TRADITIONS OF THE AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES ON THE NAMOI, BARWAN, AND OTHER TRIBUTARIES OF THE DARLING.
(Communicated by the Rev. William Ridley, M.A., etc.)
"Baiame" (pronounced like the three words "By-a-me," and in the Wellington district south of the Namoi "By-a-my") is the name by which tribes scattered over a great portion of the north-west and west of New South Wales designate the Supreme Being. The blacks there who are acquainted with English, if asked what "Baiame" is, reply, "Carbon-massa" i.e., the Great Master; and to further enquiry as to what they and their fathers know of Baiame, they reply that He made earth, and water, and sky, animals and men; that He makes the rain come down, and the grass grow; that He has delivered heir fathers from evil demons; that He welcomes good people to the great "Warrambool" (watercourse and grove) in the sky—the Milky Way—a paradise of peace and plenty; and that He destroys the bad.
The Rev. James Günther, of Mudgee, long a Missionary in the Wellington district, has recorded in his grammar of the "Wiradhurri" language that the thoughtful blackfellows ascribe to "Baiamai" these three attributes—immortality, power, and goodness. They say that Baiame is present at their Cora—the periodical assembly at which young men are initiated into the privileges of manhood. Among the ceremonies of the Cora is the exhibition of a sacred wand, which they say was given to their people by Baiame, the sight of which is essential to impart manhood.
"Baiame" is derived (as the Rev. C. C. Greenway has shown) from "baia" to make, cut out, or build. Like many other words, it is variously pronounced—sometimes aspirated, sometimes sharpened. The "b" which is generally heard at the beginning of words sometimes becomes "bh," or almost "v," sometimes "p."
For ages unknown this race has handed down the word signifying "Maker" as the name of the Supreme.