Page:Dawson - Australian aborigines (1900).djvu/100

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84
AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES.


permitted, and that when anything contrary to strict propriety was attempted, it was instantly stopped, and the offenders reprimanded, and threatened with punishment if it were repeated.

Since the aborigines have been gathered together under the immediate care of Government officials, and other protectors, the korroboræ is discountenanced; and, as little or nothing in the form of amusement is substituted, the weary monotony, restraint, and discipline of these tutelary establishments have a very depressing effect on the minds and health of the natives, and impel them to seek relief in the indulgence of intoxicating drinks. And who can blame them?

Another amusement, called 'Tarratt' in the Kuurn kopan noot language, and 'Wittchim' in the Chaap wuurong and Peek whuurong languages, consists in stalking a feather, in imitation of hunting an emu. The feather is tied to the end of a long stick, which is held by a man in the centre of a large circle of natives. A man, who has dressed himself in korroboræ costume, enters the circle with shield and boomerang, and moves round the circle for fifteen or twenty minutes with his eye upon the feather, now crouching, and then running, in imitation of stalking game, and finishes by stooping and touching the feather. His place is taken by another, and so on, until four or five competitors have gone through the same movements. The ceremony is conducted with so much gravity, that if a spectator should laugh, or in any way ridicule the actor, the latter would be entitled to throw his boomerang at him with impunity. The chiefs then decide who has performed best, and they present him with the feather. In the evening, after several korroboræ dances have been gone through, the winner of the feather, who has kept out of sight, comes into the circle in korroboræ costume, and by order of the chiefs repeats his movements round the feather. He then presents it to the other competitors in the game, out of compliment, and with a view to remove any feeling of jealousy.

Games are held usually after the great meetings and korroboræs. Wrestling is a favourite game, but is never practised in anger. Women and children are not allowed to be present. The game is commenced by a man who considers himself to be a good wrestler challenging any one of his own or another tribe. His challenge being accepted, the wrestlers rub their hands, chests, and backs with wood ashes, to prevent their hold from slipping; they then clasp each other and struggle, but do not trip with their feet, as that is not considered a fair test of strength. After one of them has been thrown three times, he retires. Other two men then engage, and so on. When all competitors have had a trial, the