Page:Native Tribes of South-East Australia.djvu/486

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460
CH.
NATIVE TRIBES OF SOUTH-EAST AUSTRALIA

off one hand of the corpse, or both hands, soon after death, which they wrapped in grass and dried. A string of twisted opossum fur was attached to it, so that it could be hung
FIG. 26.—THE BRET OK DEAD HAND.
round the neck and worn in contact with the bare skin under the left arm. It was carried by the parent, child, brother, or sister. The belief of the Kurnai was that at the approach of an enemy the hand would push or pinch the wearer. Such a signal being experienced, the hand would be taken from the neck and suspended in front of the face, the string being held between the finger and thumb. The person would then say, "Which way are they coming?" If the hand remained at rest, the question would be again put, but now facing another way, and so on. The response being that the hand vibrated in some direction, and it was thence that the danger was coming. My informants have told me that the swinging of the Bret was sometimes so violent that the string broke. In one case which I heard of, the Bret did not respond to its wearer, who said to it, "Munju! Munju! Wunman? Munju! tunamun nganju, brappanu mabanju," that is, "There! There! Where? There! Speak me to (or) throw dingo-to." That is, he would throw it to the wild dogs.

The Theddora believed that the dead do not always remain in the grave, but come out at times. This accounts for their graves being dug like cylindrical pits with a side chamber, in which the corpse was placed, blocked in with pieces of wood. An account of a burial by some of the Theddora, which was reported to me, and which I verified by