Page:Aboriginesofvictoria01.djvu/30

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xxii
INTRODUCTION.

tribe; and if his career should be marked by any striking event, he will then receive a fitting designation, and his old name will be perhaps forgotten. Or, if he has had conferred on him, on arriving at manhood, a name similar in sound to that of any one who dies, it is changed by his tribe.

There is no kind of formality used when a child is named. Up to the age of two or three years it is called "child," or "girl," and then, when it can walk, the name that has lived in the memory of the father or mother, or the people of the tribe, is given to it.

The Rev. Mr. Taplin refers to a curious custom. It appears that in some families it is usual for the father or mother to bear the name of a child, and in such cases the termination arni for father, or annike for mother, is added.

Nick-names are given; and the natives are often peculiarly happy in choosing designations that aptly describe eccentricities, peculiarities of face, or ways of walking or speaking.

As soon as the whites settled in Victoria, the Aborigines gave nick-names to the invaders, and some of these have been preserved.[1]

It is said that in Gippsland the word Bungil is one of respect, and is equivalent to "Mister." It is borne only by the old men.

The ceremonies attending the coming of age of young men and young women are in Victoria simple, and easy to be borne, compared to those which young persons have to submit to in other parts of the continent. The mysteries of Tib-but and Mur-rum Tur-uk ur-uk one can regard as merely painless follies, after perusing Mr. Schürmann's descriptions of the rites as practised by the Parnkalla—where a youth of the age of fourteen or fifteen enters the first degree, and is enrolled amongst the Warrara; after the lapse of one or two years the second, when he is circumcised, and becomes a Pardnapa; and the last when his skin is scarred, and he is named afresh, and made a Wilyalkinje.

Mr. Samuel Gason's accounts of the tortures that have to be endured by the rising generation at Cooper's Creek would lead the reader to suppose that the Aboriginal race in that area must soon become extinct. They are horrible; and greatly contrast the comparatively harmless exercises of the natives of Gippsland when a youth is made Jerryale.

The interesting descriptions given of these ceremonies, as practised in the central parts of Australia, near the mouth of the Murray, in various parts of New South Wales, near Sydney, and on the Macleay and Nambucca Rivers, are exceedingly valuable. The practices are different not merely in details, but in essentials.

Women are not allowed to witness the savage scenes attendant on these ceremonies; and if one intruded on the occasion of initiating youths to manhood, she would probably be killed at once. They are forbidden to see or hear anything connected with the events, and indeed it would be impossible for the men to continue the tortures if women were present. Warriors shed tears, and evince pity at certain stages; and women would, by their weeping and wailing,


  1. See Vocabulary compiled by C. J. Tyers, Esq., in 1842.