Page:Native Tribes of South-East Australia.djvu/502

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

state their purport concisely so as to show clearly the nature of the Mura-muras, who are the chief actors in them.[1]

The Mura-mura Paralina when out hunting saw four unformed beings crouching together. He smoothed their bodies with his hands, stretched out their limbs, slit up their fingers and toes, formed a mouth, nose, and eyes, stuck ears on, and otherwise turned them into mankind.

Another legend says that in the beginning the earth opened in the middle of Lake Perigundi,[2] and thence the totem animals came forth, one after the other. They were quite unformed, without sense organs, and they lay on the sandhills, which then as now surrounded the lake, until being revived and strengthened by the warmth of the sun, they stood up as human beings and separated, some to the north-east, some to the east, and others to the south-west and south.

Another accounts for the dispersal of the totems. The Mura-mura Mandra-mankana, having been killed by the people for his misdeeds, was brought to life by a crow, which tapped with its bill on the logs which lay on his grave. He, waking up and seeing no one near, followed the footprints of the people who had gone fishing, and were then busy driving the fish with bushes into their nets. He, keeping himself concealed in the water, and opening his mouth, swallowed water, fish, and men. Some who escaped ran off in all directions; and, as they ran, he gave to each a Murdu, that is, a totem name. In this way it came about that the totems are scattered over the country, while some are more common in one part than in another.

The next stage shown by the legends is the origin of the rites and ceremonies of circumcision and subincision. They form a very interesting series, the three first of which are versions of the same as recorded by different tribes and related by them in their ceremonies. The first belongs to the Yaurorka, the eastern Dieri, and the Yantruwunta. It tells how two Mura-mura youths were hunting for game at Perigundi, when one of them became accidentally circum-

  1. Explanatory footnotes are given in the Appendix.
  2. A lake in the Dieri country.