Page:Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 1 (2nd edition).djvu/61

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41
Description of the Natives of King George's Sound

men, which accounted for their constantly ornamented appearance. The influence they held over the rest of the natives might have arisen from other circumstances; and we could not discover any individual to whom they gave the supremacy. Naikennon, however, gave out for some time that he was king and captain of the black men. It was a long time before he could be persuaded to visit us, and when he came he was formally introduced by his companions, who talked much about him, and seemed to consider him as superior to them. He was one of the finest looking and best limbed men amongst them, wore his hair tied up in a knob behind, bound tightly round with a string, and his head ornamented on the top with a tuft of white feathers, and a similar badge round his left arm. His chest and shoulders were very much marked with gashes (umbin), and there was much peculiarity in his manners. He talked little, very rarely asked for anything, and, for a great length of time, would neither accompany us on our sporting excursions, nor otherwise render us the little assistance that we were in the habit of receiving from others of his tribe. After a little time, however, both he and his brother, Mawcurrie, became more sociable; and, at last, so partial to our people, as seldom to leave the camp. We had, therefore, a fair opportunity of satisfying ourselves that neither of them possessed any authority over their countrymen.

The individuals who possess most influence are the mulgarradocks, or doctors. Of these they have several grades, differing very materially in the nature and extent of their power, which, like other savages, they attribute to supernatural agency.

A mulgarradock is considered to possess the power of driving away wind or rain, as well as bringing down lightning or disease upon any object of their or others’ hatred. In attempting to drive away a storm of rain, they stand out in the open air, tossing their arms, shaking their clothes, and making violent gesticulations, which they continue for a long time, with intervals, if they are not successful. Almost the same process is used to remove disease; but in this case they are less noisy, and make use of friction, sometimes with green twigs, previously warmed at the fire, frequently making a short puff as if to blow away the pain.

The hand of the mulgarradock is also supposed to confer strength or dexterity, and the natives frequently apply to them for that purpose. The operation consists in simply drawing his hand repeatedly, with a firm pressure, from the shoulder downwards to the fingers, which he afterwards extends until the joints crack.

They do not, however, use friction indiscriminately. In cases of dysentery, for example, to which they are very subject, they administer to the patient the gum of the grass-tree, and sometimes the green stems of the meernes (the red root before mentioned).