Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/486

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


THE RELIGIOUS IDEAS OF THE ARUNTA.

BY N. W. THOMAS.

(See ante, p. 242.)

Readers of the works of Spencer and Gillen cannot fail to be struck with the fact that, Alcheringa and similar legends apart, mythology is conspicuous by its absence. This is the more remarkable because some ten years ago, in the Report of the Horn Expedition, iv. 183, one of the authors had given an account of a sky-being named Ulthaana, with emu feet, who has a wife and a child who never grows older; after death too the soul, so far from undergoing reincarnation, lives with two ulthaana on the shore of a body of water. This account is in substantial agreement with the narratives of the missionary, Kempe, in Trans. Roy. Soc, S. Aust., xiv. 244, and of the narratives of the German missionaries reproduced by Krichauff in Trans. S. Aust. Br., R.G.S. Aust., ii. 33 sq., 77 sq. It is therefore somewhat surprising to find little more than a mention of mythology in the two works produced by Spencer and Gillen. Among the Arunta they find a bug-bear, Twanyirika, whom they believe to have been invented to keep the women and children in order; among the Kaitish there is a sky-person, Atnatu; but beyond this superhuman beings are conspicuous by their absence.

The peculiar philosophy, however, of that part of the Arunta tribe with which Spencer and Gillen are acquainted, makes it, on reflection, less surprising that we hear little or nothing of gods or a future life. For the latter the Arunta