Page:Ethnological studies (Roth).djvu/141

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CHAPTER VIII.

RECREATION: CORROBBOREES, SPORTS, AND GAMES.

Contents.— Section 188. The Corrobboree. 189. Time of Performance. 190. Authorship and Plot. 191. May be taught and carried to other Tribes. 192. Performers. 193. Dress and Decorations. 194. Dancing ground, Dressing-room. 195. The Dance. 196. The Words of the Song. 197. Music of the Song. 198. Beating of the Time. 199. The Molonga Corrobboree. 200. Tales and Yarns, Fables, Folk and Animal lore. 201. The Water-hen and the Emu. 202. The Galah-parrot and the Lizard. 203. The Opossum and the Wild-oat. 204. The Laughing-jackass and the Blackfellows. 205. The Snake and the Fish. 206. The Red-tit and the Brown-tit. 207. The two Fishermen. 208. The Porcupine and the Eagle-hawk. 209. The Black-crow and the Hawk. 210. The Hawk and the Bower-bird. 211. The Moon. 212. The Galah-parrot and the Opossum. 213. The Return, "Come-back," Boomerang 214. The Toy Throwing-stick. 215. The "Whirler." 216. The Ball. 217. The Skipping-rope. 218. "Hunt the Eye." 219. Hide and Seek. 220. Smoke-spirals. 221. Mimicking Animals and Birds. 222. Coursing. 223. Pit-throwing.

188. The Corrobboree (Pitta-Pitta wun-ni, Ulaoliuya won-ni-na, Kalkadoon wa-ma, Undekerebina wun-tun-ya) consists of singing (Pitta-Pitta wun-ka-), accompanied by dancing (Pitta-Pitta e-cha-la-mul-le-) and accompaniments: throughout North-West-Central Queensland the performance has certain features in common.

189. (a) Time of Performance.—The corrobboree commences at sunset and may be continued until sunrise, the whole performance being extended sometimes over three, four, or even five nights consecutively. Exceptions to this rule of night performance are some unimportant local dances, or one danced by the women only, or the corrobboree for bringing up rain, &c., and those dependent upon certain of the initiation ceremonies: to these particular last-mentioned ones, described in sects. 294-297 and in chap. XIII., the following notes do not refer.

190. (b) Authorship and Plot.—Anybody may "find," i.e., compose a corrobboree, and more often a "doctor" as not: sometimes it is alleged to have been found in a dream. The corrobboree may be held just for the sake of the amusement that is in itself afforded, and beyond the repetition of some simple statement or assertion may have no meaning whatsoever behind it (see Boulia songs in sect. 196): on the other hand, as on the Upper Georgina, at Roxburgh, Carandotta, and in the Cloncurry District, &c., a sort of pantomime relating to some event of individual interest or tribal importance may be enacted. Thus I have known where the climbing of a tree after honey, the stealing of cattle (the "horns" represented in Fig. 292) by blacks with the tracking and shooting of the marauders, or again, the rescue of a European by three aboriginals in the late floods (which had actually occurred) was staged with full histrionic powers and accoutrements. I have not come across any songs or dances dealing with the prowess, life-history, battles, &c., of any individual deceased: indeed, not in any way to refer to the dead appears to be an understood rule among all these tribes (sect. 67).

191. (c) May be Taught and Carried to other Tribes.—Corrobborees may be taught and conveyed from one tribe to another. Like articles of exchange and barter, corrobborees may travel in various directions and along identical trade-routes and markets (sect. 229). When taught to one tribe, the latter may take it on to the next, and so on, the visitors being paid in blankets or other presents in return for the instruction imparted. Sometimes picked men may be sent to a distant tribe just for the sake of learning one: from Boulia to Herbert Downs or Roxburgh, from Cloncurry, viá the Upper Diamantina, to Cork, &c. It may thus come to pass, and almost invariably does, that a tribe will learn and sing by rote whole corrobborees in a language absolutely remote from its own, and not one word of which the audience or performers can understand the meaning of. That the words are very carefully committed to memory, I have obtained ample proof by taking down phonetically the same corrobborees as performed by different-speaking people living at distances upwards of 100 miles apart; as, for instance,