Page:Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 1 (2nd edition).djvu/46

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26
Description of the Natives of King George's Sound.

across the forehead and down the cheek bones. The women put on the white colour in large blotches.

Painting the body, with the natives of this part of the country, is not, as in New South Wales, a sign of war. It is considered by them merely as an ornament, and is never neglected at their dances, or when they visit neighbouring tribes. It is a very general practice at those seasons of the year when they can procure fat from fish or animals; but there are some individuals, we have remarked, who very seldom use it.

They have the same practice amongst them as at Sydney, of cutting gashes on their body, and raising an elevated cicatrix. It is done chiefly on the shoulders and chest; and is both a distinguishing mark for different tribes, and an honorary distinction. The septum of the nose is also perforated, through which a feather or other substance is worn. Ornaments of dress, however, are not considered as marking the man of authority, for they are only worn by the young single men. The cicatrized wounds on the body are the marks of distinction, and even these are tribual more than personal.

Every individual of the tribe, when travelling or going to a distance from their encampment, carries a fire stick, for the purpose of kindling fires, and in winter they are scarcely ever without one under their cloaks, for the sake of heat. It is generally a cone of Banksia grandis, which has the property of keeping ignited for a considerable time. Rotten bark, or touchwood, is also used for the same purpose. They are very careful to preserve this, and will even kindle a fire (by friction, or otherwise) expressly to revive it.

Their weapons consist of spears of two or three kinds, which are propelled with a throwing-stick (mearu). They have also a knife, stone-hammer, and a curl, or a curved flat weapon similar to the boomerang of the New South Wales natives[1].

The spears (keit) are made of a long slender stick about the thickness of a finger, of a heavy, tough quality. They are scraped down to a very fine point, and are hardened and straightened by the assistance of fire. Those intended for hunting and fishing, called maungull, are barbed with a piece of wood fastened on very neatly and firmly with kangaroo sinew (peat), and the ligature covered with gum obtained from the grass tree[2]. They are about eight feet in length. The war spears are longer and heavier, and are armed, for five or six inches from the point, with pieces of sharp stones fixed in gum, resembling the teeth of a saw, the stones increasing in size, the smallest being at the point. Each man carries from two to five spears.


  1. For a further description and representations of the above-mentioned weapons, see King’s Australia, vol. i. p. 355, vol. ii. p. 138, et seq.
  2. Xanthorrhœa.