Page:Native Tribes of South-East Australia.djvu/580

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554
CH.
NATIVE TRIBES OF SOUTH-EAST AUSTRALIA

The joking was now recommenced, the novices being told, "Now we are going to catch some fish—yah!" and other such sayings as we moved down to the creek, crossed its course amongst dense masses of tall sharp-edged sedges, from the flower stems of which spear-points were formerly made, and followed down the valley till the old men found a pool which would suit their purpose for the last ceremony before returning to the new camp.

Although it was now between ten and eleven o'clock, the sun had only just peeped over the high mountain-side of the valley into which we had descended, and shone through the tall mountain ash and stringy-bark trees which clothed it. Although the hill-sides were sunny and warm where we sat down to rest, the bottom of the valley was still in deep shadow, and dank with the moisture of the night's rain.

Another important ceremony had now to be performed before the final one of which the men had jokingly said that they were going to "catch fish." While Gunjerung and his section of the party rested by a fire, which they had lit, and the Kabos and the novices rested by another, which they lighted with the fire brought from the Talmaru, Yibai-malian and Brupin prepared for the next ceremony. Some of the men under their direction prepared a new stock of bark-fibre decorations, while others dug a grave. There was now a discussion as to the way in which it was to be done. Brupin said that it must be dug in the manner in which the body is buried in a sitting position, with the knees drawn up and the arms across the chest, but Yibai said that as he was to be buried, he would have the grave made as in the case where the body was to be laid out at length on its back. Two men therefore set to work to excavate it with digging-sticks in the friable granitic soil, while he went off to superintend the costuming of the other actors.

Sheets of bark were again beaten into fleeces of fibre, and we dressed up six performers, this time completely covering them from head to foot, so that not even a glimpse of their faces could be seen. Four of them were attached to each other by a cord of stringy-bark fibre fastened to a tuft left on the back of the head of the first, the cord then