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Transcriber's Note:

This text has many tables, which are best viewed using a fixed-width
font.

Table I a and the _Arunta: Eight-class_ Table were printed on fold-out
pages. These have been split into sections (3 and 2 sections,
respectively) to fit within the display boundaries.

The original book had a number of words with inconsistant hyphenation or
spelling, as well as a small number of typographical errors. These have
been maintained in this version. The inconsistencies and errors are
detailed at the end of the present text.
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_The Cambridge Archaeological and Ethnological Series is supervised by
an Editorial Committee consisting of WILLIAM RIDGEWAY, M.A., F.B.A.,
Disney Professor of Archaeology, A.C. HADDON, Sc.D., F.R.S., University
Lecturer in Ethnology, M.R. JAMES, Litt. D., F.B.A., Provost of King's
College and C. WALDSTEIN, Litt. D., Slade Professor of Fine Art._


KINSHIP ORGANISATIONS

AND

GROUP MARRIAGE

IN

AUSTRALIA


BY

NORTHCOTE W. THOMAS, M.A.
Diplomé de l'École des Hautes-Études,
Corresponding Member of the Société d'Anthropologie de Paris, etc.


CAMBRIDGE:
at the University Press
1906


CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS WAREHOUSE,
C.F. CLAY, MANAGER,

London: FETTER LANE, E.C.
Glasgow: 50, WELLINGTON STREET.

[Illustration]

Leipzig: F.A. BROCKHAUS.
New York: G.P. PUTNAM'S SONS.
Bombay and Calcutta: MACMILLAN AND CO., LTD.


[_All Rights reserved._]


DEDICATED
TO
MISS C.S. BURNE,
WHO FIRST GUIDED MY STEPS
INTO THE PATHS OF
ANTHROPOLOGY


PREFACE.


It is becoming an axiom in anthropology that what is needed is not
discursive treatment of large subjects but the minute discussion of
special themes, not a ranging at large over the peoples of the earth
past and present, but a detailed examination of limited areas. This work
I am undertaking for Australia, and in the present volume I deal briefly
with some of the aspects of Australian kinship organisations, in the
hope that a survey of our present knowledge may stimulate further
research on the spot and help to throw more light on many difficult
problems of primitive sociology.

We have still much to learn of the relations of the central tribes and
their organisations to the less elaborately studied Anula and Mara. I
have therefore passed over the questions discussed by Dr Durkheim. We
have still more to learn as to the descent of the totem, the relation of
totem-kin, class and phratry, and the like; totemism is therefore
treated only incidentally in the present work, and lack of knowledge
compels me to pass over many other interesting questions.

The present volume owes much to Mr Andrew Lang. He has read twice over
both my typescript MS, and my proofs; in the detection of ambiguities
and the removal of obscurities he has rendered my readers a greater
service than any bald statement will convey; for his aid in the matter
of terminology, for his criticisms of ideas already put forward and for
his many pregnant suggestions, but inadequately worked out in the
present volume. I am under the deepest obligations to him; and no mere
formal expression of thanks will meet the case. I have been more than
fortunate in securing aid from Mr Lang in a subject which he has made
his own.

I do not for a moment suppose that the information here collected is
exhaustive. If any one should be in a position to supplement or correct
my facts or to enlighten me in any way as to the ideas and customs of
the blacks I shall be obliged if he will tell me all he knows about them
and their ways. Letters may be addressed to me c/o the Anthropological
Institute, 3 Hanover Sq., W.

NORTHCOTE W. THOMAS.

BUNTINGFORD,
_Sept. 11th, 1906._


CONTENTS.


PAGE
PREFACE vii

CONTENTS ix

BIBLIOGRAPHY xii

INDEX TO ABBREVIATIONS xiv


CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTORY.

Social Organisation. Associations in the lower stages of culture.
Consanguinity and Kinship. The Tribe. Kinship groups: totem kins;
phratries Pages =1-11=


CHAPTER II.

DESCENT.

Descent of Kinship, origin and primitive form. Matriliny in Australia.
Relation to potestas, position of widow, etc. Change of rule of descent;
relation to potestas, inheritance and local organisation =12-28=


CHAPTER III.

DEFINITIONS AND HISTORY.

Definitions: tribe, sub-tribe, local group, phratry, class, totem kin.
"Blood" and "shade." Kamilaroi type. History of Research in Australia.
General sketch =29-40=


CHAPTER IV.

TABLES OF CLASSES, PHRATRIES, ETC.

TABLES I, I a. Class Names =42, 47=

TABLE II. Phratry Names =48=

TABLE III. Comparison of "blood" and phratry names =50=

TABLE IV. Relations of Class and phratry organisations =51=


CHAPTER V.

PHRATRY NAMES.

The Phratriac Areas. Borrowing of Names. Their Meanings. Antiquity of
Phratry Names. Eaglehawk Myths. Racial Conflicts. Intercommunication.
Tribal Migrations =52-62=


CHAPTER VI.

ORIGIN OF PHRATRIES.

Mr Lang's theory and its basis. Borrowing of phratry names. Split
groups. The Victorian area. Totems and phratry names. Reformation theory
of phratriac origin =63-70=


CHAPTER VII.

CLASS NAMES.

Classes later than Phratries. Anomalous Phratry Areas. Four-class
Systems. Borrowing of Names. Eight-class System. Resemblances and
Differences of Names. Place of Origin. Formative Elements of the Names:
Suffixes, Prefixes. Meanings of the Class Names =71-85=


CHAPTER VIII.

THEORIES OF THE ORIGIN OF CLASSES.

Effect of classes. Dr Durkheim's Theory of Origin. Origin in grouping of
totems. Dr Durkheim on origin of eight classes. Herr Cunow's theory of
classes =86-92=


CHAPTER IX.

KINSHIP TERMS.

Descriptive and classificatory systems. Kinship terms of Wathi-Wathi,
Ngerikudi-speaking people and Arunta. Essential features. Urabunna.
Dieri. Distinction of elder and younger =93-101=


CHAPTER X.

TYPES OF SEXUAL UNIONS.

Terminology of Sociology. Marriage. Classification of Types.
Hypothetical and existing forms =102-109=


CHAPTER XI.

GROUP MARRIAGE AND MORGAN'S THEORIES.

Passage from Promiscuity. Reformatory Movements. Incest. Relative
harmfulness of such unions. Natural aversion. Australian facts
=110-118=


CHAPTER XII.

GROUP MARRIAGE AND THE TERMS OF RELATIONSHIP.

Mother and Child. Kurnai terms. Dieri evidence. _Noa._ Group Mothers.
Classification and descriptive terms. Poverty of language. Terms express
status. The savage view natural =119-126=


CHAPTER XIII.

PIRRAURU.

Theories of group marriage. Meaning of group. Dieri customs. Tippa-malku
marriage. Obscure points. _Pirrauru._ Obscure points. Relation of
_pirrauru_ to _tippa-malku_ unions. Kurnandaburi. Wakelbura customs.
Kurnai organisation. Position of widow. _Piraungaru_ of Urabunna.
_Pirrauru_ and group marriage. _Pirrauru_ not a survival. Result of
scarcity of women. Duties of _Pirrauru_ spouses. _Piraungaru_; obscure
points =127-141=


CHAPTER XIV.

TEMPORARY UNIONS.

Wife lending. Initiation ceremonies. _Jus primae noctis._ Punishment for
adultery. _Ariltha_ of central tribes. Group marriage unproven
=142-149=


APPENDIX.

ANOMALOUS MARRIAGES.

Decay of class rules in South-East. Descent in Central Tribes. "Bloods"
and "Castes" =150-152=

INDEX OF PHRATRY, BLOOD, AND CLASS NAMES =153-157=
INDEX OF SUBJECTS =158-163=

* * * * *


MAPS.

PAGE
I. Rule of Descent =40=
II. Class Organisations to follow =40=
III. Phratry Organisations " =40=


TABLE.

Class Names of Eight-Class Tribes =between pp. 46= and =47=


BIBLIOGRAPHY.


1. _Allgemeine Missionszeitschrift._ Gutersloh, 1874 etc., 8^o.

2. _American Anthropologist._ Washington, 1888 etc., 8^o.

3. _Année Sociologique._ Paris, 1898 etc., 8^o.

4. _Archaeologia Americana._ Philadelphia, 1820 etc., 4^o.

5. _Das Ausland._ Munich, 1828-1893, 4^o.

6. _Bulletins of North Queensland Ethnography._ Brisbane, 1901 etc., fol.

7. BUNCE, D., _Australasiatic Reminiscences of Twenty-three Years
Wanderings._ Melbourne, 1857, 8^o.

8. _Colonial Magazine._ London, 1840-1842, 8^o.

9. CUNOW, H., _Die Verwandtschaftsorganisationen der Australneger._
Leipzig, 1894, 8^o.

10. CURR, E.M., _The Australian Race._ 4 vols., London, 1886, 8^o and fol.

11. DAWSON, J., _Australian Aborigines._ Melbourne, 1881, 4^o.

12. FISON, L. and HOWITT, A.W., _Kamilaroi and Kurnai._ Melbourne, 1880,
8^o.

13. _Folklore._ London, 1892 etc., 8^o.

14. _Fortnightly Review._ London, 1865-1889, 8^o.

15. FRAZER, J.G., _Totemism._ Edinburgh, 1887, 8^o.

16. GERSTAECKER, F., _Reisen von F. Gerstaecker._ 5 vols., Stuttgart,
1853-4, 8^o.

17. _Globus._ Hildburghausen etc., 1863 etc., 4^o.

18. GREY, Sir G., _Journals of Two Expeditions of Discovery in
North-West and West Australia._ 2 vols., London, 1841, 8^o.

19. GRIBBLE, J.B., _Black but Comely._ London, 1874, 8^o.

20. HODGSON, C.P., _Reminiscences of Australia._ London, 1846, 12^o.

21. HOWITT, A.W., _Native Tribes of South-East Australia._ London, 1904,
8^o.

22. _Internationales Archiv fur Ethnographie._ Leyden, 1888 etc., 4^o.

23. _Journal of the Anthropological Institute._ London, 1871 sq., 8^o.

24. _Journal of the Royal Geographical Society._ London, 1832-1880, 8^o.

25. _Journal of the Royal Society of New South Wales._ Sydney, 1877
etc., 8^o.

26. _Journals of Several Expeditions in West Australia._ London, 1833,
12^o.

27. LAHONTAN, H. DE, _Voyages._ Amsterdam, 1705, 12^o.

28. LANG, A. and ATKINSON, J., _Social Origins_; _Primal Law._ London,
1903, 8^o.

29. LANG, A., _Secret of the Totem._ London, 1905, 8^o.

30. LEICHARDT, F.W.L., _Journal of an Overland Expedition in Australia._
London, 1848, 8^o.

31. LUMHOLTZ, C., _Among Cannibals._ London, 1889, 8^o.

32. MACLENNAN, J.F., _Studies in Ancient History._ 2nd Series, London,
1886, 8^o.

33. _Man._ London, 1901 sq., 8^o.

34. MATHEW, J., _Eaglehawk and Crow._ London, 1898, 8^o.

35. MATHEWS, R.H., _Ethnological Notes._ Sydney, 1905, 8^o.

36. _Mitteilungen des Seminars fur orientalische Sprachen._ Berlin, 1898
etc., 8^o.

37. _Mitteilungen des Vereins fur Erdkunde._ Halle, 1877-1892, 8^o.

38. MOORE, G.F., _Descriptive Vocabulary of the Language in Common Use
among the Aborigines of Western Australia._ London, 1842, 8^o.

39. MORGAN, Lewis H., _Ancient Society._ New York, 1877, 8^o.

40. NEW, C., _Travels._ London, 1854, 8^o.

41. OWEN, Mary A., _The Musquakie Indians._ London, 1905, 8^o.

42. PARKER, K.L., _The Euahlayi Tribe._ London, 1905, 8^o.

43. PETRIE, Tom, _Reminiscences._ Brisbane, 1905, 8^o.

44. _Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society._ Philadelphia,
1840 etc., 8^o.

45. _Proceedings of the Australian Association for the Advancement of
Science._ 1889 etc., 8^o.

46. _Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia,
Queensland Branch._ Brisbane, 1886 etc., 8^o.

47. _Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland._ Brisbane, 1884
etc., 8^o.

48. _Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria._ Melbourne, 1889
etc., 8^o.

49. _Reports of the Cambridge University Expedition to Torres Straits._
Cambridge, 1903 etc., 4^o.

50. ROTH, W.E., _Ethnological Studies._ Brisbane, 1898, 8^o.

51. SCHÜRMANN, C.W., _Vocabulary of the Parnkalla Language._ Adelaide,
1844, 8^o.

52. _Science of Man._ Sydney, 1898 etc., 4^o.

53. _Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge._ Washington, 1848 etc. 4^o.

54. SPENCER, B. and GILLEN, F.J., _Native Tribes of Central
Australasia._ London, 1898, 8^o.

55. SPENCER, B. and GILLEN, F.J., _Northern Tribes of Central
Australia._ London, 1904, 8^o.

56. STOKES, J.L., _Discoveries in Australia._ 2 vols., London, 1846, 8^o.

57. TAPLIN, G., _Folklore, Manners, Customs and Language of the South
Australian Aborigines._ Adelaide, 1878, 8^o.

58. _Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of South
Australia._ Adelaide, 1878 etc., 8^o.

59. VAN GENNEP, A., _Mythes et Légendes._ Paris, 1906, 8^o.

60. _West Australian._ Perth, 1886 etc., fol.

61. WESTERMARCK, E., _History of Human Marriage._ 3rd Edition, London,
1901, 8^o.

62. _Wiener Medicinische Wochenschrift._ Vienna, 1851 etc., 4^o.

63. WILSON, T.B., _Narrative of a Voyage round the World._ London, 1835,
8^o.

64. _Zeitschrift fur vergleichende Rechtswissenschaft._ Stuttgart, 1878
etc., 8^o.


INDEX TO ABBREVIATIONS.


_Allg. Miss. Zts._, 1
_Am. Anth._, 2
_Am. Phil. Soc._, 44
_Ann. Soc._, 3
_Aust. Ass. Adv. Sci._, 45
_Col. Mag._, 8
_C.T._, 54
_Ethn. Notes_, 35
_Fort. Rev._, 14
_J.A.I._, 23
_J.R.G.S._, 24
_J.R.S.N.S.W._, 25
_J.R.S. Vict._, 48
_Nat. Tr._, 54
_Nor. Tr._, 55
_N.Q. Ethn. Bull._, 6
_N.T._, 21
_Proc. Am. Phil. Soc._, 44
_Proc. R.G.S. Qn._, 46
_Proc. R.S. Vict._, 48
_R.G.S. Qn._, 47
_Sci. Man_, 52
_T.R.S.S.A._, 58
_West. Aust._, 60
_Zts. vgl. Rechtsw._, 64


CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTORY.

Social organisation. Associations in the lower stages of culture.
Consanguinity and Kinship. The Tribe. Kinship groups; totem kins;
phratries.


The passage from what is commonly termed savagery through barbarism to
civilisation is marked by a change in the character of the associations
which are almost everywhere a feature of human society. In the lower
stages of culture, save among peoples whose organisation has perished
under the pressure of foreign invasion or other external influences, man
is found grouped into totem kins, intermarrying classes and similar
organised bodies, and one of their most important characteristics is
that membership of them depends on birth, not on the choice of the
individual. In modern society, on the other hand, associations of this
sort have entirely disappeared and man is grouped in voluntary
societies, membership of which depends on his own choice.

It is true that the family, which exists in the lower stages of culture,
though it is overshadowed by the other social phenomena, has persisted
through all the manifold revolutions of society; especially in the stage
of barbarism, its importance in some directions, such as the regulation
of marriage, often forbidden within limits of consanguinity much wider
than among ourselves, approaches the influence of the forms of natal
association which it had supplanted. In the present day, however, if we
set aside its economic and steadily diminishing ethical sides, it
cannot be compared in importance with the territorial groupings on which
state and municipal activities depend.

If the family is a persistent type the tribe may also be compared to the
modern state; it is, in most parts of the world, no less territorial in
its nature; membership of it does not depend among the Australians on
any supposed descent from a common ancestor; and though residence plus
possession of a common speech is mentioned by Howitt as the test of
tribe, it is possible in Australia, under certain conditions[1], to pass
from one tribe to another in such a way that we seem reduced to
residence as the test of membership. This change of tribe takes place
almost exclusively where tribes are friendly, so far as is known; and we
may doubt whether it would be possible for a stranger to settle, without
any rite of adoption, in the midst of a hostile or even of an unknown
tribe; but this is clearly a matter of minor importance, if adoption is
not, as in North America, an invariable element of the change of tribe.
Although membership of a tribe is thus loosely determined, tribesmen
feel themselves bound by ties of some kind to their fellow-tribesmen, as
we shall see below, but in this they do not differ from the members of
any modern state.

But in Australia the importance of the tribe, save from an economic
point of view, as joint owner of the tribal land, is small compared with
the part played in the lives of its members by the intratribal
associations, whose influence is recognised without, as within the
tribe. These associations are of two kinds in the lowest strata of human
society; in each case membership is determined by birth and they may
therefore be distinguished as _natal associations_. In the one case, the
_kinship groups_ such as totem kins, phratries, etc., an individual
remains permanently in the association into which he is born, special
cases apart, in which by adoption he passes out of it and joins another
by means of a legal fiction[2]. The other kind of association, to which
the name _age-grades_ is applied, is composed of a series of grades,
through which, concomitantly with the performance of the rites of
initiation obligatory on every male member of the community, each man
passes in succession, until he attains the highest. In the rare cases
where an individual fails to qualify for the grade into which his
coevals pass, and remains in the grade of "youth" or even lower grades,
he is by birth a member of one class and does not remain outside the
age-grades altogether.

In the element of voluntary action lies the distinction between
age-grades and _secret societies_, which are organised on identical or
similar lines but depend for membership on ceremonies of initiation,
alike in the lowest as in the highest grade. Such societies may be
termed voluntary. The differentia between the natal and the voluntary
association lies in the fact that in the former all are members of one
or other grade, in the latter only such as have taken steps to gain
admission, all others being simply non-members.

Although _primâ facie_ all these forms of association are equally
entitled to be classed as social organisations, the use of this term is
limited in practice, at any rate as regards Australia, and is the
accepted designation of the kinship form of natal associations only; for
this limitation there is so far justification, that though they perhaps
play a smaller part in the daily life of the people than the secret
societies of some areas, with their club-houses and other features which
determine the whole form of life, the kinship associations are normally
regulative of marriage and thus exercise an influence in a field of
their own.

Marriage prohibitions in the various races of mankind show an almost
endless diversity of form; but all are based on considerations either of
consanguinity or kinship or on a combination of the two. The distinction
between _consanguinity_ and _kinship_ first demands attention; the
former depends on birth, the latter on the law or custom of the
community, and this distinction is all-important, especially in dealing
with primitive peoples. With ourselves the two usually coincide, though
even in civilised communities there are variations in this respect.
Thus, according to the law of England, the father of an illegitimate
child is not akin to it, though _ex hypothesi_ there is a tie of blood
between them. In England nothing short of an Act of Parliament can make
them akin; but in Scotland the subsequent marriage of the father with
the mother of the child changes the legal status of the latter and makes
it of kin with its father. These two examples make it abundantly evident
that kinship is with us a matter of law.

Among primitive peoples kinship occupies a similar position but with
important differences. As with us, it is a sociological fact; custom,
which has among them far more power than law among us, determines
whether a man is of kin to his mother and her relatives alone, or to his
father and father's relatives, or whether both sets of relatives are
alike of kin to him. In the latter case, where parental kinship
prevails, the limits of the kin are often determined by the facts of
consanguinity. In the two former cases, where kinship is reckoned
through males alone or through females alone, consanguinity has little
or nothing to do with kinship, as will be shown more in detail below.

Kinship is sociological, consanguinity physiological; in thus stating
the case we are concerned only with broad principles. In practice the
idea of consanguinity is modified in two ways and a sociological element
is introduced, which has gone far to obscure the difference between
these two systems of laying the foundations of human society. In the
first place, custom determines the limits within which consanguinity is
supposed to exist; or, in other words, at what point the descendants of
a given ancestor cease to be blood relations. In the second place
erroneous physiological ideas modify the ideas held as to actually
existing consanguine relations, as we conceive them. The latter
peculiarity does not affect the enquiry to any extent; it merely limits
the sphere within which consanguinity plays a part, side by side with
kinship, in moulding social institutions. If an Australian tribe, for
example, distinguishes the actual mother of a child from the other women
who go by the same kinship name, they may or may not develop on parallel
lines their ideas as to the relation of the child and his real father.
Some relation will almost certainly be found to exist between them; but
it by no means follows that it arises from any idea of consanguinity. In
other communities potestas and not consanguinity is held to determine
the relations of the husband of a woman to her offspring; and it is a
matter for careful enquiry how far the same holds good in Australia,
where the fact of fatherhood is in some cases asserted to be
unrecognised by the natives. In speaking of consanguinity therefore, it
must be made quite clear whether consanguinity according to native ideas
or according to our own ideas is meant.

The customary limitations and extensions of consanguinity, on the other
hand, cause more inconvenience. They are of course sometimes combined
with the other kind, which we may term quasi-physiological, but with
this combination we need not deal, as we are concerned to analyse only
on broad lines the nature of these elements. Just as, with us, kinship
and consanguinity largely coincide, so with primitive peoples are the
kinship organisations immense, if one-sided, extensions of blood
relationship, at all events in theory. In many parts of the world a
totem kin traces its descent to a single male or female ancestor; and
even where, as in Australia, this is not the case, blood brotherhood is
expressly asserted of the totem kin[3].

Entry into the totem kin may often be gained by adoption, though not
apparently in Australia, and the blood relationship thus becomes an
artificial one and partakes, even if the initial assumption be accepted


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