Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/50

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RITES OF SEPULTURE. 35

savage dignity which prevents them from expressing wonder or surprise at what are the mere subserving agencies of men.

The rite of sepulture is perhaps among the most important distinguishing indices of a people; the mode of its performance, and its accompanying ceremonies, are therefore deserving of attention in considering the peculiarities and customs of a race of men. Among the New Holland tribes the rite appears to vary considerably in different districts, and is held in various degrees of importance by various tribes. In some places the body is not buried in the earth, but placed on a raised hurdle, wrapped in coverings of bark and twigs. In other districts it is buried in the usual manner, the grave being marked by a raised mound, stakes being sometimes driven into the earth at the four corners. They do not appear to have any regular cemeteries, and four or five graves is the greatest number which has been observed in any locality. But although in general the rites of burial are not accompanied by ostentation, and the place of interment unmarked by any lasting memorial, instances there are where, in imitation of civilized people, the aborigines have raised laboured and substantial monuments to perpetuate the memory of some great or favourite individual. The most important of these sepulchral monuments which has heretofore been discovered is described as a large mound of earth, formed in the shape of a dome, and constructed with evident design and considerable