Page:Totem and Taboo (1919).djvu/19

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
7
THE SAVAGE'S DREAD OF INCEST

sentences from Frazer’s book[1] will show how seriously such trespasses are treated by these savages who, according to our standard, are otherwise very immoral.

“In Australia the regular penalty for sexual intercourse with a person of a forbidden clan is death. It matters not whether the woman is of the same local group or has been captured in war from another tribe; a man of the wrong clan who uses her as his wife is hunted down and killed by his clansmen, and so is the woman; though in some cases, if they succeed in eluding capture for a certain time, the offense may be condoned. In the Ta-Ta-thi tribe, New South Wales, in the rare cases which occur, the man is killed, but the woman is only beaten or speared, or both, till she is nearly dead; the reason given for not actually killing her being that she was probably coerced. Even in casual amours the clan prohibitions are strictly observed; any violations of these prohibitions ‘are regarded with the utmost abhorrence and are punished by death’ (Howitt).”

b) As the same severe punishment is also meted out for temporary love affairs which have not resulted in childbirth, the assumption of other motives, perhaps of a practical nature, becomes improbable.

  1. Frazer, 1. c. p. 54.