Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/527

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

Reviews. 469

totem clans had been forgotten. This, indeed, appears to be the case ; for in the tribes in question, as well as others, the very meaning of the names has been lost, though it is still traceable among some of the tribes in the south-east of the continent.

M. Durkheim's criticisms, and those of some anthropologists in this country, were not lost upon Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, who in their second journey made further investigations. The result was to confirm their previous opinion that the customs of the Arunta and Kaitish tribes "represent most nearly the original customs common to the ancestors of the central and north- central tribes." For our present purpose this means that paternal and not maternal descent was the basis of the original organisa- tion.

In the present essay M. Durkheim returns to the charge. He maintains, against the explorers, that the type of organisation of the Mara and Anula tribes is substantially identical with that of the Arunta and Warramunga tribes, and that both are capable of being traced back to the same original : that they are in effect two different attempts at the solution of the same problem. He has, I think, the best of the argument ; but the question cannot be put adequately before the readers of Folk-Lore in a small space. Assuming, therefore, that he is so far correct, I pass to consider his further proposition (originally suggested in a footnote to his previous article) that the system of eight matrimonial classes which obtains in these and some other tribes, has been purposely developed out of an earlier system of four matrimonial classes as the necessary consequence of the change from maternal to paternal descent.

It is clear that among both the Arunta and the Mara the eight classes are derived from four, because the terminology employed bears marks of their origin, and shows that the scission is still imperfect. Now, suppose that a given society

arranged in this manner." But I think it is clear that if the one change was deliberate the other was so too, and that, with the evidence before us, given by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen and by Dr. Howitt, of deliberate changes of custom and the manner in which they are made, we may safely say that such a change is not beyond the power of the sages of the tribes to imagine, to decree or to enforce.