Page:Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 1 (2nd edition).djvu/58

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38
Description of the Natives of King George's Sound

Erniung and Tem or Tāāman; and the chief regulation is, that these classes must intermarry, that is, an Erniung with a Tāāman. Those who infringe this rule are culled Yuredangers, and are subject to very severe punishment. The children always follow the denomination of the mother. Thus, a man who is Erniung will have all his children Tāāman; but his sister’s children will be Erniungs. This practice is common to all the tribes in the neighbourhood, with the exception of the Murram.

The girls appear to be at the disposal of their father, and are generally bespoke in their infancy: even before they are born we have been told to whom they were betrothed, if they prove to be females.

There appear to be some peculiar regulations here, but what they are we could not ascertain. In some instances it happens that the exchange is mutual. The persons to whom the girls are betrothed are not unfrequently men of the middle or an advanced age, and possessing already several wives. They are, however, often more equally matched.

Another custom amongst them is called cotertie: it is confined to boys, and I would compare it to our godfathers; for it seems to be a promise of protection and assistance, and also adopting the boy as a son-in-law.

I do not think they have any nuptial ceremony. At a very early age the girl is brought to her future husband. Attentions and presents are paid more to her father than herself; and, indeed, the trifles she receives are generally transferred to him: these chiefly consist of game, or other articles of food; the father, perhaps, receives a cloak, spears, or other implements. At the age of eleven or twelve years the girl is delivered over to her husband. When a girl is thus, as it were, purchased from her father, the husband is said to be Parn Yockar. Those who steal their wives—a common practice amongst them—are compelled to pay more attention to the female. Sometimes violence is used, and the girl is carried off against her consent; generally, however, in these cases the female is the wife of some old man, and the young couple elope by mutual inclination; even the tribe sometimes are privy to the circumstance. For some time the parties keep aloof, and in the first instance go as far away as possible, and continually change their residence, not daring to show themselves amongst the friends of the injured husband, who makes use of every exertion to recover his wife and revenge the insult. Should the parties evade pursuit, and live together until the female becomes pregnant, mutual friends intercede, presents are made to the husband, and she is released from her first engagement. Thus, running away with a wife is called marr-in-colata. It most frequently happens, however, that the lady is recovered, when she is punished