Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/64

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51
CORROBOREE.

It is at once his Bacchanal, Cyprian and Olympian games. Here his songs and orations are recited, his musical performances are accomplished, his dances performed, and his amours and courtship indulged. The corroboree usually takes place as the sequel to a battle, on the occasion of a friendly meeting or consultation between two or more tribes, at the initiation of a young man of more than ordinary note, or on any other occasion when the temper of the actors in such scenes induces them to give vent to their disposition to frolic and excitement in one of those games. Night is generally selected as the time for these performances, and the effect of such scenes by moonlight, or by the glare of bush fires, is said to be striking in the extreme. Eighty or a hundred men ranged in a line, with or without clubs, performing a measured dance, in which the chief motion consists of contortions and movements of the legs, accompanied by a species of song, and the sound of the different rude instruments known to the aborigines, the women being on such occasions the instrumental performers, as well as sustaining the chief burden of the vocal music: such are the chief features of the scene. This, however, is not the whole of the corroboree. Various minor acts succeed, in which both men and women take part, and the whole is continued till the performers become completely intoxicated with the excess of delight and excitement. At the present day, and within the precincts of the settled parts of the country, these fêtes are much disused among the