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Division of northern tribes into five groups so far as totemic matters are concerned.--Kakadu tribe.--The Yalmuru and Iwaiyu.--Manner of acquiring totemic names.--Examples of totemic names in different families.--Totemic names not hereditary.--List of totemic groups-Sacred objects associated with the Muraian ceremony.--Emu egg stone-Showing the Muraian sticks and stones.--Intichiuma ceremony.--The ancestor Kulbaran finding the Muraian.--List of Muraian sticks and stones.--Painting them.--Status name of Lekerungen given after having seen the Muraian.--History of the Emu egg stone and the crocodile stick.--Warrai tribe.--Totemic groups exogamic.--Waduman tribe.--List of totemic groups.--Genealogical tables to show descent of totem in maternal line.--Accessory totems.--Eating of totemic animal or plant.--Ceremonies to increase totemic animal or plant.--Headman of totemic group.--Orkbau ceremony.--Mudburra tribe.--Descent of totem in maternal line.--Tjutju ceremony to increase the totemic animal or plant.--Wulwullam tribe.--Melville Island tribe.--Names of totemic objects and groups.--Intermarrying groups.--Descent of totem is in maternal line.--Iwaidja tribe.--Local intermarrying groups.--Descent of totem in maternal line.--Table showing descent and marriage.--Larakia tribe.--Descent of totem in paternal line.--Worgait tribe.--Main and accessory totems.--Descent in paternal line.--Djauan tribe.--Pairs of sub-classes have totem groups in common Totemic groups exogamic.--Descent in the paternal line.--Mungarai tribe.--Totemic groups associated with sub-classes.--List of groups and the sub-classes to which they belong.--Descent of totem neither in maternal nor paternal

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line.--List showing totemic groups of certain parents and children.--Yungman tribe.--Similar to Mungarai.--Nullakun tribe.--Descent in paternal line.

THERE considerable variation amongst the different tribes inhabiting the Northern Territory in regard to their totemic systems. In some tribes, such as the Waduman and Mudburra, the totemic name is transmitted in the maternal line; in others, such as the Worgait and Djauan, in the paternal line.

In some, the totemic groups are divided between the moieties, in others, such as the Djauan and Mungarai, they are divided between the classes or sub-classes, so that the child cannot possibly inherit either its father's or its mother's totem.

In some, such as the Waduman and Mudburra, there is no division of the totem groups between the moieties or classes, the same group occurring on both sides of the tribe, but the totemic groups are exogamous, and the totem descends in the female line. In others, moieties and classes do not exist, and in these there is no descent of the totem from parent to child, the latter receiving his totemic name in consequence of an intimation conveyed by a spirit individual to the parent.

In all tribes, however, there is a very definite totemic system, which may or may not regulate marriage.

In most tribes the totemic groups are exogamous, but in some, such as the Kakadu, they are not, though it is very rare to find a man married to a woman of the same totemic group as himself. Such a marriage, however, in the Kakadu and allied tribes would be quite allowable.

Amongst these more northern tribes we may distinguish five main groups so far as totemic matters are concerned

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(1) A group represented by the Larakia, Worgait, and Wulwullam, in which the totem groups are divided between the two moieties; they are strictly exogamic and descent is counted in the male line.

(2) A well-marked group of tribes including the Djauan, Mungarai, Warrai, Yungman, Mara, and Nullakun, in which the totem groups are divided between the classes or sub-classes so that a child passes into a totemic group belonging to the same side of the tribe to which his father belongs, but of necessity different in name from his father's, because different totemic groups are attached to different classes or sub-classes.

(3) A well-marked group of tribes, including the Waduman, Mudburra, Ngainman, and Billianera, in which the same totemic groups are found on both sides of the tribe, and in which the descent of the totem is in the female line. The totemic groups are strictly exogamous.

(4) Abnormal and modified coastal and island tribes, such as those on Melville Island and the Iwaidji, in which there are no moieties or classes, but in which there are local groups and in which certain restrictions with regard to marriage exist in connection with the totemic groups. The descent of the totem is in the female line.

(5) Abnormal and evidently modified coastal tribes, such as the Kakadu and allied tribes, in which no moieties or classes are present, and in which the totem descends in neither the female nor the male line.

In at all events many of the tribes, such as the Kakadu, Waduman and Mudburra, the men perform ceremonies that are the equivalent of the Intichiuma in the Arunta, and have for their object the increase of the totemic animal or plant.

The Kakadu group of tribes is evidently much modified

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in many ways, and in none more so than in regard to their totemic system. The question of totems is closely bound up with their beliefs in regard to the origin of children, As described in connection with this subject,[1] when an individual dies his spirit part remains with his bones in the form of what is called a Yalmuru. This, again, gives rise to a double of itself, called all Iwaiyu, which the Yalmuru places in some food, such as a sugar-bag or fish, that the father of the future child then secures, aided by the Yalmuru in doing so. This food will be the totem of the future child. The Iwaiyu jumps out of the food before the man secures the latter, and rejoins the Yalmuru. Finally, in the form of a small frog, called Purnumanemo,[2] it goes into its mother. The Yalmuru, at night time, comes to the father while he is asleep in his camp and tells him the name of the child and its totem. Originally, in the far past times, each individual had his totem, or jereipunga, given to him by the great ancestor of the tribe named Imberombera, or by men and women sent out by and acting under her instructions. At each reincarnation the Yalmuru decides upon the Jereipunga, which may or may not be the same as that to which it belonged during a previous reincarnation. It has no reference of necessity to that of either the father or mother, nor is it concerned in any way with the marriage system. In the Kakadu tribe, indeed, there is no idea of heredity of the totemic name in either the male or female line. A few examples of actual families living in the Kakadu camp, while I was staying at Oenpelli, their central camping ground, will serve to illustrate this matter.

[1. See Chapter vii.

2. A very small species of Hyla that lives under bark and sheaths of leaves.]

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(1) A man named Ungara whose totem is Kimberikara (Barramundi, a fish); his wife, Obaiya, is Mormo, sugar-bag. They have two children, Monmuna a boy, who is Kunbaritja, a small fish, and Murawillawill, whose totem is Eribinjori, crocodile. The totem of Ungara's father was Kunbaritja, and that of his mother Mormo.

(2) A man named Mukalakki whose totem is Mormo. That of one wife, named Mitjunga, is Kunaitja, mullet; that of another, named Numerialmak, is Kulekuli. His father, named Monmuna, was Kimberikara, his mother, named Kumbainba, was Eribinjori, a crocodile; his brother was Murno, opossum; the mother of Monmuna was Kintjilbara, a snake, his wife's mother was Kulekuli, catfish.

(3) A man named Miniamaka, whose totem is Jameru, a small fish; his wife, named Murrapurnminni, is Kulekuli, cat-fish; a son, called Naminjeya, is Kimberikara. His father and mother were both Kimberikara.

(4.) A man named Mitjeralak whose totem is Kalerungeni, flying fox; his father, named Mitiunga is Jameru, a small fish; his father's father was Eribinjori, crocodile.

(S) A man named Kopereik whose totem is Kunaitja, mullet; his father is Kimberikara.

(6) A man named Oogutjali whose totem is Kunbaritja, a fish; his wife, named Belgramma, is Narenma, a snake; a son, called Tjurabego, is Eribinjori, crocodile; a daughter, called Mikgeirne, is Kulekuli, cat-fish; a daughter, named Mirowargo, is Kalerungeni, flying fox; a daughter, named Minagi, is also Kalerungeni, and another, called Mukarula, is Mormo, sugar-bag.

It will be seen from these examples that there is a complete and most perplexing mixing up of the totems, so far as anything like descent of the totemic name is concerned. They have nothing whatever to do with

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regulating marriage, nor are they hereditary in either the paternal or maternal line. Further still, there is no attempt made for each individual to retain the totem (f the old ancestor of whom he is supposed to be the reincarnation. In the case of the above-named individuals there is actually only one--the woman Mitiunga--in which the living person has the same totem as the old ancestor of whom he, or she, is supposed to be the reincarnation. In regard to their totemic system, the group of tribes that have the Imberombera legend, or its equivalent, appear to stand by themselves. In some respects, as, for example, in regard to the idea of definite local centres, peopled by spirit individuals, they call to mind the Arunta, but, on the other hand, they differ from them and from all others in the remarkable way in which each centre is the home of a definite group of individuals, the actual names of all of whom are known and handed down from generation to generation.

The following is a list of the totemic groups in the Kakadu tribe. It is quite possible that there may be more than these, but they will, at all events, serve to indicate their nature in this tribe which may be taken as representative of the northern coastal tribes generally. The latter inhabit the well-watered country, where food is abundant, that lies between the Ranges and the sea. It will be noticed that, in every case, the totemic animal or plant is edible:--

Alberjiji, Whistling Duck.
Banjil, a Fish.
Baralil, a Fish.
Biaka, a Wallaby.
Boinmun, a Rat.
Brutpenniweir, Jabiru.
Eribinjori, Crocodile.
Erlaungerla Echidna.

Eyenbumbo, Fish-hawk.
Gunumaramila, a Yam.
Jailba, Sugar-bag.
Jeluabi, a non-venomous Snake.
Jeruober, Old-man Kangaroo.
Jimeribunna, Native Companion.
Jimmidauappa, a small Fish.


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Kaleiyu, White Cockatoo.
Kalerungeni, Flying Fox.
Karakera, Spur-winged Plover.
Kimberikara, Barramunda (a Fish).
Kintjilbara, a Carpet Snake.
Kopereipi, Emu.
Korunokadju, Wild Dog.
Kudbauu, a Fish.
Kudjalinga, Turtle.
Kulabaga, Pied Egret.
Kulawura, Jungle Fowl.
Kulekuli, Cat-fish.
Kulijidbo, a Yam.
Kuljoanjo, a non-venomous Snake.
Kulori, a Yam.
Kunaitja, Mullet.
Kunbaritja, a small Fish.
Kunjeama, a "Plum."
Kupulapuli, White Crane.
Kurnembo, Goose.
Mangortji, wedge-tailed Eagle.
Marabornji, brush-tailed Wallaby.
Mimiorko, Bandicoot.
Mimweluda-uda, Blue Mt. Parakeet.
Minjiweya, a Yam.
Miriwidjonga, Quail.
Mitjiborla, a Wallaby.
Moain, a small Fish.
Mormo, Sugar-bag.
Mornum, a Yam.
Mudburraburra, native Cat.
Mudebenbo, native Turkey.

Mungalama, Lily Seed.
Munmarwer, a Snake.
Murarowa, a Cypress Bulb
Monmorlpa, a Rat.
Murkailpu, Sugar-bag.
Murlappa, a Yam.
Murno, Opossum, M.
Murora, a small Wallaby.
Nabapungeni, Black Kangaroo.
Narenma, a Snake.
Ngabadaua, a Snake.
Ngulauter, a Fish.
Nguloa, a Fish.
Numberanerji, a Snake.
Nuppadaitba, a Fish.
Padauitja, a Sugar-bag.
Parijiliji, Lily root.
Pitjordu, Lizard.
Puneri, a Lizard.
Putamunga, Water Lizard.
Tiradjuno, a Water Snake.
Tjailba, Sugar-bag.
Tjameru, a small Fish.
Tjikali, Wood Grub.
Tjilaka, Jew Fish.
Tjimidaba, a long-nosed Fish.
Tjinangu, a Sugar-bag.
Tjunara, a Yam.
Tjungoan, a Snake.
Ulloa, a Fish.
Unari, a Lizard.
Worki, a Lily Root.
Wuridjonga, Lily Seed and Roots.
Yidaburabara, a Snake.
Yinganga, small Crocodile.


Whilst investigating the initiation ceremonies in this tribe with Mr. Cahill, I came across a very interesting part of the final initiation ceremony that is called Muraian.[1] This, consisted in showing the older men certain very sacred sticks and stones intimately associated with the

[1. See Chapter iii.]

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totems.[1] They are as intensely kumali as are the churinga of the Arunta, and the natives when showing them to us and performing the ceremony took most elaborate precautions to prevent any women from having the slightest chance to see what was being done. Each stone or stick was wrapped tip in sheet after sheet of paper bark.

The first that we saw, and we came upon it by mere accident, was a small stone called Iwaija Kopereipi, or Emu egg. It measured about four inches in length by two and a half in diameter. It was sufficiently like an egg in shape as to suggest the name. (Plate VII, Fig. 7). The general surface had been red-ochred, but a yellow band, not seen in the figure, ran round it and two red bands, each with a central row of white dots, ran half-way up each side. The remainder of the surface was covered with close set lines of white, crossing one another approximately at right angles. Its history was as follows: Long ago, for the egg has now passed through the hands of nine old men, one after the other, an old ancestor named Nauundel, was out in the bush, searching for sugar-bag, when he heard a curious hissing noise. He looked round and, in the distance, saw an egg and a snake coiled round it. It was the hissing of the snake that Nauundel heard. The snake was one now called Kintjilbara. Nauundel came close up, got a stick and began to poke the snake which, by and by, went away. He did not attempt to injure it. The egg stood up on end and Nauundel lifted it from the ground and tied it up in paper bark. Then he cut some grass, laid it in his bag and put the egg, wrapped in paper bark, upon it, saying, Geimbi kala muraian; ngainma kala, kulapunna maleiappa, which means, "This is a Muraian stone all right; it is mine all right, I put it in my bag." All night he heard

[1. For a description of these, see Chapter v.]

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the egg saying Prr, Prr, as it moved about restlessly inside the paper bark. It moved about so much that it tossed all the grass out of the bag and, as it would not keep still, and Nauundel was afraid of losing it, he placed the mouth of the bag near the fire and stupefied the egg with the heat and smoke.

Only Murabulba, that is, very old men, are allowed to see the egg. When its present possessor, a man named Narlinda, wishes to show it during the progress of the Muraian ceremonies, he says to the younger men, morpiu, yapu, ge, which means, literally translated, "food, go, all of you"--in other words, all of you go out into the bush and collect food. The young men know what he means, or, rather, that there is something that they must not see, and away they go. He says nothing to the other men but, as Narlinda told us, they know what he means and nudge one another. When the young men are far away, Narlinda sits down by himself, a little distance away from the old men, unwraps the paper bark, and calls the others up. They come with their heads bent down. Narlinda tells them to come near and not be frightened because it will not "growl," that is, it will not be angry with them or do them any harm.

When they are going to hold these special ceremonies there may be only one or two, or several, of these sacred objects brought on to the ceremonial ground, which is most carefully placed and, if necessary, as in the one we saw, closed in with bushes. At one of these ceremonies, after the men have brought in their sacred sticks and stories, each one being in the charge of some special individual, they are placed on the ground to one side of the enclosed space. If there are any men present who have not seen them before, but are judged to be old enough to do so, an old man, such as Narlinda, says, Koregora

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Muraian, kaiano jeri, balera, yadimma najei kubari kudanuji korto, that is, "Look, these are Muraian, do not quarrel or, by and by, all your fingers will swell up." The performance itself is a very curious one and the men become very excited. The illustrations (Plates III, IV, V, VI and VII) will give some idea of what the objects themselves are like. When we saw it enacted, two of the men stood to one side, one clanging sticks, the other clapping his hands. First of all a stick representing a fish, called Jimidauappa, was brought in by a man to whom it belonged. Followed by the other men, he came from behind some bushes, creeping along with the sticks in his hands. On the ground he stood in the middle, all the other men circling round and round him, while he pointed the stick at each of them. At first they sang the words

Ka kai ka ka le
Ka lulla le,

and, after dancing for some time, they all extended their arms towards the stick, time after time, drawing them back rapidly and yelling, Brau, brau, which means, Give, give. They were supposed to be demanding a plentiful supply of the fish Jimidauappa.

Finally, the man fixed the stick upright in the ground and they all danced round and round, pretending to rub their hands up and down it, after which they rubbed themselves. Then they retired behind the bushes. After a short time they came on again, this time bringing several sticks (Figures 47, 48) and, in addition, rushing round the other men who stood to one side. One after another the sticks were fixed upright in the ground until there were some twenty or more sticks and stones there. At one stage, when only a few had been brought in, a special one--the Muraian itself--was produced. The man carrying it tumbled down on the ground and was

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followed by the others and they all wriggled and rolled about in the most grotesque fashion (Fig. 49). The Muraian was in the form of a slightly curved slab of wood, with the representation of a head at one end (Plate IV., Fig. 1), a very short tall at the other, and two little projections at each side, representing limbs. It was supposed to be a turtle, to which it certainly showed considerable resemblance, quite enough to be recognisable, and the rolling about of the men was supposed to be an imitation of the movements of the animal itself.

When all the sticks and stones, many of them elaborately decorated, some representing yams with strings of gaily coloured cockatoo feathers wound round them, had been brought on to the ground, they were arranged in a circle and the men danced round and round them with their arms alternately extended and drawn back, while they yelled, Brau brau, that is, "Give, give." It was, as the natives told us, a request, in fact, a demand, to the sacred representatives of the various animals and plants to provide them with these same animals and plants that form their food supply.

Amongst the native tribes of Central Australia I have seen what Mr. Gillen and myself have called the Intichiuma ceremonies. These are performed by the men of different totemic groups, with the idea of increasing the number of the animals and plants with which the ceremonies are concerned, but, in the Central tribes, it is only the men of any one totemic group who Perform the ceremony associated with it, and there is no such thing as any definite request or demand. The mere performance of the ceremony is supposed to bring about the desired result. In the Kakadu tribe, and the same is true of other tribes associated with it, the

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members of different totemic groups join together and, though it is difficult to express, accurately, the difference between the two forms of ceremonies, both of which have the same object in view, that is, the increase of the food supply, it may be said that the Central tribes do not make anything in the way of a personal appeal to any object which is supposed to represent an animal or plant, whereas, amongst the Kakadu, this is most evident. The men of the latter tribe very clearly showed, by their insistent and fierce cry of Brau, brau, "Give, give," that they were directly asking, even demanding, the representatives of the various animals and plants to provide them with food. Amongst the many ceremonies of this kind that I have seen performed by Australian aboriginals, none have impressed me more than these, as indicating that savage man believes that he is able to control his food supply by means of magic. The way in which the men danced round the ceremonial objects, or rolled over on the ground holding them in their hands, was most suggestive of the idea that, by doing so, they brought about some close connection between themselves and the totemic animals or plants represented by the sacred sticks and stones. All that the men could tell us was that their old ancestors had always performed these ceremonies and that, after they had done so, the animals and plants had always multiplied.

Altogether we saw about seventy of these sacred stones and sticks which, above all things possessed by the Kakadu and surrounding tribes, are pre-eminently Kumali or sacred. They brought just a few at a time to show us, taking the most elaborate precautions lest any woman or child, or even any young man, was in sight. Before they brought them in, they halted under the shelter of bushes and reconnoitred the place to

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make quite sure that they were safe and that no women were within sight. When a man saw us he would put a finger up to his nose, the sign that they had something Kumali. Then, when they were satisfied that everything was secure, they brought them in, wrapped up in fold after fold of paper bark. Whilst showing them to us they only spoke in whispers and, so real was it to them, that we, without thinking about it, felt compelled to do the same.

They told us that the first of these Muraian objects was found, very long ago, by an old ancestor called Kulbaran. He saw something strange in the form of a turtle moving about in the water, caught it and discovered that it was Muraian, or rather the turtle told him so. The turtle then described the ceremonies and taught Kulbaran how to perform them and how to make the sacred sticks and stones. He told Kulbaran that they were all kumali widjeru, that is very sacred or kumali. He also told him that the old men might eat the Muraian animals but that the young men must not do so.

Kulbaran, when first he saw the Muraian, said, Ngeinyimma ameina? which means, "What is your name?" or "Who are you?" The Muraian replied, Ngainma Muraian, "I am Muraian"; Ngainma jerapo mubilabilia balera, "I dance corrobboree later on," and then he danced, lifting up his legs and arms and singing, Yai, Yai, as he did so. The old man Kulbaran said, onje mubilabilla yama, "which way another dance," or, "Is there any other dance?" and Muraian showed him some more. Then he said that all the dances that he showed Kulbaran were kumali; Jimmidauappa (a fish) kumali; Banjil (a fish) kumali; Kurnembo iwaiji (Goose egg) kumali, and so on, through the whole series.

The stones that we saw were representatives of the

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following:--Gunumaramilla (a yam); Kopereipi iwaiji (Emu egg); Kulijidbo (a yam); Kulori (a yarn); Kudjalinga (turtle); Kudjalinga iwaiji (turkey egg); Idabarabara; Jimeribunna (native companion); Purijiliji and Worki (lily root); Kopereipi (Emu); Eribinjori (large crocodile); Eribinjori iwaiji (crocodile eggs); Alberjiji (whistling duck); Mundebendo (Brush turkey); Kunjeama (plum); Kulekuli (Cat fish).

The sticks were representatives of the following

Kimberikara (Barramunda) Munburungun; Kulekuli (Cat fish); Tjunara (a yam) Jimidauappa (small fish); Eribinjori (large crocodile) Numereji (a snake); Murlappa (a yam); Brutpenniweir (Jabiru); Jungoan (snake); Kudjalinga (turtle); Mundebenbo (Brush turkey); Murlappa (a yam); Minjiweya (a yam); Banjil (a fish); Bararil (a small fish); Kimberikara (Barramundi).

In the case of both the stones and sticks there were, in many of them, several representatives of the same totemic animals and plants and also distinct stones and sticks representing males, females, and eggs of the same animals.

The stones of course can be passed on from one generation to another, but the sticks are naturally liable to decay and are renewed from time to time. In a climate such as that of the Alligator River district, it is difficult to preserve, intact, sticks that are continually being greased and painted and are hidden away, wrapped up in paper bark, in damp places, such as those in which the natives secrete them. They are very liable to be attacked by insects, such as boring beetles, and they must be periodically replaced by new ones. When they are used during any ceremony, such as the one we witnessed, the design is more or less rubbed off and, on each occasion,

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it is repainted. The same design is always used and must not apparently be varied. We several times saw serious consultations taking place amongst the old men as to the drawing of the design on a stick or stone. The white lines are put on with a very crude but effective paint brush, consisting simply of a little twig, about six inches long, one end of which is frayed with the teeth and then flattened out to form a small, thin disc about the size of a sixpenny bit. This is dipped into the white pipe clay which has been moistened with water so as to form a thin paste. It is held between the thumb and fingers, the handle of the brush lying in the palm of the hand in just the same way in which a white artist often holds a brush.

In addition to its function as an Intichiuma ceremony, the Muraian serves, just as the Engwura does amongst the Arunta tribe, as a finale to the initiation ceremonies, daring which older men are shown objects that, in many cases, they have never and, in some, but rarely seen. The same is true of the Engwura, when a series of ceremonies, with men wearing decorations and using ceremonial objects, such as Nurtungas and Waningas, are shown to the relatively younger men. The ceremony is supposed, in both cases, to make the men 'good,' using the word in its native sense; they must not growl or quarrel. After a man has passed through, or. rather, witnessed, the Muraian, he receives the special status name of Lekerungen, just as, in the Arunta, the men who have seen the Engwura are called Urliara. It also serves to enhance the importance of the old men and is of service to them in regard to their food supply because, whilst they can eat any of the animals or plants associated with the ceremony, no matter by whom they are captured, the younger men, even when they have seen the Muraian,

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must not touch anything secured by the old men and must also give the latter a share of any of the Muraian foods that they secure. Also, for some reason that the natives do not know, save that their arms and hands would become very sore if the rule were not carefully followed, the men who have seen the Muraian must, on no account, allow a dog to eat any remnant of their food,

I have previously referred to the handing down of the sacred stones and sticks. Two examples will serve to show how carefully their history is preserved. I n the case of the Emu-egg stone, tradition reports that it has been, in succession, in the possession of the following men: (1) Nauundel, who originally found it, (2) Nortmanitj, (3) Pwenguno, (5) Butja, (5) Nanilmango, (6) Nuburungillimaka, (7) Kingunaiya, (8) Yerimain, and (9) Narlinda, who now owns it.

In the case of an Eribinjori, or crocodile, stick, which the natives regarded as one of the most important, the history is still longer. It was owned in the first place by Kulbaran, who, when he became very old and unable to perform the ceremonies, gave it to (2) Midjail, his younger brother, after whom the following successively received it: (3) Numinbal, (4) Ungoreddi, (5) Alumbawerner, (6) Amunjureri, (7) Bulluoko, (8) Abringillimaka, (9) Ungowilla, (10) Nauukmawitch, (11) Pwenguno, (12) Pordjo, (13) Nauulmango, (14) Kingmanaia, (15) Kerauappa, (16) Naumarak, (17) Mantjiritj, (18) Yiraman, who died recently, and from whom it descended to (19) Miniamaka, its present holder.

In the Warrai tribe the name for totem is mumulbuk. They are divided amongst the classes. One group is associated with the two classes Ajumbitj-Appularan, the other with Appungerti-Auinmitj. Thus Ajumbitj-Appularan have the following, Bulta (eagle-hawk),

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Kinnimill (a yam), Gunbelli (small crocodile), Norquipito (red ochre), Bulp (pipe clay), Doito (stone axe), Deiurnu (kangaroo), Wairdmo (fire stick), Jin (leech), Gunnigunni (flying fox). Appungerti-Auinmitj have Murdukul (a fish), Yilli (swamp lily), Tji (a snake), Wit (water), Bera (large crocodile), Kuala (turtle), Niri (dog), Gani (night time), Wordjal (black plover), Ngurin (emu).

It will be noticed that there are, relatively, a large number of totemic groups associated with objects other than animals and plants, a feature in which this and other of the central tribes differ from the coastal tribes amongst whom, with very rare exceptions, the totemic names are those of edible objects.

Inasmuch as the totemic groups are divided between the two moieties of the tribe and a man must marry a woman who does not belong to his own moiety, it follows that the totemic groups are exogamic. The child belongs to a totemic group associated with its father's side of the tribe but not to his father's own totemic group. My informant told me that a leech man marries a fish woman and that their children are yam. A fish man marries a flying-fox woman and their children are leech. A flying-fox man marries a fish woman and their children are crocodile. A crocodile man marries a snake woman and their children are flying-fox. Unfortunately, I was unable to gain as complete and minute information as I should have liked. The Warrai tribe is now decadent, having been ruined by coming into contact With the mining fields, and it is always unsafe to rely implicitly upon information in regard to matters concerned with the organisation of a tribe derived from natives who are thus, more or less, demoralised. Dr. Howitt drew attention to the manner in which tribes had been obliged to modify their old customs in regard

{p. 194}

especially to marriage, in consequence of the decimation of their numbers. My informant, called Plainmur by the natives and "Doctor" by the white men, in reference to his former profession, was, however, an old man who was well acquainted with the ancient customs of his tribe, I also had the assistance of a peculiarly intelligent "boy" who spoke English well, so that, I think, the information, so far as it goes, is correct. When their old customs were in force the old man said that the Warrai people never killed their own totemic animal and that if he were to see anyone else killing it he would he angry and would ask him, Why have you killed my mumulbuk?

In the Waduman tribe the word for totem is Gwaiyan, though some natives pronounce it as if it were spelt Quoiyin or Quoiyan. The following is a list of totemic groups in this tribe. Mudbi (Barramunda fish); Ganbin (flying-fox); Kumerinji (emu); Inumbergo (male kangaroo); Undallo, (female kangaroo); Wallanja (goanna); Tjuril (turtle); Korondulmi (rainbow); Kunadjerri (white snake); Kului (red-bellied water snake); Tjala or Kunajeraru (cat-fish); Pingan (a bony fish); Tuaiin (a long-nosed fish); Kandaua (moon); Butbutbau or Kirriwuk (a bird, the coucal); Wallano (a yam) Miakka (a yam); Kulbijinman (a large venomous snake) Miyun (wild dog); Biauiak (a small bird); Wiyan (water); Bulliyan (eagle hawk); Mabilli (small wallaby); Kadmanning (a small hawk) Koallimilla (small turtle); Illaluban (carpet snake) Errimembo (a venomous snake); Ledi (grasshopper); five kinds of sugar bag called respectively Quoiyin, from the top of a tree (the equivalent of Mormo in the Kakadu); Gnedbo (a small bag also from high up); Luerga (from the base of ant hills); Eramalgo or Eramergo (from dead limbs); Dielba or Kulmldjin (from the tops of trees).

{p. 195}

In this tribe, as also In the Ngainman, Mudburra, and Billianera tribes,[1] the descent of the class name is in the father's line, that of the totem in the mother's, with the result that the totemic groups are distributed amongst the classes, the same totem group occurring on both sides of the tribe. A man must not marry a woman of his own totem. The following examples of individuals in our camp will serve to illustrate the matter. M. stands for male and f for female.

Genealogical Chart

[1. This is often pronounced as if it were spelt Bulinara.]

{p. 196}


Genealogical Chart

In addition to the main totem each individual has one or more, usually two, accessory totems. The main one Is that associated with the totemic group into which he is born. The others are given to him when he is initiated. He is first of all, during the initiation ceremonies) told

{p. 197}

his main totem, which is that of his mother, and, at a later period, the accessory totems. If you ask a Waduman native what is his Gwaiyan he will tell you his main one. He does not usually without further questioning mention the accessory ones, the significance of which I could not find out. As an example of these we may take the oldest Uanai man in Table 4. His name was Iblongwa and his main totem was Eramalgo, a sugar bag; his accessory ones are Kandauak (moon) and Tjuril (turtle). His father's main totem was Tjala (cat-fish), with accessory ones Gnedbo and Luerga, two kinds of sugar bag. His mother's main totem was Eramalgo, with accessory ones Kandauak and Tjuril, which happen to be identical with his, though this is not a matter of necessity. As he told us, when he entered his mother, he was Eramalgo; the other two were given to him later when he was initiated. The different way in which a native regards his main and his accessory totems may be seen from the fact that

Iblongwa will not cut Eramalgo out of a tree himself, but will cat it if it be given to him by another man. On the other hand, he will kill and eat Tjuril freely. In the same way, a Quoiyin man will not cut Quoiyin out of a tree himself, but will eat it if it be given to him. The Urella man of the Kulbijinman totem in the first table, whose name was Waljakula, told us that he would not himself kill the snake Kulbijinman, but would eat it if it had been killed by another man and given to him. On the other hand, he has Biauiak (a small bird) as an accessory totem, and this he kills and eats freely.

The different totemic groups perform ceremonies for the increase of the totemic animal or plant. The name of these ceremonies is Tjutju, which is quite distinct from the name Pudaueru, applied to the sacred totemic ceremonies, or from Warangin, the name of the ordinary

{p. 198}

corrobboree. The Tjutju ceremonies are the equivalents of the Intichiuma in the Arunta tribe.

The head man of each totemic group is called Tjungunni. If he dies the next eldest brother succeeds to the post, and so on through the brothers, including amongst these the father's brothers' sons. If there are none of these alive then the eldest son succeeds. That is, for example, if there be three brothers and the eldest dies, the office of Tjungunni does not descend to his son, but to the elder of the two survivors. If both of them die then it reverts to the eldest son of the first named, even if, in years, he be younger than a son of the second brother. Being the son of an elder brother, he is the "elder brother" of all the three brothers' sons, no matter what his actual age may be.

When performing the ceremony of Tjutju the men of the group paint and dance, the others watching them. After the ceremony of any particular totemic group has been performed the men of all other groups go out and gather some of the animal or plant. If, for example, it be Eramalgo, the latter, after being brought into camp, is taken to the Eramalgo Tjungunni, the men saying, Me Eramalgo, "here is Eramalgo." He replies, Ma angui, "give it, I eat." It is handed over to him and he puts it in a pitchi, mixes it with water, eats a little himself, and hands it over to the other men, saying, Nun burri, "I have finished." After this they may all eat it. So, in the same way, a flying-fox man will eat a little of the animal, and hands the rest over to the other men who do not belong to the totemic group.

If a man of any totemic group dies, the animal or plant is tabu to all members of that totemic group until after the performance of a small ceremony called Orkbau. The brother of the dead person brings the totemic animal or

{p. 199}

into camp. During the ceremony the members of the totemic group are painted with red ochre. A fire is made and the Tjungunni man passes the body of the animal or the plant, if, for example, it be a yam, through the smoke arising from the fire, after which it may be eaten. All members of the totemic group must put their heads into the smoke of the fire in which the animal is cooked.

In the Mudburra tribe, whose country adjoins that of the Waduman, the word for totem is Ngalu, and the head man of each group is called Malugurni. The descent of the totem, as in the Waduman tribe, is counted in the female line. The following table of one family in camp will illustrate this:--

Genealogical Chart

The Mudburra natives also perform the Tjutju ceremonies to increase the totemic animal or plant. After securing the latter the men who do not belong to the totemic group bring it up to the head man and hand it to him, the old man saying, Ma, punungalu, "give it, I eat." He takes a little and then hands it back, saying, Aidonok berri, "I have finished."

The Pine Creek or Wulwullam tribe is now decadent, having for many years, like the Warrai tribe, been in contact with the mining population. One of its oldest

{p. 200}

men, who could go back to the early days, told me that the totemic groups were divided between the moieties, and that the totem descended in the father's line. A Kangaroo man married a Barramunda woman, and their children were Kangaroo; a Sugar-bag man married a Rain woman, and their children were Sugar-bag.

Amongst the Melville Islanders the totemic system is somewhat different from that of any tribes on the mainland. The word for totem is Pukui. If you say to a man, Inta ananunga pukui, he will reply, Ingaga, which means white cockatoo, Irrungabi, crocodile, or whatever may be the name of his totem. On the other hand, there is a special name applied to the members of the various totemic groups which is quite distinct from that of the totemic animal or plant. These curious double names are as follows:--





Crocodile man






Mullet man






Turtle man






Rain man



Wild dog



Wild dog man






Wood man



White cockatoo



White cockatoo man



Sea bird



Sea bird man






Pandanus man



Blood wood tree



Blood wood tree man



Amongst these totemic groups there are three pairs, indicated by the numbers (1), (2), and (3). These are regarded respectively as being what is called amandinni, that is, mates. Crocodile and mullet are mates; turtle and rain; wild dog and wood. The members of groups

{p. 201}

that are amandinni are supposed to belong to the same "skin," or pukui, and may not intermarry. Any man can marry any woman, provided she does not belong to his pukui.

Alligator and mullet marry cockatoo, blood wood, sea bird, turtle, wild dog, wood, Pandanus, rain.

Wild dog and wood marry crocodile, cockatoo, blood wood, sea bird, turtle, mullet, Pandanus, rain.

Turtle and rain marry crocodile, cockatoo, blood wood, sea bird, wild dog, wood, mullet, Pandanus.

Cockatoo, blood wood, sea bird, and Pandanus have no amandinni and so may marry anyone save a member of their own totemic group.

The descent of the totem is strictly in the mother's line.

There is something very abnormal about the Iwaidja tribe at Port Essington, which is evidently closely allied, in some respects, to the Melville Islanders. As in the latter there are local groups. My information was gained, with the assistance of Mr. R. J. Cooper, from Port Essington natives who knew their own and the Melville Island systems. There are three divisions in the tribe, with totemic groups attached to each. These three divisions again refer to local groups, as do those on Melville Island and also those amongst the Kakadu tribe, to which, in other points, the Iwaidja natives are closely allied. Their names and the totemic groups associated with them are as follows:--

GROUP 1.--Munbulkitj.



Barramunda men


Goanna (lizard)


Goanna man




Crocodile man




Mullet man



{p. 202}

GROUP 2.--Manjerojelli.

Wild dog


Wild dog man




Wood man



GROUP 3.--Manjerowuli.

Jungle fowl


Jungle fowl man




Turtle man




Rain man


Blood wood tree


Blood wood tree man




Shark man


Sea bird


Sea bird man




Cockatoo man



It will be seen that, as in the Melville Island system, the totemic animal or plant has one name, the member of the group another. The Iwaidja word for totem is Wailar.

Members of the Munbulkitj and Manjerojelli groups marry those of Manjerowuli, and vice versâ. It will be noticed that in each case individuals belonging to certain totemic groups carry as their totemic name, if it can be called so, that of one of the local tribal divisions, Munbulkitj, Manjerojelli, or Manjerowuli. For example, Barramunda men are called Munbulkitj, wood men are called Manjerojelli, and turtle men are called Manjerowuli. The natives were quite clear on this point.

The descent of the totem is in the female line. One of our informants was a cockatoo man, his mother was cockatoo and his father crocodile. His mother's brother was also cockatoo, and is married to a crocodile woman. They have a daughter who is crocodile and has been

{p. 203}

promised as wife, by her father, to the first-named cockatoo man. In this case the mother of the man and her brother have the same father but not the same mother. Another of our informants was a cockatoo man, his mother was cockatoo and his father a wood man.

The descent and marriage may be indicated as in the following table:--

Genealogical Chart

The Munbulkitj woman of the crocodile totem is the proper wife of the Manjerowuli man of the cockatoo totem.

It would appear as if very considerable modifications were taking place amongst the northern coastal tribes in regard to their totemic systems, just as, also, in connection with their social organisation. Much the same thing happened on the opposite side of the continent where, in Victoria, a local organisation took the place of the normal class system, and where, also, amongst the most modified tribes, the old totemic system largely disappeared, its former existence being indicated by the persistence of a few, perhaps only one or two, totemic group names. In the Iwaidja tribe, at the present day, the old class system has been replaced by a local organisation, the totemic groups are very unequally

{p. 204}

distributed amongst the local groups, and the totemic group names are evidently disappearing. Munbulkitj has only one totemic name and that is common to two groups, goanna and mullet; Manjerojelli has one, Manjerowuli has three.

It is practically too late to study the totemic systems amongst tribes such as the Larakia, whose members have been for long in contact with settlements. Amongst the Larakia my informant told me that the word for totem was Unga; that originally every individual belonged to a totemic group; that a man of one token could not marry a woman of the same, and that the children took the totemic name of the father.

In the Worgait tribe each individual may apparently be associated with more than one totemic group. My informant told me that he belonged to the frog, shark, and sugar-bag totem groups, and that he had inherited them from his father. The first was his main totem, the other two, as he said, "came afterwards." His mother was water-snake. A man may not marry a woman of the same totemic name as himself. If a stranger comes into a camp he is asked, Ninik kuna koga, "What is your totem?" If, for example, he be a snake (or yam) man, he will reply, Naidja wunga (or wila) koga, that is, "the snake (or yam) totem." Further still, my informant told me that if the stranger was an old man and told him that his totem was frog, he, the younger man, would call him boppa, the same name that he applies to his father. If, on the other hand, he belonged to the water-snake totemic group, he would call him kukka, the same name that he applies to his mother's brother. There is, so far as I could find out, no restriction in regard to eating the totemic animal or plant.

{p. 205}

in the Djauan tribe the totem groups are associated with the sub-classes, the various pairs of the latter that are known as "mates," or kumaranbun, having totem groups in common. Thus Ngaritjban and Pungaringba have pelican, kangaroo, and goanna Pulainba and Palieringba have sugar-bag and lily Waidba and Kamara have plum[1] and snake (kurk) Kungilla and Wamut have crocodiles (kangi, the larger, and togal, the smaller) and snake (tjural). A man may marry a woman of any totem group provided she belongs to the proper sub-class, and as the totem groups are strictly divided amongst these it follows that a man cannot marry a woman of the same totemic name as himself. The word for totem is lunga and descent is counted in the male line. My informant was a Wamut man of a snake (tjural) totem; he was married to a Pungaringba woman of the goanna totem and his children were Kungilla and snake (tjural).

In the Mungarai tribe the totem groups are associated with the sub-classes, the native term for totem being Namaragua. Each totemic group has a head man called Tjugeanandu. My chief informant, an old man named Wallungwarra, gave me the following list of totemic groups, but it is probable that there are still more; these, however, were all that he, and two other men with him, could recollect:--

Bat (wallalka), black snake (djungwitj), cat-fish (warba), small crocodile (walbian), crow (waiwagmin), euro (kangilauro), goanna (djerkain), hawk (kamannin), kangaroo (gaauwi), lily (godiak), frilled lizard (wadidji), native companion (dagmin), opossum (widjurt), pelican (abaiya), porcupine (mullulberri), waterplant (ngarait), rain (ngaugo), a non-venomous snake (ngabandi), a

[1. The fruit of a tree, Buchanania nangoides.]

{p. 206}

poison snake (mimain), water snake (nanjugo), sugar-bag (ngauwap), native turkey (tjambirrina), long-tailed wallaby (walligeru), wallaby or paddy melon (mabiling), dark wallaby (ngirimu), rock wallaby (wunarungun), wind (wailulu).

The groups are divided amongst the sub-classes as indicated in the following list:--

All rain

men and women are


All paddy melon

 "           "


All water plant

 "           "


All snake

 "           "


All goanna

 "           "


All turkey

 "           "


All cat-fish

 "           "


All crocodile

 "           "


All frilled lizard

 "           "


All small hawk

 "           "


All native companion

 "           "


All poison snake

 "           "


All euro

 "           "


All brush-tailed wallaby

 "           "


All opossum

 "           "


All dingo

 "           "


All sugar-bag

 "           "


All plain wallaby

 "           "


All porcupine

 "           "


All bat

 "           "


All lily

 "           "


All pelican

 "           "


All black snake

 "           "


All kangaroo

 "           "


All wind

 "           "


All rock wallaby

 "           "



A remarkable feature of the totemic system of this tribe is that while, as usual, a man must marry a woman belonging to a totemic group different from his own, the children pass into one which is neither the same as that of their father or mother, but is associated with the subclass to which they belong on the father's side of the

{p. 207}

tribe. The following list indicates a certain number of the marriage arrangements so far as the totem groups are concerned and those Into which the children pass:--

A Ngapalieri man of the water-plant totem marries a Nakomara woman of the paddy-melon totem and their children are Ngabullan and poison snake.

A Ngapalieri man of the rain-totem marries a Nakomara woman of the rock-wallaby totem and their children are Ngabullan and Euro.

A Ngangiella man of the plain-wallaby totem marries a Ngabullan woman of the euro totem and their children are Tjabijin and opossum. '

A Nakomara man of the paddy-melon totem marries a Ngapalieri woman of the brush-tailed wallaby totem and their children are Ngaburella and porcupine.

A Ngaburella man of the porcupine totem marries a Ngaritjbellan woman of the frilled-lizard totem and their children are Nakomara and small hawk.

A Ngangiella man of the goanna totem marries a Ngabullan woman of the turkey totem and their children are Tjabijin and lily.

A Ngabullan man of the sugar-bag totem marries a Ngangiella woman of the crocodile totem and their children are Ngapalieri and rain.

A Tjabijin man of the pelican totem marries a Ngapungari woman of the cat-fish totem and their children are Ngangiella and black snake.

A Ngaburella man of the kangaroo totem marries a Ngaritjbellan woman of the wind totem and their children are Nakomara and paddy melon.

A Tjabijin man of the dingo totem marries a Ngapungari woman of the native companion totem and their children are Ngangiella and plain wallaby.

The same curious system is apparently present in the Yungman Tribe into which, however, I had very little opportunity of inquiring. The totem groups appear to be associated with the sub-classes and the children of necessity belong to a group associated with the father's Side of the tribe but with a sub-class to which he does

{p. 208}

not belong--the sub-class of his father and of his children. Thus, for example, a man of the dingo totem marries a sugar-bag woman and the children belong to the rain totem. The Nullakun term for totem is mungaiini.

These two tribes appear to differ from their neighbours in having their totem groups divided, not between the moieties, but the sub-classes, so that it is impossible for a child to have the same totem as either its father or its mother. The Mungarai and Yungman are in contact, on the one hand, with tribes such as the Djauan, which has been already described, and, on the other, with the Nullakun and Mara. The organisation of the Djauan, so far as the class system is concerned, is identical with that of the Mungarai and Yungman, and yet the totemic system is practically the same as that of the Mara and Nullakun tribes, from both of which it differs radically in regard to its class organisation. In the Djauan tribe the totem groups are divided between the sub-classes in such a way that those to which parents and children belong have them in common and the descent of the totem is strictly paternal. In the Mara and Nullakun the same is true, though sub-class names are not present. My informant in the former tribe was a Mumbali man and his totem, the native word for which is Urarakammo, was a snake called daual. His father's totem was daual and so, also, was that of his children. His wife was a Purdal woman and her totem was Tjarukual or Euro; his mother was a Kuial woman of the wordabil or goanna totem. His son must marry a Kuial woman of the wordabil totem. Each totem group has its head man who is called Yunguan.

So, again, in the Nullakun tribe descent is counted the direct male line and the totems are divided between

{p. 209}

the classes. Thus, the children of a kulakulungini, or rainbow man, are kulakulungini; those of a nanguru, or large crocodile man, are nanguru, and those of a janambu, or small crocodile man, are janambu. The native word for totem is mus, and each group has its head man, who is called Kujungowangeri.

{p. 210}

Next: Chapter V: Sacred Sticks, Bull-Roarers, and Ceremonial Objects