Page:Native Tribes of South-East Australia.djvu/245

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MARRIAGE RULES

Marriage in these tribes was commonly by betrothal of a girl often when a mere infant. The actual ceremony of betrothal is by the male cousin[1] of the girl taking her to the camp of her future husband, and seating her there at his back, and close to him; who, however, according to their etiquette, takes no notice of her. She is painted and decorated with feathers in her hair. After a time her conductor takes the feathers from her hair and fastens them in that of the man, and then leads her back to the camp of her father. The feathers remain in the man's hair for about a day.

The future husband, after this, sends presents of fruit, game, or other food to her, and she goes occasionally to eat it at his camp. When her father thinks she is old enough to be married, he informs her betrothed and sends the girl out to gather food with the other women. The man having painted himself, and taken his weapons, follows her, accompanied by all the unmarried men in the camp of the same class and totem as himself to help him. When they find her, he goes forward, and takes her by the hand, telling her that he has come for her. The women at once surround her and try to prevent him from taking her. She cries, and tries to get away from him, and if she does not like him she bites his wrist, thus refusing him. If she does this he throws her from him and leaves her. After a few days, he again tries her, and if he can prevent her from biting, his wrist, or if she does not do so, he calls the men to help him, and while they hold the women, he takes her away to his camp. The next day he goes out to hunt, and in his absence the men who had gone with him to take her, and who are of the same class and totem as himself, go to his camp and have access to her as a right. They and her husband are all in the relation of Durki to her. One may infer that this custom is a vestigiary one, indicating a time when there was group-marriage in this tribe, and that the relation of Durki is analogous to that of Noa in the Dieri tribe. Indeed, such customs may explain the jus primae noctis, which Lord Avebury truly explains as expia-

  1. This cousin is the mother's brother's son or the father's sister's son.