Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/310

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Dr. Howitt's Defence of Group-Marriage.

sexual relations with each other, firstly, at times of tribal ceremonial; secondly, when the tippa-malku spouse of the woman permits it; and thirdly, in the absence of that spouse.

Both tippa-malku and pirrauru relationships receive tribal recognition and sanction; all who enter into either of these relationships must stand to one another in the relation termed by the Dieri noa, which may be translated "marriageable." But not all who are noa to each other become either tippa-malku or pirrauru to each other. The group-marriage, whose prior existence is asserted by Dr. Howitt, not only for the whole of Australia, but also for all countries in which the classificatory system is in use, cannot, with any propriety, be termed marriage at all; its proper name is "modified promiscuity." According to this view, all the people who stood in the noa relation to each other were de jure and de facto husbands and wives. At the present day noa undoubtedly means no more than "marriageable," and nothing which Dr. Howitt has put forward in his reply to Mr. Lang goes to show that it ever meant anything else.

In Europe we use the descriptive system of relationship; it is essentially based on consanguinity; if two persons are stated to stand in the relation of father and son, we assert a physiological fact. The classificatory system, on the other hand, is essentially a legal system; the term which a boy applies to his father, whose identity is often no more in doubt among these peoples than it is among peoples using the descriptive system, he also applies to a number of other men, any of whom was eligible to marry his mother; similarly he applies to his mother the same term that he applies to a number of women, all of whom were eligible spouses for his father; it is sufficiently clear that the identity of the real mother is not in doubt.

Some tribes, of whom the Dieri is one, apply a special