Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/51

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36 THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.

skill and neatness, considering the rude implements available for the work. The hollow whence the earth was taken is described as forming a well-defined circle round the tomb. On digging into this latter it was found to cover a vault, its weight being sustained by a scaffolding of timbers placed transversely over the mouth of the grave. Within the vault lay the remains of the deceased with his face towards the east, encased in swathings composed of grass, bark, and other similar material. The most striking feature, however, in connection with the object was the elaborate carvings discovered on some of the trees immediately surrounding the spot, the skill and labour exercised on which greatly astonished the beholders. To this custom of burying the dead with the face towards the east, which prevails in some degree among the blacks, as well as to that of circumcision, practised by some tribes on the northern coasts, may be attributed the hypothesis of the Hebrew origin of the New Hollander. Some writers have gone so far as to state that they have observed among the aborigines individuals with features strongly marked by those peculiarities characteristic of the chosen people! A strange and ludicrous custom is mentioned as being practised at interments by the blacks of the eastern coast, which consists in carrying the body of the deceased by circuitous routes for several miles round the grave — a wise precaution, said to be intended to thwart the dead should he ever design to fright the living by " revisiting the glimpses of the moon " in