Page:Native Tribes of South-East Australia.djvu/762

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CHAPTER XII

VARIOUS CUSTOMS

Naming of children—Family duties in bringing up children shared by both parents—Names of respect given to the aged—Opossum skin rugs—Perforation of the septum of the nose—Raised scars—Mutilations—Infanticide—Cannibalism—Food rules, hunting, and distribution of game—Ball-playing—Camping rules—Fire-making.

In the Kurnai tribe the infant child is at first recognised merely as Lit, that is, "child," although it receives some name when it begins to walk, frequently from some trivial occurrence which happened about its birth. When a boy is eight or nine years of age he is called Wotti, and the girl Kuere-jung. The child is named by the paternal grandfather or grandmother, or in default by the mother's parents, and its name may be that borne by some former member of the family. For instance, the before-mentioned Tulaba was, when a child, named Barrumbulk (teal duck) by his maternal grandfather. This was the name of his mother's deceased brother. When as a youth he was initiated at the Jeraeil ceremonies, a maternal uncle called him Tulaba, which was the name of a grand ancestor.

When the new name is given at initiation, the child's name becomes secret, not to be revealed to strangers, or to be mentioned by friends. The reason appears to be that a name is part of a person, and therefore can be made use of to that person's detriment by any who wish to "catch" him by evil magic. Thus one of the Kurnai, of whom I inquired as to his child's name, told me in a whisper, when no one else was present. When I asked him the name of one of the Kurnai, he said, "I cannot tell you, he might be very

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