This is done because the legend which accounts for the origin of this practice in the Mura-mura times recounts how two of the Mura-muras, acting together, revenged the murder of a Mura-mura boy by "giving the bone" to those who had killed him.
In the Tongaranka tribe, and in all the tribes of the Itchumundi nation, pointing with the bone is practised. The medicine-man obtains the fibula of a dead man's leg, which is scraped, polished, and ornamented with red ochre, and a cord of the dead man's hair is attached to it. It is believed that any person towards whom the bone is pointed will surely die, and a medicine-man who is known to have such a bone is feared accordingly. Another way of pointing the bone is by laying a piece of the leg-bone of a kangaroo or an emu, sharply pointed at one end, on the ground in the direction of the intended victim when he is asleep. After a time this is removed and placed in some secret place, point downwards, in a hole dug in the ground filled up with sticks and leaves, and then burnt. As the bone is consumed, it is thought to enter into the victim, who then feels ill, and falls down and dies. As the bone is believed to cause pain, sickness, and ultimately death, so a victim can be cured by a medicine-man sucking the cause out of him, and producing it as a piece of bone. Apart from the direct removal of the bone by the medicine-man, another remedy is to rub the victim with the ashes of the bone, if they can be found.
There is a peculiar form of pointing among the Wiradjuri. Some of the medicine-men use a small piece of wood shaped like a bull-roarer, placed close to the fire but pointing towards the intended victim, with the belief that when this instrument, which is called Dutimal, becomes quite hot, it springs up and enters the victim without his being aware of it. Others of the Wiradjuri believe that people are killed by a medicine-man getting a piece of a man's clothes and roasting it, wrapped up with some of a dead man's fat, in
- "Some Native Legends from Central Australia," Mary E. B, Howitt. Folk-Lore, vol. xiii. No. 4, p. 403.
- J. W. Boultbee.