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referred to the totemic divisions of the Barkunji and kindred tribes in Proc. Roy. Geog. Soc. Aust., Queensland, Vol. x, p. 32. Their initiation ceremonies are described by me elsewhere.
No. 9. In this triangular portion of New South Wales we encounter the advance guard of those tribes who practice circumcision and subincision, extending thence northerly into Queensland and westerly into South Australia. The customs of these people will be dealt with by me in another article.
THE NGUTTAN INITIATION CEREMONY.
In this article it is intended to give a short account of the Nguttan, an abbreviated ceremony of initiation practiced by the native tribes of the Williams and Gloucester rivers and surrounding country. Although it is not necessary to muster the whole community for the purpose of installing the youths into the privileges of tribesmen by means of the Nguttan, yet it is always thought safest to consult with the headmen of some of the nearest neighboring tribes, who may also have one or more youths old enough to pass through the ordeal. The preliminaries are arranged by means of messengers, and when the appointed time comes round the tribes proceed to the appointed meeting place. Here the combined concourse indulge in corrobories and songs at night by the camp fires. The men of each tribe dance in their turn and their women beat time for them.
When the festivities have lasted for a few days the headmen decide upon the time for taking away the novices. Early on the appointed morning all the men assemble under pretense of going on a hunting expedition, or perhaps they represent that they are making an incursion into the country of a hostile tribe for the purpose of avenging some supposed injury. The novices are mustered out of their mothers' camps and are taken charge of by the men. The women are not told anything about these proceedings, but all the elder ones and those who have been present at similar gatherings before form their own conclusions in regard to the purpose of the meeting
A number of the men, with the novices amongst them, start first, and are immediately followed by the rest of the men, singing and shouting as they march along in the rear. The novices are told that
these incantations are for the purpose of making a plentiful supply of game, or to cause them to be victorious over their enemies. The men are painted in the manner customary on these expeditions. After traveling perhaps several miles they come to a water-hole or running stream, where a halt is made. The novices are now taken charge of by the men who have been appointed for this duty. Each of these men is the brother-in-law—actually or collaterallyof the graduate who has been placed under his care.
The' novices are stripped naked, and after being painted are placed sitting cross-legged on the ground, with both hands grasping their genitalia and their heads bowed toward their breasts. Their guardians and some of their relatives remain with them, but all the other men go away, taking their departure quietly and a few at a time so that the boys may not know that they are gone. These men go away to a suitable camping ground, perhaps a mile or two distant, which has previously been agreed upon, and there they erect a camp of bark or bushes and spread leaves on the ground for the novices to lie upon. They then go into the bush hunting to provide food for themselves and the rest of the party. Late in the afternoon the guardians and other men who remained with the novices bring the latter to this new camp—each boy with his eyes cast down and being forbidden to look at anything around himand place them lying down upon the leaves with rugs thrown over them. Fires are lit near where they are lying,' and they are subjected to considerable heat, which causes them to perspire very freely, but they are not permitted to move and must keep silent.
During the evening, perhaps an hour after sundown, by the light of the camp-fires, some of the usual totemic dances, described by me in previous communications, and other instructive performances, are gone through by the men, and the novices are allowed to sit up and look at them. Some of the men exhibit their genitals to the boys and invite them to pay especial attention to a number of other obscene gestures. After this human excrement is thrown to the novices, which they are required to eat, and also to drink urine out of a native vessel. At the conclusion of these proceedings all hands lie down for the night.
Early next morning about half the men start away without the knowledge of the boys and go into the bush in quest of food.
i Compare with the fire ordeal described by me in “The Bunan Ceremony of N. S. Wales,” in the American Anthropologist (1896), Vol. ix, pp. 335, 336.
About midday they return, and on coming within hearing of the camp they commence making a weird noise, like the howling of the native dog, and advance in single file, each man carrying a leafy bough which hides his face and chest. When these men, who are called ghirrang, reach the camp where the novices are they spread out in a line and spring up into the air, waving their arms and ultering grunt-like exclamations. The novices are led to believe that the ghirrang belong to a hostile tribe and will perhaps attack them and their guardians.
The ghirrang and other men then produce several small sheets of bark stripped from trees, on which some dharri ng devices have been carved, similar to the marks on the trees standing around a Keeparra ground.' These pieces of bark are placed at intervals of a few yards along the cleared space which was used for dancing and performing upon the previous night. The novices are now brought out in front of these pieces of bark and are invited to take particular notice of them. They are at first shown the dharroong on one sheet of bark, and are then taken to each of the others in succession, but are not allowed to speak a word.
When this part of the ceremony has been disposed of, the men form into two divisions—one mob standing on one side of the cleared space and another mob on the other side—the graduates being placed in a row facing them. The humming sound of the bull-roarer, mudthinga, is now heard a little way in the rear, and almost immediately two men step out into the opening, each man swinging one of these instruments at the end of a string. The usual obligations of secrecy are then imposed upon the neophytes, after which the sacred munthinga is rubbed upon their penises, chests, arms and other parts of their bodies. While doing this the string of the bull-roarer is placed round each lad's neck in rotation.
The guardians, novices, and all the rest of the men now start away from that place, and proceed toward the women's campwhich, it should be mentioned, was removed to another locality the same day the men and boys went away. A man is sent ahead to announce that the contingent from the bush will return presently, and upon receipt of this message the women muster on a level, open parcel of land contiguous to their camp. Here the mothers of the neophytes spread nets upon the ground, on which
1 See my “ Keeparra Ceremony of Initiation,” Journ. Anthrop. Inst., Vol. xxvi, pp. 320-338, Pl. xxxii, Figs. 6 to 13.