Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/260

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CORRESPONDENCE.


All-Fathers in Australia.

In Folk-Lore for March (p. 105) Mr. Hartland observes that, applying my theory of early religion to Australia, "it was contended that Bunjil of the Wotjoballuk, Mungan ngaua of the Kurnai, Baiame of the Kamilaroi, Daramulun of the Coast Murring, and the corresponding mythical personages of other tribes, were to be identified with this relatively Supreme Being. Now, if the identification were correct and the theory well-based, we should expect to find that the most backward tribes had the most fully developed belief in, and the clearest conception of, the Supreme Being in question. But this, so far as has been ascertained, is the direct reverse of the fact. The area of belief in this important Being seems to be confined to the south-east. The tribes which hold it are precisely those in which the greatest advance has been in social organization. Among them group-marriage (or what look like more or less lively survivals of group-marriage) has given way to individual marriage, descent in the female line has been replaced by that in the male line, the primitive organization under the class system has been abandoned, or is in process of being abandoned, for organization based on locality, and the most cruel and outrageous practices at initiation are unknown. If it be contended that, save in the last particular, the Arunta fairly answer to this description, I hasten to add that the Arunta present striking evidence in support of Mr. Howitt's case. While they and their neighbours do know of the existence of certain shadowy beings called Twanyirika, Atnatu, and so forth, they have evolved the belief to a very slight extent; and in