one side and
of a sister on the other side, were absolutely prohibited, it being held that they were too near to each other.

If a young man were a good hunter, dancer, or fighting-man, or had some other distinctive qualities, some man of one of the intermarrying local groups might take a fancy to him, and if he were not in the prohibited degrees of relationship, and of the proper class, might fix upon him as the future husband of his daughter, and make his choice known to the kindred and to the tribe. Such arrangements were made especially at the great tribal assemblies, where, as Berak in speaking of them said, "People gave each other presents to make friends."

If a girl, being promised in marriage, ran away with another man, it was her brothers, own and tribal, who followed her, and it was with one or all of them that the abductor had to fight. This took place at some time and locality fixed upon, at which the kindred of both sides were present. The two men were each armed with boomerang, club, and shield.[57] The boomerang having been thrown, they fought with club and shield, and when one of them had been wounded so that blood was drawn, to the satisfaction of the old men, they interfered to stop the fight, saying, as Berak put it, "You have both got blood; it is enough; now make friends." This would be done by each, assuming that both had been wounded, taking some of his own blood and rubbing it over his antagonist. The girl was in such cases severely beaten by her mother and sisters. It was within Berak's recollection that a girl so persistently objected to the man chosen for her husband, that she was finally permitted to remain with the one chosen by herself. But the man in that case had to find a sister to exchange for her.

The actual ceremony of marriage was by the girl's father and some of the old men taking the girl to the camp of her promised husband, and there saying to her, "That is your husband; if you run away from him, you will be punished."

The line of descent runs through males. As it was put to me, "The child comes from the man, and the woman only takes care of it." Berak said in regard to this, "I remember what old Boberi, the brother of Billi-billeri, said at Dandenong, when some of the boys were grumbling and would not mind him. The old man got vexed, and said to his son, 'Listen to me! I am here, and there you stand with my body.'"[58]

In cases of elopement with a girl within the forbidden degrees, the course followed was the same as with the Jajaurung. All the young men hunted for them, and, if found, they would be severely handled, if not killed. In one case, which happened in the Kulin tribe, near Benalla, an old man had a grown-up son, and a girl lived with them who was in the relation of daughter to the old man, and therefore in the relation of sister to his son. The man's friends told him to get the girl married, because it was not right to have her living single in the same camp with his son. He did not do this, and his son took the girl. Then the old man was very angry, and said, "I am ashamed; every one will hear of this; why have you done this thing? I have done with you altogether." Then he speared his son, who died soon after. Berak, in telling me this, added that at that time he was a boy without whiskers. This would make the time about when Melbourne was established.

Women were stolen from one place or another. When this happened, the Headman (Nurungaeta) there sent a messenger to the offender to come and fight. On this the people on both sides met and fought—the men on one side with the men on the other—with boomerangs, spear, and shield; and the women with the women with their digging-sticks. Such thefts of women were between tribes of the Kulin nation. But more serious cases were those in which attacks were made on the Kulin by outside tribes, such as the Berbira[59] from Gippsland.

Such a case was when these blacks came over the Great Dividing Range to where Mansfield now is, and in the night surrounded some of the Yirung-ilam tribe. The Berbira, said my informant, were round them in a double line, and killed a number of men and a number of the children, whose heads were left in a row on a log, and they carried off five women.

I may add that I had heard of this raid from the Kurnai, and was told that it was made in revenge for one made by the Brajerak some time before.

It was not common for a man to have more than one wife, but Berak remembered one who had three, one who had four, and one who had six. In the latter case the man was a noted hunter of game, and men gave him their daughters because he could supply them with much food. It was the duty of a man to care for his wife's father, to give things to him, such as opossum rugs, and to provide him with game, which was under this practice called Ngul-lurp. If the old man was ill, it was the duty of his son-in-law to go and take care of him. If there were a fight in which they took opposite sides, the son-in-law would take care not to do his father-in-law any harm. As in all other tribes, a man could not have any communication with his wife's mother, or her sister; nor could a woman look at or speak to her daughter's husband, nor his brother. If she did so, it was thought that her hair would turn white. In order to prevent such consequences, a woman would, when the son-in-law sent game by his wife to her husband, rub charcoal over her face, especially over her mouth, and she could then safely eat of the game without suffering any harm. A widow went to the brother of her deceased husband; if there were no brother, then her father or her brother disposed of her.

The Bunurong at Anderson's Inlet intermarried with the Jato-wara-wara division of the Brataua clan of the Kurnai, but I have no knowledge how such marriages were arranged. The Bunurong were Bunjil, the Kurnai had no class names, but both had the regulation requiring marriages to be formed only between people of certain localities. Possibly it was on this basis that the inter-tribal marriages were arranged.

As to the tribes along the Murray River, which had the classes Bunjil and Waang, I know that they intermarried with the Kulin tribes, and that their marriage regulations were analogous to those of the Wurunjerri and Thagun-worung, with descent in the male line. The Bangerang, who lived about the junction of the Goulburn and Murray Rivers, are an instance with them. Not only was it forbidden to the children of a brother on the one side, and a sister on the other, to marry, but their descendants, as far as they could be reckoned, were equally debarred. It was held that they were "too near," and only a little removed from "brother and sister."

Tribes with Anomalous Social Organisation and Male Descent.

The Yerkla- mining do not intermarry in a friendly manner with the adjoining tribes; but this does not refer to the western division of the tribe at Eyre's Sandpatch. Girls are promised when quite children, and may be claimed at any time. It is the father who gives his daughter, but he may be overruled by his elder brother, especially if the latter has the support of the principal, that is, the oldest medicine-man of the local group. In such a case a messenger is sent into the bush, carrying five feathers or charred sticks, each with a mark on it made by the Headman, who is the oldest medicine-man. If the girl's father and his brothers are equally divided in opinion, the Headman decides which of the two men proposed shall have the girl. They are told that he who finds the greater number of feathers or sticks, which have been scattered in the bush, is to have her. The man favoured by the Headman always goes in the right direction.

A wife is bound to be faithful to her husband. For the first offence she is branded with a fire-stick. For a second offence she is speared in the leg; for further offences she is killed. But no penalty attaches to the man.

It is very rarely that women are lent, excepting to visitors, but it is occasionally done for a friend who has no wife; but in all cases only to one who is of the proper class name. The most frequent case is when one of the Headmen (medicine-men) requests a loan for some friendly visitor.

When a man dies, his widow goes to his brother.

In cases of elopement, the old men give chase, and when the girl is caught she is severely beaten, and the man who took her away has, if her promised husband wishes it, to fight with him. The number of spears to be thrown is determined by the medicine-men.[60]

In the Narrang-ga tribe of Yorke Peninsula, the restrictions which affect marriage are neither class, totem, nor locality, but relationship. The class and totem names pass from father to child, the totems having, as in some other cases of male descent, become attached to localities instead of being scattered over the tribal country. In tabulating the marriages and descents in this tribe from the data given by the old men, I found that descent is in the male line, and that a man might marry a woman even of his own totem. As in all tribes, sister- marriage was strictly forbidden. This rule of course included the father's brother's daughter and the mother's sister's daughter, but a prohibition also attached to the daughter of the mother's brother and of the father's sister. But while in this they forbade the marriage allowed by the Urabunna, they followed the rule of the Dieri in allowing those in the next succeeding level, that is, those who in the Dieri tribe are Noa, to marry.

It must be remembered that in this tribe there are four classes, or perhaps four primary totems, under which the other totems are arranged. Using the term class for the former, then there was no restriction in their marriages. The following table gives the marriages and descents of the oldest men of the tribe who were living when I obtained this information:—

Name. Class. Married. Children were
King Tom (60 years old) Kari Wiltu Kari
His father Kari Kari Kari
His father's father Kari Wiltu Kari
Corporal Joe (6o years old) Wilthutha Wiltu Wilthutha
His father Wilthutha Kari Wilthutha
Harry Richards (45 years old) Kari Kari Kari
His father Kari Kari Kari
His father's father Kari Kari Kari
Old man (70 years old) Wortu Wortu Wortu

As these notes were made in the year 1887, and the figures bracketed after the names give their probable ages, King Tom must have been born somewhere about the year 1827. Wortu, the oldest man in the tribe, supposed to be about seventy, would have been born about 1817. Thus they belonged to the generation whose early days saw their country settled by the white men, and they grew up under the old laws under which their fathers and grandfathers grew up, and probably died before the white men came and disturbed their customs.

When a man obtained a wife by eloping with a woman who would have been otherwise refused to him because of nearness of kinship, he would be permitted to retain her if the relationship were a distant one, and if they remained away till a child was born. But if the relationship were too near, then she would be taken from him.

According to the old men whose memories went back to the times before Yorke Peninsula was settled, there were then wars between them and the tribes outside their country. In them, men were allowed to keep women whom they captured, because there was no law which restricted a man to any particular class or totem.

When the local totem clans met at some tribal ceremony, brothers exchanged wives for a time, but did not lend them to strangers.

A man is only permitted to communicate with his wife's mother through the former, and a breach of this rule is a cause of quarrelling.[61]

On the opposite side of the Gulf of St. Vincent was the Narrinyeri tribe, or that part of it which extended to Cape Jervis. As before stated, it was composed of local totem clans.[62]

Marriage was not permitted within these clans, but where one was divided into three parts, as the one following Karat-inyeri in the list already given, then these divisions, or perhaps speaking more correctly, these sub-clans, might intermarry just as if they were independent of each other. Thus Pilt-inyeri, Talk-inyeri, and Wulloke might intermarry, always premising that the parties were not too closely related. But, as contrasted with this, where there were two or more totems in a totem clan, marriage was totally forbidden between them, for they only formed parts of the same totem clan. This is another instance of the attachment of the totem to the locality, under the action of male descent, and of the transfer of the prohibition of marriage within the totem to the totem clan, that is, to the locality.

A girl was given in marriage, usually at an early age, sometimes by her father, but generally by her brother, and there was always an exchange of a sister, or other female relative, of the man to whom she was promised. A man had the right to exchange his wife for the wife of another man, but the practice was not looked upon favourably by his clan.

Marriage by elopement occurred, but the woman was looked on with disfavour, because there had been no exchange of a sister for her. In the cases of elopement the young man might call in the aid of his comrades, who then had the right of access to the girl, and his male relatives would only defend him from the girl's kindred on the condition of access to her. In regard to this, I may point out here that the initiated youth, during the time he was narumbe, had complete licence as to the younger women, and could even approach those of his own class and totem. This shows a survival of older customs, and at the same time marks the distinction between the mere inter-sexual intercourse and the proprietary right of marriage.

I was told that the Narrinyeri clans did not take captive the women of other clans with which they were at war, it not being according to their ideas of what was fair; but if they met with a few women of the hostile clan, they treated them as common to themselves for a time, and then let them go. This statement seemed to me to be doubtful, and I requested my correspondent, the late Mr. F. W. Taplin, to make further inquiry, which he did, with the result that the old men and old women maintained that it was so.

A great stretch of country intervenes along the coast of Southern Australia between the Narrinyeri and the next tribes which come within this section. These are the Murring tribes on the south coast of New South Wales.

These tribes had only traces of a class organisation. Totem names were inherited by children from their fathers, and they still regulated marriage, in so far that a person could not marry one of the same totem name as himself. Yet the Murring distinctly said that these names were not like the personal names which each individual had, but were more like a Joia, that is, like something appertaining to magic. In addition to the above-mentioned restriction, the prohibition of marriage between persons of the same locality exists here as in the tribes of Western Victoria, the Kurnai of Gippsland, and other tribes which I have mentioned. Particulars of these local regulations are given later on as to the latter, to which the reader is referred.

A girl was frequently promised when still a little child, and her future husband claimed her when she was grown up, a sister being exchanged for the woman he received as a wife. Marriage was permitted between the father's sister's child and the mother's brother's child, so that we find here a trace of the older Urabunna rule still remaining among the later changes accompanying paternal descent. But in the case of the Yuin tribes this was only if they belonged to intermarrying localities.

As an illustration of their marriage rules I quote the principles laid down for his son's guidance by an old Braidwood man. "No one should marry so as to mix the same blood, but he must take a woman of a different name (Mura, totem) than his own; and besides this, he must go for a wife to a place as far as possible from his own place." This man, being of Braidwood, went to Moruya, and he had to give a sister to the brother of his wife. The old men, when at the initiation ceremonies, told me that the rule was that the "waddy-men," that is, those who get their living by climbing trees for game, must go down to the sea-coast and obtain wives from the people who get their living by fishing. Thus these people, by their reciprocating local divisions, and the rules relating to them, supply each other with wives. The limits of the district within which wives were thus obtained by exchange of sisters is indicated by the round which the boy's tooth, which is knocked out at the initiation ceremonies, is carried, the tooth being passed on from one Headman to another. In the old times the limits were—Bem Lake, Delegate, Tumut, Braidwood, and so on to Shoalhaven, and thence following the sea-coast to Bem Lake. This Bem Lake, however, was within the country of the Krauatungalung Kurnai, and its inclusion shows that intermarriage took place between the latter and the Yuin. That this was so is also shown by what I heard some of the Yuin say of the mother of one of them. When she was just marriageable, say about twelve or thirteen years of age, she was brought by the Krauatun-Kurnai to Twofold Bay as a wife for one of the Yuin of that place. She ran away from that place with the father of the man first mentioned, and they escaped by getting on board of a whaler which was on the point of sailing. At that time it was customary for the Twofold Bay Yuin to go as harpooners, or, as they put it, to go "spearing whales." The men, in telling me of this occurrence, were unanimous in saying that, in those times, if a man disregarded the above rules as to marriage, he would be killed.

I have heard it said by the Yuin that the child belongs to the father, because his wife merely takes care of his children for him, and that therefore he can do what he likes with his daughter. Marriages were solely arranged by the father, by promising his daughter as an infant, or in a manner of which the following will serve as a good instance. At the termination of the initiation ceremonies, at which the whole intermarrying community was present, a meeting was held near the camp at which things were bartered. At this assemblage of the initiated men, amongst other things, marriages were discussed. A man whose son had been admitted to the status of manhood, and who would be in due time permitted to take a wife, would announce that he wanted a wife for his son. As every one knew the relationship of the man and his son towards others, and as the matter had almost certainly been discussed in the camp by those interested, some other man would say, "I will give my daughter." This also implied that the father of the boy would on his part give a daughter, own or tribal, to the brother, own or tribal, of the girl. The two being thus promised to each other, the girl is looked upon as the future wife of the boy; and when he has completed his period of probation after initiation, the marriage may be permitted. The Gommera (medicine-man, Headman) and the boy's father having consented, the latter would say to his son, "Here is your sister; take her, and go and get your wife." Thus the actual exchange of sisters is made by the two young men. Occasionally the girl rebelled, and having a fondness for some other man, eloped with him. If they could escape and remain away until a child was born, nothing would be done to them, especially if the man could find a sister to exchange for her. These cases are said to have been common among the Yuin, but not so frequent as marriage by the exchange of sisters. On such an elopement a man would start well armed for fear of consequences.

The following occurrence was discussed by some of the Yuin old men in my presence. A Kangaroo man ran off with a Brown-snake girl who had been promised to another man. So soon as it was discovered, all the men there—Kangaroo, Brown-snake, and other totems—followed them. The runaways were caught, and the girl's father and brothers, and her mother's brother, fought with him, and the girl was beaten by her kindred. Subsequently her mother and sisters attacked her with their digging-sticks, against whom she defended herself as well as she could, until she was knocked down.

Such a fight takes place sometimes on the return of the eloping couple to the camp. The offender is armed with a shield and club, and the aggrieved kindred with shield, club, and boomerang. They fight man to man, and man after man, until the offender has been knocked down four times, or he has knocked down all his antagonists, one after the other. In either case he is free from further feud; but probably he would not be allowed to retain the girl unless he had been so fortunate or so skilful as to have knocked down all her men. Even then, he would have to find a sister to exchange. The girl, when caught, became for the time common to all the men who pursued her, that is, who might have lawfully become her husband. If in such a case a man who was too nearly related to her, or who was of some locality with which those of hers did not intermarry, or who was of the same totem name, attempted to exercise this right, then he would be compelled to fight with all her male relatives at the same time. One of the old Murring, in speaking of these matters in the old days, said, "If a man were to run away with a woman who was one of his sisters, all the men would pursue him, and if he were caught, and did not give her up at once, all his own relatives would be against him. If he still refused to give her up, the Gommera of his place would probably say to his men, "This man has done very wrong, you must kill him," and

1 Weet-weet of tribes of Victoria.
The Wona of the Dieri tribe.

2. Kujerung or Kallak of the Kurnai tribe.

3. Tundiwung of the Kurnai tribe.

4. Laiangel of tribes of Western Victoria.

5. Kujerung of the Kurnai tribe.

6. Kunnin of the Kurnai tribe.

7. Kandri of the Dieri trilje.

8. Woman's digging-stick, Victoria.

if the offender were present, some one would probably drive a spear into him. His relatives would not interfere, lest they might have the same done to them.

Many of the old men among the Yuin, especially the principal Gommeras, had more than one wife, and there was one man who had ten, but not at the same time. He was in the habit of giving a wife to some poor fellow who had not any, and thus securing his adherence, and at the same time reducing the number he had to hunt for.

Men did not lend their wives to their brothers, but when a man's Kuben, that is, wife's brother, came on a visit, being unmarried, or had not brought his wife with him, his Kuben found him a temporary wife by borrowing one from a friend. I remember a somewhat analogous case in the Kurnai tribe. Bunbra, whom I have mentioned elsewhere, had two wives, and when a friend of his was about to make a long journey in the mountains by himself, Bunbra lent him the least useful of his wives, saying, "Poor fellow, he is a widower, and has a long way to go, and will feel very lonely."

A widow went to her husband's brother if he had one. If not, her male kindred gave her to some man chosen by them.

The universal rule which forbade a man to hold any communication with his wife's mother was very strict in these tribes. He might not look at her, nor even in her direction. If his shadow happened to fall on her, he would have to leave his wife, who would return to her parents. A case happened at Jervis Bay which I heard of, where a man in a drunken state accidentally ran up against his mother-in-law, and the Gommera made him leave his wife. This law is one of those told to the novices at the initiation ceremonies, and strongly impressed on them.

On the Hunter there were tribes which have been made known to me under the names Geawe-gal, Gringai, etc., whose boundaries are given in Chapter II. Most of the Gringai were named Kumbo, but there were some Ipai, Kubbi, and Murri among them. It has not been possible for me to obtain sufficient information to tabulate their class system under the sub-class rules, but there are certain facts which are suggestive. One family of Kubbi took their name from their father, and not from their mother. Another family consisted of an Ipai married to a Kubbitha. In another case Kubbi was married to Kubbitha, and again in another Kubbi married Kubbitha, and their child was Kumbo.[63]

Two explanations may be suggested at least. These marriages and descents may indicate a complete breaking down of the old Kamilaroi organisation in a manner similar to that which I have noticed, for instance, in the Yuin. Or it may be the result of the breaking up of the tribe under our civilisation. The only point which seems to me to be worth much consideration is that the child's name was that of the father, or of a sub-class which, together with his, represented his class. There were also totems in these tribes, for instance, Black-snake, Black-crow, Eagle-hawk, and Stingaree.

Marriages were arranged by the parents and kindred, and a wife was chosen from a neighbouring tribe; for instance, a man living at Gresford obtained a wife from the Hunter River. The woman about to be married makes a camp and a fire to which the man is led by his father or any other old man; after they have camped together, the ceremony is complete. Capture of women from other tribes and marriages by elopement were common.

A man is not permitted to speak to his wife's mother, but can do so through a third party. In former days it was death to speak to her, but now a man doing so is only severely reprimanded and has to leave the camp for a certain time—that is, to camp away from the main camp, say one hundred yards or so.[64]

It may be worth while, in the absence of more definite information as to these tribes, to quote from the work of R. Dawson, dating from the year 1830. In the Port Stephens tribe they generally took their wives from other tribes if they could find opportunities to steal them. The consent of the female was never made a question in the transaction. When the tribes appeared to be in a state of peace with each other, friendly visits were exchanged, at which times the unmarried females were carried off by either party. The friends of the girl never interfered, and in the event of her making any resistance, which was frequently the case, her abductor silenced it by a severe blow on the head with his club while carrying her off. He kept her at a distance till her friends were all gone, and then returned with her to his tribe. But if the girl had no objection to her suitor, or had no one else in her eye that she liked better, she agreed to become his gin, thus rendering abduction unnecessary. The husband and wife were, in general, remarkably constant to each other, and it rarely happened that they separated after having considered themselves man and wife. When an elopement or the stealing of another man's gin took place, it created a great and apparently lasting uneasiness in the husband.[65]

According to Collins, wives "are always selected from the women of a different tribe, with whom they are at enmity. Secrecy is necessarily observed, and the poor wretch is stolen upon in the absence of her protectors. . . . The women thus ravished become their wives, are incorporated into the tribes to which their husbands belong, and but seldom quit them for others."[66]

I have with some hesitation placed these tribes on the Hunter River and at Port Stephens in this section of the chapter. Mr. Dawson's account of the abduction of women during friendly visits between the tribes appears to me to be an outsider's view of what I take to be a case analogous to that spoken of by Mr. Aldridge as occurring at the Dora ceremonies of the Maryborough (Queensland) tribes.

The Kombaingheri tribe of the Bellinger River had four sub-classes, each with a distinct female name, the rules of marriage and descent being those shown in the following table:[67]

Male. Marries. Children are.
Kurbo Wirikin Wiro and Wongan
Wombo Kuran Maro and Kurgan
Maro Wongan Wombo and Wirikin
Wiro Kurgan Kurbo and Kuran

In the absence of further information either as to the two classes or the totems, it is not possible to say how these four sub-classes are placed in pairs, representing the two moieties of the tribe; or, without knowing, for instance, which pair played in some game against the other pair, or camped apart from it, or aided it in some tribal combat. Without such knowledge it cannot be said whether descent is in the male or the female line. Either can be produced by the arrangement of the four sub-classes in two pairs.

Tribes without Class Systems

The Kurnai had no class divisions. And although there are survivals of totems in this tribe, they do not affect marriage. Under the influence of paternal descent these animal names are segregated into localities somewhat in the manner that the class names of the Wurunjerri and Bunurong tribes were.

This is easily seen when one considers that a man brought his wife into his own district, excepting in the occasionally occurring cases among the Kurnai where a man joined the clan of his wife and lived in her district.

But in taking her to his own district she did not transmit her name to her children, but he did. and as this would be done generation after generation under paternal descent, the thundung names (totems) became fixed in definite localities.

As, moreover, a man could not marry a woman belonging to his own district, he necessarily married some woman whose thundung name differed from his, thus still following unconsciously the exogamous rule.

There was no betrothal in this tribe, nor was there an exchange of sisters by those men who married, except in such rare cases as to prove the rule. Therefore there was no social organisation in this tribe in the sense in which I use the term.

Looked at from the standpoint of marriage, the organisation of the Kurnai on a geographical basis, in local groups, contrasts strongly with the Dieri organisations in class divisions. A Dieri by birth becomes one of a group of the same class, and is of the same local group as his father. One of the Kurnai belongs only by birth to that group of people of the local organisation to which his father and father's father belonged. As there is no class organisation, he cannot, to use a Dieri term, be Noa to any group of women of the other class; but, what amounts to much the same in principle, he belongs to a local group which marries only with certain other local groups, and to which, to apply the Dieri term, he is Noa. As he obtains a wife from one of those groups, so does his sister go as a wife to some man of one or other of them. In this diagram the two inter-marrying local groups are designated A and B.

Diagram XIII
Group A Group B
1. m. A 5. m. B
2. f B 6. f. A
3. m. A brother and sister 7. f. B
4. m. A brother and sister 8. f. B

1 and 6 are brother and sister, own or tribal; so are 5 and 2. Although 2 is the Mummung of 7, who is her Benduk, and 5 is the Barbtuk of 3, yet 3 and 7 are brother and sister, 3 being the Lit, or child, of 5. The same is the case as to the two lower levels, the fraternal relation counting between those in each level.

In consequence of this restricted system of relationship the whole community was, so to say, enclosed in a net, the meshes of which were so small that very few could escape. That such cases were very rare can be understood when one considers the effect of this system of relationship, the restriction of marriage to certain localities, and that the old people, especially the old women, carefully kept in memory all the marriages, descents, and resultant relationships, which were specially considered at such times as the Jeraeil ceremonies.

The intermarrying localities are shown in the following table, so far as I have been able to ascertain the rules of marriage between them. The table shows that marriage was forbidden in the division, but not always in the clan or tribe, as for instance between the Brabralung divisions f, g, or in a more limited manner between the Tatungalung divisions s, t, and the Brataualung divisions p, q. It was also a general rule that those living on the course of the same river were considered to be too nearly related to each other to marry, but there was an exception in the divisions f and g, which adjoined each other. An inspection shows that the rule was that the divisions mutually obtained wives from each other, where the right of intermarriage existed. Yet to this general rule I have found an exception. Gliunkong, the survivor of the Bunjil-baul, who lived on Haul, now called Raymond Island, in Lake King, Gippsland, said to me that they did not travel far from the Lakes for wives, but that men from distant places had to come to Baul for theirs. Although this list is incomplete, I feel no doubt that in all cases where it shows that wives were obtained from a certain locality, or that wives were supplied to it, there was reciprocity between them. That this reciprocity is not always shown in the list merely proves, what I am quite aware of, that my information is incomplete, by reason of some of the divisions of the tribe having died out.

Clans. Divisions. Wives from Wives to.
Krauatungalung (a) Beri-Sydenham Inlet b, c, d Yuin tribe
(b) Dura-Orbost, about twelve miles up the Snowy River from the sea c, a, t c, a, t
(c) Wurnunggatti — Lake Tyers e, f, k e, f, k
(d) Brt-britta—Jimmy's Point, now called Kalimna e, t e, t
Brabralung (e) Bruthen, on the Tambo River b, c, d, k b, c, f, g
(f) Waiung—Bairnsdale c, e, g, t c, e, g
(g) Wuk-Wuk—Lindenow f f
(h) Munji—north shore of Lake Victoria ? ?
(i) Dairgo—Dargo River ? ?
Brayakaulung (k) Kutbuntaura—Bushy Park d, i, e, h, l d, i, l
(l) Bunjil-nullung—country between the Avon and Providence Ponds k k
(m) Bunjil-daan—the country between the Avon, Macalister, and Thompson Rivers c, o c, o
(n) Bunjil-Kraura—all the country of the clan west of (m) i, o, q i, o, q
Brataualung (o) Kut-wut—the Agnes River[68] m m
(p) Yau-ung—Warrigal Creek n n
(q) Drelin—Merriman's Creek i, p, t p
Tatungalung (r) Yun-thur—adjoining and east of (q) m m
(s) Ngarawut—the south side of Lake Victoria l, m, q, t l, m, t
(t) Binna-jerra, Baul-Baul d, e, f, g d, g

The Kurnai man, with the rare exceptions mentioned, could acquire a wife in one way only, namely, by running off with her secretly and with her own consent. Marriage, therefore, was by elopement, and this was brought about in different ways. A young man who was so fortunate as to have an unmarried sister, and who also had a friend similarly provided, might arrange with him that they should take each other's sisters, these being of course consenting parties, for under the peculiar conditions of this tribe the choice of a husband rested altogether with the woman. Or a man might send a message to a girl he fancied, or a girl might even send a message to a young man, such as, "Will you find me some food?"

A young man who had been initiated at the Jeraeil, and had served a certain probation, was qualified thereby to take a wife. He would go on a visit to his relatives in that locality from which his mother had come, or to one of the other localities with which his own had marriage relations; and seeing some girl that he fancied, and the feeling being reciprocated, the two would elope. Of the numerous ways in which marriage by elopement was brought about, there are two which are worthy of special notice. If it happened that there were marriageable girls, but that the marriageable young men did not take the initiative, the women set it going by killing a Yiirung (emu-wren), that is, one of the "men's brothers," and casually letting the men see it. Then the men became very angry because one of their brothers had been killed. The young men who might be suitors got sticks, the girls took their digging-sticks, and a fight commenced between them, at which many blows were struck, heads were broken, and blood flowed. Even the married men and women joined in the fight. The following day the young men killed a Djiitgun (superb warbler), that is, a "woman's sister," and in consequence caused another fight, perhaps worse than the former. After a time, the wounds and bruises having healed, one of the eligible young men and one of the girls meeting, and being inclined towards each other, he looking at her would say "Djiitgun?" to which, if she responded to the understood meaning of the term so used, she would reply "Yiirung; what does the Yiirung eat?" He in reply says, "He eats so and so," mentioning kangaroo, opossum, or some other game. This constitutes an offer and its acceptance, and the couple then on a favourable occasion elope.

The second instance to be given is that of the Bunjil-yenjin, a medicine-man, whose specialty was the arrangement of marriages by elopement spells. Bunjil is a praenomen applied to men who have some special qualification; in this case the marriage spells were called Yenjin, as Gunyeru is the term for those songs which accompany dancing, usually called by us corrobborees. Probably the office of Bunjil-yenjin has been vacant since, if not before, 1855. Before that time there was at least one in each division of the tribe. Some men were more celebrated than others, and of them Bunjil-gworan, before mentioned, had a great name. The following account is derived from the statements of the Kurnai, and from those of old residents of Gippsland, who as boys in the early days were much with the blacks in their camps, and thus conserved and remembered many practices which are now obsolete.[69]

It seems from these statements that almost the last time when the Bunjil-yenjin exercised their office on a large scale was at the holding of a Jeraeil on the south side of Lake Wellington, about the year 1855. At it ten or a dozen young couples ran off under the influence of love and the songs of the Bunjil-yenjin. Some of the people who were there were well known to me, and from them, and especially from a woman who was a girl at that time, and who then ran off with her future husband, I have received very full accounts of what was done.

The substance of those statements is as follows. It was the business of the Bunjil-yenjin to aid the elopement of young couples. For instance, when a young man wanted a wife, and had fixed his mind on some girl, whom he could not obtain from her parents, he must either go without her, persuade her to run off with him, or call in the aid of the Bunjil-yenjin. In the latter case his services were retained by presents of weapons, skin rugs, or other articles. The Bunjil-yenjin then lay down on the ground in or near the encampment; next to him was the young man, and beyond him his comrades. The Bunjil-yenjin then sang his song, and the others all joined in with him.

The following is one of these songs, of which there were very many used on such occasions, and it is said to have been a very powerful one. One of my Kurnai informants, whose wife was one of the girls that eloped at the Jeraeil above mentioned, said in speaking of it, "That Yenjin made the women run in all directions when they heard it."

Bara-burni Wangtir molla tallo-burni
Roll up the twine, Jaw,[70] down there little twine
tallo karagan ngella-galli kemanga gola yinna
little sweetheart I go first the hollow (to) before you.

Another of these songs, also said to be a most powerful charm, is as follows:—

Kaiaki-jirai yendu Yiirung malbretung
Why cut off beard, Yiirung, long ago ?
Djiitgun-djiitgun muna betjurunga
Djiitgun there (at that place) the place where the girl
sleeps in her mother's hut.

Or, freely translated, "Why did the young man cut off his beard long ago? the maiden sleeps in her camp."

This performance—ceremony it might even be called—was well known to all the camp, for there was no concealment, and even if done at a little distance, there was always some female friend to carry the news to the girl, and say, "There is so and so singing a Yenjin about you."

When the Bunjil-yenjin thought his magic was strong enough, he ceased his song. In one case, when one of my informants was present, Bunjil-gworan was the Bunjil-yenjin, and the girl's parents covered themselves as if asleep.[71]

Before the youth could avail himself of the spell, something more had to be done, and probably in the above-mentioned case it preceded the covering up of the parents. Another medicine-man had to use his art to send them to sleep. At the time of the Jeraeil which I mentioned a few pages back, this man was the renowned Bunjil-daua-ngun mentioned later on, and his proceeding was as follows. Being paid by the youth with weapons, opossum rugs, and other things, he stuck his magical spear-thrower into the ground, slanting towards the camp of the parents, and with such an inclination that after a time it fell down. By its side he placed his Bulk, and at a little distance his Yertung,[72] and beside it his Gumbart (nose-peg). He then sang his song, and when the spear-thrower fell down the charm was completed, and the parents were believed to be in a magical sleep. Tulaba, before mentioned, was the youth in this case, and might now run off with his sweet-heart, but only after a formality which shows that the final choice rested with her. Stealing round to the back of her parents' camp, in which she was sitting, he touched her with a long stick, and she being ready to run off, pulled the end as a signal. He then left, and the girl, having her bag (Batung) packed up, in fact, having her trousseau ready, flitted after him.

In the case which I am now describing, the proceedings were not yet over. After a time the old people, according to my informant Mr. Lucas, woke up, and finding their daughter gone, the old man summoned those of his kindred who were at the camp, to assist him in singing a song which should make the young man's legs become so weary that he would not be able to effect his escape. Finally, he took his spear-thrower, and, holding it loosely in his hand, made blows with it towards different points of the horizon. When it made a sound like a crack, it indicated the direction in which the runaways had gone.

On the occasion of the elopement, the man gave notice to his Brogan, that is, those who were initiated at the same Jeraeil as himself. They met him and the girl at some appointed place, and had the right of access to her. This right, having been exercised, is at an end. No sexual licence occurred in this tribe beyond this; except when
FIG. 13.
the Aurora Australis was seen, when they thought it to be Mungan's fire, which might burn them up. The old men then told them to exchange wives for the day, and the Bret (the dried hand of one of their dead kinsfolk) was swung backwards and forwards with cries of "Send it away."

While there were medicine-men who assisted those who wished to elope, there were other medicine-men who aided the pursuing kindred to discover them. Such a one was Bunjil-bataluk,[73] whose familiar was a tame lace-lizard, which is said to have gone in front of him to show where the pursued couple were. If such a couple could escape, and remain away for a long time, their offence against the tribal customs might be overlooked, especially if a child had been born to them while away. But if caught, the girl was severely punished. The women, including her female kindred, beat her with their digging -sticks, her father or brother might spear her through one or both feet, to prevent her running away again, or she might be cut down the back by a blow from a Tundiwung,[74] or be even killed. Her husband would be attacked by the men, and even by the women, other than his own kindred, the men with their weapons, and the women with their digging-sticks, sharpened at the point, to stab him in the stomach if possible. His friends would try to prevent the others from attacking him, and usually a severe fight was the result. He might even have to save himself by flight. Yet after all this the two would go away again on the first opportunity. Finally the affair blew over and they settled down among the married people, who indeed had themselves gone through the same experience.

In cases where they returned after the first anger of the girl's relatives had subsided, the procedure was somewhat different. A good instance was one which occurred among the Tarra blacks, South Gippsland, in the year 1856. The young man concerned was working as a stock-keeper on a station near Tarraville. He ran off with a girl of the Tara-tara division of the Brataualnng clan. As was customary there, they went to Snake Island, and remained there some time. When they returned, there was such a disturbance in the camp that my informant[75] went to see what it was about. The young man was standing naked about sixty yards distant from the camp, holding a shield in his hand. A number of his friends were standing further back. Some women were drumming on rolled-up skin rugs, and the Headman Bunjil-gworan[76] and other men stood facing the young man and his friends. Much speaking went on. Bunjil-gworan made an oration, and an old woman followed him. Then came a speech from another old man and another old woman, and so on alternately for about two hours, after which several men stood out, each having a spear and a boomerang. In succession each threw a spear, and immediately after a boomerang, which were warded off or dodged by the offender. When each had thrown his weapons, the matter ended, and the young man was permitted to retain his wife. This was one of those regulated expiations which I have spoken of.

Snake Island was the place of refuge of the Brataualung, not only in cases of elopement, but also when raids were made on them by the other clans of the Kurnai. It lies off the mouths of the Tarra and the Agnes Rivers.

There can be no doubt that the old people of the Kurnai winked at this practice of marriage by elopement. In by far the greater number of cases they themselves had obtained a wife or husband in this manner, and yet when their daughter married in the same way they were furious at it, and punished her with severity.

The explanation of this extraordinary state of matrimonial affairs is to be found in the deadlock brought about by the widespread system of the Kurnai relationships, the universally held abhorrence of sister marriage,and the practice of exogamy in the local groups only. The prohibition, thus arising out of the prohibited degrees and from locality, rendered it next to impossible for a man to find a woman who was not so related to him that she was forbidden to him as a wife. Where such was the case, and where the consent of the parents and the kindred could not be obtained, recourse was had to the only other alternative, namely, elopement, and the office of the Bunjil-yenjin arose to give sanction to the practice.

This system of elopement continued till as late as 1875, about which time I met two old men in the mountain country between Buchan and the Snowy River in search of the daughter of one of them, who had eloped with a young man from Lake Tyers.

The strength of feeling in the Kurnai tribe against a man speaking to his wife's mother is well shown by an instance which occurred in the Brabralung clan. A man who had become a member of the Church of England was talking to me, as his wife's mother was passing us at a little distance, and I called to her. Suffering at the time from a cold, I could not make her hear, and said to the Brabralung man, "Call Mary! I want to speak to her." He took no notice whatever, but looked vacantly on the ground. I spoke to him again sharply, but still without his replying. I then said, "What do you mean by taking no notice of me?" He then called out to his wife's brother, who was at a little distance: "Tell Mary that Mr. Howitt wants her"; and turning to me, continued reproachfully, "You know very well I could not do that; you know that I cannot speak to that old woman."

A man had always to provide his wife's father, when they were camped together, with a certain share of flesh food, which was called Neborak. I remember that Tulaba on one occasion gave his father-in-law five opossums. Therefore a man with several daughters well married found himself provided for.

I may repeat what I said in the last chapter as to the Chepara, namely, that they had no class divisions or totems, thus, as to the former, resembling the Kurnai. In marriages it was usual for the consent of the parents, the mother's brother, and of the girl, to be obtained, but strictly speaking the last was not essential. It was also necessary for the consent of the man's father and mother to be given. I was told that the consent of the Headman of the local division was necessary, and on further inquiries this was confirmed. A wife was obtained from any clan, even that of the husband.

It was against the tribal custom for a man to have more than two wives at the same time. If he persisted in taking a third, the Headman and the elders on their parts also insisted on his sending her back to her parents; and if he still refused to do so, the strength of public opinion usually compelled him to obey.

At the Bora wives were obtained from the friendly tribes attending it.

Should a man take a girl without the consent of her parents, there would be a great quarrel, ending in a fight between the relations of both parties, in which the women also took part. This being over, the pair were married, and the woman was not punished by spearing or otherwise, as in some tribes.

If a single girl was captured in a raid on one of the clans, or from one of the neighbouring tribes, she was the property of her captor, and there was no common right of access exercised by his companions. Wives were not exchanged under any circumstances, nor were lent to friendly visitors.[77]

A woman is not permitted to see her daughter's husband in camp or elsewhere. When he is present she keeps her head covered with an opossum rug. The camp of the mother-in-law faces in a different direction to that of her son-in-law. A screen of high bushes is erected between both huts, so that no one can see over from either, and conversation between him and his wife is carried on in a tone which her mother cannot overhear. When the mother-in-law goes for firewood, she crouches down as she goes in or out, with her head covered. If the son-in-law should climb a tree to take a hive of native bees, his wife may sit at the butt of the tree, but her mother stays a long way behind with her head covered. When he has got the hive, he goes away, and then she comes up and helps her daughter to cut up the comb and carry it away.[78]

In connection with the remarriage of widows, which has been incidentally referred to in this chapter, special mention may be made of the practice which is probably universal in all the native tribes, by which a widow becomes the wife of a brother, usually the older one, of her deceased husband. The most primitive form is evidently that of the Lake Eyre tribes, where a man's Tippa-malku wife becomes the Pirrauru wife of his brother during his lifetime. This practice is part of the system of group-marriage, traces of which are still discernible in the systems of relationships of tribes whose marriage rules have progressed far from the older practice. In the Kurnai tribe, for instance, a woman is, by their terminology of relationship, the titular Maian, or spouse, of each of the own or tribal brothers of her husband, and after his death becomes the actual Maian of his elder surviving brother. In this instance we can recognise the familiar features of the Dieri Pirrauru marriage.

The late Mr. M'Lennan considered that the Levirate was derived from the practice of polyandry. It seems to me that we may with more reason seek it in the practice of group-marriage, which I venture to forecast will be ultimately accepted as one of the primitive conditions of mankind.

The evidence adduced in this chapter seems to show beyond doubt some of the stages of social change through which the native tribes have passed. This is specially evident when one considers the marriage customs in connection with the development of the class organisation, and the change of descent from the female to the male line.

The social changes are relatively small in degree, and have not been accompanied by much, if any, advance in culture, but they mark collectively a really great advance from the status of group-marriage in the Lake Eyre tribes to more than incipient individual marriage in such tribes as the Kurnai.

Summary of Limitations

It may be well to summarise briefly the limitations which affect marriage in the series of tribes spoken of in this chapter.

There is first of all the segmentation of a whole community into two exogamous intermarrying moieties, thus limiting the choice of a wife to one-half of the women in a tribe. The broad principle of intermarriage between the two exogamous moieties is controlled by a prohibition of marriage between parents and children, brother and sister. Next we find a further limitation by which the choice is again restricted to a certain group of those women; for instance, the Noa group of the Dieri tribe.

While in some tribes, such as the Urabunna, the marriage of the children of a man and those of his sister is permitted, in others, such as the Dieri, it is forbidden on the ground that they are "too near in flesh." In other tribes, for instance, the Bangerang, the children of such persons are also forbidden to marry on the same grounds, and so also are their descendants as far as they can be traced.

In the tribes with four sub-classes, the choice of a wife is restricted to one sub-class, much in the same manner as it is done in the two-class tribes. In eight sub-class tribes this choice is again lessened by the segmentation of the sub-class.

When we turn to the totems, we find that there also this system of limitation obtains, for in some tribes marriage is only permitted between certain totems on either side, and not, as for instance in the Dieri, between any of the totems on one side and any of the totems on the other. This again lessens the number of women otherwise available.

So much, briefly, as to the limitations provided for by the social organisation. But the local organisation in some tribes adds to them by only allowing certain localities to intermarry, and this is especially marked in those tribes where the social organisation has more or less or completely died out, as with the Kurnai.

Such is, shortly, a statement of the position of the marriage rules of different tribes, and the position may be summed up by saying that all these sexual limitations, whether imposed by the social or the local organisation, have the effect, no doubt intended, of preventing marriages of persons who are of "too near flesh." All these complicated and cumulative restrictions were certainly made intentionally to meet a tribal sense of morality.

It may seem to some that there is no inherent reason why, if a child is to take the name of one of its parents, it should be that of its mother rather than its father, and especially where group-marriages are the rule, unless it be that in the latter case the individual mother is a certainty.

However that may have been, there is the significant fact that in Australia female descent is associated with group-marriage, while male descent occurs in tribes in which group-marriage is either merely a vestigiary survival or remains only in evidence in the terminology of relationships.

My own view is that female descent was the earlier, and male descent the later, institution, the latter being one of a series of social changes which have profoundly affected the organisation of Australian tribes.

If one can judge in this question of the past by the present, I should say that the practice of betrothal, which is universal in Australia, must have produced a feeling of individual proprietary right over the woman so promised. When accentuated by the Tippa-malku marriage, it must also tend to undermine the Pirrauru marriage. Indeed I find that, as the practice of group-marriage disappears, so does the practice of individual marriage grow. This is not individual marriage as we know it, but the marriage practice of certain tribes, which was clearly indicated by an old blackfellow, when he said to me, "A woman can only have one husband, but a man can have as many wives as he can get."

Another phase of this feeling is clearly shown by the remark made to me in several cases, that a woman is only a nurse who takes care of a man's children for him.

A step further is when a man gives his totem name to his son, who then has those of both mother and father. This has been done even in the Dieri tribe. Such a practice leads directly to a change in the line of descent.

Whatever cause has led to the change from the female to the male line, the result has been to attach the class and totem names to the paternal locality. In tribes with female descent, a woman living in her husband's local division transmits to her children her class and totem ; and her husband's sister, who is exchanged for her, likewise transmits her class and totem to her children in the new locality. Thus the classes and totems alternate between intermarrying localities with each generation. Under female descent the class and totem names are scattered over the tribal territory. It is so with male descent also, only that they are fixed to localities, while in some cases, such as the Narrang-ga, the Narrinyeri, the Wurunjerri, the Bunurong, and perhaps other tribes, the classes and totems are segregated into separate localities. How this has come about I am not at present able to explain.

While this work has been going through the press, it has been my great privilege to discuss many salient points with Dr. J. G. Frazer. Such discussions are stimulating, and clarify views which otherwise might remain obscure. A case in point is my statement on p. 282, that the segmentation of a whole community into two exogamous intermarrying moieties limits the choice of a wife to one half of the women of the tribe, and that the broad principle of intermarriage between the two exogamous moieties is controlled by a prohibition of marriage between parents and children, brothers and sisters.

Dr. Frazer pointed out to me that the effect of dividing the community into two exogamous intermarrying sections was to prevent the marriage of brothers with sisters, and that the effect of further subdividing the community into four exogamous intermarrying sections was to prevent the marriage of parents with children. This view he briefly indicated in his paper, "The Origin of Totemism" (Fortnightly Review, May 1899, p. 841, note 2). Dr. Frazer also called my attention to the fact that in The Mystic Rose (London, 1902), pp. 469 sqq., Mr. E. Crawley has independently reached nearly the same conclusions, though he has given an undue extension to the exogamous prohibitions which result from the subdivision of the community into four exogamous sections. That Dr. Frazer is right in his view of the effect of the successive segmentation of the community into two and four exogamous sections, will be seen from the following diagrams:—

Diagram XXV
1. m. A
2. f. B
3. f. B     4. f. B
f. A m. A

This gives the marriages and descents in tribes having female descent, which extend over a great part of south-east Australia. It shows the universal practice of exchange of sisters which in those tribes accompanies exogamy. This segmentation prevents the marriage of brother and sister, but not that of parent and child, as for instance 1 and 4, or 2 and 3.

The next step in providing restrictions on marriages which are deemed incestuous, is the resegmentation of the two classes into four. This is shown by the two following diagrams:—

Diagram XXVI
A a




This shows the marriages and descents under the exogamous law of the four sub-classes with female descent, which may be more clearly seen in the following diagram:—

Diagram XXVII
  1. m. A a
  2. f. B d
3. m. B c     6. f. B c
4. f. A b   7. m. A b
5. m. A a 8. f. B d
etc. etc.

The woman 6, who under the exogamous law of the two classes is the potential wife of her father, is now no longer of that group which is marriageable with his, and it is only in his granddaughter (8) that she reappears.

By the next following segmentation into eight exogamous sub-classes, or as Dr. Frazer terms them, sections, a man's potential wife is removed still further.

I venture to suggest as a reasonable conclusion to be drawn from these successive restrictions that the initiative movement may have been brought about by an objection to intermarriage between children of the same mother.

I am pleased to be able, through Dr. Frazer's far-seeing suggestion, to place my views in this amended form.

A belief in the soundness of my view that all these and following restrictions upon what the native tribes regard as incestuous marriages have been the result of intention, is much strengthened by the fact that the same conclusions have been independently formed by Dr. J. G. Frazer, Mr. E. Crawley, and myself

Maternal Descent in the Salic Law

I now draw attention to one of the ancient Teutonic laws which seems to be capable of illumination by Australian custom.

In working out the details of the tribal systems of relationship, and the marriage rules given in this chapter, I was struck with an apparent analogy to one of the laws of the Salian Franks, and therefore also probably to the customs of other Teutonic tribes.

In following this out, I had recourse to the oldest available literature of the Teutonic peoples, namely, the so-called Barbarian Laws, which were, as regards the oldest of them, apparently compiled before the tribes accepted the Christian religion, at which time these laws assumed their Latin versions.

These codes of customary laws are rich storehouses of facts, illustrating the social condition of the Teutonic tribes on the continent of Europe and of those which settled in Britain.

They picture peoples who had passed out of savagery into barbarism, and with descent in the male line strongly marked, although that in the female line was still recognised in certain customs, such as the allocation of the Wergeld by the Salic law, one half going to the sons of the man who was killed, and the other divided between the paternal and maternal kindreds. There is no indication as to the proportion which each received, but some light is thrown upon the matter by the Anglo-Saxon laws. The first instalment of the Wer, namely, the Halsfang, went to the children, the brothers, and the paternal uncles; the remainder was divided between the paternal and the maternal maegs, two-thirds to the former and one -third to the latter. This evidence is the more valuable because the Anglo-Saxons had not been in contact with the romanised provincials, as the Salian Franks, the Burgundians, Visigoths, and others had been, and thus carried to Britain their old tribal customs, which were there reduced to writing. Next in value to the Anglo-Saxon laws are those of the Salian Franks, and it is one enactment in these laws that I have taken for consideration.

There are five recensions of the Salic law extant, of which I have been able to consult two.[79] The passage to which I desire to invite attention is the law entitled De Reippus. This term is explained by the commentators as being the price paid on the remarriage of a widow.

The two versions of this law agree as to the procedure to be followed by a man who desired to marry a widow, but they differ materially in some of the later clauses, and these differences are interesting in their bearing on the question now under discussion. In order to bring this out clearly, I shall state concisely the provision of the law as it stands in the "Lex Salica Reformata," and then the version in the "Pactus Legis Salicae Antiquior."

When a man desired to marry a widow he was required to take certain procedure before the Tunginus or the Centenarius.[80]

This was to be done at a public assembly, and, no objection being raised, three solidi and one denarius were paid to the person entitled to receive them as the "bride-price." Rules are then laid down as to which person is entitled to receive this payment. In the note to this law in the Pactus there is a convenient diagram, of which I avail myself to explain the points which I desire to make. But to adapt it to my purpose I have rearranged the order of the persons referred to, and I have numbered them for convenient reference.

Diagram XXVIII

I. Avunculus 2. Mater 3. Soror viduae viduae iiiatris viduae I I . Frater 5. Vidua 6. Soror 7. Consobrina mariti viduae prions 8. Maritus I prior I . Neptis 11. Filius filius, I senior | . Filius senior

The following is the sequence in which the right to the Reippus runs consecutively:—

1. The nephew (9), being the eldest son of the widow's sister (6).

2. The eldest son (12) of the daughter (10) of the widow's sister (6).

3. The son (11) of the female cousin (7) of the widow on the mother's side.

4. The brother (1) of the widow's mother.

5. The brother (4) of the widow's deceased husband, provided he had not inherited the property of the deceased.

6. Failing these, he who was nearest after the above-named in the given order of relationship, down to the sixth "joint" (grade), if he have not come into the inheritance of the deceased.

7. Failing all these, the Reippus is to go to the King's purse.

It is quite evident that in this matter the female line is preferred, and is followed down to the utmost limit to which the Teutonic tribes counted their relationships. To make this clear, I must explain the manner in which it was done.[81]

The complete generation commenced with the parents, and the method of counting the relations was by using the joints of the body as grades, beginning with the head, at which the parents were placed. The complete enumeration on this basis was as follows:—

Father and mother
First grade (grandchildren)
Second grade
Third grade
Fourth grade
Fifth grade
Sixth grade
The head
The neck
The shoulders
The elbow
The wrist
The knuckle
The middle joint of the middle finger
The first joint of the middle finger
In the next stage there is no joint but a nail, and it was called the naghel-maghe or "nail kindred," because there the kindred ended; sib or "relationship" was contained between the nail and the head. This must be a relic of the very early times, and it is perhaps worth noting as an instance of similarity of practice in tribes in, or emerging from, savagery, that the system of counting by the parts of the human body was also practised by the native tribes of the State of Victoria. Their enumeration commenced at the little finger of the one hand, and went over the head to the little finger on the other hand.

There is no allocation in the Salic law of the bride-price of a woman on her first marriage.[82]

The bride-price evidently was for the purchase of a woman from her kindred, or for compensation to them for her loss. This comes out clearly in the Anglo-Saxon custom, which, in the absence of direct evidence of detail, may be looked at for the general Teutonic practice. The betrothal, which was the essential part of marriage, was arranged by the respective kindreds (maeg) of the bridegroom and the bride; the bride-price was agreed upon, the bridegroom's maeg guaranteed it, and the bride's kindred might also require a guarantee for her good treatment if she were taken into "another thene's land."[83] Indeed, as in other transactions, it was the group which acted for the individual, protected him or her against wrong, or avenged his or her death.

It is quite clear, from the law of the Reippus, that it was the kindred of the widow, on the mother's side, who had a claim to the bride-price; and the same principle may be fairly assumed to have governed the price at her first marriage. It is clearly laid down that the line of maternal descent is to be followed, the one exception being the brother of the deceased husband. As to this, it may not be an unreasonable conjecture that he was included, for the reason that in past times he had a personal claim over the widow. The practice of the Levirate seems to have been common in Teutonic tribes before they came under the control of the Christian Church. The numerous successive enactments which forbid marriage between persons within certain degrees of relation show what the previous practice was, and instances in the writings of Beda, and of Gregory of Tours, show how common marriages of this character were both in Frankish Gaul and in Anglo-Saxon England. Even as late as the time of Henry I. of England, the marriage of a woman with two brothers is referred to in one of his laws as "humbling her to the day of her death."[84]

It is easily understood, however, why the husband's brother is included among those who are entitled to the bride-price, because under maternal descent he always occupies a prominent position. Under this descent the widow, her sister, and the "consobrina" are all on the same level, being sisters; and the nepos, the neptis, and the filius consobrinae are also in the relation of brother and sister. The fact that these persons, from the widow's maternal uncle down to the individual indicated by the last "joint," are all links in a line of maternal descent, most strongly suggests that this law is a vestigiary custom carrying us back to a time when the ancestors of the Franks had not emerged from that level of savagery in which descent through the mother is alone recognised. But this enumeration of successive individuals, to whom the Reippus is due, failing each predecessor, shows a strong departure in the direction of individualisation from the group, which, however, still remains in evidence in many of the laws. Such an instance is the law entitled De Chren-ceuda,[85] which provides a formal procedure by which a man might shift his share of the Wergeld for homicide from his own shoulders on to those of his paternal and maternal groups of kindred.

The second version of the law of Reippus, which I shall now quote, is the same as the one which I have given from the first up to the fourth clause. The fifth to the eleventh differ, and those of the Pactus are as follow. Diagram XXIX. is that given in Eccard's note.[86]

Diagram XXIX

1. Avunculus
2. Mater viduae
3. Soror niatris viduae
4. Frater mariti prioris5. Vidua6. Frater viduae7. Soror viduae
8. Consobrinus
9. Maritus prior
10. Filius11. Nepos viduae12. Nepos senior13. Neptis14. Filius
15. Filius senior
The following is the sequence of individuals:—

1. The eldest son (12) of the widow's sister (7).

2. The eldest son (15) of the widow's sister's daughter (13).

3. The son (14) of the male cousin (8) of the widow on the mother's side.

4. The brother of the widow's mother (1).

5. The brother of the widow's deceased husband (4), provided that he has not succeeded to the property of the deceased.

6. He who is nearest after the above-mentioned, taken consecutively down to the sixth "joint" of kindred, if he have not succeeded to the property of the deceased husband.

7. Failing these, the King's purse.

The difference between this law and that of the other version is the introduction of the male cousin (8) and his son (14) instead of the female cousin and her son. The former certainly belong to the kindred counted through the female line, and this is probably a survival of the old custom.

But the commentators seem not to be satisfied with it,[87] and have introduced further corrections, which are shown in the diagram by the individuals numbered 6, 10, 11, being the widow's son, her brother, and her son. I find it difficult to understand how under female descent the widow's son can be one of the group which would have a claim upon her Reippus. Her brother under the customs of tribes having that form of descent would certainly be of that group. His son would also come in under the arrangement which admitted 14. But there seems to be a further departure from the original principle of a group of kindred bound together by female descent, who claimed a compensation for the loss of one of their members.

Eccard suggests that "parentella" in the third clause of this law implies "familia, cognatio, consanguinitas," but he naturally refers to the Roman customs with which he was well acquainted, while he had no knowledge of the customs of tribes with maternal descent. His suggestion does not seem to fit this case. The cognati were all those who sprung from one person, whether male or female. The consanguinei were those who had a common father, while those who had a common mother only were the uterini. As to the familia, it was that which distinguished certain of the cognati from the above definition, namely, those who had their descent through males and were of the same familia.[88]

That which we have here is a group of kindred, who have the same ancestors from whom they descend in the "generatio matris." On this view the group indicated by the law of the Reippus appears to be the first stage from a time when maternal descent prevailed to that time when, as now, paternal descent was the only one recognised. Between these two periods there would be a time when a child had, to use the Anglo-Saxon term, two maegs, one being the paternal and the other the maternal.

The law of Reippus suggests such a case, for the widow's maeg evidently followed that line.

It seems a far cry from the Teutonic tribes to the native tribes of Australia; nor do I suggest any ethnical connection between them, but I do say that many customs of savagery at the present time are evidently the same in character as those of peoples, now civilised, who practised them within the knowledge of classical writers.

If I am right in my conjecture that the law of the Reippus is a survival from the time when descent was counted in the female line, then there are certain similarities of custom in Australian tribes which may serve as sidelights on the Frankish custom.

I have shown in this chapter how universal the exchange of a sister for a wife is in Australian tribes, and each woman is, so to say, the "bride-price of the other."

In tribes with descent in the female line, such as the Dieri, it is practically the group, consisting of the own mother, and the own and tribal brothers of the mother, and of the daughter, which betroths the girl on either side. A woman by betrothal becomes the specialised Noa (Tippa-malku) of a certain man, but subsequently becomes the Pirrauru, or group-wife, of a number of men who are his own or tribal brothers. This practice of betrothal, which specialises the female Noa, overrides temporarily the right of Pirrauru, or group-marriage, which is the practice of this tribe, and is evidently the more primitive one.

If we now look at Diagram XXVIII. by the light of the Dieri practice, we may be able to see why the sister of the widow and of the widow's mother should be introduced prominently, for under female descent and the classificatory system of relationships, the women 2 and 3 are own or tribal mothers of 5; and 5, 6, and 7, who are so likewise as to 9, 10, and 11, who are consequently in the fraternal relation to each other. The mother's brother (1) is properly included in the group, and the brother of the widow has personal rights over her. Such an association of persons as that under the Law of the Reippus would seem quite natural to an Australian savage living under maternal descent That the male members of such a group should participate in some benefit, to the exclusion of its females, would also seem to him quite proper.

Among the Teutonic tribes a woman was the property of her kindred, who exchanged her for a valuable consideration.[89] In the time of the Salic law it was a money payment, but in earlier times it was doubtless made in kind, as described by Tacitus, in the cases of compensation for homicide. If we imagine a still earlier period when these tribes were in a complete state of savagery, and when there was little or no personal property beyond the rude weapons of the individual, one may safely conjecture that the most probable bride-price would be a woman for a woman. Then we should reach the precise condition of very many, if not the majority, of the Australian tribes.

  1. Spencer and Gillen, op. cit. p. 60.
  2. Otto Siebert.
  3. I use the term "betrothal" merely in the sense that two persons of opposite sexes are promised to each other in marriage.
  4. I use the terms "own or tribal" in the sense in which Spencer and Gillen use the expression "blood or tribal." I have not used "blood or tribal" because it conveys to an English reader an idea which is not what the Dieri would attach to it. I am not satisfied with the terms "own or tribal," but after long consideration I have not found any better.
  5. Otto Siebert.
  6. Nulina, "strangling"; Nulinuthi, "to strangle."
  7. S. Gason.
  8. Otto Siebert.
  9. J. Hogarth.
  10. Malka is Acacia Aneura, anglicised as Mulga.
  11. Spencer and Gillen, op. cit. p. 60.
  12. The Native Tribes of South Australia, 1879. "The Aboriginal Tribes of Port Lincoln." C. W. Schürmann, p. 222.
  13. Gau also means "yes," and Gara or Gaura-eil is "speech" or "language."
  14. Thus, say one man is Taldra-gaura (Kangaroo totem), and another is Kuntara-gaura, they are both Gaura-moli, because both totems are of the same class.
  15. W. O'Donnell.
  16. J. W. Boultbee.
  17. J. Bulmer.
  18. Notes on some Tribes of New South Wales, p. 352. A. L. P. Cameron.
  19. "The Omeo Blacks," Richard Helms. Transactions of the Royal Society of New South Wales, 1895, vol. x.
  20. J. O'Rourke.
  21. P. 51.
  22. Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 57. Fison and Howitt.
  23. Rev. W. Ridley, Journ. Anthrop. Inst. vol. ii. p. 263.
  24. When Mr. Lance communicated the above facts to Dr. Fison, he informed Mr. Ridley, who subsequently verified them when in the interior of New South Wales (Kamilaroi and Kurnai, pp. 46-48). Mr. Lance, it should be noted, was a thoroughly competent and trustworthy informant.
  25. P. 45.
  26. Per Dr. John Frazer.
  27. The word Murri as used here means "aboriginal man" in the Kamilaroi language, but cannot be properly used, as I have observed it to be by some writers, as a general term for an Australian aborigine. There is not any such comprehensive term.
  28. In accordance with the customs of the native tribes, these must be men who might have lawfully married her, and may have been at the same Bora as himself.
  29. Gin means "woman" or "wife." It appears as din in the Port Jackson vocabularies, and has now been carried by white settlers and their black boys to distant parts. I found it once included in a vocabulary sent to me from the Darling River back country. On querying it, my correspondent inquired, and corrected the error by inserting the word belonging to that language.
  30. Cyrus E. Doyle.
  31. A. L. P. Cameron.
  32. A. L. P. Cameron
  33. See also A. L. P, Cameron's "Notes on Some Tribes of New South Wales," Journ. Anthrop. Inst. January 1885, p. 350.
  34. G. W. Rusden.
  35. R. Crowthers.
  36. A. L. P. Cameron.
  37. W. H. Flowers.
  38. This cousin is the mother's brother's son or the father's sister's son.
  39. "Girroonbah," The Queenslander, 28th December 1895.
  40. These knives were formerly made of stone, but in later times iron knives were used, sometimes made of a sheep-shears blade and ground to a sharp edge.
  41. J. H. Kirkham.
  42. R. Christison.
  43. Jocelyn Brooke.
  44. E. Palmer.
  45. Tom Petrie.
  46. Op. cit. p. 71.
  47. Op. cit. p. 72.
  48. The equivalent in the Jupagalk language of Marrup-gurk.
  49. Now called Ledcourt.
  50. A place on the Upper Wimmera now called Mukbilly.
  51. Rev. J. H. Stable.
  52. Op. cit.
  53. This statement of Mr. Dawson's is an instance of the unfortunate practice of using our collective terms, which include two entirely distinct relations, kept separate by the native tribes. Probably the context requires the "uncle" to be the father's brother and the cousin to be his son, thus falling in with the Wotjobaluk rule.
  54. The Buandik tribe, Mrs. J. Smith.
  55. Op. cit. p. 13.
  56. Evidence taken before a Committee of the Legislative Council of Victoria, 1858, p. 68.
  57. This was, of course, the shield used in club-fighting, called malku.
  58. "Indara nganangun, mun ngurlik munnu-numbun, murrumbick koiuil wanthunara murrumbiek."
  59. Berbira, a nickname given by the Kulin to the Gippsland Kurnai.
  60. D. Elphinstone Roe.
  61. T. M . Sutton.
  62. Rev. Geo. Taplin and Mr. F. V. Taplin.
  63. J. W. Boydell, per Dr. J. Fraser.
  64. C. F. Holmes, per Dr. J. Fraser.
  65. R. Dawson, op. cit. p. 154.
  66. Collins, op. cit. p. 362, speaking of the tribes of Port Jackson.
  67. E. Palmer, op. cit. p. 40.
  68. There was another division called Jato-wara-wara of the Brataualung clan, which occupied the country east of Anderson's Inlet, being the neighbours of the Bunurong to the west of it. Here the Kulin and the Kurnai intermarried, but I do not know with which of the other Kurnai divisions the Jato-wara-wara exchanged women as wives.
  69. J. Macalpine and W. Lucas.
  70. Wangur was the name of the girl to whom this yenjin was addressed.
  71. W. Lucas.
  72. A small bone instrument used for extracting splinters from the hands or feet.
  73. Bataluk is the lace-lizard.
  74. This weapon is called in Central and Western Victoria Laiangel, being formed with a sharp point, at almost a right angle with the handle.
  75. W. Lucas.
  76. Gworan is "thunder."
  77. J. Gibson.
  78. J. Gibson.
  79. "Pactus Legis Salicae Antiquior," in Canciani, Barbarorum Leges Antiquae, vol. ii., and the "Lex Salica Reformata" in the same volume. The "Pactus Legis Salicae" is the same version as the "Liber Legis Salicae " of Bignon's edition, and also the earlier one of Lindenbrog.
  80. Canciani, vol. ii. p. 86. Eccard speaks of the Centenarii as "minores judices."
  81. A. Luebben, Der Sachsenspiegel. Oldenburg, 1879. After the "Codex picturatus " of 1336.
  82. Canciani, vol. ii. p. 85, footnote 8, and quoting Eccard, says: "De puellae vero pretio, quod mireris, Lex Salica nihil habet."
  83. Dr. Reinhold Schmid, Die Gesetze der Angelsachsen, p. 390. Leipzig, 1858.
  84. Schmid, Leges Henrici Primi, Consuetudo West-Sexae, cap. 70, 17, p. 471
  85. Pactus Legis Salicae, tit. lxi.; Canciani, vol. ii.
  86. Canciani, vol. ii. p. 88.
  87. Canciani, vol. ii. p. 88, footnote 4, quoting Eccard, who refers to the Codex Guelferbytanus, which I have not been able to consult.
  88. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, William Smith, second edition, 1878, p. 309.
  89. In the earliest laws of the Anglo-Saxons the bride was sold by her father, a later social stage than that recorded by the Law of the Reippus.