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BOOK 572.9g4.F54 c. 1 


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Drawn chiefly from the usage of the Australian Aborigines 


Their customs in Peace and War 





AUTHOR OP ''Systems of Consanguinity," "Ancient Society," &c. 

' Imlkiis monstrare recentihus ahilita rpriim." — HOR. 



[All rights reserved.] 















P. 4-}. The following statcmeut, which occurs here, requires correction : — 
"The two sets of gentes are conterminous with the original classes; and, 
descent being through the mother, they alternate between those classes in 
alternate generations. 

Ipai-Kumbu CYuugaru') = Kangaroo-Opossum-Iguana. 
Muri-Kubi ( VVutaru) = Emu-Bandicoot- Blacksnake. 
In the next generation : — 

Ipai-Kumbu = Emu-Bandicoot-Blacksnake. 
Muri-Kubi = Kangaroo-Opossum-Iguana." 
This is incorrect. Ipai-Kumbu always^ Emu-Bandicoot-Blacksnakc 
and Muri-Kubi always = Kangaroo- Opossum-Iguana. The gentes, there- 
fore, do not " alternate between the original classes in alternate genera- 

P. 52, line 2 of Latin quotation from " Eyre's Discoveries,"/'"' ^'pvoeiet" 
read "^praek'^." 

P. 59, line 29, /or " kinship," read "kinsfolk." 

P. 72, line 4, /or " Gurgela-Burbia," read " Wungo-Kuberu." 

P. 121, in the diagram of " Descent through males,"/or "n' " read "m'." 

P. 140, line 10, for " Derbet and (Torgot or Tchoro)," read " Derbet (or 
Tchoro) and Torgot." 


The following memoirs — the first by the Rev, Lorimer Fison, 
and the second by Mr. Alfred W. Howitt, F.G.S. — were 
sent by these gentlemen to the undersigned, and they very 
kindly requested me to add an introduction, and such foot- 
notes as the text might suggest ; but the facts are so 
carefully and plainly presented that nothing seems left for 
me to do, except to call attention to the value of the 
materials contained in these memoirs, and to their bearing 
upon the early history of mankind. 

While collecting materials for my work on " Consan- 
guinity," which forms the seventeenth volume of the 
" Smithsonian Contributions to KJaowledge," it was my good 
fortune to interest, as a co-labourer, Mr. Fison, then resi- 
dent in the Fiji Islands. He became a direct contributor 
to that work, as will be seen by consulting the same, pp. 
573-583. Soon afterwards, he removed to Australia, where 
he entered upon a wider series of investigations into the 
social organization of the Australian tribes, their customs 
in respect to maiTiage and descents, the form of the family, 
and the systems of consanguinity and afiinity pertaining to 
the same. These researches, which extended over a period 
of several years, are in part embodied in the first of the 
memoirs named. It is proper to add that the late Professor 
Joseph Henry was acquainted with Mr. Fison's work, and 



that he addressed him a letter, in which he commended his 
labours, and encouraged him to continue their prosecution. 

Mr. Fison found an efficient fellow-labourer in the Aus- 
tralian field in Mr. A. W. Howitt, whose memoir is also 
attached. Although engaged in arduous official duties, he 
has found time to do excellent ethnological work, as his 
memoir will show. These gentlemen united in a list of 
printed questions touching organization, kinship, and 
consanguinity among the Australian blacks, which they 
distributed widely in the principal settlements of that 
country, inviting correspondence, as well as prompting 
inquiries. They also held personal intercourse with the 
natives as far as possible. From a number of original 
sources, they have accumulated a large body of facts, 
illustrating phases of savage life, and exhibiting the prin- 
cipal institutions, and some of the customs of the Australian 

In this connection I cannot forbear to remark, to the 
lasting credit of these gentlemen, that, while charged with 
weighty professional avocations, they have felt it their 
duty to stretch forth a timely, as well as an active, hand to 
save from oblivion the facts embodied in these memoirs. 

The Australian tribes are melting away before the touch 
of civilization, even more rapidly than the American 
aborigines. In a lower ethnical condition than the latter, 
they have displayed less power of resistance. They now 
represent the condition of mankind in savagery better than 
it is elsewhere represented on the earth — a condition 
now rapidly passing away, through the destructive 
influence of superior races. Moreover, it is a condition 
of society which has not hitherto been thought worthy 
of special scientific investigation, although it is one 
of the stages of progress through which the more advanced 
tribes and nations of mankind have passed in their early 


history, and although some of the more important institu- 
tions of civilized states must be sought, in their rudimentary 
forms, in this very condition of savagery in which they 
originated. In a few years nothing will be known of the 
arts, institutions, manners, customs, and plan of life of 
savage man, except as they are preserved in memoirs like 
the present. 

Part First of the following contribution to Australian 
ethnology is by Mr. Fison, on the origin and development 
of the classificatory system of kinship. It treats of the 
Australian class divisions organized upon the basis of sex, 
together with their laws of marriage and descent, and their 
system of consanguinity and affinity, in a clear, precise, and 
exhaustive manner. I shall limit this notice of Mr. Fison's 
important memoir to the following subjects : — 

I.— The Murdu-Legend. 

II. — The extent of the distribution of the organization 
upon the basis of sex among the Australian 
III. — The organization into gentes or clans, with a rule 

prohibiting intermarriage in the gens. 
IV. — Marriage in the Group. 

y. — The Turanian character of Kamilaroi kinship, 
resulting from the class organization and from 
the prohibition named. 
YI. — Severe penalties for violating the rule in respect 
to marriage — i.e., marrying into a prohibited class. 
VII. — Mr, Fison's explanation of the classical legend 
concerning the trial and acquittal of Orestes by 
the gods, as presented by -^schylus. 

These several topics by no means reach all the important 
questions presented and discussed in this memoir, a careful 
study of which will amply repay the reader. 


I. — The Murdu-Legend. 

Mr. Fison introduces the first chapter with the very 
striking legend named, which recognizes a state of society 
in certain Australian tribes, at some early period in their 
history, in which the consanguine family existed. This 
family, the probable existence of which has been denied by 
a limited number of authors,* has been deduced theoretically 
from the Malayan system of consanguinity and affinity, 
and from the facts of the social condition of the Polynesian 
tribes. It is not claimed that this family exists at the 
present time. That state of society has passed away. This 
legend opens with the following paragraph, which is borne 
out as to its truthfulness by what is now known of Aus- 
tralian society : — 

" After the creation, brothers and sisters, and others of the closest 
kin, intermarried promiscnously, until the evil effects of these alliances 
becoming manifest, a council of the chiefs was assembled to consider 
in what way they might be averted." 

There we have the testimony of an accepted and 
perpetuated native legend, which gives to the con- 
sanguine family a basis of probability. It has more 
weight than mere negative assertions, which are necessarily 
incapable of proof. It is also a plain statement of facts as 
they appeared to the native mind, familiar with their 
present, and, to some extent, with their anterior condition. 
The Australians and Polynesians are alike in the condition 
of savagery, in which state alone the consanguine family 
was possible. Until their social condition and sexual 
relations are more thoroughly investigated, the existence of 
a consanguine family among them, at some early period, is 

* See Address of Mr. C. Staniland Wake before the London Archaeological 
Institute (Journal for November, 1878), which seems to have received the 
entire concurrence of the members of the institute. 


an unavoidable conclusion. It is rendered so far probable by 
existing knowledge that the probability can only be set 
aside by actual facts to the contrary. 

The movement referred to — the- legend goes on to say — 
resulted in the establishment of the Australian class system, 
with such an arrangement in respect to marriage that own 
brothers and sisters were thereafter excluded from the mar- 
riage relation. This legend not only admits consanguine 
marriages as previously real, but also treats the establishment 
of the classes on the basis of sex, with the prohibition 
named, as designed by its authors to avert a recognized 
evil. Evolutionists are slow to ascribe to savages any 
conscious desire for reformatory measures. They concede 
that they try different measures by accident, and that when 
they discover a practical benefit, they adopt the means by 
which the benefit was gained. It is not supposable that 
savages design, consciously, reformatory measures, in the 
strict sense of the term ; but that they are without intelli- 
gence in their action and aims, cannot be truthfully spoken. 
" The thouo-htless brain of a savage " will answer as a 
poetical phrase, but it cannot be accepted as literally true. 
If the brain of the savage had always remained thoughtless, 
mankind throughout the earth would have remained savages 
to the present hour. 

II. — The distribution of the organization on the basis of 
sex among the Australian aborigines. 

This memoir settles the question of the wide prevalence 
of this most archaic orofanization among the Australian 
tribes. It was not the mere fancy of the tribes speaking 
the Hawaiian language, among whom it was first discovered ; 
but it has been found in a large number of tribes scattered 
over immense areas in Australia. The names for the classes 
of males and of females, in some of the tribes, are changed 


dialectically beyond identification, thus showing that these 
classes have existed among them from a very early period. 
The memoir is valuable for this fact alone, and Mr. Fison 
is entitled to the thanks of ethnolo£cists for ascertaining and 
verifying the facts contained in this table. 

III. — The organization into Gentes or Clans, with the 
rule prohibiting marriage in the Gens. 

This remarkable organization on the basis of kin, with 
descent in the female line universal in the early period, and 
in the male line universal in the later — which was retained 
among the Greeks and Romans until civilization was reached, 
when gentile society was superseded by political society, on 
the modern basis of territory and of property — is one of the 
striking facts in the history of the human mind, and of 
human institutions of government. A comparison of the 
several forms of the gentile organization among different 
races, leaves no doubt that it is the same organization 
wherever found, but in different stages of development. 
The Gens of the Greek and Roman peoples, the Gens of the 
Iroquois, the Scottish Clan, the Irish Sept, the Phratria of the 
Athenians, the Thum of the Mayars of India, the Kinships- 
of the Tribes of Siberia and of Africa, and the Divisions of 
Kin in Australia, named after animals, are unquestionably 
the same organization, whatever may be asserted to the 
contrary.* It is shown by the composition of the group, 
by the mutual obligations of its members, by the rules in 
respect to marriage, descent, and inheritance, and of the 
character and tenure of the office of chief, in which there is. 
a substantial concurrence among them all, with narrow 
limits of variation. It shows that the principal races of 
mankind, white, red, yellow, and black, derived this organ- 

* See a review of " Ancient Society," in the Academy of 20tli July, 1S78, 
by E. B. Tylor, where the contrary is maintained. 


ization from their ancestors in a far anterior condition of 
the respective societies which gave it birth, and that the 
organization was transmitted to their several descendants, 
who are now found upon all the continents. We are thus 
enabled to trace, by its uniformity, the operations of the 
human mind, in its upward progress from savagery to 
civilization, far back of the period of recorded history into 
the dim twilight of far-distant periods of time, with the 
means of reconstructing a portion of the institutional history 
of mankind upon evidence of the highest character. 

We may now turn to one of the aspects of the Australian 
class divisions, which I will venture to preface with a 
quotation from " Ancient Society " : — 

"From the preceding statements, the composition of the gentes 
will be understood when placed in their relations to the classes. The 
latter are in pairs of brothers and sisters derived from each other, and 
the gentes themselves, through the classes, are in pairs as follows : — 

Gentes. Male. Female. Male. Female. 

1. Iguana. All are Murri and Mata or Kubbi and Kapota. 

2. Emu. ,, Kumbo ,, Buta ,, Ippai ,, Ippata. 

3. Kangakoo. ,, Murri „ Mata ,, Kubbi ,, Kapota. 

4. Bandicoot, ,, Kumbo ,, Buta ,, Ippai ,, Ippata. 

5. Opossum. ,, Murri ,, Mata ,, Kubbi ,, Kapota. 

6. Blacksnake, ,, Kumbo ,, Buta ,, Ippai ,, Ippata, 

" The connection of children with a particular gens is proved by the 
law of marriage. Thus Iguana-Mata must marry Kumbo ; her children 
are Kubbi and Kapota, and necessarily Iguana in gens, because descent 
is in the female line. Iguana-Kapota must marry Ippai ; her children 
are Murri and Mata, and also Iguana in gens, for the same reason. In 
like manner Emu-Buta must marry Murri ; her children are Ippai and 
Ippata, and of the Emu gens. So Emu-Ippata must marry Kubbi ; 
her children are Kumbo and Buta, and also of the Emu gens. In this 
manner the gens is maintained by keeping in its membership the 
children of all its female members. The same is true in all respects of 
each of the remaining gentes. It will be noticed that each gens is 
made up, theoretically, of the descendants of two supposed female 
ancestors, and contains four of the eight classes. It seems probable 
that originally there were but two male and two female classes, which 
were set opposite to each other in respect to the right of marriage, and 


that the four afterwards subdivided into eight. The classes, as an 
anterior organization, were evidently arranged among the gentes, and 
not formed by the subdivision of the latter. 

''Moreover, since the Iguana, Kangaroo, and Opossum gentes are 
found to be counterparts of each other, in the classes they contain, it 
follows that they are subdivisions of an original gens. Precisely the 
same is true of Emu, Bandicoot, and Blacksnake, in both particulars ; 
thus reducing the six to two original gentes, with the right in each to 
marry into the other, but not into itself. It is confirmed by the fact 
that the members of the first three gentes could not originally inter- 
marry ; neither could the members of the last three. The reason 
which prevented intermarriage in the gens, when the three Avere one, 
would follow the subdivisions because they were of the same descent, 
although under different gentile names. Exactly the same thing is 
found among the Seneca Iroquois."* 

There is an entire concurrence between the views 
presented by Mr. Fison, and those in the above paragraph 
— with, perhaps, a slight difference of opinion as to 
the manner in which the number of classes were 
evolved. If we suppose Iguana and Emu are a pair 
of original gentes, the eight classes are divided between 
them, four in each. Since Mata is the mother of 
Kubbi and Kapota, and Kapota is the mother of Murri 
and Mata, the four classes are in reality but one, with 
a male and female branch. They form one kinship, with 
descent in the female line. It is the same with the Emu 
gens. It would seem, therefore, more proper to say that 
the two original intermarrying classes in the two gentes 
subdivided hy segmentation into eight, independently of 
gens, rather than that each gens subdivided into four 
classes, with the right to intermarry into the four classes of 
the other gens. The two organizations of gens and class 
are independent entities, of which the class is oldest in 
time, and the original unit of the system. The unit of 
organization cannot be subdivided from a greater whole, 

* "Ancient Society," p. 56. 


because it is necessarily an original growth. The same 
argument holds with respect to the four remaining gentes. 
Three of the six are counterparts of each other in the classes 
they contain, and altogether consist of but two inter- 
marrying classes in each pair of gentes. It seems here also 
more proper to say that Kangaroo and Opossum were 
formed by the segmentation of Iguana, and that Bandicoot 
and Blacksnake are segments of Emu ; supposing in both 
cases that Iguana and Emu were the first two gentes formed. 
It may as well have been either of the other two pairs, for 
aught that is known ; but as there are reasons for believing 
that in the beij^inninof of this organization o-entes began in 
pairs, it may be concluded that it was the same among the 

Nothing is stated showing the existence of the phratric 
organization among them. It may never have appeared as 
a definite and higher organization of two or more gentes 
for certain common objects. But from the form of their 
social system, as it appears in Mr. Fison's memoir, the basis 
of two phratries is found in the relation of the gentes to 
each other. Thus Iguana, Kangaroo, and Opossum would 
naturally form one phratry, composed of gentes having the 
same class, all the members of which are of the same 
lineage ; Emu, Bandicoot, and Blacksnake a second phratry — 
they also have identical classes. Although we have here the 
gentile organization in its lowest, and, in some respects, in 
an archaic form, there is a theoretical probability that they 
possessed the phratric organization in its simplest form, 
which time and experience would have developed into a 
positive form. These views of the evolution of the system 
are merely opinions ; and those of Mr. Fison, where any 
degree of opinion exists, are entitled to as much, and, 
perhaps, to greater weight than my own. They are 
submitted with the greatest deference to Mr. Fison's views. 


IV. — Marriage in the Group. 

It is very difficult for the men of our times to understand 
man'iage in the group, which is something new, even in 
ethnology. Marriage among civilized races is so entirely 
different from this, that it is not easy for us to recognize 
marriage in the group as a form of the marriage relation. 
A part of the embarrassment arises from the use of the 
term marriage to express relation of the sexes so peculiar ; 
but with this qualification the use of the term is justified, 
because it is a form of marriage followed by cohabitation. 
Among the Australian savages, as this memoir fully shows, 
groups of ^males are found united to groups of females — not 
by any ceremony of a formal marriage to which the groups 
were parties, but by an organic law, respected by tribal 
usage, recognized over large areas, and followed in actual 
practice by the cohabitation of the parties. A woman is 
found one day living with one man in the marriage relation, 
and on the next day with another man of the same group 
in the same relation, and perhaps several men with several 
women at the same time. In Chapter III., to which attention 
is invited, the subject of marriage and descents is treated. 
Marriage in the group is presented and explained. A group 
of males, distinguished by the same class name, are the 
born husbands of a group of females bearing another class 
name ; and whenever a male of this class meets a female of 
the other class, they recognize each other as husband and 
wife, and their right to live in this relation is recognized by 
the tribe to which they belong. Mr. Fison remarks, upon 
this subject, that " this seems to be the most extensive 
system of communal marriage the world has ever known. 

. . . It is an arranfjement extending across a continent 
(see Table B), which divides very widely-scattered tribes 
into intermarrying classes, and gives a man of one class 
marital rights over women of another class in a tribe a 


thousand miles away, and speaking a language other than 
his own." Near the end of this chapter, while commenting 
upon descent in the female line, which is the general rule 
in Australian tribes, he observes that " when a woman is 
married to a thousand miles of husbands, then it is evident 
that paternity must be, to say the least of it, somewhat 
doubtful." The facts presented in this memoir shed a new 
light upon this singular relation of the sexes low down in 

V. — The Turanian character of Kamilaroi kinship, result- 
ing from the class organization, with the prohibition of 
marriage in the Gens. 

The main difference between the Malayan and the Tura- 
nian systems of consanguinity is in those relationships which 
depend upon the intermarriage or the non-intermarriage of 
own brothers and sisters. As among the Australian tribes, 
divided into male and female classes, such marriages are 
prohibited by an organic law, the Turanian system of con- 
sanguinity would be expected to exist, unless it was 
superseded by a system in principle like the Aryan ; for 
but three systems have as yet been found among the tribes 
and nations of mankind. In chapter IV. Mr. Fison shows, 
among the Australian tribes organized in classes, the pre- 
sence of the Turanian system. His general discussion of 
the subject of consanguinity, in this and the succeeding 
chapter, is deserving of the attention of the reader. It is 
done with thoroughness, and with a profound understanding 
of the elements of a difficult subject. 

VI. — Severe penalties for violating the rule in respect to 
marriage — i.e., for marrying into a prohibited class. 

Marriage in the group is a practice seemingly so singular 
and extraordinary that it would be natural to explain it as 


a custom originating in laxity of morals, and in low views 
of the relations of the sexes among savages. Under such 
usages, no restraints whatever upon the passions of the sexes 
would be expected to exist. But such a hypothesis is met 
by the fact that this usage is vipheld by public sentiment 
and organic law, which condemns and punishes every 
infringement of prohibitions in the relations of the sexes 
which forms a part of a general system. Accordingly, we 
find that any attempt to take a wife from a prohibited class 
in the same tribe, or even from a distant and hostile tribe, 
having a similar class organization, is at once resisted, and 
punished with severity by the tribe itself. A number of 
illustrations are given in Chapter III., of which the following 
is one : — 

" If a warrior took to himself a captive who belonged to a forbidden 
class, he would be hunted down like a wild beast ; and, unless he 
managed to keep out of the way until the hot wrath of the tribe had 
cooled down, he would be killed, and his captive with him. This is a 
strong statement, but it rests on strong evidence. " 

It thus appears that low down in savage society, where 
usages and customs exhibit the lowest possible views of the 
relations of the sexes, restraints exist ; and these restraints 
are upheld and maintained by custom and by public opinion 
with vigour and persistency. It exhibits, dimly, a type of 
that moral sense which binds together the elements of 
civilized society, and refutes the fallacious proposition 
stereotyped in the phrase, " the thoughtless brain of a 
savage." The thoughts of a savage are feeble in degree, 
and limited in range, of which Mr. Howitt's monograph 
furnishes a number of examples; but the principle of intelli- 
gence, though infantile, is ever present and ever active. 

VII. — Mr. Fison's explanation of the classical legend of the 
trial and acquittal of Orestes by the gods, as presented 
by ./Eschylus. 


In an appendix to his memoir, Mr. Fison re-examines 
the celebrated trial of Orestes, who is pursued by the furies 
for the murder of his mother. Sir John Lubbock and others 
have essayed explanations of this case of some ingenuity, 
but that of Mr. Fison seems to be as conclusive as it is 
original and complete.* 

The monograph of the Kiirnai, by Mr. Howitt, is also a 
contribution to ethnology of exceptional value. The 
Kurnai tribe inhabit Gippsland, Victoria, in the south-east 
part of Australia — an area which is separated from the 
remainder of the continent by natural barriers, more or 
less formidable. This insulation was favourable to their 
progress. In the arts of life, they are not specially advanced 
beyond the other Australian tribes ; but in their social 
relations, particularly in their usages in respect to marriage, 
and in the form of the family, they show a marked advance 
beyond other Australian tribes. This memoir is based 
upon a personal knowledge of the usages and customs of 
the Kurnai, gained by direct personal intercourse with the 
remnant of this once large tribe, through a long residence 
in their country. For ascertaining and verifying the facts 
embodied in this memoir, Mr. Howitt possessed peculiar 
facilities. It presents a fresh and vivid picture of abori- 
ginal life, and has the merits of an original and intelligent 
investigation of the usages and customs of savages. 

In speaking of the special subjects treated in this memoir, 
I propose to confine myself to a brief notice of the follow- 
ing :— 

I. — Infanticide. 
II. — Marriage between single pairs by mutual consent, 
followed by elopement. 

* This appendix has now been incorporated with the memoir. — L. F. 


III. — Non-intercourse between son-iu-law and mother- 

IV. — Previous marriage in the Group, and with it a 
punaluan family, and Lack of that a consanguine 
family, among the Kumai, deduced by Mr. Howitt 
as necessary antecedents of their present marriage 
customs, and of their system of consanguinity. 
V. — The Kurnai belief that death is not the natural 
termination of life, but a consequence of accident, 
open violence, or necromancy. 

VI. — Insecurity of life among savages. 

While these topics give an imperfect conception of the 
contents of this memoir, they will serve to illustrate its 
general character. 

I. — Infanticide. 

The subject of infanticide, which has been so often 
exaggerated, is presented by Mr. Howitt in a plain manner, 
with the native reasons alleged. for the practice. The main 
fact is made to appear that it is limited to families over- 
burdened with children, and thus is of very limited 
practice, which is most likely the case. As a general rule, 
wherever infanticide prevails, or has prevailed in the past, 
Mr. Howitt observes — 

" On speaking to a number of the Kurnai upon this subject, they 
gave me the following exijlanation. It is often difficult to carry about 
young children, particularly where there are several. Their wander- 
ing life renders this very difficult. It sometimes happened tliat when 
a child was about to be born, its father would say to his wife, ' We have 
too many children to carry about — best leave this one, when it is 
born, behind in the camp.' On this, the new-born child was left lying 
in the camp, and the family moved elsewhere. The infant, of course, 
soon perished. The Kurnai drew this singular distinction, that they 
never knew an instance of parents killing their children — but, only of 
leaving behind new-born infants. The aboriginal mind does not seem 
to perceive the horrid idea of leaving an unfortunate baby to die 


miserably in a deserted camp, ... It may be that the feelings of 
affection arising from association and dependence have not, in such a 
case, been aroused, and the natural parental feelings seem to be over- 
borne by what they conceive to be the exigencies of their circum- 
stances. " 

In such a case, the term infanticide, which implies an act 
of direct personal violence by the parents, producing death, 
is hardly appropriate. Desertion, or exposure of infants to 
perish, expresses the act more accurately, while it mitigates, 
in some degree, the deep atrocity of the crime. 

II. — Marriage between single pairs by mutual consent, 
followed by elopement. 

Among the Kurnai is found the extraordinary usage that 
marriage by the consent and procurement of parents, so 
universal in barbarous society, is the exception, while 
marriage by consent of the parties to be married, inde- 
pendently of parents, is the rule , followed by elopement to 
escape the violence of parents and kindred . Such a custom 
as that here indicated is unusual in the tribes of mankind, 
whether savage or barbarous, and I am not aware that any- 
thing precisely like it has elsewhere been observed. 

" The young Kurnai," Mr. Howitt remarks, " can, as a rule, acquire 
a wife in one way only. He must run away with her. Native marriage 
may be brought about in various ways. If the young man is so fortu- 
nate as to have an unmarried sister, and to have a friend who also has 
an unmarried sister, they may arrange with the girls to run ofl' 
together ; or he may make his arrangement with some eligible girl 
whom he fancies, and who fancies him ; or a girl, if she fancies a young 
man, may send him a secret message, asking — ' Will you find me some 
food ? ' and this is understood to be a proposal. But in every such case 
it is essential to success that the parents of the bride should be utterly 
ignorant of what is about to take place. It is no use his asking a wife 
excepting under most exceptional circumstances, for he can only 
acquire one in the usual manner, and that by running off with her." 

The father, brothers, and kindred pursue the runaways, 


and, if they find them, they are cruelly treated, and 
punished as for an actual offence. 

"Her father perhaps spears her through the leg, or both feet, 
and her mother and brothers may severely beat her. As for the hus- 
band, when he returns, he has to fight her male relatives. 
At length, the family becoming tired of objecting, the mother may 
say — ' Oh ! it's all right, better let him have her.' " 

The form of the family resulting from these unions is 
called by Mr. Howitt the Pairing Family, which is entirely 
accurate, from what is elsewhere stated of their social 
condition. As this custom must have commenced as an 
accidental practice, it seems singular that it should have 
ripened into a permanent tribal usage. 

III. — Non-intercourse between son-in-law and mother- 

This singular custom, which has been found so widely 
prevalent among the lower races of mankind, is found in an 
equally positive form among the Kiirnai, and seemingly 
with reasons for the practice. Mr. Howitt gives the 
following illustration : — 

" A Brabrolung, who is a member of the Church of England, was 
one day talking to me. His wife's mother was passing at some little 
distance, and I called to her. Suffering at the time from a cold, I 
could not make her hear, and said to the Brabrolung — ' 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 no 
answer. I then said — ' What do you mean by taking no notice of me V 
He thereupon called to his wife's brother, who was at a little distance, 
* Tell Mary Mr. Howitt wants her,' and turning to me, continued, 
reproachfully, ' You know very well I could not do that ; you know I 
cannot speak to that old woman.' " 

It seems not unlikely that the hostile feelings aroused 
against him in the mind of her mother in consequence of his 
elopement with her daughter, which must be supposed real, 
received a continued expression from the mother through 


this refusal of all intercourse with her son-in-law. An 
occasional occurrence at first, ripened in time into a settled 

IV. — Previous mamage in the Group, and with it a 
punaluan family, and back of that a consanguine 
family, among the Ktirnai, deduced by Mr. Howitt 
as necessary antecedents of their present marriage 
customs, and of their system of consanguinity. 

Passing over Mr. Howitt's discussion of the office of elder 
or of chief, of blood feud, and of their organization into 
kinships or clans (Table A), I will next refer to his re- 
marks upon their system of consanguinity, as presented 
in Tables B and C, with his inferences therefrom. Pre- 
mising that the existence of the consanguine family, so 
named, is proved mainly by the Malayan system of con- 
sanguinity and affinity, which gives the relationships that 
would actually exist in such a family, and that the existence 
of the punaluan family, so called, is mainly proved by the 
Turanian system of consanguinity and affinity still prevalent 
in Asia, and by the Ganowanian system still prevalent in 
America, which gives the relationships that would actually 
exist in a punaluan family, Mr. Howitt finds evidence, in 
their present terms of relationship, that the Ktirnai must 
have had both the punaluan and the consanguine families 
at some anterior periods. He remarks that — 

"The inter-relations of this group are, I think, strictly Malayan in 
theory, for they are all regarded as brothers and sisters to each other. 
This is further carried out in their relations towards each other, except 
when they stand in the relation of Miimmung [father's sister] and 
Babiik [mother's brother].* It is highly significant that, in these 
instances, as in others which may be perceived on examining the Table 
B, the secondary relations — if I may so term them — are such as should 

* In order that Dr. Morgan's meaning may not be misunderstood, see the 
group referred to— Nos, 12, 13, 14, 15. 



be indicated logically by the primary terms themselves. It lends 
much strength to the belief that they have arisen at first through 
adaptation of language to existing relationships, and not as mere terms 
of personal address. For comparison I give, in Table C, the principal 
Kumai terms, together with analogous ones used by two far-distant 
tribes. The comparative simplicity of the former will be apparent. 
These terms suggest a family in which a group of brothers had their 
wives in common, or in which a group of sisters had their husbands in 
common, but in which it did not perhaps necessarily follow that the 
brother's children were the husbands and wives of the sister's children. 
[This gives the punaluan family. ] They also, I think, strongly suggest 
a more archaic form of family, in which marriage was consanguine." 

This inference of Mr. Howitt is important. His famili- 
arity with the condition of the Australian tribes gives 
weight to his opinions ; and it seems to the writer that they 
are fully warranted by the native system of consanguinity. 

V. — The Ktirnai belief that death is not the natural 
termination of life, but a consequence of accident, open 
violence, or necromancy. 

Among the curious beliefs of the Australian blacks, two 
may be here repeated. "It is not difficult," says Mr. 
Howitt, " to see how, among savages, who have no know- 
ledge of the real causes of diseases which are the common lot 
of humanity, the very suspicion even of such a thing as death 
from disease should be unknown. Death by accident they can 
imagine — death by violence they can imagine — but I ques- 
tion if they can, in their savage condition, imagine death by 
mere disease. . . . Thus the belief arises that death 
occurs only from accident, open violence, or secret magic ; 
and, naturally, that the latter can only be met by counter- 
charms." And, of a like belief in ghosts, he gives the fol- 
lowing instance of a native mistaking a living European for 
a ghost : — " A BrabrolCing told me that, when he was a little 
boy, near the Tambo river, and he saw a white man for the 
first time, he felt sure that it was a mrart [ghost], and he ran 


away. He said he was sure it was a mrart, because ' it was 
so very pale.' " These, and a number of other beliefs, usages 
and customs presented in these memoirs, give a new insight 
into the life of savages, and show the feebleness of their 
mental powers in comparison with those of civilized men. 
Some realization of this great difference between the savage 
and the civilized man may be gained from this contribu- 
tion to Australian ethnology. It indicates the low place 
from which the human race started on its upward career. 

VI. — Insecurity of life among savages. 

One of the greatest results of civilization is the security 
it gives to individuals and to families except in time of 
actual war ; and now even the approach of war has ceased 
to be sudden. Among barbarians, and especially among 
savages who occupy limited areas, they are constantly 
exposed to sudden and stealthy attack. A family retires to 
rest at night without any assurance they may not be 
attacked before the morning comes, or that the day will pass 
without the sudden appearance of an enemy. It is one of 
the dangers of their condition, as well as obstacles to their 
progress. The Kiirnai are no exception to the rule. " In 
one aspect," Mr. Howitt remarks, " the life of the Ktimai is 
a life of dread. He lives in fear of the visible and the 
invisible. He never knew the moment when the lurking 
Brajerak might not spear him from behind ; and he never 
knew the moment when some secret foe among the Ktimai 
might not succeed in passing over him some spell against 
which he could not struggle, or from which even the most 
potent counter-charm given him by his ancestors could not 
free him." 

The distribution of food among the Kiirnai, discussed at 
the end of the memoir, and the character of the Kiirnai for 
intelligence, also discussed at its close, are interesting and 


suggestive subjects, but the unexpected length of this note 
precludes their consideration. Ethnologists will read this 
contribution to Australian ethnology with pleasure, and 
with a sense of grateful obligation to its authors. It is an 
attempt to fill up some of the great deficiencies in our 
knowledge of the condition of savage tribes, a knowledge 
which necessarily lies at the foundation of an intelligent 
scheme of human history and development. 

I am compelled also to omit any notice of Mr. Fison's 
brief discussion of the theory of the Ktirnai system, which 
forms the third part of these memoirs. It forms a necessary 
and important sequel to Mr. Howitt's monograph. 

Rochester, New York, May, 1879. 

Note. — This introduction was ■vrritten by Dr. Morgan after a penisal 
of the MSS., the con chiding portion of which was sent to him in February, 
1879. Since that time the entire work has been carefully revised, much 
additional matter has been put in, and the arrangement has been con- 
siderably altered. 

The Committee of the Smithsonian Institution did the authors the honour 
of accepting their memoirs, but they had so many works already in hand 
that a very long delay before publication was unavoidable. The authors 
were consequently compelled reluctantly to forego the great advantage of 
having their memoirs issued from the Smithsonian press. 


An Attempt to Trace the Origin and Development op the 

Turanian System of Kinship, as shown in the Class 

Divisions of the Australian Aborigines, with 

their Laws op Marriage and Descent. 




The chief object of this memoir is to trace the formation of 
the exogamous intermarrying divisions which have been 
found among so many savage and barbaric tribes of the 
present day, and to show that what the Hon. Lewis H. 
Morgan calls the Punaluan family, with the Turanian 
system of kinship, logically results from them. The 
Australian classes are especially valuable for this purpose, 
because they give us what seem to be the earliest stages of 

To the gentlemen who were good enough to furnish me 
with information concerning the tribes whose customs are 
within their knowledge, I am under deep obligation. Their 
names will be fomid in connection with such of the facts 
supplied by them as I have had occasion to use. 

My special thanks are due to the courteous editor of the 
Australasian, who published several of my letters of 
inquiry in that ably-conducted journal, and thereby gained 
for me some of my most valued correspondents. Above all, 
it is to the publication of those letters that I owe the help 
of my friend and fellow-worker, Mr, Alfred W. Howitt, 

As it has come in my way to question more than one of 
the views advanced by Sir John Lubbock in his " Origin of 
Civilization," it is only fair to call attention to the fact that 
my remarks are based upon the second edition of that 


work. It would be inexcusable on the part of one who has 
easy access to books to deal solely with so early an issue of 
a work which has passed through several subsequent 
editions. My excuse is, that a mission station in Fiji 
affords no such access, even now that the group forms a 
part of the British empire, and that, until within the last 
two or three years, we were almost entirely excluded from 
the outer world. The second edition of the " Origin of 
Civilization " was the latest issue I could procure when I 
visited Australia in 1871. 

With reference to the spelling of Australian words, I 
have endeavoured to follow a uniform plan, by sounding the 
consonants as in English, and giving the vowels their 
proper sounds. My difficulty here has been to find out 
what sounds our correspondents intended to express, and I 
cannot suppose that I have overcome this difficulty in eveiy 

I have used the word " class " in preference to tribe, sept, 
or clan, because each of these words is apt to have a sort 
of confused meaning to the reader which might tend to 
produce a wrong impression. The Greek "phratria " would 
be the most correct term ; but, for several reasons, " class " 
seemed to be the more convenient for the special purposes 
of this memoir, to designate the primary divisions of a 
community, and their first subdivisions. 

Fiji, August, 1878. 



Mukdu-Legend — M'Lennan's Theory of Kinship Terms — The Three Kinds 
of Class Divisions — Object of the Treatise — Explanatory Remarks. 

In a valuable pamphlet on the Dieyeri (Cooper's Creek) 
tribe of Australian aborigines, Mr. Samuel Gason tells us 
the following legend with regard to the custom called 
Murdu :— 

" After the creation, brothers, sisters, and others of the closest kin, 
intermarried promiscuously, until — the evil effects of these alliances 
becoming manifest — a council of the chiefs was assembled to consider 
in what way they might be averted, the result of their deliberations 
being a petition to the Muramura (Good Spirit), in answer to which he 
ordered that the tribe should be divided into branches, and dis- 
tinguished one from another by different names, after objects animate 
and inanimate, such as dogs, mice, emu, rain, iguana, and so forth ; 
the members of any such branch not to intermarry, but with permission 
for one branch to mingle with another. Thus, the son of a dog might 
not marry the daughter of a dog, but either might form an alliance 
with a mouse, rat, or other family. This custom is still observed, and 
the first question asked of a stranger is, ' What murdoo V — i.e., ' Of 
what family are you?'" (" Gason's Dieyeri Tribe," p. 13. Cox: 
Adelaide, South Australia, 1874) 

There can be no doubt that this is a genuine Australian 
legend. Mr. Gason is well known as a trustworthy person. 
He has an intimate acquaintance with the people of whom 
he writes, and he speaks their language fluently. But, 
whatever may be thought of the legend itself, or of its value 
as evidence with regard to the state of society to which it 


points, it is certain that divisions similar to those which 
it mentions are found throughout the length and breadth of 
the Australian continent, as well as in many other parts 
of the world, and that from these divisions, with their inter- 
sexual arrangements, flows the entire system of kinship 
called the Turanian* by Mr. Lewis H. Morgan, in his work on 
" Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human 
Family," and in his more recent work entitled "Ancient 

Mr. J. F. M'Lennan refuses to accept the terms of kinship 
common to the numerous tribes whose system is the 
Turanian, as expressing either consanguinity or affinity. 
He looks upon them as forming a mere "system of 
addresses," and disposes of Mr. Morgan's theory as to the 
origin of the classificatory system of kinship in the 
following words : — 

" The space I have devoted to the consideration of the solution may- 
seem disproportioned to its importance ; but, issuing from the press 
of the Smithsonian Institution, and its preparation having been aided 
by the United States Government, Mr. Morgan's work has been very 
generally quoted as a work of authority, and it seemed worth while to 
take the trouble necessary to show its utterly unscientific character, "t 

This is certainly a somewhat high-handed manner of 
setting aside as worthless a most painstaking and accurate 

* " Turanian." This term of Mr. Morgan's has been objected to by some 
of his English critics as inappropriate ; but we may as well use it until 
a better be provided. Mr. Morgan is doubtless more concerned to 
establish his facts than to insist upon his nomenclature. It should 
be noted that, strictly speaking, the " Kamilaroi system" is what 
he calls the Ganowanian, as distinguished from the Turanian, The dis- 
tinction between the two is in the line of descent, wliich is through 
females in the former, and through males in the latter. But, as the line of 
descent does not affect personal relationship, it did not seem worth while 
to trouble the reader with more than one term in this memoir. I have, 
therefore, used Turanian as applying to both lines. 

t "Studies in Ancient History," quoted by Morgan, "Ancient Society," 
p. 509. 


summary of the result of researches carried on for more 
than twenty years in ahnost every part of the world ; and, 
even if we do not take into account the value of the facts 
collected and collated by Mr. Morgan, we may perhaps do 
well to hesitate before we cast aside as utterly worthless 
the theory which he has founded on the facts. His theory 
certainly finds strong confirmation in the evidence afforded 
by the Australian classes, and it seems to be the only 
reasonable explanation of those divisions. 
They are of three kinds, arising from — 

1. The division of a tribe into two exogamous inter- 
marrying classes — the word tribe being used as synonymous 
with community. 

2. The subdivision of these two classes into four. 

3. Their subdivision into gentes distinguished by totems, 
which are generally, though not invariably, the names of 

One set of these classes — viz., that with the class names 
Ipai, Muri, Kubi, and Kumbu — has been briefly noticed in 
M'Lennan's "Primitive Marriage," Tylor's "Early History 
of Mankind," Bonwick's " Tasmanians," and other works. 
A memorandum upon it, and its totemic subdivisions, by 
the Rev. W. Eidley, MA., was printed in the journal of the 
Anthropological Society, and it has also been carefully 
examined by Morgan in his " Ancient Society." 

My present object is to trace the formation and the gradual 
development of the classes in the order already stated, to 
set forth their laws of marriage and descent, and to show 
that the terms of kinship peculiar to the Turanian system 
necessarily arise from class divisions, which are governed 
by such laws. If this can be shown, it will be difficult to 
maintain Mr. M'Lennan's theory that those terms represent 
nothing more than a system of addresses, unless we 
suppose that the Australians and American Indians, as well 


as the numerous Asiatic and African tribes — who have 
similar divisions governed by similar inter-sexual laws — 
invented those divisions and founded those laws by a sort 
of common inspiration, for no other purpose than that 
individuals might be enabled to call one another by fictitious 
terms of kinship instead of by their own proper names. 
Mr. M'Lennan seems not to have been aware that there are 
tribes — the Friendly Islanders, for instance — whose system 
of kinship is the Turanian, who use all the terms peculiar 
to that system, but who never employ them in addressing 
one another. 

A few words of preliminary explanation may be useful 
here. It must be distinctly understood, and borne in mind, 
that the laws of marriage and descent which I shall 
endeavour to set forth can be said to prevail in Australia 
among those tribes only which have the organization here- 
inafter described. We have found many such tribes, but 
there are very many others yet unreached by our inquiries, 
and there are others again concerning which our informa- 
tion is imperfect. Some of these appear not to fall in with 
the system which we may call the Kamilaroi,* and much 
work yet remains to be done in order to ascertain their 

In the following pages the words inarriage, husband, 
ivife, and indeed all the terms of kinship, are used in a 
certain accommodated sense. Husband and wife are not 

* Some of the South Australian tribes in particular appear to differ 
widely from the Kamilaroi. They are divided into clans distinguished by 
totems, but they seem not to have the class organization, and their line of 
descent is said to be through males. Further investigation may, perhaps, 
connect their present regulations with the Kamilaroi system, as in the 
case of the Kurnai {See Theory of the Kilrnai System, &c.), but the 
information available concerning them is not sufficient to warrant anything 
more than a bare conjecture. There are also tribes which have the two 
primary classes, but which do not appear to have adopted the four classes 
with the peculiar marriage arrangements. 


necessarily man and wife according to our ideas. "My 
husband," for instance, among tribes such as the Australian, 
does not necessarily single out any one man in particular. 
A woman may apply it to any one of a group of tribal 
brothers who have the right of taking her to wife. 

The word tribe, also, is a very misleading term, and 
requires careful definition. In these pages it will never be 
used (unless in quotation) to denote any division within a 
community. Where used, it will denote the entire com- 
munity — e.g., by " the Larakia tribe " will be meant " the 
community of Australian aborigines calling themselves the 

It must also be borne in mind that present usage is not 
to the full extent that set forth by the class divisions. It 
is founded upon them, and is conformable to them, but the 
present inter-sexual arrangements are those of an extremely 
loose form of polygamy rather than those of what may be 
called group marriage — i.e., communal marriage. Every 
marriage at the present day among the Australian blacks 
who have the Kamilaroi system — giving to the word 
marriage a very wide meaning — is necessarily regulated 
by the classes ; but certain modifications as to the extent of 
the matrimonial privilege have been introduced. Here, as 
elsewhere, present usage is in advance of the ancient rules. 
But those rules underlie it, and are felt through it ; and 
the underlying strata crop up in many places. 

By present usage, I mean that which has been developed 
by the natives themselves, not that which has resulted 
from their contact with the white men. This is a 
factor which must be altogether cast out of the calculation, 
and an investigator on this line of research needs to be 
continually on the watch against it. Even now the 
information supplied by the few aborigines who remain 
near our more populous settlements has to be received 


with caution, and probably in a few years it will be only 
in the far interior that inquirers will find trustworthy 
evidence concerning the Australian classes. Most of the 
tribes within easy reach are already so reduced in number 
that they cannot observe the class regulations. Clan after 
clan has died out, and the few wretched survivors are 
obliged to take such mates as death has left them, whether 
they be of the right classes or not. The rum-saturated 
natives in the neighbourhood of our towns long ago so far 
profited by the teaching of the higher civilization as to 
make money by the prostitution of their women. No 
wonder that the inter-sexual rules, which were held as 
sacred obligations by their fathers, should be well-nigh 
forgotten by them. The black mounted police, and natives 
who take service with the owners of cattle or sheep stations, 
learn from the white men to disregard native customs ; and 
that which is disregarded soon drops out of the aboriginal 
mind. The old people may remember the old rules, but the 
young folks grow up in ignorance of them, and in a few 
years there will be none of those elders left. 

"I regret," writes one of our informants,* "that my attention 
was not directed to this matter ten years ago, when the natives were 
numerous, when there were old people of intelligence to be found 
among them, when one might, without hesitation, accept their ideas 
and expressions as original. . . . You remark truly that now 
is the time to gather information. A year or two hence, and it 
wUl be too late. The tribe with which I identified myself was 900 
strong twenty-eight years ago, when I first began to study their 
habits. Now they number only seventeen ! " 

* Mr. D. S. Stewart, to whom we are indebted for much valuable help. 



Wide-spread prevalence of the Class Divisions — Division of a Tribe into 
Two Classes — Subdivision into Four Classes — Subdivisions distinguished 
by Totems — Kamilaroi Marriage with the Half-sister. 

A FEW quotations from the letters of gentlemen who have 
furnished information to Mr. Howitt and myself will be 
sufficient to show that the class division is no mere local 
institution as far as Australia is concerned. It extends 
across the continent from east to west, and from north to 
south, and it has been traced far among the islands also. 
But I do not mean to assert that it takes in every tribe 
some one of the forms which I am about to describe. It 
may, however, be safely asserted that these forms are of 
wide prevalence. 

Mr. Lionel H. Gould writes from Nicol Bay, West 
Australia : — 

"In this district I include the country — say from 100 miles east of 
the De Grey River to the North-west Cape, and inland — say 150 miles. 
Throughout this extent of country, although dialects differ every fifty 
or sixty miles, the same class distinctions are observed. " 

Mr. G. F. Bridgman, Mackay, Queensland, writes as 
follows : — 

" I have a Brisbane black with me who has been over nearly all 
Australia, the Kamilaroi country among other places. He tells me 
the divisions are nearly the same over all the continent, though the 


names (i. e. , the class names) are different. One term here represents 
another in another place. " 

Mr. William Reeve, jim., says : — 

" My informant, Dora, a native of the Herbert River (Queensland) 
tribe, says all the tribes round — say within a radius of 100 miles — are 
bound by the same laws as her own, though the actual names indicating 
particular relation.ships are often different." 

The next words of Mr. Reeve's letter show that, by " the 
names indicating particular relationships," he means, not 
specific terms of kinship, but names indicating class 

" For instance," he continues, " a Tarawangan is called a Kolelangan 
in a neighbouring tribe, and she cannot marry a Tarawang in Dora's 
tribe, or in any other tribe. " (Mr. Reeve uses tribe as equivalent to 
community. ) 

Similar testimony concerning the usage in South Australia, 
the Darling River country, and many other districts, might 
be quoted here. 

The Rev. R. H. Codrington, M.A., of the Melanesian. 
Mission, writes : — 

"1 have ascertained that they (the class divisions) are identical as 
far south as the north of Pentecost at any rate ; that a Banks Islander 
knows, or easily learns, which is his ' side of the house' (i.e., class) 
in all that group, and that Star Island people know theirs in Aurora. 
The Aurora people know theirs in Leper's Island, and the people of 
Leper's know theirs in Espiritu Santo." 

The Rev. George Brown, F.R.G.S., of the Wesleyan 
Mission, tells me that he has found the divisions at New 
Britain also ; and all our informants agree in stating that 
the rules of marriage and descent are substantially uniform 
throughout the districts within their knowledge. It will 
be seen that, mutatis mutandis, they coincide with the 
rules of the exogamous intermarrying tribal divisions which 
have been observed in so many other parts of the world. 



The simplest, and probably the earliest, form of the class 
division among the Australian aborigines is the separation 
of a community into two intermarrying classes, each having 
a distinctive title, which is taken by every one of its 

This form has been found from South Australia to 
Northern Queensland, as well as among the islands. 

The Mount Gambler (South Australia) tribe divides into 
two classes, called respectively Kumite and Kroki. The 
females are called Kumitegor and Krokigor. (Informant, 
Mr, D. S. Stewart, Mount Gambler.) 

The Lower Darling tribe divides into Kilparas and 
Mukwaras. There is a tradition that the Darling River 
Adam had two wives with those names. Kilpara's descen- 
dants are called Kilpara ; Mukwara's descendants are called 
Mukwara. (Informant, Mr. Charles G. N. Lockhart, Went- 
worth, New South Wales. Other informants write Maguara 
for Mukwara.) 

A Queensland tribe divides into Yiingaru and Wutaru. 
The feminine forms are Yungaruan and Wutaruan. (Infor- 
mant, Mr, G. F. Bridgman, Mackay, Queensland.) 

Similar divisions of a tribe, or community, into two inter- 
marrying classes, are found among the Banks Islanders and 
others, who separate into two Veve. Veve = Mother. 
(Informant, the Rev. R. H. Codrington, M.A., Norfolk 

At New Britain, the two intermarrying classes are called 
Pikalaba and Muramura. (Informant, Rev. G. Brown.) 

Charles New, Burton, Du Chaillu, and others, mention 
similar divisions into two classes among the Gallas and 
other African tribes. It is well worth while to inquire 



whether to these we may not arid the ancient Sun and 
Moon divisions of India. 

The laws of marriao^e and descent connected with these 
divisions will appear from the following table and 
diagram : — 


The regulations of these classes being the same in every 
case, as is manifest from the forefjoinof table, a diacjram 
showing the descents to grandchildren in any one tribe will 
.suffice for all : — 

Diagram No. 1. 



Kroki. I Krokigor. 

Kiiniite. I Kumitegor. 

Kumite. Kumit'^gor. 

Kumite. Krokigor. Kroki. 

Kroki. I Krokigor. Kroki. | Krokigor."" Kumite. I Kumitegor. 

Allowing to each marriage a son and a daughter, we 
have in the second descent two males and two females of 
each class. Let this be kept in mind for comparison with 
the descents in tribes whose class divisions take other forms. 

Mr. Howitt has found two tribes — the Ngarego of 
Carawong, Maneroo, New South Wales, and the Wakeruk, 


an East Gippsland tribe — which have the two divisions, but 
their regulations are seemingly anomalous. These recjuire 
investigation, as pointing to a system differing from that 
hereinafter described. Indications of such a system are 
found elsewhere in Australia. 


In many Australian tribes we find four classes, which can 
be shown to be subdivisions of two primary classes.* 

A selection of class names, indicating the four divisions, is 
given in the following table. Others might be inserted, but 
these will amply suffice to show the laws of marriage and 
descent, as well as to indicate the wide-spread prevalence of 
these class divisions. 

* It is possible that the four classes may have been formed by the 
amalgamation of two tribes, each of which was divided into two classes. 
See p. 70 for a detailed statement of this hypothesis. 


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We might reasonably conclude that these four classes 
were formed by subdividing two primary classes, from the 
fact that they are composed of two pairs of non-intermarry- 
ing classes, each pair corresponding to one of the original 
classes, and intermarrying with the other pair, as shown in 
the foregoing table. 

Thus Ipai does not intermarry with Kumbu, nor does 
Muri intermarry with Kubi ; but the Ipai-Kumbu pair 
intermarries with the Muri-Kubi pair. These pairs re- 
present the original classes. 

So also with all the other sets. Bultara, for instance, 
does not intermarry with Parula, nor does Panangka inter- 
marry with Kumura ; but Bultara-Parula intermarries 
with Panangka-Kumura ; and, even if there were no 
other evidence, we might take it for granted that these 
pairs represent the original classes. 

* Since Table B was prepared, Mr. Howitt received the following 
information from the Rev. R. H. Codrington :— "At Florida, one of the 
Solomon Islands, there are four Kana (divisions for marriage). They are 
exogamous, and the child follows the mother." These Kema are sub- 
divided, and it appears that the subdivisions are distinguished by totems. 

f Kubitha, Table B. — The Kamilaroi class names were first published, I 
believe, by the Rev. W. Ridley, M.A., whose attention had been called to 
them by Mr. T. E. Lance. Mr. Ridley pointed them out to me in 1871, 
and I sent a memorandum on them to Mr. Morgan, following Mr. Ridley's 
method of spelling, and in that guise they appear in Mr. Morgan's 
"Ancient Society." Subsequently Mr. Lance informed me that the 
spelling aforesaid did not correctly represent the sound of the words. 
After a careful inquiry from several competent informants, I altered the 
spelling to that given in the table, which, to my ear, comes as nearly as 
possible to their pronunciation, the vowels, of course, having their proper 

I am careful to give this explanation minutely, because there hangs to it 
something more than a mere question of orthography. Kubi's sister is 
called Kapota by Mr. Ridley, and the fact is thereby concealed that this 
class name is simply Kubi with the feminine termination tJta, just as 
Tarawangan is the feminine form of Tarawang. From the spelling given 
in the table, it is seen at a glance that, in the Kamilaroi language, the 
feminine names are formed from the masculine by adding tha, as they 
are formed elsewhere by adding an, gan, or gor\ Matha and Butha are 
evidently contractions of Muritha and Kumbutha. 


This inference, which naturally suggests itself from the 
inter-sexual arranccements shown in the table, is strencrth- 
ened into certainty by the fact that in some tribes the class 
names of the primary divisions are still found side by side 
with those of the four classes.* Thus it is known that the 
four classes of the Mackay tribe are subdivisions of the two 
classes, Yungaru and Wutaru, already given in Table A. 
The class names Yungaru and Wutaru are still used. 

Yuno^aru includes Gurgela and Burbia. 

Wutaru includes Wungo and Kuberu. 

Elsewhere the names of the original classes may have 
dropped out of use, but their subdivisions are still recog- 
nized as " brother " classes, and, consequently, do not inter- 
marry. It may be that they have escaped the notice of 
our informants, whose attention was fixed upon the four 
classes by our inquiries. Mr. Bridgman, before-mentioned, 
states, on the authority of an intelligent aborigine of the 
Yungaru class who visited the Kamilaroi people, that 
those tribes have a division corresponding to Yungaru — 
that is to say, a class composed of Ipai and Kumbu ; and if 
so, they must have the other class, composed of Muri and 

It will be seen from the following table and diagram 
that, though the range of matrimonial choice is reduced by 
the subdivision of the two primary classes into four, the 
laws of marriage and descent remain unaltered as far as 
their fundamental principles are concerned. Marriage is 
still forbidden within the class, and descent is still reckoned 
throuofh the mother. 

See p. 69. 



Primary Class. 


The Male Marries. j Children. 

Yungaru ... Gurgela. 
Yungaru . . . Burbia. 

Wutaru . . . Wungo. 
Wutaru . . . Kuberu. 

Wutaru- W ungoan. 


Wutaru- Wungo-an. 


Descents. — Diagram No. 2. 











KuBi. Kubitha. 


Kumbu. Butha, 


MuRi. Matha. 






MuRi. Matha. 


Kumbu. Butha 




Ipai. | Ipatha. 

If this diagram be compared with Diagram No. 1, showing 
the descents in the classes Kumite and Kroki, it will be 
seen that the results are precisely the same in both cases. 

In the first descent one class produces the other. Ipai- 
Kumbu produces Muri-Kubi, and Muri-Kubi produces Ipai- 
Kumbu, just as Kumite produces Kroki and Kroki, Kumite. 

The second descent gives a male and a female of each of 
the four classes as the grandchildren of Ipai and Kumbu ; 
and, again, a male and a female of each of the four classes 
as the grandchildren of Muri and Kubi. In other words, 
the second descent gives two males and two females of each 
class, as with Kumite and Kroki. {See Diagram No. 1.) 

Hence it is manifest that the laws of marriage and 


descent are not affected by the subdivision of the two 
original classes into four, save as to the range of marriage 
selection. A man who, under the two classes, had matri- 
monial rights over the women of half the tribe, is now 
restricted to one-fourth. Ipai-Kumbu could marry any 
Matha-Kubitha. Ij^ai can marry Kubitha only. Kumbu 
can marry Matha only. But marriage must still be without 
the class, and descent is still reckoned in the female line. 


It is, perhaps, not too much to say that every tribe of the 
Australian aborigines has subdivisions distinguished by 
totems, which are generally the names of animals. It is 
certain that some of these contract the range of matri- 
monial selection, but our information is not sufficiently 
complete to enable us to assert that this is always the case. 

In some places the primary divisions are distinguished 
by totems at the present day. Probably they were so 
distinguished everywhere in ancient times. " The symbol 
of the Yoongaroo division," says Mr, Bridgman, " is the 
alligator, and of the Wootaroo the kangaroo." Mr. A. S. P. 
Cameron gives the following list of class names used by the 
Queensland natives, who speak the Unghi language, as the 
equivalents of the Kamilaroi, Ipai, «S:c. : — 



* With the exception of Nganbay, these are evidently the ilackay class 
names given by Mr. Bridgman. Oorgilla is nndoubtedly Gurgela (which 
probably should have been written Gurjela) ; Nganbay isBurbia ; Woongoo 
is Wuugo (which ought perhaps to be written Wungu) ; and Uberoo is 
Kuberu. The dropping of the letter K is of frequent occurrence. Several 
Fijian tribes drop it from every word in which it occurs, a curious break, 


And Mr. William Chatfield, of Bowen, Queensland, informs 

us that each class has " a distinguishing animal — a sort of 

heraldic crest — viz.: — 

" Utheroo has emu, or carj)et snake. 
Mulleroo ,, iguana. 
Yungaroo ,, opossum. 
Goorjilla ,, kangaroo, or scrub turkey." 

Whence it appears that Ipai, &:c., can be identified with 
class names elsewhere which have distinguishing totems. 
But for all practical purposes we may take the totems as 
indicating subdivisions of the classes, at least among the 
tribes who have the class divisions already described. 

Mr. Lockhart writes concerning the Darling tribe, who 
&ve divided into Kilpara and Mukwara : — 

" There is a further division into tribes or families, such as the Emu, 
Wndduck, and Kangaroo tribes, but the main division is by no means 
thereby affected. . . . The females of the Wildduck, we shall 
say, are all Ealparas, and they take Mookwara men of the Emu. The 
•children remain Kilparas and Wildducks. No Kilpara man can 
approach these Kilpara women, and the Kilpara Wildduck boys look 
out for, say, Mookwara Emu girls. The children and the pedigree 
always run through the woman. " 

These totems affect the inter-sexual regulations only as 
the development of the four classes from the original two 
affects them — i.e., no otherwise than by narrowing the 
range of matrimonial selection. They do not touch " the 
main division," as Mr. Lockhart justly observes. They 
are, in fact, subdivisions of the Kilpara and Mukwara 
classes, analogous to the Ipai, Kumbu, &c., of the Kamilaroi. 
Given two Kilpara totems, the Wildduck and the Kangaroo, 
and two Mukwara totems, the Emu and the Hawk, 

or catch, being heard ui the hiatus. Thus Katakata is pronounced 'ata 'ata, 
the apostrophe representing the break. Other Fijian tribes drop T in like 
manner. The language has a word, Ngaio, for this letter-dropping ; and 
the Eev. E.. H. Codriugton informs me that in Mota (Banks Islands) Gato 
means " to speak like a foreigner," " to speak in a foreign tongue." 


and we have the four classes as we have them in the sub- 
divisions of the Queensland Yun^^aru and Wutaru. Mr. 
Stewart, however, who has been for nearly thirty years in 
close intercourse with the Mount Gambier tribe, assures us 
that the numerous totems used by that people do not in 
any way restrict matrimonial selection.* " A Kuraite can 
take any Krokeegor : a Krokee any Kumitegor," he wrote 
in reply to a specific inquiry as to whether the totems 
affect the marriage regulations. But it may be that the 
old rule differed from this. Mr. Stewart's words refer to 
present usage ; and this, in the case of the Mount Gambier 
blacks, cannot be taken as conclusive. A tribe, which in 
less than 30 years has been reduced from 900 souls to 17, 
is compelled to make such matrimonial arrangements as it 
can, whether they be according to ancient law or not. "f 

The Kamilaroi totems are peculiar. At least, they have 
a peculiarity attached to them which calls for special 
attention. Unlike the Darling totems, at first sight they 
appear to affect " the main division " by legalizing to a 
certain limited extent marriage with the half-sister by the 
father's side. This is marriage ivithin the class, an utter 
abomination to all, or nearly all, the other tribes. It will 
be seen, however, that the totems are not answerable for 
this. It is an innovation, and an overriding of their rules. 

The Kamilaroi totemic divisions will be most easily made 
intelligible by reverting to the two primary classes, which 
have been shown to be Ipai-Kumbu and Muri-Kubi. In 
one generation — the order is reversed in the next — Ipai- 
Kumbu divides into Kangaroo, Opossum, and Iguana; 
Muri-Kubi divides into Emu, Bandicoot, and Blacksnake. 

* See also the Gournditch-Mara tribe of Western Victoria — Part II., 
Appendix F. 

t 6'ee Mr. Stewart's noteworthy remarks quoted at the conclusion of the 
introductory cliapter. 



For the sake of distinction, let us call these subdivisions 
gentes* which is the term most appropriate to them. 

The following table shows the marriages and descents of 
the Kamilaroi gentes, or totemic subdivisions, so called for the 
sake of convenience to distingfuish them from the classes : — - 

t- ^ ^ 
rf ^ " 


s s s 

2S . 
S ® s 
! I I 

03 ce eS 

^ ^ *3 


: o s >:. 

' o "3 m -3 


1 1 1 

^ S o 

C p c3 

c3 c« c3 


-+J -W -M 

c3 c3 c3 



5 S 3 


Ph a c^ 

'73 t;^ 

I— 1 HH h- 1 


• w '0 -"d 

eS cS cS 

c c c 

cj c4 cS 



eS eS eS 


M 1— 1 1— 1 

2S . 

=« S S 

S O g 

I I I 

cS rt eS 

*3 ^ +3 

eS cS cj 

O cS 

o a 

c c S 


Wo • 

|W S 

■ -II g 

• 05 to 

C -S O 
M So 


•n S I ' 

CO ^ 

o =^ 

c c c 

03 rt cS 

S ii o 
S 3i5 






* The use of this term must not be taken as implying that these gentes- 
are identical with the Roman gens. They have uterine succession, whereas 
its succession was agnatic — to use a term which, if not strictly correct, is 
so extremely convenient that even the sternest precisian may wink at its. 


That these gentes are subdivisions of the original classes 
Ipai-Kumbu and Muri-Kiibi (= the Queensland Yungaru 
and Wutaru) is manifest from the fact pointed out by Mr. 
Morgan,* that they subdivide those classes into two non- 
intermarrying triplets (if this convenient term may be 
allowed), each of which intermarries with the other. Thus, 
the Emu gens cannot intermarry with the Bandicoot or the 
Blacksnake, but it can intermarry with the Kangaroo, 
Opossum, or Iguana. Emu, Bandicoot, and Blacksnake are 
"brother" gentes, and, therefore, cannot intermarry. So, 
also, are the other three. The two sets of gentes are conter- 
minous with the original classes, and descent being through 
the mother, they alternate between those classes in alternate 

Ipai-Knmbu (Yungaru) = Kangaroo-Opossum-Iguana. 
Muri-Kubi (Wutaru) = Emu-Bandicoot-Blacksnake. 

In the next generation — 

Ipai-Kumbu = Emu-Bandicoot-Blacksnake. 
Muri-Kubi = Kangaroo-Opossum-Iguana. 

But it does not follow from this that the gentes are older 
than the four classes. It is but another proof that the two 
primary classes were not discarded when they were sub- 
divided. Their laws still ruled the tribe. The old form 
was not broken up to be re-cast into a new shape. The four 
classes, and the gentes also, were looked upon as sub- 
divisions ivitJtin huo still-existing classes, whose regulations 
they must still obey. To use a homely illustration, the 
construction of the four classes and the gentes was like the 
.succession to their father's business of two sons in the one 
case and three in the other. These are partners in the firm 
now, and each takes his own share of the proceeds, but the 
•old firm is the old firm still. 

* "Ancient Society," page 51. 



Hitherto, as is manifest from the foregoing table, the 
laws of man-iage and descent are in nowise affected by the 
Kamilaroi gentes. They are identical with those found in 
Table B. But we now come to the innovation which 
legalizes marriage with the half-sister. This, together with 
its descents, is shown by the following table, wherein are 
stated certain marriages additional to those already given 
in Table D. 

a> <o 




6 6 


a— Bla 
a— Bla 

a— Ein 


1 1 1 

c3 o3 o3 


^ ^ ^3 


^ 4^ -fc3 

1 1 ' 

e« g cS 


c5 c3 c3 

:i s 

"rt H 1s 

a a a 

(!« rt c3 



a 3 a 


a a a 

a a a 

a a a 

c3 rt c3 

eS c3 03 

s s s 

• ^ .p^ -.H 


'C 'S 'S 

•S zi '^ 

c3 tS c3 

a a a 


1— 1 1— 1 1— 1 







1 1 1 

1 1 1 

1— 1 1— 1 (4 
1 1 1 

1 1 1 

cS c3 eS 

tS tS c3 


c3 tS cS 

X .a j3 


c4 03 cS 

1— 1 l-H hH 

w3 ^ +3 

c3 c3 cS 

a a a 

O cS 
O p3 

O o5 

o a 

^ .id 

a s; y 
S ^S 
MM. 2:1 

a ii o 
S Sis 

,2 -a .a 

i § § 


3 o s 

h b4 ll 


is ^ 

|3 a c3 

§ g,a 

a a a 
I— I ^^ M 

S >» 

eS 3 

m a 
<u a> 

is -2 


oj o 

;3 «• 

00 <u 

pH 'cS 


Hence, it is manifest that — 

1. The gentes are strictly exogamous. No marriage can 
take place between a male and a female of the same totem. 

2. Two of the gentes — the Bandicoots and the Opossums 
— though they take the extended matrimonial privilege for 
their men, refuse it to their women. 

According to the regulations shown in the table, no 
Bandicoot or Opossum woman can marry a man of her own 
class. If the arrangement had been that Emu married 
Bandicoot, Bandicoot married Blacksnake, and Black- 
snake married Emu, with a like arrangement for the other 
class, all would have shared alike in the extended privilege. 
But since Emu and Blacksnake intermarry with one another, 
the Bandicoot women are necessarily excluded. They 
cannot marry Bandicoot men, for this would be marriage 
within a gens, which is strictly forbidden. So also with the 
Opossums. I can offer no explanation of this other than the 
conjecture that the innovation was begun by the Emus and 
Blacksnakes in the one class, and the Kangaroos and Iguanas 
in the other, intermarrying one with another. These, it 
will be observed, are corresponding gentes. 

3. This extension of the matrimonial privilege, while it 
allows marriage with the paternal half-sister, does not 
permit marriage with the uterine half-sister. 

A man's uterine half-sister bears her mother's totem, 
which is his also (Tables D and E) ; and, therefore, they 
cannot marry. They are of the same gens. 

4. The extended privilege does not include all the half- 
sisters by the father's side. A man's paternal half-sisters 
may be found in two gentes ; but he may take them to wife 
from one only of those gentes. Thus, Ipai- Emu's half- 
sisters by the father's side may be either Ipatha-Bandi- 
coot or Ipatha-Blacksnake (Table D) ; but he can have 
the Blacksnake only. 


5. The law of descent is in nowise affected by the 
marriage with the paternal half-sister. 

The children of these marriages with the half-sister 
take the class name and totem of their mother's children 
by the man who may be called her proper husband 
{see Table D). The mother alone is looked to, as far as 
descent is concerned : the father is utterly ignored. This 
will be seen in the following diagram : — 

Diagram No. 3. 

Table D. Tabh' E. 

Ipatha-Emtt. Ipatha-Emu. 

Kubi. Ipai-Blacksnake. 

Kumbu-Emu. ! Butha-Emu. Kumbu-Emu. Butha-Kmu. 

This partial breach of the general rule which forbids 
marriage within the class seems to be peculiar to the 
Kamilaroi, and it is even doubtful whether it prevails 
among all the tribes included under that name.* 

A letter of inquiry concerning it called forth a number 
of replies from correspondents in various parts of Aus- 
tralia, who expressed surprise at the statement concerning 
marriage with the paternal half-sister, and assured us 
that it was unknown to the natives with whom they were 
acquainted. Some of these gentlemen had lived for many 
years in the country occupied by the Kamilaroi blacks. 
Mr. A. S. P. Cameron wi^ote as follows : — 

"In your letter, published in the Australasian, it is asserted that in 
some instances Ipai marries Ipatlia. In any district where I have 
Tieen Ipai marries Cubetha, and no other ; and yet there are the same 
subdivisions, such as Emu, Kangaroo, Snake, &c." 

* Kamilaroi. — Strictly speaking, this is a name of a language, not of a 
tribe. It is derived from the negative " Kamil," which some of our corres- 
pondents give as Kumil, and the language as Kumilrai. The Kamilaroi 
are the people who say "Kamil." Under this term are included quite a 
number of tribes. 


The materials gathered by Mr. Howitt and myself are 
insufficient for a satisfactory settlement of this matter ; 
but it seems almost certain that the half-sister mamanfe is 
only a local infringement of a class law which is looked 
upon as of universal obligation by all the other tribes who 
have the class organization, and we may therefore set it 
aside for the present. Not, however, because it is of little 
worth. At first sight, apparently, a retrograde movement,. 
a more careful inspection shows it to be a most important 
forward step in the direct line of advance. But, as far as 
we know, it did not make sufficient way among the Austra- 
lian aborigines to affect materially the laws of marriage 
and descent with which we are now concerned. 

On the whole, it may be said, with regard to the Austra- 
lian totemic gentes, that while in some cases they restrict 
matrimonial choice, and in others they may perhaps not 
have that effect, they are bound by the laws which bind 
the classes. This, at all events, is the general rule, to which 
there may be exceptions besides that of the Kamilaroi 
marriage with the half-sister.* 

* As so many of our correspondents have questioned the assertion of 
marriage with the paternal half-sister among the Kamilaroi, it may be well 
to give the authority on which it rests. 

The late Mr. T. E. Lance, an unquestionable authority, informed me 
that he had met with instances of marriage between Ipai and Ipatha, 
■which the natives justified on the ground that the parties were not of the 
same mudji (totem). Being then in Sydney, where my friend Mr. Ridley 
resides, I told him what Mr. Lance had said, and urged him to follow up 
the clue, which evidently pointed to marriage regulations based upon 
totemic subdivisions of the classes. He was on the eve of starting for the 
interior to make certain philological investigations set on foot by the New 
South Wales Government at the instance of Prof. Max MilUer ; and, on his 
return to Sydney, he informed me that his inquiries had resulted in the 
discovery of the laws of the Kamilaroi gentes. He gave me a short 
memorandum on them, which is embodied in Tables D and E. 

The Kamilaroi half-sister marriage, therefore, having been noted by an 
exi>erienced observer, such as Mr. Lance, and verified by so well known an 
authority as Mr. Ridley, we may safely take to be an established fact as 
far as concerns the tribe which came under the notice of these gentlemen. 


Certain curious facts connected with the totems, apart 
from the question of marriage and descent, have come to 
our knowledge in the course of these inquiries ; but, as it is 
with this question only that we are at present concerned, 
those facts would be out of place here, A brief notice of 
them will be given further on,* 

* See Appendix B, 



Rule I. — fa). Marriage is theoretically Communal — Matrimonial Rights of 
a Class recognized over Wide Areas — Communication aided by 
Gesture Language — (hj. Relationship is that of Group to Group — 
"Brother," Gentes, and Classes — Evidence of the Terms of Kinship. 

Rule IL — Marriage is Exogamous — This Rule binds all the Classes and 
Gentes — Overrides Marriage by Capture — Necessarily results from 
the first Class Divisions. 

Rule III. — The Wife does not come into her Husband's Class or Gens. 

Rule IV. — Descent is through the Mother — Shown by the Class Names and 
Totems — Kamilaroi Class Names no Exception — Necessary Result of 
the Marriage Regulations and the Constitution of the Classes. 

We have traced the inter-sexual divisions of the Australian 
aborigines from the two primary divisions to the four 
classes, and the subdivisions distinguished by totems; and 
we have seen that the laws of marriage and descent, founded 
on the first segmentation of the community, remained 
unaltered save in the narrowing of matrimonial selection. 
Those laws, already clearly shown by the various tables of 
marriage and descent given in the preceding chapter, now 
present themselves for further investigation. 
They may be stated as follows : — 

I. — Marriage is theoretically communal. In other words, 
it is based upon the ^marriage of all the males in one 
division of a tribe to all the females of the same generation 
in another division. 


Hence, relationship is not merely that of one individual 
to another, but of group to group. 

By this it is not meant that present usage is hereby 
stated, but that this is the ancient rule which underlies 
present usage, and to which that usage points. 

II. — All the divisions — gentes as well as classes — are 
stricthj exogamovbs. In other luords, marriage is forbidden 
ivithin every division of a tribe. 

III. — The luife does not come into her husband's dAvision. 
She remains in her oiun. 

IV. — Descent is reckoned through the mother. 

In order more clearly to illustrate these regulations, we 
may take one set of the class divisions as an example ; and, 
inasmuch as the rules have been shown to be substantially 
invariable, we may take any one set as typical of all. Let 
us take the South Australian classes Kumite and Kroki, 
with their feminine terms Kumitegor and Krokigor. 

Rule I. — Communal Marriage and Group Relationship. 

Marriage is communal. Every Kumite is theoretically 
the husband of every Krokigor in the same generation with 
himself. Every Kroki is theoretically the husband of every 
Kumitegor in his own generation. It is not hereby asserted 
that marital rights are actually exercised to this extent at 
the present day ; but they exist, and are acknowledged, 
even now-a-days, to a certain extent. 

Relationship is consequently that of groups of individuals 
to other groups. All Kumites and Kumitegors of the same 
generation are looked upon as brothers and sisters. So also 
are all Krokis and Krokigors of the same o-eneration. 

Every Kumite is looked upon as joint father to all Krokis 
and Krokigors in the generation next below his own. So also 
with the other relationships. 



The refjulation Piven aljove is the ancient rule. Present 
usage is that every Kuniite, for instance, takes as many 
Kroldgor wives as he can get and keep ; but tlie old rule 
makes itself felt still, asserting the tribal right in the 
women, who are now, nominally at least, the property of the 

Thus, among tribes which are organized like the Kami- 
laroi,* friendly visitors from other tribes are accommodated 
with temporary wives from the proper classes, and no man 
can refuse to furnish his (|uota from his own harem. 

" 'Cui foemina sit,' " we read in 'Eyre's Discoveries in Central Aus- 
tralia 't " earn amicis libenter proebet. Si in itinere sit, uxori in castris 
manenti aliquis supplet illi vires. Adversis ex longinquo accedentibus 
fceniinas ad terapus dare hospitis esse boni judicatnr. . . . Se- 
nioribus mos est, si forte gentium plurium castra aj^propinquant, viros 
noctu hinc inde transeuntes, uxoribus alienis uti, et in sua castra ex 
utraque parte mane redire. ' " 

These statements are more than borne out 1>y the plain- 
spoken testimony of many correspondents who have been 
good enough to furnish information concerning the Austra- 
lian blacks to Mr. Howitt and myself.:|: They, however, 

* Lilr the Kamilaroi. — It must be distinctly understood that these 
remarks are intended to apply to those tril>es only ■which are organized 
like the Kamilaroi. It is their common organization which gives them 
the common privilege. It will be seen that there are tribes which have 
not that organization. 

+ Quoted by Sir J. Lubbock, "Origin, &c.," Note, p. 411. 

:J: [I liavc observed the custom referred to by Eyre fi-equently among the 
Cooper's Creek aborigines (Dieri, Yantruwunta, &c. ) In a communication 
receiveil from the Rev. H. Vogelsang, of the Lutheran Mission, Koppera- 
mana, during the prei^aration of tliis work for the press, he says — "The 
question 'Minna murdu ?' is connected with eating and with hospitalitj-. 
For instance, when a stranger blackfellow arrives here, the question is, 
* Minna murdu ?' — what are you ? Kangaroo, or Rat, or Mouse, or whatever 
else it may be. All those of the same name go to the same cam]i, eat to- 
gether, live together, even lend each other tlieir women. Even alien black- 
fellows, from a distance of three or four hundred miles, are thus hospitably 


are unanimous in making this important addition to Eyre's 
statement, that the freely-granted favours, which were 
naturally looked upon by him as mere promiscuous inter- 
course, are strictly regulated by the laws of the class 
divisions. Thus, Mr. T. E. Lance informed us, with regard 
to a tribe with which he was well acquainted, that, though 
most of the women are nominally the wives of the elderly 
men of the tribe, their husbands are obliged to lend them 
to the younger men on stated occasions. But the youths 
• thus favoured must be none other than those of the 
proper classes. And of the Clarence River Kamilaroi he 
wrote — 

" If a Kubbi meet a stranger Ippatha — (these are intermarriageable 
classes, see Table B) — they address each other as spouse. A Kubbi 
thus meeting an Ippatha, though she were of another tribe, would 
treat her as his wife, and his right to do so would be recognized by her 

This important statement has been fully confirmed by 
other competent informants, in reply to a special inquiry on 
the subject.* 

Mr. G. F. Bridgman's native servant, before mentioned, 
Avho had travelled far and wide throughout Australia, told 
him that he was furnished with temporary wives by the 
various tribes with whom he sojourned in his travels ; that 
his right to those women was recognized as a matter of 
course ; and that he could always ascertain whether they 
belonged to the division into which he could legally marry. 

entertained. Our tribe, the Dieri, have different names for their Murdus 
from those of the neighbouring tribes, but they can always understand 
each other."— A.W.H.] 

* [Mr. Cyrus E. Doyle, of Kunopia, ]\Ioree, N.S.W., wrote to me as follows, 
in reply to a question : — " You are quite right in supposing that any Hippi 
can take any Kubbatha as his wife and keep her, and that his right to her 
will not be questioned by her family ; and of course the same rule extends 
.to the other names, such as Cumbo, Kubbi, &c." — A.W,H.] 


" though the places were 1,000 miles apart, and the lan- 
guages quite different." Many pages might be filled with, 
similar testimony. 

This seems to be the most extensive system of communal 
marriage the world has ever known. It could have held its 
own in no other part of the globe ; for nowhere else, if we 
except an isolated tribe here and there, have the aborigines 
been so completely shut out from external impulse. Aus- 
tralian marriage — taking into account, for the present, those 
tribes only which have the Kamilaroi organization — is • 
something more than the marriage of group to group, 
within a tribe. It is an arrangement, extending across a 
continent, which divides many widely- scattered tribes into 
intermarrying classes, and gives a man of one class marital 
rights over women of another class in a tribe a thousand 
miles away, and speaking a language other than his own. 
It seems to be strong evidence of the common origin of all 
the Australian tribes among whom it pi'evails ; aiid it is a 
striking illustration of how custom remains fixed while 
language changes. 

The evidence I have brought forward may perhaps be 
called in question. For instance, it may be doubted whether 
Mr. Brid Oman's native servant could have made himself 
understood amono- the various tribes whom he visited in 
the course of his travels ; and it may also be objected that 
the inter-tribal enmity of the Australians must make his 
story somewhat problematical. But, in the first place, the 
fact in support of which his testimony is advanced, is quite 
independent of that testimony, being fully supported by 
other evidence ; and, in the second place, the difhcultios in 
the way of his journcyings may be more apparent than 

It is quite possible for a native to make his way across 
the Austi'alian continent if he passed from tribe to tribe in. 


accordance with certain established rules ;* though, if he 
ventured without that passport, he might be killed — and 
eaten too, for many of the tribes are cannibals. 

Nor would his ignorance of the dialects sjDoken by 
stranger tribes necessarily stop his way. Mr. Gason, an 
unimpeachable authority, tells us, in his pamphlet on the 
Dieri Tribe, that they have a gesture language as well as a 
spoken tongue ; that this gesture language is common to 
many tribes, and that by its means natives who are " bar- 
barians " one to another can converse with ease. Mr. Gason 
understands this language of signs, and has frequently 
employed it. I have heard of it in other parts of Australia, 
and have myself seen it used with great apparent readiness 
by two white men who had learned it from the natives.-f- 

The importance of this subject may justify a short 
digression here. Gesture language, which has been ad- 
vanced as an evidence of mental inferiority on the part of 

* "Passed on from tribe to tribe." — This statement receives amusing con- 
firmation from the following incident narrated by Buckley, the convict 
who lived among the blacks for so many years that he forgot his English : — 

" They have a notion that the world is supported by props, which are in 
charge of a man who lives at the farthest end of the earth. They were 
dreadfully alarmed on one occasion, when I was with them, by news passed 
from tribe to tribe, that, unless they sent him a supply of tomahawks for 
cutting more props, and some rope to tie them with, the earth would go by 
the run, and all hands would be smothered. . . . Passing on the icord 
to the tribes along the coast, some settlers at a very great distance w^ere 
robbed of axes, saws, rope, and tires of dray wheels, all of which were for- 
warded to the old gentleman on the other side ; and, as was supposed, in 
time to prevent the capsize, for it never ha^jpened. A tribute of this 
description is paid whenever possible ; but who the juggling old recei\'ing 
thief is I could never make out." (Morgan's "Life of Buckley," p. 58. 
M'Dougall : Hobart Town, Tasmania, 1852.) 

The Australian tribes have heralds, whose person is sacred when they 
are engaged in their official duties. See Mr. Howitt's account of the 
Kiirnai Leewin. 

f [I have often seen this gesture language used by the Dieri and other 
kindred tribes. By means of it the " Murdu " of a stranger could be 
ascertained, and the various hospitalities connected therewith either offered 
or demanded. — A.W.H.] 


savages, we may yet discover to be a proof of a quite 
remaikable intelligence. It certainly fails to prove poverty 
of language. The North American Indians — some of them, 
at least — have it, and their languages not only suffice for 
all their ordinary wants, hut are also copious enough to 
furnish materials for abundant oratoiy. There is no 
evidence* whatever that the lanffuaije of savages is inade- 
quate to express all they have in their minds ; and what 
tongue can do more than this for the people who speak it ? 
Gesture language is not a mere eking out of the spoken 
tongue. It is a most remarkable enrichment of it, and 
forms a valuable means of communication between tribes 
whose languages differ from one another far more widely 
than French or German differs fiom Enolish. How valu- 
able would such a means of communication be to ourselves! 
— a language of signs, by means of which Englishmen, 
speaking^no tongue but their own, could make themselves 
understood — as far, at least, as their everyday wants are 
concerned — throughout a continental tour. 


That relationship is of group to group seems to be a fair 
inference from what has already been shown as to communal 
marital riffhts. 


* A^o evidence, d-c. — Much of -what has been advanced as proving the 
poverty of language among savage tribes seems to me to have but little 
weight. An African traveller, for instance, observes that, when his men 
talk together after nightfall, they sit within the light of the camp-tire in 
order that their word signs may be perceptible ; and he jumps at once to 
the conclusion that the signs are necessary in order to eke out the poverty 
of the spoken language. But he forgets that his men were of different 
tribes, some, at least, of whose dialects differ as do the Australian. 

The proof 'required heie is, firstly, that the interlocutors are men of the 
same tribe ; and secondly, that they are compelled to use signs to express 
what their words are insufficient to express, for we know that savages often 
use the gesture language from choice in their conversation. It is good 
practice so to use it. 


As to both marriage and relationship, it is the group alone 
1;hat is regarded. The individual is ignored. He is not 
Jooked upon as a perfect entity. He has no existence save as 
a part of a group, which in its entii'ety is the perfect entity. 
It is not the individual Kumite who marries the individual 
Krokigor : it is the group of males called Kumite which 
marries the group of females called Krokigor. Hence the 
.son of this marriage is not the individual Kroki, but the 
group Kroki ; its daughter is not the individual Krokigor, 
but the group Krokigor (Table A). This son and this 
daughter — i.e., group Kroki and group Krokigor — are 
brother and sister, and this relationship binds every member 
of the groups. So also with the other degrees. * 

The subdivision of the two primary classes failed to alter 
the idea of relationship in the native mind. For matrimonial 
jpurposes, indeed, the boundaries of the group are contracted, 
but descent and relationship remain unaltered. The Ipai 
group is brother to the Kumbu; the Muri group is brother 
to the Kubi. So also with the gentes. The Emu group is 
brother to the Bandicoots and Blacksnakes ; the Kangaroo 
group is brother to the Opossums and the Iguanas (Table D). 

Further evidence is afforded by the terms of kinship 
in present use among the Australian aborigines. These, 
however, are not so conclusive in proof as are those in use 
among other tribes, whose terms are given in full by Mr. 
Morgan in his work on the " Systems of Consanguinity and 
Affinity of the Human Family." The systems of the Tamil 
speaking peoples, the North American Indians, Fijians, 
Tongans, and many others, follow out the strict logical 

* [When conversing with one of the Majauka tribe, of the Darling River 
{whose cousin had been with me on my first expedition), as to the classes of 
the Cooper's Creek tribe, I said " I am ]Mungalli-Lizard of the Yantru- 
wunta." He immediately replied, "Why! lam Lizard too — Kami — and 
you are just the same as my brother." — A.W.H.] 


sequences of the primary relationships which result from, 
the division of a community into exogamous intermariying 
classes. When those primary degrees are known, they 
themselves reveal the inter-sexual laws on which the system 
was founded, and every possible relationship may be 
deduced from them by a simple process of reasoning. In 
every case, excepting where a few anomalous terms have 
been introduced, the theoretical deduction will be found to 
be identical with the term in actual use. For instance, 
when we have ascertained that a Mbau Fijian calls his 
father's brother father, his mother's sister mother, his father's- 
sister mother-in-laiu, and his mother's brother father-in-law,. 
we can determine with positive certainty the exact degree 
of relationship in which he stands to any other member of 
his tribe, how remote soever their relationship may be 
according to our own system. Nay, more, we can determine 
the exact relationship between any one of his descendants 
and any other person belonging to the tribe after the lapse 
of any number of generations, although, according to our 
system, there may be no relationship whatever between 
those persons. 

Not so, however, with the Australian terms. In the first 
place, several terms are found in use which point to the 
older system, called by Mr. Morgan the Malayan — to a time 
prior to the first division of the community into inter- 
marrying classes. The survival of these terms here and 
there need cause no surprise if we bear in mind the fact 
that every one of the terms logically resulting from the 
classificatory system of kinship is still found in everyday 
use among nations who advanced beyond that system — who 
can say how many ages ago ? 

And farther, an Australian aborigine, when asked to define 
the relationship in which he stands to other persons, fre- 
quently takes into consideration matters other than relation- 


ship, and so gives words which are not specific terms of 
kinship. After years of inquiry into this matter, the 
humiliating confession must be made that I am hopelessly 
puzzled. Of one thing, however, I am perfectly sure, that 
there is a good reason for every one of the inexplicable terms 
which an Australian black gives when asked to explain a long 
line of descents, with several branches from the main stem ; 
only, I have been unable to get at those reasons. In one list 
I have found the same degree of relationship represented by 
no fewer than five different words, four of which appear 
not to be terms of kinship at all, but to express some con- 
nection other than relationship. A difference of totem 
within a class may cause a difference of appellation, or it 
may not, apparently according to the whim of the speaker. 
Thus, Muri-Iguana and Muri-Kangaroo are half-brothers, 
for they are the sons of Ipai (Table D) ; but one sometimes 
designates the other by a word differing from the term by 
which he would address a Muri of his own totem, while at 
other times he may use the ordinary term. So also with 
the four classes. Ipai and Kumbu are "brother" classes, 
but any particular Ipai, in defining his relationship to 
Kumbu, may use either the ordinary term for brother, or 
some word intelligible enough to the natives, but exas- 
peratingly puzzling to an inquirer who is ignorant of the 
language. Moreover, there are certain changes of name and 
grade conferred at a secret ceremony called Bora, or 
Bura, which in some way or other, inexplicable by our 
informants, affects, or may affect, the words by which a 
man will designate his kinship, and yet does not touch 
their relationship. It is simply impossible to ascertain the 
exact meaning of these words without a very full know- 
ledge of the native dialects, added to a personal influence 
with the blacks powerful enough to induce them to reveal 
jealously-guarded secrets known to the initiated only, and 


a patience compared with which that of Job is furious 
irritability. In all probability there are not half a dozen 
men so qualified in the whole Australian continent; and one 
gentleman — who, doubtless, has the requisite knowledge — 
positively refused to disclose the secrets entrusted to him 
by the natives. He had to identify himself with a tribe 
before he could learn those secrets. 

Nevertheless, enough can be made out from the terms of 
kinship in present use to show that relationship is based 
upon the same ideas with those which form the foundation 
of the system called by Mr. Morgan the Turanian. Most 
certainly, as will presently be shown, the terms of that 
S3^stem are the logical outcome of the Australian classes. 
The following table, though incomplete, shows that among 
many widely-separated tribes the same term is used for 
father and father's brother ; the same term for mother and 
mother's sister ; the same term for brother, father's brother's 
son, and mother's sister's son ; and the same term for son 
and brother's son (a male speaking), or for son and sister's 
son (a female speaking). 

If the reader will make out a genealogical table, or family 
tree, of his own brothers and sisters, or of his uncles and 
aunts, with their respective children, the significance of 
these terms, and their points of difference from our own, 
will be readily perceived. 

In every case shown in the following table there are two 
terms for " brother," one signifying " elder brother," and the 
other " younger brother." I have given one only of those 








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The significance of the terms of kinship given in the 
foregoing table requires only a little attention in order that 
it may be clearly seen. It can be presented directly to the 
•eye by constructing genealogical tables, or " family trees," 
•and noting down the relationship of the persons represented 
therein, according to the rules shown in the table. This, 
however, would require considerable space, and as it will 
have to be done further on in a series of diagrams showing 
that the terms of kinship in the Turanian system logically 
result from the class divisions, the reader is referred to 
those diagrams.* 

Rule II. — All the divisions — gentes as luell as classes — are 
strictly exogamous. In other words, onarriage is 
forbidden luithin every division of a tribe. 

Although matrimonial selection has so wide a range, it is 
:strictly governed by the class regulations. A man, as 
already shown, has marital rights over women in a class 
intermarriageable with his, not in his own tribe only, but in 
others also far distant from his own ; but under no circum- 
stances may he take to himself a woman from a forbidden 
■class. The Kamilaroi marriage with the half-sister by the 
father's side need not be taken into account here. It has 
b)een shown to be, in all probability, no more than a local 
infringement of a universal rule. And moreover, partial 
exception though it be, it proves the rule by observing its 
application to the gens, while it throws off its yoke as 
l)inding upon the entire class. Ipai, for instance, is allowed, 

* The reader cannot fail to be struck with the extraordinary divergence 
of the Australian dialects as showTi in Table F. Even among terms of 
kinship, where, if anywhere, we should expect similarity, we find the 
widest difference. In the New Hebrides again, and in other South Sea 
Island groups, a like confusion of tongues prevails. Here is a rich field 
for the philologist, if he enter upon it now. A few years hence and it will 
be a desert. 


at least in the tribe of JNIr. Lance's informants, to marry an 
Ipatha of a totem other than his own, but he cannot mariy 
Ipatha of his own totem (Table E). That is to say, he 
cannot marry a woman of his own gens. 

The rule of the two original classes — " Kumite may not 
marry Kuniitogor : Kroki may not marry Krokigor " — pro- 
hibiting marriage within the class, binds all the subdivisions 
also. The tables of marriage and descent already given 
show that (with the local exception of the Kamilaroi 
marriage with the half-sister by the father's side) the 
subdivision of the two classes did not result in inter- 
marriage between any two divisions formed out of one of 
the original classes. Thus, Yungaru was di\dded inta 
Gurgela and Burbia ; but Gurgela cannot marry Burbian r 
he must seek his wife in one of the sub-classes into which 
the other original class, Wutaru, was divided (Table C). So- 
also with the gentes (Table D). If we had found these 
subdivisions to be simply exogamous qua subdivisions, this 
would have been enough to prove that the law of exogamy 
still prevailed, though with contracted range. But the 
tables prove more than this ; they show that, not the 
principle only, but the range also, of the law is unaltered. 
And this is sufficient to prove the law, as far as the women 
within a tribe, or community, are concerned. 

That this law of exogamy is strictly enforced, under the 
sternest penalties, is proved by the united and positive 
testimony of many competent informants. A few of them 
may be quoted here. 

Mr. J. A. G. Little says of the Larakia tribe. Port 
Darwin : — 

" Occasional cases of elopement between blood relations (i.e., persons 
of the same class) occur. In such cases the pair are iwrsued, and the 
man, if possible, killed ; but, if he succeed in eluding capture fur a 
certain period, the oftence may be condoned." 


Dora, a Herbert River (Queensland) native, was present 
when her brother inflicted summary punishment for a 
breach of this law, and she gave a graphic account of the 
incident to our valued correspondent, Mr. W. Reeve, jun. 
The offenders were a man of her tribe, and a woman 
belono^inof to another tribe, but of the class name corre- 
sponding to his. They were found together in the bush, 
cooking grubs at the same fire. After some parley, Dora's 
brother struck the woman fiercely with his knife, inflicting 
" awful wounds under the left breast and over the back." 
The woman recovered, and the offence was eventually con- 

Mr. C. Giles, jun., writes concerning the Antakerinya 
tribe. Central Australia : — 

" Marriage can take place only according to the rules given {i.e., the 
class rules). Infringement of these rules is punishable by death. "* 

Not only is the law thus strictly enforced in all cases of 
ordinary marriage, but it holds good also with regard to 
what Mr. M'Lennan calls marriage by capture. It regulates 
the disposal of women who are stolen from other tribes, or 
captured in war.-f- 

"It is obvious," Sir John Lubbock remarks ("Origin of Civilization," 
p. 80), + ' ' that, even under communal marriage, a warrior who had 

* [As to marriage by capture, and further evidence confirmatory of tliis 
statement, see Summary and General Conclusions, Part ii. — A.W.H.] 

t Mr. Percival S. Friend, Stipendiary Magistrate, Rewa, Fiji, informs 
me that a man from Tana (New Hebrides), one of the ' ' imported 
labourers," was brought before him, charged with the murder of a woman 
from the same island, with whom he had been cohabiting. "The 
prisoner, after being duly cautioned, made a voluntary statement to the 
effect that he was bound to kill the woman, because she had admitted men 
whom the law of their land forbade to her. If she had intercourse with a 
dozen men of the same clan with himself, he could have no objection." 

I myself witnessed the trial of a similar case in the Supreme Court of 

t All my references to the "Origin of Civilization " are to the Second 



captured a beautiful girl . . . would claim a peculiar right to her, 
and, when possible, would set custom at defiance. ... A war 
captive was in a peculiar position. The tribe had no right to her. " 

This seems obvious to ourselves, but the influence of the 
class system among the Australians makes it anything but 
obvious to them. They maintain the tribal right against 
the individual with regard to war captives as strictly as 
they maintain it with regard to any other women. If a 
warrior took to himself a captive who belonged to a for- 
bidden class, he would be hunted down like a wdld beast ; 
and, unless he managed to keep out of the way until the 
hot wrath of the tribe had cooled down, he would be killed, 
and his captive with him. This is a strong statement, but 
it rests upon strong evidence, 

Mr. Charles G. N. Lockhart, after giving the law of 
marriage between Kilpara and Mukwara, says : — 

" This holds good even with regard to casual amours. It appears, 
further, that the neighbouring tribes have the same distinctions. I 
asked them how, under certain circumstances of forcible rajje — no 
uncommon occurrence — they knew the female was not of a forbidden 
tribe. They said they always knew. If in doubt, they asked the 
female. "* 

Mr. Reeve, already quoted, remarks further : — 

" Should any children be bom of such a connection (/.e., between 
forbidden classes), they are certain to be killed, as are generally the 
parents also. If the offenders be sjiared, they are subject to the 
eternal gibes and jeers of the tribe, t If a. man takes in icar from 

* " Jf in doubt, they asked the female." — Mr. Chatfield, before mentioned, 
informed me that in a tribe with which he was acquainted, the raised 
cicatrices on the bodies of the natives are the blazon of tlieir respective 
classes or totems. But several of our most trustworthy correspondents, 
replying to inquiries on this point, did not confirm Mr. Chatfield's state- 
ment. This, however, does not prove his statement to be incorrect, as far 
as concerns tlie tribe to which he referred. 

t " 27(6 eternal ijihes and jeers of the tribe." — So also Mr. Morgan tells us 
of a case among the Shyaus, "where first cousins had married against their 
usages." The pair were " ridiculed so constantly by their associates that 


another tribe a woman whom he cannot legally marry, and uses her as 
his mistress, the tribe will kill them both. " 

Many similar testimonies might be quoted from the letters 
of gentlemen who have given us information as to the tribes 
which have the Kamilaroi organization. Their evidence is 
conclusive in proof that the class law overrides marriage by 
capture among those tribes, and it must be borne in mind 
that none other are at present under consideration. 

Hence it is evident that — with the one local exception 
already noted, which is, after all, only an exception in 
part — all the class divisions are exogamous, and that the 
law is strictly enforced. At all events, if this be not 
exogamy, it is not easy to imagine what exogamy can be.* 

Here, then, we have exogamy, certainly not produced by 
marriage by capture, according to Sir John Lubbock's 
theory (" Origin of Civilization," p. 83), but actually com- 
pelling marriage by capture to conform to long-established 
cxoo^amous rules. Nor do the Australian class regulations 
give more countenance to Mr. M'Lennan's theory that 
savages were driven into exogamy and capture-marriage by 
'' female infanticide " resulting in a scarcity of women.-f* 
Australian exogamy, at all events, is the plain outcome of 

they voluntarily separated rather than face the prejudice." ("Ancient 
Society," p. 458.) 

Compare Hardistry's remarks on the Tinn6 Indians — "A Chitsang cannot 
by their rules marry a Chitsang, although the rule is set at nought 
occasionally. But, when it does take place, the persons are ridiculed and 
laughed at." The words next following are strong proof of group relation- 
ship — "The man is said to have married his sister, though there be not the 
slightest connection of blood between them." (Smithsonian Report, quoted 
by Lubbock, "Origin," &c., p. 112.) 

* [S'ee Part II., Appendix F. The Gournditch-Mara tribe. This community 
has four classes which are not exogamous. It is, however, socially far 
advanced beyond the Kamilaroi organization, and the class rules are 
proportionately weakened. The form remains, while the substance is 
gone. See also the Wimmera tribe, Summary, Part II. — A.W.H.] 

f See the discussion of female infanticide in the Summary, Part II. 


the class divisions ; and similar divisions elsewhere doubt- 
less produced similar results. 

KuLE III. — The wife does not come into her husband's 
division. She remains in her own. 

Kumitegor marries Kroki, but her marriage does not 
brino- her into the Kroki class. She continues to belong to 
the Kumite class. So also with the four classes and the 

The Motu people, Mr. Codrington informs us, express thi,^ 
regulation by a striking figure of speech. They are divided 
into two intermarrying classes, called Veve, or " mothers." 
One veve is said to be on one " side of the house," and the 
other veve to be on the other side. The wife does not pass 
to her husband's " side of the house." She is said to be " at 
the door." 

This is a most important fact, and, together with the 
following lule, it is the key to more than one difficulty 
concerning which there has been much speculation. There 
is no need for any further evidence in support of it with 
regard to the Australians. A glance at Tables A, B, C, D,. 
and E will show it as a matter of fact. 

Rule IV. — Descent is rechoned through the mother. 

In every case the class names and totems shown in the 
foregoing tables settle this question beyond dispute. The 
child is of the mother's class, not of the father's: of its 
mother's totem, not of its father's. 

Thus, Kumite's wife is Krokigor. His son is not Kumite, 
but Kroki. So also, if the Kamilaroi Emu marry Iguana, 
his son is not Emu, but Iguana (Table D). 


At first sight, the descents in the four classes may seem 
to contradict this assertion, inasmuch as the child does not 
come into that particular sub-class to which its mother 
belongs — e.g., Ipatha's son is Kumbu, not Ipai (Table B). 
But it has been shown that Ipai and Kumbu are mere 
segments of a still-existing class. Ipai is the complement 
of Kumbu. The two together make up a whole. The 
original classes are Ipai-Kumbu and Muri-Kubi ; and, as 
far as the line of descent is concerned, the original classes 
only are taken into consideration. Kubi, therefore, in 
marrying Ipatha, marries a woman of the Ipai-Kumbu 
class, and his children, Kumbu and Butha, are of that class 
(Table B). In other words, they are of their mother's class, 
not of their father's. 

This is still more clearly seen in the Mackay classes, 
simply because we know the names of the two primary 
classes in that tribe. 

Yungaru = Gurgela-Burbia. 
Wutaru = Wungo -Kuberu. 

Gurgela, a Yungaru man, marries Kuberuan, a Wutaru 
woman. His children are Wungo and Wungoan, who are 
not Yungaru like their father, but Wutaru after their 
mother (Table C). 

Why the children should be exchanged between these 
"brother " classes which do not intermarry — in other words, 
why Wungoan's children should be of the Kuberu class, 
and why Kuberuan's children should be of the Wungo 
class, is not directly apparent. Their exchange between 
the two primary classes is the necessary result of descent 
through the mother. Kumite's son must be Kroki because 
the mother is Krokigor. Kroki's son must be Kumite 
because the mother is Kumitegor. Is it possible that this 
•exchange — which, however, as will presently appear, is 



more apparent than real — had become a fixed idea in the 
native mind when the two classes subdivided, whence it 
seemed to be an absolute necessity that the sub-classes alsa 
should exchange their children ? This, though mere con- 
jecture, would be thoroughly in accordance with the mode 
of thought among savages. To the savage ancient custom 
is full of sanctity, and cannot be disregarded without 
impiety. He reasons, not from intrinsic quality, but from 
the custom of his fathers ; and, like that school of poli- 
ticians to whom he has transmitted so many of his ideas, he 
cannot be happy without his precedent. 

There is a curious solution of this difficulty, which seems- 
to come within the bounds of possibility. I give it for 
what it is worth. It was suggested to my mind by 
Herodotus' "Legend of the Minyse," who came to Sparta 
from Lemnos ; and, apparently as a necessary consequence 
of their naturalization among the Spartans, exchanged ivives 
ivith them. (" Melpomene," 145.)* 

A reference to Table B (p. 36) will show, if we arrange 
the four classes (say of the Mackay tribe) in two pairs as 
follows, that the marriages and the first descents are — 



Wungo-an. Gurgela-n. 




Kurberu-an. Burbia-n. 

If we examine either of these pairs, we see that their 
descents are precisely those of two exogamous intermaiTying 

* The Spartans seemed to have reasoned as follows :— We admit the 
Minyje as a clan into our community. We must look upon them all — 
men and women alike — as Minya\ Therefore, our clans being exogamous, 
their women must be married to another clan, and we must furnish their 
men with wives. 



gentes with uterine succession, but the marriages are 

Thus, if Emu and Snake be two such gentes, the identity of 
the descents is shown by the following diagram — males 
being represented : — 

Emu. (Gurgela.) 

Snake. (Wungo.) 

Emu. (Gurgela.) 

Snake. (Wungo. ) 

Emu. (Gurgela. ) 

Snake. (Wungo.) 

The difference in the marriages appears as follows :- 
M=male ; F= female. 

Emu M. ( Gurgela, 

Snake F. ( Kuberuan 

Snake M. ( Wungo. 

Emu F. ( Burbian. 

That is to say (if Emu be taken as corresponding to Gur- 
gela, and Snake to Wungo), Emu (male) marries Snake 
(female), but Gurgela marries, not Wungoan, but Kuberuan, 
and so forth. 

If the usual rule were observed, the marriages and the 
first descents would be as follows : — 




Wungoan. Gurgelan. 

Wungo-an. Gurgela-n. 






Now, let US make the following suppositions : — 
1. That A. and B. were at one time two distinct tribes, 
each consisting of two exogamous intermarrying classes — 
A. being made up of Gurgela and "Wungo, while B. consisted 
of Burbia and Kuberu, as shown in the diagram. 



2. That these two tribes united into one community, Gur- 
gela amalgamating with Burbia, and Wungo with Kuberu ; 
Gurgela-Burbia taking the Alligator (Yungaru) as its totem, 
and Gurgela-Burbia taking the Kangaroo (Wutaru). 

3. That these amalgamating classes exchanged tuives, as 
the Minyie are said to have exchanged theirs with the 
Spartans, but tvithout altering the descents as they stood 
when the union took iilace — in other words, that class 
Gurgela took Bur])ia's wives (Kuberuan), but retained its 
ckildren, Wungo and Wungoan ; that Burbia took Gurgela's 
wives, (Wungoan), but retained its children, Kuberu and 
Kuberuan, and so forth. 

Then we shall have the followinor arransfement : — 

A. (Yungaru.) 
Gurgela. Burbia. 



Wungo-au. Kuberu-an. 

B. (Wutaru.) 
Wungo. Kuberu. 



Gurgela-u. Burbia-u. 

which is precisely the arrangement as it stands at the 
present day. 

If, by any chance, this be the true solution, the four 
classes were formed by the amalgamation of two class- 
divided communities, not by the further segmentation of 
one such community ; but the main theory set forth in this 
memoir will serve equally well for either supposition. And, in 
what way soever the four classes may have been formed, 
it is evident, from the fact of their wide prevalence in 
Australia, that their formation must be referred to a very 
early time, before the tribes dispersed over the continent. 

It is well known that descent is still reckoned through 
the mother by many tribes in every quarter of the globe, 
and several conflicting theories have been advanced to 


account for tlie fact. The Australian system shows it to 
be the necessary consequence of the matrimonial regulations 
of the class divisions. If we consider the inter-sexual 
arrangements at present in force among the Australian 
aborigines, who have what I call, for the sake of conve- 
nience, the Kamilaroi class organization, we cannot deny 
that the saying — cynical enough as regards civilized com- 
munities, " Maternity is a matter of fact, paternity of 
conjecture" — represents the plain literal truth as far as 
tribes such as the Australian are concerned. For, when a 
man has no exclusive right to his wives ; when even 
strangers from a distant tribe, who are of a class corre- 
sponding to his, may claim a share in his marital rights ; 
when a woman is married to a thousand miles of husbands, 
then paternity must be, to say the least of it, somewhat 
doubtful. But there can be no possibility of mistake as to 
maternity, and therefore it seems natural enough that 
children should "follow the mother," as several of our 
correspondents phrase it; in other words, that they should 
be of the mother's class and gens, not of the father's. 

Moreover, this is the necessary result of the very con- 
stitution of the classes. In speaking of the " exchange of 
children," it was said that this exchange is more apparent 
than real. It appears to be a real exchange as long as our 
attention is fixed upon the fathers of those children. But 
when we turn our attention to the fact pointed out by Mr. 
Morgan ("Ancient Society," Part II. chap, i,), that the basis 
of the Australian class organization is the woman, not the 
man, we see that there is in reality no exchange at all. 
The classes are, in point of fact, not Kumite and Kroki, but 
Kumitegor and Krokigor. Kumite and Kroki appear to 
exchange their children, because each wife holds her own 
offspring by a law as steadfast against alteration as were 
those of the Medes and Persians. As far as descent is 



concerned, the father is a mere nonentity. Descent in the 
male line alternates between Kumite and Kroki in alternate 
generations, but Kumitegor's female descendants in the 
direct line, through females, are Kumitegor for ever.* 

From first to last, as regards descent, the father is utterly- 
ignored, and the mother alone is taken into -consideration. 
This is notably shown in the descents from the Kamilaroi 
marriage with the paternal half-sister (Table E, Diagram 
No. 3). Throughout the classes, and the gentes also, 
descent is traced through female ancestors. An Emu 
prides himself on being the descendant of a long line of 
Emus ; but it was through his mother that the Emu blood 
flowed into his veins, not through his father. His father 
was no better than a Blacksnake. 


The system which I have tried to explain in the foregoing- 
pages is that which will, I think, be found in most of the 
Australian tribes ; but there is so much ground yet unex- 

* Descent in the Male line and in the Female. — These descents are 

shown at a glance by the following diagram, which may be continued ad 

infinitum with the same results. The female line appears on the right 
hand, the male on the left. 

Kumite. m 


IGOR. ''. 



Kumitegor. Kumite. 









plored, that this opinion can only be held provisionally, 
while waiting for further evidence. 

The system has been shown to prevail in Western 
and Central Australia, along the east coast and interior to a 
considerable distance inland, and in the extreme north at 
Port Darwin. We know that it extends beyond the places 
noted, but we have reason to believe that it does not cover 
all the area bounded by them. The usages of several tribes, 
which appear at first sight to be radically opposed to it, can 
be shown to arise directly from the enforcement of its rules 
under circumstances of peculiar difficulty ; but we cannot 
affirm that the usages of all the Australian tribes which 
may be found to differ from those of the Kamilaroi, admit 
of a similar explanation. In all probability they do not. 
Some of the South Australian tribes, especially, point to the 
prevalence of a system different from that of the Kamilaroi ;. 
and a vast amount of work yet remains to be done before 
the question can be finally settled. 

The whole subject needs thorough investigation, and it 
needs it now. The aborigines are dying out as if they were 
plague-stricken, and with them is perishing information of 
the highest value to anthropological science, which, if not 
soon obtained, must be lost to us for ever. This is a matter 
for the united action of the Australian Governments. A 
year's work by a few competent men under their auspices 
now would do more than could be effected by an army of 
savans a generation hence. 



From the four rules of marriage and descent shown in 
the various tables, and investigated in the preceding 
chapter, it may now be demonstrated that the terms of 
kinship peculiar to what Mr. Morgan calls the Turanian 
system, are the logical outcome of the Australian classes. 

The characteristics of that system are given by Mr. 
Morgan in his " Ancient Society," pp. 442, et seq., together 
with theoretical explanations which will be found to 
coincide in every particular with the ascertained facts. 
We may take those characteristics as so many propositions, 
and demonstrate them by means of diagrams, so as to 
present directly to the eye that which would otherwise 
require a troublesome effort to keep it clearly before the 

All the marriages and descents given in the diagrams may 
be verified by a reference to Table A. This notification is 
^iven once for all, in order to save the trouble of repeating 
the reference at each step of the demonstration. 

Special attention is called to the terms Uncle, Aunt, 
Nephew, Niece, and Cousin, Strictly speaking, these 
relationships are not recognized by the Turanian system; 
and Mr. Morgan uses the terms, for the sake of convenience, 
to indicate relatives who are fathers-in-law and mothers- 
in-law rather than Uncles and Aunts, sons-in-law and 


daughters-in-law rather than Nephews and Nieces ; while 
the meaning of the term Cousin varies with the sex of the 
speaker, and with that of the person spoken of. These 
points will be fully brought out in the course of the 

It must further be noted that the meaning of those 
terms, as applied to the Turanian system, does not coincide 
with that which they bear in our own. The following 
definitions must be borne in mind : — 

I. — My Uncle is my mother's brother only, not my 
father's brother also, as with us. 

II. — My Aunt is my father's sister only, not my mother's 
sister also, as with us. 

III. — Ego being male, my Nephews and Nieces are my 
sister's children only, not my brother's children 
also, as with us. 

IV. — Ego being female, my Nephews and Nieces are my 
brother's children only, not my sister's children 
also, as with us. 
V. — My Cousins are the children of my mother's 
brothers, and of my father's sisters, but not those 
also of my mother's sisters, and of my father's 
brothers, as with us. 

VI. — The term collateral, as used by Mr. Morgan in 
stating the Turanian characteristics, denotes 
relationships diftering from those with which our 
own system has made us familiar. For instance, 
"my collateral brothers" are the sons of my father's 
brothers and of my mother's sisters. The ex- 
planation given in the introductory chapter as to 
the extended sense in which the terms of kinship 
are used, must be kept in mind. The Ego is a 
group, not an individual ; but each individual 


takes all the relationships which are taken by his 


" Ego being male, all the children of my several brothers, 
own and collateral, are my sons and daughters." (" Ancient 
Society," p. 442.) 

Kumite. Kumite A. 

Krokigor. Krokigor A. 

Kroki B. | Krokigor B. Kroki B. ' Krokigor B. 

Let Ego be Kumite, a male. All my brothers, own and 
collateral, are Kumite. 

Let any one of them be represented by Kumite A. 

Then, because my wife is Krokigor, my children are 
Kroki B and Krokigor B. 

But the wife of Kumite A is also Krokigor. 

Therefore his children also are Kroki B and Krokigor B. 

But Kroki B and Krokigor B are my children. 

Therefore, Ego being male, my brother's children are my 
«ons and daughters. Q.E.D. 

Note. — Hence is manifest the reason why my brother's 
children. Ego being male, cannot be called my nephews and 
nieces, as with us. 


" Ego being male, all the children of all my sisters, own 
and collateral, are my nephews and nieces." 

Kumite. Kumitegor. 

Krokigor. Kroki. 

Kroki B. 1 Krokigor B. Kumite B. I Kumitegor B. 


If Ego be Kumite, a male — 

My sister is Kumitegor, and her children are Kumite B 
and Kumitegor B. 

Kumite B and Kumitegor B are my nephews and nieces. 

But all my sisters, own and collateral, are also Kumitegor. 

And all their children are Kumite B and Kumitegor B. 

But Kumite B and Kumitegor B are my nephews and 

Therefore, &c. Q.E.D. 

But, strictly speaking, the Turanian system does not 
recognize these relationships, and the proposition may be 
stated thus : — 

" Ego being male, all the children of all my sisters, own 
and collateral, are my sons-in-law and daughters-in-law." 

Diagrarti as above. 

Ego being Kumite, all my sisters, own and collateral, are 

All their sons are Kumite B ; all their daughters are 
Kumitegor B, 

But Kumite B marries my daughter, Krokigor B, and is 
therefore my son-in-law. 

And Kumitegor B marries my son, Kroki B, and is there- 
fore my daughter-in-law. 

Wherefore, &c. Q.E.D. 


" Ego being female, the children of my several brothers, 
own and collateral, are my nephews and nieces." 

Kumitegor. Kumite. 

Kroki. Krokigor. 

Kumite B. Kumitegor B. Kroki B. 

Krokigor B. 


If Ego be Kumitegor, a female — 

My brother is Kumite, and his children are Kroki B and 
Krokigor B. 

Kroki B and Krokigor B are my nephews and nieces. 
But all my brothers, own and collateral, are Kumite. 
And all their children are Kroki B and Krokigor B. 
But Kroki B and Krokigor B are my nephews and nieces. 

Therefore, &c. Q.E.D. 

But, strictly speaking, the Turanian system does not 
recognize these relationships, and the proposition may be 
stated thus : — 

" Ego being female, all the children of my several brothers,, 
own and collateral, are my sons-in-law and daughters-in- 

Proof as in Proposition II. 

Cor. — From this proposition and the foregoing it is 
manifest that (bearing in mind the restricted sense of the 
terms nephew and niece). Ego being male or female — 

My nephew is my son-in-law — that is, a man who has a 
right to take my daughter to wife. 

My niece is my daughter-in-law — that is, a woman whom 
my son has a right to take to wife. 


" Ego being female, the children of my several sisters,, 
own and collateral, are my sons and daughters." 

Kumitegor. Kumitegor A. 

Kroki. Kroki A. 

Kumite B. 

Kumitegor B. Kumite B. 

Kumitegor B. 


If Ego be Kumitegor, a female — 

My children are Kumite B and Kumitegor B. 

But all my sisters, own and collateral, are also Kumitegor. 

And all their children are Kumite B and Kumitegor B. 

But Kumite B and Kumitegor B are my children. 

Therefore, &c. Q.E.D. 

Note 1. — Hence is manifest the reason why my sister's 
children. Ego being female, cannot be called " my nephews 
and nieces," as with us. 

Note 2. — Mr. Morgan's statement of this characteristic is 
as follows: — "With myself a female, the children of my 
several sisters, own and collateral, and of my several female 
cousins, are my sons and daughters." 

The words which I have italicised are omitted from my 
enunciation of this proposition. They apply to the Seneca- 
Iroquois system, to which Mr, Morgan's statement refers, 
but not to the Tamil, the Fijian, and many others, which 
take all the terms logically resulting from the division of a 
tribe into exogamous intermarrying classes. Ego being- 
female, the children of my female cousins are my nephews 
and nieces, or rather my sons-in-law and daughters-in-law, 
as shown in Proposition XIII. 


" All the children of these sons and daughters are my 
grandchildren." {See "Ancient Society," p. 443.) 
This may be more fully stated as follows : — 

(a) Ego being male, all the children of m}^ brother's 
children are my grandchildren. 

(b) Ego being female, all the children of my sister's 
children are my gTandchildren. 


O-l /\ 



(a) Ego being male, all my brother's children are my 
sons and daughters. (Prop. I.) 

And the children of my sons and daughters are my grand- 

Therefore the children of my brother's children are my 

(b) Ego being female, my sister's children are my sons 
and daughters. (Prop. IV.) 

And the children of my sons and daughters are my 

Therefore the children of my sister's children are my 

Wherefore, &c. Q.E.D. 


" All the children of those nephews and nieces are my 

This may be more fully stated as follows : — 

(a) Ego being male, the children of my sister's children 
are my grandchildren. 

(h) Ego being female, the children of my brother's 
children are my grandchildren." 

(a) If Ego be male, my sister's children are my sons-in- 
law and daughters-in-law. (Prop. II.) 

And the children of my sons-in-law and daughters-in-law 
are my grandchildren. 

Therefore the children of my sister's children are my 

(h) Ego being female, my brother's children arc my sons- 
in-law and daughters-in-law. (Prop. III.) 



And the children of my sons-in-law and daughters-in-law 
are my grandchildren. 

Therefore the children of my brother's children are my 

Wherefore, &c. Q.E.D. 

Cor. — From this proposition and the foregoing it is 
manifest that, Ego being male or female, all the children of 
my brother's children, and all the children of my sister's 
children, are my grandchildren.* 


" All my father's brothers, own and collateral, are my 

Kroki. Kroki A. 


Kumite B. 

Kumitegor B. 

* Sir John Lubbock observes of the Iroquois system that — "Though a 
man's sister's children are his nephews and nieces, his sister's grandchildren 
are also his grandchildren, indicating the existence of a period when his 
sister's children were his children." ("Origin," &c., p. 129.) 

This is an evident mistake, for those relationships afford no such 
indication. They result from the fact that a man's sons and daughters 
intermarry with his sister's children. His sister's grandchildren, therefore, 
must necessarily be his grandchildren. They are his children's children. 

Thus, Ego being male — 


My Sister. 

My Son marries Her Daughter. 



If Ego "be Kumite B, or Kumitegor B — i.e., male or 

All my father's brothers, own and collateral, are Kroki. 
But Kroki is my father. 

Therefore all my father's brothers are my fathers. 


Note. — Hence is manifest the reason why my father's 
"brothers are not called my uncles, as with us. 


"All my father's sisters, own and collateral, are my 

Kumite. Kumitegor. 

Krokigor. Kroki. 

Kroki B. I Krokigor B. Kumite B. 

Kumitegor B. 

If Ego be Kroki B, or Krokigor 'B^{i.e., male or female)^ 
My aunt is Kumitegor. 

But all my father's sisters, own and collateral, are 

Therefore they are my aunts. Q.E.D. 

Strictly speaking, the relationship of aunt is not recog- 
nized by the Turanian system, and the proposition may be 
stated thus : — 

" All my father's sisters, own and collateral, are my 

Diagram as above. 
If Ego be Kroki B, a male, my wife is Kumitegor B, 
Her mother is Kumitegor. 


Therefore Kumitegor is my mother-in-law. 

But all my father's sisters, own and collateral, are 

Therefore, they are my mothers-in-law. 

In like manner, if Ego be female, it may be shown that 
my father's sisters are my mothers-in-law. 

Wherefore, &c. Q.KD. 

Note. — " My mother-in-law " does not necessarily mean 
the actual mother of the woman whom I have as my wife. 
Ego being male, it means "a woman whose daughter I have 
a right to take to wife." Ego being female, it means " a 
woman whose son has a right to take me to wife." 


"All my mother's brothers, own and collateral, are my 

Kumitegor. Kumite. 

Kroki. Krokigor. 

Kumite B. 

Kumitegor B. Kroki B. 

Krokigor B. 

If Ego be Kumite B, or Kumitegor B — i.e., male or female, 
My uncle is Kumite. 

But all my mother's brothers, own and collateral, are 

Therefore they are my uncles. Q.E,D, 

Strictly speaking, the Turanian system does not recognize 
the relationship of imcle, and the proposition may be stated 
thus : — 


" All my mother's brothers, own and collateral, are my 

Diagram as above. 

Ego being Kumite B, a male, my wife is Krokigor B. 

Her father is Kumite. 

Therefore Kumite is my father-in-law. 

But all my mother's brothers, own and collateral, are 

Therefore they are my fathers-in-law. 

In like manner, if Ego be female, it may be shown that 
all my mother's brothers, own and collateral, are my fathers- 
in-law. Q.E.D. 

Cor. — From this proposition and the foregoing, it is 
manifest that, whether Ego be male or female, 

My uncle is my father-in-law, or rather the father of one 
with whom I have matrimonial rights. 

My aunt is my mother-in-law, or rather the mother of 
one with whom I have matrimonial rights. 

"All my mother's sisters, own and collateral, are my 

Kumitegor. Kumitegor A. 


Kmnite B. 

Kumitegor B, 

If Ego be Kumite B, or Kumitegor B — i.e., male or female^ 
Kumitegor is my mother. 

But all my mother's sisters, own and collateral, are 

Therefore they are my mothers. Q.E.D. 



"All the children of my father's brothers, and all the 
children of my mother's sisters, own and collateral, are my 
brothers and sisters." 

Kumite, Kumite A. 

Krokigor. Krokigor A. 

Kroki B. 

Krokigor B. Kroki B. 

Krokigor B. 

Ego being Kroki B, or Krokigor B — i.e., male or female, 
all my father's brothers are Kumite, and their children are 
Kroki B and Krokigor B. 

Again, all my mother's sisters are Krokigor, and their 
children are Kroki B and Krokigor B. 

But Kroki B and Krokigor B are my brothers and sisters. 

Therefore, &c. Q.E.D. 


"All the children of my several uncles, and all the 
children of my several aunts, are my male and female 

My uncles are my mother's brothers (definition i). 

My aunts are my father's sisters (definition ii). 

And their children are my male and female cousins (defi- 
nition v). 

But since, strictly speaking, these relationships are not 
recognized by the Turanian system, the proposition may be 
stated as follows : — 

(a) Ego being male, 

1. The sons of my mother's brothers and the sons of my 
father's sisters are my brothers-in-law. 

2. Their daughters are my wives. 
(/3) Ego being female, 


1. The sons of my mother's brothers and the sons of my 
father's sisters are my husbands. 

2. Their daughters are my sisters-in-law. 

Kumite. Kumitegor . 

Krokigor. Kroki. 

Kroki B. | Krokigor B. Kumite B. | Kumitegor B. 

(a) If Ego be Kroki B, a male, 

1. My mother's brothers are Kroki, and my father's sisters 
are Kumitegor. 

Their sons are Kumite B. 

But Kumite B marries my sister, Krokigor B, and I 
marry his sister, Kumitegor B. 

Therefore he is my brother-in-law. 

2. The daughters of my mother's brothers Kroki, and of 
my father's sisters Kumitegor, are all Kumitegor B. 

And Kumitegor B is my wife. 

(/3) If Ego be Krokigor B. — i.e., a female, 

1. My mother's brothers are Kroki, and my father's 
sisters are Kumitegor. 

Their sons are Kumite B. 
And Kumite B is my husband. 

2. The daughters of my mother's brothers Kroki, and of 
my father's sisters Kumitegor, are all Kumitegor B. 

But Kumitegor B marries my brother Kroki B, and I 
many her brother Kumite B. 

Therefore she is my sister-in-law. 

Wherefore, &c. Q.E.D. 

Note. — This result may be formulated as follows : — 

Ego being male, my male cousin is my brother-in-law — 
that is, he may take my sister to wife. My female 


cousin is my wife — i.e., she is a woman whom I may 
take to wife. 

Hence it is manifest that a man has brothers-in-law, but 
no sisters-in-law. 

Ego being female, my male cousin* is my husband — i.e., 
he may take me to wife. My female cousin is my 
sister-in-law — i,e., she is a woman whom my brother 
may take to wife. 

Hence it is manifest that a woman has sisters-in-law, but 
no brothers-in-law. 


" Ego being male, the children of my male cousins are my 
nephews and nieces, and the children of my female cousins 
are my sons and daughters." 

Ego being male, my male cousin is my brother-in-law. 
(Prop. XII.) 

Therefore his children are my sister's children. 

But the children of my sister's children are my nephews 
•and nieces. (Prop. II.) 

Therefore the children of my male cousins are my 
nephews and nieces. 

Again, Ego being male, my female cousin is my wife. 
(Prop. XII.) 

Therefore her children are my sons and daughters. 

Wherefore, «fec., Q.E.D. 

In like manner it may be shown that, Ego being female, 
the children of my male cousins are my sons and daughters, 
and the children of my female cousins are my nephews and 

* I am told that, in some parts of Ireland at the present day, a girl will 
sometimes reveal the state of her affections to the youth on whom she has 
set her heart, by saying, "I wish I were your cousin." And this is 
understood to be an oflfer of marriage. 



"All the brothers and sisters of my grandfather, and 
those of my grandmother, are my grandfathers and grand- 

This follows as a corollary from Proposition V. 


In order to understand the classificatory relationships, we 
must dismiss from our minds our own notions of relation- 
ship. We are accustomed to think of it as a relation 
between individual and individual : but we must bear in 
mind the well-established fact that to the savage the group 
is the individual. Where we have any one person in our 
mind in considering relationship, he has in his mind a 
number of persons, who collectively make up the group the 
relationship of which he has under considei^ation ; and every 
one of those persons bears to all other persons in the tribe 
the relationship which his, or her, group bears to their 
respective groups. In other words, relationship, whether 
consanguinity or affinity, is conceived between gi'oup and 
group ; and as is the relationship of Group A to Group B, sa 
is the relationship of each member of Group A to all the 
members of Group B, and vice versa. 

The relationships between three generations include all 
the degrees with which we need concern ourselves. Above 
grandfathers the terms are generally second grandfather, 
third, fourth, and so on, or simply " ancestors."* Below 
grandchildren the terms are second grandchild, third, fourth, 
and so on, or simply " descendants." Sometimes apparently 
anomalous terms of great interest present themselves for 

* Some tribes have no term for grandparents. 


these degrees, but we cannot stop to notice them here. The 
relationships then may be classified as follows : — 

I. — Relationships on the same level — i.e., between groups- 
in the same generation. 

II. — Relationships between the first generation and the 

III. — Relationships between the first generation and the 

I. — Relationships on the same level. 

1st Phratria.* 2nd Phratria. 

Kumite. Kumitegoe, Kroki. Krokigor. 

Kroki. Kumite. 

On the same level in each phratria, as shown in the 
diagram, there are two groups, one male and the other 
female, making four groups in a generation. And the 
relationships are — 

(a) Between the groups in the same phratria. 

(/3) Between each group in one phratria and those of the 

(o) Relationships between the groups in the same phratria.. 

Group Kumite is brother to Group Kumitegor — 

That is to say, every Kumite is brother to all the Kumite- 
gors : he is also brother to the other Kumites. 

Every Kumitegor is sister to all the Kumites, as well as. 
to all the other Kumitegors. 

So also with Groups Kroki and Krokigor. 

Hence the term " my brother " does not necessarily single 
out the son of my actual father or of my actual mother. 

* The same results are obtained from diagrams of a pair of intermarrying^ 
gentes — say Emu and Kangaroo. I use the terms gens and phratria here 
for the sake of convenience, asking permission to waive for the present any 
question that may arise as to their propriety. 


Ego being male, it means a man of my own group. 

Ego being female, it means a man of the group which is 
" brother" to my group. 

So, also, the term " my sister " does not necessarily mean 
the daughter of my own father or my o"«ti mother. 

Ego being male, it means a woman of the group which is 
" sister " to my group. 

Ego being female, it means a woman of my own group. 

(/3) Relationships between each group of one phratria and 
those of the other : — 

Group Kumite is the husband of Group KJrokigor. 

Group Kroki is the husband of Group Kumitegor. 

Hence Group Kumite and Group Kroki are brothers-in- 

Group Kumitegor and Group Krokigor are sisters-in- 
law. That is to say, every Kumite has (theoretically) 
marital rights over all Krokigors. Every Kroki has 
(theoretically) marital rights over all Kumitegors. 

Hence the terms "husband" and "wife" do not necessarily 
imply actual marriage. They indicate mutual rights of 

The term "my brother-in-law" does not necessarily single" 
out the actual husband of my own sister. It indicates a 
man belonging to a group which has the right of cohabit- 
ing with the group which is " sister " to my own. 

So also with the term " sister-in-law. " 

II. — Relationships between the first generation and the 

Kumite. Kumitegor. Kroki. Krokigob. 

Kroki. Kumite. 



Group Kroki is the father of Groups Kumite B and 
Kumitegor B. 

Hence every Kroki calls every Kumite B " my son," and 
every Kumitegor B " my daughter." Every Kumite B, and 
every Kumitegor B, call every Kroki " my father." 

Group Kumitegor is the mother of Groups Kumite B and 
Kumitegor B. 

Hence every Kumitegor calls every Kumite B " my son," 
and every Kumitegor B " my daughter ; " and they call 
every Kumitegor " my mother." 

So also with the relationships between Group Kumite 
and Groups Kroki B and Krokigor B ; also between Group 
Krokigor and those groups. 

Again, Group Kumite is the father of Group Krokigor B, 
which is the wife of Group Kumite B ; Group Kumite is 
also the father of Group Kroki B, which is the husband of 
Group Kumitegor B. Therefore, Group Kumite is father- 
in-law (or uncle) to Groups Kumite B and Kumitegor B. 

So also Group Kroki is father-in-law to Groups Kroki B 
and Krokigor B, 

For a like reason Group Kumitegor is the mother-in-law 
(or aunt) of Groups Kroki B and Krokigor B. 

And Group Krokigor is the mother-in-law (or aunt) of 
Groups Kumite B and Kumitegor B. 

Hence every Kumite B is the son-in-law (or nephew) of 
every Kumite and of every Krokigor ; and every Kumitegor 
B is their daughter-in-law (or niece). 

So also every Kroki B is the son-in-law of every Kroki 
and of every Kumitegor; and every Krokigor B is their 

Hence the term " my father-in-law" does not necessarily 
single out the actual father of my actual wife. It indicates 
a man of a group with whose daughters my group has the 
right of cohabitation. 


So also with the terms mother-in-law, son-in-law, and 
daughter- in-law. 

III. — Relationships between the first generation and the 

Kumite. Kttmitegor. Kroki. Krokigor. 

Kroki. Kumite. 

I I 

Kumite-b. | Ku^nTEGOR-B. Kroki-b. | Krokigor-b. 

Kroki-b. Kumite-b. 

Kumite-c. | Kumitegor-c. Kroki-c. | Krokigor-c. 

These are very simple. 

Groups Kumite C and Kumitegor C are the grand- 
children — 

Of Group Kumite, because its son. Group Kroki B, is 
their father ; also of Group Krokigor, for the same reason. 

Of Group Kumitegor, because its daughter, Group 
Kumitegor B, is their mother ; also of Group Kroki, for the 
same reason. 

That is to say, all the groups of the third generation are 
grandchildren to all the groups of the first. 

Hence the term " my gTandfather" applies to all the 
males of my tribe in the generation next above that of my 
father ; the term " my grandmother" applies to all the 
women of my tribe in that generation.* 

Hence it is manifest that — 

1. — On the same level the relationships are — 

Within a phratria, brother and sister — consanguinity 

Between the phratrise, husband and wife, brother-in-law 
and sister-in-law — affinity only. 

* Here, probably, we find the reason why many tribes have no terms for 


2, — Between the first generation and the second the 
relationships are — 

Within a phratria, mother and child, father-in-law and 
son (or daughter) -in-law. 

Between the phratri?e, father and child, mother-in-law 
and son (or daughter) -in-law. 

Both within a phratria and between the phratrife, there 
are relationships of consanguinity and others of affinity. 

3. — Between the first generation and the third the 
relationships are grandparents and grandchildren. 


At the risk of incurring a little harmless ridicule, I will 
endeavour to set forth the systems of group relationship 
more clearly by means of the following diagram. My 
excuse for presenting it here is that it has often helped me 
in my own study of this somewhat perplexing subject, 
showing to the eye at a glance what the mind does not 
readily perceive and retain without some such aid. I have 
used the diagram many hundreds of times in determining 
particular relationships among savage tribes, and it has 
never failed. Of course, when the relationship is more 
remote, it needs extension ; but, how far soever it may be 
extended, it never changes its form. And in its simple 
form now given it shows all that is necessary to the 
understanding of the classificatory relationships. 

John Smith and John Brown, two first cousins, marry 
one another's sisters. Each has a son John and a daughter 
Jane. These first cousins marry, and have issue, a son and 
a daughter to each marriage. The same christian names 
are continued. 


The surnames represent the two intermarrying phratrife^ 
or gentes. The christian names represent the sex of the- 


( Turanian System.) 

M. gens. N. gens. 

John Smith. Jane Smith. John B rown. Jane Brown> 

Jane Brown. Jane Smith. 

John Smith.^ | Jane Smith.^ John Brow n.- | Jane Brown .' 
Jane Brown. ^ Jane Smith. - 

Smiths.' Browns.' 


(Ganotvanian System.) 

M. gens. N. gens. 

John Smith. Jane Smith. John Brown. Jane Brown . 

John Brown. John Smith. 

John Smith. '^ | Jane Smith.- John Brown.- | Jane Brown. ^ 

John Brown.* John Smith.- 

Smiths.' Browns.' 

Precisely as are the relationships between the individuals 
in the diagram, so are the group relationships of inter- 
marrying gentes. No. I. shows the system as it appears in 
tribes like the Fijians, who have descent through the 
father. No. II. shows the system as it is found in tribes 
like the Kamilaroi, who have descent through the mother. 
The composition of the gens, also, is shown in each case. 





Morgan's Theory — M'Lennan's Theory of Kinship Terms — The Group 
Eelationships are Real Relationships — Lubbock's Theory of the Four 
Classes — The Ancient Gens — Kamilaroi— Half-sister Marriage — 
Endogamy and Exogamy— Distinction between Relationship through 
Females and Descent through Females^Orestes' Plea before the 
Areopagus — Marriage not a Contract, but a Status — The Social Unit — 
Inheritance of the Sister's Son. 

The characteristics of the Turanian system (as shown in Morgan's 


Chap. IV. of Kamilaroi Marriage, &;c.) were drawn by Mr. 
Morgan from the terms of kinship found by himself and 
his helpers in everyday use among many tribes in every 
quarter of the world. The hypothesis on which he accounts 
for them is that they are the result of a reformatory 
movement prohibiting the once-prevalent intermarriage of 
brothers and sisters. His theory, therefore, as a whole, 
requires the former prevalence of what he calls the Malayan 
system with the consanguine family — that is to say, com- 
munal marriage of all the males within a tribe which is not 
divided into intermarrying classes, to all the females of the 
same generation, those males and those females being, con- 
sequently, at once tribal brothers and sisters and husbands 
and wives. 

With that system we have little to do in this memoir, 
which deals with the Australian classes, whose system is 
the Turanian, or, rather, the Ganowanian, not the Malayan. 
But it may be observed, in passing, that sister-marriage is 
well known to have been no uncommon occurrence in the 


past, and that survivals of it may be found even at the 
present day. Ellis gives an instance which came under his 
notice at Hawaii : — 

"Among the reignmg families," he says, "brothers and sisters 
marry. This custom, so revolting to every idea of moral propriety, 
appears to have been long in use, and very recently a marriage was 
proposed at Maui between the young prince and princess, both 
children of the same parents. A council of chiefs was held on the 
subject, and all were favourable. . . . The individuals them- 
selves are entirely passive in the affair." (" Polynesian Researches," 
vol. iv., p. 435.) 

This is not a marriage with the half-sister, which is found 
elsewhere among otherwise exogamous tribes. The pair 
were brother and sister of full blood. Other modern 
instances might be given, showing that sister-marriage is 
still permitted, either for the preservation of a certain strain 
of blood, or for the transmission of property in a certain 
line. We have also to take into consideration the fact that 
the terms of kinship in present use by the Hawaiians, 
Samoans, Rotumans, and other South Sea Islanders, are 
precisely those which would logically spring from such 
marriages, though they do not represent present usage. 

Given a community with the Malayan system in force — • 
in other words, a state of society such as that indicated by 
the Dieri legend of the Murdu quoted at the beginning of 
the introductory chapter — and it is evident that the division 
of the community into tM'o exogamous intermarrying 
classes, like Kumite and Ki-oki, Avould have precisely the 
reformatory effect which Mr. Morgan's theory requires, 
Kumite may not marry Kumitegor ; and, since all his 
sisters, own and collateral, must be Kumitegor, this rule is 
simply a prohibition of sister-marriage, extending to tribal 
sisters as well as to own sisters. Mr. Morgan's theoretical 
divisions, induced from the terms of kinshij), are identical 
with the two classes, found in Australia and elsewhere, of 


M^hich those terms of kinship have been shown to be the 
logical outcome. 

So far, then, his case appears to be complete ; unless we M'Len- 
•can bring ourselves to agree with Mr. M'Lennan, that the theory of 
terms belong to a mere system of addresses, invented by terms, 
.savages for the purpose of enabling them to call one another 
by unreal titles of kinship. But, as already stated, there 
.are tribes whose terms of kinship are those of the Turanian 
system, and who, nevertheless, do not employ them in 
.addressinor one another. Moreover, the facts brouo-ht 
forward in the preceding chapters show clearly that the 
relationships expressed by those terms are as real to the 
Australians as are ours to ourselves. We can hardly 
believe that the term luife, for instance, if it were no more 
than a mere form of address, would carry with it veritable 
■conjugal rights ;* and still less can we believe that a man's 
taking to wife a woman who is in nowise akin to him 
according to our system, but whose brother he is according 
to the Australian, could be a capital offence unless the 
relationship between the parties were a real one in the eyes 

* " Veritable conjugal rights." — It is not asserted that these rights 
actually exist at the present day wherever the Turanian terms of 
kinship are found. The oft-repeated caution must be borne in mind, that 
present usage is everywhere in advance of the system revealed by the tei'nis 
of kinship. Among the Australian tribes which have the Kamilaroi 
organization we have seen that the term wife does actually, to a certain 
•extent, carry with it conjugal rights wherever it applies ; and even in far 
more advanced tribes the old range of the term is not wholly forgotten. 
Among the Fijian tribes, for instance, who have the patriarchal form of the 
family — polygamy with agnatic descent — the term "my wife" is applied to 
my brother's wife, and is something more than a mere form of address. A 
man's actual assertion of the old right it expresses is looked upon with an 
indulgent eye, if the parties are discreet enough to keep their affairs from 
being noised abroad. Though the practice was forbidden, it was winked 
at by those most nearly concerned, unless open scandal followed, in which 
•case much virtuous indignation was displayed by the very tribe's folk who 
secretly allow themselves the same indulgence. This shows that the 
prohibition of the old license had not acquired the force of a moral 


of the natives. Its reality is shown, not only l)y the 
infliction of the penalty, but by its motive also. The act 
is looked upon by the aborigines with abhorrence, and 
is severely punished, because it appears to them an 
offence against morality, such as incest is to us. It is a 
pollution of the entire group to which the offenders belong. 

This statement may perhaps be ridiculed by those who 
consider savages to be " almost entirely wanting in moral 
feeling;" but to accuse savages of immorality because they 
are not moral according to our code of morality is both 
unreasonable and unjust. We can judge the quality of an 
action only by bringing it to the standard with which we 
are acquainted ; and no more can be expected of any man 
than that he regulate his conduct by the law of right 
which is within his knowledge. As far, at least, as the 
inter-sexual regulations are concerned, this is done with all 
strictness by the Australian tribes, excepting those who 
have become demoralized by their contact with a civiliza- 
tion which, while teaching them to disregard their own 
moral code, neglected to teach them a better one. 

The group relationships seem unreal to us only because 
we look at -them from our own point of view; but not so 
do they appear to the savage. They are as real to him as 
our own are to us ; and they bring to him the rights, the 
duties, and the prohibitions which ours bring to us. He 
has the rights of a brother, and he acknowledges the duties 
of a brother, towards every man of his own group ; and he 
can no more marry a woman of a group which is " sister " 
to his own than we can marry our own sister. 

Nor is the marriage relationship less real. AVe have seen 
that wherever a Kamilaroi native goes among tribes whose 
organization is that of his own, he finds the marital rights 
of the group to which he belongs, over the women of the 
group which is " wife " to his own, acknowledged by hia 


hosts ; and he is as ready to acknowledge their rights in 
return if they become his guests. 

That the group relationships are real relationships to the 
native mind is further shown by the curious feeling 
manifested among savages between those who are connec- 
tions by marriage, and especially between mother-in-law 
and son-in-law. It is well known that this frequently 
takes the form of mutual shame and avoidance, and exhibits 
itself in all manner of ludicrous ways. As, for instance ■ 
when an Australian and his mother-in-law, compelled to 
address one another, stand back to back, and yell at the top 
of their voices, feigning to be far apart. Or as when a 
Kafir woman, meeting her son-in-law in the path, squats 
behind a bush, while he passes on hiding his face behind 
his shield. I once saw a man of the Wangaratta tribe 
(Australia) full of the utmost distress and disgust because 
his mother-in-law's shadow had fallen across his legs. He 
had been lying at the foot of an enormous gum-tree, which 
hid him from the old lady's view as she approached, and 
so the catastrophe occurred. In some tribes this feeling 
exhibits itself in another form — that of respectful formality 
between such connections. They are ceremoniously polite 
to one another, always using the respectful forms of 
address — e.g., the pronouns in the dual or the plural instead 
of the singular — and in all things treating one another with 
a certain formal courtesy, as if they were strangers of rank, 
to whom such respect is due. 

These customs — whether the mutual shame or the 
mutual respect — seem to have sprung from the same 
motive.* Certainly they have the same efiect. Their 
result is an avoidance of familiarity between the 'parties. 

* Sir John Lubbock supposes the mutual avoidance of mother-in-law 
and son-in-law to be the result of marriage by capture. I venture to think 
that his theory does not account for the facts. 


And when we consider who the parties are, the customs 
explain themselves. It will be seen at a glance from the 
diagram showing the relationships between the First 
generation and the Second that a man's mother-in-law is 
a woman of the same class name with his wife. That 
is, she is one of a class of women who are his wives, 
but she herself is forbidden to him, and must therefore 
keep out of his w^ay, as he on his part must keep out of 
hers. The slightest familiarity between them would be 
indecent — nay more, it would be pollution, bringing down 
who knows what terrible punishment from the Unseen 
Powers. Hence the ludicrous shifts to which these relatives 
resort. Among the Fijians the same mutual avoidance is 
seen between brother and sister, whether they be children 
of the same parents or not. They will not so much as look 
at one another. The word for the relationship between 
them is Ngane, and the verb formed from it means " to 
shun." The Fijian shuns his sister for the same reason 
that an Australian avoids his mother-in-law. She is a 
woman who is specially forbidden to him, and the very 
touch of such a woman would be pollution. These customs 
are powerful aids in enforcing the moral code as it exists 
among such tribes. 

Group relationship also furnishes the reason why a person 
who is adopted into a gens forthwith abandons all the 
relationships of his own gens, and takes those of the gens 
into which he is adopted. Relationship being conceived, 
not between individual and individual, but between group 
and group, the relationships of the group into which he 
enters by adoption must necessarily bind him, as they bind 
all those who are members of it by birth ; and, as necessarily, 
his former relationships must fall from him as he enters 
the new group. This also goes to prove that the 
group relationships are true relationships. We cannot 


suppose that the Iroquois Wolves, for instance, who, 
as Mr. Morgan tells us, were taken into the Hawk gens 
by adoption,* considered their Hawk relationships to be 
unreal, any more than we can suppose that a Roman who 
was adopted looked upon his solemn detestatlo sacrorum, 
and transitio in sacra, as indicating nothing more than a 
change from one " system of addresses " to another. 

Another remarkable proof that the group relationships 
are real to the savage mind presents itself in the well-known 
fact that, in many tribes who have descent through females, 
the son-in-law is bound to provide food for his father-in-law 
in times of peace, and to fight on his side in war. Thus, an 
Australian native cannot do as he pleases with the game he 
kills. He must share it out according to certain established 
rules ; and, in Mr. Howitt's carefully-prepared list of food 
distribution among the Kurnai, we see that the best joints 
are given to the wife's father. That a man has to fight on 
his father-in-law's side has been noticed by several observers 
of savage life among: tribes who have uterine succession : 
and it is worthy of note that this duty still devolves upon 
him in some tribes, who, though they have advanced to 
descent through males, have not yet been able to free them- 
selves from the traditions of the older line. Thus the Rev. 
R. Taylor says of the Maori, who keep records carved in 
wood of long lines of male ancestors, and whose songs carry 
back those lines to the nichts und alles,f that the son-in-law 

* "Ancient Society," p. 81. 

t " Very little, " says the Rev. R. Taylor, "is thought of a chief who 
cannot count back some twenty or thirty generations, and the high families 
carry theirs even to the beginning of all things. I once obtained a pedigree 
of this kind, beginning with na kore i al — from the Nothing the Something 
— which went on gradually introducing name after name, and at last 
terminating with that of the speaker." (" Te Ika a Maui," p. 325.) 

This genealogy begins with The Nothing, whence came, iu orderly sequence, 
the power of increasing, the living breath, the atmosphere, the firmament, 
the heavenly bodies, the dawn, the morning, the day, the earth, the god 


had to go into his father-in-law's Jiapu (clan), and, " in case 
of war, was often obliged to fight against his own relatives."* 

The reason of this custom, and the probability of its 
frequent prevalence among the lower savages, is seen in the 
fact that it is the logical result of their group relationships, 
when descent is through the mother. It is not that a man 
has to leave his own clan, in order to go into his father-in- 
law's, when he marries. He is of his father-in-law's division 
by birth. Thus, if Dog and Snake be the totems, or badges, 
of two intermarrying clans with descent through females, 
the daughter of Dog (male) is Snake, and the son of Snake 
(male) is Dog. This Dog, the son of Snake, marries Snake, 
the daughter of Dog. In other words, father-in-law and 
son-in-law are of the same division. See also the forejroinir 
summary of relationships between the first generation and 
the second (ante, p. 92), where it is shown that Kumite B is 
the son-in-law of Kumite. 

The foregoing considerations will, I think, be admitted as 
a sufficient answer to Mr. M'Lennan's question now to be 
quoted, as well as a sufficient refutation of the strong state- 
ment he makes in his own reply to the question he puts. 
" What duties or rights," he asks, " are aflfected by the 

Eu, and so on, until we come to the exalted mortal at the end of the series. 
Pride in a long pedigree is no mere " ecstasy of the fancy," as Buckle called 
it. It is a " survival in culture" of an old savage notion, -which was 
reasonable enough in its day, when he who was not the full-born descendant 
of full-born ancestors could not even have a place in the clan except on 

* This custom, which may be said to be the rule in Australia among the 
tribes of Kainilaroi organization, was evidently on its way to extinction 
among the Maori. This is manifest from the fact that there was stout 
rebellion against it on the part of the young men, doubtless backed up by 
the agnates. Some of them, witliin Mr. Taylor's knowledge, refused to 
obey the custom, and lost their wives in consequence ; and whenever there 
is so much opposition to an ancient custom among savages, we may be sure 
that a new custom has gained a footing strong enough to afford a sanction 
to the malcontents. (" Te Ika a Maui," p. 3.37.) 


'relationships' comprised in the classificatory system? 
Absolutely none. They are barren of consequences, except, 
indeed, as comprising a code of courtesies and ceremonial 
addresses in social intercourse."* 

Sir John Lubbock sufjcrests that the four intermarrying Lubbock's 

. p theory of 

classes might arise out of marriage by capture among tour the four 
neighbouring tribes, who had the custom of exogamy with 
descent through the mother. 

"After a certain time," he observes, "the result would be that 
each tribe would consist of four septs or clans, re^jresenting the 
original tribes ; and hence we should find communities in which each 
is divided into clans, and a man must always marry a women of 
another clan." (" Origin," &c., p. 87.) 

This is a possible hypothesis, but we have no need to search 
for hypothetical solutions of the question. The Australian 
divisions — which are tangible facts before our eyes at the 
present day — show that the four classes, and the gentes 
also, arose out of two primary divisions by an orderly 
process of evolution, such as might be expected from the 
forces at work. Granted the consanguine family, the 
prohibition of sister-marriage would give us two exogamous 
intermarrying classes — the Queensland Yungaru and Wutaru 
for instance ; and we have seen how these subdivided into 
four, Gurgela, Burbia, Wungo, and Kuberu, and into other 
subdivisions distinguished by totems. 

But, although the primary divisions were subdivided, they 
held all the subdivisions bound by their law. The four 
classes, for instance, are pei-fect in form, but they are not 
independent. They are like two pairs of Siamese twins, 
each individual being fully developed, and yet bound to his 
fellow by an unseverable ligament which prevents inde- 
pendent action. The bond here is the old law, " No 

* "Studies," &c., p. 3C6. 


marriage within either of the primary divisions." If that 
law did not continue to bind the subdivisions, Gurofela, for 
instance, could marry a woman from any one of the three 
remaining subdivisions, whereas he can only marry into the 
other primary division Wutaru, and into one only of its 
subdivisions (Table C). Each of the two primary divisions 
is, in fact, an imperfectly developed curia or i^hratria 
(phratry, as Mr. Morgan sensibly anglicizes it) ; and the 
four classes, as well as the totemic subdivisions, are 
gentes within a phratria. 
The This use of the term " gens " may seem improper to the 

ancient ° -' l r 

Oens. student, before whose mind the word calls up the Greek 
yt'roc and the Roman gens ; but I venture to say, that 
when the social organizations of savaofe tribes are more 
fully understood, it will be seen that their exogamous 
intermarrying class is but the archaic form of the Roman 
gens, that the two are the same institution in different 
stages of growth, as Mr. Morgan has shown in his " Ancient 
Society," and that the same term may be correctly applied 
to both. To secure precision, it may be desirable to make 
a distinction between the gens which, like the Australian, 
has descent through the mother, and that which, like the 
Roman, has agnatic descent. But this is only a question of 
convenient nomenclature. It is not worth while to dispute 
about a mere " question of words and names." Our family 
is not the Roman familia, nor is our household the old 
Teutonic household ; but no one disputes the propriety of 
the terms, whether they be applied to our institutions or to 
those others. 

Professor Hearn, in his admirable work on the " Aryan 
Household," argues correctly that the gens is neither an 
artificial association nor an aggregation of originally inde- 
pendent households ; but he proceeds to assert that it is the 
outcome of a household : — 


" From the simple homogeneous household are evolved numerous 
distinct and related households, which, in the aggregate, form a whole, 
and that whole is the gens." " Aryan Household," p. 168.) 

On the same page, however, we read : — 

*' There were gentes before familite ; and, after familise were known, 
there were gentes without familiar. The clan separated into house- 
holds, but the separate households did not by any voluntary association 
form a clan. " 

I am not sure that I have grasped his meaning here. The 
two statements appear to be contradictory ; for, if the gens 
were evolved from the household, how could there be 
" gentes before familiar ? " Setting this aside, his theory 
seems to be that the gens, or clan, separated into house- 
holds ; and that from some at least of these households — 
sav, from each of those which were successful in the strucjale 
for existence — a gens w^as evolved. These gentes, we may 
suppose, would again separate into households, which would 
again expand into gentes. So that we have an alternate 
series of clans dividing into households, and households 
growing into clans ; but the original " simple homogeneous 
household" at the beginnino- of the series remains 
unaccounted for.* 

Doubtless there were clans so formed after descent came 
into the male line ; but there were clans of an earlier date 
than these. There are gentes among many tribes who have 
descent through females ; and these could not have been 
evolved from a household such as that of which Professor 
Hearn treats in his valuable work ; for there cannot be such 
a household without a house-father, and there cannot 
be a house-father until descent comes to be reckoned 
through males. . The gens, therefore, being older than 

* It should be noted that Professor Hearn expressly disclaims any inten- 
tion of tracing the household back to the remoter past. 


the household, is, d fortiori, older than the gens which 
was evolved from a household. It is as old as the 
first division of an endogamous commune into two 
exogamous intermarrying classes. It is needless to say that 
the gens of the nomad hunters — especially in so early a 
stage of their history as that which the Australian reveals — 
does not coincide with that of the civilized dwellers in 
cities. Like other institutions, it adapted itself to the 
changing conditions through which the races passed as they 
advanced from savagery, or barbarism, to civilization ; but 
it never so far changed its aspect as to be beyond recog- 
nition, and I am persuaded that we shall yet be able to 
trace the successive stages of its development in the present 
usage of savage tribes, if we bestir ourselves to ascertain 
that usage before the tribes are " improved off the face of 
the earth." The great desideratum now is to trace the 
change of descent from the female line to the male.* From 
this point the gens — to use a nautical phrase — " takes a fresh 
departure," and the formation of the household, with its 
ancestral worship, becomes only a question of time. 

Professor Hearn follows De Coulanges in taking ancestral 
worship as the basis of relationship ; but in the earlier form 
of the gens the bond of union was certainly relationship 
and not community of worship. We have instances of 
female eponyms — the Darling River Kilpara and Mukwara 
are such instances — but I know of no case in which worship 
of female ancestors is practised among savage tribes. Mr. 
Morgan observes that the North American Indians, 

"Though they had a polytheistic system not much unlike that from 
which the Greek and the Roman must have sprung, had not attained 
that religious development which was so strongly impressed upon the 
gentes of the latter tribes. It can scarcely be said that any Indian 

* [In the Ktimai we have a community, as it were in the act of change 
from descent in the female to descent in the male line. — A. W. H.] 


gens had special religious rites ; and yet their religious worship had a 
more or less direct connection with the gentes." (" Ancient Society," 
p. 81.) 

I think it can be shown that they could not possibly 
have " attained that religious development," the reason 
being that, with a few exceptions, they had not reached 
descent through the father. 

Ancestral worship seems clearly to have been an outcome 
of descent through males. At all events, there must have 
been this descent before there could be that worship. For, 
since the household gods were the male ancestors, the 
forefathers must have come into the direct line of descent 
before there could be household gods. And, when ancestral 
worship had become established, men worshipped the same 
gods because they were related — because they were descended 
from the same forefathers who had grown into gods. A 
common worship, therefore, was necessarily a mark of 
common descent ; for the gods worshipped were the 
ancestors, and none but their descendants, either by birth 
or by adoption, could offer sacrifices to them. But the 
worship depended on the relationship, not the relationship on 
the worship. The worship was a mark of the relationship : 
the relationship was the cause of the worship. When descent 
comes into the male line, the eponym takes the place of the 
totem, and his subsequent deification is a simple growth.* 

* We cannot draw a line beyond which offerings to the dead cease to be 
mere acts of filial piety, and become acts of worship, pre-supposing deifica- 
tion. The savage does not think that death removes his ancestors entirely 
from him. In some way or other, which he does not trouble himself to 
account for, they are still present with him, even though they have made 
the long journey to Hades, and they are in want of those things which they 
needed in this life. Hence he makes offerings to them of food and other 
useful things, just as he furnishes his living elders with such articles, and 
for the same reason — because they have the claim of kinship upon him. 
But it can scarcely be said that the presentation of such offerings amoiants 
to deification. The ancestors grow into gods, and then what were mere 
acts of filial piety become acts of worship. 


It is true that many persons were brought into the gens 
by adoption ; and so there were men who were in nowise 
related according to our notions of relationship, but who 
nevertheless shared in the common worship. But the gens 
exercised the right of adoption long before it practised 
ancestral worship. The admission, therefore, of the adopted 
to the sacra of the gens could not have been the basis of 
their admission to its relationships. They were admitted 
to those relationships before the sacra were established. 
Amono- tribes who have descent through the mother at the 
present day, the gens has the power of assimilating members 
of other gentes by adoption, and these persons, when 
adopted, necessarily* enter forthwith into all the relation- 
ships belonging to true-born members of the gens.^f* 

The fact that ancestral worship is consequent on the 
change of descent from the female line to the male explains 
the facts that the household god is always a male, and that 
the celebration of his worship is limited to males. Professor 
Hearn observes — 

"It is remarkable that the house spirit is always masculine." 
("Aryan Household," p. 148.) 

And again — 

" Admitting the worship of the house spirit, why was that spirit a 
male, and never a female ? Why, too, was the celebration of his 
worship always limited to males ? Until an answer can be given to 
these (luestions, our explanation of the subject, although it may be 
true as far as it goes, is obviously incomplete." {Ibid., p. 103.) 

The answers to these questions seem to me to be very 
simple, and to be clearly given by the laws of marriage and 

* See page 104. 

t [It seoins to me that the formal presentation of female captives to the 
head man and a council of elders in the Gournditch-mara tribe before 
being given to their future husbands, points strongly to adoption. — See 
Part II., Appendix F.— A.W.H.] 


descent. Let M and N be two intermarrying gentes, three 
generations being represented, the males by capitals, and the 
females by small letters, while the successive descents are 
noted by figures. Descent is in the male line. 













When the marriages take place, m, m^, m- — that is, all 
the women of M efens — go over in marrias:e to N ofens : 
n, n^, n^ go over to M gens, and the gentes become — 

M n N m 

M» n' N' ml 

M* n^ N^ m^" 

Each gens, therefore, consists of males who are married 
to women of another gens. The women forfeit their own 
agnatic rights without acquiring similar rights in the gens 
of their husbands. They abandon their own line of descent 
without gaining a place in the other line. If any one of 
them do not marry, she may remain in her own gens, but 
she cannot transmit its blood. She cannot have a legitimate 
child, and therefore she cannot become an ancestor. The 
gens, therefore, virtually consists of males alone. Hence it 
is manifest that, since the ancestors are the household gods, 
the house spirit can be none other than a male, for all the 
female members are of another gens. For the same reason 
the celebration of his worship is necessarily limited to 
males. The only females who could join in that worship 
by right of birth forfeited their birthright by marrying 
into another gens ; and none but males are left to make the 
offering. " No female," says Professor Hearn, " is counted 



in the line of descent, because no offering is made to a 
female ancestor." But the fact is that no female is counted 
in the line of descent for the sufficient reason that no 
female can possibly be in that line when descent is through 
males. Every female ancestor was a woman of another 
line, and therefore no offering could be made to her. 

But though this is known to have been the rule among 
Aryan nations, it is probable that there was a time in their 
history when females, and not males, were reckoned as the 
ancestors. It is certain that some of those nations formerly 
counted descent through the mother; and further investiga- 
tion will, I think, show a strong probability that this was 
the general rule. At all events, it can be proved that tribes 
with whose present usage our forefathers Avould find 
themselves quite at home, advanced from that rule to the 
reofulations now in force anions them. The more advanced 
Fijian tribes, for instance, have descent through males, 
agnatic relationship, and ancestral worship. They have 
village communities consisting of clans which are made up 
of households. They have the mark, of which each clan, 
and each household, knows its share. Within the l-oro, or 
village, they have the precinct under the dominion of the 
house father, often surrounded by its own fence, and the 
position of its house, or houses, regulated by the allowance 
for eavesdrip. In short, their status and regulations might 
be set forth in terms which would roughly serve for the 
Aryan tribes. And it is beyond question that they formerly 
had descent through females. Unmistakable marks of 
that line of descent are to be seen even on the most 
advanced tribes ; others still bring the sister's son into 
the line of succession, while others again are divided 
into two exogamous intermarrying classes with descent 
through the mother, like the Kurnite and Kroki of South 


The Kamilaroi marriage with the paternal half-sister is The 
specially interesting in that it affords an instance of rebellion mkniage 
against the class law. It is a partially-successful assertion half-sister. 
of the independent right of a gens to choose its own wives 
where it will, provided always that it go beyond its own 
boundaries in choosing them. We should not have 
expected to find it among savages of so low a type as the 
Australian ; for, as far as it goes, it is a defiance of the rule 
which was long obeyed by the gentes even in nations of a 
high culture. It is marriage within a phratria. 

It will be observed that this innovation of the Kamilaroi 
can result in marriage with the half-sister by the father's 
side only where descent is reckoned through the mother. 
For where descent is through the father, the wife comes 
(though only by a legal fiction) into her husband's gens, 
and her children are born into that gens. Consequently 
the half-sister must be of the same gens with her half- 
brother, and the Australian law forbids their marriage. 
Ipai-Emu marries his half-sister Ipatha-Blacksnake 
(Table E). But if descent were in the male line, this 
woman could not be his paternal half-sister, for his father 
would be Emu, while her father would be Blacksnake. The 
Kamilaroi marriage with the half-sister, therefore, involves 
descent through the mother. And wherever we find 
marriage with the 2')citernal half-sister, in conjunction with 
descent through the father, it seems probable that we 
may suspect it to be a survival of the older regulation. 

Special attention is called to these marriages because Sir 
John Lubbock founds on them what seems to me to be a 
mistaken argument against Mr. Morgan's theory. In his 
" Origin of Civilization," he remarks : — 

"Morgan also considers exogamy as explainable, and only explain- 
able, as a reformatory movement to break vip the marriage of blood 
relations, and wliicli could only be effected by exogamy, because all 


tlie tribe were regarded as related. In fact, however, exogamy 
affords little protection against the marriage of relatives ; and, 
wherever it was systematized, it permitted marriage even between 
half-brothers and sisters, either on the father's or the mother's side. 
Where an objection to the marriage of relatives existed, exogamy was 
unnecessary ; where it did not exist, exogamy could not arise. " 
(p. 100). 

It is true that where no " objection to the marriage of 
relatives existed," exogamy could not rise — at least it would 
not be likely to arise spontaneously ; but I fail to under- 
stand how it could be " unnecessary " where such an 
objection did exist. For how^ could that objection take 
effect without exogamy, that is, without a law compelling 
men to seek their wives outside the group to wdiich they 
themselves belonged ? And, since that group was composed 
of their nearest kin, how can it be said that such a law 
" afforded little protection against the marriage of relatives?" 
The only ground for the assertion is the permission of 
marriage with the half-sister ; and even this appears to be 
overstated. It is true that it has been permitted by some 
exogamous tribes, but it is a mistake to say that it has 
been allowed " wdierever exogamy was systematized." 
Many exogamous tribes do not permit it. 

But it is not easy to make out what Sir John Lubbock 
means l)y exogamy. On page 98 of his work already 
quoted, he remarks : — 

" Mr. M'Lennan's theory seems to me to be quite inconsistent with 
the existence of tribes which have marriage by capture, and yet 
are endogamous. The Bedouins, for instance, have unmistakably 
marriage by capture, and yet a man has a right to marry his cousin." 

Sir John, therefore, looks upon marriage with the female 
cousin as endogamy, whereas it is strictly exogamous. For 
a Bedouin may not marry those cousins of his — according to 
our system — who are the daughters of his mother's sisters 
or his father's brothers. The marriageable cousin is the 


daugliter of his mother's brother or of his father's sister, and 
is, therefore, neither of his gens nor of his phratria — using 
these terms for the sake of convenience. Under the 
Turanian system, which is exogamous, she is none other 
than his wife — i.e., a woman whom he may take to wife. 
(See Kamilaroi Mar., chap, iv., prop, xii.) 

The fact is, that Mr. M'Lennan's terms, endogamy and Endogamy 
•exogamy — though very convenient, if properly used — are Exogamy. 
apt to be dangerously misleading, and require careful defini- 
tion. The former is an obligation to marry within a certain 
^roup of persons ; the latter is an obligation to marry 
without the group. But what is the group ? If we are to 
understand it as a constant, well and good. Only, let its 
boundaries be defined, so that we may know what we have 
to deal with. The gi-oiq^, however, is not a constant. It 
varies ; and the range of the terms — the area to which they 
^pply — varies with its variations. Sujoposing, for instance, 
a tribe to be an undivided commune — i.e., to have communal 
marriao;e between all its men and women of the same 
generation — then the whole tribe would be endogamous. 
If it splits up into two intermarr3dng classes, like Kumite 
and Kroki, it is still endogamous qua tribe ; but endogamy 
can no longer be said to be its law of marriage, for it is 
composed of two strictly exogamous divisions. 

A division subdivides into gentes. We may now speak 
•of it as a phratria. As long as it holds its gentes 
bound by the phratriac bond, it continues to be exo- 
gamous ; for all its gentes must marry into the other 
phratria. But if, in the course of time, each gens 
establish its right to marry anywhere beyond its own 
bounds, then the gentes are still exogamous, while the 
phratria is neither endogamous nor exogamous. There is 
no longer an obligation to marry either within it or without 
it. Each of its members can marry either within its limits 


or without them, as he pleases, only he must go beyond his 
own gens in his choice of a wife. And, still farthei', when 
father's brothers and mother's sisters come to be looked 
upon as uncles and aunts, instead of fathers and mothers, 
the " collateral" or " tribal" brothers and sisters turn into 
marriageable first cousins, and the exogamy of even the 
gens is done away with — nay, the gens itself disappears, and 
exogamy is confined to the family. But this brings us 
down to our own maiTiage law ; whereas it is with the 
Australian that we are now concerned, and with the question 
as to whether its exogamous law could suffice as a " reforma- 
tory movement to break up the marriage of blood relations.'^ 
That it would so suffice has, I venture to think, been 
sufficiently proved. The law required by Mr. Morgan's 
theory is identical with that of the Australian classes. 
" Kumite must not marry Kumitegor ;" and this rule most 
unquestionably prohibits the marriage of all kinsfolk nearer 
than first cousins. Nay, more, it excludes even those first 
cousins, according to our own system, who are the children 
of father's brothers or of mother's sisters. It alloAvs no 
union which is prohibited by our law, and it bars marriage 
between many persons whom we do not reckon to be in 
anywise akin. 
Distiuc- The Australian classes show the development of the 

tion be- . „,.,.. 

tweenreia- classificatory system of kinship with descent through the 
through mother, but they take us no farther. They throw no light 
and on the change of descent from the female line to the male, 

throuf-h Sir John Lubbock considers this system to be a sort of 
fcma es. intermediate stage between the two lines of descent. 

"In North America," he observes, "the system of relationshi2> 
through females prevails among the rude races of the north. Farther 
south we find a curious, and so to say intermediate, system among the 
Irocjuois and Hurons, to whom, as Mr. Morgan has shown, we may 
add tlie Tamils of India. A man's brother's children are reckoned aa 
his children, but his sister's children are his nephews and nieces ; while 


a woman's brother's children are her nephews and nieces, and her 
sister's chiklren are her children." (" Origin," etc., p. 127). 

Farther on he remarks : — 

" We cannot dismiss these peculiarities as mere accidents, but must 
regard them as similar, though i^eculiar, views on the subject of 

There seems to be a confusion here between relationsJiip 

through females and descent through females. Thus, on 

p. 127 we read — 

" Relationship to the father at first excludes that to the mother ; 
and, from being regarded as no relationship to the former, children 
come to be looked upon as none to the latter." 

A like statement is found in Mr. M'Lennan's " Primitive 
Marriage," which, as Mr. Morgan points out — 

"Asserts that this kinship {i.e., kinship through females), where it 
prevailed, was the only kinship recognized." ("Ancient Society," 
p. 515.) 

But descent through the mother does not exclude personal 
relationship to the father, or to any other relative. Nor 
does descent through the father exclude personal relation- 
ship to the mother, or to any other relative. In fact, the 
line of descent does not at all affect the personal relation- 
ships. Thus, the relationships of the Seneca-Iroquois, who 
have descent through the mother, coincide in every im- 
portant particular, save one, with those of the Fijians, who 
have descent through the father. The point of difference 
between the two lines is this. With descent through the 
mother, the child is not of the father's class, but of the 
mother's — e.g., Kumite's son is not Kumite : he is Kroki, 
after his mother Krokigor (Table A). With descent 
through the father, he must be of the father's class. But 
though what may be called the gentile relationship is 
different, father and son being of the same gens when 
descent is in the male line, and of different gentes when it 


is in the female line, the personal relationship between 
father and son, indicated by the terms of kinship, is the 
same in both cases. The " relationships of the Iroquois and 
Hurons," some of which appear to Sir John Lubbock to 
indicate kinship through males, while others point to 
kinship through females, have no such significance. They 
are (as has been proved in Kamilaroi Mar., chap, iv., props, 
i., ii., iii., and iv.) the necessary result of the division of a 
tribe into exogamous intermarrying classes, whether descent 
be in the male line or the female. This is what Sir John 
speaks of as — 

*' A curious system, founded on peculiar views of the subject of 

Those views can hardly be said to be " peculiar," for they 
are of a world-wide prevalence, as he himself has shown by 
his carefully-gathered list of widely scattered tribes whose 
relationships are governed by similar views ; and the 
system can appear " curious " only as long as we fail to 
perceive its fundamental principle. It is clear and simple 
and logical throughout. 

The assertion that " relationship to the father excludes 
that to the mother " has been repeated by Professor 
Hearn : — 

"Uterine succession," he observes, "that is, succession through 
the mother alone, ignores kinship through the father, just as agnation 
ignores kinship through the mother." (" Aryan Household," p. 151.) 

If by kinship here we are to understand membership in 
the same gens — using the terms, for want of a better, to 
denote any exogamous tribal subdivision — the assertion is 
quite true. But if the assertion be that uterine succession 
ignores all relationships through the father, and that agna- 
tion ignores all relationships through the mother, I venture 
to maintain that it is incorrect. It rests on the assumption 


that there are no relationships excepting those which are 
within the gens, whereas we find, in the languages of many- 
tribes which are organized in gentes, specific terms in 
constant use for relationships other than these. 

If " kinship " be taken in its narrower — and, indeed, its 
strictly correct — sense, as membership in the same tribal 
division, then relationship is wider than kinship; for, in 
addition to the relationships between the members of the 
same gens, there are also relationships between them and 
the members of the gens, or gentes, with which their gens 
intermarries. None of all these relationships are in any- 
wise dependent on the line of descent. They are precisely 
the same whether the rule be " agnation " or " uterine 
succession." Where descent is through the father, males 
only are in the direct line of succession : where descent is 
through the mother, females only are in that line. In 
other words — using the term "cognate" in a restricted 
sense, as contrasted with " agnate " — descent through the 
father brings the agnates alone into the gens as abiding 
Tiiemhers of it : descent through the mother brings the 
cognates only ; but all the relationships, whether those 
within the gens, or those between the intermarrying gentes, 
are the same in both cases. In each case there is relation- 
ship between agnates and cognates, as well as between 
agnates and agnates and between cognates and cognates. 

This may be shown directly to the eye by the diagram of 
the two intermarrying gentes M and N, before given. 
Whether descent be in the male line or the female, M 
marries n, and N marries m. The marriages, with the first 
descents, are as follows : — 

Descent tliroiujli Males. Descent throufjh Females. 

M n N m M n N m 

M' n^ N> n^ N^ n' M^ m' 


In both cases husband and wife are of different ^rentes, 
for no maiTiagc can take place within a gens while the gens 
is exogainous. In the former case father and child are of 
the same gens, while mother and child are of different 
gentes. In the latter case mother and child are of 
the same gens, while father and child are of different 
gentes. But the relationships are the same in both cases — 
not only those between parents and children, but all the 
others also. In the language of every tribe which has the 
Turanian system of kinship there are specific terms for the 
relationships which each member of one gens bears to the 
members of the other, as well as for those in the same line 
of descent. 

The plea of Orestes before the Areopagus has been often 
quoted in proof that there is no relationship between 
mother and child when descent is reckoned through males. 
The argument is stated by Sir John Lubbock in the 
following words (I italicize the words on which the 
argument depends) : — 

" Orestes asks the Erinnyes why they did not punish Clytem- 

nestra for the murder of Agamemnon ; and, when they reply that 
marriage does not constitute blood relationship — ' She was not the 
kindred of the man she slew ' — he pleads that by the same rule they 
cannot touch him, because a man is a 7'elation to his father, but not to 
his mother. This view, which seems to us so unnatural, was supported 
by Apollo and Minerva ; and, being adopted by a majority of the 
gods, led to the acquittal of Orestes." (" Origin," &c., p. 129.) 

The wording of the original is as follows (Eum. 573, 
Camb. Texts) :— 

OP. Ti h'ovK tKelirji' 4w(T«>' ij\uv)ec <pvyi] ; 
XO. oiiK )'/)' uf.MiiJ.oc (pioTuc (ly KartKrai'Ef. 
OP. eyw ^£ fnjrpvg tTjc ff-iijc £^' a'lfiari j 

It appears to me that Orestes does not here deny 
relationship to his mother. He simply repudiates mem- 


hershi}-) in the same gens with her, and thereby raises a very 
interesting legal point* The charge brought against him 
by the Erinyes was not a charge of matricide qua, 
matricide. Had it been so, his plea of justification as 
the avenger of blood would have been amply sufficient. 
They charged him with having killed a member of his own 
gens, and only on this ground could they have any hold 
upon him. Their case depended upon their establishing 
this point, and it was on this point that their case broke 
down. For it was not with all cases of homicide that they 
had to deal. Those only in which the slayer was ofiaifxoc of 
the slain came within their jurisdiction. The whole gens- 
was the body corporate, in whose veins flowed the common 
blood. The shedding of that blood by a member of another 
gens and therefore of another aifxa, was simple homicide, 
with which they were not concerned. Hence their justifi- 
cation of themselves for not punishing Klytemnestra. But 
the shedding of that blood by a member of the gens was 
something more than man-slaying. It was impious 
homicide — a vital injury inflicted on the body corporate by 
one who was a part of that body, and therefore bound to 
defend it against injury, and to revenge it when injured. 
Even when it was accidental, it called upon the Erinyes for 
vengeance, which could only be averted by expiation and 
purification. And the reason why it called upon them 

* I am gratified by observing that Mr. M'Lennan's interpretation of 
Orestes' case is substantially one with my own. " The basis ofthesnit," 
he remarks, "is the claim of the Erinnyes to the right of punishing: 
matricides. This was their function by special ordination, as representing 
a time when kinship through the mother was unquestioned." ("Studies," 
&c. , p. 258.) Mr. M'Lennan, however, looks upon that function as 
conferred by " sjjecial ordination," whereas my theory is that it ai'ose 
directly out of the constitution of the gens. I may say here that tliis part 
of my own MS. was written more than a year before I saw Mr. M'Lennan's 
work, and that my references to it in the first part of these memoirs were 
quotations at second hand. 


seems to me to be as follows. When every gens had to 
pursue its owti blood feud, there was a difficulty in the way 
of punishing a murderer who had killed a member of his 
own gens. For, with descent through males, the avenger of 
blood was the brother or the son of the deceased ; with 
descent through females, he was the brother or the sister's 
son. In both cases, therefore, he was of the same gens with 
the criminal, who was consequently out of his reach. He 
could not kill him without bringing upon himself the guilt 
of sheddinof the blood of his own fjens. Hence, man beincf 
powerless, the gods had to step in. This seems to be the 
reason why the offences which made a man sacer — 
obnoxious to the wrath of the gods — were all, directly or 
indirectly, of this kind, i.e., offences against the body 
corporate by a member of that body. If this view be 
correct — I advance it under submission to the judgment of 
competent scholars — it seems to weigh strongly in favour 
of the reading cpofov instead of foiy in v. 573. The argument 
of the Erinyes is that Klytemnestra being, as they main- 
tained, ofiaifioc of her son, was " exempt from slaughter" at 
his hand. 

The plea of Orestes is twofold, and he certainly conducts 
his case with great skill. First, he pleads justification of 
his act on the ground that he had done no more than his 
bounden duty as the avenger of blood. 

aiCf)OKTU>vv(Ta irarip i^ur Karitcrayev. 

The Erinyes meet this with the rejoinder that Klytem- 
nestra was beyond his reach as the avenger — she was iXevdepa 
•<p6i'ov as far as he was concerned. He then pleads that the 
offence with which they charged him was not the impious 
liomicide which came within their province, thus cutting 
away from under them the ground on which they based 
their arerument. Havinsf dra^^^l from them the admission 


that Klytemnestra's crime did not fall within their jufisdic- 
tion, because she was not vfiatfioc of the man she slew, he 
pleads that he is not ofuufxog of the woman he killed, and 
therefore they can have nothini^ to do with him. The 
Erinyes in vain repel this plea with horror. They persist 
in speaking- of tu f^rfrpoc aJ^it' oj-iaif-iov : and, when the 
verdict is given against them, they rave furiously twice 
in the same words against tlie innovating gods who have 
overridden and trampled upon the ancient laws. 

And indeed, according to those ancient laws, their view 
was the right one. For, if we may believe the legend of 
Cecrops to be founded on fact, descent was formerly through 
the mother at Athens ; and, with descent in that line, as 
already shown, mother and son were ofiai/doi, though husband 
and wife were not. That is to say, mother and child were 
of the same yet'oc, while husband and wife w^ere of different 
yevT). But, descent having changed to the male line, those 
laws were no longer in force, and Orestes was acquitted. 
The Erinyes found, to their infinite disgust, that they had 
prosecuted him under an act which had been set aside by 
another of more recent date. 

In studying this interesting case we have to set aside our 
own idea of " blood relationship." The aljua* here indicates 
no more than the line of descent, the 6i.iaii.ioi being the 
ao-nates because descent is through the father. The case 
turns on the question as to whether Orestes and Klytem- 
nestra are of the same gens,i* and this is not necessarily a 

* The choice of the wife of Intaphernes is a case in point. Darius having 
offered to spare one of her relatives whom she might select, she chose her 
brother in preference to her husband or her children. With descent 
through males he was of her of/trt, but these were not. 

t I am indebted to my friend, the Rev. J. G. Eraser, M.A., for calling 
my attention to the following passage, with regard to the Duchess of 
Suffolk's case, in "Tristram Shandy" (iv., c. 29) : — "The judges of the 
consistory and prerogative courts of Canterbury and York, together with 
the master of the faculties, were all unanimously of opinion that the 


question as to personal relationship, because there are 
relationships beyond the gens as well as within it. 

Professor Hearn's " theory of agnation " is that it was 
"a consequence of the doctrine of worship in the male line," 
and that " this doctrine was founded on the common belief 
that a child proceeds from the father alone, and that the 
mother supplies to it nutriment and gives it birth, but 
nothing more." ("Aryan Household," p. 1G3.) But, when 
Euripides represented Orestes as defending himself on this 
ground, and made him say, after going into certain par- 

cii'ev de TrarpuQ tikioi' ovi: e'tr] ttot' I'ly — 

/"Orestes, 547J 

he only provoked ridicule. One can imagine the shout of 
laughter with which the interpolated query must have been 
received — 

cii'tv Ce fXTjTpug ttuiq Kadapjj. ILvpiTiCt] , 

if, indeed, this were not an afterthought of those wicked 
wags who so cruelly persecuted the unhappy poet. 

Father and son are none the less related as father and 
son because they are of different gentes, when descent is 
reckoned throug-h females. Mother and child are none the 
less related as mother and child because they are of different 
gentes, when descent is reckoned through males ; whence it 
appears that Sir John Lubbock's sequence (" Origin," &c., 
p. 130)— 

First, a child is related to its tribe generally j 
Secondly, to its mother, and not to its father ; 

mother was not of kin to her child. But what said the Duchess of Suffolk 
to it ? asked my uncle Tobj'." 

We cannot always tell without examination whether Sterne is dealing 
with facts, or only playing with fancies ; and our lawyers would do a good 
deed if they would tell us whether there were anything in English laws at 
the time to which he refers, on which the civil doctors could base that 
opinion. If any such thing can be found, it will be of great interest. 


Thirdly, to its father, and not to its mother ; 
Lastly, and lastly only, to both father and mother — may 
"be stated more correctly as follows : — 

1. A child stands in a filial relation to the whole genera- 
tion next above it, because the tribe is a commune, and is 
not yet divided into intermarrying gentes. 

2. The child is of its mother's gens, not of its father's, 
because the tribe is now divided into exogamous inter- 
marrying gentes, and descent is through the mother. 

3. The child is of the father's gens, not of the mother's, 
because descent has changed to the male line. 

4. The family has superseded the gens, and father, 
mother, and child are of the same family. 

Relationship depends, not on the line of descent, but on Marriage 
the law of marriage ; and. therefore, if we would understand contract, 
the ideas of relationship which are in the mind of a savage, status. 
such as the Australian, we must clearly understand his idea 
of marriage. Bachofen supposes that descent through the 
mother arose out of a rebellion against communal marriage 
on the part of the women, who successfully established 
their rights as against those of the men ; and Sir John 
Lubbock, while dissenting from that view, on the ground 
that " savage women would be peculiai'ly unlikely to uphold 
their dignity in the manner supposed," says, " It seems to 
me perfectly clear that the idea of marriage is founded on 
the rights, not of the woman, but of the man ;" and he 
quotes " the complete subjection " of the women among the 
Australian blacks in support of his opinion. 

Both these views appear to be based upon our own idea 
of marriage as a contract between the parties. But the 
idea of marriage under the classificatory system of kinship 
is founded on the rights neither of the woman nor of the 
man. It is founded on the rights of the tribe, or rather of 
the classes into which the tribe is divided. Class marriasfe 


is not a contract entered into by two parties. It is a 
natural state into which both parties are horn, and they 
have to be content with that state whereunto they are 
called. Kumite's consent has no more to do with hi-s 
marriaoe to Krokifjor than it had to do with the sex 
wherewith he found himself endowed when he came into 
the world. Just as he was born a male, so was he born 
Krokigor's husband. What has he to do with the marriage 
contract ? It is between the classes, and was made ages 
ago by the far-away ancestors. It binds all the members 
of the community, and lays hold upon them as soon as they 
draw in their earliest breath of life. 
The social The Australian classes ffive a clear view of that tribal 
idea which lies at the root of land tenure, inheritance, and 
so many other important questions. The individual is not 
recognized. He has no independent rights. He has, so to 
speak, no independent existence. He is, in fact, not a 
perfect individual, but only an insignificant part of one. 
And in the tribal divisions and subdivisions we see what 
appears to be a steady progress towards the individualizincj 
of the individual (if the phrase may be allowed), with a 
continued struofgle against the old tribal law along all the 
line. First, the whole tribe, in its corporate capacity, may 
perhaps have been the individual holding all rights vested 
in itself. Whether it were so or not, we have it clearly 
before us, separated into two corporate bodies with par- 
tially independent rights ; and we can follow the process of 
segmentation throughout the minor subdivisions, until at 
length we come to the civilized man with his personal 
rights and possessions, and his gospel of political economy 
teaching him that self-seeking on the part of the individual 
must result in the greatest good of the greatest number. 
There is something in the law of his old savage forefathers 
which it were well for him to take with him in his onward 


march. It would have saved him a great deal of trouble if 
he had not left it behind. > 

The Australian resfulations explain the inheritance of the Inheri- 

, . . . t<iuce of 

sister s son, which Sir John Lubbock calls " the curious the sister's 
practice that a man's heirs are not his own, but his sister's, 
children," and which he says " we are able to understand," 
because change of wife is of so frequent occurrence among 
the lower races that " the tie between a mother and child 
is much stronger than that which binds a child to its 
father." (" Origin," &c., p. 120.) 

This kind of inheritance arises directly from tribal sub- 
divisions organized like the Australian, i.e., with descent in 
the female line. Kumite's children cannot inherit from 
Kumite because they are not of the Kumite class. They 
are Kroki. The inheritance falls to the children of his 
sister Kumitegor, because they are Kumite. And this rule 
remains in force through all the subdivisions as lonsc as 
descent continues to be in the female line. With descent 
through males, the children come into their father's gens 
and inherit from him. 

And, moreover, the inheritance is inalienable. The entire 
estate is a public estate, and it is strictly entailed. It is 
held by the whole community, but no generation so holding 
it is the absolute owner. Each generation holds in trust 
for the next, and it cannot alienate the estate even by 
common consent of the whole generation, for its property 
in the estate is no more than a life interest. This is the 
ancient rule. Is our own an improvement upon it ? 



Mr. M'Lennan's Theory of the Rise of Kinship — Of Female Infanticide — 
Of Exogamous Tribes and Marriage by Capture — Of Polyandry — Sir 
Jolm Lubbock's Theory of Individual Marriage — Of Expiation for 
Marriage — The Group is the Social Unit as regards Marriage — 
Degradation Theory — Conclusion — Appendix C — Female Infanticide. 

The system of kinship, called by Mr. Morgan the Turanian, 
has been shown to be the logical outcome of the presence 
in a community of exogamous intermarrying divisions : 
these, upon examination, were found to consist of certain 
homogeneous groups ; and, taking each group as a unit, it 
was shown that the relationships between group and group 
are precisely those which would arise and continue between 
individuals among ourselves if marriage were between 
certain first cousins, and continued from generation to gene- 
ration between pairs of their descendants. 

The groups represented by these cousins are found in 
many tribes at the present day ; the terms of kinship 
appropriate to them are in constant use ; and if, taking the 
groups as single units, we examine the relationship of any 
one group to another, we find that the term proper to that 
degree is used between all the members of the groups. 
Hence the terms of relationship, as they are heard in daily 
use, point out the groups ; and the groups, taken as units, 
explain the raison d'etre of the terms. It now remains for 
us to consider more fully the principal objections which 
have been advanced to Mr. Morgan's theory, and briefly to 
recapitulate the main conclusions which may be drawn 
from what has been advanced in these memoirs. 


Mr. M'Lennan, who denies that the terms have anything 
whatever to do with relationship, has attempted a full 
explanation of them as a sequel to his review of Mr. 
Morgan's hypothesis, which he considers to be of an 
" utterly unscientific character." Having absorbed the bane 
of an utterly unscientific theory throughout so many pages 
of these memoirs, let us now apply ourselves to the exami- 
nation of a scientific hypothesis by way of antidote. 

Though Mr. M'Lennan opens his eighth chapter with the Mi-.M-Len- 
assertion that " the earliest human groups can have had no theory of 
idea of kinship," yet in the very next paragraph he finds kinship. 
himself compelled to call one of those groups " a group of 
kindred." This seeming contradiction he explains on the 
supposition that the apparent bond which united the mem- 
bers of such a group was one of fellowship only, arising 
from the fact that " they and theirs had always been com- 
panions in war or the chase — joint tenants of the same grove 
or cave." And yet he tells us that " they were held together 
by a feeling of kindred." Here, then, we have a group of 
early savages who have "a feeling of kindred" strong enough 
to hold them together, but who have "no idea of kinship." 

It is possible that Mr. M'Lennan makes here, in his own 
mind, a distinction between " a feeling of kindred " and an 
" idea of kinship " which is not clear to mine. His meaning 
may be that the early savages felt they were related, and 
yet did not perceive lioiv they were related. This I gather 
from his previous remark that " at the root of kinship is a 
physical fact, which could be discerned only through 
observation and reflection — a fact, therefore, which must for 
a time have been overlooked." Since this fact is the suffi- 
ciently obvious one that a child proceeds from its mother, 
it is not easy to understand the absolute necessity for its 
having been overlooked even for a time, however short. 
The mother, at all events, would scarcely fail to perceive it. 


The process by which the early savage arrived at his 
system of kinship through females is given by Mr. M'Lennan 
as follows : — Having '" perceived the fact of consanguinity 
in the simplest case — namely, that he had his mother's 
blood in his veins " — he quickly came to see that he was of 
the same blood with her other children. A little more 
reflection then enabled him to observe that he was of one 
blood with the brothers and sisters of his mother. On 
further thought he perceived that he was of the same blood 
with the children of his mother's sister. And in course of 
time, following the ties of blood through his mother and 
females of her blood, he arrived at a complete system of 
kinship through females. This is the process, stated very 
nearly in Mr. M'Lennan's own words. {" Studies," &c., p. 124.) 

Now. though it is a great mistake to say that savages do 
not reason, they certainly do not reason in this way. They 
reason by deduction, not by induction. They do not put 
together a number of separate facts, and draw from them a 
general conclusion. Some large fact, involving a general 
principle, tills their minds, and they accept its logical con- 
sequences, clinging to them long after they have ceased to 
be able to carry them out in everyday life, with a persistence 
which is often ludicrous, and sometimes even pathetic. 
The consequences of that leading fact are, as it were, a line 
of rails to them. As long as it lasts they go on smoothly 
enough ; but when it fails them — then, unless they are 
" shunted off" to another line, they are helpless. A striking 
case in point is that of the Kurnai. They are a tribe of 
savasfcs off the rails. 

The group relationships arising from the marriage of the 
exogamous divisions are precisely what the savage would 
perceive and adopt, while Mr. M'Lennan's process of 
reasoning would be altogether foreign to his mind. He did 
not piece together his system of kinship out of the various 


degrees of relationship as he perceived them one by one. 
Paradoxical as it may sound, it was his system of relation- 
ship which gave him his degrees of relationship. 

Mr. M'Lennan's method of accounting for those relation- 
ships on the basis of polyandry* seems to be even more 
unsatisfactory than is the process of reasoning by which he 
represents the savage as arriving at their perception. 
Indeed, a very strong case can, I think, be made out against 
his entire theory of polyandry as a system of marriage. 
And since this is closely interwoven with his hypotheses as 
to female infanticide, exogamy, and marriage by capture, it 
will be necessary to devote some little space to the con- 
sideration of them all. 

Mr. M'Lennan states his case concisely in the following 
words : — 

" We believe this restriction on marriage (exogamy) to be connected 
with the practice in early times of female infanticide, which, rendering 
women scarce, led at once to polyandry within the tribe, and to the 
capturing of women from without." (" Studies," &c., p. 111.) 

" If it can be shown, firstly, that exogamous tribes exist, or have 
existed ; and, secondly, that in rude times the relations of separate 
tribes are uniformly, or almost uniformly, hostile, we have found a 
set of circumstances in which men could get wives only by capturing 
them ; a social condition in which capture would be the necessary 
preliminary to marriage." (" Studies," &c., p. 42.) 

After advancing his proofs of the foregoing conditions, he 
remarks — 

" We now confidently submit that the conditions required for this 
inference are amply established." (" Studies," &c., p. 109.) 

This gives the following sequence : — 

1. Female infanticide was the general practice among 
savages, and resulted in a scarcity of women ; so causing 
polyandry and marriage by capture. 

* Origin of the Classificatory System of Relationships. ("Studies," &c., 
pp. 372-407.) 


2. The tribe having thus taken to capturing women, 
acquired the habit of so doing, and became exogamous. 

3. Exogamy having thus grown into a law, and neigh- 
bouring tribes being, as a rule, hostile to one another, men 
could get their wives no otherwise than by capturing them. 

Which may be fairly summed up as follows : — 

Female infanticide causes marriage by capture. 
Marriage by capture causes exogamy. 
Exogamy causes marriage by capture. 
I cannot suppose this to have been Mr. M'Lennan's 
meaning, but I have failed to perceive any other. 

Two things, however, are clear as forming the basis on 
which his theory stands — 

First, that " female infanticide " was the general practice 
among the " primary hordes ;" in other words, that they 
killed many more female children than male. 

And, second, that exogamous tribes existed under " cir- 
cumstances in which men could get wives only by capturing 
them ;" in other words, that these tribes could not marry 
anyiuhere ^vithin their own boundaries, and were conse- 
quently driven to capture their wives, there being no 
possibility of friendly intermarriage with other tribes. 
Let us now test this basis, and see whether it be secure. 
Female in- It is well known that infanticide is a very common 

fanticide. i i i • , ■, it . . 

practice among savage and barbaric tribes ; and the opinion 
seems to prevail that " female infanticide " — the killing of 
female children rather than male — is the general rule. This 
opinion is undoubtedly correct as to many tribes, but I 
venture to suggest that it needs reconsideration as far as 
the loiuer savages are concerned, and it is with them that 
the theory now under consideration has to do. I think it 
will be found that the practice is far less common with 
them than it is with the more advanced tribes. And for 
this reason — 


Savages are perfectly logical people in their own way, 
and do not act without a motive, which, to their minds at 
least, is a sufficient one. So thoroughly have I been con- 
vinced of this by my sixteen years' residence among them 
and observation of their ways, that I do not hesitate to 
assert that, whenever their acts appear capricious to us, we 
may be quite sure there is something hidden from us in 
which lies what to them is a sufficient motive. Now, the 
savajxe has no hesitation in killings his infant children, whether 
male or female, if they be in his way, but he does not kill any 
one of them for the mere sake of killing ; and he certainly 
would not kill his daughters rather than his sons without a 
sufficient motive. Is such a motive to be found among the 
lower savages ? 

The reasons usually given for female infanticide are thus 
stated by Sir John Lubbock : — 

" Female children became a source of weakness in various ways. 
They ate and did not hunt. They weakened their mothers while 
young, and, when grown up, were a temptation to surrounding 
tribes." ("Origin," &c., p. 108.) 

To the same effect Mr. M'Lennan observes : — 

" To tribes surrounded by enemies and, unaided by art, contending 
with the difficulties of subsistence, sons were a source of strength both 
for defence and in quest of food, daughters a source of weakness." 
(" Studies," &c. p. 111.) 

The motive here advanced is that females are an encuvi- 
hrance to savages ; and for this four reasons are given : — 

1. They "weaken their mothers while young." 

2. They " eat and do not hunt " — i.e., they are food 

consumers and not food providers. 

3. They are "a source of weakness" as regards defence 

— i.e., they are in the way in war time. 

4. They are " a temptation to surrounding tribes." 


I think it can be shown that not one of these reasons is of 
any force as regards the lower savages. 

1. That women " weaken their mothers when young," 
cannot be a reason for killing female children rather than 
male, unless it can be shown that girls require more nutri- 
ment from their mothers than boys require. 

2. The assertion that women " eat and do not hunt" 
cannot apply to the lower savages. On the contrary, 
whether among the ruder agricultural tribes or those who 
are dependent on supplies gathered from " the forest and 
the flood," the women are food providers, who supply to 
the full as much as they consume, and render valuable 
service into the bargain. In times of peace, as a general 
rule, they are the hardest workers and the most useful 
members of the community. 

3. And certainly they are not " a source of weakness " as 
regards defence. They are perfectly capable of taking care 
of themselves* at all times ; and, so far from being an 
encumbrance on the warrior, they will fight, if need be, as 
bravely as the men, and with even greater ferocity. Of 
this I could give some shocking examples which have come 
within my own knowledge."!* 

* They who are accustomed to the ways of civilized women only can 
hardly believe what savage women are cajaable of, even when they may 
well be supposed to be at their weakest. For instance, an Australian 
tribe on the march scarcely takes the trouble to halt for so slight a per- 
formance as a childbiith. The newly-born infant is wrapped in skins, the 
march is resumed, and the mother trudges on with the rest. Moreover, as 
is well known, among many tribes elsewhere, it is the father who is put to 
bed, while the mother goes about her work as if nothing had happened. 
The Rev. Geo. Taplin, though allowing that "aboriginal women generally 
suffer less during jiarturition than civilized women do," asserts that they 
" do suffer considerably in childbirth." It must be borne in mind that the 
natives with whom Mr. Taplin was chiefly acquainted, were those who 
lived on the Mission Station under his charge, and tlierefore under 
abnormal circumstances. He mentions three cases of death in childbirth 
as the only cases within his knowledge, and these were evidently connected 
with congenital defect. (" Aborigines of S. Australia," p. 48.) 

+ [William Buckley, the " wild white man," who lived 32 j^cars among 


4. Finally, that they are " a temptation to surrounding 
tribes " does not appear to be a sufficient reason for killing 
them. They are far too valuable a possession to be cast 
away merely because the neighbours covet them. We do 
not find the Kafirs exterminating their cattle because they 
are " a temptation to surrounding tribes." 

It is among the more advanced tribes that the motives 
for female infanticide are found, and, I believe, the practice 
also to a greater extent than among the lower savages. 

Thus, where a costly dower has to be given with a girl in 
marriage, female infanticide is known to be very common. 
A daughter there is a special cause of impoverishment to 
her parents, whereas a son is a cause of enrichment. Here, 
then, we find a motive which seems to act with considerable 
power ; but it does not exist among the lower savages, 
for with them the dower — where one is given — is provided 
by the bridegroom's kinsmen and presented to the parents 
of the girl. Here the conditions are reversed. It is the 
girl who is a cause of enrichment to her parents on her 
marriage. And this is very far from being all the advantage 
they derive from her. As already pointed out (Ante,, p. 
105), her husband has to provide her father with food in 
times of peace, and to fight on his side in war. 

Therefore, since women are in no respect an encumbrance 
to the lower savages, but the reverse, it is evident that we 
do not find in the reasons given by Sir John Lubbock and 
Mj'. M'Lennan a preferential motive for female infanticide. 

the Port Phillip tribes says, as follows, when mentioning that those he lived 
with were attacked and in danger of being worsted by a numerous hostile 
party: — "They raised a war cry ; on hearing which the women threw 
off their rugs and, each armed with a short club, fiew to the assistance of 
their husbands and brothers. . . . Even with this augmentation our 
tribe fought to great disadvantage, the enemy being all men, and much 
more numerous. . . . Men and women were fighting furiously and 
indiscriminately . . . and two of the latter were killed in this affair. " 
("Life and Adventures of William Buckley," p. 43.)— A.W.H.] 


And something more than this can be shown. Another 
motive for killing female children rather than male is found, 
among agricultural tribes who have descent through the 
father, in the fact that a woman can transmit neither the 
family name nor the family estate. She passes out of the 
line by marriage. (See Ante, p. 113). And, with tribes 
who have that line of descent, and who accept its conse- 
quences as regards ancestral worship — i.e., who offer house 
sacrifice to males alone and by males alone — this is a very 
grave, the very gravest consideration. The dead are 
dependent upon their male descendants for those offerings 
without which their shadowy existence would be to the 
last degree wretched ; and therefore every man is anxious 
to have sons, not daughters, to succeed him. If, therefore, 
he practice infanticide at all, he will surely kill his daughters, 
not his sons. But among the lower tribes this motive 
works the other way, for with them descent, and therefore 
inheritance, is through females. Hence we find in some 
such tribes the practice of " male infanticide " — that is to 
say, the practice of killing male children rather than female. 
Thus, the Rev. E,. A. Codrington informed me, with regard 
to the Mota people, that infanticide was common among 
them, and that " male children were killed rather than 
female, because of the family passing by the female 
Exogam- We have seen that Mr. M'Lennan's postulate, as to female 

ous tribes .„..,,. 

and mar- inianticidc being the rule among- the lower savac^es, cannot 
capture, be readily granted ; and we have now to examine his 
proposition that — 

Exogamous tribes exist, or have existed, under " circum- 
stances in which men could get wives only by capturing 

* See aho Appendix C. 


A tribe, to satisfy these conditions, must be exogamous 
qua tribe ; that is to say, marriage must be forbidden 
everywhere within its limits. For if it be so constituted 
that its men can get their wives anywhere within its 
boundaries, it is not a tribe such as Mr. M'Lennan's theory 

His list of what he calls " exogamous tribes " is contained 
in the fifth chapter of his " Studies in Ancient History ;" 
and of all those tribes there is not one which satisfies his 
own conditions. Without exception they are all divided 
into exogamous intermarrying clans ; and, therefore, they 
can get wives without capturing them from other tribes. 
Each one of them is an endogamous tribe or community, 
made up of exogamous intermarrying clans ; that is, it 
marries within its own boundaries, but it prohibits 
marriage within any one of its clans. 

Once more we have to note a confusion arising from Mr. 
JkI'Lennan's want of precision in using the term " Tribe," 
and his own terms " Exogamy " and " Endogamy," all of 
which are equally misleading, unless the area to which they 
are applied be clearly defined. But, whatever be the 
meaning which he gives to " Tribe," the cases cited by him 
in his fifth chapter are of no avail. For it is evident that 
in these cases the word tribe must have one of two 
meanings, either — 

(1.) The whole nation or community ; or, 

(2.) An exogamous clan, or the exogamous clans 
severally into which the community is divided. 

In either case the examples cited by Mr. M'Lennan are 
valueless, because — 

(1.) If by tribe he means the nation or community, then 
the tribes cited are not exogamous. They marry within 
their own bounds. 

(2.) If by tribe he means the exogamous clans, then the 


tribes cited are not found " in circumstances in which men 
could get wives only by capturing them." The clans have 
peaceful intermarriage one with another. 

As this statement can be verified by referring to Mr. 
M'Lennan's own account of the tribes which he cites as 
" exogamous," there is no need to trouble the reader with 
an examination of more than two or three of them, which 
seem to require special notice. Of these the first are the 
Kalmuks, who are " divided into four great tribes or 
nations," called respectively Khoskot, Dzungar, Derbet, and 
Torgot (or Tchoro). Their system of marriage seems to 
have this peculiarity, that the common people can marry 
within any one of these great divisions, though not within 
certain prohibited degrees, while the nobles must marry 
each without his division. The divisions, therefore, are 
exogamous as regards the nobles, and endogamous as regards 
the common people. Each division, however, is subdivided 
into smaller divisions, but we are not told whether these, 
subdivisions are exogamous or not. 

I know very little about the Kalmuks ; and a mission 
station in Fiji affording no facilities for getting at books of 
reference, I am not in a position to ascertain more fully 
their system of marriage. We know, however, that the 
name by which they call themselves is Derben Ueirat, 
which means the Tlie Four Relatives ; and this fact, coupled 
with the law of marriage among their hereditary nobles — 
who are likely to be strong conservatives, and given to 
standing in the old paths — seems to point to a time when 
the four great divisions were simply exogamous inter- 
marrj'ing clans making up one community. But, whether 
this were so or not, the Kalmuks will not serve Mr. 
M'Lennan's turn, unless we may take it for granted that 
there was a time in their history when they had no way of 
marrying save by capturing each other's women. 


Let us grant this for the sake of argument, and see what 
comes of it. Derbet and Torgot, we will say, are two 
exogamous tribes living in a state of mutual hostility, and 
so presenting " a set of circumstances in which men can get 
wives only by capturing them." Now, what is the i-esult ? 
Say that Derbet captures a number of Torgot women^ 
sufficient to supply its bachelors with wives, and Torgot 
captures Derbet women enough for its wants. We may 
now ask, " Are all the women on both sides disposed of ? '* 
If so, it follows that each tribe has captured all the women 
of the other. 

But, if there be any women left uncaptured, what are 
they to do for husbands ? Say, for instance, that a number 
of Derbet girls are left uncaptured by the Torgots, what is 
to be done with them ? They cannot marry within their 
own tribe, for the tribe is exogamous. The Derbets must 
be in this perplexing strait — either they must give these 
women away to the Torgots (which would be a method of 
wife-procuring other than capture) or they must capture 
Torgot young men as husbands for them. 

Mr. M'Lennan's theory of marriage by capture, therefore, 
requires, either — 

(1.) That all the women of a tribe shall be captured by 
the men of another tribe ; or, 

(2.) That men shall be captured for husbands as well 
as women for wives. Surely when a theory brings us to a 
conclusion such as this, it were better to lay it aside. 

The Kocchs and the Hos, cited by Mr. M'Lennan in a 
subsequent chapter, are useless witnesses to him here, 
because, as Sir John Lubbock has pointed out, " they are 
divided into keelis, or clans, and may not take to wife a girl 
of their own keeli." (" Origin," &c., p. 117.) 

Concerning the Khonds, Major M'Pherson's statement, 
quoted by Mi\ M'Lennan, is that " intermarriage between 


persons of the same tribe " (the italics are mine), " however 
large or scattered, is considered incestuous, and punishable 
by death." This does not prove that no Khond can marry 
a Khond ; and nothing less than this is required by Mr. 
M'Lennan's theory. It simply points to the fact that the 
Orissa Khonds are divided into exogamous clans, and that 
men and women of the same clan are tribal brothers and 
sisters. Major M'Pherson evidently uses " tribe " in the 
sense of " clan." 

Takincj the term " exosramous tribe " to mean an entire 
community, complete in all its parts, and forbidding 
marriage everywhere within its limits — the sense in which 
Mr. M'Lennan's theory requires it to be used with regard to 
the cases cited by him in his fifth chapter — I do not 
hesitate to say that nowhere on the face of the earth has 
such a tribe been found at the present day,* and that we 
have no trustworthy record of any such tribe having existed 
in bygone days. All the savage communities with which 
we have anything like a full acquaintance are made up of 
exogamous intermarrying divisions in some form or other, 
and, consequently, do not forbid marriage ever^y^^here 
within their own limits. Such a community may properly 
be said to be endogamous as regards itself, if it forbids — or 
at least strongly discourages — marriage beyond its own 
boundaries, as is frequently the case ; but its law of 
marriage cannot be said to be endogamous, because its clans 
are strictly exogamous. As far as I know, there is no clear 
instance on record of a community which is endogamous 

* At first sight the Kurnai may perhaps appear to answer to this 
description. They "forbid marriage anywhere within their own limits ;" 
at least, they severely punish for it. But it has been shown that their 
community is not "complete in all its parts;" and, moreover, they are 
compelled to break their own rule. Mr. Howitt also shows us that, 
though marriage is treated as an offence, provision is made for it between 
the clans. 


without having exogamous divisions within it. If we 
could find such a tribe, we should fi,nd what has been 
diligently sought for in vain for the last thirty years and 
more. It would be an undivided commune, to the former 
existence of which significant evidence has long seemed to 

The case of the Ahts, quoted from Sproat's " Scenes and 
Studies of Savage Life" by Sir John Lubbock ("Origin," &c., 
p. 117), and apparently brought forward by him as an 
instance of such a tribe, is far from being a case in point. 
Sproat's account does not prove the Ahts to be endogamous, 
excepting in the sense that a tribe made up of exogamous 
clans may be said to be endogamous, because it prefers not 
to go beyond its own clans for its wives. If this be 
endogamy, then the term is of very little value, for in this 
sense nearly every civilized nation may be said to be 
endogamous, in feeling at least. Even among ourselves the 
"foreigner" is not looked upon as an altogether eligible 
husband, excepting for our princesses, and for them only for 
reasons of State. Derbet to Derbet for the commoners, but 
the Derbet princess must go to the Torgot prince. What 
Sproat tells us of the Ahts is that — " The idea of slavery 
connected with capture is so common that a freeborn Aht 
would hesitate to marry a woman taken in war, whatever 
her rank had been in her own tribe." And this feeling is a 
very common one elsewhere. With reference to Sir John 
Lubbock's notice of its manifestation amonof the Ahts, 
Mr. Walter Carew, Commissioner for Tholo, Navitilevu 
(Fiji), our best authority as to native customs among the 
hill tribes on that island, was good enough to write me 
the following note : — " To call a person ' a child of a 
captive ' is a very great insult, even though the mother 
were of high rank." Mr. Carew goes on to remind me 
of a case within our common knowledoje in which a chief 


was set aside because his mother was a war-captive, 
though she was a lady of high rank in one of the principal 
tribes in Fiji — a tribe of far greater importance than his 
Polyandry. Having examined Mr. M'Lennan's theory as to exogamy 
and mai-riage by capture, it now remains to notice his 
statement of polyandry. 

If what we have to deal with here were no more than a 
statement that cases of polyandry are to be found, or even 
that such cases are of frequent occurrence, the controversy 
would be of no very gi-eat importance. But Mr. M'Lennan 
treats polyandry as a system of inarriage of so extensive a 
prevalence, and draws with singular ability such wide 
inferences from it as to kinship, succession, and the change 
of descent from the female line to the male, that all the 
chief questions connected with the development of social 
organization are involved. His evidence ought, therefore, 
to be of the very strongest, and his witnesses fully 
competent to deal with the facts they narrate. 

In forming our opinions as to the customs of savage 
tribes, in all cases where the significance of a custom 
depends upon something which underlies the visible facts, 
accounts given by travellers must be received with caution. 
They may state quite correctly each fact they observe, but 
they are very likely to be wrong in their interpretation of 
its meaning. No witness here is to be fully trusted unless 
he has had very full opportunities of making himself 
thoroughly acquainted with that which underlies the customs 
he describes. 

This caution has a special application to evidence as to 
polyandry, for, as Sir John Lubbock justly observes, " when 
our information is incomplete, it must be far from easy to 
distinguish between communal marriage and true polyandry." 
(" Origin," &;c., p. 116.) Thus, the practice of the " imported 


labourers"* in Fiji might well be set down as true polyandry 
if we did not know what is beneath the outer fact. There 
is an exceptional scarcity of women among them, many 
more males than females being imported, and so a woman 
may be seen cohabiting with a number of men. But we 
have had more than one startling proof that this seeming 
polyandry is neither true polyandry nor mere prostitution, 
but only group marriage in difficulties. Women who 
admitted men of a forbidden class have been put to death 
by their countrymen (See Ante, p, 65, note), and the mur- 
derers have declared that they were under obligation to kill 
them. Not a few of Mr, M'Lennan's instances of so-called 
polyandry admit of a similar explanation ; and even those 
cases on which he seems chiefly to depend — the Nair and 
the Tibetan — are anything but conclusive in his favour. 

The Nair polyandry, according to the account given of it 
by Mr. M'Lennan himself in quotations from Hamilton, 
Buchanan, and the Asiatic Researches (" Studies," &c., p. 149) 
is evidently group marriage — at least it seems so to me. A 
Nair woman has " a combination of husbands," but then " a 
Nair may be one in several combinations of husbands ; that 
is, he may have any number of wives." Group marriage 
might well be described in the same words. That the 
Nairs are divided into exogamous clans is certain from 
the fact that cohabitation is regulated "by certain 
restrictions as to tribe and caste," the plain meaning of 
which is that there are cei^tain exogamous divisions on 
which the marriage regulations are based. And there- 
with the Nair polyandry resolves itself into cohabitation 
between permitted groups. 

Mr. M'Lennan asserts that the Nair husbands are " usually 

* Natives of other South Sea grouiDS brought to Fiji as workmen on the 
plantations, &c. 



not brothers — usually not relatives." But in what sense 
does he use the words " brothers" and "relatives ?" If by 
"brothers" he means only children of the same parents, and 
by " relatives" only those who are related according to our 
own notions of relationship, then his statement is of little 
weight ; for a group of tribal brothers may include many 
persons other than these. 

The Tibetan instance quoted from Turner, where " five 
brothers were living very happily under the same connubial 
compact" (" Studies," &c., p. 115), seems to be a clearer case. 
But even here we have no proof that it was an instance of 
true polyandry, and not of polyandry combined with poly- 
gynia, like the Nair custom — the custom of the Britons 
noticed by Csesar* — and all the other instances given by 
Mr. M'Lennan where tribal brothers hold their wives in 
common. And considering how easy it is to mistake 
instances of group marriage for polyandry, such proof may 
be reasonably demanded from one who represents polyandry 
as a widely prevalent system of marriage, and draws such 
large conclusions from it. 

The law of the Levirate, which Mr. M'Lennan considers 
" it is impossible not to regard as . . . derived from 
the practice of polyandry" (" Studies," tc, p. 163), does not 
appear to me to have anything at all to do with polyandry. 
It was a regulation to prevent the elder branch of a stock 
from becoming extinct. Its underlying motive is found in 
the preferential claim to the birthright vested in the elder 
branch ; and this preferential claim is found only in tribes 
who have descent through males, or at least Avho, having 
settled down to agriculture, are fairly started on their way 

• How Mr. M'Lennan could have cited the customs of the Britons in 
proof of polyandry as opposed to group marriage, I am at a loss to imagine. 
What Cajsar tells us is that "groups of ten or a dozen" (deni, duodenique) 
had their wives in common. (" De Bello Gallico," v. 14.) 


in that line. The lower savages know nothing of that 

Mr. M'Lennan lays stress upon the fact that the widow 
was the Levir's wife " without any form of marriage." But 
there is no proof that this is a survival of polyandry ; for, 
in the first place, there is no need for us to look upon it as 
a survival of anything at all, and, in the second place, it 
would serve very well as a survival of group marriage. In 
many tribes which are organized in groups like the 
Australian, the widow is the Levir's wife as a matter of 
course. He does not always even wait until she become a 
widow. He is of the same group with her husband, and 
her group is " wife " to his. 

It is not denied that cases of polyandry occur. A few 
instances of it have come under my own observation. But 
in every case the men were of a clan which intermarried 
with that of the woman, the circumstances were exceptional, 
and the custom was not the general practice — not even the 
frequent practice — of the tribe. In full accordance with 
this is the account of polyandry at Mota, sent to me by the 
Bev. R. H. Codrington before mentioned : — 

"Polyandry exists, but is rarely practised. Never with young 
people, but mostly as a matter of convenience, as when two widowers 
live with one widow. She is wife to both, and any child she may have 
belongs to both. There are cases in which a husband connives at a 
connection between his wife and another man. This is not counted 
adultery, for it is an open transaction ; and it is not polyandry, for the 
parties are not counted husband and wife. It is not considered respect- 
able." {See " Trans. Royal Society of Victoria," 1879.) 

The existence of polyandry is not denied, but I venture 
to hazard the assertion that it is not tlie system of marriage 
in any tribe at the present day. Nay, more, it seems to me 
impossible that it could be the system of marriage anywhere 
at any time. The mere arithmetical difficulty in its way 
appears to me quite insurmountable. 


Though such statistics as I have been able to get at in 
Fiji among the lately heathen tribes directly contradict the 
hypothesis,* still, I think we may suppose that the 
number of males generally exceeds that of females among 
the lower savages ; at least, quite a number of observers 
declare that such is the fact. But it docs not seem to have 
occurred to Mr. M'Lennan to consider how great his theory 
of polyandry as a system of marriage requires that disparity 
to be. Under such a system it is evident that whatever 
may be the average number of husbands to a wife, at least 
so many times more numerous must the men be than the 
women. If X be the number of women in a tiibe, and Y 
their average allowance of husbands ; then, since we cannot 
suppose that under such a system any marriageable girl 
would be allowed to roam in maiden meditation fancy free, 
the number of men must be XY, even supposing all of 
them to be absorbed in the " combinations of husbands."-f 

Nor will marriage by capture help us here ; because for 
every woman captured there must have been Y husbands 
left lamenting, unless we suppose that a non-polyandrous 
tribe was kept in the neighbourhood of each polyandrous 
tribe for its convenience, and that they never retaliated 
upon their aggressive neighbours. 
M'Lcn- To sum up. It has been shown that Mr. M'Lennan's 

theory postulate of female infanticide as the rule among the lower 

* /S'ee Appendix C. 

t Tliis argument may appear to tell tvith equal force against the ordinary 
form of polygamy, under which a man may have several wives who are 
supposed to be his exclusively. But, under this form of marriage we are 
not bound to suppose that every man has a wife ; Avhereas jxilyandry, as a 
system of marriage, can leave no woman without a husband. Moreovei', it 
is a mistake to suppose that among polygamists " several women to one 
man " is the general rule. No tribe has women enough for such a supjjly. 
It is only the chiefs, or the more powerful men of the tribe, who can secure 
to themselves more than one wife apiece, and some of the common people 
are left out in the cold until a widow falls to their share, or a chief bestows 
upon them some cast-ofF member of liis harem. 


savafjes cannot be readily m-anted ; that his exogamous does not 

. ° -^ .*= ' . . ° account for 

tribes are not exogamous in the sense which his theory the ciassifi- 

catory rela- 

requires ; and that both marriage by capture and polyandry, tionships. 
^s systems of marriage, unless there be a fatal flaw in my 
reasoning, involve something which has all the appearance 
of an absurdity. Without claiming too much then, I think 
it may be said (of course with the saving clause already 
inserted) that the whole basis of Mr. M'Lennan's theory 
has been shown to be insecure. It is therefore unnecessary 
to examine the structure which he has built upon it. If 
the theory cannot account for itself, still less can it account 
for the classificatory system of relationships. 

And if this be so, it is all the greater pity that Mr. 
M'Lennan allowed himself to treat with such contemptuous 
scorn the hypothesis advanced by Mr. Lewis H. Morgan, 
which, if coiTect, is subversive of his own : — 

"This wild dream — not to say nightmare — of early institutions." 
<" Studies," &c., p. 3G0.) 

" It seemed worth while to take the trouble necessary to show its 
utterly unscientific character." (Ibid., p. 371.) 

Before a writer permits himself to use words such as 
these, he should make quite sure that he has firm ground 
under his feet ; and even then, as to whether it would not 
l)e better to leave them unsaid. " The wise may make some 
dram of a scruple, or indeed a scruple itself." 

Sir John Lubbock's theory as to the effect of capture sh- John 
upon communal marriage, is stated by him in the following theory, 
words : — 

"I believe that communal marriage was gradually superseded by 
individual marriage founded on capture ; and that this led firstly to 
•exogamy, and then to female infanticide." (" Origin," &c., p. 81.) 

The manner in which this was effected is stated as 
follows : — 


" We must remember tliat, under the communal system, the women 
of the tribe were all common property. No one could appropriate 
one of them to himself without infringing on the general rights of the 
tribe. Women taken in war were in a different position. The tribe, 
as a tribe, had no right to them, and men would surely reserve to 
themselves exclusively their own prizes. The captives then would 
naturally become wives in our sense of the term. 

* ' Several causes would tend to increase the importance of the 
separate, and decrease that of communal, marriage. The impulse 
which it would give to, and receive back from, the development of the 
affections, the convenience with respect to domestic arrangements, the 
natural wishes of the wife herself, and last, not least, the inferior 
energy of the children sprung from in-and-in marriages, would all 
tend to increase the importance of individual marriage." (" Origin,"' 
&c., p. 108.) 

We are presented here with the following sequence : — 

1. The tribe is an undivided commune. That is to say,, 
its law of marriage — if it can be called a law of marriage — 
is promiscuous intercourse between all its males and all its 

2. Members of the tribe capture women from other 
tribes; and each captor keeps his captive to himself^ 
because " the tribe has no right to her." 

3. By the assertion of the sole right of the captor, " the 
captives naturally become wives in our sense of the term" — 
that is to say, with the help of marriage by capture, we 
leap at one bound from promiscuity to individual marriage. 
This may take the form of monogamy if the warrior 
capture only one woman ; but if he be very successful, he 
may have quite a harem of these " wives in our sense of the 

4. " Individual marriao^e " bcino- thus introduced into a 
" promiscuous " tribe, its reciprocal action on the affections,, 
the domestic bliss resulting from it, " the natural wishes of 
the wife herself " — that is to say, the natural desire of a 
woman, or of several women, in a state of savagery, to be 
bound to one man — these, with other considerations, con- 


vince the tribe of the " importance of individual marriage," 
and so result in exogamy and female infanticide. 

Whether this be what Sir John Lubbock meant or not, 
it is certainly what his words mean. But, having already 
had frequent occasion to point out what appear to be 
mistakes into which he has fallen in his treatment of this 
subject,* we need not examine his theory at length, 
especially since it rests upon what can be shown by direct 
evidence to be a fallacy. Granting the old undivided 
commune, his whole theory rests upon the assumption that 
a Avarrior has a sole right, as against his tribe, to a captive 
taken by him in war. In support of this right Sir John 
advances nothing whatever beyond the assertion that it 
would be likely to accrue. On the contrary, it appears to 
me in the highest degree unlikely, because among savages 
the individual has no rights as distinct from the group to 
which he belongs ; and, moreover, it is directly contradicted 
by evidence which can be tested at the present day."|* 

Sir John Lubbock's theorj^ as to expiation for marriage Expiation 
appears to me the true one as far as it goes ; and Mr. carriage. 
M'Lennan's attempted reductio ad absurdmn with regard 
to it is either entirely mistaken or entirely unfair. 

" The general reasoning," he observes, " turns on one principle, and 
the evidence in its second branch on another principle. The first 
l^rinciple is that a man might appropriate a war captive to himself 
because ove)' her the tribe had no right : the other principle is that the 
appropriation must be expiated, because it infringed the right of the 
tribe to the woman. The contradiction between these principles ia 
obviously absolute, and that it exists is beyond dispute." (" Studies," 
&c., p. 429.) 

The contradiction between the " principles," as Mr. 
M'Lennan states them, is " obviously absolute ;" but then 

* See ante pp. 83, 107, 115, 118, 127. 
t See ante p. 65. 


he does not state those principles as their author states 
them. Sir John's argument is, that " as long as commuiial 
rights tuere in force . . . special marriage was an 
infringement of these rights, for which some compensation 
was due," * but that these rights were not in force with 
regard to captured women. " The women of the tribe" he 
remarks, "were all common property. No one could 
appropriate one of them to himself without infringing on 
the general rights of the tribe." For such a " special 
marriage," therefore, expiation was necessary. "But," he 
goes on to observe, " women taken in war were in a 
different position. The tribe, as a tribe, had no right to 
them." And, therefore, no expiation was required for the 
appropriation of a captive, no rights having been infringed. 
I believe the latter clause to be entirely mistaken, but it 
certainly does not contradict the former. 

In his argument against Sir John Lubbock's theory, Mr. 
M'Lennan remarks : — 

"If we were to find a large number of well-vouched cases in which, 
on a marriage, extraordinary freedoms with the bride were permitted 
to men of the bridegroom's kindred, it might be plausibly maintained, 
in the absence of any more satisfactory explanation, that . . . there 
was an assertion on the one side, and a recognition on the other, of 
an ancient right. But the cases ought to point clearly to this. The 
privileged persons should be men of the bridegroom's group only, and 
the cases should be capable of no simpler explanation than that wdiich 
refers them to an ancient communal right." (" Studies," ttc, p. 435.) 

Such cases are to be found in abundance — cases, at least, 
in which " men of the bridegroom's group" assert a common 
right to the bride, and of which, as far as I am aware, 
there is " no simpler explanation than that which refers 
them to an ancient communal right." The Kurnai practice 
set forth in Mr. Howitt's Latin note (p. 202,) is a clear 

* "Origin," &c., p. 100. 


case in point, as also is the fact that a fugitive wife in that 
tribe becomes the common property of her pursuers if they 
capture her, these pursuers being of her husband's kindred.* 
In full agreement with this is the Rev. R. Taylor's state- 
ment that, among the Maori, " formerly every woman was 
noa, or common, and could select as many companions as 
she liked without being thought guilty of any impropriety, 
until given away by her friends to some one as her future 
master. She then became tapu to him, and was liable to 
be put to death if found unfaithful." (" Te Ika a Maui," 
p. 166.) Those "companions" must be men who are of a 
hapib, or clan, which is marriageable with the woman's. 
To the males of that clan in the same generation with her, 
she is noa until the tapu of a husband is put upon her. If 
her husband die and his brother do not take her, she is 
released from the tapu, and becomes noa again. The com- 
munal right is shown also in the fact that a Maori girl is 
sometimes wrestled for by all the young men who have a 
tribal right to her.-j- The girl is sometimes seriously, even 
fatally injured in the struggle, being dragged hither and 
thither, regardless of her cries and sufferings. An unsuc- 
cessful suitor has been known to plunge his spear into her 
heart, so that no one should enjoy the prize he had failed to 
gain. All those youths must be " of the bridegroom's group 
only ;" and the Maori instance is but one out of many, the 
custom being of wide prevalence. 

* [The practice accompanying elopement among the Kurnai, was also 
occasionally followed where widows were re-married. — A. W. H.] 

t The struggle between the suitors is called Punarua. This word is the 
Hawaiian Punalua, which denotes the common right of tribal brothers to 
certain women. A similar struggle, in a smaller way, used sometimes, in 
the heathen days, to take place at Vauua Levu, Fiji, between the Levir and 
the brother of the widow. It was the duty of the latter to strangle the 
widow on her husband's death ; and, if the Levir wanted to keep her for 
himself, he had to wrestle for her with her brother, if this dragging at the 
woman can be called wrestling. The wretched woman was sometimes 
almost torn in two between them. 


Among the Gonds and By gars of the Sathpuras, Central 
Province, India, " marriage between cousins is almost com- 
pulsory, when the brother's child is a daughter, and the 
sister's a son." But a girl may choose any one of her 
cousins, either by anointing his head with turmeric and 
touching his feet, or by " sitting down" in his house. If, 
however, she thus exercise her right of choice, any one of her 
male cousins has a right to carry her off if he can. (See 
an extremelv interestinof article on " Gonds," &c., in vol. 
xxvi. of the Cornhill Magazine.) This case also fulfils Mr, 
M'Lennan's conditions, for all those " male cousins" must be 
of the bridegroom's group. It is interesting to note that 
the bride's choice does not carry the tapu with it. 

Mr. M'Lennan's objections* to some of Sir John Lubbock's 
instances of expiation for marriage do not seem to be upheld 
by what we know of savage customs. For instance, 
Herodotus' statement that the daughters of the common 
people in Lydia were prostitutes before marriage, seems to 
point to a custom like the Maori. They were noa until 
they were made tapu by marriage. 

It is certain, also, that the forty warriors " entertained " 
by the " woman of the Naudowessies ""f* must have been of 
a clan with which hers could intermarry ; for Carver tells 
us that the woman was held in great respect for what she 
had done, and we have conclusive proof that the admission 
of a man belonging to a forbidden clan would have been 
considered most disgraceful to both parties. 

Again, Mr. M'Lennan remarks, concerning " ihejiispriinca 
noctis," accorded among the Nasamones, Auziles, Balearic 
Islanders, and others to the guests at a marriage — 

" There is no indication that the guests were of the kinship of the 
bridegroom only, and it is not likely that they were." 

* "Studies," &c., pp. 43C-443. 
t "Origin," &c., p. 101. 


We find, among present-day savages, however, that 
marriage feasts are strictly " family matters." No guests 
attend but those who are of the parties' kin. Moreover> 
among many tribes it is the business of the bridegroom's 
clansmen to provide the maniage gift ; and, according to 
Herodotus, it was the custom for each guest, to whom the 
jus aforesaid was accorded, to present a gift which he had 
brought with him for that purpose. (" Melpomene," 172.) 

Sir John Lubbock, however, does not clearly distinguish 
the group to whom the expiation for marriage was due. 
Granting the undivided commune with which he begins, 
and granting its division also into exogamous clans as the 
result either of capture, accoi'ding to his theory,* or of a 
reformatory movement, according to Mr, Morgan's, the com- 
munal right is not extinguished, but its range is narroived 
from the whole tribe to the clan. The group of men who 
can claim expiation for " special marriage " is no longer the 
whole tribe, but the group of tribal brothers who have a 
common light to the group of females to which the woman 

This common right is seen in present exercise in the 
cases already cited, and notably in that unmistakable 
preliminary to elopement among the Kurnai. We see it 
granted in the meeting of Kubi with the "stranger Ipatha"-f" 
and in the regulated accommodation afforded to the guest 
who is supplied with a temporary wife from the group 
corresponding to that which is " wife " to his group in his 
own tribe. We see its violent assertion in the fierce 

* "Origin," &c., p. 87. Sir John Lubbock's theory as to capture has 
this advantage over Mr. M'Lennan's, that, not shutting us up to capture 
being the only way in which men coukl get wives, we are not bound to 
suppose either that all the women of a tribe are captured, or that young 
men are captured as husbands for the girls who have been left uucaught. 
{See Ante p. 148). 

t Ante p. 53. 


struggle of the Maori youths for possession of the girl who 
is noa, or common to them all, and in the spear thrust into 
her breast by the brutal wretch in his fury of disappoint- 
ment at having failed to secure her for himself. And even 
among tribes where there is the strong restriction of the 
tapu* upon it, we see the communal right asserting itself as 
soon as that restriction is withdrawn, in the Maori widow 
who, if the Levir do not take her, becomes noa again to the 
men of his group, and in the fact of the absconding wife 
among the Kurnai being common to her captors. The 
symbol of marriage by capture, so often found among tribes 
of the present day, may well be a symbol of the violent 
breach of this communal right, just as expiation for mar- 
riage is, as it were, a compounding for it on the part of the 
The group It appears strange to me that, though the existence of 
social unit tlic gTOup as the social unit among savages has been so long 
marriige.'' seen and acknowledged with regard to other matters, it 
should still be so vehemently denied with regard to marriage 
and relationship. 

Land tenure and inheritance are based upon it. It is 
seen in succession to office where there is hereditary 
succession ; for it is not necessarily the son of the office- 
holder, or his sister's son, who succeeds. Qualification for 
office is hereditary in a certain group, but the office itself is 
elective among the qualified persons. And these qualified 
persons collectively make up a group of kinsfolk. It is 
therefore to the group that the office descends. 

Blood feud also shows the group as the social unit. 
A certain group is looked upon as a joint undivided body. 

* The tapu, tabu, or tambu, can, I think, be sho-wii in all cases to be an 
authoritative restriction of the communal right. The source and growth 
of the authority that restricts it present an interesting subject of inquiry ; 
but there is not room for its discussion here. 


If it be struck anywhere, every part of it feels the stroke, 
and resents it. To revenge an injury done to it is the 
duty of its every member; and in revenging that injury it 
is not absolutely necessary to strike at the injurious person 
himself. Any one of his group will do ; for not he alone is 
responsible for his act — the whole body to which he belongs 
is involved in it. And the blood of that body flows in the 
veins of every member of it — in the veins of the helpless 
infant as in those of the stoutest warrior. Hence, if the 
offending group can be struck anywhere, it suffices.* The 

* This was put so clearly to me, many years ago, by one of the " old 
hands" in Fiji (one of those white men wlio lived as natives among the 
natives until they became more Fijian than the Fijians), that I may be 
pardoned for quoting his very words, of which I made a note at the time. 
We were talking about a disturbance which had arisen in the following 
manner. A dog bit a man. His brother shot the dog. Its owner killed 
two men of their tribe in revenge ; and thereupon a blood feud arose which 
kept cropping up for years afterwards, and was not settled without great 
difficulty. The "old hand" maintained that the murderer was justified 
by Fijian custom. Being then but a young resident in Fiji, and therefore 
naturally convinced that I knew all about the people, I disputed his 
assertion on the ground that the men killed had had nothing to do with 
the shooting of the dog. Whereupon my "old hand" enlightened me as 
follows : — 

"That makes no sort o' difference, bless you. They don't care a mite 
s'long's its somebody belongin' to the tribe. It's just like this, sir ; in a 
manner o' speakin, say as me and Tom Farrell here has a difficulty, and 
gets to punchin' one another. If he plugs me in the eye, I don't feel duty 
bound to hit him back azackly on the same spot. If I can get well in on 
him anywhere's handy, I ain't partikler. And that's how these niggers 
reckons it." 

One may be permitted thus once in a way to enliven the discussion of so 
diall a subject. 

See also H. C. Eobinson's "Diary," vol. i., p. 45.3, for a striking 
exhibition of the same feeling on the part of a French soldier who had been 
cruelly treated by the S^janiards, and saved from death at their hands by 
the English during the Peninsular war : — • 

Soldier. — "Ah! vous etes Anglais : que je vous aime ! . . . Mais si 
vous 6tiez Espagnol, je vous t-gorgerois." 

II.G.R. — " What ! Kill me when I have done nothing to you?" 

Soldier. — "Si ce n'etait jjas vous, c'(5tait votre frere. Si ce n'etait pas 
votre frere, c'(5tait votre cousin. C'est la meme chose. On ne peut pas 
trouver I'individu, c'est impossible." 


blood shed by the offending body is atoned for by that 
•which flows from its wounded veins. 

If, then, it be the group, not the individual, that holds 
land, that inherits, that succeeds to office, that strikes and 
is struck, what difficulty is there in the way of our accepting 
the fact that it is the group which marries and is given 
in marriage ? And if group mairiage be accepted, group 
relationship follows as a matter of course. 

There will always be a difficulty in our way if we 
persist in measuring the group with descent through 
females, as it is found among the lower savages, by that 
with which we are familiar among the Athenians and the 
Romans, or even by the group as it existed among our own 
forefathers. As reasonably might we measure the larva by 
the perfect insect, and refuse to acknowledge their identity 
because their forms are different. The later gens, or clan, 
or by what other name soever it may be called, is indeed, 
really or theoretically, a group of kinsfolk ; but it reckons 
descent through the father, not through the mother, and 
this one fact makes all the difference in the world. At 
least it brings into play a force which is sure, sooner or 
later, to make the difference. When it appears, the ties of 
relationship between individual and individual begin to 
draw closer and closer, while those between the individual 
and his group, and especially those between group and 
ra'oup, begin to loosen. Separation, which was formerly 
difficult, becomes inevitable, and the group rapidly divides 
itself into smaller groups. Hereditary distinctions of rank* 
arise ; the right of the individual tends to assert itself 
more and more against that of the group; and at length 

* Distinctions of 7-anl:- -Note this one significant fact ont of many. 
With descent through the mother there can be no such thing as a base-born 
man. The distinction between base-born and full-born men arises under 
descent through males, and its effects are great and lasting. 


property, which was formerly held in common by the 
many, comes to be the exclusive possession of the few. 
Some tie other than that of kindred becomes necessary to 
bind men together, and in process of time the group becomes 
more or less a political institution. But through many a gene- 
ration it builds itself still on the old lines, retains the old 
traditions, and uses the old terms of relationship long after 
they have ceased to represent the actual facts.* 


Ix conclusion, I repeat once more the oft-repeated caution 
that the terms of relationship must not be taken as showing 
the present usage now actually in force. Thus, the fact of a 
group of males being called " husband " by a group of females, 
does not necessarily imply actual cohabitation between all 
the members of the groups. What it implies is an ancient 
right of cohabitation, which, whether it were ever exercised 
to its full extent or not, is everywhere more or less 
restricted now-a-days according to the system of marriage 
at present in force. This system, among the more advanced 
Fijians, for instance, is polygamy with descent through the 
father ; among the Banks Islanders, and many other tribes, 
it is polygamy with descent through the mother ; among 
the Australians it takes various forms, some of them 
approaching more nearly to the old license ; but nowhere, 
as far as I know, does that license prevail to its full 
extent; that is to say, I am not aware of any tribe in which 

* This is saying a great deal in a few words, and taking for granted 
many things which require proof. But the needful proofs are, I think, 
to be found among tribes whose usages we may examine at the present 
day; and, in conjunction with my friend Mr. Howitt, I hope to produce 
them in a future work, for which not a little of the material is already 


the actual practice is to its full extent what the terms of 
relationship imply as of former occurrence. Present usage 
is everywhere in advance of the system so implied, and the 
terms are survivals of an ancient right, not precise indica- 
tions of custom as it is. 

But it seems to me that no unprejudiced observer can 
note the significant facts presenting themselves among 
savage tribes without being forced to the conclusion that 
their system of marriage and relationship is based upon 
communal marriage between permitted groups, both mar- 
riage and relationship being conceived, not as between 
individual and individual, but as between group and group. 
Beyond this I do not go. Although strong evidence seems 
to point further still to a more ancient undivided commune, 
this has never yet been found ; and I know of no record of 
which we can positively affirm that it describes such a 
commune, and that the writer of it was a fully qualified 
witness in the case. One or two passages in the former 
part of these memoirs, which may seem to take its existence 
for granted, must be read with this qualification. As far 
as the ascertained facts will take us is far enough for us to 
go, how great soever may be the possibility of a road 
beyond them ; and the ascertained facts go no farther than 
to a community already divided into exogamous clans, with 
group marriage between them. 

In attempting to support Mr. Morgan's " conjectural 
solution of the classificatory relationships," all I contend for 
is that, if the former existence of the undivided commune 
be taken for granted, its division into exogamous clans must 
have had precisely the effect which his theory requires. 
But, if such a community ever existed, I do not hesitate to 
say that Mr. Morgan's "reformatory movement" appears to 
me the most likely method by which it would begin its 
advance to a better system of marriage. And this for the 


very reason which would seem to make it the most 
improbable to many writei's of our day, viz., because it 
would be a step in advance so difficult for men in that utter 
depth of savagery to take, that they would not be able to 
take it unless they had help from without. This might be 
given by contact with a more advanced tribe ; but if all the 
tribes started from the same level, that impulse would be 
impossible in the first instance, and must have been derived 
from a higher power. And if, because of this statement, 
anyone take the trouble to say of me what Sir John 
Lubbock was pleased to say of John Williams, the martyr 
of Erromanga, because he believed that which Sir John 
Lubbock disbelieves, " a missionary so credulous and igno- 
rant ought, one might suppose, rather to learn than to 
teach " (" Origin," Szc, p. 174),* I shall be quite content. 

And here, as I shall in all probability have occasion to Degrada- 
write further on the evidence afforded by the customs of theoiy. 
savage tribes as to the development of social organization, 
it may be well once for all to say a word on a subject to 
which it will not be necessary for me again to refer. 

It has somehow or other come to be thought incumbent 
upon those who hold what are called " orthodox views " to 
maintain that all savages were once civilized people ; and 
eminent writers, such as Archbishop Whately and the Duke 
of Argyll, have advanced much ingenious argument in 

* Compare Sir John's contemptuous words, above quoted, with the 
gracious declaration which ushers in his fourth chajjter — "I shall 
endeavour to avoid, as far as possible, anything which might justly give 
pain to any of my readers ;" also with his charitable motive for entitling 
that chapter the Reliijion rather than the Superstitions of savages — "A 
reluctance to condemn any honest belief, however absurd and imperfect it 
may be." He cannot surely suppose that Williams was not honest in his 
belief. Moreover, that belief is a perfectly fair conclusion from the 
premises which that brave missionary held; and however "absurd and 
imperfect " those premises may be in Sir John Lubbock's opinion, his 
opinion is not quite a final settlement of the questions involved. 



support of what is known as the degradation theory. 
Why that theory should be looked upon as necessary to 
orthodoxy I confess myself utterly at a loss to imagine. 

Almost at the very beginning of history — not in the far 
distance behind the great nations who dwelt in walled 
cities, but side by side with them, men of the same time 
with them — we see cave-dwellers, roamers of the desert, 
nomad herdsmen, savages of various grades, such as the 
tribes whom we have before us at the present day. Why, 
then, need we suppose these to be descended from civilized 
ancestors, and not from those savages of the olden time ? 

And the early savages, what sort of civilization was it 
from which we must suppose them to have become 
degraded, and how was that civilization acquired ? Cer- 
tainly, there is nothing in Scripture to warrant the 
supposition that they v/ere ever civilized at all. If we 
take the narrative in the beginning of Genesis to be 
strictly historic, we find the first human beings living in a 
•state, not of civilization, but of innocence — " naked, and not 
ashamed." We see them lose that innocence, and thereupon 
compelled to ear^ their sustenance by the work of their 
hands, covering themselves with " aprons " of leaves, and 
not knowing even as much as how to make themselves 
" coats of skins." Surely this is no very high point of 
civilization from which the Bible account represents them 
as starting on their way. Turning our eyes upon their 
descendants, we see that, in the first instance at least, 
" sister-marriage " must of necessity have been the rule 
among them; and the earliest record we have of their 
doings tells of a cruel murder. Not until at least 500 
years* have passed away do we hear of the first worker in 

* And that, too, according to a chronology M-hich is admitted on all sides 
to be uncertain in the highest degree, the Hebrew computation difiering 
from the Samaritan, and both of them ditJ'ering from that of the Septuagiut. 


bronze and iron ; and the new invention appears to have 
been used chiefly for warlike purposes, for the world seems 
to have grown worse as it grew older, until " the whole 
earth was filled with violence." Is it not certain that, in a 
state of society such as this, some tribes must have been 
driven away from the line of progress at its very 
beginning ? To my mind, the only wonder is that man 
achieved any progress at all ; and that he did so, appears to 
me a sufficient proof that he was not left to his own 

We are not now concerned with the question as to 
whether the narrative in the first chapters of Genesis be a 
historic record or not ; nor is it necessary for us to enter 
upon that question here. What I wish to point out is, that 
the Bible account does not represent the first men as living 
in a state of civilization, and that, according to that account, 
their progress towards civilization must have been difficult 
in the extreme. 

The plain inference to be drawn from all history, whether 
.sacred or profane, is, as it seems to me, that the human race 
started from a very low point in the social scale ; that 
certain races have made a continuous advance, nation after 
nation dying as men die, but always leaving their heirs 
behind them ; that others, after making considerable pro- 
gress, came to a halt and remained stationary ; while others 
again, who, at the very beginning, fell out, or were driven 
out, from the line of progress, are found in the present day 
at a point lower than that from which the start was made ; 
degraded, therefore, to that extent, but certainly not 
degraded from a civilization to which they never attained. 

And therefore, Avhile, on the one hand, I cannot see the 
necessity of maintaining that savages are the degraded 
descendants of civilized ancestors, on the other hand it 
seems to me an altogether gratuitous assumption to take for 


granted that, because we can trace many customs of 
civilized races to savagism, all civilized nations must have 
been as utterly savage as certain tribes can be shown to be 
now, or to have been in the past. The theory of progress 
requires no assumption such as this ; and — unless we give 
in to the hypothesis which would present us with semi- 
human creatures as our remoter ancestors — there is no fact 
in our possession which even seems to point to it. It should 
suffice us to know what we can ascertain and establish, and 
to count our acquisitions to knowledge by the facts we add 
to our store, and not by theories which overleap the facts. 

Navuloa, Fiji, 

21st 'November, 1879. 



Sir John Lubbock considers that the " worship of animals 
is susceptible of a very simple explanation, and has really 
originated from the practice of naming, first individuals, and 
then their families, after particular animals." (" Origin," &c., 
p. 183.) 

This is surely a reversal of the true order. The Aus- 
tralian divisions show that the totem is, in the first place, 
the badge of a group, not of an individual. The individual 
takes it, in common with his fellows, only because he is a 
member of the group. And, even if it were first given to 
an individual, his family — i.e., his children — could not 
inherit it from him. They must take their mother's 
totem, which is different from his, unless descent be through 
the father. But this is a question as to the earliest stage of 
totemism, and, in that stage, descent is through the mother. 
This, I think, we may regard as an established fact, for 
descent is nearly always found in that line among savages 
of the lowest type. It may even be stated, as a general 
rule (which, like other general rules, has its exceptions), 
that wherever a tribe of present-day savages has totemic 
divisions, it has also descent through the mother. And, 
moreover, among many tribes who reckon descent through 
the father, there are evident traces of its having been 
formerly in the other line. Sir John himself has correctly 


pointed out the Fijian Yasii as a case in point, and many 
others might be advanced. 

Hence, in the earliest stage of totemism, the savage could 
not have looked upon the animal after which he was named 
as indicating his paternal ancestors, because his father, and 
every alternate ancestor in the male line, must have boj-ne 
a totem different from his own. Thus, if Snake and Emu 
be two intermarrying gentes, the descents are as follows 
(the males are indicated by capitals, their wives by small 
letters) : — 





It is evident at a glance that, with exogamy and descent 
throuefh the mother, father and son can never bear the same 
totem. The eponymous ancestors, as they are called, could 
not have been looked upon as forefathers in the direct line 
until descent came to be reckoned through the father. The 
supposed relationship between a man and his totem is 
undoubtedly fraternal. At least it is so in Australia. And 
this is reasonable, for the totem is a badge of fraternity. 
All men of the same generation who bear the same totem 
are tribal brothers, though they may belong to different and 
widely separated tribes.* Here we find an explanation of 

* Note Mr. Howitt's account of how the Darling River Lizard chiimed 
him as a brother because he had been " recognized " as a re-incarnation of 
a deceased Lizard belonging to the Yantniwunta of Cooper's Creek, 
(p. 57) 


certain apparently anomalous terms of kinship. Thus, in 
some tribes the paternal grandfather and his grandson call 
one another " younger brother " and " elder brother " 
respectively. These persons are of the same totem. Mr. 
Morgan's extensive tables of terms of relationship show 
many other designations* which at first sight appear to be 
inexplicable, but which admit of a similar solution. 

The Australian totems have a special value of their own. 
Some of them divide, not mankind only, but the whole 
vmiverse, into what may almost be called gentile divisions ; 
and they may help us to a better understanding of totemism, 
or animal worship. 

Mr. G. F. Bridgman wrote to me of the Port Mackay 
tribe (Queensland) — 

* Ego being male, my sister's child is called "my grandchild" by a 
Fijian mountain tribe ; and by Ked Indian tribes, Nos. 25, 28, 29, 30, 64, 
in Table II., Morgan's " Sj'stems of Consanguinity," &c. 

Ego being female, my brother's son is called " my grandson " by Nos. 26, 
28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 36. It is worthy of note that some European nations 
have the same term for both nephew and grandson. 

Father's sister's husband, and mother's brother, are called "grand- 
father" by some Fijian tribes, by the Kafirs, and by Eed Indian tribes, 
Nos. 26, 28, 29, 30, 31, &c. ("Systems," &c., Table II.) 

The reason for these apparently anomalous terms will be seen if we take 
them to the following diagram : — 


Kroki. ... Krokigor. 

Kumitegor. ... Kumite. 

There are other terms which do not admit of this explanation. For 
them another solution may be offered, which we cannot stay to discuss 
here. Thus, ego being female, my brother's son is called "my younger 
brother " by a Fijian tribe. In the Magyar, this relative is called "my 
little younger brother." Father's sister is called "elder sister" by the 
same Fijian tribe, and "grand elder sister " by the Magyar. 



"Everything in nature, according to theiu, is divided between the 
classes. The wind belongs to one, and the rain to the other. The 
sun is Wutaroo, and the moon is Yungaroo. The stars are divided 
between them ; and, if a star is pointed out, they will tell you to which 
division it belongs." 

So also Mr. D. S. Stewart says of the Mount Gambler 
tribe (South Australia) — 

"Not only mankind, but things in general, are subject to these 

And he gives the following list as a specimen. Each of 
the totems has the prefix hurt, which means dry. I omit 
this prefix from the list. It will be observed that there are 
two instances of vegetable totems : — 


Kumite Subdivisions. 

Includes — 

1. Mula = Fish-hawk 

2. Parangal = Pelicau j 

3. Wa = Crow { 

4. Wlla = Black cockatoo 

5. Karate = A harmless snake 

Smoke, honeysuckle trees, &c. 
Dogs, blackwood trees, tire, frost 

Rain, thunder, lightning, winter, 

hail, clouds, &c. 
Stars, moon, &c. 
Fish, stringy bark trees, seals, eels, &c. 

Krolci Suhdivisions. 

1. Werio = Tea- tree 

2. Murna = An edible root ... 

3. Karaal = Black crestless cockatoo 

Ducks, wallabies, owls, crayfish, &c. 
Bustards, quails, dolvich (a small 

kangaroo), &c. 
Kang.aroo, sheoak trees, summer, 

sun, autumn (fem.), wind (fern.) 

I do not know whether this arrangement is general 
throughout the Australian tribes ; but the fact of its 
presenting itself in two localities so far remote from one 
another as Port Mackay and Mount Gambler, points to 
its wide prevalence. That inference, however, must be 


cautiously made; for, both in Australia and in the South Sea 
Islands, the closest similarities of language and custom are 
sometimes found in places far distant one from another. 

The following are Mr. Stewart's comments, given in 
extenso : — 

" All this appears very arbitrary. I have tried in vain to find some 
reason for the arrangement. I asked, * To what division does a 
bullock belong ? ' After a pause, came the answer, ' It eats grass : it is 
Boortwerio. ' I then said, ' A crayfish does not eat grass : why is it 
Boortwerio \ ' Then came the standing reason for all puzzling 
questions : * That is what our fathers said it was.' 

" A man does not kill, or use as food, any of the animals of the 
same subdivision with himself, excepting when hunger compels ; and 
then they express sorrow for having to eat their wingong (friends) 
or tumanang (their flesh). When using the last word they touch their 
breasts, to indicate the close relationship, meaning almost a part of 
themselves. To illustrate : — One day one of the blacks killed a crow. 
Three or four days afterwards a Boortwa (crow), named Larry, died. 
He had been ailing for some days, but the killing of his wingong 
hastened his death. A Kumite may kill and eat any tuman of the 
Kroki, and a Kroki may likewise use any tuman of the Kumite. In 
the blood revenge arrangement, these subdivisions bear a prominent 
part. Also, in cases of uncertain death, the tuman of the slayer will 
appear at the inquest." 

Do we not find here an explanation of that curious rever- 
ence shown to certain animals and things by savage tribes ? 
and can this reverence be said to amount to " deification ?" 
The totem has evidently no inherent sanctity. It is rever- 
enced only by the group which it indicates ; and by them, 
not because it is above them as a divinity, but because it is 
one with them, because it is the " flesh" of the body 
corporate whereof they themselves are parts. It is literally 
" bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh." A Kumite 
may kill a Kroki titman without shocking the feelings of 
the Kumites, or even of the Krokis ; but he cannot kill one 
of his own tuman without impiety. Here we see the force 
of Orestes' plea before the Areopagus. Klytemnestra was 


his mother, but she was not a part of the body corporate of 
which he was a part. Her tuman was not his tuman — i.e., 
her flesh was not his flesh. 

Much of what has been called totemism, in the sense of 
the deification of animals or inanimate objects, may be 
traced to this remarkable system. What has seemed to be 
an act of worship in the eyes of travellers and others, whose 
opportunities were not such as to enable them to look below 
the surface, may, in many cases, have been nothing more 
than acts of piety — 'pietas — demonstrations of aflfectionate 
regard towards kinsfolk. It may be objected that savages 
do not, as a rule, show such regard for one another ; but, 
granting this objection (though it is quite open to dispute) 
it must be borne in mind that these so-called " acts of wor- 
ship " are performed to the totem, not as an individual, but 
as the representative of the gens ; and to argue that a 
savage can have no regard for his gens because he does not 
show much affection towards individuals, is to argue that 
we do not lovx our brother because we are not in tlie habit 
of manifesting special tokens of affection to each particular 
hair on our brother's head. To the savage, the whole gens 
is the individual, and he is full of regard for it. Sti'ike the 
gens anywhere, and every member of it considers himself 
struck, and the whole body corpoi'ate rises up in arms against 
the striker. The South Australian savage looks upon the 
universe as the Great Tribe, to one of whose divisions he him- 
self belongs ; and all things, animate and inanimate, which 
belong to his class are parts of the body corporate whereof 
he himself is part. They are " almost parts of himself," as 
Mr. Stewart shrewdly remarks. 

No wonder, then, that savages do not kill, or eat, animals 
of their totem, without, at least, ostensible reluctance ; nor 
that, when driven by hunger to kill one of them, they 
express sorrow, make abject apologies, and sometimes tell 


lies to their slaughtered relative, in order to persuade him 
that it was not they who did the deed, or, at all events 
that they are not to blame for it. This is in fact their 
method of " purification " for an act of impiety. For to 
injure one of those animals is to hurt the whole body cor- 
porate to which they themselves belong. To kill one of 
them is murder within a gens, a crime which sets the Furies 
on the offender's track. To the South Australian Kumite 
it is bloodshedding done upon the great Kumite phi-atria ; 
and so he hastens to purify himself, for he has to appease 
the wrath of half the universe. 



Generally speaking, it is next to impossible to get at 
trustworthy statistics among savage tribes ; but in Fiji we 
are fortunate in having had rare facilities for ascertaining 
them, and Sir Arthur Gordon, Governor of Fiji, has kindly 
placed at my disposal the lately-completed census of the 
native population. Let us see whether we can draw from 
it any information bearing upon Mr. M'Lennan's theory of 
female infanticide. 

It is unnecessary to say that the tribes which have been 
for any length of time under missionary influence are 
useless for our purpose here, because they have been taught 
that infanticide is a crime ; and it may be supposed that 
they ceased to practise it long before annexation took place, 
as far, at least, as regards infants who were permitted to 
see the light. 

But in the hill country of Navitilevu, the largest island 






... 1,717 


... 1,144 


of the group, there are certain tribes upon whom the pax 
Britannica came while they were still heathens, who appre- 
ciated missionaries only from a culinary point of view ; 
and Government officials took the census among them 
within a few months of the time when they were in full 
practice of all the old customs, including infanticide. This 
was univei"sally prevalent among them, and the Govern- 
ment has still much trouble to put it down. For all 
practical purposes, therefore, the statistics now gathered 
may be held to represent fairly enough wdiat we may call 
their natural state. Their numbers in one of the tholo, or 
hill-country districts, are as follows : — 




The census from which these figures are extracted was 
taken soon after the subjugation of the mountaineers by 
Sir Arthur Gordon, in the war which was forced upon him 
by their own misconduct, and which was ably and merci- 
fully* conducted to a most satisfactory ending. Inasmuch, 
therefore, as the statistics might have been affected by the 

* I use the word "mercifully" of set purpose, because of certain stric- 
tures which have been passed upon the conduct of the war ; and, in so 
doing, I only repeat here what I published elsewhere at the time when the 
events occurred. The military executions were severe, but in their severity 
lay their mercy. Savages ought to be borne with as long as possible, and 
then just a little longer because of their ignorance ; but, when it is abso- 
lutely necessary to punish them, then mercy is cruelty, and what seems to 
us to be cruelty is the truest mercy. They cannot understand that, when 
they deserve punishment, he who has the power to inHict it refrains from 
exercising that power from any motive other than fear of them. Be gentle 
with them when you ought to punish, and j'ou encourage them to worse 
outrages, for which jou will have to deal most severely with them. Show 
them once for all that you are their master, when there is need for the 
showing, and thenceforward you may be as merciful towards them as you 



war, I wrote to Mr. Horace G. Emberson, our Rejristrar- 
General, asking him to give me the numbers of a heatlien 
tribe which had not been engaged in the war, in order that 
I might compare those numbers with the general statistics 
of the mountaineers. With his usual kindness he replied as 
follows : — 

"Your letter is received ; and, as it always has given me pleasure 
to please you, and always will, I set about the work at once, and hope 
the result, though not exactly what you wished, will yet be sufficient. 
I cannot find a heathen tribe which, in some way or other, was not 
engaged in the late war. I have, therefore, selected two districts, of 
which one was for, and the other against, the Government. Their 
numbers are as follows : — " 

Males. Females. 
Aged ... 125 ... 154 
Adults ... 329 ... 337 
Children... 253 ... 183 


Males. Females. 

105 ... 120 

209 ... 233 

177 ... 140 

There was no great loss on either side by actual fighting. 
The losing party, of course, suffered most, and the subse- 
quent military executions fell upon their males exclusively. 
Nevertheless, there is not much difference between the two 
parties in the proportion of males to females among the 
adults, if we take into consideration the unusually large 
excess of male children over female among the Government 

Setting aside the " aged," with whom we are not at pre- 
sent concerned, the proportions of the sexes one to another 
amonof the children and the adults are as follows : — 


All the hill tribes— Males : females : 

: 125-5 : 


Tribes for the Government ... : 

: 1.38-25 : 


against „ ... : 

: 126-5 : 



All tlie hill tribes — Males : females : 

: 97-5 : 


Tribes for the Government ... : 

: 97-G : 


,, against ,, ... : 

: 90-0 : 



These statistics do not cover a population large enough 
to warrant the drawing of any general inference from them ; 
but, as far as they go, they are in direct opposition to Mr. 
M'Lennan's theory. They show that, while the male 
children are in excess of the female, there are more female 
adults than male, which is the case among civilized nations 
also. We arc, however, at present concerned with the 
adults alone ; for Mr. M'Lennan's theory rests upon the 
supposition that the scarcity of women, caused by female 
infanticide, led to the capture of women for wives, and it is 
only among adults that the matrimonial craving would be 
felt. The hill tribes, therefore, contradict this theory, 
because among them the female adults are in excess of the 
male. And those tribes are landowners, who reckon 
descent through the father, and who, therefore, have the 
strongest motives for female infanticide — motives which are 
not found among the lower savages. (See Ante, p. 137.) 

I was at first sight disposed to look uj^on the great 
excess of male children over females — an excess of 25 
per cent., while that of "the European nations is no more 
than 6 — as proof positive that the hill tribes of Navitilevii 
must have been in the habit of killing female children 
rather than male. But, to my great surprise, I found the 
same figures — as far as regards the children — repeating 
themselves among the Lau or Eastern tribes, who have 
been under missionary influence for more than forty years, 
and who certainly have not been killing children after 
birth in the present generation. There may have been 
amonof them much of that form of infanticide which consists 
in killing vmborn children, but this would not affect the 
proportion of the sexes. Their statistics show the same 
extraordinary excess of male children over female, and that 
excess is maintained nearly to its full extent among the 
adults also. 


That their males have not decreased in number between 
childliood and manhood, as among the mountaineers, is 
doubtless owing to the fact that the Lau tribes have done 
very little fighting since they embraced Christianity. They 
have been all but exemj)t from the slaughter of tribal wars, 
minor blood feuds, and private murders, which falls so 
heavily upon the males of heathendom, especially in those 
tribes who capture women for wives, and who therefore 
spare the females, while they kill the males. 

The proportions of the sexes among the Lau tribes — in a 
population of G,7G8 souls — are as follows, according to the 
Government statistics : — 

Chiklren— Males : females : : 129-45 : 100 
Adults— : : 125-00 : 100 

It may be noted here that infanticide, as far as I am 
aware, is never effected by a blow, a cut, a stab, or by 
violence, properly' so called. Bloodshedding, or violence, 
Avould be looked upon with horror as a crime. The methods 
nsed in the South Seas which have come under my own 
observation are exposure, strangling, and burying alive, as 
in the case of the aged also, of widows, and of persons 
disabled by lingering illness, or otherwise disqualified by 
the battle of life. These methods are employed — strange 
as the words may sound — tenderly and lovingly. The 
Fijian mother will murmur " Sleep, my child," as she gently 
compresses the lips and nostrils of her infant till death 
ensues. So, also, the son will kiss and weep over his aged 
father as he prepares him for the grave, and will exchange 
loving farewells with him as he heaps the earth lightly over 

It must also be borne in mind that in many tribes infants 
are not looked upon as members of the clan until they have 
been furnished with nutriment of some kind. I never 


heard of a child beinj; killed after havinfj been admitted 
to membership in the family, excepting in what was looked 
upon as a case of necessity. As when the townsfolk were 
escaping by night from a beleaguered l-oro (village), and 
were fearful lest the crying of their little ones should 
arouse the besiegers ; or when a child had met with a 
disabling accident or sickness ; or when it was deemed 
necessary to destroy an infant in order that its mother 
mififht suckle a child of hiirher rank.* 

* Since this Appendix was written, the Rev. J. Rooney, of the Wesleyan 
Mission in Fiji, has been kind enough to send me the numbers of the 
"Wainimala people, a hill tribe inhabiting fifteen villages, and numbering 
1,719 souls. The census was carefully taken among them by mission 
agents under his direction, and the figures may be accepted as correct. 
Omitting the aged of both sexes, the proportions are as follows : — 

Children- Males : Females : : 133-66 : 100 
Adults— : : 99-07 : 100 




A. W. H O W I T T. 



More than fifteen years ago I commenced, without any 
definite aim, to record all the information I acquired as to 
the Australian aborigines. Subsequently my inquiries 
received a particular direction through joining my friend, 
the Rev. Lorimer Fison, in those ethnological researches 
which in Australasia he has made specially his care. This 
present contribution to Australian ethnology is our joint 
production in so far as we have made a common stock of 
our information. It will be evident in this work, as a 
whole, how great a portion of it is due to my friend 
and fellow-labourer, who has indeed been throughout its 
chief architect. 

I have to thank numerous correspondents in all parts of 
Australia for a mass of information, part of which is only 
made available. Where I have made use of information, I 
have attached the name of my informant. I desire, how- 
ever, to especially express the obligations I am under, for 
the kindest and most unwearied responses to my many 
questions, to the Rev, John Bulmer, of the Lake Tyers 
Mission, Gippsland ; the Rev. J. H. Stable, of the Lake 
Condah Mission, Western Victoria ; the Rev. Julius Klihn, 
of Boorkooyanna Mission, South Australia; the Rev. H. 
Vogelsang, of the Kopperamana Mission, South Australia ; 


Mr. Cyrus E. Doyle, of Kimopia, New Soutli Wales ; and 
Mr. J. Gibson, J.P., of Stanmore, Southern Queensland. 

I hope in the future to avail myself of the still unused 
information for which I am indebted to these and other 


Sale, March, 1880. 


The aboriginal inhabitants of Gippsland, when that district 
was first settled by the whites in 1839, were very numerous. 
What the number of their population may then have been, 
we have now no means of accurately ascertaining. The 
estimates made from memory by those of the earliest 
settlers whom I have questioned do not agree. It is 
scarcely to be expected that they should do so ; but, judging 
from all the inquiries which I have made, I think the 
probable number may have been between 1,000 and 1,500. 

The present number can, however, be given with greater 
precision. An enumeration was made in 1877, at the 
instance of the Royal Commission concerning the aborigines, 
and showed that there were at that time in Gippsland 
52 men, 41 women, and 66 children ; of these, I believe, 
6 men, 6 women, and 7 children did not belong to the 
Gippsland tribe, leaving 140 souls in all. There have been 
some deaths and some births since, of which I have no 
account. The diminution from 1,000 or 1,500 to 140 during 
a period of 32 years cannot be said to be surprising.* It 

* For the following statement I am indebted to the Rev. F. A. 
Hagenauer cind the Eev. J. Bulmer. 

The present number of the Kurnai (January 1, 1879), classed according to 
their clans, is as follows : — 

Kroatungolung ... ... 26 

Brabi'olung ... ... 15 

Tatungolung ... ... 17 










is only in accordance with previous experience as to the 
fate of this aboriginal race when brought into contact with 
the white men throughout Australia, and it is only a further 
instance of a general experience of that which is going on 
all over the world, with greater or less rapidit}^ under 
similar contact of savage coloured races with the civilized 
white races. 

In Australia, this extinction of the aborigines commenced 
with its first settlement. It may be stated broadly that 
the advance of settlement has, upon the frontier at least, 
been marked by a line of blood. The actual conflict of the 
two races has varied in intensity and in duration, as the 
various native tribes have themselves differed in mental and 
physical character, and as those white men with whom 
they have been brought in contact have differed. But the 
tide of settlement has advanced along an ever-widening 
line, breaking the native tribes with its first waves and 
overwhelming their wrecks with its flood. It has not ceased 
to flow ; and from past experience I cannot conceive that it 
will cease until the last tribe has been broken and over- 
whelmed. Still, this actual conflict — bloody, and often 
pitilessly exterminating, as it has been, and still is — cannot 
account for the continuing extinction of those native tribes 
which, like that of Gippsland, have long submitted to the 
yoke of authority. The remains of such tribes have to a 
great extent been brought into settled homes ; and their 
mode of life, as regards many of the younger members at 








66 37 56 

I have information from ]\Ir. Bulmer only as to the proportion of the sexes 
among the children. Of the 21 children at Lake Tycrs, 13 are boys and 
8 girls. 


least, more or less assimilated to our own. It is clear, 
therefore, that some other causes must be in operation. To 
say, as often is said, that these causes are mysterious, 
is only to say that we are ignorant of their nature. 
Let us see whether it is possible to trace some of them. 
If it is possible to do so, those which we can trace 
may point to others which, for the moment, elude our 

When the first settlement of white men was formed in 
Gippsland, the country was found to be well peopled by an 
aboriginal tribe. That these people were physically and 
mentally in accordance with the conditions surrounding 
them — such as climate, food, neighbouring hostile tribes — 
may be inferred from the fact that they existed in 
numerous communities in a country abounding with food. 
Had they not been in accord with such surrounding con- 
ditions, there would have been a want of equilibrium which 
could only have resulted in their becoming gradually 
adapted to those conditions, or extinct. Hence, we may, I 
think, reasonably assume that the aboriginal tribe of 
Gippsland was in accord with surrounding conditions. The 
advent of the white man, however, changed all this. 
Numbers were killed in conflicts with the settlers ; and 
these aborigines were mostly, though not all, fighting men 
of the tribe. Other individuals collected round stations 
and townships. Their food was altered, and, as a whole, 
their society was disorganized, and their general mode of 
life profoundly modified. Not only were their former 
conditions of life, physical and mental, in complete contrast 
to the existing conditions of life, physical and mental, 
introduced by the white men, but the change which they 
made as regarded their old life did not extend to complete, 
or even to near accordance with the new life. They only 
adopted some of the habits of the white men ; but with 


these they also adopted some of the vicious habits of the 
new comers. They fell, it may be said, not only without a 
struggle, but voluntarily into the fatal enticements of 
intoxication ; their women fell, not only into intoxication, 
but into fatally vicious connections with the worst of the 
white men. This reacted again upon the tribe, for, with 
these newly-acquired evil habits, newly-acquired evil 
diseases were introduced. In addition, safeguards to health, 
which had become through custom part almost of their 
nature, were no longer regarded, A blackfellow, or a black 
woman, perhaps, when intoxicated, during winter weather, 
lay down anywhere on the wet ground, instead of sleeping 
in a warm hut whose site was chosen judiciously as 
regarded the wind and weather, I have found them, even 
when half-civilized and living in a house, camping on a 
floor sodden with moisture. It is, therefore, no wonder 
that colds, rheumatism, pneumonia, and phthisis have been 
frightfully and fatally common. Besides these diseases — 
produced probably in greater intensity by their own change 
of habits — other diseases, which the whites generally have as 
children in a mild form, such as measles or whooping-cough, 
attacked them as adults, and with fatal effects. It is 
diflScult to point out all the directions in which change 
of conditions, consequent upon the settlement of Gippsland 
by the whites, has operated injuriously upon the native 

It seems probable to me that many at present obscure or 
unsuspected causes have been, and are, injuriously active. 
From statements made to rae by Dr, Forbes and Dr. Reid, 
of Sale, it seems that the aborigines are much infested by 
hydatids. It may be suspected that this frightful form of 
entozoic disease has been introduced to them by the 
domesticated animals accompanying the whites. It is, so 
far as I know, only of late years that the kangaioos have 


become subject almost universally to entozoa ;* and these 
entozoa have infested the merino sheep in the low-lying 
parts of Gippsland to such a degree as to practically 
exterminate them. Formerly sheep were healthy, and 
throve well where it is now impossible to keep them. 
Although perhaps introduced by the whites, the actual 
spread of hydatids and other forms of entozoa among the 
aborigines may well be connected with their practice of 
eating only partially-cooked meat, and of drinking water 
from swamps and pools. 

It is not necessary to continue the enumeration of 
instances in which altered conditions have been injurious to 
the aboriginal natives of Gippsland. Those I have given 
may suffice ; and I think that, with some show of probability, 
I may allege that the dying out of this tribe has been the 
result, not of some mysterious cause, but the cumulative 
influence of many and various causes, all arising out of 
altered surrounding conditions to which either the aborigines 
must become adapted, or under which they must become 
extinct. If the aborigine could have become physically 
and mentally such as a white man, he would have been in 
equilibrium with his new surroundings. If his physical 
and mental nature had been able to become modified with 
sufficient rapidity to come into equilibrium with the 
changed conditions, he could have survived. But the 
former alternative is self-evidently an impossibility, and 
probably the strength of hereditary physical and mental 
peculiarities has made the latter alternative also an impos- 
sibility. The consequence has been that he is rapidly and 
inevitably becoming extinct. it is still possible that 
out of all those who have been collected into missions, some 

* [W. M'Gregor, Esq., M.D., the head of the medical staff in Fiji, 
informs me that entozoa have been fonnd in the parrots in the hill country 
of Navitilevu. These -were probably indigenous. — L. F.] 

186 THE KURNAi. 

may leave descendants, perhaps of half-blood, who may 
survive ; but the number will be small, and in such a case 
become absorbed into the general population. 

The conversion to Christianity, and the settlement in the 
missions, of the Gippsland aborigines has tended to a great 
extent to break dow^n the force of their old customs. These 
customs were handed down through the elders of both 
sexes, and collectively formed an " unwritten law " of 
extraordinary force. When the old people, who are the 
depositories of these customs, die, the knowledge even of 
these customs will die also. It is now almost too late to 
collect all the particulars of their former life. For instance, 
the remarkable class of " birra-arka," wdio professed to 
communicate with the dead, has been long extinct, and 
with its last member is gone also all possibility of asceitain- 
ing what -vv^ere their mystic rites, or what claims they made 
to communion with the spirits, and to a knowledge of 
future events. 

Apart from any other difficulties, the usual difficulties 
met with in collecting information as to the beliefs and 
customs of aborigines are sufficientlj^ formidable in them- 
selves. It is necessary that the inquirer and the source of 
information should have a common language. There must 
be complete confidence by the aborigine in his questioner, 
otherwise he will become perfectly obtuse. The investigator 
must have so much acquaintance with the habits and 
mode of thought of the Australian savage as to be able, as 
it were, to project himself into the native mind. Some of 
these requisites I have been so fortunate as to command. 
Many of the Gippsland afl)origines speak English fairly, 
which, with the slight knowledge of their language I possess, 
sufficed for my purpose. I had gained their confidence 
through mutual acquaintance, and they regarded me almost 
as one of themselves, as affiliated to them, or, as they express 


it, a " brogan." My official position in the district gave me 
much influence ; and, finally, among those from whom I could 
most easily obtain information, there was one Tulaba who 
was a perfect repository of the customs and beliefs of his 
tribe ; and that which he did not fully know was supplied 
by his wife. Thus I have been enabled to collect, from 
time to time, numerous fragments. I have now pieced 
them together in such order as I could achieve. That the 
fabric is incomplete, I fully perceive ; but it may serve to 
show dimly what is the domestic and social life of a savage 
tribe, and, perhaps still more dimly, what may have been 
the domestic and social life of the ancestors of barbarous 
and of civilized races. If it is thought to do this, then my 
object will have been gained.* 

Finally, in explanation of the title of this essay, I may 
mention that the name Kiirnai is that which the aborigines 
of Gippsland give to themselves, signifying " man ;" and it 
is remarkable that the word Kurna is similarly applied, 
having the same meaning, by the Dieri of Cooper's 

In writing the native words in this essay, I have followed 
the subjoined rules : — The consonants are sounded as in 
English. always hard, as in go ; c is not used, and ch as 
in cJiild, but never where k would express the sound. The 
nasal sound of g, at the beginning of a word, as ng. The 

* In this memoir on the Kiirnai, I have occasionally used the present 
tense in speaking of their customs, when the past would have been more 
correct. While making this alteration, during the passage of this work 
through the press, in those passages which relate to their marriage 
customs, I have thought it well to let other minor passages stand as 
oricnnally written. It is from the manuscript in its original form that 
Dr. Morgan has quoted in his Introductory Note. 

t [The name of a South Australian tribe, the Narinyeri, has the same 
meaning. They also call all other tribes " Merkani " — wild, savage — 
as the Kvirnai call other tribes Brajerak. (Informant, E,ev. Geo. Taplin.) 
— L.F.] 


vowels are sounded thus : a as in father ; e as in there ; 
i as in fatigue ; o as in old ; u as in unite ; U as in sun ; 
u as 00 in moon ; ai as i in light ; any other diphthonj^s 
required will be illustrated in the first instance by some 
English word in a footnote. 


The infant Kurnai is at first only recognized as a child — The child. 
lit. The terms hoy and girl — wot-woti and kuerejting — are 
not applied until the child reaches the age of eight or nine 
years. In infancy the young Kurnai is an object of love 
and pride to its father and mother. From observation of 
various tribes in far distant parts of Australia, I can assert 
confidently that love for their children is a marked feature 
in the aboriginal chai'acter. I cannot recollect having ever 
seen a parent beat or cruelly use a child; and a short road 
to the goodwill of the parents is, as amongst us, by noticing 
and admiring their children. No greater grief could be 
exhibited, by the fondest parents in the most civilized 
community at the death of some little child, than that 
which I have seen exhibited in an Australian native camp, 
not only by the immediate parents, but by the whole 
related group. In this the Kurnai are not singular. I have 
found the same feelings strongly developed among the 
Dieri of Cooper's Creek. 

I remember, at Lake Hope, a Dieri father proudly bringing his 
little boy for me to see. The boy was about eight years of age ; was 
sharp and intelligent ; and made himself useful in fetching wood for 
the fire, and remained about our encampment that afternoon. The 
following morning, whilst we were packing up preparatory to moving 
oft', the father returned in the greatest grief. The bf)y could not be 
found, and he supposed that I had concealed him. His countenance 
exhibited the extreme of grief, and tears furrowed the grime upon 
his cheeks. He wrung his hands, and exclaimed, " My boy ! my boy ! 
Wliere is he ? Wliere have you hidden him ? " He could only be 
pacified by being allowed to feel all over the packages, to ascertain that 
his boy was not hidden therein. 


Infanticide On the othcr hand, the Kurnai, undoubtedly, were £(uilty 
of infanticide, and the greatest risk to life through which 
the infant passed was probably during the first few hours 
of its young life. On speaking to a number of the Kurnai 
upon this subject, they gave me the following explanation. 
It was often difficult to carry about young children, par- 
ticularly where there were several. Their wandering life ren- 
dered this very difficult. It sometimes happened that when a 
child was about to be born, its father would say to his wife, 
" We have too many children to carry about — best leave 
this one, when it is born, behind in the camp." On this, the 
new-born child was left lying in the camp, and the family 
moved elsewhere. The infant, of course, soon perished. 
The Kurnai drew this singular distinction, that "they 
never knew an instance of parents killing their children, 
but only of leaving behind new-born infants." The 
aboriginal mind does not seem to perceive the horrible idea 
of leaving an unfortunate baby to die miserably in a 
deserted camp, crawled over by ants and flies, and probably 
devoured by wild dogs. It may be that the feelings of 
affection arising from association and dependence have not 
in such a case been aroused, and the natural parental 
feelings seem to be overborne by what they conceive to be 
the exigencies of their circumstances.* 

Naming When the child can walk, it is named. The name is 

given by the paternal grandfather or grandmother, or, in 

* Buckley says of the Port Phillip tribes ("Life and Adventures," &c., 
p 143), "The women seldom have more than six children, and not often so 
many. So soon as they have as many as they can conveniently carry about 
and provide for, they kill the rest immediately after birth." 

[An old Fijian chief, who counted for me on his fingers no fewer than 
fifteen of his children who had been killed when infants, and who were 
buried in one corner of his house, defended the practice of infanticide by 
the following curious argument: — "E senga so ni tamata na ngone sa 
nggai sutlui vou. Sa mbera mai na yalona." Which maybe rendered — 
" A new-born child is scarcely a human being. Its spii-'d has not yet come 
toU."—h. F.] 


default, by the mother's parents, and may be that borne by 

some former member of the family. 

For instance, Tulaba, a Brabrolung Kurnai, was, when a child, 
named Barrumbulk (teal) by his maternal grandfather. This was the 
name of his mother's deceased brother. When, as a youth, he was 
initiated into manhood, a maternal uncle named him Tulaba. This 
name had belonged to a grand ancestor. 

The child's name became a " secret name " when the 
individual subsequently acquired a new one at initiation, or 
as an elder. To mention the secret name would be a 
serious breach of custom and good manners.* 

Thus Long Harry in telling me his secret name of Turl-Bum, did so 
in a whisper, when no one else was present. In speaking to him of one 
of the Kurnai, I said, having mentioned his English name, " What is 
his Kurnai name?" He reialied, "I cannot tell you; he might be 
very angry with me if I did ; and our fathers have told us that we 
must never speak about the secret names." 

The boy being now spoken of as wotti, and, as a youth, as 
" wot-woti," still lives with his parents, and, together with 
his sister, is very much under the control of his mother. 
The girl is called kuerejting, and an elder girl, approaching 
marriageable age, would be spoken of as tutbukan. 

The perforation of the septum of the nose was usually Perfora- 
made while the boy was growing up, but some time before ^^q, 
he was initiated. It might be that some of the men would 
notice him as " growing." The young men, his friends, 
might say to him, " You ought to have ' Ngrung ;' f it won't 
hurt you." He consents. He then lies down on his back, 
some friend takes hold of the septum of his nose, extends it, 
moistens it with saliva, and then rapidly pierces it with a 

* I have throughout this work used the native names of the Kttrnai 
even where they are reported as speaking of each other. It must be 
understood that I do this for the sake of clearness. The Kurnai never 
mention each other's names if it can be avoided. I have therefore often 
placed in speakers' mouths names of persons where they would have 
avoided them. 

t Ngrfing, or Ngriing-kong. Ngrung = hole, Kong =: nose. 



not made 
by the 

sharp bone instrument. The patient must not show any 
sign of feeling pain. He then jumps up and extends 
his arms out quickly from the shoulder, and jerks each leg 
in succession. This proceeding being supposed to aid the 
" Ngrting-Kong " in causing him to gi'ow big and strong. 

The young men were not scarred ; but some few obtained 
these marks from the aborigines of Maneroo, their neigh- 
bours. But the young women were scarred across the back 
and arms, the proceeding being intended merely as an 
ornament. The Kurnai say it is to make them le-en 
rukut, that is, nice-looking women. 

Mr. J. C. Macleod, one of the first settlers of Gippsland, told me, 
long ago, that when he first saw the blackfellows at Buchan (Biikan 
Munji) they were not scarred. He was accompanied by a Maneroo 
black boy, who was scarred according to the custom of his tribe. On 
making friends with the Kurnai, one of them was persuaded by my 
informant to be similarly ornamented. He was gashed on each arm, 
and others of his friends followed his example. Mr. Macleod told me 
that he afterwards saw a number of others who had followed the new 

luitiation When about arriving at puberty, it was considered that 

to man- i i i i i i • i • i 

hood and the young people should take their place in the community. 

hood. They were no longer to be children. The old people talked it 
over; not only the old men, but the elders both male and 
female. If, after counsel, it was found that the young 
people were sufficiently numerous, the initiation was deter- 
mined upon, and the first steps taken. Two messengers 
were sent from the division or the clan taking the 
initiative to the division or the clan nearest to it. These 
men were called lewin, or specially lewinda-jeira-alla, that 
is, the messengers of the jerraeil or initiation. Their 
functions were to convey the news only to the next division, 
or clan, which then sent out t\vo lewin of its own people, 
and so on until the whole of the Kurnai were infoi'med. 
The only exception to this custom was in the case of the 


Snowy River Kurnai, whose young men were not initiated.* 
But they are unable to assign any reason for this. The 
lewin may be described very sufficiently by the English 
term now adopted by the Kiirnai, namely, " mailman." 
That is, one whose business it is to convey messages and 
carry news. This custom of the " mailman " is probably 
universal throughout Australia, and the office may also be 
said to partake somewhat of the sacred character of the 
" herald." They not only communicated between the 
various clans within the tribe, but also between these clans 
and clans of other and, perhaps, hostile tribes. I have been 
told by the Kurnai that lewin have been sent by them to 
the Brajerak or Maneroo tribe, with whom, otherwise, no 
communication was kept up excepting of a hostile character. 

I have met with similar " mailmen " in Central Australia. The 
extraordinary rajDidity with which messages were sent often suri3rised 
me. On the first day on which I reached Cooper's Creek, when 
searching for the lost explorers, Burke and Wills, my arrival was 
telegraphed by two " mailmen " to the Yantriiwunta, a clan of the Dieri- 
speaking tribe, with whom the survivor of Burke's party was then 
living. Similarly, news of the whereabouts of the explorer, M'Kinley, 
was conveyed by the Dieri natives, and from them to me by successive 
" mailmen," who commenced to travel not far south of the tropics and 
among tribes beyond the Dieri boundary. In one case I halted for 
the night close to an encampment of the Dieri, and only separated from 
them by a narrow sheet of water. Two "mailmen" had arrived that 
evening from the south, and retailed their messages and news to their 
hosts. The assembly was kept up until late in the night, the speeches 
of the " mailmen " being accompanied by the tap tap of the stones with 
which the women were pounding seeds for cakes. 

News of the intended initiation having been thus 
conveyed from clan to clan through the length and breadth 
of the Kurnai country, the proceedings commenced in the 
clan with which they had originated. The time was fixed 

* The Gournditch-mara tribe, of Western Victoria, according to the Rev. 
J. H. Stable, had no ceremonies of initiation. 



on the return of the leivinda-jerra-alla. The particulars 
which I now give as to the ceremonies have been collected 
from those who participated in the last ceremony ever 
held, now many years ago. The settlement of the country 
- by the whites, the establishment of mission stations — where 
the native customs are viewed with the utmost disfavour — 
and the rapid extinction of the Kurnai, all these causes 
tofjether have broken down the custom, and it has become 
a thing of the past for ever. In order to ascertain as 
clearly as possible what the ceremonies were, I prevailed 
upon some of the Brabrolung and Tatungolung men to give 
me a representation. I regretted it was not a dress 
rehearsal ; nevertheless, the actors were in their parts con 
amore. The past seemed to revive in them. They were 
no longer the wretched remnant of a native tribe dressed 
in the cast-ofF garments of the white men, but Kurnai — 
Ceremony ^j^g descendants of Yeerung* — performing a ceremony 
initiation, handed down to them through their ancestors from the 
mystic pair, Yeerung and Djeetgun.-j- The ceremony com- 
mences by the women beating their rolled-up rugs in slow 
time — not all at the same place or at the same moment, 
but scattered round the camp, and, as it were, answering 
each other. The youths and girls are seated in a long line 
on the ground. The youths in the front row, with legs 
crossed under them and their arms folded. They look 
straight forward. Behind each youth sits a girl called 
krau-un.:|: She is his companion, and each pair has been 
allotted after careful consultation by the elders.§ But the 
krau-un is only a comrade, and no more — the Kurnai 

* The Yeeriing is a small bird, the Emu-wren (Stipiturus Malachurus). 
t The Djeetgtin is the Superb warbler, Malurus Cijaneus. 
X An a,s 01V in "how." 

§ The Krau-un was, for instance, a female cousin, and the Bullerwang a 
^ale cousin. 


■carefully pointed out that they were but like sisters, and 
not like wives. Each girl sits behind her comrade in the 
same attitude as his, but with her eyes cast down. Behind 
the pair stands the boy's mother, holding her "yamstick"* 
•erect, resting on the ground. The young people are dressed 
and ornamented to the height of Kurnai elegance. They 
^re painted with pipeclay and red ochre (miirlu and naial). 
The boys have feathers about them, and the girls have, in 
addition, the ears of the native bearf tied above their own, 
and the tails of the native dingo J hanging down the baclv. 
From each side of the head depends one of the skin aprons 
worn by the men (bridda bridda), made from the skin of a 
kangaroo-rat. Each girl w^ears the woman's kaiun,§ and 
the whole of her person from the waist down is concealed 
by an opossum rug. All is attention. At a signal, given 
by the remainder of the women beating their rugs in slow 
time, the mothers stamp their yamsticks, and eacli youth 
and girl reclines the head sharply towards one shoulder ; 
at the next beat of the rugs and stamp of the yamsticks the 
heads sharply recline over the other shoulder. But the 
body remains unmoved, the arms are still crossed, and tlie 
boys still keep their eyes to the front, while the girls keep 
theirs cast down. Then is heard the sound of slow chaunt- 
ing in the forest. The sounds come nearer, and all the 
men appear in line. They keep step and time with their 

* A long pointed staff used for digging roots, and also for defence. 
When a girl is growing up, her mother gives her a "yamstick," which, 
among other purposes, is used to keep off importunate admirers. 

t Phascolarctos Kouala. 

J The wild dog has a handsome bushy tail. 

§ The kaitin was a kind of apron formed of strings of twisted opossum 
fur. It extended from the waist nearly to the knee, and concealed the 
thighs. It was worn by every young girl until she was married. A Kurnai, 
in speaking of this, said to me lately, "By-and-bye the bra (husband) 
breaks the string Avhich holds it, and throws it away." The kaitm was only 
worn by the girls. 


chaunt. They are thickly smeared with charcoal. Their 
heads are ornamented with feathers, and painted with 
naial. Down to the waist they are all wound round with 
frayed stringybark in thick folds. From the waist down- 
wards they are naked. Each man has a thick bushy tuft 
of grass passed through the perforated septum of his nose. 
In one hand each bears a long fiat strip of thick bark. 
As they wind rapidly forward, each one beats his strip of 
bark on the ground with a hollow sound. They chaunt — 
"Yehl yeh :* Wah ! wah ! wah ! Yeh ! yeh 1 Yeerimg 1 
3'eerung !" When they reach the space in front of the 
seated line of youths and girls, the men run round in a ring, 
beating their strips of bark on the ground and chaunting as 
before. Then they form before the line, a man before each 
pair, and again the chaunt commences. The ground is 
beaten, the boys and girls move their head from side to 
side, the mothers stamp the ground with their sticks. It 
is faster, but the time is perfectly kept. 

The man facing the boy is his " bullerwang," who has to 
look after him during the ceremony, and he is painted about 
the eyes to resemble the " black duck," after which he is 
named. The next part of the ceremonies is that the boy 
rises to his feet, and, at a given signal, each bullerwang 
raises his boy up into the air, the boy aiding by giving a 
spring. He is now no longer a wot-wotti, but a tutnurrung. 

Boughs are now spread on the ground, and on them the 
boys are laid side by side on their backs. They neither 
move nor speak, but when they are in want of anything, 
they call the bullerwang by imitating the chirping note of 
the yeerting. The boys lie there all night, there is no sleep 
in the camp, the chaunting continues, the women beating 

* This is sounded like the termination of our Hurray ! and is said by the 
Kilrnai to be an exclamation of triumph. 


time on their rugs. Next morning, about ten o'clock, there 
is a respite, and they get breakfast. About noon the cere- 
monies recommence. So it continues for two or three clays. 
At length, early in the morning, about daybreak, the old 
women are heard chaunting " Yeh ! yeh ! Wah ! wall ! wah ! 
Yeh ! yeh ! Djeetgun ! djeetgim ! " A line is formed — the 
mothers stand in front of their sons ; behind them stand 
the bullerwangs — each one holds a branch in his hand — their 
arms and legs move and quiver rapidly — the branches rustle 
— the sibilant note of the djeetgun is heard, and at this the 
boys rush forward past their mothers ; the biillerwangs catch 
them, and hasten away with them into the forest. There 
the boys remain several months, as the Kurnai express it, 
""frightened at the sorrow of their mothers." But the 
initiation is not yet completed. During their absence they 
live together, and are visited by the bullerwangs alone. They 
eat opossum, native bear, kangaroo, but not porcupine ; and 
of these animals they are only permitted to eat the males — 
the females are forbidden to them.* 

About a week after the boys have run away from their 
mothers into the bush, the old men go out and make certain 
wooden instruments called ttirndun. The women are not 
permitted to know anything about this. Three or four of 
the very old men who cannot hunt remain with the lads to 
look after them. In the evening after supper time, when it 
is beginning to be dusk, the other old men come up, each 
bringinsj with him a ttirndun. Each lad has his head 
covered up in a 'possum rug, so that he cannot see anything 
but the ground. An old man puts a throwing stick under 
the rug, and says, " Look at the murrawun — look where it is 
going to !" Then he lifts the murrawun, pointing upwards, 
the boy's eyes fixed upon it. Then he points to the old 

* Porcupine (Echidna HystrLc) is reserved as food for the elders. 


men round, who, in the twilight, are sounding the tumduns^ 
and says, " See the turndun !" This has been done to all the 
boys at the same time. They stare at the strange sight — a 
wonderful thing, such as they have never seen before. 
Each boy is held by an old man by the back of the neck 
with the left hand, while in the right he points a spear to 
the boy's eye, and says, " If you tell this to any woman you 
will die — ^you will see the ground broken up and like the 
sea ; if you tell this to any woman, or to any child, you will 
be killed."* 

When the time has arrived at which the youth may 
return, his face is painted with pipeclay and red ochre ; 
feathers are placed in his hair. The mothers are placed in 
a line — before each one is a bark vessel full of water — 
before each one stands her son. She stoops to drink — he 
splashes a little water in her face — she rises up with a 
mouthful of water, which she squirts over his head ; and she 
repeats this till he is well wetted. The ceremonies are now 
ended. He is no longer under his mother's control. He is 
a man. He is no longer wot-wotti, or tutnurrung, but 
jerra-eil. From this time the young men (brewit) are no 
longer part of the paternal and maternal group, but live in 
a camp of their own. 

All the jerra-eil who have been initiated at the same 
time are brothers, and in the future address each other's 
wives as " wife," and each other's child as " child." 

It was from Tiilaba that I first obtained particulars of this custom, 
and who afterwards arranged the rehearsal of the ceremony. I said 
jokingly to him, "lam jerra-eil now." He replied, "Yes, now you 
are my brogan. " Being his brogan, it followed, as I have said, that a 
peculiar relation was established, and in accordance with the custom, 
his wife often addressed me as "bra bittel " (my husband), whilst I 
spoke to her as " rukut bittel " (my wife). 

* See Appendix E. 


The ceremony which I have described may seem to lis 
but trivial, but to the Ktirnai it has been an ancient custom 
of great moment. It formed a bond of peculiar strength, 
binding together all the contemporaries of the various clans 
of the Kurnai.* It was a brotherhood including all the 
descendants of the eponymous male and female ancestors, 
Yeerung and Djeetgun. 

The young man, or brewit, after his initiation may be The young 
said to have commenced a life independent, to some extent, biWit. 
of his parents. He lived with the other young men, 
and with those who were initiated with him and are his 
" brothers." On the other hand, the girl still lived with 
her parents. After a while the young man thinks it time 
to be married. For him a wife might not be within the 
prohibited degrees of brother and sister, which include all 
those whom we call cousins. She might not be of his 
division of the clan — nor, as I shall show later on, at least in 
some cases, of the division to which his mother belono-ed. 
She might even be a "Brajerak,"-|- could he find one 
to accept him, or could he acquire such a Avoman by 
conquest. But properly she should be a Djeetgun as he 
is a Yeerung. 

Bruthen Munji, whom I shall often mention, together with his 
nephew Tulaba, were both Bruthen Brabrolung — the former got his 
-wife from the Kroatiingolung, of Lake Tyers, the latter from the 
Brt-britta, at the Lakes entrance. They both ran away with them. 
Subsequently Tulaba had a second wife after the death of the first, 
who was a Brabrolung of Wy-Yung. He did not run off with her, as 
she was a widow. 

The Kurnai have told me that they were frightened to go to Maneroo 
for wives, but that the Brajerak, who were a strong tribe, used to 

* The Kroatun Kurnai were not initiated. They cannot assign any 
reason for this. 

t This word is used to designate any other aboriginal native than one of 
the Kurnai tribe. As Ktirnai means man, so Brajerak means loild man from 
Bra — man, and yeerak or jeerak — angry or savage. 


come down thence for wives to Gippsland. I aiu told that sometimes 
they stole them, but that occasionally a strong party would come down 
and suddenly appear at a camp of the Kiimai at break of day, and by 
threats compel them to give up women to them for wives. 

Marriage The youn<T Kurnai could, as a rule, acciuire a wife in one 

customs. 1 . ^ . 

way only. He must run away with her. Native marriage 
might be brought about in various ways. If the young man 
was so fortunate as to have an unmarried sister, and to have 
a friend who also had an unmarried sister, they might arrange 
with the girls to run off together ; or he might make his 
arrangements witli some eligible girl whom he fancied, and 
who fancied him ; or a girl, if she fancied a young man, might 
send him a secret message, asking, " Will you find me some 
food ? " And this was understood to be a proposal. But in 
every such case it was essential for success that the parents of 
the bride should be utterly ignorant of what was about to 
take place. It was no use his asking for a wife excepting 
under most exceptional circumstances, for he could only 
acquire one in the usual manner, and that was by running off 
w^ith her.* 

" As my friend and correspondent, the Eev. J. Buhner, of Lake Tyers 
mission, expressed doubts to me as to the accuracy of my informants' 
statements on this point, I not only re-examined them, but, in order to 
obtain a check, I went to the Ramahyfick mission, and there questioned 
four women who were most likely to be able to speak positivel3^ They 
were of the Briakolung and Bratauolung clans. I questioned them as to 
the marriage customs of the Kurnai he/ore tlie ichite man came. Of these 
women, one was young, one middle aged, and two old ; and all were, or had 
been, married. One woman, "Nanny," is the oldest living Gippsland 
aborigine, having been a widow, with grey hair, when Angus M'Millan 
discovered the country. She stated positively that the rule was that all 
young women ran off with their husbands ; and she could only recollect 
three cases wlicre girls had been given away. Her own was one of these, 
and she explained it by saying that she had no parents, but only brothers, 
who gave her to a friend ; and that in such a case there would be no 
necessity for running away, or for the husband having to fight his wife's 
relatives. This instance proves the rule and explains the exception, at 
any rate among the Briakolung Kfirnai. There are, however, indications 
tliat this rule, as also the rules regulating intermarriage between certain 
divisions, were relaxed among the Brabrolilng and the Kroatungolilng. 


A Tatungolung man gave me the following illustration : " Perhaps 
a, Kroa tun would want a wife. Perhaps he might be a nice-looking 
young man. He would go down into the Tatungolung country. He 
would sneak about till he saw a nice yoiing girl. They would look at 
«ach other and smile ; but not too near, or the father and mother 
would see. Then, at the corroboree in the evening, the young man 
would say, ' I like you ; we will run away, only not yet. ' Then 
they wait for the next corroboree and run off. The father and 
brothers are very angry, and look out for him to fight him. ' ' 

Sometimes, however, it might happen that the young men 
were backward. Perhaps there might be several young girls 
who ought to be married, and the women had then to take 
the matter in hand when some eligible young men were at 
the camp. They consulted, and some went out in the forest, 
and with sticks killed some of the little birds, the yeerting. 
These they brought back to the camp, and casually showed 
them to some of the men ; then there was an uproar. The men 
were very angry. The yeerungs, their brothers, had been 
killed ! The young men got sticks ; the girls took sticks 
also, and they attacked each other. Heavy blows were 
struck, heads were broken, and blood flowed, but no one 
stopped them. But the Kurnai tell me that those young 
men only fought who might got married, not those newly- 
made jerrali, who were supposed to stand back, not liking 
to see the women's blood. 

Perhaps this fight might last a quarter of an hour, then 
they separated. Some even might be left on the ground 
insensible. Even the men and women who were married 
joined in this free fight. The next day the young men, the 
brewit, went and in their turn killed some of the women's 
" sisters," the birds djeetgtin, and the consequence w^as that 
on the following day there was a worse fight than before. 
It was perhaps a week or two before the wounds and 
bruises were healed. By-and-bye, some day one of the 
eligible young men met one of the marriageable young 


women ; he looked at her, and said, " Djeetgun !" She said,, 
" Yeeriing ! What does the yeerimg eat ?" The reply was, 
"He eats so and so," mentioning kangaroo, opossum, or 
emu, or some other game. Then they laughed, and she ran 
off with him without telling any one.* 

In all cases, therefore, excepting those rare instances 
where a girl had no parents,-}" and her brothers gave, or 
exchanged, her away, or in the case of widows, the bride had 
to run off with her chosen husband. The bride's family were 
furious. The male relatives searched for her — sometimes 
with success, sometimes without success. If the couple could 
remain away till the girl was with child, it is said that she 
would be forgiven. If, on the contrary, she was found and 
brought back, or if she herself returned, she was severely 
punished. Her father, perhaps, speared her — through the 
leg or both feet — and her mother and brothers might severely 
beat her. As for her husband, whenever he returned, he had 
to fight her male relatives, and he was unable ever to look at, 
speak to, or live in the same camp with his wife's mother. 
It might become necessary for them to elope two, or even 
three, times before they were forgiven. At length the family 
becoming tired of objecting — the mother might say, " Oh ! 
it's all riffht, better let him have her." It is not morc than 
three years since a young girl, who was being educated 
at one of the missions, ran off thus with a young Maneroo 
black boy. 

It is said to have often occurred that, where a man's wife 

* Hujusmodi institutiim apud aborigines constabat, juvenem prius 
sodalibus suis cousilium suum per sociiim (Brogan apjjellatum) iudicere 
consuesse, quam a castris adolescentulam abduceret. Posti'idie in locO' 
quodam idoneo, a castris renioto, juvenes delecti e gente ejns abductam 
seriatim strupraverunt ; inde doninm reverterunt. Postea autem abduc- 
toris primi femina omuino habobatur. 

t I have been tobl that in rare instances the father has been prevailed, 
upon by his son to gice his daughter away in the first instance. 


had an unmarried sister, the father would, when the first 
elopement had been condoned, give the second sister to his 
daughter's husband — the alleged reason being that the 
parents would then have a double supply of food ;* and there 
is no doubt that the husband had a right to his deceased 
wife's unmarried sister, which would be admitted by the 
father in some clans, or, among others, could only have 
effect if the widower could carry off his wife's sister from 
the camp before her relatives could prevent him. 

The curious custom, in accordance with which the man ^he 
was prohibited from speaking to, or having any communi- t,etVeen 
cation or dealings with, his wife's mother, is one of extraor- ^°j{^""^^^^' 
dinary strength, and seems to be rooted deep down in their {|J°^*^^^'"^* 
very nature. So far as I know it is of wide-spread 
occurrence throughout Australia, "f* 

A Brabrolung, who is a member of the Church of England, was one 
day talking to me. His wife's mother was passing at some little 
distance, and I called to her. Suffering at the time from cold, I could 
not make her hear, and said to the Brabrolung " 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 
responding. I then said, " What do you mean by taking no notice of 
me I " He thereupon called out to his wife's brother, who was at a 
little distance, " Tell Mary Mr. Howitt wants her," and, tux'ning to me, 
continued reproachfully, ' ' You know very well I could not do that — 
you know I cannot speak to that old woman. " 

The young Kurnai, having at last succeeded in obtaining The 
a wiie, and in being recognized by his wife's family, may be famUy^ 
said to be free of two divisions. He commenced a partly 

* As to the obligation to supply food to the wife's parents, see Appendix. 

+ [This is confirmed by many of my informants. Among the Kamilaroi, 
if a man be compelled to speak with his mother-in-law, the pair will turn 
their backs upon one another and shout as if they were far apart. A 
Queensland correspondent writes — "If a man be accidentally brought in 
contact with his mother-in-law, their mingled fear and shame are a sight to 
see."— L.F.] 

The same custom is found in some of the South Sea Islands also. 


independent family existence of his own. He wandered over 
the country in which his fathers and fathers' fathers were 
born. It was his inheritance ; but he also might wander in 
the country of his wife's ancestors. 

There was no restriction as to a man having one wife, or 
any number of wives. On the death of the husband, his 
wife went by right to his brother ; and, if he had two or 
more wives, they then went to his brothers, if he had any, in 
order of seniority. It is given as a reason, that the brother 
is the proper person to support his brother's widow and his 
brother's children. The widow might, however, exercise a 
choice. She might refuse to go to her husband's brother, and 
choose some one else. In this case the brother-in-law had no 
remedy except, as I am told, by endeavouring to kill her by 
bulk, that is, by witchcraft. 
Customs at When the time arrives at which the birth of a child is 
expected, the father is sent away. The women at the camp 
attend the mother, and it is only after a lapse of two weeks 
that the father is permitted to see his wife or the infant. 
During that time he has made his fire apart, and waits. 
When the time has come at which he is permitted to see his 
wife and his child, the paternal grandmother carries it to 
some brebba mungan, that is, " other father," or, in other 
words, the father's brother. The mother goes and sits by 
the father's fire, and, after a time, the paternal grandmother 
carries the infant to them.* 

* Among the Kilrnai it was not customary to tie the umbilical cord 
before severing it. My informants tell me that it was cut by means of a 
piece of quartz (groggin), a mussel shell (nanduun), or a strip of reed (gowflt). 
The Eev. ^Mr. Buhner, of Lake Tj^ers, confirms this. The Ptev. A. F. 
Hagenauer, of the Eamahyuk mission, states that the cord was not sepa- 
rated from the placenta for some four hours. It was then generally cut 
(not broken) with a shell or a I'ced. The string, after being cut, was never 
tied up, but was turned a little upwards, and covered with some fur-skin, 
■or pelt. Nothing else was done. The Gournditch-mara tribe of Western 
Victoria first tied the cord with a piece of kangaroo sinew, and then cut it 


The husband expected strict fidelity to himself from liis Obliga- 

■^ _ ^ "^ ^ _ _ tionsoftiie- 

■wife, but he did not admit any reciprocal obligation on his marriage. 

part towards her. They say, in explanation, " Oh, a man 
can do as he likes." The expected fidelity towards the 
husband was enforced under severe penalties. In the event 
of a woman eloping with some other man, all the neigh- 
bouring men might turn out and seek for her, and, in the 
event of her being discovered, she became common property 
to them until released by her husband or her male relatives.* 
The husband, on his part, probably speared her. Her life was 
in his hand. In some respects the Kurnai differed as regards 
their women from some, if not from many other tribes. 
Each man not only expected his wife to be faithful to 
himself, but he, on his part, never lent her to a friend or to 
a guest.-f 

This is, for instance, the case among the Dieri tribes of Cooper's 
Creek, where it is a hospitable custom to provide a guest with a 
temporary wdfe. Not only is this the custom, but, in their gesture 
language, there is a particular sign — a folding of the hands — which 
signifies this custom, and may either mean a request or an offer, 
according as it is used by the guest or by the host. 

either with a sharp piece of flint or with a reed — (The Rev. J. H. Stiihle,. 
Lake Condah Mission). Among the Kamilaroi of the Gwydir River, 
N.S.W., the cord was knotted in itself, and then severed by the uails 
of the gin attending the mother — (Mr. Cyrus E. Doyle, Werrina, 
Moree, N.S.W.). The Chepara tribe of South Queensland tied the cord 
with kangaroo sinew, and then cut it— (Mr. J. Gibson, J.P. , Stanmore, 

My attention was drawn to this by Mr. Fison, who also, at the 
request of Dr. M'Gregor, chief medical officer of Fiji, made inquiry into 
this matter, and found that the cord is never tied by any of the tribes in 
that group. The Rev. George Brown, F.R.G.S., informs us that the same- 
practice prevails in the Navigator Islands. 

* A similar punishment was inflicted by the Fijians. There is a special 
term for it in their language. The punishment was inflicted openly in the 
rain, a public square of the town. — L. F.] 

+ The custom referred to in footnote, p. 202, seems to contradict this, 
but, I am convinced, is bi;t a survival of a once common right. 

[Taylor, in his " Te Ika a Maui" (p. 1G6, 2nd Ed.) remarks that, among^ 


Although a man might kill his wife under certain circum- 
stances, and his act would be then approved by custom and 
by public opinion, yet, under other circumstances, he might 
not do so without incurring blood feud. For instance, I am 
told that a Brabroliing Kiirnai once killed his wife near the 
Lakes. Her male relatives collected and fought with him. 
He was nearly killed, but ran off and escaped. After this 
they forgave him. The fact of this being regarded as an 
exceptional instance, may be said to prove the general 

We might expect from the fact that, among these savages, 
the pairing family is strictly established — at least on one 
side — that the domestic life, the arrangements of the family 
circle, and the division of labour should conform, more or 
less jDerfectly, to that condition. Let us see what evidence 
of this there is. 
The fiimiiy ^he man has to provide for his family with the assistance 
shared by of his wif e. His share is to hunt for their support, and to 

the man • ^ _ '- '■ ^ 

and fight for their protection. As a Kiirnai once said to me, 

" A man hunts, spears fish, fights, and sits about." The 
woman formerly built the home of bent sticks thatched 
with grass tussocks, but since the aborigines have obtained 
iron tomahawks, the home is made of sheets of bark 

the Maories "every womau was noa, or common, and could select as many 
companions as she liked withoiit Ijeing thought guilty of any improi)riety, 
until she was given away by her friends to some one as her future master. 
Slie then became tapu to him, and was liable to be put to death if found 

If her husband put her away, his tapu no longer guarded her against the 
communal right, and she became noa again. 

It was a common occurrence for all the young men who had a common 
right to a girl to have a struggle for her, each one endeavouring to drag her 
away from the rest. Tlie girl was often seriously, or even fatally, injured by 
her lierce suitors dragging her hither and thither ; and sometimes a baflled 
pursuer, seeing that he had no chance of securing her to himself, would 
plunge his spear into her breast, so that no one else might enjoy the prize 
he had missed. — L. F.] 



stripped from the trees by the man. The woman caught 
:fish and cooked it. She gathered the vegetables, fruit, or 
seeds, which formed part of the food supply, and she wove 
rush bags or made nets. 

When the man went out to hunt, we may, for the sake Commoa 
of illustration, assume that he had other men with him. the catch 
In the event of game being killed, these were entitled to 
a share, more or less, according as they had either actually 
assisted in killing the game, or had only been present. 
T'or example, in the case when a kangaroo was killed by 
one man, and two others were present and assisted, the 
following division would be made : — The tail and one hind 
leg to one assistant ; the other hind leg and the haunch 
to the other assistant ; the remainder to the chief hunter. 
Such game as a kangaroo would be probably cooked in the 
bush before being carried home. Lesser game might be 
cooked, or might be carried home raw. In every case, how- 
ever, whether large game or small, the cooked food was divided 
by the procurer into certain portions, which were allotted 
by custom to various members of his family group. 

In the above instance, of the remainder kept bv the Common 

•^ -^ right to 

bunter, the head, neck, and back piece down to the food in the 


termination of the ribs would be " neborak," and belonged 
to his wife's father, who, in his turn, divided his portion 
with his family. The rest would be muk-je-ak, and would be 
given to the man's father, who divided it with his family.* 
Similar customs, regulating the food supply, appear to 
bave obtained among the tribes of Maneroo, N.S.W., but 
they vary somewhat in detail, and particulars of which will 
be found given in the Appendix. 

* Of neborak no translation can be given. It means the meat given by 
the man to his wife's jjarents. Mtlk-je-ak is derived from mnk == large or 
great— a term of comparison, as muk-le-en = very nice, or very good — and 
from the word jeak = flesh. 


Noprovi- It would scarcely bo expected of a race of savages 

sionof -^ ^ . . .? 

food laid roaming over a certain tract of country, and dependino- 
upon their success in hunting, or in gathering plants, roots, 
fruits, and seeds for their daily support of food, that they 
should make provision for the morrow unless forced to 
exercise prudence and foresight by the dire necessity of 
Avant. Under conditions such as those of Gippsland, this 
necessity would rarely arise. The grassy forests and plains 
were stocked with kangaroo and other varieties of herb- 
ivorous marsupials; the forest trees harboured opossums, 
the native bear, and the iguana ; the rivers and lakes 
swarmed with varieties of fish and eels ; various plants, 
bushes, and trees afforded edible substances in roots, 
berries, or seeds ; and, both on land and water, birds were of 
great number and variety. Food was, therefore, widely 
spread throughout the country, and included almost every- 
thing, from the larv?e of insects to the great kangaroo. In a 
country lying as does Gippsland between the Pacific Ocean 
and the great snowy ranges of the Australian Alps, droughts 
such as periodically desolated a greater part of the continent 
were not likely to occur. Here, then, perhaps less than in 
any other part of Australia, were the aboriginal natives 
likely to be driven by dire experience to develop habits of 
forethought. I am not aware that in any case the Kurnai 
stored up food, or even hesitated to consume or waste an 
over supply through thought for the morrow. 

The only instance in which I found any provision made for the 
future was in the country inhabited by a tribe allied to the Dieri, imme- 
diately south of Sturt's Stony Desert. I there found, carefully 
concealed in a bush, a basket, or small hamper, made of twisted grass, 
and having a lid. The outside was plastered with clay. It contained 
about a bushel of the seed of the rortulaca oleracea (Purslane), which 
those natives use for food, and which is only procurable after rains. 

Customs Not only did custom regulate the distribution of un- 
the caiu]>. cooked or cooked food among the members of the group to- 


whom it \vas common, but it also strictly defined the 
position which might be occupied by the vai'ious members 
in the camp. 

In order to learn something of these rules, I once asked some 
Kumai to point out on a piece of ground where various members of a 
family groiip, whom I named, would camp. From their statements I 
formed a diagram, and from it I extract the following particulars : — 
The starting point is supj^osed to be the camp of a man and his 
wife. The directions are given approximately by compass bearings, 
and the distances by paces. The nature of the ground required that 
the camps should extend in a particular direction. 

Son and son's wife, 5 paces north. 
Father and mother, 20 paces N. 30'-' E. 
Brotlier and brother's wife, 20 paces N. 60° E. 
Wife's father and mother, 100 i^aces or more E. 
Wife's brother and wife, near the last. 
Father's sister and husband, 10 paces S. 30° E. 
Mother's sister and husband, 10 paces S. 60° E. 
Mother's brother's son and wife, 20 paces S. 

In this example the relative places and distances are not, 
of course, intended to convey that those directions and 
those number of paces would in all cases be followed, but as 
indicating a case which might occur and which is an 
example of the general rule. It is necessary to point out 
that the term translated as father's sister's husband would 
also include mother's brother's wife — the relative positions 
of those persons would therefore be the same. 

In the home, also, custom regulates the position of the 
individual. Taking, as an instance, the central group in 
the above, namely, the husband and wife, I may state that 
the former would sleep on the left hand side of the fire, the 
latter behind it; and, close behind her, the children ; nearest 
to her, the little boy, if any ; next to him, the little girl. 
In the event of the man's father and mother being with 
them for a night, the grandfather would occupy the right- 
hand side, the grandmother behind him further back in the 



hut, and the son's wife ami children would move to a 
corresponding position neai- their own " housefather." 

It would be a rule that the wife's sister, although called 
" wife " by her brother-in-law, and calling him husband, 
would not sleep in his hut, but somewhere near at hand. 
Other rules would apply to other members ; and a " brogan," 
although calling the man's wife " wife," and she calling him 
" husband," would have to camp with the young men, if any 
were there, or else by himself. Rules such as these appear 
also to have obtained among the Maneroo aborigines.* 
The When the Kiirnai arrived at mature age, and when 

Kurnai as , 

an old man. he may be supposed to have taken his place among 
the elders of his clan, and was designated " boldain," 
he acquired a new name. The designation which he 
received as a child became his " secret name " when 
he received a new one at initiation, and this again 
often gave way to some name bestowed by his contem- 
poraries from some personal peculiarity. This last name 
was usually compounded of two words, one of which, 
" Bunjil," is a constant, and may be freely rendered " elder," 
the other describing some quality or peculiarity. This 
name was probably his last, and he retained it to his death.-f- 

* According to the Rev. Julius Kiihn similar rules obtained in the Turra 
tribe, South Australia. He says, '• A man's parents tix tlieir cami^ to the 
right-hand side of their son's camp. His brothers to the left side, sister- 
in-law to the right side or near his father's; and from whatever cardinal 
point they arrive, they accordingly fix their camps at some distance from 
the former. In the camp the husband sleeps at the right-hand side of the 
fire, his wife behind him, and her young children behind her. 

+ It is worthy of note that Bunjil or Punjil was, among the Yarra or 
Westernport tribes, a supernatural being, apparently equivalent to the 
baukan of the Kurnai. A Westernport blackfellow once told me that 
Tungil was an old man wlio lived in the mountains at the sources of the 
Yarra river, where he possessed great numbers of cattle. We have here 
an aboriginal belief modified by contact with the whites. It is further 
worthy of note that among those aborigines, so far as I know, Bunjil ::x 

£Such " modified legends " are not uncommon among savages. A Tongan 


Among the Kurnai the names given to two of the elder men whom 
I knew were as follows : — Brmjil Balejan (platypus), in consequence 
of his skill in spearing that animal. Bunjil Tambun (Gippsland perch 
— Lates Colononim), for his skill in catching that fish. A leading 
man in the Briakolung clan was Bfinjil Kraura (west wind). It was 
supposed that he could cause the great west wind to blow so violently 
that the Kurnai could not climb the swaying trees for opossums or 
native bears. He could be projjitiated by presents of food. His name 
designates one of the divisions of that clan . 

Another of the Briakolung was Bunjil Dauangiin. He was 
renowned for making canoes much turned up in front (Dauangun = 
to turn up). His brother Bunjil Ban received his name from a 
supposed extraordinary jjower in that form of sorcery. 

As an illustration of the way in which such names are acquire*!, 
I note the following : — The Mitchell River flows for some thirty miles 
through a gorge-like and inaccessible valley. In order to examine 
this, I caused two Kurnai to make canoes at the upper end, and 
therein we floated down together. The gorge was unknown to them, 
and the navigation was regarded as a great feat in consequence of the 
numerous rapids. For some time it was spoken of among the Brabro- 
ICing, and the name of Bunjil Guyurgun (rapids) was given me. 

Similarly, among the Dieri clans of Cooper's Creek, the word 
Pinnaru (pinna = great) is the analogue of Bunjil. Among those 
natives I was known, and am now, after nearly twenty years, remem- 
bered as Worrawotti Pinnaru (worrawotti = emu^camel), from 
having had a number of camels with my expedition. My friend 
]\I'Kiuley, the explorer, was known as Whilpra Pinnaru, from having 
with him a spring-cart. The term whilpra being a corruption of 
wheelbarrow, which the Lake Torrens natives have acquired from the 
Avhites as the name for a cart or waggon. 

Among the Kurnai age meets with great reverence. A Authority 
man's authority increases Avith his age. If without age eiders. 
he possessed naturally intelligence, cunning, bravery, 
beyond his fellows, he might become a man of note, weighty 
in council, and a leader in war; but this is exceptional, 
and it may be stated as a general rule that authority 
attaches to age. It follows from this that there is no 

once told me a legend which set forth that Napoleon I. was a Tongan who 
went to France to deliver that unhappy country from the tyranny of 
AVellingtou.— L.F.] 


hereditaiy authority and no hereditary chieftain. Tlie 
authority which is inherent to age attaches not alone to 
the man, but also to the woman. In affairs of moment 
the women have a voice, and it is not without weight. 
They consulted wath the men about the ceremonies of 
initiation. They kept alive the stringent marriage laws. 
They are also, with the men, repositories of the ancient 
customs, and strongly influence public opinion. It may be 
said that the head men of the clans were, first of all, 
those who were oldest ; secondly, perhaps, those who, to some 
age, added exceptional qualifications. This principle, regu- 
lating authority, I believe to be not peculiar to the Ktirnai, 
but to be general to the whole Australian race. 

Bruthen Munji, -wliom I have before mentioned, is admitted by 
the Brabrolung to have been one of their men of most note. He was 
not only old, but is described as having been very strong and 
courageous ; sagacious in council and cunning in strategy. This man 
had a brother named Bembinkel, who was also noted for bravery and 
intelligence ; but in these he was eclipsed by his brother. To such an 
extent did Bruthen Munji outshine Bembinkel, that Tfdaba, the son 
of the latter, always speaks of the former as his father ; and it was 
only after years that I found out that Bruthen Munji was his " other 
father " ( = father's brother). 

At the southern verge of Sturt's Stony Desert I encamped for a day 
near a small number of friendly natives speaking the Dieri language. 
In the afternoon a number of old men came to me, and requested that 
I would go and see a very old man at their camp. They spoke of him 
as " pinna pinnaru. " I went, and found him seated in a small hut. 
He was the oldest aborigine I had ever seen up to this time. His 
age I can only conjecture. Had he been of white race, I should have 
said he must have been a hundred years old. Being an Australian 
aborigine, he might be eighty or ninety. That which I have now to 
point out as remarkable is the extraordinary respect and reverence 
shown to him, not only by the women and children and men, but also 
in as great a degree by the elders, who had formed a deiDutation to ask 
me to visit him. 

LcMficrsiiip I have pointed out that there were no hereditary chiefs, 
but that men who were eminent, either by age or by mental 

111 war. 


or physical qualities, took the lead.* This latter, indeed, i^ 
no more than we observe daily in all walks of life with us ; 
and it is a well-known observation that great occasions 
produce great men. This is only stating in other words 
that in momentous times those men who are intellectually 
or physically superior to their fellows come to the front. 
As illustrating this, and as affording a glimpse into the past 
life of the Kurnai, I may give the following, taken down 
almost verbatim from the words of my informant : — 

A number of Kurnai were encamped high up on the Tambo River, 
near the Brajerak country. Some of the men came upon fresh tracks 
of Brajerak. Bruthen Munji was there. He was a very strong 
man, and was very skilful. He returned to the camp, and said to the 
others — "Someone must go and see where they are." He told 
Tankowillun to go, because he was very cunning and of very sharp 
sight. t Such a man is called Benning Benning (spy.) By-and-bye 
he returned, saying, "1 found them ; lots of women and children." 
Bruthen Miinji said, "Yukka tun" (well said). Then they got 
their spears ready. Some men went to hunt for food to leave with 
the women, for they might be two or three days away. Other men 
fixed sharj) pieces of quartz in their spears with gum. Bruthen 
Munji said to the women, " Go away down the river to Jilliin (about 
25 miles). If we do not catch them where they were, we shall not be 
back to-morrow ; then all of you go on to Bruthen. " This was why 
the men had caught so many 'possums for the women. Bruthen 
Munji sent spies off" again. The Kurnai had to wait a good while 
before two of them returned at nightfall. "Where are they?" 
"Down there at the same place where they were this morning." 
"Yukka tun," said Bruthen Munji. The Kurnai then said, "Well, 
what shall we do ? " The two spies replied, " The two others are 
waiting there till night." About sleeping time these returned, and 
gave a signal whistle (the sound here made by the narrator was 
produced by pulling out the lower lip between the thumb and fore- 
linger and sharply drawing the breath through the fold.) All the 

* See Appendix F, as to the Gouruditch-mara tribe of Western Victoria. 

+ This Tankowillun was the father of another Tankowillun now living, 
-whom I shall have to mention later on, as also performing the part of a 
spy. His name is untranslatable to ears polite. 



of captive 


Kiirnai then hatl a corroboree ;* they danced nearly all the night. 
But they did not sing. They were ([uite silent, and only made 
gestures and stamped their feet. In the middle of the night they all 
marched ofl" well armed. They walked until they were about two 
miles from the Brajerak, then they had another silent dance. Then 
they marched again, and, when near morning — there was no moon — 
they got close to them, not more than half a mile away. Two spies 
went first. Two other spies who had gone on now met them. ""Where 
are they?" They reply, " Just here. " The dawn was coming. Then 
all rapidly painted themselves with jiipeclay — red ochre is no use, it 
cannot frighten an enemy — and divided, so as to surround the cami5. 
The spies whistled like birds, to tell when all was ready. Then all ran 
in ; they speared away, they speared away ! They only speared the 
men, and j^erhaps some children. Whoever caught a woman kept her 
himself. Then they eat the skin of the Brajeraks. t 

My informant, in further speaking about this night 
attack, said that, in such cases, children might be saved and 
adopted. If a boy, he would take the place of a son in the 
family of the man adopting him. The boy, on growing up, 
might be called the " Brajerak boy," but he would not 
harbour any revenge, as he would have the " Kurnai 
tongue." A oirl, under such circumstances, would be the 
same as any other girl of the clan. 

Long before the white men came into Gij^psland, a large number 
of the Brabrolung Kroatiingolung and Tatiingohlng went towards 
Maneroo on the war path. At Gellingall, about twenty miles up 
from Buchan, on the river of that name, they left their women, and 
proceeded to a place now known as Fanwick, where their spies 

* Tills is not a Kilriiai word, but has been introduced by the whites. I 
do not know from what tribe it was originally derived — probably of Kew 
South Wales. 

t The skin of the slain Bi ajerak was flayed from the thighs and from the 
side. This was roasted and eaten by the men. Women Avere not iJerniitted 
to witness the proceeding, nor to taste the spoils of the slain. 

[In Fiji, also, at least among some of the tribes, cannibalism was forbidden 
to the women. It is said, however, that some of them indulged on the 
sly. The prohibition docs not seem to have extended to the mountaineers 
of Kavitilevu. In a fight, within my own knowledge, a woman rushed 
upon a fallen warrior, tore his body open with her teeth, and drank his. 
blood. -L. F.] 

THE CLAN. 215 

surprised two Brajerak — an old man and his son. The former was 
killed, but the latter escaped. The skin of the slain man was eaten, 
and his legs cut off, and carried to the camp, where the old men 
roasted them and shared the flesh among the boys, in order " that, 
when the old men were dead, the boys might know what to do. " 

The last narrative was told me by two men who were 
then boys, and shared in the feast. One was Tankowillun 
(the younger), whom I have mentioned ; the other was 
Blair, whom I shall have to mention as an actor in the 
last known blood feud. They told me that the flesh was 
" very good ; much sweeter than beef." 

From the preceding statements it will, I think, be evident The clan. 
that the direction of those affairs which generally concerned 
that indefinite number of families which, in their aofareo-ate, 

' Oct O ' 

constitute the division, was in the hands of the elders. 
Those elders, individually, were the heads of families. 
While an aggregate of families, all being intimately related 
by common descent through, the father, form the division, 
two or more divisions form the clan, to which alone a 
distinctive name is given. 

As all men are Yeerung, and all women Djeetgun, it 
follows that, whereas the women, when married, were drafted 
off to other divisions and to other clans, the men remained ; 
and, in accordance with partial descent through the male, 
it is through them that the divisions and the clans have 
perpetual succession. The sons follow the father's class, 
Yeerung; and the daughters follow the mother's class, 

The clan may be seen to have resulted from the natural 
spread of families over a tract of country, all which families 
were bound together by a common recognized descent. 
Those families which were most nearly related through 
known ancestors, and whose "country" adjoined along the 
rivers, were naturally most closely bound together, and 


dependent upon each other for mutual aid and protection. 

The nearness of their descent forbade intermarriage, and 

they constituted that aggiegate which, in default of a 

better term, I have called the di\ision. An aggregate of 

divisions formed the clan. 

The blood As the members of a division may be reijarded as in 
feud. ,. -^ '^ 

fact members of an expanded family, and dependent upon 

each other for aid and protection, and, as regarded many of 

the members, for food, we can see readily that they might 

well be expected, individually or collectively, to prosecute 

the feud or the blood feud of a member, or mutually protect 

each other from the effects of a blood feud. I mention the 

blood feud at this place because the instances which I shall 

give refer, perhaps, rather to its aspect as regards the clan 

than the individual. I now proceed to give several 

instances of the prosecution of the blood feud, and shall 

then be in a better position to point out certain interesting 

conclusions to which they lead. 

Many years ago, a brother of Tulaba, named Barney, woke from 
sleep in his camp, and found a Talungolung Kiirnai named Biinbra 
(also known as Jetbolan = liar) standing over him, who said he had 
come for some fire. The next day Barney fell sick, and told his 
friends that Biinbra had bewitched him during the night. By and 
bye Barney died. The male relatives sent to Biinbra to desire him 
to come and fight. At the time and place appointed, Biinbra arrived, 
with many Talungolung and Kroatiingolung men and women. On 
the other side, the male relatives of the dead man arrived, backed by 
Brabrolung, and, I believe, Briakoliing men and women. The two 
parties faced each other at a little distance. Biinbra had two shields 
for his defence, one for use, and the other in reserve. The relatives of 
the dead man had great numbers of missiles, as boomerangs, kiilliiks,* 
and kunnin (a straight stick, pointed at each end). The boomerang was 
the fighting boomerang, which does not return to the thrower. 

The proceedings commenced by Biinbra saying, " I want to tell you 
I never hurt that jjoor fellow." The reply was, "You must fight." 

* Ktllltlk = galIak = wood. 


Boomerangs were thrown, as my informant said, like a flock of parrots. 
Biinbra successfully dodged and warded them off. At last a kunnin 
was thrown, which 2iassed through his thigh. The women then rushed 
in and stopped the light. The feud was at an end. 

A well-marked instance, and the last known to have occurred in Gipps- The last 
land, happened about fifteen years ago, and is characteristic. In the ^^ Ginps- 
extreme of East Gijjpsland, in the Bidwelli country, lies a small tract of land, 
grazing ground, surrounded by vast extents of dense and almost impene- 
trable jungles. A track leads to it alone from the territory of New 
South Wales beyond the eastern boundary of Victoria. At the time 
when the following events occurred, the common boundary of the two 
colonies was not ascertained, and the place I speak of was, in point of 
fact, " No man's land. " It was occupied by some white men as a cattle 
station, and they had as stockman a Brajerak. The Kroatungolung 
Kurnai were in the habit of occasionally following the coast to Twofold 
Bay, to assist as harpooners in whale fishing. The Brajerak stockman 
invited a party thus travelling to visit him. They did so ; and he 
took occasion, under protection of the armed white men, to shoot one 
Kurnai, Bubuk, and carry off" his daughter from the midst of her 
friends and relatives. The Kurnai escaped to their own country, and 
the Brajerak kept the girl as his wife. The relatives of the murdered 
man prepared, however, for revenge. So far as I am aware, both the 
agnates and the cognates — using the latter term as implying only 
uterine descent — took part, and, the party being ready, set out under 
guidance of the brother of the murdered man. The result was that 
they tracked the Brajerak to another station, and found him there 
living with the girl he had carried off. They then killed him, and 
recovered her. The man who first speared him was the sister's son of 
i;he deceased.* 

The followino^ narrative concerning the last o;reat battle The last 

, ^ . ^ ^ battle of 

•01 the Gippsland clans, which occurred at Bushy Park, near the cLins. 
Stratford, about the years 1856-7, was related to me by 
Bunda-wal,-f- otherwise Bobby Brown, a Gnarrawut Tatun- 
golung, who, it will be seen, bore a prominent part in the 
events narrated. I give it in full, as illustrating many 
points of great interest respecting these savages. I have as 
much as possible preserved the letter as well as the spirit of 

* [This is a marked trace of former descent through the mother. — L. F.] 
+ Btinda = bite, wal=: spear. 


his tale. As a preface to this narrative, the following state- 
ment from Gliun-kong, of whom more anon : — 

In conse(iiience of the Omeo and Gii^tpsland men having become 
acquainted through the white men and made friends by them, one of 
the Omeo men, Billy Blew, obtained a Briaka woman to wife. He 
ill-used her, and her father, Kaiiing, fought with and speared him, of 
which he shortly died. Billy Blew's kin in return killed Kaiung, together 
with another Briaka, and were assisted in so doing by Johnny, the 
brother of Biinda-wal. In revenge for this a Dargo man, Jimmy, the 
nephew of Kaiung, killed Johnny. Flanner, the brother of Gliiin- 
kong, and other relations of Johnny, finding his skin hidden in a tree 
at Aitkin's Straits, followed Dargo Jimmy, and killed him at Erin 
Vale, at Merriman's Creek. 

This preface is connected with Bunda-wal's narrative, as 
the events form one whole, and are thus necessary to each 
other. I noAv give his narrative in his own words : — 

I had two wives, both from Brt-britta. One of these had been 
married to the Dargo man who killed my brother Johnny at Aitkin's 
Straits. I then collected all the men from Bruthen, ^Vy-yung, and 
from Binnajerra, for all my own men had died or been killed, so that 
only boys were left. But those others were also like my own people. 
We all sneaked round south of the Lakes, and to Merriman's Creek, 
where we found the Dargo man. Flanner, whose brother he had also 
killed, sjjeared him. We let him lie there, and we did not eat his 
skin, for he was a Kiirnai, one of ourselves. As he was a friend of 
the Briakoh'mg, we went up to the Heart, near Sale, to look for them. 
We found a number of Dargo, Briaka, and Brataua there, and we 
fought ; but we were beaten, because they had guns as well as spears, 
and were helped by two black police and a white police trooper. We 
ran away, and left everything behind us, o\ir blankets and clothes, and 
only took our spears. We ran back to where we had left our women^ 
near to Meetung ; near to that place where the wild dog turned the 
Kurnai into stone.* Our enemies and the police followed us up as far 

* Tlicy have a belief that the wild dog sometimes speaks, and that to hear 
this is fatal, the listener being turned into stone. The narrator refers to a 
belief that at Meetung a camp of Kiiruai were literally petrified by hearing 
one of their dogs (Ban) say, "You are eating fish, and have given me 
none." A Kurnai told me that, when a boy, he once heard a dog 
commence to howl something; he only caught one word "bring" (bone), 
when he ran ofi' as liard as he could, and so saved his life. 


as Lake Tyers, but they could not cross, and we escaped. For a long 
time we were quiet, but at last we went up to Maneroo to get the 
Brajerak to come down and lielp us. By this time the white men had 
brought so many Brajerak down from Maneroo and Omeo that we 
had become friends. So we got the Maneroo men to help us, 
and with them went round tlie mountains to Omeo. There we 
got Nukong, their head man, to help us, and we left our women 
there. Nukong also sent lewin (messengers) to the men of the 
Ovens River and Mount Buffalo to send help ; and it was arranged 
that we should meet them at Kiitbiintaura (Bushy Park). Then 
we all went off" by way of Dargo, but we found no one there. At 
Bushy Park the men from the Ovens River and Mount Buffalo 
met us. We went to that place to get some food, and also to see 
some Brabrolung men of Wiik-Wiik, who were living there, pre- 
tending to be friends of the Briakolung and Dargo men. There 
could not have been less than two hundred of us — at least the 
white men counted and told us so. From that place we went round 
the country looking for our enemies. We sent out four spies in 
the daytime, while the main body lay concealed in the scrub, and 
only travelled at night. Sometimes I was one of the spies, some- 
times Tankowillun was one of them with me. We went all over 
the country, even down to the Tarra, but could not meet our 
enemies. At length we jDretended to be friends, and returned to the 
Mitchell. We waited a while, and then sent to the Snowy River men, 
who came to us. But the blackfelloAvs from Maneroo and from the 
Ovens returned home, and only a few from Omeo remained to help us. 
While this was going on, the Dargo and Briaka sent messengers (lewin) 
to me, saying that we would fight and then be friends. It was decided 
by the Dargo old men that the fight should take place near to Deighton, 
at a place called Yowundeet. We met there and fought, but no one 
was killed. They were too strong for us, and ran us back to the 
Mitchell River. We now again waited for some time, till Charley 
Buchanan* brought us a message from the head man at Dargo that we 
should be friends. It was their custom to do this by sending a spear 
jagged with quartz as a token, t This one had much glass on it. We 

* A Brabrolung native from the west side of the Mitchell — I believe of 
the Wiik Wuk division. 

t Sometimes one of the skin aprons worn by the men was sent round thus 
as a token, suspended to the point of the spear. I may here note tbat this 
apron (bridda bridda) -nas made from the skin of the kangaroo rat ; the legs 
and tail were cut off, and also, I think, the front part of the head ; half of 
it was cut longitudinally into strands. Two bridda bridda were worn, one 
in front and one behind, suspended from a waist belt made of about fifteen. 


said among ourselves, " We will pretend to make friends, and wait till 
■by and bye. " The spear was passed on by way of Briithen, and sent up 
to Ouieo, and so round back to Dargo. Then we all gathered, only 
the Kroatun (Snowy River men) would not come, for they were 
frightened — two of their men had been speared. Briithen Munji 
■told us, " We must send a message to the Dargo men where to meet 
us — but we must be very quick and get up to Bushy Park. " We had 
■with us some Omeo men, with their head man, Nukong. Our head 
juan was Briithen JMiinji. On the morning we were to tight we were 
all ready — we were painted with pij^eclay. This was because we were 
very angry at our two men being killed, and to frighten our enemies, 
•who were painted with red ochre because they had killed our men. 
We were seated in a long row — our sj)ears on the ground ready. Our 
women were in front, beating their 'possum rugs. Niikong was 
■at one end, just behind our row ; Briithen Miinji was at 
the other end of the row, standing behind close to me. It was 
about noon. He looked up at the sun and said, " We will eat first." 
The enemy were not in sight, but were not far off. Then a Brabro- 
lung man came to us — he was a messenger — he was sent to us, but we 
knew him — he was our friend, and the husband of old " Nanny." He 
^aid, "There are not many of you!" Briithen Miinji replied, 
" Never mind how many — we will see." Then he ordered the women 
to go back out of danger. He made us a great speech. He told us 
that we would beat them. There was " no gammon about him." Then 
we fought, and when BUly the Bull's father speared a Kiitbiintaura 
man the others ran away. There was a running fight ; they ran oft' 
and left all their things behind them. By and bye I shot one man, 
and others were speared. Several of the women were caught. Some 
■of the Brabroliing young men from Swan lleach ran down a Brt-britta 
woman. They could not, however, keep her, because they were too 
near to her — like cousins — and as she wanted to have me, and had no 
father, her brebba miingan (father's brother, or mother's sister's 
husband) gave her to me. He could do this because she had been 
caught in a fight and was not a young girl. This was how I got my 
first wife from Brt-britta. 

From the preceding instances we may, perhaps, draw two 
conchisions. First, that in the of a member of the 

feet of cord of twisted opossiun fur, wound round the waist. As I 
have stated elsewhere, the women wore a large fringe of opossum fur 
string suspended from the waist until they were married ; afterwards 


same tribe, a blood feud is not necessarily to the death, but 
may be expiated by his undergoing a certain ordeal.* 
Second, that in the case of members of an alien tribe the 
blood feud is fatal, and cannot be satisfied but by the death 
of the offender ; and, further, that the feud attaches not only 
to the individual, but also to the whole group of which he 
is a member. 

We may also gatlier that the blood feud would be 
prosecuted not only by the immediate relatives of the dead 
person, but also by the whole division, or even by the whole 
clan. It would be the duty of the agnates of the person 
aggrieved, as nearest to him, and it would also be the duties 
of his cognates, as is evident from the fact that, in the case of 
Bubtik, it was the sister's son who avenged him. The duty 
would lie, therefore, not only upon the division to wdiich 
the father belonged, but also upon the division from which 
the mother had been taken. In regard to blood feud as 
against an alien, as every Yeerung was the brother of 
every other Yeerung, the obligation to revenge blood would 
attach, if necessary, to every Ktirnai from the sea to the 
Snowy Mountains, and from the jungles in the east to the 
jungles in the west. 

The alliance of some clans with the alien Brajerak was 
an innovation brought about by intercourse with the whites. 

I have felt some doubt whether the Ktirnai would or 

[* It seems to me that the quarrels between the clans scarcely amount to- 
blood feuds. In the case of a man suspected of witchcraft, my informants 
tell me that the "fighting " is all on one side, the person accused acting on 
the defensive only. This appears to be a sort of expiation for a su^jposed 
ofifence against the body corporate by a member of it. — L. F. ] 

After the Kunnin had piei-ced Bunbra, he drew it out and threw it at his 
assailants. The women then rushed in and put a stop to the ordeal. Blood 
had been shed in return for the supposed murder of Barney, and the feud 
was quenched. In this instance, at any rate, I think the term "blood 
feud" justified. There are, however, other cases where the term "feud'^ 
alone would certainly be more accurate.— A.H. 



Hospi- would not recognize any obligation of hospitality to protect 
protected a member of an alien tribe, as, for instance, a Brajerak, who, 

■an alien ■, • i itt- • • -i ip/> l-i 

fiiend. bemg known to the Kurnai, might seek reruge irom the 
avenger of blood. The opinion seems to be, after consulta- 
tion among a number of the Kurnai, that no protection 
would be given. 

That some protection is, however, afforded by the rights 
of hospitality to a member of an alien tribe appears from 
an occurrence which took place, perhaps, about twenty years 

Two Brajerak families came into Gippsland in comiDany with some 
Brabroluug from the Dargo River. The KCirnai (Briakohlng), among 
whom these visitors were encamped, did not molest them because 
"they were brought in by the Dargo men who were Brabrolung and 
our brothers." It was only when the Brajerak families quarrelled 
with their hosts, and sejDarated, that the Briaka men attacked and 
killed them. 

ment of 
alien friend 
by the clan 
for an 
rights of 
t ility. 

If, therefore, protection might be given to an alien friend, 
it should follow that an alien friend might be punished for 
some offence, in accordance with which feud, or blood feud, 
would ensue. Such might, for instance, be the introduction 
of white men into the country of his hosts. Being aware 
of such an instance in the Dieri tribe at Lake Hope, in 
Central Australia, which I will mention, I consulted the 
Kurnai, who said that if the offender were Brajeiak he 
would be killed wherever found ; but, if one of their own 
people, the old men might probably endeavour to get rid of 
him by "bulk" (magic). 

When exijloring Central Australia, I obtained the services of a 
blackfellow from a South Australian tribe at Lake Torrens, and who, 
being on the border, spoke both his own language and that of the 
Dieri. He was with me some time, and I am informed that, after his 
return, the elders of the Diei'i tribe considered that he had been very 
culpable in leading white men through their country, and decided 
that he must be killed. He was accordingly speared when sitting in 


ilie camp of a clan of the Dieri living at Tinga Tingana (Strzelecki's 

In considering the combats which are known to have so Distinc- 
frequently occurred between the various clans of Gippsland, between 
and of which I have given instances, it must be pointed out Kumai i\ 
that there is an evident and marked distinction to be drawn that of "^^^ 
between combats of Kiirnai against Kurnai, and those of Bra^rak.' 
Ktirnai against Brajerak. In the battles between the clans, 
those who might be slain were not eaten ; but when alien 
enemies were killed, portions of them were eaten.-f- Such a 
fight as that described between Bunbra and the kin of 
Barney might, under certain circumstances, have extended 
from a " duel" to a general combat, and it may serve for an 
illustration of my first statement. The slaughter of the 
Brajerak by the Briakolilng, and the slaughter of the 
Brajerak by the Brabrolung under Bruthen Mitnji, was, 
in both cases, followed by the skin of the thighs and that 
from the sides of the victims being flayed off, roasted, and 
eaten by the victors. These are illustrations of my second 
■statement. It seems to me probable that this distinction is 
of general application.:]: 

Mr. Buhner tells me, as to the Maneroo natives (Brajerak), 
that they did not eat the slain in battle, who were left 
lying to be buried by their friends, but they eat parts of the 

* [I am inclined to think, from what I know of other savage tribes, that 
"this poor fellow's offence may, perhaps, have lain in his not having 
respected the common usage as to the introduction of strangers. In Fiji, 
for instance, a stranger must be forwarded in company with either a 
recognized nuita = lewin, or a man appointed specially by a chief who is 
friendly with the tribe whose country has to be entered upon. — L. F.] 

t [Some of the Queensland tribes carefully flay the slain, and preserve 
the skin, with the hairy scalp and even the finger nails attached. They 
look upon it as a powerful " medicine," and cover their patients with it as 
with a blanket. — L. F.] 

t [Its general application is confirmed by all our correspondents. — 
L. F.] 


victims -whom they murdered. The parts eaten were the- 
hands and the feet, and this was accompanied by expressions 
of contempt for the person murdered. These persons whom 
they murdered were their real enemies ; the persons with 
whom they engaged in open warfare were their friends 
with whom they had a quarrel. 

Mr. Bulmer further tells me that the Murray River 
natives always had a great horror of those enemies who 
prowled about ; they called them Thinanmalkin (one who 
spreads a net for the feet), and Koorinya-nat-ola (one who 
seizes by the throat). These were their real enemies, and 
when they caught them they blotted them out by eating 
part of them. 

A frequent cause of quarrel was the stealing of wives by 
the men of one clan from the men of another clan ; and this 
appears to have been especially the case in respect to those 
clans, or divisions of clans, from whom, in the ordinary course, 
they would have procured wives. Such an instance was that 
when some of the Tatiingolung stole all the women from a 
camp of Briakolung on the Upper Avon River, the result being 
that a o-reat battle was fought. We have here the Tatuncfo- 
lung clan, regarded in the aggregate as having stolen the 
women, undergoing that expiation by battle which the 
individual similaily underwent when he obtained a wife by 
running off with her from the custody of her father and 
The tribe As a number of families inhabiting a certain locality 
K-'itc of the formed that aggregate which I have termed the division, 
so did a certain number of divisions inhabitinij a larg-er 
area form that aggregate which I have termed the clan. 
The distinction betAveen these aggregates is one which was 
well recognized by the Kiirnai, but which I have found it 
difficult to define in a satisfactory way. It may, perhaps, 
be said that the division consisted of a number of related 


families, the individual members of which were forbidden 
by custom to intermarry with each other. The divisions 
were also named, in all clans but one, aft^r the principal 
locality round which their components were clustered ; and, 
in that exception, all the divisions but one were named after 
some man of note. 

The clan, on the contrary, although in its divisions 
subject to the rules as to marriage, may be defined as 
includinor all those individuals acknowledginof a common 
descent, inhabiting a certain area including several divisions, 
and claiming certain distinctive qualities. Thus, the last 
division of the last clan in the annexed table is named from 
the place Binnajerra, and a member of it would be a Binna- 
jerra Kurnai, or " man of Binnajerra." But this last clan is 
named Tatungolilng, or, freely translated, " South men," 
from its position as regarded the whole Kiirnai tribe. 
A^ain, the second clan in the list is known as Brabrolunsf, a 
name which may be freely translated as " the men." The 
aggregate of the clans formed a whole, each male individual 
of which called himself Kurnai, or ')nan. 

In the following table (A) I have given all information as 
to the divisions, clans, and the tribe of the Gippsland 
Kurnai which I have been able to collect. This information 
is unfortunately very imperfect, but the difiiculties standing 
in the way are, in some respects, insuperable. It is all that 
can be now rescued from oblivion, and must sufiice. 

As illustrative of the exceptions met with to the general 
rules in accordance with which I have compiled the table, 
the following may serve : — Raymond Island (Baul = island)* 
although separated from the Brabroliing country by a 
narrow strait, and from the Tatungolung country by several 
miles of lake, is claimed by the latter. Its inhabitants 

Au, as ov, in "how." 



stated themselves to be " partly Tatungolung and partly 
Brabrolung, but most Tatungolung." All the males of the 
family bore in succession the surname, " Gliun-kong " 
(Gli=a small bird, probably the curlew sandpiper (Ancy- 
lochilus Suharquatiis) — kong = nose = beak). Each received 
it from the then o^yner at his initiation, and held it until 
the initiation of the next male of the family. The 
oldest male had authority, and the men were collectively 
called Bunjil Baul. Wives were obtained from e, f, h, I, 
n, p, q, but not from the Tatungohlng, because these lived 
on the same lake ; nor from such as i or o, as being too 
distant ; nor from the adjoining Brabrolung, with whom they 
Avere not friendly. The present Gliim-kong tells me he 
could not marry a woman of c, for his mother was of that 
division ; and, having been born at Lake Tyers, it is his 
country by birth, as Raymond Island is by inheritance from 
his father. 

The women of Baul went to almost all the divisions, so 
far as I can learn. 

The swans' eggs laid upon this island were the property 
of the Bunjil Baul, and any stranger taking them without 
leave would have to light. There was no other restriction 
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The table A shows us that marriage was forbidden in the 
division, but was occasionally permitted in the clan, as, for 
instance, between the Brabrolung divisions e, f, g, or in a 
more limited manner between the Tati"mgolung divisions 
8, t, and the Bratauolung divisions p and q. It was a general 
rule, also, that the inhabitants of the same river Avere 
considered too nearly related to intermarry, but we find an 
exception in the divisions / and g, which adjoin. An 
inspection of the fourth and fifth columns will raise a strong- 
presumption that the rule was that divisions mutually 
obtained wives from each other where right to intermarry 
existed. But there are also apparent exceptions, which 
might be capable of explanation had I more knowledge. 
For instance, Gliunkong states that the men of his island 
did not like to travel far from the lakes in search of wives, 
wdiile the women of his family ran off with men who came 
from distant places. 

The divisions are only aj)proximate.* There are others 

* In a communication lately received from the Rev. F. A. Hagenauer, he 
tells me of four "tribes" whose localities indicate them as belonging to the 
Bratauolung (3) and Briakolung (1). Tarraicarracka, living at Port Albert, 
Tarraville, and Alberton ; Bellum-BeUum, at "Woodside, Prospect, and 
along the sea-coast by Reeves Lake ; WooUum- Woollum, at the Hill To^) 
and along the Latrobe River as far as Rosedale. Lastly, Mooma and 
Ncjat-han, from Stratford to Lake Victoria. I have, at present, no means of 
comparing these "tribes " with the divisions which 1 have recorded in the 
same localities, excepting the last, which are the equivalents of that group 
which, on the authority of "old Kanny," I have noted as " Biinjil Kfdlung." 
Tarrawarraclca — i.e., "the Tarra country" ("men" being understood) — 
and Bellum-Bdlum may be synonyms or neighbours of Kilt-wilt and 
Drelin. Woollum- Woollum fills a space in the boundary between the 
Bratauolung and Briakoliing. My informants as to the former were men 
of the Tatiingolung and Briakoliing, whose knowledge of the divisions of 
that clan was 2)rincipally gained by their remembrance of the matrimonial 
regulations subsisting. It would have been possible, ten years ago, to have 
obtained complete information — now it is imi^ossible. But what I have 
desired to show is the general distribution of the Kttrnai tribe and the 
matrimonial arrangements of the various exogamous groups — i.e., the 
divisions, not the complete enumeration of all the lesser groups. 


which I have noted, but which have not been sufficiently 
confirmed on further inquiry. I have, therefore, only 
recorded those divisions upon which the evidence of the 
Ktirnai agreed. Others may have been subdivisions — • 
incipient divisions which, in time, might have attained 
an independent existence. For instance, the Kroatun 
inhabiting the western part of their territory, whose 
division I have, upon preponderance of evidence, named 
from Brt-britta (Jimmy's Point), are also called Ngrungit 
(entrance to the lakes). The two places are about three 
miles apart, and the inhabitants might be named from 
either. Again, the members of the Bunjil Ntillung division 
(l) are also claimed as belonging to Kutbimtaura (k). The 
evidence showed me that this was a ' subdivision of k, but 
of such dimensions as to require a separate notice. 

It is remarkable that while the designations of the 
divisions of clans 1, 2, 4, 5 are all territorial, those of 3 are, 
with one exception, derived from men of note who were 
still living when the country was settled by the whites.* 
For instance, Bunjil Kraura, who is said to have had control 
over the winds. It was believed that he could call up the 
great west wind (gwera-ale, kraura) if he was not well 
supplied with food. He would make it so to rock the trees 
that the blackfellows could not climb in search of same. 
When duly propitiated, he would charm the storm to rest 
by tying a band of twisted stringy bark round his head 
and chanting this spell — " Ktitbun-a-wang, kiitbun-a-wang, 
kraura, kc, &c." 

(Kutbun= carry or wear ; wang = a band or string). 

* As illustrating how the men of division I are spoken of as "Bunjil 
NflUting's mob," I may note the following :— King Charley, a leading man 
among the Kroatungoliiug, lately described himself to me as " Tuna 
wanjanata Brabrolung, Kroatun Kurnai ngiu," or "I say that I take 
with me the Brabrolung and Kroatun men." Tuna = to say or declare; 
wanjana^to carry or hold ; Kurnai = men ; ngiu = I. 


Each of these divisions, therefore, received its designation 
from an ejwnyon, ^vho, ho^vever, changed witli each 

It is now possible to take a general view of the tribe. 
It mattered not that differences of dialect distinguished the 
clans most distant from each other. It mattered not that 
feuds arose between their members either through direct 
violence or through the belief in secret mao-ic, nor that the 
hunting grounds of certain families were carefully defined, 
and, if necessary, protected as to certain food (e.g., swans' 
eggs) and trespassers warned off ;*f* these diflferences mattered 
little when placed face to face with the fact that they were 
all Ktirnai. They spoke essentially the same language ; 
they were connected by widely-ramifying relationships ; 
the same corroboree-songs and dances which enlivened 
their social gatherings were brought by the mysterious 
Birraarks from cloudland — the bright home of their dead 
ancestors ; and, finally, they were bound together by the 
great ceremonial of jeiraeil, which embraced all Kiirnai 
except the " men of the east," the Kroatungolung. This 
great ceremony, which introduced the young of both sexes, 
as we may say, to membership in the community, is a 
commemoration — even a species of rude worship — by the 
tribe of the eponymous ancestors, Yeerung and Djeetgiin, 

* The iwsition of authority of such a luau as Bunjil Kraura (see Table A) 
might easily, under favourable conditions, become permanent and hereditary, 
as the llev. J. H. Stiihle says M'as the case with that of the head num of the 
Gournditch-mara tribe. (See Appendix F.) 

t For instance, in the case of Raymond Island, which I have already 
noted, and also Lake Kurlip, at the Snowy River, and other sinular 
breeding places of the black swan, whose eggs were claimed by the Kfirnai 
wlio claimed the several localities. In the case of Lake Kurlip, the eggs 
are still claimed by a man and his nephew — the brother and son of Bubiik, 
bj' right of inlieritance. This is interesting, as showing the growth of the 
idea of personal possession of property and its transmissit»n by inheritance, 
under the exceptional!}' favouralilc circumstances of the Kurnai. 


It may be said to form the great central idea of Kuinai 
society, and that central idea is community of descent. 
Every descendant of Yeerung is a brother, every descendant 
of Djeetgim is a sister; all else are Brajerak, savage men, 
aliens to their blood, having no part in their descent, their 
ceremonies, or in the land, their birthright. 

Looking at all this, we can perceive the extraordinary 
isolation of this tribe. Other tribes of Australia — spread 
over a vast extent of continent in New South Wales, and 
in Queensland, following the long course of the Murray and 
the Darling into South Australia — were bound together by 
the great class divisions of Eaglehawk and Crow. It 
mattered not from how distant localities two men might be, 
their speech might be unintelligible to each other, their 
status of family and their customs might have marked 
variance, yet the common bond of class and " totem " was a 
brotherhood which they would not fail to acknowledge. 

But as regarded the Kurnai, this bond with any other 
tribe was, so far as we can learn, even from themselves, 
wantino*. The Eaolehawk and Crow class divisions of their 
neighbours, the dreaded Brajerak of the Maneroo tableland, 
or of even their still nearer neighbours, the jungle Bidwelli, 
were, so far as I can learn, utterly unknown to them ; and 
any former connection with the Eaglehawk class can only 
be suspected from the admiration with which they regard 
this bird,* and the part which his plumage plays in their 
magic ceremonies. 

They were completely isolated, and it may be affirmed, 
with great probability of truth, that thus protected against 
external influences, many of the marked features of their 
domestic and social conditions had an original development. 
Change is inherent to human aflairs ; history and our own 

* A<iuUa aiidax. 


experience teach us that the social condition of no commu- 
nity remains for any time absolutely the same. We know 
well that in those portions of a country where there is the 
greatest facility of communication with surrounding dis- 
tricts, the greatest local changes occur. On the contrary, in 
those portions of a country where access to and from other 
localities is difficult, we know well that the social con- 
ditions change more slowly, and we call such places 
" old-fashioned." 

Thus, in a district like Gippsland, cut off by the physical 
features of the country from facile intercourse with the 
remainder of Australia, we should naturally expect to find 
the social conditions of the people " old-fashioned." A 
continuance of this isolation throughout long periods of 
time would tend to differentiate their customs from those 
of their co-descendants of a common stock ; and this would 
take place in two directions. There would be the social 
conditions of the Kiirnai resulting from the slow evolution 
of new conditions within their own society ; and there Avould 
be a similar, but probably more rapid, evolution of the 
social conditions of their co-descendants elsewhere in less 
isolation. These lines of change Avould be divergent. It is 
impossible to conceive that the forces acting upon each 
social organization could be so similar that at any given 
period of time the progress of each society should be parallel 
to tliat of the other. 

Such would, I think, be the (^l priori conclusions, but they 
are not borne out by a consideration of the facts before us. 
The family of the Kiunai is a far advance upon that of 
other Australian tribes ; for example, the Kamilaroi. In 
it has been established a strongly-marked form of the 
Syndyasinian, or pairing family ; there is the power of 
selection by the woman of her husband, and there is descent 
through the father, although as yet incompletely recognized. 


In face of such facts, which are only an example of 
others which I might instance, we cannot call the Kiiinai 
" old-fashioned," but must regard them rather as " new- 
fashioned." Where we find such a surprising social advance- 
in a tribe wdiich has existed in such isolation, we must, I 
think, believe that the forces wdiich produced this advance 
acted from within and not from without. 

It may be held, probably wath truth, that Gippsland was 
colonized in the first instance by a family, or by several 
families, forming a community, who, coming from the east,, 
the north, or the west, forced the natural barriers of the- 
country. The terms of kinship and afiinity of the Kurnai 
imply that at one time they were in that family condition 
in Avhich a group of brothers had their wives in common, 
or a group of sisters their husbands in common. This group 
being, therefore, exogamous, would consist of two classes or 
"totems," and we may well suspect that their class — or 
totem — names were those of the birds Yeerimg and 
DjeetgTin. That we have not yet met with these as 
existing classes or totems in other tribes amounts to very 
little. It could only amount to something if all the class 
and totem names of all the tribes were known, and their 
absence in that case from those of any tribe might be 
satisfactorily explained, by showing that in some tribes. 
certain totems appear to have become extinct.* 
• J£ we may assume that Yeerung and Djeetgun w^ere the 
class or totem names of the male and female members of 
the original Kurnai stocking Gippsland, the remaining 

* [Even if all the totems of all the tribes were known to us, and we dicL 
not find Yeen'mg and Djeetgun among them, I do not think the absence 
of those totems would be of any gieat moment. As far as I know, most 
of the totems are animals whose habitat is the locality occupied by the 
tribe using them. If a tribe migrate to a country in which their totem is- 
not found, they will, in all probability, take as their toteni some other 
animal which is a native of tlie i:)lace. — L. F.] 


steps might bo pointed out with more or less probability of 

A study of the classified terms which have been collected 
by Mr. Fison and myself, denoting the inter-sexual relations 
of the various Australian tri]>es, and of the class names 
governing marriage and descent, has shown what might 
have been d priovi expected — namely, that there are no 
two systems which are precisely alike. Taking one in 
which the Turanian system is most strongly marked, the 
remainder can be placed in a series, of wdiich some will 
come before, and some after, that taken as a reference. 
That of the Kurnai would be found to stand early in the 

I now give, in Table B, the terms used by the Kurnai to 
define the degrees of kinship and affinity. 


Kurnai Terms. Emjllih Equirakntd. 

Wehntwiu - Father's father, father's father's brother. 

Wehntjiui - Father's sister. 

Nalluug - Father's mother, f . m. 's brother, f . m. sister. 

* I make use of the terms employed by Dr. Morgan ("Ancient Society," 
p. 27), as they precisely define that which I desire to illustrate, and have 
been, in fact, framed to meet analogous conditions met with elsewhere. 
I extract the following definitions : — 

1. TlieConmuvjuine Faviibj, founded upon the intermarriage of brothers 
and sisters in groups. It created the Malayan system of consanguinity. 

2. Tlie Punaluan FaniUy, founded uj^on the intermarriage of several 
brotliers to each other's wives in a group (or rice versa). It created the 
Turanian system of consanguinity. 

3. The Sijiulijusmian Fumilij, founded upon the pairing of a male and 
fenude, but without exclusive cohabitation. 

It was Dr. Morgan who first clearly systematized the evidence upon 
which the above terms have been based. In the sid>sequent part of this 
work I have found it convenient to use tlie terms, " Undivided commune," 
as representing the Consanguine Family; "Segmented exogamous com- 
mune," as representing the Punaluan Family ; and I used the terms 
"Individual P'aniily" and '' Pairing Family" as synonyms. 



Kiirnai Terms. English Equivalents. 

Naktlii - - Mother's father, m. f. brother, m. f. sister. 
Kukftn - - Mother's mother, m. ni. brother, m. m. sister. 

All the above terms also imply the reciprocals, as soil's son, &c. 

Mungan - Father, f. brother, mother's sister's husband. 

Yttkan - - Mother, m. sister, father's brother's wife. 
Milmmfing - Father's sister, mother's brother's wife. 
Babflk - - Mother's brother, father's sister's husband. 
Tftndfing - Elder brother, father's brother's son, father's sister's son, 
mother's brother's son, mother's sister's son, wife's- 
sister's husband, husband's sister's husband. 
Bramung - Younger brother, father's brother's son, father's sister's 
son, mother's brother's son, mother's sister's son, wife's 
sister's husband, husband's sister's husband. 
Bau-ttng - Elder sister, father's brother's daughter, father's sister's 

daughter, mother's brother's daughter, mother's sister's 
daughter, wife's brother's wife, husband's brother's 
Lundiik - Younger sister, father's brother's daughter, father's sister's 

daughter, mother's brother's daughter, mothei"'s sister's 
daughter, wife's brother's wife, husband's brother's 
Maian - - Wife, wife's sister, husband's sister. 
Jambi - - Wife's brother (Bennung = Jambi). 
Bra - - Husband, husband's brotlier. 

Lit - - Child, brother's child (male speaking), sister's child. 

Bengun - - Brother's child (female speaking). 
Bendilk - Son's wife, husband's father, husband's mother. 

Kgaribil - Daughter's husband (male speaking), wife's father. 

Que-a-bun - Daughter's husband (female sjjeaking). 

Note. — Tlie fraternal terms are always used according to the respective 
ages of the jjersons concerned. 

In order to show what is the theoretical form of family The 


amongst these savasfes, I shall discuss those terms which, it form of the 

*= . . Kumai 

seems to me, most fully disclose it. family. 

Kumai Term. Indicates English Equivalents.] 

1. Wehntwin ■ Paternal grandfatlier, grandfather's brother. 

2. Nallung - Paternal grandmother, grandmother's sister and brother. 

3. Wehntjiin - Paternal grandfather's sister. 

4. Nakiin - Maternal grandfather, grandfather's brother and sister. 

5. Kukttn - Maternal grandmother, grandmother's brother and sister. 

These terms are reciprocal between grand ancestors and 
grandchildren. "We may consider this group under two 


aspects. First, tliat in which, accor<ling to the Kamilaroi 
system, marriage would take place between the children of 
brother and sister ; second, that in which no intermarriage 
would necessarily take place between them. Each case 
would, I conceive, be equally Turanian. In the first case, 
there would be no distinction drawn between the grand 
relations of the Turanian and of the Malayan system. In 
the second case there would be a distinction ; for, while the 
husband, husband's Ijrother, mother, and mother's sister 
form one complete group, having their children in common — 
the father's sister on the one side, and the mother's brother 
on the other side — would be units of two analogous 
families ; they would not stand in the parental relation to 
the children of the first group ; and these distinctions 
would be carried out into the grand relations. Applying 
these considerations to the Kurnai grand ancestral 
relations, I perceive that they partially conform to the 
second case. A distinction is evident between the relations 
of the grandfather's sister and the grandchildren, but theie 
is no corresponding distinction between the relations of the 
grandmother's brother and the grandchildren. On the 
female side of the paternal grand ancestors, the terms are 
such as would conform to the second system I have pointed 
out. On the female side of the paternal grand ancestors, 
the terms conform to the requirements of the Kamilaroi 
system, while, on the male side, they conform to the 
requirements of the other system, which I have pointed out 
as possible. The Kamilaroi system does not, I think, 
explain the difference. The maternal grand relations of 
the above group are such as would be common to the 
Turanian (Kamilaroi) and ^Malayan systems. We may, 
perhaps, have, in the terms applying to the paternal grand 
aunt and the grandchildren, a survival of previous relations 
under the Malayan system. 


Ktirnai Term. Indkafes Englkh Equivalents. 

6. Milngan - Fathei', father's brother. 

7. Yukan - Mother, mother's sister. 

8. Mftmmiing Father's sister. 

9. Babuk - Mother's brother. 

10. Lit - - ChiUl, brother's chikl (male speaking), sister's child. 

11. Bengtin - Brother's chikl (female speaking). 

We have, in these terms, the equivalent group to that of 
the grand ancestors in their relations to their children. We 
have here again the group, consisting of two brothers, 
theoretically the husbands of each other's wives, and the 
parents of each other's children, and a father's sister and a 
mother's brother who are units of two • analogous but dis- 
tinct families. In the relations of the first and second 
generations the same peculiarity appears that I have 
pointed out in respect to the grand ancestors, but it is 
found here in an expanded form. The parental relation 
does not exist between the children and their father's sister, 
nor between the children and their mother's brother, as 
regards the children ; he is their babuk, not their mungan, 
Ijut they are still his lit. This suggests to me that the 
parental relations ceased sooner in the father's sister than 
in the mother's brother. It may be well to consider whether 
any reason can be assigned for this, which would, indeed, 
indicate a passage from the Malayan to the Turanian 
system — from the Consanguine to the Punaluan families of 
Dr. Morgan. It is, I think, probable that changes which 
have taken place in the constitution of the family have 
affected a limitation as regarded the woman rather 
than the man. This tendency is evident in the present 
status of the Ktirnai, in which the woman is bound to 
-fidelity under penalties, but the man is not. The change in 
language would slowly follow the change in custom ; and, 
if the limitation was against the woman rather than against 
her husband, the change would be complete in respect to her 


and her relatives before it would affect fully the man and 
his relatives. 

Thus, of the brother and sister, the latter would soonest 
cease to be, in language as in fact, the mother of her 
brother's children ; she would be their aunt. The reciprocal 
terms would follow. 

Karnai Term. Indicates Enrjlish Eqnivalenfs. 

12. Tundiing - Elder brother \ Paternal and maternal cousins, hus- 

13. Bramung - Younger brother ( band's Vjrother's wife, husband's 

14. Bau-flng - Elder sister ( sister's husband, wife's brother's 

15. Li'indilk - Younger sister ) wife, wife's sister's husband. 

The inter-relations of this group are, I think, strictly 
Malayan in theory, for they are all regarded as brothers 
and sisters to each other. This is further carried out in 
their relations towards each other's children, except when 
they stand in the i-elation of Mummung (8), and Babuk (9). 
It is highly significant that in these instances, as in others 
which may be perceived on examining the Table B, the 
secondary relations, if I may so term them, are such 
as should be indicated logically by the primary terms them- 
selves. It lends much strength to the belief that they have 
arisen at first through adaptation of language to existing 
relationships, and not as mere terms of personal address. 

For comparison I give in Table C the principal Kurnai 
terms, together with analogous ones used by two far-distant 
tribes. The comparative simplicity of the former will be 




Knniai Tribe, 

Turra Tribe, 


Terms in ICnglish. 


Yorlve's Penin- 



sula, S.A. 





bin an 

Father's brother 








Mother's sister 








Wife's sister ... 








Husband's brother 




Brother (ekler) 




Sister (eUler) ... 




Wife's sister's husband 




Wife's brother's wife ... 




Husband's sister's husband 




Husband's brother's wife 

bau iing 



Father's brother's son ... 


— . 


Father's brother's daughter 


— • 


Mother's sister's son 




Mother's sister's daughter 








wongara < 


Brother's child (male speaking) .. 






Sister's child (female speaking) ... 


wongara < { 

thy (boy) 

Note. — I have in the above only used the elder fraternal terms. In the 
list compiled for me by the Rev. Julius Kiihn (Turra tribe), the folloT\ang 
equivalents occur : — Ishana =■ anilbie ; dunna =: yunga dilnna ; yiinga =: 
bangyarie, arna ; ishibu = yakana ; mangunie =: bangya ; wongara ^ yfln- 
gana, mangana. Bangya = younger brother or younger sister. For the 
terms of the Kunopia tribe I am indebted to Mr. C. E. Doyle, of Werrina, 

The Ttirra tribe is divided into two primary classes — Wiltu (eaglehawk) 
and Multu (seal). There are numerous sub-classes (totems). These classes 
are exogamous, and the children follow the father's class. There is indi- 
vidual marriage. Consent of the woman's parents is necessary before 
marriage ; if this is refused, the pair occasionally elope. Wives were also 
obtained by gift, exchange, or capture. A female captive belonged to the 
captor, subject to recovery by her relatives in an arranged light. If 
unsuccessful, they attempted to capture some other woman in her place. 
The Kunopia tribe is one of those speaking the Kaniilaroi language. Mr. 
C. E. Doyle tells me that it has the class divisions and totems fully 



developed. Group marriage is the rule on an extended scale. For 
instance, " a Hippi can take any Kubbath as his wife and keep her, and 
his right to her will not be questioned by her family. The same rule, of 
course, ajjplies to all other names, such as Kumbo, Kubbi, &c." The 
three systems tabulated 1)elong to tliree representative tribes — Kunopia, 
having group marriage ; Kurnai, having individual marriage (the pairing 
family) ; and the Turra tribe, standing between the two. 

The terms which I have discussed suggest a family in 
which a group of brothers had their wives in common, or 
in which a group of sisters had their husbands in common, 
but in which it did not perhaps necessarily follow that the 
brother's children were the husbands and wives of the 
sister's children. They also, I think, strongly suggest a 
more archaic form of family, in which marriage was con- 
sanguine. We may perceive that language has slowly 
adapted itself to social changes. 

This, then, may be said to be the theoretical family of the 
Kurnai. What the real family is I now propose to show by 
shortly recapitulating my previous statements. 
The actual The family of the Kurnai is strongly Syndyasmian, or 
Kurnai pairing, but it is not completely so. The man is not limited 
^^ ^' to one wife, although that number is, as a fact, the rule. 
But he jealously keeps his wife or wives to himself. The 
marriage is by consent of the woman, and the children 
follow descent — if boys, through the father's, if girls, through 
the mothei's class. Marriage is forbidden in the division. 
It seems to me probable that the passage through the 
various stages of family indicated by the survival of terms 
designating inter-sexual relations, which no longer fit the 
actual relations, has been more rapid than analogous 
changes which we may suppose to have taken place in 
other tribes as to which we have data ; and I cannot but 
suspect that the Kurnai probably branched off from the 
parent stock when that stock was in an early stage of the 
Punaluan family. 


The Ktirnai having, then, become completely isolated, had 
a peculiar development of social system, while the other 
Australian tribes mutually reacted more or less upon each 
other. In many tribes, as among the Kamilaroi, the Puna- 
Kian family obtained an extraordinary development which 
is stereotyped in their language, while it may be sup- 
posed that among the Kurnai the passage through that 
state was more rapid into the Pairing family. 

When an individual of the Kiirnai tribe died, the Death and 

, . T, T , . , , funeral 

relatives rolled the corpse up m an opossum rug, enclosed ceie- 
it in a sheet of bark, and corded it tightly. A hut was 
built over it, and in this the bereaved and mourning 
relatives and friends collected. The corpse lay in the 
centre, and as many of the mourners as could manage to 
find room lay on the ground with their heads upon the 
ghastly pillow. There they lay lamenting their loss. 
They Avould cry, " Why did you go ? Why did you 
leave us ? " Now and then the grief would be intensi- 
fied by the wife uttering an ear-piercing wail — " Penning 
i turn ! " (my spouse is dead) ; or the mother — " Lit i 
turn ! " (my child is dead). All the others would join in, 
using the proper term of relationship ; and they would 
cut and gash themselves with sharp instruments, until 
their heads and bodies streamed with blood. This bitter 
wailing and weeping would continue all night ; the less 
closely related persons and the friends alone rousing them- 
selves to eat, until the following da}^ This would go on 
for two or three days, when the corpse would be unrolled 
for the survivors to look at and renew their grief If 
by this time the hair had become loose, it would be care- 
fully plucked off the whole body and preserved by the 
father, mother, or sisters in small bags of opossum skin. 
They then again rolled up the body, and it was not 
opened until it was so far decomposed that the survivors 


could anoint themselves with " oil " which had exuded 
from it.* The only explanation which tlie Kurnai can 
give me of this horrible custom is, as they say, " to make 
them remember their relative or friend." Sometimes the 
body would be opened, the intestines removed and buried, 
in order that the corpse might dry more rapidly. The 
ghastly relique, in its bark cerements, w^as carried with the 
family in its migrations, and was the special charge of the 
father and mother, of the wife, or of other near relatives 
or connections. Finally, the body having, after years, 
become merely a bag of bones, would be buried, or put- into 
some hollow tree. Sometimes the father or mother carried 
the lower jaw of the deceased as a memento. 
Belief in The most remai'kable custom in connection with the dead 


protective was that of the " Brett ' or hand. Soon after death the 
the dead hand, or both the hands, were cut off, w'rapped in grass, 
and dried. A string of twisted opossum hair was attached 
so that it could be hung round the neck and W'Orn in 
contact with the bare skin under the left arm. It was 
carried by the parent or child, brother or sister. The belief 
of the Kurnai "vvas, and even, I think, still in many cases is 
that such a hand on the approach of an enemy w^ould pinch, 
or push the wearer. The signal being given, the hand 
would be taken from the neck and suspended in front of 
the face ; the string being held between the finger and 
thumb. The person would then say, " Which way are they 
coming ? "f If the hand remained at rest, the question 
would be again put, but now facing another point of the 
horizon, and so on. The response was by the hand 

* Tliis horrible aiii)iiiting is practised at Dniinmond Island, also in the 
Kingsmill group. 

t In one case " Mfiiiju ! Munju ! "Wunnian ? Munju ! tunamun 
nganju — brappfirna ma banja !" Munju = there, ■\vunman = where, tunaniftn 
= speak to, nganju=me, brappurna ::= to throw, ma^to, ban = wild dog; 
or " Speak ! Where are they? Or I throw you to the wild dogs." 


vibrating in some direction, and it was thence tliat the 

danger was supposed to be approaching. My informants 

tell me that the vibrations were often so violent that the 

hand would almost "come over on to the holder." 

From what T have said as to the community in food, the luUeii- 
1 • 1 1 tauce, 

•community m the right to hunt (with a narrow limitation), 

and from the community in personal property, which is evi- 
denced by the rapidity with which clothes and other articles 
pass from member to member of the group, we should expect 
to find that the personal property of the deceased might 
become the property of his kin. It is difficult to collect 
•evidence on this head. In the first place, the personality is 
very limited in extent, and in reality can only include 
weapons, implements, and garments. But the garments, and 
very often the weapons and implements of the deceased, 
were rolled up with his corpse or buried, from a reluctance 
on the part of his relatives to have constantly before them, 
.after the funeral ceremonies, anything which might recall 
liis loss and their grief.* In questioning several of the 
Kurnai as to what might be done in case a valuable toma- 
Iiawk were left, it was said that the following order of 
succession might be observed, in the event of its not being 
buried with him : — It would go to the father, elder brother, 
younger brother, paternal grandfather, in the order stated, 
supposing all of the above series to be living ; the father 
inheriting before the elder brother, and so on. Whether 
such a case has happened is not within my knowledge, but 
the statement shows that, in the opinion of the Kurnai, 
inheritance would be in the male line; and this is in 
accordance with the fact that descent follows the father's 
class so far as boys are concerned. 

'• It seems difficult to reconcile this feeling with the practice of carrying 
the deceased about with them. 



Ancestral Tlie deceased was supposed by the Kiirnai to pass to 
supposed the clouds, as a spirit. But he did not necessarily remain 

to visit the ,»,,„, 

Kiirnai iu there, lor male and female spirits are also Lelieved ta 
wander about in the country which they inhabited in the 
flesh, and may be properly spoken of as ghosts. 

They are believed to be able still to communicate with 
the living, through persons whom they have initiated into 
the secrets of spirit land ; of these people, called birraark, I 
shall speak more fully later on. They are also believed to 
occasionally communicate with their descendants in dreams.*" 
These " ghosts " may be said to be the ancestors of those 
with whom they communicate and, to be, therefore, well 
disposed to them ; but there are other " ghosts " which are 
believed to be evil disposed, which are tliought to prowl 
about and to endeavour to capture the Kurnai, and we may 
well regard those as representing the deceased enemies who- 
in the flesh also j)rowled about intent on evil. 

A Tatungolung man related to me that when, as a child, sleeping in 
the camp with his parents, he was woke by the outcries of his father, 
and, starting up, found him partly out of the camj) on his back kicking, 
while his wife clutched him by the shoulders. His father said that, 
while lying by the fire, a " Mrart" came up with a bag, and tried to 
pull him out of the camp by the foot. That he then cried out, and 
his wife held him fast by the shoulders, and the " Mrart" vanished. 

Tulaba states that his " other father," Bruthen Miinji, occasionally 
visits him when asleep, and communicates to him charms (songs), 
against sickness and other evils. He states, further, that if he could 
remember all his father teaches him in sleep, he should be a miilla 
muUiing (doctor). One charm which he has thus learned, and which I 
have heard him use to cure pain in the chest, by singing monotonously 
over the sick person, runs thus: — " Tundunga Brewinda niindu 
tinga ugarinda mri miirriwunda ;" or, freely translated — "Oh 

* Since this essay was written, the Rev H. Stiihle, of the Lake Condah- 
Mission, Victoria, informed me, iu answer to a query as to the tribe Mara, 
that "they believe the spirit of the deceased father, or grandfather, 
occasionally visited his descendants in dreams, and imparted to them 
charms (songs) against disease or witchcraft. " 


tundung ! I believe Brewiii has hooked me with the eye of his 
thro wing-stick. " * 

A Kurnai told me that, when gathering wild cattle for a settler near 
the Mitchell River, he dreamed one night that two "Mrarts" were 
standing by his fire. They were about to speak to him, or he to them 
(I now forget which), when he woke. They had vanished, but on 
looking at the spot where they had stool he j)erceived a " BCdk," which 
he kept and valued much.t 

Quite lately, when Tankowillun and Tilrl-burn were walking, after 
nightfall, past a fenced-in garden, they were much alarmed by 
observing what seemed to them to be a fiery eye intently watching 
them between two of the palings. Believing that a " Mrart" was there 
hidden on the watch, they became afraid, and ran away to their 

Mr. C. J. Du Ye, a gentleman of much experience with the 
aborigines, tells me that, in the year 1860, a Maneroo blackfellow 
died when living with him. The day before he died, having been ill 
some time, he said that, in the night, his father, his father's friend, 
and a female spirit he could not recognize, had come to him and said 
that he would die next day, and that they would wait for him. Mr. Du 
Ve adds that, although previously the Christian belief had been 
explained to this man, it had at that time entirely faded, and that he 
had gone back to the belief of his childhood. J 

In the instances wliicli I have given there can be no 
doubt that the nightmare under which the Tatiingolung 
man suffered, and the dreams which Tdlaba and the other 
Kurnai had, were regarded as realities. I give the last 
example as showing a similar belief in a Brajerak, but I do 
not rely upon the evidence, as he might have unconsciously- 
been influenced by ideas imbibed from Christian teaching. 

Such being the belief held by the Kurnai as to the 

* Tundting, supposed to be a substance like frayed stringybark, wliicli 
the doctor sometimes professes to extract and exhibits as the cause of the 
disease ; Brewin = an evil spirit ; nundu unga = to believe or think ; 
ugarinda = to hook or catch ; mri = eye ; miirrawun = throwing-stick. 
The throwing-stick is supposed to have magical properties. 

t For Bulk, see p. 251. 

+ [I could give many similar instances which have come within my own 
knowledge among the Fijians ; and, strange to say, the dying man, in all 
these cases, kept his aj^pointment with the ghosts to the very day. — L.F.] 


White men existence after death, it is not surprising that, when they 

thought to 1 . . 1 1 1 ii 11 

he ghosts, first saw white men wandering in the bush, they regarded 
them as " ghosts." This belief follows naturally upon the 
other, and is universal all over Australia. 

A Brabrolung told ine that when, 'as a little boy, near the Tambo 
River, he saw a white man for the first time, he felt sure that it was a 
" Mrart," and he ran away. He said he was sure it was a " IMrart," 
partly from its strange appearance, and partly because it was " so very 
pale. " 

In Central Australia 1 have, when exploring, frequently been 
greeted with cries of "Kuchi!" when coming suddenly upon the 
natives. It was occasionally varied to " Pirri-Wirri Kuchi." The 
former was explained, by my own blackboy, as meaning " Debbil- 
debbil," and the latter, " Walk-about debbil-debbil "—in other words, 
"ghost," or " wandering ghost." 

Belief in Before the white men entered Gippsland, vague rumours 
rimg mri. of their existence had passed from tribe to tribe. " Lewin" 
had described them with the exaggeration natural to 
rumour. The strange sight of ships sailing by the shore 
had been a wonder to the Ktirnai ; and the " Lo-an," when 
he arrived, was recognized as a " Mrart" — a " Yamboginni" 
— a ghost — an apparition of the dead. When Tulaba 
described to me how, when the Ktirnai first beheld white 
men, and exclaimed, " Lo-an ! Lo-an ! " I always observed 
that he looked down, and moved his head uneasily from 
side to side, as one would do who expected a sudden blow. 
On inquiry I have learned that the belief was general that 
the white man possessed supei-natural powers in his eye. 
He was supposed by a glance to be able to suddenly draw 
together the two banks of a river, and cause them to meet, 
or instantly to fiash death to the beholder. This was 
called •'Ngurrung-mri,"-f meaning "Sinew-eye;" and I have, 
I think, also heard it called " Mlang-mri," or " lightning- 

t NgtirrQng = sinew, nilang = lightning. 


eye." Hence it was that, when white men w^ere seen near, 
the Kurnai would make off, crying to each other, " Don't 
look ! don't look ! or he- will kill you !" I think we may 
see, in this curious belief, a distorted account of the 
bridging of rivers, and a more dii'ect account of the act of 
taking aim and discharging a tirearm. 

Independently of the reluctance to name the dead, — iieiuctance 
which we may connect with the belief that they tiic dead. 
might be wandering near unseen, there is also a 
strong feeling against naming the dead, or seeing 
anything belonging to them, lest the sorrow should 
be again revived. This may seem strange, but I am 
convinced that it is a true reason. Shallow as are the 
feelings of the aborigines, they are intense while they 
last; and they may be easily roused again in all their 
former strength. 

Bunbra (otherwise Jet-bolan := liar), a Tatungolung man, lost a 
daughter some years back. Not long ago he suddenly thought of her, 
tears coursed down his face in streams, and he became quite frantic 
with grief. Those who saw him quite believed that he had only just 
learned the news, until another blackfellow said, "Oh! that fellow 
dead boy long ago ! " 

When cruising about on the Gippsland lakes some years ago with a 
crew of Kurnai, searching for the bodies of two murdered aborigines, 
I heard two of my men discussing where we could camp ; and one, on 
mentioning a jslace, said, speaking his own language, that there was 
" le-en nobler. "* I said, " There is no nobler there." He then said 
in English, " Oh! I meant water." On inquiry, I learned that a man 
named Yan (water) had died shortly before, and that, not liking to 
use that word, they had to invent a new one.f 

Quite lately, I told some Kiirnai that I had "Lewin" (news) from 
" a friend, from Windigerwiit" for them. One said, " Oh ! you must 

* Le-en = good ; nobler = spirituous liquor. 

t [This is a common occurrence in many South Sea Island tribes. At 
some of the islands, if a very great chief have for his name a word of 
common use, or even if such a word be only part of his name, the word 
may be utterly blotted out of the language on his death. — L.F.] 


not call him that." I said, " Wliy not ? it is his name." He replied, 
" But his Babuk (mother's brother) of that name is dead, and it would 
make his friends very sad to hear his name spoken." 

Beliefs as It is not difficult to see how, among savages, who have 

to dl^Gt^C 

no knowledge of the real causes of diseases which are the 
common lot of humanity, the very suspicion even of such a 
thing as death from disease should be unknown. Death by 
accident they can imagine ; death by violence they can 
imagine ; l>ut I (question if they can, in their savage con- 
dition, imagine death by mere disease. Rheumatism is 
believed to be produced hy the machinations of some 

Seeing a Tatungolung very lame, I asked Iiim what was the matter ? 
He said, " Some fellow has jsut buttle in my foot." I asked him to let 
me see it. I found he was probably suffering from acute rheumatism. 
He explained that some enemy must have found his foot track, and 
have buried in it a piece of broken bottle. The magic influence, he 
believed, caused it to enter his foot. 

When following down Cooper's Creek in search of Burke's party, 
we were followed one day by a large number of blackfellows, who 
were much interested in looking at and measuring the footprints of the 
horses and camels. My blackboy, from the Darling River, rode up 
to me, with the utmost alarm exhibited in his face, and exclaimed, 
"Look at those wild blackfellows!" I said, "Well, they are all 
right." He rei^lied, " I am sure those fellows are putting poison in my 
footsteps !" 

Phthisis, pneumonia, bowel complaints, and insanity are 
supposed to be produced by an evil spirit — Brewin — " who is 
like the wind," and who, entering his victims, can only be 
expelled by suitable incantations. I have mentioned how 
Tulaba is possessed of a chaunt to cure chest disease. 
Another Kiirnai, who is said to be a great midla mullung^ 
professes to cure, among other diseases, such ones as colic. 

Some years ago, his old father was ill of colic. The mulla mulliing 
laid him on his face and chaunted his charm over him. When tired of 
this, he varieil his performance by bawling out every injurious epithet 


he "could lay his tongue to " against Brewin. In order that Brewin 
might be sure to hear this, he shouted in that direction in which 
Brewin was supposed to have entered. After a time the old man was 
better. Brewin had been expelled. 

Thus the belief arises that death occurs only from Yarions 
accident, open violence, or secret magic ; and, naturally, magic. 
that the latter can only Le met by counter-charms. At 
p. 21 G I have given an instance in the case of the " Kin of 
Barney v. Bunbra," where death was believed to have been 
occasioned by magic. Every individual, although doubtful 
of his own magic powers, has no doubt about the possible 
powers of any other person. If the individual himself fails, 
he supposes that he is " not strong enough." There is 
scarcely a Kiirnai of those who are not Christianized who 
does not carry about with him a bfdk — a rounded, generally 
black, pebble.* It is supposed to be of general magic power. 
For instance, if buried together with the excreta of any 
person, that person receives the magic " bulk " in his 
intestines and dies. The touch of it is supposed to be 
highly injurious to any one but the owner. I have seen 
girls or women greatly terrified when I have offered to 
place one of these bulk in their hands. 

The small leg bone of the kangaroo is also held to possess 
great power. When pointed at a sleeping person, it i>> 
supposed to cause sickness and death. 

Similarly it is supposed that if the hair of a person is 
tied on the end of the throwing-stick, together with the 
feathers of the eaglehawk, and roasted before the fire with 
some kangaroo fat, the person to whom it belonged will 
pine away and die. 

* It is believed that a bidk has the power of motion. For instance, 
during the writing of this essay, Tankowillim told me that he and Tul-burn 
had, the evening before, seen a bidk, in the shape of a bright spark of fire, 
cross the roof of a house and disappear on the other side. Also that they ran 
round to catch it, but it had vanished. 


From all this we may infer the belief to be tliat some 
secret influence passes from the magic substance to the 
victim. But the belief extends beyond this ; the magic 
influence may, they suppose, be communicated from the 
magic substance to some other substance, for instance, a 
throwing-stick, a spear, a club, or any other weapon. 

Charley Rivers, a Tatungolung, once explained to me how he got a 
wound on his head which would not heal, and how he was cured of it. 
Some Melbourne blackfellow (Brajerak) had put some substance like 
bulk in a bag containing a club of Charley Rivers'. Being drunk, the 
latter wanted to chastise his wife, but, in flourishing his club, hit his 
own head and cut it oi^en. The magic from the Brajerak bulk had 
gone into the club, and thence went into anything it hit. His wound 
therefore became; so ba<l that the English doctors could not cure it. 
One of the Kiirnai, however, who was a very strong miilla muUiing, 
cured it by singing over and by sucking it. He extracted the bulk 
from the wound in the shape of something which looked exactly like a 
glass marble. 

Barn. Not on]y, therefore, is death in some cases attributed to 

the acts of a sorcerer, who may be any man they meet, but 
death is also believed to occur by a combination of sorcery 
and violence. Such a proceeding is that known as Barn.* 

Some three or four yeais ago, some Brabrohlng Kiirnai had a grudge 
against Bunda-wal, a Tatungolung. They determined to try barn. 
They chose a tall He-oak, lopped it to a point, drew the outline of a 
man (Yamboginni = api^arition) on the ground, so that the tree grew 
out of his chest ; cleared the ground of all rubbish for some distance 
round — a sort of magic circle — and were then ready. They strij^lJed, 
smeared themselves with charcoal and grease, and chaunted incessantly 
a magic charm. This went on for several days, as I am informed, but 
■without etlect. They, at last, decided that they " were not strong 
enough. " The effect which they expected was that the victim, where- 
ever he might be, should rise and walk to them in a trance — "like it 

* Named from the barn — the casuarina. Two varieties occur — one, 
C. sithero^a, having an erect, and the other, C i/uicdrivalvifi, a pendent hal>it. 
The former is locally known as He-oak, the latter as She-oak. The He-oak 
is barn. 


sleep." On entering the magic circle, the Bunjil barn are supposed to 
throw pieces of the He-oak wood at him. He is believed then to fall, 
and the magicians are supposed to cut out his tongue and send him 
home to die. 

Briithen Munji, the "other father" of Tulaba, is said to have been 
the last victim recorded of this form of magic. Tulaba has repeated to 
me his counter-charm, but I cannot remember if he obtained it in a 
dream. It runs: — " Numba jelliing barnda," or, freely translated, 
"Never the sharp barn (shall catch me)." This is incessantly' repeated 
in a monotonous chaunt. 

There can, I think, be little doubt that, given the belief 
in the magic powers of the individual and in his survival as 
a " ghost," another belief would follow — namely, that those 
of the deceased, who in life were possessed of highly 
magical powers, might as ghosts exert their evil influence 
upon their enemies. But I have no direct evidence to give 
in support of this suggestion. 

I have mentioned men called Birraark,* who professed to Bin-aarks 
have communion with ghosts. Unfortunately, the last ghosts. 
Birraark died long before I knew the Kurnai. He was 
killed in the early contests with the whites. 

The Kurnai tell me that a Birraark was supposed to be 
initiated by the " Mrarts" when they met him wandering 
in the bush. In order that they should have power over 
him, he must, at the time, have a certain bone ornament 
called gumbert, thin, and pointed at each end, passed 
through the perforated septum of his nose. By this they 
were supposed to hold and convey him to the clouds — some 

* It is most interesting to note how widespread has been this belief. 
Among the Gournditch-mara of Western Victoria, according to the Rev. 
J. H. Stiihle, there were the precise analogues of the Birraarks. The Rev. 
Julius Kuhn, of Boorkooyanna, S.A., tells me of the Turra tribe, "There 
were 'Gurildris,' men who professed to learn corroboree songs and 
dances from departed spirits. They also professed to learn songs for the 
dead, which wei'e sung to make happy the departed who were gone to 
another country to live for ever, but to return no more." 


ftay up a rope — and there initiate him. On returning to 
earth he was a BiiTaark. 

It was l)elieved that he learned from the ghosts the 
songs and dances which he taught the Ktirnai ; and it was 
from the ghosts that he obtained replies to questions con- 
cerning events passing at a distance, or 3'et to happen, 
which might be of interest or of moment to his tribe. One 
of the Tatungolung told me that he had been present at an 
invocation of the e^hosts, which bears a strano;e resemblance 
to a modern spirit seance : — 

On a certain evening, at dusk, the Birraark commenced liis 
invocation. The audience were collected, and silence was kept. 
The fires were let go down. The Birraark uttered the cry "Coo-ee" 
at intervals. At length a distant reply was heard, and shortly 
afterwards the sound as of persons jumping on the ground in 
succession. This was supposed to be the spirit " Baukan," followed 
by the ghosts. A voice was then heard in the gloom, asking, in a 
strange intonation, "What is wanted?" Questions were put by the 
Birraark, and replies given. At the termination of the seance, the spirit 
voice said, "We are going." Finally, the Biri-aark was found in the 
top of an almost inaccessible tree, apparently asleep. It was alleged 
that the ghosts had transported him there at their departure. At this 
seance the questions put related to individuals of the group who were 
absent, and to the susjiected movements of the hostile Brajerak. 

The ppirit5 I have already mentioned Brewin, who may be said to be 

Brewin, ... . 

Buihim- an evil spirit. The Kiirnai speak of two other spirits — 
Baiikan. Bfdlum-dut and Baukan. Of the Mrarts (ghosts) the 
Kurnai speak with some precision ; of Brewin they speak 
with somewhat less certainty ; but of Bfdlumdut and 
Baukan little can be learned. I can only say that their 
qualities, so far as I can ascertain, are negative. They are 
not so bad as Brewin. They are not very powerful, and 
arc, consequently, not much feared. The teachings of the 
missionaries have, to a certain extent I suspect, connected 
the idea of the Deity with Brdlumdut and Baukan. But 
in the minds of the Kurnai, these three spirits — Brewin, 


Bullumdut, and Baukan — are, at the most, but dim and 
indistinct figures.* 

Being desirous of learning what Brewin, Bullumdut, and Baukan 
were sujiposed by the Kiirnai to be, I questioned two of the most 
intelligent men. Both were Tatungolung — one, a member of the Church 
of England, the other, an intelligent savage and a scamp. I said, 
" What is Brewin ?" They consulted, and after a few minutes one of 
them said, " We think that he is Jesus Christ." I said, " Well, I 
think you had better consult again ; I do not think your Catechism 
teaches you that." They then consulted somewhat longer, when he 
said, " We have talked about it, and we think it must be the devil, "f 

The usual charsfes which are made ag-ainst the Australian Character 

^ _ ° ^ and mtelh- 

aborigines generally, also lie ao-ainst the Ktirnai. The pence of 

* . . . . , theKurnai. 

•counts of the indictment may be said to be — Superstition, 
untruthfulness, selfishness, ingratitude, immorality, cruelty, 
and finally, disregard of human life. 

It should not surprise us that the Kurnai is superstitious. 
His belief that the dead survived as a ghost, in a form 
usually invisible, when taken in connection with the know- 
ledge that during life his enemy was probably trying to 
destroy him by magic, is seen to produce naturally a belief 
that that enemy, when a ghost, may have power to work 
destruction, against which he is powerless. Nor is it strange 
that he should accept the statements of the Birraark, or 

* The term BuUum implies a duality, and I have heard it applied to 
Baukan, as BfiUumbaukaii. I may here note that the Kiirnai numerals are 
Kutupan = one, Biiluman = two ; three is Bulumau bata Kutuk ; four, 
Buluman bata Biilum. 

t [I expect to see this fact quoted by-and-by as a triumphant proof of 
the utter incapacity of savages in general to understand Christian teaching. 
At least, I have seen that general incapacity asserted on no better grounds. 
■Compare these two Kurnai with a young man, a native of Brooklyn, New 
York. He had long been lying sick in the Melbourne Hospital. "They 
tell me," he said, " that Jesus Christ came into the world. Is that true ?" 
I replied, " Yes, it is true." A pause. " They say He's coming again, eh ?" 
" Yes, Tom, He will come again." A longer pause, while he lay apparently 
lost in thought. And then, " Ha ! anyway, I don't think He'll come to 
Australia. " — L.F.] 


that he should believe him ahlo to communicate with 
rfhosts, when we recall that he believes his own ancestral 
ffhosts visit himself in dreams. We should be loth to- 


reproach him with superstition when we reflect upon the 
extraordinary resemblance between the proceedings of the 
Birraark and the proceedings even now taking place in the 
midst of our highest civilization at " spirit seances." 

I have found the Kurnai to compare not unfavourably 
with our own people in their narration of occurrences, or as 
witnesses in courts of justice as to facts. Among them a 
person known to disregard truth is branded as a liar (" Jet- 
bolan"). Selfishness and ingratitude may be considered 
together. There is no doubt that the Kurnai is selfish, and 
there is no doubt that he is ungrateful ; Ijut the former is 
restrained by family afiection and by custom, and the latter 
sentiment probably does not arise with them under circum- 
stances in which it might be expected to arise with us. It 
is inherent in Iniman nature to desire that which will 
satisfy a want, or gratify a desire, or render life more 
pleasant and easy. Food is of essential moment to the 
Kurnai. It is often obtained with difficulty, and the 
amount may vary according to the degree of skill in the 
individual. Clothing, and other articles useful to him, 
attract him ; but I have shown that the food obtained by 
the hunter is shared according to customary law with his. 
family group ; and, when earning money, I have known 
instances of the Kurnai parting with it to purchase presents 
for his wife and children, or his nephews and nieces. The 
gratification of self is, therefore, checked in them as in vl& 
by a sense of duty or by affection. 

Speaking to a Kroatun young man about the food i^roliibited during- 
initiation, I said, "But if you were hungry and caught a female 
oiDOSsuni, you niiglit eat it if the okl men Avere not there." He rej^Hed, 
"I could not do that ; it would not be right." Although I tried to 


find out from liiiu some other reason, he could give no other than that 
it would be wrong to disregard the customs.* 

The sentiment of gratitude may be defined as a feeling of 
obligation towards some one who has performed a beneficial 
action towards us without having been under any obligation 
to perform that action. It follows from such a definition 
that gratitude should not be expected where an obligation 
to perform the action exists. I attribute the want of grati- 
tude among the Kiirnai for kindnesses shown them by the 
whites, which usually take the form of food, clothing, or 
attention during sickness, to the principle of communit}" 
which is so strong a feature of the domestic and social life of 
these aborigines. For a supply of food, or for nursing 
when sick, the Kiirnai would not feel grateful to his family 
group. There would be a common obligation upon all to 
share food, and to afford personal aid and succour. This 
principle would also come into play as regards the simple 
personal property they possess, and would extend to the 
before-unknown articles procured from the whites. The 
food, the clothes, the medical attendance which the Kurnai 
receive from the whites, they take in the accustomed mannei'; 
and, in addition to this, we must remember that the donors 
are regarded as having unlimited resources. They cannot 
be supposed by the Kurnai to be doing anything but giving 
out of their abundance. 

The charge of immorality would vary much in its force 
if we regarded it from the point of view of our belief, or 
from theirs. But many actions which would appear even 
highly immoral when viewed by us without complete know- 

* The Kjoatiin were not initiated, but this young man had lived much 
with the Brabrolung and Tatungolung, aud was well acquainted with their 
customs. We were at the time talking about his being initiated, were the 
ceremony ever repeated. 

[This is a striking instance of that "moral feeling" which Sir John 
Lubbock denies to savages. — L.F. 



ledge, would have a somewhat different aspect when viewed 
by the light of more knowledge. For instance, the punish- 
ment inflicted for infldelity in the wife, under which it 
would seem that a number of men had some one woman in 
common, would at first sight appear only explicable by the 
belief that the tribe was utterly immoral, and without any 
conception of fidelity between the sexes ; but on further 
knowledge it would be found that it was a punishment for 
infidelity. With us marital fidelity is guaranteed, inde- 
pendently of moral considerations, by public opinion. A 
woman guilty of infidelity to her husband risks the punish- 
ment of public reprobation and the divorce court. Among 
the Kurnai such a woman risked death, and probably became 
common to those who found her.* The punishment differs in 
these cases, and in the latter takes a savage form . 

That which is immoral in one state of society, is moral in 
another state of society. The missionaries who first went 
among the Polynesians were highly shocked at their immo- 
rality ; but we know that a woman who was living with 
one man one day, and with another man the next day, was 
only following out the " Turanian," or even perhaps the 
" Malayan," family system which obtained with them.i* 

Cruelty and disregard for human life may be charged 
against the Kurnai with some truth. They were cruel as 
ao^ainst their enemies, but their enemies were equally cruel 
as against them. They treacherously sneaked upon each 
other, and blotted each other out of existence whenever 
possible, and even ate portions of the slain. They were 
often cruel in intention in devising and carrying out forms 
of incantation intended to cause pain, suffering, and death 

• Lo-\lngil rukut is a tei-m of reproach. L p-imgil = to entice or seduce 
away ; RukCit — woman. 

t [More than one of Mr. M'l.ennan's instances of so-called polyandry are 
nothijag more than instances of this system. — L.F.] 


to the victim. But towards those near to them, of their 
own family, clan, or tribe, the Kiirnai were not cruel so far 
as I know. They did not inflict the terrible tortures during 
initiation which many other tribes caused their young men 
to undergo. They were not, so far as I know, cruel to their 
women except in isolated cases, and no parents could be 
more indulgent than they are to their children. Yet the 
new-born infant was left to perish, and the daughter , when 
she had married the man of her choic e, in accordance with 
tribal custom, was speared or beaten " within an inch of her 
life " by her father, mother , and brothei-s. The first they 
explain as being done under the exigencies of their life, and. 
the latter as being not intended as cruelty but simply to 
follow an ancestral custom. 

In one respect the life of the Ktirnai was a life of dread. 
He lived in fear of the visible and of the invisible. He 
never knew the moment when the lurking Brajerak might 
not spear him from behind, and he never knew the moment 
when some secret foe among the Ktirnai might not succeed. 
in passing over him some spell, against which he could not 
struggle, or from which even the most potent counter-charms 
given him by his ancestors could not free him. We can 
scarcely feel surprise that he should be pitiless against the 
prowling Brajerak, or should endeavour to forestall the 
suspected magic of some Ktirnai by his own. 

I think, therefore, that the indictment must be somewhat 
modified as regards the Kurnai ; and it is quite possible that 
were we able to examine the evidence in su^jport of it as 
regards other tribes, even so imperfectly as I have been able 
to examine it as i-egards this, we should in those instances 
also find explanations, and extenuating circumstances now 
unsuspected, which would modify its force. 

The idleness, incapacity, and want of energy shown by 
the Kurnai in most of our occupations are not to be 


wondered at.* We could no more expect that the 
descendants of countless generations of wandering hunters 
should possess those qualities which our ancestors have 
transmitted to us together with pastoral pursuits, agriculture, 
commerce, arts, and sciences, than we could expect the 
young of the dingo, if brought up by us, to become a sheep 

As to the mental qualifications of the Ktirnai, a few 
words may suffice. When trained in the mission schools 
the children have shown quickness to learn, and at 
Ramahyuk have even gained the highest results attainable 
in the examination of the State schools. This is a circum- 
stance of great weight in estimating the status of intellect 
and brain-power of the Kiirnai. The Rev. Mr. Kramer , 
who trained them to this point of excellence, told me, how - 
ever, lately, that the labour lequired to bring them up to 
the necessary standard, and to keep them there , was so 
great, that no possible inducement would cause him again 
to undertake it. 

According to my experience, the young Kiirnai can learn 
with great facility . He has great imitative powers , and, 
therefore, often acquires an excellent handwriting ; but he 
also unlearns with great facility. In this we may recognize 
mental qualities naturally good, but not fixed by hereditary 
training. We may say, I think, that his mind develops 
quickly, and perhaps fully up to the standard of that of a 
white child of twelve or fourteen, but there stops. 

* Like other Australian aborigines, the Kuriiai have a natural aptitude 
for stock-riding. I have also known among them good shearers and reapers. 
This must be the exception to my general statement. 


Kurnai Tribe I. 

In illustration of the statement made as to the community 
in food, and the obligation to supply certain persons with 
food, the following particulars are now given in addition to 
those noted. They apply to the Kurnai. 

Kangaroo. — It is assumed that a man kills a kangaroo 
&t a distance from the camp. Two other men are with him, 
but are too late to assist in killing. While the first man 
lights a fire, they cut up the game. The three cook the 
entrails and eat them. The distance from camp being con- 
siderable, the kangaroo is cooked. The following distribution 
is made : — Men No. 2 and No. 8 receive one leg and the 
tail, and one leg and part of the haunch, because they helped 
to cut the game up. Man No. 1 receives the remainder, 
which he carries to camp, and deals with thus: — The head 
and back are carried by his wife to her parents ; the 
remainder goes to his parents . If he has no meat, he may 
keep a little ; but if he has, for instance, an opossum, he 
gives all away. His mother, if she has caught some fish, 
may probably give him some. If the man has no other 
meat, his wife's parents may give him some ; but they will 
give her a supply next morning. The children are well 
cared for in any case by their grandparents . 

The giving of food on the following morning by the 
wife's parents is grounded upon the assumption that the 
son-in-law provided for her family on the previous day, but 
may want some food before going out to hunt afresh. 


The food received by the husband's parents and the 
wife's parents is shared by them with their family. 

Black wallaby. — We suppose two to have been killed. 
They might be cooked, or not, in the bush, according to 
distance. One would be given by the man to his father, 
the other sent by his wife to her parents. 

Wombat. — A wombat being killed, would be, if far from 
camp, cut open, the intestines taken out, and the animal 
skewered up and carried home. Or, if close at hand, help 
might be obtained, and the game carried in whole. All the 
animal is sent to the wife's parents, being regarded as the 
best of food . The wife's father distributes it to the whole 
camp, but he does not give any to the hunter, who is sup- 
posed to have eaten of the entrails in the bush, and 
therefore not to be hungry. On the following morning, 
however, he sends some by his daughter to her husband. 

Native bear. — This is either cooked where caught, or 
carried home raw, according to distance. If one is kil led, it 
is given to the wife's parents ; if two , one to the wife's 
parents, and one to the man's parents . If three, then two 
to the wife's parents , and one to the man's parents, and so 
on. The hunter will probably keep the liver for himself 
and his wife. On the following morning the wife's parents 
will give her some if she has no food. 

Emu. — An emu is cooked where killed, unless close to- 
camp. The intestines, gizzard, and liver are eaten there by 
the hunter. He will give the legs to his wife's parents, and 
the body to his own parents. 

Iguana. — This lizard is divided with all who may be in 
the camp. 

Opossum. — We can assume that more than one are 
killed. The hunter keeps one, which is enough for himself 
and his wife, or perhaps two, if he has children. The 
remainder goes to his wife's parents. 


Swan. — If several are killed, the hunter may keep one or 
more, according to the wants of his family. The remainder 
goes to the wife's parents ; or, if many have been procured, 
the most to them, and the less number to his own parents. 

Conger eel. — This should be sent to the wife's parents, 
who will probably share it with their family. 

In all cases the largest supply and the best of the food is 
sent to the wife's parents. The grandchildren are fed by 
their grandparents. The supply of vegetable food procured 
by the woman is all devoted to her husband , her children , 
and herself . 

The above instances have been given on the supposition 
that the man's parents and his wife's parents were alone 
living with him in the camp. 

I now give a few instances to show what would be the 
distribution when other members of the group were 

Kiirnai Tribe II. 

Kangaroo — Supposed to have been killed by a man 
(married), assisted by an unmarried man (Brewit) : — 

Wifes parents. — All ; except to 
Brother. — The left leg ; to 
Brewit. — The right leo;. 

Native bear — Supposed to have been caught by a man, 
alone : — 

Parents. — Right side, with two legs. 
Wifes parents. — Left side, with two legs. 
Self. — Head and liver ; he gives his 
Wife. — Part of the head ; she gives her 
Sister. — The ears. 


Fish — If of medium size, to the 
Man. — Tail half; to his 
Wife.— B.esid half. 

If of large size, or if many have been caught, the 
following division might be made. (It is supposed 
that six river eels have been captured — four large, 
and two small ones) — 

Man and luife. — Large eel. 
Mothers brother and tuife. — Large eel. 
Elder and younger brothers. — Large eel. 
Elder and younger sisters. — Large eel. 
Children of mothers brother. — Small eel. 
Married daughter and husband. — Small eel. 

These instances may suffice as further illustrations of the 
food division among the Kurnai. 

There was a similar custom among the aborigines of 
Maneroo, but the details show considerable variation from 
those just given. I now subjoin a list given me by a 
Maneroo blackfellow a little time ago. 

He informed me that in all cases the food was cooked 
before being divided. The relationships given are those of 
the persons who are supposed to be in the camp. The 
informant is unmai-ried. 

Maneroo Blacks. 

Kangaroo : — 

Self. — Piece along the backbone near the loin. 
Father. — Tail, backbone, ribs, shoulders, and head. 
Mother.— Right leg. 
Elder brother. — Left leg. 
Younger brother. — Left fore leg. 


Elder sister. — Piece alongside backbone. 

Younger sister. — Right fore leg. 
The father shares his portion thus : — 

His parents. — Tail and piece of backbone. 
The mother shares her portion thus : — 

Her parents. — Part of the thigh and the shin. 

Wombat is cooked ; then opened and skinned. The skin 
is cut into strips, which are shared among the group : — 

>S'e//:— The head. 

Father. — Right ribs. 

Mother. — Left ribs and backbone. 

Elder brother. — Right shoulder. ' 

Younger brother. — Left shoulder. 

Elder sister. — Right hind lecj. 

Younger sister. — Left hind leg. 

Young mens camp. — Rump and liver. 
The father shares his portion : — 

His ■parents. — Skin. 
The mother shares her portion : — 

Her father. — Backbone. 

Her mother. — Some skin. 

Native Bear: — 

Self. — Left ribs. 
Father. — Right hind leg. 
Mother. — Left hind leg. 
Elder brother. — Right fore leg. 
Younger brother. — Left fore leg. 
Elder sister. — Backbone. 
Younger sister. — Liver. 
Father's brother. — Right ribs. 
Mothers brother. — Piece of flank. 
Young mens camp. — The head. 

266 appendix d. 


Self. — Backbone. 
Father. — Left lesf. 
Mother. — Neck and head. 
Elder brother. — Left ribs. 
Younger brother. — Part of backbone. 
Elder sister. — Part of rio-ht thioh. 
Younger sister. — Right shin and foot. 
Young men's cartip. — The remainder. 

Emu: — 

Self. — Backbone, 

Father. — Left leg, left shoulder, and left flank. 
Mother. — Neck and head, right flank, and right ribs. 
Elder brother. — Left ribs. 
Younger brother. — Part of the backbone. 
Elder sister. — Part of right thigh. 
Younger sister. — Right shin. 
Young men's camp. — Left thigh and left shin. 
The father and mother share theirs with their parents. 

Iguana : — 

Self—ThQ left leg. 

„ - > The upper half of the body. 

Elder brother ") r„, . ^ , ^ - -, -, 
,^ 7 7 r The right hind leg. 

Younger brother ) 

Elder sister. — Part of lower half of the backbone. 

Younger sister. — The tail. 

The father and mother share their portions thus : — 

His parents. — The fore leg. 

Her parents. — The backbone. 

Tlie young mens camp. — The remainder. 


Porcupine. The skin is cut up in strips : — 

Self. — The left hind leg and some skin. 
Father. — The head and some skin. 
Mother. — Part of the skin. 

Elder brother. — The right hind leoj and some skin. 
Younger brother. — Some of the flesh and some skin. 
Elder sister. — The rifjht fore leo- and some skin. 
Younger sister. — The left fore leg and some skin. 
Young men's camp. — Some of the skin. 

The whole of the animal is not here disposed of, and as 
my informant omitted to mention the grandparents, it seems 
to me probable that the remainder went to them. 



This instrument was usually made, in Gippsland, of the 
wood of the native cherry (Exocarpus cupressiformis). It 
is about three inches long, by an inch and a half wide and 
an eighth of an inch thick. It narrows to one end, which 
is perforated and attached to a short stick by a piece of 
kangaroo sinew about thirty inches in length. When 
whirled round, or whisked backwards and forwards, it 
makes a peculiar and slightly humming noise, which also 
approximates to the sound of the word " whew." It much 
resembles, in general character, the wooden toy which I 
remember to have made as a boy, called a " bull roarer." 
The occurrence of such an instrument with us as a toy, and 
with the Australian savage as an object of mystery used in 
their ceremonies, suggests that the " bull roarer " is a survivaL 


The awe with which this tunidun is even now regarded by 
the surviving Kurnai is so strong, that when, on lately 
meeting two of them, I spoke of the turndun, they first 
looked cautiously round them to see that no one else was 
near, and then answered me in undertones. 

I learn the following from correspondents : — 

This instrument is known to the aborigines of the 
Gwydir river (Kamilaroi-spoaking tribes). It is used in 
the ceremonies of initiation. It is, with them, about eight 
inches long by four wide ; flat on each side, and very thin. 
The widest end is rounded, and the sinew is put through a 
hole in the smaller end, or sometimes tied round it. It is 
made of some hard w^ood, generally either brigalow or 
bumble, these being hard, tough woods, and not likely to 
split. (Mr. Cyrus E. Doyle, Kunopia, New South Wales.) 

The Chepara tribe, living on the coast of Southern Queens- 
land, and about the head of the Albert, Logan, and Tweed 
rivers, have a similar instrument. They call it " bribbun," 
and use it only at their " boras," at which the lads are 
made young men. It is not used for doctoring purposes. 
It is kept secret and hidden from light by the head chief, 
and is considered to possess some mysterious and super- 
natural power or influence. The women and children are 
not permitted to see it ; if seen by a w^oman, or shown by a 
man to a woman, the punishment to both is death. After 
the young men have been initiated, each of them receives, 
to take home with him, a toy or miniature " bribbun," as a 
sort of guarantee of their initiation, and as receiving a small 
portion of the virtue which the larger and principal one is 
supposed to possess. This last, after the " bora," is scrupu- 
lously kept concealed. 

The " boras " held by the CheparS, tribe were very 
numerously attended in former days by aborigines coming 
to them from an extended circle even as far south as the 


Richmond district in New South Wales. (Mr. J. Gibson, 
J.P., Stanmore, Queensland.) 

Among the Lower Murray river aborigines, this instrument 
was used for " doctoring purposes," if not in their cere- 
monies. For instance, " If a man used it to make his wife 
well, he would go to a sufficient distance to allow it to swing 
clear of the patient. After making much noise M'ith it, he 
would bring it up to the sick woman, and hang it over her 
till it ceased to move ; then he repeated the operation, each 
time allowing it to hang over his patient until it became at 
rest." (The Rev. J. Buhner, Lake Tyers, Victoria.) 

I observe notices of this instrument in the following 
works: — In "Discoveries," &c. (Eyre), vol. ii., pp. 315-320, 
as " Mooyumkar ; " " Native Tribes of South Australia " 
(Woods), p. 216, as "Witarna;" "The Dieyerie Tribe" 
(Gason), p. 270, as "Yundra;" " Kamilaroi and other Aus- 
tralian Languages" (Ridly), p. 154; "The Aborigines of 
Victoria " (R. B. Smyth), vol. i., p. 17G, as " Perboregan." 

Mr. E. B. Tylor has written a most interesting chapter on 
" Historical Traditions and Myths of Observation."* It 
might be expected that such traditions and myths should 
be found to exist among the Kurnai, but I have failed to 
collect more than a few. One of these relates to the 
ttirndun, and is to the effect that long ago there was land 
to the south of Gippsland where there is now sea, and that 
at that time some children of the Kurnai, who inhabited 
the land, in playing about found a turndun, which they 
took home to the camp and showed to the women. 
" Immediately," it is said, " the earth crumbled away, and 
it was all water, and the Kurnai were drowned,"-f- A second 

* " Early History of Mankind," 3rd edition, 187S. 

1 1 note the following in the " Eeport of the Select Committee of the 
Legislative Council on the Aborigines, 1858-9," p. 12 (Victoria). Mr. 
William Hnll, in his evidence, says, as to the Yarra and Coast tribes 


iitatement is to the effect that the fathers of the Kurnai 
speared sharks where the Mitchell river now flows at 

It may be interesting to consider whether there is any- 
thing in the geological history of Gippsland which may 
throw light upon the two legends I have mentioned. 

Gippsland consists, to the north, of a high mountain 
region, mainly of Paheozoic age, rising to the height of 6,508 
feet in Mount Bogong, and having between it and the sea 
a tract of country of Mesozoic and Kainozoic age. I am not 
aware that the former exceeds 2,000 feet in elevation above 
the sea level, and the latter, according to my measurements, 
is below 800 feet. In the greater part of this fringe of 
low-lying country the rivers flow through wide alluvial 
valleys at only a slight elevation above the sea level, and 
mostly empty themselves into the Gippsland lakes, which 
are only separated from the sea by a more or less narrow 
strip of sandy land and dunes. The rise and fall of the tide 
on this coast is so slight that its influence is not felt within 
the Lakes; and it is to this cause that the freshness of their 
water, and of that of the river embouchures, is due. A 
depression of the land to less than thirty feet below its 
present level would submerge most of the river valleys as 
estuaries, and much of the low-lying land now cultivated. 
A less depression would cause the sea- water to flow up the 
Mitchell valley to Bairnsdale, and thus enable sharks to 
again reach that spot.* 

(Western Port, &c.) : — "The blacks . . . say that their . . . 
progenitors recollected when Hol)sou"s Bay -was a kangaroo ground." They 
say — " Plenty catch kangaroo and plenty catch opossum there ; " and that 
"the river (Yarra) once went out at the Heads, but that the sea broke 
in, and that Hobson's Bay, which was once a hunting ground, became 
what it is." 

* I observe that the railway stations at Melbourne and Sale are stated to be 
each 32 feet above sea level ; Bairnsdale is on slightly higher ground. The 
levels of the rivers at these three places are approximately the same. 


An examination of the geological evidence has shown me 
that the mountainous part of Gippsland has not suffered 
submergence since the Lower tertiary period,* beyond the 
limits to which the beds — subsequent in age to that period 
— extend upwards on the flanks of the Palaeozoic mountain 
mass. This extreme height I estimate at 800 feet above 
sea level, and the mean may be GOO feet ; and to this must 
be added the difference between the present elevation of the 
land and its maximum elevation during the period of time 
I have mentioned. The measure of that difference may be 
more, but cannot be less, than the depth at which the 
courses of the rivers of Middle and Upper tertiary age 
continue below the present surface. This may be roughly 
estimated at a mean of 400 feet. We have, then, 1,000 feet 
as representing the minimum limit of probability as to the 
oscillations of the land since the Lower tertiary period; and 
I do not think that the maximum would reach 500 feet 
more. The oscillations have, no doubt, been numerous, but 
they seem to me — judging from the appearances I have 
observed over a large part of the southern coast, from 
Spencer's Gulf to near Cape Howe, and northwards nearly to 
the tropics — to have been widespread and equable in their 

The following notes may roughly give an idea of the 
oscillations as indicated in Gippsland. At the period of the 
Middle miocene limestones (Bairnsdale, &c.), the land was 
depressed to, say, 300 feet below its present level.-(- 

At the period of the Upper miocene or Lower pliocene 
sands and clays (Moitun Creek beds), a depression of some- 

* The oldest formations of tertiary age knowa in Victoria are the Mount 
Martha and Schnapper Point beds, which have been referred by Professor 
M'Coy to the Oligocene ; "Prodromus of the Paleontology of Victoria." 

t " Progress Report, Geological Survey of Victoria," ii. pp. 59-72, ; vi., 
p. 122. 


what greater degree occurred, by which the hollows and 
inequalities of the Bairnsdale limestone were filled in and 
smoothed over. A subsequent period of depression is 
indicated by the Newer pliocene sandy limestones (Jemmy's 
Point and Lake Tyers). A final depression of great extent 
occurred when those claj's and sands were laid down whose 
highest limits, as I have said, now reach to some 800 feet 
above sea level. 

Corresponding to these principal depressions, there seem 
to me to have been three periods of maximum elevation. 
The first preceded the formation of the Moitun Creek beds, 
and on this land surface flowed those streams now known 
to us as some of the oldest of the deep leads, such as that 
of the Welcome Rush, at Stawell.* I am inclined to class 
the Moitun Creek ferruginous sands and clays with those of 
Flemington and Stawell. It ma}' be that the great " reef 
washes " of Ballarat are to be referred to the period of 
depression during which the abovemcntioned marine beda 
were laid down.i^ 

The elevation of the land of which I have just spoken 
as antecedent to the formation of the Moitun Creek beds^ 
must have been greater than that now existinof, otherwise 
the then rivers (deep leads) could not, assuming the 
oscillations of the land to have been widespread and 
equable in character, have had sufficient fall to the sea. 

A second elevation of the land I conceive to have 
preceded the formation of the Jemmy's Point and Lake 

* The expression " deep lead" refers to those ancient river-courses which 
are now only disclosed by deep-mining operations, and whose trend has 
often no connection with existing surface features. See also Mr. Norman 
Taylor's "Report on the Stawell Goklfield," " Eeport of Progress, 
Geological Survey of Victoria," iii., p. 250. 

t " Report on the Geology and Mineral Resources of Ballarat," by Mr. 
R. A. F. Murray. " Report of Progress, Geological Survey of Victoria,'" 
i., p. 66. 


Tyevs sandy limestones. This land surface was also 
probably of long continuance, and of great extent. To this 
period I incline to refer a great number of the newer deep 
leads — such, for instance, as those of the Ovens district, 
or the Commercial-street lead at Stawell. 

A third elevation of the land may perhaps be indicated 
by the break which I observe between the limestones of 
Lake Tyers and the succeeding clayey and sandy forma- 
tions, with quartz gravels, which I have already mentioned as 
rising to some 800 feet on the flanks of the Palfeozoic hills. 

A land communication probably existed between Australia 
and Tasmania at the period which I have indicated as that 
of the newer deep leads, that is, preceding the formation of 
the Newer pliocene beds of Gippsland. It existed, I think, 
even subsequently — indicated probably by the break which 
I find between the Jemmy's Point beds and the succeeding 
series of clays, sands, and gravels. It ceased to exist during 
the great depression co-existing with their formation, and 
which continued until re-elevation of the land brought 
about the existing physical conditions of Southern Australia. 

I have not seen any signs in Australia of any glacial or 
glacier epoch, such as that of the Northern Hemisphere. The 
continuity of the land surface has in South-Eastern Australia 
been unbroken as far back, at least, as the period of the 
Oolitic carbonaceous formations of Victoria. 

Eastern Victoria during the periods of greatest subsidence 
was a mountainous island ; Western Victoria an archipelago 
of islands, many of them having active volcanos. During 
the periods of greatest elevation, the continental character 
of the land must have been even more pronounced than now, 
owing to its greater extent to the south, to the north, and 
probably also to the east. The climate, as shown by the 
Miocene and later marine and terrestrial fauna and flora 
was warmer than at present. There is nothing, therefore, in 



the past geological or physical history of South-Eastern 
Victoria, which would render the existence of man in it 
less probable than when it was first discovered by the early 
navigators. Through how much of geologic time the pro- 
genitors of the Australian savage have inhabited it cannot 
be postulated ; but if these views are near the truth, the 
separation of Tasmania from the mainland may have 
occurred within the time during which the present aborigines 
have inhabited this continent. 

I suspect that the two Kfirnai legends of history refer to 
the time following the period when the Newer pliocene 
beds of East Gippsland were formed. To the same period 
may, perhaps, be referred also other tales told by the 
Kiirnai of a great deluge which, they allege, once happened 
in South Gippsland. It is, therefore, possible that these 
legends are the recollection of actual occurrences handed 
down from one generation of the Kiirnai to another, 
through periods of time during which even the phj'sical 
features of the earth's surface have been less constant than 
the customs of the savages who roamed over it.* 



The following information has been kindly furnished to 
me by the Rev. J. H. Stiihle, of the Church Mission, Lake 
Condah, Western Victoria. 

* Since writing the above, I have mentioned to Professor M'Coj^, of the 
Melbourne University, these conchisions, to which I have arrived by a 
•consideration mainly of the stratagraphical evidence as seen in the field. 
He has stated to me his own conclusions, from palseontological evidence, 
and he has kindly permitted me to (^uote them here. 

"At the deep lead period, extinct marsupial animals, such as wombats 


The territory claimed by this tribe may be defined as 
extending from the Glenelg River on the west to the 
Eumerella River on the east, and from the sea coast as far 
north as Mount Napier and Hotspur. 

Its members called themselves Gournditch-mara, from 
" Gournditch," the distinctive name of the tribe (as also of 
Lake Condah), and " mara " = man. Neighbouring friendly 
tribes were recognized as being " mara," but this tribe alone 
was " Gournditch."* The tribe was divided into four 
classes, named Kerup (water). Bum (mountain), Direk 
(swamp), and Gilger (river). There was no exogamous rule 
affecting marriage. Hence a man, for instance, of Kerup 
might marry a woman of Kertip, Direk, Bdm, or Gilger, 

(phascolomys jillocenusj, occur; and in the clays mainly of the same age, 
where more widely extended about Colac, we find several other extinct 
mammals now confined to the continent of Australia, but mingled with a few 
remains of living species — notably the dingo and the Tasmanian devil 
(sarcophylus ursinusj, the former abundant on the continent at the present 
day, but the sarcophylus extinct on the continent before liistoric times ; 
that is, not leaving any evidence of any sort of its existence in company 
with man. Nor are there any known traditions of the existence of the living 
sarcophylus on the continent. 

" I tliink that, at this period, Tasmania and this continent were connected 
by land (newer pliocene or pleistocene). Immediately after this period subsi- 
dence of the land took place, separating Tasmania from the continent as 
seen at the present time ; while shortly before it, there was a still wider 
separation by continuous moderately deep sea, as shown by the community 
of Upper miocene and Older pliocene fossil strata of considerable thickness, 
extending from Tasmania to the Murray at the present day, full of shells, 
echinoderms, corals, &c. 

' ' Roughly, or approximately speaking, I should guess that 75 per cent, 
of the living fauna of Tasmania is identical with that of Southern Con- 
tinental Australia, but the 25 per cent, remaining — peculiar to Tasmania — 
is composed of many very remarkable forms, often separated by generic as 
well as specific characters from their nearest analogues on the mainland. 
This may amount to nothing more than the natural result of geographical 
distribution due to climate, if even the land were continuous now." 

* We have here an analogous case to that of the Kumai. The 
Gournditch-mara were, therefore, probably a division of a much larger 
group, recognizing common descent, and calling themselves collectively 


or vice versa. Wives were also obtained from other 
neighbouring and friendly tribes. These friendly tribes 
were recognized as being i-elated to them, and from the 
same stock. They were also " mara." 

The child belonged to the father's class, and spoke his 
language, and not that of the mother, when she happened 
to be of another tribe.* There was individual marriage by 
exchange of sisters (not of daughters), and the consent of 
the girl's parents was necessary. It occasionally happened 
that a young man eloped with a girl without her parents' 
consent. Sometimes the parents pursued them, captured 
the girl, and brought her back ; at other times, if the 
young man belonged to some neighbouring tribe, and the 
fugitives had gone away to a considerable distance, no 
pursuit was made. The girl, if caught, received a severe 
beating ; the man sometimes also a beating, from the girl's 

The man who captured a woman in war never kept her 
himself, but he was compelled to give her to whomsoever 
he chose. It was, however, necessary that he should first 
take her before a council of elders and the head man of 
the tribe, as it were for inspection.*!- If the wife was 
unfaithful to her husband, he gave her a severe beating 
the first time. If she repeated the offence, he left her 
altogether. This was the severest penalty inflicted, as 
thereby she incurred the scorn and dislike of the whole 
tribe, with the exception, perhaps, of those who were 
as bad as herself. A man was not, however, restricted 

* Here we have an instance of a savage tribe in which at least some of 
the men and women spoke different hmguages. Taken alone, it might 
sujiport Mr. M'Lennan's views as to marriage by capture. Taken, however, 
together with Mr. Stiihle's other statements, it raises doubts whether 
similar cases on which much stress has been laid, for instance that of the 
Caribbeans, might not bear another construction had we fuller information. 

t This ceremony is highly suggestive of adoption. 


to one wife — he miffht have half-a-dozen if he could <xet 

Not only was fidelity expected from the wife, but those 
were considered very bad man who lent their wives to 
others. When such a case occurred, it always occasioned a 
fight between the better-thinking of the tribe and the 

The office of head man in the tribe was hereditary. 
When the head man died, he was succeeded by his son, or, 
failing a son, by the next male relative. This was the law 
of the tribe before any whites came into the country. The 
head man had the power of proclaiming war, and when he 
did this, all the men of the tribe were obliged to follow 
him. He settled all quarrels and disputes in the tribe. 
When he had heard both sides, and had given his decision 
in a matter, no one ever disputed it. In war all spoils were 
brought to him, who divided them among his men, after 
having reserved the best for himself. The men of the tribe 
were under an obligation to provide him with food, and to 
make all kinds of presents to him, such as kangaroo and 
opossum rugs, stone tomahawks, spears, flint knives, »fec. 

The Gournditch-mara did not in war eat any portion of 
the slain. 

Although there was no individual property in land, all 
such things as were left by the deceased were divided 
among his nearest relatives. 

Game killed in the chase was divided amongst those 
present. Supposing a kangaroo to have been killed, the 
hunter gave one hind leg and the breast to his most 
esteemed friend, and kept the other hind leg himself. The 

* In reply to a special question, whether there was any such unusual 
license on special occasions as that noted by the Eev. Mr. Kiihn in the 
Turra tribe (Appendix H), Mr. Stable says : — "There was no such license 
allowed among the Gournditch-mara on any occasion whatever." 


remainder was divided among the other companions. There 
was, however, no rule as to the distribution of cooked 
food in the camp, for all eat together — that is, each family 
did so. Each wife was, however, obliged to sit beside her 
own husband, nor near any other man unless her husband 
sat between them. Each family camped by itself. 

The Gournditch-mara believed that there was a future 
good and bright place, to which those who were good went 
after death, and that there was a man at that place who 
took care of the world and of all people. The good place 
was called " Mumble-Mirring." There was also, according 
to them, a dark place where bad people were punished after 
death. This place they called " Biirreet Barrat." This 
belief they had before there was any white person in the 

They believed that the spirit of the deceased father or 
grandfather occasionally visited the male descendant in 
dreams, and imparted to him charms (songs) against disease 
or against witchcraft. 

There were also among the Gournditch-mara persons- 
who professed to communicate with the spirits of the- 
deceased, and to learn from them coiTobboree songs and 
dances, and to inquire from them concerning future 

This tribe had no ceremonies of initiation of the young- 
men or young women to manhood or womanhood. 



I AM indebted to Mr, G. W. E,usden, Clerk to the Legis- 
lative Council of Victoria, for the following interesting infor- 
mation in respect to a tribe speaking the Geawe-gal dialect, 
on the Hunter River, New South Wales. This tribe is, I 
believe, now extinct. Mr. Rusden was identified with it, and 
spoke the language as a youth. Geawe-gal belongs to that 
class of tribes whose language is described by its negative — 
in this case, Geawe — No. Mr. Eusden says : — " The territory 
claimed by them may be defined as being part of the 
valley of the Hunter River extending to each lateral 
watershed, and from twenty-five to thirty miles along the 
valley on each side of Glendon. These aborigines spoke 
the language of, and intermarried with, those of Maitland. 
Less frequently with those of the Patterson River, and 
rarely with those of Muswell Brook. They were always in 
dread of war with the Kamilaroi, who intruded down the 
heads of the Hunter across from the Talbrao-ar to the 
Munmurra waters, and even occasionally made raids as far 
as Jerry's Plains. A section of the Kamilaroi occupied the 
upper sources of the waters flowing into the Hunter River 
— that is, those which form the heads of the Goulburn 
River, for instance, the Munmurra Creek. The Dividing- 
Range between the Munmurra and Talbragar sinks down 
so that a traveller would not think he was crossing the 
boundary between any waters, much less those which 
divide the Darling waters from those of the Hunter River. 


This probably facilitated the spread of the powerful 

" The myall wood weapons made at Liverpool Plains were 
exchanged with the coast natives for others (myrtle, k.c.) 
which were made on the Hunter, and the Kamilaroi w^ere 
spoken of as Myall blacks by the Geawe-gal, so that myall 
was almost synonymous with fierce. 

"Although I do not recollect all their class divisions, they 
had distinctly the great divisions, Yippai and Kombo.* 
Apropos of the generic names, the Geawe-gal had a 
superstition that everyone had w^ithin himself an affinity 
to the spirit of some bird, beast, or reptile. Not that he 
sprung from the creature in any way, but that the sj^irit 
which was in him was akin to that of the creature. I have 
often spoken of the superstition, and found my causeur 
incredulous himself, but not doubting that it was an ancient 
tradition of his people. 

" Marriage was ordinarily by gift of the Avoman and by 
consent of both fathers, in case the future husband w^as a 
boy or a youth, and would be arranged years before the 
time for marriage. Girls were thus affianced, in childhood 
also, to men much older than themselves. Wives were also 
exchanged (swapped) by their husbands. Some strong 
men, 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 her 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 case of female captives, they belonged 
to their captors, if of a class from which wives might be 
legally taken by them. If of a forbidden class, then, I 

* [It always struck nie as remarkable that even young childreu knew 
and couUl state off hand, with regard to every soul in the tribe, whether he 
or she was Yippai or Kombo. — G.W.K.] 


think that 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 Geawe-gal 
were familiar. If the class could not be ascertained, then 
there would not be any objection to her captor retaining 

" 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 or friends. 

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

" I have occasionally heard of a saturnalia taking place 
among them, whereat wives were exchanged or lent to the 
young men, so that intercourse was almost promiscuous 
(subject to the class laws). When they admitted this to 
me, they did so as if also admitting that they were ashamed 
of it. This occurred not in open daylight, but at night. 
It might not happen for years. 

" The best man in war would be recognized by them as 
principal adviser, and would have authority by consent of 
the elders. I have known the office to be hereditary, when 
the son proved himself a capable warrior. Without such 
proof, there was no possibility of his being accepted. 

" A koradji {i.e., wizard, medicine man) might be such a 
leader. In every case, however, the leading or chief man 
would be only priTiius inter pares, and be liable to be set 
aside by the council of old men if his actions were 
disapproved. At this council the younger men (that is 


those having been initiated) might be present, but M'oukI 
not speak. Such councils were held at night. On ordinary 
occasions, for instance, in cases of disputes or of ordeal by 
battle, the old -women had much to say. 

" The principal social restraints in vogue were laws of 
satisfaction for injury done, by the offender submitting to 
an ordeal by which he exposed himself to danger. They 
did not, however, assume the form of the Saxon wehrgild, 
by which an injury could be compounded for ; but they 
required that the offender should run the risk of a similar 
injury to the one he had done. According to the magnitude 
of his offence, he had to receive one or more spears from 
men who were relatives of the deceased person, or, when the 
injured person had recovered strength, he might himself 
discharge the spears at the offender. 

" Obedience to such laws was never withheld, but would 
have been enforced, without doubt, if necessary, by the 
assembled tribe. Offences against individuals, or blabbing 
about the secret rites of the tribe, and all breaches of 
custom, were visited with some punishment. Such punish- 
ments, or such ordeals, were always coram 'piiblico, and the 
women were present. Not so the adjudication according to 
wdiich the penalty was prescribed. 

" They believed in the mysterious power of the koradji ; 
but it is hard to say what special means of using it they 
ascribed to it as exercised in his own tribe. If one of them 
wasted away, his ailment was almost always imputed to the 
evil influence of some koradji of another tribe. Their own 
koradji would, after resort to seclusion or mystery, pro- 
nounce from what quarter the malign influence had come, 
and then the whole tribe was committed to feud or revenge. 
The koradji were supposed, in some undefined way, to have 
preternatural knowledge of, or power of communicating 
with, spiritual influences. 


" In connection with the ceremonies of initiation of the 
young men, a wooden booming instrument, whirled round 
at the end of a cord, was used. It was used then, and then 
only. A particular ' cooee,' and a particular reply to it, 
were made known to the young men when they were initi- 
ated. Among the symbols used were the form of the cross 
mounded on the earth ; a circle similarly formed, and 
sinuous parallel lines and other marks on the trees 
surrounding the site of the ceremony ; which sites the 
women and children were never allowed to approach. The 
murramai, or rock crystal, was first seen by the young men 
at their initiation. It was held in reverence. Think of 
the defeat of tribal reverence which was brought about 
when a white man put a station close to one of these secret 
places, and it became a thoroughfare ! 

"A European who had gained the confidence of the tribe 
might be permitted to be present at the ceremonies of 
initiation ; and a knowledge of them would be a safe pass- 
port for a traveller among a strange tribe, if by any means 
he could communicate the fact of his initiation. The 
wonder and the readiness to fraternize shown by strange 
blacks to an initiated white man seen by them for the first 
time are very great, accompanied by earnest entreaties not 
to reveal anything unlawful. 

" The means of communication with adjoining, or even 
more distant tribes, was by persons having the character of 
heralds. Their persons were sacred even among hostile 
tribes. From occasional residences in distant places, many 
of them acquired different dialects fluently. Other men, 
engaged in afiairs of less moment, may be termed 
' special messengers.' They also were respected scrupu- 
lously, I think ; but I doubt whether their persons 
would have been so sacred as those of the heralds, under 
certain conditions. Their journeys were made in safer 


territories. A herald would be selected for dangerous 

" Infanticide was, I have reason to believe, permitted by 
the Geawe-gal tribe, though I never knew an instance. 
They alleged that while their food was abundant and 
their habits were simple, it was at least uncommon. 
They were very fond of their children, so far as I could 

" I have known the hands of enemies slain in a foray to be 
■carried as trophies for weeks, and I have known cannibalism 
imputed to a tribe (guiltless of it) on the ground of these 
hands being found in a camp. 

"All implements, the property of a warrior, were interred 
with his body, and, indeed, every piece of inanimate pro- 
perty he had possessed. The name of a deceased person 
was never mentioned after his decease ; and when a white 
man carelessly or recklessly has spoken of a dead man by 
name, I have seen several blacks hang their heads sorrow- 
fully, while one of them would remonstrate, if they had any 
respect for the speaker ; otherwise they would endeavour 
to turn the conversation." 



I AM indebted to the Rev. W. Julius Kuhn, of the Boorkoo- 
yanna Mission, for the following important particulars. 

The Turra tribe is located in York's Peninsula, South 
Australia. It is divided into the following classes and 
totems : — 


WILTtr (Eaglehawk), and MULTA (Seal). 

Worrira = Wildgoose. 
Worrimbril = Butterfish. 
Gatta worrie == Mullet. 
Mittaga = Schnapper. 
Papus = Shark. 
Wittata = Salmon. 

Wortu = Wombat. 

Woldla = Wallaby. 

Nantu = Kangaroo.* 

Beruna = Iguana. 

Gutubaru = Wombat — snake. 

Mata = Bandicoot. 

Worra = Black Bandicoot. 

Gua = Crow. 

Gemtu = Rock Wallaby. 

Gari = Emu. 

The classes are exogamous, but any totem of one class, 
may intermarry with any totem of the other class ; the 
children take the father's class and totem. 

Girls are given in marriage by their parents, whose 
consent is essential ; wives are also obtained by exchange 
of female relatives. If the parents refused their consent, it 
might be that a young man would run off with a girl. The 
parents would search for him for the purpose of killing him,, 
and the penalty as to the girl, if caught, was death, which 
was inflicted by the parents or nearest relatives. The man 
was generally protected by his class division. When 
opinion was divided as to this, a fight might take place to 
decide his right to keep the girl. For instance, if a Wiltri- 
wortu man were to elope with a Multa-worrimbru woman,, 
he would be protected by the Wiltu-wortu men. But a 
Wiltu-wortu man would not be permitted to keep a Wiltii- 
wortu woman as his wife. Even if he were to capture one 
she would be taken from him, and if she persisted in 
followinof him she would be killed. When a female was 
captured in war, she was the property of her captor ;-f- but 

* The word Nantu seems to have been carried from tribe to tribe into- 
Central Australia, where it is used for "horse," just as the word 
" yarraraan" has also been carried there from New South Wales, ha\'ing the 
same meaning. The Dieri or Yantruwunta word for kangaroo is Tchukuro. 

+ It follows from the preceding statement that it would only be the 
case if she were of some class from which he might legally take a wife. 


the section of the tribe to which she belonged would fifjht 
for her recovery. Failing to do that, they would endeavour 
to capture a woman from the other section of the tribe, and 
keep her. 

Women were bound to be faithful to their husbands, also 
the husbands to their wives. Whoever was guilty of 
unfaithfulness was liable to be punished by death at the 
hands of the class of the offender. 

When the two sub-tribes Wiltii and Multa met for a 
grand corrobboree, the old men took any of the young wives 
of the other class for the time, and the young men of the 
Wiltu exchanged wives with those of the Multa, and vice 
versa, but only for a time, and in this the men were not 
confined to any particular totem. Yet at other times men 
did not lend their wives to brothers or friends. 

In the ceremonies of circumcision they used an instrument 
which makes a humming noise, but no information can be 
got as to its shape, as anyone showing it to an uninitiated 
person is liable to be punished with death, as well as the 
one who saw it. 

When a young man is to be circumcised, they take one of 
his male relatives, and, drawing blood from his ai-m, cause 
the young man to drink it. Two or three months afterwards 
he is circumcised, and is then free to marry. Some of the 
married men, after two or three months, undergo another 
operation. They are cut along the back, and receive the 
designation Willeru ;* after this they are not permitted to 
go to their wives for two years. 

In hunting, if, for instance, a man kills a kangaroo, he 
gives to the man on his right hand the head, tail, the lower 
part of the hind leg, some fat, and some liver ; the second 

* Among the Dieri one of the designations attached to the initiated is 


to the right receives the hinder part of the backbone and 
the left shoulder. The man to his left receives the right 
shoulder and some ribs from the right side, and the upper 
part of the left leg. His mother receives the ribs ; his brother 
receives of his father's portion, and his sisters receive the 
flank. The kangaroo is cooked before being distributed. 

In camping, the place of the parents is to the right hand 
.side of their son's camp ; the brother's to the left side ; 
sister-in-law to the right side, or near his father's. From 
whatever cardinal point the aborigines arrive, they accord- 
ingly fix their camps some distance from those already 

In the camp the husband sleeps at the right hand of the 
iire, his wife behind him, and her young children behind 

There are doctors among these aborigines who profess to 
cure disease by charms and sucking the part of the body 
where the person suffers. When a doctor is old, or for some 
reason unable to practice, his son takes his place. 

Men who profess to learn corrobboree songs and dances 
from departed spirits are called Gureldres ; they are taught 
songs for the dead, which are sung to make the departed 
happy, who are gone to another country to live for ever, 
but to return no more.* 

* The totems of the Multa class divisions are perhaps not complete, and 
there is seemingly some confusion as to the rules given for camping. I 
have, unfortunately, not received replies from the Rev. Julius Kiihn to 
further questions I addressed to him on these subjects, up to the time of 
going to press. 



The Rev. John Biilmer, who, many years ago, was intimately 
acquainted with this tribe, has kindly furnished me with 
the following- particulars. 

The Wa-imbio called their language Maraura. Theii" 
territory extended from the junction of the Darling and 
Murray Rivers down to the Rufus. It did not extend up 
the Murray, for the blacks at Mildura — twenty miles, 
above the junction — were called Kerinma, and their language- 
was totally different ; while the tribe below the Rufus was. 
called Pomp-malkie. I believe the Maraura language 
extended up the Darling to Menindie — at least, our mission- 
ary, Holden, could converse with blacks of that locality in 
that language ; and I recognize their totemic names (animals) 
as Maraura ; for instance, Karnie (a large lizard), which 
belonged to Muquarra, and Namba (the bonefish), which 
belonged to Kilparra. 

The Wa-imbio were divided into two primary classes^ 
Muquarra (eaglehawk) and Kilparra (crow). Muquarra 
married Kilpan-a, and Kilparra married Muquarra. 

With respect to the conditions of marriage, I think that 
the parents' consent was usually required. I remember a 
case where a young man named Na-withero married a girl 
named Malukra. She had been promised to him when he- 
was a young man, and she was given to him when of 
sufficient age. Malukra was a member of the tribe living 
at Tapio, on the Darling, and Na-withero belonged to the- 


junction of the Darling and the Murray. I think it 
probable that the Tapio people were merely a division of 
the same tribe. 

Marriage was brought about by elopement. If the 
woman was caught, her female relatives gave her a good 
beating. Fights took place over these cases between the 
girl's relatives — both male and female — and those of the 
man. The women were generally the most excited ; they 
would stir up the men, and then assist with their yam- 
sticks. If the girl was first caught by others than her own 
relatives, she would be abused by all the men ; but this 
never occurred when her parents or her brothers were 
present to protect her. 

I do not think it would happen that a man would persist 
in keeping a woman of the same class as himself ; but, at 
any rate, the blacks would never hesitate to kill a man 
who would break that rule. If the woman were of the 
proper class division, and she wished to remain with the 
man with whom she had eloped, she would be given to him 
after a little bother. Under such circumstances he would 
stand and allow all her male relatives to give him a knock 
on the head, after which they would be satisfied, and the 
man would be recognized as her husband. 

If a man captured a woman, he would not be permitted 
to keep her unless she were of some class from which he 
might legally take a wife. A man would as soon think of 
marrying his own sister as a woman of the same class as 
himself. I remember, when I first went among the Murray 
blacks, one of the young men attached himself to me. He 
said we must be brothers ; and as he was a Kilparra man, 
I was, of course, the same. I one day said to his wife — " I 
am John's brother : you are my sister." The idea was, to 
her, most ridiculous. With a laugh she said — " No ; you are 
my husband." This shows how strict they were to keep up 



class rules ; and, also, that they would never allow a cap- 
tured maiden to be kept by a man of her own class. 

I do not think that, amon^; the Wa-imbio, brothers 
usually occupied any other position, as to their brothers' 
wives, beyond the right of having the brother's widow. Yet 
I remember that these relatives wei'e very free and easy in 
their intercourse with each other, and, generally, that the 
men were also^much more so as to the women than was the 
case in Gippsland. I know that one of them did not think 
that he had done anything wrong when he took his 
l)rother's Avife. I have known, when a man and his wife 
quarrelled, the brother would take the wife, and send his to 
the sulky husband. This was very common, and, no doubt, 
was the remnant of an old custom. 

I have known men to have two or three wives, but I 
have been told that some had four or live. Sometimes the 
parents had a difficulty in getting their daughters married 
to a proper person, within class limits ; so that they would 
give her to a man who had one already, to obviate the 
difficulty. I think one wife was the rule, and the plurality 
the exception. 

At times, when there was a ijTeat o-atherinQ- at corrobborees, 
wives were exchanged, liut 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 Mui-ray, and the cunning old men proposed 
exchanging wives to ensure safety from it.* Yet, at all 

* I suspect that this suggestion made by the old men as to the exchange 
of wives, may receive another explanation, if we assume that it was 
suggested as a means of averting imi)ending evil, supposed to be consequent 
upon disregard of ancient customs by the tribe generally. The occasional 
exchange of women, whicli is a custom common to many Australian tribes, 
especially at their great social gatherings, is clearly a survival of those old 
communal matrimonial ri'dits of the class divisions, which we have shown 


other times, the men expected wives to be faithful to their 
husbands, unless by their consent and command. This was 
often given, as the husband was liable to fancy the wife of 
some other man, and effected an exchange. I remember a 
case where two men exchanged wives for a month ; this 
was called he-ama; but I am unable to say whether it was 
done frequently. In every case, they were careful to keep 
within the class limits. 

Children were always of the same class as their mother. 
As to this point I am most confident, as I was so familiar 
with the whole affair in my early days. 

These blacks often talked to me of Captain Sturt and 
Major Mitchell. Many old men were there who had, no 
doubt, been among those who opposed the former near the 

to undei-lie the whole present social structure of these aborigines, and to 
be preserved in their kinship terms. In tribes such as the Wa-imbio, 
where individual marriage had largely supplanted group marriage, tlie 
ancient communal customs had been in so far abandoned. That personal 
misfortunes are supposed to follow upon breach of ancestral custom is 
undoubted. For instance, in the tribe at Eoebourne, Western Australia, it 
is believed that a man's hair will turn grey if he knowingly looks at his 
wife's mother (tila) — (Mr. A. E. Richardson, Roebourne, W.A.) The 
explanation I suggest, is to me strengthened by a statement made to me by 
a man of the "Majauka" tribe (Menindie), Darling River, that "he 
believed the dying out of his race to be in consequence of their disregai'd, 
since the arrival of the w'hite man, of the customs and laws of their 
fathers."— A. W.H. 




The following further particulars as to the Birraarks of 
the Kiirnai are worth noting : — It appears, from inquiries 
which I have lately made, that there was one BiiTaark to 
each clan, more rarely one to a division. For instance, of 
the last Birraarks one belonged to each of the following 
places: — Wurnungatti (Kroatun), Bruthen (Brabia), Bunjil 
Kraura (Braiaka), Bimjil Nellting (Braiaka), Dairgo (Brabra), 
Delin (Brataua), and Ngarrawut (Tatiing). The stories 
told of these men all agree in certain particulars, namely — 
a professed intercourse with the spirits of the departed 
Kurnai, and a power to call down these spirits to nocturnal 
converse with their descendants. The following instance 
is' highly typical of all the stories respecting them. I 
give it, as nearly as possible, in my informant's words : — 
" I was once at Yunthur. The Dinna Birraark Brewin was 
there with his wife. In the night she woke and shouted 
out that he w^as gone up to the mrarts. We all got ready, 
and some one shouted out, 'Where are you?' He replied, 
'Here I am — I am coming down!' He said he had heard 
the mrarts having a corrobboree (gounyuru), and making a 
great noise, and had gone up to them. Then the mrarts 
came down with him, and conversed with us about where 
the other mobs of Kurnai were, and Avhether any Brajerak 
were coming after us. When the mrarts went away, we 
found Brewin lying, as if asleep, where we had heard them 
speaking to us. The mrarts talked in very curious voices ! 
This Birraark was once away with the mrarts for two 
nights and a day, and the Kurnai therefore gave him the 
name of Brewin." f 

* See ante. p. 253. 

t For Brewin, see p. 254. 






During the course of my investigations among the Aus- 
ti-alian tribes, information reached me from time to time 
which seemed to point to a system widely different fi^om 
that which, for brevity's sake, I have called the Kamilaroi. 
It appeared to reckon descent through the father, and such 
glimpses of its marriage regulations as I could catch in the 
details furnished by my correspondents showed that they 
did not coincide with those of the Kamilaroi. For several 
years I strove in vain to get such information as would 
enable me to determine the system ; but when the MS. of 
my friend Mr. Howitt's memoir on the Kiirnai tribe 
came into my hands, I had not read many pages before it 
became clear to me that their system of marriage, descent, 
and I'elationship is that of which indications had presented 
themselves here and there in the information supplied by 
my correspondents, but which I had been unable to 
ascertain. On several important points it appears at first 
sight to be directly at variance with the Kamilaroi, but I 
think it may be shown that this variance admits of a very 
simple explanation. 

Mr. Howitt's monograph shows the following charac- 
teristics of the Kiirnai system : — 

1. The Ktirnai have, to a certain extent, descent through 
the father. 

2. They have marriage with consent of the woman. 


3. So far from mamage being communal, the strictest 
fidelity is exacted from the woman. 

4. Each of the divisions, or gentes, can marr}^ anywhere 
beyond its own limits, with certain restrictions to prevent 
marriage between persons who are too near in blood. 

5. They have, at least, the germ of inheritance by the 
individual to the exclusion of tlie group, as shown in the 
exclusive ownership by inheritance of the swans' eggs at 
the breeding place on Lake Kurlip. — (Ante p. 232.) 

All this is so astonishingly far in advance of the Kamilaroi 
system, that, if we look upon it as the result of a gradual 
orderly development without special disturbing causes, we 
must reasonably expect to find a parallel advance in other 
respects. This, however, we do not find. Keither in the 
arts of peace nor in those of war did the Kurnai exhibit 
any marked superioiity over other tribes. Their huts, 
their canoes, and other articles of their rude manufacture 
were no better than those which were made elsewhere. In 
no respect, as far as I am aware, did they give any token 
of an intelligence higher than that of their neighbours ; 
nor do I know of any reason why we should expect such 
tokens from them. And yet their almost complete isolation 
from external impulse, so ingeniously shown by Mr. Howitt, 
forces upon us the conviction that their system must have 
been, to a certain extent, of indigenous growth. In the 
Kurnai, therefore, we have an isolated tribe which has 
gone very far in advance of its neighbours as regards 
marriage and descent, but is no more than on a par with 
them as to other respects ; and the problem now before us 
is to account for this apparent anomaly. 

That, " when the Yeerung or Djeetgiin family first 
occupied Gippsland they were in an early stage of the 
Turanian family," as Mr. Howitt observes, appears to me to 
be almost a certainty ; and his supposition that " the 


passage of their descendants from that family to the status 
of the pairing family has been comparatively rapid," is fully 
borne out by the present status of the Kamilaroi, with 
whom the Kiirnai can be shown to be connected. The 
difficulty is to accovmt for that rapid transition. For 
the isolation of the Kurnai must have tended to conser- 
vatism, not to change ; and, other things being equal, we 
should naturally expect them to be in the rear of those 
tribes which have been easily accessible one to another, 
rather than so very far in advance of them. We must 
therefore, as it seems to me, look for the motive power of that 
advance in some disturbing cause which forced the Kurnai 
out of the old groove, as far as the inter-sexual relations are 
concerned, and compelled them to make new arrangements. 
Of such a disturbing cause their system affords strong 
internal evidence. 

A careful study of Mr. Howitt's valuable monograph has 
convinced me that — 

The Kiirnai are the descendants of an isolated division statement 
of a tribe luhlch formerly consisted ofttuo exogamous inter- theory. 
marrying divisions, such as the Kiimite and Krohi of 
Mount Gamhier, and that their regulations as to marriage 
and descent are such as ^uould arise from an endeavour to 
folloiv the regulations of such divisions under circumstances 
of peculiar dijficidty. 

At all events, this theory gives a reasonable explanation 
of the points of difterence between the Kamilaroi system and 
the Kurnai : it shows how this tribe might come to be far in 
advance of its neio-hbours, as regards the inter-sexual regula- 
tions, without surpassing them in other resj)ects : the facts 
supplied by several of my correspondents tit in with it : 
and, as Mr. Howitt justly observes, "that hypothesis must 
be provisionally accepted which best explains the facts 
observed." Let us now take the most important points of 



difference between the two systems, and test my theory by 
them. They may be arranged in parallel columns as 
follows : — 


1. The classes include both males 
and females. 

2. All children take their mother's 
totem — i.e., descent is through the 

3. Marriage is, theoretically, a 
matter of status, not of contract. 
Consent of neither party is requisite. 
There is no secrecy. Parents and 
friends are acquiescent. 

4. Marriage is, theoretically, com- 
munal, and is still practically so to 
some extent. Certain gentes have 
mutual conjugal rights. These 
rights are claimed by, and granted 
to, guests from other tribes of like 

5. A gens can only intermarry 
with the gentes in a phratria other 
than its own. 


1. YeerQng consists of males onlj', 
Djeetgun of females only. 

2. Boys are Yeerung, like their 
fathers ; girls are Djeetgflu, like 
their mothers : that is to say, de- 
scent is through the father as to 
males, and through the mother as 
to females. 

3. Marriage is a matter of con- 
tract between the pai'ties, founded 
on mutual liking. The woman has a 
power of choice. Secrecy and elope- 
ment are indispensable. Parents and 
near kinsfolk of the woman are 
furious, and inflict cruel j^^uish- 

4. There is nothing approaching 
communism aftei- marrlmje, though 
there is unmistakable evidence of 
its former prevalence. All marital 
rights, after the consummation of 
marriage, are vested in the husband. 
He exacts strict fidelity from his 
wife ; does not lend her to friendly 

5. Each division can marry into 
any other division within certain 
limits, drawn to prevent a too close 
intermingling of blood. 

We may now in(|uire whether my theory can accoimt for 
the facts. 

Say that by some means or other — which we may 
consider by-and-bye — the two phratria3,* Kumite and 
Kroki, are driven asunder, and that the Kumite phratria, or 
a gens belonging to it, settles in Gippsland, and becomes the 
Kiirnai tribe. What will be the logical consequences of 
this event ? 

* Pliralria — I use this term for the sake of convenience. 


I. In the first place, what is the organization of this band 
of Kumites ? 

All the adult males are Kumite. We may suppose that 
their wives accompany them. All these women are 
Krokigor. There can be no Kumitegor among them, for the 
Kumitegors are with the other phratria as the wives of the 
Krokis — {See Table A, p. 34). Hence all the men are Kumite 
and all the women are Krokigor. For these names substi- 
tute Yeerimg and Djeetgun, and we have precisely the 
Kurnai system. 

II. In the second place, wliat will be the status of their 
children ? 

If the whole tribe were still united, all these children 
would pass over to the other phratria. All the boys would 
be Kroki and all the girls Krokigor, because all the mothers 
are Krokigor — (Table A). But this is no longer possible, 
for the simple reason that the other phratria is no longer 
within reach. And, besides, if the Kurnai were still to 
follow the old rule, there would be no Kumite among those 
children ; and, what is more, there could never again be a 
Kumite in any subsequent generation, if descent continued 
to be reckoned entirely through the mother. The son in the 
first descent would be Kroki, after his mother Krokigor, 
but his son could not be Kumite, because there are no 
Kumitegors ; and, under the old rule, without a Kumitegor 
mother there could not be a Kumite son. 

The Kumite, therefore, would be compelled to break the 
old rule, as far as regards their sons : firstly, in order to 
prevent their name from becoming utterly extinct ; and 
secondly, because, if the rule were not broken, it would 
for ever afterwards brino- husband and wife under the 
same class name, for all men Avould be Kroki and all 
women Krokigor. And this would be an utter abomination 
to minds which had become hard set in the Kamilaroi 


mould. My theory is that the Kurnai feigned their sons to 
be of the father's class, in accordance with the well-known 
habit of such hard-set tribes, who, when they are compelled 
to accept new arrangements, invent fictions to bring them 
under tlic sanction of ancient usage. Tliere would be no 
difficulty about the girls. Their mothers being Krokigor, 
they also would be Krokigor throughout all generations, 
as may be seen at a glance by referring to the diagram 
of descents given in a note at the end of Kamil. Mar., chap. iii. 

In the first descent, therefore, the male children would 
be Kumite by an absolutely necessary breach of the old 
rule, while the girls would be Krokigor in accordance with 
that rule ; and this would apply to all succeeding genera- 
tions. Once more substitute Yeerung and Djeetgun for 
those class names, and again we have precisely the Kurnai 

This arrangement seems to be all the more probable 
because it simply perpetuates that which was the organiza- 
tion of the phratria at the date of separation, when all the 
adult males were Veerung and all the females Djeetgun. 

III. In tlie third place, what will be the marriage 
regulations ? 

Had the tribe remained united, the young men would 
have taken wives from the other phratria, and the girls 
would have been taken to wife by its youths. That is to 
say, Kumite would have married Ki-okigor, and Kroki 
Kumitegor, and no man would have said them nay. This 
being now impossible, some other arrangement must be 
made ; and none other can be made which does not involve 
marriage within the phratria. 

But this is abhorrent to the old rule. It has been shown 
that, among tribes organized on the Kamilaroi system, such 
marriages are strictly forbidden, and sternly punished 
when they occur. The prohibition extends even to cases 


of forcible abduction, and to captives taken in war. 
Nevertheless, mutual liking proves stronger than ancient 
custom, and sometimes leads to connections of the forbidden 
kind. In such cases the only way in which the young 
people can effect their purpose is by elopement, and hiding 
themselves away in the bush. Great indignation is shown 
by their kinsfolk, and the runaway couple are followed by 
a hot pursuit. If taken, they are severely punished, 
perhaps even put to death. — [See Kamil. Mar., chap, iii.) 

And this, which is the custom under the Kamilaroi 
system in cases of illicit cohabitation within a phratria, is 
precisely the Kiirnai usage in all cases, for the reason (if 
my theory be correct) that every Kurnai marriage must be 
of that kind. 

Excepting in the rare cases noted by Mr. Howitt, where 
the consent of the o-irl's father could be obtained — too-ether 
with the case of the deceased brother's widow, and that of 
the wife's younger sister, both of which are in strict 
accordance with ancient rule — inarriasfe amono- the Kurnai 
was invariably by elopement. Secrecy was indispensable. 
As Mr. Howitt tells us, " it was indispensable to success 
that the parents of the girl should be utterly ignorant of 
what was about to take place." When the elopement 
occurred, the friends of the girl were furious. If the 
runaways were caught, the man had to stand as a target 
for the spears, boomerangs, and kulluks* of her near 
kinsmen, while the poor girl was " speared, or beaten 
within an inch of her life, by her father, mother, and 
brothers." This is precisely what would take place among 
the Kamilaroi if a man ran off with a woman of a forbidden 
class. Compare Mr. Howitt's account with that given to 
Mr. Reeve by Dora, of the Herbert River tribe, of how her 

* [KuUuk = gallak = wood, or tree. — A.W.H.] 


brother slashed " under the left breast and over the back " 
the woman whom he found in the bush with her disqualified 

Again, my correspondents agree in stating that among 
the Kamilaroi, if the eloping couple can elude pursuit 
" for a certain time," their offence may be condoned ; and 
this, also, is in accordance with the usage of the Kurnai, 
of whom Mr. Howitt tells us that, " if the couple can 
remain away until the girl is with child, it is said that they 
will be forgiven." Very significant, too, is the Kiirnai's 
defence of their usage against the accusation of cruelty, on 
the ground that " it was not intended as cruelty, but simply 
to follow an ancestral custom." 

It is manifest that both the elopement of the young- 
people, and the cruelty of their kinsfolk, are in accordance 
with the " ancestral custom " which still prevails among 
the Kamilaroi, and I venture to say that my theory is very 
strongly confirmed by its affording what seems to be the 
only possible explanation of the Kurnai usage. Their 
marriage by elopement cannot hj any possibility be looked 
upon as a survival of an older custom of mai^riage by 
capture ; for this kind of marriage is co-existent with it 
among the Kurnai, is openly practised, and brings no 
penalty upon the man or the woman at the hands of their 
own kinsfolk. The cruel punishment of the lovers is 
satisfactorily explained by the theoiy now advanced, and I 
cannot see that it admits of any other explanation. 

IV. In the fourth place, how do we account for the fact 
that the Kurnai husband has an exclusive right to his 
wife ? 

Under the old regulations, his wife would be " of the 
other phratria," and every one of his tribal brothers would 

* Ante, p. GH. 


have, at least theoretically, marital rights over her. But 
now, when the elopement has been successful, there is no 
one to share his right, for the conditions under which the 
old reo^ulations worked no lonojer exist. His wife is his 
own, not by right of a status in which others share, but by 
special contract between himself and her. He has made 
her his own by elopement, risking death from the weapons 
of her kinsmen, while she, on her part, risked dangerous 
spear wounds and a savage beating with clubs and sticks. 
She cannot be of a gens over wdiich his tribal brothers may 
have marital rights, for all those gentes must belong to that 
other phratria, of which perhaps even the very tradition 
has been forgotten by his tribe. She is his own, and no 
man can share in his right after he has fully acquired it.* 

Still more clearly do we see why it should be no longer 
a part of the rights of hospitality to lend the wife to a 
friendly guest. This accommodation is afforded by tribes 
who have the Kamilaroi system, not as a matter of favour, 
but in accordance with a mutual obligation binding upon 
them all. That it is commonly claimed and granted is beyond 
dispute. Of this we have a striking proof in the fact made 
known to us by Mr. Howitt, that their gesture language 
has a special sign for it ; "a peculiar folding of the hands" 
indicating " either a request or an offer, according as it is 
used by the guest or the host." This is so among those 
tribes, because their common organization gives them a 
common privilege. But the Ktirnai have no longer that 

* Mr. Howitt's Latin note shows plainly that the exclusive right is not 
acquired until tlie dangers of elopement have been successfully encountered. 
The man is one of a group, each member of which has as much right to 
elope with the girl as he has. The secret meeting in the forest seems to be 
a compounding for that right, which, however, must be distinguished from 
the marital right of tlie Kamilaroi. Such a right maj', to a certain extent, 
have grown uj^ among the Kurnai since the "dispersion," but it is manifest 
that it was subject to the ancient law. 


organization in common with them ; and, therefore, they 
are no longer under its obligation. They stand alone. A 
stranger, unless he come into one of their " divisions" by 
adoption, can have neither part nor lot with them. Other 
tribes call themselves after their lanofuao-es — the Unghi- 
speakers, the Kamilaroi, the Wiraithari, people who say 
" Kamil" or " Wirai,"* as the case may be. But the Gipps- 
land blacks are Kurnai— MEN ; while their enemies, of all 
tribes, are Brajerak — wild men, savages, ftapftapoi. 

V. How comes it that each " division" of the Kiirnai can 
marry anywhere beyond its own limits, though not within 
those limits ? 

According to my theory, the " divisions" were formerly 
exogamous gentes, belonging to an exogamous phratria.^f* 
But now this phratria can no longer be exogamous, because 
all marriages must be within its boundaries ; and the old 
law being of necessity broken, there is no reason why it 
should not be broken as regards any part of the phratria, 
provision being made against the union of relatives too near 
in blood. 

" But, if this be so," it may be asked, " why should not 
marriage take place within a division ?" 

The reason seems to be that the Kiirnai still recognized 
the old law of exogamy to its full extent, and they obeyed it 

* Kami], or Wirai. These are the negative. There are other tribes 
which call themselves Men as their distinctive title ; but information as to 
their marriage customs is coming all too slowly in. 

t The "divisions," as now existing, may i)erhaps have been formed since 
the "dispersion." Several facts point to this as probable. 
, [I do not think that the "divisions" of the Kurnai clans were formerly 
exogamous gentes. It seems to me that, granting the original occupation 
of Gippsland by a group such as that suggested by Mr. Fison's tlieor}', the 
natural growth of the population as to nundjers sj)rcadingover the country, 
along the lakes and rivers, would cause that |)opulation to break up into 
related groups, which, foUoAving the form of tlie ancient rule, would be 
exogamous. — A. W. H. ] 


as far as they could. They forbade marriage within the 
gens, for this was still possible to them ; and they refused 
to legalize marriage within the phratria, though it was 
impossible for them to avoid it. They showed how strong 
a hold the law had upon them by punishing every breach 
of it with cruel severity, although it was no longer possible 
for them to keep it ; and in so doing, if my theory be the 
true one, they followed an " ancestral custom " which 
obtained among their forefathers in the days when marriage 
was not of necessity a breach of law. 

The separation of a phratria, or a gens from the tribe to Disruption 

, . . . of a tribe. 

which it belonged, will not, I think, be deemed an event so 
improbable as to weaken the hypothesis on which I have 
endeavoured to explain the peculiarities of the Ktirnai 
system. The event might have come to pass in any one of 
the following ways : — 

1. By the voluntary withdrawal of a part of the tribe, or 
a separation by mutual consent. 

2. By the inroad of a stronger tribe, breaking up the 
weaker, and scattering it in various directions. 

3. By the expulsion of an offending gens from the tribe. 

4. By an angry blood feud between the two phratria3 
resulting in war, and the conqueror driving the vanquished 
away from the common hunting grounds. 

I do not think it likely that the separation was a peaceful 
one ; for the two phratrite are so woven together, as it 
were, that nothing short of a very powerful force would be 
strona; enouMi to rend them asunder. 

Segmentation of a tribe by mutual consent must have 

been of no uncommon occurrence — the identity of the 

classes in so many widely distant localities seems to make 

it certain that this was how the natives spread themselves 

over the continent — but in all such cases each segment had 

its due proportion of both phratriie. The movement was 



.simply a migi'ation of a part of the community to new 
huntincr o-rounds, and Ave have seen that the old tribal bond 
remained unbroken. Hence it could not account for the 
Kiirnai peculiarities. An overwhelming hostile inroad, 
though it might break up the tribe, would scarcely be 
likely to effect the complete separation of the two phratriiie. 
Still, it is a barely possible cause. The expulsion of an 
offending gens from the tribe we know to have occurred 
elsewhere ; and such a gens settling in a country like 
Gippsland, where it would be completely isolated, might 
account for the Kiirnai. But, on the whole, the most likely 
cause of separation seems to be a bloody quarrel between 
the two phratrife, which had gone too far to be appeased. 
Blood feuds between them are of common occurrence, the 
mode of expiation being that described by Mr. Howitt. If 
in any case the atonement for blood were refused by a man, 
and his kinsmen backed him up in his refusal, a bitter 
quarrel might ensue, in which every member of the tribe 
would soon be involved. So easily, indeed, might such a 
feud arise, that we can but admire the strength of the tribal 
bond, and wonder that it has ever sufficed to hold together 
such materials without chiefs or executive, or any basis of 
authority other than public opinion based upon ancient 

In any case, if my theory be correct, the " other phratria " 
must be somewhere, unless it were either completely blotted 
out — which is unlikely — or absorbed into some other tribe 
of like organization. Hence we should expect to find, 
somewhere or other, a tribe answering to the phratria which 
was formerly the complement of that which is now the 
Kurnai. I think it probable that we shall find a number 
of such tribes, because, if the history of the Kurnai was 
what I suppose it to have been, it has, doubtless, repeated 
itself elsewhere. There is one tribe within my knowledge 


— the Narinyeri, of South Australia — who appear to bear a 
strong resemblance to the Ktirnai. They, too, arrogate to 
themselves the title of men, this being the meaning of their 
name ; and they contemptuously brand all other tribes as 
Merkani, a word which has exactly the meaning of the 
term Brajerak, used by the Ktirnai. The designations of 
their clans are not totems like those of the Kamilaroi (and 
other clusters of tribes who call themselves after their 
languages), but names of j)laces like those of the Ktirnai. 
Each clan has a totem, but it calls itself by the name of its 
habitat. They also appear to have, to a certain extent, 
descent through the father. This information I received, 
more than six years ago, from the Rev. George Taplin,* of 
the Aboriginal Mission at Point Macleay ; but he was 
unable to give me the particulars which are necessary to 
fix the exact status of the tribe, and all my subsequent 

* At the eleventh hour, just before sending my MSS. to the printer, I 
have received a copy of the "South Australian Aboriginal Folklore," edited 
by Mr. Taplin. It contains communications from some of my own corres- 
pondents, and much material which, Avhen collated and systematized, will 
be of great value. 

The information as to marriage and relationship in most cases needs 
further inquiry and explanation. Thus, the oft-recurring statement, 
"Blood relations are not allowed to marry," is perfectly useless, unless we 
can ascertain what the informant means by blood relations. Quite enough, 
however, is shown to strengthen my conviction that there is another system 
of marriage and relationship in Australia, differing from the Kamilaroi ; 
that the Ktirnai system, or one nearly approaching it, will be found in 
other tribes ; and that South Australia is where we shall find it. 

The tables of the kinship terms given in the work are not full enough to 
be of much practical use. I have had nearly all of them in my possession 
for several years, but have never been able to get them completed. It was 
at my instance that Mr. Taplin first began to collect the terms, and he has 
done Mr. Howitt and myself the honour of using the methods of obtaining 
them which we gave him. He disposes of my interpretation of the 
" Tamil System " in a rather summary manner; but, doubtless, owing to 
my own deficiencies as to clearness of exjjression, I signally failed to make 
liim understand what that interpretation is. After much correspondence 
with him on the subject, he came to the conclusion that I supposed the 
Tamil system to be the result of polyandry. 


efforts to ascertain them were of no avail. Hence I cannot 
say positively what the Narinyeri system is, but I have 
little doubt that it will be found to resemble the Ktirnai, 
though it may not have taken precisely the same form ; for 
the Ktirnai were an isolated tribe, Avhile the Narinyeri, as 
far as I know, have not been shut out from external 
The Kroa- All the Ktirnai peculiarities noted by Mr. Howitt appear 
° ^^ ''■ to be satisfactorily accounted for by my hypothesis, with 
one exception. And this is the fact that the Kroatungolung- 
clan, alone of all the Ktirnai, do not join in the ceremony 
of " initiation." This seems to be a fact of considerable 
importance — at least it is so if they do not join in 
that ceremony because they are not qualified. For the 
" Brogan " are not brothers because they have a common 
initiation : they have that initiation because they are 
brothers — that is, none but tribal brothers can be Brogan. 
They are all Yeerimg : and since it appears that the 
Kroatungolung males also are all Yeerting, it is not easy to 
see whence their disqualification can arise. 
Objections To my theoretical explanation of the curious usage as to 
hypothesis marriage among the Ktirnai on the supposition that both 
the elopement and the punishment which followed were 
forced upon the tribe by the circumstances in which they 
were placed, and by the hold which ancient custom had 
upon them, it may possibly be objected that, even if the 
Kiii'nai were a fi'agment of a bi'oken tribe, they would not 
have been compelled to marry within their own bounds, 
because they could have stolen women from other tribes — 
in other words, that they could have supplied their needs 
by what Mi'. M'Lennan calls marriage by capture. 

But, in the first place, Mr. Howitt has showai that the 
Ktirnai were not easily accessible to other tribes, and, con- 
sequently, other tribes were not easily accessible to them ; 


whence it is impossible that they could have stolen a 
sufficient number of women. 

In the second place, they did what they could in that 
line. They stole women from their enemies whenever they 
had the opportunity. 

And, in the third place, marriage by capture, however 
successful, could not have met their case. Even if they had 
been able to help themselves to Brajerak women whenever 
they pleased, this could not have prevented the forbidden 
marriages, unless they had stolen husbands for their 
daughters as well as wives for their sons. Those young ladies 
would most certainly never have consented to devote them- 
selves to a single life for no better reason than that an old law 
stood in their way. Mr. Howitt has told us how ready they 
wei'e to brave spear-thrusts and club-strokes rather than 
remain unmarried, and how vigorously they battered the 
tardy swains of their tribe into a proper matrimonial spirit. 

The Kiirnai stole women, not from their enemies only, 
but from one another also — Tatungolung from Briakolung, 
and so forth. In this, too, they followed ancient custom — 
the custom which still prevails among the tribes which 
have the Kamilaroi organization. Among these tribes, 
however, the capture of women is not a mere act of 
robbery. It is only a violent assertion of the communal 
right extending over all the tribes so organized. The 
captors have a right to the women whom they abduct ; and 
if any one of them be so unlucky as to drag away a damsel 
of a class over which he has not that right, he dares not 
take her to himself.* Hence we see that marriage by 
capture falls in with the regulations of tribes which are 
divided into exogamous gentes and held together by a 
common oro^anization. The feigned wrath of the bride's 

* See the instances given by Mr. Howitt, which prove that this 
prohibition was in force among the Kiirnai also. 


relatives, which is customary in many tribes at the present 
day, and which has been brouf^lit forward as evidence of 
the former prevalence of that kind of marriage, may well 
(in some cases, at least) be a survival of a usage like that 
of the Ktirnai. ISIot a few such cases point to marriage by 
elopement even more clearly than to marriage by capture. 
There is strong evidence that communal marriage 

Former ° . 

prevalence formerly prevailed among the Kfirnai ancestors. The prac- 
munism. tice set forth in Mr. Howitt's Latin note is not otherwise to be 
explained. It is a valuable piece of evidence in support of 
what Sir John Lubbock calls expiation for marriage, and it 
affords precisely those conditions which Mr. M'Lennan justly 
requires as necessary to make such evidence of value : — 

" The privileged persons should be of the bridegroom's group only, 
and the cases should be callable of no simpler explanation." 
("Studies," &c., p. 436.) 

Note also the remarkable significance of the fact recorded 

by Mr. Howitt, that, when a woman elopes from her 

husband, she becomes for the time being the common 

property of her pursuers if they can catch her. By her 

own act she has severed the tie which, binding her to her 

husband, guarded her against the old communal right, and 

forthwith that right asserts itself. 

The Kami- Although the Kurnai system appears, at fir,^,t sight, to be 

temcouTd directly at variance with the Kamilaroi, the connection 

been^''^^*^ between the two systems has been shown to be so close as 

f JomThe ^^ ^^^^ irresistibly to the inference that one of them was 

Kuruai. developed from the other. According to my hypothesis, 

the Kurnai system was developed from the Kamilaroi 

under exceptional circumstances. Can we entertain the 

supposition that this order should be reversed, the Kamilaroi 

system having been developed from the Kurnai ? I think 

not, and that for the following reasons : — 


1. From the Kurnai to the Kamilaroi would be a retro- 
gressive movement, and would therefore require strong 
prima facie evidence to entitle the theory to consideration. 
As far as I am aware, there is no such evidence. 

2. It would involve a change in the line of descent from 
the male line to the female, which is a reversal of the 
known order. 

3. It would involve the development of communal mar- 
riage from the pairing family, which is a reversal of the 
natural order. 

4. It fails to explain the Kurnai marriage by elopement, 
followed by severe punishment. 

5. The Kurnai system bears evident traces of former 
descent through the mother, and of other Kamilaroi charac- 
teristics which are the direct result of the Kamilaroi 

6. The Kamilaroi system has been shown to be the 
logical outcome of the division of a tribe into two 
exogamous intermarrying phratrise, and its development 
has been traced step by step. 

7. The Kurnai system cannot account for the Kamilaroi, 
whereas the Kamilaroi system satisfactorily accounts for 
the Kurnai. 

If my theory of the Kurnai system of marriage and The impor- 
descent be the true one, the importance of Mr. Howitt's of Mr. 
monograph can scarcely be exaggerated. It is a faithful mouo- 
portraiture of a savage tribe, drawn, not by a passing °^^^^ 
traveller, but by an experienced observer who has an 
intimate acquaintance with the people he describes, and has 
thoroughly gained their confidence. Were it no more than 
this, it would be of considerable value. But, in addition 
to this, it is perhaps the most striking illustration on 
record of the tenacity with which ancient custom keeps its 
hold upon the savage mind, even under circumstances 


which make obedience to the old law an utter impossibility. 
It shows how exclusive marital rights could be established 
in the midst of surrounding comnmnism without a parallel 
advance in other respects. It exhibits the germinal idea of 
the personal acquisition of property, and its transmission 
by inheritance to individuals in a tribe apparently 
saturated with communal ideas. It shows us such a tribe, 
the communal bond being suddenly broken, dragged 
rapidly by the irresistible force of circumstances along the 
very path by which others have slowly advanced, and 
struggling vainly to conform itself to the old law from 
which these others struggled successfully to free themselves. 
It affords what seems to be a novel form of marriage ; and, 
above all, it shows the line of descent in process of change 
from the female to the male, together with the cause and 
the manner of that change. Many tribes bear manifest 
tokens of having made the change, but they do not tell us 
how they made it.* 

But though the Ktirnai was in the direct line of jDrogress, 
he seems to me to have got thei'c by accident, against his 
will and before his time. He did not groiu out of the old 
groove — he was throivn out of it ; and he appears to have 

* In one or two instances we may note the change in course of progress. 
Thus, Campbell tells lis that, among the Limbii, a tribe of North-eastern 
India, the father buys his sons into his own gens by payment to their 
mother. (Campbell's Statement, quoted by Lubbock, "Origin," &c., 
p. 123.) 

In Mota, one of the Banks group, where descent is through the mother, 
the Pv.ev. 11. H. Codrington informs me that the heirs to the real estate are 
the sister's children, but the agnates redeem the inheritance by payment 
out of the personal projaerty. A landowner, when dying, gives directions 
as to the amount to be paid for the redemption of the land from his sister's 
children. When a tribe reaches this point, it is not far from descent through 
the father. Instances have occurred, not long ago, of rebellion against the 
old custom at Mota. The sou insisted on inheriting from his father, and 
shot the heirs in defence of his claim. Landed property and settled abodes 
are sure to be fatal, sooner or later, to uterine succession. (See "Trans- 
actions of the Rojal Society of Victoria, 187!).") 


been utterly unable to free himself from its traditions, 
though he was forced into acts which were directly 
antagonistic to them. Nevertheless, if he had not been 
brought to an untimely end by the invasion of the white 
man, it seems not improbable that he would have fitted 
himself to his altered surroundings. For instance, the 
practice of marriage by elopement, followed by cruel 
punishment, would, doubtless, have been abandoned. 
Already, as Mr. Howitt tells us, there were rare instances 
of marriage with consent of the girl's father ; and if time 
had been allowed for this to become the rule, instead of the 
exception, the system of pairing marriage with consent of 
the woman and her friends, exclusive marital rights, and 
descent in the male line would probably have been fully 
established among the Kurnai. 

The fact, however, remains that — granting my theory — 
the original impulse of their advance was what may be 
called an accident. But it was an accident which must 
have been of not unfrequent occurrence elsewhere. Many 
a tribe, oro-anized like the forefathers of the Kurnai, must 
have been broken up in the old, wild, stormy times, either 
by blood feuds at home or by invasion from abroad ; and, 
in some cases, the scattered fragments must have been 
forced away from the old regulations. And if one of these 
scattered groups, falling into favourable circumstances, 
grew into a conquering lace, it must have had a powerful 
influence in breaking down old customs and introducing 
new ones. 

Say, for instance, that the Kurnai had been permitted to 
develop undisturbed in their Gippsland fastnesses. Mr. 
Howitt has shown that their country was exceptionally 
favourable to the growth of population. It abounded in 
nourishing food, and was exempt from the terrible droughts 
which periodically devastate other parts of the continent. 


If, under these circumstances, the Kurnai had grown into a 
tribe strong enough to overrun the surrounding country, 
they might have imposed their s^^stem on the vanquished 
tribes, making communal marriage give way to the pairing 
family, changing the line of descent from the female line to 
the male, and introducing the new idea of the personal 
acquisition of property, with inheritance by the individual 
to the exclusion of the group, which seems to have been 
the most powerful agent in the breaking up of the old 

We cannot put aside these cases as not worth counting 
among the agents of human progress on the ground that 
they are " exceptional." They are so only in the sense that 
they are not the result of ordeidy development ; but they 
must have been of frequent occurrence, and they could not 
have been without effect. Our own experience, and the 
records of history, have so accustomed us to orderly growth 
that we are apt to look upon it as the only process worth 
recording, and to lose sight of the fact that it is order, and 
not disorder, which must have been exceptional in the old 
times when " the earth was filled with violence." Our 
experience is only of society as it has presented itself to us, 
and history begins for us with great nations fully organized, 
and with orderly processes " shaping their ends." But the 
study of savage life takes us l)ack to the days before the 
tribes had consolidated into nations. In those days the 
" ends " of society had to be " rough-hewn ; " and broken 
tribes, flung out of old grooves, and forced into breaches of 
old law, may have done much of this preliminar}^ work. 
And so, here as elsewhere, that which seemed to be disorder 
falls into its place among the marshalled forces which have 
been working together in the accomplishment of one Great 







From the facts stated in the preceding pages, it is, I think, The pie- 
clear that the Ktirnai, when Gippsland was first discovered, tion of the 
were in that social condition which is defined by indi- that of ^* 
vidual marriage in its form of the pairing family.* The J^Jarria "e! 
restriction which is the essence of individual marriage applied, 
however, only to the woman. The man recognized no restric- 
tion, excepting that which prohibited his intermarriage, or 
cohabitation even, with a woman of certain forbidden 
decrees or classes. The forbidden decjrees included, amono- 
others, all those of the contemporaneous generation whom 
we should regard as brothers, sisters, or cousins.-|- The 
forbidden classes had not that precision which is given by 
the class names or totems of other Australian tribes, but 
they were sufficiently defined by the limits of those social 
aggregates which I have termed " divisions ;" and these 
" divisions," being local, indicate common descent. Many 
customs co-existing with the pairing family of the Ktirnai 
appear at first sight to be unmeaning or inexplicable. The 
curious temporary license attending marriage by elopement, 
the penalty inflicted upon the unfaithful wife, the right of 
the widower to his deceased wife's unmarried sister, the 
occasionally-admitted claim by the husband to the un- 
married sister of his wife, and the rio-ht of the survivino; 

* Pairing Family, see p. 236. 

+ Including even fathei-'s sister's children and mother's brother's children, 
Ego being male or female. 


brother to his deceased brother's widow — all seems at first 
sight incompatible with individual marriage, in which the 
woman's faithfulness is ensured under severe penalties. 
The kiu- Thesc Seeming inconsistencies disappear, however, upon a 
iiave been carcf ul Consideration of the terms used by the Kurnai to 
andVot^ define the inter-sexual relations. I have already pointed 
mvente . ^^^ what, as it secms to me, that meaning is, and I need 
only now briefly state that it raises a strong presumption 
that at some former period the terms were accurately fitted 
to a social state in which there was group marriage 
regulated by class laws. From this point of view the various 
terms and their reciprocals are seen to follow logically, or, 
where they apparently do not do so, the discrepancy is 
capable of explanation. On the assumption that these 
terms have been invented, as suggested by Mr. M'Lennan, 
as " a code of courtesies and ceremonial addresses," we might 
certainly expect some logical sequence, but scarcely that 
there should be exceptions which are only explicable upon 
the assumption that they have been gradually developed, 
but not deliberately invented. This is of itself a strong 
ground for regarding them as having been developed gradu- 
ally, as language is, to meet the wants and requirements of 
the time. 

To my mind, Mr. M'Lennan has taken up an untenable 
position in respect to those terms which he calls a system 
of " ceremonial addresses," and which Dr. Morgan has named 
the classificatory system of kinships. 

He admits that the terms " in the Malayan form illustrate 
a very early social condition of man;" " that the phenomena 
presented in all the forms of the classificatory system are 
ultimately referable to the marriage law, and, accordingly, 
its origin must be so also." He also says that " the system 
of blood ties and the system of addresses would begin to 
grow up together, and for some little time have a common 


liistory."* The distinction between the two systems 
appears, therefore, according to Mr, M'Lennan, to arise only 
after " some little time," and this undefined period he 
afterwards fixes as being when polyandry of the Nair type 
was instituted. -f The evidence in this work shows that his 
hypothesis that polyandry was the first form of the family 
is utterly untenable, at any rate as concerns the Australians. 
But even without this, the statements I have quoted convey 
serious doubts as to the soundness of his conclusions. 

It follows from the above quotations that, admitting this 
hypothesis of a system of " ceremonial addresses," his other 
system of " blood ties " must either be yet extant, or have 
died out. 

That a " system of blood ties " — that is, terms of kinships 
— should have totally died out while conditions requiring 
such definitions existed, is to me as utterly inconceivable as 
that no system of kinships should have ever arisen. That 
a system of " blood ties," having a common origin, and for 
some little time a common course, with that which Mr. 
M'Lennan is pleased to call a " system of ceremonial 
addresses," yet exists, must be left to him, or to those who 
hold his views, to prove. All I feel iiiyself called upon to 
show is, that no such system exists among the Australian 
savages, excepting that classificatory system whose origin 
and development have been demonstrated in this work. 

I cannot but think that if Mr. M'Lennan had had as 
much personal acquaintance with savages as we have with 
those of Australasia, he would have seen, as clearly as we 
see, that the classificatory system is to them as truly a 
system of " blood ties " — that is, of kinships — as our own 
descriptive system is to us. 

After twenty years of observation of the Australian 

*" Studies in Ancient History," &c. , p. 372, et Infra, 
i op. cit., pp. 373-379. 


savages, I have no hesitation in saying that neither they 
nor their progenitors, to judge of them by their descendants, 
are or were capable of inventing so complete and logical a 
system of terms. 

At any rate, that hypothesis must be provisionally 
accepted which best explains the observed facts. The 
hypothesis which suggests to us that the terms of kinship 
and relationship used by the Kurnai are survivals from a 
time when they accurately defined the then existing 
conditions, is also able to explain to us why they should 
still very often express those feelings which would naturally 
arise under such a state, and which have partially survived 
till now. On the other hand, the hypothesis wdiich regards 
those terms of kinship and relationship as mere "ceremonial 
addresses " fails to explain why it is that we find the feel- 
ings of parental and filial affection spreading widely beyond 
those bounds which are indicated by the pairing family and 
individual marriage. Of these two hypotheses, it is the 
former only which is in harmony with that which we know 
of the social and domestic condition of the Australian 
The class It is universally the case, so far as my experience goes, 
of the that class divisions exist in the Australian tribes.* The 
origin of these class divisions w^as probably connected with 
the segmentation of an undivided commune. They differ 
to some degree locally in the extent to which the subdivision 
of classes has been carried out. In those tribes having 
group marriage the classes have both male and female 
members. In the Kurnai tribe, having individual marriage, 
one class is wholly male and the other wholly female. The 
former class is Yeerung and the latter is Djeetgun. We 

* Since writing this, I learn from the Rev. C. W. Kramer, that the 
Wimmera tribe in Western Victoria had no class divisions. This is the 
only exception I know of to the general rule. 


may infer that the KQ.rnai ancestors, by whom Gippsland 
was first occupied, formed such a group as that I liave 
mentioned bound together by communal intermarriage of 
exogamous classes.* The classes being exogamous, Yeerting 

* In adopting Mr. M'Lennan's convenient terms Endogamy and Exogamy, 
it is necessary to define clearly the sense in which I use them. I may do 
this by saying that the Kurnai tribe is endogamous as to the tribe (plus 
marriage by capture as regards alien tribes), and exogamous as to all those 
social aggregates which I have named "divisions." I take this oppor- 
tunity of making a few remarks on the sense in which Mr. M'Lennan uses 
his own terms. In "Studies in Ancient History," &c. , p. 37, he defines 
"endogamous families or tribes as being those whose members are for. 
bidden to intermarry with members of other families or tribes." Exogamous 
tribes he defines as being "organized on . . . the principle that pro- 
hibited marriage within the tribe, and which * were then dependent 
upon other tribes for their wives." He says that it is " obvious that inter- 
tribal marriages could only be peaceably arranged between tribes whose 
relations were friendly. But peace and friendliness were unknown between 
separate groups or tribes in early times, excejit when they were forced to 
unite against common enemies. The sections of the same family, when it 
fell into sections, became enemies by the mere fact of separation ; and while 
this state of enmity lasted, exogamous tribes never could get wives except 
by theft or force " (p. 42). There is some looseness here in the use of the 
terms " tribe" and " family ;" and the expression " tribes in early times " 
is clearly convertible with that of "existing savage tribes." Some light 
may be obtained as to the probability of Mr. M'Lennan's statements by 
taking the Kurnai as an example. Any other Australian tribe with which I 
am acquainted — excepting, perhaps, the Gournditch-mara, Mhich appears, 
according to the Rev. J. H. Stable, not to have been an exogamous tribe (see 
Appendix F, p. 274) — might serve equally well as an illustration. Mi*. 
M'Lennan's statements apply, almost word for word, to the Kurnai, 
merely substituting the word "clan" for "tribe." The clans, which are 
sections of the same ' ' family " — to use the author's synonym for tribe — 
were, as I have shown in this work, habitually more or less at war with 
each other ; and while that state of enmity lasted between any two, they 
might perhaps only have obtained wives from each other by capture. But, 
as regards each such clan, the table I have given at p. 227 shows that the 
other Kurnai clans who remained friendly would still be open to it. Even 
when the whole community was divided into two hostile moieties — as, for 
instance, by a great blood feud such as that arising out of the death of 
Kaiung (p. 218) — the state of war was interrupted by times of peace, in 
which the exogamous practice would revive in the ordinary form of 
maiTiage by elopement. However that may have been, this is certain — 
that the Ktlrnai, as repeatedly insisted upon to me by themselves, did not, 

* "The tribes." 



and Djcctgtin would then represent, perhaps, one totem of 
each class. The original class names are seemingly lost to 
the Kiirnai, and we cannot do more than conjecture that 
they may have been "Eaglehawk," and, perhaps, "Crow." 

In its various local dialectic forms, such as " Muquarra" 
or " Merung," " Eaglehaw^k" is found as one of the two 
primary class names throughout much of the watershed of 
the Murray and the Darling rivers. The second name is 
usually " Crow" — for instance, " Kilpara" at the Darling 
River, and " Yukembruk" at the Upper Murray River and 
at Maneroo. In South Australia I find, however, that 
" Eaglehawk" is associated, not ^vith "Crow," but "with 
'Seal" (the Turra tribe, York's Peninsula, according to the 
Rev. W. J. Kilhn), The Brajerak and Bidwelli, near 
neighbours of the Kiirnai, have both " Eaglehawk" and 
" Crow." Among the Kiirnai, the Eaglehawk (" Gwannu- 

oxceptiny on rare occasions, capture women of alien tribes (lirajcrak) ; and 
it is equally certain that tliey did not obtain wives from them by exchange, 
gift, or elopement. It is, therefore, self-evident that the Kiirnai were 
exogamons, that their clans were in a state of enmity amongst themselves, 
and that they did not obtain wives from other (alien) tribes unless in rare 
cases. Yet this trilje did not die out, as it ought to have done under such 
circumstances according to the conditions laid down by Mr. M'Lennau's 
theory, but married and perpetuated itself until our times. It is, there- 
fore, clear that the Kiirnai tribe was composed of sections of the same 
"family," and that those sections were habituallj' in a state of hostility 
with each other. Further, that, in spite of this, they did obtain wives from 
each other, and not from the section of any other "family" (tribe) ; and that 
these wives were, unless in exceptional cases, obtained in the ordinary 
course by elopement, which was the recognized form of marriage. Here 
we have those conditions which Mr. INI'Lennan declares are incompatible 
with each other. 

This being the case, then, the grounds upon which he has based his 
theory of marriage by cajiture are insecure ; and as this theory is, in fact, 
the keystone of his arch, his whole structure is in danger of collapse. 

It appears to me that the fallacy in Mr. M'Lennan's argument is due to 
the looseness with which he applies the words "horde," "tribe," and 
" family," and to his overlooking the fact that the aggregate, which he calls 
a "tribe," is not in fact a community — tot us, feres, afque ^-ottiiulus — but 
merely a segment of such a community. See also ante p. 138, where Mr. 
Fison has referred to this subject. 


miirung") is greatly reverenced. He is regarded as the 
type of the bold and sagacious hunter. His plumes and 
talons played a part in their necromancy. He figures in 
their tales in company with " El3ing," the Little Owl. It 
is possible that in " Ebing" we have the second class name, 
and were it not, perhaps, too fanciful, might see in the 
quarrels of " Gwannumurung" and " Ebing" a trace of 
the severance of the original commune into two classes, or 
of a social disruption which may have impelled the Kurnai 
ancestors into Gippsland. 

It is not easy to conjecture from what tribe the original 
Kurnai were an offshoot. I know of no tribe in which the 
birds Yeerung and Djeetgim are totems ; but it must have 
been located in some district where the Superb warbler and 
the Emu wren are found. The former is met with in some 
of its varieties over the Australian continent, but the latter 
is, so far as I know, confined to the cooler parts of the 
south-east. This suggests that the migration took place 
along the coast, either from the direction of Twofold Bay 
or from Western Port. Access from either place would be 
attended with much the same difficulties. There are but 
few facts upon which an opinion may be formed. In the 
Western Port tribes the word Bunjil was Eaglehawk ; and, 
also, as I have pointed out (p. 210), Bunjil was regarded as a 
supernatural being living at the sources of the Yarra. An 
explanation may be suggested as to the present signifi- 
cation of the word among the Kurnai. With them 
Bunjil means an elder. It does not merely imply age, for 
Boldain is " old man " — it implies age, and, I think, some 
special qualities belonging to the individual. It might, 
therefore, have been attached to the early Kurnai in its 
signification amoncr the Western Port tribes of " Eajjlehawk," 
in other words, as the class name of the male ancestors of 
the Kurnai. In this case Yeertino- would have been a totem 


of the Bunjil (Eaglehawk) class. Hence, every descendant 
under the partially-changed descent in the male line would 
be Yeeriing, and also Bunjil. We might thus understand 
how Bunjil, meaning Eaglehawk in the Western Port tribes, 
would appear as the supernatural being living in the moun- 
tains at the source of the Yarra River — the eponym, as it 
were, of their tribe.* The customs of the Port Phillip 
tribes, as recorded by Buckley, the " wild white man," have 
a remarkable resemblance to those of the Kiirnai, especially 
as regards marriage by elopement. I note, also, though 
little stress can be placed on this, that he uses the word 
" murrawiin " for throwing-stick, which is that still used 

On the other hand, the word Gwannumurung (Eaglehawk) 
of the Kurnai is clearly the " meriing " of the " Ngarrego " 
tribe of Carrawong, on the Maneroo tableland, and of the 
Wakeruk tribe (Bidwelli) east of the Snowy River. It may, 
however, be that that word has been acquired from them 
by the Kurnai, and has thus superseded the original term. 
Moreover, the Kroatun Kurnai, whose most eastern division 
(.see Table A, p. 227) intermarried with the Twofold Bay tribe, 
tell me, in their acquired English, that the latter were 
" their cousins." If they regarded them as " their cousins," 
and intermarried with them, it would be some evidence 
pointing to a former class connection. 

Starting, however, from such a settlement by a communal 
group, it would have, during its expansion within the 
natural boundaries of Gippsland, a homogeneous social 
development free from external influences. The simplicity 
of system embodied in the Kurnai terms of kinship is 
archaic, and strongly contrasted with their actual and 

* In the Muk-jarawaint tribe of Western Victoria, Bilnjil seems to have 
been similarly regarded as a su2)ernatural being. The eaglehawk was one 
of their totems, but it was called Wilrpl. 


advanced condition of family. It seems to me most 
probable that when the Yeerung and Djeetgun group first 
occupied Gippsland they were in an early form of communal 
marriage, and that the passage of their descendants from 
that to individual marriage and the pairing family has 
been, comparatively, very rapid. Their domestic and social 
organization is, in fact, strongly leavened by the funda- 
mental idea of a pair, with partial descent through the 
male, while their language bears testimony to the former 
existence of group marriage and descent through the female. 

As might be expected of a community in this condition, 
authority is in the husband and father, and thence, by a 
natural extension, it passes in the aggregate of families to 
the elders of the division.* The wide extension of the 
group over Gippsland has caused it to break up into clans 
which, although recognizing common descent, differ more or 
less from each other in language ; and those which are most 
distant differ most. Looking at all the evidence, I think it 
may be assumed, with confidence, that the domestic and 
social condition of the Kiirnai has undergone a slow process 
of development from earlier conditions less advanced than 
those now existing. That it has been a slow process, if we 
reckon by years, we may justly infer on considering that, 
owing to extreme isolation, the changes would be induced 
by internal rather than external influences. The progi^essive 
change in the family has evidently been slowly followed by 
an adaptive change in the language, and in this we may 
perceive another instance of the tenacity of hold which 
custom has upon savages. 

It has been shown, in the earlier part of this 

* Mr. Fison has suggested to me a just doubt ■whether this authority of 
the individual husband and father is a natural development of patria potenta.'i^ 
or whether it is not rather a survival of the older form of authority when 
the elders were the rulers of the communal group. 


The pre- work, that the theoretical domestic condition of tribes, 

sent social 

condition such as thosc which have the Kamila,roi organization, 
traiian is that of group marriage in its typical form of two 
between exogamoiis communes, each having sub-classes, totems, and 
and itidivi- the classificatorvsystcm of relationships developed therefrom. 
riage!""' But the actual family condition of these tribes varies with 
each community, and it does so according to the slightly 
different conditions under which each particular society has 
been developed. I am not aware that any tribes having 
the typical communal structure still exist in Australia at 
the present time. It is, however, premature to say positively 
that they do not until full information has been collected as 
to all the aboriginal communities. Yet some tribal organi- 
zations approach near to it. The following instances are, I 
think, typical. 

In many other tribes than that mentioned by Mr. T. E. 
Lance (p. 31) the women are, more or less, monopolized by 
the elder men. Yet, on certain occasions, the communal 
rights revive in favour of the younger men, and are also 
extended to friendly strangers visiting the tribe {e.g., Dieri 
and Yantruwiinta of Cooper's Creek, and the Turra of 
York's Peninsula). These rights arise out of, and are 
exercised under, the class rules. Elsewhere a man of any 
one class may claim marital rights over a woman of the 
corresponding class wherever he may meet her, although he 
never saw her before, and his right will not be questioned 
(Kamilaroi — Mr. Cyrus E. Doyle, Kunopia, N.S.W. ; see also 
p. 53). In other tribes women are betrothed when merely 
infants, but in accordance with stringent class rules 
(Geawegal tribe, see Appendix G). In tribes of this organi- 
zation women are not generally " lent." Yet in others, it 
may be said that " Brothers have their wives in common " 
(Waimbio tribe, Lower Murray — Appendix I), and the 
Levirate generally exists (Ktirnai tribe, &c.) 


Again in other tribes, and, so far as I know, especially in 
south-eastern Australia, individual marriage has become 
established ; an extreme case being that of the Kurnai, 
amongst whom selection rested with the woman, who 
became a wife by elopement with her future husband, but 
still under well understood, although modified, class laws.* 

In all this there is a gradually progressive series, 
commencing at a society nearly approaching to the divided 
exogamous commune, and extending upwards to a society 
based upon individual marriage. Taking two extreme 
instances — namely, the Queensland tribe, having the 
Kamilaroi organization, and the Kiirnai — it is plain that the 
social condition, as shown by actual customs, is always in 
advance of the theoretical social condition to be inferred 
from class rules and the kinship terms. 

The tendency of the class and totemic divisions has been 
to restrict the exercise of marital rights, and thus to prepare 
for the establishment of individual marriao-e. 

Mr. Fison has clearly demonstrated that the totems, The primi- 
sub-classes, and class divisions of the Australian tribes condition 
point to the former segmentation of an undivided tiaUau 
commune. Starting from the segmentation of an original thit of ^the 
commune, produced by influences such as those alleged '^°™™"°®' 
by the Dieri legend, all the subsequent steps are such 
as might readily follow under the laws of social develop- 
ment. The rules regulating marriage are directly in 
accord with such a segmentation, and it is out of the action 
of such rules that the classificatory system of kinship has 
arisen. If any system of kinship did arise under such 

* The Gournditch-mara tribe (Appendix F) was, according to Mr. 
Stiihle, an exception to the general rule, as there was no restriction upon 
marriage within its four classes, other than that based upon forbidden 
degrees of relationship. According to Mr. J. Gibson, the Chepara tribe 
of Southern Queensland was similarly constituted. 


rules — and the contrary is inconceivable to me — it would 
be just such a one as the classificatory that the circum- 
stances would have developed. No people have ever set 
themselves to deliberately invent a complete system of 
designations for kinships and relationships. The process 
has been one of adaptation of language to wants as they 
arose. Even the elaborate extension and amplification of 
terms under the Roman law is a direct case in point. They 
wei'e invented by the civilians to meet an imperative want, 
and do no more than complete a code of relationships which 
already existed. 

Such an undivided commune, if it existed, must logically 

be one in which cohabitation would be, to a certain extent 

at least, promiscuous. Terms implying this, as regards 

each contemporaneous generation, are found in many 

Australian tiibes. Thus, inferentially, such a commune 

might be suspected ; and there is some direct evidence in the 

Dieri legend, given by Mr. Gason, of its former existence.* 

Relation- In connection with group marriage and the exogamous 

theTi^r-'^^ class divisions, we find the recognition by individuals of one 

to the '' ^^ tribe and class, or totem, of their relationship to other 

group. individuals, members of an alien tribe, but of analogous class 

or totem. We find that this recognition is not merely of 

individual to individual, but of class to class, and group to 


The com- The communal principle is a strongly-marked element in 

principle is the structure of aboriginal society. With the Kurnai, it 

evident^in sliows itself in the division of food, in curious customs 

^'oH^inia attached to their marriage state, in their recognition of 


* In communications received while this work is going througli the 
press, concerning another tribe of Cooper's Creek, the Kunandabiiri, I find 
that the terms of relationship and some exceptional customs attending 
marriage point strongly to the above conclusions. The important evidence 
derived from a study of this tribe must, however, necessarily wait for a 
future opportunity. 


relationship to the group, and in the liability of the whole 
group for the crimes of its members. 

Evidence has been given in support of this position, and I 
may now particularly instance the case of Billy Blew 
(p. 218), and also the case of Btinbra (p. 21G) and the kin of 
Barney. These show clearly that a wrong done to the 
individual was done to the community of which he was a 
member. The extent of this principle has, I think, been 
generally overlooked and misunderstood. 

Sir John Lubbock, in his work, " The Origin of Civiliza- 
tion and the Primitive Condition of Man," 1870, quotes 
(p. 318) three instances from which he draws tliis conclusion. 
" Since, then, crimes were, at first, regarded merely as 
personal matters, in which the aggressor and the victim 
alone were interested, and w^ith which society was not 
concerned, any crime, even murder, might be atoned for by 
the payment of such a sum of money as satisfied the 
representatives of the murdered man." The premises from 
which this conclusion is drawn appear to be embodied in 
three quotations, which Sir John has previously made. The 
first, taken from the Carribbeans, is that " the individual 
redresses his injury without the public concerning itself at 
all." The second is from the North American Indians, to 
the effect that " the family of the murdered man only have 
the right of taking satisfaction." The third is a statement 
made by Grey (" Travels in North-west and Western 
Australia," vol. ii., p. 243) that, among the Australian 
aborigines, " crimes may be compounded for by the criminal 
appearing and submitting himself to the ordeal of having 
spears thrown at him by all such persons as conceived 
themselves aggrieved." This instance is on all fours with the 
case of Btinbra. The conclusion is not very clearly stated, 
but I think it contains the following propositions : — 

1. Crimes only concerned the victim and the aggressor. 


2. Society did not concern itself with them. 

3. Even murder might be condoned by payment to the 
representatives of the murdered man. 

The first and second propositions I refer to now only. 
The third is not disclosed by either of the first two instances 
quoted, and can only be doubtfully inferred from the third 
in its concluding portion, which I have omitted as unneces- 
sary to my argument. I do not dispute, however, that 
other evidence exists, even in the past history of our own 
race, in support of it ; but it is beyond the point I am now 

Sir John Lubbock does not define " society " in the above 
conclusion, but I gather that it may have a twofold 
meaning ; one implying the social aggregate of the savages 
instanced, and the other the social aggregate of primitive 
mankind. Looking at "society," as implied in the first 
definition, by the light of Bunbra's case, it becomes apparent 
that " society " and the " representatives," in other words 
" relations," are one and the same. There is no other 
" society " possible ; for I have shown in this memoir on the 
Kiirnai that their " society " includes those only who 
recognize a common descent, language, and country. 

It is, therefore, erroneous to say that in such cases 
" society " does not concern itself. The case of Biinbra 
clearly illustrates this position. Biinbra and Barney 
belonged to two " societies," which, together, formed a 
larger " society." Each " society " was a body corporate. 
One was the victim by the supposed murder of its member, 
Barney; the other the aggressor, through its member, Bunbra. 
Every member of such a body would be supposed, in the 
first place, to instantly redress his own wrong, but this 
would not, in the least, prevent all his co-members from also 
revenging it, an<l not only upon the individual aggressor, 
but also upon all and several of his co-members. Such a 


sequence of revenge I have illustrated in the case of Billy 
Blew (p. 218). It is, therefore, evident that in this case 
each " society " did concern itself with this crime affecting 
one of its members. This is brought out into strono- relief 
by considering what would have been the case if Barney 
had been done to death ; or, which is innnaterial, supposed 
to have been, by an alien. In such a case no atonement, by 
submitting to the throwing of spears or other weapons " by 
all those who conceived themselves to have been aggrieved," 
would have been possible. The blood feud would have 
been inexpiable but by blood, and would have been main- 
tained, if necessary, by the whole body corporate to which 
the victim belonged, namely, the Kiirnai tribe, against 
the whole body corporate to which the aggressor be- 
longed ; that is, the Brajerak (or alien) tribe. We 
may perceive how wide-spread such a feud might 
become from the case of Billy Blew, although here the 
white man had introduced disturbing elements. Thus, in 
the view now taken, the whole of " society " would have 
concerned itself as to the crime. Herein lies the fallacy of 
Sir John Lubbock's argument so far as it applies to the 
Australian aborigines, and probably, also, in its application 
to other savages. As his conclusion is also directed mani- 
festly to that " first state of society " which may be supposed 
to be pictured in the present condition of savages, it 
necessarily also fails to apply to it. 

Is it possible that there is in Sir John Lubbock's 
conclusions, perhaps, an unconscious survival of the belief 
in the original independent condition of each individual 
man; that is, of the "degradation theory" of man's primitive 
condition ? 

The evidence as to the corporate character of savage 
society finds its parallel in the universal evidence as to the 
corporate character of archaic society. All ancient insti- 


tutions, and all ancient history, are full of this evidence. 
Two cases may be noted so far apart, both as to time and 
place, as to fully prove the universality of the principle. 
One is the Eric fine of the Brehon laws — a pecuniary fine 
levied on tribes, or on families, for the wrongs done by their 
members (Maine's " Early Institutions," 2nd ed., p. 23). The 
other from the Hebrews, being the case of Korah, Dathan, 
and Abiram (Numbers xvi.), and that of Achan (Joshua 
vii.). The sacred records of this people contain many 
instances in point ; and it must be borne in mind that their 
earlier institutions had then been profoundly modified by 
their sojourn in the Nile valley. 

It might have been expected that this principle of com- 
munity of rights and community of liability, which is equally 
striking a feature both in archaic and savage societies, would 
have been recognized more generally than it seems to have 
been by writers on the condition of savages, and on the 
primitive state of society. Yet this does not seem to have 
been the case. A probable explanation of this may be found 
in the fact that civilized man is now an " individual." He 
is no longer a mere member of a corporate community. His 
whole life's training, his domestic and social relations, are 
strictly in accord with his individualized condition. It 
would, indeed, be strange if his mode of thought were not 
more or less, consciously or unconsciously, brought into 
relation therewith. It seems very general to writers on 
these subjects to argue from the stand-point of individual 
ideas, rights, and duties. 

It is, I think. Sir Henry S. Maine who has first clearly 
pointed out the corporate character of archaic society 
("Ancient Law," p. 125, et infra). He points out that the 
unit of ancient society was the family, of a modern society 
the individual, and that in ancient law we find all the 
consequences of this difierence. It takes a view of life 


wholly unlike any which appears in developed jurispru- 
dence. Corporations never die ; and, accordingly, primitive 
law considers the entities with which it deals — i.e., the 
patriarchal or family groups — as perpetual and inextinguish- 
able. These views, which he so justly states as to archaic 
society in the dawn of history, ai'e true also as to the earlier 
form of society which has come down to us among the 
Australian savages. But they must be modified so far in 
detail as to become applicable to the far more rudimentary 
condition of the family as it exists with them. Sir Henry 
Maine regards the past from the stand-point of archaic law, 
and, therefore, cannot be expected to obtain a view into the 
depths beyond the development of that law. He, therefore, 
regards the patriarchal family as the original unit of society. 
But the view that this form of the family is the true and 
original instance of a corporate society is, I think, only 
superficially true. Sir Henry Maine says that legal 
antiquities disclose to us men distributed in perfectly 
isolated groups, held together by obedience to the parent ; 
not a mere collection of individuals, but an aggregate of 
families. He regards the patriarchal family as " older, 
probably, than the state, the tribe, and the house (pp. cit, 
p. 134). 

Here we see that the vista does not extend backwards 
beyond the period of individual marriage, yet the patriarch 
was no more than the " individual " surrounded by his 
wives, his children, and his slaves. His condition was a 
matured form of the pairing family, in which the restriction 
applied to the woman alone ; and his corporate capacity was 
probably an inheritance from more ancient times, when 
communal society still existed. 

The view which Sir Henry S. Maine advances, that the 
original unit of society was the family, is very general. It 
occurs, plainly formulated, even in recent works, such as 


Professor Hearn's most learned and admirable " Aryan 
Household " (Melbourne, 1878). His view is this — " From 
the simple homogeneous household are evolved numerous 
distinct and related households, -which in the aggregate form 
a whole, and the whole is the gens" (p. 138). 

Looking at this view from the stand-point of our inves- 
tigations as to the class divisions of the Australian tribes, it 
seems necessary to dissent from the learned professor's 
conclusion, if it assumes the individual household as the 
unit, and as the commencement of social development. For 
that which represents the gens exists in those Australian 
tribes which have modified group marriage, and, therefore, 
not only no "household," but merely the germs of the 
individual family.* We have here again the same view as 
that stated by Sir Henry S. Maine, but in this case it is the 
monogamian family which is taken as the unit, and not the 
patriarchal. This view is, in fact, a modified form of the 
older views of the condition of primitive man as an 
independent individual. 

It is possible that, in certain periods of the history of 
mankind, a household held together by domestic religion 
may, in accordance with the known laws of evolution, have 
developed into a larger body similarly constituted, for man- 
kind loves to walk in old and accustomed paths. But, for 
this to be possible, the Family must have been in existence, 
either in its patriarchal or monogamian form. The inves- 
tigations as to the status of savages such as the Australians 
afford grounds for the belief that the individual family 
only came into existence when descent through the father 
had become a possible belief, through the breaking up of the 
communal family, with its fen)alc line of descent. The 

* Dr. Hearn, however, disclaims all attempts on his part to go beyond 
the monogamian family. "The Aryan Household," p. 153. 


boundary line separating those two social conditions marks, 
I think, one of the most momentous stages in the progressive 
development of human society.* 

According to the generally received view, the clan and 
the tribe would result from the natural expansion of the 
individual family. It seems to me that the most probable 
process of development has been by the segmentation of the 
expanding communal group into groups similarly consti- 
tuted. This process would produce those aggregates which 
have been variously named clans, septs, or thums, and these 
tribal divisions have been held together by common descent, 
and the iron bonds of internal class rules. 

Professor Hearn points out that the " clan " was an 

* Dr. Morgan seems to he of opinion (" Ancient Society," p. 345) that 
the change from female to male descent, so far as the Greek or Roman 
gentes was concerned, may have been intentional, and, perhaps, brought 
about by "some motive sufficiently general and convincing to establish the 
injustice of the exclusion in the face of their changed condition." The 
probability of this suggestion is strengthened by what we know of the 
changes made in Roman law as to the law of inheritance affecting the 
cognates, and the eflfacement thereby of the distinctions in this respect 
existing between them and the agnates. But such a motive could not arise 
until property had assumed a definite form through the change of hunting 
tribes to communities of graziers and agriculturists, with the con- 
comitant settled homes and accumulation of moveable M'ealth. Among the 
Kilrnai, as among other Australian tribes which have partially or wholly 
effected the change in the line of descent, there were no such motives, nor 
could there be ; yet we see the change partially or wholly accomplished, 
and seemingly connected with the rise of individual marriage. Neither can 
I hold, with Mr. E. B. Tylor, at any rate so far as concerns the Australians, 
in the opinion stated in his most admirable work ("Early History of Man- 
kind," third edition, p. 2S5). I observe that he there states that savages 
" have had to elect which of the two lines, male or female, they will keep 
up by the family name or sign." This is as regards descent. My objections 
are twofold : — 1. In this view the idea of descent both in the male and 
female line must have been known to these savages. 2. They must have 
deliberately elected which line they would follow. Descent in the male 
line could only be imagined on the breaking-ui^ of the communal family by 
means of individual marriage. Descent in the female line exists as a 
necessary consequence of the communal family. The inference draMTi by 
Mr. Tylor is not only not supported by our evidence as to the Australian 
aborigines, but is traversed by it. 


original institution common to all the Aryan races. That 
which was common to these races must have been derived 
from their parent stock. Similarly, the " clan " system is 
common, in more or less well marked characters, to the 
Semitic races. It must have been derived from the vSemitic 
stock. Were it possible to trace back both the Aryan and 
Semitic stocks to their common source, it is not unreason- 
able to suspect that we might find generalized in that 
community those peculiarities which we see in a specialized 
condition in them. That generalized form, for instance, of 
the monogamian and patriarchal families would certainly 
be some variety of the pairing family. The form of the 
family differed in each of the races I have instanced. In 
the Aryan races it was based upon individual marriage, 
with its restriction drawn closer by the requirements of 
domestic worship. It was necessary that an immediate and 
undoubted descendant should step into the position of the 
deceased Housefather, to render to him offerings and worship. 
In the Semitic races it was individual marriage as the 
Patriarchal family, with its restrictions apptying to the 
woman alone. The domestic worship of the proximate 
deceased Housefather is here merged into the tribal 
(common) worship of the ultimate Allfather. 

These considerations seem to me to harmonize the earliest 

historical institutions with those more rudimentary social 

states which we see still surviving amongst savages. 

The degra- Closely connected with the views which I have now 

progres- briefly considered is that as to the primitive condition of 

theories, mankind. I may say a few words on this subject, more 

especially as the conclusions to which our investigations have 

led me differ somewhat on this point from those which 

Mr. Fison holds, and which he has already stated.* 

Ante, p. 16L 


There are two views as to the primitive condition of 
man and of human society. They may be described as 
the " degradation " and " progression " theories. The 
degradation theory implies a belief that mankind consisted 
at first of individuals who were independent of each other, 
and who subsequently coalesced as a society under a chief 
or head. It also implies that society was formed in con- 
sequence of an act of volition. This belief has been 
derived from two sources. One, being Semitic, is known to 
us through the Hebrews ; the other, being Aryan, through 
the Romans and other nations. From the Hebrew source 
the theory derives the conception of man, created as an 
individual in an innocent and perfect state, afterwards 
becoming degraded ; and it received a religious sanction 
through the Hebrew law-giver. 

The Roman source itself received an accession from 
Greece. The Roman lawyers regarded " that law which 
natural reason appoints for all mankind as the law of 
nations." The Greek philosophers imagined that but for 
untoward accident the human race would have confined 
itself to simple rules of conduct, and a less tempestuous life. 
To live according to nature came to be considered the end 
for which man was created. On the subjugation of Greece, 
these two conceptions were amalgamated, and the Roman 
lawyers became enthusiastic disciples of the new school. 
Thus, at length, it became to be believed that the old Jus 
Gentium was indeed the lost law of nature which had 
governed man in his primitive state.* Through the con- 
version of the Romans to Christianity, these two lines of 
thought had a concurrent course, and, together, form the 
basis of the popular belief as to the primitive condition of 
man, and as to the origin of society. I think that this 

Sir Henry S. Maine, " Ancient Law," Gtli edition, p. 46, et infra. 



belief cannot be more generally indicated than by using 
the words of the learned commentator, Sir William 
Blacks tone : — 

" The earth and all things therein are the general property of 
mankind . . . And while the earth continued bare of inhabitants 
. all was in common among them, and everyone took from the 
common stock . . . such things as his immediate necessities 
required. These general notions . . . might perhaps still have 
answered . . . had it been possible for mankind to have remained 
in a state of primeval simplicity. , . . Necessity begat property, 
and, in order to insure that property, recourse was had to civil society, 
which brought along with it states, governments, laws, punishments, 
and the public exercise of religious duties." * 

The views advocated by Archbishop Whateley and the 
Duke of Argyll are somewhat similar, but infer, I think, a 
certain amount of primitive civilization. The statements 
which I have quoted suffice for my pui-pose, which is 
merely to indicate generally the two rival theories, and 
to point out what I conceive to be their present condition, 
and the bearing which our investigations may have upon 

It is difficult to say which of the two conceptions forming 
the present degradation theory may ultimately be seen to 
have most profoundly influenced the social future of 
mankind. That portion of the belief which we owe to the 
Semitic source was indispensable to the successful dissemina- 
tion of the Christian religion. The Aryan portion, in its 
form of the Law of Nature, became the parent of inter- 
national law, and passed from the Koman lawyers to the 
French jurists. In the 18th century, this Law of Nature 
again passed from them to the French people, through 
Rousseau and the writers of whom he is the type. Utterly 

* Blackstone's "Commentaries on the Laws of England," p. 3, Gth 
edition, 1775. Also, Stephen's " Commentaries on the Laws of England," 
p. 146, 2ud edition, 1848. 


visionary as are Rousseau's theories, unreal as his 
representations of man in a state of nature are to us, his 
voice then spoke a language which thrilled society in its 
deepest chords. It seemed as if- at length man's inmost 
yearnings after some higher and more perfect life had been 
answered by the sublimest words of truth. It was 
Rousseau's deep sympathy with the woe and anguish of 
down-trodden humanity that gave life and apparent reason 
to the visionary fallacies of his writings. The twofold 
conception of man in a state of nature and man degraded 
from a primeval condition of innocence, became in its new 
form and its fantastic dress a potent agent in bringing 
about the first French Revolution. In the conception of 
the primitive independent freedom and equality of man- 
kind. Communism has its roots, and from these roots the 
future may see spring forth a growth that will perhaps cast 
a baleful shadow over the whole earth. 

The progression tlieor}'-, on the contrary, is of modern 
origin, and has arisen through the scientific investigation 
and comparison of the social condition and customs of 
savage and barbarous races, of the survivals of archaic 
customs still met with among civilized peoples, and of the 
most ancient written records left to us from the past. The 
evidence drawn from these sources is of the utmost weight, 
coming to us without previous intention as to its ultimate 
use, and its concurrent testimony is very strong. Such 
investigations disclose a remarkable conformity between 
the customs of existing savages and the customs of the 
ancestors of barbarous and of civilized peoples ; also 
between the structure of savage and of archaic society. 
Such investigations raise more than a mere presumption 
that the social advance of mankind has been along similar 
lines of progress, or, rather, that the directions in which 
mankind may be supposed to have advanced socially are 


not merely parallel and independent, but are convergent 
and connected, when regarded in the direction of the past. 

The development of society, as indicated by a study of 
the Australian class divisions, and the classificatory system 
of relationships connected therewith, seems to have been, as 
it were, by segmentation — that is, by the division of an 
original commune into two intermarrying communes. It is 
here, therefore, that we must expect to recognize the origin 
of marriage, in its form of group marriage, between the two 
exogamous segments of the commune. Subsequently, as is 
indicated for instance by the Kurnai system, arose indi- 
vidual marriage, bringing with it descent through the 
father, and the first indications of the disintegrations of the 
ancient communal society into individuals. These views 
imply that mankind in its earliest conceivable social con- 
dition consisted of independent communal gi'oups, whose 
bond was common descent. The degradation theory, on the 
contrary, implies that mankind consisted of independent 

The fundamental difference between the two rival 

theories, therefore, is, that in the older one the unit is 

an individual man, while, in the newer, the unit is a body 

corporate, formed by an undivided group of common 

descent. The social process indicated by the progression 

theory is strictly in accordance with the ordinary course of 

development ; that is, it proceeded from the general to the 

special, and from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous. 

The We have shown that in Australia group marriage is, in 

family has fact, bascd upon inherited marital rights, which one part of 

loped out^of the contemporaneous generation has over the other part. 

group*^ But these rights have become more or less modified in 

marriage, yayjous tribes, in so far that, subject to the class rules, the 

woman is given or exchanged. Perhaps the most frequent 

modification of group marriage is that in which the woman 


is specially possessed by one man, with the co-existence of 
potential possession by all other men of the same class. 
Individual marriao-e is then but a further restriction of the 
communal rights, and out of individual marriage arises the 

As the family — that is, the domestic group surrounding 
the individual, who is husband and father — is clearly 
established among such of the Australian tribes of whom 
the Kurnai community is a type, it becomes of interest to 
attempt to trace its germs in the more primitive tribal 
organizations. The rudiments of the family are discernible 
in those tribes where the women are more or less mono- 
polized by the elder men, and more especially where, as in 
Western Australia, descent through the mother (which is 
characteristic of group marriage) is partially changed by 
the inheritance of the hunting grounds by the sons, who 
are yet of their mothers' class names. In comparing the 
structure of a number of tribes, I find that in those which 
are organized most nearly upon the old lines, the indications 
of individual marriage disappear, in looking backwards, in 
communal marriage. 

The tribes which are discussed in this work may be placed 
in a series, in accordance with the peculiarities of their 
several social organizations. This series would commence 
with tribes such as the Dieri and the Kamilaroi, which have 
modified group marriage, the exogamous class divisions, 
descent in the female line, and the right to the female 
captive, controlled by the exogamous rule of marriage. It 
would proceed through such tribes as the Turra, having the 
exogamous class divisions, but with descent throucjh the 
father ; a usual state of individual marriage, but with 
occasional complete revival of the old communal rights of 
the intermarrying classes ; and the exogamous rule still 
affecting the female captive. The series would terminate 


with such tribes as the Ktirnai, in which the class divisions 
survived only in a modified form ; in which individual 
marriage was established, and the characteristics of group 
marriage are only discernible, more or less indistinctly, in 
surviving customs ; but in which the female captive is still 
controlled by the modified class rules. That there are other 
tribes having a social organization higher than that of the 
Ktirnai seems to me probable, not only from Mr. Stiihle's 
positive statements, but also from those of other corres- 
pondents, such as Mr. J. Gibson, of Southern Queensland.* 

Such a series of social organizations not only indicates the 
general character of the remainder of the evidence yet 
awaiting examination, but also is more than significant of 
the course which the social development of the Australian 
aborigines has followed. It must be remembered that in 
this continental area the savage tribes have been free from 
disturbing influences from without. 

The monopoly of women by the older men is not probably 
the only cause tending to produce individual marriage. 
Mr. Fison has, in the case of the Ktirnai, suggested a reason- 
able explanation as to its origin among them. There may 
have been, and there were probably, other causes not now 
apparent. Besides these causes, there are also the means by 
which individual marriage has been effected, such as gift, 
exchange, capture, and elopement. 
Lubbock's It may be well to consider from the point of view now 
marriage reached how far our evidence will, or will not, agree with 
ycap uie. ^^^^ theories which have been formulated by Sir John 
Lubbock and Mr. M'Lennan, two writers whose works are 
regarded as being of great authority on the subject of 
savage and primitive society and of primitive marriage. 
Sir John Lubbock's views, as I gather them from his 

* The (Juurmlitch-mara tribe, Appendix F ; the Turra tribe, Appendix H. 


work, " The Origin of Civilization and Primitive Condition 
of Man,"* are as follows. He starts by assuming the 
former existence of communal marriage. On this, he 
thinks, followed marriage by capture, which led to female 
infanticide. He says, also, that he believes communal and 
individual marriage might exist side by side, as warriors 
would appropriate female captives, thus disregarding com- 
munal rights ; and that " capture, and capture alone, could 
originally give a man the right to monopolize a woman to 
the exclusion of his fellow clansmen." I propose now to 
consider whether the facts before us justify the belief that 
in Australia individual marriage arose, in the first instance, 
out of communal marriage, by the monopoly of female 
captives in disregard of the common tribal right, and that 
it could have arisen in no other way, which is what Sir 
John Lubbock's statements amount to. 

That marriage is brought about throughout Australia by 
capture is quite certain. A few examples will illustrate 
the conditions under which this practice exists. Among 
the Ktirnai, marriages were brought about most frequently 
by elopement, less frequently by capture, and least 
frequently by exchange or by gift. Marriage by capture 
was as follows : — 

1. Women were stolen from kindred divisions or kindred 
clans, as by the Tatungolung from the Braiakolung. That 
is, they made raids upon those communities with which 
they intermarried. 

2. Women were captured in wars between the clans, as 
in the case of the battle of Bushy Park, at which the Brt 
Britta woman became a captive to men who were held by 
the elders to be too near to her, and she was therefore 
oiven to Biindawal, whose division and hers intermarried. 

* 3rd edition, 1S75, p. 95, et infra, ^ 


3. Women were captured from alien tribes, as in the case 
of the Omeo Brajerak, who were killed at the Top Plain 
by the Kurnai (p. 222) ; and in the case of the night attack 
by Bruthen Miinji (p. 214) on the Brajerak, at the Upper 
Tambo River. 

In these cases the wives of the slain Brajerak were taken. 
The Kurnai and the Brajerak were not intermarrying 
tribes, unless by capture, and in this case each man took 
the woman whose husband he had been the first to spear. 
It must be remembered that the Kurnai had no classes to 
which those of the Omeo Brajerak were analogous. Had 
it been so, it is quite certain that, supposing the woman and 
her captor had been of two analogous classes, she would 
have been forbidden to him by public opinion, based upon the 
ancestral class laws as enunciated by the elders of both sexes. 

The conclusion to be drawn from these instances is that, 
among the Kurnai, marriage by capture came under those 
same rules which regulated marriage by elopement, 
exchange, or gift. 

Our correspondents in various parts of Australia have 
sent statements to us entirely supporting the assertion that 
female war captives are dealt with under the class rules. I 
need not quote those again which have been already given, 
but refer the reader to them in the earlier part of this 
work (p. 65). In addition to these I may now note some 
further statements lately received. 

Among the Kamilaroi (Gwydir River, N.S.W.) " it was 
customary that a female prisoner became the wife of the 
man who captured her, and, if he did not care about her, he 
would hand her over to some of his friends. But this 
proviso must be made, that the men of the tribe would not 
permit one of their number, say a Hippi, to keep a woman 
as a wife if she were of a forbidden class. Should a man 
persist in keeping a woman who is denied to him by their 


laws, the penalty is that he should be driven out from the 
society of his friends, and quite ignored. If that does not 
cure his fondness for the woman, his male relatives follow 
him and kill him, as a disgrace to their tribe, and the female 
relatives of the woman kill her for the same reason." 
—(Mr. Cyrus E. Doyle, Kunopia, N.S.W.) 

I learn by inquiry from a man of the Muk-jarawaint, 
which was apparently a clan of a large tribe occupying, at 
least, the country from the Wimmera to the Avoca River, 
and from the Grampians to the Mallee Scrub, north of 
Lakes Hindmarsh and Tyrrell, that the female war captive 
was at first common to the men present at her capture, 
and then only became the property of her captor if she 
were of a class from which he might take a wife. In some 
cases the head man of the party took her. 

The tribe of aborigines at Eucla, W.A. (Great Australian 
Bight), is divided into four classes — Budera, Budu, Kura, 
and Wenimg. " If a female is made captive, she is common 
first to all the Booderah, and then to all the Coorah ; that is, 
if taken captive by a Booderah or Coorah. If by a Wenung 
or Boodoo, either can then claim her as a slave- wife, if they 
are without a wife ; if not, she is used as before-mentioned, 
and allowed to go home. She has always the choice of 
remaining as a slave-wife, instead of returning to her 
friends, and she generally prefers remaining, as she is afraid 
of being killed by Kokittah menang (wild men). None but 
a Boodoo or a Wenung may marry her, and he only with 
a majority of votes from the ' doctors ' and old Booderahs. 
The ' doctors ' must also guarantee that no evil will 
happen to the tribe, as they are such firm believers in 
Mobung (magic)."— (Mr. D. E. Roe, Eucla, W.A.) 

In the Wonghi tribe (sometimes called Wonghibon), 
whose territory was situated on the north side of the 
Lachlan River, for about eighty miles above Whealbah, 


" a woman was the property of her captor when she was 
not of a class forbidden to him. I do not think a black- 
fellow would persist in retaining a female captive of a 
forbidden class ; indeed, I feel sure he would not, as he 
would incur the contempt of every member of his tribe, 
but whether he would be killed or not I cannot say." — 
(Mr. A. S. P. Cameron, Conoble, Mossgiel, N.S.W.) 

In the Dieri tribe, Lake Hope, " he who captures a 
woman, in war or otherwise, of the same class (Mtirdu) as 
himself, exchanges her with someone for a woman of the 
proper class." — (The Rev. H. Vogelsang, Kopperamana 
Mission, S.A.) 

At the last moment I have learned the following from 
one of the three last surviving Brataua Kiirnai : — About 
the time when the whites settled in Gippsland, a large 
war party went across the mountains to the north, to attack 
the Brajerak. On their return they brought with them live 
female captives.* These became respectively the wives of 
head men (one a Dinna Birraark) of the divisions Bunjil 
Kraura, Munju, Dairgo, and Yowiing, from which I have no 
doubt contingents of the war party had gone. My informant 
made this significant statement, in speaking of one of the 
five Lauajerak whom he knew personally — "Before she was 
the wife of Tankli she belonged to all the Yowting men." 
For further evidence I refer to appendices F, G, H, and I. 

These statements amply prove the proposition that, among 
the Australian savages, marriage by capture was only per- 
mitted when the captor and the captive were of some 
classes which might legally intermarry. The exceptional 
case of the Gournditch-mara tribe of Western Victoria 
goes to show that in that community, which had four 
classes which were not exogamous, the female captive was 

* Galled Lauajerak, as the men were calleil Brajerak. Laua = woman 
e.g., Laua-yak- western woman, as Bra-yak (Braiaka) = western man. 


not retained by the captor, but was given to someone else 
by him, under the sanction of the tribal council, and of the 
head man, or chief. 

As I have already pointed out, the Gournditch-mara 
seem to have been exceptionally advanced in their social 
arrangements, but it appears to me that they were not the 
only such exceptions. Mr. Fredk. W. Taplin, who has been 
intimately acquainted with the Narrinyeri for the last 
twenty-two years, knows of no instances where female 
captives were taken by them from their fellow clans. 

It may, I think, be assumed with safety that marriage 
by capture existed so far back as the time when the class 
divisions originated — that is, at the segmentation of the 
commune — and that it was controlled by those deeply 
seated rules of conduct which are based upon common 
descent, and upon the class divisions. 

We find it now existing as one of the means by which 
communal marriage is brought about, and affected by the 
rules which restrict the latter, and its practice amounts 
merely to a violent extension of the marital rights over a 
class in one tribe to captured members of the corresponding 
class in another tribe. 

In this view marriage by capture might exist in an undi- 
vided commune, and the female captive would, in that case, 
be incorporated with it. We cannot suppose that men of 
such a commune would refrain from capturing women of 
other communal groups. We may, on the contrary, feel 
assured that, when opportunity offered, captives would be 
made. The question, then, is, would the individual warrior 
retain his captive in defiance of communal rights ? If he 
resembled his descendant, the Australian savage, I should 
say he assuredly would not, unless in accordance with 
the tribal laws. There is no reason to believe that 
a warrior of an undivided commune of the past 


would any more disregard custom than would a 
man of the modified divided commune of to-day. If 
he did, it would mean, to him, the severance of all ties. 
He would become an Ishmaelite against whom all men's 
hands would be raised, and this would mean far more in a 
society having a corporate character than it would in one 
more highly developed and individualized.* 
Marriage The existence of elopement as a means of bringing about 
m^ut.°^'^" marriage among the Australian savages has not hitherto been 
suspected. I was long aware of its occurrence among the 
Kurnai, but it was only on carefully working out and 
weighing the details given in previous pages that I became 
aware that, in so far as they are concerned, elopement was 
the principal form of marriage. Suspecting that it might 
be common elsewhere in Australia, but confounded by 
observers with the kindred form of marriage by capture, 
I instituted inquiries, and I now give a few ex- 
tracts from communications made to me by corres- 
pondents, from which it will be evident that elopement 
is and has been a recognized institution with at 
least some of the aboriginal tribes. The presumption arises 
that it will be found to prevail generally, and I am now 

* I desire to guard myself against being supposed to assert that breaches 
of the communal laws, and of the present customs of the Australian savage, 
did not and do not occur. That they did and do occur is quite certain. 
The penalties provided against such infractions of the law prove this. 
The exceptions prove the rule. For instance, among the Kurnai marriage 
within the forbidden degrees is a heinous offence. Before the settlement 
of Gippsland by the white man, I am told that a Brabrolung eloped with 
his brother's daughter, who counted, under the classificatory system of 
relationship, as his own daughter. They escaped pursuit, and were not 
seen again until years after, when, the country having been settled, the 
native police came over from Melbourne. The Kurnai tell me that the 
delinquents then reappeared, and, under the protection of the native 
police, left the district, and .were never again seen or heard of. Such 
instances might occur even under an "undivided commune." But they 
could never have been more than exceptions. 


preparing to trace and to record its mode of occurrence 
elsewhere on the Australian continent.* 

Among the Kamilaroi (Gwydir River, N. S. W.) " although 
it was not customary for a young man to run off with his 
future wife, it was sometimes done. It was usual for a man 
to get the consent of the girl's parents, but it does not seem 
to have been absolutely necessary, as in many cases the man 
would take the girl away without consulting them. " — (Mr. 
Cyrus E. Doyle, Kunopia, N.S.W.) 

In the Wimmera tribe (North -Western Victoria) " cases 
were of very frequent occurrence, and might be said to be 
customary, where a young man eloped with his future wife. " 

* I anticipate that much unexpected evidence will turn up as to marriage 
by elopement. For instance, I observe, in Mr. M'Lennan's "Studies in 
Ancient History," &c., p. 316, the following as to marriage among the 
Turkomans: — "A youth becomes acquainted with a girl, they are 
mutually attached, and agree to marry, but the young man does not dare 
to breathe his wishes to the parents of his beloved, for such is not etiquette, 
and would be resented as an insult. What does he do ? He elopes with 
the girl, and carries her to some neighbouring Obah, where, such is the 
custom, there is no doubt of a kind reception, and there the young couple 
live for some six weeks, when the Reish-suffeeds, or elders, of the protecting 
Obah deem it time to talk over the matter with the parents." — " Frazer's 
Journey, 1830," vol. ii., p. 372. Also, at p. 317 of "Studies in Ancient 
History," this :— "Among the Soligas (India) when a girl consents to 
marry, the man runs away with her to some neighbouring village, and they 
live there until the honeymoon is over. Then they return home and give 
a feast to the people of their village." — "Buchanan's Journey from 
Madras," vol. ii., p. 178. 

Mr. M'Lennan gives these examples in support of his theory of marriage 
by capture ; but, on the contrary, they are clearly evidence of the existence 
among the Turkomans and the Soligas of marriage by elopement. Mr. 
M'Lennan supposes these cases to illustrate a state of transition from the 
symbol of actual capture to a symbolism of which traces remained in Sparta 
in historic times. According to Xeuophon ("Rep. Lac," 1,5) the young 
wife was not, immediately after the marriage, domiciled in her husband's 
house, but cohabited with him for some time clandestinely, till he brouc^ht 
her, and frequently her mother, to his home. The same custom also prevailed 
in Crete (Strabo x., p. 432). If these ancient customs symbolize anything, 
it is, I submit, elopement, and not capture. 

Another instance quoted by Mr. M'Lennan (p. 81) from Bell's "Journal 
of a Residence in Circassia," looks to me precisely like a case of elopement. 


— (The Rev. C. W. Kramer, Ebenezer Mission, Lake Hind- 

In the Dieri tribe (Lake Hope), "if a man to whom a girl 
has been refused then elopes with her, her relations make up 
a party to recover her. If the man makes no resistance, 
nothing is done to him ; otherwise, violence is used towards 
him." — (The Rev. H. Vogelsang, Kopperamana Mission, S.A.) 

In the far north, South Australia, " it is customary for a 
young man to run off with his future wife without her 
parents' consent." — (Mr. W. Gow, Blanchewater, S.A.) 

Among the Narrinyeri, at the mouth of the Murray River, 
" it was sometimes the case that, where parents refused their 
consent, a young man would elope with their daughter. If 
caught, he would be thrashed with clubs, and, in some 
instances, the offender has been put to death. The girl 
would ever bear the reproach of having lived with a man 
without being given away." — (Mr. Fredk. W. Tapliu, Point 
Macleay, S.A.)* 

In the now almost extinct " Ya-it-mathang"-|- tribe, of 
Omeo, •' where a man eloped with an unmarried woman, 
he was beaten by her relatives, who, however, frequently 
permitted him to retain her. In cases, however, where a 
man persisted in keeping a Avoman when the tribe was 
against it, the people would most likely kill .him." — 
(Informant, Jenny Cooper, the last survivor of the tribe, i:>eT 
the Rev. J. Bulmer, Lake Tyers.) 

In the Port Essington tribe, "girls are betrothed when 

* The late Rev. Geo. Tapliu iuformed me, with respect to marriage by 
elopement, that "iu past times a woman who ran away with a young man 
without being given by her relations, was called 'Kanauwurle,' or 'tlieirs,' 
and looked upon as a strumpet." He also mentioned a custom attending 
elopement, which is precisely that which I have noted (p. 202) among the 
Kvirnai, namely, the jus primce noctis of the comrades of the "young 

t Ya yau = yes. 


quite infants. Sometimes elopements of unmarried girls 
take place, but the betrothal is not thereby cancelled, unless 
by consent of the fiance. The woman is therefore still 
regarded as belonging to him, unless, as occasionally happens, 
he gives up his right to her. The girl, if caught, is severely 
punished." — (Mr. D. Morgan, Coburg cattle station. Port 

It will be well to point out that, in addressing my corres- 
pondents, I did so simultaneously both as to marriage by 
capture and marriage by elopement, so that any misunder- 
standing should be avoided. The quotations just made 
apply to elopement only, as those previously given applied 
to capture only. 

The time has, I think, now arrived for a careful review 
and consideration of the statements made by travellers and 
by other writers as to the Australian savage. I feel con- 
vinced that, when regarded by the light of present 
knowledge as to the actual structure of their society, those 
statements will not only be found to have an unexpected 
bearing upon the conclusions generally held as to their 
social development, but also that those statements will be 
found to support the views advanced in this work. At 
some future time I hope to undertake this examination. 
At present I shall merely point out one instance which I 
have at hand. 

William Buckley, the so-called " wild white man," who 
lived thii'ty-two years among the tribes of Port Phillip, has 
left a narrative through which are scattered many inter- 
esting particulars as to those aborigines.* At first sight, 
his statements seem to record merely a series of duels and 
battles about women who were stolen, speared, and 
slaughtered. The whole seems to be a picture of lawless 

* ' ' Life and Adventures of William Buckley," &c. , by John Morgan. 
Tasmania, 1S52. 


violence. On further examination, ho^Yever, there are 
statements which, when regarded by the light of present 
knowledge of the Australian savage, lead to somewhat 
different conclusions. 

Those social aggregates, which Buckley calls tribes, are 
evidently analogous to those which, for want of a more 
precise term, I have called "divisions" and "clans," He 
describes them as more or less freely mingling with and 
visiting each other, as speaking the same language, and as 
consisting of from twenty to sixty families. He says, 
moreover, that " they are very averse to marrying one of 
their own relations, even of a distant degree" (p. 51), "and 
will not . . knowingly marry a relation . . except 
when two brothers happened to be married and one dies ; 
in that case the survivor claims the widow " (p. QG). 
He distinctly states (p. 51) that " the first thing prepara- 
tory to marriage is to get the parents' consent ; " and that 
" often a girl is promised to a man as soon as she is born " 
(p. 89). On the other hand, there are many statements 
which prove that marriage by capture existed in the Port 
Phillip tribes, and also others which point to marriage by 
elopement having been common among them (pp. 61, 64, 
68). These statements pointedly indicate a community 
recognizing common descent, a common language, and a 
common country, and divided into exogamous groups. 

I now quote an incident related by Buckley, which is 
very characteristic (p. 62) : — " A young woman was speared 
throuo-li the thiiyh. As she belonged to our tribe, she was 
brought into our huts, from whence, it seems, she had 
absconded with a man of the other party, without her 
parents' knowledge. . . The quarrel being over, and all 
quiet, the men went to the lake fishing, leaving the women 
to their usual occupations, and the poor girl lay by herself 
in one of the huts. The man she had eloped with, knowing 


all this, went to her and carried her off; so that when the 
tribe retiu^ned they discovered the flight of the fugitives, 
on whom they vowed vengeance." 

Buckley here proceeds to narrate other occurrences. His 
party shortly afterwards started to meet another " tribe," 
by appointment, and there found the eloped couple. The 
meeting seems, from his narrative, to have been pre- 
arranged. He then goes on to say — " In the first place, they 
seated themselves on their rugs, in groups. . . The 
young man already mentioned advanced towards us 
and challenged our men to fight. . . A spear was 
thrown, but he warded it off" cleverly with his shield. . 
One of our men advanced very near to him, with only a 
shield and a waddy, and then the two went to work in 
good earnest . . until the first had his shield split. 
. His opponent struck him a tremendous blow on one 
side of his head, and knocked him down. . . His 
friends cried out 'Enough!' . . They soon after 
separated quietly." 

This narrative, as well as the other statements I have 
quoted, might be applied almost word for word to describe 
similar occurrences and customs with the Ktirnai. I think 
we may feel assured that the Port Phillip aborigines had 
individual marriage, with survivals of group marriage and 
the class divisions, and that with them marriage was brought 
about by gift, capture, and elopement ; but in which degree 
either of these three preponderated over the others I cannot 

I have now shown the prevalence of capture and the 
existence of elopement as means of bringing about marriage, 
and I have pointed out that both are under the direction of 
the class rules, which regulate all marriage. As to the 
Kiirnai, Mr. Fison has, I think, suggested a very probable 
explanation of the prevalence of marriage by elopement 



with them. But it seems tome, judging from the frequency 
of elopement elsewhere in Australia, that it must have been 
known to the ancestors of the Kiirnai, and have merely 
with them assumed a preponderance in consequence of the 
peculiar circumstances of their condition. 

Marriage by elopement and marriage by capture differ 
only in one essential — namely, the presence or absence of the 
woman's consent. We find that both these forms occur not 
only as producing individual marriage where the class 
rules have become much weakened, but also group 
marriage where the class rules are still full of vitality. It 
is not probable that either elopement or capture has been 
able by itself alone to produce individual marriage, except, 
perhaps, in such exceptional cases as that of the Kurnai. 
But there is another institution in the Australian tribes 
which, together with the custom of betrothal, I 
consider quite sufficient ; especially when aided by 
elopement and by capture, which, being at first completely 
under the control of the class laws, afterwards received 
greater prominence as these class laws became weakened. 
Individual The institution to which I refer is the monopoly, more or 


caused by less, of women by the older men of the tribe. This is veiy 
of women common all over Australia, especially where group marriage 
older men. is still in the ascendant. But this monopoly is not exclu- 
sive ; at certain times and on certain occasions the old 
communal right revives in favour of the younger men, or of 
friendly strangers visiting the tribe.* Yet this revival of 
communal rights takes place in accordance with the class 
rules. This practice of partial monopoly produces a scarcity 
of women available as wives, and will inevitably compel the 
men who are without wives to capture women, if it is 

* It may be even more correct to say that the old communal rights have 
never ceased to exist, but that the older men claim tlie right of withholding 
them from the younger ones and granting them at intervals. 


possible to do so ; or else to induce them to elope, if there is 
any chance of eluding the penalties thereby incurred. 
Women so captured are, as we have shown in this work, 
only to be retained by their captors if of the corresponding 
class, and will then rank with the other women of the 
tribe. In elopement the class rules must be followed. If 
they are disregarded, then the offence often becomes 

It is worth while to consider what is the nature of the 
monopoly and by whom exercised. It is the monopoly of 
women in partial exclusion of the other clansmen. It is 
exercised by the elder men to the exclusion of the younger 
men. These elder men are those who wield authority in 
the tribe. They are the repositories and expounders of 
ancestral custom, and they are supposed to possess not only 
wisdom, but also secret and deadly powers of sorcery, by 
which they can destroy their enemies. Their dicta are 
therefore charged with authority, and they bear the means 
of making that authority obeyed. It is universally true 
that man, as an individual or as a class, will, if he have the 
power, appropriate to himself privileges and advantages, 
to the exclusion of others. All history and experience is 
full of instances. This is precisely that which the elder 
men of such tribes as those I have mentioned do when 
they monopolize women to the exclusion of their fellow- 

The perpetuation of this monopoly is encouraged by those 
interested in it having sisters or daughters to exchange with 
each other for wives, and is aided by the custom of betrothal 
when girls are even mere infants. This betrothal occurs all 
over Australia, in tribes whose customs prove them to stand 
low down as regards other tribes in social development. I 
meet with it, for instance, in full force in a central 
Australian tribe (Kunandaburi) whose customs attending 


marriage smack strongly of an imdivided commune.* The 
exigencies of life attending the spread of the aborigines 
over the Australian continent would necessarily cause a 
communal group — say organized upon the class system — 
to break up, during its expansion, into other groups of a 
character similar to and governed by the same organic laws 
as the parent unit. The structure of existing tribes shows 
me that these segmented groups, while spreading over and 
settling the country, would still recognize the bonds of class 
connecting each with the other. The communal rights 
would still bind the whole, and would be exercised whenever 
the scattered groups re-united on ceremonial or festive 
occasions ; while, in fact, there would arise, through mere 
distance, a restriction upon the full exercise of the communal 
rights when the several groups returned to their proper 
localities. The betrothal of a girl belonging to one gi'oup 
to a man of suitable class and degree in some other and 
distant group, would, I think, tend to raise a feeling of 
special relation between the two when marriage took place, 
even when the common marital rights of the group were 
admitted. That which I have stated as probable in the early 
stages of the divided commune, is, in fact, that which can be 
clearly recognized in the structure of the various tribes of 
to-day, whether organized upon the Kamilaroi or the Kurnai 
type. I am thus led to suspect that betrothal dates back 
to an early period of the divided commune, and to associate 
it with monopoly of women. Such a practice of 
monopoly, aided by betrothal, would in itself tend 
to bring about the pairing family as we see it here, namely, 

* I am in receipt, wliile seeing tliis work through the press, of very full 
and important particulars as to this tribe, for which I am indebted to the 
courtesy of an old brother explorer, Mr. J. W. O'Donnell, whose aid in 
gathering information I now gladly avail myself of an opportunity to 


the monopoly by one man of one or more women.* The 
practice of capture and elopement would easily and naturally 
fall into the path thus struck out, and individual marriage 
would result. Exceptional cases, such as that of the 
Ktirnai, would accelerate the process and confirm the habit. 
This explanation of the origin of individual marriage is, I 
submit, entirely in accord with what we know of the 
Australian aborigines. It is therefore in accordance with 
general probability, and it also renders unnecessary Sir 
John Lubbock's assumption that " capture, and capture 
alone, could originally give a man the right to monopolize 
a woman to the exclusion of his fellow-clansmen." 

Sir John Lubbock, as it seems to me, regards capture as 
the root of all, and that from it sprang individual marriage, 
exogamy, and female infanticide. 

Mr. M'Lennan, on the other hand, believes that the M'Len- 

nan s views 

practice of female infanticide in the tribe (primary horde), ^f *» ^^^'■ 
and the scarcity of women thereby produced, led to the capture. 
capture of women for wives and to those habits which 
established exogamy.-f* He says also, when taking the 
Australians as an example, " Owing to exogamy, the mothers 
in each horde were foreigners, and, owing to the system of 
kinship, the children born to them were esteemed foreigners 
also." + 

Three propositions contained in these statements, and in 
his work generally, are worth considering. 

1. In the primitive hordes, female infanticide prevailed, 
as it does now among savages. 

2. The scarcity of women thus produced led to the 
practice of capturing wives — resulting in exogamy. 

* Monandry of Mr. J. F. M'Lennan. 

t " Studies in Ancient History," &c., by John Ferguson M'Lennan. 
London, 1876, p. 132, et infra, 
t P. 186. 


3. The wives so captured, and the children born to them, 
were regarded as " foreigners." 

As there are now no " primitive hordes" known to exist, 
the Australian savages may serve me for an illustration, as 
they serve Mr. M'Lennan. 

I am not aware of any satisfactory evidence that among 
them female children were as a rule more frequently killed 
than male children. From my own knowledge, I can see 
no reason that such should be the case. Infanticide has 
been practised by them — 

1. Where children increased so rapidly in numbers as to 
become a burden. 

2. Where children were born imperfect or deformed, or 
were twins. 

3. Where children were regarded as being illegitimate — 
e.g., where the parents both belonged to the same class, or 
were too nearly related to each other. 

I do not think that among the Australians there were, 
beside these, any peculiar inducements to destroy female 
children. The Australian women are not a burden to the 
tribe.* They gather their full share of the food supply. They 
are the beasts of burden on a march. They fight desperately, 
when occasion calls for it, in defence of their kindred. 
When married they are not an expense to their kin in the 
shape of dower, but bring to him who has the disposal of 
them an equivalent. It is by exchange of a daughter or a 
sister that in many tribes a man most easily obtains a wife. 
Among the Ktirnai a man with several daughters was rich 
in so far that their husbands were bound to find him in food 
(" neborak "-f). So far as the Australians are concerned, the 
evidence is against the conclusion drawn by Mr. M'Lennan. 

* See Mr. Fison's remarks, aud the foot-note, ante, p. 134. 
t As to neborak, seep. 207. 


The second proposition finds its chief support in the first. 
In speaking of Sir John Lubbock's views, I have fully- 
stated my own as to the origin of marriage by capture, and 
the views I advance render it unnecessary to call in the aid 
of female infanticide to produce it, together with those 
habits which are supposed to have established exogamy. 

In the third proposition, the Australian tribes are distinctly 
implied, and hence our evidence is peculiarly adapted to 
serve as a test of the soundness of the conclusions drawn. 
We have certainly no " primitive hordes," but the class 
division of an Australian tribe will well serve for the 
purpose of illustration. It is composed of two groups 
complementary to each other. One group is a brotherhood, 
and the other is a sisterhood. It is saturated by principles 
of corporate rights and obligations, and it may well serve 
as the modern type of the ancient homogeneous groups 
postulated by Mr. M'Lennan, and in which he conceives 
that captured women and their children were regarded as 
" foreigners." 

As a test, we may take the Eaglehawk class of a 
Maneroo (Brajerak) tribe, and the Crow class of a second 
such tribe, each tribe having both classes. Each class may 
then serve our purpose as representing a " primitive horde." 
We will suppose that a man of the Eaglehawk class of the 
first tribe captures a Crow woman of the second tribe. 
Although alien born as to her captor's tribe, she is yet a 
sister to all the Crow women in it, and her children will 
not be " foreigners," but Crows, of that particular tribe. 
This principle is, I think, brought out in an equally striking 
manner by taking two tribes which have no class divisions 
in common. I have given an instance when Briakolunof 
Kurnai killed some Brajerak men, and, in this case, they 
also captured their women.* Here there were not any 

* E. 222. 


class divisions common to both tribes, and it is, therefore, 
on all fours with a capture of women by one " primitive 
horde" from another. The women would be spoken of as 
Brajerak women, but their sons would be Yeerung, and 
their daughters Djeetgun ; that is, they would belong to 
the Kumai, and not to the Brajerak. In other words, they 
would not be regarded as " foreigners." These conclusions 
are also confirmed by tlie case of the five Lauajerak 
women.* The children of the one married to Tankli were 
Ktirnai. I do not know whether the other four had 
children or not. 

The evidence contained in this work, and Mr. Fison's 
discussions of that evidence, suggest that exogamy was the 
natural consequence of the segmentation of an original 
commune into two intermarrying communes, and the 
institution thereby of class divisions embracing both. It 
has been said that these class divisions are based upon sex. 
They are ; but each class has necessarily members of both 
sexes, and the prominence which has been given to their 
sexual arrangements by the existence of descent through 
the mother is due, not, as it seems to me, so much to the fact 
that those classes are based upon sex, as that the idea of 
descent in the female line is the only one possible under a 
communal system of marriage. The undivided commune, 
assuming one to have existed, was probably endogamous. 
The two resulting communes were exogamous as to each 
segment, but endogamous as to the whole. The community 
of wives among brothers (own and tribal) was, and is 
still, a necessary part of a society governed by class rules, 
and the Levirate is a consequence of such community. 
These institutions have not, as Mr. M'Lennan conceives, led 
to exogamy, but have survived from the communal times, 

* P. 346. 


which, I doubt not, preceded that division into classes 
which gave rise to exogamy. 

These considerations raise a strong presumption that 
there is a fatal error in Mr, M'Lennan's premises as to 
female infanticide, the relations of "primitive hordes" to 
female captives, and the origin of exogamy. If such is the 
case, then many of the principal conclusions throughout his 
work will be vitiated. 

It is on these grounds that Mr. M'Lennan's views as to 
the origin of marriage by capture and exogamy are unsatis- 
factory to me, and I anticipate that they will be found 
equally unsatisfactory by those who prosecute this branch 
of anthropology in the field rather than in the study. It 
seems to me probable that had Mr. M'Lennan been in 
possession of fuller facts as to the actual condition of the 
Australian and other savages, his logical mind would have 
inevitably led him to somewhat different conclusions to 
those he holds. 

Although I feel myself called upon to dissent from Mr. 
M'Lennan's conclusions as to the development of man's 
social condition, I do so fully appreciating the learning and 
research shown by his " Studies in Ancient History and 
Primitive Marriage," which will always be land-marks in 
anthropological science.* 

For my part I think that marriage by capture probably 

[* I gladly take the opportunity of expressing my hearty concurrence with 
this remark of Mr. Howitt's. Though the facts which have come under 
our observation compel us to dissent from Mr. M'Lennan's theories, we fully 
appreciate the distinguished ability which his work displays. His 
suggestion, which seems not to have attracted the attention it deserves, 
that the old legends of conflicts of heroes with animals may refer to battles 
with tribes who bore those animals as their totems, appears to me to be 
equally acute and valuable. It is so amply borne out by what we know of 
present day savages, that it may almost be said to amount to a discovery 
which has taken many an ancient legend out of the region of myth into 
that of history.— L. F.] 



the Kurnai 
society and 
society as 
to us by 

had its origin as far back as the undivided commune, and 
that it then fell under the communal rule. That it existed 
also in the exogamous communes, and that then, perhaps, 
arose manriage by elopement. Further, that these two 
means of bringing about marriage have continued until the 
present day, yielding obedience, perhaps reluctantly, to the 
ancient class rules, but gathering strength of resistance 
to them from the monopoly of women which was practised 
by those wielding tribal authority. Thus, in the case of 
the Kurnai, elopement has become the recognized means of 
effecting marriage, and the former monopoly has become 
established as the pairing family. 

Whether the pairing family of the Kurnai would ever 
have undergone a further development into the monogamian 
family, it is not possible to say ; any such changes are now 
effectually arrested and rendered impossible, but some 
reflections suggest themselves, which I may note briefly. 

It seems to me that among such archaic conditions as 
those described, the domestic and social systems of the 
progenitors of the civilized races may have originated. It 
seems quite conceivable that a " pairing family," as I have 
described it among the Kurnai, might, under favourable 
conditions, develop into a monogamian family.* 

A parallel may be drawn with the Aryan race. Under 
such a process of evolution the Mungan might become the 

* Dr. Morgan has clearly seen this and pointed it out in his great work, 
"Ancient Society." He says (p. 17): — "The ancestors of the Grecian, Roman, 
and German tribes passed through the stages we have indicated, in the 
midst of the last of which the light of history fell upon them. . . 
Commencing then with the Australians and Polynesians, following with the 
American Indian tribes, and concluding with the Romans and Germans, 
who afford the highest exemplification respectively of the six great stages 
of human progress, the sum of their united experiences may be supposed 
fairly to represent that of the human family from the middle status of 
savagery to the end of ancient civilization. Consequently, the Aryan 
nations will find the types of the condition of their ancestors when in 
savagery in that of the Australians and Polynesians." 


Housefather, with complete power of life and death as 
regarded the members of his family. The wandering ghost 
of the ancestor, instead of visiting his descendant in dreams, 
and teaching him forms of incantation to guard the Mungan 
and his family from the evil machinations of sorcerers 
within and without the tribe, or against the malignant 
Brewin, might become the house-spirit, ever guarding those 
clustered round the sacred hearth; and the veneration which 
is now paid to age and to the elders take the form of 
worship by the visible members of the family of the 
invisible members. Thus, while each family would have 
its peculiar worship, the ceremonies of initiation might 
become modified into the tribal worship of their eponym 
Yeerung, and Djeetgtin under such conditions be a survival 
as a female deity. 

Under such hypothetical conditions, descent, which carried 
the common right to procure food over the territory claimed 
by the division or the clan, might develop into the common 
right to depasture or to cultivate it. Under such changed 
conditions, the division, the clan, and the tribe would claim 
an actual and common right in the soil. 

The Birraark, instead of deriving his corrobboree songs 
and dances from the " ghosts " of the ancestors of his tribe, 
or instead of calling them back to the presence of the living 
in the dim evening, might become the bard, the soothsayer, 
or, as the prophet, deliver the oracles of the gods. 

It is not possible to surmise how long a period of time 
might be required for a tribe such as the Kiirnai to slowly 
progress from that point at which their primitive social 
history terminates, for them as well as for us, to an analogous 
position to that in which our Aryan ancestors first become 
visible to us in the dim and distant past. But, as regards 
any Australian aborigines, I think it is highly improbable 
that such a progress could ever have been made. From the 


state of a tribe of hunters having the pairing family to the 
state of a tribe of gi^aziers and agriculturists having the 
monogamian family, the distance is vast, and implies not 
only a potentiality of intellectual progress (which I neither 
admit nor deny for the Australian aborigines), but also those 
favourable surrounding conditions which could make it 
alone possible for that change to take place. Whatever 
the sum of these favourable conditions might have been, 
this is certain, that it must have included, as a necessaiy 
factor, the existence for food supply of indigenous animals 
capable of domestication, and of plants capable of successful 
cultivation. As Dr. Morgan has shown reason to believe, 
it is thereupon that the passage from savagery to barbarism 
depends.* The Australian continent has, I think, no 
indigenous animals suitable for such domestication, nor any 
plants which could be to the Australians that which the 
cereals have been to the Asiatic, or that which maize has 
been to the American race. Such an advance by Australian 
aborigines would, therefore, have been in the highest degree 
improbable ; but I think it is legitimately open to conjecture 
whether we may not perceive in the domestic and social 
state of the Ktirnai, conditions analogous to those from 
which it may be reasonably supposed the domestic and 
social state of our archaic progenitors were developed at a 
time before they became visible to us in the misty past, in 
the border land between the visible and the invisible. 
General The general conclusions to which the consideration of the 

Bions. evidence contained in this work has led me may be briefly 
formulated so far as they relate to the course of social 
development of the Australian aborigines. The following 
stages of progress may be broadly stated : — 

I, — An Undivided Commune. — (Consanguine Family of 

* "Ancient Society," p. 18, et infra. 


Morgan ; Hetairism, or Communal MaiTiage, of M'Lennan ; 
Communal Marriage of Lubbock.) 

In this there was, probably, more or less promiscuous 
cohabitation, at least between those of the contemporaneous 
generation. It may be that marriage by capture co -existed, 
by which female captives would be incorporated into the 

II. — A Segmented Commune, consisting of two or more 
exogamous intermarrying communes. — (Punaluan Family 
of Morgan, Marriage in which brothers have their wives in 
common of M'Lennan, Communal Marriage of Lubbock.) 

This would arise by the segmentation of an original 
commune. Each of these exogamous communes would be 
built upon the old lines. A theoretical right of promiscuous 
cohabitation would still exist in each segment ; but, in the 
course of time, there would arise various forms of group 
marriage, the evidence of which is universal. Marriage by 
capture would still exist, side by side with various forms of 
communal marriage, and female captives be incorporated 
with the class analogous to their own. The still existing 
uncertainty as to paternity, and the action of the class 
rules, would give greater prominence to the idea of descent 
through the mother. 

III. — Individual Marriage — (Syndyasmian, or Pairing 
Family, of Morgan ; Monandry of M'Lennan.) 

This arises through the breaking up of the communes, 
but traces of the communal riMits still survive. Marriage 
takes place by gift, by exchange, by capture, and by elope- 
ment, one or other of these predominating. Female 
captives are, in this stage, still subject to the class rules. 
Descent changes from the female to the male line. 

* This is my own view, and herein alone I differ from Mr. Fison 
in any material point. He has distinctly pointed out in his part of this 
work that he stops short of the undivided commune. 


This stage lands us not only in existing custom, but also 
in the realm of history. The patriarchal and monogamian 
families have been developed from the pairing family. The 
first stage in the sequence given no longer exists, so far as 
is known, either in Australia or elsewhere. The other 
stages are nowhere, probably, existing with hard and shai-p 
lines of separation from each other, but the groups repre- 
senting them are distinct. 

I submit with some confidence that these conclusions 
may be accepted by advocates either of the degradation or 
progression theories indiiferently. As the former hold that 
man has become degraded from a once perfect and innocent 
state, and from perhaps a civilized condition, the two views 
may have a concurrent course backwards to the undivided 
commune, beyond w^hich it is diflicult to conceive of any 
society as existing. It is therefore at that stage that the 
two rival theories may be held to take divergent courses. 
It can be of little moment whether the degradation theoiy 
stops short at the divided commune, "which still exists in 
modified forms, or at the undivided commune, which, 
though not known to exist now, is to be inferred as having 
once existed. 

What further evidence future researches may aflford 
cannot be foretold, but this is certain, that the evidence so 
far o btained discountenances the conclusion that existing 
savages are the degraded d escendants of once civilized 


Aborigines, cause of their decrease, 182 ; of Gippsland, 227 ; present social 

condition of, H17, 82tj ; primitive condition of, 327; communal 

principle among, 327. 
Adoption, lOi, 112. 
Ahts, 143. 
Ancestral worship not the basis of relationship, 111 ; why offered to males 

only by males only, 112. 
Ancient gens, the, 108. 
Antakerinya tribe, 36, 65. 
Appendix A, 95 ; Appendix B, 165 ; Appendix C, 171 ; Appendix D. 261 ; 

Appendix E, 267 ; Appendix F, 27-1 ; Appendix G, 279 ; Appendix 

H, 284 ; Appendix I, 288 ; Appendix K, 292. 
Aunt, my father's sister only, 77 ; is my mother-in-law, 84, 93. 
Australian dialects, wide divergence of, 63, note. 
Auziles, 154. 
Avenger of blood, 124. 

Bachofen, Mutterrecht, 127. 

Balearic islanders, 154, 

Battle of clans, 217. 

Barn, mat^ic, 252. 

Baukan, 254. 

Bedouin, 116. 

Betrothal among Australians, effect of, 354, 

Bible account of early society, 163. 

Bidwelli tribe, 322. 

Birraark, 253 ; Appendix K, 292, 

Birth of a child, 204. 

Blood feud, 156, 216, 221. 

Brajerak, 109. 

Brett, the dead hand, 244. 

Brewin, 250, 254. 

Brewit, 199, 

Bridgeman, Mr. G, F., 31, 38, 40, 53, 61, 167. 

Brothers' children, 78, 79. 

Brother and sister, tribal, defined, 91. 

Brother-in-law, 92. 

Brown, R. G., 32, 33, 34, 205, note. 

Buckley, WiUiam, 55, note; 136, note; 190, note; "the wild white man," 

Bulk, magic, 247, 251, note. 
Bullumdut, 254. 
Bulmer, Rev, J., 179, 200, note; 204, note; 223, 288, 350. 

368 INDEX. 

Bunjil, 210, 323, 324, note. 
By gars, Gonds and, 154. 

Cameron, Mr. A. S. P., 40, 47, 346. 

Camps, regulations of, 208. 

Cannibalism, 214, 224. 

Capture, marriage by. See Marriage hij Capture. 

Carew, Mr. Walter, 143. 

Clan, 215, 224 ; battle of, 217 ; of Knrnai, 227. 

Class divisions, 31; two classes, 33; four classes, 35; conjecture as to 

formation of, 70 ; of the Kurnai, 320. 
Change of descent, 74. 
Chatfield, Mr. W., jun., 41, 66, note. 
Codrington, Rev. R., 32, 33, 62, 68, 147, 312, note. 
Communal rights, 53, 155. 
Cousin defined, 77, 87. 

Darling River tribe, two divisions of, 34 ; totems of, 41. 

Dead, reluctance to name, 249. 

Degradation theory, 161, 336. 

Descent, the line of, docs not affect personal relationship, 119; through 

male, 158 ; uterine precedes agnatic, 165 ; change of line, 312. 
Descent through females is the rule of the classes, 68 ; necessary result of 

the marriage relations, 73. 
Dieri tribe, legend of Murdu, 25 ; marriage by capture in, 346 ; marriage 

by elopement in, 350. 
Disease, belief as to, 250. 
Disruption of a tribe, 305, 
Distribution of food, 261. 
Divergence of Australian dialects, 63, note. 
Djeetgun, 194. 

Doyle, Mr. C. E., 53, note ; 180, 205, note ; 326, 345, 349. 
Du Ve, Mr. C. J., 247. 

Eggs of swan, property in, 226, 252, note. 

Elders, authority of, 211. 

Ellis, Polynesian researches, 100. 

Elopement, marriage by, 200; prevalence of, 348, 349, 350, 351 ; among 

Turkomans and Soligas, 349, note ; in Sparta, Crete, and Circassia, 

349, note. 
Emberson, Mr. H., 173. 
Endogamy. See E.vogamy. 
Eponyms, 232. 

Erinyes, their functions, 123. 
Evil-eye, 248. 
Exogamy, the rule of Australian divisions, 63 ; breach of, punished, 65, 

66, note ; overrides marriage by capture, 65,344 ; defined, 117, 138, 

321, nate ; M'Lennan's views as to, considered, 357. 
Expiation for marriage, 151. 
Eyre, discoveries in central Australia, 52. 
Eucla tribe, 345. 

Falconer, Mr. A., 62. 

Family, duties of, 206 ; of the Kurnai, 203 ; developed out of group 

marriage, 340. 
Father-in-law, 86 ; son-in-law's duty towards, 105, 207. 
Father's brothers, 61, 83. 
Father's sisters, 84. 

INDEX. 36» 

Female infanticide. See Infanticide. 

Females no incumbrance of savages, 130, 358. 

Florida Island Kema, 37, note. 

Food, common right to, 207; distribution of. Appendix D, 2(11 ; provision of, 

206 ; forethought in providing, 208 ; plentiful, 208. 
Forethought, instance of, 208. 
Fraser, Rev. J. G., 125, note. 
Friend, Mr. P. S., 65, note. ■ 
Fuller, Rev. E., 62. 
Funeral ceremonies, 243, 

Ganowanian system, diagram showing, 96. 

Gason, Mr. S., 25, 55, 61. 

Geawagal tribe. Appendix G, 279. 

General conclusions, 364. 

Gens, the ancient, 108, 158. 

Gentes, exogamous, 63 ; intermarrying, 113. 

Gentile relationship, 121. 

Gesture language, 55. 

Ghosts, 246 ; white men thought to be, 248. 

Gibson, Mr. J., 180, 204, note"; 205, note ; 269. 

Giles, Mr. C, jun , 36, 65. 

Gippsland, first settlement of, 181 ; aboriginal population of, 227. 

Gonds and Bygars, 154. 

Gould, Mr. Lionel H., 31. 

Gournditch-mara tribe, 204, note ; 232, 7iote ; 246, note ; 253, note; Appendix 

F, 274, 327, note ; 347. 
Gow, Mr. W., 350. 
Grandchildren, 81, 82, 94, 
Group relationship, 56, 99, 102 ; is a real relationship, 102. 

Hagenauer, Rev. F. A., 204, note ; 230, note. 

Half-sister marriage, Kamilaroi, 45, 115 ; does not affect descent, 47 ; a 

local peculiarity, 48 ; authority for, 48, note. 
Hand of a corpse, 244. 
Hawaiian sister marriage, 100. 
Hearn, Professor, his theory of the gens, 109, 334 ; of ancestral worship, 

110 ; his statement as to uterine succession, 120 : theory of agnation, 

Herbert River tribe, 32, 36, 65. 
Horn an, Rev. W., 61. 

Homicide, distinction between simple and impious, 123, 
Husband and wife, 92. 

Individual marriage, 340. 

Infanticide not effected by violence, 175 ; female, 67, 135 ; male, 138 ; Ap- 

pendix C, 171 ; among the Kurnai, 190, 357, 
Inheritance, 245 ; of sister's son, 129. 
Initiation, ceremonies of, 192. 
Intaphermes' wife, choice of, 125, note. 
Isolation of Kurnai, 233. 

Kalmuks, 140. 

Kamilaroi, 47, note. 

Khonds, 141. 

Kinship, terms of, 318 ; development of, 318 ; M'Lennan's views as to, 318, 

Kocchs and Hos, 141. 


370 INDEX. 

Kramer, Rev. C. W., 320, note ; 350. 

Kroatungolung, the, 227, 308. 

Kubitba, 37, note. 

Kiihn, Rev. Julius, 179, 210, 7iotc ; 241, note; 253, note; Appendix H, 

Kunandaburi tribe, 328, 355. 
Kurnai, their present numbers, 181 ; meaning of name, 187 ; isolation of, 

233 ; their character and intelligence, 255 ; their numerals, 255, 

note ; their life one of dread, 259 ; their present social condition, 317 ; 

whence they probably migrated, 323 ; marriage by elopement 

among, 200 ; marriage by capture among. 343. 
Kurnai system, theory of, stated, 297 ; peculiarities of, 298 ; objections to 

theory, 308 ; importance of, 311. 

Lance, Mr. T. E., 37, note ; 48, note ; 53, 326. 

Larakia tribe, 64. 

Laws of marriage, &c., chapter iii., Kamilaroi marriage. 

Levirate, law of, 146. 

Lewin, 192. 

Little, Mr. J. A. G, 64. 

Lockhart, Mr. C. G. K, 41, (;6. 

Lubbock, Sir John, his theory as to war captives, 65, 149, 342 ; of the four 
classes, 107 ; his argument against ]RI organ's theory, 115; confusion 
as to exogamy, 116 ; mistake as to American Indian system, 83, note ; 
118 ; explanation of Orestes' plea, 126; basis of marriage, 127; of 
individual marriage, 149, 342 ; of expiation for marriage, 151 ; 
theory of totemism, 165 ; that, among savages, society does not concern 
itself with individual wrongs, 329. 

Lyon, Mr. G. 0., 61. 

Mackay tribe, 34, 167. 

Magic, various forms of, 251 

Maine, Sir H. S., 332, 337. 

Malayan system of kinship, 99. 

Male infanticide, 138. 

Marriage, with sister, 99 ; with half-sister, 45, 115 ; marriage is a status, not 
a contract, 127 ; expiation for, 151 : customs of, 200 ; obligations of, 
205 ; by capture, 343 ; by capture cannot be a complete system, 141 ; 
by elopement, 200, 348 ; regulations of, 200, 227. 

M'Gregor, Dr.. 185, note ; and 205, note. 

Maori, 105, 153 ; genealogies, 105, note. 

M'Leiman, Mr. J. F., 26 ; his theory of kinship terms, 101 ; his use of terms 
exogamy and endogamy, 321, note; misleading, 117, 139; his view 
of Orestes' plea, 123, note ; his theory of the rise of kinship, 131 ; of 
female infanticide, 133, 357 ; of exogamous tribes and marriage by 
capture, 138, 357; of polyandry, 144; of the Levirate, 146; his 
objections to the theory of expiation by marriage, 151. 

Monopoly of women in Australian tribes, 354. 

Moral feeling, 257. 

Morality of savages, 102. 

Morgan, Hon. Lewis II., objections to his nomenclature, 26, 76, 81 ; his 
theory of the reformatory movement, 99, 115, 160, and jjasxim ; defi- 
nitions quoted from, 236, note. 

Mota, 34, 62 ; male infanticide, 138 ; polyandry of, 147. 

Mother's brothers, 77,85, 93. 

Mother's sisters, 86. 

Mothers-in-law, 93 ; avoidance of son-in-law, 103, 203, 291, note ; reason of, 

INDEX. 371 

Mukjarawaint tribe, 324, note ; 345. 
Murdu, legend of, 25. 

Nair polyandry, 145. 

Names, 190, 210. 

Naming the dead, reluctance to, 249. 

Narrinyeri, 307, 350. 

Nasamones, 154. 

Naudowessies, 154. 

Navitilevu hill tribes, statistics of, 172. 

Neborak, 207. 

Nephew and niece defined, 77-79. 

New Britain tribes, 33. 

Ngarrego tribe, 34, 324. 

Ngrung, nose piercing, 191. 

Numerals, the Kurnai, 255, note. 

Obligation of marriage, 205. 
O'Donnell, Mr. J. W., 356, note. 
Old age, reverence for, 211. 
Orestes, plea of, 122. 

Polyandry, M'Lennan's theory of, 144. 
Property in swan's eggs, 226, 232, note. 
Punjil, 210, note; 324, note. 

Eeeve, Mr. W., jun., 32, CG. 

Eelationship, chapter iv. ; as between group and group, 56, 90 ; summary of, 

90 ; group relationship is a real relationship, 101 ; line of descent 

does not affect personal relationship, 119; gentile relationship, 121; 

relationship to the father does not include relationship to the mother, 

and vice verm, 120 ; terms of, defined, 236. 
Ridley, Rev. W., 37, 43, 45, 48, note. 
Robinson, H. C, diary of, 157, note. 
Roe, Mr. D. E., 345. 
Rooney, Rev. J., 176. 
Rusden, Mr. G. W., Appendix G., 279. 

Savages, their method of reasoning, 70, 132; morality of, 102 ; not 

descended from civilized ancestors, 162. 
Scars, ornamental, 192. 
Sister-marriage, 99. 
Sister-in-law, 92. 
Sister's children, 78, 80. 
Sister's son, inheritance of, 129. 
Sister, tribal, defined, 92. 
Social unit, the, 90, 128, 340. 
Spirits of ancestors, 246. 
Spirit seance, 254. 
Stiihle, Rev. J. H., 179, 193, note; 205, note; 246, note; 253, note; 

Appendix F., 274. 
Suppliants and friendly aliens, protection of, 222 ; punishment of offending. 

Swan's eggs, property in, 226, 232, note. 

Table A, 34 ; B, 36 ; C, 39 ; D, 43 ; E, 45 ; F, 61, 62 ; A, 227 ; B, 236 ; C, 

Taplin, Mr. F. W., 350. 

372 INDEX. 

Taplin, Rev. G., 01, 307, note; 350, notr: 

Taylor, Kev. R., 153. 

Terms of kinship, 236; table of, 61 ; anomalous terms, 167, note; of the 

Turanian system proceed from the class divisions, 76. 
Thibetan polyandry, 146. 
Totcmic subdivisions, 40. 
Totems, evidence as to totemism, 165 ; of the Mackay tribe, 167 ; of the 

Mount Gam bier tribe, 168. 
Tribe defined, 29 ; M'Lennan's use of, 139 ; an aggre<3^ate of clans, 224. 
Turra tribe, 210, 7wtc- ; 241, note; 253, note; Appendix H, 284. 
Turndun, 197 ; Appendix E, 267. 
Turanian system, 26. note ; diagrams showing, 96. 
Tylor, Mr. E. B., 269, 335, note. 

Umbilicus, 204, note. 

Uncle, is the mother's brother, 77 ; the father-in-law, 85. 

Undivided commune, 99, 150, 160, 327. 

Vogelsang, Rev. H., 52, note; 179, 346, :}50, 

War, leadership in, 212 ; a night attack, 212 ; battle of the clans, 217. 

West Australian tribes, 31, 36. 

Wife's mother, taboo of, 203, 291 . 

"Wild dog, superstition as to, 218, 7tote. 

Williams, Rev. John, 161. 

Witchcraft, disease caused by, 216, 250 ; bulk, 247, 251, 7iofe; bam, 252. 

Women, capture of, 224, 343 ; no encumbrance to savages, 136, 358. 

Wonghi tribe, 345. 

World props, 55, note. 

Worship, ancestral. See Ancestral WorsMp. 

Walker. May, and Co., Piiiiters, 9 Mackillop-street, Melbourne.