Page:Australian race - vol 1.djvu/350

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289
THE MOUTH OF THE DE GREY RIVER.

grass seeds, acacia seeds, mangrove nuts, a sort of bean, and white ants. Seeds are prepared by grinding between two stones, the meal being eaten raw, or after being made into a flat cake baked in the ashes. They are also sometimes boiled in a conch shell, a mode of cookery very rarely practised in Australia. Macgillivray, however, in his Voyage of the Rattlesnake, vol. 2, p. 113, mentions paste being cooked in a large shell on Yorke's Peninsula; and Trench, in his Account of the Settlement of Port Jackson, says that the natives in that locality boiled water in oyster shells for certain purposes. With respect to food there are many restrictions. Children as usual may eat anything, but the males of sixteen, after passing through the ordeal which is undergone before they are allowed to assume the rank of young men, are forbidden the use of about half of the common articles of food. The term applied to these restrictions is jadgee and the period of this enforced abstinence is called jadgeenunty. It continues until the beard is well grown, and is removed by a friendly hand smearing the face and breast of the faster with one of the forbidden articles. Voluntary fasting is a symbol of sorrow with them, and after a death in the tribe the relatives of the deceased abstain for long periods from meat. This fast is brought to an end by some one touching the lips of the abstainers with meat, who thereupon wail and cry for some minutes and then gorge with flesh. Persons who have been absent when a relative died are not allowed to speak on their return to camp until they have gone through the ceremony of naman, or mulkari-cob; that is, they have spears thrown at them from a distance of twenty yards, which they generally manage to ward off with their shields. On some of these occasions lances or clubs are used at close quarters instead of spears. After this they talk loudly of the deceased, utter yells of grief, and the ceremony is over. The amount of grief displayed is regulated by the nearness of relationship, and there is no doubt of a general prevalence in our tribes of the custom of holding every man answerable