Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/312

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298 Dr. Hoivitfs Defence of Group -Marriage.

Not content with asserting a non-existent equivalence, Dr. Hewitt, by choosing the Kurnai as the tribe with which to compare the Dieri, has invited reference to a difficulty in the way of interpreting noa as a survival of group-marriage. On p. 170 of his Native Tribes he says of the " fraternal terms " of the Kurnai that they are " far wider than those of the Dieri, and appear to point to a time prior to the making of those restrictions which neces- sitated the use of (different) terms to distinguish between a man's own children and those of his sister . . ." in other words, that they point to a period of absolute promiscuity within the generation, to a time when brother and sister marriage was universal and individual marriage unknown. This inference, however, Dr. Howitt refuses to draw ; he will not admit that the Kurnai ever had more than "group-marriage," i.e. modified promiscuity. He argues that maian-bra is a relic of group-marriage ; but if the philological basis, which is all that this argument possesses, is adequate, we are entitled to ask why Dr. Howitt refuses to draw the appropriate conclusion from the fraternal terms. Either the philological argument is reliable or it is not. If it is not, the theory of group-marriage (modified pro- miscuity) finds no support in any of the relationship terms adduced by Dr. Howitt ; it rests at best on a fancied identity of the pirraiirn and the noa relationships. If, on the other hand, the philological argument holds good, why does Dr. Howitt refuse to pursue it to its logical conclusion? It would be especially interesting to hear the grounds on which he thinks these fraternal terms cannot be regarded as a legacy of the age of the Undivided Commune.

Dr. Howitt says on p. 185, "marriage between them as pirraurii or piraungaru is group-marriage \i.e. polygamy], and is defined by the terms of relationship. Such being the case, these must have originated when group-marriage \i.e. modified promiscuity] existed." These statements will not bear examination.