Open main menu

Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/528

This page needs to be proofread.


490 Reviews.

The words sung during the dance were unintelligible at Rox- burgh, less than two hundred miles from the Worgaia. Dr. Roth has reported them from two sets of performers ninety miles apart, and their language and meaning have yet to be identified. Until this is done we cannot determine what tribe invented the dance. Meanwhile, the evidence of the helmets and the inexhaustible fertility of the Central Tribes in cere- monies justify a suspicion that its native place will be found somewhere among them, rather than further to the north.

It is not merely in ceremonies that the Central Tribes are prolific. M. van Gennep himself notes that the theory of reincarnation becomes more and more elaborate in its details according as we go from the circumferent tribes towards those of the centre. How are we to interpret this? Are the elaborate details current in Arunta belief an integral part of the belief, and have they been peeled off onion-wise by the circumferent tribes as they departed more and more from the " primitive " condition of the Arunta? Or have the Arunta elaborated a belief general in the lower culture and not entirely absent even from the highest? It is beyond doubt that the latter is the case. The theory of reincarnation in the form held by the Arunta is closely connected with the sacred objects known as Churinga. These are nothing but a kind of bull-roarer, usually made of stone, though sometimes of wood. " In all of the tribes with which we are acquainted," say Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, " we meet with Churinga or their equivalents, but it is in the central area only that we find them intimately associated with the spirit parts of the different individual members, and carefully treasured up and hidden away from view in the Ertnatulunga or sacred store-houses of the various local totemic groups." It is admitted by these authors that beliefs and practices peculiar to the central area are found at their greatest development among the Arunta, and as we recede from the Arunta these peculiar beliefs and practices connected with the Churinga grow fewer and less important. North-eastward in the Worgaia tribe, they say, " we meet, so far as we have been able to discover, with the last traces of the Churinga — that is, of the Churinga with its meaning and significance as known to us in the true central tribes, as