inflicted for their breach, by any tribal authority, individual
or collectives. But these laws are obeyed because the native
has been taught from his earliest childhood, that their infraction
will be followed by some supernatural punishments personal
to himself. Take for instance the universal law of mutual
avoidance of each other by the man and his wife's mother.
I know of no rule which is more implicitly obeyed [or foll- crossed out]
and I know [if no tribal punishments for its disregard. only one tribe in which any punishment follows a breach -crossed out]. The universal
[In the one (see p-) the man was compelled to leave his wife who returned to her parents- crossed out].
beliefs that some punishment of a magical nature will follow,
such as that the hair will permanently turn grey. The nearest
approach to a personal punishment is the practice of
the Coast Murring. In that tribe the rule was that if
a man and his wife’s mother touched each other, even
accidentally, or even if her shadow fell across him,
[he wo- crossed out] his wife would leave him and go back to her parents
while he himself must leave the district. This rule of avoidance [Such a case as - crossed out]
[this - crossed out] would properly come within the statement made
by the late Mr E M Curr in his work "The Australian Race"
where he says: "The power which enforces custom in our tribes
is for the most part an impersonal one." [According- crossed out]

This "impersonal" authority must have either been public
opinion or a supernatural sanction. According to
Mr Curr it is "education", that is to say, a blackfellow is
educated from infancy in the belief that departure from
the customs of his tribe is invariably followed by one, at
least, of many possible evils, such as becoming prematurely
grey, being afflicted with opthalmia, skin eruptions or sickness,
but above all that it exposes the offender to the danger of death
from sorcery (2). This is undoubtedly true as to such
a case as that of the "mother in law"; as to a breach of the
rule that a novice must not receive food from the hand
of a woman (Kurnai) or speak in the presence of one without
covering his mouth with his hand or the corner of his
rug (Coast Murring), but it does not account for the

Notes and Questions

Nobody has written a note for this page yet

Please sign in to write a note for this page