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Australian Rock Art (Public Domain Image)

The Native Tribes of Central Australia

by Baldwin Spencer and F.J. Gillen


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Rock art gallery

This massive anthropological study of the central Australian tribes is one of the primary sources for information on these cultures. Based on first-hand scholarly study just prior to the twentieth century, Spencer and Gillen describe their complex rituals and belief systems, including initiation ceremonies, kinship, mythology and material culture. The picture that emerges is that of a sophisticated culture living under what most others would consider very marginal conditions.

Like its companion work, Spencer's Native Tribes of the Northern Territory of Australia, this book stands far in front of everything else written on the subject, and is an indispensible reference on Australian ethnography.

Title Page
List of Illustrations
Chapter I. Introduction
Chapter II. The Social Organisation of the Tribes
Chapter III. Certain Ceremonies Concerned with Marriage Together with a Discussion Regarding the Same
Chapter IV. The Totems
Chapter V. The Churinga or Bull Roarers of the Arunta and Other Tribes
Chapter VI. Intichiuma Ceremonies
Chapter VII. Initiation Ceremonies
Chapter VIII. Initiation Ceremonies (Continued) the Engwura Ceremony
Chapter IX. Initiation Ceremonies (Continued) the Engwura Ceremony (Concluded)
Chapter X: Traditions Dealing with the Origin of the Alcheringa Ancestors of the Arunta Tribe and with Particular Customs
Chapter XI. Traditions Dealing with the Origin of the Alcheringa Ancestors of the Arunta Tribe and with Particular Customs (Continued)
Chapter XII. Customs Concerned with Knocking out of Teeth; Nose-Boring; Growth of Breasts; Blood, Blood-Letting, Blood-Giving, Blood-Drinking; Hair; Childbirth; Food Restrictions; Cannibalism
Chapter XIII. The Customs of Kurdaitcha and Illapurinja and the Avenging Party or Atninga
Chapter XIV. Customs Relating to Burial and Mourning
Chapter XV. The Iruntarinia and Arumburinga, or Spirit Individuals
Chapter XVI. The Making and the Powers of Medicine Men; Various Forms of Magic
Chapter XVII. Methods of Obtaining Wives
Chapter XVIII. Myths Relating to Sun, Moon, Eclipses, Etc.
Chapter XIX. Clothing, Weapons, Implements, Decorative Art
Appendix A. The Names of the Natives
Appendix B. The Wilyaru Ceremony of the Urabunna Tribe, Together with References to Mr. Gason's Account of the Dieri (Dieyerie) Tribe
Appendix C
Glossary of Native Terms Used