Howitt and Fison Papers


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XM237_ICDMS_lowres A W Howitt Australian Group Relationships (paper)



13used by the tribes of the Eastern half of Australia, point to thisconclusion. The same argument may be reasonably extended to the whole of the continent.

The question then suggests itself, what may have been the origin of the pirrauru marriage of the Dieri? We find a starting point, inthis inquiry, in the two exogamous classes, whose action prevents the marriage of brother and sister. The next step onwards is their division into four sub-classes, thereby possibly preventing the marriage of parent with child, followed, in the northern central tribes, by a further division into eight sub-classes.

It is an accepted fact, that the numerous restrictions of marriage, in the Australian tribes, have been intentionally made, to prevent the union of those who are, considered to be, "too near flesh". I must point out here that there is no evidence whatever that the Australian tribes have any knowledge of any injurious effect produced by interbreeding.

If we reverse the method, and trace back the successive changes we shall find that the division into eight sub-classes is still proce-ding [sic] in the southern Arunta. There are apparently only four sub-classes, Panunga, Bulthara, Purula, and Kumara, but further inquiry reveals the fact that, for instance, a Panunga man is not allowed to marry any and every Purulawoman. The latter are all divided into two groups, the members of one of whom he may marry, whereas the others are strictly forbidden to him (1). The divisions are there, but have not yet [become - crossed out] received names.

We may concieve [that - crossed out] the original segmentation to have been brought about, not by revolutionary, but evolutionary means, within the Undivided Commune.

I picture the two segements as having group-marriage, controlled by a prohibition of brother anh [sic] sister marriage, and the unsegmented whole with group-marriage, including that of brother and sister.

Looking backwards into the unknown depths of time, farbeyond the conditions just postualted, we may suspect a period of general promiscuity between the sexes, and not that "sanctity of individual marriage", which if I am not in error, is Mr Lang’s theory.

(1). Messrs Spencer and Gillen. The Northern Tribes. p97.

Last edit 4 months ago by ALourie
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