Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/30

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20 Presidential Address.

totem ; why a man thinks himself to have some special influence over his totem, so that, by magical ceremonies, he may increase or diminish the totem. These magical ceremonies, it will be remembered, were accepted as the origin of totemism by Mr. Frazer in 1899 ;^ he has now recanted this belief. Many of the special peculiarities of totemism can be plausibly explained, or at least can be made comprehensible, by this new hypothesis, or by the one step further back which Mr. Frazer takes. True, it is not easy or always possible to see why the various steps were taken ; but we are enabled to see why they could be taken.

What, now, has Mr. Lang to say to this hypothesis .^ Mr. Lang, in his book on the Secret of the Totem, attacks the belief that the Arunta tribes are primitive. For this purpose he cites their marriage regulations, showing that these have marks of later development. The Arunta, he says,-^ is " a tribe so advanced that it has forgotten its phratry names, has male kinship, eight matrimonial classes, and local totem groups, with head- men hereditary in the male line, and so cannot possibly be called primitive as regards organisation. If, then, the tribe possesses a peculiar institution, contravening what is universally practised" — Mr. Lang means elsewhere, rather than universally — "the natural inference is that the Arunta institution, being absolutely isolated and unique, as far as its non-exogamy goes, in an advanced tribe, is a local freak or sport, like many others which exist. This inference seems to be corroborated when we discover, as we do at a glance, the peculiar conditions without which the Arunta organisation is physically impossible," which are :

" I. Male reckoning of descent. . . .

^ Journ. Anthrop. Inst., 1899, p. 275 ft.. Fortnightly Review, April and May, 1899. "^Secret of the Totem, p. 64 ff.