Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/100

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CHAPTER X.


FUNERAL RITES— SPONSORIAL CUSTOM— JUVENILE
SPIRITS — PERSONAL BRAVERY — "STRIKING A
LIGHT"— THE BOUGH OF PEACE.

One of the most striking instances in which a similarity is to be traced between the customs of the aborigines of New Holland and those of civilized nations, particularly those of Oriental countries, is to be seen in the manner in which they dispose of their dead. One of their customs in this respect — that of burning the body, with considerable ceremony, on a pile of wood — at once suggests a comparison with the practices of many of those nations which occupy the first position in the pages of history. This rite is at present apparently less frequent among the blacks in the settled portions of the territory — if at all practised in those parts — than formerly. That, however, it was a general custom in former days is attested by several authorities. Collins, in his "Account of the Colony" in the days of its first settlement, gives a minute description of the burning, within the bounds of the present city of Sydney, of the remains of the wife of the celebrated Binnelong, the aboriginal who accompanied Governor Phillip to Europe, the ashes of the deceased being afterwards collected by the husband, and buried with considerable care beneath a mound of earth. Several other similar ceremonies are detailed by the same writer. It appears, however, that only the