Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/309

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295
Dr. Howitt's Defence of Group-Marriage.

known in the former tribe as tippa-malku marriage, but nameless, so far as we know, in the two latter—is combined with modified polygamy. In his work on the tribes of South-East Australia, Dr. Howitt asserts, in the most unqualified manner,[1] that a woman must enter into the tippa-malku relation before she can receive a pirrauru or accessory spouse. This statement he qualifies in his reply to Mr. Lang, but without explaining on what grounds he does so. It would be interesting to learn whether more recent observations have thrown doubt on the information which he published in 1904, for, unless my information is misleading,[2] the social organisation of the Dieri has been decadent for the last thirty years, and we cannot lay much stress on modern observations. So far as I know, the earlier information, gathered by an inaccurate observer, Mr. Gason, does not throw any doubt on the priority of the tippa-malku relation. Unless, therefore, Dr. Howitt relies on very recent information, I am unable to find any basis, and in no case any substantial basis, for the modification of his phraseology.

The pirrauru relationship, which is properly speaking modified polygamy, is established by a special ceremony performed by the head or heads of the totem-kin or kins concerned (I do not understand why Dr. Howitt suggests that only one totem-kin may be concerned; under the exogamic rule the pirrauru spouses must obviously be of different totems);[3] in the case of the woman it has always been supposed, up to the time of Dr. Howitt's recent communication, that the tippa-malku relation necessarily precedes the pirrauru relation; for the man a tippa-malku spouse is not necessary before he enters into pirrauru relations with a woman. The essential feature of the pirrauru relation is that certain men and women have

  1. Pp. 177-179, N.T.S.E.A.
  2. Gregory, Dead Heart, p. 192.
  3. Many other questions arise in connection with Dr. Howitt's account of pirrauru. With these I deal in a work now in the press.