Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/69

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56 THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.

called a "ballombime," and is made of various materials, but chiefly of threads formed from the tendons of the tail of the kangaroo and the legs of the emu; they are worked by the women, and are in general, for the sake of greater effect, painted with red ochre, or some other colouring substance; the "ballombime" is only worn by the men. Necklaces are the chief ornaments of the females. These are made of small pieces of a very thin reed, the particles, which are strung with the fibres of the currajong tree, or strings formed of similar material, being about the size of those used in the formation of ordinary necklaces; they are for the most part painted yellow, and are worn in numerous folds. The women likewise use the teeth of the kangaroo for ornamental purposes, attaching them to the ends of their ringlets, of which some of them possess a luxuriant and silky crop, and of which, in common with the males, they are very careful and very vain, using ointments of opossum fat and other such substances to preserve its smoothness and gloss.

The opossum cloak formed the chief if not the only article of dress worn by the aboriginal in his primitive state. It was at once his coat, cloak, and blanket — his garment by day and his coverlet by night; and so well was it adapted for affording comfort and protection that to the present day the opossum cloak is sought after with considerable eagerness by the colonists for similar purposes to those to which they were applied by the original proprietors. Happy does