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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/699

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681
THE AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES.

lord. He is brutal, and punishes the lightest offense with the lance or hatchet.

Polygamy is universal, but the oldest men of the tribe have the most wives, acquiring them in exchange for their daughters. A number of young men are thus compelled to remain bachelors. When a young man has, after cruel ceremonies and horrible tortures to test his courage, been proclaimed a warrior, he may take a wife. If he is a son of a great warrior, he will have little difficulty in the matter; but, generally, he will have to capture his wife, or buy her from a neighboring tribe, in return for some girl over whom he can exercise a certain degree of control. Since the tribe is only an extension of the family, and all of its members are generally closely related, it is necessary to marry outside of it. Hence three methods of marriage are practiced—free consent, capture, and exchange.

Fig. 2.
PSM V19 D699 Chord with wooden handles for tree climbing.jpg

Mutilations, especially of the first phalanges of the left hand, are practiced among the natives; circumcision, tattooing not regular and complete as in Samoa and New Zealand,—but simply in curved lines—are in frequent use. They paint themselves indifferently with white, yellow, and black streaks; blue was unknown among them till the arrival of the Europeans.

The most numerous and most robust tribes are those which live on