Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/370

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Notes on the Aborigines of Roebuck Bay,

we find two of yours are fishing ones, the bad ones Jack has thrown away.

As to the chastity girdle, such small bits of information as I have gained I will put down here. As I said before, it takes the form of a pearl-shell—in many cases carved—and is worn by the man or woman as a signification that they have had no sexual intercourse. After marriage the wearing of it is discontinued by the woman. This Jack got out of Billie last night. Before a male can take a wife he has to be what the niggers call "made a man of." It appears when a "boy" is to be "made a man of," he is taken to "bush," where a number of buck-niggers are collected each with stick in hand; the boy is made to run through the bush until he drops with exhaustion; he is then beaten, and made to rise and run again, and so on. When he is nearly dead with fatigue a fire is made, and the operation of circumcision is very roughly performed by cutting with two bits of glass. After the wound has healed a further operation is performed.[1] Girls go through an operation too, that of being forced to sit for a certain time on various sized cones, but it often happens that both boys and women have before the operations had intercourse, and there is a child or two. The boy after the foregoing ceremony is sworn not to tell the younger ones of his acquaintance, and is then left to recover under chargfe of an old ffin or buck native who feeds and looks after him. When recovered he may again show his face in the camp, and may choose a wife. An old hag is usually the first one; he then has to fight for the younger women. No women are admitted to the man-making ceremony. Even a wife can return to her own camp if she likes, and is not happy, and each time the man has to fight afresh to regain her.

The man I mentioned in my first letter [p. 327] was afterwards our nigger for a time, but a very surly one. He had

  1. Cf. Report of the Horn Scientific Expedition, iv., 169.