Page:Native Tribes of South-East Australia.djvu/708

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682
CH.
NATIVE TRIBES OF SOUTH-EAST AUSTRALIA

The most important messages sent by the Dieri to neighbouring tribes are those relating to disputes between them. For such purposes women are chosen, and if possible such women as belong to the tribe to which the embassy, if it may be so called, is sent. Women are chosen in such a case for two reasons: first, because they are going to a tribe in which they have near relations; and second, because it would be less likely that they would be treacherously made away with than men.

Forty years ago these women were usually the wives of Headmen of the Murdus (totems), and occasionally one of the wives of the principal Headman, Jalina-piramurana, was among them.

The women are accompanied by their Pirraurus, for the Dieri consider that on such a mission a man would be more complaisant as regards the acts of his Pirrauru wife than as regards those of his Tippa-malku wife. For on such occasions it is thoroughly understood that the women are to use every influence in their power to obtain a successful issue for their mission, and are therefore free of their favours. After what I have said in the earlier part of this work as to the class rules, it is perhaps hardly necessary to say here that in these cases the class rules are obeyed.

If the mission is successful, there is a time of licence between its members and the tribe, or part of a tribe, to which it has been sent. This is always the case, and if the Dieri women failed in it, it would be at peril of death on their return. This licence is not regarded with any jealousy by the women of the tribe to which the mission is sent. It is taken as a matter of course. They know of it, but do not see it, as it occurs at a place apart from the camp.

The members of such a mission are treated as distinguished guests. Food is provided for them, and on their return home, after about a week's stay, they are loaded with presents. If the mission is unsuccessful, messages of dreadful threatening are sent back by them.

The mode of announcing a mission, whether by male or female messengers, is by telling it to the Pinnaru of the camp, when alone, as soon as the former arrive. Nothing is