Page:Aboriginesofvictoria02.djvu/340

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312
APPENDIX:

engaged in the struggle, seeing the child, took him up, and held him out to the blacks at the other side of the river. The father, on observing the child, seemed almost frantic, and held out his arms eagerly towards the child, making at the same time signs for it to be given to him. The Maori pretended to be willing to restore the child, and entered the river with it, at the same time carefully concealing his tomahawk, making signs to the black to meet him. The man eagerly waded into the river and swam across, and when he got within reach of the Maori, the treacherous monster immediately brained him with the tomahawk, and the body, with that of the child, which was also killed, was left to whirl down the seething waters, a sad return for parental love and devotion.

When a male child was born, a name was given him referring in general to the locality where his advent took place. On attaining puberty, a second name was conferred; and on arriving at manhood, the third and final one, by which he would be after designated. Many tedious and in some cases painful ceremonies had, however, to be passed through before the young man was duly qualified to take or steal a wife, set up on his own account, and earn for himself a reputation for good or evil as a brave and determined warrior or a mean and despicable coward.

All the Aborigines along the coast from York's Peninsula in South Australia to Western Australia are not only circumcised but are mutilated also in the manner mentioned by Mr. Eyre.[1] The rite of circumcision has, no doubt, been perpetuated by the Malays, who, in days past, visited the Australian coast in search of the trepang or sea-slug, an article prized as much by them as the edible swallows'-nests by the Chinese; and the other practice was perhaps introduced by some Aboriginal Solomon to prevent the too rapid propagation and thereby starvation of the race; and it certainly is surprising how, under the circumstances, there are any children at all. The rite is supposed to be practised when the boy is about seven years old; but I have known some who had managed to evade it till about fifteen, but were then pounced upon; and as the operation was performed with either a sharp stone or shell, it must have been both a painful and critical affair for the patient. During the last year previous to arriving at manhood, the unfortunate novice had to live a solitary life away from the tribe, procure his own living, and not come near any place where the women were; no doubt to teach him habits of self-dependence, and leave him some green spot for memory to dwell upon when, in after years, he would be harassed by the cares consequent on being a family man.

About Adelaide, Encounter Bay, and the neighbouring localities, the young man was distinguished during the last year of his novitiate by being plentifully besmeared, from head to foot, with red-ochre and grease mixed, which gave him the advantage of not only being impervious to the attacks of mosquitos, gnats, &c., but of being duly advertised as a marrying man. Both men and women were marked on the back, shoulders, chest, and belly with raised ridges

  1. "Finditur usque ad urethram à parte inferâ penis."