Page:Native Tribes of South-East Australia.djvu/778

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752
CH.
NATIVE TRIBES OF SOUTH-EAST AUSTRALIA

Mr. Hugh Murray, who occupied country near Colac in South-western Victoria in 1837, says, that some of the Witaurong tribe, that is, the Wudthaurung, having murdered an old man and a child of the Colac tribe, brought with them on the ends of their spears portions of their flesh, which he saw them eat with great exultation during the evening.[1]

The Kurnai ate the flesh of their enemies only if they were of other tribes, for Kurnai did not eat Kurnai. It was not the whole of the body that was eaten, but the muscles of the arms and legs, and the skin of the thighs and of the sides of the body.

Several of the Kurnai have told me of occasions when this occurred. My informants said that once when they were young men they accompanied others in a raid on the Manero Brayerak. One man was killed, and his legs were cut off and carried to their camp, where the old men roasted them, and shared the flesh among the party. They said that the flesh tasted better than beef. Among the Theddora and Ngarigo it was the custom to eat parts of those they killed in raids, but not of those who were killed in any ceremonial combats between sections of the same tribe. The parts eaten were the hands and feet, and this was accompanied with expressions of contempt for the person killed. Those were their real enemies, and in eating them they acquired, as they thought, some part of their qualities and courage.[2]

In the Turrbal tribe, when in one of their ceremonial combats which follow the initiation ceremonies some man was killed, he was eaten by those of his tribe who were present, each tribal group sitting at its own fire. A great medicine-man (Kundri) singed the body all over with a fire-stick, causing the skin to turn copper-coloured. The body was then laid face downwards and opened down the back with a stone knife, then opened down the front, and skinned. All the entrails with the heart and lungs were buried, and blackened sticks tied with grass were laid over the burial place, which henceforth was so sacred that no one went near

  1. Letters of Victorian Pioneers.
  2. J. Bulmer.